Week In Review With Daniel Schorr

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This week, the Senate faced a crucial vote on health care. The Obama administration fended off criticism over Sept. 11 trials in New York, and Hamid Karzai was sworn in for another term as president of Afghanistan. Host Scott Simon reviews the week in the news with NPR Senior News Analyst Dan Schorr.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

This week, the Senate faces a crucial vote on health care. The Obama administration faces down criticism over moving a 9/11 trial to New York. And Hamid Karzai sworn in for another term as president of Afghanistan.

NPR's senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Hello, Dan.

DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, Scott.

SIMON: And Dan, the Senate, of course, is debating whether or not to bring the discussion about health-care legislation to the full body�

SCHORR: Right.

SIMON: �for a formal debate and a vote. Looks like even this vote, just to bring it on the floor for debate, is going to be close.

SCHORR: Well, it's called a test vote and all - it is called crucial. All the votes on this so far had been called crucial. And in this case, it needs 60 votes in order to make sure that there won't be a filibuster. And from all accounts, it's very, very close. There are a couple of senators who will vote against the bill in the end but will still allow it to be debated. And they're counting on these people to manage to win the day.

SIMON: But of course, the debate about the actual nuts and bolts of the legislation, that's - that will go on for weeks and months, even if it gets over this hurdle.

SCHORR: Oh, that probably won't start until well after Thanksgiving. It will go on, and it's predicted that may be a matter of weeks and perhaps months. It's going to be a real big showdown over whether an important piece of legislation like this can be enacted.

SIMON: On a matter that may not be related but got taken into the debate anyway, there was a report that was released on mammograms - testing for breast cancer, with a panel of doctors convened by the U.S. government saying that women could start the screenings later and have them less often than had been previously recommended.

SCHORR: But it is related - it is related. It is related to the general subject of health care and the suspicions of people that if you don't get as many examinations as you used to get, it's because they're trying to save money. What bothers me more than anything else about this is a sense that you don't trust government to do anything anymore. And so you're talking about health, you're talking about mammograms, you're talking about examinations. Next thing you know about, it's the government is trying to do something to me or take money away from me. And that's very sad.

SIMON: Wasn't there also some concern, though, that private health insurers might see this panel report as license to reimburse fewer screenings?

SCHORR: That's right. But it doesn't have to be. I mean, they can be told by the government that you cannot take away reimbursement.

SIMON: Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced this week the Pentagon is launching a 45-day emergency investigation into procedures for identifying soldiers that could be a risk to other soldiers - obviously a response to the attack at Fort Hood earlier this month.

SCHORR: That's right. Very interesting. From what we know so far, what's been made public, apparently he had no accomplice, Major Hasan, in the shooting itself. But - however, it also appears that he went through a process in the course of exchanging emails with a radical cleric in Yemen. And he went through a certain process, which you might cause self-radicalization. And I think we're going to find a lot more of that as they go ahead with the investigation.

SIMON: President Obama and Attorney General Holder spent some of their week trying to answer criticism about the administration and apparently, Attorney General Holder's independent decision to put the self-proclaimed mastermind, if I might call him that, of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, on trial in the civilian court in New York. I want to ask you this question: You have the president and Attorney General Holder saying - and I'm going to paraphrase, but it doesn't stray too far from their words - we're going to give this man a fair trial, and then we're going to hang him.

SCHORR: Well, right.

SIMON: I guess it's a needle in New York State; I'm not sure. Can Khalid Sheikh Mohammed receive a fair trial? Certainly, his attorneys might raise that question.

SCHORR: Well, Attorney General Eric Holder says he can receive a fair trial. And you know, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee the other day, and they really went after him and said, you really shouldn't do this. Holder stayed after the hearing and talked to relatives of the 9/11 victims and said to them that, you know, we have evidence not yet made public, which will practically ensure that at the trial in New York, he will be found guilty. But whatever it is, I think that the administration and especially Eric Holder, would like to show the world that American justice is great. And he wants to make this a model for a trial.

SIMON: When the president and the attorney general, though, make the kind of explicit statements they did about the certainty of conviction and execution�

SCHORR: Right.

SIMON: �do they jeopardize the prosecution?

SCHORR: I'm sure the defense will say so. The attorney general will claim you don't have to. You will let some time pass. You may get a change of venue that seems to be necessary. It is not necessarily so. But a lot of pre-trial publicity necessarily is the end of that trial.

SIMON: Wednesday, Iran rejected a proposal under which it would have sent much of its nuclear material outside of the country for enrichment. Several countries are asking Iran to reconsider.

SCHORR: Well, apparently the government in Iran seems to be of two minds on this subject. They first agreed to send their uranium to Russia and to France. Then they changed their minds, said no, we're not going to send it anywhere. This is a very, very difficult case. The president has said you have to - by the end of this year to come and do something that you ought to do about the uranium there. And if not - well, if not, what? Nobody knows what.

SIMON: Finally, Dan - Sarah Palin.

SCHORR: Sarah Palin.

SIMON: Bet you've seen her this week.

SCHORR: I've seen a lot of her this week on television here and there. And she has done very well peddling her book. There is something about this country - it loves celebrities. And whatever you may think, not everybody likes her, but some do. But whatever it is�

SIMON: Quite a few do, from the lines I've seen.

SCHORR: And quite a few do, and they're on line, some of them even buying books. And this is America - celebrityhood.

SIMON: Are we just jealous as fellow authors? I've never had lines like that for any of my book readings.

SCHORR: I know. Well, you know how it is.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Just have to accept it. Thanks very much, Dan Schorr.

SCHORR: Sure thing.

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