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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  November 18, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm EST

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♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: we begin with continuing coverage of the paris attacks that killed 129 people. france has carried out airstrikes against isis targets in syria for the third consecutive day. security forces revealed there might have been a ninth suspect in the attacks. questions have been raised about the ability of crisis to commit several attacks in the u.s. joining me is john miller, the deputy of counterterrorism of the new york police department, and a former colleague at cbs news. i'm always pleased to have him at any table.
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welcome. let's start with your take on paris, and could it have been here and have its paris or new york different? john: it could have been new york because it could happen anywhere. we are talking about redefining the modern terrorist plot to be low-tech, low-cost. as we see now, extraordinarily high impact. we don't need talented, sophisticated operators to walk into a crowded place with a rifle and start shooting people. on the other hand, the ability to launch that in multiple locations, in a global city like paris, a significant external planning capability. charlie: it also indicates this is a global struggle. john: that is very significant. it redines what isis was two months ago to what isis is today. how does it redefine it?
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isil was running an infantry and taking land in syria, to some extent in iraq. charlie: in order to create a caliphate. john: in order to create the islamic state on actual real estate. take land, hold land, take more land. a put out calls with very slickly produced propaganda. stuff you would stack against madison avenue every day, that had a promise of going from zero to hero, if you were some person whose life did not seem to amount to much. but what you see here is rather than kind farng this out to anybody who is listening, it appears that a group was given an assignment to take down the plane and may have penetrated airport security to compromises. you see a complex attack in lebanon, which is really
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interesting, because who is the victim of terrorism there? it seems to be in honor of hezbollah. now you have one terrorist group attacking another. and then you have the attacks in paris, multiple attackers, multiple locations. that speaks to an organization that went from being a self-propelled propaganda arm globally, to one that can launch complex external operations. charlie: the interesting thing you said in terms of how they carried it out with simple, but it was a complex operation. what do we know about their intentions today? john: i think isis is focused on taking and holding land and creating the caliphate, charlie: the president said that narrative is important for them to create the idea that they are creating this state. as a recruiting tool. john: that's right. the name is important. they could have called a lot of things, but they called it the islamic state. the sophisticated marketing piece, for you to go against isis, you must yet work with the islamic state, which translates to you aret wawith islam.
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i think that was constructed intentionally. when you are actually at law -- at war with a terrorist group. there is some conservation here. but the key is, where are they going with this? they were not concerned with the outside world when they were just taking territory. once the outside world, outraged by beheadings and kidnappings and televised murders, said are going to form a coalition, do a concentrated bombing campaign, isis decided, the outside world needs to get a little dose of fear. that is what they are trying to do here. charlie: how smart are they technologically? we hear about going dark, and apps they now use. explain that to me. john: going dark is the catchall phrase for the fact that the
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aperture on the intelligence community's ability to collect terrorist groups, or for that madeleine -- matter, the ability of law enforcement to collect against criminal groups is slowly closing. in the old days, there was the cell phone that you could wiretap if you had a court order. there was e-mail, that was held on the server by a provider, if you came with a search warrant or subpoena, it had to be turned over. now, they are designing apps, a number of them, that are specifically designed so that you can send messages that are coded and encrypted in a way they cannot reasonably be broken, even by pros. they self-destruct anytime that you send it. when i send it to you, i can
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program it that a minute after you read it, it disappears forever. that means you can show up with your subpoena to the provider and say we need -- we found this cell phone on the dead terrorist and one of the apps is a communication platform, we need to see what went on there. the provider can say, not only i won't turn it over, but they can say that they cannot, because i don't have it and i can't get it. charlie: do you have a position on the idea of encryption and how much encryption, and who should be allowed to have access to the encryption? john: i think that's a question we have to decide as a country, which is, what do we expect in terms of privacy and what do we expect in terms of the government's ability to solve crimes, save lives, prevent terrorist attacks. i don't pretend to know the answer. i do know this. the law is having trouble
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keeping up with the technology. there is a law, it was invented to keep up with cell phones when it started. the idea is, there is a communications device, then the provider has to provide a way they can assist law enforcement with a legal court order to get information. the interesting thing is as technology has gone forward, today the provider of the cell phone says, if you want a where cap or e-mail, give me a subpoena, but the rest of the device is not a phone. it's kind of a computer. these applications are for a computer, it is not covered under the law. the cut -- question for congress -- charlie: and also we don't know how to get access. john: right. apple is in a very interesting place. under ios eight, we have a lock on the phone that the owner controls, and if it is al capone's iphone and you handed to us and we try to crack it open, we say we cannot because we don't have the key. what is interesting is we have a case in brooklyn involving drugs, where it is the old iphone. apple says, we can open it, we just feel like it because it
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might erode the trust of customers. we are going to say no. so that's where we are. you can get into the debate about privacy and terrorism and national security, but when it comes down to, my guys are out on a kidnapping. there is a ransom drop and a child being held. i grab that guy who picks up the ransom, and he does not have the kid, but i get his phone and i fades to the burp -- provider, we need the phone opened. we don't know how. this is an important debate, and it is one that will not be decided by the police or the courts.
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it will have to be decided in congress. charlie: tell me what john miller thinks is the wise choice. john: i think we have to be reasonable people. we have laws, we have search and seizure laws, constitutional protections. if entire criminal networks are going to be thriving on these devices -- i have a tape of a telephone call from the manhattan das office of a prisoner in rikers island saying to his compatriots on the outside, which iphone do you have? you have to get the eight, it is good as gold, the cops cannot crack it. charlie: that's an actual tape? john: yes. on the telephone. to a compatriot on the outside about illegal activity. the bad guys have figured it out. the terrorist have a good it out -- figured it out. the question is, how do we as a people want to resolve this? do want the law to cover it and rely on the courts, and people under oath, or do we just want to say, look, there are some things in terms of personal papers, devices, e-mails, that we just expect nobody ever to be able to open, no matter what.
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charlie: no matter what bothers you. john: no matter what bothers me depending on the scenario. but when you get down to the kidnapped child, child exploitation, the person who is planning and executing gang murders in a housing project, using these things, and you can see them using them, you can watch them communicate and say, we can't get into that even with judicial intervention -- that is a question, that people need to learn enough and now -- about to learn where to go. friendly charlie, the companies are in it for the money. -- frankly, charlie, the companies are in it for the money. the companies who make the applications. charlie: they don't care with
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the consequences are, or who benefits from it. they are in it for the money and don't care. john: they don't care. if i were them i would say, it is not that we don't care. we are in the business of making devices and ensuring privacy, including from hackers. i think if you are looking from the law enforcement and counterterrorism side, you need to say, we need a built-in solution. these companies will look you in the eye and say, you know what they want, the spies, they want a backdoor into the system. not asking for that. i think what everybody from the fbi director, to my boss, is we want a friend or, so that when -- front door, so that when a judge's handed probable cause, we can find the material. the same way we go into the trunk of a drug dealers car. if you have judicial process based on proper legal procedure, they have created an entire
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world of information that cannot be accessed. charlie: a couple of other questions about this. we know that in paris, that these people who do this with charlie hebdo in this case, there were people who had contact and were known by law enforcement. for one reason or the other. some kind of contact. is there a capacity to monitor that sufficient, and can it be sufficient? john: i think our capacity is sufficient to the extent that -- i will take it from there new york optic, which is where i sit. there have been 20 plots against new york since 9/11 that have been prevented or, that were stopped, and a couple were carried out. four of those in the last two years on my watch.
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they were prevented through the intelligence work, some undercover cases involving very dedicated officers. this new wrinkle makes it more challenging. i can tell you this. the last few cases, that unfolded in june, we had information about who is being asked to do what in terms of terrorist attacks in new york. but when it came down to the communications with the players, we know how they were communicating, and what they were communicating on and we could not intercept those. it is a problem. it hampers the ability to stop it. charlie: the other question is, if they are prepared to provide these, these belts also that will distract and destroy them, do we have any reason to believe that as smart as they are about technology -- and the apps we have been talking about, will also not be equally smart about gaining knowledge about making much more powerful bombs?
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john: the. bomb making recipes are on the internet. they are in magazines. charlie: we saw that at the boston marathon. john: the recipe right out of al qaeda's magazine. charlie: as they spread and these people begin to be global, whether they will have access to dirty bombs and things like that that are much more powerful and taking down a city. john: turley, i think they had decoded your question in the opposite direction. -- charlie, i think they have decoded your question in the opposite direction. after 9/11, they challenged themselves. they challenged and sells say, how can you top that? what about the dirty bomb, the nuclear, the radio -- the sophistication of the operation in parish was the lack of
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sophistication. when you use rudimentary things, you can paralyze the city with fear and cause tremendous carnage, and you can have an extraordinary impact with almost minimal preoperational surveillance, and minimal operational cost. 9/11 cost half $1 million and a couple of years of planning. the idea of turning around a mumbai plot or charlie hebdo plot for a short time in little money is something that a labeled has clearly come on in the terrorist world. they are saying, keep it simple, and you will have more success. charlie: your answer seems to be, they are not going to try to build bigger bombs and weapons, they will keep it simple because you can make it happen and you are likely to succeed, and you don't get the same kind of attention, the approximate amount of attention for a smaller act, and against soft targets.
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john: exactly. and it is to create fear. the theater, the plot line was fear. you want that to unfold on a global stage and with some regularity. that is what sows the real fear. it happened again. we are watching the dumbing down of the terrorist operation to something that can be replicated. charlie: they have captured -- can you tell me anything about the ninth suspect? i know you guys are keyed into the paris police and justice department. john: we have two detectives on the ground in paris. we send back up when this started, because of the bombing. i want to be very careful, to let the french authorities run their investigation. the intelligence is important to us, but i don't want to speak for it or from it.
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charlie: can you tell me anything about the phone that they found? john: no. we've gotten a good, steady flow of information, some of it in the form of questions. here's a piece of data, what do you have. we have done our best to fill those in. it's still at an early stage. as time goes on, the volume of information they are collecting is getting greater. charlie: what worries you the most? john: i don't spend time worrying. i don't mean to be glib by saying that. i find that if we take that time and invest it in planning, what is the next tabletop operation going to look like? how do we record of paid that -- replicate that in a field exercise? what are we missing, what did we learn from charlie hebdo and the supermarket? what will we learn here? when the museum in tunisia, was attacked by a group of
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terrorists that we believe were connected to isis, i sent a detective and said, walk through the museum, count the bullet holes, get the videotapes. we took that back here and said, what if this happened in new york? this week, we unleashed a force of 200 specially trained counterterrorism officers as part of a new program. there will be another 200 joining the next month, and another hundred and something after that to build together a force of over 500 dedicated, uniformed, counterterrorism officers who will be equipped with heavy body armor, rifles, the equipment you would need to surge into a multi-location active shooter attack, as we saw in paris. he did not happen this week accidentally because harris happen, we started a year ago when we saw the shift in the paradigm.
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and we thought about how to best meet that. here's the only thing i would add. what makes new york different from all other places? if you take 500 police officers who are trained counterterrorism officers, and add a flying squad, a citywide task force, and the emergency service unit, suddenly you are looking at 1500 officers will be able to meet a terrorist attack, active shooter incident, with the proper protection, proper weapons, proper training, proper tactics, in very large numbers at as many locations as you can think of. faster is the key, charlie. it is about time on target. the difference between three gunmen going into a credit place and having 15 or 20 -- a crowded place and having 15 or 20 minutes to go and kill people,
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versus having five minutes because properly armed and protected police arrive in minutes. they're instructive is to go to engage the target, that will be the critical difference. can it happen here? it can happen anywhere. it should be a much shorter duration. charlie: do you have powers that you need but don't have? john: i would say today and in new york city, the race a chip between the fbi, intelligence -- the relationship between the fbi, the intelligence community, and new york city, is as close as it has ever been. we are coming up on the 35th anniversary of the joint terrorism task force. charlie: finally, you have talked about these kind of events, that you need to wait and find all the facts. but do you have any sense or instant -- instinct that paris changes something? john: i accept the premise that it is too early to come to conclusions, but it's not too early to think about some
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things. it changes our view of isil from a group advertising on the internet to anybody who is willing to pick up the cause, to a group that has been able to field a number of external operations that seem to be exported from isil, and complex. that means that when they have an operation like this, they will probably look to expand that footprint. charlie: good to have you, thank you for coming. i know it is busy. john: good to see you, as always. ♪
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charlie: we continued this evening with coverage of the paris attack. in the last two and a half weeks, isis has shown a disturbing global reach. kremlin officials confirmed isis is responsible for the crash of the russian jetliner in egypt. the russian president vowed to pay back. he said he would ally with france in the fight against isis. the attacks on russia, lebanon, and france have forced president obama to reassess the military strategy. he has remained resolute, saying the current approach is working. he says putting boots on the ground would be a mistake. this has shifted the discourse on u.s. presidential candidates, many of whom are looking to
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underline their orange -- foreign policy on a five. he would me is the editor of the new yorker magazine. they released an anthology book. it has launched a podcast called the new yorker radio hour. i am pleased to have david remnick. what kind of decade was the 50's? [laughter] david: it's funny, we have a frozen notion of what any decade might be. you think flower children of the 60's. it turns out, you discover something about your own magazine. you see what you are good at, and you see what took time to develop. and there are writers here that are just astonishing. charlie: elizabeth bishop, truman capote, dean gordy, and it goes on and on.
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david: not bad. charlie: lillian ross, i won't give away her age, but she is in here with classic profiles of hemingway and john hughes. she just just -- john houston. she just put out a book. a real revolutionary figure for the new yorker, because they were not a lot of women around until the second world war came around. and almost by necessity, forcing the hands of the editors to higher, got for big, women. she was one of the stalwart ones. charlie: one was the first change of editors? david: harold ross was the founding editor, lasting 25 years run 1925 -- from 1925. and then along comes william shaw. and bob gottlieb for five or six, tina for five or six. charlie: for you, is it the perfect base for you to be?
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david: is a thrilling place. i see my job this way. it is not just -- every week, we want to put out a wonderful magazine. every day, we want to have the website be alive to the events. but more and more come to realize because of the revolution we are looking -- living through,, the technological revolution, ultimately, coverage of this or that, but the big overarching job for me, because of the time i'm given, is to get "the new yorker" from here to there with its soul intact. we have a radio television, a program on public radio, everything is a podcast. we have a television program amazon is going to do.
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charlie: what is that? david: it is a magazine show that alex gibney's team is working on. charlie: he writes documentaries. david: most of these are short documentaries. charlie: associated with "the new yorker"? david: absolutely. television, radio, the web, all the technological aspects. but you have to be alive for all of this. the key is, the depth, accuracy, the soul of what you are doing can't be lost. it has to be enhanced, otherwise it is not worth any of it. charlie: that's the main thing. to make sure -- david: it is joyful work. charlie: you have to make sure it is truly "the new yorker" in all of its manifestations.
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david: and it changes every time. when the web began, not everybody was alive to writing that can of work. short work, attached to the moment. and yet this weekend, when paris happened, you had brilliant pieces, by alexandra schwartz, ben taub, all these people, online, bam. we have something in print. the radio, having a conversation with george packer tomorrow that will be broadcast. charlie: you do interviews on radio? david: you bet. charlie: but this must be thrilling to you, because you get a chance to dance and a lot
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of -- david: yes, even though i can't dance. [laughter] charlie: take a look at this. roll tape. [video clip] >> when i look at people like bill, and david remnick, who find time to write, i envy them. i barely have time to read. charlie: nobody does it like david remnick. >> i think i hate him. [laughter] charlie: he does, the amazing thing is because of that, he gets people access. philip roth talks to david, and david does a profile. muhammad ali, a whole range of people. bob dylan. a lot of people that i would covet to have at this table. david: that was awfully nice.
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can we hear more? charlie: how do you do it? david: i love it. other things in life are hard. charlie: writing is easy? david: it's not easy, but it's pleasurable. charlie: you've learned how to do it. david: yes, i derive enormous pleasure. writing is so different from editing. i do relatively little, to be fair. i used to write a hell of a lot. in 17 years being the editor of the magazine, i have written one book in a compressed time, about obama. i'm not sure i could pull that stunt again. i'm not sure i would want to. it is a long book, if i had another year, it would be half as long. charlie: does your magazine still attract the quality of writers, because it is a different magazine? david: i think it's the place to go for a certain writer.
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it is a broad category. "the new yorker" missed out on hemingway and fitzgerald because they could not afford them. they were making their living on short stories more than novels, and there were so many places where you could publish a saturday evening post. they don't exist anymore. "the new yorker" had to invent a way to get fiction in the magazine that they could afford. they discovered new talent. that became part of the soul of "the new yorker". the first really serious fiction editor goes and finds john cheever living in a cold water flat downtown. he spent his entire career writing into "the new yorker". charlie: we will learn about the decade of the 50's because we will see it through writers who wrote in that decade. david: right, this is not a comprehensive decade review of the 50's.
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certain things we are great on, the cold war, the technological pre-revolution. charlie: the coming cultural exclusion of the 60's. david: if you're looking for an elvis presley profile, weirdly, you're not going to get it. which tells me something. it tells me that i need to be alive to trends and popular culture. if i miss it, i will have not, and the new yorker will have not done its job. it doesn't have to be that week, or that album, or kanye west in that year, but if you are going to account for a decade, there are certain things that if you miss in the aggregate, you blew it. charlie: tell me what in the decade that just passed that you take pride in the fact that you discovered, or took note of. david: certainly, the magazine,
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since 2000, has been really good on foreign reporting. we have hired into that, and we are -- investigative reporting has gotten broader. i think we are much more alive in the broadest sense possible, race and gender, both in terms of what those issues mean, and the writers themselves. charlie: think about the themes today. clearly, if you look at this year, race is a dominant theme. especially the relationship between race and the police. and then, there is terrorism. we just saw the latest expression. david: and it's not going to stop, i'm afraid. it's occurred to me, and it must has -- must have occurred to all of us, 9/11 was a freakish event is of the nature of its largeness.
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to hijack airplanes, and fly them into adjacent buildings, and the pentagon, to pull that off from afghanistan the via flight schools, immensely complicated. it had to occurred to all of us, as it clearly must to all the security apparatuses around the world, it's a lot easier to walk into a department store or a movie theater, or a transportation hub. or as in paris, a concert hall. charlie: soft targets. david: soft targets. the point of terrorism is to scare. charlie: draw attention and scare, and hopefully create a retaliation that will generate
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support. david: i was talking over the weekend to someone who studies isis full-time at princeton. he said, this signals -- this comes within a couple of days after one of the main isis figures is taken out by an airstrike. charlie: jihadi john. david: yes. it comes a day after a key road is taken by the kurdish troops with western support. all these developments are happening. it is not lost on isis that raqqa could be taken at any moment if people were only willing to flatten it. and god knows, we are not wanting to do that. charlie: because of collateral damage. david: right. the fact that much more of these operations are going abroad, it
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is not necessarily a sign of strength come up it is terrifying. and the fact that all these people are willing to die is part of the terror. and it makes it so much harder to stop. charlie: seven of the eight were killed, most of them by their own hand. david: and as i came here to meet with you, there were reports there is possibly a ninth at large. we don't know yet. charlie: so what is society to do? which is where the debate is right now. david: of course. taking out outlandish suggestions that we stop all integration of syrians. charlie: or that we close down the mosques. david: just awful. this is the worst kind of demagoguery in the middle of the presidential campaign that we could imagine. let's take the clown car and politics and ugliness out of it.
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what is even more complex is right now, all the parties involved have such conflicting interests. russia's interest in syria is overlapping with the west in the sense of isis, but also wants to keep a foothold in syria as a powerful entity. the saudi's are in an enormous conflict with iran, but they are in the same room. partially thanks to john kerry's efforts. the interest of the turks are radically different than the peshmerga. charlie: and they are all borders with each other. david: it is a titanic diplomatic mess. charlie: and in some ways we are artificially creating states. david: and the level of cliches, not that they are necessarily false, about what is going on -- that we are at the start of a 30 years war within sunni islam,
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which is meant to harken back to the period of the reformation, which is horrible. charlie: and there are accusations of that. erdogan wants to re-create the ottoman empire. david: there is that. there also is the legacy of the iraq war that hangs over the consciousness of americans and president obama, who was elected not to repeat the mistakes and catastrophes by the bush administration. charlie: an interesting question about him that people are raising, has he over learned it? remember the conflict with hillary clinton, she said the first duty is to not do stupid stuff. and then hillary clinton said, it's not a policy. she's right, it is not a policy. david: i wouldn't think barack obama is -- thinking that is the whole of his policy.
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charlie: you are an admirer of his, and i don't -- david: no one can say american policy in syria has been a success. charlie: did he say that? david: it's hard to prove a negative. how can you prove anything in syria? the country is fractured, millions of refugees, isis has large portions of territory. assad is winning. charlie: with the help of the russians. and hezbollah. david: obama's argument, as i understand it, which is the following -- he said yes, sure, we could send in troops and take raqqa. but then what? then you own raqqa, and mosul. then where are we?
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charlie: and the west bank. david: why'd you want that? what are you gaining? charlie: i thought the president expressed his own view, that some irritation that that question was being asked over and over. david: as -- they said that we needed to be more aggressive to obama and panetta. charlie: the president rejected it because he did not believe they were there. david: again, how do you prove a negative retroactively? the people who argue for that say they were, and safe havens would have provided special safety. charlie: the question for me, what are the alternatives?
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i would like for somebody who believes we ought to use -- that isis has to be stopped, and stopped soon, and you have to begin to go in there and find them, and hold them, and then do whatever else, we will find out. i do think we ought to hear what the president has heard, and that should be part of the debate. he says he has listened to military people and they agree. the other military people who don't agree with them, maybe they are not advising him. i agree, totally. we do want to understand the arguments, and what the options are. and ask the question, isn't it president on this issue, because he came for the presidency to take us away, and now it is
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being demanded we go back in. david: it turns out that the most consequential speech in the vast -- last 10 years, or more, is barack obama being invited to a tiny rally in downtown chicago, on the eve of the iraq war. he's a state senator, coming from hyde park, and he gets up and gives a speech about, and not against all wars, just stupid wars. it establishes a position that won him the election. charlie: how do you think it plays out? david: over a longer time -- i can't imagine he was wrong. i wish he were 100% wrong. when i watched the debates, even with the serious candidates which is a smaller tribe then you hope, i don't see anyone with a powerful counterargument. charlie: to do about isis? david: i don't think it is just
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isis. in the absence of some kind of rough stability in that part of the world, meaning a cease-fire, political settlement, and the eventual, hopefully, departure of someone you know too well to interviews which is assad, and the absence of that, you are not going to solve much. i think is going to take a long time. i think it's foolish to think that there was this thing in paris, and now everything is going to be swell for a long time. charlie: there are events that can steer the consciousness, whether this is one i don't know. that can change history. david: 9/11 did. charlie: exactly. political assassinations also. this book is about the 50's, a decade of "the new yorker". if you love good writing, you always go to "the new yorker". thank you. david: thank you. ♪
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charlie: billy eichner is here. he is the creator and star of "billy on the street". tina fey, will ferrell, and michelle obama had all made appearances. it is currently airing on tru tv. they call him a cyclone of
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snarkiness, pop-culture riffs and unbounded energy. here is a look. [video clip] billy: i'm billy eichner. for a dollar, are you excited for the james bond movie? spin in a circle. keep spinning, keeps spinning, keeps spinning. there you go, take it, buy. sir, rob lowe is back. >> who is he? billy: you don't know rob lowe? name three clintons. >> kennedy? billy: get out of here! we are going to play a game i like to call, kate blanchet or curious george? if you need help asking a question, you can ask an uncircumcised man.
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for a dollar, who is this? >> chris pratt. billy: yes, you win! julianne moore, how are you? what on earth are you doing on this show? it is tina fey! ms. emma stone seems down-to-earth. oh my god. [and video clip] charlie: how did this come into being? billy: i am an actor first. i went to northwestern. charlie: stephen colbert, julia louise dreyfus. billy: i was primarily a traditional actor. after i got back to new york, because i grew up there, i started dabbling in improv and comedy. i started to do a live stage show called creation nation,
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which was my version of what fallon would do but i did it on a stage for 50 people because no one was hiring me. i did my version of a late-night talk show. in it, i took on this persona of someone who was just irrationally passionate about pop culture. who brings this crazy urgency and anger to the superficial matters, that i was genuinely interested in at the same time. at some point, is that what if we take the persona onto the street? i would rant and rave on stage, and audience with heated up. charlie: you would play with the audience on stage? billy: it is more like theater. i was at theater kid. charlie: and you still think of yourself like that. billy: i do. when people started to say, comedian billy eichner? i said, who are they talking about? i always loved comedy, i was in comedies, but in plays.
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i wasn't someone who grew up saying i have to go to a standup comedy club and try out 15 minutes. i loved theater. i grew up in new york. i worshiped nathan lane and martin short. at the same time, i love steve martin. i like people who have an over-the-top persona. charlie: it was natural for you to fall into that. billy: i think so. charlie: you grew up in queens? billy: yes, i was a city kid. charlie: after going to northwestern, you can back here. thinking you would be a theater actor? billy: trying to be an actor, theater, tv, or a sitcom. you just want a job. i was doing telemarketing for the united jewish appeal federation, so it wasn't exactly what i was planning on. charlie: when did you know, do you say this will morph right into "billy on the street"? billy: we would show those
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videos during my live show. it was a segment in my live show. from the first time we showed one, the audience loved it. the videos got tighter. i got more confident. strangely enough, i'm normal to shy, offstage. but people love the act. they love the energy. i think the real savvy, new york, l.a. audience, who i was performing for before youtube, really appreciated getting worked up about entertainment. when the videos did well in my life show, and then eventually you to get along, i put them up on youtube and they went viral, as they say. and funny or die, the website came to me. the president of production e-mailed me out of the blue one night and said, i like what you are doing. if you are ever in l.a., come to see me.
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i was broke and poor, no health insurance, nothing. i said to my dad, i'm not telling this guy i'm going to l.a. just to see him. i'm going to make up an excuse, but i'm going to l.a. to talk to funny or die. this could really be something. i did. i went and talked to mike, i told him i had an idea to turn these videos you like into a half-hour tv show, with a very loose game show element. charlie: outside. billy: all outside. i will give out, not big prizes. i will be about a dollar. or terrible price that i bought at the supermarket. charlie: was it an immediate hit outside? billy: yeah. sometimes people walk away, sometimes they don't. charlie: a number of people who you contacted, how many of them end up a really good -- they give you usable material? half of them? charlie: less. you have to shoot and shoot them
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until you want to die. [laughter] i'm close to death, but at least i'm popular. charlie: how does it work? you know what you're going to say, you have a dollar, and then you get people like david letterman? billy: as the show of all, we started out on a smaller tv network and then recently moved to trutv and tbs. as the show got more popular it developed a following among celebrities, and amongst comedians in the entertainment industry. i did david letterman, and i grew up worshiping dave. i'm not as young as i look, charlie. i would stay up after carson and watch letterman by myself. charlie: what was it about david that you loved? the antic quality? billy: it felt fresh. it still felt fresh years and years later when he had been
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doing it for a while here but particularly late 80's and early 90's and i was coming into my own as a person. i was connected to what he was doing. years and years, literally decades later, dave became a fan of mine, which was a huge honor for me, and joined me on the street one day. charlie: did you initiate the call? billy: i did a segment on the emmys, with seth meyers when he hosted. and i believe letterman's people saw that, and they were a fan, and they called shortly after that had me on the show. charlie: and then he came on your show. billy: correct. charlie: what makes elena so funny? billy: elena has the attitude of the quintessential acerbic, does not give a-damn gal. she gives it back to me as much as i give it to her. i ran into her spontaneously on the street, she became an audience favorite.
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and she came back with the first lady. charlie: how did michelle happen? billy: funny or die had worked with the president. the first lady wanted to do a video to promote the eat right campaign, when she was working on it with sesame street. they like the idea of a "billy on the street" segment. we met the first lady, big bird, and elena. [video clip] billy: you are going to push me around in a shopping cart while i read gwyneth paltrow's acceptance speech for the oscar for "shakespeare in love." follow me. follow me, flotus. ok, hold on, let me get in the cart. let me get in the cart. this must be the highlight of your career, flotus. michelle: it sure is. billy: you're going to push me while i read the acceptance speech. away we go. i would like to thank the academy from the bottom of my heart. i would like to thank the miraculous casting crew.
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[screaming] stop! her earthly guardian angel -- stop! [end video clip] charlie: great to have you. billy: thank you, honor to be here. ♪
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>> bank of japan keeping policy unchanged after a second recession in three years. the economy is recovering moderately. we have the first trade services and seven months. they are sorry again. about a mudslide disaster in brazil. after committing to rebuild after two dams collapsed. they're reviewing the


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