Matthew Chasteen is 18 years old. He's joined the Navy, and he's voting for the first time.
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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.
The private security guys (from a company called Custer Battles) who guard Baghdad International Airport usually get along fine with the U.S. military personnel stationed there—except when Nancy happened to be taping, and a huge fight broke out.
Host Ira Glass talks with two Vietnam veterans about what it was like to leave the army and come back to civilian life. Both of them, to their surprise, missed the excitement of combat.