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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Gay Marriage Ruling Stirs Controversy; President Bush's Military Service Questioned
Aired February 4, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Heidi Collins, in for Paula Zahn tonight.
The world, the news, the names, the faces, and where we go from here, Wednesday, February 4, 2004.
Breaking news tonight on the girl's whose kidnapping was caught on videotape.
COLLINS (on camera): "In Focus" tonight, nothing less than marriage for gays in Massachusetts, a new court ruling and what it could mean for the rest of the country.
The president and the National Guard. Did he complete his tour of duty and will military service become an issue in the race for the White House?
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some of us know something about aircraft carriers for real.
COLLINS: And after months of pressure and accusations of anti- Semitism, Mel Gibson reportedly cuts a scene from his movie about the death of Christ.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: All that and more ahead, but we begin tonight with the breaking news out of the Florida on the case of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia, whose kidnapping on Sunday was caught on videotape. Just a short time ago, police in Sarasota announced they do have a suspect in custody.
Susan Candiotti is standing by now and joining us there -- from there -- from Sarasota with the very, very latest -- Susan, hello.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Heidi.
Yes, that information came not long ago and certainly to the surprise of most people here. There had been some rumors floating about this important news, but perhaps, more importantly, we don't have any information right now about what's happened to 11-year-old Carlie Brucia.
But we do know that authorities do have someone that they're talking with. Here is what the sheriff had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, we do have a suspect in custody. His name is Joseph P. Smith. He's in custody on unrelated charges at this time. He's a white male, 3/17/66. He's 5'8'', 180 pounds, brown hair, multiple tattoos on both arms, right arm, back, chest and calves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: That makes the suspect 37 years old.
Also, authorities revealed, along with his age and his name, that they do have in their possession a car that he was driving with Florida tags. It is a station wagon, a Buick Century station wagon, 1992, again, with Florida tags. So they are currently looking over that car for any evidence it might yield.
Also, according to the sheriff's office Web site, they list his occupation as a driver. We know nothing more than that. We are also looking to confirm information that he has a past record of previous drug charges. Again, we are trying to confirm that information before bringing it additionally to you.
So, right now, we also know that the family has been informed that, indeed, they do have a suspect in custody. Naturally, the family wants to know and is trying to remain hopeful for good news about Carlie. Again, she is 11 years old, a sixth-grader who was reported missing by her parents on Sunday evening, after she was walking home from a friend's house. She was caught on a surveillance camera that happened to be attached to a car wash not far from her house.
The very next day, the owner of that car wash was visited by the authorities, because their dogs picked up a scent that she might have been in that area. He looked at the surveillance camera. They caught this image. And ever since, they have asked various state, local and federal authorities to try to enhance the image. NASA has been using its very sophisticated computer to try to look more closely at that picture and try to look for any clues from it.
They determined, of course, that he did have tattoos on both arms and additionally tattoos on other parts of his body as well. We also know from the sheriff's office that they received a phone call from someone or some people who thought they recognized this man. He also had a name tag on the uniform or shirt that he was wearing, also caught on that surveillance camera.
So, again, they have asked us -- or told us, rather, that they will not answer any more questions about what they have, because they said that their investigation is continuing, and, apparently, at this hour, they don't want to give too much more away -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Very understandable. And Susan, obviously, this is a developing story. But let me just ask you, any idea at this point how the authorities zeroed in on Smith as a suspect at this point? They've been getting quite a few leads, right?
CANDIOTTI: Yes, indeed, more than 400 of them. They announced at the news conference a little while ago, again, that they had a phone call from someone who thought that they recognized him.
That, in addition to apparently being able to focus in, zoom in on that face, we must presume that the computers may have helped here. They haven't discussed that with us, but we do know that they were using those computers to try to fixate on his face, on his features, on the tattoos on his arms. And if indeed those computers were able to do that and clarify his features, at the very least, they could check to see whether he had any kind of record, whether he had a Florida driver's license, perhaps all of that, perhaps, led to him being picked up.
Again, we must stress, he is being called a suspect at this time. He has not, as far as we know, been charged in Carlie's disappearance.
COLLINS: All right, Susan, we know you'll be watching the story for us. Thanks very much, Susan Candiotti. Appreciate it.
Also tonight, What may be the most damaging testimony so far against Martha Stewart. In her securities fraud trial in federal court in New York, the government's star witness took the stand for a second day. Doug Faneuil, who was an assistant to Stewart's stockbroker, testified he gave Stewart a secret stock tip and said she ordered her stock in ImClone sold when she learned the company's co- founder was selling, too. We'll have more on that case coming up a little bit later on tonight.
The stage is set for a national culture clash over the meaning of marriage and the legal rights of gay couples. Today, the highest court in Massachusetts made its earlier ruling on same-sex rights crystal clear. And it told lawmakers that only full marriage rights for gays and lesbians would be constitutional.
Just moments ago, the White House issued a statement saying the ruling is troubling and -- quote -- "Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. If activist judges insist on redefining marriage by court order, the only alternative will be the constitutional process. We must do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage."
That's "In Focus" tonight. So, joining me now from Washington is Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Tony, thanks so much for being with us.
And David Tseng, executive director of Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Thanks so much to the both of you for being with us. David, let me begin with you. What is different about this decision than the one that was handed down by the same court in November?
DAVID TSENG, PARENTS, FAMILIES, FRIENDS OF LESBIANS AND GAYS: This ruling makes it clear that, for millions of American families, Heidi, nothing less than full equality will guarantee their rights under our Constitution and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
COLLINS: What do you mean by full equality?
TSENG: That is that civil unions or any watered-down version of marriage is not the same institution of protection, legal and economic, for these couples and their children.
COLLINS: So what is it that civil unions, then, David, do not offer couples?
TSENG: Civil unions are not codified in each of the 50 states in the same manner in which marriage is written into law.
There are any number of benefits, certainly at the state level, as well as the federal level, that protect families by virtue of the institution of marriage and that are also subsidized by taxpayer dollars.
COLLINS: And, Tony, let me turn to you now for just a moment. Would it have been OK with you if the court had ruled that civil unions would be enough?
TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: No, clearly not.
I mean, we feel that civil unions, domestic partnerships, in many ways, are counterfeits of marriage. But it's significant. And I think what David pointed out here is that the court here has made it a very black-and-white issue. The legislature, the Senate, asked for an opinion of the court, as if -- to find out whether or not civil unions and domestic partnerships would be OK vs. same-sex marriage.
And the court has said, no, we want you to move forward. And what I guess the real problem here is, that you have a court mandating upon the legislature, and ultimately the people of Massachusetts, something that breaks with really 6,000 years of human history, not subject to legislative debate, not being based upon research, but really four people in a court.
COLLINS: Well, because there are several other states that have already passed legislation on marriages between a man and a woman, do you think it's possible, then, David, that there could be a federal ban on same-sex marriages?
TSENG: We welcome the opportunity to have an open and fair discussion in this country about what marriage, as sanctioned by our government, really should be. Everyone respects the right of our houses of worship to define marriage as they see fit. But, under our Constitution, we should recognize that, with the separation of church and state, each of us has the right to define our families and our relationships as we see fit on equal footing with those of others.
COLLINS: Tony, is this going to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court?
PERKINS: I think what you're going to see happen here is, what's gone on in Massachusetts is going to spill over -- it already is. As you mentioned earlier, other states are taking precautions trying to defend the sanctity of marriage.
I think you're going to see the president very soon coming out, calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to protect marriages being between a man and a woman. Ultimately, it is going to continue in the courts, because you're going to have those that, if Massachusetts follows through with this scheme from other states coming to Massachusetts, marry, go back to their states, challenge the laws there, the DOMAs, both federal and state.
And, yes, it is going to be in the courts. And that's the problem here, is, this is not being debated. This is public policy. It's not being debated by elected representatives and legislative bodies. It's being forced upon the American people by courts.
COLLINS: And, David, let me ask you, then. Obviously, this is a time of politics, certainly in an election year.
The Democratic candidates for president have basically all said that they favor civil unions, but not same-sex marriage. Is this going to become a campaign issue?
TSENG: Let's look at where the American people are, Heidi.
If we look to the poll conducted by CNN and "USA Today" by the Gallup Organization, we see that the trends are increasing in terms of the support for marriage equality. Over 61 percent of all Americans ages 18 to 29 years old support same-sex marriage. So we know that the future is for full equality. We welcome the opportunity for a public debate.
When it comes to the judiciary, however, I do think the issue depends on whose ox is being gored. Let's not throw out our judicial system simply because there are a select few who are unhappy with this result. Indeed, three of the four justices in Massachusetts were appointed by Republican governors. Let's not make this a political issue. Let's make this a public issue about what's right for our families.
COLLINS: All right, Tony, I'm going to give you the last word here, quickly.
PERKINS: Well, I think that you will see that this is being taken to the courts, because the public is not supportive of same-sex marriage. In fact, since this discussion began publicly in June with the Lawrence vs. Texas case, the polls are shifting in the direction of people recognizing marriage is between one man and one woman, and they want to keep it that way.
COLLINS: All right, to the both of you, we certainly appreciate your time tonight. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and David Tseng, the executive director of Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays, thanks again, gentlemen.
TSENG: Thank you.
PERKINS: Thank you.
COLLINS: Questions over the president's military record in the National Guard, will it turn into an issue in the race for the White House?
Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ." Is Gibson deleting a scene because of fear it would fuel anti-Semitism? It's a movie that's stirring passionate debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not an anti-Semitic movie. Unless you have a need, a deep-seeded need, to find anti-Semitism and then to attack Christians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's only one conclusion. Who created all this inhumanity against Jesus?? And the answer would be a resounding, the Jews.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: As we reported, today, the White House called the news from Massachusetts deeply troubling and the work of activist judges. The president has warned, the U.S. Constitution might have to be amended to block gay marriage.
Let's go ahead and look at how this might affect the presidential campaign now. Regular contributor and "TIME" magazine Joe Klein joining me now with that and more.
Joe, thanks so much for being here. I know you've been very busy lately.
COLLINS: Let's talk about this issue now. Are Republicans, for lack of a better word, licking their chops at this one? This is the home of John Kerry, the front-runner right now for the presidential nomination.
JOE KLEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm sure that the Republican handlers are not displeased with this. This is a classic culture wedge issue. And it may well play a major role this year, but it might not also, because this is a year where you have major issues of war and taxes, really serious stuff. Did the president lead us into an unnecessary war? Did he lower taxes too much, resulting in these huge budget deficits?
If you see the Republicans playing on gay marriage an awful lot, it will mean that the public is turning against the president on war and taxes.
COLLINS: How so?
KLEIN: Well, it will mean that they want to move toward a culture issue and take the serious stuff off the table, because this is one issue where, even though younger people are in favor of gay marriage, by about 60/40, the general public is opposed to it. But, by about 60/40, the general public is also opposed to a constitutional amendment.
So it cuts in a lot of different ways. You have got to be careful with an issue like this, because it's so personal. And if you go too far, then you might hurt yourself.
COLLINS: It could be polarizing.
Let's move on now with some other ideas here with the campaign as it's going. What scenarios do you see, if any, where Kerry could be stopped by some of the other contenders here?
KLEIN: Well, it's not enough to be good. You also have to be lucky in politics. And John Kerry was extremely lucky last night, when Wes Clark won the Oklahoma primary. That means next week, when this race goes into Virginia and Tennessee, it's a three-way contest with two Southerners, Wes Clark and John Edwards, dividing the Southern vote and making it more likely that John Kerry will win there.
COLLINS: So they could act as spoilers?
KLEIN: Well, a spoiler for each other.
KLEIN: I think that the Kerry people believe now there's a good chance he could wrap this thing up pretty quickly. He's way ahead in Michigan, where he's going to be facing Howard Dean on Saturday.
And he may do well in Washington state, which should be Howard Dean's last stand, also on Saturday. If he could win those two and then do well in the South next Tuesday, he may be very close to having this thing wrapped up.
COLLINS: We know that Howard Dean has said that his whole campaign is about winning delegates. He is not looking at polls. He is not looking at reaction to a lot of things that have happened. He just wants delegates. Is that a sound strategy? KLEIN: Well, the best way to win delegates is to win elections, and he hasn't won any yet. This has been one of the most spectacular falls in the history of American politics.
And I think that this is going to get more and more painful and difficult for him to stay in as it goes on. I'm hearing that a number of the labor unions and other factions that have supported him are kind of beginning to hope now that he comes to the conclusion that this is coming to an end.
COLLINS: You know, if it's about delegates, I have to ask the question about Missouri, 74 delegates available there, yet no one really rushed in. They thought they were all going to go to Gephardt. Couldn't that possibly have been a place for Dean or any of the other nominees to get that big chunk
KLEIN: There's also a huge risk. And the only person who was really willing to take that risk was John Kerry. And I think the results in Missouri show us what this race is about right now.
Kerry made a little bit of an effort there, and he won big-time, but John Edwards came in -- came in second. I think that the truth is that if there is a race here in the offing, it's between John Kerry and John Edwards. The question is, how quickly do the Democrats clear the field and allow those two guys to go head to head with each other, especially in debate, which could be a lot of fun?
COLLINS: All right, and we know you'll be watching it for us.
COLLINS: Thanks so much, Joe Klein, we appreciate your time tonight, "TIME" magazine.
Investigating the 9/11 terror attacks. Why is the president given the commission more time to produce a final report? And why now?
COLLINS: On to another potential campaign issue now.
The president's record of service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War is in dispute. The White House vehemently denies allegations that he was AWOL or that his service was incomplete. Just how solid are these allegations?
Let's call in our truth squad now, starting with Wayne Slater, senior political correspondent for "The Dallas Morning News." He is joining us from Austin.
Wayne, thanks so much for being here. Good evening to you.
WAYNE SLATER, "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS": Good evening. COLLINS: We want to go ahead and begin by putting up a timeline here of the president's service in the National Guard. And, as we look at that, tell us, if you could, what's at issue with this record that we're looking at?
SLATER: Basically, the matter at issue, certainly in the last couple of weeks, is whether or not the president when he was a member of the Guard ever showed up.
What we do know is that, in 1972, George Bush transferred from Houston, the air base where he was stationed, to Alabama, where he was working for a political campaign in the Senate race. While he was there, he was supposed to have shown up on a number of occasion, typically once a month, for Guard duty.
But there's no record that he ever did. This lasted for more than a year. And as we looked at the records in 2000 and again more recently, we don't find any incident in which the president appeared for the regular duty. Now, basically
COLLINS: If I may interrupt, is there any record of the fact that he did not show up?
SLATER: Well, what we have, basically, is either -- are records that are absent, they're missing, or records that are simply blank. The record that shows his service that we've found as part of his file here in Austin shows nothing, no indication that he ever did show up.
Now, the president said in 2000, when he was a candidate, and more recently, the White House has said he did show up, he did show up in Alabama on a number of occasions, but if the record isn't there, that's not necessarily their problem. He did show up.
But the White House has been unable to produce any documentation or, in their effort to find any people he served with in his unit in 1972, early 1973, anybody who said that they recall that he served at the same time in Alabama. Worse than that, there is his commanding officer, who says he doesn't remember George Bush in Alabama at any point ever showing up to fulfill his duty and his obligations.
COLLINS: Wayne, is there any evidence that the president did anything wrong?
SLATER: Really, there isn't. And here's why. It sounds strange, but we don't have -- we have a missing set of documents. We don't have documents to prove what he says he did.
COLLINS: And let me just ask, for people who are not quite familiar with the military process here, those documents that you're talking about, what do they show? These are normal documents that are in someone's file while they're in service.
SLATER: That's right. There are a whole series of documents -- and, actually, there are several hundred pages that we do have about his service.
They show everything from the time he began -- a member of the Guard to where he was stationed. And what these documents show is that George Bush asked to be transferred. There's a letter-of- transfer request to Alabama. But there is no record there, as there should have been, for payroll stubs, for what are called points. That is to say, every time you appeared for various Guard meetings, you get points towards your subsequent retirement.
And there is no record there that he ever showed up at any meeting. The president also says that, after this period, in later 1973, he returned to Houston and fulfilled his obligation by doing a bunch of extra work, makeup sessions, basically, for the Guard. There's no record of that.
COLLINS: Well, let me ask you, Wayne, him serving in these irregular intervals, if you will, which is what it sounds like you're saying here, how unusual is that for a Guardsman?
SLATER: Well, we hate to say this, but we have talked to a number of people. And although it is not typical, certainly, for Air Guard or National Guardsmen, it does happen.
It depends on the Guard unit and it depends on how strict the commanders would want their folks to stay in touch with a unit. In this case, it appears that Bush may not have stayed in touch very carefully. But, in the end -- and I think this is really to your other question -- in the end, he was honorably discharged, which means, a quarter-century ago, Guard officials who were responsible for him basically looked at the record they had at the time and determined that he had fulfilled all the obligations he needed to fulfill to be discharged honorably. That record is part of his record.
COLLINS: OK, Wayne Slater, we thank you so very much for all of the work that you have done, senior political correspondent for "The Dallas Morning News." Thanks again, Wayne.
All right, let's get political now, if we may. How large of an issue could this be? Could it burn the president or actually backfire on his critics? In Watertown, Massachusetts, Elaine Kamarck is a former Clinton-Gore adviser.
Hello to you.
And in Washington, former Republican National Committee spokesperson Cheri Jacobus.
Ladies, thanks so much for being with us.
ELAINE KAMARCK, FORMER CLINTON-GORE ADVISER: Thank you.
CHERI JACOBUS, FORMER RNC SPOKESWOMAN: Thank you. COLLINS: Elaine, has the administration given a good enough explanation for why these holes exist in the president's service?
KAMARCK: No, they haven't. This issue came up in the 2000 campaign. They didn't give a good explanation then and they're not giving one now.
Look, it's very simply. There is a period of 18 months when we have no record of what George Bush did to fulfill his military duty. We know he didn't fly. We know he didn't show up for a flight physical. And then he got an honorable discharge. Now, you have to remember, his father was a congressman at that point in time. It's really hard to imagine that some ordinary schmo would not show up for 18 months and then get an honorable discharge.
The suspicion is that there was a lot of political influence there and that he was a privileged son of an incumbent congressman and, therefore, he was just let off easy. And this would not be the issue it is had he not dressed up in that flight suit and landed on that carrier.
COLLINS: Cheri, let me ask you a couple questions. First of all, let's talk to Elaine's point there about the flight suit on that carrier. I also want to know your response to whether or not the White House has explained this.
JACOBUS: I think the White House has explained it. The campaigned explained it in 2000.
What we're talking about is what sounds like a pattern of missing records. And we were told while that this, while not typical, does happen. These's a lot of holes in this. These are accusations being lobbed that sound like they're pretty groundless. The White House has said that the president did fulfill his duties, went back and did makeup work. He obviously know he served enough time to fly those planes.
And I think it's perfectly legitimate for anybody who served the National Guard to pull on their experience when they're a president or in other positions. And what I do find abhorrent at this point in time is that John Kerry and others -- well, John Kerry in fact just last night lumped National Guard service in with draft dodgers, something that he'll regret, since there are 455,000 National Guardsmen serving right now.
And John Kerry is also a hypocrisy, because, in 1992, he said that military service should not be something that divides the nation. This was in defense the Bill Clinton. So all of this is being drummed up right now. It's full of holes, as we've seen with the report, a lot of equivocation on some of this. But, at this point, the Democrats are a little bit desperate.
Had they brought this were an issue, they would have brought this up, I think, when Dean was the front-runner. They didn't do that. They're thinking now, OK, we have got John Kerry. This is a guy who fought in Vietnam. We have got to get something on George W. Bush, because the economy is doing well. Jobs are coming back. We've captured Saddam Hussein. So this is a desperate attempt, the way I see it, because they don't have proof. They haven't connected the dots.
And when you talk about George W. Bush's National Guard service, he did get an honorable discharge. What we're seeing is a lot of accusations that are baseless. Nobody has come up with proof.
COLLINS: Elaine, I'm going to let you jump in here, but let me also ask you, the president clearly may be running against what some would call a war hero in November, obviously talking about John Kerry, who we have to mention also protested the Vietnam War after his time of service. Will this matter to voters? Will this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) matter?
Unfortunately, it looks like we lost Elaine for that moment. We're going to try to get her back and continue on with Cheri if we may. Cheri, let me let you respond to that question, simply because Elaine is not with us at this time. Is the military issue really going to come up often, do you think in this campaign?
JACOBUS: You know, I don't think that that's how Americans choose presidents. What we do appreciate is a commander in chief who is strong, and this president since 9/11 has performed I think very admirably, and most people would agree with that. We haven't been attacked since then.
The last president who had the military service was the first George Bush, as we know. What people do respond to, though, is when you do have hypocrites out there saying one thing in '92 to protect Bill Clinton, changing their minds now, and they also don't appreciate baseless accusations. And I think what the Democrats are doing now, particularly Terry McAuliffe, the DNC chief, you throw out these accusations, you get people talking about it, so people think it's true, but you never quite connect the dots.
JACOBUS: It's not incumbent upon the White House to keep military records from 27 years ago.
COLLINS: All right. Cheri Jacobus, thanks so much for being with us.
JACOBUS: Thank you.
COLLINS: We often -- always, that is, try to give everybody equal time here. Unfortunately, due to some technical difficulties, not quite possible tonight. Elaine Kamarck, wherever you went, thank you for your time as well. Thanks, Cheri.
Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ." What happens now that Gibson has reportedly cut a scene some say is anti-Semitic.
Also, returning lost items is a way of life in Japan. But how does it play out in the streets in New York? And tomorrow, one year ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the U.N. and made the case for war against Iraq. Does he still stand behind that decision?
COLLINS: More on the breaking news out of Florida involving the abduction of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia, caught on videotape on Sunday. Police in Sarasota say they have a suspect in custody. Susan Candiotti joins us now from Sarasota for the very latest -- Susan.
CANDIOTTI: Hello, Heidi. That is a very important development, but more importantly, we have no word from police on what has happened to the 11-year-old who disappeared, Carlie Brucia. Again, police saying that they do have a suspect in custody in connection with her disappearance, 37-year-old Joseph Smith of Sarasota, tonight revealing -- tonight police are revealing that he is, indeed, a suspect, that he has been in custody since yesterday afternoon, apparently on unrelated drug charges. Police also telling us that they do have the car he was apparently driving at the time of her disappearance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe that he utilized this vehicle during the abduction. We continue to process the vehicle, as well as other physical evidence in cooperation with the FBI and FDLE (ph) to try to find clues and develop physical evidence. However, we want to continue to receive phone calls and support from the community that indicates where and when Joseph Smith was during this timeframe, from Sunday through Tuesday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: Indeed, investigators are telling us it was a phone call that led them to Joseph Smith, who, again, was already in custody. We want to remind you that Carlie Brucia was reported missing by her parents on Sunday evening, and then she was captured -- her alleged abduction was captured on a surveillance camera. Police have been using help from all over the place, including NASA, trying to enhance the image on that surveillance camera. We have no definite word tonight whether that helped to find him, as well, but we're waiting for more word on what has happened to Carlie. Back to you, Heidi.
COLLINS: Susan Candiotti, thanks so very much.
Just three weeks before its release, the controversy swirling around Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ" continues to rise. For months, critics have warned that the film is anti-Semitic. Now the issue is not what's in the movie but what Gibson is cutting out of it. According to reports, he is deleting a scene that some believe blames Jews for Christ's crucifixion.
Paula Zahn talked about the movie with Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Gentlemen, welcome. Delighted to have both of you with us this evening. Bill, I'm going to start with you tonight. If the final cut has this deletion, does that mean Mel Gibson is admitting that that scene was anti-Semitic?
BILL DONOHUE, PRES., CATHOLIC LEAGUE: No, what it means is that Mel Gibson had the common sense not to allow his critics an opportunity to try to attack him on one line. The fact of the matter is, I've seen the movie twice. It wasn't in either version. Rabbi Hier has seen it once. It wasn't in his version. This is not a matter of pressure, it's a matter of Mel Gibson simply saying it's not that critical to the movie. And if people want to make a big deal about that one line, I'm going to take it out. The fact of the matter is, the people who really hate the movie and are out to destroy Mel Gibson on this are still not going to be satisfied.
ZAHN: Rabbi Hier, are you satisfied if this scene goes?
RABBI MARVIN HIER, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: First of all, I saw the movie twice. On both occasions, that line was not in there. And the movie is absolutely horrible, as far as Jews are concerned.
HIER: Because it entirely blames Jews, all of the Jews, not only the high priests but everyone in the mob, hundreds of people. They all look -- their presentation is negative. They have these Rasputin- like features. They never say an intelligent word in a two-hour movie, which is unbelievable. The only Jews that come off as moderates and sensitive are the Jews who follow Jesus. And so there's only one conclusion. Who created all this inhumanity against Jesus? And the answer would be a resounding, The Jews.
COLLINS: All right, let me ask you this, Bill. Did you think the characterizations of all the Jews Rabbi Hier just mentioned that he saw in the film are fair characterizations?
DONOHUE: No, I think he's living in la-la land. As a matter of fact, he's going to be thoroughly embarrassed when the average person looks at this movie and they're going to say, What was the fuss about? As Jack Valenti said, What is the fuss about? This is not an anti- Semitic movie, unless you have a need, a deep-seated need to find anti-Semitism and then to attack Christians, which is what Abe Foxman and others have done. This is not an anti-Semitic movie. The pope has endorsed it. People from the Vatican have endorsed it, most Catholics who have seen it, including Jews and Protestants. So are we all a bunch of bigots, Rabbi Hier?
HIER: Excuse me, this is not about Catholics and Jews, nothing to do about Christianity, even though that's the line you're pushing. This has all to do with Mel Gibson. And the pope did not endorse this film. The pope never said, It is as it was.
DONOHUE: He did say that, but the Vatican is backtracking! But I'm telling you, Rabbi, you've contributed to it! Do not poison relationships between Christians and Jews by acting like as if there's going to be pogroms in the street! You know it's a lie! There have never been pogroms in the United States! Let's stop with the incendiary language!
COLLINS: All right, Bill, let's let the rabbi respond to that. But I know you have a six-page letter that you will release publicly tomorrow for the first time. Are you essentially saying if there is violence after this film is released that it has something to do with the critics of this film, that it's the Jews' fault?
DONOHUE: No, what I -- just the opposite. I'm saying that the charge of violence is coming from people like Foxman and Paula Friedrickson (ph) and Rabbi Hier bringing up the Holocaust and everything to make Christians feel on the defensive.
ZAHN: Rabbi Hier?
HIER: That is absolute nonsense. It's the kind of rhetoric that Mr. Donohue has been...
DONOHUE: What's nonsense?
HIER: Total nonsense that anybody is anti-Christian. What we said is, this film portrays Jews, all Jews, horribly. This was a Mel Gibson choice, nothing to do with the New Testament, nothing to do with the church. There have been other films on Jesus. No one has portrayed Jews as negative as this.
ZAHN: All right, Rabbi Hier, are you suggesting...
HIER: And that is...
ZAHN: ... that this will spark violence against Jews in the United States?
HIER: Not at all. What I'm saying -- this negative portrayal in Europe, in the Arab world, will contribute to negative feelings against Jews. When a 16-year-old sees a film like this, it doesn't have to register that he goes off and firebombs a synagogue now. It's just that in his mind, he said, Gee, that's the way the Jews are, because of his negative portrayal of all Jews, which contributes again to the DSI (ph) charge that it was the Jews collectively that were responsible for the death of Jesus.
DONOHUE: You won't get that from this movie! If, in fact, they were showing collective guilt of Jews then, or even in a more demented sense, to fast-forward to blame Jews today, I'd be the first one to condemn it, Rabbi. But the fact of the matter is, it is wrong to suggest that Mel Gibson is portraying most Jews as responsible. He's talking about a select segment of the Jewish authorities who clamored for the death of Jesus. Now, you will not rewrite the New Testament for Christians in this country!
ZAHN: You don't think, in any way, it will contribute to increased hated of Jews? DONOHUE: I will stake my reputation on it right now! People will be paralyzed when they see this movie. They will be breathless. It will bring people back to the church, and it will be a good thing for Catholics and Jews. And the people who are clamoring this -- this rhetoric, this cacophony against Mel Gibson, boy, are they going to have to pay for it when it's all over!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: That was Paula's conversation with Bill Donohue and Rabbi Marvin Hier.
The president is allowing more time for the commission investigating 9/11 to issue a report. Why did he change his mind and risk having it appear in the final weeks of the presidential campaign?
Also, Martha Stewart and the star witness in her trial, potentially damaging testimony from the stand, what it could mean for her.
COLLINS: The final report on what the government knew and how it reacted to the 9/11 attacks will probably come out during the final weeks of the presidential campaign. The White House reversed itself today and agreed to give the 9/11 commission two more months to do its work.
Joining us now, former Pentagon spokeswoman and regular PAULA ZAHN NOW contributor Victoria Clarke. Ms. Clarke, thanks for being with us. And "New Republic" editor Peter Beinart joining us now from Washington. Mr. Beinart, thanks to you, as well.
Peter, let me begin with you, if I could. After months of resisting the commission's request for this extension, why would the White House give in now?
PETER BEINART, EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": I think it's mostly pressure from the families of the victims, actually. The families of the victims are a very potent political group and they're actually quite a shrewd group politically. And I think the White House -- they put pressure on the commission to ask for this extension, and they implicitly pressured the White House, which didn't want to get into a showdown about why they weren't allowing the commission to finish their work. I think the White House figured that was a battle they didn't want to fight.
COLLINS: Is this about the families, Torie?
VICTORIA CLARKE, FORMER PENTAGON SPOKESWOMAN, PAULA ZAHN NOW CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, you know, since 9/11, the families have been involved in so many aspects of what this country has gone through, including this commission. And I personally think they ought to be. I think also, when you've got heavyweights on this commission, like former governor Kean and Jamie Gorelick (ph) and Lee Hamilton, who say, We need more time to do a good job here, you got to take that seriously. So I think they listened as much to the people actually working on the commission as the families that are involved.
COLLINS: But the expectation now is that the commission's report will come out at the end of July, pretty close to the November election. What could all that mean, Torie?
CLARKE: It's just -- it's life in the big leagues. You know, what's important is, do the people on the commission feel as though they've had the time and the resources to get a good job done? The timing of it just -- it just happens. That's the way it is. So the political implications will be what they are, but I think it's more important that they be given the time they need.
COLLINS: Peter, see any political implications here?
BEINART: Well, maybe. I mean, the great irony here is that up until today, literally, congressional leaders were saying they opposed an extension. Conservative editorialists were trashing the commission, saying it was a -- basically a partisan Democratic witch hunt. Now all those people look pretty silly because the White House, as it has a tendency to do, has pulled the rug under -- you know, out from under them after essentially sowing this line of argument against the commission itself.
I think the White House has made a wise decision, but I think this commission is going to disrupt, to some degree, the narrative they have told about September 11. They've already contradicted the White House's claim, for instance, that the hijackers came into the country legally and could not be stopped. We now know that's not true. So I think this may cause more problems.
COLLINS: Well, let's get back to the families, if we could, Peter. Why is this so important to them to get this extension?
BEINART: Because I think they genuinely feel that there are many unanswered questions about September 11. Let's not forget the Bush administration has been very hostile to every commission that has tried to look into this. They opposed an independent commission for a very long time. They did everything they could to weaken the joint congressional inquiry. And the family members who have followed this closely recognize that and feel like there are still very important questions. For instance, what did the president -- what was the president told in the days and weeks before September 11 about a potential threat from al Qaeda? We still don't really know that, and I think the families of the September 11 victims are very keen to find out.
COLLINS: Torie, your response to that?
CLARKE: Sure. I'd push back on Peter's pretty sweeping, unfounded generalizations about the administration's approach toward this commission. I know...
BEINART: They opposed it.
CLARKE: I know dozens and dozens and dozens of senior people who've spent a lot of time working with the commission, trying to get to the bottom of some of this.
BEINART: But they were on record as opposing it.
CLARKE: The very nature of -- the very nature of the work they're doing, a lot of it is highly sensitive, classified information, and that always makes people want to be more careful and be cautious. But I think it's a bit much to say they have been hostile to it, when I've seen just the opposite.
BEINART: But Slade Gorton, the former Republican senator from Washington, John Lehman, the former Reagan administration secretary of the Navy and former Republican governor Tom Kean -- all Republicans -- were very critical of the way the Bush administration responded to this commission.
CLARKE: And Governor Kean has also said he's appreciated the fact that the White House is giving them more time to have the time to wrap it up and the resources they needed.
COLLINS: All right. To the both of you, we are out of time, unfortunately. Victoria Clarke, Peter Beinart, thanks so much for being with us tonight, as always.
BEINART: Thank you.
CLARKE: Thank you.
COLLINS: "Finder keepers" -- is it out of step with the traditions in one country, where the art of the return is always in fashion?
And the dramatic testimony today in the Martha Stewart trial. We'll get the latest on the case from our own Jeffrey Toobin, who was inside the courtroom today.
COLLINS: If you're going to lose something, you might as well lose it in Tokyo. It turns out the Japanese have an amazing track record when it comes to items ending up in the lost and found. But CNN's Jeanne Moos reports that American habits seem more lost than found.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What would you do if you spied this on the street?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd probably would put it in my pocket and spend it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it was in a wallet, I'd return it. But if it was 300 bucks cash on the floor, hey, you know, thanks.
MOOS: But in Tokyo, finders tend not to be keepers. Over $22 million in cash is turned in to the Tokyo lost and found in a single year. Almost three quarters of that was returned to the folks who lost it.
You'd be smiling, too, if you lost a wallet with 100 bucks in it and got it back intact. The idea of returning lost items is ingrained in the Japanese from the time they're small. But when we played that old "tie a thread to a wad of cash and see who takes the bait" trick on New York's 42nd Street...
(on camera): Excuse me. Can I ask a quick question?
(voice-over): This woman pocketed the cash. Not going to turn it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turn it in where?
MOOS: She's got a point.
(on camera): Oh, that was sweet.
(voice-over): Though some tried to turn it in to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a joke?
MOOS (on camera): It is a joke. But you were very honest.
(voice-over): Across the street at the Grand Central Station lost and found...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have crutches. We have canes. We get false teeth. We've got Ray Charles.
MOOS: They've also got some cash, over 100 bucks in a money clip, over $300 in a wad. But expectations are lower here.
(on camera): Do you expect to get things returned if you lose them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, never.
MOOS (voice-over): So while over in Tokyo's lost and found...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like an umbrella graveyard.
MOOS: ... Japanese show up expecting to find even that lowly umbrella they lost. Some New Yorkers keep their eyes low. This guy admits he would have kept it.
(on camera): It's only like 27 bucks or something. But anyway...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, better than nothing.
MOOS (voice-over): Finders keepers, better sharpen those peepers. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS: The star witness against Martha Stewart was back on the stand today. How damaging was his testimony? Details from our Jeffrey Toobin, who was inside the courtroom today.
COLLINS: We return now to Martha Stewart. It was not a good day in court for the home maven. The prosecution's star witness, Doug Faneuil, took the stand and said Stewart wanted her shares in ImClone sold after finding out the CEO was selling his. CNN's senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, watched it all unfold in court today. He joins us now.
So, some drama.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You see that baby face right there? That guy's...
COLLINS: Twenty-six at the time.
TOOBIN: He's a trained killer as a witness. Boy, he is a...
COLLINS: What happened?
TOOBIN: ... really good witness. OK. He recounted -- finished his direct and started his cross-examination. He recounted his conversations with Peter Bacanovic, the Maryland stockbroker who was his boss, and with Martha Stewart on December 27, 2001, the day of the trade. He, in such vivid, extraordinary detail, told how he thought it was wrong to tell Martha Stewart that Sam Waksal, the CEO, was selling, but Bacanovic said, Do it. You have to do it anyway. And he told Martha Stewart that Waksal was selling.
COLLINS: But he actually -- I mean, he acted this out.
TOOBIN: Well, that was the thing that was so extraordinary. He kept recounting these conversations, sort of doing the voices. It was like impressions. At one point, Robert Morvillo, Martha Stewart's lawyer, said, I object to the acting, Your Honor. And the judge said, No, that's OK. He's supposed to tell what happened. And he really did, in vivid detail.
COLLINS: OK. So now, how damaging is this sort of testimony going to be, then?
TOOBIN: Well, I think he's extremely damaging to Peter Bacanovic because he basically, in no uncertain terms, said that Bacanovic told him to lie to investigators about what happened. It's damaging to Martha Stewart because it sort of puts her in this stew of improper conduct, but his contact with Martha Stewart was actually fairly limited, just this one phone call the day of the trade.
COLLINS: All right. Now, I have to know what Martha Stewart's reaction was to all this, especially when he was going back over everything that was said, in his mind.
TOOBIN: She is close to the perfect criminal defendant, as far as I can tell.
TOOBIN: She does not react. She doesn't roll her eyes. She doesn't sigh. She takes a lot of notes. But I mean, she had to be seething because this was really bad, including, at one point, when in that famous phone call on December 27, when she is on the tarmac in her private plane, she says -- he says, Well, I'll tell your secretary when this trade goes through, and Stewart yells at him and says, Don't get my secretary involved. She doesn't know about my personal business. You e-mail me personally. Now, you could take that as just, A, Martha being obnoxious, or, B, that she's somewhat ashamed about this transaction and she wants to keep it secret.
COLLINS: And now that is why she's been listening to her lawyers and not having any reaction in the courtroom.
TOOBIN: She is being very -- being very good, very well-behaved.
COLLINS: All right. So let's talk about the last thing. Now, we have to try to guess here, I'm sure, but what are the defense's next moves? I mean, what are their options?
TOOBIN: Well, the cross-examination started today with Peter Bacanovic's lawyer, and he was making the point that Bacanovic never specifically told Faneuil to lie, that this was sort of Faneuil's interpretation. But it wasn't, I thought, a terribly effective start to cross-examination. It'll probably go all tomorrow, so there's lots more to do. But it's going to be tough to crack.
COLLINS: And we know you will be watching it for us.
TOOBIN: I will be right there.
COLLINS: All right. CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, thanks so much for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.
And thank you also for joining us tonight. I'm Heidi Collins. Paula Zahn will be back tomorrow night. For now, though, Larry King picks it up from here. Good night, everybody.
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