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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 12, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: the house is poised to pass a bipartisan budget deal today despite opposition from conservatives. we talk to one of the architects of the compromise, washington democratic senator patty murray. good evening. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. also ahead this thursday: a new series of interviews with lawmakers on government surveillance. tonight, margaret warner talks to the chairman of the house intelligence committee, michigan republican congressman mike rogers. >> ifill: and the story of the families of children killed in newtown, turning their loss into a call to curb gun violence one year after the tragedy. >> my way of grieving is to be active and to ensure that this
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isn't just a senseless tragedy. this is my way of honoring dylan and the others that died, and providing him a legacy. >> ifill: those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic
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performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: a hard-fought deal to set the federal government's spending for the next two years moved toward approval in congress today. newshour congressional correspondent kwame holman has our report. >> the house will be in order. >> reporter: the house was gaveled into session, intent on finishing the budget deal before leaving for christmas. lawmakers from both sides said the agreement wasn't perfect but a step in the right direction. wisconsin republican paul ryan, chairing the house budget
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committee, helped craft the proposal. >> this is the government, it's also divided government. and to make divided government work you can't ask each other to compromise a core principles, because we don't do that here. we ask each other to find some common ground to advance the common good. and that's what this agreement does. >> reporter: the deal would void $63 billion in automatic, across-the-board spending cuts. in their place, $85 billion in targeted cuts, plus increased revenues-- including higher airline security fees-- to be achieved over the next decade. the bill does not extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, to the dismay of many democratic lawmakers. jim mcgovern of massachusetts: >> let's not turn our backs on the most vulnerable in this country. it has become unfashionable to in this congress to worry about the poor. it has become unfashionable to stand up for these programs just to help people get by.
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this is the holiday season. have a heart! >> reporter: republicans argued jobless benefits should be handled separately. georgia's rob woodall: >> the gentleman knows that anything short of a bipartisan, bicameral solution is showboating for those folks who are hurting, not doing a daggum thing to help them. we don't need showboating in this institution, mr. speaker. we need results. >> reporter: republicans also faced pressure from outside conservative groups opposed to the deal, but, for a second day, speaker john boehner rebuked them. >> i came here to fight for a smaller, less costly, more it's not everything i wanted, but when groups come out and criticize an agreement they've never seen, you begin to wonder just how credible those actions are. >> reporter: the senate is expected to take up the budget measure next week before leaving for the holidays. >> woodruff: the senate held a marathon all-night session and continued without respite today as a battle over presidential nominees played out. republicans slowed things down
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in retaliation for new curbs on their power to filibuster, but democrats pushed through more federal judge nominees anyway. western-backed rebels in syria are urging the u.s. and britain to restore the flow of non- lethal aid. it was cut this week when islamist factions captured storage warehouses. but defense secretary chuck hagel promised today the u.s. will not leave the moderate opposition in the lurch. we'll explore the plight of pro- western rebels right after the news summary. the u.s. today blacklisted more than a dozen companies and individuals and froze their assets, for evading sanctions against iran. the crackdown came as the obama administration tries to show it is keeping pressure on iran even as it eases some sanctions as part of a nuclear deal. the treasury department's sanctions chief, david cohen, took that message to a senate hearing.
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>> we know there may be some who believe now might be a good time to test our resolve. i want to be clear. we are watching closely. and we are prepared to take action against anyone anywhere who violates or attempts to violate our sanctions. >> woodruff: the administration has also urged congress to hold off imposing any new sanctions on iran, for now. today, democratic senator tim johnson, chairing the banking committee, said he agrees diplomacy needs time to play out. kim jong-un former mentor was executed, considered the second most powerful officials in the communist state but was arrested in recent days on charges of corruption, gambling and womanizing. today's announcement branded him a traiter. the government of ukraine now says it will sign a landmark trade deal with the european union, after all. president viktor yanukovych shelved the agreement last month
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in favor of closer ties with russia, but his deputy prime minister said today that the e.u. is promising additional aid. meanwhile, in a televised speech, russian president vladimir putin said he wants what's best for ukraine. >> i very much hope that all political forces in ukraine will be able to reach a deal in the interests of the ukrainian people and solve all existing problems. >> woodruff: the issue has sparked sweeping anti-government protests in ukraine. thousands turned out in kiev again today, demanding a shift away from russia and toward the e.u. in thailand, anti-government protesters cut off power and water to the prime minister's office compound in a bid to force her resignation. yingluck shinawatra was not at her office when the demonstrators removed barbed wire and climbed over the compound's fence. they demanded that police leave the site. the prime minister has already
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called new elections, which the protesters reject. now, she plans talks with various factions on sunday. a mob in the central african republic went on a rampage today, hunting for muslims. their intended victims were holed up in a church compound in bangui, the mainly christian capital city. african union peacekeepers fired into the air to break up the crowd. it happened just days after more than 500 people died in the capital, in sectarian fighting. meanwhile, the u.s. military began airlifting troops from burundi to bolster the peacekeeping force. for a second day, thousands of mourners paid final respects to nelson mandela in pretoria, south africa. they filed past as the country's first black president lay in state. he's to be buried sunday in the village where he spent his childhood. meanwhile, the man accused of faking the sign language interpretation for tuesday's memorial service was heard from.
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he said he suffers from schizophrenia and started hallucinating as the service began. >> i see engines coming to the stadium and immediately i see engines coming to the stadium. i start realizing that the problems here, and the problem, i don't know of this problem, how will it come. >> woodruff: the man said he feared he might become violent standing just a few feet from president obama and other world leaders. the south african government admitted that he was not a professional interpreter. jpmorgan chase may pay $2 billion in penalties j.p. morgan chase may pay $2 billion in penalties and face criminal charges for not taking action against rogue financier bernie madoff. the "new york times" reported the tentative deal today. federal agencies say the bank "turned a blind eye" to madoff's ponzi scheme.
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he's serving a 150-year prison term for defrauding thousands of investors. on wall street today, stocks slumped over renewed concerns that the federal reserve may start winding down its economic stimulus efforts. the dow jones industrial average lost 104 points to close at 15,739. the nasdaq fell five points to close at 3,998. still to come on the newshour: the decline of moderate rebels in syria; an architect of the budget compromise; extending deadlines to ensure americans get health insurance; do there need to be news laws to curb n.s.a. spying?; and the families of newtown, one year later. >> ifill: now, to syria. in the past week, we have taken a close look at the weakening of the free-syrian army and the rise of islamist fighters in the war-torn country. now, as the u.s. and britain pull back, there are serious
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questions about whether moderates fighting to overthrow president bashar al-assad can survive. >> what has occurred here in the last couple of days is a clear reflection on how complicated and dangerous this situation is and how unpredictable it is. >> ifill: defense secretary chuck hagel summed things up today after the u.s. and britain cut off non-lethal aid to western-backed rebels in northern syria. the action came after other insurgents from the islamic front seized weapons warehouses in bab-al-hawa, near the turkish border. hagel said u.s. military gear, from supply trucks to communications equipment, must not fall into the islamists' hands. >> but this is a problem... i mean, what has occurred here, a big problem. and we're going to have to work through it and manage through it with general idris and moderate opposition.
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>> ifill: general salim idris commands the western-backed rebels, but he's been forced to flee syria in recent days. today, though, his supporters insisted he invited the islamic front to intervene and take the warehouses back from an al qaeda group known as the islamic state of iraq and al-sham, or "isis." >> s.m.c. warehouses were ran over by isis, by the islamic state, three, four days ago. as a result of that, general selim idris sent a request to the islamic front to help protect these warehouses. >> ifill: the internal splintering among rebel groups has made it increasingly difficult for the u.s. to find a reliable partner to force syrian president bashar al assad from office. arizona senator john mccain said today the obama administration is to blame, saying n a statement:
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the latest developments come just one month before a syria peace conference is scheduled to begin in switzerland. so, might evidence of a weakened opposition derail those geneva peace talks? for that, i'm joined by: murhaf jouejati, an opposition activist and professor of middle east studies at the national defense university in washington-- he was born in syria; and joshua landis, director of the center for middle east studies at the university of oklahoma and editor of the web site "syria comment." mr. jouejati, was the administration, was the obama administration wise to pull back? >> it was not wise to pullback. it should reverse the trend that has been taking place for some weeks now which is the weakening of the moderate rebel forces and the rise of the extremist forces. and the way to reverse this is to support the moderate
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forces. these are the allies of the yoonteded states. these are the democratic forces calling for democracy in syria. so again, it is an unfortunate decision that was made by the united states, although it may be understandable given the nervousness of the u.s. with regard to the extremist groups in syria. >> ifill: with the splintering within the opposition forces themselves. >> correct, the opposition forces are moderate to less moderate, to radical. and it is the moderate forces we should concentrate on and support in view of democratizing syria. >> ifill: what is your take on the administrations take. >> i think it is vindication of obama's policy of careful, trying to stay out of syria. because there are now many factions in syria fighting, we see this as not just a war between assad and rebels. it's ben islamist, al qaeda,
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some moderate factions. the kurds have the northeast, known the northeast. if the united states picks, tries to pick a side and make a winner, it is going to have to fight on many different fronts this is something the american public doesn't have the energy or the money to spend on. and most of your show here is about budget problems in washington. this is a very expensive and difficult endeavor. america's cannot do it. >> ifill: you heard what john mccain said which is the problem here is the united states didn't bring enough to this fight. >> you know h this is what-- look it, we went into iraq and in three weeks we destroyed saddam hussein, criminalize the bath party, got rid of the army and handed over the country to the rebels that we were supporting, or the opposition we were supporting without them having to fire a shot. and what happened? over the next three years the country split into civil war. everybody radicallized and the american army was strained to its very core trying to hold that country together. we spent over $3 trillion to
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do it and it's barely six, 7,000 people were killed in political violence in iraq last year. you know, everybody told us iraq would be a cake walkment people would kiss us. and you know the pun dirts got iraq totally wrong. and i think they're getting syria wrong too. syria was going to lead toward islamism just the way every other arab spring country has lead toward islamism. it is the dominant-- . >> ifill: i have to let professor jouejati respond to that. >> if the united states does not support the moderates in syria, yes, the islamists will gain its upper hand. and it will be a battle between a dictator who has killed 126,000 of his people, who has gassed his people. it will be a battle between him and the extremists. at any rate, the united states, if it does not support the democratic forces in syria, the moderate forces, that means it is going to have to intervene later on, at a time not of its choosing.
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>> ifill: do you assume that in pulling back this nonlethal aid there is still humanitarian aid going on. apparently there is a small covert arms sales or arms transit that is still going on. do you interpret that as the first step to the united states getting out of the way and leting aadd is a-- assad stay in office. >> that would be dangerou dangerous-- dangerous for the united states that is calling for assad ouster, that has drawn red lines because of the chemical weapons he has used to suddenly reverse its position. it would tarnish the credibility and the reputation of the united states. the united states has national security interests to advance here, its own. and it can only do that through the democratic forces in syria. not allowing assad to rule any more. he is a dictator that has killed 126,000 of his people. he is a man who has made 7 million refugees. and in proportion to the united states t that is a hundred million american refugees. >> ifill: so joshua landis,
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first of all, do you think this first step is the a permanent step away of u.s. involvement leaving assad in power. and what is the other option for the u.s. here? >> well, you know, most people in washington, most of the official washingtonians are saying that assad has to step down. but there's going to be a political solution. and yet no one has a plan to make assad step down. he says he's not going to do it. who is going to make him step down. nob is going to do it unles unless-- be in will do it unless it's american marines. and everything points that obama is to the going to do that. if you are going to get a cease-fire in a country are you have to have people from assad side and people from the rebel side sitting down together. ands this's going to require at geneva that the saudis and iranians, the russians and the americans and the turks all come together and decide that they're not going to fund their factions and begin to come up with some kind of road map that they can see for how they
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can limit the damage, stop arms from flowing in, stop money from flowing in on both side, both to assad, to the rebels. and they're going have to be cease-fire lines. and what that ultimately means, i don't know. but it's to the going to be democrats winning in syria. they have shown themselves to be way too weak. and there is going to be a messy process, that hopefully over time one can develop towards a happier constitutional syria. but in the meantime, we're going to have to deal with a lot less than that. >> ifill: joshua landis, professor jouejati just said this has to be worked out at the negotiating table in again ef', does today's withdrawal in the only of the u.s. but british involvement, does that make that more or less likely to happen. >> less likely. it sends the wrong message to everybody. it sends the message to assad that the americans are weak and are not going to supply their allies. it sends a message to the radicals of the same thing. and it sends a message to the democratic forces that
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the united states is not going to be the ally we thought it was in pursuing democracy. what is going to happen in geneva is that assad, given today's decision, is going to make even less concessions that he would have otherwise. >> ifill: murhaf jouejati and joshua landis, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: we take a second look at the budget deal working its way through congress with senate budget committee chairman patty murray. she served as the lead negotiator on behalf of democrats in reaching an agreement. senator murray, thank you for joining us. americans have spent the last few years watching nothing but gridlock and fighting in washington. why should they believe this-- this budget is a good deal or even that it matters? >> because the budget agreement that chairman ryan
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and i have put together brings certainty to the american people, their families, our businesses and our economy for the next two years. it says that we agree on what our budget numbers are. we placed some of the damaging consequences of sequester that were hurting our economy and hurting families. and we do a really good step forward in reaching a bipartisan agreement in a divided country. i think that is a really important step forward for our nation's finances. but also for our nation's trust of this democracy. >> we know there were a number of things that members of your own party, the democrats wanted in this agreement, among other things they wanted there to be extended insurance for the long term unemployed, 1.3 million people who have been out of work. how hard was it for to you accept a deal that did not include that? >> well, when congressman ryan and i began work on the budget, the extension of the unemployment insurance was not expected to be part of our budget agreement.
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but because we are now at the year's end with very little time left, we had hoped at the end of the time to add to it. we were not able to do that. that's something i wanted to do, something i believe we will do. the leader of the senate has told us that we will take that up very quickly, as soon as we get back, right after the first of the year and try and pass that bill. i strongly support that. >> and as i understand it the bill also extends cuts to medicare providers for an additional two years. how comfortable are you with that? >> well, this is an agreement that congressman ryan and i came together on. there are parts of it i am not happy about. there are parts he's not happy about. but that's what compromises take. it takes all of us swallowing hard in a tough economy, when we want to get people back to work and we want to bring certainty and we want to show that a democracy can work. sometimes you have to say okay to things you don't really like. that's what this agreement is about. but that's how we have to put agreements together
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today. >> woodruff: i hear you at the same time given how hard it was, and forgive the siren there, given how hard it was, senator, to put this smaller deal together, do you really believe that it's possible to do a much bigger deal that addresses the main drivers of the deficit, addresses things like tax reform? >> you know, judy, that's actually a discussion that congressman ryan and i started out with when we were first give then task to find an agreement. both of us agreed that our congress was broken. that we were unable to find agreement anywhere. and one of the things we needed to show is that we can find agreement. and if we took off the big issues right now and focused on what we could agree on today, we would show and bring back respect and trust of each other, so that we can deal with the bigger problems, whether it's tax reform or entitlements. or whether it's immigration reform or whether it's the farm bill. or any of the challenges we have. we needed to reestablish the trust in ourselves, in
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congress. but also reestablish the trust to the american people that we can do the job we were sent here to do. that's what we hope this agreement provides, is a pathway for the future. >> woodruff: and yet we're watching a tremendous amount of backlash against congressman ryan in particular among conservatives in his party. some of them they're not only criticizing him, some of them are calling him the equivalent of a traiter. does that spell a good climate for reaching a bigger agreement in the future, do you think? >> well, first of all, the house is passing their budget right now with a very strong majority of republicans and democrats. i think that gives everybody the backing to recognize that you don't have to kill the negotiator. you don't have to kill compromise. that in this country, if you support something that moves us forward, regardless of that you may not like some of it, you may not love t but it moves us forward, is exactly how a divided congress is supposed to work. i hope the credence of that
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allows us to get the larger issues we need to face. >> woodruff: and in fact we can report, senator, that the house has passed the budget overwhelmingly. we don't have the final numbers yet. but we know that it's passed. tell us how hard it was or was it for you and congressman ryan, you come from very different ends of the idea logical political spectrum to come to trust each other. >> well, i think we both came into the negotiating room with the same sense of frustration; that our country was broken, our democracy was broken. something we both believe in which is the legislative process was broken. and we had an opportunity to heal that. and if we worked through this negotiation on the tough days when we were really saying how are we going to get passed some issues, we reminded ourselves of that and that allowed us to make some tough decisions and get to where we are today. >> woodruff: how did you come to trust one another? >> well, congressman ryan and i come from very different political spectrums.
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and we both agreed at the beginning that we could sit in a room and debate the hot political topics of the day. or we could set those aside and find out where we agree. we started out having breakfast many months ago here in the congress and talked about our families and what motivated us and what we cared about. we have spent time jabbing each other on our football teams. and our fishing expertise. and have earned will, you know, to trust and respect each other. i don't agree with congressman ryan on everything. but i do respect him for what he believes in. i think he would say the same for me. >> woodruff: and do you think this is a model for future, for congress to be able to come together on other tough issues like immigration, like-- go ahead. >> this is a model for how a democracy works when you have a divided government. you find people that you can trust. you set aside the hot issues. and you find common ground. that's what our framer-- framers expectsed when you set this up. you come to congress, you fight for what you believe in.
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but at the end of the day you have to make this country work. that's what leaders are supposed to do. that's what congress is supposed to do. and i think that's what this budget agreement is trying to set an example for. >> woodruff: but that wasn't happening before this. >> no, we have spent too much time in our own corners screaming at each other. that is part of the political process. i get that. it is part of what you do, is fight for what you believe in when you come here but at the end of the day when you are elected, are you elected to find common ground an to find a way to move forward whether you are in a divided government or not. and that's where we are right now. and that's what we have to work with, and that's how we have to move forward. >> woodruff: senator patty murray, the chairman of the senate budget committee, we thank you. >> shutly. >> ifill: with deadlines looming ever closer for those seeking new insurance coverage at the start of the year, the obama administration announced a series of changes late today. it includes allowing individuals to pay their premiums, or even
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part of them, on the last day of the year for coverage starting the next day. and there will be an extension of a special insurance pool for people with pre-existing conditions. jeffrey brown gets the details on what people need to know. >> brown: the administration also asked insurers to be lenient with late sign-ups and other problems. alex wayne covers all this for bloomberg news and joins me now. it will not extend or reinstate plans that are being canceled under at fordable care act. alex wayne explains all this from ploom berg new, first a brief overview, why these steps. >> sure, well the administers-- administration is trying to con front a number of problems that they either didn't anticipate when they were working on implementing this law or that they anticipated and didn't address in advance. so they've got a problem with enrollment. it's a bit anemic right now. they're only about half the pace they need to be to get the 7 million people that
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they said they wanted to enroll by the end of march. they've also had a problem with cancelled health insurance plans. they've had apparently many more people than they thought face cancellations at the end of this year, anywhere between 1.5 to maybe 4 or 5 million people in the country. >> brown: so one of the things they're doing is asking insurers to give some leeway to people who miss or are late with a premium. >> that's right. >> brown: explain the problem. >> sure, right now you have until december 23rd to sign for coverage that would be effective on january 1st. the administration said today you don't have to pay for that coverage until december 31st. there are a lot of dates here. and then they-- . >> brown: they keep moving. >> they do keep moving. they also said today, they basically asked insurers, please would you allow people to pay even later than december 31st. so for example, aetna said that people who sign up for coverage that starts january 1st, they won't actually have to pay until january 8th. >> brown: now another move was, and this was for people with very severe health conditions, was to help to give them some relief. now explain the problem there, and how many people
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are we talking about. >> right t affects about 85,000 people who are very ill. back in 2010 when congress passed this law, they created this program, it was called a high risk pool at the time. now it's called the preexisting conditions insurance plan that is designed to cover these people until 2014 when the new coverage reforms kick in, and insurers are forbidden from denying coverage to sick people. that program is about to expirt-- expire at the end of the month. but many of these people maybe have not been able to find alternative coverage yet. the administration is concerned they would face a coverage laps. their pcip. >> brown: these are people who really need it. >> they're sick. they can't go a month without coverage. so the administration wanted to do this to make sure they don't face any kind ever a gap. >> brown: all right, now also in the leaning on insurance category is to cover people retroactively even if there has been an error in their application. >> right. >> brown: and there s of course, because there have been a lot of errors. >> there have been a lot of problems with the exchange so far. right. so they said that people who tried to apply before
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december 23rd and faced some sort of a glitch, technical error or bug, will have what they call a special enrollment period to try again. and if they succeed during that special enrollment period, whatever it is, their coverage will be effective retroactive to january 1st. >> brown: you mentioned aetna earlier as a company saying today it would move one of those deadlines. i mentioned aetna in the introduction in a different light. tell us about its moves today. >> well, aetna said today that there-- they're not going to extend current policies for people who have coverage today. and you are going to have to sign for a new plan that meets all the requirements of the affordable care act. >> brown: is this a surprise? >> it's a little bit of a surprise. i believe they're the first publicly traded big insurance company to say this. but already several states have said that they're not going to allow insurance companies to extend old plans. some experts refer to these plans sometimes as junk insurance, maybe they don't cover all the benefits the affordable care ago requires.
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some of these plans are actually good coverage, though. whatever the case, they're to the going to be extended in a lot of states including california, washington and a few others. >> brown: finally you asked a very fraught question at this press conference today. which is whether it might be the case that on january-- at the beginning of all this, that more people actually lose their coverage than will gain coverage. >> yeah, they didn't give me much of an answer. because of these problems they face, enrollment has been anemic for obamacare. and all of these current plans are being canceled. they really face a situation where on january 1st more people may have lost coverage than actually have signed up under o billionacare. they wouldn't promise today that that won't happen. and we won't really know until january 15th or there abouts when they announce how many people actually signed up in december. >> brown: we really won't know because a lot of this still is so much in play even in the next few weeks. >> and because the administration doesn't give updates on enrollment except once a month. >> brown: alex wayne of bloomberg, thanks so much. >> thank you much
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>> woodruff: this month, president obama is expected to announce changes in how the national security agency conducts surveillance. tonight, chief foreign affairs 1correspondent margaret warner kicks off a series of conversations with lawmakers on the scope of n.s.a. spying and what, if anything, should be done to restrict it. she starts with some background. >> warner: the boxy, one million-square-foot complex rising from the utah desert outside salt lake city, ringed by heavy security and code-named "bumblehive," is the latest data mining center of the national security agency, or n.s.a. it's built to process the troves of data being vacuumed up by the n.s.a. worldwide, from phone calls, texts, email, internet searches and social media.
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the activities of the super- secret spy agency, headquartered just outside washington, has grown dramatically since the 9/11 terror attacks. but the details of its work, which by law focuses on foreign intelligence, remained largely a mystery until early june with the publication of reams of documents leaked by former n.s.a. contractor edward snowden. among the most explosive revelations, that the n.s.a. had collected from u.s. phone companies the so-called metadata of millions of calls, the numbers, location and duration of not only foreigners but many american citizens. the president quickly sought to reassure the american public. >> nobody is listening to your telephone calls. that's not what this program's about. by sifting through this so- called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism. >> warner: but the revelations
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continued to mount over the summer, and, in the fall, came word that the u.s. was eavesdropping on leaders of allied governments, including the personal cell phone of german chancellor angela merkel. >> ( translated ): i have made it clear to the president of the united states that spying on friends is not acceptable at all. i said that when he was in berlin in july and also yesterday in a telephone call. it's not just about me, but about every german citizen. >> warner: days after that, the president announced a review of the n.s.a.'s surveillance activities. >> what we've seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand, and that's why i'm initiating now a review to make sure that what they're able to do doesn't necessarily mean what they should be doing. >> warner: this past monday, eight u.s. tech giants, including google, microsoft and facebook-- wrote an open letter to the president calling for reforms. it said the n.s.a.'s aggressive surveillance was trampling on
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individual rights and was damaging their companies' business prospects overseas. the president has two panels now reviewing n.s.a. policy, with their reports and recommendations expected by year's end. one of the lawmakers most well- versed in these programs is michigan republican congressman and former f.b.i. agent mike rogers, chairman of the house intelligence committee. i spoke with him last night in his office. chairman rogers, thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> warner: as you know the president is reviewing surveillance policy o changes are going to happen coming out later this month. if he were seeking your counsel, what is the most profound thing you think he needs to address? >> part of the problem with where we're at is that we're fighting perception about what people think is happening versus what's actually happening. and so that's been our biggest challenge on the education piece.
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so i think the first round, we all want to agree that these programs have kept americans safe. they've kept our allies safe. there are multiple levels of oversight that no other intelligence service in the world has, like the united states intelligence oversight between the courts and the congress and the inspector general and then the fbi, the departments of justice, you name it, has it all. so i think what we can do is have some confidence builders for the american people to look at this and understand, ah, one person can't run off and listen your phone call or read your e-mail. none of that is happening. >> warner: so are you saying the president needs to maybe bring more transparency, do exactly what's being done, who is doing it, and what the safeguards are? >> i think that would be incredibly helpful to do that. >> warner: but isn't there then tension between that and how much you want to divulge, he wants to divulge? >> absolutely. i do think we can talk about
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some of the oversight we have on certain aspects of the program. certainly the business records portion, mehtadata on business record, phone records. that certainly, i think-- . >> warner: that is the sort of bulk collection of phone records, who were called, when you call and the length of the call. >> with the exception we don't know who you are or where you live. it's just a bunch of phone numbers that we use as a foreign nexus to terrorism. so a foreigner in afghanistan or pakistan that we assume is a-- and has good credibility that is a terrorist has a phone number of a u.s. number. if you want-- you want to be able to make that nexus that val what that database is. >> warner: do you think that the balance between protecting the security of this country against terrorist threat and the sort of affirmative protection of civil liberties has gotten out of whack? >> i don't think we're out of whack. we could always improve. i would never say never in that regard. in the metadata collection there has been no willful
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use to misuse the proif see of just your phone number, not even your name. >> warner: there is supposed to be no limit on what data they can collect. and even the president said we have to is at some point whether the technology has outpaced the laws and protections that are in place. >> well, i think the technology is keeping up with our adversaries interests to do harm to the united states. and to as systems to communicate. and here's what i think is a big part. and we constantly reviewed this, by the way. we have to be able to make our laws consistent with technology and where we are in 20134-- 2013 versus 1947 when the national security act was written. but you think about where we are. so in today, in the networks in the united states of america, over 80% of them are private networks which means the nsa does not monitor them. there is no wholesale monitoring. they're not reading your e-mails. they're not listening to your phone calls. that's simply not happening.
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>> warner: the europeans are extremely up set with the snowden revelations about the degree to which they're being surveiled. >> right. well, first of all, the hypocrisy in this debate has been shocking to me from our european allies. as i often said it's good to remind ourselves that espionage is a french word, after all. and so when you look at the intelligence services of our allies in the european union, they are alive and well and aggressive. and some notion that the information that we have been collecting over time hasn't benefitted our allies is just simply not true. some 54 different attacks thwarted just by our business record metadata collection. and another program that-- program that we use to collect information has been shared with our allies and stopped terrorist attacks in germany. >> warner: and you know that to be the case. >> i absolutely know that to be the case. and here's the good news. now so do they. and so sometimes the
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politicians were saying this and not realizing that something else was going on and sharing information and cooperation. >> warner: as the big u.s. internet giants just said this week, i mean yahoo! and google and facebook, the perception in europe now is that doing business with our companies isn't safe. and they can't trust us. and it's hurting their business. is this something the president has to do something to address to redress and what could he do? >> i think we lost the pr war on the frontment but it's really important to understand that, again, france just passed a law to make it easier to go after servers in their own country. all of the european union now is saying well, maybe we should have servers only stationed in our country. well, guess what, that means that their standard of oversite, their standard of protection is veryifferent than ours. and we do have multiple layers of oversight that they don't have. >> warner: coming back to the u.s., the pan writers
quote quote
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group did a survey of 250 professional writers, it just came out this week. and a quarter of these writers said they feel inhibitied. they are censoring themselves in what they discuss in e-mail in the research they do especially if it involves anything overseas. does that, as one with individual liberties, does that concern you. >> the attitude certainly does. and you know, that's mortifying to me that they would feel that that would be an issue that the government would be interested in, candidly. even their engage mood some issue that may be even questionable, if it's a political issue and you are expressing yourself, you need to feel comfortable that you can do that in the united states. we should never lose that. >> warner: some members of congress at least on the senate side feel that they've been mislead about by the head of the nsa, by
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the director of national intelligence about how much data is being collected on america, metadata, whatever wah want to call it. do you feel that there's been any either misleading, willful or otherwise about the extent of that? >> i know as the chairman of the house intelligence committee we have had this information. we have been briefed on it we've had an opportunity to ask questions on it i supported these programs. we had some differences. we worked them out. were there problems that we found, yes. but we work with them in the appropriate channels, classified channels to fix them. like you would expect us to do as member of the the oversight committee. but if he end of the day i supported them when nba knew about them. and i support them now. >> warner: chairman mike >> woodruff: tomorrow, margaret rogers, thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: tomorrow, margaret will have an interview with a vocal critic of n.s.a. surveillance: democratic senator ron wyden of oregon. >> ifill: finally tonight, we
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remember the newtown massacre, which occurred one year ago this saturday. an afternoon vigil held at the washington national cathedral today commemorated not just those killed in the connecticut shootings, but also other gun- related homicides throughout the year. a koond el lighting ceremony and remarks by family members. that included the father of lauryn ruseau, a teacher killed at the elementary school one year ago. >> we are here today with the common goal of remembering our loved ones, and seeking to make our world a safer place. acts of kindness and efforts to promote just cause are the best way to keep the memory of the victim of gun violence alive. >> ifill: and that brings us to newtown, where families have been struggling to deal with the
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issue of gun violence. residents asked members of the news media to stay away on the actual anniversary, but two families agreed to sit down with hari sreenivasan last month. here's hari's story. >> sreenivasan: 20 first-graders gunned down in their classrooms, six adults killed trying to protect them. one year after the massacre at sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut, parents struggle to make sense from a senseless act of violence. for nicole hockley, the mother of six-year-old dylan, who was killed that day, the grief of the past twelve months has been unimaginable. >> this has been the most awful, the most surreal year of my life. >> sreenivasan: as you approach this dark anniversary, what's going through your mind? >> the one-year mark, the six- year mark, it doesn't change anything.
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it's a passage of time at a time and place where time doesn't have much meaning for me, because it's just one more day that dylan's not in my arms. that's not going to change. >> sreenivasan: but what hockley is hoping to change is the likelihood that a horrific scene like the one that played out at sandy hook one year ago will never happen again. >> being in this situation, i have to make something good come from it. so, this year is all about... has been very much about learning things that i'd never thought i'd have to learn about. it's been about tackling problems and grief from a perspective that i never thought that i would ever experience. it's been a time of sorrow but also of growth, just trying to find a way for myself and my family to reinvest ourselves in this new life and find a way forward and through it.
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>> sreenivasan: it is a journey that has led nicole hockley into a year of advocacy. to find solutions to the kind of violence that took her youngest son, hockley and other grieving families formed the sandy hook promise. >> it is a sad honor to be here today. >> it's been a month since i lost my son and 25 other families lost their loved withins. at times it feels as if yesterday and others as if many years have passed >> sreenivasan: almost immediately, the parents were swept up in a national debate around gun policy. >> before last month, i had never made a case to a legislator. we approached the connecticut legislature with love and logic, and they listened. they responded with respect and the strongest gun responsibility legislation in the nation. ( cheers and applause ) >> my way of grieving is to be active and to ensure that this isn't just a senseless tragedy.
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this is my way of honoring dylan and the others that died, and providing him a legacy. i'm never going to know what sort of adult he could have been because he was six, but if i can help him be associated with a positive change that saves the lives of others, then that's a meaningful legacy to have, and that's what i've committed to delivering. >> sreenivasan: working side by side with hockley to help deliver that change are newtown parents jackie and mark barden. the bardens lost their youngest son, daniel, at sandy hook elementary. a comment from their oldest son set them on their course. >> it was our 13 year old son, james. he said, "i would like to see no other family ever have to go through this again." and we thought, if we had the opportunity to have some influence in that, then we sure would. with sandy hook promise, we want to be known as the town where tragedy turned into transformation.
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we'd like this to be the place where positive change, positive meaningful, lasting change started. >> sreenivasan: since young james' early comment, the couple has included their children, even taking them to the white house for spring break. all your kids seem very close. >> they were very close. they used to sleep in the same bed if they could. you want to connect through photos, but sometimes it's just too hard. it's too much. ( sobbing ) >> some days, it's better than others you can see all of his freckles. >> it makes me think of when i used to check his little teeth to see if he brushed, and there was that minty smell of toothpaste. and i will miss that so much. >> sreenivasan: the bardens found themselves in the middle of a heated national debate
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around guns that culminated last spring when federal legislation to expand background checks for gun owners failed. the defeat was widely seen as stalling momentum gained by gun control advocates. >> all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for washington. but this effort is not over. >> sreenivasan: were you disappointed when federal legislation didn't go through? >> yeah, we were disappointed, but what we're setting out to do is bigger than just that. we're looking to reset the conversation. we're looking to make people think about this differently. >> sreenivasan: to reset the conversation, the sandy hook promise team emphasizes that this is not a discussion about gun control; it's about ways to prevent gun violence. >> i think the traditional approach has been top-down-- go yell and scream at your legislator and get them to vote the way you want them to vote, and implement laws that will force everybody to abide by.
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i think that's maybe not working. >> in the wake of unthinkable violence against our children, we came together as a nation. >> sreenivasan: the new strategy is to appeal to directly to parents-- with star power from hollywood-- in the hopes of avoiding contentious political battles. instead, they plan to identify and support prevention programs that address the causes of gun violence. >> i mean, it is really not political. it is really just about thinking about... you know, we all have children, and what do we need to do in order to make this a safer environment for our children? i think, once you throw the i think once the politics is out, it becomes simpler. >> we're not just about guns, and we're not just about legislation. we are rising above the politics, and we're looking at the causes of gun violence, particularly mental wellness, and community. and other groups haven't done
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that to date, and i think this is a new way for people to engage in something that they haven't engaged before. and everyone is aware that we have a problem with gun violence in this country, but they feel helpless and not know what to do. they feel it's too political, it's too hard, it's too much of a fight. well, we're saying it doesn't have to be any of those things. this is about a conversation and community-based solutions, that we can deliver ourselves and help prevent this. >> sreenivasan: nicole hockley says her family will continue to take things day by day, and she remains optimistic about the future. >> after 12/14, what i saw was a nation really come together in a way that i'd not seen happen before; that sense of outrage, but also that sense of love and compassion. and the conversation has changed slightly over this year, but it's still alive and it's still there. and people that had never been engaged in issues before decided to become engaged, decided that enough is enough, it's time to do something.
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and i'm really hoping that through the one-year mark and going forward we can re-ignite that sense of togetherness in this country and come back together. >> sreenivasan: so far, over 262,000 people have visited the web site and taken the sandy hook promise. >> it. >> you know whatever your position is on guns, you have to admire the strength of these parents. >> ifill: and our thoughts and our prayers actually go out to these families as we approach this anniversary. >> woodruff: again they a compromised special deal in easing the spending cuts and preventedding future government shutdowns. northkorea announced kim jung-un's uncle and former mentor has been executed as a traiter. and pro western rebels in syria urged a resumption of nonlethal aid
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the u.s. and britain cut off the assistance after islamist fighters captured the storage warehouses. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now, what world event meant the most to you in 2013? we revisit eight defining moments covered in depth over the past year on the newshour, and we want you to weigh in. tell us what you think in the comments section. and what does a concussion look like inside the brain? on our "science" page, we explore research into the traumatic brain injuries that are frequently suffered by athletes and soldiers. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on friday, how far is too far for government spying? we ask a leading critic. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and michael gerson. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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