Week in Review: India; Guantanamo; Iraq; FEMA

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President Bush's trip to India and South Asia is a highlight of the week's news. Other topics include the status of civil discord in Iraq, the Pentagon's release of the names of detainees at Guantanamo, a Palestinian financial crisis and FEMA videos.


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

President GEORGE W. BUSH: The United States and India, separated by half the globe, are closer than ever before. And the partnership between our free nations has the power to transform the world.

STAMBERG: President Bush speaking in New Delhi, India on Friday. The President's trip to Central Asia has produced an historic nuclear agreement with India, but it's also been marred by widespread demonstrations, including a bombing in Karachi, Pakistan that killed a U.S. diplomat.

Mr. Bush is in Islamabad, Pakistan today. NPR's senior new analyst, Daniel Schorr, is right here in Washington. Hi, Dan.

DANIEL SCHORR reporting:

Good morning, Susan, and welcome to the big times.

STAMBERG: Thank you so much. The agreement with India raises the U.S. ban now on selling nuclear technology and nuclear fuel to India. It also lets India hold onto its civilian nuclear program, and in exchange India's going to permit international inspections of some but not all of its nuclear facilities. But this is, this whole thing, it may sound better than it is, because it has to be approved by the Congress to go into effect. So what are the chances of that?

SCHORR: Well, I think you can expect some sharp questioning from Congress, if not a certain amount of outright opposition. President Bush had to make some last minute concessions to India, even while his plane was on his way to New Delhi. And the result is, as you suggested, that India now gets to produce an unlimited amount of fissile material from something called fast breeder reactors, and please don't ask me what that means.

But the effect is to make India the sixth member of the nuclear club, and that's a big blow to the cause of non-proliferation.

STAMBERG: Yes. Well, how is this agreement now between this country and India going to effect what has been an international campaign to get Iran and also North Korea to give up their nuclear programs? Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement. India hasn't.

SCHORR: That is right, and clearly what's happening now, and I'm sure they'll be hearing a lot about this, is that a different standard is being set for India than for the Axis of Evil folk, Iran and North Korea. Apparently one size doesn't fit all.

It's very interesting. You know, every president, almost every president in his second term reaches out to try to write something in his legacy about a big breakthrough. So it was Nixon in China, it was Reagan with Gorbachev and the Soviet Union. And now we have President Bush apparently trying to write a piece of his legacy with Prime Minister Singh of India.

STAMBERG: Yeah. You talked about China, and that looms on the horizon. Because this nuclear deal with India is expected to be very good for U.S. business. They can make a fortune selling materials to India. But the President's visit produced other trade agreements. So do you think, is this administration hoping that this world's largest democracy, India, will outrun China, which is right now Asia's economic tiger?

SCHORR: Well, it's not a matter of outrunning China. I think the United States government sees India as a possible buffer for the containment of China. It is the American candidate in Asia is going to be India along with Japan, and they hope that at some point that will sort of hold a line against a growing China.

STAMBERG: Moving to a different continent now. Last night, under a federal court order, the Pentagon released the names of detainees at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Those names are scattered throughout something like 5,000 pages of transcripts from hearings. The Pentagon had resisted giving these documents. For four years they said they were concerned about violating the privacy of the detainees.

SCHORR: Yes, that's really wonderful. This is the administration of the Patriot Act. This is the administration which has used its power in order to do wireless...


SCHORR: Wiretapping.


SCHORR: And now suddenly it emerges as the protector of civil liberties of people who were sent there. It is probable that a minor fraction of these people did anything wrong. But we'll never know until we hear from them.

STAMBERG: Turning to Iraq now, the sectarian violence that came after the bombing last week of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, that seems to have calmed down somewhat. And on Friday, General George Casey, he's the U.S. commander there, said that the crisis he thinks has passed. But he certainly did not rule out the possibility of a civil war, Dan.

SCHORR: No. Just that the likelihood of a civil war has receded a little bit after the crisis in the bombing of the Golden Dome in Samarra. But yes, that possibility is always there. It comes and it goes. The killing goes on. Twenty-five yesterday. And now we're going back to trying to form a government in Iraq, and the Kurds, along with the Sunnis are trying to get rid of Jaafari, who is the acting Prime Minister. Life goes on.

STAMBERG: Yeah, yeah. The Palestinian Authority has been trying to form a new government, facing a terrible financial crisis. They're two weeks late in paying salaries to something like 140,000 workers, also security staff. And the U.N. envoy to the Middle East, James Wolfenson, warned this week that that crisis could lead to chaos. The European Union gave $143 million in emergency aid to the Palestinians to avoid an immediate crisis. But what happens next, do you think?

SCHORR: Well, what happens next, both Europe and the United States have said that there will be no aid for a Hamas government unless the Hamas is willing to accept Israel existing and promise to end violence by the Hamas.

Russia is trying to play a mediator role. There's been a delegation of Hamas in Moscow, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lovra(ph) told them that Hamas has no serious future unless it reforms itself into a peaceful political party. And that is the big question. Hamas has waited a long time to show its militancy, and now it has won a sensational election, and the question before everybody now is, does Hamas get to become a milder party now that it's in?

STAMBERG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Domestically now, Dan, related to Hurricane Katrina, the Associated Press released two videos this week of FEMA/White House briefings on that hurricane. And one of those videos was taken before the storm hit and one was taken on the day of the storm. What more do these tapes tell us about how the federal and the local governments handled this disaster?

SCHORR: Well, not much, because the transcript of what was on these tapes was previously released. So you get a slightly deeper sense of what people look like and how disengaged President Bush was.

STAMBERG: I can't let you go without asking for your Oscar pick. You know the awards will be given tomorrow night. Which film, I can only guess, do you think..

SCHORR: You can only guess.

STAMBERG: Yeah, why don't you tell us.

SCHORR: I think I'll tell you what I think everybody knows. Good Night and Good Luck.

STAMBERG: Of course about Edward R. Murrow. Thank you very much, NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr.

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