'This Week' Transcript: Terror in Kenya; Rep. Peter King and Tyler Hicks
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday morning, Sept. 22, 2013 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: Good morning. Welcome to This Week.
Breaking overnight, terror strikes. Dozens killed at a shopping mall in Kenya. Americans are caught in the crossfire. An al Qaeda affiliate claims responsibility. We have all the breaking details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The joint resolution is passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Days away from the first government shutdown in two decades, can it be stopped? How is this happening again?
Plus, drama and tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He aimed his gun at us. He fired at least two or three shots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Another mass shooting, another search for answers. How were so many warning signs missed? We're live at the Washington Navy Yard.
All that, plus the powerhouse roundtable, right here this Sunday morning.
ANNOUNCER: A special edition of This Week with Martha Raddatz at the Navy Yard and Jonathan Karl in Washington starts right now.
RADDATZ: Hello, again, George is off today. Great to have you with us.
We're at the Washington Navy Yard where in just a few hours, President Obama is set to honor the victims of the mass shooting here. We'll take on that issue of the tragedy later in this hour, but first, a drama still unfolding overseas, breaking news, the Kenyan government says at least 59 people confirmed dead after al Qaeda-linked terrorists stormed an upscale mall in the capital Nairobi.
Dozens of Americans were among those sent running for their lives, several were injured. And there are still hostages inside.
ABC's Kirit Radia is in Nairobi with the very latest - Kirit.
KIRIT RADIA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Martha, now more than 24 hours after this siege began, it's still a very tense situation. We're told that there's still up to 30 people being held hostage by up to 15 gunmen inside the Westgate. We're also told that authorities were able to rescue about 1,000 people yesterday.
But again, dozens of people killed in this attack, up to 200 others injured. Among those injured, American citizens.
And just a short while ago, gunshots were heard just outside the Westgate. Some police officers were seen coming out injured.
Martha, the Kenyans say they have this under control, but this still remains very much a hostage situation and it is far from over.
RADDATZ: Let's now go to Tyler Hicks, a veteran New York Times war photographer based in Nairobi who was able to get inside the mall moments after the first shots were fired taking some incredible photos in the process. He joins us now on the phone.
Tyler, tell us what you first saw when you got into the mall.
TYLER HICKS, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Well, leading up to the mall, I realized how serious it was when I saw three dead bodies on the steps just outside of the mall front entrance. I proceeded up to an upper parking area where I saw some civilians rushing out of the mall and I saw that as a way to get inside.
Once in, it was clear that this was going to be something very bad. There were several bodies clearly visible around the mall. Two men who had, as far as I could see, were eating lunch, were killed next to big table where they were having lunch in the cafe, another man in front of an ATM machine, someone in front of the entrance to the supermarket. So there was really no specific area, it just seemed to be bodies, really, strewn all over the place.
RADDATZ: And it looked like people were grabbing their children, running out of there, and a very organized attack.
HICKS: Yes, it was organized but also very disorganized for the police and army who were in there trying to figure out what was going on. They were moving around in these big open areas, where there's a lot of places for people to hide. There's a casino. There's a movie theater, a huge supermarket. And so, there's lots - all these shops, at any given place, someone could be there. So, this is what made it so difficult for them as they were trying to both locate the assailants and also to try to aid civilians to get out of the mall.
RADDATZ: And there were people hiding in vents and other places inside the mall and clearly people still in there?
HICKS: Yes, I mean, this is an upscale mall, where you have - it's the western standards. There's a sushi restaurant, where a woman came out of an air vent, up near the ceiling. She had hid herself up there.
A lot of it wasn't very apparent at first, because people were locked inside their shops and hiding. So, occasionally, you just see somebody waving through the glass and the police would go over or the army, they would open the door and get them out as fast as they could.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much for joining us, Tyler, I know you have to get back to work.
Now for more let's bring in Republican Congressman Peter King, a member of the House intelligence committee who has been briefed on the Nairobi attack. Congressman King thanks for joining us this morning.
What can you tell us about what kind of attack this was, who they believe is responsible in.
KING: Well, Martha, this was a very sophisticated attack, very similar to what we saw in Mumbai. And by all indicators, this was carried out by al Shabaab, which is based out of Somalia.
When I was chairman of the homeland security committee two years ago I conducted a hearing on al Shabaab. It's extremely deadly organization, very well trained. And it's one of the only al Qaeda affiliates which actually has actively recruited here in the United States. There is at least 40 to 50 Somali-Americans have gone from the United States to Somalia to be trained. A number of them have been killed, but there's other still alive.
So I am - I would assume that the FBI and local law enforcement are looking into those Somalia-American communities today if any leads or indicators using all their sources and resources to make sure there's no follow-up attempt here in the United States.
RADDATZ: And how about any information on whether some of those Somali-Americans might be involved in the attack, anything on that yet?
KING: I have not heard if any of them are involved or not. We know there's probably still 15 to 20 Somali-Americans who are still active over there. The concern would be if any of those have come back to the United States and would use those abilities here in the United States.
Also Martha, this shows the really growing influence of al Qaeda in Africa. You have al Shabaab now in Somalia going off into Kenya, carrying out an attack outside its own country.
For years, the State Department did not want to declare al Shabaab a terrorist organization, because they thought it was focusing on tribal issue within Somalia. Now, we see, by attacking into Kenya they certainly have an international dimension to them.
You also have Boko Haram in Nigeria. And other - and also you have al Shabaab working closely with al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula in Yemen.
So we're talking about very significant terrorist groups here which are showing a capacity to attack outside of their boarders and actually recruit people from here in the United States.
RADDATZ: And really, one of the biggest terrorist attacks in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy?
KING: Now, this is a particularly brutal attack. And it almost seems as if the terror world was coming full cycle, because one of the first major attacks we recall against the United States was the attack on the embassies back in 1998. And now we have, 15 years later, a massacre, really in a well coordinated, well planned horrific massacre, I mean, they attacked at the busiest time of the week, the busiest time of the day. They knew what they were doing, they took the hostages.
So is, again, very similar to Mumbai. And showing that al Qaeda and its affiliates are still extremely powerful and still able to really strike terror into the hearts of people, attacking a shopping mall, it has no military significance at all. This is clearly an attack to terrorize and murder innocent civilians. And if the reports are true that they were allowing Muslims to leave and focusing on non-Muslims.
Again, they're making this part of their jihadist war.
RADDATZ: Thank you very much, Congressman King, for joining us.
RADDATZ: Now for more on the al Qaeda threat and the risks to Americans both here and abroad. We're joined by ABC senior Justice Department correspondent Pierre Thomas, Fran Townsend a former homeland security adviser to President Bush and a CNN contributor, and General Peter Chiarelli former vice chief of staff in the army and former senior military assistant to the secretary of Defense.
I want to start with you, Fran Townsend. If you were still in that job right now, what would you be looking for?
FRAN TOWNSEND, FRM. HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: I want to know the very question you asked to Congressman King, Martha, I want to know were there any of those recruited Somali-Americans who were we know over there fighting, were any of them involved in this attack? And what is the FBI doing to identify potential threats in this country?
Look, an attack to a U.S. mall, it's a soft target, very difficult to protect. And so it's long been a worry. Now you know, Congressman King mentioned the hearing he had held, you know, they identified 40 to 50 Americans who had been recruited by al Shabaab, more than half of those come from Minnesota. And so you can imagine the FBI is concentrating their efforts right now domestically there.
RADDATZ: Pierre, I know your sources have told you there's no direct threat to the homeland right now. But what do they do? How do they handle this in the United States? Are they ready for an attack like this in the United States?
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: They have been looking at particularly the young Somali-Americans in Minnesota. That group has been going back and forth into Somalia. They're very concerned about them. They have been studying their patterns, because again the concern has been you get the training there. You come back home and perhaps do something here.
But, the U.S. has been deeply concerned about these kinds of attacks as Congressman King said since the Mumbai attacks in India in 2008. So you now have law enforcement training at malls. The FBI went to a particular -
RADDATZ: Higher caliber weapons they're carrying?
THOMAS: - exactly, in the trunk of their cars. So the FBI , at a conference in D.C. I went to, was fascinating. They were talking to hotel officials about what you have to do in soft target attack.
And they told them, look, the terrorists are not coming to ask for demands, they're coming to kill people, so we're going to have to come in and we're going to have fight room to room. And it was very sobering in Washington, D.C., to hear the FBI talk like that.
RADDATZ: General Chiarelli, I want to go to you because the military set up an Africa command, called AFRICOM. And what does the military do in a situation like this going forward, having watched an attack like this?
GEN. PETER CHIARELLI, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, I would argue that we're in a much better position today than we were in 1998 with the creation of AFRICOM. It provides focus into Africa; relationships have been built. Intelligence has been gathered and will continue to be gathered to fill in any holes that we have about what happened in this particular attack and what could happen in the future.
Let's talk about that intelligence. So the military, if they're involved in this, if Al-Shabaab is involved in this, right now is probably looking for potential targets?
Chicago That's exactly right. They're developing targets. And -
RADDATZ: By that we mean against Al-Shabaab?
CHIARELLI: Yes, of course. And refining target lists, trying to fill in any gaps that we possibly have and doing all of the kinds of things that you would do to gain information in what must - what is a very chaotic situation.
RADDATZ: Fran, they had a clear media plan here. Moments after this attack, we heard from Al-Shabaab, tweets coming out. That's a new - that's something very new.
TOWNSEND: It is very new. And to Twitter's credit, they shut that account down pretty quickly and interestingly enough, the Kenyan police, the police chief and the police service are also tweeting now.
And the police chief just this morning encouraged family members who were missing people to direct message them on Twitter. So we're seeing the use of social media both by the bad guys and by the good guys, to collect information, to collect additional data.
You know, this is not Al-Shabaab's first attack outside Somalia. In fact, several years ago, it was at a cafe around the World Cup in Kampala, Uganda. So this is a reminder, Al-Shabaab is not gone. They were - that was not their only attack. And they will continue to rise, despite having been pushed back and out of southern Somalia.
RADDATZ: Pierre, quickly, if you will, if you're an American out there and you're worried about going to malls, what do you do? What do you say to those Americans?
THOMAS: Well, they have to go on with their lives and they have to believe and hope that law enforcement has been training for issues just like this. Law enforcement says they're prepared, but the reality is, if people are committed and they want to kill, you can go to a mall and you can do this. So, you just have to live with that in the back of your mind, but live your life.
Thanks to all of you very much.
Now to that dramatic showdown developing here in Washington. The threat of a government shutdown, approaching fast. My colleague Jon Karl is back in the studio with the very latest.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Martha.
The shutdown showdown is on. And there's the clock. Eight days till the government runs out of money. And right after that, the U.S. government faces default unless the Congress raises the debt ceiling. Battles ahead and we've got two of the key players right here. But first we asked ABC's Jeff Zeleny to break it all down for us. Call it Washington's own twisted reality show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the Emmy goes to -
JEFF ZELENY, ABC NEWS SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight in L.A., the Emmys will celebrate the best dramas, the best comedies.
STEVEN LEVITAN, "MODERN FAMILY": I want to thank me for hiring me as a director.
ZELENY (voice-over): But if you want both leave Hollywood and head straight to Washington, where a budget showdown and fear of a government shutdown is the latest in the most dysfunctional reality show around.
DAMIAN LEWIS, "HOMELAND": I pretty much disagree with everything you say and do.
ZELENY (voice-over): The award for leading actor: Senator Ted Cruz.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I will do everything necessary to defund ObamaCare.
ZELENY (voice-over): The Texas firebrand trying to make his make his mark tying health care to the budget fight.
CRUZ: Defund ObamaCare now.
ZELENY (voice-over): Friday, the House agreed, voting to approve money to keep the government running only if ObamaCare funds are scrapped. Cruz and conservatives pushed the plan with Speaker John Boehner, who gets the award for best supporting actor.
Here he is with Diane Sawyer last year.
JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: ObamaCare is the law of the land.
ZELENY (voice-over): But now, a different tune.
BOEHNER: It's time for us to say no.
KEVIN SPACEY, "HOUSE OF CARDS": I'm sorry, Mr. President but I will not do that.
ZELENY (voice-over): But that move has sparked a rift in this Republican Party.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: But I can tell you, in the United States Senate, we will not repeal or defund ObamaCare. We will not. And to think we can is not rational.
ZELENY (voice-over): Then another battle over the debt limit, which is coming in mid-October, the president warning of dire consequences.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we fail to increase the debt limit, we would send our economy into a tailspin.
TONY GOLDWYN, "SCANDAL": This is my office. I'm the president.
ZELENY (voice-over): A Washington cliffhanger awaits.
JIMMY KIMMEL, ABC HOST: Oh, did you guys want to stay another hour?
ZELENY (voice-over): For THIS WEEK, Jeff Zeleny, ABC News, Capitol Hill.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And joining us now, Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee and Georgia Republican Tom Graves, who's been leading the fight in the house to defund ObamaCare.
So, thank you both for joining us.
Congressman Graves, help me understand how far you are willing to push here.
If the Senate does not go along with this in eight days, are you still going to insist that you will not support funding for the government unless ObamaCare is defunded?
GRAVES: Well, Jon, thanks for letting me join you this morning. This is my inaugural Sunday show. So it's good to start it here.
What is real - and I know this is about reality TV - we saw a minute ago is that the American families all across our country are facing the real impacts and negative impacts, harmful impacts, from implementation of ObamaCare.
So we do have eight days to reach a resolution on this and I propose an idea that kept the government operating and opened for an entire year while delaying and defunding ObamaCare for a year so that we could work out those differences.
But the realness of all of this, whether it's in my district or Chris' district or anywhere else is that Americans families are -
KARL: But my question was very - how far are you willing to push, if the Senate does not go along in eight days, are you still going to insist, no funding for the government unless ObamaCare is defunded?
GRAVES: We are united around a very simple goal, and that is keeping the government open while protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of ObamaCare. So, we're going to do everything we can to protect our constituents, and we have eight days to do that.
And my hope is that the Senate is going to act in a very positive way, because you've skipped a very important step. Your assumption is the Senate will not defund ObamaCare, will not -
GRAVES: - that is your assumption.
KARL: We're going to get Congressman Van Hollen in this, but I want to read to you something that "The Wall Street Journal" - this is an editorial page that supports your view on the health care law, but thinks that the way you're going about this is just crazy.
Here's what they wrote: "Perhaps the only war strategizing more inept than President Obama's on Syria are GOP plans for the budget hostilities this autumn. Republicans are fracturing over tactics, and even over the nature of political reality, which may let Mr. Obama outwit them like a domestic Vladimir Putin."
This is not going to work, is it?
GRAVES: That's their opinion. That's an editorial clearly is what that is. But when you read "The Chicago Tribune," they say delay and stop ObamaCare. Warren Buffett says stop it now and start over. You have the three top leaders of the unions in our country saying this is now what will work. It's going to create a new underclass of workers that are under 30 hours.
GRAVES: It's not just republicans, this is widespread, even "The Baltimore Sun" says that it's going to cause 25 percent increase in rates in Chris' district.
VAN HOLLEN: Jon, look there's a reason Republicans senators like Senator McCain and others are saying this is absolutely insane because the Republican proposition here is they're going to shut down the government if they can't deny health care to millions of Americans, including millions of kids who are right now benefiting from the Affordable Care Act, kids with pre-existing conditions who can no longer be thrown off of their insurance policies.
That's right now. They're saying we're going to shut down the government unless we get rid of those protections, number one.
Number two, I think Tom and his colleagues have to explain to the American people how they voted for a budget that includes all of the Medicare savings from ObamaCare, that includes the same level of revenue generated from ObamaCare and, in fact, would not even balance in 10 years, if not for the Affordable Care Act.
So here they're running around the country on the one hand, saying let's get rid of the Affordable Care Act. And yet they passed the budget that only comes to balance because of it. Now that's misleading and that's a hoax. And they should explain that to the American people, how you're trying to do two things at one time.
GRAVES: Well, I mean it's clear that I was in my district during August, listening to my constituents -
VAN HOLLEN: No, look, I asked a question about the budget, Tom. You guys passed a budget that assumes big parts of ObamaCare are kept. And then you're going around and -
GRAVES: Our budget also assumed that it would not be in effect as well.
VAN HOLLEN: Actually, that's not the case. You assume all the Medicare savings in your budget.
GRAVES: But yesterday, Jon, I mean, there - I guess Friday, Chris voted to impose 25 percent increase on premiums on his constituents. And I wonder how you…
GRAVES: …constituents and say you're willing to do that.
VAN HOLLEN: Whenever there's a flood these days, you guys in the Republican Party say that's Obamacare. What I find interesting, I think…
KARL: Let me get in here just a second, because I want to ask you Congressman Van Hollen, we had a poll this week, ABC News/Washington Post, that showed the health care law is about as unpopular as it's ever been. Let's look at some of the numbers, 52 percent say they oppose the law. 55 percent disapprove with the way its being implemented. And only 11 percent in this ABC/Washington Post poll say they believe that Obamacare is going to make their health care better.
VAN HOLLEN: Hey, John, the biggest poll we had on this was the last election. This was one of the most heavily litigated issues in the last election.
KARL: You guys won the last election, no doubt.
VAN HOLLEN: And President Obama said that she was going to implement the Affordable Care Act and Mitt Romney said he was going to defund it. And the president won on that issue and other issues.
I'm not surprised that there's a lot of confusion. These guys have been running around the country demagoguing, scare mongering on this issue. They're not afraid that it's going to be unsuccessful, they're afraid it's going to be successful and all of that misinformation will be shown to be a fraud.
GRAVES: Something very important has happened since the president did win the election and that he himself has amended, delayed, or repealed 19 components of his very own law. So if it's so good for America, then why he is delaying it for his friends in big business? Why is he delaying it for members of Congress like yourself?
VAN HOLLEN: Actually, this is important, there are only 5 percent of businesses are affected by this law, number one. And number two, let me ask you this, you guys don't want to provide affordable care under this system for millions of Americans, but you have a plan to take millions of people in Medicare and put them into Obamacare system, that's what you're proposing to do.
KARL: We're going to have to come back to continue this…
VAN HOLLEN: It's astounding.
KARL: I've got a very quick thing for you. Is John Boehner going to be back as speaker of the house in the next Congress?
GRAVES: I believe he will be.
KARL: You believe he will be.
All right, thank you very much. Chris Van Hollen, Tom Graves, appreciate it.
Coming up it's the powerhouse roundtable's turn. They'll weigh in on the possible government shutdown next.
Plus, more from the Washington Navy Yard. Why were so many warning signs missed?
ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos brought to you by Kyocera document solutions.
KARL: The powerhouse roundtable is coming up, including Newt Gingrich. He was Speaker of the House during the last government shutdown. What does he have to say about this one? That next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FRM. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're trying to get to a balanced budget and we're trying to keep open the government. If the president signs the bills the government will stay open.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: That was House Speaker Newt Gingrich three days before the last government shutdown in 1995.
We're back with the roundtable including Speaker Gingrich co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," Robert Reich former labor secretary and star of the new movie "Inequality for All," ABC's senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny and Gwen Ifill of the PBS Newshour. Welcome to all of you.
So, Speaker Gingrich the Republicans, what are they going to do with this? And what should they do?
GINGRICH: I think they should get plenty of sleep. This is the next three, four, or five weeks are going to be very tense and going to be very challenging.
I mean, all of these people want the House Republicans to surrender. And under the constitutional system, if the House gives up the power of the purse it surrenders.
So Obama goes three times this week for partisan attack speeches and basically says I'm not going to negotiate. I don't care what you guys do.
This is not a dictatorship. Under our constitution, there should be a period of tension and there should be a compromise on both sides.
Ironically, Obama said on Friday nobody gets 100 percent. Well, what is he willing to give up?
ROBERT REICH, FRM. CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Look, I don't think with due respect to the speak, that the issue here is anything about - is the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare good or bad, you like it or do you not like it? I think the issue is whether one party in congress is going to be allowed to use the entire system of government as basically blackmail to get its way.
After a law has already passed both Houses of congress, been put into law by the president, signed into law, the constitutionally of that particular law has been undeniably affirmed by the Supreme Court, once you go down the road Newt where you can simply if you don't like a particular law you can threaten to shut down the government what's next? Social Security, Medicare, the Fair Labor Standards Act.
GINGRICH: So you would repudiate basically the American system. The American - remember the Democrats lost…
REICH: You are repudiating the American system.
GINGRICH: The Democrats 63 seats in the House immediately after passing Obamacare, so both sides have talking rights. The president can say I won the election, Boehner can say and we won the election. Under our constitutional system, going all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215, the people's house is allowed to say to the king we ain't giving you money.
REICH: OK, but sorry, under our constitutional system you're not allow to risk the entire system of government to get your way.
KARL: But Jeff, there is a reality here.
And we heard it in your piece at the top of your show from John McCain. The Senate is not going to go along with (inaudible) Obamacare.
ZELENY: Right and you hear that again and again and again from Republicans. I talked to Orrin Hatch last week walking through the halls of the Capital. He said, you know what's happening in the House, they're unfairly raising the expectations for everyone in the country who wants to, and who does not like the Affordable Care Act-
KARL: The base. The base thinks they can just pull this off.
ZELENY: And they can't do it. So they're, so that's a big worry. So as this moves to the Senate this week, there's going to be a lot of huffing and puffing, but is Ted Cruz going to be standing along or who's going to be with him? Senator Rand Paul was in Michigan over the weekend. He bluntly said what seems to be the obvious, you know, we can't get rid of Obamacare.
You know and even if the government would shut down, the Affordable Care Act continues. Those exchanges still open on October 1, so that's the underlying point here. The Healthcare Act is here to stay. But all tied to the debt limit, and that's up for discussion this week.
IFILL: We're talking about sending messages, some of my least favorite things in Washington. When you do things just to send a message. But both Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are talking filibuster. Which means they get to hold the floor for as long as possible.
It doesn't mean they get to stop Obamacare. It doesn't mean they get to do anything but bounce it back to the House and then put yet another dilemma in John Boehner's lap.
By the way Mr. Speaker, I liked your shirt in that picture.
GINGRICH: Yeah that was a good sweater.
IFILL: That was a sweater? It was a good look.
GINGRICH: That was impressive, it was. I remember that.
GINGRICH: It was a cold winter.
KARL: There's something bigger here which you didn't even deal, first of all you controlled the entire Congress-
KARL: And the Republicans were in charge of the Senate too. But this time around, this is really just the warm up. I mean Secretary Rice, the debt ceiling, we're talking, there's not been any negotiations whatsoever. The White House says they won't negotiate on the issue. And we hit the debt ceiling in the middle of October.
REICH: And the last time there was a threat you recall, to actually not pay our debts. Not pay interest on the debts, not repay our creditors. (inaudible) bond system, the United States government was downgraded. That cost American tax payers a huge amount of money-
KARL: We could have another downgrade.
KARL: But why is the White House not negotiating on this though?
REICH: Because it should not be negotiable. I mean the principle that you can, there's a kind of scorched earth, anything goes set of tactics that can be used by one side in a political game. In which the entire government of the United States including the faith in credit of the government of the United States can be thrown into that same game. That's absurd.
GINGRICH: Well this is historical bologna. We have added something to the debt ceiling-
KARL: Better than pious bologna I believe.
GINGRICH: Wait a second. The fact is since Dwight Eisenhower we have added things to the debt ceiling. Graham Rudman which was a big change in spending was on the debt ceiling. Obama has added things to the debt ceiling. So when the president goes to the business roundtable and says, this is unprecedented and I won't negotiate, this is not a dictatorship. At some point members of the House are allowed to say, come sit at the table. He doesn't sit at the table, he goes out and makes partisan attacks-
IFILL: It's true that the president likes nothing better, it seems to be no more energized than when he gets a moral dudgeon. And that's true of everybody else in the White House too. But he is not unhappy right now. I don't think anybody is talking to anybody in the White House who are saying, oh gee it's a shame the Republicans are fighting among themselves.
ZELENY: It's the best week he's probably had in a few weeks after Syria and everything else. Suddenly he has-
KARL: -president and if the economy goes down as a result of this, you know, he's ultimately (inaudible).
KARL: I want to change quite dramatically to the, what is happening in Iran. We have a potential game changer in the Middle East. A new Iranian president talking about reconciliation. Saying he is ready to negotiate, ready to talk to the United States. And the White House Gwen, seems to be open. I mean are we going to see them meet in New York this week?
IFILL: The first olive branch-
KARL: The president of Iran and the president of the United States?
IFILL: That's what we're all waiting to see. I think even if there's a choreographed handshake, a still photograph, that would be, that would be course changing. It's been 35 years since we've had any kind of conversation with Iran. Hassan Rouhani, the new president who they say is a moderate by definition, Iranian definition. That might not be what we call a moderate. But he has undertaken a full, flatout, out flat charm offensive-
KARL: With Twitter-
IFILL: With Twitter, with the American press, with interviews. He's going to be you know, styling around New York at the General Assembly this week.
REICH: Rosh Hashanah congratulations.
IFILL: Rosh Hashanah congratulations-
REICH: It's extraordinary.
IFILL: Except when Ann Curry asked him whether he also agreed with Ahmadinejad whether the Holocaust was-
KARL: He said I'm not a historian.
IFILL: He said I'm not a historian I'm a politician.
ZELENY: Which is one sign that the White House is sort of worried about this.
IFILL: Yeah a little nervous.
KARL: OK I don't get the sense you're buying.
GINGRICH: Well first of all, a moderate Iranian Revolutionary, acceptable to the Ayatollah.
KARL: Right the Ayatollah approved all the candidates in the last election.
GINGRICH: That's right. This is a guy who's going to charm us, he's going to talk with us, he's going to have tea with us, he's going to do photo ops with us. And he's going to build a nuclear weapon.
REICH: So let me agree with Newt partly. I, I think that the issue here, I mean we can't get expectations too high. We've got to be very cautious. But one of the big lessons here is that economic sanctions do seem to work. Right now Iran is suffering 30 percent inflation, 20 percent unemployment. I mean this nation is hurting and our economic sanctions, because we've been patient with them, because we have actually rounded up almost every other nation to support us, have had a huge impact.
IFILL: That's how he got elected in the first place.
KARL: And Iran wants those sanctions lifted which is why he's been given a green light by the Ayatollah to at least begin this process. You're not suggesting that President Obama shouldn't meet with him are you?
Because this would be historic in and of itself. We haven't seen this since Jimmy Carter met with the Shah in '77.
GINGRICH: Then the question would be what do you get for the meeting? A meeting with the President of the United States is an enormous advantage to anybody who's been isolated. So what do we get for the meeting? A photo op? What are they going to give us?
KARL: Shouldn't we test it? That's what the president says.
GINGRICH: No you test it before the meeting. I think, you know, from Eisenhower through Reagan, there was a pretty clear sense, to get to meet with the President of the United States; you had to have worked something out.
IFILL: I don't think we know-
ZELENY: So you think a photo op is a bad idea? Do you think that's a sign of weakness by the president?
GINGRICH: I don't think it's a crisis or a disaster, I'm just telling you, this guy is part of the dictatorship. He has zero interest in giving up a nuclear weapon. This is a game to buy time. And in fact, in his earlier career, he claimed that he managed to confuse the Western Europeans in order to buy more time.
REICH: Let's look at who he really is. The normal pattern of diplomacy through these things is not to begin with a face-to-face meeting.
REICH: It's to begin with underlings who clear the brush. Who actually create the agreement and then the face-to-face meeting is to confirm the agreement. And that's the way it should be here.
IFILL: I think the timing is what's interesting because of Syria.
KARL: Unfortunately, we are out of time. But thank you very much, Gwen, Jeff, Secretary Reich, Newt Gingrich. We have to go back to Martha Raddatz now at the Navy Yard. Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much John, waking up from a nightmare. How can a community heal and how can we prevent tragedies like this from happening again?
RADDATZ: Forty years after Billie Jean King's historic triumph over Bobby Riggs, she's taking on those new allegations he threw the match.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: People are upset I beat his butt, that's why.
ROBERTS: Ever 40 years later?
KING: Yeah, they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Robin Roberts with a tennis legend coming up.
RADDATZ: Back now at the Washington Navy Yard, where President Obama is set to speak at a memorial service later today. 12 killed by a deranged navy contractor. Here's ABC's Pierre Thomas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Multiple shots fired. Multiple people down.
THOMAS: For six years, Aaron Alexis exhibited increasingly bizarre behavior. In short, he was a ticking time bomb that no one seemed to detect.
August 4th, a disturbing confrontation at Norfolk International Airport. Unprovoked, Alexis accuses an Alabama family of mocking him.
GLYNDA BOYD: His behavior - something wasn't right with him mentally.
THOMAS: Airport security intervened, but sent everyone on their way, no more questions asked. August 7th, only three days later in Newport, Rhode Island, Alexis tells police that he's hearing voices and under constant surveillance. What's more, he said, his tormentors are bombarding him with a microwave machine.
Newport authorities warned Naval station police about the strange behavior, but the tale was never passed up the chain of command.
MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FRM. FBI PROFILER: There should have been some kind of mental health assessment done in order to determine the severity of these hallucinations.
THOMAS: August 23rd, Alexis goes to a VA hospital in Rhode Island, and another here in Washington on August 28th complaining of insomnia.
On both occasions, they give him sleeping medication and ask if he's a danger to himself or others. He says no.
They take him at his word. And last Monday, Alexis goes to work at the Navy Yard only to explode in an episode of wanton violence.
For "This Week," Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.
RADDATZ: General Peter Chiarelli joins us again along with Mark Barton who lost his seven-year-old son Daniel at Newtown's Sandy Hook school. Mark is now a member of the grassroots group Sandy Hook Promise. And ABC's Dr. Richard Besser.
I want to start as we sit here in the shadow of the navy yard in the very building where 12 people lost their lives earlier this week, with you, Dr. Besser, you called this - when we were talking a little earlier, a predictable surprise and yet, nothing has been done.
DR. RICHARD BESSER, ABC NEWS CHIEF HEALTH AND MEDICAL EDITOR: Yeah, I mean in public health there is this term predictable surprises, something that was totally foreseeable, but when it happens we act like how could this have happened. We're surprised by that. But events like this are preventable if you understand what the root causes are.
But as a nation, we're not taking those steps to really understand that. So we're going to see this again and again and again.
RADDATZ: Mark, I know sitting here has to be somewhat emotional for you, seeing another mass shooting, the reaction of the country, the reaction of the media, even the reaction of the president seems so different.
BARTON: It does. And I would hope that we're not reaching a place of complacency. We can't accept this as part of our culture. There is, with Sandy Hook Promise and just my own personal position, there are so many things that we can do and we'll continue to work in a holistic manner on a lot of issues to try to address this.
RADDATZ: Sandy Hook promise certainly trying to do those things?
RADDATZ: General Chiarelli, we should say that you dealt as vice chief of staff with the army with mental health issues all the time, the terrible epidemic of suicides.
One of the things I know you tried to do is try to get commanders to tell people who are having mental health issues or post-traumatic stress, to remove themselves from the weapons, from their personal weapons. And you got pushback on that?
CHIARELLI: Well, we did. But congress has fixed that by taking the language out of the bill that made it impossible for us to implement what we were trying to do.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had read a lot of the literature that indicated if you just recommended to a person who was at risk or at high risk for suicide, that you separate yourself from your personal weapon, suicide rates go down so far. And he recommended to the services that we implement that.
There was language in a National Defense Authorization Bill that didn't allow us to collect that kind of information on soldiers. Just last year, congress corrected that. But just think what would it mean if we could take that and apply that to 38,000 suicides that are committed in the country every single year?
RADDATZ: And you are still dealing with mental health issues with your organization, One Mind, that's doing a lot of research into the brain.
I'd like all of you to talk about what really has to happen here? How do you tackle this as a nation?
BESSER: The CDC back in the 1980s had a very robust program that was looking at gun violence, looking at issues of mental health. What are the drivers of gun violence.
Then, around 1990, the congress at the behest of NRA cut off that funding. And here we are, 25 years later, when we still don't have the answers of what are the best interventions to stop this problem.
You know, after Sandy Hook…
RADDATZ: And how do you even approach the problem? I mean, the diagnosis, the treatment, all of that doesn't seem very concrete.
CHIARELLI: It's not. I mean, diagnostics are horrible in this particular area. You take post traumatic stress, DSM4, which is a psychiatric manual used to go ahead and provide a diagnosis, you basically ask a person 17 questions. There are no blood vile markers, there's no x-rays, there are no other kinds of tests except you ask a person questions and based on their answers you make a determination on whether or not they have post-traumatic stress or not.
We have got to get beyond that.
BESSER: We also have to get to the point where people have access to services. As bad as the tests are, if you look at the provision of mental health services and how hard it is for people who have a problem to get in and be seen - I mean, one things about health reform is to make sure that mental health issues are treated the same way as physical problems. That's - I'm sure that that's going to be part of the solution here.
CHIARELLI: And not only do they have to get in to be seen, but then their insurance companies have to provide the coverage necessary to get them the treatment that they need. We - I ran into problems in military with certain accepted treatments for different mental health issues not being accepted by the insurance companies.
RADDATZ: And then they would go to VA and get different treatment. Mark, you were going to jump in there.
BARTON: I was just going to say, I think early intervention is a critical component to this. And now, you know, we applaud the efforts of senators Ayotte and Begich for pulling this bill out, the one from Harken Alexander mental health bill. It passed 95-2 in the Senate in April. They want to bring that out as a stand-alone bill.
And our Senator Richard Blumenthal supports that. He said this is a good place to start with a common ground where we can all kind of agree on this.
And there are a lot of things in that bill that we support as far as identifying children that are at risk, training the teachers to be able to identify them and hoping to get them the services that they need at an early stage.
CHIARELLI: And I would say Congressman Fattah is working on similar legislation that would do the same, to put these screening tools into schools so we could have early identifications of folks that have these problems.
RADDATZ: One thing, when we look at the shooter from the Navy Yard is judgment. There's just judgment that was missing in all of these people who came in contact with him.
BESSER: You know, I think, whenever one of these happen, there's this search for what's the one little thing that could have happened that could prevented this? But you have to look at it from a systems point of view, and look at the big problem of gun violence, of these mass killings, and say, what can we do to stop these?
RADDATZ: I want to thank you all for being here. Sorry to cut you short, a great conversation.
Coming up, 40 years after the "Battle of the Sexes," Billie Jean King talks to Robin Roberts, next.
RADDATZ: Time now for our "Sunday Spotlight" shining on tennis legend Billie Jean King. Forty years ago is week, she was the reigning Wimbledon champ, fighting for equal pay for female players, when former tennis pro Bobby Riggs challenged her to a "Battle of the Sexes."
"GMA" anchor Robin Roberts takes us back.
HOWARD COSELL, "ABC WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS": What a scene it is, the Houston Astrodome.
GLORIA ESTEFAN, MUSICIAN: There was no way I was going to miss this. I was so proud of Billie Jean.
COSELL: Beautiful shot by Billie Jean King.
DIANE SAWYER, ABC ANCHOR: I remember being so nervous, I had to pace. I was so scared for her and for all of us.
COSELL: The comedy has gone out of Bobby Riggs.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Billie Jean was - you could pop a quarter off of her, you know, she was - she wasn't playing with him.
ROBIN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA" (voice-over): It was a match that seemed to captivate just about all of us, Bobby Riggs, 55 years old, the proud male chauvinist.
BOBBY RIGGS, TENNIS CHAMPION: The male is king. The male is supreme.
ROBERTS: Billie Jean King, the 29-year-old crusader for women's rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a feminist thing, how important is that, Billie?
BILLIE JEAN KING, TENNIS CHAMPION: The women's movie is important to me.
ROBERTS: America's culture clash spilling on to the tennis court with an astounding 50 million viewers on edge, wondering who would come out on top.
CHRIS EVERT, TENNIS CHAMPION: I can't even remember any kind of event in any other support that brought out the emotion in people as this match did.
ROBERTS (on camera): Forty years ago, can you believe we are still talking to it.
KING: I know every time I walk out of the apartment that someone is going to ask me about the match. And they do.
ROBERTS (voice-over): But it almost didn't happen. Billie refused to play Riggs until she saw him crush Margaret Court, the top women's player at the time, in the first, less publicized, "Battle of the Sexes."
KING: I said, I'm going to play him now.
ROBERTS (on camera): So you knew at that moment.
KING: Oh, I knew at that moment, I had to play him. I thought, we are on our way, we're changing things for women, and I wanted that to continue.
ROBERTS (voice-over): But Billie, who had been fighting for equal pay for women, also worried another loss to the trash-talking Riggs could set everything back.
RIGGS: She'll serve and volley, which she does very, very well for a woman and…
ROBERTS (on camera): If you don't beat him, it's…
KING: Right. It's horrible. It would be horrible for all of us.
ROBERTS: That was a really hard place to be in, Billie.
KING: It was between a rock and a hard place, Robin.
ROBERTS: I know.
KING: Yes, it was. I felt like I was really - I just felt I had to win. I just - emotionally, I felt like it was life and death.
ROBERTS (voice-over): Still, she never let it show, starting with that grand entrance, pulled in a chariot by men from the Rice University track team.
(on camera): You were like Cleopatra. And Bobby - he is being brought in with all these well-endowed women, let's put it like that. Were you comfortable with the spectacle that it was?
KING: Yes. The promoter of the match goes, well, you're a feminist, you probably won't want to do this. And I said, are you kidding? It's show time. I love this.
ROBERTS (voice-over): But by the time the match began, Billie was all business, surging to a first set lead before Riggs stormed back.
(on camera): What were you thinking at that point?
KING: Oh, I knew I had to win the first set. I had never played three out of five sets. So I knew it was so important.
ROBERTS (voice-over): What was build as an epic battle, turned into a rout with Billie cruising, winning three straight sets.
(on camera): What did he say, when you hopped across the net, to you?
RIGGS: He said, I underestimated you. He was trying his guts out every point.
ROBERTS (voice-over): Which is why she brushed off new accusations from a man claiming he overheard Riggs agree to throw the match to pay off his gambling debt.
KING: People are upset I beat his butt.
ROBERTS (on camera): Even 40 years later?
KING: Yes, they are. If Bobby beat me, then he had $1 million winner-take-all. It was totally in his self-interest to win this match.
RIGGS: You came out on top. I have to congratulate you on that?
KING: Thank you, dear.
RIGGS: Because I was supposed to be good at that myself.
KING: I really respected him and liked him. He was one of my heroes. I stayed in touch with Bobby. The night before he passed away, I talked to him.
ROBERTS: And what did he say to you at that time?
KING: He said, you know, I understand now what you were trying to tell me. He said, we did make a difference. And I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me. And I think he was proud of himself.
ROBERTS: Look at that.
KING: It's OK.
ROBERTS (voice-over): And so many of us are proud of Billie, who is now celebrated at the tennis center named in her honor.
(on camera): Her stellar play and inner fire endeared her to the New York Crowds!
KING: She's getting riled up.
ROBERTS (voice-over): Today, thanks largely to this tennis trail-blazer and 39-time Grand Slam champion, all four majors award equal prize money for men and women.
EVERT: She's the smartest and the most - and the wisest person I've ever met in my life. Every woman tennis player, every woman athlete should thank her personally for building up a sport and confidence and power in women.
ROBERTS: A legacy in many ways made possible by that stunning triumph 40 years ago.
(on camera): What do you hope that this match did for women athletes when you think of today's players?
KING: I hope that it will encourage them to help the next generations, to make their lives better, because that's what my generation wanted for them. They are living our dream.
ROBERTS: For THIS WEEK, Robin Roberts, ABC News, New York.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Billie Jean King and Robin for that.
And now, we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week, the Pentagon released the names of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing for part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News with David Muir" tonight. And George is right back here with you next week. Have a great day.
Like "This Week" on Facebook here.
You can also follow the show on Twitter here.