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Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim Pilgrims Revive Tradition Banned Under Iron Fist of Saddam Hussein, Call for U.S. to Leave Iraq

Aired April 22, 2003 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims revive a tradition banned under the iron fist of Saddam Hussein.

Grateful for their newfound religious freedom, many pilgrims are now calling for the U.S. is to leave Iraq and for the formation of a new Islamic state. Could Iraq become the next Iran?

Nuclear threat. The U.S. and North Korea head to China for talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons is a matter of great concern to the entire international community.

ANNOUNCER: Can this meeting bring stability to the Korean Peninsula and calm the world's nuclear fears?

And Senator Rick Santorum stirs a firestorm with gay rights groups by comparing homosexuality to polygamy, incest and adultery. Is this powerful Republican leader talking himself into the same fate as Trent Lott?

LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES with Paula Zahn in New York.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening and welcome. This is Tuesday, April 22. From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, I am Paula Zahn.

Also coming up tonight: three flags, two years and one very controversial vote. The Georgia Senate deciding today whether to revive a flag that prominently features the Confederate battle emblem. We're live in Atlanta with both sides of the story.

Also ahead, the spread of the SARS virus. More than 200 people are dead. Thousands are sick. Tonight hear from the head of the Centers for Disease Control about what's being done to contain the sickness.

Those stories and more straight ahead. But first we begin in Iraq tonight with a celebration of freedom and religious fervor. It is also a celebration that is quickly becoming political, to the point where you hear cries of death to America.

It is happening south of Baghdad in Karbala, where an estimated one million members of Iraq's long repressed Shi'ite Muslim community have gathered.

Karl Penhaul has the latest from there. Good evening, Karl.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good -- good very early morning to you, Paula.

It's about 3:00 in the morning here in the holy city of Karbala south of Baghdad. There are pilgrims still milling around. Throughout the day yesterday, throughout the previous night, tens and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were streaming into this city to pay -- to pay to one of the shrines, the main Shi'ite Muslim martyrs.

Now as you say this has been a religious celebration in many senses because the Shi'ite Muslims under Saddam Hussein weren't permitted to march here, weren't permitted to walk here in this fashion and this time they really have been celebrating. Some of the people have been walking days to get here. They've been walking many miles from one end of the country to another. Some have been crawling on their hands and knee, some have been beating themselves on the their -- on their backs with metal chains in signs of penance. But the common thread here is that these people seem to be delighted that they're rid of Saddam Hussein and that they can carry out this religious practices now in freedom.

But indeed there has been a political overtone to what we're seeing now. The -- the people have been telling us that they've also have been chanting and showing placards saying, "Thank you to the coalition forces for helping get rid of Saddam Hussein," but now they regard the coalition forces' work as having been done and they're saying, "Please go, coalition forces." We don't want the presence of any more U.S. or British troops here and they're saying they want to be able to determine their political life in peace.

Now, as you say, there have been chants through the day, partially through the day of "Death to America." The previous day, the chant was, "No to American, no to Israel." That said, at this stage we are not seeing any antagonism, any real antagonism towards the coalition forces. It's merely a question of them saying that they want the coalition forces to go and respect the Iraqi's own political future -- Paula.

ZAHN: Karl Penhaul, thanks so much for that update from Karbala tonight.

In other Iraq news today, the retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who is running the country until a new government is formed received a warm welcome on a visit to northern Iraq. Twelve years ago, Jay Garner, the man in the tan jacket who you'll see here shortly, led a mission that protected the Kurds from Saddam Hussein. Well today he met with Kurdish political leaders.

Also in northern Iraqi, the U.S. Army today occupied Mosul, Iraq's third largest city. Until now, Marines had occupied portions of Mosul and had come into conflict with its rival ethnic groups.

Also today, chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix made his case for grater United Nations involvement in the hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Blix says the U.N. bears the imprint of independence and will bring credibility to the weapons hunt.

Now the rebuilding of Iraq is beginning to stir up a political debate here at home. Today criticism came from a surprising corner, the Republican former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich blasting the State Department for what he calls diplomatic failures on Iraq.

Let's go straight to David Ensor who joins us from Washington tonight with the details. Hi, David.


Well, what some in Washington are asking tonight is whether Mr. Gingrich was speaking just for himself or whether perhaps he may have been speaking also for some inside the Bush administration.


ENSOR (voice-over): It was a broadside against Colin Powell and his State Department from a well known conservative with ties to the Pentagon.

NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER: The State Department remained ineffective and incoherent.

ENSOR: There was sharp criticism on Iraq from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a member of the Pentagon Defense Policy Advisory Board. Powell, he said, should not be planning to reward Syria with a visit.

GINGRICH: The concept of the American Secretary of State going to Damascus to meet with a terrorist-supporting secret police-wielding dictator is ludicrous.

ENSOR: But Powell is going to Damascus, his defenders responded, because the boss told him to.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, Secretary Powell will be going to visit with the Syrians.

GINGRICH: The State Department invention of a quartet for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations defies everything the United States has learned about France, Russia and the United Nations.

ENSOR: But again, say Powell defenders, you may not like the idea of including Russia, Europe and the U.N. in a quartet on the Middle East with the U.S., but the president does.

ROBERT OAKLEY, FMR. U.S, DIPLOMAT: To accuse Powell of being disloyal to the president or freelancing is just totally outrageous.

ENSOR: Gingrich also said the State Department has been dragging its feet on fixing the roads in Afghanistan and should not be trusted to rebuild Iraq.

GINGRICH: As of two weeks ago not one mile of road had been paved in Afghanistan.

BOUCHER: Everybody knows you can't pave roads in Afghanistan. You can't put down asphalt in Afghanistan in the wintertime.

GINGRICH: Is the former speaker speaking for others in the administration? Perhaps for conservatives at the Pentagon with his criticisms of Powell and his department?

Not for the president, said the spokesman.

FLEISCHER: Secretary Powell is a able, able diplomat.


ENSOR: With Gingrich taking return fire, those who might be expected to agree with him at the Pentagon and elsewhere in this town took cover today. But with the U.S. facing tough diplomatic challenges on Iraq and other matters, watch out for some more policy skirmishes yet to come -- Paula.

ZAHN: And then David, I guess yet there's another take on this tonight with aides to the secretary of state suggesting this is not an attack on him, but in fact on the president?

ENSOR: Well they're suggesting that since these decisions, many of them that were described by Mr. Gingrich were in fact made by the president, it should be seen as criticism of the president's policies which, of course, is not a wise thing for a Republican to make and I don't think it's what Mr. Gingrich intended. But there you have it. It's a bit of a -- it's a bit of a -- of a dispute -- Paula.

ZAHN: Yes, a little bit for everybody to -- to chew on there. David Ensor, thanks so much.

It is already early morning in Beijing, China where highly important talks are set to begin. U.S. and Chinese diplomats will sit down with the North Koreans hoping to resolve a standoff over that country's suspected nuclear weapons program.

State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel now joins us with the latest of what is at stake here. Good evening, Andrea.


Well in the last six months, since U.S. and North Korean officials last met in North Korea, the North Koreans have withdrawn from a nuclear nonproliferation treaty, they have given international weapons inspectors the boot, they have restarted a nuclear reactor and threatened to start reprocessing up to 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods, which experts say if that were to begin, they could have as many as a bomb a month for the next six months. And the purpose of these talks in Beijing is to prevent that from happening.


KOPPEL (voice-over): Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly arrived in Beijing, hoping to ease tensions, but not expecting much. U.S. officials say Kelly will tell North Korea it must give up its nuclear program and allow weapons inspectors back into the country.

BOUCHER: The purpose of these talks is to get started, for us to be able to layout the need for verifiable and irreversible end to North Korea's nuclear programs.

KOPPEL: Although billed as a multilateral meeting, besides Kelly and his North Korean counter part, only a senior Chinese official will participate leaving neighbors, South Korea and Japan on the sidelines. Last night Kelly tried to reassure these allies they will be included in future meetings.

JON WOLFSTAL, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR PEACE: The Bush administration has to try and walk a fine line of engaging North Korea in three-party talks, and they're pushing very quickly to have the other countries included.

KOPPEL: But the Bush administration is not of one mind on its Korea policy, while Secretary Of state Powell favors engagement, Pentagon officials say Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a recent memo suggested the U.S. should team up with China to topple the current North Korean regime. Another U.S. official says Rumsfeld also recommended replacing Kelly with Under Secretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton, who like Rumsfeld, favors getting tougher with Pyongyang.


Until now the Bush administration's policy has been to try to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions while offering the prospect not only of economic assistance, but also of diplomatic recognition and other perks that go along with that.

But, Paula, considering just how close the talks came to being derailed last week, over a mistranslated North Korean statement it doesn't appear that a deal will be likely any time soon -- Paula.

ZAHN: All right. Andrea Koppel, thanks so much.

We're going to move on to some of the other stories in the headlines in America tonight.

Powder scares: hazmat officials in two different states trying to identify the white powder found at a mail facility in Tacoma Washington, and in a shipping container in a Fort Myers, Florida airport. Preliminary tests show the powder is harmless. Workers came in contact with the powder are not showing signs of illness or anthrax exposure.

Collecting evidence, prosecutors in the Laci Peterson case believe the pregnant woman was murdered in her own home, but so far, they say all of the evidence needed to support that theory has not been collected yet. Scott Peterson, Laci's husband pleaded not guilty in the death of his wife and their unburden son. He is being kept away from other inmates because some have made threat against him.

Filing suit, the first lawsuit rising from the Rhode Island nightclub fire has been filed in federal court. The litigation is on behalf of the two of fire's survivors and one of its victims, 98 others died in the February blaze.

Suspended from flight, a pilot with American Eagle Airlines had his wings clipped in Michigan for drinking. Preliminary breathalyzer tests show the blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

Turning to the SARS virus, Americans fly organization driving to Ontario will now get flyers warning of the risk of SARS. Today a team from the CDC headed to Canada to help authorities there stop the illness from spreading among health care workers. Toronto's trying to stave off an outbreak like the one in China, where an additional six SARS deaths were reported today.


DR. JULIE GERBERDING, CDC DIRECTOR: We still have no capacity to predict where it's going or how large it's ultimately going to be. I think the good news is that we do see effective containment in some areas and some measures do seem to be very successful. I think we're also very sobered by the ongoing transmission in parts of the world, including Hong Kong, where very, very appropriate public health steps have been taken and yet, the epidemic is continuing to evolve there.


ZAHN: And we are going to have much more on this epidemic. We will have a special report on SARS in the next hour. So just how wide spread is SARS in the United States and how afraid should we be?

Well, let's check the numbers for some perspective.

The CDC reports 39 probable cases in the U.s., none of which have been fatal. Now on any given day in America, 44 people die from AIDS. Another 109 contract the AIDS virus every single day. Fourteen hundred seventy Americans die daily from cancer, 3,655 contracted cancer today.

All of it a little bit difficult to take, I think. Still to come this evening, a flap over a flag in the south, the state of Georgia and the fight over the Confederate battle emblem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here to oppose house bill 380 which is the flag referendum bill. A choice between two confederate flags or the confederate type flag is no choice for Georgia.


ZAHN: Also tonight, summary executions in Cuba. Fidel Castro and his crackdown on dissidents. And now Castro's being sued by the victims family.


LARRY KLAYMAN, JUDICIAL WATCH: Saddam Hussein first, the Syrians, second, Fidel Castro, you're next.


ZAHN: And than a little bit later on Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum compares homosexuality to bigamy, incest and adultery.

Tonight calls are out for his resignation. That story and a whole lot more as LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES continues.


ZAHN: And welcome back, 15 minutes after the hour here.

Cuba is cracking down on dissidents, dozens jailed in the past few weeks, quick trials, long prison sentences and worse. Well, today a lawsuit was filed over one of the three men who were actually, executed. Havana bureau chief, Lucia Newman, looks at that case and the passions it has inflamed.


LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF: On (UNINTELLIGIBLE) street, where the family of one of the three men executed by a Cuban firing squad 10 days ago live, people are afraid to talk. The same on San Felipe Street where the sister of another of the executed men says she's too upset to speak before the cameras. Her 40-year-old brother, Jorge Luis Martinez Isaac (ph) was executed on charges of terrorism, after unsuccessfully trying to hijack a ferryboat to Florida, an incident in which no one was hurt. But across the Florida straits one of his sisters is taking action. A lawsuit charging President Fidel Castro and his brother, defense minister Raul Castro with wrongful death and crimes against humanity.

YORDANIS MONTOYA ISAAC, SISTER (through translator): I want the rest of the world to know, that is Fidel, that he's nothing more than an assassin.

NEWMAN: Washington-based organization Judicial Watch is filing lawsuits against the Castros on Montoya's behalf.

KLAYMAN: Saddam Hussein first, the Syrians second, Fidel Castro, you're next. NEWMAN: The Castro government says it had no choice arguing it had to set an example to stop a wave of what it calls terrorist hijackings, encouraged by Washington.

"We see the death penalty as an exceptional, unwanted and extreme measure which we hope will one day not exist in our legislations" says Foreign Minister Felipe Perez.

That wasn't good enough for the mother of another of the men executed when we spoke to her only hours after her death.

"I loved Fidel. I loved my country and the revolution and I don't love Fidel anymore, nor my revolution, nor anything, because they executed my son unjustly" says Ramona Copello.

That's not all, over the last month, 75 dissidents have been round up and sentenced, most to more than 20 years in prison for what Havana claims is treason, collaboration with Washington.

(on camera): While the executions and the dissident crackdown took place while most of the world's attention was focused on the war in Iraq, a growing international outcry shows events in Cuba have not gone unnoticed.

Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.


ZAHN: And still to come tonight, getting aid into Iraq. The problems of helping a region that has no government and no sense of order. Rym Brahimi is live from Baghdad at this short break.

Also tonight, a religious sect oppressed for year is now free.

How involved should the U.S. become in the plight of thousands of Iraqi Shi'ites?

You are watching LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES on this Tuesday night.


ZAHN: Hundreds of refugees today were moved into Jordan from a no-man's-land between that country and Iraq. The was has literally been at Jordan's doorstep. Rym Brahimi is in Amman and today she actually talked with the Queen of Jordan about the situation there. Rym, good evening.

RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, to you, Paula. Indeed, a lot of concern here in Jordan, not only among Jordanian people, but also among Jordanian government over how to provide humanitarian aid to Iraq.

Now there have been a lot of problems with that because as you know, Paula, some of the roads that lead to Iraq and to Baghdad are not safe at this moment. When we crossed a few days ago there was still a few trucks from the World Food Program who were stuck west of Baghdad. They didn't dare go in. They'd been shot at and they were waiting for some escort. So there are a lot of questions there.

What Jordan is trying to do is provide help in many forms. One of the things they've been doing is collecting blood donations. They've also sent in a field hospital that they're setting up within the next few days. And of course, one of the main problems is that there is no cohesive government in Iraq at the time being, something that the queen told me was hampering Jordan's efforts to help the Iraqi people.

She also said, however, that as to whatever -- what government Jordan would like to see in Iraq, well, that was up pretty much up to the Iraqi people. Here's how she put it.


QUEEN RANIA, JORDAN: We will accept whatever government the Iraqi people recognizes. They're the ones who have lived under the previous regime. They're the ones who have suffered for 23 years during three wars and for 12 years under economic sanctions. They're the best people who can judge what kind of government they would want.

And, you know, one of the main important elements that need to be established now is establish trust with the Iraqi people. And in order to establish this trust there need to be clear lines of communication with the people to try to give them some of visibility into their future.

Don't forget that the Iraqi people have experienced a massive upheaval. You know, there's a great deal of uncertainty and disarray in the country. They need to be able to know where they're heading.


BRAHIMI: Now the queen also explained that that level of mistrust was not only in Iraq and with the Iraqi people, or rather between the Iraqi people and the U.S. forces that are, of course, seen as occupying forces in Iraq, but also among Arabs in the region as well. I asked her what should the U.S. do? What can the U.S. do to improve that level of trust or to bring about trust in the region?

And the queen said the main thing that the U.S. has to do now is it has to help this road map really move on and help the Palestinians and the Israelis put some form of a peace process back on track. She said that this was extremely important to everybody in the region. To Jordan of course, but also to other people in the region who feel that the United States hasn't done enough with that respect.

And she said that would be something that would eventually help bring stability in the entire region -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Rym Brahimi reporting from Amman tonight.

And still to come this evening, Rick Santorum and his comments about gays. Could the senator's leadership position be in jeopardy? Our Jonathan Karl is live on Capitol Hill. Good evening, Jonathan. JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Senator Santorum in certainly under fire for his remarks in which he compared homosexuality with incest, polygamy and adultery. But although he is being asked to apologize by some, he is standing by his remarks.

ZAHN: Thanks, Jonathan. We'll be checking in with you in a little bit.

Also tonight, does the Confederate emblem belong on the Georgia state flag? Well the answer now depends on the governor. We're going to have that story from Atlanta, but first a look at the closing numbers from Wall Street today. We're back in a moment.



ZAHN: Welcome back. Rick Santorum is a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. He is also the number three man in the Senate's Republican leadership. Tonight, he is under fire because of some comments he made about homosexuality.

Our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl joins us now with details of a controversy some are comparing to one last December that led to the fall of Trent Lott. Hello again, Jonathan.

KARL: Hello, Paula. Well, Senator Santorum is seeking to clarify the remarks he made which came in an interview with the Associated Press, but he's also defending those comments.


KARL (voice-over): Senator Santorum sparked the controversy when he told the Associated Press, "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual gay sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything." Gay Republicans demanded an apology.

PATRICK GUERRUIRD, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: And if you would ask most Americans if they compare gay and lesbian Americans to polygamists and folks who are involved in incest and the other categories that he used, I think there's very few folks in the mainstream that would articulate those same views.

KARL: But Santorum stands by his comments, saying in a written statement he was specifically talking about the pending case before the Supreme Court on whether states can prosecute homosexuals for having consensual sex. If such laws are struck down, he said, so could laws against polygamy and incest.

He added: "I am a firm believer that all are equal under the Constitution. My comments should not be misconstrued in any way as a statement on individual lifestyles."

Santorum is under fire from Democrats and gay Republicans but he is winning praise from some conservative groups.

GENEVIEVE WOOD, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: And I think the Republican Party would do well to follow Senator Santorum if they want to see pro-family voters show up on Election Day.

KARL: But Santorum's comments may complicate his party's efforts to reach out to gays.

GUERRUIRD: The president has made it clear that his vision of our Republican Party is one that is inclusive, that includes everyone in the American family and Senator Santorum's comments are counter to the president's position and outreach to all Americans.

KARL: During the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush made a point of meeting with gay Republicans, and at the Republican convention the party gave gay Congressman Jim Colby a prime time speaking slot, a move that prompted a silent protest from some of the delegates.


KARL: Paula, the Associated Press has now put out more excerpts of their interview with Senator Santorum that make it clear that he also talked about homosexuality beyond the context of that Supreme Court case more generally saying: "I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts."

Santorum in these newest excerpts goes on to say: "So, it's not the person, it's the person's actions and you have to separate the person from their actions," so, making it quite clear that he certainly does have a problem with homosexual lifestyle if not with the homosexual orientation itself -- Paula.

ZAHN: So, Jonathan, come back to the drumbeat you heard today, some Democrats calling for his resignation from the leadership post, some calling for his resignation all together. Tell us what else people are saying.

KARL: Well, there's a significant difference from the controversy we saw with Trent Lott. If you remember what drove that controversy was very strong criticism from conservative Republicans who were very critical of Trent Lott. You are not seeing that, at least not yet, with Senator Lott as you saw there.

Some of the people that have been criticizing Lott are actually supporting Santorum, and most Democrats that have come on criticizing him, and there have been a lot of them, Senator Tom Daschle, several of the presidential candidates, the party chairman, none of those Democrats have actually called on him to step down from his leadership post.

The only one who has is John Corzine who is the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee whose job it is to go out and try to defeat Republican Senators. His committee is the only official Democratic body that has actually called on Santorum to step down from his leadership post, even though all of the others have come out and been very critical.

ZAHN: And based on what we saw of the daily White House briefing, what is your best characterization of what happened today, distancing...

KARL: Yes.

ZAHN: ...itself from this controversy?

KARL: Utter silence, all of the top Republicans. You saw Ari Fleischer completely avoid the question at the White House. He was pressed several times in the briefing and said that he had nothing on that. He hadn't spoken to the president about it. He hadn't spoken to Senator Santorum. The Republican National Committee had a strict no comment policy, and Republican leaders up here also said absolutely nothing.

ZAHN: Jonathan Karl thanks so much for the update.

Joining us now to talk a little bit more about the ramifications of Senator Santorum's comments is Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank. He is a Democrat and was the first member of Congress to announce his homosexuality. He joins us from Brookline, Massachusetts tonight.

And, joining us from Washington is Sandy Rios. She is president of Concerned Women for America. Glad to have both of you with us tonight welcome.


ZAHN: Ms. Rios, I'm going to start with you tonight. Senator Santorum's remarks equated consensual gay sex with bigamy, polygamy, and incest. Do you think that's fair?

RIOS: Paula, his words are being taken completely out of context. This is much ado about nothing. Oh, that there were a Republican who had the courage to speak against the gay lifestyle. I don't think that's what Rick Santorum did. He basically said if the Supreme Court decides against the Texas sodomy law, they will open the gates to all kinds of sexual behavior, and he listed them. That is all the man did.

And, I might also point out that in the AP article Rick Santorum in his original did not even say gay consensual sex. He just said consensual sex in the bedroom, and so that was added by the AP reporter. So, this is a firestorm about nothing, oh that it were about something.

ZAHN: Congressman Frank your reaction to that? This is much ado about nothing and that perhaps it was inaccurately reported by this Associated Press reporter.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Oh, no. I disagree. I don't consider the basic rights of personal liberty, of millions and millions of Americans to be nothing. What Rick Santorum said was that the Supreme Court should uphold the constitutionality of a law that says two men in the privacy of their own bedroom.

Understand in this case the police broke into an apartment, two men, two adults, were having consensual sex in their own bedroom with the doors closed. The police broke in. And, what Mr. Santorum is saying, and others in the Republican Party mostly is that's right. It should be a crime.

I'm appalled by that and his argument that if you allow two men or two women or two other adults, I'll take Ms. Rios to the word, she thinks it ought to be illegal for an unmarried man and unmarried to have se if a state decides that some have to make it a crime, that somehow you're allowing polygamy and incest.

That's just mindlessness and it is a form of bigotry to equate the two. It is one thing to society to say look we want to promote stability of the family. We want children to have parents. We think polygamy where one person is married to several other persons where children are intermingled that erodes social stability.

We give you this right to marry. It's a contract that has rights and obligations. To say that if you allow two adults to make their own choices in private about sexual activity, you are therefore also saying you must allow incestuous relationships that could produce defective children or you must allow multiple marriage.

It is equating the one with the other, and I must say that Senator Santorum's clarification is no clarification at all. He says apparently that it's OK to criminalize this. And, by the way, it's not a surprise that Ari Fleischer didn't say anything.

The governor of Texas, when these two men were arrested and convicted, was George Bush and George Bush has never been for repealing this law and you have here, I think, one of the great hypocrisies of our time, conservatives who argue about limited government defending the policy that sends a police officer into a bedroom of two adults and arrests them for mutually consenting sex.

ZAHN: All right, let's let Ms. Rios comment to the very last thing you had to say and then you can go back to the first argument that Congressman Frank framed, which is this is nothing but bigotry. But first, the response to this notion that perhaps really what folks are desiring here is some police force to go and checkout what's happening in bedrooms and in America.

RIOS: No, what Santorum is talking about, Paula, is not codifying sexual, homosexual behavior, not making a law that says it's OK. See, a lot of us would say that adultery is not something we prefer but we don't necessarily want people to be arrested and taken to jail for it, but neither do we want a law that says it's OK. That is what the Texas sodomy law, that's what people are arguing. We do not need to codify homosexual behavior.

And, by the way, in that story of those two men in Texas, many people suspect that that was not a legitimate case. In fact, the neighbors called suspiciously. The police did not break in. They went in and these men were having sex and they continued to have sex while the police were there.

Many people feel that this was a case that was chosen to set law enforcement up for this purpose. If law enforcement regularly went into homes and arrested people for homosexual behavior, the jails would be filled but that is not happening. And so, Senator Santorum was simply talking about what will happen legally.

There's a great argument to make here. Where do we draw the line with private sexual conduct in the bedroom? Where do we draw the line? Who is going to say? We say that prostitution is wrong. We say that bigamy is wrong. Well, who says? Based on the argument that Congressman Frank used, who is going to say?

So, Senator Santorum was absolutely right. If the Supreme Court does not hold to this law, they open the floodgates to all kinds of private consensual sexual behavior. He's right about this. It has nothing to do with bigotry. And, by the way, morality is not bigotry. Morality is not bigotry.

ZAHN: All right, Congressman Frank please react to that.

FRANK: First of all she's just talking nonsense. The cops did go into the man's bedroom. In the previous Supreme Court case, which upheld this 5-4, the cops went into the bedroom. Maybe I don't -- maybe they're speaking a language I don't understand. They say we're not saying the police should go into your bedroom but in both cases that have gone to the Supreme Court adults have been convicted because the cops went into their bedroom.

By the way, it is not the first time we have asked the courts to say you can't regulate private sex. Now, maybe Ms. Rios was on the other side but the courts did strike down state laws that said adults couldn't use contraceptives. There were state laws that said adults, even adults married to each other, couldn't use contraceptives. The Supreme Court said no you can't say that.

The law used to say in many southern states a Black and a White person couldn't be married to each other. Now, the Supreme Court said no that's a level of privacy.

You ask where does it stop? I think there's a very simple line at the bedroom door if people are doing this mutually and consensually. Bigamy is something very different.

RIO: So...

FRANK: When you were talking about marriage, you were talking about -- please don't interrupt. I didn't interrupt you.





FRANK: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me, Paula. I was just interrupted.

ZAHN: All right, why don't I jump in here and unfortunately...

FRANK: No, excuse me but (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ZAHN: ...but I got to give you both 20 seconds for a closing.

FRANK: Well, I must say...

ZAHN: Congressman Frank, I'll let you finish your thought.

FRANK: Well, I wish she would too. This kind of rudeness I don't understand it. I guess when the argument is going against them they have to interrupt. We are talking here about a very simple fact should it be illegal? And she says we don't want a law that says homosexuality is OK. Neither do I.

I don't want the law telling adults in the privacy of their bedroom what they can and can't do. No one is asking for a law that says homosexuality is a good thing. I'm not much interested in her opinion of whether it's a good thing or not. She's entitled to it.

What I want is that the law shouldn't be that the cops can go into people's bedrooms, as they have on a number of occasions, we've got two Supreme Court cases, and arrest people.

Unfortunately when Rick Santorum says that they should he's representative of the Republican Party, and let me just add I haven't called for his resignation because I don't think there is a point in playing musical chairs among a lot of Republican Senators, most of whom share that prejudiced view.

ZAHN: Ms. Rios.

RIOS: Congressman, I have to say...

ZAHN: This is the final word and then I'm going to have to hold about 30 seconds here.

RIOS: All right, let me just say that that comparison about this incident with Rick Santorum and Trent Lott is so off base because, by the way...

FRANK: I didn't mention Trent Lott.

RIOS: There are -- don't interrupt me, Barney. There are no as far as I know ex-Blacks, and so for Trent Lott...

FRANK: I didn't mention Trent Lott.

RIOS: make a comment about racist comment was not acceptable. But there are (UNINTELLIGIBLE). FRANK: I didn't mention Trent Lott.

RIOS: There are thousands of people who have come out of that lifestyle so Trent Lott's statement was very different from Senator Santorum.

FRANK: I never mentioned Trent Lott. Do you not understand English? I never mentioned Trent Lott.

RIOS: I'm not necessarily addressing what you said but it was brought up in the report that there's a comparison.


RIOS: As you well know, there's a comparison right now going on to Senator Santorum's remarks and Senator Lott's and there is no comparison because when a person...


ZAHN: All right. Unfortunately we need to move along here. Someone's got to pay for this broadcast tonight. We need to take a short commercial break. Representative Frank thanks so much for your time. Sandy Rios, thank you for joining us as well.

RIOS: Thank you, Paula.

Still to come this evening, will Iraq become the next Iran and how involved and connected should the U.S. be to the Iraqi Shi'ites, the debate on religious rule right after the break.

And then a little bit later on, the chief U.N. weapons inspector says the U.S. and British officials forged documents presented to him. Hear from Hans Blix in the next hour.

You're watching LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES on this Tuesday night.


ZAHN: Today's pilgrimage in Karbala, that huge turnout we saw a little bit earlier on tonight illustrates the size and the power of Iraq's Shi'ite Muslims. Could they turn the new Iraq into an Islamic state and what would that mean to the United States?

Here to talk about that possibility Samer Shehata, Acting Director of Arab Studies Programs at Georgetown University, and with me tonight in New York Fawaz Gerges, Professor of International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies at Sarance (ph) Lawrence -- that would be Sarah Lawrence College. Sorry to butcher the name of your school.


ZAHN: Good to see you both. Thank you again for being with us.

First off, what is the likelihood that this movement will become so powerful that it could lead to an Islamic state?

GERGES: Well, Paula, if election were to take place in Iraq today Islamists could win power very easily. I think what the American invasion did, it really tilted the balance of power dramatically in favor of the Shi'ite community long marginalized by Saddam Hussein but also showed the strengths, what I call the conservative religious forces, both within the Shi'ite and the Sunni communities.

And, I think the danger here lies in the fact that these conservative religious forces are influenced by the Iranian model and they would like to Islamicize (ph) state and society from within.

The danger does not lie in whether the Islamist state is compatible with democracy, I'm sure it is, but rather in the potential repercussions on stability and civil strife in Iraq itself. So, if an Islamist state were to take place in Iraq, I mean there is a possibility that Iraq would fracture and descend into civil strife.

ZAHN: Professor Shehata do you concern that -- do you share that concern about what could happen if this turns into an Islamist state?

SAMER SHEHATA, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, I do to some extent but I also think that Iraq and Iran and the Iranian revolution are really unlikely outcomes in Iraq for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the Iranian revolution has not really proven to be successful, and I think many Iraqis realize that. And, the second major difference is that Iraq is not 99 or 98 percent Shi'a. I mean there are different groups. There are Sunnis. There are Kurds.

There's a significant Christian population and there's also no Ayatollah Khomeni a kind of figure that popular sentiment has galvanized around that kind of takes mythic proportions. So, I think that the U.S. should be concerned about what we're seeing. It's expected.

But I don't think we should be overly alarmed because, as Professor Gerges said, Islam is not incompatible with democracy and there are many Islamists in the Arab world who are democrats.

GERGES: A few points here. I think Samer is absolutely correct in the sense that, of course, it has taken the Iranian revolution almost 25 years for the young Iranians to realize that it was bankrupt, that they would like freedom and so on and so forth.

And, the question is this was a very costly project, 25 years of bloodshed, of economic decline and social upheaval, and so on and so forth. And, I think the second point we need to realize is more than 60 percent of Iraqis are Shi'ites and I'm talking her about the conservative religious forces seem to have the upper hand and there are many mullahs in Iraq who basically use the Iranian model as the model for Iraq itself.

And, this is why regardless of what we call the political configuration in Iraq, at this stage the United States, all the United States can do is basically to listen to the Iraqis, to allow Iraqis to determine their own future, that the United States can not and should not impose any particular model on Iraq, because for any model, Paula, to work it must be seen as transparent, fair and legitimate.

What the United States can do is basically to try to help create intra-communal, intra-religious, intra-ethnic coalition and alliances between the Shi'ite community, the Sunni community, and the Kurds in order to counterbalance the conservative religious forces in Iraq.

ZAHN: If, Professor Shehata, if you bind everything that your fellow professor is saying here I'm just curious whether you think the best option the United States has, if its uncomfortable with this notion down the road, is just holding off elections as long as possible.

SHEHATA: Well, I don't think that holding off elections as long as possible would be in our interest and it certainly wouldn't be acceptable for Iraqis. But what the U.S. needs to do, and I agree with Fawaz that we can't have too heavy a hand in this, it will be a tricky balancing act of not doing too little and not doing too much, but what we need to do is get everybody in a room, as it were, to agree on the basic framework, the rules of the political game, as it were, a constitution, freedom of speech, rights for minorities.

As long as those things, elections, regular elections, one person one vote and not one person one vote one time, and as long as those basic points are agreed upon by everyone, Shi'ite, Sunni, communist Kurd, we're fine, and it doesn't bother me whether they call themselves an Islamic state or a social welfare state. That's not really our concern.

ZAHN: If you get those things that the professor just mentioned in place do you think that will prevent backlash against U.S. presence in Iraq?

GERGES: Well, absolutely. I mean I think the first and the most fundamental thing to do now is to lower the American military presence, and this is why it's essential, Paula, to involve the international community, Arab and Muslim states, and the United Nations, in order to really provide the needed resources for Iraqis to secure the peace, to help and rebuild state and society, to lower the American military presence in the region.

And again to invest considerable resources in order to build intra-communal, intra-ethnic alliances in order to create the foundations, the building blocks for democracy. Otherwise, the conservative religious forces being highly mobilized, highly organized, will win this debate and the future of Iraq will be (unintelligible) in their hands.

ZAHN: Professor Shehata, you get the last word tonight. What kind of timetable do you think we're looking at here?

SHEHATA: I think something like six months for elections that would produce a kind of interim authority in which that interim authority would dot the Is and cross the Ts as to what the constitution and the political framework would look like and then real elections down the road, a year or so after that.

ZAHN: I think we all got a very good tutorial this evening from Professor Gerges and Professor Shehata in D.C. tonight. Thank you both for being with us tonight.

Still to come tonight Georgia and the battle to keep a flag for more than a year. From Atlanta, Brian Cabell right after the break.


ZAHN: Welcome back. A major setback in Georgia tonight regarding changing the state's flag, once again Brian Cabell is following the late-breaking developments from Atlanta. Good evening, Brian.

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Paula. Things just got a little more complicated here in the Georgia legislature tonight, a major upset. The Georgia State Senate had been expected to pass a measure adopting a new flag tonight; however, at the last minute an amendment was added to that bill.

That means the entire bill has to come back here to the Georgia State House, which has already engaged in long and heated debate on this issue, may not want to do that. It doesn't have much time. Friday is the last day of the session. So, it's possible that the new Georgia flag could be dead for this session.

Now, this entire issue for many is a ludicrous issue, a time waster for some, but others say it's deadly serious because it's full of symbolism and history. In any case, Georgia has been dealing with four distinct state flags.


CABELL (voice-over): If you're a Georgian, you can take your pick. There's the pre-1956 flag, a variation of the Confederate stars and bars that many African-Americans say is fine, inoffensive.

There's the flag raised in 1956 by a state legislature determined, according to some historians, to show defiance toward the federal government's move to integration. It features the Confederate battle flag, an emblem frequently associated with hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan. But backers of the '56 flag say it has nothing to do with hate. It simply honors their Confederate heritage.

That flag was replaced in 2001 by this flag that some have likened to a restaurant placemat. It was quietly strong-armed through the state legislature without any public hearings by then Governor Roy Barnes who lost his bid for reelection mainly, say some observers, because of his stand on the flag. The Confederate battle emblem is still there but it's greatly reduced in size.

The proposed flag looks like this, similar to the pre-1956 banner but with the words "In God we Trust" added. The current governor, Sonny Perdue, reopened the flag controversy when he ran against Barnes last year promising to give voters a say in what their state flag should be.


CABELL: Had the new proposed flag passed tonight, then voters would have voted on it in a referendum next year. What's going to happen now is simply up in the air. Right now we are left with the current flag. Not many people like it but we have it. It has a very tiny Confederate banner and that's the one we will have for at least a few days, perhaps for another year here in Georgia -- Paula.

ZAHN: We're going to count on you to keep us posted there. Brian Cabell thanks so much.

We're going to take a short break and then LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES will continue after an "At This Hour" broadcast. We'll be right back.



ANNOUNCER: Religious freedom in Iraq, revived after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Now many Shi'ites want the U.S. out of Iraq and their own Islamic state. Can the U.S. vision of a new Iraq survive without separation of mosque and state?

Baghdad cash stash, hundreds of millions in U.S. currency found in Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The immediate priority is secure it until law enforcement officials can examine it, and then let them do their work.

ANNOUNCER: Is it real? How did it get into the hands of Saddam? And who's going to claim the cash now?

Battle lines in the war against SARS.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must remain vigilant here. The last thing that we can do at this point in time is relax.

ANNOUNCER: Did a Chinese cover-up speed the outbreak? What is the danger in the United States? Is the fear of SARS spreading faster than the disease?

LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES with Paula Zahn in New York.


ZAHN: And it's a nice night out there, New York City. Welcome. Glad to have you with us.

Also tonight, a look at a bioterror scare in the Pacific Northwest. Efforts to find common ground between North and South Korea. And then a little bit later on, a special report on SARS. What is it? Why is it spreading? And what can be done to stop it? Our timeline begins in the northwest in a mail distribution center in Tacoma, Washington and the overnight discovery of a mysterious powder. The discovery triggered a toxic alert that led to nearly 400 people being evacuated. And it also led to a series of tests to find out whether the powder was dangerous.

Jeanne Meserve explains.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm told by officials of the Department of Homeland Security that more comprehensive tests have been done on that substance that was found in Tacoma, and that it is not a biotoxin. They do not know at this point what it is. Further tests will be done to determine that. They say they want to find out because they want to pursue whether or not further investigation is in order, and perhaps at some point a prosecution of some individual who may have set -- sent this through the mail system.

It transpired this way. A couple of employees at the Tacoma postal processing facility noticed that a couple of letters that had been put aside for insufficient postage had some substance on them. They called their supervisors. The supervisors took a look and called the local fire department.

When they came, they then called the National Guard. The National Guard having more sophisticated equipment for testing for radiological, chemical and biological weapons. One of those tests did come up positive. One of the tests showed that it could be botulinum toxin or plague. And so, even more tests were done at that juncture. And I am told that some samples were taken to a laboratory setting. And it is those tests in the laboratory setting which have come back negative for any biotoxin.


ZAHN: And then Centcom at a 7:00 a.m. briefing the discovery of hidden treasure inside Iraq. $600 million in $100 bills. U.S. troops discovered the cash last Friday behind a fake wall.

The money is being kept in a secured warehouse. The military has asked U.S. law enforcement determine -- or to determine if it is real and where it came from.


BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: The immediate priority is secure it until law enforcement officials can examine it. And then let them do their work.

Afterwards, decisions will be made, depending on what it is we actually have. We certainly wouldn't want to distribute false money, but there will be other decisions that are made, if it indeed is $600 million of -- in U.S. currency.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: Well, the shooting hasn't stopped inside Iraq. Around 8:00 this morning Eastern time, the U.S. Army streamed into Mosul in the north and reports of gunfire there. Those forces began occupying key government locations.

Jane Arraf says they were ready to face any problems.


JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More American troops and helicopters continuing to stream in and patrol this volatile city.

In the streets, long lines of armored personnel carriers and humvees carrying U.S soldiers with machine guns, sending the message that they are ready to confront anything that comes up.

And it is still volatile out there. Scattered gunfire and reports of a Marine wounded at the base here the previous evening, indicating that all is still not completely well in this city after days of looting. When Iraqi forces withdrew, U.S. and Kurdish forces took over. There are also helicopters patrolling the city, attack helicopters.

But people here say that basically, they don't feel secure because there aren't enough troops of any kind out there in the street.

Right now what we have is a very visible American presence. Not much in the outlying areas. So the hope that it will continue to settle down over the next few days.

Jane Arraf, CNN, reporting from Mosul.


ZAHN: We then moved forward a couple of hours back to the United States. A federal lawsuit over the Rhode Island night club fire in February that killed 99 people.

Two people who survived the fire and a woman whose husband died are suing. The action names the band Great White, the club owners, a company that sold soundproofing foam to the club, and state and local officials.

Also in the 10:00 hour, the Bush administration decided on a post war approach to allowing the public back into the White House. Tours of the White House shut down before the war in Iraq began are being scheduled once again.

School, youth, military and veterans groups will be able to sign up for White House tours through congressional offices.

President Bush issued a vote of confidence in the chairman of the Federal Reserve at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. The president told economic writers that he thinks Alan Greenspan should have a fifth term as chairman of the Central Bank. You might know that Greenspan underwent surgery for an enlarged prostate today. The 77 year old's current term ends in June of 2004. He has been chairman since August 1987. And we are told he could be back in the office by the end of the week.

As the timeline reaches noon, word from the State Department on the talks between the U.S., North Korea, and China. Now those talks are within hours. The subject is the concern over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Andrea Koppel is standing by at the State Department with more details. Good evening, Andrea.

KOPPEL: Good evening again, Paula.

Well, for both Washington and Pyongyang, these talks are a bit of a compromise. Washington wanted multilateral talks with as many countries as possible, including South Korea, Japan and Russia, as well as China. The North wanted private face to face talks with Washington. The compromise includes China, one of North Korea's closest allies and the country believed to have the most leverage over North Korea.

Earlier yesterday, actually, James Kelly, the assistant Secretary of State, arrived in Beijing for those talks. He's the same person who traveled to the North Korean capitol last October and presented the North with evidence that the U.S. new it had a secret nuclear weapons program.

Kelly is going to sit down with a man known as Lee Gun. He's the senior North Korean official in the foreign ministry, who used to be the number two at the North Korean mission to the United Nations.

Still back here in Washington, no one really expects any breakthroughs, but after six months without any meetings, they see this as a diplomatic icebreaker and a first step.


RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: The purpose of these talks is to get started, for us to be able to lay out the need for verifiable and irreversible end to North Korea's nuclear programs, for us to be able to lay out the importance of including others in these discussions, including Jeff Han in Korea, who we think are essential to any substantive outcome.


KOPPEL: But the Bush administration is not reading from the same sheet of music when it comes to the policy. Secretary of State Powell favors engagement. While over at the Pentagon, officials there say Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld suggested in a recent memo that the U.S. should team up with China to topple the current North Korean regime.

Well, as things stand right now, officials say they want to wait to see how things unfold in Beijing today and tomorrow, before they make any kind of decision as to where things go from here. But right now, Paula, no great expectations for any kind of a breakthrough. Officials say North Korea would first have to give up completely and abandon its nuclear ambitions if it has any hope of getting those security assurances it wants, as well as economic assistance -- Paula?

ZAHN: Thanks so much. Andrea Koppel reporting from the State Department for us tonight. We have to take a short break. But when the timeline continues...


GINGRICH: The last seven months have involved six months of diplomatic failure, and one month of military success.


ZAHN: Strong words from the former speaker of the House. What has Newt Gingrich so upset? Plus a difference of opinion over whether the United Nations inspectors should go back inside Iraq. We'll hear live from the White House.


ZAHN: Welcome back. Our timeline continues with a look at an emergency foreign policy debate inside the Republican party. During the noon hour Eastern time, both the state department and the White House responded to a blistering speech by former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich called for big changes at the State Department, citing its failure to get a U.N. endorsement for the war in Iraq.

And former speaker also blasted Secretary of State Colin Powell, calling his plans to visit Syria ludicrous. The White House says it still has confidence in the State Department, but does not blame Powell for diplomatic setbacks as the United Nations.


ALI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: This is a process that the president decided on in his speech to the United Nations in September. And the fact of the matter is, the State Department, Secretary Powell did an excellent job at ushering through that process.

There are others who complicated the process in the security council that in no way is reflective of state department or what the president thinks about State Department or Secretary Powell's superb efforts.


ZAHN: And shortly before that, a state department spokesman says the department is carrying out President Bush's policies with creativity and accomplishment.

Well, the former chief weapons inspector came out swinging today, saying that it's his inspection process which actually hurt by faulty U.S. intelligence at a 1:00 p.m. Eastern news conference today, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix says many of the U.S. troops about where to look simply didn't pan out.


HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Out of the many sites that were given to us by intelligence, and which we visited only in a few instances did we find anything and nothing related to weapons of mass destruction.

Now I have not criticized intelligence for this. I have simply said that is difficult. And the results that have come out have -- have therefore not -- had this sort of (unintelligible.


ZAHN: For more U.S., let's go straight to the White House where senior White House correspondent John King is standing by. Good evening, John.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Paula. There was no love lost just before the war, between the Bush White House and Dr. Hans Blix. And it is safe to say that those tensions are bubbling up again now in the days after the combat phase of the operations inside Iraq.

Dr. Blix criticizing U.S. and British intelligence in that sound byte. He said that it was shabby. He said that in some cases it was a forgery. The White House saying yes, it is still reassessing the intelligence, and yes, it still looking for weapons of mass destruction, but saying it did the best it could in giving information to Dr. Blix.

The White House chalking this up to a case of sour grapes. It says Dr. Blix very much wants to go back into Iraq with his weapons inspections teams now. The White House response to that is thanks, but no thanks, that the U.S. and its coalition allies will conduct the searches for weapons of mass destruction. Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary early today saying Dr. Blix perhaps should find better things to do with his time.


FLEISCHER: And I think it's unfortunate if Hans Blix would in any way criticize the United States at this juncture. The United States is working with the Iraqis to build a new country for them. And I think that would just be unfortunate of his position today as to criticize the United States.


KING: Now the White House is not flatly ruling out any role for U.N. inspectors in Iraq down the road, but in the near term, they say the United States and its coalition allies with some hired inspectors, former U.N. inspectors, will look for the weapons. But one thing they say here at the White House is the do not foresee any role in Iraq now for Dr. Blix -- Paula?

ZAHN: Let me ask you this, John. Much reaction to France wanting to drop sanctions, economic sanctions in Iraq?

KING: The White House believes this is a very positive step and a reflection the White House believes that France, Germany, others at the United Nations, France especially on the Security Council, want to turn the page, if you will, and move on to a constructive dialogue about post war Iraq, reconstruction, selling oil, funding that reconstruction. The White House believes there will be many bumps in the road because of restrictions France, Russia, and others might want to put on how this happens, just how to lift the sanctions and get a reconstruction program going, what role for the United Nations.

But the United States says and the White House is saying tonight this is a very development. And there's obviously still some diplomacy to be worked out, but they view it as quite encouraging.

ZAHN: John King, thanks so much.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says SARS is now infected some 4,000 people around the world, with at least 229 deaths. At a 2:00 p.m. news conference in Atlanta, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave reporters a sobering update on efforts to control the disease.


GERBERDING: We still have no capacity to predict where it's going or how large it's ultimately going to be. I think the good news is that we do see effective containment in some areas. And some measures do seem to be very successful. I think we're also very sobered by the ongoing transmission in parts of the world, including Hong Kong, where very, very appropriate public health steps have been taken, and yet the epidemic is continuing to evolve there.


ZAHN: Our final half hour of tonight's LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES will be a special report on SARS, coming up just a few minutes from now.

And in a racially charged decision, Georgia state Senate has voted to scrap a state flag adopted just two years ago. The vote came at about 7:00 p.m. Eastern. The two year old flag was unpopular with many white Georgians because it replaced a banner featuring the Confederate battle emblem.

Today's vote would replace the newer flag with the compromised flag, featuring another Confederate emblem, the stars and bars. But the bill has to go back to the Georgia house for a final vote.

Some black legislators there support keeping the current flag, but they are promising a filibuster.

Next on the timeline, Karl Penhaul live from Karbala, Iraq. PENHAUL: I'm in the city of Karbala, where hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite Muslim children have come to celebrate new found religious freedom, and send a message to coalition forces. I'll tell you more when the timeline continues.


ZAHN: Today's timeline ends in Iraq.

Karl Penhaul is in Karbala, where an estimated one million pilgrims have gathered at a site holy to Shi'ite Muslims.

PENHAUL: It's early in the morning here, Paula, but thousands of Muslim pilgrims are still milling around the street. Thousands more are now curled up on the sidewalks of this city, ready for another day of pilgrimage tomorrow.

People have been walking here from one end of the country to the other. One man I spoke to said he'd been walking for 18 days. Imagine that. He would have set out before the Saddam Hussein regime fell. He wouldn't have known whether he was going to make it through to the shrine of the Imam Al Hussein. But his wish came true. Saddam Hussein was toppled and he got here.

And that's been the overtone for many and much of this pilgrimage. It's been a celebration of new found religious freedom, because after all, Paula, under Saddam Hussein, none of these people would have been allowed to come here. Under Saddam Hussein, only a very restricted number are allowed to attend. And they were only allowed to come in buses and trucks.

But besides this carnival almost like atmosphere of the celebrations, there's also a political message that these pilgrims are sending. That message is for coalition forces. They're thanking them for their efforts in ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein, but they're telling the coalition forces that now their time is up, that U.S. and British soldiers should go home and leave Iraqis to determine their own political future. They've made it clear they don't want any handpicked leaders being imposed by the United States and Britain from the outside -- Paula?

ZAHN: So Karl, they've expressed pretty much what they want. Realistically, what do they think Iraq might look like politically six months to a year down the road?

PENHAUL: I think still, Paula, that these are the days -- immediate days after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The pragmatism isn't an immediate word in these people's vocabulary. They're excited. They're excited about this new freedom. And they're looking for what the most that they can achieve. They're not thinking about the practical experience of nation building.

Many of them have no experience of that. In the street, we've seen banners and placards. Many of these people calling for some kind of Islamic rules. Many of them are expressing solidarity with their other fellow Shi'ite Muslims in Iran. And the senior clerics upset that they will also work to build society from the bottom up, from the grassroots level. They're not really thinking about the main process of forming an interim government, for example, because their main aim is to ensure that outside leaders returning exiles are not imposed on them.

But like I say, pragmatics not particularly at this stage. Certainly excited about nation building. And very definitely, the Shi'ite Muslim majority of this country believe their time has come and that they now will play a central part in the political future of this country -- Paula.

ZAHN: Karl Penhaul, thanks so much for the update.

The hour's top headlines are straight ahead. After the break, I'll take a closer look at the mysterious and deadly illness, SARS.

We're going to hear from one doctor who has been under quarantine. His unique view in our special report when LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES returns.


Under Iron Fist of Saddam Hussein, Call for U.S. to Leave Iraq>

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