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Airport Security Breach; Court Orders NFL to Open Draft to Younger Players

Aired February 6, 2004 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Paula Zahn.
The world, the news, the names, the faces, and where we go from here on this Friday, February 6, 2004.


ZAHN (voice-over): "In Focus" tonight, how a convicted felon with no I.D. and no plane ticket reportedly managed to board a 767 at an airport on a heightened terror alert.

Also, the cost of war.

JONATHAN TRACY, U.S. MILITARY JUDGE: Collateral damage is a fact of warfare.

ZAHN: What does the U.S. government owe the families of innocent Iraqis killed by the American military?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles.

ZAHN: And celebrating the Fab Four 40 years after they took America by storm.


ZAHN: All that and more.

But, first, here are some of the headlines you need to know right now.

A memorial is being held tonight for FCC Carlie Brucia. The body of the 11-year-old Florida girl was found early today in Sarasota, Florida, six days after her abduction was recorded on surveillance tape. Suspect Joseph Smith is now charged with murder and kidnapping.

Russian officials say they suspect Chechen terrorists are responsible for the bombing in the Moscow subway that killed at least 39 people. Russia's Interfax news service says there may be surveillance video of the two suspicious people getting on the train.

"In Focus" tonight, the deadly serious matter of the security at the nation's airports. In January, the U.S. was in the grip of heightened state of alert. Flights were canceled, fighter jets scrambled. Yet one convicted felon managed to get past airport security, boarded a plane without anyone asking for a ticket or even an I.D.

Jeanne Meserve has more.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Los Angeles International Airport, still on threat level orange, spending 122,000 additional dollars a day for security.

But on January 15, Kareem Thomas, on probation for burglary, wanted to go home to Georgia and made it onto a Delta jet without a ticket, a boarding pass, or a valid I.D., authorities say. Security video shows Thomas slipping past this identification checkpoint manned by a private company working for Delta. Up the escalator, federal TSA screeners presumed his paperwork was in order. He wasn't carrying any prohibited items and got through.

Then, at this gate 52-A, Thomas walked by two Delta employees checking boarding passes right onto the jet. An alert passenger tipped off flight attendants that Thomas was hiding in the bathroom. He was arrested, the bathroom inspected, and the flight departed.

Delta says: "We have investigated, and we are looking at possible adjustments to security procedures." But TSA says it doesn't appear to be a breach in security, because he was screened and checking I.D.s is an airline responsibility. Some experts don't buy it.

ANDREW THOMAS, AVIATION SECURITY ANALYST: Those individuals who are working for the private security companies, the TSA screeners, the Delta screeners, the Delta employees at the gate, they're all under the authority of TSA. And for TSA to say that it's their problem and not ours means that TSA is shirking its responsibilities.

MESERVE (on camera): Millions have been spent to upgrade airport security, but experts point out, the system relies on people, and people don't always do their jobs.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


ZAHN: Moving on to politics now.

Down in the polls, under constant attack by the Democrats, President Bush is taking a very unusual step this weekend. He will appear for a full hour on a Sunday morning political talk show, a rare move for any president.

Joining me now from Washington, former White House adviser David Gergen, now a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of government. Here in New York with me, political analyst Carlos Watson.

Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you both for joining us.

So, David, is this a risky move on the White House's part?

DAVID GERGEN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: No, I don't think so, Paula.

It's a smart move. A month and a half ago, George Bush looked like he was cruising towards reelection. The question was not whether he was going to win, but by how much. He was up in the polls. He looked like he was going to draw Howard Dean as an opponent. Now, suddenly, everything is in reverse. He's down in the polls.

The criminal he's been taking -- the Democrats have had a lot of free shots at him. It suddenly looks like now John Kerry, a very different kind of candidate, a tougher candidate in the general election, will be his opponent. And so the White House, I think -- this is the official -- or the unofficial launch of the White House campaign, the Bush campaign for 2004. And he's chosen, of course, a very-high profile interview with Tim Russert in which to launch that, because Tim carries so much respect in the press.

There will be many who will be looking at this as a serious and good test of the president. And if he does well, he'll get a lot of credit for it.

ZAHN: Carlos, so what is the message the White House doesn't think has been seeping through to the public that we've seen in a number of speeches, basically, as the president has followed the Democrats' itinerary around the country?

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Two significant messages, Paula, interestingly enough, one for his base, and one for the general election.

David is right that they're positioning themselves for a general election. Poll numbers are at the lowest he's seen in his whole term, at 49 percent. He knows that, over the last 60-plus years, those incumbent presidents whose numbers in March and April fall below 51 percent have lost all but one time. And so they're worried about that.

And they want to redefine the issues around military intelligence, around the economy, etcetera. But, for his base, there's real outrage in the Republican base on two issues, immigration and deficit spending. He's hearing a lot on that. And I bet you in the interview with Tim Russert, you'll hear him not only address general election issues, but you'll hear him talk about those two.

ZAHN: But what is he going to say that's going to mollify them?

WATSON: Well, he's going to say two things.

One, on immigration, he's going to say that eight to 12 million people are already here, that this is not just an issue about immigration. It's about homeland security, and that he's doing his best to rectify a difficult situation. Similarly, on the deficit, he's going to say, look, the economy is growing. We picked up 112,000 jobs in December.

No, it's not the 150,000 jobs that we wanted or even the 300,000 jobs that you'd like to see generally when the economy is healthy, but we're moving in the right direction. He will argue, right or wrong, that that's why the tax cuts should be made permanent. Stay with me. Continue on this path, so that we continue to grow. Don't go back to the Democratic policies.

ZAHN: But, David, let's talk about another issue that the Republicans feel they have great vulnerability now, in the wake of David Kay's report, the whole issue of not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You have the president naming his presidential commission of seven folks who are supposed to investigate just that.

Do you have confidence that this will be -- or we'll hear the voices of impartial people, people selected by the president?

GERGEN: Well, I think there will be those who will argue, with some credibility, that it would have been a more credible commission had members of Congress been able to select some members of it.

I think it would have helped a great deal if there had been an earlier reporting requirement, at least an interim report issued before the election on what this group learns about Iraq, so that the American public really has full information before they make decisions about what the war was all about, before they go to the polls.

Having said that, the White House does deserve credit for making this very bipartisan. Pat Wald, for example, is a member of this, Lloyd Cutler. These are not people who will be poodles for the White House. They're, in fact, going to be people who will bring a great deal of independence and a lot of knowledge from the past to it.

And the president of Yale University, he is not a Republican, or at least certainly not a partisan Republican. And I think he's neutral in this coloration. And Chuck Robb, the Democratic co- chairman, he's respected for his term on the Senate Intelligence Committee. They've got Larry Silberman, the judge, on the more conservative side.

I think that, from the president's point of view, strictly the president's point of view, this commission is going to meet the requirements, or the standards, that he set forward.

ZAHN: And the television Gods are not with us this evening. David Gergen, I'm told, is fine. We just lost his shot.

Carlos, a quick thought on the timing that David referenced. We're not going to know the results of this until after the inauguration.


WATSON: Criticism on the time.

But the White House would argue, rather do it right and be judicious about it. But, clearly, Democrats will say, it's taking too long. He should do it earlier, before the fall elections.

ZAHN: Do you think it's something we said or did to David Gergen?


WATSON: Well, he's at a good place up there in Cambridge. So let's hope he's OK.

ZAHN: Carlos, thanks.

And, David Gergen, thanks for your time as well.

Should kids just out of high school be allowed to play in the NFL? We're going to look at the debate over a federal court ruling that could drastically change pro football.

And a painful question in Iraq: How should the U.S. compensate Iraqi families when American troops accidentally kill civilians?


HATEM ALI, FATHER (through translator): They apologized and said they would be back. It's now been five months and they have not been back.


ZAHN: I'll also be talking to man known as the "Ethicist." He solves newspaper readers' moral dilemmas, like, should I fudge my resume?


ZAHN: It looks like a federal judge may have paved the way for teenagers to play in the NFL. The judge struck down the National Football League's rule that prohibits players from entering the draft until three years after graduating high school.

The league is appealing the decision, saying it could put teenagers in danger of getting seriously injured.

Joining us now, attorney and sports analyst Rob Becker, and from West Palm Beach, sports radio host Evan Cohen.

Good to see both of you.


ZAHN: So, Evan, let me ask you this. The NBA does it. The NHL does it. Major League Baseball does it. Why shouldn't football do it?


EVAN COHEN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It's the physical nature with football. Think about the physical nature of the NFL, compared to those other sports. This is a very dangerous sport. And most athletes progress physically between the ages of 18 to 23, which is why they should be in college at that point.

ROB BECKER, SPORTS ANALYST: Yes, well, do you really think that an NFL team is going to spend its own money on a guy who isn't good enough and risk having that guy get injured? They're just going to take the guys who are big enough to go into the league, not the guys who aren't. And maybe they'll pick a few other guys that they think they can put on the bench for a couple years until they're better.

This risk is totally overblown. There are guys in the NFL now who are smaller and weaker than a lot of players coming out of college, even high school. There's also people in the NFL who are younger than some of these guys who are being barred.


ZAHN: Basically, I think what Rob is saying is, the rules of natural selection win here. You don't buy that?

COHEN: No, because there's two sides of this. Think about the collegiate side of this. These are athletes leaving college. They now come in with demands to these college coaches. There's an issue of red-shirts, in which college players can come in, go to school for a year and not have to play right away.

Think about the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Tom Brady was a red-shirt at the University of Michigan, then played for four years, and now has won two Super Bowls. The graduation rate on the New England patriots, 54 percent of their players have graduated from college, which is higher than any other team in the NFL.


BECKER: How does that prove your point, though? Fifty-four percent is really the figure for all of college, pretty much. Don't you think that Tom Brady would have preferred to come out a little earlier and make a little more money?

COHEN: But he couldn't. He wasn't physically ready. He couldn't even start all the games.

BECKER: How do you know that? He didn't even have a chance to apply.

COHEN: He couldn't start all the games at his school, though. He was a backup at times to Drew Henson. They rotated time.

BECKER: There is one point that you're making, is that Tom Brady is a guy who did surprisingly better than most people expected.

But most top-ranked quarterbacks are guys who are known to be good early on. So it wouldn't really make much difference for them to stay in school.

ZAHN: But, Rob, look at the career length of the average player. What is it, four or five years?

BECKER: Four or five years.

ZAHN: So why rush it? What difference does it make if they make the dough now vs. three years down the road?


BECKER: No, but if they come out earlier, then they might have an extra year that they otherwise wouldn't have. That's the whole reason why a guy like Clarett or anybody else, like Fitzgerald, would want to come in early, because they'll get an earlier year when they haven't really fizzled out yet.

COHEN: Paula, think about one thing, though. There are guaranteed contracts in the NBA. If you're a first-round pick in the NBA, you're at guaranteed money for X amount of years. There's no such thing as a guaranteed contract in the NFL.


COHEN: That if these high school kids are freshman out of college, come out in the NFL, and after a year, they're injured or they're just not good, they're not going to make any money and they can't go back to school. The school is not going to pay for it.


ZAHN: Rob, do you have any concern about the signal this decision sends?


ZAHN: ... a talented football player who probably should think about having an education, too?

BECKER: Well, look, a lot of these guys don't get educations. But if they prefer an education, they can still get one.

And, remember, Paula, part of the effect here -- right now, the rule had been that, after three years, you could go to the NFL. Now, here's a guy, when he's three years done, he says to himself, if I stay in school, I don't get paid. If I go to the NFL, I will get paid. So why not go to NFL and get paid?


BECKER: Excuse me?

COHEN: That's three years after graduation of high school.


BECKER: I understand that. But what I'm saying is, that guy now has an impetus to go into the NFL and make money.

Well, how about this? If he was able to be paid in college, like he should be, he'd be able to stay in college. And that's the best way to deal with that issue, is to pay the college players what they would get on a free market if they sold their services to college. And then we would really recognize the minor leagues that exist in this country.


ZAHN: Gentlemen, we've got to leave it there. You've given us an excellent idea of why people are so fiercely opposed in some cases and in favor of this idea. Rob Becker, Evan Cohen, thank you.

BECKER: Thank you.

COHEN: Thank you.

ZAHN: A provocative documentary blames President Johnson for the murder of JFK. I'm be talking With a former close adviser to LBJ, who's fighting back against the conspiracy theory and one of LBJ's daughters.

And we're going to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the start of a cultural revolution, the arrival of the Beatles right here in the U.S.


QUESTION: What do you think of the comment that you're nothing but a bunch of British Elvis Presleys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not true. It's not true.




ZAHN: The family of a young soldier killed in Iraq is fighting to fulfill the dream he could not achieve in life. He wanted to be an American citizen. And it may happen after all.

Maria Hinojosa reports.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another warrior's funeral moves slowly down another American street. This time, he's only 19, an infantryman, the 529th American soldier to die in Iraq. But this lost soldier was different.

MANUEL MORENO, SOLDIER'S BROTHER: To me, he was a hero. And that was part of his dream, to become a U.S. citizen, maybe because he wanted to feel like he's a real American.

HINOJOSA: Luis Moreno was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the Bronx when he was 7. He loved his new country and became a legal resident. He enlisted right out of high school. MORENO: It's a lot of benefits, you know. It's a good career. You can learn a lot.

HINOJOSA: He wanted to be an American someday. He wanted the real skills the Army offers, so he could be a successful one. He got just over a year's training before shipping off to Iraq for a war his family opposed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He didn't have any experience. He was like cannon fodder. That's not right.

HINOJOSA: Yet, they say, they will still honor his dream of becoming an American. They've applied for posthumous citizenship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The memory of this 19-year-old man will serve to remind us that not all who die in this war were born here.

HINOJOSA: And the politicians are lining up to help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just a way for this country to say that we appreciate the sacrifices that people make, so the rest of us can enjoy democracy and the great American dream.

HINOJOSA: But even citizenship can't bring closure to the Moreno family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It would be good to have it, but then again, what can we do with his citizenship if he's already dead? Why didn't they give it to him when he was alive?

HINOJOSA: Even though being an American was what Private 1st Class Luis Moreno wanted most.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: An American hero.

On the other side, we're going to take you to Iraq, where U.S. officials are now facing some very tough questions about how to compensate the families of Iraqi civilians killed by U.S. forces.


ZAHN: Welcome back.

Here are some of the headlines you need to know right now.

The Pentagon will review sexual harassment claims made by more than 80 female servicewomen serving in Iraq and Kuwait last year. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's order would take a look at some cases in which no disciplinary action was taken.

And no third trial for a former white police officer videotaped while rough up a black teenager in Inglewood, California. Prosecutors decided not to pursue a third trial, after the two juries deadlocked. The former officer still faces a civil lawsuit.

Families of civilians killed by coalition forces in Iraq say the U.S. is refusing to compensate them for their losses. The controversy surrounds a federal law that some believe shields the U.S. from responsibility.

CNN international correspondent Sheila MacVicar reports.


SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): These are boxes of misery, file after file of the Iraqi Human Rights Association documenting cases of death and injury after President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq.

The lawyers here record the pain of Iraqi civilians who say they have been hurt by U.S. forces. People come to report the death of a husband or a child at the hands of coalition forces and to get help asking the U.S. for financial compensation. The lawyers have not had much success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Americans always say the incident took place during a military operation. That's how they avoid paying compensation, says the director.

MACVICAR: Of the 183 claims for civilian deaths filed by the Iraqi Human Rights Association, 171 have been rejected by the U.S. military. The files have been returned to the association. And in very few of those files are there notes or letters of explanation from military lawyers; 12 more cases are still under consideration, but the Iraqi Human Rights lawyers say they believe those cases will be rejected, too.

(voice-over): There is a process.

TRACY: How much is he looking for?

MACVICAR: Twice a week, Captain Jonathan Tracy, a military lawyer, meets with those seeking money for damages, including deaths, caused by U.S. troops.

TRACY: He doesn't want to accept it, then he can appeal it up.

MACVICAR: The U.S. law that applies here is the Foreign Claims Act, which says, if a death can be termed combat-related, the U.S. has no obligation, no matter who died.

TRACY: It's a matter of policy, the way the statute is written. We don't want to give soldiers the impression that, if you shoot, you know, that you're going to be held responsible or the United States government's going to held liable for that situation.

MARLA RUZICKA, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE: There's also cases that we've been asked to check into.

MACVICAR: Marla Ruzicka, an American, runs a small organization trying to get U.S. financial compensation for civilian victims and their families.

RUZICKA: When you go to a family and you let them know, yes, we're sorry, we do care, it helps them with the healing process. And they may not love the U.S. military after what's happened, but at least they have a chance to have a little bit of peace with the incident.

MACVICAR: There is no peace for the family of Rasul (ph), a 7- year-old girl shot in the head, witnesses say by an American bullet. On that August evening, she sat in the garden with her family. At a house about 150 meters away, the neighbors were celebrating an engagement in the traditional way, by firing a gun in the air. A U.S. military patrol on the highway about 200 meters away opened fire.

HATEM ALI (through translator): The fire was so intense, we couldn't get to the house. Rasul was lying with her face to the ground.

AMINA HATEM, MOTHER (through translator): I held her, calling her name. I pulled her closer to me and touched her head. It was wet.

MACVICAR: The family says, shortly after, American soldiers involved in the shooting came to the house and saw Rasul. One of the soldiers cried, they said.

HATEM ALI (through translator): They apologized and said they would be back. It's now been five months, and they have not been back.

MACVICAR: No one from the U.S. military has come back either to ask more questions or examine the bullet holes in the walls.

In Rasul's file, there is a letter from the judge advocate of the 82nd Airborne Division. The letter says, there is -- quote -- "no proof coalition forces are directly responsible for the death" and that the shooting -- quote -- "falls within the rules of engagement." How that decision was reached is not explained. And her family has received nothing for her life.

Captain Tracy has had similar cases.

TRACY: If they hear AK-47 fire, I know, for me, walking around the streets of Baghdad, I'm going to assume that somebody's taking a shot at me. Unfortunately, you know, bad things happen and collateral damage is a fact of warfare.

MACVICAR: Human rights organizations say, bad things have happened, but they say U.S. soldiers operate with impunity. The U.S. says it will pay compensation when negligence is proven, but the results of investigations are not public.

RUZICKA: Nobody's keeping a proper accounting or an open and transparent investigation. And people need to see that their lives matter. And that's one way that we're going to help get Iraq back on track. MACVICAR: Of all the cases CNN examined, we found only a few where survivors received anything after the deaths of family members, and then not official compensation but "sympathy payments."

(on camera): Those are the bullet holes?

TRACY: That's limited to $2,500, but...

MACVICAR: That's all, $2,500, for the loss of a death of a civilian?

TRACY: Right.

MACVICAR (voice-over): That's what happened in Anwar Jawad's (ph) case. She and her 14-year-old daughter survived after they were fired on in the dark with no warning by what she says was an unmarked American checkpoint. There are 28 bullet holes in their car. Her husband and three children were killed. Anwar was pregnant. Baby Hassan (ph) was born a few weeks later. The U.S. military declared the deaths combat-related. After a lot of media attention, Marla Ruziga helped Anwar Jawad get $11,000 from the U.S. military, a sympathy payment.

RUZIGA: So to me, her case doesn't indicate a clear procedure because it got a lot of attention, and people said, How can you shoot at a pregnant woman?

MACVICAR: The U.S. military says it must apply the law. They say they tell people who manage to meet with military lawyers that they are sorry. But many Iraqi families -- and no one knows how many -- never hear even that expression of sympathy. Families are left broken, and because they say there is no adequate recognition of their tragedy, there is fertile ground for new resentment of the American presence here.

Sheila MacVicar, CNN, Baghdad.


ZAHN: CNN did ask representatives of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Pentagon to appear on the network to talk about civilian casualties in Iraq. They declined. One defense official did tell us in print, quote, "We cannot say with any certainty how many civilians have been killed. It is difficult to distinguish between combatant and non-combatant dead. Even one innocent person injured or killed is something we sincerely regret. However, we spend more time, effort and money than any nation on earth to avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage."

One other note. A number of people who worked on this report, among them two CNN staffers, were killed in Iraq. Producer Duraid Isa Muhammed and driver Yasser Khattab Minati were shot a week ago in an ambush. And CNN cameraman Scott McWhinney was wounded in that same attack.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: We return now to the issue of how the U.S. should compensate Iraqi families for accidental deaths at the hands of U.S. troops. Joining us from Washington, D.C., is Jed Babbin, former deputy undersecretary of defense. And from Boston, we're joined by Sarah Sewall of Harvard University's Carr Center on Human Rights Policy. She is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. Welcome, both of you.

Sarah, you probably just heard that last report. You certainly understand the vulnerability of U.S. soldiers today, particularly when they believe, in many cases, they're fighting a guerrilla war, where the enemy blends in so easily to a civilian population. You certainly understand why these deaths have happened, don't you?

SARAH SEWALL, FORMER DEPUTY ASST. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think it's almost inevitable that you'll have, in a situation such as Iraq, which is a continuing low-level counterinsurgency, civilian harm. It will occur.

ZAHN: So what do you think the U.S. should be doing to compensate these families?

SEWALL: Well, one of the real observations that you have after listening to the piece you just ran is that there's an underlying ambivalence on the part of the United States government about how to address the issue of civilian harm. And I think what we've seen in Iraq to date since May 1 is an ad hoc, unpredictable, and really rather arbitrary approach to this issue. And I don't think it serves us well. I think, frankly, it complicates our political and military strategy in Iraq and, ultimately, our ability to be successful and return forces home.

ZAHN: Jed, what about that idea, that part of the challenge we have now is winning the hearts and minds of Iraqi citizens, and this compensation would go a long way to perhaps winning support of those people down the road?

JED BABBIN, FORMER DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Paula, I think we're mixing a lot of concepts here. For one, I think the basic objective here is to defeat the insurgency, and that requires, probably, action against several of the neighboring countries, which are supporting it in various ways, with people, money, and guns.

The issue of pacifying and really making good will in Iraq is something that will naturally come from that. It comes from the establishment of democracy. There's not a question here. There's no ambivalence towards Iraqis who are killed accidentally by our troops. This is not a military issue, though. What we're seeing here -- and the set-up piece really just talked about a law that the military is implementing. It's nothing more and nothing less than that.

Mr. Bremer, on the other hand, in the CPA, really probably should be doing a much better job of reaching out to these families and providing them with compensation. We can do this in a lot of different ways. These people are not going to be left without compensation, without even an apology from the American government. The military is doing its job. They're implementing the law. I don't think you can find a lot of fault there.

ZAHN: What about that, Sarah?

SEWALL: Well, I think the reality is that, for an Iraqi, it doesn't matter to them very much whether their child or their spouse was run over accidentally, in which case they can get compensation under the Foreign Claims Act, or was shot in the head, in which case they appear to be receiving letters that dismiss their claims and leave it at that.

And there are three very important reasons why we need to ensure that we're more responsive in a more proactive and immediate way to these families and victims. I mean, first of all, it's an issue of force protection. Many Iraqis have been quoted as saying, The tribe has attacked my tribe, and now I will attack him back. That's the last thing we want to see happening to our soldiers in individual circumstances.

ZAHN: But Jed, basically, what you're saying, even in paying off these families, you don't think it's going to stop this insurgency movement in its tracks?

BABBIN: I disagree very strongly with what Sarah just said. I mean, it's not a question of force protection at all. The question of force protection is finding and either capturing or killing the insurgents. People are not going to be bought out of the insurgency by giving some family some dollars in compensation, which we will do anyway. That's just silly. These people are dedicated, religious and political fanatic fanatics. They are not going to be motivated or demotivated by paying a single family a million dollars. It just doesn't matter...

ZAHN: Sarah, you get the last...

BABBIN: -- in terms of winning this war.

ZAHN: ... word tonight.

SEWALL: I think you fundamentally misunderstood the situation. I think here, the smart thing and the prudent thing to do also happens to be the right thing to do. It's part of our exit strategy. We've completely lost sight of the bigger picture. And Americans deserve to know, as do soldiers who are put in these situations, that the United States will do everything it can to help innocent victims of the conflict.

ZAHN: Jed Babbin, Sarah Sewall, we got to leave it there tonight. Thank you both for being with us. Appreciate your time.

Coming up, we're going to be talking to a former aide to President Lyndon Johnson about the battle over a documentary that claimed LBJ was behind JFK's assassination. We'll also be talking with LBJ's daughter. And a look ahead to tomorrow's 40th anniversary of Beatlemania hitting the U.S. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we're going to hear from George Harrison's sister about the Beatles' first U.S. tour.


ZAHN: A recent documentary on the History Channel pins the blame for the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy on his successor, Lyndon Johnson. Conspiracy theories are nothing new, but the documentary on a respected cable channel with an audience of millions has infuriated some, who see it as a blatant case of bad journalism and possible grounds for a lawsuit.

Two people who were very close to LBJ join me tonight. Luci Baines Johnson is the daughter of the late president. And Jack Valenti was an aide to President Johnson. He's now president of the Motion Picture Association of America. He joins us from Los Angeles. Good to see both of you.

Luci, I want to start with you this evening and your family's reaction. Your mother, who's 91 years old, wrote a heartfelt letter to the parent company who produced this film, and here's what she had to say. "No accusation ever made against Lyndon Johnson has hurt as painfully as the one made on the History Channel." What has this been like for your mom?

LUCI BAINES JOHNSON, DAUGHTER OF LBJ: Well, Paula, it's been a very disheartening experience. When you're in public life, you're used to all kinds of accusations being made, but we're a family, much like many families around the world, who've come to have great respect and appreciation for the History Channel. And to see them air something so obviously, thoroughly false, full of lies, accusations that are not only reprehensible -- can you imagine what it's like to have someone accuse your father of having murdered the president of the United States when you both loved him so very much?

Besides that, we're getting letters from people all over the world whose respect for the History Channel has caused them to believe that these accusations are true. And of course, they're without any foundation whatsoever. And therefore...

ZAHN: Jack, let's talk about that for a moment because you met with some of the History Channel people, and after they -- you met with them, they released a statement saying they will review the matter. What part of this film do you have the biggest problem with? What's your single largest objection?

JACK VALENTI, FORMER JOHNSON AIDE: Well, it's a squalid piece of programming that's astonishing that a prestigious channel like the History Channel would allow it to go on without even giving it the most casual kind of examination. Tom Johnson, the former aide to the president, Bill Moyers, Larry Temple, former special counsel, and I did meet with the History Channel. And we said this wasn't a theory, as they said it was. This is where the author of a nonsensical book is on the screen in full close-up and says, as a fact, that Lyndon Johnson killed President Kennedy. Both President Carter and President Ford have written, saying this is one of the most dastardly charges you can make. And what we said to the History Channel was, You owe it -- you owe it to the public that watches your program and believes what you put on. You should appoint a commission of objective historians and journalists and let them examine the pieces of this program, such as one lie. On November 21, this program says, quite blatantly and without any hesitation, that the day before the assassination, that Lyndon Johnson was at the home of Clint Murchison (ph) in Dallas, with Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover there, in which they plotted to kill the president.

And that very night, November the 21st, Vice President Johnson and President Kennedy were on a rostrum in Houston, Texas, a dinner that I staged for former congressman Albert Thomas. And then around 11:00 o'clock, when the evening was over, I drove with the vice president to the Houston airport, got in Air Force Two, flew to Ft. Worth, a Texas hotel, and was with him in his suite until about 1:00 in the morning.

ZAHN: So you're saying...

VALENTI: That's a blatant lie.

ZAHN: ... there's no way that could have happened.

VALENTI: Impossible. Totally impossible. And yet the History Channel has not even acknowledged that. So we're saying to them, put this objective group of historians and researchers and journalists, let them decide and then put it on the air as a stern rebuttal to this kind of -- what I called squalid programming.

ZAHN: And Luci, if that doesn't happen, will your family consider filing a lawsuit?

JOHNSON: Well, I think that we're considering all options available to us. But we believe that the History Channel is worthy of the truth. We believe that the American people deserve the truth, and we believe that history demands the truth. And I believe, as someone who loved Lyndon Johnson, that my father's sacrifice for his country and his love of President Kennedy expects the truth. And so I am hoping that the History Channel will seek truth and justice.

ZAHN: Well...

JOHNSON: I think they deserve it. I believe my family deserves it. I think the American people and history deserve it.

ZAHN: Luci Baines Johnson, Jack Valenti, thank you both for joining us tonight. We close with a statement...

JOHNSON: And we thank you.

ZAHN: Our pleasure. We close with a statement from the History Channel that reads, in part, "The History Channel has endeavored to make it clear that the program expressed only one point of view and that the History Channel does not endorse it or any other theory of the assassination."

We're going to move on and look at some of life's small ethical quandaries, like, should you fudge your resume? "The New York Times Magazine's" ethicist joins us live.

And remembering the beginning of Beatlemania in the U.S. 40 years after John, Paul, George and Ringo landed in the States.


ZAHN: Doing the right thing is not as simple as it sounds, and it's often not as clear as you might think. That's why many turn to "The Ethicist," the syndicated "New York Times Magazine" column. We posted a number of ethical questions on our Web site. Thousands responded. Helping us answer them is "The Ethicist" himself, Randy Cohen.

I hope you're ethical tonight. You will be, won't you?

RANDY COHEN, "THE ETHICIST": Well, I'll recognize unethical behavior when I see it, but I can't vouch for my own conduct.

ZAHN: All right. Well, you're going to make it very clear to me this evening. We're going to start by reading one of the questions we posted that got a divided response. The question was, "I worked my way through a prestigious university, but because of economic circumstances, never graduated, something that still leaves me ashamed. So when colleagues ask, When did you graduate, I often answer, I finished in 19-blah-blah-blah, creating the impression that I graduated. I don't have to disclose my every failure, but I regret being deceptive. Should I make it clear that I did not graduate from Prestigious U.?"

What do you think? We got a very divided response from our viewership.

COHEN: Yes. They went both ways, your viewers?

ZAHN: Yes.

COHEN: I think it's, first of all, a psychological problem more than an ethical problem. It's terrible that this fellow's ashamed. To work your way through school, especially a tough school, that's something he should be proud of. I wish he had a little more self- regard, don't you think? But beyond that, there is the ethical question, and it is wrong to deceive other people, even passively. When he says, Oh, I finished in 19-blah-de-blah, what they're hearing is, I graduated. And he doesn't have to tell them anything at all. Any casual stranger can't ask for your resume.

ZAHN: So better not to answer the question at all.

COHEN: But socially sometimes that's very hard. But that's OK. That's honest, but not to deceive people, even passively. That's not quite honorable. ZAHN: Let me move on to another question we posed and then share with you two of the varied responses we got. The question was, "I have an unused ticket for the World Trade Center observation deck. If I sell it on e-Bay, I'll likely get many times what I paid for it, and I have a lot of student loans. But to profit in this way just doesn't feel right. Would making money from such a sale be ethical?"

Well, here's what one viewer wrote back. "Sell it. Pay your bills. And if you feel some obligation, take a percentage and donate it to a World Trade Center-related fund." Another wrote, "I feel it would be. You would be looked at like a monster. Go get a part-time job to pay your bills."

It's a tough one, isn't it?

COHEN: It is a tough one. That's why I make that big ethics money. You know, there's something upsetting about seeing people profit from a tragedy, but that's what people like doctors or newscasters or ethics columnists do. And people have often traded in the relics of tragedy. People sell Civil War diaries or paraphernalia from the Titanic. And maybe the injunction is -- you know, comedians say tragedy plus time equals comedy. Well, maybe it's tragedy plus time equals collectibles. But there isn't anything unethical about this fellow selling this ticket. What he might do is be mindful of the suffering of those connected to the tragedy...

ZAHN: Sure.

COHEN: ... so that the...

ZAHN: There's great sensitivity to this.

COHEN: Yes. But this is more...

ZAHN: No matter where you live.

COHEN: ... a matter of taste than ethics, I think. So the more closely a relic of a disaster is connected to an intimate family member, the more intimate the object, the more reluctant you should be to sell it. But of course, the more intimately connected to the family member, the likelier it is that they will -- they'll own it. So I think it's fine. I really think this is all right.

ZAHN: The final question tonight. Have you noticed in the years you've been doing this a change in the tone of the questions that you're asked? Are people wrestling with these issues, you think, in a more aggressive way?

COHEN: Yes. You do. You see national trends reflected in people's personal ethical questions, that there are many, many questions related to the election now and people's roles, their ethical obligations in a democracy. It's pretty inspiring, actually.

ZAHN: And a lot of gray area there, too, isn't there. Randy Cohen, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

COHEN: A pleasure.

ZAHN: Have a great weekend. You were just as ethical as Bill (ph).

We're going to take you back to the moment 40 years ago tomorrow, when the Beatles arrived in the United States and changed just about everything.


ZAHN: That sounds great, doesn't it. Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of an event that shook the world of American music to its very soul. On February 7, 1964, four young lads from Liverpool called the Beatles landed in New York for the first tour of the United States. They were nothing less than a cultural atom bomb.


QUESTION: What do you think of the comment that you're nothing but a bunch of British Elvis Presleys?

RINGO STARR, THE BEATLES: It's not true! It's not true!

QUESTION: Are you going to get a haircut while you're here?


GEORGE HARRISON, THE BEATLES: I had one yesterday.

ED SULLIVAN, HOST, "THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW": Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles!


ZAHN: It's great to have both of you with us tonight. Welcome. So Bruce, take us back to the day the Beatles arrived in America. Describe the scene.

BRUCE SPITZER, BEATLES HISTORIAN, AUTHOR, "THE BEATLES ARE COMING!": In New York, it was total chaos. You had, you know, over 3,000 teenagers at the airport to greet the Beatles. The New York radio stations told them the Beatles are going to be coming. They're going to arrive at 1:20, Pan Am flight 101. Come out and greet them at the airport. Never mind the fact it was Friday and you'd be cutting school.

ZAHN: And Louise, we should explain, when your brother arrived for his debut with the Beatles in America, you were already living here, and you had never seen them perform as the Beatles. What was your sense of anticipation?

LOUISE HARRISON, GEORGE HARRISON'S SISTER: Well, I was certainly looking forward to it because I had seen my brother play just at a small little club down here in southern Illinois, with a very, very, what we would call a garage band. And when he stood up there and played with that band, he just electrified the whole little place. So I was looking forward to seeing what it would look like with all four of them because I thought, if he on his own could make such a tremendous change to a small VFW club, then the whole four of them must really have something going for them.

ZAHN: At what point do you believe that people in the music industry really understood what this group was going to do?

SPITZER: Well, they had no idea because the initial idea was, you know, maybe the Beatles album will sell a quarter of a million, a half a million copies. But by the end of March, "Meet the Beatles" had sold 3.6 million units, which was 10 times higher than they had forecast.

ZAHN: Louise, what do you think about, as we mark this 40th anniversary of the Beatles' arrival in America? Is there something that stands out in your mind?

HARRISON: To me, the whole story of what happened really was not all about how loud (UNINTELLIGIBLE) girls screaming that night, but the impact globally on all of the young people that the Beatles made long-term, plus their wonderful, down-to-earth, no big headedness-type personalities that they had. That, I think, was very, very important, that they never pretended to be something that they were not.

ZAHN: There was a powerful universality, wasn't there, to what they sang.

SPITZER: When you see the Solomon (ph) footage, you see the crowd response. They have this hand-held camera showing the girls screaming, the true -- the enjoyment of it, the excitement. And you can see how much the Beatles were enjoying themselves. They weren't taking themselves seriously on that first U.S. visit. They were here having a wonderful time, and it was contagious.

ZAHN: And how attractive were these men?

SPITZER: Well, you know, I mean, I heard that everyone -- everyone says Paul was the cutest. And the thing was, Ringo, though, oddly enough...

ZAHN: I was...

SPITZER: Ringo was...

ZAHN: ... kind of partial to Ringo.

SPITZER: ... the most popular Beatle. Yes, Ringo was the most popular Beatle initially.

ZAHN: And just a final thought about the style, the wigs and sort of what they generated.

SPITZER: Yes, you know, it was great because you had promotional things. You had stickers that they came up with and buttons...

ZAHN: Buttons. SPITZER: ... and a whole tabloid newspaper put out by Capital Records to promote the group, and of course, the infamous Beatle wigs, which look nothing like their hairdo, but nonetheless...

ZAHN: Do you want to put that on for us tonight?

SPITZER: Well, I...

ZAHN: Because it is, after all, the 40th anniversary...

SPITZER: All right.

ZAHN: ... of their arrival here in America.

SPITZER: Now, doesn't that make me look...

ZAHN: It's working pretty -- Ringo! I'm crazy about you, Ringo!


ZAHN: Thank you so much. Louise, appreciate your sharing some of your remembrances and reflections with us tonight. And you, as well, Bruce.

SPITZER: Thank you.

ZAHN: Bruce, I like you, but that looked ridiculous.

Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Appreciate you dropping by. Monday, you're going to meet Chris Noth from "Sex in the City" and "Law and Order." "LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Thanks so much for being with us all week long. We'll be back same time, same place Monday night. Have a great weekend.


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