tv Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson ABC May 21, 2017 10:00am-10:30am EDT
sharyl: this twisted tale of washington, d.c. lobbying begins in an unlikely place. ♪ sharyl: with a rock band from utah. they hoped to play at president trump's inauguration. but when that gig didn't come through, a political contact they'd met on the road offered what sounded like a decent consolation prize. tim cord: he just said it's going to be an all-expenses paid trip for four days basically to d.c. sharyl: it turned out to be a little more than that. tim: i said, "so, by the way, who's paying for all of this?" and he's like, "dude, it's the kingdom." and i said, "the kingdom of saudi arabia?" and he's like, "yeah, man." joce: these dangerous drugs are mixed in among the millions of packages that arrive on our shores every day. and the narcotic distributors
entry. sen. amy klobuchar: believe it or not, a lot of times, they just use the good, old postal service. these dealers see an opening and they go for it. sharyl: if someone hasn't watched c-span or isn't sure what it's about, what would you tell them it is about? brian lamb: i'd say you have to be interested in how the government spends your money. sharyl: i hear from a lot of people today who are discouraged with traditional news, kind of ironically, decades after it started, for those who want that unfiltered information that's so hard to find on the regular channels. al gore: television will change this institution, mr. speaker, just as it has changed the executive branch. but the good will far outweigh the bad. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪
sharyl: welcome to "full measure." i'm sharyl attkisson. with all the worry about russian influence over u.s. elections, it's easy to overlook the many foreign interests working to impact u.s. policy every day through paid lobbying. american lobbyists have made billions working for foreign entities. who's paying whom for what is subject to federal disclosure laws. but the system may not always work as intended. we investigate a case in point -- some u.s. military vets who claim they were duped into lobbying for the wrong side. this twisted tale of washington, d.c. lobbying begins in an unlikely place. ♪ sharyl: with a rock band from utah. >> ♪ help me, baby girl! sharyl: that's tim cord singing, his brother on lead guitar, both iraq war vets. tim cord: my brother and i,
american hitmen, so we've kind of made a name for ourselves in the music scene as veterans. sharyl: they hoped to play at president trump's inauguration. but when that gig didn't come through, a political contact they'd met on the road offered what sounded like a decent consolation prize. tim cord: he just said it's going to be an all-expenses paid trip for four days basically to d.c. "see how d.c. works" is basically how they worded it. sharyl: it turned out to be a little more than that. shortly before the trip, one organizer sent an email saying that, in washington, d.c., they'd be visiting with other vets who were pushing to change a new law called jasta. jasta is the justice against sponsors of terrorism act. it allows families of 9/11 victims to sue saudi arabia for any alleged ties to the islamic extremist terrorist attacks. saudi arabia is against the law. cords' trip to the capitol began with open bar at a luxurious hotel with some retired generals
seemed to know a lot about the justice against sponsors of terrorism law. folders were handed out claiming the law was disastrous for veterans. then came an odd announcement, cord says, from this man, organizer jason johns, a veterans' advocate. tim cord: jason johns stood up and he said, "thank you all so much for coming. i know there's a lot of rumors going around, but we can assure you there's no saudi money behind this." i don't think any of us, at least at my table, had even thought about the saudis. it was just kind of a weird statement to make opening night. sharyl: things got stranger the next day when they visited senate offices to promote supposed improvements to the justice against sponsors of terrorism law. cord says he began to feel like he was being used to lobby for some hidden interest, and he says his suspicions were confirmed that night by a drunk confession from an organizer. tim rd
this?" and he's like, "dude, it's the kingdom." and i said, "the kingdom of saudi arabia?" and he's like, "yeah, man." we joined the marine corps after 9/11. i mean, 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were saudis, so i don't want anything to do with the saudi arabian kingdom or their money. sharyl: cord shared the news with others in his group that he says didn't know either and confronted the contact who first invited him on the trip. tim cord: he goes, "well, welcome to politics, tim. it's either obama and the iranians or the republicans and the saudis. welcome to washington." i came to the realization that my brother and i were sitting there eating catered dinner on the saudi dime in an attempt to shoot down the 9/11 victims' families' lawsuit against the saudi arabian kingdom. it was probably one of the worst feelings i've had in my life. sharyl: it turns out a lobby firm called qorvis had arranged the washington trip. and qorvis has been on the saudi payroll since two months after the 9/11 attacks with a contract that paid $200,000 a month, $2.4 million a year.
and qorvis isn't the kingdom's only lobbyist. lydia dennett is an investigator with the nonprofit watchdog project on government oversight. lydia dennett: by the end of 2016, the saudi arabian government had 22 different lobbying firms working to promote their interests in the u.s. twelve of which were added in the fall of 2016 alone, right around the time that jasta was -- or the 9/11 bill was introduced. sharyl: what do you sense the saudis were trying to do when it comes to that bill? lydia dennett: they were trying to get their message out there, which was that it was a dangerous bill that would set a dangerous precedent across the world. sharyl: that's exactly the messaging that flooded the media in the u.s. the saudi money helped distribute the kingdom's talking points and place op-eds that argued a law allowing 9/11 families to sue countries like saudi arabia would cause foreign
countries to retaliate and sue our military personnel, which is the argument president obama made last september when he vetoed the bill. president obama: that concern that i have has nothing to do with saudi arabia, per se, or my sympathy for 9/11 families. it has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we're suddenly exposed to liabilities for all the work that we're doing around the world. sharyl: but congress overrode the president's veto. that's when qorvis, as a lobbyist for saudi arabia, hired jason johns to put together the vets' trip to washington. lydia dennett: because it was done through this lobbying firm, the veterans themselves and the public may not have known that these were talking points and issues that were coming from the saudi arabian government, which sort of undermines the entire transparency intent of the foreign agents registration act. sharyl: the foreign agents registration act of 1938 requires lobbyists for foreign
reports. that's how we know that jason johns was hired by qorvis and officially registered to lobby elected officials on behalf of saudi arabia. tim cord: we found out afterward that jason johns was a registered saudi agent and he made $100,000. it's on public record that he was paid a hundred grand by the kingdom and registered as a saudi agent. sharyl: by email, jason johns told us that vets with "ulterior motives" are issuing "mistruths and false allegations." he declined our request for a one-on-one interview and insisted we interview "at least three other" unnamed vets he would arrange in a group setting with him. we explained that under news policies, we can't agree to terms, such as who we must interview. johns added we shouldn't focus on "a few veterans feeling they were 'duped,' but why hundreds volunteer to go to d.c. and speak about why amending jasta is so vital to them, our currently serving military, and our national security."
qorvis declined our interview requests, but has previously denied deceiving veterans, said it reports disclosures accurately and it's "hard to believe anyone would feel they didn't know why they were in washington." saudi arabia might say , everything we did was perfectly legal. u.s. law allows them to hire people in this country and lobby for their interests. what did they do wrong? lydia dennett: in any written materials distributed, if there were emails sent to these veterans or their veteran groups, they're required to say very clearly in there, "this is information, we're being paid to distribute this information by the kingdom of saudi arabia and more information is available at the department of justice." if the emails or any documents did not include that statement, then that's a violation of the law. sharyl: in fact, an examination of some emails trip organizers allegedly sent to vets made no mention of saudi
this one billed the d.c. trip as "basically like a 5-star vacation," noting "you don't have to know anything about jasta," the justice against sponsors of terrorism act. lydia dennett: the issues that these foreign countries are lobbying on can be everything from foreign aid to arms deals, appropriated funds which come from taxpayer dollars. so the public deserves to know exactly how the policy is being made. sharyl: tim cord says, in the end, one promise of his trip was fulfilled. he did learn a lot about how washington works. tim cord: it was the worst feeling ever because there's nothing i can do about it. my name will forever be on a ledger, my brother's name will forever be on a ledger, saying that we were wined and dined by the saudis. and it's not a good feeling. it sucks. sharyl: the 9/11 families suing saudi arabia have asked the attorney general to investigate potential criminal breaking of lobbying laws.
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joce sterman, from our digital partner circa, has our report. joce: across the country, the war on drugs is getting tough talk. sheriff peyton grinnell: to the dealers, i say, enjoy looking over your shoulder, constantly wondering, if today is the day we come for you. joce: at all levels, a crackdown to stop, or control, the country's addiction to opioids -- and the suppliers who fuel it. gary tuggle: we still need to be laser-focused on dismantling them or severely disrupting them. joce: gary tuggle has been fighting the drug dealers for more than 20 years. now, he's the special agent in charge of the drug enforcement administration's philadelphia field office. his main focus -- stopping the rising abuse of synthetic opiates, like fentanyl and carfentanil. gary tuggle: this stuff will kill you in micrograms. what would be the equivalent of grains of salt could cause you to die. joce: is this something i can readily find? gary tuggle: aol
we've drummed up an increased focus on going after these groups on the internet that are trafficking in fentanyl. joce: it's an international effort for the dea. these dangerous drugs are manufactured and shipped to the u.s. from overseas from countries like china, india, and mexico. the shipments are mixed in among the millions of packages that arrive on our shores every day and the narcotic distributors have found an easy method of entry. sen. amy klobuchar: believe it or not, a lot of times, they just use the good, old postal service. joce: minnesota democrat senator amy klobuchar says foreign distributors are capitalizing on a loophole that makes it easier for illicit drugs to evade detection when they're sent to the states. sen. klobuchar: these dealers see an opening and they go for it and we are the ones that have to be as sophisticated as they are. that means putting tracking information on the packages. joce: electronic tracking information that details exactly where packages came from, who shipped them, and other specific
required for foreign packages handled by private carriers, like fedex and ups. it's been the law for them since 2002. more than a decade and a half later though, no one's closed the loop on the postal service. so packages shipped in the u.s. mail are harder for u.s. customs and border protection to red flag. what do you think is the true cost of not getting this advance data on these packages? sen. klobuchar: well, the true cost is, first of all, the obvious cost of life. fifty people a day dying from overdoses. the other cost will be the cost of law enforcement having to go after it, their major investigations. why not stop it before it gets on our shores? and you do that by helping customs with tracking. joce: klobuchar is co-sponsor of a bill that would require the same advanced tracking data for all shipments from foreign countries that use our postal system. it has bipartisan support and
and the backing of the president , who highlighted this issue during his campaign. donald trump: we will close the shipping loopholes that china and others are exploiting to send dangerous drugs across our borders in the hands of our own postal service. a trump administration will crack down on this abuse and give law enforcement the tools they need to accomplish this mission. joce: in a statement, the u.s. postal service said it does get data on a substantial number of packages, but that they're committed to increasing the amount. they pointed to new regulations that went into effect this year that enhance their ability, as well as a screening pilot program that's in the works. gov. tom ridge: they've been aware of it, but now they're getting a little pressure to do something about it. joce: former homeland security secretary tom ridge is backing the efforts. he's a paid advocate, but is quick to dismiss critics saying the cause didn't get the attention it needed until he starting working with "americans for securing all packages" and pushing ei
gov. tom ridge: it's a weapon of mass destruction, more and more people getting killed every day. we're not saying to any and all people, this is the answer. we're saying this is a huge, huge loophole. it's a gateway for these illicit drugs and let's narrow that ability to get these drugs into our communities. sharyl: how soon or how long until the usps can shut down this open door? joce: lawmakers tell us they hope to get the stop act passed before the end of the year. the usps is already piloting some efforts to stop it. and governor ridge told us there are "diplomatic conversations" trying to shut down pipelines in the meantime. sharyl: thank you. very interesting. coming up on "full measure." an inside look at the one tv channel that no one accuses of airing
me to listen carefully. i'm ralph northam,aught and when survivors of the virginia tech shooting asked me to support an assault weapons ban and close the gun show loophole, i took on the fight. i saw what those weapons can do as an army doctor during the gulf war. now, i'm listening carefully to donald trump, and i think he's a narcissistic maniac. whatever you call him, we're not letting him bring his hate into virginia.
public affairs network. you know it as c-span. it's an independent, private company with no interference from government or sponsors because it doesn't run ads or take public money. i recently caught up with its founder, brian lamb, and asked how he dreamed up the novel idea for decades ago. how did the idea for c-span come up? brian lamb: it really originated in my little midwestern head because, as someone who grew up in lafayette, indiana, we didn't have a lot of information then. it just struck me that three commercial television networks on 6th avenue in new york was too much concentration, for a lot of reasons, in one place as to what the public was being able to see, and it really was a factor of technology that allowed us to create something called c-span. al gore: mr. speaker, on this historic day, the house of re
proceedings for the first time to televised coverage. sharyl: were you just trying to figure out whom might like this idea? brian lamb: i approached anybody that would listen to me. got a tremendous number of no's. sharyl: what did you pitch sound like back then? brian lamb: i would say, "this is a new industry that's looking for programming and it's an opportunity to add something unique, not take away anything, and washington is important to the country and the world, why don't we try to figure out a way to add public affairs programming to cable television?" louisville, kentucky. louisville, kentucky, you're on c-span, i believe. it was entirely experimental in the beginning. it's the way i sold it in the first place. i said, "i don't know if this is going to work." we're sitting in a rather makeshift studio here off the ballroom floor of the national press club in washington, d.c. we started to grow and get -- people got more interested in it, and we eventually became three networks.
ted kennedy: everybody up here is a president of some union. except old kennedy! sharyl: if someone hasn't watched c-span or isn't sure what it's about, what would you tell them it is about? brian lamb: i'd say you have to be interested in how the government spends your money. $4 trillion comes into this town every year and most people don't have time to pay attention to it and like things in bursts, but if you want to know the language of government, the process of government, the people that you never see on television who are making a lot of decisions that you don't realize are being made in your behalf, you can come to us and see political events as they happen in their entirety. pres. trump: this is a repeal and repllce of obamacare, make no mistake about it. sharyl: i hear from a lot of people today who are discouraged with traditional news, maybe c-span is really coming into its own, kind of ironically, dad
want that unfiltered information that's so hard to find on the regular channels. brian lamb: i'm not sure, because we're not making any attempt to capsulize it, or to make it easy for people that our numbers are going to go up that high. i mean, we don't know what our numbers are anyway. sharyl: why don't you know the numbers? brian lamb: it would change the nature of this place. and our business model did not require numbers and our cable television executives have never asked me how many people watch. if you start looking at this town through numbers, you will not do what we do and we don't need to be another news network, and others don't want to do what we do, because you can't make a lot of money at it. it's just a public service provided by private business. al gore: television will change this institution, mr. speaker, just as it has changed the executive branch. but the good will far outweigh the bad. sharyl: when i watch c-span, i get the feeling that it
to be obsessively nonpartisan. brian lamb: thank you for calling it nonpartisan instead of bipartisan. that drives me crazy because there are a lot of people in this country that don't fit into the republican party and the democratic party, and we've always considered ourselves politically uninvolved. there's never been any, any interference at all whatsoever from the business, and we're going to stick to that, so your take on what we are is accurate. we are not involved, nonpartisan, and want to stay as neutral as humanly possible. sharyl: without advertising or government money, c-span is funded by a six cents per subscriber fee paid by cable and satellite tv. it now has three tv channels available to about 100 million homes. next on "full measure." your comments and a look at next week, when we report
sharyl: in "follow the money," it's proving difficult to "drain the swamp" and get congress to change its spending habits. the latest spending bill buys things the military hasn't asked for, costing taxpayers an additional $5.6 billion. the pentagon wants 63 advanced f-35 fighter jets, but congress is buying them 74. congress is also buying 12 new fa-18 jets even though none were requested by the navy.
comments. last week's story about organizing on the left as part of the trump "resistance" got a lot of reaction. dawn writes, "we are moderate independents and for the first time in our long lives are resisting and protesting." mark says, "the tea party wanted less government, not more. these people want government to run their lives from cradle to grave." next week on "full measure." we let you in on a dirty little secret in washington. some of the most influential positions in congress come with a pricetag. to get a key position on certain congressional committees , lawmakers are expected to raise a certain amount of cash for their respective political parties. that often comes from the very special-interest they are supposed to regulate. the alleged bipartisan buyout of congress. on the next "full measure." until then, thanks for watching. i'm sharyl attkisson. see you next time.
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beacon addition of government matters.the only show covering the latest news, trends and topics that matter to the business of government. i am your host francis rose. the trump administration has made its commitment with mentions of all the management documents that has really so far. the message for the agencies and for vendors is shared services is a concept, is here to stay. beth is executive director of uni
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