Morning Joe | March 08, 2013
>>> welcome back to " morning joe ." it's 6:46 in the morning. joining us here in new york , nbc news foreign correspondent, ayman mohyeldin. we're used to having you on remotely in cairo. it's good to have you. i know you cover a lot of these. we'll rapid fire at you. one we haven't gotten to this morning, osama bin laden 's son-in-law captured and brought sometime last week, although just revealed yesterday here to new york city to stand trial. this has been controversial. some republican senators and congressmen say we weren't alerted ahead of time. we didn't know this was happening. we ought to have known, and he shouldn't have been here in the first place said people like lindsey graham . can you walk us through it?
>> the domestic one, this terrorist is not going to be tried here on u.s. soil for the first time. i think a lot of people will be watching that to see the kind of precedent it's going to set. there have been other terrorists that have been tried in new york . this one is of significance because he was a senior member of al qaeda . there's' growing concern that by bringing him here to the u.s. and trying him in no, that's going to put a lot of pressure on new york . it may make it more of a target. a high-profile trial would make it much more cumbersome for residents of new york city . there is that concern. others will say this is an important milestone for the u.s. justice system, that they can by high-profile people and start to shift away from guantanamo which has been such a sour point for the international community when it comes to u.s. relations. when you look at guantanamo and they say this has been a stain on the united states , you've got to shift away from guantanamo .
>> we had this discussion and debate with khalid shaikh mohammed and it ended differently. it was interesting to see peter king , senator chuck schumer , democrat of new york , both saying we're okay this time having bin laden 's son-in-law tried in a courtroom. why is this different?
>> because of the individual. and this particular individual is not believed to have any operational significance within al qaeda . he's been in iran according to all the reports that he was arrested on his way, you know, from turkey into jordan. he had lived the last ten years in iran . he didn't have a lot of operational significance with al qaeda . he had been detained and in jail in iran . i think somebody like khalid shaikh mohamed is somebody that a lot of al qaeda followers and sympathizers would be galvanized and rally behind him and maybe be fueled by that and see him on display in whatever process that may lead. they may feel he's being humiliated and try and do something about it. i think he's far removed from the scene. he may not be as galvanizing a figure. and i think that's why they feel a little more comfortable having him here.
>> he could still deliver potentially -- this isn't a name that most people know, but he was seen as a concigliory of sorts.
>> he was like the chief prop propagandist. i think it's going to be very interesting to watch what he says, what kind of message he delivers. i think the fact that they have him is a blow to al qaeda 's ideology. i think the ideology has permeated so much across the world that it's not one individual whose job it is to get him. his sermons and speeches are all online. you can still watch his statements. i think it's going to be interesting to watch this trial unfold and see what kind of freedom he has to speak publicly.
>> what do we know about the nature of the charges against him?
>> i think right now because he doesn't have any operational significance, so the charges will be more about what he knew. his close affiliation with al qaeda . on september 11th , he came out and praised the attacks. he had a close working relationship with osama bin laden and other senior leaders including ayman al zawahiri . i think that, you know, the specific charges, because it was sealed, we still don't know much about it, but i think we'll learn more when he appears in court later today.
>> michael steele is in washington with us. and he's got a question for you, ayman .
>> ayman , good to see you again.
>> how are you, buddy?
>> good. i want to shift a little back to the rand paul discussion on drones and get your take on how this plays out in the middle east , in particular, given our extensive use in the region. we were talking earlier about some 50 nations or countries have or are developing their own drone program. how do you see or read the reaction to the debate that we saw played out on the floor of the senate with what's really going on on the ground and the concern that, you know, americans have about this happening to us here. and yet we're doing it to other nations and how those nations look at that program in total.
>> well, i think the critics, those that have been speaking out against the drone policy, will say, you know, the united states is now waking up to the problems of the drone policy. there are so many ethical and moral and legal questions about it being used on u.s. soil against american citizens. critics say why didn't you have this debate over the past ten years when you were carrying out drone stliks against suspects and the toll that took. that debate that is now beginning to happen here in the u.s. on the floor in the media, in public forums, i think, you know, the critics will say this is too late. you should have had this discussion. there are a lot of legal implications. and a lot of people in the international community , as you mentioned, michael, a lot of countries getting more and more drone capabilities. i think it's going to pose a lot of serious problems for countries when countries have odds with one another, will they be allowed to carry out drones? the united states has set a precedence for this type of behavior. and in the eyes of many critics in that part of the world, other countries now feel, you know, if the u.s. did it without any legal responsibility, without any impunity, we could possibly do it as well.
>> a story you've been covering very closely is syria, of course. there's been a lot of discussion over the last months and year about how much the united states ought to be involved. what kind of aid they ought to have been providing to the rebels there. russia just out overnight reiterating that it will not seek to force al assad from power. where does this stand right now from where you sit?
>> syria is -- it is a mess. in every sense of the word. i think it's proved the impotence of the international community to agree on something even when it is as black and white of the killing of so many people. it's kind of portrayed as a domestic story -- rather i should say a local story is misleading. it has become an international story. you have weapons coming from iran , support from hezbollah, arming the rebels, and the united states and russia at odds about what to do in the international arena. it has become an international story. it's a major problem for key u.s. allies, israel, jordan, turkey. there has to be a breakthrough. and that breakthrough has to happen from the international community because on the ground, the two sides are unable to reach a tipping point to end it any time soon. and i fear that it's just going to get work.
>> ayman mohyeldin, we love having you here. you can pick an international story and throw it at him. boom.
>> except the weather. know nothing about that one.
>> thanks for being here.
>>> still ahead on " morning joe ," what people earn from celebrities to sports stars to average joes. "parade" magazine reveals salaries from around the country. editor in chief maggie murphy joins us on " morning joe " when we come back. revolutionizing an