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Phil Donahue on 'Body of War'

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  • Phil Donahue co-directed, co-produced "Body of War"
  • Film concerns Tomas Young, Iraq war veteran paralyzed by bullet to spine
  • Donahue: "Nobody sees this pain. These people are all below the radar"
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(CNN) -- Phil Donahue has rarely shied away from controversy. On his long-running syndicated talk show, he debated issues including abortion and the death penalty, and his MSNBC show was canceled in 2003, he maintained, because of his antiwar stand.

Body of War

Phil Donahue, right, made "Body of War" about disabled veteran Tomas Young, seated.

Now the former talk show host has co-directed and co-produced an independent film, "Body of War," about a disabled Iraq war veteran, Tomas Young, who questions the conflict's rationale.

Young joined the military after the September 11 attacks and was sent to Iraq. After less than a week there, he was shot in the spine, paralyzing him from the waist down. "Body of War" is the story of his coming home and adjusting to his new reality.

The film has earned excellent reviews and was named best documentary of 2007 by the National Board of Review. It airs on The Sundance Channel on Tuesday night. Video Watch Donahue talk about politics and war »

Donahue talked about "Body of War" and the recent presidential election on "American Morning" with CNN's Carol Costello.

CNN: What did you hope to prove by [making "Body of War"]?

Phil Donahue: Well, this work by ... Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue is our attempt to show the harm in harm's way. In the middle of the most sanitized war of my lifetime, nobody sees this pain. These people are all below the radar. What you see in our film is a drama taking place behind the closed doors of thousands of homes in this country. I'm telling you, less than 5 percent of us have sacrificed, and the American people are not seeing this. I think this is a shame.

CNN: Well, let's see some of that. We're going to show a clip right now.

(Begin video clip)

Tomas Young: When I made the phone call on September 13, it was because I saw the pictures of [President Bush] standing on top of the pile, saying that we were going to smoke the evildoers out that did this to us. All that had to happen so I could fly 10,000 miles away to not shoot around, because all I saw were women and children running away from gunfire, before I took a bullet myself.

(End video clip)

CNN: Got a lot of wonderful reviews already. I just want to ask you what your hope is for when Barack Obama takes office for veterans of the Iraq war.

Donahue: Well, he will stop the pretense. He will stop it immediately. Oh, the troops, the troops, we love the troops ... [but] the troops come home and the V[eterans] A[dministration] doesn't call them back. We have to stop all this. We think if we say it, it's true.

So, I see Barack Obama as -- first of all, the smile alone is going to restore this nation to the world's family of nations. ... They're going to be fascinated with the guy, and he is going to exploit this special attention to the benefit of this nation. I am pumped.

CNN: The bar is high for him.

Donahue: Yes.

CNN: He's got the weight of the world on his shoulders.

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Phil Donahue, thank you for joining us.

Donahue: Thank you, Carol.

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