It started out seemingly okay. People were asked to submit questions to producers.
I submitted a question... it was about the effects of Depleted Uranium on our military personnel and Iraqui Civillians, and I wanted to ask what has been done to protect our troops from exposure to radioactive dust particles, and wanted to know if the Veterans Administration is prepared for the long term health effects to soldiers & their offspring caused by over exposure to DU.
The producer told me that since there were no helath experts on the panel, it was not a proper question for the theme of the show, and
So, I restructured my comment, and she said it was better and would run it by the executive producer:
"As a navy veteran who was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1991, I am concerned that America is not prepared for a resurgence of Gulf War Syndrome" and that the Veterans Administration is ill-equipped to deal with the long term health issues faced by soldiers who have been exposed to Depleted Uranium".
So, We all sat and waited for the program to begin.
It starts out with a Democratic congresswoman from Illinois (can't remember her name) underscoring that she felt the war was based on a lie etc.
Then Ted Koppel asked if their were any military people who wanted to respond. The first woman who got the mic (I think by accident) was a woman who had lost her husband in the war last year and said she was a part of a group (I think Millitary Famlies Speak Out, but not sure) who gave a heartfelt plea to pull out of Iraq before anymore spouses had to go through what she had gone through.
From there, it started becoming clear that the pro-war people were going to be given more time to speak than people who dissented.
The next comment came from a woman who also lost her husband (actually in the same unit as the other wife) and she gave a patriotic speech about how poud she was that he had died for his country etc and that we needed to finish the job of bring freedom to Iraq.
So, it went on this way, with the pro-war side taking precedence.
Then, during the third commercial break Rabbi Waskow stood up and loudly said, "I was invited here to speak, but then was told I could you would not allow anyone from the religious community to sit in the front row and that I would be allowed to make a comment later if I would take a seat in back. But now I have been told that I will not be allowed to speak at all."
(upon hearing that, I realized that nobody had spoken from a religious/faith based perspective, and wondered if that was indeed intentional).
He went on, "So I will ask my question now during the break so as not to cause embarrassment to you Mr. Koppel"
Ted Koppel said, "Thank you, go ahead"
The Rabbi spoke: "You do not want the religious community to speak beacause we DO see the BIG picture (reffrencng a marine who had spoken earlier saying that people who were for ending the occupation in Iraq di not see the big picture) "We know the story of the Pharoah, who tried to hold back God's people, and that the Pharoah's lust for power was so great that we pushed his army against the Hebrews again and again no matter how many time's he failed... he continued to deny the circumstances until the amry of Egypt was beat down and depleted at the expense of his subjects."
(I wish I could communicate the eloquence with which he spoke)... "President Bush is the Pharoah, and he has stripped the American people of basic social services such as healthcare and education in order to arrogantly keep up his holy war. I will no longer stand for the U.S. governmen and the media denying the religious community our voice. The common people of the Untied States and of Iraq and elsewhere are suffering."
Then he said he was done, (there was definitely some applause during parts of his speech) and he was escorted out the church where the Nightline episode was being taped.
Antother outburst happened toward the last half hour when a tall older African American gentleman went up to a mic without permission and siad, "ask Richard Perle about the PNAC... that's all I've got to say... I'm outa here!"
Then, it went on and during the last break their was a similar occurence as to the rabbi's, when an Iraqi spoke loudly saying, there are many Iraqi's here sitting in the back, and we were told we could speak, but have been denied."
Before it went further, Ted Koppel said they would be given a chance to speak in the last seven minute segment.
However, when the show started again, one man was brought to the microphone from another section... not from where the first Iraqi said he and others were sitting. That one man said he was an Iraqi and represented the majority of Iraqi's and he supproted the U.S. freedom fighters, and only a small percentage of Sunni's were angered by the U.S. presence in Iraq. that was all.
Ted Koppel went to the closing statements and let each of the four guest panelists have their say, then started to do his closing.
I was upset that nothing was said about the health of our troops mentally, physically or otherwise.
So, I satrted chanting "GULF WAR SYNDROME" over and over again, very loudly so it filled the church and drown out Ted Koppel.
He replied, "I am sure I have no idea what you're taking about"
and I yelled, "It's about Depleted Uranium!"
Then I shut up, and he finished his closing and it was over.
As I was waiting to filter out with everybody else, I heard one of the Iraqi's, who was very upset, talking to a producer: "This is not what we expected, we were told we would get a chance to speak in the press release you sent us, and you did not give us the chance to say what we came to say."
The producer just kind of appeased him... nodded and stuff.
I think they will probably re-shoot Ted Koppel's closing.
I just wanted you to post this so the whole story could get out there... pass it on as you deem appropriate.
I am really feeling at this moment that the media is intentionally trying to appear as they foster "free speech" and "open dialogue", but are actually doing everything they can to keep dissenting views muted and to a minimum.
Comments are closed on this story.