tv PBS News Hour PBS July 27, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. president obama led a chorus of concern over the huge disclosure of classified u.s. military documents about the war in afghanistan. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour tonight, two takes on the document dump. first, senators jack reed and kit bond assess what it could mean for the war effort. >> lehrer: then, judy woodruff talks to david leigh of the "guardian" and media watcher alex jones on the journalism impact. >> ifill: holly pattenden of "business monitor international" in london looks at the corporate shake-up at b.p. >> lehrer: tom bearden reports
from the alabama gulf coast on kenneth feinberg and the complicated mission of compensation. >> and the lead is still tied up they still compensation hasn't been forth coming. >> when i was a young person working in these places, didn't see a way out. and i certainly didn't think the way out would be this. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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. >> lehrer: the big release of afghan war documents continued to rocket through official
washington today. newshour correspondent kwame holman begins our coverage of the wikileaks story. >> reporter: as u.s. troops prosecuted the war in afghanistan today, officials past and present worried about the effects of wikileaks making all that material public. the chairman of the u.s. joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mullen, warned there's a real potential threat to put american lives at risk. former cia director michael hayden says the taliban will be able to figure out who was in the room when operations were discussed. marine corps general james maddux echoed those concerns in the senate confirmation hearings. he's been nominated to oversee the operations in afghanistan and iraq. >> i just thought it was a -- just an appallingly irresponsible act to release this information. it didn't tell us anything that
i have seen so far that we weren't already aware of. i have seen no big revelations. one of the newspaper headlines was that it was the war is a tense and dangerous thing. well, if that is news, i don't know who it's news to that's on this planet. >> reporter: at the white house, president obama also lamented the leak while playing down any effect on his war policy. >> while i'm concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is, these documents don't reveal any issues that haven't already informed our public debate on afghanistan. indeed, they point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall. >> reporter: the data released by wikileaks on sunday night spanned january of 2004 to december 2009, right before president obama stepped up the u.s. troop commitment in afghanistan.
they raised new questions about pakistan's reliability, about afghan corruption and about civilian deaths. but mr. obama said today all those things already have been taken into account. >> that's why we have substantially increased our commitment there, insisted upon greater accountability from our partners in afghanistan and pakistan. developed a new strategy that can work and put in place a team including one of our finest generals to execute that plan. now we have to see that strategy through. >> reporter: the president won support on that point from republican senator john mccain at the confirmation hear inghearings. >> the wick i cakileaks leak is part of the concerted history and that's why we need to make changes to our
strategy in afghanistan, to increase our commitment of troops and resources and to bring new and better leadership to the mission. >> reporter: meanwhile, john kerry, chairman of the senate foreign relations hearing, cautioned against overreacting wikileaks. >> i think it's important not to overhype or get excessively excited about the documents. these documents appear to be primarily raw intelligence reports from the field. and as such, anybody who's dealt with those kinds of reports knows some of them are completely dismissable, some of them are completely unreliable, some of them are very reliable. but raw intelligence needs to be processed properly. >> reporter: that was a step back from kerry's initial statement that the documents raised serious questions about the u.s. policy. but congress confronts the rising u.s. casualties in the war, and growing unease among
democrats about the u.s. role in afghanistan. and coincidentally, the house faced a vote today an a new war funding bill. that $60 billion bill needed a two thirds majority under house rule, and the wikileaks controversy colored the debate. dennis kucinich of ohio said now is the time for the strategy to change. >> our troops are being placed in mortal peril, countless innocent civilians are being killed by mistyke and the afghanistan government which is hopelessly corrupt, the pakistan intelligence collaborating with the taliban against the u.s., the pentagon understating the firepower of the insurgents, a top pakistani general visiting a suicide bombing school monthly, when we go deeply into the war despite an abundance of information that it's time to get out? >> reporter: to offset the aftertio
affections in their ranks they had to rely on the republicans. >> to pass this would result in severe consequences to our military departments. last thursday undersecretaries of the army, navy and air force testified at our committee without this supplemental, their services are dangerously close to the point of having to furlough department of defense employees. >> reporter: as the discussions continued on the leak and its effects on war policy, the u.s. policy focussed on finding the source. a pentagon spokesman said a robust investigation is underway. >> we get the reactions of two united states senators, move republican kit bond is vice chairman of the select committee on intelligence. democrat jack reed of rhode island serves on the senate armed services committee. senator, welcome. senator reed first. do you agree with president obama that these documents didn't reveal anything that wasn't already part of the
debate about afghanistan? >> they did not reveal any new revelations. we have known for a long time that there was corruption in afghanistan. that there was the issue of collateral civilian casualties. we also understood that there was an ambiguous relationship between the isi, the pakistani intelligence service and some of our opponents in afghanistan. it did not reveal anything that was not known and responded to by the president in his policy announced at west point last fall. >> senator bond, do you agree with that? >> yes, i do. frankly, we had been following what went on in afghanistan and pakistan. and in the fall of 2008, my minority staff and the intelligence committee drafted a 12-page document saying we needed a new plan, and we submitted it to the president elect, the secretary of defense and we're very pleased that
general petraeus, secretary gates and president obama adopted a very similar plan because we knew we had to change what was going on. when we drove the taliban out of afghanistan, we relied on nato. unfortunately, the nato partners were not sufficiently organized and directed to maintain security there and the situation had deteriorated. that's why we needed a new strategy. the new troops that president obama committed, and two good generals, general petraeus has now taken over and we have seen he has been very successful in iraq. and we believe he must be in afghanistan. >> senator reed, what did you think, what do you think of this huge release of these documents? >> well, first, i think we have
to visit -- vigorously investigate the source because it represents a breach and particularly if the source is an active duty military person , that undercuts the notion of loyalty, fidelity and professional standards. so we have to investigate very vigorously. >> excuse me, that's the allegation, a 22-year-old u.s. army soldier, intelligence analyst, gave this stuff to wikileaks and that's what started all this? >> well, there's an allegation that he released a tape about it -- about an attack in iraq, and the investigation now is whether it went much further. but the suggestion that american military personnel would be leaking this goes to the issue of the appropriate military standards that we have to insist upon. so this investigation has to be very serious. the other aspect of this, and senator kerry eluded to it, this is raw intelligence.
some of -- the authors itself will say it's just their view, may not be even accurate as they would wish. and just the simple release of all the documentation doesn't give a full, complete and picture of what's going on. it gives snapshots, and so that itself is disturbing. but again, i don't think there's anything here that was not known, not discussed and not based and -- and not a subject of the review by the president last year. >> senator bond, you said at this -- at the senator -- i mean, at the general maddus hearing, this is an act of irresponsibility to release this. i assume you hold to that? >> that's the armed services committee, that's probably john -- >> i'm sorry, my notes are wrong here, okay. >> so as far as it's gone, i agree with what's been said. it is absolutely astounding, very troubling, that somebody in the pentagon, during a time of
war, would make the effort to gather and release 90,000-plus documents. i think this calls into question the general seems to be parlor game mentality and too much of washington, that it's a risk free effort to leak sensitive documents. there is one nsa employee who's being prosecuted, but we need to see a lot more people in orange jumpsuits because these leaks can significantly imperil our troops in the field, our allies and harm our national security. that's what the 911 commission said, and when i interviewed general mike hayden several years ago before his confirmation as director of the cia, i asked him about the leak of information including the president's
surveillance program and he shook his head and said, now, we're only catching the dumb terrorists. when we start leaking sensitive and particularly top secret and classified -- highly classified information, which give our enemies all the tools they need and we send a message to our allies that we can't be trusted with their secrets so they're less likely to share with us. which is a disaster all the way around. >> senator reed, you mentioned senator kerry and we mentioned this all in the set-up piece, he said something today but he did say that the documents raise questions about the reality of america's policy toward pakistan and afghanistan. do you agree with that? >> well, they raise questions in a time period of the documents, which is roughly 2005 to 2009, the end of 2009. but i just returned from
pakistan along with -- and afghanistan, along with senator levin, and the policy now is much clearer. the pakistanis have taken some significant steps to go against the internal enemies of the state of pakistan terrorists. we have to encourage them to go much further. they have also allowed a much more aggressive approach by american predators and drones which are targeted at key terrorist leaders, al qaeda and other terrorist groups. that's something that the president -- president obama has undertaken with much more -- much more alacrity than president bush even. so they have made steps, but until they follow through completely we still have suffering in afghanistan from some of the terrorist groups. the point we tried to make, this not just in our interests, but in their long-run interests. so i believe that these revelations might have refocussed the debate, provided the details, but they have not
seriously questioned the strategy that is being undertaken right now. that's ensuring that we are able to protect the population, but rapidly. in fact, the president has announced a july 2011 transition point, build up the afghani forces and cooperate with the regional forces so we can focus longer term on counterterrorism. >> senator bond on that issue, your own views aside and what senator reed said aside, that this -- that the fact of these documents and the big splash they have made in the -- on the front pages of newspapers all over the world is going to affect u.s. policy and -- towad afghanistan and pakistan and should it? >> i don't think it should affect our policy as both senator reed and i have said. we know that we needed to do more. we had to develop a new strategy. the surge and the new -- and the new
strategy brought by general mcchrystal and now general petraeus are essential. there's a lot more need to do. we need to help build stronger afghanistan base. that's why we sent our missouri national guard and now about eight other national guards to help them develop the sound agriculture. but the one point that i am concerned about is saying that 2011 we will begin withdrawing . that sends -- that sends the note to our allies that maybe you ought to be working with the taliban more closely, because if the united states pulls out without adequate reinforcement to the afghan and even to the pakistan troops, we may see the taliban retake control of afghanistan and really threaten the government in pakistan. in which case our national security would be severely impaired. and saying that there's going to be a 2011 withdraw date allows the taliban, al qaeda and all of the other
elements in there to lay long-term plans. they have calendars too. and if they think they're going to have a wide-open field in 2011, they will be ready to act if and when we do pull out our troops, if adequate security base has not been build. >> senator reed, do you share senator bond's concern about the 2011 date? >> no, i don't, i think it's necessary. and first, it dispels the argument that the taliban has made that we are another occup occupying force just like the soviets. that's not the case at all. second, it provides the impetus to the afghani national army and their police forces to begin to take up their responsibility. ultimately, this battle has to be won by the afghani, not by the united states. and we have seen progress in that regard with respect to the afghani national forces.
in kandahar, for the first time we began to sense that afghani national army and national police are in the fight, they're working together with our forces. we visited a check point, and the national police in afghanistan are working together, with the battalion commander of the 2508 said that they have an effective relationship and there's a mutual respect. i don't think that wouldn't have been the case that our stay is not indefinite, that we are going to make a transition. not a withdrawal, a transition based on the conditions on the ground. tha that's going to take place. i think it's essential to reassure the american people that we have a strategy not to indefinitely commit ourselves to this effort. but to bolster the afghani forces, to bring them to the fuente where they can take the fight and ultimately the reality is if they have to fight the
fight and win the war because it's for the future of afghanistan. >> well, finally then senator reed, do you think that the documents are going to shake you mentioned the public opinion -- it will shake public opinion or change it any way toward the war? >> i don't think fundamentally reshape opinion. i think there are serious questions. >> we're already there. >> they're already there. but i think the best response to the questions are what the president has done. carefully articulated a new strategy, resource that strategy and insist that the afghanis basically and very quickly take up the fight. >> final word, senator bond, briefly, that this is a storm over the documents is going to pass? is that essentially what you're saying as well? >> i hope so, and i believe that senator reed had a much more nuanced discussion of the "transition". i think we're going to want to get out, we have to rely on afghanistan. but when the president's close
advisers said it was a hard withdrawal, that is a red flag and a danger signal that i wish everybody was more nuanced as senator reed has been. >> all right, senators, got it. thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> ifill: still to come on the newshour, b.p.'s executive overhaul; oil spill compensation; and what wikileaks means for journalism. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: the u.s. defense department cannot account for nearly $9 billion earmarked for rebuilding iraq. the money came from sales of iraqi oil that the u.s. was allowed to tap. a special inspector general reported today there's no way to trace much of the spending. he blamed shoddy recordkeeping. the oil funds are separate from the $53 billion allocated by congress for rebuilding iraq. a campaign finance bill stalled in the senate today. republicans blocked a bid to advance the legislation. they said it would violate free speech rights.
democrats said it was necessary to make interest groups disclose their donors if they run attack ads. earlier this year, the supreme court allowed corporations and unions to give direct support to candidates for federal office. wall street had a muted day after consumer confidence fell more than expected this month. the conference board, a business research group, said the index is now at the lowest since february. the dow jones industrial average gained 12 points to close at 10,537. the nasdaq fell eight points to close at 2288. another oil well is leaking in the gulf of mexico. a barge struck an abandoned well along the louisiana coast today. a plume of oil and gas spewed into the air after the accident. a cleanup company dropped protective boom around the site, but a mile-long slick was already in the water. the oil hindered boat traffic, including vessels fighting the big spill far out in the gulf. and in southern michigan, crews worked to clean more than 800,000 gallons of oil that fouled the kalamazoo river. it leaked from a pipeline. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: next, big moves at
b.p., and what it could mean for the company and its future in america.m- 9 days after the oil began to gush, the ceo tony hayward will step down october 1. in a statement hayward said the company's response to the spill was a model of good social corporate responsibility. but he also called the accident itself a terrible tragedy for which the -- as being the man in charge when its happened will feel a deep responsibility, regardless of where blame is ultimately found to lie. hayward gets a year's salary, $1.6 million, plus millions more in pension payouts. and a new position with bp's joint venture in russia. but chairman karl henrik bonnberg said it's not a golden parachute. >> he's accumulated his pension
over almost 30 years like any other employee. >> and hayward accumulated heavy criticism with statements like these. >> i want my life back. >> the environmental impact has been very, very modest. >> last month, he was recalled to london headquarters and replaced in the gulf by american bob dudley who now takes over as ceo. >> i think we can do a lot better here. >> dudley is originally from mississippi sand the first non-briton to become chief executive at bp. he spoke alongside hayward and feinberg this morning. the spill has been a wake-up call for the entire industry. >> well, there's no question we're going to learn a lot from the accident in the gulf coast. it will be about equipment, people, different companies. and as a result of that, we're going to learn a lot. both bp and the industry. >> dudley faces the challenge of repairing the battered oil giant's image, especially in the united states. as part of the company shakeup,
dudley will oversee the sale of $30 billion in as sets over the next 18 months. the disaster in the gulf has cost the company $32 billion in clean-up and compensation so far, but it's writing off the costs against u.s. taxes. a $17 million loss for the second quarter. the clean-up continues in the gulf where bp crews are expected to try next week to plug the ruptured well once and for all. more now about what's behind the changes at bp and what lies ahead. that comes from holly pattenden at busins monito international, a risk consulting firm. for the record, bp is one of many clients that seeks information from her firm. welcome, ms. pattenden. >> thank you. >> what can you give us of the significance in change of leadership at bp? >> the most important aspect is that tony hayward is going.
he's been so unpopular because of the impression he's given, both with the u.s. government and with the broader u.s. public. and this change of leadership is really a way to try and restore bp's reputation in the u.s. >> so is his departure more about show, the pr image war or the substance of change in direction for bp? >> i think it's both. certainly bob dudley's tact and diplomacy are going to stand in his favor when he has the enormous task of rebuilding bp's reputation with investors and the public. but also, he's going to have to bring in really quite broad reforms to bp. one of which is going to be making safety absolutely paramount in all concerns of the company. >> we heard today also about this incredible third quarter $17 billion third quarter loss. was the timing of hayward's departure and dudley's arrival, were those two things related?
>> yes, i think they most certainly were. it was important that such a -- after such a catastrophic loss that bp was being seen to make broad and important changes to the way that the company works. and i definitely think that they were timed to come together. >> tell us what you know about bob dudley and how significant it is that they omoted an american now. >> it's very significant. they have never had a foreign ceo before, so a big change for bp. it is important that he's american, obviously, but also he was born in new york, but raised in mississippi. so he's got very intimate knowledge of the gulf area of the u.s. and that's certainly seen as an asset for if future of his position at bp. >> what kind of fiscal shape -- is it possible to know what kind of fiscal shape overall bp is in? >> yes. i mean, it's obviously made the provision of $32 billion for --
for clean-up costs and compensation. it can meet that bill. it's going to sell a huge amount of assets, about $30 billion worth of assets. it's also got quite a lot of cash flow. i think it's still going to be in fairly strong financial shape even after this disaster. >> when they say they're going to sell $30 billion in assets does that mean that assumes how much it will all cost? does that mean there will be assets sold in the future? >> yes, well, they have provided for $32 billion on their balance sheet today from the results. but that cost is predicated on the fact that they will not face charges. if they were to face criminal charges of gross negligence in relation to operating the rig, then we could see that cost almost doue. so some analysts are suggesting a bill of up to $60 billion. >> so other costs down the road, the dividends -- the shareholders ought to be aware of potentially?
>> yes. its difficult to work out what the potential liabilities could be, because there are so many class action lawsuits in preparation, in the making. so we can't work out exactly what bp's end liability is going to be. but important to be aware of the risks that it could be significantly larger than what they've provided for so far. >> at the same time, there was a kerfuffle as to whether bp would paout money to the shareholders, and today they lifted the freeze they put on the dividends after that broke out. is that something that will mollify the shareholders or something that made people more uncomfortable? >> i doubt it will mollify shareholders in particular, because most shareholders own bp for the dividends. there are 18 million britons who are exposed to bp through the pension funds and it's not going to mollify them, but i think it will mollify the broader market
and the u.s. government and public. so bp is probably unlikely to pay into them in 2011. >> you talk about mollifying the u.s. government and americans living in the gulf. part of the announcement today was also that bp would deduct the cost of the clean-up from its u.s. tax payments. is that likely to mollify or is that likely to inflame people who have been watching how bp has been managing its finances? >> i imagine it will probably create more ill-will in the short term. certainly that's the way, there's a lot of media reporters who have presented this story. nonetheless, when the company makes massive losses, obviously it doesn't pay as much tax as it was when its's making -- it's making large profits. under u.s. law, a company is allowed to reclaim 35% of its tax bill in the event of significant losses like this. so it's normal corporate practice to do so.
although, yes, it has been presented in a bad light by many media reporters. >> so what about the timing of the well cap, could they have moved tony hayward from the position, bob dudley into the new position, could they have made the decision about selling assets if they did not have the well capped? >> the capping of the well is an important development. that means there's no more oil or gas leaking into the gulf. however, the disaster is not coming to an end until the well is plugged and cementing which is happening with the drilling of the first relief well when it hits the target towards the first week of august. but certainly they needed to wait until the immediate disaster was over in terms of having capped the well before they made an announcement about getting rid of the ceo. although the change won't take effect until october. >> is bp a crippled company or
is it still a strong company in spite of all these problems? >> bp has a very strong asset base, spread across around 80 countries. they have assets worth around $250 billion, so while this is an absolute disaster financially and reputationly, i think they can survive in the long run. >> holly pattenden, thank you for joining us. >> lehrer: and on b.p. and compensation claims, much of b.p.'s financial loss today was from current and future claims. the head of the gulf compensation fund insisted to congress today that he will remain independent when handling those claims, even though b.p. will pay him a salary. but the toughest questions about claims are awaiting him along the gulf coast. correspondent tom bearden reports from bayou la batre, alabama.
>> reporter: kenneth feinberg kept telling the people who came to this public meeting saturday that he is their lawyer. >> i'm here primarily to to what you want to tell me about this oil spill. and your claim. >> reporter: he's been having similar sessions all along the gulf coast. this one was in alabama, a town of about 3,000 that calls itself the seafood capital of the state. feinberg has the awesome responsibility of eventually deciding who will be able to tap the $20 billion fund set up to pay for losses from the massive oil spill in the gulf of mexico. and how much they'll be paid. >> if $20 billion is not enough , they agreed that bp would continue to honor all financial obligations above $20 billion. >> reporter: bp and the obama administration agreed to allow feinberg to run the compensation
program with complete independence. >> i'm not going back home and talking with the administration as their lawyer or talking to bp. they agreed that when ken feinberg sets this program up, he decides the claims. >> reporter: bp's claims offices along the coast have distributed about $201 million so far. feinberg will take over all that in a couple of weeks. in the meantime, he shays he wants to learn all he can about what people on the coast are facing. he said after the takeover, people would be able to get six months worth of emergency payments immediately. instead of the monthly checks bp has been issuing. some nodded in agreement as he spoke. others were stone faced. several expressed extreme frustration with the claims process thus far. >> my name -- >> reporter: walton craver runs several seafood processing companies. >> we're running out of money quick, okay?
and we've already closed one business. okay? >> i want to know where that claim sits right now. because you can't wait. every day that goes by, waiting for this transition, you're telling me you're hemorrhaging money here. i will check on that claim, even though i'm not up and running yet, and try and accelerate the payment of that claim. >> reporter: feinberg says compensation for businesses directly related to the oil spill like a fishing fleet should be fairly straightforward. the challenge will be deciding who's eligible for payments for businesses not directly related to the spill. >> it's one thing to compensate a shrimper who can't shrimp in the gulf because the shrimping is unavailable. that the government has closed off the shrimp grounds or oyster harvester or a fisherman. it's another thing if a restaurant in boston says i
can't get shrimp from the gulf and i'm losing revenue because i serve a favorite dish, pay me. now, how you define what is eligible and inegible is a formidable challenge. that's what i'm trying to do in my own mind right now. >> reporter: but what about a restaurant like cravers seafood across mobile bay, owned by walton's son charles and run by his wife lily. lily says business began to take off last january, but since the spill revenue is down 40%. >> obviously, i'm not the shrimper out there, you know, that's making his living off the water. but like i said, i'm 99% gulf seafood. so if i don't have gulf seafood to serve, then it's going to put me out of business. we employ people, these people here have become like family to us and i don't want to shut this place down. >> we have a lot of money invested. a lot of money. >> personal money. >> a lot of personal money here. >> so it's our future.
>> reporter: the cravers hope they'll be able to hold on until their claim can be decided. there's no that they have a direct claim. the stainless steel workstations where 30 or 40 employees used to shuck the oysters are empty and the brothers don't think they'll be occupied ever again. their question is whether they'd be pay for future losses. >> we have been in business for 25 years. we have had our nose to the grind stone to gain the customers, and the large directors and they're gone. we're not getting that customer base back. we're done. we're done. >> you don't anticipate ever reopening -- >> no, sir. >> you have a total loss? >> with no customer, no business. >> you have a total loss emergency payments for the total loss that occurred right now, you had to padlock, but you still have some costs associated with the padlocking of the doors, that will be in a matter of weeks you ought to get that payment. and then
a total loss to the -- for the loss of your business permanently. absolutely that's a valid claim. >> despite feinberg's encouraging words, the seamens remain unconvinced. >> feinberg is a good man, but he's a lawyer. we have had a lot -- not a lot, but with some dealings with lawyers. who knows? one man can only do so much. you know, you see all the p.r. campaigns. like mr. feinberg, i respect and appreciate him coming, but really it's p.r. that's why he came here today is p.r., really. >> feinberg told us their skepticism is understandable. >> talk is cheap in doing this. they're absolutely right. it's all well and good to give people a comfort level that you will respect their claim, that they make a credible argument that they will be paid. until the check is in the mail, i must say everybody has a right to be skeptical and question the legitimacy of this and will it
work? and that is fair and i understand that. >> reporter: with the fishing fleet still in port and no new seafood flowing through the system, the towns along the gulf wait for feinberg to make decisions that may ultimately spell financial life or death for thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of people. >> ifill: now, a closer look at the role news organizations played in the wikileaks story. judy woodruff picks up on that angle. >> reporter: since the documents were published there are a number of questions not only about wikileaks about the media's decision to publish them and work with the organization. we explore that now with alex jones. he's director of the harvard kennedy school center for the press, politics and public policy. he's a former "new york times" reporter.
and david leigh, he's investigators editor at the guardian, one of three publications that originally released the wikileaks material. he joins us from london. gentlemen, thank you both for being with us. david, to you first, how did the guardian get this information wikileaks, who went to it? >> went to the founder of wikileaks, julian sand, and we persuaded him to let us have a look at his material. his intention originally had been to put it all to -- to dump the whole data set out on the internet, all 92,000 files without any kind of filtering at all. so we dissuaded him. it was a good idea to let mainstream media as he would call them have a look first. >> what did you know about him going in? did you have any doubts at all about the veracity of the material he was turning over?
>> well, i knew a few things about about him, because i had dealings with him in norway when he showed me in conditions of great secrecy this video he had got of an apache helicopter crew who fired shots at reuters journalists in baghdad. so i knew that he did have access to some quite remarkable material. obviously, once we got it we then did quite a lot of work to authenticate it. i'm glad there's no question raised about his authenticity since we published. >> and how did the three different news organizations come about? >> we originally asked him to turn the material over to us, as you can imagine. he was a little bit reluctant. in fact, he took six hours of persuading from my colleague. one of the this that persuaded him that this was a good idea was to say we would share it with "the new york times" and
therefore, he would reach a much larger audience in america. and later, despiegel in germany was brought into the mix as well. >> as you have watched the media for a long time, what do you make of this whole episode? >> i think there are two conflicting -- two legitimately conflicting values. one is the legitimate need for secrets, that there are legitimate secrets and they should be kept. the other is the clear history that government very much wants to keep information that may not really be at the level of what could be considered a legitimate secret, but is embarrassing or is in some way compromising to the government away from the public. and the role of the media , the mainstream media, the responsible media, has been to try to make th decision based on very careful efforts to make sure that real secrets are not
being released. and in this kind of situation i think it's fair to say based on what i have read that all three of the mainstream news organizations took extraordinary measures to validate, to understand in the case of "the new york times," i know they went to the white house before it was published and the white house did not try to prevent them from publishing it. they did not ask them not to publish it. but the issue is also that you've got now an organization like wikileaks that is not sort of bound by the idea necessarily that there are secrets. it is based on as i understand wikileaks' philosophy that there should be no secrets or very, very few. i'm not sure that wikileaks ought to be the arbiter of that. i think that based on what they did this time, the material was handled well by the guardian and well by "the new york times" and i assume by derr spiegel as well. but wikileaks, to put raw information out without any kind of
effort to protect sources or to guard legitimate secrets that's dangerous. >> david leigh, what about that? how much of a conflict do you see there is between your mission at the news organization, obviously, operating under different rules in great britain and those of an organization like wikileaks, which as alex jones said is to get everything out there? >> well, it's nice to hear that people recognize that the guardian and "the new york times" and derr spiegel went to a lot of efforts to make sure there were no legitimate secrets, we took out anything that might contain informants, and much of the rest of the stuff lost its tactical secrecy because it's several months ago. wikileaks were
persuaded that the right thing for them to do, despite their purest ideology was to hold back a lot of files which they thought might contain dangerous material. sensitive material. so they too have started to edge towards the code of responsibility of the mainstream media, actually. >> and david leigh, just quickly to follow up, concern on your part about the perception that you, that the guardian and these other news organizations maybe being used by wikileaks? >> well, wikileaks is a source, they have the material which i think everybody in the world who has seen our publications has agreed it was good to publish, it was educational. it's shown people a new level of war reporting in which an unvarnished picture, of a chaotic and failing war, have come to light. i think that's helped public policy and public enlightenment. we feel good about that. >> alex jones, as the public looks at this, what are the
questions they should be asking as they try to distinguish between, again, the mission of wikileaks and these news organizations? >> well, sources of news, whistle-blowers, people who have taken information and tried to get it published like daniel els berg and the pentagon case, they have wanted to use the media. they have wanted to take information that they knew about and put it in a form -- with a format and in a delivery system that would get it a lot of attention. i don't fault wikileaks for its efforts to get the information out there. what concerns me a lot, i think their only real value is in getting secrets published. that they consider -- that they consider should be published. i don't feel like necessarily they have demonstrated that they are on the same kind of level of the guardian and
"the new york times" when its comes to being careful and scrupulous about protecting sources. they have now said as i understand it that they intend to put all this information out on their website, which if you have the ability and trying to find out, would compromise all the sources and all the information that the guardian and "the new york times," at least, have protected the public or protected the sources from. the intelligence sources and other things like that. now, even if wikileaks is basically as david said moving towards the mainstream media's position, i have no doubt that there are plenty of other people out there that would if wikileaks is perceived to be a little too close to what the mainstream media's values are will advertise their own willingness to put anything out there. and in the web environment, a digital environment where you can't really, you know, very much do much about that, if they get access to the information, i think one of the things this raises is the need for certainly the american military to look at how it guards its own
information and for other -- for other organizations to be careful about this. i mean, i think that the -- in a digital world with a web distribution system that no one can control, if there is information out there, it's probably got a way of getting out. >> and very quickly, alex jones, you have expressed some concern about what the repercussions of this could be. >> the worst thing that could happen is that people here and other places get on the kind of defensive high horse and say we'll make it illegal for "the new york times" and the guardian to publish this kind of information. that's not where the problem is. the press' the whistle-blower, the watchdog role is essential to this free society and they need to be able to responsibly publish information. since they can't get it wikileaks, they may go after "the new york times" or the guardian. >> is that something that worries you, david leigh? you're not an american news
organization, but your brethren in the united states. is that of concern to you? >> well, we work in a type of legal environment, we don't have the protection of the first amendment, so we worry about government trying to shut us down. but i think the real point is a game-changing thing has happened. we didn't leak this material, wikileaks didn't leak this material, it was leaked by some military source who had access to industrial quantities and that you leak out and get out across the planet in seconds. >> that changes the role of the news media as well? >> well, because we didn't get access to this stuff and we go about a new model of distributing it. we're dealing with data, massive qualities of data in a way we never used to do that before. we used to get trickles of information. >> well, with we're going to leave it there. this opens up all sorts of questions for the future and we thank you both for talking with us today.
david leigh, alex jones. finally tonight, jeffrey brown talks to philip levine. >> we stand in the rain in a long line, waiting at ft. high land park for work. you know what work is. if you're old enough to read this, you know what work is although you may not do it. >> philip levine is the author of 20 volumes of post and one of the nation's most honored poets with a pulitzer and other prizes. but he started life in detroit working in auto plants. >> so these feel familiar to you? >> levine joined me at the richardson gallery in new york. he's written an essay for an exhibition of photographs by andrew moore that capture a lost world of detroit.
an old school, homes, and factories including ford's river rouge plant where levine himself once worked. >> when i was a young guy working in these places and didn't see a way out, and i certainly didn't think that the way out would be poetry. >> where did the poetry come from? >> no one knows where poetry comes from. i had been writing poetry from the age of 14. it was just something i loved doing, i loved language. i had -- i recognized that i had a facility for it. my teachers praised me. to the skies. which was wonderful. >> levine graduated from wayne state university and left the auto plants behind. he taught at fresno state in california for many years. and he and his wife franny now divide their time between fresno and new york. you have kept writing about detroit to this day, you kept writing about work.
did that become a kind of mission, that's the right word? >> one thing that i was struck by, very young, in my middle 20's, very young, was that i didn't see any work, written work, about this experience. it's hard poetry, zero. but i actually did at one time say to myself, hey, there's a whole world here nobody has touched. >> a lot of your poems tell stories about people, in the past. there's one even in the current collection, extraordinary morning. will you read that? >> extraordinary morning, two young men, you might call them boys, waiting for the woodward streetcar to get them downtown. yes, they're tired. they're also dirty and happy. happy 'cause they finished a short workweek and if they're not rich, they're as close to rich as they'll ever be in this town.
>> over the decades philip levine has written about many subjects and he writes as he titled his most recent book, the news of the world. >> started off talking about your life in the factories. many years later, you have made a life as a poet. does that surprise you? >> oh, god, yeah. i mean, i'm stunned. one of the things that made it happen were pure luck. on my 26th birthday, i met my present wife. and how many women could stay with a guy who has no prospects and wants to write poetry? and stay with him now 55 years? sometimes she worked so i could sit home and scribble and she honors what i'm doing. and i think that is the most crucial thing, to be honored as a poet.
even if -- not by a nation, because a nation is an abstraction. but just to be honored by this person or that person or especially by your wife or your brother or your mother, father. it's fantastic. it keeps you going in a way that nothing else could keep you going. >> all right. philip levine, nice to talk to you. >> thank you. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day, besides the wikileaks story. b.p. confirmed tony hayward will step down as c.e.o. after a series of gaffes on the gulf oil spill. and senate republicans blocked action on a campaign finance bill. it would have forced most interest groups to disclose their donors, if they run campaign attack ads. the newshour is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, previews what's there. hari?
>> sreenivasan: tom bearden has been blogging from the gulf coast. find his posts and more on our oil spill page and one afghanistan, we're checking in regularly with our partners at globalpost who have correspondents on the ground. they are filing regular dispatches for their site and you can find weekly roundups on ours. plus the newshour has a reporting team in arizona this week, examining the impact of a tough new immigration law. on the rundown tonight, watch a profile of ernesto yerena, an artist and activist in the state. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll update the deadly mexican drug wars. i'm gwen ifill. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. 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:
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