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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  May 15, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, the "washington post" reports president trump revealed highly classified material to russia's foreign minister and ambassador, during their visit to the oval office. then, a hack felt around the world-- we talk to the president of microsoft about the cyber attack leaving hospitals and businesses in 150 countries facing ransom for their files. and our politics monday duo explore what the fallout from the firing of the f.b.i. director could mean for president trump's agenda going forward. all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
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and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: there's word tonight that president trump may have jeopardized a secret source of intelligence on the islamic state group. "the washington post" reports the president divulged highly sensitive information when he met with the russian foreign minister and ambassador last week. the account says an ally provided the intelligence, but had not given permission to share it with russia. we're joined now by greg jaffe, one of the "post" reporters who
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broke the story. greg jaffe, tell us exactly what happened, as you know it. >> the meeting with the transportation and the russian ambassador was taking place and the president was sharing information with regard to the laptop threat that had been an issue -- a concern -- the threat posed by laptops, the threat pose bid aviation to laptops which had been an issue and he was describing the nature of that threat, was boasting about the great intel he had and, in doing so, may have overstepped the bounds. >> woodruff: so this is information that had come from a u.s. ally, is that correct? >> yeah, that's exactly right, and it's particularly sensitive, and i think the ally which controls the dissemination of the information would be upset to have learned it landed in the russians' hands. >> woodruff: sounds from your reporting, greg, that the white house recognized quickly what happened because you wrote they contacted both the c.i.a. and
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the national security agency afterwards. >> yeah, that's exactly right. and, you know, they controlled dissemination of the transcripts immediately afterwards, and they struck the references to a sort of memo summary that went out in the white house describing the meeting to ensure that the information didn't get out any further than it already had. obviously, the problem is not internal to the u.s. government, the problem is the dissemination to the russians. >> woodruff: what is the damage done here potentially? >> you know, i think there are a couple of concerns. you know, you worry first and foremost about potentially compromising sources and methods that allowed us -- that have allowed us to gather this intelligence over a period of time. my understanding is that this is sort of a stream of intelligence that's been useful over quite a period of time, so i think that's the first and foremost worry. the secondary worry is you compromise a relationship wan important ally. >> woodruff: i'm going to read back to you what you quote in the story and you're quoting
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h.r. mcmaster, the president's national security advisor. he said to you that, at no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were not already disclosed that were not already known publicly. >> yeah, i think that's right. i think the worry is, by sharing this intelligence with the russians, that it potentially compromised the sources and methods. in other words, this was information shared the russians weren't aware of. they didn't know how we had access to it, so i think the worry is their ability is to reverse engineer, to sort of figure out where this information was coming from. >> woodruff: clearly, greg geeing, you're not going to tell us your source on this story, but is it fair to say the white house did not want this information revealed? >> yeah, i think that's very fair to say that the white house is very concerned i think both about the information shared in the oval office and about the story. >> woodruff: where does this go from here? so the president has shared this in a conversation with the
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russian foreign minister, the russian ambassador to the u.s. what can one expect? has there been an apology made to the ally, the country, the officials from whom the information came? >> you know, i don't know the answer to that. you know, i think this is one of those issues where it's so unprecedented,ip not sure where it goes from here. i have been reporting on national security matters for quite a while and it's hard to recall something like this. >> woodruff: are presidents given some sort of training or guidance on how to talk about intelligence? >> well, you know, they get talking points prior to the meetings, and this is where it's important to have talking points and have a staff prirp the president and the president willing to listen and be prepared and i think that's the concern that this is a president who doesn't have a long history in government, is a president who relies on his gut and likes to wing it in meetings, and i think that's the concern here, you know. you have to be open to being
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staffed, and i think that's potension hi what was worrisome here. >> woodruff: greg jaffe of the "the washington post," one of the reporters on the story that has just broken within the hour. greg, we thank you. >> yeah, thanks for having me. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, president trump says the white house is "moving rapidly" to replace fired f.b.i. director james comey. at least eight candidates were interviewed over the weekend. they included, among others, acting f.b.i. director andrew mccabe, plus republican senator john cornyn and republican congressman mike rogers. meanwhile, the white house press insisted today the president wants a full f.b.i. review of russian meddling in the election, no matter what it concludes. >> the actions that he took he knew could be detrimental to himself, but none of those things mattered, because the president had to do the right thing for the american people because he believes that jim comey was the wrong man for that
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position. >> woodruff: the president himself has called the investigation a charade. spicer also refused, again, to confirm or deny the president taped his conversations with comey, or anyone else. deputy attorney general rod rosenstein will brief the full senate on the firing, this thursday. the united nations is nearly doubling its appeal for humanitarian aid in south sudan, facing a brutal civil war and famine. the director of the world food program warned today the suffering is unimaginable. u.n. agencies said they need at least $1.4 billion to provide assistance to refugees. the united states accused the government of syria today of killing thousands of prisoners, and burning the bodies to hide the evidence. a top state department official said mass executions are taking place about 45 minutes outside damascus, at a large prison. >> the regime is responsible for
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killing as many as 50 detainees per day at saydnaya. credible sources have believed that many of the bodies have been disposed in mass graves. we now believe that the syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the saydnaya prison complex, which could dispose of detainees remains with little evidence. >> woodruff: state department officials also called for russia to use its influence with the damascus regime to stop the atrocities. the u.s. supreme court will not hear an appeal to re-instate north carolina's voter i.d. law. today's announcement leaves a lower court ruling in place. it found the law targeted african-americans with what it called "almost surgical precision." the law imposed stricter i.d. requirements, rolled back early voting and eliminated same-day registration. for the second monday in a row, a federal appeals court has heard arguments on president trump's travel ban.
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this time, a panel of the 9th circuit court of appeals, in seattle, heard a challenge by the state of hawaii. judges pressed a top justice department lawyer on whether the ban on travel from six muslim nations is, indeed, religious discrimination. >> has the president ever disavowed his campaign statements? has he ever stood up and said, i said before i'd wanted all members of the islamic faith from the united states of america-- i was wrong. >> over time, the president clarified that what he was talking about were islamic terrorist groups, and the countries that shelter or sponsor them. and over time, he and his advisers clarified that what he was focused on were groups like isis and al-qaeda. >> woodruff: last week, an appeals court in richmond, virginia heard similar arguments in another suit against the travel ban. the trump cabinet is now complete. robert lighthizer was sworn in today as u.s. trade representative.
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vice president mike pence presided over the ceremony. lighthizer is the last cabinet official to be confirmed. he's expected to play a key role in renegotiating trade deals. and, on wall street, stocks rose, as oil prices surged. the dow jones industrial average gained 85 points to close near 20,982. the nasdaq rose 28 points, and the s&p 500 added 11. still to come on the newshour: the president of microsoft on how a global cyber hack could have been prevented. heightened threats from north korea's latest missile launch. new limits by the trump administration on foreign aid to groups that provide abortion services, and much more. >> woodruff: the worldwide cyber-attack appeared to slow today. since friday, the malware has
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blitzed more than 200,000 victims in more than 150 countries. the worst of it today was in asia. william brangham reports. >> brangham: at a movie theater in seoul, south korea, screens flashed the bad news: now playing, a global cyberattack. in indonesia, the waiting room at a cancer hospital in jakarta was packed with patients, their records also held hostage by this so-called ransomware. >> ( translated ): it's the number of people. there are always so many people, that's why it's taking so long. we're tired, but we need the treatment. >> brangham: in china, state media reported some 4,000 schools were among the hardest hit there, including two prestigious universities. >> ( translated ): if we pay the ransom, then we are risking getting our personal information, including our account information, recorded and stolen. >> brangham: japanese companies hitachi and nissan were affected as well, but japan's chief cabinet secretary said the damage was minimal.
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the virus first struck on friday, primarily at hospitals in britain and companies across europe. this particular kind of ransomware takes advantage of a security flaw in microsoft's windows operating system. it locks users out of their computers until they pay a ransom to get it back. this strain of ransomware was apparently built in part using software created by the national security agency, the n.s.a., which was then stolen by hackers. microsoft patched the flaw in its system in march, but many users either ignored it or refused to pay for it. in an open letter sunday, microsoft president brad smith blamed the n.s.a. and called it "yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem." russian president vladimir putin, who is visiting china, also criticized the u.s., amid reports that his interior ministry has been hit hard. >> ( translated ): the primary source of the virus happens to be the intelligence services of the united states. russia here is absolutely uninvolved. >> brangham: but at the white
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house today, tom bossert, president trump's homeland security adviser, said the n.s.a. had never intended its tool to be used by foreign criminals. >> this was a vulnerability exploit as one part of a much larger tool that was put together by the culpable parties and not by the u.s. government. so this was not a tool developed by the n.s.a. to hold ransom data. >> brangham: meanwhile, there's been political fallout. in britain, where a general election looms, opposition leader jeremy corbyn and prime minister theresa may traded jibes, long distance: >> over the past seven years, our national health service has been driven into crisis after crisis. a and e departments last week, the tory cuts have exposed patient services to cyber-attack. >> cyber security is an issue that we need to address, that's why the government, when we came into government in 2010, put money into cyber security, it's >> brangham: the cyber-attack's effects in the united states have been limited, except for for the pbs newshour, i'm
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william brangham. >> woodruff: let's turn to microsoft now, which has been responding to the attacks and criticizing the n.s.a. for its alleged role in exploiting the vulnerability to begin with. brad smith is the president and chief legal officer of the company. he joins me from redmond, washington. brad smith, welcome back to the "newshour". first off, what is the status of this cyberattack? there were reports today about the new variant surfacing in parts of the world. what do you know about that? >> i think, as the report just showed, things seem to be calming down a bit, but it's too early to declare victory or say that this episode is over. as you mentioned, new variants can be created. that's not uncommon in knees kinds of situations. we'll have to monitor them. more broadly, even as we help customers dealing with this particular attack, this is a wakeup call for all of us, whether we're in the tech sector, customers or in government, we need to do more to address this problem. >> woodruff: and you did say
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in the memo that microsoft issued yesterday, you did say this is a powerful reminder, everybody needs to keep their community center current and patched, but you did go on to point that finger at governments and what you call stockpiling of vulnerabilities. what did you mean by that? >> well, we have been pointing out in recent months that more and more, in multiple countries, certain agencies and some governments are stockpiling vulnerabilities, meaning the flaws they find in software, they're crating their own exploits so that they have them available, and this causes us concern. we believe the world needs some new rules to govern this. we need governments to act with restraint, and we certainly need governments that are creating these kind of cyberweapons to be effective so that they're not stolen or get leaked out. >out. >> woodruff: we want, i want to ask you about that because, at the white house today, the president's homeland security advisor tom bossert, i think you just heard him say this, he said the n.s.a. never intended for
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this tool they created to be used as part of some ransomware attack. >> i think that's got to be the case, and the reality is this was an unusual attack. it involved the combination of a very sophisticated piece of software of the type we sometimes see in governments then combined with a much less sophisticated piece of software, in effect the ransomware component. in all probability, it's some type of organized criminal group that took what came out of the government and put it to use in a way that no one ever intended, but the damage is still done, and we can't assume that this is the last time we'll see this type of problem if we don't find a way to take new steps. >> woodruff: well, brad smith, what do you say about microsoft's role in this? i'm sure you know there are security analysts out there who are saying not only because these flaws existed if something
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that your company created but also that the company apparently hasn't done enough to alert people that these flaws are there, that they need to patch. there are some nonprofit organizations, governments we have been discussing that just haven't gotten around to it, and these analysts are saying microsoft should have done more to alert people. >> the very first thing i said in my statement yesterday was microsoft has the first responsibility to address these issues. i think that's unquestionable. we look at everything that we're doing today. we have 3500 security engineers. we worked over the weekend to provide help to customers around the world. we acted in march to patch software. we acted in march to talk about the importance of this as we do all the time, but this is a wakeup call for us, for customers. none of us should assume that we're doing everything that we
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can possibly do. let's all learn from this together. i would be the first to say that, just as government needs to do more, we need to ask ourselves what more we could do as well. >> woodruff: can you say at this point what more microsoft can do? >> one of the issues that i think we need to think through around the world is how to help customers, especially in sophisticated, diversified, complicated information technology environments to deploy patches more easily. the national health service in the u.k. is a good example. it's a very large institution. now, in some cases, the computers are a good deal older. i think there is certainly an opportunity for us to ask ourselves what new technologies can we deploy, what new processes can we develop to make it easier for customers and then, of course, we do need customers to act. we cannot actually patch their systems unless they deploy our
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technology, and that, too, is a lesson for us all. >> woodruff: i want to go back to what you were saying about the role of governments and the role specifically in this country the n.s.a. your point is they have developed devices to fix these flaws that exist, but they haven't shared them quickly enough. was microsoft notified by n.s.a. that this was coming? >> well, i don't want to go into the specifics of how we learned about this particular problem or by whom or when. it is a public record that we provided a patch in march. there wasn't a public statement about this until april. but what i think is also important is that we need the global community to come together. we called earlier this year for the creation, in effect, of a digital geneva convention, new rules of the road that apply to everybody because this is an issue, in this instance, that may have arisen in the united
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states, but no one should think that this is an issue unique to the united states. this is an issue for many governments around the world. >> woodruff: brad smith, the president of microsoft. we thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: some further reporting now on this, and what consumers need to know. william brangham picks that up. >> brangham: and for that, we turn to eric geller who covers cybersecurity for politico. welcome. >> thank you. >> brangham: you just heard the president of microsoft make his argument that they're not really to blame for this, the slowness or relatively slowness of putting out the patches. what do you make of the point he's making? >> microsoft is in a tricky position because as you heard he didn't want to discuss whether they were informed by the n.s.a. seems likely. the only other possibility is they were told by the group that leaked the files. but either way they're in a tricky situation to rush to fix the problem they didn't know about it. they're wondering whether to
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demand changes in the way the government deals with the policies and what the consequences are for consumers, so they are in a tricky situation. >> they are moving as fast as they can. the more time you have to tell customers, the more customers will fix it. they had only a short period of time. >> brangham: we have been talking about this was somehow a tool created by the n.s.a. that was stole bin hackers and microsoft is arguing that that's really the problem that the government is devising tools to break into our computers. inevitably, those tools will get out and we'll see the ha jock they've seen. what do you make of that argument? >> they make a point that the u.s. government has not done a great job in keeping its secrets secret in the last through years. edward snowden, harold martin, the shadow brokers -- we still don't know who they are -- and wikileaks is posting files. the government is not as good as this as it should be. but the government needs to
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break into russian and i.s.i.s. computers. there are all sorts of valid intelligence targets out there who are using bin dose and need to be surveilled by our government to do its job. microsoft is in a tricky spot because it doesn't want to say the government shouldn't be able to spy on territories terroriste terrorists use microsoft as well. >> woodruff:. >> brangham: if the government detects a hole in the software, do they have an obligation to tell the company? that then gives away the tool that the government has of doing the surveillance our describing. >> the government has a vulnerability eke thety processes and the government revealed it a few years ago when major vulnerability was disclosed in public. they still don't have the fine-tuning details nailed down. california democrat ted lou
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friday said he wanted to reform the process and change the rules for win when the government has to tell a company about. this we're in the early stages of the process, an observe secure issue people aren't familiar with, but is become morgue important to our own lives. >> brangham: back to the attack itself, do you think it's winding down, or will we see mr. variants crop up? >> it's hard to say. anybody can build a new variant, change the code, put it back out there, and the ways of killing it and tamping down on it have to be pursued anew. so it's possible that this never stops. i have a hard time imagining cybercriminals will keep doing this forever. they will find other things they like to do, but there is no technical reason it can't happen forever. >> brangham: we saw this break out first in hospitals in the u.k. is that because the hospitals are particularly vulnerable or because they were targeted specifically? >> it's unclear right now. i think they were probably
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targeted. one conspiracy theory is this wasn't meant to be released when it was, that it was a test and they were trying to figure out what happened and it got out and perhaps the way it was initially configured, it went to the national health service first. either way, i would say probably not accidental. these things have to be coded and targeted at particularly entities. it's hard to imagine the scale we saw at the n.h.s. is random, but i would you say u.s. officials and private cyber security firms have no idea who it is though they are pursuing leads. >> brangham: for our viewers who are worried could this strike me and what can i do to protect myself, can you give us a quick digital computer hygiene lesson? what are things people can do to stop this from happening to them. >> if you're running windows and a lot of people, are make sure you're running windows 10. >> woodruff: when you get the software update notifications, do them. >> do them right away.
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make sure microsoft is finding things that go wrong. you have to install everything that is out there. if you're running windows xp, i hope to god very few are, throw that computer away and get another new one because microsoft won't support the critical patches for these things forever. >> brangham: and don't click on dodgy e-mails. >> absolutely. >> brangham: eric geller, politico, thank you so much. >> woodruff: north korea today hailed its test of a new, intermediate-range missile and claimed it ca now hit u.s. bases in the pacific with a nuclear warhead. state tv broadcast footage of sunday's launch. the missile traveled nearly 500 miles, but analysts said it could have a maximum range of 2,500 miles. so just where is the north in its development of missile technology, and its nuclear program?
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for that we turn to jeffrey lewis, the director of the east asia nonproliferation program at the middlebury institute of international studies, in monterey, california. jeffrey lewis, thank you very much for joining us. this sounds like quite an advance on the part of the north koreans. tell us more about this missile test. what exactly was it yesterday? >> with well, it's a brand-new type of missile. we'd seen a version of this in a parade just a month ago, but what's really striking is it seems to use a new engine that the north koreans designed themselves. in the past they've cop idea engines from other places. this looks like the first engine that's fully north korean, so it's a big step forward for them. >> woodruff: a new engine, does that mean distance, power, what? >> well, what it really means is know-how, so that will translate into distance and power. in the past, the north koreans
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said if we could copy this, can we build it at i.b.m., looks like they have the design expertise to build this kind of missile themselves and i think in the future that should lead us toward an icbm. >> woodruff: so as i said in the introduction, 500 miles but the experts are saying it could potentially be 2500 miles. i mean, what is the potential capacity of this? >> right, well, so what the neons did was shot it almost straight up because they didn't want to fire it at alaska, they didn't want it to overfly japan, and, so, while it only traveled -- i have to do kilometers, while it only traveled 800 kilometers downrange, it went more than 2,000 kilometers up into space which is much higher than the international space station. so if they had straightened it out, it would have been a 45-kilometer range which would be nearly an icbm but not quite. >> woodruff: that means they
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could reach where? >> that missile would just fall short of alaska. >> woodruff: so u.s. land, terrorist, is this -- and your point is this is technology that the north koreans, as far as we know, have only gained recently? >> well, that's right. in the past, they've mostly cop idea other countries' engines, so there's been a problem with quality and a real limit on what they could do with that. this is probably a breakthrough in the sense that now they have that design expertise on their own, they will continually improve and have longer-range missiles. >> woodruff: i was reading this says a lot about their ability potentially to miniaturize a warhead, about the ability of the missile to survive reentry into the earth's atmosphere once it goes up into space and comes back down again. i'm assuming all of that is significant. but they haven't perfected it
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yet. what are the hurdles they still need to overcome? >> well, what they have done are test all the parts and pieces. for example, we've seen this new large engine and the neons test a different engine that would work in an icbm. we've seen them do ground tests of -- it's called a reentry vehicle. it's basically the ability to bring the warhead back into the atmosphere. really, what north korea has to do is put all those things together and test them at once. upstill in the future but not very far in the future. >> woodruff: what do you mean not very far? >> they could test an icbm as soon as this year, though it's possible they will take long, if "they're designing their own engines. they may wait and do it right. this is a one or two or three-year problem, not a five or ten-year problem. >> woodruff: hence getting the attention of u.s. officials and officials in the reason. final question question jeffrey lewis, are the north koreans figuring this out because they
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have a bunch of smart scientists sitting around in are is they stealing this information from somewhere else? do we know how they're doing this? >> well, in the past, they had a lot of help, so we would see the north koreans poking around in russia and ukraine looking for technology. i think the reason this particular engine is important oklike something they designed themselves, so i think they've moved from the point where they are importing things and stealing information to actually designing their own engines, and that's a big step. >> woodruff: it certainly sounds like it. jeffrey lewis with the monterrey institute of international studies. we thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: it's politics monday. what the fallout from firing the f.b.i. director means for the
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president's agenda. but first, as the islamic state group faces serious losses in syria and iraq, some of the group's foreign fighters are fleeing the region and returning to their home-countries. this has had an impact across the region, including in tunisia, a country that has sent more fighters to join the group than any other. jeffrey brown reports on what kind of welcome they'll be receiving. >> brown: a protest earlier this year on the streets of tunis: a sign of democracy in the new tunisia, where past demonstrations would have been brutally suppressed. but also a sign of lingering political crisis. citizens rallied against the return of thousands of fellow tunisians who have fought abroad for the islamic state and other jihadi groups, and now want to return home. >> these people are not tunisian, they are monsters. >> brown: doctor naziha gouider helped organize the protests. she's a neurologist in a well-
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off suburb of tunis and fears the impact the returnees will have. >> they are people who have no nationality. they decided to go to a place to have another nationality because this place is called a state. >> brown: isis. >> yeah. >> brown: but family members of those accused of fighting for isis just want their loved ones home. >> ( translated ): my brother is one of tunisia's young people, who were marginalized, who got lost. >> brown: before dawn on a recent morning, this woman-- we agreed to conceal her identity-- was on her way to a local jail to visit her brother, a young man, she said, who'd mislead his family and left to fight in syria in 2012. >> ( translated ): i took him to the airport myself and that's what hurts me. he contacted me and he told me i'm in syria and i'm ok. you can imagine our situation; we went mad, i was crying while walking in the street like a fool. >> brown: soon enough, she says,
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her brother realized he'd made a terrible mistake. eventually he turned himself into the tunisian embassy in turkey. returned to tunis, he now faces a lengthy prison sentence. >> ( translated ): now, he has the title of terrorist, his life is destroyed. he is not the only one. >> brown: the u.n. estimates that between five to 6,000 tunisians joined isis to fight in syria, iraq, and libya-- more than from any other country. the response to the returning fighters is a complicated one, in a country where there's still a fragile democracy and very real security concerns. protests in 2011 in tunisia peacefully overthrew longtime dictator abidine ben ali. and sparked the wider arab spring uprisings. later, a democratically elected coalition government included tunisian secularists and islamists. this is a country widely seen as the region's success story, but one with enormous
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challenges, including a stagnant economy, and large numbers of homegrown terrorists. in 2015, 20 tourists were killed by islamist gunmen at tunis' bardo museum, a cultural treasure. and a lone gunman killed 38, mostly brits on holiday, at a coastal beach resort. isis claimed responsibility for both attacks. tunisian-born radicals have also carried out attacks abroad, including those in nice and berlin in 2016. authorities here say about 800 tunisian fighters have returned and are now sitting in jails. but hundreds more may have snuck into the country through neighboring libya. >> ( translated ): if you ask any tunisian family, ¡do you know of a tunisian who went to syria or tried to go?' he will say ¡yes, of course i do.' >> brown: mohamed iqbal has spent the last several years tracking those who left, and in 2013 formed an organization to help them return. a young boy.
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>> yes, a young boy, about 16 years old. >> brown: he was 16 when he went to libya? >> yes, 16 to libya and to syria. >> brown: iqball sees a lost generation, many of them poor and vulnerable tunisians succumbing to economic hardship and a sophisticated network of hardline islamists recruiting them for jihad. >> ( translated ): the lion knows how to choose its prey. there are recruitment networks hunting for young people. >> brown: the 2011 revolution unleashed many disparate forces, including an islamist revival. this video from that time shows an imam who would later become minister of religious affairs during friday prayers. >> it is the duty of every muslim to help our brothers in syria." >> brown: many accepted that call, including mohammad iqbal's younger brother, we agreed not use his name or show his face.
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>> ( translated ): i thought by going that i would be helping to send a message to the world, which is "enough killings of the syrian people, the muslim people. we have been told that in syria they will employ us, provide us a house, if you want to get married, you can do it there. >> brown: despite being wheelchair bound, the younger iqbal managed to make it to the syrian border in 2013, before his brother convinced him to come home. he's now in a legal limbo and regularly visited and watched by police. mohammad iqbal acknowledges that there are hardcore terrorists among those who left. he wants distinctions drawn and efforts made to incorporate as many as possible back into society. >> ( translated ): tunisian law can't prevent a citizen from coming back to his home country. in my opinion, these fighters must return to their countries, get arrested, and the state must rehabilitate them. this is better than their remaining free in areas of conflicts, where they will be come back to society and live normally, not just as ex- convicts. they must be producing something to the society, not only consuming.
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>> brown: but to what kind of society? tied up in tunisia's debates: the role of religion in public life. the former dictatorship ruthlessly enforced secularism and closely monitored religious activity. one result: people like imam omar mighri spent years in prison. today, though, he is a moderate and works with the government to oppose radical islamists whose influence grew after the revolution. at his home in a suburb of tunis, imam mighri told us that forgiveness is one part of the equation, along with extensive re-education programs. >> ( translated ): many of them do not have a proper understanding of islam and jihad. they're a danger to society and to our social fabric. >> brown: the government, he says, must do more to reach radicals in prisons and schools. >> ( translated ): we asked the government to give us the opportunity to speak to people who have been jailed and try to change their path. we were refused. >> brown: does the government
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have a plan? yes, says colonel mohktar ben nasr, a retired military officer who now runs a think tank: to jail the worst and monitor others, through tight security and the rule of law. >> ( translated ): isis is a beaten force so they will come back in search of safe places. the real difficulty lies in identifying them, because many don't return through the airports with official documents. >> brown: tunisia is still a young democracy finding its way between the security and these kinds of new freedoms, is it a difficult balance even today? >> ( translated ): yes, absolutely. today the guaranteed thing is that there is real freedom, there is freedom of expression but this freedom has limits and when people overstep those limits, there is chaos. >> brown: after human rights groups issued reports on abuses by tunisian security forces, civil liberties advocates responded with a campaign call"" no to terrorism, yes to human rights", featuring prominent
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tunisian celebrities. six years after its revolution, tunisia faces numerous challenges. it falls to citizens, says dr. naziha gouider to push the country forward. >> tunisia is full of competence, of very competent people and of people who love their country, and people who think that progress, and changing this bad image is absolutely possible. if you try to draw a new dream for tunisians, all the this is the solution. >> brown: a new dream, that is, for a new tunisia. for the pbs newshour, i'm jeffrey brown in tunis. >> woodruff: president trump went well beyond his republican predecessors today, with a major expansion of a policy that restricts how u.s. aid can be
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used for international health and family planning. the rule, known as the mexico city policy, has often blocked international assistance through the u.s. agency for international development to any groups or programs that provide or mention abortions. the president's new order would apply to billions of additional dollars given out by the state and defense departments. william brangham is back with that story. >> brangham: the rule, often referred to as the "gag rule," was first put into place in 1984. republican presidents traditionally re-instate it and thus limit funding to n.g.o.'s that discuss or perform abortion. democrats, including president obama, then repeal it. during his first few days in office, president trump signed an executive order making it clear he would re-instate it. but today, the scope of it became much clearer. in the past, about $600 million in funding was covered by the rule. today's expansion could now
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affect nearly $9 billion. i'm joined now by yeganeh torbati. she covers the state department for reuters. welcome back to the "newshour". >> thank you. >> reporter: very big expansion of this policy today. >> right. this version of the policy, under past republican administrations, like you mentioned, there was some version of this rule, but it applied only to family planning-related funding from u.s. a.d. and the state department. now under this version of the policy it will apply to all global health funding provided by the united states -- under the defense, state departments and usda as well. >> brangham: any u.s. department now falls under this rule? >> right, when it comes to global health assistance dollars, they have to abide by this mexico city policy. >> brangham: specifically, we touched on this a bit, but the rule says, if you're getting
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federal money, you can't perform or mention abortions. is that right? >> right. that's basically the general version of the rule. you can't perform or mention abortions as part of family planning. now, u.s. officials said today while rolling out this policy that they will make exceptions fofor abortions performed basically in the cases of rape or incest or other sort of emergency situations. but, you know, the vast majority of abortions are not for those purposes, they're for sort of family planning purposes, so the funding will be restricted when it comes to groups that provide those sorts of services or mention them or talk about them. >> so, specifically, what types of organizations are going to suddenly see this potential threat to their funding? >> it's a wide array of organizations that provide global health services. previous versions of this rule
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didn't include groups that provided hiv/aids or malaria care, but specifically two major u.s. programs that provide that sort of funding to groups that provide that care which are pet far and the president's malaria initialivity come under those rule. critics and especially democratic opponents in congress, people who oppose this rule, says that's going to affect a wider array of services the u.s. has traditionally funded in some of the most vulnerable countries including parts of africa, southwest asia and the like. >> brangham: i understand the democrats have been highly critical of this and say, just as you say. on the other hand, people who want to restrict abortions see this as a huge victory. i mean, at the seems to be the goal here, right, to restrict abortions that come via u.s. dollars all around the world. >> right. i mean, one thing that's notable, that we should note is that even when the mexico city policy is not in place, meaning under democratic administrations, is usually one
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that's been rescinded. federal law prevents the u.s. funds from being used to fund abortion services. that's a separate, you know, federal legal distinction. this rule applies to u.s. funding for organization that provide abortions or information about abortions, using funds from other non-u.s. sources, so that's one distinction to make and, yes, you're right, groups that support this rule, and we heard from a lot of them today, say that, you know, they're ensuring that u.s. funds aren't sitting groups even that support these sorts of abortion policies that they don't agree with and then, so, they're really lauding president trump's action and the state department's implementation of that rule today. >> brangham: lastly, if an organization currently is being funded by the u.s. and they do mention or perform abortions somehow, can they simply change their mission and still receive money, or are they going to be cut regardless?
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>> no, so the u.s. officials we spoke to and that we heard from say that one thing that this is not a cut in funding. the u.s. is going to continue to provide about $6 billion a year to pet far, for instance, and $620 million for this malaria initiative, so they want to continue the funding and intent to -- intend to, but they are going to ask their partners abroad to agree to a clause that says they will not talk about or provide abortion services. now, if those partners say they can't do it, then the u.s. officials say they will basically find other partners they believe will still be able to provide these services in an effective manner, but it will basically require not a cut in funding but a reallocation of funding, and we'll have to see, you know, is that going to be difficult on the ground, is that going to restrict the number of partners the u.s. can work with and how will that be
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implemented. > >> brangham: yeganeh, thank y >> woodruff: from today's washington post story that president trump may have shared classified information with the russians, to his firing of james comey almost a week ago, we look at what all this means for the future of the trump administration's agenda with our politics monday team: amy walter of the "cook political report" and tamara keith of npr. welcome to both of you. looked today, amy, the white house was trying to project an air of calm, trying to tamp everything down, the aftermath of the hoopla over the firing of the f.b.i. director. but late this afternoon this report coming from "the washington post," now confirmed by the "new york times," by the reuters news service, tam, and we're hearing others, as we sit here, the white house is gathering the national security advisor to talk to the press about it.
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but it just seems as if, amy, this white house is having a hard time keeping news and bad news under control. >> that's right. and for the first time this week, this didn't come from the president himself. web, a lot of the damage that was done over the course of last week and into the weekend were his own tweets. in this case, it's people leaking information about this president's conversation with the russians that have gotten him into hot water, and the administration into hot water, and it goes really to the fundamental question here which is who is driving the train at that white house? there is no focus, there's no strategy, there is, it seems to me we go day to day without a bigger, broader, you know, comprehensive strategy and messaging and discipline, and that was how donald trump ran his campaign, that was how he ran his businesses, running the government like this is proving to be much more difficult.
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>> woodruff: tam, a lot of this seems to have to do with the white house staff and whether they are pleasing the president, whether they are doing the job they're supposed to do. there were reports over the weekend of maybe a shakeup of staff, people were going to be fired, and then, in my interview earlier with greg jaffe of "the washington post," he said typically it's staff who brief the president before they meet with someone like a foreign minister and an ambassador. so the staff is a big part of the focus here. >> but by all accounts, the staff has been briefing the president, and the president plays it by the field. he does what feels right in the moment. he has talked about this that he's flexible, that he improvises, and it's hard to build a communication strategy around improvisation. i mean, what we saw last week with the white house coming out with talking points, the vice president repeating those talking points repeatedly and then the president of the united
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states going on television and directly contradicting the talking points and the vice president. maybe what the vice president said was more true than what all the others were saying, but it creates this cloud that just hangs over the administration, and now you have the national security advisor coming out to brief the press, to push back on this "the washington post" story. well, you know, last week, they came out and they pushed, and the president contradicted it, what's going to happen this week is this. >> woodruff: and we don't know. >> and this is happening as the president is getting ready to go overseas to the first international trip to some of our most important allies, saudi arabia, israel. so this is going to be on the minds of the people he's going to visit when you're talking about potentially sharing classified information with an add veer say, what are our allies going to be thinking about this? >> woodruff: and we're watching as comments from the
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united states senators come in on both sides of the political aisle. we have senator john warner said this is troubling. senator john mccain saying, if it's true, it would be very concerning. republicans, to both of you, they're not embracing, not all of them are embracing the way this white house has handled the f.b.i. story either. >> that's correct. i was talking to a republican senator last week who wanted more details, wanted more information about the timing. you see a lot of republicans in congress saying, i need more information, we need more details. on the comey thing, they are going to get a briefing this week by the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, but many of the reactions to this latest story are, well, we want to know what's really happening, we want to hear from the administration. that is maybe a bit of distancing themselves from the administration, but -- >> woodruff: that's not. not really.
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yeah, we've not seen -- there is no bottom dropping out, you don't see an en masse refusal of republicans to support this administration or to call for the president to do something different. i think a lot of what you're seeing is the fact that the republican base voters still united around this president. the nbc "wall street journal" poll that came out yesterday support approval rating among people who voted for trump 87% among the republicans in general, 82%. the number that should worry republicans, though, especially those who sit in swing states, swing districts is this, 35% of independents give him a positive approval rating. only 35%. that is a danger number. but for most of these republicans, as we know, they sit in republican districts, only 23 house members sit in a district that hillary clinton carried very few senators up in this next election sit in a state hillary clinton carried,
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only one, in fact, does. that's some of their calculation, too. the bottom hasn't dropped outs on trump among his own voters. republicans now sorted of sitting and waiting to see how much longer they can wait before they have to do something. >> woodruff: and meanwhile, tam, there is the agenda the president had been talking about overhauling healthcare, coming up with a healthcare replacement. that is still in motion. tax reform, you go down the list. >> yeah, and things were stalling a little bit, or they were going to take some time, so nobody's talking about them now, nobody's looking at the minutia of republicans senators continuing to meet to talk about healthcare reform or talk about how they'd repeal and replace the affordable care act. but it's happening at a very low center, very much out of view, and it is this remarkable thing, the president is about to leave this country to go overseas to meet with all these allies, and
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i'm going on that trip, it's unclear to me whether i'm going to be reporting on what the president is doing overseas or whether i will be reporting on the continuing kerr if you havele and drama coming out of this white house. >> one more comment. >> woodruff: sure. the one thing i want to say about this agenda is the problem is not simply this is distracting him from pushing the agenda forward. the problem is the agenda itself is not particularly popular. the healthcare bill the house passed, and you look at all the polls released, at best an approval rating somewhere in the 30s. this nbc poll, 48% said they thought it was bad, only 23% said it's as bad as any poll they took when obama care was it's lowest polling. >> woodruff: it keeps coming. amy walter, tamera keith, thank you. tam remarks safe travels. >> thank you. >> woodruff: updating the "the washington post" and other news organizations
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>> woodruff: updating our top story, "the washington post" and others are reporting president trump divulged highly sensitive intelligence about the islamic state group to top russian diplomats, and may have jeopardized the source of the information. but, the deputy national security adviser denies it, and says "this story is false." and, secretary of state rex tillerson says the president never discussed "sources, methods or military operations." still, democratic senator mark warner says it's "a slap in the face to the intelligence community" if it's true. republican senator john mccain calls it "disturbing", but he cautions against jumping to conclusions. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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>> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh
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