Winner 2014

60 Words


60 Words tells the fascinating story of how one 60-word sentence, pieced together in the fraught aftermath of 9/11, became the distinguishing legal marker between war and peace in the United States. Tracing the evolution of the “AUMF” – or “the authorization to use military force” – the program combines recreations, analysis and interviews to chronicle the phrase’s inception, the frenzied discussions over its viability, the pressured congressional voting that ushered it into existence, and its contemporary implications. Together it weaves a riveting patchwork of legal intrigue, political strategizing, moral handwringing and linguistic nuance that has since been used to authorize and justify the Iraq war, the “War on Terror” and other conflicts. A collaborative effort between Radiolab and BuzzFeed, the program is radio at its finest, using sound to artfully recreate the context by which legal and political circles came to authorize the language that would repeatedly permit America’s entry into military conflict. For providing a stunning example of how much language shapes reality, particularly in unsettled circumstances, and of the political, military, legal, ethical and moral costs it extracts, 60 Words receives a Peabody Award.


Executive Producer: Ellen Horne. Producer: Kelsey Padgett. Host/Editor: Jad Abumrad. Editor: Soren Wheeler. Senior Producer: Jamison York. Host: Robert Krulwich. Reporter: Gregory Johnsen. Sound Design: Dylan Keefe. Production Help: Matthew Kielty.