tv Inside Washington PBS May 7, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
>> what you think i treat candy? -- what do you think a tree can be? to be stronger than steel? can it be biodegradable plastic, or fuel for our cars, or clothing, or medicine that bites cancer? with our to sell technology, we think it can -- with our tree cell technology, we think it can. weyerhaeuser, growing ideas. >> the united states has conducted an operation and that killed osama bin laden, the leader of al qaeda, a terrorist responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men,
women, and children. >> this week on "inside washington," they got him, but it was risky business. >> we were saying our prayers that everything was going to go according to plan. >> he was not hiding in a cave after all. >> who do they think was living behind those walls? >> the first republican debate. >> we cannot restore america's promise unless we have a president who keeps his promises to america. >> is it time to get out of afghanistan? >> we are told we should continue to borrow billions and billions of dollars for nation- building in afghanistan. that's nuts. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- >> the story broke late sunday
night. about 10:24 p.m., blackberrys and iphones started buzzing all over washington, president obama was about to make a statement. this is washington, it is almost impossible to keep a secret. soon, the story broke that president obama was about to announce that osama bin laden was killed. finally, a somber president obama appeared on television. >> today, at my direction, the united states launched a targeted operation against the compound in abbottabad, pakistan. a small team of americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. no americans were harmed. they took care to avoid civilian casualties. after a firefight, and they killed osama bin laden and took custody of his body. >> it began right after 9/11 with this promise at ground zero. >> i can hear you, the rest of
the world hears you, and the people -- [applause] who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon. >> on thursday, president obama visit ground zero. in his column this week, our colleague charles krauthammer said the operation was made possible "precisely by the vast infrastructure the bush administration created." maureen dowd began her column by saying "no wonder they call him cool hand luke." evan, how did they pull this off? >> we have got some good it targeted killings -- gotten good at targeted killings. the peace deals they were doing. charles has a point here. . whether it was necessary to have this multi-trillion dollar
whatever is a different question. >> cool hand luke, moshe infrastructure, colby -- bush infrastructure, colby. >> cool hand luke, yes. bush infrastructure, a sort of yes. when obama took office, he told leon panetta at that a priority was to get osama bin laden. that flagged over the years. not just the infrastructure put in place, but the actual intelligence being done day after day for the past 215 years. >> how did they do it without word leaking in advance, nina? >> it very few people knew, and that is one thing. to your question about who to credit, a lot of people deserve credit. the bush administration deserves credit, the clinton administration deserves credit.
this was an infrastructure that grow over time. the president made some spectacular and gutsy choices, including to bring an extra helicopter. that proved to be important. >> mark? >> no more repressor-in-chief instead of commander in chief, -- no more professor in chief instead of commander in chief, no more nuanced and cerebral. norman schwarzkopf said it does not take courage to order men into battle, it takes courage to go into battle. but it was a bold decision on the part of the president to do so, a commander in chief decision. i think the real presidential decision of the week was to not make available the photographs, despite the demands and importunings of so many people. that is where he showed real leadership. >> even al qaeda admitted he is
dead. what is that the operation had failed, colby? -- what if the operation had failed, colby? >> think of jimmy carter. it is hard to imagine the consequences being anything other than disastrous for him. that is another reason he deserves a real credit, because they took a real risk there. they were not 100% certain that bin laden was there, according to leon panetta. 60-80% short. -- 60-80% sure. >> let me quote charles krauthammer, who is off this week. "terrorists seized and kidnapped and subjected to interrogations, sometimes harsh and enhanced." almost immediately, you heard
elected officials and commentators declaring that it was the waterboarding of khalid sheik mohammed that ultimately led to the compound. is this open to challenge? >> it is very much open to challenge. eventually, this week, a lot of intelligence people confirmed that khalid sheik mohammed did not confirm that there was any sort of courier, we did not know this guy, and al-libi did not give them anything -- he was the other water boarded%. now they say that because they did not confirm, we know it was right. >> i keep reading these articles, and is become a theoretical, religious debate. if you believe in torture, it worked. if you do not, it did not work. the truth, as usual, is somewhere in between -- >> but if this was a ticking time bomb, which is why we had
to torture people, it took eight years to finally find out enough to actually have an operation. >> i just come back to the argument made by every military person i know of any stature or significance, who argues passionately against waterboarding an extraordinary whatever you want to call it -- torture, simply because not only the information age yields of not being reliable, but also the consequences for american troops in the field. your question about why no leak -- the best my reporting has come up with is that 16 members of congress were informed, and what leon panetta did, which was brilliant, was do it one at a time, so nobody in the room set, "it was colby that knew --" [laughter] >> 16 at members of congress
kept their mouths shut? >> how long? >> at least the last year. >> how did it this guy height and a heartbeat away from pakistan's west point? >> how could bin laden gone undetected living next door to the equivalent of pakistan's west point? >> excellent question, colby. >> it is a fair question, but it is also important to think about pakistan and what it represents. it is not a solid government. it is a fractured government. clearly some people in pakistan had reasons to think he might be there, but there were a lot of people who would not happen now. -- not have known. they did not know the cia was there. take the intelligence service,
isi, which everyone says is closely allied with the taliban. i am sure that the central intelligence agency as sources in the isi as well, as well al qaeda and the taliban. it is not a cohesive government. >> pakistan's army wants the united states against another violation of pakistan's sovereignty, and the top general says he will reduce the number of personnel in pakistan to a minimum. >> that is for domestic consumption. what can he say, "come in anytime"? he has to say that. >> they need our money. if the date did not have nuclear weapons and we did not add billions of dollars, we will have this incredibly awkward dance -- if they did not have nuclear weapons and we did not have billions of dollars, this would not happen but we will not
his awkward dance into the future. >> we will stay together for the kids. [laughter] >> the question -- i don't know the answer -- were they complicit? the very fact that osama bin laden had little security at the top bo -- in the compound itself suggests that he had a security or some kind of deal, that he did not feel threatened. >> in october 2008, christiane amanpour, now with abc news, was appearing on "real time with bill maher," saying if she had a source who said that osama bin laden was living in comfortable villa. >> a year ago, eric holder appeared before some congressional committee, and some senators said to him -- he said, "we are going to capture
him." somebody said, but what are you going to give him his miranda rights?" eric holder said, "if we get him, we will give miranda rights to a court." >> how did the leading republicans react to all this, mark? >> always fascinating, a time like this. you have to give credit to the president who is there, who made the call, who put not only lives at risk but his own political fortune at risk. met ronnie did in his statement, so did tim pawlenty -- mr. romney did in his statement, asserted tim pawlenty. mrs. mayland did not, mr. gingrich did not, -- palin did not, mr. gingrich did not, a surprising to me,. huckabee. >> dick cheney did. >> the base of your party, you don't want to give credit to the
president at any other time. no one would say that george bush cared about his daughters and wife if you care about fire- eating democrats. it is a certain maturity on the part of romney and pawlenty and daniels -- >> and the lack of character and a part of palin -- >> and newt? that is that, i am of the show -- off the show. [laughter] >> why are we still in afghanistan? >> this is the longest war in history. there is no end in sight. we are not even paying for the board. is on at the national credit card. -- it is on the national credit card. it adds $100 billion a year, $8 billion each month, to our debt. >> that is congressman jim mcgovern of massachusetts, a democrat, who along with
republican walter jones of north carolina has sponsored the afghanistan exit and accountability act, which would set a firm time line for withdrawing troops. a couple of months ago, a poll said that 73% of the american people want us out this year. >> i think they will stick with the timeline that the president set. you have to remember why we went in and the first place, because of 9/11 and back at the taliban -- the fact that taliban held to that country and al qaeda had to struggle there. >> charles krauthammer this week -- "we could never have pulled off the bin laden raid without a major presence in afghanistan. the joplin was jalalabad." does he have a point, mark? >> charles always has a point.
i think the point is missing here. you can make the case that osama bin laden and scored a major victory it with what happened in this country as a result on 9/11. not just the coarsening of our life here, the lack of trust, the over-security in our nation. the money out of our pocket, two wars that only are a result of 9/11, a reaction to 9/11, not logically or historically valid, but in that sense, i think that jimmy mcgovern and walter jones, the congress members pushing this, deserve support. i think of the popular support for the war in afghanistan -- >> charles, you could have been all this without all the nation- building. to up endless counterinsurgency and spending all the money -- >> but his point about the bases and so forth. >> biden and others said we can
still do the military stop and targeted killing with a smaller base there. we don't need to be trying to build afghanistan -- >> i suspect we will have a summer of fairly active -- i don't know if we can make progress, because the summer is one of the real war happens. after that, obama is on a pretty short leash, because popular support will erode. it is higher at the moment but it will not last long. >> betray us, mr. counterinsurgency, is now at -- petraeus, mr. counterinsurgency, is now at the cia. >> does this mean that the joe biden scenario is the one that is going to be -- >> look at the personalities, i think it is possible. at the cia, what they do is to
hunt down and kill terrorists. >> no doubt about it, is going to happen. >> to me it shows the perverse genius of richard nixon. afghanistan was never even debated in the campaign of 2010, and the reason is that nobody has paid for it. nobody is paying for it except the 1% of americans whose loved ones are in battle. we are not paying for it in dollars, in blood, in our children. it really is a terrible moral indictment of this country. you know who andrew bacevich is? ph.d. at boston university, his son died in iraq. "to be an american soldier to find to be s-- that people find nothing amiss about it war with no anend."
does he have a point? >> he does. but the country will not tolerate an endless war. >> it does. >> that is what is unfair about it. unless you have the shared sacrifice, is an unfair situation to have so few doing so much. >> by the genius of richard nixon, do you mean abolishing the draft? >> yes. no threat of the service, no threat of bodily harm, and all of a sudden it is toga parties again. >> the republicans had their first presidential debate this week, carried on the fox news channel. former gov. gary johnson, herman cain, ceo got on his be the, ron paul shared the stage with --
ceo of godfather's pizza, what all share the stage with tim pawlenty and rick santorum. where were mitt romney and others? >> they ducked in and probably made a mistake, because fox news is important to the nominating process newt gingrich and rick santorum lost their scholarship at fox. they were knocked off the payroll. >> it was an underwhelming group of republicans. it might be enough to spur people like huckabee to get in, if that is the field. >> i am about to ask a crass political question, but i should note that the unemployment number has inched back up to 9% -- not necessarily bad, because they are adding jobs -- but does it capture of osama bin laden dip brock, a major push towards a reelection in 2012? -- dick barack, a major push toward reelection in to -- it well give -- give morocco, a
major push towards reelection in 2012? >> he will get a little credit, but not enough to reelect him. if the economy goes sour on him, it will be a much bigger deal. >> evan is right, but there was this narrative that republicans were pushing that he was indecisive, he cannot do anything, he that by following -- led by following. that is gone. >> the whole notion of being a weak leader is dispelled. they don't have the argument that he is somehow soft on defense or military action. that is gone, but that will not get him back into the white house. >> since the great depression, no president has run for re- election successfully with 7.8% unemployment, which is what is protected by -- is predicted by
cbo and bloomberg and others. if we get to nine, it will be a very competitive race, i don't care who emerges from the republican side. this did destroy the republican narrative as a criticism of the president and established his bonafides as someone willing to make a tough and important decision. but in the final analysis, it is going to be the economy in 2012. >> let me make one other point. there is an entire generation of people in their early 20s now who grew up with osama bin laden as their hitler, and for them is a bigger deal than for us old fogies. >> the tampering with medicare -- is this making republicans more likely to compromise on budget issues? >> i hope. rule about a great
election day, that that is the only poll that counts. republicans who recklessly voted for the ryan plan less than a month ago are running away from that in fear. >> there was a big retreat -- >> eric cantor says no -- >> "this is just the beginning of our process," said one of the republicans who is in deep trouble now. >> dealing with medicare and social security, how is that going to play out now? >> there is a congress that we don't have time to do these things. paul krugman was interesting this morning -- "we have to deal with the deficit and debt in two years or terrible things will happen." if that is right, obama cannot sit on the sidelines. republicans cannot sit on the sidelines. but if it is wrong, we can have
the usual dreary spectacle of democrats and demagoguing entitlements, republicans cutting taxes, nothing really happens. >> did you hear what jim mcgovern said? $8 billion a month in afghanistan? we are putting it on the national credit card? >> that is why i think they are going to address it in this coming budget year. paul lai and -- and import -- paul ryan gave an important signal to the republicans this week, that we will not give it everything we want, not just because of the reaction he got in his own district about the medicare changes, but that obama ate their lunch when he came with his own proposal. it requires them to come to the table to work something out. >> politicians are cowards and they will not do this unless something happens in the economy. >> this will force them to come
to grips -- >> you still have a lot of people out there who say we should not increase the debt limit, absolutely not. >> republicans say the only non- negotiable thing is no increase in taxes. that is kind of crazy. if you take away the exemption, that is an increase. >> they can fudge their way past the debt limit with hysterics and are wiping. the question is are they going to take on the big issues of what is causing this? >> i would like to be optimistic, but when i see the gang of six senators, the ones who have bucked the orthodoxy, tom coburn, a republican, dick durbin, democrat, they have been dropped like a bad habit. the white house pays no attention to them, and they are being ignored. >> they are my heroes --
>they have not actually announced what it is they are going to do. >> family emergency -- ken conrad said he would go ahead with something. >> my point is that neither the republican or democratic leadership in the congress or white house paying heed to them that they deserve, in my judgment. >> this week, financial format passed last year overwhelmingly -- financial reform that passed last year overwhelmingly -- republicans said that if you pass this law, yowe will not appoint people to the consumer agency. what have we come to 1when a law that passed with significant margins gets undermined with
that kind of threat? >> i was reading jimmy carter's so-called malaise speech -- he never used the word -- and the language she used is what we say every week. >> if we sound like that, that is not a good sign. >> that was during that time we had inflation, double-digit inflation -- >> we can get it again. >> on that happy note, we give you the last word. thanks, see you next week. for a transcript of this broadcast, log on to insidewashington.tv.