Thursday’s American Morning audience had a plethora of topics for comment. The Binghamton, AL, police chase divided viewers who felt the perpetrator created a volatile situation and got what he deserved. Conversely, police brutality was addressed as an issue, as well as the need for additional police training for such situations.
How do you feel about the sentencing of the police accused of brutality? Was justice served?
Rights of the boy with cancer were deliberated, as viewers weighed personal rights against child safety.
Is this a personal medical decision that should be decided by the boy and his family, or should the state intervene in order to protect the health of the child? What would you do?
A New York Times report published this week says markings on ammunition collected from killed Taliban insurgents suggest that it's coming from the Pentagon.
Gary Berntsen spent more than two decades in the CIA. He also led CIA forces in eastern Afghanistan after 9/11. He joined John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.
John Roberts: The New York Times suggested poor discipline and outright corruption among Afghan forces is responsible for some of the weapons getting into the hands of the Taliban. What are some of the other ways?
Gary Berntsen: Part of the problem is there has been a lot of container theft over the last year and a half. Containers moving from the Port of Karachi up into Afghanistan on trucks and to U.S. forces have been broken into, have been robbed completely. This is more of a problem than just the Taliban drinking “Red Bull” and listening to iPods. They're getting equipment out of these things. That's one.
Roberts: So the Pentagon sends these containers full of weapons to the Port of Karachi.
Berntsen: Not so much weapons all the time. It’s body armor sometimes. They try not to send weapons that way but sometimes ammunition gets put in these things. So they pick up some of that stuff there. The other issue too is… we’ve lost 1,000 Afghan police this year. Sometimes you’ll have entire governors compounds that are overrun. They'll lose 10, 15 guys. They’ll recover weapons and ammunition during those encounters as well. Sometimes there's theft or sales by Afghan security forces. About a year ago, the attempted assassination of Karzai, it was a senior Afghan official, a general that sold those weapons to the Taliban who tried to kill Karzai with them.
President Obama's plan to shut down the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba hit a major road block yesterday. The Senate voted 90-6 on a measure that would stop detainees from being transferred to the United States. It also voted Tuesday to withhold funds to close down the facility. Meanwhile, the president will lay out his plan to close Gitmo in a major national security speech today.
Majority Whip Senator Dick Durbin voted against blocking the funds. He spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.
John Roberts: You voted against blocking the funds although you do share some of the concerns of many of your colleagues. Why did you decide to vote against it and what do you think about those concerns? Are they valid?
Dick Durbin: There are two provisions. One of them blocked the funds and I could have voted for that because the president's plan has not been presented to us. There’s no need to appropriate the money at this point until we have his plan for the future of Guantanamo. The second provision, though, the one that troubled me, said we couldn't have any of these Guantanamo detainees brought to the United States to be held in a security facility. You can't try a person for a crime in the United States without holding them in a security facility. So, some of those who could be prosecuted – even successfully prosecuted – couldn't be prosecuted under the language of that amendment.
Roberts: So that puts you at odds with Senate Leader Harry Reid who said yesterday he didn't want the transfer of any detainees to the United States?
Durbin: We have a different point of view. I happen to believe if they're brought here to be put on trial, they obviously need to be held in a secure facility during the course of the trial and perhaps incarcerated afterwards. Presently today, we have 348 convicted terrorists in the prisons of the United States of America, and a large percentage of them are from overseas. They're being held safely and securely with no threat to the American people. I do believe we have to look at the bottom line here. The president is right in saying Guantanamo is more than a detention facility. It's become a symbol. And sadly, it’s become an organizing tool around the world for terrorism. The sooner that we bring Guantanamo to a close, the better.