TOPICS > Politics

Other News: New Prison for Gitmo Detainees Considered; Pilot’s Remains Found

August 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
LISTEN SEE PODCASTS

TRANSCRIPT

GWEN IFILL: In other news today, it was widely reported the Obama administration may set up a courtroom prison complex inside the U.S. for terror suspects. The Washington Post and others said it could replace the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Two sites were said to be under consideration, a prison in Michigan that’s about to close and the military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

The idea quickly ran into criticism from lawmakers, including Kansas Senator Sam Brownback.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK, R-Kan.: I’ve been to Guantanamo Bay. I led a congressional delegation there. The detainees are treated appropriately and safely there. If investigations find they are not treated appropriately and safely there, then change how they’re treated there, rather than move them to someplace in the United States as a publicity stunt.

GWEN IFILL: In another development, the Associated Press reported the cases of dozens of Guantanamo detainees could be tried in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and New York City. A White House spokesman insisted no final decisions have been made.

In Afghanistan, a Taliban bomb killed at least 11 people in the western part of the country. It happened in the city of Herat. The target was a district police chief, who was critically wounded. Thirty other people were hurt, as well.

And over the weekend, six American troops were killed in Afghanistan, along with two Canadians and a French soldier.

The long search for U.S. Navy Captain Michael “Scott” Speicher has come to an end. He was shot down at the outset of the first Gulf War, but questions lingered today about exactly when, and how, he died.

NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman has our report.

KWAME HOLMAN: The U.S. Navy announcement finally answered a question that had been asked since 1991: Was Scott Speicher alive or dead?

And today, family spokeswoman and attorney Cindy Laquidara said it ended at least part of the mystery. She spoke in a telephone interview with the NewsHour.

CINDY LAQUIDARA, Speicher family spokeswoman: It has been a mixed reaction, sorrowful at Scott’s passing. I think there’s a sense of peace. They’re now working with the Navy to find out, what happened? Where actually was he?

SCOTT SPEICHER, U.S. Navy captain: I’m Scott Speicher of the VFA-81 out here on the Saratoga.

KWAME HOLMAN: Speicher’s F-18 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile on the opening night of Operation Desert Storm on Jan. 17, 1991. But for years, the 33-year-old pilot’s remains could not be found, and he was given a headstone memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 2001, Navy officials changed his status from “killed in action” to “missing in action” and a year later to “missing captured,” shortly before the second Iraq war.

Then, early last month, an Iraqi informant told U.S. Marines that Bedouin tribesmen had buried Speicher after his jet crashed in their area. His remains ultimately were recovered in Anbar province about 100 miles west of Baghdad.

But questions about exactly how Speicher died and why it took so long to discover his body remain. A U.S. military study last year noted the pilot’s parachute never was found, and he never sent electronic distress signals.

CINDY LAQUIDARA: We need to know the condition of the remains. We need to read the interview with the man who purportedly said, oh, by the way, he’s been here all the time. But all of that information we need to have.

KWAME HOLMAN: In the meantime, Speicher’s remains have been flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where final DNA tests will be done.

GWEN IFILL: In economic news, Wall Street started the month with another rally, after upbeat news about manufacturing. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 115 points to close at 9,286. The Nasdaq rose 30 points to close at 2,008. The Standard and Poor’s Index closed above 1,000 for the first time in nine months.

Ford has reported its first U.S. sales increase in nearly two years. They were up more than 1.5 percent in July from a year ago. G.M. and Chrysler sales were down again, but not by as much.

Some of the credit went to the “cash for clunkers” program. The U.S. House has authorized $2 billion to extend it, and the Obama administration urged the Senate today to follow suit.

Bank of America will pay a $33 million penalty to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company was accused of misleading investors in its purchase of Merrill Lynch last year. Bank of America initially said Merrill would not pay year-end bonuses before the deal closed. But, the SEC said, Bank of America had already approved up to $5.8 billion in bonus payments.