SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
This week President Obama reversed course on a couple of decisions and wound up in a sea of criticism. An American journalist is freed from an Iranian prison. And a trial date is set for two journalists being held in North Korea. NPR's senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Hello, Dan.
DAN SCHORR: Hi, Scott.
SIMON: And you know, seems like almost yesterday, President Obama was getting really widespread acclaim, almost across the spectrum, for his first 100 days, the ambitiousness, seriousness of purpose. Into the second hundred days things have not been as smooth.
SCHORR: No, I guess that's right. I think you can say that the honeymoon is getting close to being over. And the way you can tell is that when the president begins to reverse some staunchly held positions, you realize that there is trouble brewing.
For example, there are these detainee abuse photos that the Pentagon had agreed to make public on a court order. The president had agreed to make them public, changed his mind, said it's not going to be good for the military. On having commissions, military commissions to try people at Guantanamo, originally he campaigned against it. Now he's saying, yeah, maybe it's a good idea, maybe we will do it.
SIMON: Limited number of cases.
SCHORR: In a limited number of cases, but changing his previously held position. On top of that, there was - he had this meeting with people in the health industry and said that they're all agreed to do great things about reforming health costs and so on. They now are saying that he's rather exaggerated the commitments that were being made by them.
SIMON: Let me ask about a couple of other things though. Also there hasn't been much of a determination made on what you're going to do, what the U.S. government's going to do with the detainees at Guantanamo.
SCHORR: Yes, that's getting to be a real problem. The president could blithely say at one point, I want Guantanamo closed at the end of the year. But it's a little harder to close it than to say you're going to close it. And that's one of the reasons I think that he wants to have the military commissions, to try to clear some of these people and find some way of sending them somewhere. If he can find a place that will take them, which is proving to be a little difficult.
SIMON: He also needed the unstinting support of Republicans in the Senate to get a spending bill passed for Afghanistan.
SCHORR: That's right.
SIMON: The military activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
SCHORR: The supplemental appropriation meant to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan as well. And on one of these major bills there were 51 Democrats who voted against. It passed with a help of some Republicans. But if he can't get his people in Congress to support him on a thing as vital as money for the war - but what's the reason for that is that in Congress they're beginning to say, how long? When are you going to get out? What is your strategy? These are all signs of what you might call the winding down of the honeymoon.
SIMON: Roxana Saberi, who's reported for NPR, BBC and other news organizations, was released from prison in Iran this week, to the relief of many people around the world, really. But there are two other U.S. journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, of the independent media company Current TV, who are being detained still in North Korea. They've been accused of entering the country illegally with hostile intent. Many commentators have suggested that Roxana Saberi was released by Iran as some kind of gesture to the United States.
SCHORR: Well, it was, in a sense. I mean, these people - when journalists are arrested that way, I'm sure that Iran, North Korea know that when they pick up these journalists, that these journalists are not spying. All they're trying to do is find out something to tell all the people, not just any sort of government. But once you have them, they become pawns. They can be used to indicate a change in climate, invite a change in climate. I think that the Committee to Protect Journalists is going to have its hands full in times to come.
SIMON: Dan, thanks very much.
SCHORR: My pleasure.
SIMON: Dan Schorr. More on the plight of political prisoners in Iran on our Web site. You can go to npr.org/soapbox for an audio slide show and an interview with one of Iran's most prominent human rights lawyers.
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