WEB EXCLUSIVE: Military experts debate on ‘Crossfire’

Posted 12:15 Sept. 26–“Crossfire” hosted military experts Wednesday night to debate military action in Afghanistan in a packed Media and Public Affairs auditorium.

The panel included retired Army Gen. David Grange, who is a former member of the Delta Force and former commander of the 1st Infantry Division, and Michael Vickers, former CIA Operations officer and Green Beret. The Delta Force and the Green Berets are covert U.S. military units.

The auditorium was filled to standing room only tonight, with an audience of about 400.

Bill Press and Tucker Carlson moderated hard-hitting questions from the audience about military action against Afghanistan.

“We’re not trying to be equal or even (with other countries), we’re in it to win it,” Grange said in response to a question regarding the size of the U.S. military’s budget.

One audience member said the U.S. sanctions on Iraq have harmed the Iraqi people and asked if it will be the same way in Afghanistan.

“Some civilians will suffer, it’s going to happen no matter what kind of war you have,” Grange said.

Grange said the United States has tried to help Iraqi people, a statement which brought questioning coughs and laughs from some audience members.

Others questioned the necessity of an attack on Afghanistan and suggested alternatives such as a special operation to capture Osama bin Laden.

Both panel members said they thought alternatives would be unsuccessful. Grange said bin Laden is surrounded by many armed guards.

Others asked about bases in Uzbekistan and Pakistan and the importance of military intelligence. Vickers said diplomacy and intelligence in Afghanistan were at least as important as military action.

Freshman Erika Colin said she thought people’s attitudes had changed from the live broadcast from last week.

“The audience was way more active,” she said. “People had different reactions. They were less emotional. Now people have had time to think it through.”

Press and CNN staff members praised the audience and GW.

“The students and other the audience members asked the smartest and toughest questions,” said Kristy Schantz, senior “Crossfire” producer. “We were really pleased with that.”

Moderator Bill Press agreed.

“(The show) was particularly good because the questions were more pointed tonight,” he said. “We have never seen a more informed, more questioning and more energetic group of students and community members anywhere.”

Press seem to indicate he will miss GW when the show leaves after this week.

“We love it here, it’s our home away from home,” he said.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.