tv Reporting from Conflict Zones CSPAN August 11, 2015 1:00pm-2:26pm EDT
campaign trail. republican presidential candidate rand paul in new hampshire. tweeting, we're scaring jobs away. the tax code is scaring business away. we need to simplify the tax code, stand with rand in new hampshire. next, our series of programs, with the family of freelancer james foley, who was killed by terrorists in syria last august. the first american killed by isis. his parents talked about their efforts to save their son and their frustration with the federal government. they were joined by former hostage and ap correspondent terry anderson, who was held in lebanon for seven years. their discussion was hosted by the university of arizona back in february. >> journalism has changed enormously over the last two decades. information that used to move at speed of the printing press, now moves at the speed of light. and matter phones and global internet have put the whole world into the palm of our hand. yet, that relentless scream tre
news and data has not made our world more comprehensivible. speed and technology is one thing. context, something else all together. for me and my colleagues in the school of journalism, serious journalism, real journalism, the idea of journalism we share with our students begins with the simple idea. it is about being there. not just to get the story, but to help illuminate places. it is often about reporters crossing frontiers in the hope they can bring light to the stories of people who live in the world's darker places. yet these days, this kind of journalism comes at a terrible price. and it is that blunt reality that brings us together tonight. john and diane foley and terry anderson can attest firsthand to this brutal truth. we are deeply grateful to them. and to my former colleague, david mccraw, for joining us to share their experiences and thoughts about this hard, new world.
today journalists are seen as targets. not only by terrorist organizations and narcotics cartels, but repressive governments. since the early 1990s, more than 1100 journalists have been killed and many more kidnapped or detained or driven into exile. the toll includes local reporters, who lived and worked in these troubled places. it includes a growing number of freelancers, americans and other westerners, who have been enlisted to cover faraway conflict zoensz. the center for border and global journal itch was launched last fall to help bring greater focus to the challenges facing journalists everywhere as they engaged in more globalized and a more perilous world. working across campuses, not only along the border with mexico but in the middle east and afghanistan, we hope to explore programs and initiatives to preserve and extend the kind
of free and independent global reporting that is essential to a democratic society. what can we all do as professionals, educators, advocates to support the journalists who are out there now? how can we train and equip them and keep them as safe as possible? leading this discussion tonight is my colleague, mort rosenbloom, a member and -. ran bureaus in africa, asia, south america and europe. he is the author of several books on reporting. over his career has filed stories out of 200 different countries. a number of which, mort loves to point out, no longer exist. as mort knows as well as anyone, the essential qualities of a good correspondent have not changed much over time. now it is about curiosity. it is about intelligence.
importantly, it is about empathy. more than ever these days, it is about courage. >> the numbers are shocking, but tell only part of the story. behind the statistics are victims who don't know what might happen next and families who can only hope and pray for something better than the worst. in some regions, death follow for journalists rises with an outbreak of war. as happened in southeast asia in the 1960s and '70s. if other places, such as a nearby border, the danger is ever present. since 1992, 32 journalists have been killed in mexico. until the 1980s, most victims were casualty of war.
journalists were seen as observers of the news, not part of it, and were seldom targeted. then in 1985, terry anderson, the associated press bureau chief in beirut, was muscled into a green mercedes. seven years passed before he could meet his daughter born while he was chained to a wall. his captors were on the fringes of the iranian hezbollah. one told him, as if you were some comfort, don't worry, this is political. when anderson asked, his guard gave him a new, red bible. associated press executives worked with u.s. officials to get him released. the situation changed after 9/11. journalists were targeted for what they wrote, what they represented. in 2002 wall street journal reporter daniel pearl was executed as he pursued al qaeda activity in pakistan. in the years since, a number of journalists who have become victims has increased at an
alarming rate. the threat can be seen clearly in france, near the normandy beaches. in a tree-shaded park, a monument to reporters, 28 columns have been engraved since world war ii with more than 2,000 names. men and women fallen on battlefields or assassinated or killed in accidents while covering the news. since 2001, many of the names have been those of journalists hired in their own societies to get to stories that outsiders can't reach. other names are those of freelancers, who venture from the united states and other nations to cover the news in the most dangerous areas without continuing support of a large news organization. now, with so many freelancers in the field, people such as "new york times" attorney david mccraw, are working to confront the challenges facing journalists and families in these perilous situations. this year a fresh named engraved
in the monument symbolizes the spirit and courage, not only of freelance journalists, but also the family and friends who support them. james foley survived in imprisonment in libya and then went into syria. he was executed on camera. foley's message about the importance of news was clear. the reporter must be there to tell the story. his parents now work tirelessly to make sure that an easily distracted world hears this message. his death is no reason to turn away from the danger. on the contrary, in america, and every other nation, people must support journalists who choose to go into dangerous places on the public's behalf. >> thank you all for coming. we have some serious business to discuss this evening.
in fact, what can be more important than our eyes and our ears in the most perilous places of an overheating planet. ? just some background before we start. about two seconds after i met diane and john foley at the annual war correspondents award in france, i knew this evening had to happen. people seldom get so warm and wonderful, as you'll see. their courage and strength are beyond any words i can come up with. among those white columns you just saw, we mourn also camilla page, a young french reporter killed on the border in the central african reporter. diane put aside her own grief to comfort her distraught mother. the foley's message is wise and unwavering. we need those brave, prepared journalists out there in the ugliest parts of the world.
to reflect realities that we all must understand. we have to learn the hard way, the price is high. not only them but those at home. the foleys started a foundation, and we'll talk about that tonight on the home front. their message brought to mind my old friend terry anderson, a colleague from the ap, for seven years, like so many others, i've worn an aluminum bracelet with his name on it. when he emerged from the lion's den, a wee slip of a terry, none of us could believe his towering spirit -- strength of spirit. today he teaches young people exactly what the foleys tell us. reporters must be out there. and even today, for terry, it's still up close and intensely personal. sulamae welcoming home her
father, is now herself a reporter, covering stories in lebanon and beyond. i asked terry last night if he was worried about her. duh. happily enough, some gifted people work tirelessly to help journalist in trouble. a stalwart among them is david mccraw, "the new york times." i have on my script "the new york times" fifth amendment lawyer and bill schmidt glanced at it and said -- david says, well in arizona, maybe the second amendment lawyer, but it's the first. and i underscored the first amendment. who is also here with us this evening. we're extremely grateful to have this panel. i'm actually -- the foleys are here because john got tired of shoveling snow in new hampshire, but what the hell. terry teaches at the university of florida and his gators ain't
freezing. david accepted bill schmidt's invitation without a second's hesitation. thank you, again, for coming. when i left tucson from here, actually, this school, in the 1960s to get mixed up in far away mayhem, you had to be pretty unlucky or pretty unaware to get into serious trouble. my first post was the congo, covering a mercenary war with drunk-raged rebels with machetes. we knew where they were. we stayed out of their way. in vietnam, the pentagon began trying to limit our access -- in asia, africa, the middle east, latin america, we journalists were simply observers. not part of the stories. as someone put it, garnish at the side of the plate. pretty much across the board, combatants left us alone so we
could tell their side. well, today all that's changed. we are no longer a definable press corps with correspondents who know one another and bosses back home watching our backs. freelance, independents and local reporters hired at low wages operate on their own. freelance means, no wages. it means, you get what you sell. governments arrest them, militia and terrorist groups hold them hostage, gangs with no political purpose kidnap for ransom. so, that's our topic for tonight. what now? and keep in mind, because people tend to forget this, we're talking about journalists. if we as journalists ask our government to protect us, we're asking them to control us. it's a pretty serious conundrum
because that's not what we're there. we're not there as representatives of anybody's government or anybody's anything. at the same time, u.s. citizens elect higher and paid government to do their business. and one job description is helping americans stay alive. we're not a policy pawn for any administration. so, let me start with terry. terry, if you can just give us a brief rundown of how the u.s. government first worked with hostage families back in the early '80s. and then n your case, the associated press, then what changed and how do you see it evolving? >> the american government used to look at hostage taking as a criminal enterprise. and just as you do in crimes that involve hostages, what's
the first thing you do? you bring in a negotiator. that doesn't mean you're going to give them anything or that you're going to reward them for what they're doing, but you've got to talk. by the mid-'80s, by 1985, when i was taken, the government was -- the reagan administration was insisting they would not negotiate with terrorists. as we all know, those old enough to remember the iran contra affair, they were negotiating with terrorists. as a practical matter. until the negotiations were uncovered, became public, and then they stopped. up to that point, they were actually talking to the families of hostages. my sister, peg, who many of you may remember, was a front person for the group of families and was very outspoken in her
advocacy and pressure on the government to get something done. the point man in the white house was a guy named ollie north, marine lieutenant colonel. and she -- peg talked to ollie frequently. and then all of a sudden, it stopped. now when president reagan pounded on the table and said, we do not negotiate with terrorists, he said, we mean it. it's not going to happen. the terrorists, in fact, didn't believe it for quite a while. more importantly, the people in the government that our families had been going to for information and for help, took refusal to negotiate to mean, don't talk to anybody. including the families. and they cut everybody off. and that has pretty much
continued since then. and i think mr. and mrs. foley can pretty much testify that that's the way it goes. they would have to tell the families, keep quiet. we're doing everything we can. in fact, it was an excuse to do nothing. which was a real problem. >> thank you, terry. diane, that's starting to sound familiar, from what we've talked about. what has been your experience, you and john? >> well, jim had -- this was jim's second capture, if you will. he had been in captivity for 44 days in libya, and -- which in retrospect was so brief, but at least there his capture was -- had been witnessed by a "new
york times" reporter. and we knew he was held by the government. and, thus, the state department took the lead rather clearly in that case. and we were in touch with the state department. actually, it was another person who got him out, but nevertheless, the state department was in touch with us. the second time was very different. because we had no idea who had taken jim. he did not report back to his colleagues on thanksgiving day, and we received a call from another freelancer, who had been awaiting his return, that jim didn't show up. that they had been stopped at gunpoint and captured. so, we -- we didn't know what to do. it was just surreal that this would happen again. and jim was freelance, so he had
no organization, if you will, behind him, to come and take care of things, you know, take charge. so, we were frantic, really. and fbi eventually contacted us and told us they would be taking the lead because this was a kidnap of an american citizen outside of the country. and, you know, we thought that was good. i mean, we needed help. so, that's how it started. >> almost immediately the fbi convinced us to go into media silence. certainly, the captors felt similarly. in hindsight, i think that's one of my biggest regrets. media silence helped two entities, one is the fbi and the other is the captors, t.
the fbi had no pressure to go forward with jim's situation and obviously the captors wanted silence for obvious reasons. so, this went on. and after about six weeks, we were really hearing nothing. absolutely nothing. we were frantic. we, fortunately, were able to secure the services of a securities team through jim's paper, "global post," and we began our search. but for one year, we really didn't know where he was nor whether he was alive. >> and at that time, what was most difficult is we really had no person in the government to go to. we had no one who was accountable for jim, if you will, or any of the others who were kidnapped. i started a series of trips to washington, going to state
department and to fbi, you know, just to remind them that jim was still missing. we didn't know if he was alive or not and such. and we -- we were very disappointed. you know, we had no access to anyone with any power or who had any information. and we were not allowed to be part of the effort to gut our son out. i know we can do better as families. at many points i was just appalled at the way we were treated in some instances. >> i think for a year -- it's important that for a year and a half, diane and i were both told that jim's situation was the highest priority. that everything possible is being done to bring him home, but they could tell us nothing
because everything was classified. >> what did they tell you, if you would have gone ahead and started thinking about ransom on your own? >> there was a senior state department person, counterterrorism -- >> he was with nsc, national security council. >> yeah. we eventually got all four families together. this is roughly in may of 2014. he was very blunt. in fact, on three occasions said the same thing. number one, we're not going after him. number two, we're not going to negotiate. number three, we're not going to pay ransom. and, number four, if you try to collect money, you'll be prosecuted, or could -- with high likelihood would be prosecuted. at that point we realized we were on our own. unfortunately, we realized two years later. we said, what the heck, i would rather be in jail than jimmy over there. so, we began to raise money in
terms of pledges. we didn't want to handle the money. it's very difficult to collect money from somebody or collect donation from somebody who might end in jail. we struggled with that, but we had some very fine individuals who were going to go to bat with us. >> thanks. david, as it turns out, there's a new public information person, department of state, who's one of us. a guy named douglas franz, a tremendous investigative reporter at the "los angeles time times". i worked with him after 9/11. we were both in pakistan, trying to get across the border. doug is -- doug gets it. he's a really good reporter. and he's gone over -- he was working on the senate foreign relations committee and now he's up at the state department. so, my question, david, is --
mean, this came up the other day at the museum in washington. his answer was, look, these are american citizens and we're going to do the best we can. and this is being studied very seriously at high levels. did something come from that, david? >> well, i hope so. first, i want to thank the university for having me. and i want to thank everyone that set this up, to be up here with these three brave people. it is an honor for me. my connection to this topic came about because in 2008, one of our reporters, david rhode, was kidnapped and i became the person designated to run the response to that and work with his family and work with the government. and that was shortly followed by another kidnapping and then by detention of four of our reporters in libya. and as a result of all that, i -- it was such an unpleasant experience, such a difficult experience, i really ended up committing a lot of my time to, how can we avoid being in that
position in the first place? so, i spent a lot of time working with people at that time about security. on the government question, that mort asked, it's clear to me from those experiences that the government can and should do better. diane and john and i were talking earlier, and their experience as a family actually is not that different from what we experienced, even though we had access. "the new york times," a powerful institution, we know people, we can get people to come to the phone. and still the failure of the government to share information was extraordinary. there are many, many good people working in government who are very helpful. doug franz has always been extremely helpful. on everything that we need. and we appreciate that. but structurally the idea that the fbi is lead leagagency make absolutely no sense. the fbi does not have the
capacity to solve crimes committed in syria or in afghanistan. and they shouldn't be the lead agency. to give you the one example, and then move on, which is that on thanksgiving day of 2008, the taliban called our bureau in kabul to negotiate for david, who was being held. the fbi was assisting us, very helpfully, by coaching our reporters how to handle those calls. this call came. the fbi could not get marine clearance to leave the embassy. to go to the bureau to help our people. believe it or not, the taliban doesn't stay on the line, waiting. so, this was a lost opportunity. it reinforced to us the limits of what the fbi can do. of course, when it comes to getting intelligence, i'm not sure they're getting intelligence from the cia, the
nsa or anyone else. i'm not sure there's really that level of cooperation when something happens like happened to jim. it's very important that that information be front and center and acted upon. >> well, you know, david, this has changed. back until 2003, gary was the head fbi guy for this sort of thing. and they were much more flexible then. they said -- they were actually look the other way if someone wanted to pay the ransom because it really wasn't the government's business. i'm sorry if i'm answering your question. you know this -- >> no. and i have to say my experience was a little bit different in that very high level fbi official called me and -- after david roade was kidnapped and he said, look, we're not having this conversation. but the way people get out of kidnappings is somebody pays a ransom. don't be an idiot. and that conversation never happened.
but that was -- that was more the style. i was shocked to hear what you went through because there was some practicality. that was in 2008 and '09. i think there's been a shift since then. >> diane and john, in france, when you spent a lot of time with reporters who had been out -- who had been taken and gotten away. for one reason or another, spanish and french reporters. what's been your experience? what's the difference between what goes on in europe and here? >> well, i found there was a huge difference. and that was rather shocking to me. once the spanish and french started coming out, i was just anxious to go there, because it took fbi months to get clearance. i mean, they couldn't even get the government to allow the french or the spanish to get
access to those hostages. so, the fbi encouraged me to go speak to them and to get as much information as i could. so, of course, i tried for them. but, whatever. so, i went as a mother, right? but what i was impressed with in paris, i had the privilege of going to talk to people in the foreign ministry and such, but i also had an opportunity to go to a meeting of the local media d advocacy group that had a representative from the school of journalism, print, tv, radio, and hostage families. and twice a month they would sit together and these were leading media people. and they would vet a lot of the rumors the families were hearing about their loved ones in capitaltivity. we found out the journalists
often knew more than the fbi. that they really knew. but they didn't know who to share it with or how to share it or was supposed to be a blackout. they didn't know what to do. but in france, they were sharing it with the families, vetting rumors that -- advising families, that's one -- probably nothing to that, but that one's good. at the same time, they were making sure the public did not forget that these people were missing. had been kidnapped. so they would -- tv would have by-lines every night, how many days has it been since they've been missing? that sort of thing. they had been pictures of the journalists on every town hall in france. so, they really caused a huge reaction in the public. and the third thing they did is they had high-level access to the government. so, they were able to share
rumors they felt had some validity. i was jealous. i just came home and went -- oh, you know. we were all alone. jim, being a freelancer, didn't have anyone behind him. we had a couple of, you know, good people who stepped up. >> i think this raises a number of issues. number one, in france and spain, journalists are valued. they're almost heroes, or if not heroes. and why is that? they have courage and they bring truth back home so the french and spanish citizens know what's going on in the world and can make proper assessments of how they feel about this or that. it also made us think that, what could be done if this were happening in the united states? our assessment is the country is huge.
there are many, many journalists, freelance or otherwise. what we see on a regular basis is that we're a hot item when there's a fresh story. but after the story dissipates, you couldn't catch a cold, you know? with think that in order for journalism to go to the next level in this country, journalists have to respect themselves. and they have to organize in a way that they're willing to help one another. i think that's part of the way that freelance and other journalists can protect one another. sharing information, assessing risks and really pushing the powers that be to make change to get these people home. one of the things i regret most is that darn media silence because we didn't have the ability -- we gave up the ability to force.
and, obviously, we're a democracy and votes count, pressure counts. we didn't apply the most pressure. the only pressure that would have been meaningful would have been that pressure associated with an organized and -- and media, who wanted to accomplish something good for one of their own. >> thanks, john. listen, let me ask you a question for everybody who's taken the trouble to coming here and paying rapt attention. let's take a great leap here. this is a democracy with people looking as much as the constitution as the super bowl list and oscars lineup. and the people we elect represent what we want and the people in washington that occupy those offices respond to citizens. don't mean to be too cynical. but this is our country. therefore, what is it? let's go down the line, starting
with terry. what is it is that people can -- i mean, citizens can do and should do to make all this better? >> understand what it is we do, what the process is, what reporters are out there for. what their purpose is. and respect what it is we do. most of you who are not involved in journalism really don't understand how journalism works. you don't understand how we gather information, how we vet information, how we choose our stories. how we write them, how we edit them. you don't know the process. it is a pretty rigorous process. the stuff you see in the media, certainly in mainline news organizations, is pretty damn reliable.
most of the reporters i know are doing it not for certainly the money or the fame or the thrill, even those who go out into danger repeatedly. they're not there for the adrenaline rush. they're there because they really truly believe that it's important. it's important for them to find and tell the truth as best they can about what is happening in the world and that you need to know those things. and that is why this go into places like syria or other dangerous places. more and more -- you know, journalism has been changing drastically. we all know that. more and more, the people who do that are independent journalists. fewer and fewer are mainline regular correspondents with an organization behind them.
thankfully, "the new york times" maintains a large and brilliant stable of foreign correspondents. the ap, reuters, that's about it. everybody else is an independent journalist. and that makes it more dangerous for them. they can only earn what they get paid. and the pay levels are pretty miserable. they don't have the money to buy a $600 flack jacket or take a $3,000 personal safety course. and they don't have anybody when they get in trouble, as i did, to spend seven years trying to get you out. they're out there by themselves. i am encouraged by our
industry's move to accept the moral responsibility for the independent journalists that they buy stories from. >> thanks for that. two things before i move to david. one is, a group of organizations kind of spearheaded by david roade, has put together a list of things that journalists ought to know before they get out there and things we ought to know back home. one of those -- a main one among them is news organizations who use the services of journalists should be responsible for them. the second thing i wanted to say is there will be questions. what we would like you to do, if you wouldn't mind, write them down. we have some forms. we have some kind volunteers running around, helping. if you have a question, if you write it down and it comes up, we'll maybe have time for that. thank you, david. >> yeah. let me say two things.
one is, joel simon, a friend of everybody up here, i recently read a new book about all these issues called "the new censorship" and the important thing about this is, that's what this is. this is censorship. this is a civil rights issue. this is a human rights issue. this is not only about journalists being killed, kidnapped and harmed. it's about you and all of us not getting information we're entitled because because censorship is not about the speaker's right, it's about the listener's to receive a message. we have to think about it like that. when we think about civil rights struggles. we need to raise awareness. we need to bring lawsuits and stop impunity in places where those lawsuits will work. those suits then become a beacon to show people that it's wrong for governments to turn their back on their own journalists or not punish those who harm
journalists. so, i think awareness is the first piece here that's really important. to think about it as your rights to -- your right to receive information, your right to know what's going on, not merely our right to publish it. the second thing, and this goes to the great work that the foleys are doing, and dovetails with what terry is saying, there need to be resources for independent journalists. if you think about the whole process, what it is to go in, get a story, come back, face harm and all that, it's throughout that process they need resources. the training they receive and the kid they carry, in the responsibility if they run into a problem. that is an obligation we should all share in. it starts in organizations like my own which feels very strongly that freelance journalists who are working for us should be
treated the same way as our own employees. but it also is broader than that because, more and more as terry was saying, all of us are going to be depending on independent journalist who is are willing to take risks, not supported by formal structures, not supported by established organizations. those people need resources to make sure they're trained, to make sure that they have resources in place to support them while they're out getting stories. and if they run into trouble, that they have resource and organizations to help them. >> thank you. >> which leads us to diane and john's message. i don't mean to speak for them, but i happen to know the main thrust which is correspondents at one point -- we are really our own family out there. as david has aside, as terry has said, that's not really the case anymore, even if we have real jobs.
so oush own families are our own families and our friends. the structures we have back home. so, as you -- tell us also, diane and john, about not only -- and answer the question here, what can be done? what can people do? but talk about the foundation. one of the first things that struck me in their -- the word is grief. thinking about everybody else and thinking about putting together a foundation in jim's name and honor to help other families and to help people who -- you know, who don't have that kind of strength or even those who do. >> well, i certainly agree very much with everything you've said. certainly the raising awareness. as american citizens, we need to be aware of what's being taken from us when, you know, these journalists are killed. and, thus, don't want to go to those areas.
and the other thing is this -- the whole issue of more and more freelancers in dangerous parts of the world. because of how journalism has changed. and there are many independent freelance journalists now. and many -- thankfully there are good companies like "the times" that really take seriously their relationship with freelancers. but there are far more that do not at all. and could care less, you know. and, therefore, one of the things jim's foundation is trying to do, certainly to work with the -- with groups that exist, like protect journalists, reporters without borders and other organization to help freelancers commit to safety practices they can do and also to call on news organizations
too, in fact, protect them if they're going to take stories from them and such. along that area -- jim believed in a free press. he was passionate about it. and, therefore, we also are trying to call on the american media to find ways that they can cla clab rat. such as was done at columbia university where several groups came together in a tiny step, but still a beginning step, that i believe was handed out as you came in, the guidelines that were -- was just a small step. but the historic part of it was that we had people normally competitors, various news organizations signed on together. in that way, it was wonderful. it was very exciting. so, we hope through the foundation to promote more of that.
plus working with -- advocating for american hostages and their families. >> talk about the ris risk assessment. >> yeah, there are many issues, obviously, with freelancers. one of them is, you know, we -- at columbia we were talking with folks at the d.a.r.t. center. that is something that's not as expensive, of course, as some of the survival courses that run in the range, like terry was saying, of $3,000, but more of an ability for these independent journalists to learn how to assess risk. which many organizations can do for them, but when you're out on your own, you're on your own. that's hard. >> we became very much involved with an organization -- very much involved with an organization called hostage uk. hostage uk is a nongovernmental organization build and designed to support hostage families and returned hostages. they are able to link to the
government, help share information with families, but more importantly, they are can walk families through this whole process. when jim was captured, our first response was, where do we go next? well f you have a group of people who have been through all this, you don't have to go through all the ojt that diane did, going back and forth. we can pair people with -- we call them responders. rachel briggs, who is the director of hostage uk, is planning to come to the united states, to help us set this organization up. and we're all -- one of the goals of the fund is to support that financially. it it won't be a simple deal. but we think that when that, in fact, happens, we'll have such a better support mechanism for families in great distress, obviously.
and we're looking forward to moving in that direction. >> thanks. david, just let me go back just for one second to this ransom business, because this business of whether or not to pay ransom. the government -- the u.s. government's position is this funds the bad guys, this sets a bad precedent, this does -- various reasons. in fact, if you're talking about the money, compared to what we've kind of gave them by leaving behind all the stuff we paid for in iraq and everywhere else, i mean, ransoms are pretty much a drop in the bucket. one. and two, it's not really consistent. every so often there will be some strange exchange for a guy in afghanistan, you know, so what about ransoms? >> yeah. i'm in the fortunate position of never having to have to decide. david escaped and steve ferrell
and asulta, our journalists kidnapped in 2009 were the subject of a british raid in afghanistan to take them from the taliban. steve was -- is a uk citizen and steve was rescued and sultan was killed in the raid. and that is pretty much the story with military raids. they're very, very lethal to -- many times to the person to be rescued. i don't think there's an easy answer on ransom and "the new york times" has never had a policy about that. we've been fortunate to never have to actually face that. when i've talked to families over the last six or seven years involved in these situations, it seems to me that the idea that somehow paying ransom encourages
journalists to take more risks is flawed. i don't think anybody wants to be kidnapped. i don't think french journalists go out thinking, i can do what i want because my government will pay a ransom for me. i am also skeptical of the idea that not paying ransom deters kidnappers. that it creates a disincentive. the theory is that kidnappers will not take americans or brits because those countries don't -- technically don't allow ransom. i just don't think they think of it that way. i think they take westerners and they sort out the citizenship later. i think the hard issue is the one that mort mentioned, which is the funding. how the money is used. and i think that you would always want to avoid paying, if you could, but i also know that if it was my son, just as you feel about your children, you would find a way. and it's very hard to make that
into a public policy statement and know this is bad for the future of my country or some hypothetical, theoretical way. but the point i would come back to is the one that mort raised. this is -- i'm not sure we're sending a consistent message to the terrorists and to the kidnappers. there was an exchange of prisoners for private bergdahl. there was an american/german citizen in somalia for whom a ransom was paid and the united states looked the other way. that was, i think, last year. >> uh-huh. >> there was ransom paid in the philippin philippines, which didn't work out so well in 2002. unfortunately, those people didn't make it out. and, again, they were u.s. citizens. the lack of consistency undercuts this notion that somehow we're drawing this hard line. the last thing i would say on this, and others can jump in here because they know it better than i do, i think the idea of
telling families they shouldn't even talk to the hostage takers is really, really bad advice. it is advice that runs counter to every interest, getting intelligence, humanizing the victim, developing a relationship in hopes that something is going to happen, buying time, all good things. if you don't talk to them, those things don't happen. >> and that's what -- that's what we wanted, was just our intelligence and fbi to negotiate, to talk to them, find out what they wanted. we were left as families to negotiate. you know, we didn't know what we were doing. we had no idea. you know, and we were on our own. we can do better than that. i mean, we've got incredible resources, you know, and it
was -- they didn't want to talk to them. and i know that -- we really feel that angered the captors, big time, and, you know, just made everything worse. because they did reach out to us twice trying to negotiate with us. but they wanted to negotiate with our government, not with the folies. they knew we couldn't help. >> yeah. i think that -- that's truly the case. i forgot what i was going to say. >> it's okay. it's okay. >> oh, i know. so the legal aspect of this whole thing is as follows: diane and i got the opinion of several lawyers in washington and our questions to them were what happens if we try to rescue our son through the ransom process? and the answers were interesting. number one, the justice
department has never prosecuted a family for under duress trying to bring their loved one home. never. the fbi had said to us, they will help us negotiate. we told us we should write these friendly letters. as diane pointed out, this just angered the captors because, in france or the other countries, those ransom notes went through the family, through the fbi to the government. i think they assumed that the same was going to happen here. again, another disconnect, another disconnect, you know, if you're going to be helped, let's get helped. if you're not -- >> well, that's what would have been helpful, is to know. be clear. you know, if the government wasn't going to help us, tell
us. in the beginning that we cannot do? this for you. we can't. and be honest about what they were able to do and what they were willing to do. but, unfortunately, that was not the case. >> at the least, delegate somebody from the government to be a liaison. don't the brits do that? >> oh, yes, they have a special cases unit. and france has their hostage crisis unit. we don't. >> let's take questions from the floor. how are we organizing that? oh, nancy, right. >> while we're doing that. let's jump in here.
if they're not going to do that, why there is a need for support so the families that are left to do this have appropriate supp t support, training, and assistance. when our people were taken in libya and this is, again, the shortest distance between the having a major organization behind you. it's like an executive coach. he says, here's what you did that was really good and here's not so hot. tomorrow, we're going to do better. if you're going to be left to do it yourself, you need that kind of support. >> i think there's -- there
should be we're not going to pay ransom as a government, and we're not going to talk to anybody, including the families and certainly not going to talk to the kidnappers. i think we're not going to talk to anybody is a cop out and a cover-up and allows them to do nothing without paying a penalty. that's what they want. that's what i think the advice to families not to go public, not to make a fuss is designed for. but that's what i believe. i'm hoping that the current review of the government's hostage policy is going to find
some space there. that will allow them to do some of the things that mr. and mrs. foley have suggested. that will allow some kind of contact to go on. as i said before, the first thing you do is bring in a negotiator. doesn't mean they're going to pay anything. doesn't mean they're going to give the guys an airplane. it means they're going to talk to see if there's some way to resolve this. we have never seen if there's some way to resolve the problem with the islamic state. we p don't know if there's room on their part because we haven't tried. >> a moral failing. yes.
>> in turkey and new recovering syria. we're getting information about the kidnappings. reporters were giving it to me and i was passing it on to the families. and it's a really strange thing. i didn't feel i could go to the fbi and didn't want to go to the fbi because i didn't think it'd get to the families, quite frankly. they, many times are, all the time are very happy to have it. what were they going to do with the information? whether it's information about where people are being held or anything like is that.
it was not going to be effectively worked on because of the failure of the government to assist. i think that's the success of the british philosophy. helping hostage families understand what is going on would have confidence in the fact they were working to get information. i agree with david. >> i have the envelopes, now i get to do my matthew mcconaughey as long as i don't have to drive a lincoln. here's a question on top which
is exactly that. it's what happens when you guys talk to your congressional representatives? who are really your voice? >> do you want the honest answer? >> yeah. >> nothing. >> no, we never talk to our congressmen. they never reached out to us at all. but our two senators did, many times. and, you know, actually senator shaheen really helped us get into the u.n., helped us get into the state departments, helped us know who to talk to. so in the beginning, sthefs quite helpful in that regard. but that's about it. >> but everybody we talked to patronized us. there was no real -- i don't think there's a real commitment to bringing him home. everybody wanted him home, but no one was really ready to dig in, do the work to get him home. and i, again, i think senator
shaheen was wonderful, but i think they're impotent. they really can't drive the state department and draw the executive office to do what needs to be done. >> at one point, we actually went to talk to senator mccain, the four families. we all went together to talk to him. and he was good to give us an audience and such. >> nothing came of it. >> two questions that are slash here. i'll combine them. one, what was the biggest goal as a journalist? and what would you say to the parents whose children want to be reporters and go out and do this? and how would you like jim to be remembered? >> well, jim was very interested as he said in the human rights side. jim was very concerned about the people who had no voice.
as are most journalists, to be honest, the ones really passionate about giving a voice to the people they talk to. so, one of our biggest deals is to continue that. so part of it is, you know, american hostages don't have a voice. a lot of freelancers don't. and a lot of poor kids in inner cities. so those are three areas that jim cared a lot about that we're trying, you know, god willing to give more of a voice to. >> thanks. >> here's a question that i will resist answering myself and having a stroke. why is it worth the risk and cost to go into dangerous places? is the news and information so obtained quantitytively that much better? and if so, why?
>> all yours, terry. >> all yours, terry. >> hold me back. >> let me step back one thing. and the question about what do you say to your children who want to do this. i worry about it. she does things that are risky. she hasn't covered active war, but she goes into places that are dangerous. what do i tell her? i tell her pretty much the same thing i tell my students. if this is really what you want to do. if you really think this is important enough, then make sure that you're ready for it. make sure you're prepared for it. make sure you know how to deal, how to assess and how to deal with danger.
it's really hard to play the professor with your daughter, by the way. it's really hard. but she does listen and we talk about the things she's doing. and she recognizes that, you know, i've got a lot of experience in this and i've been there. and she accepts some things and other things she tells me, oh, dad. -- >> could you have covered beirut from cairo or from new york? >> no, absolutely not. look, the question really should be, do you want this information? you guys? do you think you need this to know about this, what's happening in the world? okay. i think that it's important. i think you need to know it. and i think it's important enough that i have, in fact, risked my life to cover stories that i thought were important enough. now -- they're always considered risks. i'm not a fool.
i know that if i die, i'm not going to be able to file the story anyway. and the process is every step of the way. not just in my office and i say i'm going to go do this. when i get in the car, when i get there, i get out of the car. every step of the way, i'm weighing, is this worth it? if i'm going to go from here to there. there's a chance somebody's going to shoot at me on the way, i better believe there's something important enough for me over there that i need to do it. and that's the way journalists operate. they're not stupid. it is a risky profession. so is being a policeman, so is being a fireman. there are people who do them. because they think it's important enough to take the risks. i am passionate about the importance of journalists and
journalism and the principles and the role that we play in any democratic system or free society. we are central. you can't have a free society without a free press. they go together. >> thanks, terry. here's one that follows into this. and i think i'm going to answer a bit of it myself. my question here is, why is there such resistance to the common sense practice of getting training and going armed. you know where you are here. i mean, this came up during iraq. with dexter, you know, some of the "new york times" people and some of the others who are saying, well, you know, that was the different situation. and i didn't do much of iraq, so i can't really answer. but i can tell you that, you know, i've been a correspondent for 131 years, and i have never, you know. i did grow up in tucson, i can sort of handle a gun, not very well. i don't really own one, and i can do it. but i've never ever come across
a situation that i could shoot my way out of. and as a correspondent. and i'll tell you another thing, i've come a lot of situations had i been packing, i wouldn't be here tonight. i have never, ever believed that i ever could've used a gun to get me out of any trouble at all. and i know perfectly well if i had had a gun and tried to use it when i was kidnapped, i would be dead. and i'll tell you what. even 7 years in prison is better than that. the only real protection we have in the field is the belief by the people we're talking to that we are not part of the conflict. >> exactly. when you pack a gun, you are part of the conflict and it will
get you killed dead. >> this is another problem, by the way, that's really important and perhaps we should talk about this. is that, you know, a lot of people think that reporters are out there for the fun of it. it ain't fun. but, you know, there are thrill seekers out there. we've had some real crazies that make it dangerous for people and kind of mix the idea of fortune, adventure, journalists and stuff like that. the problem now, people going out there are young people with a lot of courage and a little bit of backing and a lot of drive and training. i mean, some. but they need more. we really need to -- this is not a pitch this is just a reality. kids need to be prepared when they go out for so many reasons
because we don't -- it used to be. the way it would work. you'd find some old guy had been out for a long time, the tools always change. learned things the hard way. there's a lot of things you can only learn by making mistakes. and you don't want people -- anyway. anybody want to comment on that? or should i shut up and ask the next question? >> remember, by the way, the people going out, not many people going out there have any experience in these situations. you know. how many combat vets do you h e have, do you know who are journalists? who have served in iraq or afghanistan. there are a couple. but there aren't very many. >> terry, here's an interesting question.
if you're a person of color from the u.s., do you think the survival of captivity is grea r greater? >> i don't think that has any relevance at all. -- a much better approach to people of color. and i don't think it makes a difference if you're a christian or a muslim. it's not a religious question. these people don't think in those terms. >> john, did you have something? >> yeah, i want to go back to the previous question. and certainly, terry, i would, you know, welcome your comment. but i think if it was not so much competitive nature to some of these -- to get the right -- to get the story, to get it first, et cetera.
more willing to spend some time, figuring out how safe this is. should we be doing this? should we be in groups? and can we use some of the older -- as you put it, old people, as mentors. >> we like to say old crocodiles. >> right. >> i think mentoring can certainly be very effective. >> yeah. >> i have to say, though, as a once very aggressive and competitive young journalist for the "a.p.," there is a surprising amount of cooperation among foreign correspondents. when you don't want anybody else to get it, you're first on the scene. most of the time, international journalists know they are better off helping each other. and they do that quite frequently. and i advised my young students
when they go to a country, the first thing they need to do is check in with the press corps, go to the a.p. office, talk to people who have been there. they'll cooperate. they'll help you. if you're directly competing on a story, they may slit your car tires. there is -- it's surprising that foreign journalists in dicey areas are pretty cooperative. >> all the time. i mean, the risk of boring my students have heard this. i'll use my analogy. a press corps works like a pack of coyotes. you know, one of them gets out ahead and spots the prey and figures it out and takes the first bite and all the rest kind of swarm around and everybody and by the time it's done, everything's picked clean. and today, because of the way the system works and has to w k
work, we're out there working with hyenas. you know, that's -- those aren't metaphors for the people involved, it's just the way things work. one kind of grabs what one can because one has to make a living by selling stuff and various directions kind of pulls it off in the corner and gnaws on the bones and leaves the rest. and so the rest of -- all of us, all of you, we don't really get you know the effect of we can't we let bill riley tell us what happened? this is something about foreign correspondents that we all have to understand and we have to understand it down to our toenails. if they're not there, we're not there.
you're going to fall off the road before. at some point, you just don't know what's going to happen when you go and who you're going to take with you. we need foreign correspondents out there. and the ones we have -- the new york times for all we criticize it, sometimes god bless it still has people out there and some other newspapers still do. a.p., i criticize often. but, again, they've got people out there. there is a report. you read 300 to 400 books a year before -- >> all my life. >> before your capture, is that right? >> i learned to read when i was 3 years old. >> you read a book a day?
i didn't know that. >> pretty much. i read very quickly. >> could you name -- >> i read everything. >> i remember a lot of them. a lot of the books. they used to bring us books, believe it or not, in boxes, used paperbacks. i have no idea where i got them. and bring a box of books. it could be anything. >> good lord, anderson, get a life. >> mysteries, french mysteries, crime novels. i polished my french. french crime novels. and i remember once -- one of the few i didn't read was how to breast-feed your baby. i thought there'd be a little cooperation on that. the only books we ever turned back to them is were barbara cartland novels. >> okay. the oscar music's going up here now.
could you tell us more about the foundation and what you hope to accomplish and what you need? >> well, i guess the reason we started it is because we just don't want jim to have died in vain. jim was a very optimistic person. he really -- he would've wanted something good to come out of this horrific experience. he just would. i just feel that so strongly. and we do as parents. so we're just trying to look at some of the areas where there are gaps. one of them seems to be certainly the there's no one advocating for american hostages in our country that we encountered. let's put it that way. i'm sure there are -- and we did meet some good people. but no organizations if you will. so that is one of our priorities. particularly now with the hostage review. we're trying to, you know,
partner with hostage uk. see if we can't learn from them and adapt it somehow to our country, which isn't easy. our country's a lot bigger. it's different. and we know that. and that's why we need support for that because it is a daunting, you know, experience. ford foundation's already pledged their support. and we need other powerful entities within our own country to think this is an important issue. so certainly that is one of the areas we feel there's a huge gap. the other one is we're really hoping american media can find ways to collaborate. certainly in the field, that's so important. jim seemed to feel that freelancers did as a whole, that's all they had was one another. they tended to really work together in the field. but, we really would love to see if we couldn't do more as
american media for colleagues in captivity, if you will. i realize this complex is very can competitive here in our country. it's not a simple thing. but that's something i think jim would've liked to have seen. you know, some of the hostages mentioned to us once, you know this really was a big hostage issue, crisis, if you will. there are 18 western hostages all held together and nobody knew about it. a lot of the journalists knew about it. a lot of people knew. but the public didn't know. and in their hopeful moments, some of the european freed hostages would say, said to us that they would -- wouldn't this be cool if all of our countries were really working together to get us out? you know, this would be just awesome, you know, a chance for all of us to come together with our allies and -- and it
couldn't have been further from the truth. every country was doing it their own way. all by themselves. so we're hoping that we can do some of the things jim would've wanted to do had he had the opportunity to come home. >> there's a question here along that line. it says, seems like the captors, kidnappers, terrorists assume one government will do the same as another. seems like the u.s. government needs to get on the same page as the european ones. >> well, i think the u.s. government really seriously needs to revise its policies or lack of policies. how they handle hostage incidents. i hope that in this review they're doing that they are talking to hostage families and
former former hostages and getting some real input from them. i fear that's -- there's a bunch of people sitting around a table and the nsc or the state department feeding each other their opinions. i don't know. i hope you guys with your, your movement managed to persuade them to listen like uk hostage and other people. >> well, we need the media's help and the american public to want that, if you will he knew it was dangerous. >> or your a traitor. >> i mean, a lot of americans don't agree. and that's okay.
become aware. how do you feel about it? you know? >> and all of these cases are made difficult for the reasons that john and diane have talked about in terms of the media blackout. and i think that's a topic worth spending a minute on. when david rhode was kidnapped and asked other news organizations not to cover it and from the time david was taken until the time he escaped 7 1/2, 8 months, that was not cover covered. it was a hard decision for us. we're in the business of communicating, disclosing things. it's a tough calculation.
you know, in the first couple of days, going public is probably always a bad idea because you don't know what your person has told the captors. you don't know if your person has said i'm a canadian aid worker. and the last thing you want is the "new york times" saying our person was taken and undercut that. and the second thing you hear, you lose control of it. you know, if you go public, you can't stop, especially in today's world with twitter and facebook and everything. you can't stop what gets said. and you may get things that actually make it worse for yo your -- for your son or your colleague. but all of that said, it does really concern me that the silence takes the government off the hook. that it -- you -- that there is not political push there. the other thing about the silence and i saw this firsthand.
because in -- when our people were taken in libya, we were public, very public about it. and with david rhode, we were not. when you go public, people pop up that can help you. things you haven't thought about. people who have connections. people started calling me and saying, you know what, i don't tell this to a lot of people, but my wife is a lobbyist for the government of libya. seriously, i would like to talk to her. so, you know. >> david, i'd like to add one thing. just to that. something that hasn't been mentioned. and that is the point of view of the guy sitting in the basement chained to the wall. you fear being forgotten. over the 7 years, we were -- at the beginning, we didn't get much news. a little bit here and there, and later, they would allow us
access to a radio for all while or bring in a newspaper or something like that. to hear that this organization was having a visual, or this person was coming to beirut to talk, that your families were sending a message to you was important. to not hear for months on end was devastating. so there is a purpose to publicly talking about your hostage. it does have positive effects, believe me, i know. >> on that, would you finish this up tonight and take that a little bit further. i mean, you spent 7 years, you know, all of us, we're all wearing little aluminum bracelets. we didn't know.
you're chained to a wall for 7 years, you don't know what's coming next. you get out, you have the strength to go through it and get out. today, looking back, you know, you were held a good reporter in your time. a good teacher now. would you do it again? >> i can't tell you how many times people have asked me that? >> thanks a lot. a cliche reporter. >> was it worth it? would you do it again? well, i certainly would not go out on saturday morning to be kidnapped. that wasn't very good. when you're in that situation, you have a lot of time to do nothing but poke around in your head and figure out some things. and think about your life and what you did with it. you think about all the bad things, by the way, first.
i thought about -- i didn't know if i was going to be alive. i was going to survive. and if i didn't, was it worth it? and i spent my life in a productive and worthwhile way as a journalist. and, you know, in all of those years, i can't point to anybody or any problem and say i helped solve that. it doesn't work that way most of the time. >> well, like -- take it from the approach, you talked to my students today. if somebody's asking you, is it worth it still for me to go out and be a foreign correspondent? is it a life? >> i'm just as passionate about journalism as i ever was. i believe it's important. i believe that those years i spent covering mostly violence, by the way, because that was the kind of journalist i was.
it was important to tell those people stories. to tell you what was happening in those places. despite the fact you can't see any result out of it most of the time, you still have to believe that just telling the truth is a good. in itself. and i believe that. and i not only think it was worthwhile career, it was also extremely exciting and very demanding, and i can't think of a better job i could have had than being chief middle east correspondent for the a.p. yeah. sure. i'd do all that over again, if i could. >> thank you, terry, thank you, everybody.
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