tv PBS News Hour PBS May 29, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: the united states and other nations expelled syrian diplomats today, expressing outrage over the weekend massacre. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> warner: and i'm margaret warner. on the newshour tonight, we have an on-the-ground report from the city of homs, and an interview with ambassador gary dewer from canada, one of the countries taking action against its syrian envoy. >> woodruff: then, two takes on the presidential race. we look at mitt romney as he secures the republican nomination after today's primary in texas. >> warner: and gwen ifill reports on the push by both campaigns to court hispanics. >> immigration is a big issue, but not the top concern for
hispanic voters here in colorado and elsewhere. both governor romney and president obama are talking about the economy. >> woodruff: plus, ray suarez examines the use of drone strikes to target al qaeda militants, and president obama's hand in approving the list of terrorists to kill. >> warner: and as author toni morrison is awarded the presidential medal of freedom today, jeffrey brown talks with her about her latest novel "home", set in america in the 1950s. >> there was something going on in the country, that really became the sea, and the little green shoots that became the civil rights movement, and the anti-vietnam war movement. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> growing up in arctic norway, everybody took fish oil to stay healthy. when i moved to the united states almost 30 years ago, i could not find an omega-3 fish oil that worked for me.
i became inspired to bring a new definition of fish oil quality to the world. today, nordic naturals is working to fulfill our mission of bringing omega-3s to everyone, because we believe omega-3s are essential to life. >> at&t >> the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: there was more fallout from a mass killing in syria today-- diplomatic
repercussions, as government after government told syrian representatives to leave. it was part of a wave of revulsion over the slaughter of at least 108 people in the houla region on friday night. the diplomatic expulsions came as u.n. peace envoy kofi annan was in damascus, meeting with syrian president bashar al assad. we begin with a report from alex thomson of independent television news. >> reporter: this has to stop. kofi annan's central message to president assad today. but worldwide governments are not using words, they're taking action, diplomats expelled, the french government describing president assad today simply as a murderer. kofi annan would not use such language, of course, but told the syrian president to be bold in stopping this war. >> i shared with president assad my assessment, the
6-point plan is not being implemented as it must. we are at the tipping point. the syrian people do not want a future, their future to be one of bloodshed and division. yet the killings continue, and the abuses after today. >> reporter: according to the united nations fewer than 20 died in the initial government shelling, after rebels clashed with soldiers on friday. another 88 mostly women and children were executed according to u. n. monitors who visited the town. people there insist it was shabir government backed armed civilians who slaughtered people house to house, family to family. >> a small number appears to have been killed by shelling, artillery and tank fire which took place over a period of more than 12 hours. the majority were the result
of house to house executions. >> reporter: one eye witness told channel 4 news she hid in a pile of hey and saw men in black and army uniforms surrounding the town. at first they were welcomed in this sunni town surrounded by largely shia areas. others said they went building to building shooting people in the head. the u. n. confirmed 49 children, 34 women were killed on friday. amateur video shows tanks still surrounding the town today, and i certainly witnessed them in action here two days ago. president assad of course blames what he calls terrorists, and today warned people that such groups are stepping up their activities across syria. heavy fire fights in some districts of homs until the early hours, so this morning the u. n. cease-fire monitors were patroling with caution
from its streets. out along the main north-south highway where they tried to negotiate a cease-fire just three days ago. and then a halt after one incoming round was fired at the patrol from the direction of the town. it happens routinely. these u. n. monitoring patrols come under fire in this area with great frequency, this is not a situation where there's much trust and each cease-fire has to be renegotiated almost town by town, village by village. but still tonight and rightly, the houla massacre command the agenda, its consequences reverberating around the globe. tough talk on immigration that >> woodruff: in washington, a state department spokeswoman said the u.s. holds the syrian government responsible for the massacre. but white house press secretary jay carney said that does not mean u.s. military action is in the offing. >> we never, and we haven't in this case, removed options from the table. we do not believe that militarization... further
militarization of the situation in syria at this point is the right course of action. we believe that it would lead to greater chaos and carnage. >> woodruff: for more, we turn to gary dewer, canada's ambassador to the united states. i spoke with him a short time ago. ambassador gary dewer, thank you very much for talking with us. >> thank you for having me on. >> woodruff: what does canada accomplish by expelling syrian diplomats? >> well, i think it was, we expelled all the diplomats today. we think it's again a continuation of our and condemnation of the regime in syria. we're obviously horrified, as is the world, of the slaughter of so many innocent people including women and children, in syria. we've participated in sanctions, obviously we want the u. n. envoy to succeed,
but we're taking action. but obviously with the lack of implementation of the cease-fire over and over and over again, we are obviously very, very concerned about the innocent people in syria. >> woodruff: as you just heard in that report, president assad continues to say that what happened was the result of terrorists. in his country. >> well, a number of journalists and a number of other observers stated that it was, they clearly are holding him accountable for these deaths, these murders really, and i think obviously everyone is calling for verification. but there's a strong evidence, and strong belief in the world that he is responsible. >> woodruff: in addition, the russian, who have been part of this most recent u. n. agreement, supposedly cease-fire agreement, they continue to say that both sides are responsible, that
it's not just the assad government but it's the opposition groups. >> well, obviously backing up, we would have prefered russia to join the other countries on the security council with stronger action in syria. they chose to not participate, that's also been criticized by a number of countries. we would much prefer a stronger stand by russia, including after the weekend's events. they have said they want third party verification and independent verification. having said that, i think most of the independent observers right now have spoken and certainly canada shares their assessment of how this happened and who is responsible. >> woodruff: ambassador doer, there was some discussion now about a so-called yemen-like solution where as in yemen president assad might agree to leave others in his government
would step up. are you hearing anything about an agreement like that? >> i haven't heard that. obviously the reports come out about different options for the implementation of the position that canada and the united states share. assad must go. and there's different options to do that. obviously we prefer a diplomatic solution for his departure from syria. i'm not aware of the specifics of that, but people have floated all kinds of ideas. there's been other op ed pieces about russia taking greater responsibility for the situation and taking greater leadership, but so far that hasn't taken place either. >> woodruff: what more does canada believe needs to be done? the u.s. position is it's not the right moment or it isn't the right situation to send in military forces. that's canada's view as well? >> well, that's canada's view as well. we're going to work with the united states and our european
countries and other countrys in trying to deal with the options for syria. we did deal and work together with the united states and european countries on libya, but to just take the libyan situation and transfer it over to syria, you can't do that. the united states believes that, we believe that. we work together in that situation to protect people, but we had a path forward. this one is a much more complicated issue. i wish it wasn't, and i wish, i mean it's clear that innocent people are being killed, and that is in itself for all of us, all of us who believe in humanity, anybody is a parent or anyone else that sees the slaughter of young children and families, it's just horrific. it's horrible. we obviously want to see the diplomatic solutions to implement the cease-fire, but
it's obviously not working to date. >> woodruff: if it's not working, then what more has to be done or should be done, do you think? >> we've got to continue to work as a world community. there's more like-minded countries working together to try to find a solution, sanctions, diplomats, sanctions that are resulting on tremendous economic pressure in syria. but we also have to be honest to say the cease-fire hasn't been implemented and that's one of the six conditions the u. n. envoy set down with an agreement in syria and it hasn't been implemented. >> woodruff: how frustrating is it for canada, for you as somebody who works in diplomacy -- >> it's horrible for all of us. it's horrible for any world citizen who believes in the protection of innocent people to not have a cease-fire that was agreed upon broke, that cease-fire is broken over and over and over again. so we're continuing to use
diplomatic means, military option as the u.s. has indicated is not right in front of us or available to us at this point. but everybody is talking with each other about how we can be more effective. >> woodruff: and if the annan plan, once everyone is in agreement that the annan plan isn't working, which is what you've just said, what is next? >> well, he had another meeting today. but the bottom line is he's had a cease-fire as part of the 6-point plan and obviously most independent observers believe again over the weekend the cease-fire did not, was not implemented and it had horrific consequences for people. >> woodruff: how much of an obstacle to finding a solution is it, mr. ambassador, that there are apparently serious divisions among the opposition in syria? or is that? >> well, there's different
analysis of the opposition, and there's different people in the opposition. so there's not a kind of view that's necessarily clear, and unambiguous about the opposition. having said that, if the real issue here is assad and his inability to implement his word to implement a cease-fire and the consequences of that are the killing of innocent people, and that's why the world community continues to talk, to discuss, act, on sanctions and diplomatic relations being severed. but still keeping communications with people in syria, which is also very important. but obviously it's a horrible situation, it's a horrific incident over the weekend that precede, was preceded by other horrific situations. >> woodruff: ambassador gary doer of canada, thank you very much for talking to us. >> thank you very much.
>> warner: still to come on the newshour: clinching the g.o.p. nomination; wooing latino voters; targeting al qaeda militants; and a conversation with author and storyteller toni morrison. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: al qaeda's second-in- command in afghanistan has been killed in a nato air strike. alliance officials said today that sakhr al-taifi was killed on sunday. he had commanded foreign militants in afghanistan. the air strike took place in the country's eastern kunar province. nato officials said there were no civilian casualties. search teams dug into new piles of rubble in northern italy today after the second earthquake in less than two weeks. at least 16 people were killed and 200 hurt. the magnitude 5.8 earthquake toppled houses, factories and churches in the region around bologna. an even stronger quake struck there just nine days ago, and some buildings damaged then collapsed today. the tremor hit as prime minister mario monti was holding a
meeting in rome on earthquake recovery efforts. >> i want to ask all citizens in the affected areas to have confidence in the government's support. the commitment of the state will be guaranteed, and everything will happen in the best and quickest way. >> holman: the two quakes have left at least 14,000 people homeless. an extremely powerful computer virus is attacking computers across the middle east, but especially in iran. that news came today from a russian security firm. it said the "flame" virus can turn computers into spy tools that even pull information from nearby cell phones. iran blamed israel for another virus attack two years ago that disrupted part of iran's nuclear program. today, israel would not confirm or deny a role in this new attack. in u.s. economic news, a new report raised hopes about home prices. they rose in most major cities in march for the first time in seven months. but a second report showed consumer confidence plunged in
may, marking the biggest decline in eight months. on wall street, stocks rose on hopes that china might move to stimulate its economy. the dow jones industrial average gained nearly 126 points to close above 12,580. the nasdaq rose 33 points to close just under 2,871. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to margaret. >> warner: now, two looks at the presidential campaign: on the day that mitt romney is poised to cross the delegate threshold to become the g.o.p. nominee, and national and state polls forecast a close contest between him and president obama. >> i'm not going to forget craig, colorado. i'm not going to forget communities like this across the country that are hurting under this president. >> warner: mitt romney was a long way from texas today, as lone star state republicans headed to vote in the primary likely to wrap up the g.o.p. presidential contest. when the day began, romney had
1,086 delegates out of the 1,144 needed to clinch the nomination. there are 152 at stake in texas. he spent the day in general- election battleground states-- colorado... >> i'm not going to forget middle-class families that are asking themselves, "why is it, three and a half years after this president got elected, we're still in a tough economy like this?" >> warner: ...and nevada. romney's nomination success came, as the newshour's "vote 2012 map center" shows, from primary and caucus wins in 31 states, the district of columbia, and five territories. a win in texas would make it 32 states. it's a far cry from his failed 2008 nomination bid, which he lost to john mccain. romney faced down as many as ten challengers this time, and debates that turned raucous at times. >> wait... wait a second. >> okay, go ahead, go ahead. >> you're entitled to your opinions, mitt; you're not entitled to the... >> i've heard that line before. i've heard that before, yeah.
>> warner: the fight effectively ended with the exit of his main challenger, rick santorum, last month. the nomination will be officially bestowed at the republican national convention, at the end of august. on this big day in romney's nomination journey, we look at the personal and political experiences that shaped him as a candidate. for one perspective on that, we are joined by michael kranish, of "the boston globe," co-author of the book "the real romney." so michael, who is the real romney? and what is it really, my question is, what is it about his character or his temperament that enabled him to come back from defeat four years ago and prevail this year? >> it's interesting, he had said he never imagined running for president, but many his friends will tell you that he's imagined it since his father failed in his bid to be the republican nominee back in 1968. so it's something he surely thought about for many, many, many years and when he ran the last time around it was not a successful campaign for many reasons, tried to court the
>> well, he ;mx 6cj& he favored aborings rights. but he ran for governor in massachusetts in 2002 he called himself a moderate and he pushed through a health care plan that a lot of republicans have said they have problems with. now in 2012 he's called himself severely conservative. so we see many different places, many different things that he has drawn from ideologically that now same who he is today and perhaps if he is president he might still pull from all those things or depending on the congress perhaps he would be as conservative as in the primaries. >> warner: i understand in the book that you co-authored that you did a lot about his childhood, his upbringing and his family within the mormon church. what did he get from that that shapes him today? >> he looked up to his father george romney so much, put his father on a pedestal and see he's the real deal, he's tried to emulate him.
his father was a successful businessman, governor of michigan. here we have romney, businessman, governor of massachusetts, running for the presidency. some things he doesn't talk about, for example, he said his moral mon faith is one of the most important treasures in my life, but he doesn't talk about it on the campaign trail. he doesn't talk about the fact he graduated from harvard business and harvard law. he said obama spent too much time at however. and bain capital, it's important to understand, we're hearing both side of the campaign, 30-second commercials, but in the book we talk about 15 years and 100 deals so, that tells you there's a lot more there. it's an interesting story that tells you about the kind of person he and is what he would try to bring to the table. >> warner: so talk about what kind of person he is, if you spent 15 years in that pressure cooker, the pressure to perform for yourself, your stockholders, pressure to cinch a deal, do you see those
same qualities coming to him as a candidate, shaping him as a candidate? >> we haven't had that many business people who have become successful presidents, so it's not clear that being in business is necessarily the best qualifier. he also was governor, which is a more direct experience. but at bain capital the way he worked was as a business consultant and running a large investment fund. so you had to put in about a million dollars to be in this fund and he would invest these hundreds of millions of dollars in various companies. for his investors, this is important, for the investors he was very successful, nearly doubling their money every year. that's different than going in and running a business. he himself has said that he didn't go in and run the company, that was left to management. he was running his investment fund and the fund was very successful in making very wealthy investors even wealthier. it a different story and a legitimate thing to talk about on the campaign for both sides about what happened in very specific deals where he went
in, with debt on companies, sometimes they succeeded, sometimes they didn't and that's a different story tonight investment fund success. >> warner: a lot has been made from analysts to people who worked for him about some call his formality, some call it remoteness or stiffness. some say, you know, he can't really, he's not comfortable connecting on a human level with people he doesn't know well. one, do you agree with that assessment? i'm looking at him close. and was he always that way? >> well, mitt romney has grown up in a series of bubbles like we mentioned a minute ago. a pretty controlled world. he is not a back slapping politician. for example he never ran for mayor or city council. he started his political career running for the u.s. senate against ted kennedy. so he is a more formal person. he doesn't spend, people at pain cap al tall with a soy after work he'd put his briefcase in the car and went home. mitt romney said he didn't take the briefcase out of the car when he got home. that tells you a lot about
mitt romney, he wanted to go in do the job, leave it behind and go home to his family. >> warner: finally, in a general election campaign, there are rig ors and pressures you never experience in the worst nomination campaign. what does his past history tell you about how he'll with stand that? >> well, it will be interesting to see because when he ran against ted kennedy beat him pretty badly in debates, a lot of people thought, and certainly the way the election results turn out. and he has not faced a race against another democrat nationally. running in the g.o.p. primary against a relatively weak field is different. there will be a lot harsh attacks on both sides and people will want to know, can you connect with me, can you understand the problems i have. and that's something that some of his own advisors have asked about him, how can you get away from this image of the perfect hair and starched shirt and show that you have a connection to the average person. it's been a challenge for him, it will continue to be a challenge. >> warner: thank you so much for helping us to have a look
at it, michael. >> thank you of. >> woodruff: and we turn to a fight being waged by both campaigns to win over a significant but not predictable group of voters, hispanics. gwen ifill reports from the battleground state of colorado. >> ifill: alejandra vasquez is a prize. she is undecided, she lives in a swing state, and she is latina. >> ( translated ): i'm not registered as democrat or republican. it depends on what republicans are going to offer us, what democrats offer us what i'll do. >> warner: vasquez, a legal immigrant who has lived in denver for a decade, is an engaged voter. she spent a recent weekend gathering signatures on a petition to allow undocumented workers to qualify for drivers' licenses. but when it comes to the presidential contest, she is a skeptic. >> ( translated ): obama promised us big immigration reform, and that's an unfulfilled promise. but on the other side, we have
attacks from republicans. and we are sitting in the middle. >> ifill: colorado, where hispanics make up 20% of the population, is one of a handfu of critical swing states this year. with voters like vasquez up for grabs, the campaign is increasingly being waged in spanish. >> ( speaking spanish ) >> ( speaking spanish ) >> warner: the obama campaign is clearly in full swing here, with 13 offices open across the state and multiple presidential visits already, the latest just last week. by contrast, the romney campaign has appointed a latino outreach coordinator, but without a state
headquarters, the campaign is still working out of the colorado g.o.p.'s office. ♪ this cinco de mayo festival in denver was a ripe target of opportunity for both campaigns. >> have you updated your voter registration? >> ifill: democrats like state representative dan pabon are part of the obama faithful. >> the issues for latinos are the same issues that affect every american. it's jobs and the economy. it's making sure that there's an ability to put food on the table, to pay the mortgage or the rent, and to live and retire in security. if you look at the numbers and you look at the percentages, latinos are going to be the deciding vote in this election. >> ( speaking spanish ) >> ifill: but republican party chairman ryan call says disillusioned voters do not want to be pandered to. >> for republicans, we don't make that many distinctions between the different segments in our society. we say here's what we stand for, here's our message, here's
our... it's a message of freedom, it's a message of opportunity, it's a message rooted in the principles that have made america what it is. >> ifill: president obama won 67% of the hispanic vote nationwide and 61% here in colorado four years ago. governor romney, in trying to close that gap, told florida donors recently that failing to win those votes this time "spells doom for us." gary segura, a stanford university political scientist, polls latino voter attitudes. he says it all comes down to numbers and history. >> democrats cannot get elected to national office without a super-majority of african american and latino votes. that's been true for a long time. democrats have not won a majority of the white vote since 1964. what's happened over the course of, say, the last 20 years is that the number of states where latino voters are able to tip the balance has grown from being, say, just california in
the mid-1990s to now including places like nevada, colorado. in the last election, indiana and north carolina are places where the margin of victory among latinos was larger than the margin of victory statewide. >> ifill: a sore spot for republicans-- tough talk on immigration that rejects citizenship and focuses on law enforcement. >> the right course for america is to drop these lawsuits against arizona and other states that are trying to do the job barack obama isn't doing. i will drop those lawsuits on day one. i'll also complete the fence. and i'll make sure we have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence. >> ifill: but the state g.o.p. chairman says hispanic voters care about more than immigration. >> even if he talked to our... you know, to hispanics, immigration is not the top two or three issue. it's often down lower at number eight or nine. because, especially in colorado, a lot of hispanics-- in fact,
the vast majority of hispanics have been here for generations, and so while they often have family members that are... that are recent immigrants, and we certainly do see a growing immigrant community, they also have an understanding that the big issues, the most important issues are jobs and the economy, and they're really the direction that we're... that we're headed as a nation. >> ifill: gary segura agrees immigration may not be the most important issue for latino voters, but it can be a defining one. >> 87% to 90% of all latinos are within two generations of the immigration experience. so first of all, a majority of latino adults in the united states are foreign born. but second, a huge portion of those adults who are not foreign born are either the children of immigrants or the grandchildren of immigrants, upwards of about 90%. so when you speak ill of immigrants, you might be speaking ill of me, but you're almost certainly speaking ill of my parents or my grandparents. >> ifill: this underscores the challenge-- republicans haven't won a majority of the hispanic
vote in 40 years, even as the population continues to grow. federico pena, the former mayor of denver and a clinton-era cabinet member, believes the president will maintain that advantage. >> the good news is that then- senator obama thought, four years ago, that the latino vote was going to be critical in these targeted states, and i was part of that strategy. so we targeted nevada, we won. we targeted new mexico, we won. we targeted colorado, we won. we targeted florida, we won, and a heavy emphasis on the latino vote, and we're doing the very same thing this time, except this time, we started day one. >> ifill: christine mastin, a colorado immigration attorney who is volunteering for the romney campaign, still sees opportunity. >> i don't think anyone should take anyone's vote for granted, whether it's just...
if it's a latino vote, an american vote, an african- american vote, we shouldn't be taking anyone's votes for granted. and i think that we have a lot to offer the latino community. i think it was ronald reagan who said "latinos are republicans, they just don't know it yet." >> ifill: on november 6, colorado and the nation will discover whether ronald reagan's prediction proves true. >> woodruff: on our politics page, you can watch more of gwen's interview with pollster gary segura. and if you speak spanish or any other language, you can help the newshour make politics accessible to everyone. on our homepage, click "help us translate the election" to join our all-volunteer captioning and translation team. >> warner: next, the stepped-up drone war against al qaeda, and to ray suarez. >> suarez: in recent years, yemen has emerged as the hottest front in the war against al qaeda.
tonight's edition of "frontline" travels to the heart of the arabian peninsula nation. "guardian" journalist ghaith abdul-ahad, reporting for "frontline," gained rare access to militant strongholds. he visited several towns and met with insurgent leaders and fighters. here is an excerpt. >> reporter: this in a way is the heart land of al qaeda in yemen. this is where they've set up base five years ago, it is here in the rugged mountains where the leadership of al qaeda was based. >> reporter: this was the home of anwar al awlaki, killed last year in a u.s. drone attack. >> allegedly out of here where they can...
>> reporter: the approach to the town was heavily guarded by al qaeda fighters. >> this is their fortress. >> when you reach azan, you feel it's more sinister. the town is more desolate or empty, heavily guarded. they are very, very paranoid,. i had many conversations with judges, clerics and they wouldn't let us film, because no one was allowed to be filmed to even have his voice recorded by the camera. no one was allowed to carry a cell phone. >> reporter: ghaith was shown the site of the u.s. drone strike. >> we saw the spots where the son of the american preacher anwar al awlaki was killed.
>> reporter: the 16-year-old son of the al qaeda leader was a u.s. citizen. >> his son and aids of his friends were having diner and they were targeted by one rocket here, another rock threat, if you see this big circle targeted them, and then another rocket beyond this area. they say it an american targeted killing, for an american citizen. >> reporter: it was the time for afternoon prayers. the streets were empty. at this checkpoint, ghaith discovered one gunman was from somalia and another from afghanistan.
inside this booth by the side of the road, recruits were distributing al qaeda news letters. >> this isn't this kind of very, very isolated region, yet here's this organization have devoted a part of out resources to a media wing of the organization. it's a small office, but it's very sophisticated. that's why they are very, if you want to say, successful in their existence. >> reporter: they also gave away dvd's, including one called the survivors, about commanders who survived drone attacks. surviving or being killed in a u.s. drone strike is seen as a badge of honor here. >> >> suarez: drone strikes on militant targets in yemen are on the rise, as are targeted killings of insurgents there and
elsewhere. but who has the final say on the make-up of the so-called "kill list," the terrorists slated to be killed or captured? that was the subject of a "new york times" article today, and we're joined now by scott shane, one of the reporters on the story. scott at the very outset of your story, it's yemen, which we've just seen one of the sites of a u.s. drone strike, that pulls president obama into closer involvement with the planning of the use of drones, isn't it? >> that's right. as you know, the bush administration stepped up drone strikes in pakistan in the last six months or so of his presidency in the second half of 2008. but president obama not only greatly escalated the strikes in pakistan in 2009, 2010, and they dropped off a bit in 11 and 12, but there's still quite a few strikes in pakistan. but president obama began strikes in yemen at the end of
2009, and they have been stepped up considerably recently as al qaeda has seized more territory in yemen. >> suarez: beside escalating the number of strikes and moving them to yemen as well, has the process changed from the bush days? >> yes. we were very interested to discover that president obama deliberately took a very central role in this program. he insisted on reviewing names that were going to be named to the so-called kill or capture list. and he has approved all strikes outside pakistan and many of the more riskier complex strikes inside pakistan since he became president. he wanted to, instead of wanting to keep at a distance from this lethal program, he actually wanted to be very much part of it. >> suarez: you describe at length the interest, the
responsibility he's taken for the program. if you could, give us a quick tour of the process. who's involved, how do they narrow down the list of possible targets to those that actually are hunted by the drones? >> well, there's one process for the c.i.a. and pakistan that is pretty much within the agency at c.i.a. and it's quite secretive. then there's a separate process run by the pentagon for yemen and to a much lesser degree somalia. and that is a much more open process. it is a classified process, it's secret. but they invite input from dozens of officials at other agencies, all of whom get together in a video teleconference, and discuss what they call the nominations. people are nominated to this list and they look at the picture and biography of a suspected terrorist. somebody says this is who this guy is and this is why we
think he qualifies for the kill list. others we're told can be a contentious process, others can say why are you calling him a facilitator of al qaeda, what does it take to be a facilitator of al qaeda, if you deliver food to a compound where al qaeda fighters are, does that make you part of their group? that kind of thing, and it can be a contentious process that can require multiple meetings to put one name on the list. >> suarez: it was perhaps inevitable with such a largest ka lation in the use of drones that unintended targets would be hit, people would be killed that the u.s. didn't want. what was the president's reaction as far as you've been able to establish in your reporting to the killing of civilians who were not intended? >> well, one point that the administration makes is that there is a dispute over the extent of civilian casualties in the drone strikes. everyone pretty much agrees that they are far, far smaller
than the casualties if there were a conventional war, say we invaded pakistan, we invaded yemen, as we did iraq and afghanistan, in order to hunt down the terrorists and kill them. so that the numbers are relatively small compared to a conventional war. but the president apparently reacted quite strongly to a bad strike in pakistan very early in the first days of his presidency. and has kept pressing the agencies involved to minimize civilian casualties. but there's also been some dispute over the way civilian casualties are counted. the c.i.a. often counts able-bodied males, military agent males who are killed in strikes as militants unless they have concrete evidence to sort of prove them innocent. and some folks at the state department elsewhere have questioned that kind of a process. >> suarez: so if you're a man
who is killed on the pakistan-afghan border or in the field in yemen, you're considered a legitimate target whether you're a known terrorist or not? >> that's right. in pakistan they have what they call signature strikes, where the drones are looking for the signature of a terrorist compound, a bomb making factory, that kind of thing, as opposed to an individual. and they have introduced in yemen a new kind of strike which also allows them to take a shot at someone whose name they don't know as long as there's evidence of that person is a high level terrorist, posing a threat to the united states. >> suarez: has the controversy over arresting people and trying them very quickly made it easier, simply, to kill them? >> that is certainly something that critics raise, that the obama administration prefers to avoid the messy controversies over detention and interrogation that the,
and trial that the bush administration went through, to, you know, just to get rid of terrorists the easy way, so to speak. administration officials i must say deny that. they say it's virtually impossible to capture people in these rugged tribal areas of yemen and pakistan, and that they do prefer to capture terrorists when they can. >> suarez: scott shane of the "new york times", thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> woodruff: finally tonight, a conversation with one of the nation's leading writers. the president paid tribute to former supreme court justice john paul stevens, former universities of tennessee women's basketball coach, pat summitt, astronaut john glennn, and he honored madeline al wright the first woman secretary of state. >> madeline's courage and toughness helped bring peace to the balkans and paved the
way for progress in some of the most unstable corners of the world. >> he called bob dylan one of the most influential american >> warner: he called bob dylan one of the most influential american musicians of the 20th century. >> by time he was 23, bob's voice and unique gravely was redefining not just what music sounded like but the message it carried and how it made people feel. >> warner: dolores huerta helped cesar chavez, helping found the organization that became the united farm workers of america in the '60s. >> without any negotiating experience, she led a worldwide grape boycott that forced growers to agree to some fo the country's first farmworker contracts. ever since, she's fought to give more people a seat at the table.
>> warner: and toni morrison, one of the nation's most celebrated novelists. >> toni morrison's prose brings us that kind of moral and emotional intensity that few writers ever attempt. "song of solomon" to "beloved," toni reaches us, deeply using a tone that is lyrical, precise, distinct and inclusive. she believes that language arcs towards the place where meaning might lie. >> woodruff: the honor comes as morrison has just published her tenth novel. jeffrey brown recently talked with her about it and her life of writing. >> brown: she would win the nobel prize for literature in 1993 and become known internationally. but in the early 1950s, toni morrison was a young student, and aspiring actress, in fact, at howard university in washington, d.c., just learning about the wider world. >> i was so confident and capable.
the future was, you know, right there at your fingertips. and i was so happy to be among what i hadn't had when i was in ohio, african-american intellectuals. and that was the company i wanted to keep, and i found it here at howard. >> brown: in her new, novel, "home," morrison has revisited the early '50s, telling the story of frank money, one of many black soldiers returning from the korean war to pre-civil rights era america. hearing that his sister is dying, money makes his way across a country filled with institutional and casual racism, heading for the rural georgia town he thought he'd escaped and where he would never return. unlike her memories of her college years, it's not a happy portrait. and when we talked recently at the newly restored howard theater, morrison, who's now 81, said she very much intended that. >> i've noticed how people think of it as a kind of golden age,
you know-- post-war, lots of money, everybody was employed, the television shows were cheerful. and i think we forgot what was really going on in the '50s. >> brown: what did we forget? >> we forgot mccarthy, anti- communist horror. we forgot that there was a war that we didn't call a war, called a korean "police action." and it was a violent time for african americans. >> brown: the "home" in the title is called lotus, georgia, and it's described... he describes it at one point as "the worst place in the world, worse than any battlefield." >> ( laughs ) that's right, and... >> brown: you sound like you enjoyed writing that line. >> true. because the whole journey back from wherever he was in the northwest, seattle, back to georgia, for a black man in 1952 or '53, was another battle.
dangerous, threatening. you needed close friends. and he has to wage a second fight. but this one i think leaves him with his manhood. >> brown: well, "manhood" is an interesting concept here. i mean, it comes up throughout the book, the idea of manhood and its opposite, "emasculation." is that a theme you wanted to explore? >> yes. what that means for a man and what it means for a black man, whose virility and whose manhood and adulthood is constantly threatened or belittled, and he "has to prove himself." so that's why i took as a kind of semblance of how dangerous "manhood" was. and of course, as a black man you keep wanting to assert it, assert it because people are denying that. so what i wanted this character to do was to learn another way
to be an adult, to be a man. >> brown: in fact, when morrison won the nobel prize, she was best known for writing about african-american women in books such as "sula" and "song of solomon", and her most famous novel still, "beloved", winner of the pulitzer in 1988. it was based on a true story of a woman who killed her young child rather than have her returned to slavery. more recent novels include "paradise," "love," and "a mercy." i'm curious about what moves you to want to write a story. i saw where you recently told students at oberlin college that people say to "write what you know," you know, that classic line. but you said to them, "no one wants to read that because you don't know anything." >> ( laughs ) i said, "i'm not interested in your girlfriends and your grandmother. you don't know anything. write about something you've never, ever thought about before." and of course, i'm right and wrong. i mean, people write great books about what they know.
but i was trying to jolt them into some other area. but for me, it's not quite that. i always have questions that i can't answer by just thinking about it. what was it really like? how did she actually kill those children? and so i'm asking those questions in "a" book or "b" book or "c" book. here, i was interested in what was it like before the late '60s and '70s? there was something. and it wasn't what i remember. there was something going on in the country that really became the seeds and the little green shoots that became the civil rights movement and the anti- vietnam war movement. >> brown: i saw in a recent profile where you talked of visiting a college campus
and you were dismayed to see that many of your books were taught more in law classes, black studies, feminist studies, not so much in the english department. >> it was not in the english department. >> brown: so what is going on? we still have categories of... >> not anymore. then, certainly. there were bookstores that agreed to do what african- american writers wanted, which was to have their own separate section and then...but what about the mainstream alphabet? i mean, can i be found under "morrison" or do i have to be there? and the same thing happened with other kinds of literature. they don't know whether to put you in a group because that's what you are looking for or to just let you float. >> brown: was that hard for you? >> i sort of wanted to be alphabetized. >> brown: you wanted to be with the whole... >> yeah, yeah. >> brown: one more thing about this book, about "home"-- one thing that's striking about this new novel is it's a very stripped-down form of story- telling, more than i think in the past for you. was that a conscious effort? >> yes.
sometimes, my editor would say "more." and i would say, "it's just 'more'; it's not better." i can write forever about anything of a character. but i wanted this to be... it's harder to write less to make it more. and that's what was engaging to me when i was writing this book. >> brown: in fact, the book, for all the horrors that we were talking about and the bad things, it ends with a sense of hope back at home. >> yeah, yeah, very much so. i withheld color from all the book. everything is either black or white or not mentioned, until he gets home, and then those cotton fields are pink before they turn, and then the trees. and he even says, "were the trees always this deep green?"
so all the palette is pushed towards the end, so the reader feels that comfort and safety of home. >> brown: all right. the new novel is "home". toni morrison, thanks for talk to us. >> my pleasure. >> woodruff: online, toni morrison reads an excerpt from her latest novel, "home." mall pox pipe near william fa fw ey, julian gordon lost, a polish underground officer during the haul cast, and a man who fought japanese american internment during world war ii. >> warner: again, the major developments of the day: the united states and other nations expelled syrian diplomats, expressing outrage over a weekend massacre in houla. northern italy was hit by a
second earthquake in less than two weeks. at least 16 people were killed and 200 injured. and stocks rose on hopes that china might move to stimulate its economy. the dow industrials gained nearly 126 points. online, we look at some amazing architecture as part of our "coping with climate change" series. kwame holman explains. >> holman: sea levels continue to rise and architects are designing structures that float, including homes, movie theaters and animal habitats. find a slideshow of some of the concepts on the "rundown" blog. curious about the cost of a house in big cities across the country? explore an interactive graph with the latest average prices on paul solman's "making sense" page. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. margaret. >> warner: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at student loan debt, now topping $1 trillion. i'm margaret warner. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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