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April 16, 2010

How Much Is Your Community Spending on America's Wars?

At the Cost of War, a Web site sponsored by the National Priorities Project, you can find out how much money your community has spent - and continues to spend - on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tell us how much money your community has contributed to the wars.

Do you believe the wars are the best use of your tax dollars? If not, what do you think would have been a better use of your money?

November 5, 2009

War and its Aftermath

This week, the JOURNAL presented a shortened version of a new documentary film, THE GOOD SOLDIER, which explores how the experience of combat irrevocably changed the lives of four veterans of America’s various war efforts.

One of those featured, Jimmy Massey, who served in Iraq earlier this decade, described what it was like for him to return to the United States:

“You first come home and you immediately forget about everything. You go to McDonald’s and you go to all your favorite restaurants and you do all your favorite things and you’re having a great time, and you know… And then all of sudden you wake up one day and you’re like-- wait a minute. I’m not having a good time any more. I’m starting to think about this, and I’m starting to think about that, because all the newness has worn off. You’re home. I’m alive. I got my arms, I got my legs, I’m alive. But then the mind, the mind starts catching up with everything else. I found myself going through my gear, prepping like I’m getting ready to go to combat. I mean I even look for suicide bombers, you know, anything out of the ordinary. Once you’ve reached that level of your senses being that heightened, it’s hard to turn it off. It’s like being a caged tiger.”

What do you think? Have you or a loved one ever been in combat? What were your or their experiences of war?

Bill Moyers Essay: Restoring Accountability for Washington's Wars

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October 30, 2009

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Glenn Greenwald

Acclaimed blogger Glenn Greenwald, recipient of the Park Center for Independent Media Izzy Award, spoke with Bill Moyers this week for the special web-exclusive conversation below.
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June 5, 2009

POLL: Regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, Is Obama "Old Wine in a New Bottle?"

In his conversation with Bill Moyers, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill was critical of President Obama’s use of private military contractors and his war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think what we’re seeing, under President Barack Obama, is sort of old wine in a new bottle. Obama is sending one message to the world, but the reality on the ground, particularly when it comes to private military contractors, is that the status quo remains from the Bush era... There’s no question that Obama inherited an absolute mess from President Bush, but the reality is that Obama is escalating the war in Afghanistan right now and is maintaining the occupation of Iraq... You have hundreds of people held without charges. You have people that are being denied access to the Red Cross in violation of international law. And you have an ongoing position by the Obama administration, formed under Bush, that these prisoners don't have a right to habeas corpus... The fact is that this man is governing over a policy that is killing a tremendous number of civilians.”

We invite you to take our poll and share your thoughts in the space below.

Michael Winship: The Privatization of Obama's War

(Photo by Robin Holland)

Below is an article by JOURNAL senior writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.

''The Privatization of Obama's War''
By Michael Winship

The sudden reappearance of former Vice President Dick Cheney over the last few months – seeming to emerge from his famous undisclosed location more frequently now than he ever did when he was in office – does not mean six more weeks of winter. But it does bring to mind that classic country and western song, “How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?”

Or, maybe, “If You Won’t Leave Me, I’ll Find Someone Who Will.”

In his self-appointed role as voice of the opposition, Mr. Cheney has been playing Nostradamus, gloomily predicting doom if the Obama White House continues to set aside Bush administration policy, setting the stage for recrimination and finger-pointing should there be another terrorist attack on America.

Cheney’s grouchy legacy is the gift that keeps on giving. Just this week, THE WASHINGTON POST reported for the first time that while vice president, Cheney oversaw “at least” four of those briefings given to senior members of Congress about enhanced interrogation techniques; “part of a secretive and forceful defense he mounted throughout 2005 in an effort to maintain support for the harsh techniques used on detainees…

“An official who witnessed one of Cheney’s briefing sessions with lawmakers said the vice president’s presence appeared to be calculated to give additional heft to the CIA’s case for maintaining the program.”

And remember Halliburton, the international energy services company of which Cheney used to be the CEO? After the fall of Baghdad, Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR were the happy recipients of billions of dollars in outside contracts to take care of the military and rebuild Iraq’s petroleum industry. Waste, shoddy workmanship (like faulty wiring that caused fatal electric shocks) and corruption ran wild, Pentagon investigators allege, even as Vice President Cheney was still receiving deferred compensation and stock options.

Continue reading "Michael Winship: The Privatization of Obama's War" »

November 14, 2008

Deborah Amos Asks: What is the Measure of Success in Iraq and Afghanistan?

(Photos by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, guest host Deborah Amos spoke with journalist Elizabeth Rubin and author Fred Kaplan about policies the United States might pursue in Afghanistan and throughout the region, and how we can evaluate how much progress occurs.

Amos asked:

“When the Bush administration took on Afghanistan and then Iraq, there was this notion that we were involved in a democracy-building operation. And then there was talk even in the campaign about victory, that there would be a way that we would know that it was time to leave, that it was over. Those ideas have really lost currency. Is there a measure of success in these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?”

Rubin said:

“I think the measure of success is when they’re not in the news anymore, when they start to just become countries that are existing on their own... When there’s a certain kind of stability and a country is being built, it’s going to be a lot less newsworthy than when you have Afghans getting killed every day, Americans getting killed everyday... But you’re not going to have one day that’s going to signify the end.”

What do you think?

  • Should the United States remain in Iraq and Afghanistan until they become democracies? If not, at what point of “success” should U.S. forces withdraw?
  • Should democratizing foreign countries be an objective of U.S. foreign policy? If so, how much of a priority should it be?
  • Are all nations capable of democratic governance? Why or why not?

  • October 10, 2008

    The Iraq War Resolution Revisited

    Last week, faced with the economic crisis, Congress submitted to the Bush Administration's request for an $850 billion bailout bill. Six years ago this week, Congress passed another resolution at the insistence of the White House: the resolution authorizing war in Iraq.
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    August 22, 2008

    UPDATE: Alive in Baghdad: Iraqi Children Speak Out

    UPDATE: Brian Conley, of Alive in Baghdad, has recently been detained by the Chinese authorities while reporting on pro-Tibet demonstrations in Beijing. Family members, who have not heard directly from Brian, believe that he has recently been sentenced to 10 days of detention for "upsetting public order".

    Read more at The New York Times and Boing Boing.

    And read more about China and human rights here.

    This week on THE JOURNAL, NPR's Deborah Amos, just back from Damascus, explains:

    I keep saying I cover Iraq - I just don't ever go there. But to do Lebanon, Jordan and Syria is essentially to cover Iraq, because the issues that are roiling Iraq are the same issues that now are playing out. Everything is hooked to everything else.

    And according to a recent mid-year review by the International Organization for Migration:

    Iraq is experiencing the worst human displacement of its history, with almost 2.2 million persons displaced within its borders and an additional two million who have fled the country to the surrounding region. This mass displacement is fast becoming a regional and ultimately international crisis.

    Continue reading "UPDATE: Alive in Baghdad: Iraqi Children Speak Out" »

    July 18, 2008

    Update: Body of War - Tomas Young

    BODY OF WAR introduced viewers to Tomas Young, a young veteran who was paralyzed less than a week after arriving to fight in Iraq.

    Today, Tomas Young is leaving his Kansas City hospital for a rehabilitation center in Chicago. While his speech and motor control of his hands and arms have been compromised, his family is hopeful that he will recover.

    Correspondence is still welcome and his family will forward mail sent to him at:

    Tomas Young
    112 NE 113th Street
    Kansas City, MO 64155

    July 2, 2008

    How Have You Been Impacted By The War?

    This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers explored the new documentary film BODY OF WAR with filmmakers Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro. Donahue explained that the film, which follows disabled Iraq war veteran and anti-war activist Tomas Young, was intended to capture the brutal realities of war:

    "My inspiration for this film was the naked child running from the napalm. Remember that Vietnam picture? I mean, terrified, this little girl is totally naked... See the pain. Don't sanitize the war. If you're gonna send young men and women to fight for this nation, tell the truth. That's one of the biggest reasons for the First Amendment, and we haven't been. And so I thought 'I will tell the story,' the real story of the harm in harm's way."

    Photo Credit: Associated Press

    How have you been impacted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  • Do you have a friend, family member, or loved one involved in the war effort?

  • Phil Donahue said a single photograph inspired him to want to make BODY OF WAR. How has the media coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan affected you?

  • Does today's media, as Donahue would say, "tell the truth?"

  • June 6, 2008

    Ask Greg Mitchell...

    We'd like to thank Greg Mitchell, author of SO WRONG FOR SO LONG, for his comments below and for agreeing to answer your questions. His responses are in bold below.

    Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Greg Mitchell are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.

    From Greg Mitchell, author of SO WRONG FOR SO LONG:

    So what do you feel about the latest revelations in Scott McClellan’s book and a new Senate report that the U.S. was led into war against Iraq based on false pretenses? McClellan flatly calls the administration’s case “propaganda” and accuses the media of being “complicit enablers.”

    This week’s segment with Bill, which probes all of this, felt like a kind of “reunion” for me, even though I had never before met fellow guests Jonathan Landay and John Walcott. But I have been hailing their work for more than five years, going back to the “run-up” to the attack on Iraq in 2003. They were among the few to repeatedly, and accurately, probe the administration’s case for war in the most crucial period.

    At the same time, I returned to the scene of my last sit-down with Bill, in April 2003, just days before the U.S. entered Baghdad. Even then, we were warning that this was only the beginning, not the end, of our stay in Iraq (less than a month later, President Bush delivered his “Mission Accomplished” speech). A transcript of that session with Bill and a lengthy tribute to his 2007 BUYING THE WAR program appear in my new book, SO WRONG FOR SO LONG: HOW THE PRESS, THE PUNDITS – AND THE PRESIDENT – FAILED ON IRAQ.

    In this week's program, Landay and Walcott explore the evidence for war (or lack of) while I focus on the media sins of omission and commission. I have found appalling, if not surprising, the media’s general refusal to truly come to grips with their failures on Iraq, even after five years of war. Most in the media, in response to the McClellan charges, defended their pre-war work, which is stunning.

    Actually, one of the best lines of this past week came from Stephen Colbert. He said that he couldn’t understand why McClellan was saying reporters were not doing their job in the run-up to the war. “What is McClellan complaining about?” Colbert asked. “They were doing HIS job!”

    I am wondering what viewers think of all this – where the fault really lies for the U.S. getting “misled” into war, and if they think the policymakers, and the journalists, have learned any lessons.

    Got a question for Greg Mitchell? Please post below.

    May 7, 2008

    Bill Moyers Rewind: Crossing The Euphrates (2003)

    In May 2003, shortly after the American invasion of Iraq, Bill Moyers broadcast the following commentary on NOW WITH BILL MOYERS.
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    May 2, 2008

    Poll: The Experts Speak?

    Authors Victor Navasky and Christopher Cerf were on THE JOURNAL this week to discuss their new book, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! OR HOW WE WON THE WAR IN IRAQ. The latest from Cerf and Navasky’s satirical “Institute of Expertology,” which previously published THE EXPERTS SPEAK: THE DEFINITIVE COMPENDIUM OF AUTHORITATIVE MISINFORMATION, the book is an in-depth examination of five years of expert commentary on Iraq. Regarding experts, Navasky said:

    “The format of journalism is that you quote someone on one side, and then you quote someone on the other, and you pick experts. And the theory [is] that if you get two people who, as we found out in THE EXPERTS SPEAK, are experts who are wrong, that somehow you’re gonna get the truth out of that.”

    What do you think? We invite you to discuss in the space below.

    April 25, 2008

    Leila Fadel Responds...

    Special thanks, again, to Leila Fadel for taking time during her break to answer questions.

    Again, to read more from Leila Fadel and her colleagues, visit her "Baghdad Observer" blog and Iraqi journalists' "Inside Iraq" blog

    Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Ms. Fadel are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.

    Continue reading "Leila Fadel Responds..." »

    April 18, 2008

    Ask Leila Fadel...

    This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with Leila Fadel, Baghdad bureau chief for McClatchy, about her experiences on the ground in Iraq.

    We thank Leila Fadel for taking time to answer your questions about Iraq and the Middle East. We are no longer taking questions, but you can read Leila Fadel's responses at this link.

    Note: To read more from Leila Fadel and her colleagues, visit her "Baghdad Observer" blog and Iraqi journalists' "Inside Iraq" blog.

    January 18, 2008

    Democratization, U.S. Foreign Policy, and The Middle East

    In his conversation with Bill Moyers on this week’s JOURNAL, journalist Craig Unger said:

    “It does seem at times we don’t seem aware of the consequences of our actions. We go around talking about democracy, but the Saudis, of course, are a brutal theocracy. There’s not much in the way of human rights there. The whole vision of democratizing the Middle East, I think, really, in practical terms, has fallen by the wayside. And America’s objectives really, when it comes down to it, seem to be Israel’s security and oil... The whole vision is in tatters right now. And it’s very unclear what options the United States has... Our policies are so full of contradictions. And I think if you go back to the roots of it, it was built on so many misconceptions that a lot of this is coming home to roost.”

    What do you think?

  • Is Unger correct that Israel’s security and oil are the foundations of America’s policies in the Middle East?

  • Does U.S. involvement with and support of non-Democratic regimes undermine the goal of “democratizing the Middle East?” Is that an appropriate objective of American foreign policy?

  • How would you reformulate American foreign policy to fit the world of 2008?

    (Photo by Robin Holland)

  • October 18, 2007

    Ask Jeremy Scahill...

    (Can't Play This Video? Click here for quicktime and windows media versions)

    Since the shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians on September 16 by Blackwater contractors, which is currently under investigation by the FBI and the State Department, newspapers, talk shows and blogs have been buzzing with debate over the implications of a growing private sector "army" fighting alongside US Military officials in Iraq. Many believe these hired soldiers have not been properly held accountable for their mistakes.

    Founder and CEO of Blackwater, Erik Prince, recently made the rounds defending his company as a patriotic extension of the US Armed Forces, simply fulfilling the security demands of a military stretched thin.

    After watching Bill Moyers' interview with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill , who has been covering Blackwater for more than three years, do questions still linger about this complicated issue?

    Who's funding these private security contractors? Who's giving them their day-to-day orders? Who supplies their equipment and transport vehicles? Under which rule of law are they held accountable? Here's your chance to ask the expert.

    Submit your questions to Scahill by commenting below. We will post his responses to select questions early next week.

    Photo: Robin Holland

    September 28, 2007

    Bill Moyers Essay: For the Fallen

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    Then tell us what you think by commenting below.

    August 8, 2007

    Impeachment: The Conversation Continues

    The tremendous response from our recent impeachment panel broadcast tells us this is a conversation that is important to you. Here are a few of the thousands responses we've been receiving:

    Ethel, July 13, 2007:

    After watching tonight's Bill Moyers program, I think for the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful. There is a solution! For the last five years, I have been watching and listening and feeling rather isolated in my frustration and disgust. Impeachment is the solution for this federal insanity.

    Carol Taylor, July 14, 2007:

    Thank you Mr. Moyers for the re-education about the Constitution. I have already written to Nancy Pelosi. This program is just what we need to hear.

    Lee Partide, July 14, 2007:

    One sided and misleading. Bill Moyers is a good presenter and very smooth, but what is frightening is the power he and the media exercise by presenting information that neglects so many facts, and does not present rebuttal by the myriad others who can refute claims made on this show, and point out their dangers. I am NO Bush fan, but your show edges on appalling by misrepresentations. One can see how far this has gone by reading how many people in media (and thus among the population) compare Bush to such people as Hitler. That kind of extremism presented under the guise of objective journalism is what is MOST scary in our culture.

    SR, July 15, 2007:

    I am not nearly as articulate as your bloggers, however, I was compelled to say something...I was raised to respect our leaders, our elders and one another. To trust in our government and have faith in our religion...What has happened to the America we once knew?...We the American people can no LONGER hide our heads in the sand-- we cannot rely on our political leaders to help us out of this peril...Thank you SO MUCH for airing this show.

    Ken, July 14, 2007:

    I just caught the end of your show waiting for the British comedies to come on. What a bunch of crap! The democrats don't have the guts to stop the war or impeach Bush or Cheney. What congress should do is remove public funding for this show and send it to the troops in the war.

    We invite you to continue to the conversation by commenting below.

    Poll: Civil Liberties and National Security

    Constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein states:

    “Most important thing for the American people to know is that the great genius of the founding fathers, their revolutionary idea, with the chief mission of the state is to make you and them free to pursue their ambitions and faculties. Not to build empires, not to aggrandize government. That's the mission of the state, to make them free, chart their own destiny. And the burden is on the government to try to understand why that freedom has to be curtailed for a security purpose or otherwise.”

    Photo: Robin Holland

    Answer our poll question, then debate the topic below.

    August 6, 2007

    Buying the War, Again?

    Four months since our original broadcast of Buying the War and more than four years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, has the media's coverage of the Iraq war changed?

    As President Bush continues to declare that Iraq has become the main battleground in the war on terror, NEW YORK TIMES public editor Clark Hoyt recently wrote a column criticizing the coverage of his paper, that it has not delved far enough into the intricacies of the enemy in Iraq:

    Why Bush and the military are emphasizing al Qaeda to the virtual exclusion of other sources of violence in Iraq is an important story. So is the question of how well their version of events squares with the facts of a murky and rapidly changing situation on the ground.

    But these are stories you haven’t been reading in THE TIMES in recent weeks as the newspaper has slipped into a routine of quoting the president and the military uncritically about al Qaeda’s role in Iraq - and sometimes citing the group itself without attribution.

    And in using the language of the administration, the newspaper has also failed at times to distinguish between al Qaeda, the group that attacked the United States on Sept. 11, and al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, an Iraqi group that didn’t even exist until after the American invasion.

    Oliver North, who has made 8 trips to Iraq with FOX News, agrees that most media outlets are not reporting the Iraq war accurately, but in a different way:

    For nearly two years, the potentates of the press have been slavishly following liberal dogma and telling us that the war in Iraq is all but lost; that the region will never embrace democracy and that young Americans serving there are dying needlessly. Even before the “troop surge” was underway, they were telling us that it wouldn’t work. And since the final contingent of 28,500 additional troops arrived in theater two months ago most members of the Fourth Estate have tried to convince us that it has failed. Some of them may even believe it, but that doesn’t make it true.

    What do you think?

    -Is the media sufficiently reporting the truth about the war on the ground?
    -Where do you turn for the latest information and analysis about the Iraq War?

    Want to read the original blog discussion that helped to merit this rebroadcast? Click here.

    July 25, 2007

    Preview: Al Qaeda, Earmarks

    Watch the video

    This Week on Bill Moyers Journal:

    As the Bush administration promotes the idea that Al Qaeda is the enemy in Iraq, the Journal analyzes the facts on the ground to explore who the U.S. is really fighting. Also on the program, a report on the hidden spending provisions used by Congress known as earmarks—“pipelines of cash” added to legislation without any debate, public hearing or oversight—which are often used as payback for political contributions. As Congress works to put reforms in place, is it business as usual?

    Check Your Local Listings here and we'll see you on the blog after the show.

    July 13, 2007

    Bill Moyers Essay: The War Debate

    Click the picture above to watch Bill Moyers' essay on the ongoing war debate in Congress.

    Then tell us what you think by commenting below.

    July 3, 2007

    Story Updates: Libby, Eagles, Trade and more

    Libby Sentence Commuted: Reaction to President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence was rapid. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. announced that he will be holding a full committee hearing next week titled, "The Use and Misuse of Presidential Clemency Power for Executive Branch Officials." After President Clinton pardoned 140 people on his last day in office, Congressional leadership held similar hearings entitled, "Proposals to amend the president’s power to grant reprieves and pardons." Read an excerpt from testimony here.

    Read more about the issues surrounding the case and continue the conversation.

    Watch Bill Moyers' recent essay entitled, "Begging his Pardon"

    "We have yet another remarkable revelation of the mindset of Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites—the people who took us to war from the safety of their Beltway bunkers. Even as Iraq grows bloodier by the day, their passion of the week is to keep one of their own from going to jail."

    Watch Bill Moyers interview with Ambassador Joseph Wilson from NOW with Bill Moyers, February 28, 2003. It was the release of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent which led to the Libby trial.

    "Somehow it's hard for me to imagine that a democratic system will emerge out of the ashes of Iraq in the near term. And when and if it does, it's hard for me to believe that it will be more pro-American and more pro-Israeli than what you've got now," says Joseph Wilson in his interview.

    More about Plamegate and Judith Miller from BUYING THE WAR.

    Continue reading "Story Updates: Libby, Eagles, Trade and more" »

    June 15, 2007

    Begging His Pardon

    by Bill Moyers

    We have yet another remarkable revelation of the mindset of Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites—the people who took us to war from the safety of their Beltway bunkers. Even as Iraq grows bloodier by the day, their passion of the week is to keep one of their own from going to jail.

    It is well known that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby—once Vice President Cheney’s most trusted adviser—has been sentenced to 30 months in jail for perjury. Lying. Not a white lie, mind you. A killer lie. Scooter Libby deliberately poured poison into the drinking water of democracy by lying to federal investigators, for the purpose of obstructing justice.

    Attempting to trash critics of the war, Libby and his pals in high places—including his boss Dick Cheney—outed a covert CIA agent. Libby then lied toLibby cover their tracks. To throw investigators off the trail, he kicked sand in the eyes of truth. "Libby lied about nearly everything that mattered,” wrote the chief prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. The jury agreed and found him guilty on four felony counts. Judge Reggie B. Walton—a no-nonsense, lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key type, appointed to the bench by none other than George W. Bush—called the evidence “overwhelming” and threw the book at Libby.

    You would have thought their man had been ordered to Guantanamo, so intense was the reaction from his cheerleaders. They flooded the judge's chambers with letters of support for their comrade and took to the airwaves in a campaign to “free Scooter.”

    Vice President Cheney issued a statement praising Libby as “a man…of personal integrity”—without even a hint of irony about their collusion to browbeat the CIA into mangling intelligence about Iraq in order to justify the invasion.

    “A patriot, a dedicated public servant, a strong family man, and a tireless, honorable, selfless human being,” said Donald Rumsfeld—the very same Rumsfeld who had claimed to know the whereabouts of weapons of mass destruction and who boasted of “bulletproof” evidence linking Saddam to 9/11. “A good person” and “decent man,” said the one-time Pentagon adviser Kenneth Adelman, who had predicted the war in Iraq would be a “cakewalk.” Paul Wolfowitz wrote a four-page letter to praise “the noblest spirit of selfless service” that he knew motivated his friend Scooter. Yes, that Paul Wolfowitz, who had claimed Iraqis would “greet us as liberators” and that Iraq would “finance its own reconstruction.” The same Paul Wolfowitz who had to resign recently as president of the World Bank for using his office to show favoritism to his girlfriend. Paul Wolfowitz turned character witness.

    The praise kept coming: from Douglas Feith, who ran the Pentagon factory of disinformation that Cheney and Libby used to brainwash the press; from Richard Perle, as cocksure about Libby’s “honesty, integrity, fairness and balance” as he had been about the success of the war; and from William Kristol, who had primed the pump of the propaganda machine at THE WEEKLY STANDARD and has led the call for a Presidential pardon. “The case was such a farce, in my view,” he said. “I’m for pardon on the merits.”

    One beltway insider reports that the entire community is grieving—“weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness” of Libby's sentence.

    And there’s the rub.

    None seem the least weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness of sentencing soldiers to repeated and longer tours of duty in a war induced by deception. It was left to the hawkish academic Fouad Ajami to state the matter baldly. In a piece published on the editorial page of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Ajami pleaded with Bush to pardon Libby. For believing “in the nobility of this war,” wrote Ajami, Scooter Libby had himself become a “casualty”—a fallen soldier the President dare not leave behind on the Beltway battlefield.

    Not a word in the entire article about the real fallen soldiers. The honest-to-God dead, and dying, and wounded. Not a word about the chaos or the cost. Even as the calamity they created worsens, all they can muster is a cry for leniency for one of their own who lied to cover their tracks.

    There are contrarian voices: “This is an open and shut case of perjury and obstruction of justice,” said Pat Buchanan. “The Republican Party stands for the idea that high officials should not be lying to special investigators.” From the former Governor of Virginia, James Gilmore, a staunch conservative, comes this verdict: “If the public believes there’s one law for a certain group of people in high places and another law for regular people, then you will destroy the law and destroy the system.”

    So it may well be, as THE HARTFORD COURANT said editorially, that Mr Libby is “a nice guy, a loyal and devoted patriot…but none of that excuses perjury or obstruction of justice. If it did, truth wouldn’t matter much.”

    June 11, 2007

    Christian Parenti Answers Your Questions...

    We'd like to thank Christian Parenti for taking the time to respond so thoroughly to many of your important comments and inquiries.

    Click here for a glossary of many of the terms mentioned in these answers.

    Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Mr. Parenti are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.

    Photo: Robin Holland

    After five years, what is the role of U.S. and NATO forces there? Are they combating terrorists, opium growers, or the Taliban? Is the military mission in Afghanistan as vague as it is in Iraq, only with less public scrutiny?

    Posted by: Bruce from Houston | June 9, 2007 07:24 PM

    The NATO mission is to stabilize Afghanistan. So they fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Hezb–e-Islami. After three years in Afghanistan, NATO got more serious about opium, mostly due to US domestic political pressure. The war is classic counterinsurgency: attacking the civilian base of the rebel population, kick in doors, look for weapons, search, arrest, infuriate all the men in the village while you do it. And later on the way back to base something goes bang under your Humvee. The Taliban have willing recruits but they also pay farmers to attack the NATO troops.

    I think it is all rather hopeless.


    I'm Canadian and our military folk have been in-country for a few years now. Word coming back to us seems to be that the mission of "bringing democracy" to Afghanis seems to be sufficient motivation. I'm not convinced that anyone (or any country) can, in fact, do that. I think societal evolution happens on its own time. I wonder if, in your research, you have come across any non-fiction examples of such foreign "imperialist" (if I might use the non-pejorative dictionary definition) interventions have actually had the publicly-stated intended result (after some "reasonable" period of time has elapsed)? (Understanding, of course, that NATO is not the only imperialist influence in-country).

    Perhaps the political geography of the region and what I, in my ignorance, understand to be a more-or-less constant stream of interlopers crisscrossing (and destabilizing) Afghanistan conspire against any sort of stable country, democratic or otherwise. Comments?

    Posted by: Ken Pantton | June 8, 2007 08:34 PM

    Dear Ken,
    You raise very central questions. I suppose settler colonialism after long periods of blood shed and oppression for native population tend to yield democracy and development, but other than that (and I am not endorsing settler colonialism) I think empire building is an unhelpful thing that tends only to serve the elite population (not even the majority) of the imperial power and rarely ever “the native”, as the Anti-imperialist Frantz Fannon would have put it.

    In many ways, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan were all rather similar at one time but Turkey had Atatürk, and Iran had Reza Shah. Afghanistan had a weak monarchy that was never able to subdue its rural landlords, bandits and tribes; it was never able to build a modern centralized state. After 1949 there was another problem: irredentist conflict with Pakistan. The Durand line, a border drawn up the British in 1893, translated into huge territorial losses for Afghanistan. It’s been a low level war between the two states ever since. You can lay that template on top of this war just as easily as upon the anti-Soviet Jihad, though each conflict also has its unique feature there is always this issue of the Durand line separating Afghanistan and Pakistan.


    Continue reading "Christian Parenti Answers Your Questions..." »

    June 1, 2007

    Bill Moyers asks...

    In his interview with former Senator, Bob Kerrey, Bill Moyers asks:

    I think just about everybody I know, including critics of the President, critics of the war, acknowledge that a unilateral withdrawal would lead to more murder, more mayhem. But how many lives should we expend? How many lives should we sacrifice to reach a state of equilibrium?

    If you were in Kerrey's seat, how would you answer this question?

    May 23, 2007

    Story Update: McClatchy Claims It's Barred from Defense Secretary Plane

    For those of you following the Knight Ridder (now McClatchy) reporters recently featured in BUYING THE WAR, read this recent article from EDITOR AND PUBLISHER:

    Staffers at McClatchy’s Washington, D.C., Bureau — one of the few major news outlets skeptical of intelligence reports during the run-up to the war in Iraq — claims it is now being punished for that coverage.

    Bureau Chief John Walcott and current and former McClatchy Pentagon correspondents say they have not been allowed on the Defense Secretary’s plane for at least three years, claiming the news company is being retaliated against for its reporting.

    “It is because our coverage of Iraq policy has been quite critical,” Walcott told E&P. He added, “I think the idea of public officials barring coverage by people they’ve decided they don’t like is at best unprofessional, at worst undemocratic and petty.”

    Read the full article here.

    May 14, 2007

    Bill Moyers asks...

    As you saw on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with Professor Marilyn B. Young about the war in Iraq and the legacy of Vietnam:
    Watch the video---------------
    BILL MOYERS: You know, I was in the Johnson White House when the President escalated the war in Vietnam. And as with the Bush administration, intelligence was fixed to support the policy. The President brought Congress aboard without telling them the whole truth. The domino theory was our mantra. If we don't stop them there, they'll be here. I mean, Johnson, Nixon, Bush, the foreign policy elites. Is there something in our DNA?
    Now it's your turn to sit in the interview chair:

    "Is there something in our DNA?"

    May 11, 2007

    Bill Moyers Essay: The Cost of War

    Watch the video

    Tonight on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, a report on the true human cost of war.

    Click the picture above to watch the essay in entirety.

    How has this war cost you?

    April 27, 2007

    Bill Moyers: On the Record

    Since the Wednesday broadcast of our documentary Buying the War there has been an overwhelmingly positive response from the press and the public, some of it right here on this blog. But some in the White House press corps have expressed dissatisfaction over the way we portrayed the Presidential press conference of March 6, 2003. Bill Plante, a friend and former colleague, and April Ryan of the Urban Radio Networks have contacted me directly, and CBS's Mark Knoller made comments that ran at

    I invite you to watch what we ran in the documentary and read the transcript and judge for yourself. We posted the transcript on our site before the broadcast, by the way.

    Continue reading "Bill Moyers: On the Record" »

    April 26, 2007

    Landay and Strobel Talk Back

    Thank you for your responses to "Buying the War" and for the insightful questions you submitted to Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel. We apologize but due to the overwhelming traffic on the site experienced Wedneseday night, neither members of The Moyers Blog staff nor McClatchy gentlemen could log on to respond to your comments. But, Landay and Strobel did have a chance to read through your questions and provided some answers below :

    On April 26, 2007 10:26 AM, Mark wrote:

    As usual great reporting. This piece left me with two questions that I hope Bill and his team will be following up on.

    Why - if the administration knew the information was faulty at best and worked so hard to market the war, what was the real reason behind it. Was it related to the secret energy meetings Cheney held early in the administration.

    What next - the administration clearly mislead the american public and the world to engage in an unlawful war. What should become of the architects of this disaster? Are they less than war criminals? Shouldn't this be of primary importance to the media and people that were used and mislead?

    Warren Strobel:
    There were lots of questions last night about what the real reason behind the war is and was. I think we make a mistake if we look for one single, simple answer to explain Bush's decision to invade Iraq (such as oil, etc).

    My sense, from my own reporting and from several good books that I have read - "Assassin's Gate" by George Packer and "Fiasco" by Tom Ricks, in particular - is that there were multiple, overlapping reasons. Let me throw out just a few:
    1) frustration and bitterness among Bush's aides who had served in Bush 41 that they had not overthrown Saddam in 1991;
    2) a desire to recreate the Middle East in their own (democratic) image;
    3) post-9/11 paranoia about another attack from whatever source;
    4) a desire to show, that after being wounded by the 9/11 attacks, the United States could strike anywhere in the world, even if the target wasn't directly linked to the 9/11 plot (former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith actually said something like this).

    So in a sense, it was a Perfect Storm, though as the Moyers documentary points out, it was not inevitable.

    It's also important to remember that while senior Bush aides could have and should have known the entire case was faulty and based on bogus intelligence, it's also probable they *believed* their own talking points. The vice president STILL argues that al Qaida was in Iraq before March 2003, although every bit of "evidence" on that count has been discounted. I refer you to the latest Senate Intelligence Committee report last fall on that score...

    As to what happens to administration officials and the administration in general, that's for the voters to decide. We just try to report the facts and help the public, hopefully, make informed choices.


    Continue reading "Landay and Strobel Talk Back" »

    April 25, 2007

    Q and A with Knight Ridder Reporters

    Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel Tonight's broadcast, "Buying the War" introduced you to intrepid Knight Ridder (now McClatchy) reporters Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, who between them have over 40 years experience reporting on foreign affairs and national security.

    We apologize but due to your overwhelming response, Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel and The Moyers Blog staff were unable to log in to the live chat. We will post answers as soon as we are able. Thank you for joining us on air and keep tuned to the blog for more from Landay and Strobel.

    If you are having trouble posting please email us with your questions and comments.

    Thank you for your patience and participation.

    **Update: Answers by Landay and Strobel Coming Soon**

    April 17, 2007

    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?

    April 16, 2007

    Preview: BUYING THE WAR

    Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 9 PM on PBS (check local listings)

    Watch the video

    How the administration marketed the war to the American people has been well covered, but critical questions remain: How and why did the press buy it, and what does it say about the role of journalists in helping the public sort out fact from propaganda?

    In this clip from the premiere of BILL MOYERS JOURNAL on PBS, Bob Simon of 60 Minutes, who was based in the Middle East, talks about the reporting he was seeing and reading out of the beltway, and John Walcott and Warren Strobel of Knight Ridder newspapers (now The McClatchy Company), discuss their work burrowing deep into the intelligence agencies to determine whether there was any evidence for the Bush Administration's case for war. On Wednesday, April 25 at 9 P.M. on PBS (check local listings), watch "Buying the War," a 90-minute documentary that explores the role of the press in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, which includes interviews with Dan Rather, formerly of CBS; Tim Russert of Meet the Press; and Walter Isaacson, former president of CNN.

    Two days later on April 27, BILL MOYERS JOURNAL airs at its regular timeslot on Fridays at 9 P.M. with interviews and news analysis of underreported stories across an array of beats, including: the environment, media, politics, the economy, arts and culture, and social issues.

    A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

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