As NBC's Matt Lauer advertised Harry Reid’s "all-nighter" to debate Iraq's funding, his colleague, Jim Miklaszewski, buttressed Reid's theatrics by showcasing military families, whose "anger over the war is growing," and even highlighted a group calling for the war's defunding. On this morning's 'Today' show, Miklaszewki, aired soundbites from three war opponents but he didn’t gave any air-time to supporters of the war effort.
The following is the full, unbalanced, segment as it occurred the July 17th Today show:
Matt Lauer: "As Al mentioned, or as Ann mentioned earlier, the Senate is ready to pull an all-nighter tonight debating the war in Iraq and when it comes, this is happening as more military families are debating whether the sacrifices they're making are worth it. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski is at the Pentagon with more on this. Mik, good morning to you."
[On screen headline: "Military Morale, War Fatigue For Soldiers' Families"]
Jim Miklaszewski: "Good morning, Matt. As a group, these military families openly voicing their opposition to the war is still relatively small but their numbers and their opposition to the war and their anger over the war is growing. With five children at home and her husband in Iraq, Beth Pirits [sp] is a woman on a mission."
Beth Pirits: "I'm supporting my husband in a better way by trying to push a movement to bring them home."
Miklaszewski: "She had fully supported President Bush and the war until her husband was sent back to Iraq for his third tour."
Pirits: "When we went into this I was all gung-ho about it, you know? Let's go, let's do this. And now, you know, I just, I did not want my husband to go this time because I felt he wasn't going for the right reasons."
Miklaszewski: "Beth joins a growing number of military families voicing public opposition to the war, like Nancy Lessin, who founded Military Families Speak Out. As the war drags on membership has grown to 3500 families, 500 more since January, when President Bush ordered additional troops into Iraq for the surge."
Nancy Lessin: "I think it speaks to the horrific and continuing devastation that this war is bringing to our troops and their families."
Miklaszewski: "Longer deployments, multiple tours and the rising number of American dead have taken a heavy toll. Army brass warns morale, among the troops is sinking. In an email to NBC News, one Army official writes, 'Soldiers are really starting to feel the weight of a war with no end in sight. Lots of building frustration with the Iraqi military, government and people. Levels of patience and attitude are much different on second or third deployments.' Baldwin Yen, is an Army veteran of Iraq."
Baldwin Yen: "People don't want to sign up when they know they're going straight to war and people don't want to re-up when they know every other year you're gonna be there for 15 months. While back home Beth Pirits fears the worst."
Pirits: "If my husband were to come home, pray to God he doesn't, but I mean if he were to come home in that flag-draped coffin, I don't feel like I can tell my children he fought defending our country, because I feel, as though, he fought fighting for Iraq's and that's just not his job."
Miklaszewski: "Beth and others like her face a delicate balancing act and, and they emphasize that while they oppose the war, they're still strongly behind the troops but they want them home, Matt."
Lauer: "Hey Mik, there's an interesting interview with General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, with the Associated Press, talking about the future of Iraq after September and the report from General Patraeus, how the military is reviewing many different options, including, Mik, perhaps an additional surge of troops. Now is this something you're hearing being spoken of seriously at the Pentagon or is this simply covering all bases?"
Miklaszewski: "General Pace, himself, called this 'prudent planning,' and in fact senior military officials say that possibility would be very difficult to do and highly unlikely. And at the same time, Matt, they also have a plan at the Joint Chiefs for a total withdrawal. And General Pace says that if the withdrawal were to start today it would take more than two years to bring home all the American troops and the 100 million tons of gear that they have in that country."
Lauer: "So, so you're saying they're reviewing the full spectrum of options for Iraq."
Miklaszewski: "Absolutely. They never rule out any options here."
Lauer: "Alright, Mik, thanks very much. Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon this morning."