Week In Review With Daniel Schorr

Host Scott Simon reviews the week's news with NPR Senior News Analyst Dan Schorr. They discuss the U.S.-Russia spy swap, President Obama's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona over the state's new immigration law.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

And now we're joined by NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr for the week in review. Hello, Dan.

DAN SCHORR: Hi, Scott.

SIMON: And, Dan, let's follow up on that spy story and get you to give some of your matchless historical context. You covered a few spy swaps, didn't you?

SCHORR: Well, I covered a big one - the one in 1962 when Rudolf Abel, a Russian spy, was exchanged for Francis Gary Powers, if that name means something to you. That was the pilot of the U2 spy plane that was shot down over the Soviet Union. And he was in jail. And they made that exchange between the two of them.

SIMON: Where did the exchange take place?

SCHORR: The exchange took place at a place called the Glienicker´┐ŻBridge. That's a bridge that connects West Berlin to East Germany. You know, to paraphrase Lord Byron: the bridge of spies.

SIMON: And remind us of the significance of the swap, Francis Gary Powers for Lieutenant Colonel Rudolf Abel. Francis Gary Powers was the pilot of the U2 spy plane, which I believe is still occasionally in use. And it was supposed to not be vulnerable to being shot down.

SCHORR: That's right. And it wasn't vulnerable to being shot down and Khrushchev was very unhappy about that. And he gave orders to improve on their missile defense with the result, they did shoot it down.

SIMON: And it broke up a summit meeting, didn't it?

SCHORR: And it - yes, and Nikita Khrushchev stormed out of a summit meeting in Paris.

SIMON: And President Eisenhower was greatly embarrassed because he was assured that he could say with a straight face it wasn't shot down, because he was told it wasn't possible to shoot it down.

SCHORR: Yes. He thought he could get away with saying that it was a weather plane. He knew it wasn't. He later admitted that he knew it wasn't.

SIMON: Now, of course, in this case - bringing us forward to 2010, yesterday -there was no bridge. It was a misty airfield in Vienna. In fact, I don't know as it's misty, but I'm assuming when they make the TV movie that shows this event they're going to roll in the fog truck for sure. Were you surprised at how quickly this swap was worked out? I mean, within a week, it seems.

SCHORR: It was rather quick, and yet, I'm somehow not surprised, because we're living in a different era from the era of the Glienicker Bridge. We have two countries which are trying to be friendly with each other, which they really weren't back then.

SIMON: Let's turn now to some other major news stories of the week. President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: In contrast to their meeting in March, which was perceived to be - where they were perceived to be a little chilly and standoffish with each other. This time, they seemed very warm and friendly.

SCHORR: Ostentatiously so.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SCHORR: I think you might say. But, you know...

SIMON: Sincerely so?

SCHORR: Sincerely so. But let's face the fact that neither can afford to be very long on bad terms with the other because of their domestic constituencies. And so, they have problems. And I'm sure the problems in private are discussed at much greater length than they do in public. But in the end, it's likely they'll come back together again, because they are condemned to be good friends.

SIMON: And what areas of common ground do you think they've discovered over the past few months?

SCHORR: What they have discovered is that in a general sort of way it's agreed on both sides that there has to be a two-state solution. That is to have a Palestinian state as well as the Israeli state. How you get there, of course, is much more difficult thing to imagine, especially because Netanyahu says, yes, there can be a state but without its own defense capability. That, of course, would not be acceptable to the Palestinians.

SIMON: Has the issue of Iran sharpened the thinking in both Israel and the United States some, an area of mutual support there?

SCHORR: Well, there is profound agreement on both sides that they have to stop Iran from having nuclear weapons. Again, how you get there is something else.

SIMON: Also this week, U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit to challenge that immigration law in Arizona.

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: What do you foresee happening? Is a struggle shaping up between state rights versus federalism?

SCHORR: Well, that's exactly what's happening. The Justice Department says the United States is responsible for immigration policy and states can't make their own immigration policy. Arizona says all they're trying to do is to support the United States in this. And there you have it. Now they go to federal court. There will be injunction requested. Who knows whether they will get an injunction. If they do it'll go up to the higher courts. This is not a one-time thing. This is going to be a great contest over a long period of time.

SIMON: NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr. Dan, thanks very much.

SCHORR: Any time.

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