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clapper is doing then is going to see if we can determine any lessons learned from what happened. >> are you getting all the intelligence and information you need from the russians? and should americans be worried when they go to the big public events now? >> the russians have been very cooperative with us. since the boston bombing. obviously, old habits die hard. there's still suspicions sometimes between intelligence and law enforcement agencies that date back 10, 20, 30 years. back to the cold war. but they're continually improving. i've spoken to president putin directly. he's committed to working with me to make sure that those who report to us are cooperating fully. in not only this investigation, but how do we work on
counterterrorism issues generally. in terms of what -- the response of the american people, i think everybody can take a cue from boston. you don't get a sense that anybody is intimidated when they go to fenway park. a couple days after the bombing. there are joggers right now, i guarantee you, all throughout boston and boston and cambridge and watertown. and i think one of the things that i've been most proud of in watching the country's response to the terrible tragedy there is a sense of resilience and toughness. and we're not going to be intimidated. we are going to live our lives. and people, i think, understand that we've got to do everything that we've got to do everything we can do prevent these kinds of attacks from taking place. but people also understand, in the same way they understand after a shooting in aurora or
newtown or virginia tech, or after the foiled attempts in times square or in detroit. that we're not going to stop living our lives because warped, twisted individuals try to intimidate us. we're going to do what we do. which is go to work, raise our kids, go to ball games, run in marathons. and at the same time, we're going to make sure that everybody's cooperating and is vigilant and doing everything that we can, without being naive, to try to prevent these attacks from happening in the future. jonathan karl. >> mr. president, you are 100 days into your second term. on the gun bill, you seemed to put everything into it to try to get it passed. obviously, it didn't. congress has ignored your requests. you got 92 democrats in the
house voting question. my question to you is, do you still have the juice to get the rest of your agenda to this congress? >> well, if you put it that way, jonathan, maybe i should just pack up and go home, golly. you know, i think it's a little, as mark twain said, rumors might be a little exaggerated at this point. but we -- you know, we understand that we're in a divided government right now. republicans control the house of representatives. in the senate, this habit of requiring 60 votes for even the most modest piece of legislation has gummed up the works there. and i think it comes to no surprise, not only to the american people, but even members of congress themselves, that right now things are pretty dysfunctional up on capitol hill.
despite that, i'm actually confident that there are a range of things that we're going to be able to get done. i feel confident that the bipartisan work that's been done on immigration reform will result in a bill that passes the senate, passes the house and gets on my desk. and that's going to be an historic achievement. and i've been very complementary of the efforts of both republicans and democrats on those efforts. it is true that the sequester is in place right now. it's damaging our economy. it's hurting our people. and we need to lift it. what's clear is that the only way we're going to lift it if we do a bigger deal that meets the test of lowering our deficit. and growing our economy at the same time. and that's going to require some compromises on the part of both democrats and republicans. i've had some good conversations with republican senators so far.
those conversations are continuing. i think there's a genuine desire on many of their parts to move past not only sequester but washington dysfunction. whether we can get it done or not, you know, we'll see. but i think, you know, the sequester is a good example. or this recent faa issue is a good example. you will recall that even as recently as my campaign, republicans were saying skwe in sequester is terrible, says that disaster. it's going to ruin the military. it's going to be a disaster for the economy. we've dot to do something about it. then when it was determined that doing something about it might mean that we close some tax loop holes for the wealthy and well connected, suddenly it was, well, you know what we'll take the sequester. and the notion that somehow we
had exaggerated the effects of the sequester. remember? the president is crying wolf. he's chicken little. the sequester, no problem. then in rapid secession, suddenly white house tours. this is terrible. how can we let that happen? meat inspectors, we've got to fix that. and most recently, what are we going to do about potential delays in airports? so despite the fact that a lot of member, congress were suggesting that somehow the sequester was a victory for them and this wouldn't hurt the economy, what we now know what i warned earlier what jay stood up here and warned repeatedly is happening. it's slowed our growth. it's resulting in people being thrown out of work. and it's hurting folks all across the country. and the fact that congress responded to the short-term
problem of flight delays by giving us the option of shifting money that's designed to repair and improve airports over the long term, to fix the short-term problem, well, that's not a solution. essentially what we've done is we've said, in order to avoid delays this summer, we're going to ensure delays for the next two or three decades. >> why did you go along with it? >> hold on a second. so, the alternative, of course, is either to go ahead and impose a whole bunch of delays on passengers now which also does not fix the problem. or the third alternative is to actually fix the problem by coming up with a broader, larger deal. but, you know, jonathan, you seem to suggest that somehow these folks over there had no responsibilities, and that my job is to somehow get them to
behave. that's their job. they're elected, members of congress are elected in order to do what's right for their constituencies and for the american people. so, if in fact they are seriously concerned about passenger convenience and safety, then they shouldn't just be thinking about tomorrow or next week or the week after that. they should be thinking about what's going to happen 5 years from now, 10 years from now, 15 years from now. the only way for them to do that is for them to engage with me on coming up with a broader deal. and that's exactly what i'm trying to do. is continue to talk to them about are there ways for us to fix this. frankly, i don't think that if i were to veto, for example, this faa bill, that that somehow would lead to the broader fix. it just means that there would
be pain now, which they would try to blame on me. as opposed to pain five years from now, but either way, the problem's not getting fixed. the only way the problem does get fixed is if both parties sit down and they say, how are we going to make sure that we're reducing our deficit sensibly? how are we going to make sure that we're investing in things like rebuilding our airports and roads and bridges and investing in early childhood education, basically all the things that are going to help us grow. and that's what the american people want. just one interesting statistic when it documents airports. there was a recent survey of the top airports in the country -- in the world. and there was not a single u.s. airport that came in the top 25. not one. not one u.s. airport was considered by the experts and consumers who use these airports to be in the top 25 in the world. i think cincinnati airport came
in around 30th. what does that say about our long-term competitiveness and future? and so when folks say, well, there was some money in the faa to deal with these furloughs. well, yeah, the money is this pool of funds that are supposed to try to upgrade our airports so we don't rank in the bottom of industrialized countries when it comes to our infrastructure. and that's what we're doing, we're using our seed core short term. and the only reason we're doing that right now, we've got folks unwilling to make simple changes to our tax code, for example, that close loopholes that aren't add to get competitiveness to help middle class families. so that's the long way of answering your question. but the point is, that there are common sense solutions to our problems right now. i cannot force republicans to
embrace those common sense solutions. i can urge them to. i can put pressure on them. i can, you know, rally the american people around those common sense solutions. but ultimately, they themselves are going to have to say we want to do the right thing. and i think there are members, certainly, in the senate right now, and i suspect members in the house as well, who understand that deep down. but they're worried about their politics. it's tough. their base thinks that compromise with me is somehow a betrayal. they're worried about primaries. and i understand all of that. and we're going to try to do everything we can to create a permission structure for them to be able to do what's best for the country, but it's going to take some time. bill plante. >> mr. president, as you're
probably aware, there's a growing hunger strike on guantanamo bay with visitors there. is there any surprise they would prefer death rather than have no end in sight for their confinement? >> well, it is not a surprise to me that we've got problems in guantanamo. which is why when i was campaigning in 2007 and 2008, and when i was elected in 2008, i said, we need to close guantanamo. i continue to believe that we've got to close guantanamo. i think that, you know, i think it is critical for us to understand that guantanamo is not necessary. to keep america safe. it is expensive. it is inefficient. it hurts us in terms of our international standing. it lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts.
it is a recruitment tool for extremists. it needs to be closed. now, congress determined that they would not let us close it. and despite the fact that there are a number of folks who are currently in guantanamo who the courts have said could be returned to their country of origin or potentially a third country. i'm going to go back at this. i've asked my team to review everything that's currently being done in guantanamo. everything that we can do administrativively. and i'm going to re-engage with congress to try to make the case that this is not something that's in the best interest of the american people. and it's not sustainable. i mean the notion that we're going to continue to keep over 100 individuals in a no man's land, in perpetuity, even at a
time when we've wound down the war in iraq. we're winding down the war in afghanistan. we're having success defeating al qaeda core. we've kept the pressure up on all of these transnational terrorist networks. when we've transferred detention authority in afghanistan, the idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried, that is contrary to who we are, it's contrary to our interests and it needs to stop. now, it's a hard case to make because, you know, i think for a lot of americans the notion is out of sight, out of mind. and it's easy to demagogue the issue. that's what happened the first time this came up. i'm going to go back at it because i think it's important. >> you must continue to force
feed these individuals? >> well, i want want these individuals to die. obviously, the pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best they can. but i think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this? why are we doing this? i mean, we've got a whole bunch of individuals who have been tried who are currently in maximum security prisons around the country, nothing's happened to them. justice has been served. it's been done in a way that's consistent with our constitution, consistent with due process, consistent with rule of law, consistent with our traditions. but an individual who attempted to bomb times square, in prison, serving a life sentence. individual who tried to bomb a plane in detroit in prison, serving a life sentence. a somali who was part of al shahad who we captured, in
prison. so we can handle this. and i understand that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 with the traumas that had taken place, why for a lost americans, the notion was somehow we had to create a special facility like guantanamo and we couldn't handle this in a normal conventional fashion, i understand that reaction. but we're now over a decade out. we should be wiser. we should have more experience in how we prosecute terrorists. and this is a linger iing probl that is not going to get better. it's going to get worse. it's going to fest per. so i'm going to, as i said before, examine every option that we have administratively to try to deal with this issue.
but ultimately, we're also going need some help from congress. and i'm going to ask some folks over there who, you know, care about fighting terrorism, but also care about who we are as a people to step up and help me on it. chuck todd. >> mr. president, thank you. maximum -- max baucus, the democratic senator. other democrats whispering nervousness about the implementation, and the impact it might have on the political campaign in 2014. why does senator baucus, somebody who extensively helped write your bill believe that this is going to be this, and why do you think he's belong? wrong -- >> well, i think anytime you're implementing something big,
there's going to be people who are nervous and anxious about is it going to get done, until it's actually done. but let's just step back for a second and makes sure the american people understand what it is that we're doing. the affordable care act, obama care, has now been with us for three years, gone through supreme court tests. it's gone through efforts to repeal. a huge chunk of it has already been implemented. and for the 85% to 90% of americans who already have health insurance, they're already experiencing most of the benefits of the affordable care act, even if they don't know it. their insurance is more secure. insurance companies can't drop them for bad reasons. their kids are able to stay on their health insurance until they're 26 years old.
they're getting free preventive care. so there's a whole host of benefits, that for the average american out there, the 85% to 90% of americans who already have health insurance, this thing has already happened. and their only impact is that their insurance is stronger, better, more secure, than it was before. full stop. that's it. they don't have to worry about anything else. the implementation issues come in for those who don't have health insurance. maybe because they have a preexisting condition, and the only way they can get health insurance is to go out on the individual market. and they're paying 50% or 100% more than those of us who are lucky enough to have group plans. people who are too poor to get health insurance and the employers don't offer it. maybe they work for a small business, and the small business can't afford right now to
provide health insurance. so all the implementation issues that are coming up are implementation issues related to that small group of people, 10% to 15% of americans, now, it's still 30 million americans, but relatively narrow group who don't have health insurance right now or are on the individual market, and are paying exorbitant amounts for coverage that isn't that great. what we're doing is setting up a pool so they can pool together and get a better deal from insurance companies. and those who can't afford it, we're going to provide them some subsidies. that's it. that's what's bleleft to implem. because the other stuff has been implemented and it's working fine. the challenge is that setting up a market-based system, basically an online marketplace where you can go on and sign up and figure out what kind of insurance you
can afford. and figuring out how to get the subsidies. that's still a big complicated piece of business. and when you're doing it nationwide, relatively fast. and you've got half of congress who is determined to try to block the implementation and nod adequately funding implementation. and then you've got a number of members of -- or governors, republican governors, who know that it's bad politics for them. to try to implement this effectively, and some even have decided to implement them and then the republican-controlled state legislatures say don't implement them. when you have that kind of situation, it makes it harder. but having said all of that, we've got a great team in place. we are pushing very hard to make sure that we're hitting all the
deadlines and benchmarks. i'll give you an example. a recent example. we put together initially a -- an application form for signing up for participation in exchanges. there was initially 21 pages long. immediately, everybody sat around the table and said, well, this is too long. especially in this age of the internet. people aren't going to have the patience to sit there for hours on end. let's streamline this thing. so we've cut what was a 21-page form now down to a form that's about three pages for an individual. a little more than that for a family. well below the industry average. so those kinds of refinements we're going to continue to be working on. but i think the main message i want to give to the american people here, despite all the hew and cry and the sky is falling predictions about this stuff.
if you've already got health insurance, then that part of obama care that affects you, it's pretty much already in place. and that's about 85% of the country. what's left to be implemented is those provisions to help the 10% to 15% of the american public that is unlucky enough that they don't have health insurance, and, by the way, you know, some of you who have health insurance right now, at some point, you may lose your health insurance. and if you've got a preexisting condition, this structure will make sure that you're not left vulnerable. but it's still a big undertaking. and what we're doing is making sure that every single day, we are constantly trying to hit our marks so that it will be in place. the last point i'll make, even if we do everything perfectly, they'll still be glitches and bumps, and there will be stories that can be written that says,
oh, look, this thing's not working the way it's supposed to. and this happened. and that happened. and that's pretty much true of every government program that's ever been set up. but, if we stay with it, and we understand what our long-term objective it is which is making sure in a country as wealthy as ours, nobody should go bankrupt if they get sick. and we would rather have people getting regular checkup it's and going to the emergency room if they don't have health care. if they keep that in mind, then we're able to drive down costs. we're going to be able to improve the efficiencies in the system and see people for better health care and that will save money as a whole. >> with the cooperation, a handful of governors that you can fully do this? >> i think it's harder. there's no doubt about it. we will implement it.
we have bakeup federal exchange. if states aren't cooperating, we set up a federal exchange so people can access that federal exchange, but, yes, it puts more of a burden on us. and it's ironic, since all these folks say they believe in empowering states, that they're going to end up having the federal government do something that we'd actually prefer states to do. if they were properly cooperating. last question. anthonietta. tell those big guys to get out of your way. >> two questions, there are concerns about the appeal from the gun bill in the house and the senate. it seems to be a more conservative proposal. is there room for a more conservative proposal than the
one presented in the senate? and second, in mexico, yesterday, the mexican government said all contact with the u.s. law enforcement will now go through a single door the federal interior ministry. is this change good for the u.s. relationship with mexico? do you think the area of security and cooperation can be maintained? >> all immigration reform, i've been impressed by the work that was done by the gang of eight in the senate. the bill that they produced is not the bill that i would have written. or elements of it that i would change. but i do think that it meets the basic criteria that i laid out from the start. which is we've got to have more effective border security, although it should build on the
greater improvements that have been made on border security over the last four to five years. we should make sure that we are cracking down on employers that are gaming the system. we should make the legal immigration system work more effectively. so that the weights are not as burdensome. the bureaucracy is not as complicated. so we can continue to attract the best and the brightest from around the world to our shores in a legal fashion. and we want to make sure that we've got a pathway to citizenship that is tough, but allows people to earn over time their legal at a time tuesday here in this country. and, you know, the senate bill meets that -- those criteria. in some cases, not in the ways that i would, but it meets those
basic criteria. and i think it's a -- you know, it's a testament to the senators that were involved that it made some tough choices and made some tough compromises in order to hammer out that bill. now, i haven't seen what members of the house are yet proposing. and maybe they think that they can answer some of those questions differently or better. and i think we've got to be open minded in seeing what they come up with. the bottom line, though, is they've still got to meet those basic criteria. does it make the borders safer? is it dealing with employers and how they work with the governments to make sure that people are not being taken advantage of or taking advantage of the system. are we combruimproving our lega
immigration system? and are we creating a pathway for citizenship for the 11 million or so undocumented in this country. and if they continue that commitment, i think we should be able to come up with an appropriate compromise. if it doesn't meet those criteria, then i will not -- you know, i will not support such a bill. so we'll have to wait and see. when it comes to mexico, i'm very much looking forward to taking the trip down to mexico to see the new president, this will be the first extensive consultation since it will be an opportunity for his minister, my cabinet members to participate to hammer out these issues. a lot of the focus is going to be on economics. we've spent so much time on security issues between the
united states and mexico that sometimes i think we forget this is massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border. we want to see how we can deepen that. how we can improve that and maintain that economic dialogue over a long period of time. that doesn't mean that we're not going to be talking about security. i think that in my first conversation with the president, he indicated to me that he very much continues to be concerned about how we can work together to deal with transnational drug cartels. we've made great strides in the coordination and cooperation between our two governments over the last several years but my suspicion is that things can be improved. and some of the issues that he's talking about really have to do with refinements and improvements in terms of how mexican authorities work with each other.
how they coordinate more effectively. and it has less to do with how they're dealing with us per se. so i'm not going to yet judge how this will alter the relationship between the united states and mexico until i hear directly from them to see what exactly are they trying to accomplish. but overall, what i can say is that my impression is that the new president is serious about reform. he's already made some tough decisions. i think he's going to make more that improve the economy and security of mexican citizens and that will improve bilateral relationships as well. and i don't want to leave out that we're also going to be talking to costa rica, the presidents of central american countries, many of whom are struggling with both economic issues and security issues, but
are important partners for us. because i think the vision here is that we want to make sure that our hemisphere is more effectively integrated to improve the economy and security of all people. that's good for the united states. that will enhance our economy. that can improve our energy independence. there are a whole range of opportunities and that's going to be the purpose of this trip. and i'm sure that those of you who will have the chance to travel with me will have a chance to discuss this further. thank you very much, everybody. thank you, guys. >> i'll say something about jason collins. i had a chance to talk to him yesterday. he seems like a terrific young man. and i told him i couldn't be prouder of him. you know, one of the extraordinary measures of progress that we've seen in this country has been the recognition that lbgt community deserves
full equality, not just partial equality. not just tolerance, but a recognition that they're fully a part of the american family. and you know, given the importance of sports in our society, for an individual who's excelled at the highest levels in one of the major sports to go out and say this is who i am, i'm proud of it, i'm still a good competitor. i'm still 7 foot tall and can bang with shaq. and, you know, deliver a hard foul. and you know, for i think a lot of young people out there who you know are gay or lesbian who are struggling with these issues to see a role model like that
who is unafraid. i think it's a great thing. and i think america should be proud of this is just one more step with this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly. and everybody's part of a family. and we judge people on the basis of their character. and their performance. and not their sexual orientation. so i'm very proud of him. all right. well, there you saw an example of a president, this president, relishing this question and grabbing hold of it because he really wanted to answer it. and the hour before a lot of questions that he was handling that he wasn't clear to be talking about. there's four headlines, one on syria that the president clearly wants to see more evidence that the regime of assad is using them. and not someone else. he wants to have enough information and proof, in fact, that he can take to the
international community to make that case that they have crossed that red line he talked about on sequestration, a fascinating phrase, permission structure. something he can bring to the republicans that would allow them to step back from their upcoming primaries and perhaps their very far right constituents and allows them a deal to get past sequestration. permission structure. and a range of options in syria. he would consider a new range of options militarily if it's clear they crossed the red line by use by the regime in damascus of chemical weapons. he also gave a strong backing. i thought, the way i thought he would to the immigration team, the gang of eight, bipartisan team that's come up with marco rubio, especially south of the border. but i think he wants that heat to go to them, not to him. therefore, a little bit leading from behind there. a lot of news today. we've got joining us right now,
kristen welker from the white house with nbc. joy-ann reid. barry mccafferty to help with military points and bill richardson. let me start with chrkristen he the president was -- what's the right word -- bothered a bit by some of these questions. the benghazi thing has almost become a right wing trope and raised by ed henry. an attorney for some of the state department officials that story dropped last night. they jumped on it this morning in the questioning. cnn followed up on that. let's start with syria. go to benghazi, what did you learn today? >> well, on syria, the president not ready to say whether that red line has been crossed in some sense he did not move the needle when it comes to syria. he said we can't confirm who used the chemical weapons in syria. you just mentioned the fact that
if he does, if he's able to confirm that that he would have to review his range of options. you'll notice, chris, he did not say specifically what that range would include. he sort of stayed away from getting into specifics. he sort of defends his handling of syria to date making it clear he's not going to officially declare that a red line has been crossed until he can confirm with certainty who used the chemical weapons, where specifically did they come from. on benghazi, you heard ed henry ask him about people wanting to testify in terms of what happened. the president said he wasn't able to answer that question. said he'd have to get back to ed henry on that. i found that interesting. one other point that jumped out to me, when he was pressed about his second term would he actually get some of his larger goals passed in the second term. the one thing he highlighted is immigration reform.
it sort of signals what he thinks is most politically viable. >> and he would be happy to have the front line team, the bipartisan team of eight out in front of this issue. i thought it was prettily astute. he's going for victory, not just talk. >> absolutely. i think that's right. remember, he didn't talk about guns. we talked about this as a leadup to the press conference. you heard the reporter ask him about guns. he didn't specifically talk about guns. he talked at the end about giving support to the bipartisan group but he also said he mapped out his own principles saying, look, if the house doesn't pass legislation that meets his principles, he won't sign off on it. i think you're right, he has aloud the gang of eight to take part in this and marco rubio and
senator schumer. >> let me go to general mccafferty, when the president says range of options, what are in terms of not exposing troupes to combat? how do we accomplish any military goal without risking lots of civilian casualties in damascus and certainly american casual this? >> well, i think his options are extremely limited. you know, at the end of the day, chris, we're not going to intervene on the ground in syria. it wouldn't make any sense, internal war, sunni versus shia. if we go after chemical weapons these things are fired out of scud missiles and rocket launchers, as well as air power. you have to take down the air defense systems if you do. the russians have given them fairly sophisticated air defense.
i think the bottom line is, unless there's massive use of chemical weapons which would provoke international outrage and justify ground intervention, he's got no real military options. >> how do we deal with those defenses, those mobile defense units that go around with all the rockets on them? they could park them in a middle of a playground, a school play ground, couldn't they? then we'd have hell to pay, morally, as well as militarily, to knock those things out? >> apparently he's dispersed a lot of these chemical missions, sarin and nerve agents and others. they're probably at brigade level so they're all out in the country striking them from the air, obviously could create secondary effects from chemical weapons also. so i just don't see the military option. except for ground intervention, with 150,000 troops as being likely to produce a result we would want.
>> well, let me go to governor richardson. governor, you've had an amazing career of coming into situations, almost like chinese gordon in solving these problems. my question to you is there a solution in syria? >> very unlikely. the president and secretary of state were trying to push the env envoy, a very capable man to re-engage and try to bring the sides together. the only possibility would be a change by russia at the u.n. security council putting more pressure on assad to get out. so the diplomatic solution, i think they're still hoping for one but very unlikely. i thought the president did lean forward on using some kind of military activity. my sense is that down the road, if there's a discovery of these
chemical sites, sarin sites, that there is kind of air strikes, some kind of protection for the rebels is going to happen. some heavy gear. the concern is there's some extremist elements in those rebels. so we have to rely on our military to tell us what might be effective. but i thought the president leaned a bit forward on moving. because the u.n. is going to establish very soon that there was sarin used. i think that is coming from the secretary-general of the u.n. so i think the president's policy change is going to happen soon. >> let me go to joy-ann reid. i believe, watching this, this guy, assad is going to hang in there. i believe they've got all kinds of doubts figured out. they're not going to submit themselves to the mercies. they watched saddam hide in a
sewer. they saw saddam hussein hanged. and sitting in a prison cell if he's lucky. these ends for dictators are not pleasant for the dictator or his family. i still don't get why he won't fight to the very end? why he won't use every resource he's gotten from every tie from the old soviet union to save himself. because no one's offering any alternative. >> yeah, i know. the president called syria a blemish on the world. we're not dealing with the father of bashar al assad. we're dealing with somebody who is a desperate figure. it doesn't seem likely that he's looking for anything but a fight for the end. it's interesting that the president did talk about the global peace of this because we need the russians to help with a global solution here.
i have to agree with general mccafferty, the idea of boots on the ground seems so unlikely. and i think the american people aren't ready for it. i think the president did sound cautious. he did say he's weighing his options. he's asked for a range of options. i didn't hear a bellicose president that seemed like he was ready to commit. i hear a president that is looking for a diplomatic solution and that's going to depend on the russians. >> i want to start with kristen welker. the president used an interesting phrase "permission structure." some way to reach the republican, cut through the hard-liners get through to boehner and try to get to the white house. we're waiting for an announcement on jobs for a military cause. a lot happening today. so you can understand every angle of your cash flow-
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welker at the white house while we wait for the hiring of the military veterans. isten, this whole thing about a permission structure. that was fascinating that he might have some formula to bring republicans to the bargaining table to end the sequestration? >> right, we have seen to start to see this play out behind the scenes. you've seen the president sort of reaching out to republicans he's had what is called a charm offensive, having dinner and lunches with republicans. at this point in time it hasn't yielded any actual results. i found it resting he also got a little defensive, chris. you heard him say, you suggest it's my job to get them to behave. that's their job. talks about members of congress. also a little on the defense here in terms of a sequester and whether or not a grand bargain is actually going to be feasible. but certainly, i think this administration and this president is beginning to rethink how they reach out to folks on the hill. because clearly, what they've been doing hasn't yielded the
type of results they're trying to get. >> i sometimes think that people think the president has more power than they has. we do have a balance of power. and franklin roosevelt couldn't get people who voted against him. let's go to michael izikoff following the bomben bombing. and has been visited himself guantanamo. michael? >> right, well, a couple things, first, chris, we just got a response from senator lindsey graham who the president took a little shot at during the press conference because of his criticisms of both benghazi and the handling of the boston bombing. and the president sort of made this dismissive remark about headlines. and senator graham responds that
agencies under your control failed to coordinate the handling of intelligence on the boston marathon bombings. so that's a pretty clear indication this is continuing to be of a political football. now here's the president did confirm that general clapper, the director of national intelligence has launched this investigation by inspectors general, into the handling of intelligence information prior to the boston marathon bombing. that, i'm told, is actually made a number of peoplensid the intelligence community a little uncomfortable. because inspectors general tend to find wrongdoing or find problems and people have been quite defensive. the president's comments about the handling of this, we're not exactly rousing endorsements, he said the fbi did what they were supposed to do. homeland security performed its duties. but this is hard stuff. i think that's a suggestion that he may not be entirely s
satisfied. yes they did their report, they didn't find derogatory information, check. homeland security did put him on the tamerlan tsarnaev on the watch list -- check. but how much information-sharing was there? when he went to russia, tamerlan tsarnaev, for that six-month period, how, and he comes back, did that cause anybody to rereview the situation? to see whether wehould do any further monitoring? that's i think one of the key questions here and i think reading between the lines in the president's remarks, it's very much an open question. one more thing on guantanamo, you mentioned, chris, this is the first time the president has mentioned guantanamo in quite some time. in fact we've been told that was one of the major reasons that provoked this hunger strike, now over 100 of the 166 detaineeinst
guantanamo on hunger strike. the frustration we're hearing from the detainees is that the president didn't even mention it in his state of the union, didn't even mention it in the inaugural speech. it was such a signature issue. clearly it's got his attention now, he's going to make another pitch to congress that they need to close guantanamo. the hunger strike has had an impact. >> i want to know what the solution is, michael. if you have people with criminal exposure, you can nail them with something for having committed a felony. you can put them away. but how about they're just committed jihadist, who say to your face, we're you're enemy, we can't wait to get out of here to strike at you again. we're up against people who declare war on us to our face, but yet haven't committed a crime. do we just release them to some other country? what do we do with them? >> look, if you break it down, you have three categories of detainees there. you have the hard-core, the
hard-core jihadis, the serve yus, high-value detainees. khalid sheikh mohammed, peethe people who did the 9/11 attack. they'll be tried before a military commission, it will take years, but a process is under way for at least the most serious of the people. that's a small number. then you have a much larger number, something li over 8 0, more than half the people there, who have been cleared for release, cleared for transfer. at least to return to their home countries. they haven't been tried for a crime. they've been there for over ten years, that's where you get the civil liberties folks and the people in the white house, who are, who want to close it saying this is where our biggest problem is. these are people we don't have evidence to charge them. >> the second one of them shows up in yemen on the other side involved in a terrorist attack. we say why did we let them go? you idiot, we let them go, we
told you they were the enemy. it's a tough one. >> you had a review by an interagency task force, three categories, the high-value detainees, they're being tried by a military commission. you do have the middle category, we believe they're committed jihadis, the kind of people you're talking about, but we don't have enough evidence to charge them. that's a tough one. then you have this third category, by far the largest, cleared for release, cleared for transfer, you can never be sure. if you don't have evidence to charge them with a crime, it's pretty hard to justify holding them indefinitely. >> michael isikoff. great reporting by our great investigative reporter. bill richardson. the former governor, what do you make of the immigration policy? >> the president is being careful in supporting the bipartisan approach. >> well, i see the gang of eight initiative as a good one on the path to citizenship i would have wanted to go farther. where i see the problem, chris, is in the house.
the house has said they're going to approach immigration reform piecemeal. my final thought on mexico, i think this is a new independent leader in mexico. we're not going to have the access to mexico's security apparatus that we did before. i think it's very important that the president and the new president of mexico establish a strong personal relationship. that's a relationship in the past that we always seem to ignore. >> i know. it's so important. it's our distant neighbor, as sb somebody once said, they're right there and we don't pay enough attention to them. last question, if seems to me, that the republicans if that's what they're up to the rolling approach. they want to about with the border security and they say somewhere later we'll pass another bill that had something to do with the legalization? >> yeah. that's really dangerous, saying there has to be progress on border security. who's going to certify that prr? what are we talking about? a reduction in people coming in. terrorists issues? i think what has to happen is
simultaneous path to citizenship enhanced border security, the senate report, the senate bill moves in that direction. but i worry when it gets to the house. they're going to try to play politics, dilute it. and i'm concerned about the prospect of immigration reform. which is so important. >> yeah. unfortunately, those districts and those republicans represent are 8 0%, very conservative on border issues, obviously angelo, they don't have large latino populations. thank you for joining all of us, alex wagner comes up next. ♪
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in the last hour, in the second press conference of his second term, president obama addressed the crisis in syria. an issue that has escalated since the administration went public last week with evidence that chemical weapons are being used. >> what's happening in syria is a blemish on the international community generally. we already are deeply engaged in trying to bring about a solution in syria. it is a difficult problem. but even if chemical weapons were not being used in syria, we'd still be thinking about tens of thousands of people, innocent civilians. women, children, who have been killed by a regime that's more concerned about staying in power than it is about the well-being of its people. so we are alread invested in trying to find a solution here. >> what that solution is, however, remains highly