tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC December 16, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
>> terrific. world news is up next. i'm carolyn johnson. >> i'm dan ashley. thanks for watching. tonight on "world news," war report. the big end of the year briefing on america's longest war, afghanistan. are we winning or losing? and, a portrait of the sacrifice. treacherous travel. new snow, sleet and ice turning roads into rinks. humble hero. the guard who saved the day in the school board shooting speaks out. security slips. tsa screeners failed to spot guns, even bombs? brian ross investigates. and, helping hands. so many of you, such generous offers, after our story last night about the heartbreaking letters to santa. good evening. it is all there in black and white.
the target dates, the heavy toll. the long-awaited review of america's war in afghanistan was released today, addressing the questions, how much ground has been gained? and is the end in sight, after more than nine years? our new poll finds increasing discontent, 60% of americans now say it has not been worth fighting. we'll delve into this new report, beginning with jake tapper at the white house. jake? >> reporter: good evening, diane. well, the review states that conditions are being created for the u.s. troops to begin withdrawing next summer, though they will remain until 2014. but the review underlines that whatever gains have been made in the last year, they are fragile and reversible. the president announced today that the u.s. will essentially stay the course in this war that has essentially become his. >> we will never waiver from our goal of disrupting, dismantling, and ultimately defeating al qaeda. >> reporter: with president obama's new way forward in the region, and his tripling of the
troop level to roughly 100,000, this year was the deadliest for u.s. troops. nonetheless, the review cites progress -- improved cooperation with the government of pakistan and success degrading al qaeda in the border area between afghanistan and pakistan. >> senior leaders have been killed. it's harder for them to plot and launch attacks. >> reporter: though the president failed to say that success is largely attributable to predator drones. the review states that the momentum achieved by the taliban in recent years has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in key areas of southern afghanistan, such as kandahar. our reporter on the ground in the region, nick schifrin, items us starkly what the review does not. >> reporter: afghans in the north and west tell us across large areas where there are no u.s. troops, security has decreased in the last year. and even in kandahar city, the focus of so much u.s. attention, the taliban are still able to assassinate government employees.
and that means afghans there are so scared, two-thirds of all government jobs are unfilled. >> reporter: and that's an area that you're citing as a success? >> there's no doubt that the taliban has a very targeted assassination program. but as we deny them safe havens within afghanistan, their ability to carry out these kind of terrorist acts will be diminished. >> reporter: but given 60% public opposition to the war, is time running out? how can the obama administration continue to wage this war with so little public support? >> leaders and certainly this president will not make decisions that are matters of life and death and the future security of our nation based on polling. >> reporter: and diane, president obama acknowledged today that pakistani forces have not gone after extremists in the tribal regions enough, he said, quote, progress has not come fast enough. diane? >> all right, jake. want to turn now to martha
raddatz, because we wanted more on the view from the ground in afghanistan, and she has traveled there six times this year. she's just come back this week. and martha, give me, again, a general sense of how much ground the u.s. and the other forces have gained there and how much the taliban has pushed back. >> reporter: well, you know, the strategy is clear, hold and build. they're still clearing in most areas. now, even in the south, where they cited progress today, those areas, they're just clearing. they're not really holding and they're certainly not building. and as nick schifrin pointed out, in the north and the west, in some parts of the east, things have deteriorated significantly. >> so, as you read this report, what do you think the troops on the ground are saying tonight? >> reporter: well, i can tell you, diane, first of all, they don't pay much attention to politics. they don't pay much attention to polls. they are fighting for the brother and sister next to them. and if this is very hard to believe, after nine years, but they feel the fight is just beginning.
they now finally have about 100,000 troops there. before this, they've only had 30,000 through nine years, so, they feel the pieces are just in place. they now have four more years, because president obama has committed to a 2014 deadline. >> nine years in, they're beginning, they're really beginning. incredible. thank you, martha raddatz. and, of course, theirs is the indelible legacy of the long war, the lives lost. 1,427 americans have been killed. 32,000 wounded. and you can see a portrait of the sacrifice, in all the cities and towns across this country, who gave their young men and women to the war and now honor their memories. and on this day of the report, abc's john donvan, on the fallen more than nine years in. >> reporter: it seems we need reminders, the "rest of us," that yes, there is a war. and when it intrudes, as it did on wednesday, this is los angeles, middle of everyone's day, that can still get, it did get, the proper amount of
attention. and appreciation for a sacrifice that the rest of us, truthfully, only rarely let into our thoughts. at the start, of course, we all shared the wound. and when he made this vow -- >> and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon. >> reporter: we were nearly all behind it. only 23 days later, the vow kept. the first strikes in afghanistan, operation enduring freedom. they were there, and we, the "rest of us," we were the home front. was it a different time? in obvious ways, sure. the guy who would invent facebook later, "time's" man of the year, wasn't even in college yet. the guy who would be president later was a total unknown teaching in chicago. 3,357 days. time enough for kids in middle school in 2001 to be in combat now. time enough for a nation to have
wandered silly into the obsessive buying of homesteads rather than the tending of home fires for those who are sacrificing. our patience did not endure. >> for most americans, the wars remain an abstraction. >> reporter: and the truth is, in most places, the returning dead don't even get this. they come in unseen with the rest of the cargo. and only because one airport cop pushed hard to change that, here, at least, in los angeles, the dead do get this moment of honor and silence of a kind that says for once, yes, we on the home front thank you. john donvan, abc news, washington. >> and we were so struck by what one mother, whose son died on the battlefield, said, she said, "god thought enough of my son to make him a hero." and, we move on now to wikileaks, and the founder, julian assange, who walked out of a london jail today, free on more than $300,000 bail.
he had been arrested last week in a rape investigation in sweden. >> i hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter and to reveal, as we get it, which we have not yet, the evidence from these allegations. >> he will remain under house arrest at a friend's mansion. he has a curfew and an electronic tag. but assange did say he is worried about being extradited to the united states. and, here in the u.s., this week of wild weather turned even worse today. a dangerous new storm now moving up the east coast, delivering a potent mix of ice, snow and sleet. and since the storms began over the weekend, more than two dozen people have died, many on slick roads. barbara pinto is in louisville, kentucky. >> reporter: this was the rude awakening this morning in places least equipped to deal with it.
from kentucky to the carolinas, a slippery and deadly storm littered highways with pileups and spinouts. >> i was afraid of hitting anything. i hit a mailbox. >> reporter: near atlanta, police responded to hundreds of crashes, so many that drivers abandoned their cars rather than wait for a tow truck. sleet and ice closed roads and schools from missouri to tennessee. the problem is black ice, everywhere. this may look wet, but it's far more dangerous. david jones took a tumble, trying to help a neighbor who slipped on the ice. >> i was going to his rescue and didn't make it. hit the first step and feet flew out and hit my back on the steps. >> reporter: here at jewish hospital in louisville, they have treated nearly 200 bruises and broken bones. >> we've had numerous slips and falls today. so, it's made us quite busy. >> reporter: all this, and winter is still days away. barbara pinto, abc news, louisville. and today, we heard from one
of the unsung heroes of that school board shooting in florida. mike jones was not even supposed to be at work that day. he was supposed to be on vacation. but what happened next changed a lot of lives. ryan owens reports. >> reporter: the man who saved countless lives expressed grief, even guilt, for the one life lost. >> i just want to let the duke family know that my heart goes out to you. he was somebody's son and somebody's father. >> reporter: mike jones shot 56-year-old clay duke three times as the ex-con fired on school board members. duke then turned the gun on himself. >> i saw him square up just like this in front of the superintendent and i said, "oh god, here we go. it's on." >> reporter: today, jones, the school security chief, returned to that board room for the first time. >> i fired two more rounds and hit him twice and he went down.
then, his arm came up and he was firing at me. >> reporter: i don't think people realize how small it is. you were so close. >> oh, yeah, yeah. >> reporter: and how point blank he was to them. >> right. >> reporter: a retired cop, most know him as salvage santa. he restores bikes and old toys for thousands of needy kids, a program that got oprah's attention in 1995. >> i've seen a lot of children that don't have anything and that are taken out of homes and i thought i could get those gifts to them. i'm santa claus, man. everybody -- for 27 years i've been providing christmas for kids. i was worried about what the community would think. you know, okay, he's a tough guy and -- i'm not a tough guy, guys, i'm not. i just done my job. >> reporter: a work ethic he instilled in his son, who just graduated, yes, from the police academy. does what happened to your dad give you pause? >> makes me want to do it more. >> reporter: mike jones was already his son's hero. tonight, he's also his community's. ryan owens, abc news, panama city, florida.
and still ahead on "world news," a security check before the christmas crunch. before you get in the plane, see what brian ross found. and, remembering an athlete and patriot from a simpler time. and, santa's letters. we told you about the hopes of so many needy children, and within hours, an army of you answered the call. ugh, my sinuses... the congestion... it's your fault. naturally, blame the mucus. well, i can't breathe. did you try blowing your nose? of course. [ both ] and nothing came out. instead of blaming me, try new advil congestion relief. what you probably have is swelling due to nasal inflammation, not mucus. and this can help? it treats the real problem of your sinus symptoms, reducing swelling due to nasal inflammation. so i can breathe. [ mucus ] new advil congestion relief.
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today, counter terrorism officials warned about threats from al qaeda during this holiday season. and in just one week, the christmas travel crunch will be in full swing, with the enhanced pat-downs and the full body screenings. but tonight, brian ross investigates, can weapons still slip through security? >> reporter: in the middle of last year's christmas travel period, tsa screeners at houston's bush airport somehow managed to miss a loaded high powered glock pistol in an empty computer carry-on bag. this is what it would have looked like. authorities tell abc news it happens all the time. screeners asleep at the screen. >> whith a determined threat, that should be troubling news indeed. >> reporter: in fact, the owner of the gun in houston boarded a continental flight and flew to his destination before realizing
the gun was in his bag. >> i mean this is not a small gun. it's a .40 caliber gun. >> reporter: farid seif says he carries a gun because he works late, and says he forgot to unpack it before the trip, and reported the incident as soon as he landed, astounded at the security lapse. >> there was nothing else in there. how can you miss it? you cannot miss it. >> reporter: the failures of tsa screeners to spot guns and other dangerous items is a closely held government secret. results from the most recent so-called red team test by the government accountability office were apparently so bad they are classified, to the outrage of congressional critics. >> how many times did they fail? the public has a right to know those bottom line results. >> reporter: a person briefed on the latest results told abc news the failure rate approached 70% at some major airports. and two weeks ago, the new tsa director, john pistole, told reporters that at some airport, every single test gun, bomb part or knife got past screeners. >> unfortunately, in many instances, they've been 100%
successful in getting through. >> reporter: and despite billions of dollars spent on equipment, the last line of defense remains individual tsa screeners, faced with an often mind-numbing task. >> we don't pay them very much money and we don't train them very well. and you get what you get. >> reporter: in the case of that houston gun owner, he says while his pistol sailed past the screener, the woman behind him was stopped for having liquids in her bag. the tsa says the screeners asleep at the screen in houston were disciplined, but not fired, diane. >> as you said, it's mind-numbing, but so critical. >> reporter: the last line of defense. >> thank you, brian ross. and coming up, a real life field of dreams. sleep is here, on the wings of lunesta. and if you wake up often in the middle of the night... rest is here, on the wings of lunesta. lunesta helps you fall asleep and stay asleep, so you can wake up feeling rested.
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he accepted an honorary oscar in 2004 with a nod to his wife, julie andrews. >> and the beautiful english broad with the incomparable soprano and permiscuous vocabulary. thank you. and i sure as hell thank you. >> blake edwards died of pneumonia. he was 88. and, another passing to note. baseball great bob feller, otherwise known as rapid robert. the hall of famer died wednesday of leukemia at the age of 92. his real life story was a real life version of a classic baseball tale, and john berman looks back at how one young boy emerged from the cornfields of iowa to throw thunder from the mound. >> reporter: how do you explain bob feller? how you explain a pitcher who threw so hard, his fastball once raced a motorcycle? how do you explain a kid so famous, the national media covered his high school graduation?
>> how do you explain mozart? nothing like him before or since. >> reporter: he was raised on a farm on van meter, iowa -- the original field of dreams. he was signed by the cleveland indians at age 16. his bonus? $1 and an autographed baseball. he pitched his first big league game at age 17, striking out 15. when his rookie season was over, he went back to iowa to finish high school. >> bob feller goes right to work. >> reporter: his fastball, they swore, topped 100 miles an hour. his curveball, joe dimaggio said, wasn't human. and age 23, he put his career on hold, enlisting in the navy two days after pearl harbor, the first big leaguer to sign up. >> i didn't consider myself a hero whatsoever. i did the job that all good americans should have done. >> reporter: a stubborn, outspoken man, feller threw every pitch of his career for cleveland, leaving an indelible mark, with a statue to prove it.
rapid robert, the van meter heater. bob feller was 92. john berman, abc news, new york. and coming up, a thank you, to you, viewers at home springing into action, helping santa make children's wishes come true. a heart attack that's caused by a clot, one that could be fatal. but plavix helps save lives. plavix, taken with other heart medicines, goes beyond what other heart medicines do alone, to provide greater protection against heart attack or stroke and even death by helping to keep blood platelets from sticking together and forming dangerous clots. ask your doctor if plavix is right for you. protection that helps save lives. [ female announcer ] certain genetic factors and some medicines, such as prilosec, reduce the effect of plavix leaving you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. your doctor may use genetic tests to determine treatment. don't stop taking plavix without talking to your doctor as your risk of heart attack or stroke may increase.
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last night, david muir showed us how children are using their letters to santa to ask for basic shoes and food instead of toys. and within hours, you answered the call, and david found some of you good samaritans today. >> reporter: we showed you the millions of letters pouring into post offices. children writing dear santa, and this year, so many parents writing, too. hundreds of you e-mailed us. "i was so touched to see the story, how different the letters are this year." zina from california wrote, "i would really like to make someone's christmas wishes come true if i can." today, we called her up. hi, zina, it's david muir. >> hi. >> reporter: she told us, she couldn't forget that single mother last night who wrote to santa about her son. "he's a beautiful baby. please don't forget about us. he needs sneakers." >> wanted sneakers. >> reporter: she wanted sneakers. >> yes. i have never stopped believing in santa myself. >> reporter: and so today, zina
became an elf, shopping for everything on that list. including the sneakers. >> those are cute. is that what they're wearing these days? >> reporter: some red converse might be on the way. erika from new york wrote, "that story definitely struck a chord." last year, she was out of a job. and before we called her this morning, she had already been to the post office. >> i took a bunch of letters this morning. >> reporter: you did? >> yes. >> reporter: and by mid-day today, she was on that escalator with bags in hand, already buying for each of those letters, starting with one she saw last night, the mother of three who wrote the economy has become very harsh, we only ask for clothes, coats, and a bit of toys, if you can. and from seattle, kandi was watching last night, too. you wrote in your e-mail, "with the days ticking away quickly, how can an elf help santa?" today, that elf got to work. with a letter from last night, that 7-year-old girl who wrote, "this year, i have behaved good
in school, my sister, too. i only one clothes and shoes for me and my sister, and our brother." >> 18-month-old should fit in like these shoes? >> reporter: just three of the elves we met today, remembering the last three words in so many of those letters. david muir, abc news, new york. >> and we thank you. and for being here tonight, "person of the week" tomorrow night. see you then.
tonight why pg&e suddenly was told to turn down the pressure. >> are you ready for rain? what is being done to prepare for a series of incoming storms, plus where they'll hit, and when. >> enough is enough. tonight a showdown in oakland over a reputation for police brutality. will it result in anything more than talk? >> in sacramento, the california air resources board considers the nation's aggressive rules in combatting global warm going after the largest carbon polluters. >> good evening, to prevent disaster, pg&e is under orders tonight. >> the public utilities commission telling pg&e to turn down the gas pressure in two major lines in the east bay. and there is more fallout from the san bruno disaster. >> and
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