Week In Review With Daniel Schorr

The big news of the week extends from Times Square to Wall Street to Athens to the United Kingdom and the Gulf of Mexico. Host Scott Simon reviews the week's news with NPR Senior News Analyst Dan Schorr.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for a look back at the week in the news. We're joined by NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr. Hello, Dan.

DAN SCHORR: Hi, Scott.

SIMON: And let's take the - apparently, the botched bombing, car bombing in Times Square first. Here we have a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen who is accused of trying to set off a car bomb, using an SUV in one of the busiest thoroughfares in the world - Times Square. As you look at what we know, what strikes you?

SCHORR: Well, what strikes me is the sheer incompetence that went along with this effort. And as happened several times before, you get a handful of people go to Pakistan and walk into a trap, and they're arrested. You get the shoe bomber, and the shoes don't work. You get...

SIMON: This is Richard Reid?

SCHORR: And you find on several occasions these people, they go to Pakistan to get training to be terrorists and then in several cases, thank God, it doesn't work.

The other thing that strikes me is the way in which this guy - when he's finally found on the airplane and is supposed to have said, I was expecting you, and then goes and talks without worrying about Miranda rights, talks at great length, apparently. And then part - apparently - of the thrill of the terrorist act is being caught and talking about it.

SIMON: Was the United States of America just lucky to have averted a terrorist act, or is there an agency that deserves some credit?

SCHORR: I don't know about agencies that deserve credit. The attorney general, Eric Holder, certainly claims a lot of credit. He called a press conference at 1:30 in the morning to make the announcement. So he apparently thinks that the Justice Department deserves credit, although some people think more credit should've gone to people in New York.

SIMON: Well - but I mean, to refresh our recollection, this was an accused bomber who was arrested on an airplane that was within minutes of taking off because the federal watch list hadn't been refreshed.

SCHORR: That's right. Well, there were things that were mistakes, and there was an element of luck in this. There had to be an element of luck. If the guy has bought the wrong kind of fertilizer and it smokes and doesn't go off, that certainly is lucky for our side. And it's terrible to have to depend on that. But apparently, we're getting a generation of these young people who go and say, jihad is what we're here for; we want to try to kill. And if we're not very good at it, there'll be others.

SIMON: Gulf Coast states, as well as the federal government environmental groups, are continuing to try and avert further disaster from the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf. And BP itself has come up with some elaborate plans to try and stem the flow of oil. Where does that situation sit this week?

SCHORR: Well, that situation is in a very tenuous state. They are working very hard to try to cap this oil flow. They're waiting for when it first happens, that a large amount of oil washes up against shores. It's taken longer than they expected, but its apparently still there as a great menace to the marshes and to all. And we sit and wait with bated breath to see what happens.

SIMON: What do you make of the week in Wall Street, particularly on Thursday? Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped almost a thousand points in about 30 minutes before rebounding.

SCHORR: Yes. Well, part of that is supposed to - possibly, there was an error made on the computer. I don't know about that. But something's going on that starts somewhere in Athens, where you have this country which is almost going down the drain - speaking figuratively, of course -and then you wonder, how long can this go on? And then you say they're in the eurozone, so the eurozone will be affected. Other countries will be affected. And some - at some point, it comes washing up against our shores. And I think that is the reason why Wall Street can react to chaos in Athens.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. Well, because under the world financial system, its not possible for any industrial nation to be free of that, is it?

SCHORR: That's right. And the word bailout has now been exported.

SIMON: I want to ask you about the British elections and the onset of a new government there because of course, the three parties are still wrangling over how to form a new government - or not. There's always talk about the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, sharing, as we do, not just a common language - and I know we're sometimes divided by a common language - but many similar notions about democracy and for that matter, in recent years, diversity. Do you see that special relationship being affected by this outcome?

SCHORR: Well, I dont know about that - the special relationship hasnt been very special ever since the invasion of Iraq. Most of the British really think that they were dragged into a war by the United States and didnt like it, and that relationship has not recovered since that time. But under present conditions, I think whoever is the new prime minister, I dont think it will change very much. It's a cool relationship now and probably will remain so.

SIMON: Regardless of who takes power, what did you read in the results of the election?

SCHORR: That the British, a lot like Americans, can sometimes not quite make up their minds. They did the thing which makes it most difficult to form - they didnt provide a majority. But as we survive our form of election, they will survive theirs.

SIMON: NPRs senior news analyst Dan Schorr. Thanks very much.

SCHORR: Sure.

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