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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  August 16, 2010 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT

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>> ifill: good evening. i'm gwen ifill. heavy rains pounded pakistan where flooding has now affected 20 million people. >> brown: and i'm geoffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, special correspondent syma mawson reports on the disaster from the indus river valley in southern pakistan. and we talk about the aid effort with michael young of the international rescue committee. >> ifill: then the political fire storm ignited by the president's comments about building a mosque near ground zero. as seen by former representative rick lazio of new york and new jersey mayor mohammed hameeduddin. >> brown: judy woodruff examines a proposed ban on private security contractors in afghanistan.
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>> ifill: author pill yam powers explains how disconnecting from our screens may well help us reconnect with our lives. >> we saw in our family life where something was being leached out of our togetherness and our communication by turning awhich away from each other to the screen. they were emailing across the house, you know, when we could walk a few steps and have a conversation. >> brown: margaret warner previews her reporting trip to iraq. >> warner: it's really worth looking at iraq. did this actually work? is it sustainable when we draw down. >> ifill: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided y... captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions
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chevron. this is the power of human energy. bnsf railway. and by the bill and melinda gates foundation, dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy, productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: victims of the great
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flood in pakistan protested today over lack of aid. they blocked a main highway in the south, even as fresh flood warnings were issued along the indus river. meanwhile disease began spreading among refugees in makeshift camps. we start with a report from special correspondent in pakistan. >> this is a disaster of an unimaginable scale. mile after mile all you can see is water and the devastation it has caused. so powerful that it took people, livestock, roads, bridges and entire villages with it. one million , about 28 million liters per second is making its unforgiving way to the southern part of pakistan threatening more destruction to an already devastated land scape. the river indus one of the world's most important rivers, now one of the world's most dangerous, with its banks
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bursting, homes and lives around it don't stand a chance. a nationwide operation is underway led by the military. the last time an operation of this scale was conducted was the south asia quake. but officials say that was nothing compared to the destruction the flooding has caused. and with so much water cutting off access and leaving people stranded, boats and hell helicopter missions are the most important right now. >> our focus is bringing the aid from karachi to here and thereafter our helicopters boarded all these loads and about three to four sorties are planned every day by each air craft to give relief to the persons who are in disaster right now. we are rescuing the person in the nation. we are providing the relief there. >> reporter: we joined the navy-led aid mission on board a sea king helicopter to some
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of the most devastated towns and villages. >> these are aid bags containing essential s for people's survival: bread, milk, biscuits and bottles of water. the problem is this will only last them a few days. every effort is being made to get help to those people who desperately need it. >> reporter: dropping the aid is a delicate task. getting too close risks blowing away their make-shift homes, but not getting close enough could risk wasting precious food. we flew over this entire area which has been evacuated. thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes as the water moved in. but many have chosen to stay, too scared to leave their belongings or their livestock to move elsewhere and rebuild their lives.
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they have spent their lives building these homes and livelihoods. this is all they have left. those that have escaped the wrath of the water have found yet more miss rein makeshift camps with the intense heat equally unforgiving and little food to eat. >> i was cooking dinner when the water came rushing in. i got each person out one by one grabbing each of them. then the roof came down. my husband who is an old man fell in the water. i saved him too. we didn't manage to salvage anything but our lives. nobody here has anything left. >> we don't get meals. we haven't been given anything. we got some food but a gang of men beat us up and took it from us. everyone here fights over food. >> how many children do you have and what are you feeding them some. >> i have four children. i don't even have trousers to put on my little girl. we don't have any clothes at all.
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we didn't manage to bring anything with us. everything drowned in th water. our house collapsed too. we have nothing and we can't do anything about it. >> a little girl about eight or ten years old ran across the road when people came to hand out food. she was hit by a car and died this morning. >> two weeks into this disaster it's feared a second wave of water is about to destroy what little there is left. experts say water from the flooded eastern rivers may well combine with the fresh flood waters in the indus. further downstream villagers take it upon themselves to keep watch at man made dams. we discovered several villages that have been lost to the flood waters. while the villagers have inviteded me to take a look at what's left of their homes, we should be walking there but we're actually having to take a boat because as far as the eye can see, all there is is water.
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every single home-- and we're talking about a group of villages up to 200 homes-- they're all under water. >> what exactly happened here? >> everything has been damaged, everything. we don't have any links with the local administration and haven't received any help. the entire village has collapsed into the water. >> why don't you leave and move elsewhere? >> how can we go? we don't have anywhere to go. >> people here tilled their land and grew dates, mangos, strawberries, rice, cotton, wheat and crops to feed their livestock. everything has been drowned by the flood water. they've lost it all. >> reporter: the men are now
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trying to salvage what is left of their crops. the u.n. says flood waters are likely to have destroyed crops in pakistan worth around $1 billion. in a country where agriculture is one of the largest contributors to the economy, there's concern about the impact on livelihoods and the economy in years to come. but for now, saving lives and getting aid to those who need it is the primary concern. relief activities won't be over until november at least. that's four months of painstaking work with the risk of more deaths and disease. others fear it may take longer for the water to subside and reveal the true extent of the damage. it's only then that the rehabilitation is thousands of people will begin in earnest. >> brown: for for more on the aid effort to the affected region we turn to michael young, regional director for asia, the caucuses and the middle east at the international rescue committee. he served as that group's
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country director for pakistan until just recently. mr. young, the first problem must be the sheer scale. tell us what you're hearing from your people on the ground about that challenge. >> i think your opening segment paint a pretty accurate picture. i think there are three principle challenges that the area faces. scale, as you saw. 20 million people affected. a flooded area that stretches from the mountains in the northwest right down to the plains. up to eight million acres of standing crops destroyed. probably up to a million houses destroyed by now. it really is staggering in terms of meeting that level of need immediately. then their complexity. it's a very complex emergency. so many of the areas that have been hit by the flood are also areas that for several years now have been coping with taliban militancy and the pakistani army's campaign against the taliban. there were still 1.3 million
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people displaced due to those campaigns in the northwest of the country that are also being badly hit by the flood. >> brown: go ahead. >> logistics. the first logistical problem is a simple one. there is not enough money getting through that can be translated into aid on the ground. the u.n. emergency response appeal, which is the whole humanitarian community's principal mechanism of saying, these are the immediate needs that need to be met to save lives during the flood, it's the immediate after math. there's only 20% funding. that's the first challenge. the international response to the crisis has not yet stepped up to the scale that it needs to be in order to be able to reach people such as those illustrated in your report. >> brown: let me ask you about a specific problem because the u.n. today warned about the risk of disease. i want to ask you about that. how serious a problem and who is most at risk? >> it's a very serious problem. we're already seeing
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cases of diarrhea and the gastro intestinal diseases. we've traced the first cases of cholera in places like the swat valley. indeed the kind of after math of the flood, the effects of not so much the flood itself but the effects of impure water , hygiene conditions. cramped, unhygieneic shelter. all of these can translate into far more deaths than the flood itself directly caused. we're grappling in coordination with many other agencies, local and international agencies, to try and get a grip on the health crisis. the international international rescue committee is focusing a lot of effort on providing clean water to the flood affected areas. so that the people have that basic service in place. we can try and control outbreaks of disease . >> brown: you started to talk
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about the logistics. how coordinated is this so far? how much is the government or the military, as we saw in that report, able to coordinate the various types of relief that are necessary? >> well, the principal coordination mechanisms are in place. i mean the united nations office of coordination of humanitarian affairs runs a series of forums in which all of the key players come together whether they're government or non-governmental to look at needs and to plan responses as quickly as possible. there are meetings in the key place... cities like islamabad every second day. where information comes in you analyze that information. you respond as urgently as possible to the needs that the assessments teams t on the ground in these flooded areas are bringing back. we're working very closely with the government and with our sister agencies with the u.n. everybody is on the ground and scrambling to meet needs. again the sheer scale of the crisis is overwhelming.
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the funding to translate needs to meet needs is not there yet. accessory mains a real problem. there are areas in the northwest where my own agency has worked for 30 years that we simply cannot access even though the flood waters up there are receded at the moment. >> brown: you mentioned earlier the problems, the ongoing problems for this country. there have been some concerns as in the past of the taliban stepping in to a situation like this. is there anything you can tell us about that. >> we've not seen that on the ground thus far. obviously security in and of itself is a big issue and remains so. the taliban have in the past made public statements that humanitarian agencies and humanitarian workers may be targets. it's something we're also aware of and plan for, but what we have not seen is any kind of extremist response to the flood itself.
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>> brown: finally, what can people do if they would like to help? >> the simplest thing is to give money. money ... i can only speak for my own agency. that money will immediately be translated into aid on the ground. clean water, hygiene kits, food, shelter materials. all of those basic things that will help people survive while they're in exile and then return and rebuild. you can give money quite simply by going to the international rescue committee's website, that money hits the ground running. >> brown: it sounds like we heard in that report and i sounds like you agree that this is just the beginning. this will good go on for a long time beyond the immediate needs. >> absolutely. as your report encapsulated, look at agriculture alone. millions of acres of standing crops vital to pakistan's future have been destroyed. it's a very fragile time window in which people have to hopefully the floods recede
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would have to plant, for instance, a new wheat crop. as well as meeting the immediate relief needs of people we have to be right now acting on the future in terms of recovery. >> brown: michael young, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> ifill: still to come on the newshour the politics of the mosque debate, banning private contractors in afghanistan, disconnecting from the digital world, and margaret warner heading to iraq. but first with the other news of the hey here is hari sreenivasan in our news room. >> sreenivasan: a colombian airliner crashed and broke apart on a caribbean resort island did but only one person was killed. the boeing 737 was trying to land in a thunderstorm with 131 people on board. the plane hit short of the runway and fractured into three pieces. the crumbled wreckage came to rest as passengers scrambled away. the survivors were checked and treated at a local chrichb i can. five were seriously injured. the cause of the crash was under investigation. officials said lightning may have hit the plane.
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negotiations to form a new government in iraq broke down today. former prime minister allawi and his sunni-backed alliance formally called off talks with current prime minister nouri al-maliki and his shiite bloc. it's been five months since iraq's elections left no one group with a majority in parliament. violence has increased. there was word today of a u.s. soldier killed northeast of baghdad. defense secretary robert gates may retire sometime next year. in an interview published today in foreign policy magazine he said the timing makes sense. he would still oversee a major offensive in afghanistan but be gone before the next presidential election. gates has been defense secretary since late 2006. former house majority leader tom delay will not face federal criminal charges. a lawyer for the texas republican said today the justice department has ended its probe after six years. it investigated delay's ties to lobbyist jack abramoff. he went to prison for fraud and corruption. delay still faces state
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charges of money laupdering and conspiracy involving legislative elections in 2002. a new shrimping season a officially began in louisiana today. the first one since the gulf oil spill disaster. fishermen headed out into the gulf this morning and found some shrimp that appeared clean. others were oiled and had to be thrown back in. the fishing industry in louisiana is worth more than $270 million a year, making it one of the nation's largest. wall street struggled again to stave off more losses. the dow jones industrial average did lose a point to close at 10,302 but the nasdaq rose 8 points to close near 2182. those are some of the day's major stories. now back to gwen. >> ifill: now to politics. president obama jump-starts a heated political debate surrounding the building of an islamic center near ground zero in manhattan. for weeks the white house avoided comment. >> i think this is a ... rightly a matter for new york city and the local community to decide. >> ifill: but on friday evening at the annual white
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house dinner marking the start of the muslim holy month of ramadan, the president weighed in. instantly igniting the essentially local issue into a national debate. >> i believe that muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. that includes .... ( applause ) ... that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower man hat hand in accordance with local laws and ordinances. >> ifill: it is the location of the proposed $100 million islamic center that is at issue. as planned it would stand just two blocks from ground zero. republican representative peter king of new york, among others, said the president missed the point. >> no one is saying there's not a right to build the mosque. the fact is with rights go responsibilities. it's just incredibly insensitive to be constructing a 13-story mosque literally in the shadows of ground zero. >> ifill: less than 24 hours after his initial comments
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mr. obama sought to clarify his remarks while traveling in florida. >> i was not commenting and i will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision. to put a mosque there. i was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding. >> ifill: by weighing in on the controversy at all, the president sparked a fire storm of debate. senate democratic harry reid said today the mosque should be relocated. and at least one republican congressional candidate, this one in florida, has cut a television ad. >> mr. president , ground zero is the wrong place for a mosque. >> ifill: and senator jon corn insaid the president is out of touch. >> washington, the white house, the administration, the president himself seems to be disconnected from the mainstream of america. i think that's one of the reasons people are so frustrated. >> ifill: independent new york mayor michael bloomberg who has supported the project defended the president's position today.
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>> muslims are a... as much a part of this city and this country as americans of any other faith. and they are as welcome to worship in lower manhattan as anyone else. if we shout down a mosque and... shut down a mosque and community center because it is two blocks away from the site where freedom was attacked i think it would be a sad day for america. >> ifill: also today a white house spokesman said the president was driven by constitutional obligation not by politics. now for o two differing points of view on this we are joined by former congressman and republican candidate for governor in new york, lick laz owe and new jersey mayor mohammed hameeduddin who is a democrat. welcome to you both. mayor, hameeduddin i want to start with you. you were at the dinner at the white house on friday. when the president made those remarks, did you agree with him about the right and did you understand the distinction he made the next day about the wisdom? >> good evening, yes.
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as muslims we were willing to give him a pass on this issue because like most muslim american s with the bad jobs and the economy i think there is an issue that comes up about the mosque being built in lower manhattan. but, you know, i thought that these issues were settled a long time ago with the protection act as well as the first amendment. rather than talk about this, you know, i'm using this opportunity to talk about jobs, the economy and what we're going to do, where we can agree with republicans on what we can do to build america and keep america safe and prosperous again. >> ifill: i'll give you the opportunity to do that. congressman, i guess, former congressman lazio. did you get the distinction the president was making between the right to build and the wisdom to build? >> you know, i think he's trying to have it both ways, gwen. what i've been calling for really are two things. one is transparency. i think it's important that if the developers of this mosque, islamic center, whatever it is being called really in the
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shadow of the worst terrorist attack in american history were sensitive to the feelings of the people that have lost loved ones in 9/11, they would be meeting with these people and they'd be looking at alternatives to that. in fact, governor patterson had offered the developers an opportunity to move to a different area. it was rejected out of hand. so there's a certain defiance, it seems to me, about the need to put it right there. it's not in a residential neighborhood. this is in an area that is so close to ground zero that the existing building was damaged by the landing gear of one of the planes who attacked it. the second point that i make, gwen, is let's have open books. let's have transparency. this cordoba initiative has $18,000 right now. they're proposing to build $100 million mosque. the purchase of the property is in excess of $5 million. now we're finding out that they need the property next door which is utility property
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for another several million dollars. where is this money coming from? who is behind this? >> ifill: but if i can just ask you about the president's statement particularly and whether the president should have been involved in this in talking about it. do you agree with him when he says they have the right to build that facility? >> i think it was right for the president to get involved. i think he came at this from the wrong direction. i would not have come out where president obama came out obviously. i feel that this mosque ... the first thing we should be saying here is that the attorney general andrew cuomo of new york who has jurisdiction over registered charities which is what this is has a responsibility to make inquiry and to have again the transparency about where this funding is coming from. people seem to be missing that. i say also with all due respect to the president that that issue should haveeen raised by theate'. to say that it... raised by the president. to say it shouldn't be here but there's a right to have it there confuses the issue.
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the issue is do we care more about the feelings of the people, the families that have lost loved ones, we lost 3,000 innocent civilians. >> can i weigh in here? >> how quickly many people forget about that though. >> can i ware in here, please. >> ifill: of course. >> as mr. lazio has said it kreblgtly where he put the, you know, the onus on governor andrew cuomo. or attorney general cuomo. mr. lazio is only involved in the issue because if you google his name today he's looking for money for his campaign. he says he wants to cut taxes but he doesn't have any ideas of where he's going to cut job or spending. mr. lazio is using this opportunity to whip muslims and use us as a because we're not politically viable or politically active and to prey on the most weakest part of society. >> ifill: mr. mayor. >> here's the thing. yes. >> ifill: you had said that you thought you'd rather be talking about the economy. the president is weighing in
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on this is a distraction. >> the president weighed in on it. he made his constitutional argument. look at at how he transitioned away from it the next day because he didn't want to get stuck in the mud. the next thing you know everybody wants to talk about the issue. you get stuck in the mud and can't of govern. the president has to worry about afghanistan, iraq, unemployment, stimulus 2, has to worry about republican congress that the only thing they know how to do is blame demate coras for everything. he's cleaning up the mess that the republicans made. what ends up happening is that.... >> gwen, could i say something here. >> ifill: i'll be right back with you in a minute, mr. lazio. do you think that harry reid and david pat patterson are correct in saying that this site should be moved. >> the issue of the site being moved is an issue of law and due process. whether the site is there or not that's not the issue right now. the issue is that the economy and taxes. mr. lazio doesn't want to talk about those things. he knows that this polling, polling shows against this mosque is 70% against. he knows that, you know, the
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stop islamization of america and all these little hate groups that affiliates himself with will get him fund raising opportunities. what he would like for me is not to practice my my religion and leave this country. i'm as american as apple pie. that's the question, mr. lazio. what would you like to do about the economy? >> can i jump in here now because, you know, this is an effort by the mayor to just attack me personally for a view and a position that 60 to 70% of americans and new yorkers hold. so he's absolutely wrong. if you want to know where i stand on taxes, mr. mayor, you can look at my congressional record where i consistently and always voted for lower taxes, was a sponsor of a bill to lower taxes, was on the budget committee that wrote the first balanced bunl it in generations. if you want to know where ... more about where i am on these things maybe you need to do a little homework and go on laz >> i did. it said you were broke and had $600,000.... >> ifill: hello, gentlemen. hello. hello. gentlemen, i'm still here.
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mr. lazio, this isn't a discussion about your campaign even though i did give you the opportunity to respond. i do want to bring you back to this subject. part of this subject, we heard newt gingrich say today, for instance, orver the past several days he said this was a question of islamic triumph if a nazi wouldn't be allowed to put up a sign next to the holocaust museum. do you agree or do you agree where with mr. gingrich's characterizations of this debate? >> i think we need to be careful here. we have joe lieberman a democratic senator, harry reid oneest most liberal senators in the united states senate who are opposed to this ground zero mosque. it's not a republican or democratic issue. as much as people on the other side would like it to be a partisan issue, it is not a partisan issue. americans from all philosophical backgrounds feel the same way about this. >> ifill: do you agree with mr. gingrich. >> there needs to be transparency. >> ifill: do you agree with mr. gingrich? >> i said, gwen, my position all along has been let's open the books.
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>> answer the question, rick. >> whether the money is coming from foreign governments or militant organizations funding this. my position.... >> that's a question for the f.b.i.. >> ifill: mr. mayor, please, allow him to finish. mr. mayor, please allow him to finish. >> yes, ma'am. >> ifill: go ahead. mr. lazio. >> gwen, once again, i said all along this is not about religion. we have over 100 mosques in new york city. nobody is saying that there's anything wrong with having a mosque or that there should be any limits. >> how many have you visited? how many have you visited? zero. >> could you please stop interrupting me. i did not interrupt you, mr. mayor. with all due respect. the question is really whether or not werb feel safe. this is about safety and security. this is the anti-defamation league, former mayor giuliani, former governor george pataki who were both there on that day in 9/11 all on the same page. all support the same position. this is not about religion. this is about what's right. what's ethical.
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what's decent. what's fair. and from a standpoint of safety, we have to.... >> ifill: we have time (all talking. >> ifill: gentlemen, we have time for a very brief answer for both of you on this final question. i get the feeling we already know the answer. i'll start with the mayor which is how much is this a distraction and a political football, this issue, rather than an argument about the merits of this? >> this is 100% distraction. if you look at the polling. don't talk about the economy. don't talk about jobs. don't talk about failed policies. let's talk about blaming muslims for everything. look, i don't like when people burn the american flag. but i'll defend their right to do it. as much as it pains me about these things, this is what makes america america. rick lazio is against the constitution. rick lazio.... >> ifill: we're going to allow mr. lazio to have the final word. >> thank you very much, gwen. the imam who wants to build this said america was responsible for the attacks on 9/11 and osama bin laden was created in the usa. that in itself ought to be enough for us to want to know
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who is behind this mosque and where the money is coming from. that's all i've been asking. >> i agree with you. the f.b.i. should look into it. >> other people have. now we're asking andrew cuomo to do it job. if andrew cuomo does his job as the attorney general and forces these bookss to be opened up we'll have much less of a controversy. >> ifill: we're going to leave this, mr. mayor, and mr. lazio. thank you both very much. >> thank you, gwen. >> brown: next private contractors in afghanistan come under fire from that country's president. judy woodruff that is the story. >> reporter: the new american commander in afghanistan general david petraeus pointed sunday to signs of hope. >> late spring was when we started to see the operations in central helmand province truly were starting to improve security for the people. an up-and-down process to be sure. taliban fighting back very hard as we took away very important sanctuaries from him. now you can see it expanding over into kandahar province,
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again another tough fight. >> woodruff: petraeus played down u.s. disputes with afghan president hamid karzai but an announcement from kabul today raised new questions. a presidential spokesman said karzai wants all private security companies to end operations in afghanistan within four months. karzai has said afghan government forces should be doing the jobs now given to contractors. private guards perform a wide range of essential tasks. from providing security for diplomats and military bases to safeguarding supply convoys for troops. some even assist with intelligence operations. accounts vary on how many contractors are in afghanistan, but the associated press quoted u.s. officials as saying , 52 security firms are currently licensed to operate there. plus some unlicensed outfits.
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they said 26,000 security contractors, most of them afghan nationals, are working for the u.s. government in afghanistan. and 19,000 of those work for the u.s. military. in washington, state department spokesman p.j. crowley warned that meeting karzai's four-month deadline will be, quote, very challenging. >> we're in a war zone. the security requirements are significant. and at the present time that requirement is being met by in many cases private security contractors. over time as the afghan government 's capability expand the need for military and private contractors will be reduced. how fast that can be accomplished is the essence of our current strategy. >> woodruff: crowley said the u.s. will work closely with the afghan government on a way forward. for more on the role of
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private security contractors in afghanistan and why president karzai may want to eliminate them, we turn to matthew rosenberg, the wall street journal's correspondent in kabul. and doug brooks, the founder and president of the association of the stability operations industry. that's the grade association of military service companies. gentlemen, thank you both for being with us. i'm going to start with you doug brooks. help us understand again how essential the jobs are that these private companies perform, these security contractors. >> they perform a role that's different from military. they are protective, protecting a person, place or thing as was mentioned in the show they protect diplomats but they also protect warehouses. a lot of the reconstruction efforts are protected by security contractors. they're over wind chill mentionly afghans well over 90% of the afghans that do most of the work. those are the people you want doing security in your own country. in the u.s. we have three times as many private security as public security. there will always be a role for them.
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what's happening here is very interesting and it will be very tough to do i think. >> woodruff: matthew rosenberg, what would you add to that? who owns these companies? most of the employees are of a began nationals. who owns these companies. >> a variety of owners from american companies that are based here to afghans who have close tie s with the presidential palace. you have a whole range of owners. and how this affects all them is unclear. is president karzai going to crack down on members of his own family who own private security companies or crack down only on the foreign ones? he has the time to complain about foreign security companies. does this cover every single one. >> woodruff: a lot of people may not realize the close connections that exist between president karzai and these companies and others in afghanistan. how well trained , doug books, are these individuals? >> that's a great question. i think if you're the u.s. or if you're a good client essentially hiring these companies and they can request certain levels of training you
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can have fairly well trained companies. unfortunately i think in a lot of cases the clients don't pay attention to the quality. that's a big issue. in fact one thing we've been pushing is third party certification, have an outside party come in and make sure these companies are trained the way you want to see them trained so you have quality involved. you're not always seeing that. that's a problem. there are very poorly trained companies operating there. that's something that i think gives karzai some traction with what he's saying. >> woodruff: before we talk specifically about why president karzai wants to do away with them, why aren't they already in the military? what do they get out of working for a private company rather than going for the afghan military? >> the afghan military and the afghan police, it's been a slow process building them. they are pumping out soldiers and police as quickly as they can. but private security work is paid well. there have been.... >> woodruff: better than the afghan police. >> often. for the better trained ones certainly. you know, there are also people who probably don't want to be in the army and police. who weren't recruited to be in
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the army and police. >> woodruff: why not? >> it's dangerous. far more dangerous being an afghan soldier trying to fight the taliban who is probably underequipped, leadership issues and training issues. to be an afghan policeman is to be a target. to be a security guard not so much. you can end up in kabul guarding a private home. the road convoys, you know, those are dangerous but there are also questions do some of these companies pay the taliban not to attack the convoys. being a security guard is a far safer job than being a soldier or policeman in afghanistan. >> woodruff: you would agree? >> it varies from job to job. some of the convoy security can be rather dangerous. it depends on what you're proceed teching. many are proceed feking ngo warehouses. >> woodruff: non-governmental organizations? >> yes. many of the people doing the reconstruction. that's generally fairly safe. as we've seen in recent weeks that can be quite dangerous at times. >> woodruff: what do we think is behind what karzai's office is saying.
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want to be clear. they haven't issued this decree yet. this is being talked about by a spokesman. >> i mean in the last few weeks we've had another round of kind of karzai government pressing back on anti-corruption efforts that are led by the u.s. and its european allies. one of his top aides was recently arrested in a corruption case. karzai then moved to take control of the anti-corruption task forces which were u.s. and british trained that had done that. infuriating u.s. officials. this seems like it's coming right at a time where you have another one of these karzai versus his u.s. backers kind of rounds on anti-corruptionment he's going after the private security companies which he complains are part of the problem not part of the solution. >> woodruff: is there something about this time right now? >> there's also an election coming up. there's parliamentary elections coming up september 18. this plays to the crowd and definitely plays to afghans who want to see more afghan-led
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stuff, who want to see a more independent government and who don't like the u.s. where sentiment is not in our favor. >> this kind of threat definitely puts a pressure on the coalition because if these all these security contractors all over the country are forced to leave and there's a vacuum there's nobody there to replace them. that undermines the mission in a big way. i think see this is going to cause a lot of ajts here. >> woodruff: what's my question. what does happen if president karzai is serious, if these security companies are banned in the next four months by the end of the year, what does that mean? >> i mean.... >> woodruff: let me ask you. >> it's almost unconceiveable. they do so many things. to fill maybe the 25 to 30,000 security jobs right now to have the army do that which is hard pressed enough to fill its own role, just seems impossible. you have everybody from the coalition to aid groups, you know, ngos, speaking out today wondering what are we going to do?
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they guard all our missions. every piece of work we do we need these guys. we can't do it without them. >> woodruff: doug brooks, what's the reaction inside the contractor community? >> well, kind of.... >> woodruff: you were on the phone a lot today. >> absolutely. you know, we're trying to figure out what's going on with this. right now it's a wait-and-see. this may be a political ploy or a powerplay as has been discussed. that's quite possible. i think it, you know, right now i mean this has been said before. nothing has happened. we're kind of waiting to see in the meantime. you know, i mean from our perspective we twant to kind of keep our noses clean. it's real important to group the quality within the industry to make sure there's no excuses to do more damage. >> woodruff: is the expectation, matt rosenberg, that this, karzai is likely to make good on this threat? i mean some people are seeing it a as threat? >> i'm not sure what people... i'm not sure what anybody expects right now. the deadline certainly seems difficult . that would be an understatement.
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how to make good on this is, you know, this is his entire elite is protected by these private security people as well. >> woodruff: you were saying to me a minute before we went on the air that if the ban were to happen that you might have people running around with these skills, with the skills that many of these individuals have without a job? >> exactly. i mean, the training mission that nato and the u.s. has right now to train afghan soldiers cannot asorb 25,000- 30,000 people january 1. this will not happen. all these people are suddenly out of work. what are we going to do? crime is an issue there. there's an insurgency. you don't need more people with these skills on the market. >> woodruff: we will be watching and waiting and see what comes out of kabul. matt rosen ber, doug brooks, thank you both. >> thank you. >> brown:
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and finally tonight, a story for everyone who feels overwhelmed by information. six years ago bill powers and his family disconnected from life in fast-paced washington d.c. and moved to the small town of orleans on cape cod. >> ready? >> brown: and these days if he wants to go canoing with son william, well, the water is just at the end of the street. idyllic for sure. and yet powers realized he and his loved ones were still plenty connected. way too connected to the roar of the digital crowd through their screens. >> i was wrestling with this conundrum that i think we're all in today which is the wonder of digital technology and the burden and sort of where does one begin and the other end and how do you strike a balance between the two? i was feeling in my work, in my family life and just really kind of inside my own head a crowdedness, a sort of never
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quiet time. >> brown: how do you know that? how does it show itself? >> it was this sense of never having a break from stimulation. from information. from distraction. >> brown: perhaps you know the feeling? powers calls it digital maximalism, that sense of being always on through our smart phones, emails, tweets, facebook, g-chats, alerts, links, tags, posts, photos, videos, blogs, blogs, searches and out dates. >> when you brought it up, everyone would say, yes, i have that same feeling. what is it? why can i not do one thing for a sustained period anymore? why is it hard for me to stay with a novel? i used to love to read novels? >> brown: powers had his aha moment one day when he accidentally dumped his mobile phone overboard. >> i was in this space by myself. i realized it was a space i hadn't been in in a very long time and it had great value to me. i was glad to be there again.
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i wanted to figure out how to get that back. >> brown: powers' response: a look at our present continuum drum titled hamlet's black berry, practical philosophy for building a good life in the digital age. now powers is no angry prophet spewing venom at modern life and its toys. he uses and loves them himself. he's as multi-as the next tasker as a former reporter and long-time media column night. ... columnist. he knows very well that technology helps make his current lifestyle possible. he can write his articles from afar and so can his wife martha cheryl who is working on her fifth book in another corner of their 150-year-old cape house. they, along with 12-year-old william, who like kids everywhere loves his screens, can be as connected as they want or need to be. and yet, says powers, all that connection to the outside meant something lost inside the home. >> what we saw in our family life
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where something was being leached out of our togetherness and our communication by turning away from each other toward the screen. even just communicating with each other the screen, we were emailing across the house. when we could walk a few steps and have a conversation. >> brown: powers decided to look to past thinkers and do-ers and their encounters with new technology. he calls them the seven philosophers of screens. plato channeling sack ra tease, seneca, gutenberg, shakespeare, ben franklin, henry david thoreau and marshal mcloon. each according to powers offering a particular lesson for our own time. take seneca, a philosopher and statesman, a thinker who had a small side job of helping to run the roman empire and its bureaucracy. >> they were inundated with documents, with mail. people were constantly checking if the mail boat had arrived from egypt and so forth. he realized he was running in so many directio he had to learn to focus better and
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discipline himself and find a place apart for the mind. so there's a wonderful passage in one of his letters where he talks about how even in a noisy room in the middle of hectic realm he could figure out a way to make his mind a quiet place where he could focus on one task. >> brown: a multi-tasker. >> he was really a multi-tasker. his friends were. he talks about his friends suffering from the restless energy of the hunted mind. and that it went with them everywhere they traveled even on vacation. >> brown: that will sound a little familiar. >> exactly. it's like when we go to the hotel on vacation and ado you have wi-fi. >> brown: and that black berry of hamlet's. that's powers having fun with popular new gizmos in elizabethan england called tables, held hand devices on which one could take notes with a style us and erase clean for a fresh start to clear the mind. shakespeare naturally played with the latest to be nothing. >> one of the earliest scenes of hamlet, he meets the ghost.
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the ghost of course has this terrible news for hamlet. he's kind of thrown off and doesn't know what to do with it quite. he pulls out his tables. he said my tables, my tables. he takes out the style us and takes some notes. it kind of gives him this wonderful feeling of being in control of the situation. now this is a case of a relatively new technology helping someone in a sense gain order. one of the reasons i use it is to point out that there are ways in which our technologies might evolve to help us more rather than making us busier. in the book i come up with very crude sug suggestions like could we sit down at our screen and have it ask us how busy do you want to be? do.... >> brown: have the screen ask us, how busy do you want to be today? >> do you want to focus on one thing rather than allowing me to open up 25 different web pages. >> brown: an immediate step comes from the example of thorough of the famous cabin at walden pond which gave him
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a place away though not that far away from the crowd. >> he said that... noted that people in his time had become addicted to going to the post office to check their mail. he says in proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post office. which is such a wonderful diagnosis of really what a lot of us are suffering from today. >> brown: powers thinks all of us could create our own walden spaces even if it's just a room in our homes where technology is off limits. >> do what thoreau did which is learn to have a little disconnectedness within the connected world. don't run away. >> brown: four years ago he and his family instituted what might be called walden time. a weekly internet sabbath, unplugging the modem late friday through monday morning. >> all right. show us. >> here we go. >> brown: 3, 2, 1. >> internet goes off. and the sabbath begins. that's all there is to it. >> brown: as it happens at the time of our visit, the pew
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research center had just issued a report citing tech experts who believe the internet is and will continue to be a benefit to our social relationships. but powers says he's also finding something else as he travels the country and talks about selective disconnecting. >> one of the first talks i gave about t book was in los angeles to a fairly large audience. people of many different ages. after the speech , the people who came up to me and really button-holed me most urgently tended to be younger people. a few of them really had tears in their eyes and said i didn't even know this was an option. >> brown: as powers says and his philosophers of screen show a little reflection and a few concrete actions can bring some balance back to modern wired life. >> ifill: again the major developments of the day, the great flood in pakistan threatened to overwhelm more
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villages with 20 million people already affected. a colombian airliner crashed and broke apart on a caribbean resort island but only one person was killed. and afghan president karzai signaled he wants thousands of private security guards to end operations in his country within four months. the newshour is always online. hari sreenivasan is in our news room. he previews what's there. >> sreenivasan: there's more from jeff's interview with the author of hamlet's black berry on life in the digital age. find that our art beat. watch our newest feature on the rundown. it's called the political checklist. every monday david chalian asks gwen and judy about the stories they are watching on the politics beat. plus margaret warner is in iraq. before she left for baghdad she offered a preview of her upcoming reports. >> first of all the end of combat operations. let's define that. >> president obama set this as an interim deadline on the way to withdrawing all u.s. forces by the end of 2011 which as
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you may recall iraq and the u.s. negotiated under president bush. he declared in his camp lejeune speech last year by august 31 there would only be 50,000 u.s. troops in the combat mission or combat forces would leave. what's actually happening is there will still be 50,000 troops. at least 20,000 of those are going to be fighting soldiers who will advise and assist is what they're calling it, advise and assist brigades for iraqi soldiers. we will still maintain a robust counterterrorism special ops forces. the rest of logistics and aviation and all that. the idea is that the mission is changing and that the u.s. role in security of iraq is changing. that said, it remains a row gust presence. ... robust presence. clearly it has the ability to step in if something should get out of hand. >> sreenivasan: what are the stories you'll be focusing on in the next couple of weeks. >> warner: the military drawdown. are the iraqis ready to assume
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this responsibility? what does it look like when we actually get out with a unit? are the u.s. soldiers really hanging back and the iraqis are running it which is what they say is happening or is it do they depend on the americans more? we will, of course, look at the daily life of iraqis. i mean, what has seven years of occupation meant for the iraqis? do they feel safer? what is baghdad like today in terms of sectarian violence and strife? as you know, attacks have gone up. what about the fact that they're all sweltering with no electricity three or four hours a day. we'll look at that. we want to look at other special areas, for instance, u.s. reconstruction. what has that really wrought? there have been all kinds of stories about that not really coming to fruition as we hoped it would. i also want to take a look at the status of women in iraq. >> sreenivasan: you've had reports now from around the world and iraq and afghanistan seem to be so crucial to how people perceive america's
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foreign policy. really the implications are fairly significant. >> warner: that's an excellent point, hari. i think it's really worth looking at iraq not only because we've lost over 4,000 lives and spent billions and hundreds of billions of dollars there but because the template there which was finally a surge to create enough of an environment for the parties to come together and come to a peaceful resolution, that is really the template that general petraeus is now taking to afghanistan. it's really worth looking at iraq. did this actually work? and is it sustainable when we draw down? >> sreenivasan: in doing some of the homework in preparing for this trip, what are things that you're learning that you kind of didn't know a few weeks ago? >> warner: (silence). >> sreenivasan: the criticism of how difficult it will be for iraq to transition into this peaceful society we'd like it to be are far and wide. as we pull back and as we see this escalation of violence there's a lot of people coming out of the wood works saying hold on. is this really the right time
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to back out. >> warner: i think what has surprised me, what i'm hearing because we talked to iraqis on the ground now as we've prepared is the gap between, first of all, the picture that is being presented here in washington by obama administration officials which is despite an uptick of attacks in baghdad that the trend lines are still down and the way iraqis on the ground feel. that surprised me. and the other thing that has emerged is that there seems to be quite a gap between ordinary iraqis and the political class. now you get that often, of course. as you know, the iraqi government still has not formed itself. they had elections back in march. you had two coalitions that did almost as well as one another. they still haven't come to a resolution of how they're going to share power. from what we understand iraqis as they sit sweltering in the heat are very frustrated and unhappy about that. >> sreenivasan: our conversation is on the rundown. all that and more is on our
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website, newshour gwen. >> ifill: that's the newshour tonight. on tuesday we'll look at president obama as campaigner in chief. ahead of next year's midterm elections. i'm gwen ifill. >> brown: and i'm geoffrey brown. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by bank of america. setting opportunities in motion to help our communities and economy. >> brown: ron. this is the power of human energy. bnsf railway. and the alfred p. sloan foundation, supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations.
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and this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh
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