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CNN SUNDAY NIGHT

Bush Administration Continues Attack On Richard Clarke's Credibility; Hand Gesture Could Lead To Mistrial In Tyco Case; FBI Files On Kerry Stolen

Aired March 28, 2004 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Global Headquarters in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY NIGHT.
Condoleezza Rice says she can't testify in public, but she does offer an olive branch to the 9/11 families. Bickering jurors, a mystery hand gesture. Will Tyco trial tensions boil over into a mistrial? Also ahead...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was one of the biggest events of our relationship. I mean, after 15 years, we are finally being recognized.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIN: And a gay middle school teacher comes under fire for telling his students he got married. These stories and a lot more now on CNN SUNDAY NIGHT.

I'm Carol Lin. Thanks for joining us. Up front tonight, a political mystery. FBI files detailing a young John Kerry at anti-war meeting on assassinating U.S. senators are stolen from a California historian. I'm going to be talking with Gerald Nicosia about the investigation. Also, what would Jesus buy from movies to trinkets, Christian products are making big money. Tonight, I'm going to be talking to the authors of the bestselling left behind book series. The co-authors, Tim Lehay and Jerry Jenkins talk about Mel Gibson and their own amazing success. And the rush is on by liberals to take on the conservative titans of talk radio. We're going to go behind the scenes of Air America.

But first, here's a look at the stories making headlines tonight and tomorrow. Assassination attempts in Iraq, authorities say an Iraqi cabinet member escaped unharmed when her convoy was attacked today in Mosul, but her driver and a body guard were killed.

Protests in Baghdad. Thousands demonstrated today against the shutdown of a Shi'ite newspaper. U.S. officials say the paper incites violence against American troops.

And tough talk from Hamas. The group's new leader Abdel Azziz Rantizi calls President Bush "an enemy of Muslims." But he stopped short of threatening to attack U.S. targets. Right now on to our top story, the war of words between the White House and former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke. On the heels of last week's 9/11 hearings in Washington, administration officials fanned out across the airwaves today, defending National Security adviser Condoleezza Rice. She has been facing a rising chorus of criticism lately.

So what does Rice have to say about it? White House correspondent Dana Bash reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice insists she would like nothing more than to testify before the 9/11 Commission, but in an interview with CBS' "60 MINUTES," she said it's a matter of executive privilege and she simply can't.

"It is a longstanding principle that sitting National Security Advisers do not testify before Congress," said Rice. Many victims' family members are furious Rice won't appear in public under oath. In a transcript of the interview released by the White House, Rice offered a compromised. "I know the families are disappointed that I can't testify," said Rice. "And I'd like very much to meet with families, so that I can answer their questions."

Fellow Bush officials who did appear before the commission came to Rice's defense, saying she's getting a bum rap. But a growing number of Republicans say the White House is making a political mistake.

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: It's been one of the stupidest things this White House has done to resist the 9/11 Commission.

BASH (on camera): The chairman of the 9/11 Commission says they'll continue to press Rice to appear at a hearing, but ruled out trying to force her to testify with a subpoena.

(voice-over): Meanwhile, Rice's former counter terror chief Richard Clarke tried to fight administration attempts to question his credibility. To congressional Republicans asking to de-classify 2002 testimony they say proves he changed his story, Clarke said he has nothing to hide. Other documents should also be made public, he said, to show the White House dragged its feet on the pre-9/11 threat of terrorism.

RICHARD CLARKE, FMR. COUNTER TERRORISM CHIEF: Let's declassify that memo I sent on January 25th. And let's declassify the National Security directive that Dr. Rice's committee approved nine months later on September 4th. And let's see if there's any difference between those two, because there isn't.

BASH: The Secretary of State believes as much as possible should be declassified. COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: My bias is, and my recommendation will be, put out everything we can, because the American people should be able to read it and see it, and not just those of us who have clearances or the commission.

BASH: But a senior administration official said declassifying all the information Clarke is calling for is unlikely, because it could reveal sources and methods in fighting terrorism.

Dana Bash, CNN, Crawford, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: Some families of 9/11 victims know exactly what they Condoleezza Rice to do. A group called the 9/11 Family Steering Committee released this statement today. "The Family Steering Committee demands the appearance of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice under oath in a public hearing immediately. We believe that testifying before the commission in a public forum is Ms. Rice's moral obligation, given her responsibility as National Security Adviser to protect our nation. The death of nearly 3,000 innocent people warrants such a moral precedent."

Well, whether or not Rice testifies publicly to the 9/11 Committee, the president's approval ratings for how he's handled the war on terror have already taken a hit. But how low could they go and what kind of political fallout are we actually looking at?

To help answer some of those questions, I'm joined by senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Good evening, Bill.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Carol.

LIN: What did you make of what Condoleezza Rice said tonight on "60 MINUTES"?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I read the transcript and I have the following reaction. Her explanation to the families of the victims I thought was rather, shall we say, generic. She said everybody understands the deep tragedy that has happened here. Well, that's not personal. It's nothing comparable in the emotional and personal quality of the apology that Richard Clarke made when he testified before the 9/11 Commission. And I think it'll be received as fairly impersonal and generic.

Second of all...

LIN: And you think it's important. You think it's important for the National Security Adviser here, representing a president who's running for re-election on this national broadcast, to make that human connection in this case. The credibility of the administration may actually be tied to that?

SCHNEIDER: Yes. And I think it's even more important for the president to make that kind of explanation and even apology to -- at least to assume the responsibility to those families.

Presidents these days don't do that very often, but it's something I think that would, as the families indicated, be refreshing and welcome for them. I think to accept that responsibility, remember the sign that said, "The buck stops here," to accept that responsibility I think would be a good political move for both the National Security Adviser and even more for the president.

LIN: Do you think she scored any points for the president tonight?

SCHNEIDER: Well, she did make an argument, which makes some sense. She said, look, when we came into office, we continued the policies of the Clinton administration against terrorism, but we were engaged in developing a much broader, bigger, more comprehensive strategy, not just to roll back al Qaeda, which Clinton wanted to do, but to eliminate al Qaeda.

Now here she comes into direct conflict with Richard Clarke, who said compare the January memo that I sent and the September memo a week before 9/11 that they came up with, and you'll find that nothing happened between January and September.

Well, we can't tell him until we see those documents. And apparently the administration, claiming national security, is not going to release all those documents. So we're just going to have to take the two sides' word for what was really going on in that crucial eight months between the time Bush took office and the 9/11 attacks.

LIN: Do you think she should go and testify publicly before this commission, put it to rest?

SCHNEIDER: For political reasons, absolutely, because it's becoming a real political liability, even a nightmare for this president. The fact is no one really understands the legalisms involved here. This was a national crisis, a national emergency. And her claim that she'll answer questions before the families, she'll answer questions to Ed Bradley and the press, she'll go on television programs...

LIN: Yes, so why not do it before the committee then? I mean...

SCHNEIDER: That's it.

LIN: ...what the people are asking.

SCHNEIDER: The idea is these commissioners have been looking into it. They understand the facts. They know what other people have said. They've looked at classified documents. They can ask her the right questions. The families are going to say we can't ask you questions about policy matters. The commission is entitled to do that. And that's whom you should be answerable to in public, so the public knows exactly what went on.

LIN: Right. So talking with our White House correspondent Dana Bash earlier, Bill, she said that expect the White House and the Bush campaign to ratchet down the volume when it comes to its criticism of what Richard Clarke has said in public. They're trying to get the topic of conversation changed in Washington. How effectively do you think they can do that? What's going to actually have to happen this week, because Richard Clarke is now saying hey, if you want to challenge me on what I said to Congress two years ago, hey, let's open the records, all six hours. I want everybody to see what I said and they can decide for themselves.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. And I don't think the administration is prepared to do that. And that would just prolong this confrontation. And the battle would just go on.

I think they just want to get off this because look, it is damaging to the president. It is damaging him on the issue he intends to run for re-election on, which is the war on terrorism. That was above politics until last week, when Clarke testified. Suddenly, 9/11 and the war on terrorism has become as partisan as and as controversial as Iraq. The president doesn't want to have -- see that happen. So he's going to try to change the subject, because this strategy of really attacking the credibility of...

LIN: Yes.

SCHNEIDER: ...Richard Clarke is not working.

LIN: A lot of back and forth and airwaves spent on this. Thank you very much, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

LIN: And we want your view. Our last call question tonight is, should National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice publicly testify before the 9/11 Commission? Give us a call at 1-800-807-2620.

It is a case that has changed America's perception of corporate executives. The former chief executive of Tyco accused of looting the company of hundreds of millions of dollar could escape conviction because of one juror and a mysterious hand gesture.

CNN's Chris Huntington has more on this great case and where it's heading.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dennis Kozlowski and his wife, Karen, pushed their way out of New York state court Friday, into the chaos and uncertainty of a looming mistrial, brought on by a jury which claims it can no longer deliberate in good faith.

At the center of the controversy is juror number four, an elderly woman who went to law school in her late 50s, then briefly practiced law. On Thursday afternoon, she flashed what appeared to be an OK sign toward the defendants tables when she entered and when she left the courtroom. The bizarre occurrence was brought to the attention of Judge Michael Ovis, who reminded the jury not to communicate in any way with anyone involved in the case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mood of my client is the mood you'd expect him to have. He's concerned. And believes in the jury system. And if he's not nervous, there's something wrong with him. And there's nothing wrong with him.

HUNTINGTON: Defense attorneys for Kozlowski and his co- defendant, Mark Schwartz, Tyco's former chief financial officer, have repeatedly had their request for a mistrial denied by Judge Ovis, who let the jury leave early for the weekend to cool off.

CHARLES STILLMAN, SWARTZ ATTORNEY: Jury's had a long time to work on this. And you know, and you know, we think it's, you know, time for an end, but the judge felt otherwise.

HUNTINGTON: After deliberating for nearly a week, the jury stunned the court Thursday with the first of a series of notes to Judge Ovis pointing to a single juror who had "stopped deliberating in good faith." There's no way to know which juror that is. And even after the judge instructed jurors to work out their differences, their final note Friday described deliberations as irreparably compromised.

While the case is best known for evidence of lavish spending on parties, yachts, real estate and art work, the charges that Kozlowski and Swartz looted Tyco of more than $600 million could mean a 30 year prison term of the jury can agree on a conviction.

Chris Huntington, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: It's a legal quandary for our rap sheet. Tyco executives accused of stealing $600 million. A judge keeps pushing, a jury can't agree. Also, who done it? One secret file showing how the FBI tracked John Kerry, stolen from author Gerald Nicosia. I'm going to be talking to him about what was actually in those files. And religion at work, from the success of "The Passion of the Christ," to the bestselling book based on the Revelation, how big is the business of Christianity? I'm going to be talking to two Christian authors, who are giving John Grisham a run for his money.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LIN: Presidential hopeful John Kerry is in Sacramento, after a weekend campaign swing in St. Louis, Missouri. Today, Kerry told church goers President Bush is not the compassionate conservative he claims. Kerry accused the administration of neglecting the less fortunate, citing the millions of jobs lost under the president's watch.

Meantime, Ralph Nader tells CNN he plans to meet with Kerry next month for the first time since entering the race. That'll be interesting.

Was it simply for thrills or part of a political scandal? Hundreds of pages of once secret documents detailing FBI surveillance on John Kerry were apparently stolen on Thursday. The documents were collected by Gerald Nicosia, author of "Home at War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans Movement."

Mr. Nicosia is our newsmaker tonight. He joins us from San Francisco to tell us what happened and what was in those files. Gerald, what was the most sensitive information contained in those files?

GERALD NICOSIA, AUTHOR, HOME TO WAR: Well, first of all, I never got a chance to read all of them. I had put in my FOIA application in 1988, when I began my book "Home to War" by the way. And wanted to get those documents as soon as possible because I knew that there had been massive FBI surveillance, plus other intelligence agency surveillance of the veterans movement, specifically Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

The FBI gave me a great deal of resistance over an 11 year period. It wasn't until Clinton really started to loosen up some of the FOIA releases in 1999...

LIN: That being the Freedom of Information Act, the Freedom of Information Act...

NICOSIA: Yes.

LIN: ...which you can get documents.

NICOSIA: Right. So late 1998, not -- early 1999, when my book was really completed and I was in the process of getting published, finally I was able to get this 12 foot high stack of 20,000 documents, an enormous, enormous file, compiled over a 10 year period by thousands of government agents.

But at that point, I really didn't have the time to read it.

LIN: Right.

NICOSIA: So I didn't -- I stored it away, I flipped through it. And was going to put it into a library, but in the last few weeks, suddenly the revelations in there about John Kerry have made it a very hot property.

LIN: That's right. One of the revelations...

NICOSIA: So I don't exactly what was in there, but...

LIN: Right.

NICOSIA: ...I mean, I know some of the things. I brought one of the documents with me.

LIN: Well, let's talk about one of them. For example, something that came out about a 1971 meeting that John Kerry may or may not have been at, but according to things that we have read, the FBI detailed that he was actually at a 1971 meeting, where there was some discussion of the anti-war movement plotting or planning or talking about assassination U.S. senators, who were supporting the Vietnam War at the time.

NICOSIA: Yes. This question had arisen in an article in "The New York Sun" about three or four weeks ago. And many reporters then began to try to find witnesses. Was John Kerry at the meeting? Wasn't he?

I thought he wasn't. In my book, I had it wrong, because I believed that he had resigned and...

LIN: Did you have documentation of that in the documents that you had, though?

NICOSIA: In -- well, yes. What happened, the reporter from "The L.A. Times" came to my house. And we started going through these thousands of pages. And by the way, you said hundreds. Actually, the amount that was stolen was more like 3,000 or 4,000 pages were stolen from my home.

So enormous amount of information was already removed. And you know...

LIN: Right.

NICOSIA: ...maybe 16,000 pages are left.

But in those pages, we found 50 pages just on one meeting, which was the November 12, November 15 meeting in Kansas City, 1971. John Kerry was absolutely there. They quoted his conversation. They described things that he had done there. So those documents showed a very minute surveillance of Senator Kerry.

LIN: Well, did it show any agreement on John Kerry's part that that was a good idea, that he was interested, supported the idea of assassination attempt?

NICOSIA: Well, the story -- the agents never got in the final room. What happened there was that the meeting kind of exploded when -- there were 200 vets from -- leaders from different regions of the country of VVAW, that's Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Many of them were saying this is crazy. We can't even talk about this because there's -- we know there's agents here.

They moved it several times. They finally moved it to a Mennonite Hall. Locked the doors, put guards outside. Only the top leaders of the organization went in to debate it. It was voted down. The FBI basically says we didn't get in that hall where they debated it, so we don't know who was actually in the final room, where -- but they voted it down. It didn't happen.

We don't know if Kerry was in that room, but he certainly was there at the main meeting, where it was first brought up.

LIN: Right. And that's just a fraction of what you had. I mean, like you said, who knows what else is there, which raises all kinds of possibilities of who would have a motive for actually stealing these documents? I mean, how many people -- who knew that you had them and where you kept them?

NICOSIA: Well, unfortunately, I let CNN come to my house about a week or so ago and...

LIN: OK, so everybody knew you had them.

NICOSIA: It's not your fault but...

LIN: The entire world knew you had them.

NICOSIA: ...it was a bad decision on my part. I really shouldn't have let people see what the file -- the boxes were quite distinctive. The room they were kept in was quite distinctive. So when that was on national news Monday night, I guess everybody in the world would have known how to get into my house and where the boxes were.

LIN: OK, and they were just taken a few days later.

NICOSIA: Yes.

LIN: What are the police saying?

NICOSIA: The police say it was a very neat and professional burglary. They didn't take a expensive camera that was nearby. The only thing they did, which was a slight goof, was they opened bedroom doors that my wife had carefully closed and clicked shut in the morning. So there was evidence to us that somebody had been there, but it was -- but also, they didn't get everything, which is a little puzzling, but I think they must've been interrupted. There's a huge Doberman next door who will really set up a huge racket when anybody is around. Because I believe they came for all of the boxes, not just part of them.

LIN: Gerald -- yes. Not exactly the plumbers in Watergate, but you know, it raises a lot of questions. What are you thinking?

NICOSIA: Well, this stuff is very explosive. I brought one of the documents with. This is obviously a document that was not stolen, because I wouldn't have it in my hand if it was.

But you know, this particular document talks about John Kerry going to Pairs to meet with the North Vietnamese negotiators, that he was talking about the POW issue with North Vietnamese negotiators. Remember, he's a private citizen at this point. This is very controversial stuff.

LIN: Right.

NICOSIA: He refers to him speaking about President Nixon as calling him absolutely immoral. I mean, this is just like one page out of thousands. So you can imagine the potentially -- which I haven't seen them all myself...

LIN: Right.

NICOSIA: ...yet. And this is my job in the next month, is really to go through all of this stuff.

LIN: Well...

NICOSIA: And see what's there.

LIN: Right. Well you know what? If I was a supporter of John Kerry, I wouldn't want this stuff out there. And if I was a Republican, I'd be hot to look at it. By the way, we did call the Republican National Committee. They said they didn't want to have -- they didn't want to touch this. They didn't want to touch this. So...

NICOSIA: They didn't even want to comment on it?

LIN: No, no comment. Nothing. Nada. So there you go, the controversy continues, Gerald. Stay in touch.

NICOSIA: Yes, it does.

LIN: Hope you find the documents.

NICOSIA: Yes.

LIN: All right, ahead on CNN SUNDAY NIGHT, students ask a gay teacher if he's married and he says yes. Now his job's on the line. Plus, life on hold, Kobe Bryant's accuser asks the judge to help her get her life back. Will her plea speed up the case? And political pressure, we want your view. Should National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice publicly testify before the 9/11 Commission? Give us a call at 1-800-807-2620.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LIN: A California teacher who recently married his male partner in San Francisco now fears his job is on the line. He's facing an investigation because of a classroom discussion he insists he didn't even start.

CNN's Miguel Marquez reports from Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During the rush to gay marriage in San Francisco, two Southern Californians, Ron Fanelle and Randy Serek made the drive and the commitment.

: I think it was one of the biggest events of our relationship. I mean, after 15 years, we are finally being recognized.

MARQUEZ: They returned to their Ventura home expecting life to return to normal, but there was a hitch in getting married. Fanelle teaches history to 7th and 8th graders. One day the students had questions. RON FANELLE, MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER: And the question that was asked was we had heard that you gotten married. And I said, "yes, that's true." And then the follow-up questions, "we heard it was to a man." And I said, "yes, that's true."

Fanelle says he spent a few minutes talking about gay marriage. Then he says his students gave him a student ovation.

: They wanted to know the same things about me that they knew about every other teacher on that campus.

MARQUEZ: But a parent didn't see it that way. He pulled his child out of the class and took his complaint to the school board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very upset and disappointed that his -- that this teacher brought his homosexual platform to our school district.

MARQUEZ: Maddox claim Fanelle was advocating homosexuality and influencing kids. Fanelle filed a grievance because he felt other teachers outed him to students. So the district started an investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to investigate the whole entire situation. And of course, because it's a personal investigation, it's all confidential.

MARQUEZ: The district says being gay and a teacher is a non issue. But Fanelle is concerned that the investigation appeared more focused on the parents' issues than his.

FANELLE: We didn't do anything remarkable, but there's definitely a double standard in the way I'm being treated for being married, you know, versus the way other people are treated.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Fanelle says he has the support of the vast majority of parents and kids. The school district says it'll wrap up its investigation by the end of this week. And there's a board meeting scheduled for Thursday. Attendance is expected to be heavy.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: All right, let's fast forward now for a look at some stories that'll be making news this week. On Monday, a grand jury will convene to hear the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's case against Michael Jackson. The presentation is expected to take about two weeks. Jackson has been invited to appear in front of the panel, but defendants rarely accept such offers.

And on Wednesday, homeland security takes center stage again in Washington. Members of Congress and security officials meet at the 2004 Homeland and Global Security Summit.

And then, there were four. Saturday, the mens NCAA semi-final basketball game tip-off.

Ahead on CNN SUNDAY NIGHT, an accuser's plea. Kobe Bryant's accuser says she faces death threats. And she's made a request to the court. Could it force the judge to reconsider the trial's schedule? That's coming up in rap sheet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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