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NEWSROOM for May 15, 2001

Aired May 15, 2001 - 04:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

MICHAEL MCMANUS, HOST: Hello, welcome to your Tuesday NEWSROOM. Glad you're with us. I'm Michael McManus. Here's what's coming up.

In today's news, America's best known death row inmate gets his execution delayed by one month. We'll have the latest on the case of Timothy McVeigh. Then, in "Health Desk" why a popular springtime activity can sometimes turn deadly. Next stop, "Worldview." We'll tune into the voices of some human rights heroes from around the world. And in "Chronicle" we celebrated them over the weekend, but what is the true value Americans place on motherhood?

Convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh was to be put to death tomorrow. But a stunning blunder by the FBI prompted the attorney general to delay McVeigh's execution for a month. Late last week, the agency admitted it accidentally withheld documents from McVeigh's lawyers during his trial. This revelation writes a new page in a disturbing chapter of U.S. history and before the dust settles, the FBI is now being investigated for its handling of what seemed like a closed case.

April 19th, 1995, a truck bomb blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children, and shattered the nation's sense of safety from terrorism. The FBI linked decorated army veteran Timothy McVeigh to the crime. In 1997, a jury convicted and sentenced McVeigh to die. He admitted to the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, saying he wanted a revolution against an arrogant government. He called the people who died casualties of war.

Their family and friends waited six years for justice, but six days before McVeigh was to die, an agonizing blow as the nation learns of the FBI's mistake. McVeigh now has more time to think about appealing his conviction.

The delay in McVeigh's execution has prompted his co-conspirator to appeal his conviction. Terry Nichols, who is serving a life sentence for his part in the bombing, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant him a new trial. Now, the FBI's reputation, already hurt by a number of other missteps, is being hit again by a barrage of criticism.

CNN's Kelli Arena explains what went wrong this time. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): FBI officials blame an outdated computer system as part of the reason more than 3,000 pages of documents were never turned over to Timothy McVeigh's defense team. FBI spokesman John Collingwood tells CNN, "The automated records system is antiquated. Congress authorized and funded the bureau to address the problem. There is an internal lack of confidence in the system."

REP. LAMAR SMITH (R), TEXAS: It should not have occurred. If it was the fault of an antiquated, out of date computer system or database system, then that's particularly bad because it could have been corrected and should have been corrected.

ARENA (on camera): In fact, one FBI agent, who asked not to be identified, tells CNN she sometimes does not put vital information into the system for fear of not being able to retrieve it and several other agents admit the Oklahoma City bombing case isn't the first in which information didn't make it into computer database.

MICHAEL GERHARDT, WILLIAM & MARY SCHOOL OF LAW: There's a serious question about what happens in cases in which there's not this close a scrutiny of what's going on, those low profile cases, those every day cases. How many corners get cut in those cases?

ARENA (voice-over): In December of last year, only after a fifth FBI request to field offices for Oklahoma City bombing related material for archiving purposes did the documents in question surface. Four earlier requests were narrower in nature. At least one field office suspected some documents had not been entered into FBI database as early as January. One FBI official says the cross checking of documents confirmed that by March. And by late April, agents realized this material was never given to McVeigh's lawyers. FBI top brass and McVeigh's defense team were not told of the problem until this week.

GOV. FRANK KEATING (R), OKLAHOMA: Now it's an opportunity for conspiracy theorists to point their fingers and say look, they were really trying to cover something up. It was really very dumb.

ARENA: While the Justice Department is conducting its own investigation, members of Congress are also promising their own probe. Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


MCMANUS: FBI Director Louis Freeh, who was appointed by Bill Clinton and has held the office for the past eight years, plans to retire in June. Freeh, who still has two years left in his 10 year term, may end up making his exit under a spotlight of criticism. Tim O'Brien reports on Freeh and his management of the FBI.


TIM O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN has learned that a team of lawyers, auditors and investigators working for the Justice Department's inspector general are off and running with an investigation of the FBI's mishandling of documents in the McVeigh case. The incident has put yet another cloud over the pending departure of FBI director, Louis Freeh, the latest in a series of embarrassments.

The agency is still reeling from the discovery earlier this year that Robert Hanssen had spent 15 years spying for the Russians while holding a top security position within the Bureau. In another explosive national security case, most of the charges filed against Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee had to be dropped last year. The FBI was blamed for mishandling the case.

And then there was Filegate. Freeh was said to have been furious when confidential FBI files turned up at the White House in 1996. The FBI is still the country's premiere investigative agency, but it has never in its history been the subject of so many investigations.

TIM LYNCH, CATO INSTITUTE: They're not used to somebody looking over their shoulder, and when they're not scrutinized in that regard and abuses of power are not corrected, mistakes are not corrected, we shouldn't be surprised when these sorts of abuses continue.

O'BRIEN: When named to the post in 1993, President Clinton called Freeh a "law enforcement legend," but when Clinton left office last January, the two had not spoken with one another for years.

Freeh's support for an independent counsel to investigate Clinton-Gore campaign financing alienated him at the White House, but won him powerful friends on Capitol Hill.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Congressmen saw him very much as politically disarming. It was almost like members of Congress would melt when he came around making requests.

O'BRIEN (on camera): That may be one reason why he has not been as damaged as these incidents as the bureau he runs. But now even some of Freeh's allies on the Hill want to know about what went wrong in the McVeigh case. The Justice Department insists the documents the FBI failed to provide would not affect the outcome of the case. And McVeigh himself has not indicated whether he will seek a new trial.

A mere request, however, could delay his execution six months to a year.

Tim O'Brien, CNN Financial News, Washington.



ANNOUNCER: A CNN viewers wants to know what has the federal government done after the Oklahoma City bombing to make sure it doesn't happen again.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are no guarantees that something like the Oklahoma City bombing could never happen again. This was the worst act of domestic terrorism on U.S. soil. However, the government has taken many steps since the bombing. Number one, security has been stepped up at all federal buildings. For example, concrete barricades are not set up in front of federal courthouses so that vehicles can no longer park in front of them. And about a month after the Oklahoma City bombing back in 1995, President Clinton ordered that moving traffic no longer be allowed to drive past the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. This was something that he regretted doing but said that he had to do because of the changing scope of terrorism.

Now, something like this, could it ever happen again? A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service says they certainly hope not but then again, the spokesman added, I never thought it would happen in the first place.


MCMANUS: You may have visiting a petting zoo. It's a great place to interact with animals. But in our "Health Desk" today, we discover that it's also a place where deadly bacteria can lurk. The culprit, E. coli. You probably know that most E. coli infections and come from eating under cooked ground beef. But did you realize that you can get E. coli just by touching contaminated animals? Elizabeth Cohen has our report.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It seemed lick the perfect outing: Last fall Eileen Sweeney took her children, Shannon and Michael, to a Pennsylvania petting zoo.

EILEEN SWEENEY: We went on a hay ride because it was October and we were going to a pumpkin patch. And we went and we petted the animals, and then on a hay ride. We had a really good day, and then a couple days later Michael developed diarrhea; and within days of his diarrhea his diapers with filled with blood -- pure blood.

COHEN: Sweeney says her son almost died.

SWEENEY: He was in full renal failure. He had to have -- the kidney team was waiting for us and he to have immediate blood transfusions.

COHEN: Michael was diagnosed with E.coli poisoning. His sister got sick too, although not as severely.

Investigators later found E.coli in the animals at the petting zoo, but the farmers didn't know, since the bacteria doesn't make animals sick. In all, 51 people became ill after visiting the farm. The head of that farm says he had no idea people could get E.coli just by touching animals, and he's changing that zoo to look, but don't pet.

(on camera): Officials say this outbreak, and one last year in Washington state, are just the tip of iceberg. So now they're issuing federal guidelines for petting zoos. (voice-over): One recommendation: Provide a place for people to wash their hands. At the Pennsylvania farm, according to the CDC report, hand-washing facilities lacked soap and disposable towels, were out of reach of children, were few in number and unsupervised.

Another CDC recommendation: Don't let people eat while having contact with the animals.

DR. JOHN CRUMP, CDC: The children were becoming infected with E.coli O-157 by petting the animals and then placing their unwashed hands in and around their mouths, such as eating amongst the animals or even just touching their mouths directly.

COHEN: During a trip to a petting zoo outside Atlanta, we saw just that: Families purchased food, fed the animals, and then themselves. A spokesman for the petting zoo says he thinks people are overly concerned.

ART RILLING, PETTING ZOO SPOKESMAN: If you need something to worry about, if you don't have anything else, I'd be happy.

COHEN: But at this farm in Pennsylvania, near the one the Sweeneys visited, the owners are worried; and so they've turned their petting zoo into a regular zoo, with no touching. He says he doesn't want any more children to get sick -- no more children like Michael Sweeney, who nearly died after a trip to a petting zoo.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


MCMANUS: We focus on culture and politics in "Worldview" today. We journey to Belgium, but it might not look as you imagine it. Get set for a surprise as we visit a special section of Brussels -- and a special report on human rights activists around the world.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Which faces come to mind when you think of freedom fighters, people who oppose oppression and inhumanity? Fifty human rights heroes from several dozen countries are the focus of a new book and an exhibit touring the United States. Phil Hirschkorn has the story.


PHIL HIRSCHKORN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His name is anonymous, a human rights activist working in Sudan, an African country where civil unrest has displaced millions and seen civilians routinely executed. Anonymous is the only subject whose face is hidden in "Speak Truth To Power," a book profiling human rights activists around the world. An exhibit of their portraits is traveling around the United States.

The author is Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, the wife of former Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo and an activist herself for 20 years. KERRY KENNEDY CUOMO, AUTHOR, "SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER": I was so inspired by the people around the world who stand up to government oppression and face imprisonment and torture and death, the basic rights we take for granted.

HIRSCHKORN: The right to vote, promoted in Cambodia by activist Kek Galabru, the right of prisoners not to be tortured, pushed in Argentina by Juan Mendez, the right of children not to work in slave- like conditions, the mission in India of Kailash Satyarthi, or for kids not to become combat soldiers, the struggle of Abubacar Sultan in Mozambique.

KENNEDY CUOMO: I was really looking for people who are leaders, who have a constituency and who have a history of courage and who have a following.

HIRSCHKORN: Like Nobel Prize winners Desmond Tutu in South Africa, who worked to end apartheid; former Czech President Vaclav Havel, a leader for free expression; Oscar Arias Sanchez of Costa Rica, who brokered peace and free elections in Central America; and the Dalai Lama, who fights for political freedom for Tibet.

KENNEDY CUOMO: I was really looking for people who are the Martin Luther Kings of their country, people who have stood up to oppression but not, I wasn't looking for people who are victims.

HIRSCHKORN: Most of the activists depicted are not well known outside their home countries. Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir and her sister pioneered women's rights in Pakistan.

ASMA JAHANGIR, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: It gives me great pleasure when you see that you have been able to change the life of not one or two people, but a whole community.

HIRSCHKORN: Jahangir, who sits on a special United Nations commission, has survived threats and attempted physical attacks.

JAHANGIR: I don't even read the hate mail that I get. The more support you have, the less vulnerable you are. It's not a matter of being surrounded by arms, it's a matter of being surrounded by people.

HIRSCHKORN: Kerry Kennedy Cuomo hopes readers will be morally outraged by the stories and support the causes. To assist students, the publisher is distributing an education packet that describes human rights defenders, profiles local activists and lists resources. Kennedy Cuomo says the book's message is that any person can make a difference.

KENNEDY CUOMO: I hope people will say that's not right, I'm going to do something. In the human rights world, creating change doesn't come easily. It's not for people who need immediate gratification. It takes years and years and sometimes that change is hard to calculate.

HIRSCHKORN: Phil Hirschkorn, CNN NEWSROOM, New York City.


BAKHTIAR: For more on the book and the exhibit, go to the Web site Now, a few final words from Kerry Kennedy Cuomo as she talks about what the book means and who her audience is. "Speak The Truth To Power" puts power in the hands of all of us, she says.


HIRSCHKORN (voice-over): Do you have a particular target audience in mind with this book? Is it the younger generation, teenagers? I think in your forward you talk something, reference at least to your own children, what are they going to learn as they become educated? A target audience? Is it the youth of America? Who is it?

KENNEDY CUOMO: Well, you know, I think what the book says is that each person can make a difference. And so I'm hoping that there will be two outcomes. I hope that people will read these stories and take up some of their causes. I hope people will be morally outraged by the fact that there are 250 million children worldwide who are in child labor, who have to go to work instead of going to school, many of those in virtual slavery and many of those here in our own country, in the United States, over 200,000 who pick our fruit and food in our fields and who sew our clothes in sweatshops.

I hope people will say that's not right, I'm going to do something. I hope people will read about the death penalty and say that's not right, I'm going to do something about that, and all of the other issues that are covered in the book, environmental issues, etc.. But the main thing that's important to me is not the particular issues in the book, but rather that people understand in their own worlds, in their own communities, that they, too, can make a difference and that there is, to me there is something that's spiritually transformative about this book and it has to do with the capacity of the human spirit to thrive despite overwhelming odds and overwhelming evil.


WALCOTT: Belgium is one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in Europe. Its area is 11,783 square miles. That's 30,519 square kilometers. The country borders three important trading nations -- France, the Netherlands and Germany. Belgium has two main ethnic groups, a Dutch speaking people called Flemings, who live in the north, and a French-speaking people called Walloons, who live in the south. Both groups live in Brussels, the country's capital city.

Belgium is a center of economic and political activity. A number of international organizations have their headquarters there, including the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And there are unique spots which bring charm and character to Belgium's bustling capital. Visitors to this international city may be surprised to stumble upon some thriving African culture. Patricia Kelly explains.


PATRICIA KELLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Visitors could be forgiven for thinking they've stepped into a city inside Africa. The shops offer African food, African clothes, African beauty products. African music and videos are on sale here and local travel agents offer special rates to destinations throughout the African continent.

(on camera): It's actually the heart of Brussels. This is Matonge (ph), a shopping center unique in Europe for its African flavor.

(voice-over): Matonge's reputation has spread far beyond Belgium, as this tourist from South Africa can testify.

UNIDENTIFIED AFRICAN: Because it's only the one place in Europe they have a gallery for Africans. If you go to Paris, you will not find this place, no. Only here in Brussels.

KELLY: He heard about Matonge back home in Johannesburg, just before his trip to Brussels.

UNIDENTIFIED AFRICAN: Because you buy anything to eat, you do anything you want from Africa, you find here in Matonge.

KELLY: There seemed to be more hairdressing salons than anything else and a variety of styles, wigs and hair extensions on offer. Customers can have their hair braided. The ends are burnt off to seal them. This local tradeswoman came from Haiti 20 years ago and has since set up several hairdressing salons in Matonge. She also specializes in cosmetics for black hair and black skin, difficult to find elsewhere.

NICOLE JOCELYN, SALON OWNER: It's a mark, a special mark of the black people. They like to change their hair. You can see after one month you're fed up with your look, you want to have plaits or you want to have a weave on or light hair, dark hair. We change more than European or American.

KELLY: Clients in this men's salon are more likely to have their heads completely shaved, a fashion import from the United States, according to Martin, the stylist.

UNIDENTIFIED AFRICAN: If you want like Rasta, we can do it.

KELLY: Martin says curiosity attracts people of all colors, races and nationalities to Matonge. But it's predominantly a meeting point for black people.

UNIDENTIFIED AFRICAN: During Friday and Saturday, you see more people, different nationalities. They usually come to enjoy themselves because they don't have a place to feel themselves at home. That's the reason why they are usually come here in Matonge.

KELLY: Matonge is also said by those in the know to be the best place to buy wachs (ph), the colorful traditional African dress, the best quality, say shopkeepers. It lasts longer, they say, is manufactured in the Netherlands. Traditionally, we Africans, we prefer to be dressed in wachs, she says, rather than trousers or a skirt. Because it's winter we're wearing trousers, but in the summer we wear the wachs. Although at this time of the year the fashion accessory of the moment is more likely to be a plastic rain hood or an umbrella.

Patricia Kelly, CNN, Brussels.


ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show, so you choose just the program segments that fit your lesson plan.

Plus, there are discussion questions and activities. And the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming "Desk" segments. It's all at this Web address, where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy. It's free. It's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops, and neither does learning.

MCMANUS: Most mothers who give up their nine to five jobs to stay home with their children encounter similar rewards and challenges related to their decision. One of the biggest challenges is the financial hit they take. Kathy Slobogin has the story of one woman's struggle and fight for change.


KATHY SLOBOGIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We bring them flowers, send them cards and sing their praises. Mothers, the largest unpaid work force in the country.

ANN CRITTENDEN, AUTHOR: At the end of the day, motherhood is the single biggest risk factor for poverty in America.

SLOBOGIN: Ann Crittenden, author of "The Price of Motherhood," says we give mothers lip service, but very little else.

CRITTENDEN: One good example I discovered myself about two years ago. I got an estimate from the Social Security what I could expect when I retire, and I looked at the statement and it's full of zeros, and I thought, what is this? Every zero represented a year I was working for the family instead of my own career.

SLOBOGIN: Crittenden was a Pulitzer Prize nominee and a reporter for "Fortune," "Newsweek" and the "New York Times" before she had her son 17 years ago.

CRITTENDEN: It was the hardest job I'd ever had, after years of being a reporter and a writer.

SLOBOGIN: She decided to leave her job and stay home, but she wasn't prepared for what happened.

CRITTENDEN: I was invisible. My favorite story: I'm at a party, and a guy comes across the room to me and he says: "Hey, didn't you used to be Ann Crittenden?" At that point, I knew I had to find a way to write about this.

SLOBOGIN: Her son, James Henry, is now a senior in high school. Crittenden has spent the last five years documenting the gap between sentiment and reality when it comes to the value she says Americans place on motherhood.

Baby-sitters get Social Security credit for their work, says Crittenden, but not mothers. When you take into account lost earnings and savings from staying home, it adds up to what she calls a "mommy tax."

CRITTENDEN: It's now been estimated that if you have one child and you're a college graduate, your lifetime earnings will be about $1 million lower than a woman who does not have a child. That is what I call a mommy tax.

SLOBOGIN (on camera): You know the argument: women choose to have children, and if they're making sacrifices, it's their choice.

CRITTENDEN: Choosing to have a child is not just another lifestyle choice. That's also how it's treated in this country. You can have a child, you can raise a Labrador, you can decide to be a marathon runner. For society, having a child is not the same as having a pet. My dog isn't going to grow up and pay your Social Security payments. But my child is going to pay the Social Security payments of all the other people, including all the people who don't have children.

SLOBOGIN: Crittenden says respect for motherhood is one of the last challenges of the women's movement.

CRITTENDEN: We truly do have a set of institutions that keep resources out of the hands of mothers.

SLOBOGIN: This week, she urged members of Congress and their staffs to fight for things like paid parental leave and Social Security credit for mothers.

(on camera): How likely is it that any of this will happen?

CRITTENDEN: I think it's very likely if women ask for it. One thing I've been told again and again by legislators and national, in Congress and in state legislatures, they say well, we never hear from women. They don't ask for these things. I'm asking women to ask for these things because I think mothers united are a powerful political force and they've never used that power for themselves.

SLOBOGIN (voice-over): If they do, Crittenden says mothers might stop being what she calls involuntary philanthropists for the rest of society.

Kathy Slobogin, CNN, Washington.


MCMANUS: That's all for NEWSROOM Tuesday. You have a great day. We'll see you tomorrow.

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