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Act Four: What's Arabic for Fjord?

The podcast and stream versions of the show include a story here that is not included in broadcast. It catches us up with an Iraqi translator named Basim, who fled the country to Norway after his life was threatened because he aided the American forces.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass speaks with reporter Larry Kaplow and producer Nancy Updike, who spent a month in Iraq as the US combat mission was ending, in August 2010, talking to Iraqis. They play excerpts from a conversation they had with a Shiite professor—who had pizza recently with a Sunni friend, and realized just how tense things still are in Iraq.

Prologue

Dal LaMagna, millionaire and creator of the Tweezerman tweezer, prepares to go to Iraq on a diplomatic mission he invented for himself—despite concern (and mocking) from his own sister.

Prologue

There's a 200-person operation based out of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas called the Center for Army Lessons Learned. Host Ira Glass speaks with Colonel Steve Mains, who runs the Center, and with Craig Hayes and Lynn Rolf, two men who answer soldiers' requests for information.

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: 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.

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 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 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.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with a Lance Corporal from the Marines' Eighth Communication Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, about what his superiors told him about Iraq at his pre-deployment briefing to go overseas.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass tells the story of a report by the U.S. intelligence community back in October 2002 that declared that the likelihood of Saddam Hussein using weapons of massive destruction was very low for the "foreseeable future"...unless the U.S. were to launch a military attack on Iraq. In other words, the war to stop him from using weapons of mass destruction would probably cause the thing it was designed to prevent.

Act One: Senator's Proxy

Ira speaks with Gordon Jondroe of the newly-created Department of Homeland Security, trying to get answers to Senator Graham's questions. It doesn't go so well.

Act Three: Realism 101

It's possible that the most compelling arguments against the war with Iraq, and the most compelling arguments for the war with Iraq, are arguments you've never heard. Ira talks with journalist Nicholas Lemann from The New Yorker magazine about two ways of seeing the war: The so-called Hawks' view, and the so-called Realists' view.

Act One: Get On The Mic

Ira interviews three of the people involved in making the documentary How's Your News?, about a team of developmentally disabled people who travel across the country doing man-on-the-street interviews. He talks to two of the developmentally disabled reporters, Susan Harrington and Joe Simon, and to the film's non-disabled director, Arthur Bradford.