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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Mel Gibson Movie Sparking Controversy; Kobe Bryant Defense Challenges Rape Shield Laws

Aired January 22, 2004 - 20:00   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Paul Zahn.
The world, the news, the names, the faces, and where we go from here on this Thursday, January 22, 2004.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): A special screening for religious leaders sparks more controversy over Mel Gibson's blood-and-gore version of the death of Jesus.

Plus, Kobe Bryant's push to bypass Colorado's rape shield laws. How much information should be available on rape victims, and does it risk victimizing them twice?

The devastation and death left in the wake of a bomber, why one woman chose to become a suicide bomber.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Also ahead, another shakeup today in the Scott Peterson case. And Hollywood's hottest couple is calling it quits.

We're going to get to all those stories in a moment, but, first, here are some of the headlines you need to know right now.

With just five days to go before the New Hampshire primary, John Kerry is opening up his lead. A CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll released today gives him 30 percent, with Dean in second at 25 percent.

Here's Kelly Wallace.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Kerry heads into tonight's debate in the new position as the clear front-runner, but, in northern New Hampshire, you didn't hear that from him.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I intend to campaign as the underdog every day of this campaign.

WALLACE: That said, Kerry and his aides know his surge could translate into attacks from the other candidates. On his campaign bus, the Massachusetts senator told reporters he was ready.

KERRY: Prepared for anything, but I'm looking forward to a good discussion about the future of the country.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And then we're going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House! Yes!

WALLACE: The stakes may be highest for Howard Dean.

DEAN: I still have not recovered my voice from my screeching in Iowa.

WALLACE: As the former Vermont governor tries to put an end to those questions about that now infamous speech and revitalize what appears to be a sagging campaign.

DEAN: Iowa didn't go well for us. I wish had it had gone better. But New Hampshire has a history of turning that around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Nice to meet you.

WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nice to meet you, too. I need a bag you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

CLARK: Paper of plastic?

WALLACE: Retired General Wesley Clark, who chose not to compete in Iowa, hopes viewers tonight will like what he is selling. He's moved from second to third place, but says he's not paying attention to the polls.

CLARK: I'm very comfortable with where we are in the race. I feel like we've got a great organization. We've got a lot of momentum.

WALLACE: North Carolina Senator John Edwards, hoping for a bounce after his surprising showing in Iowa, hints at one of his themes for tonight's crucial forum.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you believe that somebody who has spent most of their life in politics or has been in Washington for decades is going to bring about that change?

CROWD: No.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: And the candidates are already looking ahead beyond New Hampshire, to the first-in-the-South primary in South Carolina one week from Tuesday. And, on that note, late today, Senator Kerry getting a boost, receiving what could turn into a very key endorsement from South Carolina's very popular Senator Fritz Hollings -- Paula.

ZAHN: Kelly Wallace, thanks for the update. And some dramatic new developments to talk about tonight in the White House leak investigation. "TIME" magazine is reporting that a grand jury is already hearing testimony into whether someone at the White House disclosed the name of an undercover CIA agent because her husband criticized the war quite publicly in Iraq.

Joining us now from Washington is "TIME" magazine Washington correspondent Viveca Novak.

Welcome. What did you learn?

VIVECA NOVAK, "TIME": Well, we learned this week that a grand jury in Washington, D.C., has begun hearing witnesses, begun subpoenaing and hearing witnesses in the case.

They appear to be starting with people who weren't directly, allegedly, on one end or the other of the phone calls in which Valerie Plame's identity was revealed. But they will sooner or later be hearing from people who were more directly involved and will soon decide whether to call journalists.

ZAHN: Now, Viveca, what does this say about the way this investigation is shaping up?

NOVAK: Well, I think it says that the prosecutors have a pretty good idea of this case and what they do and don't have, and that they probably think that they know who the perpetrators are. The big question is, do they have enough to make a criminal case out of it?

ZAHN: And what is your sense from the amount of investigation you've done?

NOVAK: Well, it's awfully hard to tell, because, under the statute, they have to -- the person who leaked the information has to have known that Valerie Plame was undercover at the CIA.

And, you know, it's not clear from what we know whether that's the case or not. There's also a possibility they could make a false statements case. If you lie to the FBI, if you lie to the federal agent, you can be criminally prosecuted. So there might be something there. On the other hand, it may come down to, you know, they know who did it, but there was no criminality there.

ZAHN: Well, we will be watching this closely along with you.

Viveca Novak, thank you for bringing that breaking news tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: And there is even more pressure now on the White House tonight on this story. A congressional resolution calls for the Bush administration to turn over what it knows on the case, while a group of former CIA staffers is asking Congress to launch a formal inquiry.

Joining us now from Southfield, Michigan, former CIA caseworker Jim Marcinkowski, who signed the letter to Congress. And from Trenton, New Jersey, representative rush Holt. He submitted the resolution. And from Washington tonight, regular contributor and former Pentagon spokesperson Victoria Clarke.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Good evening.

Representative Holt, I want to start with you this evening.

First of all, your reaction to the news that "TIME" magazine is reporting that a grand jury investigation is under way and if that in any way makes you more encouraged that the Justice Department may get to the bottom of who was behind this leak.

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, I certainly hope so.

It's a serious matter. To disclose the identity of an intelligence community person weakens the entire fabric. It not only could potentially put that person at risk, but also the sources that person works with, and really undermine the whole intelligence operation. There's been a tradition for years that you just do not disclose the identity of intelligence employees.

And so, it's a very serious matter. Whether or not it's determined to be criminal, I think Congress has a responsibility here.

ZAHN: Let's bring Mr. Marcinkowski back into the discussion here.

Your letter asks for a thorough, professional investigation by Congress. Are you implying that the Justice Department can't get the job done here?

JIM MARCINKOWSKI, FORMER CIA CASE WORKER: Well, I think the Justice Department investigation is just the beginning.

Certainly, you can look at the criminality and pursue that avenue. But there's a much larger question here. And the question is, is this country, as a country, going to stand for the outing of a CIA operative? In this particular case, it's our view, and my view, that in fact the Congress has to get involved, because there will always be questions on whether the Justice Department or the executive branch is capable of investigating itself.

ZAHN: Torie, can the administration be impartial when it comes to an investigation of itself?

VICTORIA CLARKE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, I think it can.

And they did appoint a special prosecutor to look into this. And I think one of the best testimonies to that commitment is Congresswoman Jane Harman, Democrat, California, on the Intel Committee, who said, let's let their investigation take its course. Of course they want to get to the bottom of it quickly.

But something I just have to say, leaking of classified information, including this kind, is terrible. And it goes on all the time. And serious harm is done by people who leak classified information. What I object to is people who pick and choose where they're going to be outraged. Where was the outrage over the leaking of war plans last summer that put the lives of men and women in uniform at risk?

Where's the outrage of leaking of classified information across the board, not just when it might be harmful to a particular party?

HOLT: Of course we're outraged by any such leak. But this is disclosing the identity of an undercover CIA employee by someone in the administration for politically vindictive reasons.

And, of course, there's outrage there. Now

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Now, Representative Holt, basically what you're saying, as our Viveca just reported, that she believes the grand jury may be at the point at which they think they have a pretty good idea of who leaked this. Are you saying tonight there is no doubt in your mind that this leak came directly from the White House?

HOLT: Well, the person who published it said it came from the administration. So, you know, that's all I have to go on at this point.

ZAHN: All right, Mr. Marcinkowski, you've been in contact with Valerie Plame. What is she saying about the way this investigation is shaping up? And does she think the Justice Department will get to the bottom of it?

MARCINKOWSKI: I haven't spoken with her directly on the course of this criminal investigation.

But I need to get back to the other point. This is not selective outrage. Let's make this very, very clear. The fact that the United States government itself, at the highest levels of the United States government, identified an undercover operative is unprecedented. And it's an egregious act that's never been done before.

This is not like the standard Washington leaks. Senator Shelby, it was reported today, is under investigation for perhaps the leak of some information that may have compromised a technical source. Nobody dies from that. This case here was the identification of an undercover human being. That's what makes it unprecedented. That's what makes it so outrageous. And it is in fact distinguishable from any other leak.

ZAHN: And a final thought, Torie, tonight, on how the leaking of just one name of a CIA operative violated national security?

CLARKE: Well, I don't know if we're going to -- we will ever really get to the bottom of this.

My gut tells me that, whoever did reveal the name or pass on to the journalist Valerie Plame's name and her job probably didn't even know she was an undercover agent. I'm willing to bet that, if we get to the bottom of this, we find out that's what happened.

ZAHN: Well, if someone leaked it, then what was their motivation, if that wasn't the case?

CLARK: Oh, I have no idea what their motivation might have been. It might have been political. It might have just been acting out in frustration with what Ambassador Wilson was saying at the time. Shouldn't have done it, absolutely. But I'm willing to bet that the person or persons who did it didn't even know what they were doing, didn't even know the significance of what they were doing.

ZAHN: When you say you're willing to bet, do you have evidence to suggest that?

(CROSSTALK)

CLARKE: No, I do not. I absolutely do not.

I just know -- and you just heard Viveca Novak mention this. They have to be able to say that the person knew that the information they were leaking was the identity of an undercover agent. And I'm just -- you know, it sounds like a mid-level type operative at the White House. And I'm just willing to bet they probably didn't even know what they were doing.

ZAHN: All right, Torie Clark, Rush Holt and Jim Marcinkowski, thank you for all of your perspectives tonight. Appreciate it.

CLARKE: Thank you.

HOLT: Thank you.

MARCINKOWSKI: You're welcome.

ZAHN: And again, controversy over Mel Gibson's movie about Jesus. "The Passion of Christ" is still one month away from being released, but it is whipping up passions over accuracy, the use of the Vatican and its promotion and whether it is anti-Semitic.

Joining us now in Rome, John Allen of "The National Catholic Reporter." He also happens to be a CNN Vatican analyst. Also with us tonight, John Maxwell, chairman of Global Pastors Network. He joins us from Orlando, Florida. And Rabbi Robert Levine, vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis. Welcome, all.

John, I want you to start the discussion off by telling us a little bit more about what you reported in December, where you basically said the pope says, it is as it was, meaning that it was an accurate portrayal of biblical accounts of Christ's final hours. Now the pope's top aide is saying he never said that. What happened?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Paula, if by what happened, you mean, what did the pope actually say, I think the truth is, we don't really know. What we know is this, that, on December 17, a very senior Vatican official told my newspaper, the pope had made the remark that you just quoted. "It is as it was." And, subsequently, other Vatican officials confirmed that for other news agencies. Then, quite recently, the pope's private secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, has denied it.

Today, the pope's spokesperson, official spokesperson, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, has put out a somewhat ambiguous statement, saying, it's not the pope's habit to make public comment. But that, of course, leaves open the possibility he might have made a private one.

I think what is clear is that, whatever the truth of the pope's comment, once it got out, that made some people in the Vatican nervous, No. 1, because they didn't want the pope drug into this debate over anti-Semitism, and, No. 2, because it's just unseemly, in their eyes, for the pope to be giving a commercial plug to a movie.

(CROSSTALK)

ALLEN: So what's going on now

(CROSSTALK)

ALLEN: ... exercise in trying to put the genie back into the bottle.

ZAHN: Right. But, nevertheless, as you just have said, the movie is continuing to tout this as endorsement by the pope on its Web site.

We're going to put up on the screen some of what Mel Gibson's Icon Productions is promoting -- quote -- "We have had and continue to have friendly and open communication with the Vatican. We received written permission to publicize the pope's comment on the film: 'It is as it was.' Unless we receive an official indication to the contrary, we will continue to stand by that statement."

Do you think the Vatican's going to demand that that statement be removed, John Allen?

ALLEN: I think it's very unlikely. It wouldn't be unprecedented. There are attorneys, civil attorneys in the United States who will represent the Vatican on use of the pope's likeness, you know, when somebody uses it to plug for potato chips, for example.

But I think, in this case, that's quite unlikely. I think we've probably heard the Vatican's last public word on this subject.

Rabbi Levine, you've seen the movie and believe it is anti- Semitic. How so?

RABBI ROBERT LEVINE, NEW YORK BOARD OF RABBIS: Well, I was listening to John's comments, Paula. The Second Vatican Council said that the Jews in the first century and Jews today are not responsible for the death of Christ. So, if that's the case, why does the movie open up, first of all, with the worst medieval caricatures of Jews greedily taking money and throwing it up in the air at Judas, who has to pick them up, pick up the coins, one by one?

That plays into every anti-Semitic stereotype. And then Jesus is beaten alternately by Jews and Romans throughout the movie, with absolutely no scriptural point for that or evidence for that happening. I've asked a number of people who support this movie, show me the scriptural, the canonical evidence of these things. So if it's not canonical, and it depicts the Jews so badly, one has to question Gibson's motives here.

ZAHN: Well, let's ask that question of John Maxwell.

You saw the movie as well. Is it an accurate depiction of the Gospels?

JOHN MAXWELL, GLOBAL PASTORS NETWORK: Oh, I think it definitely is.

And I do not think it's anti-Semitic, because there were in the picture Jewish people also that were very sympathetic and stood up for Christ, Romans also that you could sense that they had a heart for him. And I do not feel it was, because Christ himself died for all men.

And when you really look at the movie and you study it, I go back especially to the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus, when he spoke concerning the fact, you know, I have the power to take your life. I have the power to set you free. And Jesus said, no, only the father has that. And at least, Paula, three times in that movie, Jesus talks about the fact that the Jewish people did not do this to him, the Gentiles did. No race, no different religion, none of them did this to him.

What they say is the fact that Jesus said, I lay down my life voluntarily. And when I came to the end of that movie, where Christ voluntarily went on the cross, you could see, again, that, as he spoke to his disciples, that a friend -- as a savior, he gives up his life for a friend. And it was a voluntary situation.

And I don't feel that the Jews or the Gentiles or anyone would be depicted in a wrong way, just in a biblically accurate way.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Rabbi Levine, do you buy any of what John Maxwell is saying, or do you believe that Mel Gibson is anti-Semite?

LEVINE: I'm not going to comment on that.

But I cannot agree with his comments, for this reason. The high priest of Israel, on the first day of Passover, when he would have important duties in the temple, is standing on the bottom of the steps yelling, "Crucify him, Crucify him." Pontius Pilate is depicted in the movie as tortured over whether he should do these things. I think it is the worst, most negative depiction of Jews possible. In the first century, Jesus and the Jews were both trying to figure out a way to deal with Roman oppression. Crucifixion was a Roman punishment, not a Jewish punishment. Putting these things in the mouth of Jews is a sad and painful portrayal.

And that is why I'm speaking out against this movie. I think it does a bad disservice to Jews. I don't even think it does a particularly good service to Christians, who deserve a movie that speaks to the meaning of the life and the death of Jesus. And even his music at the end of the movie, which is "Braveheart," Jesus is militarily marching to his mission, I think does a great disservice to the Gospels, frankly.

ZAHN: Well, I guess the viewers themselves will have a chance to make an independent judgment when the film is rolled out about a month from now.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Rabbi Levine, John Maxwell, John Allen, thank you for joining us tonight.

MAXWELL: You're quite welcome.

ZAHN: Scott Peterson's trial takes a new turn with another new judge. I'm going to ask legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin what that's all about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSIE BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Josie Burke in Eagle, Colorado, where, tomorrow, Kobe Bryant will be back in court, as his lawyers and prosecutors clash over access to his accuser's past. That story coming up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And say it ain't so. Also, it looks like the big breakup is finally official. Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck reportedly are no more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back.

Big news today involving Scott Peterson. The judge appointed yesterday to preside over the case has now been removed. To find out why, I'm joined by CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Now, why would the district attorney ask for that one day after this decision was made?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: California has a bizarre system, like so much about California. You as a

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Is that an editorial comment, Jeffrey? I heard that pretty loud and clear.

TOOBIN: That is an editorial comment about my pals in California, right.

Either the prosecution or the defense can get rid of a judge, no questions asked. You don't have to give a reason. In most courts, in federal courts, you have to show some bias. You have to make some case. In California, you can simply veto a judge. And that's what the prosecution did, without giving a reason.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Do you know what the reason is?

TOOBIN: I don't. I think part of the reason might be, he's 82 years old. This is a big piece of work to undertake if you're 82 years old. And they may want a judge who's going to push the case a little harder.

ZAHN: And we'll find that out soon.

TOOBIN: They may not. They don't have to give a reason. And they may not want to alienate the guy and not disclose it.

ZAHN: On to Kobe Bryant, big hearing tomorrow. What's at stake?

TOOBIN: This is a huge issue and a really difficult issue, one of the many reasons it's good that I'm not a judge, because I don't know how to decide these cases.

Here, you have a situation where the defense wants to get access to the accuser's medical records, her psychiatric mental health records. Conflicting issues here. On the one side, you have rape shield laws that say, if someone goes and makes a claim of rape, their life is not fair game. Their sexual history, their mental health history is to be protected, so that we don't penalize rape accusers.

On the other hand, you have the right to a fair trial. Kobe Bryant has the right to challenge this woman's credibility. That's the main issue in the case.

ZAHN: And their argument is that he has less protections than the accuser, and that, at a minimum, he should be provided the same protections.

TOOBIN: He should be provided the same protections. And he has the right to explore anything that might bear on her credibility.

ZAHN: Do you think that's fair?

TOOBIN: You know what? I think the best way to do it -- and I hate to be a weasel here -- is to defer the issue.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Oh, you are such a weasel.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I know. I know. I'm a weasel.

ZAHN: Come on.

TOOBIN: What they do is, they give the records to the defense. They let them examine the records. But they say -- the judge says, I'm not going to decide now whether to admit them into evidence. So they don't become public. The defense is allowed to look at them, but they have to make an even greater showing of relevance to introduce them at the trial.

ZAHN: OK. Here's the one that I'm really having a tough time understanding tonight. That is the accuser waiving her right to privacy, because she talked about the case with a family member or a friend. So what? You have a simple conversation after an alleged rape with your own mother, and then, suddenly, your mother can be hauled into court?

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: With your mother.

That, to me, is a very weak argument. But it just shows the costs of mental health -- of being a rape accuser, because this woman's mother is under subpoena. And she's going to be in court tomorrow, forced to testify.

ZAHN: Well, I'm glad you're not the judge in this case, because this trial would be going on for about five years, because you'd be so darn indecisive, speaking like the former prosecutor that he was.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: So many good reasons for me not to be a judge.

ZAHN: Jeffrey Toobin, thanks for joining us tonight.

We're going to return to the Kobe Bryant case and the question of how much information about rape victims is fair game during trials. Also, the breakup we've all been wondering about. It looks like Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are really over. Going, going, gone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Kobe Bryant's lawyers go back to court tomorrow to ask the judge to allow his alleged victim's medical history into evidence. The defense strategy has some wondering whether rape shield laws are now under attack.

Josie Burke has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURKE (voice-over): At the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Cynthia Stone is watching the Kobe Bryant rape case unfold. And she doesn't like what she sees.

CYNTHIA STONE, COLORADO COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT: We feel that the spirit of the rape shield law has been violated by the defense in this case.

BURKE: Like most states, Colorado has a law that places strict limits on what can be revealed about an alleged rape victim's sexual history.

STONE: We've got a very smart defense team here. And they know just right where the gray areas are in the laws that help protect an alleged victim's privacy.

BURKE: In motions filed by the Bryant defense, there are details about the accuser's sexual and medical history. A judge will take months to decide if a jury will hear that information. But, for now, anyone with Internet access can search the case file and learn that the defense believes Bryant's accuser had -- quote -- "multiple sex partners" in the days leading up to her rape exam and that she had attempted suicide a month before the incident.

Fair play, says one observer.

LARRY POZNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You're allowed to plead not guilty. You're allowed to say, that isn't the truth. And you're allowed to show the facts. That the facts are distasteful, embarrassing, that's just part of life.

BURKE: It is also a routine part of other rape cases. The difference here is that Kobe Bryant is a celebrity with nearly limitless resources to launch a defense. Attorneys for the basketball star are even challenging the legality of Colorado's rape shield law.

In response, two Colorado lawmakers recently proposed bills that would strengthen a victim's right to privacy.

Josie Burke, CNN, Eagle, Colorado.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Do you think the rape shield law should be used in trials like the Kobe Bryant case or not?

Well, joining us from Denver to debate this issue are Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor and visiting law professor at the University of Denver, and criminal defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt. Welcome to both of you.

KAREN STEINHAUSER, FRM. PROSECUTOR: Thank you.

JERALYN MERRITT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hi, Paula. ZAHN: Jeralyn, I'm going to start with you this evening. If this case is really about consent, why is the accuser's sexual history relevant at all?

MERRITT: Because the -- what the defense is arguing here is that the accuser apparently had repetitive sexual activity within the 72 hours of her activity of Kobe. And what they are saying is, that this woman did not sustain any physical injury from Kobe.

Kobe is not only charged with sexual assault, he's charged with sexual assault through the application of physical force that caused injury. And they are saying, wait a minute, Kobe didn't cause these injuries, no one person did. These injuries were caused by repetitive sexual activity.

Therefore, it's relevant and it's an exception under the rape shield statute to show that someone other than the defendant was responsible for any injuries.

ZAHN: Okay, Karen, then why shouldn't this information be relevant? In fact, Kobe Bryant faces a potential life in prison sentence.

STEINHAUSER: Because the issue in this case is, did she consent to have sex with Kobe Bryant. So even if the injuries could have been caused by repetitive consensual sex with other people that doesn't answer the question of whether or not she consented to have sex with Kobe Bryant. So it should not come in. It is not relevant.

ZAHN: What about that simple question of consent, Jeralyn? And it's a narrow question.

MERRITT: Yes, but the issue of consent is what this case is all about. And what Kobe's lawyers are arguing is that the rape shield law is unconstitutional because it treats the accuser different than the accused.

For example, the rape shield law says that evidence of prior sexual activity is normally to be ruled irrelevant. Yet the prior sexual activity of the accused is deemed to be relevant by another statute. That's an unfair standard.

Kobe has a right to a fair trial. He's entitled to the presumption of innocence. And his defense here is that she consented. The prosecution has to prove a lack of consent here beyond a reasonable doubt in order for him to be proved guilty. And the unfair standards by having two different statutes that provide different criteria for admission of evidence is just not fair.

ZAHN: Karen, do you really believe the rape shield laws are biased in favor of the accuser?

STEINHAUSER: Not at all. What the rape shield laws do is say what our rules of evidence say. And that is, that evidence that is relevant is admissible, evidence that isn't to the issue in question can't come in. I think Jeralyn misstated the law a little bit. There is a presumption that a person's past sexual history is irrelevant. However, if the defense agrees, and the judge agrees, that this past history, past sexual history, is relevant to the information in the case, the judge can let it come in.

The same with the history of an accused. If the court feels that the history may be more prejudicial and that outweighs any real value that it has, the court can keep that evidence out. So, I don't believe it's unfair at all.

ZAHN: Jeralyn, just a ten-second thought. She's saying it is an equal playing field for the accuser and the accused.

MERRITT: Well, it isn't. Because there's a second statute other than the rape shield statute that says in sexual assault cases, that prior sexual activity of an accused -- may well be probative, and it will go to the issue of consent. So, it's just not fair. There's two different laws and two different standards, one for the accuser, one for the accused.

ZAHN: Karen Steinhauser, Jeralyn Merritt, I thank you both for helping us better understand tonight why this is so widely debated. Thank you.

MERRITT: Thank you.

STEINHAUSER: Thank you.

ZAHN: And one woman's personal story of why she chose to become a suicide bomber.

And from the other side, we'll hear the terrifying accounts of those who lost families in bombings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Here's some of the headlines you need to know right now. The 31st anniversary of Roe versus Wade brought thousands of demonstrators against abortion to Washington today. A smaller number of abortion rights demonstrators were also there promoting their own march on Washington this April.

Two days after he stepped down as a South Dakota Congressman, Bill Janklow was sentenced to 100 days in jail for speeding through a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist. Janklow was a powerful Republican force in South Dakota.

And Ann Miller, the vivacious actress who danced her way through the 1940s in Musicals with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers, died today of lung cancer in Los Angeles. She was 81 years old.

And tonight, a disturbing look at women who become weapons. The latest deadly terror tactic in the middle east uses female suicide bombers. We'll never be able to ask those who take their own lives to murder others, why they did it. But one Palestinian woman who nearly did blow herself up did tell us about it. John Vause has her story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her name is Thauriya Hamouri. She's small, almost frail. She calls herself a devoted Muslim. She's polite, even friendly. But behind the engaging smile is a woman who wanted to be a suicide bomber. Ready, trained and just days away from blowing herself up to kill as many Israelis as possible.

THAURIYA HAMOURI (through translator): I had one goal, and it was to take revenge for my homeland and everything else that has happened to us. That was all I could think of. And how many I could kill.

VAUSE: It is no exaggeration to say Thauriya Hamouri is filled with hate. So much hate, that almost two years ago she volunteered to become a human bomb.

She comes from the small west bank village of Jabar. There she says she went looking for a militant group who would use a woman as a suicide bomber. She says she found the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

(on camera): What sort of training did you receive?

HAMOURI (through translator): They took me and showed me how to wear the explosives. Some where in a backpack. Some in a jacket, which had pockets for the explosives. The jacket did not fit me. And so I was given a bag and I was training how to walk with it without pressing the button prematurely.

VAUSE: I'd like to know when they gave you the explosives, when you put it on, when you strapped it on, or put the backpack on full of explosives. How did it feel? Did you feel powerful? Or were you terrified? What was it like?

HAMOURI (through translator): When I saw the device in the bag, I immediately smiled. When I tried it on, I could smell the martyrdom. I was very happy. I did not think of that as a device that would tear my body apart. No, God, I was thinking, when will I get the chance to make my people proud. I felt happiness and power.

Imagine the power of the explosive detonating. I felt even more powerful. It is the power of my belief in God.

VAUSE: Her target was to be West Jerusalem. Her instructions, she says, were simple. Detonate her bomb in a crowded area. In the past, women's suicide bombers have struck a restaurant supermarket and shopping mall. In just two years, seven women have blown themselves apart claiming 31 lives. Her only aim was to increase that death toll by as much as possible. And if she was in danger of being caught, she was told to blow herself up, then and there. According to Israeli intelligence, Hamuri's backpack was filled with more than 70 pounds of explosives and nails.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have no other weapons. Trust me, if we find different ways, we will do it. It is not easy to carry on your body a device and know that now, this moment, I'm about to die.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Tomorrow, part two of John Vause's report. He asked why she was prepared to kill innocent people and what drove her to volunteer for a suicide mission.

Coming up, we'll turn to the other side of terrorism, the victims with a heart-wrenching look at those left behind.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: The rushing of ambulances, the screaming, the crying, the blood. These are some of the images we have become accustomed to following suicide bombings. But what we often don't see is the families of the survivors. And how the family and friends of the victims are dealing with their lost. Here's what some of them have to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SINGING)

DANNY LISHLIS, HAIFA RADIO: A terrorist came on a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) afternoon when the places was packed with family and people. She came into the restaurant, she hand her lunch. She came into the restaurant. She had her lunch, she paid and then she blew herself and killed 21 innocent people.

TONY MATTAR, RESTAURANT OWNER: All the family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the woman, where did she blow herself up?

MATTAR: Here. That place. Exactly. A lot of children. Two whole families, she bombed herself between the two big families. She came, she sit there for something like 20 minutes. And then she walked to here and bombed herself. I make my way to the kitchen. When I arrive to the kitchen I hear the bomb, and black, all the restaurant was black, just black for minutes, for a couple minutes. Then I go inside and saw all the things here. Bodies and blood. A lot of blood and bodies. A lot of bodies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Usually we go, all of us together, to the beach. And then we go to the Mattar (ph) Restaurant. We saw the lot of cars coming, like mad. Then we got from the bridge, down the bridge. And when we came out, we saw the restaurant after the bomb. It was ten seconds after the bomb. And I ran to the restaurant. I didn't go inside the restaurant, but then I saw his car. So I understood he's gone. I understood he's gone.

Someone shouted at me, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I saw (UNINTELLIGIBLE) covered with blood in the ambulance. She shouted, go to -- go to the hospital, Hadari's (ph) the little one is there. He's injured in his head. And I said, what about Tiki (ph)? She said, he's dead. I saw him, he's dead. I tried to save him, but he's dead. And I asked, are you sure? She said, you know what, I don't know. Go to the restaurant. I told her, I'm not going to the restaurant. I'm not going inside. She said, no, go. I said, no, I want to -- I have children, and I want to keep him in my mind like he was. I know that in bombs like this, no one stays complete.

DANNY BAHAT, FATHER OF TIKI BAHAT: What happened with my son, I will give you a visual. Some people think that I will crash. Look, I have a gun, a 9 millimeter for (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Immediately after the funeral, I take my gun and I give my daughter and I say, keep it somewhere, don't leave it. If now I talk with you, it's with the help of god, believe me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you give away your gun?

BAHAT: I afraid to make myself something, because...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were afraid of hurting yourself or hurting somebody else?

BAHAT: Myself. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) everything. I am not ashamed to cry. But why.

EDNA BAHAT, MOTHER OF TIKI BAHAT (through translator): I think she's a monster. I can't describe anything else, because I think even animal when she's looking, animal, every beast looking little children. She is pitiful. She looked our little children, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). She close -- get closer and closer to them, and then explode. She was near the little baby 1-years-old. And between the baby and the other little children, she bombed. How can you describe a woman like this. Every woman have some beautiful children. She has nothing.

So, now it's written here in Hebrew, you are in our hearts forever. That's what's written in the last line. And all the time we feel him. I have a present for my daughter, a present for my birthday now, and inside it is a picture of Tiki.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Yes, well this time it really could be true. It's over now for Ben and Jen. A spokesman for Jennifer Lopez said she's broken her engagement to Ben Affleck. That wouldn't be the first time they split, but is it the last time?

Well, Peter Castro is assistant managing editor for "People" magazine. He joins us now. How are you?

PETER CASTRO, "PEOPLE": Good. How are you?

ZAHN: Is it true? They are done?

CASTRO: She dumped him.

ZAHN: What happened? Why?

CASTRO: I'm sure we'll find that out in the weeks to come.

ZAHN: You know everything at "People" magazine.

CASTRO: I can just make it up as I go along.

ZAHN: You have some insights in it. But there is a report that...

CASTRO: You know, it's -- I think they're very, very different people. I think this ended the night he stepped into that strip club and had a chance to redeem himself over time, over four months, and never quite did. In fact, did the opposite, behaved in a very rowdy fashion. Never really showed the contrition that he needed to. I think she just got fed up.

ZAHN: So going back to the time when they called off the wedding and they said the reason for that was media hype. You didn't buy that?

CASTRO: No, I think they really realized that -- well, no, I think the reason they called it off the first time, again, was the strip club incident. She never really got over that.

ZAHN: Now, for people not following the story, in the tabloids, what happened at the strip club?

CASTRO: He goes to a strip club, which would have been fine. He's a bachelor, he's with buddies. It's what happened after that, according to the tabloids.

He goes to a house that was rented by Christian Slater. The strippers come along. And they have a big party. And he -- you know, he never filed a lawsuit. Disputed it at the time. But he never -- there wasn't a vehement denial. And I think that really, really hurt Jennifer Lopez.

ZAHN: Now, her track record with men has not been very good.

CASTRO: It's been disastrous, actually. This was sort of -- everyone was rooting for this marriage. And yet again, it fizzled.

ZAHN: And you can make the argument all this ancillary publicity for the two of them hasn't helped either one of their careers, starting off with the movie where they met, "Gigli," which was widely panned.

CASTRO: Widely panned. Did not help the relationship. You would have think it would have galvanized them as a couple, but I think in fact, the exact opposite happened. They fell apart after that. But they had problems. I think they were more in lust than in love. And they realized that late in the game.

ZAHN: And when you look at the amount of publicity that both of them engendered, was it manipulated by them or just curiosity about two high-profile people who were famous before they came together? CASTRO: This is a modern-day version of Liz and Dick. And we are all fascinated by celebrities, and we love it especially when they get together and, you know, and have fun. And we also delight in their break-ups.

ZAHN: Yes, because you sell magazines off their torture.

CASTRO: No, no, no. I'm talking about the collective country.

ZAHN: Oh, that's what you meant, Peter. Thank you.

CASTRO: Thank you.

ZAHN: For coming by to talk about this tonight. We'll be right back. I was just joking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of here this evening. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Tomorrow we'll preview the Golden Globe awards. And I'll be talking with nominee, William H. Macey.

Thanks again for joining us tonight. LARRY KING LIVE is next. Good night.

END

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