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Friday, March 16, 2012

  • Afghan Massacre Sheds Light on Culture of Mania and Aggression in U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

    Afghantroops

    We speak with journalist Neil Shea, who has reported on Afghanistan and Iraq since 2006 for Stars and Stripes and other publications. Shea discusses his experiences witnessing disturbing behavior during his travels with U.S. troops in Afghanistan and offers insight into understanding the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians. "When we cycle our soldiers and marines through these wars that don’t really have a clear purpose over years and years...we expect light-switch control over their aggression," Shea says. "We expect to be able to turn them into killers and then turn them back into winners of hearts and minds. And when you do that to a man or a woman over many years, that light-switch control begins to fray." [includes rush transcript]

  • Afghan Women’s Activist Rangina Hamidi: Worsening Conditions Should Hasten U.S. Withdrawal

    Ranginahamidi

    Amid U.S. vows to stay in Afghanistan until 2014, we speak with Afghan businesswoman Rangina Hamidi, who argues the U.S. presence there makes the security situation worse. "If the U.S. soldiers cannot do their job, as we are now seeing even more evidence of that philosophy, then I think it is only fair to ask them to leave," Hamidi says. After residing in the United States, Hamidi returned to her native Afghanistan shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Just this year, she came back to the United States due to the deteriorating safety situation in her homeland. Hamidi disagrees with the argument that the U.S. occupation in Afghanistan improves the safety of women. [includes rush transcript]

  • Paula Lerner Remembered: Emmy Award-Winning Photographer of Afghan Women

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    Afghan businesswoman Rangina Hamidi remembers the late award-winning photographer Paula Lerner, who has died of breast cancer at the age of 52. Lerner was the principal photographer for the Emmy Award-winning project, "Behind the Veil: An Intimate Journey into the Lives of Kandahar’s Women Featuring Photography." "Even though she’s physically gone, I would urge more Americans to get involved the way Paula did, because Paula connected with the Afghan people — and, of course, there were women, but you can do that with the men, as well — on a level that none of the international military forces that have been there for more than 10 years could connect," Hamidi says. "Paula put behind all or any pre-notions of what Afghans are and really just gave her soul to the people by being present on a day-to-day, second-to-second basis and not being judgmental about what Afghans were or how Afghans are." [includes rush transcript]

  • "Mind Zone": New Film Tracks Therapists Guiding Soldiers Through Traumas of Afghan War

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    In a new film, psychologist and filmmaker Jan Haaken embeds with military therapists in Afghanistan and at their training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord — where the alleged U.S. shooter of Afghan civilians is from. Lewis-McChord has a controversial record of addressing mental health problems, including high rates of suicides, domestic violence and homicides by soldiers. It was also home to the notorious "kill team," a group of soldiers who murdered Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies. Haaken’s forthcoming documentary, "Mind Zone: Therapists Behind the Front Lines," shows the ethical dilemmas faced by therapists in Afghanistan who guide soldiers through the trauma of war. "The military has relied quite extensively on therapists to kind of help hold people together psychologically in war zones," Haaken says. "But they have to show that they are efficiency multipliers, force multipliers — in other words, that they can help the military get more out of their fatigued assets." [includes rush transcript]

  • State Dept. Seeks Firing of Peter Van Buren, Whistleblower Who Exposed Wasteful Iraq Projects

    Wemeantwell

    The U.S. State Department has taken steps to fire Peter Van Buren, a longtime employee who publicly criticized the Pentagon’s so-called "reconstruction efforts" in Iraq. In 2009 and 2010, he headed two Provincial Reconstruction Teams in rural Iraq. After returning from Iraq, he wrote a book, "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People." Van Buren has also exposed State Department waste and mismanagement on his blog, WeMeantWell.com. For at least six months, he has been under investigation for possible wrongdoings. After his 23-year career with the State Department, he now faces being fired after filing a whistleblower reprisal complaint with the Office of Special Counsel. [includes rush transcript]

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