tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC April 29, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PDT
the fbi is on the hunt for more people who may have played a role in the boston bombing. according to lawmakers, police are investigating persons of interest who may have radicalized the suspected bombers or trained them. >> we still have persons of interest that we're working to find and identify and have conversations with. >> there are persons of interest of the united states. we're looking at phone calls before and after the bombing. >> the way they handled these devices and the tradecraft leads me to believe there was a trainer. the question is where is the treanor or trainees? >> on sunday, a key piece of information emerged about why russian authorities first took an interest in tamerlan tsarnaev. russian intelligence wire-tapped a conversation tsarnaev had with his mother in which they discussed jihad and a possible trip to palestine. however american intelligence officials were only told about
this after the boston bombing. despite this, tamerlan and his mother were added to the u.s. terror database in 2011. lawmakers are questioning whether the intelligence community should have been better prepared for a possible attack. >> to me, there was enough smoke there that you know whether or not there was fire, there was enough smoke that that investigation should have been kept more active. >> it's a failure to share information and missing obvious warning signs, we're going back to the pre-9/11 stovepiping. how could you miss the fact that the guy you were informed by a foreign intelligence service, you got a radical in your midst. >> before announcing system failure, it's worth looking closely at the system itself. in 2011, america's terror database had 500,000 names. it currently has 700,000. one of the major hurdles for the intelligence community is the problem of centralization. a two-year "washington post" investigation into the u.s. intelligence community published in 2010 found more than 3,000 government organizations and private companies at work on
counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence. that includes the c.i.a., fbi, nsa, atf, dea, dia, dhs, coast guard, pacific command, strategic command and special operations crew. 854,000 people hold top security clearances. redub dancy is rampant. 51 federal organizations, 51 have military commands track money going to and from terrorist networks. retired army general john vines told the "washington post" about the u.s. intelligence system because it lacks a synchronizing process, it has reduced effectiveness and waste. we can't effectively assess whether it's makinging us more safe. joining us is rick hertzberg, and josh barrow, katrina vandenhuevel and distinguished senior fellow at demos, and bob
herbert and soing us from boston, nbc national investigative correspondent, michael isikoff. we just read a litany of statistics regarding how gigantic and perhaps unwieldy the u.s. intelligence network is. we have no doubt ramped up our counterterrorism activities after boston. is there a flaw in the system, namely, is it just too big to catch people like tamerlan tsarnaev and dzhokhar tsarnaev? >> excellent question, alex. while we're learning more and more each day about the tsarnaev brothers and who they may or may not have been in touch with, we're learning a lot more about this multiplicity of databases and various government entities. and what their different roles are and how the intelligence was still not being shared here. we know, for instance, that tamerlan tsarnaev was on at least three different government databases. the government, the fbi, guardian file when they got the original tip from russian
intelligence. the homeland security's text file, tecs database, used for questioning people at airports. and then there's this tide master terror database maintained by the national counterterrorism center. yet, somehow the basic information was not shared among all those entities, the c.i.a. didn't know that the fbi had done this initial investigation of, of tamerlan tsarnaev after getting the russian information. the homeland security fusion center didn't know in boston, which was supposed to fuse all the intelligence, wasn't aware of this. didn't know about the report to the c.i.a. from the, from the russian fsb. so clearly, you're hearing a lot of frustration from members of congress saying hey, we've spent billions and billions of dollars that that's supposed to promote information sharing and have a central uniform database that
people could tap into. what we found is the system apparently is still not working. >> michael i want to open this up to our panel in new york. katrina, i did not realize there was a department of homeland security fusion. i want to read a bit from the top secret america series that the "washington post" ran. and they write analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year. a volume so large that many are routinely ignored. after things like boston, i think the knee-jerk reaction which it isn't necessarily to say that it's the wrong one, but we talk about building up the security infrastructure. or making it stronger or more comprehensive. 50,000 reports, we have 33 buildings that have been built since 9/11 to handle intel. it's a city here for security and yet -- are we any more effective? >> part of the problem is that we've launched a hypermilitarized war on terror. it should never have been a war on terror. terror is an odious ideology.
it should have been better intelligence police, law enforcement and tough political diplomacy. but what we've created is a national security state that is beyond these numbers are unfathomable. and it is doing more to undermine our democracy than make us more secure. how can you -- who can follow these figures? and that very good piece you cited, the dana priest story in the "washington post" a year or two ago. what underlines so much of this is we're not talking about the fact that in the four successful or attempted attacks on american soil by muslims, they tell us that it is the grievous horrific attacks on in iraq, in yemen, in afghanistan, that have prompted their retaliation against us. now that's not ignoring religious fanaticism which we see in the tsarnaevs. but it should not, the political grievances should not be ignored. on russia i will simply say
today, there's very good investigative reporting in russia, though would you think putin had cracked down on the entire press. but there's a publication that a reporter worked for allegly killed bychechens. their work continues on and they're reporting today that tamerlan tsarnaev, when he was in dagestan, met with two muslim extremists, one-half palestinian, the other a canadian-russian boxer and there's enormous work going on in the northern caucasus right now by russian journalist which is we would benefit from studying. >> josh, it is difficult, there are a lot of moving pieces here. i want to focus on the needle in a haystack. jonathan turley writes in an editorial "u.s.a. today." two brothers made bombs with common pressure cookers. they placed devices in one of the most surveilled areas of boston with an abundance of police presence and walked away. no one is seriously questioning the value of having increased
surveillance at events. as 1,000 paper cuts from countless new laws slowly kill our privacy, we might want to ask whether a fishbowl society will make us safer or just make us feel that way. >> i think that's right and i real will i question the premise that it indicates a policy failure here. that this attack happened. obviously the attack is terrible. deaths from terrorism are terrible. but when you look at the statistics. the number of americans who die in terrorist events in a given year, it's extremely rare. you'll see numbers like 20, 30, 40. when we have a policy that's aimed at cancer or at car accidents or at workplace safety, we don't say that we're looking for a failure rate of zero. we realize that would be implausible. the costs of that would exceed the benefits. i think that the fbi missed this apparent threat. but you think about how many apparent threats are brought to their attention that aren't really threats at all. 700,000 people on terror watch lists, there aren't 700,000 really dangerous people out there likely to commit terrorist attacks. if you have a policy that reduces false negatives like
this one you'll generate a lot more false positives. we have so many people working on anti-terrorism in the government. a huge expansion is unlikely to produce benefits tha t cost. in order to get comfortable with that, people have to realize we're not going to reach zero terrorism. there will be rare deaths from events like this. and like any other kind of crime or any other societal ill. we have to figure out how to minimize the problem in an effective way, not how to get it all the way to zero. >> and how to deal with it so it doesn't fracture the american psyche the way it has. >> michael i want to ask you about the latest in the investigation because katrina was quoting information from a russian newspaper. we know there's been a bit of back-and-forth about what the russians knew, when they knew it should they have been more forthcoming with the united states intelligence officials about what they knew. can you give us an update on that? >> well, clearly, the original russian report did not provide the information we're now getting and learning that the russians had that generated that
report. particularly these wiretaps of the mother. with tamerlan in which there are discussions about a visit to palestine and other, other information that could have led to a more expansive fbi investigation. but i suspect fro everything we're getting, it also sounds like the russian's own investigation was far from complete. and some of this recent reporting suggesting that there were more expensive ties during tamerlan tsarnaev's visit to dagestan and particularly people he met, may have met with at that radical mosque there. are clues that they may not have had. how much surveillance, one thing we don't know is what kind of police surveillance there was on tamerlan tsarnaev during his time in dagestan i think that's something that both the russians and the fbi is trying to figure out right now. so there are clearly, i mean as this week has gone on.
since we first, the days have gone on since the bombing, we're learning more and more about threats that make it clear that the investigation is far from over. although the initial impulse of the fbi is to say -- that they've got their guy and that they have no direct evidence of other accomplices. clearly, they are looking at other persons of interest, there are threads in the reporting, nbc did over the weekend about the agree honda and how it showed up, green honda how it showed up at the scene in watertown with the carjacked mercedes suv, that's not consistent with the original fbi affidavit of the two brothers driving the suv there alone. how did the green honda get there? very good question which a lot i think there clearly are more beats to this that we're going to have to see play out over the next days and weeks. >> bob, one of the questions i think will be turning over and
may never have an answer to is the issue of radicalization and what happened to tamerlan tsarnaev when he went over to russia, if in fact that was the locus of his radicalization and thomas friedman, think it's a very controversial in some ways, but raises interesting questions and did so this weekend in the "new york times." he writes, we must ask a question only muslims can answer. what's going on in your community that a critical number of your youth believes that every american military action in the middle east is intoll ranl and justify as violent response and everything muslim extremists do to other muslims is ignorable and calls mostly for silence. we've been asking ourselves as americans what we've done to engender this rage, right? >> i'm reluctant to just sort of take the broad look at things. just use the broad brush. i think that what we're dealing with here is the banality of evil that hanna behrent talked
about. a couple of men in the boston area, i'm not sure what it is that the fbi or the c.i.a. or anybody else would or could have done to prevent this attack. i haven't seen anything and everything that i've been reading, to show that there was any suggestion that there was evidence that they were about to pull off a bombing, certainly nothing in the boston area. you know, so i just think that we have to be a little cul if you're talking about numbers like 700,000 and 8 00,000 on terror watch lists and that sort of thing. what are you going to do? are you going to follow everybody? are you going to violate all kinds of laws having to do with civil liberties? i think that you have to at some point accept even though it's difficult and this is a horrendous tragedy. you have to accept that in a free society, which ours still is, you cannot stop every terror attack. >> rick, is that, josh, josh is saying here that we have to saying we have to accept the reality that you can't catch
everybody and create a state of constant surveillance. do you think america is ready to learn that lesson or accept that lesson? >> one of the big lessons of this it seems to me is that this giant system, this huge haystack that we've created, is very good at one thing -- it's very good at investigating a crime once it has been committed. i mean it was very impressive how quickly these alleged perpetrators were caught after the event. but predicting a crime is something else. i mean there's science fiction movies about this. of course we've got thismm bureaucracy. there's so much information coming in. it can't all come in to one place. it's got to be parcelled out to various places and then filtered up. and there's a lot, there are a lot of what dick cheney would call unknown unknowns here. we don't know how much attacks have been thwarted or headed off or discouraged by this immense structure. all we know is the ones where -- >> that aren't. >> that doesn't work. what you said is exactly right.
u o no system is perfect. and this one is very good again at criminal investigation after the fact. but prediction is another matter. >> it is entirely a different matter. thank you to nbc's michael isikoff up in boston. michael, we'll be coming to you throughout the week, i hope. coming up, to act or not to act? we'll look at the delicate foreign policy decision hanging in the balance amid growing concerns that the syrian government has gone over the red line when nbc's richard engel joins us next on "now." [ female announcer ] switch to swiffer per, and you'll dump yur old broom. swiffer sweeper's electrostatic dry cloths attract and lock dirt, dust, and hair on contact to clean 50% more than a broom. it's a difference you can feel. swiffer gives cleaning a whole new meaning.
to use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations crosses another line with respect to international norms and international law. and that is going to be a game-changer. after declaring the use of sem cal weapons inside syria, a red line that would precipitate action, a reluctant facing calls for direct military intervention. >> i think the options aren't huge, but some action needs to be taken. >> they need a no-fly zone which could be obtained without using u.s. manned aircraft. we could use patriot batteries and cruise missiles to take out their air. and to supply the resistance with weapons. >> let's give the right weapons to the right people. one way you can stop the syrian air force from flying is to bomb the syrian air bases with cruise missiles. you don't need to go deep into syria to do that.
>> despite british, french and israeli intelligence saying that the syrian government has deployed chemical weapons, on fox news sunday. the american ambassador to israel sounded less than assured. >> our military has made an assessment. and the assessment looks like there's a high probability of usage. it's not definitive proof of course. >> the administration has taken a similar stance. arguing against definitive action until more evidence is on hand. >> the president wants the facts. and i'm not going to set a timeline. because the facts need to be what drives this investigation. not a deadline. >> but theur of proof held less sway with john mccain. >> our actions should not be dictated on by whether bashar al assad used these chemical weapons or not. first of all. sooner or later he most likely would. >> mccain's somewhat cavalierer attitude toward wmds may sound
strange coming after america's misadventure in iraq, but some lessons have been learned, mainly an aversion to boots on the ground. >> boots on the ground. >> boots on the ground. >> the worst thing the american, the united states can do right now is put boots on the ground. >> if troops are out, what remains? back in february, syria's humanitarian crisis led the u.s. to announce $60 million in nonlethal aid. while signing off on qatari and saudi arabian arms shipments to rebels. many rebel groups have direct ties to al qaeda and the increasingly islamist dominance in the opposition have left the administration few good options in a country that's seen over 70,000 people killed since the start of the 2011 uprising. consensus seems to dictate that something be done. an administration that spent its first term focused on winding down the wars in iraq and afghanistan now finds itself confronted bay foreign policy crisis and political debate that is at least in part one of its
own making. >> i can tell you there is regret about the red line comment. because if you -- >> in the white house. >> in the white house in this respect. you don't draw -- they meant it, they do mean it on the chemical weapons. but saying it creates this political conversation. they didn't want to go public last week that they had this, that this early evidence yet. they weren't ready. and yet they knew congress was going to get this briefing and that it was all going to get out. so they decided to go public with it. last week because they felt they had no choice. >> joining us now is nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel. let's talk a little bit about what chuck said on "meet the press," which is that the administration regrets the read line comments. it seems like they're between a rock and a hard place on this in terms of w45 to do next. >> the administration doesn't want to get more involved in syria. that's been very clear for a couple of years now. there was one cartoon that was in the leading arabic dailyve the end. and it showed,shink is
revealing. it showed president bashar al assad dancing over red lines. and it was written bay syrian cartoonist who is popular among the opposition who had his hands broken by the regime. there's great disappointment in the arab world, certainly among the syrian rebels that the united states has not taken a stronger stance. that's in general. not necessarily on this particular claim of the chemical weapons. because the claim does have some questions. surrounding it. there's a lot that seems confusing about it. but the larger question is, is it just about this claim? just about this incident? or should the united states be doing more to control or at le sittion that is very dangerous, very deadly, very chaotic and destabilizing? not just for syria, but for lebanon, for iraq, for israel at the end of the calculation. >> and katrina, we talk a lot about the political calculus here and how republicans are spinning it or democrats are managing it.
at the end of the day this is a humanitarian crisis. >> yes, it is. >> and there are comparisons to genocides in rwanda, and sudan. there's a question of whether president obama as jeffrey goldberg said, as a moral man cannot do anything about this crisis and maintain his sense of morality. >> well richard has seen this closehand, and 70,000 killed, millions displaced. but i don't think there are any good military options, i think we need to double down on the humanitarian crisis and find ways to deal with that. it's not, there's a great diplomat named lochtar brahimi, from the united nations. who was there for iraq and let's not forget about iraq and afghanistan, when we talk about syria. our involvement in those countries has not necessarily benefitted the civilians in those countries, i think you need a political negotiated settlement that may sound far-fetched, but we are talking
about russia before there needs to be a coalition. we do need russia. we need to engage and we need to keep doing that. because the military options are not only going to make lives worse for civilians, but walter pinkus in the "washington post" raised a very important question. if we're still a nation of the rule of law what is the legal basis for air strikes. put aside the boots on the ground that discredited people like john mccain, with all due respect on the first amendment shouldn't be allowed on tv. this he were disgraced and discredited for the other two wars. the military force after 9/11 was designed to attack those countries who posed an imminent threat and were involved with al qaeda. i'm not sure where syria, air strikes, others and finally the militarization of nonproliferation. we need to find other ways to deal with proliferation. of chemical weapons. >> let's unpack these things one at a time. there are branches of al qaeda,
the front that worked with al qaeda in the past has engaged in the opposition rebel movement. i want to talk about the human toll here because you are someone who has been to syria. >> the human toll is horrible and i've spoken with rebel who is said it like this. the house is burning. and the united states has a water bucket and it's not using it. this is what they say all the time. and if you have something and you can do something, to prevent the house from burning down, you have a responsibility, a moral responsibility. that's the way they see it whether the united states wants to be in that position or not, they see us having a water bucket that we're not using. there are bases in turkey and nato would be the framework that most people think would be the one to be used that are just a few miles away from where the refugees are crossing and from where the people are dying and those nato air bases aren't doing anything. and it is hard to tell, to look the syrian opposition in the eyes and say yes, we understand you all are dying, but we're
worried that some factions who are in among you who are fighting and dying, we don't like them very much. >> there's a piece in the new yorker last week, the river martyrs we lose site of the violence that's been befallen the syrian people. >> he writes the park in a neighborhood of aleppo was a public playground called cobbler's garden. now it's a makeshift cemetery known as the garden of martyrs, none of the dead have been identified, all were discovered in the a river at the end of january, 110 murdered men and boys were fished out and laid on a concrete bank. their hands bound behind their backs, their skulls broken by bullets. the killings bake gnome as the river massacre. this is, people wait at this river to see the bodies float down. these are kids that went last seen on their way to school, found dead with their hands tied behind their back and wire around their next. >> yes. that's true. i've seen images of this river
i've been to aleppo. these kind of things are happening not just there, and if you don't do anything, there's a couple of possible options. one, is what we've been doing now, which is really not much of anything. we've been supplying some humanitarian assistance, we've been supporting lochtar brahimi who said he wasn't able to find a diplomatic resolution to this. that's the strategy, which i think right now we may be at a tipping point in terms of that strategy, with something happened on the chemical weapons front. they were used but not in a big way. and that's still relatively unclear. the fact that you have a former israeli official saying that hezbollah is trying to get more access to these weapons already. not just a theoretical threat in the future. and the huge refugee problem. soon it's going to be very hot in jordan. and these refugees are in tents and it's going to be even more miserable for them. and every day, more and more people are crossing out of syria
into the neighboring countries. that's not sustainable for a long time. >> indeed -- >> s do-nothing strategy or the do very little has a serious risks. now the maximum strategy, which is one of military intervention, no fly zones, maybe that's too much? maybe that's not sustainable. maybe it's not too much domestically for the u.s. to swallow. it's not like anyone is talking about going into iraq with hundreds of thousands of troops over years and rebuilding the country. but if you set up no fly zones, you do take ownership a little bit of the conflict. >> and then there's the question of what end game is, at what point you are done doing your work in sirria as you said at the beginning, the white house does not want to deal with syria. but i think they have to deal with syria. >> how far? how far in do you go? do you take some ownership of no fly zones in northern and southern, of the country? maybe the iraq model, previous iraq, the no fly zones that were there after 1991.
>> iraq i. >> which did provide some sort of civilian safe cover. but wasn't a full-on military engagement. maybe that's a model? there are other options other than do nothing. >> nbc news richard engel, thank you for joining us. coming up, politics, celebrity and media came together this weekend in washington, we'll bring you some of the best lines of this weekend's white house correspondents' dinner. what the fertilizer explosion in west, texas reveals about our treatment of the american wor r worker. hey! did you know that honey nut cheerios has oats that can help lower cholesterol? and it tastes good? sure does! wow. it's the honey, it makes it taste so... well, would you look at the time... what's the rush? be happy. be healthy. befo i do any projectsh on on my own. what's the rush? at angie's list, you'll find reviews
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some jabs at the press and some of his political opponents, the biggest target was on his own back. >> i, look, i get it. these days i look in the mirror and i have to admit -- i'm not the strapping young muslim socialist that i used to be. i understand second term, need a burst of new energy, try some new things. and then my team and i talked about it, we're willing to try anything, so we borrowed one of michelle's tricks. >> takes a strong man to put on his own bangs. the highlight of the night was a mockumentary. >> i needed someone who could dive in and really become barack obama. and as it turns out, the answer was right in front of me all
along. daniel day lewis. >> was it hard playing obama? i'll be honest, yeah it was. the accent took a while. hello ohio. hello ohio. i love you back. look, let me be clear about this. >> the cosmetics were challenging. you wouldn't believe how long it takes to put these ears on. >> those ears. after the break, could the texas fertilizer plant explosion have been prevented? perhaps if osha had visited the west, texas facility at any point in the last 28 years. we'll discuss, next on "now."
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something terrible happened in texas, on april 17th, a fertilizer plant in the small town of west exploded, killing 14 and injuring over 160 people. it flattened homes within a five-block radius and destroyed nearby buildings, including a middle school and a nursing home. federal, state and local investigators are still looking into exactly what caused the fire and subsequent explosion. but early indicators point to the dangerous chemical ammonium nitrate, as well as widespread negligence on the part of regulators. although a handful of federal and state agencies were responsible for oversight of the plant it appears to have slipped through the regulatory cracks rather easily. the plant reportedly had more than 1300 times the legal amount of the highly explosive ferlt lieser, ammonium nitrate and in addition to holding 270 tons of the chemical. the plant had no sprinklers, fire walls. osha, the agency tasked with the enforcement of safety and health
regulations had not inspected the plant in 28 years. but even the inspections that did take place raise questions about the quality of our regulatory system. osha's inspection in 1985 revealed serious violations, including improper storage and handling of ammonia. the fine for these violations? $30. and federal regulators weren't the only ones at fault. regulators at the state level also missed the mark. according to the "new york times," inspectors with the texas feed and fertilizer control service had made at least 35 visits to the plant since 2006. including one april 5th. 12 days before the blast. with such widespread and mortal failuren their hands, you would think texas might be ready to rethink its lax regulations, but that seems unlikely, given the lone star state's anti-regulatory climate. following the explosion in west, governor rick perry said he remained comfortable with the level of state oversight and called the demands for regulatory change quote a little premature. in a "new york times" op-ed a texas professor wrote to
understand how deep the state's regulatory resistance runs, one need only to listen to attorney general. earlier this year he was asked what his job entailed. i go into the office in the morning, i sue barack obama and then i go home. no one embodies that anti-regulatory zeal more than rick perry had has taken his one-man show against government intervention all around the country. last week perry took his speech to illinois where he pitched employers to bring their business to texas. land of low taxes and even fewer regulations. a week before his visit, two days before the explosion, perry ran an ad that read quote, with rising taxes and government interference, your situation is not unlike a burning building on the verge of collapse. there is an escape route to economic freedom. it's time to check out texas. what's clear is that someone, with some amount of oversight had better check out texas and check it out soon. joining us from washington is
staff writer for "in these times" magazine, mike elk, thanks for joining us. >> good to be on the show, alex. >> thanks for your writing on this, mike, it was your piece that really brought to the fore in my mind, that we've done a very bad job in the media of covering this and covering the larger issues which is prections in the workplace for the american worker. tell us about the unwinding of osha in terms of its efficacy. >> the biggest problem as you brought up earlier with osha is the maximum penalty for employer committing a willful safety violation that results in the death of a worker is $7,000, so there was just a worker who got killed in north dakota and the maximum fine because they added up a kim of different safety violations is going to be $3,000. for a lot of big companies, these are just the costs of doing business and the possibility that an employer might go to jail that creates a safety condition that leads to the death of a worker is very slim. since 1970, there have been 360,000 workers who died on the job, but only 8 4 criminal
prosecutions. reason is the maximum penalty for committing a safety violation that results in the death of a worker is six months in jail. in comparison, if you chase a wild burro on to federal land, it's a year in jail. a lot of prosecutors aren't willing to take this up. on top of this. osha is severely underfunded. it has a budget of $558 million. at the number of inspectors it has, it would take osha 129 years to inspect every workplace in the united states once. so there's just many workplaces they're not even going. >> you know, it is, bob, we spend a lot of time talking about happened in in boston and it's horrible what happened up there and you look at what's happening to the american worker, no the just in terms of wages and indignities that the middle class and the working poor have to suffer through. but in terms of actual fatalities and survival on the job, it's shocking to me as mike points out that osha can only afford to inspect plants like
the one in west only once in every 129 years. and the mean about regulation being an enemy to american business, has a stranglehold on the equity of american workers nationally. >> we have a loss of perspective. we have a loss of perspective when we're comparing terror attacks and we talk about the number of people who are killed with guns or the number of workers who lose their lives in the workplace. and we have a loss of perspective when we think about the imbalance of power between corporations and workers in this country. so what do we do? the politicians are going to the mat to get ever fewer regulations for corporations. while at the same time, making sure that the workers are prevented from organizing to collectively negotiate on their own behalf. in the workplace. that would lead not just to improved wages and job security and that sort of thing, it would improve safety in the workplace. >> rick, you know, mike pointed out in one of his earlier articles, that walter cronkite's
coverage of the 1968 mine explosion in farmington, west virginia led to the 1969 coal mine health and safety act. these kind of horrible things like thene in west take place, and yet, there's no groundswell of suppor there's certainly no groundswell of legislative activity to prevent accidents like that from happening in the future. >> none at all. and really this accident, this horrible thing that happened in texas is part of a bigger pattern. there's, yes, there's texas, and we know what to expect from texas. but it's, it's related really to the loss of middle class incomes. to the fact that all the economic growth since the beginning of this recovery, has gone to the top 001%. these things are all part of one pattern of political weakness and political distortion. >> and mike, you also, i mean you were, did not mince words about media coverage in the role
media has of being more tenacious about this. the reality is that millions of people in the u.s. live and work in the zones around high-risk chemical plants. what more needs to be done? >> well i think there needs to be a lot more workplace safety corage "in these times" magazine we've prided ourselves on the amount of workplace safety coverage. it's not just workplace safety that doesn't get covered. texas state university came out with a study that showed between 2008-2011 the number of stories that focused on workers on national news was .3%. .3% of all stories on network news are about workers. if you walk outside, most people have a job but we're not covering what people do every day in the media from 9-5. >> we're talking about a very small slice of america, that we cover, discuss and legislate around. the sequester cuts are a fantastic example of that. the faa furloughs have been done away with.
but today, unemployment checks are being cut by 11% and very little is being done to address that concern. >> i think there's a bias in coverage, it would have been bet fehr there was more west coverage and less boston coverage. >> legislatively there's a bias. >> but it's important to maintain some perspective on statistics. the american workplace is getting safer. the odds of dying at work are down about a third over the last 20 years. about 60% of the deaths that do happen fall into two categories, transportation accidents and workplace violence. to strategies to deal with those are part of overall strategies to deal with transportation safety and reducing violent crime. i think while there are likely regulatory changes that should be made in the wake of the disaster in west, i think governor perry is correct to say it's premature to respond in the sense that it would be premature to say that some specific regulatory response is the correct one. the number that keeps getting battered around with the 1300 times, that's a reporting requirement to the department of homeland security, you're allowed to have that much, you just have to support it but i don't know that the dhs is the right department to be reporting
it to. >> but, judd, it's important that they reported to the ammonium nitrate to dhs. because dhs would have required them to construct blast walls around that. >> or have sprinklers perhaps. >> and workplace deaths going down is not true in the state of texas. since 1992 deaths have gone down by a third in the workplace. but in the state of texas they remain high and a big reason for that is it's one of the most anti-union states in the country. quite frankly the way osha works is osha is not going to show up to a workplace unless they get a complaint from a worker. a worker who is scared of losing his job sun likely to do that. in some states workplace deaths have gone down. in nonunion states like texas they've remained stubbornly high. >> mike elk from "in these times" magazine. thanks so much for joining the program. coming up, congress learns a lesson on using spellcheck.
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president obama has not signed the faa bill that would protect air traffic controllers from furloughs. not because of a veto, but because of typos. katrina, congress is back in session on may 6th. i don't think should sign the bill to begin with. >> take advantage of a typo. all right? and use leverage. this administration hasn't been great at using leverage. use leverage to restore funding for programs that hit the
working poor, people we were talking about before. people who work at plants like those who worked in west, texas. restore that kind of funding, they get the shaft in washington, their voices aren't heard enough. those who buy our politicians get too much good stuff. >> we're talking about head start, meals on wheels, plenty of people that are facing these sequester cuts that i'm sure would appreciate a reprieve. unfortunately we have to leave it there. thank you to rick, josh, katrina and bob. bob had a 17, 37-line statement he wanted to use, we'll get it online later. that's all for us, "andrea mitchell reports" is coming up next. i had enough of feeling embarrassed about my skin.
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the fbi the information they had regarding the mother and the son and their views on the mother's radicalization and the son's radicalization. it would have dramatically changeded investigation. >> where is the tipping point on syria? pressure increases on president obama to take action. >> the world is watching, we've got 70,000 dead people in that part of the world as a result of bashar al assad. we as america have never let something like that happen before. we've taken action. >> more than just syria, iran is playing attention to this, north korea is paying attention to this. >> but even john mccain is raising the caution flag on u.s. military action. >> the worst thing that the united states could do right now is put boots on the ground in syria. that would, that would turn the people against us. >> and a bold and brave move today by nba center, jason collins. plus and