tv Consider This Al Jazeera December 31, 2013 9:00am-10:01am EST
as two deadly explosions rock russia. "consider this" with less than two months until the world safe? >> a highly detailed new investigation claims there is no indication al qaeda was involved in the 2012 attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi. >> hope of an assess fire is fading in south sudan. we'll break down the conflict and get an assessment on the ground. n.a.s.a.'s superrobot may look like child's play but could lead to more in space consideration. >> we begin with two bombing attacks within 24 hours in russia that raised questions about security at february's sochi olympics , and following a "new york times" report on 2012 attacks in benghazi raising questions again
about what happened that night. we'll start with the attacks in volgograd. 15 were killed, dozens injured when a male suicide bomber detonated shrapnel-laced explosives on a bus, following a blast at volgograd's main train station, where 17 died and dozens hurt by two suicide bombers. what do the attacks mean for the winter olympics scheduled to start february 7th. i'm joined by dr jim walsh, from watertown, an international security expert at mit's security studies program and fred burtan, vice president of intelligence at stratford, a global intelligence company, and author of, "untold fire." the untold attack on benghazi, and served as a counteragent and
involved in security issues for the 1996 atlanta olympics. we'll get to benghazi in a moment. first, jim, do you have doubt that the bombing attacks are connected with the winter olympics ? no one has taken responsibility yet. in july a chechen rebel leader doku umarov who claimed responsibilities for other suicide attacks issued a manifesto calling for supporters to disrupt the olympics. is this work. >> whether doku umarov or other groups involved in chechnya or the caucuses, i think they are related. it gives the folks leverage to have a high profile event coming to russia. there'll be thousands of journalists or visitors around the world, creating a target that is difficult to exist. they have laid back and two attacks in three days, three in the past couple of months, it signals that they are going to use the games as an opportunity to strike back at putin.
>> given that, should americans and other international visitors concerned? >> when you look at trying to secure a large event like an olympics or a peace conference, it boils down to contingency planning. the russians spent a lot of time with this. my old outfit is also engaged with providing assistance. the interesting part for me is how much will the russians allow other international partners to exist. the logistics surrounding these events becomes borderline chaos when you deal with vip visitors, kings and queens and heads of states that like to show up at the event, bringing a challenge
to security agents doing protection for attendees and the olympic athletes. >> the head of russia's olympic security said: credible? >> obviously not. part of of that is russian pride, part of that is an attempt to send a message that we are prepared. it's inconceivable that you would have two attacks in two days from a group from dagestan in the caucus, and there wouldn't be additional measures taken. this is a difficult task. i mean, as fred suggests, if you can control the venues, where people go ice skatingor indoor event, events outside, they are soft targets. if they are trying to make a point, trying to embarrassment putin and draw attention to
their cause, they don't have to hit the olympics, they can hit outside the olympics, transportation systems or other parts of russia that are near. they'll get the same coverage. this will be tough. my guess is the russians are working as hard as they can to next. >> part of the issue there is with the games basically taking in so many resources, especially in security and focussing attention, that does race the question whether other parts of russia, including transportation hubs have been left vulnerable, and the amount of money that the russians seem to throw at security for the sochi olympics, and an incredible array of protection with the village for sochi, sealed off from the rest of the world, will these things in combination, do you think, keep the games themselves safe? >> i think so. having experienced these event in the past, as you look from a
consent ring ring of security concept. as you get closer and closer to the olympic venues or village, security will be extraordinarily tight. credentialing will be checked and double-checked. there'll be a tremendous amount of protection agents and uniform police coverage and your usual kind of security apparatus in place. as jim noted, and this was the same concern in atlanta, you can only secure so much based on your resource, and when we had the bombing in centennial park in atlanta, it was outside of our protection umbrella. and the russians will have the same problem. it's resource intense, as you look at trance pore tags nodes in and out, it's a real challenge. them. >> we
saw with the boston marathon bombing three killed, 264 victims injured or maimed. security was tight epd. we saw extraordinary security at the 2012 london summer games. the rushans said, "we are not going be quite as far as in london" security at sochi will be more intense with cost. running into the billions. is that the price that has to be paid to host a big event, whether you are talking about g20 or the olympic games , where the world is supposed to come fellowship? >> yes and no. the boston marathon that happened here in watertown, i locked the door to the studio for the first time ever when i came in to do interviews during that period. if was not a random thing, this was a drubleded mentally ill and
troubled family that took on idea logical cause and then executed that attack. you know, that's almost random, but as opposed to the russian olympics, they are - this is not southern russia, they boarded the caucasuses, they have having the olympics close to a place that was the site of two bloody civil wars, and a country that is dagestan, that has tremendous violence, violent extremism. i think it will vary. post atlanta in palestine issues from so long ago, security is always going to be a priority and a challenge. it will vary in intensity, are. >> we talked about the role that the chechens, the caucasus may play. there is another issue and that is the role that some russians
are playing in syria's civil war, and whether or not president putin's continuing support for richard labarbiera could cause play back at home. is that something that russian security officials are wroried about. >> when you look at the special events, national security nations, as well as other participants in the olympics are looking for adverse intelligence affecting the olympics. there'll be tasks around every c.i.a. agents looking for adverse intelligence, we'll be looking for threat information. as i look at the recent bombings that transpired near sochi, the one thing that resonates with me is the intelligence gaps here. look at it this way.
the suicide bombers pulled these off without the russians preventing them. you have a unique bomb maker on the loose here. based on the forensics of the two more recent devices. the ffb needs to find the bomb maker, and quickly. >> let's change focus and switch to benghazi, and again staying on the question of intelligence failures. this weekend the "new york times" published a lengthy report on the september 2011 attack, that saw ambassador chris stevens and three others killed. benghazi has been a rallying cry for those saying benghazi was responsible. and susan rice was accused of lying to the american people. the morning after the attack rice appeared on five network sunday news programs and said the attack started as a
spontaneous reaction to an anti-muslim video and not connected to al qaeda. the "the times" report does not say the attack was spoon -- spontaneous, but does say: >> jim, what is your reaction to "the times" report on benghazi. >> it's an impressive piece of journalism and they are offering a subtle and complex explanation. they are not saying it happened out of the blue. they said the folks, talking about a small group, not a militia, but a submilitia with 24 followers, had been warming to attack. there was a predisposition. it was not completely out of the blue. on the other hand the video
created a gender-setting moment, an opportunity so they could take advantage of it making it difficult for other militias to step in and prevent it or give them intel. it's a combin eight of facts, going to a point we spoke about. there's a tendency in the u.s. to get focused, mistakenly so on the leader or the organization, and the reality on the ground is more complex. and the great thing about the "new york times" report is they went to libya and interviewed all the players. there are shifting alliances and people join some groups and other groups, sometimes they compete and cooperate. there's no sovereign government, there's a lot of gun and decentralized players who are not talking to each other and al qaeda was having problems
getting a foothold in libya, surprised that aesent or an off. >> you wrote the book on benghazi, and according to "the times" investigation i quote: >> does that line up with your reporting and would this attack have occurred without the video? >> i think the attack would have occurred without the video based on research i conducted along with my co-worker. in the course of our investigation and interviews connected with the case, and having been a former agent and our agents were involved in this case on the ground there, there is a working theory that al qaeda was involved with this attack to some degree.
it was a precise kind of operation with a fair amount of preoperational surveillance that took place. as you look at this, and i think jim raises good points and i welcome any and all investigative journalism surrounding benghazi, because i think that there's still several unanswered questions that we were not able to get to the bottom of in our book. as you look at who put this attack together and the methodical nature of how it was conducted, it's my assessment that this was a fairly good operation specifically targetting the united states ambassador to libya as well as the follow on attack on the c.i.a. base, which was a precision-like mortar attack, walked in, which killed the two former u.s. navy seals and gravely injured a diplomatic service agent - blown off a
perch. >> we'll listen to some sound from the "the times" david fitzpatrick who wrote the story and talked on "meet the press" on sunday. >> i talked to some people i believe to be the perpetrators. it's obvious from them and people around them that they are purely local people. there's no chance this was an al-qaeda attack, if, by al-qaeda you mean the organization founded by osama bin laden. >> that's the issue which has been raised over and over by republicans mostly. which is the definition of core al qaeda. they insisted it was an attack carried out by core al qaeda. fitzpatrick's report suggests other you. what do you think? >> that sounds right to me. part of it is and i am sure it
will be agreed that part of what is driving this, by focussing on al-qaeda, the organization, we miss what is the context on the the ground, which is that libya doesn't have a strong government, guns are everywhere and a lot of people want to do bad things to the u.s. if we are if we think it's al-qaeda we'll draw one set of lessons, if we think about the state of ground on libya, we'll draw other less jornings it's important to get it right. obviously al qaeda is important and will continue to be important, particularly the regional players in yemen and elsewhere. we have to be more nuanced in our approach. >> frank, your reaction? >> the response to the "new york times" is what is in the hands
of the fbi, c.i.a. and people on the ground. the "new york times" reporter does not have access to c.i.a. reporting, n.s.a. reporting, fbi, 302 interviews of suspects, and it's not been my experience in the course of interrogating in the past years, it's not unusual for people to rely to you regarding motive and responsibility. do they want to come out and say they are members of al-qaeda and have to look for drone strikes. i don't blame them for not wanting to associate with al qaeda per stay, but i do welcome further investigative journalism and discussion on the topic. >> the question of whether core al-qaeda was involved speaks to
president obama's signature foreign policy achievement, which was the assassination of osama bin laden, which was that core al qaeda - if you define it, it was described as the group responsible for planning 9/11 and events that came after. do you think core al qaeda, fred and jim, has been decimated. does it make a difference if it has? >> i think core al qaeda has been decimated to eliminate strategic strike on u.s. soil, which is a difference here. you look at the attack in benghazi. this was a symbolic attack to kill the president's personal representative to libya and drive the c.i.a. and state department out of benghazi
. the symbolize. resonates throughout the world which is a principal going back to the organization. when i dealt with them in the "93 bombing of new york city in the world trade center >> jim, should we focus on the question of al-qaeda when the more fundamental issue was inadequate security in benghazi, and a failure to understand on the part of americans present militias. >> there's a lot of lessons that flow from the benghazi attack. information sharing, and attack on the u.s. embassy and egypt. it didn't get communicated in full measure to the folks in libya. we overestimated the degree to which major militias controlled little guys or to which they might support us. to the extent that it is local. those players have local
interests and loyalties that don't always coincide with the u.s. stepping back, i agree with fred. central al-qaeda is taking a hit. would we rather be back in nch or today. there's dangers, but the regional groups grew and we have conflict in civil wars. i worry about syria. there's 11,000 foreign fighters that may be fighting in syria, what will happen do them, where will they go. obviously this continues to be a challenge. i agree central al qaeda is taking a hit. that's a big thing. we have a ways to go. >> jim walsh and fred burton, thank you for joining us. >> coming up, with so many divisive issues, at the forefront of discussion, are we seeing a combination of two americans. what do you think? join us:
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real reporting that brings you the world. giving you a real global perspective like no other can. real reporting from around the world. this is what we do. al jazeera america. >> today's data dive checks in on presidential viewing habits. the "new york times" reports president obama's catching up on "breaking bad." apparently he and president
clinton share a desire for dark reality tinged drama like "hom and "house of cards." >> by contrast president regan's favourite show "family ties," his request for a cameo ignored by producers. the whitehouse movie nights dating back to 1915 with woodrow wilson's screening of "the birth of a nation." the reconstruction of the war portrays ku klux klan as heroes. wilsons showed it as a political favourite. 27 years later fdr converted a cloakroom into a screening room. that is the white house movie theatre. the 40 seat room is far from perfect, narrow and directors complained about sound and focus issues. still, dwight d. eisenhower watched more than 200 westerns during his two terms. president kennedy put his famous rocking chair in the middle of the front row to help with the
back pain, and later had an orthopaedic bed to watch propped up on pillars. kennedy watched "from russia with love" the night before his il-faith trip to dallas. >> lbj was not a movie pan, but watch a documentary called "a president's country" 18 times. jimmy carter viewed nearly 500 films, the first "all the president's men". president kenny had an awkward screening with "the apostle", hillary clinton diffused the tension saying, "just another quiet day at the white house. >> films of significance from lincoln, "the butler", but he is not all business. the president made "high school musical 3 and other musicals available for his daughter. >> coming up n.a.s.a. plays ball
>> picture in your mind a space rover, high tech, lots of computer chips and solar panels and advanced technology. meet the latest rover prototop, called the small ball bot, a collapsable robot developed by n.a.s.a. for more we are joined from philadelphia by dr derrick pitts, chief avt ron mer at the franklin institute science museum. the super-ball bot is light, survives a 60 metre drop. it looks like a tinker toy, and doesn't require a parachute. what is special about this robot? >> there are several things showing themselves as making this special. one is the construction of this would allow a payload to drop on to a service unharmed, unscathed. the way the thing is obstructed it can observe the drop, and the way it can be packed into a rocket can possibly allow for
multiples of these to be sent for a much lower price than just a large massive rover itself, and i think it would be a lot of fun to have a number of these objects deployed out on to a surface, say 10 or so versus just one. >> why is it going to go to sat urn's moon titan first. >> the reason it would go to titan first is because of the uneven surface at titan, and the rocky surface, and the fact that it is so cold, they have lengths of methane and the system may function better considering that it is not getting enough light from the sun to generate electricity. there may be an alternative way of doing that. getting around on the surface this may be a good way to get around. >> where else can this little bot take us that we have not been behaviour. >> one thought is it could go to
an asteroid. some asteroids don't hold themselves together, they don't have much cohesion of the materials. for a rough surface, where you don't want to disturb them by a hard impact landing, you may use something like this to soften the landing. one. >> speaking of exploration, it's hard to imagine seeing better images than the ones of satterb, that n.a.s.a. released. these photos are so striking, did they tell us everything new. >> they are spectacular images. we have seen all sorts of great things going on. one of the ones that interests me most are the images of jets of water vapour squirting out from the sat urnian moon. this material is feeding the outer ering of sat urn, and that's an interesting one to see. the other is a photo where we
see a cloud-like feature in the atmosphere, it's a ring around the poll that has this 6-sided nature to it. that is unusual to see. it tells us a little more about the dynamics of the atmosphere in sat urn. >> 2013 was a big year for space. tell us about your favourite discoveries and innovations. >> i think my favourite is what has happened on mars this year. the mars science lander that we know as curiosity i was able to complete its primary mission after one year on the surface of mars. it has nine years of power supply and discover more information about the possibility of environments where life may have developed on the planet. it has a way to go to get to mt sharp. on that trip it will give us more ification in. the other thing that -- nor information. the other thing is that the
vehicle worked so well, better than we had reason to expect, other than great engineering by n.a.s.a.'s engineers. what gets me is the car will not star, and this object works so well on mars, even with its harsh environment. that's one thing. >> in the few seconds left, what is the big discovery, the big innovation will be? >> two big things for 2014. there'll be more exoplanets, and 2014 will be the year in which we see regular people travelling into space as tourists on board the virgin galactic spaceship 1 as people by tickets for their chance to go into space. >> the show may be over, but the conversation continues on our website al jazeera/consider this or on facebook or google+ pages or on twitter. see you next time.