NBC News’ The Wanted – An Interview with Roger D. Carstens

Roger Carstens, Adam Ciralsky and Scott Tyler (left to right), investigators on The Wanted from NBC News.
Roger Carstens, Adam Ciralsky and Scott Tyler (left to right), investigators on The Wanted from NBC News.

You’ll be absolutely stunned at how the first program ends. The SAS isn’t going to come in through the windows, but your jaw will be on the ground.

On Monday, July 20, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, NBC News will debut the first of two episodes of The Wanted, a program that tracks down real-life, high-profile individuals who have been accused of terrorism and genocide, but who are living openly in Western countries. The second installment follows at the same time on July 27. The cameras follow investigators as they research evidence, interview government officials, slice through red tape and lift curtains of secrecy in pursuit of justice.

The investigative team includes Emmy award-winning investigative journalist Adam Ciralsky (Dateline NBC, 60 Minutes), who also serves as co-producer with documentary filmmaker Charlie Ebersol (Never Stop Learning). Joining Ciralsky are former Navy SEAL Scott Tyler, an expert in urban reconnaissance and unconventional warfare; David Crane, a decorated former U.S. intelligence officer and the first American to serve as chief prosecutor of an international war crimes tribunal since Justice Robert Jackson did at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals; and Roger D. Carstens, a retired Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel.

Carstens, who has also served as the Washington, D.C., director for the Council for Emerging National Security Affairs (CENSA) and a senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), recently talked in an exclusive HistoryNet.com interview with HistoryNet‘s senior online editor Gerald D. Swick and Rob Wilkins of the World History Group about why he became involved with The Wanted.

HistoryNet.com: How did you get involved with the show, Roger?

Roger D. Carstens: I was working at the Center for New American Security writing reports on Special Operations and military contracting. An colleague from the Brookings Institute called to see if I would be interested in doing a TV show. My initial response was, "Thanks, but no, I’m not interested."

Then he said, "Are you sure? The show deals with tracking down and bringing to justice those who committed genocide in Rwanda?" and I went from, "No, thanks" to "Who do I call, how do I get involved?"

In April of 1994, I was in Stuttgart, Germany as part of the 1/10 Special Forces Group (Airborne) . On the 7th of April, we were alerted at 4:00, went to a mission briefing and at 10:00 that morning, we were at the airport waiting to board a plane to Rwanda. And we waited.

After four days waiting, we were the told the mission was scratched. I was tired, so I went home, turned on the TV at 10 a.m. on Saturday and saw news footage of the bodies floating down the river in Rwanda, the men, women and children. I broke down and wept like a baby.
Becoming part of this show (The Wanted) was a chance to finish something I’d left undone.

HN: It allowed you to have some closure.

RDC: Absolutely. How many people get a chance to right a wrong? You usually go to your grave regretting it.

HN: What effect are you hoping The Wanted will have on viewers?

RDC: I’m coming at this not from an entertainment perspective, but from a sense of justice. I want viewers to see there are people out there who want to see justice done. This is not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democratic issue, it’s not an American issue. It’s about human rights, about protecting people and seeing justice done.

I want people who watch this show to walk away saying, "This is a good show. It says something. They’re showing what needs to be done."

HN: How would you summarize The Wanted?

RDC: If you’re a 19-year-old guy who likes action, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re a person who likes detailed reports you’ll like it.

To me, this show is about pursuing justice, sometimes in the face of disinterest within the governments around the world. It’s amazing how disinterested some of the officials are.

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