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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
Bush Backs Rumsfeld; What Is on Still Unreleased Abu Ghraib Photos, Video?; Interview With Janis Karpinski
Aired May 10, 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 everyone.
We are in a new home and for a few weeks at least on a new set. The news, sadly enough, remains the same.
On Friday on this page we talked about whether the pictures of the Iraqi prisoners should have been released at all. Tonight, the issue has moved beyond that to whether all those other pictures, perhaps even more sadistic and sad, should be released at all.
The discussion itself is somewhat academic, we think. Eventually they will be released. If we don't do it here, the Internet will have them. They will be everywhere. Everything is these days. And when they are released there will be more damage, though it's hard to imagine the damage could be worse than it already is.
The question of last Friday hasn't changed simply because there are more questions. The pictures and how the government decides to handle them will be part of how we are seen as a free and open society. It is always easy to be good in the easy times with pleasant news. The better test is the harder one and that is where we are again tonight.
So, the program and the whip begins with the pictures at the Pentagon and our Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre, Jamie a headline.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Pentagon officials are weighing the pros and cons of releasing more than 1,000 still images and a small number of video clips and today we got a little better idea of what might be on them.
BROWN: Jamie, thank you. We'll get back to you at the top tonight.
Next to the president's view of the man who runs the Pentagon and a few other developments from the White House, our Senior White House Correspondent John King with us tonight, so John a headline.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, a symbolic show of support by the president on Don Rumsfeld's turf at the Pentagon. Mr. Bush says he should stay and the president did see a small portion of those new photographs. His spokesman says he was disgusted -- Aaron.
BROWN: John, thank you.
On to the fighting in Iraq much of it on city streets from Najaf by videophone CNN's Jane Arraf, Jane a headline. We'll see if we can't fix that.
Finally to CNN's Kelli Arena on the reopening of a murder case that helped shape history. Kelli, let's try a headline from you.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It was a brutal crime against a 14-year-old boy, a crime that many say sparked the American civil rights movement but despite all the attention there was never a conviction and some say never even a real investigation. That is about to change -- Aaron.
BROWN: Kelli, thank you. We'll get back to you and the rest shortly.
Also coming up on the program tonight the power of pictures and their staying power down through the years.
Plus, the controversy over adding another name to the Vietnam wall in Washington, do the circumstances of his death change anything?
And perhaps some relief in store from a certain rooster, even in the new building the rooster is pretty darn excited to be here as we all are hoping that everything works, all that and more to come in the hour ahead.
We begin tonight on the verge of what looks like to be more ugliness in the prison abuse story, more complications to say the least. With the first court martial now a little more than a week away, a report made public today from the International Red Cross calls the abuse systemic, in other words not simply the work of a few bad actors, as you'll hear the president say in a moment but damaging as that may be in the long haul, the short term problem remains the pictures and what to do about them.
Two reports tonight, beginning with CNN's Jamie McIntyre.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): Sources say the Pentagon is considering whether to release more than 1,000 images, as well as a small number of short video computer files known as MPEGs. While many are described as innocuous, several hundred pictures, 200 to 300 by one estimate document prisoner abuse, although sources say there are multiple images of the same event.
One official who has seen some of the digital video clips says they show "abuse and humiliation consistent with what is seen on the still pictures." Other Pentagon officials who have not seen the videos say some show "two U.S. soldiers, a male and a female having sex" with each other. Some of the worst pictures are said to show Iraqi prisoners sodomized with various objects, including chemical light sticks. Army Private Lynndie England, who is now pregnant and facing criminal charges, is seen in one photograph holding a leash attached to a naked Iraqi prisoner. Her lawyers say the photo was staged, taken to intimidate other prisoners, and that she was handed the leash and asked to pose.
GIROGIA RA'SHADO, ATTORNEY FOR PFC LYNNDIE ENGLAND: Those photos, many of the photos that you see involving our client, are staged. They're psychological operation photos. Those were instructed and the ones that specifically weren't instructed were inferred by the civilian intelligence people who essentially took control.
MCINTYRE: The first soldier to face trial does not appear in any of the photographs, Specialist Jeremy Sivits. Sources say he may have taken some of the photographs and may plead guilty in a plea bargain arrangement. His trial next week in Iraq will be open to news coverage.
(on camera): Pentagon officials are divided on whether to make the pictures public, some arguing their release will only further violate the Geneva Conventions against humiliating prisoners and possibly compromise future investigations but others, including some senior officials, say it's best to get it all out now instead of waiting for the inevitable leaks.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.
BROWN: The photos and what to do about them are but a part of the problem for the president. April in Iraq was a horrible month for American troops and there are continuing questions about troop levels, about post-war planning, and the cost of the war itself, none resolved.
Many of those questions lead directly to the office of the secretary of defense but, if the president is wavering in his support for Mr. Rumsfeld, you would never know it publicly.
Here's our Senior White House Correspondent John King.
KING (voice-over): A stand by your man moment at the Pentagon.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're doing a superb job. You are a strong secretary of defense and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude.
KING: Sending a strong signal of support was not Mr. Bush's only business. Before leaving, the president and his war cabinet reviewed more than a dozen classified color photographs of abuses, including inappropriate sexual behavior. Mr. Bush was described by his spokesman as disgusted and the administration is bracing for more political and diplomatic fallout when they become public. BUSH: Those responsible for these abuses have caused harm that goes well beyond the walls of a prison.
KING: In an armed forces radio and television interview, Mr. Bush described the abuses as isolated.
BUSH: The actions of a few will not be allowed to stain the honor of the mighty United States military.
KING: But the White House also concedes it was warned late last year as the International Red Cross compiled this report suggesting systemic abuses in Iraq.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're aware of some of the issues that the Red Cross raised and we've been working to address those issues.
KING: The fallout includes a big political toll on the president. Just four in ten Americans approve of how he is handling Iraq, a drop of seven points in three weeks and just 44 percent now say it was worth going to war, a drop of 12 points in two months.
DAVID GERGEN, FMR. WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: The problem for the president now is not only a warning flag flying over the war on terrorism but that events seem to be spinning out of his control.
KING: A little more evidence of the political fallout, the president's overall job approval rating now at 46 percent. That is the low point of his presidency. Just two months ago when voters were asked who do you trust to handle Iraq, President Bush or Senator John Kerry, the president had a 15 point advantage, Aaron. In our new poll today that advantage is gone, dead heat.
BROWN: Do they talk about polls at the White House and the meaning of polls or the significance of these polls?
KING: Well, we are almost six months from the election so they don't say, oh my God, time to panic but they see a trend. Over the past three weeks, the president's numbers have gone down, not just on Iraq, his overall approval rating. They have a problem here and they know it.
BROWN: John, thank you very much, Senior White House Correspondent John King.
We're joined tonight by the Army Reserve commander at the center of all of this. She might take exception to that. We'll ask her in a second. Brigadier General Janis Karpinski commands the 800th Military Police Brigade, which operated 12 prisons and prison camps in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib. It's good to see you.
BRIG. GEN. JANIS KARPINSKI, UNITED STATES ARMY: Good to be here, thank you. BROWN: A lot has happened over the last couple of weeks since your name first surfaced and this all first surfaced for most of us. What to you is the most significant event of the last couple of weeks?
KARPINSKI: I think the most significant event was the release of the -- to the public of the photographs that have been widely published now. That was a surprise to me. I was blindsided.
BROWN: You were blindsided by what because you had seen the photographs hadn't you?
KARPINSKI: I had but when I left the theater I was told that I was cleared of course and ready to go home and go back and de-mob and (unintelligible) and take leave and move on with everything and I knew that there were still people under investigation and actions still had to be taken with the results of the ongoing investigation so...
BROWN: I'm sorry. When you first saw those photographs, as I recall, it was back in January, right?
KARPINSKI: That's correct.
BROWN: It was late January. Did you say to yourself how could this happen or did you know in your mind how this happened?
KARPINSKI: I did not know how it happened and that's exactly what I said how in the world did this happen? How could anybody do such a thing?
BROWN: Did military intelligence ever come to you at some point and say, look your MPs are good people, we like them but we're running the show here and they should do what we tell them?
KARPINSKI: No. Nobody ever said that they were going to use them except for the detention of those in any other way.
BROWN: Did MI ever indicate that it was their prison not your prison in a sense?
KARPINSKI: After the official FRAGO (ph), the fragmentary order, the additional order that was cut in November, after that transferred prison responsibility for the entire operation to the MI command it was about a week later, a week and a half later when the operations officer came to me specifically at a prisons meeting at the Coalition Provisional Authority and said, you know that the MI Brigade commander does look at the operation of the entire prison as his responsibility?
BROWN: Did you question that?
KARPINSKI: I said are you talking about administrative responsibility and rating these individuals because that wasn't the understanding I had? He said well that's the way he understands it. He has control.
BROWN: When you see those pictures now, we've all seen them, you have these pictures of piles of naked people on top of one another or I think probably the iconic shot of all of this the guy standing on the box with the electrodes, all of that, do you see that you had a role in all of this or do you see something that you wish you could have stopped if you'd known about it? I mean what is -- where is your responsibility in this?
KARPINSKI: Well, the MPs were assigned to an MP company that was in a subordinate battalion of mine, so in terms of who those MPs belonged to for control or for assignment they belonged to a company that belonged to one of my battalions, yes.
But, when I looked at those pictures and when I continued to see those pictures, I don't think that there was anything that was improperly done because this wasn't something that was a violation of a procedure.
This was something they were instructed to do as a completely new procedure. I'm not sure that those MPs had ever been confronted with any instructions like this before.
BROWN: Just as quickly as you can, you've been in the center of an incredible swirl no matter what people may think of what happened over there and all the rest of it. How are you doing?
KARPINSKI: I'm doing OK but it has been a tough week and week and a half just a surprise around every corner it seems like but I think that a belief in the system continues to prevail.
BROWN: Thanks for coming in tonight. I know these things aren't easy to do. Thank you very much.
KARPINSKI: Thank you.
BROWN: Thank you, general.
Now on to the combat itself the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr today ordered his forces to launch a new offensive against American forces this a day after the fighting that left dozens of those same militiamen dead on the battlefield.
That for the most part isn't a battlefield really at all, reporting the story for us tonight CNN's Jane Arraf.
ARRAF (voice-over): Attacks from crowded neighborhoods, ambushes from alleys, here in Najaf the U.S. military is fighting the kind of sustained urban warfare it thought it would encounter in Baghdad but never did.
This mission on Sunday was to find weapons and kill or capture members of the Mehdi militia of radical Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. It doesn't take long for the militia to attack.
Rocket-propelled grenades fly at the 2nd Battalion's 37th Armored tanks and armored vehicles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there, it's live. It was just cruising along. It just (unintelligible) landed right there.
ARRAF: A loud speaker warns people to stay off the streets. Leaflets tell residents the U.S. is fighting only the militia and not them.
(on camera): We're in an armored personnel carrier in the middle of a crowded city. Major combat was supposed to be over more than a year ago but this seems like classic urban warfare with soldiers facing an enemy more dangerous than the Iraqi Army was.
(voice-over): The attacks can come from anywhere.
STAFF SGT. HENRY WATFORD, 2ND BATTALION, 37TH ARMORED REGIMENT: (Unintelligible) with the air-conditioner?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WATFORD: Keep an eye on that. It almost looks like there's a guy in there.
ARRAF: Often they come from places that are hard to fire into, especially in a city that's home to the holiest Shia shrines.
WATFORD: They're fighting dirty. It's easy to hide in a mosque. It's easy to hide in civilian crowds and not play by the rules.
ARRAF: The civilians often don't know the rules. After a few heart-stopping seconds he's allowed to drive away. These soldiers spent a year in Baghdad where they helped rebuild the city. There the biggest threat was roadside bombs and the attackers, mostly anonymous. Now they're back to actual fighting.
SPECIALIST MICHAEL PERRY, 2ND BATTALION, 37TH ARMORED REGIMENT: I'd rather be out here, you know, with a known enemy than having some coward trying to blow me up on the side of the road myself. I mean, you know, these people are fighting me face-to-face for the most part.
ARRAF: And although vastly outnumbered and outgunned they still keep coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coordinates are sending now. I can't them though. I can't hear (unintelligible).
ARRAF: It's yet another mortar round, no damage to the tank or to the soldiers inside but the militia's point clearly made.
ARRAF: And while that military campaign continues there's an important political development as well the United States has brought back, a new governor is appointed for Najaf. Adnan Zurefi (ph) originally from Najaf but most recently of Chicago and Detroit has come back under very heavy U.S. security to begin work later today -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jane is it possible, here again we have that expatriate problem, is it possible to know how much if any support he has among the people of Najaf?
ARRAF: I think they're really waiting to see what he actually does and to be perfectly blunt about it, Aaron, if he comes back and he can bring a lot of money with him and put people back to work then he will get some support.
But we've got to keep in mind the odds that he's under. He is going to a governor's palace that is still under mortar attack. He does not have freedom of movement. He doesn't have a staff. It is a very tough job that he is trying to take control of a very tough city he's trying to restore order to -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jane, thank you, Jane Arraf in Najaf.
Ahead on the program tonight, who knew what and when about prison conditions in Iraq? What a new report has to say about that. It's uncomfortable to read.
Also the search for justice for Emmett Till goes on almost a half century later.
From New York this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: The reality of the prison abuse story is that without the pictures there really would be little story, at least not the sort that would dominate the news for more than a week and counting.
The military announced in January that an investigation was underway and, while it was reported here and reporters were working on it, the story didn't really stick. Tonight more evidence that without the pictures there would be little fuss. The Red Cross has been complaining about serious and systemic abuse at the prison since the beginning.
Here's CNN's Ben Wedeman.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soon after U.S. forces reopened Abu Ghraib Prison last summer, Iraqis began to claim abuse of detainees was common. The Red Cross, Amnesty International, local Iraqi human rights groups and activists urged the coalition to investigate those claims.
Last month, Abdel Basset al-Turki resigned in frustration from his post as Iraq's Human Rights Minister. He tells of meetings with senior coalition officials, including Chief Administrator Paul Bremer, during which he raised concerns over torture and abuse in American-run prisons in Iraq.
The response, "I believe it was indifference combined with disregard" he told me. "Coalition officials were much more interested in documenting human rights violations under Saddam than in what has happened since" he says. Leanne Clausen of Christian Peacemakers tried working with the coalition to ensure proper treatment of prisoners.
LEANNE CLAUSEN, CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKERS: Coalition officials on the whole they were very cordial but they were generally not helpful. They either said that there really was not a problem within the system, that they were following all the Geneva Conventions that they felt obliged to follow.
WEDEMAN: A confidential report from the Red Cross, leaked to "The Wall Street Journal" indicate the group's concerns over mistreatment go back more than a year and aren't limited to Abu Ghraib.
NADA DOUMANI, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: The abuses at Abu Ghraib were not individual cases. Unfortunately, this looks more like it was a pattern and it has been occurring in other places too.
WEDEMAN: Coalition spokesmen insist they were listening all along.
DAN SENIOR, COALITION SPOKESMAN: But I can tell you when these complaints were raised and we looked closely at them, we pursued improvement of the situation, correction of any problems. This is something that's been going on that everyone has been involved with for a number of months.
WEDEMAN: Scant satisfaction for those who wait every day outside Abu Ghraib in the heat and dust for news of those inside or for detainees pictured in those now infamous photos.
(on camera): The consensus among human rights activists is that the U.S.-led coalition was unwilling to take their concern seriously until those photos emerged from behind these walls. And now with the abuse scandal snowballing they can only say we told you so.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, outside Abu Ghraib Prison.
BROWN: Back now to an aspect of the story that we've all had a hard time reconciling over the past couple of weeks. How do people who seem just like anybody else do what the pictures show them doing and, if they were ordered to do what they did, what made it so hard for them to say no?
Reports are only two refused. Of all the people who were at the prison only two said no. Nearly 33 years ago, Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues at Stanford University conducted an experiment that at the very least has an eerie resonance with the news of today.
The professor is recent past president of the American Psychological Association. He's been a professor at Stanford sine 1968 and we are delighted to have him with us tonight. Basically, I want to try and shorthand this. You set up a prison and you had some students as guards and some students as prisoners and in very short order you learned what?
PHILIP ZIMBARDO, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, we had set up a prison to run for two weeks and I had to terminate it after six days because it was out of control. What's really critical and I think the parallel with the Iraqi prison is that we knew that going into the prison our situation, we had selected boys who were normal and healthy in every way and we randomly assigned them to be prisoners and guards and we put them in so we had good apples to begin with.
We put them in this bad barrel of prison and what came out were corrupted young men. In our prison the parallels were our guards stripped the prisoners naked, put bags over their heads, exactly as in Abu Ghraib, enforced sleep deprivation.
These are things the guards thought of on their own, had them clean toilet bowls out with the bare hands and it was a gradual process. Each day it got worse and worse, so each day was a platform on which they built the creative evil of new things to do the next day.
BROWN: Just a couple of quick question on what you've said so far. But basically what you conclude is that it is not the character of the individual, these people may all be of wonderful character but the situation itself they are in that determines their behavior?
ZIMBARDO: Absolutely. That is the whole purpose of our study was to demonstrate how powerful situational forces can be sometimes to overwhelm the best and the brightest, to overwhelm personality when you're in a novel situation that you have a variety of social factors operating.
What was unique about our study we knew exactly what the subjects were like before they went in because we gave them a personality test. We interviewed them. They had no negative background characteristics because we eliminated that and what came out was at the end our guards were forcing the prisoners to engage in simulated sodomy, exactly as in this prison.
BROWN: That's unbelievable.
ZIMBARDO: And these are college students doing it to other college students.
BROWN: Is it necessary that, I guess it's not based on the study, that the guards see the prisoners as less than human or that they are dehumanized in some way?
ZIMBARDO: That happens automatically, yes. You can't do this if you see these as college students. You have to see it as dangerous prisoners. In fact, in our prison the guards didn't allow the prisoners to bathe, so they smelled badly.
BROWN: Yes. ZIMBARDO: They didn't allow them to go to the toilet. They had buckets in their cells so they urinated, defecated in this so the whole place smelled terrible and the guards began to think of the prisoners as animals, exactly as in the Iraqi prison where some of the guards reputedly said look at these animals. Look at the terrible things they're doing.
BROWN: Just one more quick question, is it, does it have to be a group? Does the fact that there is a group at play help determine the behavior?
ZIMBARDO: Yes. It very rarely happens when it's an individual. Where you have a group, you have group camaraderie. You have new group norms about -- that determine what is acceptable, what is appropriate and then the group puts pressure on one another.
You also typically have one or two people who lead the way. We call that social modeling. They're going to display, you know, the kinds of things that are now acceptable in that situation.
The other thing that happened in the Iraqi situation is you have a veil of secrecy, which actually cloaks all prisons, so nobody knows on the outside what's happening. Once the people inside know that they know they can get away with anything, including "getting away with murder" because there's no accountability.
BROWN: Professor, it was fascinating 33 years ago. It remains fascinating today. Thank you, sir. It's good to talk to you.
ZIMBARDO: Thank you and I hope the message gets carried to the public.
BROWN: It just did. Thank you, sir, very much.
ZIMBARDO: You're welcome.
BROWN: Coming up tonight on the program something we've heard a lot from viewers, why show these pictures at all? Jonah Goldberg joins us to talk about that.
And next the power of pictures down through the years, we'll take a break first.
This is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: As we said earlier, without the pictures, it is fair to say the story from Abu Ghraib would have been playing much differently tonight, if at all. It is, of course, not the first time pictures have trumped words in matters of national interest.
Here is our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST (voice-over): It was an image that compelled us to stop and look and think about what is happening to Americans in Iraq. It is an image that compelled us to stop and look and remember the cost of war and may have compelled some to ask if it is worth it.
And now it is once again pictures that compel us to stop and look and ask whether a handful of these images can overwhelm the fundamental premise of the conflict. Ever since Mathew Brady took his camera on to the battlefields of the Civil War, the power of the image over the word has been clear. The image can sometimes invoke a sense of triumph and purpose that 1,000 words cannot.
In another time and another war, they can invoke a sense of unending quagmire or a sense of suffering that overpowers abstract notions of strategy and tactics and geopolitics. And this power is not confined to battlefields abroad. The civil rights revolution was won in part because Americans could not accept these acts aimed at citizens asking for elementary rights.
Sometimes, images can trigger the beginning and end of a policy. Pictures of hunger in Somalia beckoned U.S. troops in. Pictures of American soldiers dead in 1993 pulled us out. And perhaps what is most remarkable is the still photograph, the motionless image that often proves most hypnotic. By freezing an event, it forces us to look more intensely.
(on camera): There is one more point we must not forget. We tend to look at these prisoner pictures and ask, how might they affect support for the war? How might they affect the election?
The far more troublesome question is, how might these pictures affect people thousands of miles away whose names we do not know, but who one day may remind us all too clearly of the power such images have to inflame, to enrage?
Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.
BROWN: Hard to dispute the power the photographs taken at Abu Ghraib. And from that power has sprung debate. There are those who believe the very power of the image is an argument for not showing them at all.
Jonah Goldberg is editor at large and columnist at National Review Online, contributing editor at "The National Review" as well. He joins us from Washington.
It is always nice to see you. And nice to see you tonight.
JONAH GOLDBERG, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": Thanks for having me.
BROWN: Take 30 seconds, if you will. You're an editor of a newspaper or a television network. You get these pictures. You decide not to run them. Why? GOLDBERG: Because the bad far outweighs the good in terms of the damage that they're going to do. I thought it was very interesting, in Jeff Greenfield's setup piece, he showed that renowned picture of the execution in Vietnam by General Loan that was taken by Eddie Adams of the Associated Press.
Eddie Adams confessed that that was probably the worst thing he ever did in his life, to take that picture, because it told exactly the wrong story and sent the wrong message and ruined a good man's life. I think often we think these pictures tell these deep truths, when, actually, often, these pictures don't. They actually tell the reverse.
BROWN: Do you to think these pictures tell a truth?
GOLDBERG: Oh, I certainly do they tell a truth. I think they tell -- they certainly capture something real. They certainly capture a certain level of outrageous behavior, immoral behavior on the part of some individuals. They also capture the unbelievable stupidity of some people in the chain of command who allowed these pictures to be taken in the first place.
But I have to say that if the media is even remotely correct in how they're reporting the impact of these stories and of these pictures, then the damage being done in terms in lives of American soldier, in terms of the future prospects of 26 million Iraqis far outweighs the ratings points or the Sturm und Drang and moral righteousness we're hearing from Capitol Hill and from the media.
BROWN: Let's set ratings points aside, because I'll go nuts, if that's the argument, honestly.
BROWN: But let's talk about whether or not if we know something -- in this case, clearly we did -- we know pictures will be damaging to the effort in some respect, will be damaging to the national interest in some respect -- and I think we can fairly argue these are -- should we then withhold them and -- that's easy -- here it gets harder -- if we do, where do we stop?
GOLDBERG: Well, first of all, I'm not advocating anything remotely like a new standard. This is a standard that photo editors and producers have struggled with for decades, when to show pictures and when not to show pictures. I'm not talking about censorship either.
I do think that, you know, one standard that you could have is, does it actually report news? And there is very little evidence that this was reporting actual news. This story was out. "The New York Times," CNN had reported on this already. Another standard would be, would releasing the pictures stop abuse that is actually going on at the moment? And, again, there is no evidence that I have seen that that is the case. This in many respects was purely sensational. And on Friday night, I know that you mentioned that, you know, that pictures increase our understanding of things. And I think that's often the case. But we don't use that as a standard to show pictures all the time. For example, one of the most raging national debates now is partial-birth abortion. I've never seen a partial-birth abortion live on television before, and for a pretty good reason.
We stopped seeing the pictures from 9/11 of Americans jumping off of the World Trade Centers. Within 48 hours, the major news networks in this country decided to stop showing it because they decided it was too disturbing. I saw so much context after 9/11 from Peter Jennings, especially, when Palestinians were celebrating in the streets after the 9/11 attack, and Peter Jennings went out of his way to call these isolated incidents, don't make a big deal out of it.
We got nothing like that from the media. We got full feeding frenzy with these pictures. And I think that the point is if -- there is real damage. And I'm just sort of shocked that I'm the only person who thinks this is a legitimate point to debate right now.
BROWN: Well, Jonah, that is probably not the first time that's happened. That's one of the guess we like about you is, you're an original thinker.
BROWN: We're always pleased to have you with us. Come back soon.
GOLDBERG: Thank you for having me.
BROWN: Thank you, Jonah Goldberg.
Later on the program, reopening a horrible case that helped launch the civil rights movement, the murder of young Emmett Till.
We'll take a break first. From a new home, this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: The Justice Department said today it is reopening an investigation into a murder that helped spark the civil rights movement almost a half a century ago, the case another reminder that pictures have always had the power to spur action; 14-year-old Emmett Till was taken from his uncle's home in Mississippi while visiting from Chicago. He was beaten and shot, his broken body left in a river. And for all of this, for allegedly whistling -- that's it, whistling -- at a white woman. Emmett Till's mother made sure the world saw what her son's killers had done and the rest became history.
Here is CNN's Kelli Arena.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Till's mother made the extraordinary decision to leave the casket open at her son's funeral in Chicago to allow the world to see the brutality of the crime committed against him.
REP. BOBBY RUSH (D), ILLINOIS: That photograph of remains etched in my memory, I can see it today in all of its detail. And I -- it incited me to get involved.
ARENA: Two white men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were charged and acquitted by an all-white jury. The next year, the two confessed to the killing of the 14-year-old in some detail in "Look" magazine. But because they had been acquitted, they could not be charged again. Both have since died, but recent documentaries have put the case back in the limelight and suggest that at least eight other people may have been involved. Five of those may still an live.
KEITH BEAUCHAMP, FILMMAKER: I was in Mississippi. And I realized I was gathering interviews that was not necessarily interviews. It was actually depositions, because the people to whom I was speaking with, it was the first time they had anyone come to them and ask questions about this case.
ARENA: The federal statute of limitations has passed, but state charges can still be brought. The Justice Department says the case will be reopened and federal resources committed.
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR CIVIL RIGHTS: We owe it to Emmett Till. We owe it to his mother and to his family and we owe it to ourselves to see if after all these years any additional measure of justice is still possible.
ARENA: Some legal experts say the odds of coming up with enough corroborating evidence to prosecute anyone are slim.
DAVID SCHERTLER, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You may be able to get more information about what really happened. Even if it doesn't lead to charges, it may tell us more about the crime.
ARENA (on camera): And setting the record straight is at least a start to addressing what has been called an ugly mark in U.S. history.
Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Ahead on NEWSNIGHT tonight, a casualty in the Vietnam War finally honored today.
We'll take a break first. Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: In Washington, perhaps no memorial has a greater hold on the contemporary American soul than the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the wall. To sit at the wall on a day like today, warm and sunny, and watch people come by is as moving an experience as there is in the capital. It is a reminder not just of the cost of war, but the human cost of war. There are more than 58,000 names etched there. And one more was added today.
BROWN (voice-over): Every spring, a handful of names are added to the wall, soldiers whose battle scars took decades to bring them down, the forgotten and the lost. Today, the name of E. Alan Brudno was etched onto this stretch of black granite.
ORSON SWINDLE, FTC COMMISSIONER: He was loved and respected by all of us for his tenacity, hanging on and fighting the good fight.
BROWN: Orson Swindle was held in North Vietnam for six years. One of his first memories was Captain Al Brudno reading a propaganda message over the loudspeakers.
SWINDLE: He said: The Vietnamese had treated me nicely for Christmas. They gave us a BFD. He said you know, folks, a big fine dinner. And I just cracked up. I was in the depths of despair, and everybody in the prison block. So we all in isolation cells starting chuckling.
BROWN: Brudno joined the Air Force to be an astronaut. In 1965, his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. For the next seven and a half years, his battle was to survive, survive with the help of other prisoners, some he only knew as a quiet tapping of code on the wall.
SWINDLE: It was just a remarkable thing to watch how one officer had just been beaten down to a bloody pulp and the others reached and grabbed him and held on and said: We're going to make it. Hang on.
BROWN: In a 25-page poem Brudno memorized in prison, he spoke of his pain. "Those 'civilized' fools broke all human rules, so sadistic, so cruel, so brutal. In the darkest of hours, when a proud soldier cowers, those torturers made living seem futile."
He held on. In 1973, the POWs came home and Brudno came home with them. Only weeks later, he took his own life.
BOB BRUDNO, BROTHER OF ALAN: He gave up. He couldn't -- he couldn't cope with his freedom.
BROWN: As a rule, the names of those who commit suicide after their return are not engraved on the wall. But Bob Brudno felt his brother had really been killed in Vietnam.
BRUDNO: You have to understand, this was not post-traumatic stress disorder. This was -- this was seven and a half years of trauma, of an enemy that was attempting to break him physically and mentally with everything they had.
BROWN: The Defense Department agreed declaring that Al Brudno died as a direct result of the wounds experienced in the combat zone, deep, psychological wounds. So today, this man who dreamed of escaping the Earth and instead spent years locked in the dark joins his comrades in the warmth of the springtime sun.
BROWN: We'll take a break. Morning papers after.
BROWN: Okeydoke, time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world. New building, new set, new cameras. We'll see how this works. We're going over here, right?
We'll start with "The International Herald Tribune," published by "The New York Times" in Paris. But you know that already. "Bush Hails a Superb Rumsfeld" is the lead. But this is a story I think will be interesting. It's a news analysis piece. I haven't had a chance to read even the one, two, three, four, five, six paragraphs. "To Restore U.S. Honor, Three Options." I want to know what they are and probably will find out in "The New York Times" tomorrow.
On to "The Christian Science Monitor." "Interrogation, War And Gray Zones" is their lead. But a couple of very good stories on the side. "Modesty Aside, Trudeau, Gretzky, Pamela Anderson, Canada Seeks Its No. 1."
I don't know who it would be. But, if you ask me, Trudeau and Gretzky have a leg up on this deal; "50 Years of School Integration. Brown's Promise Yet To Be Fulfilled." A nice time to remind you we'll be in Topeka next week for the anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education. And this Brown's promises are always fulfilled.
"Philadelphia Inquirer." "Bush Stands Firmly By Rumsfeld" is the lead.
This is a new paper. I'm not sure I get this. But it's the New York edition of "Metro." I guess this goes on in other cities as well. "Detained By Mistake. U.S. Reports Up to 90 Percent of Iraqi Prisoners Wrongfully Arrested." That's pretty good lead. Have to read that tomorrow morning. "The Detroit News" -- or "The Detroit News," as we say. Why did I say it that way? I have absolutely no idea. "Red Cross Warned About U.S. Brutality" is the lead.
I'm just learning to do this, folks. This is a very good story. "Axle CEO" -- this is the American Axle company" -- "To Big Three: Change Now or Die," arguing that the auto industry is in terrible shape.
Quickly, two more. "The Boston Herald." "Rumsfeld on the Ropes." Not so sure about that. "President Outraged By New Torture Pics."
And, finally "Chicago Sun-Times." "Daley Pushes for Chicago Casino" is the headline. Emmett Till makes the front page also. He's a Chicago kid. And the weather tomorrow is "complicated." Isn't it always?
We'll be back in a moment.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: Before we go tonight, a moment to note the passing of Alan King. He died yesterday of cancer in New York. He was 76.
Alan King did observational humor. Seinfeld perfected it, but Alan King just about invented it. He was Seinfeld before Seinfeld. And as host of the Academy Awards, Billy Crystal before Billy Crystal and a whole lot of other people too. But, as it turned out, it took a while for Alan King to invent himself. We're glad he did.
ALAN KING, COMEDIAN: According to their claims, the only way you can get any money is if the house is robbed while it is burning down.
BROWN (voice-over): You would hardly mistake him for middle America. Never take him for a rube. Impatient, put upon, the humor like the man was born of a place edgy as a Brooklyn corner, where a one-liner was as good as a one-two punch.
But it wasn't until he stopped cracking jokes about the corner that Alan King, born Irwin Alan Kniberg, became Alan King. "I was talking at my audiences," he said. But he began talking to the audience, telling stories. The audience responded and grew, 56 appearances on "Ed Sullivan." Only Topo Gigio had more. Then roasts and Vegas and HBO and books and movies and tennis. Always, there was tennis.
And when the spotlight faded, it faded gently. The edges got smoother. The stories got better. And in 50 years, he was never a has-been. Alan King was and is and always will be a timeless.
BROWN: He died at 76.
Quickly, a look ahead to tomorrow's "AMERICAN MORNING." Here is Bill Hemmer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Aaron, thanks.
Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," an exceptional journalist and a real Sunday morning heavyweight, Tim Russert, moderator of "Meet the Press," talking about his new book. It's called "Big Russ and Me." It looks at his roots in Buffalo, New York and his larger-than-life father. And, of course we'll get his take on the Iraq abuse scandal and election 2004.
Tomorrow morning, 7:00 a.m. Eastern time, here on "AMERICAN MORNING." Hope to see you then -- Aaron.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Bill, thank you.
Good to have you with us from our new home at 1 Time Warner Center right here in New York City on the edge of Central Park. It's like the first day of school for us.
We'll see you tomorrow. Until then, good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT.
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