FROM William Arkin
September 11, Nine Years Later The 9-11 Commission led by Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean established the National Security Preparedness Group to follow its work with periodic assessments of terrorist threats to the United States. Its latest report , released today, says terrorism is more complex than it was nine years ago and that some US citizens are more dangerous than al Qaeda. In the meantime, the US has built dozens of new intelligence bureaucracies, with thousands of employees, costing more than $75 billion a year. Even some intelligence experts say over-reaction is leading to massive waste and duplication of effort. Is it worth the cost to make America safer? Is it counterproductive? Does it exaggerate dangers, create unnecessary fears and perpetuate an overly powerful national security state?
Iraq, Afghanistan the the Presidential Candidates With a new poll showing Americans split down the middle on what to do in Iraq, John McCain and Barack Obama went point-counterpoint today on Iraq, Afghanistan and America's role in the world. Obama defended his timetable for troop withdrawal, listing the strain on the military, the worsening situation in Afghanistan and the failure of Iraqi politicians to resolve their differences as proof that the surge did not accomplish what it was supposed to. McCain had a scornful rejoinder , accusing Obama of losing one war while trying to win another. Has Obama adjusted his policies because the surge has reduced violence? Is McCain pursuing "victory" in an unwinnable war? We ask those questions and get some perspective from an Iraqi point of view.
Fighting in Iraq Threatens Truce Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has issued a deadline for Shiite militias in Basra: lay down your weapons in 72 hours or face "the most severe penalties." We get an update from a reporter in Baghdad and two perspectives on the situation in Iraq.
The Forgotten War in Afghanistan Six years after driving the Taliban from power, the Bush Administration faces the prospect of failure in Afghanistan. Levels of violence are higher than ever. Although major combat will decline during winter, suicide bombings and roadside explosions will likely continue. As winter sets in, and major combat declines, both the US and NATO are "reviewing their missions." What about corruption in local government and flagging support from the nations of Europe? We talk to a colonel who has learned the Pushtunwali —the Pushtun tribal code of honor, and whose Task Force Fury troops are building roads, schools and clinics six south-eastern provinces.
The Cold War Revisited The US stopped flying bombers armed with nuclear weapons back in 1968, after crashes in Greenland and Spain that contaminated the ground with Plutonium. But last month, a B-52 flew from North Dakota to Louisiana armed with six cruise missiles--each 10 times as powerful as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Tomorrow 100,000 airmen at all Air Combat Command bases will stand down as investigators try to figure out how that happened. Meantime, Russia has tested what it calls the "Father of All Bombs" and resumed Cold-War type bomber patrols close to NATO airspace. What's behind Russia's aggressive behavior? Can the US keep track of its weapons of mass destruction?
US Troops in Iraq: Go Big, Go Long or Go Home? With the mid-term elections over, and an insurgency that continues to rage, the debate is heating up in Washington over what exit strategy the US should follow in withdrawing American troops from Iraq. President Bush says he hasn't decided whether to increase the number of US troops, the Pentagon has been exploring three different options, and a bipartisan panel is expected to come out with its recommendations in the next few weeks. Some policy makers suggest a short-term build-up leading to an exit, others call for an immediate withdrawal. Is it possible to stabilize the situation while still pulling out troops? How will Congressional Democrats wield their new authority? What options is the public willing to support? (An extended version of this discussion was originally broadcast earlier today on To the Point.) Sara Terry guest hosts.
US Troops in Iraq: Send in More, Pull Them out? With the mid-term elections over, and an insurgency that continues to rage, the debate is heating up in Washington over what exit strategy the US should follow in withdrawing American troops from Iraq. President Bush says he hasn't decided whether to increase the number of US troops, the Pentagon has been exploring three different options, and a bipartisan panel is expected to come out with its recommendations in the next few weeks. Some policy makers suggest a short-term build-up leading to an exit, others call for an immediate withdrawal. Is it possible to stabilize the situation while still pulling out troops? How will Congressional Democrats wield their new authority? What options is the public willing to support?
Study Claims Iraq's "Excess" Death Toll at 655,000 American and Iraqi health officials released a report today saying 655,000 Iraqis have died because of the US invasion in 2003. That's 20 times what the President said last December. The highest estimate ever for the toll of the war in Iraq comes from the Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health. It says the total is 655,000 Iraqi civilians dead, which translates to 15,000 a month, a figure President Bush does not find credible.
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
Venezuela spirals into economic and political chaos Venezuela, a country whose potential for prosperity is unmatched, finds itself on the verge of civil war. What sustains the repressive government? With time running out, guest host León Krauze looks at what the international community can do to pull the country from the edge of collapse.