tv Washington Week PBS July 30, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm PST
tonight on "washington week." for democrats, headaches and more headaches. >> a public office is a public trust. our task is to determine whether representative rangel's conduct met that standard. >> there's no evidence that i have been guilty of corruption. >> the house ethics committee sees it differently. and with midterm elections just over three months away, a debate over the economy. is it picking up rapidly enough? >> we've got a long way to go. but we're beginning to see some of these tough decisions pay off. we are moving forward. >> the administration wins one in arizona, where our tough new immigration law is almost
entirely struck down. >> we are going to continue to request that we get heard on this and that the citizens of arizona are protected. >> and the war in afghanistan continues on its bumpy course with new revelations -- a classified insider's view of the war and fresh evidence of how stress is hurting the effort. covering the week, karen tumulty of "the washington post," pete williams of nbc news and martha raddatz of abc news. >> award-winning reporting and analysis, covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill, produced in association with jat journal. is provided by -- >> we know why we're here. to connect our forces to what they need, when they need it. >> to help truth see danger
before it sees them. >> to answer the call of the brave and bring them safely home. >> around the globe the people of boeing are working together to support and protect all who serve. >> that's why we're here. >> additional funding for "washington week" is provided by exxonmobil, the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation, the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting, and by trutions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. after 40 years in congress capped by his tenure as chairman of the house ways and means committee, charlie rangel liked to say that having survived the korean war, he'd never had a bad
day since. that changed yesterday. the house ethics committee charged the 80-year-old new york democrat with 13 violations, ranging from failure to report income to conflicts of interest. what's more, if no plea deal is cut, the trial on those charges will take place in the heat of an already heated midterm election campaign. how are democrats taking all of this, karen? >> well, it was just about the last thing that they wanted added to their plate on top of everything else that they have to deal with as they go home for the august recess. and then this east coast, as we were getting ready to go to air, cbs put out comments from president obama in an interview that they are going to be broadcasting, and the president said -- go ahead. he said i'm sure that what he wants to do is be able to end his career with dignity, and my hope is that it happens.
gwen: 80 years old. that's a lower blow than i think rangel thought he would be getting from the president that he supported. >> well, what everyone would like to see, as i said, is for this to go away. because coming back in september, if in fact they do have to have this trial in front of a subcommittee of the house ethics committee, this is going to drag on for weeks, possibly months, right into the election. and the good news for charlie rangel, if there is any this week, is that the subcommittee suggested that what they want to recommend is a reprimand. that is a relatively minor sanction compared to the other things that they could have done, including expulsion of the former chairman of the ways and means committee from the house. so i think the pressure is going to be there over the next few weeks for them to come to a resolution. gwen: what i don't get about this is if the committee -- the subcommittee was signaling a reprimand, which is a relatively mild sanction, why would the
president go quite this ballistic and why did we see nancy pelosi earlier this week say, hey, let the chips fall where they may. >> that has a lot to do with how charlie rangel has conducted himself throughout the two years almost that this has been going on. in the ethics report this week, there were several complaints about how he had missed deadlines for turning in evidence that they had requested, how at various points he was blaming this on the media, saying there was no basis for these charges, even as he knew that the ethics committee was preparing this bill of particulars against him. so i think looking at the past two years there was some feeling that something had to be done. >> well, is it fair to say that charlie rangel isn't worried, basically saying, give it your best shot, because he's in a very safe district? he'll get re-elected, no matter what? >> one thing he does want to do is have all this go past his primary. he wants to sort of go out, if he does, i think, on his own
terms. and he is also arguing that if he is given a chance to defend himself on these charges, which consists of failure to pay taxes on properties that he owns, which he says was a mistake, which is sort of a difficult argument to make when you have been the chairman of the committee that writes the tax law, pressuring donors who have -- pressuring people who have business before the ways and means committee to give to a school that was being built in his honor, and also suggestions that he had improperly been operating a campaign office out of a rent-subsidized apartment in new york. there is just such a long list of charges at this point. >> isn't he vulnerable in his own district? >> charlie rangel came to power over adam clayton powell's scandal. so i think he understands that, yes, he could possibly be if this gets bad enough. >> karen, let's move forward to the midterms in the next couple
of months and how much this really hurts the democrats. and you put in the economy with all of that. >> well, the economy is, obviously, you know, the main -- >> well, it was interesting. we did hear a little half glass full out of the the president today. the economics indicate that this is the slowest growth in almost a year. it's 2.4%. that suggests a significant slowing of the recovery. so that even as president obama was saying today that at least we're still seeing progress on the economy, most economists would tell you that 2.4% growth is not enough to be bringing back jobs. and that is, of course, the main thing that has to happen before the american public, the american voters, really feel like this is a true recovery. >> karen, how much does the anxiety that we are seeing from democrats, whether it's over the rangel mess or over the interpretation of the economy, how much is it about potential
for distractions to create chaos? for instance, john boehner has been out there saying i've got nothing against charlie rangel, but it means that nancy pelosi is bad because she promised to drain the swamp. >> exactly. that was the rallying cry to which the democrats came to power in 2006, that they were going to drain the swamp. so it is now, i think, incumbent on them to prove that they have shown some results on this. because, of course, their argument in this midterm is you don't want to go back to the bad old days of the republicans and their policies. so it's very important for the democrats to prove that some change has taken place. but this week they afountainsed that they will be putting -- announced that they will be putting significant amounts of money into 60 different congressional races. 54 of those are seats that are currently held by democrats. they are playing defense across the map and in places, i think, where they weren't expecting to be nervous. >> isn't the plan, in spending
all this money, just to stop the amount of damage? they don't actually expect to be able to win the majority of seats. they're in a pretty precarious situation. >> at this point no one -- certainly what they're hoping is just for a typical number of seats to be lost. they know that they will be coming back in the house in particular with fewer seats than they have, if they can hold on to that majority. but that majority is very much at risk. gwen: thank you, karen. it's been an interesting week. lots of things going on. there was a federal judge in arizona also raised the ante for the fall elections this week by knocking out much of the underpinnings of that state's tough immigration law. the court said arizona exceeded its authority when it enacted the law, but governor jan brewer has already appealed the decision. >> the bottom line is that the people of arizona are frustrated. we shouldn't have to do it. the federal government should be doing it. and if they won't, well, the legislature and the people of arizona overwellingly believe that we need to enforce it and help them do their job.
gwen: but did judge susan bolton's decision actually make that impossible, pete? >> no, not completely. because what the judge did away with is a part of the law that required police to check the immigration records for every single person who is arrested in arizona. so the requirement is gone. police can still do these background checks if they want to. and in fact, many police departments will. you know, police and sheriff's offices were very divided over this law. some thought it was a good idea, some not. so the people who thought it was a good idea can vounltearl do these checks. but requiring everybody to do these checks is going to so overwhelm the federal system, that it will frustrate what they wanted the government to do, which is have a priority for illegal immigrants who are criminal or have a criminal record, who are a danger to public safety, potential terrorists. and the judge said you put that together and the fact that all these immigration checks are going to mean people will be detained while the police have to call the federal government and find out whether these folks
are here legal le or not, that will cause people who are legally here, including u.s. citizens, to be detained for who knows how long. she says that interferes with the federal law and you can't do that. that is basically pre-emented. so that was the basis of the judge's ruling. >> let's reminds people of the history of jan brewer. she came to the white house and met with the president. she signed this bill. she thinks it's a good idea. and her argument is that she's forcing the federal government to do its job but she'll appeal it all the way to the supreme court, if that's what it takes. what does me mean by that? >> what she's saying is look who's frustrating the intent of congress. congress passed a law intend us to get tough with illegal immigration. look who isn't doing it. it's the federal government. but the feds say there's only so much we can do. we have limited resource. so let's decide what the biggest problem is and let's not be calling us every day with thousands and thousands of people, everybody that you pick up off the street. now, one other thing -- the
judge's ruling also noted that 18 other states are considering following arizona's lead. and she said basically it's one thing if arizona does this. but if this is allowed in arizona and all these other states do it, that's just going to make it that much more frustrating for the federal government, because every state will be doing the same thing and overwhelming them with checks for immigration. >> if you go to the appeals court, when can you expect a decision? >> well, here's a little bit of news. the state of arizona had hoped for a relatively quick proceeding. they wanted oral argument in mid september. now, they're going to get a relatively quick proceeding in terms of the federal courts. but late today the federal court said we'll hear argument on this in early november. so that means that this is not going to get decided until very late in the year, and then after that -- >> wait a second. early november as in just before the elections? >> he will with, the argument they said -- the clerk said it will be scheduled the first week in november.
[laughter] so we don't know what the date will be for the argument. but then you have to wait a while, of course, for the court to decide it. and they have no time limit for when they'll actually make the decision. >> all these other states, is this in fact going to freeze them in place, or are they likely to proceed with their own laws? >> i think that many of them may proceed with their own laws, because this judge's ruling has effect only in arizona. now, if the ninth circuit court of appeals agrees with the judge, then in theory that could affect the nine or 10 western states that are in the ninth circuit. but oklahoma, south carolina, a lot of other states that are well along in trying to follow arizona's lead, a federal court of appeals decision would mean nothing to them. >> gwen: one the things that came up in every discussion about this law especially from the people who opposed it so virulently, that enforcing it would require racial profiling, something that governor brewer and legislators in arizona said
would never happen. did this become part of the argument of the court? >> it's not mentioned at all in the judge's ruling. she was basically ruling on the justice department's lawsuit. there were several other lawsuits against this law, and they did raise the racial profiling. civil rights group said it. the justice department didn't bring it up, and it isn't a part of the judge's ruling. it's all about this preemption question. by the way, if this gets to the supreme court, there is a case pending that the supreme court will hear in this coming term about an arizona law that would crack down on businesseswho hire illegal immigrants. and the question in that case is federal preemption. so we may get a preview before this new case gets to the supreme court. we may get a preview of what the supreme court thinks about this whole issue. gwen: why didn't they mention the racial profiling argument? >> because they made a tactical decision. they're challenging the law before it goes into effect. what arizona is saying is we promise, we're not going to racially profile. wait till we do it.
watch us in action. that's a better argument, maybe, to make after it's put into effect. but the justice department wanted it challenged before it went into effect. gwen: purely from a political point of view, especially with the argument that it's not a decision just happening before the electric, did anything that happened this week put this off on the back burner, or did it just inflame the issue of immigration to the extent that people get inflamed over this issue periodically? >> there seems to be a certain amount of scheduled outrage that unfolded in arizona. i think a lot of people were going to have protests on the day the law was scheduled to go into effect, no matter what the judge said. so we saw that play out a little bit. but the governor is already saying, well, the court pointed out some problems. and both sides admit this law was not well drafted. there were ambiguous things in it. so the judge said maybe we should have the legislature come back and fibblings it. so in terms of arizona, nothing has happened to let any of the
steam out of this. gwen: at the beginning of the week we were inundated with 90,000 documents on the war in afghanistan, previously classified accounts of the war's progress or lack thereof. the administration's first response was a collective shrug. >> while i'm concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is these documents don't reveal any issues that haven't already informed our public debate on afghanistan. gwen: but as the week wore on and people began to actually read the documents, the response shifted both here and abroad. >> this indeed is extremely irresponsible and shocking, because whether those individuals acted legitimately or i will ledge git matly in providing -- illegitimately in providing information to the
into the forces, there are lives and those lives will be in danger now. >> disagree with the war all you want. take issue with the policy. challenge me or our ground commanders on the decisions we make to accomplish the mission we've been h-been given, but don't put those who willingly go into harm's way even further in harm's way just to satisfy your need to make a point. gwen: i was strk, martha, by how at the beginning of the week they were trying to play this down. by the ends of the week, especially yesterday with admiral mullen and secretary gates, there was a burst of outrage. >> freddie macly, there should have been a burst of outrage. when president obama and others in the white house were talking at the beginning of the week, it's what you said. no one had really reed it. they were surprised when the documents came out. some read it and said that's not a big deal. but when you started reading that they had actually named
afghan informants and those names were on the website, then you really are talking about life and death. and if you think about it even beyond that, if you think about the fact that a lot of those afghan informations, who, by the way, a taliban person said today they would go looking for them. i've been in touch with some commanders over there who said they're trying to find them to help them. but those people, number one, won't come forward anymore. people will be scared to come forward. and what that does is put u.s. forces more at risk. so that's why there was that incredible change of tone. gwen: especially in a week where we had new record casualty numbers that were set. >> july is the deadliest month for u.s. can casualties of the war. we said that in june at this very table and said that was the deadliest month. there were 60 americans killed in june. thus far there have been 66 americans killed this july. and i don't think things are going to improve for a while. you don't even have all the
surge troops in there. so this indeed was a really startling week and particularly with those documents. >> so, martha, what can you tell us about wikileaks and the person behind it, and also, the private first class who is suspected of having provided them all that material? >> well, the founder of wikileaks is a man named julian assan. he's 39 years old, an australian, and he heralded letting out all the documents at the beginning of the week. he was questioned about it when it came forward that there were names of afghans in there who he had said that they had gone through the documents and they had taken out. well, in fact, you can't go through 90,000 documents and take it out. and he basically said that it was collateral damage. i think he said it on "the today show," that it was collateral damage. and he started blaming the military for perhaps a misclassification of the documents. but i can tell you, all of those documents that named afghans
said "secret" on them. so they were not misclassified by the military. now, private first class bradley manning is accused of leaking a combat camera video a couple of months ago in may that showed an apache helicopter, i believe it was, with hell fire missiles killing a reuters cameraman. two reuters cameramen, i believe. so he is charged with that. the man who turned him in had had an online conversation with him, and by his screen name, which is a very obvious name, it might have been bradley manning. but he turned him in to pentagon investigators. they found him, they arrested him. he's now in quantico, virginia, and will likely face court-martial. the pentagon is not positive that he leaked all of these documents. they are going to look at his computer. i have a question, too. i want to know what his supervisors were doing if he was sitting there day after day and
downloading 90,000 classified documents and apparently bragging online, if in fact this was him bragging online, saying he was listening -- he would pretend he was listening to lady gaga and downloading c.d.'s at the same time. so how did he spend all day doing that without anyone else noticing? so i wouldn't be surprised if they also looked elsewhere. >> let me ask you about the number of casualty. you say this is the deadliest month. what's behind that? why is that the fact? >> well, certainly there are more operations going on, and particularly in the south. but frankly, pete, it's no, sir i.e.d.'s. the bigger we make vehicles, the more we invest in that, the bigger they make the bombs. the majority of people are being killed by i.e.d.'s. now, there's a lot of small-arms fire. they've had a lot of small-arms fire death and it's probably close to equal. but those bombs, after billions and billions of dollars, are killing so many of our forces and collision forces.
>> and so many of other other forces are suffering in another way. you did a report about stress and suicide and even criminal behavior going up among members of the army. >> this was a really astonishing report for many reasons. first of all, it was the army being very critical of itself, saying we have got to tackle this problem. we've tried to tackle this problem. but we've been in the middle of two wars and look at the statistics now. this was one quote from the report. "more soldiers died from non-combat injuries than war. with the vast majority from suicide, murder or high-risk behavior by drunk driving." one of the other startling things are they're also attracting people who like high risk. gwen: seems like it's only a mess but we'll keep following it anyway. thank you, everyone. we have to leave you a few minutes early this week to give you the opportunity to support your local station, which, in turn, supports us. but keep up with daily developments every night at the pbs "newshour" online and on the air. send your thoughts and questions
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