tv PBS News Hour PBS April 4, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> ifill: southwest airlines canceled 70 more flights today and continued safety inspections after a five-foot hole opened in a jet's fuselage last week, forcing an emergency landing. good evening. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, the government and boeing today called for checks on older 737 planes. we look at what may be causing cracks in some of them, and what the troubles say about the safety of today's passenger fleet. >> ifill: then, president obama kicks off his 2012 reelection bid. we talk to newshour political editor david chalian.
>> woodruff: we have two takes on china's crackdown on activists. we excerpt pbs' "frontline" story about artist ai weiwei, who was detained by police yesterday. >> ifill: and jeffrey kaye reports from beijing on how some anti-government protests are tolerated, and some are not. >> critics here in china do have some latitude just as long as they don't overstep their limits. >> woodruff: jeffrey brown examines the justice department decision to hold military trials for alleged 9/11 mastermind khalid sheik mohammed and four other suspects at guantanamo bay. >> ifill: and tom bearden has the story of a program to heal wounded veterans just back from iraq and afghanistan. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> during the first year a humpback calf and its mother are almost inseparable.
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and by toyota. bnsf railway. and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the fallout from friday's event on southwest airlines flight 812 is still being felt. today the plane's manufacturer, boeing, said inspections of its 737's should be extended to older models, by all airlines. the f.a.a. said it would order an emergency safety order to require these special inspections, looking for cracks in the fuselage.
all this, after southwest today canceled 70 more flights, on top of 600 canceled over the weekend. in the wake of friday's incident southwest airlines grounded 79 older boeing 737- 300s in its fleet. today three of them were found to have small sub surface cracks similar to those suspected of playing a role in the emergency landing of flight 812. it was about 18 minutes into that flight from phoenix to sacramento when a five-foot section at the top of the plane's fuselage came apart at a seam. the pilots had to descend quickly from about 36,000 feet and made an emergency landing in yuma, arizona. no one was seriously hurt, but passengers say it was a frightening experience. >> almost passed out. i mean, your ears instantly start to hurt really bad. >> it was scary. i was one row from where the plane blew out.
you know, we all had that moment when we thought we were we weren't sure what was going to happen. >> woodruff: the national transportation safety board is investigating the incident and has sent a section of the jetliner's roof to washington for analysis. >> we have clear evidence that the skin separated at the lower rivet line. >> woodruff: n.t.s.b.officials say the area around the separation revealed extensive cracking that hadn't been discovered during routine maintenance. and probably wouldn't have been found unless mechanics had specifically looked for it. the plane itself underwent a week-long inspection last year. federal aviation administration records reportedly show that more than 20 cracks in the aircraft frame and clips, which hold the skin on, were found and repaired. but southwest airlines has had a history of maintenance problems.,in fact, issues with s
inspections for fuselage cracking led to a congressional hearing in 2008 and a multi-million dollar fine by the f.a.a. the f.a.a.'s then head of aviation safety said southwest knew there were problems. >> that an airline of southwest's reputation would ever think that flying passengers in non-compliant aircraft was appropriate is astounding to me. even more alarming and upsetting to me is that this was done with the implicit consent of one of my aviation safety inspectors. >> woodruff: there have, however, been no allegations of faulty inspections or maintenance with regard to this incident because checking the area around the tear for cracks is not mandatory for any airline. but late this afternoon, the f.a.a. ordered emergency check of the most heavily used boeing 737-300 for the kind of
cracks found on this plane. boeing is preparing a service bulletin that will detail what more rigorous inspections should be done. >> what will be different now is as a result of the service bulletin that boeing will be coming out with is they will be doing the inspection on these particular lap joints. before this accident it was not believed that the inspections needed to be done in this section of the airplane. >> woodruff: the investigation into what caused the failure of the fuselage of flight 812 could take a year. we take a closer look now at this roof incident and the questions it raises about airline safety with a former member of the national transportation safety board. john goglia has worked in aviation for more than 40 years, and has extensive experience in maintenance and mechanics. he's now an independent safety consultant who works with commuter airlines. john, thank you very much for talking with us. first off, how significant is this order just issued a few hours or an hour or so ago by
the f.a.a.? >> quite significant in dealing with this particular issue. what remains unanswered is what is going to happen to the areas adjacent to the damage of the rest of the airplane. most of our actions today and in the past have been reactive to events that have occurred. as these airplanes age at some point we need to do a complete body scan, if you will, on the fuselage to determine the condition not just look in the areas where we've had problems before but to be proactive and look at the entire airplane for a change. >> woodruff: what is it in this specific incident? we're hearing about these microscopic cracks in the second skin, the underlying surface of the airplane, and we're also hearing that that's not an area that's been inspected. why not? >> because we haven't had any problems there. you know, the whole maintenance program of all the airlines and the view from the
f.a.a. and the manufacturers has been wait until you see a problem and then we'll address it. well, as we get airplanes that are 15 or more years older at point we need to look at the airplane to say let's look and see if we can find out what's wrong with it before we have a problem. don't we do that with our bodies when we go for physicals. >> woodruff: that was going to be my question because it's just logical to think that as something like an airplane-- and we know that there are extensive inspections conducted-- but as these fleets get older, as you say, and in particular these older 737s which we're told take off and land very often, often on short hops, that they maybe have been sented to more stress than other planes. >> well certainly the more cycles the airplane has the more stress on the fuselage. we've known that for a long time. that's a good reason to watch the high cycle time airplanes and to do vigorous entire fuselage inspections on them to see if there's any evidence of damage.
i know it's time consuming. i know it's expensive. but we at least should take the fleet leaders, that is the airplanes, regardless of who is flying them that have the most time and the most cycles on them and do this kind of check to see if we can get in front of the cracks and problems occurring snufd why shouldn't haven't these kinds of checks been done? i heard you say because there hasn't been a problem before. but just one would think that these inspections would be proactive. >> they're reactive. almost all the inspections that we do today are reactive. they come out. the manufacturer when the airplane is new comes up with a maintenance program. then it's added to as the airplane ages. how is it added? ? a reactive way. something happens and we add something to it. something else happens and we add something to us again. >> woodruff: how reassured are you now that we're told that they're ordering that all the 737-300s, 400s and 500s i guess of a certain age are
going to be taken out and then thoroughly inspected. >> well, it's very reassuring that the f.a.a. and the airlines are doing that. the airlines have stepped up to the plate here. southwest didn't wait for the f.a.a. to tell them to do anything. they just examine it. it's very reassuring for the traveling public. now we need to go beyond that. we need to look forward and say what are we going to do to prevent this kind of incident from occurring three feet away from where it did occur? and another area of the airplane we're not looking at. we need to start reading our own data. we have an ocean of data on aging aircraft that's been developed ever since the aloha airplane accident in 1988. we don't need to study it. we don't need to go back and revis it this. we have the data. let's determine what it's going to take to ensure the integrity of our... of the fuselage of our airplanes. >> woodruff: when you say this, are you referring to... just to the boeing 737 or to jetliners in general? >> jetliners in general
because they're all faced with the same kinds of problems. you know, the fuselage of the airplane expands like a balloon. every time you take off the airplane is pressurized. then when you come back down it relaxes. well this stress, expand and contract, expand and contract, over time will cause a fracture. did you ever take a piece of metal and bend it back and forth many times and then it will break? that's the same principle that we're talking about here. >> woodruff: what would it take to get the kind of inspections you're talking about right now? what would have to happen for that to take place? >> the f.a.a.and boeing would have to mandate it. more the f.a.a.because it's going to be an expensive proposition to do that. to map the older fleet of the defects so that you can use that mapping on the younger airplanes to get in front of it. it would take an awful lot of backbone inside the f.a.a., and i don't know we've had that kind of backbone this that agency for a while. >> woodruff: for those people
who are listening who fly-- and a lot of us do, a lot of people fly-- how does one know when a plane is safe and when it isn't? what kinds of questions should the flying public be asking? >> there's no questions. i mean, i can't ask any questions of the airline. i just know that there's an awful lot of good people in southwest. there's an awful lot of good people in the entire industry that put their heart and soul in making sure that the airplane will fly to its destination. we get caught with surprises and we get caught because of money concerns and to keep the airlines flying. so there is a little balance act that those goes on in here. i flew today or yesterday, excuse me. i'll be flying on wednesday. i average five airplanes a week. i don't have any fears at all getting on an airplane. >> woodruff: well, we thank you for talking with us and for raising some questions that we all need to continue to look at. thank you very much. >> thank you for having me.
>> ifill: still to come on the newshour, president obama's launch of his 2012 campaign; the crackdown on dissidents in china; the trials for 9/11 suspects; and veterans moving back to the civilian world. but first, with the other news of the day, here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: libyan rebels made modest gains in the oil town of brega today. and at least five people were killed in misrata, when forces loyal to president moammar qaddafi shelled a residential area. on the diplomatic front, a plan is reportedly being floated for qaddafi's sons to take over power. we have a report from neil connery of independent television news in tripoli. >> reporter: for 42 years libya has known only one leader. but could these be colonel qaddafi's final days of power? as diplomatic efforts to end this crisis continue, suggestions that some could take over as a transitional leader were dismissed by his father's ever faithful supporters who say only one man can lead here. >> moammar qaddafi. >> reporter: no one else? >> moammar qaddafi. >> reporter: no one else?
>> moammar qaddafi. >> reporter: libya's deputy foreign minister flew to athens yesterday to meet the greek prime minister at the start of a new diplomatic push from tripoli. he says the colonel wants an end to the fighting but the move was dismissed by italy's foreign minister. >> they propose while attacking the population of libya. so frankly speaking some kind of proposals are not credible. >> reporter: the authorities here are determined to show that support for colonel qaddafi remains as strong as ever. any suggestion that he will step aside soon is quickly dismissed. while the diplomats talk, the human cost of libya's misery continues. these victims were rescued by an aid ship. unless libya's future can be secured soon, they will not be the last. >> sreenivasan: also today, u.s. warplanes were pulled from front-line missions in libya.
britain, france and other nato allies will now take the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone. security forces in yemen cracked down on thousands of antigovernment protesters today. at least 15 people were killed when military forces and police snipers opened fire on a crowd in the southern city of taiz. dozens more were wounded. meanwhile, the "new york times" reported the u.s. has shifted its stance on yemen, and is now seeking the removal of president ali abdullah saleh. in washington, white house press secretary jay carney downplayed the report. >> we support dialogue, political dialogue. and president saleh has publicly indicated his willingness to engage in a peaceful transition of power and we believe the timing and the form of that transition should be accomplished through dialogue and negotiation. so we urge that process to continue. >> sreenivasan: saleh has been a close u.s. ally for years, particularly in yemen's role in fighting al qaeda. two american soldiers were killed in afghanistan today by a dressed as an afghan police officer. the incident happened inside a compound in the north, as they were training security forces. witnesses said the shooter fled
the scene, but it was unclear if he was an actual police officer or dressed in disguise. meanwhile, hundreds of people across the country protested for a fourth day against a recent koran burning in florida. u.n. helicopters fired on forces loyal to the entrenched president of ivory coast today. that escalation came as french troops joined u.n. operations in ivory coast to try and protect civilians from an ongoing internal power struggle. president laurent gbagbo refuses to step down, even though allasane ouattara was elected to the office last november. in japan, workers at the fukushima dai-ichi nuclear plant raced to find the source of a radioactive leak today. they used a milky white dye to trace the path of radioactive water found seeping into the pacific ocean. meanwhile, government officials authorized the release of three million gallons of less radioactive water into the ocean to free up space to store more highly contaminated water.
>> we are aware that the water at the number two unit is highly radiated so as to prioritize and stop the leakage of this water into the sea at the earliest timing, we will release the water stored in the exterior building of the unit which also unfortunately contains radioactiveity. we have approved the release of the low-level water to the sea. >> sreenivasan: workers will also install screens made of polyester fabric to try and stop some of the contamination already in the ocean from spreading. in haiti, news organizations reported michel martelly is the winner of the presidential race. widely known as "sweet micky," the first-time candidate and pop musician beat out mirlande manigat, an academic and former senator. initial counts from the first round of voting had excluded martelly from the run-off, inciting riots in the capital of port-au-prince. b.p. is in talks to resume drilling for oil in the gulf of mexico, nearly a year after the deepwater horizon disaster. it was widely reported the company hopes to start drilling
in ten existing deep-water wells beginning in july. that's in exchange for meeting new stricter safety regulations. but today, u.s. interior secretary ken salazar insisted "there is absolutely no such agreement, nor would there be such an agreement." a decision at the u.s. supreme court today upheld a program in arizona that gives its citizens tax credits for donations supporting private religious schools. the court's 5-4 ruling held that the taxpayers who filed the lawsuit have no legal claims because the donations are voluntary, and that government tax credits are not the same as government spending and support of religion. arizona residents can send up to $500 to a tuition scholarship organization instead of paying the state that money in income tax. two of the largest studies ever on alzheimer's disease have found at least five new genes that trigger its onset. that means scientists have now
identified a total of 10 genes that lead to the memory eroding disease. the results were published in the journal "nature genetics" on sunday. researchers believe 60% of alzheimer's cases could be prevented if drugs or lifestyle changes could be devised to counter those ten genes. millions of customers of banks, credit card companies and retail stores received warnings their e-mail addresses and names may have been compromised. the e-mail communications company epsilon is at the heart of what is one of the largest computer security breaches in history. some of the companies involved are walgreen's drugstores, capitol one financial, citigroup, the home shopping network, and kroger grocers. epsilon said no financial data or social security numbers were exposed. on wall street today, stocks made little headway. the dow jones industrial average gained 23 points to close at 12,400. the nasdaq fell less than a point to close at 2789. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: president obama made it official today, launching his 2012 reelection campaign in a low-key video e-mailed to supporters.
>> we're not leaving it up to chance. we're not leaving it up to the incumbent. it's an election that we have to win. >> unfortunately president obama is one person. he cannot... plus he's got a job. we're paying him to do a job. we can't say, hey, could you take some time off and get us energized? we'd better figure it out. >> i can't not be involved. there's just too much that is fundamentally important right now that's going on. >> ifill: the president's campaign team also filed the official organizing paperwork with the federal election commission today. for more, we turn to newshour political editor david chalian. david, you can't say that it's a shock to the president saying that he was running again but it's how he announced. >> i think it's interesting to look at who is in that video and who is not in that video. we don't see president obama. he did not make an announcement in his own words in his own voice. he sent this email to supporters. part of that is to reenergize the grass roots that fueled his 2008 run for the presidency. but also look at who he
highlighted in this video. battle ground state residents. colorado, nevada, north carolina. those were the states represented by the supporters there. also, of course, the people that made up, they sort of represent the coalition that was so successful. >> ifill: african-american woman. older white man and a latina. >> exactly right. the older white man from north carolina is the one who says in the video, i don't always agree with barack obama. but i want to stick with him. i trust him. each one of these folks are also potential vulnerabilities so these are folks that barack obama and his team know they need to work to bring back in to his coalition. >> ifill: in the full void yo that was an excerpt. we see young people represented as well. how does the president stay out of the fray. i assume that's why you don't see his face or hear his voice. >> to a large degree it will be difficult to stay above the fray. he does have the day job in the oval office.
they want to keep him focused on that and to be seen as doing the american people's work. i don't think you'll see him mix up with the republican candidates. he'll start the fund raising next week in chicago and head out to california. this may be the first billion dollar campaign. he was very successful with small donors last time around. he's also tapping the big contributors this time around. >> ifill: the point you're making is exactly his advantage as well as the baggage which is to say when he was elected in 2008 he was the fresh face from outside. he was not going to play by the old rules. now he is the old rule. >> he is the old rule indeed. i mean i do think that some concerns that all incumbents have, right? how do you break out of the bubble when you are president and you're surrounded by the secret service and all this staff? how do you get back in living rooms and engage with voters. that's one problem about the baggage of incumbency but it does have a lot of advantages. in addition to the money you get to set the agenda that you don't as candidate. the flip side of that coin is
that world events sometimes dictate what you focus on more than what your game plan is about what you want to focus on. i think there are pluses or minuses. almost any presidential candidate who successfully ran for re-election would tell you they like being the incumbent rather than not. >> ifill: people say that the incumbent is running against him- or herself. but there are republicans out there who are thinking about running against this president. no democrats. who are they worried about? or what are they worried about, if anything? >> you can tell what they're not worried about because they say it all the time. they wish for a tea party candidate to be nominated by the republicans. michelle backman or sarah palin. a senior advisor in the white house said a few months back we can't be so lucky as to get sarah palin as the nominee. they do look at some contenders as potential threats. john huntsman the former governor of utah the current ambassador to china. he's resigning his position and coming back.
he's a moderate whom they are a little concerned about. >> ifill: they mock him. >> that shows their concern as well. not sure he'll be able to get through the republican nomination process but if he did, he would be a real threat. >> ifill: we're going to watch the the money drop and we'll see what happens next. we'll be talking to you about that, david. thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: next tonight, a two-part look at dissent in china. first, the detention of one of the nation's most famous artists and human rights activists, ai weiwei. he was arrested yesterday before boarding a flight to hong kong. his arrest comes as chinese officials try to prevent the spread of pro-democracy demonstrations in the wake of the uprisings in the arab world. last week, pbs' "frontline" broadcast a documentary about weiwei. here is an excerpt. >> one day he wanted to tell me about his next big project.
>> i have a story. i don't know if you're interested. >> he said the new project would be a response to this. the earthquake that had devastated sichuan province in may 2008. some 70,000 people were killed when poorly built government buildings and schools collapsed. when he toured the wreckage for himself, he grew outraged at the lack of government responsibility. his eye was especially drawn to the deaths of the school children whose names the government refused to release. >> this is absolutely crazy. come on. those people have names. none of them would give us single names. of who is dead.
>> weiwei put out a call to action on his blog. he got an overwhelming response. he gave cameras to volunteers to film in sichuan as they began what he called a citizens investigation into the earthquake deaths. volunteers, young and old, began hounding local officials for the children's names. then more volunteers posted the names online. >> the act of organizing people into a community in china is in itself a very risky thing to do. he has dedicated himself to doing exactly that. that puts him into very small community of people. >> in the end weiwei's team published more than 5,000 names including the names of
almost all of the students. the project drew international attention. it also provoked the government's internet censors who are now paying more attention to weiwei's blog. >> maybe 20, 30 articles have been taken down by internet police or by different authorities. i don't know what it's going to do. >> reporter: that's exactly what the government did in may 2009. as the anniversary of the earthquake approached. then they did something else. >> this is one of the cameras. i think it probably looks at our entry at the main door. >> reporter: weiwei's long-time art assistant shows me the new surveillance cameras. >> over there in the camera is the camera. >> reporter: weiwei quickly
turned his own camera back on the government sending the photos out on his twitter feed and incorporating the cameras into his art works. >> that's basically his life. he doesn't make a big difference between art and the architecture and the political activities, you know. it's just whether it interests him or it doesn't. >> they are watching me. >> reporter: and then there's the surveillance van periodically parked outside of hits home. >> are they sleeping in there? >> tonight. >> he didn't in any way abide by the implicit rules of that relationship which is you're supposed to pretend you don't know you'reing being followed and they're supposed to pretend that they're not following you. >> everybody said china changed a lot. to me it doesn't change in a certain sense. that's what... freedom of speech, you know, the liberation of the mind and all
none of those change. weiwei was detained by police. he has not been heard from since. today the state department called for his immediate release but not all is banned in china. jeffrey kay just returned from a reporting trip there. he looks at what is allowed and what is not. >> reporter: over the last month-and-a-half as crackdowns on dissidents have intensified, police in china have also stepped up harassment of journalists who try to report on pro democracy efforts. in addition, the government has blocked internet links to the phrase "jasmine revolution" a term inspired by uprisings in the arab world. asked about these reports at a news conference last month, premiere said it was incorrect to draw an analogy between
china and the upheaval in the arab world. he announced the need to, in his words, let the people criticize the government. but he said authorities would persist in efforts to maintain social harmony and stability. although china has become notorious for crackdowns on dissidents, some pointed criticism is actually allowed, just as long as the critics know to stay within their limits. the western news media tend to focus on what's not allowed. but, in fact,ma protests are what the chinese government refers to as mass incidents are frequent. tens of thousands of them occur each year. many have sprung from the country's rapid industrialization which has fueled disputes over wages, population displacement, income disparities and pollution. >> it will take some time for the outside world to be able to gauge, you know, the...
some of the change, transformation that happened in this country. >> a leading critic of the governmental politics. he runs the institute of public and environmental affairs. his organization catalogues china's severe water contamination. he pushes authorities to crack down more on pollutors and says he tries to achieve change by working within the system. >> we try to make, you know, judgments about the situation and try to see how far, you know, we can go. every day it's a kind of balancing game for us to play. it's not easy. we don't want to see chaos in this country. we want this boat to move forward but also in a, you know, try to avoid some of the tornts and big problems. >> reporter: advocates for health reform have the same approach.
the chinese government has embarked on an ambitious plan to improve the health insurance system and access to medical care. but critics such as gordon lu, an economics professor at pe king university, have told the government changes are not changing... are not taking place fast enough. >> people have the freedom to speak out what they think, what they suggest as long as you say things for the country, for the people, right? positive or negative. it's fine. you know, the government can listen to it, can, you know, ignore it. but now they begin to let you say it. i feel that's good. that's very good progress in china. which were not possible not long ago. >> the government does allow some media criticism. we were able to work freely without officials because we
were shooting stories about the environment and health care. but journalists who tend to focus on political dissidents say they are routinely harassed. the limits were recently spelled out in a memo issued in january by the communist party's central propaganda bureau and publicized by reporters without borders. the 10-point notice instructs journalists to avoid reports on collective actions pointing towards and focusing on the party and the government. it is not permitted to discuss political reforms, a directive says. do not use the term civil society or stand in a position opposite to the government. fighting the government is what cot this person in trouble. he is an environmental activist who served three years in prison after a decade- long crusade to clean up a lake just east of shanghai.
he says chinese officials passed laws but don't enforce them. . sed to write to our premiere and president but it was no use. >> reporter: he says that pollution from chemical factories killed fish and made the water unusable. in 2005, the chinese government gave him an environmental warrior award. he stepped up his criticism, and authorities forced a confession of fraud from him, he says, and imprisoned him. he had crossed the line. >> in the beginning i used to work with the local government for the investigation. but the deeper we went, the more frightened they got. they told me to stop investigating. because i kept telling the truth they fired me. nobody dares to speak out. we don't have the freedom to speak out. before i came out of prison they gave me a warning. if i dare to make trouble again, they will send me to heaven.
>> reporter: containing the spread of information is a government priority. in raw numbers china leads the world in internet access. according to the government 420 million people nearly a third of china's population can access the web increasingly through the use of smart phones but beijing's so-called great fire wall blocked various internet and social networking sites such as switer, facebook and you-tube sites that have helped fuel the protests in the middle east. >> woodruff: jeff's next reports from china will look at health care reform and the environment. >> the obama administration reversed course today and announced the terrorism trials it had hoped would take place in civilian court will instead remain in military tribunals. jeffrey brown has our story. >> we simply do not allow a trial to be delayed any longer for the victims of the 9/11
attacks or for their family members who have waited for nearly a decade for justice. >> brown: the attorney general's announcement means the self-proclaimed master mind of september 11, khalid sheik mohammed and four alleged co-conspiracies will stand trial not in federal court but in military commissions held at the guantanamo bay prison. just 18 months ago announcing that the suspects would be tried in federal court in manhattan holder said it was federal courts that were the best venue to prosecutor mohammed and others. >> the justice department has a long and a successful history of prosecuting terror ists for their crimes against our nation particularly in new york. >> brown: but that decision drew widespread criticism and protest, forcing the administration to change its stance. today holder put the blame
squarely on congress. >> unfortunately since i made that decision, members of congress have intervened and imposed restrictions blocking the administration from bringing any guantanamo detainees to trial in the united states. regardless of the venue. >> brown: holder was asked if he discounted concerns over the safety of the trial venues and other objections. >> i know this case in a way that members of congress do not. i looked at the files. i've spoken to the prosecutors. i know the tactical concerns that have to go into this decision. so do i know better than them? yes. i respect their ability to disagree but i think they should respect the fact that this is a unique executive branch function. >> brown: this afternoon senate minority leader mitch mcconnell hailed today's announcement. >> this is the right outcome to the long and spirited debate that preceded this decision. military commissions at
guantanamo, far from the u.s. mainland, were always the right idea for a variety of compelling reasons which i and others have enumerated repeatedly over the last two years. >> brown: despite his objections to moving the cases out of federal court, holder said the military tribunals could deliver justice.> >> prosecutors from both the department of defense and justice have been working together since the beginning of this matter, and i have full faith and confidence in the military commission system to appropriately handle this case as it proceeds. >> brown: as for fate of the guantanamo prison which president obama originally pledged to close by january 2010, holder said it was still the administration's intention to shut it down when possible. for more we're joined by the senior reporter for a nonprofit investigative news operation. clearly a reversal for the administration. yet after all that's happened
i guess not entirely unexpected? >> absolutely. a full reversal and yet there was really almost nowhere left for the administration to go. as holder said, congress had sort of tied the administration's hands, preventing them from bringing any detainees into the united states for trial. so i think the options before the president now and before the attorney general were, either put these detainees, these specific detainees on trial in a military commission or hold them with our trial... without trial forever. >> brown: when he said that he put the blame on congress, as he said and you just repeated tying his hands, fill in the picture there. what did they do and when did they do it? >> they did a couple of things. we could see i think quite clearly that the administration's strategy was to put all of the blame on congress today. last december congress passed legislation that really prevented any government funds from being used to move detainees into the united states. not for trial, not for incarceration, not for
military commissions. they really couldn't move anybody anywhere. in fact it makes it even difficult to transfer detainees overseas. so it was very, very difficult. but i think that what happened here with the administration is they kind of used that today to sort of explain away their decision to put these detainys in a military commission to explain away their reversal basically because it was november 2009 when they announced that they were going to go ahead with these trials in federal court. those restrictions didn't exist in november 2009. i think that it just took so long for the administration to move in the face of opposition. the longer they waited, the more forceful congress moved to prevent them from going anywhere. >> brown: how much do we know about what's been happening in this time? holder said today that he had never seen a case so well researched and well prepared. it was also revealed that there had been an indictment back in 2009 of the five.
>> right. it looked like right after holder made the announcement of his intent to put these detainees on trial in new york, a grand jury was convened in new york. quickly came up with charges, an indictment. which we saw for the first time today. you know, the first time we see it is the day that, you know, that they're taking it away. >> brown: right, right. >> so, you know, clearly that's what they were up in 2009. what happened in 2010 was mostly just stalemate. it was congress becoming sort of a little bit more emboldened each day that the administration did not move forward with moving any detainees anywhere for federal trials until they got to the point at the end of 2010 where they just made it impossible. >> brown: do we know in the transfer now back to a military commission, have they been working together do we know? department of justice and department of defense?
what happens now. >> this is a good question. i'm a little bit surprised on two issues. one is holder talks about not wanting to delay justice further. that moving these detainees into the military commission would move things more swiftly, would bring justice for families of the 9/11 victims. and it's clear today from the responses at the pentagon that, you know, that may not be so swift. even though holder said there would be charges in the military there weren't charges announced today. it's unclear when charges will be announced. it's unclear whether they'll seek the death penalty in the military commission setting as holder said they would do or would have done. >> brown: i gather that is a question mark still in military commissions, whether the death penalty is a possibility. >> absolutely. and whether or not you could plead guilty if you were facing the death penalty in a military commission. these are all open questions. when holder was asked about this today, he didn't respond.
he suggested that the pentagon would be the right venue for that. they haven't really said either yet. >> brown: he also continued to soy that they will continue to fight for what we heard them say, that we still believe in going the federal trial route, that federal courts can deal with these cases. does anyone know what that means? is it sort of a two-track system at this point? >> i think that the administration got themselves into a little bit of trouble early on by going with a two- track system. by announcing that they would stick with military commissions for some detainees and federal trials for others. now they're in a situation where they can really only use one track which is the military commissions. you know, i think that holder was genuine when he said that the administration believes in using federal courts and will continue to fight for it. they have not fought hard for it so far. in fact, when those restrictions were coming down the line at the end of 2010, holder was really out there alone. secretary gates, you know, the pentagon is really the warden
of guantanamo. now will also be sort of judge and jury, military commission. he was not fighting for federal trials. you know, the pentagon is quite pleased with having control over the military commissions and they will continue to go forward. >> brown: you're saying we don't know any time line oar we don't know exactly what happens next or even the charges. >> we don't know the charges. as far as using federal courts i think that, you know, the administration at this point, you know, this is much more of a sort of wishful thinking that they will have us in the future. i think there is some question about what happens to many of the detainees at guantanamo. when the administration first put in place their policy, their road map for closing guantanamo-- and remember this is the president's first promise, you know, as our president-- what they did was they created kind of categories for detainees. they said at the end of the process that 36 of the detainees would be eligible for prosecution. so far really, you know,
almost none of those on the list have faced charges anywhere. >> brown: thanks very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: finally tonight, helping badly wounded soldiers make their way back into society. newshour correspondent tom bearden has the story. >> below us st. mary's right here in front of us, this is a generalized water ice fall. >> reporter: a small group of people learning how to climb a nearly vertical frozen waterfall near colorado springs. the climb would be a challenge for any novice, even more so for a soldier who can't use his right arm. but after a little practice, danny kennedy scrambles up the hill faster than several of his more able-bodied colleagues
and then does it again. >> nice job. >> reporter: this outing was organized by life quest, a nonprofit that combines physical therapy with adventure sports to help heal veterans injured physically or psychologically in iraq and afghanistan. there is no cost to service members. all the bills are paid for by volunteers. life quest started last year when lieutenant colonel andrew grantham approached an adventure racing team man about staging competitive events for wounded soldiers under his command at nearby fort carson. >> not only are they getting engaged but once they finish that, they say if i can accomplish this, i can accomplish anything. >> reporter: the event was a hit with everyone involved and life quest was born. >> we were asked to try to provide a solution, to try to keep the suicide rates down and keep these guys busy, to produce a program that was about empowerment instead of entitlement. >> reporter: in an eight-year
period 43 fort carson troops committed suicide. conner thinks his program is already making a difference. >> we've seen significant decreases in pharmaceutical prescription drugs. we've increased connectedness to the family. we've seen a decrease in depression. all of these items i would think would help point towards that inevitable reduction of suicide. >> reporter: in addition to rock climbing and snow shoe outings the volunteer staff supervises daily exercise classs in a gym inside donated space on one side of a warehouse in colorado springs. >> we don't move into pain here, right? >> nope. >> no pain. >> reporter: but life quest's first member was in a lot of pain when he arrived. >> i broke my back in three places, dislocated both knees, a hip. broke both feet and separated a shoulder. ep >> reptehir: t s man was tossed out of ave: ngriho helicopter in iraq in 2006. this after surviving 13 roadside bomb blasts.
he could barely get around then. he's completely mobile now. how long did that take to get to this condition? >> about three-and-a-half years. i went through the surgeries and had both knees reconstructed and both feet operated on and fuseed. it took step by step the procedures because they couldn't do it all at once which just got frustrating and couldn't, you know, couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel in that period in my life. >> reporter: did you ever think along the way that you weren't going to come back this far? >> yeah, actually in november of 2007 i tried to take my own life. it was the darkest hour. >> reporter: did this program save your life? >> yes. >> do you want to frogman up. >> reporter: not everybody buys into the program at first. former armored calvary scout herman ferreira was among the
skeptics. >> when i first heard of life quest i did not want to come here at all. i was totally anti-. but i was in that very bad depressive state of my life. i didn't want to do anything. i was on the couch. just sitting there. didn't want to go out. it's having a purpose, kind of like having a mission like i had in the military. once i had that mission and i had the test to accomplish i've accomplished my task in the military. when it gives me a task like this, it gives me a purpose and gives me motivation to move and get out and not sit in a depressed state. >> reporter: the army has shown some interest in replicating the program at other installations. and perhaps operating it themselves. captain brett kelly isn't sure that's a good idea. he commands one of the units of injured and ill soldiers transitioning out of the service. >> is this kind of program something that can be done inside the army or is it better done by civilians?
>> i think it is much better done by civilians. life quest at least seems to have the resources and the knowledge and skills that a lot of us army personnel are not trained on. most army personnel, myself especially, i don't have the skills to do what they do. >> what we're doing here is, we're doing a functional movement. >> reporter: each new member-- there have been 500 so far-- gets a basic physical evaluation to provide a baseline to measure progress. >> get your feet set and give me your best score. where are you feeling that? >> right there in the back. >> in the back? come back up then. come back up. all the way up. coming back up there. good. >> (groaning) >> reporter: coneor wants to treat every soldier that needs help but he says there are so many soldiers that he and his staff can longer pay the bill by themselves. life quest started a modest fund-raising effort and like many nonprofits have found
that challenging but conner says they have no choice but to succeed. >> we've made it happen for the last year-and-a-half. we can continue to make this happen. it's a matter of will. we need to be the example here. we're asking these soldiers that are broken, ill, injured, confused. we're telling them that they can successfully transition. we examed sure should be able to get up every morning and make this door stay open. >> reporter: and the soldiers will be out of doors more frequently as the weather warms up. last month life quest launched an adventure racing program where teens are competing in mountain biking, treking and white water racing events throughout the summer. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. southwest airlines canceled 70 flights today and kept up safety inspections after cracks were discovered in three jet fuselages. the professed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and his four co-
conspirators will face trial by a military commission at guantanamo bay, cuba. and security forces in yemen cracked down on antigovernment protesters, killing 15 of them. and to hari sreenivasan, for what's on the newshour online. hari? >> sreenivasan: there's more of our interview with wounded veteran widhalm on the rundown news blog. also there, watch this week's political checklist. david chalian talks with gwen and judy about the government shutdown showdown and president obama's official reelection bid. plus, we look at the science of solar flares, and how gps systems can be affected by the sun's stormy season. and miles o'brien weighs in on the safety questions raised by an aging airline fleet. he explored the issue for "frontline" in a report called "flying cheap." all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, republicans release their ten-year budget blueprint. we'll talk to house budget chairman paul ryan, who wants to cut $4 trillion in spending. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night.
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