tv Journal PBS January 10, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm PST
>> reporter: 300 days of violence and counting. a death toll passing 5,000 and mounting. and yet a confident president paraded before his nation and vowed that victory at any price is close. >> this will not be possible unless we hit the murderous terrorists with an iron fist. there will be no compromises. terrorism and no mercy to those who use weapons to create discord and division. >> reporter: the turmoil he blamed on foreign conspiracies, dark forces including the arab league. >> has the league suck seeteded to be independent? as it ever succeeded to realize any of the people's dreams? or has it in fact contributed directly to sowing the seeds of discord and division? >> reporter: as he spoke, these pictures emerged of assad's supporters mobbing a convoy of
arab observers. 11 were hurt. the timing perhaps no coincidence. it was condemned by arab leaders in cairo. but that peace mission is in deep trouble. >> assad's withering attack on the arab league exploiting its divisions and its indecisiveness aims to kill off their attempt to resolve this crisis. and opposition activists who once hoped the world would come to their rescue are losing hope. >> the only way i think that... to really solve this issue would be some sort of intervention. we don't expect anyone wants to intervene. it's just too messy. >> reporter: while the world remains reluctant to act, there's a president who believes he's winning. >> ifill: margaret warner takes the story from there. >> warner: for more on president assad's defiant speech and his fight to maintain his regime we turn to two men who have met and dealt with him.
theodore katuf was u.s. ambassador tsyria from 2001 to 2003 in the early years of assad's rule and andrew cable now a fellow at the washington institute lived in syria for most of the last decade and covered assad for an english language magazine he founded there. welcome to you both. gentlemen, let me begin with you, this speech was 100 minutes long. was it as defiant looked at in its entirety as it sounds? >> yes. it continued the pattern of defiant speeches from president assad. he outright says that you must battle terrorism which is what he called the uprising in syria. it must be dealt with with an iron fist and victory is near. this is very bombastic language and something in a speech that we did not expect. we expected some sort of concessions from assad. he didn't deliver. >> warner: what do you make of "victory is near"? do you think he believes that? what does this say about
psychology. you've met and dealt with him. >> he may well believe it, although he has to be a bit shaken by how long this has gone on given the level of brutality his people have used against the demonstrators but he gained a lot of confidence over the years because he was convinced that the bush administration was gunning for his regime after we went into iraq. he was, of course, allowing infiltration to go on into iraq. you know, when george bush left office, he looked around and he said i'm still here. and he's gone. i must be pretty smart. he became really quite full of himself. he went from being a fellow who was a bit on the self-effacing side to being a fellow who was quite full of himself. >> warner: he had been an ophthalmologist in london. he wasn't supposed to be the hare. then he's thrust into this job. how does the man we're seeing
compared to the man you covered in the last decade which was the first decade of his rule? >> it's interesting what the ambassador is saying. it follows a pattern as well. assad on the surface seems like an after fabl person, speaks ry good english, much different than his father. he seems much more reasonable. the problem is when you leave the room from president assad, the things that he promised to do, either it doesn't happen or he does completely the opposite. this gives him a sort of mad character that really not only confounds his own people but confounded western diplomacy with him extensively and made him very, very different from his father who was able to play off all sides against each other and maintain order in the country. >> warner: and would deliver when he made.... >> correct. very different. >> warner: what about his family? mr. ambassador, one, who does he talk to? who is he surrounded with and what is their mind set? >> well, we can't be 100% sure. but i know for a fact that he
has convened even years ago large family gatherings in which the family business, as we say, would be discussed. there have been reports that his mother, of all people who, you know, the widow, has told him, you know, that he has to stay strong. he has to protect the family. the community, meaning the regime and his father's legacy. never underrate the importance of arab mothers with their sons. ( laughing ) >> warner: but when he came in, people thought he was reformed- minded. he had lived in the west and lived in london. what happened? or did people just read into him, westerners read into him what they wanted to read? >> i think it's a little... i think to some extent he might have thought i can make some cosmetic reforms. i can lighten the image of the regime. i can open things up a bit.
but very much like in "the godfather' where michael corlione may have in the beginning some idea that he can take the family in a different direction, take them out to las vegas, start legitimate businesses, he found out that the system only operates one way: with a strong, ruthless s.o.b. at the top. and that would be him. >> warner: andrew, where does this leave the arab league mission? as we heard he totally trashed the arab league in his speech. >> yeah. what's very interesting is that they basically called it non- objective. he referred to some arab countries, which he means qatar. no way that the report.... >> warner: this is the observer mission, seeing if he was living up to the deal. >> he wasn't living up to the deal. he's not going to be able to live up to the deal. most importantly what this is going to do then is that this is going to throw things perhaps out of the arab league and into
the security council. the question will be, what will a negative report onyria not complying do with the russian veto on the security council in terms of blocking a western-led resolution there to help try and end the fighting. >> warner: how clear is it that the arab league report will be negative, because some of the statements that have come out from them as they've continued this mission have, it seems to strike, you know, criticize both sides and so forth? >> i think after today's speech, a very good probability it will be a very tough report. he stood up there before the world and insulted the saudi leaders, all the gulf cooperation council leaders, basically said they don't have authentic culture. they're not really arabs. without us there is no arab league. there's a foreign league. they're part of a mass conspiracy.
you know, he's done just about everything he can think of to ensure that he's turned these people against him and also raises the question that if he wants to go in exile, who will take him? >> warner: so he seems so confident, as he said, andrew, that the iron fist is going to prevail here. by that he must mean his own military and intelligence services, right? >> correct. >> warner: does he still have pretty much unquestioned loyalty from them? >> well, no. you've had a lot of defections. >> warner: some defections in the military. >> by and large he still commands the authority of the military. under the constitution he directs them. by and large i think he believes that, but the problem that assad has is that this, you know, for this to go on as the ambassador said for ten months is... it is just so troubling to the regime at its core. basically also to say that the iron fist.... >> warner: what do you mean troubling to the regime? >> they've had a very high bar for order in syria. more than three people gathering
on the street was illegal and can be broken up. now tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people sometimes protesting. he's in a real dilemma. the question is, why is it that he keeps on advocating the iron fist with superficial reforms and thinking that that's going to get him out of something? he's been doing that for ten months. it hasn't worked. why does he continue to think it's going to work now? that's the question. >> warner: so very briefly then, today he didn't say, well we're going to have a new constitution and a referendum the first weekend of march. is that just window dressing or is there a prospect he might take some steps that would actually.... >> it's window dressing. this man has not killed people for the last ten months to peacefully transfer power to the opposition. it's totally window dressing. and the young man who was on your set-up for this interview said he really didn't see how the opposition could win without foreign intervention. and sorry to say, i'm not sure i see how the opposition can win. i can see the country descending
into chaos and civil war. >> warner: which is the ultimate nightmare. thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: next, north carolina moves toward compensating victims of a sterilization program that lasted more than four decades. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: north carolina was by no means the only state to have people sterilized against their will. but it was among the most aggressive in pursuing the policy. roughly 7,600 people were sterilized between 1929 and 1974, many of them poor, sick, uneducated, or institutionalized, sometimes through force and coercion. the vast majority of the procedures took place in the years after world war ii, when other states pulled back from such programs. the state apologized for the offenses in 2002. today a task force voted to pay the remaining living victims
$50,000 apiece. we look at the history and today's decision with one of the principal activists working with the state's task force. charmaine fuller-cooper is the executive director of a state foundation for victims of sterilization. >> north carolina first became involved in the whole sterilization procedure at the height of eugenics in america, at the height of eugenics we had approximately over 30 states that had sterilization programs with indiana being the first state. ironically north carolina actually didn't sterilize as many people in the early years like other states but after world war ii north carolina became very aggressive. >> suarez: but after world war ii eugenics, that is, keeping people who are judged to be inferior from having children was thoroughly discredited. how come north carolina continued with the program for almost 30 years? >> you know, it's very unexplainable in north carolina why our program continued for another 30 years after other states had pretty much dismantled their programs.
it's very horrifying and very shocking. that's one of the reasons why north carolina's governor and other people in the state are really working to gain justice for victims now. >> suarez: over the years a lot of state employees, most notably social workers judge people to be feeble minded, epileptic, mentally diseased. were these professionally qualified judgments? were these people who were tested and screened? or just on the say-so of a social worker made unable to have children? >> many people were sterilized based on the statement of a social workers. also many people were given i.q. tests but we have to remember that these i.q.tests were given in north carolina around the time that you had literacy tests being declared unconstitutional throughout the south. >> suarez: you got to know many of the victims over the years.
beyond the medical fact of not being able to be parents, what's the effect been on their lives? >> you know, a lot of the victims are devastated. many of them have had to heal in their own ways. but no victim is the same. many victims have different stories to tell. we have a lot of diversity in north carolina but the common thread is many of them were targeted because of poverty. >> suarez: well, the survivors today, the class that is going to be compensated in this way, what's their age range and what was the range of their ages when they were sterilized? >> the age range of victims today, the youngest victim would be 50 years of age. the youngest victim who was sterilized within north carolina was ten years old at the time of the sterilization. >> suarez: ten years old. can you tell us the story that's involved there. >> no, i don't have his specific story. but the stories throughout north carolina range from people who thought they had their appendix removed and they found out later in life that they were actually sterilized. we also have individuals who they had children as a result of incest or rape and immediately after they had their first child they were raped.
we had a lot of individual who were sterilized as a condition of being released from a state institution. >> suarez: in some cases as a condition so they knew what was happening to them. but for some, as you mentioned, told they were having their appendix out, they didn't know they were unable to bear children until many years later. >> that is true. even many of the people in state institutions didn't really realize the conditions. some were told that they had to have a small procedure before they can come home. for some of them they found out later in life both men and women that that small procedure resulted in a long-term consequence of them never being able to bear children. >> suarez: in this multi-year process how did you finally arrive at the amount of $50,000? and do the victims think it's enough? >> the task force has had a very difficult time with trying to come down to a figure. they wanted to make sure that the public knew that no amount of money would ever compensate a person for their inability to have any more children in the future. but they want to make a huge statement both to north carolina
and to the world that these sterilizations were awful and should never be conducted again. they began looking at the figure of $20,000. some of that figure was looking at what happened after japanese intermentictims were compensated many many years ago and a $20,000 award was given. but ultimately today many of the task force members voted as a majority to recommend $50,000 for all of the living victims of north carolina's sterilization program. >> suarez: some of those people had tried to sue north carolina over the years and were not successful. is this meant to be the end of it? or if someone figures 50 grand is simply not enough for them and they want to continue, can they? >> you know, that would be a question for a lot of the legal experts throughout the nation. two victims did sue the state of north carolina in the early 1970s when a lot of human experimentation was coming to light such as the tuskegee experimentation in alabama. but that's really a question for the legal experts but the hope in north carolina is that
compensation will help to provide some closure. we understand that for many victims there's nothing that will ever completely heal them. they will need a support system for the rest of their lives. but the state of north carolina feels that compensation will go beyond just a verbal apology. >> suarez: beyond the apology and beyond the payment, has this case reopened a conversation in north carolina about the conditions that allowed this kind of thing to happen? >> you know, that has been part of the conversation, but it certainly at the beginning stages to looking at how did this happen in the first place? what happened with eugenics? this also occurred during the time when the great depression had just ended and the united states and a lot of people never recovered after the great depression but for many states eugenics was the solution for poverty. unfortunately north carolina wants to make sure that people recognize that this is not okay. >> suarez: charmaine, fuller- keer, thanks for joining us.
>> back to our coverage of the new hampshire primary, mitt romney has been declared the winter, john huntsman spoke to his supporters at the black brimmer, a restaurant in manchester, new hampshire a short time ago. here is part of what he said. >> our nation's future is how prepared we are to rise up as the american people and hit head on the competitive challenges of the 21st century. you know what i am talking about? >> and this is about economics. and this is about education, and this is going to play out over the pacific ocean with countries that industry lived in before, and all i can tell you tonight, without any hint of hyperbole, folks, if we don't get our act together as home we will see the end of the american century by 25th and we are not going to let
that happen, are we? >> now some final thoughts from shields and brooks, that syndicated columnist mark shields and new york times columnist david brooks. david, you know, john huntsman lost right now it looks like by 20 points to mitt romney tonight yet he said his third place finish was, i mean, to ron paul, anyway he said his third place finish was a ticket to ride to where? >> utah. you know, i just don't see it. just look at the speech he gave. i mean, i followed his campaign in new hampshire a couple of times, he started out as the king of banality and ended as the king of banality, there wasn't an uninteresting cliche speech in the thought. i thought he could have carved out a unique niche. he never had an interesting story to tell. he may go on to south carolina, his father may give him some money to spend on a super pack or something, but you look at the candidate what does he bring
to the table? he had a decent night but i don't see any message especially when the other candidates especially do have messages. >> what do you think about that, mark? >> well, i think that john huntsman was a rambling candidacy, and never really could get a clear sense of whether he was a test run for 16, perhaps even thinking of an independent third party run, but there is no question he got under mitt romney's skin to the point where mitt romney, the most disciplined of all candidates, accused of him almost of being a -- at times. really showed personal peek peek by criticizing john huntsman for having served as ambassador to china while he, mitt romney and others were trying to elect republicans, and it gave huntsman the best moment of his entire candidacy, when he contrasted what he saw, rather self-serving narrow partisanship of not serving your country when asked by a president to
unselfish public service. and that was his magic moment. it happened sunday, and that was it, and i think david is right, there is no place for him to go from here, except to contemplate his future and to try and hone a message. >> obviously, the huntsman people thought they hit on a message there with the country first slogan, they changed a lot of their campaign signs since last sunday to reflect that. i guess they needed more campaign signs. so, david, you know, mitt romney now has been laboring under the idea for some weeks now, months now that anybody but romney, the anybody but romney movement. is that movement still alive tonight? >> there is still some of it but i think you will begin to see emotional builds underneath romney, i think it was helped by the results especially by his speech. i thought his speech was the best he has given maybe this entire cycle. it was focused and energetic and made a clear contrast and he made something big about the kind of capitalism we are going
to have and that is actually a worthy subject for an election this year. he hinged himself directly to one view of that subject, obama can have a different view, other candidates, rick santorum -- i mean ron paul can have a different view but it is a big subject and he lived it, he has commanded it and so i think he will get a much bigger emotional lift out of 37, 38, whatever percent he gets and maybe, than maybe we would have thought because the speech was so good. >> mark, i was really quite struck about the electability factor we saw that surfaced among some voters leaving the polls in which they basically said they could live with mitt romney so maybe that is part of this too. >> i think that he has a great advantage in the sense that most republicans wanted to defeat president obama and that is their overriding concern, obviously the economy and the jobs and deficit as well, but that is what you nights republicans who have major divisions on other issues, is their interest in almost urgency to defeat president obama, and that is mitt romney is now seen
and i think more increasingly will be seen as the candidate with the best chance to do that and as long as he doesn't have a single opponent i think he is in good shape. i mean, they can argue that 63 percent didn't vote for him, or 62 percent, that means 90 percent didn't vote for newt gingrich, 90 percent didn't vote for rick santorum. and so you start making that argument and you are in trouble, the fellow who won, 63 percent didn't vote for him, what about somebody who finishes fifth? >> but when we get back to south carolina, david, are we back to blank slate territory? especially with newt gingrich and rick santorum who are counting on south carolina in much the same way that john huntsman was counting on new hampshire? >> mitt romney did reasonably well four years ago in south carolina and we shouldn't think south carolina is just a socially conservative state, a rick santorum kind of state, it has got a pretty strong establishment main street republican wing, again, don't let the candidates look to the electorate, they are just a lot
more main street republicans than there are social conservatives or libertarians and that is true in just state after state and so as long as he doesn't make a mistake and he is not the sort of person that makes mistakes, he made that one line i like to fire people lines which is a semimistake that was over exploited but he doesn't tend to make mistakes and there are a lot of people just like him in the electorate so you have to think he is sitting pretty. >> mark, he made a couple of other mistakes, he talked about how he had once feared getting a pink slip, i wonder how much of that added to make him more vulnerable, i suppose? >> well, i think the romney people will tell you privately, he does have a tin ear, when he walked into a group of jobless people at a meeting, counseling each other in florida he said, oh, i am unemployed too. his offer to bet $10,000 to rick perry in the debate showed a tin ear, showed this is the man with the $200 million personal
fortune, and just showed insensitivity, corporations are people. those are problems. i mean, that is not a surefootedness in his language. i agree that his speech tonight was infinitely better than the one last week and one of the best i have heard him give, and i think he is in very good shape but he is by no means a complete candidate heading into the fall. >> and somewhat where tonight in the warren of cubicles in chicago, the obama campaign is taking very careful notes. >> david brooks of "the new york times", mark shields, thank you both again. >> thank you. >> on line, we have much more about new hampshire, we have a preview. >> on our home page find rings to an interactive link of results. >> plus patchwork nations breaks down the granite state that romney needs to win tonight on our world page we continue our look at haiti two years after the earthquake with a story on
efforts to move victims out of tent camps into more permanent housing. and we spoke with two brothers in their 90s who still swing for olympic gold every summer and usually win. they share their tips for lifelong fitness on our health page. all that and more is on our web site. >> and that is the news hour for tonight, i am guinn ifill. >> we will see you on line and be here later tonight for a special report on the new hampshire primary result. 11:00 p.m. eastern time and back again tomorrow evening. thanks for watching. good night. major funding major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: 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.
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