Please click here for --Frank's concise biography-- which is much shorter than the narrative bio below and is recommended for speaking engagements as well as reposting.
Another option is this --slightly, longer bio-- posted by the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Please click here for Frank's bio in Spanish: Versión en español
Frank Smyth is a freelance journalist specializing in armed conflicts, organized crime and human rights. His first story, "Duarte's Secret Friends," broke "SECRET" U.S. State Department cables revealing the Reagan administration was, in its own words, trying "one by one" to "destroy" the opposition labor movement in El Salvador. Smyth was based in San Salvador from 1988 through 1990, reporting for CBS News Radio and others. He implicated the-then head of the Salvadoran army in ordering the 1989 Jesuit murders, doing so three years before the commander was so accused by a United Nations Truth Commission. Smyth co-wrote with Riordan Roett Dialogue and Armed Conflict: Negotiating the Civil War in El Salvador, and with Tom Gibb El Salvador: Is Peace Possible?
In 1991 Smyth covered the Gulf War from Amman Jordan. Afterward, he covered an Iraqi opposition conference in Beirut, Lebanon and then crossed into northern Iraq, reporting for CBS News, The Economist and The Village Voice. The Voice nominated him for a Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service for his coverage of the post-Gulf War anti-Saddam uprisings. Smyth along with two photojournalists including Alain Buu went missing for 18 days after being captured by Iraqi forces. By then, Iraqi soldiers had already captured and executed Smyth's colleague, photojournalist Gad Gross, along with a Kurdish guerrilla, Bakhtiar Abdel-al-Rahman. Smyth later wrote about the experience in "The Chance to Cry."
Smyth was based in Guatemala from late 1991 through 1992, reporting for The Christian Science Monitor and others. Later, in The Wall Street Journal, he documented the Clinton administration's cover up of the murder of the Guatemala's chief justice to stop the extradition of an Army officer wanted over DEA-brought charges. Smyth has also led field investigations for Human Rights Watch and co-received a Project Censored award for "Arming Genocide in Rwanda" in Foreign Affairs. Earlier, in The New York Times, he documented France's role in arming Rwanda on the eve of its 1994 genocide.
The same year Frank wrote "Box of Pain" in The New Republic about Grateful Dead fans given long sentences for LSD sales. Smyth, before and after the Oklahoma City bombing, exposed in The Village Voice and The Washington Post efforts by pro-gun extremists as well as white supremacists to control and infiltrate, respectively, the National Rifle Association.
In the mid-1990s Smyth worked in Colombia and obtained U.S. Defense Department and Colombian documents to show the diversion of U.S. drug war aid to military death squads, breaking them in collaboration with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. One U.S. military document that Smyth provided to Amnesty International showing U.S. training and arms to abusive Colombian military units was later cited to help pass the Leahy Law.
Frank's work on Rwanda and Colombia, respectively, was referenced or cited in two New York Times lead editorials. Another New York Times editorial quoted his Washington Post piece about extremism within the NRA. He has twice been interviewed on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" program, talking about Iraq and Rwanda.
In 1998, during the U.N. weapons inspection crisis over Iraq, Smyth wrote "Playing the Iran Card" in The Village Voice. In 1998, after the East Africa U.S. embassy bombings, he teamed up with terrorism expert Peter Bergen. Their story in The New Republic--based on separate reporting in Sudan and Afghanistan--was among the first to suggest that Osama bin Laden was behind the simultaneous U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Smyth and another colleague, Jason Vest, stayed on the al-Qaeda leader's trail in a Voice piece later heralded as "Bin Laden three years before 9/11."
Automobile sent Smyth the same year to cover "Heroes of the Revolution" or the Cuban mechanics who keep classic American cars running without spare parts. In Salon.com he later wrote a Letter from Havana about the Communist regime's new tolerance of emerging gay culture. One 1999 piece in IntellectualCapital.com, "The Genocide Doctrine," was later republished in the book William J. Clinton. In 1999 Smyth contributed to Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know.
In 2000 Smyth became Washington Representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists. At the same time, he worked in Colombia for the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. In 2001 Smyth wrote CPJ's investigative report on Colombian paramilitary attacks against journalists, "Bad Press." He later wrote in Newsday about the Bush administration's handling of the homemade video implicating bin Laden in 9/11 attacks. In 2002 in The American Prospect, Smyth wrote ""Saddam's Real Opponents" later republished in The Iraq War Reader.
Smyth wrote "Iraq's Forgotten Majority" in The New York Times in October 2002, or less than six months before U.S.-led invasion, becoming perhaps the first national author to point out that most Iraqis are Shia Muslims who are also likely to aspire to power in any post-Saddam Iraq. One month later, in Newsday, he debunked the notion that Saddam and bin Ladin were allies, as Bin Laden has long derided Saddam as a false Muslim. On the eve of the invasion, Frank wrote “Iraq’s Eclipsed Red Star” about the longstanding enmity between Saddam's Ba'athist regime and the Iraqi Communist Party.
After the U.S.-led invasion, Smyth wrote in The International Herald Tribune about the search for the remains of people including Gad Gross still missing in Iraq in the wake of the 1991 uprisings. Later, in the Los Angeles Times, Smyth compared his witnessing of torture by Saddam's guards with U.S. military interrogation and torture practices.
By 2003, Smyth also became CPJ's Journalist Security Coordinator, writing a dangerous assignment guidebook later translated into Spanish and Arabic. In 2004, he wrote in The Texas Observer about a nonprofit “law enforcement” front group created by the NRA and others to influence elections. The following year in The Texas Observer Smyth quoted DEA officials acknowledging Guatemala's late chief justice 12 years after his covered-up murder.
Smyth wrote “The Congressman and the Dictator’s Daughter” about Illinois Rep. Jerry Weller’s conflict of interest as a member of a subcommittee for Latin America who was married to a powerful Guatemalan congresswoman in 2006 in the Chicago Reader. Smyth documented Congressman Weller’s undisclosed beachfront properties in Nicaragua in another Chicago Reader story, which, after also being pursued by the Chicago Tribune, led Weller to leave Congress.
In Newsday Smyth wrote “A war ‘shock and awe’ didn’t win” about Iraq, and another piece about the fallout for Israel. In 2007 for CPJ Smyth wrote about the California Bay-area murder of “Local Newsman” Chauncey Bailey. Smyth blogged in TheHill.com about Tunisia Caucus’ apologies for the nation's despot. Smyth wrote “El Salvador’s Cold War Martyrs” in 2009, pegged to the 20th anniversaries of the both the nation’s Jesuit murders and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2010 published Smyth's study, “Painting the Maya Red: Military Doctrine and Speech in Guatemala’s Genocidal Acts.” He later wrote a CPJ blog about a court order against Crude, an evironmental documentary film. Harvard International Review published his piece, "Murdering with Impunity," in the fall of 2010. Frank also blogs for outlets including NiemanWatchdog.
In 2011 Smyth left the Committee to Protect Journalists full-time to become CPJ's Senior Advisor for Journalist Security and blogger on journalist security. He is the main author of CPJ's Journalist Security Guide released in 2012 in languages including Spanish, French and Arabic. In November 2011, Smyth founded Global Journalist Security, a new consulting and training firm dedicated to bringing appropriate and effective security skills to journalists living and working in less developed nations. His blog post, "Do news blackouts help journalists held captive?" was widely noted throughout the industry.
Frank continues to report and break news. In January 2013, Mother Jones ran his story, "EXCLUSIVE: Unmasking the NRA's Inner Circle," showing that the chairman of the NRA's Nominating Committee for its governing board elections was a longtime NRA director who lived just a few miles from Newtown, Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of America's worst gun tragedy, and that one of the committee members quietly serving under her was the CEO of the firearms consortium that made the AR-15 rifle used inside the school. The "Lean Forward" MSNBC television network soon made him a contributor.
Today Smyth is an MSNBC Contributor, CPJ's Senior Advisor for Journalist Security and Executive Director of Global Journalist Security.
Frank has taught journalism, global media, news history and political history at American University and the Corcoran College of Art + Design. He is an alumnus of Boston College as well as the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.