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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Standoff Over Captured British Sailors Escalates; Dark Side to Rudy Giuliani?; Halle Berry's Despair; Pope John Paul's Miracle?
Aired March 30, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us, everyone, tonight. Paula has the night off.
Here's what we're bringing out in the open for you.
Tonight, there is new video and a new confession from the British captives in Iran. Are they being forced to admit guilt?
Is this nun proof of a miracle that will lead to sainthood for Pope John Paul II?
And, also, we ask, what drove Oscar winner Halle Berry to come so close to trying to kill herself?
Out in the open first, though, tonight, it's day seven of the standoff being Britain and Iran. And Iran heightened the tension yet again today with new video of the British sailors and marines that they're holding, including one of them apologizing for entering Iranian territory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATHAN THOMAS SUMMERS, BRITISH ROYAL MARINES: I'd like to apologize for entering your waters without any permission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Well, Iran also released another letter supposedly written by the only female captive also in it, apologizing.
It's been a week since Iranian forces seized 15 British sailors and marines during a cargo ship inspection in the Persian Gulf.
And Iran says the Brits crossed into Iranian waters. That's something Britain is denying. And, today, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that manipulating captives doesn't fool anyone.
But what is going on that we can't see? Are there guns pointed at the captives? Have they been tortured or even drugged?
Well, we asked Matthew Chance in London to bring out in the open what has happened before when captors parade their hostages in front of the cameras.
NATHAN THOMAS SUMMERS, BRITISH ROYAL MARINES: Since we have been arrested in Iran, our treatment has been very friendly.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Another propaganda salvo, another disturbing confession, possibly made under duress, in an escalating standoff between Britain and Iran, now in its eighth day.
This is Nathan Thomas Summers, one of the 15 British sailors being held, and now paraded on Iranian television as well.
SUMMERS: I'm grateful no harm has come to us. Just I would like to apologize for entering your waters without any permission.
CHANCE: The very act of putting this young captive on television, with claims his confession was coerced, has provoked outrage in Britain. Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken of his disgust. The British Foreign Office says it's disgraceful.
It's also illegal, say lawyers. Parading detainees on TV would seem to violate the 1949 Geneva Convention, which Iran has signed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea is to prevent humiliation and to prevent them from being dehumanized, and, therefore, maintaining a degree of -- of civilization between warring and fighting factions. That's the whole ethos behind it.
CHANCE: But history is littered with examples of captured service personnel being used for propaganda and paraded in the media, not always successfully.
In the Vietnam War, captured U.S. airman Jeremiah Denton, who went on to become an admiral and a senator, was paraded for the cameras by the North Vietnamese. He didn't confess to anything, but he did blink the word torture in Morse code.
Other prisoners have been less able to resist their captors' demands.
JILL CARROLL, HELD CAPTIVE IN IRAQ: The Americans are here as occupying forces, you know, treating the people in a very, very bad way.
CHANCE: Jill Carroll, a U.S. journalist working for "The Christian Science Monitor" kidnapped in Iraq in 2006, criticized the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq on camera and praised the insurgents as good people fighting an honorable fight.
After her release, she said she did it because she feared for her life.
CARROLL: I knew what I was supposed to say. I learned what they want -- what to say. And, so, I said what they wanted me to say, of course. And, like, you -- you don't say no. That's not part of it. If you say no, you are dead. CHANCE: Some who have lived through the ordeal, like John Nicholl, a British airman shot down over Iraq in the 1990 Gulf War, know too well how it feels to be paraded on TV by your captors.
JOHN NICHOLL, GULF WAR VETERAN: For me, it was a violent situation. But what is my family going through? What are my parents going through? What are my relatives going through? And, for me, still today, that hurts me, to think what the difficult situation for them and the really set of horrible circumstances that they had to endure.
CHANCE: And it is with the families of the latest captured that many in Britain and now sympathizing. With their strained confessions broadcast, the hope is they can now be set free as well.
Matthew Chance, CNN, London.
CHETRY: And, so, tonight let's get out in the open with our panel tonight.
Cenk Uygur, host of "The Young Turks" on Air America Radio, thanks for being with us.
Syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray, good to see you, as well.
And also Michael Meyers, president and executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition.
Thanks to all of you for being with us tonight.
Let's take another look, a little bit more of that video today from today from the British soldier -- sailor, rather -- Nathan Thomas Summers.
Let's hear what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUMMERS: We have not been harmed at all. They have looked after us really well. Basically, the food they have been serving us has been good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Michael, let's start with you. Do you believe anything he is saying?
MICHAEL MEYERS, PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CIVIL RIGHTS COALITION: In a hostage situation, you have to have a presumptive invalidity to the confessions. And you have to assume people have been given a script to read, and you let it go at that.
The best way to get out of their situation is -- for Iran -- is to accept the fake confessions and apologies from the service people, and let them go. Unfortunately, I -- I think Britain has heightened the situation and exacerbated it, into a sense of taking it to the U.N. You don't need that. You don't need all that sound and fury. You just need quiet diplomacy, get those service people out of there.
CENK UYGUR, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I would have taken it to the U.N., too. I mean, they have got your guys.
And they -- originally, they gave the wrong coordinates. They said, oh, they were Iranian waters. And it turned out they were in Iraqi waters. And then Iran had to change their coordinates. So, they're totally in the wrong here. They're 100 percent in the wrong.
But, at the same time, we have got our chickens coming home to roost here, because the Bush administration takes detainees for five years at a time, won't give them a trial, holds them in secret prisons. And, then, when the Western prisoners get caught, we go: Oh, my God. I can't believe you are treating Western prisoners that way. No, no, no. That's only for our prisoners.
CHETRY: Isn't it a different story, though?
JOEL MOWBRAY, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes. We are talking not even in the same ballpark, with all respect to Cenk.
This has -- you didn't have any hostilities on the part of the British soldiers. They weren't trying to go in and launch rockets into Iran.
UYGUR: How do you know?
MOWBRAY: OK. First off, we don't have hostilities between Britain and Iran.
We have a very cold relationship between the two countries. Look, U.S. ships, by the way, have been going into the Iranian waters, according to most people.
CHETRY: Yes. What usually happens, though?
MOWBRAY: Usually, what happens...
CHETRY: What usually happens when...
MOWBRAY: Kiran, what usually happens is, the Iranian ship, or whichever nation's ship, would say, guys, you are in our water. We are going to guide you back across the line.
That's all there is.
MOWBRAY: And, so, the fact that they go in to Iraqi waters, quite possibly, and then capture these people, and then put them on videotape, have them read these statements? I mean, come on, we're not even talking the same thing.
CHETRY: All right.
What's interesting is, Michael, you said that you felt they...
CHETRY: ... that -- that Britain shouldn't have gone to the U.N. with this, that it should have been done more quietly.
CHETRY: Let's hear what British Prime Minister Tony Blair said about this crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have just got to pursue with the necessary firmness and determination, but also -- but also patience, because there is any one possible conclusion to this. And that is that our personnel are released safe and sound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MEYERS: There, I agree -- I agree with the prime minister. There's only one conclusion of this. They have to be released safe and sound.
But, if the U.N. was going to be involved, it should have been the secretary-general of the U.N. who should have offered his services as a mediator. Right now, they are not regarded as neutral.
MEYERS: And now they're out of the picture.
UYGUR: Of course they're neutral. They're saying, neutrally, you have got to give the soldiers back. What Iran did was wrong here.
Now, the flip side to that is, Iran is trying to flex its muscle, because the West is flexing its muscle. We're having unprecedented maneuvers there. We have got two aircraft carriers there. We're showing a show of strength there. And our vice president and our administration keeps threatening them with regime change.
CHETRY: All right, final word from Joel.
UYGUR: They're threatened, of course.
CHETRY: Joel, do you think there should be more outrage in the world community?
MOWBRAY: There absolutely should be more outrage. And we should be doing more with Iran than what we're doing right now. Nothing justifies what Iran is doing. And trying to take cheap shots at the Bush administration doesn't change that fact.
CHETRY: All right, we're out of time. But thanks, because we're going to...
MEYERS: But you have got to get the service members home. That's the main focus.
CHETRY: Very true.
MOWBRAY: Without doing anything that incentivizes future kidnappings.
CHETRY: All right.
Well, Joel Mowbray, Cenk Uygur, and Michael Meyers, we're going to be back to talk a little bit later about another issue, so, stick with us.
Meantime, Rudy Giuliani is leading the Republican field. But is there a dark side to Giuliani that most of America has not yet seen? We're going to take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID VON DREHLE, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Rudy Giuliani, in a normal year, wouldn't have a prayer of being elected president, I don't think. He has the most colorful private life of any candidate we have ever seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: But does that matter anymore? And how will that play against his post-9/11 image as a tough, effective leader?
Also, what is behind Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry's sudden admission -- stunning admission that she wanted to kill herself?
CHETRY: Another story that is in the open tonight: Halle Berry says she once came close to killing herself. What drove her to that kind of despair?
And, tonight, Rudy Giuliani still the front-runner among possible Republican candidates for president -- his lead, though, has taken a bit of a dip.
We are going to take a look at the latest poll from "TIME" magazine, Giuliani at 35 percent, John McCain, 22 percent. Just two weeks earlier, though, Giuliani was enjoying a 40 percent approval among Republican voters to John McCain's 20 percent.
This week, he said, if he is elected, he would invite his wife, Judith, to sit in on Cabinet meetings. Some say it is not something likely to help improve his numbers. Still, though, he is standing strong on his reputation as a leader, an effective leader, after the 9/11 attacks. And, with nine months to go before the first primary, the race is Giuliani's to lose.
But out in the open tonight, a side of America's mayor that you may have never seen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Put your mask on. Put your mask on.
CHETRY (voice-over): His performance in the aftermath of September 11 was an inspiration for many, and earned him the nickname "America's mayor."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: A group of barbaric terrorists...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: And, in the dark days and weeks that followed, Americans across the country came to embrace this two-term New York mayor as their own. And now he is the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Are you running or not?
GIULIANI: Yes, I'm running.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: But there is talk that Rudy Giuliani's personal and political baggage could cause him difficulties in his bid for the White House.
DAVID VON DREHLE, "TIME" MAGAZINE: The luster that he brings into the beginning of the race, as the hero of 9/11, Rudy the rock, that's going -- that's definitely going to be tarnished.
CHETRY: "TIME" magazine reporter David Von Drehle says there is a side of Giuliani that some voters might find more "National Enquirer" than national leader.
VON DREHLE: He has the most colorful private life of any candidate we have ever seen.
CHETRY: Just take his marital record. He's taken a trip down the aisle three times, including a 14-year marriage to his second cousin, once removed. Giuliani says they only discovered their family relation after many years of marriage.
And talk about reality TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: This is very, very painful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Giuliani's second wife found out he was leaving her at this televised press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: For quite some time, it's probably been apparent that Donna and I lead, in many ways, independent and separate lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONNA HANOVER, FORMER WIFE OF RUDY GIULIANI: I had hoped to keep this marriage together. For several years, it was difficult to participate in Rudy's public life because of his relationship with one staff member.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Giuliani denied having an affair with a staff member, but was public about calling soon-to-be-wife number three, Judith Nathan, a good friend, after she was often seen at his side.
His relationship with Nathan, as well as his temporary residence with a gay couple after he left the mayoral mansion, became non-stop New York tabloid candy.
But this Brooklynite never seemed the avoid center stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
GIULIANI: The kids needs more pop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: In 1997, Giuliani appeared as an Italian-American grandmother on "Saturday Night Live." Then he channeled his best Marilyn at a charity dinner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: I already play a Republican playing a Democrat playing a Republican.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: A lighter side of Giuliani that many found refreshing, but at odds with his well-known no-nonsense, hard-nosed persona.
GIULIANI: ... crime and drugs as the major problem.
VON DREHLE: Rudy Giuliani is a tough guy. He likes a good fight.
CHETRY: In his six years as U.S. attorney, he was known as the crime-buster, who garnered more than 4,000 convictions, although 25 were reversed, and locked up major mob bosses and corrupt corporate leaders.
As mayor, he racked up some huge successes, adding more than 400,000 jobs and bringing tourists back to a city with a dramatically reduced crime rate and cleaner city streets. But he did so, in part, by relying on some unusual tactics. Petty criminals became big targets, on the theory that little crimes sow the seed for bigger ones.
VON DREHLE: He picked fight with squeegee men, with hot dog vendors. What to most people was a mundane fact of New York life would become a crusade for Rudy Giuliani.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: What they did is disgusting. It's outrageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: And he certainly wasn't afraid to weigh in on controversial issues, like going after an exhibit at the city-funded Brooklyn Museum of Art that featured a painting of the Virgin Mary splattered with animal dung.
Giuliani claimed freedom of speech had gone haywire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's stop this nonsense now.
CHETRY: He insisted the art be removed, but a judge rejected his attempts.
He also showed himself to be thin-skinned when he moved to get this advertisement for "New York" magazine taken off of Manhattan buses. "Possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn't taken credit for," boasted the sign, poking fun at the mayor's tendency to brag about his successes.
GIULIANI: How are you? How you doing?
CHETRY: When asked about how his past might impact his campaign, Giuliani responded last week.
GIULIANI: And I was able to handle the worst attack in the history of our country, while all these little things that the press is caring about were going on. So, I think, when people take a look at it fairly, they will see it has nothing to do with job performance.
CHETRY: But will Giuliani's more tabloid moments hamper him on the road to Pennsylvania Avenue?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) VON DREHLE: This is a great year to bet on something unusual happening. And there is nothing more unusual in American politics than Rudolph Giuliani.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Well, time now to bring in two journalists who covered Rudy Giuliani's years as mayor of New York, Andrew Kirtzman, a reporter for WCBS-TV. He's also the author of "Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City."
And also with me, "Village Voice" writer Wayne Barrett, author of "The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11."
Thanks to both of you for being with us.
Andrew, a lot of people outside of New York don't necessarily know the Giuliani, only from what they saw in the coverage of 9/11. So, you covered him for years.
What is, I guess, the thing that most Americans don't know about Rudy?
ANDREW KIRTZMAN, AUTHOR, "RUDY GIULIANI: EMPEROR OF THE CITY": Well, I think that most Americans think of him as this kind of fatherly, saintly figure, acquired from his extraordinary leadership after 9/11.
And I have never seen a situation where a persona could be so diametrically different from what the public that elected him feels. I mean, Giuliani, during his mayoralty, was the most incredibly combative, attack-oriented politician I have ever covered. I am not saying it was good. I am not saying it was bad. It certainly produced extraordinary results.
But to think that Giuliani is this kind of benevolent figure is not really an accurate picture of who this guy is. And I think, if America is going to elect him president, they should -- they should know who he really is before they pull the lever.
CHETRY: Wayne, do you think that Rudy Giuliani would be a good president?
WAYNE BARRETT, AUTHOR, "THE UNTOLD STORY OF RUDY GIULIANI AND 9/11": Well, he brings a lot to the table, in terms of experience. Some of it is bitter experience for many New Yorkers.
He certainly doesn't have any sort of sense of foreign policy, national issues. That hasn't disqualified other people in the past. But he has a very limited resume on many of the issues that a president would face.
The only credential, really, that he brings to the table that has attracted the attention of all of these people in the polls that are saying they're going to vote for him are what he just said in your clip, which is: I stood up the day of the attack.
And the theme of our book, "Grand Illusion," really is that that is mostly mythology. He said the right things that day, but he did all the wrong things in the lead-up to the attack. He didn't protect the city. There are dozens of ways in which we detail that in the book.
He even made mistakes, critical tactical mistakes that day. And then we all know what the respiratory plague that occurred at ground zero that is still affecting thousand of first-responders and construction workers, and he allowed ground zero really to proceed without respirators, without protecting the workers. He was just in a rush to clean it up.
CHETRY: I mean, in fairness, though, it was an extraordinarily unexpected attack that day. And the consequences of what happened afterward were something that people had not ever dealt with before either.
BARRETT: Well, there are many things about it that are understandable.
The problem is that he projects himself as the guy who understood the threat, who prepared the city, who responded in such a capable way. If he wasn't projecting himself as the man who was the master of this very serious disaster, then it might be unfair to criticize him. But, when he suggests that is a rationale for the presidency, I think the facts have to be looked at.
CHETRY: All right.
Well, Andrew, let's talk about the personal life. I mean, 9/11 aside, you know, his base is going to need to be some conservative Republicans and, you know, many within the Christian right. Are they going to be comfortable electing somebody, positions aside on some of the big issues, but with the personal history he has, three marriages under his belt?
KIRTZMAN: Well, let me tell you something.
I -- I -- this is a very crucial moment for Rudy Giuliani. He is on top of the polls because of his reservoir of goodwill acquired from 9/11. But conservatives, in fact, Republicans broadly, are really taking a second look at Giuliani. And they're at a point right now where they're not sure where they're going to go. And they -- they're looking at other candidates, perhaps.
And, right now, all that the party has heard is that his wife has had three husbands, that his son is not talking to him, that he is going to have his wife sit at Cabinet meetings. I mean, I don't know who is doing the image for Giuliani right now, but he is in danger of blowing it at a very critical moment. He has got to change the subject.
Go out there and give a policy speech, something that takes -- takes advantage of his limelight and seizes the initiative, because, right now, the -- the image, it looks terrible.
CHETRY: All right.
Well, we are out of time, but it was an interesting discussion from both of you. Thanks so much.
Andrew Kirtzman, Wayne Barrett...
BARRETT: Thank you.
CHETRY: ... thanks.
CHETRY: A French nun's story of miraculous healing is out in the open tonight. Is she the key to declaring Pope John Paul II a saint?
And later: What does Halle Berry say drove her to the brink of suicide?
CHETRY: Out in the open tonight: a mystery solved and an incredible story of healing that could speed up efforts to make the late Pope John Paul II a saint.
Today, a French nun went public with her claim that John Paul answered her prayers and suddenly cured her Parkinson's disease. So, could this be a miracle?
We asked faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher to investigate.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH AND VALUES CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The late Pope John Paul II has been on the fast track to sainthood ever since his death in April 2005. One miracle is needed for beatification, the first step towards sainthood.
MONSIGNOR SLAWOMIR ODER, INVESTIGATED POPE MIRACLE (through translator): We knew of many people who were helped by the prayers of John Paul II when he was living. But, for beatification, the miracle has to occur after death.
CHETRY: There has been no shortage of possible miracles to bolster his case. One hundred and 30 claims have been considered by the Vatican.
Sister Simon-Pierre is making one of those claims. In 2001, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Her condition worsened over the next four years. She closely identified with the pope she loved, who suffered from the same degenerative disease with no known cure.
Two months after he died, Sister Marie sat down to write Pope John Paul's name as she prayed to him for help. But her shaking was so bad, all that came out was a scribble. Her congregation prayed for a miracle. And they say their prayers were answered.
SISTER MARIE-SIMON-PIERRE, PRAYED TO POPE JOHN PAUL II FOR MIRACLE (through translator): About 9:00 p.m., I felt the need to write. And my writing suddenly was very readable. Then, I woke up in the middle of the night, and I was completely transformed. I was not the same.
CHETRY: Her doctor was stunned. The Parkinson's was completely gone.
SIMON-PIERRE (through translator): He said, what have you done, taken a double dose of your medication?
And I said: No. I have stopped taking it altogether.
GALLAGHER: Experts say there is no earthly way to explain what happened to Sister Marie.
DR. MICHELE TAGLIATI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF NEUROLOGY, MOUNT SINAI SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: In my experience with -- with literally thousands of patients with Parkinson's disease, I have never seen anybody waking up cured overnight.
CHETRY: Sister Marie believes she was cured by the intercession of Pope John Paul II.
But whether it can be called a miracle is not for her to decide.
SIMON-PIERRE (through translator): What I want to tell everyone is that I was sick and I am now cured. I am cured. And it will be up to the church to pronounce whether we can call this a miracle or not.
CHETRY: Faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher joins me now to talk more about it.
It is fascinating.
CHETRY: How do they go about proving, I guess, the nun's case?
GALLAGHER: Well, she comes up with it. You know, she is the one who has to say, I feel that I have been cured by the help of Pope John Paul II. And her doctor who had been following her, because she had had Parkinson's for four years, is responsible for writing, you know, some documentation to say that, before, she had the symptoms, and, then, afterward, she didn't have them.
And that is the initial step. And they give that to Rome. Then, the Vatican has doctors in different countries all over the world that they use to go and investigate these cases. And, so, they will send out their doctor, then, who will sort of meet her, meet her doctor, and go over the whole thing. And, then, once that is established, then, somebody from Rome actually comes out and meets with her, and meets with the nuns that with her at the time, and sort of starts to talk to everybody that was involved in the case.
CHETRY: All right. Keep us posted on how it turns out.
Delia Gallagher, thanks so much.
GALLAGHER: You're welcome.
CHETRY: A Muslim woman says that she was denied justice in an American courtroom because she refused to take off her veil. There is a look at her right now. Is she a victim of religious discrimination? We are going to talk to her.
Also, later, we will bring Halle Berry's brush with suicide out in the open. What drove her to the edge?
KAREN: "Out in the Open" tonight. Should Muslim women be allowed to wear veils in American courtrooms? One Muslim woman is suing a Detroit judge who dismissed her case after she refused to remove a veil that covers her entire face except for her eyes.
Now all of this started when Ginnah Muhammad went to court to settle a dispute with a rental car company. She alleges, though, that when she tried to testify with her veil on, the judge insisted she take it off so that he could see if she was telling the truth.
Ginnah Muhammad says that that is religious discrimination and she is with us tonight along with her attorney Nabih Ayad. Thanks to both of you for being with us.
GINNAH MUHAMMAD, REFUSED TO REMOVE VEIL IN COURT: Thank you, Karen.
NABIH AYAD, GINNAH MUHAMMAD'S ATTORNEY: Thank you, Karen.
KAREN: Let me ask you first of all. You converted to Islam years ago. Why do you wear the full hijab, as they call it?
MUHAMMAD: I feel that it makes me virtuous. It makes me -- I keep God first in my life. I am basically following the holy Koran and following the Sunnah, so it is like being Sunnah in the Koran.
KAREN: Let's listen to what the judge said. Because we did see the whole transcript and it was a back and forth. Btu what he said about this is, "as I am listening to testimony I need to see your face and I need to see what's going on and unless you take that off, I can't see your face and I can't tell whether you're telling me the truth or not and I can't see certain things about your demeanor and temperament that I need to see in a court of law."
Could you see where he may have had a point? MUHAMMAD: No, not really because I was led to believe that he -- by the bailiff that he was OK with me coming into the courtroom and that it wasn't an issue. But as soon as I came in they changed it. So, I was kind of threw off.
KAREN: And did you feel that he was a little bit intolerant to your claim that you wanted to wear that and that, and that you had said in the transcript that it would be as if somebody asked you to undress?
MUHAMMAD: Right. Exactly. Because I have it -- I put these clothes on right before I leave home. So, I have them situated. So to take something off it's like I'm taking my clothes off. So I couldn't take my clothes off in the courtroom.
KAREN: Was the situation embarrassing for you?
MUHAMMAD: Totally. Because the courtroom was full of people. Like I said, I was led to believe that everything was OK. It's like, they told me everything is OK. Then they led me in there. And then -- called me first and then you know told me, you know, to remove your -- what he exactly said is, "You need to remove this stuff."
KAREN: That is what he said.
Let me ask your attorney, real quick, Nabih Ayad, how do you intend on proving that it was religious discrimination or a judge who has leeway in his court just saying I don't think I can try this unless I can see your face?
AYAD: First we disbelieve that that is the case. First the judge should listen as to the beliefs of the facts as to the statements that are made in court. And the judge cannot trump the 1st Amendment fundamental constitution rights to one's exercise of freedom of religion. This judge basically told Ms. Muhammad, to decide, either you have the right to answer to the court or to practice your religion. And this should not be the case.
That's why we are asking the federal judge basically to stand in place and say that what you are doing is incorrect and to allow Muslim Americans to exercise their freedom of religion and exercise their rights to the courts.
KAREN: All right. And you've filed that. So you may be hearing something. You filed that today. Thank you to both of you. Ginnah Muhammad as well as her attorney, Nabih Ayad. Thanks.
AYAD: Thank you.
MUHAMMAD: Thank you, Karen.
KAREN: Now, we are going to hear more about this case with our "Out in the Open" panel and what they have to say about it. Joining me again, Cenk Uygur, host of "The Young Turks" on Air America Radio as well as syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray and Michael Meyers, president and executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition. Thank you so much.
If you got to read the transcripts there were a couple times where she asked could I been front of a female judge, and also asked, is there any way that I can maybe hear this case in a different courtroom? The judge denied both of them?
Do you think her rights were violated?
MICHAEL MEYERS, NEW YORK CIVIL RIGHTS COALITION: You don't get to choose your judge. If you are a female get to choose a female judge. Don't get a male judge if you are a male plaintiff. This was a small claims action. This was not in federal district court. It was no jury present. This was a judge who was the trier of fact and the judge of the law. He should have used good judgment. He should have not, I read the transcript.
He started speculating, second-guessing her about her religious beliefs. He should have said the law says, the law requires you to give me testimony and that your religious observance, my responsibility is to have the least restrictive means by which to get your testimony without trumping your religious constitutional rights.
KAREN: Do you ...
MEYERS: He could have done that. He could have taken the testimony and discounted it if he pleased - if he couldn't take care of her facial gestures in terms of her credibility he could have discounted her testimony.
KAREN: What do you think, Cenk Uygur?
MEYERS: He used bad judgment.
CENK UYGUR, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST: I don't know if he meant to do religious discrimination. But he did. Imagine a Jewish guy walks in, take that off your yarmulke, otherwise I'm not going to let you testify.
And this whole idea of oh, he's going read your face. Every expert in the world knows that is not reliable whether you can tell somebody is lying or not lying form whether you can read your face.
KAREN: She seems like a very nice woman so I'm not referring to her. But Joel, when people commit crimes they wear a ski mask so you can't see them. And that ...
JOEL MOWBRAY, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And you can't be identified later on. Karen, I mean, look end of the day. False analogy. Cenk, president to say, because this, a kippah goes on the back of a head. It is not something that covers the face. The judge was saying I need to gauge your testimony.
And by the way, this goes to the very ...
KAREN: You think he has a point?
MOWBRAY: Yeah. It goes to the very core of the British and American common law system.
UYGUR: Reading faces?
MOWBRAY: Oh, absolutely. The idea is judges and juries are expected in the course of their duty to make a determination about credibility of witnesses. Remember many cases turn on ...
UYGUR: But it has nothing to do with the face.
MOWBRAY: Exactly ...
UYGUR: They've done studies on this.
MOWBRAY: Many cases.
UYGUR: No CIA analyst, no one ...
MOWBRAY: Cenk? Cenk? Let me finish. Wow, he's a talk radio host and he talks over people.
MEYERS: You don't go into a courtroom to practice your religion. The sole issue here is whether the person who comes into the courtroom is disrespected and their constitutional rights and religious liberty is trumped by the judge or denied by the judge. I think the judge used bad judgment. But I do not believe it was religious discrimination at all.
MOWBRAY: It is not religious discrimination. And Cenk, I'm going to finish this time before you talk. The fact is you often in cases witness that say two things that cannot both be true. OK. So the judge and juries are expected in the course ...
UYGUR: Like Scooter Libby.
MOWBRAY: Again, cheap pot shots. Don't need to take them. Don't need to cut me off with them. Look, the judge and juries have to determine which truth to believe. Enterprise and this woman, both probably said very different thing about the facts of the case. And the judge has to determine credibility each side.
UYGUR: Scooter Libby should have come in a veil. That might have helped.
MEYERS: It was a small claims court.
MOWBRAY: Michael, thank you.
KAREN: Larger issue. If you read the transcript. He did say things like, I talked to other Muslims that is not part of the religion, that's a cultural decision.
MEYERS: That's what I meant by speculating. Second-guessing religious beliefs. He didn't have to do it. If he was unsure of the law he could have had a recess checked the law, come in and said this is the law, testify. MOWBRAY: There are a lot of people who feel they know a lot about Islam and thus are experts who really aren't. I am a journalist who writes about this a lot. I am nowhere close to being an expert. And I acknowledge that.
So the judge shouldn't have speculated. But at the end of the day we have to forego certain rights, even religious rights. For example, this woman has a driver's license. She had to remove the hijab to have her photograph taken for identity purposes. And therefore we know she has already taken off her hijab once for something, to drive. So it should be no different with the court.
And it's the same basic principle.
MEYERS: If she was a criminal suspect she would take off the veil to be mug shot.
UYGUR: I'm aggressively agnostic so I'm sure I don't agree with her religious views more than anybody on the panel. And I think, look, maybe offensive to some. I think the outfit looks ridiculous. I love her. But it looks ridiculous. And I think a lot of religious outfits look ridiculous. It is her right. We live in America. If you want to come in and testify you can't cut her off that way.
KAREN: All right. Well, lively discussion for sure. Joel Mowbray, Cenk Uygur and Michael Meyers.
MEYERS: It's a small claims court!
KAREN: You can continue this about 20 feet away.
MOWBRAY: We will, we will.
KAREN: I will join you at 9:01. Thanks so much, though. It was great. We're out of time, though.
Meanwhile, Oscar winner Halle Berry known for bringing troubles with men "Out in the Open." She's talked a lot about it. Bared her soul. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: There are reasons why things happen. And usually they're to prepare you for the next stage of life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN: Why is she now saying that she once came close to trying to kill herself?
KAREN: Well a Hollywood star who has always seemed to have it all is out in the open tonight about her battle with depression and her brush with suicide. In this Sunday's edition of "Parade" magazine, Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry talks about the despair she felt after the breakup of her marriage to baseball's David Justice.
Her story highlights how depression can affect anyone, everyone really despite beauty, money and the fame. Here is entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson.
BERRY: We're all struggling to find love. Not only love, you know, with the opposite sex, but love of self.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to imagine being Halle Berry could be all that bad? Here is Berry the Bond girl in "Die Another Day.
BERRY: My friends call me Jinx.
ANDERSON: Hers seems a charmed life, born on the right side of genetics, the former beauty queen now holds the titles of first black woman to win a best actress Oscar and one of Hollywood's highest paid black actresses.
But this week, having it all in Hollywood took on new meaning as the star with work as diverse as "Monster's Ball" and "X-Men" made a stunning announcement. She tried to kill herself in 1996.
Telling this weekend's "Parade" magazine, quote, "I was sitting in my car and I knew the gas was coming when I had an image of my mother finding me."
She blamed the rock bottom moment on depression following her failed first marriage to baseball star David Justice. The woman who gave life to a black cat in "Catwoman" has had her share of bad luck.
Minor onset injuries in "Catwoman" and at least three other films sent her to the hospital. In 2000, Berry pleaded no contest to leaving the scene of a crime after causing a traffic accident in Los Angeles. Then came marriage two to musician Eric Benet which ended after he reportedly admitted a sex addiction. A reflective Berry told CNN in 2002.
BERRY: There are reasons why things happen. Usually they're to prepare you for the next stage of life.
ANDERSON: The next stage for Berry is the release of her newest film "Perfect Stranger" in two weeks.
PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, BOX OFFICE ANALYST: Her revelation about her attempted suicide just brings her into the spotlight in a very major way. And whenever you get people aware of a star whose movie is about to open I don't see a downside for the box office.
ANDERSON: And if luck is on her side, she'll prove the cynics right.
BERRY: So what are you doing here with me?
ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson. CNN, Hollywood.
KAREN: And with me now the author of the book "Introducing Halle Berry" Chris Farley, he is also an editor at the "Wall Street Journal." Thank you very much for being with us.
CHRIS FARLEY, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
KAREN: So you know her on a personal level?
FARLEY: I have interviewed, interviewed her near the start of her career when she was doing movies like "Strictly Business", and came to know her on the set of "Queen", a mini series she did and interviewed her then.
KAREN: It's interesting because Halle Berry is someone who has been very open about her personal struggles. I mean, even before it was popular to share so much about yourself. She always has had this vulnerable character, way about her, though she is gorgeous and seems to have it all?
FARLEY: I think people see here, they see the beauty, they see the style. They think what could possibly go wrong with this life? Well a lot.
I mean, she did grow up on kind of the wrong side of the tracks, a lot of problems when sheep was a kid with her father who she said was abusive towards her mother, I remember when I first interviewed her, talked about teased as a kid, and being called zebra because her mother was white and her father was black.
And a lot of these things really caused angst and a lot of pain in her that has come out in relationships. According to her in fact, when she did get divorced from David Justice she actually called her father up and vented and raged at him saying she was the reason why she had all the troubles with men. So that's coming from her about the reasons why she has had some of the troubles over her life.
KAREN: And her second marriage didn't work out much better either. Eric Benet, she accused him - she said that he had a sexual addiction and accused him of causing a lot of problems in their marriage.
FARLEY: An Oscar does not cure your personal problems. Saw it with Reese Witherspoon, she got divorced soon after winning of the best actress Oscar. We saw it with -- with Hillary Swank, she, soon left her husband.
KAREN: So the message here, if you are too pretty, too successful, you can't have love?
FARLEY: Basically, don't believe the images, don't believe what you see on the screen, it's a movie. These are actresses. What you see on the screen, what you see on TV, does not actually reflect what is going on in the turmoil of their lives all the time.
KAREN: There are some cynics, we talked about Halle Berry coming forward and saying this, a lot of people saying what, does she have a movie to promote? Because it seems these days, a lot of celebrities are extremely candid about their personal life and their personal foibles and they get a lot of publicity for it?
FARLEY: Well, it's interesting. Because in a "Radar" magazine I was looking online on their Web site. They sort of made the same allegation because she is promoting a movie. She has actually said the suicide thing before. It's actually in my book, "Introducing Halle Berry," her talking about this. She talked about it with "Essence" magazine. Also with "Jet" magazine. "Ebony" magazine. And the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution."
She has said this kind of thing before. What's different here, it's hard for this to sink in. We still can't believe that Halle Berry could have been thinking suicide. It doesn't make any sense. So probably 10 years from now she'll say it again. We'll be surprised all over again.
KAREN: And oftentimes when some people come forward, political figures, celebrities come forward it is because they have a message to deliver as well. Does she talk about suffering with and eventually coming to terms with depression and being able to treat it?
FARLEY: She has talked about being in therapy. She has talked about working on herself. And working on her own issues. I think that is a message that probably people find pretty comforting. That other people, superstars, rich people can have the same problems other people too, and they also want to reach out and get some help. I think that is a message, that message is why people I think get so excited about the story.
KAREN: It seems sometimes they have more problems than the everyday folks.
FARLEY: Certainly in her case, in her case she made a movie called "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge", about the troubled life of Dorothy Dandridge and Halle Berry herself has had a lot of trouble with her life. Perhaps sometime in the future someone will make a movie about her because of all the ups and downs she has had in her career.
KAREN: Chris Farley, interesting stuff. Thanks so much.
Thank you for having me.
Coming up in just a few minutes. Larry King has the latest tonight on those 15 captured British sailors and marines held for a week now by Iran. Also next how a former veteran actress has turned in life on the stage for a chance to help others instead. It's a story of life after work you won't want to miss.
KAREN: LARRY KING LIVE coming up in just a few minutes. Hi, Larry. Who is on with you tonight?
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Hi, Karen. We have got the "Black Hawk Down" pilot that was captured in Somalia and a former Navy SEAL who teaches advanced hostage rescue. We are going to talk about of course those captured British soldiers still held by Iran eight days and counting. Plus a man who is angry, get this, that he has to pay his ex-wife alimony even though she is now a he. Think about that, Karen. It's all ahead at the top of the hour.
KAREN: I am trying to think about it, Larry. That's going to be an interesting - I definitely have to stay up to watch that one. All right. Thank so much. See you at 9:00.
KAREN: And we're going to change our focus for a moment now. You are going to meet some one who found herself suddenly out of a career simply because she was getting older. But this veteran actress didn't give up. She learned instead how to build a new life by helping others. Randy Kaye has her story in tonight's life after work.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Broadway to Hollywood, the entertainment industry celebrates youth especially when it comes to its female performers. Outside of Meryl Streep or Judi Dench, there are thousands of other women who suddenly have to struggle to find work once they reach a certain age.
CAROL HARRIS-MANNES, FORMER ACTRESS: Women in the industry, especially after they hit their 40s, are not welcomed. They start to get less work, and many women say the same thing that I said. Now what am I going to do with the rest of my life?
KAYE: Carol Harris-Mannes knows their pain because she was once there herself.
HARRIS-MANNES: I did everything I wanted to do -- theater, film, TV, a lot of commercials. And then one day around '95 it was like my fire went out.
KAYE: So Harris-Mannes decided to go back to school at age 57 and earn a Masters in social work. That's when she received a callback from her former profession, this time offering a much different role -- social worker at the Actor's Fund, a support service for entertainment workers.
HARRIS-MANNES: It was the perfect place for me because I understand the population so well, and luckily enough, after I graduated, a job opened up here and so I've been here ever since.
KAYE: Harris-Mannes runs a support group focusing on career development for older women in the entertainment field.
HARRIS-MANNES: Thanks for catching me and helping me to land safely.
KAYE: Another important part of her work is helping entertainment workers who face serious health issues.
HARRIS-MANNES: I feel a sense of accomplishment when a woman comes in who was just diagnosed with breast cancer and she has no insurance and she doesn't know how she's going to get through this, and to find her someplace to go where she can get treated and successfully recover, that to me is tremendously satisfying.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
KAREN: Still ahead, the latest tonight on a major wildfire threatening some of Hollywood's most famous landmarks. Right here.
KAREN: Right now, firefighters in Los Angeles are still wrestling with a wildfire that was threatening to engulf a Hollywood icon today. It is burning on the back side of the famous hill that has the giant white Hollywood sign on it. Pictures unbelievable.
Fortunately, though, the flames never went over the top of the hill but smoke from the brush fire did seep into Warner Brothers Studios. The Associated Press quotes L.A.'s mayor as saying that two boys ages 16 and 17 told authorities that they started it.
Two hundred firefighters with five helicopters are battling that blaze.
And that's all for tonight. "Out in the Open" on Monday, a controversy in Virginia where a newspaper published the names of 135,000 residents with permits to carry weapons. See you then.
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