Josh Gerstein is a senior White House reporter for POLITICO, specializing in legal and national security issues. Gerstein joined the pathbreaking political news outlet just before President Barack Obama’s inauguration and has reported extensively on how Obama’s pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for war-on-terror captives went awry. His articles also have explored how expectations that the Obama administration would dramatically reform the legal architecture of the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policies have proven to be mistaken.
Gerstein has covered the Supreme Court nominations of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, the Obama administration’s little-heralded crackdown on leaks and the surprisingly icy relationship between the press and the Obama White House.
From 2003 to 2008, Gerstein was The New York Sun’s national reporter and covered national politics, terrorism trials and other legal stories of national significance. He was one of few national reporters to provide in-depth coverage of the legal saga of Sami Al-Arian, a former Florida college professor who has spent nearly two decades under the scrutiny of federal prosecutors over his ties to Palestinian Islamic jihad. Gerstein also covered the trial of Lewis Libby, the Bush White House aide who was convicted on obstruction of justice charges in the investigation of the CIA leak and who later had his jail sentence commuted by the president.
Gerstein worked for ABC News from 1995 to 2003. He was what has come to be called an embed on the 1996 presidential bid of former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas). Gerstein later spent five years covering the White House for ABC as a producer and correspondent. He was on the White House beat during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and when President George W. Bush faced the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In the weeks that followed, Gerstein was among the first to report on a policy that made many immigration cases closed to the public. He also wrote for the New Republic about the Justice Department’s aggressive use of material witness warrants to detain those suspected of having ties to terrorism.
From 2002 to 2003, Gerstein was the Beijing correspondent for ABC. He made a series of trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, reporting for programs such as “Nightline” on the messages received by the families of Guantanamo prisoners and the precautions taken to protect U.S. diplomats. He reported for “World News Tonight” on the SARS crisis from the deserted streets of China’s capital and from the rural farms in Guangzhou, where the virus was thought to have originated.
Prior to joining ABC, Gerstein worked in CNN’s investigative unit and covered terrorism-related stories, such as the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Gerstein attended Harvard College and received a Bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in government. He’s also the author of a 1991 Massachusetts law, requiring college and university police departments to keep a public log of arrests and reported crimes.
While not a lawyer, Gerstein’s an expert on the Freedom of Information Act and has pursued several lawsuits seeking records on federal contracting, allegations of abuse of detainees at Guantanamo, use of the sneak-and-peek provisions of the Patriot Act, and the government’s handling of leaks of classified information.