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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
Top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan to Review Detention Practices; Israel Enters Palestinian Refugee Camp in Gaza Strip
Aired May 18, 2004 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, HOST: Good evening, again, everyone. In New York today it was in an odd sort of way 9/11 all over again. At least it must have seemed that way to those who attended the 9/11 Commission hearings in the city's response to that awful day. If both the Democrats and the Republicans on the Commission have avoided wholesale finger pointing on whether attack could have been prevented, there seemed little restraint today, at least from one commissioner and the staff on how the city responded.
The words of John Lehman will ring through the city's police and fire departments for a long, long time. The command and control and communications of the city's public services were a scandal, he said. Not worthy of the Boy Scouts. In this city we have mourned for more than two years now the deaths of 343 firefighters and another two dozen city police officers. And while our sorrow will never really end, the Commission today made clear that facts and not emotions should guide the work, even if the facts are uncomfortable and they could hardly have been more uncomfortable than they were today.
That story is part of the program tonight. But "The Whip" begins, as it has for a while it seems, with Iraq again and again tonight the prison abuse story dominates. The first court-martial takes place tomorrow. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre with the watch tonight. Jamie, a headline.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, as top U.S commanders in Iraq prepare to answer tough questions about prisoner abuse from members of Congress, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is about to order a thorough review of how prisoners are treated there. Aaron.
BROWN: Jamie, thank you. Next to Congress where lawmakers have started getting tougher on the handling of the war. Joe Johns covers the Hill. He's there for us tonight. Joe, a headline.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, it may be impossible to tell how long U.S. forces will have to stay in Iraq after the transition. But that kind of uncertainty is creating tension here on Capitol Hill. Aaron?
BROWN: Joe, thank you. On to the 9/11 Commission and the finger-pointing, as we said. CNN's Deborah Feyerick covered that today. Deb, the headline from you.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, it was such a painful day for so many families as they listened to testimony about what succeeded and what failed. Aaron.
BROWN: Thank you. And finally to Gaza and the war of snipers and smugglers and guerrillas and bulldozers. Matthew Chance is on the video phone. Matt, a headline.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, at least 20 people are killed and dozens of Palestinian houses are razed to the ground as Israel enters a Palestinian refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. It is the biggest operation against Palestinian militants in years and it is drawing harsh international criticism.
BROWN: Matthew, thank you. We'll get back to you and rest shortly. Also coming up on this Tuesday night, the politics of petroleum and crude oil and gasoline and prices. Might this be a voting issue in the fall for the President and for Senator Kerry?
Plus helping needy schools, one classroom at a time. A good news story, a charity that lets donors direct their dollars. You'll like this.
And also "the Big Unit" and a very big game. Well, now you know what we're talking about, the game is over. The story will ring for a long time.
And the rooster made its way back home safe and sound from Topeka. He'll stop by later with your morning papers.
All that and more in the hour ahead. We begin tonight with the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal again. The first court-martial stemming from the mess begins tomorrow in Iraq. Specialist Jeremy Sivits is expected to plead guilty at the trial which will set the stage for other trials where Sivits will be an important witness. As the legal wheels begin to turn, the investigative net is widening. Today Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was back before congress this time briefing a House committee behind closed doors. This as his number two at the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz, was grilled in the Senate and new investigations were announced. A couple of reports tonight. We begin with CNN's Jamie McIntyre.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MCINTYRE (voice-over): Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is described as frustrated at the Iraqi prison scandal and the resulting congressional hearings are distracting him from the war according to one of several senators who had breakfast with him. Sources say Rumsfeld has been forced to delegate much of his daily routine to his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz who has also spent hours testifying before Congress. Wolfowitz again denied there was any Pentagon policy encouraging mistreatment of detainees.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ, U.S. DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are trying to find out what if any possible truth could have led to that story. I'm aware of nothing that would substantiate that.
MCINTYRE: Senator Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner has called the two top commanders for Iraq, General John Abizaid and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez along with Major General Geoffrey Miller who is now in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison to answer questions Wednesday. For some fellow Republicans, the oversight is going overboard.
REP DUNCAN HUNTER, (R) CALIFORNIA: I said it is time to refocus on winning the war and not--and not pull our battlefield leadership out of the field.
MCINTYRE: More hearings are being scheduled for the various generals heading a half dozen separate investigations. Including Major General George Fay who is looking at whether the abuse was directed by military or civilian interrogators. Colonel Thomas Pappas, the officer in charge of interrogations has reportedly told a senior army investigator military police were sometimes told to strip and shackle prisoners. "The New York Times" says it has obtained a sworn statement in which Pappas says, "...Instructions given to the MPs such as shackling, making detainees strip down or other measures used on detainees before interrogations are not typically made unless there is some good reason."
(on camera): Meanwhile the number of probes continues to grow. Pentagon sources say Commanding General Lieutenant General David Barno will announce Wednesday a top to bottom review of the detainee operations in Afghanistan.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.
BROWN: For the Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was not what you would call a very friendly audience. Today its members had repeatedly accused the Pentagon of planning inadequately for the post war mission in Iraq. Since Mr. Wolfowitz is widely regarded as the intellectual architect for the war, he now sits squarely in the hot seat. The questions today were many and tough. What happens, the senators asked after 9 the handover on June 30? Who will do what? How much will it cost? When will U.S. troops come home? From the Hill tonight, here's CNN's Joe Johns.
JOHNS (voice-over): With the limited turnover of power in Iraq just weeks away, the Pentagon is refusing to predict when U.S. forces will be able to leave the country.
WOLFOWITZ: The course of war is simply not something one can determine. We can say, I think, with reasonable confidence that we have a plan under way to train and equip and organize very substantial Iraqi security forces by the end of this year.
JOHNS: But recently some in Congress have seen themselves as too passive on Iraq. And today members of both parties were looking for more certainty.
SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R) OHIO: People ask me what is going to happen at--come July 1. I just tell them, it will be a jump ball. We're not really sure what's going to happen.
JOHNS: The administration insisted the transition is on track, but still faced a barrage of questions, intense and specific, on everything Iraq-related including the United Nations.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, (R) NEBRASKA: I would hope that there is serious work being done now on working with our allies on getting a new U.N. resolution. You can assure the committee that is being done?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assure the committee, I assure you personally it is being done.
JOHNS: Questions about where the reconstruction funding is going.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR, (R) INDIANA: It is it is perplexing that 12 percent of the money has been obligated.
JOHNS: And what about the role of private contractors in Iraq when the U.S. pulls back?
WOLFOWITZ: I assume they'll be under the authority of the interim government.
JOHNS: The issue of what to do with Iraqi prisoners also came up.
HAGEL: How will prisoners, detainees be handled after the transition of government in Iraq?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is my understanding as rapidly as possible to put those into the hands of Iraqis.
HAGEL: As rapidly as possible. Do we have any idea what that means?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have that, sir.
HAGEL: Does anybody?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't.
JOHNS: A potential bright spot, the administration said Iraqi oil could generate $50 billion to $100 billion to finance the reconstruction but admitted there is no way to tell what the final cost will be -- Aaron.
BROWN: Beyond asking a lot of questions, and they are important questions and the answers are needed, what is Congress doing with all of this? How does it end up, if it ends up in legislation?
JOHNS: Well, right now the question is oversight, obviously. They're doing a lot of oversight trying to get as many details as possible and then figure out where to go from there, Aaron. It is very hard to say right now how this would all work out in legislation. Certainly they're working right now on the Armed Services Authorization Bill. And that will continue through the week.
BROWN: And that includes the what, $25 billion additional?
JOHNS: Right. Over on the Senate side they have $25 billion that they want to put in there--a contingency plan for the administration. Of course, they are planning to try to put some controls on that so that the administration won't have as much flexibility as it had in the past, Aaron.
BROWN: Joe, thank you. Joe Johns on Capitol Hill tonight.
In other news, if you needed proof that the wounds of 9/11 are still fresh in this city, we can end your doubt tonight. All you had to do was watch some of today's 9/11 hearings which, as we said earlier, focused on the city's response to the attack. On a day when more than 300 firefighters were lost, dozens of city police and Port Authority police as well, the idea that mistakes were made was hard to listen to, which is not to say charges were untrue. That is another matter all together. In New York, the 9/11 Commission began the hearings. Here is CNN's Deborah Feyerick.
FEYERICK (voice-over): They held each other and wiped away tears. Families watching as those they loved died all over again.
KRISTIN BREITWEISER, WIFE OF 9/11 VICTIM: My husband is never coming home. I'm well aware of that. I'm also well aware of the fact 19 hijackers killed him. But more lives could have been saved.
FEYERICK: City officials who led the rescue effort that day say firefighters and police were as prepared as they could have been in the face of such an unforeseeable tragedy.
BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYPD COMMISSIONER: The character, professionalism and bravery of New York's finest was never more evident. As debris showered down to the ground, as fellow human beings jumped to their death, from 100 stories above, there was no retreat and no hesitation.
FEYERICK: The most dramatic moment during the hearings, 9/11 Commissioner John Lehman criticized the fire and police departments, accusing them of poor communication with no one person calling all the shots.
JOHN LEHMAN, 9/11 COMMISSIONER: I think that the command and control and communications of this city's public service is a scandal. It is not worthy of the Boy Scouts, let alone this great city.
FEYERICK: The fire commissioner, who lost 343 firefighters on 9/11 struck back. Tom Von Essen saying rescue efforts were handled by some of the most seasoned chiefs of the nation.
THOMAS VON ESSEN, FORMER FDNY COMMISSIONER: You make it seem like everything is wrong about September 11 and the way we functioned. I think it is outrageous you make a statement like that.
FEYERICK: 2,800 people died in the World Trade Center Towers. A study by the city says 25,000 made it to safety. Since the attack, radios have been upgraded, with select commanders from the fire and police departments sharing a similar frequency. Police receive more intelligence and training exercises reflect a wider spectrum of possible threats. Problems still remain, among them the emergency 911 hotline, and managing information during catastrophes. Several 9/11 commissioners made clear that they believe New York City remains a very big target. That's a thought that is on the mind of New York City officials as they work to either prevent it or save lives if it should happen -- Aaron.
BROWN: Briefly, where do the hearings, the New York chapter of the hearings go?
FEYERICK: Tomorrow there's a second day of hearings. We'll hear from former mayor Rudy Giuliani, also Homeland Secretary Tom Ridge. Interestingly, Tom Kean asked the police commissioner that he hadn't even mentioned the Department of Homeland Security saying do you need it?
BROWN: Well, we'll ask that question here too. Thank you, Deborah. Deborah Feyerick tonight. One of the officials answering questions at today's hearing was New York's current police commissioner Ray Kelly. Commissioner Kelly was appointed to the job for a second time after the 9/11 attacks, fixing the problems exposed by 9/11 have fallen in large part on him. We are always pleased to see him. We are so tonight. Nice to see you, sir.
COMM. RAY KELLY, NY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Good to be with you, Aaron.
BROWN The criticism was uncomfortably harsh. You weren't in the job at the time. Perhaps you have a little more freedom to respond. Was it unfair?
KELLY: Well, hindsight is 20/20. It was a horrific event. I don't think reasonably it could have been predicted. Certainly by local agencies, certainly by the police and fire departments. I think a great job was done.
BROWN: Maybe that's in a sense one of the questions that need to be asked. Can any system, no matter how well-devised, survive, function properly under a circumstance like the city endured on that day?
KELLY: Yeah. There are some events that are so large, so cataclysmic that a system can't survive. Many of the systems in the towers obviously failed to function immediately when the planes struck. So it was such-of such huge dimensions that I think you need to keep that in perspective when you look at the emergency response, which I think was terrific. BROWN: Certainly no one ever questions the heroism of individual officers at every level of the command: police, fire, all of them. But also we know that there were communications problems. So they're fixed.
KELLY: Yeah. I believe they are. Most of the communication problems existed in the fire department quite frankly which had been agreed to by the previous and current commissioners. A lot of things have been done. The radios have been changed. They have now mobile boosters that they take with them. We have an interoperatability capability where we can talk to each other, police can talk to fire. We have it on a tactical basis and on a command basis.
BROWN: If there were a 9/11 today, who would be in charge?
KELLY: Well, everybody wants to have one person in charge. And in New York City we have the mayor in charge. And if you look at other systems the National Incident Management System, it is really configured for forest fires where you have multi jurisdictions arriving on the scene. Here we have almost 50,000 emergency workers right here in New York City. So we have put in place, the mayor has directed with our OEM Commissioner a unified command system where we have incident commanders from the major departments, but you also have those leaders meeting in a unified command construct where they are consulting and agreeing on major decisions. It makes sense for this jurisdiction.
BROWN: Just a couple move things. I'm always nervous about asking hindsight sorts of questions. But let me ask a forward-looking one. If there were, let's say for example, a chemical attack in the city or a dirty bomb attack in the city, how would we find out--not we in the media would find out--how would residents in the City find out?
KELLY: Probably through the media to a certain extent.
BROWN: Is there a system to call us?
KELLY: Well, obviously we would use the medium where you can go on television and put information out. That's assuming it is not a major explosion or something.
BROWN: Say it was the middle of the night.
KELLY: Yeah. One of the things that we're looking at and, again, this is an incremental process is the possibility of a reverse 911 system. We have a new computer aided dispatch system coming online probably within a year's time. But a reverse 911 system reaches out. You can make thousands of calls out to the citizens. Something that we're considering. But to answer your question, the immediate situation, we would use the media as an information out. We might use in a particular area police cars with loudspeakers to go through an area.
BROWN: Do you believe that if there were another 9/11 tomorrow that there would be fewer deaths in the city because of what has happened since? KELLY: Yes. Again, no two events are ever going to be alike. But we have done an awful lot since 9/11. It is again an incremental process that will probably never be totally completed. But we're building on things that were done two years ago, a year ago. We'll be better next year at protecting the City.
BROWN: We can see it. Thanks.
KELLY: Good to see you, Aaron.
BROWN: Commissioner Ray Kelly, runs the police department here.
Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, increasing violence in the Mideast. Israel launches its biggest incursion in years, this time in Gaza, leaving many Palestinians without homes and nowhere to go.
Plus, interrogation by torture. Is it ever okay to go that far? Can the end justify the means? From New York this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: With the Iraqi and the Middle East dominating headlines you can lose sight of a war going on elsewhere and it is a war. For the last few days Israeli forces have been attacking and bulldozing what they call militant positions in a refugee camp in Gaza. Upwards of 100 homes bulldozed. The Israelis say the homes are being used by smugglers and snipers. The Palestinians say it is just another example of collective punishment meted out by the Israelis. Today a State Department spokesman said there are better ways to proceed than by knocking down the houses of innocent people. The condemnation, however, went no further and there are no outward signs the Israelis have a mind to change tactics. The Palestinian side says at least 20 people have been killed in attacks so far, including children. Reporting for us tonight, CNN's Matthew Chance.
CHANCE (voice over): A tank's eye view of the biggest Israeli incursion in years in Gaza Strip. The Rafa refugee camp near the Egyptian border is densely populated. Still it is pounded from the ground and the air. Essential, Israel says, to destroy secret tunnels militants use as gateways to smuggle weapons.
MAJ SHARON FEINGOLD, ISRAELI ARMY: We are adamant in combating this phenomena of smuggling. We have information that the Palestinians have been trying to smuggle very large caliber weapons into the Gaza Strip, specifically speaking about Katyusha rockets. We know they have managed to smuggle RPGs into the Gaza Strip, RPGs which are then turned against our forces patrolling the border.
CHANCE: But the humanitarian cost is high. Doctors at the tiny hospital in Rafa cut off by the fighting say they're struggling to cope. Amongst the dead are civilians and at least two children. A brother and a sister just 10 and 11. They were killed in a rocket attack. Civilians have been attempting to flee the fighting. But many are now caught in a strict Israeli curfew and can't leave. Others have had their homes destroyed by Israeli bulldozers and are surviving in the rubble.
LIONEL BRISSON, U.N. RELIEF WORKS AGENCY: Most of the people are affected by those operations (ph) have nothing to do with what is happening in terms of the fight fighting between the sign (ph) and the Palestinian groups.
CHANCE: It is what the U.N. and human rights groups are calling collective punishment. Now being meted out, they say, by Israel. Well, Palestinian officials are calling for more international pressure to be brought down on Israel, for it to stop what it is doing in the Rafa refugee camp. For its part, though, Israel is shrugging off the criticisms saying its force will stay just where they are in that refugee camp until they have achieved their objectives, closing those gateways to terrorism into the Gaza Strip -- Aaron.
BROWN: Any sense, is it possible yet to gauge any sense of Israeli public opinion on this?
CHANCE: Well, certainly many Israelis will be looking at this with disdain because the country is divided about whether Israel should stay in the Gaza Strip, its forces, its Jewish settlers or whether they should withdraw. The human cost that this operation is inflicting on ordinary Palestinians will be seen by people in Israel who want Israel to withdraw as further reason for them to do that. And so this is something which has not been or won't be accepted by many people in Israel, Aaron.
BROWN: Isn't it sort of the common sense that one of the things Israeli government is doing in this is in some sense preparing the ground for its own withdrawal, to try and create as much of a zone of protection after its withdrawal as it can?
CHANCE: That is certainly a possibility. Ariel Sharon has personally committed, even though his own political party rejected this at the moment, but he's committed to withdrawing Israeli forces and Jewish settlers out of the Gaza Strip. Of course, his forces invaded it. Israel's forces invaded it over the past 24 hours. But there's not necessarily a contradiction there. Because the prime minister has gone on record as saying that when--if Israel does leave the Gaza Strip it wants to weaken the Palestinian militants here as much as possible and certainly on the face of it, that's what the operation is intended to do in the Gaza Strip, Aaron.
BROWN: Matt, thank you. Good to see you again. Matthew Chance in Gaza.
Tonight, coming up, information that could save lives. Should interrogators do whatever it takes to get the answers they need? Even if that means torture? Torture by Americans? A break first. Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: We began the program tonight talking about 9/11, so here is a hypothetical 9/11 question. Or perhaps not so hypothetical. What if 9/11 could have been prevented by torturing an al Qaeda suspect already in custody? What if another could be prevented by torturing an al Qaeda leader currently being held by the U.S. government? Should we? Alan Dershowitz is a Harvard Law Professor, the author of more than 20 books. His latest book is "America On Trial". He's with us here in New York. And Darius Rejali is a Professor of Political Science at Reed College out West in Portland, Oregon. The author of "Torture and Modernity" and he joins us as well. It's nice to have both of you.
Professor Dershowitz, let me start with a kind of overview. In your mind, are there circumstances under which we are moral -- it is morally appropriate for us as Americans to torture someone?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR, "AMERICA ON TRIAL": I don't think we have ever had such an experience in our history and it may well be that we never will have such an experience.
I can tell you what we would do if we ever could prevent a 9/11. There's no doubt in my mind we would torture. Every democracy would torture. There isn't a country in the world that would let hundreds of citizens die in order to spare one guilty terrorist some pain. And the question is, if we would do it -- forget about whether we should do it -- if we would do it, should we do it with accountability?
Should we do it with permission of the president or should we do it the way it was done at the prison in Iraq, by simply closing our eyes and saying do what you have to do and doing it foolishly and stupidly to low-ranking people and getting nothing in exchange?
BROWN: Let me come back to that, because, in a way, you're writing about that, about accountability in the courts and the rest.
Professor Rejali, are there circumstances under which it is in your view morally appropriate -- we can get to the question of effective -- morally appropriate to torture?
DARIUS REJALI, AUTHOR, "TORTURE AND MODERNITY": You know, morality depends on whether you can do it. Ought implies can and it doesn't make any sense to say that a plane is faster than a car if the plane doesn't have any gas. So that's discussion is really pointless.
DERSHOWITZ: But it has worked.
We know that in the Philippines, the Philippines, probably under our direction, tortured somebody and stopped 13 or 11 airplanes from being exploded over the Pacific Ocean and may have saved the life of the pope. It is easy to say it never works. And it probably hardly ever works. But one could easily imagine a case where there was no other alternative, where there was a dirty bomb, where you had somebody who intelligence showed you just feared pain, and this was the option available.
And some day we may have to reach that question. If we ever do, the president, the chief justice, the secretary of defense must make that decision with accountability and not just tell some low-ranking CIA.
BROWN: Do what you need to do.
DERSHOWITZ: Do what you need to do and don't tell us and don't take pictures.
REJALI: Wait a minute. Look, we already did this in the Philippines. We did this in the Spanish-American War. It was a policy that Senator -- Governor Taft indicated to the Senate in 1902, that this was part of our interrogation policy. It did not -- first of all, it is not true to say that we haven't come to that point.
The second question is whether the intelligence that produced was of any value. Now, there is a huge body of research since the 1970s that shows that 90 percent -- when there is no public cooperation forthcoming, the chances of a crime being discovered falls to less than 10 percent. And the remainder of that 10 percent is covered by technological intelligence.
Torture, even in dictatorships, is use to intimidate. It is certainly used for false confession. Does it work? Absolutely. But to produce intelligence, even these dictatorships know that you use informers. It is human intelligence that is the critical factor. And that more you torture, the less you're going to get informants and the less you're get public cooperation. It will actually reduce the ability of any government to win a war.
DERSHOWITZ: If only that were true, it would make life so easy. But it is just not the case.
Yes, informers are better. Yes, technology is better. But, occasionally, occasionally you're going to get the case. The French resistance, the good guys in the Second World War, tortured mercilessly the Nazis and saved lives of some of their accomplices.
BROWN: I want to talk about something. Obviously, the book is finished before this current moment. But you talk in the book ultimately the courts have to deal with the detainees in Guantanamo.
BROWN: And there's really two questions here. Ultimately is the question you raised, which is accountability, because there is a slippery slope here.
BROWN: Certainly, you can't come to court every time you want to say can we torture so and so?
DERSHOWITZ: Yes, you do. Yes, you can.
BROWN: You get a warrant to torture?
DERSHOWITZ: Yes. In that rare, extraordinary case and not -- we have never seen it so far, but if you had that rare, extraordinary case where you got the guy and there is the dirty bomb, you go to court, you get a warrant, you go to the president, you go to the secretary of defense.
You make it a very accountable decision. Now, I end my book by talking about how the Supreme Court is going to decide these cases, these Guantanamo cases and even the cases that we now have before us. And I have to tell you, if you had asked me the question three weeks ago, I would have said in favor of the Bush administration.
After those photographs, I predict the Supreme Court is going to rule against the Bush administration, because nobody on that court is going to be able to say, trust the military, trust the intelligence, trust the administration. They'll take care that civil liberties will be obeyed.
BROWN: Let me give to the professor up in Portland the last word here.
Professor, do you think this is in another sense academic, that in fact we are torturing people today?
REJALI: Oh, I'm sure we're torturing. And I'm sure that people claim it works because that's a way to keep your job and to promote yourself in competition.
But here is the bottom line. Torture doesn't produce just lousy information. It destroys the soldiers and the bureaucracies that perform it. Even when the French organized it and ordered it and more or less as Inspector Wiolm (ph) suggested, as Professor Dershowitz wanted, regulated it, what happened was that the soldiers got deprofessionalized. There was a deep sense of betrayal in the military. And it destroyed their families.
Torture is the gift that keeps on giving. It is just like incest. It just destroys societies.
DERSHOWITZ: I agree. And that's why we do everything in our power..
BROWN: I wonder if you would agree with that.
DERSHOWITZ: We should do everything in our power to eliminate it and reduce it. Simply saying we're not going to do it hasn't worked.
Bringing it into the legal system and creating constraints on it and making it only occur in the rarest of cases has a better chance to really stop it from happening than just highfalutin terms, let's not do it.
BROWN: At the risk of throwing the program all off-kilter here, how do you stay off the slippery slope? Today it is, well, we want to prevent a 9/11 and tomorrow it, is we want to prevent something else. DERSHOWITZ: We're on the slippery slope right now. We're doing it. We have done it in the past. Regularizing it and requiring accountability is the way to stop the slippery slope. That's the way we do it in all aspects of life in a democracy, accountability and publicity.
REJALI: But it still destroys the soldiers.
DERSHOWITZ: I agree. That's why we should almost never use it.
REJALI: It is sacrificing the soldiers for the sake of the politicians.
DERSHOWITZ: But that's what we do. We sacrifice soldiers to save innocent lives.
REJALI: Well, you know, there you go. That's the moral question.
BROWN: Professors, thank you, both. It's good to have you both. I hate to be the professor in a group of professors.
BROWN: Thank you. It's nice to see you both. Thank you.
Still ahead on the program, gas prices are rising to records just in time for the summer driving season. But I think we drive all year round, most of us. Oddly, some see this as political opportunity. It is a political year.
This is also NEWSNIGHT on CNN.
BROWN: Let's start with a footnote. The AAA estimates that nearly 31 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more over the Memorial Day weekend coming up. That's just 3.4 percent, up 3.4 percent, rising gas prices or not. In fact, say the experts, it would take price hikes in the dollars, not the cents, to change driving habits by this summer. But how much would it take to change voting habits by the fall?
Here is our senior White House correspondent, John King.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is both a sign of the times and of a new record. A bigger pinch at the pump and a bigger issue this election year.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a president who's fighting for the American worker, the American family, at the fuel pumps to lower the price of gasoline in the United States. KING: The White House says the blame lies with Senator Kerry and other Democrats in Congress.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes, like Americans do, that gas prices are too high. That's why we need a comprehensive energy plan.
KING: For the first time, the average price of gasoline has hit $2 a gallon, up 52 cents since the first of the year. A 500-mile drive this Memorial Day weekend will cost about $12. 50 more, and airfares are up 7 percent from last year, in part because of rising fuel costs.
In this letter to President Bush, 10 Democratic governors suggest price gouging and demand a federal inquiry, noting prices are up at a time five of the top gasoline companies are reporting an average profit increase of 90 percent.
Other Democrats want to tap the nation's 660 million-gallon strategic petroleum reserve. Senator Charles Schumer of New York suggests drawing down 60 million barrels over the next two months.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: By taking this oil off the market, the government has reduced supplies and driven the costs further up.
KING: Presidential candidate Kerry does not favor tapping the strategic reserve, at least not yet. But Senator Kerry says Mr. Bush should temporarily stop buying more oil for the reserves, and put more pressure on Saudi Arabia and others to boost production.
The White House says it is lobbying for more production and notes favorable comments from the Saudis, Nigeria and others. The administration also says tapping the reserves would have a negligible impact on prices and undermine safeguards against terrorist attack or some other major supply disruption.
SPENCER ABRAHAM, ENERGY SECRETARY: The reserve is not there just simply to try to change prices.
KING (on camera): AAA says Memorial Day travel will be up in this year over last and that a recovering economy appears to be offsetting the pinch at the pump. Whether it offsets the backlash at the polls is a question for November.
John King, CNN, the White House.
BROWN: Now, as the old joke goes, here is something completely different. But we need to get it in.
If you were with us attention top, you heard Larry mention it, a very big night in baseball. It's the kind of thing that doesn't happen often. Randy Johnson, the Arizona Diamondback fastballer, the big unit, they call him at 6'10'', pitched a perfect game against the Braves of Atlanta in Atlanta tonight; 27 batters came up, 27 outs, no runs, no hits no errors, and no walks. Nobody got on base.
The Big Unit, we should say, became the oldest pitcher in Major League history to throw a perfect game. It's one of the hardest things to do in sport. And he's knocked on the door a bunch of times over the years.
Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, giving to schools what they are without. Donors pick the classroom they want to help. You'll like this story. It's a good news story. The students tell how the kindness and the cash made a difference.
From New York, this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: We ended the program last night in Topeka with a look at the vast inequities remaining in education in the country 50 years after Brown vs. the Board of Education.
Seen through the macro lens, the problem can seem overwhelming. But narrow the focus, start thinking in terms of pencils and papers for a single classroom and the problem looks quite different. Charles Best is a high school teacher in the Bronx in New York who knows what it is like to go without in his classroom. Four years ago, he came up with a solution, a Web site called DonorsChoose, a novel way to help needy schools.
CHARLES BEST, DONORSCHOOSE.COM: That is X there and click this box right here.
I think I knew since I was a sophomore that I wanted to be a teacher. It seemed like the most challenging and helpful thing that I could do. My colleagues and I would be in the lunchroom talking about books we wanted our students to read, a trip we would take with them if there were just the funding for our best ideas, for helping the students learn.
For service, I think we could talk about the philanthropy account.
We started DonorsChoose as this organic experiment at Wings Academy. And word of mouth just started to spread beyond the Bronx to other public schoolteachers in New York City. DonorsChoose begins with a committed teacher who has got a great idea for helping their students learn. They go to DonorsChoose, write a one-page essay. DonorsChoose screens the teacher proposal to make sure that this is really a viable, well-explained idea.
And at that point, it is up on the web for citizen philanthropists to read through and to choose the proposals that speak to them. We call our donors citizen philanthropists. I figured that people giving to charity must have been becoming skeptical about writing a $200 check to an organization and not really knowing what was done with their money. CHILDREN: Cool!
AMY CAI, TEACHER: We have a wonderful donor who decided to give you all these pencils because they know that it is hard for you guys to do your work without the pencils.
Believe it or not, things like paper, pencil, eraser, they constantly need to be replenished.
I want to give you some papers.
Tests was coming up. I need the paper to make copies so that they could practice. And it was great. It came right on time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was quite surprised. I thought -- I didn't know there was people out there that were that generous. They really helped us because, if we don't have paper, how can we learn?
LISA BEHNFELDT, TEACHER: My first proposal was for books. I got it within a couple of days. Now they take books home every day with them. Before maybe it was once a week, if that. The whole class is reading. And they enjoy just reading. They love to read.
Another excellent item I was able to get through DonorsChoose was a cash register, making it fun to learn money through play.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's pretend you have to buy something.
BEHNFELDT: The children are now accelerating with their learning because of it.
BEST: DonorsChoose purchases the materials for the teacher. We send a disposable camera, so that the teacher can take photographs of the activity taking place. Each student writes their donor a thank you note. The citizen philanthropist can see that the proposal they chose to fund had a major impact on the kids' lives.
CINDY ROSADO, TEACHER: DonorsChoose has been amazing, because I'm 17 years in. It has been like a shot of vitamin C. It has brought a lot of materials at a time that New York City really needs them.
BEST: Donors in 48 states have funded 2,400 teacher proposals which has been about $1.2 million worth of books, art supplies, science equipment.
I think this teacher wanted to do DNA analysis. We have just opened our doors in North Carolina. And we'll be expanding to Chicago, to Colorado, and the Bay Area of California in 2004.
Five to 10 years from now, I really hope that DonorsChoose is serving all public schools in the United States and that any committed teacher can get funding for the materials that their students need to learn. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BROWN: What a good guy he is, isn't it?
The Web site, if you're interested, is DonorsChoose.org, DonorsChoose.org, one word.
And when we come back, we'll take a look at morning papers from here in New York. A break first.
BROWN: OK, time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world. If I'm talking fast, it is because there are so many good papers and so little time.
"Christian Science Monitor." "Can Torture Be Justified?" I wonder where they got that idea? I think they were watching the program tonight. "At Hearings Today" -- probably not -- "Senate Armed Services Committee Will Question Top Army Officers on Interrogation of Prisoners in Iraq." That's a good story from a very good newspaper.
"The International Herald Tribune," published by "The New York Times," lots of things. They lead with the Middle East in the international edition. "Israelis Overwhelm Southern Gaza Strip." But this may be the most interesting story, international story, out there today. "Sonia Gandhi Says No to India," the most famous last name in Indian politics, the Bush or Kennedys of Indian politics, saying she doesn't want to be the prime minister, throwing the democracy, the world's largest, in somewhat of a mess there.
"The Washington Times." Gas prices pay in a lot of front pages tonight. "Kerry Hits Bush on Rise in Gas Prices, Blames the Stockpiling of Petroleum Reserves." That's how "The Washington Times" led it.
"The Detroit News" -- "The Detroit News" -- "Pain at the Pump," a pretty straight-ahead lead. "Mileage Matters More For Car Buyers." "Metro Detroit Drivers, Businesses Grapple With Soaring Gas Prices."
"The Dayton Daily News," not far away, does the political side of it. "Bush Not Tapping Backup Reserves." So that's how they got to the story.
And "The Chicago Sun-Times" doesn't do it at all. "Daley Mocks, Governor Pushes For Casino." He wants a casino in Chicago. They put 9/11 on the front page. They put Tony Randall on the front page. We'll get to him in a moment. And the weather tomorrow in Chicago is "all good." Sounds good to me.
We'll talk about Tony Randall after the break.
BROWN: Finally from us tonight, dying is easy, a great actor once said that. Comedy is hard, and light comedy harder still for most actors, perhaps, even for great ones, but not for Tony Randall. He did many things well in his long career, but he did light comedy best. He died last night in his sleep. He was 84. And if Alan King, who died recently, was Seinfeld before Seinfeld's time, Tony Randall was Frasier.
BROWN (voice-over): He played a type and played it to perfection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY RANDALL, ACTOR: You love her and she can't stand the sight of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: A little fussy, a little stuffy, a little older. Worldly, absolutely. Wise, well...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDALL: This time, it will be different, Jan. You'll see. We'll go to Mexico. It will be like starting from scratch. I've never been married in Mexico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: By 1959, Leonard Rosenberg from Tulsa, Oklahoma, by way of the U.S. Army and a television show called "Mr. Peepers," had become a bankable star, of a sort, not the one who gets the girl, the one who steals the scene. It wouldn't be his last.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDALL: Light another cigar, Oscar. Burn a hole in my heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: In "The Odd Couple," Tony Randall rediscovered the medium of his early days, and in Jack Klugman's Oscar Madison, the comic foil of a lifetime. The show would seal his fate. It did not cap a career.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Take the aspirin.
BROWN: Tony Randall the TV star became Tony Randall impresario. He founded the National Actors Theater. And though the productions played to mixed reviews, he declared the stage the love of his life -- well, one of them at least. He would marry for a second time in his 70s and by his 80s he would be the father to two young children. Too young to watch him in reruns, they got him for real.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: And, as we said, Mr. Randall was 84 when he died here in New York.
Good to have you with us tonight. We're all back tomorrow. "AMERICAN MORNING" first thing in the morning. We hope you will join them as well.
And up next for most of you, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT."
We'll see you tomorrow. Good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT.
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