tv PBS News Hour PBS November 12, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
brown: new details emerge about the affair that led to the resignation of c.i.a. director david petraeus and about when the f.b.i. first uncover evidence of it. good evening. i'm geoffrey brown. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour tonight we get the latest on the time line as we know it and the implications for the intelligence agency. >> brown: then gay rights add voaks won their first victory at the ballot box last week. ray suarez examines the significance of voters in three states approving same-sex marriage. of >> when they see us on their front doorstep >> ifill: special correspondent john tulenko tells the story of teachers coming to the rescue of families in storm-ravaged new jersey. knocking and they realize it's us and we're here to see if they're okay, their faces lit up. >> brown: and we have three
reports about veterans, beginning with a pro publica investigation into lost or destroyed combat records. >> ifill: then we talk with a veteran who has written about w we choose to remember those who serve. >> brown: and we close with a conversation with first-time author and iraq war veteran kevin powers about his novel, "the yellow birds." that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> music is a universal language. but when i was in an accident, i was worried the healthcare system spoke on with all its own. with united healthcare, i got help that treat my life, information on my phone, connection to doctors who get where i'm from and tools to estimate what my care may cost. so i never missed a beat. >> we're more than 78,000 people looking out for more than 70 million americans. that's health in numbers. united healthcare.
moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: the downfall of david petraeus showed no sign of fading into the background today.
instead, there was every indication that his admission of adultery will echo far beyond the end of his career at the c.i.a. >> a personal scandal forces c.i.a. director david petraeus to... >> i want to start out with this out of the blue thunder bolt that hit washington friday. >> brown: all weekend in washington the details kept coming along with more questions. after david petraeus' sudden resignation on friday because he had had an extra marital affair quickly revealed to involve his biographer paula broadwell. her book came out last january. appearing on c-span she recalled first meeting petraeus several years earlier. >> he came to harvard university where i was a graduate student and wanted to speak to students about the merits of counterinsurgency approach to fighting the iraq war. >> brown: later researching her book broadwell had extensive access to petraeus during his time as overall commander in afghanistan. in august of last year, wife
holy at his side the four-star general retired from the service. he took the c.i.a. post the next month. today the general's former spokesman retired colonel steve boylan told abc the affair began then, after he had left the army which strictly for bids adultery. >> this all started about two months after he was in the c.i.a. as the director and just so you know it alsonded about four months ago. he deeply hurt the family. he knows that. he acknowledges it. right now his whole focus is going to be geared towards taking care of the family and getting through this. >> brown: it's been widely reported that the affair was uncovered during an f.b.i. investigation protechd by 37-year-old jill kelly of tampa, florida. a friend of the petraeus family. the general's former associates insist there was no romantic involvement between them. even so according to news accounts, kelly began getting threatening emails from
broadwell. the f.b.i. started investigating last summer and turned up evidence of the petraeus-broadwell affair. that in turn raised questions of a possible security breach. intelligence officials say the justice department informed national intelligence director james clapper last week on election day. he then telephoned petraeus and asked him to resign. on thursday, the general went to the white house to meet with president obama and his formal resignation followed on friday. since then, key members of congress have complained that they should have been notified much earlier that something was up. senate intelligence committee chair democrat dianne feinstein appeared on fox news yesterday. >> we received no advance notice. it was like a lightning bolt. the way i found out, i came back to washington thursday night. friday morning, the staff director told me there were a number of calls from press about this. this is something that could have had an effect on national
security. i think we should have been told. >> brown: on cnn the chairman of the house homeland security committee, republican congressman peter king, also raised concerns. >> this just doesn't add up that you have this type of investigation. the f.b.i. investigating emails. the emails leading to the c.i.a. director and taking four months to find out that the c.i.a. director was involved. i have real questions about this. i think a time line has to be looked at and analyzed to see what happened. >> brown: on wednesday the petraeus resignation will be the topic of discussion when intelligence committee leaders meet with f.b.i. and c.i.a. officials. >> ifill: for more on all of this, we look at the story from different angles. frederick hitz is a former c.i.a. inspector general who's now an adjunct professor at the university of virginia school of law. retired army lt. col. john nagl has known david petraeus for over two decades and teaches at the u.s. naval academy. and sari horwitz is an
investigative reporter at the "washington post." sari, we have watchedded shoes dropping on this all weekend. what new have we learned today? >> hi, gwen. we're now learning a little bit more about how this investigation started and more of what the f.b.i. found. i mean there have been a lot of questions of why does the f.b.i. do an investigation into harassing emails? i mean lots of people get harassing emails. i get harassing emails but what we found today was that this woman jo kelly who was a friend of the petraeus family, and she lived in tampa, she actually knew an f.b.i. agent and mentioned to him that in june she mentioned to him that she had been receiving these very sort of troubling, strange, bizarre accusatory emails. and gave them to him. he started the investigation. that's how it began in june. and... >> ifill: as we watch this time line unfold, sari, we can't help but ask who knew what when? for instance, we gather that the justice department, the f.b.i. knew about this some time ago. but that the white house didn't
find out until late last week. how is this unfolding? >> well, gwen, the f.b.i. says that they began a criminal investigation into the harassing emails, quickly linked them to paula broadwell who jill kelly says she didn't even know. from there they were able to find these emails between someone named petraeus and paula broadwell. they thought that actually someone had compromised petraeus' computer because of the nature of the emails, sexually explicit. they thought this can't be the real david petraeus. but of course it was. they realized there was an affair. so they knocked out the possibility there was a security breach when they realized that there was a relationship between the two. by late summer they went to senior people in the justice department. the attorney general, the deputy attorney general. they said, listen, we have this criminal case. we're not really sure whether to bring charges at this point. but it doesn't look like petraeus was involved at all in the harassing emails.
we have however discovered an affair. >> ifill: once he was told about the emails he called her and told her to stop and the affair ended. >> what we have found is that he sent her an email. they weren't directly emails to each other. was some kind of situation where they had a drop box. they were sending the emails to a drop box. they both had alias names. it wasn't paula and david. it was these alias names they had set up sort of in different accounts. he let her know in no uncertain terms that they should stop the harassing of this woman. >> ifill: frederick, sari raises the question of why it is is that harassing emails should raise particular red flags. as a former c.i.a. inspector-general, was there an immediate question that intelligence would be compromised here? >> i don't think there probably was an immediate question, gwen. but as this story has unfolded, as you and sari have talked about it, you can see that very
quickly there was an involvement by general petraeus. and the question is, the c.i.a. people didn't really know about it at this time presumably. but they would in time. and i think you have to leap to the conclusion that he drew, general petraeus drew, which is with all of the tumult that this was going to cause, my wife likens it to icharus getting too close to the sun, with all the tumult this was going to cause, it was hard to see how you could continue in his job. >> ifill: as someone who has done investigations of the agency, are the rules different for an intelligence agency like the c.i.a. when someone seems to have some sort of inappropriate outside relationship than it would be, say, if he were working for another domestic agency? >> i think so. i think that has been the concern all along. for example, for drug abuse during the long period when we
as a country were trying to get used to high school dabbling in marijuana and how to deal with it through the course of a career, there's a sensitivity towards personal pecadilos because the view is always should they come out, then you're liable to be blackmailed. should they be discovered it's possible that leverage could be placed on you. you're in a position where, with access to classifieded information, that's not an acceptable thing. >> ifill: is is there a precedent for this kind of behavior and this kind of action to be taken against the leader of the c.i.a.? >> well, on my watch or towards the end of it, we discovered that the c.i.a. director deutch had taken home some classified material to his residence. i think he did it in all innocence. he didn't believe that the matters at hand were all that grave. but it was quite a problem for the agency. it was looked into.
he had already made up his mind to return to m.i.t., but the point is it would have been very difficult for him to continue because the person at the top of an agency like that has to have an absolutely spotless record for integrity and certainly for sensitivity towards classified matters. >> ifill: john nagl you've known general petraeus for some time. have you been in communication with him since this all broke? >> i have. fill: and? he is devastated, deeply contrite, very, very sorry about the harm he has caused to holy in particular, his wife of 38 years who has been really stalwart through his many deployments. he really feels that he's let the team down. >> ifill: how much of a surprise was this for you? >> it was absolutely a kick in the gut. i was astounded. i was shocked. i was very hurt and very surprised. he has been a role model to me
for literally decades, for nearly 25 years. a man i've admired and looked up to. a man i still think very highly of in many ways but who clearly made a grievous unforgivable error. >> ifill: because there are so many people who have said just what you just said that they are great admirers of general petraeus, what does this do to his reputation as a military man and also as a civilian leader? >> my hope is that it is... although it obviously and should damage his personal reputation, his long reputation of personal integrity and good character, i think that reputation will never fully recover. but i don't thinkity limb natures the fact or we should ignore as we look at the totality of the man the fact that two different presidents called on him in their hour of need. in both cases went to the sound of the guns and performed admirably under two very difficult conflicts.
>> ifill: do you have any reason or have you had any reason to meet paula broadwell or know anything of her work. >> i do know paula. she's a very smart, very attract tive, very driven woman. a fellow west point graduate who has been very present in the washington policy community and the national security debate. i am also sickened by the damage this will obviously do to her to her husband scott, whom i've met, to their children. this is a very sad story for all concerned. >> ifill: sari horowitz, we have heard members including the head of the senate intelligence committee, dianne feinstein say they still want to hear from general petraeus especially when it comes to the u.s. involvement in the murders in benghazi, libya. where does that stand tonight? do we expect his acting c.i.a. chief to be the one to step up next week or later this week? >> you know, we're not really sure who is going to be testifying before closed doors at this point.
but, you know, another question that feinstein and others brought up was why didn't the justice department and the f.b.i. let them know the beginning of your show you had that tape where they wanted to know why didn't we know about this? this is so important. the justice tept and the f.b.i. have said, you know, this is a criminal investigation. in the middle of an ongoing criminal investigation it is not appropriate to go to capitol hill or to the white house and talk about what's going on and what's being found and who the targets are. so they felt it was just an inappropriate thing to talk about that investigation while it was ongoing although i know a lot of people on the hill want to know why the f.b.i. didn't come to them. >> ifill: have they in fact closed that investigation? they had decided there was no wrongdoing? >> well, that's an interesting question, gwen, because they have closed it. but what i'm being told is that federal prosecutors decided really about two months ago that there were no criminal charges to be brought under sort of cyber crime or cyber bullying. certainly no charges to be
brought against petraeus. and so in that sense, the case was closed but they still waited and kind of did these final interviews. they interviewed paula broadwell the week of october 21. that was her final interview. she had multiple interviews. they interviewed david petraeus the following week, the last week in october so it ran right up to the election which of course has raised questions, why did it drag through through that far. representative cantor has said he felt like maybe he gave it a push because the f.b.i. agent in florida who started this whole thing was frustrated about how slow it was going, got in touch with cantor who called mueller's office, the f.b.i. director and said what's going on with this investigation. >> ifill: that was when he was assured, eric cantor, that things were moving ahead? >> yes. ifill: as far as we know that was as high as this had gone. >> yes. ifill: sari horowitz of the "washington post," frederick
hitz former c.i.a. inspector general and john nagl at u.s. naval academy. thank you all so much. >> thank you, gwen. . brown: you'll find a time line of events leading up >> brown: find a timeline of events leading up to david petraeus's resignation on our web site. and still to come on the newshour, a milestone for gay rights advocates; school back in session in new jersey; lost records from the iraq and afghan wars; a call to remember recent veterans; and a novel by a soldier who served in iraq. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: israeli tanks fired shells into syria today for the second time in as many days. it raised new concerns of the civil war in syria spilling beyond its borders. israeli officials said the army fired back after syrian mortar fire landed in the israeli- controlled golan heights. plumes of smoke could be seen rising above the area. meanwhile, a new coalition of syrian opposition groups launched a campaign to win recognition of a government-in- waiting. the groups agreed to unite yesterday.
in afghanistan, a nato service member was killed by insurgents in the east. the announcement today did not identify the soldier's nationality. it came a day after a british soldier was shot and killed by a man in an afghan army uniform. there have been dozens of such insider attacks. the parliament of greece has approved a new austerity budget for the coming year, paving the way for more outside aid. the greek prime minister vowed today the cost-cutting measures will be the last sacrifices greeks will have to endure. it's still unclear whether european officials will have the additional bailout money ready by friday, when greece faces a crucial bond repayment. wall street mostly marked time today, amid quiet trading on the veterans day holiday. the dow jones industrial average lost a quarter of a point to close at 12,815. the nasdaq fell about two-thirds of a point to close at 2904. two more top news executives have stepped down at the british broadcasting corporation. that followed saturday's exit by
george entwistle, the bbc's recently installed director general. it was the latest fallout after the bbc had to retract allegations of child sex abuse against a former conservative cabinet minister. the bbc already was under fire for killing a report on the late jimmy savile. he allegedly abused underage girls for years while a bbc host. the election of 2012 now is officially in the books. president omawa w a aasedrded i inwn the state of florida on saturday. that gave him 26 states and the district of columbia, for a total of 332 electoral votes. mitt romney won 24 states, with 206 electoral votes. the president outpolled romney by close to 3.3 million votes. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: arizona officials today declared that democratic house candidate kyrsten sinema won her race for the ninth district, which means she will be the first openly bisexual person to serve in congress.
her election follows some strong messages sent last week by voters in favor of gay couples exchanging vows. ray suarez has our look. >> suarez: for the first time supporters of same-sex marriage won at the ballot box last week. after more than 30 losses. washington state, maryland, and maine became the first states to approve the practice by popular vote. and in minnesota, voters shot down a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. >> it means everything. all my friends, all my community, you know, i mean, i love this state so much. >> suarez: before last tuesday, marriage for same-sex couples was legal in six states and the district of columbia but those measures were passed by lawmakers or imposed by court rulings. five other states now allow civil unions. election day marked another
milestone for gays in politics. wisconsin democrats tammy baldwin was elected as the first openly lesbian member of the u.s. senate. although she said that wasn't her main focus. >> i didn't run to make history. i ran to make a difference. ( cheers and applause ) >> suarez: chip away at laws in some 30 states that bar same-sex marriage including north carolina where earlier this year voters approved an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. the very next day the president announced he backed what his supporters call marriage equality. and later this month the justices of the u.s. supreme court discuss whether to review six gay rights cases, four involve challenges to the federal defense of marriage act. so what do tuesday's results signal about a political and cultural shift in america? and what's next in this battle?
we're joined by representatives from both sides of the argument. thomas peters is cultural director of the national organization for marriage. and lee swislow is the executive director of gay and lesbian advocates and defenders. thomas peters, wherever this battle ends up -- and it may take a long time -- was election did i a turning point? >> no, not at all. i think these were tactical wins. going into these four states we had no illusions. these were deep blue states. even despite all those political forces against us we still managed to have very close margins of a final tally. so what i'm hearing this week is that it's not a big shift. we are encouraged and to double down and renew our efforts >> suarez: how do you see it? i see it somewhat differently. i think it was hugely significant. i think it indicates really the kind of journey that the american people have been on over the last several years. in maine three years ago this
same electorate voted against marriage equality after the maine legislature had passedded a bill. and three years later, after many, many conversations they voted in favor of marriage equality. i just want to emphasize that what those conversations are about is about why marriage matters to same-sex couples. it matters because we fall in love and we want to make a life-long commitment to the person we love. and americans can understand that. and relate to that. so i think this really shows the power of those conversations. >> suarez: thomas peters, your organization and many others like it had... until now voters had never approved these laws. they had just been the product of judicial action or legislative action. how can you say now that it's not really significant that the voters have broken that? >> i think victory after victory
can bring complacency. we had phone calls coming into our office the day after election day saying i had no idea we could lose this. we've won 30 times in a row. so many of our previous fights, proposition 8 in cal which was the first large referendum in recent years we were outspent but not close to these margins. if you look at where gay marriage is trying to get a foothold these are deep blue states. in maryland 23% of people supported barack obama and supported our view of marriage. you know, for a movement that says it is inevitable this is not the landscape of an inevitable movement. we see it as an encouraging factor. there are numerous states that have yet... we have two supreme court cases where we believe that our side will overcome when all is said and done >> suarez: what do you think about that? deep blue states where the marriage question didn't even do as well as the presidential candidate. >> well, i think again we have
to focus on movement and on the journey that people are taking. you know, our polling showed again maine i know most deeply because we were so involved in the work in maine but three years ago our own polling showed us with 47% support. we went into it with 47% support. that's what we came out is 47% support. three years later we had 53% support. so that's a pretty dramatic indication. i think maine was as blue then as it is now. what we're seeing is people are changing on this issue. in fact, if you look at polls in every state in the country over the last, say, 10 to 15 years, in every state the support for marriage equality has increased. in some states it started low and it's still low but things are moving in our direction. that's the way they're going. >> suarez: things are moving in her direction? >> i think it's really interesting that she's bringing up the point about polling.
all of the statements from the national pro gay marriage groups i've seen shows they're still extremely wary about state votes. human rights campaign is still trying to focus on gay marriage has been pushed by is... which is by legislatures and activist judges. we can talk about change and stuff like that, but i think this election demonstrated on a lot of different counts is about turnout. i think conservatives of various stripes saw this is an election where turnout really matters. that's one of the priorities for the pro marriage movement moving forward is is turning our people as successfully as our opponents did this time around. one is having an equal financial and activist footing. >> suarez: looking forward, lee, can can the united states sustain a map where we're sort of a patchwork quilt of marriage laws. where your marriage conducted not long after the law changed in massachusetts is not respected in half the states? >> well, i think ultimately it
probably is not sustainable. but at this point i think this is where we're at. we need to win more states before we really look for a larger solution. marriage is so important. it's so important to same-sex couples. there are couples who live in states where marriage isn't recognized who go to marriage states to get married even knowing that they're not going to have that relationship recognized by the state or at this point by the federal government. yet that commitment is so important to people. logistically the patchwork is really... it's a big drag. married couples when they travel out of state bring their marriage licenses. if they have kids, adoption certificates. they bring as much documentation as they have with the hope that their relationship will be recognized. but at this point i think that
is the life we're living. we want to continue to build support through conversations with people and tell the country is ready i think for a larger solution. >> suarez: while you work to make exactly that not happen >> we work to protect marriage because weeebelieve that marriae is the best social institution we have to maintain the fact that children are raised by their parents, by their moms and dads. the other side has done a very good job of messaging what their view is. our challenge is to message what our view is. when people are introduced to our... we had polling showing 57% of people believe you need a husband and a wife to make a marriage. we believe that the question will be decided by the people. it should be. >> suarez: let me jump in there. aren't you standing on shifting sand given the momentum of the polls, given the momentum of the legal challenges, the losses in various federal appellate courts, the changes in various state laws? maybe you'll win tomorrow and
the day after tomorrow. but are you fighting against an inevitability at this point? >> no for two important reasons. i believe in the truth of my pro marriage views. just as the other side does. people who have those deep seated con vices don't look at the changing tides. they fight for what's true and right. second of all i think it's amazing with all the cultural forces trying to redefine marriage that we're still here in 2012 just barely seeing footholds in deep blue states. i think the future of the marriage movement is bright. ultimately i don't believe history moves in one direction. >> i think having same-sex couples marry is a big change. people have not been used to thed idea. i have to say for myself when i first came out in the mid '70s it never occurred to me that i would be able to legally marry yet i was able to do that in massachusetts in 2004. we're seeing tremendous change. we're also seeing just demographically we're seeing republicans and democrats supporting marriage equality. we're seeing support from all age groups. we're seeing support from people
of faith. we're seeing support from people throughout the country. i feel like things are moving forward. i'm very optimistic a vinndy excited. >> suarez: lee and thomas, thank you both for joining us. >> ifill: now, a report on the recovery from the superstorm sandy. new york governor andrew cuomo said today he intends to ask the federal government for at least $30 billion in aid. new jersey is still tallying its losses, and damages in the region are expected to exceed $50 billion. schools officially reopened today in one community along the jersey shore. but for the past week, teachers have been already hard at work, helping students deal with the aftermath of the storms. special correspondent john tulenko of learning matters filed this story from the town of belmar.
>> reporter: hurricane sandy tore into belmar, new jersey. >> belmar was one of the towns you would continually hear about on the radio. families reported seeing four, five, six-foot wall of water >> how are you? reporter: lisa hannah is assistant principal at belmar's one elementary school. many of her students are recent immigrants. most of their families had nowhere else to go. >> i don't think anyone was really prepared for what happened >> reporter: inside this house three children and their parents were counting on luck. >> they stayed through the storm. and very quickly the water came up into the room. they started to climb up on furniture. it was dark. there was no power. water is rapidly rising. >> reporter: all communication to the area was lost. >> i'm lisa hannah reporter: it wasn't until a week later that principal hannah and a group of teachers were allowed into the hardest-hit
neighborhoods. >> this is getting soggy reporter: to check on their students. >> how are you doing, honey? what do you need? >> reporter: and warn them of a nor'easter that was coming in fast >> the apartment upstairs re are still a lot of families that don't have anywhere to go. they're staying in their homes even though this is, i believe, day ten of no power and no heat. families have no way to communicate. they may not have extended families that they can go out and say i'll stay with. of the families don't have reliable transportation. >> how are you to go? are you okay? we have warm blankets. do you need more blankets? >> i think so. s it cold? here. more blankets. >> the day we tried to get a
list of what people needed so we could go back and drop supplies off if they're still staying where they are. >> we need water, milk and bread reporter: visits from their teachers carried special significance for children children >> when they see us on their front doorstep knocking and they realize it's us and we're here to see if they're okay, their faces lit up. >> we have three or four blankets. maybe one more. >> in a time like this where kids are scared -- and you see it in their eyes -- the more people they have around them that they are familiar with and that they know care about them can only positively impact them. >> would you like us to come back and get you for lunch today for the kids? we can bring them down for lunch? >> okay. about an hour we'll pick you up. we'll see you at lunchtime. buy, guys >> reporter: the school was open for lunch for the first time
since sandy >> stay with me. it's a little wet on the floor >> reporter: the building hadn't been damaged but the power was out. about 15 families arrived nonetheless. for a free meal and a chance to reconnect with friends. >> kids seek comfort and structure. we want to restore as much normalcy and routine as possible. a little girl, when we opened up the school for lunch today, she's walking in the dark, no lights on. she said, "i'm so happy to be back at school. i feel so safe." >> reporter: hot soup wasn't the only thing being served. >> we just grabbed baskets of books and let the kids grab books. we try and sneak in if we can a little by of education. >> sunday sun morning the warm sun came up and, pop... >> reporter: the lunch was a success for the 50 children who came but 550 were enrolled here before the storm. >> i think there's a real sense
of unknown for us. i'm sure a real sense of unknown for the students as well. we'll need to have our, you know, our crisis intervention in place and our school counselor and school psychologist. this will be a long, ongoing effort. >> reporter: after ten days in the dark, things starred looking up. >> the power is back on. is is good ahead of schedule. that's a positive thing. >> reporter: with power restored, plans could move forward to reopen the school. and that should speed the recovery. >> if we're up, parents can attend to what they need to do. they're dealing with clean-up of their homes, making calls to insurance companies and fema. we have families that have been very significantly impacted. yet they're still here. >> reporter: as for the family trapped inside their home, the water rising? they lost all their possessions
but not their lives. a boat came by and carried them to safety. >> ifill: out of those >> ifill: out of the 550 students in belmar elementary, all but 27 were back in school today. school officials are trying to contact and locate those 27 who were out. the teachers were back as well, although many have still not returned to their homes. >> brown: and to our three veterans day stories. the first involves soldiers returning from the wars of iraq and afghanistan, and facing an unexpected uphill battle as they fight for benefits. according to a new report by the nonprofit online news organization pro publica and the "seattle times," the u.s. government sometimes has no official record that men and women actually served overseas. it sounds unlikely, but an investigation by the two news organizations revealed that millions of u.s. military field records have been lost or destroyed.
for more on the report and what it means for veterans, i'm joined by pro publica journalist peter sleeth. first of, peter, explain what kinds of records we're talking about here. who is affected? >> field records are a distinct category for medical or personnel records. field records are things like after-action reports that explain what happened in combat, patrol reports, intelligence reports, prisoner of war status. anything you would create in the field. the document what the army is doing in the field other than medical and personnel records >> brown: as to who is affected you tell the story of some soldiers. one of them is christopher. just explain his case so people get a sense of what kind of people are affected and what kind of cases they're up against? >> well, his is a good case because, like most veterans' cases before the v.a., they're very complicated. he came in, waited five years to
get his disability been anies for p.t.s.d. he had been a clerk in baghdad but had been sent on many combat missions. at first they denied him simply because of a paperwork error that he hadn't even been in iraq. that was corrected. then they denied him because he didn't have p.t.s.d., they said. the third time he applied is when the field records came in. he had given them detailed events of when he had been in combat. and the army could find no record that he had ever been in combat in any of these situations. that kept him for at least another one or two years from getting any disability benefits. >> brown: so the obvious question is who is supposed to keep these records and what has happened to them? why are they lost or destroyed? how could that happen? >> well, three things. poor training, poor leadership, and this almost unexplained disaster of units wiping their
computer hard drives before they came home from the war. this is the first real electronic war where records were meant to be kept entirely on computers. it was new. they the strict rules and regulations about what were to be done. but if the commanding officer of a given unit didn't insist those things be done, they weren't done. that happened again and again and again. reports either weren't made, weren't kept or their hard drives or their computers were wiped before they came home. that's losing all those records. >> suarez: one thing that comes through in this story is the sense that perhaps people there were not taking the need to keep the records as seriously as they might or should have. >> yeah. that's not a new problem. the european historian for the allies in world war ii said something to the effect of history is the last thing we care about during war and the first thing we care about when we get home. the difference in this war was
the training and the discipline to keep those records in theater so that these records were available for veterans and a multitude of other uses after the war just broke down completely. it seems to have barely workedded at all. the reason today that you and i can follow the route of a given civil war regiment by camp site through the american landscape is because these records were kept. it fell apart in the first gulf war. it was never fixed for these two wars. >> brown: speaking of history, as you also point out in the article, this is a big loss for military historians, right? terms of putting together details of what happened. >> it is. when you think of these wars as controversial, costly and as long as they've been, historians are aghast at this. they're not going to be able in 20 to 30 years as veterans disappear even be able to write these histories because of the
massive loss of these records. >> brown: as to the response from the military,ne o quote one army spokesman, major christopher kasker. he said the matter of records management is of great concern to the army. it i assue we have acknowledgedded and are working to correct and improve. what can you tell us about what has happened since you brought this to their attention? >> i can't tell you a lot because the army has been cooperating only on a very limited basis. they spoke to us initially back in april in an hour-long interview at arlington. they declined to answer more detailed questions about their records holdings after that. and we've only had sporadic contact. the secretary of the army has declined to be interviewed by us. >> brown: do you have a sense that there's pressure being put on them by some of the people... the stories that you yourself
told? >> i couldn't speak to that. i don't know if there's pressure being put on them. i only know that they were not particularly forth coming to our questions >> brown: when you add it all up, peter, how widespread a problem is this? in what kinds of cases do you imagine it going forward? what kind of cases would we hear about going forward that perhaps aren't addressed simply because the records aren't there? >> i think it's very widespred. we came across an inventory where at least one division and dozens and dozens of brigades are missing, if not all, most of their records. what worry... what is most worrisome here is all of our last few wars come up with an unexpected illness. agent orange from vietnam. what's popularly known as gulf war syndrome from the first gulf war. we've had traumatic brain injuries that can rely on these
field records. now there's this looming issue of burn pits. there are many soldiers coming forward saying they've had lung damage from being around burn pits in the military. those may very well need these same field records to document where they were at this time. >> brown: thanks so much. thank you. brown: you can find a link to >> brown: you can find a link to the full report from pro publica on our web site. >> ifill: now to our second veterans day story, about how we remember the sacrifice of those who served. james wright is the president emeritus of dartmouth college. he says that now is the time to begin talking about how the nation will honor the heroes of its longest wars, in afghanistan and iraq. welcome, jails wright. you mentioned in an article that you wrote and in your book that there's a gap that exists now between soldier and society. tell me what you mean by that? >> for these wars we've had over the last 11 years, those who
have fought them are less and less representative of a cross-section of our society. fewer of us know who they are, what it is that they've suffer suffered, and as these wars are winding down, we're paying less and less attention to them. surely in any specific sense it was not a focus of this last political campaign. i don't mean simply presidential. as far as i know in congressional and senatorial races as well. we just need to refocus on them. my suggestion that we start to think about how it is we're going to remember their wars has less to do with how we start creating monuments. that's not my interest. my interest is to remind people that we really have to make certain that the people who are fighting these wars have a role in helping to shape how we remember those wars. the world war ii veterans did not have a chance, except after many of them had died, to do this. the korean war veterans did not have an opportunity to do this
until after many of them had died. i think we have to start thinking about this now. it has less to do with marbling granite. it really has to do with this country recognizing what it is that we've ask these young americans to do over the last 11 years >> ifill: let's talk about the marble and granite for a moment because on this day veterans day and over the weekend many people observe by going to these memorials, by seeing the way that we have chosen to honor our veterans. until vietnam, they were mostly about living memory. they were about maybe a statue here or there. then we had the vietnam memorial which opened in 1982. that was about sacrifice. >> it was about sacrifice. it was really quite different for a national memorial. if you go to many communities across the country, often the obelisks and markers that they have there do include the names of those who were lost in the war. it's not something that's
unprecedented. but the vietnam memorial was quite a different thing. it really said let us remind everyone of the cost of this war. if you walk down those black granite walls, you can see these names. each one of these names suggests an individual who had a lot of hopes and a lot of dreams that ended very quickly. we have to find ways to continue to remember them. >> ifill: very different way than the korean war. the memorial which came as a result of a vietnam war that was a memorial to experience. then the world war ii memorial which opened some years later ie more about triumphalism and a war that was about victory. those were very different ways of actually doing this, of honoring these veterans >> it really has been although the korean war veterans, some of those involved in putting up the original memorial 20-plus years ago, they now are trying to include there the names of those who are lost in korea.
because they realize that there has to be a way of recording them and of reminding people of them but the world war ii memorial is more abstract. it's about the triumph of democracy >> ifill: now we have the longest wars, iraq and afghanistan. afghanistan of course, still underway. how do you suggest that we should begin to think about honoring those veterans? >> i think probably we shouldn't begin to think about it, but i would like to find a way to encourage them to think about it. i have no interest in trying to think about how their memorial, how it is that this nation will remember their wars. but i'm trying to encourage them to start pressing upon us the need to do that. i think that's terribly important. as i said we waited too long for the korean veterans and the world war ii veterans. thanks to people, we're active.
thanks to i think a guilt feeling in the late '70s and early '80s in this country we did move far more quickly for the vietnam veterans. they were able to participate in planning their memorial. they've been able over the years to continue to go there. >> ifill: james wright president emeritus of dartmouth college, thank you so much for joining us this veterans day >> thank you so much. >> brown: and finally to the third of our veterans day reports, a novel set in iraq and on the homefront. it tells the story of a character named john bartle, a 21-year-olprivate e from rural virginia. the novel, titled "the yellow birds," has been nominated for the national book award, and is the first by author kevin powers, who himself served in the army in iraq. r i spoke to powers earlier this fall. welcome to you >> thank you for having me. i appreciate it >> brown: when did you know that you would write about the war and what did you want to convey? >> about two years, a year or
two years after i got home i started trying to deal with my own questions about my experience. i started initially writing poems about the war. writing poems and stories since i was about 13. i just started accumulating material. i realized that i needed a larger canvas to say what i wanted to say which was to try to answer the question that people were asking me which was what was it like over there. >> brown: the inevitable question, i'll get it out of the way quickly, how much of the book, the novel is based on your experience? >> the actually vents that take place in the novel are not events that i experienced myself. but i think the kind of emotional core of the book was something that i identified with very strongly. the sort of interior life is something that i felt those emotions are things that i felt myself >> brown: one of the things that comes to us very early. there's extended passage where the whole notion of luck and
chance. you know, who gets hit? who gets hurt? who gets killed? there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason >> that's true. i think one of the things that is most difficult for him to adjust to is this feeling of powerlessness, that he's kind of inside this thing that has a life of its own. the war itself seems to be... to have a mind and a purpose beyond his ability to comprehend it. that mere idea terrifies him. it's hard for him to adjust to that >> brown: is that the kind of thing you felt yourself? >> certainly. i can remember distinctly feeling like i had very little control over anything other than kindofha t w was around me immediately. even that there were times where you recognized that whatever may happen to you isn't necessarily going to be of your own volition >> brown: there's another thing that comes through is the feeling of i guess you could call it the absurdity of war.
there's a part where bartal reflects that his grandfather's war, quote, had destination and purpose. then here there's a passage where you write, "we drive them out. we always had. we killed them. they would shoot us and run back into the hills and dusty villages. then they would come back and we'd starred over." >> some of that comes from as i was writing the book i stayed aware of what was happening in iraq in some of the places that i had been. i'd see, for instance, in talifar where i served part of my tour it seem every year there was a new battle. it does seem strange and absolutely absurd is probably an appropriate word to describe it. >> brown: from your perspective, does it feel like we've gotten a fair or clear picture of that experience so far? >> i am happy that these stories are are beginning to be told. i think a diversity of expression can only be good. i think the more that people
write about their experience, use their imagination to deal with their experience, you know, i think that's going to be good for not only the authors but also for people who are interested in trying to understand it. >> brown: the new novel is the yellow birds. kevin powers, thanks so much >> thanks for having me. appreciate it. >> ifill: you can find more of jeff's conversation and listen to a reading by the author. that's on art beat. also, learn more about the newly elected veterans to the u.s. house of representatives. we have profiles of these men and women who served, on our homepage. again, the major developments of the day. new details emerged about the affair that led to the resignation of c.i.a. director david petraeus and about when the f.b.i. first uncovered evidence of it. and the israeli military traded shots with syrian forces along the golan heights for a second day. it's monday, and that means our social security guru responds to your questions. kwame holman has more.
>> holman: how does marriage affect social security benefits? larry kotlikoff answers that in this week's installment of "ask larry" on our making sense page. and on our science page, check out a dazzling new image, captured by the hubble space telescope of a star cluster 25,000 light years away. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. >> brown: and again, to our honor roll of american service personnel killed in the afghanistan conflict. we add them as their deaths are made official and photographs ombeaie clae. he, in silence, are ten more.
>> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we'll look at what china's growing demand for meat and dairy products means for its farm industry and food safety. i'm jeffrey brown. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night.
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