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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

Brian Williams became the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of NBC Nightly News on December 2, 2004. Read his full biography.

Our new series 'On the Line'

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Mtaibbi_2I remember March 19, 2003, the day the Iraq war started. As one of the correspondents in the NBC team heading into Iraq from Jordan, we were perched on the border and waiting for a secure enough opening to begin the race along Highway 10 to Baghdad. Once there, a few days later, we watched in those early weeks as looting and chaos battered the Saddam-less city while the U.S. occupation began to take shape. We drove around freely, worried mostly about avoiding the crossfire generated by the bandits and looters who all seemed armed and eager to shoot; there were stories everywhere.

Now, with the war about to begin its fifth year, those early days and weeks might as well have happened in a different country, so profoundly have the internal dynamics of Iraq and the war changed. NBC News continues to get great reporting from Richard Engel and our other colleagues who have either been embedded with U.S. military units or have risked venturing away from our workspace to find and report stories. One recent example, Robert Bazell, with his gripping reports on emergency medical treatment in the war zone.

But it’s also true that our ability to report is frequently restricted by security concerns that are literally issues of life and death. Within those restrictions, often the best we can do is to look at the tape or other material from other news agencies or Web sites and incorporate that material in the body of our own reports. I know. I’ve been back to Iraq for two reporting tours since that first long assignment at the war’s beginning.

Dsc00001_1That’s why we’re hoping a new series of reports we’re kicking off tonight, called “On the Line,” will find a different way to report the war. A troop increase is underway, what the administration calls a “surge.” Our thought: To let a few soldiers who are part of the troop increase, perhaps a rookie or two being deployed for the first time, along with a couple of Iraq war veterans, serve as key voices to tell the story of the war at this juncture from the time they get their orders, and train and ship out, to the time they arrive in country and begin their mission. In some of my previous war-related reports I’ve called it a “friends and family war,” meaning that only the friends and families of those who serve really have to care about the war and share the sense of risk and sacrifice. Our feeling is that if our viewers come to care about these particular soldiers, and as their stories evolve over time, they’ll seek to understand more about the war and the nuances of a country in tumult. "On the Line" hopes to go beyond the casualty counts and repetitive images of car bombs and street battles.

From the outside looking in, Iraq seems as confused as it is unmistakably violent, its explosive alliances and enmities and probable outcomes open to such divergent interpretations. The soldiers featured in our reports will be entering the fog of that war with their own individual motivations and sense of mission -- and what they hear, learn, think, believe and disbelieve, who they meet, whom they fight and fear -- we’ll learn from their voices. Voices we’ve come to know. Voices you’ll want to keep listening to. They’re the voices of those who are "On the Line" and our plan is to be there with them, at a time when the policies, tactics and strategies of the war itself are also on the line.  We have no agenda, no intent to cheerlead the war or embolden its critics. Our goal is to just watch and listen, and to let our viewers and readers do the same.

Photo caption: Mike, left, and producer John Zito, middle, talk to 3rd Infantry Division soldiers during their training at Ft. Irwin.

Read more from Mike Taibbi, On the Line

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COMMENTS

My son is with the 10th Mountain Division out of Ft Drum, NY. He's been in the Army for 18yrs. This is his second tour in Iraq. He was in Desert Storm and now. He was Drill Sgt. at Ft. Leanord Wood, MO for 3 1/2 yrs prior to this deployment. He has now been in country since Aug. last year. They have been extended now another 4 to 5 months. We have a daughter-in-law and a 14 year old grandson in Watertown, NY. This has been rough on the whole family. The toughest part for his wife and mom; are never knowing exactly where he is, on any given day. He has his own platoon, and they attach them to company after company keeping them constantly on the move, so you never know if something happens in an area if he is there or not there. At least when his dad was in Vietnam, I knew the area he was in, course he was a pilot and in the air, not on the ground. You just pray everyday when you get up, you do not open the front door and see uniformed men on your doorstep. That's a good day.

Mr. Taibbi;
I would like to see a fundamental shift in news reporting that condemns the suidicide bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, there should be a change from suicide bombers to what they really are: Homicide Bombers-their intent is to kill, main and terrorize, Anything less lends credence to the idea of martyrdom.

Mr. Taibbi, Do you realize Josh James from your series was injured in the bridge collaspe that happened on June 10th? He is now in Germany. I am a family member and would sure like an update on him and all of the rest of the men in your series.

Mr. Taibbi, It seems these reports are few and far between. My son is with the 3rd ID and currently at FOB Kalsu. It would be great if these reports came more often. This is the second time my son has been there. He leaves a wife, a two year old daughter, plus many other family members back home who all worry a great deal for his safety, but we are very proud of him and his commitment to do what he believes is right. It would be great if this was a weekly update so we could see more about what they are going through over there.

My husband is in this war and I am too for that matter. I wish that everyone understood that if we didn't take part in this, it would sooner or later come back to our front yards and we all know that is not what we want in America. If my husband has to go across the sea to protect us, then so be it. I am very proud of each and every soldier fighting to keep the world safe. If we allow terrorism anywhere, then there is always a chance it will come back to bite our rears again.

Im in Aco 2/69. Im in Kuwait right now. We are gonna be in Iraq most likely sometime before the end of the month. For all our friends and family back home I just want to say we love you and miss you already. We've only been gone a few days and I already feel like Ive missed too many moments with my wife and our two little ones. Im already beginning to see how easy it is to take the simple pleasures we have in life for granted. Pray for my family, my Unit, and the people of Iraq that God would give grace and mercy and that we would have peace and freedom to live love and worship without the pain of war.

Mr Taibbi, I am married to one of the 3rd ID'S A2-69 brave soldiers. We are 35 and this is his first time over there. I am pleased to see a story that will focus on the soldiers and the job they are doing to help these people. No one wants the soldiers home more than us family members, but they have a job to do. I am waiting for his safe return home and i ask that you all keep the soldiers in your prayers.

Mr. Taibbi-
First let me say that you are to be applauded for the great work you are doing on this story about the US soldiers and their families. We should all focus on the fact that we are at war and our soldiers and their families need our support and prayers. They make tremendous sacrifices to protect and serve our country. For this reason, I have written a song as a tribute to our great, brave men and women of the military and their families. I want to show my appreciation and support! I pray for the best for our country and our troops.

Mr. Taibbi, I am one of the mothers of a first time deployed 3rd Division 2-69th Armor soldier. He just turned 20 in February and his father and I are both frighened for his future. I have faith that the Army and Captain Perez have trained him well but being his mom I just cannot feel any different than I do. He and his buddies are a brave lot and your report shows them as individuals yet a close knit group. Thank you! And stay safe too!

This letter was written by Martin Niemoller during World War II.

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.
To make sure this doesn't happen again, the injustice to anyone anywhere must be the concern of everyone everywhere.
Written October 1945. Niemöller was a Protestant pastor, one of the pillars of moral resistance to the Nazis, who imprisoned him for four years in solitary confinement.

I added this line: They (Al Qaeda) came for the Americans and we did speak up!

Mr. Taibbi,
I hope that you can keep the spin out and let the soldiers tell THEIR story. If that happens, I think it will show that we are doing much more good than harm in Iraq.

Mr. Taibbi, This region is an extremely confusing and dangerous place to be. I remember seeing the broadcasts of the 3rd Infantry Division heading through those terrible sand storms in the desert. The war has changed the region and these brave men and women of the military need to be heard and people need to care about what they are enduring. These soldiers are so very young and brave. I think that the NBC News journalists in the Middle East have done a great job in broadcasting the stories from this war. These reports will continue to show the bravery of our military. Keep up the fine reporting. Peace to everyone and stay safe.

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