CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
Police Are Looking at Salvadorian Man in Chandra Levy Investigation; Milwaukee Archbishop Caught in Catholic Church Scandal; Government Admits Conducting Tests Without Informed Consent
Aired May 23, 2002 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, HOST: Good evening again, I'm Aaron Brown. The news business is a strange beast. The president of the United States is about to seal a deal to reduce dramatically the nation's nuclear arsenal. The Russians will do the same thing with theirs, and we'll play it as a third section story tonight. And what's crazier, that seems about right.
We all knew this was going to happen. We have been living with the end of the Cold War for a while now. No one really worries about the Russians anymore, at least not the way we used to worry about them. Goodness, the president has a nickname for his Russian counterpart, and it's an affectionate one.
This not only would have been the lead, it would be worthy of "Breaking News" banners and "Special Reports." We'd be partying in the streets. Third section tonight. I dare say many local newscasts over the next several days will not even get around to mentioning this sort of thing.
And if you really want to feel old, and why would you, try to explain how crazy this is to a 20-year-old, who barely remembers the Berlin Wall and for whom the Cuban missile crisis was two paragraphs in high school history and a Kevin Costner movie.
These crazy days of 9/11 plus almost nine months. There is some good news to report, just doesn't ever seem to be the lead.
The whip tonight begins with a story that captivated the country for a year, the death of Chandra Levy and a tantalizing possibility. Kathleen Koch has been working the story. Kathleen, a headline, please.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, police are looking again at the case of a young Salvadoran man, who local authorities here in Washington have known about since July 1 of 2001. That's when he was arrested for attacking women joggers in Rock Creek Park.
BROWN: Kathleen, back to you very quickly.
The priest abuse story going very high up in a very large Catholic community. Jeff Flock working that story from Milwaukee, Wisconsin tonight. Jeff, the headline. JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, the headline here: Sexual assault allegations against the man who has been the archbishop here in Milwaukee for 25 years. And an even bigger headline, though, is apparently the church spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep it hushed up.
BROWN: Jeff, thank you. On to a very disturbing story out of the Pentagon tonight, this one dates back to the Cold War. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre working that. Jamie, your headline tonight.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, this is one of those stories where the government finally comes clean after 40 years about what it was doing during the dark days of the Cold War, admitting that U.S. military personnel conducted tests with deadly nerve agents and killer germs without the kind of informed consent we'd expect today. No evidence anyone was harmed, but veterans are suspicious, especially since it took the Pentagon so long to tell the whole story -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jamie, thank you. Back with all of you shortly. A lot more coming up on the program. We'll talk with half of the odd couple, touring Africa together, Bono of U2. The other half on the tour, of course, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill. Bono's thoughts on solving the problems of Africa -- and say what you want about celebrity, this guy, as you'll hear, has done his homework.
And tonight, we'll tip a straw hat to the man who could humble virtually anyone on the links. Even Tiger has to admire slamming Sammy Snead, who died today.
All that and more in the hour ahead. We begin with Chandra Levy. At this point, it is not absolutely, positively, 100 percent certain we do have a murder case on our hands. There is still medical work to be done to determine the cause of death before that is certain.
But clearly that is how police are proceeding. They've turned their attention to a man already serving time for assaulting women in the park where Chandra Levy's body was found yesterday. Here again, CNN's Kathleen Koch.
KOCH (voice over): With anthropologists and archaeologists brought in to examine the crime scene, police are now particularly interested in two incidents that occurred elsewhere in Rock Creek Park. One on May 14, 2001, two weeks after Chandra Levy disappeared; the other six weeks later.
In both instances, a 20-year-old Salvadoran laborer wielding a knife ran up behind women joggers and wrestled them to the ground. He said he was trying to steal their Walkman headsets.
SERGEANT SCOTT FEAR, U.S. PARK POLICE: The United States Park Police caught him 45 minutes after the second assault, and he was convicted of those assaults. KOCH (on camera): Have police investigating the Chandra Levy case talked to the suspect?
FEAR: Those cases were most definitely turned over to the Metropolitan Police Department and they are aware of those cases.
KOCH: Ingmar Guandique is now in prison, and D.C. police say they talked to him last summer about Levy's disappearance.
CHIEF CHARLES RAMSEY, D.C. POLICE: We plan to perhaps visit again and talk to him once more.
KOCH: But not since yesterday?
RAMSEY: But not since yesterday.
KOCH (voice-over): In impact statements, one victim called Guandique, quote, "a bold and practiced attacker. The other said she believed he was, quote, "sick, and would continue to attack women."
In sentencing Guandique to 10 ten years in prison, the judge said this, quote, "did not resemble simple robberies," characterizing his behavior as predatory, and suggesting that the way he stalked and physically confronted his victims made him "extremely dangerous."
But the manager of the apartments where Guandique lived, also a family friend, called him, quote, "a really good kid, a quiet kid," that is until May 7, 2001 when Sheila Crews (ph) who didn't want to appear on camera said, quote, "All of a sudden he fell apart, breaking into a basement apartment in the building."
Despite all this and the fact that Levy like the other women was jogging alone in the park wearing a Walkman, police warn against jumping to conclusions.
RAMSEY: We can't make the leap from that to anything to do with Chandra Levy. First we have to determine if, in fact, she was murdered.
KOCH: Now police have been here on scene since dawn. There are a number of police recruits, cadets who scoured this area for hours around midday. We've had FBI agents here, and Aaron, they're looking for clues. They have marked this area off, basically like an archaeological dig. They have tiny flags that mark the spots where important evidence has been found.
Some of the evidence they've located, a USC sweatshirt that belonged to Chandra Levy, a leotard, some jogging shoes. But they're going to be here for several more days, and the medical examiner is saying he's waiting for more bone fragments, more really to work with before he decides just what caused her death. Back to you, Aaron.
BROWN: All right, let me start there then. Are they not yet certain, based on what they have, that they can determine a cause of death?
KOCH: Aaron, they're saying that it could really take some time. Obviously, all we have are bone fragments here, bits and pieces. We're told that there is no tissue left, that there is no hair left, so they're saying that they believe that they will be able to determine a cause, but again, it certainly won't come in the next few days and it might take weeks.
BROWN: And when you talk about this area that they're working in the park, how large an area are we talking about? And in the same vein, how large a park are we talking about?
KOCH: It is a very large park that stretches -- runs north and south through Northwest Washington, D.C. Many hundreds of acres, not exactly sure of the precise size, but this crime scene is very large.
From what I can see taped off, as far as the eye can see in this area, all up and down this block, and it's a very rugged location. The hill goes up sharply, it dips down sharply, and they say that her body was found just on the edge of a cliff in a very, very again remote area, very difficult to get to.
BROWN: Kathleen, thank you. Kathleen Koch who's been working the Chandra Levy story for us tonight.
What drove the Levy story for so long was in part at least that a powerful man, a congressman, took advantage of a young woman by engaging in an affair.
That, of course, is in many ways the same dynamic that drives the priest abuse scandal, that men with power and position took advantage of young men, in this case, or boys, for sex. That scandal appears to have claimed yet another ranking church official tonight, the archbishop of Milwaukee. He has asked for early retirement after it became known that he and the church paid more than $400,000 in what appears to be, appears to be hush money. Here's CNN's Jeff Flock.
FLOCK (voice-over): A spokesman reads the words of one of the most articulate and liberal leaders of the American Catholic Church.
He's responding to allegations that Rembert Weakland, archbishop of Milwaukee for a quarter century sexually assaulted this man, Paul Marcoux, seen here in an educational church video he produced. The assault allegedly took place 20 years ago, but there's evidence that more recently the church paid $450,000 to keep it quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to say, shame on him.
FLOCK: Catholic callers to Charlie Sykes Talk Radio show are enraged.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The hair on the back of my neck just absolutely stood up. I'm just sick to my stomach about this. I feel completely betrayed. CHARLIE SYKES, WTMJ AM RADIO: Clearly there's a pattern here of secrecy, of trying to keep it quiet, of using the church resources to protect somebody in a position of great power, and I think that's really why this story has gone nuclear, at least here in the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
FLOCK: They were already angry at Weakland here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Japan, they used to commit suicide but you don't even resign. How disgraceful.
FLOCK: A listening session on priest sex abuse last week before all of this broke, including a handwritten letter CNN has obtained, allegedly written by Weakland to Marcoux in 1980, in which Weakland refers to first paying $14,000 of his own money. It is signed, "I love you."
In response to apparent pleas for the archdiocese to pay more, Weakland writes: "I consider all that church money a sacred trust. It represents the offerings of the faithful and I must be accountable to them for how it's all spent."
But a settlement, apparently signed by Weakland, shows that after allegations of priest sex abuse began to become big news, the church did pay the $450,000 in apparent hush money to settle Marcoux's claims. In his statement today, Weakland doesn't deny the payment, but says:
JERRY TOPCZEWSKI, ARCHDIOCESE OF MILWAUKEE SPOKESMAN: Through my 25 years as bishop, I have handed over to the archdiocese money obtained by my lectures and writings together with other honoraria. Cumulatively, those monies far exceed any settlement amount.
PETER ISELY, SURVIVORS NETWORK FOR ABUSE BY PRIESTS: If I go hear Mother Teresa, you know I'm not expecting my money to go to cover up some crime or some misconduct or whatever.
FLOCK: Aaron, if you think Archbishop Weakland ought to resign, you're too late. He already has, but not because of this. When you get to be 75 and you're an archbishop in the Catholic Church, the church law says that you have to submit your resignation to the pope. Archbishop Weakland did that last week. The pope has not yet acted on it, but today Archbishop Weakland asked the Vatican to speed up the process of finding a replacement -- Aaron.
BROWN: OK, let me just -- I want to make sure I understand something here. There is no question the money, the $450,000 was paid, correct?
FLOCK: The church hasn't admitted it, but it seems clear there is a settlement floating around out there that the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" has obtained. It appears to be signed by Weakland, yes.
BROWN: And the church spokesman talks about these other moneys, the honoraria and the rest. What do they say that money was spent for?
FLOCK: They say that he brought this money into the church, at least $450,000 or more, so that he feels as though, well I brought the money into the church anyway, so if I paid it out then we're square. That's the way he says.
BROWN: I got that part. I'm just trying, do they acknowledge that it was paid to the accuser here and that it was paid to settle at least a claim of sex abuse? Do they acknowledge that?
FLOCK: No. They haven't said that publicly.
FLOCK: Although they didn't deny it in the statement that he read today.
BROWN: Got it. Jeff, thank you. They don't make it easy sometimes. Thank you very much, Jeff Flock in Milwaukee tonight.
On to the Middle East, where we are sad to say the rough-out lines of a story we brought you last night apply again tonight. The place is different, but the common denominator the same. It's violence.
A car bomb exploded today as it was charging toward the entrance of a Tel Aviv nightclub, packed with about 100 people. A security guard opened fire on the car, setting off several explosions outside a disco, one Israeli wounded, two others suffered shock.
Another memo from another FBI agent, a field agent, raising more embarrassing questions about 9/11 and what might have been. Coleen Rowley who's the chief counsel in the FBI offices in Minneapolis wrote this letter last Tuesday to the FBI Director.
It reportedly lays out mistakes made after Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested in Minneapolis last summer on immigration charges. The request to look into Moussaoui's questionable activities were ignored by bureau headquarters in Washington and that efforts to get a search warrant to look through his computer hard drive were botched.
Rowley has not said anything about the details of the letter. The Senate Intelligence Committee is looking into this. Today the FBI director asked for an internal investigation.
And one other note, tomorrow a joint Senate-House Committee will announce that it will begin holding public hearings into what happened on 9/11. Those hearings begin the first week in June. It will be an interesting summer.
There may be a good deal less trouble making the case against the so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, setting aside for a moment he was virtually caught in the act. He apparently made two concessions, one to lawmen and the other to his mother two days before he boarded his flight to, in Paris rather. Reporting for us tonight, Jeanne Meserve.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the U.S. bombing of the Taliban in Afghanistan that prompted Richard Reid, the alleged shoe bomber, to choose an American target, according to a memorandum filed by prosecutors.
In interviews with law enforcement after his arrest, Reid said by attacking an airliner during the holiday season, he hoped to maximize damage to the U.S. economy.
In an e-mail to his mother dated December 20, just two days before the attempted bombing of Flight 63, Reid wrote: "What I am doing is part of the ongoing war between Islam and disbelief, and as such a duty upon me as a Muslim."
Forwarding a document he called his will, Reid goes on to say he isn't doing this out of ignorance or a desire to die, but as a duty to "help remove the oppressive American forces from the Muslim land, and that this is the only way for us to do so."
The court document details Reid's travels in July and August of last year, through Belgium, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan. The itinerary appears to confirm that Reid and Abdul Ra'uff are one and the same.
Ra'uff is the al Qaeda scout whose movements were documented on a computer purchased by the "Wall Street Journal" in Afghanistan.
MATT LEVITT, TERRORISM EXPERT: It seems to me likely that this was something of a test mission for him. Give this person a set of simple assignments. See if he'll carry them out.
MESERVE: The memorandum says Reid traveled again to Pakistan on November 20 and from there to Belgium, before spending $1,800 on his ticket on Flight 63.
The document confirms that in the explosive device hidden in Reid's shoes, investigators found a hair and a palm print that do not belong to Reid.
MESERVE (on camera): These findings confirm that Reid had co- conspirators but who they were, how many there were, and how important they were are among the remaining mysteries. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Much more ahead on the program tonight. A little later, we'll talk with former Deputy Secretary of State Talbott about the president's trip to Russia. Up next, the Pentagon reveals information about nerve gas tests that impacted U.S. servicemen more than a generation ago. This is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: We seem to have the Cold War on our minds this week. The opening tonight, we began the program the other night with a bit of nostalgia for the Cold War and a simpler time it was. Perhaps we spoke too lightly and too soon.
That simpler time was ruled by a simple fear that we or they could annihilate the planet. That fear made them and us do some things that in the light of today, at least, look pretty nasty.
Today we learned about one of those things, testing that may have exposed hundreds of U.S. servicemen to chemical and biological agents. CNN's Jamie McIntyre tonight at the Pentagon, Jamie.
MCINTYRE: Well, Aaron, up until now the Pentagon said these tests conducted between 1963 and 1970 at the height of the Cold War involved only harmless substances designed to simulate how chemical or biological agents could spread.
But today, the Pentagon said that a review of classified documents revealed that in some cases, actual nerve gas or deadly germs were used in experiments to see how vulnerable U.S. Navy ships were to a chem-bio attack.
The Pentagon stresses that so far as investigators could determine, all of the military personnel involved in conducting these tests were protected and none were exposed to deadly sarin or VX nerve gas.
Pentagon officials say the personnel involved, mostly crews of U.S. Navy ships, were attacked, often sprayed by aircraft with simulated or sometimes real chemical or biological agents, but they insist that the sailors were not guinea pigs. In cases where actual exposure was tested, monkeys not humans were used.
The investigation began in the summer of 2000, as a result of complaints from some veterans that they were suffering breathing problems or other ailments because of exposure they thought to these tests.
Now all together, some 2,700 military personnel were involved in 12 separate tests. That was called Project Shad. That's short for Shipboard Hazard and Defense.
Of those, about 600 or so are thought to be alive. Those 600 are now getting letters to notify them of the findings and offer them a full medical evaluation.
Pentagon officials concede that by today's standards, the personnel involved were not adequately informed of what they were doing or the potential risks that were involved, but they insist they have no evidence at this point that anybody was actually harmed by these tests. Aaron.
BROWN: OK, by today's standards, and that's a fair and important point to make. You can only do what you know at the time. I was looking through some of the paperwork on this tonight, Jamie. Have all of the -- has all of the paper come out on this or are there more tests that are still being -- that are still classified and that we still don't know about?
MCINTYRE: Well, according to the classified documents, there were a total of 103 tests that were scheduled. Now the Pentagon went back and it's a difficult process because a lot of these records are sort of incomplete.
They're very hard to find, but they've only been able to document that 12 tests were actually done and of those 12 tests, it was just today they realized -- revealed that some of those actually used real nerve agents and real biological agents.
But they insist nobody died at the time, nobody got sick at the time, and the Pentagon thinks it's unlikely that any health effects suffered today, 40 years or 30 years later, are related to that.
But they're willing to give anybody the benefit of the doubt and, of course, clearly in retrospect, these service members should have been told what it was that they were involved in, should have had a clear idea, at least they'd know.
Now they have to come back to the Veteran's Administration if they have a health problem and try to see if it's connected to it and it's obviously a long time after the fact.
BROWN: It is indeed. Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon tonight, thank you very much. Denny Williams has been writing extensively on veterans' health issues, including this one, the Gulf War Syndrome, and the controversy over the anthrax vaccine. He's a reporter for the Hartford Courant. He joins us tonight from New Haven, Connecticut. Nice to see you, Denny, thank you for joining us.
THOMAS WILLIAMS, HARTFORD COURANT: Good evening.
BROWN: You, I assume were able to hear and have been listening in.
BROWN: Any evidence that you have that anyone is, in fact, sick from this?
WILLIAMS: We've talked to veterans. We interviewed veterans on this and there definitely are some veterans who are very ill as a result. Now I say as a result, obviously they can't tell you. They have to be examined by the VA and that's the big question.
When you have sarin and VX, as they've talked about today, you need to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by the VA really right away and in this case, they weren't. Yes, we've talked to people who have, they believe, sicknesses from this.
There also was a VA study, which was done which the VA now says was not enough people, which indicated that these veterans were dying or 84 of these veterans were dying at a three times the rate of other people in the general population from respiratory and neurological problems. BROWN: And obvious, I suppose, researchers question is there anything else they have in common that might contribute to that?
WILLIAMS: I'm sorry, that they have in common?
BROWN: Yes, I mean you have this pool of people who are on these ships and they seem to be dying at a rate faster than -- of respiratory problems at a rate faster than the general population. Is there anything else they have in common that might be causing that, or is this the only thing, that they were on these ships?
WILLIAMS: Well when they were doing the study and the VA says this is a preliminary study. They want to have the Institute of Medicine do a more complete study. You know they were basically concentrating on you know what they died from, focusing on these 84 or 86 people, and they found that they had these respiratory and neurological problems, which can be definitely related to nerve gas.
BROWN: Has it been tough getting the information out of the Pentagon?
WILLIAMS: Oh, yes. Jack Alderson (ph), who's one of the veterans, has been working for at least seven years to try to get this information, and he's had a very, very hard time.
He finally has had some success after he got a hold of CBS and then later he got a hold of the Courant, and as well he's gotten a hold of Congressman Mike Thompson from California and some pressure has been put on and now some of the information has been put out.
Today was the first time they identified or at least sent to 600 veterans from the past tests that were simulates, notifications that they were exposed, this week. That's the first time after seven years of work from Jack Alderson and other veterans.
BROWN: Is it your knowledge, is it your belief, do you suspect there is more here to come?
WILLIAMS: Oh, yes. There's a lot more to come because as you talked about earlier, there's a number of other tests that they have not, you know, they've not gotten all the information on and there could be hundreds of thousands of people involved here. No one knows yet. No one knows yet.
BROWN: Why would you think hundreds of thousands?
WILLIAMS: Because these tests, there were hundreds of tests and they're not just -- they don't just -- they're not just testing a few people here. I'm saying -- I'm using the wrong word. The Pentagon says these are not tests, of course, of the people. They were tests of the animals.
WILLIAMS: And tests of the ship. Well, what I'm saying is involved in these tests were a lot more than just a few hundred people as far as I know. The Vietnam Veterans of America have said that they believe that there may be hundreds of thousands involved. Now that remains to be seen.
BROWN: Denny, thanks. This is an interesting story to have been working on for a while and I suspect you'll be pretty busy in the days ahead. Thanks for joining us.
WILLIAMS: OK, thank you.
BROWN: Denny Williams of the Hartford Courant, who's been working that story. Later on NEWSNIGHT, we'll talk to Bono about his trip to Africa. That's coming up in the second half hour of the program.
Up next, the president goes to Russia to sign a new arms deal. We'll talk with Strobe Talbott about what it all means. This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.
BROWN: As we said earlier in another time, this would not have been just the lead story. It'd be a huge story. An American president landing in Moscow for a summit. There would have been a treaty at stake, perhaps to cap the number of nuclear warheads at 12,000 or so each. Then probably, the two sides would disagree on something, and the president would go home. And the Cold War would rage on.
Simpler now. Now, it's just George on his way to see Vladimir, to sign an agreement to cut nuclear arsenals by two-thirds, give or take. No treaty even necessary. A handshake would do just fine. Thank you. The treaty runs to just three pages. The two leaders are, we're told at least, good friends. Which doesn't, of course, mean there aren't issues between the countries, chief among them, Russia's relationship with Iran, but there are others, too.
We're joined tonight to talk about the issues and the moment with Strobe Talbott, who was President Clinton's adviser on all things Russian. He joins us tonight from Cleveland.
It's nice to see you.
STROBE TALBOTT, FMR. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: Thanks, Aaron.
BROWN: A kind of a baseline question, I suppose. How stable is the Russian democracy these days? Are there forces in Russia who are not happy with how things are going?
TALBOTT: Absolutely. There are forces in Russia that are nostalgic for the old Soviet Union. Older people in Russia question whether they're better off now that the Soviet Union is in the past. I think there's some contradictions in Vladimir Putin's own personality in this regard.
BROWN: And are they formidable forces or are they just, you know, some guy sitting on the sidelines with no strings to pull and no power?
TALBOTT: No, I think they have real influence. It's been nip and tuck for the last 10 or 12 years. During the Clinton administration, we saw some pretty hairy moments. I think though, overall, the things have been moving in a favorable direction, but not at the same pace, not in a straight line. It's been a little bit of a zigzag. And it's certainly in the interest of the United States to use our influence to try to keep them moving in the direction of being a mature democracy in due course.
BROWN: You wrote that you see Russia not as pro-Western, but simply as pro-Russian. In practical terms, what does that mean? Is that where the Iran problem comes in, for example?
TALBOTT: Well, the Iran problem, which of course, casts a little bit of a shadow over the summit before President Bush even got there, is one of the more serious issues, one that the previous administration dealt with for eight years, and that President Bush has got his work cut out for him on.
I mean, Russia is being very, very stupid with regard to transfer of dangerous technology, nuclear technology, ballistic technology to Iran. Iran is a lot closer to Russia than it is to United States. It still has a radical Islamist regime. Lord knows what kind of a regime that will be at the time that Iran actually has nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them. That day will becoming sooner, as a result of Russian assistance. And yet, there are forces, this goes back to your question, Aaron, who are really kind of a residue of the old Soviet military industrial complex, who are now trying to make a fast buck off of selling this stuff to Iran.
BROWN: And it is about money, in a sense?
TALBOTT: It's about money. But I suspect it's also about geopolitics.
TALBOTT: I think there are some people in Russia in the military, in the intelligence services, and some of the more conservative parts of the political elite, who figure that sooner or later, the United States and Iran are going to make up. And so, they would like to hedge against that by, as it were, buying the goodwill and friendship of Iran by making Russia the indispensable supplier of this kind of material. I don't think that's very logical. It really will undermine Russia's own security. And it also constitutes, of course, an existential threat to Israel, as well as a threat to American interest.
BROWN: Well, I'm trying to get two more things in if I can. Candidate Bush was pretty critical of President Clinton in the kind of relationship he had with then President Yeltsin, and to a degree to policy matters. How different are the policies of the two administrations?
TALBOTT: They started off, as you indicate in your question Aaron, as being very far apart. President Bush came into office, vowing in effect to downgrade Russia, and certainly to pay less attention to the personal relationship between the top guy and the Kremlin and the president of the United States. That began to change last year in the summer with the first summit meeting between the two leaders. And then on September 11, President Putin moved very quickly to kind of seize on that as an opportunity to accelerate Russia's alignment with the West.
He was the first foreign leader to call President Bush and offer, not just sympathy, but support. I think President Bush has very much appreciated that, and now has worked hard. This is his fourth summit with President Putin, to develop a highly personalized relationship quite like the one that President Clinton had with President Yeltsin and indeed, the elder President Bush had with both Yeltsin and Gorbachev before that.
BROWN: There are at least, that I can think of, a dozen more questions we could ask. And we're out of time. As this trip gets -- moves along, we'll come back and talk about the rest, including 9/11. It's nice to talk to you.
TALBOTT: Thanks, Aaron.
BROWN: Thank you very much, Strobe Talbott tonight from Cleveland.
Later in the hour, Bono and Africa and the Secretary of the Treasury. Up next, the Skakel murder trial. This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.
BROWN: We said a week or so ago we intended to check in on the Skakel murder trial from time to time. And tonight is the time. Much has happened since we last talked about it. The prosecution, which seemed to stumble out of the gate, built a case. Jurors will decide how good a case it is, but clearly there is a case there for the defense to attack. And that's what's been happening lately.
Michael Skakel's lawyers, who have already told the jurors there are at least two other plausible suspects that police considered, began attacking prosecution witnesses. And again today, the name Kennedy was heard in the court. Our legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin is here.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, Aaron.
BROWN: Let's go back a bit to where we ended our last conversation. You were not exactly dazzled by the opening moments in the prosecution case. Got better as it went?
TOOBIN: It did get better, because the only evidence really tying Michael Skakel to this murder came at the end of the prosecution case. And it was a series of witnesses who said that at various times over the past 26 years, Michael Skakel has sort of acknowledged responsibility for this murder, ranging from one witness who said that Michael Skakel said I did it, and I'm going to get away because I'm a Kennedy. And others who said, well, he didn't know whether he did it or not.
BROWN: Forgive my naivete.
TOOBIN: OK, yes.
BROWN: But I'm one of the people who thinks if you commit a murder, you probably know it?
TOOBIN: Well, but that was the thing. He said, he was in an alcoholic blackout...
TOOBIN: ...he claims. So he really didn't really remember. It's -- I mean, but I mean, you also might think if you commit a murder, you don't go bragging about it.
BROWN: Well, I wouldn't think that, too.
TOOBIN: So logic doesn't always play into this entirely.
BROWN: Thank you for reminding me the same. There was -- there have been accusations that Mr. Skakel has been misbehaving a bit.
TOOBIN: Well, you know, it's funny. You know, in trials they're all kind a little like theater. And the defendant is always -- well the defendant's always the lead. And you and I shared the Simpson case. And you know, you couldn't keep your eyes off O.J. in that courtroom. I covered the Terry Nichols trial in the Oklahoma City case. You could barely tell he was there, he was such a meek and retiring figure.
Skakel is more in the Simpson type. He's got a big red face. His suits don't fit. He's busting out of them. He's got a mess of hair. And he interacts with the witnesses. And one the witnesses he said, "Good job." He appeared to say good job to his cousin who testified. One of the jurors made a comment about that to another juror, who said, "Did you hear what he said?" That juror turned in the other juror to the judge. And today, all morning, there was a hearing about whether the juror who made a comment about this should be thrown off the jury.
BROWN: Because jurors are not supposed to talk about the case until it's done?
TOOBIN: Exactly. And the judge said no. Keep him on the case. But it just shows, they were paying a lot of attention to the defense.
BROWN: There are two other, I described them as plausible suspects. I'm not sure that's precisely correct, but that's generally how the defense has presented them.
BROWN: Tom Skakel, the brother.
BROWN: And then there was the tutor, right?
TOOBIN: Kenneth Little.
BROWN: Now when last we talked, there was some question about whether the tutor's alleged confession, or something approximating that.
TOOBIN: Another guy with an alcoholic blackout.
BROWN: Yes, got before the jury. Did he get before the jury?
TOOBIN: The whole subject of whether Ken Littleton did or did not confess consumed two full days of the trial. So the jury has certainly had their fill. It is possible to conclude from the evidence that he did confess. It's also possible to conclude that he didn't. It was an extremely time consuming and bizarre episode. But I can't imagine it helped the prosecution at all, to spend all this time on another suspect.
BROWN: We've got a minute left. Tell me where we are and where we're headed?
TOOBIN: The defense case is almost finished. The two most important witnesses today were members of the Elan School, a place where supposedly Skakel made these confessions. They said, these defense witnesses, that he was compelled to confess to get people to leave him alone. It's a violent place, this Elan School. And they said he was harassed, even beaten up, until he acknowledged responsibility for this murder. So it was a very helpful witnesses for the defense.
Defense case will probably wrap up beginning of next week, maybe Tuesday. Possibly a rebuttal case. Looks like summation's middle of next week.
BROWN: Did I tell you I've been summoned for jury duty?
TOOBIN: Oh, yes?
TOOBIN: Try to get on a short trial.
BROWN: Thank you. I'm going to work two jobs that week. Thank you, Jeffrey. We'll talk some more.
And later on NEWSNIGHT, slamming Sammy Snead. Up next, you know what I'm going to say right now, don't you? Yes, I'm going to say, up next, Bono and his tour of Africa. This is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: There's a category of people, a pretty exclusive one, for those we call the celebrity do-gooder. The stereotype goes about like this. An earnest know-nothing reads an article or two from a earnest magazine and promotes a cause without any of the subtlety needed to advance it. A lot of people want to put Bono in this category, including a lot of policy makers.
The only difference is that Bono would actually read reports like, "Treasury strengthens transparency on global standards." And actually convinced the author that he understood it. The author being the Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill, who's on a 10-day tour of Africa with Bono. Each trying together, to advance some solutions to poverty, disease, debt. Therefore no other better phrase are simply plaguing an entire continent.
It is easy to dismiss this, as some people did upon hearing the promo that ran this afternoon. I suspect they won't be quite so dismissive after hearing what the U2 singer had to say when we talked with him from Pretoria this afternoon.
BROWN: Do you think it's possible, given the kind of attention all the camera crews, the press that's along, for him to really get a sense of the dimensions of the problems in Africa?
BONO, SINGER, U2: Yes. I mean that's it. But I'll tell you what. It's amazing thing though, just being here, what it means, to people. I mean, we're riding around in Ghana, in Akra. And people are coming out on the streets. And they're waving at this motorcade going by. And I can tell you, they're not -- our records aren't played on the radio over here. They're waving at the United States and the U.S. Treasury. When we go north into Muslim territory, I'm seeing people coming out of their houses and waving. And why is that?
I'll tell you why. Because we're there. And because these people don't feel abandoned. And they feel there's chance for new relationship with America, and with Europe and with sub Saharan Africa. Now I tell you what. If we come back in five years and we've let these people down, and we've ignored the AIDS emergency, they'd be throwing rocks at us. And who could blame them?
BROWN: Did you talk about AIDS today with the government of South Africa, because as you know, the government of South Africa seems to have some difficulty grasping this issue.
BONO: They're turning the corner on AIDS. Yes, we spoke with the government today. I spoke with President Mbeki and with his finance minister. And Mbeki has a great idea, though. Outside of criticisms for his lack of leadership on AIDS, he has shown great leadership on how to deal with the African problem and the crisis on that continent.
And he has this thing called NEPAD, which is a New Partnership with America and Europe. And we're really hoping that in the next year, there can be a real historic initiative, a whole new way of looking at this problem. And by that, I mean, with good governments and anti-corruption laws, we treat them. We listen to them. We treat them fairly and equally.
And that includes trade, because they have not had free trade a lot of the times. They've had very unfair trade. And also on the debt burden, you know, if they show promise, and they show that we can deal with them, they'll -- then we drop their debts. This is the sort of things we're talking about.
BROWN: These sorts of trips create certain expectations. Best case, what would you like from the U.S. government resulting from this trip?
BONO: Well, look, I believe the American people are generous people. They don't like to hear and to discover that on the list of the 22 wealthiest countries in the world, they are giving the least to the poorest country in the world. They don't want that.
But I have to say there's a reason. Some people call it a reason, some people call it an excuse. But the reasons offered is that aid in the past has been not as effective as it should be. That's what the -- Paul O'Neill is saying. I'm showing him effective aid. I believe if we show Americans that for very little money, they can transform the lives. Indeed, save the lives of hundreds and thousands of people, millions of people.
And you know, this is partly what's going on in Washington this week. There's a bill Senator Helms has put forward. $500 million. There's another one Senator Durbin put forward for $700 million to deal with this emergency in the emergency supplemental. If we are to lose that kind of money, it's more than a scandal. It's destruction of lives. And I'm confident that people like Senator Frist and others that are really leading the way on the AIDS emergency will prevail. And I know that the White House is listening here. And I know that.
BROWN: Bono, we wish you nothing -- we wish you nothing but great success. Thanks for your time today. Travel safely.
BONO: I'm sorry for ranting, but if you were here, you'd be ranting too, Aaron. Thanks for your coverage. Bye.
BROWN: Bye, thank you.
BROWN: Our good-bye earlier this afternoon. And we'll wrap it up for the night with one of the great golfers and great characters the sport has ever produced, slamming Sammy Snead in just a moment.
BROWN: Finally from us tonight, a legend. Samuel Jackson Snead died today at the age of 89. You're thinking you don't know any Samuel Jackson Snead. Oh, I think you do.
SAMUEL JACKSON SNEAD: And it's funny, I get up on the tee. And these young bucks says, "Hey, how many shots are you giving me?"
BROWN (voice-over): "Slammin' Sammy Snead," that's was what he was called. And in many ways, he was an American original, straw hat and all.
More then than, then even now, golf was a rich man's sport. Sam Snead was a caddy, a child of West Virginia who learned the game with tree branches and stones. And it can be said he learned it pretty well.
He won 81 PGA championships. No one has ever won more. He won three Masters, perhaps the most coveted title in the game. He teed it up in the Masters for the first time in '37, and for final time just last month. He never missed a one. Not one. This year, it was just ceremony, one shot off the first tee. And it was a forgettable shot, he hit a spectator.
But what wasn't forgettable, and you needn't be a golfer to get it, was that swing. So sweet and so perfect.
So tonight, up there somewhere, Hogan and Sarazen (ph) and Bobby Jones have a fourth, Samuel Jackson Snead. He's the one with the straw hat and the very, very, sweet swing.
BROWN: And that's our report for tonight. If you go to our web site, it's cnn.com. And click on the NEWSNIGHT page, you'll see this little thing that allows you to sign up off our e-mail. And all you have to do is give us a ton of personal information, which we will protect as if it were our own, in which actually we consider our own. And we'll send you a cool letter every day, just to you. Do that. And we'll see you tomorrow. Good night.
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