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tv   25 Years in Afghanistan A Photographic Journey  CSPAN  April 7, 2015 9:30pm-10:41pm EDT

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>> traditionally, courts have always ruled 80% against indian issues. we are used to it now. >> people are angry. the essence of the u.s. on summary topics. >> the name and mascot has created a nationwide controversy by raising the question of what is considered offensive and how these issues should be dealt with as well as what role the federal government should play in these issues. >> even the patent office, a federal agency, was determining whether a word can be protected in commerce. it is disparaging to native americans. >> the trademark at the patent office and potentially the fcc it is playing a role. >> no one today who would start a professional franchise whatever name the franchise the redskins. they might call them the braves,
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the seminoles, the cheats. no one today would call a franchise a the redskins. >> you have to look into net can be change. >> it is another speed bump and a long road ahead of us. >> to watch all of the winning videos and to learn more about the competition, go to c-span.org. also, tell us what you think about these issues these students addressed on their documentary on facebook and twitter. coming up tonight, photojournalist robert nichols berg talks about his 25 years documenting the modern history in photos. later, kentucky senator rand paul announces his candidacy for president. award-winning photojournalist
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robert nickelsberg document to 25 years in afghanistan. he spoke about his career and the history of the region told through his pictures. this is just over an hour. mr. nickelsberg: i am going to give you a brief introduction on how i got to south asia and begin a rather rapid 60 image presentation. starting from 1988 and going up to 2013. in 1987, i moved from bangkok, thailand when an opportunity opened up in india to cover south asia. having originally started my professional career with "time" and central america, i never thought i would end up 10 years
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later in south asia. if you look at the map, it is quite huge come india itself. it is incredible. when i landed, it was the end of the cold war and i think one thing that is important for this evening and for you to understand is the context of that time. it was the end of the cold war. the u.s. and russia were still tank to tank. in europe, we had tank counts. central asia started to break apart from the soviet union and the russians were willing to withdraw, which is something very difficult for a nation to encounter. moving there india was asleep at the time as a story for journalists. i was dumped into pakistan to follow the trail up to
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afghanistan. prior to my coming, most of my colleagues have already worked by going over land through pakistan with backpacks and disappearing. this was great in many respects but for me, working for a wiggly, i had to deliver film, and it had to go from kabul to pakistan to europe to new york within 24 hours, go to the lab. film is something quite foreign today. it is manually driven. the challenge was more logistic as well as editorial. so, the beginning -- i am going to book end this conversation tonight with the withdrawal of the soviet army. better for us tonight to call them the russians with the 2013
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withdrawal of the americans. that way, we can compress everything in a similar topic. here you have an afghan soldier handing a flag of friendship to the departing russians. another element here i had to quickly deal with was the ambiguity. this is essential for anybody working in the region, whether it is africa, southeast asia china, europe. you have to embrace ambiguity. keep in mind, the russians at this point had killed one million afghans. they had also come and they do it quite violently, similar to what you see in ukraine today with artillery, execution style. context is very important. what is this flag of friendship all about?
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in 1989, the cia and pakistan's intelligence agency, isi decided that it was time after the soviets had withdrawn to establish a foothold inside afghanistan. any insurgency needs to establish a full told and this is the battle. they decided on the capital. this is the battle outside of the airstrip. this is the ragtag army. the major ethnic group in afghanistan. you can see the ragtag quality of this, in particular, this captured russian. yet obviously gotten -- this is a three-hour drive from the pakistan border. he been mined in this image -- and i kind of knew it -- bin laden in particular was about two miles away.
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they were also at the airport which was the front line. the battle killed 8000. it was a slap in the face to pakistan as well as the cia. that would not stop them though. this is what carpet bombing looks like. these are refugees fleeing the same battle along the same road. a series of explosions along the line. they were using this highway as a marker. luckily, i had my feet in that great mountain stream and i was caught unaware. that is as close to carpet bombing you want to get. these became available for journalists in 1988. that was a new chapter in coverage. we had official access to the city, which had been cut off prior to this. we had to go in over the mountains but now we could go into the city and document.
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this was interesting. this is the military academy. you can see the discipline, the confidence, the training involved in the military academy of afghanistan. these are all members come also whose families are probably without doubt members of the afghan communist party. most of these people had to flee for their lies and ended up in pakistan, iran, india, or europe. institutionally, the whole foundation of afghanistan began to implode. that is what we got in 2001. this is the british area in downtown tebow, an interesting -- downtown couple -- trouble --
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kabul. they were able to establish a foothold in the country. the main tribal leader in this region, pakistan, you can see the importance of borders and geography. it will be a recurring theme this evening. this is when they were finally successful in taking over a province. that spelled doom for the government in kabul. missiles would regularly fall inaccurately. that was the weapon of choice from the government the soviets had left behind. most of these are agricultural guys living from the countryside who had been pushed across the border in pakistan. this is the main conduit for the cia and the isi throughout the 10 years war. if you remember charlie wilson's war, this is one of the main areas they would come to visit.
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very well educated, he is basically the godfather of global jihad. in the early 1980's, he want to mecca on a regular basis to raise money for his training camps. he was encouraged by the cia and the pakistanis and given it a lot of money, hundreds of millions of dollars. he was also the one who befriended osama bin laden. i went there in 1992 ask him -- in 1990 two ask him if he was trading. it was the beginning of the conflict in india in 1989. he was also very hospitable. he did not care that i was an american, what passport i had. he did not care what he told me.
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it was very much matter of fact. "yes i am in favor of local jihad." he also befriended osama bin laden. these camps still remain. he is rumored to be in a nursing home somewhere in pakistan but his sons continue to maintain the network. this is the backside of the camp. it was built by bin laden construction equipment. that is a captured russian tank. this is the backside. you can see how well it blends into the terrain. these are two al qaeda representatives threatening four afghans in the same area. a dry riverbed, right across the border from pakistan.
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this is tribal territory. with good connections, you can get in. now, the only way westerners can get in is with a drone. these camps are still active. one of the more interesting ethnic groups. there was a big compound. fortunately, the reporter i was working with, tony davis, who spoke fluent mandarin we came across this -- they are learning how to take apart an ak-47. they freaked out and you can see there looking down, did not want to engage. they said as to why they were there, their parents had a chinese restaurant in pakistan and they were only there for the weekend. [laughter] the legacy of this is that they
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are still there in this training camp. they are still creating trouble for the chinese in northwestern china and they are under a lot of pressure back home. back to kabul. no visa was required. just good contacts. wait a a while and eventually, you would get in. the daily life was interesting. here you have the traditional dance known as the aton and mogul gardens. it is a lovely situation and it takes place every friday, their day of rest. as things got closer and closer to 1992, this is also from 1992. daily life went on but rocketing was also going on. here you have the one and only
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daily newspaper being hocked by this young kid. the whole context and content is one man who can read reading the newspaper to everyone who cannot. this was in march of 1992 and know when the government was tot tering, i managed to stay for a month. "time" and insisted we stay. i volunteered. it was one of the best things about the region, no one could find you. it will stab you list. [laughter] april 18, 1992, -- it was fabulous. this was something i never thought about but dreamed of, seeing how an attack on the government is carried out.
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this is what afghanistan looks like ethnically. if you learn to read faces, you can see all of the major groups here except for the majority ethnic group. afghanistan is essentially a nation of tribes, clans and ethnic groups. it is not a formal country, in my opinion. here, you have the recently defected minister of defense. he had just defected from the government and pretty much in that signals the the government is going to collapse. these are the shia sect. faces, more central asia looking. and come at the very charismatic leader of which we have a gentleman wearing one of their hats. persian.
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not in the good graces of the cia or pakistanis. here, they are announcing the eventual takeover of kabul. which ministries will attack at which intersections. the entire competition versus the posh stands -- pushtons. one week later, you have these fearless fighters blocking an intersection and who are they blocking but the pashtuns. if you look closely, no shoes. they are fearless villas. we also thought their blood might the green. they were just mad and they loved to fight. they fight for loot and narcotics. the victory celebration lasted
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about 24 hours and we will dip into the civil immediately. 1993, the onus of any civil war falls on the civilians. here you have a man who went out early wanting to probably get milk and eggs caught in the crossfire, injured. he is carried across by a civilian and a policeman. a typical scene in downtown kabul in 1993. this is the ministry of defense. the rockets were devastating. that was daily life for everybody. this is a typical, stand beside the bottle as -- puddle as the tank goes through scene. different ethnic groups or
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fighting over western kabul. shia, sunni, government, nongovernment. deals were being made all of the time. artillery battles. this is one particular family leaving quickly. if you have five seconds, 30 seconds, what do you take? it became evident this was a serious move to get out of town or move aside quickly. a bicycle, a teacup, a chicken and a bag of food. the daughter in law and the mother combined household. no men of fighting age. they got to go back three days later but they are caught on a crossfire on a hillside in downtown kabul. not a generous fellow. he cut gasoline, food, and u.n.
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supplies into the capital. when gas became unavailable, you had to buy it on the black market including taxis. this is what it looks like if you have to take a taxi in the morning to go to work. about 25 people and this car. it is a very hardy vehicle. you can see how low to the ground it is. it could be called the clown car but it is not, really. this is the way you got to work because buses and taxis were not running. the families suffer. a family of six without a breadwinner. a woman whose husband had been killed in 1992. they had a ration book for food work about $15 a month squatting in an apartment in kabul. downtown kabul in 1994.
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this is the main district. the front line is right here. down in the center of the picture is our al qaeda fighters pakistanis. these are government water boys during a low in the activity. during one of the lowell's the activity, i went -- lulls inactivity, another group of five, up to them and talented them and accuse this group of stealing their television. you live on very little money but a lot of loot. when anyone would want to fight over a television where there is no electricity is beyond me. how did they solve this? by filling this guy's stomach with bullets. they wanted to take our taxi. this is the fellow yelling for
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the driver. it is rare they have been that's. -- they and its -- bayonetts. this is how you learn to work with the best afghans translators, drivers. this driver was renowned for his fearlessness. he had a cutoff switch underneath the dashboard so when he said no, the car is not working, he would turn it over and it would make a lot of noise . they said, ok, we are out of here. they put the guy in a will barrel and moved him. these are the drivers and the relationships as a journalist, you need to make. i would've never thought he had a cutoff switch underneath. walking around kabul in 1993 you would be amazed what you came across. to this day, i cannot find the other journalists i worked with but i came across these executed
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militiamen. behind a clinic in downtown western kabul. the battle was over here. this area is totally built up. it was a cemetery and a clinic on the foreground. these men have been shot and dumped, probably from another area. this is primarily a shia neighborhood. this started to become more of an issue than it is today. we move from 1993 one complete chaos and civil war, roughly 85% of the country is involved in civil war. september 1996, whether taliban had come up and eventually encircled kabul. all of the militia groups that
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were fighting to keep them away and eventually made through's with them. these are two taliban men firing rockets. it is an interesting scene particularly you can see the rudiment terry ignition system -- the rudimentary ignition system. in october 1990 six, essentially, the government of the taliban came into kabul and this is reading out the riot act to the population. there is no radio station, no television station, no newspapers. everything had collapse in relief of the civil war ending what you had to deal with was growing your beard for men, no woman will be allowed out of the house unless accompanied by a relative.
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schools will be limited only to men. shops close during mealtime. no loud music, no singing canaries was one of the jokes going on because afghans love birds. they do have a sense of humor. this was the way they established control over off denniston, on top of a vehicle with a megaphone. the civil war had ended but these were the new rules of engagement. this is what they did do a university science lab. 1997 essentially 80% control over afghanistan. we are back to the rivalry. look at this picture carefully. the minister of the interior, pa
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stun. this former air force general just got a deal with the taliban to give them his city. to give it over to the taliban in return, they would allow him to continue to be the leader. within 36 hours, this treaty collapsed and as a journalist we knew this would not be a marriage made in heaven. we manage from pakistan to get one of the last flights in. you can see the faces -- uzbeks. note, very few turbines. with uzbeks, a lot of
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turbines. we could hear this clinking going on about a mile away on the airport road, going across we realized this was a trap set up to soccer in the taliban and along all of these rooftops, they were being snide. eventually, someone walked across our path and into the building and opened fire. he came across. this is the moment of impact. you can see the brass casing. he has just been hit. these are all the taliban that were caught, including us, the three journalist. he is going down, down. i had moved from this position. this fellow was about to fire an
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rpg into the doorway. this man had the look of death. he carries his friend away after firing a rocket and all hell broke loose. 36 hours later, this is what remained. every single taliban was killed. they have no language in common. they are hated. the most strange think the taliban could have done was to ask the men to turn in their weapons. this treaty collapsed in 1997. these are red cross workers. it is in may, 100 degrees. the bodies did start to smell. in 19 it comes the taliban went back in and killed 2200 locals. revenge -- in 2008, the taliban went back in and killed 2200
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locals. in 2001 and february, we are getting closer to 9/11 so everything is heating up. the environment is not very pleasant for the taliban. only three countries in the world recognize them --, including saudi arabia and pakistan. they had cut off unicef aid. no materials were allowed in. this was a baby that had died due to exposure. this is the father of the baby and this is the entourage to the cemetery. everyone hundred feet, another person would and offer to carry the baby to be gray said. seven months away from 9/11 -- to the grave site.
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context is important here. in may 2001, the same journalist, anthony davis, and i managed to get through the taliban lines to the northeast part of the country. he had the remaining 10% of the country under his control. 90% of the country was controlled by al qaeda and taliban. the arab fighters mixed in with the taliban were about 40 miles away in a precarious, geographic area. in this area along the oxus river. the story was how the bad tag force was able to maintain any kind of defense. -- ragrag force was able to maintain any kind of defense. he has two emerald mines.
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he allowed his men to grow opium. that was the only way they could get cash and it was smuggled to pakistan. he knew in may, four months away from 9/11, that something was going on with bin laden. at this point gary from the cia had started to make contact with him because the cia rarely get any money -- gave any money. they were not favored by pakistan or the cia. now we get into the more interesting foreign policy side of this.
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who was giving him money on the side and supplies? russia. and come india. pakistan's biggest rival. -- and, india. in this building on september 9 amashad assad agreed to be interviewed. one of the cameras had been packed full of explosives and it killed him. september 9. 100% control of afghanistan goes to al qaeda and the taliban. everything folded in the last 10%. he was a very charismatic
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leader, spoke fluent french, was educated in downtown kabul, the son of a military officer. a very interesting to look. a great -- interesting fellow. a great chess player. he was not favored by the u.s. nor the saudis. four two days, they had 100% control of afghanistan. if the world trade center -- and this is a very i enjoy speaking about -- if the attacks have been foiled, which i think they could have been, this is not hindsight now -- what would the americans have done about afghanistan? let's think about it. we move ahead to the end of november of 2001. i was lucky enough to get a visa by the taliban come and had
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withdrawn to their home base in kandahar. we had our own security. we got out of there pretty quickly. they were not a happy bunch. you can see the interesting turbines here. taliban. what the taliban really wanted to show us was a village about 17, 20 miles outside of kandahar that had been bombed by americans or french and killing civilians. the americans claimed they saw lights at night in this area where there was no electricity in a very rural part of kandahar where people would often take refuge from the bombings. they figured they must be al qaeda. who else would have vehicles and
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a generator? they bombed the small city. this is a shepherd colling and his children out in the field to bring in the goats and the sheep. it gives you an idea of the terrain. not very forgiving them affordable. it gives you the idea that life goes on no matter what. we did see 17 graves. we have no idea who was in there. it was interesting to have the taliban show as a violation of human rights. pakistanis captured in december 2000 one. if you live in the region long enough, you immediately know they are pakistani. these are the fellows that came out of that sisisi training
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probably traded back to pakistan for afghans that might need in jail there or interrogated by the americans. in december, this is december 17. bin laden has successfully escaped over a 10,000 foot path. behind come in his retreat, he was covered by 15 arabs. this is also the time that tommy franks denied the marines access. we had it italian ending -- a battalion and a half in the indian ocean waiting to parachute to chase bin laden. but, tommy franks, god bless him, said no. if i start to sound cynical, it is because i am. this is during ramadan.
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do you think the locals who fast all day long when it is 32 degrees and they don't eat all day long are going to go chase a fellow of a mountain to 12,000 feet? it was impossible. they eventually went about hundred 50-200 special forces and their. there is no way you can -- they eventually put about 500-200 special forces in there. probably one of the first visitors to guantánamo. these are two afghan pashtuns. try to tell that to an afghan. he was probably sold to the americans. in march 2002, this represents
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the american commitment. this is a soldier from the 10th mountain division at 5500 feet with a dead taliban. if you look closely, this is something you learn as a photojournalist, to try to include as much detail in a picture as possible. i went down on one knee because it is -- his head had started to decompose. i noticed two sets of rubber gloves. his think attempts had been -- his fingertips had been blued with ink. interesting. another aspect i tried to include in editing was the influence of pakistan and surrounding countries.
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the pakistanis have denied they were giving refuge to any taliban. here they are. you can see it. you know the faces, or at least i do. this was a no neighborhood where they had sanctuary. notice their dress. the very short look. they just had come out of a mosque. i could not disguise the data that i was american. they knew who i was. you can tell on their face. they do not want to have anything to do with me. that night, the interpreter got a knock on the door from the intelligence agency asking him, imploring him to stop bringing the foreigners. we had been followed.
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do that it come in a very remote province, one of the most sparsely populated provinces and the most difficult in terms of the terrain. these are wounded 10th mountain division nurse -- division nurse -- divisioners. i missed an ambush but i don't think i could have made the trip. this is a major river. the americans were eventually overrun and the base was given over to a taliban. they escaped two years later. these men were not seriously injured. some of the personalities in afghanistan some of you may know
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who this is. he was an afghan american who left his country when he was 15 came to the u.s., married an american went to georgetown, became part of the neoconservatives. here, again, we has some history. 1952, the americans built the kandahar airport as part of an a id airport. he is back with his escort to have a ribbon-cutting opening of a road project that the americans had supported outside of kandahar. you went on to become ambassador to iraq. interesting person. the terrain, again, very important in this story, in this book, conquest invasion, the whole battlefield. look at the terrain and how
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insurmountable it is. this is a u.s. marine coming up to a command out host -- outpost. this is the river still occupied by a few americans. this is the hindu kush, similar to the rockies, not very forgiving terrain. the president in 2009 at a press conference in the palace. 2009, i went out with the new york times to a central afghan provincial capital to see what was going on in part of the province 80% controlled by the taliban. in the picture, over in the left, a brand new ford pickup truck in the u.s. had given them. these are british designed. these are collapsible, burlap items with wire.
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you open them, fill them with dirt, and an instant barricade. the afghan flag. a chinese or russian rooftop to a pickup truck. a broken chair, a traffic cone tipped over, dirty socks, an interesting gutter. two innocent but scared out of their mind afghan national police men offering me in for breakfast. this is a brand-new ford pickup truck with no gasoline. the gasoline that leaves kabul and in 18 will truck will be diverted. the gasoline will be unloaded and sold on the black market. they had no gasoline for their brand new pickup truck. this is the legacy of what we're going to leave the at dance. an infrastructure that is very new to them to be able to take care of themselves. again, being counters between --
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this is a 10th mountain soldier two hours outside of kabul greeting a teenager. in an old trench. the americans established a base at a strategic point there. down to zero c level, this is over 5000 feet. we go down to zero. a group of marines having an after action report where they meet after a four hour patrol. 125 degrees. you are dehydrated really wiped out. this is 5:00 in the afternoon. this picture ran in the new york times. i think it is a good indication on the disconnect between the pentagon and members in the field. they were reprimanded by a sergeant major for being out of uniform even though he never
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mentioned congratulations, our men are on the front page of the new york times. he wanted these men punished. it is because they are wearing du-rags. it is the only way to keep sweat from pouring on your head. the metal plate on the front of you and back of you is also an hundred 25 degrees. you are basically wearing a waffle iron. it is difficult terrain at zero c level. this is a 16th-century fort in the southernmost outport of the u.s. army. back to 7000 feet in kandahar the challenge of any occupying army, including alexander the great. he went into this region. can you imagine being in a
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humvee going up this ambush alley? it was decided to give up these small outposts. an interesting documentary was filmed up here. back to zero. 16th-century montfort, prime opium territory. an ied disposal team looking for ball bearings. marines. 2013, i returned to cover the withdrawal of the u.s. military and nato. i was surprised to get permission to photograph a drone being launched. it is not an armed drone. it reaches 80 miles an hour off of this rant. interesting to watch this and to see the pictures. the optics are amazing.
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this is an observation drone. 14-foot wingspan. the technology is quite old. no problem with the camera on it. these are where the vehicles were collected. these are m-wrap the of goals, well air-conditioned. $750,000 a piece. they are being collected and cleaned. this soldier looking for stray bullets before they are transported to the middle east, europe, or back to the u.s. downtown kabul. again, daily life is something we need to cover. in 2001, when the city gained its freedom, the afghans tried to emulate architecture in
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dubai. this is a wedding hall. very interesting to see kabul at night now. western kabul. gives you an idea of the density and how this, as an urban area, will eventually disappear as real estate increases in value. this is the kabul river that runs through and this used to be the frontline. this is the main road. this was the russian embassy cultural center, which became a destination for a lot of journalists to see what was left of the former soviet occupation and that is kabul university. here, this nice, green square in western kabul. on my last day in kabul to suburban suvs carrying six military trainers were ambushed by an explosive device.
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a suicide bomber waited for them along the route. they had made this route before on the way to an afghan base where they were going to train afghan army soldiers. six americans were killed and 10 afghans. this is the best example that -- with what i had at my disposal to indicate the american withdrawal. to show a withdrawal is similar to showing a retreat. the army did not want to see that kind of spin given to journalists, nor did they want to project they were going to withdraw physically. they could talk about it but they were rather reluctant to show it. here, you had men, the army. it gives you an idea of this -- it is twice the size of jfk. it is enormous. it is one of the bases that will not be given up in my opinion.
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these are troops coming in to finish their deployment, carrying rifles, helmets. an interesting gesture given to me, which i saw later on not your the viewfinder -- through the viewfinder. that was not a hello. [laughter] there have been a lot of improvements. certainly, you have access to clinics, schools and what you think our government institutions, which may function for you. schools have been reconstructed or established in most of kabul. literacy is up. girls are going to school. but, it is limited in the urban areas, and particularly, the remote areas where security is ticketless at best. very rarely, you find a teacher
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willing to teach young men and women and not see the threat of a letter from the taliban. the traditions i very serious and very much ingrained. it is a difficult argument on why women are not educated when you have traditional marriages arranged marriages. still, very much the norm and status quo for afghan society. this is the last slide. this is how i want to and -- end my 25 years of images. this is really what afghans want in life come a free, open market. chaos, but the ability to shop on their own free of any conflict. you notice the main police traffic outpost is totally useless. there is dust, noise chaos gridlock, but this is really a great view of afghanistan and
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really what they aspire to. remember, most of the city was a rubble in the mid-90's. they will come back if there is security but on that note, i would like to turn it over to you, crystal. if we want to take some questions. [applause] mr. nickelsberg: it went a little long but i think it was important to have as many images so it is not a blur because it is a complicated country to try to figure out. >> could you discuss your equipment, your photographic equipment at that time and what you prefer now? mr. nickelsberg: things have
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changed drastically since varying around battery-operated nikons or cannons. the digital era really take over after 9/11. prior to that, i shot film, put it into small caption packets and with a wink and a prayer, got been to new york where they were processed. that took 24 hours and somehow, most every packet got there. this was a time when we could shoot kodachrome, which took another day to get processed. the luxury of that finished after 2001 when satellite communications took over our lives and we had to spend hours with our own computer transmitter or scanner if you want to get negative film processed. it eventually he came all digital. you had to have that capacity for any kind of assignment to be able to hook up through a simple
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device, an interesting early-stage satellite phone, or a big instrument which they still have today but it is essentially the size of a laptop computer. if you string up three of them you can stream video. it is difficult and very slow and you need a broadband -- a lot of bandwidth to transmit video. now, it is down to a laptop and a computer chip. i used some cameras. i still carry film cameras into the situation but they tend to get eaten up -- beaten up. yes, sir. >> now that the americans have largely withdrawn from afghanistan, what is your view as to the future there?
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mr. nickelsberg: i am an informed observer. i'm not a political strategist but americans have not withdrawn and i don't think they will. they were waiting so this security arrangement could be negotiated. it is my personal opinion that we should not withdraw, that we need to stay. this is a crucial area of the world. many may say, what is the point? if we are not there and we were not there from 1981 to 2001 there was no u.s. embassy from january 20, 1980 nine, to december 17, 2001. please, somebody explain that to me. what happened in that time? just station of al qaeda.
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-- just station -- gestation of al qaeda. i am still perplexed by that. this happened january 20, the day of inauguration. that decision was made in late 1988 but once the russians withdraw why should we withdraw? i was there when they lowered the flag at the u.s. embassy in kabul. that is a reason i instill engaged. what happened? there is a story behind it. look what happened. we have to remain engaged. we need a diplomat familiar with the territory. we need speakers. two hours away from new delhi, that is the flight. we have a u.s. embassy with over 700 people and zero in
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afghanistan? it did not make any sense to me. remember, i did not fly in and out of the region, i lived in india. i drank the water, not the kool-aid. what is going on? it really made domestic trust coverage. we had an asia addition which took most of these stories. when you get a string of these stories, it reads like a good thriller. it is. it is very interesting. but, we need often it knowledgeable experts, not people with phd's who never leave. we need to remain engaged. watch what happens when we are not there. we have no embassy in iran right now.
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so this discussion can go on but we have other questions. yes, sir. >> thank you for coming. can you take us through what it was like covering afghanistan as an american during so many pivotal times? mr. nickelsberg: prior to 9/11, as long as you did not run into gnarly arabs who did not want to have their picture taken or see you in their vision, it was ok. we didn't have to comply with taliban rules after 1996. it'd not believe in photography and try to prohibit it. that made it more difficult for me but not for the writers because they could continue to talk and question. that was allowed.
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but, as long as you had good people around you, a good driver someone who could trust the neighborhoods it was potentially very violent and some of these places if you made the wrong turn, but with enough local knowledge and situational awareness, you could maybe take taliban to lunch who did not want to let you take pictures and fill them full of food and maybe he would fall asleep by 2:00 in the afternoon. [laughter] it was a tactic but this is what you had to try. i had to came away with lectures. the writer always came away with a story. it was a challenge. it is also a challenge to work in pakistan and india. you won't be able to figure out afghanistan unless you know pakistan. you must understand india to know about pakistan. they are all connected. it is part of the empire. that is the way they think.
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afghanistan is landlocked. they get everything through southern pakistan. they are dependent on the pakistanis. if you could keep your mouth shut and try to blend, be the fly on the wall, that is idea. but that is not possible all the time. we were challenged a lot but if you had a driver that could tell a good tale about who we really were, you could say, this person, you must let him through come the represents the queen of england. you must let him pass. [laughter] it worked. ask john burns from the new york times. that is one of the drivers he had. those people are fully employed all of the time. [laughter] there were challenges every day similar to that. but, going back to 1990
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american or not was not an issue. today, it is. we are a target and how do you deal with that? what magazine publication is willing to send you on that limb right now? who >> thank you for your incredible photographs. one question as we read recently, the telegram is making advances against the afghan army. they are struggling. what is your take on, can the afghans defend themselves? are they going to be like the iraqis, full of their tent and run? mr. nickelsberg: it is an important question. i remind how the telaliban
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took control of the area. they became the rulers come the governors. the taliban have broken up from the older generation. the afghans are fed up with war. if you speak to the 18-25-year-old university student, they do not want to pick up the gun and they do not like the taliban. they want security. if the taliban will come into a rural area, they will be willing to accept them. so will the police and army who have family in that location. it is more a matter of compromise. how are specific provinces particularly those adjacent to pakistan, maintain neutral when the taliban are breathing down their neck? they control farms and roads.
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they don't like the taliban. they could only get 10% of the vote. when you hear the report that specific areas are folding, keep in mind that a lot of journalists cannot go to these areas. it is over the phone chatter. anybody who represents journalism, if he comes out with specific information, they will target the family and find out who gave the report career there is a lot of suspicion and suspense involved in getting the report out. that is the way i expect certain provinces to collapse. what does that mean? short-term, long-term, i don't know. bilbrey has a crystal ball for this place. -- nobody has a crystal ball for this place. >> you asked us to speculate as to had in 9/11 been foiled, what
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would have happened to afghanistan? you have had more time to think about that? what do you think would have happened? mr. nickelsberg: it was already underway in 2001, when did i go to tragic a stand --.edu to tajikistan? i went to find one of the dissenting voices in the u.s. embassy. admit williams. -- ed mcwilliams. he had been sent over to find out what was going on and send back recommendations, 1992-1993. he came back with analysis saying we should stop supporting and letting the arabs into this country. we should stop supporting militant groups who were 100%
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anti-american. within a matter of days, the ambassador and station chief from the cia, many of you may know the name, started calling him an alcoholic, a drug addict. and they exiled him. tracked him down with another reporter. he said, look at what is going on outside. the saudis are here distributing carranza. -- qarans. the iranians are disturbing there's. it became a race inside central asia how to take over after the
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mujahedin had taken power and couple in 1992. -- taken power in 1992. he was a dissenting voice and they kicked him out. he had been a cia operative in vietnam. interesting foul. -- fellow. i don't know what can happen in afghanistan and less all of what you ask -- unless all the countries are asked what they intend to do. i'm not sure how whoosh and rumsfeld -- bush and rumsfeld would have looked at this. based on our failure to come up with critical analysis until an emergency happens i don't know how proactive or creative we are going to be. it depends on how astute and how much responsibility diplomats
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have. for the last decade and a half, 20 years, the pentagon has been taking power away from the state department. that is a problem when you are a diplomat. it is difficult to say what would have happened. that it was in context very important. what was going on in central asia, that real. i saw the vehicles outside. who knows what would have happened. this is how west point air force academy in annapolis, this is what you discuss in the navy workout -- war college. not what should we have done. what would we have one -- have done. i threw a lot of information at you tonight. at least there were pictures not totally words. i must remind you it is very complicated.
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i spent a long time trying to figure it out. a big puzzle but a very interesting one. there are several books and blog sites. now we have the template being reproduced. this is what osama bin laden wanted to do. take over afghanistan. i don't think he ever believed this could happen. now we have a caliphate declared in iraq and syria and it comes directly out of the model from afghanistan. when we took our i off the ball in 2003, march 19, went into iraq, that sent another signal to the world. we were not serious about afghanistan. if you talked to a lot of -- many of you have military friends, friends still serving or x military, now that they are not wearing the uniform, they
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might how you how they really feel. it is an interesting conversation. yes, they were following orders. now that they have the freedom to discuss it, what do they think? it is interesting to go to west point or annapolis or the navy war college, the navy postgraduate college in monterey california. they are not happy. they are also tired. with this challenge in iraq and syria right now, it is exponentially more critical. that 2001 question. thank you for having me. [applause]
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i would be happy to talk later outside or wherever possible. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> wednesday, the latest on the iran nuclear negotiations and the newly announced framework agreement. live at 10:00 a.m. here on c-span. later, irs commissioner joint a discussion at the brookings institution on the impact of budget cuts. live at 2:00 p.m. eastern. next, a discussion on campaign fund-raising heading into the 2016 essential cycle. -- presidential cycle. from washington journal, this is 40 minutes. >> with presidential candidate
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rand paul he will be officially announcing his bid. what federal guidelines fall into place one to officially announce? once they have declared their candidacy, they must begin fundraising in limited amounts. they must be ready to report that in periodic reports. that's what is a given, but what is little understood is even before they officially declare their candidacy, they make in fact be candidates in the eyes of the federal election commission. this is a very uncertain period

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