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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
Fall of Saddam Hussein, One Year Later; Abduction of Journalists Throws Japan Into Crisis; Stern Versus the FCC
Aired April 9, 2004 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, again.
It has been a year since the statue of Saddam was toppled and it has been a week of the most intense fighting since. That in a sentence is Iraq today. Considerable good and plenty of bad and the bad threatens to undo the good.
"The Wall Street Journal" today laid out the dilemma for the president quite clearly. There are really no good options, just varying degrees of bad. Use the big guns at the risk of killing more civilians and making matters worse.
Pull back, however briefly, and run the risk the insurgents will be emboldened. Try and get more international help but what country would send their soldiers into this mess right now?
Indeed the larger problem may be just keeping the small number of coalition troops already there, there. A year since the statue fell, the choices are all bad including the most obvious and likely the worst of all, pulling out all together.
Iraq on this anniversary tops the news and begins the whip and we begin in Baghdad and CNN's Jane Arraf, Jane a headline.
JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Aaron, on this anniversary there's a very different square behind me and a very different Iraq as the United States battles its biggest challenges here since the end of major combat last year.
BROWN: Jane, thank you.
Next to Tokyo where the abduction of three Japanese nationals in Iraq has thrown that country's government into a crisis. CNN's Atika Schubert is there and on the videophone, Atika, a headline.
ATIKA SCHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is standing firm. He says Japanese troops will not be withdrawn from Iraq but time is running out and the government has few if any options left -- Aaron.
BROWN: Atika, thank you.
And finally, Crawford, Texas, where the administration is facing a new round of stories on "the memo." CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has the watch tonight, Suzanne a headline.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, there are really mixed reports tonight. Tonight, the Associated Press saying that this presidential daily brief, a document that is still classified, shows that as early, as recent of May of 2001 al Qaeda operatives were trying to make their way into the United States to carry out some sort of explosives attack.
A commission source, a high level commission source I spoke with called that garbage but it is clear that both the White House and the commission are eager to declassify this very hot document -- Aaron.
BROWN: Suzanne, thank you. We'll get back to you and the rest shortly.
Also on the program tonight, protecting the air waves or going too far, the battle between Howard Stern and the FCC.
Plus, the Alamo, the piece of history that hasn't always been accurately told. Tonight, Nissen sees if Hollywood gets it right this time around.
And, no Alamo, but perhaps a three-headed Martian or two and, why not, morning papers and this being Friday some much needed relief supplied by the tabloids, all that and more in the hour ahead.
We begin tonight in Iraq at the end of another rough day after a deadly week in a difficult year. A quick overview begins near Baghdad Airport. Insurgents attacked a fuel convoy killing a soldier and an Iraqi driver. Two more soldiers and a number of civilian contractors remain unaccounted for. This is just one of 140 attacks on coalition forces this week alone.
Sporadic fighting has resumed in Fallujah where earlier today American commanders declared a cease-fire, in part to let residents bury their dead. Reports are sketchy and mixed. The number of Iraqi fatalities in Fallujah is running somewhere between 300 and 450. How many are insurgents, how many ordinary civilians we do not know.
Troops have pushed into the southern city of al-Kut taking back ground captured by the followers of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr but similar moves into Najaf and Karbala have been put on hold to spare the many pilgrims who have gathered in those cities for a Muslim holy day.
Meantime, Secretary of State Powell went on a media blitz this afternoon recommitting to the June 30 date for transferring sovereignty to the Iraqis, acknowledging the difficulties so far and dealing with the "V" word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Vietnam was another time, another place, several presidents ago and there is no parallel here and we should not try to contaminate the work we are doing, the important vital work we are doing now by trying to hang ancient labels on it. Let's view the situation for what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Secretary of State Powell this afternoon.
Taking stock of the situation in Iraq this past week has been difficult at best. Many questions remain about the size of the insurgency and its potential to spread. At least one thing can be said with certainty. Today was a milestone day that wasn't supposed to look like this.
A year ago the world watched as coalition forces toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad while Iraqis cheered. No one thought what would follow would be easy but it has been tougher than many imagined and in many respects tougher than the administration argued it would be. Today in the same square in Baghdad there were no cheers.
Here again, CNN's Jane Arraf.
ARRAF (voice-over): Instead of celebrating crowds, an uneasy calm and an empty square. Iraqis were told that anyone with weapons would be shot on sight.
Where Saddam's statue was toppled, soldiers struggled to remove the image of a new leader, Muqtada al-Sadr who has risen up to challenge them in Baghdad and other key cities.
In Fallujah, west of the capital, U.S. Marines halted a fierce and controversial offensive to allow Iraqis to bury their dead and allow aid supplies through.
Still, sporadic fighting continued. Iraqi officials said they were trying to negotiate an end to the fighting. Political leaders and humanitarian officials are criticizing the U.S. saying the offensive is taking an unconscionable toll on civilians.
The head of U.S. Central Command General John Abizaid visiting Fallujah said the military was fighting a wider battle.
GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, CMDR., U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: You see it in forms of assassination, kidnapping, intimidating people that want to come forward to peace and prosperity in a new Iraq and until we can break this culture of intimidation we will continue our military operations in the most robust way possible.
ARRAF: The uprising three months before the U.S. is scheduled to turn over control of the country have forced many units to stay put. In the southern Iraqi city of Kut, soldiers from Baghdad's 1st Armored Division, who are on their way home after a year in Iraq, found themselves back in battle instead. The military destroyed Muqtada al- Sadr's office there and said it was close to retaking the town.
A day ahead of one of the most important Shia holidays of the year, Sadr remained in control of the holy city of Najaf where non- Muslim forces would spark a crisis.
ARRAF: This all doesn't seem to be at the point of a broad-based revolt or even a broad alliance between Sunnis and Shias fighting together against the U.S. But although the United States can easily win militarily, if the fighting continues, it risks winning the battles but losing the war for the support of the Iraqi people.
Jane Arraf, CNN, Baghdad.
BROWN: It has been in many ways a rough week all around, a week that is testing the resolve of U.S. allies in Iraq as never before. Twelve foreign nationals were kidnapped in the week. Tonight five of them remain held hostage, three Japanese.
We first saw the harrowing pictures of them yesterday. Their captors are demanding that Japan withdraw its troops from Iraq. It is a small contingent, just 550 troops, deployed all in non-combatant roles but still it is the riskiest mission Japan has taken on since the end of World War II and tonight the Japanese prime minister is under enormous pressure.
Here again, CNN's Atika Schubert.
SCHUBERT (voice-over): The images play and over across Japanese television but there is little that can be done. The Japanese government does not know where the hostages are or even who is behind the kidnapping leaving no one to bargain with, no way to get them back home. There is only the insurgents' demand, Japanese troops must leave Iraq or the hostages will be burned alive.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi continues to stand firm refusing to withdraw troops from Iraq.
JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We will not bow to any despicable terrorist threats.
SCHUBERT: But the government is running out of options. It has more than 500 troops on the ground, part of a force that will eventually reach more than 1,000, all taking part in non-combat humanitarian missions.
Troops were sent despite the public's deep misgivings that supporting U.S. policy in Iraq would make Japan a target for terror. Now the country's worst fears have been realized.
Hundreds of angry protesters gathered outside the prime minister's office demanding Koizumi order the immediate withdrawal of Japanese troops but the public is still deeply divided. Others worry that giving in now may invite more abductions. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If we give in to their demands now, it may just get worse and the international community would look down at us.
SCHUBERT: That logic is difficult for family members to accept.
NAOKO IMAI, MOTHER OF HOSTAGE (through translator): I want my son to be released and if that means withdrawing the troops, I want them to be pulled out. The troops in Iraq will not (unintelligible) if the government ignores the lives of a few humanitarian workers.
SCHUBERT: For now they can only watch and wait.
SCHUBERT: Aaron, Japan's vice foreign minister has landed now in Jordan, Amman, Jordan, and he's expected to find some way out of this crisis. We are now two days into a three day deadline set by hostage takers and there is enormous pressure on the prime minister to find a way to resolve this crisis but so far Koizumi has no answers -- Aaron.
BROWN: This pressure on him, is it coming from his own party, is it coming from opposition parties, is it coming from polling, where is it coming from?
SCHUBERT: At the moment it's coming sometimes from the opposition. He was certainly drilled a bit in parliament yesterday by opposition lawmakers who said that they never at the very beginning supported the deployment of troops to Iraq; however, interestingly they did support his position to keep troops there for now saying that Japan should not give into terrorist demands.
There is also pressure from the public as you saw demonstrators yesterday and last night, thousands of protesters gathered outside the prime minister's home in a candlelight vigil demanding the immediate withdrawal of troops.
Now having said that, the public is still divided. There are many people here who think that Prime Minister Koizumi is doing the right thing. The only problem is there doesn't seem to be any other option and Koizumi is struggling to find a way out of this -- Aaron.
BROWN: Atika thank you, Atika Schubert in Tokyo tonight.
It seems a day of bad options. It is, we think, an undeniable, if uncomfortable truth that bad news crowds out good news. It has always been so but good news, or in the case of Iraq progress, ought not be ignored either and progress clearly has been made.
While Iraq offers extraordinary challenges, the battle with the insurgents and the lack of credible moderate leaders being two, for many life has improved thanks to the American and coalition effort. No story is black and white and that applies to Iraq even in a week of fighting.
From Baghdad for us tonight, CNN's Jim Clancy. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi students have returned to refurbish classrooms where teachers are being paid a living wage. For the first time schools are getting computers. But students say the security situation makes it difficult for them to take advantage of the improvements.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are unsafe. The driver who takes us to college carries a gun in order to protect us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really fed up from this situation. I don't know when it will be solved this problem. I don't know and I'm hopeless. Believe me.
CLANCY: Some improvements don't hinge on security. Electricity has been restored to levels well above those before the coalition invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein. Clean water also widely available sometimes in rural areas that never had it before the coalition arrived.
Newspapers and the media are flourishing. There are estimated to be around 200 newspapers published representing views that Iraqis were never able to hear before. Telephone communications not only restored but international links are available that were never possible before and there are several major cell phone providers as well.
Internet access, unheard of under Saddam Hussein, is now open along with dozens of Internet cafes, allowing users without computers to get on the Internet for communication and research.
Iraqi hospitals, they have seen some improvement, although much more is expected on that front in the coming year. The U.S. is preparing to spend more than $1 billion on new and existing health care facilities.
One of the biggest changes Iraqis see is that their own security forces are being trained and ready but they are not ready yet.
(on camera): A year after arriving here some members of the U.S.-led coalition say they can't fix everything. They complain that too many Iraqis are standing on the sidelines watching and waiting instead of seizing the opportunities already taking shape in their country.
Jim Clancy, CNN, Baghdad.
BROWN: We have more on Iraq later in the program. Coming up next the memo that electrified the 9/11 hearings yesterday. Some new developments on that tonight.
And later a day in the life in the Sunni Triangle.
Around the world this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: Well, this is also the week a presidential memo, upgraded to a starring role in the 9/11 investigation, the president's daily brief from August 6, 2001, surfaced before in the commission's work but yesterday it found itself front and center in some of the harshest questioning of Condoleezza Rice. Ms. Rice described the information in the document as historic, not a warning. She said it lacked specifics.
Tonight, the Associated Press is reporting that the memo did, in fact, include some decidedly non-historic information about a possible attack by al Qaeda operatives. That is one version.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux joins us tonight from Crawford, Texas, good evening.
MALVEAUX: Good evening, Aaron.
Certainly those reports are mixed this evening just what is in that Presidential Daily Brief. It is still classified at this time but, you are right, it is taking front and center to the main question here what did the administration know about al Qaeda's attempts to actually attack Americans on American soil?
MALVEAUX (voice-over): As the president continued his vacation at his Crawford ranch, White House officials were working to declassify a portion of an August 6, 2001 intelligence article, called the President's Daily Brief or PDB.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I believe the title was "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."
MALVEAUX: In her Thursday testimony before the 9/11 commission, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the document cited 70 FBI investigations into al Qaeda cells in the U.S., as well as earlier warnings of al Qaeda plans to hijack U.S. passenger planes.
The PDB was given to the president at his ranch one month before the terrorist attacks on September 11. Some commissioners questioned why the administration couldn't see that an attack was imminent. Rice maintained it was an historical document not a prediction.
RICE: We did not have on the United States threat information that was in any way specific enough to suggest that something was coming in the United States.
MALVEAUX: The administration hopes declassifying the document will help to, as one put it, quell the controversy. A CNN-Time poll released Friday shows Rice's testimony may have bolstered the administration's credibility.
In March, just after Richard Clarke's testimony, 54 percent thought the administration didn't do all that could be done to prevent the attacks of September 11. Now that's down to 40 percent.
And on the question of who they are more likely to believe, 36 percent say Clarke, 43 percent say Rice. But 60 percent of those polled believe the administration didn't have an al Qaeda strategy before 9/11.
MALVEAUX: Now tonight the Associated Press is quoting sources that have read the Presidential Daily Brief saying that as early, as recent as May, 2001 and in that brief it said that al Qaeda operatives were making their way to the United States to carry out some sort of explosives attack. I spoke with a high level commission source who said he did not believe that was accurate. He has also read that brief.
Now, as you can imagine, Aaron, both the White House and the commission is scrambling to try to declassify that document. Both sides very eager to get their side of the story out -- Aaron.
BROWN: Well the document is the document whatever story it holds. Ultimately, I guess, we'll read and decide for ourselves. Is there any sort of timeline? What is the best guess when this will come out?
MALVEAUX: Well, we were actually thinking that it would come sooner than it is actually going to be released. That is because they say that there's a long process and it's been -- it's a rather involved process here trying to figure out what is going to be redacted, what gets included, what remains classified.
We expect, however, this is going to come out fairly soon at least within the next couple of days. This is something that all sides are working to get out as quickly as possible because the worst thing for the White House here is to see these kind of leaks.
BROWN: Well that and just the title I think makes it all uncomfortable for the White House so it's in its interest to get it out. Suzanne, thank you down in Crawford, Texas with the president over the Easter holiday.
Former Senator Gary Hart has spent a great deal of time thinking about terrorism. He chaired the U.S. Commission on National Security, a bipartisan panel, created by President Clinton to produce a report for the incoming administration.
That report was delivered to the Bush White House eight months before 9/11. Among other things, it warned that a devastating attack on the United States was imminent and that the FBI wasn't working the way it should to stop the plot. The commission also recommended creating a Department of Homeland Security.
Mr. Hart is now advising John Kerry's presidential campaign and we talked to the former Senator earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: Senator, it seems to me you have been as reluctant as anyone to give anybody, either party, any president, a free ride on the notion that everything that could have been done was done, fair enough?
GARY HART, CO-CHAIRMAN, U.S. COMMISSION ON NATIONAL SECURITY: Yes, it is. I think there -- I don't think we ought to be in the business of allocating blame but I think there's plenty of blame to go around and I do think the issue of accountability is a serious one.
BROWN: On the question of accountability, I read an interview the other day where you said it was surprising, a bit curious to you that no one has been held accountable in the intelligence community at the FBI for the failures of 9/11 and you had a pretty harsh theory on that.
HART: Well, there are only two possibilities I think with regard particularly to Iraq. I know we're talking about 9/11 but either the president was misled or not informed or the president misled the American people. In any case, somebody has to account for the misleading.
And I think on 9/11 if the president was not warned then heads should have rolled and if the president was warned and did nothing then perhaps the presidential head should roll.
BROWN: Is there any -- back to 9/11 and the commission, was there -- did you get any clarification yesterday in Dr. Rice's testimony or was it pretty much what you expected?
HART: It was almost exactly what I had expected. I thought the drum roll up to her testimony was kind of overdone. She essentially said what one would expect her to say. We were considering all threat concerns and none more important than the others.
But I do think history will show the administration was preoccupied in its early months with long term issues like missile defense and the China threat and a whole lot of other abstractions, including Saddam Hussein when, in fact, 3,000 American lives were lost because they didn't up the sense of urgency about preparing us for attacks.
And I also must say I think it's very disingenuous to say no one told us what day, hijacked airplanes, what buildings. That's not sufficient for the people who have taken a constitutional oath to defend and protect the security of the United States.
BROWN: I think some people would say you are viewing this with not simply the clarity of hindsight but with the clarity of 9/11 actually having happened and that we all see things, including warning signs, differently post 9/11. Is there any truth in that?
HART: Well, I think the Pearl Harbor analogy works in a way. If Franklin Roosevelt had been warned by 14 reasonably, well in fact present company excepted, deeply experienced people in national security that the Japanese were going to attack America sometime, someplace, somehow and had done nothing to get ready for that I think he would have been held very seriously accountable.
So, the issue, the issue is what went wrong and how can we prevent it in the future? I know a lot of people are saying let's not look back. Let's look forward. But we will repeat history unless we find out what went wrong and I think there was just lassitude on the part of policymakers and administrators all the way up the chief executive.
BROWN: Let me ask then the sort of baseline question here. Dr. Rice was asked this. Mr. Clarke was asked this. Do you believe in your heart of hearts that anything could have been done that would have prevented the attacks on 9/11 and, if so, what?
HART: Yes, of course. The fact that somebody in our government in the intelligence services, I think FBI knew that two people on the terrorist watch list were already in the United States.
I think everybody knows if that had been pursued and shared throughout the agencies and there had been again from the top down a sense of heightened urgency and emergency I think we could have prevented it and the 9/11 commission are going to have to answer that question. I think with Congressman Hamilton a lot of things had to happen right but they could have happened right if there had been this sense or urgency.
BROWN: Do you think you should testify before the commission?
HART: I'd put it the other way around. For a federal commission to be taken seriously I think it itself must take its predecessor commission seriously. I find it difficult to believe that 9/11 will be taken seriously if it doesn't publicly hear from the commission that warned that these attacks were going to occur.
Our commission wasn't just another federal commission. The work we did had not been done in this country since 1947, so this was a two and a half year effort that was very, very serious.
BROWN: Senator we appreciate your time. It's good to see you, sir. Thank you very much.
HART: My pleasure. Thank you.
BROWN: Thank you.
BROWN: Former Colorado Senator Gary Hart now with the Kerry campaign. We talked with him earlier today.
Coming up on the program, back to Iraq then and now, the difference a year makes, the difference it doesn't, a break first.
From New York this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: More now on Iraq a year later and Iraq in the days and weeks ahead.
We're joined by James Kitfield, the National Security and Foreign Affairs Correspondent for "The National Journal." He's been in and out of Iraq a bunch of times over the last year, pleased to have him with us tonight. Good to see you.
What have we learned in the last week and should we be surprised by any of it?
JAMES KITFIELD, "THE NATIONAL JOURNAL": Well, I think what we've learned in the last week is that from the very beginning the Americans in Baghdad and the rest of Iraq have thought that they had a window of forbearance amongst the Iraqis after which our sort of presence of so many troops and an occupier would become sort of abhorrent to them.
I think we learned this week that maybe that window is shutting a bit faster than we thought. I know for a fact the military was somewhat surprised that Mr. Sadr had -- was able to really rouse up as much support as he was able to.
And I think we have reiterated the fact that this nation building -- I called it nation building by shock therapy. We have a very, very aggressive schedule to do this. With aggressive schedules, unfortunately, most things have to go right and you have to be kind of lucky. Some things have not gone right, and we've been unlucky a few times. And I think it's going to lead to a very shaky summer as we try to hand off power.
BROWN: Let's just focus for a minute I guess on the Shia problem, and it is a problem. To what degree has it grown do you think from a fairly narrow base to a larger one?
KITFIELD: Well, you know, I still buy the argument that Mr. Sadr does not have really broad support. There's been a lot of recent polling done where most Shiites do not want the sort of varied, you know, the theocratic government that he has, sort of the Iranian 1979 revolution sort of model.
But what he seemed to be able to tap into is a general feeling of resentment from the occupation, from the fact that the political progress seems to be so uncertain. No one knows who's going to be handed power to in June 30. So I think there is growing resentment there. But I buy the administration's argument to date that it is not a widespread revolt that he's been able to ignite yet.
BROWN: And where has Sistani been in this and where has the Governing Council been over the last week?
KITFIELD: Well, the Governing Council -- it's a very interesting question, because Sistani, his role is not exactly clear.
We had a plan in December. The interim government would be picked by caucuses. He nixed that and they went back to the drawing board. They had a plan for the interim constitution. It was signed by the Iraqi Governing Council. He has big problems with that and won't meet with the U.N. representative, Mr. Brahimi, because of his objections to the interim constitution.
So his objections to what's happening feeds into this sort of unrest in the Shiite community I think that we're seeing the results of this past week.
BROWN: And the Governing Council, has it been helping this week?
KITFIELD: It has been helpful.
The Governing Council is talking back channels to Sistani. And he issued this fatwa that, although it sounded to American ears that he sort of condemned the reaction of the coalition, it also sent the message to Mr. Sadr that his forces should at this point seek to find some peaceful way out of present turmoil.
So I think that was fairly important to Shiite years and I think the Governing Council has been helpful in the sense they have opened these back channels and him and trying to find some arrangement by which he gives it its blessing and we can find a peaceful solution to the turmoil of the last few days.
BROWN: And, finally, what will you look for in the next week or two weeks. What will be the most important thing to keep an eye on?
KITFIELD: The most important thing to keep an eye on is to see if this revolt that Sadr has sort of tried to ignite actually catches flame. In other words, does it move beyond his hard-core 2,000- or 3,000-person militia and actually get sort of widespread groundswell support.
I don't expect that to happen, but if that does happen, we're in for a very long summer.
BROWN: Jim, good to have you with us. Thanks a lot.
KITFIELD: Thank you.
BROWN: Jim Kitfield of "The National Journal."
Still to come on the program tonight, a change of gears, to be sure, shock jocks and shocking fines. Is it a witch-hunt or just the government doing the job the country wants it to do? This would be about Howard Stern, wouldn't it?
And this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: You can argue that Howard Stern is sick. You can argue he isn't funny. You can even change the station. We recommend that. But should the government have a say in what he says? You can also argue the should, but by law, the government does. Even now, the airwaves are considered a public trust, subject to public standards of decency.
And lately, the guardian of that trust, the FCC, has been cracking down on the stations running Mr. Stern's programming. They in turn have been coming down hard on him.
Here's CNN's Adaora Udoji.
ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shock jock Howard Stern is facing federal regulators with new tactics when it comes to questions of decency. They're calling segments in one of his shows patently offensive, fining the Clear Channel radio stations which aired it nearly half a million dollars. Fellow talk show host Don Imus says the decision's bad news.
DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I just think it's such a dangerous sort of precedent.
UDOJI: In its crackdown, the Federal Communications Commission concluded Stern's discussion about oral and anal sex to the sounds of flatulence went too far, and for the first time, it issued multiple fines out of a single show, as opposed to one monetary punishment no matter how many violations in that show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here I am going to jail.
UDOJI: The FCC has also come down hard on other shock jocks, like Bubba Sponge Love in Florida, slapping his show with a $700,000 fine. Constitutional experts worry there's growing intensity to conform, coming in the wake of Janet Jackson's breast-bearing performance at Super Bowl.
MICHAEL RATNER, CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERT: Who decides what's indecent except a group of guys in Washington? That seems to be a violation of the First Amendment. I wouldn't call them a band of Nazis but I do think there is some kind of vendetta against Stern.
UDOJI: On vacation this week, Stern said he is the victim of a witch-hunt saying -- quote -- "It's pretty shocking that governmental interference into our rights and free speech takes place in the U.S. It's hard to reconcile this with the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Others just as vehemently argue free speech is not without boundaries. Jack Thompson, a parent advocate, filed the complaint which led to the fine.
JACK THOMPSON, STERN CRITIC: The public airwaves are to be protected because of the vast number of children in the audience.
UDOJI: But this fine only involved six stations. It won't happen there again. Following the FCC's action, Clear Channel dropped Stern's show.
(on camera): But the show, owned by Infinity Broadcasting, remains on several dozen other stations, stations that are well aware the FCC is watching more closely. It's just not clear what they plan to do about it.
Adaora Udoji, CNN, New York.
BROWN: A quick "Moneyline Roundup" now, starting with former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling.
Mr. Skilling was taken to a Manhattan hospital early this morning after police responded to complaints that he was acting erratically and accusing patrons in a bar of being FBI agents while he grabbed their clothes. And according to the NYPD, Mr. Skilling was intoxicated and uncooperative, no charges filed. As you may know, Mr. Skilling has problems. He already faces an armful of felony charges in connection with the Enron mess. He's pleaded not guilty.
And Mac users now have something P.C. users have always to worry about, the first known big-time Internet variety called MP3 Concept. It is being seen more as a proof of concept than a serious threat to Apple Computers. But experts do worry it could be a sign of bugs to come.
The markets closed today because of Good Friday.
Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, one of the toughest neighborhoods in the Sunni Triangle and home to Lieutenant Colonel Nate Sassaman -- a day in his life, a long day, after the break.
This is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: A year after the occupation of Iraq began, CNN's Nic Robertson returned to take stock. You can see his full report this Sunday in a one hour "CNN PRESENTS" special.
Tonight, an excerpt, life in the Sunni Triangle 12 months later.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lieutenant Colonel Nate Sassaman.
LT. COL. NATE SASSAMAN, U.S. ARMY: Two-zero-three-five-seven.
ROBERTSON: West Point quarterback 1985.
SASSAMAN: OK, all right, good, let's go.
ROBERTSON: Now hard-charging commander of 600 men tackling one of Iraq's toughest neighborhoods, Balad in the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad.
SASSAMAN: OK, Nic, this is where they fired from the other day right here.
ROBERTSON: A mortar position used by insurgents to fire on his base. (on camera): And you returned fire right away?
SASSAMAN: Yes, within five minutes. That's one of our rounds right there.
It's more of a show of force. It definitely galvanizes the community to rally around finding who these two folks or three or four folks are.
OK, what are we looking at right here?
ROBERTSON (voice-over): More persuasion is coming.
(on camera): In less than an hour's time, an F-16 is going to drop a 500-pound right here. And that is designed to send a message to the insurgents not to fire mortars.
(voice-over): Sassaman pulls his men out. But despite coordination with the Air Force, the F-16 will arrive before curfew. Sassaman warns local farmers.
SASSAMAN: We're having to drop a bomb right now for where they shot at us yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five-minute window, sir. They want to drop it now.
SASSAMAN: OK. They're good.
ROBERTSON: Pressed for time, Sassaman heads for base. As darkness falls on the way back, news over the radio, an Iraqi shot by Sassaman's troops. Within minutes, Sassaman is on the scene.
SASSAMAN: Did you find an exit wound, too? One he's got the I.V. going, I want him out of here. So, let's go.
Just another day in Balad. I'm going to tell you, it's wearing on me, and it's wearing on all the soldiers, too. We're -- you can tell -- 10 months. Some folks are tired.
ROBERTSON: Another pressure on Sassaman. The number of detainees suspected of aiding the insurgency is mounting. Through the day, more brought into to the primitive lockup. This rare glimpse of detainees reveals poor security.
The captives have full view of informers arriving to brief Sassaman's men. Some of the soldiers here on the edge. Another told us he wanted the prisoners to try to escape so he could shoot them. Since our visit, Sassaman improved detainee security. He's also been reprimanded for backing his soldiers and impeding an investigation when some of his men were accused of pushing an Iraqi off a bridge to his death in a river below. At the time of interview, Sassaman talked of the stress on him.
SASSAMAN: It is really hard being away. And I really feel for the kids. My son has lived with almost two years without a father. My daughter misses her dad. And then Marilyn (ph) and I are probably going to start over with some dates and then just getting to know each other.
ROBERTSON: Time to reflect, though, is rare. The sun's going down.
SASSAMAN: And then we'll go down to pediatrics.
SASSAMAN: But it's far from the end of Sassaman's 20-hour day, a visit to Balad Hospital, this one bringing him some joy.
SASSAMAN: Oh, I don't know if the kids should be eating that now.
When you invest a year of your life, when you have had a couple of your soldiers die on this soil, we have paid a high price. The final solution is Iraqis making those decisions for Iraqis. We just have to set the conditions, so that they can have long-term security and peace.
ROBERTSON: Nic Robertson, CNN, Balad, Iraq.
BROWN: Nic's full report, "Hope and Fear: Journeys in the New Iraq," premieres Sunday 8:00 Eastern time. This is a terrific piece of work. "Hope and Fear" this weekend on "CNN Presents."
Still ahead from us tonight, lines drawn in the sand, fighting until the end, amazing victories. Remember the Alamo? Well, maybe not as well as you might think.
We'll take a break first.
BROWN: So remember the Alamo? If you do from movie Westerns and TV serials, chances are you really don't. But wouldn't you know Hollywood has a refresher course opening in theaters today called "The Alamo," based on a true story, of course, only this time, a little less of the based on and a lot more of the true.
Here's CNN's Beth Nissen.
BETH NISSEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since 1915, there's been at least 12 movies on the Alamo, some produced by the biggest studios in Hollywood and starring some of the biggest Hollywood names. John Wayne directed and starred in the famous 1960 depiction of the historic siege, although the film had little to do with history.
FRANK THOMPSON, ALAMO FILM HISTORIAN: It is a total work of fiction. There is nothing in that film, not one line, not one costume, not one set, not one event, not one character that corresponds to historical reality in any way, shape, or form. NISSEN: Film historian Frank Thompson, who is author of five books on the Alamo, says it's the mythic version of the story that has usually wound up on film.
THOMPSON: The issue of historical accuracy has never really even been approached by an Alamo film. For some reason, they never want to tell the story as it happened in 1836.
NISSEN: The new film, he says, is different.
SASSAMAN: This movie is the first time that they've ever taken at least what we think we know about the Alamo very seriously at all.
NISSEN: Americans fiercely attached to the mythic version of the Alamo, meaning pretty much all Texans, will not find cherished iconic scenes in the film, like William Travis and his line in the sand.
THOMPSON: In the myth, he draws a line in the sand with his sword and asks that everybody who will stay and die with him cross over the line. I don't know of a serious historian who believes that this happened.
NISSEN: In the new movie, Travis doesn't draw a line, although he has a few lines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE ALAMO")
PATRICK WILSON, ACTOR: If you wish to stay here in the Alamo, then we'll show the world what patriots are made of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NISSEN: As for Davy Crockett, most previous Alamo movies depict him fighting bravely to the death at the mission.
THOMPSON: In the previous Alamo films, the myth always holds sway, Davy Crockett swinging his rifle, Old Betsy, until he's overcome by hordes of Mexican soldiers.
NISSEN: The new film draws on both Texan and Mexican historic accounts and documents in depicting Crockett's end.
THOMPSON: The only eyewitness account that specifically mentions his death is by a Mexican officer named Jose Enrique de la Pena. This is a hotly contested manuscript. But he says that Crockett was captured, brought before Santa Ana and then executed.
NISSEN: That doesn't change the portrayal of Crockett as a hero, just reflects the culture's changing view of heroism.
THOMPSON: I think we're just in a point of history where we don't really believe in the pristine hero, that we want to see human beings and how they act under pressure.
NISSEN: The greater care with historical fact, with authentic detail in the setting and the costumes only adds, say Thompson, to the core power of the Alamo story, a story that has resonated with every generation of Americans since before the Civil War.
SASSAMAN: It's all about courage. It's all about standing up against overwhelming odds. It's hard to look at this film without thinking of the situation overseas. Certainly, we have brave American soldiers who are fighting overwhelming odds. Every Alamo movie is about the time it was made, much more than it's about 1836.
NISSEN: One reason the story, the myth of the Alamo, endures.
Beth Nissen, CNN, New York.
BROWN: Morning papers and a tabloid story or two after the break.
BROWN: Okeydokey, time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world. We'll throw in a tabloid or two, this being Friday and this being a week where we need a something, don't we? It's been a pretty tough week.
"International Herald Tribune" published by "The New York Times" in Paris leads thusly. I don't know why I say. "Marines Pause, But Clashes Continue One Year After the Fall of Baghdad. Allies Shaken." And yet again, on the "International Herald Tribune," a pretty good picture on the front.
Couple of stories to point out. Just below the picture, "Berlin and Paris Step Back on Iraq." It's an analysis piece on how in this week of clashes and difficulties for the Americans, both the Germans and the French, the French government and the German government, have been pretty quiet, and in that way supportive of the American effort. And down at the bottom, "The Martha Stewart of China." Martha Stewart will make another appearance in the program in just a minute or two.
"Philadelphia Inquirer." We appreciate this, because, clearly, they haven't finished the makeup of the front page, but they got us what they could, so thank them for that. "Battles Erupt Across Iraq. Six More U.S. Troops Are Killed." This is how they will lead. This is the story I'll read first, though. "Emotion Grips Arnie and His Adoring Army. A Golf Legend Says Goodbye to Augusta." Arnold Palmer, a native son of Pennsylvania, played his last round as a tournament player at Augusta; 50 consecutive years he played there. People loved him when he started and they loved him today, I'll bet. Anyway, that's "The Philadelphia Inquirer."
"The Hartford Courant" leads, "Fighting Intensifies Across Iraq." They also put an Easter story on the front page. "The Faithful Walk in Christ's Steps." So they take a look at that as well in their Saturday edition. How we doing on time? I'm sorry, how we doing on time? Oh, OK, fine, if I keep asking, we'll finally get it down to a minute. "The Times Herald Record." "Why Are They Here? Assemblyman Goes Door to Door to Find Out Why Sex Offenders Are Being Dumped on the city." This is the Hudson Valley in the Catskills of New York.
And let me do this one. I love this one. This is "The Burt County Plaindealer" in Burt County, Nebraska. Get a shot of the picture on the front page here of these two kids. This is Sadie Brown (ph) and Hunter Gordon (ph). And they were at Herman Elementary School there in Burt County. And they had a little talent contest. Now, are those the two cutest kids you ever saw in your life? My goodness.
OK, speaking of adorable, "The Weekly World News" this week leads with Martha Stewart. "Inside Martha's Jail Hell." And then some of the items that Ms. Stewart will see. Also, it's kind of -- I guess it's Easter week, so they're doing some theological stuff. "NASA Space Probe Picks Up Message From God. Give Up Your SUVs. They're Polluting My Universe. I Approve of Same-Sex Marriage for Priests." God actually said these things. "And Mel Gibson's Passion Movie is Right on the Money." That's according to "The Weekly World News."
They have a couple of political stories. "Bush Proposal to Beat Global Warming, A Swimming Pool in Every Backyard in America For Free." Sure. And just to show they will play with anyone, "John Kerry Is An Alien. No Human Has a Head That Long and Narrow, Says Doctor." There we go.
We'll see you next week. Have a wonderful weekend, a great Easter. Good night for all of us.
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