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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

New Senate Report Critical of CIA; Interview With Michael Ware

Aired July 6, 2004 - 22:00   ET

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


AARON BROWN, HOST: Good evening again, everyone.
We begin tonight with a confession: I dated John Edwards' wife. Well, not dated like plural, dated like singular. We went out to dinner. Well, we didn't actually go out to dinner. We went to a dinner, just the two of us -- and 2,000 other people.

It was one of those correspondents dinners in Washington where you get all gussied up in a tux and pretend to enjoy yourself, and she was my date. Everyone brings a date to these things. Greta brought Ozzy Osbourne, but I'm not that cool, so I asked Mrs. Edwards.

She was great. She was smart and funny and down to earth. We talked a little politics, a little about living in the public eye. Her husband's presidential campaign had just ended. We talked a lot that night about child rearing.

No one votes for a president based on the vice presidential candidate's wife. Darn few vote for president based on the vice president at all. I know I don't. But when my daughter asks me if I know Senator Edwards, I'll smile and say, "Not really, but I dated his wife."

"The Whip" begins not on my social life, but on the who and the what and the when. The where is Pittsburgh, and CNN's Candy Crowley is there. Candy, a headline.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, the headline is can a southern boy find comfort in the Midwest? Certainly the Kerry campaign was thinking that when it selected John Edwards.

BROWN: Candy, we get to you at the top tonight. On to the White House, where it didn't take long for the gloves to come off, shockingly. CNN's Dana Bash with the watch tonight. Dana, the headline there.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, the ad was already cut, research and talking points ready to go. As soon as the news came from the other side, Republicans all over town hit the send button on their e-mail, launched a classic campaign to try to discredit the new Democratic ticket -- Aaron.

BROWN: Dana.

Finally, Baghdad and what amounts to a look inside the world of the Islamic insurgents who are causing so much mayhem in Iraq. CNN's Brent Sadler with the story and the headline.

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Baghdad, we'll be telling the story of a western journalist who's become an unlikely go-between for insurgent groups who sent him menacing statements of their intent and capability, shedding disturbing new light on their rituals and targeting techniques.

BROWN: Get back to you Brent and the rest shortly.

Also coming up on the program on this Tuesday night: What the CIA knew, but allegedly didn't say about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the war.

Plus, art that speaks to what scares us, timely enough and utterly fascinating all the same.

And the fear that always grips me about right now: What if we run out of paper to print up morning papers? Ah, that couldn't happen, though it did once a long time ago. All that and more in the hour ahead.

We begin tonight in Pittsburgh where "The Post Gazette" led local this morning with a slot machine gambling story and the Pirates' 10- game winning streak.

Look for another local lead in Pittsburgh tomorrow. Something about the husband of a well known Pittsburgher and his choice of a running mate, in some ways the yin to his yang.

In any case, a poll tested telegenic southerner, complete with a back story, some baggage, and plenty of ambition. How this all plays out is anyone's guess, and we've got a few talented guessers tonight.

How it came to be is CNN's Candy Crowley's department.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): The first people John Kerry told were the guys who spent Monday night changing decals on the plane, a last secret mission in the stealth search for what was, in the light of day, a fairly predictable choice.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A man who has shown courage and conviction as a champion for middle-class Americans and for those struggling to reach the middle class.

CROWLEY: After four months looking, John Kerry settled on John Edwards, the vice presidential choice many Democrats wanted, well, four months ago. In style and background, they are a yin and yang ticket.

Edwards exudes southern warmth. He's charming and articulate. Kerry is northeastern reserved, not as charming, and favors contorted explanations in Senate-speak. Edwards is what Kerry is not and vice versa. ANNOUNCER: One is a combat veteran with over 30 years of experience handling the toughest issues facing America. The other is the son of a mill worker, who all his life has stood up for ordinary people against powerful interests.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: What quality does he have you'd like?

CROWLEY: During the primary season, at times, Kerry -- a seasoned Washington insider -- bordered on disdain for the one-term Senator with little foreign policy or international experience.

KERRY: When I came back from Vietnam in 1969, ladies and gentlemen, I'm not sure if John Edwards was out of diapers then yet or not. I'm truly not sure. I don't know.

CROWLEY: But that's so January. This is July.

KERRY: He has honored the lessons of home and family that he learned in North Carolina, and he brings those values to shape a better America together with all of us. John Edwards is ready for this job.

CROWLEY: Look for John Edwards to show up in a small Midwest town near you, a town where John Kerry may seem just a little elite northeast and John Edwards may seem just a little familiar.

KERRY: I am determined that we reach out across party lines, that we speak the heart of America, that we speak of hope and of optimism, and John Edwards will join me in doing that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (on camera): Kerry aides say he never asked for any polling on his vice presidential candidates, but that doesn't mean he didn't get some. In any case, strategists say they believe that Edwards' sunny disposition, his southern drawl, and his modest roots will hit a sweet spot with swing voters in battleground states like Ohio, Missouri, and Iowa - Aaron?

BROWN: Now do they -- I know they appear together tomorrow. Do they -- do we know, do they go off together and do a sort of Clinton- Gore bus trip together, or do they separate?

CROWLEY: Well, they're going to be together until Sunday. They will spend some time -- this is what -- you know, a barnstorming tour. They're going to hit a fundraiser in New York. They're going to Ohio. They're going to West Virginia. They're going to New Mexico. They're going to Florida.

And what they're calling this is a barnstorming tour. It's going to end up in North Carolina, which of course is John Edwards' home state, and they'll do a couple events there, you know, for the hometown or the state boy made good.

BROWN: And we did not hear at all, did we today, from Senator Edwards? He showed his face and that was it? CROWLEY: No. This was -- you know, it's interesting. This is -- as you know, Senator Kerry has had a hard time sort of breaking through the national headlines. There's been so much going on in Iraq and up on the Hill with the 9/11 Commission, that sort of thing.

So, they're kind of soaking this sunlight up. So, today was a day where we got the news and Kerry was solo, and so was John Kerry -- I'm sorry, John Edwards, but Edwards didn't say anything.

Tomorrow we're finally going to get a picture of the two of them together, even though they are together now up at Mrs. Heinz-Kerry's farm. So, they're kind of spreading this out, so tomorrow they're hoping to get sort of more stories off of this and then push into the weekend trying to make -- get as much bounce as they can off the announcement.

BROWN: Candy, thank you. Candy Crowley in Pittsburgh tonight.

Writing this afternoon about why Senator Kerry chose Senator Edwards, "Slate" magazine's Will Salatin offered this backhand compliment. "Kerry sounds so much more attractive" he writes, "when Edwards is doing the talking."

Senator Kerry, as Candy pointed out, is formal -- critics might say haughty. Edwards is approachable -- critics would say too slick by half. How these two men mesh is something that will play out over the next five months. The early take, and we do mean the very early take, comes from a snap poll done late today.

Bill Schneider joins us with more on that. Bill, good evening.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Aaron, and the answer is good choice, the American public says. To be precise, 64 percent say that about the choice of John Edwards.

How does that compare with previous vice presidential choices? Look at this: in 2000, 55 though Dick Cheney was a good choice and 53 percent said Joe Lieberman was a good choice. Back in 1988, only 44 percent thought Dan Quayle was a good choice. He got elected, though.

John Edwards is at the top of the list. He's a happy warrior. In the campaign, his populous message and his positive style were widely acclaimed. What's not to like?

Well, the Democrats didn't nominate him because they didn't think he had enough experience to beat Bush. Does the public believe John Edwards is qualified to be president? Get this: 57 percent of Americans say yes he is.

How does it compare with others? Not quite as qualified as Al Gore when Clinton picked him in '92 or Jack Kemp in '96. Both were well known national figures. And remember, Dick Cheney was picked in 2000 because of his long experience in government.

People don't see John Edwards as any less qualified than Cheney was four years ago and a little more qualified than Joe Lieberman. And Dan Quayle in 1988? Don't ask.

Republicans intend to make an issue out of the fact that Edwards was a trial lawyer. Well, in the business community, a trial lawyer is, well, Satan. We asked the public: Do you think Edwards' experience as a trial lawyer is a strength or a weakness? No contest -- by better than two-to-one, people see Edwards' career as a trial lawyer as a good thing. People like trial lawyers, who knew -- Aaron?

BROWN: Well, a couple of things. As I looked at these numbers as you were talking, the one thing I concluded is they are predictive of nothing, fair?

SCHNEIDER: That's right. Well, they're predictive of the fact that people don't vote for vice president. Two of the most widely acclaimed choices for vice president -- we don't have the numbers here -- but we can tell from the reactions were Geraldine Ferraro, remember all that excitement. She didn't get Walter Mondale elected.

And Lloyd Bentsen, when Dukakis picked him -- another Massachusetts Democrat -- picked him, a Texas Democrat in 1988. Everyone said what a brilliant choice. It didn't help Dukakis.

And remember those numbers for Dan Quayle? They were the worst, the bottom of the heap, but they didn't seem to hurt the first George Bush when he ran for election in 1988.

BROWN: Polls are interesting, and that's important to keep in mind. Bill, good to see you on the program tonight. Thank you. Bill Schneider in Washington.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you.

BROWN: More now on the who of this story. Even before "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," biography has always been the better part of political destiny or, at least, a significant part of how we like to relate to the men and the women we elect.

So, biography, here's CNN's Kelly Wallace.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We know him as John Edwards, but he was born Johnny Reed Edwards in 1953. At the time, his father couldn't afford the $50 hospital bill and had to take out a loan.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My father worked at a mill all his life, has a high school education.

WALLACE: He grew up in Seneca, South Carolina, near the mill where his father worked, telling "The Boston Globe," "It was a rough little town. You either fought or you got the crap beat out of you."

And he fought those battles on the football fields and later in North Carolina courtrooms, earning multimillion dollar awards as a young personal injury attorney. David Kirby went to law school with Edwards. The two were partners at the same law firm.

DAVID KIRBY, EDWARDS' FMR. LAW FIRM PARTNER: There's a feeling of self assuredness. Sometimes you have people enter public office that you have questions about their ability to lead or their ability to make good decisions when they're in difficult times, and I have no hesitation about John's ability. I have no...

WALLACE: But not everyone agrees. Some business groups accuse trial lawyers of frivolous lawsuits.

MICHAEL DUBKE, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR JOB SECURITY: John Edwards is a poster child for the trial lawyer industry.

WALLACE: His hometown in North Carolina could be considered hostile territory, many of his neighbors supporting Republican candidates, but they make an exception for Edwards.

MARTHA CRAMPTON, NEIGHBOR OF EDWARDS IN NORTH CAROLINA: I know John personally, and I know what he would bring to the office.

WALLACE: He met wife Elizabeth at the University of North Carolina Law School at Chapel Hill. A few days after taking the bar, they wed. She wore an $11 wedding band, he a $22 ring.

He became a litigator, she a bankruptcy lawyer until 1996 when their 16-year-old son Wade was killed in a car accident, a death the family rarely discusses. Elizabeth stopped working, taking care of daughter Kate.

Two years later at the age of 48, she gave birth to Emma Claire, now six, and then Jack, who's four. Not long after that, Edwards entered politics and became U.S. Senator from North Carolina and now a vice presidential running mate.

Elizabeth didn't believe it when she heard it on the news at the family home in North Carolina. Her husband called and put Emma Claire on the phone. She said her daddy's going to be vice president. Then Jack got on the line to say he just learned how to swim on top of the water. Elizabeth said, "That's wonderful. Now can I talk to daddy?"

Kelly Wallace, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: If the choice of John Edwards wasn't exactly a shocker -- Spiro Agnew was a shocker. Dan Quayle was a shocker. John Edwards was no shocker today, and the Bush campaign reaction was hardly a shocker either.

Here's CNN's Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): From the Oval Office, a polite reception.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I welcome Senator Edwards on the ticket.

BASH: By design, a president above the fray, after the vice president called his new opponent offering congratulations. But the Bush campaign had already been engaged for hours in a coordinated effort to discredit the new Democratic ticket.

The opposition research was ready to go, hitting reporters' e- mails minutes after the news came from the other side. Some Republican attacks are familiar, calling Edwards a liberal out of the mainstream. Before politics, the North Carolina Senator made millions as a trial lawyer. Bush aides say expect a lot more of this.

BUSH: No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit.

BASH: Another GOP criticism: just six years in the Senate is a weak resume for a post-9/11 world. On this point, the Bush camp thinks Senator Kerry said it best back when Edwards was his opponent, not his teammate.

KERRY: When I came back from Vietnam in 1969, ladies and gentlemen, I'm not sure if John Edwards was out of diapers then yet or not. I'm truly not sure. I don't know.

BASH: Kerry later clarified the comment, saying he was simply pointing to the differences in "level of preparedness and experience." The Kerry camp thinks Edwards has appeal with Independent voters. That's also why the Democratic candidate flirted with the idea of asking Republican Senator John McCain to run with him.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He has not wavered. He has not flinched from the hard choices. He was...

BASH: The Bush camp was ready on that front, too, with an instant ad noting McCain backs Bush.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (on camera): All that despite the fact that Republicans continue to remind us that history shows running mates really don't make a difference in the end, but despite that, negative opinion of Vice President Cheney is at an all time high right now and the Bush campaign is neck and neck with the Democratic ticket now. So, they're not taking anything for granted -- Aaron.

BROWN: Dana, thank you. Dana Bash at the White House tonight.

In a moment, a little more on the mix of biography and geography and chemistry that goes into the choice of a running mate, how it works and how sometimes it does not. Jeff Greenfield will have that.

And we'll chew it all over with three very sharp correspondents, including one who's written the book on John Kerry. That's coming up in a bit.

Also coming up on the program, more questions about how the CIA handled pre-war intelligence. And later, we'll talk with journalist Michael Ware about the uneasy relationship he's developed with the insurgents killing Americans and Iraqis in Iraq. A break first -- from New York, this is "NEWSNIGHT."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: The couple of the moment, like many new pairs, is under considerable scrutiny now that they've made their intent public. Presidential running mates are always ripe for deconstructing. The choice, as in all other relationships, is always a complicated one.

Our Senior Analyst Jeff Greenfield has that piece of the Kerry/Edwards story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night, the same thing as today, my spirits are high...

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST (voice-over): Democrats and Republicans know the choice can hurt. When Senator Tom Eagleton's history of depression forced him off the ticket in 1972, it all but doomed George McGovern.

And Dan Quayle's occasional deer-in-the-headlights moments were no help to the first George Bush.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And now, my - Senator Lyndon B. Johnson...

And both parties know the choice can help. Without Lyndon Johnson on the ticket, John Kennedy might well have lost Texas and other southern states back in 1960.

BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... to change our country...

Al Gore helped symbolize the Clinton campaign's change theme.

BUSH: I benefited from his keen insight.

GREENFIELD: And Dick Cheney was Bush's way of saying, "I'm taking the job of governing seriously."

(on camera): So, what message is John Kerry trying to send the voters with his choice of Senator John Edwards? It appears to be a mix of biography and geography.

That Edwards' campaign song, John Cougar Mellencamp's "Small Town," is a real clue to both. Throughout his presidential run, Edwards talked about his modest roots.

EDWARDS: I come from a family where my grandparents, my grandmother was from a family of sharecroppers in South Carolina.

GREENFIELD: It's a striking contrast to Kerry...

KERRY: ... part of this journey...

GREENFIELD: ... son of a diplomat, educated at Yale, with aristocratic bearing and a very wealthy wife. And Edwards' ability at framing political arguments in plain English is another contrast to John Kerry, who is sometimes afflicted with Senate-speak.

Moreover, as a 51-year-old first term Senator, Edwards is likely a better embodiment of the future than say the 63-year-old Dick Gephardt with 28 years in the Congress.

And geography? This pick may be less about the south than about another region, one Kerry stumped through this past weekend: the rural Midwest. Bush has strength in small town and rural America -- he got more than 60 percent of that vote back in 2000 -- is why Al Gore lost Ohio, Missouri, West Virginia, why Kerry is threatened now in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota.

(on camera): In a post-9/11 world, choosing a running mate with thin national security credentials may pose a political risk, but more than any other possibility, John Edwards has the potential to reach those more conservative small town and rural Democratic voters who have been drifting away from their party. For John Kerry, it seemed like a risk well worth taking.

Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Well, for political reporters, today's announcement was akin to the final episode of "Sex and the City." After months of speculation, they finally learned who Kerry would end up with, this time Kerry with a K and not a C.

Nina Easton is the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief for "The Boston Globe" and the co-author of "John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography"; John Harwood is Political Editor of "The Wall Street Journal"; and Terry Neal is Chief Political Correspondent for washingtonpost.com. All three join us from Washington tonight, where they will from time to time in the weeks ahead. Good to see you all.

Nina, fill in the blank. This choice shows John Kerry to be?

NINA EASTON, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Well, for one thing, he's very good at keeping a secret, isn't he, Aaron? This was a nut that reporters were trying to crack for four days at least, and he kept his cards close to his vest, just as he did often in the Senate with aides. They often didn't know how he would vote until he actually walked on the Senate floor.

So, that says one thing about John Kerry, but it's also a recognition on John Kerry's part that there was a deficit in his -- on his ticket. Much like George W. Bush had a deficit and needed those national security credentials, John Kerry needed the charisma credentials. He needed somebody that was going to bring excitement to the ticket and -- look, they're both Senators. They're both lawyers, but they're both very different kinds of lawyers and Senators.

John Kerry is very good at making exhaustive, intellectual arguments about things, but John Edwards is somebody who is adept at bringing juries to tears and winning multimillion dollar settlements. He knows the power of persuasion, and he understands it and that's come through on the campaign trail.

BROWN: Let's do -- John, let's do a couple of quick hits here. Do you think this says that Senator Kerry is concerned at this point about how the campaign is going?

JOHN HARWOOD, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": I do, Aaron. I think it shows that John Kerry may be a little less comfortable with his position in the race than some of us thought.

I talked today to Jim Johnson, who directed the vice presidential search. He said John Kerry would have made the same choice whether he was five points or 15 points ahead. I'm not so sure about that.

I think if he felt that he had command of the race, as some in his party are privately beginning to believe, that he might have chosen Dick Gephardt, with whom he's more personally comfortable, somebody who could plainly answer yes to the question, have I chosen the most qualified person in the country to take over if need be?

BROWN: Terry, do you think that this makes the Democrats competitive in the south, or does it merely force the Bush-Cheney campaign to expend resources in the south or perhaps neither?

TERRY NEAL, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: I think actually a little bit of both. I think that obviously Republicans still have the big advantage in the south, but there are at least four or five states where Democrats think that they have at least an outside chance of winning.

I would say those states would be Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Virginia. Kerry's even advertising in a couple of those -- in I believe three or four of those states, and Edwards might be enough just to push him over the edge.

But I think that there's something that's even -- that's perhaps not quite as important but hasn't been said so much is that they're also looking at Senate and House races. And if Edwards can boost the turnout and energize the base, it might make a difference. It might be able to give Kerry a Senate that has a Democratic majority, which obviously would be a great thing for him.

BROWN: Nina, how do you think they counter the experience issue, which has come up already and will continue to come up?

EASTON: Well, the experience issue is going to be an issue, and certainly I think they'll have to counter that time and time again. But one of the issues that we didn't talk about and something else that John Edwards lends to this ticket is that sense of being middle class, which John Kerry suffers from not having.

He's from a very elite background. John Edwards is somebody who grew up in a mill town, whose father didn't go to college, who felt it. He talks about how his father went to work late at night.

BROWN: Nina, he's also a multimillionaire.

EASTON: Now he's a multi -- that's right.

BROWN: Yes.

EASTON: Now he's a multimillionaire, but he does -- and he's actually not as working class as he portrays himself.

HARWOOD: He earned that money, Aaron. He didn't marry it.

EASTON; Right, he did, that's true. And he -- but he does have that -- he does know how to bring that sensibility to the ticket. I was just listening today, listening to John Kerry talk about the middle class access to healthcare.

When that comes out of John Kerry's mouth alone, it has less resonance than when a John Edwards is on the ticket, a guy who had to drop out from Clemson University because his football scholarship didn't come through, who had to go to North Carolina State.

BROWN: A minute left. We'll try and get two more in. John, the trial lawyer issue; I know the editorial page of "The Journal" will go to town on this. Do you think in the end it will be a big issue?

HARWOOD: The editorial page of "The Wall Street Journal" likes this issue, so does Carl Rove in the White House who's had a lot of southern campaigns in which business is pitted against trial lawyers.

Four years ago, the "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll asked do you think trial lawyers have too much influence on government, 53 percent said yes. That's a pretty big number. But oil companies, drug companies, and HMOs all did worse. John Edwards is going to be attacking all three of those.

BROWN: Terry, the last question goes to you. I think it's the money question. In the end, is this determinative of who's going to win this election or not?

NEAL: In terms of the money that's been raised?

BROWN: No, in terms of the choice itself.

NEAL: Sure.

BROWN: Does the fact whether this vice presidential choice or any going to determine the outcome of this race?

NEAL: No. I don't think it's going to be determinative, but I do think that it makes a difference. I think that -- I think that Bush's choice of Cheney helped him. It didn't help him -- it wasn't a determining factor, but it certainly helped him.

But I'd like to say something to that last point. I think Republicans are going to have a hard time making this point about, you know, Edwards as the trial lawyer. What's their point going to be? Vote for the corporate lackey over the ambulance chaser?

I mean both -- neither -- you know both of these are folks that are sort of representative of industries that are not the most popular among folks and, you know, Edwards is going to be able to come right back, you know, at Dick Cheney and most of the folks who are in the Bush cabinet. So, it's going to be an ugly race, but I don't think one necessarily has an advantage over the other.

BROWN: Well, it's -- we at least now know the players. We've got the program. We'll see how it goes. Good to see you all. We'll talk again soon. Thank you very much.

And a program note, CNN's Larry King, you've heard of him, will talk to John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, Thursday night, 9:00 p.m. eastern on "LARRY KING LIVE." That's Thursday night. It's one of those weeks where Thursday seems -- it's two days from now.

Coming up on our program tonight: Did the CIA hold back key information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or the lack thereof?

And we'll wrap it up tonight, as we always do, with morning papers -- but a long way to go before then, lots to do.

This is "NEWSNIGHT" on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: If the holiday weekend took our collective minds off the worst of the news, and it did, today was a reminder of what we missed.

In the last two days ,seven Marines have died fighting in Iraq, all in the province surrounding the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, all from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

Four were killed today, two yesterday -- one who was wounded yesterday died of those wounds this morning.

And back home, some encouraging, if cryptic, words from the cousin of a Marine who went missing and was kidnapped and believed held and perhaps killed by terrorists. Wassef Hassoun's cousin says he has reason to believe the young Marine is alive and out of captivity. No comment on all of this from the Pentagon

When CIA Director George Tenet announced his resignation weeks ago, it was clear his final days would contain some significant bumps. This is Mr. Tenet's last week at the CIA, and another big bump is approaching.

A Senate report on the CIA's handling of pre-war intelligence on Iraq's unconventional weapons is due out in days, and it is said to be blistering -- taking issue with the information the agency relied on and what it dismissed, as well.

Reporting for us tonight, CNN's David Ensor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The report will criticize outgoing Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, according to knowledgeable sources, for relaying too much on the work of this man, an American CIA weapons expert, who last year showed CNN gas centrifuge parts dug up from an Iraqi scientist's garden.

Knowledgeable sources say the report says the man, who CIA officials asked CNN not to identify, was biased, that he was convinced that aluminum tubes imported by Iraq were for uranium enrichment, as opposed to conventional rockets, as the Iraqis had claimed.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: The CIA seems to have picked an analyst who had the point of view that these tubes were for a nuclear weapons program.

ENSOR: Even the CIA's own former Iraq weapons chief is now a critic.

DAVID KAY, FMR. CIA IRAQ WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I was shocked by the low level of technical analysis that was behind the claim. And the more I dug into it, the more I found people, who I really did respect their technical expertise in this area, had either they've not been consulted or their views had not been fully taken into account.

ENSOR: George Tenet and other CIA officials continue to insist it is still not clear what the aluminum tubes were really for.

GEORGE TENET, CIA DIRECTOR: We have additional data to collect and more sources to question.

ENSOR: Another fault found by the Senate Intelligence Committee reports, sources say, is that the CIA interviewed some family members of Iraqi scientists who said there were no longer any weapons of mass destruction programs, but that the CIA never told the president.

CIRINCIONE: It's perfectly understandable that the CIA wouldn't believe family members of scientists who told them there were no programs. But they should have included it in their report. They should have revealed all the evidence, not just the resignation that fit their position.

ENSOR: CIA officials respond that it was a handful of scientists' relatives who were simply repeating the party line from Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein.

Asked about the Senate report, the president continues to assert Washington was right to be suspicious of Iraq.

BUSH: Saddam Hussein had the intent. He had the capability. And the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. ENSOR (on camera): But on Thursday, the day before the Senate report is scheduled to come out, George Tenet will be bidding farewell to his CIA staff, having apparently decided that he'd rather face what are likely to be several scathing reports on intelligence due out this summer as a private citizen.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Still to come on the program tonight, journalist Michael Ware and just about the most terrifying scoop we can imagine in Iraq or anywhere else. This will become part of the story.

And later, a picture of fear. Oddly enough, something worth staying up for.

Around the world, this is "NEWSNIGHT."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We often say on the program that every story can be framed in many ways, depending on the lens it is seen through. It's the job of reporters to look through many lenses as they can to tell each story to capture the most complete picture.

The trick is to not become a part of the story while doing so. The line separating the latter from the former can be tricky to negotiate, especially in a war zone where cultivating sources -- even among the enemy -- is risky but necessary work.

Here's CNN's Brent Sadler.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a Baghdad hotel room, this western journalist views horrifying video sent to him by an Islamic insurgent group in Iraq that carried out a recent terror attack.

MICHAEL WARE, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Oh, my God. I've not seen this. They've been filming this stuff from the beginning.

SADLER: Michael Ware, an Australian reporter working for "TIME" magazine is walking a professional knife edge, an unlikely go-between for anti-Western militants.

He's viewing what purports to be the gruesome attack that killed four American security contractors in Fallujah some three months ago, when the bodies were dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge.

WARE: This video is straight from the Mujahedeen. This is the Blackwater killings. They talk about planning it.

This is the seventh tape I've received in the last three or four days.

SADLER: Including the release of this tape. It illustrates how insurgent groups have developed the technique of using video to record attacks.

A group called Unity and Jihad, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- the most wanted terror suspect in Iraq -- claims to have made this presentation.

WARE: They have reached a level of organization and sophistication that we have not seen previously. They've become incredibly savvy.

SADLER: What's claimed to be a Zarqawi camera captures this disturbing sequence of a suicide bomber bidding farewell to fighters and boarding a tanker wired to three-and-a-half tons of explosives for start to finish coverage of the attack.

WARE: Something the last few months has now got them filming the most intimate, graphic attacks, like, up close and personal.

They're trying to tell the Western public, "This is what your boys are dying for. This is what they're up against." Terrorism is about instilling terror. That's a part of what this is doing.

SADLER: Ware says he holds secret meetings in dangerous places with wanted men.

WARE: Whether you think I'm fortunate or whether you think I'm doomed, the point is I've been given a window into something that no one else has.

SADLER: A window, he says, that opened after 12 months of contact, with access to unexplored territory straddling a moral and ethical minefield.

WARE: This kind of thing is never easy or comfortable. It doesn't sit well with you as a human being on many levels, but that's what covering war is like.

SADLER: Ware denies he's being used by terror groups and says he filters what he learns, regardless of the source.

WARE: This is a war. It has two sides. I feel an obligation to discover as much as I can about both sides. I feel that's what we're here to do.

SADLER (on camera): Do you worry that you're getting too close to this, that one day they might shoot the messenger?

WARE: I worry about that every waking moment and every sleeping dream. And it terrifies me. It terrifies me on a personal level, and it terrifies me in terms of what we're up against.

SADLER: And the danger involved.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Just to underscore how complicated the insurgent story is, another videotape surfaced today, this one made by an armed vigilante group inside Iraq.

In the tape, which aired on Arab TV, five gunmen threaten to kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi unless he stops the attacks and leaves the country. It is the first known threat from within Iraq against the Jordanian militant. Just to give you an idea how messy things are.

Joining us from Baghdad is Michael Ware. Michael, good to see you.

I have so many questions; let's see how many we can get through. Are your editors at all uncomfortable with the relationships you're forming with the insurgents?

WARE: That's something that they like to try and monitor as closely as they can. We -- we set very clear parameters for our contact with the insurgents here in Iraq. This is something that obviously we talk about a lot, and we're very careful that we don't go beyond points that are not journalistically justifiable or that we're not personally comfortable with.

BROWN: Michael, what would be going beyond what you're comfortable with or, more importantly right now, what your editors are comfortable with?

WARE: I think that would be clearly becoming part of the process.

More than just being a journalist revealing videotape or revealing some daring new statement that perhaps they want to make, it would actually be involved in promoting, encouraging or actually involved in some of the processes of their hostage taking and other kinds of activities. There's certain things you just can't do.

BROWN: Michael, let me try it this way, a little simpler. If your contact said, "Come with us. We're going to go out and film a suicide attack. And you just come with us and watch." Would that be crossing the line?

WARE: I've never done anything like that.

BROWN: Would it be crossing the line?

WARE: Certainly -- yes. I think if you had forewarning and you went to join them, I think that would be something very close to crossing the line.

BROWN: Is there a danger that you are becoming a part of the story in a way that always makes reporters uncomfortable, or should?

WARE: Yes, I mean, certainly last weekend I felt that that had happened. A different group other than Zarqawi's, actually gave me a hostage tape -- the first Westerner, as I know, to receive a hostage tape, giving some poor fellow three days to live. That made me a participant.

And I made it very clear after that I want nothing more to do with hostage tapes. Any you give me will not see the light of day.

BROWN: Any idea why you and why not any of the hundreds or so other journalists in the country?

WARE: Well, most of the other journalists don't leave their hotels or remain in fortified compounds. Or any attempt they've made to develop contacts in Fallujah or other -- these other insurgent hot spots in the past, they've simply let go.

This is required hard, unrelenting, gumshoe journalism, just getting out there and doing the basics. Most people just aren't doing that.

BROWN: What's happening to the tapes? I'm a little confused about some of this. Someone said today that you've been selling some of the tapes to other news organizations; others say you're not. Can you clarify whether or not you are selling the tapes to others, the way stringers sell tapes all the time?

WARE: No. By and large, what I do is if the insurgents give me materials, I hand that out as a public record.

This tape, however -- this tape has crossed a certain threshold for me. This tape has come directly from Zarqawi's organization. This means that they are aware of me. That's a rather disconcerting thing. So, there's certain measures I need to take.

I allowed that tape to be used exclusively by one network for a short period, and then it's a free-for-all. That is a public document. Someone might want to have an exclusive first chop, but that's everyone's to use. Copy completely and make what they want of it.

I think the world needs to see it and make up their own minds.

BROWN: Danny Pearl comes to mind. Danny Pearl was out looking for the same kind of story you're looking for, and he ended up dead. You must be at some level concerned?

WARE: Absolutely, at all levels concerned. I mean, I've seen these guys. I've seen into their eyes. I find them terrifying. I mean, these are very committed men. And at any moment they could turn on me. I could suddenly be decided he's more valuable to us on a video being terrorized than he is, you know, discussing our movement and what we're showing him. It could happen to me in a blink of an eye. It's terrifying.

BROWN: Michael -- Michael, good to see you. Stay safe. Lots of ethical questions raised. And we suspect that your editors and our viewers are debating them now. Good to see you. We'll take a break, and we'll continue in a moment. This is "NEWSNIGHT."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We're often told to face our fears. What goes unspoken, unnamed, some say, has that much more power over us. Our imaginations could be that powerful in the new normal.

Terror has moved closer to center stage, or at least sometimes it seems that way. That shift is the focus of an exhibit here in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANETTE INGBERMAN, CO-FOUNDER/DIRECTOR OF EXHIBIT, CO-CURATOR OF "TERRORVISION": Terrorvision is a show about how artists are defining different issues of terror, being it emotional, spiritual, physical, global, political ideas.

I think we definitely live with more terror today. Just the reality. There's nothing we can do about it.

I think it's -- you know, it's a kind of haunting piece. And in a way, it looks like she's looking at everything. It's about her fear and the life that she has to live inside the burqa. But from our side, it's about our fear of people who are dressed like this.

This is one of the few pieces we included in the show of 9/11, and this is a view from Brooklyn. And you just see these pigeons flying. And if you didn't know something terrible happened, it just seems like a very, very beautiful, poetic landscape. But in the background, 3,000 people are about to die.

The mailbox -- a very innocent looking object, has become something of terror. The mailbox was used to send anthrax through the mail right after 9/11.

There's a work of art that's made out of steel wool, which is the huge face of a dog. The dog has become an instrument of terror in our times. You know, they were used during World War II by the Germans in the camps. They've been used in Africa. They're being used in Israel now, and they're being used at the airports.

There's a piece with a windup toy, a little drummer boy that you wind up. And as the drummer is drumming, there's a video thing that opens on the ceiling. And on the floor it looks like you're in an airplane and the bottom is opening up and the bombs are falling.

I think it kind of puts you in the place of being in the bomber and maybe taking a little more direct responsibility about what happens when you throw bombs.

There is a video game that you have to shoot a man as he's walking along the floor. And it's amazing what happens once you have a gun in your hand and people start shooting. I think it's a fear about yourself and what you're capable of doing. It's the portrait of an American, really horrifying picture about who we are as Americans. You kind of see the big, healthy well- taken-care-of American surrounded by people who are starving. And I think it's had a great impact on a lot of people that have come here.

We wanted the show to be larger than just issues dealing with terrorism. Of course, terrorism is dealt with in the exhibition. But there are a lot of things that are more poetic, about a woman's fear of breast cancer.

It's a very brave piece with hope. The portrait is giving hope to other people to be out there that you can have the sickness, you can survive. You can have your breast taken off, and you can still have a great life.

It's a piece about his young son, a four-year-old son that dies. And the banality of this bed and this hospital room and being a parent and your child is dying. And no one, not the president, not the newspapers, the screaming in the streets that this poor young kid is dying. And that's the terror of this piece.

Terror is just part of our lives now going forward. We might control it better, and we might be able to live with it better. But I can't imagine a time anymore without terror. And I think artists can help us a little bit deal with the terror.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Morning papers after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: OK. Time to check morning papers from around the country, around the world. I'm going to talk really fast, because we don't have much time tonight. But we've got a lot of papers.

Guess what the lead is at the "International Herald-Tribune"? "It's Kerry/Edwards for the Democrats. North Carolina Senator is Thrilled to Accept the Nomination to be Running Mate." The side bar, "Candidate Who Offers a Can-Do Message."

That will appear in a lot of newspapers around the country and around the world.

"Christian Science Monitor," not a whole lot different. "What Edwards Brings to the Ticket." And their sidebar story, "Finally, A Number Two With Swing State Appeal." That's "Christian Science Monitor" there. Actually, most of the front page is on -- is on the ticket.

"The Oregonian," out west in Portland, Oregon. Their lead story is local: "Portland Archdiocese Declares Bankruptcy. Stage is Set for Heated Dispute Over Assets." This is a very good story, and it is more fallout from the priest sex abuse scandal. Now "New York Post," "Kerry's Choice: Dems pick Gephardt as VP Candidate." Well, you know, didn't quite work out that way, but it was a heck of an exclusive while it lasted. Anyway, we love the "Post."

Kind of reminds us of this headline, by the way: "Dewey Beats Truman." Anyway, we love the "Post." Don't pick on me. It could happen to anyone.

"Arrogant Guard Pilot is Found Guilty" is the lead in the "Chicago Sun-Times." This was the incident with the four Canadians died in the friendly fire incident in Afghanistan. The weather for Chicago -- that's where we do this, isn't it -- comfy.

You're off for a few days and you forget what city you're in.

We'll wrap it up in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We're out of time. We'll see you tomorrow. Good night.

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