Monday, November 12, 2012

  • Juan Cole: Real Petraeus Failure Was Counterinsurgency in Iraq, Afghanistan


    CIA director David Petraeus has resigned following revelations of an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, a married U.S. Army reservist. "This personal issue that cropped up that ruined his career at the end, I think, is very much a minor thing ... compared to his big exploits in Iraq and Afghanistan," says historian Juan Cole, who responds to the surprise departure of the former head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Petraeus retired from 37 years in the military to head the CIA last year. Over the weekend, new revelations suggested Broadwell had sent harassing emails to Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old from Florida and a family friend of Petraeus and his wife, Holly. The FBI launched an inquiry after Kelley said she had received vicious emails from the CIA director’s biographer. Its investigation revealed the affair and led agents to believe Broadwell or someone close to her had sought access to his email. On Sunday, Democracy Now! spoke to Cole about the significance of Petraeus’s resignation and about Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani activist who was shot in the head by a Taliban militant for demanding the right of girls’ education. Cole is professor of history at the University of Michigan, and his most recent book is "Engaging the Muslim World." [includes rush transcript]

  • Exposé: Veterans Administration Battles Backlog of Claims for Wounded Soldiers


    On Veterans Day, we look at a major new investigation by journalist Aaron Glantz that questions the government’s commitment to soldiers struggling to re-enter civilian life. Called "Accuracy isn’t priority as VA battles disability claims backlog," the report reveals how thousands of veterans have been denied disability benefits as a result of errors by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Glantz tells the story of Navy veteran Hosea Roundtree, whose claim for disability compensation was denied by the VA despite Roundtree suffering flashbacks of a shelling he witnessed in Beirut while aboard a U.S. Navy ship in 1983. The VA has a duty to assist veterans in developing their facts and evidence to support their claims, but the department reprimanded one of its own employees for attempting to do just that for Roundtree. Jamie Fox lost her job in 2008 after she wrote a memo to her boss arguing that Roundtree’s disability benefits were being denied wrongfully. An internal VA document later showed the agency failed to perform its duty to assist in nearly 11,000 cases at the time, despite the VA acknowledging it makes mistakes on 14 percent of disability claims. We speak with Fox and Glantz, who is a reporter for the Bay Citizen, a part of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. He is also the author of three books, most recently, "The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle Against America’s Veterans." [includes rush transcript]

  • "War is Messy": Military Adviser Calls for More Assistance to Veterans Adjusting to Combat Wounds


    We examine concerns about the treatment needed by many of the 2.5 million U.S. soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. "It takes as much time and energy for a young person to come back and then get into a different routine as it did to prepare them and train them to go to war," says Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired brigadier general who has advised the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on military mental health issues. He is founder and president of the Center for Translational Medicine, which assists in testing and treatment of soldiers and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Xenakis was cited Sunday in the New York Times by columnist by Nicholas Kristof. [includes rush transcript]