tv CNN Newsroom CNN September 4, 2013 6:00am-8:01am PDT
now that you're here, you have been here for several hours, what have you seen? what actually inspires you? what do you want to import to the u.s. in terms of ideas for a society? >> well, let me, let me take the nsa question first. because this is a question that i received in previous visits to europe since the story broke in "the guardian." and i suspect i'll continue to get, as i travel through europe and around the world for quite some time. like other countries, we have an intelligence operation that tries to improve our understanding of what's happening around the world. and in light of 9/11, a lot of energy was focused on improving our intelligence when it came to
combatting terrorism. and what i can say with confidence is that when it comes to our domestic operations, the concerns that people have back home in the united states of america that we do not surveill the american people or persons within the united states. that there are a lot of checks and balances in place designed to avoid a surveillance state. there have been times where the procedures, because these are human endeavors have not worked the way they should and we had to tighten them up. and i think there are legitimate questions that have been raised that about the fact that as technology advances and capabilities grow, it may be that the laws that are currently in place are not sufficient to
guard against the dangers of us being able to track so much. now, when it comes to intelligence gathering international internationally, our focus is on counterterrorism, weapons of mass destruction, cybersecurity, you know, core national security interests of the united states. but what is true is that the united states has enormous capabilities when it comes to intelligence. you know, one way to think about it is in the same way that our military capabilities are significantly greater than many other countries. the same is true for our intelligence capabilities. so even though we may have the same goals, our means are significantly greater. and i can give assurances to the
publics in europe and around the world that we're not going around snooping at people's e-mails or listening to their phone calls. what we try to do is target very specifically areas of concern. having said that, what i've said domestically and what i say to international audiences is with changes in technology, with the growth of our capabilities, if our attitude is because we can do it, we should go ahead and do it, then we may not be, you know, addressing some of the legitimate concerns and dangers that exist any time we're talking about intelligence gathering and surveillance. so, what i've asked my national
security team to do, as well as independent persons who are well-known lawyers or civil libertarians or privacy experts to do is to review everything that we're doing with the instructions to them that we have to balance the ends with the means and just because we can do something doesn't mean we should do it. there may be situations in which we're gathering information just because we can that doesn't help us with our national security. but does raise questions in terms of whether we're tipping over into being too intrusive with respect to the, you know, the interactions of other governments. and that is something that we
are currently reviewing carefully. we are consulting with the e.u. in this process. we are consulting with other countries in this process. and finding out from them what are their areas of specific concern and trying to align what we do in a way that, i think, alleviates some of the public concerns that people may have. but this is always going to be a, there's going to be some balancing that takes place on these issues. you know, some of the folks who have been most greatly offended publicly, we know privately engage in the same activities directed at us. or, use information that we've obtained to protect their people. and we recognize that. but i think all of us have to take a very thoughtful approach to this problem.
and i'm the first one to acknowledge that given advances to technology and the fact that so much of our information flow today is through the internet and through wireless that the risks of abuse are greater than they have been in the past. now, with respect to sweden, i haven't had a chance to wander around stockholm as much as i would like, it is a gorgeous country. what i know about sweden i think offers us some good lessons. number one, the work you've done on energy, i think, is something that the united states can and will learn from. because every country in the world right now has to recognize that if we're going to continue to grow, improve our standard of living while maintaining a sustainable planet, then we're going to have to change our
patterns of energy use and sw e swed sweden, i think, is far ahead of many other countries. sweden also has been able to have a robust market economy while recognizing that there is investments in education, infrastructure or research that are important and there's no contradiction between making public investments and being a firm believer in markets. that's a debate and a discussion that we often have in the united states. you know, i have to say that if i were here in europe, i'd probably be considered right in the middle, maybe center or left, maybe center right depending on the country. in the united states, sometimes the names i'm called are quite different.
and i think a third observation and final observation i'd make is i know that i'm sure fredrik doesn't feel this as he's engaging in difficult debates here, i do get a sense that the politics in sweden right now involve both the ruling party and the opposition engaged in a respectful and rational debate that is based on facts and issues. and i think that kind of recognition that people can have political differences, but we're all trying to achieve the same goals. and that's something that swedes should be proud of and should try to maintain. >> the first question from the american press goes to steve
holland of reuters. >> thank you, mr. president. thank you, sir. have you made up your mind whether to take action against syria, whether or not you have a congressional resolution approved. is a strike needed to preserve your credibility for when you set these sort of red lines and were you able to enlist the support of the prime minister for support in syria? >> let me unpack the question. first of all, i didn't set a red line. the world set a red line. the world set a red line when governments representing 98% of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are aboard and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war. congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty.
congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation entitled the syria accountability act some of the horrendous things happening on the ground there need to be answered for. so, when i said in a press conference that my calculus about what's happening in syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn't something i just kind of made up. i didn't pluck it out of thin air. there's a reason for it. that's point number one. point number two. my credibility is not on the
line. the international community's credibility is on the line and america and congress' credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important. and when those videos first broke and you saw images of over 400 children subjected to gas, everybody expressed outrage. how and this happen in this modern world? well, it happened because a government chose to deploy these deadly weapons on civilian populations. and so the question is, how credible is the international community when it says this is an international norm that has to be observed?
the question is, how credible is congress when it passes a treaty saying we have to forbid the use of chemical weapons. and i do think that we have to act. because if we don't, we are effectively saying that even though we may condemn it and issue resolutions and so forth and so on, somebody who is not shamed by resolutions is going to continue to act with impunity. and those international norms begin to erode. and other despots and authoritarian regimes can start looking and say, that's something we can get away with. and that then calls into questions other international norms and laws of war.
and whether those are going to be enforced. so, as i told the prime minister, i am very respectful of the u.n. investigators who went in at great danger to try to gather evidence about what happened. we want more information, not less. but when i said that i have high confidence that chemical weapons were used and that the assad government through their chain of command ordered their use, that was based on both public sourcing, intercepts, evidence that we feel very confident about. including samples that had been tested showing sarin from individuals who were there.
and i'm very mindful of the fact that around the world and here in europe, in particular, there are still memories of iraq and weapons of mass destruction accusations and people being concerned about how accurate this information is. keep in mind i'm somebody who opposed the war in iraq. and am not interested in repeating mistakes of us basing decisions on faulty intelligence. but having done a thorough investigation of the information that is currently available, i can say with confidence that chemical weapon were used. by the way, iran doesn't deny it and even syria doesn't deny that they were used and that is what the u.n. investigators are supposed to be determining. and, frankly, nobody is really disputing the chemical weapons were used. the only remaining dispute is
who used them. which is outside the pu ramteres of the u.n. investigation. the u.n. investigation will not be able to answer that preliminarily. they aren't supposed to. but what we know is that the opposition doesn't have the capability to deliver weapons on this scale. these weapons are in assad's possession. we have intercepts indicating people in the chain of command both before and after the attacks with knowledge of these attacks. we can show that the rockets that delivered these chemical weapons went from areas controlled by assad into these areas where the opposition was lodged. and the accumulation of evidence
gives us high confidence that assad carried this out. and, so, the question is after we've gone through all this, are we going to try to find a reason not to act? and if that's the case, then i think the world community should admit it. because you can always find a reason not to act. this is a complicated, difficult situation. and an initial response will not solve the underlying tragedy of the civil war in syria. as fredrik mentioned, it will be solved through eventually a political transition. but we can send a very clear, strong message against the prohibition or in favor of the prohibition against using chemical weapons. we can change assad's calculus about using them again. we can degrade his capabilities so that he does not use them again.
and so what i'm talking about is an action that is limited in time and in scope. targeted at the specific task of degrading his capabilities. and deterring the use of those weapons, again. and in the meantime, continue to engage the international international community in trying to find a solution to the underlying problems, which brings me to the last question. and that is what happens if congress doesn't approve it? i believe that congress will approve it. i believe congress will approve it because i think america recognizes that as difficult as it is to take any military action, even one as limited as we're talking about. even one with boots on the ground, that's a sober decision. but i think america also recognizes that if the
international community fails to maintain certain norms, standards, laws, governing how countries interact and how people are treated, that over time this world becomes less safe. it becomes more dangerous not only for those people who are subjected to these horrible crimes, but to all of humanity. we've seen that happen again and again in our history. and the people of europe are certainly familiar with what happens when the international community finds excuses not to act. and i would not have taken this before congress just as a symbolic gesture. i think it's very important that congress say that we mean what we say. and i think we will be stronger as a country in our response if
the president and congress does it together. as commander in chief, i always preserve the right and the responsibility to act on behalf of america's national security. i do not believe that i was required to take this to congress. but i did not take this to congress just because it's an empty exercise. i think it's important to have congress' support on it. >> and the next swedish question goes to swedish national television. >> mr. president, you've given very eloquent talks about the moral force of nonviolence. i was wondering, could you describe the dilemma to be a nobel peace prize winner and getting ready to attack syria? and, also, in what way did the talk that you had today with prime minister reinfeldt move
the world a step closer to resolving the crisis? >> i will refer you to the speech that i made when i received the noble prize and i think i started the speech by saying that compared to previous recipien recipients, i was certainly unworthy. but what i also described was the challenge that all of us face when we believe in peace, but we confront a world that is full of violence and the question becomes what are our responsibilities. to wind down the war in iraq, to wind down the war in afghanistan to strengthen our commitment to
multilateral action. to promote diplomacy as the solution to problems. the question, though, that all of us face, our citizens face, not just political leaders, is at what point do we say we need to confront actions that are violating. and i would argue that when i see 400 children subjected to gas or 1,400 innocent civilians dying senselessly in an environment in which you already have tens of thousands dying and
we have the opportunity to take some action that is meaningful, even if it doesn't solve the entire problem may at least mitigate this particular problem. then the moral thing to do is not to stand by and do nothing. but it's difficult. this is the part of my job that i find most challenging every single day. i would much rather spend my time talking about how every 3 and 4 year old gets a good education. that i would spending time thinking how i can prevent 3 and 4 year olds being subjected to chemical weapons and nerve gas. unfortunately, that's sometimes the decisions that i'm confronted with as president of
the united states and, frankly, as president of the united states i can't avoid those questions because as much, as much as we are criticized, when bad stuff happens around the world, the first question is, what is the united states going to do about it? it's true in libya, true in rwanda and it's true in sierra and now true in syria. that's part of the deal. what was the second question? i think we have great opportunities. i think there's a good chance for fredrik to talk about our shared views here because we have, i think, a joint belief that developed countries have to make progress, but we have to have an international framework to address where the increases and the missions are now
occurring. >> okay. i totally agree with that. i think it's been a very interesting development after copenhagen. we were both present in copenhagen but we were saying that u.s. had the highest admissions in the world and that china was catching up. now only a few years later we have a situation where china has now doubledadmissions that we have in the u.s. this is reshaping the situation when it comes to climate protection. we are both responsible for lowering our emissions and we're doing so. 25% of the global emissions is from european union and the united states together. they need to take in the 75% of the european union and the united states. that is our problem. we want to deal with this, but it has to be a global answer.
>> final question goes to margaret of bloomberg news. >> thank you. mr. president, tomorrow you'll see president putin at the g-20 with russia and u.s. relations seriously strained. do you see value in him dropping opposition to syrian strike or are you, your efforts now aimed at excluding russia from the decision and looking back at your hopes for a reset. do you believe you have overestimated what you could change or mr. putin changed the rules midway. if you will indulge me, i have one more, but all related. >> i will indulge you to let you ask the question. i may not answer but go ahead. >> could you take us behind the scenes on that 45-minute walk around the south lawn where you changed your mind and decided to take this before congress? >> oh, goodness. margaret, you're really pressing things now. this is question number four now. >> this is for the prime
minister. >> you have expressed some doubts about military action in syria and i'm wondering if you could be a little more specific about what you're concerned the consequences may be and whether you believe president putin has any -- shares any of the burden of the responsibility for mr. assad's actions. >> i'm going to try to remember all this. first of all, the reset in the russian relationship was not done on a whim. there were specific u.s. interests that i believed we could pursue with russia. where interests overlapped that would help us both on our long-term national security and our economy.
and we succeeded. we succeeded in passing a new treaty that reduced nuclear stockpiles for both the united states and russia. russia joined the wto, which bound them to a set of international rules governing trade, which i think ultimately will be good for the russian economy, but is also good for its trading partners and potential companies that are investing in russia, that includes u.s. companies. we work together on counterterrorism issues. they have provided us significant assistance in supplying our troops in afghanistan. there were a whole host of outcomes from that reset that were valuable to the united states. now, there's no doubt that, as i indicated a while back, we've kind of hit a wall in terms of
additional progress. but i have not written off the idea that the united states and russia are going to continue to have common interests, even as we have some very profound differences on some other issues. and where our interests overlap, we should pursue common action. where we've got differences, we should be candid about them. try to manage those differences, but not sugar coat them. one area where we've got a significant difference right now is the situation in syria. russia has a long-standing relationship with the assad regime. and as a consequence, it has been very difficult to get russia working through the security council to acknowledge
some of the terrible behavior of the assad regime and to try to push towards the kind of political transition that's needed in order to stabilize syria. and i've said to mr. putin directly and i continue to believe that even if you have great concerns about elements in the opposition, and we've got some concerns about certain elements of the opposition. and even if you're concerned about the territorial integrity of syria and we're concerned about the territorial integrity of syria. if you want to end the violence then you have to have a political transition. it is not possible for mr. assad to regain legitimacy in a country where he's killed tens of thousands of his own people. that will not happen.
so far mr. putin has rejected that logic. as far as security action, security council action, we have gone repeatedly to the security council for even the most modest of resolutions condemning some of the actions that have taken place there. and it has been resisted by russia. and do i hold out hope that mr. putin may change his position on some of these issues? i'm always hopeful. and i will continue to engage him because i think that international action would be much more effective. and, ultimately, we can end deaths much more rapidly if russia takes a different approach to these problems. in terms of my decision to take
the issue with congress, this had been brewing in my mind for a while. some people had noted, and the this is true, if i had been in the senate in the midst of this period where would have probably suggested to a democratic or republican president that congress should have the ability to weigh in on an issue like this, that is not immediate, imminent, time sensitive. when the chairman of joint chiefs, mr. dempsey, indicated to me that whether we struck today, tomorrow or a month from now, we could still do so effectively. then, i think that raised the question of why not ask congress
to debate this in a serious way. because i do think it raises issues that are going to occur for us and for the international community for many years to come. i mean, the truth of the matter is that under international law security council resolution or self-defense or defense of an ally provides a clear basis for action. but increasingly, what we're going to be confronted with are situations like syria, like kosovo, liycrike rowanda in whie may not always have a security council that can act. it may be paralyzed for a whole host of reasons. yet, we've got all these international norms that we're interested in upholding. we may not be directly imminently threatened by what's
taking place in a kosovo or a syria or a rwanda in a short-term. but our humanity is impacted in a profound way. and, so, i think it's important for us to get out of the habit in those circumstances, again, i'm not talking about circumstances where our national security is directly impacted and we have been attacked. but in circumstances of the type that i described, it's important for us to get out of the habit of just saying, well, we'll let the president kind of stretch the boundaries of his authorities as far as he can. congress will sit on the sidelines snipe. if it works, the sniping will be a little less. if it doesn't, a little more. but either way, the american people and their representatives are not fully invested in what
are tough choices. and we, as a country and the world are going to start to have to make tough choices. i do get frustrated. although i understand how complex this is. any time you're involving military action, people may ask, this may do more harm than good. i understand those arguments. i wrestle with them every day. but i do have to ask people, well, if in fact you're outraged by the slaughter of innocent people, what are you doing about it? and if the answer is, well, we should engage diplomatically, well, we've engaged diplomatically. the answer is, well, we should shine the spotlight and shame these governments. well, these governments oftentimes show no shame. well, we should act internationally. well, sometimes because of the various alignments, it's hard to act through a security council resolution. and, so, either we resign
ourselves to saying there is nothing we can do about it and we'll just shake our heads and go about our business or we make decisions even when they're difficult. i think this is an example of where we need to take, make decisions even though they're difficult. i think it's important for congress to be involved in that decision. >> i think, i think, i think i should answer the question. i think you're right in saying that this is very difficult decision to take. as always, it's a balancing act. we've been discussing this during our talks. just to remind you, you're in sweden. a small country with a deep belief in the united nations. you are also in a country where yesterday or the day before we took the decision that all the people who are coming from the war in syria are allowed to stay permanently in sweden.
so, a lot of the people following this press conference here in sweden are actually just now coming from syria and, of course, wondering what is the view of their country. they have a lot of their countrymen also in this country. so, we have a lot of rules and thanks to syria. i think the main problem has been for two and a half years now that we have a war without a clear, political solution. that, at the end of the day, must get a cease-fire, must get a peace process and must get people to talk to each other. i totally understand the complex situation or the opposition because we have part of the opposition also here in sweden, which is now conducted of different groups. they want to get assad out of the picture, but what do they want instead? that is, of course, a question we need to attend to. the weapons inspector that was present in damascus is headed by a swede. so, in this country, of course, we are skg for the time to be
able to see what were their findings, especially since president obama has sent the decision to congress. we think that that gives us some more time and we're welcoming that. having said that, i also understand the absolute problem of not having a reaction to use of chemical weapons and what kind of signal that sends to the world. in a time where we are developing our view on international law. not saying that you're allowed to do whatever you like to your own people there. as long as it is inside your own borders. now, we have, we have these and we need to protect people. we need to look at the interests of each and every one. so, this is, this is the development we are seeing. that's the same discussion we are having in sweden. so, i understand, especially the u.s. president needs to react, otherwise he will get to another kind of discussion.
this country will always say put our hope into the united nations and let us push on some more to get a better situation. of course, president putin has responsibility in that. of course, because everyone understands that russian or china has been outside of decisionmaking that we would have needed a long time ago to put more clear pressure and more political solution. so, that is, that is what we have been discussing today. if you balance all these sentences that shows how difficult this is. >> okay. >> thank you very much. that concludes this press conference. thank you, all, for attending. >> there he is, the president of the united states and the prime minister of sweden both speaking directly with very different perspectives on what is going on with syria right now. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. the president of the united states making the case for what he described as a limited, targeted attack on syrian
targets. he didn't rule out that possibility, even if congress were to reject resolutions authorizing the use of military force. the purpose would be, in his word, to degrade and deter the regime of assad in damascus from chemical weapons capability, delivery and then to engage the international community in some sort of effort to find a long-term solution to the crisis in syria. let's assess what we just heard from president obama and the prime minister of sweden, fredrik reinfeldt. john king, gloria berger. gloria, first to you. did you get the sense from the president that if the house of representatives would reject this resolution, he would still be determined to go forward with a strike? >> yeah, i did. i got the clear sense that he feels the moral obligation to go forward with a strike. what was so interesting to me, wolf, was that the president said, look, this is not my red
line. this is the world's red line. this is not my credibility, this is the world's credibility. and this is not iraq. okay. because this is not the question of weapons of mass destruction. we know he said that this chain of custody of these chemical weapons both directly to assad and he also made the case, i understand why people were questioning my not going to congress because if i had been in congress and been a senator, i would have demanded congressional authorization and that he said this change of course had been brewing in his mind for quite some time. but he said, you know, i'm not in this alone. it's congress' credibility and the world's credibility on the line, as well. >> john, the president a year ago, as all of us remember, he drew that red line specifically saying that if the assad regime were to use or to significantly transport chemical weapons, that
would be a game changer for the united states. here's what he said today, listen to this. >> first of all, i didn't set a red line. the world set a red line. the world set a red line when governments representing 98% of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are abort and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war. congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation entitled syria accountability act that some of the horrendous things that are happening on the ground there need to be answered for. and, so, i said in a press conference that my calculus
about what's happening in syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn't saying i just made up. i didn't pluck it out of thin air. there's a reason for it. >> the president, john, making the case that he carefully thought through that red line before he made that declaration a year ago. just was an off the cuff, based on his own experience, shall we say. the president insisting on that today. >> he's trying to depersonalize it, wolf, as he gets the votes in congress, including a lot of republicans who are skeptical of this president personally and skeptical of his national security team or skeptical they could have limited strikes ask cause some effect in syria that would help and be a legitimate punishment, if you will. he's trying to depersonalize it and he's right.
he didn't depluck this out of no where. historical conventions, international conventions and congressional votes. he did personalize it and embrace it. a red line for us, we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons being moved around or utilized and that would change my calculus and this would change my equation. conventions and united states congress but the president personalized it a little bit more a year ago when he embraced that statement. today trying to back away from that given the politics at the moment. quite striking even with a friend standing next to him who said we'll always be for the united nations. very few others are willing to stand with him and he said, "that's part of the deal of being the american president." a president owho rose to national prominence with an anti-war and let's get the united states out of the middle east and also rely on international coalition and now preparing, i think gloria is dead right. he set a very clear signal if he
loses this vote in congress, he's still prepared to act saying that's part of the deal. >> he also made the point, david gergen, that not only his credibility, but u.s. credibility and internationally credibility was on the line at this decisive moment. i'll play this little clip. >> my credibility is not on the line. the international community's credibility is on the line. and america and congress' credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important. and when those videos first broke and you saw images of over 400 children subjected to gas, everybody expressed outrage. how can this happen in this modern world?
well, it happened because a government chose to deploy these deadly weapons on civilian populations. and so the question is, how credible is the international community when it says that this is an international norm that has to be observed? the question is, how credible is congress when it passes a treaty saying we have to forbid the use of chemical weapons? and i do think that we have to act. >> david gergen he's referring to the 1993 use banning the use of chemical weapons which the congress did ratify back in 1997. syria one of a handful of countries that never endorsed and signed on to that national convention. at what point, david gergen, you
advised four presidents. at what point should this president go into the oval office and address the american public on what's at stake knowing that the senate and the house will have floor debates as early as next week and that the resolutions will go up for up or down votes as early as next week? does he wait until the middle of the debate or do it sunday night before the house reconvenes? what would you advise this president if you were still one of the senior advisors to a president? >> wolf, i think he needs to do it about 48 hours or so, 72 hours before the vote. because it's really important that he improve the quality of public opinion, the level of public opinion. there are many in congress who are going to say, mr. president, first you have to commit the people and then we can commit the congress. if you can bring them over, we'll go with you. but if you can't, we're not. at this point two polls out, but both of them suggest that it does not have the support now that support for a strike of the
kind he's talking about in the low 40s as a percentage of the population. and he needs to move those numbers. and i do think an oval office address or something, what bill clinton did which worked very clearly was go before a joint session. do something that sort of grand, i'm not sure. but he does need to go to the country. let me just say, wolf, i thought he made one of his most effective arguments today and that he's trying to shame the international community and to action. he is taking the moral high ground and he did it more effectively today than i've seen him do it. i think it's very good territory for him to be on. i actually thought he was on the defensive about the red line. the fact is, when he made that statement, he was committing us to more than what the congress had to redo in the past. when he made the statement about the red line, the message he was sending. you go over this line and i'm going to hit you. we're going to use military force. that's not what congress agreed to. congress agreed to that there are norms and if you cross those
norms, then we'll figure it out. but congress never committed itself nor did the u.n. to taking military action. and i think that's -- i think for him to say i didn't draw any red line, i think frankly a little disingenuous but i thought he was on very strong ground today. >> using it more as a rhetorical flourish to say the international community over the years drew this red line. i was just sort of expressing it. everybody stand by for a moment. we have a lot more to discuss, including this question, it's a good one that david brings up. more effective for the president to address the nation from the oval office or to convene a joint meeting of the senate and the house of representatives and speak out about the issues there? we'll have much more of our special coverage coming up right after this. [ female announcer ] a classic macaroni & cheese from stouffer's
president obama and the swedish prime minister are wrapping up a press conference just a few moments ago. the president is making a strong pitch for a very limited targeted u.s. military strike even if potentially he doesn't get formal authorization from the congress. we'll know in the the next few days if the senate and the house of representatives gives that authorization to the president. he is flying off to the g-20 summit. he will get to meet with vladamir putin. he was asked today and here is what he said. >> i have not written off that the united states and russia will continue to have common interests. even as we have very profound differences on other issues. where our interests overlap we
should pursue common action. where we have differences we should be candid about them, try to manage them, but not sugar coat them. >> phil black is joining us now from russia. the president, i think by all accounts, he was supposed to be in moscow today instead of sweden. it was an add on because he didn't want to have a face to face meeting with virginladamir putin. and part of that is because of edward snowden who leaked all of those classified documents. but he will meet with putin in petersburg, russia. putin gave an interview today, give us some of the highlights of what the the russian leader is saying. >> on the surface of it, wolf,
this was to lay some of the groundwork for the g-20 summit. he spoke a lot about syria, obviously. he made a few comments that perhaps represent a departure from his regular line. he said that russia, in theory, had not completely backed away from the idea of backing international military intervention in syria. we never heard president putin say anything like this. that he could support military action in order to punish syria for using chemical weapons. but it came with strike convictions. there had to be overwhelming evidence and it had to be through the united nations. here is a little of what he said. >> translator: if we have precise data of who is responsible, then we can act.
it is to early to say yes we will do this and that. this is absolutely incorrect. people in politics don't act like that. i assure you that we're taking a position in principal. the use of chemical weapons for mass destruction of people is a crime. but there is another question. if it is con clukted that fighters use weapons of mass destruction, what will the u.s. do with the fighters? what will the fighters do? will they launch military action against them? >> so it is not a thorough departure there from the comments that he made before. if anything, he went on to say that he doesn't believe the evidence that he is asking for is required or exists because he think it's is absurd to consider that the sooirian re sheem is responsible for using chemical
weapons. he says it is illogical. and the government knows that should chemical weapons be used it would trigger international intervention. >> i don't think he had any hard evidence to back it up, is that the rebel fighters, he calls himself bashar al assad's fighters call them terrorists, but the opposition fighters are the ones that use the chemical weapons against their own supporters as a pretext for the international community to go after them, that's the insinuation of theth president, right? >> yes, that is the theory the government has been promoting here since the incident took place. very shortly after it was recorded, they pointed the finger at the syrian opposition
fighters to use chemical weapons against the people to manipulate international feeling and tripper an international reaction. that's what they believe the syrian want. they want to keep fighting until they secure an absolute military victory. >> the president of the united states and the secretary of state say they have intercepted communications confirming that it was the regime military that used those chemical weapons, not the opposition rebel fighters. i wonder if the president would share those conversations with the russian leader if they would make a difference or not. phil black in moscow for us, thank you so much. let's go to capitol hill where the debate continues in the
senate and house of representatives. i know you have been doing research on this, will it require 51 votes or will they be able to filibuster to get it to 60 votes? >> the senate democratic leadership is bracing to need 60. they believe if anybody want today filibuster the motion to proceed, i'm trying to not get too technical here, but a procedural vote to begin on this, they could. so they're bracing to need 60 votes. the question, of course, is if they have it and what is it they will be voting on. as we speak, all of those senators in the three-and-a-half hour public meeting yesterday, they're now in classified session. they're meeting in a room where
you can have a secure conversation. you probably heard a lot of questions and answers going around in public yesterday, and the answer was i would rather talk to you about that in closed session. that will be a critical, critical meeting to see if some of these senators that were still on the fence will actually come their way. also, what will they vote on? we reported about a new bipartisan bill to authorize, of course, that narrowed the language. the time is 60 days with an extension of 30 more, and they say no boots on the ground. we're hearing that perhaps that is not enough of a sweet spot for those who want to narrow the, and the other side those who want to make sure they don't tie the president's hands. i imagine they're grappling with this as we speak. they follow their classified
briefing. they will go to a meeting and discuss the authorization bill, and the hope is to vote on it today and we'll see if that is possible if there is debate and deliberation about whether or not this is the sweet spot for getting enough votes to florida for the president. >> it will be a hectic and very busy day. dana, stand by. we're coming back to you. we're making a point on the democratic leadership, things that there would be a phil buster. the key vote in the house of representatives is 218 of the 245 members of the house. we're covering the president of the united states. a news conference in stockholm, sweden. the president is making a strong case for a limited targeted u.s. military strike against targets
in syria designed to deter their weapons capabilities. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. let's go to stockholm, sweden right now. brianna keiler is standing by, give us the most important headlines of what we just heard from president obama when it comes to syria. >> reporter: i think the most important headline that we heard, wolf, was a couple of things. he really seemed to be confronting, and i think he had to do this, the prime minister here said he wanted to see diplomatic intervention rather than military intervention. you heard him lay out his case for why he thinks there is only way to go and that is military intervention. he said we have done something
diplomatically. do you shine a spotlight and try to shame someone, some have no shame. probably the headline soundbyte that comes out of this saying i didn't set a red line, the international community, the world, set a red line. congress set a red line when it ratified the treaty saying chemical weapons should be bans in the late '90s. he said it's not my credibility on the line, the international community's credibility is on the line. we have the soundbyte from a year ago when he talked about his red line. so let's talk about if it is his credibility or the international community's red line. >> we have been very clear to the assad regime and to other
players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. >> brianna, the president obviously remembering what he said then. later he said it would be a game changer if the syrians were to do this. they did it a few time by u.s. intelligence analysis over the last year. the u.s. didn't do anything, but this one was much more significant according to the u.s. government. more than 1400 people were killed, 400 whom were children. that was the real red line for the president. it didn't draw this kind of ferocious potential response, right? >> reporter: that's right, back in june is when the administration came out saying
they have a high level of confidence that chemical weapons had been used. there wasn't video of that. americans didn't really see the victims here. they didn't get a sense of the scale it was on. i think if you talk to americans and you ask them, do you know that chemical weapons were used in syria, many of them wouldn't have any idea. when this happened just a couple weeks ago. with the video that came out, the corroboration from doctors without borders talking about the hundreds of people they say, treated, and who passed away and they witnessed it happen. folks did not have any sort of wounds, and it was clear it was a chemical weapons attack. it became clear how they were going to deal withal it and if a redline had been crossed. this certainly met his definition of what crossed his
red headli red line. >> brianna will be heading off to the g-20 summit why the president tomorrow. let's bring in our analysts. let me play this clip. hovering over this is if the u.s. intelligence committee has it right when they say they have high confidence that the regime used chemical weapons against their own people. listen to what the president said today. >> my credibility is not on the line. the international community's credibility is on the line. and america and congress's credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are
important. and when those videos first broke and you saw images of over 400 children subjected to gas, everybody expressed outrage. i'm very mindful of the fact that around the world, and here in europe in particular, there are still memories of iraq, weapons of mass destruction accusations, people being concerned about how accurate this information is. i opposed the war in iraq and i'm not interested in basing decisions on faulty intelligence. but having done a thorough investigation, i can say with high confidence that chemical weapons were used.
>> someone who covered the intelligence community over the yurts we have high confidence that these chemical weapons were used, high confidence is very significant, but it is not absolute certainty, if you will. it is a little less than that. is that a problem at all? >> i think it could be a problem, but in talking to people on capitol hill, going to those classified briefings, more more come out convinced than those saying the evidence is thin. the one thing in watching that clip, wolf, that strikes me, is that the president was trying to say to the world this isn't about me. and also for domestic political consumption. this isn't about my credibility. this isn't about my red line
because dmomestidomestically ped why did he use those words. it seemed disinjgenous to use david gergen's words. if you're taking the high moral ground about the use of these awful chemical weapons, why not just buy into it and accept it and the new talking point seems to be from john kerry, and nancy pelosi, and the president himself that this is the world's red line. yes, tb is, but it was also his. >> david gergen, yesterday when john kerry was testifying, there was an interesting exchange with barbara boxer. she wanted to know if there was
dissension in the u.s. intelligence community about this allegation that the syrian regime used chemical weapons recalling that in the lead up to the iraq war ten years ago, there were elements that at the bureau of intelligence. that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. but in the end, of course, they concluded and colin powell went to the u.n. and testified there was weapons of mass destruction. that assessment proved to be wrong. when kerry was asked by barbara boxer yesterday, was there any significant decent this time around? he said not that he knows of. that is not very decisive as far
as i know. >> i think the obama administration, and john kerry have been very careful ab the language of what they know and don't know. the bush administration was trying to seize upon the intelligence to win the public and they over dramatized that. but in this case, i think, wolf, they have been trying to be fairly precise. and the fact that they don't know what was said in the cia quarters, they were pretty honest about that. it p is a technical phrase in the intelligence community that says we don't have a smoking gun, but we have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. it is a very high -- it is
almost all the way, and it is enough, frankly in the intelligence world where it is very difficult to find smoking guns. that's as good as it gets. that is a very, very, you know, high amount of evidence, and i think gloria is right. people who have been seeing it, come away, are not convinced. and a military strike is what they're not confidentble doing any good. and the president i think at some point has to make that case much, much better than he has. he has to understand that this will make a difference and it will not draw us in. >> does it do it in the oval office or at a joint meeting of the senate and the house? >> ordinarily he is not talking about a big strike.
you would not do either. but because i do believe his personal credibility is on the line here. he did draw a red line that sent a message that if you do this, you will industrialer a military response. they have been trying to knock that back for a year now. because he is commander and chief, america's credibility is on the line. in that sense i would say i think he needs to go before the joint session and win this. to lose would strip him of a lot of authority and undermine his credibility when it comes to iran. >> if he were to lose this, wolf, then at least he will have made his best case to the american people. i mean i any this press conference we just saw, we saw a president who was explaining his struggle about how he reached
this decision to go to congress, and talked about the moral imperative that we feel as americans when we see these kinds of pictures of children, dead. and i think that it is something that he is starting to tell the american people about, and i would agree with david that i think if he were to continue to do that, he might be able to shift public opinion. >> guys, thanks very much. we're going to continue our analysis. i want to go to chris lawrence right now who is getting new information on how the u.s. might launch some sort of military strike against syria, what are you learning, chris? >> in addition to the air strike, the obama administration indicated it may also increase the aide to the syrian
opposition as a package to go after the assad regime. i'm hearing now that despite john kerry's call for increased aid to those rebels, there is very deep divisions over how much trust they can place in the opposition. one official told me we do not see the clear divisions between the extremist and moderates that some have suggested. he says they are overlapping and interspersed in a lot of areas of the country. he also said that despite the public advocation, and what we heard yesterday in an open session of congress, he said the intelligence that will be laid out in some of the classified briefings that congressional members are getting will go a
lot farther to showing the concern there is over the make up of some of these opposition forces. additionally i have learned that the u.s. military is reducing it's military presence in the eastern mediterranean sea. the u.s.s. san antonio has pulled into israel. we had five destroyers and an amphibious ship. one of the destroyers has left. it has helicopters and marines, and knowing that we will not have manned nights over syria, it's assets were probably not needed. late last week they kept it there out of prudent planning when things were heating up at the end of the week, but now san
antonio has left. so now through are four destroyers in the immediamedite. >> thank you very much, chris. we have a former republican senator from the state of maine, mr. secretary, thank you for joining us. what do you make of what's going on right now. it's so complicated and the am if i cay indications are enormous. >> i think it calls for presumption of innocence and clarity. i'm not sure what the president is doing in terms of turning to congress. and now he wants to put congress on the line in voting for it, risking a rejection possibly. it seems to me that it is not the officials saying i don't care what the outcome is, whether you support or reject me, i'm going forward anyway.
secondly, i think he has to make a very overwhelmingly persuasive case, and then take that evidence to the u.n. i think this is critically important that he still try to persuade the u.n. security counsel that they have perp this crime against humanity. but i think they should put the russians on the line, and see if he can't join in this effort to accountant for this. >> so assuming he gets this vote, even before a strike, you
recommend that he send the secretary of state to the united nations with the intelligence and the evidence to make the case one last time, is that right? >> i would, and the reason is even though this is supposed to be a limited strike, once you fire those missiles, you're in it. some military some civilians. you can't say it's a warning shot to punish him. and by the way, degrading him will alter the balance. and i think that is one of the things that lindsey graham and senator mccain have been consistent on. beef up the strike and arm the syrians. so there is a desire to alter the balance of power on the ground in favor of the rebels that we're supporting. so i think we have to understand clearly once you fire those
missiles, we're in it whether we like it or not. >> one more question, this notion of high confidence, that is a technical term that they give the commander and chief or president, in the scheme of things, is there a category more assertive and more 100% certain that high confidence -- how does that go? >> there will never be a situation where it will be above that. high confidence means that you have multiple sources. not what we had in the iraq war where we had curveball, who was one source. we have to have multiple sources that are, in fact, coalesce into a pattern that is so overwhelming there is very little doubt left. that is what we should insist
upon. >> they say they have high confidence, and that is a technical term. i was just curious is there a higher level they give commander an chief? >> i don't believe i have ever seen that. that is pretty close to a slam dunk. by the way, there was some reports coming out they didn't have slam dunk information or intelligence. that's whying what that high confidence is, multiple source that's can be integrated sbood a clear and overwhelming indication of evidence and favor that assad used chemical weapons. >> yeah, and you were referring to the intelligence before the war in iraq of march of 2003 when the president was told is a slam dunk that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
and the curve ball was the source that turned our to be totally phoney. and they made up all sorts of stuff about mobile transport capabiliti capabilities. thank you for joining us. >> we'll continue the breaking news coverage, we just heard the president of the united states forcefully make the case for a limited targeted military strike in syria, more of the special coverage coming up after this. as much as we are criticized, when bad stuff happens around the world, the first question is what will the united states do about it. that's true on every issue. it's true in rwanda, libya -- but it's not true in syria? for your first day?
we're continuing the breaking news coverage coming out of the president's news conference in stockholm, sweden, where he talked about launching targeted military strikes in syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime against the civilians. this has been go on for 2.5 years and there has been a refugee crisis. it has been a heavy strain on neighboring countries taking in those escaping from the civil
yard in syria. they meet today with officials from jordan, leb non, turkey, and iraq. nick robinson is joining us now. more than two million refugees have left syria. you have been looking. it's an emotional and heart wrenching development, what is the latest? >> it's very, very difficult for them coming to these countries. jordan has over half a million refugees. this refugee camp is now the fourth largest city in jordan. and the prime minister says he is very concerned about the ability, the stress on the economy, he said the country is
not getting enough economic help. and that is just jordan. lebanon has half a million, egypt over 100,000. iraq about 160,000 refugees. and lebanon 700,000 rather. those are the numbers that are staggering, but it is individual cases, these families that were low or middle class families living in urban environment houses now crammed into tiny rooms and tents out in the desert. it's so concerning for the u.n., they built another camp here in jordan that will accommodate over 100,000 people it is temp -- empty but ready and waiting. >> nick robertson, thank you.
david cameron comes under fire in parliament today. he defended his call for action against syria after he was dealt a stunning defeat last week. >> we won't get a peace process in syria unless president assad recognizes that his regime is under pressure and threat nom just from the rebels but for the millions of syrians that want democracy and a better future for them and their children. let's go to london. atika, this is an emotional and gut wrenching issue for david cameron, but he is losing this debate. >> he has already lost the debate, but the door is being held open for possibly another vote. this is really only if
substantial new evidence comes out. today, the opposition leader said that britain was not looking in responsibility here, they were just not rushing the door. it seems a remote possibility at this point, but it really depends, again, on the evidence that comes to light, and we're seeing more and more of that intelligence coming out. so it could still happen. >> similarly there is a debate in france. are you getting any headlines out of there? >> yeah, it is interesting. the french debate is on going. some of the most details intelligence we have seen has been briefed to those french lawmakers. but they're not taking a vote on this. they can go ahead, but it will be interest k to see perhaps later on whether or not a vote
is needed. for now it's really just sort of more of a pr exercise, frankly. >> an interesting development, the french government more closely aligned than the british government. that's not, necessarily, historically spaeblging, how it has always been the case. that will wrap it up for me for our special coverage. we're going to have continuing coverage of the latest developments involving the crisis in syria throughout the day. carol costello is in the news room to pick up some of the other important stories. >> other important stories and more on the the situation unfolding in syria as well. the first thing we will talk about it ariel castro. the man who kidnapped three women and tortured them for years hangs himself in an ohio prison. [ male announcer ] this is brad.
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this despite being in a special cell where hi he was checked on every 30 minutes. he apologized to his victims a month ago. >> i would like to apologize to the victims. i am truly sorry for what happened. >> those three victims, michelle knight, gina de jesus, and amanda berry are aware he killed himself, but they will not be making a statement today. >> reporter: carol, good morning. as you mentioned we now confirmed through the franklin county coroner's office was discovered hanging by a bed sheet. it was about 9:00 p.m. yesterday. he was discovered today be
hanging in his cell. this is one cell that he was in. he was alone. he was in protective custody, and they went through every 30 minutes in staggered shifts. so it is unsure how this happened. at 9:20 he was discovered hanging in his cell. and he profess announced dead at 10:20. there is an information under way to figure out how this happened. we're waiting to hear for from officials. a big surprise for a lot of people here. >> george reporting live in ohio in morning. military strikes on syria, president obama gains ground on the united states and takes his care over seas after winning support of some leaders in both parties. from sweden, he says his administration is convinced the
ass assad regime gassed their own people. >> i didn't set a red line, the world set a red line. when governments representing 98% of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are forbidden even when county trips are engaged in war. congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation entitled the syrian accountability act, that some of the horrendous things happening on the ground there need to be answered for. and so when i said in a press
conference that my calculus about what is happening in syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn't saying i just made it up, i didn't pluck it out of thin air, there is a reason for it. >> that was president obama in sweden last hour. back here in the united states it's round two for the obama team. john kerry, chuck hagel, and martin dempsey are all returning to capitol hill. they will be testifying again today on the foreign affairs committee for the united states case for military action against syria. their appearance yesterday drew concerns for u.s. boots on the ground at some point.
we have a member of the foreign affairs committee. good morning, congressman. thank you for joining me. >> thank you. >> you heard that congress itself drew a red line against using chemical weapons. >> he also said that the world set a red line, and if the world did, why is this coalition that he built almost nonexistent. so far the only one on our allies that appears interested in working with us is france. even great britain will not support this endeavor. this is something that he wants us to do so he can save face. i don't see any justification case yet. there is no threat to our national security, and there is no guarantee that these strikes
will have any effect. we don't know what the desired effect is. we don't know what they hope to accomplish. but do they believe that assad and his forces are standing by waiting to be bombed? they're putting civilians around places they they will be bombed. >> he said there is no immediate threat to the united states, but if you late people get away with this kind of thing, what is going to stop them from enleashing these chemical weapons on the united states? >>. >> we have to deal with a current and real threat to the united states and right now that doesn't exist. >> some senators appear convinced that the house will hear testimony today, what could convince you to at least open your mind to the possibility of military strikes in syria?
>> it will be very, very difficult to convince me this is one that the united states should be involved in. he has taken his case to the world and it has fallen on deaf ears. there is no international body that i know of that sanctioned this kind of effort. what will this do to protect our national security, and i don't see a rationale yet to do that. >> congressman, what if the president, despite what congress does, goes ahead and carries out a military strike anyway. what then? >> the president has acknowledged by the fact that he has come to congress, and i do parades h praise him for that, to look for our con sense on any military
power. but if congress rejects him, and he goes ahead anyway, i think he is in violation of the constitution. >> thank you for joining us this morning. >> thank you. >> vladamir putin says he could get behind a strike on syria. he said if there is evidence of chemicals being used against syrians, it should be submitted to the u.n. security council. >> if we have presis data of who is responsible for these crimes. this would be absolutely incorrect. people in politics don't act like that. but i assure you that we're taking a position -- >> when asked what russia would do if the united states attacked syria alone, putin says, quote,
we have our plans. president obama will see president putin tomorrow. the president talked about the fact that the united states and russia you would wo not always see eye to eye. >> i have not written off the idea that the united states and russia will continue to have common interests as we have profound differences on other issues. and where our interests overlap, we should pursue common action. where we have dishss, we should be candid about them, try to manage them, but not sugar coat them. >> phil black is in moscow this morning. so phil, soon the president and president pugh tin will be in the same place on thursday. there will be official meetings for the g-20 summit. while there is no official meeting planned between the two, the word is they will meet on the margins, what does that
mean? >> well, syria is not only the official agenda because it is an economic summit. there is lots of one on one meetings on the sidelines, and syria is expected to be the hot topic there as they try to rally support from other leaders. but there is still a real question mark on whether or not vladamir putin will share any intelligence. these leaders agree on so very little right now. as it stands at the moment, these two threaders are not scheduled for any meaningful meetings on the sidelines. so just a few minutes ago, the president made the point that he will continue to engage with russia's president on this subject, on syria, and he
remains hopeful of getting his support because he thinks international action will be so much more effective with russia behind it. he canceled this meeting in most kout, and they're not expected, as i said, to have any real one on one meeting in st. petersburg anyway. >> it seemed like putin opened the door to a little fate time with is interview on television? >> he made a comment that he doesn't exclude backing of military force, but he set pretty strict conditions that put that comment in context. he said it would have to go through the united nations and it would have to involve overwhelming evidence. something specific, convince,
n not rumor, not eves dropping. he doesn't believe that evidence exists. he says it's absurd to consider or think they would use chemical weapons in this way. the logic he says is that the fight is going the syrian government's way, and they know not to use chemical weapons that would trigger an international reaction. so it appears to be a departure, but in the context of all of his remarks there, it seems more like a hypothetical that he will not have to be addressing any time soon. the mystery. the flag from this iconic image is missing. we'll take you inside the search. everybody has different investment objectives, ideas, goals, appetite for risk.
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>> it was an image seen around the world. three firefighters raising a flag in the middle of the lubl. >> everything had a grayish blue tint to it, and there you saw the red white and blue. >> i said that is an incredible picture, and she said that's not a picture, it's an icon. >> it became the symbol of american resolve. >> quite the picture. whoever thought of taking it right at that time, performed a tremendous gift. >> it wasn't, as revealed, in a cnn films documentary. >> this is another flag that became substituted for the
original flag. where is the original flag? >> the documentary tracing the flag from the original owners to those who believed they had contact with it. the documentary is only about the mystery of the flag, but what is represented. >> the unity, and how we felt in thois days and weeks is something else we lost. >> they tried to help put an end to the mystery. cnn received credible tips, but sofa none have led to the authentic patriotic symbol of that fateful day. >> jason carol reporting, but we received some tips, but if you think you have a township go to cnn.com/theflag. or send an e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org. coming up, john kerry's mixed message on syria. did he say that is still an option? [ female announcer ] a classic macaroni & cheese from stouffer's starts with freshly-made pasta, and 100% real cheddar cheese. but what makes stouffer's mac n' cheese best of all. that moment you enjoy it at home. stouffer's. made with care for you or your family. hearty cheeseburger.
so president obama is trying to garner international support for a military strike while his cabinet continuing the fight at home. but john kerry had a mixed message about ground forces. he told a senate committee that syria could eimplode. and mr. kerry quickly backtracked. >> i know the administration has zero intention of putting troops on the ground. let's balk with colonel rick
frantona. we're grad you're here. the senate will vote on using ground troops, but kerry's comments make you wonder, do we need to worry? >> they do, and if they have this 60-day window, there is a lot that could happen. so there is nothing really in that language to procollude the use of manned aircraft other syria. so i think there is a lot of wiggle room built in and that is causing a lot of angst on the hill. will that resolution hold if the united states does, indeed, need to do that? >> you wonder because if they up the ante, if the cruz missile strikes are not enough, and they need additional weapons systems,
you're putting american pilots at risk. suppose they're able to knock an aircraft down, we face a situation like in serbia where we need to go get that pilot. what they're looking for is the authorization to conduct those kinds of activities, and you would expect that. >> maybe so, it is just such a frightening thing to envision. >> they mentioned that the chemical weapons might fall into the wrong hands, and that's been one of the reasons that we heard in the past, but you could make the argument that they're argue in the wrong hands. russia says they may consider a military option if the united states authorizes a military strike, but do you believe mr.
putin. >> i think he might go along with it or not protest it too much if he -- if all of his conditions are met, and they show him the overwelling proof, but they won't participate, of course. this is their client state. he said they have their plans, and that is kind of ominous. the last thing we want is all of that fire power out there at that small body of water being used. >> thank you for joining me today for this half hour. i'm carol costello. "legal view" after a week break. mine was earned in djibouti, africa. 2004.
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>> hello, everyone. good to have you with us. i'm ashleigh banfield. let's start with something about to get under way. president obama is yet again out with the big guns helping to explain only of his policies. this time we're not talking about syria. now it's about health care. and the health care of the country. this is what is happening right now. bill clinton is j