Skip to main content

tv   This Week With Christiane Amanpour  ABC  August 28, 2011 8:00am-9:00am PDT

8:00 am
across the region. >> get the hell off the beach. >> we'll also talk to new jersey governor chris christie whose state is taking a beating this morning.
8:01 am
>> you guys are doing a great job. and we'll hear from the head of fema on the response to the northeast's most fearsome storm in decades. plus our "roundtable" with george will, ron brownstein and two women who know the personal and political tolls the monster hurricanes can take, donna brazile and cokie roberts. welcome to the program, i'm jake tapper. christiane will be back next week. welcome to a special west coast edition of "this week." lots to get to. and the news since your morning papers is that hurricane irene is bearing down on new england. they are bracing for the worst. the streets are desserted. and thoususds are takinggover in city shelters. irene up and down the east
8:02 am
coast, we have seen devastation in north carolina. at least nine people have been killed. more than 3 million homes are without power. abc news has team coverage with correspondents akrocross the region. irene is up the east coast. ashleigh banfield, we see the winds are kicking up strong behind you. >> reporter: boy, are they? i have been told they are up to 65 miles an hour. my personal gust meeter is not up to bar. the story here is not as much wind as it is surge. we are expecting an eight-foot surge. you see boats at the same level atat the houses. these houses, mandatory evacuation. these people are trying to save
8:03 am
their dock. saving assets at this point is really not advisable. take a look to the brown house, we have been watching it, the lost its peach. lost its yard and about to lose the front door as well. i want to take you further out. we get closer to the pound. that american flag is on the front lawn of a home that has a 20-foot beach in front of it. and the winds come in and the extreme swells as well. and a lot of the boats, connecticut is known for the beautiful yachts and boating. a lot of the boats are out on mooring balls where they couldn't crash up against the bock. but mooring balls are not often safe. that is when we see the boats up on end. and we thoep they can get on their moors balls. these ones here, they are
8:04 am
latched to their dock. i know i went to my dock and did extra latching. i have know idea of the late of our boat now. with a half million people without power -- this is just the beginning. we are just feeling the brunt of the storm here with the high tide here. and ns a new moon high tide. what dhaus mean? it's higher than usual. they closed the hurricane barrier, very rarely down here in stamford, connecticut, to protect 600,000 acres of land from flooding. even the governor of the state evacuated his own brother who sought refuge in a hotel. >> david kerley is in cape cod, massachusetts. storm surge is a worry. how fierce are the waves off the
8:05 am
coast now? >> yeah, it is picking up quite a be it. we are west of cape cod. we are in merrian, massachusetts. and the bay, you see the winds that are kicking the waves up. and the concern here is surge. the high tide was a couple hours ago, and it should be coming down. they are still getting a lot of water here. will it breach the sea wall? we are on an island of 55 homes. they have been asked to evacuate. they are a little worried about the wind hilting here. it's really the surge that the biggest concern. for mass in general, they have shut down their s sway service, bus service. we are going to be whipped by the tail of this thing into the evening. >> what is keeping local officials up at night?
8:06 am
what are they mostly concerned about right now? >> reporter: it has been whether or not this surge floods some areas. they got most of the boats out. they are not concerned about that. but it is really the coastal flood sbgt surge. and boston is concerned too. and boston could see strong winds the rest of the day. >> already, david kerley, just west of cape cod, stay safe. new york city was bracing for the flooding. park in lower manhattan.attery sam what kind of impact are you seeing now? >> reporter: jake, we picked up the wind. and after the storm open onned,
8:07 am
we have seen the heaviest winds of the day. the gusts, 30 miles an hour or higher. and here in manhattan, flooding in the battery. i want to tell and you show you pictures here. we are getting reports from elmsford, new york, just up the river. and we have video of people getting rescued from boats. multiple rescues. and it's an area that floods when that there are storms and there is a lot of rain inland. and flooding in philly. now this is cobbs creek area, philadelphia, which often floods when they get rain. but half a million people are without power. the storm has passed them just as it passed us. and they are going to try to reopen their subways. i want to get get more
8:08 am
information. they have been trying to get the damage assessment and about 700 trees like the one behind me uprooted because of the storms. it is fierce. >> one of the reasons that flooding is a concern because of rain earlier in the month. explain that. >> reporter: absolutely. this has been a very wet august. it wasn't too long ago, there were many communities reporting a weekend of 11 inches of rain. and normally, in august, we see about four inches for the month. a lot of folks running well above normal and add to that what we have gotten today. and more seven incheses same places have picked up ten inches of rain. and we won't know until you get the final tally. when you get samp rated ground,
8:09 am
and it has nothing to do but flood. it just running off in skreeks and rivers and floods. we know there are more than 30 major flood markers that will get to major flood. and wow, look at that. the sky is opening up and we are getting sunshine as well. >> sam champion. we are now going to go to lee goldberg the wabc -- we are going to go to, sorry, new jersey governor chris christie. we are going to go to governor christie right now. as we have been telling you, new jersey is getting hit hard from the storm. chris christie is monitoring the situation from the regional operations intelligence center in ewing, new jersey. he joins us right now. governor christie, thanks for coming on the show. >> thanks for having me, jake. >> the hurricane made landfall in new jersey shortly before 6:00 this morning. your state's just beginning to weather the storm. what are the early reports telling you?
8:10 am
>> earlier reports are very difficult, jake, we have over half a million now without power. we have 15,000 people in 45 shelters across the state. 250 roads are closed, and we are going to look at a record flooding situation here, both at the shore and inland, so my message to the people of new jersey, the eye of the storm is still over the state. we are far from out of the woods on the storm itself and i urge people to stay inside their homes. one report we have this morning of a woman missing is someone o went out in her car. drove, got out of her car and into the water. and was swept away in the water and is still missing. please, stay in your homes until the storm completely left new jersey. then we'll be able to get through this together in the aftermath. i need people to stay at home. >> what is your biggest concern right now? what kept you up last night? >> flooding, jake. because we had the wettest august on record in parts of new jersey, before the storm.
8:11 am
already, we've had six to eight inches of rain dumped on south jersey and the rain is continuing throughout the state. what i'm really worried about is flooding at this point and how to evacuate more people than the 15,000 we've already had to evacuate in shelter. in the short term over the next couple of days, my big concern is inland flooding and shore flooding and how we'll deal with folks that have to be evacuate from their homes and need to be sheltered. >> is there anything the state of new jersey needs from the federal government that you're not getting? >> not at this point, jake. we have fema representatives here at the regional operations at the intelligence center that we're working with. i'm calling secretary napolitano in an hour or two to make a further request of additional needs. so far fema has been very responsive. i spoke to secretary napolitano in the last 24 hours. she's offered to do whatever she needs to do to help us out in new jersey. she knows how hard we're going to be hit. right now the cooperation
8:12 am
between new jersey and fema has been great. i'm going to call secretary napolitano shortly to ask for more help. >> i know you were concerned at the time. it was 600 seniors in these atlantic city high-rises who are not leaving. what could you tell us about efforts to protect them? >> the last-ditch effort i referenced yesterday afternoon, we gotot00 or so to leave and to evacuate. now we're dealing with 100 seniors who refused to evacuate. as soon as it's safe to travel. the office of emergency management in atlantic county is already check on these folks to make sure they are okay. they lost power in a number of buildings as early as 10:00 last night. the county officials are going to check on those folks. as soon as we have those reports we'll share that with the public. >> why do people not leave their homes at times like this? >> i think it's a combination of things.
8:13 am
you know, jake, new jersians are tough, cynical, hard-edged folks. they think the "cry wolf" syndrome. it's all over tv but never as bad as they tell you. that's one of the e asons. another reason, people are scared, they want to protect their property. thirdly, especially with the elderly, we have one 92-year-old woman say to us yesterday, i'm 92 years old. if i die, this is where i want to die. it's a combination of those things that make people not heed the warning. the good news is we've evacuated over a million people from the jersey shore without incident. if those people had stayed at be talking about significant d loss of life. now hopefully we're not going to be talking about that. >> governor chris christie, anks for joining us, stay safe. >> jake, thank you very much for having me. >> joining us now, fema administrator craig fugate, he's monitoring this storm from washington, d.c., mr. fugate, thanks for joining us. >> good morning. >> what is the biggest concern,
8:14 am
right now? what is the worst-case scenario you're worried about? >> still watching to see if we get a lot of flooding in new york and manhattan. the other thing i think you're seeing a lot of, as you know, power outages, across the carolinas, moving up into the new england states. >> how do you plan on dealing with worst case scenario when it comes to flooding in new york? >> i think the mayor's team did thatyou know, local officials and mayor bloomberg, ordered those evacuations, like you told people, you can not prevent damages from the storms when they come in. but we can minimize risk of lost of life and safety. then as soon as that happens, and that water movov back out, then we'll start working with the states and local officials about what kind of damages and what repairs need to take place. >> what's your advice for the people in the path of the storm and what's your advice for the people who have already born the brunt of the storm? >> pretty much the same thing to stay inside.
8:15 am
around high-rises, we're a little concerned. we don't have reports of this. but we may have an occasional window or some debris blow off. you don't want to be outside and have something like that happen. after 9 storm moves through, a lot of people want to get out and see what is going on. unless it's urgent we ask people to stay off the roads. let the power companies and emergency workers do their job. help us get power on faster. if they're not having to fight traffic with people sight-seeing. >> you've mobilized six urban search and rescue teams, have you deployed any of them yet? >> they are all in staging areas. i'll give you an example what has happened. down in north carolina, these are not federal teams. they are state and local. north carolina reporting that they have already completed 67 swift water rescues where they had to go out in boats and get people trapped or cut off by the storm. our teams were in position, we don't have any requests yet, but we are still assessing this
8:16 am
morning what kind of impacts we're having. >> you tweeted from your twitter account the category of the storm does not tell the whole story. some of our nation east worst flooding came from tropical storms. explain what you mean by that and why are you dlifing that message? >> we talked about category storm, which really refers to the wind speed of the storm. people think if it's not category 4 or 5 we won't have a lot of impact. the category of the storm doesn't have to do with rain. rain has to do with how fast the storm's moving and how big it is. a very big storm like irene, we're getting a lot of reports of heavy rain. we've already had flash flooding. again you look at the category of the storm. doesn't tell you of the hazards, rain being one. the other thing, we have reports of isolated tornadoes. we still have tornado watches in the path of that storm. you have that risk of isolated tornadoes that occur very quick. fortunately, they're small, they don't last a long time. where they hit they do damage. category doesn't tell us everything. that's why we want people to understand there are other hazards we're dealing with.
8:17 am
>> lastly, sir, you were director of florida division of emergency management from 2001 through 2009 when you got the current job. what lessons did you learn during that experience, especially during hurricane katrina about the federal response that you are looking to avoid those mistakes? >> i think the big one and this is what congress recognized, past the most katrina emergency management format, we shouldn't have to wait until the state is overwhelmed to begin getting ready. we should be able to go in before the governor has made a request, have supplies ready, have the teams in the state. request to come. damages and the so we've been working with the teams. president obama declared emergencies, in many states the governor requested as they prepare for the storm. we've learned to work as one team and not separate levels of government and put everything together early before the storm hits. >> thanks, administrator fugate. thanks so much for joining us. >> coming up next, the president tested.
8:18 am
the commander is in washington. monitoring the killer storm. the "roundtable" weighs in on leadership challenges of hurricane responses. stay with us. everertime a local business opens its doors or creates another laptop bag or hires another employee, it's not just good for business -- it's good for the entire community. at bank of america, we know the impact that local businesses have on communities, so we're helping them with advice from local business experts and extending $18 billion in credit last year. that's how we're helping set opportunity in motion.
8:19 am
what if we designed an electric motorcycle? what if we turned trash into surfboards? whatever your what if is, the new sprint biz 360 has custom solutions to make it happen, including mobile payment processing, instant hot spots, and powerful devices like the motorola photon 4g. so let's all keep asking the big what ifs. sprint business specialists can help you find the answers. sprint. america's favorite 4g network. trouble hearing on the phone? visit i cannot stress this highly enough. if you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. >> o o concern is saving lives.
8:20 am
and we've been saying this all day. the time is running out. >> if you are in an area that is a mandatory evacuation zone, you must evacuate. >> politicians not taking any chances this time. the past 24 hours have brought stern warnings, gruff admonishes and confident assurances from city, state and national leaders. haunting them all the ghost of hurricane katrina. the hurricane that exposed mismanagement and weaknesses. joining me to discuss the lessons learned, george will, cokie roberts, national journals ron brownstein and democratic strategist donna brazile. george, you think we're making too big of a deal of all of this? >> i have a home on south carolina's atlantic coast. i know the atlantic ocean generates hurricanes and they can be dangerous and unpredictable. that said, this too must be said. florence nightengale said whatever else you can say about hospitals shouldn't make their
8:21 am
hospitals sicker. and whatever you else you want to say about journalism shouldn't subtract from the nation's understanding and certainly shouldn't contribute to the manufactured hysteria that is so much a a rt of modern life, and i think we may have done so with regard to this tropical storm, as it now seems to be. >> cokie, on the other hand -- you're part of the organization save the children, and there are some big lessons that we learned as a nation especially about children after hurricane katrina. >> about children and old people, both. a lot of people that lost their lives in katrina were people in nursing homes and hospitals. they were getting worse, because they weren't getting out. what we've learned, you do have to prepare for these disasters and you have to prepare for everybody, and that means that shelters need cribs and diapers,
8:22 am
and they don't have them. ambulances need to have spaces for little children which they still don't have. and you're talking about a storm of these proportion, you really do have to take care, even if it's a tropical storm, it's enormous. it's an enormous storm that can get people out of their homes and separate families. you know, 5,000 kids were separarad from their families in katrtra and the last one wasn't reunited until six months after that storm. and, so you really have got to pay attention here. >> ron, how a leader, whether a governor like christie or a president, handles a crisis like this, really does play a huge role in how the public perceives this? >> i think that's right. there is irresistible attraction between television cameras and rain. big things with lots of colors on the map. you're right. a lot of what government does is theoretical and even abstract to most people and there are very few moments when the public gets to see an elected official, particularly an elected
8:23 am
executive official, and judge whether they can handle the material aspect of making things work. i grew up in new york city where john lindsey could not clear the streets in queens for ten days after a big snowstorm and he never really recovered. if you look at the polling, in 2005, president bush's approval rating dropped four or five points after hurricane katrina. and he never really recovered from those drops. both in terms of doing their job and guesting ready for the worst-case scenario, but politically, does make sense for the officials to be on high alert even if it's not true for our friends in the media. >> you, like cokie, are a daughter of new orleans. and you sat on the board of louisiana recovery authority after katrina. what's the most important lesson you u arned that our friends in north carolina and upward, all of the way up to massachusetts, are going to have to know? >> first of all, i think the government response has been
8:24 am
adequate. in addition to administrator fugate who i believe is a great administrator. by the way, he has over seven hurricanes under his back, inch including hurricane katrina and wilma and charlie and some of others, somef us have on a first-name basis with the hurricanes. therefore, the media attention is a reminder how serious we should take these situations. one thing i think the governors should prepare for now, once the evacuees able to return home to assess the damage, to get out front in terms of helping those who are uninsured, many people on the eastern seaboard do not have flood insurance, for example, once you start to deal with the insurance companies in terms s whether it's the wind that caused the damage versus the rain or the water. there are a lot of complicated issues. so the federal government will have to stay involved to help --
8:25 am
not only the state government, the local government but also residents who are now going to return home and find they may not have power for two or three weeks. and guess what, their roof is probably damaged by the water, not the wind. >> and the water becomes the issue. the water is what the insurance company say, i'm not doing a thing for you. but the question of the leadership is huge, though. and in president bush's case, it was surprising to me, his action, because his father's example with hurricane andrew had been such that you would think that he would, you know, understand that he needed to get out frononon katrina. but in his case, a huge part of his appeal post september 11th, was that he was keeping the country safe. and suddenly, people didn't feel safe. they were safe. they were in a dangerous situation. president obama is now in position where people are questioning his leadership.
8:26 am
we're seeing that in polls. and he's been all over this hurricane. and i think that's been very smart of him to do. now, whether that going to his advantage or not, we don't know. >> i think it's necessary and efficient. people expect the minimum based on confidence. if you fall below it, it can hurt you, but achieving it probably don't do you that much good, politically. >> but the white house clearly aware of the optics, in fact president obama went to fema himself personally yesterday. and here's he is. >> each conversation i've had with state and local officials, they've confirmed the relationship has been outstanding. interagency cooperation at the federal level has been outstanding. i have not yet heard from any of the regions, as we just listened to them. anybody is suggesting that we haven't done everything we can on this front, that's a
8:27 am
testament to the good work you've done. >> ron, when the president does something like that, how much of that is reassuring the public, doing his job, and how much is i really need to do this to protect my leadership to help my career? >> katrina is a turning point. every executive, every governor, every mayor has to be seen as being in control. that's a searing moment. >> we'll see him flying over the flood soon. >> that's your job. you're president. fema has generally gotten good mash on the tornado in joplin, local officials have given a positive reviews. it is expected. this is what you do. some of what we do in washington is about the debate. it's about the ideology. every once in a while, we have to run something. military has to run something, fema has to run something. and people expect that. as i say, it's not sufficient to see you as a strong leader. if you fail on that test, it can hurt you. >> the president, this president is captive of a superstition he didn't invent but has made perhaps even worse. that is the cult of the modern presidency.
8:28 am
the belief that the president is central, is all powerful. this is, after all, the man who, on june 2008, the night he clenched the democratic primary, said people note this is the moment when the rise of the oceans begin to slow. oh, goodness gracious, if the man can control the oceans, this should be a piece of cake. >> we want global warming -- >> secretary napolitano was on the phone with governors along the eastern seaboard. administrator fugate, they got ahead of this storm. they also had a earthquake this week. people are still laughing at us about that. they will anticipate all of that. but the fafa is the administration was on top of the federal agencies, cabinet secretaries, the p psident was basically communicating with the governors to declare state of emergencies, which allow these governors to have the resources and supplies they needed ahead of time. we didn't have that during katrina. >> fugate said that. >> how about a piece of legislation.
8:29 am
that was something -- >> getting fema prepared ahead of time. i want to talk about the polls you referred to a second ago about the president's leadership skills eroding. the pew research center poll shows percentage of americans say he's able to get things done has gone down. from may -- it was 55%, august, 44%. the percentage of americans who say he's a strong leader has gone down, and may it was 58%, august 49%. we have a minute left here. what is going on? is that this phenomenon that's going on? >> it's hard to look like a leader when you look like alibi ike. the character from a short story. he wasn't a good baseball player but it was never his fault. this president blamed george w. bush, the japanese tsunami, the euro, greece, the tea party and republicans and ultimately james
8:30 am
madison for giving us separation of powers that does not reflect leadership. >> george was in rare form. i thought you were going to mention the media, you forgot that. truth is the president slipped in large part because he's lost some democrats. look at polls, he's lost five points among democrats, one point with independents and two with republicans. it's clear the president needs to assert himself especially when republicans come back to deal with the jobs creation and super committee. >> that's the place where the hurricane actually hurt him this weekend. they were supposed to have him. they should make note of the opening and formal dedication of e martin luther king memorial on the mall, which is a wonderful moment in history. and would have been a great moment for the president in his shoring up his democrats. >> all right, we have to lever it there. up next, journey to the eye of the storm. matt gutman is on the road with
8:31 am
hurricane chasers and the hunt for moammar gadhafi. still on the loose as the rebels close in. stay with us. e e the kincaids live here. across the street, the padillas. ben and his family live here, too. ben's a re/max agent, and he's a big part of this community. there are lots of reasons why re/max agents average more sales than other agents.
8:32 am
experience, certainly. but maybe it's also because they care about the markets they serve and the neighbors who rely on them. nobody sells more real estate than re/max. visit today.
8:33 am
abc's matt gutman riding out the storm in north carolina. right now the storm is working its way up the coast. pummeling new york and new jersey leaving a path of destruction in its wake. matt gutman weathered the winds in nags head, north h carolina,e joins me now. matt, welcome, i hope you've recovered since then. you were out with the storm chasers yesterday. who are these guys and what did you experience? >> jake, these guys are kind of the indiana jones of meteorology, could you say. they spend 200 days a year bombing around the country, chasing tornados and hurricanes, going inside their eye walls to figure out how they are formed and feed information to the weather service and residents to try to protect them. i think it's a disservice to say a big part whatever they do is
8:34 am
>> the eye is just far. >> we are just to the west -- not quite like this.y earlier. >> the wind is so intense, you can't even stand up straight. that is the eye of hurricane irene. it's coming this way. right over this bridge. you can actually see the eye wall right over there. dark, gray clouds, and you can feel -- you know it's coming, because this wind is so intense, the rain coming down so very hard -- to get there, we had to ride in what reed calls the dominator, a mini tank. fast heaving seas, desolate roads, even through a white-out from sand. out on the bridge, the eyewall
8:35 am
crept closer. >> hey, reed, have you ever been in a hurricane inside an eye wall? >> this is the strongest wind i've ever experienced. >> reporter: it's not all about the adrenaline. >> shows you how powerful it can be, even a category 1 storm like that. >> reporter: jake, a little caveat, these guys are professional, they do this for a living. they have all of the proper equipment. it's also fun. it's adrenaline. there's a lot of damage caused by the storms. right here, we are in a driveway that used to be just gravel. now, it is filled by a foot of muck and reed. all of the wave runners were in that building behind me. i want to show you something. we'll go out to the street. we'll show you pictures how clogged these roads. people getting out of here. 200,000 residents trying to leave this area all at once. now traffic starting to come back, jake. >> just because the storm is
8:36 am
>> matt gutton, thanks. the danger is still there. lee goldberg joins me with the latest on the storm. where sit now? >> i just found out it's about 10 mills from my house. it's west of danbury, connecticut. >> it's been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm. >> it hit coney island officially as a tropical storm. it's holding unto its structure because it's so huge. you have radar and satellites showing it go to maine, canada. you have heavy rains. it it's going to the bahamas to
8:37 am
vermont. >> what to expect in the next 24 hours? >> the rain in up state new york, new england. and the after math, flooding, river flooding in the northeast. >> all right, lee goldberg, thanks so much and we'll be right back. ♪ [ male announcer ] how could switchgrass in argentina, change engineering in dubai,
8:38 am
aluminum production in south africa, and the aerospace industry in the u.s.? at t. rowe price, we understand the connections of a complex, global economy. it's just one reason over 75% of our mutual funds beat their 10-year lipper average. t. rowe price. invest with confidence. request a prospectus or summary prospectus with investment informationon risks, fees and expenses to read and consider carefully before investing. libya this morning is in the midst of historic transformation, but the strong man who ruled the country remains on the run. moammar gadhafi is still in libya but will not say where. gadhafi's now offering to negotiate with the rebels to form a transitional government. he's appointed his son to head up those talks but seeps like the rebels already proceeding with their own transition and moving to restore order and basic services to tripoli. how will this play out? joining me, george will, rajiv
8:39 am
chandrasekaran. of "the washington post." robin wright. author of "rock the casbah: rage and rebellion across the islamic world" and robert kagan from the brookings institute. thanks for being here. george, can we say that the libyan operation -- i forget what it was called. on ration new dawn is a success? >> it's successful of iraq was in may 2003. now let's see what happens. when the caldron -- the lilicame off the caldron of yugoslavia, when the lid came off the caldron in iraq we saw the same thing. edmund burke said before we congratulate people on their freedom. we should see what use they make of it. so let's see and wish h em well, but see what they do and what is now the residue of a civil war on a tribal society. >> do you share mr. will's
8:40 am
skepticism, rajiv. >> yes, the real story is yet to come. the libyan operation is a different model of seeking regime change on the part of the u.s. governmenen one far more multinational that involved some of our european allies in a more dominant position in the air campaign, although the u.s.srole was incredibly significant in getting us to where we are. but, what comes next, and in this new model here, where we -- you know, we didn't put boots on the ground to force a regime change, how now do we help to birth this new nation over there? tripoli is in the throes of a power shortage. there's no clean water. there's revenge killing, thehe's a lot of instability. the rebels need to stand up a police force. they need to restore basic order. what model does the obama administration start to draw from in trying to provide that
8:41 am
support and how do we harness the nato allies to come together to provide what's necessary to make this happen in a way that avoids the problems that we started to see in iraq in 2003 and 2004 and over the years in afghanistan? >> how important is it for the national transitional council to get from benghazi to tripoli. >> it's important to transform the power seated in benghazi into tripoli and take over control which is now dominated by a group of very diverse malitias which don't have a common agenda. there are 140 tribes and clans in libya. 30 of which are important. the rivalries that play out on the ground have tremendous potential to derail the process. so that they need to get there. they have taken some important steps. in the last two days, transitional national council has expand from 40 to 80. they announced who their members
8:42 am
are. they said they want to be inclusive. this is not benghazi. this is a country that's historically been divided between the western part, dominated by tripoli, and the eastern part in benghazi an the danger is, the older visions re-emerge and they need to speak as one voice. they need to collaborate with the international community. not so much i think in terms of what models the west helps create. they've got ideas themselves about writing a constitution and electoral process. it's reconstructing the country. 30% unemployment before this rebellion started and they have enormous economic problems to face now. >> we're in what you called the "what if everything goes wrong" phase of libya. but before we fully embrace our inner fear what could happen, this was a huge accomplishment. >> i think it was. george will and edmund burke are both right. it matters what happens next. i think what we've seen is significant already. and with a lot of difficulties ahead, but the fact that yet another long-serving arab
8:43 am
dictator has been toppled, this is now four major arab dictators who pretty much defined the region for the last 40 years. i think shows that the ongoing movement of the arab spring is in fact heading forward and it was critical to defeat gadhafi in this condition. had he not been defeated, had he carried out his threat to exterminate the opposition and civilians in benghazi, i think the effect on the rest of the region wouldldave been terrible. now, this ups the pressure on bashar assad. the odds that assad -- take a bet when assad falls, i think they're much higher, we hate uncertainty. we want to plan everything. i don't think we can possibly look at these developments and not see that by and large, they are a positive progression in the region from where it's been for these past decades. >> speaking of assad, i want to turn to former vice president dick cheney's new memoir which comes out this week.
8:44 am
drips and grabs have been coming out. and in thehene section, the vice president describes how he advocated the u.s. take action against syrian threat. i made the indication for u.s. military action against the reactor. after i finished, the president asked, does anyone here agree with the vice president? not a single hand went up around the room. george, you feel this memoir has one garing omission. >> 565 pages and a simple apology would have been in order in some of them which is to say, the great fact of those eight years was, we went to war, big war, costly war under false pretenses, and to write a memoir in which you say essentially nothing seriously went wrong, if i wrote a memoir in my last week, i would have things to apologize for. >> we're running dangerously low on time. it's remarkable that the vice president in 2007 was alone in that room and nobody joined him to raise his hand. >> it shows the degree to which he really -- his star descended
8:45 am
and those, condoleezza rice and others were far more influential in the foreign policy sphere in those last years, two pages to george's point. according to the reports, two pages in that book were devoted to the reconstruction and post-war failings in iraq. >> robin, we only have 45 seconds. you broke the e ory about the israelis bombing that reactor. what struck you when you heard the vice president was trying to take the lead on that? >> first thing, the united states had doubts originally about the intelligence and concerned whether this was a reactor and went back to the israelis and said give us more. the president not only put cheney off but was saying, let's take, particularly after our experience in iraq and elsewhere, let's take a more thoughtful reason and time to figure out what needs to be done and israelis did it themselves. >> 15 seconds, final thought? >> final thought, it was good to take a syrian reactor whoever and wherever it was done. the fact cheney was isolated
8:46 am
gives you the state of the bush administration. >> we'll have more in the green room. up next we'll take you to new york's island as irene continues up the east coast. all from the latest on the monster storm. when we return, stay with us. ♪ [ jim ] i need to push out a software upgrade. build a new app for the sales team in beijing. and convince the c.e.o. his email will find him... wherever he is. i need to see my y mily while they're still awake. [ male announcer ] with global services from dell, jim can address his company's i.t. needs through custom built applications, cloud solutions and ongoing support in over 100 countries. so his company sees results. and jim sees his family. dell. the power to do more.
8:47 am
welcome back as new york city faces down the wrath of hurricane irene, the beaches of long island are grappling with the storm surge. abc's john berman joins us from montauk. it's been decades since the region faced a storm like this. local officials don't seem to be mincing their words in the warnings to residents, are they? >> reporter: no, jake, not at all. they called for 400,000 mandatory evacuations from long island. most people did heed those warnings, but in some towns, police tried to scare them a little bit. police saying, okay, if you don't evacuate, do this. write your name and serial number on your arm, so we can identify you after you're stuck
8:48 am
in your home when the flooding comes. >> name and social security number. >> john, you've been watching these waves rise and fall all morning. how bad have they gotten? >> reporter: bad. this sea behind me, someone commented it looks like a snow capped mountain range. the surf is pounding all-inspiring surf. earlier this morning, last night i was down by that fence, about 30 feet out. as the morning has come on, i've had to come in further and further. the storm surge pushed us further, higher than the normal high tide and the storm surge is the concern on this part of long island. so much of the area at sea level. ififhe sea rises a certain amount, there is some concern that it could be cut off from the rest of the island, jake. >> john, quickly, are you getting a sense that people are heeding the warnings? >> reporter: i'm sorry, i lost you, jake. i apologize. >> do you get the sense people
8:49 am
are heeding the warning, very quickly, if you would? all right. sounds like john berman, we've lost audio connection with him, as is not unexpected during a hurricane. coming up we'll have an update from lower manhattan where flooding could create nightmare conditions. a special edition of "this week" continues in just a moment. stay with us. a living, breathing intelligence that's helping drive the future of business. in here, inventory can be taught to learn. ♪ machines have a voice. ♪ medical history follows you. it's the at&t network -- a network of possibilities... committed to delivering the most advanced mobile broadband expxpience to help move business.... forward. ♪
8:50 am
now, "in memoriam" -- ♪ ♪ solid as a rock >> struck him out!
8:51 am
♪ ♪ i won't cry ♪ i won't cry ♪ no i won't shed a tear ♪ just as long as you stand by me ♪ >> this week, the pentagon released the names of four soldiers killed in afghanistan. we'll be right back with the latest on hurricane irene as she barrels down on new york city. abc's sam champion coming up next.
8:52 am
66% of new products have some kind of intelligence built in... refrigerators order groceries from the store. washing machines run when energy prices are lowest... and dryers call for service before they break down. air conditioners respond to local weather reports. software gives businesses new ways to connect to customers. by making things smarter, life gets better. that's what i'm working on. i'm an ibmer. i'm an ibmer. i'm an ibmer. let's build a smarter planet.
8:53 am
irene is already having a real impact on new york city, the largest metropolitan center in the country has been in overdrive. preparing for this storm. abc weather specialist sam
8:54 am
champion is standing by in battery park. sam, we're already seeing flooding in lower manhattan. that's been a big concern, right? >> that's right. winds as well. but the winds in the leading edge of the storm weren't quite as strong as they are now as the center of the storm rolled past this. the flooding continued in the next couple of hours. we hit a high tide circle at about 8:00. we had reports of flooding in battery park n the lower east side. there's been reports from a 31-story building that had 15 feet of water on the inside of it. they were concerned what that might lead to. they pump thad water out. we've also heard reports part of the fdr was shut down. when i say fdr, i say it like someone who lives in new york. it's a major artery along the east side of manhattan where the bulk of the traffic will travel to get around the island of manhattan. a lot of that is shut down, because it sits right on the east river and there's flooding there as well.
8:55 am
if the wind and rain is the end of irene, this is how it all started. overnight, the city that never sleeps battens down the hatches. nearly 400,000 people were evacuated from parts of manhattan, brooklyn and the rock aways. they are the lowest part along the city's waterways. for the first time ever, a massive storm forced the shuttering of everything that makes new york new york. while the lights of broadw stayed on, for the first time in years, the 8:00 p.m. show did not go on as theater doors closed. >> con ed will be forced to shut down parts of the grid if the flooding is severe. >> reporter: in lower manhattan, the threat of massive power outages. 10:30 mayor bloomberg told residents it was too late to leave. >> the time for evacuation is over. >> reporter: it's almost midnight and some of the steadier rain bands are making their way into lower manhattan. we'll check new york harbor not much in the way of wave action
8:56 am
and hurricane irene's outer bands steadily closed in. at 3:45, tornado warnings were issued in the new york city area. it's about 4:30 and irene is still 100 miles away from the tip of new york. the rain picked up considerably and so has the wind. gusts at 60 miles an hour, as far as the water, look how high the water is and low tide was a few moments ago. and we're standing in lower manhattan now, jake, i got to tell you, i'm giving you the look of a nervous cat. we've got scaffolding around us. these are the strongest winds we've seen since about 4:00 this morning and this is after the center of the storm, what was left of the eye. so the very center of this storm when it opened up, has already cleared this area. this is a rush of wind that comes in behind it. let me show you something that will happen over the next couple of days that will be one of the longest laststg impacts of the storm and certainly new england. our latest radar shots will show you, if you look at areas of gold, in some cases, these are
8:57 am
the heaviest cases of rain, these are showers that have spun where thth started out inland areas of pennsylvania. new jersey, upstate new york, connecticut, massachusetts, vermont, new hampshire and into maine as well, rhode island is involved in some of this. these rains coming on ground already saturated. we may have talked about it a little bit but let's touch on it again. the normal rainfall in this area is about 4 inches in august, they've had 12 inches of rain and now in many places, they're getting an additional 6 to 12 inches of rain from this storm. that's guaranteed flooding. we know at least 37 river gauges in the northeast will be in major flooding by the time we get into the next two days from now. that's going to be a real issue there. the winds will continue to be an issue as well. because as we're seeing right now, what comes after the center of irene moves through is a very powerful hit of dry wind. this is wind capable of doing some serious damage, jake.
8:58 am
>> all right, sam. at's the concern right now, is that things will get worse before they get better. we appreciate your reporting from battery park. that's our program this week. be sure to watch a special edition of "world news" with diane sawyer. tonight for all of the latest on hurricane irene, and remember, you can follow us any time on twitter, facebook or for all of us in washington, thanks for watching. we'll see you next week.
8:59 am
in the news this sunday, hurricane irene makes landfall in the northeast. a fire damages a san francisco high school campus..............