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tv   Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson  NBC  January 17, 2016 4:30pm-5:00pm PST

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at animal rescue tv. sharyl: hello, i'm sharyl attkisson. welcome to "full measure." we begin today with the epic controversy over guantanamo bay -- gitmo, for short. it's the u.s. military base on the southeastern tip of cuba. the base has many purposes since it was established over a century ago. mostly, it's now known for the military prison holding enemy combatants since the war on terror began in 2001. the promise to close gitmo has been the alpha and omega of ththe obama administration. president obama declared his intention in his first address to the nation as
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last. the question is -- can he? pres. obama: i will keep working to shut down the prison at guanta. namo. it is expensive, it is unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies. sen. graham:here will be a bipartisan backlash, a constitutional crisis, if he tries to do this. sharyl: republican senator lindsey graham is a chief critic of efforts to close guantanamo sen. graham: his campaign promise will not be fulfilled. the problem with president obama, he doesn't understand that his campaign promises have to yield to reality. sharyl: are you saying it won't be closed down? sen. graham: no. sharyl: how can it be stopped? senator graham: congress won't let it. sharyl: the debate has gone on since almost the start. the gitmo prison was opened during the george w. bush administration after the september 11 terrorist attacks on the u.s. >> two planes apparently crashed into each tower. sharyl: the first 20 detainees arrived just four months after
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nearly 800 suspected islamic extremist enemy combatants have spent time there. 9 have died, 678 have been released or transferred, most of them under bush. around a third of those have returned to the battlefield. carol rosenberg is the military affairs correspondent for the "miami herald" who's covered gitmo since the first detainees arrived. carol: nobody knew anything about them. attitudes were really, really raw. remember, this was jan. 11 following the september 11th attacks. we were told that these were the worst of the worst. and i think there was a lot of fear, certainly by the troops and other people there, about who would come off that airplane. sharyl: back in 2002, the u.s. military allowed rosenbe and a small group of journalists to observe as the detainees were taken to camp x-ray at guantanamo bay. that early meshift prison is the image many remember -- and the prisoners processed while on their kneeees, shackled and blindfolded.
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beginning was extremely organic. the military welcomed suggestions, and we could go to them and say we want to see them arriving, we'd like to see them at prayer, we'd like to see them in the morning. sharyl: that was then. now, the days of openness at gitmo are over. carol: access is extremely limited. we are no longer allowed to see the detainees. now they've locked them away into bldings and i haven't seen inside the detention center since i was there for ramadan this summer and the last reporters allowed in the detention center was in october. sharyl: a string of events led to secrecy and controversy. there were allegations of torture and abuse at guantanamo under the bush administration. carol: we're talking about the abuse by association at abu ghraib that was described as gitmotizing. sharyl: president obama made closing gitmo his first promise as chief executive. pres. obama: in this first
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guantanamo will be closed no later than one year by now. sharyl: congress responded in 2010 by prohibiting prisoner transfers to the u.s. that led tnew controversies with the obama administration leasing detainees to other countries. president obama: i told bob and jannie that their son bowe is coming home. as part of this transfer, the united states is transferring five detainees from guantanamo. sharyl: in 2014, the white house made a secret deal to trade so-called high value taliban prisoners for alleged u.s. military deserter sgt. bowe bergdahl. the obama administration failed to provide congress the required notice, saying it had to act quickly. part of the argument to close guantanamo bay is its enormous cost. the prison facilities built to hold hundreds is nearly empty. with the current population around 90 and an annual budget
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dollars, it works out to $4.4 million dollars per detainee per year. that's about 62 times the $70,000 cost for a prisoner at a maximum-security federal prison in the u.s. carol: we called it the most expensive prison on earth. it's a very redundant operation and it's very complicated, built on the fly, over time, and at this point there's very few people. sharyl: the administration moved more detainees in recent days and additional transfers are soon expected. carol: what's going on this month will take it down to 90. what they're trying to get to is what they call the irreducible minimum, whom they will not let go. sharyl: the remaining question -- if the president does manage to close gitmo, where do those "worst of the worst" go? the white house says some will come to the u.s. >> if we do have to bring some of those individuals to the united states, we are going to
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we are already housing dozens of convicted terrorist in american prisons right now. sen. graham: 49 are deemed by his own administration as too dangerous to be released. what do you do with those 49? they're not coming to the united states. there's no way congress is going to fund the ansfer of these is prisoners from guantanamo bay to some jail in the united states under these circumstances. sharyl: democrat alan grayson doesn't see a risk to allowing detainees to come to the u.s. rep. grayson: is there really any doubt that we would lose control over the prisoners of guantanamo bay if they were not at guantanamo bay? sharyl: graham insists since congressional funds e needed to transfer prisoners, it's the republican-led congress, not the president, who will decide guantanamo's fate. sen. graham: anybody who believes now is the time to close guantanamo bay is delusional, and i would say this is a further sense of president obama's delusion about how the war is actually going. he has no idea. he has no idea about the threats we face.
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last thing he would do. sharyl: you're calling president obama delusional on this. sen. graham: yeah. totally. he's totally delusional about the state of play in the mideast. sharyl: in the recent defense spending bill, congress included a ban on transferring prisoners to the u.s. president obama said the gitmo part might violate the separation of powers. that leaves open the ideas that he could try to use executive authority to again bypass congress. still ahead on "full measure" -- many of the enemy combatants at guantanamo were once important al qaeda players who plotted against america. we'll talk to one man whose cia team caught them. gary berntsen: the five individuals that president obama released in return for a deserter were essentially the national security council for the taliban for mala omar. they were the leadership of the taliban who commanded their intelligence apparatus and their
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sharyl: in the very early days of the war on terror, members of the cia and special operations teams were on the ground in afghanistan seeking high value members of the taliban and al qaeda. in 2001, gary berntsen commanded the cia's so-called jawbreaker team. many of those captured by his team went to guantanamo. gary: when you look at guantanamo, i think the public needs to understand that the individuals, the vast majority
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99% of the people that are there were captured on a battlefield where they were conducting activities that were not consistent with legal warfare, human rights, they'rgenocidal killers, they were criminals and terrorists in many, many ways. they were ken to guantanamo to be held so that they would not be attacking us again. sharyl: which, for people who don't understand, which allows us to do what? gary: well, it allows us to hold them as prisoners in a u.s. compound outside the territotorial jurisdiction of the united states. and by doing so, it allows us to legally keep them outside the bounds of the u.s. constitution. sharyl: what's the fear with giving them constitutional rights and convicting them here and holding them in prison? gary: the problem that we have is that many of these individuals were captured on a
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scene. it wasn't like the new york city police department coming into a location where a murder had been, and they picked up a weapon and they had finger prints on the bullets -- all of the aspects of a criminal investigation in a court of law. if an individual, according to the geneva convention, is not in uniform, doesn't have a designating patch, is not under the authority of competent authority, and is not following the rules of law, they're considered enemy combatants and they can be executed on the battlefield. we did not execute them on the battlefield,d, we chose to instead bring them to a facility and held them. we have created a legal morass and an administrative nightmare in the holding of these individuals. sharyl: by being, basicalllly, more humanitarian. gary: by attempting to be more humanitarian, but we should have brought those that we knew, like the five members of the taliban,
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conducted genocide. they all should have been hung or shot, but they were released. sharyl: who did you capture, what was your role on the team? gary: well, in 2001, i deployed teams several hundred miles behind enemy lines and captured key members of the taliban. one of the individuals of course was wasiq, the deputy chief of intelligence. he washen returned to the united states, sent to gitmo, and he and the other four who all played prominent roles -- minister of defense, governor of coast, chief of staff of the army -- these were really big players. sharyl: tell me about those guys, the capture of those guys, some of who were released, and what's your reflection on that? gary: some of those individuals of course were captured had been members of security forces, had been members of the security apparatus, and had actually been in charge of organizing
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there'd be ten thousand men cheering. a pick-up truck would drive in, there'd be four women in the back, they'd have leashes on them. they drive around, everyone cheering, they would take them off, and then those women were executed in front of cheering crowds of taliban. sharyl: for having done what? gary: for having purportedly cheated on their husbands, essentially their husbands didn't want them anymore. and it's said that they had violated islamic law and they were being executed. individuals that had been released from guantanamo, at least one-third of the individuals who had been released have returned to the battlefield, have been confirmed to have returned to the battlefield. all those individuals present a clear and present danger to the united states and its ales. they have a super-ideology of jihadism, a knowledge of weapons and tactics, a history of having murdered people in cold blood, and an intense hatred of the
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political system and our social system, and are committed to killing us and our families. the united states' handling of those individuals at guantanamo may seem to be harsh by a generation that didn't live through the conflict or was unaware of it, but really they had been, it has been very soft and it's been a light hand, and i think it's a great mistake. sharyl: but we were told they wouldn't go back on the battlefield. gary: we were told they would not go back to the battlefield -- and if anyone believes that, they're a fool. sharyl: you played a personal role in their capture or in directing the teams to capture? gary: well, they were my teams that actually did the capture, but i'll say this. had i known now, i mean had i known then what i know now, i'm actually just sorry we didn't execute them on the battlefield. i really am. sharyl: in 2014, the obama administration released two of
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swap for u.s. army alleged deserter and talib prisoner -- sergeant bowe bergdahl. berghdahl is currently undergoing trial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. still to come on "full measure" -- uncovering what the government doesn't want you to know -- some claim it's more difficult now than ever.
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may help change that. sharyl: this week, the house passed a new bill to help lift the veil of government secrecy. that, as a new report from the house oversight committee finds the freedom of information act -- or foia -- is broken. the law, signed by president lyndon johnson 50 years ago, was supposed to make it easier for americans to access public records. but critics say government agencies have adopted an "unlawful presumption in favor of secrecy" that does not measure up. rep. chaffetz: we have to remember whoe work for. we work for the american people and the american people are paying the tab, it's their
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right to know. sharyl: republican jason chaffetz heads the house oversight committee, which issued the new report after bipartisan hearings last summer on the broken freedom of information, or foia, process. i, along with representatives from vice news, the "new york times," and others testified about egregious violations by federal agencies, which frequently fail to provide public information in the 20 business days required under foia law. in 2013, the defense department finally responded to a foia request i'd made in 2003. too late to be of use for the news story i was working on back then. for some perspective, my daughter was eight years old when i made the foia request. by the time i got a response from the pentagon, she was going off to college. jason: i have submitted thousands of foia requests to dozens of different agencies, and in my experience, fewer than one percent of my requests have been decided within the framework required by foia. sharyl: the news media and public may sue the government to get the information.
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the government uses your tax dollars to defend itself. david: a citizen's right to get information released in a timely fashion should not turn on whether the citizen is fortunate enough to have the resesources and know-how to sue. sharyl: the new report from the house oversight committee says backlogs of freedom of information act requests have more than doubled since president obama took office, and agencies are sitting on thousands of unfulfilled document requests. congressman elijah cummings of maryland is the top democrat on the oversight committee. rep. cummings: the obama administration -- which i believe will go down in history as one of the most transparent administrations to date. sharyl: he calls the report "erroneous," "highly partisan," and "incomplete." rep. cummings: from 2009-2014, the overall number of foia requests submitted to fed agencies increased by 28% with new records set in each of the past 4 years. sharyl: still, cummings agrees foia reform is needed. rep. cummings: congress must give these agencies more
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sharyl: this week, the house voted on a bill that he co-sponsored to strengthen foia law. >> the bill is passed. without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. sharyl: the bipartisan bill would require government agencies to update regulations, post frequently requested information online, and release all information not covered by national security after 25 years. rep. issa: we regularly use the freedom of information act and we regularly find ourselves frustrated. sharyl: republican darrell issa of california co-sponsored the ia bill. rep. issa: no longer after this bill is signed into law will an administration - republican or democratic - be able to presume that they are going to say no if they possibly can. instead, this bill shifts the burden to the presumption of yes. sharyl: the bill also would create one single website people could use to submit foia requests to any government agency. a similar bill is awaiting a vote in the senate.
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it. coming up on "full measure" -- we te a look at some of our favorite things. like cling out the government for wasting your money on things like this. know this man? of course you do -- walt disney, father of mickey mouse. then why did the federal
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about him? sharyl: in this week's "follow the money," a new report --
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spending." it highlights 51 examples of taxpayer waste adding up to $27 billion, as identified by sen. john mccain. we first asked him about a $25,000 national endowment for the arts grant for an art project entitled "something rotten." sen. mccain: it is garbage art. that is what they happened to be paying money for. these are various depictions of garbage in a certain locations and in certain views of it. remarkable. sharyl: the national endowment for the humanities used $600,000 for a two-hour film on walt disney. sen. mccain: in my generation and later generations, we grew up on walt disney. why you would have to spend $600,000 to further educate the american people of walt disney -- we all love walt disney.
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study drunk k zebra finch birds. sen. mccain: the zebra finch birds. first of all, i'm not familiar with the zebra finches. [laughter] sen.ccain: it is hilarious -- to see if they changed their tone when they are under the influence? well, my tone -- [laughter] anyway. it makes you laugh and it makes you cry. sharyl: sometimes, it is about choices. the national guard is $100 million in debt and spent $14,000 on bubble balls. sen. mccain: it was some harebrained idea somebody had. one of the other aspects of the national guard is professional sports teams charging the tax payers for honoring the veterans, honoring the men and women who served. you would think that this is a great thing that the new york jets are honoring our veterans or our men and women who are
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being paid for it. sharyl: $3.5 million on wine tasting. what is that about? sen. mccain: sure. the wineries do that themselves, rather than have the government do that. this was part of their program. to promote wine. sharyl: mismanaged fema grants. sen. mccain: after hurricane katrina, billions of dollars have been spent and all americans are in favor of that reconstruction in new orleans and areas surroundinoug it. unfortunately, a lot of that money was wasted. we know that. that is just one of a small number that i can identify. sharyl: $413 million to be wasted on duplicate state department training centers. are facilities being built?
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need another training center. the fact is no one else believed they needed it, including the inspector general, who said that it was totally unnecessary. it was just one of those kind of ideas -- let's have another one. even though it was not necessary. we laugh about the birds getting drunk, but when you see something like that, there is no humor there -- it is anger -- the problem is we don't hold people accountable. sharyl: as chairman of the senate armed services committee, senator mccain helped amend the 2016 national defense budget to limit the pentagon's use of millions of tax dollars for professional sports advertising until it reviews current contracts to see if it's worth it. and speaking of outrageous spending, on the next "full measure" -- non-profits and public charities raise over $1.7 trillion a year. they show $3 trillion in assets. with all that money, we found that a lot of their executives are taking home uncharitably huge salaries.
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of people would be surprised by how much money the executives are bringing home putting in their own pocket. sharyl: that's next week on "full measure." coming up soon, scott thuman will report from cologne, germany -- the assault on women on new year's eve by groups of men from north africa and the middle east. it created an uproar across europe and are bringing a new, hard look at the open door refugee policy. the sexual assaults are called "the rape game." they are common in many arab countries -- particularly egypt. we will hear from women who were attacked and leaders who want to stop the assaults. and maybe the influx of refugees. thank you for watching. i'm sharyl attkisson. until next time, we'll be
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