Veteran diplomat Richard Haass turns from foreign affairs to threats from within. He argues Americans focus so much on rights we forget our obligations as citizens -- and the country is suffering because of it.
Canadian authorities said they still had no clear motive for a shooting rampage at Parliament. But a picture has emerged of the gunman as a troubled man who was frustrated by delays in his plans to go to Syria. Iraqis expressed relief that four former Blackwater security guards were convicted in a deadly Baghdad shooting. Hong Kong officials met with students for the first time since pro-democracy protests began. And the governor of the Mexican state where 43 students disappeared has resigned. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top international news stories.
- Yochi Dreazen Managing editor for news at Foreign Policy and author of the book "The Invisible Front."
- Elise Labott Global affairs correspondent, CNN.
- Mark Landler White House correspondent, The New York Times.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Canadian officials say the lone gunman who attacked Parliament had a criminal record and wanted to go to the Middle East. A US jury convicts former Blackwater guards of murdering Iraqis. And Mexico's Attorney General links a town mayor to the mass disappearance of students. Joining me for the international hour, "The Friday News Roundup," Yochi Dreazen of Foreign Policy, Elise Labott at CNN and Mark Landler with the New York Times.
MS. DIANE REHMYou're invited, as always, to be part of the program. Give us a call. 800-433-8850. Send an email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And welcome to all of you.
MS. ELISE LABOTTThanks for having us.
MR. YOCHI DREAZENHi Diane.
MR. MARK LANDLERGood morning, Diane.
REHMMark Landler, you said to me how unusual you didn't think you'd ever be starting the news roundup with Canada. And yet, here we had this shooting.
LANDLERIndeed, we do. Canada suddenly finds itself as the latest example of a country with a serious case of domestic terrorism at the heart of its government complex in Ottawa. And it illustrates things that are far from unique to Canada. The US, European countries have all had this issue with lone radicalized people. In this case, probably seeking to go be a foreign fighter in the Middle East. And this gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, from Montreal, who was of course killed in an exchange with the Sergeant at Arms in the Parliament building.
LANDLERHe was a young man who had a Libyan background. He was seeking a passport. The Canadian authorities were processing it, apparently not blocking it. His name did not appear on a list of 93 people who are on a watch list in Canada as likely targets or people that might become foreign fighters. And so the Canadian authorities, you know, are troubled, honestly, by the fact that this guy appears to have fallen through all their nets. They don't think he had any ties to extremist groups. And does seem to be the case of a lone wolf.
LANDLERBut, you know, the attack came a couple of days after another attack by a radicalized individual against Canadian soldiers. So Canada suddenly finds itself where many of its allies, including the United States, have before. And, you know, I think the reaction is, to use the French word, (word?) in Canada. They're being very low key. They're not losing their cool. They've re-opened Parliament. But obviously, this is going to cause a big debate in Canada about how much they know about their population and radical elements.
REHMAnd change in procedures, I would think, because the Parliament is open to the public. This young man killed a soldier before walking into the Parliament just steps away from the Prime Minister himself.
DREAZENYes, and now you're having the debate there that we've had here for so long, about what's the balance between a building that is of the people being open to the people and how do you close it off? I mean, visitors to Washington today, if they hadn't been here in 20 years, wouldn't recognize the city. And I suspect visitors to Ottawa, in five years, won't recognize what Ottawa's become. The interesting thing, as well, about the changes to Canada that can be seen or unseen, this shooting happened just as the Prime Minister of Canada, Steven Harper, was presenting to Parliament, basically a package of expanded surveillance reforms.
DREAZENThat would have made it easier for the Canadian version of the NSA, which is nowhere near as skilled, sophisticated, large, or intrusive as the actual NSA. Would have made it easier for them to surveille their own people, to share intelligence with the US, with other countries. That was going to be read into Parliament on Wednesday, so the day of the shooting happened to be the day that this package was going to be presented. It had had pushback before. This package was not new. Canada has a strong Libertarian part of its culture.
DREAZENThe fight for this would not have been an easy one. There's very little doubt that this package of surveillance reforms, which are very aggressive by Canadian standards, will sail through.
REHMYou know, it brings up the whole question of lone wolf actors, Elise.
LABOTTThat's right. And it seems, like in talking to officials and experts who follow this kind of radicalization, he -- this gentleman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, really fit the bill. He was a bit of a loner. He had some family issues. His parents were divorced and he didn't really seem to fit in. And these people are looking for some sense of belonging. So a lot of times, in an instance like this, there's a lot of talk about Islam Islam, and radical Islam and extremism, but also, just as important, is finding these people who are looking for some kind of belonging.
LABOTTAnd this is where they're finding it. You know, this is where ISIS and these other extremist groups are really finding these vulnerable people, who are having issues, they're a bit of a loners, and they're looking for some sense of belonging. And in these chat rooms, they're talking to people. This is where they find them. Now the question is, there's so much going on in these chat rooms right now, at -- Diane, and you can't, what officials are saying is, we have to feel that everybody that's talking about an interest in some kind of attack, is really serious.
LABOTTBut it's hard to determine who's just talking, who's just boasting, who's trying to make a name for themselves, and who's not. There were actually, in a chat room, a couple of weeks before this incident in Canada, there were some radicals or some people on this chat room that were talking about an interest in attacking the US facilities in Canada. And so even before this shooting, the US Embassy and its consulates had heightened security, were on heightened alert, because they can never tell who is serious and who is just boasting.
LANDLERI mean, the other issue it raises is it points out that one of the things that the United States will face in keeping this coalition together to fight the Islamic State, is that, I think the Islamic State will try to exploit people like this in an effort to peel off members of the coalition. And to suggest that you go in with the United States at your own peril. I don't think that actually poses much of a real threat to the coalition. Stephen Harper made it clear, the Canadian Prime Minister, that Canada is in the fight against the Islamic State.
LANDLERI wouldn't expect to see them shrink from that as a result of this, but it just points out that the pain is going to be, you know, shared evenly across the board. We can probably expect to see things like this happen in other countries.
LANDLERIn England. You know, some of the Danish, Denmark, other places. So, it's likely that this is a recurring theme, as opposed to, you know, an unusual one, or a sporadic one.
REHMBut the same time, what can we do? Or what can any country do, pardon me, to prepare for a lone wolf?
DREAZENWhat makes that so terrifying, of course, is that it's impossible to stop. I mean, there's -- think about the United States. Think of the ease with which you can get a machine gun in parts of the country. If somebody wanted to go to a southern state, was not on the list. Just woke up, had been radicalized over the course of a couple of months, picked up a machine gun at a gun store and walked into a mall. There's nothing that could have stopped that. I mean, quite literally nothing, unless they got a flat tire.
DREAZENUnless someone, maybe he spoke to on the way, heard an utterance. But that makes the lone wolf threat one that is so scary to people who are in the security field. I mean, when you talk to people who deal with this, they say one of two things. One, on the flip side, you can't stop it. You can make it harder, but you probably can't stop it. The only positive to it is a lone wolf attack is not going to take down a city. You're not going to have a lone wolf WMD attack.
DREAZENYou're not going to have a lone wolf mass, weapon of mass destruction attack. So, it's a very, very scary thing. In the scale of casualties caused, they tend to be one to five 20, which is not minimized in the loss for the families involved, but it is saying this is not changing the life of a city.
LABOTTIt's not changing the life of a city, but it's changing the culture of which we live in terms of the fear. And this is really, I think, what ISIS and these other groups are mostly interested -- yes, they're interested in as many American deaths, or western deaths, and I might point out, you know, I don't think any western country is really immune. Whether they're in the coalition or not, because the west is really, by a lot of these people, seen as, you know, one kind of conglomerate that's all working together.
LABOTTSo, I think that this is what they're looking for. They're looking to create that fear. And yes, the United States and other countries with very sophisticated security procedures might be able to fend off some kind of large scale attack. You really can't fend off against these lone wolfs, unless you have this kind of security state, in which we do not want to live. So, everyone now, I think, is walking around. You used to worry about some large scale attack. Now, a lot of people are worried about, if I'm going to go into a Parliament building, am I going to get shot? Am I going to have some kind of trouble?
LANDLERI just wanted to add one thing. There's been a lot of talk about this whole issue of a counter narrative. Groups like the Islamic State are extremely adept at reaching out to these kind of disaffected people. And they do it in a very sophisticated way with social media. And the amount of resources that we in the United States put against that, to counter that message, are paltry, by comparison. The State Department has a very small group of people that attempt to counter the message.
LANDLERIt's a very difficult thing. There's a lot of disagreement on whether it works at all. Or, if it does work, what's the best way to do it? But, you know, I do think that you'll probably hear more and more about that and in this multi-prong strategy that the Obama administration has against the Islamic State, the actual counter-narrative piece is a specific category. There's three or four. Terrorist financing, the military campaign, diplomacy. But the counter-narrative piece is one that I think is going to get more attention, as difficult as it is to do well.
REHMYou know, it's interesting whether ISIS reached out to those three young women in Colorado or whether they simply went of their own volition. They had just come, apparently, from Libya, but wanted to join the Syrian forces. They were stopped in Germany.
LABOTTThat's right. I mean, a lot of these people, again, are looking for some kind of belonging.
LABOTTAnd it looks as if they found it. And I'm not sure. There's some discrepancy of whether they were actually in touch with senior people over there. Whether they were actually going to make it in to Syria...
LABOTT...to work with ISIS.
LABOTTBut certainly, it looked as if they were looking for something. And this where, I think, when we're talking about this counter-narrative, once you have the narrative out there by ISIS, about this extremism, it's almost too late. I think communities and -- really need to do a better job at reaching out to these disaffected youth, particularly in the mosques.
REHMElise Labott. She's the Global Affairs Correspondent for CNN. Short break here. We'll be taking your calls, your comments, in just a moment. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. Yochi Dreazen, Elise Labott, Mark Landler are all here. We're going to be taking your calls soon. I hope you'll join us on 800-433-8850. Yochi, let me come to you on this report that Islamic State militants are using chlorine gas against Iraqi police officers. What do we know for sure?
DREAZENWhat we know is that there is one case that's being studied very closely by officials both in the U.S. government, the Iraqi government, the U.S. military, the Iraqi military that took place near Balad in a fight on the outskirts of Balad. Which is very close to Baghdad in which Iraqi police officers started to cough, they felt dizzy. They noticed something that looked like a yellow gas coming -- hovering on the ground. It's believed to have been a chlorine gas attack launched by the Islamic State against the militant -- excuse me, against the Iraqi police officers they were fighting with.
DREAZENIt didn't cause many fatalities. To my knowledge it didn't cause any fatalities. There have been other reports that have been so far unconfirmed. This appears to be the one that they think is most likely to actually have been a chlorine gas attack. The sad parallel is that post -- the deal that President Assad signed to get rid of his chemical weapons, the one weapon he was still using was chlorine.
DREAZENSo because chlorine gas is in a weird loophole legally as to whether it's technically a chemical weapon or not, Bashar al-Assad has been using chlorine gas for quite some time which means it's very possible that as fighters fighting Assad either defected to the Islamic State or captured by members of the Islamic State left behind supplies that were taken by the Islamic State. That type of weaponry, and in particular that kind of expertise is what could lead to them having the ability to use chlorine gas against Iraqi troops, potentially western ones as well.
LABOTTWell, I think it just opens up the fears that as ISIS continues to control large swats and seize large swaths of territory, you have no idea what they're getting their hands on. They're getting their hands on old remnants. Some of these weapons were Iraqi military weapons and some of them were, you know, actually weapons that they got form the United States. But now we're looking at, you know, possible old remnants of chemical weapons.
LABOTTYou know, it kind of harkens back to 2003 and the invasion of Iraq. There were no nuclear weapons found but no one really knows what the Iraqi -- what Saddam Hussein left behind. The Iraqis said that they had a lot of control in it but, you know, as things are coming up I think it's going to be really interesting to see what is found by ISIS and what they start using. It's very scary.
REHMAnd now it looks as though Iraqi forces are far from being ready to take control.
LANDLERYeah, that's really the nub of the problem for the United States. This campaign against ISIS is sort of predicated on the idea that if you -- if we the United States and our coalition partners can provide air support, and you have a credible force on the ground to retake and hold towns and cities, that's the way to beat ISIS. The problem is by all accounts the Iraqi security forces are months away from being that kind of credible force.
LANDLERAnd so in some cases there are things that the U.S. might be able to do now that it isn't going to do. An example of this that an administration official told me about is the City of Mosul. You know, the U.S. could begin bombing and doing airstrikes to drive ISIS out of Mosul. But even if it succeeded in doing that, it's unlikely that the Iraqi army could hold the city. So they're actually waiting in this case for quite some time, maybe months, before they do that.
LANDLERAnd so, you know, for at least awhile this will not look like it's going very well. I mean, I think the bet is that overtime when you get a few of these brigades trained up and in the field, then you can start to take sort of some of these larger targets. Of course that then raises in turn the question of American combat troops.
LANDLERAnd in order to do airstrikes in a place like Mosul you almost certainly need have American spotters on the ground. And then you start to get into a level of American involvement that President Obama has until now ruled out.
REHMAnd Mark, talk about these four former Blackwater security guards who were convicted in 2007 shootings of unarmed Iraqis?
LANDLERWell, this is sort of settling a piece of business that was one of the ugliest chapters of America's involvement in Iraq in many other ugly chapters. But this is a case where these security guards opened fire with automatic weapons and killed all these people in this square in Baghdad. The case has wended its way through the courts for years. The government has sort of made mistakes along the way. But the prosecutors kept at it and the Iraqis, of course understandably skeptical that they were ever going to see justice out of this.
LANDLERNevertheless a lot of Iraqi family members came to the U.S. and testified in harrowing terms about what they saw on that day, people being killed, children -- mothers and children. And so the very tough convictions in this case and the likelihood that these people will spend 30 years -- at least 30 years in jail, maybe a life term in the case of one of them, is, you know, justice being done in a case that many Iraqis felt extremely bitter about for a long time.
REHMAnd of course the CEO of Blackwater Worldwide said the conviction was totally unexpected. He was not sure that they had received a fair trial.
LABOTTWell, I mean, I think that, you know, obviously Erik Prince has this long history and doesn't want the -- now that he's created this new company and continues to work on, I don't think he really thinks that -- you know, he doesn't want to be tainted with that. But certainly a lot of Iraqis came to the United States to testify.
LABOTTI mean, as Mark said, this case has welded its way through the courts for many years. It was a very thorough case and I think it's -- you know, obviously the U.S. has loathed to, you know, prosecute -- not prosecute but it loathed to convict one of its military. And the fact that they did such a deliberate, you know, jurisdiction, I think that it shows that this was very carefully done.
REHMBut Yochi, how does this speak to the whole question of a private military or paramilitary organization in war time?
DREAZENSo I was in Baghdad during the shooting, during the Nisour Square shooting. Nisour Square, for people who haven't pictured it, it's actually a circle not a square. It's a very busy traffic circle. And what had happened was a car was approaching a convoy of four Blackwater armored vehicles. They later said that they thought the car which was a white Kia was a bomb because it didn't stop. They shot up the car and then they shot other cars and that's where things kind of went very much to hell.
DREAZENThey're excuse all along had been, we thought we were about to be hit by a car bomb, then we heard gunfire. Later investigators found A. that there was no bomb in that car, nor was there gunfire other than that fired by Blackwater. Erik Prince, who has made billions literally since the start of these two wars, first with Blackwater then with other companies, we interviewed him yesterday as well. And he just wrote a book defending Blackwater where he referred to Blackwater and other private security contractors as the forgotten heroes, as he sees it, of the war on terror.
DREAZENHe, in the case of these convictions, is now backing away from their defense, which is striking. For years he had said they did nothing wrong, they did nothing wrong. When we interviewed him yesterday he said, well, I wasn't there. So he's very clearly trying to say, now that it's done don't tar me with what's been said about them and done to them.
DREAZENErik Prince is in an interesting place though, just to come back to him for one moment. His new company had a post on its blog maybe two weeks ago saying that the solution to ISIS, the way to solve the ISIS crisis is to get the Blackwater team back together. And if you could send western mercenaries to fight ISIS, that would solve the problem of ISIS. The U.S. troops wont' do it and in his mind the Obama Administration is too weak to do it.
DREAZENBut we know the solution. The solution is get trained veterans who used to work for Blackwater, give them a new contract, send them off to Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS. He has a similar plan for how to fight Ebola which is take trained veterans, put them under the banner of a company like Blackwater and send them to fight Ebola.
DREAZENBut so this question of western mercenaries, it's not that this was the past of Iraq. This is -- there are people out there that are not just in the Erik Prince mode to say that's not a bad idea. Let us find well-trained, well-armed westerners willing to fight and let's go send them off to fight.
LABOTTThe truth of the matter is that military contractors are doing a lot of business for the U.S. They haven't just done it in Iraq. It's been in Afghanistan. And military contractors are protecting a lot of U.S. facilities around the world. The problem is that when that -- exactly what you have with Blackwater, the kind of standards between what a U.S. military is expected to adhere and a private contractor, the line is really fuzzy. And so I think that the fact that these contractors were brought to justice doing the work that should've been done by the American military in an era of, you know, lessening resources, this is the way of the future I think.
LANDLERWell, yeah. And I think it's also -- it goes back to President Obama's ruling out American forces in any combat role in Iraq. I mean, as long as he tries to hold to that, it leaves an opening for Erik Prince and his guys because they're willing to do that. And...
REHMAnd they're being paid far more than the U.S. military.
LABOTTAnd they're doing it for other countries too. They're actually -- you know, this is where a lot of the businesses, you know, the Saudi Arabias and the United Emirates of the world that have a lot of money to -- and they don't have very large armies, these jobs that they pay people to do it for them.
REHM...they pay people. You think that is going to be a way of the future?
LANDLERWell, it's already the way we do it now. And I'm not confident that these people won't continue to be called on because as the U.S. continues to insert itself in conflicts where there's no political constituency at home for putting our own boots on the ground, but we judge there's no way to avoid getting involved. At some point, you know, you sort of ask how we do that. And this is one ready way to do it, ready if expensive.
REHMWhat's happened to our volunteer army? Is there a sufficient number of willing participants, Yochi?
DREAZENIf anything there are too many willing participants. The army is in the process of firing soldiers by the tens of thousands, soldiers who had planned to stay in it for another five, ten, twenty years. Because of budget cuts the military is shrinking so significantly that it is literally firing people. So you have captains who thought they'd stay in for their whole career being told, when your current tour ends, you're out. Enlisted guys who thought they'd stay in 20 years being told, when your current tour ends, you're out.
DREAZENSo the military will fall by several hundred thousand troops. So it's not a question of do we have enough. It's a question of how do we get rid of the excess that we now find ourselves having?
REHMYou know, and it's fascinating that as that diminishment occurs, you've got expanding worldwide responsibilities, at least countries, as President Obama has said, turning to us for protection. Not turning anywhere else, turning to us, and yet cutbacks in the military.
LABOTTWell, and even as you see a president as reluctant to send American troops into any type of battle, whether it's from the air or the ground as President Obama, we don't know who the next president is going to be. And whether there is a president that's going to be more willing or more, not eager, but more willing to use U. S. troops to do stuff like that.
REHMBut you've also got to have willingness on the part of the congress to put the money into what the military needs are. Elise Labott. She's global affairs correspondent for CNN and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Elise, let me ask you about Afghanistan where the Taliban has now taken over territory in northern Afghanistan. Are the Afghan forces losing control?
LABOTTWell, I think one of the problems is we're talking about Kunduz in the north but not only in Kunduz but also Nangarhar, Helmand, Kapisa. I'm probably saying that wrong, Yochi. Correct me. But I think that this is symbolic of not necessarily only the Afghan forces but a problem of governance by the Afghan government. And a lot of people, whereas they were willing to kind of stand up to the Taliban, they're seeing that the Afghan government is not really delivering for them.
LABOTTAnd so the fight against the Taliban in the public is not really supporting the government as the U.S. hoped. And I think that this is one of the things that you have to look at in Iraq. This was one of the problems with Prime Minister Maliki that, you know, your forces can only do so much if your government is not delivering for you. And so that hurts the morale of the military and it hurts the morale of the public.
LANDLERI would just say the next year or two in Afghanistan, probably the best thing to do maybe -- I mean, people sometimes overdraw the analogy to Iraq. But it might be worth looking back at the period just after the U.S. pulled out of Iraq from a government's perspective to see how this new Afghan government -- and there is a new unity government -- handled this period.
LANDLERThere's been a couple interesting early signs. One is the new President Ashraf Ghani who's a former World Bank official, is governing in a very different style than Hamid Karzai. He's done away with a lot of the retinue that Karzai traveled with. He's calling for punctuality. He' eliminated elaborate banquets at every government meeting. He's also summarily fired a couple local governors, people who he felt were incompetent.
LANDLERAnd then in another move that I thought was interesting, just sort of symbolically, he's making his first trip out of Afghanistan as president and he's going to China. He's not going to the United States or frankly any other country that was involved in this 13-year war.
REHMWhy is he going to China?
LANDLERWell, I think the assumption is that he's saying, you know, China, our largest neighbor, a potential major trading partner, a country that wants to build its trade through the silk road with Afghanistan, that's where our future lies. And so in going there I think he sends a message that this post 2014 period is also going to be a process of Afghanistan developing new relationships in its neighborhood.
DREAZENI think Mark's point is spot on. It's also interesting to watch the kind of rhetoric that the White House uses both in Afghanistan and with ISIS. With the Islamic State, the rhetoric was we're going to degrade and destroy the Islamic State, which anybody who spent any time covering the Islamic State, covering the region, destroying a terror movement is impossible. It just cannot be done.
DREAZENA more accurate and less dramatic but more accurate reflection of what we're doing would have been to say we are going to try to contain the Islamic State or try to keep it to where it is and gradually roll it back so it doesn't take more of Iraq, it doesn't take Jordan, it doesn't take parts of Turkey. Saying contain isn't quite as sexy but you have that same kind of rhetoric problem with Afghanistan. The Taliban never went away. It's not as if there's a Taliban resurgence as if they'd been destroyed and suddenly they flare back.
DREAZENI've spent tremendous amounts of time in the east of Afghanistan and in the south. They've always been there since 2001. There are parts of the country where they have always been and will always be more popular than the central government, not...
DREAZEN...because they're non-corrupt. Because they have some very skilled administrators. You meet Taliban hospital administrators who are better than the administrators appointed by the Afghan government, funded by the U.S. government. So you have skilled Taliban administrators who culturally are often more in keeping with the morays of eastern Afghanistan than a westerner would be.
DREAZENAnd so this notion of a Taliban resurgence, with westerners we sort of have this image of, oh my god, they were in caves, now they're suddenly back. But they never went away.
LABOTTBut also, I mean, it's interesting to see how the Taliban itself is adapting. And in some of these provinces whereas the Taliban ran with this strict, you know, very extreme form of rule in the areas, now they're letting girls go to school. Now they're allowing international development projects and taking advantage of the weakness of the government to say, as Yochi was pointing out, that we are actually better administrators of the area. And we can present a softer side that we know that you were looking for.
REHMElise Labott, Yochi Dreazen, Mark Landler. They'll all answer your questions when we come back after a short break. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. Here's an email, we've got lots of people asking about this and it was my next story on the list, says, "Thanks for covering Mexico in the International Hour, there are lots of Americans, even millions who live in, travel to, do business or have relatives from Mexico. It's a critically important country to the U.S. for good or bad, 43 students went missing last money in Mexico and now officials are saying it's the town's mayor that was behind it all." What's it all about, Mark?
LANDLERWell, I mean, this is a story that, I think, people, even cynics and people who assume the worst about ties between officials and gangs in Mexico are probably shocked by this one. So it's a town in Guerrero state where the mayor was apparently in league with this gang and his wife was scheduled to give a speech and the students from a local college, the major suspected, were gonna disrupt this speech.
LANDLERSo the allegation is that he asked the gang to basically take care of these kids, so they didn't disrupt his wife's event. The 43 students are missing, there have been mass graves found in the vicinity of the town, it's called Iguala but these graves apparently don't -- these are not bodies that belong to the students. So the students whereabouts are really, still, totally a mystery. But the Attorney General of Mexico has now openly accused the mayor of being in league with this gang.
LANDLERAnd so, it's really just a chilling tale of the depth of the corruption, not just the gangs themselves which are, of course, a terrifying presence all over Mexico but the fact that in many of these places, the line between the gangs and the authorities is more or less invisible.
REHMTwo questions, first, hasn't the mayor resigned and second, to what extent does this have to do with drug warfare going on there, Elise?
LABOTTWell, apparently, the mayor, his wife and the police chief are all fugitives right now. No one knows where they are but certainly they're looking for them and certainly he's not gonna be mayor anymore. But, I mean, I do think it has to do with the fact that these drug cartels are running these areas, it's not the government and because the government is getting paid off by these drug cartels, I mean, that's how they do their business, through the government, in fact.
LABOTTIt's really a, kind of, cottage industry and so I -- apparently, one of the gangs of this particular cartel was arrested and tipped the prosecutor off to what was going on. So, you know, as a lot of these gangs are not only battling other cartels but gangs within the cartels themselves don't have specific, any loyalty.
REHMSo you've also have the governor of Guerrero step down?
DREAZENYeah, it gets, I think, to this question that Elise just touched on, which, for the Mexican government, is essential one of, how do you confront, can you confront this, kind of, deep rooted, economic, militarily corruption that extends across every strata of Mexican society? You've had governments that have said, the solution is, send in the Army and have sent in 10's of thousands of Mexican soldiers into parts of the country and said, we are going to take back these towns and put them under, basically, permanent military occupation, that didn't work.
DREAZENThen you've had parts of the government that have said, we have to talk to the cartels and come to some sort of modus operandi, so there's less violence and that hasn't worked. You have a...
DREAZEN...a country dominated by a cocaine problem that we fuel, I mean, that's the thing that, for American policy makers, we don't like to often admit in this country, is that much of the Mexican drug problem was because of American consumers are buying Mexican drugs. So we can't look at it as just something that's theirs to deal with, we caused it.
REHMSo, going back to our callers email, he's right or she's right, that lots of Americans have moved to Mexico for tax and comfort and all kinds of reasons. Does Mexico become a less place for Americans to retire?
LANDLERWell, I mean, of course it depends on where you retire in Mexico, the whole countries not a warzone but there are certainly large swaths of it that are just extremely dangerous. And I think Yochi's point is a valid one and it's funny, in a way, we started this program talking about Canada, a place we don't talk about often and now we're finishing it, talking about Mexico, a place arguably we don't talk about enough.
LANDLERAnd I do think the White House wants to invest more in relationships with North American -- it's North American neighbors. And there's ample reason for us to.
REHMAll right, let's open the phones, 800-433-8850 to Douglas in McLean, Va. Hi, you're on the air.
DOUGLASGood morning. Earlier, one of your guests minimized the damage that a lone wolf could do and I thought of Timothy McVeigh, now he did have a co-conspirator, but someone with any kind of knowledge of bombs could do what McVeigh did on his own. And McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber killed well over a 100 people and injured hundreds. And I won't give any specifics but I can think of lots of things that one person with -- could do to kill hundreds of people.
DOUGLASNow, a lot of the people who are lone wolves aren't particularly educated or talented but I think the lone wolf, with a little bit of brains and imagination, could kill a lot of people, it wouldn't be the kind of thing where you just kill a few people and then are gunned down.
REHMYeah. Go ahead, Yochi.
DREAZENNo, I totally agree. And when we think back to Oklahoma City, even at the time, the first thought was, this has to have been some form of Islamist terror and the idea first that it was an American full stop that was motivated by nothing other than anti-government hatred and loathing, let alone that it was one or two people operating together, could take down a government building. The memorial for people who have been to Oklahoma City, the actual physical memorial to it is just heartbreaking.
DREAZENSo I agree with the caller, that yes, you can cause casualties. My point and he was referencing something that I had said, wasn't to minimize it but was to say that, when we think of massive, massive, massive causality attacks, those are likely not going to be lone wolf. Lone wolf can cause terror, they can cause heartbreak, they can cause dozens of deaths, perhaps hundreds of death but for the people in our government who are thinking, what would be the attack that really, truly changes life in this country forever? It is likely not a lone wolf attack.
REHMAll right. Let's go to John in Johnson City, Texas. Hi there.
JOHNAre you talking to me?
REHMYes, I sure am. Are you there, go right ahead.
JOHNOkay, it's Texas City. Okay. American mercenaries get lots of due process, seven years worth, contrast that to the overwhelming lack of due process and of basic justice for too many of our own citizens here at home, in particular, black and Latino people. So if we want to stem the tide of terrorism, both domestic and foreign, I think, a number of things we should be doing is, number one, providing actual justice for cops who deserve to be prosecuted when they operate outside the law and we also need to develop -- regain some moral authority to tell Israel not to do things like sit on the Palestinian people, but we can't do that...
REHMAll right, I'm gonna stop you right there. We're not talking about what's happening in Israel. Today we, quite frequently, do, go ahead, Elise.
LABOTTThat's right. I mean, I think, the whole idea is that justice for American citizens who commit crimes should be equal whether they commit them overseas against a foreign people or in this country against American people.
REHMAll right. And to Maria in Irving, Texas. You're on the air.
MARIAThank you very much for taking my phone call.
MARIAI just want to appeal to the people and to the government that they need to do something and take off the President of Mexico. They know what they did with the kids, there was a post in the Facebook where they show that they took the kids and they are laying naked in the cement floor and there's plenty witnesses. And the government claim that there's no witnesses. Yes, there is witnesses and they are covering it up. There's 43 parents and relatives of those kids that have been waiting for a honest answer. I...
DREAZENI think, her call is heartbreaking. I mean, just listening to the tone of...
DREAZEN...of Maria's voice is heartbreaking. It reminds me, we thought about the girls kidnap at Boko Haram we're still missing and the Twitter campaign to bring back our girls that, signs that Michelle Obama held up, you're not seeing that here with these missing 43 Mexican children. And the contrast there is really striking. I mean, to your point from before and a point Mark made, this is a country, right on our border, these are dozens of, in the best case scenario, these are dozens of children who are missing, mistreated, still alive, is the best case scenario and it's not talked about.
REHMBut tell me about the cement in the photographs she refers to.
LABOTTI have to be honest, I haven't seen the post but I will say, just to Yochi's point, that 45,000 protestors, on Wednesday, marched through Mexico City, that's nowhere near the area where we're talking about. And so I think, it just shows that Mexicans are tired of this drug culture that we were just talking about, in their country, that drug cartels not only the problem of drugs that it creates but the violence that its created for years for the American people.
LABOTTAnd I think the new president that's come in has tried to use less American military might for this but certainly the Mexican people are looking for his government to do more.
REHMElise Labott, Yochi Dreazen, Mark Landler and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Did you want to add something, Mark?
LANDLERNo, actually, I think, Yochi and Elise did that one very well.
REHMAll right. Let's go to, let me see, Tony in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hi there, you're on the air.
TONYHi, Diane, thanks for taking my call.
TONYMy question is regarding Ebola which has turned into an International situation, when healthcare workers are coming back to different countries, be it the U.S., Canada, anywhere in the world. So my question is, to the panel, why is it so difficult and why don't we have these people that come back into different countries and, you know, because there's so much paranoia right now, even in our own country, were saying that, you know, we should stop people from being able to fly in, why don't they have people incubator for a 21 day period, in every country, when they first come back in, so they don't have to go about this detective business of (word?) ?
LABOTTWell, obviously, the caller makes a good point and I think that this is what the U.S. is grappling with, when there are all these calls to close the border, to deny people's visa's and also to help the healthcare workers and the journalists that are traveling over to there, traveling back to their home country. Some companies, some hospitals, some organizations are implementing a voluntary 21 day quarantine period, some aren't.
LABOTTI think that as more healthcare workers and we just saw the one, you were talking about it in the previous hour, that came into the city, into New York City and now has been contracted with Ebola. There needs to be more standards in terms of people that were, had access to Ebola patients in the country, come back and have a nationwide standard.
DREAZENYou know, one of the things that's become clearer in the period of time we've been dealing with this, in the United States, is that, it's not clear we actually have the agency set up in the right way to respond to this. The CDC, which has come under a lot of criticism for being slow off the mark, is more of an epidemiological organization than a rapid response unit. They don't actually train people in how to put on hazmat gear. They are now but that isn't historically where they come from. And, I think, this Ebola episode has sort of revealed that there's probably and investment this country needs to make in that sort of thing.
REHMAll right, to Angela in Houston, Texas, you're on the air.
ANGELAHi, Diane, quick question, I've heard several times that they've got -- been finding mass graves but the students aren't the bodies in them. Can anybody tell us whose bodies are in those mass graves?
LANDLERWell, I can't and I'm not sure anyone in the Western media is saying that they know and that, in a way, illustrates the horrifying nature of this. I mean, that there is this, you know, steady state of violence that goes on, drug related, overwhelmingly...
LANDLER...that you could find multiple bodies in a grave and just say, well, those are from some other incident. I mean, that, in a way, underscores the depth of the problem.
REHMAnd to Robert in Watertown, N.Y., you're on the air.
ROBERTThank you, Diane. Two quick things, they've arrested about 30 police officers in that part of Mexico and that's just unprecedented. And the second thing I wanted to mention was, I'm really disappointed in Dr. Craig Spencer for not quarantining himself when he knew he'd been in direct contact with Ebola patients in Africa, that's...
REHMSee, that's what goes to the primary question that an earlier caller raised. Should people who are coming back from those affected areas be quarantined for 21 days?
LABOTTYes. I mean, the short answer is, yes. If you were in Liberia and nowhere near any type of Ebola victim and sitting in a hotel, do you need to do that? I don't know the answer but certainly, if you're a healthcare worker and you come back and you -- even if you aren't exhibiting symptoms, if you were in contact with an Ebola patient, I'm not sure taking an Uber and going to a bowling alley and going to a restaurant in Brooklyn is the way to go.
REHMElise, tell us about the American couple convicted of killing their daughter in Qatar.
LABOTTYeah, this is a really sad story. The couple is a Matt and Grace Huang. Matt was working for a contractor in Qatar to get ready for the upcoming World Cup. And basically, their daughter, they say, she had an eating disorder, they're adoptive daughter from Africa, this Asian-American couples daughter, died. Immediately, the couple was arrested for starving her to death, in a trial that, even the U.S. officials have -- are calling privately a sham, fabricated evidence, they were convicted of the wrongdoing of their -- in the death of their daughter and now the trial keeps continuing on and on and on.
LABOTTThere's a lot of questions about due process for this American couple. It's opened up questions of racism against Asians, why would they want to adopt an African child? They're probably trafficking her. A lot of horrible accusations, the California Innocence Project, which takes about 20 cases out of 2,000 applicants a year, has really been working on this case, saying that this is a travesty of justice. And now, the couple is afraid that without some kind of U.S. political intervention, they're gonna have to spend many years in jail.
LABOTTAnd so, now the U.S. government is slowly starting to put up the pressure on the Qatari government to let them go, to lift their travel ban and let them go home. Then their next -- the ruling on whether they're gonna be sent -- how long they'll be sentenced is on their appeal hearing is on November 30. We're gonna be watching...
REHMSo the couple says she has an eating disorder, the court says they were starving her?
LABOTTThey were -- the court says they were starving her and in fact, the prosecutor presented an autopsy report that said that, you know, she died of starvation but when the defense lawyers and pathologists got a hold of that report, they found that no autopsy was ever taken from the girl, so it opens up a lot of questions about the fairness of this trial, for this American couple.
REHMElise Labott of CNN, Yochi Dreazen of Foreign Policy, he's the author of the book, "The Invisible Front," and Mark Landler, he's White House correspondent for The New York Times. Thank you all, have a great weekend.
REHMAnd thanks to all of you for listening, have a great weekend, I'm Diane Rehm.
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