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tv   In the Arena  CNN  May 3, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT

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"in the arena" from washington tonight starts right now. good evening from washington, d.c. i'm eliot spitzer. thanks for joining me "in the arena." tonight, inside osama bin laden's compound, changing facts about what actually happened. cnn has exclusive video from behind the walls of the house where bin laden stayed for years. we're learning new and startling details of the terrorist's last moments, just before he was shot in the head. but first, here's some of the other stories we'll be drilling down on tonight. the price of justice. do the math. one manhunt, two wars. and trillions of dollars. we got bin laden, but did we get our money's worth? the nobel peace prize winner to concurring hero, or from
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disappointment to two-term president. is barack obama riding high or heading for a fall? one scrap of information, a routine question, a harmless little buy. edie hill follows the trail. but first, we start inside osama bin laden's blood-stained compound outside islamabad. cnn's senior international correspondent, nic robertson, was able to go inside the house. he joins me now from abbottabad, pakistan. nic, describe for us, if you could, the most expensive mansion that was completely hidden from every intelligence agency inside pakistan. tell us what you saw behind those walls. >> reporter: well, even hearing from the neighbors, who live 50 yards away, they had no idea who was living there. the almost sort of fortified wall with razor wire, along with barbed wire atop of it. i'm 6 feet tall.
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when i stretch my hand up another 2 feet, maybe, even then i wasn't reaching up halfway to the height of the wall of the compound. when we were there, the pictures we got from inside were taken just after -- just after the gun battle that killed osama bin laden. when we were there, a few hours ago, the police had it sealed off. they had pink stinkers sealing off the doors and i could see just inside the compound, and you could see that there were forensic operatives in there. it was left alone. the police just securing the outside. and perhaps most striking about this heavy fortified concrete building is there was very little external damage to it. not a lot of bullet marks, no sort of big blast holes blasted in the side of the building that we could see, from where we were standing. clearly, the intensity of the battle took place inside. that's where all the bloodstains that could be seen on the videotape were from inside the building. but just a big surprise for the neighbors, that bin laden could
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have been living there right under their noses, essentially in plain sight, eliot. >> well, nic, i've got to tell you, it's strange credulity to believe that people did not know. that's going to be a topic of much debate and conversation in the days and weeks ahead. it turns out, apparently, there were no guards at this compound. what does that tell you? how is it possible that bin laden didn't even have any guards? doesn't that almost require that the isi, the pakistani intelligence agency was in on this and was taking care of him? >> reporter: you've got to believe that part of what kept bin laden secure here, and this is what the neighbors tell us, and this is what we see, and this is what's typical of this area, is, it is rude and an offense to stand on the roof of your building like this and look into your neighbor's yard. so people would not have been socially acceptable for people to continually just stare in that yard. they were known as being secretive. the fact that when kids' balls
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got knocked into their compound, they would just pay the kids some money to go buy a new ball rather than let them into the compound. there were late-night meetings, people arriving in suv vehicles. but people just decided that these secretive -- the secretive family living there were just rich businessmen, probably a shady type of business. they thought perhaps they were gold merchants of something like that. so they left them alone. they could get away, therefore, with not having security guards. but if bin laden had had security guards, that would have drawn attention to himself. but this building that stands out, the fact that it was more expensive, the fact that it was a bigger piece of land, you do have to ask the question, if the neighbors didn't guess it, why weren't pakistan's intelligence services on to it? and they say, they said tonight, that they were embarrassed that they missed it, but they're saying that this doesn't mean that they're inept or incapable or that they weren't trying.
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they just say, frankly, that they're very embarrassed to have missed it, eliot. >> leon panetta said they're either incompetent or involved. i'm not so sure i buy that the neighbors simply didn't ask or weren't in on this. but weren't there are certain things about this mansion that just cried out for attention, the 18-foot walls, barr bashed doesn't this just cry out to find out who's behind it? an old rule of thumb, the taller the wall you build, the more curious people will be to find out what's behind it. doesn't that just kind of resonate with you? >> reporter: it's incredible to me. i was standing at the walls of the compound. the fields, the cabbages are planted about this far away from the walls. they're right next to the compound. the farmers working there were right next to this compound. how come they didn't know?
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how come they didn't ask more questions? it's hard for us to imagine. that's not the way we lead our lives. but this is the way people here are telling me they lead theirs. the large military base that's perhaps a mile way is almost sort of out of sight, out of mind. they couldn't see it, therefore, they weren't asking questions about it. but it didn't have internet. and it didn't have a telephone. i remember talking to a saudi intelligence official years and years ago, five or six years ago in this hunt for bin laden, and he said, one of the things that we're looking for are sort of black holes in cell phone coverage or phone network coverage or whatever it is, places where phone lines run out. that's a sort of signature and a clue for where bin laden might be. so how can pakistan's intelligence agencies not have spotted that? we kept hearing repeatedly from the pakistani government that they didn't believe bin laden was inside pakistan. they wanted information to prove it. and this speaks to the fact that
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they didn't believe it themselves and they just didn't look hard enough, even though it was in their own backyard, eliot. >> thank you, nic robertson, clearly an issue that's going to be dug at, poked at, and scrutinized in the days and weeks ahead. officials say bin laden was not armed, as had been previously reported, which raises the question, was a kill order issued against bin laden no matter the circumstances? and after conflicting reports yesterday about pakistan's involvement in the raid, today, both u.s. and pakistani intelligence confirmed the u.s. flew solo on this one. the pakistanis knew nothing about the assault and they are very angry about it. let's turn to republican congressman, dana orbacker, a harsh critic of pakistan, who also attended a briefing today on what actually went down at the bin laden raid. congressman, thank you so much for joining us. just to put this out on the table, you have been intensely critical of the pakistani government. you want to eliminate the entirety of the u.s. aid that they receive? >> i used to be pakistan's best
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friend. >> right. what happened? >> they were our allies back when we were fighting the russians, and even then, they were playing us for suckers. even then, they gave the lion's share of the support that we provided to the mujahideen to radical islamists. but othver the years, how much more do they have to do until we realize they have been lying to us -- the leadership in pakistan have been lying to us and they are allied with people who hate our way of life and wish to do harm to americans. >> a lot of people agree with what you just said, how you characterize their relationship with us. just to put numbers on this, since about 2002, we have given them close to $12 billion in military aid and economic aid, totaling about $18 billion of aid, military and economic. >> and we have $6 billion more in the system that's heading to them. >> here's the question i want to ask. let's see if we can get our arms around this question. what interests do we have in pakistan? let's see if we can tick them
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off. they are a major nuclear power. is that correct? >> well, i would say they are a nuclear power. they're not a major nuclear power. >> well, i say "major" because the numbers, i think, is they're about to get 100 -- >> yes. and again, what happened? we gave them aid. instead of using that aid to help their own people, they used it to build nuclear weapons. now, how many times do they have to insult us, to do things that put us in danger before we say, it's time for a shift. we shift totally away from a new -- from a positive relationship with pakistan to being an ally with india, who has been dying to be our friend all these years. >> powerful argument. what i want to do for our viewers, see if we can agree on what the interests are that we either share or that our interests in pakistan. one, there are nuclear weapons, about 100 of them, increased about 40%, about to overtake britain. >> if we let them dictate to us what's in our interest because they have nuclear weapons, we will not have their respect and we will end up in even more trouble. >> could not agree with you
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more. number two is al qaeda and the taliban. they have been using pakistan as their home base. >> the leadership of pakistan, meaning especially the military leadership, has been in an alliance with our enemies, the al qaeda, the taliban, all along, and we've been unwilling to confront them with it. we accept their lies over and over again. how could they lie about this and expect to be taken seriously. >> when you become a critic, you go the whole way. you're not taking anything for them. and to be clear, the al qaeda and taliban headquarters where they are are right along that afghan border. >> they created the taliban and after 9/11, after the taliban were driven out, they provided a safe haven. all these years. the taliban still have a safe haven in pakistan. and by the way, where do they get their supplies to fight us? from the pakistanis, letting them resupply their efforts. >> and no doubt after the past couple of days, you would add on top of this litany of things we either care about, you would say
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no doubt they've been shielding bin laden through their intelligence agencies? >> that's correct. >> here's the question, though, you want to eliminate this financial aid, i understand, at a visceral level, of course you want to do that. but if we do that, does that not eliminate whatever leverage we might have to bring them towards us -- >> just the opposite. >> explain. >> they think we're fools, and we are fools! we're fools for giving somebody who hates our way of life and has been doing so many things to put us in jeopardy and to give them money. they won't respect anybody like that. and we will be in worse danger by having a lack of respect from these people, than if we say, okay, you've proven yourself, you're our enemy, we're going to make friends with india. >> let me add one other factor, which actually cuts in your favor. there was a meeting on april 16, we know about this from news reports that were pretty detailed between the prime minister of pakistan, president karzai of afghanistan, who supposedly the pakistani prime minister said, get rid of the united states, we're kicking out the cia, let's begin to lean towards china, they are the future. now, but again, if we --
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>> and by the way, pakistan -- karzai wouldn't even be in power in afghanistan except that we were trying to play up to the pakistanis and put karzai in -- >> you make a powerful argument that at many levels we should just say, forget it, guys, you're on your own. >> we should say that and we should say -- >> we want it back? >> and afghanistan and pakistan, settle your own problems, we're leaving, we're no longer going to have our troops there to take the hits from your people. >> but hers the question. we have, despite their public arguments, their public cries, been sending drone attacks into pakistan in numbers that have never been matched before to get rid of the al qaeda leadership. do we not need some cooperation with the pakistani leadership to do that? do we not need a pretty good relationship with their military? >> no. no. >> why not? >> number one, we don't need to go and destroy all the taliban leadership, unless they are
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threatening to us. all right? and the al qaeda leadership, unless they are threatening to us, you have to remember, the al qaeda philosophy and the taliban, the pakistani leadership has the same philosop philosophy. we are dealing with our enemies here. >> again, we agree with the articulation of the facts of the questions. how do you get the leverage to persuade them to act otherwise, other than through this ongoing relationship -- >> you don't give them money so they think that we're weak and foolish and cowardly. what you do is you say, you're on your own. and then you ally with other powers in the area, who are their enemies. >> such as? >> such as india. >> so you're saying -- >> there are lots of countries around pakistan -- i mean, we could even bring the russians back -- >> let me switch gears quickly. you were at a briefing today where you got significant details about the attack on the compound. what was the detail you've heard that was most amazing, most startling, that was most
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revealing? >> i can't say. >> the one that you can tell us? >> i can't say because it was a classified meeting. >> all right. i guess we have no choice but to take that as an answer. congressman, when it is declassified 85 years from now, you'll come back and give us more details. congressman, thanks so much for being here. all right, edie hill joins me now. what is she doing in washington tonight? >> focusing on everything that we're covering here. we have new information about that elite group that killed bin laden and details about whether he could have been taken alive. eliot, that's coming up. >> all right. thanks so much. we'll be right back. coming up, richard quest and i -- ♪ [ male announcer ] in 2011, at&t is at work, building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call
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now osama bin laden by the numbers, just how much money has osama bin laden cost americans since september 11, 2001? it's hard to put a dollar figure on it, but when you try, the dollar amounts soar into the trillions. here's just a sampling. two wars, iraq and afghanistan, with a cumulative cost so far of nearly $1.3 trillion. trillion, that's with a "t."
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that's for military operations, foreign aid reconstruction, and so forth. the creation of a sprawling new bureaucracy, the department of homeland security, over the past decade, that agency has spent more than $424 billion. consider airport screening and other forms of travel security, that alone has run up a tab of over $66 billion, huge, huge numbers. we've added about $18 billion in foreign aid to pakistan. the country where much of our hunt for bin laden was focused. of course, we ultimately found him on our own and many think they were hiding him. in new york city, the attack on the world trade center cost the city's economy between $83 billion and $95 billion. and that is just in the first year after the tragedy. the numbers are shocking and it's all because of osama bin laden. one economist estimates that 9/11 cost the u.s. economy a total of $2.5 trillion, which is roughly similar to our tally. and we're only talking about what it has cost up to now. and this isn't only about money.
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these huge expenditures have had profound effects on the way we live our lives. joining me now to dig further is cnn's money guru, richard quest, who's in new york. always great to have him there. richard, thanks for coming on the show. >> good evening to you, eliot. >> let me begin. you hear these numbers, they're huge numbers, but you don't even think that really begins to capture the sort of macroeconomic impacts. explain what you mean. >> absolutely not. eliot, you have really just dealt with what one might call the out-of-pocket expenses. huge numbers, but basically, money that has been laid out. spent on missions, machinery, equipment, missiles, and things like that. but now add in all the other things, the journeys that weren't taken, the airlines that made losses, the shareholder value that was destroyed when share prices went down because of recessions. when you start to extrapolate out much greater costs, you realize just how little the numbers you're talking about
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really are. and then, finally, you have the opportunity costs, of course, because all the money that was spent on one thing wasn't spent on another. the fact is, 9/11 affected this country, it affected it emotionally, psychologically, and physically, and deeply financially. >> you know, richard, those last words you used, opportunity costs. i don't want to start getting into an economics class here, but explain to our viewers what that means. an economist would say an opportunity cost is what you don't get to spend the money on because you have to spend it on something else. explain what you mean. >> it's really rather simple. if you go into a shop and buy product "a," you didn't buy product "b." if you choose to go to the theater, you haven't gone to the cinema. if you choose to go one thing, there is an opportunity cost, a loss, for not having done something else. now, in this case, you're talking about the billions and
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trillions of dollars that were spent on the military, on missiles, on missions and wars and security. of course there was an economic benefit to that. that money did trickle into the economy through jobs. but, it wasn't spent on health care. it wasn't spent on education or schools, which might have educated american children, which might have improved the quality of education. now, that is a real opportunity cost. but you can't really quantify it. who can say in 25 years' time that if new york state or new york city or washington or florida had built another 15 schools then average grades would have been "x" points higher? you'll never know the answer to that. but the fact is, we see it clearly, that money was spent on one place and denied in another. >> that is such an important point, richard. i know you said it was simple, i thought it was pretty sophisticated, but i'm glad you explained it so we all get it now, because what you are saying is exactly right. all the areas where we are saying our nation is falling behind, our education system,
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our infrastructure, research and development, medical costs. those are areas where the dollars could have gone if they hadn't been spent on homeland security, on the things that bin laden forced us to spend the money on or to make other folks happy, we could have had a tax cut. the point is, those decisions didn't get to be made, and that's what you're talking about. he has changed our priorities, and that may be one of the biggest impacts he ever had. do you think he wanted that? >> well, of course he did! of course, he did! that was all part of the plan. the plan was to bring down capitalism as we know it. that was a -- i mean, it was an attack on the american people, but it was an attack on our way of life, on our structures, on our market economies, on all the things that we have stood for. but, the point to make on this opportunity cost is, you have no choice. we have no choice in britain after 7/7. you had to spend the money. the war was not chosen, the war was brought to your doorstep. so not spending the money was a false opportunity cost, as economists might put it.
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>> that's right. but understand that bin laden, by his investment, reasonably small in terms of dollars and cents, has completely altered the set of priorities that dictated our spending over the past ten years. that is his greatest -- and i hate to put it in terms of this -- but a return on equity, he with a small investment forced us to spend trillions of dollars on things we didn't necessarily want to spend it on. >> i hate to say a truism of terrorism, but remember, never, never, never forget what the ira said famously in the 1980s after they tried to blow up the then british prime minister, margaret thatcher. "you have to be lucky every time, we only have to be lucky once." >> you know, richard, that's exactly right. and bin laden said the same thing. he saw what happened to the soviet empire in afghanistan, said, i can do that to the west. elsewhere, whether it's afghanistan, pakistan. richard, always great to have you on the show and always great to have you on this side of the pond here in new york. >> thank you. coming up, how did
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intelligence officers get that key detail that led to osama bin laden? did they use enhanced interrogation? that's spy speak for what some call torture. ♪ the new blackberry playbook. it runs all this at the same time. ♪ why can't every tablet do that?
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bin laden's dead, but at this moment, there are any number of terrorist hell-bent on our destruction. so the question that needs to be answered, what was the key to finding him. basically, was enhanced interrogation, basically, torture, what worked. cia director, leon panetta, tonight, answered that question. >> i think some of the detainees were clearly -- they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees, but i'm also saying that, you know, the debate about whether we would have gotten the
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same information through other approaches, i think, is always going to be an open question. >> well, it's interesting, because leon panetta is part of the obama administration, and the president has emphatically disowned torture. former cia agent jack reich joins us now from minneapolis. jack, thanks for being with us. >> absolutely. >> now, i think that director panetta makes the key distinction that they may have been able to get this information through other interrogation methods. however, the first shred of information, the code name of this courier that was bin laden's trusted, you know, courier, came from these black sites over in eastern europe. so, does this make an argument for torture? >> well, there's always going to be somebody who is arguing for torture in this case. the problem is, we don't know how this information was acquired in the first place. i guess if i looked at it from the other side, i would say that the four years after the fact, that seems to argue against torture. the fact that they had multiple false leads, that argues against torture.
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the fact that it may be an international war crime, that seems to argue against torture. there are so many things about this that we don't know. my biggest problem with the torture issue, in the end, is i think that it's irrelevant to this. it seems as if there are some who are desperately trying to hold on to torture as a good thing rather than saying, does this work, is it effective, and are there better and more honest and frankly, more legal alternatives. that's my big concern, and in the end, most effective concern. >> but in this, we know starting in 2002, they were using these techniques. certainly, not the only technique, but one in their arsenal. and this is over in eastern europe. you move ahead now to guantanamo, 2003, guantanamo bay in cuba. and more prisoners there confirm to the interrogators, not using those techniques, but confirm, yeah, we know that courier code name. by this time, they have caught khalid sheikh mohammed, and abu al libby, the number three guy, and they go to these guys, supposingly, the courier is close to them and they say,
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yeah, vaguely familiar with that name, but really don't know the name. they now tell us what was unsaid was just as important as what was said. explain that. >> well, i think that's really critical here. and i think to this story overall, what's most important is if you look at exactly what it is that the agency did here, this went over years -- i mean, frequently, intelligence work, interrogation work, all of this is slow prodding, sometimes very, very boring work. it's about acquiring information, it's about gaining trust, it's about checking leads, re-checking leads, going back to those that you worked, convince them to help you further. al of these are things that are critical. if you use the sort of "24" jack bauer-esque approach to the world, you somehow find the magic bullet and save the world. but that's not how it works. it's a slow process. you have to go through all of the steps and use all the assets at your disposal.
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if you burn a bridge, you can't pass it again. >> we keep on hoping that jack bauer method works, but it doesn't seem to be that way in real life. now we move ahead to 2005. langley, virginia. the cia director, porter goss says, this isn't working. i'm going to overhaul the counterterrorism unit. i'm going to put more officers on the ground in pakistan and afghanistan, and they do that and get part of this courier's name. using that code name, they go around and get the information, part of the name. they then go to the nsa and say, can you just do this broad sweep in pakistan, trying to look at phone records, phone conversations, e-mails, and see if this comes up. eventually, it does. the courier makes a phone call to someone under nsa surveillance. now, they've made a point of saying, they did this surveillance in pakistan. why is that significant? >> well, it's significant because they're trying to cover themselves here. i mean, if you think about what's happening, does this impact pakistan? does this anger pakistan? without question, the idea that you would go to them and say,
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hey, we're going to do this, or more importantly, you don't go to them, imagine if they did the same thing in the philippines, and in indonesia, and other parts of southeast asia, or anywhere else. do you really think they're going to say, hey, by the way, we also did this in saudi arabia? no, nobody is going to say that. so they're basically covering themselves here to say, we only did this in pakistan. notice how carefully president obama used his words in that speech. it's simply what they're doing right now. >> yeah, they kept it as narrow as possible. >> yes, they did. >> so through this now, they are able to get the courier's family, they start looking at their e-mails, listening to their phone conversations, and through that, they finally link up with this guy. they see his car, they start trailing him, and eventually he leads them to this compound. now, i know that a lot has been said about the navy s.e.a.l. team, but i'm told by one source that it is the s.e.a.l. team 6 that actually operates under an
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oga, an other government agency. and it's more of a unique, elite group of our best military members that have been training for years to take on this exact type of mission. go in. and that their mandate is to take bin laden alive, if possible. however, that said, if he offers any kind of resistance, you take him out. does that sound right to you? >> yes. i mean, if we think about what's really happened after 9/11, jsoc is a perfect example. it really came into its own after 9/11 to bring special operations groups in. i'm not just talking about the s.e.a.l.s, there's a s.e.a.l. team 6 or delta or even sometimes bringing in the rangers. but the agency also has an organization within itself that frequently comes from those very same people. and sometimes, they worked jointly. now, if you talk about all the things that you did here, all of this came together very hand in glove to make this operation
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work. and so, to say other government agency -- in this case, leon panetta was actually running this operation himself. guess what. that is the other government agency. the cia ran this op, even though they may have been using the u.s. military on the ground. >> well, i'll tell you what. the way they worked it from top to bottom, it took a long time, but boy, did it pan out. jack rice, thank you so much for being with us tonight. >> thank you so much. well, we've tracked down and killed osama bin laden. coming up next, eliot will talk to one influential congressman who says that that means that it's time to get out of afghanistan. work, building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people in more places than ever before in an effort to give you the best network possible.
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osama bin laden is dead. so does that mean we can leave afghanistan? after all, that's what we went for. i'm joined by representative barney frank of massachusetts. congressman, welcome. why are we in afghanistan? what do you think our interests are in that nation? >> well, you stated it exactly. look, george bush was coexisting with the taliban. they aren't very nice people. a lot of countries are run by people who aren't very nice. but we don't go around overallowing them all. we couldn't do it, it wouldn't work, it would be counterproductive. we went into afghanistan because osama bin laden, having murdered a lot of africans in the '90s then murdered a bunch of americans. and we said to the afghan government, you cannot allow
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this man to use your country as a base and they refused and that's why we went in. we went in to get him and he's now gotten. >> i want to get this, you're distinguishing between al qaeda and the taliban. this is a distinction that has been lost to a certain extent. >> george bush became president on january 20th, and until september 11th, we were not trying to overthrow the taliban regime. they were both a part of the same time. >> now you were privy to a lot of confidential information that you cannot share with us, but what is the best estimate you have of how many al qaeda members are in afghanistan? not taliban, al qaeda? >> less than 1,000. hundreds. but here's the other point. the argument now is, well, listen, we have to stay there because if we don't stay there, then al qaeda will use afghanistan as a base. but as you just had a very good interview with my friend, dana
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rohrabacher, we agree on this. but what he said is right about pakistan. if we shut down afghanistan tomorrow, they'd have the refugees in pakistan or somalia or sudan. we can't plug every rat hole in the world. >> let me take the other side so our viewers understand. the president went in with a surge, you voted against it, but an incremental 40,000 troops, up to 50,000 troops in afghanistan. what many people see is nation build in an effort to create a foundation where fr which al qaeda and the taliban cannot reemerge? why is that wrong? >> because you cannot rebuild a country that doesn't want to get rebuild. reading "the new york times" yesterday, this story about this incredible road, a president who seems to be more and more into corruption, you can stop bad things from happening with your military force, but you can't force good things to happen. and the fact is that we're not going to make afghanistan into anything that it doesn't want to
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be. and the other point is this. you cannot say that if we shut down afghanistan to al qaeda, they'll go away. they're already in yemen. they're in other parts of the world. they're in pakistan. the notion that we can protect ourselves by shutting down every country in the world where they may be a base makes no sense. >> there is -- does seem to be an consistency here. are we negotiating now with the taliban? >> it's unclear. and it's a kind of a, i don't know, you have the afghans, you have the talibans, you have the pakistanis, you have the u.s. the pakistanis want us to negotiate with some taliban and not others. the taliban are a terrible group of people and i wouldn't want to live there and they wouldn't want me there. >> how do you respond to that? if the taliban do return to afghanistan, women's rights will be run over, maybe children will lose fundamental rights, access to education, things we believe in. >> i agree with that and that's true about saudi arabia. i wouldn't send a feminist to saudi arabia. as a gay jew, i'm not planning
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to move to riyadh. there are plenty of places in the world where the things we care about are not very well protected. we have the lunatics in north korea, we have mugabe. yes, we can express our disapproval, but using physical force to reform every bad government in the world would exhaust us financially and be useless. >> do you see any evidence that the effort at nation building is working? >> none. >> we have seen vast sums of money. >> well, i think it's worse off than it was before. we are spending large amounts of money. again, with pakistan, and i agree with dana, he may be a little harsh on pakistan, but they clearly are not the support we need to do this. and by the way, when did nation building become our responsibility? we didn't go there to make kabul safe for the american civil liberties union. we went there to get a mass murderer. we have now killed th ed thaed murderer. and the notion that we would uproot every last terrorist
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there, even if we did -- >> the president says we'll begin the drawdown of troops this july. that's coming upon us very closely. you don't think we ever should have had the increase? >> the drawdown, you had this great discussion of opportunity. people need to understand this. given our need to reduce the deficit, not to zero, but to bring it down, either we substantially reduce meerks worldwide military commitment $150 billion a year for afghanistan and iraq, over and above the 500 and some odd billion pentagon budget or we cut medical care. that's the opportunity cost. so staying in afghanistan is not a free good. >> what would you do in afghanistan? would you leave -- vice president biden -- to a certain extent, vice president biden early on in the president's debate about what our policy should be articulated what you're saying now. saying send in covert troops, have a much slimmer force, do no go with the surgery. do you support what his perspective had been? >> i think the time has come now
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to say, we have eliminated this guy -- see, i don't think the death of bin laden, which i welcome, as i think all other sensible people do, i don't think that's a reason to get out. it removes a reason not to get out. i think it made sense to get out anyway, but now they can't say, oh, you left this guy behind and america is going with its tail between its legs. i think, if we're serious about the deficit, you can't keep spending $700 billion a year on the military. and you talk about nation building, yes, i would like to build chicago, pittsburgh, boston, new bedford. i don't think we can afford to nor succeed in building kabul. >> those were all massachusetts, if i heard -- >> i said chicago. >> excuse me, i'm in new york. we'll talk about it. but here's the question then that i've got for you. do you think you can put together a political coalition that will actually move the needle on this? you talked about congressman rohrabacher who was here before. from the other side of the aisle. is there a right/releft coaliti? >> yes, including some of the
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tea party people. while i disagree with them on other things, they are not for spending enormous amounts of money on nation building. i've already worked with john come bel campbell, ron paul. the question is not should we spend in afghanistan or not. as your opportunity cost discussion showed, do we reduce america's worldwide military -- including in western europe and other places, where we are protecting rich countries against nothing, or do we substantially cut medical care, social security, environmental protection, and transportation? >> all right. you were at the briefing today i think with cia director leon panetta. and i know there's a lot you cannot tell us about that. one thing that strikes me as odd, wouldn't we have wanted to take a certain number of prisoners that compound? >> first, there weren't a lot of people there. >> 25 or so. >> well, what we were told, mostly women and children. that it was not a heavily armed
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group. i don't think that there were the kinds of people that you're talking about. there may have been information that was there. but in terms of people -- and i do think with regard to bin laden, had he been captured and taken alive, that would have been an enormously disruptive fact. we might as well be honest about that. i think there's a great sigh of relief that he did not say, okay, hands behind my back, i'm coming. because what to do with him, how to try him in what form, would have been an enormous disruption that that man wasn't entitled to. >> as a civil libertarian, i think i'm hearing you say the best thing to do was shoot him and kill him and assassinate him. >> for a guy -- if i had a chance to shoot hitler, would i have done that? absolutely, of course. >> and bin laden the same thing? >> i think he's very close to hitler in motivation, just didn't have -- but i would say this. i think we are fortunate that he did not insist on coming
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peacefully, because that would have been a problem. i think the fact that he contributed to the circumstances in which he was killed was a good outcome. >> i hate to do this to barney frank, did the isi protect osama bin laden? >> i don't know for shoe, uh i think it's a case that they were either expliccomplicit with him very incomp tept. when we come back, will a bin laden bump help get president obama re-elected. lovet to♪
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immediately after news of bin laden's death broke, the political speculation started. how will it impact president obama's political future? and the 2010 presidential race. joining me with some much-needed perspective, two of the most knowledgeable people in washington, john king and dana bash. all right, i'm going to let you guys figure out who answers this first. is this a game changer or is this just a transitory bump, or
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not even a big bump that the president gets in the polls. >> ladies first. >> am i going to go first? look, i think you're not going to want to hear the answer to this, but i think it's too soon to tell. >> all right, that's not what -- >> no, no. there's obviously euphoria. there's no way that he cannot get applause from people, even from people who were maybe moving away from him because of the way he handled this. but i hate to say this, the economy is still very likely to drive -- >> it's the economy, stupid? john? >> it's the economy, without a doubt. his numbers are up on handling terrorism, but his numbers as a leader, strong and decisive leader are up. if he can hold that one when he's having those budget negotiations a couple months down the road, that where it could be important. >> that's where the more subtle argument could be made by the president. all these other arguments being made against him, all that's out the window. right now he's firm, he's the commander. it may not show day to day, but doesn't the nature of the argument shift? >> it's a chance to be big. listen to them. give some credit to the bush
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administration. this is a bipartisan undertaking. the vice president tonight saying we briefed as many as 16 people, nobody leaked the secret. be big in politics, it will give you some leverage. we'll see if it lasts. >> it is a chance to be big and it definitely shows he's big and he's a leader, but he still has to have that connection thing that he had so well in 2008 that many people think he lost. and big picture, that is what people are still going to be looking for. >> and the metaphor of the first president bush who was about 90 in the approval ratings about this far out after desert tomorrstorm. does that scare the white house? >> if it doesn't, it better. people in september, october, 1992, despite a lot of data saying the economy was coming back didn't believe it and they sent george h.w. bush home. don't think they're not aware of that, the obama white house. >> and just think about how much of a game changer osama bin laden himself was in so many past elections. i remember sitting there at the end of the 2004 election, you were there, following george w. bush around and seeing that bin laden tape that came out and
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seeing what happened to john kerry, and he was close, and when bin laden came out, it was over for him. >> there has been a moment of unity, you alluded to it, everyone's cheering the president, we're one nation again, how long does that last? does the first time the budget becomes an issue of debate, raising the budget ceiling or the budget deficit itself, does it all fall apart? >> people probably haven't heard it, because it's been beneath the radar, they're still fighting. there is unity on this issue, but i was up on capitol hill today walking the halls, they are still fighting about the debt ceiling, about the budget, about so many other issues. and i think maybe hours before that comes to the surface again. >> medicare. medicare. big issues that drive important constituencies. those fights are not going to go away. the question is, can washington do some -- have some agreement on some big things and fight over big things and do it as grown-ups. >> is it happening? i think it's thursday of this week the vice president is bringing together the so-called grown-up conversation. will it go anywhere or will this
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just be a pro forma, everyone states their pre-existing conditions and go back to their offices and say, okay, that was one. will they move towards some sort of consensus? >> not immediately. i was told very bluntly by members of both parties to not expect a lot from that thursday meeting. it is going to take some time to get that done. >> in that case, we'll come right to the precipice once again. because as tim geithner said over and over and over again, if we don't raise the debt ceiling, we'll be doing something that crushes the capital markets and our economy. as we get closer, what do you think the outline of a deal could be that gets us over that hurdle or avoids us going over the precipice. >> they agree roughly on a number. they have wildly different views of how to get there. but that is a building block. and you just had barney frank on the set. you remember back 2007 within 2008, when president bush called everybody in, obama and mccain got along for a little bit. if they view it as that serious
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of a problem, they'll figure it out. if they think it's smaller than, they'll go back to their petty, partisan ways. >> but the initial thing they have to worry about is what conditions are going to be placed on the debt ceiling? i'm told the rough parameters are possibly a spending cap for maybe two years, maybe a little bit longer, but the hardest thing is trying to figure out the long-term -- >> hold that thought, we'll take a break, and when we come back, we'll have that conversation. ttd# 1-800-345-2550 ttd# 1-800-345-2550 ttd# 1-800-345-2550 and talk to chuck about ttd# 1-800-345-2550 rolling over that old 401k.
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all right. we're back with john king and dana bash. dana, you said the hard part was actually going to be figuring out how you get to that $4 trillion number, that, john, you said, here's the first voting bloc. the fundamental divide is do you do it all from cuts, or say that we're going to raise revenue, which is what the bowles/simpson plan does and what the president says. do you get some agreement there from the republican party where they seem pretty unified against any increase? >> that's the first debate, try to get the people who would be president next time. the question sb what about those who are elected right now? there are some republican senators, conservatives, saxby chapel bliss, tom coburn, who say if you do fundamental tax reform, rip up the code, and then it brings in as a net
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result more money to washington, they're potentially okay with that. >> okay, but dana, let me ask you the hard question. everyone says, close the loopholes, you can lower rates. everybody loves that line. then you say to him, which loop hopes are you closing, and nobody has a clear answer? which loopholes can actually be closed to get us to that wonderland of lower rates and more revenue? >> it's very hard. they are talking about closing corporate loopholes. they are talking about some things that people are not going to like, like taking away the expenditures or the deductibility for charity and for mortgages. those are very much things that are on the table, particularly in this group of six senators, three democrats, three republicans who are trying to come up -- >> but correct me, if i'm right, if you want to close loopholes and use some of that revenue to lower rates but some of it to close the deficits, means you don't lower the rates all you could. and grover norquist, the anti-tax guy that's run washington says absolutely you don't push those rates down as far as possible. >> the closer you get to the next election cycle, when you
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need money from all those special interests and all those lobbying groups, the more complicated you make an already complicated challenge. so the skeptics in town say no way you can get it done. >> enough on this wonky stuff. politics. medicare, john, you said medicare has become a third rail that is going to make the republicans give back all the gains they got last november. >> well, the republicans are serious about the proposal, at least in the house. there's a lot of skittishness on the senate side about the republican proposal. i view it more this way. the republicans have made gains among elderly voters in the last two elections. the democrats want them back, so they want this fight. >> have republicans been able to sell their medicare plan to senior citizens? yes or no item >> i spoke to several members who were in very tough town hall meetings. they said that they were sure that at the end of the day, they convince smod some of the senio who were very upset that maybe this would be a tough pill to swallow, but medicare is very tough politics and democrats are relentless on this issue. >> it's not going


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