Week In Review With Daniel Schorr

It's been six weeks now since the big oil spill started in the Gulf of Mexico and BP is still working on it with uncertain results. Also, will Israel bow to growing international pressure to lift the blockade? Host Scott Simon reviews the week's news with NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

For more on the situation in Gaza, and a look back at the rest of the week's news, we're joined now by NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr.

Morning, Dan.

DAN SCHORR: Good morning, Scott. And what a world we inhabit on this balmy Saturday morning, where we have an oil blockade of our southern shores and a hate blockade of Mediterranean shores.

SIMON: Do - you were able to listen to the report from Gaza. Do you think Israel is more or less likely to lift the blockade or change its policy?

SCHORR: I would not predict what Israel will do. They'll be very reluctant to do it. They assert their rights to conduct this blockade and to stop ships, even though they're in international waters. I think I don't want to be involved in having to judge that one.

SIMON: The Obama administration has so far expressed only regret for the loss of life in the attack earlier this week on that ship that was bound for Gaza. Do you see this incident as leading the president to sharpen or downplay some of the differences he's had with the Israeli government?

SCHORR: Yes. But apparently he'll do it most reluctantly. I mean, he has never really yet taken a position against Israel. And so he expresses a great regret over lives lost. He hopes for the best and so on. He is stuck there in the middle, in a position where he clearly does not like this blockade; on the other hand, doesn't like taking a position against Israel.

SIMON: And let's move to the oil spill. It's now been six weeks since it began in the Gulf of Mexico. More globs of oil washing on the beaches in the Gulf and presumably there will be a lot more. More animals have already been caught up in the spill and harmed. How do you at this point begin to fix responsibility for both the spill and the clean-up or the lack of clean-up?

SCHORR: Well, it seems rather clear, judging from what has come out since that time, it seems rather clear that this thing could have been avoided, that there were warnings given by people involved in it, saying, hey, this isn't working right and that's not working right. The fact is, they took profits over the possibilities of trouble. And that was where we ended up.

SIMON: What do you make of pundits, analysts, and some politicians, including, I suppose, notably James Carville, who say that President Obama, elected as an inspirational figure, hasn't evinced the kind of emotion - both sympathy and/or anger - that could motivate and inspire people to do something in an unfolding crisis?

SCHORR: Well, everybody plays his role and James Carville plays his role, and I guess we'll see this going on. The fact of the matter is, the president, who just finished his third trip there in the past couple of weeks, and talks to people and talks to business people and does everything he possibly can, has certainly tried to show that he will do everything he possibly can to support -including now in his radio address this morning, yet once again - we will stand by you. I am personally not sure what more our president can do than he is already doing.

SIMON: According to the polls and what you see, are there Americans who on the one hand blame BP for the spill, yet also blame the federal government and the president for not doing more over the past six weeks to stop the oil from reaching shore?

SCHORR: Well, it's like blaming the financial companies down on Wall Street. They're there. They're meant to be attacked when it's necessary to attack somebody. And yes, I mean BP has a great burden to bear, and they will be made to bear it.

SIMON: For the second time, the president has canceled a trip to Indonesia and Australia. The president of the United States is, perhaps beyond argument, the busiest man in the world. But in times of some dominant crisis, as this spill has become over the past few weeks, do efforts in other important things, including foreign policy, get distracted?

SCHORR: Obviously something has to give. And the president has now, for a second - the first time he postponed a visit to Indonesia and to Australia was because he was very busy trying to get his health bill passed. Now he has another reason.

The fact of the matter is, when the president is totally preoccupied with a great crisis here at home, it is very difficult to keep up with some of the things around the world which he should be keeping up with.

SIMON: Another dimension entirely: The Washington Post reported this week that the Obama administration has significantly expanded its use of special operations forces. These are covert teams operating in as many as 73 countries around the world.

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: Including targeted killings, civilian casualties. Quote from a government source said, quote: "This administration has authorized things that the last one didnt."

What do you make of this expansion of policy and the relative lack of attention?

SCHORR: Well, Scott, almost every president likes to have more direct action than he normally gets from the Pentagon. And so he assembles his own little force in order to go hunt terrorists. It's been done before and I think it'll probably be done again.

SIMON: But didnt this administration come to power after criticizing and continuing to criticize the last one for conducting these kinds of operations?

SCHORR: But it's different when youre in the White House and youve collected a lot of enemies around the world and you like to take more direct action against them.

SIMON: Let me get you now to turn your view to the economy, Dan, because new numbers are out this week. Private employment in May was up by 41,000 jobs. Payrolls were up. Unemployment dipped a bit. How do you analyze these numbers?

SCHORR: Yeah. Well, the sad truth is that 95 percent of the new jobs were jobs temporary for the census, given by the Census Bureau, and apparently simply do not mean very much. The fact of the matter is that the jobs are not coming back as fast as everybody hoped and it may well be that there might be a little touch of a second recession.

SIMON: Dan, the trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich began in Chicago this week. They're still in jury selection. What do you foresee over the next three months?

SCHORR: Well, what I foresee over the next few months is that this trial will go on and people will turn to it almost for a relief from some of the big stories around the world.

SIMON: Thanks...

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: I'll certainly be watching. NPR's senior news analyst Dan Schorr, thanks so much.

SCHORR: My pleasure.

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