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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

Investigators Take a Look at White Box Truck in Which Shell Casing Was Found;. An Arrest, Not Of A Suspect, But of a Discredited Witness

Aired October 18, 2002 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

AARON BROWN, HOST: Good evening again everyone.
It's been a nasty week, hasn't it? It started out nasty. Pretty much that way the whole time.

Monday night, just before we started up here, we learned of another shooting. At that time that's about all we knew. We would learn later, the next day, the ninth victim of the sniper, Linda Franklin, a cancer survivor, had been out shopping with her husband. There hasn't been a shooting since then, which would be better news if we knew why.

Theories abound. The one that comes up most often, you may have heard this one, you may have even thought of it, is the 9/11 theory. Nine people killed, two wounded. Nine plus two equals 11: 9/11. Yes, seems far-fetched, but who is discounting anything these days?

We also heard today that one terrorist in custody has told of a plot to shoot U.S. senators while they're out playing golf. We also heard today that the senate sergeant at arms gave golfing senators tips on how to avoid being shot. Once again, I'm finding humor in something that is clearly not funny. What's wrong with me?

Perhaps, like you, there's been just too much sorrow and anxiety packed in too short a time. This week also featured terrorist attacks, actually several, and an unbelievably chilling multiple murder in Baltimore we'll report on later. And least we not forget the North Korean government, one of the truly strange governments in this world, is building nuclear weapons.

Then there was this: just to prove that things not only can get worse, they will. Kirby Puckett, a true baseball hero, has been busted for sexual assault.

It has to be time for the weekend. And it will be in 58 minutes.

So The Whip begins with the latest on the sniper. Jeanne Meserve is working that for us this evening -- Jean, a headline from you tonight.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, tonight investigators are taking a good, hard look at a white box truck in which a shell casing was found. Also, an arrest, not of a suspect, but of that discredited witness -- Aaron.

BROWN: Jeanne, thank you. We'll be back to you at the top of the program.

Tonight, some strategies for staying safe. What they're doing in suburban Washington. Jason Carroll has been prowling around on that -- Jason, a headline from you.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, these are strange times in the Washington suburbs. People are dashing into supermarkets. They're ducking while they're buying gas. There is a rush to get guns. All in an effort to stay safe while a sniper is on the loose -- Aaron.

BROWN: Jason, thank you.

An FBI search today of a cargo ship in Port Everglades, Florida. John Zarrella in south Florida tonight. John, a headline from you?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Aaron, anti-terrorist task force says it was operating on a tip that this might be a cargo of interest. One piece of containerized cargo at a time is being offloaded at this hour and checked -- Aaron.

BROWN: John, thank you. We'll get the details coming up.

Also coming up in the hour ahead, a tragedy from East Baltimore. How one woman fought for her troubled neighborhood and then apparently died for it.

If you're wondering just how Saddam Hussein got each and every Iraqi to vote for him this week, we might be able to shed some light on his, well, shall we say persuasive techniques? Garrick Utley on the Don Corleone of the Middle East: tales of Saddam.

And the legacy of the singing cowboy and his beloved angels. A great way to end a very rough week. All of that in the hour ahead.

We begin with the sniper and a day that started out looking like a real lemon. Police had arrested not the sniper, not an accomplice, but a witness for allegedly making up stories about what he saw. It seemed to us the trail was getting cold, but things change and tonight police have a new piece of evidence to go on. What to make of it, we may not know until tomorrow, but we can report the development now.

So we go back to CNN's Jeanne Meserve, who joins us again from Washington. Jeanne, good evening.

MESERVE: Hi, Aaron. Tonight authorities have seized a white box truck found with a shell casing inside from a car rental agency in northern Virginia. According to one source close to the investigation, the shell casing of an undetermined caliber was discovered by an employee of that car rental agency as he was cleaning the truck.

As I say, the caliber has not been determined and so the truck and the casing have been taken to an undisclosed location for ballistic and forensic testing. We're told we won't see any results until tomorrow morning at the very earliest.

Now, at this point, of course, investigators do not know if this truck has any relationship at all to the sniper slayings. So for the time being, they are still telling the public if you have any information about a white box truck, please call us.

Meanwhile, as you mentioned, an arrest, not of the suspect, but of that witness who police say misled them about what he saw at the scene of the sniper's last shooting Monday in Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE (voice-over): Matthew Dowdy, 37, of Falls Church, Virginia, arrested and charged Friday afternoon.

ROBERT HORAN, COMMONWEALTH ATTORNEY, FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA: I'm satisfied he lied to the police in the course of the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's more than just an embellishment?

HORAN: Yes.

MESERVE: Sources close to the investigation say Dowdy told police he saw the sniper get out of a cream colored van in the Home Depot parking lot, hoist an AK-74 to his shoulder, and fire at his victim from a distance of around 30 yards.

HORAN: He said he saw the woman get shot and saw the man who did it. He couldn't have possibly done either.

MESERVE: Authorities say his rendition of events simply did not match those of other witnesses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were able to compare the statements and that was the initial determination. After that, the investigation continued on and other evidence was brought together.

MESERVE: That other evidence includes surveillance tapes of Dowdy inside the Home Depot, according to commonwealth attorney Horan. Giving false information to a police officer in the course of an investigation is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. The man heading the sniper investigation expressed some fear about the impact.

CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND POLICE: When we talk about the witness that has been proven to be not credible, we do that with great hesitation. Because we don't want other people to feel like this is about an effort by the police to credit or discredit them. We need witnesses.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: There are a lot of people connected with this investigation who are very happy to see this prosecution go forward. They are very angry that the investigation was sidetracked and they felt authorities had to send a message that this would not be tolerated -- Aaron.

BROWN: Let's go back to the truck for a second. You said that someone at the rental place spotted the casing and then called police. Do we know where, when, anything about this?

MESERVE: No. They're holding details about this very, very tightly. I do know it happened some time early this evening. I do know that it happened somewhere near Dulles Airport, or at least so I have been told by sources. But apart from that, they are keeping very quiet. One thing I was told is that they want very much not to damage the business that's involved here.

BROWN: And without blowing the source in any sense here, the source is excited, wary, can you give me a sense of the tone?

MESERVE: I can tell you that one of my sources was not particularly excited about this. They get these sorts of things, perhaps not about white box trucks and shell casings, but they get promising leads often. Several times they've thought in this investigation they were pretty hot on the trail, then those leads have simply not panned out. It is too early to say where this one is taking them, but the one source I did talk to about this said not that he's not that excited at this point.

BROWN: OK. Jeanne, thank you. We'll see what tomorrow brings on that. And we'll update the story if and as we learn more throughout the program tonight.

There was quite a moment this week when police -- in this case, police not your paranoid next door neighbor, mind you -- but the police recommended walking in a zigzag to avoid the sniper in the suburbs of Washington. The realization that what would seem utterly absurd just weeks ago is now completely understandable.

Now, in truth, we haven't seen legions of zigzaggers around suburban Washington, but residents are taking all sorts of precautions in an effort to stay safe. Or maybe, more importantly, to simply feel safer.

Once again, CNN's Jason Carroll.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT WAKEMAN, FIRST TIME GUN BUYER: I don't know much about what I'm looking for. Some pump action, I figured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For hunting or for home defense?

WAKEMAN: Home defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: $219. It holds seven rounds.

CARROLL (voice-over): Scott Wakeman (ph) is buying his first gun.

WAKEMAN: How about kick? My wife might be using it.

CARROLL: He wanted to wait to get one until his elementary school age children got older, but the sniper attacks changed everything.

(on camera): What was it about for you today coming in and buying your gun?

WAKEMAN: I suppose peace of mind is up there. I've considered purchasing a gun for some time now and this just accelerated things a little bit.

CARROLL (voice-over): Wakeman knows having to defend one's self against a sniper is as about as unlikely as being attacked by one. But the reality is the level of uncertainty is still high, so many are taking steps to try and protect themselves. Courthouses are seeing dramatic increases in applications for concealed gun permits. People like Mark Stowe deciding the time is right to get one.

MARK STOWE, GUN PERMIT APPLICANT: And I am comfortable with it. I owe it to myself and my family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are on edge, so, no, it doesn't surprise me.

CARROLL (on camera): That you're getting the calls?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

CARROLL (voice-over): Across town, at the Washington police supply store, it's not about buying a gun, but getting something to protect one's self from being shot by one.

(on camera): The number one thing people ask for again, something that has bullet proof type of protection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CARROLL: What is number two?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it.

CARROLL (voice-over): A ceramic-plated vest can cost more than $1,000, but there are less expensive forms of security. This Radio Shack store in Rockville, Maryland, can hardly keep police scanners in stock.

BOB SYLVESTER, RADIO SHACK: Right now scanners are an absolute difficult thing for us. The hand-held ones have sold out everywhere. We're trying to get them back in as quickly as possible.

CARROLL: At area gas stations, full serve at self-serve helps draw business from drivers who prefer not to get out of their cars. And for some who do get out there is a strategy. (on camera): You were at a gas station actually where people were lying down on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were two people. And I don't know if one started so the other one decided to do the same, but one morning I did the same thing. I was a little bit nervous. I live out in Ashburn (ph) right off of a couple major roads and I just crouched in between, just went like this.

CARROLL (voice-over): Police say despite the precautions some are taking it is important to remember most people in the area are safe.

MOOSE: We continue to talk to people about the fact that we can't be intimidated as Americans, but we also realize that at some point there are individual decisions. And we don't want to deny that people will make individual decisions. We encourage them to not be intimidated, to carry on with life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And even though police say most people are safe in the area, those words may not be enough to comfort people during a time, Aaron, when few feel secure.

BROWN: Jason, thank you. Jason Carroll in Washington. That's fascinating. We'll come back to the sniper story a little bit later in the program.

Now we move on to more of the news of the day and to the scene at Port Everglades in south Florida. Giant containership is being searched tonight by federal authorities, including members of an anti- terrorism unit. What they're looking for and how they came to be interested in this ship and what may or may not be on board are questions for CNN's John Zarrella. So we go back to Port Everglades for the latest -- John, good evening.

ZARRELLA: Good evening, Aaron. And boy, there are questions we're still waiting to have answered. A press conference that was scheduled at 9:00 PM Eastern Time delayed now over an hour. They thought it might happen about 10:00 PM behind me. Still waiting for that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to begin with members of the terrorism task force.

What we can tell you is that federal agents and the terrorism task force operating on a tip that they received, of course they're not telling us where they got the tip. Thought that this ship might contain a cargo of interest. That is all they will say. So the United States Coast Guard at 10:30 this morning boarded the ship before it entered Port Everglades here in Fort Lauderdale.

They escorted the ship into Port Everglades. And at that point they began a process of offloading giant containerized cargo from the ship, one giant container at a time. There are some 2,000 containers on this 900-plus foot ship. Again, they are looking for anything and everything they can on the ship. There are bomb-sniffing dogs out there. The bomb squad is on the scene. They also have radiation detection equipment, as well as equipment that they can use to infrared and look inside these containers and check the cargo. But most of that work is done by hand, Aaron.

Now, we can also tell you that this ship has already made four ports of call at U.S. ports on the East Coast: Charleston, Miami, Norfolk and Newark. The ship originated out of Panama at one point in time on its long journey, and it is out originally of a shipping company in Copenhagen, Denmark.

So, again, Aaron, waiting for a presser (ph) to begin, where hopefully we'll find out some more information. We are told that it may take a couple of days before they can get through the bulk of the container, containers on the ship, to locate what, if anything, is suspicious. One point, Aaron, to make perfectly clear, there is nothing definitive here and we had an incident here in Miami several months ago similar down at the port of Miami where they thought they had something, but fortunately it turned out to be a false alarm -- Aaron.

BROWN: People may remember this, on the anniversary of September 11 there was a ship that had come in to the port of Newark and they had detected some low level radiation. And they took it out six miles to deal with it. But here, for whatever reason, and whatever information they have, they brought it right into the port.

ZARRELLA: Right. Exactly. And the reason is that they want to be able to use the giant cranes that they have to get those containers off the ship. Again, 2,000 containers on this particular vessel. And whatever they're looking for, they certainly must believe is within one of those containers. So that is the reason why they've got to get it into port to do it.

They can't do that kind of work out at sea. And certainly, Aaron, they probably -- with whatever intelligence information they do have -- they must believe that the radiation issue is probably pretty low profile in this case or they probably would not have brought it into the port.

BROWN: And is there other activity, normal activity at the port going on around this, or have they cleared out a wide area?

ZARRELLA: Well from what we understand -- certainly around this particular area everything is still normal. There are trucking companies going in and out of the area. The airport, Fort Lauderdale Airport, is just to my left from here. And earlier at the last push about an hour ago the planes were taking off and landing, so there's been no interruption of air service here at all. And, of course, remember the I-75 incident out on Interstate 75, where they did clear traffic, reroute traffic, none of that has happened out here tonight -- Aaron.

BROWN: John, thank you very much. John Zarrella is near Fort Lauderdale tonight. Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, an inside look at the life of Saddam Hussein. But our next stop is in Baltimore. A Baltimore family, one mother's fight to keep drugs out of her neighborhood and the price she paid. This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: In a time when we seem to be dealing with all sorts of new kinds of crimes, terrorists and random killers, there is something horrifically old fashioned about the death of Angela Dawson and her five children. She died in a very nasty part of the city of Baltimore.

She died almost certainly because she defied the drug gangs and drug dealers who believe, with some reason, that the streets belong to them. She died because she wouldn't leave well enough or perhaps bad enough alone. She died a hero.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Angela Dawson wanted no more than what you want: a safe neighborhood, free of drug dealers and drug crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have a record of her calling about 50 times since June. We had a lot of activity going on there because of her information and others.

BROWN: She knew she'd become the enemy to the dealers. She pressed on. When her home was vandalized two weeks ago, she didn't give up. As a mother of six, the war on drugs was personal, and the war on drugs in Baltimore is a war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did 20 years with the New York City Police Department, and I tell my friends at NYPD that we had it easy. I've never seen anything quite like sections of Baltimore, especially this area out in the eastern district.

BROWN: But early Wednesday morning, while she and five of her children slept, their three-story home was fire bombed. Everyone inside was killed.

SEN. NATHANIEL MCFADDEN (D), BALTIMORE: I mean, it is a revolving cycle that we are going to break. We consider this an absolute terrorist attack on the community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a mother I can hear them crying for help. Mommy, help me. And you're in a helpless position and you can't help your children.

BROWN: Police moved in quickly, arresting 21-year-old Darrell Brooks (ph), a suspected dealer. He is charged with six counts of first-degree murder. It is believed that Brooks (ph) and Dawson had numerous run-ins with each other in this tough neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's going to send a message that "we own the streets," and that in fact is not true. I don't know if he thought he's going to get away with this, but he was apprehended within a day and he's going to be prosecuted and he may face the death penalty actually.

BROWN: They call this area of Baltimore the badlands, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in one of the country's most violent cities. Ironically, some believe Angela Dawson will do more in death to fight the drug problem than she was able to accomplish in life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how much impact she made while she was alive, but I know that she'll make a hell of an impact now that she has been murdered in this fashion. Because I really feel this is a tipping point for this city and I think she has not died in vain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: I hope not.

A few other stories around the country, beginning with a crash in the Pacific off the California coast. Two Navy fighter jets crashed during a training mission; all four crewmembers missing. Not clear yet whether the planes collided. The two F-18s were not carrying any weapons.

Also in California today, investigators are looking at the videotape of a near riot at a kids' football game over the weekend. They may bring charges against more of the people involved in the brawl. Two men are now in jail facing felony assault charges. My goodness. The fight happened last Saturday after a dispute between two rival teams in Pico Rivera (ph), a suburb east of downtown L.A.

And from Minneapolis, I mentioned this briefly at the top of the program tonight. Here are the ugly details. Hall of fame baseball star Kirby Puckett charged today with sexual assault and false imprisonment, accused of grabbing a woman in a bar, pulling her into the men's room, and fondling her. Police say the woman was a stranger to Mr. Puckett.

One county attorney said this: "I remember watching Kirby Puckett help the Twins win two World Series. He was a great player." But that night in that bar he was no one's hero.

Coming up on NEWSNIGHT, we'll go back to Maryland for the latest on the sniper story. That's a little bit later in the program.

Up next, a medical mystery that has parents and researchers alarmed. This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: A true medical mystery tonight, one that has left so many parents adrift and desperate for answers. It as mystery about autism, not just what causes it, but why the number of kids developing it seems to be growing nationwide, and this is especially true for some reason in the state of California. It seems that the number of cases in that state more than tripled between 1987 and 1998. So what's going on? On that question, a new study does not offer any easy answers. Joining us from Los Angeles, the co-founder of the institute that prompted the study. He is also the parent of an autistic child. Richard Rollens, good to have you with us tonight.

Just so that everyone is clear, I guess, on what we're talking about when we talk about autism, can you define it briefly for us?

RICHARD ROLLENS, CO-FOUNDER, THE M.I.N.D. INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS: Yes, Aaron. Thank you very much for having me on your show tonight. I very much appreciate it.

Autism is a neurological disorder of unknown ideologies. It severely impacts a child's ability to communicate with others and to be able to deal with social situations.

BROWN: And could it be -- OK, let me just throw out some hypotheses here. Does the study answer the question -- let's put it that way -- could it be that we are as a society, or that California in particular is simply better at diagnosing autism in children or reporting it?

ROLLENS: Well, that is an interesting question. And the study that was just produced by the M.I.N.D. Institute and was released yesterday looked at that question, looked at our 21 regional centers throughout California and -- to try to determine if that was a factor in this huge epidemic of autism that we're experiencing here in California. And they found, quite frankly, that this issue of diagnostic shift was not a factor. That, in fact, the regional centers have a 90 percent accuracy rate in diagnosing autism and this has not changed over time.

BROWN: And just one more hypothesis to either work with or shoot down. Is it possible that for some reason, perhaps because of the kind of care available in the state of California, that people with autistic children who want the best for their kids migrate there?

ROLLENS: That is another excellent question. And as part of this research study that was undertaken by the M.I.N.D. Institute they looked at that question. Are people moving to California for services? And it's a fair question.

And, again, this study showed that 90 to 95 percent of the people in our system here in California were here when their child was diagnosed with autism. So the immigration issue is not a factor for this rapidly increasing autism epidemic in California.

BROWN: Do you know -- is there enough evidence out there to answer the question, how much greater a problem -- you used the word epidemic a couple of times -- it is in the state of California compared to the rest of the country?

ROLLENS: Well, Aaron, let me tell you that here in California we've been looking at this issue for a few years now. And we have a very unique system in California of these independent regional centers that provide services to people with developmental disabilities, including autism.

And whenever organizations such as the CDC and others look at communities around the country they find a similar prevalence of autism. And that, now, is about one in 150 children, which, again, is like a 3,400 percent increase over the published rates of autism.

BROWN: Why? Anybody have a clue why?

ROLLENS: Well, we know some of the factors now that aren't causing the increase, and that's better diagnosis, finding these children for the first time, people moving to California for services and better awareness. So we can now scientifically remove those factors off the table and get down to business to find out what really is causing this autism epidemic.

BROWN: But the study doesn't answer the question, does it, why it is happening. And in that regard, there's no road map there, is there, what to do to stop it?

ROLLENS: That's correct. And, again, this is the first step. It was a pilot study that was undertaken at the request of the California legislature and Governor Gray Davis to try to get to the bottom of what's causing this huge increase in a number of these kids.

Aaron, keep in mind that for every child in California that gets diagnosed and becomes part of our developmental services system here, it costs taxpayers $2 million for every new child that gets added. We're adding nine new children a day, seven days a week, with fully diagnosed level one autism.

BROWN: Which speaks pretty clearly to the idea that we best find out what's causing it and doing something about it. And I hope we do soon. Mr. Rollens, you've been a great spokesman on this issue for a while now and with good reason. We appreciate your time tonight.

ROLLENS: Thank you very much for having me. I appreciate it.

BROWN: Thank you, sir.

Still to come on NEWSNIGHT, the late cowboy, the old cowboy and his Angels, World Series bound. That's at the end.

But first, a look at Saddam Hussein as you've never seen him before. This is NEWSNIGHT from New York.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE": I'm Lou Dobbs in Hollywood. The Dow Jones Industrial Average today up for a second straight week, up 6 percent over the past five sessions. Today, the Dow up 47 points. The Nasdaq gained 15. The S&P 500 rose five. Microsoft helped lead the markets higher. Microsoft earnings more than doubled over the past quarter.

Watch "MONEYLINE" weeknights 6:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. Now, back to NEWSNIGHT with Aaron Brown in New York.

BROWN: OK. I go to L.A., I get an In & Out burger. He gets a band and the Hollywood sign. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: A few items now from around the world, none especially savory, but neither is the world these days, as it turns out.

In the Philippines, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus in Manila, killing himself and another passenger. At least 20 others were wounded. This comes a day after two bombs went off at department stores elsewhere in the Philippines.

The hostage situation at a school in Germany is over. A 16-year- old former student gave himself up this afternoon, this after holding a teacher and a number of students at gunpoint for much of the day. The boy was asking for a million Euros and a get away car.

And in the wake of the bombing in Bali, the Indonesian government, today, passed a pair of decrees aimed at fighting terrorism. They give police greater power to arrest and interrogate suspected terrorists and allow for the death penalty for certain acts of terrorism.

Villains now: Shakespeare knew what he was doing when he wrote "Richard III." People like a hero, but are riveted by a villain. A villain, after all, is dark and complicated and, most important, might have been good, had he just made different choices.

The devil is a fallen angel. Darth Vader is a jedi gone bad. You got the idea, which brings us to a story for today that's as old as stories get, featuring a villain as bad as any around these days.

Here's CNN's Garrick Utley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice over)

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When President Saddam Hussein dances, everyone else falls into step. Such is life in Iraq. Those who have been in his presence don't forget it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOUSSEF IBRAHIM, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: A real presence, cool as a cucumber, very cold eyes, frightening eyes. There is -- you can't read anything beyond them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UTLEY: When Youssef Ibrahim met Saddam Hussein, he, like other visitors, first had to wash his hands in a chemical solution to avoid contaminating the leader with germs. Saddam Hussein is a paranoid and a puzzle.

As a young ruler, he appeared to be a progressive reformer. Western leaders courted him. As a Muslim, Saddam dutifully made the pilgrimage to mecca, but back home he crushed Islamic fundamentalists who could challenge his power. He improved the status of women, and he used the massive wealth of Iraq's oil to modernize his country. So what went wrong?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IBRAHIM: There is Saddam the madman. His hubris is unequaled, and his ego is unequaled, and he absolutely takes no advice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UTLEY: Saddam Hussein's cold, brutal side was on display at this meeting of Iraq's top officials in 1979, as he seized total power and eliminated possible rivals.

In a calm voice he claimed he had uncovered a plot. One by one he read off names. Sixty-six men were taken out of the hall; 22 were executed; the rest disappeared into prisons. Some were long-time friends and allies. With a wave of a cigar in his hand, Saddam Hussein sealed their fates. And then the tyrant wept.

No doubt, he knows the fate of those who live and rule by the sword, who are surrounded by yes men in fear of their lives. The tyrant becomes dangerously isolated, a loner. So it's not surprising that among Saddam Hussein's favorite films are said to be "The Old Man and the Sea," the story of an aging fisherman battling to catch a giant marlin to show his friends back on land that he has not lost his strength, and "The Godfather."

At age 65, there is still more of the godfather in Saddam Hussein than the old man. According to his biographers, he dyes his hair black to hide gray. He swims regularly to alleviate a bad back. Although he is known to have had mistresses, he and his wife have been married for nearly 40 years. They have two daughters and two sons.

Saddam Hussein's life has been about power and violence and death. What will he do if the United States comes gunning for him?

IBRAHIM: I think he will die with a bullet. Whether the bullet is one he puts in his own head, or somebody puts in his head, I think he will die with a bullet.

UTLEY: As he has caused so many others to die.

Garrick Utley, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: The second half of the program, lots to do. Coming up, the Angels try to win one for the singing cowboy. We'll check back with CNN's Jeanne Meserve for the latest on the Washington area sniper investigation. And Daniel Ellsberg joins us. This is NEWSNIGHT from New York.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Normally, Paula waits in the studio for this moment. It is a long day for her, but today, through the magic of videotape, here is a preview of what's coming up on "AMERICAN MORNING" on Monday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Aaron. President Bush says regime change is the ultimate goal in Iraq, but when Saddam Hussein is gone, who will replace him? We're going to take a closer look at the delicate effort to bring democracy to Iraq. That's Monday at 7:00 on "AMERICAN MORNING." Hope you'll join us then -- Aaron.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Thank you, Paula. And ahead on NEWSNIGHT, Daniel Ellsberg once called the most dangerous man in America. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: You're about to meet someone Henry Kissinger called the most dangerous man in America, who had to be stopped at all costs. And what was this most dangerous man doing that absolutely had to be stopped? He was almost single-handedly changing the course of history by revealing the truth. You have to appreciate, though, how much of a change he, himself, had to undergo on his way to changing history.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL ELLSBERG, AUTHOR, "SECRETS, A MEMOIR OF VIETNAM AND THE PENTAGON PAPERS.": It's also true that they can pretend to be in the dark.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN (voice over): Daniel Ellsberg had been an anti-Communist cold warrior for most of his adult life. He served as a marine, then went to Vietnam as a civilian analyst for the government.

In Vietnam and back home again as a high level policy consultant, privy to all sorts of secrets, he discovered two things: that the war could not be won and that the government had been lying about it to the American people systematically for decades under five presidents. And he had the proof and gave that proof to the "New York Times", among others.

It was the biggest cat ever let out of a bag anywhere; 7,000 pages of top secret documents, a vast chronology of deceit, dishonesty and duplicity.

President Richard Nixon wanted the press to stop, and for a brief period they were stopped, an extraordinary event in American history. But when the Supreme Court finally heard the case, the presses started rolling again, and much else started rolling, too.

There were questions in Congress, for instance, about why the president's men had broken into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ERLICHMAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ASSISTANT: How one learned whether Ellsberg acted alone, as a disgruntled employee of a think tank, whether he acted as a member of an international spy ring delivering secrets to a foreign embassy or just what his role was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: You'll notice the presidential assistant John Erlichman left one possibility out, that Daniel Ellsberg was a man of conscience who thought the country had been kept in the dark for far too long.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLSBERG: They had supported lies that had lied many thousands of Americans to death and millions of Vietnamese.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: The publication of the pentagon papers, as they came to be called, led to other disclosures, and they led, in their own way, to the end of a presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD M. NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And the end of a war and the end to what may well have been the most serious challenge to the First Amendment since the founding fathers wrote it all down in those days after the American Revolution.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(ON CAMERA): We came across some quotes from the president arguing for military action. Our credibility is at stake, he said. The dangers involved action is less than the danger resulting from inaction.

Creating a free and democratic nation is essential to America's security. It sounds like some of the things we've been hearing from President Bush of late, but this it was Lyndon Johnson, and the nation was Vietnam.

Daniel Ellsberg, for one, believes we risk forgetting the lessons of that terrible war as we consider the prospects of a new one in Iraq. We should add Mr. Ellsberg has a new book out "Secrets, a Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers."

We are pleased to welcome him to the program. It's nice to see you. You are a little hoarse tonight, so we'll bear with you.

I want to talk about Vietnam and the papers for a bit. Did it ever occur to you that what you were doing, as strongly as you believed it was right, might be wrong, that you might, in fact, be doing great damage to the country? That ever hit your mind?

ELLSBERG: I read the papers. I knew these documents. I was one of the first who read all of them. I'd worked for the government for 15 years as a Marine and as a consultant and in the pentagon. I knew these documents should have been made public to Congress and to the press years before. And I knew I should have done it.

BROWN: And you never thought that your wisdom and your conscience, as sharp as you are and as good as you are, that that judgment might be wrong? And that the judgment of five presidents and countless secretaries of defense and the list goes on might, in fact, have had the country's best interests in mind?

ELLSBERG: First, of course, I can always be wrong. I'm human just like those presidents. And I know I've been wrong many times before, and I'll be wrong again. There's never been a time when I was sure I was right, except that I felt pretty sure that I'd been wrong to keep my mouth shut so long when Congress was being lied into a reckless gamble, into an unnecessary war and a wrongful war.

You know, I used to be asked that question an awful lot right after the papers came out. That was 30 years ago. What gave you the right to make this decision on your own? And I used to ask myself, I wonder why I never got asked the question that I have to ask myself? What gave me the right to conceal that so long? What gave anyone in the executive branch the right, when they knew that the country was being lied into this war?

I don't think I was -- I wasn't elected. But I didn't really take -- I took an oath to uphold the constitution, and what we were doing was clearly not constitutional.

BROWN: All right. Let's fast forward and try and bring these two things together as much as they fit together. In some ways they don't. There are lots of people who oppose the president's way about doing this. But, at the same time -- we've had him on this week in fact -- who will...

ELLSBERG: You're talking about history or today?

BROWN: No, today. I'm sorry, today, in talking about Iraq.

ELLSBERG: It is very hard because I feel that I'm waking up to the world I left 30 years ago.

BROWN: But don't you -- don't you see a difference between a Vietnam of 1960 and an Iraq of today? They are not the same, are they?

ELLSBERG: Oh, no. Their language is different; religion is different. There's lots of -- actually, there are lots of differences. For example...

BROWN: No, but I mean the threat is different.

ELLSBERG: We are facing a very serious threat today from al Qaeda. According to the CIA director, George Tenet, which he -- I give him credit for saying in an unclassified letter to Congress, he said Saddam Hussein is a threat to his own people. He surely is. He is a tyrant. He's even a monster, like a lot of others, but that doesn't excuse him.

He is not a threat to us unless he is attacked. He's not behind al Qaeda, as far as the CIA can make out, and as far as the Senate Intelligence Committee can make out, and statements to the contrary by Vice President Cheney and President Bush appear to be without any basis.

BROWN: We've got about a half a minute left. Do you think there is -- is it your view then that there is some hidden agenda here?

ELLSBERG: Well, I feel confident that the reasons being given for this war by the president, the vice president and the secretary of defense, they can't be right. They're contradicted by everything that comes out from the Senate Intelligence Committee, from the CIA and so forth. So we have to look for other reasons.

That's, by the way, part of the job. That's what I did when I worked for presidents. They -- the message of my book and of the Pentagon Papers, unfortunately, is that officials, like me and my bosses, lie and conceal far more than any outsider can even imagine.

But there is another side to that. It's possible to tell the truth. The message I would like to get to people inside right now: if they feel that what the president and the vice president and the secretary of defense are deceptive of the public, are not founded on the evidence that they know passing across their desks or they know, by expertise, I would like them to consider doing what I wish I'd done in 1964 and 1965, rather than waiting five years, as I did until 1969.

They should consider going to Congress and the press and telling the truth with documents. They shouldn't do what I did, wait until the bombs are falling. That's why I think the message in my book is urgent. So urgent, in fact, that I decided to put the first chapter on the Internet tonight on Ellsberg.net. You don't have to buy the book to read that.

That tells us what is happening right now. It's about the week that Congress passed the first Tonkin Gulf Resolution, having now that -- this is the time to read it, when they've just passed the second one.

BROWN: Mr. Ellsberg, it's nice to meet you. Thanks for coming in tonight. Good luck. ELLSBERG: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you, sir. Daniel Ellsberg with us tonight. The book is called "Secrets, a Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers." And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: There are a number of World Series stories we could have done. There is the northern versus southern California World Series story. There is the will-they-pitch-to-Barry-Bonds World Series story. There is the one that "USA Today" featured, the media mogul story, the Disney-owned Angels, in a series televised by FOX.

We could have done any of these, but we chose the I-really-like- western-movies-as-a-kid story, which is to say, our World Series story is about the old cowboy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we've got something for you a little bit different.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN (voice over): For four decades, they've been better at entertaining than winning. It's not that the entertainment was always that good; it's just that the baseball was so often that bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gene Autry looking mighty proud with Angel general manager, Fred Haney, has come a long way since he and his horse champion rode the range in so many western pictures.

BROWN: Often, the biggest star was the oldest star, the old cowboy, Gene Autry, if truth to be told, couldn't pitch a lick.

Largely out of show business in 1961, Autry bought himself a major league expansion team, the other team to the famed Los Angeles Dodgers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACKIE AUTRY, GENE AUTRY'S WIDOW: Gene loved the game of baseball. He wanted his team to go to the World Series. That was his life-long dream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: But for most of the 37 years that gene Autry owned the angels they were horrible, and, more than that, they seemed jinxed.

One game away from getting to the World Series in 1982, they were the first team in baseball history to lose three playoff games in a row. In 1986, the Angels were one out away from advancing against the Red Sox. They not only lost that game, they lost the next two. And the losing pitcher, who was so close to victory, committed suicide later on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AUTRY: Over the years, people have said that this stadium might be jinxed because of some of the things that have happened to this ball club, and we thought seriously about performing an exorcism here at the stadium.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: That never happened. And this year, finally, the Angels are a winner. Long-suffering fans are not suffering now. Noise makers and rally monkeys are the hot items. And inside the stadium, there is still a player or two, a coach here and there, who remembers Gene Autry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE MADDON, BENCH COACH, CALIFORNIA ANGELS: This would have meant everything to Mr. Autry. Mr. Autry was truly Mr. Angel. He was very supportive. I remember him coming into the clubhouse all the time. He was always full of joy, basically. I mean the guy really never had a bad day, as far as I can tell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: The Autrys don't own the Angels anymore. When Gene died in 1998 his widow, Jackie, sold the team to the Disney company. And Disney treats Jackie Autry well. A private owner's box surrounded by her friends, and this year, a year in which winning has erased a lot of bad memories, she knows that most fans still adore the old cowboy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody remembers gene. Oh, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gene was a big part of the team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is in our hearts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: It's been 41 mostly un-memorable years for the California Angels, until now. and don't tell Jackie Autry that her late husband is not smiling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AUTRY: Oh, he's here. He's here. He may have had to make a stop somewhere along the line to get us to where he has today, but he's here with us today, believe me, in the clubhouse, and up here in this box as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (on camera): Mr. King tells me the series begins tomorrow. Glad you were with us. Next week, got to be better, doesn't it? We'll see you then. Until then, good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT.

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