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Interview with Edwin Wilson; Attacks in Iraq Getting more Sophisticated

Aired November 7, 2003 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now the investigation and the notification of next of kin, the insurgency in Iraq gets more sophisticated and the results get more deadly.
Stand by for hard news on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.


BLITZER (voice-over): Chopper down near Saddam Hussein's hometown, the troops on edge and on the search.

Should NATO take over? I'll ask former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

CIA spy or common criminal, I'll have an exclusive prison interview.

High school scare, why did police draw their weapons?

And, royal denial, a scandal so shocking no one's allowed to discuss it.


ANNOUNCER: This is WOLF BLITZER REPORTS for Friday, November 07, 2003.

BLITZER: It's happened again in Iraq. For the third time in two weeks a U.S. helicopter is down. The Black Hawk crashed near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. All six American onboard are dead. Local Iraqis say the chopper was shot down. The military has not confirmed that.

Two more Americans died in the northern city of Mosul. One was in a convoy ambushed by small arms fire. The other was killed by a homemade bomb.

Looking for those behind such attacks, U.S. troops were on the hunt in a village north of Baghdad. They detained dozens of suspects, among them what the military calls, and I'm quoting now, "a high value target."

We begin in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit where there's a Black Hawk down our Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson reports.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As U.S. helicopters fly guard above the downed Black Hawk, another helicopter swoops onto the dusty riverbank where the impact occurred.

Debris spread over a large area beneath the ridgeline indicating a high speed impact. Residents in the densely populated housing overlooking the crash claim missiles were fired at the helicopter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We still don't know what caused the helicopter to go down, whether it was mechanical or whether it was caused by hostile action. We have to wait for the results of the investigation to come back to be sure of that.

ROBERTSON: At the main coalition base in Tikrit, barely two miles, three kilometers from the crash, intense interest by troops, this the third helicopter downed in two weeks.

On Sunday, at least 16 U.S. troops died when their Chinook transport helicopter was apparently hit by a surface-to-air missile; and, on the 25th of October another Black Hawk near Tikrit downed by a rocket-propelled grenade injuring one soldier.

(on camera): Coalition officials say that any speculation that they may be facing a new offensive against helicopters is just that, speculation. Nevertheless to have had three helicopters crash in the last two weeks is a development that some coalition troops here find troubling.

(voice-over): Both vehicle and foot patrols continue as normal and although they'll examine helicopter procedures officials here think it unlikely they'll be making significant changes in the near future.

Nic Robertson CNN, Tikrit, Iraq.


BLITZER: Let's go live now to our CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre. Jamie, you've been looking into this very troubling development. What have you learned?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as deadly and as tragic as this helicopter was it could have handed an even bigger psychological victory to the enemies of the United States.

Assuming the helicopter was brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade or missile, as many in the military believe, it appears that a high ranking Army officer just escaped being brought down as well.

CNN has now learned that in the other helicopter that was flying with the downed helicopter was a two-star Army general who was visiting Iraq, not someone who was one of the ground commanders there but nevertheless a high-ranking Army officer on a mission, undisclosed mission, in Iraq. Had his helicopter been brought down, the other one, clearly, that would have handed a psychological victory to the enemies of the United States.

I just want to make it clear that the U.S. military doesn't value the life of one rank over another but with the insurgents trying to make, to demoralize the United States that would have been an unfortunate turn of events.

Two other questions that are raised by this information is it possible that the insurgents knew that this general was on a helicopter and were targeting him? And, is it possible that they knew that General Abizaid is in Iraq and were they targeting him? Those are questions right now that don't have any answer.

BLITZER: General Abizaid, of course being the commander of the Central Command in charge of that entire region, very sensitive information. Jamie McIntyre, thank you very much for that report.

The U.S. burden in Iraq grew today when Turkey said it will not, repeat not, send troops there after all. Turkey pulled the plug after Iraq's Governing Council strongly opposed the deployment, a legacy of historic disputes between the two nations.

Where should the U.S. turn now for help in Iraq? Earlier today I put that question to the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.


BLITZER: Madam Secretary, thanks very much for joining us. Let's get right to a hot button issue whether or not you believe that NATO should take charge of military operations in Iraq as General Wesley Clark is suggesting.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it's a very good suggestion because something has to be done to bolster the number of troops that are in there. I am very concerned about the chaotic situation and it's essential that we win the peace and if we can get NATO to do that I think it's a very interesting and good idea.

BLITZER: So, you support Clark's proposal to fire Paul Bremer as the chief civilian administrator, let NATO and perhaps the U.N. take over all political charge?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I have all along believed that it was essential to get the United Nations and the European Union or other organizations to help in the civilian part of this whole operation with the humanitarian and economic aspects.

And, I think that at the moment things are not going well and it is essential for us to win the peace. The very specific suggestions of General Clark's I haven't really heard but I do think that it is important to try to get others to help us because they have to understand that it is now generally a threat to all of us.

BLITZER: It sounds like you don't have a whole lot of confidence in the way this administration, specifically Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, is running the situation in Iraq.

ALBRIGHT: Well, all I know is what I see, Wolf. Every day I wake up in the morning and I hear about Americans being killed and another helicopter accident or shoot down or whatever happened and I am very troubled by what I see.

And I had always wondered what was going to happen after the military part of this and not enough, I think, attention was paid to what would happen after the serious fighting and we all expected that or we were told to expect that we would be greeted with open arms and that hasn't happened. So, I have been very worried about the what next from the very beginning of this operation.

BLITZER: Some Democrats, including Charlie Rangel, the Congressman from New York, think Rumsfeld should step down. Are you among those?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I don't want to get involved in that, you know. I think it is very hard for people at the top of an administration to really for the rest of us to understand how they all work together. I think that's obviously up to the president.

BLITZER: Yesterday, I interviewed Senator John McCain. He said that the U.S. simply doesn't have enough troops, enough boots on the ground in Iraq to get the job done. He says another division, maybe 15,000 or so troops need to be there. Do you think the U.S. has enough forces in Iraq?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I know that this is a big discussion and that General Boxie (ph) does believe that there are enough. Senator McCain is clearly a knowledgeable critic.

I do know that something more has to be done, which perhaps is why the NATO suggestion is a good one, as well as trying to find reconstituted aspects of the Iraqi military which I think should not have been disbanded in the first place and perhaps some of our friends and allies that don't want to send troops themselves could, in fact, help in the training of the Iraqi military as well as the Iraqi police.

BLITZER: Is the president on the right track when he says democracy in Iraq is essential and then you have to get democracy throughout the Middle East, this new initiative he unveiled yesterday? Is he on the right track?

ALBRIGHT: I believe so, Wolf. I don't know whether you know. I'm chairman of the board of the National Democratic Institute that is one of the parts of the National Endowment for Democracy where President Bush spoke yesterday and I too believe that there needs to be democracy in the Middle East.

I don't think that it is a particularly good start, however, to have brought it in by invasion because that in effect then lays a question to how we are going to go about helping other countries develop democracy but I agreed with a lot of what President Bush said in his speech yesterday. BLITZER: You spent eight years in government, eight years in the Clinton administration, four years as the U.N. ambassador, four years as the secretary of state. Knowing what you know now, looking back on those eight years, the war on terror, Iraq, what if any regrets do you have?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I don't have too many frankly because we really worked very hard to try to develop what the appropriate role was for the United States in the 21st Century. We developed alliance structures that I think need to be used better and we also believed that it was important to be part of an international system and not above it.

So, I don't have a lot of regrets. I do wish that we perhaps had worked harder generally in pushing countries in the Middle East towards Democracy. I hope that I'm identified with the whole democratization process.

I think it's the right way to go and my regrets are only in terms of the U.N. that we didn't do enough about Rwanda and perhaps did not work hard enough to develop the peacekeeping arm of the United Nations.

BLITZER: Your former deputy Jamie Rubin, now a foreign policy adviser to General Wesley Clark, are you planning on getting involved in presidential politics working for any of the Democratic candidates?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I am doing what I can in terms of advising whoever asks me and I obviously will be very supportive of the Democratic nominee. I think it is very important that the Democratic view in terms of how the world views the United States and what we see as our role in the United States engagement but not alone is something that prevails but I am going to help whoever asks me at the moment.

BLITZER: Madam Secretary you sound still very much like a diplomat, appreciate it very much your joining us.

Rosie O'Donnell speaking out in court once again on her experiences.


ROSIE O'DONNELL: It felt unlike anything I've ever felt in my life. I never have been in a courtroom. I have never been on the stand testifying. It was a very unique experience.


BLITZER: And it's not over yet, today's revelations, full details coming up.

And the man who speaks for Arnold Schwarzenegger will speak to us live about a very private investigation.

And what exactly did Prince Charles do or not do? We have a report coming up from London. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Coming up this hour a school in South Carolina attempts to solve a drug problem but did it get carried away? We'll have details. Stay with us.


BLITZER: A short field trip today for the jurors in the trial of accused D.C. area sniper John Allen Muhammad. That tops our Justice Report. The jury was taken from the courthouse to the jail next door to look firsthand at his 1990 Chevy Caprice. Prosecutors say Muhammad and fellow suspect Lee Malvo fired at victims from the car's trunk.

A federal appeals court has overruled a trial judge and dismissed a perjury case against a Jordanian student acquainted with two of the 9/11 hijackers, the appeals court today reinstated the charges against Osama Owadala (ph). It admonished him for failing to come forward with information about the hijackers after the attacks had taken place.

Bad blood, accusations, and indeed a touch of humor, just another day in court in the court battle over the defunct "Rosie" magazine. CNN's Mary Snow is following this high profile big dollar civil trial in New York City. She's joining us now live. Tell us what happened today, Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Rosie O'Donnell took the stand, finished her testimony saying a coup d'tat was staged at "Rosie" magazine by the management of Gruner & Jahr, the publisher, in order to get her out of the way and today she told her side of the story.


SNOW (voice-over): Rosie O'Donnell arrived at court saying this is not the kind of stage she's accustomed to.

O'DONNELL: It felt unlike anything I've ever felt in my life.

SNOW: O'Donnell took some of her trademark comedy into the courtroom where she and her publisher is suing each other over the demise of "Rosie" magazine. In an exchange about who's the boss, O'Donnell turned to the judge and said but you are the boss, which brought laughter.

But at "Rosie" magazine, the question over who's the boss came to a head over this photo chosen by then newly-hired Editor-in-Chief Susan Toepfer. O'Donnell testified she told Toepfer:

"I am the editorial director. I am the one who chooses the cover." She testified: "It is not what we do. I am not in the center with my F-ing face and my F-ing ugly stomach." O'Donnell wanted her story subjects featured instead. "Having me on the cover is not what I'm about." Under cross-examination lawyers for the publisher Gruner & Jahr asked O'Donnell whether she had lied in a deposition when she claimed she never told G&J's marketing director Cindy Spengler (ph) that when you lie you get sick and get cancer. O'Donnell now admits that statement under oath was a lie. She also admitted that she had not read her contract with G&J only her lawyers had.

This kind of tough talk among her staff has been one of the main issues in this case. Rosie O'Donnell leaving court just a short while ago, joining the line of cameras today some fans had turned out, even flowers, Rosie O'Donnell saying that she is glad that this is all winding down.

O'DONNELL: I simply said this is my name. This is the deal they made and this is how they broke their promise and then they threatened me and as a result I said well then let's go to court and I believe this judge is a wise man and I will do whatever he decides and I will not appeal the verdict no matter what it is. If he decides I owe them money I will pay it but I do not think that is what he'll decide.


SNOW: This trial resumes on Monday when Rosie O'Donnell's side will call more witnesses and it's expected that this will all wind down sometime next week and lawyers say it could be a while before the judge issues his decision - Wolf.

BLITZER: CNN's Mary Snow doing some excellent reporting for us all week, we'll see you back here next week. Thank you very much, Mary.

Get ready to be moonstruck this weekend. There's a lunar eclipse. Will you be able to see it, the best spots? That's coming up.

And the economy jobs are up but is anxiety down?

And, Arnold Schwarzenegger's right hand man, David Dreier, joins us to talk about the governor-elect's investigation. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Pundits were calling the nation's economic upturn the jobless recovery but they soon may have to come up with another name. New numbers out today from the Labor Department show businesses added 126,000 jobs in October, more than what analysts were forecasting. It was the third consecutive month of job increases but the numbers tell only part of the story.

For the rest let's go live to CNN's Kathleen Hays. She's joining us from New York - Kathleen.

KATHLEEN HAYS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this better than expected jobs reporting just about every way is creating a lot more true believers on Wall Street and even among individuals like a young New Yorker we caught up with earlier this week. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


HAYS (voice-over): Mariclare Lawson is walking on air. After months of searching, the 25-year-old college grad just found a job.

LAWSON: I was a little hopeless and my friends kept telling me the economy is going to pick up in the fall so just wait until then and then you'll start getting offers and that's what happened.

HAYS: And it happened to workers across the country. According to the Labor Department, the economy created 126,000 new jobs in October the third month in a row hirings increased.

That's the strongest three month performance since December of 2000 and big enough to push the nation's unemployment rate down to six percent in October from 6.1 percent in September. So far, job gains have been biggest in areas where salaries tend to be lowest like department stores and temporary office jobs.

Higher paid manufacturing jobs are still disappearing. Factory jobs fell for the 39th month in a row and even workers who have jobs can't get raises. Wage growth was stagnant in October.

The president says his tax cuts are working and in time more workers will benefit. Time, economists say, is what's needed to see if the turn in the labor market is for real.

JARED BERNSTEIN, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: A year ago we were adding jobs, actually about three or four months in a row and then we went back into the kind of slump we're just coming out of. So, I don't think we're quite ready to pop the corks but put the champagne on ice.

HAYS: Mariclare isn't waiting. Every day back in the ranks of the gainfully employed is a celebration for her.

LAWSON: I love going to work, getting my coffee, being in my office. I have my own desk and going to lunch and it's just really fun and it feels good to put in a good day's work like actually accomplish something and help people out.


HAYS: So yes, Wolf, it does look like things are starting to bubble up in the economy but remember economists say it does take something around 150,000 new jobs a month to bring that unemployment rate down so we have to see more months like the last couple of months to show that the labor market truly has turned and the economy is going to remain on the right track as we head into 2004 - Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope it does. CNN's Kathleen Hays thanks very much for that report.

And here's your turn to weigh in on this story. Our web question of the day is this. "Does the drop in joblessness mean the U.S. economy is recovering"? You can vote right now. Go to We'll have the results later in this broadcast.

Prince Charles is in the headlines and the story does not, repeat does not involve ribbon cutting. Our Walter Rodgers will report.

And see this picture, this is a school and the weapon is loaded, weapons in this case.

And watch this -- you just have to wonder what's the beef? We'll tell you. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back to CNN.

Prince Charles and the latest royal scandal in just a moment, first though, a quick check of the latest headlines.


BLITZER: Britain's Prince Charles says he didn't do it and a British court is blocking the news media from even saying what it is. But those in the know say the allegations are so shocking it threatens the monarchy itself.

CNN's senior international correspondent Walter Rodgers has this very unusual story from London.


WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prince Charles is on a state visit to Oman, but he's issued a categorical denial that he was ever involved in an alleged incident, which cannot be reported for legal reasons, but which some say could shake the British monarchy to the core.

Totally ludicrous, Charles says. The allegations said to involve the heir to the British throne cannot be disclosed because of a high court injunction blocking publication in the U.K.

But the prince does acknowledge he is the high royal alleged to have been involved. Charles private secretary, Sir Michael Peat said the prince's preemptive denial, even before the allegations are public here, is aimed at putting an end to damaging speculation.

SIR MICHAEL PEAT, SENIOR ROYAL AIDE: Others are discussing it. And the allegations are becoming common currency. It's the subject of much speculation and innuendo. And I just want to make it entirely clear, even though I can't refer to the specifics of the allegation, that it's totally untrue and without a shred of substance.

RODGERS: Denials aside, the newspaper headlines, even with very little of substance to print, are now suggesting the future of the British royal family hangs in the balance.

Other royals watchers disagree.

ROBERT JOBSON, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: I think the monarchy will ride this one out. They've ridden most of the scandals of the recent years since the death of the late Princess Diana out. I'm sure they'll ride this one out, if indeed it does surface.

The reality of the situation is the royal family are not elected. Therefore, they can have the advantage of time being on their side. And they would just keep their powder dry for the next couple years.

RODGERS: The allegations of a scandalous incident have been circulating inside media offices for weeks now. The Charles denial may have given rumors new life by triggering even greater media and public attention.

(on camera): Some of the allegations are already on the Internet, beyond the control of the British courts. And many are now beginning to ask if by going public, Prince Charles may not have shot himself in the foot.

Walter Rodgers, CNN, London.


BLITZER: Days before the swearing in, there has been a falling out between California's Republican Governor-Elect Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state's Democratic attorney general, Bill Lockyer. A Schwarzenegger spokesman says Lockyer violated attorney- client privilege when he told reporters he had urged Schwarzenegger to allow an independent investigation of the groping allegations against him. The spokesman says Schwarzenegger decided weeks ago to conduct an outside probe, but now he may not necessarily share the findings with Lockyer.

For more on all of this, we're joined from Capitol Hill by the Republican Congressman David Dreier. He's the co-chairman of Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign, in charge of the transition.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

REP. DAVID DRIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Always good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Why does the attorney -- why did the governor-elect decide to go for this independent private eye to go ahead and investigate the groping allegations by these women?

DRIER: Well, Wolf, you know -- and I think we discussed this just before the election in one of our interesting debates during that period of time. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that with these charges, that he would address it after the election. And what he has done is he's made a determination to have a priority inquiry which will look into this.

I think your characterization is not a very accurate one. To say that there's a falling out with the attorney general is really not the case. And I will tell you that Attorney General Bill Lockyer is a Democrat who courageously stepped forward, voted in favor of the recall, voted in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And they did have this discussion. And this came out in a news conferences that he had.

But the fact is....

BLITZER: Let me interrupt for a second, Congressman Drier. But I didn't say there was a falling out. His own spokesman -- Arnold Schwarzenegger's press secretary says he may not necessarily share the results because he didn't like the fact the attorney general was speaking about all of this to reporters.

DRIER: Yes, but, Wolf, all I'm saying is I just wouldn't characterize it as a falling out, because I know that they are looking forward to a good, strong, positive working relationship.

You know, I went about 10 days ago with the governor elect to every state constitutional officer's actual office and met with them. They're all Democrats. It was received extraordinarily well. It was unprecedented. In fact, a number of people said that they had never had a governor come to their office.

And so he did that. He's looking forward to working with the attorney general. I will tell you the impressive thing that we have now going -- I just this moment got off of a conference call with our 68-member transition committee which, as you know, Wolf, is a very, very diverse group geographically, demographically. Both political parties and independents as well. And we have put together a phenomenal team with Richard Riordan as the secretary of education. This is unprecedented.

We have a number of announcements that are going to be made in coming days on this. So the transition is going really well, Wolf.

BLITZER: Is the governor-elect committed to releasing all the information that this private investigator comes up with?

DRIER: Well, let me say that he said that he would conduct a private inquiry, and that's exactly what he's doing.

He very much wants to put this behind him. He wants to focus on the state's challenges that are there. He has apologized. He said just before the election, when "The Los Angeles Times," began this process that he apologized. He said that he was sorry. He thought that it was playful behavior back at that time -- 15,20 years ago on movie sets. And he now wants to put it behind. But he did, in fact, say that he wanted to bring about a resolution. And that's why he's moving towards a private inquiry.

BLITZER: Congressman David Drier, always good to have you on the program.

DRIER: You bet, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

DRIER: Thanks.

BLITZER: The inauguration scheduled a week from Monday, November 17...

DRIER: You bet. We'll be there.

BLITZER: Sacramento.

DRIER: Hope you'll join us.

BLITZER: I might just do that. Thanks very much, David Drier...

DRIER: We'll give you a front row seat.

BLITZER: All right.

Surveillance tape of a police riot that left some students terrified. Did a principal go too far in trying to keep drugs out of the school?

A former CIA officer in prison for selling explosives to Libya. Why is his conviction being thrown out? I'll have an exclusive jailhouse interview with Edwin Wilson.

And he banned his music in the '60s. So why is Fidel Castro listening to John Lennon right now?

First, a quick look at some other news making headlines "Around the World."


BLITZER (voice-over): In Venezuela, chaos in Congress. A fistfight broke out between two law makers as they argued over a bill. Colleagues broke it up. Each man blames the other for starting it.

A U.S. Air Force translator is now formally charged with spying, aiding the enemy and making false statements. Ahmed Al Halabi was a translator at Guantanamo Naval Base, where the government is holding terror suspects.

Four Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, are dead in Gaza in separate incidents, including an Israeli raid on a refugee camp. Israel says it had word a militant there was planning an attack on a Jewish settlement. Palestinians say Israeli helicopters fired randomly into the camp.

Beijing is blanketed by the earliest snowfall to hit the city in 13 years. It cut off power to parts of the area, but some residents say that at least the storm improved the city's poor air quality.

And Afghanistan's first entry into a beauty pageant in three decades says she will participate in a swimsuit competition at this weekend's Miss Earth contest in Manila. But she says she's not comfortable doing it. Afghanistan's Supreme Court condemned her last week for taking part in the pageant, even though she now lives in the United States.

And that's our look "Around the World."



BLITZER: A high school principal in suburban Charleston, South Carolina has taken zero tolerance to the next level. Some parents say what he and local police did crossed the line.


BLITZER (voice-over): Imagine this scene in your kid's school. Police officers swarming the halls, guns drawn, kids forced to the ground, some handcuffed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, that was just enough to frustrate any parent.

BLITZER: No shootings reported here, no evidence of students with guns and no charges relating to drugs or weapons filed. This was a raid about 6:30 Wednesday morning at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina.

The principal suspected drug trafficking. He went to the police. A police commander tells CNN he monitored various surveillance tapes over a number of days and says he saw suspicious activity.

This is what the surveillance tape caught when police moved in Wednesday morning.

GEORGE MCCRACKIN, PRINCIPAL, STRATFORD H.S.: Stratford High School has always had a reputation of being a safe, clean school. And I will utilize whatever forces that I deem necessary to keep this campus safe and clean.

BLITZER: Officers cordoned off this hallway and yelled for students to get down. Some who didn't get down right away were handcuffed.

LT. DAVE AARONS, GOOSE CREEK, S.C. POLICE: Some of the officers had their weapons drawn at a low ready position, which is not pointing at the faces or heads of student. It was down in a position where, should somebody have drugs on them and fears that -- of getting caught and, if, for some reason -- if they made a poor decision and decided to use a weapon for means of escape, then, you know, we were able to address that.

BLITZER: Police say a canine team detected drug residue in 12 bags, but no narcotics or weapons were found.

Some parents and students are outraged.

LATONIA SIMMONS, PARENT: And why did they'd have to take all that force? You know, they were innocent kids. They were just minding their own business getting ready for class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was scared because -- guns in school?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shouldn't be total lockdown in the school during morning areas.

BLITZER: CNN spoke to two other parent who said they were also upset.

But the principal claimed he met with some parents.

MCCRACKIN: Only one negative parent out of all has -- after they sat down with us and we went over what we were doing and why we were doing it.

BLITZER: Police told CNN this was a tactical decision, made for the safety of the students. This afternoon, police and school officials said they would work together to address the concerns of the community. But they defended the principal.

DAVE BARROW, BERKELEY CO., S.C. SCHOOLS: There is, no doubt in the mind of the district and the community that Stratford serve that is Mr. McCrackin protects the interest of his school as a parent protects the interest of his family.


BLITZER: Stratford is one of the largest high schools in South Carolina. Two police officers are assigned to the school full time. And police say this operation was meant to send a message.

Convicted of arms dealing and conspiracy to murder. He's been in prison for 20 years. But he says his story -- the story is wrong. Edwin Wilson has taken a dramatic turn -- his story, at least. We'll tell you -- dramatic developments -- what's unfolding in this notorious case.

And Fidel Castro's connection with the Beatles. We'll explain. That's coming up as well.


BLITZER: An ex-CIA officer -- he lived lavishly as an arms dealer. Lured out of Libya in 1982, Edwin Wilson was put on trial. He went to prison for selling explosives and for conspiring to murder a prosecutor and witnesses.

He's still in prison, but there's been a stunning new development in this case. More now from our national security correspondent, David Ensor.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The trial 20 years ago created a sensation. Edwin Wilson, arms dealer, one-time CIA officer, was convicted of selling explosives to Libya's Moammar Qadhafi. Now, a U.S. district court judge in Texas has thrown out the explosives sale charge and a 10-year sentence declaring, "In the course of American justice, one would have to work hard to conceive of a more fundamentally unfair process."

DAVID ADLER, WILSON'S ATTORNEY: This was about as far from a fair trial as you can get.

ENSOR: The judge points to what he calls false testimony, an affidavit filed by a senior CIA official which said Wilson did not work for the agency after he left it in 1971.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The CIA is not on trial because Mr. Wilson did not work for the CIA or any other part of the intelligence community.

ENSOR: In fact, says the judge, CIA officials had told prosecutor Ted Greenberg (ph) that they had subsequently discovered Wilson had been in frequent contact with some CIA officials, who'd even asked him to do things for them, something Greenberg failed to tell the court.

There may have been a mistake made, concedes Lawrence Barcella, then in the U.S. Attorney's Office. But it would not have changed Wilson's legal case.

LAWRENCE BARCELLA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Edwin Wilson sold 40, 000 pounds of plastic explosives to the Libyans to line his own pocket. He wasn't told to do that, he wasn't authorized to do that, he wasn't allowed to do that.

ENSOR: Wilson's lawyer says, though, that since the 75-year-old prisoner was a victim of injustice once, he wants to find out whether Wilson was framed on other charges that he was convicted of and now serving time for.

DAVID ADLER, WILSON'S ATTORNEY: I find it hard to believe that the misconduct that the prosecutors engaged in started and ended with this one case that has now been overturned. I am very interested, let's say, to look into what happened in the New York conviction that resulted in the 25-year sentence.

ENSOR: For Barcella, that conviction on trying to kill several people, gets personal.

BARCELLA: I was one of those people.

ENSOR (on camera): So this is a man who tried to have you killed?

BARCELLA: Tried to have me killed, tried to have other prosecutors, tried to have witnesses, and even in one conversation that was taped in prison was -- toss indeed his ex-wife

ENSOR (on camera): Justice Department officials say they are reviewing the judge's decision deciding whether to appeal it. CIA officials say no one asked Wilson to sell explosives to Libya. Wilson remains in jail serving time on the other charges.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

Spy or common crook? Which is the real Wilson and what will he do now?

Earlier today I had an exclusive interview with the ex-CIA officer. Edwin Wilson spoke by telephone from the Allenwood Federal Prison in Pennsylvania.


EDWIN WILSON, FORMER CIA AGENT: Wolf, I just checked today. I would be paroled, mandatory release on the 14th of September 2004.

BLITZER: That's not that far away, less than a year from now.

Do you have any reason to believe you will be getting parole?

WILSON: Well, I will naturally put in for parole before that. There's a possibility. You know, I don't know.

BLITZER: Did you conspire to murder people, as you were convicted of doing?

WILSON: Absolutely not. The prosecutor schooled about three inmates who came on to a food slot where I was in solitary confinement at (UNINTELLIGIBLE). After schooling them on what to say to the court, I was convicted. But there's nothing on tape. That whole thing is garbage, as a matter of fact.

BLITZER: Because, as you know, you were convicted of conspiring to murder some of the prosecutors who were involved in your case as well as your ex-wife?

WILSON: That's all nonsense, too. There was -- in fact, the ex- wife thing was never an indictment. That was made up by whole cloth by the informants that Mr. Barcella and Mr. Greenberg placed there.

BLITZER: Did you sell explosives and weapons to Muammar Gaddafi's Libya?

WILSON: No, I did not. As a matter of fact, check the record. Jerome Broward (ph) sold the C-4, bought it, shipped it, profited by it. First time I knew about it is when it arrived in Libya. Now, I want to make a strong point. I hope you leave this in the interview. That C-4 was never used for anything but the oil companies for which it was bought. There was never a time that was ever used. And it can easily be traced.

BLITZER: You were convicted of selling 40,000 pounds of plastic explosives to Libya and the prosecutor says all that in order to line your own pocket to make money.

What are you saying, 20 years later, you're totally denying that? WILSON: I'm denying that I sold it, that I profit by it or shipped it. Jerome Broward got four months in a half there is way house. I got 17 years. He was in Libya. I was here. How could I have possibly had done it. I had nothing to do with it.

BLITZER: So, are you saying all of these charges for which you were convicted were simply made up?

WILSON: That's right. As a matter of fact, when we finally get through -- just like the Houston case, you'll find that it was all made up.

BLITZER: When you got word that that one charge was going to be dismissed because the prosecutors failed to inform the court that you had, indeed, been in contact with the CIA, what went through your mind on that day?

WILSON: Well, of course. I'm pleased with the judge's opinion. It's great to be vindicated even on that one thing, that one case. I'm glad that the facts are finally coming out, after 22 years and 17 years of looking through the information. It's nice to be vindicated.


BLITZER: Well, the judge threw out Wilson's conviction for selling explosives. Another charge of selling arms still stands. As does the most serious conviction of conspiring to murder a prosecutor and a witness.

A picture fit for a president. Our picture of the day, Fidel Castro in an unlikely setting. We'll explain just ahead.

And remember, our hot "Web Question of the Day" is this, Does the drop in joblessness mean the U.S. economy is recovering? You can still vote, We'll have the results for you when we come back.


The times, they are a changing. Fidel Castro once banned the music of the Beatles from Cuba making the picture of the day more unusual.

BLITZER: President Castro was serenaded with John Lennon's "Imagine" during a peace concert in Havana. And Yoko Ono was sister was among the speakers. She praised Cuba for it's effort to build an equal society. The event was held at park named John Lennon and another of his songs, "Give Peace a Chance" played as the concert ended.

Here's how you are weighing in on our "Web Question of the Day," does the drop in joblessness mean the U.S. economy is recovering?

Look at this, 54 percent of you said, yes, 46 percent of your said, no. As always we remind this is not a scientific poll.

Lets take a look at some of your e-mail. Yesterday we asked if the United States has enough troops in Iraq.

Michael writes this, "A new approach needs to be taken in securing Iraq. The president needs to call up a lot more troops and restart the draft."

Rochelle disagrees, "We don't need more troops in Iraq. We need other countries to contribute troops and money, and then we need to get out of this disaster."

As always we are hear Monday through Friday 5:00 p.m. Eastern as well as noon Eastern. I'll see you Sunday on "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk. Among my guest, Democratic candidate Richard Gephardt. See then, until then "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now.



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