About Jamie Dettmer

1411069999178.cached“it did not cause me any trouble to become British, but my becoming an American is my own work” — with apologies to Max Ascoli.


“For some, the most intriguing angle to the Engel story is the question of how the Times got onto it in the first place. The gist of it, after all, had been hiding in plain sight since Dettmer’s piece more than two years ago.” Vanity Fair, April 24, 2015.


This blog is named after the hilltop Lazio village of Celleno. The village sits on the heights running north from Viterbo and heading into Umbria where I keep a vacation home. I am a journalist and broadcaster reporting across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe for Voice of America.

In 2014 I covered Ukraine reporting for several months form the front lines in the Donbas region as well from Kyiv and Crimea. One of my major exclusives was unearthing video footage suggesting Russian-trained shooters from Ukraine’s intelligence service were responsible for the massacre on the Maidan.

Much of my reporting for the past four years has focused on the Syrian civil war, Libya, Iraq and Lebanon and on the rise of the Islamic State terror group. I have made several trips into northern Syria, reporting from the front lines and chronicling the impact of war on civilians and fighters alike. I have reported from flash-points along the border between Lebanon and Syria, from northern Iraq as ISIS made its land grab in the summer of 2014 and all across Libya as well as from Cairo. I covered in 2012 events in Benghazi and broke new ground on the assault on the US mission and the death of ambassador Christopher Stevens. I have reported across the region on the unfolding Mediterranean migration crisis.

For the past four years I’ve been variously based out of Tripoli, Beirut and Istanbul and until this summer was shared by VOA and the Daily Beast. Now I report exclusively for VOA.

During my journalism career I have written on U.S. politics, national security, international affairs and political economy. I have been a foreign correspondent in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa and have run bureaus in Washington DC, Moscow, Kuwait City and Belfast. And I have been on the staffs of The Times (London), Sunday Telegraph, The Hill, the Scotsman Group, Bonnier, Washington Times and the New York Sun. I was a longtime columnist for the Irish Sunday Tribune, Irish Independent Group and Canberra Times. I have written also for Newsweek, the Guardian, Maclean’s, Glasgow Herald, Sunday Herald, Belfast Telegraph, Irish Times, Yorkshire Post, New Statesman, South China Morning Post, the Australian, New York Observer, American Journalism Review, and El Universal (Mexico), and Lebanon’s Daily Star.

I am a regular TV commentator, and have appeared on CNN, France 24, CCTV, ABC and other broadcasting outlets. I have been on panels for the Jamestown Foundation and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

I am a British-born American.

7 thoughts on “About Jamie Dettmer

  1. It’s good to see your material again after a gap of several years. I remember what a terrific job you did reporting on the corruption in the US Customs Service on the southern border. Your investigations for Insight Magazine boldly went where no one else dared to go.

    Perhaps you could do an article or two comparing what you found then with what is happening with the Department of Homeland Security now? You would appear to be uniquely situated to comment on Janet Napolitano’s qualifications to defend western civilization from terrorism, not to mention Alan Bersin’s imitation of Hop Along Cassidy in the old days as US Attorney in San Diego. I don’t recall you having any reluctance to imbarass idiots in the past, please feel free to continue to do so again.

  2. Jamie, it’s been a long time. Good to see you are still active. Do get in touch. Will be in Washington DC in April and it would be good to see you again!

    Nigel Williamson

  3. At a slight tangent … .

    You appear to take it for granted that the Federal government is entitled to ban polygamy. On what basis? Back when it forced the LDS to abandon polygamy, Utah was a territory and so under federal authority, but that is no longer the case. Where in the Constitution does Congress get authority over marriage law? If nowhere, then the 10th Amendment implies that it doesn’t have it.

    The question is, of course, relevant to a more current issue. Suppose Congress passes a law either authorizing or banning same sex marriage. Would you view that as within its constitutional authority? If so, on what basis?

  4. Actually, I didn’t say in the paragraph you are referring to that the federal government does have the constitutional authority (yet) to define marriage beyond the territories. I was referring to three anti-bigamy Acts passed by Congress in the 19th Century concerning the territories and upheld in two subsequent Supreme Court decisions. All 50 states, of course, have laws against polygamy and bigamy on their books.

    The final sentence of my paragraph reads: “Does Beck believe that if the current Mormon president has a sudden revelation and reverses the church’s ban on polygamy, that Congress and law-enforcement agencies then should turn a blind eye and not enforce laws against bigamy against Mormons?”

    There are several challenges to Utah’s state laws prohibiting polygamy and the U.S. Supreme Court may well hear one of them. If the court does the 1862 Morrill Anti-Bigamy Law, signed by Abraham Lincoln, the 1882 Edmunds Act and the later Edmunds-Tucker Act could well come into play, or so legal scholars tell me.

    Interestingly, the Supreme Court declared in its 1879 ruling on a challenge to the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Law brought by Brigham Young’s secretary, George Reynolds, that every civil government had the right to determine whether monogamy or polygamy should be the law of social life under its jurisdiction and it didn’t make a distinction between federal or state government.

    By the way, the Reynolds case was the first constitutional challenge requiring the court to interpret the First Amendment to the Constitution.

    Two further random thoughts prompted by your comment: I am not one of those who subscribes to the notion that the federal government is curtailed from acting, if the Constitution doesn’t enumerate a specific power. I don’t think the Founding Fathers wanted the federal government totally hog-tied by the Constitution and I think they were aware that they couldn’t embrace all future possibiities, developments and challenges.

    Second, one of the of the practical political problems that American libertarians face is that they reject the idea that governments can or should legislate morality. The Founding Fathers did not want morality taken out of politics – nor did they want religion taken out either. They did want a separation of church and state, which is a different thing.

  5. I see you have visited “innocent” Serbian workers in Zintan, but before you wrote about it you should of look it up on Google and you would of find it out that two of them have already been charged or being processed for war crimes in Kosovo and what a coincidence to come to Libya during the war to repair roads. Yeah right!!! Next time do some background checking prior to publishing 😉



  6. I was in Libya and not able to research the backgrounds of all the Serb detainees I met. BLIC newspaper interviewed me for their story and I was not actually reporting. I was an interviewee. And if you read what BLIC quote’s me as saying I make it clear that I was skeptical about how they explained their presence in Libya at the height of the rebellion, how they got from the border to Tripoli and why they would be involved in road construction when none of them had experience building or repairing roads.

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