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North Korea sets preconditions for talks. Results of Venezuela’s presidential election are disputed. And former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf flees after an order for his arrest.
- Nancy Youssef Middle East bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.
- Geoff Dyer foreign policy correspondent at Financial Times.
- Yochi Dreazen contributing editor for The Atlantic and writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Two suspects identified in Monday's Boston Marathon bombings have links to Chechnya. We'll be following developments as they occur throughout the morning. Former Pakistani President Musharraf is arrested in Islamabad. And divisions in Venezuela intensify after a disputed presidential election. Here in the studio for this week's roundup of international news, Yochi Dreazen of The Atlantic, Nancy Youssef of McClatchy Newspapers and Geoff Dyer of the Financial Times.
MS. DIANE REHMI look forward to hearing from you this morning. Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Send us an email to email@example.com, follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Well, welcome to all of you.
MR. GEOFF DYERThanks, Diane.
MS. NANCY YOUSSEFGood morning.
MR. YOCHI DREAZENGood morning.
REHMGood to see you all. Yochi Dreazen, we're going to continue to follow what's happening in Boston. We know that a 20-block area of Watertown has now been locked down, closed down. Police are closing in on it, but we don't know exactly why.
DREAZENRight. We don’t know if they've identified the house he's in. We don't know if they've identified the block he's in. We don’t know if he is wounded, which potentially is a useful piece of information, if they're trying to get him to turn himself in alive. We don't know if he's willing to die. We don't know how many bombs he has with him that are premade. We don't know if he had any plan to go to or if this was all improvised, as it seems to be.
DREAZENSo there's a real, real large list of unknowns and some of them are very important. And arguably the biggest two, does he have accomplices who may be trying to carry out other attacks in or around Boston? Is this purely a domestic case of someone who has lived here a long time, had been radicalized like Nidal Hasan in Fort Hood, in other similar attacks that were carried out by people who had lived here without much problem and then suddenly turned violent? Or is this linked to any one of the number of Islamist groups still fighting in Chechnya, in Azerbaijan, in Kyrgyzstan, throughout the Caucasus?
DREAZENAnd so you've got the unknowns on the ground in Boston and you've got these kind of big-picture, high-level unknowns.
YOUSSEFI agree. And I think the other thing to be careful, though, is because there are so many unknowns, trying to figure out how much we should be tying this to some international group. This could be kids that acted out on their own. I was struck, having just come from the Middle East, as I was watching the video they carried themselves as Americans, as Westerners. I didn't see kids who looked like they had recently immigrated. They seemed Americans. You see the friends that they've been interviewing on television. They seem to be affiliated with Americana. They seem to be very American kids.
YOUSSEFTheir father now has apparently made a plea that they come forward. So they seem to be very American. And so that's what has struck me at this point of the investigation.
REHMAnd we have the London Marathon that's going to take place Sunday. NPR's just reported there will be extra police on board.
DYERAbsolutely. I mean, the one thing that the Boston Marathon has shown is that this type of event, in some ways, it's the worst nightmare for the police. It's an event that's spread over across a huge city, huge crowds. There's going to be over half a million people that usually come out to watch the London Marathon. It's almost impossible to really police an event like this, to guarantee that there won't be any security threats. Having said that, I imagine that people in Britain have been very impressed by the kind of resilience that the people in Boston have shown this week. And I would have thought that they would want to show that they don't want to be deterred or intimidated by this kind of terrorist attack. And I expect the event to go ahead and be a big success.
DREAZENI mean, I agree completely about the impossibility of securing 26 miles of route. But, you know, we talk about resilience. We talk about the bravery of many of the first responders, the bravery of some people who were total strangers who applied tourniquets, tried to pull people away in the immediate aftermath, but I think there's a legitimate question about the current response of shutting down and evacuating a major American city in response to an attack, not minimizing the number of casualties, not minimizing the severity of it, but in the scheme of things compared to 9/11, this is not an attack on that scale. And you're evacuating an entire American city.
DREAZENSo if you're talking about a terror attack, which obviously a piece of it is to kill as many as you can, but obviously a piece of it is to disrupt a city, to terrorize them in a literal sense, they've succeeded. They've shut down and evacuated an American city. So if you're another group, another radicalized person living anywhere in the U.S. thinking what kind of attack should I do, this seems potentially very appealing because this wasn't the kind of attack that would cause necessarily the biggest number of casualties. I've run these kinds of races before. If you really want to kill a lot of people you bomb the starting line, when you've got thousands of people in what are called corrals.
DREAZENThere people are packed, literally, as close as we are in the studio, in this room you would have 50 or 100 people jammed shoulder-to-shoulder. So this was not the kind of attack that was going to kill the largest number of people, but this was the kind of attack that was going to get the attention and is now leading to the evacuation of a major city.
REHMAnd of course having just returned from the Middle East, you have seen a lot of these.
YOUSSEFYeah, and you know it's funny, I mean I was only gone for a year, but I live in Cairo where we see 50 people killed by the authorities at any given time and the reaction there is much less than it is here. And, you know, I started thinking, is it that we value our lives here more than they do in Egypt? Is there a sense of normal there that we're just not accustomed to? But, you know, I’m traveling with an Egyptian colleague of mine who's in Washington for the first time. And she's stunned at the response because we're around and living in a country that's persistently unstable, where people are being terrorized, they would argue, by their governments. And so for us to see this, it's a very different experience, the level of attention and security that's given to it.
YOUSSEFAnd that's not to say one is better or worse. It's not for me to make that judgment, but the difference in reaction for me is very startling, having just left Cairo a couple weeks ago.
REHMWhat about the attention paid to Margaret Thatcher's funeral?
DYERWell, that was obviously another event that--
DYER--you know, was a huge crowd, you know, potential vulnerability. But, again, as Yochi said, you have to keep on carrying on, living your life. You can't expect to reduce all security risks at these kinds of events. You have to carry on. You can't let these type of events just grind everything to a halt.
REHMBut surely, Geoff, there were huge numbers of authorities in presence during that parade, if you will.
DYERAbsolutely, there were. But then if you talk to counterterrorism officials, they will always say that the best chance you have to catch anyone who is going to do something at these events is not by having policemen on the spot watching for suspicious bags or suspicious individuals, it's about the pre-intelligence and keeping an eye suspicious groups and monitoring their activities and, you know, who they're talking to. And it's all the counterintelligence activities that take place before an event that give you the best chance of catching someone.
REHMAnd extraordinarily after the event, with this camera in Lord and Taylor.
DREAZENI mean, I find this just almost mind blowing. You know, the last time I think we've seen any kind of indication of how advanced countries have become in facial recognition was after an Israeli team assassinated Hezbollah leader in Dubai. And within a day, a day and a half, they had photos of everyone involved in it. They had the faces identified. The identities attached. It was easy to forget because we're sitting here in the U.S., but now you're seeing that here.
DREAZENI mean, think about not only the number of pictures, but the same person being photographed from 20, 50 different angles. And to identify these guys, to watch them walking in, it's incredible to me.
YOUSSEFWell, I think what was shocking is that knowing the kind of technology that's out there, even if they didn't know the precise detail of it, that they would walk around so openly, so brazenly. I mean in the Middle East we're used to it, in the sense that everybody's carrying cell phone cameras, but so there is an awareness around the world that you're being photographed at any time. And the idea that someone, as they're alleged, have done, would put down a backpack with an explosive in it and not in any way try to conceal who he is or who he's affiliated with in this attack I think has been just as shocking as the detail of the photos themselves.
DYERIt is. It's a different era for policing now. I mean before if you had been the witness to an event like this the police would ask you to write down a statement. Now they want to see your iPhone. The police in Massachusetts were stopping people at Logan Airport the last few days and asking to look through their telephones to see if they had any images from the scene. And so really it's a very different era of how you investigate crimes in the era of the iPhone.
REHMAnd that is the voice of Geoff Dyer. He's foreign policy correspondent with the Financial Times. Nancy Youssef, she's Middle East bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers. Yochi Dreazen is now contributing editor for The Atlantic and writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security. Do join us, 800-433-8850. Yochi, there is other news out there. Let's talk about North Korea and what North Korea is demanding before restarting talks with the U.S. and South Korea.
DREAZENAnd frankly, what they're demanding is almost as bizarre and unreasonable as flying Dennis Rodman in to watch a staged basketball game. I mean they're demanding an end to all U.S./South Korean military cooperation, military training. They're demanding the withdrawal of many, if not all, of the U.S. military assets from South Korea. They're demanding an immediate end and lifting of all U.S. and U.N. sanctions. So they're basically asking that the U.S. withdraw completely in substance, if not totally technically from South Korea, which is never going to happen.
DREAZENAnd they're demanding that as a precondition. The part of it that anybody is trying to find even the slightest glimmer of hope, amidst all the bluster, this talk about, you know, sledge hammer that's going to destroy South Korea, the typical kind of North Korean bravado, is that there's a willingness to talk. So the people who are trying to look and see anything in this that has some light, that's what they point to.
YOUSSEFThat's right. I mean, after weeks of bombastic rhetoric from Pyongyang, at least there's some discussion of talk, which I think in light of how quickly this had escalated and how much instability and anxiousness it had created on the Korean peninsula, I think for many people this is a sign of hope. And hopefully, a way for the North Korean leader to somehow walk about of this situation, get himself -- perhaps he could come out and say, look at the Americans. They're begging for me to back down, in light of the fact that Kerry proposed his own conditions for talks, that he back down.
YOUSSEFSo perhaps this is laying the groundwork for Kim Jong Un to walk out of the situation.
REHMNancy Youssef, Middle East bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers. Short break here. When we come back we'll give you an update on what's happening in Boston and if there is special breaking news we'll go to that, as well.
REHMAnd welcome back to the International Hour of our Friday News Roundup. But of course we are following developments in Boston where a million people, it is said, are locked down. Boston itself is deserted. It looks like a ghost town because there is active police activity in Watertown where a 20-block area has been cordoned off.
REHMHere in the studio, Nancy Youssef of McClatchy Newspapers, Geoff Dyer a foreign policy correspondent with the Financial Times and Yochi Dreazen. He's contributing editor for the Atlantic and writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security. Geoff Dyer, I didn't give you a chance to talk about North Korea. Is Pyongyang still positioning for a missile test firing?
DYERIt is possible that they will conduct this missile test in the next few days. It is also possible, as Nancy was saying, that Kim Jung-un has found a way to sort of back down from this current crisis, that he will declare -- when the U.S./South Korean military exercise is over he will declare that North Korea has triumphed again, that he's resisted, you know, aggressive intentions of the imperialist Americans. And once again he's stood up for pride in North Korea. And that will give him a way of backing down from this current crisis.
DYERBut beyond that it's very hard to see a way forward because, as Yochi was saying, North Korea's demands are completely unacceptable. But from the North Korean point of view, what America wants is completely unacceptable. So America wants North Korea to accept the negotiations about giving up its nuclear weapons.
DYERAnd everything they've said is that they're going to go on, you know, persistent -- keep on going on with their nuclear weapon development program.
REHMAnd how active is china likely to be?
DYERWell, that's the big question. I mean, there are two things about China's attitude towards North Korea. The first of that, it's -- the policy toward North Korea is the single most controversial foreign policy within the country. There are very senior people within the country who think it's a disastrous strategy to be so close to North Korea who would love to change the policy, who find it almost humiliating that China's backing this disgraceful dictatorship.
DYEROn the other hand, the second thing we know is the policy's not going to change in any substantial way. The Chinese leadership looks at North Korea and thinks it's -- if anything really changes there it'd be the huge amount of instability, huge amounts of risks which is precisely the things they don't want to see.
DYERHowever, at the margins it is possible that China would apply some pressure against North Korea, maybe cut out some of their supplies. And maybe that's what's been happening this week. Maybe one of the reasons why we haven't seen this missile test is that China has been subtly squeezing them. We don't know. But don't expect anything dramatic from the Chinese.
YOUSSEFThat's a great point, and we were expecting a test this week for the anniversary of the founder's birthday and that didn't happen. It's also worth nothing that the U.S. exercise ends at the end of the month, and so that might be a point where we'll sort of see a speech from Kim Jung-un. One of the things to remember, I think, which is hard for us in the United States to be aware of is North Koreans are really cut off from the kind of information that we have.
YOUSSEFAnd so he can really control the narrative and let in as much as he wants about what the U.S. is saying or what the U.S. is offering. And sort of limit their understanding and can really control this message of saying, the Americans came begging to me and I turned them down and I've solved this crisis. And so I think a lot of people will be watching for the end of the month when the U.S. exercises are scheduled to end and the potential that he'll come out and say, look at the Americans. They've left. They've stopped their exercises. Because there's no way that average North Koreans would know that those exercises were scheduled to end. And so there's an opportunity for him to talk his way, if you will, out of this.
REHMYochi, let's talk about Pakistan and Musharraf Pervez (sic) . Musharraf fled an Islamabad courtroom on Thursday when a judge revoked his bail. What's this all about?
DREAZENIt's interesting. Yesterday trending on Twitter about this particular thing was that this was Pakistan's O. J. Simpson moment. Because there are these crazy still photos and videos of Musharraf after having been basically told by this judge that he'd committed treason. He would be charged under the treason laws, getting back into an armored SUV. His security guy's kind of -- one of them is perched on the SUV and then sort of roaring off into the distance. There are cameras following him.
DREAZENI mean, the basic question here, and it's an interesting one, dates back to a fight between him and the judges who now want to put him on trial. He disbanded the Supreme Court. He tried to put the judiciary totally under his own control. This was near the end of his time in power and now the judges are having their revenge. The legal system of Pakistan is trying to say to him, no you can't do this to us. We are a valid institution. We're an institution that has legitimacy and we're going to hold you accountable for what you tried to do to us.
DREAZENI'm not trying to suggest this was just a personal, you knows, beef between a judge and a former dictator but it's an interesting power struggle between one who tried to put the other under his heel. And now the other pushing back and saying, we're not going to let you do that.
YOUSSEFWhat's extraordinary is that he came back to Pakistan. I mean, he was living in exile in Dubai and London for five years from the time that he was pushed out of office, in part because of this controversy in which he forced the judges to live under house arrest, which led to protests and eventually his fall. He seemed to have this idea that he could run in elections next month and then he was disqualified from that. There seem to be warnings that he wasn't as popular as he seemed to think he was.
YOUSSEFAnd up until the judges spoke, he seemed to think that his bail would not be revoked and, as Yochi said, that he was literally fleeing on live television. And I think that's the most extraordinary thing. So it's puzzling that he even returned back and thought that he could avoid all this. The other interesting thing is what the role of the army will be because during -- he's a former four-star general and he had a very close relationship with the army. And the question will be whether the army will intervene on behalf of their sort of former ally or whether they'll let the sort of legal system play out.
YOUSSEFAnd so all of this suggests that his actions are really disrupting an already fragile country on the brink of elections next month.
DYERIt is, as said, an extraordinary event to see someone in a courthouse being put under arrest and to just walk out of that courthouse in front of all sorts of police. But as Nancy was saying, it's also extraordinary in the context of Pakistan that the former head of the army, former president would be facing this type of legal challenge as well. So it's a potentially hugely destabilizing moment in the country.
REHMAll right. I'd like to hear about Venezuela's election because there is a good bit of controversy, dispute over the voting. Maduro apparently won. He was Chavez' handpicked successor but, in fact, it was a close election, Nancy.
YOUSSEF1.8 percentage points. 260,000 votes separated him and his opponent in a country of 26 million. And it's extraordinary for a number of reasons. This was -- as you mentioned, Hugo Chavez's selected heir apparent. And what was really at stake is not only Venezuela -- the presidency but really the direction of Venezuela itself. Because under Hugo Chavez there was a close alliance with China and Russia and Iran. And his opponent was really proposing a more American sort of alliance.
YOUSSEFAnd so the fact that he won narrowly speaks to how polarized Venezuela is. He is supposed to be inaugurated today. There are talks of an audit that will happen of the election results. But the week has led to eight killed because of disputes over this election.
REHMAll right. And here's an update from NBC that the Uncle of the two brothers suspected in the bombing at the Boston Marathon is telling NBC, we are Muslims. We're ethnic -- say it for me...
REHM...Chechens. Somebody radicalized them. It's an interesting statement from the uncle. All right. Carry on with Venezuela.
DREAZENJust in the last half day you had Maduro being inaugurated. He's now the president elect of -- and arguably the president of Venezuela. You just had, in the last several hours, an announcement they're going to audit every vote. And the reason this matters is they previously audited about 54 percent. His challenger had said that he would overcome that margin if they audited the last 46 percent. So you get down to this number game, it's like when we've got Carl Rove with his whiteboard on election here.
DREAZENBut they're arguing that with a margin that slim, if you go back through this other basically half of the votes, he's arguing he'll overcome the margin. Who know, but it is interesting.
REHMAll right. I'm going to take a caller right now who'd like to ask about Venezuela. Phil in Baltimore, Md., you're on the air.
PHILI was just calling because my girlfriend is actually from Venezuela. She immigrated with her family to the U.S. after the 2002 coup. And she was showing me on Facebook pictures from her friends and family down there of what looked like police officers or military people with stacks of white -- like, tons of white paper with AMC on the side, which is the National electoral council. And they were, it looked, like, disposing of them or whatnot. And her friends and family were saying that they were, you know, people getting rid of it making it impossible to hand recount of any kind, that that was not possible.
PHILAnd I was wondering if your panelists had heard anything about it, and if maybe this relates to why Secretary Cary said that the State Department was not ready to recognize the election yet as with...
REHMAll right, Yochi.
DREAZENI think that's exactly right. And those photos are circulating. There are similar videos. They're videos of police and army guys sort of leading people in to vote more than once. As someone from Chicago, it reminds me of the old joke about Chicago that you just keep voting until they tell you to stop. But that is why the U.S. is one of the few countries that has not recognized this victory. They have not said he is the president. They have not said this election is over. So I think the caller -- I think Phil is exactly right in terms of the reason for it and what's happening on the ground
YOUSSEFI agree. I just would add though the other thing that's at stake for the United States is really a future of Venezuela, both economically and politically because his opponent is someone who's much more pro American, much more likely to work with the United States than the heir apparent to Hugo Chavez. And I think that's at stake as well. And so I think that's a contributing factor in terms of why the United States hasn't recognized the president.
YOUSSEFAnd there are reports of Ahmadinejad, for example, flying to the inauguration. And I think that's worth pointing out.
DYERAssuming that Madura is confirmed as the president, he's still going to face an incredibly difficult situation. The economy's in a really tough bind. Inflation's at 30 percent, the budget deficit's around 15 percent of GDP. The crime rate is incredibly high. Violent crime's incredibly high in Venezuela. There are shortages of basic goods. So he faces a whole lot of economic challenges he needs to resolve.
DYERFrom the political front because he has such a weak mandate he's also in a very weak position. He's going to face a lot of opposition, not just from Capriles in the formal position, but from within Chavismo as well. So number two with any Chavismo moment is the president of the national assembly came out and gave a statement saying that this is a profound self criticism. So he's going to face a lot of opposition from within his own political movement too.
DYERSo the economics are going to push him to be much more pragmatic to try and solve some of these problems. But the politics might push him to radicalize to try and show the broader Chavismo movement that he is a legitimate heir to Hugo Chavez.
REHMSo what do you mean by radicalize?
DYERRadicalize could mean more nationalizations, it could mean more economic measures, it could mean more rhetoric about the west and about the U.S. And it could also mean a very aggressive stance against the opposition, particularly if Capriles starts to launch demonstrations in the streets against the election result.
REHMGeoff Dyer. He's foreign policy correspondent with the Financial Times. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." The uncle of the suspects has asked that his nephew turn himself in and ask for forgiveness. His name is Ruslan Tsarni. And let's go now to Grand Rapids, Mich. Michelle, you're on the air.
MICHELLEGood morning, Diane. Thanks for taking my call.
MICHELLEI just had a minor correction of something I think Yochi Dreazen said earlier in the show, which was that the search for the bomber that's currently underway in Boston has caused the evacuation of a major American city. I think in fact it's a shelter in place situation, which is the opposite of an evacuation.
DREAZENI think that's a fair point in what -- especially in parts like Watertown where there is the search. But the footage today from downtown Boston, they've shut down every major rail -- the Boston T has been shut down. There are no buses into downtown Boston.
REHMNo over flights.
DREAZENThere's no flights. I mean, so I would stand by what I said. If you look at the footage from downtown Boston, it's a ghost town. As you said before, it's empty. There is shelter in place in other areas of the city where they think this guy may be held up. The police said, stay away from your windows, lock your doors. Downtown Boston is largely emptied out because you simply -- you can't get into it even if you wanted to.
REHMAll right. To Chevy Chase, Md. Good morning, Ernest.
ERNESTGood morning. I just wanted to add to the discussion that although this computer technology of facial recognition and so forth is absolutely fantastic in crime solving, that old fashion sleuthing really might have broken this case. Today's Washington Post had a short article on page eight and the British Press had longer articles all over the place that bombing victim Jeff Bauman, the guy from New Hampshire who lost both legs, after he came out of surgery in the hospital he asked for pen and paper and wrote the words, bag, I saw the guy right in the eyes.
ERNESTAnd he provided the FBI a full description of what he saw, so they knew ahead of time exactly what to look for when they sorted through the, you know, hundreds and thousands of hours of video tapes. So I think although the technology is great, we can't make -- we can't pretend that that's a magic bullet. The whole thing sped up like it did because of excellent sleuthing and the fortunate event that Jeff Bauman survived the blast and was able to provide a description.
REHMErnest, I think that's such a valuable, important point to make. Someone did make that point in the first hour, the Domestic Hour of the News Roundup saying that this young man really wanted a pencil and paper, even though he had lost both his legs below the knee. Nancy.
YOUSSEFI'd just like to comment about what the uncle said that we are Muslims and that he was radicalized in some way. And perhaps because I live in the Muslim world, you know, at a time like this I think it's particularly important to know that there's a difference between being a Muslim and being an Islamist. And that what I think he's trying to say is that all -- please don't associate that being Muslim that somehow that means being extremist.
YOUSSEFAnd I think for the Muslim community, both here and abroad, that's become a very important thing. Because I think for most Muslims, when things like this are done in the name of their faith, that Muslims feel that their faith is in fact being hijacked. And the other interesting thing that I thought he said is the fact that he could be radicalized in the United States is a disturbing trend. Because up until this point I think there was an assumption that the radicalization of Muslims happened abroad or through foreign organizations. And that he's suggesting that that potentially happened here within our borders by someone who was raised primarily in the United States is a troubling development.
REHMAnd one Tweet from Andrea Mitchell, "Secretary of State Kerry says it's inappropriate to comment about Chechnya or other hypotheticals, but terror is terror and underscores the important to be vigilant." Short break here and we will be right back.
REHMAnd welcome back to the international hour of our Friday News Roundup, but of course we have also been following all the events in Boston and areas around Boston. Watertown is one of the areas where police have focused in on a 20-block area and was absolutely shut down very, very tightly.
REHMBut now, Yochi, the uncle of these two young men has been speaking to the press.
DREAZENIt's interesting because he appears to be speaking right outside of his house and it's a reminder to a point that Nancy made. This is a very Americanized family. I mean, this is a man standing outside in a Polo shirt. He's in what appears to be a fairly modest house, standing next to a minivan.
REHMBut he doesn't seem to have very nice things to say about his nephews. Nancy.
YOUSSEFThe one quote I caught, they asked him what he thought led to this and he seemed to suggest -- I think he said, being losers as one of the reasons that contributed to this. I think there's a real anger from him that his family has been associated with this. And I think he's trying to distance himself from the actions of these two or the alleged actions of these two and make a distinction between what they've done and what his sort of American experience is and versus what theirs is.
DREAZENI mean, he's also talking about this as an atrocity. He condemns it as fully as he could, but then he kept saying that he knew these boys since they were kids. I mean, he said that more than once. And it gets back to a point that Nancy said before the break about radicalization.
DREAZENI mean, it is worth remembering that Nidal Malik Hasan was someone who had been moderate in every part of his belief and every part of his Muslim practice. He was radicalized over the internet by Anwar al-Awlaki. The Obama administration used a drone in Yemen to kill him. He was a propagandist for al-Qaida.
DREAZENThe hope was it might prevent others in the U.S. from being radicalized over the internet, from downloading audio tapes. If they were, in fact, radicalized over the internet, it suggests that that didn't work, that there are other people capable of radicalizing people here, which is very scary.
REHMAll right, let's take a call here in Washington, D.C. Hello, Melanie.
MELANIEHello, thank you for taking my call.
MELANIEIn support of what the gentleman has just said, within the last hour and a half, I have been tuned in to an NPR interview of a young intern at the Boston Globe who had been friends with the younger suspect for about four or five years, very close friends.
MELANIEHe had glowing things to say about this young man.
REHMYes, I heard the same interview, Melanie.
MELANIEYes, and also there was an interview of one of this young man's teachers from high school. I think he was a coach of his as well. He called him an absolute sweetheart. So my question or comment is related to what psychologists and law enforcement agents might do with this information, with what seems to be certainly a phenomena in our society where something like this, a change of mind, could happen so quickly.
MELANIEAnd perhaps special consideration of this phenomenon might lead to greater concern.
REHMBut, you know, what you're suggesting, Melanie, is that we have to get inside the young man's head. We have to consolidate the image of a teacher or a friend talking about this young man from their perspective and then the actions that may be being generated from within. We have no way of knowing what goes on.
DREAZENI think what they're going to try. I completely agree. I think what they're going to try to get into now after trying to get into his head is his computer. I mean, they're going to try to find out, who has he been talking to? What has he been saying? What language was it? Can they figure out where the person who he was talking to was based?
DREAZENIt is worth remembering also that building IEDs, unfortunately -- I mean, Nancy and I both lived overseas. We've seen the impact of them. They're very easy to build. They're very cheap. You can download on YouTube hundreds upon hundreds of videos on how to build them. So once they figure out who he spoke to, who may have radicalized him, then they'll try to figure out how did he learn how to build the bomb.
DREAZENBut it's easily available. So I think to your point about getting into his head, it's difficult. Getting into his computer will be the focus because that's the key question now.
REHMIf they can find that computer. Nancy?
YOUSSEFI think that's a great point. I would just add what I'm personally curious about is how quickly he became radicalized. How is it that they're describing him as someone who's an all-American guy, who was very friendly and then becomes radicalized? When did the language start to change? And who changed it? And what provoked that change?
YOUSSEFI'm really curious. How did that happen? How quickly did it happen? And did it come from a domestic source or from an international source? Was it provoked by international events that the U.S. is doing or was it provoked by things happening domestically or internally in his own life?
DYERI think we also need to be aware that this has been a very bad week for news organizations and people, in general, from getting out ahead of events too quickly and listeners should be aware that these are just very much fragments of information that are just being made available as we're speaking.
DYERIt's going to take a long time for the full picture to become available and at the moment, we really only have questions. I mean, one to ask, rather than any real insider information is to ask what motivated these two young men.
REHMAll right, and from National Harbor, Md., good morning Sam.
SAMHi Diane, good morning, I love your show. You are a national treasure.
SAMI'm going to a bit extreme. I just want to say I think the U.S. needs to stop immigration from Muslim countries. I am from Muslim country, (unintelligible) but I believe there's so much (word?) and this will never stop.
REHMNow with immigration, exactly on the horizon these kinds of questions are going to come up.
DYERThey're going to come up and this is precisely the reason why we do need to take a very deep breath at the moment and find out more information about this case and not jump to too many conclusions. These are, what it seems to be, two young men who have been in this country for more than a decade, have been to American high schools, American colleges.
DYERScholarships, had friends in the community so I think for all sorts of reasons I don’t agree with the caller but I think it's also, you know, very important to point out that this is not just a case of someone who has just moved here from a Muslim country.
REHMAlright, to Chapel Hill, N.C., hi, Rob?
ROBHi, how are you?
ROBGood, I wanted to refer back to one of the comments that your guests made a little bit ago about the opinion, the reaction in Boston may be a little bit disproportionate to the event in terms of evacuating the city. Specifically he made, he made a comparison to the events of 9/11 and I think that you've got to look at the situation on the ground and take the actions appropriate to the situation at hand.
ROBAnd I think that certainly when you look at post 9/11 and the days afterward shutting down all the U.S. (word?) afterwards was certainly the appropriate action to take and appropriate for the types of events we were dealing with. Likewise when you're dealing with a person at large who is committing terror on the ground, evacuating a city and shutting it down, I think, is a very appropriate action.
DREAZENI think it's a valid point. I think it will be debated in the weeks and months ahead. I mean, the counter-argument, I think, is worth strongly considering is what is the motivation, fundamentally, of these kinds of attacks? It's to try to get as much attention as you can. It's to try to publicize whatever cause you believe you're fighting for.
DREAZENSo we can debate. We will debate did this dragnet work? Was it the right approach? But we also need to debate, if you give them in some ways what it is they're trying to get, do you give up? I mean are you in some way helping them achieve what they want to achieve by devoting this much attention, this many resources?
REHMAll right, to Merrillville, W.Va. Nicola, you're on the air.
NICOLAYes, I love your program.
NICOLAThank you for staying strong in your struggle. And I have been very concerned that I haven't heard a little bit more soul searching in that whole regard of Boston. And I've been trying to imagine what it would be like to live in a country where this type of effect is actually achieved with a drone, where something that comes out of the sky has no rhyme or reason for the civilians that live there and so you can't even go on a search for the perpetrator.
NICOLAAnd I'm wondering whether we shouldn't look at ourselves and say, you know, what we do to others, may be done on to us.
DYERWell, I think while the caller is absolutely right to say there should be much more reflection, discussion about the U.S. drone program and the kind of impact it is having in the countries where it is taking place and the potential for blowback to the U.S. However, again, I think we should say, at the moment, there's absolutely no indication whatsoever that there's any connection between that and this particular incident.
DYERAnd until we have more information about what motivated these two young men, why they did it? Who they had been meeting with? Who radicalized them? Where they've been in the last few years? I think we need to be very careful about opening up that kind of discussion.
REHMAll right to Pete in Miami, Fla. Good morning, you're on the air.
PETEYes, good morning, Diane. I would like to make a comment about the Venezuelan situation. I am from Venezuela originally and I have relatives that worked with the Chavez government, the first five years. But in regard to the election, I think for Venezuela to finally be able to turn a corner, it is going to have to reach rock bottom and the only way of doing that is for Maduro to stay in power.
PETEAnd then the Venezuelans will learn where they made their mistakes because there's no way -- this is a de facto dictatorship and it has been since, for at least I would say 2004, well, actually probably sooner than that.
REHMAll right, Geoff Dyer, do you want to comment?
DYERWell, I think that ,as the caller points out, I mean, however this does play out in the next few days in terms of whether Maduro is really confirmed as president, it's going to be a very, very rough period for Venezuela. There's huge economic problems developing, big political tensions. This is a country that's now divided 50/50 between two different political groupings that seem to detest each other.
DYERIt's very hard to see a sort of smooth scenario coming out of this, how things are not going to get much worse quite quickly for Venezuela.
YOUSSEFI would only add, I think what Pete is also raising, is where -- if what Pete is saying is sort of the majority view is there an argument to be made that the elections were held too soon after Hugo Chavez' death and that there wasn't really an opportunity for those who shared the vision, as Pete describes it, to organize and mobilize themselves such that there could be a clear outcome one way or the other.
YOUSSEFThat the result of having elections so soon was to essentially leave the country polarized exactly where it's been.
REHMTo Muhammad in Brandon, Fla. Good morning, you're on the air.
MUHAMMADAh, good morning, Diane Rehm. My name is Muhammad. I am a Muslim and I am kind of disturbed with what is going on, but I do want to touch base upon a comment that was added a few minutes ago about the immigration of Muslims into the country and what have you.
MUHAMMADHaving a Muslim, being a Muslim and living in the United States for about ten years, I can say that in the last ten years, I have not heard of a constructive dialogue with the Muslim community. The community has always been targeted for radicals by picking up kids from mosques and putting in FBI informants in mosques which has never translated into confidence of Muslim community in the law enforcement and having a peaceful resolution of what has transpired.
MUHAMMADYes, there has been a lot of things that have been going on which were not right and nobody accepts that. Yet there is not confidence in the law enforcement that builds over time, such that a Muslim community can feel at home in...
REHMMuhammad, thank you for your call and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Does Muhammad have a valid point, Yochi?
DREAZENTo a degree, I mean, I would take issue with many parts of his comments. To say one thing that I think in retrospect was an act of bravery and courage on the part of George W. Bush after 9/11 was to stress again and again and again that Muslim neighbors living in this country overwhelmingly are peaceful, that there should not be reprisals, that their religion shouldn't be tarred.
DREAZENI think there's actually in some ways been -- it's been a sign of strength of this country as a whole that the number of hate attacks, the number of bigoted attacks even though each one individually may be horrific has been very limited and that's despite fear, that's despite attacks being carried out in the name of Islam so I would take issue with what he said.
YOUSSEFYou know, having grown up in a Muslim household and been exposed to this my entire life I have to say, I'm in my 30s and when I was growing up, even though there was discrimination, there was such gratitude for the opportunities that the United States offered that there was never any expectation of reaching out or anything and that's just the generation that I grew up under.
YOUSSEFSo it's interesting to hear that kind of expectation because I've never grown up around that. And I would also say that the Muslim/American experience, I think, is much better having traveled all over the world than it is in Europe and France and in England and I think that really speaks to how welcoming the United States is relative to other countries in the world.
YOUSSEFSo my own experience and my family's own experience has not been one of sort of an expectation of dialogue, but immense gratitude for the opportunities that the country provided that we would have never had in my native country of Egypt.
REHMOne last caller, Kevin in Grand Rapids, Mich., you're on the air.
KEVINHey, thanks for taking my call.
KEVINI just wanted to ask some of the experts on your panel what their experiences were in the Middle East when, you know, IED explosions or other types of bombing and terrorist events would take place, you know, on a weekly basis or even more than one a week and juxtapose the response from the law enforcement in the Boston area with what you might see in the Middle East.
YOUSSEFWell, I live in the Middle East right now and the level of violence there is obviously much higher than it is here.
YOUSSEFAnd I think the biggest difference is the expectation that we, as Americans, have of our law enforcement responding. In Egypt, there are protests almost on a weekly basis and, in fact, there, people are attacked by the police. They're tear-gassed, they're shot at, there are snipers pointing at them and so the luxury that this country has is that you can depend on your law enforcement and see them as an ally.
YOUSSEFFor the last year, I've lived in a country where that's never been the expectation and so it's a completely different experience because the perpetrators of the attack is different and who you can turn to as a resource is completely different. In Egypt, it's seen as every man on his own, particularly in the post-revolutionary period where government institutions have started to collapse in the absence of a stable state.
DREAZENI mean, it's also worth comparing it to Israel, which has been -- I've lived there for several years. There was a stretch where it was hit by attacks almost every day. It's a different culture. There they pride themselves on cleaning up the horrific aftermath of the bombing and going right back to work.
DREAZENSo when you've had -- there's a bus line in Jerusalem, the same bus was hit twice. They would put another bus into service the next day. I was in very close to a pizza restaurant, Sbarro, that was bombed. It was cleaned up and reopened within a week. It's a different culture, but that's how they react there.
REHMAnd let's hope that this country does not find itself in that situation. Yochi Dreazen, Nancy Youssef, Geoff Dyer, thank you all so much. Have a peaceful weekend.
REHMAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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