tv PBS News Hour PBS June 23, 2011 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: president obama received mixed reaction to his plan to withdraw 33,000 u.s. troops from afghanistan by late next year signaling the beginning of the end of the decade-long war. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the "newshour" tonight, kwame holman reports on the rponse to the president's address from washington to kabul. >> woodruff: and in a newsmaker interview, jim lehrer asks defense secretary robert gates about the drawdown and other issues, as gates wraps up his tenure at the pentagon. >> brown: then, we get the latest on the impasse in the bipartisan deficit negotiations
as lawmakers butt heads over taxes and republicans boycott today's talks. >> woodruff: margaret warner has the story of the arrest of notorious boston crime boss james whitey bulger, one of the f.b.i.'s ten most wanted criminals. >> ♪ i'll eliminate the pages, where the father has a break ♪ down >> brown: and we close with a conversation with music-legend paul simon about his new album and the art of song-writing. >> somehow when the sound seems to be correct in my imagination, the story can begin. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> oil companies make huge profits. >> last year, chevron made a lot of money. >> where does it go?
>> every penny and more went into bringing energy to the world. >> the economy is tough right now, everywhere. >> we pumped $21 million into local economies, into small businesses, communities, equipment, materials. >> that money could make a big difference to a lot of people. >> 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. >> woodruff: reactions poured in today to president obama's announcement that american
forces will begin pulling out of afghanistan. they spanned the spectrum of opinions-- foreign and domestic, from kabul to congress-- after last night's presidential address. >> reporter: from american living rooms to the streets of kandahar to u.s. personnel in the field. the president's speech was followed by millions. the effects will be felt widely as well, with 10,000 americans slated to leave afghanistan by year's end and 23,000 more by the end of 2012. but the president's plan takes out more troops sooner than military advisers had recommended. the chairman of the joint chiefs admiral mike mullen -who retires later this year said as much today to the house armed services committee. >> what i can tell you is the president's decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk than i was originally prepared to accept. more force for more time is
without doubt the safer course, but that does not necessarily make it the best course. only the president in the end can really determine the acceptable level of risk we must take. >> reporter: mullen also said supports the decision. so did nato ally france. in paris, the defense ministry announced the country will begin pulling out its 4,000 troops on a similar timetable. and the british foreign minister said 9,500 british troops will begin leaving afghanistan soon with the entire force expected to be out by 2015. all of that seemed to suit afghan president hamid karzai. he said in kabul his nation's youth will stand up and defend their country. >> ( translated ): the transition of the security and the withdrawal of the foreign troops from afghanistan means the afghan forces must be strengthened, and we are hearing from all over afghanistan that people now have more faith and confidence in their forces. >> reporter: among ordinary
afghans, the impending u.s. pull-out evoked a range of reaction. >> ( translated ): at this time when they leave, afghans will be caught up in civil war again and will not be able to rule the country without the americans. >> the foreigners leave our country because our security can handle the nation. it is good for our nation because we are afghan, we should handle the security and our country. >> reporter: the taliban also reacted to president obama's speech dismissing it as symbolic. a spokesman said, the solution for the afghan crisis lies in the full withdrawal of all foreign troops immediately. but he warned until that happens, the taliban will intensify its efforts. back in washington, secretary of state hillary clinton acknowledged efforts to bring the taliban into the fold. she testified before the senate foreign relations committee. >> united states has a broad range of contacts at many levels across afghanistan and the
region that we are leveraging to support this effort, including very preliminary outreach to members of the taliban. this is not a pleasant business, but a necessary one because >> reporter: clinton said she thought mr. obama had made the right decisions about withdrawal. but among lawmakers, the plan drew fire from those who said it wasn't enough and from those who said it was too much. >> it is insufficient and more of the same. same strategy means the same costs and more casualties in support of a government that is corrupt and incompetent. we've been doing this for ten years. enough. >> america has a vested interest.
that is how we begin to see victory. or we can just give up. >> reporter: the afghanistan plan also had its defenders from republican house speaker john boehner to democratic senator john kerry. >> i've said, since the president took office that if president listens to commanders and his diplomats in the region then i would support his plans. i am generally supportive of plan because there's enough flex in withdrawal to consider conditions on the ground and that's critically important to the long term success here. >> that if you really stop and think about it we have met our major goals as articulated by president. we significantly disrupted al qaeda and dramatically reduced its presence in the country. and the job though not finished
we have come to the point where the mission can transition. >> reporter: the commander-in- chief hoped to make that very point as he visited troops from the army's tenth mountain division today at fort drum, new york. >> last night, i gave a speech in which i said we have turned a corner. where we can begin to bring back some of our troops. we're not doing it precipitously. we're going to do it in a steady way so that all the gains you've brought about are going to be sustained. >> reporter: for now, the president can point to polls that show the public wants to wind down the war, and as he said last night focus instead on nation-building here at home. >> brown: for more on president obama's afghanistan plan, we turn to defense secretary robert gates.
jim lehrer sat down with him at the pentagon a short time ago. >> lehrer: mr. secretary, welcome. >> thank you. >> lehrer: i take it you support the president's decision on the afghan troop withdrawals? >> i do, i do. i think it provides the 2r507s-- we've had a lot of success in accomplishing our mission. we have more work to do. we still have more than half the fighting season this year to go. and this gives us most of next year to both beat back the talib further but also improve the quality and quantity of the afghan security forces. >> lehrer: in the final analysis, as that a difficult decision for the president to make? were there many options on the table for him to choose from? >> there were. there were. in fact, general petraeus himself offered at my request the number of options that began as early as next july, a year from this july. and running into 2013.
so the president had a wide array of options in front of him. >> lehrer: did you have an option? was there a gates option? >> to the going in, no. i-- i was listening and paying attention. and. >> lehrer: well, i heard that coming out that you worked-- you played the role of a compromiser. in other words, a little bit of this, a little bit of that between the two or three factions, am i right about that? >> well, i tried-- i was a strong advocate as i listened to the debate go forward, i became a strong advocate of the end of summer as one that struck a balance, between our military needs and sustainability here at home. >> the, in the summer for what happened at the end of summer, for the surge to come out. >> for the surge to come out. >> i think it's important to remember that will still leave some 68,000 american troops in afghanistan and just as an example, we have increased the size of the afghan security forces by
over 100,000 during the last year. so the whole idea of this strategy from the very beginning was for us to come in heavy with the surge. beat back the taliban momentum in particularly in the south and southwest, helmand, kandahar, that area. get more aggressive in taking on the infiltration routes coming across from pakistan in the east of afghanistan and increasingly partner with the afghan security force, the afghan army. we also have the afghan local police that are developing and are potentially a game changer because they're locals to the villages. so we've seen lot of progress this year. we still have a lot of work to do. there's still a lot of hard fighting to go. but i think we've made-- i think we've made pretty good progress. and the whole idea of this thing has been between now and 2014, the end of 2014 to transition the security lead in afghanistan to the
afghans. it's their country. and i will say say they're fighting and dying for their country. they're dying roughly at a rate two and a half, three times as many soldiers as our coalition. >> did you have the feeling either directly or indirectly from the president that the issue of kind of war fat agency for americans also played a part in this final decision in. >> i think we're all mindful of that. and of the folks sitting around that table, maybe me more than any of them except maybe the chairman or the joint chiefs of staff, mike mullen. have been in this job four and a half years. i took it over when iraq was in really dire straits. so it has been a long haul. but the point i've tried to make to people is they need to understand, i know we talk about a ten-year war in afghanistan. but the truth of the matter is after we ousted the talibanin 2002 and also al qaeda from afghanistan, the
u.s. sort of turned its attention away from afghanistan. and really didn't turn back with the full resources, a full strategy and so on until really early in 2009. >> lehrer: when you leave office which is a week from today, are you going to leave with a feeling of confidence that down the road, this afghanistan mission that the united states and nato are involved in is, in fact, going to be successful? >> it is in my view, if you define success the way i think we should, which is that we have prevented the taliban from forcefully overthrowing, forcibly overthrowing the government of afghanistan. that the afghan security forces can secure their own territory, and prevent al qaeda or other extremist groups from coming back and using it as a safe haven.
i believe that's an achievable mission by the end of 2014. and i think we're making good headway in that direction. anything else that happens, it's like the president said in his speech last night. anything else that happens in terms of goodness, whether it's roads or anything else, frankly is peripheral to at chievement of that fundamental goal. preventing afghanistan from becoming a launch pad for attacks against the united states and our allies and partners. >> lehrer: and you believe there are enough troops after the withdrawals an according to the plan if it goes as scheduled to get this job done? >> absolutely. particularly in combination with the increase in the size of the afghan security forces. >> lehrer: is it correct to characterize this final decision as a compromise between on the one side general petraeus and the military leaders and on the other side vice president biden and some of the democrats in congress and others who wanted a more
escalated withdrawal? is that correct? is that about it? >> i think one reason thattive's maybe been useful to two very different presidents is that i've nefern gotten into who struck john, who's up, who is down, who won, who lost on these kinds of debates. it was a rich debate. the president heard all points of view and he made a decision. >> lehrer: so there was no win never this debate? >> i'll just not go down that road. >> lehrer: okay. finally on afghanistan let me ask you this: what were the realistic chances, realistic chans of somewhere down the line there being a negotiated settlement in this fight with the taliban. >> i think those chances are probably good. >> good. >> i think we have to keep the pressure on the taliban. i think the death of bin laden is a potential help in this respect. there was a personal relationship between bin laden and mullah omar, the head of the taliban. and you know, the taliban
are in the position, one of the things that the afghan government and coalition demand is that the taliban disavow any connection or support with al qaeda going forward. that's one of the red lines. you know f i were a taliban i would say what did al qaeda ever do for me except get me kicked out of afghanistan. the united states wouldn't have gone in to tlofer overthrow the taliban if it hadn't been for al al qaeda launching the the attack for us from there. so i think these very often these kinds of conflicts come to an end through a compromise or through negotiations. and the frut is, you know, if you look at iraq and what happened in an bar-- an buzz bar-- anbar province, we ended up partnering with. >> and you think that's very possible in this case. >> i do. >> woodruff: we'll have the rest of jim's interview with secretary gates coming up. >> woodruff: we'll have the rest of jim's interview with secretary gates coming up. plus, deficit reduction talks at an impasse? 19 years on the lam ends for whitey bulger and the rhythm and
songs of paul simon. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: afghanistan faces a possible constitutional crisis after a special court ruled today that 62 members of parliament were elected by fraud. the tribunal threw out the results in a quarter of last year's parliamentary races. president hamid karzai created the court, after rivals made major gains in the elections. parliament serves as the only check on karzai's authority. four bombs exploded across baghdad today, killing at least 40 iraqis and wounding more than 80. the attacks targeted shi-ite sections of the capital. an american civilian was killed in a separate bombing. the u.s. state department said he was working for the agency for international development. the obama administration has announced plans to release 30 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve. other countries will contribute a like amount, to make up for lost production in libya. the u.s. release amounts to less than two days worth of domestic oil consumption. the announcement sent the price
of oil tumbling more than $4 in new york trading to $91 a barrel. on wall street, stocks were down sharply for much of the day, as oil stocks sank and claims for jobless benefits rose. a late rally cut the losses. in the end, the dow jones industrial average shed 59 points to close at 12,050. the nasdaq gained 17 points to close at 2,686. authorities in minot, north dakota expanded a flood evacuation order today. they said a forced release from a dam upstream on the souris river could push water levels two to three feet higher than initially feared. the new evacuation order came as work crews who piled up earthen levees on wednesday bulldozed more dirt to fend off the surging river. sirens had sounded when the water began pouring in wednesday, and up to 10,000 people-- a quarter of the town-- were forced to flee then. >> i am scared out of my mind. if this house is ruined, it doesn't sound like the landlord
is going to fix it. there's no housing. i have no idea what my family is going to do. >> you know, you losing your house, your life so, it's kind of nervous. kind of scared. we'll get through it. >> sreenivasan: now, with even more people being forced out, with whatever they can carry, there's a critical need for places to stay possibly for weeks. the flooding is the result of a massive late season snow melt in canada. the souris is expected to peak sunday or monday beating the record set in 1881 by seven to eight feet. a possible tornado hit the home of the kentucky derby overnight. several stables were smashed at churchill downs in louisville, kentucky. workers and trainers pulled the horses to safety under stormy skies. fire trucks raced to the scene, but there were no injuries to people or animals. racing could resume tomorrow. generic drug makers cannot be sued over side effects if they use the same warnings as brand- name medicines. the u.s. supreme court handed down that decision today five to four. generics make up 75% of
prescription drug sales in the u.s. the high court struck down vermont's ban on pharmacies selling prescription records to data-mining firms. the court ruled it violates the right to commercial free speech. in syria today, hundreds of government troops massed at a town near the turkish border in a drive to hunt down dissidents. soldiers could be seen patrolling the area in armored personnel carriers. meanwhile, the red crescent reported another 600 syrians crossed into turkey to escape the syrian military action. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: and we return to jim's interview with secretary of defense robert gates on the eve of his retirement after five years at the pentagon. well, let's go to some other subjects now, mr. secretary. libya. what do you think of the talk by some in congress of voting to withhold funds for the execution or further execution of u.s. military operations with nato against libya? >> well, i think it would be
if a mistake. i think under we have our forces engaged, to deny funding for them would be a mistake. these allies, particularly the british, french and italians, for that matte have really been a big help to us in afghanistan. they consider libya a vital interest for them. our alliance with them is a vital interest for us. so as they have helped us in afghanistan, it seems to me that we are in a position of helping them with respect to libya. and to cut off funding for the u.s. forces in that context, i think, would be a mistake. >> lehrer: is-- how close to you think the nato forces to making it are getting rid of qaddafi, just to be straight about it. how close is he to leaving? >>. >> well, i think based on everything we see, the government gets shakier every day.
his forces have been significantly diminished. the opposition is expanding the areas under their control. i don't think anybody can predict when he'll fall or leave. personally my opinion is he won't leave voluntarily but somebody in the army or his family will decide that it's time for a change. >> but until that change comes, there will be no real what you call successful ending to this nato military exercise, correct? >> no, the end of this has to be qaddafi leaving, one way or another. >> what is it, just to ask the question directly, there have been an awful lot of drones that have exploded and other things have exploded in the qaddafi compound and all of that. it's hard for a lot of people to believe that getting qaddafi, the hard way, in other words, killing him is not on the agenda is it not on the agenda, unofficily if not officially? >> i certainly have not been looking at the target list but everything i've been
told is that those are legitimate command and control targets. first of all this is a huge compound. it's not like we're hitting in the villa at abbottabad in pakistan where bin laden was. >> you talked about the in more general terms about the military. you have said in recent interviews you have talked many times that the u.s. military is exhausted. explain what you mean by that. >> well, we have aot of people in the military, particularly in combat arms. who have been on repeated rotations. i run into people routinely who have had three, four, five, six rotations to iraq and afghanistan and they come home for a year. they're deployed for a year. so the strain on them and on their families and while they're home they're preparing to deploy again. and so there's been no real extended period of time. now that's beginning to improve with the drawdown of
100,000 troops in iraq. but it will probably be this fall before most army units get to one year deployed, two years at home. and it's just the reputation-- repetition of this overall these years in iraq and afghanistan that has really taken a toll. but it's also true even of the air force 1/2ee. for example, the air force has been at war since 1991. either desert storm or then enforcing the no-fly zone and then afghanistan, and then iraq and 2003. the navy has been deployed. many of our aircraft carriers which supposed to deploy for six months at a time, six months at home, many of them now have eight and a half month rotations. so people are getting tired. >> you said also that you have become increasingly cautious about the use of military forces that deployment of u.s. forces.
is that the result of this as well? >> well, what i have been trying to describe is that first of all, i would never be cautious if we were attacked or were about to be attacked. i would be the first guy in line saying we must do whatever it takes to deal with this threat. however, where we have an lech difficult opportunity, where we-- an he elective opportunity, where we see a situation where we decide it is in our interest, even if we haven't been threatened to take some action, that is where i think i have become more cautious. >> lehrer: and libya fits that description, does it not? >> that's probably fair. >> lehrer: and you think that this should be u.s. policy to at this stage of the game to be very, very careful and not do any he elective type military action? >> i wouldn't go that far, because you don't know what kind-of--- what kind of situations may emerge-- emerge. and of course ultimately it's the president's decision.
he has to decides what's in our national interest. >> lehrer: mr. secretary, finally, you've also spoken a year or so ago a speech at duke university where you talk about the fact that for most americans, our wars, america's wars have become an abstraction because so few of americans an their families are directly involved. is that hurting us as a country, do you think? >> well, i think that-- i think that it makes most americans, the 99% of americans who are not serves unaware of the strains and stresses on our military families. and so what i have been trying to do and what mrs. biden and mrs. obama and the chairman and his wife, all these folks are trying to do is to try and get that other 99% to, they all say they support the troops.
but it's not just enough to say it. go out and find one of them and give them a job. if they need some repairs on their house, do that. mow the grass. find some action you can take as a citizen who appreciates our military to help those families and particularly the families of those who are deployed. every town in america has somebody from the national guard whose's probably deployed. so there is somebody out there that they can help. and actions always speak louder than words. >> rooney: so you're not suggesting some kind of mandatory national service or something like that that would force people to be more aware of war. >> no. speaking personally, i have always believed that there ought to be some kind of mandatory national service. not necessarily in the military but to show everybody that freedom isn't
free. that everybody has an obligation to the nation as a community. and so it could be military service it could be teaching in rural or poor area thes. it could be nursing. it could be any kind of service projects, the peace corps, whatever. but a period of service working in our national parks or something. but a period of service that basically gives back to the nation that has given its citizens so much. >> lehrer: mr. secretary, much has been said about the last four and a half years as secretary of defense. and a lot of people have been assessing your performance. what do you think of the way you've performed as secretary of state the last-- secretary of defense the last four and a half years? >> well, i would sigh that there's been a lot that's happened over the last four and a half years. i will say that i think that the thing i'm proudest of is what i have been able to do for our prepares.
giving them these heavily armoured vehicles. these mine resistant ambush protected vehicles. giving one hour medivac-- med or less, more reconaissance capabilities to prevent them from being attacked. trying to do whatever was necessary to help them accomplish their mission and come home safely. >> you feel good about what you have done. >> i feel very good about that. >> lehrer: mr. secretary, thank you and good luck. >> thanks very much. >> woodruff: now, the latest on budget deficit talks and the high stakes in play. all week long, both parties have become more entrenched in their public positions. and today negotiations between vice president biden and lawmakers broke down after house majority leader eric cantor and republiican senator jon kyl pulled out over the question of raising taxes. house speaker john boehner later told reporters he agreed that
hiking taxes on anyone was a non-starter. >> listen, we've got to stop spending money that we don't have. and since the beginning, the majority leader and myself along with senator mcconnell and senator kyl have been clear, tax hikes are off the table. >> woodruff: democrats shot back that the republican move toward an impasse was irresponsible and could jeopardize the need to raise the national debt ceiling by august 2nd. here's senate majority leader harry reid this afternoon. >> i think that, you know, we have to act like adults here. we have to do something as senator durbin said by august 2nd. and we're going to do something by august 2nd. but the republicans should stop playing chicken and pushing us too close to that line. it's not doing any good for our country or the world. >> woodruff: both republicans and democrats now say they expect president obama himself to get more directly involved in talks with boehner, reid and others. we look at all this with two reporters closely following the
action at the white house and on capitol hill. lori montgomery of the "washington post" and damien paletta of the "wall street journal." we thank you two for being with us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: damien, i will start with you. did the white house see this coming. did they know it was going to happen. >> the white house knew talks were starting to hit a wall this week. but they planned as recently as last night to continue talks today an possibly even friday. so it really caught everybody by surprise when congressman cantor said this morning he was done talking and it was really up to the president and to the speaker of the house to get over the finish line. >> woodruff: and we should say that just within the last few minutes, vice president biden's office has put out a statement about all this. are we learning anything new from that? >> that's right. it's really the first we've heard from the white house today. the vice president said that he agrees there has to be, you know, top level engagement now. but that the republicans are going to have to agree to some balanced approach that includes taxes. they're not talking about raising tax rates. they're talking about taking
way some tax breaks that they feel like will bring in more revenue and help in these deficit talks. they don't think that because the republicans are talking about might disproportionately hurt the low income and middle class and they want the changes to be spread around. >> lehrer: lori montgomerie, how would you characterize the areas of sticking point disagree here? >> well, i think there are a couple of areas. one obviously is taxes. the republicans have since the beginning said that they are not willing to do any kind of tax increases whether it's, you know, raising taxes on the wealthy which is-- or whether it's closing some of these corporate loopholes like you know preferential treatment of hedge fund managers or you know, preferential treatment for corporate owners of private jets. but there's apparently also an impasse over how to write the spending caps that they want to put on discretionary spending. republicans would like to
take all of those cuts out of domestic agencies. and the white house and democrats are pushing hard for cuts to come from the pentagon as well so there are really a couple of areas here where they have sort of hit a wall and they need some guidance from party leaders. >> woodruff: but we didn't hear about that other part from the republicans today. >> no, we did not. it's a difficult issue for them. because they've got a couple of groups of people in the house. the tea party faction that would have a hard time voting for a debt limit increase under any circumstances. and then there's a large segment of their caucus that can't vote to cut defense spending. so they're caught between a rock and hard place trying to figure out how to put together the votes on this thing. you know, leaving aside the issue of whether or not you raise taxes. it's a difficult math problem for them. >> woodruff: damien what sort of progress have they made? we're hearing the number 2 trillion thrown around. we used to think that was a lot of money but of course
some people are thinking it needs to be 4 trillion that they-- the gap that that they close. >> they say, we hear ranges between 1 to 2 trillion that they agreed to spending cuts and budget changes that would reduce the deficit. but a lot of the democrats say they won't agree to anything unless there is some sort of symbolic tax change on the table. you know, if they are goinging to agree to changes in medicare, big entitlement programs that a lot of the country feels strongly b they want to see some kind of compromise from the other side. so 2 trillion does seem like a lot but in the scheme of things it's not enough to punt a dent in the trajectory of the debt that is supposed to grow. a lot say we need to talk about 4 to 5 trillion in reduction to get things under control. >> does it seem to you that republicans feel they may have an upper hand here to some extent because they were the ones who pulled out and said we want the democrats to move? >> that's kind of the sense we had today. was that republicans were in the drivers seat. that they felt like you know, they've put their proposal
out there they're willing to, you know, they already have these agreements on certain cuts so the deal is there for the white house to take or not. they said no tax increases. now you know, we're not that far away from that august 2nd date that folks have been talking about. and the idea was to have a deal brought to the white house. to almost finish by july 1st which is pretty much they have to have everything by next week. it doesn't look like when philosophical questions like taxes are completely unresolved. >> lori montgomery, you mentioned how tough it is to get the different factions in each party together on this. you were talking about the republicans. is there a sense that there is give on bothides? that we're just not-- that isn't above the surface at this point? >> that's really hard to see at this point. i mean the senate republicans in particular have been very clear that they feel like the give that they're giving is the vote
for the debt limit increase. polls show that increasing the debt limit beyond 14.3 trillion is hugely unpopular. now both parties have played a large role in running up this debt. but they are seeing this as obama's problem so the give we they are giving is we'll help you solve-this problem but we want to get something in return. and that something is massive spending cuts, not tax increases. >> so does that give as i was just asking sdam yen, does that give republicans to some degree the upper hand here? >> well, they certainly seem to think so. but at the same time polls indicate that more people feel like, you know f this fails, if things break down, it will be the fault of congressional republicans rather than president obama. i mean it's true that raising the debt limit is hugely unpopular. but polls indicate that people also think that rich people could pay more in taxes. so you know, both parties
are in a little bit of a box. >> damien, do you see any evidence of give on either side? >> it's interesting. they had a meeting on capitol hill, vice president biden and a lot of lawmakers. it was a really, i hear, ugly meeting, one of the worst so far in the process. and less than two hours later you have the speaker of the house, john boehner rushing up to the white house to talk to the president. so there is an op line of communication. i think the gravity of the situation isn't lost on anyone had. they do want to talk lieu this. the question is who is going to blink. on some of these major issues that everyone in the country cares deeply about whether it is taxes or entitlement programs. >> woodruff: maybe that golf game made a difference that they played together. >> that's right wrz does everything go from here? are they-- is there a plan for them to meet together again? >> i think it's very unclear. i mean we're told, the republicans say that the line of communication as damien pointed out have been open between mcconnell's office, boehner's office and
the white house. there's no meeting scheduled for tomorrow. they had been planning to talk next week. i think that's all up in the air. and as boehner said today, it's the president's next move. they've sort of got to decide how and when and whether this rolls forward. but it's clear that everyone is still very much at the table and engaged. >> and biden's statement today, the vice president's statement sounds like they're looking for the other sideto move. we shall see. >> a lot-of-folks might say we've seen in movie before with the government shutdown that went down to the last second and finally someone blinked. the difference here is that there is a lot of concern that wall street might become really concerned that there is not going to be a deal, the stock market might plunge and that will precipitate some sort of action. >> woodruff: it's not as if nothing's at stake. >> that's right. >> and compared to the cr, we're getting to the impasse sooner, maybe this is good new, we've still got a month. >> woodruff: that is one way
to look at it. lori montgomery, damien paletta, we thank you both. >> thank you. >> brown: james "whitey" bulger- - one of the fbi's most wanted and a legendary boston crime boss is a fugitive no more. margaret warner has the story. >> warner: he's been in hiding for 16 years, but james "whitey" bulger -- wanted for 19 murders- was finally apprehended last night at this apartment complex in santa monica, california. today, in boston, u.s. attorney carmen ortiz celebrated the end of the long manhunt for the city's mythic gang leader. >> and this is a great day for boston's law enforcement community. >> warner: over the years, tips placed bulger around the country, and the world. but earlier this week, the f.b.i. renewed efforts to find him, and his longtime girlfriend, catherine greig. a public service announcement,
running in 14 cities where the couple was thought to have ties focused attention on greig. >> have you seen this woman-- the fbi is offering $100,000 for tips. >> warner: it worked. on wednesday, a tip pointed to the santa monica apartment. >> although there are those who have doubted our resolve, at times, over the years, it has never wavered. we followed every lead, we explored every possibility and when those leads ran out, we did not sit and wait for the phone to ring. >> warner: for decades, bulger had been the reputed leader of the irish mob in south boston and an f.b.i. informant. his alleged brutality inspired jack nicholson's character in the mob movie "the departed." >> swear on your mother's grave! >> warner: bulger disappeared suddenly in 1995, after being tipped off by his fbi handler of his pending indictment on racketeering charges. now, at age 81, he will finally face murder charges in boston, and in oklahoma city and miami.
for more on whitey bulger's criminal career and larger-than- life aura in boston, we turn to dick lehr, an attorney and former reporter for the "boston globe." he is author of "black mass: the irish mob, the fbi, and a devil's deal." he currently teaches journalism at boston university. welcome. tell us a little more about whitey bulger what put an irish wob ster on the fbi most wanted list with a bin laddern. >> it is an epic story. the first piece was that he was a crime boss of the irish gang in boston overseeing the underworld for nearly two decades. but the big piece is that he is at the centre of the fbi's worst informant scandal in its history. in the mid 1970s when with he agreed to provide information for the fbi, he quickly turned the tables and compromised a handful 6
agents in boston. they in effect became his private security team, keeping him posted on activities in law enforcement that was trying to catch him. tipping off the names of people who were trying to inform on him. some of these people ended up dead. so it's a long and dark and dirty story. >> warner: how did he corrupt the bureau. was it with money? with the value of his information? because he was trying to help them roll up the italian mafia in boston, right, or new england? >> yeah, this really involves the history here. we're talking about the mid 1970s when an agent by the name of john connolly, grew newspaper south boston. there was a personal relationship involved that goes back to their boy hood, whitey bulger was older than john conoll yrk. and when he was a agent there was a premium in developing informants and john conolly turned to whitey bulger. he said join us and it will
work for both of us. we can go after the lnc, the mafia in the north end of the city. but again it quickly turned where bulger compromised conolly and through him other agents so they were working for him. >> warner: he had a brother who was leader of the massachusetts senate, very powerful but on the law-abiding side. how did they choose different paths? >> yeah, i mean you're referring to bill bulger who for many years was the most powerful politian in massachusetts as president of the state senate. and this is one of those great boston stories. a tale of two brothers, there is younger bill who went to boston college and law school and became a politician and whitey, they grew up in the same bedroom in a housing project in south boston who went in a different direction. to be honest, and candidate-- can dad, they shared a lot of the same personality traits in terms of intimidation but bill bulger stayed inside the lines at the state house and
ran the show there in a different way than his brother don't streets. >> warner: now then he disappears. whitey bulger in '95. what did that do to his reputation in boston? his aura. >> well, going back to the first chapter of his reputation, for the longest time he was perceived as kind of a lovable gangster from south boston, a robin hood who looked after his neighborhood. and it was a public image that was promoted by his handler, his corrupt handler at the fbi john conolly who maintained many relationshippings with reporters. by the time he takes off in 1995, all this has washed away. the horrible truth has been tumbling out for, in court hearings and other cases and in journalism in the city. and so by this time, you know, the mythology was gone. and it just added to the cynicism in the city that yet again he was tipped off. he got ahead of everybody and for 16 years, he has been on the run.
>> warner: so what does his capture mean forboth the fbi and for boston? >> well, let's start with the fbi. ever since he ran in janry of 1995, there has been a huge cloud over the boston office of the fbi. on top of the corruption that had spilled out. so for the fbi it was really important that they be part of his capture today, yesterday and today, and hopefully to move forward. and to get past all the talk that has been, the watercooler talk of this city and beyond in law enforcement circles. where is whitey? is the fbu really want to get him or are they still trying to protect him? the fbi can now begin to hopefully move past that. as far as boston, just a huge collective sigh of relief. i mean anybody in the city, and particularly in his neighborhood who had a family member who was killed by him, who was intimidated by him, shaken down, you know, finally this guy who
was at the centre of it all, you know, is going to be coming back to boston and go to court. it's long overdue but here it is. >> warner: dick lehr from boston, thank you so much. >> you're welcome >> brown: finly tonight: from the "sound of silence" in the '60s to "so beautiful or so what" today. recently, i sat down with legendary song-writer and performer paul simon. >> i'm going to make a chicken gumbo. toss some sausage in the pot. >> brown: on the title track of his new album, "so beautiful or so what." 69-year-old paul simon is still turning playful phrases and examining life through song. >> ♪ i'm going to tell my kids a bedtime story ♪ a play without a plot will it have a happy ending?
♪ maybe yeah, maybe not >> brown: several generations of fans have grown up memorizing simon's songs, so it comes as something of a surprise to learn that when he writes it's rhythms and sounds that usually come first, not the words. >> somehow when the sound seems to be correct in my imagination, the story can begin. i don't know what i'm going to write when i begin to write. it feels like you are walking down a path but you don't, you can't see around the bend and you don't know where you are going to go. which is fun. >> brown: by this point, of course, paul simon has iconic stature. in 2007, he was named the first winner of the library of congress' gershwin prize for
popular song and he has grammys and honors galore. but he's also still the kid from queens who teamed up with his childhood friend artie to form simon and garfunkel. ♪ and produced songs that helped define an era. ♪ the duo split in 1970 and from then on simon has recorded 12 solo albums. ♪ he's continued to make rock 'n roll history with the likes of the 1986 album, "graceland," recorded with south african musicians. ♪ his two mammoth concerts in new york's central park-- here in 1991 and one ten years earlier with garfunkel-- drew hundreds of thousands. ♪
the new album recorded at his home studio in connecticut is filled witreferences to god and mortality, sometimes serious, as on "getting ready for christmas day." ♪ sometimes, as in "the afterlife", laced with humor with heaven a bureaucratic nightmare. >> ♪ you have to fill out a form first ♪ and then wait in the line >> brown: when we met recently during a tour stop at washington's d.a.r. constitution ha, i asked simon if the heavy subject matter just might be related to the fact that he's about to hit 70. >> it's more like 70 is about to hit me. well, i suppose there's a connection. but it wasn't intentional. i was surprised myself after i'd written the first six songs that five of them seemed to have god or some reference, like to
christmas, "getting ready for christmas day." >> brown: you were surprised yourself? >> i wondered what was going on and, you know, part of what i write i recognize as being related to somebody that i know or something that happened to me. and part of what i write i don't recognize until a long time passes and then i say, oh, that's what that was about. ♪ >> brown: while simon tours with an eight piece band, several of the new songs, like "questions for the angels", were written simply, with just a guitar like the old days. >> simon and garfunkel songs, they were all written just with a guitar. but they weren't as rhythmic. well, a couple of them were. i mean, "mrs. robinson." mrs. robinson was off that lick. ♪
>> brown: the lick came first? >> yeah. ♪ >> brown: "mrs. robinson" is of course just one of so many of simon's songs that evoke deep memories, even nostalgia, for millions of people. so i asked the man himself if he spends much time looking back to earlier days. >> not really, if at all it would be prior to the '60s, it would be for the 50s, you know around the age of young teenager, 13 to 15, everything i heard then that i absorbed so thoroughly and completely. >> brown: and what comes to you about then? >> oh, i just see pictures, mental pictures of myself and my neighborhood that i grew up in and, like well yesterday,
i was coaching my son's little league team. he's just 13, he was playing centerfield, which is where i used to play. and he kind of looks like me at 13-- you know, a little bit better looking-- but there he was in centerfield. it was so clear the recollection. ♪ ♪ i've been working on my rewrites, that's right ♪ i'm gonna change the ending >> brown: in "rewrite", one of the songs on his new album, paul simon creates a character who decides he's going to go back and rewrite his own life story to make it all turn out better. >> ♪ i'll eliminate the pages where the father has a breakdown ♪ and he has to leave the family but he really meant no harm ♪ gonna substitute a car chase and a race across the rooftops ♪ when the father saves the children ♪ and he holds them in his arms.
>> brown: we all have the desire at times, the song suggests. but on this day, the song writer says he's content with how things have worked out. >> i wouldn't rewrite. i wouldn't change anything. even the mistakes. because you never know what you are changing, and change it for what? you know, things turned out pretty well and i really can't complain about much. >> brown: and you still enjoy this: writing songs? making albums? being on the road? >> oh yeah, i'm very lucky that i really enjoy it and always have. you know, it's what i wanted to be when i was 12. and i've remained that person in a lot of ways. >> brown: paul simon is on the road playing songs new and old around the world throughout the summer.
>> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: president obama received mixed reaction to his plan to withdraw 33,000 u.s. troops from afghanistan by late next year. on the "newshour", defense secretary gates said he thinks and key republicans pulled out of deficit reduction talks led by vice president biden. they blamed democrats for demanding tax hikes. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the ewshour" online. hari? >> sreenivasan: ray suarez reports from indonesia on the condition of many mentally ill patients he saw confined in cages without proper treatment, and misunderstood by society. as part of our "patchwork nation" collaboration, dante chinni looks at public perceptions of the troop drawdown in afghanistan. spencer michels has a blog post on how californians view their state legislature.
and, on our health page, a new study found that obesity in babies often leads to obesity in adulthood. we provide tips from experts for raising a healthy baby. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. judy? >> woodruff: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: and by 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. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for
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