tv AB Cs World News With Charles Gibson ABC September 25, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
tonight on "world news," showdown. iran accused of building a secret nuclear facility, trying to deceive the world. what will the consequences be? truth squad on the swine flu vaccine. so many fears, are any of them founded? pay to play. we trail members of congress, still using big bucks from lobbyists for personal pleasures like playing golf. brian ross back on the money trail. and, holocaust survivors find their liberators. all because a history teacher and a student asked the question that opened a door to history. and a student asked the question that opened a door to history. our "persons of the week."
captions paid for by abc, inc. and good evening. president obama, standing with the leaders of brirt tan and france today, accused iran of building a secret nuclear facility in direct violation of international law. iran insisted it has done nothing wrong. but the world is full of questions tonight. how dangerous is this site? how is it detected, and what is next? for some answers, we begin with jake tapper in pittsburgh. jake? >> reporter: good evening, diane. president obama has known about this secret underground nuclear facility since late last year. why did he wait to talk about it? the president said late this afternoon, he wanted intelligence scrubbed in a pain staking fashion. it's very important in these kinds of high stakes situations, he said, to make sure that the intelligence is right. the three world leaders leveled a strong charge.
>> the islamic republic of iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near qom for several years. >> reporter: for months, intelligence agencies from the u.s., britain and france have been collecting evidence of a site they say is underground, in a mountain, on a military base about 100 miles southwest of tehran. it was only in the last week, after iran realized the facility has been discovered, u.s. officials said that the iranians wrote a letter to the iaea disclosing the facilities existence, and claiming that it was being built for innocent purposes. that letter prompted american british and french officials to fly to vienna to make their presentation to the :♪&iaea yesterday, and make their charge public this morning. >> politically, this is so devastating to iran. >> reporter: david albright is a former u.n. weapons inspector. >> here's iran caught red-handed building another significant nuclear facility that can be used to make material for nuclear weapons.
>> reporter: existence of such a facility, and iran's previous nondisclosure of it, would be just the latest examples of iran not come flipping with united nations resolutions. >> confronted by the serial deception of many years, the international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand. >> reporter: the three leaders today demanded that iran comply with inspections, fully disclose their nuclear program at a meeting with the u.s. and other nations next thursday, and fully comply with u.n. resolutions by december, or face further international sanctions. >> iran is on notice. they are going to have to come clean, and they are going to have to make a choice. are they willing to go down the path which i think ultimately will lead to greater prosperity and security for iran, or will they continue down a path that is going to lead to confrontation? >> reporter: the president said today that he was not ruling out a military response, but that he was hopeful about dip phone si, diane. he said this week had seen an
unprecedented show of unity by the u.s. and its allies when it comes to iran with russia and china calling for iran to let inspectors into the facility. >> if the president left the military option on the table today and they have known about this for years, was there any consideration by the u.s. or israel of taking the site out? >> reporter: well, of course, that is subject of debate. it would cause a huge problem in the mideast. but there a couple of reasons that hasn't been done. the goal is not just to close down that one facility, which is not yet operational. it's to convince iran to stop its nuclear weapons ambitions. so, it's a larger goal than just the one plan. and then, in çaddition, the ide that bombing that facility would end nuclear weapon ambitions for iran is not considered realistic. that might make iran want to do it more. if they keep rooting them out and discovering them every time they cheat, then, of course, that might convince iran that continuing this is futile.
diane? >> all right, jake. the president of iran, ahmadinejad, seemed unfazed by the accusations, saying iran had no obligations to talk about the facility and inviting inspectors in, telling a news conference, i don't think mr. obama is a nuclear expert. that brings us to the question, when officials say their intelligence about the site is unambiguous, how do they know that? we asked martha raddatz. >> reporter: u.s. officials tell abc news there are three reasons they concluded the secret site was built to manufacture fuel for nuclear bombs. number one, through satellite imagery, it was clear a facility was being constructed underground and heavily disguised. two, satellites show it was built on a military base, and protected by armed guards 24/7. and three, intelligence that may include spies on the ground shows the facility is designed to hold only about 3,000
centrifuges to enreach uranium, which is not enough to fuel a civilian power plant. that would take more than 50,000 centrifuges. >> it is very strong circumstantial evidence that iran's intentions are to build a weapon. >> reporter: and there is additional evidence the u.s. has been gathering, including the comings and goings of equipment and suspect personnel. >> so, martha, the danger on this facility for us, how much closer did this site, in particular, bring us to an iranian nuclear weapon? >> reporter: well, i don't think anyone knows for sure. it's not operational yet. but the best estimate from experts is that iran is about two to five years away from completing a bomb, if they started today. but also today, secretary of defense robert gates told our george stephanopoulos, he believes they're only one to three years away. a very urgent problem, diane. >> speaking of george stephanopoulos, thanks to you, martha, and george is going to
join us now. he is chief washington correspondent, host of "this week." george, there's talk of sanctions against the prospect of a nuclear weapon in one to three years. we have a list of sanctions, i've been reading them today, over the years. they haven't worked. why not? >> reporter: he said there are two reasons that might work now. political divisions we saw crop up over the summer the turmoil after those elections. secondly, in part because of the turmoil, iran is more economically vulnerable than they ever have been in the past. unemployment is very high, and if we cut -- if we crack downes personally on gasoline, that could have a real bite. >> do they think, though, does the secretary think that the iranians will just go to another mountain and tunnel into another site? >> reporter: that is the big question. i asked secretary gates, if we had any evidence of other secret sites, and that was the only point in the interview where he clammed up. all he would say is, we are watching very closely with a
very tight smile, that made me think he suspects they do. >> all right, george, thank you. and a reminder that george's guests this week on "this week" will be defense secretary robert gates and senator john mccain. the world leaders at the g-20 summit in pittsburgh ended their meetings today, agreeing to form themselves into a worldwide board of directors to oversee global economic policy, vowing to take steps to prevent the types of policies that triggered the global recession. as secretary gates today received the formal request for more troops from stanley mcchrystal, admiral mike mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs, met with mcchrystal in germany for a briefing on the re re request, and five soldiers were killed in afafghanistan. in springfield, illinois, a man was arrested, and a man arrested in dallas, accused of a similar plan to blow up a building, was in court, and a lot of people are asking, are the reports coincidence or
something more? here's pierre thomas. >> reporter: two stings in illinois and texas, nearly identical, both involving suspects eagerly looking to detonate car bombs. in each case, the explosives were fake. the suspects snared by fbi agents and informants, posing at radicals. all of this coming to light on the same day a denver man is indicted for allegedly joining forces with al qaeda to conduct a bombing campaign inside the u.s., likely in new york. are there more terrorists or is the government getting better at finding them? the answer, sources tell us, is yes and yes. u.s. officials are increasingly concerned about radicalized americans receiving terrorist training overseas, and returning home to plot attacks. >> it's something that i know keeps a lot of people awake at night. >> reporter: which is right now the fbi is using informants to infiltrate communities in the u.s., targeting hundreds of
angry young men it suspects of being radicalized in prisons, places of worship and on the internet. >> they have to assume that a person who's talking about committing terrorism is someone who is capable and willing to do so. >> reporter: this is why the fbi put the tools in the hands of suspects in texas and illinois, to see if they would do more than talk. in both cases, officials say, they were stunned by the enthusiasm of the suspects to see their mission through to the very end. but why were the two stings announced so close together? the cases were intentionally set to be closed within a day of each other so neither suspect would hear news of a big arrest and disappear, going deeper underground. pierre thomas, abc news, washington. and still ahead on "world news," the first wave of swine flu vaccine will arrive next week, but so many parents are expressing so much fear. our dr. besser has some answers. and members of congress, maneuvering around the campaign finance laws, finding loopholes
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days before they arrive, so many parents are saying they don't want the vaccine for their children, so many fears. so, we brought in our senior medical editor, dr. richard besser as a kind of truth squad about the rumors out there. first one up, dr. besser, so much concern, a preservative in the vaccine. >> that's right. first thing, there's absolutely no evidence of harm from the preservative in vaccines. some parents are concerned, and the most important thing is that they get their children vaccinated. so, if you are a parent and concerned, ask your doctor for the vaccine without the preservative. that will be available. >> you can have either. you can ask. >> that's right. >> and the supplements you receive for the immune system, a lot of e maims, people saying, you don't have to get the vaccine, you can use probiotics, and they will prevent swine flu. >> this wore rips me. every time we have a new outbreak of infectious diseases, we see the claims out there of products that can protect you, or treat the infections.
if they're not approved for this by the food and drug administration, don't believe it. do the things that we know work. wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home if you're sick, and get the vaccine when it's available. >> and in case people start to hear about this report out of canada about the regular flu vaccine increasing your vulnerability to swine flu? >> there's a rumor of a study in canada says that if you got the seasonal flu vaccine last year, you were at greater risk this fall to get the swine flu. this has been looked at in the united states. i spoke to head of immunization. in the united states with our data, absolutely no risk from the seasonal flu vaccine. bottom line, you should get both the seasonal flu vaccine and when it's available, the hx hx swine flu vaccine. >> we're going to hear a lot more questions undoubtedly and bringing you back in. thank you. security justice ruth bader ginsburg, back at work today after spending last night in a washington hospital.
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tonight,continue t tonight, we continue to keep our eye on the intersection of money and politics. laws are on the books, meant to keep the two apart, strictly prohibiting lobbyists from showering members of congress with gifts and favors, but in politics, where there's a will, there's a loophole, and our chief investigative correspondent brian ross is back on the money trail. >> reporter: for people who love golf, the five-star green briar resort in west virginia is a dream come true. especially if someone else pays for it, which was the case this summer, for two powerful members of congress. house republican leader john boehner and republican senator saxby chambliss of georgia. the two spent a luxurious weekend at the greenbriar, the kind of cozy gathering new ethics reforms laws were supposed to curb. >> you're seeing the quint essential washington insider pay
to play game. >> reporter: all paid for by money boehner and chambliss raised to support other politicians' campaigns. but a loophole in the law allows the money, in what are known as leadership political action commit teems to be spent for any purpose, including golf. in the 2008 cycle, chambliss spent more money on golf outings, $225,000, than he gave to political campaigns, $204,000. senator, brian ross, abc news. the senator did not want to talk to us. in a statement, chambliss says he holds the golf outings only as a way to raise money. but ethics watchdog groups question that. >> i call it a political slush fund. it gives the recipient the chance to life a life style he or she would not be able to afford. >> reporter: in a joint investigation, abc news found members of congress use leadership pacs to pay for ski trips, casinos, disney world and the super bowl.
senate majority leader harry reid used pac money to throw a $39,000 inaugural party. and john edwards used money to paz his mistress $114,000 to produce a series of videos. in fact, more than 400 members of congress now have opened their own leadership pacs, diane. >> any limit on what they can raise? the amount? >> reporter: there's no limit to spend or how they spend it, and no surprise, no talk in congress about changing that. >> good to have brian ross back on that case. and up next, our "persons of the week." you've wanted to quit smoking so many times, but those days came and went, and the cigarettes remained. but today's a new day. and a few simple steps can make a real difference in your next quit... things like starting with a plan to quit smoking...
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and finatonight, and finally tonight, our "persons of the week." it is a story that began almost 65 years ago, in the darkest days of world war ii. yet, this week, a new chapter unfolded, unforgettable reunion of holocaust survivors and the american troops who freed them, and all made possible by a high school history class. >> this is history coming alive. >> we have arrived. >> this is walking, talking, living history. they're shaking hands with the past. >> reporter: it was 2001 when high school history teacher matt rosell decided to begin an oral
history project. he and his students would interview family members in hudson falls, new york, to capture fading stories of world war ii. >> did you mention the train at all? just -- >> no, i didn't tell him about the train. >> reporter: the students unearthed a forgotten crossroads in history. near the very end of world war ii, april 13th, 1945, the american 30th infantry division was pushing its way into central germany. >> we came to a place where there was a long train, a boxcar. >> reporter: they found a train, holding nearly 2500 e has yated jewish prisoners. many, just children. being moved from the bergen-belsen concentration came top although camp, and certain death. their german guards had just abandoned them, fleeing the americans. >> feeling of helplessness. what are we going to do with all
these people? >> we had never, ever seen anything so filthy. >> reporter: the american soldiers fed the prisoners, and brought them to safety. >> for 42 years, i collected anything that i could to try to find any article regarding that train. it just didn't exist. >> reporter: but mr. rosell's class put their interviews with veterans up on a website, along with these photographs, taken by the american soldiers. >> just very courageous people. little girls who with big smiles on their faces. one with their arms out. just aware that the americans are there. >> reporter: out there, on the web, holocaust survivors, all around the world began to notice. >> how many people going to have a picture of their moment of liberation forever? >> reporter: a reunion of survivors and their liberators
took place this week at hudson falls high school. >> you can't feel how they felt, but you feel like you were there. >> reporter: in an age where there are still those who deny the holocaust ever existed, these survivors say they are the living proof. >> it's not for my sake. it's the sake of humanity. that they will remember. >> reporter: and so we choose history teacher matt rosell, his class, the survivors of that train, and those american soldiers who kept them and their story alive. and that is "world news" for this friday. i'm diane sawyer. for charlie gibson and all of us at abc news, we hope you have a for charlie gibson and all of us at abc news, we hope you have a great weekend. captions by vitac