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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  September 10, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: president obama will address the nation tonight, beginning in just a minute. the subject: the crisis in syria. mr. obama is expected to press his case for a military strike to punish the syrian government for using chemical weapons to kill more than 1,400 people, as well as to argue for a diplomatic solution. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. welcome to our special coverage of the president's speech. we're also live streaming the event on the newshour's home page. it has been a day of diplomatic maneuvering. u.s. officials set to work to secure a deal that would allow the international community to take control of syria's chemical weapons. at the same time, the obama administration has been lobbying members of congress, urging them to authorize the use of force.
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gwen, what a wild 24 hours it has been from where the administration was yesterday to where it is right now. >> ifill: the administration has a very clear goal tonight. the president has to answer what it is he wants the american people to support, why he needs to sipt it and how he does it. it's unclear how. >> woodruff: and this fine like he's walking for making the case for military action at the same time he's saying we need to leave the window open for a diplomatic solution if that is doable. >> ifill: he has a lot of audiences out there, the american people who are very skeptical about it as well as the international community to want to take those weapons and isolate them. it's really very tough. we're waiting to see whether it's possible for him to do all those things, judy. >> woodruff: that's right. i believe this is the first time in several years the president has made a speech from the white house, and here he is now. >> my fellow americans, tonight i want to talk to you about syria. why it matters, and where we go from here. over the past two years what,
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began as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of bashar al-assad has turned into a brutal civil war. over 100,000 people have been killed. millions have fled the country. in that time, america's worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition, and to shape a political settlement. but i have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else's civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in iraq and afghanistan. the situation profoundly changed, though, on august 21 when assad's government gassed to death over 1,000 people, including hundreds of children. the images from this massacre are sickening-- men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas. others foaming at the mouth,
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gasping for breath. a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk. on that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detaillet terrible name of chemical weapons and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off limits. a crime against humanity. and a violation of the laws of war. this was not always the case. in world war i, american gis were among the many thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of europe. in world war ii, the nazis used gas to inflict the horror of the holocaust. because these weapons can kill on a mass scale with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them. in 1997, the united states senate overwhelmingly approved an international agreement
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prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. now, joined by 189 governments that represent 98% of humanity. on august 21, these basic rules were violated. along with our sense of common humanity. no one disputes that chemical weapons were used in syria. the world saw thousands of videos, cell phone pictures, and social media accounts from the attack, and humanitarian organizations told stories of hospitals packed with people who had symptoms of poison gas. moreover, we know the assad regime was responsible. in the days leading up to august 21, we know that asaid chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix serin gas. they distributed gas masks to their troops. then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of
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opposition forces. shortly after those rockets landed, the gas spread, and hospitals filled with the dying and the wounded. we know senior figures in assad's military machine reviewed the results of the attack and the regime increased their shelling of the same neighborhoods in the days that followed. we've also studied samples of blood and hair from people at the site that tested positive for sarin. when dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory. but these things happened. the facts cannot be denied. the question now is what the united states of america and the international community is prepared to do about it because what happened to those people, to those children is not only a violation of international law.
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it's also a danger to our security. let me explain why. if we fail to act, the assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons as the ban against these weapons, rodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them. over time owrk troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield, and it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and to use them to attack civilians. if fighting spills beyond syria's borders, these weapons could threaten allies like turkey, jordan, and israel, and a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction and embolden assad's ally, iran, which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon or to take a more peaceful path. this is not a world we should
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accept. this is what's at stake, and that is why after careful deliberation i determined that it is in the national security interests of the united states to respond to the assad regime's use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike. the purpose of this strike would be to deter assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime's ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. that's my judgment as commander in chief. but i'm also the president of the word's oldest constitutional democracy, so even though i possess the authority to order military strikes, i believed it was right in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to congress. i believe our democracy is stronger when the president acts will with the support of congress. and i believe that america actes
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more effectively abroad when we stand together. this is especially true after a decade that put more and more war-making power in the hands of the president and more and more burdens on the shoulders of our troops while sidelining the people's representatives from the critical decisions about when we use force. now, i know that after the terrible toll of iraq and afghanistan the idea of any military action, no matter how limited, is not going to be popular. after all, i've spent four and a half years working to end wars, not to start them. our troops are out of iraq. our troops are coming home from afghanistan. and i know americans want all of us in washington, especially me, to concentrate on the task of building our nation here at home. putting people back to work, educating our kids, growing our middle class. it's no wonder then that you're asking hard questions.
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so let me answer some of the most important questions that i've heard from members of congress and that i've read in letters you've sent to me. first, many of you have asked, "won't this put us on a slippery slope to another war?" one man wrote to me that we are still recovering from our involvement in iraq. a veteran put it more bluntly-- "this nation is sick and tired of war." my answer is simple-- i will not put american boots on the ground in syria. i will not pursue an open-ended action like iraq or afghanistan. i will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like libya or kosovo. this would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective-- deterg the use of chemical weapons and degrading assad's capabilities. others have asked whether it's worth acting if we don't take out assad.
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some members of congress have said there's no point in simply doing a pin-prick strike in syria. let me make something clear-- the united states military doesn't do pin pricks. even a limited strike will send a message to assad that no other nation can deliver. i don't think we should remove another dictator with force. we learned from iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next. but a targeted strike can make assad or any other dictator think twice before using chemical weapons. other questions involve the dangers of retaliation. we don't dismiss any threats. but the assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military. any other retaliation they might seek is in line with threats that we face every day. neither assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation
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that would lead to his demise. and our ally, israel, can defend itself with overwhelming force, as well as the unshakable support of the united states of america. many of you have asked a broader question, "why should we get involved at all in a place that's so complicated and where, as one person wrote to me "those who come after assad may be enemies of human rights." it's true that some of assad's opponents are extremists, but al qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death. the majority of the syrian people and the syrian opposition we work with just want to live in peace, with dignity and freedom. and the day after any military action, we would redouble our efforts to achieve a political
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solution that strengthens those who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism. finally, many of you have asked, "why not leave this to of to other countries or seek solutions short of force?" as several people wrote to me, "we should not be the world's policemen." i agree, and have a deeply held preference for peaceful solution. over the last two years my administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warning and negotiations, but chemical weapons were still used by the assad regime. however, over the last few days, we've seen some encouraging signs, in part because of the credible threat of u.s. military action, as well as constructive talks that i had with president putin, the russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing assad to
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give up his chemical weapons. the assad regime has now admitted that it has these expwps even said they joined the chemical weapons convention, which prohibits their use. it's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed. and any agreement must verify that the assad regime keeps its commitments. but this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because russia is one of assad's strongest allies. i have, therefore, asked the leaders of congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. i'm sending secretary of state john kerr tow meet his russian counter-part on thursday, and i will continue my own discussions with president putin. i've spoken to the leaders of two of our closest alierkz france and the united kingdom, and we will work together in consultation with russia and china to put forward a
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resolution at the ?usmed security council requiring assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control. we'll also give u.n. inspectors the opportunity to report their find business what happened on august 21, and we will continue to rally support from allies from europe to the americas, from asia to the middle east who agree on the need for action. meanwhile, i've ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the prosh assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails. and tonight i give thanks again to our military and their families for their incredible strength and sacrifices. my fellow americans, for nearly seven decades, the united states has been the anchor of global security. this has meant doing more than forging international agreements. it has meant enforcing them. the burdens of leadership are
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often heavy, but the world's a better place because we have borne them. and so to my friends on the right, i ask you to reconcile your commitment to america's military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just. to my friends on the left, i ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people, with those images of children writhing in pain, and going still on a cold hospital floor. for sometimes resolutions and statementes of condemnation are simply not enough. indeed, i'd ask every member of congress and those of you watching at home tonight to view those videos of the attack, and then ask what kind of world will we live in if the united states of america sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas, and we choose to look the other way?
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franklin roosevelt once said our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged. our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in syria. , along with our leadership for the world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used. america's not the world's policeman. terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong but when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and there are make our own children safer over the long run, i believe we should act. that's what makes america different. that's what makes us
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exceptional. with humility but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth. thank you, god bless you, and god bless the united states of america >> woodruff: and that concludes president obama's 15-minute address to the nation. some stations are leaving us now to resume regularly scheduled programming. for the others, the pbs newshour will be back in a moment on-air and streaming online with analysis of the speech and the rest of tonight's program. >> ifill: and with us now for some analysis are shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. is mark, after listening to the president twice talk about how we shipment be look the other way, and multiple times talk about how we can't watch children being gassed tfelt like he was going for the emotionalg.
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>> it did. i was surprised that they didn't tell us where to see the videos, where they recommend the videos. it was a very defensive speech. it was responding to the criticisms and the objections that have been expressed, rather thannicism he a straightforward, "this is what i think we ought to do because of this." and i think in that sense, it was a heavy lift to change public opinion, and this may have made a start, but it certainly didn't turn the tide. >> woodruff: david what did you hear? >> i give it somewhat better review, i thought it was a logical forceful speech. i thought it was aw authoritati, almost legalistic-- as you expect from him. marching through, weapons used, the gas masks were deployed by the syrian regime, we have international norms for a reason. every brick of laid down. the wall was built piece by piece. and i do think the president was
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profoundly personally influenced by those videos. i think that came through in the speech tonight even though he didn't emote it. i think he laid down the case for some action, quite logically and quite thoroughliy. he gets to the point where he's responding to criticism, and there, i think, he wants to reassure there will be no boots on the ground. and that's right. i've heard from around the country a lot of people are under the illusion that is on the table. it is not on the table. the weak point i think is still the goldilocks moment-- we're not going to do too much. we're not going to do too little. and i think you saw him begin to fumble a little, lose a little momentum in that part of the speech. up until that moment-- and especially getting to the dip lo the make demarch at the end, i thought it was quite forceful and authoritative. the important thing for obama was to reestablish credibility. >> ifill: did he, mark, answer some of the questions raised, for instance the slippery slope.
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>> he made clear there wouldn't, any-- i dislike the term-- boots on the ground, there wouldn't be any men or women on the territory engaged in combat, that that was a pledge he made and that it would be limited. part of the problem the president has as he makes the case he talks about-- and i agree with david, there was quite passionate when he spoke about the children, and the terrible things that were done by assad, and his regime-- but then we say what we're going to do is really slap him on the wrist. i mean, we've used this language over and over, that he is a-- you know, hitlerian dimensions. john kerry has said they say munich moment. if it is that, then we simply basically say, you better not do this again, but you can continue in power, and, you know, i think it's a quandary and a dilemma for the administration. >> it is a weird thing that we are going to take military
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action against a pretty evil guy in order to deprive him of one of his many weapons system. we're just really isolating one little weapons system, and maybe there's historical reason for that. >> woodruff: and they'll have a lot left. he did say the united states doesn't do pin pricks. >> yes. >> woodruff: and i guess my question is we know the american people believe that the syrian government has use chemical weapons. that wasn't wasn't in doubt. the question is why should the united states act on it? did he make that case? >> i think he did. i think the last few days have sort of made that case. why is syria willing to go along with this? why is russia willing to go along with it th? when the president says it's because we were there willing to make the threats i think that has credibility. i do not think the syrians would be engaged in this sort of action if they weren't genuinely afraid. >> the other goldilocks piece, military or diplomatic. >> th we would redouble our
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diplomatic efforts, the president pledged. i i think that's awfully important to people that there be some sense that this is beyond just sort of a moral scratching of our mosquito bites. aren't we good we. we didn't let this go unpassed, uncommented upon. we did do something, even what we did actually left him in power and the people at his-- under his boot suffering just as much. >> i was listening quite closely to the emotional gestalt around the russian proposal, how embracing was he, how skeptical? he was probably a little more skeptical than i anticipated? >> i agree. >> i thought so. >> ifill: he started by saying something skeptical. >> right. it's all a matter of degree. he could have easily said, "see, it worked. this diplomatic thing looks
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promising." he didn't go there. he said it is there, we will investigate it. >> i thought he would take some credit for that. i think you can make the compelling argument the russians and syrians would not have moved but for the threat of military force. >> woodruff: but i have a question about the timing of this. he's asking the american people to accept the argument, congress to do what he wants, but there's no vote coming up right now. votes have been delayed. is there a mismatch of timing here? >> well, he's good-bye going to have some weeks, and it could be a long time. i mean, the russian thing could drag on for a little while. the congressional thing could drag on. >> ifill: doesn't he want the time? >> he does not want this at the top of his agenda for the next month. >> ifill: there's that. >> and he didn't have the votes. >> ifill: another reason to ask for time. >> if you have the votes, you vote. that's a simple rule of politics. they didn't have the votes. >> ifill: especially if it's something you want to do. >> exactly. and you can't sustain a defeat. there's no symbolic value in losing this kind of legislative
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fight. >> woodruff: all right. >> ifill: well, thank you, mark shields, thank you, david brooks. this has been as always an enlightening conversation. now we're going to return to two interviews recorded earlier this evening before the president's address, first the view of a leading senate republican, maine's susan collins who attended a lunch meeting with the president today and a dinner at vice president joe bind's home as the administration courted her vote. senator councils thank you for joining us. we just heard house speaker john boehner talk about the choice between diplomacy and military action. is that what you see as the choice right now? >> i do. and initially what the administration was presenting was a choice between a military strike that was an act of war and doing nothing. and it troubles me that we were ignoring the possibility of a diplomatic solution. the last couple of days have put a diplomatic solution on the table, and i believe it should
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be aggressively pursued. >> senator, do you think that russia is a worthy ally in that pursuit? >> you know, i understand those who say we can't trust the russians. but the fact is, that it is in the russian's own self-interest to defuse this crises. so i believe that we should allow some time for this to play out, to see if the russians who are, after all, the chief allies for assad can, indeed, cause him to turn over his stockpile of chemical weapons to the united nations or some other international organization. without russian weapons, money and support, assad would be gone. so it is the russians that have the ability to influence the
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syrian regime in a way that really no other country does except for arena and written is a very unlikely partner. >> the outstanding questions i have heard today senator is whether the united nations is the correct venue for this and whether it's even ep forcible if you can find all of the chemical weapons, move them somewhere they could be monitored and control and even if it could happen. >> i'm not saying this would be easy but certainly it is preferable to launching a military strike on a country that has not attacked us. certainly, it is preferable for us to try to get the chemical stockpiles, which may be the largest in the world, out of syria so that it can no longer be used to harm and kill innocent civilians.
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and i would say that it has been done before. libya did give up some of its nuclear capability. so we have precedent for the united nations being able to take control of stockpiles of dangerous weapons. >> senator collins, you have gotten the president's best argument on this idea of a military strike, both in lunch, dinner with the vice president and lunch on capitol hill today. what is your biggest objection to the idea of a military strike, if you had decided you are objecting, that is? >> my biggest concern is that we will be dragged into yet another war in the middle east and become entangled in a protracted, dangerous, and ugly civil war, where it's very difficult to sort out who are the good guys, particularly at this point, when we have the terrorist group hezbollah
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helping the assad regime and the two groups that are affiliated with al qaeda. i don't think that this would end with one military strike. and i'm very wary of the united states being dragged in to a protracted civil war in syria. >> do you know, having heard the president's case for war and the president's case for diplomacy that he had this in his hip pocket for a while, that he all along had been using the military strike option as a way of pressuring congress and pressuring russia? >> i actually don't. because the very first conference call that we had on this issue during labor day weekend, when secretary kerry and national security advisor susan rice was briefing us,
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there was no discussion of anything other than a military strike, and i do not think that the administration was actively pursuing other diplomatic means behind the scenes. now i'm not sure of that but certainly initially, they were not. i think now they genuinely are. and i certainly hope that they will be successful and it will avert any further discussion of a military strike. >> if they genuinely are now do you think it's because of the pressure and the reluctance the american people and senate and house have brought to bare? >> i do. i think the president's plan initially was to launch and strike without even coming to congress for approval. when it was evidenced that that would have created an uproar from the american people and from members of congress, he decided to go to us as he should under the constitution.
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that in turn allowed for more time for these other alternatives to be put forth by the russians. >> you don't think that the president has been talking about this all along, as he said, with vladimir putin, then? >> i don't mean to doubt the president if he says he has had discussions with mr. putin. he may well have had during the recent conference. but certainly the public debate that was being presented to congress and indeed the actual resignation that the president sent to congress simply supported a military strike and it was extremely broad in its escape and there was no language in it about, first, trying to pursue a diplomatic solution.
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>> senator susan collins, republican of maine, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: next, to the nuts and bolts of how to make a diplomatic deal work and put syria's chemical weapons under international control. for that we turn to jeffrey brown. >> brown: it's a stockpile that's believed to be the largest in the world, a prewar map compiled by the monterey institute shows where syria's chemical weapons and production facilities were thought to be, spread through the western half of the country. definitive information on the current situation is much harder to come by. to walk us through we turn to charles duelfer, a top u.n. weapons inspector in iraq during the 1990s, after the u.s. invasion in 2003, he led the c.i.a.'s iraq survey group which continued to look for weapons of mass destruction. he's author of "hide and seek: the search for truth in he's author of "hide and seek: the search for truth in iraq." >> thank you.
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>> first the question, what does it mean to hand over chemical weapons? what happens physically? who does it? >> well, the process would be, presumably, set out by it security council where they put the burden of proof and the burden of doing these things on the syrian government. so they would constitute a group of weapons inspectors but the burden of showing where the weapons were and accounting for them would be on the syrian government. they would show the weapon inspectors where they were, how many they had and the weapons inspectors would have to verify the veracity of that. >> if that's the case and based on experience, what kind of ground rules, because you think about what could go wrong and how to do it right, what kind of ground rules would you like to set? >> we have done this successfully in the case of iraq. in 1999 the weapons inspectors were far more successful than they knew. at that point in time we laid out very strict rules by which the weapons inspectors had
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access to locations, to documents, to people. it was a weapons inspectors that could select the location they would inspect. it was the obligation of the country, in this case damascus to consolidate the weapons at certain known locations and provide an inventory of what they had, and then the weapons inspectors would either destroy them or guard them or account for them or put them under lock and key, perhaps in some kind of a bunker that would have international supervision. >> and how easy would it be for the syrians to either move or hide these things if they wanted to make it difficult? >> well, this is the challenge of being a weapons inspector. the syrians would give them a statement of their inventory. certainly the weapons inspectors would count the agent that they had. but by access to other syrians, people in the military they may be able to interview, they could test the veracity of that and they could go to other countries that may have data. for example, countries which may have sold scud missiles to the syrians and they could provide data on how much they provided to the syrians.
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there's a number of angles the weapons inspectors could pursue. >> can you ever be sure that you've not them all? how would you know? >> well we were never sure in the case of iraq and it turned out we did know a hell of a love more than we thought. but certainly under the current circumstances with syria we can get it down better than it is now and by that whole process syria will lose the advantage of having these chemical weapons. it's a major step now that they even acknowledge they have such stocks. this is a sizable achievement by the russians. in the case of iraq you had a cat & mouse game. is it possible or likely that something like this would happen in syria? >> we will have to see, and the weapons inspectors would have to take that as one of the possibilities and they would have to plan their inspections in certain ways so they can take at from the possibility they're still hiding something. nevertheless you can reduce the uncertainty, reduce the
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uncertainty a fair amount by accounting for emissions, by accounting for the production runs, the production equipment. certainly you can get rid of the bulk of the syrian weapons capability. >> another big difference here clearly would be that, i mean, from iraq to now, this would betating place in the midst of a civil war, there would be fighting all around presumably? >> and establishing the ground rules for the weapons inspectors to go into the country, the burden of security would have to be on the government. but i have to say that presumably, these are the most valuable and secure things in syria that the army and the government would have them in areas they could protect and therefore they should be able to lead the weapons inspectors to those sites or bring the weapons inspectors to the sites so hey could do what a i have to do. >> how long would this take, thinking about the president giving this talk tonight, how long does something like this take to verify and to get the weapons? >> well, the first step is to
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negotiate the terms under which the weapons inspectors are going to operate. and that's probably with the rate of the u.n. doing it, it will be weeks rather than days. >> weeks? >> weeks. >> just to negotiate how this is going to work? >> yeah. what access, who gets to pick the sites and there's a fundamental point does this happen under the threat of a military attack? in other words is it a co- versive element or as russia says, the threat of force has to be taken off the table first? i think that's salable, because even if the threat of force is not explicit, it's implicit up to this point. >> that's the big diplomatic question right now. but once they decide, if we get past the weeks of negotiations you're talking about, how long does it take to actually go in and gain control of the weapons and facilities. >> the bulk of it will happen quickly. there are chemical weapons certificates thought the world. they can be assembled. it will be clear very early on if the syrians will bring them
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to the sites of where these weapons are. it could drag on over time but there will be early indications i think, in the course of a month or two, that we will see if syria is in fact serious. but again that assumes overcoming some diplomatic rules in the u.n. >> a month or two. i'm asking you because we are in sort of day to day mode here thinking about what might happen but to pursue this would be a question of now months. >> for the weapons inspectors to get on the ground and again getting a serious handle on the control of the weapons and what the inventories are, it would take that long. but there would be early indications about whether bashar al-assad is serious about this so the diplomats and the politicians will get appear early indication of just if this is really going to work out. >> charles duelfer thanks again. >> thank you.
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>> ifill: we return to another troubled spot in the middle east: egypt. two months ago, the army deposed the country's islamist president, the muslim brotherhood's mohammed morsi. he was elected after the heady 2011 uprising that overthrew president hosni mubarak. now egypt's secular forces have turned the tables. but does this mean more democracy for egypt, or a return to the past? our chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner reports from cairo. >> the chamber of the upper house of parliament, a committee rewriting egypt's constitution for the second time in as many years, convened at the initial session on sunday. it was an over-50 cloud of statesmen clerics, business leaders and generals and one figure, a young man wearing a t- shirt no one had heard of. he was mahmoud batter, a leader of the rebel movement that led a petition against mohammed morsi and his muslim brotherhood-led
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government, triggering nationwide protest on june 30. two days later on july 3, the army chief appeared on television to say egypt's armed forces had removed the first democratically elected leader in the country's history. one of the fellow co-founders, mack meuld al-faka has no apologies for returning to the mill tore to out oust the president he voted for, who came to believe he was serving the islamist agenda, not egypt. >> actually all of the co- founders votedded for him. >> so you felt betrayed? >> the brotherhood and their ambassador and mohammed morsi betrayed us, betrayed the egyptian people. eeven betrayed his responsibility.
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>> general alsisi gave that responsibility to an interim civilian-led government headed by judge monsieur, opposing a state of emergency, alsisi promised the short-term government would move briskly down a road map to ensure civilian democracy within nine months. >> in many corners of this ancient city capital of the arab's world's most populous country, we found people feel safer. many think the government is only a facade and the real power lies with general al-sisi. but they seem fine with that for now. >> we found public relations manager ayman fahrad sitting in a cafe. who do you think is running the country right now? >> now -- the general rule. >> general alsisi's rule. >> protecting the muslim brotherhood and i would like to salute him.
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>> when i asked who was running the country you said president monsieur but you were laughing. why were you laughing. >> i feel like you know the answer. >> the interim government has one job that can't wait nine months. to start rebuilding an economy battered by the constant strife since the 2011 up rising that toppled long time ruler hosni mubarak. the streets are empty of tourists and foreign investors, the country's most visitd site, the pyramids, now a ghost time. the interim government is surviving on cash infusions from the gulf. yet nor difficult will be rebuilding the trust between two groups of egyptians who united in the revolution of 2011 but couldn't agree on anything after that. in one camp, more secular minded egyptians like this former parliamentarian. in her apartment in the upscale district, she insisted morsi's oust was not a queue but a
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popular impeachment. >> what you saw was a struggle from the soul of egypt, a society divided, one that wanted a real civil society and the other one that wanted a theo trattic society. >> she said general alsisi appeared like a breath of hope. >> he is looked upon as a national savior. >> but across town in suburban new cairo at a protest that was called on short notice, computer science professor mohammed saw no heros. >> democracy doesn't come on tanks. democracy comes through the ballot box. here to protect against the regime and i'm sure you know of the killing and so forth -- >> the killing started even before morsi's removal amidst the bloody climax august 14 when
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the police moved in to disperse two brotherhood sit ins in cairo. hundreds of protesters were killed that day. what may seem surprising is that many self styled liberals tee fend the take over and the crock down that followed. >> object to the democracy egypt itself. >> a leading secular voice in the 2011 revolution said the military intervention and crack down prevented civil war. >> do you consider yourself a liberal? >> in a way, yes. socially liberal. >> so do you think there's anything inconsistent in being a liberal and yet now so many liberals support this -- the interim government in which the most powerful figure is general alsisi. >> egyptians would have guns themselves and there would have been a real massacre. >> there are a few, very few,
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liberal voices who have rayed objections to the military' takeover. >> many people in egypt now believe that the solution is with the military, and this is a problem, at least for me. >> ahmed maher heads the april 6 movement which spearheaded the 2011 uprising. >> the brotherhood breached power by the ballot box. so we could, even if not immediately, we could have removed him that way. we made many mistakes but the return to the military rule again is very harmful. using the military now will mean they could depose any president in the future. >> the oust was referred to as a coup. he has been paying the price, ruled under state investigation, shunned by family and friends, and publicly vilified by egypt's media which has fallen in line behind general alsisi.
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>> the people that are critical or have misgivings regarding the role of the military, they are attacked viciously in the streets and the media. >> who is running the country right now? >> do you want to put me in jail or what? i think that, yes, the military establishment has a large role in government, even when morsi was there. >> do you see it in danger. >> you are accusing me that i'm a traitor and an agent, that i am being paid to prevent chaos in egypt. this indicates that our voice is annoying to them. >> well what is incredibly successful is a smear campaign against the few dissenting voices that criticize the military and the police. >> the country director for human rights watch says voices like mahers can't get on tv any longer in egypt.
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>> that smear campaign has shown the power of the media. this station on tv was one of the voices for independent, you know, hosting independent voices, hosting the activist who first made april 2011 happen. >> i think it shows how it has narrowed, more than narrowed, it has disappeared, the dissent. there were a lot of options in 2011 and 2012 and all of that is being rolled back now because there's only a security response not a political response. >> we took the tough charge that after the 2011 revolution, it's under mined by the government via habib el-beem. >> i don't think it's possible for anyone to return to the way it was after april 25. nobody can describe the state egypt is in right now as being the perfect state of affairs.
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it's an imperfect situation but it is one for which i progress forward or we can go backwards. >> how confident are you that at the end of this time frame, which comes up in april, that there will be have been a full restoration of democracy and that the military will step back? >> i'm quite confident and quite optimistic about this process being completed by april. but it's something that makes me relax. but we have to learn from the last couple of years and compromise a little bit as long as -- >> ass egyptians watch the proceedings each day they're failing to compromise is becoming vivid and the bloodshed under mubarak the past three years, the military government that followed and the brother hood but a few blocks away university professor mohammed ibrahim, out shopping with her
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young daughter said polarization, not the spirit of compromise affects egypt now. >> there are two groups. if you are not with me you are opposite of me and there's no logic in when we speak with each other. i don't listen to. >> what will it take to change that? >> we will take much more time in order to be like american people, like english people, to be democratic from inside. >> time egypt today may not have. >> we will have more reporting from margaret this week including tomorrow. her interview with egypt's prime minister.
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>> today's news on syria was a tonic for wall street. stocks rallieds -- it-- >> peered diplomacy was overtaking the possibility of military action. the dow jones industrial average gained nearly 128 points to close at 15, 191. the nasdaq rose almost 23 points to close at 3729. this is primary day in new york city, with voters choosing party nominees for mayor and other races. in the mayor's contest, front- runner bill de blasio hopes to get 40% of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff. among the republicans, former transit authority head joe lhota holds a commanding lead. the ultimate winner will succeed mayor michael bloomberg, who's held the office for 12 years. the justice department has released hundreds of classified documents from 2009 that depict misuse of domestic surveillance. they show incidents in which the national security agency went too far, and then misled a
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secret oversight court about its violations. at one point, a federal judge even threatened to halt the collection of phone data. civil liberties groups sued to force release of the material. in india, a court convicted four men today in the fatal gang rape of a young woman last year. the incident triggered worldwide condemnation and reforms in india's sexual violence laws. we have a report from john sparks of independent television news. >> reporter: not long after sunrise, a police van swept past the cameras and into a district court in delhi. inside the vehicle, four men wearing hoods, four men accused of a crime that shocked and deeply shamed the people of india. outside of the gate, an angry crowd formed. >> we want justice. >> reporter: they have come to hear the judge's verdict and deliver an impromptu one of their own.
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"a death sentence for everyone convicted of rape," said this woman. five men and one juvenile were charged with torturing, raping, and murdering a 23-year-old physiotherapy student last november. police say the gang attacked the woman and a male friend after they boarded this bus. the men beat them with an iron bar, gang raped the woman, and threw them off the moving vehicle. the 23-year-old died two weeks later. word of the attack quickly spread, and young middle-class protectors took to the streets-- violence against women in india no longer something they were prepared to ignore. politicians scrambled to respond, increasing penalties and stepping up fast-track courts for rape. the murder of the 23-year-old student was the first case to be heard. a lawyer brought news of the
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verdict. "all four were found guilty on all charges, and tomorrow a sentencing hearing will begin," he said. >> reporter: the juvenile was barely given a year sentence. another gang member took his own life in jail. >> ifill: the four convicted men now face the possibility of death by hanging, the maximum penalty for their crimes. crews working to control a wildfire east of san francisco made significant progress overnight. the blaze that's scorching mount diablo state park is now at least 45% contained. it started on sunday and has since blackened five square miles of woodlands. 75 homes are still threatened. americans are facing a growing crisis in cancer care. that warning, issued today by the institute of medicine, found demand is growing just as the work force of cancer specialists is shrinking. at the same time, costs continue to rise. the report called for patients to get more involved in picking their care and their caregivers.
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an apparent outbreak of food poisoning-- possibly linked to chobani greek yogurt-- has spread to nearly 90 people, that according to the u.s. food and drug administration. chobani had already announced a voluntary recall of 35 varieties of its yogurt that may have been contaminated by mold. the f.d.a. is now working with the company to speed up that process. congress today awarded its highest civilian honor to four young, black girls killed in a church bombing in alabama, three weeks after the march on washington, 50 years ago. in a ceremony at the capitol, the congressional gold medal was given posthumously to addie mae collins, carole robertson, cynthia wesley and denise mcnair. their deaths helped spur the passage of the civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act a year later. alabama congresswoman terri sewell paid tribute. >> the names of the four little girls will never appear on the wall here in congress.
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but their legacy truly paved the way for me and so many others to serve here in congress. i know that the journey that i now take, as alabama's first black congresswoman, would not be possible had it not been for the journey of addie, carole, denise, and cynthia. >> ifill: past recipients of the medal include other civil rights figures, as well as the wright brothers, mother teresa, and bob hope. >> woodruff: and online, you may have noticed a different look to our rundown. we've launched a new initiative to track the most important stories of the day, as they evolve. you can find this new blog on our home page. all that and more is on our web site, >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, hari sreenivasan reports on the mayoral contest in new york city, and the legacy
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left by michael bloomberg's 12- year tenure. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. on behalf of all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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