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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  February 11, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening, everyone. they did it. after 18 days of demonstrations in egypt, antigovernment protesters succeeded in driving president hosni mubarak from office-- an office he had held for nearly 30 years. his hand-picked vice president made the announcement just after 6:00 in the evening cairo time. and suddenly the 11th of february looked like the fourth of july. fireworks lit up the sky. egyptians danced in the streets. jubilation in tahrir square. mubarak, who just hours earlier had refused to give up the presidency, flew with his family today to the red sea resort town of sharm el-sheik. egypt's military, in charge at least for now, promises a transition to democracy.
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at the white house, president obama said the people of egypt have spoken, but he said "this is the beginning, not an end," and he called for free and fair elections. we have an entire team of correspondents covering this story. when word came out that mubarak was out, harry smith was in the middle of tahrir square and many hours later, he's still there. >> reporter: good evening, katie. even at this late hour people continue to pour in here by the thousands and thousands. >> finally we get our freedom! >> reporter: this is what freedom looks like. and sounds like. >> today is celebration! celebration! celebration! (cheers and applause) >> reporter: virtually enslaved for 30 years, the people of egypt rose up.
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>> bye-bye, mubarak! >> reporter: and found their voice. tonight their prayers were answered. >> reporter: the newly named vice president was just on television and announced that mubarak had stepped down. thousands and thousands of people are coming from all over to join in the celebration in tahrir square. could you believe this day actually happened? >> no. it's like a dream. it's like a dream come true and it happened so suddenly that we cannot imagine it at all and everybody's happy and shocked at the same time. >> reporter: egypt's incredible people power-- rich and poor, religious and secular. they stood together not as factions, but as egyptians. >> i'm 23 years old and i've never lived in a country where i felt safe around my people. this is the first time i can actually feel that the egyptian people are united.
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>> reporter: united and ennobled. this is the day egyptians regained their dignity and, with it, dreams of possibility. does it seem real? does it seem real to you? >> yes! yes! it seems like we can do anything! nothing is impossible. we moved mubarak, we can do anything! >> reporter: this is the scene in tahrir square. people are literally dancing in the streets. there's a state of euphoria, a state of disbelief. people are almost afraid to believe what they know in their hearts is true: that mubarak is gone. >> thank you! everybody in the world, thank you! >> reporter: there is euphoria and hope, a message for neighbors and naysayers. >> we want to live in peace with all our neighbors, including israel. we have democracy, we got it by our hands, and so we're not going to give it away to anyone anymore! >> i am very, very happy. i'm egyptian. we are egyptians. now we are egyptians!
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i love my country! >> reporter: the celebration goes on into the night, because this is a moment no one wants to lose hope. >> it means a new era and i hope my daughter every daughter in egypt will live a life in freedom. >> reporter: there is not a word or emotion that we haven't experienced on the streets tonight. we've been all day here for people who have risked anything. people who risked everything in order to be here and tonight is only a night of celebration. >> couric: harry smith, thanks. elizabeth palmer has been covering these protests from the very beginning. liz, mubarak's departure was nothing short of stunning. >> reporter: katie, this has all happened with such blinding speed that it's left everybody-- both participants and observers, reeling. the end came in a terse 30-
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second statement from egypt's vice president. >> ( translated ): president mohammed hosni mubarak has decided to waive the office of the president of the republic. ( cheers and applause ) >> reporter: in tahrir square, there was instant jubilation. >> all egyptians are happy for this news! >> reporter: this was the moment they fought and in some cases died for. the army had watched passively for 18 days as this revolution gathered force. now it's in charge. here's what we know about the new power structure. the defense minister, mohammed hussein tantawi, heads the high military council which is in charge. it's expected to dissolve both houses of parliament soon, and manage a transition to elections with a civilian head of the constitutional court.
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the timing of all this remains unclear. in a televised statement tonight a spokesman promised a legitimate government and then saluted those mostly young people killed in the uprising. it's easy to forget how uncertain things looked just 24 hours ago, when the protesters were stunned by the president's announcement that he would not resign. but this morning, they rallied again, emboldened by a week's worth of grudging concessions for mubarak. >> i'm sure we are gaining. he will not go easily but we are definitely gaining. >> reporter: one group marched on the presidential palace, another blockaded state television. behind me is state television, which has been waging a sustained propaganda war against the demonstrators. well, today they've had enough. they've blockaded it so nobody can get in or out. the army is occupying it. the goal, of course, is to stop what they say are the lies. it didn't take long.
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by afternoon, the besieged state tv was finally reporting honestly about the protests. "it's been chaos here" says this announcer "and we were forced to tell you things we knew weren't true." soon after state tv surrendered, so had the president. >> i'm very optimistic about the future! >> reporter: unleashing the wild excitement of the victorious movement powered by egypt's youth, who hope they have just launched the world's youngest democracy. this is, in effect, a military coup, although it's a coup backed by popular will. but the military is giving strong signals that it's committed to some sort of transition to democracy, to representative government. katie? >> couric: liz, what kind of signals is the military sending? and are you getting any sense of how long this military rule will last? >> reporter: well, we got a strong hint this morning. there was a specific statement from the military saying they would act as guarantors toward free and transparent elections for the presidency this fall.
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that's as far as it goes so far now. they said they're going to issue a timeline in the next few days. katie? >> couric: liz palmer in cairo tonight. liz, thank you. and those generals now running egypt? they were all appointed by hosni mubarak. so how did he lose their support? terry mccarthy now with that part of the story. >> reporter: hosni mubarak's fate was sealed yesterday when a handful of top military leaders convened a supreme council and didn't invite the president to their first meeting. >> we saw this meeting and all of us said "that's it." >> reporter: even before mubarak announced he was stepping down, the supreme council was issuing communiques, promising to lift the three-decade-long state of emergency and saying they would not detain protesters. as the protests grew larger this week and spread across the country, paralyzing the economy, the military was forced to choose.
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either they had to ditch the president they ushered into power back in 1981, or shoot protesters in the streets. the protesters won. with 468,000 members, the egyptian military is the largest in the arab world. it controls an estimated one- third of the egyptian economy, but is still respected by the people. in the past week, soldiers have earned more goodwill by effectively protecting the protesters in tahrir square against pro-mubarak mobs. >> they are great. they did a magnificent job keeping peace, keeping stability. >> reporter: it was these street protesters that drove mubarak from power, but everybody here knows that it couldn't have happened without at least the tolerance of the military. now the old president is gone, the military's in charge, responsible for answering the protesters' call to democracy. the generals say they will amend the constitution to allow free elections in september. >> the army will make it gradually.
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>> reporter: six months? one year? >> maybe less. >> reporter: but the military will also come under scrutiny for its role in the economy. >> the spotlight will be on the military, and the military are part and parcel of the old regime. they were brought in to the structure, the crony capitalism of this state. >> reporter: for now, the protesters are largely happy that the military has taken over, but they do want the military to hand back to civilian control soon or, they say, the protests will start all over. katie? >> couric: terry mccarthy. terry, thank you. president obama was in the oval office when he got the word that mubarak was stepping down. the president watched the celebrations in cairo on television and a short time later made his first public statement. chip reid is at the white house tonight. chip, it's been a very long week and the president seems to be very happy to see it end and end this way. >> reporter: oh, yes, katie. after the dangerously unpredictable events of yesterday, today the president sounded deeply relieved as he praised the egyptian people for their courage.
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>> the people of egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard and egypt will never be the same. >> reporter: but while the euphoria continued in egypt, president obama had a warning that there will be difficult days ahead. >> this is not the end of egypt's transition. it's a beginning. >> reporter: the beginning of a long, arduous path to democracy. with the first stage of that path now controlled by egypt's military leaders. the president had a message for them: that they are only a temporary caretaker. >> that means protecting the rights of egypt's citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible. >> reporter: on this day, the president sounded victorious, but over the past two and a half weeks, with events changing so fast on the ground, some analysts say the white house at times struggled to keep up. >> it's been a tightwire act for the white house and one that has seen, i think, some vacillations
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in terms of what we've said publicly and how we've tried to manage the environment. >> reporter: and now that high- wire balancing act is sure to continue as the people of egypt focus on freedom and the military keeps its focus on stability. katie? >> couric: chip reid at the white house. chip, thank you. and still ahead here on the "cbs evening news," cairo was not the only place egyptians were cheering. some were celebrating right here in the u.s. but up next, the google executive who started a people's revolution through social media. [ woman ] i had this deep, radiating pain everywhere... and i wondered what it was. i found out that connected to our muscles are nerves that send messages through the body. my doctor diagnosed it as fibromyalgia, thought to be the result of overactive nerves that cause chronic, widespread pain. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves. i learned lyrica can provide
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hey tough guy, that cold needs alka-seltzer plus! it has the cold-fighting power of an effervescent packed in a liquid-gel for all over relief! hiyah! dude! >> couric: the revolution that played out in the streets of cairo started online. google executive wael ghonim created a facebook page that was used as a bullhorn to rally protesters. for that, egyptian authorities detained him for 12 days. earlier today, i asked him how it feels to see his calls for change finally answered. >> i'm feeling proud. they told us that our country died 30 years ago. they used the emergency law as a basis for that, to rule over our country. we did not believe them. over time we basically decided to start a campaign to search for our country. the campaign started with the
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20,000 people in egypt, we became hundreds of thousands of people in the next few days, and then over 20 days millions of people were looking for egypt, and we ended up finding it finally. within 18. it was not easy. there were lots of people who died, those are the true heroes. those are the ones that no one should forget because they had a dream. they really wanted a better egypt and i'm proud today because i feel like they did not die for nothing. they died and egypt is a free country right now. >> couric: someone we interviewed recently said the internet doesn't create courage, it only spreads it. >> i fully agree with that. i fully agree with what he said. at the end of the day, the internet was the way in which we informed each other, educate each other, we collaborate with each other. everyone was doing his own very full share and we put all that effort together. we had one goal, which is free
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egypt, and we managed that. >> couric: you didn't speak very much about those 12 days you were detained. what was that like? >> it was tough. that's what i can say. it was really tough. >> couric: some people have said that you will play a role in the new government. would you like to have some kind of position? >> absolutely not. absolutely not. i want to go back to my normal life. i've done my role. i told my fellow egyptians that i don't want anything out of this, and i truly don't want anything out of this. i just want to be... walk in the streets of europe or the streets of the u.a.e. saying "i'm proud that i'm egyptian," and we deserve that. egyptians deserve a better future. but i don't think i'll be having any role. >> couric: what needs to happen now to make you believe that real reform will take place and all this was worth it? >> i do believe that real reform is taking place. i trust 80 million egyptians. the giant is awake now, no one is going to put him to sleep again.
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>> couric: wael ghonim, thank you so much for your time. >> thanks a lot. >> couric: after the revolution and the celebration comes the cleanup. and, like the uprising, it's being organized online. one tweet from cairo says coming up next, what this historic day in egypt means for the rest of the middle east. i could not take a deep breath d w. i noticed i was having trouble. climbing the stairs, working in the garden, painting. my doctor suggested spiriva right then. announcer: spiriva is the only once-daily inhaled maintenance treatment for copd, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. i love what it does. it opens up the airways. announcer: spiriva does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. stop taking spiriva and call your doctor right away if your breathing suddenly worsens, your throat or tongue swells,
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>> couric: continuing now with our special coverage of this historic day in egypt. dr. richard haas is the president of the council on foreign relations, a non- partisan think tank. richard, it seems to me the military is saying all the right things, but what concrete steps need to happen? >> it took 18 days to get rid of president mubarak, it's now going to take more than 18 days to get it right. they have to open up the political space, develop political parties, let them do what you do in a democracy with an open political system. they've got to get the economy going. they've got to write a new constitution, they've got to build something with checks and balances that will basically make sure this thing works if and when it gets back on the rails. >> couric: and the people have to be patient because all these things take time. >> it's almost the goldilocks challenge. you have to go slow enough to for all this to happen, but these reforms need to go fast enough that people don't get impatient. getting the speed right, the pacing right, extraordinarily difficult. >> couric: meanwhile, the obama administration has to continue a delicate balancing act. it has to kind of gently guide the process without being too
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heavy handed, because there's a lot of anti-american sentiment in egypt. >> exactly right. we want to get rid of the word "must." in telling egypt what they need to do. we want to advise and suggest. we should help them. they're going to need help writing a new constitution, they're going to need help politically. they're certainly going need help economically. but we have to be very careful in the substance and tone of what we do. >> couric: and how destabilizing is this for other countries in the region, and could it re- ignite protests in iran, for example? >> it depends. in iraq, for example, we learned when things went badly it gave democracy a bad name. it scared people around the region. i think there's going to be a lot of watching, a lot of wait- and-seeing. and depending on how things unfold in egypt, it could have all different sorts of reactions. >> couric: what does this mean for israel? how nervous is that country right now? >> the israelis said they wanted democracy in the middle east, so now they might have a little taste of it and it makes them nervous because the government-- the mubarak government was pro- israel, they're the ones who kept the peace. but the people of egypt are often quite critical of israel because they're very sympathetic
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to the palestinians. so my hunch is we're entering a prolonged period where there's not going to be progress between israel and its neighbors. >> couric: and finally what about concerns, richard, that a group like the muslim brotherhood or another organization hostile to the united states will step in and fill the power vacuum? they've been very low profile. but have they been laying low and do they have a lot of political power? >> they have been lying low. they're the most organized group that probably represents something like a quarter of egyptian people. it's the reason now you need to get the economy back into gear. it's the reason you've got to create space for other political parties. it's the reason you've got to design a constitution so a group like the muslim brotherhood, even if it could get 25% or 30% of the vote, can't control the politics, can't control the government. that's why safeguards, checks and balances, the sort of stuff we in america have written into our political system, it's something the egyptians will need to build into theirs. >> couric: all right. richard haas. richard, thank you so much. coming up next, celebrating the egyptian revolution on the streets of america.
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erupted in cheers as news that mubarak's exit spread. "long live egypt," they chanted in arabic, "and freedom." yasser noreldin came here 10 years ago, he brought his year-old daughter to witness the celebration. >> i want them to witness this moment. >> reporter: nihal hashem says she's proud to be a young egyptian american. >> for the first time we can say our generation did something. our generation did the revolution. >> reporter: there was jubilation across the country. in anaheim, california. >> it's a very happy day for all of us. the egyptians are writing history right now. >> reporter: and in boston. >> we are getting our freedom! really, really, really i'm super excited! >> reporter: back in new york, ahmed ahmed abdelmotaleb says egyptians finally have hope. >> my heart is in the sky. my heart is in egypt. >> reporter: hearts bursting with joy, even from thousands of miles away. elaine quijano, cbs news, new
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york. >> couric: and that is the "cbs evening news," i'm katie couric, thank you for watching this week. i'll see you again on monday. good night. day in egypt, and reaction you're watching cbs5 eyewitness news. "this broadcast realtime captioned by becky lyon." history in a land that has seen a lot of it. monumental day in egypt and reaction tonight in the bay area. a mystery on the cliffs above the pacific. the missing couple, the abandoned car and what might have happened in a crucial 20 minutes. and a desperate time for cal sports. an offer of help from stanford. good evening, i'm allen martin. >> i'm dana king. another chapter of history for a country with a lot of it. but this story at least for now is one of joy and optimism.
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as samantha hayes reports, the day of departure was just one day late. >> reporter: demonstrators chanting egypt is free after hearing the news of president hosni mubarak's designation. the country is now in the hands of military officials. according to the vice president omar suleiman who delivered the news. >> president hosni mubarak has decided to step down as president of egypt and has assigned the higher council of the armed forces to run the affairs of the country. >> reporter: president barack obama who released a statement thursday urging the egyptian government to work toward democracy responded friday from the white house. >> the people of egypt have spoken. their voices have been heard. and egypt will never be the same. egyptians have made it clear that nothing less


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