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tv   Washington Week With Gwen Ifill  PBS  August 24, 2013 2:00am-2:31am PDT

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gwen: rinot -- riots in egypt, evidencein syria and of spying at home. we look back at the march in washington, tonight on "washington week." more red lines crossed in syria. >> what we've seen indicates big eventis clearly a of grave concern. when you start seeing chemical weapons used on a large scale and, again, we're still gathering our information about this particular event, but it is very troublesome. >> there's no reason, if there's hide, for the regime not to let the investigative team in. gwen: more tough choices in egypt. >> what we're doing right now is theg a full evaluation of u.s.-egyptian relationship. >> we have the same objective. to see a democratic system in place in egypt.
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it ahn mccain and i called coup because that's exactly what it is. gwen: and new disclosures about ofernment surveillance american citizens. >> i think that the trust of the american people in their at staket is what's here. gwen: a trio of late summer dilemmas, plus -- 50 year later, we look back at the march may have changed america. gjelten the week, tom of npr, alexis simendinger of real clear politics and michael fletcher of "the washington post." >> award-winning reporting and analysis, covering history as it happens. our nation's capital, withis "washington week" gwen ifill. corporate funding for
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providedon week" is by --. >> we went out and asked people isimple question, how old the oldest person you've known? we gave people a sticker and had them show us. we learned a lot of us have lived wellne who's into their 90's and that's a great thing but even though we're living longer, one thing hasn't changed, the official retirement age. the question is, how do you make money you needhe ?o enjoy all of these years >> additional funding for is provided byk" foundation,g corporation for public broadcasting, and by to your pbss station from viewers like you. thank you. again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: this week proved again why
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nothing is simple. the terribleout pictures of apparent chemical attacks in syria. take with the nation, a long-time ally that a democrattically elected leader in favor of a and who government should americans trust when the people we pay to protect us begin spying on us. in a cnn interview today, the president spoke to the critics and.s. inaction in syria egypt. >> we remain the one indispensable nation. reason why, when you listen to what's happened around everybodysyria, that asks what the u.s. is doing, it's because the united states one country be the that people expect can do more simply protect their borders. gwen: but in syria, at least, means turning to the u.n. rather than the u.s., alexis? >> that's right. we heard from the president
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today in the interview and certainly from the white house this week was an effort to try to the united nations and united states allies abroad work on both the investigation of what happened with the alleged chemical attacks but also to try to apply pressure on the situation to try to assess where things go from here. the white heard at house earlier this week was, oh, let's take a long pause and try the facts arewhat on the ground and let the u.n. inspectors investigate and what heard from the president today, he said on the interview there, he didn't think would be cooperation from the assad government which suggests considerg to have to other options simultaneously. we know there have been meetings, there will be more at the white house. we know the administration has options it is considering, it considering, about what -- how to proceed but the verydent seems to be concerned about not only the
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u.s. pressure to lead but also public's desire not to lead. gwen: tell me about this red issue, tom, because we -- the president is the one who "red line" and seems to be back pedaling ever since. what is the line the administration is waiting? state department spokeswoman who we heard from earlier was asked about this said the red she line was already crossed some time ago and we took action, question, now,e what was the raction -- action that we took? talk of providing more supplies, not even arms, more forces soo the rebel clearly the administration has walked way back from that idea that there was going to be something dramatic. what president obama originally said would change the calculus of what we do but what he said a legal that without
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mandate to go into syria, it would be very hard to do it. if he's going to use that as the criteria for intervention in syria, it's never going to happen. gwen: if a legal mandate, we assume is the united nations. >> that's what he's talking about about. gwen: are we talking about a resolution? are we talking about joint -- i don't -- maybe that's the problem. >> the president was suggesting that based on what we know from donehe united states has this in the past, most prominently dealing with iraq, not a memory we enjoy, that there's a discussion of having the proveable evidence of weapons of mass destruction assad's used against own people, the syrian people. with that evidence, with some sort of independent verification of that, then the president's theesting that provides basis to go to the u.n. to seek forcet effort to try to assad to do something. as tom suggests, that's a very what we'ves and learned is, if the president
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wanted to use interim military abouts, you would think removing the u.n. inspectors who are already on the ground trying to get access to what is considered a battlefield. you would want to remove those then you would be undercovering your effort to get that independent evidence. gwen: one of the things the is the ideaid today that the u.s. can sail to the rescue is overstated. that?right about >> well, i think -- i think -- he hasu consider that already definitively ruled out boots on the ground, even if you some kind of mandate or legal foundation to do something, you're talking about missile strikes, air raids, that's not going to do it. the united states is not really in a position -- particularly the you think about reluctance of the military -- to make a major difference on the ground in terms of the outcome this conflict. gwen: let me read to a tweet that ambassador rice, the national security adviser, susan
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rice, sent out this afternoon. did fored it or someone her, "what is assad hiding," talking about bashar al-assad, ane world demands independent investigation of the c.w. immediately." is that what we're reduced to, the national security adviser our displeasure? >> the one promising development is that russia is now sort of endorsing the call for the u.n. actually haveto access to the chemical weapon attack sites and they are putting some pressure on the syrian government so clearly the administration is hoping that tough talk like this with a of help from russia might actually move that investigation. gwen: tough talk from the new u.n. ambassador, samantha powell. there's obviously talk from the u.n. secretary general. the president's trying to build of folks who are willing to press and what tom is
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suggesting about russia that's russia is, of course, an ally of assad and his soime and an arms supplier, to get -- remember this relationship that the united on icehas put sort of for a while with russia, and to russia to joinin this effort, might be profitable yetome ways that we don't know. gwen: syria wasn't the only agenda. there was egypt, which continues to unravel and the u.s. continues to struggle over what, if anything, to do about that. the president's cnn interview. egypt isse is with that the aid itself may not interimwhat the government does, but i think say isst americans would that we have to be very careful about being seen as aiding and that we thinkns run contrary to our values and
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our ideals. gwen: this from judy woodruff's interview this week with egypt's the u.s., mohamed tawfik. >> the u.s. assistance to egypt is part of a strategic partnership that serves both countries enormously. situation son basically we would like it to win-win to be a situation, particularly since we agree on the objective. the: do we know what objectives are anymore, tom? he'sactually think that right, that the united states and egypt sort of do agree on some things. states has a very clear interest in egypt being -- be committed to the camp david accords to continue to be committed to the of suez canal. those are really important strategic interests and it's thatinly my impression this administration is willing to bend over backwards not to break that relationship. you see the great reluctance of
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call it astration to coup and to cut off aid definitively. gwen: not call it a coup. >> not call it a coup. they may cut some partial aid shipments in order to say they've done something but it's pretty clear that don't want to with egypt. gwen: there's all this dancing going on and this is what really allicy is about but it still strikes me that at some point the objectives they've agreed on is who should run egypt. >> the objectives -- that's right. sayingsident has been repeatedly and the administration has said theatedly that this is for egyptians to decide. this is an effort for democracy and there's been an effort to use rhetoric to enjoin to interim government to try restore peace. one of the things the president has said today that i thought he interesting about egypt, talked about syria and our u.s. interests, he talked about our he talkedinterests, about them in a different way
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with egypt but he said that there is no way to go back to and afterings were mohammad morsi was overthrown now been detained in prison without any legal again ande's saying again that the relationship will change but he's not saying how this review, how long this review of the u.s. assistance you continue to run out and know at the white house there was all this effort this week to talk about how the u.s. relationship in terms of military and other aid is not a spigot. the president knows not only is this like a credit card in which been buying tanks and this will also affect the u.s. economy. jobs are people whose depend on some of these tanks and weapons going forward and so president's thinking about the long-term interests. gwen: he used that phrase. he kept talking about the
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long-term interests, u.s. and egypt. bute said we wasn't go back this week hosni mubarak was released from prison. celebrations in tahrir was imprisoned. he is no longer the symbol of egyptian people the way he was. >> because of their economy. gwen: so the symbol is the who replaced him. when we talk about aid and whether it's a spigot and should be cut off, it's not just the u.s. which doesn't want u.s. aid also the region. >> not only that, gwen, the u.s. and saudioff aid arabia has already said it will make up for anything the united europe cut off to egypt so if all that aid is simply replaced by saudi aid, what's been accomplished? gwen: the national security
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council has been meeting about a daily basis,on every day they say they're meeting but they won't tell us what happened. do we have any idea what's on the table? is ie review part of it think going to go on for a continued period of time. there has been no indication that they want to say that to come to a conclusion about that but there was vigorous discussion about u.s. review of assistance of aid but the insident, i think, re-emphasizing in the cnn interview that he's talking interests, ig-term think he's also talking about american interests, too. unresolved were also debates this week within our borders over secrets and surveillance. the military court convicted bradley manning for releasing control of secret documents to leak and the partner of journalist glenn suspensionas held on
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to edwardonnected snowden and the national security council said it may emailsen connecting after all yet we're told the president is confident this is not a problem at all. soone reason i think they're confident is because in congress, the people who know program onout this the intelligence committee, both democrats and republicans, have part been solidly in support of it, with a few whiting and- ron senator udall -- but mostly this issue.a partisan you see democrats and republicans alike in positions of authority endorsing it and i isnk the administration thinking even though there was a thee vote on funding for surveillance program in the future, i think the administration is thinking once dust settles this program will go ahead and they'll have congressional support for it. about allcurious these things that links them together is credibility for the president. alexis, do they worry about that? >> absolutely.
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you could hear the president in a series of questions, again and whether it was, at his news conference or in the cnn interview, the question is about whether his word is his deed, whether he has measured up to expectations, not only that had for him on or abroad or his own expectations being honeste's about what it is that the americans are looking at and with, absolutely. i think that the credibility and government means trust in him. gwen: that's what you're hearing, as well. it at the beginning, gwen. no easy answers. i think that there actually is some sympathy for the difficulty of the positions that the united with. is dealing gwen: thanks to both of you. we end tonight with a look back at over 50 years at the historic march on washington for jobs and freedom. a quarter million people of all colors, genders and ages capital to the nation's on an august wednesday, 1963, to
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march peacefully for civil rights. it's remembered as the moment reverend martin luther king jr. delivered the "i have a dream" speech. "washington post" reporter michael fletcher interviewed some of the people that were there. we talked about what else that day. they came by plane, train, automobile and by foot to be the march on washington, an estimated 250,000 people converged on the lincoln memorial on that hot august day 50 years ago this month. people forget it was really hard to get that many people in one place 1963. come together?ch >> it's interesting. the idea for the march actually years beforeted 22 it occurred, phillip randolph, wantedous labor leader, to have a march on washington at
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proteste to discrimination in the war industries and segregation in wasarmed forces but that the war.r. desegregated industry but 22 years later, in aftermath of the murder of edgar mevers, he felt it was time to converge on washington and make this demand but it was audacious because in those days mass marches didn't happen. wasn't used as a political tool in this country. big, audacious idea and it was pulled together in eight or 10 weeks. mentioned, a.you phillip randolph, and another you mentioned was behind the organization. byron rustin. >> back in 1963, this is an openly gay black man at the center of the civil rights movement and he was attacked, of
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course, people in congress him, strom thurmond talked about his lifestyle in a undermine the planning for the march but it byron rusten who brought the together, got all the word out. and he was able to organize the march and bring people to washington and no one knew it would end up being a quarter people. you just had no way of know this kind of thing. >> and the faces in the crowd, not just black faces. it wasn't like someone got up in pulpits and said, you go to washington. i was struck looking at the integrated itow was. >> that was one of the great triumphs of the march. rightsk of the civil movement, we think about the inegrated kind of movement some ways but at that time i ofnk there were a lot questions in america about what is the civil rights movement.
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a felt threatening and like black southern movement and the march brought it into focus for most americans and for a global audience, in a way that it was an american movement, a revolution. the integrated nature of the march helped that along. >> yet the kennedy administration was nervous enough about potential for violence in a march of this type and the president attorney general were like, i don't know if this is a good idea. in fact, he had some of the leaders into the white house. >> he did and think of it, they had the march on a wednesday. the liquor all stores in d.c. they had army reserves on notice to come into the city if things turned violent. and kennedy didn't know what to it, let's face it. he was worried that all these people are coming to washington, is an unheard of kind of phenomenon in those days so he wanted to be hands-on. so it was interesting, after the march, he had the leaders come back to the white house and congratulated them on the great success. >> president kennedy invited us
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down to the white house. he stood in the oval office and us, shook each one of our hands. proud like a beaming father. you could see it all over him. was so happy and so pleased that everything had gone so well. gwen: in your piece for the smithsonian, you talked to a lot were there that day and some who spoke. how did they look back on that 50 years vantage? >> looking back now, if they 50-year retrospective, everyone sees it as a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, when the civil rights movement grew into an international human rights regional not just a race based kind of thing. prickedomething that conscience. wateredis, his speech
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down out of concern of being too radical. civil rightsut the bill not going too far enough. with the advantage of time century,ack a half a everyone says it was an astounding moment. gwen: we look back at the onversation that is went leading up to the march and the coverage since, it's almost all about the "i have a dream" speech. you mention john lewis' radical which even watered down was pretty tough but not so not how it'ss remembered. >> it's interesting. people obviously talk about and everyoneeech remembers "i have a dream" but the original in addition notione march was a march for jobs and economic justice and the freedom added on as at result of the civil rights bill of medgarsassination evers. it was almost a secondary thing everyonet's a thing remembers. another thing people remember
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when they look back, they say that's the part of the agenda fulfilled. you look at economic disparities in this country remain. have madeericans great progress, with this and that, but you have huge disparities in terms of income, in terms of unemployment rates. they're almost identical to what were in 1963. gwen: even dr. king's speech, he note.about a promissory he talked about what americans were owed. he wasn't just talking about integration. >> no, not at all. he was talking about economic justice and you saw where he the years following the march, the poor people's campaign and all of that and his efforts to try to lift so many african-americans and others out of poverty. focus.s his birad rusten talked about that. he wrote a speech after the march saying the roots of discrimination are economic and the economy, the economy in this country has to shift for the real reality of people's lives changed. gwen: looking back now 50 years
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entirethere's an generation, a couple of generations of people going down and looking at the martin luther king memorial and the only monument in washington to a nonelected official and he's a black man and a lot of that init tied up in the very fact of its existence. 50 years later, though, if king able to stand in that spot and look out, what is the legacy that some people say we have a black president, everything's much better, and we have so much farther to go. >> i think it's mixed. tocourse there's no way diminish the astounding sense of having a black president. that would have been unthinkable. imagine someone saying that from podium 1963. that would be a great dream but it's a reality. legacy.art of the there's been obviously great growth in the black middle class. doinge african-americans all kinds of things in all walks of life so that's part of the
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legacy but you still have this 27% roughly of african-americans living in poverty. that's huge and that hasn't improved that much over the last 30 or 40 years. it was great improvement through that, thatbut after progress slowed so that's part of the legacy. inre's been great progress education but not enough. that's part of the legacy. any inner city and look at the housing. you have prosperous andcan-american communities poor ones so you have a mixed legacy and it speaks to the need struggle to continue. >> it has been one of the great of america and i think this as one of thedown greatest, if not the greatest, for freedom and then dignity ever held in united states. lookingoking back and forward. for more, be sure to watch "the
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documentaryone-hour on the story behind that day, tuesday, august 27, at 9:00 p.m. on most pbs stations. our webcast extra streams live beginning at 8:30 p.m. tonight eastern time and all weekend long at pbs.org/washingtonweek. week one you next "washington week." good night. >> prudential. additional funding is provided thehe annenberg foundation, corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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