tv PBS News Hour PBS May 5, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. u.s. officials called for tighter checks of airline no-fly lists after the failed attack in new york city. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, investigators looked at claims the suspect was tied to the pakistani taliban. we get the latest from declan walsh of "the guardian" newspaper in karachi, and talk to deputy national security advisor dennis mcdonough. >> woodruff: then, tom bearden reports from the u.s. gulf coast
on the struggle to contain the massive oil spill by putting a huge dome over the largest leak. next through a funnel and channel the flow of oil from the sea ban up to the surface. >> brown: plus, we examine the potential damage to marine wildlife. >> woodruff: margaret warner gets an update from athens on today's deadly riots sparked by greece's debt crisis. >> brown: and simon marks previews the photo-finish in tomorrow's general election in britain. >> i really, really hope so. and i think the thing is lots of people do. i think we really, really need a change. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
away from the scene of the attempted attack. and federal authorities pursued answers in the investigation, even as questions abounded about the pursuit and capture of the alleged bomber. one key question being asked today-- how did faisal shahzad come so close to leaving the country monday night? by then, authorities had connected the pakistani-american to the crude car bomb that failed to explode in times square in new york city on saturday, and they'd tracked down his address in bridgeport, connecticut. evan perez is covering the story for "the wall street journal. he says shahzad was able to slip away despite heavy surveillance. >> he had a black isuzu that he drove to the airport, and it's unclear whether he left out a back entrance, whether he had the car parked down the street, whether maybe they just missed it while they were watching the front door. it's clear that they were sitting there and up to about an hour before he was arrested, they still thought he was inside the house. >> brown: new york city police
commissioner ray kelly acknowledged that agents lost track of shahzad, but he played down its significance. >> i think, you know, he was lost for a period of time. that's not unusual in investigations. i know everybody thinks it's easy to do, but it's not particularly easy. you can't get too close to the individual, you don't want to tip him off. these are judgment calls that are made. >> brown: with the manhunt on, shahzad was placed on the federal no-fly list. still, he managed to purchase a ticket for cash on a flight from john f. kennedy international airport bound for dubai. he was already on board when u.s. customs officials spotted his name on the passenger list, and then took him off the plane. >> there was no skirmish, there was no incident of that nature. >> brown: in fact, reports today said shahzad told the arresting agents, "i was expecting you. are you nypd or fbi?" as for how he managed to get on the plane, it turned out
that emirates airlines was only required to check the no-fly list every 24 hours. but today, in washington, white house spokesman robert gibbs said that rule has now changed. >> the suspect's name was entered a little after noon, i believe, on monday. therefore, this... though on the no-fly list, the airline didn't have to check necessarily at that point. the new rules require that that happen at a two-hour interval if airlines are notified that somebody's been added as a risk to the no-fly list. >> brown: meanwhile, the case made headlines in shahzad's native pakistan, but army officials there played down a taliban claim of involvement. in new york, federal court documents showed shahzad confessed to attending a terrorist training camp in
pakistan. investigators said they're still trying to verify that claim, and a relative in pakistan insisted it's not credible. >> ( translated ): no, no, no, faisal shahzad does not have any link with taliban group. we did not see any kind of suspicious activities. >> brown: back in washington today, new york police commissioner kelly told a senate panel that shahzad's alleged plot came together two months ago, after he returned from pakistan. >> we know that he purchased a weapon in march in connecticut, and he had it with him in the car that he drove to jfk airport on monday night. so, it appears from some of his other activities that march is when he decided to put this plan in motion. >> brown: at that same hearing, senator lindsey graham and some other republicans said another issue is whether to read terror
suspects their rights, the so- called "miranda" warning. >> what i want to know more about this guy is not how he committed the crime, but what led him to commit the crime and who he worked with. and miranda warnings are counterproductive, in my view. >> brown: federal officials had also faced some criticism for reading miranda rights to the suspect in the plot to blow up an airliner over detroit last christmas. in the times square investigation, shahzad was interrogated for a time before being read his miranda rights. federal officials have said he's fully cooperating. now, to the pakistan angle on this story. earlier today, i talked with declan walsh, a correspondent for the british newspaper "the guardian." he's in karachi. >> thanks for joining us. it has become clear in the last day that faisal
shahzad comes from a well-off background in pakistan. tell us what is known about him and his family. >>ñr indeed, that's one of the more unusual aspects of this case. faisal shahzad comes from a family ofçó privilege and a family of some prestige here in pakistan. his father was a fighter pilot whoñr rose through the ranks of the air force to become serving three-starçó0@6cs the commander ofçóñi the frontier corps, which is the force that fightsñi the taliban in the tribal areas along the border. this is a very unusual set of circumstances for a young man from this type of background to be involved in terrorist activity, either here in pakistan and certainly in the u.s. >> well, several people there have been arrested. what can you tell us about them? >> these are all people who are in various ways connected to faisal shahzad. one is reportedly his father-in-law. and others are people with whom he has been in e-mail contact before he travelled to pakistan last summer.
and one is a man who was picked up from a mosque ñi related with an extreme group, mohammed aran, and according to report, he travelled with shahzad across the tribal belt last year. we don't have any information about what they're saying simply was they were not picked up, if you like, by the police, but they are in the custody of the intelligence agencies. so thereñi is very little information leakingñr out about their whereabouts or what they're saying. >> do authorities there have any idea how shahzad became radicalized. >> that's the big question hanging over the investigation. >> shahzad apparently received training, and have investigators looked into that. is there any reason to accept or doubt his claim at the moment? >> as we understand it, this is añvery early onçó in his interrogation, after he
was arrested last monday. it has cast new light on claim by the pakistani taliban who are based there that they are somehow involved in manipulating this attempt to attack by faisal shahzad. but we dongtr have any hard information at this stageç to eitherçó corroborate what he is saying or refute it. >> but the pakistani military is disclaiming doubts. what is that based on? >> it is based on history. the pakistani taliban have a historyçó of making false claims inñi relation to attacks on america. just over one year ago, when there was gun attack in up state new york, in albany, taliban claimed they were responsible. but it turned out that attack was carried out about a vietnamese man with no connection to the taliban.
but it has caused the authorities toñr examine the claim with more seriousness this time.awc0@6 mrñ you mentioned bothpakistani. authorities are working on this. how seriously is this being taken over there, and does there seem to be cooperation on the investigation? >> i think this is being taken with great seriousness here in pakistan, if for no other reason that the government realizes what problems the country's image this association is going to create. and both from the president down to the interior minister and the foreign minister, allñi have made very strong and unequivocal statements they're going to cooperate with the u.s. and as we understand it, u.s. and pakistani investigators are jointly interrogating some of these people who have been taken into custody already. >> declan walsh in caracas, thank you. >> brown: late this afternoon, i spoke with a top american official-- denis mcdonough, chief of staff of the national security council-- from the white house briefing room.
>> brown: denis mcdonough, welcome. let me start with the pakistan connection. do you now believe that faisal shahzad had ties toçó the pakistani taliban or was it actingñi alone. >> the bottom line is as the attorney-general said yesterday and the intelligence and law enforcement professionals have been working since saturday night, we're going to trace all leads here and make sure we have the firmest understanding of why he did this. where he learned and trained about how to do these kinds of things. and what it tells us about what others might be trying to do. similar to what he has done here. so i'm not willing to lay any conclusions down now. but i am willing to say this: we're going to follow this intelligence where it leads. we're getting good intelligence, and we're going to use that intelligence to keep the american people safe. >> brown: there are numerous questions today about whether the authorities have, essentially for a while lost mr. shahzad. how he was allowed to get on a plane.
now there is changing the no-fly rules here. did the system work? >> here is what i know: we had an individual who 53 hours hence -- prior had tried to kill and maim thousands of americans in times square. as a result of excellent coordinated intelligence and law enforcement work, our f.b.i., nypd, customs and border patrol and others ab hended him on a plane at kennedy airport in new york. we have a system that is built with layers and redundancy. and in this instance, that was very important. you hadñi a foreign carrier that had not updated against the no-fly list. so dedicated professionals, heros, in fact, at customs and border patrol and our watch-list agencies recognized that fact and stopped the plane and got the alleged terrorist.
in this instance, we have a situation where a guy two days earlier tried to kill thousands of americans. as a result now, he is sitting where he belongs. >> brown: but the system did have to be tighten today.ñr the no-fly rules were changed today to deal with that? >> you know what? we're a veryñi nimble operation here. we're operating against a terrorist adversary that has to be right.çó one of any number of times, but we have to be right all of theçó time. we're going to get the best intelligence, and we're going to learn lessons from every one of these operations and going to fe system. today transportation security administration, t.s.a., has tightened up the watch-list system. >> brown: the fact of the matterñr because redundancy is built in the system, and the fact we're not going to rely on airline carriers to ensure people don't get on no-fly lists. we had other individuals identify the problem and stop this alleged terrorist.
so bottom line is that we're going to get better at this each time. we have to. we have to be nimble. we have to be tough on this and we're going to continue to do just that. >> brown: let me go what you're up against. a well-known pakistani comes to this country,ñi gets an education, has a job, and is able to go backñr andçó forth between pakistan and the u.s. how do you guard against that? >> well, we guard against it in the first instance by continuing to do the fine work that several of our intelligence, law enforcement and others did over of the course of the last several days. the other thing is, we want to make sure that we stand forñi what it is that we believe in. you have individuals here, isolated as they are, who somehow believe that they can get notority or fame somehow because of these extremist acts. the fact of the matter is the united states is a symbol of great hope worldwide. you have individuals all the time, from pakistan, from mexico, from countries all around the vçrld, getting great
opportunity and new opportunities here. that's exactly what we're going to highlight. and at the end of the day, hope trumps fear every time. >> brown: but some people have talked about the new face of terrorism. do you have to recalibrate the counterterrorism organizations and more at individuals like this who might have loose links. who might have training. who might have some support, but are not really affiliated with organizations, and thereforeñi slipped unnoticed. >> we are, in fact,ñi recalibrating the system all the time. we have intelligence, law enforcement, military experts, who are drawing on the best information, the best intelligence, the best training. learning from each of these efforts. and getting better, frankly. i think over the course of the last several months, you've seeni something interesting. you've seen the al-qaeda senior leadership in pakistan pinned down quite aggressively as a result of our qor coordination with our pakistani friends. they're startingñi to use yemen, a story you
reported very aggressively on this show -- trying to use yemen extremists there to attack us. we knowçó that the adversary is going to try different effortsñi and different options. the fact of the matter is we're going to remain nimble, and draw on all of the great strengths of this country. consider this in times square, you had venders who recognized theñi situation was not right. you had them working with local cops on the beat. all of these people, incidentally,çó theñi president spoke with over the last couple of days. that's a system that from american citizens on the street, right up to our most sensitive and fis sophisticated intelligence is working hand in glove. i think that is, at any rate, a recipe for great success. >> brown: do citizens, at the same time -- do you tell them we need to be prepared for more attempts like this? there is a lot of talk about car bombs, for example, that have been used in many parts of the world. less so here. is there any chance of more of those now?
>> i think we have to recognize that the extremists will stop atñi nothing to apply their trade.ñi that is why itñi is so impressive what the vendors and local police did in this instance. the united states is a symbol of hope, great opportunity, and there is no reason that any day of the week we have to give into the fear of the terror that these isolated extremists pedal. >> brown: bottom line, this was an inept attempt -- do you take comfort from that fact or is that cold comfort? >>ñi no -- i think it is cold comfort. what i take comfort in in this instance is the great work of our law enforcement and intelligence professionals. from the nation's capitol and all around the world. the fact of the matter is this: we're going to draw additional information from this case, from this individual, and we'll use x make sure we are understanding what the adversary is up to and
stopping them before they can undertake them. >> brown: denis mcdonough, from the national security council. thanks so much. >> >> brown: still to come on the newshour: the race to contain the oil slick; the deadly protests in greece; and the day before the voting in britain. but first, the other news of the day, here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: wall street could not shake its concerns today about the debt hanging over european governments. the dow jones industrial average lost another 60 points, after dropping 225 yesterday. it closed today below 10,867. the nasdaq fell nearly 22 points to close at 2,402. and the price of oil slid back below $80 a barrel in new york trading. volcanic ash returned today to plague air travel in scotland and ireland. it spewed from the same icelandic volcano that closed airports across europe for six days last month. we have a report from damon green of independent television news. >> in iceland, the column of ash flies 18,000 feet into the air.
while the ash is airborne overñi iceland,ñi in scotland, nothing is getting off the >> we wanted to go toçó disneyland with all of the grandchildren, and we hope we can get a flight from there. >> this morning 14 airports and scotland and ireland were forced to close. everyone is hoping that this eruption that covers the volcano won't be on the same scale as last months, and six days of european air travel were lost, costing the airlines over a billion pounds. if the skies close again, they want that money back. >> i think it is high time this government, whoever it is going to be, later on this week gets around the table with the airline and talks about compensation. >> the latest on the map shows the drift of the ash limited by the red line over scotland and northern ireland today, and potentially affecting air space in the west and southwest. tomorrow, as it is. airports in the southeast won't be badly affected,
but that could change. and anyone trying to guess the mood of the volcano is likely to be kept guessing. >> sreenivasan: the volcano's last eruption began in 1821, and it lasted into 1823. the u.s. senate has dropped a $50 billion fund for liquidating big banks from the financial reform bill. the vote today was 93 to 5. it was one of the first of scores of amendments to be considered. republicans argued the fund would lead to more bailouts of wall street. democrats agreed last week to remove the provision from the larger bill. a leading house democrat, david obey of wisconsin, announced today he will not run again. he was first elected in 1969 in a special election, and rose to chair the powerful house appropriations committee. obey faced a tough re-election fight this fall. he said today, "i think, frankly, that my district is ready for someone new." those are some of the day's main stories. i'll be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you'll find tonight on the newshour's web site. but for now, back to judy. >> woodruff: now, the latest on the efforts to contain, and to clean up, the oil spill in the gulf of mexico. newshour correspondent tom
bearden reports again tonight from louisiana. >> reporter: a major attempt at capping the oil gusher on the sea floor was nearly ready this afternoon. a 100-ton concrete-and-steel containment dome will make a 12- hour trip 50 miles off louisiana, where the "deepwater horizon" oil rig exploded and sank. once onsite, the box will be lowered to a depth of 5,000 feet over the largest leak. the operation has never been attempted at such extreme depth. if it works, oil will be siphoned to ships nearly a mile above. >> so if all goes to plan, we should begin to start that operation, the beginning of trying to process the fluids on the surface and stop the spill into the sea, on monday. >> reporter: earlier today, robotic submersibles shut off another leak, but it was not considered a significant source of the flow. conservative estimates are that 210,000 gallons of oil are leaking each day. but b.p. executives, responsible for the spill and cleanup, have told congress that a worst-case
scenario could mean 2.5 million gallons a day could spill if the leaks are not controlled. meantime, on shore, an 8,000-man army is being assembled to contain the spill and clean up whatever makes landfall. louisiana governor bobby jindal. >> today, you see this jack-up barge, this jack-up barge will be leaving today with absorbent booms. you're going to see commercial fishermen, you're going to see louisianians, who know this area better than others, not only devise this plan, but be ready to help implement this plan, and this is what it's all about. >> reporter: many of the men whose seafaring livelihoods are threatened by the oil slick will be put to work. >> we need to come up with a plan to keep the rest of our people employed and keep the marina open. >> reporter: at the delta marina in empire, louisiana, manager louis houvenaeghel said he's planning to house at least 1,000 men in a bid to make up lost revenue from a commercial and recreational fishing ban. >> it's hard to hear myself say it that we're going to benefit from a tragedy.
but what else do you do? the people we saw going fishing this morning, i talk to them on a daily basis, and they need to know what exactly... where does the rest of my life stand? where is my livelihood going to be tomorrow? >> reporter: to the east, in alabama, 750 people jammed a town hall meeting in gulf shores seeking reassurance, and they were told what they wanted to hear. >> the headline was we're not going to close the beaches. ( applause ) >> reporter: local government officials and b.p. representatis fielded questions and comments. tony kennon is the mayor of nearby orange beach, alabama. >> b.p. needs to take action on that side of it. i appreciate their pledges, i appreciate their commitment to make us whole. but like my daddy said, "it ain't what you say, it's what you do." >> reporter: connie bryars works for a vacation rental firm with a lot at stake. her company owns 500 rental properties in the area.
>> what our vacation planners and others in industry are saying: don't cancel, we don't know what's going to happen, and go ahead and call and make your vacation plans. >> reporter: if they come, some of those vacationers might end up at king neptune's restaurant, owned by al sawyer. sawyer says the four months of vacation season are a make-or- break time for a lot of people. he wants b.p. to make sure they pay what they're responsible for. obama administration officials will return to the gulf coast starting tomorrow to check on b.p.'s progress in plugging the leak and ongoing efforts to fend off the oil slick. judy. >> there was talk today that some of this oil may get west of the mississippi river. what more do you know
about that? >> governor jindal said he gotñi projection from the national oceanic association that there was a poss portion of the slick would get past the mouth of the mississippi and move to the west. if that happens, it will force the oil into baratarier bay, which is 70% of the available resources to louisiana fishermen, and that would, of course, cause some serious problems for them as well. >> woodruff: and governor jindal spoke about louisiana and taking some of the cleanup into their own hands. what was he referring to? >> tom: he was standing in front of a jack boat, which is a boat that has pillars, which allows it to put the pillars down into the floor of the sea bed and jacks the boat out of the water. there are going to be 10 of those, they hope, eventually, that will serve as floating platforms to allow the fishermen out there to deploy the absorbent booms, and they suck up
the oil and later remove it and dispose of it. it will prevent from making the two hour trip from where the marshes are and give them a chance to rest and get supplies. >> woodruff: tom bearden reporting from louisiana. thanks very much. used at the bottom of the gulf could be harmful. b.p. officials said today it conducted two tests of the effect of the chemicals and it is assessing the effects. for more now onñr the marilife e turn to sil sylvia earle, she isçó from national geographic. she was ñi formerlyçó chief scientist at the oceanic andçó atmospheric administration and closely studied the gulf of mexico. sylvia, while we wait for the bulk of the oil to come ashore, tell us a little more what is going
on out on the water. on the surface and underneath. first of all, where is this oil going? >> a lot of people focusing on the effects of when the oil does eventually come ashore. the real problem is the ocean itself and the life that is out there. and the disbursement, in a sense, compounds that problem. it may help apparently get rid of the oil, but it really breaks it up into smaller pieces and adds additional toxins to the system. when you look at the water column, it isn't just water. it's filled with life, especially this time of the year, when a lot of the creatures are spawning, such as the little shrimp and other organisms that make the gulf a living system. i've been talking to some of my colleagues at the hart research institute in corpus christi, and they focus on the gulf of mexico. and they're really concerned about not just the spill, but the use of the disbursements. and i think, perhaps most
of all, the complacency that so many people seem to have about what is happening in the ocean itself. the ocean, of course, is where the action is. it is why there is life in the sea. the fact that there is that big body of blue water, the blue heart of the planet is the ocean itself. >> woodruff: give us an understanding of what some of that marine life is under water that is so vital, you were saying to us earlierñr today, for human life, whether you live on the sea shore or anywhere. >> we're allñrçó dependent on the sea. with every breath we take, every drop of water we drink, we're connected to the ocean. it doesn't matter whether you ever see the ocean or not. you're affected by it. you're life depends on it. it is that critical area, from the surface down to about 300 feet, where most of the action takes place, in terms of small organisms in the sea that
take sunlight and generate oxygen, grab carbon dioxide, and produce the begins of the great food chains in the sea. starting withñi the little microscopic organisms that then are consumed by the next level of small things, and so on upñi through the food chain. to creatures as large as dolphins and whales, and, of course, human beings. the problem is that the toxins that are entering the sea, and have been entering the sea from other sources now for decades, go up the food chain, and concentrate the further upñr you go. the olderñi and bigger fish are the ones that are accumulating the most of these toxins. and those are the ones, of course, that we target for eating. >> woodruff:ç@8you saying it ist the oil itself. it is these chemical disbursements that are being used to make the oil -- actually toñr change the shape of the oil, the form of the oil, and to make it safer as it comes on land.
but you're saying thatñi may do more damage to what is under water? >>ñi well, studies have been done on these disbursements. they're like deter jents, if you will, that break down the oils and make them seem to go away. and what actually happens is, of course, they take a different form, and they're still in the ocean. and there are studies that have been done in connection, for example, with the ecçó exxon valdez spill and elsewhere in the world. it doesn't reallyú&blve the problem. it just makes the appearance of a place look oil fromñi goingñr into the beaches. if the beaches are the focus of your concern, that's a good thing. but if you're looking at the state of the ocean and the health of the ocean, it's not a good thing. and we all should be concerned about the health of the ocean because our health, our lives, depend on keeping the ocean in
good shape. now, we have done so many things to the sea in the last 50 years or so. taking large quantities of wildlife out, and putting large quantities of various trash and toxins into the sea. already the ocean is stressed. this is just one more big insult to the injuries already felt. >> woodruff: i want to quote to you something we had an engineer -- a man named kenneth arnold on the program last night, and he worked for a number of oil companies, and he said, yes, this is a terrible accident, but essentially, he said accidents will happen. we learn from them. we move on, and it will be safer -- drilling of all kinds will be safer in the future. >> well, i think that is true. i think the oil industry has learned from past experiences, and a certain kind of complacency i think had begun to set in because drilling, as
such, has become safer over the years. so much so that the big problems that we've experienced in recent times have been from the transport of oil, not from the drilling. there is not -- there isñr no such thing as a no-impact drilling activity, but they've minimized the effects. and really have come to believe -- many of us have -- that the attention should be focused elsewhere. but extreme environments, especially depths of the sort we're talking about here. a mile under water. itñi is really hard, as we now are discovering -- people knew in advance this was a tough environment. if something should go wrong, how do you fix it?çó well, precautions were taken,ñi but not enough. >> woodruff: oceanography sylvia earle, thank you so much for talking to us. >> thank you. ñi
>> brown: now to greece, where protests against an austerity plan turned deadly today. we begin with a report from jonathan rugman of independent television news. breaking through police lines. a general strike turning into an assault on the heart of government itself. protestors threw rocks, water bottles and petrol bombs. police responded with tear gas, which spread across the square. the center of athens, the birthplace of democracy, is in chaos. the day began peacefully as tens of thousands marched to parliament to protect against tax rises, pension cuts, and falling salaries for civil servants. they agreed with the i.m.s. and the rest of the euro zone over the weekend. but within the crowd,
small factions of anarchistsçó and anti-capitolists were out to cause trouble. three people died inside the bank when i was burned to a shell. a woman above the bank was rescued by firemen, who led her from her balcony to safety. greece is used to political violence, but not on this scale. cars and shops were attacked. even a fire engine. inside parliament,ñi greece's prime minister called for unity and said those who had caused death would be caught and punished. >> through translator: we are deeply shocked by the unjust death by three of our citizens in a murderous act. everyone in the country is experiencing difficulty. it is time for a responsibility to defend the social cohesion of this country. >>ñr yetñr many greeks are refusing to swallow their leader's economic medicine.
unnerving global markets, which wonder if it will work. the unions say they will not end their confrontation with the government until theñi government backs down. but the government says it has to implement its austerity measures because that is the only way to get greece out of its financial crisis. >> burn, burn this brothol of a parliament the crowd started. as m.p.s debated the austerity measures inside. >> it was up to debate for the people of the government for the last 20, at least, years. >> beneath clouds of tear gas, police set off in pursuit of demonstrators, and some of those demonstrators fought back. the unions are claiming they will bring people out again on to the streets unless the government changes itsçó mind. >> through translator: we care more about the people than where the country is heading than those in power will do. we will not stop our struggle until we have
overturned those policies which are catastrophic for us. >> the protestors have now retreated from parliament and they've been running street battles with the police. the government says that the greek people will put up with its austerity measures. but what we've seen today might suggest otherwise. this evening, the scene outside parliament returned to its traditional self. but today's explosion of anger could weaken greece's resolve to carry on with the i.m.s. program, and further threaten the stability of the euro. >> woodruff: margaret warner talked a short time ago with john psaropoulos. he is in athens and blogs for thenewathenian.com. he also is npr's freelancer in greece. >> warner: john psaqropoulos, welcome. greece does have a long history or tradition, as we know, of streetñi demonstrations, but i tdon't think it happens very often that someone is killed. what's been the reaction to that? are people shocked?
>> yes, i think people have been quite incredulous. the fact that you had immediate statements from all of the political parties on the day of the event is quite rare and reflects the public outrage. we'll know more tomorrow. but i think what we saw from the communist party was a very defensive ztement, saying this wasan accin to frame us. it is extremely defensive and unkind statement, and i think it reflects the unsees that is being felt at the grassroots level. all three of the victims were young people, in their 30s, and they were simply either bank employees or people doing business in the bank. they were clearly not the target of any of the popular rage against the austerity measures. judging from the reactions of people on the street. the reactions of people on the street at the time of the demonstration -- i was there outside the burning building -- they canñi shocked. >> warner: now there are wire reports that the firemen were claiming they could have gotten to these
three people if itñiñr weren't for the demonstrators. you were there. can you add anything on that? >> well, the fire trucks had trouble coming through because the demonstration was coming through. the demonstration might have been stopped if authorities had been a little more coordinated. but the communist party functioneries were very insistent of moving people past the building. they were saying, there is nothing to see, everyone is okay. the fire is out. there was black smoke billowing out of the second store. it clearly was not out. the fire brigade was having trouble getting throughñi the bank door. they didn't have a crane hoisted bucket to rescue two women who were trapped on a second story balcony. they clearly were having trouble accessing the building. the argument may be true.
if the insistence of the communist party obstructed the bigger vehicles from coming through sooner. they did eventually get through. >> warner: the bulk of the protestors, the middle class civil servants and pensioners, who do they actually blame for the fix greece is in right now? >> i think people are very frustrated and angry, and they don't know where to direct their anger. some is directed at the government clearly for making the i.m.f. deal. some think the i.m.f. deal should be revoked. and the money should be less than 5% from the e.u. and roughly 3% from the i.m.f. others blame the financial markets and the golden boys of investment banks for simply ruining the system, which echoes, i think, feelings in the west more. but at the moment, there isn't a scapegoat. and as one person said to me, people are prepared to make sacrifices, as long as they know that the
people who really cause the problem will pay proportionately to their crime. in other words, if we're going to pay greater taxes, then we want to see some people in court as well. >> warner: so is there a chance that not just these protests, but the anger there is behind them, could either derail this deal or make it almost impossible for the government to live up to the terms of the deal? >> the governmenit is not goinge deterred by protests when it announced this deal on sunday. and tonight when the prime minister made a very poised and solemn speech, a sense of outrage at the deaths at these young people, he gave no hint that there is going to be any change of course. and in truth, there aren't any other alternatives for greece. greece is borrowing at 5% from the european union and less than that. andñr if greece was toing borrowing from the open markets, it would be paying in excess of 10%. last week the greek
10-year bond reached 14%. that is simply unaffordable for greece. the unions say this is useing. they say 5% is too high. why can't they just give us the money. but they're not suggesting any alternatives. they're not suggesting where this other money might come from. neither have the opposition parties. the conservative opposition, which is the main party, the main alternative, said we will not vote for the government's i.m.f. bill in tomorrow's parliamentary vote, but the government has the seats in parliament to pass it on its own, so our vote doesn't matter. neither will we obstruct it. but the left wing doesn't have that sense of responsibility. they don't have any chance of coming to power, so they can simply say what they like. that's what happened today. >> warner: surely more chapters to come. john psaqropoulos, thank you very much. >> thank you for having me.
>> and finally a very close british race on election eve. sisimon marks prepared this report. >> laura edge has a spring in her step this springtime. the 31-year-old lawyer is running for election. :½ daring to dream that the country is on the eve of seismic political >> reporter: and like liberal democrats all over britain, she is daring to dream that the country is on the eve of seismic political change. >> i hope so. i really hope so. and i think the thing is that lots of people do, because i think we really, really need a change. there are actually a lot of people thinking that their vote really can make a difference
this time. >> reporter: it's been a whirlwind month since prime minister gordon brown, flanked by leading members of his governing labour party, announced the country's general election outside his office, number ten downing street. >> the queen has kindly agreed to the dissolution of parliament, and a general election will take place on may 6. >> reporter: the man who inherited tony blair's mantle in 2007 is seeking the people's mandate for another five years in office. when the campaign began, the major threat to that dream came from david cameron, leader of the opposition conservatives, and three months ago, comfortably ahead in most polls. >> do we want five more years of gordon brown? or do we want change with the conservatives, who have got the energy really to keep this country moving? >> reporter: inspired by the republicans' 1994 "contract with america", he signed a "contract" with britain's voters, promising to lead the country out of recession, clean up politics soiled by malfeasance in parliament, and protect public services like britain's government-run health care system. but the traditional two-party battle between labour and the conservatives that has dominated
the political landscape in britain for nearly a century has been rocked by the performance of the liberal democrats, and in particular, the televised performance of their leader, nick clegg. >> tonight, who do you want to be your next prime minister? >> reporter: mr. clegg has been catapulted to prominence by three american-style tv debates, the first in british political history. he's sold himself as the solid, sensible alternative able to deal with the domestic policy issues that have dominated the campaign, and to reform and clean up britain's political system. >> this is your election. this is your country. when you go vote next week, choose the future you really want. if you believe, like i do, that we can do things differently this time, then together we really will change britain. >> reporter: and that has inspired liberal democrats all over the country, like candidate laura edge. the polls have shown that, for the first time in modern memory,
it's a three-horse race in the battle to win the largest number of seats in the country's parliament, and with them, the chance to lead britain's next government. >> especially talking to younger people, i do get the real feeling that they're energized, and the reason that they're registering is that they're intending to vote differently and vote lib-dem. >> reporter: the district that laura edge is battling to represent in parliament is finchley and golders green in the northwest suburbs of london. an affluent area by national standards, its ethnic composition has changed over the last 20 years as new migrants from central and eastern europe have moved in, alongside older jewish and south asian communities. its residents have felt the heat of britain's recession. local businesses have failed, house prices have fallen, and many white-collar local residents either work in the city-- london's financial district-- or work in the real estate business, both hard hit by tough economic times.
>> obviously, the key issue facing david cameron-- if he wins and forms a government-- is that he has to get to grips with the economy. unless we get the economy growing, nothing else can really be sorted out. >> reporter: mike freer is hoping to be part of david cameron's victory. he's the conservative party candidate in finchley and golders green, and wants to be part of the area's rich conservative tradition. pictures of former prime minister margaret thatcher in the local conservative party offices are a reminder that, throughout the 1970s and '80s, this was her seat in parliament. but labour narrowly won here 13 years ago, and mike freer is battling on the doorstep. >> can we count on your support on thursday? my view is that i think we'll win with a majority, not only from what i see here-- a substantial swing to us-- but also, i speak to my colleagues who are fighting seats in the midlands and in north of manchester, and they're finding the same response on the doorsteps. that they are expecting to win
with a comfortable majority. so i think david will pull it off. >> reporter: if that prediction is right, if david cameron does find himself moving into number ten downing street on friday morning, he may have this 65- year-old grandmother to thank. ten days ago, gillian duffy went shopping for a loaf of bread in the northern english town of rochdale. there, she encountered prime minister gordon brown campaigning for votes, and disillusioned with the performance of his governing labour party, she decided to give him a piece of her mind. >> didn't say anything about the immigrants because they say -- all of these eastern europeans -- where are they flocking from? >> a million people, the british people have come into europe. there is a lot of british people staying in europe as well. >> reporter: and that's where things would have ended, had it not been for the microphone gordon brown forgot he was wearing when he got into his official car and departed the scene.
>> reporter: mrs. duffy, despite later receiving a personal visit and apology from gordon brown, says she certainly won't vote for his labour party tomorrow. back in finchley and golders green, the local labour party candidate, alison moore, is trying to make sure that area voters don't follow suit. >> you don't know who you're likely to vote for? >> i've lost all respect for gordon brown altogether. >> i think we'll probably have to agree to differ there. thank you very much, mr. pearson. >> reporter: on the doorstep, she promotes herself as a local candidate steeped in local issues. gordon brown? almost an afterthought. >> middle-aged and older voters remember the recessions of the '80s and the '90s, and they certainly don't want to go back to a time when there were
massive job losses and thousands and thousands of housing repossessions. and gordon brown's been very clear about that, and i have no trouble standing up and talking about that, particularly as a local councilor who sees the value of local services locally. >> reporter: gordon brown has tried to portray himself as the steady hand on the country's economic tiller, the man with a track record that proves he can help the country overcome its estimated $270 billion deficit. but his message-- that he's a man of substance, not style-- hasn't persuaded many of the voters in finchley and golders green. >> he doesn't look really comfortable being prime minister, to be honest, just on a personal level. i don't think he... i don't think he sends out a message that gives me a lot of confidence just in the way he presents himself. and i don't think he's very articulate. >> as a leader, i'm not comfortable with him. i think he's a great guy and he did a good job with the economy. but he's not a leader, and i think the country is tired of him.
and we need someone fresh. >> reporter: there is no guarantee that the country will end up with someone fresh when the votes are counted in the early hours of friday morning. political analysts say the polls indicate virtually any result is possible-- an outright victory by one of the major parties, or a lengthy period of horse trading that leads to an era of coalition government for the first time since 1974. and that's remarkable, given that, just four months ago, one poll showed david cameron's conservative party, also known as the tories, with a 17% lead. >> i spoke to a senior member of david cameron's shadow cabinet yesterday, and he said there was only a slim chance that the tories were going to get an overall majority. i think what the tories realize is that they haven't quite won the hearts of the british people in the same way that tony blair did in 1997, and it's because of that failure to really win them over that it's so unpredictable.
>> reporter: in finchley and golders green, conservative candidate mike freer is favored to win. but like everyone else, he's in for a long night of uncertainty tomorrow as he waits to see just who will govern britain. >> woodruff: again, the other major developments of the day: investigators searched for answers in the times square bombing attempt. on "the newshour", denis mcdonough of the national security council said the administration is working to fine-tune u.s. law enforcement and intelligence. and b.p. prepared to send a giant containment box into the gulf of mexico to contain and siphon off the oil spill. the newshour is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, previews what's there. hari. >> sreenivasan: we have more on the lead up to the british election from globalpost london correspondent michael goldfarb. tom bearden is posting updates from louisiana on the rundown. and find a lesson plan for teachers on the offshore drilling debate. plus, an update from haiti on the mental health challenges after the january earthquake.
all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. judy. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: