Under fire for a recent broadcast on fallen U.S. soldiers in Iraq, veteran television anchor Ted Koppel said Thursday that he was not opposed to the war there but questioned the way it was being conducted.
“I know that many of you here today oppose the war in Iraq. I do not,” Koppel told a commencement convocation at the University of California, Berkeley. “I have many questions and reservations about how that war is being conducted but I do not oppose it.”
Two weeks ago Koppel angered conservatives by devoting “Nightline” to broadcasting the names and photographs of 721 American soldiers killed in Iraq. Some called it anti-war propaganda.
Koppel also said the present debate over the prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib prison wrongly focused on the individual soldiers involved rather than higher-ranking officials that set up the system that fostered such activity.
“As important as it may be to argue over the rights of Iraqi prisoners of war, those horrific photographs have largely obscured the context in which the abuses took place,” he said.
“The perceived need to obtain more and better intelligence in the face of a mounting Iraqi insurgency late last fall, created the environment in which those human rights abuses took place.”
“It is quite extraordinary that so much attention is still being focused on the culpability of a bunch of young military police, when they, in fact, were clearly operating under guidelines that had been set much, much further up the command chain. It is the legitimacy of those guidelines that require public discussion.”