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Missing American Soldiers Found Dead in Iraq; Interview With Delaware Senator Joe Biden; North Korea's Next Move?

Aired June 20, 2006 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Glad to have you with us.
Here is what is happening at this moment.

President Bush is in Vienna for a U.S.-European Union summit -- at the top of the agenda, efforts to keep the pressure on Iran to end its nuclear development program.

Near Sedona, Arizona, crews on the ground and in the air continue to battle wildfires threatening homes in the suburbs. Hot, dry, windy weather has fueled wildfires in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and California.

And we are just learning tonight about what really happened to two U.S. soldiers who were killed in Iraq in 2004. Military investigators now say they were shot by Iraqi officers on patrol with them. They say one or more Iraqis turned and fired on the American soldiers.

Tonight, a story that has turned out to be much bigger and more important than anyone had expected. The grim search is over for two American soldiers missing in Iraq since Friday. Their bodies are on their way home to their families tonight. But it could have been even more disturbing. The military says their bodies were used as a deadly trap, designed to kill other troops trying to recover their remains.

Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre has been working on the story all day long. And he's just filed this report.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Military sources could not say how or exactly when Privates Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker died. But they suffered what was described as significant trauma, so much so that DNA tests will be required to make a final identification.

The bodies were found in early evening along a road in an isolated area near Yusufiyah, the same village where the soldiers were captured three nights earlier, when they came under attack while guarding a bridge over a canal. Local Iraqis spotted the bodies and tipped the U.S. military, warning the remains could be booby-trapped.

The recovery took nearly 12 hours, because the bodies had, in fact, been rigged with explosives and the main route to the site lined with IEDs, in what the U.S. military says was a clear attempt to target the recovery team.

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, U.S. ARMY SPOKESMAN, COALITION FORCES IN IRAQ: We secured the area with a fairly large group of soldiers last night, so as to protect that and allow nobody either to enter or exit that location, and, then, at first dawn, brought in explosive ordnance and other assets and went in and recovered our -- what we believe to be our two American soldiers.

MCINTYRE: One IED exploded, but no one was hurt, says a military spokesperson. It was the same tactic used last April, when insurgents posted this video, after claiming to have shot down an Apache helicopter, also in the vicinity of Yusufiyah. In that case, the U.S. military now says 19 IEDs had been planted near the wreckage, slowing recovery of the remains of two pilots for half-a-day.

A radical Islamist Web site that usually carries messages from the insurgency boasted that al Qaeda's new leader in Iraq, believed to be Egyptian Abu al-Masri, personally killed the soldiers. The posting said, in part, "We executed God's will and slaughtered the two crusader animals we had in captivity."

The U.S. military said it could not verify the claim.


MCINTYRE: And the U.S. military is disputing reports that the soldiers may have made a critical mistake, because they were part of a bigger force that split up before they were attacked. They're saying there was only one attack and there were only these three soldiers at that location when it occurred -- Paula.

ZAHN: So, Jamie, is that what they really think went wrong, or is there another theory out there?

MCINTYRE: Well, right now, what went wrong was the idea that these three soldiers were just too small a force. They were easily overwhelmed by these insurgents, and they should not have been by themselves at this location.

And the investigation now is looking into why it was that three soldiers were allowed by themselves to be isolated where they could be easily attacked by insurgents.

ZAHN: Keep us posted on any details you come across. Jamie, thanks.

Of course, this is a devastating blow for the friends and families of both soldiers, many of whom had been praying for a miracle.

Our Ed Lavandera has more on that.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just a year ago, Kristian Menchaca joined an Army infantry unit. And, within months, he was on the front lines in Iraq, guarding military checkpoints. The 23-year-old soldier saw his family for the last time in April during a quick vacation. Family members noticed, the boy who had joined the Army had become a man.

MARIO VASQUEZ, UNCLE OF PRIVATE 1ST CLASS KRISTIAN MENCHACA: He wanted to defend his country. He -- he was ready. He was a man. He -- they turned him into a man.

LAVANDERA: The details of Army Private 1st Class Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker's last moments alive are so horrifying, Menchaca's family could not restrain their anger for the killers. But the family says they're certain he fought hard until the end.

M. VASQUEZ: He was prepared. He was ready. They trained him well, yes. And I don't -- if he would have the chance, I don't think he would have given up so easily. I'm sure he fought.

LAVANDERA: From the moment both soldiers disappeared, Menchaca's brother struggled to imagine what the young soldiers must be battling.

CESAR VASQUEZ, BROTHER OF PRIVATE 1ST CLASS KRISTIAN MENCHACA: I was mentally preparing myself, you know, for -- for bad news, but I never thought that he would actually get kidnapped. I mean, one thing is being killed. Another thing is getting taken by terrorists and -- and getting tortured every day.

LAVANDERA: In Oregon, supportive neighbors in Thomas Tucker's hometown have put up ribbons and messages for his family.

KENT WRIGHT, PRESIDENT, LOCAL LIONS CLUB: You kind of hold out that little bit of hope that, you know, something good could come of the situation. And then -- then to hear otherwise, it was quite a letdown.

LAVANDERA: Tucker's parents released a statement saying, they realize he gained a much larger family through this ordeal than he had when he left home to help free the Iraqi people and protect his country from the threat of terrorism. Menchaca's family says they're focusing on helping Kristian's mother and young wife cope with the loss.

M. VASQUEZ: You pray for tranquility in among yourself. And, you know, you have to accept reality.

LAVANDERA: Mario Vasquez says the Army must hunt down the killers.

M. VASQUEZ: I think you capture them, make them pay for what they did. You know, don't think that it's just two more soldiers. Don't negotiate anything.

LAVANDERA: Thomas Tucker was a young man who loved to play the piano. Kristian Menchaca had dreams of becoming a Border Patrol agent. Their families hope you never forget their faces.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Houston. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And, after three years of bloodshed and more than $300 billion, a majority of Americans now favor some kind of timetable for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.

In Washington, the Senate is gearing up for a no-holds-barred debate tomorrow over whether to begin troop reductions this year. Now, this could be the most important vote on Iraq since the war began in spring of 2003. But even Democrats are divided on the issue. Some want all the troops out now. Some want them out a year from now. And some say just even setting a timetable is irresponsible.

I talked about all of that just a short time ago with the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.


ZAHN: Your party is getting creamed as the party of cut-and- runners, the wobbly, the weak. Some Democrats want the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Some think they should be out a year from now. And some think setting a timetable, period, is irresponsible. So, do you understand why that divisiveness compromises the credibility of your party?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Well, I don't think it does compromise the credibility. I understand the divisiveness, because they look at a united Republican Party in a failed policy.

There is not a single change the president has suggested since the last year and the year before that. And the entire party is uniting around him. Watch what happens if they don't change policy by purging the militia, by purging the military, by getting the Sunni buying, and keeping the neighbors out of -- those things don't happen between now and September, nothing is going to be different in October.

ZAHN: So, what do you think of your colleague John Kerry's plan to pull all the troops out by this time next year...


ZAHN: ... with the exception of the troops that will remain to continue training Iraqi militia?

BIDEN: I strongly disagree with John. I strongly disagree with anybody who thinks you should set an end date, irrespective of anything else.

So, that's why I will vote against that. But I agree with John more than I do with the president, who says: Look, Iraq, we trust you. Keep things going as they are. We have no new suggestions for you. You're united. We're going to keep our forces there as long as you need them. If you gave me those two choices, John's is a better choice. At least he gets us out of what's going to be a civil war, if they don't act.

ZAHN: Are you telling me tonight, then, that it's not important for Democrats to reach a consensus on the issue of troop withdrawal?

BIDEN: I am telling you it's important for the president to have a plan how to win. He's put not a single new piece on the table, not one single thing, Paula.

And he says that you now have this united Iraqi government. There's not a single person I know that thinks, without significant involvement by our ambassador in the United States, as occurred at every step along the way, that there's any possibility that, six months from now, it's going to be a more united country, with fewer Americans being killed and fewer Iraqis being killed.

ZAHN: So, given the intense divisions in the Senate, realistically, what is the best that can come out of these debates?

BIDEN: I think the best thing we could hope for is that the president has a plan he hadn't told us about, because nothing the Senate does today is going to, in fact, change the president's mind, if he hasn't already, already decided to do it.

ZAHN: Senator Biden, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

BIDEN: Thank you very much, Paula.


ZAHN: And now we change our focus by turning to our nightly countdown of the top 10 stories on -- about 17 million of you going to our Web site today.

Number 10 -- a very surprising and heartfelt apology from Mayor John Fabrizi of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Today, he admitted abusing cocaine while in office. But he also said he has been clean for the past 18 months and that he's now in drug treatment. Fabrizi took office back in 2003.

Number nine -- pretty scary moments out there today in the air. An American Airlines jet arriving from L.A. makes an emergency landing at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The MD-80 touched down safely without its front landing gear, which failed to deploy. A total of 136 people were on board -- some smart pilots and some luck as well.

Numbers eight and seven coming up next, plus a tense standoff that has much of the world focused on an unpredictable nuclear power.


ZAHN (voice-over): North Korea's next move -- the rogue nuclear state has a missile on the launchpad, and it could reach the U.S. What happens if they push the button? Also, Brad and Angelina on a celebrity mission of mercy -- the family who has it all shines a spotlight on those who have nothing. Can star power really help all those millions of refugees?

All that and more just ahead.



ZAHN: Still ahead here tonight, Oscar winner Angelina Jolie in her first interview since having her baby, talking about motherhood, Brad Pitt, and her passion for helping the world's refugees -- also do a little Shiloh talk as well.

But, first, here is what's happening at this moment.

In Gaza, fighting continues between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel fired a missile at a car believed to be carrying militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Reports indicate the militants fled just before the attack, but, in the process, three children were killed.

Japan is now saying it will pull its soldiers out of Iraq beginning today. Japan had sent 16 soldiers -- six -- excuse me -- 600 soldiers to Iraq back in 2004. And the Japanese prime minister said the pullout did not signal a break with Washington.

On to our "Crude Awakenings," a daily look at gas prices all over the country. The states with today's highest prices are in red, the lowest ones in green -- average price today for unleaded regular, unchanged at $2.85. And, our graph, this one, shows the trend over the last month or so, a little bit dip there over the last week.

The world, though, is on edge right now, because, at any moment, we could hear some disturbing news that North Korea has test-launched a long-range missile powerful enough to reach the U.S. mainland. At this moment, that missile is locked on its launchpad, loaded with fuel, and ready to ignite an international crisis.

North Korea has already refused to stop its nuclear program. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice now warns that adding an intercontinental missile to the mix would be a provocative act.

How the U.S. military might respond from our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Okinawa, an Air Force spy plane takes off carrying sensors that can be used to track North Korea's expected launch of its long-range Taepodong-2 missile. Bush administration officials hope international pressure will keep North Korea from conducting a test launch of a missile that could hit the United States.

ALEXANDER VERSHBOW, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: This missile has a military capability. And we view it, therefore, as a serious matter, particularly in the context of North Korea's illegal development of nuclear weapons.

STARR: If there is a missile launch, the U.S. military will be able to see how well its $11 billion missile defense program works. Several elements of a defensive shield are already in place.

Early-warning satellites will detect the exhaust from a launch within seconds. Then, upgraded radar in the Alaska's Aleutian Islands and at Beale Air Force Base in Sacramento, California, will begin tracking the missile's path.

U.S. Navy ships in the Pacific with upgraded radars will also track the Taepodong missile, which has a reported range of about 3,000 miles. All of this will help the U.S. quickly determine if Pyongyang is using the missile to simulate an attack. The U.S. currently has three aircraft carriers, hundreds of aircraft and other military assets in the Pacific participating in a long-planned exercise.

The Pentagon has drafted orders for a military response to a North Korean missile launch, but only as a matter of routine.

(on camera): Everyone believes this is nothing more than a test by North Korea, not an attack. But if it were an attack, then the U.S. military could use nine interceptor missiles it has in Alaska and two in California to try and shoot the North Korean missile down.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


ZAHN: And we have got late word that Japan and South Korea are very concerned about this situation. You might remember, eight years ago, Japan strongly protested after North Korea launched a missile without warning.

We turn our attention now to another crisis, the 15 million people all over the world who have been driven from their homes, as we mark U.N. World Refugee Day. We will go live to Uganda and one settlement that is now home to tens of thousands of refugees.

Also, Angelina Jolie has made it her mission to spread the word about the refugee crisis. And, tonight, we will hear her speak about that and a whole lot more, even a little Shiloh talk, in her first interview since having her little baby girl.

First, though, at number eight on our countdown -- a former White House official today convicted by a federal jury. David Safavian was convicted of obstruction of justice and lying about his dealings with disgraced former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Number seven, former anchor Dan Rather and CBS News agree to part ways. Rather has been at the network for 44 years and will leave before his contract ends in November. We wish him well.

Stay with us. Numbers six and five are next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: So, let's all think about this. What would happen if everyone in the state of Illinois suddenly had to flee their homes and try to survive by themselves? Well, that should give you some idea of the scale of the world's refugee crisis.

Fifteen million men, women and children have been chased from their homes by the violence of war, the desperate search for food, and the devastation of natural disasters.

Tonight, CNN is covering World Refugee Day with reports from all over the globe. And, according to the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, five nations, Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan, account for nearly half the total population of people uprooted from their homes.

By focusing on the plight of refugees, the U.N. wants to send a simple message of hope, the hope that millions can be helped, protected, and, more importantly, go home.

We are going to spend time tonight on this important story.

Our first stop is in Iraq, where you may not realize where the war has already left nearly two million people homeless.

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson shows us exactly what's happening right now in just one Iraqi city.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Yusef (ph) helps load his TV on the family truck. They're packing up and leaving east Ramadi, salt, pasta, gas stove, satellite dish, and seven children all aboard.

(on camera): So, why is he -- why does he have his family packed up here?

(voice-over): An Iraqi army captain helps translate. A new U.S. and Iraqi army checkpoint is bringing insurgent attacks close to their home, they say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Now my house is very danger, because now I must stay in the crossfire. If this place take -- get attack, I would be from too far coalition force and the terrorists.

ROBERTSON: The captain, who fears insurgent retribution for being in the army, hides his identity behind his helmet and sunglasses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This road, we close this road, because very, very danger. And we can consider this area a dead area.

ROBERTSON: At the new checkpoint, he tells me, insurgents have already killed two of his soldiers since it opened less than two months ago. But they need it to be there to stop insurgents getting in and out of the city.


ROBERTSON (on camera): Just one family left today?


ROBERTSON: This is -- the number is -- the number of families is going down or going up?



ROBERTSON: It's going down?


ROBERTSON (voice-over): In the past few weeks, Iraqi soldiers have recorded about 300 Ramadi families leaving the city, fleeing in fear of a U.S. and Iraqi crackdown on insurgents, similar to a massive U.S. offensive on the nearby insurgent holdout of Fallujah a year-and- a-half ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me and my soldiers, we try explain that for them, to no operation, no nothing they -- happened like Fallujah.

ROBERTSON: But, he says, insurgents are telling people to leave, as they will stay in Ramadi and fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That people now is confused who believe, the government or the terrorists, because they lose the trust both the terrorists and the government. They lose the trust. That's the -- the main issue.

ROBERTSON (on camera): This is one of the checkpoints back into the city of Ramadi. And although the number of families leaving the city has dropped off significantly, Iraqi army officers here at least say, so far, they're not seeing any of those families coming back just yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In one month, we should have an answer, yes or no.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): At the nearby U.S. civil military affairs office, people forced out of their homes by the new checkpoint come to get compensation. It's a two-month process. And most say they are now desperate for the cash.

SERGEANT ANTHONY PIKE, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Any return fire that we do, if there's any collateral damage, we want to go in there and -- and right the wrong that we did.

ROBERTSON: But, as he shows me a map of the checkpoint, civil affairs officer Captain Driscoll explains, there are limits to compensation. CAPTAIN WILLIAM DRISCOLL, U.S. MARINE CORPS: We can't pay because people are scared. People throughout Iraq are scared. What we do pay for is people who physically, because of the way we have set the checkpoint up, cannot get to their house.

ROBERTSON: Cold comfort for Yusef (ph) and his family, as they set off to try and find a safer place to live.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Ramadi, Iraq.


ZAHN: And, as our coverage of World Refugee Day continues, the big exclusive tonight -- Angelina Jolie speaking for the first time since the birth of her baby Shiloh about her commitment to the refugee cause.

Also, our own Christiane Amanpour, who has reported from so many of the world's crisis points, shares some of her personal memories.

Right now, number six on our countdown -- a very powerful storm in the Pacific causes some huge waves off the coast of Central America, battering homes and beachfront properties. Several hundred people were evacuated in at least eight countries.

Number five -- one of the largest U.S. military exercises in decades is under way right now in the Pacific, off the island of Guam, amid rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Thirty ships, 280 aircraft, and 22,000 troops are taking part in that five-day exercise -- number four on our list right after this.

Please stay with us.


ZAHN: Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie has devoted herself to the cause of the world's 15 million refugees for years. She happens to be a U.N. goodwill ambassador, frequently visiting refugee camps and devoting herself to spreading the word and tonight, as part of our coverage of U.N. World Refugee Day, Anderson Cooper has an exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie, her first since she and Brad Pitt had that very famous baby Shiloh. And Anderson now joins me with a look ahead to the special interview. Congratulations.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, thanks. It was fascinating. I mean we sat down with her about four days after she and Brad Pitt had returned from Namibia. And she looks great, she's amazing. But what was really striking to me is just how focused she is on trying to use her celebrity. And she knew this interview would get a lot of attention because it's the first time she's talked since the baby.

But to use it for causes she feels is important. And so she knew talking to us that we would be talking about refugees and really trying to inform people about the kind of things she sees often in refugee camps. ZAHN: And what is so clear in watching it, this is not a shallow commitment. Like you sometimes see with people attaching themselves to causes. She has a deep and abiding passion.

COOPER: Right, she does this when the cameras aren't around, she donates, she says, about one third of her income to these causes. And she spends a significant chunk of time in these camps. And really working alongside with U.N. aid workers.

ZAHN: Let's listen to her now describe why she cares so much about this.


ANGELINA JOLIE, UN GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: You start to think, how do you deal with trafficking? How do you deal with with civil wars? How do you deal with them? You start to realize it's all that so many of these people -- and it happens in countries where people are vulnerable and desperate and don't have the resources and don't have any option for any other kind of life and probably don't have an education.

So you start to realize like this is where we need to invest our money, which we all kind of know that. We need people not fighting over resources. We need them all to have enough. We need there to be basic education for everybody. Because there are proven statistics on how that changes your life. How your chances of getting AIDS, your chances of everything, as a woman or as a man, even getting the child soldiers, just your chances of having a more solid life.

COOPER: Education is key.

JOLIE: If you're educated. And so for that, and then just basic resources that people need to survive, like food and shelter. There would be less violence, there would be less of all the things going on.


ZAHN: I guess in so many ways, this must be so surreal for her, to walk off the red carpet into this world that so few people in America have been exposed to. Did she talk to you about how, when she was first exposed to this kind of human suffering, with the starvation and lack of medicine, how she reacted to it?

COOPER: Yes, it was really in Sierra Leone. She talks about this a lot tonight in the interview. She saw a child, a 3-year-old child, whose hands had been cut off. And in the civil war in Sierra Leone, that was quite common, disfiguring of children and women in horrible, horrible ways.

And she talked about after seeing that and after hearing the other stories of people in Sierra Leone, sort of really a fundamental change took place in her life. And she saw things in a different perspective. And she had grown -- she talked about growing up in Hollywood, being an actress and focusing on herself. And it sort of, she says, opened her up in many ways. And became much more empathetic and much more understanding of the reality that the bulk of the people around the world live in.

ZAHN: And she not only just talks about the refugee problem in these countries where we see the majority of these folks without homes, but she talks about the problem here too. In the United States, of some people, little children who find themselves refugees here. Let's listen to that part of the interview now.


COOPER: One of the problems which often seem like they're far away. But you've also been focusing a lot on problems right here in the United States of children who are coming into America, unaccompanied, unaccompanied minors. And basically find themselves in the legal system without representation.

JOLIE: Yes. They have none here. And a few years ago they would end up in more of a jail-like situation as well. Which now, things have been transferred to the office of refugee resettlement and it's become better.

It's more like a foster care house for these kids. But that's just been the last few years that's changed. That was the first step. And now the thing is that they don't have any legal representation.

So basically, you've got a kid that was maybe, you know, a Chinese kid or that was trafficked, things happened to her sexually, maybe even a boy, things happened to him sexually, he doesn't speak English.


ZAHN: All right, she talks about some really important things. And then, of course, she talks about something equally important, her new motherhood, and any of us who has had a C-section wonders how someone can look like that, and she described to you what she went through in Namibia when she gave birth. You of course interviewing her just four days after the birth of baby Shiloh. Let's listen to that now.


COOPER: What was it like actually giving birth? I mean, you had two children through adoption. What was it like?

JOLIE: We ended up having -- she was in breach. I ended up having a cesarean, so it was very quick. It was -- and.

COOPER: Brad was in the operating room?

JOLIE: He was in the operating room, yes, yes. And we had amazing doctors and everybody was so lovely. And you know, you're just -- because you're there for the birth, which I wasn't for my first two kids, you're just suddenly terrified that they're not going to take a first breath. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: I think that's all of our fears when we give birth. But she also had some interesting thoughts about how she could make sure her adoptive children are treated the same way as this brand new biological child.

COOPER: Yes, and in the interview she talks about her own fears that she would feel differently about her biological child than she did about Maddox and Zahara, her adopted kids. And talks about how she was relieved after the birth that the love was the same, that there was no difference. And then it was a question of how does Maddox and Zahara -- or Z, as she calls her, adapt to the new baby? And she talks also tonight about looking for another baby. Wanting to -- she and Brad Pitt wanting to adopt another child.

ZAHN: Most of us when we have children and gain 40 pounds or whatever don't have to do it under the glare of the spotlight and have to travel to another country to kind of hide from the paparazzi. Did she say anything else about the experience of relocating these two young kids and spending the last two months of her pregnancy in Africa?

COOPER: Well I think she wanted -- you know, she has one child born of Africa, I think she wanted another child born of Africa. And I think she wanted a place where her family could be together and they could have a really special time.

She talked about not wanting to be held up in some house in Malibu under siege. But really it being an experience for the whole family. And they found this place that both she and Brad Pitt love, Namibia, and where they could get some privacy.

And where they could also shine a light on a country a lot of people don't know about and help problems even there. I mean, they were donating money to two state-run hospitals because they found, while they were there, that those hospitals didn't have basic supplies. Paper, things which we all take for granted, machines for mothers that they would benefit from.

ZAHN: Did you get to see the new longitude/latitude tattoo marking the birth countries of her two adoptive children?

COOPER: I did not, but she talked about another tattoo which is part of the U.N. declaration of human rights which she has on her back and we talk about that.

ZAHN: Well she deserves an awful lot of credit for all of this work that she's done. She's traveled to a lot of places that a lot of people would never want to set foot in.

COOPER: She's really impressive and I think you're going to be surprised at sort of the depth and knowledge that she has in this interview.

ZAHN: So you do plan on coming back at 10:00 and doing your own show tonight?

COOPER: Eh sure, why not?

ZAHN: All right, we'll be watching. Thanks Anderson, appreciate you spending a little time with us tonight.

Still ahead, how Angelina Jolie's significant other, and you know who he is, yes, Brad Pitt. He has also taken up the refugee cause by producing a new documentary telling the moving story of three Sudanese boys who survived a 1,000-mile trek to safety. It's an amazing story.

Before that, No. 4 on our countdown. Michael Jackson is facing a new trial in California. A former associate is suing him for nearly $4 million in unpaid loans and salary. Jury selection is expected to begin next week. Jackson, as you might remember, was acquitted of child molestation charges one year ago. No. 3 straight ahead, please stay with us.


ZAHN: You see the numbers on this World Refugee Day and you might not expect good news, but here it is. A U.N. official says the number of refugees in the world is the lowest in decades. They've been -- there have been successes as well as failures. Our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour has done an extraordinary job covering both. Tonight, some pages from her reporter's notebook.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I started covering refugee crises just after the first Gulf War, when millions of Iraqi Kurds fled Saddam Hussein's violent campaign of revenge. We watched them huddle pitifully across the border in Iran.

But soon, the U.S. formed a no-fly zone to protect them as they returned to resettle in northern Iraq. Right now, the biggest and most urgent refugee problem is in Darfur, an embattled and desperately poor region in western Sudan, where people have been caught up in a seemingly endless ethnic conflict.

Hundreds of thousands of them have died. And many more hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes, refugees in their own land.

(on camera): We're here at the Riad camp (ph) outside El Geneina, the capital of western Darfur. And what you can see is people living in basic structures. You can't even call these huts because they're just a bunch of twigs and straw matting that people have had to put up. They don't even have plastic shelter and that's going to be a big, big problem because the rainy season has just started. Sometimes it comes down in sheets. Like as one person describes, sheets of glass.

We're in what's called an ambulatory therapeutic feeding center. This is set up by the French relief group and it's something that they've done exceptionally here to treat the most severely malnourished children. First they put them in these scales to determine their weight compared to how old they are.

(voice-over): This little upper arm bracelet tells the story. Green is OK. Yellow at risk. Orange is malnourished and red is severe malnutrition. That's the case with Hamdi Ismail (ph). He's one and half years old and weighs only about 12 pounds. His grandmother Hadija (ph) has brought him here because he can't keep any food down. She says he's also got the flu.

For a population on the edge like this one, a simple case of diarrhea can be a killer. MSF has found 20 percent of the children in western Darfur are severely malnourished. That's one in every five children. Those as badly off as Hamdi don't have long to live unless they can keep fluids and formula down.

(on camera): Here we are in Habila, a village that has not had any food distribution since June. And so this plane is bringing in much-needed food aid. It's a giant Russian alutian commandeered by the U.N., the World Food Program and any minute now it's going to open up. There we see it. And 12 tons of aid is going to plop to the ground. Then these armies of people come to collect it and take it to the distribution points. There are columns of men who have come up here and they're going to haul it on their backs.

And then there are the ladies. These people have come with their little straw brushes, little baskets, and literally they're picking up every single grain. It's that desperately needed.

(voice-over): It is the promise of home that sustains millions during their darkest hours. While never being allowed to return home just sows the seeds for the next generation of war and conflict.


ZAHN: Christiane Amanpour with some amazing reporting showing us stuff that we've never seen unfold that way. And one more hopeful sign for all of us, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights counts more than six million refugees who have been able to return to their homes in the last four years alone.

Our coverage of World Refugee Day continues with three boys who survive Sudan's refugee crisis 20 years ago. Their story is told in a new film produced by Brad Pitt.

Let's take a quick biz break.


ZAHN: Much more ahead, including the real story behind Brad Pitt's new film telling the dramatic story of three boys who escaped life as refugees in Sudan.

A little bit later on tonight, please join Anderson Cooper for his exclusive interview with -- you know who this is, Angelina Jolie talking about the refugee crisis, Brad, and their new baby Shiloh coming up at 10:00.

Now onto No. 3 in our countdown. After Bruce Willis has filed a $1 million defamation suit against a paparazzo, that would be like a photographer, a photographer accused Willis of hitting him outside an L.A. restaurant last week. Willis said he was trying to shield his eyes from the camera's flash.

Numbers two and one on our list just ahead.


ZAHN: Fifteen million people forced out of their homes. It is a terrifying number. And as we've heard just a little bit earlier here tonight, few people know that better than Angelina Jolie. But her partner, Brad Pitt, is also raising some awareness about the refugee crisis. He happens to be the executive producer of an award-winning film on the lost boys of Sudan. It's a heart-breaking story with flashes of some hope and triumph. Sibila Vargas has tonight's "Eye Opener."


SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Dau lives in a modest apartment building on a quiet street in Syracuse, New York, with the usual array of modern amenities -- computer, TV. But not so long ago, his life was one of utter deprivation, for he was one of the so-called lost boys of Sudan.

JOHN DAU, FORMER SUDANESE REFUGEE: It was a war life. Life was just a matter of just running from place to place. You don't know where you're going to be tomorrow.

VARGAS: Dau was one of an estimated 25,000 boys in southern Sudan who fled their homes in the midst of a civil war in the 1980s. Hunted by militias from the north, the boys marched 1,000 miles on foot to safety, and eventually wound up in a Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya.

DAU: You go for like three days without food. Four days. You know? And even water. So it was very, very difficult.

VARGAS: Dau's story and those of other lost boys are told in the new documentary "God Grew Tired of Us," a project that has attracted celebrity support. Brad Pitt executive produced the film; Nicole Kidman narrated it.

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: With little hope of finding their parents or families alive and the impossibility of returning to war- ridden Sudan, the United States agreed to resettle some of the lost boys to America.

VARGAS (on camera): In 2001, Dau and 4,000 of the lost boys were allowed to emigrate to the U.S., closing a terrible chapter that for him lasted 15 years. The documentary shows Dau and others adjusting to a new life they had never imagined. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first thing you have to learn here is the switch to turn light on and off. Come and see how it's done. OK? And I want one of you, you have to learn how to turn it. On, off. On, off.

This is the refrigerator. Your food is refrigerated for you. OK? Your chicken. Somebody turned off the light.

VARGAS (voice-over): A hot shower was something new.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before you get in and start taking a shower, you have to check to see if the temperature is good for you.

VARGAS: So were potato chips.

In Africa, you used to cook it. You know, boil it. OK? Here, they (inaudible), no, they make them a different way. They come with chips. You know, they slice it, they fry it, they put it in a bag. OK?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's already cooked, yes.

VARGAS: Perhaps most strange of all, an American supermarket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are doughnuts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are colored sprinkles that we decorate them with. Want to try one? Taste it.

VARGAS: It's been five years since Dau went through that initial adjustment.

DAU: It was a big, big surprise to us. Because when you see a lot of food in this such huge grocery store, you can see aisles of food. I mean, dog aisles and cat aisles of food.

VARGAS: The attention the film has been earning -- it won the top prize at Sundance -- has helped Dau raise over $150,000 for a medical facility he plans to build in Sudan.

DAU: This is where I'm going to build a medical clinic.

VARGAS: In the meantime, Dau, who is now 33, is building a home in Syracuse for himself, his future wife, who is also a Sudanese refugee, his mother, and a sister with whom he was reunited. He works full time and he's going to school.

DAU: Start living the American dream.

VARGAS: He reflects on a journey that took him from destitution in Africa to a new life in America. DAU: Just keep hoping that maybe sometime you'll get to a place where you can maybe regain your -- who you are, your identity, your integrity. Who you are. You can regain that back. And that, to regain that back is to come to a good country like the United States, where people are there to help you.

VARGAS: Sibila Vargas, CNN, Los Angeles.


ZAHN: And another of the lost boys, now living in Pittsburgh, is working to raise money to build four schools in Sudan.

Coming at the top of the hour, "LARRY KING LIVE" focuses on the two American soldiers missing, now believed killed in Iraq. Larry will speak with friends of one of them.

First though, number two on our countdown. We covered it earlier on. The U.S. has activated its missile defense system amid concerns over a possible launch of a long-range missile by North Korea.

Number one is our lead. In Iraq, coalition forces have found what they say are the bodies of two U.S. soldiers who have been missing since a an attack on Friday. Lots of questions about what went wrong tonight. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Not too much traffic out there tonight. What a relief!

That wraps it up for all of us here. Thanks so much for joining us. Glad to have you drop by. Please be sure to join Anderson Cooper at 10:00. You'll see Angelina Jolie again.

Thanks for joining us. Good night.


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