tv Democracy Now LINKTV March 25, 2015 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
♪ amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! [captioning made possible by democracy now!] seymour: they get into the village. there are no soldiers there. the intelligence is bad, as it always is. there are children, women, heating up water for their morning rights. they began gathering them in large ditches and executed them.
amy: 50 years after the u.s. ground invasion of vietnam began, we look back at the 1968 my lai massacre when us troops killed hundreds of civilians. journalist seymour hersh broke the story of the massacre and cover-up, winning a pulitzer prize for his work. he never actually went there. 47 years later he traveled to my lai for the first time and writes about his trip in a new piece titled "the scene of the crime." then we go to texas where thousands of immigrant mothers and children are locked up in privately run detention centers. renee: they told us we would stay with our family, but then we were separated from our children. only children under eight years old could stay in our room. amy: we will air a report from democracy now's renee feltz and get an update on how family
detention is expanding despite a judge's order that using it to deter mass migration is illegal. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama has again delayed the withdrawal of u.s. troops from afghanistan. obama had vowed to remove half of the 10,000 troops currently in afghanistan in the coming months. but following a request from visiting afghan president ashraf ghani, obama announced he will leave 9,800 soldiers at least through the end of 2015. obama said the u.s. will still meet its goal to consolidate forces in kabul and remove all but 1,000 forces by the end of his term in early 2017. president obama: the date for us to have completed our drawdown will not change, but it is my judgment, the judgment of general campbell and others on the ground that providing this
additional time frame during the fighting season, for us to be able to help the afghan security forces succeed, is well worth it. amy: according to "the new york times," administration officials say the delayed pullout will preserve secret u.s. drone strikes and other paramilitary operations. cia personnel, contractors, and special operations forces will continue operating out of a base in kandahar and another in jalalabad. thousands of people have marched in the afghan capital of kabul to protest the brutal killing of a woman by an angry mob. the 27-year-old victim was beaten with sticks and set on fire after being falsely accused of burning the koran. demonstrators gathered in front of the afghan supreme court to demand justice. >> it was one of the most brutal acts. we have never seen something like her. it was close to police officers. there were hundreds of people
watching her being killed, but nobody helped. >> those that endorsed this barbaric action have to be brought to justice. those that have endorsed it knowingly or unknowingly should be brought to justice. the 27-year-old -- amy: the 27-year-old's name was farkhunda. heidi has asked for security council intervention. there are reports that saudi arabia is moving heavy weaponry near its border with yemen. a new report found the iraq war killed about one million people. the international physicians for the prevention of nuclear war and other groups examine the totals from the so-called war on terror in three countries --
iraq, afghanistan, and pakistan, and the investigators found "the war has directly or indirectly killed around one million people in iraq, 220,000 people in afghanistan, and 80,000 in afghanistan -- pakistan. not included are further war zones such as yemen. the figures are approximately 10 times greater than decision-makers are aware. this is a conservative estimate, they wrote. they say the true tally could be over 2 million people. president obama says he continues to evaluate his approach to the israel-palestine conflict following benjamin netanyahu's rejection of a two state solution. u.s. officials might take steps including no longer vetoing resolutions critical of israel. speaking to reporters obama said a peace deal is unlikely while netanyahu is enough is.
president obama: i will continue to do whatever i need to do to make sure that our friends in israel are safe. that is what i have done since i have an president, and that is not going to stop. so, the israeli people need to know that, but i am required to evaluate honestly how we manage israeli-palestinian relations over the next several years. what we cannot do is pretend that there is a possibility of something that is not there, and we cannot continue to promise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen, at least in the next several years. amy: in his news conference tuesday, president obama addressed the ongoing talks over and -- over an iran nuclear deal and said any deal he would richard be a good one.
president obama: i am confident if there is going to be a deal it will be a good deal for american security, israeli security, and the region's security. if it is not, there probably will not be an agreement. there will be significant transparency in the process. amy: indonesia -- in tunisia hundreds have marched to protest the shooting rampage at a museum last week. 21 people, mostly foreign tourists were killed when gunmen opened fire. the self-proclaimed islamic state has claimed responsibility. on tuesday, participants from more than 120 countries opened the social forum opened the talk to bring groups together to discuss grassroot struggles for political change. we'll bring you a report tomorrow. in the u.s., the only abortion
clinic left in mississippi has been attacked by a vandal. on monday, staff arrived at the jackson women's health organization to find their outdoor security cameras destroyed and their electric generator seriously damaged. surveillance video appeared to show a masked intruder carrying a long-handled tool. the clinic is nicknamed "the pink house," since it was painted bright pink as a symbol of defiance against repeated republican efforts to shut it down. it has recently been targeted by the extreme anti-choice groups survivors of the abortion holocaust and operation save america. in an online statement, the clinic wrote quote "the goal of the anti-abortion terrorists is to transform a legal, safe, and common medical procedure into a fearful, and traumatic experience for everyone involved. but we will always do whatever it takes to make sure our doors open every single monday morning," they wrote. and some of the nation's top museums are facing calls to sever all ties with billionaire funders who profit from global warming. in an open letter, a coalition
of climate scientists and environmental groups says science and natural history museums should no longer accept money from fossil fuel corporations and individual donors like the koch brothers. the brothers' koch industries has extensive energy industry holdings and has funded climate denial. david koch is a board member of both the american museum of natural history and the smithsonian national museum of natural history. the letter says quote "when some of the biggest contributors to climate change and funders of misinformation on climate science sponsor exhibitions in museums of science and natural history, they undermine public confidence in the validity of the institutions responsible for transmitting scientific knowledge. this corporate philanthropy comes at too high a cost." and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: i am juan gonzalez.
welcome to our listeners and viewers around the country and around the world. 50 years ago this month, 3,500 u.s. marines landed in south vietnam, marking the start of the u.s. ground war in vietnam. the date was sunday march 7, 1965, the same day alabama state troopers beat back civil rights protesters in selma. by 1968, the u.s. had half a million troops in vietnam. the war would go until april 1975. scholars estimate as many as 3.8 million vietnamese died during the war. up to 800,000 people died in -- perished in cambodia. another 1 million in laos. the u.s. death toll was 58,000. amy: one of the most horrific massacres of the vietnam war took place in the village of my lai. on march 16, 1968, an american contingent of about a hundred soldiers, known as charlie company, attacked a village of civilians. women were raped. houses were burned. more than 500 villagers were murdered, most of them women
children and the elderly. the world didn't find out about the massacre until november 1969. that's when freelance journalist seymour hersh broke the story about the massacre and its cover-up after tracking down soldiers who took part. he was awarded the pulitzer prize for his expose. seymour hersh recently traveled to my lai for the first time and writes about his trip in the new issue of “the new yorker.” his piece is titled "the scene of the crime." seymour hersh, welcome back to democracy now! what was it like to go to the place that has defined so much of your life 47 years after the massacre? seymour: you cannot imagine. it is not creepy. it was inevitably moving. i only went, to be honest, because my family, my wife, my children, even my dog, cat, and the gerbil wanted me to go and have been nagging me for 20 or
30 years to go to see where it started. i finally did go. i had been invited by the government officially years ago to come, but it was hard. it was hard to see the ditch. it was hard to see how so many american boys could do so much and how it could be so thoroughly covered up by the government, not only up until that time i wrote about it, but even afterwards. there were investigations that could not cope with the reality. as you mentioned in your deduction, one of the massacres was on that day -- the same unit, three tasks forces, charlie company, led by william calley one of three, but he was the fall guy. they did the killing in my lai with the same task force. the army, when it began to look
seriously into what i had written about discovered the second massacre in their own interviewing, and, of course just could not cope with it. they simply buried that fact. my lai, yes, it was terrible, much worse than other incidents, but incidents killing 100 20 that should not have happened. juan: the irony is you did not cover the war. you talk about how you track down the story. can you talk about that. seymour: richard nixon defeated office. humphrey would not go against the war. nixon won by claiming he had a
secret plan to end the war and by the middle of 1969, or late-1969, his secret plan, it was clear, was to win it. [laughter] not end it. i got a tip. there were desertions and there were also hearings and investigations, one in detroit michigan, where a group of gis had gone public with story after story of horrific incidents taking place. i read all of those things. i guess, i believe, you cannot really write if you do not read. i knew how much there was an underbelly of very ugly stuff in that war that was not being reported. so, when i got a tip in 1969, late-1969, i was a freelance writer, i worked for the associated press etc., and i
had covered the pentagon, and i had were -- learned ojt -- promotions were being driven by body count, how much did you kill? inevitably, soldiers eager to get more killings would stop differentiating in many areas particularly the -- particularly my lai, areas known to be engaged and committed to opposition to the south vietnamese government. we call them the outcome. many of them are not communist they were nationalists against the war. unless, we carried the war very hard to them. i knew all of that. i got a tip from a lawyer named jeffrey cohen, who was involved in antiwar issues, working in washington. he had heard about a massacre. i went looking. you know, i was a soldier, i was in the army.
i cover the pentagon. there is an enormous streak of decency and goodwill among many officers and i always say this about the american intelligence community, too. do not write them off. there are a lot of people with high integrity. i got nowhere on this story. one day i was in the pentagon, rolling around. i guess i was going through the legal offices. the fact that officers had been detained by the army on the suspicion of mass murder was not part of the record. [laughter] i had actually run across lieutenant calley third's -- i was told he had massacred some prostitutes. i did not know that. i ran into a colonel who had just been promoted to general.
he was limping. he had been shot in the war, and i just ended talking with him about it, teased him a little bit about taking a bullet to make general. black humor is always very big in the military. i said what is this about some guy shooting up a lot of people, and the kernel, soon to be a general, slammed his hand against his wounded knee, and he said to me, that guy calley did not shoot anybody higher than that. at that moment, i knew there was something big. i found lieutenant calley's lawyer, and i eventually got to him. it was interesting. i had heard a lot about him. the pentagon had accused him of the killing of 111 oriental human beings.
that was the charge, as if 10 whites equaled 100. i was not sure what the number was. they got rid of that as soon as i went public with the world. -- with the word. it was racism so dominant with that war, as it isn't other wars. you have to dehumanize the other person. from that point, i did see calley. as "the new yorker," said, i expected to see satan, and i instead found a 5'6" obscure college dropout. the only thing i could find about him was that he had been a switchman one summer for a small train company in florida, and forgot to fill a switch, there was a collision, and he got fired. that was it. into the army he goes. he becomes an officer. he made up for his incompetence and other issues by being very aggressive with killing, and --
juan: sy, you pieced together -- not only did you talk to calley you talk to private first class paul meadlo about his involvement in the my lai massacre. in 1969, meadlo agreed to talk to wallace on national television about what happened. paul: i might have killed nine. mike: men, women and children? paul: why did i do it? i felt i was doing the right thing. mike: you are married? children? paul: two below. mike: how could a father kill
children? paul: just one of those things. juan: you talked about those that gave the orders. seymour: paul meadlo was interesting. i could not get anyone to buy the story. i had a commission for "life magazine." i had been in print a couple of weeks earlier, so i was not unknown in the press world, but nonetheless, nobody wanted to be the first to break the story, so i went to a little antiwar news agency called dispatch news service, and they handle the stories. amazingly, they took off, and i began, as you said -- i went from calley -- i wrote a story about calley, and then i went and began to find people, kids that were involved with the help of a wonderful soldier
named ronald who now has passed away, but he is one of the few people knew about my lai, and try to do something about it. amy: we're going to take a break, and when we come back we're going to ask you sy, to tell the story. seymour hersh is a pulitzer prize winning writer for "the new yorker" magazine. his piece is titled "the scene of the crime." ♪ [music break]
reporter who wrote this piece for "the new yorker" magazine entitled "the scene of the crime." piece it together for us -- tell us the day charlie company moved into my lai, and then what happened. seymour: that is the real thing. what i did about that story -- what happened that day, the massacres, they murdered everybody -- a lot of rape -- terrible stuff. then, what i did, because i was so aware of how much had been covered up, how deep it went, i spent another year and a half see more people, and writing a second book. i wrote a book called " my lai four" right away, but then i wrote a second book. at the time, there was very bad intelligence. intelligence was there was a battalion there, the 40th, and our boys were going to go in and
kill them. there was going to be a big ambush, and when we went in, there was nothing but women and children. the intelligence was lousy, as it always was. they murdered everybody. they were told to kill everybody you see. god knows what the actual reality was. they went out of control, as they had many times before. what i learned was this was the big deal for the whole division. charlie company was attached to a task force that was attached to a battalion, that was attached to a division. we're talking about 20,000 men led by a major general and another deputy, and a kernel that was in charge of the regiment -- colonels, generals, lieutenant colonels, majors were flying above, and i could just tell you from what i know, you had to understand, when you saw that village with pits full of
bodies, you knew something horrible had happened. they all knew it. they all covered it up. action, what they did, they reported it to headquarters that they had produced a great victory, killed 128 with only three weapons captured. that was a flag in itself. that story about pinckneyville pink for communists, that story about the massacre ended up on the front page of "the new york times," and the lead general general westmoreland, sent a letter of commendation to the general, who by the time i was writing the story was commandant at west point. the unique training institution for young officers in new york. it was just one, huge, from the
top to the bottom, cover-up. westmoreland himself was very concerned about war crimes being responsible for war crimes. the whole thing -- even though they looked at my lai and did an investigation -- why congress allow the army to do that, i do not know. they did their own investigation that seemed honorable. it looked very hard at my lai. it looked very hard at calley and it did punish some of the senior officers, that we are talking about massive -- what 400 felonies? amy: can you describe what happened on march 16, 1958? seymour: they went in, a group of boys -- you have to give them credit, they did their whiskey and their drugs the night before they wanted payback.
they had been taking it out on the people. they had never seen the enemy. they have been in the country for three or four months without ever having a set piece war. that is the way it is in guerrilla warfare, which is why we should not do it, but that is another story. they went in that morning ready to kill or be killed. they landed, there was nothing but women and children doing the usual, as you said in your intro, warming up right -- warming up rice for breakfast and they began to put them in ditches and started executing them. calley's company went in, and they started putting people in ditches.
i found the distinction -- that was white is war. the whole thing was whitey's work. they did shoot because they were afraid of white colleagues would shoot at them because they were afraid white colleagues would shoot at them. one even shot high. the other companies did not gather people. they just went and killed and raped and mutilated and it went on until everybody was run away or killed, 400 some odd people in that village alone were murdered that day all by noon 1:00 p.m. at one point, one helicopter pilot, a wonderful man named thompson, saw what was going on, and landed his helicopter. he was a small combat, two gunners, and he ordered gunners to train weapons on lieutenant calley and other americans and calley was in the process of
throwing hand grenades into a ditch of 10 or so vietnamese civilians. he put his hands on calley, took the civilians, and flew them to safety. he, of course, was immediately in trouble for doing that. the instinct to not do the right thing -- the thing you discovered about vietnam, there was no such thing of a war crime. the idea did not exist. there were violations of rules and things you did wrong, and one of them is that emerged in vietnam, a defense to, let's say, rape, would have been what they call the mgr -- it was just a gook. i'm not exaggerating. it was that racist. we talk about one million, 2 million, 3 million civilians killed between the north and the south. since the war ended, and this is something i discussed in the piece of it, anyway, one at a
thousand people had been killed in the north alone, what used to be north vietnam, in areas around hanoi and some of the areas around south vietnam. 100,000 farmers, and mostly children -- more than 40% of them children, have been killed by unexploded ordinance, in the ground, triggered inadvertently by plowing or kids playing around in a field. 100,000 the war ended. the casualties -- anyway -- juan: sy, i wanted to ask you as much as you have written about my lai, and the events of that period, when you return from your trip, you specifically spoke with pham thanh cong, a victim, a survivor of the massacre. i want to turn to pham thanh cong in his own words when he
spoke to al jazeera about what happened to him in that massacre. pham: i survived. the corpses covered my body. i was wounded, but at 4:00 p.m., i was rescued by other villagers. amy: you also, --juan: you also, in your piece, talk about a returning soldier who had participated in massacre and the encounter. seymour: one of the things that struck me -- as you know vietnam now has become a major tourist center for americans. it is a beautiful country. it is very welcoming to americans. they have a saying in vietnam that the past is the past, we have to look forward. as you know, vietnam has been embroiled with wars with the chinese and others for 1000 years. another group,, and kill and be killed. of course, it is not that simple.
and of course, the notion that survivors would always do interviews, and cong often did himself -- and by the way, there is a marvelous picture of him if you look in "the new york times ," in his face, you can see it all. you can see it all -- all of that pain. in his conversation with an american soldier named shields -- soldiers are always welcome to come to the my lai museum. many americans do go see what happened to look at the photographs. this particular soldier cong began to talk to, and he discovered he had been at my lai . his name was shields, from michigan. another guy, wrong place, wrong time. if it had not been for the war i'm sure he would have been fine, not going around killing people, as he had been doing. cong found out, the first time
that he had ever met somebody -- he had been head of the museum for some time, and he could not get the soldier to acknowledge anything -- he would not acknowledge shooting anybody and cong actually got mad, and he was talking to me about how mad he got. yes, we do turn the other hand live with the past, but in this case, he really wanted this young man to express some contrition, some sense of guilt, and not to say "i do not remember." he got very angry. i was happy to see it, in a way -- it was a real thing. i've been hearing so much in vietnam. i had been there for a few weeks already. i was therefore two weeks on this trip. this notion of turning the other cheek -- you cannot really live with something like that. it is in your face, in the face of other survivors that one sees, too, from the village.
we just cannot -- history -- you know, things reseed with history, but not for me, and not for many people in vietnam. i understand that for the modern generation -- you know, i remember growing up as a kid in the second world war. the first world war was about fields of poppy, ernest hemingway, and ambulances. we do not pay much attention to the history, but this history is pretty cute, because it does tell us about the present. -- is pretty acute. it tells us about the present. our soldiers were trained poorly. the discipline was terrible. the lack of the small-unit leadership was disgraceful. i think the army came out of this war in terrible shape. i would like to think it is in better shape now. i do not know. many bad things still happen in the wars we are in now in afghanistan. as you know, i wrote about abu ghraib for "the new yorker," a
decade ago, and what happened there was it really similar -- the contempt for prisoners, for people who societies we do not understand. so i would like to think, just to take what i learned from vietnam and put it into the modern context, we have been fighting the war on terror since 9/11, 13, 14 years now, with drones, and soldiers, and it has only gotten worse. the fundamentalism and the hatred of americans has become more acute and maybe we ought to think there are other ways to conduct ourselves when we have opposition like we do in this case -- religious opposition and opposition to our way of life and our notion of democracy. i would like to think we could learn something, but instead we seem to be spreading into the use of drones, so that we have not even any direct responsibility, no soldiers engaging. you do not have a meadlo and no
chance for collective guilt, and collective understanding of what we did. amy: i want to go back to paul meadlo. if you could talk about what happened on march 16, 1968 between lieutenant calley, other soldiers, and particularly paul meadlo, as you described in the peace, standing at the ditch. he was actually playing with the children that he would then gun donw --down? seymour: he had another soldier had been asked by calley --paul meadlo was a kid. he was married young. his father worked in the minds on the border with illinois. he was a farm kid into the army trained to be a killer. his brother told me when i was doing interviews for this piece -- i spoke to his brother larry
who lives near him, and he said paul could not escape -- skin and animal after shooting them while hunting. he did not like the sight of blood. he was the last person who should have been drafted, but he was drafted, and he went, and that morning calley ordered paul meadlo and others to collect a group of women and children, they had 40, or more, some old men, mostly women and children, and calley said to watch them, and they did what most would do -- they were passing out candy horsing around with the kids, telling them where to sit, and calley came back in effect, told them what are you doing, and he said i told you to take care of them. paul meadlo he wanted them killed. began following orders. he began crying. this is something i did not know until i revisited
investigations. i had just not read it all before. i had found other witnesses testified at army hearings after my stories came out. there was an investigation by a general named peers, and another soldier, a new york kid, a new york street kid was not going to shoot, but he watched what happened. he testified about meadlo beginning to cry. he did not want to do it, and calley ordered him to come and he began to shoot and shoot. i do not know how many. he told me later five or six clips. he testified about one. into the ditch -- there was a horrible moment that really got me. at some point when they were done shooting, some mother had protected a baby underneath her body in the bottom of the ditch and the gis heard a crying or whimpering noise, and a two-year-old boy, three old boy called his layout full of other people's blood from the ditch --
pulled his way out full of other people's blood from the ditch -- it is hard to talk about this -- it is now a dish that has been paved over -- ditch that has been paved over. the kid was running away and calley went after him -- a big tough guy with his rifle dragged him back into the ditch and shot him. that stuck in people's minds. that is how i got to calley. it was a repressed memory what happened in that ditch. i've written two of the world stories for the dispatch, and i was higher than american press were open to the story. they let me run with it for weeks. they let me think, as i still do that you can really do stuff if you want to do stuff. the american press, they might not be aggressive, but if you do stuff that they think is right they will still publish it.
i still hope that is true. there is resistance to stories, sometimes, but not in this case. it just seemed right. soldiers told me, finally they had told me about paul meadlo and as i wrote in the piece, i was in salt lake city about the time i heard about him, and what happened. i did not hear about crying, but i heard about resistance, can -- and what he did, i spent hours on the phone talking to chief operators, asking for meadlo and i finally found him. i knew the next day he had had his leg blown off by stepping on a mine, and he kept on saying while he was with for the helicopter, yelling at calley that god has punished me, and god will get you for this. they finally took him away. when i called his home -- i got
this old, southern voice, i said is paul there, and she said yes. i said how is his leg, and she said "well, i do not know your code -- n -- i do not know." i asked if i could see him, and she said yes. i flew across country, got there by afternoon to this little farm full of chickens -- chicken coops that were broken down. she came out to meet me and this is one of those moments you live for as a journalist, i guess. this woman really was not in the world. did not know much about what was going on. paul had not told her much. i pulled into the -- pulled in at about 3:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m., i told her i was a reporter, and she said he was in there and he
knows you are coming. then this old woman said in this tone of a voice, "i gave them a good boy, and they sent me back a murderer," and you can go a long time in this business without hearing a quote like that. amy: thank you. i want to end with a quote when you interviewed at the paris peace talks about my lai -- amy: seymour hersh, thank you for spending time with us. and for your work. seymour hersh is an
amy: “no nos moveran" by joan baez. "we will not be moved. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. with juan gonzalez. juan: we and today's show with an update on a story democracy now! has followed closely -- president obama's expansion of the controversial practice of detaining mothers and their children. starting last summer, thousands of central american women with kids as young as a few months old crossed into the united states seeking asylum. even though many were later found to have a credible fear of violent persecution, they found themselves rounded up and put into detention, with little chance for freedom until they were deported. amy: but last month a federal judge ordered immigration authorities to begin releasing
the women and children. he found the obama administration's policy of detaining them in order to deter others from coming was illegal. since then more families have been granted bond and released while others who are unable to afford the bonds remain locked up. they're held at one of two new family detention centers run by private prison companies in south texas. democracy now's renee feltz went there to find out more, and she filed this report. renee: my first stop is a small town one hour north of the mexican border. it is a family detention center that opened in december, built on the site of a former man can't for oilfield workers. i made a resident who lives nearby and offers to show me around. >> your we are as the -- at the residential -- here we are at the residential center pretty far out of sight, and out of sight, out of mind. renee: we drive around a 50-acre site, and it is filled with hundreds of mud-colored trailers, each housing at least
eight people or three families. much of the site is surrounded by a high fence. peeking through it i can see roads of trailers stretching into the distance. in one area, the top of a playground rises above the fence, and i can hear children's voices. much of the site is under construction. two large tents look like they have just been finished, each one big enough for hundreds of beds. when the facility is done, it will be able to hold 2400 women and children. i asked my contact what residents think of it all. >> what i have heard the most is they are building a new detention facility there, i am going to ask for a job. or, showing someone the headline "feds ok internment camp," and the sub headline was "opportunities for employment."
renee: in 1942, the nearby town of crystal city was home to an intimate cap for japanese and german men along with their wives and children. >> the filming of the crystal silly -- crystal city facility shows how men, women, and children, detainees of world war ii live, work, and play. renee: details from the 1946 government film sound eerily similar to the present day cap in dilley, about one hour away. >> originally, it was a migratory labor camp. to provide for a foreign population of 3600, we added more than 500 housing units, and money was issued to them in accordance with the size and
needs of the family. here are some children that play under the directions of a detainee teacher. renee: most of the women and children were u.s. citizens. the government later apologize for the treatment. today, the women and children detained in dilley are immigrants from el salvador, honduras, and guatemala, that their detention has drawn similar scrutiny. in february, a federal judge ordered authorities to begin releasing the women and children. since then, many judges have granted them bonds between $4000 and $10,000. if the women and children can pay, they have released to live with relatives while they seek legal status, but some detainees cannot afford their bonds, and others are ineligible if they have been deported before. still, while at dilley, i see a new group of detainees being loaded into a small, white bus. one of my sources tell me they
will be dropped off at the greyhound bus station about one hour north in san antonio. i decide to meet him there and find out. renee: we are here speaking with -- mohammed: we work in collaboration with the interface of the welcome coalition, and each night we are here at the greyhound bus station in downtown, san antonio, or we have band foals of women that are brought from either of the detention centers, and usually what unfolds is the women come in the facilities, and it is surprising for us in that the women are released in the same clothing that they were probably caught in the summer. renee: as i talked to mohammed, a van stops by and drops off a group. they had been held at the other detention center. most will travel for days to live with an approved family member or friend, but they have no money or supplies, so the interface welcoming committee brings them backpacks full of
donated food, toys and diapers. volunteer a backup ortiz lists the ages of the -- rebecca ortiz lists the ages of the people she has met. rebecca: usually as young as three weeks, 3, 4, 7, 10. we have recently seen teenagers dropped off at the bus station. we are here to help them because we know they do not understand english. we are here to help them translate their tickets, show them how to read the tickets. explain the journey. sometimes we have a map of the united states because they have no idea they are in taxes, or the idea how far will be when they travel to california, massachusetts, new york, wyoming. we have the map, and we show them you are here, and you will travel through here until you reach a destination. we may not have control over things our government does. we have no control over what a foreign government does, but when someone is standing in front of you, who needs help, we
are ready. renee: as families ready to board the bus is, i watch a volunteer give the kids stuffed animals. she has been helping the kids -- the families connect with lawyers. she talks about the id cards. >> this is for one of the clients we have had, patricia -- i do not want to say her name, just patricia. she was there for three months. after three months she got a $5,000 bond and with the help of the interfaith welcome coalition, we are able to raise money. renee: you are holding a card that belongs to patricia. can you describe what this is? >> it is an id. they can be used for buying food at the commissary. they also must show it to the guards when they get counted
which is three times a day, and if the kids want to take out a toy, they have to have their idea -- they have to leave their id. renee: most of the women i meet are too tired and nervous to talk to me on camera, but at the next day one of them shares her experience of being detained. [speaking spanish] renee: erica and her 17-year-old son agreed to do an interview. erica: my name is erica rodriguez. i left el salvador on january 13, cross the river on january 27. once there, the immigration agent took us into custody and drove us to what we call the ice box. we were there from us three days, and then taken to a place called the doghouse, a warehouse with chain-link fences. after three days they brought us
to detention center where we had a medical checkup and they gave us food. they give us five changes of clothes and a blanket, and they told us we would remain as a family in our rooms, but then we were separated from our children and my son was with other teenagers. only children under eight years old could remain with adults in our room. christian: my name is christian rodriguez. i am 17 years old. sometimes i complain about the week that they locked me up and medical isolation because it was very ugly to be there -- i cannot go anywhere. i was sitting there by the window watching the nurses pass by. erica: they told us to gather all of our stuff and go to the nursery. once there, we were there for five days per week and not see daylight, dust anything, because it was locked. after five days, five officers came, but they did not give us a reason. in the wake of punishment, my son lost five pounds because he
was not eating. they gave him three meals but he was eating once a day at most. renee: why didn't he want to eat? christian: i felt very sad to be locked up. i had no friends, could not see anything. it was the same every day, and i had no desire to eat. erica: thank you -- think god i was there not more than a month and a days. it seems like a entire life, it is something that left a mark on me. renee: after i speak with erica and her son, i meet rosalinda. rosalinda: what we are doing with these families -- they are being terrorized. renee: rosalinda tries to stay in touch with the families that are released. she worries some have their bonds paid for by traffickers. she says even those reunited with families face trauma from their detention ordeal.
rosalinda: i feel like when they tell me they are putting them in this cell, where they are going to take the children away, i say forgive my country. even though this is not my country. i am mexican. i am undocumented, but i say forgive my country. [indiscernible] renee: in san antonio, i am renee feltz for democracynow. amy: that report by renee feltz. she joins us now. your thoughts on the story? renee: it was striking to see how young the children down -- were. while i was there, apparently one woman tried to commit suicide. amy: we are also joined by barbara hines, former director of the immigration clinic at the university of texas law school. her affidavit in a lawsuit challenging detention of women
and children as a method of deterrence to mass migration was cited by the federal judge in his order to halt the practice. explain that lawsuit barbara. barbara: it was filed by immigration clinic and a private law firm to challenge the practice of holding mothers and children to send a deterrent message to other families, arguing that these mother and children were national security risks, picking the most vulnerable group of immigrants coming to the united states, really as violence-seekers, women and children fleeing the most horrific violence, and saying that group had to be locked up in private prisons that were run on the profit motive. juan: and what about this issue of some people saying they are not asylum-seekers, but just undocumented immigrants. barbara: that is not true in our experience. the vast majority of the women and children that have been held at the detention facilities that
have been ramped up since june are asylum-seekers. they have passed the initial screening, which is called a credible fear interview, to show that they meet the threshold standard for asylum, and under our international law and domestic law they have the right to apply for asylum to seek protection in this country. juan: what are some of the conditions they are being held on the -- under that you mentioned in your submission? barbara: first of all, they are run by -- the facility in dilley is run by the corrections corporation of america, the same facility that ran the last iteration of family detention that i actually did litigate, where children were held -- babies in prison uniforms, and corporations thought that was acceptable. the women and the children have no control over their lives. everything is regimented. what time they get up.
what they eat. the food is very bad. the medical care is substandard. guards, just like when we litigated at uncle, which was the last version of family detention, women have told us that they have been threatened that if their children misbehave they will be reported to the immigration judge, that it can negatively affect your case. children that get out of line -- and of course, they are young children. how can you have children running around that do not stay in line? we had a mother with a baby that was learning to crawl, and the baby was not allowed on the ground because the guards said that was unsafe. she was forced to carry the baby around which, of course, has terrible developmental affect for a child that is trying to learn how to walk. amy: barbara hines, we have to leave it here, marketing the conversation and posted at democracy.org especially what