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JIM LEHRER: Good evening. In the headlines this Monday, Nicaraguan President Ortega accused the United States of state terrorism. The U.S. said Ortega's problems are of his own making. Israeli Prime Minister Peres said he was ready to go to Jordan and talk peace, and a U.S. official worked to patch up things with both Egypt and Italy. We'll have the details in a moment. Robin?
ROBERT MacNEIL: In our focus sections tonight we interview Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and two U.S. congressmen debate the latest U.S. response. We have a documentary report on the Sanctuary movement to shelter refugees from Central America. We discuss what the government is and isn't doing to facilitate organ transplants, and we profile a football coach unlike any other. News Summary
MacNEIL: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega challenged the Reagan administration to halt what he called its aggression and genocide against his country. Speaking at the United Nations the Sandinista leader denied that Nicaragua is an enemy of the United States, and he blamed the U.S. for forcing him to suspend civil rights in Nicaragua last week.
DANIEL ORTEGA, President of Nicaragua [through interpreter]: The policy of state terrorism being practiced by the rulers of the United States will never bring Nicaragua to its knees. The strategy of terror cannot lead to peace and coexistence among nations. We, for our part, will suspend the state of emergency we have been forced to impose due to these acts of aggression as of the very moment when those aggressions effectively cease.
MacNEIL: The Nicaraguan president called on President Reagan to reply to his charges on Thursday when Reagan will make his adress to the U.N. General Assembly. Ortega's charges were dismissed this afternoon by State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb. He said Nicaragua should look within its own borders for the source of its opposition.
BERNARD KALB, State Department spokesman: We do not believe that the Sandinistas are capable of defeating the armed opposition which draws its strength from growing opposition throughout Nicaragua to the Sandinista regime, and the reasons for the suspension of civil liberties are clear. It reflects the Sandinistas' fear of their own people, and it's the result of growing disillusionment with the Sandinista regime by large sectors of the population.
LEHRER: It was fence-mending time in Egypt today. Deputy U.S. Secretary of State John Whitehead delivered a letter from President Reagan to President Mubarak. The delivery took place in Cairo, and Whitehead said the meeting was aimed at putting differences over the cruise ship hijacking behind them. President Mubarak told reporters before he met with the American envoy that Egyptians are still very upset.
HOSNI MUBARAK, President of Egypt: Of course for the public opinion, to persuade him to slow down it will need some time, and needs big efforts from the United States and efforts from our side because we are hurt, all of us. I'm an Egyptian; I could feel everybody in the street. I could feel what are the feeling of every Egyptian concerning this point. In this way I'm trying to cure the situation, so the United States have to do so much more effort because a wound needs to heal.
LEHRER: Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres was at the United Nations talking peace in the Middle East today. He told the U.N. General Assembly he was ready to go to Jordan to participate in a peace conference that included Palestinians. He said the state of war between Israel and Jordan should end.
SHIMON PERES, Prime Minister of Israel: I hereby proclaim the state of war between Israel and Jordan should be terminated immediately. Israel declares this readily in the hope that King Hussein is willing to reciprocate this step. I call upon the Palestinian people to put an end to rejectionism, to belligerency. Let us talk. Come forth and recognize the reality of the state of Israel, our wish to live in peace, and our need for security. Let us face each other as free men and women across the negotiation table.
MacNEIL: In Italy, Bettino Craxi, whose government collapsed last week over its handling of the Achille Lauro affair, today began building a new coalition government. Craxi was selected by Italian President Francesco Cossiga to form Italy's 45th postwar government. He will probably try to persuade all of his former coalition partners to join his Socialist Party in the new government. On Saturday, U.S. special envoy John Whitehead met with Craxi to try and ease the strained relations between those two nations. The United States strongly criticized the Craxi government for releasing Mohammed Abbas, the alleged mastermind of the Achille Lauro hijacking. Whitehead gave Craxi a letter from President Reagan praising Italy's fight against terrorism.
In Manila, police fired on more than 3,000 people marching in protest against the government of President Ferdinand Marcos. Two people were killed, and more than 25 others injured. The violence erupted as protestors left a rally in front of the U.S. Embassy and marched towards a downtown plaza. Witnesses said the police began shooting as the demonstrators, mostly from farm groups, pelted them with stones. Protest organizers and the police blamed each other for starting the violence, the worst since September, 1983.
And in Soweto, the sprawling black township outside Johannesburg, rival black groups battled each other with spears, firebombs and guns. There were unconfirmed reports that three people were burned to death. South African police fired tear gas to disperse the fighters, but with little success. And, near Capetown, two more blacks were killed as black youths rampaged through a predominately Moslim area.
Commonwealth leaders meeting in the Bahamas have adopted a compromise policy towards South Africa. The leaders of Great Britain and 48 nations that were once British colonies set a six-month deadline for South Africa to begin dismantling its apartheid system or face punitive action. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher argued strongly against immediate, mandatory sanctions against the white minority government. We have a report from the BBC's John Simpson.
JOHN SIMPSON, BBC [voice-over]: As they broke up last night with the deal concluded, some of the leaders talked about the Commonwealth magic working; others privately thought it was a botch-up, designed to meet Mrs. Thatcher's requirements by leaving out the word "sanctions" altogether while providing a minimum of real action against South Africa. Still, the leaders of a quarter of the world's population have spoken with one voice, however muted, and if the outcome wasn't quite all things to all men, it meant a great deal to one woman.
MARGARET THATCHER, Prime Minister of Great Britain: Just look at what we were faced with. Full mandatory economic sanctions, a ban on all imports, a ban on all exports. I do beg of you just to have a look at what has been agreed. And the Commonwealth is right. They are psychological signals, but important ones to the Commonwealth.
KENNETH KAUNDA, President of Zambia: This is not a U-turn, but it is an important conceptual change, for which we thank Mrs. Thatcher and our colleagues.
SIMPSON [voice-over]: One of the prime workers for the deal was the Indian prime minister, a strong advocate of mandatory sanctions, who yet accepted the need for a compromise.
RAJIV GHANDI, Prime Minister of India: In our consensus, which is what we always have in the Commonwealth, we have come up with a packet that will -- that is in fact the most effective packet the Commonwealth could have come up with and has ever come up with.
MacNEIL: In this country, Dan White, convicted of killing former San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978, committed suicide today. Police said White was apparently the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning at his San Francisco home. White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, not murder, in the twin slayings. White argued that his fondness for junk food made him abnormally depressed. He was paroled last January, despite widespread public protest.
LEHRER: And finally in the news of this day, two business and industry items. Union officials said the tentative settlement of the Chrysler strike in Canada may lead to something similar in this country. The Canadian settlement put Chrysler workers at pay and benefit parity with those at Ford and General Motors. The United Auto Workers strike against Chrysler here is six days old and involves 70,000 employees. And the senior executives of Macy's announced plans to buy the department store chain. The sale would be a $3.5-billion deal called a leveraged buyout, meaning the assets of the company will be used to raise that purchase amount.
MacNEIL: That's our news summary. Coming up on the NewsHour, our Lurie cartoon, an interview with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and two congressmen who view U.S. policy differently. We have a documentary report on the Sanctuary movement, a discussion on organ transplant policy, and a profile of the most unusual football coach.
LEHRER: Now again the newest addition to the NewsHour, the Lurie cartoon of the day, drawn especially for us by international cartoonist Ranon Lurie, on a magic machine called an electric paintbox.[Lurie Cartoon Peres and Hussein sit hatching the egg of peace (Made in USA) while the PLO sneaks in and plants a bomb on the egg] Blasting U.S. Policy
MacNEIL: Last week the Sandinista government of Nicaragua renewed a state of emergency and suspended a whole range of civil liberties. Claiming that pressure from the U.S.-backed rebels, or contras, made it a necessity, the Sandinistas tightened control over the Roman Catholic church, unions and the press, freedom of assembly, privacy in the home and in the mails. At the United Nations today, President Daniel Ortega said they would lift the emergency if the United States stopped what he called its aggression. This afternoon I spoke with the Sandinista leader at his hotel in New York.
Mr. President, by suspending civil liberties in Nicaragua under a renewed state of emergency last week, many Americans who are opposed to the administration's policy say you are now becoming what Mr. Reagan says you're, a totalitarian regime. What is your comment on that?
DANIEL ORTEGA [through interpreter]: We are acting, actually, within the law, as any state must. Constitutions provide for the taking of extraordinary measures in the face of extraordinary situations. And these extraordinary provisions are there to be invoked when the moment requires them, and when that extraordinary moment ceases, that is, when the aggression ends, these measures will be lifted. And that's a decision that must come from the U.S. in part.
MacNEIL: As you said in your speech today.
Pres. ORTEGA [through interpreter]: That's right. That's the point.
MacNEIL: If the U.S. ceased any activity against you, ceased putting any pressure on you, what would you do besides ending the state of emergency?
Pres. ORTEGA [through interpreter]: Well, we would be in an even better position to continue to develop into our democratic process, only now in the framework of normal conditions and for the purpose of development.
MacNEIL: Why is it necessary in the present situation, for example -- these would be the kinds of things that friends of Nicaragua might ask -- why is it necessary to suspend the privacy of personal communications?
Pres. ORTEGA [through interpreter]: Well, the emergency measures do provide for a lot of specific situations, but that doesn't mean that every one of those situations and provisions are going to be applied automatically. What it does is give our government the faculty to do so if it considers it necessary. This is not a state of siege, Robin, and it's not martial law. People can go around whenever they want to, and they have no restrictions to move about anywhere, and the political parties continue on their different activities.
MacNEIL: You said in an interview over the weekend that you are about to defeat the contras, that a military defeat of the contras is very near. How do you explain that?
Pres. ORTEGA [through interpreter]: The mercenary forces have been dealt a very serious blow. Those mercenaries that were within our country operating, we've managed to push them back over our border and back into Honduras. Now they are regrouping on the other side of our border in Honduras to launch a new strike. And this offensive would be complemented by terrorist strikes within our cities. But the border is being sealed off and we're not going to let them penetrate. So if they can't penetrate into Nicaragua, then the contras are no longer a problem for Nicaragua, but they're a problem for Honduras. And whatever pockets may be left into the country are rapidly being neutralized.
MacNEIL: And your confidence is not shaken by the new supplies that the contras have already begun receiving with the new American aid?
Pres. ORTEGA [through interpreter]: It could be $27 or $1,000 million; that doesn't concern us. They can send in arms in whatever quantities because what has been seriously dealt with is the morale of the contras, and no matter how much money and guns you give to a force, without morale, it can't fight. And that's why we think we're about to achieve a major strategic victory over the contras.
MacNEIL: How much time do you think it will take?
Pres. ORTEGA [through interpreter]: Just a few more months.
MacNEIL: Let's talk finally about the public relations aspect of your regime outside Nicaragua, particularly the United States. One columnist, Tom Wicker, of The New York Times, says today, "The Sandinistas are their own worst enemy."
Pres. ORTEGA [through interpreter]: Well, actually maybe we have something to learn with regard to public relations, but what we want to do above all is to be frank and direct, and be clear especially. We don't want to be pulling media tricks or fooling people.
MacNEIL: And what about the other gesture of reimposing the state of emergency a week before you come to the United Nations, make the first speech in the 40th anniversary week of the United Nations, and therefore attract great publicity for your actions?
Pres. ORTEGA [through interpreter]: Again that measure is decided in terms of an analysis that we made at home, that if we didn't do it now we were only going to give more opportunities to the CIA and others to act upon and act against us through the contras, which were about to get a major defeat. Now, what would have been the case if it had been [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] opposite? I come here, speak to the U.S. press, then go back and impose a state of emergency. You would have said we had tricked you all. U.S. Reactions
LEHRER: Listening with us to the words of Daniel Ortega were two U.S. congressmen who usually see Nicaragua events and issues very differently. They are Henry Hyde, Republican of Illinois, a member of the House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, and George Miller, Democrat of California, chairman of the Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus Task Force on Central America.
Congressman Hyde, what do you make of President Ortega's explanation as to why he imposed the state of emergency?
Rep. HENRY HYDE: Well, he has a gift for ineptitude. It is of a piece of his trip to Moscow; within three days after Congress graciously voted no aid to the contras, he couldn't wait to go off to Moscow. Now, when he says the contras are on the run, he wipes out civil liberties in his country. The truth is he's trying to make a Central American Poland. He's attacking labor and he's attacking the church down there, and it is very serious, but The New York Times said he has handed the contras another big victory. The Washington Post referred to the totalitarian core of the Sandinistas. I think it is very dumb. I think it will prove to the world, to those few people who haven't learned yet that it is a police state, and he cannot stand independent voices within his country.
LEHRER: Congressman Miller, do you see it as a dumb thing?
Rep. GEORGE MILLER: Well, it deeply concerns me. Obviously I'm very concerned when you suspend the rights to habeus corpus and the rights to search warrants before you enter an individual's house and freedoms on various aspects of speech. But clearly it makes little or no difference to the Reagan administration what Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas do or do not do with respect to civil liberties in their country. When they relaxed them, they got a pursuit of arms and supplies for the contras. When they've made efforts to try to join the Contadora, that was rebuffed by the Reagan administration. So there really is no hurdle which the Sandinistas can jump that would change Ronald Reagan's mind about achieving a military victory, nor would it change the mind of the contras who we are supporting who are there to overthrow and run the Sandinistas out of office. If this was as bad as Poland, then I assume the administration would support it, because we're still underwriting the loans to the people in Poland. So apparently it's not just a question of the human rights aspect which is a criteria for this administration's support of a country or to withdraw that support.
Rep. HYDE: With all due respect, the Sandinista government refuses to do one essential thing, and that is negotiate with its own internal resistance, people who are democrats, people who are non-communist political figures, business figures, who are leading the resistance.
Rep. MILLER: Henry --
Rep. HYDE: The Sandinistas won't talk to them.
Rep. MILLER: Those people have been allowed to negotiate. Those people have been allowed to run for public office. The fact of the matter is this administration took most of the good people who could have given the Sandinistas a run for their money -- took them out of the country so they could use them for public relations purpose to put a nice face on the contras. And we now see those very same people saying perhaps they were duped. [crosstalk] Once the $27 million was given by Congress, we're finding out that the former Somoza people are again coming to the forefront, running the contra operation that is killing thousands and thousands of Nicaraguan peasants. That is what actually is happening in the country.
Rep. HYDE: Is Arturo Cruz a Somocista? Is Adolfo Colero a Somocista?
Rep. MILLER: Arturo Cruz has recently just said that he has a great deal of trouble with the direction the contras are taking.
LEHRER: The two gentlemen you just named, of course, are leaders of the contras. What about the point that Ortega made today, Congressman Hyde, that he had to impose the state of emergency because of what the United States is doing in supporting the contras, who, U.S. Congressman Miller says, are trying to overthrow the Sandinista government?
Rep. HYDE: Well, you can't have it both waqys. He has just said, and he has made statements to the press, that the contras are on the run; they've driven them out of the country and it doesn't matter what aid they get, they're going to be defeated. Now, if that's so, why does he impose this stringent dissolution of elementary, fundamental civil rights on the people? Why do they confiscate the Church's newspaper? Why do they occupy the social service office of the Church? Why are they drafting seminarians into the military? Why do they refuse -- why have they taken the home of the widow of Joaquin Chamorro -- who was the publisher of La Prensa killed by Somoza's people. They've taken her home away. Now, why are they doing those things? They can't stand freedom. Everybody -- the AFL-CIO --
Rep. MILLER: Henry, look. If the headlines in La Prensa on a daily basis were run against a member of Congress in the United States you'd sue for libel, because they so openly criticize the direction of the Sandinista government, and what is taking place --
Rep. HYDE: Oh, and you dare not do that in a police state.
Rep. MILLER: But in fact it goes on on a daily basis in Nicaragua in the opposition press. I don't see any opposition press in El Salvador, where you're so quick to run to defend the government.
Rep. HYDE: George --
Rep. MILLER: There is no opposition press. So let's look at your standard. The fact of the matter is, what is happening in Nicaragua? We have put together an invasion force of some 10,000 people heavily armed and equipped for the purposes of overthrowing this government. This government has a right to take those actions that it deems necessary. I happen to disagree with them, but it has a right to take those actions to protect itself. Thisis an invasion --
Rep. HYDE: George, why do you defend a Marxist-Leninist --
Rep. MILLER: Just a minute.
Rep. HYDE: -- state?
Rep. MILLER: That's your characterization. That's your characterization.
Rep. HYDE: Do you doubt that? Do you doubt that?
Rep. MILLER: Yes, I do. That's your characterization.
Rep. HYDE: Well, the AFL-CIO, which is no arm --
Rep. MILLER: The AFL-CIO. Let's not pretend that they're defining terms for us now, Henry. Come on. Let's be on the level here.
Rep. HYDE: -- they're not an arm of the Reagan administration, are they?
Rep. MILLER: No, but they're up to their rear ends in government money to participate in the activities of the Reagan administration in Latin America. You voted for the money to give it to them.
Rep. HYDE: Then the church is wrong, labor is wrong, everybody is wrong but George Miller and Daniel Ortega.
Rep. MILLER: That's not the issue. That's not the issue. The issue is, what are the facts? Thousands of Nicaraguans are dying and they're not dying at the hands of the Sandinista government. They're dying at the hands of the contras --
Rep. HYDE: Ortega doesn't say that.
Rep. MILLER: -- which we are financing. He lives with it on a daily basis.
Rep. HYDE: He just said they're in Honduras. They've been driven out of his country. Is he a liar?
Rep. MILLER: Henry, you go to Managua, you'll see the body bags. You'll see exactly what's going on.
Rep. HYDE: I've been there. I've been there and I've talked to the editor of La Prensa, and it isn't a free paper.
Rep. MILLER: Then we must be wasting $27 million bucks.
LEHRER: What about this question --
Rep. HYDE: It's censored every day.
LEHRER: What about this question of whether or not the contras are on the run? What is your information about that, Congressman Miller? Did the Sandinistas beat them?
Rep. MILLER: I don't think that the contras will ever overthrow the Sandinistas, but I wouldn't suggest that the contras are on the run. If they are, we ought to get the money back because we're wasting $27 million in boots and camouflage uniforms. But no, I don't think they are. There's a lot of evidence the bodies are still coming back, peasants are still being killed, raped, kidnapped at the hands of the contras with the support of the United States. They are our agents. And whether we like it or not, that's what they're doing.
Rep. HYDE: It's incredible.
Rep. MILLER: They're not.
LEHRER: You're saying they're not doing that?
Rep. HYDE: I say that's incredible. What about the 10,000 political prisoners that the Sandinistas have in jail --
Rep. MILLER: Henry. Henry. Henry.
Rep. HYDE: -- that are incommunicado? What about the torture and the rape that the Sandinistas --
Rep. MILLER: Are you talking about El Salvador or Nicaragua or which, because this administration --
Rep. HYDE: No, I'm talking about --
Rep. MILLER: -- can't keep the policy straight.
Rep. HYDE: -- about a defector named Elvira Jose Baldazon --
Rep. MILLER: Who so far has refused to talk to anybody outside of the walls of the State Department, will not allow an independent interview --
Rep. HYDE: Well, he was up on the Hill and a hearing was held before a committee chaired by one of your men, Gus Yatron. You didn't bother to come, but he detailed -- isn't he not one of your friends? He's a Democrat. He's chairman of the Human Rights Subcommittee. And he related the torture, he related the rapes --
Rep. MILLER: Henry, Henry. If that is -- if you're suggesting -- if you're suggesting that the human rights policy --
Rep. HYDE: -- and if you're denying it, you're just not there.
Rep. MILLER: If you're suggesting that the human rights policy is the basis for support of this administration, then you're quite wrong, because this administration was supporting the government in El Salvador when it was slaughtering its citizens. It's continued to support Pinochet --
Rep. HYDE: Now let's talk about Nicaragua.
Rep. MILLER: No, I'm just saying let's not put a double standard of one person who says this and --
Rep. HYDE: You want to talk about Pinochet, now let's talk about Afghanistan.
LEHRER: I'll tell you what --
Rep. HYDE: I'm suggesting -- I'm suggesting that it's a Marxist-Leninist police state and it's very --
Rep. MILLER: The fact is, what Daniel Ortega did today many of us predicted many months ago would be the exact results of mining the harbors, of the contras and the failure of the Reagan administration to have the creativity to negotiate and to work out a solution to this problem and seek a military solution.
Rep. HYDE: It's not an American problem. It's an internal problem --
Rep. MILLER: Then why are we there?
Rep. HYDE: -- with the Nicaraguan people.
LEHRER: Is it your position that there is no connection between the U.S. support for the contras and what Daniel Ortega has done?
Rep. HYDE: Oh, I think the contras have Mr. Ortega very worried. I think he's scared to death of the Church down there, Cardinal Obando y Bravo, who he's now taken away his newspaper, and they've raided his radio station --
Rep. MILLER: -- held public rallies with thousands and thousands --
Rep. HYDE: Oh, is it all right for a cardinal to address his flock down there? Is that forbidden?
Rep. MILLER: Right, right, right, but this -- your suggestion is, you know, first of all, it hasn't even gone into effect yet. We don't know what the ramifications --
Rep. HYDE: Oh, you're uninformed. They have taken over their newspaper, their press; they've occupied the Catholic social service office --
Rep. MILLER: And the Boy Scouts of America are down there at the behest of the United States federal government killing citizens. Is that what you're trying to tell us? Those are not the Boy Scouts.
Rep. HYDE: Well, no. They're not Boy Scouts. No.
Rep. MILLER: Those are very, very good killers and terrorists that we're paying.
Rep. HYDE: No, they're not ultraliberal congressmen who see nothing wrong with a Marxist-Leninist state in Central America.
LEHRER: A nal agenda item, gentlemen. Ortega said today that if the United States would back off supporting the contras, he would lift the state of emergency. Is that a deal we should accept, Congressman Miller?
Rep. MILLER: Well, it would certainly take away all of his pretext. And then we could find out if Henry's notion that the end result of this story is a Marxist-Leninist state, because obviously if that threat is renewed -- let's remember something. Mr. Ortega is not under threat, no matter what the administration says, from their own people. The economic disenchantment, our people in the embassy told me just a matter of months ago, is not being translated to hatred for the Sandinistas. We're going around rallying people, paying people, but you also must understand that most of the Sandinista people are armed. They've been armed there by the government. I mean, if this is a government that's under such threat --
Rep. HYDE: And that's why their civil liberties were taken away --
Rep. MILLER: -- you know, it's just not the case.
Rep. HYDE: -- by Mr. Ortega.
Rep. MILLER: That's not accurate, Henry. That's just simply not accurate.
Rep. HYDE: He doesn't trust his own people. That's why he's fighting the Church --
Rep. MILLER: Henry, really the trust that's here is the Reagan administration fails to trust the Contadoras or anybody else. They think they know best --
Rep. HYDE: It is not an American problem.
Rep. MILLER: All they've done is get people killed.
Rep. HYDE: It's an internal Nicaraguan problem.
Rep. MILLER: Then why don't we get out of the country if it's not an American problem?
Rep. HYDE: We're not in the country.
Rep. MILLER: Oh, our agents are there. Come on.
Rep. HYDE: Fifteen thousand Nicaraguans.
Rep. MILLER: They just showed up? Henry, you've read the CIA les. You know exactly how this war got started. These people didn't show up on Easter morning.
LEHRER: I take it, Congressman Hyde, you think that's a lousy idea, for the United States to back off and see whether or not Ortega and the Sandinistas would do --
Rep. HYDE: George represents a point of view -- George represents a point of view where you help freedom fighters if they're in Afghanistan or if they're in Cambodia. The farther away they are from America in direct proportion --
Rep. MILLER: Don't characterize my point of view. First of all, that's not accurate.
Rep. HYDE: -- we give them money. But if they're in our front yard, why, we understand them. We treat them with compassion. And when they erase everybody's civil liberties, we get on their side.
Rep. MILLER: Henry, these aren't freedom fighters. These aren't --
Rep. HYDE: They are freedom fighters.
Rep. MILLER: We went around and recruited them with the Argentina -- with the best terrorists in Argentina to bring them in, to train them.
Rep. HYDE: Read a book. Read Shirley Christian's new book called Nicaragua, which is a brand new -- she's a New York Times reporter --
Rep. MILLER: I know it well. I know it well.
Rep. HYDE: Read it, and you'll find everything you've said is rebutted in here. Is she wrong and you're right?
Rep. MILLER: She's very wrong. She's very, very wrong.
Rep. HYDE: She won a Pulitzer Prize and she spent five years down there. You make a couple of trips down there, listen to Ortega and he sells you a bill of goods.
Rep. MILLER: Henry, Henry. You know, you just can't address what is taking place. You can't address that Ronald Reagan made a finding in 1981, and in 1982 we started invading this country, we started blowing up their oil refineries --
Rep. HYDE: Oh, if we invaded the country it would have been over back then.
Rep. MILLER: Henry, it's all in the files. It's completely accurate. This administration set out on a military solution, to overthrow this government --
Rep. HYDE: No, no, no, no. You're wrong.
Rep. MILLER: -- ve years ago. And that's what Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas have been living with --
Rep. HYDE: All they had to do was run an honest election and live up to the promises they made to the Organization of American States that defrauded a lot of people who want -- I voted for $75 million for the Sandinistas.
Rep. MILLER: That wasn't the test. I know you did. I know you did.
Rep. HYDE: I was deceived. I was deceived.
Rep. MILLER: That wasn't the test for Ronald Reagan.
Rep. HYDE: They're fraudulent, they're communists, they're revolutionaries, they're a surrogate of a Soviet surrogate, of Cuba. What are Bulgarians? What are North Koreans? What are PLO doing in Nicaragua? Can you tell me?
Rep. MILLER: What are American mercenaries doing in Nicaragua, Henry?
Rep. HYDE: They're fighting for their own country. They live there. They were born there.
Rep. MILLER: Oh, Henry. Please stop. Stop.
Rep. HYDE: Well, it's the truth.
LEHRER: Speaking of stopping, that's what we're going to do now.
Rep. HYDE: Can't we go on?
LEHRER: Well, you can go on somewhere else, but we're going to go on to something else. Thank you both very much.
Rep. HYDE: Thank you.
LEHRER: Robin? Sanctuary Trial
MacNEIL: We have a related story tonight, showing how the political and economic problems of Central America have spilled over into this country and its legal system. Central American refugees, or illegal immigrants, have been flooding into the United States. Many are from Guatemala and El Salvador, whose governments are allies of Washington. Often the refugees are aided by the so-called Sanctuary movement, a loosely organized group whose members are willing to risk breaking federal laws for religious reasons. Tomorrow in Tucson, Arizona, a trial begins for 12 Sanctuary members arrested last January. The case is being called the most serious clash between church and state since the Vietnam war. Peggy Giddings of public station KUAT-Tucson, has our report.
PEGGY GIDDINGS [voice-over]: In the spring of 1982, Southside United Presbyterian Church in Tucson became one of the first churches to publicly admit that it would test U.S. immigration policy by providing sanctuary for Central Americans. Reverend John Fife has been preaching at Southside Presbyterian Church for 15 years. Behind the altar from which he delivers the sermon on Sundays is a small room where photographers are forbidden. It is in this room that many Salavadorans and Guatemalans have lived during the past 3 years until Sanctuary workers have been able to help them find another home. Last January Fife and 15 other church workers were indicted on federal charges of smuggling illegal aliens who the government contends are here for economic rather than political reasons.
DONALD RENO, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney: The defendants in this case induced, encouraged or smuggled, as is commonly used, illegal aliens in the United States, transported them, harbored them, and those are the essential elements of the case.
GIDDINGS [voice-over]: The defendants freely admit what they do.
Rev. JOHN FIFE, Sanctuary defendant: People know about this ministry. They know about Sanctuary. And so we have refugees just brought to us by caring people in this community who know where to go. On the other hand, we have to, in many instances, bring people ourselves from the border to the sanctuary of the church, and that's been very difficult. A lot of very good people in this community have taken great risks over the last four years to protect the lives of refugees.
GIDDINGS [voice-over]: Since the defendants were arraigned, charges have been dropped against two Phoenix nuns for health reasons. Three other defendants have pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and the original charges against them dropped. Fife and the other 10 remaining defendants, however, have turned down the offer by the prosecution to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and receive probation instead of facing the five-year prison sentence the government says it will seek.
Rev. FIFE: The whole point of the offer the government made to us is to just get us to acknowlege that we were doing something illegal. And then everyone who tries to assist refugees from that point on will be in jeopardy of the same process that we're going through now, being charged as criminals and all the rest. And so we just cannot do that. I cannotdo that.
GIDDINGS: While the work of the Sanctuary movement went on openly at this and other churches, paid government informants joined as volunteers. They provided the evidence the government used to build its case against the defendants. There were 91 tapes of phone calls and of conversations between Sanctuary workers and infiltrators who were wired with hidden transmitters. But at a pretrial hearing last week the prosecution unexpectedly announced that it did not plan to use any of the 21 tapes that Reno had been saying for months he planned to introduce as evidence.
Mr. RENO: We can only say that it's a prosecutor's discretion as to what evidence he or she may feel is necessary in order to meet their burden of proof, and I've made my decision and I will stand by it.
Rev. FIFE: The government has our case on tapes. On all the tapes they have us talking about refugees, about their torture, about all of the death squads and the massacres in El Salvador and Guatemala. He's got that all on tape. That was our case. And when it comes right down to it, Mr. Reno doesn't want to use that material which describes refugees and horrors of Central America in some detail.
GIDDINGS [voice-over]: The tapes take on increasing importance because the judge in the case has ruled that the defendants will not be able to talk about their religion nor their charitable motives. The judge has also said that the defendants will not be able to claim that the aliens they have helped are refugees to be protected under the Refugee Act of 1980. The defendants will also not be able to talk about conditions in Central America.
Rev. FIFE: Evidence that we're able to present is so limited now, so it's going to be very difficult. But even with that degree of difficulty, most observers tell me, and I think that it's an accurate observation, that it's going to be a toss-up, that what we have is a real tough job ahead of us, but so does the government. Transplant Troubles?
LEHRER: First the federal effort to help those in desperate need for organ transplants, one year later. Judy Woodruff has the story. Judy?
JUDY WOODRUFF: It was one year ago this week that President Reagan signed a bill to ease the shortage of organs for transplant operations. Today some critics used the anniversary to hold a news conference to blast the Reagan administration for failing to follow through by setting up a national network to match transplant candidates with donor organs. The network is one of several provisions in that bill designed both to increase the supply of available organs and ensure they quickly get to where they're needed most. One man who was at today's news conference to plead for the network was Charles Fisk, father of Jamie Fisk, who received a liver transplant three years ago, but only after her parents made a national appeal through the news media for help.
CHARLES FISK, father of organ recipient: I come here again not because Jamie's doing poorly but she's doing well. But I come here because many other families that have called us repeatedly asking for help. It's kind of unfortunate that three years later families are still having to turn to the media and also to politicians for help. The last thing a family needs to do is come to their politician or come to the media for help. That nationalized system needs to go into effect immediately so that those families that are waiting will know that all the best possible mechanisms are in place -- to have hope.
WOODRUFF: Leading today's news conference was Democratic Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee, who was one of the authors of the transplant legislation. He is with us tonight. And we also asked the Reagan administration to send a representative to answer the senator's criticisms, but our invitation was declined. Senator, you made a pretty serious charge today. You said that lives are being lost because politicians at the White House are dragging their feet.
Sen. ALBERT GORE: Yes, the recommendations have been made by the Public Health Service and the scientists and doctors who know what needs to be done, and yet the White House is blocking action. They have failed to implement this legislation which passed the Congress 396-6 last year and 100-0 zero in the Senate. And yet, because they disagree with it, they're refusing to implement it.
WOODRUFF: Now, just how serious a problem are we talking about? How many lives are being lost because they're not doing what you say they ought to be doing?
Sen. GORE: Well, the limit on organ transplants is essentially set by the shortage of organs available for transplant. There are about 20,000 brain deaths each year, and only 2,000 result in organ donations, even though opinion polls repeatedly show that 70 to 80 percent would donate if they were asked correctly. This new law is designed to increase the number of organs available for donation, but it has to be implemented. And we believe we could triple the rate of organ donation, and that's an extra four or five thousand transplants each year.
WOODRUFF: But you say it's not because people are reluctant to donate, is that right?
Sen. GORE: Well, public opinion polls show that most people would be willing to donate. The problem is that too many of them are not asked. It's a very difficult human problem for doctors and nurses to shift emotional gears after losing a patient and then immediately bring up to the family the benefits of organ donation. It's very understandable. But pilot projects have shown that educational and training programs to tell doctors and nurses and other professionals how to go about it in a sensitive way can greatly increase the number of people who are willing to donate organs. And those families who do report that they're very happy that they did. So it's something that's worthwhile and can save lives.
WOODRUFF: Now, what organs exactly are we speaking about?
Sen. GORE: We're talking here about what some people refer to as "beating heart" organs. They're the ones that can only come, essentially, from brain-dead patients. We're talking about hearts for transplant, lungs or heart-lung combinations, livers, kidneys; pancreas transplants are just beginning, and so forth. Those are the main ones.
WOODRUFF: And, briefly, how would the system work? I mean, how would it work if the law were fully implemented and we had the network?
Sen. GORE: Number one, we would have a national computerized network matching up the possible donors with all of those recipients and setting priorities according to medical criteria. Secondly, we would have a system of grants to the 110 separate organ procurement networks around the country to tie them together into a national system and to have them as a prerequisite to conduct educational and training programs, carefully designed, in all of the hospitals and medical communities in the entire country. This is based on studies and pilot projects that we know work. It would do other things. It would outlaw the buying and selling of organs. They've recently -- the administration's recently refused to prosecute two cases under that portion of the law.
WOODRUFF: How much money are we talking about?
Sen. GORE: We're talking about a few million dollars. We're talking about $3 million for the grant program, $2 million for the network, and we're talking about compensating savings because when people have kidney transplants, then they're taken off dialysis, which costs $25,000 per year per patient -- all of that is now paid for by the federal government.
WOODRUFF: Why do you think the administration doesn't -- you obviously have a theory about this, but why aren't they going through and implementing the law that they wanted signed into law?
Sen. GORE: Well, they didn't want it signed into law.
WOODRUFF: But they went along with it?
Sen. GORE: They did. They fought it every single step of the way and then, at the very last minute, soon in advance of the election, the President did accept some advice to sign the law. But those in the administration who fought it every step of the way are still ideologically opposed to it. They think it's a bad idea. They don't want the government to assume any kind of new responsibility, even in an area like this, and so they're fighting it still, even though it's been signed into law and passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress.
WOODRUFF: But aren't they also worried about the ultimate costs down the line, that once the government starts getting into the business of setting up a system, that ultimately the government may have to pay for these very, very expensive operations?
Sen. GORE: Well, if they do worry about that, then they're misguided, because private insurance companies are way ahead of the government in this respect. These transplant procedures should be treated like other life-saving procedures. In the case of heart transplants, the administration continues to assert essentially a sham opinion that they are experimental, even though they have an 80 success rate. They'll spend $100,000 for a purely experimental cancer therapy that has virtually no chance of success and refuse the same amount for a procedure that has an 80 chance of saving the patient's life. And they assert that it's experimental. And it's just not correct, and it's not candid.
WOODRUFF: All right. until this network is set up as you say it ought to be, what's the situation now? I mean, how are transplant arrangements worked out if there's no national network?
Sen. GORE: Well, first of all let me say that heart transplants are the only transplants that are now pending a decision on coverage. This law would not require government payment for all transplants. It just makes the system more efficient. In the meantime, before the law is implemented, we have an inefficient system, and many families are put in a position where they feel like they have to get national publicity in order to get enough attention to get their child on the transplant list. By failing to implement the law the administration has created a vacuum into which desperate families are thrust seeking national publicity, into which new profit-making schemes to buy and sell organs are generated, new state and local laws; and what needs to be done is we need to have implementation of the consensus law that was designed after input from all of the experts and supported overwhelmingly in the Congress.
WOODRUFF: What do you think the administration should do exactly? I mean, are you going to take some action now to force them to do what you think they should do?
Sen. GORE: Well, I'm doing my best. I passed an amendment on the floor of the Senate today with respect to the grant program to force the expenditure of that grant money, which again will have offsetting savings. I've called on the administration to let by December 15th the contract for the nationwide computer matching system. I've called on them to fill the vacancy in the Office of Transplantation, which they refused to fill. And I've called upon them to enforce the law against buying and selling organs, which they've refused to do.
WOODRUFF: Any response from them yet?
Sen. GORE: No response at all. And it's very frustrating, I must say. If you have a law that is passed by the Congress, the President takes an oath to faithfully execute the laws. If he and his administration simply abdicate that responsibility and fail to implement it, then our options are somewhat limited. We can pass laws forcing them to do their duty; it would be much better if they would simply do what the law requires them to do.
WOODRUFF: Senator Albert Gore, we thank you for being with us.
Sen. GORE: Thank you for having me. A Will to Win
MacNEIL: Next tonight we have a profile. Spencer Michels of public station KQED-San Francisco introduces us to the man who is probably the most unusual football coach in the nation. Spencer reports from Los Gatos, California, 50 miles southwest of San Francisco.
SPENCER MICHELS [voice-over]: Last year the Los Gatos Wildcats were ranked as the best AAA high school football team in northern California, and their will to win was personified by head coach Charlie Wedemeyer. Nine years ago, Wedemeyer was diagnosed as suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS, an incurable illness that attacks nerve cells, causing muscle tissue to atrophy, rendering its victims immobile. In 1979, Wedemeyer's doctor told him he had one year to live.
TED SIMONSON, Los Gatos High School principal: I recall when Charlie knew he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and he came to me and asked if he could keep coaching, and I told him yes, and then he said, almost half-jokingly, "Even in a wheelchair?" And I said, "Yeah, as long as you can do the job and want to do the job, you can keep coaching." Well, there was no way either Charlie or I knew, you know, really, where that was going to lead. And you've seen him in his cart, tonight; you know there is hardly a man left there except for his mind. And the kids have to know that there is a man, you know, that has given it everything he has.
MICHELS [voice-over]: As Wedemeyer's illness has progressed, his team has adjusted to his handicaps. As he gradually lost his ability to speak, his players and coaches have learned to read his lips. With his wife Lucy filling in the communication gaps, Charlie remains the man in charge, running his sophisticated offense. Charlie gained his knowledge of the game the hard way, as a standout running back in high school and college. He was voted athlete of the decade in his native Hawaii, and went on to play for Duffy Dougherty at Michigan State. He was small but fast. His instinctive running ability earned him a berth on the 1968 College All-Star Squad. He married his high school sweetheart, Lucy, and moved to Los Gatos with his two children in 1972 to accept a teaching and coaching position. His overall record of 68 wins and 15 losses is testament to his single-minded dedication to excellence, a dedication he took to the practice field when his health permitted.
LUCY WEDEMEYER: When we go to football practice, he doesn't want to go home until that play is right, and he's got other guys there, other coaches, who have been working all day and out there all day, and they're tired and they ache, and they want to go home and no way! We are going to be there 'til it's done. I mean, he was relentless.
JOHN GRIFFIN, former quarterback: Mr. Wedemeyer's taught me so many little idiosyncracies I can't even name them. Just things, tendencies to look for in the defensive team. Being the quarterback, you know, I have to pick these things up. Just because of the fact that he strives so hard, I mean, he teaches you not to give up. He teaches you always to keep striving, on the football field and off the football field. He teaches you respect, because he demands that and all of his players give it.
MICHELS [voice-over]: Over the years Charlie has had to endure the physical pain of dislocated joints and the psychological anguish of having to depend on others. But with the support of his players, family and friends, and a healthy sense of humor, he has managed to win his bouts with depression.
Ms. WEDEMEYER: We all had to assure Charlie that we'd much rather have you like this than not at all. You're much better off like this than either dying in a car accident, being in a hospital or having cancer. You know, myriad other things. And reassuring him that, hey, we still love you, we still want to be here. It's tough on all of us. We all crab. But, you know, we're entitled to that. That's okay. It's okay to feel that way.
MICHELS [voice-over]: Charlie now requires 24-hour in-home nursing care at a cost of more than $9,000 per month, which is not covered by medical insurance. Often, after working as a full-time real estate broker and mother, Lucy takes the night shift as a part-time nurse.
Ms. WEDEMEYER: My uncle who is a doctor said, "Do you realize the incredible void that you will have?" And I hadn't thought of it in that respect, you know. I just thought, oh, I'll sleep for three years -- no problem. And, no, I don't look at that. I don't want to look at that. I look at day to day. That's hard enough to get through.
MICHELS [voice-over]: Much of the money for Charlie's care has come from local community fundraising efforts. In January, the NFL Alumni Association held a $100-a-plate dinner in San Jose and 600 tickets were sold. The guest list read like a football hall of fame honor roll, headed up by 49er coach Bill Walsh, who took time out from his Superbowl preparations to attend.
BILL WALSH, San Francisco 49ers: It was an opportunity for me to pay my tribute. This is a man with great inner strength, and initially a lot of knowledge of football and a lot of ability to instill it and to motivate his players. But the great inner strength I think now is something -- a tribute to him, and also something that we can use as a motivating tool of our own.
MICHELS [voice-over]: For Charlie this was the night of triumph. But he might not have been there to enjoy it if there had not been an earlier night of defeat. In the semifinal playoff game in 1984, the Wildcats suffered a heartbreaking loss in overtime, but Charlie viewed the loss philosophically. He wanted that championship, and that meant he would have to hold on and take another shot at the title this year.
Ms. WEDEMEYER: You're sure that that was a sign? You're certain? You've got to have one more season? At least, right?
SPORTSCASTER [voice-over]: Here we go again. Fourth and about a yard to go.
MICHELS [voice-over]: The '85 season began in August with an all-star game, but Charlie wasn't on the field. A week before the game he suddenly stopped breathing. His nurse revived him with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and rushed him to the hospital, where doctors performed a tracheostomy and placed him in the intensive care unit. But that didn't prevent Charlie from coaching the game. With a phone link to the coaches' box and a local broadcast of the game on television at his bedside, Charlie called the plays from the intensive care unit.
Ms. WEDEMEYER: What yardline? What yardline? What? I'm sorry.
SPORTSCASTER [voice-over]: Back to live action now. Putting it out in front of his receiver, fighting for the football, touchdown? Are they going to call it a touchdown? And they do. The pass is complete -- And a good job of putting that offense in, and I know that Charlie and Lucy Wedemeyer at Santa Theresa Hospital are all excited about this.
MICHELS [voice-over]: Finally released from the hospital and back home, Charlie studied his game plan as he prepared to meet archrival Saratoga High. This year his team is less talented, less experienced, and because he has been unwilling to delegate authority because of his increasing handicap, there is now some dissension on his coaching staff. Charlie knows that tonight's game will be a formidable test for his young players, his staff and himself. To speed up signal calling and simplify communications, Charlie had compiled a script of plays. Lucy stayed in touch with Assistant Coach Butch Cattolico by short-wave headsets. Soon the new system and the old magic paid off. From the opening whistle, Charlie's young team and his dedicated coaching staff kept their composure, in spite of an occasional snafu in communications.
Ms. WEDEMEYER: 2C. You're clicking. I can't --
COACH: There is no 2C. Slot reverse!
MICHELS [voice-over]: When the final gun sounded, another Wedemeyer team had tasted victory. Like last year's championship team, they had given their best to keep the dream alive.
LEHRER: Again, the major stories of this Monday. Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega said on the NewsHour the state of emergency in his country will stay in effect until the U.S. calls off its state terrorism against Nicaragua. The U.S. said Ortega has created his own problems and his own opposition. Israeli Prime Minister Peres called for an end to the state of war between Jordan and Israel and said he is willing to go to Jordan for peace talks. Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead reported progress in his efforts to patch up differences with Egypt and Italy over the Achille Lauro hijacking.
And, finally, the newest addition to the NewsHour, the Ranon Lurie cartoon of the day. [repeat] Good night, Robin.
MacNEIL: Good night, Jim. That's our NewsHour tonight. We'll be back tomorrow night. I'm Robert MacNeil. Good night.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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Episode Description
This episode's headline: Blasting U.S. Policy; U.S. Reactions; Sanctuary Trial; Transplant Troubles?; A Will to Win. The guests include In New York: DANIEL ORTEGA, President of Nicaragua; In Washington: Rep. HENRY HYDE, Republican, Illinois; Rep. GEORGE MILLER, Democrat, California; Sen. ALBERT GORE, Democrat, Tennessee; Reports from NewsHour Correspondents: JOHN SIMPSON (BBC), in the Bahamas; PEGGY GIDDINGS (KUAT), in Tucson, Arizona; SPENCER MICHELS (KQED-San Francisco), in Los Gatos, California. Byline: In New York: ROBERT MacNEIL, Executive Editor; In Washington: JIM LEHRER, Associated Editor; JUDY WOODRUFF, Correspondent
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Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1985-10-21, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 24, 2024,
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