Week In Review With Daniel Schorr
SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Im Scott Simon.
This week: charges for the man alleged to have gone on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, President Obama travels to Asia, and the House passes health care legislation.
NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Dan, thanks for being with us.
DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, Scott.
SIMON: And when we were on the air last week, the shootings at Fort Hood had just occurred in that news cycle and we wanted to be careful about what we said, but I suppose we always do. President Obama spoke at the memorial service on Tuesday this week for the 13 people who were killed in that attack, and on Thursday, Major Nidal Malik Hasan was charged with a count of murder in each and every one of those deaths.
SIMON: What do we know now?
SCHORR: Well, what we know now, I think a little better than we knew a week ago, is that a lot of people had reason to believe there was something wrong with the major. There was a fact that it was known to army intelligence that he has been sending up to some 20 messages to some radical Imam in Yemen, not necessarily talking about killing anybody but still something - they thought his performance was poor. They had a lot of problems with him. And nobody ever did anything about it. And I think the interesting thing there is, is that there is such intense concentration now on not doing ethnic profiles. The result is that they tend to give him the benefit of a very grave doubt.
SIMON: Let me ask you about the decision Attorney General Holder announced yesterday to take Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from Guantanamo and put him on trial in the United States.
SCHORR: Well, yes, thats
SIMON: He is apparently going to go to trial in New York City rather than before a military tribunal.
SCHORR: Not very far actually from where all the action was on 9/11. Yes, theyve been thinking about it. They thought about doing it by military commission and finally the attorney general decided that it really should be before a civilian court - federal court in downtown New York. It will be a trial that will attract a great deal of attention.
SIMON: Senior White House Counsel Greg Craig announced he is resigning this week effective January 3. I noticed the White House statement didnt even pause to say he is spending more time with his family or he is going off to greater opportunities in private practice.
SCHORR: Well, it seems quite obvious that he has to bear the brunt of the fact they have not succeeded in closing down Guantanamo. As White House counsel, it was his job to negotiate that. It turned out to be a lot more difficult than the president thought when he said he would do it in a year, and when you fail, no matter how or why, somebody walks the plank, and so Greg walked the plank.
SIMON: The House of Representatives passed a health care bill this week. Senate is likely to debate their version next week. What do you foresee for that debate and how will they reconcile these versions?
SCHORR: They reconcile this the way the Congress reconciles everything. Theres a conference committee which represents the Senate and the House, and they stay up late nights trying to figure out what compromises they can reach, and eventually they arrive at a solution, at a conclusion. It begins to look as though this one is going to happen in spite of the fact that things keep happening which make trouble, as for example the issue of whether health care will pay for abortion or not. As we know, at the last minute there was an amendment put in on the House side. What they say it will do is not known. But in their own way they seem to be moving towards some kind of resolution.
SIMON: In the midst of a lot of domestic news, obviously, President Obama left on a long-planned trip for Asia. Whats on his agenda? What does he hope to bring back?
SCHORR: Well, first of all, he wants to find out from China, for example, whether he can get some more support on the problem of Iran and its nuclear pretensions. I think, however, that overshadowing all of this is the fact that the president seems to be now seriously worried about the job situation. It isnt getting any better.
SIMON: Not his job so much Americans lacking jobs.
SCHORR: Yeah, but it maybe also his job involved. Because we are now beginning to start on a year where we decide a year from now whether the president really should be reelected. Little early to raise the question, but the question will be raised.
SCHORR: And wherever he goes, Singapore now, he is going to be talking about economy, and hes going to be talking about jobs and things that can be done, and then hes going to organize, he says, a summit conference in December on jobs. What a summit conference on jobs can do that other people cannot do, I do not imagine. But I think the president beginning to be worried about the persistent job situation.
SIMON: Still more meetings about President Obama, trying to determine what American policy will be in Afghanistan. We call it a delay often in the news business. But is that artificial, or when General McChrystal says his request for troops is urgent, is there something quite real?
SCHORR: Well, there is something quite real there. But I think the most real thing that the existing situation is that they more or less know what they have to do and they dread the day when they have to announce it. I think the president is simply buying time while he waits for a decision that he will make soon, has to make soon, but keeps putting off for as long as he can. His problem is that hes in a totally no-win situation. He sends a lot more troops, a lot more Americans get killed, that doesnt help his reelection. He decides not to send troops, begin to bring them home, set limits as to how long they can stay, doesnt quite work out, Afghanistan goes down the drain, everybody says you lost Afghanistan. It is really awful and I think he just is delaying day by day the moment when hes going to have to make this dread announcement.
SIMON: Thanks very much, Dan Schorr.
SCHORR: Sure thing.
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