CNN CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT
Former Augusta Golf Club Member Discusses Resignation; Saudi Arabia Financing Terrorists?
Aired December 3, 2002 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CONNIE CHUNG, HOST: Good evening. I'm Connie Chung.
Tonight: the terror links. Do Iraq and Saudi Arabia have ties to terror?
ANNOUNCER: Is there a longstanding link between al Qaeda and Iraq? Plus, is money from Saudi Arabia financing terrorists around the world?
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ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: The most important part in the international effort against terrorism is to choke them of their financing.
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ANNOUNCER: Just what is the Saudi role in the war on terror?
Crisis in the priesthood: thousands of documents graphically detailing alleged sexual abuse of children by Boston-area priests.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We pray and hope, particularly for those who have suffered sexual abuse as children at the hands of clergy.
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ANNOUNCER: Did the church know of abuse and look the other way?
Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey has reached the top of Hollywood. Now he says it's time to pay it forward.
And who will be our "Person of the Day"?
This is CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT. Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York: Connie Chung.
CHUNG: Good evening.
We have a lot of ground to cover tonight, including the debut of our "Person of the Day." You'll meet him in a moment and find out how he made news by shaking up the old boys network. But first, there are several new developments in America's war on terror. The Associated Press quotes unnamed U.S. officials as saying a secret order signed by the president allows the CIA to kill American citizens overseas if the government decides they are members of al Qaeda.
Kuwait says that an Iraqi vessel opened fire on Kuwaiti Coast Guard vessels near Kuwait's naval border with Iraq. And U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq for the first time checked out one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces. They did not comment on their findings, but Iraq said it will hand in its weapons declarations Saturday, a day before the U.N. deadline.
And there is a disturbing new report that bolsters claims of links between Iraq and al Qaeda. The upcoming issue of "Vanity Fair" includes an article on Iraqi expatriates. And the writer, contributing editor Dave Rose, reports that a senior administration official claims there are almost 100 CIA reports, some dating back years, documenting cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda.
I spoke with David Rose earlier from London and asked him for some examples.
DAVE ROSE, "VANITY FAIR": Well, for example, I know that, in 1998, Farouk Hijazi, one of the most senior Iraqi intelligence officials, went to Afghanistan and spent some time with bin Laden.
There are reports that two of the 9/11 hijackers, Marwan al- Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, saw, met with known Iraqi intelligence officials in the Gulf states in the United Arab Emirates in the months before 9/11. And there are other examples of cooperation and contact between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and its intelligence service and al Qaeda going right the way back to 1992 in Sudan, when, of course, al Qaeda really transformed itself from a primarily charitable organization into the world's most deadly terrorist group.
And Sudan, at that time, though not, I stress, now, was really quite happy to offer safe refuge, both to al Qaeda and to the more noxious elements of Iraq's regime.
CHUNG: Now, the Bush administration here is trying to make a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda to garner international support for a potential war with Iraq. Why hasn't this information been released? It doesn't make sense.
ROSE: Well, your question is interesting, because you say the Bush administration. I think what is extraordinary here is that the administration is so deeply split.
On the one hand, you have the CIA, which has actually produced these reports, all of which, I should say, come under its most reliable grading of intelligence material. That is to say material from sources which have proven reliable in the past. On the one hand, you have the CIA, which is, if you like, the owner of these reports, which has actually been downgrading them, which has actually been almost suppressing them. On the other hand, you have the Pentagon...
CHUNG: But why?
ROSE: ... after much pressure.
Well, I think what you have here is an extraordinaire physical division. The CIA for years, and the State Department, have clung to the view that Saddam's Iraq, as a primarily secular state, would not get into bed with an Islamic fundamentalist group like al Qaeda. And they've really viewed these reports and other material in the same area through that prism.
I think what's becoming very clear now is, that view is mistaken, that in fact Saddam's Iraq is highly susceptible to cooperate with al Qaeda. Apart from having a common enemy...
CHUNG: I see.
ROSE: ... they share many common objections and they are only too happy to work together.
CHUNG: So, that means that the CIA and the State Department would have to admit that they were wrong years ago and they are wrong today?
ROSE: Well, I would guess there was no country in the world that was more heavily spied upon in the 1990s than Iraq.
And if, as appears from the CIA's own material, there was in fact a volume of stuff that showed that Iraq was working with al Qaeda at a time when, of course, al Qaeda was far less well-known than it is now, well, the suspicion must be: Well, why wasn't this drawn to the previous administration's attention? Why wasn't this much more widely disseminated? Why, in other words, was the West so ill-prepared to face the threat from al Qaeda when it was served so dramatically in 2001.
CHUNG: I see.
Now, I interrupted you when you were about to say there is a division between the CIA and the Pentagon. You were about to say what the Pentagon's view is.
ROSE: Well, I think the Pentagon, as is very well known, takes a much more hawkish position on Iraq than the CIA and the State Department.
It's the Pentagon which persuaded the White House to basically force the CIA to give it all this material near the beginning of this year, to give it access to the CIA's own material going back 10 years on both Iraq, on the one hand, and al Qaeda on the other. And it set up a special team to analyze this material to see what connections there were.
The results have been very surprising. I've actually spoken to no less than three separate administration officials who have had close sight of this material, and they all say it's quite dramatic. There are almost 100 separate reports, all graded in the most reliable category of intelligence from the CIA, showing detailed, close cooperations between Iraq and al Qaeda throughout this period.
CHUNG: A U.S. official denied to CNN that there were 100 high- quality reports and said the information in the reports that do exist is unsubstantiated. The CIA declined official comment.
Another country officially a U.S. ally responded today to claims that it, too, has links, unofficially, to terror. Saudi Arabia was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11 and is often fingered as a covert bankroller of terrorism.
Well, now, as CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel reports, the Saudis are trying to clean up their image.
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NARRATOR: We've been allies for more than 60 years.
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ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call it public relations American style. From Riyadh.
AL-JUBEIR: Over the years that people have now...
KOPPEL: To Washington. Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi kingdom's American-educated spin-meister has taken to the air waves to try to set the record straight. A series of recent reports alleging connections between Saudi citizens and 9/11 hijackers, al-Jubeir says, have turned his country into a convenient scapegoat.
AL-JUBEIR: I never expected to see this side of America. This visceral, knee-jerk, if it's Saudi it's got to be bad reaction.
KOPPEL: Part of the problem he says, a difference in cultures.
AL-JUBEIR: You tend to be public about expressing your emotions. We tend to be quiet. And that comes across, or came across after 9/11 as not caring, which is not the case.
KOPPEL: The centerpiece of al-Jubeir's P.R. pitch, a new report summarizing steps the Saudis have taken since 9/11 to keep Saudi donations from falling into the hands of terrorists. The steps include auditing all charitable groups, establishing new guidelines and regulations, and insisting charities report to the foreign ministry. The report also claims the Saudis have frozen $5.6 million belonging to three individuals in 33 bank accounts with suspected links to terrorism.
AL-JUBEIR: Are all the funds accounted for? I believe in some of the charities they're not. Do we have any evidence that those funds went to terrorist groups? No, we don't. Does that mean none went? I can't answer that question.
KOPPEL (on camera): The Bush administration welcomed the Saudi announcement, saying it is encouraged. But it's unclear whether this P.R. blitz will be enough to temper reports about alleged charitable donations to terrorists by Princess Haifa al-Faisal, the wife of the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
Andrea Koppel, CNN, at the State Department.
CHUNG: Joining us now to help flesh out exactly why the Saudis needed to take these steps: former FBI terrorism analyst Matthew Levitt, now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Thank you, sir, for being with us.
MATTHEW LEVITT, FORMER FBI TERRORISM ANALYST: My pleasure.
CHUNG: What do you think? Do you think that the Saudis are just engaging in a P.R. ploy? Or are they serious about monitoring these charitable contributions?
LEVITT: Well, we've really yet to tell.
There certainly is an interest here in engaging in a P.R. blitz, but there are some very encouraging aspects to this morning's press conference, if in fact they're implemented properly and with teeth. For example, if the Saudis do establish a financial intelligence unit that would provide tactical information, together with financial intelligence units from other countries, tracking these funds, that would be a very promising step.
If the Saudis were in fact, as Jubeir suggested in his statement, to allow the Financial Action Task Force, which is co-chaired by the United States and Spain, to come into the kingdom and see how these new laws are being implemented, that would be fantastic. To the extent that they open up and engage in cooperation with the international community in what is really a global problem of terrorist financing in a global financial market, that would be great. We have yet to see if that's what's going to happen.
CHUNG: What does history tell us? Are those things going to happen? Is it likely?
LEVITT: Well, history tells us that, when you dig deep enough and you start exposing dirty laundry, the Saudis shut the door. And if there was dirty laundry to be exposed after the bombing of the Saudi Arabian National Guard stationed in Riyadh, if there was dirty laundry to be exposed after the Khobar Towers bombing -- and there was -- there was much more in the case of terrorist financing.
Senior U.S. officials and many others continue to make statements that we do in fact have evidence, contrary to what al-Jubeir said, that senior members of the royal family have strong connections to some of these suspected group and front organizations, and, even more so, that as much as $100 million a year from wealthy Saudis who are closely connected to the royal family, according to a senior Treasury official, is going to terrorist groups annually.
CHUNG: Oh, my gosh, $100 million a year.
Now, today's focus was obviously on charitable donations, but aren't there other money trails that we should be concerned about?
LEVITT: There are many trails. The charitable and humanitarian organizations are only one. They are a very, very important one, especially in the case of Saudi Arabia.
We also need to look at official and unofficial banking systems, at the Hawala system of transferring funds, which is completely under the radar.
CHUNG: What is that?
LEVITT: It's an unofficial banking system whereby someone in one country wants to send money to someone in another country and they basically do it by making a phone call or sending an e-mail. And then the money is provided by a contact in the second country and later on is paid back. There's no paper trail and it's very hard to trace.
CHUNG: All right, obviously, the U.S. is concerned about Saudi Arabia's position in this war on terror. Does the announcement today give the U.S. any reassurance?
LEVITT: I think it does.
I think it gives the United States something tangible to hold onto and to hold the Saudis feet to the fire, to say: "Look, here's what you proposed. Now let's see it actually happen. And let us help you. We are co-chairing the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering. If we are allowed into the kingdom and we are allowed transparency and we are allowed to see what's going on, there could be some good things to come of it."
Unfortunately, the way this was presented, there were no tangible things to grab on to. We don't know exactly how or if this is going to be implemented. The fact that they suggest that so much of this has been done over the past year is disturbing, because we know that this activity, the financing of terrorism, continues, even since September 11.
CHUNG: Matthew Levitt, thank you. We appreciate it.
LEVITT: Thank you.
CHUNG: Still ahead: Beginning tonight, we are going to choose someone as our "Person of the Day." Each day, we'll pick someone who, for better or worse, has made an impact on our world.
Whom do we have our eye on for today's "Person of the Day?" One hint: He's standing up by stepping down. Do you have an idea of who it is?
Stay with us.
CHUNG: Who is our "Person of the Day?" We might have saved our selection for the end of the broadcast, but this person made significant news today and we didn't want to wait.
Thomas Wyman, the former CBS chief executive, is breaking away from the boys and taking a stand. He is the first member of the Augusta National Golf Club to resign in protest of its policy of barring women from joining, an issue that has kicked up quite a firestorm.
Augusta is home to the Masters golf tournament, a CBS event for almost 50 years. And Wyman told "The New York Times" -- quote -- "There are obviously some redneck, old-boy types down there." In response to Wyman's resignation, Augusta issued a statement saying -- quote -- "We intend to stand firm behind our right to make what are both appropriate and private membership choices."
Wyman, now a visiting scholar at Harvard Business School and the Sloan School at MIT, joins us now to explain, exclusively, for the first time on television, why he resigned.
Tom, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.
THOMAS WYMAN, FORMER AUGUSTA NATIONAL GOLF CLUB MEMBER: Well, I'm happy to be with you, Connie. It's been too long.
CHUNG: Yes, absolutely, sir.
Now, this kicked up the firestorm. It became an uproar back in June. Why did you decide to resign now?
WYMAN: Well, I've been brooding over several months as the sentiment has built around the country, particularly with the women's groups, and appropriately with the women's groups, questioning why there were no members at such a highly visible and attractive and popular location. It seemed out of tune with the times.
But what has brought it along, it became clearer and clearer that what once appeared the inevitability of women joining at some point, in fact, Hootie Johnson, who runs the club very firmly, has made it clear that there is no fixed plan and there may not be one for some time. And, in the process, we watch the heat being turned up on one of the great institutions in the United States.
CHUNG: And what is it doing to that institution?
WYMAN: Well, it's doing two things, I think.
One, it's -- the institution is drawing inward. It's asserting its right -- and I wouldn't quarrel with this -- that private institutions should have a chance to select their members. And that's an appropriate priority, unless there are some overriding considerations. And, in this case, there are.
For me, the parallel is with the blacks. But the issue, Augusta is not just a club. It's a shrine. It's a model. It's an internationally-recognized, absolute top sports event, beautifully run, beautifully managed, wonderful history. And its image is being chopped down by the day as the criticism mounts at the exclusionary policies, which are so far out of touch with the century we're living in now. And that's a larger consideration.
CHUNG: You said that the position of the leadership is downright pigheaded. And, obviously, I think a lot of people believe that Hootie Johnson completely mishandled the situation. But aren't there plenty of members of the club who actually agree with him?
WYMAN: Well, there certainly are, or at least they're prepared to march in single file behind him.
My hope and expectation is that the many corporate leaders, the many major figures in public life, whose own lives and enterprises have long since passed the diversity issue and treated it properly, that they will now surface and the good old boys club will join the 20th -- the 21st century, and which they could do so quickly.
CHUNG: You asked Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to join you in supporting the idea of women being admitted. Have you heard from them?
WYMAN: I have not heard from them. It was only in today's "New York Times" article that reference was made to the impact that they could have if they chose. To date, they have not. Arnold has stepped back. My guess is, he would approve, but he's not challenging the local authority at the moment. I hope he changes his mind.
CHUNG: Are they the only pros that belong to Augusta? I mean, there are others who have won the Masters and become basically...
WYMAN: No, there are only two.
CHUNG: Yes, all right.
So, when people were...
WYMAN: Only Palmer and Nicklaus.
WYMAN: Excuse me?
CHUNG: So, when people were calling on Tiger Woods to lead the pack and support the idea of admitting women, wasn't that a little unfair to ask him to do that, because he's not even a member?
WYMAN: I think that I agree, although his voice -- from a distance, I think there have been some wonderful, wonderful cries for support from nonmembers. I think, nationally, there's no question in my mind, despite the representations of the club, that there is a large block of sentiment that would approve the change, which could be made unnoticeably there. You wouldn't know who the new member or members, women, are, because women are there all the time. And the parallels with the effort that...
CHUNG: Because women are allowed to play -- women are allowed to play the course.
WYMAN: Oh, absolutely.
CHUNG: Let me ask you one more question.
WYMAN: There's something like...
CHUNG: Yes, go ahead.
WYMAN: Well, I think the parallel with the situation with the African-Americans, for me, is absolutely straight and clear, when, in 1990, we were forced, the club was forced to -- in order to keep the tournament, to have black members invited to join.
And so it was done. It was done quickly. It was done gracefully. There are now seven black members. They're wonderfully well accepted and everyone thinks it's a good idea. And it could be precisely the same with the women, in my view.
CHUNG: All right, Tom Wyman, thank you so much...
WYMAN: And that would be a...
CHUNG: Thank you so much for being with us.
WYMAN: You're very welcome.
CHUNG: And we appreciate the fact that you talked with us. And you know that you are our "Person of the Day." We appreciate it.
WYMAN: Well, thank you.
CHUNG: All right.
Before we take a break: A quick footnote to our coverage of the confrontation with Iraq kicks off tonight's look at the "World in 60."
(voice-over): The U.S. may not have gotten what it wanted from Turkey today. Turkey's foreign minister said his country would let the U.S. use air bases in the events of war with Iraq. But his office said later, he wasn't committing Turkey to any agreement.
U.S. officials say there's no reason to doubt a statement allegedly from al Qaeda claiming responsibility for the two attacks on Israelis in Kenya last week. Key British military and health personnel will get smallpox vaccinations. No specific threat, the government says, just a prudent precaution against bioterror.
And South Korea wants a tighter rein over U.S. troops there. Anti-American sentiment is growing after an American military court acquitted two soldiers for a traffic accident that killed two Korean girls.
CHUNG: And that's the "World in 60."
Next: The Boston Catholic Church releases thousands of pages of secret documents. What do they reveal about the church handling of sex abuse claims?
Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: a beautiful model brutally attacked and scarred for life. Now, Marla Hanson is turning her ordeal into a chance to help others.
CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT continues in a moment.
CHUNG: The Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese has released more than 11,000 pages of internal documents concerning the handling of priests accused of molesting children. And lawyers for some of the more than 400 alleged victims say the papers prove that official cover-ups of sex abuse were the norm. And these lawyers say, back then, the sympathy was for the priests, not the children.
CNN's Bill Delaney has details.
BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In thousands of pages of documents newly made public from the files of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, more extensive allegations than ever before, say attorneys for alleged victims of evil done by priests and failure to confront it by church officials.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's an extraordinary insight into the functioning of this archdiocese.
DELANEY (on camera): How many victims in all in the Archdiocese of Boston in the past quarter century?
ERIC MACLEISH, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: Thousands and thousands and thousands. And we don't know, and we're still counting, and we just don't know.
DELANEY (voice-over): The Boston Archdiocese and Archbishop Cardinal Bernard Law declined comment on the new documents, which victims' attorneys say again show the church not protecting the young, showing sympathy for accused molesters.
One example: the archbishop removed Father Robert Burns from a Boston parish in 1991 because of accusations of sexual abuse using these words: "life is never just one moment or one event and it would be unrealistic to have too narrow a focus." And: "please be assured of continuing remembrance in prayer that your courage and hope will remain strong."
Eventually jailed in 1996 for sexual abuse of a minor, Father Burns' name first turns up in 1982 in the Boston Archdiocese. Notes from a meeting of church officials mention burns -- quote -- "problem with little children."
Burns would work in Boston from 1982 to 1991, mostly under Cardinal Law. By May 1999, an archdiocese memorandum concluded, "Reverend Robert Burns' propensity was known to officials within the Archdiocese of Boston but overlooked in favor of Father Burns' solemn assurance of his ability to control his impulses."
Many Catholics continue to wonder why Boston's Archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, doesn't resign.
Thomas O'Neil, son of the beloved Congressman Tip O'Neil.
(on camera): When does law step back and resign?
THOMAS O'NEIL, FORMER ADVISER TO CARDINAL LAW: You know, I and my family have been around politics for a long time, and I think we've seen arrogance at every level in every size. But frankly, this takes the cake.
DELANEY: Attorneys who want release of the documents say they plan to depose Cardinal Law about them in coming weeks.
Bill Delaney, CNN, Boston.
CHUNG: Before we go to a break: a quick look at some of the more distinctive stories making headlines tonight. Here's a "Snapshot."
(voice-over): Passengers aboard the Carnival cruise ship Fascination are wondering if a stomach virus will ruin their Caribbean vacation. About 200 passengers became sick during a weekend voyage, among the latest in a series of cruise line illnesses.
Pop star Michael Jackson was back in court today defending himself in a lawsuit over a millennium concert cancellation.
Five University of Pennsylvania students face charges they beat, kicked and poured motor oil on a Princeton student visiting campus for a debate tournament.
A second royal butler charged with stealing from Princess Diana's estate is off the hook. Harold Brown's trial ended before it began with, prosecutors admitting they probably couldn't get a conviction after another royal butler was exonerated last month.
And in Peru, Spanish bullfighter Cesar Jimenez received a standing ovation just for going back into the arena. A bull had trampled him minutes before during his first fight of the afternoon.
CHUNG: Oh, my gosh. Did you see that?
When we come back: Remember Marla Hanson? She became famous as the model whose face was scarred for life. Now she's reaching out to victims scarred by a global tragedy.
Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: Kevin Spacey takes on a new role. Who said the Internet was dead?
CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be right back.
CHUNG: Marla Hanson had to learn a lot about courage after she was attacked by men who slashed her face with a razor and then had to testify against them. Now she's trying to use what she learned to help survivors of another horrific attack, the attack on the entire nation on September 11, 2001.
Fifteen years ago, Marla Hanson was looking forward to a promising career as a model. All that came to an abrupt end when the 24-year-old was viciously attacked by two men, who slashed her face with a razor blade. The brutal assault had been orchestrated by her landlord, Steve Roth, after Hanson had spurned his advances. The 15 razor cuts, some of them as deep as 1 inch, took 150 stitches to close.
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MARLA HANSON, FORMER MODEL: I've had so much support from everyone, all my friends, people I don't know. It's a publicized case, but I'm really feeling terrific.
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CHUNG: Hanson's psyche was severely damaged by the trial that followed. Her character came under attack when the defense branded her a liar and a seductress. Roth and the two attackers were convicted of first-degree assault and sent to jail. Hanson was given a $20,000-a-year trust fund by fashion industry mogul Milton Petrie and tried to move on with her life.
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HANSON: I'm so happy that it's finally over and I can get on with my life.
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CHUNG: These days, Marla Hanson is working with an organization called FEGS, health and human services, to help train counselors who deal with those recovering from September 11. And she's come in to tell us a little bit about that work.
Marla, thank you so much for being with us.
HANSON: You're welcome.
CHUNG: You look so beautiful.
HANSON: Oh, well, thank you.
CHUNG: No, but I know that the emotional scars for you were so much deeper than the physical scars, as awful as they were.
When we heard you say that you were kind of optimistic at the end of that little background story, you sounded so good. But, in fact, you took a dive.
HANSON: I did. I did.
CHUNG: You became very depressed after the trial.
HANSON: The trials were -- I think the damage or the trauma that I suffered during the year of the trials was so much worse than the cuts on my face.
At that point, though, I hadn't really absorbed what I'd been through. And I don't think I'd processed any of it yet. I just had focused on getting through the trial. But, in the end of that, I was just devastated by the way things went and the fact that I had to prove my innocence in order to prove their guilt, and the way they blame the victims during the trial process.
CHUNG: So, then you did get some counseling.
HANSON: I did.
CHUNG: You went to film school.
HANSON: I did.
CHUNG: And you thought you were starting a new career path.
HANSON: And I did. I did great for quite a while, for a good 10 years. I think I was really busy, too.
I went back to school. I got a job with a director in New York. And I was writing and producing and editing and having a pretty good time in starting my career in film. And... CHUNG: And then bang.
HANSON: Bang. Bang.
And, I don't know. I think it was a combination of suffering, some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder all along that I didn't recognize and that I couldn't give a name to, because I didn't know what it was.
HANSON: And then trying to outrun it, trying to stay so busy that I couldn't really focus on myself. And then it hit when I quit my job with the director. And I thought I would strike out on my own and have my own career. And I was paralyzed. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't get out of bed. And, frankly, I was really shocked.
CHUNG: So that caused you, actually, to take such a downward spiral.
HANSON: It did.
CHUNG: You were actually suicidal.
HANSON: I just wanted to die. I really did.
CHUNG: Can you fathom that you were in such a state? Do you remember it at all or is it like a big blur?
HANSON: I do.
I'd been depressed for quite a while, so I'd been living with that. And I remember the moment when I realized how bad it had gotten. I was watching TV with a friend of mine, a news show -- a group of friends, actually -- and a story came on about somebody who died of carbon monoxide poisoning. And I remember having this little -- what I thought was an interior dialogue with God, thinking, "How come he gets to die and I don't?" And I actually said it.
CHUNG: To them.
HANSON: Yes. And they cleared out the room. And everybody got really quiet. And they all made their excuses and left. And my friend said: "Oh, my God. I didn't know you were suicidal."
And I was like, "Well, wanting to die and killing yourself are two different things."
And he said, "Well, there's kind of a fine line there."
CHUNG: Yes, exactly.
HANSON: And I thought it was kind of normal to feel that way.
CHUNG: So you ended up, actually, selling all your things in your apartment. HANSON: I did.
CHUNG: Living in a hotel.
CHUNG: And really getting down to rock bottom. You hit rock bottom.
HANSON: I hit rock bottom. And I spent those six to eight months trying to decide if I wanted to live or die.
And I picked death. I wanted to die. And I was going to do it. And I was planning it. And then it a chance encounter with somebody, with a Vietnam vet, who said: "Oh, my God. You must really have PTSD. Do you have those hand-to-hand combats with your moods every day? Do you walk those mine fields of anger?"
And I was completely blown away. The terminology was hilarious, because he was a vet. But it was the first time anybody had said something like that to me and put it in terms I could understand. And I thought, "Oh, my God."
CHUNG: It made sense.
HANSON: Yes. "I have an illness. I have a disorder. I don't have to kill myself. Maybe I can get some help."
CHUNG: So, indeed, you did get help.
HANSON: I turned things around. I did.
CHUNG: And now you're fine. You're married?
HANSON: I'm married. I have a 5-year-old daughter. And life is good.
CHUNG: And now you're helping others. And what are you doing with these 9/11 firefighters and even victims and what have you?
HANSON: Well, having gone through -- not a similar experience. I don't like to compare anybody's trauma. But having been through a difficult situation and come out the other side, a lot of people were coming to me and asking me what I did and what kind of therapy I had.
And I started -- basically, I guess my role has been that of an educator, talking about PTSD, doing what that Vietnam vet did for me, saying: "This is what it is. There's help. There's medications available. There's therapy available. You don't have to kill yourself. You don't have to live for 10 years in a depression, like I did."
And I've recently been talking to a lot of counselors and working with FEGS Health and Human Services to try and train the trainers, to talk to them about my experience, and what I did, and what worked for me, and different issues, and the idea of spirituality and recovery. And it's been really exciting...
CHUNG: Well, good for you.
HANSON: ... to be able to give back in that way.
CHUNG: Yes, exactly.
Next up, we are going to be talking to someone who is giving back, too, Kevin Spacey.
It's a good feeling, isn't it?
HANSON: It is.
CHUNG: So, you don't mind going back and talking about your experiences?
HANSON: No, because I think I have some distance on it. I feel safe. I don't feel like I'm going to kill myself tomorrow. So...
CHUNG: Or that the individuals who were convicted, they are now out of prison. Two of them are.
CHUNG: Now, one of them died in prison.
HANSON: That's right.
CHUNG: Do you not fear them?
HANSON: I guess there's a little bit of that fear that now I'm opening up the hornet's nest again and bringing these things up, which are not pleasant, I'm sure, for them. But, no, they haven't threatened me. They haven't come after me. I hope that we've all put it behind us now and can move on.
CHUNG: You are so nice to say that it's not pleasant for them.
Thank you, Marla, for being with us.
HANSON: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
CHUNG: We really appreciate it.
HANSON: Thank you.
And still ahead, Kevin Spacey drops by the studio to tell us about his latest project. He's giving back, too.
CHUNG: You ever get tired of hearing big-shot actors complain about Hollywood while they're promoting their latest big-budget explosion fest? Yes? Well, me, too. And, apparently, I'm not alone, because now one of Hollywood's biggest stars is putting his money where his Oscars are.
And I'm talking about Kevin Spacey. And before we sit down and talk about his latest role, a quick look back at his most notable ones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICAN BEAUTY")
ANNETTE BENING, ACTRESS: Buddy, this is my...
KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: Her husband. We've met before, but something tells me you're going to remember me this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHUNG (voice-over): You probably remember Kevin Spacey from his Oscar-winning performance as Lester Burnham, the suburban dad having a midlife crisis in "American Beauty."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE USUAL SUSPECTS")
SPACEY: The only thing that scares me is Kaiser Soze.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHUNG: Or you might remember him from his first Academy Award: best supporting actor in "The Usual Suspects."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE USUAL SUSPECTS")
SPACEY: People say I talk too much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHUNG: Spacey also had memorable roles in films such as "L.A. Confidential," "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and "Pay it Forward."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "PAY IT FORWARD")
SPACEY: This is your assignment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHUNG: Born in New Jersey in 1959, Kevin Spacey began acting on the stage. He won a Tony Award in 1991 for "Lost in Yonkers." He was mentored by Jack Lemmon and said he feels a responsibility to help other young actors.
SPACEY: It's part of the payback, really. It's an important -- and it actually feels great. It really does, when you do something that you see it affects people. CHUNG: Spacey has taken most of this year off to focus on creating TriggerStreet.com, a free Web site devoted to finding and helping new talent, screenwriters, and filmmakers.
CHUNG: And he's set aside just a couple of minutes from that task to fill us in on exactly what he's doing.
SPACEY: Thank you for having me.
CHUNG: I am loving you. I'm loving your work. I am telling you...
SPACEY: Well, I'm glad to be here so we can talk.
CHUNG: All right, we'll talk.
SPACEY: You and I together.
CHUNG: Yes. This is what we're going to do.
CHUNG: But you know what? It's that little grin, that "I'm up to no good" that I love about you. And it's the full range from devilish to downright sinister.
Did your mother used to say to you, "Kevin, what are you up to?"
SPACEY: Well, yes, I did get away with a lot as a kid, but my mom raised me right. So I'm making up for it now.
CHUNG: You're a good boy?
SPACEY: Yes, I'm making up for it now.
CHUNG: OK, all right, I know you want to talk about your Web site. And we promise we will get to that. We'll talk about it.
But you credit two people in particular for sort of jump-starting your career. Tell me about them.
SPACEY: Well, the first, which we saw just a little clip of, is the great late Jack Lemmon, who I actually met when I was 14 years old.
SPACEY: Yes. I went to a seminar that was held at the Mark Taper Forum. And they were doing a production of "Juno and the Paycock," Walter Matthau and Jack.
And I still remember the moment I shakily walked up to him to ask for his autograph and asked if he had any advice. And he gave me advice.
CHUNG: Because, at that time, you already knew you wanted to be an actor?
SPACEY: I already knew. I knew when I was about 8.
CHUNG: You're kidding?
CHUNG: How come?
SPACEY: I just -- for me, it was an incredible world where you could escape. I grew up sort of watching the late movies and admiring actors enormously. And I think my parents would say I was always the class clown and the one making the silly voices in the back of the room.
So, Lemmon actually gave me some pretty great advice and said that, if I was serious about it, I ought to come to New York. I ought to study. I did. I went to Juilliard here for a number of years. And then, finally, I met him again in an audition for "Long Days Journey Into Night," which we've been looking at a clip of.
And I ended up playing his son for more than a year on the road. We took the play all over the place. And then we filmed it, which is what you're seeing there.
CHUNG: But then you worked with him several more times.
SPACEY: Yes, we did.
CHUNG: His mentoring didn't stop.
And aside from the joy of being able to work with him and how much I admired him, I think his example, of being able to work with somebody who had reached the pinnacle of success, who never allowed Hollywood glory to go to his head, and who really is the person who kind of gave me the phrase that we've been using at TriggerStreet for a while, which is that, if you've done well...
CHUNG: TriggerStreet is the name of your Web site.
SPACEY: It's the name of the Web site and also the name of my production company.
But that if you've done well in whatever business you're in, then you ought to spend about half of your time sending the elevator back down.
CHUNG: So good. Such a good thought, but you've moved it into action.
OK, the other person who was key in your life? SPACEY: The other person I think, really, was the first film director who ever fought for me against the studios, which was Alan Pakula.
And I did a film with him called "Consenting Adults," which, while it wasn't the greatest movie ever made, it was, for me, an extraordinary beginning, because it was really only after that studios began to pay attention to me. And it was because one person stood up and said, "No, I think this actor is the right actor for the role," even though, at that point, I was really kind of a obscure theater actor, kind of fell out of a tree.
CHUNG: Everybody sort of needs a rabbi in New York, you know?
SPACEY: Yes, exactly.
CHUNG: All right, so, let's get to your Web site.
It's payback time. You decide you are really going to do something for -- really put your heart and soul into it for a whole year. So, you take off work, I mean doing any movies or whatever.
SPACEY: That's right.
CHUNG: And now this is your dream.
SPACEY: Well, what's great about talking with you tonight is that this almost gets to be a little bit of an update about how it's doing.
We launched three weeks ago on Sunday. And Dana Brunetti, who is my business partner in this adventure, and, actually, I should credit with this being really his idea, after a series of conversations we had about things that I was frustrated by in the industry, the first being, you can't take unsolicited material, that little manila envelope that arrives at your office that could be a great screenplay.
CHUNG: And why not?
SPACEY: Well, because there's all kinds of legal reasons why you can't open unsolicited material. But the fact of the matter is, is that I wouldn't have a career if it weren't for unsolicited, because of the first-time directors, second-time screenwriters, first-time playwrights who gave me a chance and I took a chance on.
I felt it was somehow odd that I'm suddenly cut off from that whole pipeline of talent. So, Dana came up with this idea and approached me with it a little more than a year ago. And, essentially, it is -- right now, there's an online short film festival and a screenwriting forum. It doesn't cost anybody any money. All you have to do is participate in the site.
So, if you had a little film and you wanted to upload it -- and I'm sure you do have a couple of little films.
(LAUGHTER) CHUNG: Not that you'd want to see.
SPACEY: Not that I'd want to see.
CHUNG: I don't think so.
SPACEY: All you have to do is go to the site. You have to register, go through that process. And then you have to read, rate and review or watch, rate and review two screenplays that exist on a site or two short films.
CHUNG: I, as an ordinary person, in order to submit, have to review two others.
SPACEY: Yes, you must participate, because what we're trying to do is to create a community, where, you could be the next great filmmaker, but if the only people you've ever shown your work to is your family, you may not be getting the best criticism. And so far, as of today, I think we are at about 38,000 members.
SPACEY: Registered members.
There's some 20,000 reviews that have been posted; 1,000- something screenplays have been uploaded and over 600 short films. So, clearly, there was an audience out there just that we've managed to come along in the Internet, which is sort of now this vast wasteland, and we've started this new adventure.
CHUNG: Well, obviously, all these people want the doors to open for them. Is that opportunity going to be there, do you think?
SPACEY: I think that what I'm going to try to do, in addition to paying attention to it for our own company, mostly, we want people to write and to do the things they want to do because they have a passion for it, not because they might win something at the end of the day.
But I hope that, by coming on here, by doing the amount of work that we've been doing to get the industry to pay attention to it, that other studio executives, that production companies, that executives and producers will take a look and realize that there's a new place...
CHUNG: A source.
SPACEY: ... to find material. And that's TriggerStreet.com.
CHUNG: That is so great.
I can't stand the idea that I can't talk to you longer. But, just quickly, you've got a lot of impressive judges.
SPACEY: Yes. We've actually got a wonderful group of judges. Our first group who are going to judge the...
CHUNG: Can you name-drop? SPACEY: Yes, I'll name-drop.
The eventual finalists of the film festival will be about 10 or 15 films. And then we'll pass those on to our judges. We have Bono, Annette Bening, Mike Myers. There's a lovely group.
CHUNG: Sean Penn.
SPACEY: Sean Penn is doing it.
See, you've done your work. I like that.
SPACEY: And I also should say that Budweiser has sponsored the entire site. And they have done an incredible job for us by really seeing its social value. And we're going to debut a short film of theirs, actually, this coming week called "The Best Man." So, we are very grateful to them and RealNetworks for providing all of the streaming.
CHUNG: Good old Budweiser. How you doing?
SPACEY: Yes, good. In fact, I'm going to go have a Bud right now.
CHUNG: All right. I'm with you.
Thank you so much. My hands are real cold.
SPACEY: No, that's all right. It's nice in here. It's not as cold as "Letterman."
CHUNG: Oh, no. That is really freezing.
SPACEY: That's really freezing.
CHUNG: He's crazy, it's so cold.
SPACEY: See, you've brought a little warmth to network television.
CHUNG: OK. Oh, I'm happy about that. Thank you so much.
SPACEY: Thank you for having us.
CHUNG: All right.
And when we return, we'll look to tomorrow.
CHUNG: Tomorrow: The Central Park jogger case, did they get the right guys?
And next on "LARRY KING LIVE," Brenda van Dam talks about her daughter's killer.
Thank you for joining us. And for all of us at CNN, have a good night and we'll see you tomorrow.
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