CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
President Bush Preparing for Weekend Summit in Azores
Aired March 14, 2003 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, HOST: And good evening, everyone.
When you look at the many travel sites about the Azores, you can find reference to the "Jewel of the Atlantic," a paradise in the middle of nowhere. That truly remote spot to get away from it all. And that was the message we got today with the decision to hold an emergency summit there over the weekend.
The leaders of the United States, Britain, and Spain, will be far away from the protesters expected this weekend in the spots around the world, including their own capitals, and far away from something else. Far away from countries who disagree with their approach to Iraq, which, in truth, seems to be most countries and most of the people.
One of the U.N. ambassadors of the so-called undecided six was quoted in "The Washington Post" as saying he hated being stuck in a position of having to choose between Saddam Hussein and a rush to war. That may not be the way you see it. It is how he sees it, and clearly, in that regard, he is not alone.
We keep looking for some sort of breakthrough that will bridge the gaps. We expect you do, too. But everyone seems to get shot down before the ink is dry. It does seem, as a guest said last night, that this is all just theater now. Everyone is acting out their parts, knowing the end and anything they do now will not change it.
We begin with The Whip, which begins with the White House preparing for the weekend summit in the Azores. Suzanne Malveaux is there for us tonight. Suzanne, a headline, please.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, earlier today, Aaron, President Bush called key Arab allies, including the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, in a renewed attempt to jump-start the Middle East peace process. But, at the same time, the administration is fully engaged in what White House aides are calling the last mile of diplomacy. President Bush to attend an emergency summit this weekend which could clear the way for a possible war with Iraq.
BROWN: Suzanne, thank you. Back to you at the top tonight.
Negotiations continue with remarkable intensity over it at the U.N. Richard Roth of course is there. Richard, a headline.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, the U.S. gives a chilly reception to an uncommitted South American country. Meanwhile, Iraq sends the facts loaded with VX data. But just how informative will it prove to be -- Aaron.
BROWN: Richard, thank you.
The diplomacy continues, so does the military planning. Jamie McIntyre on that of course from the Pentagon. Jamie, a headline.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, the Pentagon is worried about a window of vulnerability. The time between when President Bush might issue an ultimatum and the war would actually begin. It's that time, Pentagon officials say, that Saddam Hussein could be desperate, and that is most dangerous -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jamie, thank you.
And the latest now on the other big story this week, the case of Elizabeth Smart. Jeanne Meserve is in Salt Lake City again for us. So, Jeanne, a headline.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brian David Mitchell, the man in custody for the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, is expected to be charged next week with the attempted kidnapping of her cousin. Authorities won't reveal the evidence, but they say, it is strong -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jeanne, thank you. Back to you and the rest shortly.
Also coming up tonight on NEWSNIGHT, the strange case of the forged documents. The United Nations says the smoking gun used by the United States to show Iraq was trying to get uranium was anything but. David Ensor reports that for us.
And a typical day for the man trying to bring back truth and honor to the Miami Police Department, Chief John Timoney. We got quite a workout trying to keep up with him. A day in the life is "Segment 7" tonight. All of that in the hour ahead.
More too. We begin with the flurry of diplomacy from the White House. A very busy day it is.
Some new words on the Middle East and some travel plans made. This weekend the president flies to the small Portuguese island, the Azores in the eastern Atlantic. He'll meet with the leaders of Great Britain and Spain, the allies. And when it's over, we may have an answer to the question we have been asking a lot these days: What is the end game on Iraq and the U.N. Security Council?
But as we said, two headlines out of the White House today. And we begin with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): First came early word of an emergency session on Iraq. Then a surprise rose garden announcement, in which President Bush renewed his pledge to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve Middle East peace. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America's committed, and I am personally committed to implementing our roadmap toward peace.
MALVEAUX: The White House says, with the expected confirmation of a new Palestinian prime minister soon, now is the time to put the issue back on the table. The Bush administration has been criticized by Arab and European leaders for largely ignoring the Israeli- Palestinian conflict while it focuses on Saddam Hussein. The White House insists the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with the tough diplomacy on Iraq. But its chief ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, acknowledged it did.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think it's precisely now when we do have all this focus on the issue of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam and all the things that he has done, it's precisely now that we say to the Arab and Muslim world, we accept the obligation of evenhandedness.
MALVEAUX: The White House also announced President Bush will travel to the Azore islands to hold an emergency summit this Sunday with Britains, Spain, and host Portugal in an attempt to salvage a second U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Sooner or later, the United Nations Security Council has got to act or not act. And so it is time for the Security Council to resolve this and the president and the prime ministers will get together this weekend and they will talk about the way forward.
MALVEAUX: Well, the president faces a very serious challenge this weekend, Aaron. Chile had its own proposal today to give Saddam Hussein three or four weeks to disarm. Well, the Bush administration said that was a non-starter. As of tonight, the Bush administration does not have the nine votes or the no vetos to pass a U.N. resolution. It looks like they do not even have a majority -- Aaron.
BROWN: Well, let me try -- is the point of this meeting in the Azores to decide whether to present a resolution to the U.N. at all? Is that what they'll decide?
MALVEAUX: There are two things, two goals to in meeting. First of all, they may come up with a new type of proposal for the U.N. Security Council by the time it is all over. Something they think that perhaps they can get what they like to think as the moral majority of the U.N. Security Council, perhaps eight members.
The other goal of this is to decide whether or not they're even going to bring this to a vote. If they decide they will bring it to a vote, we're looking at either Monday or Tuesday. If they decide they will scrap it altogether, then we could possibly see the president addressing the nation, giving Saddam an ultimatum, and that would also signal to people on the ground that war was imminent -- Aaron. BROWN: I'm sorry, do they -- because the other day, they said they were within one vote of nine, which meant they had eight. Do they no longer believe they have eight votes?
MALVEAUX: Well, they believe they could have eight votes, perhaps if Pakistan sticks with the group. Chile and Mexico still anything is up for grabs there. They still believe that there are possible vetos as well. They are not optimistic, but they say they are still working on all possible options here.
Whether or not it is a deadline, whether or not it is these benchmarks, they're going to try and come up with something. But guaranteed, by the end of the weekend, they will have made up their minds about what they are going to do next.
BROWN: We shall see. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much. Suzanne at the White House tonight.
At the U.N., six smaller countries on the Security Council remain, at least publicly, undecided on the American-British-Spanish proposal. But their undecidedness, if you want to call it that, doesn't end there. They also haven't made up their minds about that compromise being offered, as Suzanne said, offered up by Chile.
And perhaps adding to the indecision, new documents received today from Iraq on the destruction of chemical weapons. So tonight, again, there is no sure thing where the U.N. is concerned, except for this: CNN's Richard Roth is there -- Richard.
ROTH: Aaron, what a difference a week makes. A little bit over a week ago, President Bush said he was going to demand a whip count, a show of cards, how do countries stand on Iraq. And tonight, a lot of diplomats will privately tell you all of the negotiating and diplomacy here seems like a bit a futile exercise.
They are going to watch what happens on the Portuguese Islands over the weekend. Everybody's looking at it. But today, the Security Council was rather empty of official discussions on Iraq. There was a lot of buzzing about it.
The highlight was the late cancellation of the permanent five, including France there. You see the ambassador. A meeting called by the U.S. yesterday, now the U.S. saying that it was overtaken by events. Thus, you had other members of the Council going to meetings, meeting privately, but nothing much of substance here.
The big news was, as Suzanne Malveaux mentioned, the latest compromise offer from Chile, an uncommitted member of the Council. But no sooner had Chile's president announced the proposal with a new timetable for Iraq then the White House shot it down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT RICARDO LAGOS, CHILE (through translator): We have worked with other countries on a proposal for the Security Council that will guarantee the disarmament of Iraq based on five different issues. These guarantees should be fulfilled within the next three weeks.
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I was asked several days ago about whether or not the president will be open to extending the deadline 30 to 45 days. Now you can say that's 26 to 41 days. If it was a non-starter then, it's a non-starter now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary general, says he hasn't given up hope. Other diplomats spun the yarn that as long as there was a one percent chance, things weren't over here. Everybody really watching what is happening at that weekend summit.
One diplomatic said a true summit, a better summit, would have been if you had presidents Putin and Chirac there. Other late U.N. news, Iraq has now submitted by fax the 25-page report on VX nerve agent promised by Iraq more than a week ago. However, Hans Blix, the chief inspector, was still happy to get what Iraq had promised.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: We received the letter about VX that they had promised, and which is part in English and part in Arabic and being translated now. So exactly what it contains I cannot tell you at the moment. But they have followed up on their promise that it would come.
MOHAMMED ALDOURI, IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: All of what we are doing is to demonstrate, to show to the international community, to the Security Council members, to the members of the United States that Iraq is a clean -- is really clean of any mass destruction weapons. We don't have mass destruction weapons at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: Coming clean on anthrax and biological and chemical weapons, part of everybody's disarmament task list for Iraq. But still tonight, nobody can agree on which list, which timetable -- Aaron.
BROWN: Wow. OK. Over there, do they think that there will be a vote Monday, Tuesday, some day next week on the American-British- Spanish resolution that is on the table?
ROTH: Many diplomats think there will not be a vote. That the resolution will be withdrawn, due to the stiff hardening of positions, even worse than ever today. And they believe that France's veto threat, Russia's veto threat are still there. And those uncommitted countries don't even want to have to show their cards, because if they don't have nine votes in favor, those vetos would never have to be tested and the abstentions would never have to be tested.
So at this.moment, low prospect for a vote. That's what they believe here tonight.
BROWN: And just in 20 seconds, is the Chilean proposal going anywhere? Or when the White House shot it down, did that end that?
ROTH: It seemed to end that. It was so quick. As soon as you talked to someone, they said, what's the point? The White House doesn't like it.
BROWN: Got it. Richard, thank you. Richard Roth over at the United Nations tonight.
On to the military side next, there is a nightmare scenario makings the rounds. It goes like this: As the deadline approaches, Saddam Hussein believing that that war is inevitable and knowing there is little to lose, decides to strike first with chemicals or germs or worse. With forces bunched up in staging areas, the generals tell us this is an especially vulnerable moment.
So the answer, it appears in so many words, is to preempt the preemptive strike. And to do it while stopping just short of an all- out war. Reporting for us from the Pentagon, CNN's Jamie McIntyre.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): B-1 heavy bombers joined the fight Friday, dropping satellite-guided J-DAMS on Iraqi air defenses in the southern no-fly zones. The targets included a flat face radar, like this one, taken out earlier this week by a U.S. Air Force F-15. It's all part of a pre-war attempt to degrade Iraq's remaining military capability and dissuade Iraqi commanders from using weapons of mass destruction.
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Any involvement by the Iraqi military in any form of biological or chemical or nuclear radiological weapons, they will not be part of any Iraqi military.
MCINTYRE: Pentagon officials are most worried about a window of vulnerability between the time President Bush might issue an ultimatum and the actual start of the war. Pentagon sources say the U.S. is looking at options to neutralize three nightmare scenarios: A chemical or a biological attack on U.S. troops massed in Kuwait, detonation of the oilfields in the north and south, and scud missile strikes on Israel, which could also involve weapons of mass destruction.
Pentagon officials say there remains abundant and recent evidence that Saddam Hussein is planning a repeat of the oil fires he set in Kuwait in 1991. Sources say massive amounts of dynamite had been moved near the fields, but U.S. officials say they don't know if the well heads have been wired because of the limitations of overhead surveillance.
Sources say the Pentagon plan is to put U.S. troops on a hair- trigger alert to essentially begin the war if Saddam Hussein attacks U.S. troops, his neighbors, or his own people out of desperation. As part of the final preparations, the U.S. is hastily building a desert air strip in the United Arab Emirates to base more than 100 fighter planes that Turkey won't allow in, and about a dozen cruise missile firing ships and submarines have now been repositioned in the Red Sea.
MCINTYRE: The U.S. hasn't completely given up on over-flight rights over Turkey. In fact, that's why it is leaving two aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean for now. And one fallout, Aaron, of Turkey's refusal is it turns out that the Army's best equipment, it's most advanced equipment, including the latest version of the A-1 -- the Abrams, M1-A2 tank and a special system designed to prevent friendly fire casualties, all sitting on those ships off of the coast of Turkey. And it looks like they'll be on the sidelines when the shooting starts -- Aaron.
BROWN: They're not going to move them anywhere? They're just going to leave them sitting out there?
MCINTYRE: They have got no place to put it. It's on the ships. Kuwait is completely backed up.
The equipment goes with the troops that practice with it, the fourth infantry division, they are stuck in Texas. And the sad part about it is, this system has -- gives the best chance for the U.S. Army to cut through the fog of war and know what is going on in the battlefield, using the latest digital technology, not available in any other division. It looks like it is just not going to make it to the battle.
BROWN: Jamie, thank you very much. Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon tonight.
We want to return for a bit to this weekend's summit and the talk that can be expected there. Katty Kay covers Washington for the BBC. She joins us from Washington tonight. It's good to see you.
What do you hear? Will they make a decision on the U.N. resolution, up or down?
KATTY KAY, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, BBC NEWS: Well, it's looking very like a war summit rather than some last-ditch attempt to trying and get diplomatic demonstrations. Of course that's what it's being billed as. But this is definitely preaching to the converted.
It's interesting, isn't it, that all three countries which are attending this, the heads of states of all three countries, are all three countries which are already signed up. So it doesn't look like they are really trying to sway any of the waivers on Sunday in the Azores.
I think there is also one ulterior motive possibly. That it gives -- it might give President Bush a chance to come back to America and say, well, I've been persuaded by my allies that actually we shouldn't put this resolution up to a second vote. Remember he said at his speech at the White House, we're definitely going to go forward, we want people to show their cards, and we're going to have a vote on that.
And that was pretty surprising to a British audience, because there was definitely a feeling in London that, if there weren't the nine votes, then why go ahead with this second resolution? Why put it to the vote if you weren't going to win it anyway? It was better perhaps not to have a second vote.
And maybe President Bush can go to this summit on Sunday and come back and say, look, against my better judgment, my allies in this -- you know, the council of the willing -- say we shouldn't have a second vote on this.
BROWN: Well the president in point of fact didn't care that much about the second vote. The second vote was really more about Mr. Blair than Mr. Bush. So what does it mean to Tony Blair not to have the second vote?
KAY: Well, not getting a second resolution does terrible things for opinion poll ratings for the war in Britain. There is one opinion poll that's out that shows that 75 percent of people in Britain would support a war against Iraq. That's the good news. But it's only with a second resolution.
That's the good news for the White House, that is. But if there is no second resolution cast, those numbers fall to 25 percent, unless less than a quarter of the British public supports war going against Iraq if there is no second resolution. Clearly, for Tony Blair, this is big trouble if he doesn't get that second resolution. And already several ministers within his own cabinet, within the labor party, have said if there is no second resolution and Britain goes to war, we will resign.
If he starts having people in his own cabinet and in his own party resigning, that then starts to threaten his own position as prime minister.
BROWN: What does he get, then, out of this summit? I mean if one of the options in this summit is for the president of the United States to come back and say, look, my partners convinced me that a second vote would be a foolish thing to do, I get what he gets. I don't get what Mr. Blair gets out in this meeting in the Azores.
KAY: Well, I think he can go back to the British public, show photographs of this last-ditch diplomatic effort and say, look, the president flew all the way over to these islands to show that he was doing the last-ditch mile for diplomacy. And he can say to the British public, he's not as unilateralist as you all think, because that's really Tony Blair's big problem, is that President Bush has been perceived as really not caring very much about what happens in Europe and about what Europeans think. And that's really put the backs up amongst not just Europeans but amongst the British public.
If Tony Blair can go to his people and say, look, we did have this last-ditch effort, President Bush flew all the way over to have a diplomatic summit, maybe that can help him back at home a bit.
BROWN: Well, that'll be interesting, because this is a summit among people who agree. It's not like there's a negotiation going on between the Americans and the British and the French and the Russians and the Chinese, or whoever. It is just the people who agree. I'm not sure where Mr. Blair gets the cover.
KAY: Well it's symbolic, isn't it? I mean it's the first opportunity. This summit is largely about style, and not so much about substance.
If he can show the three of them there at this so-called diplomatic meeting, saying, we went the extra mile for diplomacy, President Bush came over and went the extra mile for diplomacy, he was still trying to convince the United Nations, maybe he can sell that to the British public. My sense is, I don't find a single person in London or outside of London who agrees going to war without a second resolution.
There are very few who are agreeing to go to war anyway. And so my sense is it is too little too late. But why not give it a try, I guess is the feeling at the moment.
BROWN: Katty, thanks. Nice to have you on the program. Come back and talk to us some more. Thank you very much.
As we continue, we will update the Elizabeth Smart case tonight. But up next, did the United States know documents it gave to the weapons inspectors were forged? And the sensitive issue of Jewish support for an American war with Iraq. Much to do on a Friday night in New York. This is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: Today, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee called for an investigation into fake documents that supposedly proved Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium from Africa. Given the tons, literally tons of evidence over the last 12 years that Iraq was and may still be working on weapons of mass destruction, it is safe to say that this was bound to happen. That sooner or later some of the evidence would prove to be bogus.
But critics say this is because the administration has pounced on anything and everything to make its case. But it may simply be that intelligence gathering is more art than science. Either way, it adds up to what one columnist today called enough egg on enough faces to make an omelette. Here is CNN's David Ensor.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the Bush administration, and for U.S. intelligence, the matter of the apparently forged documents on Iraq pursuing African uranium is turning into a world-class embarrassment.
RAY CLOSE, FMR. CIA OFFICER: I am sure that the FBI and the CIA must be mortified by this, because it's extremely embarrassing to them.
ENSOR: The question is: Why did the U.S. and the British government pass on to the International Atomic Energy Agency documents which the IAEA officials say are obvious forgeries? Passed on as evidence Iraq might have tried to buy 500 tons of uranium in Niger.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: It was provided in good faith to the inspectors, and our agency received it in good faith, not participating, if that's the suggestion of your question, in any way or any falsification activities (ph).
ENSOR: Knowledgeable sources tell CNN one of the documents purports to be a letter signed by Tandjia Mamadou, the president of Niger, talking about the uranium deal with Iraq. On it, a childlike signature that is clearly not his.
Another written on paper from a 1980s military government in Niger bears the date of October, 2000. And the signature of a man, who by then, had not been foreign minister of Niger for 14 years.
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, IAEA: We have got forensic experts and we have come to the conclusion that these documents are forgeries.
ENSOR: A former CIA operations official says the Central Intelligence Agency should have known better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have tremendously sophisticated and experienced people in their technical services division who wouldn't allow a forgery like this to get by. I mean it's mystifying to me. I can't understand it.
ENSOR: But a U.S. intelligence official says the documents were passed on to the IAEA within days of being received by the CIA. The comment, "We don't know the provenance of this information, but here it is." "If a mistake was made," a U.S. official suggested, "it was more likely incompetence, not malice"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a convenient explanation, but it doesn't satisfy me, because incompetence I have not seen in those agencies. I have seen plenty of malice, but I've never seen incompetence.
ENSOR (on camera): And who made the apparent forgeries? Experts say the suspects include the intelligence services of Iraq's neighbors and other pro-war nations, as well as Iraqi opposition groups, or simple conmen trying to make money. Most rule out the U.S. or Britain, which if they wanted to make forgeries could have made much more convincing ones. U.S. officials say they got the documents when from the intelligence service of another country, not Britain, not Israel.
(voice-over): What make the matter all the more embarrassing is the African uranium plot was highlighted by the president himself.
BUSH: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
ENSOR (on camera): U.S. officials say that assertion by the president and the British was also based on additional evidence of Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium from another unnamed African country. Though a knowledgeable U.S. official says there's not much to that evidence either. David Ensor, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: We were awe all taught that only fools talk politics or religion, and we are about to talk about both. The accusation leveled the other day by Virginia Democrat Jim Moran that the American Jewish community was pushing a war with Iraq touched plenty of nerves. Many Jews, of course, were outraged.
But we also saw notes from people who said Moran got it right. He may not have said it well, but he got it right. Polls would say he got it wrong. American Jews are no more or less supportive of a war with Iraq than the population at large. But both here and in Israel, it is an extremely delicate subject. Here's CNN's Kelly Wallace.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A rare public display of Israel solidarity with the United States considering war with Iraq. Rare because, while a poll just published shows more than 60 percent of Israelis support military action, the largest support of any country outside of the United States, Israel has tried to keep a low profile.
Daniel Ayalon the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said in a speech earlier in week. "Iraq is not an Israeli problem. It's an international problem. For anyone to suggest that the road to Baghdad runs through Jerusalem, nothing could be further from the truth."
The suggestions have made their way into Israel's headlines. Some in the American right and left, charging that American Jews within the Bush administration and Israel are pushing the U.S. to wage war.
BRET STEPHENS, "JERUSALEM POST": To suggest that Israel is somehow -- Israel or a cabal of Jewish leaders in the government or in the media are driving American policy goes back to a very old anti- Semitic trope.
WALLACE : Israel is sensitive to any perception an Iraq campaign would be a war for Israel. That is why Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon recently ordered that only he and his top advisers can talk publicly about Iraq.
ERAN LERMAN, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE: Israel is not part of the coalition of the willing. Not because we are not willing, but because our presence is neither necessary nor useful at this point.
WALLACE: The Americans are sensitive, too.
(on camera): So what kind of sign does this send about the possibility that we could see...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not at liberty to say at all.
WALLACE (voice-over): The 600 U.S. soldiers in Israel manning the American patriot anti-missile systems are tight-lipped. So are officials at the U.S. embassy about the coordination and intelligence sharing between the United States and Israel. Even this American ship stayed far from the cameras during a routine naval exercise with the Israelis in January.
The cooperation between the two longtime allies is unprecedented, as the U.S. wants to keep Israel out of any war. But touting that the cooperation, the U.S. fears could further imflame anti-American sentiment in the Arab world.
(on camera): Some Israeli officials privately say if they were telling the Bush administration what to do, they would have urged the White House to focus first on Iran and Syria. Viewing those countries as bigger threats to Israel than Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Kelly Wallace, CNN, Jerusalem.
BROWN: Coming up tonight on NEWSNIGHT, new details on the Elizabeth Smart case. Reports that Brian David Mitchell, the suspect in the case, may have planned kidnapping another member of the Smart family. Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: We were thinking that, in terms of the Elizabeth Smart case, one man's obituary demands to be rewritten. When handyman Richard Ricci died last summer, all that was mourned in the press was the loss of answers as to where Elizabeth Smart might be. Now Ricci has been formerly cleared and Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee are in custody. Today, the picture of Mitchell came into sharper focus and questions surfaced about his possible involvement in a different kidnapping case.
As for Elizabeth Smart's parents, they can't stop smiling.
Here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve.
MESERVE (voice-over): In Salt Lake City, a homecoming rally for Elizabeth Smart, no Elizabeth, but her mother, Lois, spoke for the first time since her daughter's return.
LOIS SMART, MOTHER OF ELIZABETH SMART: I am the luckiest mother in the world. I am so happy and so thrilled! I am overjoyed with the return of Elizabeth. And thanks to you for your love, your prayers, your support. It was a priceless gift that we couldn't have done without you. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.
MESERVE: A featured guest: John Walsh, whose show, "America Most Wanted," played a key role in the recovery of the Smarts' daughter.
Startling news Friday that Brian David Mitchell, in custody for Elizabeth's kidnapping, may be charged in what now appears to be another attempted abduction. Last summer, a screen in Elizabeth's cousin's bedroom was slashed, as a screen in the Smart home had been. The girl awoke. The intruder left. But evidence developed since Elizabeth's return points to Mitchell.
AARON KENNARD, SALT LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF: We have solid information and solid leads that could connect the two households and the perpetrators of the two households together.
MESERVE: For the first time, we heard Brian Mitchell's voice in a videotape of a San Diego court proceeding last month. Mitchell had been charged with burglarizing a church.
BRIAN DAVID MITCHELL, ACCUSED OF KIDNAPPING ELIZABETH SMART: And for the first time in 22 years, I got drunk that night. And the whole night was just a nightmare. And this week in jail has been like getting Jonah getting swallowed by the whale.
MESERVE: Biblical references pepper Mitchell's speech and his writings -- from the Associated Press, a religious tract said to be written by Mitchell, in it, a reference to polygamy. He writes that, because of continued disobedience, God -- quote -- "commanded them to have one wife only. Nevertheless, I, the lord God, am merciful and just and I restore every blessing lost to them."
People who attended a party at this house with Mitchell, Wanda Barzee and Elizabeth late last summer say his religious beliefs also dictated that women should be silent.
JON KEDDINGTON, EYEWITNESS: I actually did approach both women. And I tried to speak with them and just in a -- this party atmosphere just tried to talk to them and see what their deal was, but they would not speak.
MESERVE: Before the abduction, Mitchell and Wanda often frequented this restaurant and were often given free meals. The staff was surprised when they showed up with a younger woman and different dress.
LINDSAY DAWSON, RESTAURANT SUPERVISOR: What is this young girl doing with them? And why are these wearing these cloths over their faces? Because his wife had never worn that before.
MESERVE: The people who saw the trio at the restaurant and at the party say Elizabeth had ample opportunity to speak to them and to get away, but she never did. And they never suspected that this tall young woman, who appeared so comfortable with her companions, was the missing child whose face appeared on posters and fliers all over town -- Aaron.
BROWN: Go back for a second to this other kidnapping story, because, back last summer, you did some reporting on that when you were out in Salt Lake.
MESERVE: That's right. I wasn't in Salt Lake. I was in Washington, but calling to Salt Lake.
And I spoke to a number of law enforcement sources here. At that time, the name of Emmanuel or Brian David Mitchell had not surfaced. The first theory was that this was neighborhood kids who were pulling a prank. The fact that the screen was cut in this case, as it had been at the Smart home, was thought to be sort of a cruel joke on the Smart family.
There were other people who were very confused by this, who said, listen, Richard Ricci is our prime suspect. Person of interest was the term of art. He's in prison. There was even one law enforcement source who theorized to me that this might be one of Ricci's confederates who was trying to deflect attention from him. Trust me, the name Brian David Mitchell was never mentioned, Aaron.
BROWN: Jeanne, thank you -- Jeanne Meserve in Salt Lake tonight.
A few other stories to fit in before we go to break here, beginning with the space shuttle program: NASA wants another space shuttle in orbit by the end of the year. The shuttles have been grounded, of course, since the Columbia disaster. A top NASA official has told engineers to start identifying what changes may be needed, even before the Columbia Accident Board finishes its investigation.
The latest on the sexual abuse scandal at the Air Force Academy: The Air Force said today it has punished 21 male cadets for abuse since 1990. Five received jail time. The Air Force said more than 50 allegations had been reported over that decade, the last decade, and that there are probably many more incidents that have not been reported.
And actor Robert Blake is free after nearly a day in jail. Today, he put up $1.5 million in bail. A judge ruled yesterday that Mr. Blake must stand trial on charges of murdering his wife. Robert Blake had to surrender his passport. And he'll be monitored by an electronic device while out on bail.
Still to come on NEWSNIGHT tonight: on the front lines, where a sandstorm can even affect the ships at sea.
A short break first. This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.
BROWN: And next on NEWSNIGHT: with British forces on the front lines, where sand is the problem, even at sea.
This is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: With protests planned over the weekend, we think of the troops overseas. How do they feel when they hear about those protests? American forces can take comfort that, despite the protests, there's still plenty of support for their mission among their neighbors at home -- no such comfort, however, for the British troops.
Richard Blystone is traveling with British sailors of the Ark Royal in the Gulf, where the criticism and the sand have a way of getting on board.
RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The morning after a bad sandstorm, and the flagship of Britain's three-dozen vessels here, HMS Ark Royal, looks like she has laid on the Maybelline a little too thick.
(on camera): Even out here in the middle of the Persian Gulf, the desert comes to you.
(voice-over): No big thing, they say, as long pilots can see. She cleans up nicely. But it means extra work on all the moving parts the fine desert dust can works its way into.
Of more concern on this British ship is the cloud of controversy and uncertainty hanging in the air back home, with only one Britain in five supporting a war without a U.N. resolution and the government's under pressure to bring these forces home if there is no U.N. mandate after 57 straight days waiting at sea, not in vain, says the skipper.
CAPT. ALAN MASSEY, COMMANDER OFFICER, HMS ARK ROYAL: First of all, we're already achieving a huge amount out here, because we've got real military capability right in Saddam Hussein's face. And he's made concessions over the last few days that he ain't made for 12 years or more. If the team manager says to me, sorry, Massey, you and Ark Royal are going to sit on the bench as a substitute, we'll say, oh, OK, we are a bit miffed at that, but we completely understand.
BLYSTONE: That's what won the empire: the stiff upper lip.
Richard Blystone, CNN, aboard HMS Ark Royal in the Gulf.
BROWN: Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, we'll spend a day in the life of Miami's police chief.
And up next, we will check tomorrow morning's papers from around the country and around the world.
This is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: OK, time to check tomorrow morning's papers from around the country and around the world. Weekend papers sometimes are a little thin, but I think we're OK today.
Beginning with "The Boston Herald," because I was a little disrespectful to "The "Boston Herald" last night and I feel bad about that, so we'll give them the No. 1 spot. "Last Mile" is the headline in "The Boston Herald," and an absolutely terrific picture -- I don't know if you can zoom in on that -- Marines working their way through the desert in Kuwait. And I believe that was shot by a staff photographer for "The Boston Herald."
And up top here -- go all the way up -- "D.J.s Bash Prez-Dissing Chicks." This is the controversy over the Dixie Chicks, or one of the Dixie Chicks, having some unkind things to say about the president when they were overseas. And that's caused quite a fuss.
We are pleased to have "The Manchester Union Leader" with us tonight. Well, they're not with us, but their paper is. And we hope they will continue to send it. "Bush, Blair to Confer." That's the obvious one. But over here: "Flag Ordered to Half-Staff." One of the young Army guys who died in this terrible helicopter accident the other day here in New York came from New Hampshire. And they are honoring him. And it bothered me, as I read this, that we had never named those young men who died. Our mistake.
Forget that one. How much time do we have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty-five.
Oh, yes, give me the two pictures first. First the pigeons, OK? Remember we told you about that the Army had brought in all these chickens to be especially the canaries in case of a chemical or nuclear attack. The chickens all died. It's not clear why they died -- or at least I don't know. So they brought in pigeons, giving new meaning to the word pigeon.
Give me the other picture. This one, there is simply no explanation for why this man is putting his face in a bear's mouth. OK? We don't know. But I guarantee you that will be in some newspaper or another tomorrow.
And "The Anniston Star" sent us their front page. This is Anniston, Alabama. They actually sent us -- I've got to be honest with you. This is Friday's front page, but we were so pleased they sent it, we decided to show it anyway. Now, if they send us Monday's page on Sunday, we will get it on the air on Sunday, because we are going to do a program Sunday night.
OK, that's morning papers.
Still ahead: a day in the life, in this case, a day in the life of Miami's police chief. And that is no easy task.
A short break first.
BROWN: Today, the Justice Department released recommendations for reforming the Miami Police Department. The department has been hit with charges of racism, brutality and corruption. And a friend of NEWSNIGHT's has been put in charge of cleaning up this mess. Miami wanted a big name and an outsider. And they found both in John Timoney, the former police chief in Philadelphia. Timoney is used the role of the outsider. He came to New York from Dublin as a kid, and he has the accent to prove it.
We recently went along for his 9:00-to-5:00, which, in his case, is 5:00 to 9:00.
JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE CHIEF: It's a little before dawn, about a quarter to 6:00. And, like Philadelphia, I'm trying to keep up the same habit of getting out most mornings, early morning row. It's just a chance to go out and think and work through solutions.
You find yourself coming to Miami with a whole host of competing or paradoxical issues. You have the start of 11 police officers on trial on a variety of federal charges involving the use of deadly physical force. You have some members of the public complaining that they're not getting enough police service, other members of the public complaining they're getting too much police service; it's too aggressive.
Now it's 8:00 a.m. And we're at police headquarters. Stop by, pick up my aide, and then we're heading out to city hall, where we will have a meeting with Carlos Gimenez, the city manager, and a whole host of other city agencies.
Oh my, God, this Florida weather. Angel?
As a police officer, your job is very dangerous. But it's also very simple, because, as you move up, you have got obligations to the citizens. You've got obligations to think about, how is this going to affect the economy as the city?
We want to make sure that people coming in to buy drugs on West Coconut Grove aren't welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going to head back to headquarters?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief Timoney's office. May Hearn (ph) speaking.
TIMONEY: Hello, Angie (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have your messages on your desk.
While people may be very nice to me, I am still an outsider. And so I have got the task of winning the confidence on my end of the men and women in the police department, that I know what I am doing and there are better days ahead.
Thank you, sir. Appreciate that. Good seeing you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
TIMONEY: We were here this morning and we're back in beautiful Miami City Hall. We'll be going in shortly to meet with the mayor.
We're going in here, sir? Yes.
Another terrible day in South Florida.
MANUEL A. DIAZ, MAYOR OF MIAMI: I think it was 40 or 50 years since someone from the outside had assumed the post of chief. Because of some of the problems that we were having, I think that most people believed that it should be somebody from the outside.
TIMONEY: And then the final thing, as you are well aware, the commissioners voted last week on their selections to the Citizens Investigations Panel.
Are you ready?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready to rumble?
TIMONEY: That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do it.
DIAZ: Go get 'em.
TIMONEY: Yes, sir.
We're now going to go to the South Division for their 3:00 roll call.
It's always the right thing to have your chief staff there to explain the rationale behind some of the policy changes.
It's often not fun being a police officer in a department that appears to be under attack. And you often feel like people are looking at you in a strange manner, that the press, the reporters, are kind of out to get you.
It's around 7:15 now. We're going to leave for a community center in West Coconut Grove to meet with a community group.
We have a variety of communities out there that have had difference experiences with this department, with police in general. I have got to gain their confidence, particularly the minority community.
If we get feedback from you, who's doing the drugs, plate numbers, intelligence information, if we get cooperation, then we can do a better job.
TIMONEY: Thank you. Thanks. Appreciate it.
The final meeting is one of those, what they call a business meeting. And so I'll be meeting with Donna Shalala, now the president of the University of Miami, along an with old friend of mine, Helen Fleischer (ph), a former public information for the NYPD about 20 years ago. And so I haven't seen either any one of them for a while. And so I am looking forward to it. So, why don't we go inside to this fine restaurant and enjoy ourselves?
So you thought you would have a nice quiet dinner.
I have often thought about, what drives you? I think it's the immigrant in me, the wanting to prove myself. I also enjoy myself. I get a buzz from this business. I like to challenge. I love the cops. And everything else is boring after policing.
BROWN: That's all for tonight. We will see you Sunday night at 8:00. Join us.
Good night for all of us.
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