See Charlie Rose interview Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman about growing opposition in the United States and abroad to a possible war in Iraq. The show originally aired on March 12, 2003.
Goodman wrote about the interview in the chapter, “Educating Charlie Rose,” in her book, Exception To The Rulers.
CHARLIE ROSE: Amy Goodman is here. She is a journalist; she is the host of “Democracy Now!” — a radio program broadcasting on the Pacifica Radio network. The show is an outlet for those in opposition to a possible war with Iraq. This month it will expand to two hours in order to accommodate more reporting on the war if it comes. Goodman has received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the George Polk Award, and the Overseas Press Club Award. I’m pleased to have her here at this table for the first time. Welcome.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to be with you, Charlie.
CHARLIE ROSE: I should say it’s also on television.
AMY GOODMAN: Yes. We are now the largest public media collaboration on the country. We’re broadcasting on Pacifica Radio, Community Radio Stations, NPR stations around the country, and also on satellite television, on Free Speech TV, on public access TV stations around the country.
CHARLIE ROSE: Get that America?
AMY GOODMAN: And the reason I say that is just because we need public media now.
CHARLIE ROSE: Of course.
AMY GOODMAN: In a time of war we need independent reporting.
CHARLIE ROSE: I don’t know what that means independent in contrast to what?
AMY GOODMAN: It means not being sponsored the corporations, the networks like CBS, ABC, NBC owned by General Electric — or CBS owned by Viacom or Disney is ABC.
CHARLIE ROSE: My point would be in response to that is we do need because you bring a quality of broadcasting and more people ought to have access to the media in order for more voices reporting. Having said that, I promise you CBS news and ABC News and NBC News are not influenced by the corporations it may own those companies. I know one of them very well and worked for one of them. Tell me about what’s going on as you see it in the country in opposition to the war.
AMY GOODMAN: There’s a powerful force not only in the country but around the world — on February 15th, 30 million people the world gave a global response war and they said no. Tens of thousands of people marched. Hundreds of thousands, millions and New York alone around half a million people. This is unprecedented. You have one force that is George Bush representing the most powerful arsenal on earth and then you have another force, the voice of people — not their so called leaders but the people around the world.
CHARLIE ROSE: When you — they are being heard — what is it you think, what assumption you think the White House is making having listened to the president’s press conference, having to the listened to the voices of protests, having read and thought about this yourself, what assumptions do you think the White House is making or the administration is making that are wrong?
AMY GOODMAN: I don’t really know what the administration thinks, but I have a pretty good sense of what people in this country — I mean the majority of people are opposed to war. I think George Bush is making a very serious miscalculation thinking that he can side with basically those that brought him to power, which is certainly not the majority of people in this country as we know from the Election 2000. He was selected he was not elected. And what he has done is he has tried to basically say that he has got the power, right, he is — he represents the most powerful country on earth. It’s true but the people represent something more powerful. And there is corporate globalization. That he represents but there’s grassroots globalization. One thing George Bush has succeeded in doing is united people around the world against him.
CHARLIE ROSE: What is it you think back to my point, is it they are simply against war or are they against war against Saddam Hussein or are they against the United States period?
AMY GOODMAN: I think people in this country and around the world are against a U.S. invasion of Iraq. The media will sometimes show a picture of a target on Saddam Hussein’s forehead. I think it would be much more accurate to show a target on the forehead of a little Iraqi girl because that’s who dies in war. The majority of people who die in war are innocent civilians. And there are people all over in this country in those protests holding signs that say things like how many lives per gallon and no blood for oil. They don’t think that little Iraqi girl should guy for their gas take. Another thing–I often refer to the Bush administration as the Oiligarchy- look at who we have there— we have George Bush who was an oil man. You have Dick Cheney the vice president former head of the largest oil services corporation in the world. You have Condoleezza Rice. She had a Chevron Oil tanker named off her the Condoleezza Rice. And they represent a force that people are beginning to very clearly understand. And they are saying no to it.
CHARLIE ROSE: But as soon as you say that I don’t have to tell you this you know this. You know, Condoleezza Rice came to her position having been provost at Stanford University one of the great universities in this country — elected by not oil men, but elected by faculty and board of the trustees there.
AMY GOODMAN: Condoleezza Rice was on the board of Chevron, the largest oil company, headquarters in California. But it’s not just Condoleezza Rice. It is a group in Washington D.C. in the government that I think very much has lost touch with the American people. We have not seen the level of protest in this country in many, many years. This is far greater than we saw before the Vietnam War, and I really do think the most important message right now is that war is not inevitable.
CHARLIE ROSE: Certain questions I want to raise. What I would love to hear you from and what I am hearing is a sense of how you sit there at that microphone and hear this protest against the war and exactly how you see it and what distinctions do the people make. Clearly there is no one who is protesting this war who looks with favor upon Saddam Hussein because he has done violence and has killed men women and children in atrocious means, correct, so everybody is opposed to Saddam Hussein?
AMY GOODMAN: Unfortunately not everyone. Ask Donald Rumsfeld. He should be asked this question. We have the defense secretary who in 1983 and in 1984 went to Baghdad, shook hands with Saddam Hussein, at a time when both the State Department and United Nations had come out with reports saying he had used chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers there was Donald Rumsfeld as Pres. Reagan’s envoy there, sent there to normalize relations with Saddam Hussein. So I think he needs to be asked why he served as the point man to normalize relations to allow for U.S. companies to sell all sorts of support to Saddam Hussein. We have to look at that history and understand how Saddam Hussein was shored up–this dictator–all of these years.
CHARLIE ROSE: And supported in the war against Iran that he launched.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about terror. Right now we’re talking about use of chemical and biological weapons. Where did he get these? That I joke which unfortunately is not a joke going around is the reason that the U.S. knows he has various components for weapons is because the U.S. has got the receipts. It is very important to point out that they knew he was using this at the time and by the way, the U.S. not only normalized relations with Saddam Hussein, but they also provided coordinates, the intelligence for him to gas Iranian soldiers.
CHARLIE ROSE: Back to Saddam Hussein and intent, if you listen to the president’s press conference he said the following things. He said I believe that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the national security of the United States. I’m president I’m sworn to uphold and defend the national security of United States. I believe that that is my constitutional responsibility. And I believe that Saddam Hussein may be acquiring weapons of mass destruction or have them and that he may as he has used them against his own people may in fact be in some kind of alliance in the future with terrorist organizations like al-Qaida. Does any of that bother you?
AMY GOODMAN: The Bush administration has not proven its case at all. In fact, it’s own intelligence agencies like the CIA have said a number of things. Yes, I am concerned about national security in this country. George Tenet — when testifying before the Senate a few weeks ago — said that a new nuclear arms race is being launched among small nations. I think that is connected to Donald Rumsfeld saying he will not rule out a preemptive nuclear attack. This is very frightening. If countries think they cannot defend themselves, they will arm themselves. I’m afraid we in the United States are at the root of this new nuclear arms race. This is threatening to us. George Bush in his couldn’t quite call it a press conference but in that event last week, he said at the beginning of his talk because really that’s what it was — it was a few questions asked by reporter, but he basically made a few points and did not respond to most of the questions. He said at the beginning could you imagine Saddam Hussein is bugging the weapons of inspectors et cetera. I think there’s an important story that is hardly getting picked up in this country, it was put out by the Observer of London and it’s about a top secret national security agency, NSA memo that went to both the British intelligence and U.S. intelligence talking about the bugging of U.N. Security Council diplomats specifically the middle six countries: Chile, Pakistan, as well as Angola — and Cameroon and Guinea to bug their home phones as well as their office phones their e-mails to see what they are thinking to try to sway them. I don’t think this represents a democracy. I know that the Chilean delegation behind the scenes is absolutely outraged knowing what it meant to live under the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. I think we have to ask very serious questions about the means that the U.S. Government is getting to try to get support for this war. I think the greater think threat to national security is this push for an invasion of Iraq — even the CIA says that Saddam Hussein is not likely to attack unless he is attacked first. This is what is the great threat to national security is a preemptive strike against Iraq. George Bush is engaged right now in a kind of global sniper politics. What was so scary about the snipers? We didn’t know where they would strike next. And that’s what countries see around the world. We have Afghanistan. We then hit Yemen with a missile. I didn’t know we had declared war on Yemen; then it is Iraq.
CHARLIE ROSE: Before you go on let me ask you were you opposed to the military action that took place in Afghanistan as a response to 9/11 and what happens there in terms of the attack on Afghanistan and kicking out the Taliban?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, I don’t think that war, that the killing of innocent civilians is the answer. After 911, you had journalists on television saying 90 percent of Americans are for war. I never believed it. What was the question people were asked. If they were asked do you believe the killing of innocent civilians should be avenged by the killing of innocent civilians more than 90 percent of Americans would say no. Americans are a compassionate people I think level of resistance to war and what George Bush is engaged in now is tremendous in to country and an untold part of story is the level of resistance within the military as well. I was just out at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque where thousands were protesting a Bush invasion of Iraq.
CHARLIE ROSE: Thousands of citizens from Kirtland?
AMY GOODMAN: Thousands of citizens from Albuquerque, New Mexico, outside the Air Force base. They talked about the vigil they kept there and how one day they were standing with their signs and a military man went by and he rolled down his window and said hang in there. Years ago, I went on the Sally Jesse Rafael Show during the Persian Gulf War; she had six women three for; four against the war. After I left the program and it aired, the most interesting response I got was from women on southern military bases who called up and said we agree with you. And they said they can’t have knees debates on military bases but they rely on us and civilian society to have these debates and we need the mainstream media to be there to provide a forum in a democratic society for a debate. Unfortunately in this country I have to disagree with you Charlie respectfully on the issue of NBC, CBS, and ABC — they have provided a very serious disservice to the people of this country when it comes to a true debate around war. Most people are opposed to war yet the vast majority of guests across the board on the networks are for war. They’re a parade of retired generals and -
CHARLIE ROSE: You can make that argument and look at it. That’s not the point I was taking. The point I was making is it’s not dictated by with whoever the corporate ownership is. I promise you that — they are not dictating. They are not saying we want you to have more generals who are in favor of the war than you have generals who are in opposition to the war; that’s just not the way it works.
AMY GOODMAN: They don’t have to say that. They hire the people who will do just that.
CHARLIE ROSE: The argument I have with respect is Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather — a whole range of people — are journalists who have paid their dues and they are very competent journalists who are reporting for news magazines and those broadcasts. As soon as I say that you know I say how important it is I think that you what do and others have an opportunity to be part of the debate.
AMY GOODMAN: I could only say that during the Persian Gulf War what we saw on NBC and CBS, NBC owned by General Electric–at the time CBS was owned by Westinghouse — two of the major nuclear weapons manufacturers in the world — I don’t think it was any accident that what we saw on TV was a military hardware show.
CHARLIE ROSE: Dan Rather was working at CBS before Westinghouse even became a partner — bought CBS.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s not about just one person.
CHARLIE ROSE: You are suggesting that because they choose the people. Im just saying that this is a debate for another time which I’m happy to have them come and talk about that.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me quote Dan Rather himself on BBC — he says he thinks he would be necklaced. He thinks he that he cannot simply speak out and ask the kinds of questions that should be asked. That’s quoting Dan Rather.
CHARLIE ROSE: I’m surprised to hear that. Don’t doubt that he said or don’t know that he said it but I’m not quarreling with your source. I’m surprised since he and I are colleagues at 60 Minutes II that he doesn’t — I just don’t believe that that is his — that that is his opinion that he can’t ask anything he wants to. I think he felt like he could ask anything of Saddam Hussein he wanted to and he said to me chose the questions he wanted to ask.
AMY GOODMAN: Overall I would just challenge
CHARLIE ROSE: Not dictated by anybody in New York.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I would just challenge the mainstream media to open up the ranks to provide a forum for the full diversity of voices that represent this country and people around the world.
CHARLIE ROSE: That’s a perfectly good idea. I don’t have any argument with that idea. I mean, I do have an argument with sort of — with what you have said about who they listen to in terms of their reporting because I have such respect for the people going to the battlefields and reporting from New York in terms their own integrity. It’s wrong to impugn their integrity.
AMY GOODMAN: I was just quoting Dan Rather.
CHARLIE ROSE: Congratulations for the work you do. Thank you for coming. Will you come back?
AMY GOODMAN: I’d be honored.
CHARLIE ROSE: Amy Goodman, Pacifica Radio. Thank you for joining us. See you next time.