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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

Mobile Laboratory Being Examined by U.S.; Democrats Criticize Bush's Carrier Landing on USS Abraham Lincoln

Aired May 7, 2003 - 22:00   ET

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

(NEWSBREAK)
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone. It seems that Washington is gorging itself on the political version of the Atkins diet. There's red meat on everyone's plate.

The latest meal is the president's made for TV landing aboard the USS Lincoln a week ago. It isn't today's top story to be sure but it's a very good sign the political season is upon us and it won't be pretty.

We begin the whip with the latest version of the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and today we got a look at the latest discovery in northern Iraq.

Our Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre has more on that, Jamie a headline.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, the U.S. has hauled a truck to Baghdad and is slowly dismantling it, testing it for minute traces of biological agents, but even if the tests come back positive it won't prove that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the war began - Aaron.

BROWN: Jamie, thank you.

The attacks and counterattacks over the president's visit at the USS Abraham Lincoln last week, Congressional Correspondent Jonathan Karl drew the story today, Jon a headline.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, tonight the president said that that dramatic arrival was a really good landing but Democrats are calling it a political stunt.

BROWN: Jon, back to you in a moment.

And more now on the tornadoes and the cleanup efforts in the hard hit community of Pierce City, Missouri. Ed Lavandera is there again tonight, Ed a headline.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Aaron. Well, we spent the last couple of days walking the streets here in Pierce City and if you listen closely you hear a lot of people here talking about, reminiscing, talking about their experiences that they've shared here in this town. And so, we're going to take a look back tonight to show you why the history of this town has everything to do with its future - Aaron.

BROWN: Ed, thank you, back to you and the rest shortly.

Also coming up tonight in an hour and a half edition of NEWSNIGHT, we'll take a look at the Laci Peterson case and the politics of abortion.

Also, a new audiotape surfaces, is it really the voice of Saddam Hussein, the very possibility making some Iraqis nervous, Nic Robertson in Baghdad on that for us tonight.

A fascinating spy case in California, a woman accused of being a double agent and the former FBI agent who's gotten tangled up in her troubles.

And, we're definitely equal opportunity around here. We don't want to see boys or girls act like this. It's girls in this latest case of ritual humiliation, a mortifying case of hazing if you want to call it that in suburban Chicago.

Also Bob Hope at 100 tonight all of that and more in the hour ahead or even the hour and a half ahead.

We begin with what must be the best known truck since the white Bronco. If it is what it appears to be it amounts to the first tangible evidence after many false leads that Iraq had the machinery for making weapons of mass destruction. It's a big if but unlike other discoveries that later turned out to be nothing, officials are saying this one really looks like something.

Here again, CNN's Jamie McIntyre.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE (voice-over): The Pentagon says this truck trailer, stopped by Kurds at a checkpoint in northern Iraq last month, is almost certainly a mobile biological laboratory.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: What we've seen so far of the labs is that it matches very closely as we said in the Pentagon today.

MCINTYRE: Officials say the size of the vehicle and the equipment inside, including a fermenter and air-cleaning system, match the description given to the U.S. by an Iraqi defector before the war and used to produce these drawings shown to the U.N.

STEPHEN CAMBONE, UNDER SECRETARY FOR INTELILGENCE, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT: The experts have been through it and they have not found another plausible use for it.

MCINTYRE: But burned by previous premature suggestions of WMD finds, the Pentagon is withholding a final verdict until the suspect germ factory, which appears to have been cleaned with strong ammonia, can be dismantled to search for trace amounts of bio agents.

CAMBONE: On the smoking gun, I mean the - I don't know.

MCINTYRE: So far, the search for Iraq's banned weapons has been fruitless. Of the 576 suspected WMD sites the U.S. identified before the war, teams have now inspected 70. No banned weapons were found there nor at 40 additional sites discovered since the war began. Could the intelligence have been faulty?

VICE ADM. LOWELL JACOBY, USN DIRECTOR: It's too early to tell. It really is. That will become more clear as there's more access to the people that are making the decisions.

MCINTYRE: The commander of U.S. ground forces has his own theory. Appearing by teleconference from Iraq, Lieutenant General William Wallace told a Pentagon briefing that the time between when the U.N. inspectors left and the U.S. troops arrived was so short, the Iraqis didn't have time to retrieve any weapons from their hiding places.

LT. GEN. WILLIAM WALLACE, U.S. 5TH CORPS COMMANDER: Because they were so clever in disguising and burying it so deep that they themselves had a problem getting to them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: Now, the Pentagon hopes to prove that deadly anthrax or botulinum toxin was made in the mobile laboratory, but even if the tests come back positive it will only show that they were once made in this bio lab not that Iraq still had them at the beginning of the war - Aaron.

BROWN: Help me on the history a bit. There's no question that going back a dozen years, or at least a decade, that there was evidence, clear evidence, that Iraq had these programs, anthrax and the rest, is that correct?

MCINTYRE: That's right and, in fact, some of it Iraq admitted to and so what could happen in this case is if it were to be shown that this was, in fact, a bio weapons lab, Iraq could simply claim or the former government could claim that it was just evidence that they had ceased their program and that the facility had been decontaminated. It doesn't necessarily prove America's case.

BROWN: So, even in the best of circumstances this is no slam dunk?

MCINTYRE: It isn't.

BROWN: OK.

MCINTYRE: They still need to find the actual chemicals or the actual weapons in order for them to be vindicated in what their original intelligence told them.

BROWN: Jamie, thank you, Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre tonight.

On now to the storm over the president's trip to sea, given truth serum we suspect even the toughest critics of the president wouldn't begrudge him the spoils of a picture perfect presidential visit. Given the same truth serum we would like to expect at least that the White House would concede that yep, politics did play a part in the president's arrival and speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

The fact is the presidency carries enormous political advantage. Presidents, to put it simply, get to look presidential and the opposition gets to call him on it. They are the rules of the game and tonight the game is on.

Here again, CNN's Jonathan Karl.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL (voice-over): The triumphant arrival was the kind of picture perfect moment presidents dream of and that has some Democrats on the attack.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D) CALIFORNIA: He acted as if the Air Force property were his personal toys. If he's playing like he's a jet pilot he ought to do that on his own time and his own money and not the taxpayers' money and not for political purposes.

KARL: Calling it a campaign commercial, Democrat Henry Waxman has demanded an account of how much the president's use of the USS Lincoln cost but the White House dismisses his accusations.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: I think that the 5,000 sailors on that ship recognized this for what it was, the president going out there to say thank you to those who risked their lives.

KARL: Privately, White House aides welcome the Democratic attacks. "Bring it on" said one official. "If they think there is something to be gained by investigating and criticizing the president for going out to welcome the troops home, they're even more ridiculous than I thought."

Waxman's attacks followed a blistering speech by the Senate senior Democrat.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: To me it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the president to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech.

KARL: Other Democrats claim the White House delayed the carrier's homecoming by a day, a charge the White House and Navy deny. But every time Democrats raise the issue, the White House gets the image it wants.

It's a throwback to the days of Ronald Reagan. His image man, Michael Deever, used to say it didn't matter if news stories about Reagan were negative as long as they used the stage managed images of his public events. Pictures, Deever said, speak louder than words. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: But even if they think they are right on this some Democratic strategists think the issue is a political loser for their party. One aide to one of those many Democrats running for president said to CNN that any time you're talking about Bush on an aircraft carrier you're talking about something Bush wants to be talking about. This Democratic strategist and others agree that they'd be much better off talking about things like the economy - Aaron.

BROWN: Anybody expect this to last, that this had legs beyond the next - beyond the next five minutes is what I'm actually thinking?

KARL: That would be a pretty good guess. What some say, though, is that if you put this in the context of other things that the president will be doing and they anticipate that he will be doing going into the election that they hope they can create some immense amount of this.

For instance, Aaron, as you know the Republicans will be holding their national convention in early September of 2004, going right into getting up close to the September 11th anniversary. They're already accusing him of politicizing September 11th, so you'll hear more about this in the future but in the short term probably not a lot more.

BROWN: Jon, thank you, Jonathan Karl up on the Hill tonight.

Over at the White House, our Senior White House Correspondent John King has been listening to all of this and he joins us tonight from the North Lawn. Do they care at the White House about any of this?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly care, Aaron. As Jon Karl noted, senior White House officials are saying bring it on. Let's do this every day. Let's talk every day about how eager the president was to rush out to that carrier and greet the troops who had been serving, not only in the war in Iraq, but the war in Afghanistan for more than ten months, and they ask us here at the White House when you talk about please show the pictures.

Now the premiere source here at the White House, the president himself, was asked about this earlier. He was asked about Senator Byrd's comments calling this a stunt, flamboyant showmanship. Mr. Bush made clear he has a very different view.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was an honor for me to go on the USS Abraham Lincoln. I appreciated the chance to thank our troops. It was an unbelievably positive experience and not only was I able to thank our troops, I was able to speak to the country and talk about not only their courage but the courage of a lot of other men and women who wear our country's uniform. I'm glad I did it. It was also a really good landing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The White House believes that soft spoken answer with a bit of a smirk at the end when talking about the landing is the right political tone for the president to strike during this controversy, if we want to call it that, and they also insist that the White House is right on the facts.

They say the Democrats are saying that it cost more to go in on the jet than it would have cost to go in on a helicopter. The White House says that is not true and that Henry Waxman will get that answer when the General Accounting Office responds to his letter.

And they also say here at the White House that the president has every right to do this as commander-in-chief, and they say he did not keep that ship at sea for an extra day. They say the arrangements were made for that ship to arrive on May 2nd, that the security arrangements, the logistical arrangements, parking an aircraft carrier is not like parking a car, and the families were told to be there on the 2nd.

Yes, the ship was ahead of schedule. It could have made it to the dock on May 1st but the Navy and the White House say it never would have done so even if the president were not onboard because there were not the people, especially the families onshore to greet that ship - Aaron.

BROWN: All right, two other questions that have been raised here. The White House does acknowledge that they could have flown out by helicopter had they wanted to?

KING: Yes, and that is one key point. On the day of the speech, the White House said that was impossible that the ship was too far out and that the president needed to go on this jet. Now, the White House is saying that was wrong, that by the time the president was out in San Diego and he took that jet out the carrier was close enough for the helicopter to go out.

They insist here at the White House that at that point the Navy was saying: a) the jet was safer, and they also concede this point. They say the president very much wanted to get in that cockpit and take a ride in the jet. They do not dispute that here at the White House.

BROWN: And is there (unintelligible) the other "accusation" that we've heard on this is that the White House had the ship repositioned, turned in a different direction so that they would get the backdrop they wanted for the speech, the sea, the open sea, rather than the California coastline.

KING: Navy officials onboard that day did tell travel pool reporters, pool reporters who were with the president that they were, that they turned the ship to make sure that you could not see the land.

They say they did that. They did not say the White House told them to do that. That is one of the questions that might be asked in this but it is also to this White House a question that will not resonate with any voters. They view that as a Democrat versus Republican question.

Here at the White House they say that Henry Waxman is simply following the playbook followed by a man you see next to him in the pictures most of the time, Republican Dan Burton who constantly criticized President Clinton for traveling around the world, for spending money on trips. White House officials say it's a great debate in Washington. They don't think it matters at all to the voters.

BROWN: Thank you, John, John King at the White House tonight.

Chuck Todd is the editor-in-chief of the "Hotline," the political edition and bible of Washington, D.C. if you will and he joins us from there tonight. Is this a big deal, no deal, or a little deal?

CHUCH TODD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "HOTLINE": Well, it would be no deal except that the Democrats are trying to make a deal out of it so it's become a little deal probably in the White House's favor for every reason we keep hearing tonight. We can see the photos over and over again and it makes the Democrats look petty.

You know it's almost the exact attack, just like John King just brought up with Dan Burton when the Republicans would criticize Clinton for every little thing all it did was do what? It got Clinton reelected in '96. It somehow got Democrats to do well in elections in '98.

It only serves to backfire and it just looks small. To the victor go the spoils and Bush is the president and the spoils are that every once in a while you get to do some showmanship. It's what being president's all about.

BROWN: So in the content, I mean if you just look at it over the last couple of presidents it may be ineffective but it is time honored.

TODD: It's a time honored tradition to try to, yes, to try to - on both sides to try to criticize the president for taking advantage of what he - what the advantages of the presidency give them and it's a tradition for the presidents to make themselves look even more presidential than you can possibly imagine, and that was as presidential of a moment as we've seen yet in the television age.

BROWN: Do you think any of the anger, if that's the right word, that Democrats have stems from the fact that the president was in the reserves during the Vietnam era and not in Vietnam itself?

TODD: Oh, I think that's the exact undertone. That's where this is all coming from because, you know, we hear constantly at the "Hotline" well if this were Clinton, you know, the Republicans would have said well what's that draft dodger doing on that aircraft carrier.

And we hear that a lot and, yes, there are a lot of Democrats upset not about the photo op that this had but they're upset that well, why aren't people digging into President Bush's - you know he says he was a fighter pilot, well when did he do it? What was he doing in Alabama, et cetera, et cetera? I think that that's the sour grapes the Democrats have here, not about the showmanship itself but about the specific showmanship, the fighter plane.

BROWN: It does seem, I mean just that question and it's - I'll confess it strikes me odd in some respects that all these years later we are still fighting the domestic battles of Vietnam.

But there is in this that undercurrent that it is - the Democrats or people who are critics of the president that there's something hypocritical about the commander-in-chief now donning all this military garb and flying out there and playing top gun I think they would put it.

TODD: Well, I think it has to do more with this chip on their shoulder that Democrats have over the criticism that Clinton took for eight years. It's almost more that chip that every time he did a military event, you know, the words draft dodger and his Vietnam record were always brought up and it was true. It was always brought up.

You know, some old Clinton staffers make sure we saw some clips of when President Clinton landed on an aircraft carrier and how tough, more critical the press was and how they brought up the fact that he had not had military service, and just kept regurgitating the story. So that the bitterness is about they're not treating Bush the same way that they treated Clinton. It has almost less to do with the era of Vietnam.

BROWN: Do you have any sense that this is the opening salvo of a kind of strategy, a way to say about the administration as it seeks a second term that they are using the war, they are using the war on terrorism, they are using 9/11, they are using these important and hopefully non-political events for political gain?

TODD: Well, look, there's sort of, there's two parts of that thinking among some Democratic strategists. There are some that would like to do that that would like to try to say well they're politicizing it, but I think they get themselves in trouble because of what we talked.

The images will trump the rhetoric at the end of the day. If you start bringing up 9/11, if you start bringing up this aircraft carrier landing, well then you see the images again. You know we were surprised that we didn't, you know, there was no criticism if you recall when President Bush used the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop to give an address.

You know he doesn't do many Oval Office addresses anymore. They're almost all different backdrops other than the Oval Office, so they just - they got to be careful because it brings up images that they don't want to have on the television screen.

BROWN: Chuck, thanks for joining us, nice job tonight.

TODD: Great, thank you.

BROWN: Chuck Todd of "Hotline," Washington political newsletter.

Up on NEWSNIGHT next, a call to arms for Iraqis, a new tape said to be the voice of Saddam Hussein. Here we go again.

And, the cleanup from this week's tornadoes continues, one town looks back to its future.

This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: By now it almost goes without saying the existence of weapons of mass destruction is hardly the only unsettled question in Iraq. Today an Australian newspaper, the "Sydney Morning Herald", released an audiotape it said was given to one of its reporters in Baghdad by two unidentified men.

American intelligence is giving it the once over but even if the formally unidentified voice on the tape is familiar and intriguing it is unsettling just the same.

Here's CNN's Nic Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seemingly in contrast with the writing on Baghdad's walls, Saddam Hussein's first reported verbal message since his fall from power is a call to arms. Reportedly recorded this week, it was delivered in a tired voice.

VOICE OF SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): You, the Iraqi people, men and women stand together against the invasion and show your stances much as you can by writing on walls or making positive demonstrations or not selling them anything or buying anything from them, or by shooting them with your rifles and trying to destroy their cannons and tanks.

ROBERTSON: Hussein's message finding little support in Baghdad's Adamia (ph) neighborhood, traditionally pro-Saddam.

"We don't have the ability to fight the U.S. Army" says Abu Katab (ph) an agricultural engineer. "We don't even want to fight the American troops. They're preserving our security."

The streets of Adamia were the last place Hussein is thought to have appeared publicly. His new message refers to his birthday and the looting of the Iraqi National Museum, both events occurring since that appearance and his removal from power. According to the new audiotape, resistance will be a secret struggle, reminiscent of Hussein's Ba'ath Party underground movement from the 1960s. VOICE OF SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): Through the secret means I am talking to you from inside great Iraq and I say to you the main task for you, Arab and Kurd, Shia and Sunni, Muslim and Christian, and the whole Iraqi people of all religions, your main task is to kick the enemy out from our country. You have to believe that he who is working with the foreigners is working against you.

ROBERTSON: For Iraq's former Foreign Minister Adnan Pechachi (ph), returning from several decades in exile, the specter of the speech troubling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I fully understand the apprehension that some people feel that, you know, he may suddenly be among us.

ROBERTSON: Among anti-Western protesters to whom CNN played the speech, Hussein's words falling flat.

"Whether Saddam is dead or alive, he's finished as far as we Iraqis are concerned" he says. "Saddam is over and we don't want him back."

A group of looters we also played the tape to, undecided whether it was Hussein. "Saddam had seven doubles" he says, "and we say it's not him."

"Whether it is his voice or not we're against him anyway" says this looter.

(on camera): Even if the authenticity of the tapes isn't important to people here, the question for the U.S. is will this call to arms result in a serious and sustained threat against U.S. troops or will it simply fade like so many of Saddam's posters and likely be forgotten.

Nic Roberts, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: We're joined now by the correspondent who was given the tape. Ed O'Loughlin writes for the "Sydney Morning Herald" and he joins us tonight from Baghdad. That's a nice scoop. How did the tape end up in your hands?

Well, I'd like to say it was thanks to lots of detective work and so on but, in fact, it was mostly luck. I happened to encounter two men hear the Palestine Hotel who it turned out were trying to contact the Arab media, Al-Jazeera and Al-Aribiya satellite stations but seemed to have been deterred by the fact that the Palestine Hotel where all the big agencies are based is part of the U.S. security cordon with American troops guarding access.

So, the upshot of it was eventually they handed this tape to my fixer and told him it was a speech by Saddam Hussein recorded that morning, which is Monday morning and that he should make sure it got disseminated.

BROWN: What did you do next? I gather you tried to in some way authenticate the tape.

O'LOUGHLIN: Yes. That was our dilemma then. There are no real authorities in Baghdad as such, so you can't take it to the great and the good to get their ruling on it.

What we did was, I in Baghdad took the tape and played it to as many Iraqis as I could in the short time which I had before my next deadline. At the same time, I sent a good copy of the tape to Australia where we submitted it to a language laboratory which came back yesterday with an interim preliminary finding that they reckoned it was maybe 70 to 80 percent probable it was the voice of Saddam Hussein. The Iraqis who I played it to were also by and large strongly of the opinion that if it wasn't Saddam Hussein it was a very, very good hoax.

BROWN: What did your - how did you tell your editors? Did you pick up the phone and say hey boss I think I got something interesting?

O'LOUGHLIN: Pretty much. By the time I got the story it was actually late night in Australia, 11:00 p.m., so I was fighting quite hard to get the story published even in the late editions but I was overruled, which is probably just as well, but that meant I had to spend the next day standing the story up as best we could.

I should say that we're still not actually saying ourselves that this is Saddam Hussein. We're saying that these are the circumstances whereby the tape was acquired.

This is what people are saying about the tape but we're trying to get a better quality tape to a number of language laboratories, I understand, to try and get a better authentication, and we're also very eager to hear what the authorities here will say, the military authorities to whom ultimately we had to hand the tape over.

BROWN: Do you think that with each one of these tapes, with each videotape, with each audiotape, with each little sign that he may still be alive, the mythology of Saddam grows and in an odd sense, therefore, his power grows?

O'LOUGHLIN: I think within Iraq to a small extent that may be true. It's probably to a larger extent outside Iraq where there's probably a lot more support for Saddam Hussein as a figure of Arab resistance.

The fact that he's still, if it is him, still out there somewhere, still trying to operate, still trying to be a player, will I think increase the stature amongst disaffected Arabs elsewhere in the region who don't like their governments and see him as somebody who stood up to Israel and so on.

Within Iraq, I think, he has very low personal support, probably restricted mainly to his own clan from the Tikrit area. The rest of the people, although some of them may mourn aspects of his regime, I don't think very many people mourn him. BROWN: Ed, thanks for joining us. Congratulations, nice story no matter how you came upon it. Thank you very much, Ed O'Loughlin of the "Sydney Morning Herald" on the Saddam tape.

There's now an answer to the troubling question from - a troubling question from early in the war and that begins our world roundup tonight, namely how did Iraqi defenders near Karbala manage to mangle a fleet of Apache helicopters, shooting down one of them.

Today the three-star general who led the charge to Baghdad said the Iraqis had early warning and how they got it was fascinating. Lieutenant General William Wallace says an Iraqi general near Najaf saw the Apaches coming. He picked up his cell phone, had Karbala on the speed dial, hit the button, sounded the alarm.

For the first time since the war began, Iraqi passenger trains are running again, two set out today between Bagdad and Umm Qasr. Engineers expect to get another couple of lines back in operation in the coming days.

And finally in the roundup, police in Great Britain have formally ended their investigation into Pete Townshend, surfing kiddy porn Web sites. No charges but they have put him on notice. They photographed him, took fingerprints, a DNA sample, and put his name on a five-year watch list.

Mr. Townshend of The Who says he came across the Web sites by accident, visited them just a few times while doing research for a book, and is certainly not a pedophile. But, in Great Britain, even looking at kiddie porn Web sites is against the law and carries a penalty of up to five years in jail.

Coming up on NEWSNIGHT: an historic town trying to keep its character as it rebuilds after the weekend tornadoes; and how the Laci Peterson case is affecting the debate over abortion in the country.

We take a break first. From CNN, this is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: The tornadoes: Now, storms like these have an awesome ability to leave a tragedy at one house and a miracle at the next. That was the case in Illinois last night: a tragedy that two people in the state died in storms, a miracle that at least one woman caught outside is still around to tell us about it. As she said today, there was nothing to do but lie down and grab the grass.

Meanwhile, the cleanup continued in places that have already been hit hard, including one town that saw centuries worth of history vanish in a quick and brutal gust of wind.

Reporting for us: CNN's Ed Lavandera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY BISHOFF, EDITOR, "THE MONETT TIMES": Downtown Pierce City was a three-block stretch along the railroad tracks.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 133 years, Midwestern charm has aged to perfection in Pierce City's downtown streets. It was 1870 when Andrew Pierce and a collection of pioneering immigrants set foot on this ground.

BISHOFF: These were gamblers. These were people who risked a lot to put up a business where there wasn't much of anything. There's just nothing there left at all anymore.

LAVANDERA: Now Pierce City residents are being called on to build again. But some, like local newspaper editor Murray Bishoff, can't help but think about what the tornado took away.

BISHOFF: We've lost a lot of heritage that we can't replace.

LAVANDERA: Like the third floor of the National Bank Building, a once proud architectural centerpiece.

BISHOFF: It went into the sky. There's no debris from these tops of these buildings around here.

LAVANDERA (on camera): And you have no idea where it is?

BISHOFF: None. The last place in town that had Pierce City National Bank spelled the original way, like Andrew Pierce's name was, which is P-E-I-R-C-E.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Also gone is the opera house building and its windows.

BISHOFF: As you approach town from the south, the spotlight on the American Legion building across the street on its flag reflected onto the opera house. So, as you approached the railroad tracks at night, you saw the opera house illuminated and you knew you were home.

LAVANDERA: So what will become of these 19th century buildings, like Old Bennett's (ph) drugstore and the Lawrence County Bank operated by Lewis L.L. Allen (ph) in the 1800s? He was known as the saint of Pierce City.

And the bandstand: When will music fill the air street again? Angelo Logan is part of a historical preservation team that will help the city figure out what to do.

ANGELO LOGAN, MISSOURI HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE: I think there is hope for a lot of these buildings. There is, of course, some damage in much of them, but I think they can rebuild.

BISHOFF: I think Pierce City can come back, but this is a terrible loss, no matter how you cut it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: Downtown business owners met earlier this afternoon with some historical architects who had finished walking the downtown area. And they were told during this meeting that, from they have seen on this initial walk-through, that they believe that many of these buildings will be salvaged at this point. And they're hopeful that that will bring the tourists back. And that is the best news these owners have heard since Sunday. And when they heard that news, they all started cheering -- Aaron.

BROWN: Any idea where the money will come from to rebuild?

LAVANDERA: Well, there is already an influx of money from the federal government. This area has been declared a federal disaster area. And much of the money is already being pumped in to begin just the cleanup process. And there is also money, I'm told, from these historical architects, perhaps from historical foundations that will help in this preservation process as well -- Aaron.

BROWN: Ed, thank you -- Ed Lavandera in Missouri tonight.

A few stories from around the country now, beginning with the decision in a lawsuit against Iraq from families of two 9/11 victims. A judge said today that the families had been able to show at least a tenuous link between Iraq, Osama bin Laden, and 9/11. He awarded the plaintiffs more than $100 million in damages. It's not clear, of course, how they'll ever collect. But one lawyer for the plaintiffs said they may get some because of the Iraqi assets has that are frozen in the United States and overseas.

Part of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, closed today while police looked into an anthrax near at a well-known boutique. Police said a suspicious letter was received and opened by employees at the Armani store, the letter said to have anthrax. Early tests were negative for anthrax. More tests are being conducted.

Still to come on NEWSNIGHT: a former FBI man indicted for his involvement with an accused double agent; and the connection between Laci Peterson and a bill to consider crimes against pregnant women as crimes against two separate people.

From New York, this is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: And coming up on NEWSNIGHT: a case involving a suspected double agent and the lover, a former FBI agent. It sounds like a made-for-TV movie.

It's next on NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: That's what the world needed, isn't it? Web access in the bathroom.

California has been the venue for a lot of sensational cases over the years, ones worthy of tabloid treatment. But this one could provide material for both "The National Enquirer" and John Grisham: a prominent businesswoman suspected of being a double-agent for China and the former FBI agent who loved her. Today, the agent was indicted.

A look at what he's accused of doing from CNN's Charles Feldman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They made a loving couple -- no one is disputing that -- James Smith and Katrina Leung -- only, they both were married throughout their 20-year affair and he was supposed to be her FBI handler.

Leung, you see, is a prominent Chinese-American who was paid almost $2 million by the FBI over 20 years to spy on the Chinese for the U.S. The catch is, Leung was arrested recently on espionage- related charges, federal officials claiming she actually was spying on the United States for China. Smith, Wednesday, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud and gross negligence.

DEBRA YANG, U.S. ATTORNEY: During conversations with the FBI over the past several months, Leung described how Smith would come to her house and leave his briefcase open, which gave her the opportunity to take documents out of the briefcase and copy them without Smith's knowledge.

FELDMAN: Smith's attorney says he is disappointed the government charged his client, who is slated to be arraigned next week. As for Leung, a grand jury is still investigating her and a decision on whether to indict is expected Thursday.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FELDMAN: Now, if there is an indictment tomorrow of Leung, it is not expected to be on espionage charges, at least not yet. But there is apparently a debate going on among prosecutors about what specific charges to press. Complicating matters, some of the alleged acts might be beyond the statute of limitations -- Aaron.

BROWN: All right, a couple of quick ones. Is she the only witness against him?

FELDMAN: No. There is actually another retired FBI agent who, allegedly, also had an affair with her. And he is apparently cooperating with prosecutors.

BROWN: The plot thickens.

FELDMAN: It sure does.

BROWN: And is he, in any sense, charged with knowingly providing her with secrets or just being negligent in the way he left his briefcase open?

FELDMAN: Well, that's a very good question. No. Right now, he is charged just with negligence. But there are lots of people who have been saying, how could he have been that negligent over 20 years?

BROWN: Charles, thank you very much -- Charles Feldman in Los Angeles tonight.

On to another sensational story out of California, one that's turned out to have political dimensions as well. It's a curious thing that a murder case could get caught up in the battle over abortion, or maybe not so curious. As soon as California authorities announced that Scott Peterson would be charged in the murder of his wife, Laci, and his unborn child, it seemed clear to us that both sides of the abortion debate would be listening with great interest. They were, far away from Modesto, all the way to Capitol Hill in Washington.

Here is congressional correspondent Kate Snow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHARON ROCHA, MOTHER OF LACI PETERSON: In my mind, I keep hearing Laci say to me: Mom, please find me and Connor and bring us home.

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is success an emotional story. And, sometimes, emotion translates into political opportunity.

SEN. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: Baby Connor was found near his mother with his umbilical chord still attached.

SNOW: A graphic story, the murder of Laci Peterson becomes the easiest way to push for a new law that's never made it past the Senate. Laci Peterson family knows the power of their story, too.

They want a bill named in her memory to make killing or hurting a pregnant woman a crime against two people, not just one. "Knowing that perpetrators who murder pregnant women will pay the price not only for the loss of the mother, but the baby as well, will help bring justice for these victims," they wrote to the sponsors.

About half the states already have laws treating the fetus as a separate victim of violate crime. California is one of them. Scott Peterson is charged with two murders. The bill Republicans are pushing in Congress wouldn't change state law, but would apply to federal crimes, like the murder of a pregnant woman on a military base.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: That if an individual attacks a pregnant woman who has chosen to have the child, you ought to throw the book at them.

SNOW: But opponents accuse the bill's sponsors of cynically exploiting the Peterson tragedy. They see the bill as a way to knock down abortion rights by defining a fetus as a person.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: It's pushed by the anti-choice people. And that's the only purpose for it, because every other purpose could be accomplished simply by increasing the gravity of the crime.

SNOW (on camera): Despite that opposition, the bill is expected to once again sail through the House. Then Republicans hope to bring it straight to the Senate floor while the Laci Peterson case is still on everyone's mind.

Kate Snow, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Ahead on NEWSNIGHT: Was it just a case of girls being girls or an initiation gone way too far?

Plus: Is enough being done to keep chemical plants secure from terrorism?

Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: This is a tough moment for the fathers of teenage girls everywhere, of which I am one.

Today, we saw those pictures of a hazing incident in suburban Chicago and were, of course, forced to imagine our daughters getting this kind of punishment at what should have been a fun weekend football game or the unthinkable thought of them giving that kind of punishment. It's enough to make a dad shutter. And we can only imagine the horror of the parents whose children, daughters, were directly involved.

Here is CNN's Whitney Casey.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Buckets were flying. Hands were flying. People were bleeding. Girls were unconscious. A girl got a bucket put on her head.

WHITNEY CASEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Students at this suburban Chicago high school describe the weekend's melee caught on tape, the aftermath of a powder puff football game, a tradition: junior girls vs. senior girls. Except, this year, the hazing got way out of hand, sending five girls to the hospital and injuring many more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, this is from a paint can being thrown at me and Tabasco sauce and vinegar and stuff like that in my eye, and just spam on my face, and fish guts, pig ears. There was pig intestine wrapped around my neck.

CASEY: Dr. Michael Riggle, the school principal, says, with the help of school deans, authorities have identified 50 of the girls on the tape. Criminal charges are pending. Dr. Riggle says alcohol was an escalating factor in the fracas. And another factor?

DR. MICHAEL RIGGLE, PRINCIPAL, GLENBROOK NORTH HIGH SCHOOL: And there were some similar actions that happened the year before, but nothing that we really were knowledgeable of. And I think that the girls had that done to them that year. And now this year, they have looked at that and said: This is something I have got anger about and I want to do the same thing to someone else.

CASEY: Some 200 people attended the off-campus game. Witnesses say buckets of animal and human waste were used in the hazing, along with paint thinner, blood, and spoiled food.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, I'm angry that this happened. I'm disgusted. I'm appalled 100 percent. I'm embarrassed to say that I go to Glenbrook North High School because of this. It's disgusting.

CASEY (on camera): And while some remain outraged here, others underscore that this one incident should not sully the academic achievements of this school, a school that, in 2003, will have 97 percent of its seniors go off to college.

And out of the 2,100 here in the student body, only 250 actually went to the powder puff game. However, the principal pointed out to us that many of the seniors he saw hazing on that videotape were some of the most accomplished A students, A students that may soon face, as late as Friday, criminal charges.

Whitney Casey, CNN, Northbrook, Illinois.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Our next guest is the author of "Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence." You ought to come to my house. That title, of course, doesn't include the reality of girls being pelted with the gore you just heard about. But we still thought that Rosalind Wiseman could give us some perspective. She joins us from Washington tonight.

Nice to see you.

ROSALIND WISEMAN, AUTHOR, "QUEEN BEES AND WANNABES": Nice to see you.

BROWN: Is it at all surprising that we're talking about girls here and not boys doing these disgusting things?

WISEMAN: No, I don't think it's surprising.

And I think the real issue is -- I was really struck by basically how kind the principal came across. But I think he's missing an important point, which is, I don't know if it's anger. What I think it is, it doesn't surprise me at all that these are A students and that these are maybe the stars of the school. This is really about a ritual that goes on. And sometimes these are the kids that are the most presentable that can do the most heinous acts.

BROWN: Is it that they -- I don't suppose you can read their minds, but if you want to take a whack at it, go ahead. Is it that this is something they get caught up in? These are smart kids, some of them at least. They don't think it through. They planned this? WISEMAN: Well, I think what happens is, is that there is a few main perpetrators, main bullies, and that there are mostly bystanders.

And what happens is, is that bystanders feel like they absolutely have to go with the bullies or else they're going to be targeted as well. And with hazing, I think what happens is that -- different than other kinds of bullying -- is that there's sort of this: You're lucky that we're doing this to you, because you are going to be the anointed seniors for next year. And so you're lucky that this is happening to you. This is a rite of passage that you should welcome.

And the other part of this is, if parents and educators don't see this as being within their jurisdiction, if they don't see that this is something that they need to care about, then what really happens is, is that people who are in control of the schools are these kids and not the parents and not the principal.

BROWN: Well, that's an interesting way to look at it. So parents and officials and police and the rest need to, figuratively here, knock some heads around?

WISEMAN: Well, I think what has to happen is, is the consequences have to be absolutely -- they have to hurt, basically. And what that means is -- and I know this is a funny thing for me to say, but it's not a popular thing to say -- in that it has to hurt, meaning if there were kids on that who were perpetrators and they were very good on the sports team, then they need to either be kicked off the team or they need to be taken off of particular games that really mean a lot, no matter how good they are.

These things need to be on college transcripts. They need to be -- the punishment needs to be so that the culture of the school, so that other kids think that the adults know it, they take it seriously, and the consequences are serious to them. And that really changes the dynamic. Now, the parents of the perpetrators will get really upset by that.

BROWN: Oh, man, they're going ballistic.

WISEMAN: Oh, I know. I know they are going to be.

But the problem is, if we don't give consequences that really make a difference, then really what happens is, is that these things will keep going on. And bullying comes in many different forms. It can come in hazing. It can come in school violence, like we saw in Pennsylvania recently. It can come in forms of abusive relationships. It comes in many different faces.

And if we don't address it in really consequential ways, then, again, the people who are in control are the kids who are doing it. And, oftentimes, what's so tricky is that those are the kids that are the most presentable. And that can be difficult. We like these kids. Most of the time, they're good kids.

BROWN: I'm going to try to cover a couple of things in the minute or so we have left. Do boys -- would boys act out differently than girls in this way? Is it a different -- would the actions be different?

WISEMAN: Well, what I think you're seeing in this situation is girls acting more traditionally like boys have done, right, because this was an athletic -- in some ways, an athletic endeavor -- and it was physical hazing. And girls, most of the time, don't do physical hazing. They do more things like gossiping or slandering each other or things of that nature that can be absolutely just as devastating. But I think what you're seeing here is girls acting more as traditionally as boys have done.

But I want to really emphasize that, no matter what, with girls and boys, the issue is, if we don't deal with these issues in consequential ways, in serious ways, what kids learn is that those kids who have power and privilege in their school get to do with that power and privilege what they want to kids who don't have it. And there's only two ways kids are going to look at that, which is: I want to be in the situation where I'm the perpetrator or I'm going to be the target.

And for some kids, it's really -- that's not a hard choice. You become the perpetrator the next year, which is what that principal talked about.

BROWN: I just can't imagine what it will be like if this ends up on high school transcripts, because parents are going to go nuts.

WISEMAN: Yes, I know. And I just cannot -- at some point, we have to take a stand as a community and say, this is not tolerable and what we're going to do is do the things that really are going to impact you. And, yes, it's going to be hard. It's going to be painful. But at what point are we going to say to kids: You have to be responsible for the things that you do that hurt other people?

BROWN: Rosalind, nice to have you with us. Thank you.

WISEMAN: Thank you.

BROWN: Rosalind Wiseman tonight.

Still to come on NEWSNIGHT: Just how vulnerable are the nation's chemical plants to a terrorist attack? Nice thing to think about tonight.

We'll take a break and be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Spent a lot of time over the weeks on the war in Iraq, the bombs falling, the tanks rolling. And the war on terror, with its far-flung raids and its captures.

But we ought not forget the war at home, the one to guard against terror. It is a defensive war. They don't always have the same fireworks, but it's enormously important, drama or no. And there are troubling signs that one part of securing the homeland hasn't gotten all the attention it needs.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So many people died from a chemical leak in Bhopal, India, in 1984 that a reliable count is hard to come by. Estimates range from 2,000 to 20,000.

(on camera): Could Bhopal happen here?

JEREMIAH BAUMANN, U.S. PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP: An American Bhopal is frighteningly possible.

MESERVE (voice-over): According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are 123 chemical facilities in the U.S. so close to major population centers that an accident or terrorist attack at any one of them could kill or injure more than a million people.

SEN. JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY: One of the great fears after 9/11 is, is that terrorists would use our infrastructure to attack us. One of the obvious places are chemical plants.

MESERVE: Government sources say Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, did surveillance of chemical facilities in Tennessee.

Though some plants have voluntarily toughened security since 9/11, Greenpeace has surreptitiously slipped into several facilities since then. And a recent GAO report says the extent of security preparedness is unknown.

But not until this week was administration-backed chemical security legislation introduced on Capitol Hill. It requires chemical plants to look at their vulnerabilities and develop plans to address them, but does not mandate that they be submitted to the Department of Homeland Security for review.

However, the department has the option of reviewing them and the ability to impose penalties.

Secretary Ridge calls it "a good model.

TOM RIDGE, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I think the best way to do that is work in partnership with them rather than mandate, regulating, and acting from day one as a police force.

MESERVE: But critics say the department is abdicating its responsibility to protect the public.

BAUMANN: That's just not the way to approach a significant security threat. Need mandatory standards that everybody is held accountable to.

MESERVE: Accidents regularly demonstrate the danger posed by some chemicals. And some fault the administration for failing to encourage safer technologies in its bill.

CORZINE: I think their proposal is analogous to duct tape and plastic as a solution.

MESERVE: Corzine points to a Washington, D.C., sewage treatment plant where highly toxic chlorine and sulfur dioxide were once the chemicals of choice.

MIKE MARCOTTE, BLUE PLAINS ADVANCED WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT: We had the possibility of a catastrophic release of a quantity of chemicals that could kill or injure hundreds of thousands of people, up into the National Mall and the central part of D.C.

MESERVE: After 9/11, the plant substituted more benign chemicals. But the chemical industry says that is not always a viable security solution.

MARTY DURBIN, AMERICAN CHEMISTRY COUNCIL: It's rarely as simple as just substituting one chemical for another, and then you magically have a safer process.

MESERVE (on camera): Critics say the administration tailored its legislation to meet the wants and needs of industry, that special interests trumped the public interest. Secretary Ridge calls that "an unfortunate characterization."

With 15,000 chemical facilities in the U.S., the debate has profound implications. It really is potentially a matter of life and death.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Still ahead on NEWSNIGHT, a lifetime of jokes. We'll talk with Bob Hope's daughter about their new book, about growing old, about growing up with Bob Hope.

Plus, the stories you'll be talking about tomorrow. That sounds like tomorrow morning's papers, doesn't it?

And back on the beat after flying the skies of Baghdad, around the world.

This must be NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ARTHEL NEVILLE, CNN ANCHOR: And hello, everyone, I'm Arthel Neville. Here's a check of the headlines at this hour.

U.S. intelligence officials say they may not be able to tell for sure whether a poor-quality audiotape was recorded Monday by Saddam Hussein. "The Sydney Morning Herald" obtained the tape. The voice on the tape calls for an underground uprising against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. The White House denies helping give a Halliburton Company subsidiary power to run Iraq's oil industry. Now, the firm won the contract without competition. Officials previously said it was for putting out fires and doing emergency repairs. Before becoming vice president, Dick Cheney ran Halliburton.

U.S. Customs agents say nearly 40,000 manuscripts and about 700 artifacts looted from the National Museum in Baghdad during the Iraq war are now recovered. In fact, they say there may be only a few dozen key pieces still missing. They believe professional thieves took them.

A veteran FBI agent's involvement with this woman has led to his indictment on espionage-related charges. Prosecutors say James Smith allowed Katrina Leon (ph) access to top-secret documents during their longtime affair. They say she passed those documents on to Beijing while acting as a double agent.

The police chief in Los Angeles says he thinks a lone arsonist is behind a string of fires targeting various houses of worship in the area. The most recent one was set today at a synagogue but was put out before it caused very serious damage. A counterterrorism unit is working on that case in the meantime.

Laci Peterson's family is endorsing a bill in Congress that would treat a violent crime against a pregnant woman as a crime against two people. The law would apply only in federal cases. Now, about half the states, including California, have such a law.

I'm Arthel Neville. Those are the headlines at this hour. Now back to Aaron Brown in New York with more NEWSNIGHT.

BROWN: Welcome back.

We want to spend the next few minutes visiting with a friend. For even though some of us have never had the privilege of meeting him, a friend is what Bob Hope is, to me, to anyone who grew up watching television, not to mention millions of lonely troops stuck in places they'd sooner not be.

Mr. Hope turns 100 later this month.

In a moment, we'll be joined by his daughter Linda. First, though, a word about her dad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BOB HOPE: I'm thrilled to be here at Osan Air Base, Korea.

Nice to be here at Anh Kayh (ph).

Happy to be here. I don't know where the hell we are, but I'm happy.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BROWN (voice-over): Bob Hope is an icon. And to thousands of veterans, he is also a saint. Thanks to him, they got music and jokes, beautiful Hollywood starlets, and, most of all, a break from war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOPE: I just want you boys to see what you're fighting for, that's all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Bob Hope has lived a most eventful century. When he changed his name from Leslie to Bob at 21, because he thought Bob would look better on marquees, the marquees were vaudeville's. And from vaudeville he went to Broadway, where he met Delores Reed (ph), a fellow performer who awed him from the audience and would become his wife.

HOPE: After the show one night, he said, Do you want to hear a pretty girl sing? And I said yes. And he (UNINTELLIGIBLE) off at the Vogel Club. And Delores stepped on the stage and sang. I said, Yes. And just about four months later, we were married.

BROWN: Hope did radio too. In fact, he had a regular radio broadcast every Tuesday night from 1938 through 1956. And there were also movies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOPE: Ah, this is awful!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the matter?

HOPE: I ain't got room for her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: When Hollywood called, Hope responded. His first major feature film was "The Big Broadcast of 1938." It had not only showed the world Bob Hope, it gave us his song.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1938")

HOPE (singing): Thanks for the memories of rainy afternoons, swinging Harlem tunes...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Bob Hope went on to star with many greats, among them Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, who did seven Road pictures together.

Unlike many of his peers, Bob Hope never hosted his own regular TV program. Instead, he hosted some 300 Bob Hope specials and hosted the Academy Awards 18 times. He won five special awards from the Academy, but he never actually won the highly coveted Oscar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOPE: Welcome to the Academy Awards. Or, as it's known at my house, Passover.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So what has kept Bob Hope going for 100 years?

PHYLLIS DILLER, COMEDIENNE: He didn't work at anything. In other words, you know what I mean, he was enjoying. It wasn't work. He loved it. And when he -- when you do something with love, it keeps you alive forever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOPE: I'd like a rabies shot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Or we can hope.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: We're joined by Linda Hope, her father's daughter. And along with him, the co-author of "Bob Hope: My Life in Jokes."

Nice to have you with us.

LINDA HOPE, BOB HOPE'S DAUGHTER: Thanks, Aaron.

BROWN: How's your dad?

LINDA HOPE: Lovely to be here. He is, for a man just about to be 100, pretty amazing. He's, you know, needless to say, slowed down measurably, but he's enjoying his life, and I think really looking forward to being 100.

BROWN: How -- are you planning a big party, small party, no party? How are you going to handle all that?

LINDA HOPE: Well, we sort of debated this among all the family members and decided since he's been 100, he's had every imaginable kind of birthday. So we're just going to kind of keep it quiet and have mainly family and a few close friends.

BROWN: The -- this is an odd question to ask, perhaps. Was your dad at the dinner table, was your dad funny?

LINDA HOPE: He was amazingly funny. And really so much fun. He was, I think, more like one of the kids than like a parent. And my poor mother was, I think, ready to pull her hair out a lot of times, because she wanted to try and keep us in the right mode, teach us manners and all the things that you need to be happy in life.

BROWN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

LINDA HOPE: And all of a sudden, a napkin would come sailing out of the end of the table from Dad. And, you know, he pretty much was like another kid in a lot of ways.

BROWN: There are people who -- and the book gets into this some -- there are people who would say that your dad really wasn't funny- funny in that way, but what he was, was a wonderful editor of other people's jokes. He had a wonderful team of writers who came up with great material. He was able to figure out what worked for him, what didn't.

You think both things true, that he was inherently funny, and a wonderful editor?

LINDA HOPE: I think it -- absolutely, because I think being a wonderful editor is one part of what is -- was his job, comedy. But the delivery and the sense of fun and the sort of pixie quality and sort of bad-boy thing, that was Dad. And I personally find him -- his personal humor, his sense of humor, his take on things so much more interesting in many respects than the carefully honed jokes.

BROWN: He could do -- he's always, I think -- it's quite delightful. He could do political humor without ever seeming to offend anyone. It was quite different from the political humor of today.

LINDA HOPE: Well, I think that he kind of had the sense that you never knew who was going to be in next, so you wanted to be careful of the people coming up. And then, you know, it came out of a real respect for the office of the president, for example. And he had fun, he knew these men personally, he knew sort of the limit and where he could go with the humor.

And it was never at them. And it was about things they were involved with, and so on, but it wasn't a personal attack.

BROWN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

LINDA HOPE: And I think that made it tolerable.

BROWN: A couple more quick ones, if I can. Did he, does he, does he, did he enjoy, when he was out there being Bob Hope, enjoy celebrity, enjoy people coming up to him, autograph seekers, picture takers, all the rest? He enjoy that?

LINDA HOPE: I think so. I think he -- I don't know about the celebrity part. But he enjoyed people. He was really very much of a people people and loved to have people come up to him in the airport or wherever and say, Hey, Bob, saw you in So-and-so. And he enjoyed that.

BROWN: Anything professionally disappoint him, seriously disappoint him, or did he accomplish pretty much what he wanted?

LINDA HOPE: I think he really pretty much accomplished what he wanted to accomplish.

BROWN: Yes. Your mom is well?

LINDA HOPE: Mother is terrific. She's going to...

BROWN: It's (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

LINDA HOPE: ... be 94 this birthday.

BROWN: I was going to say, I -- they've been married, what, 60- plus years.

LINDA HOPE: Sixty-nine, 69 years, yes.

BROWN: In any community, that's a remarkable thing in Hollywood. That's...

LINDA HOPE: Unheard-of, practically.

BROWN: Yes. You must be -- it must have been a hoot growing up Bob Hope's daughter.

LINDA HOPE: Lots of laughs, lots of fun.

BROWN: Yes. Best of luck with the book, and...

LINDA HOPE: Thanks, Aaron.

BROWN: ... we're great fans of your dad, and he made us all laugh, and we wish him nothing but the best.

LINDA HOPE: Thanks a lot.

BROWN: Thank you.

Still to come on NEWSNIGHT, we'll take a look at tomorrow's news tonight. Man, we are so good that we can do that. We'll look at tomorrow morning's papers.

And then later, moonlighting A-10 pilots back from the war and back to 9:00 to 5:00.

We'll take a break first. This is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: All right. Time to -- I did that again, I did that last night too. I don't know why I start by saying "All right."

Time to check morning papers from around the country.

And around the country, there is kind of a theme in the papers today, but it's not apparent in the first one, so why did I mention it? Beats me.

"Boston Herald," I love this headline, though, "Deja Mew." Mew. Mew, Aaron. "Cops Raid Another Home of the Cat Lady." I think they -- it wasn't really a front-page story, but they loved the headline so much they put it on there.

OK, here's where I think the theme is. Maybe it was a slow news day around the country. Sports seems to be on the front page of lots of papers.

"The Oregonian," the newspaper of Portland, Oregon, "Team Due in New Direction," Paul Allen," that's who Allen is, the co-founder of Microsoft, "Whitsitt, Blazers Split," big shakeup for the Portland Trailblazers. Those of them who aren't in court today will be reading about this when it to their front door. So there's one sports story.

"The Washington Times," which has a lot of stories on the front page, "Wizards Sever Ties with Jordan." Can you imagine firing Michael Jordan? I mean, come on, anyway. The Washington Wizards -- they used to be the Bullets, is that what they were? -- fired, basically, Michael Jordan, who used to be their president, and then was their guard, and thought he was going to be president again.

They also down here at the bottom do a feature on Dennis Miller. "Patriotism Gets the Last Laugh." I think he's on the program either this week or next. I'm not sure. One of those days, though.

Sports again in "The Dallas Morning News." "Will Wilson" -- Don Wilson -- "Be Gone?" He's the basketball coach of the Dallas Mavericks, and the -- but the best story in the Dallas paper, to my mind, anyway, "Tulia to Get House Review."

This is a great story. All these people that were arrested, mostly wrongfully arrested, on judge -- drug charges in a small Texas town. One witness, an undercover officer, apparently perjured himself. And it's been going on, hasn't gotten nearly the coverage it should, he believes.

Twenty seconds. "San Francisco Chronicle," down in the corner, "Adoption by Partners Poised to Be Upheld," a gay rights story in "The San Francisco Chronicle."

And just so you know, the weather in Chicago, according to "The Chicago Sun Times, "Blah."

We'll take a break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Finally from us tonight, with the return of the "Abraham Lincoln," the 82nd Airborne and many more ships and units and air wings to come, it struck us. We see so many homecomings, but very little of home, not a dock or an airfield or a barracks, but home- home. That's our final destination tonight.

Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After flying up to three missions a day over Iraq in his A-10 attack plane, Mike Webb is back home in Idaho flying Frisbees. The husband and father of two is in the Idaho Air National Guard, which means he serves part-time in the Air Force. So it's now time to go back to work.

Mike Webb is a cop.

MIKE WEBB, A-10 ATTACK PILOT: I enjoy serving the public. I enjoy the relationships.

TUCHMAN: He's the leader of Boise's Criminal Investigation Division, and he's now back at the office for the first time in five months.

WEBB: See if I have a key still that works. Look at that!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They didn't change the lock on you. That's good.

TUCHMAN: He receives an enthusiastic welcome back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you.

WEBB: Good to see you, buddy. How are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glad you came back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.

WEBB: Hi.

(CROSSTALK)

WEBB: How's it going? How you doing?

TUCHMAN: Mike Webb may be a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, but he's a captain in the police department who has a lot of catching up to do.

WEBB: That was the DNA test that we got on the guy from the North End homicide, that's correct. So we made him for two homicides? That's perfect.

TUCHMAN: The Boise police boss is Donald Pierce.

DONALD PIERCE, POLICE CHIEF, BOISE, IDAHO: He's going to have to get up to speed on the budget process and figure out where we are. But Mike's quick. He'll hit the ground running, and after a couple of days, it'll be like he was never gone.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Police Captain Mike Webb's transition is not unique. One-third of the Air Force pilots and support personnel who served in the war are part-timers, which means, in the Air Force alone, there are approximately 37,000 war veterans who will blend back into civilian life. (voice-over): And after the adrenaline rush of the war, there is no guarantee it will be easy. Mike Webb risked his life on a daily basis, appearing live on CNN at the beginning of the war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEBB: I spent a mission off near a town called Nasiriyah, where they shot surface-to-air missiles at A-10 pilots. Thank God I was successful and not shot down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: And then there was the heroes' welcome home to Boise this week, as he and his Air National Guard colleagues flew back in their A-10s and saw their loved ones for the first time in months.

Mike Webb says he is elated to be back with his family and his job. However...

WEBB: If they called me to go back right now, I'd get on the airplane. I'd say goodbye to my family first, but I would. I mean, that's what we're here for. I'm a citizen soldier for the Idaho Air Guard, and I'd be more than willing to go pay the price again.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Boise, Idaho.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: That's our report for tonight. Good to have you with us. Hope you'll be with us again tomorrow evening, 10:00 Eastern time. We'll all be here. Till then, good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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