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Second Half Prologue

Ira speaks with Milt Hileman of the Center for Army Lessons Learned about the single most-requested publication they put out, Soldiers' Handbook: The First 100 Days: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures. It explains how to avoid getting killed in your first hundred days in Iraq, which is when a disproportionate number of U.S. casualties occur.

Act Two: Am Not. Are Too. Am Not. Are Too.

What lessons are civilians taking from the War? One journalist has said that Americans seem condemned "to relive the prewar debates over and over because they were never thrashed out in the sunlight." In Salt Lake City on May 4, the prewar arguments—and some other arguments as well—were re-argued, on stage, by Salt Lake's liberal mayor Rocky Anderson and conservative radio and TV host Sean Hannity. Scott Carrier attended the event.

Act Three: The Lessons Of Tomorrow, Today

For all the discussion in Congress about withdrawing troops, there seems to be very little serious discussion about why, about what'll happen to Iraq once we leave, about responsible ways to withdraw. To understand better these and other rarely-discussed questions about the war, we turned to Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks in Baghdad.

Act One: Cassandra

This American Life producer Nancy Updike tells the story of Conrad Crane, the head of the U.S. Army Military History Institute.

Act One: Mr. Adam's Neighborhood

Radio reporter Adam Davidson went to Iraq to report on the war. He decided that rather than living in some journalist compound in the Green Zone or in a big hotel—places insurgents were more likely to attack—he'd fly under the radar, and keep safe...by renting a house in a residential Baghdad neighborhood.

Act One: Truth, Damn Truth And Statistics

Two years ago, a Johns Hopkins University study published in The Lancet estimated the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. It came up with a number—100,000 dead—that was higher than any other estimate at the time and was mostly ignored.

Act Two: Not Just A Number

Captain Ryan Gist was given a particularly tough assignment in Iraq: To build relationships with a town where U.S. bombs had killed twelve innocent people. But first he has to apologize to the families of those who were killed.

Act Three: The War This Time

The Lancet's new study of deaths in Iraq, by the same research team that did the earlier study, yielded an astounding number—650,000 civilian deaths. Producer Alex Blumberg talks to Ira about the debate over this new study.

Act One: Prisoner Of Love

Shant Kenderian reads from his memoir 1001 Nights In the Iraqi Army: The True Story of a Chicago Student Held as a POW By the Americans During Desert Storm. During the first Persian Gulf war, Shant (reluctantly) fought for Saddam Hussein.

Prologue

We're a nation at war, but it hardly feels like it. That contrast is especially jarring for people like Hannah Allam, who just returned home to Oklahoma after two years in Baghdad running the Knight-Ridder Newspapers bureau there.

Act One: Truth, Damn Truth, And Statistics

About a year ago, a John Hopkins University study in the British medical journal The Lancet estimated the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. It came up with a number—100,000 dead—that was higher than any other estimate, and was mostly ignored.

Act Two: Not Just A Number

Captain Ryan Gist was given a particularly tough assignment in Iraq: To build relationships with a town where U.S. bombs had killed twelve innocent people. But first he has to apologize to the families of those who were killed.

Act Three: What Do We Do With These Numbers Anyway?

So if, in fact, 100,000 Iraqis died because of the war—and that number is a year old—what do we do with that number? It instantly brings you to all these imponderable questions about what's worth 100,000 dead. In a way, this doesn't seem like a helpful question to think about.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to Tom Irwin, a stand-up comic who recently performed for American troops all around Iraq for over a month. It seems his best joke, about Iraqi sheep farmers, only makes sense if you're a soldier on deployment.

Act One: When Weekend Warriors Work On Weekdays

When an Arkansas National Guard Unit is sent off to Iraq, they assume they're going to help rebuild the country, since they're trained as an engineering unit. But once they arrive, they find themselves in a combat zone, unprepared and ill-equipped.

Act Two: Marine Life

Rob Miller is a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps commanding a weapons platoon in "Charlie Company" of the First Battalion, Eighth Marines. He led his men recently in the battle of Fallujah, and in a recent satellite phone call, he told This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt (who also happens to be his uncle) what we never seem to hear elsewhere: Details of what it's like to fight house-to-house in urban warfare.

Act One: Our Own Worst Enemy?

In this election year, one question is rarely asked in a very direct way: Is the Bush Administration competent at conducting the war on terror? Every few weeks it seems like there's more news about how badly it's going: Senior Administration officials like Colin Powell now admit the insurgency in Iraq is growing; terror suspects like Yasir Hamdi (who supposedly were so dangerous that having a lawyer talk to them about their case would compromise national security) are released without trial because the evidence against them is so flimsy; there was the Abu Ghraib prison scandal; and just this week, the former head of the U.S. operation in Iraq, Paul Bremer, declared the problem from the start was that there were not enough troops there. Host Ira Glass discusses whether the Bush Administration is simply not very skilled at fighting terror with Richard Perle and James Fallows.

Act One: Airport

The private security guys (from a company called Custer Battles) who guard Baghdad International Airport usually get along fine with the U.S. military personnel stationed there—except when Nancy happened to be taping, and a huge fight broke out.