Week in Review: G-8, Missile Defense

Last week, President Bush traveled to Germany to attend the G-8 Summit, where leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations discussed proposals to curb greenhouse gas emissions and Iran's nuclear program, among other topics. But much of the news centered on a surprise proposal on missile defense offered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. John Ydstie reviews the week's news with Senior Correspondent Dan Schorr.

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JOHN YDSTIE, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Scott Simon is on paternity leave. I'm John Ydstie.

This week, President Bush traveled to Germany to attend the G-8 summit. Leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations met to discuss proposals to help curb greenhouse gas emissions and Iran's nuclear program, among other topics. But much of the news centered on a surprise proposal on missile defenses offered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us to discuss the summit, along with the week's other news. Hello, Dan.

DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, John.

YDSTIE: Let's begin with the big surprise on Thursday at the summit.

SCHORR: Yeah.

YDSTIE: Vladimir Putin wants to partner with the U.S. on missile defenses.

SCHORR: Well, maybe, at least, he did sound that way. What they really did, they were heading towards a confrontation over the U.S. plan to have a missile defense shield. The Russians were resolutely opposed to it. And it looked as though they're so banged(ph), don't want to meet at the summit and go on and fight some more, could have a meeting scheduled in Kennebunkport, Maine, in the beginning of July.

And then the Russians did as the Russians sometimes do, they went off in an unexpected direction and said, listen, we've some great radar in Azerbaijan, former Soviet Republic Azerbaijan, and why don't we use that spot of sort - well, the president didn't know what to say about that. He said, sure, we'll think about it. But then he went on to Poland and told the Poles, we still want to do it the way they had planned to do it, and that is to have Poland and the Czech Republic involved in it.

YDSTIE: So do you think the Russian proposal is serious or just to put the U.S. off balance?

SCHORR: I think it's more to put the U.S. off balance than serious. They saw this coming into a headlong collision and he said, let me go off a little bit on the sidetrack.

YDSTIE: The summit was also highlighted by an agreement, a nonbinding goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions. And again there were some dispute.

SCHORR: Well - yeah. This is again another case of what happens when they're heading for a collision and they say let's not have a collision. Let's find a way out. Well, the Europeans in general are not satisfied with President Bush's proposal to bring 16 countries together and to think in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a certain year and all the rest of it.

YDSTIE: More talks essentially.

SCHORR: Exactly. And what they did was to - as I say, okay, we've got a resolution from the eight. We can be supported by President Bush, but then by others, it was, they state, as a very noble goal that by the year 2050 that they will manage to have one half reduction of greenhouse gases. However, nothing mandatory, and if it's not mandatory it's nothing.

YDSTIE: Let's move back to the U.S. and the immigration issue.

SCHORR: Yes.

YDSTIE: Lawmakers spent the week trying to reach a compromise to overhaul immigration laws, but the compromise broke down on Thursday. What happened?

SCHORR: Well, we have mostly, I think, the conservative Republicans definitely didn't like it. You have to understand that this is a hot subject in the presidential debates that are now going on - immigration. And the Republican conservatives simply don't like it. They say this is an amnesty although it was denied that it involves amnesty or so on. And they managed to get - to gather enough opposition to avoid cutting off debate.

The president is going to try it again apparently. He's going up to the Hill on Tuesday after he gets back from his trip. He's going to talk to Republicans. I don't know what (unintelligible) will offer, but apparently he has not quite given up.

YDSTIE: Democratic leader Reid blamed the president for the loss on this cloture vote. Was - is that fair?

SCHORR: It's always fair to blame somebody.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SCHORR: For you failures.

YDSTIE: Also on Capitol Hill, the House this week passed legislation designed to loosen restrictions on federally funded stem cell research, but there was another story that added to that. They may call that moot.

SCHORR: Yeah. Well, that's right. If it was stem cell - you're using embryos. The president has vetoed that and, in fact, he was prepared to veto it again. Then all of a sudden a scientist came and he said, hey, we got another way to do this. We can use skin cells and not destroy embryo. And that sort of opens up a whole new ballgame.

YDSTIE: And finally this week, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff Lewis Libby…

SCHORR: Yes.

YDSTIE: …was sentenced this week to two and a half years in prison for lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation. Mr. Libby is hoping for a pardon. Is that likely to happen?

SCHORR: Yes.

YDSTIE: Soon?

SCHORR: Well, when the president was asked about this, he said this is not the time to talk about it, indicating that there will be a time to talk about it. The time will come when he really seems to be headed towards jail. As of now, they're making a big pitch to let him stay on bail while they appeal. It's not clear whether the judge will accept that or not. But I dare say that when they reach the point where he is really going to jail, we will hear from the president.

YDSTIE: And the president, I think would pardon him because Republicans feel like Mr. Libby was unfairly treated. He really didn't do anything wrong essentially.

SCHORR: Don't you think it's not wrong to lie to the FBI and to perjure yourself? If that's not wrong, then he did nothing wrong. Of course, he did something wrong. The question is whether what he did wrong was done all by himself or because he was covering for somebody like, perhaps, the vice president.

YDSTIE: Thank you so much. Senior news analyst Dan Schorr.

SCHORR: My pleasure, John.

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