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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  April 7, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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04/07/17 04/07/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! pres. trump: tonight i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in syria from where the chemical attack was launched. , nationalhis vital security interest of the united states to prevent editor the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. amy: without congressional approval, the united states has attacked a syrian airfield, marking the first military action by the u.s. against syrian president bashar al-assad's forces since the
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syrian war began over six years ago. the move comes after the u.s. accused assad's forces of using the shayrat airbase to carry out a chemical weapons attack that killed 86 people, including at least 30 children. syria denies carrying out the attack. we will host a roundtable discussion. then to capitol hill where senators invoke the nuclear option that will allow supreme court justices to become confirmed possible majority. >> the nuclear option means the end of a long history of consensus on supreme court nominations. it weakens the standing of the senate as a whole. as a check on the president's ability to shape the judiciary. amy: the vote in's a democratic led filibuster aimed at blocking neil gorsuch's confirmation for the supreme court. all that and more, coming up.
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welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. u.s. warships fired a barrage of missiles into syria thursday evening, in the first direct u.s. assault on the syrian government since the start of civil war six years ago. the pentagon said a pair of naval destroyers in the eastern mediterranean fired 59 tomahawk cruise missiles at a syrian air base in homs province. syria's government said the strikes killed six people, and condemned the u.s. attack as an act of aggression. in a short address from the trump mar-a-lago resort in palm beach, florida, president donald trump said the assault was retribution for a syrian chemical weapons attack earlier this week that killed scores of -- 86 civilians, including 30 children. pres. trump: tonight i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in syria from where the chemical attack was launched.
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vital, national security interest of the united states to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. amy: the attacks came without a declaration of war or any other form of authorization from congress. california democratic congress member barbara lee tweeted -- "this is an act of war. congress needs to come back into session & hold a debate. anything less is an abdication of our responsibility." and republican senator rand paul of kentucky tweeted -- "the president needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the constitution." on thursday evening, trump did not respond to a reporter's questions about whether he'd seek congressional approval for the attack. >> do you still believe you need military -- congressional
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authorization for military action in syria? trump: thank you, everybody. thank you very much. amy: in 2013, trump repeatedly tweeted comments lasting president obama's push for an assault on syria over a chemical weapons attack, writing "the president must get congressional approval before attacking syria. big mistake if he does not." the pentagon says it targeted its missiles to avoid syrian chemical weapons storage sites, as well as russian troops and aircraft. russia's foreign ministry quickly condemned the u.s. assault on syria's government, saying it threatened international security. russia said it would bolster air defenses across syria, and said it would suspend its de-confliction agreement, which prevents russian and u.s. planes from coming into conflict over syria. this is russian foreign ministry spokesperson, maria zakharova. >> without bothering to understand what has happened,
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the united states resorted to a demonstration of force, military confrontation with the country fighting international terrorism. it is not the first time the united states of america has demonstrated such a careless approach. it only worsens the problem's already existing in the world and poses a threat to international security. amy: democrat us congresswoman gabbard who met with syrian president assad during a trip in january warned the attack could escalate to a nuclear war, saying -- "it angers and saddens me that president trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change or to overthrow the syrian government." we'll have more on president trump's unilateral attack on syrian government positions after headlines. on capitol hill, senators voted along party lines thursday for a historic rule change that will allow supreme court justices to be confirmed by a simple majority. the 52-48 vote ended a democratic-led filibuster aimed at blocking neil gorsuch's confirmation, clearing the way
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for a senate vote today on president trump's pick for the supreme court. republican senate majority leader mitch mcconnell said the move was necessary to break a stalemate. >> our democratic colleagues appear poised to block this incredible nominee with the first successful partisan filibuster in american history. it would be a radical move, something completely unprecedented in the history of our senate. amy: majority leader mcconnell's comments came more than a year after he led his senate colleagues on a campaign to refuse to even consider president obama's pick for the supreme court, merrick garland. democrats quickly condemned the move by their republican colleagues to end the filibuster in supreme court confirmations, the so-called "nuclear option." this is senate minority leader, democrat chuck schumer of new york. >> the nuclear option means the end of a long history of
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consensus on supreme court nominations. it weakens the standing of the senate as a whole, as a check on the president's ability to shape the judiciary in a postnuclear world, if the senate and the presidency are in the hands of the same party, there is no incentive to even speak to the senate minority. that is a recipe for more conflict and bad blood between the parties, not less. amy: a final confirmation vote for neil gorsuch is set for today. he's expected to be confirmed as a supreme court justice, replacing justice antonin scalia nearly 14 months after scalia's death. house intelligence committee chair devin nunes said thursday he's recusing himself from an investigation into russia's alleged ties to trump associates and russia's role in the 2016 u.s. election. nunes' announcement came shortly before the house ethics committee said it was investigating whether nunes illegally made classified information public.
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republican house speaker paul ryan said thursday nunes had done nothing wrong, but said he welcomed nunes's decision to step aside. >> it is clear this process would be a distraction of the house intelligence committee's investigation into russian interference in our election. so chairman nunes has offered to step aside as the lead republican on this particular probe, and i for support his decision. amy: last week, the "new york times" revealed white house officials met secretly with nunes to show him classified u.s. intelligence reports detailing how trump associates were incidentally swept up in surveillance carried out by american spy agencies as they conducted foreign surveillance. on the day after the secret meeting, nunes, who served on trump's transition team, held a news conference and then traveled back to the white house to supposedly brief the president about the documents the president's own staff had given him. nunes' recusal came after president trump told the "new york times" wednesday, without evidence, that former national security adviser susan rice committed a crime when she
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unmasked the names of trump associates whose communications were swept up by u.s. intelligence agencies. at the time, rice had the authority to internally reveal such names. rice has denied leaking the names of any trump associates, and there's no evidence she violated u.s. surveillance laws. in florida, president donald trump welcomed chinese president xi jinping to the trump mar-a-lago golf resort thursday, for two days of talks centered on trade and north korea's nuclear program. over a steak dinner, trump praised president xi, saying in brief remarks the pair had developed a friendship. on the campaign trail, trump bashed china's trade policies, once accusing china of ring the united states. in environmental news, the epa plans to slash funding to programs aimed at protecting children and pregnant women from exposure to lead, a neurotoxin known to cause brain damage. the "washington post" reports the move would eliminate 70 epa jobs while cutting nearly $17 , million from the programs,
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which provide public education about the dangers of lead as well as training to lead remediation workers. an estimated 38 million u.s. homes contain lead-based paint, with lead poisoning hitting communities of color the hardest. meanwhile, the bureau of land management has debuted a new cover photo for its website -- a towering pile of coal. the 2004 photograph was supplied to the blm by the peabody coal company. it shows an 80-foot coal seam at an open cut coal mine. until recently, the website's main photograph showed two boys wearing backpacks gazing across a wild landscape of rolling hills. the website's new look came a week after interior secretary ryan zinke lifted an obama-era ban on coal mining leases on federal land. in south sudan, refugees fleeing civil war say government soldiers indiscriminately killed civilians, slitting the throats of adults, running down children with a vehicle, and shooting those who tried to flee. hundreds of survivors recounted the violent scenes as they fled toward relative safety in
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uganda. >> i had two brothers. one of them was arrested by the soldiers and slaughtered for no reason. the other one was trying to flee, but was shot dead. i don't even know what to do with their widows and children. amy: reuters said at least 17 people were killed by government soldiers, while some 3000 refugees crossed into uganda this week. south sudan has been wracked by civil war since 2013, and the u.n. says parts of the country have entered a famine, with 100,000 people at risk of starvation. burmese leader aung san suu kyi has denied members of the rank of minority have experienced ethnic cleansing. the remarks came in an interview with bbc correspondent fergal keane. >> do you ever worry that you will be remembered as the champion of human rights, the nobel laureate who failed to stand up to ethnic cleansing interim country? >> know, because i don't think
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ethnic cleansing is going on. i think that is too strong of an expression use of what is happening. the burmese military has been accused of raping and torturing silly incident ongoing campaign. a human rights group says it may amount to human rights violations. in argentina, workers shut down the capital city, buenos aires, thursday in a 24-hour general strike protesting job cuts and policies of president mauricio macri. the workers are angry over macri's elimination of currency and trade controls, as well as fuel subsidies that help poor families heat their homes. >> the economies from around the world will come. they are all neoliberal. there will also be business leaders who will discuss how to continue stealing the riches of our people. how to exclude one sector of society so as to enrich the same old ones.
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amy: and navajo land defender katherine smith has died in big mountain, arizona. while records say she was 98 years old, her family members say she was over 100. smith spent decades defending navajo land against intrusions by coal and uranium miners. she resisted resettlement after congress passed the 1974 navajo-hopi land settlement act, which forced an estimated 6,000 navajo and 100 hopi forced to relocate. in 1979, smith famously fired a warning shot from her shotgun to scare off bureau of indian affairs employees who arrived to build a fence marking a redefined hopi boundary. this is katherine smith. >> the u.s. government, they are trying to get rid of navajo here , take the land away from us. they loaded our sheep, they loaded our cattle, they loaded our horse. they just took it away from us. u.s.ease this gun on
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trying to steal my land. amy: katherine smith died march 29, at the age of at least 98, possibly over 100. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn now to syria where the u.s. military has attacked a syrian airfield marking the first military action the u.s. has taken against syrian president bashar al-assad's forces since the syrian war began over six years ago. according to the pentagon, 59 tomahawk missiles were dropped on the shayrat airbase. syrian state media reports nine civilians, including children four were killed. the u.s. accused assad's forces of using the shayrat airbase to carry out a recent chemical weapons attack that killed 86 people, including at least 30 children. syria denied carrying out a chemical attack, saying the deaths occurred after syrian airstrike hit a depot of
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rebel-control chemical weapons. the u.s. bombing comes just days after the trump administration signaled support for allowing assad to stay in power. but on thursday, president trump struck a very different tone. pres. trump: on tuesday am a syrian dictator bashir al-assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. , heing a deadly nerve agent choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. it was a slow and brutal death for so many. even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. no child of god should ever horror.uch war --
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tonight i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in syria from where the chemical attack was launched. it is in this vital, national security interest of the united thees to prevent and deter spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. there can be no dispute that syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the u.n. security council. amy: the u.s. notified russia in advance of the u.s. strikes, condemning the u.s. attack -- russia did calling it an act of , aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law. following the attack, russia
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suspended an agreement with u.s. aimed at coordinating airspace over syria. russia is also reportedly offering to help syria strengthen its air defenses. meanwhile, there are reports of syria threatening to fire scud missiles toward israel if u.s. carries out anymore airstrikes on syrian military targets. on capitol hill, several lawmakers have accused trump of taking the military action without congressional authorization. democratic congresswoman barbara lee of california said -- "this is an act of war. congress needs to come back into session & hold a debate. anything less is an abdication of our responsibility." meanwhile republican congressman , thomas massie sent out a tweet quoting a statement trump made in 2013 saying -- "the president must get congressional approval before attacking syria-big mistake if he does not!" we are joined today by a number of guest. we were begin with alia malek -- we begin with alia malek, author
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of "the home that was our country: a memoir of syria" and we have lina sergie attar syrian-american writer from , aleppo. she is co-founder and head of the karam foundation, a charitable organization assisting syrians inside and outside country. phyllis bennis is a fellow at the institute for policy studies. your response to this news of this first u.s. attack on the syrian government, on the syrian military in response, president trump said last night, to the gas attack on tuesday? >> yes, that is what he said. but what is actual motivations were remain to be seen. my reaction is that there are a few things that are clear. one, president trump is distinguishing himself from his predecessor and he is showing is a man of action. he has asserted or the is created thee appearance of asserting and independence from russia, which given the intrigue surrounding the russian involvement with his election, is something that would have a benefit to him.
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most importantly, what is missing, we don't really know what effect this will have on the extent to which assad will continue to act with impunity in syria. we know one of the airfield has been destroyed. we also know president assad can sort of twist just about anything to serve his own narrative. the reality is, in moments like these when the regime tends to lose face or has sort of appeared to be insulted or injured, the people who pay the price for that will be syrian civilians somewhere else. most importantly, i guess what we did learn is that for whatever reason, syrians dying by chemical weapons seems to raise the ire of people more than whether they are dying by bullets or barrel bombs. no day is different in the last six years. the civilians have been dying continuously because of both regime actors and also armed opposition actors. most of the deaths have come from regime actions.
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let me turn to lina sergie attar in boston. we spoke to you yesterday and now today. this very different world we have entered come although, as alia says, syrians are dying every day, it just seems to matter more when chemical weapons are used. your response? , withl, i agree with alia what she was saying before. wants to say that nobody more violence to happen in syria. nobody wants to welcome airstrikes in their country. but after six years of watching genocide, watching over 500,000 people die in syria, and the destruction of our homeland, today i am very happy that there is one less airfield for bush are al-assad to kill his own people, out of the toy six airfields that avenues out of the past six years to bomb the syrian people with chemical
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weapons, with barrel bombs, and all sorts of weaponry. we cannot forget the tens of thousands of people who are under torture in assad's dungeons across syria, and people are not talking about the people that have been imprisoned and are being tortured for years now. i was struck by the response of syrians on social media in the past 12 hours or so. one of the responses from an activist on facebook is that she said "just having the possibility -- only the possibility not the actual knowledge that syrians will no longer die from a chemical weapons attack makes us feel happy today. so the possibility of less debt for us is something that we have to take as a sign of positivity. that is the sad state of the world we live in. amy: phyllis bennis, do you
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think this will be to fewer deaths? >> unfortunately, i'm afraid i don't think it will. i think that the horror of this attack -- and i think there is a particular issue around these of chemical weapons because there is a particular international law prohibition against chemical weapons. so it does matter more. unfortunately, that is not what we heard from president trump. what we heard is he was motivated by the claim this was somehow in the u.s. interest, that this was going to protect americans -- which is simply not the case. he made no reference to what it might mean for syrians. he referred to it in terms of his own emotion. he was moved by seeing these children that having killed so horrifically, as i think everybody who saw or heard anything about this attack will stop at that does not take into account, as we know, the problem of the war that has been waged in syria and in the region where the deaths of children have not
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motivated either u.s. officials, the debt settlement in mosul, across syria, the deaths of refugee children are being denied entrance to the united dashed-- the bunkers he democracy from the trump administration is staggering. in a administration at slams the door in the face overwhelmingly of children and women from syria who are trying desperately to find refuge somewhere, this is something that might actually help some people. on one think an attack airfield, unfortunately, is going to change the military balance of forces. i think what we are seeing is a complete violation of international law by the united states in the context of other violations that have happened across the war battlefield in syria, certainly, more .asualties caused by the regime but violations of international law on all sides. the claim that somehow trump's
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own emotions give him the right to now violate both domestic law , no consultation with congress, and international law, no approval from the united nations, this was an illegal act. this was an act of war. to say this is somehow going to make things better for syrians, i'm afraid after this, it is going to get much worse, not better. amy: alia malek, your response? >> she raises important points, but the reality is, we don't know we cannot aluate trump's motivationbecause we have no real answers on the collusion th rsia. if it is true that trump is really friends with putin, then this is a kind of theater. this is what a lot of syrians are saying today, it is a performance to make it look like there is independence between the two world leaders. we are at day one. do i think there is some sort of articulation of a coherent policy from this administration as to what to do in syria?
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absolutely not. we are sort of speculating at this point. until we can know with transparency with the relationship is between this administration, the election, and the ssians. amy: lina, if you could respond to what phyllis said and also let's go to the comment of tulsa gabbard that i was just --king about, who just said she warned the attack could escalate to nuclear war, saying -- "it angers and saddens me that president trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the syrian government." she also said in her statement, "a successful prosecution of assad at the international criminal court will require a collection of evidence from the scene of the incident, and i support the united nations efforts in this regard. without such evidence, successful prosecution is impossible." in she went on from there
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her comments. i wanted to get your comment on her. my. she says -- don "this escalation is sort cited and will lead to more dead civilians and refugees. the strengthening of al qaeda and other terrorists in a direct confrontation between the united states and russia, which could lead to nuclear war." lina, your thoughts? sincel, for many years 2013 comes as the chemical weapons attack which killed over 1400 people, syrians themselves have said, what comes after chemical weapons? -- willh are his side try al-assad used in clear weapons against us? how much further can we escalate this work consists hearing people and syrian civilians by the assad regime and its allies? they have been suffering for many years. they have in the once living under the bombs and under the barrel bombs and under the threat of chemical weapons attacks.
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since yesterday, although, we have already heard the assad regime has struck several areas in idlib since yesterday, for the most part, syrian skies were quiet. we are that point of desperation where syrians inside syria, inside other areas across the country, said for the first time, they could hear birds in the skies. so escalation of war to a nuclear war? we don't know what will happen. but what we do know is when a government bonds its own people with chemical weapons, there must be a response. what we saw in the last to red lineation with the remarks and hundreds of chemical weapons attacks that happened since then, including several attacks this year, which nobody responded to, that, yes, the bombing of an air base makes -- my to make them think twice. we go back to this idea of the attacks because
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maybe he will think twice before bombing his own people once again. saddened by the loss of life of life every single day in syria by the destruction. no syrian will be unkilled. we have paid a very high price for what the syrian people came out on the streets in 2011 demanding dignity and freedom. we have come a long way from there. and this loss is something that we will have to mourn for very long time, decades perhaps. alia malek writes about this beautifully in her new book. "syrians have paid a high price. we hope for is the end of violence in the transition to peace, justice, and freedom for syria." amy: lina sergie attar, thank you for joining us. i know you have to leave. syrian-american writer from aleppo. alia malek also with this. atllis bennis is a fellow
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the institute for policy studies. we will be back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we continue our roundtable discussion on syria, the united states striking syrian military airbase for the first time in the six-year syrian civil war. speaking thursday, interestingly , at the women in the world summit in new york city, before the strike happened, before president trump came out in florida, former u.s. secretary of state hillary clinton said the u.s. should take out syrian
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president bashar al-assad's airfields after the chemical attack that has killed scores of people on tuesday. mrs. clinton: i think we should have been more willing to confront assad. and should take out his airfields and prevent him from doing able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them. any for more, we're going to lebanon where we are joined by yazan al-saadi, syrian canadian writer, researcher based in beirut. we are also continuing with alia malek, author of "the home that was our country: a memoir of syria." phyllis bennis is with us a , fellow at the institute for policy studies. and we're joined by medea benjamin, cofounder of code pink. let's go to lebanon right now to yazan al-saadi.
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your response to the first u.s. attack on the syrian military base after the tuesday chemical attack in syria? >> well, my first response is that i personally don't think it is going to matter much in the long term. i think it is simply a symbolic attack. let us all forget the u.s. told the russians beforehand they were going to do it. they hit a loan air base. this will not really damage the capabilities of the assad regime to do what it is doing. i also would like to highlight that regardless of the fact that it is the first so-called u.s. response on the syrian regime, the u.s. has been bombing syria since 2014, killing hundreds of civilians. so for me, i would have to disagree with my other guest alia in saying this is a positive thing. there can be nothing positive, nothing at all, from the years
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regime, nor the russian regime, and bombing the base in syria. amy: you are referring to lina. and mention it would be positive. lia this does not -- they do not give a damn about justice for syrians. when they don't give a damn about others. so i have no hope with the putin or trump regime and doing whatever they do. your actions have proven that the really don't care and pervasive we marks between each other. it is not really going to matter much for the people on the ground who are dying. >> i did not say was a positive thing. i said it might mean one less air feels from the attacks to be launched. a lot of people are weighing
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into it today. since the very beginning -- before 2011, we have been calling for accountability for the assad regime and its persecution and prosecution of dissent and opposition for years. it goes back to before 2011. similarly, never said the only way to a gauge syria or to hold charla sought or other players accountable is with military -- bashar al-assad or other players accountable is with military intervention. this regime has backers, iran and russia. the u.s. during the obama administration could have confronted them not in a military sense in syria, using syria as a proxy, but in negotiations that happened bilaterally all the time. the u.s. was negotiating a deal with iran. it had a card to play, it had leverage it could have used. i want to speak to the idea what tulsi gabbard said. there should be accountability.
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there is no way to peace syria back together if there is no accountability. but a lot of people are kind of placing syria as a character a bit character come into the larger clinical narrative of what is happening in this world. whether you're objecting to intervention by outside powers. syria becomes the latest theater to have that discussion, whether it is a discussion about sectarianism and whether sunnis are being killed by shia, it becomes a way to look at syria in that sense. i have always advocated for looking at syria for the sake of syrians, and creating a country that is stable and safe and free for all its people. azan said,te what yz i think there is no when else who cares more about syria than its own people, but he should not mischaracterize my position. one more thing, i had been struck in the last six years over the debate on syria why
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there is a fixed amount of critical thinking or fixed amount of anger or fixed amount of sympathy and empathy. once you take one position, it is as if you cannot sympathize or empathize or be critical of another position. just because one is critical of russian intervention, does it mean that you can't be critical of american intervention? in a coherent way of looking at these things, we won't fall into those traps, which a lot of people are falling into. amy: yazan al-saadi? >> i agree with her last point. there continues to be a big problem in the discussion with anda where geopolitics ideological lines are defining over and beyond their rights and dignity's of people. this has been going on and is still going on to this day. the conversations about the u.s. bombing of an airfield in syria has generated a sense of hysteria. so-called anti-imperialist front are saying this is the beginning of world war iii, which is a ridiculous statement. other people say this is the
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first time america has intervened in syria. this is not true. americans have been intervening in syria for a long time in various ways -- not really against the regime. i agree with alia there. it is not an interest to promote and develop self interest in syria. let's look at the bigger picture here. when i say that, i'm talking about not the simple anti-imperialist or geopolitics discourse. i'm talking about what about self-determination for all the communities? what is happening in syria as part of a process. this latest chapter that started in 2011 as part of a regional chapter that we saw directing from bahrain and elsewhere. any hope or any feeling by anyone that russia or the u.s. original states like turkey, iran, saudi arabia, or the regime itself care or want to promote syrian or anyone else's self-determination and freedoms
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and security. it is ridiculous. it is a ridiculous assumption, you know? amy: i want to bring in medea benjamin, who has written extensively about war. she is author of "kingdom of the unjust: behind the u.s.-saudi connection." there is certainly a saudi connection here come written about drones. your thoughts last night when you heard the u.s. had just struck a syrian military base? as he said, the u.s. is been part of coalition bombing in syria for a long time, killed hundreds of people, but this is the first time attacking a syrian military base. >> first, let's look at the history of the u.s. in the region and the legacy of the u.s. intervention with -- whether it is afghanistan, iraq, or libya, it is all been terrible for the local people. i think we on this conversation all caps out the syrian people.
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let's look at what we can do. i think that means going to congress, going out in the streets and saying we don't want the u.s. further intervention, but we do want something that will be positive for the syrian people. that means immediately lifting of the trump ban on syrian refugees coming to the united states, of funding the $5 billion that the u.n. says is desperately needed to help the humanitarian crisis facing the syrian refugees, and demand that the u.s. work with russia to finally come to a cease-fire and work for a political solution, and at the united nations get involved in this. i think this is an opening that we have to seize to say enough is enough. enough people have died. more war is not the answer. let's find a political solution. to whatant to turn people are seeing on tv, was started to take over the networks last night.
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when the pentagon released video footage of the u.s. missiles firing. this is msnbc anchor brian williams referring to that pentagon video fired at syria as before, something like three times in 30 seconds. >> go into greater detail. we see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two ws in the vessels in the eastern mediterranean. i intended to quote the great leonard cohen. "i'm guided by the beauty of our weapons." they're beautiful pictures of your some armaments making what is for them a brief flight over this carefully owned -- this airfield. what do they hit? >> that is msnbc brian williams speaking last night, describing that footage, that tomahawk cruise missiles flying into the air from the naval warships, reminding one of back in 2003,
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shot and awe in a wreck. certainly, a very different scale. medea, your response? >> it is disgusting, this glorification of weapons that -- mass destruction as much as the use of chemical weapons. the u.s. has been incinerating people for years with drone strikes, killed over 200 people in mosul just recently. the u.s. is arming the saudis that is led to the catastrophic situation in yemen where one child is dying every single 10 minutes. we should not glorify the weapons, and we should not have selective sympathy for people who are dying, whether they are weapons or other nations weapons. amy: these are some of the tweets from president trump on is 2013.this the reason this period is significant, it was after the first chemical weapons attack, when some 1400 syrians died.
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-- weeted "what i am saying is, stay out of syria." "if obama attacks syria and innocent civilians are hurt and killed, he and the u.s. will look very bad." again, to our very foolish leader, do not attack syria. if you do, many very bad things will happen. and from that fight, the u.s. gets nothing." "president obama, do not attack syria. there is no outside interests downside. save your powder for another and more important day." i was wondering if yazan al-saadi would respond to what president trump said four years ago after that first chemical attack? >> what is there to respond to? very revolting human being who is xenophobic, and a constant liar. there isn't much to respond to
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this man. amy:nk he is clearly -- on but today -- last night, talking about the cruel suffocating of the children? >> when he is talking other cruel seventh two -- suffocation of children, this is a man, these babies drowning on the shores of the mediterranean sea with her family tried to escape the horrors of syria. this man does not mind bombing places in iraq were hundreds of people have died. this man does not mind supporting saudi arabia, the world's most embarrassing country and the slaughter of yemen. this man does not mind making a deal with bashar al-assad, revolting tyrants in order to fight isis. so i can't really take him seriously, nor can i take sears the as will another individual who is as revolting, putin. both of them are fascist individuals. both of them do not give a damn
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about the people or the community of the world. for me the responses, why would i respond to a xenophobic, disgusting individual? amy: phyllis bennis of the institute for policy studies in washington, what has changed or donald trump? i mean, even a few days ago, on friday, you had rex tillerson, the secretary of state, and nikki haley, the u.s. ambassador to the united nations, saying that they are shifting years and their priority is not to get assad out. >> that was not a shift in years. a shifting gears would now be because suddenly it has of trump's emotional reaction to the deaths of these particular children, what yazan al-saadi set is crucially important. the have policy, the selective outrage that this group of children somehow sparks the outrage that did not exist when children were slaughtered under u.s. bombs in mosul, when children were killed trying to make the crossing with their parents to a united states that
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would not accept them, slamming a door in their face and drowning on the beach as a result. is not about a strategy. this is about a lashing out. it may be tied to concerns about all of the political ways that the trump administration is losing support -- that is early part of it. but i think we also have to recognize that historically, the role of the united states in the region has included a long-standing relationship with the regime of bashar al-assad and his father, whether he was recruiting the father into bring his air force to help the united states bomb iraq in 1991 where syrian planes were part of that coalition, in 2002 when the charlotte sod agreed the united states would be able to outsource torture and interrogation to syria because they were experts at that and sent u.s. held detainees to be torture by the syrian regime in syria. this history of relationship
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collaboration, coalition with the syrian regime and then at particular moments, for their own purposes, and it is true, it has nothing to do with concerns about the people of syria. 11re are now at least separate wars being waged in syria. and only one of them has something to do with the people of syria. whether we're talking about the war between turkey and the kurds, between saudi arabia and iran. all of these wars are being waged in syria. the effect in syria is it is syrians to the dying. it is not syrians who stand to gain from any of these wars. the only thing we need to do with these wars is not to win inm, but to end the fighting syria. this escalation by the united states of its existing level of bombing and special forces, engagement, and intervention in syria has now been escalated to direct bombing against the
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regime target. this will make things worse, not better. the call i think needs to be to stop the bombing, stop the claim that somehow there is a military solution here. it knowledge there is no mill at -- acknowledge there is to military solution, a figure out how to make the kind of massive investment of high-profile time, of money, of attention, of all of the things into diplomacy, negotiation, a new approach that is not going to be based on the clearly false assumption that somehow this is a war that can be won. it cannot be won. it has to be ended instead. amy: let me end on refugees ,alia. president trump not only as president, but on the campaign, repeatedly said he will keep syrian refugees out of this country, every last one. what now? syrian heard about a
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actist, scholar with a fridge has port just denied coming into the country in washington, even know the court has says you cannot institute this muslim ban. it is not as if there is not as if there isn't a crackdown all over the world around muslims coming in, particularly syrians. quite i do not like to protect the future, but i do not see a massive change. i think americans attention spans are short. it does not appear to me that trump -- like everyone is set, trump does not care about the syrian people. i'm not sure he is willing to confront russia in syria in a massive escalation. i think -- calling it an emotional response is quite generous. the russians cleared their people from the basis. syrians cleared their people from the base. amy: u.s. warned russia. >> it was a highly orchestrated -- that is what it looks like for me. i think tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, something else he will be tweeting about or something else will happen.
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attention spans woman. he will not change his policy toward syrians. look at what he is done as opposed to what he said last night. do i believe he is really committed to syrians living in dignity and peace? i don't think so. amy: media benjamin, rex tillerson will be meeting with lavrov of russia. lavrov condemned the attack, but also left the door open for conversation. where do you think this goes? >> to where we wanted to go is to talk to the russians not about how to divvy up airspace to continue killing syrians, but how to end of this and put it in the context of president trump upping the ante by calling for $54 billion more in the u.s. budget for the military. the only ones benefiting from this is raytheon, northrop grumman, the military-industrial complex. trump once to widen wars in
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syria. he also wants to widen wars in iraq and yemen. i think we have to stop him before he takes us down a path of greater and greater militarization throughout the middle east. amy: i want to thank you all for being with us will stop 11 and, yazan al-saadi, syrian canadian writer in beirut. alia malek, author of "the home that was our country: a memoir of syria." phyllis bennis is a fellow at the institute for policy studies. medea benjamin is the cofounder of cooking. thank you to lina sergie attar who joined us earlier from boston. when we come back, the nuclear option. no, we're not talking about syria. we're talking about choosing a supreme court justice. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn now to capitol hill where senators voted along party , lines thursday for a historic rule change that will allow supreme court justices to be confirmed by a simple majority.
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the 52-48 vote ended a democratic-led filibuster aimed at blocking neil gorsuch's confirmation, clearing the way for a senate vote today on president trump's pick for the supreme court. republican senate majority leader mitch mcconnell said the move was necessary to break a stalemate. independent and he is fair. he is beyond qualified, and he will make a stellar addition to the supreme court. hardly anyone in the legal community seems to argue otherwise. and yet, our democratic colleagues appear poised to block this incredible nominee with the first successful partisan filibuster in american history. it would be a radical move, something completely unprecedented in the history of our senate.
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amy: mcconnell's comments came more than a year after he led his senate colleagues on a campaign to refuse to even consider president obama's pick for the supreme court, merrick garland. democrats quickly condemned the move by republicans to end the filibuster in supreme court confirmations, the so-called "nuclear option." this is senate minority leader, democrat chuck schumer of new york. >> the nuclear option means the end of a long history of consensus on supreme court nominations. it weakens the standing of the senate as a whole, as a check on the president's ability to shape the judiciary. in a postnuclear world, if the senate and the presidency are in the hands of the same party, there is no incentive even speak to the senate minority. that is a recipe for more conflict and bad blood between the parties, not less. gorsuch is expected to
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be confirmed today in a final vote today, replacing justice antonin scalia nearly 14 months after scalia's death. for more, we go to washington, d.c., where we are joined by ian millhiser, a senior fellow at the center for american progress action fund, the editor of thinkprogress justice, and the author of the book, "injustices: the supreme court's history of comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted." well, to say the least, there is not a lot of attention outside of washington right now being paid to what is happening in washington. some concern about a nuke their option or a war in syria that could lead to that, but not the nuclear option and washington, d.c. at least, it is not getting a cut of attention. explain what has just happened. >> so what happened is the senate rules were changed to allow this very, very conservative judge to get through on a simple majority vote. mean, is very sad -- i i'm not going to cry over the demise of the filibuster, but it is very sad that this man is going to be on the court.
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, someone likely to be hostile to voting rights, very hostile to women's rights, rights. hostile to lgbt writ for example, in the middle of his hearing, he had come as a lower court judge, written a decision that severely hobbled a law protecting disabled children . the supreme court unanimously ofrruled him in the middle his hearing. so this is a guy who is going to be very, very far to the right. that he takes, frankly, a cruel approach to the law in many cases. now he will be the key fifth vote on a lot of issues. amy: ian millhiser, talk about the significance of the 60 versus 50 vote, how unusual this is. >> well, i think what is unusual here is that typically, presidents don't appoint someone
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who is this far to the right or left. typically, presidents have picked someone likely to form most of consensus. sonia sotomayor and elena kagan are liberals, but they are not extremists. even john roberts -- he is in someone i will like to see of the supreme court, but chief justice roberts, president bush's first nominee, has shown some ability to moderate himself. i don't think we are when you see that out of gorsuch. i think when you look at his record, he could potentially be as far to the right as justice thomas, who said federal child labor laws were unconstitutional. i think what has happened here is that this president decided to push the envelope as far as he could. there are people he could have named that would have gotten 60 votes. he just decided he would rather have this much more conservative guy, and now here we are with the rules change because of it.
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amy: so when will he be seated? on what decisions, if he is voted in today, will he be a part of? for example, the muslim ban. >> the muslim ban could potentially be the first major action he takes as a supreme court justice. in that case, i believe it is pending before the ninth circuit, which is one step below the supreme court. assuming the ninth circuit upholds -- rather, leaves the decision in place halting the van, then the trump administration is likely to go straight to the supreme court seeking an emergency stay. i think gorsuch, based on his record, at least, is likely to be a vote to grant that state. we have a ton of the cases coming up. with a major -- several major voter suppression cases, including potentially north carolina voters suppression law. give a big challenge to partisan gerrymandering where he is likely to be a vote in favor of
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gerrymandering. we just had a case out of the seventh circuit saying it is illegal to fire someone because they are gay. gorsuch is likely to be a vote saying, oh, no, it is perfectly legal to fire someone for that reason. amy: ian, thank for being with us and ask you to stay so we can do a post show interview. we will put it on democracynow.org. ian millhiser, senior fellow at the center for american progress action fund and the editor of thinkprogress justice. that does it for our show. happy birthday to matt ealy! i will be speaking tonight in denver at the su teatro performing arts center and then on saturday i will be speaking in castlegar, british columbia in canada. check our website for details. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to outreach@democracynow.org or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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