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American Civilian Beheaded; General Taguba Testifies on Capitol Hill

Aired May 11, 2004 - 22:00   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again everyone.
Again tonight, much to report on the Iraqi abuse scandal and, while we can never be sure, one example of the fallout, the murder of Nic Berg, his killers say it was a result of the abuse the Iraqis suffered.

How exactly the beheading balances things out I'll leave to someone far smarter than I. The fact is these guys never need a reason to kill Americans, hostages or otherwise. If it is in their interest, and it is sick to think that killing an American in Iraq is in anyone's interest, but if it is they would have done it anyway. Danny Pearl was murdered and what exactly was the reason for that?

With the why tonight unknowable for now, David Ensor starts us off with the what of it all, David the headline.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nic Berg gave his name. He gave the names of members of his family and he said where he was from and then, as you know, they butchered him.

BROWN: David, we'll get back to you with the details that we can report here.

On to the Pentagon, testimony today from the general who compiled that stinging indictment of the abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. Our Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre with us, Jamie the headline.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a command performance for Major General Antonio Taguba and the main question to him from many Senators was who ordered the softening up of those Iraqi prisoners who were abused? His surprising answer as near as he could tell no one.

BROWN: Jamie, thank you.

Next to the White House and tension between damage control and getting out the rest of the administration's message. Our Senior White House Correspondent John King with us, so John a headline.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, the administration clearly on the defensive over all of this. A curious echo today from the vice president and the secretary of defense. They say the administration found these abuses and is looking into them and deserves credit not blame -- Aaron.

BROWN: John, thank you. We'll get back to you and the rest shortly.

Also coming up on NEWSNIGHT tonight another disturbing chapter in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, the alleged victims this time deaf children.

And later, the hottest new trading cards for children in a corner of the Middle East but these aren't baseball superstars. Instead, these cards show Palestinian suicide bombers, among other so-called martyrs.

All of that plus all the news that will be fit to print tomorrow. The rooster arrives with a quick look at your morning papers, all that and more in the hour ahead.

We begin tonight with the worst fears realized or maybe surpassed. Since the photographs from Abu Ghraib surfaced the question has never been will there be fallout.

The only uncertainties were how bad and how widespread the fallout will be and today we got a sense of how bad, how brutal when a Web site with ties to al Qaeda showed the beheading of an American. The victim's captors issued a warning to President Bush. The worst they said is yet to come.

We begin tonight with CNN's David Ensor.


NICHOLAS BERG: My name is Nic Berg. My father's name is Michael.

ENSOR (voice-over): "My name is Nic Berg" says the 26-year-old American civilian on the tape. Then he names his parents, his brother and sister and his hometown.

Standing behind Berg, who disappeared April 9, one of five hooded terrorists reads a statement referring to the controversy over abuse of prisoners by American soldiers.

"The dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib Prison is not redeemed except by blood and souls." The speaker promises coffins after coffins and then on the tape the last cry of Nic Berg is heard as his head is cut off with a knife.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's terrible. It's tragic. It also shows the stark difference between America and these barbarians.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We're dealing with an enemy that has absolutely no boundaries that's despicable in every way and really behaves like animals in the name of God.

ENSOR: The Web site claims that the killing was done by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist whose al Qaeda affiliated group is held responsible by U.S. intelligence for a string of bombings in Iraq and for the killing of an American diplomat in Amman. CNN Arab linguists say, however, that the voice on the tape has the wrong accent. They do not believe it is Zarqawi. U.S. officials said the killers tried to take advantage of the prison abuse controversy to gain attention.

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think we need to understand that Zarqawi or none of the other terrorist leaders have needed in the past any particular provocation for their deadly destructive designs and conduct.


ENSOR: On the tape, the hooded terrorist claims they offered to exchange Berg for Iraqi prisoners held in Abu Ghraib Prison. U.S. officials say they don't believe that. They know of no such offer -- Aaron.

BROWN: So, the administration said today we'll track these people down. We will get them beyond, I guess, this belief that Zarqawi somehow was involved. Are there any clues out there that we heard about?

ENSOR: This is going to be very, very difficult. They've been looking for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for several years now. There's a large price on his head. He's been blowing up a lot of things in Iraq according to him and according to U.S. intelligence. They don't know where he is, so it's -- I don't think they have any clues right now, at least none that I know of -- Aaron.

BROWN: David, thank you, David Ensor our National Security Correspondent tonight.

The grieving has begun now, of course, in another American hometown. This time it is West Chester, Pennsylvania where a candlelight vigil is being held tonight for Nic Berg outside his family's home. They have been told that his body is in Kuwait and may be returned home as early as tomorrow.

Mr. Berg had gone to Iraq to look for work. His first trip there went well enough it seemed that he returned for a second time in mid- March, just weeks before the killings of four civilian contractors in Fallujah. He had been missing for more than a month when his body was found over the weekend by an Army patrol in Baghdad.

With more on Mr. Berg here's CNN's Maria Hinojosa.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tiny photograph of 26-year-old Nic Berg is taped to the old mailbox of his neighbor's home in suburban Philadelphia. Inside the home though there was only anguish. His parents were informed of his death Monday but didn't know it had been videotaped by his executioners until Tuesday. BRUCE HAUSER, NEIGHBOR: The Berg family is devastated by this loss. They wish to extend their sympathies to the other families who have also suffered.

HINOJOSA: Family and friends describe Nic Berg as smart, funny and idealistic. Back in late December he decided to go to Iraq to look for work repairing communications towers but his reasons for going appear to be more than just for money or adventure according to his father, who spoke on Sunday, before he knew of his son's death.

MICHAEL BERG, FATHER: But he just really wanted to be part of something that was important. He supported the administration's being in Iraq. He supported everything that they were doing and he wanted to help and he wanted to help in a positive way by building rather than breaking down.

HINOJOSA: Nic Berg stayed in Iraq until February 1. Then he went back again on March 14. Unable to find work, he planned to come home calling his parents every day as his departure neared.

Then on March 24 communication ended. Within days the FBI showed up at this house and told the Berg's their son had been picked up by the Iraqi police in Mosul and was transferred to U.S. authorities. That was all the information they got.

Frustrated, the Berg's went to federal court and sued Donald Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense for holding their son without due process. The next day, April 6, Berg was released. He told his parents he would try to get out of Iraq as fast as he could but after April 9 there was no further word from him.

(on camera): The Berg family was told by the State Department that the body of their son is in Kuwait and could arrive in the United States as early as today.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, West Chester, Pennsylvania.


BROWN: Nic Berg was taken captive during that rash of kidnappings last month targeting foreign nationals. On the day he disappeared, the 9th of April, a convoy carrying seven American contractors and two U.S. soldiers was attacked on the outskirts of Baghdad, several of the passengers taken hostage.

Contract worker Thomas Hamill managed to escape his captors. Private First Class Keith Matt Maupin was last seen in this video shortly after his kidnapping. Tonight his whereabouts remain unknown. He lives outside Cincinnati where his family continues to keep vigil.

The video showing the murder of Nic Berg surfaced as the Senate was holding its second hearing on the prisoner abuse scandal. The star witness today, Major General Antonio Taguba, whose 53-page report describing the abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison has become the centerpiece of this story. Who, if anyone, order the abuse? How far up the chain of command might this have come from? Those were questions high on the list of the Senator's questions.

Reporting the story for us tonight, CNN's Jamie McIntyre.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): The abuse of Iraqi prisoners was the result of individual, not institutional lapses according to the Army general whose investigation earned him a command performance on Capitol Hill.

MAJOR GEN. ANTONIO TAGUBA, U.S. ARMY: Sir, we did not find any evidence of a policy or a direct order given to these soldiers to conduct what they did. I believe that they did it on their own volition.

MCINTYRE: Taguba faulted the leadership at the prison, beginning with the military police brigade commander Brigadier General Janis Karpinski and the military intelligence brigade commander Colonel Thomas Pappas but went no higher.

TAGUBA: Failure in leadership, sir, from the brigade commander on down, lack of discipline, no training whatsoever and no supervision.

MCINTYRE: Pappas, the intelligence brigade commander, was given tactical control of the prison last November but the Pentagon denied that gave him command of the prison guards.

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: What exactly does that mean? How do you have control over a facility but not the people who are running it?


BAYH: Were they in charge of the plumbing or the...

CAMBONE: No, sir. Well, in the same way that you have a building supervisor who doesn't tell the tenants how to do their business.

MCINTYRE: A lawyer for one of the accused claims this picture of abuse shows prison guards working with military intelligence personnel despite Taguba's findings that there were no orders to the guards. Senators question the idea that this was simply a result of informal low-level cooperation.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: The collars used on prisoners, the dogs and the cameras did not suddenly appear out of thin air. These acts of abuse were not the spontaneous actions of lower ranking enlisted personnel who lacked the proper supervision.

GRAHAM: The people that we're charging are going to say this system that we see photographic evidence of was at least encouraged, if not directed by others. Do you think that's an accurate statement?

TAGUBA: Sir, I would say that they were probably influenced by others.


TAGUBA: But not necessarily directly specifically by others.


MCINTYRE: Under pointed questioning from the Senators, General Taguba conceded that the failure in leadership was not simply a lack of oversight but a willful determination to make abuse part of the interrogation process but who was really behind it? That's still under investigation -- Aaron.

BROWN: So, after all was said and done today we still don't know, do we, how high in the chain of command this all goes?

MCINTYRE: No, because that's the subject of basically investigation number six. In fact, General Taguba, while his performance was pretty interesting, didn't go much beyond what he said in his report.

In fact, since he completed his investigation he hasn't really learned much. So, he spent most of the time explaining what he had already reported in his 53-page report and saying that he didn't go beyond General Karpinski. He didn't ask anybody above that level of the chain of command about their responsibility. That's something that's going to have to be left to some of the other investigations.

BROWN: And so we'll wait on those I guess. Jamie, thank you, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

A quick note here as well. Tomorrow all members of the Senate will have a limited chance to see the photos the Armed Services Committee has already seen. Members of the Senate will have three hours to do it. Security, as you can imagine, will be very tight.

Also earlier tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE," CBS' Bob Schieffer said that the next edition of "60 Minutes II" will feature a piece on other alleged abuse at another prison in Iraq.

In all there were many truly fascinating moments on the Hill today. A bit later in the program we'll give the general's testimony a somewhat fuller treatment, the questions asked, the answers given. That comes up later in NEWSNIGHT tonight.

We've said before the Iraqi prisoner abuse story is full of gray areas in spite of the all too vivid photographs that document it. One of the grays stems from a simple fact. Prisoner interrogation is inherently adversarial. One side wants information and the other side may not want to give it up. So, how far can you go to get it? How far should you go?

John Mearsheimer is a West Point graduate who served in the Army and the Air Force. He's co-director of the Program for International Security Policy at the University of Chicago. The professor joins us now. We're glad to have him with us.

This question, this sort of opening question comes up a lot in the e-mails that we get, so I'll throw it out at you. Is the country, the United States, being held to a higher standard than everyone else in the world?

JOHN MEARSHEIMER, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: No, I don't think the United States is being held to a higher standard. There's one standard in the world. There's a set of norms out there that are largely codified in international law, especially in the Geneva Conventions that saw how we should treat prisoners and when we talk about "we," we're talking not only about the United States but other countries as well.

And the fact of the matter is that the American military in Iraq failed to live up to those norms and we're not being held to a higher standard. We're being held to the normal standards that every country is held up to.

BROWN: Do you think that if it turns out there was an absence of explicit orders to humiliate or torment or torture, if those are the right words, that there was an implicit decision made to do what needed to be done to get the information that these people may have had?

MEARSHEIMER: Well, explicit versus implicit is probably too black and white. The question is how implicit are the orders likely to be from higher on up to the people down below who committed these crimes? And, without seeing any detail, what exactly the orders, the implicit orders look like is very hard to say exactly how much guilt we should allot to people on top.

But it does seem to be to be quite clear that this is going to go pretty far up the chain of command and there is going to be reasonably clear evidence that people pretty far up were encouraging people down below to misbehave.

BROWN: Take the event of today, this videotape of the beheading of the young American from Pennsylvania, whether it is specifically that or the events in Fallujah or 9/11 or a whole lot of other things that have happened over time, how do they play do you think in an individual soldier's or in an individual officer's willingness to tolerate what might otherwise might be considered really inappropriate?

MEARSHEIMER: Well, anytime you have a situation where GIs are in charge of prisoners, there's real potential for trouble and that's first of all because you have a real power asymmetry. The GIs have almost total control over the prisoners.

Furthermore, GIs by definition are involved on a day-to-day basis in the management of violence. That's their business. So, using force is not something that's foreign to them and then they have people who are under their control who are the enemy and, in this case, the senior levels of the Bush administration have gone to great lengths to portray all enemies as terrorists as the ultimate evil.

And when you have a situation like that the potential for serious trouble is going to be very great and, therefore, it's not at all surprising that this problem has manifested itself.

BROWN: Just quickly if you can then, if in a war zone where you have lots of prisoners, if it's not soldiers guarding them who is it?

MEARSHEIMER: Well, it is going to be soldiers guarding them and what needs to be done is that the higher-ups have to go to great lengths to make sure that there's no abuse. That should be true in all cases but it's especially true in this case.

It's really hard to believe that the civilians in the Pentagon and the higher echelons in the military didn't monitor this situation very carefully because if things went awry, as they have, the consequences are just catastrophic.

It's hard to see how we're going to fix this anytime soon and today we saw the first ramification of these events and it's probably going to get worse with time I'm sad to say.

BROWN: There is that feeling out there tonight. Professor, thanks a lot for joining us very much.

MEARSHEIMER: You're welcome.

BROWN: Thank you, sir.

U.S. troops continue now to battle the forces of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr near the Iraqi city of Najaf, south of Baghdad. At least 13 of al-Sadr's militia were killed in the fighting today but there are hopes still there will be some sort of political solution to all of this, though that's been said many times over.

A new coalition appointed governor spent his first day in Najaf meeting more than 70 tribal and religious leaders from the area.

Reporting the story again from Najaf is CNN's Jane Arraf.


JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: A returning son to Najaf, tribal leaders welcome Adnan al-Zurufi on his first day as governor of the troubled city. Zurufi studied Islamic law in Najaf but became a refugee after the failed 1991 Shia uprising. He spent most of the past decade in the United States.

Along with the sheikhs' welcome though words of warning for the 38-year-old appointed by the coalition.

"We risk civil war, one against the other" Wahid Ali Sawi (ph) tells him. "Right now everything is at a standstill, agriculture, trade, construction, hospitals, electricity, security. This is a desperate situation" he says. Zurufi asks the sheikhs' help in dissolving the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr and seems ready to reach out to the young Shia leader telling us the coalition's threats against him are counterproductive.

ADNAN AL-ZURUFI, GOVERNOR OF NAJAF: (Unintelligible) leaders in Najaf and these are from famous families. We don't need to use this word killing or arresting and if we have a problem or disobey law there is a certain way to resolve that. I talked to him about that.

ARRAF: The previous occupants of this office haven't lasted long in the job. The first U.S.-appointed governor was sentenced to 14 years in prison for kidnapping and embezzlement. The second was out of the country when Muqtada al-Sadr's militia took Najaf and hasn't come back. The office itself has come under attack.

(on camera): The governor isn't just a building, it's a symbol. It was taken over by U.S. forces just a few days ago. Almost every night the Mehdi militia has fired mortars into it.

(voice-over): The coalition's top official here surrounded by security says they chose al-Zurufi for his integrity and his anti- Saddam credentials as one of the leaders of the failed Shia uprising in 1991.

PHIL KROSNETT, COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY: After the intifada was defeated he went to the states without any money or any English and became a successful small businessman and he gave that up to come back to Najaf at great personal risk to try to help the city and the region that he loves and I think people respect that.

ARRAF: The respect will be even greater if this once refugee, now governor of Najaf, manages to play a role in saving the city.

Jane Arraf, CNN, Najaf, Iraq.


BROWN: Ahead on NEWSNIGHT tonight, President Bush and the prison abuse scandal, how an administration known for its control for staying on message is trying to get its arms around this mess.

And violence in Gaza today, new violence by a new method, one that might have its roots in Iraq.

We'll take a break first. From New York this is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: A long time ago, a year or so, Jeff Greenfield poked some fun at those backdrops that follow the president around the country whenever he gives a speech, reformer with results they might say or jobs and security that sort of thing. So, even if you watch without the sound you get the message and those signs haven't gone anywhere, not exactly, but they have been upstaged.

Here's our Senior White House Correspondent John King. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING (voice-over): Education was the president's focus in Arkansas, not a mention of the prisoner abuse scandal, though this standard speech line jumps out these days.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: See, we believe in the dignity of every human being.

KING: Every president likes to control the agenda and every president learns there are limitations.

JOHN PODESTA, FMR. CLINTON WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He wants to, you know, try to focus on his, you know, whatever his message of the day is from a campaign perspective but I think as long as the story is around it's going to dominate the headlines.

KING: It is a frustrating time for a White House that puts such a premium on what politicians call message discipline even when on defense. Part of the strategy now is to make the case the administration deserves credit not blame.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The military, not the media, discovered these abuses. The military reported the abuses, not the media.

KING: There are more pictures, ongoing investigations and, on top of the prisoner abuse scandal, continued fighting and political turmoil in Iraq, questions and uncertainty unwelcome ingredients for a president seeking reelection.

DAVID GERGEN, FMR. WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: We're in the midst of one of these major storms that comes into Washington periodically and there's a lot of lightning and thunder and people are, you know, and nobody knows who's going to get hit by the lightning.

KING: On Capitol Hill, the general who investigated the abuses said the blame lies with the soldiers directly involved, not in Washington.

TAGUBA: We didn't find any order whatsoever, sir, written or otherwise that directed them to do what they did.

KING: But administration critics are still focused higher up the chain of command.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The only way that we're ever going to get a clean sweep of this whole situation is to replace the secretary of defense.

SEN. THOMAS DASCHLE (D), MINORITY LEADER: As Harry Truman said, "the buck stops here," and certainly the buck stops with the commander-in-chief.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Now senior officials here believe that for the most part General Taguba's testimony supported the president's view that these abuses were the isolated acts of a few.

But with Secretary Rumsfeld due back on the Hill tomorrow, the continuing debate over releasing more of these horrific pictures and so many more unanswered questions, Aaron. They know here at the White House we are still in the very early stages of an unpredictable and, as we learned today, sometimes horrific drama.

BROWN: Do they, John, believe that the impact of this overall will force them to change course whether they acknowledge they're changing course or not? That's a whole different question but do they see the impact as such that they'll have to?

KING: Well, changing which course would be the question. Of course they've already changed course when it comes to the political transition in Iraq. It is the United Nations largely calling the shots, although we still do not know, so close to the June 30 deadline, who exactly will take over sovereignty in Iraq when that happens.

As for the abuse scandal, they say now they are purging and looking everywhere in the prison system to see if there are any other problems. The biggest question in the short term, do you release these other horrific images which in some cases are worse than what we have seen so far?

Many members of Congress tonight and some administration officials say if you release them now will you have more? Whether you blame the photos or the prison abuse scandal for the Berg murder the terrorists certainly are doing that. If you release the photos, will you have more of that? If you try to bottle them up, will they leak out one, two, three at a time? It's a tough decision for the White House.

BROWN: It is a tough decision for lots of people. John, thank you, John King at the White House tonight.

More on the message, the damage and how the White House might get back to the first while containing the second if it can. As a correspondent at CBS News, Marvin Kalb watched Vietnam unravel and the White House grapple with Watergate.

At the time the strategy chosen to deal with Watergate went by the name of the modified limited hangout option. We don't know the name of the one today but we do know we're pleased to see Mr. Kalb who has some thoughts on the subject. Welcome. Nice to have you with us tonight.

MARTIN KALB, JOAN SHORENSTEIN CENTER: Thank you, Aaron. It's good to be with you.

BROWN: I know you believe that we in the media were slow to come to the story. Will you give us this that until we saw the pictures, all of us saw the pictures, reporters, Congressmen, secretaries of defense, we didn't really understand the story?

KALB: We didn't understand the story and I think that everybody, you're absolutely right, including the president of the United States completely underestimated the impact that the story would have but you can't give the press a pass on this one and the secretary of defense is absolutely right.

There was an announcement at Central Command Headquarters that there was an investigation launched. Well, if there was that investigation, why did it take three months for the press to come up with the story? It is very easy to say that there are some (AUDIO GAP) but this was one that was waiting to jump out at you because there were so many people involved.

BROWN: Is it, do you think, I mean this is a criticism that we get a lot particularly from the left that we in the media generally have not been aggressive enough in reporting on bad news and that we have been too willing to accept the administration's message on good news.

KALB: Well, I don't know if that criticism comes only from the left but I think there is some value to that criticism because after 9/11 the press, being very much part of the American culture, believed that it was simply wrong to go after the president, wrong to go after the administration and in any case give the administration the benefit of the doubt and that is the fundamental underlying impulse working in the American media.

This is a perfect illustration of another case in which the -- in which the press was really very slow. This story is still owned for the most part by the "New Yorker" magazine and CBS' "60 Minute II."

BROWN: Let me ask you what I fear really is the money question in all this today. Given the events of today, the execution of this young American, given the likelihood that more pictures are not simply out there, but are going to come out, ought we publish?

KALB: Yes.

I think that everything ought to be published now. Everything ought to come out now. The American people are big enough to withstand just about anything at this point. There has been a steady drumbeat of incompetence on the part of this administration with respect to the postwar part of the Iraq episode. And it seems to me that the American people want to know, they deserve to know, what it is that is going on, everything.

As far as the rest of the world is concerned, they're going to find out about it anyway. So the best thing to do, the very best thing to do in my judgment is for the administration if it has information, more than it has released so far, let it all come out.

BROWN: And the ramifications are what the ramifications are.

KALB: So be it.

BROWN: Mr. Kalb, it's a privilege to have you on the program. Thank you, sir, for your time.

KALB: Thank you, Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you.

Coming up tonight on NEWSNIGHT, the headline out of Boston today, more allegations of abuse. This time, the children were deaf and the abusers, it is alleged, were nuns.

We'll take a break first. Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: It is a fact of life that bullies don't pick on the big kids, an ugly fact that pops up on playgrounds and ball fields and corner offices alike. And if it were only that, it would be a shame, but just one of those things. But it's not.

Victimization goes far beyond big kid, little kid or boss and worker. We have seen jailer and prisoner, lately, priest and child, and now nun and child. That's the allegation in a lawsuit filed today in Boston. The nuns in question ran a school. The children in question, adults now, are deaf.

From Boston tonight, CNN's Dan Lothian.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): They can't hear and they can't speak, but their hands talk volumes about alleged abuse by nuns at the now closed Boston School For the Deaf.

PATRICIA ARSENAULT, ALLEGED VICTIM (through translator): We all suffered. We were victims as children. And I couldn't speak up. I couldn't speak up.

LOTHIAN: Nine former students at the school, which closed a decade ago, are now suing at least 14 nuns with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, who worked at the school. They claim abuse occurred between 1944 and 1977. The alleged victims were between the ages of 7 and 16.

MITCHELL GARABEDIAN, ATTORNEY FOR ALLEGED VICTIMS: They were sexually molested, physically abused, and mentally tormented.

LOTHIAN: Some were allegedly raped, others fondled. One had his head shoved into a toilet. Even now as adults they say there are painful scars.

TAMARA MARCINUK, ALLEGED VICTIM (through translator): We were never happy. And I never had a peaceful life.

LOTHIAN: They are going public to finally confront what they say no one believed then.

JAMES SULLIVAN, ALLEGED VICTIM (through translator): We tried to tell our parents but our parents didn't accept our story because they said the nuns were good.

LOTHIAN: A priest, a former top official in the Boston Archdiocese and the former athletic instructor at the school are also named in the lawsuit, allegations that some of them neglected to supervise the nuns. An attorney for the nuns did not comment. Instead, CNN was directed to the Sisters of St. Joseph Web site, where a statement read: "We will begin an immediate investigation that will be fair and sensitive to all involved."

(on camera): Garabedian, the lawyer for the alleged victims, says this is just the tip of the iceberg. He currently represents more than 30 former students of the school, says he is still receiving calls from others and plans to file more lawsuits.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


BROWN: A few more quick items from around the country tonight.

Eagle, Colorado, first. After many, many hearings, it seems, and other court proceedings, Kobe Bryant finally entered a formal plea today. Not guilty, said the NBA star to charges he sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman who worked at the hotel where he was staying last summer. The judge set May 27 as the next date for the next pretrial hearing, trial probably late summer.

Onto the Texas Panhandle and the power of nature. A tornado blew through, hurting no one, but derailing a freight train. It happened near the town of Hartley, Texas.

The government expects gasoline to hit another record high price in June, $2.03 a gallon for regular on average nationwide. We'll pay more here. However, adjusting for inflation, as we like to do, we ought to point out that prices have indeed been higher in the years gone by, adjusting for inflation.

And a sweet moment at the medical center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Kate Gosselin is the proud and soon to be extraordinarily busy mother of sextuplets, three girls and three boys. And they're all doing fine.

Still to come on NEWSNIGHT tonight, more on the prison abuse scandal, what General Taguba had to say on Capitol Hill, a long listen.

A break first. This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.


BROWN: More on Major General Antonio Taguba's day before the Senate Armed Services Committee, but, first, a quick sketch of the man himself. He's the deputy commander of the United States 3rd Army, which part of the Central Command and has responsibility for Iraq, Afghanistan, parts of Africa and South Central Asia. The general is a 30-year veteran, starting in post-war South Korea. An Army brat, his dad decorated, a survivor of the Baton Death March during the Second World War. General Taguba is the second highest ranking Filipino American in the U.S. Army. And he was No. 1 man on the spot in the Senate today.


TAGUBA: The criminal acts of a few stand in stark contrast to the high professionalism, competence and moral integrity of countless active, Guard and Army Reserve soldiers that we encountered in this investigation.

At the end of the day, a few soldiers and civilians conspired to abuse and conduct egregious acts of violence against detainees and other civilians outside the bounds of international law and the Geneva Convention.

Their incomprehensible acts, caught in their own personal record of photographs and video clips, have seriously maligned and impugned the courageous acts of thousands of U.S. and coalition forces.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: In simple words, your own soldiers' language, how did this happen?

TAGUBA: Failure in leadership, sir, from the brigade commander on down, lack of discipline, no training whatsoever and no supervision. Supervisory omission was rampant.

And I don't want to speculate about anything about with regards to any knowledge of detainee abuse having not been reported or being reported up the chain of command. It was apparent in our investigation that these things were happening, but we were puzzled also at the fact, sir, that none of this stuff was going above the battalion commander level.

During the course of our investigation, there was clear evidence based on my interview of General Karpinski and Colonel Pappas that there was friction between those two commanders in the operation of Abu Ghraib.

The distinction was that who was in charge of when and at what time. They could not explain, so that's the context of the ambiguity of the order that was given to Colonel Pappas. It was clear that he was directed to be the forward operating base commander there for security detainees and force protection. However, General Karpinski challenged that and she noted that in her recorded testimony, point one.

I held her accountable and responsible, not exclusively and solely for the abuse cases there at Abu Ghraib, but the context of her leadership, the lack of leadership on her part overall in terms of her training, the standards, supervisory omission, the command climate in her brigade. Those are all in totality why I held her accountable and responsible.


BROWN: And as you heard on this program last night, the general takes exception to that.

Ahead on NEWSNIGHT tonight, child's play, it is not, playing cards that deal in death.

We'll take a break first. This is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: There were other images to test fortitude today.

In the Gaza Strip, fierce fighting erupted when Israeli troops and tanks entered Gaza City. In what the Israelis called a security operation, six Israeli soldiers and at least seven Palestinians were killed. While there have been many, many Palestinian deaths over the last few weeks and months, this is the biggest single loss for the Israeli Army in nearly two years and all the main Palestinian militant groups are claiming credit.

They also claim to have captured body parts, which they intend to use as bargaining chips in negotiations with Israel. One videotape broadcast on Al-Jazeera today showed members of the Islamic Jihad holding the head of an Israeli soldier.

Watching the scenes from Gaza and Tel Aviv and Fallujah can sometimes approximate looking in on hell, as if hell were simply a matter of so many killings over so much time in so many horrible ways. But what if it isn't? What if hell is a place where good exists in shape, but not substance, in childhood pastimes that are something else again?

From Nablus tonight, CNN's John Vause.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For children in Nablus, it's been all the craze for months, collecting cards to paste in an album or swap among friends. But these are not photos of football stars or baseball heroes. They're graphic, violent images from the Palestinian side of this bloody conflict.

"This is my favorite," Kareem (ph) told me, "because this boy was resisting the occupation when he was shot." For half a shekel, about 10 cents, children buy a set of four cards. They aim to collect all 229 to fill what is called the intifada album. Those who finish first can win computers, bicycles and Walkmans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is a photo of a Palestinian youth killed by the Israelis. His body is being carried by his friends.

VAUSE: Majdi El-Taher (ph) is the man behind the album.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We chose images that show everyday life of Palestinians in the intifada. We were sensitive not to use pictures that are painful for kids.

LOTHIAN: In this small factory, using an old printing press, Taher says they have printed an astonishing 15 million cards. There are plans for a new album by year's end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This book is writing our history. It reflects the daily lives of Palestinians, the pain of Palestinian children. And every person should be allowed to show their pain.

LOTHIAN: The album has been criticized in the Israeli media as encouraging a culture of martyrdom, turning children into suicide bombers. The publisher, though, says the popularity of the cards is a reflection of the experiences of Palestinian children growing up surrounded by conflict. And perhaps what is worse, he says, for many of these children, the only future they can see is in the cards.

John Vause, CNN, Nablus.


BROWN: Man, this is a tough night, isn't it?

Morning papers after the break.



BROWN: OK, time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world.

We'll start with "The Christian Science Monitor," three good stories. "Where U.S. Goes After Abu Ghraib. As Americans Brace For More Brutal Images and Testimony on Abuse Continues, War Support Drops and Talk Of Justice Grows" -- Peter Grier the writer. Also, in the middle of the front page, "Who Were They," a look at those who have died in Iraq, a very good story, that. But maybe the best story is down at the bottom. "More Iraqis Accept Their U.S. Trained Forces. Now People Are Beginning To Understand That Iraqi Forces Are Serving The Country." I'm going to have to read that. That's a pretty good -- that's a good news story on a bad news day.

"The Detroit News." "American Beheaded In Retaliation" is the lead. Down at the bottom, one of those stories that will come back to haunt, as they say. "Jobless Benefit Bill Fails. Kerry Misses Vote." The senator was out campaigning. The Democrats needed 60 votes to continue -- to pass an amendment to extend unemployment benefits. He wasn't there. He was out campaigning. I suspect we'll hear about that.

"The Philadelphia Inquirer" absolutely must lead this way. He's a West Chester, Pennsylvania man. "Tape Shows West Chester Man Beheaded By Captors in Iraq." Lots of different ways to headline this story. That's how "The Philadelphia Inquirer" did it. Here is how "The Boston Herald" did it. "Prisoner Abuse, Iraq Style." That's the picture that we have all seen too much of today, or a lot of today, and a pretty good headline for a tabloid. That's a very nicely written headline there.

How much time we got? None? Well, then I have to do this. "Chicago Tribune" -- or "Chicago Sun-Times." Quickly, the weather tomorrow is, "Bring it on." And "Walter Jacobson Says, 'I Wasn't Drunk.' He's one of the famous local news anchors of all time. And if he says it, I believe him. Why not.

We'll wrap up the day in a moment.


BROWN: Before we leave you for the night, a look ahead at tomorrow's "AMERICAN MORNING." Here's Soledad O'Brien.



Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," will the Summer Games be safe? The intense pressure on authorities in Athens, Greece, trying to make sure terrorists don't even get the slightest opening at the Olympics. What is happening behind the scenes? We're going to talk with one of the designers of an amazing $1.2 billion security plan. That's tomorrow on CNN, 7:00 a.m. Eastern -- Aaron, back to you.


BROWN: Thank you.

And we'll see you tomorrow. Good night.


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