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tv   Matt Farwell American Cipher  CSPAN  May 12, 2019 8:10am-9:00am EDT

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system after a a medical mishap left her husband dependent on round the clock care. later, jesse owen -- dmawbl. [inaudible] in the mid 19th century. booktv continues now. he's a look at former soldier bowe bergdahl. >> thank you all for coming out tonight. my name jeff martin with magic city books. we are very excited to have you here in tulsa, oklahoma. we're excited to have our friends from c-span and booktv with us as well tonight to cover this really fascinating story that we're going to dive into a bit. i want to tell you a couple things coming up. we have our literary fest happening very soon, all kinds of stuff planned for the spring and into the summer. you can see that on we won't go through the whole letny of events, but as you know, we do a lot of stuff, and we have a big, fun, varied
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roster coming up. is so stay tuned on. that how many of you are familiar with the odyssey of bowe bergdahl and had heard some of this through the news over the years? yeah? it's something that, you know, over the last decade, we're nearly a decade since this story first began. it's kind of been a little bit everywhere. i kind of, of course, heard the is second season of the popular radio program serial, which was dealing with this. you know, seeing news clips. but i never kind of got the full picture, and that's one thing that's been so fascinating about getting a chance to read "american cipher." when we had the opportunity to brung matt farwell to tulsa to talk about the book and to discuss this truly stranger than fiction story, we jumped at it. math is a freelance journalist, but one of the things, of course, that makes him the perfect person to write this
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story is that he served in the u.s. army and also served in afghanistan. so he comes at it from a very personal point of view and brings the tools needed to tell this story. we're very excited to have him with us. let's give a big welcome to matt farwell. [applause] >> thanks. >> thank you for being here. >> thanks for having me. >> all right. so let's dive in. there's a lot to talk about here, and we only have five hours. so -- [laughter] >> make it last. >> let's make it last. we'll make it worth it. as i mentioned, a lot has been written about, stories have been told. there's been no lack of kind of media saturation for this story -- >> right. >> but this kind of brings everything together. what made you want the tackle this project specifically? >> well, when i started on the story, there was no media saturation. it had been suppressed, effectively, by the pentagon, the white house, the
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intelligence community and, ultimately, by a complicit press itself. and so i worked with a guy named michael hastings who wrote for rolling stone. he wrote an article that got general mcchrystal fired. and we worked our butts off on this story. it was while bowe was still in cabtivity as well, so there were -- captivity, can so there were multiple angles to it. and then the dam kind of broke. at the time i started writing about bowe bergdahl, there was very little out there. and i had served in the exact same area of afghanistan as bowe. i knew that's not a places that you walk off if you're in your right mind. so i wondered what was going on. and i couldn't really get any answers. so i go out of the army, and i started getting some answers. [laughter] >> that's great. you know, one of the reasons that i think, you know, we have journalists and writers like yourself is not just to
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illuminate the world for us, but i think a lot of the best work comes when people are trying to answer questions for themselves, and a fringe benefit is illumination for the general public. let's back up a little bit. for those who don't know the story, kind of give us the 101 on what happened to beau bowe bergdahl and where the story began, i believe, what, june 30, 2009? the. >> correct. on june 30th of 2009, a young private first class named bowe bergdahl who was assigned to the 1st 501st parachute infantry regiment out of alaska walked off his base in a part of afghanistan where you don't really walk off your base. near the border with afghanistan, along a popular smugglers' route, and in very short order he was kidnapped, sold up the chain to the haqqani network which is a kind of mafia, terrorist, like, outside contractor for intelligence agencies, particularly the
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pakistani intelligence agency, and began about four and a half, five years of captivity where he was a bargaining chip, a pawn and, you know, meanwhile his parents were back in the states in idaho not getting any answers and trying to get more answers and just waiting for their son to get home. i kind of heard about the story when it first came out. i just buried one of my best friends down in mobile, alabama, after he overdosed on pills, one of my best friends from the army from when i was in afghanistan. so i got really emotionally -- bowe was from idaho, which is where my parents are in the audience. thank you, guys, for coming. where they're from. so there were a lot of emotional ties to this story that kind of kept me going with it. >> so what were the initial assumptions about bowe bergdahl? was it just awol?
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was it just i want to get out of this? he just bailed? what were the kind of first reports on what this story was? and did it seem unique at the very beginning? >> yeah, it seemed really weird. there were early taliban reports that a, they had caught him while he was lagging behind on a patrol. there were reports that he had been pulled off of a latrine, to use the polite term, not the army term, without wiping his butt. there were reports that he had been in town looking for hash. there were reports that he had had just walked off. and all of these kind of filtered both through the army's information system and then, ultimately, the news. because most of the news at that time was just whatever the army leak you for most of the correspondents in afghanistan and washington, the coverage sort of thing. >> so i want to talk about you personally and talk about your time in afghanistan, because one to have, of course, the threads of the book is the,
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quote-unquote, war on terror that we've been in for nearly 20 years. you know, talk about, you know, your time in the service and -- because, you know, you can't separate the two in my mind from when i'm reading this book. so talk about your entry point into this world. >> so i, i'm from a military family. i lived overseas in turkey during the first gulf war, in germany, in virginia, so i came there that sort of environment and i hated college a lot -- [laughter] and just kind of stopped going my third year. so i dropped out and needed something to do, and working at lowe's wasn't that much fun. so i figured the infantry would work out and, or you know, make me a better person or something -- >> what year was this? what year would that have been? >> i dropped out of college in
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2004, 2005. april, i was joining up. >> and so there was no doubt by that time that there was a lot of stuff happening in the world -- >> there were a couple wars -- >> a very dangerous time. >> not going very well, yeah. >> a very danger time in this war. did you have any sense of where you would end up going, you know? did you want to be in the middle of all the kind of action? were you hoping to get a kind of certain placement there? the. >> yeah. i mean, i joined the infantry, so you don't do that if you're not, like, a little bit nuts and go shoot at things and get shot at for whatever reason. >> right. >> i didn't really want to go to iraq because i didn't think that was a smart war. i thought afghanistan made more sense, you know? i was, like, young and naive then. so i got, i went to airborne school, we all got reassigned from -- after graduating from airborne school to a leg unit in fort drum, new york, called the 10th mountain division. i was 287.
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and from there we deployed almost immediately. so i had very little time. and then we wound up doing a 16-month deployment at a, kind of an interesting time in the war. the taliban, that had mostly fled in 2001 and 2002, were starting to come back into town. >> had you been interested in writing since you were that age? or when did that start, you know? did you keep any kind of journal or record of your time in the service? were you documenting? >> yeah. i had a little nerd notebook. yeah, i was always a reader because we moved around a lot, and i liked books, and we were, you know, traveling a lot. so that wound upper or going into writing, talking notes for whatever reason, keeping a journal. and while i was in afghanistan, actually, i'd written kind of a nasty gram to my university and published it in their kind of
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alternative newspaper, and somebody wrote me, e-mailed me in between two week missions when we were out no showers, anything, hey, we want to publish your essay in this thing, can you fix it up. so i fix it up in between patrols, send it out. that was my first publication credit. then i kind of caught the bug. and then i went totally bananas, crazy, ptsd stuff, alcohol-related stuff after the war, wound up bouncing between mental hospitals and jails. so i'm kind of unemployable other than, like, doing stuff like this. >> i mean, that's a really fascinating -- we've done, there has been kind of this generation of writers that have kind of come out of this war, you know? several people who we've done events with elliot ackerman and phil clyde, and some of them are writing fiction, and some are doing more nonfiction, journalist, reporting.
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but do -- have you found that, obviously, this is not your personal story, but dealing with some of those issues it's been a cathartic process having a project where you could filter some of those things onto the page in. >> god, i wish i could say that, but no. [laughter] no, it's the opposite -- >> because you're having to kind of relive it? >> yeah. and your sitting around, and you're thinking about -- you're writing about bowe bergdahl getting tortured, and that makes you think about the one time you left your flashlight somewhere, and you asked the american contractor, you know, if anybody had found it and you found the guy, and then you tortured the guy for fun, you know? and that was kind of your fault. and then you go back to writing about bowe bergdahl getting tortured. it wasn't -- my parents, my fiancee, they could all tell you that. >> that's another point where i think we should illuminate some things for people. when we think about p.o.w., right, you might think about
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john mccain, or you might think about someone in vietnam, and then you also hear terms like the geneva convention, but do people actually know what that is -- >> do we know what that is as americans. good question. >> but what, in terms of when you started find thing out more about bowe, and i guess to kind of finish the story, he remerges years later. what do we kind of know, as soon as he came back how quickly did we tart getting a fuller picture of what happened to him during that captive period? >> it depends on how we define we. if you mean we the public -- >> yeah. >> quite a while, because there was a lot of disinformation, a lot of political points scored, there was a whole playbook to make bowe bergdahl into obama's willie horton moment. you just turn that -- in willie horton, referencing the dukakis campaign and cupid of this -- >> yeah. and the guy that did it is now
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the ambassador to germany. so that's awesome. >> well, you know, you've mentioned a couple times the idea of kind of covering up, you know, not having access to the pentagon and all these things. how do you start doing that? are you using freedom of information act? are you using -- how are you getting the material to write this book if you don't have true access to the documents and materials that you would need? >> i'm a big believer in knocking on doors, just -- i knocked on so many doors for this book. shoe leather. show up. don't go until they talk to you or refuse to talk to you. there were people that refused to talk to me, you know? stan mcchrystal wouldn't talk to me for some reason. but beyond that, documents are -- court documents are always a wonderful thing. this was built a lot on some of the court documents. and then, you know, the army, yeah, they're subject to foia, the fbi is subject to foia, and
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you can pick up some good stuff that way. but mostly it's being there, being in the place, seeing the people, meeting the people, doing it multiple times, talking to the same person over and over and over again. and then you start to assemble something close to the picture. and then you kind of go a little bit bananas for a while trying to figure out what exactly it is, and then you come back and write it out. >> is bowe bergdahl, what does he represent now in our culture, you know? what -- in 2019, ten years later, you know, is he a figure of mystery still? i guess in some ways yes, is he an inspirational figure, a cautionary tale? you know, what is he to kind of the broader, you know -- looking at the war on terror, if he's a chapter in that story the, what's that chapter? >> well, the book is sort of an
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attempt to view the whole war on terror through the lens of this one young man's story. so you can call him a zealot, you could call him forrest gump, call him a lens through which to view the story. but, you know, he's a representative guy, and honestly, he could have been any of us. >> i mean, he's been every man, right? >> she's sort of -- he's sort of the every man and also sort of the weirdo, sort of the outcast, sort of the person that doesn't belong anywhere and maybe never will, you know? >> because we have this kind of cast of characters over this last 20-year period that kind of fit in different rolls. do you remember john walker lend? you have chelsea manning, you have bowe bergdahl. these are all kind of characters in this larger, you know, drama finish. >> right. >> and his part is very specific. but talk, tell people who don't know who was bowe bergdahl personal hi? how did he get into the service? where did he come from? >> so bowe bergdahl was a young
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man from sun valley, idaho, which any of you know that place, it's kind of a study in contrasts. and he had grown up in a pretty conservative, or strict, regimented christian household. sort of rebelled against that as a teenager. went into town, into sun valley which, again, is kind of a play ground for billionaires, right? people fly in there, go skiing, drink a lot, do drugs, whatever, and then leave. and so bowe went into town. and, you know, he was kind of a weirdo. like, if you saw him walking around town the, he was a sympathetic weirdo, but he was a dude that was sort of obsessed with weapons, just a little bit off, very nice, very hard worker, but people couldn't quite figure him out, right? he was sort of an enigma. and he was really into guns. and so he went off and train thed at a place in mississippi -- trained at a
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place in mississippi or helped work at a gun range that did training at a place in mississippi for navy seals and delta force and those kind of guys. and he got really into it, and then he decided he was going to join the french foreign legion. and he got all the way to paris and then got to the legion recruiting station the, and they rejected him. and he came back, then he decided he was going to join the coast guard. he did that, and he was there for about 27 days, and he had a bloody nose and a panic attack and something else, and they found him collapsed in the bathroom, and he got a psychiatric discharge. a couple years later the army's really hard up for people because the war's not going well. by this time i was back from afghanistan. i was working at the command that oversaw the recruiting command, and it wasn't going well. like, we were really grabsing at straws to get -- grasps at straws to get the new people in. bowe got right in, to the
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infantry which is the best thing to do. by that point, he was kind of or better, or seemed better. he was a good soldier. the dudes in his platoon liked him. you don't really -- you don't care if somebody's a weirdo in a unit like that as long as they're hauling their own stuff, you know, not causing any trouble and sort of, like, pulling their weight and beyond, right? you don't care. and bowe was a good soldier right up to the point where he walked off and wasn't. >> how uncommon is it for someone to just disappear or go awol or whatever the actual term is? does that happen frequently? >> in a combat zone, it's super rare. in -- back home, all the time. all the time. like, we had two or three dudes go awol kind of the first weekend we got back. but overseas it's different because if you go awol, where are you going to go? you know?
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you're an american, presumably none of us spoke pashtun that well. i spoke a little bit. our interpreter spoke a lot. nobody else really spoke much beyond get on the ground or we'll shoot you. to it's not world war ii, you can't go into paris and just escape into a café or something. >> sure. what -- where kind of does -- well, let me back up. talk about when he came home. >> okay. >> what was the initial response, you know? he was not welcomed home -- there were some different reactions. >> yeah. the initial response was a kind of, an attempted welcome home. >> kind of a hero's welcome. >> the president brought his parents out into the rose garden, bob had a huge beard and he spoke pashto -- >> when he got up on the
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stage -- >> to humanize himself with the men who were holding his son. it was a smart strategy the, i think. but it made him look like a we're e doe to -- a weirdo to people who watched it and didn't have any context for that. the white house should have known better. they all know, like, that was bad optics. i don't know why they did that, but they did. .. brought them up to new york, coached if you would want to say. these are guys that are justifiably really upset with bergdahl. like he walked off, he left them. they have not only abandonment
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stuff but they have, we had to go out and look for you for so long. they are mad at this guy. getting a bit of coaching. they are on megyn kelly. it was just sort of public, i don't know, a public beating of someone who just been beaten a lot, literally. >> at the point is more like la symbol. he's not even a person. >> no, he's a character. he's everything that went wrong. meanwhile, dudes that have some culpability and real guilt, dies like petraeus, they go through their scandals and there's no problem. they are running big corporations. he was a scapegoat. and he's a low ranking dude that alternately doesn't matter but we can project a lot of anger onto that guy. >> do you think, to mention the fact there was this attempt to do this rose garden heroes
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welcome which is out of the playbook of what you would see in world war ii. makes me think do you think we are functioning off of 20th century norms in this 21st century world? one of the reasons why there's trouble of dealing with at home realist with the war on terror issues is because we view things through the world war ii, korean war, even in some ways vietnam way of thinking about heroes and war and the kind of general -- >> we view the world through a very highly propagandized lens. that's from every angle. that's from the pentagon. that's from reporters who write about it. embedding reporters with troops was most brilliant thing the pentagon is evident because all of a sudden all they can write our good news stories. it's in hollywood, in the way we view, the fact i get like 10%
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off applebee's. who cares, right? i can get on a plane early, but why? i went overseas. we all went overseas. we didn't make things better in afghanistan, like it's not a thriving country now. there's been this disconnect between what the the military n is and what the military is doing and how it is perceived. that's not accidental. that's entirely like post-vietnam, the pentagon will say let's never let this happen again. >> do you think part of that though is because vietnam is where the line was drawn with since then it's been completely volunteer-based? >> that's a a big part of it. it's easy to create a separate segment of society, labeled and all he rose. clap for them at baseball games and totally forget about anything they do. >> i read recently the percentage of people in america
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who know someone personally who is in the military is like at all time low. >> is very small. and veterans and the military population, we have our responsibility for that, too. we are self isolating. we don't take like civilians when we were in uniform. i still have a problem with people my age, particularly men my age, who haven't put on a uniform or done something like that, you know? it irks me and i don't know why, because i suffer, and what else should suffer, right? i have no idea why that is the we isolate your we are in different locations. we don't mix with the general population. when we do we expect the general population to genuflect to us even when we are being jerks. >> when did we get our first chance to hear from bowe bergdahl post return come in his
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own words? >> he got the chance to self incriminate on the serial podcast the friday before the general was set to make his decision on whether or not to kind of go easy on it are just so the book at him. >> if you guys don't know, serial podcast started by people on npr. the first season was straightforward murder mystery, high school murder mystery with a huge, huge success. they take this 180 and do a second season and the whole season is focused on the story of bowe bergdahl. it's fascinating. i forget also being accused of being exploitation. >> i fall in that camp. >> that probably was in some ways the largest exposure this full story has had. how was it exploited in your eyes? >> it started with the dude named mark. he wrote the hurt locker and
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zero dark 30 working with megan allison, the daughter of oracle guy, larry who made all his might on a cia contractor mark got a lot of cool access to make zero dark 30. he is basically an instrument of the state. he's a propagandist and he's a dirt bag. so he calls up no bergdahl and gets to him through a series of intermediaries and records over 20 hours of tape with them. this is like how long after speedy very soon. with a month or so. the lawyers were always really circumspect about whether or not they okayed it or at all, this is the dude who walked off is based in afghanistan. you and i put a stop them from doing what he wants to do.
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they never really came clean on where exactly to work with that. but so bowe bergdahl granitic movie about this -- had some troubles making movies, serial you to a new hook and so he signed on with him and said i've got all this rock audiotape from bergdahl. out of 20 hours depicted heavyset yes, i wanted to be jason bourne and be awesome, the secret agent and walk off my base. if it just been quite healthy might've been different. but he wasn't because he was unguarded and he was a mentally ill torture victim who had come back from a huge ordeal and was getting exploited. >> talk about how that one moment snowballed, you talked about is a few days before, before the general did that so talk about how that created another situation. >> so the decision would be made by robert abrams who is dead was
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a 4-star general speedy the decision to court-martial. >> and what kind of court-martial. the court-martial, it's a trial. >> i don't need to dumb it down. >> it's a military trial. you can get tried by a jury which isn't necessary of your peers because there's both officers and enlisted or you can just get straight of trial by judge. but otherwise it's pretty indistinguishable from your regular court session. he basically had the option of going to like traffic court or like real court. he goes to real court because this happened, , trump had beenn the campaign trail just railing on bergdahl, saying he should of been shot, like dropping out of a helicopter, isis territory. all sorts of stuff. mccain was not very happy with bergdahl. there was a lot of political pressure. robert abrams is a very political general.
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so of course he was going to go full court-martial, which was weird because forces command at that actually have a full general court-martial since it was founded. there were a lot of unusual circumstances to basically put on this big wetland of being a contempt of trial. >> when you're take it on a subject like this that is a focused rent one person, talk with early attempts or attempts to get involved in the project. >> early attempts are tough because he was in custody. you can't really get a message back and forth but we cut his peers involved in that process. we got a sister involved. we got some of his friends involved. some of the people from his unit. he gets back and some of the getting him involved, just getting him in court. there was a lot of stuff being
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said about it. i went bowling with him. he bowled pretty well, 118, under the name geronimo which was the name of his task force in afghanistan because the military appropriates all sort of american thank you names for both like their weapons and their unit. >> talk about the way that you craft a story. because this book is certainly not a collection of documents. there's a narrative flow here and you have this huge trove of i don't know how many documents you had at your disposal -- >> a lot. >> thousands and thousands of pages. not to mention all that material. how do you whittle that count into something that is digestible? you don't have to know the story at all. lets you see walking off the street and you picked this book up. there is enough to give you speak you thought it was good.
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>> was yes. >> you guys should buy it. >> how do you do that? i think would be easy to get overwhelmed or feel you had put everything in there. >> it is. you start with character in place. he always start with character in place. if you don't have an interesting character there are not interesting place you can describe will. interest would like this yet so many interesting characters. i wrote quite a bit about all sorts of people that got pruned out, but i went with the characters and the places that could kind of tell the main threat of the story and why it was important, which is why they're also time shifts. you go all the way back from bowe just coming back and be interviewed by the general 12 would back the 1979, which seems like a huge leap but when you do this as a multigenerational story, is sort of just room when
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back you to go to. >> i have to imagine there were about 800 different title ideas for this book, or was it speedy no. that was the only proposal and i believe there was one time where about 300 e-mails went back and forth about maybe a different title. it came back to "american cipher." >> what does that mean to you? "american cipher," talk about, i am dumbing things down her but want to make sure people can understand what you mean by these words. "american cipher," though bergdahl, what does that mean to you in terms of why that represents him in the full story? >> cipher is a code, write? it's kind of a mystery, so this isn't just "american cipher" bowe bergdahl. this is "american cipher" bowe bergdahl and the is chatterjee in afghanistan because at work is kind of a decipher. we are still there.
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>> you call it a tragedy of course. sure there are plenty of people who would say otherwise. was there a moment when it took a turn with speedy u.s. involvement or in general? >> let's say both. >> from the 50s 50s to the '60s to the '70s up until the soviet invasion, afghanistan was all right. it wasn't bad. by the time we got involved, we were coming in on a sinking ship. >> so the cake was baked already. >> the best thing we could of done was go in topple the taliban, install some of which we could operate like hunter killer teams out of the embassy to go shoot up bin laden when they popped up again. but instead we sent like armies over there, and kept doing it.
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>> when you hear, the argument comes back it seems like every few months whether to pull all the troops out, keep a certain force there to keep the place stable. there's always the back and forth between the two arguments. where do you come down on that? does it turn into full chaos if we leave entirely? do we owe it to the space to always have a kind of security presence there? >> was iraq and afghanistan full chaos before we got there? are we containing the chaos or are we causing the chaos? this is a debate we don't have as americans. >> the argument could be we went in and destabilize it even further and now that is on us. >> we installed a bunch of narcotraffickers, their top level government officials and now there's a huge opioid epidemic in the u.s. there's no shortage of trouble that came from afghanistan.
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just leave. the pakistanis can take care of it. the chinese can take care of it. the indians can take care of it. the afghans themselves a pretty capable of taking care of themselves because they have not been successfully invaded by foreign power ever. i think they can do okay if we leave. >> do you think americans writ large think we're in a war right now? are you consider as being anywhere right now? you can still are the war on terror which has no inder beginning, it's just this nebulous concept but do you feel like are we a country at war currently? >> i think regular civilians in afghanistan, , iraq, syria, jordan, yemen, sudan, ethiopia, kenya, tanzania, rwanda, they all sure feel like we're at war, right? the philippines, yes. they sure feel like we are at
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war. back here in america i think, i think we do when we can get the warm and fuzzy with the national guard commercial at the beginning of the movie of with a $3.5 million contract whatever the dollar figure is. to do nfl promotions. no, i think we generally shy away from that. we generally shied away from what warnings which is going in somewhere in very mean to people up to the point of killing them. >> we were talking earlier about when you enlisted in the service, in infantry and it was in the middle of a very serious, dangerous dark time. did none of the stuff you're talking about now occur to you at that time? >> i think i probably had some passive suicidal ideation at some time. good to go die in a war. i thought all to do all this. maybe i'll not in the process so it will be cool. but that didn't happen. >> not even in terms of a a personal point of view, but like
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you said this was a lost cause even from the moment we first started. did it feel like that? did you think this thing doesn't have any potential for success? >> but it's not very romantic to fight anything other than a lost cause. so it doesn't dissuade people. i try and dissuade people up and join the military. i know the people that are not going to get to sweetie. they are the young men who are just like me. they're going to do it anyways and they will learn the hard lessons just like bo. bowe way more than me. >> , to make sure with time for questions. does anybody have any questions? right here. >> when we talk about afghanistan and setting at the base, and the place where i soon will looking for hostels all the time, you think you have a secure base. how does he just wander off the
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base? i i mean, i would think man, ths should be secure. somebody should just become in and out. >> i mean, the conception of a scum in the infantry, a firebase can be just like guys in a hole. so the base he had was between a real base like a father, forward operating base, and in vietnam you are -- not even a walled combat. little barriers, the british made a fortune off of filled with sand at the maybe some wire and some trucks providing security. it's not an impenetrable complex by any means. there are blind spots. it's in a bad location. it's at the bottom of the hill and then up to the top of the hill there are draws. there are places that you can get out, and he knew those. there are people that are inattentive believe it or not like both americans and afghans smoke hash onguard.
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[inaudible] >> he claims that he was going to try to make it back and talk to agenda. it was 19 miles away. he could do the same thing in idaho. he could do it in afghanistan. he couldn't. that was proved pretty quick. >> anybody else? >> do you think the attempt at our government to cover up this is also along with how they handled 1979, afghanistan, specifically with the troops that were involved in 1939 afghanistan when we first went in? >> do you mean like the special forces and cia guys and -- >> yes. >> i mean, i don't speed you want to unpack that a little? >> in 19 on the soviets invaded afghanistan, right? and then we initiated a covert like counter invasion.
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and used a lot of, you are now pretty bad dudes, the haqqanis the what's his bucket lex ? anyway, you some bad dudes and we also sent along cia trainers can build up the pakistani infrastructure, built up a lot of the camps that would later train the people to come after us now. that sort of thing. is that what we are talking about. >> was yes. what i'm talking what is vacuum that was left when u.s. withdrew and you have the forces that could come in. >> we are saying like 1994? >> ninety-four-95. >> on the other hand, we kind of had done what with their to do. one thing about the u.s. we're not very good about thinking about the consequences of what we do, really ever, specifically
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with armed conflict and foreign policy. some people might have anticipated that, but also what do you do? do you kill all the dudes that you trained to kill the soviets? how are you going to not over some government some 600 miles to the east that way? so i think it was kind of inevitable blowback, but yeah, i suppose. but on the other hand, they also like to tell that story. charlie wilson's war. they really like that story. they like telling the story of like rambo three, arming the freedom fighters taking like the soviets. they just don't like people connecting that story to the current story. i think you're right maybe that using him as sort of a look over here, might've been part of the strategy. i don't have any way to back that up but it seems logical to
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me. >> what is bowe bergdahl doing today? >> i don't know. he's out of the army. he is not in jail. he pled guilty, got basically time served, doesn't have va care what you think is a colossal oversight on our governments part, like they gave him a discharge to characterize such that a guy that was a pow for five years and ultimately gave us a lot of pretty good intelligence on the network that held him, can't get health care now. i can go into any of the egg and get health care. i do it. like i have a problem, i can the v.a. depends on whether not where i am whether they will find it with the problem is and fix it but i at least have that option. he doesn't have that option. so the one kind of option that i think i have to give him is the option, dude, i wrote a book about you. i invaded the worst part of your
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life, like, i saw you in court every day. your jaw was clenching and you are grimacing at having all of this, just raw stuff exposed, particularly or a very private person. and so i think i kind of oh him the option of not being my friend. not being my pal. i don't have to be up in his business nothing i'm done with that. you pled guilty. you got out. i say dude, , you go your way, i'll go mine. i think he's doing well. i'm in contact with a couple of his lawyers. they would probably tell if something was going on, but other than that i value his privacy, believe it or not, and i wrote a whole book about him. >> is there any restrictions, are there any restrictions on in making money off of his personal story? is he able to write his own book?
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would you be able to do something speedy presumably, ye yes. >> in terms of making a living it seems like the only currency he may have gotten it would be kind of his perspective on what happened to him. it's difficult to imagine him, what kind of job he would go get to make a living off of. >> one thing i will say about him is he's a worker. >> he can do whatever he wants with his own personal story. >> i believe so, and hope he does. if you want to tell it and if he wants to tell it his way, more power to him. like, i think the world should hear it. >> what boldly do you hope people take with from this book other than this story -- more of just what happened, what you want them to take away from it on a larger scale? >> takes just a little bit of the vast length of the lens
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about the military and about our conflicts overseas and about what actually happens to soldiers versus what would like to pretend happens with soldiers, , who soldiers are verses who we idealize their mass. i hope that people learn a lesson from it. i doubt they will. like, we will still be at war in afghanistan. we're not leaving anytime soon, i hope at least a few people get the idea that may be there's a problem with the fact this is the longest war. why are we still there? the war in afghanistan could vote next year. >> are there more things that you plan to write about in this vein? are you done kind of mining this timeframe or you anticipate writing more books about the military-industrial complex or the war on terror or any of those things? >> when people ask you what a right i generally say depressing
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expletive about soldiers and spies. it's true, it's depressing. and so i don't, i tell my parents, i tell my fiancé, i tell my mentor i'm going to quit writing about that. i'm going to write about other stuff. but no, i'll probably write about this kind of stuff. like let's be honest. i'm casting about for my next week that hopefully isn't, this is a really barmore story, you know, and nobody really makes out super well in this story. so i hope to write something a little happier maybe. >> that's good. let's hear it for matt farwell, everybody. [applause] i ideal because of take the time to read the book. we barely scratched the surface tonight but do so. we will be right outside signing copies and come say hi to matt and thank you all for coming. >> thank you.
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>> what would've been the years that they were commoners? >> i would say, my mother was a member of the young communist league of the and student at the university of michigan. my father was not what he was definitely a leftist. after he came back from the war, i would say from 1946-1952. >> did they like the idea of the soviet union and why? >> i think they like -- my father one-time said he was stubborn in his ignorance. i think they like the egalitarian ideas. i think that my father in particular and my mother to some
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extent were shaped by what he saw as the economic inequalities that grew out of the come obviously during the great depression the whole notion of capitalism was in question strongly because what it happened with the collapse of that system. and i think that the stubbornness in his ignorance was not seen the paranoia and murderous history of the soviet union intel later. >> david maraniss tonight at eight eastern on c-span's q&a.
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>> typically what we talk about when we refer to natural rights, there are things the government may not do to you. positive rights, the rights to health care or rights to this with a government program. those are not what we would typically think of in terms of rights. it's something the government must provide for you and must therefore take away from someone else in order to give it to you. that might be something that an individual might regard as good policy i think it's important to make the distinction between what someone might believe is good policy, or not, and a right. we do serious violence to the term rights and to our rights when we dilute the use of the
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word, when we use it in circumstances that don't involve something that the government cannot do to you or allow and facilitate happening to you. >> afterwards airs saturdays at 10 p.m. and sundays 9 p.m. eastern and pacific on booktv on c-span2. c-span2. all previous afterwards programs are available as podcasts and watch online at >> we are so happy to have judy here with us tonight. she is a author of two award-winning poetry poetry collections and two novels which was a finalist for the southern booksellers alliance novel of the year and winner of the so raleigh award for fiction and an award for first fiction or car memoir losing assistant was a finalist for a member of the year. our work has appeared in real simple "washington post" and others and she was born and raised


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