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CNN CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT

Police Hunt for Runnion's Killer to Prevent Next Strike; Friends Defend Officer Morse; Navratilova Sets the Record Straight

Aired July 17, 2002 - 20:00   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CONNIE CHUNG, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Connie Chung.

Tonight, a race against time, as police hunt the killer of Samantha Runnion before he can strike again.

ANNOUNCER: 5-year-old Samantha Runnion's fate turns tragic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The body in Riverside County is that of Samantha Runnion. Based upon a profile provided to us to by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that this individual will commit another crime of a similar fact pattern in a relatively short period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Is it the work of a serial killer?

Defending this man, Jeremy Morse. For the first time, we hear from the officer's closest friends. The inside story of the cop accused of going too far.

Life after center court turns hot. Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, is she anti-American? Tonight, Martina sets the record straight with Connie.

This is CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT. Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, Connie Chung.

CHUNG: Good evening.

Tonight, one mother's worst fears have come to pass. Dozens of law enforcement officials are trying to find the man responsible, and millions of Americans are waiting to see whether he will strike again, killing another child, shattering another family. CNN's Frank Buckley is on the story tonight in Stanton, California.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her body was found along a lonely stretch of highway, 75 miles away from home. Investigators fought to hold back their emotions as they explained that 5-year-old Samantha Runnion was violated and killed.

SHERIFF MICHAEL CARONA, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: We believe that she was sexually assaulted and, yes, there was some trauma to the body.

BUCKLEY: Sheriff Mike Carona said in the process, the killer left behind what he described as a tremendous amount of forensic evidence. And the way the suspect discarded Samantha's body with no apparent attempt to conceal it was a chilling sign, say investigators, he may soon strike again.

RICHARD GARCIA, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: The way the body was found, the fact that it was not buried, not hidden and such and how it was left, is also almost like a calling card, like a challenge. I'm here and I'm coming back again.

BUCKLEY: Near Samantha's family home, members of a heartbroken community came to a makeshift memorial to pay respects and to pray that the suspect is captured before he can victimize again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't stand the thought of it happening to another child.

MIKE WILKINSON, RUNNION NEIGHBOR: It certainly makes me wonder what's wrong with our society when a little 5-yard girl can't play outside of her house.

BUCKLEY: The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, 25 to 40 years old, with slicked back black hair and a moustache. He may be driving a light green Honda or Acura. The physical description coming from Samantha's 5-year-old playmate, a superficial view of a man investigators believe to be a serial rapist, one for whom they have a message.

CARONA: Don't sleep, don't eat because we're coming after you.

BUCKLEY (on camera): Investigators are convinced they will capture this suspect. They have physical evidence. They believe they know what he looks like and how he thinks. Their hope that they have enough to capture him before he has a chance to harm again.

Frank Buckley, CNN, Stanton, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHUNG: For the latest on the hunt for Samantha Runnion's killer, we go to Stanton, California, where we're joined by Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona and FBI special agent Richard Garcia, who is overseeing the FBI's investigation of this case. Thank you, gentlemen, for being us with us.

CARONA: Thank you, Connie.

GARCIA: Thank you.

CHUNG: Sheriff Carona, I would like to start with you. Is there anything new in the investigation?

CARONA: Well, there is quite a bit of new information. First of all, we have found the body of Samantha Runnion. Based upon where we found the body and an examination of the body, we have a tremendous a forensic evidence that we're examining currently which we believe is going to help us find her killer.

CHUNG: Sheriff, do you know more about the cause of death?

CARONA: We do. Samantha was killed by asphyxiation. The date of death was Tuesday, July the 16th. But we're not releasing the time of death because that's an integral part of our investigation as well as an integral part of the prosecution once we catch this individual.

CHUNG: Are there any signs that she fought her attacker?

CARONA: Connie, I can tell you that we're examining a tremendous amount of information right now and, unfortunately, I can't give you the details behind what we've picked up at the scene.

CHUNG: All right. There is just one thing I did want to follow up on regarding some of the newer information that you have. Do you have any indication that she was alive for a period of time or that perhaps she was killed early on?

CARONA: We know, based upon what we have at the crime scene, that Samantha was with her killer for several hours before he, in fact, killed her.

CHUNG: All right. Agent Garcia, you said something that was so interesting at the news conference. You said that the killer had left a calling card. Can you explain that?

GARCIA: Yes, ma'am. What I meant by left a calling card, the evidence that we have from the interviews from how the child was abducted, what we see at the crime scene, how the child was positioned, et cetera, and which is the only details we can provide anybody at this time, was given to our profilers.

Our profilers are basically saying that because of the fact the child was not buried, it was open air, it was almost an invitation to help locate the child quickly, and for that person who did this crime to -- come find me.

CHUNG: And how do you know, or what reason do you have to believe that the kidnapper is a serial rapist and a serial killer?

GARCIA: Well, based on the information that we have from the investigation, the profilers are believing that this person has, in fact, committed sexual assaults in the past. Whether or not this individual can be classified as a serial rapist or a serial killer, still we're looking into all of the evidence for that particular information. We know this for a fact: Samantha is dead, and Samantha was killed by this individual. Whether or not this is the first person that this child has been killed by or not, we don't know. CHUNG: And just to clarify one thing that you said. You do believe that he has committed sexual assault on children before? And if you do, how do you know that?

GARCIA: Based on past experiences, the profiler says that the total of the evidence they have viewed so far and everything that they have looked at indicates that this person has had a history of this type of assaults in the past. They do not have enough information right now to say that this person has killed in past, but we know that this person has killed someone now.

CHUNG: Sheriff Carona, do you have any reason to believe that the killer is in California, in southern California?

CARONA: Connie, one of the things that has been very helpful, the media has gotten the information out very quickly to the public. We have a number of leads from the public, and we're exploring all those leads. We don't know if he's in California or some place else in our nation. But I can guarantee you that we're going to find him and bring him to justice.

CHUNG: You did warn some other parents in the neighborhood where Samantha was taken. I'm wondering about the little girl who was -- the 5-year-old witness. You have her under police protection. Do you have any reason to believe that the killer would come back and attack her or anyone else in the neighborhood?

CARONA: Well, we have Sara (ph) under protection more because of the media attention that this case has received. It tends to scare and confuse a 5-year-old because she is a 5-year-old witness and very valuable to us. We're trying to work with her and her parents to make sure that she's not overwhelmed.

In terms of whether or not this person would come back into this community, we believe based upon the profile that the FBI has given us, that he has the potential to strike again, whether it's here or or somewhere else. And that's why we put that information out to the public.

CHUNG: Agent Garcia, the sheriff said that there was a tremendous amount of forensic evidence. Can you tell us anything more about that?

GARCIA: I can only say that there is quite a bit of evidence. The sheriff's department's evidence collection team has been working very hard and we really can't comment exactly the specifics of the evidence. There's a lot of it. It's going to take time to go through, and also various tests will take time as well.

CHUNG: All right. Sheriff Carona, you had a difficult time today at the news conference. I think everyone was touched by the fact that you became emotional because you're a father and, of course, you're the one who needs to impart information to the family. I'm wondering, you know, all of us who are parents, want to warn our kids, but we also don't want to scare them. What's your best advice? CARONA: You know, Connie, it's the same advice we've been telling our children for years and years and years, and that is you need to stay away from strangers. If strangers contact you and ask you to get into their car or to come with them, you can't go. If a stranger grabs ahold of you and tries to take you some place, you need to yell and scream. And if, in fact, it gets violent, you need to bite, scratch and do whatever you can to prevent going with this stranger.

And if, in fact, you have contact with a stranger as a child, you need to report that to your parents and the parents need to report it to the police. It's an age old warning, but it's no less true today than it was 20 years ago. We don't want people to overreact or to scare children, but clearly we want that message to get out because the result is, unfortunately, what happened to Samantha.

CHUNG: You know, Sheriff, Samantha did talk to her mom about that possibility of a stranger ever coming along. And just before I leave you, I just want to tell you that she had -- Samantha had told her mom that she would get away if a stranger ever came because she could run really fast and was as strong as Hercules. Sheriff Michael Carona, FBI Agent Garcia, thank you so much for being with us.

GARCIA: Thank you.

CARONA: Thank you, Connie.

GARCIA: Good night.

CHUNG: When we come back, what kind of man could have done this to a 5-year-old girl? We'll talk to a criminal profiler.

And later, we'll take you live to the Middle East with an update, another day of bloodshed this time in downtown Tel Aviv, right after this.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, has this case taken an ominous turn?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARONA: This is a serial sexual offender, perhaps a serial killer and, in fact, meets that profile.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: What profilers must do to track down a serial killer when CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: Will the killer of Samantha Runnion strike again? Authorities fear he will. They just don't know when or where, and they may not know who he is. But they do know something about what he is, thanks to the art and science of profiling.

Joining us now with some insights on profiling in this case and in particular is Pat Brown, criminal profiler and CEO of Sexual Homicide Exchange, a nonprofit organization that specializes in profiling abductors. She join us from Washington. Thank you, Pat Brown, for being with us.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: No problem.

CHUNG: Tell me, what do you know about this man? What can you tell us about him?

BROWN: Well, we've got a very frightening individual on our hands. We have someone who has already crossed a very large line, and that's a line to actually abduct and kill someone. And, therefore, you know, people are saying is he a serial killer? I say, yes, he is, even if he hasn't actually produced a second killing, he is someone who would likely do it in the future. And I say let's call him one now.

CHUNG: But, how do you know that?

BROWN: Well, you simply just -- this not a small crime. This is not the type of crime where he's working his way up to something. He's not just exposing himself. He's not just touching somebody. He's already worked his way to actually planning an entire abduction and killing someone and throwing the poor little girl's body out naked for all to see. So this is a guy who has really leaped across the line, something he's really enjoying. He's getting his kicks out of it, and this is a very dangerous individual who isn't going to find any kind of amusement particularly in the smaller things, shall we say, of life.

CHUNG: Is it your sense that he knew Samantha or that he was a stranger?

BROWN: My sense is that he was a stranger. These guys basically troll neighborhoods. They're always on the lookout. This is a hobby for them. If they haven't done it before, they're just building up to it and they're going through scenarios in their heads and they're making their plans. And they're waiting for the opportune moment. And this is why it's very hard to tell your kids how you can fight and run away because these guys will always find a child, and it's often when no one else is looking. So, it's very hard for these children to fight and run away. And Samantha did try. But he knew he could get away with it, and he grabbed her and he did indeed actually commit -- was able to commit the crime. So, he did get away with it.

CHUNG: Was it a split-second decision for him, because there was a playmate was right there, and she didn't respond whereas Samantha did respond to the question, can you hope me find my dog?

BROWN: Well, he's looking -- he's practicing. He may have practiced this before on other children and he may just have had -- as that moment happened, he decided this is the one and he just went with his feelings and took his chances.

CHUNG: Tell me, do you think authorities will be able to find this man? BROWN: Well, serial killers tend to get away with their crimes for quite a long time, and some of them are never caught. A great many of them actually are never caught. And that's one of the problems that we don't approach this problem with serial killing quite seriously enough.

These guys do get away with it because they feel they're not going to be found. Most of the time they do it where no one can identify them. This is a little bit unusual. But he's just assuming the girl won't be able to identify him well enough, actually, you know, because when, you know, you put together a composite, you're oftentimes looking at almost half the people on your block who fit that particular composite. But he's assuming he'll simply get away it.

CHUNG: There are so many high-profile cases right now, you know, it scares me to death. I'm so worried as a parent and I'm sure anybody else who is a parent is. But we checked, and as awful, as high as this number sounds, we're told that there are 200 or 300 a year, but there's no increase. I mean, I had the impression that there is an increase. Is that what you know to be true?

BROWN: Well, Connie, I think your impression is right. I think these statistics are a little bit on the low side. And the reason they probably are on the low side is because there are other cases that are sort of like undecided. Sometimes they'll be labeled even. We'll say, well, we assume that may be a 14-year-old boyfriend grabbed her and that's who killed her, or maybe it was the drug deal gone bad. So, we have a lot of serial killings that simply go unlabeled, and, therefore, I think we have a lot more of these kind of things than we actually suspect.

CHUNG: All right. Pat Brown, thank you so much for being with us.

BROWN: You're welcome.

CHUNG: Still ahead, we'll take you to Tel Aviv for the latest in another day of deadly suicide bombings.

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead, is Jeremy Morse too tough for the job? We hear from the people who know him best. CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: By now we've all seen the videotape again and again: 16- year-old Donovan Jackson, apparently not resisting, appearing nonviolent, manhandled by police officers in Inglewood, California. He's slammed onto a police car and punched in the face by Officer Jeremy Morse.

But for all of the times we've seen those images, we have not yet heard something extremely critical, and that's Morse's side of the story. Morse, suspend with the pay and the subject of several investigations has not been talking. But tonight for the first time we're going to hear Jeremy Morse's his side.

We are joined now from Portland, Oregon, by two of his close friends, Don Rome and Matt Fiocchi.

Gentlemen, thanks so much for being with us tonight.

MATT FIOCCHI, FRIEND OF JEREMY MORSE: Hey, how are you doing?

CHUNG: Good.

Tell me Don, how well do you know -- how well do you know Jeremy, and how long you have known him?

DON ROME, FRIEND OF JEREMY MORSE: Well Jeremy and I, we went back to high school together. We were -- I'd say we were pretty close all the time. He always hanged (sic) out together. We had this thing called Campus Life (ph). We always just -- just were always together, you know, like just brothers all the time.

CHUNG: And you stayed in touch with him?

ROME: Yes, I try to keep in touch with him as much as possible.

There was some time that, you know, we lost touch after I got married, I probably hadn't talked to him between a year-and-a-half, between then.

CHUNG: And Matt, how well do you know Jeremy, and how long you have know him?

FIOCCHI: I've known Jeremy for a long time, over 10 years. I went down to L.A. and lived with him. I got to see him grow up. I got to, you know, grew up with him. We spent a lot of time together, working together, living together, hanging out together, going to the river together...

CHUNG: Still best friends today?

FIOCCHI: Yes, I call him all the time, he calls me. Like just today -- oh, no, it was yesterday.

CHUNG: All right, well tell me -- tell me about the conversation that you had with him. Did he talk to you about the incident?

FIOCCHI: You know, he kind of-- I asked him to leave it vague because I don't know what happens. You know, he's still kind of new to this. And I don't want my friend to get hurt. This is a huge -- I don't actually want to do interviews.

But he's scared, you know. At first he was just worried about losing his job. But now he's like, he hates the fact that people are threatening his family and doing all things that, you know, are just for no reason. This kid's not -- Jeremy is not racist at all. He's a great guy that everybody would love if you got to meet him.

But I don't understand where they got the racist card with Jeremy. I mean, he hasn't done anything to provoke that. Maybe they just need to get to know him like we know him, or anybody who's met him.

CHUNG: Don, would you address that racist question as well?

ROME: Connie, that's probably the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. I mean, if you truly know Jeremy, the way he is, I mean, I'm sorry, that's just stupid. That's the dumbest thing.

You know, and I can understand the way it can be -- I can understand the way it can be fueled because, maybe with the Rodney King and this other thing that's going on. But if you truly know Jeremy as a person, you just really find out it's just the most ridiculous thing you ever heard.

CHUNG: All right, I'm sure you've seen the videotape again and again and again. But tell me, is that -- and you know on the surface what it looks like -- is that the best friend that you know?

FIOCCHI: Yes. It's the friend that I know that at one time he...

CHUNG: You know, but what I'm asking is, as you look at the videotape that was shot, all right, of that particular incident, he appears quite violent, wouldn't you agree?

But tell me, is that the person that you know?

FIOCCHI: Yes, absolutely, positively. I know that guy. I've seen that guy.

I mean, that's how he looks when you're working out, you know. You've got to use your muscles right there. I mean, you don't make a real nice face when you lift weights up off of you, you know. You've got to -- it's strenuous.

It had already happened -- an attack had already happened, they held him down, all that stuff. And he had to pick that guy up. He was supposed to put his feet down, but he never did, he just went limp. But that's why he hit so hard.

CHUNG: Well Matt, do you think that he appeared to be violent -- overly violent against this teenager?

FIOCCHI: Jeremy appeared to be violent?

CHUNG: Yes.

FIOCCHI: It may come across as that, but I believe that that's just something that comes along with what you're doing when you're dealing with a criminal.

I mean, he's already attacked a police officer before then, and now you've got to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

And that's why he won't let go of him even when he has to hit him, because he doesn't want to be around -- he just -- he doesn't want to let go of the situation to further -- for it to get worse. He doesn't want to infect the situation with the rest of his police officers.

ROME: Matt, I don't know how they handle it. I don't know how, like, police handle situations like that. But me, just getting out of basic training, we were known -- we were told, we need to -- if you're apprehending somebody and if they're a threat or a danger to you, you need to handle that in a manly way, so they'll know that, you know, who's who.

You know, and like I said, I don't know, you know, the procedures on doing that, you know, when you apprehend somebody, so...

CHUNG: All right. Matt, let me ask you one other question. He -- Jeremy said in his police report that he was grabbed in the groin, and that's why he punched the teenager in the face.

Is it likely that he could have lost his cool if, indeed, he was grabbed?

FIOCCHI: No. When you're grabbed like that -- some people say, you know, maybe he should have handled it a different way. But I don't know if I'd let go of this guy who's able to grab my crouch. Would you really let go of him to push him away, or would you just fight back right then, you know, just make sure the situation is taken care of?

You don't want to just like slide your hand down there and pull it off because you don't know if he's going to keep on holding on. That's a bad situation. I've never been put in that situation. I think that he handled it the best way he possibly should have.

And that's what they're supposed to do. They think right at that minute. He's in life and death situations all the time. And so that, you know, to him was a situation -- a bad situation. I mean, you know, he wants to have a family, so it's a very difficult situation for him, and so...

CHUNG: Don, have you ever seen him violent? Have you ever seen him lash out at anyone physically?

ROME: Never; never. I've never seen him do anything. I've seen him break up fights at school. I've seen him -- the Jeremy I know is just humble. I've never seen him lose his temper one time. He's always been a cool and nonchalant kind of person.

CHUNG: All right, let me -- I'm going to show you a newspaper report which basically says that Jeremy Morse has been accused of six other incidents of misconduct.

Do you believe that this is actually possible that your friend, who you say is not violent, could be accused of six other incidents? FIOCCHI: No, we would have seen it before now. The situations that he has taken care of, even without being a police officer, he would have been violent in those.

You know, a person doesn't change overnight. I just talked to him the day before, and he was still the same person as he was when I lived with him about a year ago.

And he hasn't changed since. He's a guy who can take care of the situation at hand in a calm, measurable way.

CHUNG: Don, I know that he wanted to be a police officer. He dreamed of it ever since he was a kid, isn't that right?

ROME: Yes.

CHUNG: And he joined the Inglewood Police Department quite early on as a cadet, right out of high school.

ROME: Yes.

CHUNG: Is this something that he fears he will lose in terms of his career as a police officer?

ROME: Oh definitely; definitely. I mean, that's something -- like you said, he's been dreaming about since he was a child, since he was a kid.

And I used to say, man -- I told him he was crazy the first time he told me. And I told him I still thought he was crazy.

But he wanted to do it. He has passion to do it. And for him just to even be caught in this situation, it's unreal.

CHUNG: All right, I just want to go over one more point, because we were talking about it earlier. As you look at that videotape that you've seen again and again and again, I asked you if that is your best friend. And, of course, what you're doing is identifying him as your best friend.

But it doesn't appear to you to be on the excessive force side, as opposed to appropriate force?

ROME: Me? Are you talking to me?

CHUNG: Yes Don.

ROME: I think it's appropriate. You know, like I said, I don't know really -- I mean, because the situation at hand is just -- it was a pretty awkward situation to be in, you know. And I see it as appropriate to me.

CHUNG: All right. And Matt, can you understand why some people might believe that, indeed, it was not appropriate? That it was a little too rough? FIOCCHI: I understand that people aren't getting the whole story, you know? There's more to it. I understand that people haven't read the police reports, and I understand that. And if you're misinformed then, yes, it looks inappropriate.

But you need to be informed, and that's what we're trying to get out. We're trying to get out that this guy is, you know, not a racist. And you're not going to find that. If you do, it's ludicrous, somebody is lying to you. And there's way too many good people that can have his back to tell you that he's not that person, and he's a good police officer.

ROME: I think America is getting a little racist hungry. Some people in America are getting racist hungry. We're looking for a reason to be racist. When there's just -- there's no reason not in this case, there's no reason to be racist.

CHUNG: I couldn't agree with you more, that there's a lot of negativity out there. And if we can get rid of it, we'd be a lot better off.

ROME: Amen.

CHUNG: Don Rome, thank you so much. And Matt Fiocchi, thank you for being with us. And we hope that your friend will be able to deal with this appropriately.

ROME: Yes.

CHUNG: All right, thank you so much.

FIOCCHI: Hey, thanks a lot.

ROME: Bye, Connie.

FIOCCHI: Bye, Connie.

CHUNG: We will go live to Israel for the latest developments in tonight's deadly terrorist attack, two suicide bombings, that and more coming up.

ANNOUNCER: Still to come, she once ruled as queen of the court. Now is she anti-American? Connie goes one on one with Martina Navratilova. CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: Tonight, a tennis superstar who's recently sparked some controversy. But did Martina Navratilova really say what they claim she said? She's here and she's angry about the volleys critics are lobbing her way. But then, she's no stranger to controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): A tennis legend, a hall of famer, a headline maker, 56 Grand Slam titles, 167 career singles titles. For almost three decades, the queen of the court.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA, HALL OF FAME TENNIS PLAYER: Even though I got started late in my total commitment to tennis, once I figured it out, I stayed with it and gave everything I had to the game.

CHUNG: And what a game. Amazing power and cunning skill. American fans were transfixed by the stories of her defection from Czechoslovakia and her longstanding rivalry with Chris Evert.

But that success meant living her personal life on center court. Her admission of being a homosexual and a very painful palimony suit with her long time companion Judy Nelson. Even years later, after she retired from singles tennis in 1994, the spotlight continued to shine on the always outspoken Martina. She fought for the rights of homosexuals and she demanded that women receive equal pay on the courts, and criticized overbearing tennis parents.

NAVRATILOVA: If Richard Williams had danced in front of me after I had lost to one of his daughters in a match, I probably would have hit him.

CHUNG: Always trying to protect the game she helped make great. But it's not the game that's now getting Navratilova in the news again. The very personal admission to a paper that she wants to adopt a child and some very damaging quotes in German newspaper allegedly made by the tennis phenom.

Some describe her comments as anti-American and unpatriotic. All of this has pitted Navratilova against the country that has given her so much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHUNG: We wanted to ask her about the controversy, so we asked the tennis legend and now TNT tennis analyst to join us tonight, and she agreed. Welcome, Martina. It's so good to see you.

NAVRATILOVA: Thank you very much. Nice to be here.

CHUNG: All right. I'm going to read what was said, a quote from that German newspaper. Quote: "The most absurd part of my escape from the unjust system is that I have exchanged one system that suppresses free opinion for another. The Republicans in the U.S. manipulate public opinion and sweep controversial issues under the table. It's depressing. Decisions in America are based solely on the question of how much money will come out of it and not on the questions of how much health, morals or environment suffer as a result."

So, is that accurate?

NAVRATILOVA: Well, that's pretty accurate. I mean, I was talking about the Bush administration making a lot of environmental decisions, again, based on money pandering to the people that perhaps help put Bush in the office. I was talking about a particular amendment that I know about. There was a vote that was about education. It was a good bill. And then they try to sneak in that Alaska Wildlife Refuge drilling. It's like, by the way, we're going to drill but we don't really need to know that we're going to do it.

CHUNG: All right. So, all of these things are things that you are passionate about?

NAVRATILOVA: Absolutely. And I think, you know -- and also what I said was that I wish people would make their decisions based on their hearts, not on their wallets. Now, the translation, keep in mind that I said this in English, then it's translated into German and then it's translated back into English again. And one of the translations that I got that was in a English newspaper said that I wish people would make their decisions based on their hearts, not on their diaries, OK. So, this is -- some of it gets lost in the translations. A lot of this stuff gets lost in the translation.

CHUNG: But what about that one key sentence, I think, "the most absurd part of my escape from the unjust system is that I've changed one system that suppresses free opinion for another?" You're trading one regime for another. I mean, that's I think one of the main quotes that raised so much ire.

NAVRATILOVA: Well, obviously, I'm not saying this is a communist system, but I think we're having -- after 9/11, there's a big centralization of power. President Bush is having more and more power. John Ashcroft is having more and more power. Americans are losing their personal rights left and right. I mean, the ACLU is up in arms about all of the stuff that's going on right now.

CHUNG: So you were or weren't misquoted in that particular -- you know, regarding that particular sentence of trading one regime for another?

NAVRATILOVA: I don't think I said it exactly in that context. I certainly didn't mean that I'm here in a communist country and that I can't be what I want to be. However, when it comes to personal freedom as a lesbian, I am getting more squished here than I would be in Europe or in...

CHUNG: In Czechoslovakia.

NAVRATILOVA: Well, Czechoslovakia, in a communist country, they sent you into the asylum. This is a whole different story.

CHUNG: Can I be honest with you? I can tell you that when I read this, I have to tell you that I thought it was un-American, unpatriotic. I wanted to say, go back to Czechoslovakia. You know, if you don't like it here, this a country that gave you so much, gave you the freedom to do what you want.

NAVRATILOVA: And I'm giving it back. This is why I speak out. When I see something that I don't like, I'm going to speak out because you can do that here. And again, I feel there are too many things happening that are taking our rights away.

CHUNG: But you know what? I think it is, OK, if you believe that, you know, then go ahead and think that at home. But why do you have to spill it out? You know, why do you have to talk about it as a celebrity so that people will write it down and talk about what you said?

NAVRATILOVA: I think athletes have a duty to speak out when there is something that's not right, when they feel that perhaps social issues are not being paid attention to. As a woman, as a lesbian, as a woman athlete, there is a whole bunch of barriers that I've had to jump over, and we shouldn't have to be jumping over them any more.

CHUNG: Got you. But sometimes, when you hear celebrities saying something, do you ever say to yourself, I don't care what so and so thinks, you know. Yes, go ahead and say whatever you want to say. But you're not a politician. You're not in a position of government power or whatever.

NAVRATILOVA: No. And I just might do that. I may run for office one of these days and really do make a difference. But...

CHUNG: Are you kidding me?

NAVRATILOVA: No, I'm not. One of these days, hopefully. But when you say go back to Czech Republic, why are you sending me back there? I live here. I love this country. I've lived here 27 years. I've paid taxes here for 27 years. Do I not have a right to speak out? Why is that unpatriotic?

CHUNG: Well, you know the old line, love it or leave it.

NAVRATILOVA: I love it and I'm here and I'm trying to do my best to make it a better place to live in, not just this country, but the whole world. And, you know, I'm doing my little part. And I'm just a tennis player.

CHUNG: All right. Let's go on to another subject. And it's a subject that's very near and dear to my heart because we adopted. You had indicated that you were thinking of adopting. But you were talking about it for a long time. But just recently, you talked about adoption and, you know, it was all over -- it was headlines again.

NAVRATILOVA: Right. Well, I think I'm making headlines more now because I played singles in one tournament. I've been playing more tennis. And so I'm more in the public eye.

CHUNG: After a seven-year...

NAVRATILOVA: But after seven years of not playing singles, but I just played this one little tournament. But I've been talking about perhaps adopting for 20 years. And all of a sudden, it became news, and it's now again the quote was changed. I said, one day I might adopt. I would like to adopt. And out of that comes I'm adopting right now.

And I'm getting kids writing to me, they want to be adopted by me because they don't like their parents. I'm getting adoption agencies telling me, yes, we get a newborn for you right away. I'm having surrogate mothers calling me saying they're ready to bear my child, whatever. I'm like, whoa. And, you know, that really made me realize these poor kid or kids would be under so much scrutiny that I don't really want to do this.

CHUNG: Oh, no.

NAVRATILOVA: Yes. No, I think I can...

CHUNG: You mean that has caused you to say you're not going...

NAVRATILOVA: I think it's really made me rethink the whole thing. I think it would be better that I help kids along the way as I have done over the years. I had (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in that youth foundation that helped underprivileged children, et cetera, et cetera.

I think I would rather just do my work from a distance and spend time with my friends' and family's kids. My sister has a baby, you know, and take care of my animals and take care of the environment and help from a distance. But what I would have to go through with this kid to protect him or her from the media scrutiny as Rosie O'Donnell has to do, Jodie Foster, I mean, these women, you know, have to go to the earth's lengths to protect these kids from that kind of scrutiny. So, I don't really know.

CHUNG: Forgive me. You mentioned Jodie Foster, but forgive me, I'm not aware that she has...

NAVRATILOVA: Well, single mothers. I'm talking about single mothers. I'm not talking about just lesbians.

CHUNG: OK. So you honestly think you're not going to adopt? I mean, you know, that breaks my heart because I think that, you know, because adoption is wonderful. We wouldn't have our son if we didn't adopt.

NAVRATILOVA: Absolutely it is, but I'm rethinking it. And I'm certainly -- if I ever do do it, I'm not going to say it to anybody because, you know, private life is private and it needs to be kept that way.

CHUNG: All right. Well, if you call me, I appreciate it anyway, just to tell me privately, because I'd be happy for you.

NAVRATILOVA: Thank you.

CHUNG: Thank you so much, Martina. Appreciate it.

NAVRATILOVA: All right. Thank you.

CHUNG: When we come back, a live update on the extraordinary events that are still unfolding in the Middle East, in southern Tel Aviv after the city was rocked by two deadly suicide bombings. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANNOUNCER: What happened to Olympic Gold Gymnast Nadia Comaneci after her 1989 defection to America? Comaneci today lives in Norman, Oklahoma with her husband, American Olympic star gymnast Bart Connor.

Together they run a variety of successful businesses related to gymnastics, and last year, Comaneci became a citizen of the United States of America.

CHUNG: Before we go, a quick update from Tel Aviv, where dawn is still a couple of hours away at the scene of the suicide bombings just a few hours ago. The bombs killed three bystanders and injured more than 40 others, many of whom are in critical condition.

The bombers detonated their explosives just moments apart in an area that's home to many immigrants, some of whom have replaced Palestinians who are now barred from working in Israel. CNN's John Vause has been on the story all night. John, this was two separate suicide bombers, correct?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Connie. Not unusual in this part of the world. There have been double suicide bomb attacks before.

This one, though, in this mall, not unusual. There was a suicide bomb at the end of this mall in January, a single suicide bomb at that stage, but it was right here where the suicide bombers walked into this open air mall. There were people sitting at these tables. It's a warm night here in Tel Aviv. They're enjoying a drink with friends. The first bomb detonated about here, the second not far away, just a few feet over there, virtually simultaneously.

We're told by witnesses and by police that the first bomb was smaller in power, the second one much more -- much more powerful. Both, though, sprayed this area with small pieces of shrapnel as well as nails, killing those three people that you mentioned, and wounding more than 40 others, Connie.

CHUNG: John, who has claimed responsibility?

VAUSE: There has been a claim of responsibility on Hezbollah television in Lebanon. Islamic Jihad have actually claimed responsibility for this latest attack. However, police are not taking that seriously, certainly not at this stage.

Often there can be one, two, three claims of responsibility, and that is done as a deliberate ploy, say police, to confuse investigators as they try and track down the people responsible for these terrorist attacks.

CHUNG: And has Israel responded?

VAUSE: No response yet from Israel. However, obviously, their forces still remain in seven of the eight Palestinian towns on the West Bank. Palestinians remain under curfew tonight. Those forces, as part of operation Determined Path, are still there. We're now waiting to find out what the Israeli government response will be. As you mentioned in the lead to this item, it is still early here, only 4:00 a.m. in the morning. As the day develops, no doubt we will hear from the Israeli government exactly what their response is.

CHUNG: And John, I have to ask you -- you've covered so many of these suicide bombings -- what do you think and what do you feel when you have to go and cover yet another one?

VAUSE: It makes you feel physically ill to come to these places. I was at a suicide -- oh, no, an attack, rather, yesterday on the outskirts of the settlement of Emanuel, where eight people were killed and more than 20 injured. Here three people killed. I was in Netanya where almost 30 people were killed, and to come to places like this, there's a smell, there's chaos, there is confusion.

To look around you now, it looks perfectly normal. Sadly the Israelis have become very accustomed, very skilled at cleaning up these areas. This place was cleaned up in just a matter of hours, and that still amazes me today -- Connie.

CHUNG: All right. CNN's John Vause. Thank you very much. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: Tomorrow, do you trust your landlord? We'll talk to a woman who says her landlord spied on her with a video camera. To get a preview of our program every day, sign up for our daily e-mail by logging on to cnn.com/connie.

And coming up next on "LARRY KING LIVE," the latest on the hunt for the killer of Samantha Runnion.

Thank you for joining us and for all of us, good night and see you tomorrow.

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