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CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS

Saddam Hussein's daughters in Jordan

Aired July 31, 2003 - 17:00   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we begin with a developing story from the Pentagon. You're going to learn what may improve the odds of catching Saddam Hussein.
WOLF BLITZER REPORTS begins right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN (voice-over): Kobe Bryant's battle begins, not on the court but in court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no doubt about it. What's inside the warrant is the core of the prosecution's case.

KAGAN: A Colorado judge decides whether or not to let in the sunlight on (unintelligible).

Saddam's daughters find safe haven as the county for their brothers (unintelligible).

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Secretary Powell today approved the payment of a $30 million reward.

KAGAN: Liberia sinks deeper into civil war, now a new promise and deadline. Will peacekeepers finally send Charles Taylor packing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are coming in here because of the humanitarian problem. People are being killed.

KAGAN: Soaring like Superman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just see the forward speed but you don't see the speed down which feels like real flying.

KAGAN: One man's daring feat, flying the English Channel.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: It is Thursday, July 31, 2003. We're at CNN Center in Atlanta. Hello everyone, I'm Daryn Kagan reporting today. Wolf has the day off.

It is the case of he-said versus she-said but we may not know, find out exactly what Kobe Bryant and his accuser are saying before the trial starts. Our Josie Burke was at today's very closely watched hearing in Eagle, Colorado - Josie, hello.

JOSIE BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, we actually still a couple hours into this hearing and it's going on right now. We can show you a live picture of Courtroom 1, here at the Eagle County Justice Center where the deputy district attorney for Eagle County Greg Crittenden is making the case that these court files in this sexual assault case should remain closed and the public shouldn't know what the allegations are specifically that are being made by the 19- year-old alleged victim.

He just said that already the jury pool has been tainted and he accused the media of pre-trying this case. Earlier we heard from a lawyer representing the media, including CNN, and he said that Kobe Bryant has already waived his right to privacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER BEALL, MEDIA ATTORNEY: The defendant has asserted that the release of the arrest warrant and the search warrant and affidavits will harm his right to privacy; however, the defendant has made admissions on international television of a sexual relationship that he says is consensual with the victim. That statement is a waiver of his right of privacy with respect to those facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKE: The judge hearing the arguments today, Frederick Gannett, has already come out and said he will not make a ruling on this issue today and he said he very well may not have a ruling by next Wednesday. That's when Kobe Bryant is expected to next appear before him to hear the charges formally read against him - Daryn.

KAGAN: Josie Burke in Eagle, Colorado, thank you for that.

Our Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin has been following the latest developments and he's joining us now. He is in New York, Jeff, good to see you.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, Daryn.

KAGAN: Let's start with what is happening inside that courtroom right now. Unbelievably you have something that both sides - that agree on. The defense and the prosecution both say let's keep these documents sealed for now.

TOOBIN: Yes, what could unite the defense and prosecution, well they all hate the press but then everybody hates the press so I guess there wouldn't be too much of a surprise there.

It's actually been a very interesting debate in court about some really fundamental values in the judicial system that are clearly in conflict here. On the one hand, you have the right to - the public's right to know, First Amendment rights of the press. On the other hand, you have the defendant's right to a fair trial, the Sixth Amendment right. And, the judge based on the little bit he said seems quite torn about this issue and, as Josie said, he's not going to decide until next week at the earliest.

KAGAN: But in some respects this is a judge that's already losing patients with some aspects of the media. Tell us about this decorum order he's issued.

TOOBIN: Yes and we could all use a little more decorum.

KAGAN: Well that we could.

TOOBIN: That's right but the judge issued a three page, single- spaced order about decorum, about how the press is to behave so that the court will be able to continue its other business, people will be able to go in and out freely but it's an extremely restrictive order, no photographs, no conversations between journalists and anybody connected with the trial in the courthouse, no photographing of the victim.

Even though the respectable press does not photograph rape victims or alleged rape victims a lot of lawyers are very concerned about the idea of a court telling the news media what they can and can't photograph so this is an extremely restrictive order and the judge has suggested he may modify it but he's also said, look, we are not going to let you turn this place upside down and I think everybody sympathizes with him on that score.

KAGAN: Well, there are some media reports that are kind of out of control; in fact, there are some media reports from major organizations out there today that report that there was consensual sexual acts, certain acts between Kobe Bryant and the alleged victim but that the intercourse was not consensual. How might that change the prosecution and how they handle this case?

TOOBIN: Well, this is one of the areas where there's the law on the books and there's the law in the real world. On the books, it is absolutely clear that a woman has the right to say no even in the middle of a sex act. No means no and just because you start doesn't mean you have to continue.

However, in the real world juries are very suspicious of victims' stories that involve partial consent and withdrawn consent. So, if this story is true, and certainly we're going to need to know a lot more to make an informed judgment about whether this story is true but if it is true it suggests a problem in the prosecution's case.

KAGAN: And, finally, Kobe Bryant did not need to be in the courthouse today but he will very soon.

TOOBIN: He'll be there next Wednesday. Next Wednesday is the really official beginning of the case. He'll be advised of the charges against him and the judge will set a preliminary hearing date sometime perhaps in - the usual practice in Colorado is in about 30 days where there will be a preliminary hearing and there certainly much of the government's case will be laid out in public.

KAGAN: All right, Jeffrey Toobin in New York thank you for that.

TOOBIN: OK, Daryn.

KAGAN: Now, we go to our viewers. It is your turn now to weigh in on the story. Our web question of the day: "Can Kobe Bryant get a fair trial"? You can vote at cnn.com/wolf and while you're there we'd actually like to hear from you. Send us your comments and we just might read some of them at the end of this program.

Other news now, the lawyer for Carlton Dotson has some big problems with an article in this morning's "Dallas Morning News." The article is based on a jailhouse interview with Dotson. Dotson, of course, is charged in the murder of fellow basketball player Patrick Dennehy.

The woman who conducted the interview is the intern, or actually one of the interns, with the "Dallas Morning News." She claims that Dotson himself suggested the shooting was in self defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHANI GEORGE, "DALLAS MORNING NEWS" INTERN: He posed the scenario if someone were pointing a gun at you what would you do? And, I told him I've never been in that situation and I asked him exactly what did he do if that's what happened to him and he responded, again, if someone pointed a gun at you and it didn't go off and you saw them putting bullets into the gun what would you do? And, that's how he replied.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: Well, understandably the attorney for Carlton Dotson is none too happy with these statements coming out. Our Ed Lavandera is in Waco, Texas now with more on the case - Ed, what do you have?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn.

Well, Grady Irvin, who is Carlton Dotson's attorney tells CNN that he is under the impression that this intern for the "Dallas Morning News" got into the jail yesterday under a false pretense, the attorney for Carlton Dotson saying that he believes that this woman identified herself as someone who was praying for Carlton Dotson and portrayed herself as someone who was part of a prayer group and that she never identified herself as a reporter.

Although, Grady Irvin when I asked him about if he would comment on the specific quotes that Carlton Dotson reportedly gave to the newspaper he would not comment on this.

The "Dallas Morning News" standing firmly behind the report today saying the intern did present herself as a reporter, that Carlton Dotson knew full well who he was talking to and that they had sent in an intern after one of their own reporters had trouble convincing Carlton Dotson to talk to him and they decided to try a different approach.

And, that's why they went with the intern but the "Dallas Morning News" standing by its report saying that the intern had explained incredibly well to Carlton Dotson who she was and what the questions were for - Daryn.

KAGAN: Meanwhile, this must be a very frustrating job for this attorney because Carlton Dotson does now have a history of talking with people when his attorney is not present.

LAVANDERA: That is part of the deal as well. This interview that was conducted in or this meeting it was ten minutes long that took place inside this jail in Maryland and there was no one else in the room, so after the intern had gotten inside the jail it was just her and Carlton Dotson talking.

And, we've spoken with jail officials up in Maryland as well today who say that none of those discussions are ever recorded so whatever happened in that room is between the intern and Carlton Dotson.

KAGAN: All right, Ed Lavandera in Waco, Texas, thank you for that.

Escape from Iraq Saddam's daughters make a desperate dash to freedom, find out what they plan to do next and also where they are staying now.

Also, the many faces of Saddam, the Pentagon comes up with a new picture to show us what he may look like now.

And, it's a bird, it's a plane, or it's really a man flying across the English Channel, the story of a super hero, a super hero sky surfer, first though today's News Quiz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN (voice-over): In which country did man first soar into the sky, China, Russia, France, or Canada? The answer is coming up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: There is a twist today in the international hunt surrounding Saddam Hussein. The deposed Iraqi leader's two eldest daughters have emerged. They are in Jordan safely under the wing of the monarchy there.

Our Jane Arraf is in Amman and she joins us now by video phone and I understand, Jane, there is a wedding very close by so that will be the music that we hear in the background of your report.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, absolutely true.

It's a traditional wedding night, Thursday night in the Arab world and probably some muted celebration as well where the two daughters are staying. They are Rana and Raghad and they are the eldest and middle daughters of Saddam Hussein.

Now, even for a family like Saddam Hussein, these two women have had a very rough ride. The last time they were in Jordan was 1995. They came with their husbands, Hussein and Saddam Kamel who defected. They were lured back to Jordan and their husbands were killed and the shootouts quite similar to that which killed their two brothers last week, Uday and Qusay the two eldest and youngest sons of Saddam.

Now, the government here has put out a statement saying the royal family has extended help to these people, that it was a humanitarian gesture and has no political connotations. A source close to the family tells us that they asked to come and the family here just couldn't say no - Daryn.

KAGAN: Jane Arraf reporting from Amman, Jordan thank you for that.

Let's take a look at this complex family tree of Saddam Hussein. He has had multiple wives. His first wife Sajida had sons Uday and Qusay. They are now dead. Daughters Raghad and Rana who you just heard Jane Arraf talking about they're now in Jordan. Then, there's another daughter Hala said to be his favorite daughter.

The whereabouts of Sajida and Hala are still a mystery at this point. Saddam's second wife Samira produced his youngest son Ali. He is now in his 20s. The whereabouts of Samira and Ali are also unknown.

Then, there are rumors of a third wife, Iman, who Saddam Hussein may have married just before this year's war and if, in fact, that's true no one knows where she is at this time either.

Well, Uday and Qusay Hussein, as you know, were killed in a firefight last week in Mosul. It was a tipster who led U.S. forces to the brothers and today the U.S. made good on the multimillion dollar price on their heads.

Our State Department Correspondent Andrea Koppel now brings us details on a very large check - Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Daryn.

An unidentified Iraqi informant is soon going to be $30 million richer that thanks to a tip that he gave to the U.S. military last week which led to the deaths of Saddam Hussein's two sons Uday and Qusay in that house in Mosul in northern Iraq.

Now, each of the sons had a $15 million bounty on his head. Saddam Hussein has a $25 million bounty on his head and the State Department said that today Secretary of State Powell made sure to expedite the approval of this $30 million bounty in order to try to encourage other Iraqis to come forward with information.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOUCHER: It's important first of all to show people that we do what we say we're going to do, to make clear to people that if we make an offer like this we're going to stand behind it, to make clear to people that this is very important to us and we do sincerely appreciate the effort that this individual made and the risk that the took.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOPPEL: Now, in order to spread the word about the bounty on Saddam Hussein's head a State Department official tells CNN that the Rewards for Justice Program, which has been in effect for about 19 years, is now putting together matchboxes that have Saddam Hussein's picture on them and also information about that $25 million bounty as a way to encourage Iraqis to come forward. They'll be spreading them throughout the country in coming days.

But one final note, Daryn, it's still unclear as to how this informant is going to get his money. He hasn't told the U.S. yet. He could get it in a wire transfer. He could get it in a check or in cash but, as one State Department official told me, he said if it's cash we're talking about a lot of suitcases - Daryn.

KAGAN: Any way you slice it you're talking about a lot of money, Andrea Koppel at the State Department thank you for that.

Another picture of the story in Iraq is looking for weapons of mass destruction. David Kay is the CIA's top expert on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He has been in closed door meetings with Senators all day long. This is Senator Rockefeller talking about the meeting with David Kay, the CIA consultant on WMD.

(BREAKING NEWS)

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), INTELL. VICE CHMN.: The progress and are they going to lead to what it was that we went to war for, which was to deter the imminent threat upon the United States people and to what extent the progress that we're making is preliminary in its nature and I only say that as a cautionary note because I think it's very important not to either lower or raise expectations in this pursuit.

I am hopeful. I don't know whether I'm confident or not but I certainly am hopeful that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction and I think there's a very good chance of that. Both were very helpful in that respect and I think both indicated very clearly that their findings were preliminary and not yet settled - Dr. Kay.

DAVID KAY, FMR. U.N. WEAPONS INSP.: Well, I have very little to add. I will say I think we are making solid progress. It is as with most progress, it is preliminary. We're not at the final stage of understanding fully Iraq's WMD program or having found WMD weapons.

It's going to take time. The Iraqis had over two decades to develop these weapons and hiding them was an essential part of their program so it's not an easy task but we are - and we're not close to a final conclusion yet but we are making progress. I think the basis for that progress is solid in terms of the people and capabilities we have there. I would emphasize I think the American people should be prepared for surprises. We have an outstanding team of Americans, Australians, and Brits working together with the best technology that this country can provide.

My experience is when you get good people together with good equipment and they're well led that they usually out perform your expectations of how they move. I think it's very likely that we will discover remarkable surprises in this enterprise. We certainly hope that's true but we're prepared for the long haul as well.

ROCKEFELLER: General Dayton.

MAJ. GEN. KEITH DAYTON, IRAQ SURVEY GROUP: I would just like to add that this is a coalition effort. We have Australians and British along with Americans doing this and we have assembled a very powerful team of analysts, interrogators, technicians, specialists, people who do captured material exploitation.

It's a really phenomenal group. Really nothing like this has been assembled before and if there's going to be stuff out there to find we're definitely going to find it and I share Senator Rockefeller's hopefulness on this. I'm more confident with every week that goes by that success is coming soon. Thank you.

ROCKEFELLER: Any questions, and please remember these gentlemen have been before hearings now for about six or seven hours today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, what is it that has been found...

KAGAN: We were listening in a little bit there to David Kay, once again the top CIA consultant on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and also Major General Keith Dayton. He is head of the Pentagon's Iraq's Survey Group talking about weapons of mass destruction and the search for those weapons that still continues inside Iraq.

Firebombing in Long Island, an alleged hate crime in New York, you're going to find out who has been arrested in that story.

Plus, what Saddam may look like now, more on the Pentagon's plan to track him down if he has changed his appearance.

And, he was involved in the Iran Contra scandal and designed a website for betting on terror attacks, find out what is next for John Poindexter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: For many immigrants the United States is where the jobs are. New arrivals often live in close quarters and they take on work that others will not. But not everyone welcomes them with open arms.

For instance, in New York today four teenagers have been charged with a hate crime for firebombing the residence of an immigrant family. Our Maria Hinojosa has that story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just hours after July 4th fireworks the rest of America was celebrating freedom but the home of a family of Mexican immigrants was torched and the trauma of hate for a young immigrant child began. "I worried my baby brother would die in there" she said. They escaped but the horror remains.

On Thursday, Long Island authorities said four teenagers, 15 to 18 years old, attacked this family on purpose, charged with reckless endangerment and arson both as hate crimes.

THOMAS SPOTS, SUFFOLK COUNTY D.A.: They targeted this particular house because there were Mexicans involved, rather living in the house.

HINOJOSA: Inside that house was a young couple, a friend, a five-year-old and a one-year-old baby.

COMM. JOHN GALLAGHER, SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE: A crime that in effect cries out for justice, these individuals in their own way incited fires of hate that could have, could have resulted in the deaths of every individual in that home.

HINOJOSA: This isn't the first time Mexican immigrants on Long Island have been targeted in an alleged hate crime. Three years ago two day laborers were nearly beaten to death. Two men were convicted of hate crimes in that case but the potential connection to the firebombing is eerie.

REV. ALLAN RAMIREZ, NASSAU COUNTY HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION: It happens to be next door to the home where two day laborers used to live, where they were picked up and then brutally beaten approximately two and a half years ago. So, I knew immediately that some red flags were going to go up.

HINOJOSA: Anti-immigrant groups protest almost every week where day laborers father to find work. They say they don't want undocumented Mexicans living here and want immigration officials to arrest them all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty disgusting every time you pull into a 7-Eleven, especially this area that, you know, you're surrounded by Mexicans that are looking for work. Well, you know what I want to hire somebody who's going to pay taxes.

HINOJOSA: The friction in this community is palpable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody I know here doesn't like them.

HINOJOSA: The arrests may bring some closure to the (unintelligible) family but the fear among Latino immigrants in Long Island persists.

"It could have been me" she says. "It could have been a family closer to me. It hurts." (END VIDEOTAPE)

HINOJOSA: The four young men were arraigned on Thursday. Prosecutors say a fifth teen suspect is being investigated and may be charged as well. If the teens are convicted of these hate crimes they face sentences of three and a half to 15 years in prison - Daryn.

KAGAN: And, Maria, what was it exactly that led police to these teenagers?

HINOJOSA: There was someone who gave them some information a few days after it happened and they said that they started tagging them, watching all of their movements, but it came from someone in the community who knew what they had done or suspected what they had done - Daryn.

KAGAN: Maria Hinojosa in New York thank you for that.

I want to bring you up to date now on another story we told you about. You might recall that when we told you a while back about dozens of mutilations of cats in a Salt Lake City, Utah neighborhood, there was a great fear that the cats were the victims of a sadistic human or humans.

But now investigators say the remains of the cats they tested show they were actually attacked by natural predators. They say the unfortunate cats were probably killed by hungry foxes that starve down from foothills - actually stray down from foothills over the area. It's still not a bad idea to keep those cats indoors, so to the cat owner I say please do that.

The changing face of Saddam Hussein, find out the Pentagon's new strategy for tracking down the fallen dictator.

Also, Saddam's daughters had their husbands killed and now they've escaped from Iraq. We're going to hear why one government has decided to give asylum to the daughters of Saddam Hussein.

And, he flew across the English Channel with only a hope and a prayer and no engine. You'll find out why and how he did.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: A new strategy to get Saddam Hussein that story still ahead on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: Welcome back to CNN. Saddam on the run. But has he changed his appearance? The Pentagon is making plans just in case.

First, though, the latest headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)

KAGAN: Is it possible that Saddam Hussein is moving freely through the streets of Iraq unnoticed? U.S. forces scouring Iraq have found another tool that could help them sort him out of a crowd.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us now. She has more on these new photos that are circulating through the soldiers on the hunt.

Barbara, hello.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Daryn.

Well, CNN learned earlier today that the CIA has developed six digitally altered photographs of Saddam Hussein, trying to project what he might look like after spending several weeks on the run. They are giving these photographs to soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division and other units in northern Iraq that have been conducting those raises and patrols, looking for Saddam Hussein. We are told that the pictures show several different variations: Saddam with long hair, Saddam without his trademark mustache, Saddam possibly with a beard and Saddam with gray hair because, of course, the pictures the world has seen for so many decades have been of a very much older man with jet black hair, the assumption being maybe he hasn't had time on the road to maintain that black hair, if you will.

So these pictures now being distributed. What officials wonder is if Saddam has actually been moving about a fair amount in civilian vehicles and maybe slipping past some patrols. They have been working with a profiler to try and determine, try and project what his method, his most likely method of moving about might be. And one of the reasons they are concerned about this is they have now learned that the sons, Uday and Qusay, just before they were found in that house in Mosul, they had been moving around in a garbage truck. So now this new effort to try and find him and catch him.

Now earlier today in Baghdad, General Ricardo Sanchez, one of the top U.S. commanders, talked about the rumors that keep flying around about how close the U.S. is to getting Saddam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GEN. RICARDO SANCHEZ, COALITION GROUND FORCES: I don't know where that's coming from.

QUESTION: It's coming from -- U.S. Officials are saying it, some of them quite sincere.

SANCHEZ: OK. OK. I mean, U.S. officials, but come on now. It is -- we are -- we would not be telling you that we are hours away from capturing Saddam or days away or anything like that. I mean, this is -- this is an intelligence-based operation. This is a very difficult, complex environment that we've been operating in. And we continue to focus on this and we are going to be successful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: So, Daryn, the trail remains quite warm, and they are still on the hunt -- Daryn. KAGAN: And Barbara, in light of this hunt still going on, is there any reaction out of the Pentagon out of this news that two of Saddam's daughters have shown up in Jordan as the guests, or at least with protection of the Jordanian government. Are these people that the Pentagon would like to talk to?

STARR: Well, there has always been a sort of feeling within the U.S. administration that the women may have some information, but may not really have information all that central.

We do know that U.S. officials have talked to at least one of Saddam's wives. That has been confirmed. Again, trying to get a sense of where they think he might run to , here he might have gone. But so far, no indication that they're going to cause any trouble for these women that are now in Jordan.

KAGAN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you for that.

An ever-present aspect of life for American forces in Iraq is the simple everyday danger. Guerrilla fighters killed two more U.S. soldiers in the past 24 hours, and our Rym Brahimi is live in Baghdad. She has details on that story.

Rym, hello.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The soldiers from the 1st Armored Division was killed when his vehicle hit a landmine. In that same incident, three other U.S. soldiers were wounded. And last night a U.S. Soldier lost his life, killed by small arms fire. In that same incident, six other people were wounded, two of them U.S. soldiers, also from the 4th Infantry Division and four Iraqis.

Rym Brahimi, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: Rym, thank you for that.

Two hundred and forty-nine U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq since the war began, and 166 of them were killed by hostile fire.

Will Iraqis be heading to the polls as soon as next year? Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, says an election by mid-2004 would not be unrealistic. He says it depends on how long it takes the Iraqi Governing Council to write a constitution and have it approved by the Iraqi people.

Well, as we mentioned, Jordan has provided safe haven to Saddam Hussein's two oldest daughters. The kingdom calls it a humanitarian gesture.

Joining us on the phone right now is the Jordanian information minister, Nabil Sharif.

Mr. Sharif, thanks for phoning in.

NABIL SHARIF, JORDANIAN INFORMATION MINISTER: You're welcome.

KAGAN: Can you tell us exactly why the Jordanian government thought it was a good idea to provide safe haven to the two oldest daughters of Saddam Hussein?

SHARIF: Yes, Jordan really carried out this move purely on humanitarian reasons, and basically these women are in Jordan right now, and they are the guests of the country and the guests of His Majesty. And this step should not really be interpreted on political reasons or should not be given political interpretation whatsoever.

KAGAN: Can you tell us exactly where they are and do they intend to stay in Jordan? Or is this a just place for them to find a safe haven and they intend to move on?

SHARIF: Well, they are somewhere in Amman -- in the capital, Amman. They are the guests of His Majesty, King Abdullah, and they are, as far as their next move, really we have no idea. We have no confirmation. But they are in Jordan and they are our guest. And, of course, as being guests, they are welcome to stay. They are welcome to move on. But my impression is that they are in Jordan to stay.

KAGAN: Did the king or any members of the government check with the U.S. government before providing this safe haven?

SHARIF: I'm sure that that step would not have been taken without prior consultation, without agreement between all the concerned parties. This is a legal step. It was done in the open and with the consent of all concerned parties.

KAGAN: And does this invitation have anything to do with the fact that these two women came with their husbands back in 1995 in what was then going to be an attempted coup of Iraq? Their families eventually went back and both of their husbands were killed, it's believed at this point by the two sons Uday and Qusay Hussein.

SHARIF: This is totally unrelated, actually. It just happened; a coincidence that this is the second time around these two particular women seek asylum in Jordan, come to Jordan for refuge. It just is an incident of history that this is repeated for the second time. Unfortunately in the first time, their husbands were -- went back and killed by the ex-Iraqi president.

But again, as I said, for us in Jordan, we do not really view this as a political measure at all. We look at it only as a humanitarian measure.

KAGAN: Well, and on that note, there are still several members of Saddam Hussein's family that are unaccounted for. There are other children; there are wives. Would they, too, be welcomed in Jordan?

SHARIF: There is no decision on that issue until now whatsoever to move along or to reject. What we know is these two daughters have been given permission. They are the guests of the king. But as for the next move, other members of the family, I really have no comment right now.

KAGAN: All right. Nabil Sharif, the Jordanian information minister -- sir, thank you for the information and for your time today. Much appreciated.

And for those of us who -- for those of you who weren't with us at the top of the newscast, we're talking about Rahad and Rana, his two oldest daughters who have now taken asylum in the country of Jordan, in Amman, according to Mr. Sharif.

Well, a man who went coast to coast in seven minutes. You're going to find out what he was doing up there and where he landed.

But first, though, here's a quick a look at other news making headlines "Around the World."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN (voice-over): The harshest sentence yet by the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal. A former Bosnian-Serb mayor got a life sentence for extermination, murder and persecution during the Bosnian war. He was aquitted of genocide.

Peru has formally asked Japan to extradite Alberto Fujimori. The former Peruvian president was charged with ordering death squads slayings of suspected rebels. Tokyo though is baulking at the request because it has no extradition treaty with Peru.

The Vatican is calling on Catholic politicians worldwide to oppose same-sex marriages and adoption. Church leaders say that laws allowing gay unions and adoptions are harmful and supporting them is gravely immoral.

208 miles an hour. A British rail speed record thanks to the Eurostar. Work is complete on the new high-speed segment of the channel tunnel, shaving 20 minutes off the trip to Paris. Work on the final 24-mile section is scheduled to be finished in 2007.

The world's most adventurous wind surfers are in Spain's Canary Islands. It's the sport's first supercross competition. It combines the usual race course with freestyle moves, tricks, and obstacle jumps.

And meet Roboshark, the newest addition to the shark tank at Britain's National Marine Aquarium. Researchers are using the machine to study shark body language and intelligence. They say the real sharks haven't been overly friendly, but they also have not attacked Robo Shark either.

And that's our look around the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: An advanced peacekeeper inspection team is in Liberia today. It is being cheered by residents eager to stop the fighting. And at a meeting of West African leaders in Accra, Ghana, Liberian President Charles Taylor is reported to have said he will leave his country next week. Joining us by video phone right now with details is CNN's Jeff Koinange -- Jeff.

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, in the words of one official here on the ground, help is on the way and that help could be coming as early as Monday. The Economic Committee of West African States, or ECOWAS, has said they will send in the first force as early as Monday, peacekeeping force, African peacekeeping force as early as Monday. Now the bulk of that force will come from Nigeria and other countries like Ghana, Mali, Niger will also contribute.

This will come as welcome news for the tens of thousands of suffering Liberians. And they've been suffering, not only for the last few weeks, but the last 14 years. In the words of one Liberian he said, we've waited 14 years, four more days won't make much of a difference. Now Daryn, this puts a lot of pressure on two fronts. One, on embattled President Charles Taylor. He, the ECOWAS leaders said, that he must leave the country in three days, once the peacekeepers are on the ground. And number two, on the United States government. President Bush has said that once President Taylor must leave and two, ECOWAS peacekeepers must be on the ground.

They are going to be on the ground as of early next week. We'll see whether the U.S. can now provide the much-needed troops on the ground to provide that humanitarian relief that they so desperately need, Daryn.

KAGAN: And what about Charles Taylor leaving the country. Let's talk about that a little bit more. Of course, he has been offered asylum, but what about the controversy over whether or not he would be prosecuted for war crimes.

KOINAGE: Wel that is still hanging on his head. And the prosecutors in nearby Sierra Leone said no matter where Charles Taylor goes, we will pursue him. So, I understand right now his lawyers are actually getting together all the information because they know once he becomes citizen Taylor, he will be an open target and they will pursue him wherever he goes.

So he's not quite out of the woods just yet, Daryn. Wherever he goes, they will pursue him and they will make sure he stands trial for those war crimes, Daryn.

KAGAN: And then, just finally in recent weeks, when he had talked about that he was considering leaving, he had said Jeff, well I'll leave, but only until things calm down and then I intend to come back.

KOINAGE: Absolutely. That's what he always says. In fact, what he also says is people are going to realize that Charles Taylor was never the problem once this country disintegrates. So it's incumbent upon the country now that he leaves, they better get their act together because he'll be sitting somewhere saying, I told you so -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Allright, Jeff Koinange reporting from nearby Accra, Ghana.

I want to go back now to Eagle, Colorado, very far away from Liberia to get the latest on today's hearing of the Kobe Bryant case. Here's Josie Burke -- Josie.

JOSIE BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, this hearing is just wrapping up now, after about two hours where presently, if we can take a look at the courtroom here at the Eagle County justice center, hearing the closing remarks from all three sides. We've heard from the defense and the prosecution.

And one point that the defense attorney Hal Haden made is that the judge should note that the prosecution and the defense are united on this one and that is a bit unusual. The judge in the very beginning said he sees this issue of whether or not to unseal these court records as a first amendment, sixth amendment battle. That is the right of the public to know against the right of the defendant to a fair trial.

But to that end, an attorney for the media that's making the application to unseal this court record said it should also be considered the right to privacy. And as far as the media is concerned, the right to privacy was waived by Kobe Bryant when he held a press conference several days ago where he admitted to having consensual sex.

At least that's his version of the story, with the alleged victim. Again, what's contained in the court files is mainly the bulk of it. The allegations being made by the 19-year-old accuser. It has her version of what happened on that night. We should note that, even though things are wrapping up here in Eagle County, the judge has come out and said he's not going to make a ruling today and he very likely won't have a ruling in the next six days. And that's six days from now when we next expect to see Kobe Bryant in the courtroom to have the charges against him formally read -- Daryn.

KAGAN: As you were pointing out, and as Jeff Toobin was pointing out earlier, Kobe Bryant was not in the courtroom for today's proceedings, but as you were saying, he will be there next week?

BURKE: That's the expectation at this point. He does have the right to request a waiver. We're hearing now that is a possibility, but it is not something that's been decided upon just yet, Daryn.

KAGAN: Josie Burke in Eagle, Colorado, thank you for the update on those preceedings.

A different type of athlete in the news. An extreme athlete whose latest feat has earned him the nickname "Missile Man." What did he do to get that? You've got to see it to believe it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: Earlier we asked, in which country did man first soar into the sky?

The answer, France. 1783, man's first flight in a hot air balloon.

Trust us. We know there are easier ways to get across the English channel. But none more exciting apparently for one extreme sports enthusiast. He has earns the nicknames "Bird-man" and "Missile man," and here's why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: 34-year-old Austrian Felix Baumgartner has done what no one has done before. He's flown without power and without plane across the English Channel. Early this morning he jumped out of a plane at her to more than 30,000 feet with a six-foot carbon fiber wing and a parachute attached to his back. For almost seven minutes he flew.

FELIX BAUMGARTER, EXTREME SPORTSMAN: It was actually feeling like (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Because if you are so far up, you don't have a reference point. You just see the forward, but you don't see the speed down, so it feels really like flying.

KAGAN: Gravity and wind propelled him at speeds in excess of 200 miles an hour. Covering 22 miles in just 7 minutes. There were a few tense moments.

BAUMGARTER: I had a little problem on opening with lift with my legs into the parachute lines. So I had to cut some pieces off to come back. But it was successful.

KAGAN: Soon, Baumgartner, opened a parachute and landed in a field in France. The thrill he says was as great or greater than his past adventures, which, by the way, include jumping off the world's tallest building in Malaysia and the giant statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro.

BAUMGARTER: I'm really happy at the moment because the last couple of years we did a lot of preparation. I got a perfect team behind. Now I crossed the whole channel. So this is history.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: Or as our director was saying like Buzz Lightyear, "To infinity and beyond." Baumgartner also noted that this marks a century since the Wright Brothers first flight. He adds quote, "And now I am here with my little wings." The guy likes adventure.

Here's to another feat over water and how far people will go to get their freedom. Our Havana bureau chief Lucia Newman has this incredible story from Havana.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUCIA NEWMAN, HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The last time these people rode a 1951 Chevy truck, they were driving across the Florida straits. Remember the 12 Cubans, the ones who were well on their way to Key West in a green Chevy pickup truck when they were pick up by the U.S. Coast Guard and sent back to Havana? They haven't given up. This week they borrowed another Chevy to go to apply for visas at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission, hoping to make it to the United States the legal way.

"I don't want them to give me anything, not money. Only the chance to go there and work and be useful, " says Luis Gras (ph). Luis was the mastermind behind the ingenious plan. We planned to drive the truck out of the water and park it on a street in Key West says his wife. The truck was seal from underneath to keep water from getting in and to make it float. A propeller was attached to the back and 55 galleon gasoline drums put on the side to increase stability. They replaced the bumper with a homemade (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(on camera): One of the crew was always at a steering wheel, just like this one, steering the truck toward U.S. shores. Which they say they got close enough to to actually see the lights of Key West. They say they can forgive the coast guard for sending them back to Cuba, but not for destroying their prized Chevy.

(voice-over): Now without their truck to make a living, all they want is another chance. We've won the right to be in the United States because we got so close, cries Isora (ph). U.S. Immigration may or may not see it that way, but the group hasn't lost its sense of humor. If we don't get the visa's, they joke, we'll turn another truck into a helicopter.

Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: I wouldn't bet against them.

Let's move on to our hot "Web Question of the Day." Can Kobe Bryant get a fair trial?

Vote now at cnn.com/wolf. The results when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: And we have just enough time to see how you are weighing in on our "Web Question of the Day."

Can Kobe Bryant get a fair trial?

64 percent said yes, 36 percent of you said no. As always, this is where we remind you, it is not a scientific poll, just a place to click and express your opinion.

Time now to here from you and read some of you e-mails. Yesterday question on gay marriage sparked a huge response. Lets hear from some.

Here's Rose, who writes, "Kudos to Bush for upholding the truth regarding same sex marriages. Will the next few years have a push for bestiality?"

All right. Well, Sarah writes, "As a straight Republican woman, I don not believe two people in love who want to get married break down the moral fabric of our country. I believe judgment and ignorance do."

On Iraq, David writes in, "Thirty million dollars paid to some snitch in Iraq to help eliminate a couple of debauched libertines is an outrageous waste of American tax payers' money."

And he gets the final word. A reminder you can always WOLF BLITZER REPORTS weekdays right at this time 5:00 Eastern. I'll be here to wrap up the week again tomorrow. Until then thanks for joining us.

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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