tv BBC World News America PBS May 3, 2012 4:00pm-4:30pm PDT
>> this is "bbc world news america" reporting from washington. i'm katty kay. deviling into the mind of osama bin laden, letters released from his compound reveal the frustrations of the al qaeda leader. the fate of china's blind dissident is in limbo. american officials tried to help him. have they now failed? and the new rush for treasure in california. it's not gold, but another which has people hunting for rocks. >> it's so important to science. it's fragile. it won't survive very long. it's such an extraordinary meteorite. this is literally "stardust." >> welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and last also around the world.
he was focused on attacking america until the very end. papers seized from osama bin laden's hideout in pakistan are now released to the public show the al qaeda leader was frustrated at the disfunction in his terrorist network and concerned about losing movement and support for his cause. he believed that assassinating president barack obama would restore faith in al qaeda. our first report is from our security correspondent frank gardner. >> the last days of osama bin laden hold up in his walled compound in pakistan before he was killed by us navy commanders last year. now we're getting a small glimpse of the treasure trove of 6,000 documents seized from the compound. one year on for the moment president obama authorized that raid, the u.s. is reminding the world in an election year it finally got its man. the bin laden files revealed he talked to groups with the mission of anticipating and spotting the visits of president obama or general at
the trail blazers to afghanistan or pakistan to target the aircraft of either one of them. the vice president joe biden was not to be targeted. bin laden's plan was for him to become president because he thought he was incompetent. his thoughts on the al qaeda network are also revealed in the documents. in iraq led earlier was out of control. his blood thirsty attacks, bin laden thought it was damaging al qaeda's name. >> he was on the run in a sense. he was still very much in touch with his global terror umpire. he was frustrated. he was frustrated that his global terror umpire was under more pressure than it had ever been before. he was frustrated with his subordinates who didn't seem to be able to learn any lessons from previous mistakes. >> one of the declassified documents refers to british targets in afghanistan notably convoys going into helmond
province. even though we have the chance to attack the british, he said, we should not waste our efforts to do so, but concentrate on defeating america which will lead to the defeat of others, go willing. a year ago, osama bin laden was struggling to remain in control of al qaeda. the organization had fragmented. today its offshoots have sprung up independently in pakistan, yemen, iraq and somalia. there is no firm control of the top. the group is seeking relevance. there are new outfits that have their own leadership, financing, resources and desire to plot and plan mass casualty attacks. >> intelligence reports locating osama bin laden were promising. >> the obama administration decision to release these documents is significant. while president bush mentioned bin laden less and less, obama wants to remind people this is part of his legacy.
bin laden, too, has a legacy, but it's fading now. the infamous bogeyman who once terrified america is no more. his organization is a shadow of what it once was. frank gardner, bbc news. >> well, as frank mentioned there, this is an election year, of course, in the u.s. and therefore everything including the death of osama bin laden is sparking a political fight. for more on that part of the story, i spoke with the bbc's in order american editor. how did this come from being a anniversary to be the political hot topic of the week? >> think about when it actually happened, crowds gathered spontaneously outside the white house when it was happening. it was one event in the obama administration, one success that was celebrated by nearly all americans, even those who wouldn't naturally support president obama. almost immediately america began coming from the white house that this was not just it happened, a tough decision taken by the president in the
pursuit of bin laden, and this particular raid, the way he was killed was a hard and difficult decision taken by obama. that's a useful narrative to run against those who say he is a wimp. what made it political was an advertisement that obama put out that mitt romney wouldn't have done this, wasn't about getting bin laden and didn't take the decision. that seemed to have went over the top. >> the white house seems to think it has the upper happened when it comes to national security issues which is rare of course for democrats. this is not an election, is it not, there is a run on those issues? >> we'll see it coming out now on the anniversary. obama launches his campaign this weekend. i think this is almost a backdrop. you have a backdrop of foreign affairs where they can counter some of the character issues. foreign affairs plays a big pardon unless extraordinary happens, it is the economy.
character always matters in a presidential election. they're saying about obama, he takes very tough decisions, hard decisions that other people don't have the guts to do. that is quite important. >> thank you for coming in. the blind chinese act vist of the center of a diplomatic standout between beijing and washington made a passionate plea in a dramatic phone call to a congressional hearing, he says i want to come to the u.s. to rest and expressed concern for the fate of his mother and brothers. the message comes as his case continues to broil tensions between america and china. we have this report. >> ringed by chinese police watching everything, this is the hospital in beijing that now looks like a new prison. the blind activist who fled house arrest for the sanctuary of the u.s. embassy was brought here yesterday. reunited with his wife and
children, china had assured their freedom and safety would be guaranteed, but just after these pictures were taken, his wife told him how police are beaten her following his escape. speaking to the bbc today, mr. chen said his wife was tied to a chair by the police, kept there for two days. china had broken its promise to protect his rights. his family were afraid. chen guangcheng says that china's assurances that his family will be safe are worthless. inside the hospital, he is surrounded by chinese security, no u.s. diplomats there to protect him. he appealed to hillary clinton for help. she was today meeting china's leaders in beijing for annual talks aimed at building a working relationship between the u.s. superpower and a rising china. both sides have wanted a standoff over the blind chen guangcheng settled quickly. the day after u.s. diplomats were congratulating themselves on a deal hailed as a new model
for china allowing dissidents to stay in the country, it's all unraveled. this is what was happening inside the hospital grounds. american diplomats supposed to be monitoring chen's welfare were kept waiting in the car park. chen guangcheng told us the guards are prevented them from seeing him. no friends or lawyers have been into see limit. he is cut off. in the van, chinese police photographed anyone trying to get in. are there negotiations going on on mr. chen's state? we caught up with the u.s. officials who brokered the deal for chen to leave the embassy. they're under pressure. they have delivered chen to chinese hands and may not be able to undo that deed. >> a real diplomatic mess. the fallout from this incident is one of the reasons why "time magazine's" cover story this week reads, "the people's republic of scandal."
a short time ago the magazine's editor joined us from new york. this whole episode seems increasingly messy. how does it reflect on america's relations with china? >> well, i think it's shaping up to be a diplomatic debacle of catastrophic proportions. yes, the united states administration and the diplomatic core may have preserved the relationship with china, but at what price? i think for people who are concerned about human rights, people are concerned about the united states reputation as a beacon to preserve human rights this is looking like a pretty amateurish move. it's quite troubling, actually. >> what your cover story suggests is this has implications almost beyond the square episode because of the relationship being so much more integrated between china and the sthust >> yeah, there is no going back. back even a generation ago, china was not a major player on
the world stage. it wasn't the second largest g.d.p., so if china decided that it want to be a bit more her metic or pull back, the stakes weren't as big. now the stakes are gigantic. it's not only the world's largest country, but it's much more forceful on the global stage. this has far reaching ramifications, much more possibly than teenman square. >> the recent scandal seemed to point to weaknesses within the chinese political system right at the very top, don't they? >> right. that's what the chinese government is very concerned about. the chen case are disruptive to the narrative. this is an important year for china because they're handing over leadership for the first time in a decade later in the year and they wanted to present -- they wanted to control this year as effortless confidence,
bureaucratic that works better than messe democracies, this exposes a corruption and cronyism that really is at the loop of the communist party. it's a very damaging set of scandals that is setting in in china right now. >> yet, jim, the very fact that we have chen guangcheng calling in from his hospital bed to a u.s. congressional hearing today suggests that the chinese can't totally keep a lid on this, right? they may want the power to control their people, but obviously, the events of the last week have shown it's not possible, even in a one-party state? >> even in a one-party state, yes. there is the equivalent of twitter where we get our information, not just about this case. chen is calling a lot of people, even the congressional committee, he has spoken to "time" reports and other reports. nobody has been able to visit him. a lot of the deals that the
united states administration thought they had cut, agreements they had made with the chinese government 24 hours into this, they don't seem to be living up to their commitment and so, yes, they're losing some control, but we shouldn't make any mistake that if they want to turn that hospital into a prison, they can very well do so. >> jim frederick there, international editor, fascinating story. thank you so much and thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> and in other news from around the world. prosecutors have demanded an 80-year sentence for the former liberian president charles taylor following his war crimes conviction last week. judges of the special court found him guilty of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including aiding and abetting murder and rape. he'll be sentenced next month after a separate hearing. the head of the catholic church in ireland is coming under intense pressure to resign. a number of senior politicians have called on him to step down following revelations in a bbc
documentary about his role in a secret child abuse inquiry in 1975. egypt's military council has order to hand over power to a civilian administration sooner than expected. the announcement comes after unidentified attackers armed with rocks, firebombs, and shotguns killed at least 20 protectors on wednesday. the military says it deeply regretted the killings. tonight sudan says it's fully committed to ending hostilities with its neighbor south sudan but will protect itself against aggression. it came before a deadline that threatened sanctions. while its rerecent conflict is getting attention, a long war in the area of sudan is close to triggering a humanitarian crisis. more than 70,000 local people have been displaced and most of them end up in refugee camps across the border in south sudan, from there, the bbc's
andrew harding sent us this report. >> on a dirt track, a weary family furthered on by fear and desperation. they have been walking for days. thousands more are coming fleeing for their lives. why did you come here? hunger, she says, too tired to elaborate. had is what she is escaping from, danger overhead. in the mountains, the bombs are falling. get down, he says. the sudan ease government is not only trying to crush it, but trying to bring an entire population to its knees. hiding in caves from the circling planes, tens of thousands live like this. it's too dangerous to go out to farm so they can't feed themselves and aid is not allowed in.
so whole communities are trying to leave crossing the border into south sudan in growing numbers. another family just arriving now joining the other exhausted people here, it's pretty clear that these people are being targeted by a military campaign that is designed to tearize and displace civilians. registering at this refugee camp, all have their scars from the bombings. this woman tells me she had to leave behind two of her children. they were too young to make the journey. a bomb killed her husband. with each passing week, the condition of those arriving gets worse. there is help for them here and growing fear for those left behind. what were you eating?
she said we were just eating things from the trees, from the trees. >> is it getting worse? >> yes, every day. >> and more and more? >> yeah, more and more. >> the dangerous journey here then but the camp is filling up fast and terror and hunger make their deliberate way through the mountains. andrew harding, bbc news, south sudan. >> the innocent victims there of a long-running war. you are watching "bbc world news america." still to come on tonight's program, a tiny electronic chip gives some blind patients new hope on regaining their sight. we have the details behind this medical marvel. just weeks to go until the final tournament of the european football championship, one of the hosts, ukraine is at the center of a diplomatic rah. germany, austria and belgium
say they won't be sending any representatives in protest of the treatment of ukraine's former prime minister now serving a jail sentence. we have a report. >> they are working day and night to get the brand-new olympic stadium ready in time for the tournament. glossy promo videos welcome the world. it's a proud moment in this young country's history. it all started to go wrong when four small bombs went off last week. one of them recorded on this webcam are. then there is these pictures apparently showing bruises on the former prime minister yulia tymoshenko imprisoned after a suspiciously political prosecution. her daughter told me she had been punched into submission when she refused to leave her cell. now she is on hunger strike. >> she feels that the only way in her power now to protest and
the only way she can show the world that this has gone too far. >> now there is a threat of a serious political protest of euro 2012. the leaders of several countries say they won't be coming to the football unless the treatment of yulia tymoshenko improves. in light of that, i asked the foreign minister what confessions they might make. he just said that ukraine was listening, but pleaded with his european colleagues not to mix football with politics. >> it's not for political benefit. >> at one point this week, there was talk of moving the championships. what should have been a month of celebration for ukraine now threatens to be a month not. >> it's a tiny electronic chip roughly the size of a match
head, but it could change the life of a blind person. once implanted in the patient's eye, the device helps them regain some vision. our correspondent met one of the first patients in england to receive this kind of implant. here is his report. >> hello, welcome back, nice to see you again. do take a seat in this chair for me, please. >> just six weeks ago, chris james was totally blind. now he can perceive light. this box powers his implant, but it's what is under his scalp, which is amazing. this x-ray shows the computer processor above his ear linked by a cable to the implant behind his retina. the wafer thin chip is just three millimeters square. compare this sight test before the implant was fitted when he had no vision. >> there is nothing. >> at all? >> no. >> with this one after, now he
can perceive light. >> it seems to have a curve. >> and even the outlines of shapes. >> i find it very exciting, really. we know the optic nerve is working which is the most important thing otherwise this trial wouldn't be able to go ahead. it's a matter of teaching the brain to wake up and interpret what the flashes of light are telling me. >> chris is one of thousands of people in the u.k. with a disease where the light processing cells in his eye no longer function. this chip send electronic signals direct to the optic nerve and from there to the brain. getting the implant in place required a steady hand at the oxford eye hospital. the operation lasting several hours. this surgery is a combination of years of research here and in germany where the implant is made.
up to 12 british patients will have the chip fitted for part of the major trial of this truly innovative technology. >> i think this is an amazing development. here we are talking about a patient who was completely blind and is able to see. here talking about what is happening here and now, not five or 10 years, but what is actually happening now. >> switch the machine on. it starts instantly. the flashing is starting now. >> a second patient, robin miller, showed me how the implant enables him to perceive light and there has been another unusual benefit. >> the biggest upside for me is that i'm dreaming in color for the first time for 25 years, intense bright color which is an extraordinary thing. >> retinal implants have been compared to early grainy photography, but with the hope of restoring clear vision for future generations of patients.
>> quite extraordinary. well, when a meteor shore streaked across the north california sky 10 days ago, it sparked more than a few gapses of amazement. treasure seekers went to california's gold country looking for space rocks. they may be carbon and water, but to the scientific community, they are worth more than gold. even the tiniest piece can fetch up to 1,000 per gram. our correspondent sent us this report from california. >> there is a strange new fever running through gold rush country. they're known as meteor zombies, heads down, searching for a tiny nugget of rock which could make them a fortune. star dust in them there hills, they scramble the moment they
heard of a meteor strike in california. >> this is the rarest meetoite. it's so important to science. it's very fragile. it won't survive very long. it's such an extraordinary meetoite. it's star dust, it predates this planet. >> i woman walk age doc caught a picture of the meteorite thought to be a size of a mini bus as it crushed through the atmosphere scattering debris over 20 miles of the california countryside. it's funny, it's really quite difficult walking around here without looking to see if there is a fragment of this meteor hiding somewhere in the grass that they could make a fortune. they say there hasn't been much excitement in 150 years since they first struck gold over there. sutter's mill is where the gold rush began, and history is repeating itself, this time with a gift from above. >> oh, yeah. they call that flight oriented,
where it held the stable position through flight and it turns to a flying saucer shape. >> they found this just outside their house weighing in at over 10 grams. they were careful not to con tomorrow nate it. >> i'm going to keep it here at the park so we can keep it on display so people that come visit the gold discovery can see a piece of the meteorite from that discovery. i would like to sell it as long as it's going to science. >> they got it. >> a piece! >> all sorts of people have been finding fragments and cashing in at $1,000 a gram, 20 times the going rate for gold this is his college fund. quite an incentive to keep eyes down looking for something truly spectacular.
>> they're hunting for star dust and fame and fortune. in one last amazing sight, the only privately owned version of the norwegian art the scream has become the most expensive. it fetched nearly $120 million at an auction in new york. the other three versions are owned by norwegian museums. the buyer is a mystery because the auction house has released no details. somebody is a little bit poorer tonight. that brings today's show to a close. remember, can you get updates on our website at any time and if you would like to reach me and most of the bbc team, you can find us on twitter. for all of us here at "bbc world news america," thanks for watching. catch you tomorrow. ♪ ♪
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