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Interview With Richard Armitage; Interview with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin

Aired November 13, 2003 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: "In Focus" tonight: Will capturing Saddam Hussein end the violence in Iraq? We'll ask Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
Can the U.S. and France work together to bring democracy and stability to Iraq? First, they'll have to get beyond political and diplomatic friction. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin joins us in an exclusive interview.

And conflicting wills, a disputed post-nuptial pact, and the struggle to crack the mystery of a murdered millionaire. We'll meet the man in the middle of the controversy.

Good evening. Welcome. Thanks for joining us tonight.

Also ahead: surprising testimony today in Scott Peterson's preliminary hearing about the marina near where the bodies of his wife and unborn son would be found. Plus, late details on whether his onetime lover Amber Frey will take the stand.

And is Saddam Hussein alive? Are the latest tapes really him? In an exclusive interview, we'll ask someone who was close by Saddam's side for nearly 16 years.

Plus, his story isn't in a book or a movie and you probably don't even know his name. He is one of the unsung American heroes in the Iraq war. He will tell us about his harrowing story of courage under fire.

Also, from "Saturday Night Live" to the U.S. Senate? We'll ask comedian Al Franken if he's really serious about running for the Senate in Minnesota.

First, though, here are some of the headlines you need to know right now.

CNN has confirmed General John Abizaid will move 300 to 400 of his headquarters staff back to Qatar next week and he will spend more time there to keep a closer watch on the increasing attacks in Iraq. Abizaid had been in charge since July, operating out of U.S. Central Command in Florida.

And in Baghdad, the second straight day of Operation Iron Hammer was marked with more ground and air assaults by U.S. troops. Military officials say U.S. forces destroyed a former Republican Guard building used by insurgents and struck suspected mortar and rocket launch sites.

Freak weather left parts of Los Angeles looking like a winter wonderland. Up to six inches of hail fell in some city neighborhoods overnight. Severe weather, mainly high winds, also hit parts of the Midwest and Northeast.

Now on to my interview with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. It is his first since returning from Baghdad and the Middle East, where he and world leaders met to discuss Iraq. That is "In Focus" tonight.

And earlier today, I asked Armitage if he still believes Baathists loyal to Saddam Hussein pose the only threat to the coalition.


RICHARD ARMITAGE, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We've seen some foreign terrorists also as a threat. Suicide bombings are not something that's known particularly to Iraqis. They are fighters, but they don't partake in suicide that much. I think many of these suicide bombings are foreigners as well.

ZAHN: So what do you do about it?

ARMITAGE: We've got to hunt them down and rip them out, root and branch.

ZAHN: How long is that going to take?

ARMITAGE: Oh, gosh, I don't know.

General Abizaid and his colleagues, General Sanchez, with whom I recently met in Baghdad, have a strategy. They're moving in. They're using the intelligence provided by Iraqis. And they're going after these one at a time. This is not a massed army that we're fighting. We're fighting cells.

ZAHN: And against this challenge, there's also a new CIA report out that says that support for resistance is increasing among the Iraqi people and that faith in the U.S. occupation is decreasing. How concerned are you about that?

ARMITAGE: Well, I think we've long held the view that, at some point in time, if we don't play our cards exactly right, we would go from being seen as liberators to occupiers. And I don't know how long that is.

We're trying to make it very clear by our actions that we want to turn over sovereignty as soon as possible to Iraqis and turn over more of the security efforts to Iraqis as soon as they're trained. And I think that's the best way that we avoid being seen as occupiers, but liberators.

ZAHN: How much of what we're seeing, when you look inside the resistance, is there because there is a belief that Saddam Hussein is still alive?

ARMITAGE: Well, I've maintained that the capture or death of Saddam Hussein would be important psychologically, but I don't think that that would be the end of resistance.

ZAHN: And you touched upon a little bit earlier the need to speed up this process of transfer of power, whether it's to the local police or even politically, through the Iraqi Council. What kind of a challenge does that represent, when so many Iraqis don't even believe the Iraqi Council is legitimate?

ARMITAGE: Yes, now, that's indeed the challenge. We have to find a way to get the Governing Council to step up more rigorously to their own responsibilities, while simultaneously giving a future Iraqi government the tools they'll need to provide security in the country.

ZAHN: Ambassador Bremer returns to Iraq with some new instructions from the president. What kind of impact do you think this new plan will have?

ARMITAGE: I think the thrust will be very welcomed by the Iraqis. We are going to try to transfer much more authority as quickly as possible.

ZAHN: You talked a little bit about foreign suicide bombers. There's a great concern about al Qaeda, said to be refashioning itself. Actually, part of this is now attacking Arabs on Arab soil. How does that complicate the overall war on terror?

ARMITAGE: I think, in the Saudi case -- I was also in Riyadh right on the heels of that bombing. And I found the government of Saudi Arabia very up in arms, very seized with the problem.

This has aroused great public ire at al Qaeda. And I think, ultimately, in the long run, they have made a big mistake by targeting Muslims. hand people are turning on them.

ZAHN: Do you understand why it might be difficult for some members of the American public to buy that we are in fact winning this war on terror, when they see the catastrophe that was witnessed this weekend in Saudi Arabia?

ARMITAGE: Yes, I can understand it.

But the president, from the beginning, has said this a long war. And the more we peel back the onion of terrorism, the more we see how they have taken root in various soils, including in our own country. So we've buckled all our chin straps and we're going to be at this for a while. And we will win.

ZAHN: And, finally, just this morning, Japan announced it would not send any troops to Iraq -- one of our key allies. Is that disappointing to you?

ARMITAGE: When I was reading my morning traffic this morning, I saw some discussion in Japan of this. But the bottom line of the cable or the telegram I read indicated that Japanese troops would be ready for dispatch. So, perhaps you have seen something later than I have. I would not be -- I would be disappointed if you turned out to be correct and not me.

ZAHN: Well, it appears, based on the information I've been given, we are correct. So what does that mean? Does that mean it is going to be much tougher to internationalize this mission?

ARMITAGE: No, I think you have seen, Ms. Zahn, that the strategy of those who are fighting us is to strip away all of those who are supporting the coalition. And the attack, horrible attack, on the Italians yesterday I think is stripping away, or trying to strip away, those who might support the coalition. This is an obvious strategy. And, of course, it would be a disappointment for us if, over the long run, they're successful.

ZAHN: And you said you would be disappointed if it ends up being true that Japan does not send troops into Iraq. What are the implications of that?

ARMITAGE: The implications are that the terrorists have frightened them away. I personally think that, at the end of the day, you will see Japanese troops in Iraq. But we'll see who's right.

ZAHN: Always good to see you, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Thanks for your time today.

ARMITAGE: Thank you, Ms. Zahn.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to put this plaque here and throughout the Capitol. It will be freedom fries and freedom toast.


ZAHN: Well, you remember that, the war in Iraq creating quite a rift in relations between the U.S. and France. For Americans, France fell out of favor. For the French, President Bush became the ugly American. But are both sides ready to bury the hatchet?

Well, in an exclusive interview earlier today, I asked French Foreign Affairs Minister Dominique de Villepin how the French can view the U.S. with both admiration and repulsion.


DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER: I believe that the feeling of the French for the U.S. has always been a feeling of very strong friendship. We've gone through difficult times, of course, during the last months. But we all feel that it is necessary for all of us to find the right solution. ZAHN: You have to concede, though, sir, that there have been some pretty nasty things said about Americans in the French press, which we have come to understand as a reflection of how many French people feel about Americans.

DE VILLEPIN: Well, I must say that the dominant thing during the last month has been the restraint of the French authorities during all these difficult times.

You would not find one word coming from President Chirac or myself at any moment criticizing and being -- openly criticizing the administration, because what we want is not criticism. We don't think that anything is going to come out of criticism. What we want is solution.

ZAHN: Sir, the conciliatory language you're using today is strikingly different than the language we heard in the run-up to the war. Do you regret any of the things French officials had to say about America during that heated period of debate?

DE VILLEPIN: I don't think that, at any moment, French position has been aimed by a willingness to complicate or to oppose the United States. Our position has been consistently to answer to the question, how can we solve the Iraqi crisis, how can we solve the different crises of the world?

ZAHN: Does that mean the French government is willing to offer French troops to get involved in Iraq and more French investment?

DE VILLEPIN: I really want to point out this fact. Don't believe that you are going to solve Iraq because you are going to send more troops or more money.

You have to face the facts that, in the world of today, the problems cannot be solved uniquely, only, by money and troops. You need to take into account the identity of these people, the respect of culture and religion of these people. We are ready to help, cooperate with the Iraqis, to help cooperate on the formation of the police and of the army. But, first, we need to have the Iraqis deciding by themselves what they want.

ZAHN: Sir, I hear what you're saying, but you still didn't answer the question about whether France is willing to commit troops at a time when Japan was expected to send troops to Iraq, and now they have said they will not.

DE VILLEPIN: But I'm telling you very clearly that, before you answer this question, you have to ask the Iraqis what they want. You have to ask them what conception they have of security. Do they want more troops at the borders? Is it needed to have troops inside of the territory?

Is it the solution to have troops that cannot go out of their different fortresses because the security is not satisfactory? The key is answering the political question first. ZAHN: And a key question that's being asked is whether the Iraqi Governing Council is up to the task. A lot of Iraqis themselves are saying it's inept, it's dysfunctional. How much faith do you have in the Iraqi Governing Council?

DE VILLEPIN: No, I don't believe that.

You see, all the experience, the historical experience of decolonization has been always the same. There's always the occupying country saying that the country is not ready, that we need time, we need to have different people to run the country. This is not the way we should answer, facing the situation and spiral of violence.

ZAHN: Your hope is, this provisional government is put in place by the end of the year. If that happens, when will Iraq be safe, not only for the foreign troops stationed there, but for Iraqis as well?

DE VILLEPIN: Well, it is a process.

If you are going to engage a political process, if you are going to recognize the sovereignty of the Iraqis, then you have a chance that the Iraqis themselves that do know better their country than we know it. If we are going to be as active in Iraq as we should be in the peace process, if we are going to deal with the whole regional problems, then we might create the dynamic that is needed in order to solve the problem of this region.

ZAHN: Former minister, Mr. de Villepin, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

DE VILLEPIN: Thank you.


ZAHN: Kobe Bryant back in a Colorado courtroom again today. And this time, the family of his accuser was present -- the latest on the Bryant case.

And is Saddam Hussein alive? We're going to meet the man who stood close by the former dictator's side for some 16 years in another exclusive interview.

And political satirist Al Franken running for office? We'll ask him if he's serious.


ZAHN: Kobe Bryant returned to the courtroom today in a hearing in his sexual assault trial. And, for the first time, the NBA star was face-to-face with the family of his alleged victim.

For the very latest, let's turn to Josie Burke, who joins us from Eagle, Colorado, who's going to fill us in on what happened today.

Good evening, Josie.


Kobe Bryant was in and out of the courtroom here in Eagle, Colorado, in under 15 minutes. But it was still a significant appearance, nonetheless. First of all, he was appearing for the first time in district court and, for the first time, in front of the District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle. Ruckriegle is the judge who will preside over his trial.

And, as you mentioned, he was also for the very first time in the same room as members of members of his accuser's family. They were not sitting very far away from the basketball star during the proceedings.


KRISTA FLANNIGAN, EAGLE COUNTY D.A. SPOKESWOMAN: The family of the victim was in attendance today, parents, two brothers and a cousin. And we did have notification that they were going to be here. They thought that it was important that people recognize that there is a real victim in this case and that they wanted to show their support.


BURKE: It did not appear as though Bryant and those family members acknowledged each other at any point in time.

Their appearance was probably the surprise of the day. If there was a major development, it was the fact that Ruckriegle sort of laid out a timetable as we head to trial, although just for the next couple of months. He gave both sides 30 days to file their pretrial motions. And he established two hearing dates, one for December 19 and one for January 23. But what he did not do was go ahead and set an arraignment date. And that's one reason why a lot of people walked out of the courtroom with the feeling that we're still pretty far away, Paula, from any actual start date for a trial -- back to you.

ZAHN: The hearing date isn't until December 19. Is the idea on Kobe Bryant's attorney's part to drag this thing out until the NBA season is over?

BURKE: Well, aside, Paula, from the wishes and desires of attorneys on both sides, there are some things that we learned about specifically today that are factors in just when the trial can start.

One thing that Mark Hurlbert, the district attorney, revealed today is, there is still some scientific evidence that needs to be tested by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. And then there's that arraignment date. It's significant, because that's what really starts the clock ticking down to a trial. They have a speedy trial law here in Colorado. And it means six months from the arraignment date, a trial would have to start.

So, again, in addition to what the attorneys on both sides want, there are a couple other factors in play -- Paula.

ZAHN: All right, Josie Burke, thanks for the update. Appreciate it.

And from Kobe Bryant, we turn now to the latest in Scott Peterson's preliminary hearing, where the big news tonight involves Amber Frey.

Joining us from Los Angeles is criminal defense attorney Trent Copeland.

Welcome, Trent.


ZAHN: All right, let's talk a little bit about the bombshell announcement by the attorney for Amber Frey, that her client will not be called to testify at this preliminary hearing. Why?

COPELAND: Well, Paula, for those of us in the legal community, this really was not much of a bombshell. In fact, really, the prevailing opinion had been in the legal community that, really, there was no real reason for Amber Frey to testify and to expose herself to cross-examination.

Really, the whole lead-up to this had been that much of us in the media were on sort of Amber watch, the sense that Amber Frey would be testifying and that her testimony would be the pivotal thing that would turn this preliminary hearing around. But the fact of the matter is, it was a week ago that this preliminary hearing could have stopped, because this judge really has found enough evidence, I believe, to hold this case over for trial.

And the fact that the prosecution would even have considered exposing Amber Frey to cross-examination and exposing whatever weaknesses that may come out of her examination to the defense was really foolhardy. And I don't know that they ever really seriously considered it. But, certainly, those in the media focused on it quite a great bit. So, really not much of a surprise.

ZAHN: All right. Let's talk about what else we learned in court today, that Scott Peterson had in fact visited three times after his wife's disappearance the bay where her body was later found. How damaging does that appear today?

COPELAND: Again, Paula, one of those moments, when you first heard it, it was kind of one of those gotcha moments that you might suspect that you'll feel in a John Grisham novel.

But the fact of the matter is, I really don't think, when you step back away from this, this will have much weight and it will really have much legs, in terms of the trial of this matter. The trick here is that Scott Peterson really did know that he was being followed. The fact is that Scott Peterson wasn't going to that bay -- he was clearly very aware that he was being followed by the police, and he was very aware that they knew what he was doing. So, really, it isn't one of those moments. And I don't think it will be particularly significant in the trial as they go forward.

ZAHN: Trent Copeland, thanks for being our eyes and ears there. Appreciate you joining us tonight.

COPELAND: You bet, Paula.


DANNY PELOSI, TARGET OF GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION: I got a little dirty record. Come on, but I never freakin' -- I never hurt, I never murdered anybody.


ZAHN: It is a twisted tale of murder, marriage and millions, our exclusive interview with the man some call a prime suspect.

And another exclusive: The man for over a decade and a half who had the ear of Saddam Hussein, what can he tell us about whether Saddam is dead or alive?


ZAHN: Since the fall of Baghdad, there have been a handful of audiotaped messages said to have been from Saddam Hussein. Their authenticity has been called into question by some.

But we had an exclusive interview with one man, Saman Abdul Majid, who may be in a unique position to judge the tapes, having been by Saddam's side for nearly 16 years. He says they are the real deal and that Saddam is still alive.


SAMAN ABDUL MAJID, FORMER TRANSLATOR FOR SADDAM HUSSEIN: I went with foreign delegations who went to meet him in Tikrit.

ZAHN (voice-over): In Tikrit, in Baghdad, all over Iraq, Majid was an interpreter for Saddam, translating the dictator's Arabic words into the native tongues of heads of state and dignitaries from around the world.

MAJID: What I learned during my translation and interpretation is that whatever weapons of mass destruction there were, long-distance missiles and chemicals, were destroyed by the Iraqis in 1992 or 1993.

ZAHN: What he learned, though, might not be as important as what he believes, having had to listen closely to his boss' voice for so many years.

(on camera): Do you believe Saddam Hussein is alive?

MAJID: I can say yes, because I heard the video -- the audiotapes he sent. And I heard them. I can say for 90 percent, I'm sure, that this is his voice. This is his style of talking and his style of fighting.

ZAHN (voice-over): Some of Majid's most delicate work was in meetings with U.N. inspectors in the late 1990s. The Iraqis were vehement that they had destroyed their weapons of mass destruction.

(on camera): Did you believe everything you heard while you were doing these translations? Is it possible they were lying to you?

MAJID: I thought they were sincere in what they were saying, because they had no interest in lying, because in fact, now that, since April, the regime is not there longer, and the Americans are there, and they haven't found anything. So I think they were telling the truth.

ZAHN (voice-over): In the tense days before Shock and Awe began, the world wondered what Saddam was thinking. Majid shares his insight.

MAJID: He expected that his army would face the American forces, to the extent of not pushing them back, but to the extent of inflicting a lot of casualties on the Americans, so that the American public opinion or the international public opinion would force the U.S. to stop its war and negotiate a way out.

ZAHN: But since Saddam's expectations obviously didn't come true, while Iraq is slowly reconstructed, Mr. Majid finds himself living in exile in Paris, working on an English translation of a book about working with Saddam.


ZAHN: Majid says Saddam asked him to find a book written on urban guerrilla warfare written by the Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh just weeks before the U.S. of invasion of Iraq started. He says, at the time, he was surprised that he had asked for that book. But now he believes Saddam may be putting any insight he gained to use.

Two suspects, two trials, one deadly killing spree, closing arguments and opening statements on the same day in the two sniper trials.

Also, a chilling tale of murder and millions -- our interview with the onetime electrician who now may be the prime suspect.

And could another celebrity be throwing his hat into the political ring? Can you imagine Senator Al Franken?


ZAHN: Welcome back.

A love triangle and murder, a bizarre case on New York's Long Island. In a moment, we're going to hear from the man who has become the center of attention, the target of a grand jury investigation, Danny Pelosi.

But first, here's what you need to know right now, two courtrooms, two suspect.

Jeanne Meserve has been following proceeding today in the trials of sniper suspects John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo. She joins us with the latest.

Good evening, Jeanne.


First, a look at the Muhammad trial. Prosecutors said that Muhammad was the captain of a sniper killing team whose goal was to kill, terrorize and extort.

The defense said that the prosecution had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and they tried to raise questions about the witnesses, some of the scenarios and some of the evidence.

However, prosecutor Paul Ebert had the last word. He characterized Muhammad as the kind of man who will pat you on the back and cut your throat.

The jury begins deliberations tomorrow morning -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jeanne, what's the latest on the case against Lee Boyd Malvo?

MESERVE: Well, defense attorney Craig Cooley characterized Malvo as a child who was turned into a child soldier by the older John Muhammad, who led him to believe that the extortion money would be used to set up a utopian society in Canada. His analogy was that Malvo was a river that had been polluted by the larger river Mohammed.

The prosecution wove together the crimes and the evidence and Malvo's alleged confessions and totally rejected the defense argument that Mr. Malvo was so under the influence of Muhammad that he lost his ability to distinguish between right and wrong -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jeanne Meserve, thanks for the update. Appreciate it.

Two years ago, Manhattan millionaire Ted Ammon was murdered. You might have heard about the case. But we're about to give you a side you may not have heard, from the person many believe to be a leading suspect in the murder, Danny Pelosi.

Though officially he has not named as a suspect, Pelosi is at the heart of a bizarre love triangle and the investigation, set against the backdrop of the wealthy New York beach resort of East Hampton.


DANNY PELOSI: Come on, it's a perfect movie. Look -- from the outside, look in. At first, yes.

ZAHN: You have to admit it looks pretty bad.

PELOSI: It looks bad. The regular guy out of Long Island hooks up with a rich woman who's getting a divorce, and the guy dies. I ain't the only guy out there that's ever hooked up with a rich woman. There's 10,000 guys in the world that have hooked up with rich women where their husbands don't die.

ZAHN (voice-over): But the husband, Ted Ammon, was killed, and the relationship this man, Danny Pelosi, Ammon's with his estranged wife, Generosa, is at the heart of the case.

PELOSI: I didn't like her when I first met her, honestly.

ZAHN (on camera): Why?

PELOSI: Because she was arrogant. She made me go stand in the rain.

ZAHN: What changed?

PELOSI: She got to know me. She saw that I was real. She saw that I was different.

ZAHN (voice-over): Some say Generosa was looking for someone different. But many thought no one could be more perfect for her than Ted Ammon.

JURATE KAZICKAS, AMMON FAMILY FRIEND: He was such a charming, funny warm, outgoing, just a delightful person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was sparkly. She was bubbly. You know, one of those special personalities that you can't put your finger on it, but you just like to be with them, because you know you're going to enjoy yourself.

ZAHN: The Ammons moved in the most expensive of social circles. Their country home in East Hampton; their townhouse on Manhattan's Upper Eastside; the lush Virgin Islands, where Generosa once hosted an exclusive party for Ted. Yet despite appearances, the Ammons were having problems.

DAVID MORE, CHAIRMAN, 24/7 REAL MEDIA: There were a lot of problems at home. I mean, everyone knew that, and Ted would talk to me about how worried he was about the children.

ZAHN: In the summer of 2000, Generosa filed for divorce. For over a year she battled over custody of their adopted twins and money. By October of 2001, the divorce was about to be resolved. Generosa would get about half of Ammon's investment banking fortune.

But before that could happen, Ted Ammon was murdered in his bedroom, bludgeoned to death. To police, robbery didn't seem like a motive.

LT. JOHN GIERASON, SUFFOLK CO., POLICE: There are no signs of forced entry. The house is generally neat. It's not ransacked.

ZAHN (on camera): What was your reaction when you heard the news?

PELOSI: The first reaction is just like now -- Look, I've got goosebumps. It's like yesterday. ZAHN: Did Generosa want her ex-husband dead?

PELOSI: It was an ugly divorce. You know, people say things in divorce. Any person will say it, you know?

ZAHN: She said -- what? -- that she wanted him dead?

PELOSI: Yes. There's a lot of divorced people out there. You'll hear 1,000 guys say I want to kill my ex-wife. People say that, but it doesn't happen.

ZAHN: But Generosa made that threat?

PELOSI: There was no seriousness of it. I'd be lying if I said Generosa said she wanted Ted did. I'd be a liar. It was an ugly divorce. Ugly.

ZAHN (voice-over): Rumors began to circulate that Danny, an electrician, had installed the estate surveillance system. The system was reportedly turned off when Ammon was killed. And remember, there was no sign of forced entry into the East Hampton house.

Then there was the matter of Pelosi's criminal record, arrested by released seven times and imprisoned twice on drunk driving charges.

PELOSI: When I was a kid, I was wild. I got a little dirty record. But I never murdered anybody. I never hurt anybody/

ZAHN: The harsh spotlight of New York's famous tabloid newspapers immediately focused on the couple.

The reason? Despite the contentious divorce litigation, Ammon never changed his will. Generosa stood to inherit the majority of his estimated $80 million fortune. Ammon's death also cleared the way for Generosa to immediately marry Pelosi just three months after her husband's murder.

(on camera): Then you get married.

PELOSI: Correct.

ZAHN: So do these facts add up, you think, in the public's mind? This doesn't look too good for this guy.

PELOSI: Was it a mistake? Was it bizarre? Yes. Should I have waited a little longer? Yes. Did she want to get married? She did. What was I going to tell her? No?

ZAHN: There is this huge cloud of suspicion hanging over you. What is it like to live with?

PELOSI: It's horrible. It's a nightmare. I wouldn't wish my life on anybody right now. When I found out they put a grand jury together using me as the focus of an investigation for the responsibility of what happened to that man, I had a breakdown.

ZAHN: Do you think it's inevitable, you will end up being indicted for the murder?

PELOSI: I pray to God that I'm not. I prayed to God that I'm not, you know, because I don't belong there. I didn't do anything.

ZAHN: How likely is that possibility?

PELOSI: It's hard, because you've got a jury that's hearing an indictment, and witnesses and evidence from one side, you know? From one side. They don't get to hear me. They don't get to hear the truth. They get to hear a theory. They don't know the truth.


ZAHN: So what is the truth? Some believe that with the cancer death of Generosa Ammon, the secret to what happened to Ted Ammon lies with Danny Pelosi.

Tomorrow night, we'll have more of my interview with him. He will respond to rumors he was involved in Ted Ammon, including whether he turned off the surveillance system the night of his murder. And he'll talk about new evidence he says will clear him of the crime.

With all that is going on in the Middle East, the U.S. needs Arabic translators. In fact, America faces a critical shortage in this essential area of expertise. Then why were these translators in training dismissed?

And thousands of Americans have fought valiantly in Iraq. Some have done some remarkable things. Tonight, we're going to meet one of America's unsung heroes.


ZAHN: Since the 1990s, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been the U.S. policy on gays in the military. It allows gays to serve as long as they do not reveal their sexual orientation.

For translators in training Rob Hicks and Alistair Gamble, it's a policy that ended their brief Army careers. They say they were forced out after they were found together in the same room one night.

Patty Davis outs their story in plain English.


PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Things haven't been easy for Rob Hicks and Alastair Gamble since getting drummed out of the army a year ago for being gay. Money is tight, and there are no veterans' benefits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been a rough year. We still don't have furniture in 90 percent of our apartment.

DAVIS: The relationship was discovered during a surprise inspection. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They opened up a personal photo album and inside were a number of pictures of us in you know -- I would say certainly not sexual but affection poses.

DAVIS: Their careers as army translators in Arabic and Korean were over, dismissed under the don't ask don't tell policy despite a shortage of translators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually had orders already cut for me to go to Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We accepted that fate, and here we are, but it doesn't mean that we can't criticize the policy, because the army is still short two linguists. Gay or not, they're short two linguists.

DAVIS: They're now pursuing careers that don't pursue their language stills. Gamble applying to law school, his partner in computers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We both really enjoyed the military and really miss it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get a little bitter every once in a while, just because the choice wasn't mine.

DAVIS: Knowing what it's like to start over, they're working with other discharged gay soldiers to help them do the same. Patty Davis, CNN, Washington.


ZAHN: I'm joined now by the two men at the center of the controversy Alastair Gamble and Rob Hicks. We're also joined by Gene Fidell, an attorney specializing in military law. Good to see you as well. Rob, are you bitter about what happened to you?

ROB HICKS, DISCHARGED SOLDIER: Sometimes it gets to me. Every once in a while -- every once in a while, I can really tell that it's getting to me.

ZAHN: And Alastair, did you think once those pictures were discovered and you knew you might get into this trouble, that you would still be given a second chance because of the severe shortage of Arabic translators?

ALASTAIR GAMBLE, DISCHARGED SOLDIER: I did. I thought that because of the perhaps somewhat arrogantly, I thought that because of my importance to the mission in the Middle East and the war against terror, that I would not be discharged, that they would look the other way and sort of say, well, you got close to getting caught this time, don't do it again, but we need you so much we're going to overlook it.

ZAHN: Eugene, here as what the United States Army has to say about the policy quote, "Congress has stated that homosexual conduct poses risks to unit cohesion and readiness. The U.S. Army remains committed to treating all soldiers with dignity and respect while fairly enforcing the policy..." Did the military here do the right thing? And is our security compromised by this kind of move?

EUGENE FIDELL, MILITARY LAW ATTORNEY: Well, the military has to comply with the legislation that Congress passes. If there's a problem here, the problem is in the legislation that was passed early in the administration of President Clinton. That policy could be changed by Congress. It could also be set aside conceivably by the Supreme Court but, you know, that's something that only time will tell.

Whether the military has applied it properly in any particular case really depends on the particular facts of the case. There certainly have been situations where I've seen, what I thought were misapplications of the policy, but let's talk about brass tacks. The problem really is that Congress has laid down the law here and the military is under an obligation in a system of civilian-controlled military to do what Congress says.

ZAHN: So, Rob, when you hear that interpretation, which I know you fully understand, can you blame the military for what they did to the two of you?

HICKS: Well, no, neither Alastair nor I blame the military. We fully blame the policy. We agree completely with that. The military is a great place and a great institution, and they are enforcing a policy because it's their job.

ZAHN: How tough is it to find Arabic translators in the system today?

GAMBLE: I think it's very difficult, particularly because it's such a difficult language to learn, it takes a person who's either well-educated or very mature or very focused. And It's just hard to recruit those people, because they'll want to go up in industry, they're going to want to up in academia, and to make those kind of people into a tactical ready linguist, it is very difficult.

ZAHN: Well Alastair Gamble, Rob Hicks, thanks for sharing your story with us. And Eugene Fidell, thanks for sharing your expertise with us.

And we'll look at hour America's perception of war heroes has changed. And meet a veterans of the Iraq War whose remarkable story of heroism is just now being told.

And an entertainer running for office in Minnesota? Not who you're thinking of. It's political funny man Al Franken eye a run for the U.S. Senate?


ZAHN: Now to a story we promised you last night. Private Jessica Lynch is a household name, but there are untold number of other stories out there of unsung heroes of the war in Iraq. Military experts say army captain Harry Zahn Hornbuckle is one. Hornbuckle led a team that played a key role in the fall of Iraq and the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, but he came home to no fanfare. His mother even had to ask the Holiday Inn to put his name on the marquee. Captain Hornbuckle joins us now from Fort Stewart, Georgia. Welcome home and welcome to our show.


ZAHN: So, captain, what were you up against when you were leading a team of some 80 American soldiers and you found yourself up against some 300 pretty well-trained Iraqis?

HORNBUCKLE: I'm sorry. Could you say that again, please?

ZAHN: Just describe to us what you were up against in this heroic battle?

HORNBUCKLE: Yes. Sorry. It was a team put together the night before. We attacked up Highway 8 in support of the task force and brigade missions to attack in the center of Baghdad. We had 80 personnel, a couple combat vehicles. And we ended up running into estimates of about 150 to 200 enemy fighters with a mix of five to ten suicide trucks or trucks with machine guns on the back of them, combination.

ZAHN: When you saw what you were up against, did you think you and your team would survive?

HORNBUCKLE: There were moments of doubt, moments of hesitation and deep thought, of course, but they never really coordinated their attacks at one time. We knew we had a serious mission to accomplish that day, especially when we got into the fight.

But, you know, just everyone got really focused. There was the initial shock of the sheer violence that was being thrown at us and we were throwing against them, and then everyone's training took over. All the soldiers there, their training took over and they went about accomplishing the mission.

ZAHN: I want to read to you tonight what one military historian has said about you. "Zan Hornbuckle is the model of the natural leader. If I had to choose one soldier in the entire war who deserved to be singled out, it would be Zan Hornbuckle." A lot of soldiers are alive because of you today.

Did you have any idea how your leadership would come to play?

HORNBUCKLE: At the time, you know, not really. Of course, you know, I was given the mission by Colonel Twitty (ph), and given the soldiers to accomplish the mission with, but really had no idea that day that my small role in that and working with all the soldiers that did their jobs that day, you know, I guess play such a pivotal war as they're saying now.

ZAHN: You were awarded a bronze star for your heroism. Did you bring that along with you tonight? HORNBUCKLE: No, actually I didn't. I'm sorry.

ZAHN: Well, what did it mean to receive it?

HORNBUCKLE: I received it for the acts of heroism on that day on objective curly, some of the soldiers and officers there recommended me for that award and it was approved by the chain of command, and I received the award later on in Fallujah, Iraq.

ZAHN: I know it must give you tremendous pride, and I know so many are surprised there was so little fanfare was awaiting your arrival home. But we salute you for your service to the nation. Captain Hornbuckle, again congratulation on that bronze star.

HORNBUCKLE: Thank you.

ZAHN: And stepping out of the spot light and into an elected office, will Al Franken be the next star in Washington?

Why, there he is. Good evening. We'll find out in a moment.



ZAHN: Comedian Al Franken has made a career out of satire, and many of his subjects are politicians, but now we hear he may run for the Senate and he's not joking. Franken's latest book is called, "Lies and the Lying Liars who tell them and he joins us now. How are you tonight?


ZAHN: Senator Franken, come on.

FRANKEN: Well, come on. Like when Schwarzenegger ran, you know, you hear Republicans go, like, Martin Sheen, how dare he express his opinions about politics he as an actor. Susan Sarandon, she's an actress. Oh, Schwarzenegger is running, whoopee, the terminator. So you know...

ZAHN: So he has the terminator. What are your real qualifications?

FRANKEN: Well, I think a lot of people have asked me to run for office. I'm fairly articulate.

ZAHN: Like who?

FRANKEN: All the time. I get asked all the time.

ZAHN: People on the street?

FRANKEN: Yes, people come up to me -- I was at a -- an event, a Wellstone Action Event, part of the legacy for Paul Wellstone is Wellstone Action, which is training activist. And a lot of people there in Minnesota and it was a book that has pictures of Paul campaigning. He was a very tactile politician. He hugged people, literally touched people, not like Schwarzenegger who, you know, after Paul touched you, you didn't feel violated and humiliated. And people there were saying this. You know, they say, look, Al, you're articulate, you know a lot about politics, you've been married once to a woman for 28 years. You're very, very, very, good-looking. So I mean, so it makes a lot of sense. Now, this is -- the Senate race we're talking about is not for five years. So I would have...

ZAHN: So you've got some time to mull this over.

FRANKEN: I have about three years. Also, I should probably consult my wife.

ZAHN: That might be a good idea. Why don't we share with our audience what Senator Norm Coleman had to say about this to potential run way down the road. He said, I have no comment, I don't do comedy. Now, he later came out and said that in a lighthearted way.

FRANKEN: He was going negative right away.

ZAHN: He is. He is nervous about you.

FRANKEN: I can't stand the heat. I'm dropping out. That was too rough.

ZAHN: That was too rough.

FRANKEN: Well, he's absolutely accurate. He does not do comedy.

ZAHN: I think we have a pretty good idea of what your slogan might be?

Let's go back to the days when you did "Saturday Night Live" and did Stewart Smalley? Take a look.

FRANKEN: Oh, I see.


FRANKEN: Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me.


FRANKEN: Boy, that was from the successful movie "Stewart Saves His Family."

ZAHN: So that wasn't from "Saturday Night Live"?

FRANKEN: The character was from "Saturday Night Live."

ZAHN: So we were a little confused on the chronology.

(CROSSTALK) FRANKEN: I was thinking of a slogan, if it -- if I became the Democratic nominee, of course, against Norm, it would be the only New York jew who was actually raised in Minnesota. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I go back there all the time because my mom is there.

ZAHN: So, what will be your platform?

FRANKEN: Well, I'll tell you what really has motivated me here is, that doing my book tour, I've had huge crowds showing up everywhere. It's not about just about a book when you have 1,500 people show up in St. Louis, or 1,200 in a Barnes and Noble in Austin. It's about -- it's about-- it's about me -- no. It's about a bigger thing. And the thing is that people are angry, and they're angry for a number of reasons, and they're angry at this administration. And Norm Coleman, I think, is doing, I think, the bidding of this president. And what they're mad at, I really believe, is that after 9/11, this president had a unique opportunity, had a country united in a way I've never seen before in my life, and instead of using that to bring us into a new American century in a spirit of sacrifice and mutual purpose, he completely blew it. And I think this is what people are angry at. So, my next year is more aimed towards that.

ZAHN: Yes, and then two years after that, since you have three years to mull it over. Al Franken, thanks for stopping by.

FRANKEN: Thank you.

ZAHN: You are getting ready to go on a U.S. tour. We'll catch up with you after that.

FRANKEN: That would be great.

ZAHN: We want to thank you all for being with us tonight. Thanks so much for joining us. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Good night.


Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin>

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