PBS NewsHour full episode March 8, 2018

PBS NewsHour full episode March 8, 2018
    HARI SREENIVASAN: Good evening.
    I'm Hari Sreenivasan.
    Judy Woodruff is away.
    On the "NewsHour" tonight:
    DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: Today, I'm defending America's national security
    by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: President Trump raises the stakes in a potential trade war, amid warnings
    from his own party and threats of global retaliation.
    Then: the politics of trade.
    A key trade adviser to the Trump White House underscores the threat of China and explains
    the president's rush for tariffs.
    PETER NAVARRO, Director, White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy: Trade is
    Tariffs and the threat of tariffs are a negotiating tool to require countries like China to stop
    their unfair trade practices.
    That's the mission.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: And revelations about the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    A new book reports on missed opportunities, mixed priorities, and failed operations in
    what has become America's longest war.
    All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
    HARI SREENIVASAN: President Trump has made good on his vow to impose steep tariffs on
    two imported metals.
    The orders he signed today set a 25 percent levy on foreign steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
    He makes an exemption for Canada and Mexico while negotiating changes to the North American
    Free Trade Agreement.
    The tariffs are set to take effect in 15 days.
    Mr. Trump signed the orders with industry workers looking on after arguing the tariffs
    are vital.
    DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: The American steel and aluminum industry has
    been ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices.
    It's really an assault on our country.
    It's been an assault.
    The actions we are taking today are not a matter of choice.
    They are a matter of necessity for our security.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: House Speaker Paul Ryan and other leading Republicans oppose the tariffs.
    Speaking in Atlanta today, Ryan argued for a focus on China.
    PAUL RYAN (R-WI), Speaker of the House: I'm just not a fan of broad-based across-the-board
    tariffs, because I think you will have a lot of unintended consequences.
    You will have a lot of collateral damage.
    Not just consumers, but businesses.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hours before the president's announcement, 11 Asian-Pacific signed a pact
    to slash tariffs on their mutual trade.
    President Trump withdrew the U.S. from that agreement last year.
    We will examine his actions today right after the news summary.
    In the day's other news: Lawmakers in Florida sent a newly adopted gun control bill to Republican
    Governor Rick Scott.
    He wouldn't say if he will sign it.
    The bill passed the state House on Wednesday.
    It sets a minimum age of 21 to purchase rifles, and also creates a program for arming teachers
    who get training.
    The Mississippi legislature today approved an abortion bill that would likely be the
    most restrictive in the nation.
    It outlaws the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
    A number of states now have limits of 20 weeks.
    Mississippi's Republican governor says he will sign the bill, but abortion rights groups
    have promised to sue.
    The Northeastern U.S. has started digging out after the second big storm in a week.
    Parts of New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts got two feet of snow in the last 24 hours,
    and Dover, Vermont, got 2.5 feet.
    Crews worked overnight to remove downed trees, plow highways and clear railway tracks.
    Some 800,000 customers were in the dark, including some who lost power in the first storm.
    In Britain, a former Russian spy and his daughter are still critically ill after being poisoned
    by a nerve agent.
    Police also say 21 others needed treatment after Sunday's attack, but most have recovered.
    The investigation is continuing, but officials are not directly blaming Russia, so far.
    Dan Rivers of Independent Television News has our report.
    DAN RIVERS: It is a sign of the severity of the potential hazard that fire crews were
    being equipped with protective suits and masks today as they approached the bench where Sergei
    and Yulia Skripal were found, as senior officers watching on as the crew re-secured a forensic
    tent over the scene.
    This afternoon, the officer who was hospitalized after first attending the incident was named
    as Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.
    He has now regained consciousness and is in serious, but stable condition.
    MAN: He's well.
    He sat up.
    He's not the Nick that I know, but, of course, he's receiving a high level of treatment.
    He's in the safe hands of the medical professionals.
    DAN RIVERS: The government has not confirmed precisely which nerve agent was used, but
    was trenchant in its condemnation of the culprits.
    AMBER RUDD, British Home Secretary: The use of a nerve agent on U.K. soil is a brazen
    and reckless act.
    This was attempted murder in the most cruel and public way.
    People are right to want to know who to hold to account.
    DAN RIVERS: Yulia and Sergei Skripal and remain in a critical condition, pictured here in
    the Zizzi restaurant which they may also have visited on Sunday.
    This CCTV of them leaving shows Yulia holding a red handbag.
    This photo of the immediate aftermath of the incident shows her handbag discarded on the
    ground as a police officer not wearing any productive suit or mask gathers evidence.
    At Sergei Skripal's house, several tents have now been put up and the cordon around it has
    been extended.
    It's not clear why the police activity at Sergei Skripal's house has increased so markedly
    today, but it's possible officers are looking to see if there are any traces of the nerve
    agent inside the property.
    Sergei Skripal's wife and son both died in recent years and are buried in Salisbury,
    a family consumed by repeated tragedy, with some now wondering if their deaths were more
    than just terrible coincidences.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: Sergei Skripal had once been a double agent for Britain before being
    caught and later freed in a spy swap.
    Fresh disclosures today about the investigation of possible Russian links to the Trump campaign.
    The Washington Post reported there's evidence that a meeting between a Trump backer and
    a Russian official before the inauguration aimed to create a back channel with the Kremlin.
    And The New York Times reported the president has asked two key witnesses about their conversations
    with investigators.
    Meanwhile, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty today to tax evasion
    and bank fraud in federal court in Virginia.
    Turkey announced plans today for a joint operation with Iraqi forces against Kurdish rebels in
    Northern Iraq.
    It could start after Iraq's elections on May 12.
    The Turks are already attacking U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria.
    The Turks say they're allied with rebels inside Turkey.
    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared today the U.S. commitment to Africa is clear.
    That's after President Trump triggered outrage in January with a slur about African nations.
    Today in Ethiopia, Tillerson met with a top African Union official, who said it's time
    to move past the uproar.
    MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Chadian Politician (through translator): I believe that this incident
    is behind us.
    I believe that the visit today by the U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson is the proof
    of the relations between Africa and the United States.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: This is Tillerson's first diplomatic trip to Africa.
    He will also stop in Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria.
    This was International Women's Day, with marches and demonstrations across the world.
    In the Philippines, hundreds of women clad in pink protested in Manila accusing President
    Rodrigo Duterte of violating women's rights.
    Spanish women in Madrid brought traffic to a standstill during a full-day strike against
    the wage gap and gender violence.
    And in New Delhi, hundreds marched toward the Indian Parliament to highlight sexual
    Some carried signs reading "Don't rape" and other slogans.
    The U.S. Forest Service named an interim chief today in a shakeup over alleged sexual misconduct.
    Vicki Christiansen is a former firefighter.
    She will succeed Tony Tooke.
    He retired yesterday following a "NewsHour" investigation into an alleged culture of sexual
    harassment and assault at the agency.
    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 94 points to close at
    The Nasdaq rose 31 points, and the S&P 500 added 12.
    And it turns out fake news travels six times faster than the real thing, at least on Twitter.
    Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reached that conclusion after
    reviewing millions of tweets spanning 10 years.
    They say, even accounting for the influence of bots, fake news moves farther, faster,
    deeper and more broadly than the truth.
    Twitter funded the study.
    Still to come on the "NewsHour": the Trump economic adviser behind the steel and aluminum
    tariffs; from the "NewsHour" Bookshelf, America's secret wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan; a
    Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist sketches the faces of homelessness; and much more.
    The president's decision to impose stiff tariffs on aluminum and steel could lead to bigger
    trade battles in the months to come.
    This afternoon, President Trump said his actions would lead to new manufacturing and jobs.
    He cited both economic security and national security as the justification for doing so.
    Mr. Trump says those metals are crucial for building military weapons and aircraft, and
    there must be enough U.S. facilities that can produce aluminum and steel domestically.
    But, after pressure, the president has exempted Canada and Mexico for now and suggested flexibility
    for other countries as well.
    Peter Goodman covers global economics for The New York Times and joins me from London
    via Skype.
    So, let's put this in perspective.
    Mr. Trump, even on the campaign trail, said this is about jobs, this is about economic
    security, but now the reason includes national security as well.
    PETER GOODMAN, The New York Times: Well, the national security claim is a direct nod to
    the World Trade Organization and the assumption that these tariffs are going to be challenged
    and there's going to be retaliation from a whole host of countries that are aggrieved,
    principally the European Union.
    We think we are going to get a challenge at the World Trade Organization from the European
    And this national security claim is a bet that the World Trade Organization, which is
    like the referee in the global trading system, will not be willing to question the sovereignty
    of a member country, and that they will defer to the right of a sovereign country to determine
    their own national security.
    But, you know, most economists, trade experts, they think -- I mean, I heard terms yesterday
    talking to economists like patently absurd, that there's just simply no legitimate claim
    that can be made on the basis of national security, because let's remember that something
    around 70 percent of the steel that is used in the United States is produced in the United
    So, whatever we want to discuss -- and, you know, there are issues to discuss in terms
    of the steel industry in the context of the global economy.
    There's a big glut of steel.
    A lot of it is produced in China.
    These are real issues.
    There are people out of work at steel plants in the United States, but you know, a lot
    of that's automation, it doesn't even have to do with trade.
    And the notion that somehow Americans are waking up imperiled by the fact that, you
    know, Canadians are making steel and aluminum, that's a tough one to sell.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: Let's just assume for a second.
    Let's say this nod to the World Trade Organization, this adding of national security keeps us
    out of that particular court.
    Couldn't other countries start to claim national security for their own trade tariffs and barriers?
    PETER GOODMAN: Well, precisely.
    In fact, a lot of people think that this tees up a kind of existential crisis for the World
    Trade Organization, because, whatever they do, it's going to set an unpleasant precedent
    that could disrupt global trade going forward.
    If they do say, OK, Washington, Trump administration, you do have the right to declare this a national
    security threat, then that does, indeed, open the door to just about any country that wants
    to protect a favored industry, with domestic politics getting involved in global trade
    issues, and they can say, well, this -- you know, the French could say, boy, cheese is
    so vital to us that the idea that Kraft could send us, you know, something like camembert
    or parmesan, we're going to call that national security.
    I'm obviously being facetious, but there are lots of examples.
    One economist told me this would open the floodgates to some very broad claims.
    On the other hand, if the World Trade Organization overturns this, if they say this is not a
    legitimate security claim, then that could prompt the Trump administration to either
    just ignore the order.
    I mean, this would be like the referee being ignored in an athletic match, and the match
    goes on.
    It undermines the credibility of the World Trade Organization.
    Or in the most extreme case, they could say other countries now have carte blanche to
    retaliate, and we could have a full-blown trade war, with potentially the Trump administration
    pulling out of the World Trade Organization.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: Let's explain also the exemption for Canada and for Mexico right now, while
    we are in active conversations looking at NAFTA.
    PETER GOODMAN: Well, we're not really clear on what just happened at the White House.
    I mean, we saw that the president signed these two orders launching these tariffs, 25 percent
    on steel, 10 percent on aluminum.
    And he did say that, for the time being, Canada and Mexico are going to be left out because
    we are currently renegotiating, the United States is renegotiating the North American
    Free Trade Agreement, this giant trade bloc that encompasses Canada, the United States
    and Mexico.
    And Mr. Trump has essentially combined that negotiation with this tariff proceeding.
    And a lot of trade experts say that that could undermine the claim of national security,
    both in the court of public opinion around the world and at the World Trade Organization,
    because, you know, if this is a question of, boy, we better make sure that we have got
    enough steel to make warships or weapons or whatever in the event of a real national security
    threat, then how can you treat it as a sort of trading chip in the context of a negotiation
    of a whole range of issues with Canada and Mexico?
    But that seems to be where we're headed, with potential other exemptions maybe for Australia.
    Mr. Trump suggested that he's going to look at how other nations are behaving, whether
    they're paying the bills, an apparent nod at NATO.
    It sounds like there is going to be a complex process, a real negotiation over who is going
    to have to pay these tariffs and who will be exempted.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Peter Goodman of The New York Times joining us via Skype
    from London, thanks so much.
    PETER GOODMAN: Thank you.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: The president's decision comes after months of debate within the White
    House, the government and among many businesses about how to handle trade and tariffs.
    One of the key figures in the White House who has made a case for these actions is the
    president's adviser Peter Navarro.
    Economics correspondent Paul Solman has spent some time looking at the ideas and philosophy
    that drive Navarro.
    He's back with an updated report for our weekly installment, Making Sense.
    DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: China.
    China all the time.
    PAUL SOLMAN: China and unfair trade, key Trump themes for years.
    So this week's tariffs, as pushed by a favorite film of his, "Death By China," should come
    as no surprise.
    MAN: China has stolen thousands of our factories and millions of our jobs.
    Multinational corporation profits are soaring, and we now owe over $3 trillion to the world's
    largest communist nation.
    PAUL SOLMAN: The filmmaker, Peter Navarro, was also quite clear when we met during the
    PETER NAVARRO, Director, White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy: We're going
    right down the toilet, and it's a made-in-China toilet.
    PAUL SOLMAN: Navarro, an economist then at the University of California, Irvine, was
    the campaign's main trade adviser, is now the White House's right-hand man on trade.
    So how'd you get interested in and worried about China?
    PETER NAVARRO: I teach MBAs.
    And I noticed, starting a few years after China joined the World Trade Organization,
    that a lot of my students were no longer employed.
    They were still coming to get their MBA, but they'd lost their jobs.
    And I started to ask questions why.
    And, at that point, all roads were leading to Beijing.
    PAUL SOLMAN: Navarro has done plenty of technical work in economics, is a pioneer in online
    But he began focusing on China just a few years ago.
    PETER NAVARRO: The defining moment in American economic history is when Bill Clinton lobbied
    to get China into the World Trade Organization.
    It was the worst political and economic mistake in American history in the last 100 years.
    PAUL SOLMAN: In the last 100 years?
    PETER NAVARRO: In the last 100 years, yes.
    China went into the World Trade Organization and agreed to play by certain rules.
    Instead, they are illegally subsidizing their exports, manipulating their currency, stealing
    all of our intellectual property, using sweatshops, using pollution havens.
    What happens is, our businesses and workers are playing that game with two hands tied
    behind their back.
    PAUL SOLMAN: Navarro said you could even see the effects in Irvine, where Chinese students
    pay top dollar and flood the university, while their parents scoop up local real estate.
    PETER NAVARRO: Generally all cash deals.
    PAUL SOLMAN: So your argument is, unfair trade practices, they amass dollars, they bring
    the dollars back here, they buy up property, and they drive up real estate prices?
    PETER NAVARRO: That's right.
    And they drive up rents for younger people.
    They will drive up home prices for first-time homebuyers.
    So it's not just that we're losing jobs and factories.
    We're giving away our homes, our businesses, our companies, our technologies.
    PAUL SOLMAN: But, of course, we heard the same alarm about Japan in the 1980s, a false
    But China is different, says Navarro, so much bigger.
    DONALD TRUMP: We are going to enforce all trade violations against any country that
    PAUL SOLMAN: The new tariffs, however, don't much affect China directly.
    Canada is the largest exporter of steel and aluminum to the U.S., and though, for now,
    Canada and Mexico are exempted, tariffs would hit seven other bigger metal-exporters than
    But Navarro has said that China simply built too many mills, driving down prices and killing
    U.S. firms.
    Today, President Trump said the same.
    DONALD TRUMP: Other countries have added production capacity that far exceeds demand and flooded
    the market with cheap metal that is subsidized by foreign governments, creating jobs for
    their country and taking away jobs from our country.
    For example, it takes China about one month to produce as much steel as they produce in
    the United States in an entire year.
    PAUL SOLMAN: The new tariffs are being widely attacked as protectionism, however.
    Over 100 free trade Republicans signed a letter opposing them.
    But when we talked to Peter Navarro 18 months ago, he insisted tariffs weren't anything
    of the kind.
    PETER NAVARRO: Wrong word.
    Wrong word.
    PAUL SOLMAN: What's wrong?
    PETER NAVARRO: Donald Trump is not a protectionist.
    All he wants to do is defend America against unfair trade practices.
    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, defend, protect.
    PETER NAVARRO: Very different.
    Trade is good.
    Tariffs and the threat of tariffs are a negotiating tool to require countries like China to stop
    their unfair trade practices.
    That's the mission.
    PAUL SOLMAN: But what about retaliation?
    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced his own tariff targets.
    JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, President, European Commission (through translator): Harley-Davidson, on
    blue jeans, Levis, on bourbon.
    We can also do stupid.
    We also have to be this stupid.
    PAUL SOLMAN: Which prompted this London front page on Tuesday.
    In China, Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned:
    WANG YI, Chinese Foreign Minister (through translator): Choosing a trade war is a wrong
    The outcome will only be harmful.
    China would have to make a proper and necessary response.
    PAUL SOLMAN: Such tough talk has left Peter Navarro unfazed.
    Here he is last week.
    PETER NAVARRO: I don't believe any country in the world is going to retaliate, for the
    simple reason that we are the most lucrative and biggest market in the world.
    PAUL SOLMAN: And the fact that tariffs will increase costs to U.S. firms and consumers,
    in this case those using aluminum and steel?
    Here's Navarro's response on "FOX News Sunday."
    PETER NAVARRO: If you look at a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, a six-pack of beer or
    Coke, that's a cent-and-a-half.
    If you look at the other end of the spectrum, Boeing 777, it's one of the best airliners
    ever made, it's a $330 million aircraft.
    We are talking about an increase in cost at the worst of $25,000.
    So, when you're talking about these massive costs or whatever as a fact, it's not.
    There are no downstream price effects on our industries that are significant.
    PAUL SOLMAN: Added up, however, the overall costs would be in the billions, to which Navarro's
    answer back in 2016 still holds.
    PETER NAVARRO: Any increase would be less than the paycheck that all these people would
    be getting, both in terms of actually having a job, plus wages rising again.
    The Trump trade doctrine is this.
    America will trade with any country, so long as that deal meets these three criterion:
    You increase the GDP growth rate, you decrease the trade deficit, and you strengthen the
    manufacturing base.
    PAUL SOLMAN: But isn't technology responsible for the elimination of American factory jobs?
    PETER NAVARRO: Certainly, technology has played a part, but the dramatic change from 5.5 decades
    of 3.5 percent rate of growth prior to China entering our markets with illegally subsidized
    goods and the 1.8 percent afterwards suggests strongly that China has played an enormous
    role in the decline and downfall of the American economy.
    And I can show on a blackboard exactly why.
    PAUL SOLMAN: Now, your typical economist would hardly agree.
    But, hey, says Navarro, your typical economist still believes in the old so-called Keynesian
    approach to reviving the economy.
    PETER NAVARRO: All right, Paul, the growth of any nation is simply four things.
    PAUL SOLMAN: More consumption, C, by consumers and more G, government spending.
    He and Trump, however, will supposedly flip the script, stimulating more I, investment,
    by business, via tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, while boosting net exports
    through new trade deals.
    That's exports minus imports.
    PETER NAVARRO: That's right.
    PAUL SOLMAN: And, of course, if that's a negative number, that is, you have more imports than
    PETER NAVARRO: This is the big kahuna.
    This is what Donald Trump understands.
    This is the trade deficit.
    We run a trade deficit of close to $800 billion a year.
    And so this directly subtracts from this.
    This is why we're stuck in low-growth mode.
    PAUL SOLMAN: Actually, growth has picked up considerably since Navarro and I talked.
    Few economists think unbalanced trade was hampering it.
    And even fewer think the new tariffs will.
    A typical critic is Josh Bolten, who runs the Business Roundtable.
    JOSH BOLTEN, President, Business Roundtable: This will cause huge damage across broad sectors
    of the economy.
    You maybe will be able to give a little bit of help to the steel and aluminum industries.
    You're going to cause damage across any number of downstream industries and any number of
    industries that export to countries that are likely to retaliate.
    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, I guess we will see.
    The Trump-Navarro policy of tax cuts to boost investment and tariffs to defend American
    producers will get a test run at last, for better or worse.
    For the "PBS NewsHour," this economics correspondent Paul Solman.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: For the record, we have repeatedly requested interviews on trade with
    members of the Trump administration.
    Our requests have not yet been granted.
    The United States has been fighting in Afghanistan for more than 16 years.
    It's a war fought mostly against the Taliban, a group that exists due in large part to the
    intelligence services of Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan.
    Nick Schifrin speaks now with the author of a new book who charts Pakistan's shadow war
    and its tense relations with the United States.
    NICK SCHIFRIN: Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires.
    So goes the saying that describes why the U.S. has faced a seemingly impossible task
    since 2001.
    But the fact is, the fate of the U.S.' longest war was never preordained.
    The U.S. has made many mistakes and has struggled with Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan.
    And perhaps the definitive version of that story is in a new book, "Directorate S: The
    CIA and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan" by Steve Coll, the dean and
    Henry Luce professor of journalism at the Columbia Journalism School.
    Steve Coll, welcome to the program.
    STEVE COLL, Author, "Directorate S: The CIA and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and
    Pakistan": Thank you for having me.
    NICK SCHIFRIN: This is a book about 9/11, the aftermath of war in Afghanistan, and it
    is titled "Directorate S."
    What is Directorate S, and why is it at the heart of this story?
    STEVE COLL: So, it's the covert action arm of the Pakistani intelligence service known
    as ISI.
    And it's the arm that has supported the Taliban both before and after 9/11, that has worked
    at times in collaboration with the CIA during the 1980s war, and then against American interests
    after 2001, to try to seek influence for Pakistan in Afghanistan through these Islamist militias.
    And it is at the heart of the war because the sanctuary the Taliban have enjoyed in
    Pakistan and the support that they have been able to get covertly from ISI has been one
    of the major reasons why the U.S. has not been able to stabilize Afghanistan, despite
    sending tens of thousands of combat troops to the country along with NATO allies.
    NICK SCHIFRIN: As you say, Pakistan has been doing this for a long time.
    But there was a moment in 2004, you write, that it seems like Pakistan could have once
    and for all kind of turned its back on the Taliban, and it didn't.
    Why not?
    STEVE COLL: Well, it's interesting.
    There was this period of relative peace after the fall of the Taliban government in December
    And by the time you get to 2004, in Afghanistan, you have a successful presidential election.
    Parliamentary elections are on the way.
    A constitution has been restored.
    Many Afghans have come home from exile.
    But Pakistan is still trying to see what kind of neighborhood they are going to be in after
    the Americans are gone.
    The United States goes off and fights in Iraq, quickly gets bogged down there.
    And then I think another factor that motivated Pakistan and its intelligence service was
    that the United States cut a strategic nuclear deal with India around this period, essentially
    forgiving India for breaking out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and building atomic
    And it told Pakistan at the same time, you're not getting that deal, and because you're
    not trustworthy.
    Pakistani high command basically looked at this and said, look, we can't rely on the
    United States, and they're not going to stay in Afghanistan for very long.
    We have to prosecute our own interests.
    They feared an Afghanistan that was consolidating its independence and might become an ally
    of India, which, for Pakistan, that's what it's all about.
    NICK SCHIFRIN: You write about this extraordinary moment in 2014 which is a reflection of some
    of the tensions perhaps in Pakistan and some of the U.S. fears in Pakistan.
    How close did some disgruntled Pakistani navy people and Al-Qaida get to seizing a ship
    with nuclear weapons?
    STEVE COLL: Well, it's an underpublicized episode.
    And I hope we will learn more about it over time.
    But I came across some really stunning material about these young Pakistani naval officers
    who had lashed up with Al-Qaida in the tribal areas of Pakistan and had decided to seize
    control of a Pakistani missile ship, take it into the Arabian Sea and attack U.S. vessels
    And they had a very -- they had keys.
    They had a sense of how the ship was organized, how they could store weapons aboard.
    They stored weapons in advance of their plan.
    And then they moved to seize the ship.
    They were defeated by commandos.
    Later, India's government circulated a report that this particular ship that they'd attacked
    contained nuclear weapons as part of Pakistan's seaborne deterrent, nuclear deterrent, against
    Now, I don't know whether that report is fully accurate.
    It comes from India, so it has to be taken with a grain of salt.
    But it's the first time we have had circulated reporting that terrorists attacked a facility
    where there were, at least in this report, some nuclear weapons.
    And, you know, this has been the nightmare scenario all along, and it's one of the contradictions
    in the U.S. war.
    When we went into Afghanistan, the Obama administration sat around in the Situation Room as it escalated
    the war, and it debated, what are the really vital interests that we have that justify
    putting young American men and women in harm's way?
    They identified two.
    One was Al-Qaida and its international terrorism menace.
    But the other was the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
    The trouble is, the more we escalated the war, the more we destabilized Pakistan, which
    leads to episodes like the one we just discussed.
    NICK SCHIFRIN: The Obama administration pushed for talks with the Taliban.
    And you have details that certainly I have never come across.
    Do you feel like the talks with the Taliban were bound to fail because the relationship
    between the Obama administration and Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, had deteriorated,
    or did they fail for other reasons?
    STEVE COLL: Well, the failure of the talks was partly related to the problem of the relationship
    with Hamid Karzai during the Obama administration.
    As you say, Karzai really blew up the talks at a moment when they looked like they might
    be fruitful.
    But there were other complications.
    One was, it wasn't really clear what the Taliban wanted from these negotiations.
    That was never tested before the talks blew up.
    Secondly, the relationship with ISI in Pakistan was again complicated.
    The Taliban secret representative, this man named Tayabaga (ph), remarkable character,
    you know, he kept saying to the Americans in these safe house where they were negotiating,
    I don't want to be a client of Pakistan.
    We're Afghans.
    We want to negotiate independently with you.
    You're in our country.
    We'd like to talk about how we can get you out of our country slowly, in a transition.
    But I don't want Pakistan to speak for us.
    But the Pakistanis told the Americans, you can't do this negotiation without us.
    And they started to act -- essentially act as agents for the Taliban.
    At one point, they delivered messages to the Americans in Mullah Omar's name.
    And the Americans could never quite figure out what the relationship between ISI and
    the Taliban leadership was in these negotiations.
    It made it very difficult to succeed.
    NICK SCHIFRIN: And one more thing about how U.S. soldiers fought this war.
    You talk about how U.S. soldiers went blind into battle, to a certain extent, not understanding
    the kind of historic nature of the Taliban's relationship with the people, and also a level
    of hubris that came from how easy the first few weeks or months of the war was.
    Did the U.S. ever really understand what to do on the ground in Afghanistan?
    STEVE COLL: Well, they fought a counterinsurgency war at the peak of U.S. military presence
    there, and there was kind of a fashionable bubble of doctrine around counterinsurgency
    theory that was applied to the Afghan war, after the perceived success in Iraq in 2007-2008.
    And Hamid Karzai warned the American generals who were arriving to carry out this counterinsurgency
    campaign that he didn't think it would work, he didn't think it was the right strategy,
    and he worried that all of this patrolling in villages and kicking down doors was going
    to alienate the Afghan people.
    But he really wasn't in a position to stop the American-led juggernaut at that point.
    And, ultimately, the war settled into a stalemate.
    And the Taliban held their ground.
    The CIA used to produce every six months -- maybe still does -- these classified maps with different
    colors indicating which district the Taliban controlled, which district the government
    controlled, which were contested.
    And they had different sort of unfurlings of them at the Situation Room.
    And, essentially, the colors didn't shift much, despite 150,000 international combat
    troops in Afghanistan fighting to roll the Taliban back.
    And even today, the map doesn't look much different, with U.S. troops down to 10,000
    or 15,000, the Afghan forces in the lead.
    NICK SCHIFRIN: The book is "Directorate S," the author, Steve Coll.
    Steve, thank you for being here.
    STEVE COLL: Thanks, Nick.
    Appreciate it.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: You can see Nick's entire interview with Steve Coll on our home page,
    A Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist is using his drawings to highlight the growing
    problem of homelessness in Southern California.
    Jeffrey Brown traveled to San Diego to get a first-hand look at the leading newspaper's
    cartoon series, "Street Art."
    JEFFREY BROWN: For a newspaper cartoonist like Steve Breen these days, there's one big
    STEVE BREEN, Editorial Cartoonist, The San Diego Union-Tribune: If you study Trump, you
    know, there's things about his lips that are interesting.
    His bushy eyebrows are fun.
    And then just the behavior and the speech is a treasure trove.
    JEFFREY BROWN: We watched Breen in action recently at his office at The San Diego Union-Tribune,
    where he's been the editorial cartoonist since 2001, twice winning the Pulitzer Prize.
    STEVE BREEN: Cartoonists are drawn to big egos, drawn to know-it-alls.
    We're drawn to bullies.
    And Trump has elements of all those.
    He's the best subject of my career.
    JEFFREY BROWN: But the 47-year-old spent much of past year on a very different kind of assignment,
    something closer to home, sketching men and women living on the streets of San Diego.
    STEVE BREEN: One of the jobs of an editorial cartoonist is to stick up for the little guy.
    And, literally, when you step out the door of this building, there are homeless people
    all over.
    And my editor and I got to talking one day, and we thought, what can we do that's different?
    What can we do that's interesting?
    So we wanted to use my cartooning to cast a light on the problem.
    JEFFREY BROWN: Last year, homelessness surged in major cities up and down the West Coast,
    driven by a lack of affordable housing, especially for those most in need.
    In San Diego, overall homelessness rose by 5 percent, and the number not using shelters
    by 18 percent.
    The city now has the fourth largest homeless population in the nation.
    STEVE BREEN: When you sit and do a drawing, you have to spend a little bit of time.
    You have to look into their eyes, you know?
    And you get a feel for them in a different way.
    JEFFREY BROWN: Breen wanted to find out who these people are.
    He called the series "Street Art."
    And he found the homeless all around the streets of his downtown office building.
    STEVE BREEN: I wanted to ask people why they think they're homeless.
    I wanted to hear stories about their childhood.
    I wanted to find out, you know, if they have tried the local shelter, and what they liked
    or didn't like about it.
    I wanted to find out where they want to be in a year.
    JEFFREY BROWN: Was it hard?
    I mean, did people want to talk to you?
    STEVE BREEN: It was easy.
    JEFFREY BROWN: Really?
    STEVE BREEN: It was incredibly easy.
    And I chalk that up to the fact that these people are rarely treated like a human being.
    JEFFREY BROWN: Breen's sketches and the animated videos that accompanied them told their stories.
    STEVE BREEN: They just needed a place to stay, so that they could find a job and kind of
    get their lives together.
    Jenny said she had nowhere to go, and she blew through her savings.
    She said she has serious mental illness, as well as other health issues.
    Coco (ph) found himself in the middle of America's burgeoning counterculture scene.
    He survived for years by selling drugs, mainly acid packs.
    Tammy (ph) says the streets are scary at night, no place for lady, as she puts it.
    This guy right here, Jack, he claims he was able to throw a 95-mile-an-hour fastball in
    high school.
    Yes, I think that the Chicago White Sox looked at him.
    Jack's dream today is to visit South Carolina, where he can meet his 6-year-old granddaughter,
    Natalia (ph), for the first time before he dies.
    He has her name tattooed on his arm, the same arm that he used in high school to throw those
    JEFF MOURNING, Homeless Person: Alcoholism and drug use.
    JEFFREY BROWN: On our walk with Breen, we met Jeff Mourning (ph), homeless for the last
    seven years.
    How hard is to live on the streets out here?
    JEFF MOURNING: It's actually pretty hard.
    People wait for people to go to sleep.
    And if they see that they look old like me, they have been hitting them in the head with
    pipes and everything downtown to try to rob them.
    JEFFREY BROWN: As it happens, Mourning is something of a cartoonist himself.
    His signs help him get by and have also gained attention online.
    You're on YouTube on funny homeless signs?
    JEFF MOURNING: Yes, if you look at that, you will see it.
    You see me with a sign that says "Spread some cheese on this broke cracker."
    JEFFREY BROWN: In his series, Steve Breen also highlighted a deadly hepatitis A outbreak
    and what many considered to be the city's slow response.
    STEVE BREEN: This is a handwashing station that recently popped up near the corner of
    A and Front street in downtown San Diego.
    Health officials have installed 40 of these around town to combat a hepatitis A outbreak
    that has claimed at least 15 lives and infected hundreds of people since it began in November
    of 2016.
    JEFFREY BROWN: So what do you hope people get from the series that you did?
    STEVE BREEN: I hope that people try to resist the thinking that homelessness is caused by
    laziness or some flaw in character.
    But that's really not what drives homelessness.
    It's mental illness.
    It's alcoholism, drug addiction and childhood abuse and neglect.
    JEFFREY BROWN: Breen says he's trying to stay in touch with the people he drew, hoping new
    portraits will emerge.
    You can see his entire "Street Art" series on The San Diego Union-Tribune's Web site.
    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown in San Diego.
    NCAA Basketball Tournament will captivate sports fans in the coming weeks.
    But here's the story of a team you won't see playing during March Madness.
    Tonight, tiny Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska, is playing in a regional post-season basketball
    tournament for Christian colleges.
    But as Mike Tobias of PBS station NET in Nebraska tells us, this season is about more than wins
    and losses for the Royals.
    MIKE TOBIAS: Coach Brandon Rogers is going easy on his team tonight.
    They have just played four games in five days, including trips to Arkansas, Oklahoma and
    South Dakota.
    And the eight-person team is down to seven.
    One player is sick and injured.
    For every big-money, high-profile college sports program you will see during March Madness,
    there's a tiny low-profile program like Grace University.
    The Royals compete in a national athletic association of about 100 small Christian colleges,
    and have won a few championships over the years.
    Unlike major conference schools, Grace doesn't have things like showers with heated floors,
    lockers with built-in iPads, chartered jets to games.
    The Royals travel in a rented 15-passenger van.
    It's a small college that started the season with a new young coach and big dreams.
    BRANDON ROGERS, Basketball Coach, Grace University: Our goal is to get to regionals.
    It's never been done since we have joined the Division I in the NCAA, so we're excited.
    We're hungry.
    MIKE TOBIAS: But a few weeks before games started, Grace announced it was closing after
    this school year.
    Low enrollment and financial challenges were the cause.
    MARISA BROWN, Grace University Basketball Player: My first reaction was, what?
    LORETTA GAMBOE, Grace University Basketball Player: Like, wait, what?
    No, I was supposed to graduate from here.
    I'm supposed to have my four years of basketball here.
    TSCHIDA JOHNSON, Grace University Basketball Player: Obviously, that hit us all very out
    of the blue.
    None of us expected that by any means.
    Some days are hard.
    And it's, man, like, this really sucks.
    What am I going to do next year?
    And helping each other through that.
    And then some days we joke about it, like, oh, our school is closing.
    Like, what is going on?
    And we make light of it.
    LORETTA GAMBOE: Coach will park in two parking spots with our van on trips and be like, oh,
    it's OK.
    Our school's closing.
    MIKE TOBIAS: The Royals are playing with a sense of responsibility to leave a lasting
    memory of Grace athletics, because they're the only team left on campus.
    Closure led to canceling the men's basketball season.
    BRANDON ROGERS: It is something incredible, because everyone's fighting for something
    right now.
    You know what I mean?
    We're fighting for next year, the unknown.
    We don't know what it is, but we all are doing it together.
    If you have a seal, she will at least know a wrap-around pass is there.
    MIKE TOBIAS: Rogers and his Royals know more about their next game, next opponent, than
    they do about next year.
    MARISA BROWN: There's nothing we can do to change it, so just enjoy the time we have
    LORETTA GAMBOE: God is good.
    I know that he has a plan for it, and he's going to take care of all of us.
    TSCHIDA JOHNSON: It's definitely brought it closer together, and now we really take every
    game to heart.
    We were all really looking forward to next season.
    And now there is no next season.
    MAN: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the final home game here at Grace
    MIKE TOBIAS: The Royals are all sophomores and juniors, most from other states.
    When Grace closes in May, they will head elsewhere to finish their degrees.
    Some may have a chance to keep playing basketball together in another school.
    ALYSSA STRICKLAND, Grace University Basketball Player: It's coming to an end.
    And it's -- it hit reality.
    I guess reality hit today.
    MARISA BROWN: Ended on a bang.
    Super proud about that.
    TSCHIDA JOHNSON: This is it.
    This is the last time.
    And it's my last season.
    MIKE TOBIAS: There may be more tournament games, a few more chances to make lasting
    memories, a last chance to make the last chapter of a small college's sports history a good
    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Mike Tobias in Omaha, Nebraska.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: And we will be back shortly with a poet's Brief But Spectacular take on
    creating a space for people who have historically been left out of the arts.
    But, first, take a moment to hear from your local PBS station.
    It's a chance to offer your support, which then produces the kind of stories you just
    saw, and keep programs like ours on the air.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: Next, we turn to another installment of our weekly Brief But Spectacular
    series, where we ask people about their passions.
    Tonight, we hear from award-winning poet Elizabeth Acevedo.
    Raised in New York City, she is the daughter of Dominican immigrants and frequently includes
    themes of race, gender, and oppression in her work.
    Acevedo's latest book, "The Poet X," became available this week.
    ELIZABETH ACEVEDO, Poet: This is for us writers, us readers, us girls who never saw ourselves
    on bookshelves, but we're still writing poems when we talk, and we have been called teeth-sucking,
    of snapping eyes, born bitter, brittle, of tangled tongues, sandpaper that's been origamied
    into girls, not worthy of being the hero, nor the author.
    But we were always Medusa's favorite daughters.
    Dreaming in the foreshadows, we composed ourselves, since childhood, taking pens to palms, as
    if we could rewrite the stanzas of lifelines that try to tell us we would never amount
    to much.
    And when we were relegated to the margin, we still danced bachata in the footnotes.
    We still strong-armed the gatekeepers.
    We still clawed our ways onto the cover, brought our full selves to the page, and wore every
    color palette and bouquet of pansies and big hoops and these here hips and smart ass quips
    and popping bubble gum kisses.
    Us girls who never saw ourselves on bookshelves, but were still writing tales in the dark.
    Us brown girls, brick built, masters of every metaphor and every metamorphosis, catch us
    with fresh manicures, nail filing down, obsidian stones and painstakingly crafting our own
    mirrors and stories into existence.
    This poem that I read for you all was my thinking through, what does it mean to be someone who
    maybe didn't grow up with a mirror and wanting to create that now, to see your reflection
    and also show kids who might look like you, like, hey, we're here.
    It's very much thinking about those of us who wrote even when we didn't see ourselves
    as main characters and for those of us who are writing now, who hopefully will come forward
    with more examples, but who are also going to carry the torch of saying, our stories
    are just as important as any other stories.
    I think
    a lot about the movements that are happening right now in terms of MeToo and TimesUp.
    We are going to shift the status quo, shift the way that women have been treated for so
    And I just hope that the shift always remembers women of color and poor women and disenfranchised
    women who maybe may not have the loudest microphone in front of them.
    And I hope that those of us who may not be that loud are still, like, thought of and
    remembered and passed the mic.
    My name is Elizabeth Acevedo, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on seeing you.
    HARI SREENIVASAN: You can find additional Brief But Spectacular episodes on our Web
    site, PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.
    And a news update before we go.
    There's word that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has written to President Trump.
    Details will be announced at the White House this evening.
    FOX News reports Kim sent the letter inviting the president to meet.
    ABC and CNN report a South Korean delegation hand-delivered the letter at the White House
    this evening.
    You can follow updates to the story on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.
    And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight.
    I'm Hari Sreenivasan.
    Join us online and again right here tomorrow evening.
    For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you.
    See you soon.
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