Having left Nightline and ABC in November after 25 years, Ted Koppel is now the managing editor of the Discovery Channel. He spoke with TV Guide about his first project in his new home, Koppel on Discovery: The Price of Security (premiering Sunday at 8 pm/ET), a three-hour documentary and town-hall meeting about U.S. security post-9/11.
TV Guide: How do we balance safety with liberty?
Ted Koppel: Precariously. When you start looking at everything that's happened over the past five years, you realize how big a change there has been. It doesn't directly affect most of us, only when we pass through an airport. But things [have] happened behind the scenes.
TV Guide: Such as?
Koppel: Guantanamo. "Black sites." "Renditions," where people are sent overseas to countries where almost certainly they will be tortured. We still don't know all that has happened, because it's all been done secretly.
TV Guide: Does enforcing tighter security ultimately become a slippery slope?
Koppel: Sure. There are all kinds of slippery slopes out there: Iraq, Lebanon and the push for democracy. In almost every respect, democracy has been used by Islamic fundamentalists against U.S. interests.... Look at what it's produced: elections on the West Bank and in Gaza that resulted in Hamas taking over the Palestinian government. Arguably... Hezbollah's stature in Lebanon. A senior guy in Jordanian intelligence said to me, "The Islamists use democracy the way we use toilet paper. [They] use it once and [they] throw it away."
TV Guide: Do you miss the daily rush of Nightline?
Koppel: I really don't, but for a variety of reasons. If something is breaking and we want to do a program on it right away, Discovery will make that happen. I'm also working for NPR, so if I [have] an itch to talk about [something], I can.
How is Katie Couric doing in her role as CBS Evening News' new anchor? Matt Roush reveals his take in the Sept. 18 issue of TV Guide.
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