— -- Below is the rush transcript of "This Week" on July 27th, 2014. It may contain errors.
ANNOUNCER: On ABC's This Week. Breaking news, the U.S. embassy in Libya evacuated, fighter jets escorting American convoys, including the ambassador, to safety. A last ditch effort to avoid another Benghazi? Brand new details this morning on the daring rescue operation.
Threat in the sky: three passenger planes go down in a week. And now new calls for U.S. airlines to add missile defenses. Why don't we have them already?
And, Mideast crisis: with Gaza on edge. Martha Raddatz with those caught on both sides then and now.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you think you'll see peace in your lifetime?
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News This Week with George Stephanopoulos begins now.
JONATHAN KARL, HOST: Good morning, I'm Jonathan Karl. George is off and Martha will be along in a bit.
It's an extraordinary move the president rarely makes completely shutting down a U.S. embassy and rushing the Americans inside to safety. That call was made in South Vietnam at the end of the war, in Somalia nearly two years before Blackhawk Down and just hours ago President Obama did it again ordering the evacuation of our embassy in Libya with a daring and dangerous military operation to evacuate the Americans there on the ground.
ABC's chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran is tracking all the breaking details. Good morning, Terry.
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Jon.
What an extraordinary episode this was. And it's another sign of the turmoil that right now is raging out of control right across the Middle East. Libya is now a nation riven by rival gangs. And the fighting becoming so fierce in recent days and weeks that the decision was made to evacuate the embassy.
MORAN: As fighting increased in Tripoli, Ambassador Deborah Jones and her staffers were spirited out of the heavily fortified compound about 150 people, nearly half of them marines.
A convoy of armored SUVs, a surveillance drone flying above, two F-16 fighter jets patrolling nearby and at sea a destroyer ready to react.
Photos released by the Pentagon show U.S. marines on board Osprey aircraft ready to land if the convoy came under attack.
Months ago, it was a different journey. You could have mistaken Ambassador Jones for a tourist walking around the streets of Libya looking at the sights and talking to the citizens. But the violence in Tripoli has escalated in the last two weeks, the deadliest since strongman Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown in 2011.
A few days ago, Ambassador Jones tweeted our neighborhood a bit too close to the action, adding diplomatic missions to be avoided please.
In May, the ambassador spoke of the tenuous situation.
DEBORAH JONES, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO LIBYA: You know, we're somewhat similar to a Medieval fortress in some ways. We're well protected. Benghazi will not happen again, I can assure you of that. But something else will, because it always does.
MORAN: The shadow of Benghazi looms large over U.S. operations in this country. Less than two years ago, Islamic militants overran the compound there, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others, unleashing a firestorm of criticism that not enough was done to protect the staff.
But yesterday, the convoy sped through high-risk streets filled with insurgents on a 250-mile race to safety in neighboring Tunisia.
The State Department issued an advisory warning Americans to leave Libya. But Secretary Kerry hopes this is just a temporary situation.
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We will return the moment the security situation permits us to do so, but given the situation, as with Turkey, I think they moved some 700 people or so out, we want to take every precaution to protect our folks.
MORAN: Security, the crucial issue in Libya right now. Secretary Kerry saying that American diplomacy will continue in that war torn nation, but right now there is no sign that the fighting among those rival gangs will abate any time soon and so the U.S. embassy in Tripoli stands empty and unguarded -- Jon.
KARL: Thanks, Terry.
More on this now from General James Cartwright, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the NATO airstrikes that helped oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and Frederic Wehrey who not long ago served as the U.S. military attache at that embassy in Tripoli and he has been back five times to their since the revolution.
General Cartwright, this is an extraordinary measure as we heard. How bad does the security situation have to be to get that order to shut the embassy down?
GEN. JAMES CARTWRIGHT, FRM. JOINT CHIEFS VICE CHAIRMAN: Generally, there are two criteria here -- it is a direct threat to the embassy, which there may be but we haven't heard that side of the equation, or the embassy is located in an area where the threat has gotten too great and collateral damage, which would happen here -- a shell going over, a mortar, ends up in the embassy compound and potentially kill someone.
And so clearly this has been a measured approach. We've drawn down the embassy over the past few months down to a level where now it's I think 80 marines and about 60 or 70 civilians. And clearly the embassy has done the right thing, the State Department. They've gone out, they put a travel alert out so no more people are coming into the country.
KARL: They say get out Libya basically...
CARTWRIGHT: And if you're there, leave.
KARL: And I should point out, you were the vice chairman not the chairman, I promoted you there at the end.
But this -- to do this, to move that out, and as you heard kind of hauntingly from Terry at the end, our embassy is now not only empty, but unguarded.
CARTWRIGHT: Right. The job of the marines that were there and the staff is to take out any sensitive material or equipment, which they did, and leave, and that's where the term shuttering comes from -- shutter the embassy with the intent to return. But it is unguarded.
KARL: But you don't know who is going to go in there. And we saw the -- that memorable scene in the movie Argo, you know, as they were preparing in Tehran burning all the classified documents, trying to get everything that could be taken that would be sensitive and destroy it. Is that what was going on in the final hours before this evacuation?
FREDERIC WEHREY, FRM. U.S. MILITARY ATTACHE TO LIBYAN EMBASSY: Presumably. I mean, that's the standard procedure for doing these things.
But again, I think they had some warning, so perhaps they transferred that material with them. You know, every embassy has an evacuation plan. They've shut the embassy down there in Tripoli two times before.
KARL: So walk us through what happens, because you were there right before it was shut down the last time. So what happens? How do you prepare for this, for getting out and not knowing when you're going to return?
WEHREY: Well, again, these embassies have plans, they have evacuation routes, they can do it on the turn of a dime. They're going to destroy that material.
In the case of the embassy in Tripoli, it was already drawn down. I mean staff had been evacuated in previous weeks, so it was really a skeleton crew. So there weren't that many people to evacuate in the first place.
KARL: And the extraordinary thing about this is you were evacuating your ambassador and the others who remain, but because there's so much fighting at the airport you can't fly them out. There's none of that that we did in Vietnam flying them out from the embassy, they had to go out on a convoy through this area that has seen all this militia fighting. How dangerous was that operation?
CARTWRIGHT: Well, remember the conflict here, the rebels are coming from the east side of Tripoli, about 200 miles away is where they're based. The airport is well to the south. And the evacuation route was to the northwest. And so it was thought out.
I mean there are other venues they could have used. They could have tried to extract them with helicopters, et cetera. But this looked like the safest route to go. And they were moving away from the threat.
KARL: And they got them out.
I want to ask you about the larger threat, we heard some extraordinary words last night from the top intelligence official at the Pentagon, General Flynn, about the broader threat from al Qaeda and what the administration likes to call core al Qaeda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, U.S. ARMY: The core is the core belief that these individuals...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's not on the run.
FLYNN: It's not on the run. And that ideology is sadly it feels like it's exponentially growing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: That is quite a different message. The White House still continues to say core al Qaeda is on the run. General Flynn also said that we are less safe now than we were two or five years ago. Do you agree with him?
CARTWRIGHT: I would tend to agree with him. The national intelligence council in its unclassified predictions indicated that this type of what he's referring to, terrorism, is on the growth. It's in the phase of which we would call franchising, moving out across the globe. And because it is so diffused, it is far more dangerous than it's been in the past.
KARL: All right, General Cartwright, Mr. Wehrey, thank you very much for joining us.
This new scare in Libya is putting a focus back on diplomatic security. How does the U.S. prepare to keep our personnel safe on the ground despite all the threats that they face?
Earlier this year, my colleague, Martha Raddatz, got a rare inside look at the intense training.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, we've got a hallway down here.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In the fictional country of Erehwon (ph), that's nowhere spelled backwards.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All vehicles down, all vehicles down.
RADDATZ: ...these diplomatic security agents are in their tense and final week of hostile environment training. Even though this is an exercise, the memory of Benghazi hangs over it all.
The training is challenging physically and mentally. Agents must prove themselves in 160 essential tasks from the hard skills like shooting and driving to the soft skills -- communications...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go for coppertop (ph)
RADDATZ: ...planning and preparing for every possible threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hesitation kills in an attack. And so their actions need to be crisp and this training brings it all together.
RADDATZ: Agents much work through stress and fatigue, solving complex problems with limited resources.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America demands that we cannot retreat behind bricks and barbed wire, we have to be out there.
RADDATZ: Back at the consulate a car bomb. The fake country of Erehwon suddenly feels very real.
Attackers reach the gate and storm the compound.
(on camera): While the Marines claim the enemy outside continues to attack the complex, the students inside have no idea what's happening next.
(voice-over): Wounded agents are in need of medical care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are taking increased IDF fire. They're zeroing us in. Hal, copy.
RADDATZ: Enemy mortar fire is getting closer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay down. Stay away from your window (INAUDIBLE).
RADDATZ: Deteriorating security conditions reach a tipping point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Permission to evac.
RADDATZ: The decision is made to abandon the compound. The agents whisk the counsel general, his staff and the injured agents to a helicopter landing zone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So ladies and gentlemen, you just completed the capstones (ph).
RADDATZ: Ten weeks of training finally come to an end.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This may be a training environment. It may be pretend, per se, but this -- this happens and this is what we proper for. And we have to prepare for the worst.
RADDATZ (on camera): When we were in the consulate, you grabbed those flags.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we leave, we take it with us. It's very important to us.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KARL: Thank you, Martha.
Now, from the threats to our embassies to recent scares in the sky, airplanes may still be the safest way to travel. But consider this stunning fact -- July isn't over yet, but it's already the fifth deadliest month in aviation history.
That has lawmakers calling for changes, even putting missile defense systems on U.S. airliners.
ABC's David Kerley has the latest.
DAVID KERLEY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The latest aviation incident captured on cell phone video Friday -- a heavily armed Canadian SWAT team storming a plane after an emergency landing in Toronto, all sparked by a passenger's bomb threat. Another air scare after a week of tragedy.
From Ukraine to Taiwan to Mali, it all has the flying public on edge, prompting this sobering headline, "One Week: 462 Lost in Crashes."
It's left many asking, Is it safe to fly today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a long way to go before we've got any sort of a trend. And yet I understand why people get scared. But the reality is, it is incredibly safe.
KERLEY: But a world in turmoil has created new havoc for the aviation industry, with rocket fire from Gaza shutting down Tel Aviv's main airport for U.S. carriers for two days this week. That prompted new calls to equip U.S. planes with missile defense systems, as some of Israel's El Al airliners carry, using lasers or flares to divert the threat from heat-seeking, shoulder-fired missiles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are thousands of shoulder-fired missiles in the hands of terrorists around the world, but no commercial plane in the United States fleet is defended. And that's just wrong.
KERLEY: Scores of those missiles, called MANPADS, were looted from Libya in 2011 after the fall of Moammar Qaddafi and many of them are still untraced.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't have to hit the plane, just the firing of it against the plane will ground U.S. civil aviation to a halt.
KERLEY: But these weapons only pose a threat to planes at low altitudes, near take-off and landing, unlike the missile that struck MH17 over Ukraine at 33,000 feet. And the defensive systems against shoulder-fired missiles come at a steep cost -- a million dollars per plane.
In 2008, American Airlines tested one system at the request of Homeland Security, but it was not put into wide use, and the FAA said this week it is not considering requiring such systems.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes no sense for the world's fleet, because the remedy is very simple. You simply keep commercial airliners out of threat areas. You don't need the missile systems.
KERLEY: Those threat areas are spreading, with airlines instructed to steer clear of the world's hot spots.
But is that enough in a world that seems to be growing more dangerous?
For THIS WEEK, David Kerley, ABC News, Washington.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KARL: Thanks, David.
Here now, former White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism adviser, Fran Townsend, and our aviation expert, Steve Ganyard -- so let me ask you, Steve, do you think that we are doing enough when it comes to air safety?
STEVE GANYARD, ABC NEWS AVIATION CONSULTANT: I think we are, John.
You go back and you look at, yes, this has been a terrible July. But in terms of the whole year up to now, it's one of the best years ever on record. You would have to fly once a day every day for four million years to be killed in a plane crash.
That said, I think there are some things we can look at. One of them is what happened in the Ukraine. General Breedlove, on the 30th of June, the NATO commander, said we are seeing the Russians train rebels on mobile surface-to-air missile systems, not MANPADS. He was very concerned.
Why didn't that word get out to (INAUDIBLE)...
KARL: That should have gone out to aviation everywhere.
So who's doing the risk assessment?
I think there's -- there are ways to do better global risk assessment that we need to address.
KARL: And, in fact, Fran, it's very important to point out that even if that MH17 had a missile defense system, that works against the shoulder-fired missiles, not against the kind of system that brought that plane down.
FRAN TOWNSEND, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: That -- that's right. And it goes back to the idea of the sharing of intelligence, very specific intelligence about the threat. If we understood, it was intelligence that these systems -- this sort of system -- was being transferred from the Russians to the rebels, then you understand that -- that the height, you know, that -- which you have to fly to avoid such a system and -- and avoid the area altogether should have been more widely known.
KARL: But one -- one thing that's extraordinary about the -- the flight that we saw go down, the Air Algeria flight that went down over Mali, we still don't have a way to track a missing plane, even after what we saw with the first Malaysian Airlines flight.
So if that -- if that plane had gone down over water, would we even know where it is now?
GANYARD: No, this is another thing I think that we need to address that's come out in the past couple of months. MH370 is still missing. We didn't have the Algerian flight for hours.
What if that airplane had gone down and there were people injured on the ground that needed help?
In this day and age, we should not lose airplanes.
But we've got to get the international aviation community together and we've got to get nations together to agree on what's the protocol.
There are some very inexpensive fixes, but nothing has been done since we've lost MH370.
KARL: Talk about that MANPAD threat, because certainly the headline is frightening. You see all these MANPADS, hundreds of them, go missing in Libya. And you have this image of terrorists out kind of taking target practice.
Are you worried about that threat?
TOWNSEND: Well, and -- and we've seen terrorist groups actually successfully use MANPADS, right?
They were -- it happened against the civilian aviation...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been a while.
TOWNSEND: It's been a while -- in Africa. And you -- you do worry about it.
You know, I mean I will tell you, having just spent a lot of time on airplanes flying back and forth across the continent of Africa, it's where I worry about it the most, right?
There were the Libyan stockpiles that have gone missing. And it's a very serious threat.
But again, it comes back to -- as opposed to deploying these systems on airplanes at a million dollars a plane, the answer is if you've got the intelligence and you've got the protocols for sharing it appropriately, you can better understand the threat and avoid it, as opposed to spending all of this money on an -- anti-MANPAD systems.
KARL: And let me ask you both of you, because you -- you pay attention to this issue as much as absolutely anybody. You're knowledgeable on this.
When that airport was shut down in Tel Aviv -- not shut down, but American airlines advised not to fly into Ben-Gurion Airport, you thought that was the wrong move, even though we see rockets coming out, you know, all the time out of Gaza.
You thought it was a bad move to stop flying there?
TOWNSEND: I did think it was a bad move. I mean, look, when you understand the threat and you understand all of the screening that goes along with it, you look at the perimeter security around Ben-Gurion Airport and the intelligence environment there, these -- and by the way, obviously, the FAA thought it was a bad move, because they withdrew that guidance...
TOWNSEND: Right. Like 36 hours later. It was sort of ridiculous. And it sent a very bad signal, when you're talking about the bad guys, they think they actually have some control over the environment and they've got you scared. I mean I -- I did think it was a bad signal.
KARL: I mean we kept the airport open in Baghdad.
GANYARD: We did. And it -- so if we -- if Baghdad can stay open...
GANYARD: -- with rockets landing every two minutes, we should be able to keep Tel Aviv. I think it's an overreaction by the FAA and I think it was sort of a political knee-jerk. Everything you do in aviation safety is risk assessment. And the same thing with intelligence, mitigating risk.
So I think in this case, it was -- it was a little bit too much too far and not well thought out.
KARL: And in terms of the overall threat, you heard the words from General Flynn, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, saying that he thinks that we are less safe now than we were just a couple of years ago.
TOWNSEND: Oh, I think that's right.
But look, this -- this threat is diverse. It's metastasized. You've seen this -- the bomb maker, al-Asiri, in Yemen, and the big concern now is the sharing of that information, that his training of others, like those in ISIS, where you've got foreign fighters, now you talk about -- about 700 Western passports, maybe as many as 100, with American passports and battle-hardened, coming back to Western Europe and the United States, yes, we ought to be concerned.
KARL: It's frightening, although it's very important, before we go, Colonel Ganyard, to point out that two of the crashes that we saw in this past week were weather-related.
GANYARD: You bet.
KARL: I mean are we more worried about bad weather when we're on a plane or a terrorist with a -- with a missile?
GANYARD: Weather is still far more dangerous to airplanes than terrorists are. So...
GANYARD: -- it's a safe place...
KARL: All right, thank you very much...
KARL: -- Colonel Ganyard, Fran Townsend.
TOWNSEND: Thank you.
KARL: Thanks to both of you.
Coming up, the president's new plan to stop the flood of children crossing the border.
Will it work?
Then, the growing uproar over this video -- an NFL star accused of domestic violence.
His penalty -- was it too light?
And Martha Raddatz on the Mideast crisis and those caught in the middle.
Back in just two minutes.
KARL: Back now with our closer look at the crisis on the southern border, the surge of unaccompanied children crossing into the country illegally continues. And this week we saw firsthand the dangers they face. Here's Jim Avila.
JIM AVILA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This week, we learned that thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border illegally are younger and more female. Pew Research Center reporting the number of children crossing alone younger than 12 more than doubled over 2013 and the number of girls is up 77 percent.
And this week, there were new ideas on how to stop them.
From Texas, the National Guard, 1,000 to the border within a month in what Governor Rick Perry is calling Operation Strong Safety.
GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) TEXAS: What we're asking the National Guard to do is to be a force multiplier.
AVILA: But critics call the 12 million a month deployment Operation Symbolic Act, since by law, most agree, guardsman can't actually arrest immigrants.
The White House announced that the number of unaccompanied children dropped by half from June to July. And the president met with his counterparts from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador unveiling a new pilot program to offer some desperate family legal refugee status in the U.S. without breaking immigration laws.
BARAK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It would be better for them to be able to apply in country rather than take a very dangerous journey.
AVILA: An alternative for a limited number of Central Americans who today often ride atop the dangerous freight train called The Beast through Mexico, a trek chronicled in our sister network Fusion special report that included anchor Jorge Ramos swim on the Rio Grande.
JORGE RAMOS, FUSION TV ANCHOR: Oh, the current is strong, eh? I feel (inaudible) right now.
AVILA: And his crawl through the tunnels under the border.
RAMOS: If they can make it, they'll be here safely, at least for awhile.
AVILA: A humanitarian crisis congress is now being asked to help end before August vacation.
For This Week, Jim Avila, ABC News, Washington.
KARL: Thanks, Jim.
Here now two lawmakers who know the border intimately -- Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn and Texas Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar.
Congressman Cuellar, I want to start with you because your district actually has 200 miles of that border with Mexico. We hear this week from the White House saying that the flow of children crossing the border illegally dropped dramatically, cut about in half over the last couple of weeks. Has the worst of this crisis passed?
REP. HENRY CUELLAR, (D) TEXAS: We don't know.
We do know that it has slowed down, but we don't know if it's because of all the work that we've been doing with Mexico and Central America, or is that it's seasonal, that is right now you hit in the very 100 plus degree weather. And if you look at the history of people coming across there are peaks and there are lows.
KARL: And, you know, we have this situation regardless even if the flow has cut down they're still coming over. We still have nowhere to really put all the tens of thousands of kids who have crossed over and their families.
So Senator Cornyn, congress got five days until you're about to go on a five week recess, can you really leave town without addressing this issue?
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: Well, fortunately it sounds like the House of Representatives is going to move a piece of legislation this week, which would actually offer a solution. And it will include something along the lines Henry and I have proposed.
But what I'm worried about is...
KARL: But the Democrats still oppose, right?
CORNYN: Well, in the Senate, Senator Reid is -- still opposes our proposed solution.
But, John, my view is a solution beats no solution every day. And nobody has offered an alternative, so I hope we will act.
KARL: And including money to help deal with these kids while they're here.
CORNYN: Sure, I think the House will come with skinnied down bill in terms of money, but look, couple it with a policy which will actually solve the problem. And that sounds like what the House is going to pass what they hope the Senate will take up and pass as well.
KARL: And yet, Congressman Cuellar, so you've joined with Senator Cornyn here, the only kind of bipartisan approach to this, which includes changing that 2008 law that puts a different between the kids coming from Central America and those going to Mexico. The folks coming from Mexico can go back immediately, those from Central America get to go through -- have to go through a whole different process.
And yet you're virtually alone among Democrats up there.
CUELLAR: Well, actually the American public wants us to have an orderly border. Right now they're not seeing -- they're seeing chaos at the border, number one.
Number two, keep in mind that President Obama on June 30 sent a letter asking for money and a policy change.
Secretary Johnson has done a real good job. He's been steady among all this political pressure and he's stayed on. So there are other Democrats that do support this.
KARL: No, but Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the Democratic leaders, most of the rank and file, I mean they're not running and joining you on this on The Hill.
CUELLAR: Well, again President Obama requested this at the beginning. Secretary Johnson has been good, but again I represent the district, I don't just go down there once in awhile and see what's going on, I live there.
42,000 of the unaccompanied kids out of the 42,000 out of the 58,000 have come through that small area. So we're at the epicenter. And we've been working with the men and women at the border patrol, the folks in the community have been dealing with this on a day to day basis. We need the resources and we also need a policy change.
KARL: OK, we heard on Friday the White House talking, we heard in Jim's piece talking about this idea of screening some of these children and presumably their family as well in Central America to see if they would be eligible for refugee status and then bringing them into the United States legally.
Hillary Clinton in an interview with Jorge Ramos on Fusion seemed to endorse this idea as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We should be setting up a system in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador to screen kids.
If we don't have a procedure it's not going to stop. More kids are going to come...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: So, Senator Cornyn, what do you think of this idea?
CORNYN: Well, this is a standard procedure now that if you want to seek refugee status you can show up at an American consulate in country, but that's not going to stop the magnet and really the business model that the cartels have created to exploit this vulnerability in the 2008 law.
This is making them a lot of money. And it's subjecting these children and other immigrants to horrific conditions as they travel from Central America to south Texas. And they know the president has said the vast majority of them will not be able to stay, but we simply have now no consequences associated with coming into the country outside of our legal system. And we need to return that. That's why this bipartisan bicameral legislation that Henry and I have offered offers the only real solution.
KARL: Well, we'll see if you guys can actually get something done in the next five days before heading out on recess. We'll -- you're optimistic. We'll see if that comes true.
Senator Cornyn, thank you very much. Congressman Cuellar, thank you.
Coming up, outrage over the punishment of an NFL star accused of domestic violence. First, the powerhouse roundtable's big winners of the week back in just two minutes.
DAVID WRIGHT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm David Wright in Gaza, where another cease-fire now seems to be in effect. This after a morning of heavy shelling from Israel in response to volleys of rockets from Hamas.
Israel had initially offered to extend the 24 hour humanitarian cease-fire. But Hamas rejected that offer, citing the continued presence of Israeli ground troops here.
Then, a sudden about-face from Hamas. They have now offered a 24 hour window, effective immediately.
All quiet for now, except for the sounds of drones overhead.
Yesterday's brief respite gave us a chance to visit some of the hardest hit areas, including the neighborhood surrounding that U.N. school that was shelled last week.
Some areas there completely flattened.
Palestinians also had an opportunity to collect the dead. In one neighborhood, 85 bodies extracted. The death toll on the Palestinian side now stands at more than 1,000, including at least eight more killed this morning.
On the Israeli side, 40 and still no lasting prospects for peace -- Jon.
KARL: Thanks, David.
Now, Mideast crisis through the eyes of two families not in the war zone of Gaza, but nearby, in the West Bank.
Twenty-six years ago, Martha Raddatz went there to cover the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and recently she went back to check in with the people she met then.
They're still living side by side, but now, even further apart.
RADDATZ (voice-over): This day 26 years ago seems a lifetime ago. The Israeli soldiers I interviewed during a patrol on the West Bank never imagined how bad the future would be. But perhaps they should have, when you listen now to what they said than.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see in their eyes a lot of hatred. You can see sometimes a little child of -- of two years old, three years old, who is staring at you with the hatred.
RADDATZ: The Palestinian frustration and anger was, indeed, everywhere. But in April of 1988, I happened on a wedding on the West Bank. A young Palestinian guest determined her people would have a brighter future.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People have to go on marrying and bringing more children, because this is the only way that we Arabs, Palestinians, will stay in this country. So she's getting married. She will bring another son and he will be an Arab Palestinian.
RADDATZ (on camera): This is that same Palestinian church in Beit Sahour where the wedding took place in 1988. It has changed very little. But the people who were there that day will never be the same.
RHANA ITZAK: For many years, Palestinians have continued to -- to live here and to have children and to keep their roots in the land. And they have survived in spite of everything.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Rhana Itzak (ph) was the 19-year-old Palestinian woman I talked to outside the church 26 years ago. Today, Rhana, with two children of her own, reflected on what she told us back then.
(on camera): And when you look at this land, over the past 26 years, are things better, things worse?
ITZAK: Um, difficult questions. In -- in some ways, it's better, in some ways it's a -- it's worse. The U.N. vote to accept Palestine as a member state has given us hope.
Although we are still people under occupation, our status, at least in our own eyes, have changed.
Sadly, we still live in -- in one big prison.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Rhana is talking about the wall -- the massive cement barrier, topped with barbed wire, that keeps the Palestinians on the West Bank separate from Israel.
ITZAK: It's a wall of sadness, off misery, of hate. It's there, so you see it typically, but it's also in your mind, it's in our heart.
I grew up in a -- in a Palestine that did not have a wall and our ability to travel and be friends with Israelis was different from the time of where my children will grow.
RADDATZ: But those on the other side of the wall have a very different view. Debra and Michael Tobin (ph) live in Efrat, a Jewish settlement on the West Bank.
MICHAEL TOBIN: There was no doubt that I could cry listening to her story. Unfortunately, the situation, though, demands a response to protect ourselves.
DEBRA TOBIN: It's also horrible for them, but when the wall went up, my anxiety went down.
RADDATZ: The Tobins today are very different from the young family I met back in 1988, just a year or so after they moved from Massachusetts to Israel. Debra, pregnant with their fourth child, ready for the challenge of co-existing with the Palestinians.
D. TOBIN: I think the -- the turning point for me was thinking about -- sort of imaging myself being 90 years old sitting in my rocking chair and not wanting to look back and have regrets.
M. TOBIN: I would like to feel that it's very possible that we two peoples can learn to live peacefully in a country that we both love. RADDATZ: The daughter Debra was carrying when they first moved here now 26 and expecting a daughter of her own, a child that will surely be shaped by her grandparents' experience.
M. TOBIN: After 26 years, we don't have any illusions.
RADDATZ (on camera): So you're not the idealistic couple I met 26 years ago?
D. TOBIN: That old ex-hippie, peace and love, let's just talk it all out and be good friends with the Arabs?
M. TOBIN: The circumstances, unfortunately, have pushed each of us into our respective camps. It could change.
RADDATZ: So tell me the difference between the 19-year-old I met 26 years ago and the 45-year-old mother today.
ITZAK: I have the -- grown now older and more mature and I have seen more suffering for my people. But it has not changed my resilience and my desire to continue to stay here.
Maybe the difference, I have less friends from the other side. Those relationships have faded away. And it's something that makes me sad. It has been really distressful seeing the pain and the killing in Gaza.
RADDATZ: Do you think you'll see peace in your lifetime?
D. TOBIN: I'm not sure. I'm not sure.
RADDATZ: Whether there is a cease-fire or not, this most recent conflict has done great damage, meaning the cycle of despair and mistrust we have seen for so many years will likely continue for many more.
For THIS WEEK, I'm Martha Raddatz in Jerusalem.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KARL: Thank you, Martha.
The roundtable joins us next.
But before we go to break, the Baseball Hall of Fame induction is today, so we've got a baseball inspired Powerhouse Puzzler.
Name the first sitting president to visit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Back in two minutes to see if the roundtable and you can guess the answer.
KARL: So who was the first sitting president to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame?
The roundtable is with us now.
Let's see what you came up with.
Donna Brazile, you must know the answer to this.
BRAZILE: Oh yeah, right?
KARL: Roosevelt. You don't say which Roosevelt.
CUPP: Covering your bases.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FDR.
CUPP: I also said FDR.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a different Roosevelt, a very old one.
KARL: And you guys are all completely wrong. The answer, believe it or not, is President Barack Obama.
KARL: Who was there just this past May, the first time a sitting president has visited the hall of fame in its 75 year history.
Back in two minutes with the 100 day election day countdown.
KARL: The roundtable now, Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole, CNN Crossfire Co-Host SE Cupp and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich who was also -- his movie Inequality For All now out on Netflix.
Donna, I've got to start with you. We are at the 100 day mark before the mid-term elections. This is when all the negative advertising comes out in full force. And yet this week we saw the Republicans do something unusual. You had Rand Paul going to the National Urban League talking about Republicans appealing to African-American voters. And you had Paul Ryan saying Republicans need an anti-poverty plan.
What's going on?
BRAZILE: Well, first of all they read the autopsy report and decided they did not want to be part of the walking dead in terms of future elections.
I mean, Rand Paul is -- Senator Paul is making a serious effort at trying to have a different conversation with African-American voters -- not on traditional issues. He wants to talk about, you know, economic development in poor inner city areas. He wanted to talk about schools. And clearly he wants to talk about this mandatory sentencing.
He wants to talk about restoring the right to vote for ex-felons convicted of non-violent crime.
KARL: You sound like you're ready to jump on the Rand Paul for president bandwagon here.
BRAZILE: No. It sounds like I've had a lot to time to talk to Rand Paul. I see him on CNN just about every other day. And I think these conversations should be had. And I'm glad there's a Republican willing to sit down with Senator Cory Booker, sit down with Senator Tim Scott, who happens to be a Republican, sit down with the attorney general of the United States, because these are serious issues that need to be resolved and we don't need a partisan solution.
Now, on Paul Ryan, I think it's interesting that he's trying to come up with a big plan to reduce poverty in America. Part of it is expanding the earned income tax credit, which is a good thing. There's parts of it in terms of consolidating programs into a block grant, I don't know if that's so good.
KARL: But, Congressman Cole, we are not going to see African-Americans a big part of that Republican coalition? I mean, what are you like 6 percent in the last...
COLE: Yeah, it will probably go up once the president leaves office, but it's not going to grow dramatically overnight.
But the reality is there are millions of conservative African-Americans. I mean, Tim Scott, J.C. Watts. My -- T.W. Shannon who just made a race for the senate in Oklahoma. So there's...
KARL: But there's only one in the entire congress.
COLE: Well, again, I think there are lots -- there are millions of conservatives. I don't think we have done a very good job as a party reaching into those communities. And I really appreciate what Senator Paul and Congressman Ryan are doing. I think this is extraordinarily important.
And it's important to note they're doing it in ways that are pretty consistent with Republican core principles. If you look at the Ryan plan, it's really based on federalism and personal responsibility are big elements of it. But it's a step in the right direction.
Now, Robert, you're not a Paul Ryan guy. I mean you have been about as critical of him as anybody. But I've seen it, you think that this poverty plan is a serious one.
REICH: I think it's a serious one. In fact, I was frankly very impressed. Paul Ryan, who has been cutting programs for the poor left and right, or at least trying to do that for several years now, awarding tax breaks to the rich. Suddenly, he's had a conversion of some sort. And he is now coming out with a plan that is actually a very interesting plan. Not only does it expand the earned income tax credit, which is the most important anti-poverty policy we have now in the federal government, he extends it, he expands it. He provides some guidance to the states in terms of actually helping people go forward.
It is not exactly a block grant. There are no cuts to poverty programs. This is something that is very new and different from the Republican Party. And I think it deserves a careful look by Democrats.
CUPP: Yeah, you know, I'll take issue a little bit, Jon, with your classifying this as unusual for Republicans. Paul Ryan has been talking about poverty for years, maybe not in the way that Democrats have liked.
KARL: But now he's putting out a specific anti-poverty plan.
CUPP: He's put out poverty plans before. He's put out poverty proposals before. And you're right, this is a serious plan. I'm glad to see liberals like Robert taking it seriously. I'm hoping democrats will take it seriously, because for all the talk recently about poverty, poverty has risen under this president over the past six years, income inequality has widened. And I would like to see Democrats taking this opportunity to say, applaud you, Paul Ryan, let's work together to make this proposal a reality.
Poverty is a serious problem. Paul Ryan has already proven with Patty Murray he can work across the aisle. It's time for Democrats to prove they want to work with him, too.
BRAZILE: But it's not sound bites, SE, that finally we're hearing from Republicans. We hear a lot of sound bites, just the substance. And I think what attracts not just liberals or progressives or anyone else is when you have substance on the table, when you can actually look at a plan and see how it helps people.
What was missing in the plan, if we want the talk about the real stew there, was the fact that he didn't talk about raising the minimum wage, that will also help a generation of Americans come out of poverty as well if we can finally tackle that issue itself.
CUPP: But raising the minimum wage is not going to solve poverty, and if you want to talk about talking points, Donna, that's all we have heard from Democrats over the past year.
COLE: What we see as a rule is frankly just a reflexive defense of everything we did in the 1960s. There is not a lot of new thinking on the Democratic side.
I hope -- I actually hope this sparks that. I mean, I think this could be the beginning of a real national dialogue where we get our friends on the other side to think, hey, some of these programs don't work. We put a lot of money into them. Maybe there's a better approach.
REICH: The a real issue here, I mean, we go Democrat, Republican, Democrat, Republican, in this town, it's all about conflict.
I think the American people really genuinely want some of these problems solved. And I think that the Paul Ryan plan, it is not perfect in every way. I agree completely with Donna, but at least it's a beginning point of conversation.
KARL: OK, we have got to take a quick break.
Next, the surprising milestone in the debate over legalized marijuana ripped from the pages of The New York Times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH OLBERMANN: The message to the women who the league claims constitute 50 percent of its fan base is simple -- the NFL wants your money. People do nothing else for you. People tolerate those who abuse you verbally and those who abuse you physically. And another generation of athletes and fans begin to view the women in sports as just a little less human than the men.
And then one of them raised in that environment beats the crap out of his wife. And the message from the National Football League is that will get you banned for two whole games. Go smoke pot recreationally, and that may get you suspended for a year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Keith Olbermann one of many outraged this week over this disturbing video obtained by TMZ Sports of Baltimore Ravens' star, Ray Rice, dragging his unconscious then girlfriend out of an elevator after he punched her in the face.
His penalty from the NFL?
A two-game suspension.
The round table is back now to weigh in.
Congressman Kohl, you don't agree with Keith Olbermann on much, but do you agree that the NFL screwed up here?
KOHL: Yes, they probably should have done a great deal more than they did, quite frankly.
But I will say, there are criminal avenues available. There are civil penalties available. You know, he did pay a half a million dollars.
I think this is a good discussion that we're having. Frankly, it's actually, in a funny way, a contribution because it sparked a national dialogue and outrage.
But this is a big problem in the country. I was pleased to play a lead role, actually, in passing The Violence Against Women Act, the reauthorization of that recently. I mean there's just no place for this and no excuse for it.
KARL: And a half a million pet -- dollar penalty for a guy that's made over $20 million over the past three years...
BRAZILE: That's a parking ticket.
KARL: Yes. BRAZILE: It -- it's time for the NFL to accrue -- it's time for the men who run the NFL -- I need to be, you know, this is the men who are running the NFL. They need to understand that this -- this -- this is -- this is a huge problem. And -- and by slapping a small penalty on him, it sends the wrong message to kids, OK?
So I think he -- here's a guy who dragged his unconscious wife. And we see this video. And to give him just a little slap, no they -- they should have really made him pay a price.
I think the NFL should have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to domestic violence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the NFL has a domestic violence problem. We all know this. And by basically saying to a player that you can get away with this -- this is -- this is less than a slap on the wrist. This is less than almost any kind of penalty they've given for almost anything...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are -- they are setting a -- they're sending a message, unfortunately, to this country that has a domestic violence problem. This country has a serious domestic violence problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It cuts across all classes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I fail to see the news here. The NFL is a -- is a place where you can beat your wife and play again, where you can torture animals and play again, where you can abuse drugs, maybe have an accident, play again.
I think what's interesting is it puts Tony Dungy's comments about Michael Sam in perspective. Let's be less concerned about the gay guy in the locker room...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- and more concerned about criminals in the league.
KARL: All right, now to a surprising twist in the debate over legalizing marijuana. Check your copy of "The New York Times" this morning and you may want to do a double-take. You'll find an editorial that looks like a manifesto, the newspaper coming out in favor of legalizing pot.
Earlier, we spoke with editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Andy, I have to say, I am a little bit surprised to see "The Times" following in the footsteps of "High Times" magazine. You know, it was 40 years ago this summer that "High Times" first came out for legalizing marijuana. And here, now, "The New York Times" bluntly saying repeal the ban on marijuana.
ANDREW ROSENTHAL, EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I'm glad you're surprised. I'm not sure we would have been ready to do it 40 years ago. But, you know, the -- the country has been moving in this direction. Public opinion is clearly there. We've been watching the states experiment in more and more states now. It's about 37 allow marijuana either for medical and now for recreational use. And they're doing it in defiance of the federal ban.
KARL: Were you concerned about sending a signal, particularly to young people, that there's nothing wrong with smoking marijuana?
ROSENTHAL: You know, we thought about that and we discussed it and, you know, we think that there should be a 21 year age limit on it, although, you know, that will be permeable, I'm sure. And I guess the point is, we're not urging people to smoke pot anymore than we are for them to drink alcohol or to smoke cigarettes.
It's just that making it illegal was creating a social cost for the country that was absolutely unacceptable.
KARL: Your editorial page has been on the forefront of limiting tobacco use. I mean you praised Michael Bloomberg over and over again for his efforts in New York City. One detail several years ago, you said, "Since taking office, Mr. Bloomberg has been a kind of anti-Marlboro Man, targeting smoking as a public health enemy, which makes him one of the best things to happen to lungs since the chest x-ray."
So here you have a virtual ban on cigarette smoking in public places, which "The Times" liked.
Why are you so tough on tobacco and so easy on cannabis?
ROSENTHAL: Well, again, that's a local decision. And it wasn't made by Congress, which is really important. And the other is, is that tobacco use kills you.
The medical evidence on marijuana is completely different.
KARL: OK, so before you go, I've got to just ask one more question.
Do you guys smoke pot?
ROSENTHAL: I have never asked the people that work for me whether they smoke pot and I'm not going to ask. I have smoked pot in my life. I went to college in Colorado in the 1970s. You figure it out.
KARL: All right.
Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor of "The New York Times."
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KARL: (AUDIO GAP) states' rights argument, let the localities decide whether or not to legalized pot.
Do you agree with that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think we're probably moving in that direction. Frankly, laws are changing. Habits are changing. I'm not somebody that, frankly, advocates this.
I went to college in the '60s and Granholm College (ph) and I didn't smoke pot. I don't think it's a good thing to be promoting (INAUDIBLE)...
KARL: But you wouldn't oppose lifting the federal ban...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- well, what I would say is let's have a real piece of legislation work through the legislative process on this. You know, so far, what we've done is mostly vote on amendments. That's never a good idea to make major policy changes.
You just -- we've got some advocates, Democrat and Republican, and I'd like to see this stuff introduced, seriously taken up in crime and let's -- let's have a national dialogue about it.
KARL: And you think this is (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- but it's not a habit I want to encourage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think it's -- it's high time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: High time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. But let me -- let me just say this. Our prisons are filled with non-violent criminals, many of whom are there because they've been arrested for selling or using pot. You know, this war against drugs, particularly with regard to marijuana, has been lost. And we see the evidence of that all around us.
And I think it is very necessary to start this (INAUDIBLE).
KARL: Let's not forget, war on drugs, Ronald Reagan. This was "Just Say No!."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look, a...
KARL: Zero tolerance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of...
KARL: Is that all gone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- a lot of the -- a lot of the people who are routinely arrested for marijuana use are young people. If we're going to put a legal age restriction of 21, that's not going to stop a lot of the arrests of young people.
I don't know that this is the way to solve these social problems. And I think we all agree those are social problems. I think -- I think it's unsettled yet. We need a little bit more time in the laboratories of democracy to see how this affects crime and young people...
KARL: So that's putting it back to the states...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- and the economy.
BRAZILE: And then we can look at...
BRAZILE: -- we can look at Colorado and Washington as two model states that we can see crime is going down, supposedly, in Denver.
Look, we spend close to $4 billion enforcing, you know, these laws.
BRAZILE: We have put countless number of young, model citizens in jail because they possess a -- a weed, or whatever you want to call it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BRAZILE: It is high time...
BRAZILE: I agree...
KARL: High time. All right.
BRAZILE: -- that we have the (INAUDIBLE)...
KARL: Well, we are out of time.
Donna Brazile, Tom Kohl, S.E. Cupp, Robert Reich, thank you for joining us.
And now, we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice.
This week, the Pentagon released the names of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
That's all for us today.
Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Check out "WORLD NEWS WITH DAVID MUIR" tonight and we'll see you back here next week.