tv [untitled] May 30, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
fail. there is a difference between criticizing from a distance and governing. was there a third section? >> let's jump on, we have a lot of questions. let's go here and then back here. >> from these 17 documents, is there anything in them that you would see that could change the tactics and strategies of u.s. counter terrorism efforts or do you think there's anything that's going to change these efforts? >> i'm not somebody who -- i see myself as somebody who studies the jihadys, not combat. i can assure you the united states doesn't want my comments.
i just study them for my own academic curiosity. as an academic, i can tell you that -- and as a personal opinion, i could say the following, that -- all i would do is just to make sure that some of these regional jihadists have access todown load these documents, because they speak for themselves. i wouldn't want to read the fact that he's just so -- such an undergraduate or below undergraduate in terms of himself, in terms of the way he is leading in yemen. would you want to be the leader of the ttp when you read all these documents? frankly, the documents that -- being apolitical about the documents is a political asset if you like, from my perspective, as a personal
opinion, don't do it. frankly the documents are -- they speak for themselves, and they're way more powerful -- without doing anything, just to put them out there. >> you mentioned the documents showed there's been criticism of operations that were either aimed at civilians, resulted in major civilian casualties, can you elaborate with respect to any reference about criticism or approval of operations that are aimed at western civilians? or that resulted in major civilian casualties? we mentioned the new york city incident. he criticizes the attacker for
breaking his oath. was there any reference about -- i'm curious about the quality of bin ladin's writings. >> in one section, when he's putting the centralization efforts in 2010, he says that when mistakes happen, we would apologize even if the victims are sinners. so he would be prepared to talk about sinners.
this is not just about civili civilians. you also find noncombatants being part of this. my reading of primary sources other than the documents are primary sources suggest to me that civilians were muslims or nonmuslims, also they would be concerned about. they knew that they -- sometimes these occur, and they occur as collateral damage. but they are not their primary target. they like -- i don't -- when i emphasize about bin ladin and his concern of indiscriminate attacks. please don't nominate him for a peace award. it's more about the fact that he's more interests in qualitative attacks.
and these qualitative attacks need to have their own -- you know, their own proper lawful target in his mind. and that target is not -- the primary target is not civilians. he does say in the process -- in one of his public statements, sometimes civilians die, and we have to answer to god about this. we have a responsibility to this. there is what you would with consider a local -- a law, some sort of conduct that they comply with. with the arabic -- in some instances he disappointed me. he's arabic, very strong. i don't want to very economical on sort of --
the other thing is he was writing for private communications so he wouldn't have needed to work on this. however there is one publicly available letter, which is one of the statements that al zawahiri released after the arab spring to the people of egypt and this has been edited by somebody. if this was bin laden who edited this, his grandma is very good, you'll be pleased to know. he's also very modest. he doesn't want to come off across -- he wants to be more unassuming in terms of his comments he was making. that letter when it was released by zawahiri, it didn't incorporate the changes. it doesn't mean zawahiri was ignoring him.
frankly if i was al zawahiri, i would have made changes because many were grammatical and so on but it may not have reached him at the time. >> let's go to the back and we'll come back to you. from the embassy of pakistan, would you think some of these documents were intentionally left that way to mislead everybody? he wasn't a sympathetic person to those causes but just wanted a legacy? >> i seriously doubt it. there are so many things in these documents that would not be in the interest of bin laden to mislead. i can see that he would have destroyed many doums. his operational security measures are very sharp. i can understand that he would have deleted as many as he could
have. that would have been a possibility. but you know, at the end of the day bin laden was trying to be as involved as his situation permits him. he wasn't trying, you know, just to busy himself with this -- with creating a conspiracy for the rest of us. he's more -- he's very detailed about certain matters. based on my own close readings of these documents, i don't think that it's a possibility. >> from the sunday times of london. i want to ask you on the authenticity question, what form you got the documents in, were they all computer files or were there any handwritten letters an what it was like to actually
read a letter by bin laden. i know we've seen plenty of public statements, videos and audio, but to actually have that in your hand. the other thing was whether there was any mention of the afghan taliban and what his view seemed to be of them. >> so i read in the news there were some 100 letters. we didn't receive any. the 17 documents that we received are all electronic documents. i'm inclined to think they were electronic in the original. the reason i say, and i could be proven wrong, the reason why textual analysis shows firstly it's not a standardized formatting for all the letters, so some letters have different format from others which tells me if they were writing them in the government, they would have just used one standard formatting. but also more importantly in the
content of these letters, they do discuss they are actually sending these letters through either thumb drives or in one instance memory cards which i expect has to do with phone memories. don't ask me how it happens because i'm terrible with phone technology. the contents suggestion they were communicating through electronic letters. so that's one aspect. >> and how to describe working on bin laden's private letters, i was telling brian earlier, i had my sleepless with osama a few months in my life where normally somebody doesn't go on for a few weeks on three to four hours of weeks every day but i was able to. it's because it was kind of sort
of -- it was an exciting project. for the rest of the center as well, not just me, to be able o to -- to be working on this project, for my own selfish interest, interesting to be part of shaping a new discourse. i think a new discourse needs to be shaped about what al qaeda stands for. we need to be driven more by primary sources when we discuss al qaeda than we have in the past. >> yes, of course, i'm sorry. there was in one reference where in one letter when osama bin laden is telling attila about the security measures of people coming from iran, the sort of
safe locations you need to provide for them. some of them, they may not necessarily have been al qaeda, but you need to look at those with special talents, try to work on them here, and others you may want to send to fight alongside the taliban brothers. so there is one reference which suggests to me it could be. it could be not afghan -- but i suspect this is in reiference t afghan taliban. >> gentleman right here. >> hello. my name is dan stark. i'm a student. my question is regarding how bin laden thought about civilians versus legitimate or not legitimate targets specifically with regard to the world trade center attack. do you think that the workers in the towers were considered to be collateral damage of a symbolic
attack or rather essentially legitimate targets as part of economic apparatus of domination of the united states? >> from their perspective, that was a legitimate economic target. now, this is what i was saying earlier. this is where it becomes problematic for al qaeda to include. i can understand military and political targets. i can see how they could really have a clearer distinction about these from civilian targets but economic targets is problematic. why if i'm somebody who is not disciplined in al qaeda, why would no one attack the store next door, the grocery store that is an economic. in their own mind, i can see the spirit he's driving their own kind of writings, they would
prefer highly symbolic targets. the 9/11 really represents that. it's sort of where if i were to have a legal conversation with them, even if i were to agree with them, even if they were to convince me this is an economic target, what about the people on the plane? this is where you would want -- how could you really come to the get those people on the planes, who are obviously not -- they are civilians. they may not necessarily all be civilians but there is something problematic about the legal discussion that you would want to have with an al qaeda person on the local committee that sort of legitimated the 9/11 attacks.
>> here rmt. >> i just read the executive summary report and learned that bin laden had very positive view toward arab springs. on the other hand some say vault of al qaeda was discredited because it was arab springs. i'm wondering how i can understand the difference. >> bin laden released the public statement before this letter. some of it actually is from this letter, from his private letter, which tells me he, himself, was genuinely pleased with the arab spring. at the end of the day, what the arab spring proved is that the
political story that led many members of the jihadis was led to be settled by nonviolence. in some areas. we could now talk differently about this. but initially at the time when bin laden was writing, it caused him -- he have genuinely pleased with this. he thought of it as being the most important event formidable event in modern muslims. the program within that letter put together a feweek before he was killed was that he was not interested in jihad in those regions, he wanted jihad to be important in areas of afghanistan but in this he wanted to direct attentions toward more preaching and sort of an intellectual role from al qaeda from that respect.
so what you said earlier is true and wrong with respect to whether arab spring killed al qaeda or not. so they were pleased with arab spring but at the same time at the initial stage of the arab spring they were spectators. there is something very powerful about what happened during the arab spring that undermines al qaeda's narrative. al qaeda's narrative on three articles of faith. the first one is that our rulers are corrupt, they would say, and oppressive and they don't govern according to islam preaches. the western world is very interested in supporting these dictators in power. third, the only solution is jihad. so these three articles of
faith, and this is my terminology, have been undermined by the arab spring. firstly the rulers are falling. the western countries seem to be supporting the people, siding with the people, not with the dictators, and they are falling not because of violence but falling because of nonviolence. these are really important in terms of how the narrative was faced when the arab spring started. now, there have been discourses on jihadi websites. initially they were taken by surprise. especially that what does it really mean, can we be non-jihadi jihadis. what does it mean to have this jihadi identity in this age. you had those who kind of came out and said, well, these were the exceptions, not the norms. libya was not a nonviolent.
gadhafi did not fall because of nonviolence. you have also at present in syria, brian wrote an excellent article in the sense of the complexities of the situation in syria, who there are some jihadi groups appearing. they are separate from opposition groups. it's looking murkier, much murkyer. events of the arab spring are no longer -- the square is not being replicated everywhere. so that is -- the jihadis have got plenty of time to go between when the world looks -- if ever the world would look the same way they envisage it.
so if things fail, they could easily come back and say we told you so. jihad is the solution. so it's both right and wrong with respect to the arab spring. there's something very powerful about the arab spring. yes, indeed, it undermines the jihadi narrative. on the operational level, on the level of what is happening in various parts of countries that are undergoing arab springs today, it's more complicated than the tahir square. >> we have time for one more question. yes, ma'am. >> i'm a journalist with afp, the french news agency. i would like to know if he mentioned ksm in his documents. >> no. he doesn't mention ksm but it's not something -- because the
documents really are -- that we see bin laden aren't really in 2010. so now doubt his 2003 methods, if they exist, there would be a mention in them. but it's not really -- it's not really unusual. i didn't expect to find in letters authored in 2010. so the abscess of ksm to my mind is not. these are private communications related to situations at the time he was writing, within months of writing them. his absence doesn't say anything to me. >> i think you've got to wrap it up there. when is your new piece coming out? >> i believe next week. >> next week. okay. on a -- >> it's called "beware imitators." purchase okay. that will be on the cct website? nelly, thank you very much for
coming in. thank you very much for the entire team that helped put together this report and to process these things at the ctc, to everybody that dealt with these documents before they got to you, please release more of them. with that, thank you very much for coming. >> thank you. [ applause ] all this week in prime time here on c-span3, we're featuring american history tv with a look tonight at america's civil rights policy starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern, historians, civil rights leaders and presidential officials as they express changes in civil rights, fdr to today. american history in prime time all this week on c-span3.
next a discussion on the new book spoiled rotten, which focuses on the democratic party working on behalf of special interest groups. from washington journal, it's 40 minutes. >> joining us from pittsburgh pennsylvania is jay cost, the weekly standard, author of the new book called "spoiled rotten" how patronage corrupted wups democratic party and now threatens the noble republic. jay, good morning. >> good morning to you. >> you said the democratic party has shifted away from being the party of the people to one beholden to special interests. what special interests and jump in on how that happened. >> it's a whole plethora of special interests, a slow process that began 80 years ago. franklin roosevelt came president in 1933, his political coalition was southern and western and largely conservative.
but by the time he left office in 1945, the balance of power within the party had shifted to the north. one of the reasons that happened was not simply because of roosevelt's efforts to combat the depression but also his efforts to build permanent democratic majority. the actions he took in pursuit of that. in particular using the powers of big government as it had been expanded during the new deal. for instance roosevelt brings in organized labor as an interest group in the party. previously labor had been a free floating player and frankly not very powerful at that in the 1920s. by the end of roosevelt's tenure labor is extremely powerful and helps spring the north toward the democrats. you also see him sort of putting the machines under his heel, under the heel of the federal government increasingly. in the case of tammany hall,
that meant destroying it. in other cases, the machine in chicago, it meant fostering it. even in the case of pittsburgh where there had been a republican machine by the time roosevelt left there was actually a democratic machine. of course roosevelt maintained the southern plank of his coalition, particularly plantation gentry of the south by giving them all sorts of special carve outs on social security and agriculture adjustment act and sort of slow walking civil rights. at the end of roosevelt's tenure, the political success of this really sort of pigeonholed future democratic leaders. they were obliged to continue this sort of political process that roosevelt this started by trying to bring groups into the coalition, into the party coalition, by offering them special benefits. then also, and even more importantly, once they were in the coalition maintaining their support through special deals in
perpetuity. this worked pretty well. >> how does that play out when we look at president obama in who do you think he is beholden to and other senate and house democrats? >> well, what happens, really, the turning point is the 1960s, cultural, social, kmishl revolutions of that period bring in a whole host of new groups. we have, for instance, environmentalist, feminist, government unions. then in the 1990s, bill clinton does a very good job of peeling big business away from the republican party. at least the republican monopoly on big business support starts to appear and businesses start to become free-floating entities and democrats buy their support. when we come to obama, his problem in office, in my opinion, he has a vast array of interest groups in the party. all of them support democrats on election day.
all of them work hard for the party, and all of them expect something in return. the challenge this president has had, and i think it's virtually an insurmountable one, is to maintain support of those groups while simultaneously governing for the public interest. that is the core challenge of the democratic party now. that's sort of the thesis of my book, there have just become too many groups, too numerous for the party to govern for the entire public. >> if you would like to speak to jay cost, here are the numbers to call, democrats, republicans. and independent callers. jay cost, do you think there was ever a golden age of the democratic party, a time when it fulfilled its mission? >> well, i think that all political parties have this problem to some extent. after all political parties, their goal is to acquire control
of the whole government. they never do that by winning every vote in the country. they only do it by winning a portion of the vote. there's tension within both political parties to support and reward their contributors, their donors, their base while also governing for the entire country. in the book i sort of conceive it as a balancing act. it's expected for political leaders like roosevelt, for instance, to try and take care of his own voters. it's sort of unseemly, maybe, from a broad theoretical standpoint. when you actually get into the meat and potatoes of american politics, it's quite typical. it's all about a balance. i think the party was really able to strike a balance through the 1960s. it became too difficult starting in the carter administration, we see this process begin to break down and carter really failing to juggle his party coalition
with the need for national policies. this is something that's continued through the present day. >> mitt romney looks to have the republican nomination, because he won texas yesterday. so as he heads into this campaign season with the support of the republican party, presumably behind him, critics say he's beholden to big business. they point to his record on business. they also say that republicans -- as you say democrats are beholden to their clients, republicans are beholden to a whole set of other clients. who are republicans beholden to? >> i think that's a fair point in many respects. i don't think there's any doubt, for instance, that the republican party historically has been the party of big business. that was certainly the criticism that roosevelt launched in '32 and woodrow wilson in 1912 and william jennings bryant in 1836 up to today. that's sort of the point barack obama is making now during this camp