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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  April 25, 2011 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: just-released secret documents reveal new insights into the detainees held at the guantanamo bay prison. good evening.ç i'm jeffrey brown. warner. on the newshour tonight: we examine the leaked files with two reporters who've gone through them-- tom gjelten of n.p.r. and charlie savage of the "new york times." >> brown: then, we have the latest on deadly clashes in yemen, as government troops fired on protesters demanding the ouster of president ali abdullah saleh. >> warner: spencer michels looks at the debate over reinstating r.o.t.c. programs at a california university. >> reporter: it's been 40 years since stanford banned military training at the height of the vietnam war, but
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as many students told us, times have changed.ç >> brown: and robert macneil wraps up his "autism now" serieç with a roundtable discussion about policy and other challenges going forward. >> it's an emergency. ten years from now the country will be crushed by the needs of these people, and nobody is looking down the road. >> brown: that's all ahead, on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i mean, where would we be without small businesses? >> we need small businesses. >> they're the ones that help drive growth. >> like electricians, mechanics, carpenters. >> they strengthen our communities. >> every year, chevron spends billions with small businesses. that goes right to the heart of local communities, providingç jobs, keeping people at work.ç they depend on us. >> the economy depends on them. >> and we depend on them.
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moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.çç and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting.
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and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ç >> brown: hundreds of newlyç released classified documents have opened a rare window on the military prison at guantanamo bay in cuba. the files were leaked to the whistle-blowing web site wikileaks, which in turn offered them to several news organizations. others, including the "new york times" and the "guardian" newspapers, obtained the documents separately. the files were written by military intelligence officials between february 2002 and january 2009. and offered details about more than 750 prisoners including 172 still being held. documents known asçç detainee assessment briefs contained gathered about and from prisoners and evaluations by analysts. they included assignment of a
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risk category for each detainee: high, medium or low. one revelation: the 600 or so prisoners released or transferred to other countries included 160 who were at one time considered high risk. and the "new york times" identified 42 former detainees who later engaged in militant activity. one of those is a 24-year-old afghan captured in 2001. after his transfer back to afghanistan inçç 2004 he revealed himself to be a pakistan-born militant who then began plotting attacks. at the same time, however, other files detailed the cases of inmates who had been picked up by mistake including 89-year-old mohammed sadik captured in 2002 and later found to be suffering from dimension. one former detainee once
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assessed as a probable member of al qaeda is today fighting as a rebel to oust qaddafi in libya. there are new details on well knownç detainees including the tt::qb master mind of the 9/11 attacks. the documents say he ordered former baltimore resident chan to carry out a martyrdom attack against pakistani president pervez musharraf to test chan's willingness to, quote, die for the cause. the attack did not go forward. in 2009 after these files were written, the obama administration reassessed all 240 prisoners then held at guantanamo. the administration has now condemned the publication of the classified documents. now to two reporters who've read 4pqgd written on the documents: ciarlie savage k times;" tom gjelten of n.p.r. charlie saf raj, i'll start with you. give us a general overview first. what jumped out at you as new and important here. >> well, you know, it's just
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an extraordinary pile of documents for someone who has been covering these issues for many years. we knew the broad allegations of the government's contentions against the various men that have been brought to guantanamo over the past decade. what these documents showed us why was why they thought that, how strong or in some cases how weak the evidence was against him. it laid bare the sources of their claims which in many cases turned out to be only testimony about such men by other detaineesç at guantanamo. the prison is revealed to be
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geopolitical considerations. >> brown: geopolitical. >> geopolitical. almost all the detainees from afghanistan were returned to afghanistan. almost all the detainees from saudi arabia were returned to saudi arabia. clearly those decisions were based on commitments that the united states made to those governments or commitments it wanted to keep with those governments. >> brown: charlie savage, you
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were telling us about these cases of detainees providing information about other prisoners, but i gather that too raised all kinds of questions about reliability. can you give us an example or two. >> certainly. well, i mean one of the things that's interesting about this whole process is because of the habeas corpus cases that some detainees have been bringing in court, we've had a series of judicial rulings by article 3 judges and in some cases military judges who have looked at the government's evidence and ruled that it's not good and the detainees needed to be let go. in some cases there were veiled references to certain witnesses against prisoners having been unliable. it was so censored you had no idea what they were talking about. with these files you can see a small number of detainees are in some case providing an enormous amount of information about the rest of their colleagues or at least their fellow prisoners. many aren't talking at all or few are talking prolifically. in some cases those detainees also have mental health
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problems or have been otherwise revealed to be maybe exaggerateors at best. so to see the specifics here's one person who has been held for many years the basis of, say, four people and now you see that each of those four people had credibility problems, it brings into sharp focus the incredibly difficult situation that the military analysts at guantanamo found themselves in in trying to piece together fragmentary and often contradict other or ambivalent information to decide what was true about what someone had done before they were captured and just how risky it would be to release them. >> what would you add to that, tom? i've read of one fellow who i guess gave so much information at a certain point that they said he exaggerates too much. it's impossible. >> he was not a detainee who was subjected to torture. he had been rewarded for his testimony, for his reporting on his fellow detainees. he just did it and did it and did to it the point that they
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basically had to put an asterisk next to his report saying that anything he said needed to be verified. one other point that i think is worth keeping in mind here. you know, you mentioned the number of detainees who have gone back to the fight so to speak. about 42 according to the investigation that we in the "new york times" did. well, we looked at who had gone back to the fight. as it turns out, those ratings of how likely a detainee was to pose a threat to the united states was almost irrelevant. the high risk detainees who went back were no more likely to go back to the fight than the medium or low risk detainees which calls into question really the reliability of the intelligence that went into those assessments. it's almost as if they really were not sure whether the detainees were all that risky or not. >> brown: let me ask you... i'll start with you on this because you mentioned the word torture just a minute ago. one thing i guess we do not learn a lot about here are the interrogation techniques. i mean they're mentioned but not in great detail, right?
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>> as charlie said, what you really need to do to and a analyze these documents properly is read them alongside the transcripts of the combatant status review tribune and the habeas corpus petitions because that's where you see the allegations or the claims of torture. when you sort of line them up, that gives you a little better sense of which accusations are well founded and which have been tainted by perhaps information that was acquired under questionable conditions. >> brown: there's a whole lot to go into here. one thing that jumped out at me was foreign officials were allowed to come in and interrogate prisoners. people from china, russia, saudi arabia. tell us what was that about? >> well, of course we knew this to some extent. we see in greater detail now that delegations of intelligence agents from other countries, including some that we might find unsafe ory were being invited to guantanamo to
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come interview their own nationals. in some cases they shared what they had learned about their nationals with us. in some cases they would puzzle with the united states over exactly who these people were. they had difficulty placing some of them. that was part of the sort of strange environment of the non-state actor al qaeda, the taliban, and people suspected of being parts of them encountering the world of nation-state governments. >> brown: did you make much of that? i mean, we knew some of that. >> we knew some of that. there's a bigger point from this that arises from this huge mass of information. we knew lots of it. now we see it in much greater detail. we see what was underneath the redacted lines but there's so much information here. there's so many different kinds of people at guantanamo from low-level foot soldiers from yemen that would have been sent back years ago if they had come from a more stable country to extremely high-level famous notorious
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terrorist operatives. they're all there together. in this huge heap of 700-plus documents people are going to find what they're looking for. there is enough new data here that you can mine it for whatever your pre-existing faction view of guantanamo is. lots of people are there who are innocent or lots of people are there who are extremely dangerous. it's all true. all these conclusions are mixing together. >> brown: just to pick up on that, tom. as we said in our set-up piece, the obama administration did its own reassessment when it came into office. when these were released or just before they were released they put out a statement saying that these new files may or may not reflect current thinking about particular individuals. what does that tell you? i mean, how should we read these older documents? >> well, all the detainees currently at guantanamo were assessed under this process. so they all had a risk rating at one point. the obama administration came in and basically sort of through out that whole risk approach. instead, the obama administration is trying to
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find what to do with each individual detainee, whether to prosecute them, whether to hold them indefinitely or to transfer them. what they're really applying now is a much more customized process. rather than putting the detainees under some kind of label, they're finding what the solution is for this detainee, what's the solution for this detainee. if they can be transferred is there a place they can be transferred securely? so it's a much more customized approach that this administration is following. >> brown: they don't even use that high, medium, low anymore. >> they don't say they're not using it but they don't seem very anxious to talk about it. let's put it that way. >> brown: tom gjeltin of npr and charlie savage, thank you very much. >> warner: still to come on the newshour: the unrest in yemen, bringing back r.o.t.c. to stanford, and policy questions about autism. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> reporter: a crackdown on antigovernment uprisings in syria escalated today when soldiers and tanks stormed the southern city of daraa. witnesses said the soldiers fired indiscriminately on
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civilians, while tanks blocked the roads. human rights activists reported at least 18 people were killed. meanwhile, people trying to cross the border into jordan were forced to turn back. nato air strikes flattened part of moammar qaddafi's compound in tripoli overnight. a libyan government spokesman said qaddafi was unhurt, but the attack did kill three people and injured 45 others. we have a report from geraint vincent of independent television news. >> reporter: this was an air strike at the very heart of the qaddafi regime. in the dictator's compound in tripoli, nato bombs were targeted at what it described as a communications headquarters and ammunition store and an ammunition bunker. the compound is parts military based, parts presidential palace. the building in which qaddafi received the delegation of african leaders seeking to broker a peace deal earlier this month with one of those damaged in the attack the
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regime spokesman say was a clear attempt on their leader's life. >> this is only the second time that qaddafi's compound has been hit since the nato bombing campaign began. it may not have been an assassination attempt but it is more evidence that the point of the nato effort is moving from simply protecting civilians to destroying the colonel's command and control system. pictures posted on the internet by rebel fighters in misrata suggest the regime is continuing with its own bombardment. despite assurances that government troops have been withdrawn, it appears tripoli is being heavily shelled. at least 50 have been killed in misrata this weekend alone. >> reporter: also today, italian premier silvio berlusconi announced italy will take part in nato bombing raids over libya. previously, italy had stayed away from direct involvement because of libya's status as a former italian colony. in afghanistan, taliban
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militants tunneled their way into kandahar's main prison and helped at least 480 inmates escape. most of the prisoners were taliban fighters, including 100 commanders. they got out through a 1,000- foot-long tunnel the taliban had been digging for months from the outside. it marked the second major jailbreak at the facility. a spokesman for president hamid karzai admitted the taliban had pulled off the daring jail break. >> our first reaction is that this is a blow. it is something that should not have happened. and now that it has happened, we're looking into finding out as to what exactly happened and what is being done to compensate for the disaster that happened in the prison. >> reporter: the incident comes on the heels of a deadly weekend for nato forces. roadside bombs killed three nato service members in the south. a fourth soldier died in a helicopter crash in the east. there was no immediate word on their nationalities. a civil rights group in nigeria
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has reported at least 500 people died in religious riots after the presidential election. the government has not yet released an official death toll on fears it will lead to more fighting. the count was highest in the town of zonkwa, where more than 300 people died. killings also took place in nearby kafanchan and kaduna, the state capital. the violence erupted after incumbent president goodluck jonathan, a christian, defeated his muslim opponent. japan launched a massive search today for the bodies of 12,000 people still missing from last month's earthquake and tsunami. nearly 25,000 japanese soldiers methodically searched the rubble, seas, and coastal flats of the northeast. by evening, only 38 bodies had been found. the two-day operation is the largest military search since the disasters. as a result of the quake, toyota announced its production has plummeted by nearly 63%, and it won't return to normal until the end of the year. in u.s. economic news, there were some signs of life in the battered new home industry. the commerce department reported
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new home sales rose 11% last month, after three straight months of decline. stocks on wall street were mixed today. the dow jones industrial average lost 26 points to close below 12480. the nasdaq rose 5 points to close above 2825. mourners in india paid tribute to the hindu guru sathya sai baba today. he died after a month-long hospitalization for various ailments. thousands of people lined up for one last glimpse of him at his ashram in southern india. hundreds of thousands are expected to visit over the next two days. sai baba's spiritual centers are in more than 126 countries, and his charitable trust is estimated to be worth nearly $9 billion. sai baba was 84 years old. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to margaret. >> warner: the arab revolts continue unabated, including in one country that has been a key ally of the u.s. war on terror. tens of thousands of protestors poured into yemen
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streets again today. two months into an uprising against the 33-year rule of saleh. the latest violence followed an eventful weekend. president saleh said saturday he would leave power within 30 days if he and his relatives were granted immunity from prosecution. but in a bbc interview yesterday, saleh sounded less definitive. >> this is a coups. you call on me from the u.s. and europe to hand over power. who shall i hand it over to: those who are trying to make a coups? no. we will do it through ballot boxes and referendums. we'll invite international observers to monitor but we'll not accept a coups inside the country, and we'll not accept any external support for it. >> warner: this latest proposal to negotiate an end to the uprising was offered late last week by the gulf cooperation council. six persian gulf states led by saudi arabia. under the gcc plan, saleh
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would hand over power to his vice president 30 days after signing the deal. in the interim, a coalition government of ruling and opposition parties would draw up a new constitution to be voted on in subsequent elections. a colonel coalition of yemen's opposition parties welcomed the initiative though some balked at forming a temporary government with saleh but later today reuters reported the opposition had agreed to point. >> we appreciate any efforts that can bring yemen out from its ordeal. >> warner: it's unclear, however, if the youth will go along. over the weekend young protest leaders rejected the proposal saying it gives saleh too much leeway to renege. thousands remain camped out in the capital's central square demanding saleh's immediate departure. the obama administration of late has been trying to quietly ease saleh from office. even though he's been a vital ally in fighting a potent al
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qaeda branch based in yemen's hinter lands. in a bbc interview saleh warned that al qaeda had infiltrated the protestors' camps and that the west should be wary. >> why is the west not looking at this destructive work and its dangerous implications for the future? they're ignoring what al qaeda is doing in yemen, and they will pay the price. >> warner: on saturday, the obama administration applauded the statements from saleh and the opposition accepting the gcc deal. by late today two protestors were confirmed dead bringing the death toll to more than 140 in the last two months. for more on the upheaval and uncertainty in yemen, we turn to christopher boucek, an associate in the middle east program of the carnegie endowment for international peace. he travels frequently to yemen. and barbara bodine, u.s. ambassador to yemen from 1997 through 2001. she's now a lecturer and diplomat-in-residence at princeton's woodrow wilson school.
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welcome to you both. ambassador bodine, so what is going on in yemen? is president saleh on his way out in the short term or isn't he? >> i think he is. he has fully accepted the gcc proposal. we know, as you had your set-up, the gmp, the opposition has accepted it. and the united states has endorsed it. i would even say that his remarks demanding that, you know, he would turn over power by election and referendum was actually a reference to the gcc proposal which has a number of steps political process steps. so, yes we are very much now at the end game. >> warner: is that how you see it, chris boucek, this is the end game? >> i think eventually. >> warner: a short one though. >> i think this process can go on for some time but eventually there will be a negotiated settlement between
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the regime and the opposition and president saleh will leave. he can't stay in power. >> warner: what happened this weekend? how do you interpret that? this sort of back and forth? he gives a statement saying he accepted the proposal and then he gives this interview to the bbc? >> i think oftentimes in yemen people say things in public which is different than what they say in private. i think that this is all about maximizing one's position ahead of the eventual negotiated settlement. i think that's what we're seeing. >> warner: let me follow up with chris for a minute. you don't think that this is the final negotiated settlement, this proposal that the bcc brought and supposedly it's been signed off. >> i think this will likely be what it will look like. i think the timing has yet to be determined. i don't think the president has endorsed and signed on and said that the clock starts today. i'll resign in 30 days. i don't think he's gone that far yet. i think that can drag on for some time but he will be. >> warner: ambassador bodine, explain why the immunity from prosecution for him and his relatives so important to him? >> well, i think there's two
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reasons. one is exactly what crimes he was going to be prosecuted for were never spelled out. it was awfully open and terribly vague. and i think that that was obviously a concern. i think the salience of that provision became far more real when former president mubarak and his two sons were hauled into jail in cairo recently. what had been just a negotiating point before, i think, became a very real point. i haven't really heard a list of particulars against him. except the usual charges of corruption and, of course, investigations into who is responsible for particularly the friday massacre. yes, it's very important to him. >> warner: chris boucek, tell us about this opposition. who are these opposition
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parties? what kind of parties are they? is there a split between them and the student movement leaders? >> sure. i think when we talk about the opposition it's not a unified block. there's the official opposition, the joint meeting parties, the jmp, which includes the opposition pears like islamist party, the socialist party, et cetera. there are protestors we see out on the streets oftentimes referred to as youth protestors. however they're probably a small sub set of the overall protestors that we see in the streets. there are many more people out protesting. if they're tribesmen or others. in whatever settlement it is that brings this drama to a conclusion most likely it will be the youth, that segment of the protestors that will lose out. >> warner: do you agree with that, barbara bodine, that the youth protestors in this case unlike say in egypt where they were really driving it, that they're following along, following behind the organized parties? >> well, i would say that
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they're more operating in parallel. one of the reasons that this drama, as chris described it, has dragged on is that previous attempts at agreement have been thundered by the protestors who have a much more hard-line set of demands. and i think what's happened this weekend is that the gcc, the establishment opposition and the government have reached an accord in the students and some of their more extreme demands probably are going to get left by the wayside. i agree with that. >> warner: chris boucek, can the opposition by saying "we've got a deal," will these protestors go home? >> i don't think they're going to go home but they don't represent the major constituency. they don't have anyone behind them. once the official opposition, the islamists, the tribes, the military all of those other
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constituencies are satisfied the students don't have anyone else to pull on. since they represent a smaller segment of the overall protest movement they'll be easily contained by any government that comes into power next. >> warner: ambassador bodine, explain the u.s. role here. the administration started out by saying that... encouraging president saleh to make the reforms himself. at one point i think maybe it was three weeks in, it was pretty clear that the u.s. was working behind the scenes with the saudis to ease him out. what happened? >> well, i think that we've been engaged in conversations with not just both sides but maybe all sides since the beginning. i think when we realized, when the government realized-- i'm not a part of it anymore-- when the u.s. government realized that the small reforms were not going to satisfy and saleh had lost the mandate of heaven that the best thing that we could do
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was to work with all the parties including the saudis and the other members of the gcc. it's not just the saudis. on coming up with an orderly transition that didn't leave yemen in political paralysis and a security vacuum, i think that was our major concern was how to get this process and how to get this... a government going again. >> warner: we heard president saleh warn darkly that al qaeda is now active in the opposition groups. are they mucking around in this politically? >> what we see in yemen is not driven by al qaeda. they're not part of. >> warner: you mean on the arabian peninsula. >> what we do see though is that the more the yemen government is want to go stay in power they're not focused on fighting terrorism. we see increased desertions in
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the military. we see the spaces getting bigger where al qaeda has greater room to maneuver because the yemeny government is focused on staying in power. >> warner: do you agree that the group that sent us the christmas day bomber has more room to operate at the very least. >> what's been created is a larger vacuum. the security forces are distracted by these demonstrations. and their own internal divisions, and the government is. so this is just taking the pressure off a.q.a.p., and that is obviously a worry to us, the saudis and to a host of others. i think number of people in yemen as well. >> warner: we're getting into dangerous territory here. namely speculation. but do you think that whatever coalition takes over from saleh, whatever unfolds, that they will be more or less committed to fighting a.q.a.p.? >> i think ultimately terrorism or al qaeda is not
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yemen's biggest problem. it's not this government's problem and it won't be the government's next biggest problem. the biggest problem with be dealing with a failing economy. it will far eclipse al qaeda. >> warner: chris boucek and barbara bodine, thank you both. >> thank you. >> brown: now, decades after the vietnam war, some private universities are taking a new look at r.o.t.c. newshour correspondent spencer michels reports. >> reporter: if students at stanford in palo alto california want to join the army's reserve officer training corps, they have to come here to santa clara university 16 miles away to attend class. >> carry on. >> reporter: stanford, like many private schools, severed
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ties with rotc 40 years ago pushing it off campus. the situation that could be about to change. >> if you're going to become an army officer you have a type-a personality. you're all leader. >> reporter: >> reporter: in the 1960s, with the vietnam war raging, students and faculty at universities across the country made campus r.o.t.c. programs a target of demonstrations and demands. the mood was anti-war, and anti- military. at stanford, the r.o.t.c. building was burned down. ann thompson is a stanford senior and a cadet batalion commander in army r.o.t.c. >> i think a lot of the reasons that it wasn't really popular in the vietnam era aren't really applicable to the debate today. >> i think that the general mood on campus is that people are really really excited to learn more about the military especially with the increasing role in foreign relations.
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>> reporter: the seven stan order cadets at santa clara get no credit for rotc classes but most get their tuition paid plus a monthly stipend and transportation between campuses. nationally nearly 500 rotc units have crossed town arrangements with nearby universities. but those arrangements disturb cadet jimmy ruc. >> by not having it on campus it's precluded many students from even participating. >> you can set up your team as one entire squad. >> reporter: one reason stanford kept military training off campus was the military ban on gays. then in 1993 don't ask don't tell barred openly gay people from military service including rotc. now with its repeal, though it's still not implemented, the debate has returned. harvard was the first private university to reverse its policy that kept rotc off campus. stanford and several other
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private colleges are debating the issue. public universities for the most part did not ban rotc, fearful of losing federal funds. at stanford, the debate has been intense but, unlike the '60s, polite. it began when former secretary of defense william perry, who now teaches at stanford, and others proposed bringing rotc back into the academic fold. >> having the mixture of the rotc was a good thing i thought. it was important for the staff and students to be exposed to the people who are going to be our future military leaders. >> reporter: with the u.s. military engaged in at least two wars, perry is concerned that students at elite universities have become isolated from the men and women doing the fighting. barely a handful of stanford students have enrolled in the military in the last few years. >> we went as citizens of the country to have something to
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say and participate in their country. we want not just the citizens of the lower ranks of society but the citizens going to the elite colleges. >> reporter: despite a slight rise in college graduates entering the military recently the numbers remain low especially at elite schools like stanford. >> you have a captain who is being court martialed because >> reporter: history professor barton bernier stein, here teaching a seminar on nuclear war, was a young anti-war faculty war member in the '60s who was active in demonstrations against rotc and is still fighting against it. >> the course of rotc is still dubious. the faculty would be chosen by the pentagon and not by the university. i have moral doubts about the presence of rotc. it's primarily teaching people not how to lead but how to fight and kill. >> reporter: education professor amon calin is a member of a faculty committee
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formed to consider these arguments. he wonders if rotc limits open inquiry and impinges on academic freedom. >> you have an instructor who is teaching a course in international relations and decides that as a class assignment they will invite students to analyze some documents that have been made available through wikileaks, they're still classified documents. if students in rotc might jeopardize their future security clearance if they are required to examine one of those documents as a course requirement. >> reporter: but william perry is more concerned that the military be able to include in its ranks well educated stanford students. >> they ought to be leaders, contributing to leaders in our military. it's part of our country. it's part of our democracy. >> reporter: professor bernier stein who was a cadet in the 1950s says the true leadership is not the kind they teach in
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rotc. >> leadership means column left, column right. shoulder your rifles. parade rest. if that's leadership it's not something i think you should be teaching. leadership is critical judgment. they're not allow to criticize the commander in chief. >> do not debate tactics or teek nordiques with the leaders. if you're asked to give input give it. if not, don't. >> reporter: rotc classes are at least as rigorous classes argues the chair of the department of military science at santa clara, lieutenant colonel john towl. >> i think it's more stimulating and more academic challenging than the regular courses. >> reporter: but for an anti-war group putting up posters on campus urging students not to support rotc, the issue was mill tearism. >> it would change the character of the campus.
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it would be a u.s. military facility on our campus. >> reporter: sam windley, who heads "say no to war," was one of several students of varying opinions we contacted. autumn carter edits the conservative "stanford review." >> the idea that this campus is still stuck in the vietnam anti- military era is just completely absurd. it is in stanford's interest and it is in this country's interest to put the best into the military, to have them not only educated, but also trained here. >> reporter: like the anti-war students, gay groups on campus also oppose the return of r.o.t.c. they say the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" didn't go far enough, since it still allows discrimination against transgender people. leanna keys is active in stanford students for queer liberation. >> because r.o.t.c. does not admit transgender students, does not admit intersex students, it's perpetuating that discrimination. >> reporter: student association president angelina cardona thinks the military's exclusion of transgender people will play a surprisingly important role in stanford's decision on r.o.t.c.
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>> i'm personally pro-military. my stepfather is a veteran. i would be thrilled to see r.o.t.c. return to stanford university, if they were willing to meet us halfway and to include all of our students in their organization in this unique opportunity. however, as it is now, they do not. >> reporter: cordona helped prepare a non-binding, online student vote on the r.o.t.c. issue. 44% voted in favor of r.o.t.c.'s return, 17% opposed it, and 39% abstained. but it's the stanford faculty that will probably have the most influence on the administration's decision on whether to bring r.o.t.c. back. the faculty committee voted friday to recommend bringing r.o.t.c. back. the full faculty senate meets thursday. if it and the university president agree, the pentagon must then decide whether to establish a stanford military science department.
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>> warner: finally, the sixth in robert macneil's "autism now" series. tonight, he moderates a roundtable with researchers, parents, and advocates. >> our newshour series on autism has raised important issues of policy that face government and public health officials. and we conclude the series by exploring them tonight. joining us are dr. thomas insole, director of the national institute of mental health which directs federal funding for autism research. catherine lord, professor of psychology, pediatrics and psychiatry at the university of michigan; eileen leonard, a lawyer and executive director of the new york center for autism, a private advocacy group; john shestick a hollywood producer and the co-founder of a former
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advocacy group cure autism now. two of these are parents of children of autism. as we said at the beginning of this series i am the grandfather of a child with autism. doctor, the committee that you chair, the inter-agency coordinating committee that sets priorities for autism research, in its latest report describes the rising prevalence as a national health emergency. what is the public health community doing to meet something you describe as an emergency? >> well, one of the things that this committee has been able to do is to raise awareness. for many people autism is still very much in the shadows. although parents, like the parents we have here, have lived with this for a long time, for much of the country this is a new story. one of the things that we're so aware of is that the change in prevalence and that when i got into this field 20 years ago the prevalence was thought to be about one in 2,000 or
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one in 2500. today we're looking at numbers of 1 in 100. so part of what the iacc is trying to do is to make sure that people realize that not only has this increased enormously but it's continuing to increase. there's no leveling off here. >> catherine lord, do you see autism being treated as an emergency? >> i think that on the whole our medical systems and educational systems are often pretty slow in terms of how we respond. we're not yet thinking forward enough about what are we going to do as kids enter the system and as we begin to work with them and their families and as they get older? >> how do you see it, john? >> it's an emergency. people may not think so. but when you have millions of people... let's say we have 1.5 million people with autism, let's say, maybe a little less, maybe a little more, above 18. we have another 500,000 more coming up. those people, once they pass 18, who pays for them?
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their parents have to pay for them. society will be, or they will be forced on to medicaid roles that can't take them. in california where i live, services are being cut back. ten years from now, the country is going to be crushed by the needs of these people. and nobody is looking down the road. to say this is an emergency. we have to start planning that. >> doctor? nobody is looking down the road? >> i think people are looking down the road far enough to say this is a melting... mounting problem. let me put a real clear point on this. we have services which we can provide. but we don't understand this disorder well enough to know how to cure it, how to prevent it, and even at this point how to treat the core symptoms medically. even though we recognize this is a developmental brain disorder we're not at a point yet where we have the kinds of effective, rapid, powerful treatments that we really are looking for. >> catherine lord, you told us
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from michigan a month or so ago that there's just enormous disparity in the delivery of services. >> absolutely. some kids are getting great help. there are wonderful good teachers and really good programs out there. but you can live across the street from a child who goes to a very affluent school district that happens to have a very good teacher and your child can't go there and you may have nothing. i think we know a lot about things to help. not to cure autism but to make it better. but the degree to which it's actually offered to people or accessible to people ranges tremendously. >> over the last 15, 20 years we've seen a change in autism education where we have a better understanding of what we can do to help children with autism learn and grow. that's in the education system. not the medical. we have a better understanding of what that is. the problem is, it's not available to most of the children out there with autism in this country.
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>> we've done in this series a story on the charter school in manhattan which you helped to found and didn't get your son into, i gather. and comparing it with the school in the bronx for 700 children with autism. now the idea... ideal, the one- on-one teaching is apparent. but the cost of putting the ideal into practice is apparently prohibitive. >> it is very costly to put one-on-one into practice but they are finding through more research that one-on-one isn't necessarily... necessary with all children. we needo get this information out. we need to teach those teachers how to work with children with autism. the charter school may be closer to the gold standard. a wonderful, terrific place that i too would love to have my child in. but i think there are good schools that we could provide in the public system. we're not doing that yet. >> the reality is we don't know enough to do this much,
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much better. there's a knowledge gap that we are asking to fill, that we think is really the gold science. to be able to understand this and to be able to provide the kinds of interventions that will be much more effective in the future. >> john, compared with other medical conditions, are we spending proportionately enough on autism given the prevalence now? >> you know, it's not a competitive sport, right? i mean, everybody... everybody's suffering is real. no one's suffering is worse or not worse than anyone else. but if you look at it this way, someone has autism when they're two until they're 78 and they cost a bundle of money, then, no we're not spending enough money on it. i mean, the story is with many other diseases you get a disease, it's tragic. you either get better or you die at which point you don't
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cost anybody any money. with autism, you keep causing pressure on the family, the community, the school, the state forever. so i would say, no, there's not enough moneyment there's not enough money spent on it. it's not a question of taking it away from somebody else. it's a question of putting more towards what society should put its money towards which is helping the most vulnerable people who, by the way, are your grandson, my son, her son. they're not like some freaks you see in a movie or six aisles down in the supermarket. if it's 1 in 150 or 1 in 110, whatever that number; it's like the last four aisles in your church. it's everybody. it's all over the place. >> catherine lord, some see the federal aid for disabilities as morally an extension of civil rights protections. given the political atmosphere
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and economics in the country at the moment, do you see the society committing tax payers to further huge provision of services? >> i think it's going to be very hard with the current economy. even economically not even just talking about the emotion, there are real advantages to planning this. but it's a hard battle right now given all that people deal with. >> if there's more effective intervention early with young children, does that make them turn into adults who are more likely to be able to work, to live as independent a life as possible? >> yeah, i think there's reasonable basis to believe that it does. do we have good information, solid, reliable research? no. because we haven't done the long-term research that needs to be done. >> it does. if it does it for half of the people, if you spend $20,000 a
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year on intervention for ten years and half of the people are then able to live in a group home, have a job, maybe drive a car and not cost the state $00,000 a year to warehouse them, yes, it's makes a giant difference. it doesn't have to be all of them. 40% would be a huge improvement. >> here's the problem. is that as a society, we suffer a form of self-bigotry with people with autism and other forms of disability. and that is the bigotry of low expectations. when families get this diagnosis, the diagnosis is as if the outcome will not be a hopeful one. that has to change and it can change and it should change. if we give the kind of interventions that john is talking about, it's not going to be good for everyone, but it's going to be better than not doing it. we have to do more research to understand how to help those that it doesn't work with. >> the effect is we now have just in the last couple of years we have early interventions which we know if
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we start at 18 months or 24 months, have a bigger impact than what we've seen before. there are behavioral interventions. they're expensive. they're intensive but they do help. about 50% of children, as john said, that's a lot. that can really make a difference. but we don't do that broadly. this is still something that needs to be disseminated and needs to be done in a way that is far more effective across the country. >> i think that the evidence shows that we can make a material difference in people's lives if we have the kind of early intervention that the doctor was talking about. where i think it breaks down is when someone turns 21. they fall off the cliff in terms of support, services, expectations, and even an understanding of what we should be doing to help them. >> and they often go backwards in terms of their abilities. >> they do. >> and no one is actually responsible for them. no one is legally statutely
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responsible for the well being of that person who needs someone. >> this is an important point. what john is talking about is that children with autism, it's the responsibility of the educational system. you have an into it manyment to an education and whether it's funded or not you're entitled to a fair and appropriate education. when you turn into an adult with autism, there is no entitlement. you're subject to the vaguerys of whatever locality you may live in and we know very little about how to adequately help people with autism and our expectations are deplorable. >> let me just give you one example. my son is 18. now he gets supplemental social security income. for an autistic person, he gets $634 a month. he would get more but since... he would get a little bit more but since he lives with us,
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they deduct his rent. after i pay for depends which are not paid for by medicaid or med-cal. that is about $400 a month. so that's really not enough to support a person. let alone a person who, in his case, needs help every minute of his life. and we're doing really good. we're doing better than most families. >> as a last word, where do you think we are in this, in our handling of the autism emergency? >> i mean, i think we know a lot of things that allow us to do better. i think the issue is just how do we do better? how do we get services to adulls? how do we get appropriate services to kids everywhere, not just in grade school districts? the reality is john and i are both parents. i would guess that you and i would both probably agree that if this could be detected and
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we could have avoided it or if it could be treated, we would be delighted. but absent that treatment, those of us who are living with autism right now, if we don't get the supports that we need for our adult children, i don't know about you, john, but i worry about what happens when i'm not around to take care of him. i worry about who is going to watch after him. who is going to make sure he's safe. who's going to make sure he has access to those things that he needs and that he has the same kind of fulfilling life that i want for my other child. a place to live. something meaningful to do during the day and a community in which to live. we're not doing that for our people with autism. they're entitled to it. >> thank you all. >> warner: on tomorrow's broadcast, robin will answer some of the questions you've submitted. but much more information is already on our web site where you can also watch every installment in our series. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day.
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a batch of classified military documents released by the wikileaks web site revealed new details about terror detainees at guantanamo bay. some showed detainees once classified as "high risk" were released. government forces in yemen fired on protesters killing two and wounding dozens more. and government tanks in syria carried thousands of troops into daraa, rounding up suspected protesters. human rights activists said at least 18 people were killed. and to hari sreenivasan, for what's on the newshour online. >> reporter: on the r.o.t.c. debate at stanford, spencer filed a blog post with more video from his interviews with students and others. our foreign affairs beat examines a new pew research center poll showing egyptians are optimistic about the future but uncertain about the prospects for a free and fair election. and mondays on art beat, we feature a poem of the week. tonight, erika meitner reads her work titled "miracle blanket."
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>> warner: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we'll have an interview with the british defense minister about the conflicts in libya and afghanistan. i'm margaret warner. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i mean, where would we be without small businesses? >> we need small businesses. >> they're the ones that help drive growth. >> like electricians, mechanics, carpenters. >> they strengthen our communities. >> every year, chevron spends billions with small businesses. that goes right to the heart of local communities, providing jobs, keeping people at work. they depend on us. >> the economy depends on them. >> and we depend on them.
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