tv C-SPAN3 Programming CSPAN August 11, 2015 2:25pm-3:33pm EDT
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.
that's it. thank you very much for coming. recently, a hearing held on the increase of number of unwanted phone calls and scams aimed at senior citizens despite laws allowing people to opt out of receiving marketing calls. we heard from someone who was a victim of one of these phone scams as well as a federal trade commission top regulator and a computer science and networking specialist. you can watch the hearing at 4:30 p.m. eastern time and we'll take your phone calls and questions immediately after. over on c-span. >> the c-span's city tour visits sites across the country to hear from authors and civic leaders every weekend on c-span 2's book tv. and american history tv on c-span 3.
and this month with congress on its summer recess, you can find the cities tour on c-span every day at 6:00 eastern. today, the literary life of lincoln, nebraska, including the letters of novelist, biography of chief standing bear, and a book about the removal of native american children from their homes. that starts at 6:00 eastern on c-span. >> we'll feature book tv programming weeknights in prime time on c-span 2 starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern, and for the weekends, here are a few book tv special programs. saturday, august 22nd, we're live from jackson, mississippi for the inaugural mississippi book festival. beginning at 11:30 a.m. eastern with discussions on harper lee, civil rights and the civil war. on saturday, september 5th, we're live from the nation's capital. followed on sunday with our live
in-depth program with former second lady and senior fellow at the american enterprise institute, lynn cheney. book tv on c-span 2. >> award winning photo journalist documents 25 years in afghanistan for "time" magazine and the "new york times." he was one of the few photographers who had firsthand exposure to the rise of militant groups in the region, including al qaeda. mr. nicholsberg spoke in march reviewing the modern history of afghanistan through his photographs. he also talked about his career and his book, afghanistan, a distant war. >> i'm going to give you a brief introduction on how i got to south asia. and then begin a rather rapid 60-image presentation starting from 1988 and going up to 2013.
in 1987, i moved from bangkok, thailand, where "time" had a bureau covering southeast asia when an opportunity opened up in india, new delhi to cover south asia. and having originally starting my career in very small countries, i never thought i'd end up ten years later in the massive land mass in south asia. if you look at the map, particularly national geographic map, it's quite huge. india itself as a continent is incredible, but when i landed, it was the end of the cold war. the context of that period of time, it was the end of the cold war. the united states in russia were still tank to tank in europe. we had tank counts back then if you remember.
central asia started to break apart from the soviet union. which is something very difficult for a nation to encounter and deal with. so moving there, india was asleep at the time as a story for journalists, and i quickly was dumped into pakistan to follow the trail up to -- going through pakistan with backpacks and sort of the disappearing for a month. this was great in many respects. but for me, working for a wee y weekly, i had to deliver film, and it had to go from kabul to pakistan to europe to new york in 24 hours. go to the lab. and that four-letter film is something quite foreign today. it was very manually driven.
and the challenge was more logistic as well as editorial. the beginning -- and i'm going to bookend this conversation tonight with the withdrawal of the soviet army, now better for us tonight to call them the russians with the 2015 withdrawal of the americans. so here you have an afghan soldier handing a flag of friendship to the departing russians, which another element here i had to quickly deal with was the ambiguity and the gray area. and this is essential for anybody working in the region, whether it's africa, southeast asia, china, europe, whatever. you have to embrace ambiguity. keep in mind that the russians
at this point had killed a million afghans. with artillery, carpet bombing, execution style. context is very important here. what is this flag of friendship all about? isi interservice intelligence decided it was time after the soviets had withdrawn to establish a foothold inside afghanistan. insurgency, they d the capital of jalalabad and this is outside the airstrip. this is the rag tag army primarily the major ethnic group in afghanistan.
and you can see the rag tag quality of this, in particular, this captured russian for a hat. he'd obviously gotten that from a garrison they'd already overrun. this is about a 3-hour run from the pakistan border in the pass. but keep in mind also, in this image, and i kind of knew it. but the arabs, bin laden in particular was 2 miles away over this ridge here. they were also at the airport, which was the front line. the battle failed, 8,000 killed, and it was a slap in the face to pakistan as well as the cia. that wasn't going to stop them, though. this is refugees fleeing along the same ride. a series of bomb explosions all along the line. they were obviously using this highway as a marker. boots off and i was caught
totally unaware. that's about as close to carpet bombing as you want to get. so visas became available for journalists in 1988 for the withdrawal and that was a new chapter in coverage that meant official access to the city which had been cut off prior to this. now the page was turned, and we could go into the city and document in particular interesting, the military academy. the confidence and training involved in the military academy of afghanistan. all members also whose families are probably without doubt. having members of the communist party. most of these people had to flee for their lives and ended up in pakistan, iran, india or perhaps europe.
compare that to this. institutionally it began to implode and that's what we got in 2001. this is downtown kabul. this is april in april afghanistan. they were able to establish a foothold inside the country. hakani who was the main tribal leader in this region. this is pakistan right here. you can see the importance of borders and geography. it'll be a recuring theme throughout this evening. this is when they were finally successful in taking over a province. and that spelled, basically doom for the government in kabul. skud missiles were being used. that was the weapon of choice from the government that the
soviets had left behind. you can see these are mostly agricultural guys living on the countryside being pushed across the border in afghanistan. and this is the main conduit for the cia and isi throughout the ten years war. this is one of the main areas they would visit. very well educated. basically the god father of global jihad. in the early 1980s, he went to mecca on a regular basis to raise money for the training camps inside afghanistan. encourage by the cia and pakistan pakistanis. and he was also the one who befriended osama bin laden.
i went there in 1980 to ask him with a reporter if he was training kasmiris, he was, that was the lead and the beginning of the conflict in india in 1989. he was also very hospitable, he didn't care i was an american, he didn't care what passport i had, he didn't care what he told me. it was very much matter of fact. yes, i'm in favor of global jihad, anybody who wants to take it up can come here and train with me. he's also the one who by friended osama bin laden. he's rumored to be in a nursing home somewhere in pakistan, but his sons continue to maintain the network, and this is the backside of the camp. that's a captured russian tank.
this is the backside, you can see how well it's folded into the draws of that terrain. very difficult to see from above and very difficult for a missile to land in. a dry river bed. right across the border from what is called pakistan. these camps are still active. one of the more ethnic groups i came across were the wooegers. there was a big compound. and fortunately enough, the reporter i was working with tony davis who spoke fluent mandarin and grew up in singapore came across -- we knew what was going on here.
he was barking at them in mandarin. they freaked out and they're looking down. they were only there for the weekend. the legacy of this, they're still there in the training camp, still creating trouble for the chinese. back to the city in kabul where you did need a visa. the daily life i was something i was interested ins a photojournalist. and here you have the traditional dance.
it takes place every friday, their day of rest. as things got closer to 1992, this was going on but rocketing was also going on. here you have the one and only daily newspaper being hocked by this young kid. the whole context and content in the photograph is one man who can read reading the newspaper to everyone who can't. this was in march of 1992. and knowing that the government was tottering. "time" magazine insisting we do stay, volunteered to stay.
it's fabulous situation. one week before the government collapsed, this is something i never thought about but dreamed of seeing how an attack on a government is carried out. this is essentially what afghanistan looks like ethnically. and if you learn to read faces, you can see all the major groups here, except the poshtuns. it's a nation of tribes, clans and ethnic groups. here you have the recently defected minister of defense in uzebec. and pretty much that signals you the government is going to
collapse. these are shia sect. one, two, three, and the very charismatic leader. not the good graces of those who favor the poshtuns. they're announcing the takeover one week before it happens. which ministries they're going to attack and which intersections they're going to go for. the whole competition here versus the poshtuns. one week later, you've got these fearless fighters blocking an intersection, and who are they blocking?
but those coming in under the leadership. and also favored by the saudis. if you look closely, no shoes. we also thought their blood might be green. they were just mad and they loved to fight. the victory celebration lasted about 24 hours. 1993, the onus of any civil war falls on the civilians. and here you have a man who went out early morning who went to get probably milk, eggs or vegetables, caught in cross-fire, injured being carried by a civilian and a policeman. a typical scene in downtown kabul in 1993. this is the kabul river that runs through the city. this is the ministry of defense that all the rocketing sending
in 122 millimeter rockets. devastating from some of you may know the phrase katusha rockets. awful armament, but that was daily life for everybody. and this was a typical stand aside the puddle as the tank goes through the scene. again, back to the civilians and how they suffered in downtown kabul. fighting over western kabul, shia sunni, government, nongovernment, deals were being made all the time. but mortar tubes were being aimed essentially straight up. artillery battles and gun battles. and this is one typical family leaving quickly. and if you have five seconds, 30 seconds, 2 minutes, what do you take? and it became very evident to me this was a serious move to get out of town or just move aside quickly, a bicycle, a teacup, a chicken, and a bag of food.
the daughter-in-law and the mother. combined household, and no men of fighting age. eventually, they got to go back two or three days later, but they were caught in the cross-fire on a hillside in downtown kabul. he was not a generous fellow. he not only rocketed the city, but he also cut gasoline, food and u.n. supplies into the capital across the pass. so when gas became unavailable, you had to buy it on the black market, including us in taxis. and this is what it looks like if you have to take a taxi in the morning to go to work. 1993, about 25 people on this car. it's a russian volga. very hearty vehicle. but you can see how low to the ground it is. it could be called the clown car, but it's not really. this is the way you got to work because buses and taxis weren't running.
again, the families suffer in here, a family of 6 without a breadwinner who -- a woman here whose husband had been killed in 1992, had a ration book for food worth about $15 a month. squatting in an apartment in kabul. downtown kabul in 1994, this is the main business district. the front line is right here, no man's land, and down in this, basically the center of the picture is our al qaeda fight s fighters, pakistanis and members of his group. these are government water boys during a lull in the activity. during one of the lulls in the activity, i went down with the british reporter to talk to these people in a similar situation of this at a round about. when all of a sudden, another group of five come up to them and challenge them and accuse this group of stealing their television.
and why anyone would want to fight over a television where there's no electricity is beyond me. but how do they solve this argument? by lowering it and filling this guy's stomach full of bullets. they came flying over here wanting to take our taxi. you can see it's rare they have bayonets. that meant it was a little bit serious. we had to listen to them. and this is how you learn to work with the best afghans, translators, fixers, drivers, and in particular, this driver was renowned for his fearlessness and was clever. when he said, no, i'm sorry, the car's not working right, he would turn it olympic and it would whine and make a lot of noise, and they said, okay, we're out of here. and they put the guy,
mortally wounded one in a wheelbarrow and wheeled off. i would have never thought he had a cut-off switch underneath. walking around kabul in 1993-'94, you'd be amazed in what you came across. i came across these executed hazara militia men, they're shia. it was behind a clinic. remember, the family that was fleeing the battle was over here. this area now is totally built up. but it was a cemetery and a clinic in the foreground here. these men had been shot and dumped, probably from another area. and this is a primarily a shia neighborhood. so this whole thing of sunni shia started to become more of an issue than it is today. and it was a tit for tat thing.
we move from 1993 when complete chaos and civil war and roughly 85% of the country is involved in civil war to september of 1996 when the taliban had come up from kandahar city and eventually encircled kabul. all the militia groups fighting to keep them away eventually drew a truce with them. and these are two taliban firing 107-millimeter rocket at the fleeing government of the minister of defense and the president roubani. you can see the ignition system, a magnito and their high-end boots. flip-flops. in october of 1996, essentially, the government of the taliban came in to kabul. and this is reading out the riot
act to the population. there's no radio station, there's no television station, and there are no newspapers at this point. everything had collapsed. but in relief of the civil war ending if relief of the civil w ending, what you now had to deal with was grow your beards for men, no women will be educated, no women will be allowed out of the house unless accompanied by a relative. schools will be limited to only men. shops will close during prayer time, men must pray during these hours. grow a beard. no loud music. no singing canaries was one of the jokes going on because afghans lovebirds. but they do have a sense of humor that could go over a lot of people's heads. but this is the way they establish control over afghanistan. on the top of the a vehicle, with a megaphone. yes, the civil war had ended but these were the new rules of
engagement. this is what they did to a university science lab outside of kandahar. 1997, essentially 80% control over afghanistan. we're back to the uzbek rivalry here and:00 at this picture closely, the ministers of the interior, a big, burly beard and the uzbek's unable to grow beards. a former air force general had cut a deal with the taliban to give sharif in the northwestern corn of afghanistan to give it over to the taliban control and in return they would allow him to continue to be the leader. within 36 hours this treaty collapsed and as journalists we knew this would not be a marriage made in heaven. youk becks do not get along with posh toons. we managed to get one of the
last flights into mushar sharif. and you can see the uzbeks, without beards. descendants of gang us khan, and on the right, darker complexion and able and encouraged to grow beards. and note a lot of turbans with the taliban and they tie them in a significant way. so within 36 hours this is what happened and we'll end up with 800 dead taliban. this is the battle, i got bored with two other journalists and we could hear plinking going akrong on an airport road and we recognized this is a trap to sucker in the taliban and along the roof toops they were -- rooftops they were being sniped and someone walked across our path and opened fire on this
fellow. and he came across, and this is the most of impact, you can see the brass casing. he's just been hit, thrown back, and these are all of the taliban that were caught, including us, the three journalists. he's going down, down. i had moved from this position, this fella here was about to fire an rpg, rocket propelled again aid into the doorway. this man had the look of death. he carries his friend away after firing the rocket and then all hell broke loose. 36 hours later this is what remained. every single taliban that had come up to sharif was killed. they have no language in common. they are hated. and one of the most strange things the taliban could have done was to ask the men to turn in their weapons and they were never going to agree to that, so
this treaty collapsed, 1997. these are red cross workers, icrc. it is in may. so it is about 100 degrees. the bodies did start to smell. in 1998, the taliban went back into sharif and killed 2200 locals. so revenge is very important. it continues to this day. that is how arguments are often decided or the reasons for the arguments and the way they conclude. in 2001, in february, now we're getting closer to 9/11 so everything is heating up. the environment is not very pleasant for the taliban. only three countries in the world recognize them. saudi arabia, the emirates and pakistan. so in this case we had a bad drought in the north western part of the country and the taliban had cut off aid, no
food, shelter or clothing were allowed in and this is a baby from one of the refugees that died due to exposure. this is the father of the baby and this is the entourage to the cemetery. every 50 or 100 feet, another person would come and offer to carry the baby to the grave site. so we're seven months away from 9/11. context is very important here. in may of 2001, the same journalist anthony davis and i managed to get through taliban and al qaeda lines to visit masuud in badak stan and he had the remainder of the country under his control. 90% of the country was controlled by al qaeda and taliban. the fighters mixed in with the taliban were 40 miles away in a precarious geography area that they were barely able to hold them back.
in this area of the provence, it is south of taj eck stan, along the oxis river. again geography is very important here. and how the story was how he and his rag tag force was able to maintain any kind of defense. so it turns out he has the only operating lapis mine in the world. going back a thousand years. he has two emerald mines. of course he allowed his men to grow opium because that is the only way they could get cash and that was smuggle add cross to pakistan. but he also knew in may, this is four months away from 9/11, that something was going on in kandahar with bin laden. something he heard was up through his contacts. now he is tagic so he has an difficult time infiltrating a poch toon mafia and for the
arabs suspicious with someone of a different dialect even if they spoke the language. so at this point gary stoyer from the cia who had been station chief in pakistan made contact with them because the cia rarely gave my money to the valley fighters. the tajics were not favored by the fbi or cia but we get into the morn policy, who was giving him money on the side and supplies -- russia, iran, a shia country offering money to a sunni, and india, pakistan's biggest rival. so we have a three-dimensional game going on for control of the last 10% of the country. in this building on september 9th, mass ooud agreed to be interviewed by two journalists, carrying moroccan and belgium passports but one of
the two cameras set up to interview him just as he was mic'd up, one of them were packed full of c 4 explosives and it killed him. september 9th. so 100% control of afghanistan goes to al qaeda and the taliban. everything folded in the last 10%. he was a very charismatic leader. spoke fluent french and was educated in the french in downtown kabul and the son of a military officer. very interesting fellow. great chess player. could quote persian poetry all night long. and he had a lot of respect in his area. but he was not favored by the united states, and particularly nor the saudis. for two days they had 100% control of afghanistan. if the world trade center, and this is a theory that i enjoy
speaking about, if the world trade center and the pentagon attacks had been foiled, which i think they could have been, this is not hindsight now, what would the americans have done about afghanistan? just think about it. we move ahead to the end of november of 2001 and i was lucky enough to get a visa by the taliban who had withdrawn from kabul to their home base in kandahar and you can see the look of amazement of the kandahar population who had been bombed for the last two weeks by american and french jets. seeing ten foreigners and ten pakistani journalists. we had our own security. we got out of there pretty quickly. they were not a happy bunch. but you could see the interesting turbans here -- taliban. what the taliban really wanted to show us was a village about
17, 20 miles outside of kandahar that had been bombed by either americans or french and killing civilians. now the americans claim that they saw lights at night in this area where there was no electricity and in a very rural part of kandahar where often people take refuge from the bombings and they figured they must be al qaeda, who else would have vehicles and a generator. so they bombed the city, or the small town, and this is the rubble from the explosions and the bombing and this is the shepherd calling in his children who are out in the field to bring in the goats and the sheep. it gives you an idea of the terrain. not very forgiving or fertile. but it gives you the idea that life goes on no matter what. so we did see 17 graves. we have no idea who was in there. it was interesting to have the taliban show us a violation of human rights. four pakistanis captured in
december of 2001 and if you live in the region long enough you immediately know they are pa pakistani and they are pun jabbies. and in pun jab, there is a very strong, interest religious school and these are the fellas that came out of the isi training, sent across to fight and captured and will probably be traded back to pakistan for some afghans that are needed there or intear gated by the americans. in des, you may remember tora bora. this is december 17th. osama bin laden has escaped over a 10,000 foot pass and behind in his re treat he was covered by 12-15 arabs left behind to cover his retreat and withdrawal. and this is also the time that
tommy franks denied the marines access. we had a battalion and a half waiting off in the indian ocean waiting to parachute in to get bin laden but tommy franks said no, god less him, we'll let the locals hand it. and if i sound cynical, it's because i am. this is during ramadan. do you think the locals who fast all day long when it is 32 degrees and they don't eat all day long are going to go chase a fellow up a mountain to 12,000 feet. it was impossible. so they eventually put about 150-200 special forces in there. and there is no way you can climatize quickly enough and chase somebody up a mountain and catch somebody who has already disappeared on to the other side. but here the face here told me he's probably yemeni or saudi and probably one of the first
visitors to guantanamo. these are two afghan posh toons. and here is another one in violation of the geneva convention to display prisoners of war. but try to tell that to an afghan. so he was probably sold to the americans. in march of 202, this represent -- 2002, this is the american commitment. this is a soldier at 5500 feet with a dead taliban and if you look closely and this is something you learn as photo journalist, to include as much detail into a picture as possible, i went down on one knee because his head started to decompose. there is no way i could include that in the picture but i noticed two sets of rubber gloves. what was that doing there? and his finger tips had been blues with ink. so he was fingerprinted and a
forensic team had come through and gone. and so now the data base is beginning on tracking who these people might be. interesting. another aspect and theme that i tried to include in editing the book was the influence of pakistan and surrounding countries. it is a difficult task to do that physically, not very good security in border areas. but here it is in blu stan and pakistan, taliban taking refuge. the pakistani denied they were giving refuge to any taliban but here these. you can see it. you know the faces. at least i do. they are in pash toon abad which is a known neighborhood where they had sanctuary. the turbans and notice the dress, the short-term, soft, wau
happy look. and i was dressed in a chamois but i couldn't describe the fact that i was american and they knew who i was. you could tell on their face. they didn't want to have anything to do with me. that night the interpreter that i hired got a knock on the door from the intelligence agency asking him and imploring him to stop bringing the foreigners there. so we had been followed. 2008, in a remote provence of nuri stan, and these are wounded 10th mountain division soldiers being flown out because they had ambushed this base of the mountain, a four hour work the day before and i didn't have my legs the following day. i missed an ambush, yes. but i don't think i could have made the trip actually. but why on earth you would put a
base at the bottom of a canyon when you can be picked off like the british encountered in the 19th century. this is a major river. the americans were eventually overrun and the base was given over to the taliban. they escaped two years later. these men were not seriously injured. some of the personalities in afghanistan, some of you may know who this is, al may hall he'll. he was a afghan american who left his country when he was 15, and came to the u.s. married an american. went to georgetown. became part of the knewo conservative -- neo conservatives. they build the kandahar airport as part of an aid project and saad is back with his escorts to have a ribbon-cutting opening of a road project that the
americans had supported outside of kandahar. he went on to become ambassador to iraq as well. interesting person. the terrain, again, very important in this story, in this book, in this conquest, this invasi invasion. and the whole battlefield, look at the terrain and how insurmountable it really is. an this is a u.s. marine coming up to a command outpost in the provence of kunar and this is the river. it is still occupied by a few americans. but a lot of the bases and i'll show you a better picture later, this is the hindu cush, similar to the rockies, not very for giving terrain. president hamid karzai at a press conference from the palace in 2009.
2009 i went out with the new york times to a central afghan provincial capital to see what was going on in part of the province that is 80% controlled by the taliban. in the picture, it is not very clear here, but over in the left, you've got a brand new ford pickup truck that the united states had given them. these are british designeden ventedesco bears or mesh-like items with wire and you open them up and fill them up with dirt and you have instant barricades. the afghan flag. the chinese or russian rooftop, a broken chair, a traffic cone tips over, dirty socks and two very innocent but scared out of their mind afghan national policemen inviting me in for breakfast. the takeaway from this is this is a brand new ford pickup truck that has no gasoline.
the gasoline that leaves kabul in an 18-wheel truck would be diverted an the gasoline would be unloaded and sold on the black market. so they had no gasoline from their brand new pickup trucks. this is the legacy of what we're going to leave the afghans and it is an infrastructure that is very new to them, to be able to take care of themselves. again, the encounters between -- this is a 10th mountain soldier, two hours outside of kabul. greeting a teenager in wardach province and in an old trench of the days of the '80s. the americans of course established a base at a strategic point there. down to zero sea level. this is over 5,000 feet. we go down to zero in helmand province, a group of marines having an after-action report,
after they meet after a four-hour patrol. it is 125 degrees. you're deride rated and really just wiped out. this is at about 5:00 in the afternoon. this picture ran in "the new york times" and i think it is a good indication on the disconnect between the pentagon and members in the field. they were reprimanded by a regimental sergeant major for being out of uniform even though he never mentioned, congratulations, or men are on the front page of the new york times. he wanted these men punished. it is because they're wearing d do-rags. it is the only way to keep sweat from pouring out of your head. so if it is 125 degrees, the metal plate on the front and back of you is also 125 degrees so you are basically wearing a waffle iron. it is difficult territory at zero sea level. this is a 16th century fort in
one of the southern most outposts of the u.s. army and marines. back to 7,000 to 10,000 feet in kandahar. this is really the challenge of any occupying army, including alexander the great who went through this region. one road into this -- can you imagine being in a humvee going up this ambush alley. but smartly general pet rayas and general mcchrystal decided to give up all of the small outposts that were here. and restrepo was filmed up here. this is the watapour valley. back to zero. a 16th century mud forward. prime opium territory. an ied team looking for diesel
and ball bearings. they didn't find it. marines. 2013, i return to cover basically the withdrawal of the u.s. military and nato. and i was very surprised to get permission to photograph a drone being launched. it is not an armed drone but a recognizance one. it reaches 80 mile-per-hour off this ramp. it is interesting to watch this and see the pictures and the clarity, the optics are amazing from this. this is an observation drone. 14 foot wing span. the technology is old. they didn't have any problem with the camera on it. bagram air base. this is where the vehicles were collected. these are 15 ton vehicles, mine resistant and ambush protected and well air-conditioned armored vehicles, $750,000 apiece being collected and cleaned. this army soldier looking for stray bullets which may have
fallen into crevices before they are transported to the middle east, europe or back to the united states. made by oshkosh. downtown kabul, again, daily life is something as photo journalists we need to cover. and with security since 2001 when the city was -- gained its freedom, so to speak, the afghans then trying to emulate architecture in dubai. this is a wedding hall that can hold 2,000 people. there are four wedding halls in this. it is interesting to see kabul at night now. western kabul, gives you an idea of the density and how this, as an urban area, this farm land will eventually disappear as real estate increases in value. this is the kabul river that runs through. and this used to be the front line, this main road, this was the russian embassy cultural
center which became a destination for a lot of journalists to see what was left of the former soviet occupation and that is kabul university here, this nice green square in western kabul. on my last day in kabul, two suburban suvs carrying six military trainers were ambushed by a vehicle-born explosive device and a suicide bomber waited for them along the route and they had made that route before on the way to an afghan base where they were going to train afghan army soldiers. so six americans were killed and ten afghans. this is the best example that i could -- whatever i had at my disposal, to indicate the american withdrawal. now to show a withdrawal is similar to showing a retreat and the army did not want to see that kind of spin given to journalists nor did they want to
project they were actually going to withdraw, physically. they could talk about it but they were reluctant to show it. but here you have men leaving the bagram air base and it gives you an idea -- it is twice the size of o'hare or jfk and it is enormous and one of the bases not given up, at least in my opinion. these are troops coming in to finish the deployment, carrying rifles, helmets, no helmets or rifles, but an interesting gesture given to me, that i saw later on, not through the view finder. that wasn't hello. so there have been a lot of improvements. the health -- if you are an urban environment, you have access to clinics and schools and access to what you think are government institutions which may function for you. but girl schools have been
reconstructed or established in most of kabul. literacy is up. girls are going to school. but it is limited in the urban areas and particularly in the row moat areas where security is tenuous at best, very rare would you find a teacher willing to teach young men much less young women and not see the threat of a night letter coming and tacked on their door from the taliban. so the traditions are very serious. and very much ingrained. and it is a very difficult argument on why women are not educated when you have traditional marriages arranged marriages still very much the norm and the status quo for afghan society. this is the last slide and that is really how i want to end my 25 years of images. but this is really what afghans
want in life, is a free, open market, chaos. but the ability to shop on their own, free of any kind of conflict. you notice here the main police traffic -- traffic police outpost totally useless. but there is dust, noise, chaos, gridlock. but this is really a great view of afghanistan and really what they aspire to. remember, most of the city was rubble in the mid '90s. so they will come back if there is security. but on that note, i would like to turn it over to you, crystal, if we want to have some microphones to take some questions. [ applause ] >> it went a little bit long but
i think it was important to have as many images so it is not just a blur because it is a complicated country to try to figure out. >> could you discuss your equipment, your photographic equipment at that time and what you prefer now, please. >> things have changed drastically since carrying around battery-operated nikons or canons, to the digital era that took over after 9/11. prior to that i captioned film and with a wing and a prayer they got to new york and where they were processed and that took 24 hours and somehow most every pact got there. we could shoot codo chrome which
took another day to get processes but the luxury of that finished after 2001 when satellite communications took ore and we spent hours with our own computer, transmitter or scanner if you wanted to get negative film processes and it became all digital and you had to have that capacity, to hook up through a sat phone, a simple and interesting early-stage satellite phone or a big winged instrument which they still have today but it is essentially the size of a laptop computer called a be-began and if you string up three, you can shoot video and it is slow and you need a lot of broadband or bandwidth. but no, sir tu down to a laptop, a be-began and that is it, and a
computer chip. i still carry film cameras into the situation but they tend to get beaten up. >> yes, sir. >> now that the americans have largely withdrawn from afghanistan, what is your view as to the future there? >> i am an flash flooded observer, i'm not a political strategist, but americans haven't withdrawn and i don't think they will. they were waiting for karzai to leave so this bsa agreement -- this security arrangement could be negotiated. and it is my personal opinion that we should not withdraw. that we need to stay. this is a crucial area of the world. many may say, what is the point?
but if we're not there, and we were not there from 1989-2001, there was no u.s. embassy from january 20th, 1989, to december 17th, 2001. please, somebody here, explain that to me. what happened in that period of time? gestation of al qaeda. we had nobody on the ground, for intelligence, humanitarian purposes, nothing. i'm still perplexed by this. this happened january 20th, the day of inauguration, so that decision was made in late 1988 but once the russians withdraw, why should we withdraw. i couldn't understand it. but i was there when they lowered the flag at the u.s. embassy in kabul and that is why i'm still engaged with this
topic. what happened? we're storytellers and there is a story behind that. and look at what happened. we have to remain engaged. we need diplomats familiar with the territory. we need farsi speakers and hindu and other speakers. two hours away from new delhi, and that is a flight, we have a u.s. embassy with over 700 people and zero in afghanistan. it didn't make any sense to me. but remember, i didn't fly in and out of the region. i lived in india and i breathed and drank the water, not the cool aid. what is going on here? it rarely made domestic press coverage, but "time" had an asia edition in hong kong that took most of the stories. so when you get a tring of the stories together it -- a string of the stories together it almost reads like a good thriller, and it is.
it is very interesting. but we need competent, knowledgeable people, experts, not people with hpd's in never leave foggy bottom. it is imperative that we remain in engaged with this place. watch what happens when we're not there. we have no embassy in iran right now. so this discussion can go on but we have other questions. yes, sir. >> i want to thank you for coming and just ask if you can take us through what it was like covering afghanistan as an american during so many pivotal times? >> prior to 9/11, as long as you didn't run into gnarly arabs who really didn't want to have their picture taken much less want to
see you in their vision, it was okay. we did have to comply with taliban rules, after 1996, in that they didn't believe in photography and they tried to prohibit it. that made it much for difficult for me but not much more difficult for the writers because they could continue to talk and question. that was allowed. even record with a microphone. but as long as you had good people around you, a good driver, somebody you could trust who knew the neighborhoods, yes, it was potentially very violent in some of the places, if you made the wrong turn, but with enough local knowledge, street-wise, and situational awareness, you could maybe take a taliban out to lunch that didn't want to take you pictures and fill him full of food and maybe he would fall asleep by 2:00 in the afternoon. this was a tactic. but this is what you had to try. i had to come away with pictures. the writer always came with a
story but i had to be commensurate with my film supply. so it was a challenge and also a challenge to work in pakistan and in india. these countries are all connected. you won't be able to figure out afghanistan unless you know pakistan. you must understand india to know about pakistan. they are all connected. it is part of the british empire. and that is the way they think. they don't think in individual countries. afghanistan is land locked and they get everything in through karachi. they are dependent on the pakistani. so if you could keep your mouth shut and try to blend in, be the fly on the wall, that's ideal. but that is not possible all of the time. so, yes, we were challenged a lot but if you had a driver that could tell a good tale about who we really were, he would say this person here, you must let him through, he is a relative of
john major and he represents the queen of england, you must let him pass. it worked. i asked john burns from the new york times, that is one of the drivers that he had. those people are fully employed all of the time. so there were challenges every day similar to that. but going back to 1990, when i met akhani, he didn't care if you are american or not. today that is an issue. we are a target. and how do you deal with that. what magazine publication is willing to send you out on that limb right now? who is willing to go? >> thank you for your incredible photographs. but one question. as we read recently, the taliban is making major advances against the afghan army, well trained,
well equipped and supposedly by the american forces but they are struggling. what is your take on can the afghans really defend themselves or are they going to be like the iraqis and fold their tent and run. >> it is an important question but i'll remind you of how the taliban took control of afghanistan. they cut it without firing my bullets. they cut deals. people folded. they remained in power in that area. but the taliban were the rulers. they became the governors. an that is what is going on right now. the taliban have broken up a little bit from the elder to the jungeren jeration who are -- generation that are much more prone for violence. but the afghans are fed up with war. if y if you talk to the 18-25-year-old university stupt, they don't want to pick up the gun or want the taliban. but they want security. but if the taliban will come into a rural area and not the urban areas, they're willing to
accept them. and so will the police and the army who have family in that location. so it is more of a matter of compromise. how are specific provinces, particularly ones contiguous to pakistan, going to maintain neutral or pro-government when the taliban is breathing down their neck and they control the farms an the opium and the roadways. so they look at this as purely survival. they don't like the taliban and they could barely get 10% of the vote. so when you hear this report that specific areas of afghanistan are folding, keep in mind that a lot of journalists can't go to these areas and it is over the phone chatter and anybody who represents journalist, if he comes out with too specific information, they'll target his family and
find out who gave the report. so there is suspicion and suspension in getting the report out. but that is the way i expect certain provinces to collapse. but what does that mean? short-term, long-term, nobody knows. nobody has the crystal ball for this place. we have time for one question. >> bob, you asked us to speculate as to had 9/11 been foiled, what would happen to afghanistan. you've had a lot more time to think about that question, what do you think would have happened? >> it is already -- it was already underway in 2001. in 19 -- when did i go to tajikstan, 1993 with the break up of the central republics i went to the duchan bay to find
ed mcwilliams in islamabad. he been spent over special enjoy from the white house to find out what was going on and send back some recommendations. 1992, 1993. he came back with analysis saying we should stop supporting and letting the arabs into this country and we should stop supporting militant groups such as hechmadar who are 100% anti-american. welcome ba within a matter of days, the ambassador robert oakley and the station chief dewey claridge from cia, many of you may know the name, started calling him an alcoholic, a drug addict and a homosexual and they exiled him to dushan bay. i tracked him down with another
reporter and outside he said, look at what is going on outside. the saudis are here distributing korans and the iranians are here distributing their carons because they speak farsi. they are sunni, but the shias from iran are there so it became a race inside of central asia an how to take over after the mu hathine had taken over. so he was a few dissenters. he wasn't a whistleblower but they libelled him and kicked him out. he was a cia operative in vietnam. he knew the terrain. interesting fellow. i don't know what can happen in afghanistan unless all of what you ask of the countries around that country are also s questioned, what do they intend
to do? i'm not sure what would have happened with bush, rumsfeld and cheney in power, how they would have dealt with this but coming up with coming up with crucial, critical analysis until an emergency happens, i don't know how proactive or creative we're going to be but it depends on how astute and how much responsibility diplomats have. and for the last decade and a half or 20 years, the pbt has been -- the pentagon has been taking the power away from the state department. that is a problem when you are a diplomat. so it is difficult to say what would have happened. but that is in context, very important, of what was going on in central asia. that was real. i saw the big vehicles outside. so who knows what would have happened? but this is how west point, air force academy,
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