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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

Israelis Gamble on Target of Next Suicide Bombing; Manhunt Underway in Kenya for Hotel Bombers

Aired November 30, 2002 - 22:00   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, GUEST HOST: Good evening again, everyone. We came across a story about an illegal gambling operation in Israel and shows just how ingrained terror really is in the minds and lives of Israelis. In this game, you place bets -- the minimum is 10 shekels -- on just where the next terror attack will occur.
The last we checked, Jerusalem was the heavy favorite. The long shot was a certain high-rise in Tel Aviv. The odds on the high-rise: 15 to 1.

You can imagine the odds on an attack on Mombasa, Kenya.

Israelis are today getting used to the idea that nowhere are they safe from terror. We'll remember their victims tonight.

We also want to say something about Kenya. After all, it is Kenya that lost more than anyone else in the attack yesterday.

Someone today e-mailed us, a Kenyan saying when two elephants fight, it goes, the grass is the sufferer. It is, of course, the second time in four years Kenyans have suffered. Caught in a battle, if you can call it a battle, that didn't really involve Kenya at all.

So tonight we remember Israel's loss and Kenya's as well. And so it is the Kenya attacks that lead off the whip for us.

Sheila MacVicar in Mombasa. Sheila, the headline?

SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An intensive manhunt underway here in Kenya. A senior U.S. administration official says the two attacks are the work of Al Qaeda and an affiliated group based in Somalia.

COOPER: In Israel, the victims and the wounded making the journey home. Matthew Chance is in Jerusalem. Matthew, the headline.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Israeli military aircraft were airlifted Israel's dead and injured out of Kenya, along with more than 200 Israeli tourists.

As grieving relatives here in Israel prepare to bury their dead from attacks on Thursday, attacks in Mombasa, attacks here in Israel as well, Israel promises revenge.

COOPER: The latest on the U.N. weapons inspections from Baghdad. Nic Robertson is there for us. Nic, the headline.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, after a day of rest the inspectors get back to a third day of inspections. It's a little too early to say exactly how it's going, although it does seem to be settling down into something of a routine.

Anderson?

COOPER: Nic, back with you in a minute. Back with all of you.

Also coming up tonight, it is not often you can put the letters U.N. and S&M in the same sentence. The not-so-secret sex life of a U.N. weapons inspector got a lot of media attention today, but does anyone really care? We'll talk with sex columnist Dan Savage about S&M in America.

Also, a very special NEWSNIGHT salute to intrepid reporters around the nation and a story that's become a rite of passage of sorts. It's the story you see every year, the one you love to hate, the busiest shopping day of the year story, a unique look at that.

And the rodeo that is a fun-filled family event right down the road in prison. The inmate rodeo at the legendary Angola prison in Louisiana. The cowboys may be convicts, but the bulls are not afraid.

All that to come.

We begin with a story that is playing out on two continents: the attacks on Israeli targets in Kenya.

Police have questioned a dozen people in the investigation. And a White House source says Al Qaeda and an Islamic group based in Somalia top the list of suspects.

As the authorities try to figure out who was behind it, amateur video gave as chilling look at what actually happened.

Once again, Sheila MacVicar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MACVICAR: Thursday morning at the Paradise Hotel, a new group of tourists was checking in, this video made by one of those tourists.

The hotel was full, 100% occupancy, all Israeli, all set to enjoy a week of African sun.

It was 8:30. (VIDEO OF EXPLOSION) Stunned silence followed. In seconds the hotel was an inferno.

The Kenyan dancers were dead. Children were dead. Families torn apart.

YEHUDA SULAMI, HOTEL DIRECTOR: A lot of blood, children looking for their parents, parents looking for the children. MACVICAR: The bombers had been stopped at the gate, but they crashed their green four-wheel drive through and drove right to the lobby.

SULAMI: One of them jumped from the car, went into the reception, put a box-like, a small suitcase on the table on the middle of the reception.

MACVICAR: That is when the bomb went off.

Forty minutes away at Mombasa's airport, the Israeli plane that brought the tourists was taking another group home.

At the scrapyard at the end of the runway, David Ehuji was at work. He stopped to watch the plane take off.

DAVID EHUJI, SCRAPYARD WORKER: We hear the biggest flash, the smoke is outside there.

MACVICAR: Dismas Were saw a white car parked down the road, too far away to see the people inside.

DISMAS WERE, SCRAPYARD WORKER: They disappeared. It was about three minutes since the plane flew in the air that we saw the smoke.

MACVICAR: That vehicle was parked in front of this dirt track that led back to a vacant field right beside the flight path.

It was here on this rough ground, concealed from the road by this scrubby brush, that the terrorists waited. These marks in the dirt were made by the missiles when they were fired, so close to the flight path that it's almost unbelievable that they missed.

A Kenyan policeman showed us where a second terrorist had launched his missile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it was there.

MACVICAR: Kenyan authorities confirm to CNN that investigators found that in addition to the two spent launchers, they found two more unused shoulder launched missiles here. It is not yet clear if all four launchers were the same type.

On Friday afternoon, Kenya's president came to the scene. His officials said they put up roadblocks, but the white vehicle and its occupants escaped.

The ruins of the hotel still smolder. Israeli and American investigators are now working with the Kenyans, sifting through the debris, looking for the clues that will identify the bombers and lead authorities to those who helped them.

They say they cannot say yet who is responsible, but with surface-to-air missiles targeted against a passenger jet, once more an unimaginable threshold has been crossed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MACVICAR: And in that debris, Anderson, we are told that investigators have found what appears to be a homemade detonator. That will be a very important clue, trying to trace those responsible for this.

Anderson?

COOPER: Sheila, what is the status of the investigation at this point or what do we know about it? I mean, you said there are some American investigators there, some Israeli. How capable are the Kenyan authorities and have they apprehended anyone at this point?

MACVICAR: Well, remember going back to 1998 when Kenya suffered the bombing, the U.S. embassy bombing in Nairobi, that resulted in a major trial in the United States, American and Kenyan authorities working together.

They're cooperating here again, this time with the Israelis on the ground.

There are 12 people in custody, we are told. Amongst them, two American passport holders who may in fact turn out to be innocent tourists who just happened to be checking out that hotel in the moments after the blast. They remain in custody, we are told, and it is not yet clear whether or not they have anyone who really represents a real suspect.

COOPER: You mentioned earlier on this possible link to a Somali group. Tell us a little bit about that: Are there many Somalis in Kenya? And if so, why are they there and how easy, I mean, how porous a border is it?

MACVICAR: Well, it's a long border, and it is a very porous border. Somalia is still very much of a failed state.

There are many Somali refugees here. There are old trading ties; people go back and forth. So it is very possible for people either to slip across the land border or remember, we're sitting here on the shores of the Indian Ocean, to come in by sea through a port.

However it happened, however they got the weapons, the missiles that we have been talking about into this country, whether they acquired them here, they are easily acquired.

It seems fairly certain, when hearing also from Kenya's president earlier today, that there may, indeed, be some cross-border links. We're hoping to learn more about that in a few hours when the minister of security holds a press conference.

COOPER: All right, Sheila, take care in Mombasa. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

A remarkable statement from one of the survivors at the Kenyan hotel yesterday. She said it was like being back home. It really was. Israelis flock to places like Mombasa to escape, escape not the daily grind or the tedium at home. They go to Mombasa to escape the terror they live with every day. This time the terror followed.

Here now, Matthew Chance.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: From Kenya, Israel's military returned with its country's dead and injured. Survivors of the Mombasa bombing limped to ambulances, bandaged and bruised. Three dead, including two young boys were also brought back.

Israel has promised revenge.

At Tel Aviv airport, tourists evacuated from Kenya spoke of their vacation of terror. Now anxious citizens of Israel have become a prime target overseas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm quite frustrated and sad to see that the world become more and more hostile there are less and less places in this world that I can travel freely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only the Israeli government and Israeli army can act like that, come there, talk to us, being so warm and friendly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel very sorry, because we go off to a vacation and after one day we should go back to Israel and we don't feel safe in anyplace in the world now.

CHANCE: On the ground in Kenya, Israel has deployed more than 100 personnel to assist the rescue effort. Officials say Israel's secret service, Mossad, will find those responsible and punish them.

ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: (voice of translator) We have to be able to take out those who carry out the attacks and those who threaten. Israel will combat mercilessly those who engage in bloodletting.

We are a strong people and we will not give in to terrorism. We are a people which stands fast, fights and will prevail and we will prevail.

CHANCE: Thus, tensions and violence are mounting back in Israel, too. Angry Israelis are shouting here for revenge for Thursday's shooting spree in the northern town of Beit Shean by Palestinian gunmen. Six Israelis and the gunmen were killed.

As the funerals began, the Palestinian Authority condemned the attack that the Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigade, affiliated with Yasser Arafat, says it's carried it out after Israeli forces assassinated its West Bank leader.

Israeli troops destroyed the homes here of the Beit Shean killers. More far reaching, though, maybe what action Israel chooses to take abroad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: Well, Anderson, it is that possibility that now looms that Israel will take matters into its own hands and take action overseas in response to what has happened in Mombasa.

The Mossad secret service has in the past shown that it is prepared to hunt down and assassinate the enemies of Israel. It's been particularly successful in the past against Palestinian groups.

It may be very different this time if it does turn out to be Al Qaeda behind this. Israel is going to face the same problem as the United States, in the sense that it's up against an enemy which is faceless, a loose network, spread out across the world, Anderson.

COOPER: Matt, you mentioned in your piece that there are about 100 Israelis on the ground there aiding in the evacuation of some of the Israeli citizens.

Do we know, I mean, is Mossad on the ground in Kenya working with Kenyan authorities? Do we know anything about that?

CHANCE: It certainly is on the ground, working in conjunction with the Kenyan authorities, trying to get to the bottom of who carried out that attack.

But the vast majorities of that number of 100 of Israelis are made up of medical teams, rescue workers. Also, counselors have been sent over in order to evacuate these Israeli tourists and to give them initial counseling for their trauma.

But yes, certainly, Mossad is leading that scene; it's leading the investigation from the Israeli perspective.

COOPER: All right. Thank you, Matthew Chance. Appreciate it.

As the U.N. weapons inspectors head into day three of their search of Iraqi sites, it has become clear that finding the so-called smoking gun, a real weapon site with real evidence of production, well, it's not going to be that easy.

The inspectors are doing a delicate dance. On the one hand they have to act tough to their Iraqi hosts, while on the other hand they have to be impartial, acknowledging a lack of evidence when there is none.

That sounds like a job for a diplomat, which is just what the guy who leads the group is.

Once again, here's CNN's Nic Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good cooperation. U.N. inspectors and Iraqi officials hit it off in the first days of enforcing U.N. Resolution 1441.

But it's a soft start. The U.N. checking sites familiar to both sides. Contentious presidential palaces have so far been avoided.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The drum beat of criticism against you...

ROBERTSON: In an interview with CNN, he backed off from the tough tone of 1441, which empowers him to take top Iraqi scientists out of the country.

HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: If they come, if they want to, yes, we will be ready to facilitate that. Yes, we will do that. But what if the Iraqis stop it? We cannot force it. We are not an army.

ROBERTSON: Former inspectors and several senior western government officials believe Iraq scientists hold the key to unlocking Iraq's true weapons of mass destruction intentions.

The United States is even offering permanent residence to the families of scientists willing to defect.

And then to avoid the appearance of being led by governments Iraq considers hostile, Blix admits he'll resist pressure to visit certain sites.

BLIX: ... and go there and we go there. We decide ourselves where we go and we also have to have some reason to go to sites.

ROBERTSON: President Bush has said he'll tell the U.N. exactly where to look if Iraq's declaration of weapons of mass destruction, required by December 8, fails to match allied intelligence data.

For example, in a dossier made public by the British government, newly purchased and other equipment could be used in a resurgent biowarfare program at one of three sites, including Al Bawrah.

In a U.S. government report, Iraq announced in 2001 it would renovate the Al Bawrah plant without U.N. approval.

However, the visit to that former biowarfare facility in Al Bawrah on day two already appears to have failed to substantiate those British and U.S. reports suggesting its reactivation.

DIMITRI PERRICOS, WEAPONS INSPECTOR: After all, that was the purpose why we went there. We had the four years gap and we wanted to be sure that the plant remained as it was, as we left it back in 1998. We were satisfied to at least to the extent that they had not rebuilt the plant.

ROBERTSON: Bottom line, however, it may simply be way too early to judge Blix, the inspectors, the Iraqis or even western intelligence.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROBERTSON: So in about another three hours the inspectors head out again. We expect them to go to the similar types of site, those sites that have been previously inspected by U.N. teams in the 1990's.

Not ruling out the presidential palace sites, but it does really appear, Anderson, still to be a very softly, softly approach.

COOPER: Nic, as you said, it's been three days. The fourth day now.

How many inspectors are on the ground? How many more are going to be coming? And how many more sites are they going to be looking at, that we know about?

ROBERTSON: Well, if I start with the big numbers first, we know of perhaps 700 other sites that Hans Blix has said he wants to inspect. The UNSCOM team here in the 1990's visited, over seven years, 1,015 sites.

Right now there are seven inspectors on the ground, and in two days they've visited six sites.

On the 8th of December, that's the big day when Iraq makes its declaration of mass destruction, that's when the inspection team begins to ramp up. Another 35 inspectors coming in that day, perhaps as many as 100 here by Christmas, Anderson.

COOPER: But still, a much smaller number than was back in 1998?

ROBERTSON: Yes, in the early stages. In 1998, however, the teams that were here rotated in and out.

Something different about these teams, they will have a permanent presence here in Baghdad. A lot of people will come, and they won't just rotate in and out. They'll stay here permanently.

The U.N. plans to expand the building it has here in Baghdad to accommodate the extra people, and it plans an office in the north to facilitate quicker inspections there, as well as one in the south.

Anderson?

COOPER: All right. Nic Robertson from Baghdad, thanks very much.

Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, a very different kind of controversy about a weapons inspector.

And up next, more on the investigation into the Kenya terror attacks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, I thought Sheila MacVicar said it very well a few minutes ago. An unimaginable threshold has been crossed with these Kenya attacks. We want to talk about the investigation and how Africa figures into the terror landscape with two people tonight: Susan Rice; she's the former assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. She is in Washington.

And we're also joined again by CNN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks.

Thanks for being with us, both of you. He is in Atlanta.

Susan, I want to start off with you. You wrote over -- about a year ago in "The Washington Post," you said that Africa is the world's soft underbelly for global terrorism.

I'm assuming you wrote that for two reasons, soft underbelly in two different ways, one the geographical, economic, political factors on the ground in Africa and, two, the amount of attention that U.S. pays to Africa.

Let's start with the factors on the ground. Why is Africa the soft underbelly for terrorism?

SUSAN RICE, FORMER ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE FOR AFRICAN AFFAIRS: Well, Africa is, of course, a vast continent with many countries that lack the capacity to police their borders effectively, from weak democratic institutions, conflict areas, failed states.

You put that all together and you have a part of the world which is very attractive potentially to terrorists of all sorts. It's easy for them to hide there, to blend in, to move money and weapons and, therefore, it is quite a vulnerable area.

And the African people have suffered as a consequence, nowhere more than in Kenya.

COOPER: Well, I was in Kenya a couple years ago, and I was amazed by how many Somalis are, you know, in the capital in Kenya, and you know, you can go to Wilson Airport in Nairobi, you can just hop on a flight across the border into Somalia and there's no checkpoints at all.

RICE: That's true, but I think we need to be careful about overplaying the Somali connection here. Obviously, there's a large, long, porous border with Somalia, and Somalia, more than perhaps any other state in Africa, is vulnerable to terrorism, given that it has no government and it's got that long coastline.

But I think that this has the markings of being very much an Al Qaeda operation. There may have been some support from Al Akba (ph) in Somalia, but I wouldn't want to suggest that they were the primary players.

COOPER: Are a lot of these governments in East Africa, throughout Africa, capable of fighting terror with the resources they have now? RICE: No. And they certainly have a great deal of will to cooperate with the United States in fighting terrorism and Kenya is at the top of that list.

But in terms of capacity, they lack it in terms of strong judicial institutions, strong intelligence collection capabilities, border control.

And frankly, this is an area in which the United States and our other partners in the developed world need to do a great deal more. That was what I was arguing in that piece you were referred to a year ago in the "Washington Post." It's quite long overdue.

COOPER: Mike Brooks, you were on the ground in Nairobi after the '98 attacks. What were the Kenyans' abilities in terms of investigation, in terms of, you know, future planning for any terrorist attack?

MIKE BROOKS, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, they were a great help to the FBI when we were there in the initial investigative stages. Again, they know the sort of players there.

But as Ms. Rice said, the intelligence and their basic infrastructure to deal with this kind of terrorism, they're lacking. They also lack the equipment to do a proper forensic investigation after an incident like this, and they will look to the United States and look to Israel for assistance.

Since the bombing in 1998, the United States is -- has given over $3 million in counter-terrorism assistance to the Kenyan government, and I believe next week President Bush and President Moyer are supposed to meet to talk about additional assistance to the Kenyan government.

COOPER: Ms. Rice, do you have confidence in the government, for instance, of Kenya, in really allocating the resources properly? I mean, there are certainly many stories of corruption, of money just disappearing.

And plus, a lot of these governments focus on maintaining their own power, not necessarily, you know, getting their investigative services up to international standards.

RICE: Well, I think in the case of Kenya, in the broad sense corruption is, of course, a serious problem.

But when it comes to fighting terrorism and other forms of security cooperation with the United States, there's a long and excellent track record of effective cooperation, whether we're talking about military to military or, as Mike said, law enforcement to law enforcement.

And I think we can program the money and direct it in such a way that we can guard against the risk of corruption.

And I think that we need to be doing a great deal more than $3 million since 1998. This is an urgent case. It's not limited just to Kenya, but obviously Kenya has suffered a great deal. We need to ramp up our counter-terrorism assistance to countries throughout Africa. And East Africa is particularly urgent.

COOPER: Mike Brooks, we were following tonight, our Matthew Chance saying Mossad is on the ground in Kenya helping investigators. Is that going to be the key to solving this thing, the involvement of Israeli intelligence and the involvement of U.N. intelligence?

BROOKS: Well, we know how relentless Mossad has been.

And I think I misspoke. It's $31 million that we've given to them since 1998.

But getting back to Mossad, they are relentless in their search for people who carry out acts of terrorism on Israel and the Israeli people. But they also work very well together with the United States.

They worked very well together with the United States after the embassy bombing in 1998, both on the ground -- the Israelis were some of the first one there to assist in the search and rescue effort, along with the French before the United States was able to get there.

So I think effectively we will find out who's responsible for this and bring those people to justice, as we did in 1998.

COOPER: Mike Brooks, Susan Rice, we're simply out of time, but I appreciate you both coming in and adding your perspectives tonight. Thank you.

RICE: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up on NEWSNIGHT, terrorists with shoulder-fired missiles. Just how worried should we be?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're going to continue our discussion of the attacks in Africa by focusing on what is in some ways the most worrisome part of the story, the failed missile attacks on the Israeli airliner. It has been clear for quite a while now that terrorists have these weapons and just as clear that the world's aircraft are very vulnerable to them. How worried should we be? Worried enough to spend millions of dollars per plane to install systems to counteract them?

Joining us now with some perspective on the situation is William Hartung, the director of the Arms Trade Resource Center of the World Policy Institute and the author of "And Weapons for All."

Thanks a lot for being here.

Where are these weapons coming from, these shoulder-fired weapons?

WILLIAM HARTUNG, DIRECTOR, ARMS TRADE RESOURCE CENTER, WORLD POLICY INSTITUTE: Well, it's possible they came from Afghanistan through the Taliban-al Qaeda connection. It's possible they could have come from almost anywhere because, during the Cold War, the United States was selling Stingers to its allies, including the Afghan rebels. Russia -- the Soviet Union was selling it to all its allies around the world.

So there's literally thousands of these things available. And, given what was said before about the porous borders in Kenya and so forth, they could have been transferred from anywhere. But, if there is an al Qaeda connection, there's certainly a possibility it came from Pakistan of Afghanistan.

COOPER: Yes, I was reading, apparently, the CIA reported over a thousand Stingers were sold to Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, and, even during the Gulf War, I think like a hundred Stingers -- or several hundred -- went missing in 1991 during the Gulf War.

But a lot of countries have manufactured SAMs. I mean, I think Pakistan. The Soviet Union, I believe. They're manufacturing a...

HARTUNG: Yes, China can do it. Egypt might have some residual capability from when they were a Soviet ally. So there's -- there's many possibilities of where they could have come from.

COOPER: How difficult or easy is to stop the flow of these weapons?

HARTUNG: Well, I think it would take a while, but what you would need is tremendous international cooperation.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright raised the issue of whether these weapons should be banned, no more sales, and try to mop up and collect the ones that are out there. I think that was a worthwhile proposal, which really didn't, you know, get carried through because there wasn't international support for it.

But, also, there was a meeting at the U.N. in the summer of 2001 talking about the trade in small arms and light weapons. Some of the things on the table were things -- the African delegation said let's not have sales to non-state groups of arms groups of any sort. The Bush administration opposed that.

But I think those sorts of things, cracking down on arms brokers who often move these weapons into Africa -- we would really need not only to build up the capabilities in Kenya but the kind of cooperation that really doesn't exist yet. The arms trade really is still relatively unregulated even at this late date.

COOPER: Well, I mean, in a place like Africa, how can you really stop it when you have -- I mean, you have all these rebel groups?

You have, you know, massive confrontation in the Congo with multiple players and have many different nations involved. You have -- you know, there was action in Mozambique. There's fighting in Angola.

And very porous borders, as one of our guests pointed out before. I mean, plus, you have, you know, the illegal sale of diamonds that fund a lot of this trade.

HARTUNG: I think to really get at it, it can't just be sort of an arms-control thing. It's got to be a question of how do you stabilize some of these conflicts.

In the Congo, for example, the U.N. has a force of, you know, 3,000 to 5,000 people for a country that's the size of most of Western Europe. You know, so there's -- there have to be a lot more resources put into, I think, economic development, conflict resolution, really trying to pull back from the fighting in a lot of these areas. There's been some work on how to cut off those conflict diamonds so they can't be used to finance wars.

So I think you would need -- really, it's kind of a multi-faceted approach, which I think is a much harder thing to do than, say, you know, bombing al Qaeda sites in Afghanistan or even focusing a war, for example, on Iraq. I think we have a lot more complicated tasks before us than some of these more straightforward military missions that the Bush administration has been focused on.

COOPER: Someone who's getting on a plane in the United States -- should they be worried about someone in the United States firing a surface-to-air missile at their plane?

HARTUNG: I think it's a remote concern at the moment.

There was an alert put out the middle of this year because there was, apparently, a surface-to-air missile fired, and it was fired at a U.S. aircraft in Saudi Arabia, and so, just as a matter of course, the FBI reminded officials that, you know, these things exist, they're out there. But there's no indication that groups in this country have hold of them or that there's plans of that sort afoot.

I think it's more akin to all the other things we need to worry about. Are -- is somebody going to, you know, crash a plane into a nuclear plant? Is somebody going to bring something into one of our ports? It's one of the things on the list that should be dealt with, but I don't think it's an imminent concern for somebody flying out of this country.

COOPER: All right. Now this is growing longer and longer every day. William Hartung, appreciate you being with us. Thanks.

HARTUNG: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, later on NEWSNIGHT, the kinky controversy over a weapons inspector.

And next, when the going gets tough, the tough reporters cover shopping.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Thanks, Kitty.

Next on NEWSNIGHT, an annual rite of passage for shoppers and reporters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A few stories from around the nation tonight, beginning with the latest from the Disney cruise liner "Magic." It is up to 160 people who have come down with a stomach virus aboard that ship. Two hundred and seventy-five people got sick from the same thing on the "Magic"'s last voyage. The ship is going to be disinfected again when it returns to Florida tomorrow. Disney has canceled the "Magic"'s next trip.

Shares of United Airlines plunged today after machinists rejected wage and benefits cuts. The fear is the vote makes it almost certain the airline will seek bankruptcy protection.

And today was the last day for radio talk-show host and former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci. He goes to prison next Friday. He got five years for his conviction on a racketeering charge. Cianci is planning to quit smoking, lose some weight, and learn Spanish while in prison, like, quote, "a very inexpensive spa," he said.

We want to take a moment now to pay homage to our friends and colleagues in newsrooms across the nation. It's sort of a rite of passage for any journalist. Before that overseas tour of duty or promotion to the White House press corps or before landing the cushy anchor job like I have, there's something we all have to do: the day- after-Thanksgiving-shopping story.

So here a sort of Frankenstein's monster of shopping stories, all the best parts from our best affiliates, with one goal in mind: Get out alive!

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For many, it was an early day. An unbelievable sight. Not hundreds but thousands of Wal-Mart shoppers in line since 1:30 this morning all hoping to get the best deals on their holiday shopping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I'm thinking the idea here of people getting up at 3:00 in the morning was to burn off all of those calories, right? No. Actually, people were more concerned about all the early bird specials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And early bird risers were waiting and waiting, especially in line. The Tommy Hilfiger shop reached its capacity level before 6:00.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were 150 people in line waiting to storm this store when the doors opened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moments later, a consumer stampede rumbled through the doors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're off! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take a look at this scene as the crowds crushed one another, pushing and shoving to get through these doors at 6:00 a.m. sharp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the most insane thing I've ever seen in my life. I mean, I'm crawling across people. They're crawling across carts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got trapped in between carts, and people were like pushing and shoving, and it was just wall-to-wall people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Wal-Mart parking lot is packed with cars and also television boxes with no TVs inside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Macy's at Union Square in San Francisco has been busy ever since the doors opened at 7:00 this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shoppers are ready is to strut. Dressed in sneaks, they mean business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I see some good bargains here today, and I figure I'd get out early and see if I can get some before somebody else beats me to it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And from what we witnessed, shoppers are spending money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shopping today is only for professionals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to try to have as fun time as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a fur real friend, and it's a cat...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... who looks like a real cat for like kids that are allergic to cats. Life size.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're supposed to be just like the real thing, but you don't have to feed them or clean up after them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's $29.99. He's one of the reasons people got up early this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While retailers fret about only have 26 prime shopping days left, some consumers argue over their place in line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That shopping frenzy helps put retailers on the positive side of profits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good news for retailers because 25 percent to 30 percent of their annual sales take place in November and December.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The National Retail Federation predicts...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... the average shopper will spend between $650 to $850 this holiday season.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoppers anxious to part with their cash for the right price.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even though many say they won't spend more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Consumers who aren't looking to bust their holiday budgets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Consumers can expect to find lots of holiday shopping bargains, but they don't have as much time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The day after Thanksgiving is falling six days later than last year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, if you're one of those procrastinators, you better not wait too long or you may find yourself in a more frantic crowd on Christmas Eve day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Man, I'm exhausted after that.

Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, a prison where the convicts are cowboys, at least for one day.

And up next, the arms inspector and a twist.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So we're trying to imagine this guy's personal ad.

"Fifty-something white male, has exciting job, international travel, into S&M, ropes, bondage, knife play, safe fun only, graduates of Leather University preferred, narrow-minded need not apply."

This may not be way off the mark for a U.N. weapons inspector slated to go to Iraq Jack McGeorge. "The Washington Post" reported that McGeorge is a fan of S&M and doesn't hide it. "The Post" also reported questions about whether he has the technical expertise to be a weapons inspector. But it was Mr. McGeorge's alleged sexual proclivities which got the most attention in the media today. A U.N. spokesman commented that his private life shouldn't be significant as long as it doesn't interfere with his job.

We thought it interesting that, while the media buzzed about this today, there didn't seem to be a lot of outrage out there, which got us wondering, Has S&M gone mainstream? It's in magazines and movies, and it's all over the Internet. So we thought we'd look a little closer with syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage.

I spoke with him earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: When this story broke today, a lot of -- you know, and I sort of asked people around the office. A lot of people looked at me with kind of blank stares when I asked them about S&M. So that's why we sort of thought it would be interesting to talk to you. Do you find a lot of people are into this?

DAN SAVAGE, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST, "SAVAGE LOVE": A great deal of people are into sadomasochism. It's sort broke through -- not into the mainstream. It's not like people who weren't into before have heard about it and are now doing it. Sexual turn-ons and fetishes don't work like that. The first time you hear about something you have no desire to do, you don't run out and try it.

But a lot of people who were into it previously and were sort of tightlipped about have come out. And I think it was AIDS that did it because, when the HIV crisis landed, it suddenly was more dangerous to have engaged in vaginal or anal intercourse and exchanged bodily fluids than it was to do things like fantasy or fetish play. That was safer.

A lot of -- one thing most people don't understand about sadomasochism is often all that happens is domination and submission, sort of cops and robbers for grownups with your pants off, and it usually ends in masturbation and not intercourse.

COOPER: OK.

SAVAGE: So it's safer. I mean, it's safer than having intercourse if you're going to have casual partners.

COOPER: It does seem, though, to be becoming more and more mainstream. I mean, even the reaction to this weapons inspector -- I mean, kind of a lot of shrugs and like, "So what? No big deal." Do you find it becoming more mainstream?

SAVAGE: I find that more people are more open about it. That has become more mainstream, being open about your kinks and your desires and your turn-ons, because that's really the best way to make sure that you realize them safely.

People get hurt who want to engage in sadomasochism when they try to go about it without actually having an open or honest discussion with anybody. The organization that this man founded and that other people who are into S&M have founded was to facilitate safe, sort of negotiated sexual contacts for people who are into sadomasochism in which no one will get hurt because you do need to establish trust with someone.

With any sexual partner, you need to establish trust. If you're going to have just a regular, old one-night stand, you know, he might be or she might be lying about being married or being disease free or being sane, and you want to establish some rapport and trust, and that goes a hundredfold if that other person might be tying you up.

COOPER: It also seems like because of the Internet, this stuff is kind of -- I mean, people who are into this have found a voice and a sort of community online.

SAVAGE: Absolutely. The Internet has -- the search engines -- Google brings more kinky people together than anything else ever.

COOPER: I think that's their new slogan. "We bring more kinky people together."

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: But, seriously, you do think the Internet has had a big role to play in this?

SAVAGE: Yes. There used to be people -- I mean, there's so many strange fetishes on line. People have balloon fetishes and smoking fetishes. People who are attracted to stuffed...

COOPER: I'm not -- I'm not even going to ask.

SAVAGE: People attracted to stuffed animals. Plushophiles they're called. And the Internet allowed the hundred people in the United States who pre-Internet could never find each other -- the Internet has allowed those people to connect and have conventions because, in America, you can't do anything aberrant without having a convention every once in a while.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: OK. I'm not even really going to pursue that line of questioning. I'm not sure what a plushofiles convention would look like. I guess a lot of people in suits or...

SAVAGE: I hope there's a lot of scotch guarded fabric on it. That's all I want to think about.

COOPER: So you -- you know, in your column -- I mean, do you get a lot of people writing in with questions about S&M and...

SAVAGE: Absolutely -- absolutely the most popular sexual fetish. It's very common.

It may come as a shock to some people -- I'm sure a lot of people heard about this man, he's a Marine, he lives in the South, and thought, "Oh, that's strange. I thought most sadomasochists lived in Greenwich Village, in New York City, or West Hollywood and Los Angeles."

And, actually, people who are Republican identified and born again are likelier to -- a greater number of them are into sadomasochistic sex play than people who are not.

COOPER: Oh, come on, Dan. Come on.

SAVAGE: Absolutely true. Absolutely true.

COOPER: What -- there's no study on this. You're just -- this is from your personal experience.

SAVAGE: There are studies. There are studies. I -- personally, I haven't spanked a Marine, but I would make an exception for this man if I could see him first.

COOPER: All right. Dan Savage, thanks very much. Appreciate you coming in.

SAVAGE: Thank you for having me.

COOPER: All right.

There you have it.

Next on NEWSNIGHT, ridin', ropin', and reform, the inmate rodeo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Finally from us -- no more S&M, we promise -- an old- fashioned rodeo where you'll find events like wild cow milking, the smell of deep-fried food, and maybe a Johnny Cash song or two in the background. This rodeo, however, is different. It has maximum security, and all the cowboys -- well, they have rap sheets.

Here's Brian Cabell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The line of cars stretches for miles. Motorists eager to enter Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. Why would they want to come to this sprawling rural prison where half the inmates are convicted murderers? Well, on this day, known as Rodeo Day, Angola becomes a virtual state fair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything's handcrafted.

CABELL: Inmate arts and crafts. Inmate cuisine. Inmate music. Of course, there is security here, constant and vigilant, but 1,000 of the best-behaved inmates are allowed out to mingle with the crowd. That's one of them giving horseback rides to the kids.

BURT CAIN, WARDEN: It's one way for the inmates to show the public that they're not animals anymore, that they have changed their lives, they don't have horns and a fork and a tail.

CABELL: The horns and tails you'll find on the beasts inside the arena, and that's the main attraction, the rodeo itself. The performers are the inmates, most of them inexperienced but open to something new.

RONALD DRAKE, INMATE: It takes a lot of tension off being cooped up all the time, you know. You're already incarcerated, so it don't make no sense to incarcerate yourself more than what you already is.

CABELL: No training is allowed. These wannabe cowboys simply watch, wait, and hope they don't embarrass themselves in very unfamiliar surroundings.

JOHN PERKINS, INMATE: No, man. I'm a truck driver. I ain't never had to mess with livestock in my life, man. CABELL: Today, John Perkins, a convicted robber, does have to mess with livestock. He's there on the left. And, remarkably, he and his partner, equally inexperienced, manage to wrestle a bull to the ground. But the fans here, 10,000 of them, see more courage on display than skill. It's an adrenaline rush, the inmates will tell you, a break from the tedium.

Look at this. It's called convict poker. You sit at the table, play cards, and pray that the bull attacks your buddies before it attacks you. The last one sitting wins $150.

Alex Hennis, a habitual aggravated burglar, has his eye on the all-around cowboy award. The prize: a belt buckle. He's worked on his skills here the last few years, even though he had no prior experience.

ALEX HENNIS, INMATE: The thing I rode was motorcycles and skateboards.

CABELL: He rides a bull today but doesn't hang on for long. He's flung to the ground, stunned, and carried off. He'll be back on his feet in an hour.

The inmates suffer broken bones and bruised egos, but they also catch an exhilarating whiff of freedom. They'll tell you it's a fair exchange.

(on camera): For 38 years now, they've been holding these rodeos at Angola. Hundreds of thousands of cards have come through these gates. Plenty of opportunities, you would think, for prisoners to escape. But, according to the warden, not once on Rodeo Day has a prisoner escaped. No one wants to ruin a good thing.

Brian Cabell, CNN, Angola, Louisiana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That is NEWSNIGHT for tonight. Thanks a lot for watching. Hope you have a great weekend. I'll see you on Monday.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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