...may be our lead story tonight. I call your attention to the coverage here on MSNBC.com -- we will examine this important story tonight. In addition to the work that our Chief Science Correspondent Robert Bazell has been doing on this front all day, my intention was to supplement the coverage with a discussion on the air with, among others, Tom Brokaw, who has just immersed himself in this topic yet again for a new documentary on Discovery. Alas, Tom is on a plane today, and we've since found a way to expand out the coverage.
As I write this, Gen. Casey is briefing with Secretary Rumsfeld at the Pentagon... so far the opening statement has been about Iraq. I imagine the questions will take us all over the world.
We'll take a look at a story from Capitol Hill tonight... a story that started playing out about an hour before we went on the air last night. I saw and mentioned in the newsroom that FOX was airing live coverage of a press statement by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. -- their on-screen lower-third banner graphic told of a report of some kind... and chemical weapons. The story has grown a bit from there, and we've asked Chip Reid to wade into it for us tonight. We'll also look at today's votes on the Iraq war issue.
And tonight (having just heard Gen. Casey again pleading with the Pentagon press corps -- and the audience in general -- to remember our brave men and women in uniform and their families back home) we will look at the so-called "other war" in Afghanistan. I will save the statistics for air, but the activity in Afghanistan has been on a dramatic upswing, and there's a reason for it.
We will also talk about immigration tonight, and aviation as well. Specifically, a major carrier that has put together some comparatively minor economic and conservation solutions that may well add up.
Two press notes: do not miss Steve Majors' emotional dispatch which precedes this post. And one background note: It's one thing for someone in my job, or my boss' job, to decide that NBC News should open a bureau in New Orleans. It's quite another thing when it comes time to fill it with journalists and camera crews. Everyone in that bureau left a life somewhere else. Everyone in that bureau is there because they want to be. Producer Steve Majors volunteered to go there, and has jumped into the story since arriving. The story he writes about today is one he didn't count on covering. The photo on his post is nothing short of ghoulish. There is also today's cringe-worthy moment on live television: all reporters who have ever suffered a "rookie moment" at a major press event should seek out a playback of the young journalist's question (or an attempt at a question) at today's Pentagon briefing, which came at approximately 3:58 Eastern time. The journalist in question asked a question, which then went down in a spectacular crash when the Secretary of Defense asked for the underlying source. Considering this journalist was facing one of the all-time professionals of the trade behind the podium, it could be argued that it ended peacefully, with apparently no damage to the questioner (the SECDEF decided to take the question and answer it to his own liking) or any visible contrition.
With everything going on in the world, we're also watching some violent weather across the U.S. today. We'll pull it all together for you tonight, and we hope you can join us for our Thursday broadcast.