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With contributions from NPR news.

This week on NOW...

This is the source of all life, but will we fail to protect it?

NANCY STONER, ENVIRONMENTALIST: This is about putting polluters first.

ANNOUNCER: The battle over the Clean Water Act. The stakes are high.

And what's the answer to Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond?

OSSIE DAVIS:Somebody's got to ring that bell. Somebody's got to write that poem, sing that song, dance that dance that says to us all, rise. You're larger than that.

ANNOUNCER: Artist and activist Ossie Davis on America's moral assignment. A Bill Moyers interview.

And your medical history: think it's private? Listen to Dr. Mark Siegel and think again.

All that and more, tonight on NOW.

ANNOUNCER: From our studios in New York, Bill Moyers.

MOYERS: Welcome to NOW.

Here we are almost at the end of the year, and there's been so much talk about the mid term elections, the war in Iraq, the stagnant economy, the furor over Trent Lott's racist past, that hardly anyone has paused to remember that this is the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

We can thank the Clean Water Act for the quality of much of the water we drink. You will hear it said, in fact, that the Clean Water Act is the country's most successful environmental law.

But environmental protection is rapidly becoming an oxymoron in the new political order, and the Clean Water Act is on the hit list.

We get a sense of what's at stake in this report from correspondent David Brancaccio. He's the host of Public Radio's MAKRETPLACE and Public TV's CALIFORNIA CONNECTED. The producer is NOW's Peter Meryash.

BRANCACCIO: As the Clean Water Act marks its 30th anniversary, the landmark environmental legislation is being threatened as never before, under attack from courts, from regulators and from property owners.

NANCY STONER, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: This affects the water you drink. It affects the fish you eat. This affects the, the rivers and the lakes that you swim in, that you boat in...

BRANCACCIO: Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 to stop the nearly unchecked dumping of pollution into our waterways...

At a time when two-thirds of the country's lakes, rivers and coastal waters had become unsafe for fishing or swimming.

Untreated sewage was being dumped into open water.

The Hudson River and Lake Erie were dying.

And Cleveland's Cuyahoga River, the poster child for polluted water, was so full of industrial toxins it sometimes burst into flames.

While the law has made dramatic progress in 30 years, water pollution is still a big problem in the U.S. An estimated 39 percent of the rivers, 45 percent of the lakes, and 51 percent of the estuaries monitored are contaminated.

STONER: We will pay to clean up this pollution through sacrificing public health, sacrificing wildlife.

BRANCACCIO: Environmentalist Nancy Stoner is alarmed that instead of enforcing the law, the courts and regulators are weakening it.

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court said the Clean Water Act was being applied too broadly... an "impingement of states' power" and ruled that the law cannot be used to protect isolated wetlands.

That was a setback to those who see the critical role wetlands play in protecting our water by trapping polluted runoff, filtering and cleaning out toxins.

Dr. Joy Zedler has served on several panels of the National Academy of Science studying wetlands.

DR. JOY ZEDLER, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN: We think of wetlands as supermarkets—places for food to be supplied other species. We think of them as kidneys because they filter out contaminants, sediments and nutrients. And we think of them as sponges because they soak up water flowing off the land.

BRANCACCIO: Over the last 200 years, the continental U.S. has lost more than half of its wetlands. America is becoming browner.

ZEDLER: That degree of wetland loss is truly frightening.

BRANCACCIO: The Bush administration is sending mixed messages. On the one hand, it recently announced federal matching funds to help preserve remaining wetlands.

[PRESIDENT BUSH ON TAPE]: Today we're taking important action to conserve North America's wetlands, which will help keep our water clean and help provide habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife.

BRANCACCIO: But on the other hand, Nancy Stoner says, the administration has already signaled it will soon issue new rules that could significantly roll back clean water protection.

STONER: This is about putting polluters first.

BRANCACCIO: She fears the Bush administration will interpret the Clean Water Act in ways that favor industry and damage wetlands, small streams and tributaries.

STONER: They're making these changes through bureaucratic processes that the public doesn't understand. And that the public can't participate in effectively.

BRANCACCIO: The Bush administration already allows dumping of debris from mountaintop mining removal. As NOW reported earlier this year, that is burying rivers and streams in Appalachia.

Environmentalists say the administration's actions in all this could undo much of the progress of the last 30 years.

And there's another threat coming at the Clean Water Act—this time from property owners.

Take this tiny plot of land just south of Sacramento, California.

The fight here centers on just 2 acres, but the case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

Owner and developer of the Borden Ranch, Angelo Tsakopoulos, wanted to grow orchards and vineyards.

BRANCACCIO: When you bought this, this was what...

TSAKOPOULOS: It was just like that. Yeah. Grazing land, just like at the whole thing. And the idea is in this particular soil you can grow good apples and good wine grapes.

BRANCACCIO: Before he could plant, he needed to cut through a dense underground layer of clay beneath his soil that prevents water from reaching the deep-roots of his crop and that's where the trouble started.

Parts of his property are criss-crossed by natural drainage ditches called swales, where the underground clay pan keeps the water in place to help form seasonal basins.

These are considered wetlands and are protected by the Clean Water Act.

Mr. Tsakopoulos used a plowing technique known as deep ripping where a bulldozer drags a 4 to 7 foot metal spike—up to the height of a tall man—down through the ground.

BRANCACCIO: There's normal plowing that isn't so deep, and then there's this thing called deep ripping, where they go down five, six, seven feet. And that can change the wetlands. It can change the nature of the way water flows through your property.

TSAKOPOULOS: Of course it does. All plowing changes the hydrology of the soil. And that's why we plow. So that the water will get down to the roots of what we plant. Is the government gonna tell us whether we set our plow 12 inches, 14, 16, 18? Or are we going to allow the farmer to do that? I think the farmers should decide how to plow their land.

BRANCACCIO: Mr. Tsakopoulos says he tried not to damage the wetland swales. But the government said he did a violation of the Clean Water Act.

TSAKOPOULOS: You see, we are not trying to plant here. It's not important. We would avoid this swale if we could. But when you plow the upland here, you gotta get the tractor on the other side.


TSAKOPOULOS: And how you gonna get there? You gotta go through it. And if you were to cross it, then they want you to get a permit.

BRANCACCIO: But he never did get a permit and a federal judge found Tsakopoulos had violated the law when he deep-ripped through the clay pan underneath 29 protected swales, allowing the water to seep out.

ZEDLER: It's like opening a wound in the soil, and it allows the wetland to bleed. You lose the water from the wetland; you lose nutrients; you lose other water chemistry; it's a wounded wetland that is not necessarily self-healing.

BRANCACCIO: Mr. Tsakopoulos believes the Clean Water Act exempts normal farming activities. By requiring a permit, he says, the government overstepped its authority.

TSAKOPOULOS:: Here is one crossing where the plow went through here. And that is a violation—$25,000.

BRANCACCIO: For this plow…

TSAKOPOULOS:: Penalty for…

BRANCACCIO: ...right there.

TSAKOPOULOS: ...each time the plow crossed this—what is it?—the foot and a half in some places.

TSAKOPOULOS: Yeah. About a foot wide, maybe a foot and a half wide, yet the penalty is $25,000 for crossing it.

BRANCACCIO: But no matter how small it looks, the federal judge found significant damage had occurred underneath the surface—348 deep-ripping violations in all—and ordered Mr. Tsakopoulos to pay a $500,000 fine.

BRANCACCIO: Do you worry that ultimately wetlands could be degraded, that you could have unintended consequences of ultimately hurting wetlands in America?

TSAKOPOULOS: Farmers are not gonna farm in different ways. They're gonna plow the same way they been plowing. This kind of regulation, this kind of scrutiny, is not a good thing for the farmers or for the country.

ZEDLER: Wetlands are incredibly important, and even the deep ripping of a small swale in a place like California has a measurable effect!

The services that wetlands perform aren't just useful to environmentalists somewhere across the globe! They are useful to everyone, and those of us who own land are incredibly privileged. Along with that privilege comes a responsibility to care for the land.

BRANCACCIO: That's why, the government argues, even the small ditches on the Borden Ranch have to be protected.

BRANCACCIO: Can the farmer really understand how the depth of his plowing here might affect a stream somewhere else? Maybe it's the government to figure out the big picture there.

TSAKOPOULOS: The farmers are the best caretakers of our ecosystem.

We live here. I want my kids to drink clean water, and breathe clean air. But that we must not interfere with farmers growing food for America. That's very important also.

VICKI LEE, ENVIRONMENTALIST: Well, I'm not sure that he is a farmer.

BRANCACCIO: Vicki Lee is a Sacramento area resident and environmental activist.

VICKI LEE: I doubt you could find four people in northern California that would agree that he's a farmer.

BRANCACCIO: They'd say developer.

VICKI LEE: They'd say developer immediately. But he probably doesn't have the expertise that the scientists have that work for the U.S. EPA or the Army Corps of Engineers or the folks who have responsibility for protecting the public trust, which is the natural resources of this country.

BRANCACCIO: But you and I both know farmers who are probably pretty good...

LEE: Yes.

BRANCACCIO: making decisions about water use and land use.

LEE: Yes.

BRANCACCIO: For the good of all?

LEE: That's right. There are lots of farmers, more and more, that are doing wildlife-friendly farming. They actually care about nature and their land and the Earth and that's what they're about.

They are stewards of the land. This guy is not a steward of the land. He's a developer, speculator, developer. And nothing more. I mean I could tell you I was an actress and it would just be a lie.

BRANCACCIO: But farmers as well as developers have a big stake in this.

DON PARRISH, AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION: You're going to create huge headaches for farmers. It's going to ensnare them in all kinds of red tape. It's going to create big problems.

BRANCACCIO: Don Parrish is with the American Farm Bureau Federation. His brief to the Supreme Court argued against government regulation.

DON PARRISH: This could seriously put us on a slippery slope for having government bureaucrats define what farming practices should be, and if that happens, we're going to lose our competitiveness in world markets.

BRANCACCIO: That's a scare tactic, say environmentalists. While for farmers, the key to this is what exactly qualifies as a wetland?

DON PARRISH: Well I would argue that a lot of these wetlands, you're probably not going to recognize as wetlands! These are going to be areas that are dry the majority of the year!

And, and those marginal areas are going to be very hard for farmers to be out there determining every time they pull a plow out of their barn as to where can I plow and where can I not plow?

BRANCACCIO: Maybe so. There are shades of grey in defining a wetland. But even though the swales on the Borden Ranch are dry much of the year, Dr. Zedler says they still play a crucial role when it rains.

DR. ZEDLER: California is not only a, a dry end of our wetland continuum it's also a place where most of the wetlands have already been destroyed by exactly the techniques that are being called "deep ripping" and "plowing" in this case.

BRANCACCIO: Historically, most wetlands have disappeared because they were converted to farmland.

The corn belt states have seen most of their wetlands destroyed:
Illinois - 85 percent gone, Indiana - 87 percent gone, Iowa - 89 percent gone, Ohio - 90 percent gone.

And in California, home to the Borden Ranch, an estimated 91 percent of the state's original wetlands have disappeared.

One major reason? The tendency to look at a wetland and see wasteland.

PARRISH: Over the years farmers thought they were contributing to the better public good by producing food and fiber, and they were given a lot of incentives to convert those wetlands. I grant you, norms change. People's values change. But a lot of that land was converted for good purposes to feed people in this country.

ZEDLER: Even the responsibility to feed people can be thought of in the short and the long term and if I damage the land in the process of feeding the people in 2002, and I make that land so that it is incapable of feeding the people in 2020, then I haven't been responsible.

BRANCACCIO: On Monday, Mr. Tsakopoulos lost his case when the Supreme Court announced it would not issue its own opinion. The court had split 4 to 4, because the ninth justice, Anthony Kennedy, a friend of Mr. Tsakopoulos, recused himself.

The split decision left the lower court's ruling in place and does not resolve the fundamental issue of the government's authority to stop farmers from altering wetlands on their own property.

Environmentalists won this round. But they worry their victory may only last until the next time this divided court acts on a clean water case.

This ongoing battle continues to take a toll.

ZEDLER: What we are able to experience in our lifetime is such a brief blip on the geological record - but it - what we do to the land leaves a legacy forever.

BRANCACCIO: Even as courts debate the law, regulations backed by industry are put into place, and developers and farmers look for loopholes, the country is losing more than 58,000 acres of wetlands every year.

MOYERS: We turn now from the battle over the environment to the threat of war with Iraq.

The LOS ANGELES TIMES took a poll this week and found that two-thirds of the American people believe President Bush has failed to make the case for going to war. Official Washington got the word.

Sources in high places were spreading the story this week that there will be no war at least until January, giving the president more time to marshal his arguments and maybe even produce some hard evidence before giving the order to attack.

If you've been watching NOW on a regular basis, you know we have been covering the debate over Iraq from many sides.

Recently we heard from people who oppose going to war-- political activists, clergy, even a Republican member of Congress.

don't attack Iraq!
Don't attack Iraq!

SUSAN SARANDON FROM PROTEST: We demand to know answers.

TIM ROBBINS FROM PROTEST: Let us hate war in all its forms.

DAMU SMITH, BLACK VOICES FOR PEACE: Simply put, the United States wants to have dominance over the oil fields in that region.

BOB EDGAR, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES: There is the question of morality here in terms of first strike action.

And we see it in the president's policy statement that he wants to change the way we think about first strike actions, and the church needs to weigh on that one.

REP. RON PAUL, (R-TX): And that's what this is all about, a preemptive strike. I think that is so dangerous not only to us as a people, and to our rule of law and our constitution, but I believe that it will come back to haunt us.

MOYERS: Tonight we hear from someone who makes the case for war.

Christopher Hitchens is a writer, journalist, and intellectual combatant. He writes books faster than most of us can read them. Books on Bill and Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Mother Theresa, politics and culture, including this new book: WHY ORWELL MATTERS, about his intellectual hero, the British writer George Orwell.

You can read Christopher Hitchens regularly in VANITY FAIR. But he recently quit his column in the NATION magazine in a dispute with his old comrades on the left whom he said just don't understand the seriousness of the terrorist threat to America.

Christopher Hitchens thinks Saddam Hussein must go, and that only force will get him out.

Welcome to NOW. I know your position on the war. I've read your arguments, most of them. I think maybe all of them. What I don't understand is the process that got you here. Was there a moment of "Eureka," of "ah-ha"?

HITCHENS Not exactly. But the... There was a moment, I guess I'll take a step back, if I may.


HITCHENS I've considered myself for a long time-- and when I was on the left, which in many ways I still am-- to be a friend of the Kurdish movement in northern Iraq, the Kurdish rebels.

And of the Iraqi opposition, the Iraqi democratic opposition, known as the I.N.C., Iraqi National Congress. That's a position I held for many, many years.

I held it when-- American governments ruling class imperial ones, indeed, were in favor of Saddam Hussein. At the end of the last gulf war, of which I'd been very, very critical, I found myself in a...

MOYERS: Same here.

HITCHENS Well, there was lots to criticize. I don't take much of it back. But at the end of it, I was bouncing around northern Iraq in a jeep with some Kurdish guerrillas who were people I'd come to admire very much for their bravery.

On the windshield of the jeep was a picture of George Bush, Sr., jogging. And I said to them a couple of times, "now, do you have to have this picture?" I would be just as happy not to ride around in a jeep with Bush's picture. And they said, "no, well, we think we owe them for this."

Now bear in mind, the Gulf War had never had as its intention the establishment of a protective zone for Kurds in the north. That was an unintended consequence of the war.

It was the result of public opinion, it was the result of interesting humanitarian pressure. People saying, "You can't end the war in Kuwait with all the Kurds dying on the mountainsides of Northern Iraq. Being slaughtered by and poisoned by Saddam Hussein. You must do something."

And the no-fly zones, which have since guaranteed this, have actually created that space. For an embryonic Kurdistan and an embryonic democratic Iraq.

MOYERS: Your intellectual mentor, in a sense, Orwell, he didn't much admire people who weren't there when the trigger is pulled.

HITCHENS That's quite right.

MOYERS: It makes me wonder about journalists and writers, intellectuals like you. We're not going to be there when the trigger is pulled.

HITCHENS I don't feel I need to make this defense for myself. But just for the sake of my own testosterone, I will.

I was in the... On the Afghan border last year. I have been... I was in Sarajevo during the siege. I was in Kurdistan, so... And other places, too.

I know enough about it, by the way, I've seen enough of it to know I wouldn't be any good as a soldier. I wouldn't stand up for... Very well for long.

But the second thing is, where I live in Washington, D.C., I've seen the Pentagon burning from the top of my house. I've seen... And where... My daughter's school was just up across the river from that.

MOYERS: After 9/11?

HITCHENS Very difficult to go... tough time getting her back from school that day. The streets were jammed, panic, fire.

Since then, anthrax in my mailroom. I'm now just considering whether to have my daughter vaccinated for smallpox.

I consider myself to be in the front line, and everyone in the United States to be. That's what's different, precisely, about this war. So the whole point is that civilians are probably in more danger than people in uniform. And the enemy specifically makes that its strategy.

MOYERS: But the issue to me is that if it goes wrong, the president, his cabinet, they'll lose the election, and history will be hard on them. The people in Iraq will suffer and be in chaos or dead if it goes badly.

We can advocate war, and then walk on, move on to our next cause, to our next story. That's... Maybe it's a distinction that doesn't hit home with you. But it makes me more reluctant than when I was in government, to think that intellectuals and journalists should be urging people to go to war.

HITCHENS I think the same obligation falls on those who are opposed to intervention, to say, "well do they have any reason to think that the threat from an aggressive, neurotic, sadistic totalitarian dictatorship will not eventually?"

What will it be like if Mr. Hussein gets hold of deterrent quality weapons of genocide? I think I have a very good idea of what life would be like.

He would be able to do, for example, if he wanted to, sort of get attention, would be, say, to reoccupy Kuwait, or perhaps a part of Saudi Arabia, and say, "If you try and push me out, I can irradiate these oil fields. I can poison them for generations." I mean, he would put the world economy into a slump and kill millions of people in doing so.

We know not just from defectors from Iraq, of whom there've been many, some of them known to me, but from people still within his administration who've been interviewed, that he has said to his cabinet... His cabinet. That his big mistake was to invade Kuwait before he got the nuclear weapon.

We know that he was very near to a weapon before then.

MOYERS: We've seen that in the 12,000 pages.

HITCHENS Why does he say that it would have been better to have a nuclear weapon before I invaded Kuwait? For obvious reasons.

Because it would mean he could deter... He could talk to us as the North Koreans now can. I've been there, too.

Saying that they can threaten such terrifying destruction, that they have to be talked to in a conciliatory tone of voice.

And a lot of the anti-war calculus is based on the idea that he understands deterrence, he understands self preservation, he can be deterred and contained. I don't believe it. I think his regime has become demented.

MOYERS: Has there been any experience in your lifetime, except for the defeat of Germany and Japan, where after a war like this, we have been able... Or a democratic experience has emerged from that new reality?

HITCHENS Well, I think Afghanistan at the moment is a very good case in point.

MOYERS: Ah, but they're...

HITCHENS The... Yes, but there's case for the invasion of... I don't even think it was an invasion. The case for the intervention in Afghanistan wasn't any better to begin with than a self-defense one.

By removing a theocratic dictatorship of the most cruel and retrograde kind, the... For one thing, the population of Afghanistan has gone up by a million and a half, because refugees have been able to come home. And life of everybody is better, especially for the female 50 percent.

MOYERS: This is not going to be a war against a standing army out in the desert, is it?

HITCHENS No, it is... It is a war over Iraq. Whether it's on Iraq or with Iraq or not, we can dispute that it's about Iraq. It's a war for Iraq, in my view. But certainly over it. It means the whole country has to be extensively reconstructed.

And we have to prevent things like revenge killings, of which there will otherwise be a huge number, yes, because of the unbelievable sadism of its policy.

MOYERS: How much collateral damage would you accept for removing Saddam Hussein?

HITCHENS It's not knowable in advance. It would sound terrible to say, "Well, once you've started, you know, you accept the logical and probable consequences." That might seem callous, but you do.

How many people have asked me how many American soldiers I think, or British soldiers, or what... You know, how many would be too many. Seems to me that's an irresponsible question.

Forgive me, but one can be pretty sure that a very large number of people will die for sure, for certain, if this regime goes on, and not only Iraqis.

I think that gives one a license to say, "Well, the point of precision weaponry and precision guidance is precisely that." The Defense Department, as I have other reasons to know, has actually listened to the actual movement down the years. It did listen to that critique.

They may say collateral damage now-- it's an ugly euphemism- but they used to just say "body count," and lay 'em out, right. They wouldn't dare do that now. Furthermore, they don't have to.

MOYERS: Well, this was a significant factor, as you know, in the growing opposition to the Vietnam War.

As the body count kept coming back, the reality kept hitting home, and no amount of euphemistic language in defense of south Vietnam would suffice to answer the growing piles of body bags.

HITCHENS Quite. Well, this won't be the case this time.

MOYERS: We have sort of prided ourselves, the Americans, on never going to war, never starting a war, never striking first.

Has something happened in the moral psychology, the gross national psychology of a people, once we have adopted preemptive strikes as national policy?

HITCHENS Yeah, I think it does. I mean, it worries me very much.

As does, for example, the doctrine that's been promoted lately, saying that United States must always maintain a certain... It's something like 10 percent or 20 percent margin of superiority over any combination of rivals.


MOYERS: That's the new National Security Strategy.

HITCHENS And then they go to the British government, say-- or the French or German-- say, "by the way, we'd like your help in fighting the..." They say, "Well, you want us to help fight to keep your superiority?" That's not a very sort of a polite way of soliciting sympathy or allies, for example.

I mean, I think it was grotesque to talk like that.

There's a certain kind of arrogance and hubris about this administration that fills me with horror-- the reappointment of people like Elliot Abrams, John Poindexter, people who've shown their contempt for Congress and for the democratic process, and shown their contempt for other people's constitutions, and democratic processes, as well, and have in unpunished ways, visited, you know, aggression and atrocity on other... On other peoples.

I mean, it's... It's scandalous.

MOYERS: Well, you're making alliances with those very...

HITCHENS Scandalous that the president

MOYERS: You're intellectually making alliance with many of those people you have written about and deplored in the past, Kissinger.

HITCHENS The alliance is not intellectual. I mean, it's... I'm glad that so many conservatives now agree with me about regime change, just as I was very glad when this... Many of them changed sides on Bosnia.

I don't... Wouldn't turn them away, not on this point, but, you know, it's something to keep one's eye on.

And I wish the Democratic Party in Washington was making more noise about it. I mean, these are people who've lied to the press, lied to the people, lied to congress, there are a lot of the right wings still very strongly opposed to regime change in Iraq.


HITCHENS Scowcroft. Well, there's a... There's the Scowcroft-Eagleburger sort of conservative pro-Saudi faction. There's the Pat Buchanan group. The sort of "America first" isolationists and anti-Israeli, as well.

There's a good deal of conservative opposition to this. In fact, most of the actual opposition in Washington to the war is from the right. And nobody cares what the left or the peaceniks think. Their arguments aren't considered to be worth listening to.

They say things like, "no war for oil." Well, is that just to say, "oil isn't worth fighting about," or doesn't matter what Saddam Hussein does to the oil reserves of the region. I mean, how irresponsible could you possibly get?

MOYERS: Do you think the Bush administration has a hidden agenda, oil?

HITCHENS No, I think that's an open agenda. The recuperation of the Iraqi oil industry could be a bonanza for everybody.

I don't think the administration is not saying anything that it ought to say, except one thing, which is that with a large part of its mind, the administration wants to recuperate Iraq and change the regime there in order to break the monopoly the Saudis now have.

Saddam Hussein is the Saudi's buffer state. That's why the Saudis are so much opposed to the war. We now know so much about how Saudi Arabia is not our friend, but is a particularly deadly, mean, and vicious enemy. But this can't be said for reasons of real policy. But it's known, and it certainly forms part of the strategy.

MOYERS: Now we have...

HITCHENS One of my reasons for supporting it is that that's the end of the Saudi monopoly.

MOYERS: With all do respect, that's a very tenuous point. We don't know what the Saudis...

HITCHENS Which have anything like the pluralist state in Iraq next door? With the Shi'a from very near the majority in Saudi Arabia having a say in politics? And the oil... And the oil...

MOYERS: If you can get that pluralistic...

HITCHENS Well, it could... It'll... It has to be better than it is now. That's not boasting to say that it'll be an improvement on what we now have. And then to get the oil, the Iraqi oil moving again and its oil industry back in business, every bit of that tells against the current Saudi advantage. Every bit of it does.

MOYERS: But I noticed a good bit of opposition coming from traditional religious circles.

Mainstream protestants, the Catholics, a lot of the religious people who have taken liberal positions in our society over the years and are more consistently opposing the administration than your old allies on the left, your old friends on the left.

HITCHENS Yes. Well, to be blunt, I don't care what religious people think. I mean, it doesn't impress me.

I don't... I think they should declare that the Kingdom of God is not of this world and they should get on doing the best they can. They've also got a lot of repair work to do in their own churches, as far as I can see. I don't... I can't take seriously the statements of people who...


HITCHENS ...Whose role in life is to proclaim themselves to be ministers of religion. I just... It just leaves me cold. I'm sorry. I find religion alternatively tedious and disgusting.

MOYERS: I disagree with many of your positions, but I listen to you despite the fact that I know you are an atheist.


MOYERS: That you do not have any tolerance for religion. I still listen to the arguments you make. Can't you grant that to people who claim a religious basis?

HITCHENS Yes. I get the same thing. But a placard saying, "No War for Oil" is no cleverer being held up by a rabbi or a priest.

MOYERS: I haven't seen that held up by a rabbi.


MOYERS: And priests talk about just war, you know.

HITCHENS I went to... I went to Harvard. I went to the Kennedy School last week to debate with Father Bryan Hehir, who was the...

MOYERS: yes. He was on this show once.

HITCHENS He's the head of Georgetown University. He's a very considerable Catholic theologian. And it's tough to be a Catholic clergyman in Boston these days, so I cut him a little slack. Apparently, he also advises the Pentagon, I've been told, on ethical matters.

He put up a perfectly good case about what Saint Augustine or Saint Thomas Aquinas might have thought about this, but I found it very hard to listen to, quite... I can't conceal my... I won't pretend to respect him more than I do.

I thought in the age of weapons of mass destruction and rapid delivery systems and globalization, this stuff is of no help to us any more than the sermon on the mount would be.

I'm very impressed, by the way, that this debate has been going on for several months now, in public. Almost all the stakes are known. Almost all the evidence is out there.

The administration and the British government have both published exhaustive, arsenals really, of information as well as argument. Everyone's had a chance to make up their mind. The United Nations has pronounced on the disarmament of the Saddam Hussein regime. I wish myself that a great deal more was said.

And I consider my role in this argument, if I had one of my own, to be this: to say more about the incredible courage and success of the Kurdish and Iraqi opposition, and to give them all the help that we can, and to publish their manifestos and their experiences to the Arab world and beyond, and to make it harder and harder to back off any commitment that the United States makes, and to make sure that it is in that spirit that the intervention justifies itself and that this is a standard to which the administration can and must be held.

MOYERS: Thank you very much, Christopher Hitchens.

HITCHENS Thank you, Bill, very much. Thanks for having me.

MOYERS: A few months ago, we did as we were told.

We asked Dr. Marc Siegel what he thinks about those ads all of us were seeing on television for prescription drugs-- you know, the ones that urge you to "ask your doctor." It turned out our doctor doesn't want drug companies imposing themselves between him and his patients.

Well, Dr. Siegel is back tonight to give us his opinion on another big issue in health care these days: the privacy of patients' medical records. New regulations are supposed to safeguard your medical history in the internet age.

But Dr. Siegel has his own diagnosis of the matter, and we thank his patients who allowed us to be there when he makes it.

DR. MARK SIEGEL: My name is Dr. Mark Siegel. I'm an associate professor of medicine at New York University and a practicing internist in New York City.

From the moment a patient enters my office I'm thinking in terms of his or her privacy.

In the waiting area, no discussion of medical-information occurs between my staff and the patient of me and the patient. In the the examination room-- they already perhaps are feeling a little bit vulnerable because they're wearing a gown. They've lost some control. So from the outset, there is an understood need for preservation of privacy.

There is a new set of regulations that has now come out, put out by the Bush administration pertaining to patient privacy.

These regulations clamped down on doctors and on how they treat privacy. But at the same time, these regulations put in place a tremendous a loophole where drug companies can access patient information for the purposes of marketing. I find this paradox, this contradiction, to be deeply disturbing.

These are my files. They represent my patients' lives. Each chart is organized with the events of a patient's life. The laboratory's on one side-- my notes, the test results, the demographic data, where they're from, where they reside, when they were born, how old they are, who they're married to. Then I have a careful history of who their children are. Everything about a patient is here in this chart. It's an encapsulation of their lives.

When I send a patient for a test, or I write a prescription, I'm going to make a record of something that's going to land in the patient's chart. But the original goes out the door. And once it leaves here, it doesn't have my protection. It doesn't have my stamp.

What's the sense of that? What's the sense of safeguarding privacy here in the chart, and when what's written in the chart goes out the door, there's no-- there's no safeguard?

For example, if I prescribe a medication here in the office-if it's a chain pharmacy, that medication is listed in the pharmacy and is part of a-- a-- of a national databank that the pharmacy uses-- every one of those pharmacies throughout the country. And pharmacies may sell this information to-- to the drug companies for marketing and advertising purposes.

That is put forth under the concept of caring for the patient. But what it actually is, is a violation of the patient's privacy. It's a marketing gimmick.

They should not be able to buy this information for profit. And they don't have a right to know what medication the patient is on.

You might think that a certain medicine is innocent.. So what, somebody knows I'm on a blood pressure medicine. But you can tell from what medication somebody on what they're suffering from. If they're on an antidepressant, they're probably depressed. If they're on an-- an antiviral medication for HIV disease, it's a quick assumption that that's what they suffer from.

There's too many ways that information about a person's physical or mental health can undermine them or-- or hurt them in arenas where they are all too public.

At their work, even in terms of their home life, their marriages. It is not the other people's business.

We need a consistent policy here that applies across the board to the doctor, to the patient, to the nurse, to the hospital, to the pharmacy, to the laboratory, to the blood bank.

The problem is no such thing exists. One side has a thick protective wall. The other side the wall is full of holes.

Drug reps come to the office here and they-- they seem to know what I prescribe. They know how much of a particular medicine that I prescribe.

That means that they can track my prescriptions at the pharmacy level and that means that they have more knowledge than they are entitled to. They use it for marketing. They use it for advertising. But it is a invasion of patient privacy.

Patient confidentiality is an essential part of my practice. It always has been for doctors and patients all throughout history. Why can't the same type of attention be paid to this issue throughout all aspects of the health care system?

The breakdown at that end of the system violates the whole system. There is no privacy. There is no proper privacy unless it extends to all parts of the health care system, and all parts of my patients' lives.

MOYERS: The public rise and fall of Trent Lott is now history, but let's look at the history celebrated by the man who served for five years as Senate majority leader.

His fall began at the 100th birthday party of his colleague and good friend, Strom Thurmond, where Senator Lott said something to the crowd that we now know he had been saying over and over on other occasions. Here's what he said:

SENATOR LOTT FROM TAPE: I want to say this about my state: when Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him.

We're proud of it.

And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.

MOYERS: The Republican majority leader was talking about 1948, the year Strom Thurmond ran for president, pledging to preserve segregation of the races.

Southerners like him were out to beat President Harry Truman for advocating civil rights for Black Americans.

For those of you too young to remember, take a look at this clip recently seen in the PBS series, THE RISE AND FALL OF JIM CROW.

STROM THURMOND FROM TAPE: It's another effort on the part of this president to dominate this country by force and to put into effect these uncalled for and these damnable proposals he has recommended under the guise of so-called civil rights.

MOYERS: That's Strom Thurmond.

STROM THURMOND FROM TAPE: And I tell you, the American people from one side or the other had better wake up and oppose such a program. And if they don't, the next thing will be a totalitarian state in these United States.

MOYERS: One American old enough to remember 1948 is with me tonight. He just celebrated his 85th birthday this week.

Ossie Davis is a playwright, screenwriter, producer, director and actor.

OSSIE DAVIS FROM TAPE: Always do the right thing.

SPIKE LEE: That's it?

OSSIE DAVIS: That's it.

MOYERS: He's also one of our pioneer activists. I first saw Ossie Davis at the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Ossie served as master of ceremonies that day.

Welcome to NOW.

OSSIE DAVIS: Thank you.

MOYERS: What went through your mind when you heard about Trent Lott's speech? Did you pay any attention to that speech, did his campaign resonate with you?

OSSIE DAVIS: Oh, very much so. That was a key political year for us, Bill.

MOYERS: If you were at home in the South, you had to sit in the back of the bus even though you paid full fare. If your children had been raised there, they would have been forced to go to separate and unequal schools.


MOYERS: You would have to go to a restroom that had "for coloreds only" on it.

OSSIE DAVIS: Well, the segregated South created in me and a lot of my friends and my associates humiliation and the response to it.

To go from one place to another in the South to meet the indignities imposed upon us-- particularly for me, I had just come back from serving... Doing time in World War II, whether it... Where race was the central issue of the fight against Hitler-- it was a depressing circumstance.

To get off the train, get off the bus, and to see the old sights, smell the old smells, and the dirt on the sidewalk, and to see the white side and the black side, after having been overseas all that time, was a tremendous let down.

It was... You know, you'd fought with such hope and so many wonderful things had happened.

And here comes the segregationists saying to us the same thing they had said in 1919 after World War I: "I don't care what you did over there, hero or not. Here you're going to go back the way you were, second place, second class. And already don't give me any problems, because, you know, we'll kill you if you do."

There were people, veterans, you know, who were killed in the aftermath of World War II...

MOYERS: Here at home, by white people.

OSSIE DAVIS: ...By white people. You know, so there was that sort of... It was a fear, but a kind of fear that, "Oh, Lord, how long? How long?"

MOYERS: You and I met by coincidence the other night and you were talking about how your generation and mine, in no small part because of the 1963 March on Washington, D.C., we knew our moral assignment you said.


MOYERS: What's the moral assignment now?

OSSIE DAVIS: Well, I don't know and I suspect a lot of us don't know.

But it's up to us to recognize that there is one and that we need access to it and we need to align our small objectives aligned with the moral assignment of the times and of the age.

There is a saying in the book, "Where there is no vision the people perish." But right now, we are sort of short on the vision thing, as some politicians have mentioned.

MOYERS: Some of my audience is young enough not to know what the book is.

OSSIE DAVIS: Well, the book is THE BIBLE. You know, a lot of us depended on that, Bill.

But there are those of us committed through destiny or biology or whatever to concern ourselves with the moral assignment. We communicators, we storytellers, we poets, we artists.

You know, what is our function really but to remind ourselves that in the human endeavor, our humanity is never complete unless it has a strong moral component. And we cannot afford to be too small in our objectives because what is required even to survive is that we take the larger view of ourselves and our possibilities.

And somebody has got to see that. Somebody's got to ring that bell. Somebody's got to write that poem, sing that song, dance that dance that says to us all, rise. You're larger than that. It's up to you to define the final meaning of America. We're not there, but we're on the way.

MOYERS: You make me think, you and Ruby and Judith and I, my wife and partner, and I collaborated a number of years ago on a documentary series on the second American revolution. And I have with me one of my favorite pieces of that documentary. Let me play it right here.

OSSIE DAVIS, FROM A WALK THROUGH THE 20TH CENTURY: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, words the young folks say, only words, as if words alone no longer mattered.

And I understand.

I, too, have been embarrassed by those words, and yet words live not only because they are written in documents, hung on walls or carved in stone; words live in the living hearts of men and women, only as we, by our actions, make them live.

And so it is in the darkest hours, it's still good to know that the words are there.

MOYERS: What are the words to this moment?

OSSIE DAVIS: The words for this moment is "be of good cheer."

But right now we can't detect enough of the light to determine which direction to go. You know, as in the past, something will happen. Some Rosa Parks will come along and ignite the next phase of this struggle.

We are the most powerful people in the world at the moment, and yet our visions may be the smallest of the people in the world. That's a dangerous situation for us.

We need, because of our overweaning power, a larger sense of what life can be than anybody else. We have the power to make it happen.

America is still what Lincoln called it: the last best hope of mankind.

For all of its faults and there are many, you know, but we need to be re-ignited, to be revisited, by that sense of moral purpose that comes to us from time to time.

MOYERS: When you talk... By the way, my audience, I want audience to know you gave the eulogy at the funeral of both of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. You still believe words matter.


MOYERS: But when you talk this way around the Thanksgiving table, the soon to be Christmas table where you have your 104-year-old mother and your children and grandchildren...How many grandchildren do you have?


MOYERS: Seven.

When you talk this way, and I know you do, what do they say? Do they say, "What? I mean, c'mon. Come off that. Nobody talks that way anymore."

OSSIE DAVIS: No, well, they don't quite say it that way. They don't patronize or pity me. But they patiently try and explain that that's not where the young people are, that's not what is on their agenda.

They know, for example, that I desperately want to reach out and touch that segment of youth in the black community that is passing me by, leaving me stranded, I don't know the words to their songs, I don't know the movements to that dance, I don't know what their purpose is.

I ask the youngsters at the dinner table, what is it? What is this all about? What are... They say, well, they're celebrating a lifestyle.

I say, "a lifestyle?" They say, "yes." "What lifestyle?" Well, they're not quite sure what they mean by that. But they calibrate it in terms of things: of cars, of celebrity, of the things which I find somewhat distracting.

MOYERS: No, but in one sense, aren't they not in the pursuit of the happiness that your generation fought to make possible? Life you must have, liberty you fought for, now aren't they free to pursue happiness on their terms?

OSSIE DAVIS: Exactly, and we should encourage them to do that.

But once again, happiness without the moral component, without being attuned and adjusted to some moral assignment, can be destructive.

The father of the 20th century version of our struggle, W.E.B. Dubois said so eloquently that, "We should be about life lived by some large vision of goodness, beauty and truth." He was talking about the moral assignment.

What needs to be done in the world that should call for our energies, our attention, our love, our devotion, our passion.

You know, who was it? Holmes? Chief justice Holmes said, you know, not to participate in the actions and the passions of your time is not to have lived.

Well, I want to participate. You do and I want those young folks to participate.

MOYERS: You said to me at that dinner a couple of weeks ago, maybe the problem is we have told the old story one time too many.

OSSIE DAVIS: It is true. You know, we have the tendency, when we do something of value, to stop there and keep celebrating it, going around and around and around.

And we keep playing Martin Luther King's 1963 speech. And it doesn't occur to us that maybe the most important speech Martin Luther King ever made was the one he never made, because he died before he got to Washington that second time.

We can't stay forever where that left us. That put us on a platform, but the platform is no place for an unending picnic. You know, the drums are calling again, the battle cry.

There's poverty in the world.

Aids is decimating whole countries.

There are things that American skill and energy and expertise seem fashioned to tackle.

And yet some how we can't break over the wall that keeps us from doing it. Some young person has got to show us how to lift all that we have to offer above the circle of greed and racism and what not and make it available to human kind.

MOYERS: Does it ever occur to you that that young person may not be white or Black, it may be some young brown Hispanic, some Asian, some Chinese American who is at this very moment trying to break out of the paradigm in which you and I lived for all of our lives, Black and white America.

OSSIE DAVIS: It occurs to me constantly.

And it's one of the reassuring things about the struggle, that the life we live, which is the gift of the creator, of biology, of chance, whatever, if it turned us out, it can succeed in turning up an answer from places that we wouldn't expect or suspect.

But isn't faith the basis of all religions, and don't we live for what's going to happen for tomorrow that didn't happen today? What are we going to stop...

Aren't we cheered by the words of Percy Shelly when he said, you know, "And we will hope 'til hope itself creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates."

Isn't that a part of the human response to impossibility? Isn't Don Quixote maybe the man of the hour, we do it because it's impossible to do? Isn't that what being human ultimately comes down to?

MOYERS: So the man of the hour is not Strom Thurmond...

OSSIE DAVIS: No, no, no.

MOYERS: ...Or Trent Lott.

OSSIE DAVIS: I think Strom... I think they're past their prime.

MOYERS: Thank you very much, Ossie Davis.

ANNOUNCER: Next week on NOW, are the chemicals we use every day harming our children?

DR. PHILIP LANDRIGAN: Many of the pesticides in common use were deliberately designed to be toxic to the nervous system.

ANNOUNCER: Disturbing new research on kids and chemicals and the government's response.

Next week on NOW. And coming up on NPR radio...

LIANE HANSEN: Hi, I'm Liane Hansen.

Join me this Sunday for WEEKEND EDITION from NPR news when we examine the lingering legacy of segregation with historian Robert Korsev and listen to an orchestra of voices, the holiday music of Chanticlar.

Visit us at our web site on

MOYERS: I invite you to visit

You can also find out if there are endangered wetlands where you live.

For people who want to know, is a good place to go.

For all my colleagues at NOW, happy holidays to each of you.

I'm Bill Moyers.

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