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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Bill Cosby Offers Tough Love for Black Families; How Much Trial Coverage is Too Much?; Who Will Kerry Select for V.P.?
Aired July 2, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: Please stop it.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, HOST (voice-over): Bill Cosby has a message.
COSBY: We've got too many children in prison, children in prison.
O'BRIEN: A message some people want to hear.
COSBY: I couldn't care less about what white people think about me at this time.
O'BRIEN: And a message others don't.
COSBY: It's not what he's doing to you. It's what you're not doing.
O'BRIEN: Tonight, Bill Cosby on black America.
MARLON BRANDO, ACTOR: Stella!
O'BRIEN: Marlon Brando.
BRANDO: I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse.
I'm taking command of this ship.
Our immoral terror.
O'BRIEN: Perhaps the greatest actor of his generation.
BRANDO: I could have been a contender! I could have been somebody!
O'BRIEN: Tonight, Marlon Brando remembered.
O'BRIEN: Good evening. Thanks for joining us. I'm Soledad O'Brien. Paula is off tonight.
Bill Cosby is at it again. Yesterday, the comedian known for breaking down racial barriers in comedy and television once again turned a harsh spotlight on African-Americans.
His message was tough. His language was not pretty. Some say it's nothing they haven't heard before but, yet, when Bill Cosby says it, people take notice.
The question is did he go over the top?
O'BRIEN (voice-over): He's an American icon.
COSBY: To celebrate the most important day of the year: the first day of school.
PHYLICIA RASHAD, ACTRESS: The first day of school.
O'BRIEN: And he's delivering a dose of strong medicine again to the nation's black community.
COSBY: We've got too many children in prison. Children in prison. We've got too many young girls who don't know how to parent, turning themselves into parents.
Ladies and gentlemen, our little 8-year-old boys, 9-year-old boys having erections and only acting out that which they see and hear on some C.D.
O'BRIEN: At Thursday's annual conference of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Bill Cosby was direct.
COSBY: The more you invest in that child, the more you're not going to let some C.D. tell your child how to curse and how to say the word nigger is an acceptable word. You're so hip with nigger, but you can't even spell it.
O'BRIEN: Jesse Jackson supports Cosby's speech.
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Responsibility is a weapon and Bill was essentially saying we must stop recycling self- degrading, self-destructive behavior en route to achieving our basic civil rights goals of equal opportunity.
O'BRIEN: Bill Cosby has spoke before about the source of problems facing African-Americans.
COSBY: You can't just blame white people for this, man! You can't! Whether I'm right wing or left! Some people are not parents.
O'BRIEN: Cosby's points have not been universally embraced.
TOURE, "ROLLING STONE": But there is a deep generational divide that he's not taking into account. I mean, the word nigger is accepted among this generation. It is a term of endearment that we use in that way. So I mean, like, it's OK.
O'BRIEN: Big Cosby asking black Americans to turn the mirror on themselves and accept responsibility.
COSBY: You raise your right hand and become a parent and we have parent power. I'm out of here.
O'BRIEN: Joining us this evening to discuss Bill Cosby's statements, in East Hampton, New York, hip-hop entrepreneur and cofounder of Def-Jam Records, Russell Simmons. Nice to see you.
And here in Manhattan, civil rights activist, the Reverend Al Sharpton. Nice to see you as well.
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Thank you.
Russell, let's begin with you.
Bill Cosby says it's hip to use the "N" word but these kids can't even spell it. Do you think that he has a point, or do you think that he is essentially out of touch with today's youth?
RUSSELL SIMMONS, COFOUNDER, DEF-JAM RECORDS: Well, I'm more concerned with cursed ideas than I am cursed words. I think this is the best generation we've ever had, and it's our job to mentor them.
Sometimes, you know, I remember the jazz or blues or rock 'n' roll explosions, the adults didn't understand young people. And we still have that problem. But our job is to mentor them and do the best we can for them.
O'BRIEN: So when you hear the "NN" word that's not a problem for? You say this is the way the culture is today. Is that what you're saying?
SIMMONS: Well, no. I'm going to say semantics are not a big issue for me. That the real profanity is in the poverty and the ignorance that exists, not only in our community but in the trailer parks and all over the country. There's a struggle, and we need to address that struggle.
O'BRIEN: Reverend Sharpton, Bill Cosby's remarks, obviously controversial over the last couple of months. Does his position come as a surprise to you?
SHARPTON: No. First of all, I respect Bill Cosby. I think Bill Cosby was part of the vanguard that helped opened the doors for us. And I think, in many ways, he is concerned that we're prepared to walk through those doors that open other doors.
But having said that -- and I don't think you just beat up on young people without saying, therefore, we do what about it. Because a lot of young people do need to assume more responsibility, but then we ought to assume responsibility for a lot of young people who are trying hard, trying to excel, but society has not met them halfway. Where do we draw the line? And I don't want to see someone as great as Bill Cosby's words be used by those that want to do nothing about what they should do. For example, right here in New York City.
SIMMONS: Let me interject.
SHARPTON: Fifty-one percent...
O'BRIEN: Let him tell his story. Then you can.
SHARPTON: Fifty-one percent of black men in New York City are unemployed. That's not because they want to be.
So yes, men should take care of their family, but society ought to deal with what it continues to do in institutional bias. And I think we've got to sit down and be able to deal with the balance of the problem.
And I think that, if nothing else, we ought to thank Cosby for starting a dialogue. We ought to take the dialogue somewhere now.
O'BRIEN: Russell, what do you want to add?
SIMMONS: I agree with everything that Dr. Sharpton just said.
I think it's very important that we remember that there is a debt still. That, yesterday, I remember I got Run DMC on MTV, and no African-Americans were allowed on MTV.
And now, today, we see a dramatic change in relations between young Americans, where we see it's a totally integrated space on MTV, for instance, and we see opportunity that before was denied us. There is some now.
But the truth is there is a lot of damage done, and we don't want people to use Bill Cosby's word. And I agree that he's a great American and contributed a lot.
But we don't want him to use his words and forget that reparations -- we need to repair the past in different ways, whether it's for equal high quality education or other opportunities that we need in these communities. We have forgotten about -- even George Bush certainly has not addressed the war on poverty and ignorance.
O'BRIEN: So are you saying then -- forgive me for interrupting you.
SIMMONS: I think that we have to address -- I'm sorry, ma'am?
O'BRIEN: Are you so -- Gosh, don't call me ma'am. You make me sound old. Are you saying that...
SHARPTON: He called me doctor. So -- so...
O'BRIEN: Are you saying, though, that then his focus should not be on the bad parenting of impoverished people, black people? SIMMONS: My opinion is that there are more constructive ways to -- to help those people. And I don't want those words to be used against the idea that we should all be responsible. Personal responsibility for each of us to help uplift all those who are in struggle.
Some people will use those words and think that they should walk away from their obligation to help all of those people.
Everyone I assume -- everyone is doing the best they can at every given moment. That's a spiritual belief that I stick with, and I think that it's in all scripture.
O'BRIEN: Reverend Sharpton, what do you think is behind this? I mean, it almost sounds like Bill Cosby is setting this up for some kind of announcement of a foundation or a plan or a meeting.
SHARPTON: I don't know if this is about foundation, but we are going to have a meeting. We are going to deal with this. We need to have a plan, and I think that what he said can help inspire that.
You know, I say to people everywhere I go, preaching or in books or whatever I do, that if you're down, you can't get comfortable. You're responsible for getting up, even if you're not responsible for being down.
But what if people want to get up? You can't also have those forces in society that keeps them down. So there must be a balance in this.
And in a time that we're challenging government that has withdrawn a lot of the things -- I have two teenage daughters. When I was a teenager, you had ways of lifting yourself. Neighborhood Youth Corps, Manpower. None of that is there.
I don't want to see a distortion of Cosby saying therefore we don't need to have these training programs anymore, we don't need education budgets anymore; it's the kids' fault.
O'BRIEN: But didn't he...
SHARPTON: Yes, the kids must correct themselves but society must also accommodate that. We need to develop a plan for that.
O'BRIEN: Didn't he essentially say black people have to stop blaming white people for their problems?
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I think he said in specific areas like cursing and lewd behavior. But I think Bill Cosby and no one else in their right mind would not say that general society has to be more fair. There's still doors Bill Cosby can't walk in, and I think he'd be the first to say that.
O'BRIEN: Russell Simmons, we're going to give you the final word tonight. Bill Cosby, pointing a finger at -- yes? SIMMONS: Young people, let me say this -- young people -- well, the industry, the music industry. Tomorrow, Puffy is flying in with the Declaration of Independence to announce his Citizen Vote campaign.
Beyonce and Master P and Puffy and others hosted the summit in Houston and registered 25,000 voters. Will Smith hosted the summit in Philadelphia, and according to Governor Rendell, during that period there were 80,000 voters. L.L. Cool J. and others joined him there.
Eminem hosted two summits with Mayor Kilpatrick in Detroit. Twenty thousand people showed up, and he registered a number of voters.
All over the country, the hip-hop community is doing the best they can to support their community. So I think that this is the most active entertainment community America has ever seen. And you'll see that at the polls.
O'BRIEN: That's the final word tonight. Thanks, gentlemen. Russell Simmons, Al Sharpton joining us.
SIMMONS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: When we come back, the battle over cameras in the courts in the Kobe Bryant case. How much wall-to-wall trial coverage is too much?
O'BRIEN: Cable channel Court TV is leading the charge as media, including CNN, ask the judge in the Kobe Bryant case to allow cameras in the courtroom.
Court TV says it will use new technology that will edit out the alleged victim's name and require a one-hour delay in the broadcast. The network argues that the case is of national interest due to the high profile position of Bryant as a major sports figure.
But is the bar now too low for wall-to-wall coverage of trials? Here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Kobe Bryant, Martha Stewart, Robert Blake, Phil Specter and just added to the lest, Debra Lafave, the teacher accused of sex with a teen.
To paraphrase the once-arrested Frank Sinatra, this is a very good year for high profile court cases.
But are these cases primarily news or entertainment?
JOSEPH TUROW, ANNENBERG SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION: Everybody likes a good hanging.
FOREMAN: Joseph Turow at the Annenberg School of Communication.
TUROW: People want to pry into sensational celebrity or otherwise important people and their trials goes way back. The real question is what are people learning about the nature of the judicial process in a Democratic society?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's still alive. He's got a gun to his head.
TUROW: The answer, according to Turow, is almost nothing since huge or celebrity trials are so unlike normal legal proceedings.
The O.J. Simpson trial, for example, cost millions of dollars, lasted for months and took over the airwaves so rapidly, it surprised even news people. The man in charge of the trial's coverage for NBC now runs the Washington bureau for CNN, David Bohrman.
DAVID BOHRMAN, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: We knew there was this thing called Court TV. We had no sense, maybe until about halfway into the real trial, that -- that this was permanent. That this -- the intense interest that could be built around a trial, that, in fact, trials were going to be televised.
FOREMAN: The O.J. trial had it all: celebrity, mystery, violence. And Jeffrey Toobin, now CNN's legal analyst, watched it all. To this day, he makes no apology for widespread coverage of the legal troubles of public figures.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Some cases are easier to justify than others. I have no problem with O.J. Simpson, Kobe Bryant. When you get to something like Scott Peterson, I think it's closer to the line about whether it really is worth covering or not.
FOREMAN: The point? Scott Peterson is famous only because his personal difficulties have been all over TV.
Still, even critics who see such trials as primarily ratings grabbers, say real news can result.
TUROW: You can use trials for great purposes. If you can use a trial to explore relationships between the races, to explore relationship between the genders, how parents treat their kids, these can be jumping off points for incredible news.
FOREMAN: However, Turow says too often...
TUROW: It's clear that what's driving show trials is the show. What's driving celebrity trials is the celebrity. That's the beginning of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... money so he could have and he did!
FOREMAN: All this is not really new. The Lindbergh kidnapping trial in 1935 saw hundreds of reporters feeding the hungry public. (on camera) What is new is this. There are so many television channels these days, that competition for viewers is at an all-time high, and a big trial with a big name can bring big ratings.
BARBARA COCHRAN, RADIO AND TELEVISION NEWS DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION: The fact is nobody can get away today with doing stories that are boring, but important, because, you know, they've got the remote control in their hand. And if you cease to be relevant to them, they're going to go elsewhere.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Barbara Cochran and others suggest 9/11, the war on terror and Iraq have already pushed much of the perhaps gratuitous trial coverage off the air, but the debate goes on. Is this news or entertainment? And the jury is still out.
O'BRIEN: Joining us this evening, Court TV anchor, Vinnie Politan, and Stuart Fischoff. He's a professor of media psychology at California State University in Los Angeles.
Gentlemen, good evening. Nice to have you.
VINNIE POLITAN, COURT TV ANCHOR: Great to be here.
O'BRIEN: Thank you very much. Let me start with you, Vinnie.
Not to be cynical, but truly, how much of this argument and this fight to have cameras in the courtroom is frankly about money, about ratings, about the bottom line?
POLITAN: You're not looking at the big picture. This is the United States of America, you know? This is our system of justice. Shouldn't we be able to see it in action?
Courtrooms are open. Anyone can go down, go downtown wherever they live, Main Street USA, and walk into a courtroom. And that's what the camera is doing. The camera is going in the courtroom and showing the rest of the country what's taking place inside our system.
O'BRIEN: Stewart, what do you think is the biggest reason to keep those cameras out?
STUART FISCHOFF, PROFESSOR OF MEDIA PSYCHOLOGY, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, L.A.: I think the biggest reason is that research has shown that people react to the presence of a camera. It alters the way they experience themselves and they experience an event. And, in some instances, unfortunately, they play to the camera.
O'BRIEN: Do you think that's fair, Vinnie?
POLITAN: That's not fair. I'm a lawyer. I practice law inside courtrooms without cameras. At Court TV, I've covered courtroom cases that have taken place with cameras, and there's no difference. Lawyers will be lawyers. Some are more animated than others. You can have a camera in the courtroom and have the most boring attorney in the world, and then you have no camera and you have a guy who's going nuts.
O'BRIEN: You don't a think in high -- certain high profile cases that the lawyer is actually making his case to the camera? He know which sound bites are the ones that are going to be...
POLITAN: No, the sound bites take place outside the courtroom in the press conference or the one-on-one interview with Soledad O'Brien. That's not where the sound bite comes from.
Inside the courtroom, the lawyer is only concerned with one thing, and that's his client. The prosecutor's concerned with bringing a justice.
And you don't understand. If you're a lawyer, you're not worried about the cameras. You've got to worry about the judge. You've got to worry about your adversary. You've got way too much on your mind.
O'BRIEN: Now Stuart, who do you think is at an advantage here? Is the defendant -- get a bigger advantage when there are cameras inside the courtroom?
FISCHOFF: I think that a celebrity defendant has a bigger advantage. If his -- if his public persona, if his image is one that's very positive like Kobe's is, for example, or even O.J.'s was, that what happens when he's on camera, at least for the public, it is constantly reminded of this nice guy, this popular guy.
And if he's off camera, if you don't see him, it's easier for the opposing attorney to bring up what they consider to be the darker side of this very popular public celebrity.
So I think it's going to work to Kobe's advantage if he behaves himself on camera.
O'BRIEN: So you're saying we lose objectivity.
Final question for you. Stuart, I'm going to throw it at you first. Why the fascination with these cases? Is it because we're learning so much about the legal system? Or what is it really?
FISCHOFF: Well, I've done research on that. I've asked whether or not students who have watched various cases -- I've tried to test their knowledge of law as a result of watching them.
And the answer comes back it didn't improve their knowledge of law. They knew a lot more about the private lives of the celebrities who were involved but no more about how the legal system operates.
O'BRIEN: Do you think it's true that basically the salacious content that comes out is what people really want to see on tape?
POLITAN: People want to see the system. Of course, they want to see the Kobe Bryant case, because it involves Kobe. But there are bigger issues at stake that there's going to be a public debate about. The rights of the accused versus the rights of the accuser. And I think that's the real theme in this Kobe Bryant case.
O'BRIEN: All right. Well, we're going to leave it there. Vinnie Politan, Stuart Fischoff, nice to see you guys. Thanks.
O'BRIEN: Coming up, could next week be the week? There is talk that John Kerry may pick a running mate in the next seven days.
O'BRIEN: Presidential hopeful John Kerry will spend Independence Day weekend on the road.
Today in Cloquet, Minnesota, the Massachusetts senator kicked off a three-day bus tour through small towns in the Midwest to promote his plans for rural America.
Meanwhile, there is growing speculation that Senator Kerry will announce his running mate next week. A recent CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows that most voters would like Senator Kerry to choose North Carolina Senator John Edwards.
Of course, Kerry isn't necessarily watching polls like these, but Democratic sources say Edwards is on his short list of possible vice presidential candidates.
Well, that list apparently has been shrinking, and to talk about that this evening in Washington, D.C., Judy Woodruff. She, of course, is the host of CNN's "INSIDE POLITICS." And in San Francisco, with his own unique perspective is political comedian Will Durst.
Nice to see you both.
Judy, let's start with you this evening. Those who have said no thanks, Governor Richardson. Also we hear Senator Dick Durbin says not interested either. What do you think is going on here?
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Well, I think we're getting close is what's going on.
John Kerry has had a long time to think about this. He's talked to a number of people. He's tried to do it discretely. But I think there are people out there who are not going to be chosen, and there has to be a graceful way to make it clear to the public that they're not going to be chosen. And I think that's part of what is going on.
It's going on, I think, to a degree with Bill Richardson. I think Kerry looked at him briefly. I don't know that he was ever seriously in contention, although the Kerry campaign might say differently.
Although, you know, most people in the Kerry campaign say they don't know what's going on at all because it's the candidate himself and two or three advisors.
And I think with Dick Durbin, you know, it's a polite gesture in his direction. My guess is that they were -- neither one was serious contender.
O'BRIEN: Will Durst, let's put you on the spot. You do you think gets it? Is it going to be one of the better known candidates or some the dark horse candidates?
For example, Senator Chuck Hagel has been mentioned, former treasury secretary Robert Rubin also mentioned. Do you think they have a chance?
WILL DURST, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: No, I think it's either going to be one of the big three. I think it's either Vilsack or Gephardt or Edwards.
I would -- I would imagine he would pick Edwards because listening to everybody you hear they love Edwards. It's like a 1992 Bill Clinton -- it's like Bill Clinton without the cigar. And so he could bring that kind of energy to the ticket.
But Gephardt? I don't know. I hear they get along, but the good thing about Gephardt is he makes Kerry look exciting.
O'BRIEN: And that might be reason enough!
Judy, do you think the senator needs to play it safe, or do you think he can take a risk? I mean, to what degree does the vice presidential position matter to the voters?
WOODRUFF: You know, Soledad, I think he's got to do both. He's got to play it safe in the sense that he doesn't want to go out and do something stupid, something that people are going to think is completely out of character.
On the other hand, he wants to have a little bit of surprise. He wants a good story to come out of this selection. You know, for example, when Bill Clinton chose Al Gore, it was a story. It was a surprise. A fellow southerner. You know, somebody you wouldn't have thought he would have picked.
In this case, I think Kerry has got to pick somebody where people are going to say, "Hmm," you know, "That's a pair that we hadn't quite expected or if we had, there's something about him we hadn't known."
O'BRIEN: We've heard, Will Durst, the litany of what should be in a candidate, but who do you think would be the very worst pick? I mean, you know, realistically speaking on the presidential landscape? Come on!
DURST: Michael Moore would be the worst pick.
I think is there's a lot of bad picks out there. I think Al Gore would be a bad pick. I think Al Franken. I think Hillary Clinton would be bad, but she would be a great pick for comics and editorial cartoonists. There is something about Hillary that just riles the conservatives up so much. It's actually entertaining to watch. It really is. It's like a chemical reaction.
O'BRIEN: She'd be great fodder for what you have to do?
DURST: For us. I don't know how much she would help the ticket, though.
O'BRIEN: Judy, who do you think Republicans think about who they would like to run against?
WOODRUFF: My guess if, you know, that if it's John Edwards they're going to go after him for his trial lawyer background. If it's Dick Gephardt, they're going to go after him for his ties to big labor, for the fact that he's a fixture of Washington, D.C. They're going to go after whoever it is.
O'BRIEN: I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's not going to be Michael Moore, Will, but that's just me.
Judy Woodruff and Will Durst joining us this evening. Thanks, you guys.
DURST: Thank you, Soledad.
WOODRUFF: Thanks, Soledad. Good to see you.
O'BRIEN: Coming up, the unexpected and painful goodbye for thousands of soldiers who thought they were retired but who suddenly find themselves headed to war.
And two best actor Oscars and some of the best-known roles in movie history. We remember Marlon Brando.
O'BRIEN: 228 years ago today, the second Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain. Two days later on July 4, 1776 Congress let the world know with the Declaration of Independence. But the words we all read in school weren't exactly what Thomas Jefferson first handed into Congress. Here is Bruce Burkhardt.
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable? That doesn't quite sound right. How about self-evident? it's cleaner, more precise. The Declaration of Independence did not flow out of Thomas Jefferson's quill in one big poetic swoop, as we see in numerous early drafts, it was edited heavily by him and members of the continental Congress.
PAULINE MAYER, HISTORIAN: I think that the Congress is made up of the unsung heroes of this story. They took off about a quarter of his text and there are places wherever Jefferson just went on and on.
BURKHARDT: In her book "American Scripture" historian Pauline Mayer details how and why this amazing document came together.
MAYER: My theory is that, ironically, it came out of a British tradition. That the English had taken sings off the throne, living kings seven times since the 14th Century. They always issued an explanation.
BURKHARDT: When the delegates from the 13 colonies gathered in Philadelphia that steamy summer of 1776, they were clearly moving toward a vote for independence. And on July 2, finally passed a resolution. But they felt like they needed more than a resolution, they needed an explanation and it was grounded in English political philosophy of the 17th and 18th Centuries.
MAYER: All power came from the people. Government was created by the people for their own purposes. And when it failed to fulfill those purposes, the people had a right to change it.
BURKHARDT: And perhaps the most famous passage, all men are created equal," Jefferson could hardly claim that as his own idea. A few weeks earlier, his fellow Virginian, George Mason, had written in a Virginia Declaration of Rights that, quote, "all men are born equally free and independent and that they have certain rights, among which are, quote, the enjoyment of life and liberty." Mason's document was published on June 12, about the same time that the committee, that included Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, was meeting for the first time.
MAYER: Who is to say somebody on the committee didn't say Thomas, couldn't you include some language like that in the Virginia Declaration? You know? It really sings.
The first draft we can see all men are created equal and independent. And then he crossed off "and independent." So I think he's very, very indebted to Mason.
BURKHARDT: But Jefferson never made any pretense of trying to be totally original. He simply wanted a clear and eloquent expression of the American position. That, he did. And his colleague, John Adams said the occasion ought to be observed, quote, "with pomp, grace, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to other other this time forward for forever more." And so it was.
O'BRIEN: So it still is. John Adams was dead right about that. That was Bruce Burkhardt with that story.
Still ahead tonight, remembering the legendary actor Marlon Brando.
(END VIDEOTAPE) O'BRIEN: It's a little known practice by which the U.S. government captures wanted fugitives around the world to face U.S. justice. But since 9/11, the government has stretched the boundaries of that practice in its worldwide hunt for suspected terrorists. Human rights lawyers says it effectively allows the U.S. government to illegally seize, detain and interrogate anyone anywhere in the world. Harris Whitbeck investigates what happened in one corner of West Africa.
HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The saga of the al Rawi brothers and their business partners began in November 2002, here at Gatwick Airport near London. They were detained as they were about to board a plane for The Gambia. They were questioned, then after four days, released. A few days later, they resumed their business trip. Everything went fine until they landed in West Africa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suddenly, things went wrong.
WHITBECK: Iraqi-born British citizen Wahab Al-Rawi said they were arrested by Gambian state security. Then...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two American personnel came in and they wanted to interview me.
WHITBECK: Wahab says the group was held by American interrogators for a month. First at a house on the outskirts of Banjul, the capital of The Gambia. Two weeks later, the group was separated. It was the last time Wahab saw his brother Bishr, or business partner Jamil El-Banna.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was hooded, handcuffed, put in the back of a car, four-wheel drive, and then I was taken to another house. I was put in the solitary confinement. The windows were blocked. The doors were blocked.
WHITBECK: Wahab says he was kept in solitary confinement for 13 days, interrogated by the Americans and then released, put on a plane back to London.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American interrogator said, "well, who do you think ordered the arrest?" It was the British who ordered your arrest.
WHITBECK: Wahab said Gambian officials apologized and told him...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "This is none of our doing. We were just taking orders from the Americans."
WHITBECK: It would be three months before Wahab heard from his brother, Bishr a letter delivered by the Red Cross dated January 4.
"Dear mother," it read, "I am writing this letter from the lovely mountains of Afghanistan at a U.S. prison camp." The family's British lawyer Gareth Peirce appealed to British authorities complaining Bishr was being held with help from the Gambian and British governments.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How else did the Gambians know to seize him? How else did the Americans know to be immediately there interrogating?
WHITBECK: The British Foreign Office said it wasn't responsible. The British government did not request the detention of the group in The Gambia and played no role in any transfer to Bagram.
The family wrote to the U.S. embassy in London. Then a second letter arrived from Bishr, dated March 12.
"Dear mom and family, I am writing to you from the seaside resort of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."
In May, the U.S. embassy replied to the family. "Secretary Powell has asked me to respond. The U.S. and its partners are engaged in operations around the world to counter those who would plan and conduct attacks against us. Operational security concerns do not allow me to confirm or comment on specific individuals believed to be held as enemy combatants."
WHITBECK: Wahab says the American interrogators told him the group was suspected of being in The Gambia to carry out operations against American targets. U.S. officials argue that since 9/11, the war on terrorism requires new rules.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the practice of picking up terrorists in another country and the U.S. government holding them perhaps incognito, perhaps holding them as a security risk may be an unnecessary evil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every single person deserves a hearing, a legitimate hearing before they can just be thrown in jail, have the key tossed out and never see the light of day.
WHITBECK: Human rights lawyers say if there had been any reason to arrest Bishr Al-Rawi and Jamil El-Banna, then why not home in Britain where they would have had an opportunity to defend themselves? By allowing them to travel to The Gambia, the attorneys say, the men fell into a legal black hole.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like the wild west. It's the law of force, anything goes.
WHITBECK: And Paula, the Al-Rawi family may now have found a friend in the U.S. Supreme Court which has just ruled that while the U.S. may continue to hold detainees without charges at Guantanamo, it must also give those detainees the right to fight their detentions in U.S. courts.
O'BRIEN: That was our Harris Whitbeck working with senior producer Ingrid Arnersen on that investigation.
Earlier this week, Paula Zahn spoke with Jonathan Turley, professor of law, George Washington University.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Always good to see you. Welcome.
So are these post-9/11 renditions legal?
JONATHAN TURLEY, PROF. OF LAW, GEORGE WASH. UNIV.: Well, it really depends on who you ask. Technically, they are legal so long as the United States is not actively participating in torture that follows these transfers. There is a U.S. law prohibiting torture. There is international treaties prohibiting torture but United States has always argued that it is not an active participant and have claimed, frankly, surprise when individual cases of torture have been publicized.
ZAHN: But let me ask you this. If you are knowingly sending these suspects to a country where torture is engaged in, isn't that almost tacit acceptance of it?
TURLEY: I think that's putting it lightly. It's hard to put much credibility into the claims of U.S. officials that they had no idea in a couple of cases that Syria would torture these transfer detainees. You can't throw someone in a cage and say, you know, the lion promised to be a nice kitty. I mean, Syria is listed as one of the most egregious violators of torture. Moreover, in many of these transfer cases, the country -- like Syria expressed no interest in the individuals. We literally forced these individuals into Syria. Flew them on U.S. planes with U.S. pilots for our purposes, not Syria's purpose.
ZAHN: So what are our purposes? Why are we doing this?
TURLEY: Well, we've actually had U.S. officials quoted in major media admitting that they have transferred people to countries like Syria to be tortured. We've had comments published in the "Washington Post" and other newspapers for over two years. Obviously, the White House is aware of those statements. And so this is very much the untold torture story that Abu Ghraib is a relatively minor affair. Even before 9/11, we had 70 of these transfers. The administration has not confirmed how many have occurred after 9/11, but the number is believed to be much higher.
ZAHN: So how does this make us look? I mean, obviously, you're talking about the erosion of our moral authority. Just a final thought on that.
TURLEY: Well, it makes us look terrible. Before 9/11, we were unquestioned the greatest defender of the rule of law. Now, even our closest allies, England and Canada, have denounced some of our measures and we're treated as a rogue nation, a danger. That is a heck of a transformation in such a short period and it's a dangerous one. We can't be alone in the war of terror. We can't have other allies fear us for our practices. We have to represent something that is worth defending.
ZAHN: Jonathan Turley, always appreciate your perspective. Thanks for joining us.
O'BRIEN: Today nine Guantanamo Bay detainees may be closer to having their day in court. The Center for Constitutional Rights and attorneys representing the terror suspects filed five corpus petitions seeking hearings for them.
Coming up next, we remember Marlon Brando. Two Oscars, a 50-year career, and an iconic image that may never be equaled.
O'BRIEN: Finally, tonight, Marlon Brando, the winner of two best actor Oscars, died of lung failure last night in Los Angeles. And while his best performances came decades ago, some of the most famous scenes in movie history are his. All his. Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire," Don Vito Corleone in "The Godfather" and in "On the Waterfront" washed-up boxer Terry Malloy coming to terms with corruption and failure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARLON BRANDO, ACTOR: You was my brother, Charlie. You should have looked after me a little bit. You should have taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them and dive for the short end money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.
BRANDO: You don't understand! I could have had class. I could have been a contender! I could have been somebody instead of a bum. Which is what I am. Let's face it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Brando said he only made movies for the money. And he said acting is an empty and useless profession. But in the words of his "Godfather" co-star James Caan, "Brando influenced more young actors of his generation than anyone else."
Marlon Brando was 80-years-old.
Joining us this evening from Bridgehampton, New York is actor Matthew Broderick who co-starred with Marlon Brando in "The Freshman." Thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.
Our condolences to you, because I know you respected him. You called him your idol as well. You worked with Marlon Brando when you were just 28-years-old, he was 66, already well into being a legend. What was it like to work with him then? MATTHEW BRODERICK, ACTOR: Well, it was wonderful. It was one of the most thrilling times of my career in life, really, to meet him. All of the actors, I remember -- I remember when I first met him, he came -- we rehearsed in a hotel room and nobody even knew that he would show up for a rehearsal, but he did. He was late.
He was about, as I remember, an hour to hour and a half late and we were all very nervous. And there was a knock to the door and I opened the door and he was on his hands and knees apologizing for being late in a velour sweat suit with sunglasses and a cowboy hat. And he was the most charming, interesting person to know and act with, you could imagine.
O'BRIEN: He was described, often, as being intensely private. How intimidating was it for a relatively young actor like yourself to work with someone like that?
BRODERICK: Well, his -- you know, you were always concerned about bothering his privacy, basically. I remember he told Bruno Kirby, who was in the movie, too, that he hadn't had an honest moment with anyone in 40 years or 30 years, whatever it was. So you always had this fear that you were gawking at him, because that's what you did, basically, because he was Marlon Brando.
But after working with him for a fairly short time, he became -- he was very easy to talk to and very -- not so private. He talked very openly and was extremely friendly and generous with his time with all us actors who adored him.
O'BRIEN: Many people contradict that. They say he was aloof at times, that he was difficult to work with at times. Did you see any of that?
BRODERICK: Yes. Very little. You know, when I worked with him it was some bad things in his personal life happened, which threw him and he got a little bit ornery and difficult for a short period of shooting. It was perfectly understandable with what was going on in his personal life.
But most of the time, he was very charming and liked to laugh and enjoyed the crew. And I didn't see any -- he was not difficult with us. He was just really fun and really interesting. And more than funny, he was the most fascinating person you could be around.
O'BRIEN: With everyone watching him, when you're him so closely, what were you able to learn about his technique? What made him really such a truly talented actor?
BRODERICK: Well, I wanted to learn what made him so good, you know? I wanted to learn that more than anything. But it was pretty hard to learn.
I will say he was the most curious man I ever was with. I mean, he was curious about every subject. Or you would be talking to him, I remember at a dinner outside and a leaf fell off a tree and I just watched him, you know, see this leaf and discuss what kind of tree it was. And he was so interested in the event of that leaf falling. It sounds weird, but it became interesting just to watch his interest in that.
So his curiosity, somehow, is related to why it was -- everybody was so curious to watch him and I don't understand it anymore that.
O'BRIEN: He got a lot of credit for bringing method acting to the forefront for lots of actors. Explain exactly what that meant. Do you think that credit is fair to him?
BRODERICK: Well, yes, I mean, you know, I never studied that, so I'm not an expert on it, but he changed the whole style of acting. Before him was, you know, the '40s. Everybody does impressions of that style of talk that -- he's the first kind of naturalistic film actor, I guess, I mean to put it very broadly.
He sounded like a guy in the street, not like a person who had studied at MGM with all of the different coaches.
And he just changed the whole way acting was looked at. And there is before him and after him, the whole game changed.
O'BRIEN: If you had to...
BRODERICK: It just did.
O'BRIEN: If you had to sum up in addition to that, his impact on the acting world, what he contributed over his 80 years that he was alive on this planet, what would you say?
BRODERICK: He contributed every -- I mean, he's -- he's sort of the father of modern acting, I think. He -- whether you're influenced by him or not, you're influenced by somebody who was influenced by him. A young actor today might not even realize it, but it all -- all roads, in my opinion, they lead to Marlon Brando.
O'BRIEN: That's a pretty remarkable thing to say. A big loss for the community, you think?
BRODERICK: Huge. I mean, I guess he was 80, but he did not -- I never pictured this day, for some reason. He just seems like part of the world. Marlon Brando should be, you know, up on that hill in Hollywood or wherever he wants to live, just ready to make some other great movie. You just hope there is another great one coming so I guess it isn't coming.
O'BRIEN: Sort of hard to believe even though he was 80 years old and he was not in great health, it's still quite shocking. Matthew Broderick, joining us this evening with some of this thoughts. Thanks we appreciate it. Our condolences to you, and all of his friends grieving, we sure appreciate you talking to us.
BRODERICK: Thanks for having me.
BRODERICK: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: And we'll be right back.
O'BRIEN: Thanks for joining us this evening. Coming up next, "LARRY KING LIVE" takes a look back at the life and the work of Marlon Brando. Actor Robert Duvall will join Larry for this special tribute.
Have a wonderful Independence Day weekend. Good night.
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