Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Will Bipartisanship Last?; LAPD Under Fire Once Again; Saddam's Execution on Live TV?

Aired November 10, 2006 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. Thanks for joining us.
As we wrap up the week here, there is important news coming into to us here all the time at CNN. And, every night, we are choosing the top stories.

Tonight: Never mind the smiles and handshakes, the niceties. The real "Top Story" in politics: the battle line already forming between the Bush White House and the new Democratic Congress.

Our "Top Story Outside the Law": caught on camera again. But the Los Angeles Police Department says there is much more to this story than these shocking, brutal pictures would suggest.

And the "Top Story" in the war, hanging Saddam: Some people want it in public, even on live television. Would you watch?

We start in Washington tonight, with the "Top Story" in politics.

Despite another round of sunny smiles and continuing promises that the Bush White House and the new Democratic Congress are eager to work together, you can already see the two sides lining up against each other.

Our look at what is going on behind the scenes, beyond the smiles, begins with White House correspondent Elaine Quijano.

Elaine, what is going on?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, it was all smiles in the Oval Office today, as President Bush and Senate Democratic leaders pledged to move beyond partisanship. But it remains an open question: How long will the harmony last?


QUIJANO (voice-over): They can get along -- that was the message from President Bush and Senate majority leader-to-be Harry Reid.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I assured the senators that -- that we will cooperate as closely as we can to solve common problems.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: The election's over. The only way to move forward is with bipartisanship and openness, and to get some results.

QUIJANO: The meeting marked the second consecutive day President Bush has tried underscoring a bipartisan approach.

STEVE ELMENDORF, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL ADVISER: He's going to have to change the way he does business. I think he has approached the previous six years as: my way or the highway.

QUIJANO: So far, an encouraging sign for Senator Harry Reid, who suggested to President Bush a bipartisan summit on Iraq.

REID: Well, he didn't reject it. I think it's -- I think it's -- I really think it's a good idea that he would meet with the bipartisan congressional leadership.

QUIJANO: Among the starting points, to stake out common ground, education and energy -- stalled immigration reform may also be among the first of the more contentious issues Democrats tackle in the new term, building political goodwill with the White House.

Yet, for all the talk of bipartisanship, some Democrats are already bristling over the agenda items the president has laid out for the lame-duck session. They include the Terrorist Surveillance Act and the renomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow insists, the president is not trying to test the Democrats by laying out those priorities.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think you should look at these as necessarily provocative. I know it's -- you should -- that there's an attempt to do so.


ZAHN: So, Elaine, the question is, how much bipartisan love is there going to be when it comes to the contentious issue of Iraq? We understand some important meetings will be held at the White House next week. Realistically, what might come out of those?

QUIJANO: Well, hard to tell at this point.

They're obviously trying to maintain their independence, the White House and this Iraq Study Group. At the same time, though, of course, this is going to have tremendous sway, perhaps, in U.S. policy in Iraq.

We should mention, of course, the co-chairs leading the way, former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton, also, though, the former secretary of state who served under President Bush's father, James Baker. The panel's recommendations are due out by the end of the year. And next week will be a chance for the president and his top aides to sit down face to face with those members -- Paula.

ZAHN: And we will be watching those proceedings, alongside you, very, very closely. White House correspondent Elaine Quijano, part of the best political team in TV, thanks.

Now, Republicans are going to have to learn to get along with each other, before they can deal with the Democrats. But, ever since Tuesday's defeat, Republicans have been beating up on each other.

Congressional correspondent Dana Bash has that part of our "Top Story."



DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thumping, pounding, beating -- no Republican is trying to sugarcoat what happened to their Grand Old Party on election night. And recriminations are everywhere.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We have got to change our practices.

REP. TOM DELAY (R), FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We didn't stand on principle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had some incumbents who were caught unprepared.

BASH: Arizona's John Shadegg first came to Congress in 1994, part of the Republican wave that took the majority from Democrats. Like many conservatives, he blames his own party for losing its way.

REP. JOHN SHADEGG (R), ARIZONA: We broke faith with the American people, and they sent us a clear message. Now, I don't know if my colleagues have understood that message yet. I think they are really kind of in shock, still, but they sent a clear message: You promised to change the way Washington works and you didn't do it. And, so, it's time to give the other team a turn.

BASH: Republicans like Shadegg says it's easy to see what went wrong. The party let the deficit balloon, with too much pork-barrel spending, let the government get too big, with new entitlements, like prescription drugs for Medicare, and let themselves become corrupted by power.

SHADEGG: We had said we would be different; we would clean up Washington, and it would operate openly and above board, and no secret deals, and no smoke-room deals -- smoke-filled-room deals, and no back-room deals that are cut, and no late-night deals. And the American people have now read that, in point of fact, none of that happened.

BASH: But you can't talk about GOP finger-pointing without talking about Iraq.

Many Republican officials are furious at the White House for waiting so long to fire Donald Rumsfeld.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told "The New York Times, "If the president had replaced Rumsfeld two weeks ago, the Republicans would still control the Senate, and they would probably have 10 more House members."

SEN. JOHN SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I don't know if there was a delay in the timing, once the decision was made, to when it was announced. Any delay in that timing was probably a mistake. But that's all hindsight.

BASH: Looking forward, as Republicans settle into the minority, they're searching for new direction and a path back to power.

Now Shadegg is one of several rank-and-file Republicans now running to unseat GOP leaders. Like other Republicans, he argues, voters did not reject GOP philosophy, but, rather, its behavior. And that must be resolved with new leadership and getting back to basics.


ZAHN: So, if it's not about policy, and it is about behavior, privately, what are these Republicans telling you, that the blame rests with the president?

BASH: You know, a little bit of both, Paula, that -- and the -- on the one hand, when you talk about the big issue that everybody acknowledges obviously hung over this election, Iraq, many Republicans do blame the president.

But, big picture, when you talk to Republicans, to a person, they say: Look, we can't really blame the president. This is our chamber. We have our own section of the government. And we came here 12 years ago promising to change the way things are done in Washington, and we didn't do it.

I talked to one Republican today who said: Look, we got drunk with power. And had we not had problems with corruption, had we not made our base angry by spending too much and growing the government too much, maybe the Iraq war would have come along, and we would have had a little bit of a cushion, if you will, of -- of goodwill. But that didn't exist.

So, basically, they blame themselves.

ZAHN: Dana Bash, thanks so much.

Now, our "Top Story" in politics moves on now to what's in store once all the friendly "let's work together" talk stops in Washington. When the new Congress -- excuse me...


ZAHN: ... is sworn in, Democrats will take charge of committees and be free to begin investigating everything the Bush administration has touched, from 9/11, to the war in Iraq, to Hurricane Katrina. Deborah Feyerick takes us through what we might expect.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to launching specific investigations, if the Democrats know the targets, they're not saying, at least not exactly.

But they have made it clear there will be a lot more oversight, as powerful committees move to reexamine choices made under Republican leaders, look for fraud and waste, and, where necessary, hold people accountable.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: Let's find out what's going on with the war in Iraq, the different large federal agencies we have. There simply has been no oversight in recent years. And I don't want to frighten anyone about investigations. Congressional oversight is not an -- not a negative.

FEYERICK: Topping the list, Iraq, including prewar intelligence, how it was gathered, and how the money is being spent.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE HILL": There obviously has been some controversy over the rebuilding and reconstructive -- reconstruction efforts in Iraq, particularly the question of contracts. And those, I imagine, will come under close scrutiny.

FEYERICK: There's Hurricane Katrina and how money may have been squandered, and Homeland Security -- one Senate staffer telling CNN, a bloated contracting system may have benefited the private sector, not security.

The probable chair of Energy and Commerce has said he's likely to investigate the Energy Policy Act, as well as the Nuclear Waste Program and possible abuse.

STODDARD: We know, for instance, they're going to examine the subsidies that large oil companies, energy companies, received.

FEYERICK: Expected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said there are no plans to impeach the president, and that subpoenas will only be used as a last resort.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We would hope that there would be cooperation from the executive branch, in terms of investigating the intelligence, prewar intelligence. I don't know what those -- those decisions will be made by our caucus, with the wisdom of the committees of jurisdiction.

FEYERICK: Political watchers say, when the Republicans took control in the mid-'90s, they issued about 1,000 subpoenas, a move that looked both like a fishing expedition and political vendetta. Insiders say that's why Democrats will pick their investigations carefully.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: With this new Congress, I think you're going to see Democrats who actually want to open up the entire Pandora's box of what's been happening in government. But there's going to be a real political imperative to make sure that we continue to look forward, in terms of what we need to do in Congress, as well as make sure there's accountability for all the mistakes that have been made over the last six years.

FEYERICK: A strategy which could well position the Democrats for 2008.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: And still ahead: the "Top Story" in the fight for Iraq. Saddam Hussein's execution will be a worldwide "Top Story." So, should he be hanged on live TV?

Plus: something you probably didn't know. We're going to show you which U.S. states still hang condemned prisoners.

We will be right back.


ZAHN: And welcome back.

Tonight's "Top Story Outside the Law": shocking pictures of a suspect's arrest, but the Los Angeles Police Department says there may be a reason for this rough treatment. We're going to get into that in a little bit.

Now, if President Bush hopes to get anything done over the next two years, he will have to play ball with the Democrats in Congress. And the last time he really had to deal with a Democratic majority was when he was governor of Texas.

So, can he do it this time?

Joining me now, two Democrats who were in the Texas State Legislature when George Bush was governor. Henry Cuellar was the senior Democrat there. He's now a member of Congress. Also with me, former Texas State Senator Paul Sadler.

Good to see both of you.


ZAHN: Representative Cuellar, describe to us the -- the level of cooperation you had with Governor Bush.

CUELLAR: Well, certainly, Governor Bush at that time, President Bush at that time, had the ability to work with a Democratic House of Representatives and the senators there in the statehouse. He was able to do this because he established working relationships. And personal relationships are so important. In fact, I remember when he would make it a habit to just pop into a member's office, say hello to him, and just have a conversation with him, and then go into another member's office. And he had different techniques that I thought were very, very good at establishing a good friendship, and, then, from there, the trust that allowed us to cooperate together.

ZAHN: Senator Sadler, did you share that experience? And, if you did, what went wrong, then, in Washington, as so many Democrats call the president the great divider?

PAUL SADLER (D), FORMER TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I absolutely had that type of experience, although I have to correct you. I wasn't a state senator. I was a representative. I was chairman of public education in the house.

ZAHN: Oh, so sorry about that.

SADLER: But -- that's OK -- Governor Bush and I had a very close relationship. We worked very closely on a weekly basis on the education issues, as well as the tax issues later.

The biggest difference I see between Washington and Texas -- and it's been different. He's not been the same as -- as he was in Texas. But I think it's because the people surrounding him are different. Karen Hughes, Joe Allbaugh, Margaret Spellings were with us in Texas, very moderate, broad-minded people that worked well with all of us.

Karl Rove was not present in the capital in Texas.


ZAHN: So, wait a minute. Are you saying it's all Karl Rove's fault that the president hasn't reached out to Democrats in Congress?


SADLER: No, not at all. I'm not saying that at all.

I'm just saying that the circle of advisers was different. And, as I was going to complete that sentence, you have Vice President Cheney. You had Rumsfeld. He has a completely different cast of characters.

And I think those influences are different. You had Tom DeLay, who was a majority leader, whose partisan politics is very well-known. He's a very divisive individual, and, frankly, has said on many occasions that he doesn't care what Democrats think.

So, it's a different world in Washington than it was in Texas. And I think that has restricted his ability to reach out in some instances.


ZAHN: And, Representative Cuellar, let me let you jump in at this point.


ZAHN: Do you not think the president was capable of reaching beyond that sphere of influence, if -- if he was as trapped by some of these advisers as Mr. Sadler just suggested? Or influenced maybe is a better word.

CUELLAR: Well, I think Paul is -- right. Well, I think Paul is correct. He did have a different type of advisers.

Certainly, the dynamics in Washington are very, very different, very different from the statehouse. But he still -- if you remember, the first year that he got there, that first year, you know, he -- he was able to work with, you know, Senator Kennedy and other Democrats, who developed Leave No Child Behind.

And I remember the first year at the signing ceremony, where he had Democrats and Republicans all together. Of course, after the first year, things changed. There's a different type of dynamics. But I think, if the president is able to dig deep back to the way he used to be in Texas, I feel that his last two years -- two years of his presidency can be a success, if he's able to again work with us, the Democrats...


CUELLAR: ... to make sure that we develop a consensus.

ZAHN: Mr. Sadler, are you that optimistic?

SADLER: I'm cautiously optimistic.

I -- I think both sides have to choose to be successful. We did in Texas. We chose to succeed. And, if both do -- and what they're saying, it indicates that they will -- then, they can achieve things. They can achieve good things for the -- for the American people. And I hope they will.

ZAHN: Well, I think Americans have their fingers collectively crossed on that one.

Gentlemen, thanks so much. Henry Cuellar, Paul Sadler, appreciate your joining us...

CUELLAR: Thank you.

SADLER: Thank you.

ZAHN: ... on this Friday night.

The change of power on Capitol Hill has dominated our "Top Story" coverage. But Tuesday's election also gave Democrats a majority of the nation's governorships. That includes the statehouse in Massachusetts which, believe it or not, the Democrats haven't held in 16 years. For tonight's "People You Should Know" segment, Dan Lothian introduces us to the man who's putting Democrats back in control of the Bay State.


DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR-ELECT: This was not a victory just for me. This was not a victory just for Democrats. This was a victory for hope.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Hope and perseverance, prevailing forces in the life of Deval Patrick. He grew up in a poverty-ridden Chicago neighborhood, and would be the first in his family to go beyond a high school education. Now he becomes only the second African-American governor elected since Reconstruction, and the first in Massachusetts.

PATRICK: It's a profound thing to be witness to and a central part of this historical moment. If people around the country are looking at Massachusetts and thinking about Massachusetts differently than they have in the past, then, good for us.

LOTHIAN: The 50-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer is married to fellow attorney Diane, and they have two daughters.

Patrick's most recent work has been as counsel for Texaco and Coca-Cola. But he's no stranger to politics. He held an appointed position for three years during the Clinton administration.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He did a brilliant job for America. When I heard that he was going to run for governor, against all the odds, I thought, you know, if anybody could pull it off, he probably can.

LOTHIAN: Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


ZAHN: And tonight's "Top Story" in the war in Iraq: a death unlike any other. When it's Saddam Hussein's turn to face the executioner, should the TV cameras and the rest of the world be watching live? Our "Top Story" panel, including an Islamic cleric, will debate that.

And a little bit later on: a Veterans Day story you have to see -- one soldier's moving words about the truths he has found in the midst of war, a powerful message for us all.


ZAHN: Welcome back.

The next "Top Story" we choose tonight has some pictures that could be very hard for you to watch. They might even make you sick. Imagine this: an entire nation tuning in to see the execution of their former dictator. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to hang. And a lot of Iraqis are so bitter about what he did to them, they want to see that hanging on live TV. Is this a sadistic form of justice or a gruesome new version of reality TV?

Arwa Damon has been looking for answers in Baghdad.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There was little doubt what the Iraqi government wanted when the verdict and sentence in the former dictator's trial were handed down.

State-owned television Al-Iraqiya broadcast a montage of Saddam's brutal and violent atrocities. Another television station backed by the Shia party, which holds a majority of seats in the Iraqi parliament, flashed horrific scenes of past executions. Few were surprised when Saddam was sentenced to a similar fate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The court has sentenced the defendant, Saddam Hussein, to execution by hanging.

DAMON: Saddam is a Sunni. Not surprisingly, many of his fellow Sunnis think hanging him would be an injustice.

MUSTAFA MUAFAK, RESIDENT OF BAGHDAD (through translator): There will an lot of backlash. The Iraqi people won't accept the execution of Saddam, because, no matter what Saddam Hussein has done, he's an Iraqi. He's a Muslim.

DAMON: But Saddam and the Sunnis are no longer in power. Now it's the Shias' turn. They suffered most under Saddam's brutal regime, and now they want him to hang. On top of that, the Iraqi government believes Saddam's death will help reduce Iraq's sectarian violence.

Haida al-Labadi (ph) is a member of the majority Shia party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has got supporters. And these supporters, he's feeding them with his slogans, with his existing, even, to carry on killing the Iraqi people. We cannot afford it anymore for him to live.

DAMON: Sentiments openly echoed at today's Friday prayers in the holy Shia city of Najaf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The verdict was announced. And it should be carried out sooner, not later, because the snake is still alive. Baathists, terrorists still have some hope. And we say, cut off the head of the snake. Then, the terror ends.

DAMON: And supporters of the fiery Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr say they want Saddam's hanging to be public and broadcast across Iraq. Many people believe a public execution would be a measure of revenge for the thousands of Iraqis killed by Saddam. HASSAN AL-THAIE, RESIDENT OF BAGHDAD (through translator): The best way is to hang him, because he executed most people by hanging them. He perfected the art of killing. And I would want this to be broadcast on satellite TV, so that people can see this, so that all the orphans, all that suffered under Saddam, to give them peace of mind, to see this criminal brought to justice.

DAMON (on camera): The concern among politicians is that, if Saddam's execution is broadcast on TV, that might project an image of Iraq as a violent state. But, if the execution is closed to the public, many Iraqis may not be convinced that Saddam Hussein is really dead.

(voice-over): Saddam's death sentence is currently under appeal. If it's not overturned, Saddam Hussein could be executed as soon as the end of this year.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.


ZAHN: Of course, not everyone even agrees that Saddam Hussein should be executed, Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, for one, who warns that Iraq will explode in violence if that happens.

So, should the former Iraqi president be executed on live TV? We have a "Top Story" panel to debate that.

Brian Bennett is a "TIME" magazine correspondent who spent a lot of time in Iraq covering the war. Imam Husham al-Husainy is a Shiite Muslim with the Karbalaa Islamic Center in Dearborn, Michigan. And Dr. Katrin Michael is an Iraqi Kurd whose family was gassed by Saddam Hussein in 1987. She herself was a victim of him. She has since testified against him.

Great to have all three of you with us.

Imam, I am going to start with you this evening.

Do you think Saddam Hussein should be executed on live television?

IMAM HUSHAM AL-HUSAINY, KARBALAA ISLAMIC EDUCATION CENTER: Well, not necessarily in front of everybody, but definitely in front of the family of the victims, because this man killed so many people. He buried alive millions of people. And it's about time the victims' families should see this man being punished.

ZAHN: But, Imam, above and beyond those family members, do you want video of that execution to be broadcast? Do you want other people to see it?

AL-HUSAINY: Definitely, ma'am, because, unfortunately, the unclear policy of the coalition created a doubt in the Iraqis' mind.

And that's why we should clear this doubt. And Iraqis won't believe it unless they see it, because, believe it, some of them, they still doubt that Saddam's son is not killed. So, unfortunately, if that would happen earlier, maybe it will be another case. But, after four years of unclear policy, Iraqis lost their faith.

ZAHN: Dr. Michael, you yourself were a victim of Saddam Hussein, a gas attack. You testified against him in court. Will you only believe that he has been hanged if -- if you witness it, either in person or on live television?

DR. KATRIN MICHAEL, TESTIFIED AGAINST SADDAM HUSSEIN: First, I want just to correct here. I'm not Kurdish. I am from -- but I am Kurdistan.

Second, I -- no, I -- I don't feel that it is good way to death sentence go publicly to Saddam, because this is the way that Saddam use it -- actually, used to have soldiers, when they are deserters one week from army, they hang them in front of their children, in front of their neighborhoods, in front of the family.

We don't want to use the same methods that Saddam used. Second...

ZAHN: So, what would satisfy you?

MICHAEL: It is -- I will be very satisfied enough to hear that he was executed. And I believe -- I trust people. I trust the legal system in Iraq, that this that this is going to happen.

ZAHN: If this execution, Bill, ends up -- or -- excuse me -- Brian, ends up happening, and it is broadcast live, what would that trigger?

BRIAN BENNETT, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": Well, I mean, a lot of people in Iraq feel that the live broadcast execution would trigger a massive revenge against the coalition there and the Iraqi government.

Of course, that's going on now. And it's hard to see exactly how it could get very much worse. I think another concern about a live broadcast was that it's just the basic security of the execution. Right now, when executions happen inside of Iraq, there's a tremendous amount of secrecy there. And doing a live broadcast could jeopardize that, that level of secrecy, because they're afraid of attacks happening during the execution.

ZAHN: Do you fear that kind of violence, Imam, if this execution is in some way recorded on television?


AL-HUSAINY: Actually, we are talking about afraid of civil war, afraid of bloodshed.

We already have a civil war. We already have bloodshed. We already have 750,000 been killed. So, what we are talking about here? There's right of God, right of people, and right of the justice. So, God wants this man to be punished, because he's enemy.

And let's not forget, this is the axis of evil. And the justice itself need to be revealed. This is a man of -- enemy of history, enemy of the present time, enemy of the future. There are so many terrorists waiting for this man, because, as a supporter, as a hero, whenever this man will be killed, then, the hope of the terrorists will be killed, and will be a lesson for the future and for the other dictators.

And this man present a history, a line of bloodshed and killing and brutality. This should be stopped, and this is the head of the snake. It should be crushed, just like Chalchisco (ph) and other criminals.

ZAHN: Brian, at the end of the day, this execution is being appealed as part of -- of the legal process. Do you think it will ever be carried out? And, if it is, what are the chances it would be broadcast live on TV?

BENNETT: Well, certainly, this government, the Maliki government, is convinced that they are going to be able to see the execution carried out, and they're going to push for it to be moved through the legal system as quickly as possible.

All of the executions that Iraq has done since it reinstated the -- the death penalty in 2004 have been captured on videotape. And that videotape is stored in the Iraqi government archives. And it seems unlikely that this would be any different, that, certainly, there would be a videotape produced of this.

And it seems like, after talking to Iraqi officials, it would be up to their discretion as to how much to release that to the public. The problem with hangings is that a lot can actually go wrong during a hanging. And, if you broadcast it live on TV, you could have a real macabre scene.

And the fact that they would record it on videotape, and then have the choice of what to release about Saddam's death, could serve their purposes.

ZAHN: Brian Bennett, Imam Husham al-Husainy, and Katrin Michael, thank you all.

Hanging is ancient. Many people consider it barbaric, but did you know that some states right here in the United States still execute prisoners that way? In a minute, we are going to take you to a state where the gallows are ready and waiting.

And, a little bit later on, an arrest that's being compared to the Rodney King story -- you decide, once you see this video. We're going to show it to you and try to give it some context coming up. Maybe you have already seen it on the Internet.

We will show you more when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: And we have more of our "Top Story" now.

Whether it's broadcast live on TV or not, it is likely Saddam Hussein's death will soon come at the end of a rope. It has been a decade since anyone in the U.S. was executed by hanging, but it might surprise you to learn it's still on the books in some states.

Ted Rowlands has been looking into just what happens to those prisoners punished with death on the gallows.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Death by hanging, it's a fate that might conjure up images of Third World countries and times long past.

But, here in America, right here in Washington state, death row inmates can still be hanged as a punishment for their crimes. These are the gallows at the state prison in Walla Walla, Washington. Seventy-five hangings have taken place here. The last was a convicted murderer named Charles Campbell in 1994.

Serial child killer Westley Dodd was executed here by hanging in '93. The last hanging in the United States was in 1996. Convicted murderer Bill Bailey was hanged in Delaware. The outdoor wooden gallows used in that execution were torn down in 2003.

FRANK BROWN, WALLA WALLA COUNTY, WASHINGTON, CORONER: Well, what we're trying to do is just separate the spinal column.

ROWLANDS: Walla Walla coroner Frank Brown says hanging, if done properly, is quick and painless. The rope length is determined by the height and weight of the person to be hanged. And the knot, Brown says, is placed behind the ear.

BROWN: What that does is, it just kind of rotates the head just slightly as they fall. And, with that rotation, it gives like a -- a stretching of -- of the spinal cord. And that's where the death occurs.

ROWLANDS: Brown says, as long as everything is done properly, a person dies within seconds, and feels no pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very quick.

ROWLANDS: Joe Hart (ph) was one of the journalist witnesses that watched the Dodd execution in 1993.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seemed to go smoothly. And it seemed to be a humane process.

ROWLANDS: (on camera): But, if anything goes wrong, experts say it can take several minutes for someone to die, and it can be extremely painful.

(voice-over): Most states use lethal injection. But, here, at Walla Walla death row inmates can actually choose their death penalty, by needle or by rope, which raises the question, why would anyone choose the noose?

Westley Dodd told CNN before he was executed that he wanted to be hanged, because that's how he killed one of his child victims.

WESTLEY DODD, CONVICTED MURDERER: Hanging. That's the way I'm going to go. I'm going to hang.

ROWLANDS: Some people believe Dodd, Campbell and Bailey chose hanging because they wanted the attention. All three executions were covered extensively by the media.

There are currently eight people on death row in Washington. Unless there's a change in the law, they, too, can decide to die here, with a noose around their neck.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Walla Walla, Washington.


ZAHN: I don't know about you, but that was news to me.

Also, in New Hampshire, the only other state with hanging still on the books, state law says it can be used only if lethal injection isn't available.

Tonight's "Top Story Outside the Law" features some new pictures. And they are starting an FBI investigation. Did the L.A. police go too far in making this arrest? You will see more of this video, and we will hear from all the sides next.


ZAHN: Our "Top Story" "Outside the Law" tonight is grabbing headlines because of a disturbing video posted on YouTube. More than 340,000 people have watched a tape of Los Angeles police beating a suspect in the face. The LAPD is investigating the beating, and now, too, is the FBI.

Thelma Gutierrez has the latest tonight from Los Angeles.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It happened again, an LAPD arrest caught on tape.

ARLIN PACHECO, AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER: The whole incident happened right in front of me. So, I just got a clear shot.

GUTIERREZ: A clear shot by amateur photographer Arlin Pacheco right in front of her house.


GUTIERREZ: That's 23-year-old William Cardenas, who police say is a known gang member. He's on his back with two officers on top, one pressing his knee into the suspect's throat.

PACHECO: You can hear the neighbors screaming, what are you doing? Like, you don't need to do that, like what -- like, as soon as he starts punching, there's, like, an outcry of the neighbors.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): What did they say?

PACHECO: They were screaming like, stop. What are you doing? You know, you don't need to. You know, what are you hitting him for? What are you hitting him for? And it just it -- it -- it makes the stereotype of LAPD.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): While Officer Alexander Schlegel sits on the man, Officer Patrick Farrell punches him one, two, three, four, five times in the face.

WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE CHIEF: There's no denying that the -- the video is disturbing.

GUTIERREZ: The incident happened August 11. The video runs 28 seconds and was uploaded to YouTube in mid-October. Since then, it has unleashed a wave of fury at a police department that has been plagued with a history of police brutality accusations and convictions.

In their own report, the officers admit, one of them struck Cardenas. But they say he was wanted on a felony warrant, ran from them, and resisted arrest.

LIEUTENANT PAUL VERNON, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: When officers make arrests or use force, they are reacting to the situation and the totality of the circumstances that they know. And a -- a short snippet of video film does not reveal that totality. And that's part of what our investigation is going to have to uncover.

GUTIERREZ: Cardenas remains in jail, awaiting trial. His attorney is outraged by the video.

B. KWAKU DUREN, ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM CARDENAS: If you had a knee on your throat as you were laying on the ground, you would not be passively laying down. You would be attempting to grasp whatever to get whatever is causing you to not breathe.

GUTIERREZ: The police argue, they used appropriate force. And a judge who saw the video called the officers' response reasonable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go again. Here we go again. Once again, we have seen LAPD attack and assault an unarmed suspect.

GUTIERREZ: The original felony charge against Cardenas that led to his arrest was dropped by the DA.

Officer Schlegel had two complaints made against him in the past. Both were dropped. Both officers have been reassigned to desk duty while police and the FBI investigate.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles.


ZAHN: Joining me now, Kwaku Duren, attorney for the suspect who was beaten, William Cardenas, and criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina, who has defended police officers accused of brutality.


Kwaku, it's sickening to watch this video. And even the chief of the LAPD said that it was disturbing to watch it. But what we don't see, outside of this 28 seconds of the video, is what led to this action. The LAPD says he was running away; he was resisting arrest.

What did he tell you happened before he was beaten?

DUREN: Well, let me say this, is that he in fact acknowledges the fact that he initially ran from the police, and then he stopped. The police caught up with him. And, then, he was taken to the ground. And the beating occurred at that point.

ZAHN: What did he say provoked the beating, if he claims he stopped?

DUREN: What provoked the beating, I believe, is the officers' reaction to his initial running from them.

ZAHN: Joe Tacopina, I see you rolling your eyes. You have heard this one before?

JOE TACOPINA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, I have heard this one before.

And -- and, Paula, I -- you know, let's look at the totality of the circumstances. And -- and Chief Bratton, who is a great police chief, and has a history of having a hard, hard hammer on cops who break the rules, has said, let's wait and see all the facts before we start, you know, coming to judgments.

But let me just say this.

ZAHN: Well, you have got to admit, those 28 seconds don't make those cops look good.


TACOPINA: They -- they don't. But you know what? Policing is not always pretty, Paula. And, sometimes, police work is violent, especially when you're dealing with a violent felon who had a felony warrant.

Now, this individual is someone who had a felony warrant, meaning he chose not to show up to court to answer felony charges. That's number one.

Number two, you don't... ZAHN: But that still doesn't give someone a right to beat his face in.


TACOPINA: Of course not, Paula, but -- but that -- look at -- let's look at who we're dealing with.

I think it lends credibility to what the cops said he did. He ran. He resisted. One of these cops -- and, remember, you see the last 28 seconds. What you don't see is what led up to that. You don't see any of the -- the -- the acts that led up to the -- the force that was used.

What you don't see are weapons being used. What you don't see is deadly force being used. This is not Rodney King. I mean, I heard that analogy before. That was absolutely ridiculous. Rodney King was a crime. This was not.

What you do see is a report, a refreshingly honest police report, before they knew there was a video, where the officer said in the report, "I punched him in the face" -- not that he fell and he injured his face on the sidewalk.

ZAHN: All right.

TACOPINA: They admitted punching him in the face.

And, Paula, one last thing.

ZAHN: Yes, quickly.

TACOPINA: A judge looked -- a judge looked at all these facts, Paula, looked at the video, heard testimony from the officers, and heard the story of -- of this, you know, felon, who had a -- a -- a felony warrant, and had ruled that there was enough evidence for this individual to stand trial, and the actions of the officers were reasonable.

So, we are jumping to massive conclusions. And I think we need to wait.

ZAHN: Kwaku, you say that you're not jumping to massive conclusions here.


ZAHN: You're saying that -- that, yes, he -- he ran away at first, but then he stopped.

DUREN: Then he stopped.

And I would also point out that the eyewitness' account of what occurred nowhere near approximates what was written in the police report. So...

ZAHN: Well, what do they say?

DUREN: ... the gentleman's statement that this refreshingly accurate police report is not accurate itself, because those facts that are not shown on the video can be obtained from talking to the witnesses, if you want to believe these civilian witnesses over these police officers, right?

So you choose. You weren't there. I wasn't there. So, I choose to believe the civilian witnesses, who said that Mr. Cardenas did nothing, in terms of using force against these officers. And we see in the video him being punched in the face, not two times, as was stated in the officers' arrest report, but six times. So, this is not a refreshingly accurate police report.


ZAHN: Gentlemen, I guess it's something that the LAPD...


ZAHN: Gentlemen, sorry, I got to cut you off -- the LAPD...

TACOPINA: Go ahead.

ZAHN: ... is going to try to make sense of, and now it seems the FBI.

Kwaku Duren, Joe Tacopina, thanks.

TACOPINA: Thank you.

ZAHN: We will be right back.


ZAHN: Tomorrow is Veterans Day, when we honor America's veterans for their service.

And, from time to time, we run across stories that really move us, get us right here, and help us understand what it means to be in Iraq today. Tonight, we have the very, very compelling story of one young American soldier who put his life on the line in Iraq.

Our Arwa Damon first met him two years ago during the bloody offensive in Fallujah, where he spoke very plainly about what was going on in his head and in his heart.


SERGEANT WILLSUN M. MOCK, U.S. ARMY: I'm Specialist Will from Harper, Kansas, with 22 Infantry here Fallujah. Mission accomplished.

DAMON (voice-over): It was during the fight for Fallujah in November of 2004 when we really got to know the soldier everyone simply called Mock. MOCK: Just like every other man, stressed, a little scared. But, you know, this is what we do. And I thought about telling my family about it, but no way. I didn't want them to worry.

How would I describe Fallujah to someone else that had never been there? At first, I would say, you might want to rethink about going. And I would say, make your peace with God, because you -- you might not come back. It's a living hell. It was a living hell. Some moments lasted a lifetime.

DAMON: No pretenses with Mock, not about the mission, not about his love for being a soldier, despite all the emotional turmoil of his experiences.

MOCK: I think not only me, it's changed. I think everybody that was there, enemy, friendly, everybody walked away changed.

The ways that we changed, you have a different outlook on life, don't take nearly as much for granted. And, when you tell your -- your girlfriend or your mother, father, hey, I love you, you really mean it.

This, right here, is my family.

DAMON: He was afraid then of going back home to Kansas, worried he had changed too much -- his motto tattooed on both arms, "strength and honor," a tough soldier, apologizing to us for being rough around the edges.

He wasn't -- in many ways, still the gentleman his family brought him up to be.

MOCK: There's no reason in me saying, hey, ma, you know, I got shot at a lot today, or, you know, hey, ma, we had to -- had to fight the enemy. And, you know, some people didn't make it out, friendly and foe. It's just something better left untalked about.

DAMON: His first one-year tour of duty finally ended in February 2005.

MOCK: Big relief, overwhelming joy.

We got a deep feeling of, our part is completed here. Nobody wants to die out here, even though the soldiers would for our country, any of them would. That's not a question. I had heard my grandfather once say, somebody's got to do it. I guess I'm that somebody.

Every time we lose soldiers and we have our ceremonies here for the fallen comrades, and they play the "Taps" for those men, that's probably the moments that will stay in my mind more than ever.

From now until the day that I die, every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, when I go to the local cemetery in Harper, Kansas, and they play the "Taps," I'm sure I will -- it will hit me pretty hard then.

DAMON: This Veterans Day, they will be playing "Taps" for him.

Mock redeployed to Iraq in August of 2006. The last time we saw him was on a rooftop in Eastern Baghdad. Twenty days later, on October 22, Mock was killed by a roadside bomb, one of 11 killed in Iraq that weekend.

At his memorial, his commanders and his men echoed his motto, strength and honor, Sergeant Mock.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.


ZAHN: What a terrible loss.

Twenty-year-old Willsun Mock was buried yesterday in his hometown of Harper, Kansas. During services, a letter from his company commander was read. It describes Sergeant Mock as an "awesome soldier."

And we will have more specials this weekend honoring veterans on this Veterans Day weekend.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines