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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  May 14, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT

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captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. >> i believe that americans should be deeply skeptical of government power. you cannot trust people in power. the founders knew that. that's why they divided power among three branches, to set interest against interest. >> that's recently-fired director of the f.b.i. james comey. "60 minutes" was his first major tv interview, and with this week's news, it's worth hearing again. >> it is very highly produced. >> documents recovered from bin laden's hideout in pakistan reveal a mysterious and menacing new figure in al qaeda. he's youthful, angry and he's osama's son. now believed to be about 28, intelligence analysts are paying close attention to his recorded
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messages. (speaking arabic) >> he's basically saying, "america and american people, we're coming, and you're going to feel it." he wants to avenge his dad. >> here's what landing on mars looked like. and the reaction at mission control. >> touchdown confirmed. ( cheering ) >> ever since the landing, the rover named "curiosity" has been sending back stunning pictures of the martian surface, joining a fleet of satellites and rovers taking pictures of giant craters; wind-carved ridges; an avalanche of sand pouring down a mountain. tonight, the latest from mars. >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bill whitaker. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm holly williams. >> i'm scott pelley.
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i'm karen, i'm a teacher.olfer. my psoriatic arthritis caused joint pain. just like my moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. and i was worried about joint damage. my doctor said joint pain from ra can be a sign of existing joint damage that could only get worse. he prescribed enbrel to help relieve pain and help stop further damage. enbrel may lower your ability to fight infections. serious, sometimes fatal, events including infections, tuberculosis, lymphoma, other cancers, nervous system and blood disorders, and allergic reactions have occurred. tell your doctor if you've been someplace where fungal infections are common, or if you're prone to infections,
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have cuts or sores, have had hepatitis b, have been treated for heart failure, or if you have persistent fever, bruising, bleeding, or paleness. don't start enbrel if you have an infection like the flu. joint pain and damage... can go side by side. ask how enbrel can help relieve joint pain and help stop joint damage. enbrel, fda approved for 18 years. >> pelley: this past week, the president decided to fire the director of the f.b.i. just as james comey was leading the investigation into whether associates of president trump colluded with russia to tip the election. comey, known for his integrity, angered both parties. democrats say he cost hillary clinton the presidency when he announced just before election day that the f.b.i. was investigating whether she mishandled classified information in newly discovered
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e-mails. last monday, president trump called the russia investigation a "taxpayer-funded charade." the next day, mr. trump's justice department recommended that comey be fired. james comey gave us his first in-depth interview as director in 2014. he was one year into a ten-year term, and donald trump had not yet announced his candidacy. but even back then, the concerns on comey's mind were what america is debating today. >> james comey: i believe that americans should be deeply skeptical of government power. you cannot trust people in power. the founders knew that. that's why they divided power among three branches, to set interest against interest. >> pelley: with regard to privacy and civil liberties, what guarantee are you willing to give to the american people? >> comey: the promise i've tried to honor my entire career-- that the rule of law and the design
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of the founders, right, the oversight of courts and the oversight of congress will be at the heart of what the f.b.i. does, the way you'd want it to be. >> pelley: does the f.b.i. gather electronic surveillance that is then passed to the national security agency? >> comey: that's one of those things i don't know whether i setting, so i... i better not start to go down that road with you. >> pelley: you have said, "we shouldn't be doing anything that we can't explain." but these programs are top secret. the american people can't see them and you can't explain them. >> comey: right. we can't explain everything to everybody, or the bad guys will find out what our capabilities are, both nations and individuals. what i mean is i need to be able to explain it either directly to the american people or to their elected representatives, which we do extensively with congress. >> pelley: there is no surveillance without court order? >> comey: by the f.b.i.? no. we don't do electronic
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surveillance without a court order. >> pelley: you know that some people are going to roll their eyes when they hear that? >> comey: yeah, but we cannot read your emails or listen to your calls without going to a federal judge, making a showing of probable cause that you are a terrorist, an agent of a foreign power, or a serious criminal of some sort, and get permission for a limited period of time to intercept those communications. it is an extremely burdensome process, and i like it that way. >> pelley: that's a principle over which james comey is willing to sacrifice his career. he proved it in 2004 when he was deputy attorney general. comey was asked to reauthorize a package of top secret warrantless surveillance targeting foreign terrorists. but comey told us "significant aspects" of the massive program were not lawful. he wouldn't be specific because it's still top secret. this was not something you were willing to stand for? >> comey: no, i was the deputy attorney general of the united states.
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we were not going to authorize, reauthorize, or participate in activities that did not have a lawful basis. >> pelley: at the time, comey was in charge at the justice department because attorney general john ashcroft was in intensive care with near-fatal pancreatitis. when comey refused to sign off, the president's chief of staff, andy card, headed to the hospital to get ashcroft's okay. you got in a car with lights and sirens and raced to the hospital to beat the president's chief of staff there? >> comey: yep, raced over there, ran up the stairs, got there first. >> pelley: what did you tell the attorney general, lying in his hospital bed? >> comey: not much, because he was very, very bad off. i tried to see whether he was oriented as to place and time, and it was clear to me that he wasn't. i tried to have him understand what this was about. and it wasn't clear to me that he understood what i was saying, so i sat down to wait. >> pelley: to wait for andy card, the president's chief of staff?
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>> comey: yeah, and then-white house counsel gonzales. >> pelley: they spoke to attorney general ashcroft and said that the program should be reauthorized, and you were there to argue that it should not be. how did it end? >> comey: with the attorney general surprising me, shocking me by pushing himself up on his elbows, and, in very strong terms, articulating the merits of the matter. and then saying, "but... but that doesn't matter because i'm not the attorney general." and then, he turned to me and pointed and said, "there's the attorney general." and then he fell back, and they turned and left. >> pelley: you'd won the day? >> comey: yeah, i didn't feel that way. >> pelley: how did you feel? >> comey: probably a little sick, and a little sense of unreality that this was happening. >> pelley: the next day, some in the white house tried to force the authorization through a different way, so comey wrote a letter of resignation to the
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president, calling the situation "apocalyptic" and "fundamentally wrong." he left the letter on his desk, and he and f.b.i. director robert mueller went to the white house to resign. >> comey: yeah. we stood there together, waiting to go meet the president, looking out at the rose garden, both of us knowing this was our last time there and the end of our government careers. >> pelley: wasn't it your responsibility to support the president? >> comey: no. no, my responsibility, i took an oath to support and defend the constitution of the united states. >> pelley: this was something the president wanted to go forward with. and you were standing in front of the president of the united states telling him he shouldn't do it, and if he did, you'd quit. do i have that right? >> comey: i don't think i expressly threatened to quit at any point. but that was understood. >> pelley: president bush was persuaded. the program that we've discussed, as i understand it, was in fact re-authorized, but in a modified form? it was made to conform to the law, in your estimation?
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>> comey: yes. >> pelley: help me understand the principle at stake here that caused you to write a letter of resignation, to rush to the attorney general's bedside, to tell the president that he couldn't have what he wanted, and to face down the president's chief of staff. what was it that motivated that? >> comey: the rule of law. simple as that. >> pelley: he's been a federal prosecutor most of his career. in 2003, president bush appointed him deputy attorney general, number two at the justice department. but after two years, he left for private industry, telling his wife that it was her turn to do what she wanted. then, the phone rang. >> comey: the attorney general called and asked me if i was willing to be interviewed for fbi director. and the truth is, i told him i didn't think so, that i thought it was too much for my family; but that i would sleep on it and
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call him back in the morning. and so, i went to bed that night convinced i was going to call him back and say no. >> pelley: what happened? >> comey: i woke up, and my amazing wife was gone. and i found her down in the kitchen on the computer, looking at homes in the d.c. area, which was a clue. and she said, "i've known you since you were 19. this is who you are. this is what you love. you've got to say yes." and then, she paused and said, "but they're not going to pick you anyway, so just go down there and do you best. and then we'll have no regrets." >> pelley: at least you would have tried. >> comey: right. >> pelley: so, you met with the president. >> comey: i did. >> pelley: what happened? >> comey: had to give my wife some bad news, that her confidence in them not picking me was misplaced. >> pelley: what did the president say about what goes through his mind when picking an f.b.i. director? >> comey: the president's view is that it's... has to be someone who is competent and independent to protect this institution. >> pelley: you say that the president wanted independence from his f.b.i. director, but the justice department answers to the president.
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>> comey: it does, but it has to maintain a sense of independence from the political forces-- i don't mean that as... as a pejorative term-- but the political forces in the executive branch. and that's why the director is given a ten-year term, so that it is guaranteed that you'll spend presidential administrations to make sure that you're leading it in a way that's not... that's not influenced by the political winds. >> pelley: we talked with comey, who is 6'8", at his headquarters in washington. in technology, the cutting edge cuts both ways, and coto us he's worried now that apple and google have the power to upend the rule of law. until now, a judge could order those companies to unlock a criminal suspect's phone. but their new software makes it impossible for them to crack a code set by the user. >> comey: the notion that we would market devices that would allow someone to place themselves beyond the law troubles me a lot.
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as a country, i don't know why we would want to put people beyond the law-- that is, sell cars with trunks that couldn't ever be opened by law enforcement with a court order, or sell an apartment that could never be entered, even by law enforcement. would you want to live in that neighborhood? this is a similar concern. the notion that people have devices, again, that, with court orders based on a showing of probable cause in a case involving kidnapping or child exploitation or terrorism, we could never open that phone? my sense is that we've gone too far when we've gone there. >> pelley: the f.b.i. is spending a lot of its time online these days. this is a new cyber-crime headquarters that the public hasn't seen before. we agreed to keep the location secret. they call it "cy-watch," and it pulls in resources from the c.i.a., n.s.a., and others. comey's agents are running down leads in the theft of government data. often in cases like that, the suspects are overseas. so the trouble is, in
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cyberspace, where do you put the handcuffs? >> comey: it's too easy for those criminals to think that "i can sit in my basement halfway around the world and steal everything that matters to an american. and it's a freebie, because i'm so far away." >> pelley: a lot of those people are operating in countries where they're not going to be given up to the united states-- russia, china, elsewhere. >> comey: yep, a challenge that we face, so we try to approach that two ways. one, work with all foreign nations to try and have them understand that it's in nobody's interest to have criminal thugs in your country, and second, again, to look to lay hands on them if they leave those safe havens to impose a real cost on them. we want them looking over their shoulders when they're sitting at the keyboard. >> pelley: when the phone rings in the middle of the night, which i'm sure it does, what's your first thought? >> comey: something has blown up. yeah. >> pelley: it's terrorism that concerns you the most, even after all we said about cyber- crime.
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>> comey: yeah, i think that's right, because it's terrorism that can have the most horrific, immediate impact on innocent people. >> pelley: james comey has kept a memo on his desk to remind him of unchecked government power. marked "secret," it's a 1963 request from f.b.i. director j. edgar hoover titled: "martin luther king, jr. security matter - communist." hoover requests authority for "technical surveillance" of king. the approval is signed by attorney general robert kennedy. and there was no court order. it was the signature of the f.b.i. director and the signature of the attorney general? >> comey: yep. and then, open-ended-- no time limit, no space restriction, no review, no oversight. >> pelley: and given the threats in the world today, wouldn't that make your job so much easier? >> comey: in a sense, but in... also in a sense, we would give up so much that makes sure that we're rooted in the rule of law that i'd never want to make that trade.
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>> pelley: some of the worst of the f.b.i.'s history is in its investigation of dr. king. so, on comey's orders, f.b.i. academy instructors now bring new agents here to talk about values lost in the pursuit of the man who became a monument. >> character, courage, collaboration, competence. we have to be able to call on those tools in our toolbox to be able to make sure that we are correcting some of the things that happened in the past. >> pelley: what's the lesson? >> comey: the lesson is the importance of never becoming untethered to oversight and accountability. i want all of my new special agents and intelligence analysts to understand that portion of the f.b.i.'s history, the f.b.i.'s interaction with dr. king, and draw from it an understanding of the dangers of falling in love with our own rectitude. and the importance of bein immersed in that design of the founders with oversight by the courts and congress so that we
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don't fall in love with our own view of things. >> cbs money watch update sponsored by lincoln financial, you're in charge. >> quijano: good evening. a new study shows the average starting salary for 2017 college graduates is just under $50,000 a year. wal-mart and target report earnings this week. and americans are expected to spend a record $23.6 billion on mother's day. i'm elaine quijano, cbs news.
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seemed as if the united states had the upper hand in the fight against al qaeda. but while the u.s. has decimated its leadership with targeted strikes, there are new concerns that al qaeda has continued to grow and get stronger. ali soufan, who was the f.b.i.'s lead investigator of al qaeda after the 9/11 attacks, has spent the last two years analyzing an unprecedented cache of documents seized in bin laden's compound-- a treasure trove, in the words of the u.s. government, including the personal correspondence of osama bin laden, al qaeda's dangerous new strategy, and the story of a new bin laden waiting in the wings. >> soufan: osama bin laden was not just, you know, sitting in his house trying to avoid being captured or killed. he was, in some instance, micromanaging al qaeda and its affiliates. >> williams: micromanaging? >> soufan: yeah, micromanaging. you know, "you can plant this crops and this crops.
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it's very good. oh, and by the way, you know, stop beheading people and cutting heads. that makes me look bad. you know, i have a brand to protect." >> williams: that's ali soufan's interpretation of some of the documents seized from bin laden's hideout in pakistan, showing him running al qaeda like a corporate c.e.o., worried about the reputation of his brand. deciphering the inner workings of al qaeda has been a life's work for soufan. a muslim american who was born in lebanon, he was the only arabic-speaking f.b.i. agent based in new york on 9/11. he now advises the united states government on national security issues and has written a new book, "anatomy of terror." i mean, how useful are they? do they tell you where al qaeda's next attack is going to be? >> soufan: they won't tell you where al qaeda's next attack is going to be, but it gives you a kind of window of the internal dynamics of the organization.
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>> williams: the declassified documents include osama bin laden's handwritten will with instructions that holdings of" about $29 million" should be spent on "fighting in the cause of allah," orders to militants to travel on cloudy days to avoid drone strikes, and al qaeda directives that future attacks should not be wasted on the british but instead" concentrate on america" and" not be limited to blowing up airplanes." ali soufan says some of the most significant documents shed light on a mysterious and menacing new figure in al qaeda who may be poised to become leader. he's youthful, angry and named bin laden: hamza bin laden, the son of osama. seen here as a young boy, he was separated from his father when he went into hiding not long after 9/11. >> soufan: this is a letter from hamza bin laden to his father.
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>> williams: and he hasn't seen his father for several years. >> soufan: eight years, and he didn't see his dad. and he's basically just telling him, you know, how much he misses him. he tells him that, you know, "i remember every... every look you looked at me, every smile you gave me, every word you told me." >> williams: the letter, written when hamza was around 22 years old, also reveals a son eager to follow in his father's footsteps." i consider myself to be forged in steel," he writes." the path of jihad for the sake of god is what we live." before these documents were obtained, almost nothing was known about hamza bin laden. the few photographs and videos that do exist show him as a child, mostly featured in al qaeda propaganda. >> soufan: he was that kid exhibited leadership skills early on.
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>> williams: so, he was a kind of al qaeda child star. is that right? >> soufan: yeah. in a way, he was a poster kid for al qaeda. they featured him in so many of their propaganda. and for members of al qaeda who were indoctrinated with these propaganda videos, he means a lot to them. >> williams: now believed to be about 28 years old, in january, he was classified by the u.s. as a "specially designated global terrorist," the same label once given to his father. since there are no known photos of hamza as an adult, we asked a forensic artist to create this age progression illustration to give us an idea of what hamza bin laden might look like today. does hamza resemble his father? >> soufan: we believe so. >> williams: does he also sound like him? >> soufan: well, interestingly enough, his recent message that came out, he delivered the speech as if it's his father delivering the speech, using sentences, terminology that was
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used by osama bin laden. >> williams: hamza bin laden has recorded four audio messages, all in the last two years. ali soufan believes the similarities with his famously charismatic father could help hamza unite and inspire the jihadi movement. >> soufan: he's basically saying, "america and american people, we're coming, and you're going to feel it. and we're going to take revenge for what you did to my father. we're going to revenge what you did in iraq. we're going to revenge what you did in afghanistan." >> williams: he still wants vengeance? >> soufan: oh, absolutely. the whole thing was about vengeance. he wants to avenge his dad. >> williams: after 9/11, to avoid being captured or killed, hamza fled to iran with his mother and three of bin laden's top lieutenants. ali soufan believes these men were responsible for educating
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hamza in extremist islam and military tactics. >> soufan: he was educated by some of the founding members of al qaeda. he was educated by people who masterminded the east african embassy bombing, the u.s.s "cole," by people who basically secured al qaeda from the day it started until 9/11. and they were preparing him to be the leader. >> williams: you think they were consciously grooming him to be a future leader of al qaeda? >> soufan: i believe so. and also hamza himself basically told his father, "i am ready. i am forged of steel now. i'm ready to go." >> williams: osama bin laden was killed before he could be reunited with his son, who ali soufan believes is now hiding somewhere in pakistan. unraveling the secret world of the bin ladens, soufan says, is crucial to stopping another attack like 9/11. someone who knows you told me
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that you actually feel a sense of responsibility for what happened. >> soufan: you know, in a way, it's hard not to. it's hard not to. it won't be honest to say that, you know, i don't feel a sense of responsibility that this thing could have been stopped. >> williams: but no one in their right mind would hold you responsible for that. >> soufan: that's true. but you know what? we were involved in an investigation. we had all the information at our fingertips. >> williams: you were so close? >> soufan: it does not matter how close we were. it happened. we failed. 3,000 people died. the world is very different today because of our failure. >> williams: you've said that you felt a kind of dread before 9/11. >> soufan: yes. >> williams: do you feel that same kind of dread today about the threat from al qaeda? >> soufan: absolutely. i mean, look, you know, if you look at 9/11, al qaeda had only about 400 members, and they were based in afghanistan.
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if you look at al qaeda today, they have thousands and thousands of members all over the middle east. >> williams: al qaeda now has footholds in around a dozen countries throughout the middle east, africa and into south asia. in syria alone, it's estimated to have up to 20,000 followers. al qaeda in the islamic maghreb operates across the sahara desert, taking foreigners hostage and attacking hotels used by westerners. these regional groups are known as affiliates, with local leaders who have publicly sworn allegiance to al qaeda's central command. >> soufan: al qaeda is stronger than ever. i don't believe even bin laden in his wildest dreams thought that he will have followers who command armies, troops, control lands, are extremely powerful geopolitical players as al qaeda today.
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>> williams: al qaeda owes much of its growth to the arab spring, a series of uprisings starting in 2010 that toppled dictators and sparked civil wars. from his hideout in pakistan, osama bin laden anticipated the power vacuum that would result and the opportunity to expand al qaeda's reach. this order to his commanders tells them to "support the people and encourage their rebellion." the strategy has paid off in the chaos of syria's civil war, where al qaeda's affiliate has seized control of entire towns and villages, though it now calls itself hay'at tahrir al- sham. >> williams: osama bin laden from his hideout was telling all of these local affiliates, "don't call yourselves al qaeda." >> soufan: uh-huh. >> williams: why not? >> soufan: because he believed that the moment that they say the name "al qaeda," the united
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states, the west, the local regimes will use it against them and people won't listen to the message; they just listen to the fact that they are al qaeda. so, each one of the affiliates we start seeing calling themselves a totally different name that al qaeda is not even part of the sentence. >> williams: so, they were rebranding themselves? >> soufan: yes. >> williams: al qaeda is a strategic and innovative enemy; the most dangerous kind, according to john miller, head of counterterrorism and intelligence for the new york city police department. he and ali soufan have known each other for 15 years. miller says soufan helps him get inside the mind of al qaeda. are we safer now than we were at the time of 9/11, do you think? >> miller: yes, exponentially so, because we have improved intelligence and improved collection. but remember, as we grow and we learn, the adversary grows and learns, too. >> williams: john miller is also a former journalist and cbs news
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correspondent, one of the few westerners to have interviewed osama bin laden. >> miller: the mistake that we risk making is to look back on 9/11 as a singular event and say, "well, al qaeda was a one- attack-wonder, and since then they've been falling apart." al qaeda has sustained itself in the shadows. and while other groups are getting more attention, they're getting bigger, and they're patient. >> williams: what is the fear when it comes to hamza? is it that he helps recruit and radicalize young men? >> miller: the base fear is: a, that as he does more recordings and more messages, that he gets better at it; and b, that he is... he is targeting a younger audience. and if you have a young figure with bin laden as that brand name who becomes an effective communicator, that's a bad thing. >> soufan: well, we killed osama bin laden, but his message
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lives. >> williams: his message lives, and now there's a new messenger? >> soufan: yeah. >> williams: his young, charismatic son? >> soufan: yeah. i think we're not done with the bin ladens yet. >> this cbs sports update is presented by the lincoln motor company. hello, everyone. i'm adam zuker in our new york studio. today in sports golden state erased a 25-point deficit to beat san antonio in game one of the western conference finals. steph curry with 40 points. the warriors dominant. in baseball, the yankees beat houston in the first game of a doubleheader, retiring derek jeter's number two this evening. and the cardinals blanked the cubs 5-0. for more -- sports news and information, go to
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>> whitaker: now, the latest from mars, thanks to nasa's incredibly sophisticated geologist-- a one-ton rover named "curiosity" that landed on mars more than four years ago. its biggest discovery so far is this: more than three billion years ago, mars had all the
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building blocks necessary for life. back then, mars and earth were very similar-- wet, warm and habitable. but as life evolved on earth, mars became cold, dry and inhospitable. did life ever exist on mars? we don't know yet. but the rover "curiosity" is on the hunt and has been slowly maneuvering through a topographic treasure trove. tonight, you'll see stunning pictures and hear what "curiosity" is telling us about mars and earth. from mars, "curiosity" can barely see earth more than 30 million miles away. but "curiosity" is seeing mars as never before, leaving its mark-- its tracks-- and sending back postcards of sand dunes 20 feet tall, extending for miles; ancient stone lakebeds that have been dry for billions of years; and time-lapse pictures of a
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martian sunset. like any vain photographer, "curiosity" poses for selfies along the way as she works to solve mars' most challenging mysteries. >> katie stack morgan: so, we're reading the rocks with "curiosity." >> whitaker: reading the rocks? >> morgan: we read the rocks. >> whitaker: katie stack morgan, a geologist at nasa's jet propulsion laboratory, helps decide what pictures "curiosity" should take and where it should go. hundreds of scientists and engineers support the rover. they can't drive it in real time from earth because there's a 30- minute time lag to get a message to mars and back, so "curiosity," shown in this nasa animation, gets its instructions beamed up at the start of each day. and the rover is such a talented geologist that it can teach us a lot from a single pebble fused into a bigger rock. >> morgan: there's a pebble right here, and it's actually
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quite round. >> whitaker: and on mars, round pebbles mean they used to be wet. >> morgan: and if you think about pebbles that you find in a stream on earth, they tend to be very round, as well, because, as they move in the stream, pebbles are hitting other pebbles, and they round off all the little corners. that's how we know this deposit was formed in rushing water. this is the first evidence we have from the surface that water flowed across the surface of mars. >> whitaker: this nasa animation is based on mars' actual surface. "curiosity's" capabilities include a laser that zaps rocks up to 23 feet away to find out what they're made of. it's the first rover that can drill for samples of mars and analyze them in its built-in lab. an early sample told us more about that water that used to be here and led to curiosity's biggest find so far. >> rob manning: the water that
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was on the surface of mars, you could scoop it up and drink it. >> whitaker: rob manning, chief engineer at j.p.l., told us, because the water was drinkable and because "curiosity" also found essential organic chemicals, mars could have supported life. >> manning: does that mean life was there? it doesn't. we don't know. >> whitaker: you're talking about microbial life. >> manning: microbial single- cell organisms. but if you would look for it today alive, it wouldn't be on the surface. you have to go underground, just like we have life on this planet, huge amounts of life living underground on this planet. >> whitaker: manning told us life might have traveled back and forth between mars and earth. >> manning: when a meteor comes along and hits mars, a rock from mars can be lifted up, travel then in circles around the sun until someday it will bump into earth and land in, say, antarctica. >> whitaker: where a rock from mars was discovered in 1984.
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>> manning: right. we've found mars rock, and we've found them all over earth. and the reverse is also true. certainly earth rock, with life in it, has taken a trip to mars. >> whitaker: could that life survive the trip? it's, what, 30 million miles? >> manning: we don't know. we think life might be able to do that. >> whitaker: get ready. here's the punch line. >> manning: could have been that mars was habitable before earth was. and life got its foothold on mars and took its journey to earth, and we're all martians. >> whitaker: you know how mind- blowing that is? >> manning: but it's possible. life is amazing. >> morgan: mars could have been habitable when earth wasn't because we're looking at rocks that are very, very old. >> whitaker: how old? >> morgan: we're talking billions of years. >> whitaker: why is it that we can't find rocks here that are as old as on mars? >> morgan: most of earth is constantly recycling as the plates on the surface move around. but here, on mars, we don't really have evidence for plate
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tectonics. this is the mars rock record of mars' history preserved at the surface, and that's a really unique opportunity to explore a time in the solar system that may not be preserved on the surface of earth. >> whitaker: the scariest part of the entire mission was "curiosity's" landing on mars. it couldn't bounce onto mars, cushioned by giant airbags the way smaller rovers had. "curiosity" weighs a ton, too big for the bags. so, lead engineer adam steltzner and his team came up with a bizarre plan to pack "curiosity" into a flying saucer, fire rockets to slow its descent, and then use long cables to lower it onto mars. many here thought they were crazy. >> steltzner: the team recognized that if we failed, we would find no comfort or solace from the general public because the... >> whitaker: there'd be a lot of fingers pointing.
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>> steltzner: the man on the street says, "that looks crazy. i could've told you it was crazy." and so, i developed this little statement i would make before i would even start. it goes like this: "great works and great folly may be indistinguishable at the outset." >> whitaker: because of the communication time lag, they could not direct the landing from earth. the complex maneuvers were preprogrammed. steltzner and his team could only wait and worry. >> steltzner: we were just sitting in the control room... >> whitaker: biting your fingernails. >> steltzner: ...pacing back and forth, trying to remember to breathe. here's animation of the landing and the actual reaction at mission control. >> touchdown confirmed. >> steltzner: the team celebrated. and then, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, i went home, crawled into bed with my
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wife and wept because i was spent. i was overwhelmed. >> whitaker: this is where "curiosity" landed, the smudges on the left. they look like burn marks, but they're not. >> morgan: they're dust-clearing marks. this is where the... the rockets cleared the dust away. >> whitaker: i see a trail? >> morgan: that's right so, these are the tracks of the rover. so, the rover landed here, and then it drove along... >> whitaker: how about that? >> morgan: ...made a couple of turns. and you can actually see this from orbit, which is incredible. >> whitaker: nasa's been sending satellites to mars for more than 50 years. three are orbiting mars now, monitoring its weather and sending back images of giant craters; wind-carved ridges; and an avalanche of sand pouring down a mountain kicking up huge clouds of dust. down on the surface, one of the three earlier rovers continues to operate." opportunity" is just one-fifth the size of "curiosity."
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it can't scoop up samples or analyze the surface the way "curiosity" can, but "opportunity" has been snapping stunning pictures for 13 years while "curiosity's" mission almost ended after just six months. >> manning: we had had... the rover had some sort of memory problem. >> whitaker: rob manning told us a computer glitch came within one hour of stopping communication with "curiosity" forever. the rover has two identical computers called pilot and co- pilot. >> manning: the pilot is supposed to have enough self- diagnosis and be smart enough to say, "i'm not doing very well. i'm not feeling well. i'm going to let the copilot take over." >> whitaker: yet, pilot was not doing well and refused to give up control. >> manning: in fact, it starting acting a bit like it had an attitude. >> whitaker: the computer had an attitude? >> manning: the computer has developed an attitude in a way that we have never seen before. when we told it to go take a
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nap, it refused to take a nap. then, it refused to take pictures. then, it refused to do more science throughout the day. it just stopped doing these things. and we said, "what the heck is going on?" >> whitaker: and time is running out. >> manning: time is running out because in an hour it's going to turn its radio off and stay off forever, and we'll lose this very expensive rover. >> whitaker: manning's team sent an order to kill the pilot, hoping that would force the co- pilot to take over. >> manning: we're waiting for the copilot to wake up and then turn on its radio to let us know that it was alive. we should get a signal. nothing. another minute goes by. nothing. four minutes go by. now, we're starting to get really worried that maybe... >> whitaker: sounds like a movie. >> manning: it really was. ( laughs ) yeah, it was getting nerve- wracking. and bing, there was the signal. and the backup pilot was obviously in charge. and so... >> whitaker: is the backup pilot still in charge today? >> manning: the backup pilot's still in charge. we have since repaired the bad pilot. >> whitaker: to help direct the pilot, the jet propulsion lab
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built its own patch of mars, where they can practice maneuvers with the rover's twin. adam steltzner told us the rover can see where it's going and make mid-course corrections to avoid pitfalls. why is she so slow? >> steltzner: we are exploring. we don't want to miss anything, so she moves deliberately. >> whitaker: so katie stack morgan can study everything "curiosity" sees. >> morgan: this is actually an active dune field. >> whitaker: what do you mean by an "active dune field"? >> morgan: it means that the sand particles that are making up the dunes are still moving today. >> whitaker: being blown across the landscape? >> morgan: they're very slowly being moved across the surface. >> whitaker: because of the martian wind? >> morgan: uh-huh. >> whitaker: everybody we talk to talks about how studying mars helps us better understand earth. how so? >> morgan: when we look at rocks on mars, we are potentially seeing a snapshot of... of our solar system at a time before
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earth developed its environment as we know it. it's really like we were there. >> whitaker: now, "curiosity" has started climbing partway up mount sharp. that's why it landed nearby. the mountain is a layer cake of history, each ascending layer revealing how mars changed over time. >> morgan: the layers at the bottom, those are the older layers. and each successive layer is younger and younger and younger. >> whitaker: as you climb the mountain, what do you expect to find? what do you hope to find? >> morgan: we're actually expecting to see that transition when mars transitioned from being a habitable planet to being one that was not habitable. >> whitaker: what happened to the atmosphere of mars to... to turn it into this almost dead planet? >> steltzner: it cooled, it lost its magnetic field, the solar wind blew away its atmosphere. and so, it dried out. it became a prune of it's former self. we are still a plum; it's a
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prune. >> whitaker: what does that martian history tell us about earth? >> steltzner: i don't think we have to worry about drying out like mars, but it does teach us... >> whitaker: well, that's a relief. >> steltzner: right. but it does teach us of how delicate the balance of our environment is. and so, it should heighten our appreciation of what a beautiful, warm, wet hug living here on earth really is. >> i want to go over there. >> take a virtual walk on mars with bill whitaker at sponsored by pfizer. ♪ your body was made for better things than rheumatoid arthritis. before you and your rheumatologist move to another treatment, ask if xeljanz is right for you. xeljanz sadul with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well.
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>> whitaker: in the mail this week, our story about the deportation of an indiana restaurant owner who entered the country illegally prompted more criticism than empathy for roberto beristain and his family. but complimentary comments flooded in following lesley stahl's story about the last nuremberg prosecutor.
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i'm bill whitaker. we'll be back next week with another edition of "60 minutes." i didn't really know anything about my family history. went to ancestry, i put in the names of my grandparents first. i got a leaf right away. a leaf is a hint that is connected to each person in your family tree. i learned that my ten times great grandmother is george washington's aunt. within a few days i went from knowing almost nothing to holy crow, i'm related to george washington. this is my cousin george. discover your story. start searching for free now at
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captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. captioned by media access group at wgbh
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(glass breaking, thudding) sam, someone's in the house! (screaming) (grunting) man: release tahir khaled, or watch your wife suffocate to death, sam hanna. ticktock, sam. secnav has just authorized tahir's release. i want my time with you and my children. callen: we just passed hour eight. there's still no word from tahir's people. (crying): please. okay, thanks. lapd is on top of it. you okay? no, not even close. i got a flight to take you to kamran and aiden. already spoke to 'em.