Ronald Kessler in 2005.
|Born||1943 (age 70–71)
New York, New York, USA
|Period||1964 - present|
|Subject||Intelligence, current affairs|
Ronald Borek Kessler (1943) is an American journalist and author of 20 non-fiction books about the U.S. Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Seven of his books have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Kessler was born in New York City and grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts. He attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts from 1962 to 1964 before embarking on a career in journalism. Kessler is married and has two children.
Kessler began his career in 1964 as a reporter with the Worcester Telegram, followed by three years as an investigative reporter and editorial writer with the Boston Herald. A series he wrote while there was instrumental in the installation of a better plaque commemorating the location of Boston's Pre-Revolutionary-War Liberty Tree. In 1968, he joined the Wall Street Journal as a reporter in the New York bureau. During these years, his reporting won awards from the American Political Science Association (public affairs reporting award, 1965), United Press International (1967) and the Associated Press (Sevellon Brown Memorial award, 1967).
In 1970 Kessler joined the Washington Post as an investigative reporter and continued in that position until 1985. In 1972, he won a George Polk Memorial award for Community Service because of two series of articles he wrote—one on conflicts of interest and mismanagement at Washington area non-profit hospitals, and a second series exposing kickbacks among lawyers, title insurance companies, realtors, and lenders in connection with real estate settlements, inflating the cost of buying homes. He was also named a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine that year. In 1979, Kessler won a second Polk Award, this one for National Reporting for a series of articles exposing corruption in the General Services Administration; he won even though his editor, Ben Bradlee, had not submitted his stories for consideration. Kessler's Washington Post stories reporting that Lena Ferguson had been denied membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) because she is black led to her acceptance by the DAR and widespread changes in its policies to increase membership by blacks.
Since leaving the Washington Post, Kessler has authored 20 nonfiction books on intelligence and current affairs. Seven of his books reached the hardcover nonfiction New York Times Best Seller list: The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents 2014),The Secrets of the FBI (2011), In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect (2009), described by USA Today as "the inside scoop on those stern-faced guys who protect the president," Laura Bush (2006), a biography of the first lady; A Matter of Character (2004), an admiring look at George W. Bush's presidency;The Season: Inside Palm Beach and America's Richest Society (1999), an investigative report on the lives of multi-billionaires in Palm Beach, Florida; and Inside the White House (1995), a behind-the-scenes expose of presidencies from Lyndon B. Johnson to Bill Clinton.."
Kessler’s book, The FBI: Inside the World’s Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency, led to the dismissal of William S. Sessions as FBI director over his abuses. In his book The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI, Kessler presented the first credible evidence that Bob Woodward’s and Carl Bernstein’s Watergate source dubbed Deep Throat was FBI official W. Mark Felt. The book said that Woodward paid a secret visit to Felt in California and had his limousine park ten blocks away from Felt’s home so as not to attract attention. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show said Kessler's The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack is a "very interesting look inside the FBI and CIA, which I think is unprecedented."  The Washington Times said of the book, "Ronald Kessler is a veteran Washington-based investigative journalist on national security. His unparalleled access to top players in America's counterterrorism campaign allowed him a rare glimpse into their tradecraft, making The Terrorist Watch a riveting account." 
Kessler's book, In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect, was described by USA Today as a "fascinating exposé... high-energy read... amusing, saucy, often disturbing anecdotes about the VIPs the Secret Service has protected and still protects... [accounts come] directly from current and retired agents (most identified by name, to Kessler's credit)... Balancing the sordid tales are the kinder stories of presidential humanity... [Kessler is a] respected journalist and former Washington Post reporter... an insightful and entertaining story." Newsweek said of the book, "Kessler’s such a skilled storyteller, you almost forget this is dead-serious nonfiction... An afterword reveals new details about Kessler’s discovery of a third uninvited intruder during last year’s White House State Dinner... The behind-the-scenes anecdotes are delightful, but Kessler has a bigger point to make, one concerning why the under-appreciated Secret Service deserves better leadership." FactCheck.org said, “His [Kessler’s] book quotes both flattering and unflattering observations about presidents of both parties.”
On April 14, 2012, Kessler broke the story that the Secret Service had removed and sent home agents assigned to protect President Obama during his trip to Cartagena, Colombia, because they had been involved in hiring prostitutes there.
Kessler's book The Secrets of the FBI presents revelations about the Russian spy swap, Marilyn Monroe's death, Vince Foster’s suicide, the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, and J. Edgar Hoover’s sexual orientation. For the first time, it tells how the FBI caught spy Robert Hanssen in its midst and how secret teams of FBI agents break into homes, offices, and embassies to plant bugging devices without getting caught and shot as burglars.
On November 9, 2012, Kessler broke the story that an FBI investigation led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as CIA director. The concern was that Petraeus had put himself in a compromised position, opening himself to potential blackmail by foreign intelligence services. Kessler's subsequent story on Nov. 11 said an FBI source had told him on Oct. 10 that agents on the case were outraged because they were told by senior officials that the FBI was going to hold their findings in limbo until after the election, when Petraeus would be told to resign. The day after the election, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of National Intelligence, told the CIA director to resign.
Kessler's latest book is The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents. The book debuted at #4 on the hardcover nonfiction New York Times Best Seller list. In the book Kessler reports that Vice President Joe Biden enjoys skinny dipping, offending female agents, and that being assigned to his detail is considered by agents to be the second worst protective assignment in the Secret Service after being assigned to Hillary Clinton's detail. 
Kessler writes Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Politico opinion pieces, including “Surveillance: An American Success Story” and "The Real Joe McCarthy," which attacked efforts by some conservative writers to vindicate the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. 
After National Public Radio (NPR) fired Juan Williams as a news analyst, Kessler wrote "The Juan Williams I Know". Based on his book The Secrets of the FBI, Kessler wrote “Russia Tried to Swap Spies Hanssen, Ames”. After the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon, Kessler wrote "Behind the Boston Bombing Case".
From 2006 to 2012, Kessler was chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax, a conservative website and magazine. He wrote the Washington Insider column, and his stories for Newsmax included interviews with President Bush, Donald Trump, Sam Donaldson, Andy Card, CIA Director Michael Hayden, Mitt Romney, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Vice President Dick Cheney, Jim Cramer, Deborah Norville, Dana Perino, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Brian Lamb, Juan Williams, Edwin Meese III, Condoleezza Rice, and Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. For his Newsmax columns, Kessler won the first Robert Novak Journalist of the Year Award.
On January 4, 2010, Kessler wrote a Newsmax article revealing that the Secret Service allowed a third uninvited guest to attend President Obama’s state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh besides party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi on Nov. 24, 2009. The Secret Service confirmed the third intrusion "following a report by Ronald Kessler, a journalist who writes for Newsmax.com", the Washington Post said. "Kessler reported that the agency discovered the third crasher after examining surveillance video of arriving guests and found one tuxedoed man who did not match any name on the guest list."
In an article for Newsmax, on March 16, 2008, Kessler incorrectly reported, based on a previous Newsmax story by a freelance writer, that Senator Barack Obama attended a service at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ on July 22, 2007, during which Rev. Jeremiah Wright gave a sermon that blamed world suffering on "white arrogance". The Obama campaign denied that Obama had attended the church on the day that sermon was delivered and other reporters discovered that Obama was in fact in transit to Miami, Florida on that day. Newsmax posted a clarification while standing by the story, suggesting that perhaps the sermon occurred on a different day in July. Shortly after the controversy broke, Kessler confirmed to TPM that he attempted to remove information documenting it from his Wikipedia biography.
In December 2008, Kessler wrote a column debunking claims that Obama was not born in the U.S. He also wrote an article reporting that intelligence officials are impressed by how Obama takes intelligence briefings.
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- Kessler, Ronald. "Secret Service Tattletales?". FactCheck.org. Retrieved July 19, November 14, 2013.
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- "The Secrets of the FBI by Ronald Kessler" (Press release). Crown Publishing Group. August 1, 2011. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- "FBI secret ops help prevent new 9/11: Author". CBS News. August 2, 2011. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- Kessler, Ronald (November 9, 2012). "FBI Investigation Led to Petraeus Resignation". Newsmax. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
- Kessler, Ronald (November 13, 2012). "FBI Suppressed Petraeus Scandal to Protect President". Newsmax. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
- |title =New York Times Best Seller list|[=http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/hardcover-nonfiction/list.html "New York Times Best Seller list"]. August 16, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
- Payne, Sebastian. "Joe Biden, just a regular guy who goes skinny dipping". www.washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
- "Fry Lecture Series Brings Ronald Kessler to Franklin Pierce University" (Press release). February 24, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
- Kessler, Ronald (August 23, 2013). "Surveillance: An American Success Story". Politico. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- Kessler, Ronald (April 22, 2008). "The Real Joe McCarthy". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 25, 2008.
- Kessler, Ronald (October 25, 2010). "The Juan Williams I Know". Newsmax
- Kessler, Ronald (August 1, 2011).“Russia Tried to Swap Spies Hanssen, Ames”. “Newsmax”.
- Kessler, Ronald (May 13, 2013). "Behind the Boston Bombing Case". "Main Justice".
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- Kessler, Ronald (January 4, 2010). "Secret Service Let Third Intruder Into White House". Newsmax. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- Roberts, Roxanne; Argetsinger, Amy (January 4, 2010). "Secret Services confirms report of 'third crasher' at White House state dinner". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- Kessler, Ronald (March 16, 2008). "Obama Attended Hate America Sermon". Newsmax. Archived from the original on March 24, 2008. Retrieved March 17, 2008.
- "Schedule Puts Obama in Miami During July '07 Wright Sermon". Fox News. March 17, 2008. Archived from the original on March 18, 2008. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- Sargent, Greg (March 17, 2008). "Newsmax's Kessler Scrubs Reference To His Obama Factual Blunder From His Wiki Page". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved March 18, 2008.
- Kessler, Ronald (December 8, 2008), "Obama Was Born in the United States", Newsmax
- Kessler, Ronald (December 11, 2008), "Obama is Quick Study in Intelligence Briefings", Newsmax
- Kessler's personal website
- The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on In the President's Secret Service
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- Booknotes interview with Kessler on The FBI: Inside the World's Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency, September 12, 1993.