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War With Iraq; Can the U.S. do it Without Europe?

Aired February 10, 2003 - 15:00   ET


ARTHEL NEVILLE, HOST: Hello, everybody. Welcome to TALKBACK LIVE. I'm Arthel Neville. Well, the White House says time is running out for Saddam Hussein while key European allies want to push back the clock. Today, President Bush told an audience of religious broadcasters Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, is using civilians to shield his soldiers. He has given Iraq a week to get in line.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a threat to the United States of America. He's a threat to some our closest friends and allies. We don't accept this threat.


NEVILLE: Now, at the same time, the very fabric of NATO is being strained as Germany and France align with Russia to oppose immediate action in Iraq.


JACQUES CHIRAC, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): There is an alternative to war, we are convinced of that. And the use of force can only be a final recourse. Russia, Germany, and France are resolved to give every possibility to the disarmament of Iraq by peaceful means.


NEVILLE: Now, we invited a round table of correspondents to put some perspective on today's developments.

With us are Andrea Koppel at the State Department, Michael Okwu at the United Nations, and CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson in Baghdad. And Michael, I am going to start with you. Russia -- President Vladimir Putin says, Listen, Russia and France insist on diplomacy. Unilateral actions would be a mistake. And so I ask you, can Russia and France block a war?

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That would be very difficult to do, Arthel, at this point. Russia and any other country on the council can certainly -- can certainly veto. It's certainly among the five permanent members of the council. They have veto power, and they can veto any kind of resolution. What they risk, if there is enough international will and political will for a resolution, what they risk is isolating themselves.

And in fact, if you talk to some diplomats, and certainly some U.S. officials, what they're counting on is for all the other countries to eventually fall in line. To either just not put a vote forward and then, in effect, if France vetoes, then France would be standing alone in the international community.

NEVILLE: And Andrea Koppel, I ask you now, would the U.S. go to war without the support of key allies?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it would, Arthel, but if you're asking me whether or not this is a likely option, and one that this administration would take, I'd say no. In point of fact, many people believe that the U.S., behind the scenes right now, this high stakes diplomacy that's going on, is telling the French, is telling the Germans and the Russians to no small degree, that if they don't sign on in the here and now, if they don't support a war, then forget about any action after Saddam Hussein is overthrown. Russia and China -- excuse me, Russia and France have huge economic interests. The Iraqi government owes them billions of dollars in oil contracts that they haven't paid back, and the U.S. is telling them, again, in no uncertain terms, forget about thinking that you're going to have any slice of that pie.

NEVILLE: And Nic, of course, today Iraq is saying that they will allow U.S. spy planes to fly over Iraq, to be used for surveillance. Is this a concession on Saddam's part, and how big a step is this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What they're allowing are U-2 surveillance aircraft, a U.S. aircraft, but flagged and operating purely for the U.N. in support of the U.N. inspection mission on the ground. This has been a very, very big issue for Iraq, one of the principle reasons, there are the northern and southern no-fly zones in Iraq: south of the 33rd Parallel, north of the 36th Parallel. What Iraq has said up to now is that because those areas are patrolled by allied aircraft firing on positions in Iraq, air defense facilities, what Iraqis call civilian and service infrastructures, they say that their ground defense facilities would fire at -- maybe at the U-2 aircraft by mistake, mistaking it for U.S. or British aircraft flying in those northern and southern no-fly zones. That's been the issue.

What President Saddam Hussein has been saying on television just a few minutes ago is that if his ground defensive facilities are not allowed to fire on those aircraft, then that looks like capitulation, and he said that situation is completely unacceptable.

What final agreement has been reached between Iraqi officials and the U.N. isn't clear, but there's no indication that these northern and southern no-fly zone patrolling flights by coalition aircraft are going to stop any time soon -- Arthel.

NEVILLE: Now, Michael, what's the perspective from the U.N. on this issue?

OKWU: Well, I can tell you this much. U.S. officials say that this is no great concession on the part of the Iraqi government, that this was a very significant portion of Resolution 1441, that the Iraqis were asked to do this months ago when this resolution was adopted, and that for everybody to now jump up and scream and clap their hands and say that the Iraqis are finally complying really misses the game here.

The fact is, according to U.S. officials, all along they had been expecting the Iraqis to play, again, this sort of cat and mouse game. They're expecting the Iraqis the come forward and make some sort of public relation statement, as they put it, and then offer -- quoting now from a U.S. official -- some sort of cosmetic olive branch.

So this -- as far as they're concerned, is a game the Iraqis are playing in order to get the international community on their side, in order to get the attention of France, of Russia, perhaps China, some of those countries much more reluctant to go to war. To say look, the Iraqis are finally complying -- so what gives?

NEVILLE: Interesting. Andrea Koppel, before we go, you mentioned how the U.S. is saying to France, Listen, if, in fact, you don't go along with this plan, don't expect any support from the U.S. on the back end. Is that seeming -- that seems to be a strong arming type of tactic?

KOPPEL: Oh, absolutely. And in fact, on the French side of things right now, if you want to sort of get into their minds why this is taking place, why is it so important to France, which is leading the charge of this opposed to war group. The reason most people believe is that the French don't want to attach themselves, in the words of one expert, to Godzilla, to the United States. They can't stand the fact that there is one superpower, and that the U.S. would be calling the shots.

But at the end of the day most people believe, including many in the Bush administration, that the French will sign on. But getting back to your earlier question to Michael, if the U.S. doesn't feel it has the votes, and it takes 9 votes out of 15 members on the Security Council to pass a resolution without a veto. If it doesn't have those votes, Arthel, it is not going to the U.S. or Great Britain submit a second resolution, and they will go it alone, although most people believe that the U.S. will get the support by the end of the day.

NEVILLE: Nic, is there a sense there that war is eminent?

ROBERTSON: Certainly, a lot of people here feel it is inevitable. Many Iraqi officials think that it doesn't matter what they do in regards to Resolution 1441, it's never going to be enough. They've expected to hear this response from the White House, they believe that they're doing everything that they can. As far as officials are concerned, there is a resignation to that fact, and as far as people here are concerned, they are really anxious at this time about the likelihood of war. Many people trying to make whatever preparations they can.

Passing a store here on the way in to where we work here, the Ministry of Information today, I saw people getting from a government store paraffin heaters so that they can heat their houses when and if the electricity goes off during a war -- so people here very concerned -- Arthel.

NEVILLE: OK. Nic Robertson, Andrea Koppel, and Michael Okwu, thank you very much for joining us here on TALKBACK LIVE today.

Well, what does it mean when some of America's NATO allies go down a different road? NATO members France, Germany and Belgium are vetoing efforts to provide security for Turkey in the event of war. Here's what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had to say about that.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Three European countries are isolated from the rest of the NATO alliance. Sixteen countries -- two North American and 14 in Europe don't agree with them, with those three countries. That's what it means.


NEVILLE: OK. With us is Fabrice Roussela (ph) -- Rousselot -- hello. How are you sir?


NEVILLE: Good. He is the New York bureau chief of the French daily newspaper "Liberation." And sir, I ask you, why won't France, Germany, and Belgium support the NATO proposal?

ROUSSELOT: Basically, I think because, for the moment, the position of the French government it is no time -- is not a time of war. It's still time for the inspectors to work. I mean, the French position since the beginning have been pretty clear. The U.N. Security Council and the international community has voted a resolution back on November 8, the 1441 basically favoring a process of inspections in Iraq.

The French still think that this process should go on. The inspectors themselves have said basically there's no proof that Iraq has been rearming. They need more time. They're asking for more time. There's been some progress, there has been some problems. But the French are basically saying if we can pursue those inspections, let's pursue them before we go to war. France never said no to war. They said, basically, if inspectors go back -- come back to the U.N. and say we can't work with Saddam Hussein any more, he's blocking everything, then they go back to the Security Council and think of all options it can -- it can have.

NEVILLE: OK. So do you think that the French believe that Saddam is cooperating?

ROUSSELOT: No, I don't think -- they believe basically that there is still a lot of things to be done and to improve the process. I mean, what they are saying and what they said this morning, resolution 1441 isn't exhausted. I mean, they offered last week to increase the number of inspectors. They offered to have some troops on the ground, to be able to monitor sites.

They're basically saying we do know, you know, nobody is saying that Saddam Hussein is a great leader and he should be supported and so on. But they think that basically there's a lot of ways to be worked out for inspectors to work. What they are saying as well is so far Mr. Blix and ElBaradei have said to themselves, there's no proof that nothing is happening and would like to work and get more time.

NEVILLE: If you could hold on, I have got to take a break.

This brings us to the question of the day, which is, "Should the U.S. take action without U.N. Security Council support." You can go ahead and give me a call at 1800-310-4cnn or of course you can e-mail me at And I will take your comments later hour.

Then don't go anywhere because we're going to continue talking about Iraq. You'll hear from a man who say Americans should declare a boycott on Americans traveling to France.

Don't go anywhere. The TALK continues in a moment.


NEVILLE: Today on TALKBACK LIVE: Showdown with Iraq. Is it a time for action or should the U.S. take the route being pushed by France and Germany, and wait awhile?

Also, today, entertainer Michael Jackson, is still upset over recent television interview that he says distorted the facts about his relationship with children. He says he going to put out his own version of that show and you can decide which one to believe. We'll talk with a friend of the Jackson family later on TALKBACK LIVE


NEVILLE: And welcome back, everybody. We're talking with a French journalist, Fabrice Rousselot.

And I ask you, sir, there are some who charge that this is all about the French interest in Iraqi oil. And if you could talk about that for us.

ROUSSELOT: Yes, I know about that.

I mean, oil is part of Iraq. That's an issue, but I don't think it's one of the main issues behind it. Actually, if you look at it, Iraq sold almost 60 percent of its oil to America for the past two years. So, it's also an interest for America as well as France. I don't think that's one of the main issues here. I think the main issue, at least for France, is that the national diplomacy and the way it should be held. Basically the French position is, if there is a war to be declared it has to be declared within the U.N. and not by one country by itself.

I heard Michael Okwu, you know, earlier saying that basically France would be isolated if it decided to vote against a war. For now, to be honest, as far as I know, among the 15 members of the Security Council, 11 of those members are basically pursuing inspections and against war. It might change by the end of the week and I think one of the key obviously would be the report by Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei.

If Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei say it's very bad, cooperation has been very bad there's nothing we can do, then maybe it's going to change and the whole power of balance is going to change. For now it doesn't seem that way. Mr. Blix and ElBaradei have been saying, it's not great but OK. So I think comes at the end. Comes to the voting of the Security Council. And as one of the correspondence says, if the U.S. doesn't get majority among the Security Council, are they going to go by themselves, at least without the U.N.?

NEVILLE: What do you think will be the outcome, before I let you go?

ROUSSELOT: To be honest, I don't know. Right now, I don't know. I have been talking to 10 of the 15 members this morning. Officially they all say that they're not moving so far. The position is still the same. Obviously France might put a resolution down in terms of enforcing the inspectors, but I'm not sure it's going to happen anyway.

My newspaper conversation with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the French foreign minister. He assured the paper that France could abstain in case of America putting down a resolution for war in those conditions, the conditions we know today. So at the end, I think we're going to see a lot of wrangling and tangling in the next few days. And I'm not sure we'll get a majority of the Council at the end of the week or maybe next week.

NEVILLE: Fabrice Rousselot, thank you very much for joining us here. French journalist here on TALKBACK LIVE today.

ROUSSELOT: Thank you, I enjoyed it.


Now the split between America and key European allies over war with Iraq. We're still talking about that.

Joining us now is, Rich Galen, a political columnist with the Web site He was secretary to --hello -- Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Also Bernie Ward host of "The Bernie Ward Show" on KGOAM radio in San Francisco. And I want to welcome both of you.

Rich, why don't Americans and French -- why don't they see eye to eye as it pertains to Iraq?

RICH GALEN, COLUMNIST, MULLINGS.COM: It's hard to say. I don't think anybody on this side of the Atlantic would, for any amount of money try to discern what's inside the French mind. But I have to go back to the time when I first decided that I didn't want to have anything to do with the French and that was back in April of 1986 when President Reagan decided that Muammar Qadhafi was a clear and present danger to United States interest.

We sent F-111s out of the U.K. to bomb Qadhafi and the French refused to allow us to fly over France, so did Spain by the way. So our F-111 had to go the long way around. And by the way, at that time this is interesting. At that time "Newsweek" did a poll and in the run up to that attack two-thirds of the people polled thought there would be repercussions. Well, guess what? We haven't had a peep out of Muammar since 1986 when we dropped a bomb down his chimney.

NEVILLE: Let me get, Jack, here.

Jack, how do you see it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think President Bush is correct when he's forcing the other countries to make the hard decisions.

NEVILLE: So, Bernie, is this what President Bush is doing, forcing the others to make a tough decision or is it just a strong arm tactic?

BERNIE WARD, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You heard from your own reporter what this is really about is economics. United States has gone to Russia France and China and said, if you don't back us, we'll avoid all your oil contracts, and give it all to American companies so you better get on board. I have never heard of a higher moral reason to go to war in my life. That's going to go down with the speeches of the Gettysburg Address and so forth. For rallying the troops to come to a moral cause which is what this is all about.

If you don believe me look at the United States' position toward North Korea. North Korea doesn't have any oil. Iraq has plenty. So this is about getting them to come on board. We can't sell them on terrorism side of it. We can't sell them on the fact that Saddam is this great danger to the world. So now the United States is reduced to telling them either you come with us or we just avoid all your contracts and you lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

NEVILLE: You know what hang on for me, Rich. The audience is definitely applauding that. I want to hear from you when we come back.

We are going to take a break in the meantime.

Is war with Iraq inevitable? We'll find out what Rich and Bernie think after the break so don't go anywhere -- as well as lady Patsy (ph) in the audience. She's clapping really loudly over there.


NEVILLE: Welcome back, everybody.

We're talking about whether war with Iraq can be avoided. Pat (ph), before going to break -- stand up for me. I want to hear what was on your mind.

PAT: Well, I just said that I feel our present policy is reckless, it's insane and the people in Europe and the people in the United States do not support the United States attacking Iraq preemptive, lateral even with a coalition of the willing. It is not the same as a coalition sanctioned by the United Nations, period.

NEVILLE: OK. Thank you.

Rich, I think I cut you off. Go ahead, too.

GALEN: Well, that lady, of course, is incorrect about who supports what.

But I do think that it's very important that if we are contemplating going to war that we have these kinds of discussions. I don't want her to think that I think she shouldn't have her voice. She's just wrong.

You know, what the reporter from "Liberation" said earlier is right. The French have not said, as the Germans have said, Gerhard Schroeder, who is a German thug, which may be a redundancy, actually, that Germany will not take any role in Iraq no matter what. The French have been, as usual, a bunch of weasels about trying to play both sides of this thing. To say, we're opposed, we're opposed, we're opposed, but everybody, everybody knows when it comes down to the crunch, they'll run around to try to get into the parade as quickly as they can.

NEVILLE: John (ph) from Pennsylvania.

JOHN: I want to know if anyone believes that anything can be done to stop George Bush from having his war.

NEVILLE: Let's ask Rich that.

GALEN: Oh, sure. A lot of things can -- first of all, it's not George Bush's war. I think it is a war to protect not only that region but also Europe and also our interests here in the mainland of the United States.

But I do think that some things can be done. One...

NEVILLE: Rich, how sit to protect the interests here in the mainland of the United States?

GALEN: Because -- because here's a man that everybody -- everybody says has weapons of mass destruction. Even though we can't find them, or at least inspectors can't find them -- because e have been talking about the fact that, what if we go in there and they use chemical, they use biological weapons. Well how could he use them if he didn't have them?

So clearly he does and clearly they're available

NEVILLE: So he's had those for more than a decade now, though, right, Rich?

GALEN: Right, and for more than a decade we haven't had President Bush as our president of the United States.

NEVILLE: We had another President Bush.

GALEN: Well, but they -- he went in and did what he had to do.

NEVILLE: That was about Kuwait.

GALEN: And then we had eight years of not a Bush.

NEVILLE: OK. Emil (ph).

EMIL: At this particular time I think the United States is doing the right thing. I think that we have to go in there, we have to get rid of these threats to our nation and other nations around the world. It's ridiculous what happened to us on September 11. I'm a veteran of the Vietnam War.

NEVILLE: And do you think Saddam Hussein had something to do with that?

EMIL: I think Saddam Hussein supports the people who had something to do with it. And in my book, it's the same. If you drink out of the same water fountain, if you drink out of the same cup, you're just as responsible.

NEVILLE: You said you're a veteran?

EMIL: I'm a veteran of the Vietnam War, yes, I am

NEVILLE: OK. Thank you, Emil, for speaking out.

Listen, I want to share with you right now a CNN/"TIME" poll taken recently. I want to ask "What is likely to happen if U.S. sends troops to Iraq?" Seventy-seven percent of the people said there would be more terrorism in the United States; 68 percent said expect suicide bombings in the U.S.; 64 percent said expect an attack similar to September 11.

And Rich, back to you. Do you think the U.S. takes any of this into consideration -- what the people feel will happen?

GALEN: Well, on September 11 we hadn't done anything to anybody. They killed 3,000 people. And, as I said earlier, in the runup to the attack on Muammar Qadhafi, two-thirds of people then also thought that there would be repercussion.

There might be. But you can't allow a bully -- you can't allow a group of bullies to control your neighborhood for fear of what they'll do if you try to stop them. You've got to try to stop them.

NEVILLE: Go ahead, Bernie.

WARD: Oh, goodness gracious. Let's see.

Saddam Hussein can't even go after the Kurds in the north, let alone threaten anybody else. For 12 years he's been contained. And let me -- I don't understand this. Today the California Highway Patrol was stopping trucks that are going across the Golden Gate Bridge for fear that some of them might carry a bomb to blow it up because we're on an orange alert. What are we on an orange alert for? Are we on an orange alert because of Saddam Hussein? Or are we on an orange alert because of Osama bin Laden?

I did a Nexis search. Do you know that George Bush hasn't mentioned the name Osama bin Laden since July of last year?

So let me understand what the threat to the national security of the United States is. Is it Saddam Hussein, who can barely move in his own country, is contained by no-fly zones and who has never done anything in 12 years? Or is it al Qaeda, which put us on such an alert that you can't even go across the Golden Gate Bridge?

Going after Iraq is because we know where he is, while al Qaeda is sitting out there getting ready to hit again and we sit back and wait for that to happen.

GALEN: We're not sitting back and waiting for that to happen.

WARD: Of course we're sitting back and waiting it for happen.

GALEN: Oh, Bernie, com on. You're smarter than that. You're just doing your act for the purpose of this.


NEVILLE: Rich, hang on, though. Rich, hang on. Rich , apparently this audience here happens to agree with Bernie.

You are applauding why, Jorge (ph)?

JORGE: I do feel that in a lot of ways we're just taking out on Iraq, a lot of anger that came out of September 11 and I'm not sure if it's directed in the right..

NEVILLE: But do you believe Saddam Hussein funds terrorism?

JORGE: I don't know. I think he...

GALEN: Ask an Israeli that.

JORGE: I don't know if he's actually providing the money...

WARD: Oh, yes, there you go. There Rich -- now Rich just said it, Arthel. Rich just said the magic word.

NEVILLE: Did I hear...

WARD: He puts it against Israel.

Let me explain to you something. All of the key members of the Bush administration wrote in 1995 and 1998 exactly what they wanted to do when they got into power, which was eliminate Saddam Hussein, take the oil of Iraq and then turn around and guarantee Israel its military supremacy in the region. And Rich just said it.

GALEN: Nobody ever wrote -- where did they write that?

WARD: Because Saddam Hussein supports terrorism...

GALEN: What's the citation for that, Bernie?

WARD: ...against Palestine...

GALEN: No, no, you just cant' say that those people wrote that. You are making this up.

WARD: Saddam Hussein has nothing to do with al Qaeda. I'm not making anything up.

GALEN: Where's the citation? Where did somebody write that, Bernie? Where did that appear?

WARD: In 1980 -- In 1990 -- Hey, Rich, if you want me to call you a weasel to get your attention, I will. In 1995...

GALEN: OK. I'll call you skinny. How about that?

WARD: Richard Perle. Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz were working for an Israeli think tank. At that time, they said that you had to take four steps: get rid of Saddam, control the oil, use it as a strategic pivot to move against Iran and Syria, and then destabilize OPEC.

In 1998 Cheney, Billy Crystal, your buddy, and a number of others are on a web site right now called NewCentury2000, in which they've laid out the whole blueprint. Again it says remove Saddam Hussein.

And if you need the proof of the pudding, with the Italian prime minister sitting in front of a fire, the president of the United States was asked, if Saddam Hussein stepped down tomorrow, would that stop war? And the president's answer was, no. Even if Saddam Hussein stepped down, we would still have to go in and fight.

Why? Because we need it as a base to accomplish the rest of what the hawks in the Bush administration want to accomplish.

NEVILLE: And what is that? What is that, Bernie? Quickly.

WARD: It is to remake the Middle East, the face of the Middle East. It is to use American power and, in Richard Pearl's own words, to create the American empire...

GALEN: Take it easy. You're going to have a stroke. Relax. Settle down, Bernie. God, you're scaring me, pal.

WARD: You're a weasel, Rich.

NEVILLE: All right. Paul (ph) -- Paul from Massachusetts. Go ahead. PAUL: I supported George Bush Sr. when he went in there with Schwarzkopf. And I think he did an excellent job. But I think George Bush Jr. going in there with Tommy Jones (ph) will finish it.

NEVILLE: All right. Well, that is the last word there. Want to go ahead thank my guests, Rich Galen and Bernie Ward. Thanks so much for joining us here on TALKBACK LIVE.

GALEN: Nice to be with you. See you, Bernie.

NEVILLE: Hope to see you again.

All right. The Michael Jackson controversy continues in the meantime. You've heard about the documentary. Perhaps you have seen it. Now find out how Michael plans to clear his name.

We're going to talk to a family friend who says Michael is the world's most naive human being. That's coming up next. Don't go anywhere. The TALK continues.



NEVILLE: All right, everybody. Welcome back to TALKBACK LIVE. I'm Arthel Neville.

Entertainer Michael Jackson is protesting a two-hour-long documentary called "living with Michael Jackson" that aired on national TV. It contained an admission by Michael that he sometimes sleeps with children who visit Neverland.

Michael says his relationship with children is innocent and loving and the facts were distorted by interviewer Martin Bashir.

Now Michael says he had people taping that interview, as well, and his version, which he plans to release, will set the record straight. In a released statement he says that his version will show that -- quote -- "Bashir comments on topics ranging from expressing pity that the world is so quick to criticize Michael, to Michael's stellar abilities as a father. Bashir went so far as to admit that Michael's abilities as a father were so spectacular they nearly brought him to tears." -- wndquote.

Let's meet a friend of the family now. Flo Anthony is editor-in- chief of "Black Elegance" magazine and host of a radio talk show syndicated by the Jones Radio Network.

Hello, Flo. Good to see you.

FLO ANTHONY, FRIEND OF MICHAEL JACKSON: Hey, Arthel. It's good to see you, too.

NEVILLE: OK. So what is really going on here?

ANTHONY: With what? NEVILLE: Well, Michael said that was a pack of lies, basically. The view on him was distorted.

ANTHONY: I think it was very distorted. I think that Martin Bashir totally pimped Michael Jackson to the tune of $5.5 million. I think he used him. I don't think there are words bad enough to describe what happened with the edited version of that interview.

Now, you have to remember, they taped on and off for eight months.

NEVILLE: Eight months.

ANTHONY: So there were hours and hours and hours of videotape. So obviously, they just took and put together what they wanted the public to see, so they had the total lynching of a man.

NEVILLE: You see now, Flo, if Michael has his own -- apparently, he says he had a crew taping the interview, as well. Then why didn't Michael have more control over how this piece would be edited down?

ANTHONY: That's a very good question, Arthel. I think it's because he really trusted Martin Bashir. He was introduced to him by Uri Geller, who is a man that he trusts very much.

And I think he was also very impressed with the fact that Martin Bashir, you know, interviewed Princess Diana and had her confidence. And Princess Diana, of course, is someone that Michael thought an awful lot of.


I have an e-mail coming in right now, Flo. It's from Willa in Kentucky. She says, "I mean how can you honestly edit a video to make a man look good when he tells you that is Peter Pan, lights the fireplace and lets small boys sleep in his bed? Come on."

OK, now Willa. Wait, hang on, Flo. We are speaking to Willa in Kentucky. Thanks for that e-mail, first of all.

ANTHONY: I can see everybody applauding there.

NEVILLE: But, I mean, Michael says that it was innocent and I don't believe...

ANTHONY: He also took...

NEVILLE: ... that Mike was a child molester. And I've got to tell you this. That anybody who hurts any child should be lynched whatever it takes, because that's a crime. And I happen to think that Michael is not doing that. But I am very protective of children.

ANTHONY: Yes. The same thing with me. Of course I'm very protective of children. I know Michael Jackson is not a child molester. I know that he would not hurt any child. And no one, I think, listened to the part of that interview where you had the child that was a cancer victim, where Michael said he slept in a sleeping bag on the floor...

NEVILLE: On the floor.

ANTHONY: ... while the two kids slept in the bed. Everybody is just jumping over that and forgetting that was ever, ever said.

NEVILLE: Exactly. Flo, hang on for me, if you will, because we have to take a break right now.

Stay tuned, because we're going to have more talk about Michael Jackson and what he plans to do next.

I want to hear from you, so go ahead and get those phones going, 1-800-310-4CNN. Or e-mail me at


NEVILLE: Today on TALKBACK LIVE, take some time now to answer the question of the day: "Should the U.S. take action against Iraq without support of the U.N. Security Council?"

You can give me a call at 1-800-310-4CNN or e-mail me at The TALK continues after this break.


NEVILLE: Welcome back, everybody. We're talking about the Michael Jackson documentary.

I want to share a clip with you now from that documentary, where Michael talks about a slumber party, if you will, with Macaulay Culkin, and his brother, their little sister and cookies and milk. Let's take a look at that.


MICHAEL JACKSON, ENTERTAINER: I sleep in bed with all of them. When Macaulay Culkin were little, Kieran Culkin would sleep on this side, Macaulay Culkin on this side, the sister's in there. We're all just jammed in the bed.

When you say bed, you think it is sexual. They make that sexual. It's not sexual. We're going to sleep. I tuck them in, we play -- I put little, like, music on and do a little story time. I read a book. It's very sweet. Put the fireplace on, give them hot milk. You know, we have little cookies. It's very charming. Very sweet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unfortunate that a person with so much talent, so much money and has done so much good has such major psychological problems.

NEVILLE: Thank you very much.

And I have this gentleman here. Sorry about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's borrowed this woman's self. It's very strange to sleep with kids. He has a lot of money. He also has these psychological problems. He should use some of that money to get some help.

NEVILLE: Yes. And you think that, obviously, sleeping -- adults sleeping with kids, that's inappropriate behavior. Do you think there's inappropriate behavior beyond just sleeping going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't say. But I would say it's really strange. And if he wants to help these people he should be out in front so everybody can see what's going on and not have to guess.

NEVILLE: Thank you. Let's see what Jeannette (ph) over there has to say.

JEANNETTE: I do not believe that he would harm any children. I do believe he has a psychological problem and he missed out on his childhood. Therefore, he's making it up by hanging around children and he can relate to them more.

NEVILLE: OK, Patsy. You're speaking up again.

PATSY: Yes, I was a social worker for over 20 years. I worked with sexual abuse. And child molesters, sexual molesters, they exhibit the worst kind of denial, worse than addicts, substance abusers.

In his mind he may be molesting the children, and in his mind he may be pleasuring them. He may be comforting them. Nobody knows. Just because he says it isn't so doesn't mean it isn't so. Only the children know.

NEVILLE: Flo Anthony, Patsy here in the audience is saying that basically Michael Jackson could be in denial or is in fact in denial about abusing these children.

ANTHONY: Well, I can't answer whether or not Michael is in denial. I don't think that all of us can run around screaming that Michael needs psychological help. People go into therapy because they want to go into therapy.

I can say that around two years ago Macaulay Culkin did an interview -- I believe it was with "The New York Post" on page 6, where he said that in 1993 when Michael was under all that fire, he wishes that he would have spoken up for him. He feels bad he didn't, because nothing inappropriate ever happened.

You know, Michael says the sisters, not just one sister. Kieran, Macaulay and then you have to remember Michael was even much younger. That's not like this happened yesterday. You know, we're probably talking -- when was "Home Alone?" Almost, what 15, 20 years ago? So we're talking about that time. NEVILLE: Michael still would have been a grown man at that point.

ANTHONY: You know, I'm not condoning his behavior with kids, but I'm just saying that all of us are -- not me, everybody else -- is running around with all these accusations.

And you know, yet you have two children, the cancer victim child and Macaulay, who's a grown man now -- who's had one wife and what I've heard, about to get another one -- saying that nothing ever, you know, sexual happened.

NEVILLE: Well, Flo, thank you so much for joining us.

ANTHONY: Thanks for having me, Arthel. I'm glad to talk to you.

NEVILLE: Nice to talk to you, Flo Anthony.

All right. Coming up next, what's buzzing on the Internet? AOL's Regina Lewis is going to join us with the inside scoop after this break. Don't go anywhere.


NEVILLE: Well, we have had a lot to talk about today. And now we're going to find out what's buzzing on the Internet. AOL's Regina Lewis is with us.

Hello, Regina. Good to see you.


NEVILLE: All right. So what is buzzing?

LEWIS: Well, in the No. 5 slot we have Michael Jordan, who played his last NBA playoff game. But the post-game buzz has more to do with Mariah Carey, who sported his number 23 Washington Wizard number in a very interesting jersey dress. I think we have a picture of it. There you go. A lot of people would like to see her sport that some more. We're seeing some...

NEVILLE: She looked good in that dress.

LEWIS: It's tiny.

NEVILLE: I wouldn't wear it but she looked good in it. I probably couldn't pull it off.

LEWIS: Hey, yes, if you can pull it off, go nuts. And a lot of -- let's just say it's getting some serious click-through online.

NEVILLE: And what else are they talking about?

LEWIS: In the No. 4 slot, another Michael, Michael Jackson. You've been talking about it throughout the show. Generally seems to be fighting an uphill battle. He's dealing with two very visual mediums. And the pictures make it hard to get past some of the subtext. Or even as he makes the case, you sort of look at him and think, yikes, what's going on there.

We've got some postings. The first comes from Gillian. It says, "Maybe he does need some psychological help, but he's not a normal person. He's had a unique life. But then so did his brothers and sisters, and it's hard to just see how did they come out OK, and he seems to have some issues. They all seem fine. Well maybe LaToya is the exception."

I looked online for photos today for both LaToya and Michael. Wherever they get their work done, they must go to the same place.

NEVILLE: Same place?

LEWIS: They look strikingly similar.

Other people are coming to Michael's defense and in fact, writing directly to him. This one says from Brenda says, "Michael, I hope that you see this, and I hope that you read this. All I can say is you are a beautiful person. The press is wrong about you. Listen to all the good, not the bad. I love you and I've always loved your music."

I think people remember him as a young child and are coming to his defense.

NASA was No. 3. There were three stages. Of course, the obvious, eyewitness news accounts and breaking news.

Then people debating, concerned about the future of the program and safety issues. And a big national mourning. Lots of consolences and tributes. Those continue to pour in.

No. 2, homeland security and going to the orange alert. This really had people pause and think, wait a second. And it was talked about in the first half of the show. What's the risk assessment of war?

When asked, "Do you fear war with Iraq will prompt terrorism?" And this tracks the "TIME"/CNN poll, a whopping number, 2 million people, weighed in on this. Sixty-five percent said yes, they think so.

And lastly, the case against Iraq continues to be enormously intense. We're seeing record numbers online following that.

NEVILLE: OK, Regina Lewis, thanks so much for joining us. We'll see you next Monday with the buzz report.


NEVILLE: OK. And it's time for all of you to tell me, should the United States take action against Iraq without the support of the U.N. Security Council? It is the question of the day. You can go ahead and give me a call at 1-800-310-4CNN. Or e-mail me at and I'll take your comments after this break.


NEVILLE: And our "Question of the Day," "Should the United States take action against Iraq without the support of the U.N. Security Council." It is our "Question of the Day," as I said.

We have lots of e-mails coming in. Not too much time to share, but I want to get to it. Barbara in Georgia says, "We should not go to war without Security Council support. People in this country seem to forget we now live in a global economy. We cannot go it alone and still be respected and trusted."

OK, Barbara, thank you very much.

J.D. in North Carolina says, "Read my lips! No war with Iraq without the sanction of the U.N. Security Council. G.W. Bush is now playing dictator to the world. 2004, the Bush 'Regime' no more!"

And a phone call now coming in, British Columbia. Jeannie (ph), what do you say?


NEVILLE: OK, you know what? Let me -- Jeannie (ph), I can't hear you.

Janie (ph), stand up for me.

JANIE: I was just going to say that we, a lot of Americans do have -- they want to do the right thing. They want to do the waiting. It's just a question of how long do we wait? How long do we trust Iraq? How long do we trust the inspectors? So we want to see for ourselves.

NEVILLE: Thank you very much.

We are out of time. Thanks so much for watching. I'm Arthel Neville. Back again tomorrow at 3:00 Eastern with more TALKBACK LIVE.

Judy Woodruff up next with "INSIDE POLITICS."


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