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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Israel Attacks Palestinian Refugee Camp in Lebanon; United Nations Debates Rival Middle East Peace Plans; How High Will Gas Prices Go?
Aired August 8, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
We're going to get straight to tonight's breaking news -- in our "Top Story" coverage, the crisis in the Middle East. For the very first time in the war, Israeli helicopter gunships shell Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp. It's in Sidon. And it is home to some 50,000 refugees. Early reports say, at least one person is dead, at least six wounded. We're just beginning to get some video fed in from where that happened.
Now, as the fighting continues, Israel has just announced a big shakeup in its military top brass. We will have much more on what this means in the next couple of minutes.
Now, tomorrow, Israel's cabinet considers whether to expand the military campaign.
Israel, meanwhile, warning civilians across southern Lebanon to stay off the roads, or risk becoming targets themselves. But, at a packed meeting of the U.N. Security Council, Lebanon makes a dramatic and passionate plea for peace. Lebanese officials and their Arab allies want changes in a peace plan being written by the U.S. and France.
Right now, we're bringing in live reports from Beirut and Tyre, as well as along the Israeli-Lebanese border. We have late word tonight, as we mentioned, of a major shakeup in the Israeli military.
Let's start right now where we have started so often in the last month, along the Israeli-Lebanese border.
And that's where we find John Roberts.
John, always good to have you with us.
Is this a sign, a tacit sign, by the leadership that they just aren't doing the job that needs to be get -- getting done?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Paula, good evening to you.
There has been a lot of criticism by hard-liners here in Israel that the ground campaign has not been going well, that it has not been conducted properly, that there should have been a lot more boots on the ground a lot earlier in this campaign, that the Israeli army has gotten bogged down in cities like Bint Jbail and Aita al-Shaab, and that's why they're taking such heavy casualties.
The man in charge of the ground campaign is Major General Udi Adam. He is the head of the northern command, well-known figure here in Israel. His father was killed in the first Lebanese campaign.
But, just a few hours ago, Major General Dan Halutz, who is the Israeli army chief of staff, appointed his deputy, Moshe Kaplinksi, to come up here to the northern command to oversee and coordinate the operations.
They still say that they have faith in Udi Adam. But it would seem, at this point, Paula, that him sending -- this is Halutz -- sending his deputy chief of staff up here to oversee and coordinate the operation is really a vote of no-confidence in what Adam has been doing.
And all of this takes place on the eve of what appears to be a major operation about to happen, a major expansion in the ground operation here in northern Israel and into southern Lebanon.
ROBERTS (voice-over): An intense round of gunfire in this Israeli army video, obtained exclusively by CNN, demonstrates what the military describes as the difficult fight to dislodge Hezbollah from towns and villages in southern Lebanon.
In this battle, the army claims success, planting the Israeli flag on a Hezbollah outpost in Salov (ph). The flag-raising is merely an act of bravado. But it is a symbol of a deeper issue that threatens diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the fighting. Lebanese officials reject any agreement that leaves Israeli troops on Lebanese soil. Israel won't withdraw unless its security is guaranteed.
Lebanon's prime minister is attempting to bridge that divide, offering to send the Lebanese army to the south to take control.
His Israeli counterpart today said, the offer is worth considering.
EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I think that it will be fair to say that we study this. It -- it looks interesting. And we will examine it closely. And we will take counsel with other parties that are interested in the situation and that are working towards the resolution of the United Nations. And we will make up our mind about it.
ROBERTS: But there is little faith, at either the political or military level in Israel, that the Lebanese army is up to the job. Leaders of the elite reserve unit I spent 48 hours on the front lines with don't want to stay in southern Lebanon, but don't want to leave, unless Hezbollah is fully contained. MAJOR NADAV, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: If the resolution won't be in -- in such proportion that will keep this area safe, this -- then, this whole venture was just for nothing.
ROBERTS: In case diplomacy fails, the Israeli military is preparing to expand the ground campaign. Sources tell CNN, a division of reserves, 5,000 or more soldiers, may be brought to the front in the next 48 hours. In addition, say sources, the IDF may intensify its air attacks, while special forces, like the group that raided a Hezbollah hospital in Baalbeck, launch more tactical strikes.
Each day of this campaign grows more costly for Israel. Another three soldiers died in battle today. Many more were wounded. One hundred and forty-five rockets rained down on northern Israel today. No one was injured. But the nonstop attacks have left the north virtually deserted, the local economies in tatters.
But, if they don't take and hold ground in Lebanon, Israeli military leaders fear, Hezbollah will take advantage and regroup. And, almost to a man, it seems, that's not a price they are willing to pay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What we want to do is live in peace in our country behind a secure border. We want to move these terrorists away from the border area, so that we can get on with our lives.
ROBERTS: The Israeli security cabinet is expected to vote later on today on this plan to dramatically expand the ground war.
What's not clear at this point, though, is if they will actually go ahead with this, or if this is merely a threat to put more pressure on Lebanon to bring them around on the diplomatic front -- Paula.
ZAHN: I guess that will all be clear in the days to come.
John Roberts, thanks so much.
Now, there is some breaking news out of Lebanon as well tonight, reports that Israel has just attacked the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, killing one, injuring six.
Let's go straight to Beirut for the very latest from Jim Clancy.
Jim, what have you learned?
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, we talked to the head of Fatah in Lebanon, Sultan Abu al-Aynain. He's telling us that Israeli gunships, two of them, fired five rounds at an administration building inside the teeming Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp.
As you say, one person was killed. He said, three people were wounded. Those numbers may have updated to six now, as you're telling us. It hit that building, and we could see pictures of some of the steel-reinforced concrete and twisted metal, as rescue workers were trying to get in there. According to the Fatah official, this may have been Israel sending a message, a message that it would intend to implement Resolution 1559, a resolution that calls for disarming all militant groups in Lebanon, including Hezbollah and the PLO factions inside that teeming refugee camp.
While, officially, there are 50,000 registered residents there, the reality is, there's more than 100,000 Palestinians in that camp. And it's only swollen by some of the refugees in the south taking refuge there.
Meantime, concern all across Lebanon, from the south, up here to Beirut, about the growing toll of civilian casualties.
CLANCY (voice-over): Even as bombs fell in another part of the city, Lebanese lit candles in Beirut's Martyr Square Tuesday evening to memorialize civilians killed in this conflict, hundreds of them -- location, Beirut's southern suburb of Shiah.
Officials say, the toll from this Israeli strike on a crowded neighborhood Monday rose to 30 dead. Lebanese families insist, every single one is a civilian -- another victim rushed to a hospital after an Israeli airstrike, location, Ghaziyeh, a village just south of Sidon.
The bombs fell, even as villagers were burying 15 relatives killed in a bombing the previous day.
"There are no weapons and no rockets," this resident said. "There are no terrorists in this area."
As the number of dead and wounded rises, so does the debate over civilian casualties. Israel insists, Hezbollah fighters are using civilians as shields, hiding among them.
The Israeli military won't comment on why a particular target is selected. Lebanese insist that, because Israel can't find Hezbollah, it's pummeling them instead.
KHALED MANSOUR, UNITED NATIONS SPOKESPERSON: I think the number of civilians killed, for example, in Lebanon, far exceeds the number of combatants. As a matter of fact, the number of children killed exceeds the number of the combatants, we think.
CLANCY: Civilians almost always bear the brunt and suffering of war. A war that involves a guerrilla-style army like Hezbollah only increases the risks, as does the weaponry being used. But, in this conflict, some say, the risks attached to a basic function, like delivering food and medicine, are unreasonably harsh.
ROLAND HUGUENIN-BENJAMIN, SPOKESPERSON, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: We understand perfectly that there are military necessities. But, at the same time, we consider that it should be possible to designate certain roads on certain days for humanitarian action, and make sure that, for a few hours, access should be granted, for the sake of the population.
CLANCY: Israeli leaflets have warned drivers to stay off the roads in southern Lebanon, saying, all moving vehicles will be considered potential targets.
Roads to the southern city of Tyre and beyond are cut. The Red Cross and the U.N. say, this prevents them from delivering desperately needed food and water to an estimated 100,000 stranded villagers.
CLANCY: Now, humanitarian groups say that they approached the Israeli government and asked them if they could build a makeshift bridge to carry in some of the humanitarian supplies.
In their words, the Israelis replied: You build it, we will bomb it."
Now, the Israeli officials that we got ahold of said they never made that kind of a statement. They say, they are not doing anything to impede the flow of humanitarian aid to south Lebanon. But, tonight, there is no bridge to Tyre, and no aid is flowing -- Paula, back to you.
ZAHN: Thank so much, Jim, with some of the latest details out of Beirut.
And, as Jim just reported, once again, the Lebanese told him that the Israelis had actually hit an administration building in this refugee camp where some 50,000 people live -- the Israelis, at this hour, saying, in fact, they were targeting the home of a Hezbollah leader which happened to be in that same complex.
We move on now. Coming up, we have got other top stories we are following as well, including the latest controversy involving the media. Can you really believe your own eyes anymore?
ZAHN (voice-over): A dramatic picture of war turns out to be doctored. It fooled the pros and casts doubt on the truth. In this age of cut-and-paste, can you be sure you're getting the real story?
And the nation's biggest oil field is shut down for months. How high will gas prices go? And how long will they stay that way? -- all that and more just ahead.
ZAHN: Welcome back. Despite the fighting, as we speak tonight, diplomats at the U.N. are trying to hammer out a peace plan that both Israel and Lebanon can accept -- no easy task.
Just hours ago, at a packed meet of the U.N. Security Council, officials from both countries made dramatic pleas for peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAREK MITRI, LEBANESE SPECIAL ENVOY: We have come to this body, to the international community, asking for an immediate and comprehensive cease-fire. Twenty-seven days ago, we asked for an immediate cease-fire. More than 900 lives ago, we asked for an immediate cease-fire.
DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The terrorists are watching, Mr. President. If this council adopts the path of half-measures, concessions, and mere declarations, they will be emboldened, and we will find ourselves back at this table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: After the on-camera drama of this afternoon's meeting, U.N. diplomats are now behind closed doors, at this hour, trying to blend together two rival peace plans.
And we asked Deborah Feyerick to take an in-depth look as part of our "Top Story" coverage.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paula, let's lay out the plans in front of the U.N. Security Council right now.
The first, created by the U.S. and France, is divided into two parts, or resolutions. The first resolution calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities, meaning that both sides, Israel and Hezbollah, must stop shooting at each other. It is not a cease-fire, a term that is not used, because Israel can continue its defensive military operations. They can't attack, but they can defend.
The U.S.-French plan also deals with the border zone. Israeli troops that fought their way several miles into southern Lebanon, trying to take out Hezbollah strongholds, those troops would stay, at least for now. It's Hezbollah that would have to pull back, about 25 miles, to the Litani River.
And Israel says this is absolutely necessary to keep Hezbollah from reoccupying the border area and to create a buffer zone, in order to protect Israel from Israeli -- from -- in order to protect Israel from rockets. This is a major sticking point. Hezbollah says, it will not stop shooting until Israel leaves Lebanon.
Now, the second U.N. resolution establishes an international peacekeeping force that would secure the border and eventually help Lebanon's army take control of the whole border area. Once the peacekeepers are in place, that's when Israel says it will withdraw.
Lebanon and its allies in the Arab League are unhappy with the plan, saying it favors Israel. They want changes. And that's why they're in New York, lobbying the U.N. Security Council.
Here's what they want, two things. First, they want an immediate cease-fire, not a cessation of hostilities, but an actual cease-fire. That means no defensive operations for Israel.
Second, they want Israel to withdraw immediately, the idea being that Israel would hand over current positions in southern Lebanon to U.N. peacekeepers.
Let's say that that happens. It brings us to the next step of the Lebanese-Arab plan. Lebanon would send in about 15,000 of its own troops. They would not strike Hezbollah, nor, it seems, disarm the fighters. Their role, really, would be to make sure that the fighting doesn't start again. Israel does not believe the Lebanese army is up to that job.
Other demands by the Lebanese: immediate efforts to negotiate an exchange of prisoners, something the U.S.-French plan barely mentions, also, an international commitment to rebuild cities and towns that have been destroyed in the fighting.
So, there you have it, a key point, who leaves southern Lebanon first. Remember, Hezbollah says it won't stop shooting until Israeli forces withdraw. Israel says it won't go home until Hezbollah moves out of the area and there's some way to ensure that it won't move back in.
That means continued fighting, at least for now -- a Security Council vote on some kind of plan not expected until Thursday, at the earliest -- Paula.
ZAHN: Deborah Feyerick, thanks for making it so clear about what the U.N. has to confront at this hour in this very complicated matter.
We're going to put today's developments to our "Top Story" panel right now: John Fund, editorial page writer for "The Wall Street Journal," former "New York Times" foreign correspondent Donatella Lorch, and Tony Karon, senior editor for world coverage for "TIME" magazine.
Great to have our trio with us tonight.
Donatella, the bottom line here is, the Arab League hates the French-U.S. plan, and the Israelis aren't buying into the Lebanese plan. So, where is there any opening for a compromise here?
DONATELLA LORCH, FORMER "NEW YORK TIMES" FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, neither plan seems to be digestible to the other side.
But this is standard. They're going to have the two factions that are going to try and push their agenda as much as possible, including the United States.
So, what has to be done here is, they have to go back. They have to negotiate behind closed doors. And, at the same time, notice that the fighting has intensified along the border. The Israelis are saying they will bring more troops up; they will intensify it. Rockets keep on coming from Hezbollah's side.
Now, if we look at it the way it is, Hezbollah -- Hezbollah doesn't want to be disarmed. And they -- and they want the Israelis out of there, as do the Arab nations. So, there has to be some form of a compromise.
ZAHN: Well, let's talk, John, what about that compromise is going to look like. Even the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, says you can't please all sides here. And he says, the goal is simply to get on the road to a lasting solution.
JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, the...
ZAHN: Is that going to be all that different from what has been thrown out before?
FUND: Yes. The U.N. led out with the elements of a compromise six years ago, Resolution 1559, which said, central to having peace in the area, rather than a pause in the peace, was disarming Hezbollah.
ZAHN: Well, that didn't work.
FUND: All -- well, but somebody has to enforce it.
I think the plans can work, if they're accompanied with an international embargo on Hezbollah being resupplied with arms that is actually enforceable. If not, I can assure you, we're going to have a pause in the hostilities, not a peace.
ZAHN: What's the reality here, Tony? Is that ever really enforceable? John just mentioned, for six years, nothing has happened.
TONY KARON, SENIOR EDITOR FOR WORLD COVERAGE, "TIME": I don't think it's enforceable because of the political climate in the region. I don't think you can solve Lebanon in that -- in the way that he is suggesting, without solving particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Israeli-Syrian conflict, U.S. tension with -- with -- with Iran.
If -- un -- unless you have a comprehensive solution in that way, you're not going to get the political arrangements to work. That's why Hezbollah has never been disarmed.
FUND: Well, then the terrorists -- the terrorists will have more arms. And terrorists do what terrorists do. They launch attacks on innocent civilians, which is how this all started, remember?
KARON: Well, I think that...
LORCH: Well, this is not a two-faction war. This is not Lebanon against Israel.
This is, in many ways, a proxy war. We have the Americans involved, that want to get rid of Hezbollah. We have the Iranians, the Syrians. The way to get -- stop weapons to come in to Hezbollah is for -- somehow or other, for Israel to talk to Syria, for the United States to talk to Syria, to talk to Iran.
ZAHN: Well, the U.S. government has told us they are talking to Syria, maybe not with high-level...
KARON: Well, no, I think it's, you know...
ZAHN: ... officials, but certainly through back channels.
ZAHN: There's no doubt that that is going on at this hour.
FUND: The U.N. resolution has been on the table for six years. It's not enforced.
The problem the U.N. has is credibility. Everyone looks at the U.N. and says, you're not going to back up what you say you're going to do. And that's why the international force has to have real teeth this time, not just being a paper tiger.
KARON: Well, John, I think that the problem is, yes, the U.N. Resolution 1559. But there's also U.N. Resolution 242, U.N. Resolution 338, U.N. Resolution...
FUND: You're making my point.
FUND: Nothing -- the U.N. never enforces anything.
KARON: Right. But the point is that the United States is only insisting that the U.N. enforce resolutions that -- that concern this conflict.
FUND: Let's start with something...
KARON: No, that's...
KARON: And it's -- no, but... (CROSSTALK)
FUND: Something that actually has people -- innocent people dying, which is terrorists launching rockets...
KARON: The U.S. has actually started with the 242. And they actually dropped that.
FUND: ... would be a good place to start.
ZAHN: All right.
KARON: ... the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
LORCH: The main -- the main thing we have to do right now is try to -- what they have to do right now is try and figure out a way for the shooting to stop and the dead -- the death to stop.
And, to do that, the Arab countries feel that, if the Israelis aren't told that they have to leave, that they will just stay there, and that they will stay there for as long as they like.
So, in addition to this resolution, there has to be a timetable to -- if they agree to the Israeli troops staying, for how long, and when will they leave, and who will replace them, what is the mandate of whoever is going to replace them.
KARON: There's an additional point here, which is that...
ZAHN: Very quickly.
KARON: ... which -- which is that Israel actually doesn't control southern Lebanon at the moment. In order to get to that point, it's going to have to massively expand its operations.
So, in fact, the current resolution is an invitation for an expansion of the war, not simply for -- for keeping things going.
ZAHN: And an expansion which John Roberts reported, at the top of the hour, is planned for.
So, we will be keeping a close eye on this with our "Top Story" panel here.
A lot is going on at the U.N. over the next couple days. And we will keep you abreast of anything important to come out of those meetings.
Again, John Fund, Donatella Lorch, Tony Karon, thanks.
(CROSSTALK) ZAHN: We have all been so focused on the news coming out of the Middle East in the past couple of weeks that we have had to take a break from our nightly countdown of the top 10 most popular stories on CNN.com.
Well, tonight, we're bringing back it back.
That means we get to welcome back Melissa Long, who joins now from our Pipeline studio in Atlanta -- Melissa.
MELISSA LONG, CNN PIPELINE: Hi, Paula. Nice to see you again.
About 18 million people clicked on a myriad of stories today on CNN.com, in order to stay informed.
And our countdown this evening starts with the latest Atlantic hurricane predictions at number 10. The National Hurricane Center now expects seven to nine hurricanes this year. You may remember, it was back in May, eight to 10 hurricanes were predicted.
Number nine, a story from Baghdad -- the military hearing has ended for four U.S. soldiers accused of raping a teen and killing her family. The alleged incident took place in March near the town of Mahmoudiya. Investigators will now decide whether there's enough evidence for a court-martial.
And, at number eight, director George Lucas has signed off an a 20-minute version of his 13-hour "Star Wars" saga. It will be performed on stage in London a little later this month. And it's really interesting to try to understand how in the world they can condense 13 hours into a 20-minute comedy.
ZAHN: Yes, I don't -- I don't get how that's going to be done. But...
ZAHN: ... maybe that will be part of the allure of buying some expensive tickets.
ZAHN: Do you guys get that? You don't get that.
ZAHN: And you guys don't agree on anything.
FUND: Remember, they did instant Shakespeare.
FUND: They did all of Shakespeare's...
ZAHN: You got a point.
FUND: ... plays in an hour.
ZAHN: Well, if anybody can pull it off, George Lucas probably can. He has proven that before.
We're going to see you back here, Melissa, in just a little bit.
Now, the ancient Lebanese city of Tyre is mentioned in the Bible. And, tonight, people are wondering if the modern city is about to become the new front line in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. It is our next stop in our "Top Story" coverage.
And, then, a little bit later on, a picture from the war that really is unbelievable, because it was altered by someone with a computer -- check out these images closely, and we will talk about what this means, what you should believe, and what you shouldn't.
We will be right back.
ZAHN: Our "Top Story" coverage continues now with a Lebanese city that is paralyzed tonight. People in Tyre are still anticipating an all-out ground assault by Israel.
But, earlier today, Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets, warning that more airstrikes are, in fact, coming, and any car spotted moving would be shelled.
Joining me now from Tyre, Ben Wedeman with the very latest.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, hi, Paula.
Those leaflets were dropped on Tyre this morning. And, certainly, many people have heeded them. Basically, anybody driving around in a vehicle, the Israelis say, will be considered a legitimate target. They fear that those vehicles may be used to transport weapons or personnel with Hezbollah -- not only vehicles. Donkey carts, horse carts, as well, we're told, are also considered legitimate targets.
You can walk, we have been told. You can walk around town. There isn't really many -- there aren't many people left in town. The municipality tells us, maybe 80 percent of the population has left. But there still are people staying behind, because they just don't have the resources to get out of here.
A taxi ride from Tyre to Beirut, which is only about an hour away in the best of times, now costs as much as $600 -- Paula.
ZAHN: So, when you talk about these 20 percent of the population that's trapped, what -- what is alternative? They really have no other way out? WEDEMAN: Well, basically, there's no way out, because, at this point, the only road out of here has been bombed. The only way across the river, where that bombing has taken place, is either you wade through the water, our you cross on a log that somebody has put across. And that's essentially it.
So, people are staying behind. A lot of them, for instance, are Palestinian refugees living in the camps that are in town and also to the south of here. And their attitude is that they're hoping the Israelis won't bomb them. But we saw that, this evening, in Sidon, that is what happened at the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp.
But they're basically stuck where they are, and their fingers are crossed that this war will just pass them by.
ZAHN: Ben Wedeman, really appreciate that update out of Tyre. Appreciate it.
Again, our "Top Story" coverage will continue in a couple minutes.
But, right now, let's turn back to Melissa Long, who has more of our CNN.com countdown.
LONG: Hello, Paula. Looks like some fans aren't ready to make nice just yet. No. 7 tonight, the Dixie Chicks have canceled several dates on their North American tour after slow ticket sales, mostly in southern cities. The spokeswomen say a number of Canadian dates have been canceled as well in place of the canceled U.S. shows.
No. 6, four-year-old twins, the Herrin twins are now sleeping in separate beds for the very first time tonight. They are recovering after being separated at a Utah hospital after a marathon 26-hour operation.
Coming in at No. 5, about 100 workers at the Sargento cheese company in Wisconsin have won the latest Powerball jackpot worth $208 million. I'm sure they have very long lists of what they're doing with their cash.
ZAHN: Absolutely. And you wonder in two or three weeks from now if they'll be back to work.
LONG: I know.
ZAHN: They'll hang it up.
LONG: They'll have to find something to do.
ZAHN: Absolutely. Congratulations to all of them. Melissa, thanks. Coming up next in our top story coverage, a case where seeing isn't believing. We're going to look at this latest scandal over a dramatic picture that is too dramatic. Look at this very carefully. Before on the left, after on the right. You can't really make quite out that graphic under the show's name. There you go, now you can read it. I'll be asking a top story panel of experts how often news photos are doctored by computer.
And then a little bit later on, Israel says they have captured a Hezbollah fighter who is telling his secrets on camera, even spilling the beans on Iran.
ZAHN: Our top story coverage of the conflict in the Middle East continues with this dramatic video from the northern Israeli town of Safed. Air raids blared as a Katyusha rocket struck today. This comes from one of our I-Reporters, a viewer in Israel, who caught that strike on video and sent it to us at ireport@CNN.com. Now we checked out the source very carefully and verified other accounts from that same area.
But with so many cameras out there these days, you can't always be sure a news picture is genuine and hasn't been tampered with. Just consider the outrage over what may now be one of the most famous and controversial images to come from the conflict in Lebanon. This dramatic Reuters photo of smoke over the city of Beirut, but it is more than what it seems because the photographer actually digitally added smoke to the sky as you can see when you look at the original image. Now people, of course, have been doctoring pictures since photography was invented. But with digital technology, it is easier than ever before and maybe the temptation has increased as well. Here's technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg.
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No smoke and mirrors involved in this digital trick.
CHRIS STANFIELD, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: An amateur photographer with a program maybe five minutes can figure out how easy it is to do, which is scary.
SIEBERG: Last week, Reuters news agency distributed this photo of Beirut. The caption reads, "Smoke billows from burning buildings destroyed during an overnight Israeli air raid." But just like with a text document, some smoke and surrounding landscape has been copied and pasted.
STANFIELD: The circles here, which seem to be equally spaced and repetitive and redundant of the ones beside them. And then the buildings here, where it looks you've got one building here and then the same building here and then fading in the background.
SIEBERG: Chris Stanfield reviews hundreds of photos every day at one of the nation's largest daily papers. He says the advance of digital photography and software has changed the rules of newsroom ethics.
STANFIELD: This is where we used to develop film. I think all we've got left in here is a desk light, yes.
SIEBERG: He's troubled by any photo manipulation, but says it rarely occurs. With this recent case though, he's a bit mystified.
STANFIELD: It's one that's been kicking around in the blogs that adding more smoke, making it look more ominous, might make the Israeli airstrikes seem worse than they already were.
Like I said, I can't speak for the photographer. I don't know what was going through their mind. And to me, that scene was dramatic enough. It told the story.
SIEBERG: The photographer was Reuters freelancer Adnan Hajj. He has since been suspended and hundreds of his photos taken out of the Reuters database.
PAUL HOLMES, REUTERS GLOBAL EDITOR: He admits that he had Photoshopped it, that he manipulated it digitally. But he said he was doing it to try to remove dust specks from the image. We didn't find that explanation convincing, so we told him that we would no longer use his photos.
SIEBERG (on camera): A Reuters investigation concluded another photo taken by Hajj had also been altered, increasing a number of flares fired by an Israeli F16 from one to three. Hajj had worked for Reuters since 1993. Only last Saturday, one of his photos landed on the cover of the "New York Times." But if it hadn't been for the blogging community, Hajj's fake photos may have never have been exposed.
CHARLES JOHNSON, LITTLEGREENFOOTBALLS.COM: It's a sort of taking back the reins of information, I guess you might say from the mainstream media and just double checking and I think people are getting a lot more active about investigating these things.
SIEBERG (voice-over): Charles Johnson of littlegreenfootballs.com was the first blog to report on the photos. He says countless high-tech detectives are now involved in what he calls a blog swarm.
JOHNSON: How many photos have gotten out there that were not quite as crudely manipulated? I think that question needs to be asked. And I can tell you right now that there's a lot of people scrutinizing photos from Lebanon for more manipulation.
SIEBERG: No stranger to the power of the blog, two years ago Johnson found irregularities in the type style of documents used by CBS News in its reporting on President Bush's service in the National Guard. CBS eventually withdrew the report and fired its producer. Now after applying the same principles to a photo of Beirut at war, the bloggers have claimed another victim. Daniel Sieberg, CNN, Atlanta.
ZAHN: So, how can you trust any picture that you see in print? Well 24 years ago, "National Geographic" magazine ran a doctored picture of the Egyptian pyramids on its cover and the resulting scandal caused the magazine to be very careful about the authenticity of its pictures that are put in print.
Joining me now, veteran photograph Chris Johns, who was named editor-in-chief of "National Geographic" last year and Howard Kurtz, who covers the media for the "Washington Post" and hosts CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES." That's why some of us call him Howie. Good to see both of you tonight.
Chris, we just heard the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" photo expert say it's hard to understand what this guy's motivation was, maybe to make the picture look more ominous. Why do you think he did it? And why didn't his editors catch it?
CHRIS JOHNS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: Well, he's in a competitive news environment. He wants to excel. It's hard to get into his mind, as we said previously. But often I think the motive is to simply try to make a spectacular picture. And in this course -- of course in this case, it was a huge error on his part. You started to breach the trust that you have with your audience and that trust, of course for all of us in the media, is terribly important.
ZAHN: But, Chris, it's not just an error on his part. It was an error on his editor's part.
JOHNS: It was indeed. I mean, the editors -- I mean, now, we look at it and we can see the cloning, we can see what's happened to the photograph, and it's very obvious to us. You know, under the of deadlines and feeding a news cycle, those mistakes happen. But I have to say, Reuters did exactly what should be done. They were transparent. They were open. Openly admitted the error and removed the photographs, and I think took a very difficult situation and handled it well.
ZAHN: So, Howie, we know that the public has precious little confidence in what they read in newspapers and see on television. What does it say that this mistake was actually -- not a mistake, obviously everybody is assuming it was purposeful -- was caught out there in web land by a blogger?
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: It shows you there are now millions of people out there with different kind of expertise who can fact check the mainstream media, and this was a classic example by this Web site, littlegreenfootballs. And I want to make sure we don't understate this. I mean, this picture is a lie. It's a fraud. It's a journalistic felony, as if you had handed in a story with facts that were made up. And other photographers have gotten into trouble and some have lost their jobs over this kind of digital enhancement. I mean, this goes back to a decade ago, when "Time" magazine apologized for darkening O.J. Simpson's face in an infamous cover short. The technology makes it easy to do, and unfortunately, that makes it all too easy for some journalists or a photo journalist to succumb to the temptation of trying to improve these images.
ZAHN: So what are the consumers supposed to do about that, Howie?
KURTZ: Well, you know, it's not easy, and if I had looked at it not knowing there was anything wrong with it, I probably would have thought it was a perfectly legitimate photo. The original photo unretouched was dramatic enough. Why the guy needed to do this?
But I do think it shows that editors and supervisors and producers have to be more vigilant, because if they don't, they are going to get spanked by people like these guys out on the Web, who are taking a magnifying glass to everything that we do.
ZAHN: Extremely vigilant. I'm going to bring in Anderson Cooper into this conversation now. He happens to be in northern Israel tonight, but has been reporting from both sides of the war and has of course been dealing with restrictions from Israel's military and Hezbollah.
So, Anderson, how do those restrictions affect the accuracy of your reporting?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, you have to be very careful. Obviously, both sides in this conflict want their stories out. Israel, you know, provides public spokespeople very readily. If you're dealing with the Israeli military, they don't want you, you know, wandering around their artillery fields like where we are now, or wandering around their positions. So they often have press people who will actually sort of help you if you need interviews and the like.
While on the Hezbollah side, it's really interesting -- I was in Beirut, and they took me on this sort of guided tour of the Hezbollah- controlled territories in southern Lebanon that were heavily bombed. They are much cruder, obviously. They don't have the experience in this kind of thing. But they clearly want the story of civilian casualties out. That is their -- what they're heavily pushing, to the point where on this tour I was on, they were just making stuff up. They had six ambulances lined up in a row and said, OK, you know, they brought reporters there, they said you can talk to the ambulance drives. And then one by one, they told the ambulances to turn on their sirens and to zoom off, and people taking that picture would be reporting, I guess, the idea that these ambulances were zooming off to treat civilian casualties, when in fact, these ambulances were literally going back and forth down the street just for people to take pictures of them.
ZAHN: Yet another reminder for all of us that are in this business just about how vigilant we have to be every day on the job to get it right. Howard Kurtz, Chris Johns, Anderson Cooper, thank you all. And I will bid adieu for those two team members, but Anderson, of course, will be back at 10:00 p.m. for two hours, the very latest news from the Middle East.
More of our top story coverage just ahead. Right now, let's go straight back to Melissa Long for the rest of the CNN.com countdown -- Melissa.
LONG: Paula, a terrible outcome tonight comes in at number four for people just trying to find a better life. Police in Yuma, Arizona say an SUV packed with suspected illegal immigrants was traveling at 80 miles an hour when it crashed. Nine people were killed, 12 injured.
At number three, the Israeli military warning residents of Tyre, Lebanon to stay off the roads or risk being targeted by airstrikes.
Paula, we'll continue the countdown coming up.
ZAHN: See you in a couple of minutes, Melissa. Thanks so much.
Of course, the fighting in Lebanon started after Hezbollah raided Israel and captured two of its soldiers. Next in our top story coverage, this is an amazing story, a captured Hezbollah fighter's story of that fateful raid, as told to Israeli interrogators. Why are all the human rights activists very upset about our seeing this tonight? You're going to find out.
And a little bit later on, a top national story, with Alaska's biggest oil field now out of commission because of some rusty pipes, how soon and how much will gas prices be affected? Yes, they're going up, folks.
ZAHN: Welcome back. Tonight, as Israel and Hezbollah's war wraps up its fourth week, we may be getting some new insights into the event that triggered Israel's assault on southern Lebanon, the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. It comes in a dramatic video that may point to Iranian envelopment -- involvement, that is. Brian Todd has more on the story right now.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An alleged Hezbollah fighter talks about the operation that triggered this conflict. On videotape provided by the Israeli military, translated by CNN, he discusses the mission's objective.
HUSSEIN ALI SULEIMAN, CAPTURED HEZBOLLAH FIGHTER (through translator): It was to capture soldiers as prisoners.
TODD: Israeli sources tell CNN this 22-year-old, believed to be named Hussein Ali Suleiman, was part of a unit that backed up the Hezbollah fighters who took two Israeli soldiers hostage on July 12th. The Israeli military says it captured Suleiman several days later.
In this interrogation video, Suleiman speaks broadly about that raid.
SULEIMAN: The main aim wasn't accomplished, but the secondary aim was to serve a severe blow to the positions.
TODD: In one key exchange, he talks about his training.
SULEIMAN: I underwent a maneuver, two maneuvers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When was the first maneuver session? SULEIMAN: At the end of 2003.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did you do it?
SULEIMAN: In Iran.
TODD: An Iranian official at the United Nations would not comment on that. Officials in Tehran have recently denied any operational contact with Hezbollah. But Mideast experts say Iran's widely reported backing of Hezbollah does include training.
KARIM SADJADPOUR, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: They are getting military training, but there is almost a type of political and religious indoctrination, which is also taking place.
TODD: Israeli officials tell CNN they do not engage in torture, and Suleiman was not coerced into making these statements. But a Human Rights Watch official says the airing of this video could violate a clause of the Geneva Conventions.
LUCY MAIR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Actually putting the detainee's identity and his face on video in front of a television audience could be putting him at risk and could be considered inhumane treatment.
TODD: Israeli officials dispute the claim that this is degrading or inhumane in any way. They say the Geneva Conventions apply to soldiers in uniform who uphold the laws of war. Hezbollah, they say, does neither. A former top general in the Israeli military told me he does not believe the airing of this videotape puts Suleiman's life at risk -- Paula.
ZAHN: Very quickly, in closing, though, Brian, do they really believe everything this guy told them?
TODD: They take it with a grain of salt. You know, experts say that whenever this kind of thing is released, anybody who is interrogated like that may be saying what he believes the other side needs to hear just to make the pain stop, or his, you know, whatever is going on stop. So they're not really saying whether they believe him or not, but they do release this to get the message out that they believe there is a firm operational link between Iran and Hezbollah.
ZAHN: Fascinating to watch. Brian Todd, thanks.
Right now, we're going to check back in with Melissa Long, who continues our CNN.com countdown, and this next one is a doozie.
LONG: Yes, and actually a story that you covered earlier too, and the controversy over that doctored Reuters photograph of Beirut under attack. The photographer accused of altering that image has been suspended.
And number one today on the countdown, Paul McCartney's security staff calls the police. Why? Well, when one of his estranged wife's guards climbed the wall to let her into McCartney's London home. Heather Mills McCartney's spokesman says the guard climbed the wall to open the gate after realizing the locks had been changed. In case you haven't heard, the McCartneys are getting divorced, Paula.
ZAHN: That wasn't a very smart move, was it, Melissa?
LONG: No. Not at all, yeah. But I guess you got to do what you got to do.
ZAHN: Who do you blame, though, the guard or his boss?
ZAHN: All right. Thanks, Melissa.
Coming up -- as if gas prices aren't high enough already, Alaska's biggest oil field operation is shutting down for some urgent repairs. Next, our top story coverage, the ripple effect, how much are you going to be paying for gas?
ZAHN: A top story about your money, if you remember the sudden shock of higher gas prices after Hurricane Katrina last year, fasten your seat belt, because it's about to happen again. Tonight, top story is about just that. It begins in the far north of Alaska and the shutdown of the country's largest oil field because of a rusted 30-year-old pipeline.
Now so far, that shutdown has boosted oil prices, but not the cost of gasoline. Take a quick look at our latest crude awakening, states with today's highest prices are in red, the lowest in green. And the average today for unleaded regular is holding steady at about $3:03. The trend, of course, has been upward, and it's bound to go higher because oil prices are already higher.
Now, the Alaskan oil cutoff is raising a red flag about the condition of the country's vital energy infrastructure, and questions about what the oil companies are doing with record profits. Here's Kareen Wynter with our biz break tonight.
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Civil unrest in Nigeria. Increased tensions with Iran. Insurgent attacks on pipelines in Iraq. Conflicts overseas that affect the U.S. dependency on foreign oil.
But a new problem here at home with one of the world's largest oil production facilities could push already high gas prices over the edge.
BOB MALONE, BP ALASKA: On behalf of the BP Group, I apologize for the impact this has had on our nation and to the great state of Alaska. WYNTER: BP's Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska, shut down indefinitely. Inspectors found a leak in the corroded pipeline that feeds the main Alaska pipeline. The oil giant says the 16 miles of pipeline it's replacing usually carries 400,000 barrels a day. That's 8 percent of U.S. crude production.
KAREN WAYLAND, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: This is an accident that's been waiting to happen, and BP should have known that it had a problem on its hands. This is -- the pipeline is a 30-year- old piece of infrastructure. And remember that this pipeline was only expected to last about 25 years, so it's already five years past its prime.
WYNTER: Analysts say that despite record prices in the oil and gas industry, oil companies aren't investing enough money to improve their infrastructure.
WAYLAND: And the reality is that that investment is not taking place. And it's leading to very unsafe conditions, like what we've just seen up in Alaska.
WYNTER: The corrosion wasn't discovered until BP was forced to check the pipeline after a massive oil spill at its Prudhoe Bay operation earlier this year.
SAMUEL BODMAN, SECRETARY OF ENERGY: Companies are very profitable. They're doing very well. And so the question here is not cost. The near term problem is what will be the availability of crude from that field for our country.
WYNTER (on camera): Experts say this temporary oil field shutdown will only be felt here on the West Coast, since Alaska supplies 20 percent of the state's oil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every time there's news about gas, I get nervous and I start sweating. Now, if I could only sweat gas, that would be great.
WYNTER (voice-over): There's no telling if or when gas prices will rise, but experts say consumers could have an impact by just driving smart. Telecommuting, carpooling, doubling up on errands. But should prices go up drastically, the federal government says it can tap into the country's oil reserves to make up for the shortfall, making sure the pain at the pump isn't even more painful.
Kareen Wynter, CNN, Los Angeles.
ZAHN: And we're going to be right back with more breaking news on our top story tonight right after this.
ZAHN: We close tonight with breaking news. Israeli helicopters for the first time attacked a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. The Israelis say they were targeting the house of a Hezbollah militant within that camp.
That's it for all of us. Thanks so much for joining us. Good night.
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