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Bill's Column: John Walcott Speech

This coming Wednesday on PBS, you'll meet John Walcott, Washington Bureau Chief of Knight Ridder, now McClatchy, and one of the few voices of skepticism about the Iraq War from the very beginning. Here's an excerpt from a speech John gave, as he wrestles with how the Iraq war was mishandled:

I, think that we're in the mess we're in in Iraq not only because the administration invaded Iraq with too few troops, without significant international support, with no exit strategy and by diverting resources from the unfinished war against al Qaida, but also because two other American institutions fell down on the job. First the Congress. What we hear today, from some Democratic presidential candidates and others, is this: "If I had known then what I know today, I would never have voted to go to war." My response is this: You could have known then what you know today, and you should have known then what you know today. It was your job, and no part of your job is more important than a decision to send some of our finest young men and women to war.

...the second institution that failed us is my own, the press. There were much bigger problems with the media after 9/11 than just too-cozy relationships with the wrong sources and timidity about challenging a popular president in the wake of an attack on our country. There was simple laziness: Much of what the administration said, especially about Iraq and al Qaida, simply made no sense, yet very few reporters bothered to check it out. They were stenographers; they were not reporters.

-John Walcott, Bureau Chief, McClatchy Washington Bureau

You can read the full speech here. As I read your comments on this blog, it seems many of you are wrestling with the same issues:

On April 18, 2007 09:10 AM, Jill H. wrote:

I have a son who will soon be returning for his second deployment to Falluja, and a husband who has retired from the Navy. I am in no way saying that I disrespect the job our military personnel do. But I do believe that freedom is not free - and it is our duty to fully examine our motives, and the impact we have on people around the world. We have a moral responsibility for our actions.

One thing I find most frightening is the comments from people (who often have never served in the military) who believe that survival means destroying others as a preventative measure against harm, and that, if you are too cowardly to accept that, they would just as soon kill you too, since you aren't worth being a part of their tribe. Is this really what it means to be an American?

Good question Jill, what do you all think?


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Hello, Dear MR. Bill Moyers,

I am proud of you and your work and I thank you very much for what you have been doing. There are some unanswered mystery questions I like to ask.
1-The evidences were given by the bush administration prior to the attach on Iraq, should they were even true at the time like, buying aluminum tubes or having a roof built over a place or having a few chemical lab trucks going around Baghdad, were not good enough basis to go and attack an almost defenseless country with many thousand pound bombs fresh and hot from the factories may be friend to the new cons, dropping over cities, killing, injuring, hundreds of thousands of people not to mention the horrifying experiences of millions of people for many weeks under bombardments and continuation of killing defenders of Iraq calling them enemy or terrorists for so many years.
2-My next question is what would happen if the US attacks UK I am sure they would fight the Americans to the last drop of their blood with what ever they might have in their possessions including planting IED, wouldnt they? Can you call them terrorists?
3-Remember the anthrax? Five people died of exposure to anthrax shortly after 9/11, befor the war!
I like you to help me to understand how in the world it is possible for a country (The most powerful super power on the face of the earth since the time immemorial) like USA, with the most warrior president in power not to look for and find those terrorists, responsible, in this case inside of his own country, after so many years, while looking for terrorists in faraway lands killing hundreds of thousands of people?
Aren't you interested in solving this mystery to find out really who was behind this one and why?
Do you think the terrorist involved in this one ran out of anthrax or they just decided five was enough?
4-Have you notice almost all who are hired in the bush administration are really shorter or at least not taller than him (Bush)


Thanks for giving us back faith in journalism in America...

Now let's give a try to Greg Palast who has been effectively cut off from America’s media although he’s good enough for the BBC, The Guardian and Harpers Magazine.

Proof of concept…

Be Careful What You Say
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=98845005530349156&hl=en

Main reason he’s been blackmailed is that he was the first to pointed out that the emperor was naked and that before you export democracy , you should try having it at home !

Lynching by Laptop Part 2 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=29166033447680735&q=Lynching+by+Laptop

Meanwhile…

Dying Regime
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=378229989470389403&q=Dying+Regime

PEACE !

very well put minga!

The story of conflicts, wars is the same all over the world for centuries, we might have progressed in terms of technology, however, the evidence shows, we haven't really progressed spiritually as we as human beings still let our reptillian brains overpower our actions even in our daily lives.


I think the conflict outside is a reflection of conflict within each of us and until and unless each of us take the responsibility to go inside and look at one's own conflict, we as human species will keep on killing and dying in the name of God and freedom.

This means one not only has to be completely honest with others, rather one has to be brutually honest with oneself (without judging) which probably is the most difficult thing to do because it means letting go of our egos which actually originated as a self defense mechanism in human beings, however, does not really serve the purpose in the long run. The only way one can get rid of this overpowering ego is by development of the self.

The question is does our societies, cultures, educational systems allow and help us develop this sense of self, by teaching self-sufficiency and I would say the answer is NO!! Then what would it take for us to move in this direction so that we as human beings can evolve to a species with higher compassion that does not run wars any longer and learns to live in harmony with itself and with its surroundings?????

Hello Bill!
I too am very grateful that you are back in the public eye.
My faith has been waning in the ability of my fellow Americans to see beyond the lies and propaganda of the Bush Regime.
Hopefully your new show will give them that glimmer of TRUTH that is so sorely missing in our corporate owned media, and I believe that if the people know the TRUTH, they will become outraged and hopefully will take action to demand an end to the madness of the current powers that be.
Thank You for replenishing my faith that this might happen before Bush and his cronies take us into World War Three.
namaste'
Kellie

Molly Ivens once gave a simple explanation for the political "success" of GWB. In Texas, to be successful, you must exhibit three attributes: machismo, born again Christianity and anti-intellectualism. GWB presented himself in all three categories as well as can be done. That's what Texas wanted but it seems that the entire country was ripe for a dumb, macho evangelico. Al Gore was portrayed and perceived as the antithesis of what America wanted in a president and Ronald Reagan's "beloved" imagery had become the presidential target, never mind that he was an actor. My point is that first and foremost, the people of this country allowed an absurd person to occupy the oval office and when 9/11 occurred the American people allowed this fool of a man to proceed with this sham war in Iraq. It was because Americans were and are politically naive indifferent and an there was an absence of fundamental and factual understanding of American civics,(leading to that false but overpowering display of flag waving patriotism). To me it was the American people that let this happen. And to be blunt, it is because Americans are dumb and incurious, an intended result of our public education system. The people let this happen. In the last 25 years the news media, having been purchased, fell under the control of corporate interest, and pointing out the lack of impact that Knight Ridder had during the run-up misses the point. The point: Americans, by and large are a disingenuous lot, are easily led and can be fooled over and over again. I remember that "Alexander Butterfield" moment in the Watergate hearings. Forget about Woodward and Bernstien, and Deep Throat. It was John Dean standing his ground and the TAPES! That was reality slapping us in the face so hard that we were unable to let the Nixon group pull it's fast one. And finally, what a disappointment our congress has been. The footage of Hillary that was shown, how deeply disappointing it is to see here singing the "go to war" chorus line. Thank you Bill Moyers. You are extraordinary.

This wonderful documentary should have come out 3 years ago, right before the election. Why? Because PBS is also controlled by the government and the corporations. There's no independent media in this country anymore unless you start one. Get a blog, grab a DV camera, make your own news. STOP BEING FED!

Nothing new is revealed here. Most viewers who watched "Buying the War" probably already knew of the great extent that the American press had become the mouthpiece of the current administration, having had experienced it personally. At the same time that the American media was unquestioningly helping to drumbeat the administration's path to war, newspaper readership was steadily declining as many Americans desperately searched the Internet for other, less biased foreign sources for their news as it became apparent to them that their former traditional sources could no longer be trusted. For me personally, I haven't watched CBS News or subscribed to the New York Times for years now, a person who grew up with Walter Cronkite and the Times and who thought that they were two of the most reliable sources for honestly evaluating the stories behind the hype. The sole person in the mainstream media who brought some honest discussion during the rush to war was Phil Donahue. Until his show was canceled, he was my breath of fresh air that told me that the American media hadn't become a complete tool for fascism yet and that there was still hope that it wouldn't. This documentary should be of less importance today for us, as it has by now become completely evident to most Americans that the reasons for the war were just unsupported lies, than it should be to the next generation. It should be viewed and taught in our high schools as a lesson to show how quickly and easily our much-touted "American free press" can be subverted. As citizens, we must always seek the truth if we are going to prosper as a nation. This means always being discerning of our press and demanding that the news media be honest brokers in reporting the news or they will continue to not have our patronage.

Thank you for your honesty and pleased that you gave a brief update as to the media situation now...2007. How about that for a future show? It seems to me that the media is still pandering. The latest is the global warming. Only now are they jumping on the bandwagon. Did they get approval to finally address this situation by our goverment? You are and have always been a breath of fresh air. Thank you..P.S Do you think that Fox would be amenable to showing part of your program?

I am thrilled to Bill Moyers back on air again. I agree with many that the media has been a big part of the problem. In my opinion the government went to war against the american people using the media has a propaganda machine. I think we the people can solve this problem by buying back a major network via a non-profit organization. I have posted this idea several times on many boards over the past seven years. Take the profit motive out of the equation and report the truth. This would work.

Thank you, Mr. Moyers, for your excellent program on the near-total breakdown of the journalistic corporate mainstream media of communication during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq. With the exception of Messrs. Landay, Strobel and Walcott nearly the entirety of the national-level media appears to have abdicated its responsibility to truthfully inform the public.

"Where are the editors?" has been my question for the past three decades. Approval of subjective headlines, of reports wherein facts are shaped to fit the approved story-line, of "sheep factor" writing (wherein the report attempts via subtleties of propaganda to lead readers to a particular conclusion) and a general inattention to actual editing of news copy have been the only characteristics one can ascribe to "big-shot media" editors for many years now.

I spent a couple of decades practicing journalism in magazines, newspapers, radio and television; and although I never worked on-staff for national-level news outlets, I did learn a great deal about how the journalistic media of communication work. Until your recent report, I felt journalism had been dead since the day Ronald Reagan set foot in the White House; but the Knight Ridder News Service editor and reporters whom you interviewed have given me hope that journalism still lives; and for that, I thank you.

I am from southern Louisiana, a very conservative state where mostly everyone supports anything the Bush Administration has to say. The idea to invade Iraq was fishy to me from day one. Almost every time I’ve stated this, I’ve been laughed off as ‘flakey’ and ‘extremely Liberal.’ I have even been told that I’m buying into conspiracies if I believe Sadaam was not connected to 9/11. Every time I have stated my opinion on this I'm laughed at. But no one has been able to tell me the reason or 'smoking gun' if you will, for going into Iraq. I've e-mailed this story to everyone I know, so now maybe they will listen to me! Thank you so much for doing your job as a journalist and bringing Americans the REAL story.

Sincerely,

Alexandra Owens
Age: 22
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Thanks for presenting a very depressing story that needs to be told about how we got into the mess in Iraq. We count on the press and those in leadership in both political parties to challenge each other so that we discover the truth. It didn't happen. Now, what is going to be done about it? Who is going to take the leadership to hold accountable those who failed us?

Hi Bill

So good to see you back on PBS. I know the circumstances weren't the best when you left, but it looks like the truth is beginning to surface. The bricks are falling from the foundation of the corporate government and thanks to excellent programs like this more and more of the public is becoming informed. Personally...I believe that we should all be standing up sharing all that we know to whoever will listen, and lately I've noticed that people don't look at me like I'm a free radical...lol

Thank you Mr. Moyers - for the show & for the chance to connect with the thoughts of others.

I'm looking forward to Fridays show with Jon Stewart - I've thought of him as a 'cultural therapist'. He has the ability to provide that save space needed for even the most difficult guest to share his world view with us - something we need alot more of these days.

if you feel moved to take action - please consider the following - the complete text of this conference (from 4/24/07?) can be found here:

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/21728

and a small excerpt is:

Because I believe the vice president's conduct of office has been destructive to the founding purposes of our nation. Today, I have introduced House Resolution 333, Articles of Impeachment Relating to Vice President Richard B. Cheney. I do so in defense of the rights of the American people to have a government that is honest and peaceful.

It became obvious to me that this vice president, who was a driving force for taking the United States into a war against Iraq under false pretenses, is once again rattling the sabers of war against Iran with the same intent to drive America into another war, again based on false pretenses.

Let me cite from the articles of impeachment that were introduced this afternoon, Article I, that Richard Cheney had purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and the Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States armed forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security.

Thank you Mr. Moyers - for the show & for the chance to connect with the thoughts of others.

I'm looking forward to Fridays show with Jon Stewart - I've thought of him as a 'cultural therapist'. He has the ability to provide that save space needed for even the most difficult guest to share his world view with us - something we need alot more of these days.

if you feel moved to take action - please consider the following - the complete text of this conference (from 4/24/07?) can be found here:

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/21728

and a small excerpt is:

Because I believe the vice president's conduct of office has been destructive to the founding purposes of our nation. Today, I have introduced House Resolution 333, Articles of Impeachment Relating to Vice President Richard B. Cheney. I do so in defense of the rights of the American people to have a government that is honest and peaceful.

It became obvious to me that this vice president, who was a driving force for taking the United States into a war against Iraq under false pretenses, is once again rattling the sabers of war against Iran with the same intent to drive America into another war, again based on false pretenses.

Let me cite from the articles of impeachment that were introduced this afternoon, Article I, that Richard Cheney had purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and the Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States armed forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security.

Thank God there are people like Bill Moyers and the Knight Ridder reporters who believe that the facts, the truth is more important than selling ad space, when deciding to go to war.

Stu Krous

Thank God there are people like Bill Moyers and the Knight Ridder reporters who believe that the facts, the truth is more important than selling ad space, when deciding to go to war.

Stu Krous

Thank God there are people like Bill Moyers and the Knight Ridder reporters who believe that the facts, the truth is more important than selling ad space, when deciding to go to war.

Stu Krous

Thank God there are people like Bill Moyers and the Knight Ridder reporters who believe that the facts, the truth is more important than selling ad space, when deciding to go to war.

Stu Krous

I knew it was all lies when
the administration said that
lack of evidence of their
claims was proof that Saddam Hussein was hiding something.

Heads I win, Tails you lose.
How can anyone be so stupid as
to fall for that? Yet the
majority of the press pretended to be that stupid.

Excellent program!! Should be required viewing for every citizen. Kudos to Knight-Ridder for doing the right thing.

Nice show. Thanks.

As people lined up to get Bill Maher's book "New Rules" signed I recall one woman telling Bill "Thank you and your sense of humor, you are keeping us all sane." The same holds true for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. They are providing a much needed service for us today in these heady war times. If we fail to see the outrageousness of the fakery of the man behind the curtain in the control room, we lose.

And once again thank god for people like Bill Moyers for pulling that curtain back to let us all see for own selves just exactly how the curtain works.

I am very disappointed that our local Houston Texas PBS station is not showing "Buying Iraq" tonight, Wednesday April 25th, even though it is on the cable schedule and on the PBS website schedule. I wonder whose decision it was to show another program? And why?

Hi Nathan, good comments.

For example, you contend that the Moyers (it's spelled with an S) program has two major errors.

The first is that the media was in lock-step in the march to the war in Iraq. They were not in the case of Iraq, but were in the case of Afghanistan. Without checking, I can't remember a single major news organization that supported the invasion of Iraq.

Perhaps you should have checked. In fact, all major news organizations beat the drums for war in Iraq. I assume you don't read the New York Times, but I can asssure you it was strongly pro-war. The Washington Post was as well, plus of course Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and PBS. Each of the TV conglomerates broadcast uncritical examinations of the White House's lies.

But what I find most striking is your theory that if the news media would begin to broadcast what you believe, the situation would improve. That sounds to me very much like a religious belief. It has no basis in fact. The problem with having news media report what you believe is that people who care about facts will ignore those media, and find the facts somewhere else (such as a Bill Moyers program).

Certainly the world is not purely factual; much that matters cannot be proven true or false. But there are facts, and there are falsehoods. Belief has no ability to change this; and believing things that are provably false is unlikely to lead to anything that looks like success.

Carroll - your comments come much closer to my sense of this situation. There seems to me to be a sense of reporters unwilling to speak clearly about the facts for fear of losing their jobs. I liked Bill M's comments on Amy Goodman today about Jon Stewart being the 'Mark Twain' of today - I think humor has become the only shield against the pressures of the 'corporate line'. Jon is willing to talk with the neo-cons without being too threatening (at least face-to-face). I don't buy the argument that it's 'easier/cheaper' to hire the thumb-suckers than it is to run a bureau - I think there is a more active pressure involved - that only allows the thumb-suckers will be allowed to have corporate sponsored jobs.

I've been thinking alot about Ghandi's message of self-sufficiency lately. I don't think we're going to be free of the 'party line' until we stop believing we need the 'party privileges' to sustain our lives.

I'm looking forward to the show - but I'm not sure it's going to dig deeply enough to expose all the rot however...

Thank you Bill for returning to a weekly format to inspire a deeper, more constructive dialogue on today's issues than the American public has been able to have since your "retirement."

As I read through the comments regarding the media coverage of the war, it took me back 20 years to my Masters of Arts program in Mass Communications. One course was on media economics, and I am sadden to realize what I was seeing then as one possible outcome of the consolidation of the various forms of "old line" media: the buying and selling of journalistic integrity to the highest bidder. The highest bidder was not only limited to money but influence peddlers.

As the "old line" media have become more consolidated and, in some ways, more incestuous, they have not been able to fight off the temptations of the influence peddlers because the media need the peddlers support to keep them in business.

Unfortunately, the American people have been promulgators in this problem because we have allowed the influence peddlers via the media to tell us what is "really important": Paris Hilton over Iraq, Rappers' bling over Darfur, the latest Idol scandal over global warming. Until the American people are ready to liberate the media from celebrity "info"tainment and the influence peddlers' "info"ganda with imbedded journalists and surface-based spokespeople, we will have media which will bend to the will of the few and mighty.

Woodward and Bernstein are ghosts of themselves. The Pentagon Papers would not see the light of day in today's media. Is this what we truly want?

This is a small quibble with Walcott's statement, but it goes to the heart of one of his justifications: Bush was not at all a "popular President", nor did he have a "mandate" to govern, as he kept claiming in those days. He had just lost the election and the Supreme Court had recently anointed and crowned him to be President. These facts invalidate any of Walcott's later points that rest on this rationalization.
Nor do I believe his characterization of the press's lack of competency (in doing their job as a free and independent press) as "simple laziness". There were multiple occasions when the US press only had to pick up on the investigative work that was being done for them by the foreign press; for example, it was nearly impossible to find any investigation of the Downing Street Memo anywhere except on the WWW and journalistic-type blogs. It seems that the US press had to go out of their way to AVOID the information of which a good part of the American public was aware.
I look forward to seeing the episode tonight.

It's difficult to state, and much more difficult to prominently and widely publish reasonable concerns about the un-Christian effects that political Christianization has had, and continues to have, on our current militarism in Central Asia and on the increasingly Orwellian nature of "mainstream" and "alternative" journalism.

Jill H.'s previously posted comments of April 24 similarly mention concern about the role of "Christian fundamentalism" in our government's policies, and I strongly believe that she is onto something very important therein.

While I generally agree with Mr. Walcott's reflections on the Iraq war and the state of journalism, I think that his insider status within the field may still serve to distance him from just how bad things are within the "fourth estate." Frankly, I find about all of the mainstream media untrustworthy and manipulative, and if that isn't bad enough, I find that a disturbing proportion of so-called "alternative" media are nothing more than faux-alternatives that undermine our culture and social fabric.

I consider you, Mr. Moyers, a very good [and Christian] man, but I really wish you would focus much more on the increasingly obvious negative outcomes that are arising from global Dominionism as a policy of our government. It seems patently clear to me that future historians will come to regard all of the American militarism of the 20th and 21st centuries of the Common or "Christian" Era to have been nothing much different from the older Christian Crusades of "Middle Age-d" Europe. And there are some descendents of our Native American population who can reasonablty assert that American Christianization efforts were very much matters of policy even before the so-called "20th Century." I submit this to you respectfully, fully cognizant of the fact that what I've said may bother some readers, but I only do it from a motivation to bring about what I sincerely feel is the sort of United States envisioned by the best of our founding fathers - in the words of our current president's father, "a kinder, gentler nation."

I just read John Walcott's entire speech. It is a pointed example of the sad state of media thinking if it represents the best thinking on offer. If there was one newspaper that I could respect for journalistic integrity, I would buy and read it every day out of loyalty. Instead, I rely on Internet compendiums of news stories that are available - predominately from Information Clearing House. Walcott seems to be blind to this as a reason why newspaper readership is declining. Simply put, they are not giving us what we want. Who wants to read news written by embedded reporters, i.e., embedded with government agendas and its victims - the soldiers who are fighting and getting killed? I would prefer not to read news from a screen but rather in something you can hold in your hand and take anywhere. This seems to be intuitively obvious to all those outside the corporate media mainstream - but not within it.

Bill Moyers
Welcome back. I look forward to your insights and continued excellence in journalism. Once we leave Iraq, will our pursuit of global conflicts to which to send troops end? Highly unlikely. We are the planet's largest manufacturer of armaments and weaponry.Manufacturing is complemented by marketing, advertising, lobbying, and other collateral efforts. Combined, this money making train will be hard to slow down let alone stop.
Human nature has it that when someone gets a new "toy" someone needs to try it out. With all the new weaponry being developed each quarter, this country will need to find "situations" to test the weaponry on or in. Battle staging only goes so far. At some point, real life battles must be found (or created) to put these toys to the test and of course, improve the market to manufacture more toys.
Alas, until our defense spending is curtailed significantly--say to 20% instead of 41% of annual budget-- our endless pursuit of armed conflict will continue. Just to give you an example of our priorities:
Taxpayers in North Carolina will pay $3.7 billion for the cost of the Iraq War in FY 2007.

For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

- 79,267 Elementary School Teachers

or
- 502,336 Head Start Places for Children

or
- 1,713,262 Children with Health Care coverage

or
- 35,250 Affordable Housing Units

or
- 410 New Elementary Schools

or
- 807,408 Scholarships for University Students

or
- 71,955 Music and Arts Teachers
** National Priorities Project http://database.nationalpriorities.org

"Jill H" wrote comments in her April 21 post that sounded like typical GOP "talking points" to me, and were seriously disputable. But when I read some of her later comments (still as "Jill H"), these seemed to be from an entirely different person. Did anyone else notice that?

I have been reading the above comments and most hit on part of the problem. The dancing around should lead us all to realize that the USA is embarked on building empire. Read John Perkin's book "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" for the real answers.

In response to your question "What do we do now?

The most important thing I believe we must do is demand our Congress and the Senate to demand answers from the FCC as to why they sold the American people out and gave our air waves to five corporations. Now these same corporations want to take over the internet.
They say if you don't learn from history you are doomed to repeat it. When Hitler took over Germany what was the first thing he did. He took over the press, and we all know how well that worked out.
The reason Bush is president, why we are in Irag, the reason people still believe Irag was the ones who attacked us on 9/11 is because of the media. Until we have a free press again, Americans will never see the realities of the war and what Bush's plan really is. If the internet goes to these 5 corporation giants, we can go ahead and kiss our freedoms goodbye. The United States of America might as well change our name to The United Corporations of America.

Doug, I think we would have that "extensive debate and healthy skepticism" if we spent as much energy in defining how to 'win Peace' as we do in how to 'win war'. As a true balance in reporting, there should be as many peace experts as war experts talking about our options on the evening news.

So, how about it Mr. Moyers? Can we have more shows about people who have learned effective ways of building the peace?


(please don't take think i'm not grateful for your shows - i'm a huge fan, but don't have much t.v. access, so forgive me if you've already covered this topic)

The question "Why did we (really) invade Iraq?", posed by David J, cannot be fully addressed without including the roles that Christian fundamentalists played and continue to play.

For example, who are these "Christian" lawyers who are now embedded in our Justice Department? Where did they get their educations? Why were they selected for these high-level government jobs, over more seasoned applicants with proven track records of service?

The boys and girls who have replaced the men and women in the Justice Department during the Bush administration are directly related to many of the moral issues facing our country today. Why are some forms of torture now being legalized by these people? What is their role in the acceptance of rendition? Who came up with the new definition of enemy combatant as being an individual not subject to Geneva Conventions, not privileged by the same rights as the rest of us, and where and when did this happen? The questions go on and on and on. I suspect that the groundwork for this chipping away of some of our core democratic principles goes way back before 9/11.

I hope that Mr. Moyers, being a deeply spiritual and religious person, will tackle this extraordinarily troubling part of where our country is heading today.

Welcome back Bill,
In my estimation, John Walcott left out one responsible party: the american people. It is my view that current debate is taking place not because of how the war was started. Instead, rigorous debate is occurring now because this war is going so badly.If faced with a future prospect of going to war, I would hope that we as a citizenry would look upon extensive debate and healthy skepticism as strengths to our system.

Since this administration came in to power I have been fazing the “News” out of my daily life. Over the years I have been disappointed more then once by what some journalists call reporting. It seems that all the press does today is take what the White House says and re- word it and hit print. I thought the goal of reporting was finding the facts and reporting to the people otherwise would have been blindfolded. Instead it seems the “News” more then anything helps those who should be held accounted for their action instead they are allowed to slip through the cracks. While the Administration uses lies or avoidance of key questions the news media only role is one of distraction. It seems real news rarely makes it to press. I have talked to many of my friends and family members about the current state of the country and the media that represents it. I can hear the same sadness and anger in their voices as those of your audience. My question is what are we doing and what are willing to change?

Bill,

Welcome back.

I must both applaud and admonish the effort of the press today. The first signs of independant and thoughtful discussions are beginning to emerge to replace the spoon feed, collusion tinted journalism of the pre-invasion and first years of war. Good work, finally. But some real evidence is still laying around being ignored by the press. I believe a thorough investigation of some of the following evidence could provide a moment of national epiphany if the public learns of these incidents in a logical and sequential order.

Why did we (really) invade Iraq?

When you're told over and over again that it's not about the oil, then it's about the oil. The US has had an extremely cozy, quid pro quo relationship with Saudi Arabia for the past several decades. The US will defend Saudi Arabia against aggressors as long as Saudi Arabia keeps the oil taps open at a "reasonable" price. With China and India getting heavy into the energy consumption game, these limited energy resources will be stretched thin in the years to come. If the US can place Iraq in a situation where our military, industrial (Halliburton, Kellogg, Brown & Root, Bechtel Group Inc, Washington Group Int, Fluor Corp, Parsons Corp, etc), and energy (Shell, Exxon-Mobile, ConocoPhillips, BP America, etc) presence becomes the incument and de facto economic forces there, we can hedge our energy and economic bets against these rising economic competitors. But the question here is, 'At what costs?'

What evidence is there?

2001 pre-invasion, pre-911 Iraq oil field maps from the Cheney Energy Task force, July 2002 pre-invasion Downing Street memo, pre-war cherry picked intelligence,
sensational known pre-war exagerrasions, false statements, marketing of the war, and labeling dissentors as unpatriotic by the Administration is some of the evidence readily available. On their own, the Administration has been able to dismiss or raise enough doubt about these concerns to discourage debate. If someone would link all this and other information together in a comprehensive, logical, and sequential chain of events, I believe a much needed discussion could evolve.

Is there really a need for debate with all that's going on?

The debate could be even larger than the fighting in Iraq. It includes genuine concern for the future of the US and its position of power in the world. What is going to happen when China and India hit their economic stride and start a serious military build up? What can/should we do to stay as the world's only remaining super power? How do we balance the very principles of our democracy (Bill of Rights, the Constitution, human rights, truth, justice, rule of law) with the energy, security, and economic needs of the future? Are these two in conflcit? How much of a part does unabashed greed play in all of this? Has the military industry gotten out of hand?Does the end ever justify the means? Is preemptive war justified? Are we creating more terrorist than we are killing? What have we done to create so much anamosity? What can/should we do to relieve the pressure?

I believe these are some deeper questions than need to be discussed.

Mr. Moyers, I've been informed and inspired by your work throughout my adult life, most recently by reading your superb speeches on media, socio-economic and Constitutional issues. Thank you.

Like everyone else, I'm deeply concerned about this insane war, too. To Jill, I extend my best wishes for her son's safe return. In answer to her question about whether pre-emptive war is "American," it definitively is not. But the real issue is larger.

The entire case against Nazi war criminals tried at Nuremberg was founded upon the principle that aggressive war is the ultimate war crime, from which all others flow. As our Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson concluded his opening statement there: "...(W)hile this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment ... The real complaining party at your bar is Civilization … (T)o start or wage an aggressive war has the moral qualities of the worst of crimes.”

Trial transcripts are online at http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/nuremberg.htm

If you want to know who made the mistakes that led us to Iraq, look in the mirror and point your finger straight at it. The solution to the war is simple. If the pro-war Congressmen get reelected, their "voters" choose that course. The anti-war Congressmen also represent their voter's wishes. The length of the war is directly related to which side (in Congress) has the superior number and not to what happens "on the ground" in Iraq.

I think we need to more fully examine the consequences of war. The following concerns are valid, and need to be addressed.

"Iraq is not Viet Nam, and repeating the oft heard lie that our exit from Viet Nam was the end of the Viet Nam war forgets the more than 2 million human beings slaughtered in the aftermath. If we leave Iraq before the Iraqis are able to support their nacsent democratic institutions and secure their cities, the loss of life and liberty would be more terrible than anything the world has ever seen."

People will do whatever is required to survive. When a foreign power steps into a nation & offers a 'solution' of mass violence , there will always be some who chose to throw their lot in with whoever they deem most likely to benefit themselves.

Are you expressing surprise that after decades of persisting at this violence, there would follow retributive violence in response to all the deaths caused?

It's short sighted to think the war ends even there. The deforestation and health issues left by the chemical poisons we dropped on that country are still a major problem for them.

I would welcome an open, and honest debate about the effects of that war, and would like to see the all the people involved able to participate in the dialog.

This question of 'what do we do now' is the basic reason we need a serious debate about forming a Department of Peace.

Peace doesn't just happen - some happy accident we can all be grateful for on occasion. It takes at least as much courage, intelligence and planning as war does.

There is an amazing woman in my community who has started a program she calls the Community Conferencing Center. This program has been very successful, and police as well as the schools have referred kids to this mediation process in lieu of taking solely disciplinary steps.

After witnessing the shift in people from anger & distrust - into a recognition of what they share in common and an agreement on a solution, I am convinced that people are indeed capable creating solutions to their problems.

A fundamental step in this transformation is listening to the other person and understanding how you have impacted them. My biggest fear lies in the lack of courage of those people who see this part of the process as too dangerous, and feel they must keep us all 'safe' from the mistake of attempting to take this step in building the peace.

This question of 'what do we do now' is the basic reason we need a serious debate about forming a Department of Peace.

Peace doesn't just happen - some happy accident we can all be grateful for on occasion. It takes at least as much courage, intelligence and planning as war does.

There is an amazing woman in my community who has started a program she calls the Community Conferencing Center. This program has been very successful, and police as well as the schools have referred kids to this mediation process in lieu of taking solely disciplinary steps.

After witnessing the shift in people from anger & distrust - into a recognition of what they share in common, I am convinced that people are indeed capable creating solutions to their problems.

A fundamental step in this transformation is listening to the other person and understanding how you have impacted them. My biggest fear lies in the lack of courage of those people who see this part of the process as too dangerous, and feel they must keep us all 'safe' from the mistake of attempting to take this step in building the peace.

When I read that Jill is concerned about Americans who "believe that survival means destroying others as a preventative measure against harm," I begin to hope that maybe there are enough people out there in our country who have this concern, as I do.

The "policy" of preemptive war is, in my opinion, a failure to use our problem-solving capabilities. It is a fear-based reaction, not a solutions-oriented policy. I believe that Americans can do way better than that.

First, thanks for returning to the airwaves, and with such a useful topic, for American citizens and our citizens who work as journalists. It is too easy for journalists to think the criticism does not apply to them. Often, sadly, it does.

Your reader asked, "One thing I find most frightening is the comments from people (who often have never served in the military) who believe that survival means destroying others as a preventative measure against harm, and that, if you are too cowardly to accept that, they would just as soon kill you too, since you aren't worth being a part of their tribe. Is this really what it means to be an American?"

Short answer: no.

Democracies exist to help us listen to our better angels and act on their impulses, to arrange our common society in ways that benefit the majority while protecting minorities rather than promoting a self-perpetuating elite concerned solely with their own pursuit of wealth and power.

Yes, the world is a dangerous place. War sometimes is mandatory. And thank God for the people who serve. But it also is true that peace and diplomacy, while imperfect, can achieve what war might never achieve with far greater cost.

It's no accident that the UN sanctions on Saddam Hussein "worked" in that they paralyzed and possibly prevented the return of their WMD efforts. But the UN sanctions worked at the cost of great hardship on the poor in Iraq and with considerable corruption through the Oil for Food program. Buying a decade of no Iraq WMDs for the price of poverty and corruption, not to mention the continuation of Saddam's brutal regime, that was a Faustian bargain. There was no good alternate solution. But the cost in lives, suffering, and treasure was far less than the Iraq war.

What we need, always, are ideals and then to try and live up to those ideals. Any idiot can make war. Any idiot can destroy people who are different from them. It takes real courage to push first for peace and diplomacy and accepting differences.

Frankly, I'm ashamed at my federal government. Abu Ghraib, the secret prisons, Guantanamo, these are impulses that put to shame the principles our country was founded upon, not to mention the self-professed Christians who find no problem supporting or pursuing these policies.

For years, I've written letters to editors and tried to educate family and friends. But the media helped us get into this mess and it has to be the media that helps us get out, by telling the truth to power. We need more journalists like you, Mr. Moyers, Dana Priest of the Washington Post, and Charles Savage of the Boston Globe.

If history has it's way we could live on the fruits of excuse to cover it's mistakes. The last 8 years are not shocking in that way. What I want to know, what do we do now? To my deep regret it's an open ended question worthy of it's weight and it seems impossible to answer. "We cannot turn back the clock and learning from our mistakes is a must. Cleaning up this mess is what is before us." It seems to me that we have wonderful minds, intuitive insights and incredible commitment in this country regardless if it's left or right to make this world a better place. What we lack on most every issue is "team work" or the ability for two or more teams to work constructively together. "I would like for this to be a priority. I am concerned with the way our political leaders act; our form of government cannot function to solve this problem." Historically, we have never been able to do this and to expect that we can in the future just doesn't seem realistic to me. "I do not have the answer, nor have heard anyone else advance a viable recommendation," which is so right on! When we are asked to give recommendations, we understand that our role in the matter is minimal and as a whole we are only part of a small inclination for change to give limited knowledge and minimal influence. If collectively, which is a big "if" we could ever find a place to unite, like the early days of 9/11, life might feel "American and patriotic" again. I read about the aftermath of war, even today in our "modern society" where there is still a problem with health care for our American Vets and I ponder...buying the war. Is this the question we should all be struggling with or should we be asking ourselves: "war, as a necessary evil or viable option, can we continue to sell it to the American public? If not, how do we address the danger and problems of world politics that threaten us or is there another way?" And, if war will continue to be the only way then can it be done a bit better? Vets are always the ones who die and journalist are the ones who ask why and politicians sell and the public has opinions...what could possibly change going forward? Am I missing something?

I am privileged to have the opportunity to post here. I hope my words effectively express my feelings.

The Poltics of Defeat

The other day I was sad to hear Senator Reid proclaim that the “war is lost”. I have been even more disturbed to hear the administration use phrases like “surrender date” and “cut and run” over and over again. Doing so in attempt to imply that the Democrats lack the “will to win”. Each party dispensing these baseless barbs without a single credible challenge by the opposition. This is the language of defeat.

Who is defending the honor of our military and the security of our country!?!?

In using this politically motivated and misleading terminology I believe the truth is distorted. Perhaps worse is the grave disservice these words do to our troops in harms way. Their bravery and incredible accomplishments ignored, maligned, and dishonored by these words.
A little more than four years ago we invaded Iraq to eliminate WMDs, depose Saddam Hussein and his sons and bring Democracy to the Iraqis.
There were no WMDs.
Saddam and his sons are dead.
The Iraqi's have held free elections.
The fact is that our military has done everything asked of them. They've already WON the war! Mission accomplished.
America's military will not resolve the centuries old religious disputes of Sunni and Shiites. Not in 16 months, not in 16 years. They must do that for themselves. After all, during their nearly 50 years of occupation and domination of the Balkans the Soviet Union kept Christians and Muslims from acting out age old vendettas. We all know what happened once they left.
Either by misreading intelligence or misleading the American people, ultimately what the Bush administration has done is to split our forces during time of war. Incompetent at best, criminal at worst.
I believe that we should bring our people home or; redeploy them to Afghanistan to finish the still unfinished fight against the Taliban and Al Queda.
What if after the D-Day invasion General Eisenhower had suddenly ordered the vast majority of Allied forces to head West to Madrid instead of East to Berlin? After all, Franco was a fascist, A friend to the Nazis and engaged in the extermination of his dissenters. What would have happened? He would have been immediately removed as Supreme Commander. And rightly so.
The politics of defeat are ultimately the politics of bigger and more dangerous wars. For by not making it perfectly clear that this War was NOT lost by the United States military, that our soldiers accomplished their mission doing in weeks what Iran could not do in 5 years, we invite attack. We need to impress upon our enemies that they should not mistake temporary incompetence in our leadership for weakness. To do so would demonstrate the same lack of vision and grasp of reality that the Bush administration has shown. To do so would be the gravest of errors.

Thank you,
Ron Hurst
Pasadena, California

I am sure everyone can recall all of the mistakes our government and we as a country made during the last 8 years. Hundreds of people have written and spoken on this issue. What I want to know, what do we do now. We cannot turn back the clock and learning from our mistakes is a must. Cleaning up this mess is what is before us. I would like for this to be a priority. I am concerned with the way our political leaders act; our form of government cannot function to solve this problem. I do not have the answer, nor have heard anyone else advance a viable recommendation,

When the President of the United States goes before Congress and says the country is in mortal danger and must take immediate action, the Congress cannot be faulted for authorizing the President to take necessary measures. But it is incumbent upon the President to be honest in his assessment. If the President, instead, has abused his moral responsibility and fraudulently sold the Congress on a course of action that was falsely presented, endangers the public and undermines the Constitution, then the President is guilty of high crimes and should swiftly be removed from office. The light of history has now shifted to the Congress. The future of our Republic now depends upon the members of Congress to set aside politics and to fulfil their oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the US. The founding fathers knew the risks of power and established the mechanisms to investigate and pronounce judgment upon those people who are unfit to serve. The country was not in desperate straits in 2003, but it is now as a result of an extraordinary scheme to deceive the citizens of both this great republic and the world. It is time for Congress to take action as provided in the Constitution to rid the country of the scourge of the Bush administration.

National Public Radio correspondent Anne Garrels, who was in Iraq before and during the war, recounted her experience there in her book “Naked in Baghdad.” Many of the comments in her book were aired on NPR before the start of the war. Note that the book was published just months after the war began – just after George Bush announced “Mission Accomplished,” before the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” were found to be a lie, and before 3300+ American soldiers were killed.

So maybe if George Bush, who brags that he “doesn’t read the news” HAD paid attention, he wouldn’t be trying to rewrite his legacy now.

What did Anne Garrels uncover before the war that the Bush Administration couldn’t (or wouldn’t)?

Here are a few excerpts from “Naked in Baghdad”:

Interviewing a small business owner in Baghdad in October, 2002: “He warns that there could be a backlash if the precarious gains of recent years are destroyed by a U.S. war. He says that young people are frustrated with no jobs, no income, and no way to start lives of their own. He warns that these young people, who have grown up knowing only war and sanctions, feel they have been condemned to isolation by the United States. This, he cautions will be the generation the West will have to face. While Iraqis blame Saddam for their problems, they also blame the West.”

Later she writes: “A retired schoolteacher suggests that President Bush is making the situation worse for Iraqis by threatening to invade. ‘U.S. pressure is merely uniting the country and making Saddam more popular among the people,’ he says. This seemingly safe comment is accompanied by a shake of the head as if to add, ‘Don’t you get it?’”

From a November, 2002 entry, she talks with a professor of political science, “one of the many educated middle-class Iraqis struggling to maintain dignity,” who says, ‘the thought of a war in which Iraq could be dismembered or dissolve into ethnic and religious conflicts makes her shudder. She warns that ‘it would be a terrible mistake.’”

From January, 2003: “…the views of many expressed off-microphone are now rife with contradictions. More and more make it clear they want an end to Saddam’s brutal hold, but they‘re also afraid of war and subsequent civil conflicts if he goes.” “If U.S. troops succeed in capturing Baghdad, as the Mongols, Ottoman Turks, and British did before them, they say they will find a city too proud to welcome an invading force.”

And finally, shortly after the war began, Ms. Garrels writes, “I am of many minds about the need and justification for this war. I have seen how brutal Saddam’s regime is, but I am not convinced that he continues to have weapons of mass destruction. The United States has not made a persuasive case, and American diplomatic efforts appear lame. I also worry about the U.S. government’s staying power to do what needs to be done when it is all over.”

How prophetic.

A Polish friend of mine, who lived in Poland while it was Communist and emigrated to the U.S., said of Powell's major U.N. Iraq WMD speech (Feb., 2003) that this was the first time she had seen the U.S. put out crude propaganda like the Soviet Union. She was clearly upset because this was the type of government she had tried to get away from. I also was unhappy. I have a technical background and thought Powell's presentation was seriously incompetent, i.e., that it would look foolish to a knowledgeable person: it was only a long string of assertions with no significant backing evidence. Any con man can pull this kind of stunt. I thought Powell must have known what he was doing since I considered him an intelligent person. I also know that it is impossible to hide a significant atomic bomb program given the intense surveillance Iraq was under.
My Polish friend did not, to my knowledge, have a technical background--as far as I know, she was a housewife.  If someone like her can see through Powell's performance, there is something deeper and more seriously wrong with the press in this country than simple laziness.  For confirmation, one can consult _Into the Buzzsaw_ (Into the Buzzsaw, Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press. Edited by Kristina Borjesson; Foreword by Gore Vidal, 2002).  (I myself have been involved in at least 2 substantial coverups, one as the point man.)  My work has required that I have a broad background and the ability to determine whether conclusions are justified by evidence presented.  (The coverups have been successful, and it should not be terribly surprising that I have not been able to find employment in my areas of expertise.)

Lookup on your computer WWW Operation Mockingbird.
Also JFK's executive order, 11110.
Get Educated on the Propaganda mahine run by our Administration that makes Hitler's Goebel look very amatuerish.
After you read this information, pass it along to several friends to pass it along to wise up Americans to our War Monger Friends who make a fortune on War.
Sam

Bill, Thank you for returning to PBS with another thoughtful program. Thank you for committing your life force to ensure that Americans are informed. Especially since we must live in a country controlled by an Administration whose legacy is already about fear, control, greed, lack of insight, conspiracy, massive death, and unfathomable debt. These are the characteristics that describe an empire in decline.

I was listening to the congressional hearings leading up to invading Iraq, and it was clear to me that the entire thing was fabricated. I also heard statements such as, "If you don't vote for this invasion, your political career will be finished." I watched Collen Powell give his address to the U.N., and I could see that he did not believe what he was reading. Yet, he played along. I believe the truth is that politician were afraid of the power the White House held and believed that Americans just wanted a scapegoat to exact revenge upon. But, in fact, the American people are not that simplistic. It was the military-industrial complex that kept the momentum going.

Thank you Bill, for speaking for the people so that we don't feel so suppressed and hopeless.

I'll be looking forward to Wednesday's program. It's gotten great reviews so far. The Odd Sheets blog borrows a great quote from George Orwell that's appropriate here: “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

We need a new Fairness Doctrine. We need a certain percentage of revenues devoted to news and public affairs programming for cable and broadcast channels. This needs to be a requirement. Money is the only way to change the media's focus this is how it was in the 50's and 60's and there were great documentaries and full news staffs.

Now we just have talking head discussing with another talking head. This has destroyed the basis of news: to be fact based. We need the media to devote more money to be fact based and then we can begin to solve these problems. Otherwise poor journalism will drive out good journalism for ratings and easy money

Dear Bill,
First I want to thank you for coming back. Your voice and those who have had the courage and the integrity to question this war and the administrations behavior have been gravely missing from the landscape. I am an American in Europe, an idealist who has felt so disheartened by the lack of integrity shown by the very newspapers I use to admire. I have often emailed the NYT to voice my lack of comprehension at their support of the war.
It is heartening that the Democrats have regained control of congress and that a semblance of balance or questioning of power has returned.
The sheer concentration of the media today is scary to me and has diserved the industry greatly.
I hope your show will be available for download on line as I am not in the US but would like o see it.
Le monde this wkd mentioned the work of a young 16 year old in Alabama and her blog which I also find incredibly courageous. www.peacetakescourage.com
She apparently quit school 2 years ago to concentrate on publishing documentaries about the war everyday.
I also think it would be great to dig deaper into the role of the oil lobbies in the government post 9/11 ...
Thank you for being you bill and for all your outstanding work. I am breathing a bit easier now that you are back.
Best,
randa

Bill, thanks for coming back, we missed your good interpretation in areas that the rest of media seem to for gets to cover. I was a member of OPB/PBS but with everything up in cost it is very hard to make ends meet and I had to let go of some programs go that I was a member in. Waiting for your first show. Al and Marti.

I feel the central issue we all grapple with, is to shine light into those corners that are 'oft overlooked' in our lives.

The one thing I am most grateful for is my congregation. I have the same love and gratitude for that community as I imagine each of my grandmothers had for theirs. It connects me as much to my community, as to my ancestors, and gives me that safe space to look into those dark corners we all share, and would rather not examine.

What I find of most value in this community, is the commitment to set aside a bit of time each week to atone for all that I am. In my daily life, I can too easily 'forget' about my greed, anger, and ignorance. It's nice to hold the belief that I'm a nice, kind generous person, and in general I strive to be that sort of person. By allowing myself to 'own' all those parts of the human condition - including the darker stuff I'd rather not consider to be a reflection of 'me' - I've found a way to transform some of the rage I feel about the injustices of the world.

I'm grateful to have been born in this country, where the premise of our government has been that all men share the same human spirit, and that we strive to respect every individual. We were lucky to have had a George Washington instead of a Napoleon as our founder.

I do not believe the world changed in any fundamental way on 9/11. There has always been terrorism and criminal behavior in the world. Something that is changing is that it takes fewer people to kill larger populations than ever before. But this is something we've been living with for many decades now.

I grieve that we've lost the courage to stand in that powerful compassionate space that affirms what is best in all of us.

I think the way to regain that courage is to face our fears, and look into those dark corners we're so afraid of.

The primary premise of your program, the media's failure to do their job in the run up to the war in Iraq is fundamentally false.

There are two visible flaws based solely on the news reports promoting the program.

The first is that the media was in lock-step in the march to the war in Iraq. They were not in the case of Iraq, but were in the case of Afghanistan. Without checking, I can't remember a single major news organization that supported the invasion of Iraq.

Next, the war in Iraq is an intractable mess. It is the media today that is lock step in convincing all that the war is lost and Harry Reid who has confirmed our defeat without consulting those who would know best, like General Patreaus.

Iraq is not Viet Nam, and repeating the oft heard lie that our exit from Viet Nam was the end of the Viet Nam war forgets the more than 2 million human beings slaughtered in the aftermath. If we leave Iraq before the Iraqis are able to support their nacsent democratic institutions and secure their cities, the loss of life and liberty would be more terrible than anything the world has ever seen.

It is this kind of reporting, beginning with a false and depressing question suggesting the false premise that we have lost the war in Iraq, unecessarily weakens our will to win.

If more people were aware of the nature of the enemy in this global conflict of civilizations that is now concentrated in the streets of Baghdad; if the media would reflect a balanced view of the conflict and not just the bleeding-lead view; and if the media would present the consequences of our defeat, I believe more Americans would willingly support the cost of the objectives of this war.

It is a shameful blight on America's great history of siding with the oppressed that we are calling defeat in Iraq when victory is still possible.

It is my hope that the arrogance of the media elite, falsely accused in this program of being derrelict in their duty, is someday recognized for what it actually is; a showbiz sham masquerading as news reporting. This would include you, Mr. Moyer, and the resurrection of the entirely discredited Dan Rather. You operate in a world of false assumptions and depressing philosophy in the hope of generating righteous indignation. Yet, it is in reality, an act of national self-mutilation, thanks to you. How ironic that this program is airing as General Patreaus goes to Washington to appear before Congress to impress on them the urgency of funding our troops.

Over the years you have attacked much of what our country is about, including capitalism, free enterprise and the existence of God. Now you presuppose defeat in Iraq and whine about the failure of the press. What other damage would you like to do, Mr. Moyer?

I think that most of the problems in our society, on one level or another, stem from fear of the "other." Imus was a mirror for many white males who, consciously or unconsciously, feel threatened by powerful, different females. And it's this same fear of "other" that has people still supporting the war in Iraq. I asked a conservative blogger what "victory" in Iraq looked like; his answer -- Hiroshima. That's not a vision of the US that I want to defend, and it's not the vision of the US the Founding Fathers had in mind.

These two things, though they weave together to shape today's narrative, seem to be relatively separate points to address. The media failure on the one hand (combined with the non-searching nature of the politicians in the run up to Iraq), and the idea of tribalism.

I'll leave the media aspect alone and say that the discussion of tribalism is one that is oft overlooked, and pretty damn interesting.

It's useful in the 9-11 years to think about the notion of 'the other', and how America has dealt with that 'other'. In a sense, the issue raised by Jill is one part of a larger picture, a reaction to the events that reawakened some of the worst tendencies of any society. The fear and beseigement mentality are part of it, that drew Americans together but also lead us to accept the 'with us or against us' slogans, even as some among us adopted that position in the extreme.

Then we look to the domestic side and find that those who had the least problem dehumanizing the other abroad are roughly the same ones who have no problem questioning the patriotism of their fellow citizens. And that gets back to the nub of the problem, that it is likely, if you are reading this, that you were never a part of that tribe in the first place, and it wouldn't have mattered what Iraq policy you propose...if it does not line up exactly with that of The Leader, and doesn't explicitly proclaim its rightness, then you're beyond the fold, the other.

I am looking forward to truly balanced and incisive journalism - greatful to have you back on the airwaves.

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