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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

Bush Remains Skeptical of Iraq as Weapons Inspections Continue

Aired December 2, 2002 - 22:00   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening, everyone. Today is an important day. No, not because it's Britney Spears' birthday. She's 21, by the way. I'm sure you'd want to know that.
Today is the one-year anniversary of Enron filing for bankruptcy. One year. A lot stands out in our minds. That crooked "E" logo that took on such a different meaning after the scandal. The image of one executive after another pleading the fifth. Or those really memorable images.

Who could ever forget "Playboy's" women of Enron, or, for that matter, "Playgirl's" men of Enron? And then there was the first lady of Enron, Ken Lay's wife, sobbing through a "Today" show interview like Tammy Faye Bakker without the kabuki makeup, whining about her family's fight for liquidity.

And remember the thrift store she set up in a bid for cash? Jus' (ph) Stuff (ph) it was called. Jus' (ph) precious.

But let's not forget the most important reasons to remember Enron, and there are 60 billion of them. That's how much in stock market value was erased with Enron's collapse. And here's 16,000 more reasons. That's the number of people laid off by Enron.

There have been reforms, yes. But how sweeping, how real? In the next year will some other Enron emerge singing, oops, we did it again? A lot can happen before Britney turns 22.

On with "The Whip" now and the investigation into just who was behind the attacks last week in Kenya. Sheila MacVicar in Mombasa for us. Sheila, the headline.

SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, investigators appear to have found a smoking gun that points to al Qaeda, and there's been a claim of responsibility.

COOPER: Back with you in a moment, Sheila.

To Baghdad now, and the weapons inspections. Nic Robertson is covering that for us. Nic, a headline, please.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, inspectors for the first time visiting a site that had not been previously visited. And also, at another site, their longest inspections so far, turning up missing equipment and disappeared cameras -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right.

And more cruise ship passengers coming down with a nasty illness. Susan Candiotti is on that story for us tonight. Susan, a headline.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Anderson. Another day, another sick cruise ship. The third cruise line in about as many weeks. Now the CDC doesn't know exactly what to call this one, but it does know that there are more cases of the Norwalk virus this year than last, and they don't really know why. Back to you.

COOPER: All right. Back with all of you in a moment.

Also coming up tonight, affirmative action at American universities. The Supreme Court today stepped right into the fierce debate.

Also, an apology today for a shameless part of Oregon's history, the forced sterilization of thousands of people thought to be unfit to have children over many decades in the last century. Oregon's governor made the apology. And we'll take a look at that tonight.

And Megan's law and real estate. If you are selling a house, do you owe it to the buyer to tell them a sex offender lives nearby? You might be surprised by the answer.

All that to come, but we begin with the investigation into the attacks last week in Kenya. It seemed to be sort of a good news/bad news kind of thing today. The good news, they seem to have made some progress, as Sheila MacVicar mentioned. Several new links brought investigators closer to confirming their original suspicion, al Qaeda may be behind it.

The bad news, if it is al Qaeda, it proves they are as dangerous as ever and that they are broadening their list of targets to include Israelis anywhere in the world. Once again, here's Sheila MacVicar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MACVICAR (voice-over): The first hard evidence that al Qaeda is tied to the Mombasa attacks, the serial numbers on the missile launchers found near the airport. The Pentagon says those serial numbers are close in sequence to those in a launcher used in an attempted al Qaeda attack in Saudi Arabia. That suggests to investigators that the Soviet-made missiles came from the same batch and were likely obtained at the same time.

In London, Paul Eadle monitors Web sites linked to al Qaeda. He has seen very little recent activity on those sites until now. One message, which bears the hallmark of al Qaeda...

PAUL EADLE, CYBER EXPERT: The statement, which purports to be from al Qaeda, claims responsibility for the two attacks in Mombasa last week. And it says very directly to the Israelis that, as you can kill our children, we will kill your children.

MACVICAR: Eadle is careful to warn that the message has not been authenticated.

(on camera): Senior Israeli intelligence sources tell CNN that, although they do not yet have any definitive proof, it is now their analysis that the Mombasa attacks were carried out by al Qaeda and that they were planned probably in Pakistan by people very close to Osama bin Laden.

(voice-over): Israeli sources also say they believe the attacks were launched from largely lawless (ph) Somalia, Kenya's northern neighbor. And this man, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (ph), the Israelis say likely organized the attacks. He is believed to be al Qaeda's chief of operations in Somalia.

But Kenyan police and Israeli intelligence sources acknowledge the investigation on the ground in Kenya is stalled. They found the license plate of the bomber's vehicle in the hotel wreckage, but so far, they say, they have been unable to determine who owned the vehicle and who might have sold it to the terrorists.

There is another mystery vehicle: the white four-wheel drive seen parked in front of this dirt track near where the surface-to-air missiles were launched. Kenyan police say they have found no trace of that vehicle or its occupants. Ten sailors taken from this ship moored in Mombasa's old port and held as suspects are still in jail. The police are guarding the boat, but both the Kenyans and the Israelis now say they do not believe the sailors were involved in the attacks.

No one else is in custody. There are no other suspects. Five days after the attacks, it seems more and more likely that al Qaeda has once again struck and slipped away.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MACVICAR: No vehicles and no suspects it seems, Anderson. The investigators here very badly need a breakthrough -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sheila, previously we had heard the name of this group in Somalia, I believe it's called Islamia (ph). And that was perhaps working in conjunction with al Qaeda. Is that still part of this belief, or is it believed to be purely an al Qaeda operation?

MACVICAR: We know from both Israeli intelligence and also from some things we've been hearing from Americans as well that, over the course of the last few month, U.S. intelligence has detected al Qaeda operatives who were in Afghanistan and Pakistan last winter moving into Somalia. Now the group in Somalia, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), is in fact a pretty small group. It was pretty badly beaten up in a war with the Ethiopians.

But investigators and Israeli intelligence tell us that they think some or some elements of that group are providing essentially what amounts to a logistics base in Somalia. But they are saying they believe this is an al Qaeda operation.

COOPER: All right. Sheila MacVicar, thank you very much in Mombasa.

Sad to say Israelis are used to being attacked on their own soil. They have reason to know that their bus stops and malls and discos and streets are actually battlegrounds or can become battlegrounds in an instant. But Israelis are not accustomed to being attacked a long way from home, and the shock of last week's attacks have been a transforming event. Kelly Wallace reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over); The way Israel sees it, Mombasa changed everything. Israelis targeted in a hotel bombing and, even more ominous, the attempted shootdown of an Israeli passenger jet with missiles.

In his first television interview, Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Israel's spy agency, the Mossad, and current national security adviser to Prime Minister Sharon, says the plane attack should be viewed as if it actually happened.

EPHRAIM HALEVY, HEAD OF NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: If this attack had ended as was planned, it would have been another terror event against Israel. And as such, it would change the rules of the game and it would open options which, up to now, have not been opened.

WALLACE: Halevy would not speculate on what Israel would do, but indicated the country will act. A former Mossad official, who strongly suspects al Qaeda links, says Israel won't act alone.

UZI ARAD, FORMER MOSSAD OFFICIAL: It is a battle that has been waged by many other societies. And we are just members of that alliance.

WALLACE: The Israeli prime minister has reportedly ordered the Mossad to track down those responsible for the twin Mombasa attacks. Thirty years ago, after terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Mossad assassinated many of those responsible for the attacks.

(on camera): But Israel's promise to respond may increase fears in Washington. The worry is that a more visible Israeli role in the war on terror could complicate how the U.S. is seen in the Arab world.

(voice-over): And could complicate Arab support for any future war with Iraq. Mindful of that, Mr. Sharon has been careful in his response to recent suicide bombings inside Israel. And one conservative American political analyst thinks that approach will continue on the world stage.

WILLIAM KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I mean it seems to me that Prime Minister Sharon is going to bend over backwards to try to accommodate the wishes of the American government, to exercise restraint to the degree he can.

WALLACE: The challenge for Prime Minister Sharon will be to balance the security pressure to take action and, at the same time, accommodate the overall U.S. strategy in its global war on terror. Kelly Wallace, CNN near Tel Aviv.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: While President Bush put pen to paper today, the Pentagon authorizing a new budget for the Defense Department, $393 billion. The president also used the occasion to talk about what, in his view, United Nations personnel are actually doing in Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The inspectors are not in Iraq to play hide and seek with Mr. Saddam Hussein. Inspectors do not have the duty or the ability to uncover terrible weapons hidden in a vast country. The responsibility of inspectors is simply to confirm the evidence of voluntary and total disarmament.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: But then simply confirm, to repeat the president's words, is simpler to say than to do. CNN's Nic Robertson has been following the U.N. arms inspectors around, which is sometimes going, like the inspectors themselves, in the wrong direction first.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Close, but unsure of the way, U.N. inspectors call on Iraqi officials to direct them. Cooperation turning to familiarity, as on day five each site settles to the routine of the other. Minutes later, the team of international experts drive unchecked into the central Baghdad military industrial al Karana (ph) complex.

Not yet night in the morning, and another day's inspection just beginning. Taking notes, talking with site officials and touring buildings, the inspectors linked to the production of parts for the banned al hussein (ph) scud missile capable of delivering a warhead 650 kilometers. At one point, an apparently irate Iraqi official appears clutching documents.

The inspection, however, ends at 3:00 PM, as al Karana (ph) employees leave for the day. By the time journalists invited on to the site, the buildings are locked. Officials denying production of scuds, but not denying production of the allowed for shorter 150 kilometer range missiles. The deputy director asserting the inspectors had enough time to do their work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The inspections are their specialty. To look for documents and search everything.

ROBERTSON: This site had contained monitoring cameras and other equipment marked by previous U.N. inspection teams. After this visit, the U.N. disclosed in is a statement, "None of these are currently present at the facility." It was claimed that some had been destroyed by the bombing of the site. Some had been transferred to other sites. The U.N. says it's following up on those claims. (on camera): Exactly what the inspectors were looking for and, perhaps more importantly, what they may have found, is unclear. That they spent more than six hours searching this facility, which is moderate size compared to some, is an indication of just how long the inspection process could drag out.

(voice-over): On Iraqi television, the first close-up pictures of inspectors at work with Iraqi officials. A sign the Iraqi government sees the relationship between the two sides developing positively. A sign, too, everyone here is settling in for the long haul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: Now Anderson, the British government believes that even these shorter range missiles that the director of the plant said they've been working on, the British government believes even those Iraqis are planning to extend the range of -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nic, I believe we're six days away now from the December 8 deadline that Iraq has to put forth their list of any programs that they have. Have there been any public statements in the last day or so from Iraq indicating that they are working on this list or what we might see on this list?

ROBERTSON: Nothing public. We did hear from the foreign minister about a week ago saying that this document could be many thousands of pages long. We do know, however, from officials close to senior Iraqi officials, that they are working on this document. Indeed, we're told that they're working very hard, working night and day. Even the possibility that this document could be put out early before December 8.

But nothing specific from Iraqi officials. It's mostly quiet on that front.

COOPER: And the last public word from them was, we have no ongoing programs, either nuclear, chemical or biological.

ROBERTSON: Absolutely. Iraq says it has no weapons of mass destruction. Their last conversation with U.N. Weapons Chief Hans Blix questioning, for example, should they be including on this list such things as plastic slipper factories. The final word from Hans Blix is that there is a lot of things that could be included on that document, and possibly Iraq won't be able to put them all down. It may just have to list the name of a site and location for all of these other potential dual use type sites, and maybe they'll have to go back and get more details about that later.

COOPER: All right. Nic Robertson live in Baghdad nearing dawn. Thank you very much, Nic.

Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, the Supreme Court decides to step back into the question of reverse discrimination. And, up next, more sickness on America's cruise ships.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, there's no reason to name it sick cruise syndrome, but you'll be forgiven if you start feeling like there is a syndrome. Two more cruise ships have been hit with outbreaks of illness. One a major outbreak, the other smaller for now.

We've gotten probably a dozen e-mails over the past week voicing the suspicion that seemed inevitable, I suppose. Could this be terrorism? At this point, there's absolutely no evidence of terrorism or that the outbreaks are at all connected. What we do know is that hundreds of more people have gotten sick, and that alone is plenty of reason to follow the story. One again, here's Susan Candiotti -- Susan.

CANDIOTTI: Well, Anderson, tonight, two more cases of illness to tell you about. First, a small outbreak of suspected salmonella. The other more mysterious. First of all, 21 people, mostly crew members of the Raddisson (ph) cruise ship, the Seven Seas Mariner (ph), taking ill on a maiden voyage from Europe.

Officials suggested that the crew members might have taken aboard some food from Spain that was either bad or handled badly. And the CDC is investigating.

The Centers for Disease Control is also investigating a Carnival cruise ship. People aboard there struck by some sort of gastrointestinal illness. But the ship was cleared to sail this night and is on its way to Key West.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Carnival's Fascination setting sail again Monday night, a little more than 12 hours after returning from a three-day trip to the Bahamas with some people sick to their stomachs. One younger member of the Kohns (ph) family still feeling the effects.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is an epidemic-type thing. I'm not a doctor, but I am a mother. And I wanted to get my family off that ship so bad, I've just been up all night.

CANDIOTTI: More than 200 people of the 3,300 aboard coming down with a gastrointestinal illness, hitting a third cruise line in as many weeks.

DAVID FORNEY, CDC: Well, this was a very short duration cruise. We had a much larger number of people become ill in a very short period of time.

CANDIOTTI: The CDC on the ship throughout the day, trying to nail down the source and cause of the illness. Since last month, more than 1,000 people have been attacked by a Norwalk-like virus aboard two ships, Holland America's Amsterdam and Disney's Magic. The outbreak of Norwalk cases is up this year over last, and the CDC is taking a close look.

FORNEY: We have to be concerned about what we're seeing. But again, there are a lot of people that are going that are not getting sick.

CANDIOTTI: On their own, Disney decided to yank its ship for a week. So did Holland America, after multiple outbreaks of the virus. For now, Carnival will keep on sailing, and questions whether some are making too much of the sickness.

BOB DICKINSON, PRESIDENT, CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: People are looking for their 15 minutes of fame. So there is a tendency to embellish on these issues.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: After disinfecting the ship for hours under the watchful eye of the CDC, Carnival Cruise Lines says that, while there are no guarantees, it feels completely comfortable in sailing the Carnival cruise ship Fascination again, and points out that only about 100 people of the 3,100 passengers booked decided to take a rain check tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: Susan, I mean, even if people are exaggerating, from a PR standpoint, this is just a nightmare for the cruise industry. Is there any sense of how this is impacting the industry? I mean obviously the industry was hurt after 9/11. This is the last thing they needed.

CANDIOTTI: Well, only today a cruise line industry group said that the cruise line industry has been coming back, has been rebounding since September 11. They say that it's far too early to know now whether this will have any impact, but they seem to be far more worried about a slowing economy and the possibility of war with Iraq.

COOPER: All right. Susan Candiotti, thanks very much.

A few other stories from around the nation tonight, beginning with a story about an internal memo at the FBI. Now, in the memo, FBI Director Robert Mueller pushes his agents to move fast in changing the agency's mission from law enforcement to intelligence gathering in the war on terror. Change will be needed in many areas and needed quickly, it said. FBI officials said today the memo was meant to be an encouragement, not a scolding for agents in the field.

We go to politics now, the presidential kind. Senator John Kerry announced yesterday that he'll file papers this week to set up an exploratory campaign committee. The Massachusetts Democrat said, "It is an enormous step, but it's one I'm excited about."

And three-time baseball all-star Dave McNally (ph) has died of cancer. McNally (ph) won 20 or more games for the Baltimore Orioles in four straight seasons starting in the late 1960's. He was also part of an arbitration case in 1975 that helped bring in the era of the free agent. Dave McNally (ph) was 60 years old.

And coming up on NEWSNIGHT, the controversy over eugenics (ph) in Oregon. Why were thousands of people forcibly sterilized in that state? And up next, the Supreme Court takes up a case of reverse discrimination.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: One thing is clear already, this is going to be a very interesting term for the Supreme Court, which announced today that it will be revisiting the difficult and divisive issue of affirmative action. The high court last took that subject up back in 1978 in the case of a white student who had been rejected by a California medical school, while minority applicants with lower test scores were being accepted.

That decision made so-called racial quotas illegal, though it allowed that race still could be taken into consideration. Public and private colleges have been puzzling over what exactly that means ever since. Twenty-four years later, the justices hope to make things clearer by considering a pair of cases, one filed by a white applicant to the University of Michigan Law School, and another by an undergraduate applicant to U.M.

That student, Jennifer Gratz, joins us now in San Diego, as does CNN's legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, here in New York.

Jeffrey, I want to start off with you. What is the significance of this? I mean how important is this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, sometimes I think those of us in the news business we hype stories, we make people think it's a really big deal. This is a really big deal.

COOPER: Because?

TOOBIN: Because every university just about that has competitive admissions takes what's now called diversity into consideration. It says, you know, we don't want an all-white student body. And if we have to take student with lesser SAT scores or lesser grade point averages, we're going to do that because we want a diverse student body. That's an attribute that we care about.

In 1978 in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) case, the Supreme Court said that's OK. Said, you know, as long as you don't have quotas, you can use diversity as a goal. The Supreme Court this year will decide whether that's still good law, whether you can consider race at all.

COOPER: Well, Ms. Gratz, obviously that was not OK with you. Tell us a little bit about how you got involved in this case to begin with.

JENNIFER GRATZ, SUED UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN OVER AFFIRMATIVE ACTION POLICY: Well, I applied to the University of Michigan in 1994. And, a few years later, I read about a possible lawsuit and decided to get involved.

COOPER: When you did not get into the University of Michigan, when you initially applied, was your thought immediately something's wrong here? GRATZ: Yes. Immediately, I actually looked at my father and I said, "Can we sue them?" Not necessarily because I thought that I would actually be involved in a lawsuit or that people went around suing universities, but because I knew something was wrong.

COOPER: And you knew something was wrong how? I mean, when someone doesn't get into college, often they just say, well, I guess my grades weren't good enough. I guess I just wasn't up to their standards.

GRATZ: The University of Michigan makes it pretty clear and pretty obvious. In fact, they've said that they use race as a factor. On top of that, I knew students from my own school and from local schools that had been accepted to the University of Michigan that had lesser test scores and lesser grades. And some of those students were minority students.

COOPER: Ms. Gratz, you know the argument that the University of Michigan officials will use or a lot of school officials will use who support these affirmative action programs, they will say, look, not only, as Jeffrey pointed out, is a diverse campus something we want, but some people say it's a question of righting past wrongs. That you need these sort of programs in order to balance out the books.

GRATZ: I don't believe that two wrongs make a right. And I think that diversity is more than just your skin color.

COOPER: Do you worry, though, about the impact this might have on college campuses across the country? I mean school officials across the board pretty much say, you know, if this is reversed, the ethnic makeup of these campuses will radically change.

GRATZ: I don't think that that's true. I think that there are plenty of minority students that have good test scores and have good grades and will be accepted to universities without having an added bonus.

COOPER: Jeff, what is the court likely to do on this?

TOOBIN: You know, this is a really tough one. And it's very likely to come down to one justice. You have three justices: Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justice Thomas, Justice Scalia, who will certainly vote to say any consideration of race is unconstitutional.

COOPER: What about Kennedy?

TOOBIN: Justice Kennedy probably with them as well. Justice O'Connor in the middle. She's been in the middle in many different kinds of cases. Affirmative action in particular. One of the interesting sort of ironies here is that here mentor on the court, as she has often said, was Louis Powell (ph), who was the offer of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) decision. So it will really be in her hands to decide -- probably be in her hands -- to decide whether his most important decision remains on the books.

COOPER: And is there any sense of -- I mean, does any -- you can't (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

TOOBIN: You know, it's very hard to know, because she's really tried to straddle this issue. But remember, the Bakke decision was a compromise itself between the people who thought quotas were OK and the people who thought you couldn't consider race at all. Justice Powell said, yes, you can't have quotas, but you can consider race. So it's very hard to know how she could come up with a compromise. She may well have to say it's OK to consider race or, you know, all admissions must be color blind.

COOPER: Now, there are also some people who the press are sort of calling the intruders, who have come forward representing other minority groups who are saying that this is important to right past wrongs.

TOOBIN: Well, you see, the NAACP in particular has said, you know, this is the most important affirmative -- most important race discrimination case that the court has considered in 30 years. The stakes are that high in this case, and I think that that's, you know, and they're probably right.

COOPER: Miss Gratz, obviously, you have already gone through school. Why is this still so important to you?

GRATZ: I think that the policy is wrong. I mean, I've watched other kids apply, I coached different sports in high school, watched those kids apply to school, and one day I'll probably have kids of my own, and I think that people should be treated fairly and equally and not treated differently based on the color of their skin.

COOPER: And if campuses do change, I mean, if campuses do become a less diverse place?

GRATZ: Campuses will not become a less diverse place. And keep in mind that race is just one part of diversity.

COOPER: All right. Well, Jennifer Gratz, we appreciate you coming out tonight. I know it's obviously going to be a very busy month for you. Thanks very much for joining us, and Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much.

GRATZ: Thank you.

COOPER: Later on NEWSNIGHT, home buyers, a new reason to beware. And up next, the governor of Oregon apologizes for a state program that sterilized people in state care.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, imagine a world where the disabled, the mentally ill, criminals, or people just thought to be morally suspect were all at risk of brutal treatment by a government group with an ominous name, the Board of Social Protection. It sounds like something out of Nazi Germany, but it is not. It is actually 20th Century Oregon. A campaign of forced sterilization that ended only a few decades ago, and it turns out Oregon was just one of many states with a policy of sterilization. Virginia was the first to apologize last spring; Oregon today became the second. Maybe some comfort for the thousands of Oregonians affected, and their surviving relatives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN KITZHABER (D), OREGON: Today I am here to acknowledge a great wrong that was done to more than 2,600 Oregonians over a period of approximately 60 years. Forced sterilization in accordance with a policy known as eugenics. Most of these Oregonians were patients in state institutions. The majority of them suffered from mental disorders and/or disabilities. Others were criminal offenders, or sufferers of epilepsy or other conditions that required institutional care. Many were children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The governor's words were something the victims have waited for and deserved for a very long time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Velma Hayes was 9 when this photo was taken in 1943, a ward of the Fairview State institution in Salem, Oregon. She was said to be feeble-minded and had been abandoned by her mother at the age of 2.

VELMA HAYES, FORCED STERILIZATION VICTIM: I just wondered why I was there, because I wasn't, you know, and I was very upset.

COOPER: In truth, Velma Hayes didn't have any physical or mental disability, but the state of Oregon decided she was unfit to ever have children. Without her permission, without even her knowledge, they sterilized her. Velma Hayes had just turned 15.

HAYES: They approach you and talked about it, and I refused, but I was 15, a minor, so they went to my parents, and then my mother had to sign to give the, you know, consent. And I didn't have anything to say about it.

COOPER: The terrible truth of what happened to Velma Hayes and other Oregonians was kept secret for generations. Records were hidden, documents shredded. It wasn't until 1983 that the truth came out. By then, more than 2,000 Oregonians deemed disabled or unfit had been victimized.

BILL LYNCH, OREGON COUNCIL ON DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES: They were playing the hand of God. The numbers were really high. We were number nine in the country in terms of the number of forced sterilizations that occurred here during that eugenics period, and we also used the law more harshly than was used in other states.

COOPER: In 1983, John Kitzhaber, now Oregon's governor, was a state legislator who voted to repeal the sterilization law.

KITZHABER: The time has come to apologize for the misdeeds that resulted from widespread misconceptions, ignorance and alas, from bigotry.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It is a remarkable tale. Joining us now with a history of sterilizations in Oregon and what prompted the policy, Pam Curtis. She is the Oregon policy adviser for human services. She joins us from Portland. Pam, thanks for being with us.

At the time, what was the rationale for these sterilizations?

PAM CURTIS, OREGON POLICY ADVISER FOR HUMAN SERVICES: Well, as best that we can understand them at this point, the policy of eugenics grew out of some understanding of Darwin's theory of evolution, whereby you could influence the pattern of evolution by preventing people who had undesirable traits from having children. And actually, interestingly enough, the father of eugenics, Sir Francis Colton (ph), was actually a cousin of Darwin's, and that's our best understanding at this point.

COOPER: And so, the people who were targeted for this -- I mean, it was a wide variety. I understand early on it was used against people -- homosexuals, people with epilepsy, young girls who were runaways, who were thought to be feeble minded, as in the case of the woman we just saw. I mean, it was a wide variety of people that were used in this way.

CURTIS: I think that's true. In Oregon, we passed the first eugenics law here in the state in 1917. And it allowed people who had certain undesirable characteristics, many of them you've mentioned, to be sterilized when they were institutionalized at the state expense.

COOPER: Is everything -- I mean, as we showed in the piece, a lot of this remained secret for a very, very long time. A lot of the evidence was basically shredded was disposed of.

Do we really know exactly what went on? Do we know the full extent of this?

CURTIS: I think we have a good sense of the extent. We think there were about 2,600 Oregonians that experienced this. I think we know the extent because of the records of the hospital. We do have some records that are missing so I don't know that we know exactly the process that occurred. But I think the important piece here is that we know enough to know that the people this happened to deserve an apology and today they received one.

COOPER: And why now? What brought about today's apology?

CURTIS: It's something that the Governor Kitzhaber felt very strongly about doing before he left office. He's leaving office in January. We wanted to get that done. It's simply just the right and just thing to do. It's also the next logical thing to do in a long series of steps that we've tried to take in this state over the course of the governor's administration to try to improve the care and treatment of people who have mental health disorders or developmental disabilities. COOPER: And as you mentioned, this law wasn't taken off the books until 1983. Do you know when the last sterilization was?

CURTIS: 1978.

COOPER: And do you know what the circumstances were?

CURTIS: I don't know the particulars of that individual that sterilization.

COOPER: So this wasn't only used as a preventive measure, it was used as punishment?

CURTIS: Well, our best understanding that it was -- you could call it a preventive measure, it was a measure to stop people who had undesirable characteristics from procreating and in a sense in punishment.

COOPER: And who was it who made the determination back then?

CURTIS: The initial the board, if you will, the eugenics happened under was something called the Board of Eugenics. That was changed in 1967 to the Board of Social Protection, which I think you mentioned in your introduction. Initially the Board of Eugenics was comprised of the superintendents of the state institutions where these folks lived. And then in 1967 when it was changed to the Board of Social Protection, in our state at least, it was changed so that the board was appointed by the governor.

COOPER: I read in account that in Nazi Germany, they used the history of this in the United States as justification of some of their policies in Germany. When you first heard about this, did it just boggle your mind?

CURTIS: It is pretty amazing that we would do something like that. It's something that we consider to be absolutely wrong and shocking at this point. And who knows what was -- there was a different historical context at the time that this was put into place. I think widespread misconceptions both in the community at large and in the professional community about the treatment and the abilities of people who had mental health disorders and developmental disabilities.

COOPER: Well, Miss Curtis, we very much appreciate you coming out and we appreciate you coming and talking about it tonight.

CURTIS: Well, thank you. I appreciate your interest.

COOPER: Well, ahead on NEWSNIGHT, some change of pace, some funky French history

And a new concern for home buyers. Who are the people in your neighborhood?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Touching briefly now on a few stories from around the world. Beginning on the oil blackened Atlantic coast of Spain. That countries King, Juan Carlos, walked the beaches near several fishing villages to see for himself the damage visited on the coast by the breakup, last month, of the tanker Prestige, which ruptured, of course, and sank during a storm releasing more than 5 million gallons of oil.

And from the space shuttle Endeavour, it undocked from the International Space Station. The Endeavour delivered a fresh crew to the station. Two Americans and a Russian and is bringing home the two cosmonauts and one astronaut who have been up there for six months. They're scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. weather permitting at Cape Carnaval.

A lot of things have changed in this country the last couple of years but one thing hasn't. The American dream still has a white picket fence around it, nice lawn out front, good yard in the back, room enough for the kids it safely play and safely grow up. That's why buying a house is such a big decision for most people because it isn't a house they're just buying, it's a future. And what if they find having bought that future that there is a serious threat to their children somewhere in it, a two-legged threat registered with the police?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Todd Sali and Birgitte Hellsten are moving out of their Venice, California rental apartment into a new home, their first home, with a 22-month-old and another child on the way, they need the space.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to make a right at the next block.

COOPER: Beyond their typical concerns locations, school, price, Todd and Birgitte are among a growing group of home buyers who want to know more. They want to know if sexual predators live in their new neighborhood.

BIRGITTE HELLSTEN, HOME BUYER: We thought that in there was an enormous clustering right here, then we would consider not buying the house.

COOPER: Thanks to Megan's law, the 1996 federal statute requiring federal government offenders to register where they live, home buyers can check on their neighbors. Their broker Ryan Flegal is required by state law to give out limited information, though he thinks even that makes too much of the issue.

RYAN FLEGAL, REAL ESTATE AGENT, CENTURY 21 BETTER HOMES: I present a piece of paper and I say here is this phone number that you can call and here's this way you can access who the registered sex offenders are. And because I'm presenting that paper, it draws extra attention to it.

COOPER: Todd and Birgitte ended up doing most of the research on their own. They learned 13 registered sex offenders live within a half mile radius of their new home. The information was scarce, not easy to come by and they questioned its accuracy. In the end they decided to move in anyway.

TODD SALI, HOME BUYER: It's artificially fear generating and, therefore, not that useful. Didn't really give us that much to be honest.

DANIEL ARMAGH, NATIONAL CENTER OF MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: Having power to protect your children means you're empowered with information. I think parents if given a choice overwhelmingly want to know.

COOPER: Neil and Kerry Glazer say they weren't given that choice. About a week after they moved into their $233,000 home on New York's, Long Island, a neighbor came home with a house warming gift and some startling news.

KERRY GLAZER, HOMEOWNER: They said by the way, we think you need to know that there's a pedophile living across the street and he brought the newspaper clippings over and we were devastated.

The Glazers sued the seller and the seller's broker for not disclosing the information.

NEIL GLAZER, HOMEOWNER: It was my belief they knew what was going on in that neighborhood. The house was on the market a year prior to when we bought it, then quickly taken off the market. We didn't know about what had gone on and we walked right into it.

COOPER: Since the convicted pedophile wasn't sentenced until after the signing of the contract, there would have been no way for them to have accurately used Megan's Law. The pedophile wasn't in the database.

DEAN HOLZMANN JR., GLAZER'S ATTORNEY: Regularly, buyers have a responsibility to investigate those items prior to purchasing a home, but those are the things that are readily accessible and available.

COOPER: Should brokers be obligated to do more? Unrealistic, says Laurie Janik, general counsel for the National Association of Realtors.

LAURIE JANIK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS: The only concern I have with an agent going and doing that research on their own is, again, the accuracy, the currency of that information, whether it's up to date or not.

COOPER: The Glazers have lost all legal attempts to reverse what happened and it seems to have left a scar on the neighborhood.

Home sales have been at a standstill since the Glazers moved in and that was four years ago.

K. GLAZER: We thought this was going to be, you know, a great house to raise our kids in and a fun area and it just did not turn out that way. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Ah, "Segment 7."

Finally from us, histories, mysteries. It's not the History Channel, but we try. The Paris edition. The mystery: just who is the history buff that without any prompting is sprinkling important plaques around the city, bearing witness to the very important things that happened there, the very important things that never happened?

Here's CNN's Jim Bittermann.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ah, Paris. The grandeur, the glory, the history. If only the walls could talk. And, in fact, they do through more than 2,000 historical plaques plastered on buildings all over town.

Here, for instance is where the movable feast briefly stopped to take on board author Ernest Hemingway. Where Rudolph Nureyev last hung up his dancing shoes, where Oscar Wilde finally put down his pen.

And if walls do talk here, lately some have been talking trash. Earlier this year, as many as 20 -- no one is sure of the exact number -- fake plaques went up, plaques that honor nobodies and nonevents.

This plaque says on April 17, 1967 nothing happened here. This one honors a bureaucrat named Karima Bentiffa, a person investigators cannot find anywhere.

No one knows who is behind the phony commemorations. This plaque pays tribute to putting up plaques.

But this being France, the plaque attack is the matter of some debate. Christof Peter (ph), who makes his history leading tourists through the history of Paris, says the fake plaques are no more than a laughing matter.

But others are less amused.

City councilman Claire D'Clairmont Tunnaire (ph) argues that the bogus tablets disgrace legitimate historical figures. She demanded that the mayor explain what steps he will take to stop plaque proliferation. And she points to strict plaque protocol, which pretty much requires a person to achieve death before honor.

(on camera): Given the size of egos in this city, it's understandable why some people might be upset about the counterfeit plaques. After all. practically anyone might be tempted to put up a plaque anywhere commemorating practically any dumb event. (voice-over): But it's worth nothing that this is not the first instance of commemorative fakery. For decades, the sculpted stone marking the birthplace of the French writer Muellier (ph) has been a known fraud.

No wonder real Parisians have acquired the habit of staring at their walls in disbelief.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sacre Blu! It's shocking, no?

Here's what's coming on "AMERICAN MORNING."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, thank you much. Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," it is the world's largest computer simulator convention. But it's much more than just the display of this fascinating new technology.

We'll give you an up close look at flying an F-15, we'll put you in the middle of urban combat, high-tech tools that are essentially helping America's troops get ready for battle right now. We'll have that for you tomorrow morning, 7 a.m. Eastern here on "AMERICAN MORNING." Hope to see you then -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Merci, Bill. That's it for NEWSNIGHT. Aaron Brown returns tomorrow. Good night.

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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