Monday, July 13, 2009

AC360: Anderson interviews Obama about "don't ask don't tell", economy; covers slavery

Anderson Cooper interviewed President Barack Obama in Ghana, and the session covered important points.

They talked about the possibility of a second stimulus, and Obama said that the banks had stabilized more quickly than had been expected, even though unemployment has ratcheted up more than had been predicted (like snow).

Anderson, after briefly talking about Afghanistan and Iraq, quickly moved to “don’t ask don’t tell”, as if it were now a big national security issue.

Obama said the executive branch does not have the prerogative to simply ignore or not enforce the 1993 law passed by Congress, but that it can reinterpret the law (particularly with respect to forced outings – a risk that Keith Meinhold had pointed out in a broadcast email back in 1996 that I remember getting). Obama said that he had talked to Defense Secretary Gates about this issue, and was starting to work with Congress on how to repeal the law in a manner consistent with the specific environments that are encountered in the military (ranging from the sensitivity over Internet exposures to the “extreme cohesion” situations as shown in movies like “The Hurt Locker”).

Cooper then walked in the Cape Coast Castle, from which slaves were shipped (as on the Amistad as in the 1997 Dreamworks film of the Alex Pate book). Obama compared slavery to the Holocaust. The closest link on the AC360 blog is here.

Cooper asked if Obama noticed he was turning gray, and Obama said that he had Anderson Cooper as a role model.

The last part of the show covered slavery today in Haiti, where families sell their kids to survive. Dr. Sanjay Gupta did the report. Anderson said that there are 27 million people in slavery in the world. Children are given no affection as they are raised. Sex trade slavery has been covered in some independent films, such as “Trade” from Roadside Attractions.

The conversation continues Tuesday, with the possibility of war crimes in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Anderson discussed Michelle Obama's own slave ancestors from coastal South Carolina.

Other news came in during the broadcast, including the announcement of a fourth arrest in the disturbing case of the murder of the Billings family, which had adopted many special needs children, in the Florida Panhandle. Anderson Cooper quizzed CNN reporter Mattingly on secondary motives (Anderson re-emphasized the reported precision of the attack) and they remain a matter of troubling speculation, some of it in comments on the web. In fact, the Escambia County sheriff has been saying that this sounds like a movie script, or like future fodder for a Dateline documentary. In late 2008 and early 2009, the media reported, with little explanation, a few hit-like slayings of current and past defense or intelligence workers in the Washington DC area, and these have led to a lot of speculation on message boards and even the social networking profile of at least one victim.

There was also a brief report from Michael Ware about a soccer match in Baghdad.

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