Posts by Martha Raddatz, Richard Coolidge & Jordyn Phelps
Martha Raddatz, Richard Coolidge & Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 3 mths ago
On the Radar
As the first female vice president of Iran and the head of Iran’s Environmental Protection Organization, Masoumeh Ebtekar may be the most powerful woman in Iran.
But long before her current role, Americans came to know Ebtekar in 1979 as “Mary,” the English-speaking spokeswoman for the Iranian student group that overran the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage.
Thirty-six years after the hostage crisis, Ebtekar said Iranian society is open to dialogue and understanding with the American people, but that there is a persistent distrust of the U.S. government, specifically as it relates to the war against the militant group ISIS.
“Well, I think there's a lot of skepticism about the role of the United States in dealing with ISIS, because the support they initially provided for ISIS in Syria strengthened this group at that time, and then also other reasons to believe this is not a genuine group, it somehow instigated or created by, I don’t know, a certain intelligence agency,” Ebtekar said, presumably alluding to the CIA, during an interview in Tehran.
ABC News’ Brian Hartman, Afshin Abtahi, Tom Thornton and Ali Dukakis contributed to this episode.
Martha Raddatz, Richard Coolidge & Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 6 mths ago
On the Radar
On the frontlines of ugly war crimes and destruction, they are often some of the first to the scene–dispatched to document human rights abuses and report violations of the laws of war.
Meet the E-Team.
They are part of a special unit within Human Rights Watch, dubbed the "Emergencies Team," and are specially trained to respond in emergency situations to the scene of suspected human rights violations soon after they occur to get the full story.
A new documentary now on Netflix, “E-Team,” tells their story.
Ross Kauffman, one of the film’s co-directors, and Fred Abrahams, an E-Team member featured in the film, recently sat down with “On the Radar” to discuss the documentary and life as a human rights investigator at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
The film follows Abrahams and other E-Team members as they take tremendous personal risk in the name of exposing human rights violations. At one point, two investigators inside Syria rush to the scene after a bomb drops in a small town of Azaz, near Aleppo, and witness the destruction of the country's raging civil war firsthand.
Martha Raddatz, Richard Coolidge & Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 7 mths ago
On the Radar
As the United States enters the third month of a bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, the nation’s top military leader said that ISIS has adapted its tactics – finding new ways to blend in to with the population – to evade detection.
“They're becoming more savvy with the use of electronic devices,” said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey. “They don't fly flags and move around in large convoys. They don't establish headquarters that are visible or identifiable.”
Though the new techniques make it harder for coalition forces to track and target ISIS fighters, Dempsey told “On the Radar” that the coalition has had success in containing and disrupting ISIS while also building up the Iraqi forces’ offensive abilities.
Moving forward in what he estimates to be a several-year-long campaign, Dempsey explained how the fight against ISIS, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State, inside Iraq and Syria are different.
So, how long will it take? Dempsey estimates that it could take as long as three years before there’s such a force in Syria.
On the Radar
At a time when sexual assault in the military is at an all-time high – with more than 5,000 reported incidents last year – Chuck Hagel says that fixing the problem is one of his highest priorities as defense secretary.
“If we can't protect our own people, then we're going to have a problem,” Hagel said. “We owe it to each other; it is accountability; it is a responsibility of all leaders at every level to deal with this.”
Hagel took “On the Radar” along for a visit to Naval Station Great Lakes, home of the Navy’s only boot camp that trains over 40,000 recruits annually. We got an exclusive look at classes that are teaching new recruits how to recognize, deal with and prevent sexual assault. But Hagel has acknowledged tackling the problem will be a long road.
“We're not where we need to be yet. We will get there,” he said. “I've made it as high a priority as there is. I meet with all our sexual assault prevention office people once a week for an hour.”
Hagel, having now led the Defense Department for more than a year, said he’s still getting used to the responsibilities of the job.
On the Radar
What started as the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls from a boarding school in remote Nigeria has turned into an international rallying cry to rescue the girls nearly a month after their disappearance.
The United States and other members of the international community have now sent aid and military assistance to Nigeria to help in the search, but a former commander of the United States’ military operations in Africa said that these newest efforts likely aren’t enough to save all the girls.
“I think the one thing that's almost certain is the young girls are no longer together,” Retired Gen. Carter Ham told “On the Radar.” “They've almost certainly are dispersed in small groups or even individuals. And my guess is, given the porous nature of these borders, that many of them are probably already outside of Nigeria, thereby complicating the search for them.”
“But I don't think we should give up hope,” he later added. “What's the likelihood that all of the girls will be rescued? It is pretty remote. But if you get one, that's one. And if you get more than that, then that's good.”
On the Radar
At a petite 5’3’’, Sage Santangelo may not look like a combat fighter at first glance. But the female second lieutenant has never let that hold her back from pursuing her dream of becoming an infantry officer in the Marine Corps.
Growing up, Santangelo found she was always able to keep up with the guys and enjoyed playing hockey on all boys’ teams. But when she joined the Marines, Santangelo found the playing field changed; she was segregated into female-only training units and as a woman, was relegated to less strenuous physical training than her male counterparts. And that’s why, Santangelo told “On the Radar,” she didn’t have a fair shot at passing the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course.
“It was an awesome opportunity for me to be able to try the course, and an opportunity for me to learn what the ground combat element does and how I can support them in the future, and how to become a better leader in the Marines overall,” Santangelo said of the Marines’ Infantry Officer course, which she failed out of on the first day.
Upon reflection of the disappointing failure, Santangelo said she came to a realization.
But Santangelo believes women are up for the challenge.
On the Radar
What if the United States has been waging the wrong war against the wrong enemy for the last 13 years in Afghanistan?
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Carlotta Gall, who spent more than a decade covering Afghanistan since 2001, concludes just that in her new book, “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014.”
Gall told “On the Radar” that Pakistan – not Afghanistan – has been the United States’ real enemy.
“Instead of fighting a very grim and tough war which was very high in casualties on Afghans, as well as NATO and American soldiers, the problem wasn't in the Afghan villages,” Gall said. “The source of the problem, the radicalization, the sponsoring of the insurgency, was all happening in Pakistan.”
Gall said she first had the realization that Pakistan was fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan “very soon” after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Gall said that Pakistan’s leaders, and especially former President Pervez Musharraf, were “very clever” and tricked the United States into believing that Pakistan was an ally.
Despite the awareness of Pakistan’s “double dealing” today, Gall said that relations with Pakistan are no better now than in the past.
On the Radar
As President Obama and world leaders conclude the Nuclear Safety Summit in Europe, “On the Radar” travels to the frozen plains of Nebraska and Wyoming to meet the men and women in charge of the US nuclear missile arsenal.
“Our mission is to provide the president with an option to launch nuclear weapons,” Capt. Mark Wullshleger explained during a tour of a 20th Air Force underground missile bunker. “If he wants to utilize us, we're always here, and we're always on alert.”
We traveled underground to a Missile Alert Facility, a capsule secured behind blast doors and five-foot thick concrete walls. Eight times a month, officers like Wullshleger “pull alert,” going 60 feet underground for a 24-hour shift at the launch controls for the world’s most powerful weapons of mass destruction.
“Pulling alert, it's a different animal,” Wullshleger said. “Going underground for 24 hours at a time without seeing daylight is kind of an experience.”
Launching a nuclear weapon isn’t as simple as flicking a switch. In fact, it takes four switches. But the warhead is always at the ready.
On the Radar
Ben Affleck certainly isn’t the first celebrity to advocate for a good cause, but the Hollywood actor and director has managed to maintain an uncommon level of credibility and expertise on the two-decades-long conflict in the Congo that has resulted in the deaths of more than 5 million people.
Affleck, who has founded an advocacy and development organization for Eastern Congo and has traveled to the region extensively, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week and sat down with “On the Radar” to make his case for why the United States should invest greater resources to solving the conflict.
“This is who we are as Americans,” Affleck said. “We believe in helping others who are down, who are suffering. … We've been involved in several conflicts overseas, conflicts that may have sapped some of our will, and we've become, perhaps, a bit disillusioned with engaging overseas, but I don't think that we should give up on our core values.”
Affleck describes his work in the Congo as his “personal legacy” and said it wasn’t until he gave back to the world in this way that he found a deeper meaning for his life.
On the Radar
Nearly 13 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, that terrible day continues to shape the work of President George W. Bush.
The former president sat down exclusively with “On the Radar” to discuss his new Military Service Initiative to help post-9/11 veterans integrate back into the workplace. And he grew emotional remembering the attacks and the nation’s response.
“I don't think about the day as much as I used to,” Bush said. “I think about the circumstances that enabled and encouraged kids to attack us, and I think about the decisions that need to be made to protect the homeland a lot. I really think about our vets a lot. I mean, I've developed a kinship with a remarkable group of people.”
Bush said he takes inspiration today from the resilience of hundreds of veterans he’s met over the years who’ve overcome post-war trauma and injuries to lead productive lives. He pointed to the example of Dan Gade, a veteran who resolved to conquer his handicap as a one-legged amputee so that he could once again play Legos with his young daughter. Gade has since been able to ride a mountain bike alongside the former president.