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03/26/15 03/26/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> aerial support and reconnaissance flights started in tikrit. it first began with missions than a compiled the aerial reports. and afterwards, the aerial strike operations started. amy: the united states has begun bombing the iraqi city of tikrit. a nobel peace prize doctors group says over 1 million people have died in iraq. another 220,000 people in afghanistan. this comes as president obama has again delayed the withdrawal of u.s. troops from afghanistan. >> i have consulted with general
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campbell and i've decided we will maintain our current posture of 9800 troops through the end of this year. amy: as the longest war in the history of the united states drags on, we will look at the case of u.s. army sergeant bowe bergdahl. the former taliban prisoner has been charged with desertion could be sentenced to life in prison. and we will look at why climate scientists are calling on some of the nation's top museums to sever all ties with climate deniers and fossil fuel companies. all that and more coming up. welcome to democracy now democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. saudi arabia and other regional allies have launched a military campaign in yemen targeting houthi rebels. the saudi-led air strikes are intended to thwart the houthis' advance after seizing control of the capital sanaa last year and deposing president abdu rabbu mansour hadi last month. hadi called for international intervention on his behalf
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earlier this week. there are conflicting reports over his whereabouts as houthis advance on his outpost of aden. unconfirmed statements say hadi has fled yemen by boat. the houthi-run health ministry says the strikes have killed at least 18 civilians in sanaa and wounded 25 others. -- 24 others. the saudi government says it has consulted "very closely" with the white house on its military campaign. hours before it began, white house spokesperson josh earnest said the hoputhis are stoking unrest. >> targeted president hadi. the actions of the houthis former president saleh have caused chaos that threatens the well-being of all yemenis. amy: other countries involved in the military intervention are the united arab emirates kuwait, bahrain and qatar. the houthis have warned the saudi-led operation will set off a wide war. iran, which backs the houthis, has demanded an immediate end to what it calls u.s.-led aggression.
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u.s.-led coalition warplanes have begun bombing the iraqi city of tikrit in an attempt t seize control of the city from the islamic state. the assault on tikrit began three weeks ago when iraqi forces and iranian-backed shi'ite militia launched a ground offensive. the u.s. airstrikes now squarely put washington and tehran on the same side in the fight, though the obama administration insists it is not coordinating military operations with iran. the pentagon stressed that the airstrikes are aimed to help iraqi forces defeat the islamic state, but by all accounts it , has been iranian-backed militias leading the ground attack. we'll have more on iraq after headlines. the obama administration has indicated it expects to reach a nuclear agreement with iran before next week's deadline. differences remain over the pace for ending u.n. sanctions, caps on centrifuges, and how long the deal would last. but according to "the new york times," a senior state department official gave the administration's most hopeful prognosis to date, saying "we very much believe we can get
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this done," in time. ahead of a new round of talks in switzerland, secretary of state john kerry said critics have offered no viable alternative. >> anybody standing up in opposition to this has an obligation to stand up and put a viable, realistic alternative on the table. and i have yet to see anybody do that. so we will see where we go. amy: the u.s. military has charged army sergeant bowe bergdahl with one count of desertion and one count of misbehavior before the enemy. bergdahl was held in taliban captivity for five years after leaving his army base in afghanistan in 2009. an earlier military report found bergdahl likely walked away from his army outpost in afghanistan of his own free will, but stopped short of finding he planned to permanently desert. bergdahl has said he was beaten, tortured, and locked in a cage after trying to escape. he was freed last year in an exchange for five taliban
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prisoners from guantánamo. on wednesday, an army spokesperson announced the charges. >> the u.s. army forces command has thoroughly reviewed the army's investigation surrounding the surgeons 2009 disappearance in afghanistan and formally charged sergeant bergdahl under the armed forces uniform code of military justice on march 25, 2015 with desertion, with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit, or place and has referred the case to an article 32 luminary hearing. amy: berghdal is currently serving in an administrative role on a texas military base. a pretrial hearing will be held next month. the republican-controlled house has voted overwhelmingly to urge president obama to arm the ukrainian military.
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obama has resisted calls to send military aid to key of saying he doesn't want to provoke further conflict. on wednesday, ukraine received a new shipment of armored military vehicles from the united states. u.s. army has apologized to veterans wounded by exposure to chemical weapons in iraq. a report last year found the pentagon failed to act on claims by more than 600 u.s. servicemembers reported being exposed to chemical weapons in iraq since 2003. "new york times" found they did the -- concealed the weapons that have been developed with your support in the 1980's and deny medical care to the wounded u.s. soldiers involved. u.s. army undersecretary brad carson has admitted the military failed to follow its own policy for treating wounded soldiers and has pledged more medical screening and support. wikileaks has published key chapter of the secret transpacific partnership -- a global trade deal currently being negotiated in secret between the united states and 11 latin american and asian
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countries. the tpp would cover 40% of the global economy, but details of the agreement have been concealed from the public. now, wikileaks has released the "investment chapter," which highlights gritting a tribunal for corporations can sue governments if their laws interfere with a company's claimed future profits. wikileaks warns the tribunal could "chill the adoption of sane" health and environmental policies. in breaking news, a french prosecutor says the copilot of a germanwings plane, which crashed in the french alps, killing all 150 people on board, appears to have crashed the plane to liberally. audio recovered from the plane appears to show the pilot crashed the plane after locking himself inside the car it when his copilot left. the audio shows the copilot ending desperately on the door trying to get back in. thousands of people gathered in montgomery, alabama on wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of
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the culmination of the historic march for voting rights. dr. martin luther king jr. led a third and final march from selma to montgomery on march 24 1965. on wednesday, his daughter bernice king spoke were her father had once stood. >> 50 years ago, it was malice that would not allow study to speak from the steps of the capital. he spoke as timeless words from a flatbed truck in the midst of a boisterous and buoyant crowd. today, i stand where he could not stand. to sympathize our past with our present, and to speak those same profound words that he spoke. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. u.s.-led coalition warplanes have begun bombing the iraqi city of tikrit in an attempt to seize control of the city from
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the islamic state. the assault on tikrit began three weeks ago when iraqi forces and iranian-backed shi'ite militia launched a ground offensive. the u.s. airstrikes now squarely put washington and tehran on the same side in the fight, though the obama administration insists it is not coordinating military operations with iran. the pentagon stressed that the airstrikes are aimed to help iraqi forces defeat the islamic state, but by all accounts it has been iranian-backed militias leading the ground attack in tikrit, the hometown of former iraqi president saddam hussein. qassim suleimani, the commander of the quds force of iran's islamic revolutionary guards corps had been on the ground advising the militias in tikrit as recently as sunday. meanwhile, in other iraq news, a new report has found the iraq war has killed about 1 million people. the nobel prize-winning international physicians for the prevention of nuclear war, and other groups, examined the toll from the so-called "war on
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terror" in three countries -- iraq, afghanistan and pakistan. the investigators found the war has directly or indirectly killed around 1 million pele in iraq, 220,000 in afghanistan and 80,000 in pakistan a total , of around 1.3 million. we are joined now by two guests who worked on the report. hans von sponeck, former u.n. assistant secretary general and u.n. humanitarian coordinator for iraq, who in resigned his 2000, post in protest of the u.s.-led sanctions regime. he is the author of, "a different kind of war: the un sanctions regime in iraq." von sponeck is currently teaching at the university of marburg in germany. he joins us by democracy now! video stream. and dr. robert gould is with us from san francisco, he's the president of the san francisco bay area chapter of physicians for social responsibility. he wrote the foreword for the new international edition of the report, "body count: casualty figures after 10 years of the war on terror'."
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dr. robert gould, the figures laid out in this report say 1.3 million people have died in iraq, afghanistan, and in yemen. and it says that this could possibly be not in over estimate, it says it is the minimum numbers. igo possibly be as high as -- it could possibly be as high as 2 million. you do talk about the significance of what these figures mean? >> as you relate, these are incredible figures in terms of the total counts and they compare markedly with with those estimates that have come out of organizations such as iraq body count in the past, which use what are known as passive methods of detecting casualties in war because they rely on official reports and morgues and things like that to arrive at their estimates. it obviously, those type of methods really lack the ability to determine the full cost of
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war, given particularly in the type of warfare we witnessed in iraq and afghanistan and elsewhere, many of these deaths are really silent in the sense that people are killed by death squads, killed by bombing raids that are really off the records and we don't get to really understand the full impact of the war. that is why a number of the people who are incorporating this in the new issue of "body count" in terms of looking at the totality of the reports there's a very important examination of what -- or active methods of sampling. and these are methods that have been used in diverse places such as sudan, the congo, for their various horrible war situations as well. so what this report really does is bring to us, in its north american release, a fuller accounting of what the human
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cost of that war have been which just listening to the headlines on the news this morning that you have related, we can still see the impacts of the destabilization that our government and allies have created in iraq and elsewhere. amy: and why, the people particularly in the united states, do not see anything like these numbers? the significance of what it would mean? >> well, i think there has been, in a similar way to what our collective experience has been with the reporting in the vietnam war, a real distancing of the impacts of the people over there. we have certainly accounted for the dead and wounded within -- in terms of the numbers of u.s. troops and nato forces in the various conflicts but these
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depths, this destruction, for variety of reasons, too liberally or through self censorship has been kept from the american people so we don't see these real cost. i would also say we don't see the connecting points about how these policies and that degree of death and leads through the destabilization of these regions and their persistent killing that is conducted by drone warfare etc., or insulated -- we are insulated from these effects and don't understand the anger that arises from people who have been through now 12 years in iraq the act of war, even longer in afghanistan, what those effects are. and i would think as a result, people are insulated from the millionaire within which groups like isis arrives. at a time we are contemplating cutting off our removal of
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troops from afghanistan and contemplating new military authorization for increasing operations in syria and iraq, this insulation from the real impacts serves our government in being able to continue to conduct these wars in the name of the war on terror. not only with horrendous cost to the people in the region, but we in the united states suffer from what the budgetary cost of unending war are. amy: this report, "body count" includes iraqi afghan, and pakistani dead. it does not include areas like yemen. we're also joined by hans von sponeck, former u.n. assistant secretary-general and former u.n. humanitarian coordinator for iraq who in 2000 resigned his post in protest of the u.s.-led sections regime.
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thank you for joining us. can you respond as a person who is been deeply involved in iraq, as we speak today, the u.s. is leading the bombing of tikrit what, 12 years after the u.s. first invaded iraq, into this report that you have written an introduction for called "body count"? >> first of all, good morning, any. good to hear you. i'm sorry we can't see each other. but let me just say it is in my experience, not surprising that ultimately, we seek -- coming out of the united states in terms of facing the truth, the facts.
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dianne feinstein did that in december with the release of the cia torture reports. the traditions for social responsibility together with icn w in other parts of the world have released the body count report which both documents i think our incredibly powerful base for which to discuss -- at long last discuss the possibility of redress and learning. learning, for example, that all these interactions, whether it was in iraq or in afghanistan or syria or in libya, the regime change approach to solving problems of international
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relations have no future -- should not have a future. it is so clear now. the body count report makes it very clear that not only young men and women in uniform, but also innocent civilians, once again, become victims. what i very much hope is that the body count publication will not -- will not lead to futile debate on the accuracy of data. it reminds me of the 2000 release by unicef of the child mortality study on iraq, where the debate that should have taken place about the causes of all that, was detoured by a debate on whether body count or
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any other documentation had the correct -- i think in my view, that is irrelevant. we have enough credible data from different sources. in the body count publication tends to show the most recent efforts to at least get credible indicators, not hard-core fact. that is not possible. i think that is the importance of all of this, that we use that debate for a long-overdue debate -- use that data for a long-overdue debate in washington, in london, and certainly the united nations as to why this happened and how one can try and prevent this from recurring in the future. amy: your response to the u.s. bombing tikrit? >> well, it sounds maybe too
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simple to just say, look, what we're saying now is -- have grown. many people will probably disagree strongly in the united states when i say that isis is a relative of a western intervention. isis, as it develops, developed after march 19, 2003. not to acknowledge that i think is pursuing an ostrich farm. it was, in a way, an occupation force that created the first seeds of isis. the sunni belt in central iraq that suddenly was faced with no
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future, a shia future -- we know all these things. of the army, of the bureaucracy the hate convention, structural changes by an occupation army -- all of that led to a reaction. and a lot of reason why isis is today in tikrit has to do with the fact that sunnis another iraqi citizens felt they were betrayed and they started to rise and they started to support the extreme elements that we now see face-to-face with militias with shia origin, iranian forces, and iraqi military also. isis in tikrit goes back to march 2003. that is the point i'm trying to
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make. amy: on tuesday, i participated in a conference at hofstra university online island which was assessing the george w. bush presidency. i want to turn to a clip of my exchange with john negroponte, a man that you know well. he was the u.s. ambassador to iraq the former director of national intelligence. just a quick question. mr. duff said, if we knew then what we know today we might have done things differently which i think is a very reasonable thing to say. do you think that mr. negroponte that knowing what we know today, the iraq war was wrong? and do you think torture is wrong? >> look, torture is never right. amy: do think the bush administration was wrong to engage -- >> i said torture is never right. that is my first point. on my second point, i will just a quick aware fill during the time i lived through those events.
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and you can find quotes of what i said when i was ambassador to the u.n. i was asked if i thought we should use force in iraq. and i said, in questions like this, i think we ought to approach the issue with a great deal of caution. i also said that we ought to -- and i felt that we ought to allow the inspection process more time to do its work. i was disappointed that it wasn't allowed. you know, you have one president at the time. he is the commander-in-chief. he is the constitutional authority, and that is what he decided to do. the last point i would make, to your issue about mohammed el -baradi, glicks and i had a chance to reminisce. i said, we set up this inspection thing and we never found anything and what the heck happened? glick said, that's right, but he
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said, i still don't understand why saddam behaved so guilty. and maybe that is why he had some doubt because saddam sort of admitted, emanated this sort of sensation that he was hiding something. now, some people have speculated, and i think there was an fbi agent who interviewed him extensively, that actually, he wanted some people think he had wmd in his timbre but in the wake of the -- in his neighborhood in the wake of the iran-iraq war. and maybe this was part of his strategy. if indeed it was his strategy, a boomeranged. amy: hans von sponeck, if you could respond what the former u.s. ambassador to iraq in the former head of national intelligence john negroponte said at this session? you are the former u.n. assistant secretary-general and former u.n. military and --
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humanitarian coordinator for iraq. >> well, investor negroponte was a well-known -- i know where he is coming from. what he has to say about the perception of the question why saddam hussein didn't disclose that he had no weapons of mass distraction, i think that speculation surprises me. i think any political element should really have understood very quickly if he or she knew the constellation in the middle east, the war between iraq and iran -- saddam hussein, leader of the region, didn't want to
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show that he was weak, that he had an army that would have no chance against because of the poor recruitment or whatever. [indiscernible] he was ashamed to admit that he was really nobody -- nobody's fault, nobody could take it seriously. so that is one reason why i think saddam hussein acted the way he did. this business with the statement torture is never right. every single page of the 200 pages that i have read as of today of the cia torture report released by the u.s. senate, every page is in the mission --
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an admission of confusion, lack of corporation among the cia fbi, department of state, legal authorities, and that made it possible that horrific violations of u.s. national as well as international law geneva convention, hate convention, all of these documents that say the right thing, were violated by the most unbelievable cruelty -- he has adopted techniques performed -- the suffering that resulted from that. there is only one thing, amy that i feel is missing.
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it took a lot of courage for the release of that report. that has to be acknowledged. i hope countries around the world do so. but there is a word missing. in these 500 pages released, somewhere there should be a reference to accountability. impunity cannot possibly be an answer after -- reading that document. i hope esther negroponte would go a little bunny on just saying torture is never right. well, if that was known at the time he was the head of the intelligence community, and what was done. amy: investor negroponte saying that he felt the u.s. moved into war to quickly in iraq? that he wanted inspections to continue? did that ring true for you on
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your experience with them in iraq? >> if i understood you, i think it is very clear from what my colleague hans glick pleaded for, and that is, give me three more months and i will then conclusively be able to tell you that iraq is armed quantitatively -- that was known in the intelligence community, no longer a threat to anybody. but he wanted to go that last step that would have shown that this armament, arms inspector ever since 1995, has really progressed to the point where one could declare iraq from the
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perspective of weapons of mass destruction as disarmed. but that opportunity wasn't given. amy: hans von sponeck, i know you to leave for a funeral, but i want ask you one last question. you, together with another former u.n. assistant secretary general have been working on this issue of accountability. can you explain what you have been doing? >> if i have a moment, then let me just say that dennis holiday inn i, first of all, we are weekly in contact with each other to pair compare notes. two out of three commissioners of a workroom tribunal -- in 2005 we have been trying hard
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to prepare [indiscernible] evidence of torture performed at different levels in iraq during the years of occupation. the interview in the famous picture of the man and the hood that went around the world, we interviewed this man in the hood. we talked to many of the torture victims from abu ghraib, guantanamo, bagram. this overwhelming body of evidence was published in two volumes that were sent in 2012 to the international criminal court and the sobering response from their was, sorry, we're not responsible for a case like that. there is a new chief prosecutor in the hague and we are now in mid april on the 18th of april
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in fact, the war crumbs commission will meet yet again in kuala lumpur to prepare for the second and hopefully last, mission of this documentation to the international, a court. i should also like to add that last june, i personally handed in the house of commons and house of lords in the u.k. these volumes of evidence in the hope that this would generate the discussion about these issues and the british political circle. but we're not going to give up. extremists [discernible] impunity cannot be the answer. we are very much, amy, encouraged by these moments of
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light, li,ike the publication of the cia torture report traditions for social responsibility have the courage to go along and publishing these documents. so more and more, pardons are coming together and hope it will lead to that which, if nothing else, we owe also to be iraqi people, for them to recognize that the world doesn't accept what has happened in the courts, hopefully, in the united states and in the u.k. will start the proceedings. amy: hans von sponeck, thank you for being with us, former u.n. assistant secretary general and u.n. humanitarian coordinator for iraq, who in 2000 resigned
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his post in protest of the u.s.-led sanctions regime. author of, "a different kind of war: the un sanctions regime in iraq." i want to thank dr. robert gould, president of the san francisco bay area chapter of "physicians for social responsibility." he wrote the foreword for the new international edition of the group's report, "body count: casualty figures after 10 years of the "war on terror'." hans von sponeck was joining us from near freiburg, germany, where he lives. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we will be back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "happy new year," by todd
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snider. in a moment, we will be talking about the charging of sergeant bowe bowe bergdahl. but we turn now to look at the first, war in afghanistan, the longest war in u.s. history. earlier this week, president obama reversed course and announced he will keep nearly 10,000 troops in afghanistan at least through the end of this >> we have just under 10,000. i made it clear we're determined to preserve the gains our troops have one. the president has requested some flexibility on our drawdown timelines. afghans old did with general -- i have consulted with general and i have decided we will maintain our current posture of 9800 troops to the end of this year. amy: this marks just the latest example of president obama pushing back plans to end the war in afghanistan. in 2011, he vowed u.s. operations would be done by 2014. >> our mission will change from combat to support.
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by 2014, this process of transition will be complete in the afghan people will be responsible for their own security. amy: that was 2011. in 2013, president obama vowed to end the war by 2014. >> tonight i can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 american troops will come home from afghanistan. this drawdown will continue. and by the end of next year, our war in afghanistan will be over. amy: well, to talk more about the ongoing afghan war, we are joined by brock mcintosh, who served in afghanistan from november 2008 to august 2009. he applied for conscientious objector status and was discharged in may 2014. he's a member of iraq veterans against the war. your response to this week stability is as president obama stood with the new afghan president ghani announcing the u.s. would remain in afghanistan? >> it seems like every year and
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every few month, it is changing. he is changing his mind about how many soldiers we are going to keep there. it is not much of a surprise. i'm not sure exactly what he thinks is going to be different this time around than from the last year or two during which the security situation in afghanistan has been deteriorating. amy: what do you think needs to happen in afghanistan? >> i think the different parties that are in conflict in afghanistan need to figure out a resolution to their conflicts. because until that happens, the war in afghanistan is going to continue to go -- the afghanistan government also needs to figure out the corruption problem. it is really hard to get the afghan people to buy into the government when they are so deeply corrupt. amy: u.s. military, the same time that we are hearing the u.s. war in afghanistan will continue, the u.s. military has
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announced it has charged armor sergeant bowe bergdahl with one count of desertion and one count of misbehavior before the enemy. berg. was held in taliban captivity for five years after leaving his army base in afghanistan in 2009. an earlier military report found bergdahl likely walked away from his post on his own free will but stop short of finding he played to permanently desert. bergdahl is that he was beaten tortured, locked in a cage after trying to escape. he was freed last year in exchange for five taliban militants who had been imprisoned for many years ago time obey. on wednesday, u.s. army spokesperson colonel daniel king read the charges against bergdahl during a press conference on tuesday. quite u.s. army forces command has thoroughly reviewed the army's investigation surrounding sergeant robert bergdahl's 2009 disappearance in afghanistan and formally charged sergeant bergdahl under the armed forces
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uniform code of military justice on march 25, 2015. with desertion, with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty and missed behavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit, or place. army sergeant bowe bergdahl faces life in prison if convicted. on wednesday, bowe bergdahl plus legal team released a statement from him describing his time held as a prisoner for five years by the taliban. he wrote -- he went on to describing held in a cage. he said he escaped 12 times from the taliban and all. the front page of "the new york times" also quotes a description of him.
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it starts off by saying, and the five years he was held captive by the insurgent network, bowe bergdahl tried to escape 12 times the first just a few hours after he was captured in afghanistan in 2009. you was quickly recaptured and beaten but another attempt be later lasted close to nine days will stuff it" another part of the letter -- nine days. he said "my bodyhe went on to say, some moments after i came to the dying grey light of the evening, i was found by a large taliban searching group. they hit him, try to tear out his beard and hair and returned him to his captors. just a bit of the description. brock mcintosh served in afghanistan from november 2008- august 2 thousand nine. he applied for conscientious
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objector status and was discharged in may 2014. your response to the charge yesterday that was announced against bowe bergdahl? >> the desertion charge doesn't surprise me. i don't imagine the military really had a choice whether or not to charge him. the consequences, if he is found guilty, that is a different matter. the misbehavior -- amy: and that charge he could face up to five years? >> could be as small as just a dishonorable discharge. amy: were saying time served meaning in taliban captivity? >> yeah. the misbehavior before the enemy can be interbedded pretty broadly. they can be something as small as running away for the enemy but i think the reason they brought that charge was because of the accusations that six soldiers had died searching for him. which i think is totally unfair
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-- and unfair claim made by some of the folks who were in his unit. amy: and why do you think that is unfair? >> no soldiers in his unit died in the few months immediately after he went missing, which is when they are going on missions specifically to look for him. the six soldiers who died, died in august and september almost three months after he and gone missing. the claims are things like, they would go on routine security patrol and during that patrol, they would also happen to ask people about bergdahl every once in a while to stop but then someone would step on an ied. but it wasn't a mission specifically to look for bergdahl. the thing is, if they had not been looking for bowe bergdahl they would have been going on missions anyway. they would have been going on security patrols. they would have been pursuing
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alleged insurgents anyway. if you look at the rate of u.s. totality's, the rate of u.s. fatalities in 2009 in bowe bergdahl went missing -- or prior and increased again to 500 -- 500 in 2010. amy: this is a clip of bergdahl's father, bob, speaking in a video produced last year by the guardian. >> hack and we teach at least two generations at least of this country that we have zero tolerance for violence but we can occupy two countries in asia for most a decade? it is schizophrenic. no wonder this younger generation is struggling psychologically with the duplicity of this, the use of
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violence. the purpose of wars is to destroy things. you can't use it to govern. amy: that was bob bergdahl. your response to that as you don't come in afghanistan, as you confronted what was happening there, this new report has come out "body count" from the nobel prize-winning group international physicians with prevention of nuclear war saying upwards of 1.3 million people have died in iraq and afghanistan, and pakistan during the 10 years of the war on terror. the late journalist rolling stone journalist michael hastings quoting e-mails that bowe had sent to his parents one of the quotes from those e-mails come "i am sorry for everything here." what recourse did bowe bergdahl have a seat came to be deeply opposed to the war in afghanistan? >> none.
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there would been no other option for him. i think that speaks to one of the larger issues. there are two larger issues. the first is the fact there was no recourse for him. if you're a soldier in a combat zone and human with any type of war trauma, whether it is ptsd or moral injury, there's very little recourse. the second issue is, bowe bergdahl was discharged from the coast guard in 2006. the army excepted him in 2008 knowing he had a discharge. 20% of recruits in 2008 were given waivers to join the military, and that is because the military recognized they needed more troops because of the surges in iraq and afghanistan, and there were two of popular wars. despite that, they continued to deepen our commitment in those wars. they gave waivers to soldiers who probably should not have gotten waivers. amy: you applied for koch inches
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objector status from afghanistan. >> i apply the summer after i got back from afghanistan. it was a process that was difficult and most people are completely unfamiliar with it. when a went to my company commander, he had no idea what to do. you never heard of it. he did not think of was able to do that. i had to give him army regulations to show him what to do. then the battalion ended up losing my paperwork after a year. it was a very complicated process. even if he had decided to leave when he came home through koch inches objector status, that is also a difficult process. amy: brock mcintosh, thank you for being with us, brock mcintosh served in afghanistan from november 2008 to august 2009. applied for conscientious objector status and was discharged in may 2014. now a member of iraq veterans
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against the war. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we will be back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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>> amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we end today's show with a look at how the nation's top museums are facing calls to cut ties with billionaire funders who profit from global warming. in an open letter, a coalition of climate scientists, museum experts and environmental groups say science and natural history
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museums should stop accepting money from fossil fuel corporations and individual donors like the koch brothers. koch industries has extensive energy industry holdings and has funded climate denial. david koch is a board member of both the american museum of natural history and the smithsonian national museum of natural history. one of the most controversial exhibits is a koch-backed installation at the smithsonian which promotes the theory that humankind evolved in response to climate change. the letter sent tuesday is the creation of a different kind of museum -- the new, mobile natural history museum, which seeks to "highlight the socio-political forces that shape nature" and "affirm the truth of science." the letter reads -- "when some of the biggest contributors to climate change and funders of misinformation on climate science sponsor exhibitions in mhistory, they undermine public confidence in the validity of the institutions responsible for transmitting scientific knowledge. this corporate philanthropy comes at too high a cost." well, for more, we're joined by two guests. beka economopoulos is co-founder
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and director of the new mobile natural history museum and coordinated the letter sent from nobel laureates and other scientists to 330 science and natural history museums. and in santa barbara california, james powell is one of the scientists who signed the open letter. he is a geochemist, former president of the franklin institute, and a former president and director of the los angeles county natural history museum. his new book is called, "four revolutions in the earth sciences: from heresy to truth." we invited the american museum of natural history and the smithsonian national museum of natural history to join us, but they have not responded. welcome, you both to democracy now! james powell, why did you sign this letter? >> thank you very much, amy, it is good to be with you. i signed the letter because i feel very strongly that the most fundamental obligation of science museums is to get the science right. and when you have on your board
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someone who has gotten the science wrong and who is a billionaire and sitting at the table when trustee decisions are made, you at least give the appearance that your exhibit might be tainted and might not be getting the best science. in fact, with the smithsonian exhibit you talked about, i think that is not just an appearance, but it actually is the reality, the notion that we can in vault our way -- you've all our way out of global warming. my grandchildren are already here. there present on the planet. they're not going to you vault by the time they're my age. what is going to happen, the world is going to be a much more dangerous place. amy: you -- you served at the los angeles county natural history -- natural history museum. your director. museums been money. what do you tell fellow
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directors around the country? >> that's right. we're in a real bind. use emc do not have much money of their own. if we want to build a major exhibit, it is when a cost millions of dollars. we have to secure that money yes, from someone. however, i think you have to build a firewall between the donor and construction and the ideas that go into the exhibit. i take the smithsonian's word they did that. however, if you have a major science denier, not just someone who denies it personally, but who is funding denialism with tens of millions of dollars, you don't have to have that person sitting at the table with the exhibit designers. it is known what that person thinks. it is known what their beliefs are. i think if you back at all the way back, you would say, you should not have such a person -- you shouldn't have a science denier on the board of a science
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museum. it is a contradiction in terms and you're just going to get in trouble, so find the money somewhere else. amy: beka economopoulos talk about the group of people who have signed this letter and why you got involved. >> it is a tremendous list of dozens of the world's most prominent scientists, including several nobel laureates who signed this letter. we initiated it as the natural history museum. our own natural history museum the just launched this fall. because we were very concerned that energy companies and the koch brothers socialize and cultural capital from an association to the scientific institutions while they bankroll climate science disinformation and efforts to block action on climate change. amy: what are you doing now? >> we're calling on the museum sector in particular, museums of science and natural history, to
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cut ties to the fossil fuel industry. that means one dismissed client denies an oil billionaires for your boards to cancel fossil fuel industry sponsorship and three, the vest from your financial holdings in the fossil industry. amy: what has been the response of museums? >> so far, no, it from the largest museums that we have called out for having david koch on their board. however, we will say there has been a lot of traction with an overall museum sector. the american alliance of museums, which is a consortium of all of the or most of the countries museums, has blogged about this. we're going to be joining their convention in a few weeks time, the world's largest museum convention. we invite museum professionals who are sympathetic to this effort to get in touch with us.
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we would love to hear from you especially, if you work at the new york and d.c. natural history museums. amy: why target museums? >> there are more museums in the united states than starbucks and mcdonald's combined. the museum sector represents vital societal infrastructure. they are so relevant for conveying information, educating the youth and the public. people have a tremendous amount of faith in the validity of these institutions. when museums accept these contributions, it undermines the trust the public placed in them. and that, in turn, undermines a trust in fate in science in general. museums hedge to this notion of authoritative neutrality, as if neutrality were even a thing. howard then says you can't be neutral in a moving train.
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fossil feel companies are driving this train off the end of the earth. we don't have the luxury of time, so are asking museums to, yes, take a stand, absolutely to reevaluate their roles in a time of profound environment disruption and climate crisis. amy: james powell, it is not only talking about not having fossil fuel industry fund exhibits, but also calling for these large institutions to devasting. there is a student divestment movement around the country getting there educational institutions todivest. can you comment on it in the museum world? >> yes, and a was also a college president during the debate over divestment from south african related stock. if you own stock in a company you do that because you believe that company is going to succeed and you're going to make a profit. you are then a partner with that
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company. and the weather fossil fuel companies make profits is if they sell more fossil fuels, which produces or copper -- carbon dioxide, which makes the train move a little faster, to use beka's analogy. i'm a strong believer that college universities and museums should not be invested in fossil fuel companies. it is not even a good investment, if you look at the future because the reserves of these companies, which are major part of the valuation, as some point, we're going to decide these can't come out of the ground, they have to stay there. and if those comedies have not adapted by going to some other -- amy: james power, we have to end it there, former president of reed college in franklin and marshall and former president of the franklin institute and former director of the los angeles county museum -- natural history museum. and thank you to beka economopoulos. we have to leave it there. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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