Last night President Obama laid out his plan for Afghanistan. The bottom line includes 30,000 more troops, deployed quickly and due to begin returning after 18 months. We look at what the plan means for Afghanistan, and whether or not it will bring stability to the Afghans.
We're joined by Clare Lockhart, co-founder of the Institute of State Effectiveness, who has served as an advisor to U.S. military officials. She worked in Afghanistan on the post-2001 government. We also speak with Michael Gordon, military correspondent for The New York Times.
In 2001, many were excited at the prospect of Hamid Karzai leading Afghanistan's transitional government forward. After winning the country's first presidential election, hopes ran high that Karzai would usher in a transparent, clean government. The recent presidential elections, however, were messy and tarnished by allegations of fraud. What's happened since the heady days of 2001?
We're joined by Ambassador Robert Finn, associate research scholar with the Liechtenstein Institute at Princeton and former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2002 – 2003. We are also joined by Nadir Atash, former Afghan government official and author of "Turbulence – The Tumultuous Journey of One Man’s Quest for Change in Afghanistan."
Hamid Karzai has been sworn in today as the president of Afghanistan for a second five-year term. After an optimistic first presidential election in 2004, this second election was, in the words of President Obama, "messy." It was fraught with allegations of corruption, and looked like it might require a run-off. However, today's inauguration officially secures Hamid Karzai as president for the next five years. The inauguration itself is to be held as a private event on the heavily-secured presidential palace grounds. Anand Gopal of the Wall Street Journal, on the ground in Kabul, gives us the scene during the inauguration.
President Karzai still faces great international pressure to address corruption in the government in order to continue receiving support from the United States. Earlier this week the Afghan government announced plans to create a major anti-corruption unit to investigate senior officials. This Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on ABC's The Week "I have made it clear that we're not going to be providing any civilian aid to Afghanistan unless we have a certification that if it goes into the Afghan government in any form, that we're going to have ministries that we can hold accountable."
We discuss this statement and the possible impact on the future of Afghanistan with Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.
One day before President Barack Obama’s first visit to Asia, China’s foreign minister compared the 1959 Chinese takeover of Tibet to President Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves during the Civil War. Many are wondering whether Obama will address human rights during his visit, and what he might say. We talk to Professor Robert Thurman, professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Columbia University.
A case brought to the Georgia Supreme Court this Tuesday might decide whether Georgia can afford to levy the death penalty any more. Jamie Weis has been sitting in jail for four years waiting for a trial because the state can’t afford to give him adequate representation or his Sixth Amendment-guaranteed right to a "speedy and public trial." Yesterday, Jamie presented a pre-trial appeal — drop his charges, or at least the possibility of the death penalty.
To find out more we spoke with Emily Green, a reporter covering the justice system for Georgia Public Broadcasting, and Robert McGlasson, an attorney at law who represented a previous death-penalty defendant in one of the most expensive cases in Georgia history. (You can read other stories in our "Deep Cuts" series on states' budget shortfalls.)
Some indicators say the U.S. economy is pulling out of its tailspin, but as winter approaches, the number of people who have lost their homes is on the rise. Libby Hayes, executive director of Homes for Families in Boston, says homelessness is a lagging indicator. The economy might be improving, but jobs haven't come back, yet. We're joined by Vannessa LaBarca and James Foresteire, both homeless and having trouble finding work. Steve Berg, from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, says the Obama administration's relief plan is starting to trickle down to families, but it will be a slow process.
Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last five days, you've seen the “Balloon Boy” story, in which a Colorado family claimed that their 6-year-old son had climbed into a homemade helium balloon which then floated across the nation's television screens for the next four hours. When the balloon finally crash-landed, would-be rescuers discovered the boy had never been in the balloon, but had purportedly been hiding out in his family's attic. Over the weekend, the local sheriff accused the Heene family of deliberately hoaxing the public.
We’re joined by famous hoaxter Joey Skaggs; Skaggs has been pulling off hoaxes since the 1960s, and he claims that his website, The Art of the Prank, was one of the first to claim this as a hoax. He agrees that the Heene story feels like a scam and says it violates all the ethical rules of hoaxters.
"Don't do anything that's illegal. Don't take money. And always reveal the truth."
—Joey Skaggs, social-political satirist and hoaxster, on the three rules of ethical "hoaxing."
On Sunday, a suicide bomber killed at least 42 people in Iran, including five senior commanders of the powerful Revolutionary Guard. The Sunni guerilla group Jundallah, or 'Soldiers of God,' claimed responsibility for the attack. This was the deadliest attack against this elite unit since a bombing in February 2007, which was also claimed by the same group. Despite Jundallah's claims, Iran is blaming the United States for the attacks. We dig into this accusation with Professor Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian Studies at Columbia University.
In post-Katrina New Orleans, the education landscape has been rebuilt almost as dramatically as the city itself. There are 88 public schools currently open in the city, but most of the city's 35,000 students attend charter schools; the Big Easy has become the first city in the nation to have more charter schools than traditional schools. The change seems to be doing well by the students, as test scores are rising. On Thursday, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will travel to New Orleans to visit one of the new schools. To find out more about the charter school revolution, we speak to Benjamin Marcovit, the principal of the one-year-old charter school Sci Academy, and Luis Miron, dean of the College of Social Sciences at Loyola University in New Orleans.
His work spanned the world of conservative politics, journalism and the use of words. William Safire, former columnist for The New York Times, novelist, Nixon speechwriter and etymologist, died yesterday at the age of 79. We speak to his former Times colleague, columnist Gail Collins.
Iran test-fired missiles over the weekend and revealed a previously undisclosed nuclear facility. We check in with Julie Mason, White House correspondent with The Washington Examiner, to gauge the reaction on Capitol Hill to these developments.
As the U.N. General Assembly convenes, it brings together all of its 192 member countries; this year, the U.S. is playing a larger role than usual. President Obama will attend some of the proceedings this week, starting with a summit on climate change. Then the General Assembly debate takes place, where a speech by Obama is scheduled to follow a speech by Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. We talk to BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus, who is in New York covering the events.
In July, President Obama spoke at Macomb Community College in Michigan about his commitment to supporting community colleges as a way to restrengthen America's economy. Following up on his promise, the president visits Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, today for a speech on higher education and high tech jobs. We speak to Hudson Valley Community College Professor Rich Porter, department chair of Building Systems Technology.
Yesterday President Obama announced that he is scrapping the Bush administration's plans for a land-based missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. He's opting instead to focus on a defense system that would intercept shorter-range missiles from Iran. This move has upset Poland and the Czech Republic, but pleased Russia, who was against Bush's plan. Is this an intelligent decision based on new information about Iran's weapons? Or will it empower Russia and Iran at the expense of American allies? We speak to former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, who served under President Bush, and to Alexander Cooley, professor of International Relations and Foreign Policy at Barnard College. (Click through for a full interview transcript.)
The Copenhagen Conference, planned for December this year, aims to create a "Copenhagen Protocol" to address worldwide climate change. In preparation for this winter's conference, representatives of 17 countries are meeting in Washington today for a major forum on energy and climate. Included in the meeting are some of the world's biggest polluters, including China and the United States. David Biello, associate editor for Scientific American, joins us with a look at what's on (and what should be on) this group's agenda as they prepare for Copenhagen.
To see climate change in action, watch this video from Extreme Ice Survey, with 26 time lapse cameras in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, Canada, and Glacier National Park, the Extreme Ice Survey is creating the most comprehensive photographic survey of glacial change.
Preliminary tallies in the second-ever Afghan presidential election show incumbent President Hamid Karzai leading in the polls with 55% of the votes. But the cloud of suspicions about the election is not going away; yesterday, European Union monitors estimated that one third of the votes for Hamid Karzai are suspect. The Karzai campaign dismissed the EU findings, and the latest official results show that he has enough votes to win without a run-off — if the disputed votes are included. Rand Corporation's Christine Fair was an election monitor in Afghanistan and she joins us with a look at how the United States will respond to the mounting evidence of electoral fraud.
In 2004, CIA Inspector General John Helgerson completed a report looking at abuses inside CIA prisons. The report has been kept a secret until today, when portions of the report are expected to be made public.
For more on the details of that report, we speak to Siobhan Gorman, intelligence correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and Art Keller, a former CIA case officer who served in Pakistan in 2006.
You can read Siobhan's article, "CIA Faulted for Conduct at Prisons," at the Wall Street Journal, and Art Keller's blog post on secrecy and political accountability around Washington and the CIA, "The Buck Stops Where?"