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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Seven Al Qaeda Suspects Named; Previous History of Prisoner Abuse From Accused Soldier?

Aired May 27, 2004 - 20:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Seven al Qaeda suspects from seven different countries, including the United States.

PHILLIP GADAHN, FATHER OF ADAM GADAHN: I hope he's not involved with anything weird like that.

ZAHN: Tonight, families and friends, a portrait of Adam Gadahn.

And:

NICHOLAS YARRIS, FORMER INMATE: His personal joy was to provoke inmates.

ZAHN: A former Pennsylvania inmate's shocking story of abuse by one guard charged in the Iraqi prison abuse scandal.

YARRIS: That smile he showed, he showed best when he was getting some prisoner to lose it, to snap, to lose his mind and scream at Charles. DREW GRIFFIN, He loved it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Good evening. Welcome. Good to have you with us tonight.

We begin tonight with new information about these seven faces the FBI wants you to be on the look out for. The bureau says it has received more than 2,000 tips since it asked for help yesterday finding the six men and one woman who it says have al Qaeda connections and are a clear and present danger.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Ahmed Khalfan Ghailiani were on the original FBI 22-most-wanted terrorist list unveiled in October of 2001. They are wanted in connection with bombings of two embassies in East Africa in 1988.

Abderraouf Jdey and Amer El-Maati are Canadian citizens. The FBI is concerned they may be getting ready to use aircraft to attack the U.S.. Adnan Shukrijumah, according to the FBI, is a trained al Qaeda operative who had lived in the U.S. for 15 years and may be the leader of a terrorist cell. Aafia Siddiqui, the only woman in the group, studied at MIT and wrote her doctoral thesis on neurological sciences at Brandeis University. The FBI says Siddiqui's knowledge of the U.S. may be very useful to al Qaeda. The seventh suspect is the only new face on the chart and the only American.

ADAM GADAHN, SUSPECT: I'm Adam Gadahn and this is Guitar (ph) Gadahn.

ZAHN: Adam Yahihyi Gadahn, seen here in a video produced 10 years ago, grew up on a California goat farm. When he was 17, he joined the Islamic Society of Orange County, declaring himself a Muslim. And that's when his troubles began.

MUZAMMIL SIDDIQI, ORANGE COUNTY ISLAMIC SOCIETY: My feeling was that he was depressed. He was depressed. He had some mental or psychological problem.

ZAHN: In June of 1997, Gadahn was expelled from the society after attacking an employee, pleaded guilty to assault and battery and spent two days in jail. The FBI says Gadahn, who also goes by the names Adam Pearlman and Abu Suhayb Al-Amriki, attended an al Qaeda training camp and served as a translator. Gadahn's family, who hasn't seen him in several years, does not believe he's involved with terrorism.

P. GADAHN: I didn't imagine that he would be involved in anything like what they are thinking he might be, but I'm not sure that the FBI really thinks that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And Thelma Gutierrez has been in Adam Gadahn's California hometown today on the phone with his family as well. She joins us now from the mosque and garden grove where Gadahn worshipped.

Thelma, you spoke with Adam's aunt, Nancy Pearlman. What did she say to you?

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nancy Pearlman said that this has been an incredibly difficult time for the family because they say the allegations are just so severe. They say that it's been tough for the parents who are on that goat farm, who haven't seen their son in the past couple years. It's been tough on their 82-year- old grandmother who actually had Adam Gadahn live with her for a short time here in Santa Ana.

She also said that the Adam she knows is very well-educated. He's cultured. He's well-traveled. He's a very sensitive and gentle person. She says this is a family that preaches tolerance. And, in fact, this is the family that had absolutely no problem with his conversion to Islam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He never exposed any kind of militancy when he was living with our family. Before he moved overseas, he was very involved religiously, studying religiously, studying religious writings, and became quite religious.

And we had many different kind of religious debates and religious discussions because not all of us in the family are Muslim.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUTIERREZ: Now, she mentioned that not everyone in the family is Muslim. I should mention that on the father's side the family is Jewish and on the mother's side the family is Catholic, though they say they were not practicing Catholics -- Paula.

ZAHN: And does the family have any idea where Adam is?

GUTIERREZ: No. They say that they don't. They say the last time that they heard from him was two years ago. They say that he was in Pakistan at the time. He says that he had married an Afghan refugee. He was ready to have a baby. But, again, that was two years ago.

ZAHN: And you attended a news conference earlier today where some interesting things happened. Explain to us what went on.

GUTIERREZ: Yes, that's right.

In fact, this is the mosque where Gadahn converted to Islam. And the imam who actually aided in that conversion said that he was questioned very extensively by the FBI today. He wouldn't go into more detail than that. But he did say during the news conference he made a direct appeal to Gadahn to come forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIDDIQI: In the name of Allah and because he accepted Islam here at my hand, so I want to tell him that he should not be involved in any group that propagate or advocates violence and terrorism and he should turn himself to the authorities to clear his name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUTIERREZ: That's exactly what the family thinks as well. They say that they feel that this is one big misunderstanding and that if he does come forward, he will be able to clear his name -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thelma Gutierrez, thanks for all of that strong reporting.

Now, the war on terrorism, meanwhile, stretched across the Atlantic ocean today to London, where a hard-line Muslim cleric was arrested. In his preaching, Abu Hamza has denounced the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as -- quote -- "a war against Islam." He has also claimed the September 11 terrorist attacks were a Jewish plot.

Attorney General John Ashcroft says the U.S. wants Abu Hamza tried in the U.S. on charges of supporting the al Qaeda terrorist network.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: These charges are related to Hamza's alleged attempts in late 1999 and early 2000 to set up a training camp for violent jihad in Bly, Oregon, here in the United States. Hamza is also charged with providing material support to al Qaeda for facilitating violent jihad in Afghanistan, as well as conspiracy to supply goods and services to the Taliban.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: In Washington to discuss al-Hamza's arrest and the week's developments in the war on terrorism are Reuel Marc Gerecht of the American Enterprise Institute, along with CNN military analyst Ken Robinson.

Welcome, gentlemen.

Reuel, I'm going to start with you this evening.

Tell us a little bit more about Abu Hamza and why it's taken so long to get him arrested.

REUEL MARC GERECHT, MIDDLE EAST EXPERT: That's an interesting question. He has been under fairly consent surveillance since September 11. MI5 has watched him.

He was not considered to be as operationally critical to the militant Islamic networks in Great Britain as someone like Abu Qatada, who is a Palestinian radical preacher, also well known in Finsbury Park, who has been under arrest, very tight arrest by MI5 since 9/11.

I am curious to know why we have chosen now to try to extradite him. I suspect that we may have new information. I would assume so.

ZAHN: Ken, what do you think the answer is to that question? Because Reuel just made it abundantly clear MI5, of course, which is the British intelligence arm, which had their sights on him for a long time.

KEN ROBINSON, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Reuel and I were both talking about that in the break before we came on live.

Both of us are puzzled because this guy has been on everyone's radar screen as a militant, as the imam who was Moussaoui and Richard Reid's imam, Richard Reid being the shoe bomber. And so, there clearly must be something that they feel they can take to court for them to try to extradite him, which is a difficult process when you consider there's people we haven't been able to extradite in four years from Great Britain. And now we're talking putting him into a U.S. court.

ZAHN: Well, Ken, you have studied this closely. What do you think the U.S. government has on him?

ROBINSON: Well, clearly, they've made some connection that places his fingerprints on the material support to potentially the Afghan training camps or to the terrorist cells that he was providing money and assistance, allegedly, for.

And for the attorney general to take this route, it's really puzzling, because, in most cases, when you have someone that they've brought under detainment, they've taken them to Guantanamo Bay and made them an enemy combatant. And this is one we're going to fight out in the courts. So they obviously have a lot that they feel comfortable about.

SCARBOROUGH: Do they have a lot, Reuel, or do you think this a risky move on the U.S. government's part?

GERECHT: Well, it may turn out to be a risky move. We discovered before with someone like Zacarias Moussaoui, the French citizen who we thought was the 20th hijacker on 9/11, that it has proven much more difficult than the government anticipated to prosecute him in open court. So I would have to agree with Ken.

I must assume that the government has discovered something new that it had not known or been able to prove in a court of law since 9/11.

ZAHN: And, Ken, Abu Hamza got a lot of attention of course for his fiery preaching in mosques. And I know both of you have studied this in great detail about how mosques all over the country are used for recruiting tools. How does that work?

ROBINSON: Well, the recruitment of terrorist who could potentially support an attack has been alleged to occur in the mosque settings in Eastern Europe, in particular. We haven't found too many links in the United States that we can draw direct conclusion of that of.

But in Europe and France, in the United Kingdom, we see many examples. In Germany, the terrorists who were involved in the September 11 attack, many of them came out of the Hamburg mosque. And so they are the focus of attention of law enforcement in both this country and in the United Kingdom.

BLITZER: Gentlemen, we have to leave it there this evening. Thanks for your wealth of information. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, an American soldier charged with abusing prisoners in Iraq was once a Pennsylvania prison guard. We're going to hear a former inmate's disturbing new allegations about him.

And a little bit later on, the president asked the U.N. to help shoulder the military burden in Iraq. We'll ask former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke if other U.N. members are in a mood to help out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And we turn now to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. More photos of inmate mistreatment are now surfacing, even as military investigations continue. One soldier already scheduled for court- martial is specialist Charles Graner, who is in some of the photographs already made public, including the one you're about to see. Graner, a military policeman, was a prison guard as a civilian in Pennsylvania.

Well, now a former death row inmate is making some remarkable allegations about how Graner treated prisoners. Please note, this report contains words that some viewers may find offensive.

Here's Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is where they met. Greene State Correctional Institution houses some of Pennsylvania's worst offenders. Nicholas Yarris was an inmate here on death row. Charles Graner was one of the guards.

YARRIS: His personal joy was to provoke inmates by, like, making them lick their testicles two, three times or just summarily just burning the guy for his yard, by just saying, oh, you're not ready yet, and keep walking. And when someone screamed at him, he just loved it.

GRIFFIN: Yarris is bitter. For 22 years, he was in prison for a crime he did not commit. Convicted of a rape and murder in 1981, he was sentenced to die. Last year, DNA evidence proved the killer was someone else and Yarris walked free. But bitter memories resurfaced when he opened a newspaper and saw this.

YARRIS: Charles Graner smiling in that photograph over a dead human being is the same Charles Graner that smiled over a tray that he had spit in that I had seen him spit in.

GRIFFIN: The prison has a troubled history. In 1998, the superintendent was transferred and two dozen guards were disciplined for abusing inmates, but Graner was never implicated in that scandal. Shortly after, though, an inmate did accuse Graner of throwing him to the floor, kicking and beating him and placing a razor blade in his food.

A second inmate accused Graner of picking him up by one foot and tossing him into his cell. Those two lawsuits were dismissed and Graner was not disciplined. Nicholas Yarris says Graner never hit him. But when Graner's face appeared in photos from Abu Ghraib, Yarris was not surprised.

YARRIS: I am just sickened by it, because I know what he used to do and I can only imagine, without the restraint of any supervision over there, what he was doing.

GRIFFIN: What Graner did in Iraq is still unproven. He awaits a court-martial. But Yarris, who was released in January this year, says what Graner wanted to do in Iraq was no secret to anyone who would listen.

YARRIS: Charles was just filled with the glee of opportunity to go over there, because he said, as we were walking down the corridor, I can't wait to go kill some "sand niggers." That smile he showed, he showed best when he was getting some prisoner to lose it, to snap, to lose his mind and scream at Charles. He loved it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: That was Drew Griffin reporting. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections would not comment on this story tonight.

However, Charles Graner's attorney, Guy Womack, is commenting. And he joins us tonight from Houston, Texas.

Welcome, sir. Thanks for joining us tonight.

GUY WOMACK, ATTORNEY FOR SPECIALIST CHARLES GRANER: Good evening.

ZAHN: First of all, your reaction to the very specific allegations of Mr. Yarris that we all just heard?

WOMACK: Well, perhaps the gentleman has already snapped. Specialist Graner has not done any of these things. And, of course, at Abu Ghraib, what he did, which was bad enough, is, he was following orders, so he did nothing that was wrong. He was just following lawful orders. It has nothing to do with this death row inmate who perhaps did snap.

ZAHN: Let's come back to the two lawsuits that this piece confirmed were filed against him. Why would those two lawsuits have been filed in the first place?

WOMACK: Well, Paula, every day in federal courts across this country, inmates file lawsuits alleging abuse by their captors. In state prisons, the same thing. State courts are overrun with such cases and overwhelmingly they're false. In this case, all the claims against Specialist Graner were dismissed because they were false.

ZAHN: There were also accusations of domestic abuse by his former wife. Are you wanting our audience to dismiss those charges as well?

WOMACK: Well, thank should, the courts dismissed them. He has never been convicted of any offense of domestic violence. If he had been convicted of even a misdemeanor assault of domestic violence, under the Brady Gun Control Act, he would not be allowed to posses a firearm.

He could not be in the Army, the Army National Guard or a prison guard in Pennsylvania. We know that he is all of the above because he has never been convicted of even a misdemeanor involving hurting his wife.

MATTHEWS: Let's move on the other prison abuse scandal.

NBC acquired some new pictures that we are going to look at with you this evening, sir. And we're going to specifically look at one where your client, Mr. Graner, is in the center kneeling over the Iraqis. You see this picture as being fundamentally important to his defense. How so?

WOMACK: Yes, Paula, look at the picture.

Sitting in the white chair, the heavyset man, that is the man that we believe is Adel Nakhla. He is a civilian contract employee, intelligence type.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: If you hang on, Guy, for one second, we're going to allow a light to highlight the other part of the picture. OK, this is making it clearer what you're talking about.

Carry on now.

WOMACK: Right.

Then, in the foreground of the picture, you have two slender men wearing desert camouflage trousers and brown T-shirts. Those are staff sergeants with the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. They are the senior most intelligence officers depicted in any of the photographs that I have seen yet.

Now, this is part of the same interrogation that the photograph appeared on May 7 in "The Washington Post" from another angle and it showed two specialists who were also military intelligence from that same brigade. Here we have four military intelligence officers in that same interrogation along with that civilian.

ZAHN: Now, we can't independently verify who those people are, but you can say with 100 percent certainty those gentlemen you just pointed out are who you say they are?

WOMACK: Absolutely.

ZAHN: OK, let's move on the whole issue of your defense of your client. You say that he, and you've always said this, was just following orders. Yet, in the current manual for courts-martial, that that defense possibly could work, I emphasize possibly, if a soldier -- quote -- "did not know and could not reasonably been expected to know that the act ordered was unlawful."

WOMACK: Absolutely.

ZAHN: Are you saying that your client didn't think what he was doing was wrong?

WOMACK: Of course he did not.

Paula, keep in mind that the staged photographs, the treatment of the prisoners, the posing of them and the humiliating them occurred before Chuck Graner even arrived at Abu Ghraib. That had started back during the summer, before his unit arrived in October of 2003. He fell into place at a prison that was already employing those techniques and he assumed the duties of the M.P.s before him. And he questioned those orders on a daily basis to his lieutenant and his company commander and to other senior enlisted personnel.

And every time, the military police chain of command told him that they were under the control of military intelligence and he must follow their orders. He challenged the orders. They were repeated to him and he obeyed them, as he was supposed to do.

ZAHN: What did he think would happened to him if he had not followed these orders? He certainly had a right, according to some interpretations of military law, not to follow through if what he thought he was doing was wrong.

WOMACK: If he thought an order was wrong and he guessed wrongly and it was a lawful order, he would be court-martialed for violating those orders.

ZAHN: Well, what some people in our audience are disturbed by, including myself, is when you look at these pictures and you see him gleefully smiling over these prisoners in some of these images, you might think otherwise. Read the expression in his face for us. Why would he look like that?

WOMACK: Paula, there are two reasons. One reason would be that he was ordered to smile for the photographs that were staged by military intelligence to give them more shock effect.

Another thing is, in some of the photos, I think he was probably smiling on his own. I think that was an example of gallows humor. Firemen, policemen, paramedics, soldiers, Marines smile at things in an inappropriate way every single day. Pilots joke about pilots who have died in crashes. There's nothing funny about it, but it's a way of dealing with the stress of the moment. Gallows humor is very common in day-to-day life for people living in life-and-death stressful situations.

ZAHN: Guy Womack, thanks for joining us tonight. We appreciate it.

WOMACK: Thank you.

ZAHN: And when we come back, we change our focus. The Kerry campaign tries to exercise some foreign policy muscle. We'll take a closer look at the candidate's ideas and his warning today to al Qaeda terrorists.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back.

On to presidential politics now. Democrat John Kerry today started laying out his foreign policy and national security vision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't have to live in fear or stand alone. We don't have to be a lonely watchman on the walls of freedom. Instead, we must honor the legacy of the greatest generation by restoring respect for the United States as the greatest force for freedom and progress on this planet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: So, will words like that win over voters?

Joining us now, regular contributor and "TIME" columnist Joe Klein.

Always good to see you.

Did he pick up any independent votes with that speech?

JOE KLEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know whether words like that will, but there was a real strong, firm warning to al Qaeda earlier in the speech, which was very statesmanlike, which was important .

But it is almost like -- it's deja vu. This is the second foreign policy speech we have gotten from a nominee for president this week. President Bush did his on Monday. And in neither case was any new ground broken. Kerry has cited all these things in the past.

And I got to say, it was kind of a weird experience for me because I couldn't disagree with anything that either the president or John Kerry said, which may mean that they weren't saying all that much.

ZAHN: So what should they be saying?

KLEIN: Well, I think that, in Kerry's case, people say he has to have a plan tell, he has to tell us how we're going to get out of Iraq. Well, that's pretty hard at this point. He president is having a hard time with that.

But I do think that what he does need to do is make some kind of an emotional connection with the American people and let people know he understands how concerned they are. The most recent polls show that the level of anger and anguish over this war is rising among the public and I don't think either of these politicians, Bush or Kerry, are really kind of acknowledging that in a basic way.

ZAHN: Well, we did see a pretty good Howard Dean imitation from Al Gore, didn't we? Let's let our audience dip in on that together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Bush owes more than one apology. On the list of those he let down are the young soldiers who are themselves apparently culpable, but who were clearly forced to wade into a moral cesspool designed by the Bush White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: That was former Vice President Al Gore last night, impassioned, filled would fire. But you say that's indicative of the fact that he's no longer relevant. Why? KLEIN: Yes. You know, these are very serious issues. These are the most serious issues we have had to confront in foreign policy since Vietnam.

And the kind of anger that Gore show showed isn't very statesmanlike. And it says to me that he knows he is not going to be a major American elected politician again in his lifetime. And I like the way he read that, designed. There's so much animal anger and passion there.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: So what, you can't have a heartbeat and be a politician, Joe?

KLEIN: No, you can.

But when you're dealing with issues that involve the lives of Americans who are serving overseas and also, by the way, the stability of the entire Middle East, you want to be judicious about it. Now, I agreed with a lot of what Gore said as well. I mean, I'm just a very agreeable guy this week. I think the Bush administration really has had a problem with planning this post, you know, the post-conflict era. But there are ways to say it, and when you speak as angry...

ZAHN: So you can really tell an audience what you're thinking and still be judicious at the same time. Aren't those mutually exclusive?

KLEIN: No. No, there are ways to do this.

ZAHN: So then you need to write these speeches for both of these men.

KLEIN: No, no, no, but just think back to Franklin Roosevelt. He was able to communicate in a way that was emotionally comprehensible to people during World War II. He had his fireside chats, he was very calm, but he was also very...

ZAHN: And very concerned.

KLEIN: And he was very detailed. Take out a map and say, here's the situation that we have in North Africa -- and I haven't seen President Bush, for example, take out a map and say, here's Iraq and here are some of the problems we're facing, or, for that matter, acknowledge that things have really gone askew there.

ZAHN: But I also understand there is a division in the Kerry camp about how many specifics he should offer at this point and how critical he should be of the president.

KLEIN: Well, yeah, I think that, you know, one of the basic rules for John Kerry at this point is that the more he seems like a politician, the worse it is. The more he seems like a statesman, the better it is. And a lot of this avoiding talking about Iraq, he had practically nothing to say about Iraq today in this speech, makes him seem, I think, pretty political.

I think that what he does need to do and what might be statesman- like, is, as I said, to make some kind of an emotional connection. To make people understand that he knows how concerned they are, how angry they are and how frustrated they are.

ZAHN: But you also don't want him using the Al Gore model from last night.

KLEIN: No.

ZAHN: We got that. Thank you, Joe. See you later in the week.

A little bit later on in the show, politics and soaring gasoline prices. Record high prices could be a major problem and a major opportunity in the campaign for president. We're going to talk gas pump politics as we continue our "Crude Awakening" series.

But next, President Bush calls on the U.N. to help American forces bear the risk and responsibility in Iraq. I'll ask former U.N. ambassador and John Kerry adviser, Richard Holbrooke, about that. And I'll ask him what John Kerry would do differently right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Gaining more international support is one of the five steps President Bush laid out this week on the road to democracy in Iraq. That means he needs some help from the United Nations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After June 30, American and other forces will still have important duties. American military forces in Iraq will operate under American command as a part of a multi-national force authorized by the United Nations. Iraq's new sovereign government will still face enormous security challenges, and our forces will be there to help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Well, getting what he wants and needs from the U.N. may be quite a challenge for the president. Tonight we continue our week- long look at the president's five-step plan for Iraq with this report from senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even if France's U.N. ambassador manages to hypnotize the U.S. ambassador, no one will forget the bruising diplomatic battle before the war on Iraq. And now, round two.

HERALDO MUNOZ, CHILEAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: In a sense, we're working on the mother of all resolutions, on a resolution that will determine for quite a while what will happen in Iraq. ROTH: And that's why America's sparring partners in Europe want changes in the new U.S.-British Security Council resolution, demanding more Iraqi autonomy, France, China and others say, to get it right this time in Iraq.

WANG GUUAGYA, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We feel that if sovereignty has been more clearly specified, this will help the Iraqis to understand that from this particular date, this is the new beginning.

ROTH: Former Canadian diplomat and U.N. expert David Malone circled the global block with me, analyzing the debate ahead.

(on camera): Well, would it be anything like the was before the war?

DAVID MALONE, PRES., INTERNATIONAL PEACE ACADEMY: No. I think, in many ways, it's going to be worse than it was before the war because of the absence of trust now. The bitterness runs quite deep between a number of countries over Iraq, countries that actually work with each other quite well on other issues.

ROTH: Like France here and the United States.

MALONE: Like France...

ROTH: Germany...

MALONE: ... like Germany and the U.S. They work very well with each other on other questions, but on Iraq, which is politically a sensitive issue in these countries, there's tremendous distrust of each other's motives.

ROTH (voice-over): But the front-line diplomatic soldiers, the ambassadors, seem eager to make a deal.

JOHN NEGROPONTE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I have not gotten any feedback or seen any reactions that, in my mind, would suggest that we're going to come up against some insuperable obstacle with respect to passing this resolution.

DAVID PHILLIPS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The Council is still deeply divided, but nobody wants another train wreck. So even if there are objections to the language, I think the intent here is for people to come together.

ROTH: But even if they agree on a resolution, most countries are not willing to send their own troops to serve under a U.S.-led multi- national force in Iraq.

MICHAEL BARNIER, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The question of sending or not sending French troops to Iraq is no longer relevant. And I can say it once again. There will be no troops, no French troops, in Iraq.

ROTH: The U.S. is not surprised at the rebuff. The French and others plan to contribute money for reconstruction, not boots on the ground for protection for the new Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And Richard Roth joins us now from the U.N. tonight. What's the latest from there on the resolution tonight?

ROTH: Well, a little bit of a split, Paula, between France, Germany on that side, and China, German chancellor Schroeder in Mexico City today saying he really can't put a deadline on getting the coalition forces out of Iraq. China wants a January, 2005, deadline. Schroeder says, Yes, you're eventually going to need to get them out, but that's a little too soon. So that's probably music to the U.S. ears. Work will continue next week on this resolution. They're all waiting for Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. envoy, to come back with his list of names for a new government -- Paula.

ZAHN: Richard Roth, thanks so much for the update.

Joining us now, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, who is also an adviser to the John Kerry campaign, although we're here tonight to talk about the U.N. Should there be a deadline? And what would be the acceptable deadline to get coalition troops out of Iraq?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR: This is a highly minor technical diplomatic issue....

ZAHN: But can you answer it? What would be a...

HOLBROOKE: I'm not -- I'm not at the U.N....

ZAHN: ... date-specific time.

HOLBROOKE: There's going to be a resolution. If there's a date, it will also have a clause to revisit, which means to extend. We're talking about a non-issue here.

ZAHN: Why is it a non-issue?

HOLBROOKE: Because it's going to happen, Paula. Let's talk about what's really happening on the ground in Fallujah and Najaf. There will be a resolution. This argument between the Germans and the Chinese is just empty theater. It'll be worked out.

There are huge issues with American troops and lives on the line at risk tonight. We have made a deal today in Najaf with Muqtada al Sadr, which is mind-boggling to me. The American troops have pulled out, except for a handful of symbolic troops. They have dropped the death warrant, the indictment against him. He is allegedly removing his forces from the city. Nobody knows.

This is a bizarre defeat for the United States, just as Fallujah was, being presented as victory. We have turned over Fallujah to Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, and we're turning over Najaf to Muqtada al Sadr. And "The New York Times" is reporting in tomorrow's edition he may end up being in Brahimi's new government. That is the issue. What happens at the U.N. is minor.

ZAHN: But what does this mean to Mr. Brahimi, then, and his ability to help cobble together a government, then?

HOLBROOKE: Brahimi's a very skilled diplomat. I've worked with him very closely. What he can do, I don't know.

ZAHN: Do you have any faith in his abilities? You say he's a skilled diplomat.

HOLBROOKE: It's...

ZAHN: Can he impose democracy on Iraq?

HOLBROOKE: Can he impose democracy...

ZAHN: Through this new government?

HOLBROOKE: I don't think anyone can impose democracy on Iraq. And Brahimi, I can assure you, is not trying to impose democracy on Iraq. He's trying to replicate his semi-success in Afghanistan. He's trying to do a council. He's trying to pick out people.

Two days ago, the United States leaked the name of his prime minister, this scientist, Shahristani (ph), who...

ZAHN: Who now says he's not...

HOLBROOKE: ... immediately, as soon as...

ZAHN: ... interested in the job.

HOLBROOKE: ... his name appears in the newspapers, he says, Not me. We have 34 days to go. The United States has turned its most important national security crisis, as Joe Klein said in the previous segment -- most important crisis since Vietnam -- over to Lakhdar Brahimi. Good guy. He's not our guy. A hundred and thirty-five thousand troops on the ground, at risk, while Lakhdar Brahimi, a Sunni Arab, I might point out, which has a lot of implications in Sunni- Shi'ite politics in Iraq, makes a decision. It is a policy whose wheels have come off. It is a tragedy for the United States.

ZAHN: When you say he is not our guy, what am I to read into that?

HOLBROOKE: Whatever you want. He's not...

ZAHN: Well, what do you want us to read into it? What do you mean by that?

HOLBROOKE: The United States -- a year ago, the United States government threw away the U.N.'s opportunities to help, told the allies they didn't want them, said we'd go it alone, created an occupation authority under Jerry Bremer, Ambassador Bremer, the wrong man for the job, had no diplomatic operational experience of that sort. He'd been ambassador to the Netherlands. He'd never done operational diplomacy -- very rigid guy. Negroponte, who's going out there now, is a much, much better diplomat. Bremer then laid out a seven-point program on November 15 of last year, every one of which steps either was failed, wasn't achieved, or will now be abandoned.

The occupation -- and I say this with the greatest regret because, as you know, I was on this program to say it, I supported President Bush. But they did not have a plan for peace, and a war is only as good as the peace that follows. And now, without any subsequent plans, they have turned the thing over to the U.N. I am in favor of a strong U.N., but not to let the U.N. make our national security policy and not to have Brahimi make it. And that's the mess that they have now created as you...

ZAHN: And you say there's no way...

HOLBROOKE: ... count down night after night...

ZAHN: ... out of that.

HOLBROOKE: I didn't say there's no way out.

ZAHN: Well, is there a way out of that? I mean, if you feel...

HOLBROOKE: Well, what George W. Bush...

ZAHN: ... that Brahimi is not the U.S. guy over there, what is your fear that he's going to do...

HOLBROOKE: In his -- in...

ZAHN: ... that will not reflect well...

HOLBROOKE: You know, in President Bush's...

ZAHN: ... or mean well for U.S. troops?

HOLBROOKE: In President Bush's infamous primetime press conference, you and your colleagues reported that the headline was, We will never waver. That wasn't the headline. The headline was, Brahimi will tell us who we're turning it over to. A hundred and thirty-five thousand American troops will still be in harm's way when that happens, and we sit here tonight -- not just you and me, but the president of the United States and the generals commanding -- and we don't know who our troops are going to be defending.

Not one single goal laid out by this administration, with the sole exception of getting rid of Saddam and capturing him, has been achieved. It is a tragedy. And as Joe Klein said earlier, the strategic consequences of failure are unacceptable. That is why Senator Kerry laid out his alternate strategy in Fulton, Missouri, three weeks ago and amplified it in a broader context today.

And you asked earlier what...

ZAHN: All right...

HOLBROOKE: ... the difference is between Kerry and Bush. Let me just say...

ZAHN: You got to do it very quickly. I got hard break here.

HOLBROOKE: Well, there's a tremendous difference, Paula. Anyone who knows the two men, anyone who's listened to them, has seen that Kerry has been consistent throughout. Bush is moving his way. It's too little, too late.

ZAHN: We have to leave it there, Mr. Holbrooke. Thank you for dropping by. Appreciate it.

Coming up still ahead: the explosive potential of gasoline prices in the presidential campaign. We're going to look at what that might mean come November and whether the issue could help either candidate win the election. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: So do you do a slow burn while you're filling up your car these days? Well, both political parties hope so, and they hope you'll be so mad by election day, you'll take it out on the other guy. As we continue our series "Crude Awakening," Tom Foreman surveys the politics at the pump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every morning in the crush of the rush into the nation's capital, John Terhar thinks about politics and pump prices. And he gets angry.

JOHN TERHAR, COMMUTER: You know why? Because the life that I have is not the life that my kids are going to have. They're not going to be able to just drive all over the place and enjoy the country because, quite frankly, the cost is going to be prohibitive.

FOREMAN: In this emotionally charged election year, such sentiments are what John Kerry wants to take advantage of. He is talking up a national plan for more efficient cars and alternative fuels, and he's talking down what he calls the big oil administration, where $2 gas makes the rich richer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But for American families, it means $834 more per year in gas prices. It's time to clean up the White House.

FOREMAN: President Bush, in a counteroffensive, is promoting development of hydrogen-powered cars and the still controversial idea of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Bush ads suggest Kerry really does not care what gas costs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He supported higher gasoline taxes 11 times. Maybe John Kerry doesn't understand what his ideas mean to the rest of us.

FOREMAN: So will the issue help either candidate win the White House? Only a few blocks away, George Washington University professor Chris Arterton says maybe. CHRIS ARTERTON, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: In the minds of the American public, gas, this energy -- this administration, energy prices and the war in Iraq are all sort of tied up together. So I think this is a very, very serious issue for the administration.

FOREMAN: The latest CNN poll shows 59 percent of Americans believe gas prices will cause them financial hardship. Almost half consider this a major problem for the country; 15 percent call it a crisis. When President Jimmy Carter faced an energy crisis in the late '70s, he told Americans to conserve, get tough.

JIMMY CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a crisis of confidence.

FOREMAN: Voters told him to get out, and Ronald Reagan was elected.

(on camera): Oddly enough, the reason gasoline prices are so high, according to the petroleum industry, has relatively little to do with the presidency.

(voice-over): Rapidly growing worldwide demand is the culprit, they say. Still, at the pumps...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not very happy because I can't even afford to get more than three gallons.

FOREMAN: And if prices keep climbing, history suggest voters may look to their wallets down the road.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: When we come back: What's the best way to end the gas crunch? We'll debate some solutions with Colorado governor Bill Owens and environmentalist Robert Kennedy, Jr. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back. So which political party gets the most mileage out of high oil prices, and where can we find alternative sources of oil? I'm joined by two guests with very different points of view. In Denver is Colorado governor Bill Owens a Republican. And here with me, Robert Kennedy, Jr. He is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Good to see both of you.

Governor Owens, I wanted to start with you this evening. Today Senator Kerry said that, if elected, he would work to eliminate U.S. dependence on foreign oil. How would you react to his charge that the Bush administration has ignored the problems posed by our dependence on foreign oil?

GOV. BILL OWENS (R), COLORADO: You know, Paula, it's clear to me that it's a presidential election year and John Kerry is running for president. This is the same senator who last year missed the vote on the president's energy package because he was out campaigning for president of the United States. This is a plan that would have put $300 million into solar research, $3 billion into renewable energy research over the next five years. Senator Kerry thought so little of his duties as a senator that he missed probably the most important vote on energy last year.

ZAHN: Look, I don't know what...

OWENS: It is a political year...

ZAHN: ... his reasons were for missing the vote that day, but why don't you...

OWENS: Well, he was campaigning in Iowa.

ZAHN: ... Robert, react to the specifics of what he said, the two prongs of the energy plan. Do you have a quibble with those parts?

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR, ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY: Yes. The energy plan itself was a -- "The Wall Street Journal" called it $145 billion boondoggle, the biggest boondoggle that has ever made it through the legislative process on Capitol Hill. It was a gift to the large oil companies and coal companies, huge public subsidies. It would not have reduced our dependence on foreign oil, it would have increased our dependence on foreign oil.

The president's plan is to drill in the Arctic. If we drilled all the oil out of all of our national parks, all of our national refuges -- we have less than 3 percent of global reserves in this country. We use 25 percent of the oil. There is no way that we can drill our way out of oil dependence. The way that we have to do this right now is to start conserving. We could have conserve -- we could eliminate 100 percent of our imports from the Gulf simply by raising fuel efficiency standards in this country by 8 percent.

ZAHN: What about that?

KENNEDY: By 8 miles per gallon.

ZAHN: Is that something the president is guilty of not embracing enough, the whole idea of conservation, Governor Owens?

OWENS: No, not at all. The president's plan, in fact -- and he's put tougher fuel economy standards on light trucks, the toughest in 20 years. But we can't conserve our way out of this problem. Mr. Kennedy has for years wanted to see prices increase because he thinks that we waste too much energy. In fact, what we need to do is have more domestic supply of energy so that when we -- when we do negotiate with OPEC, we negotiate from a position of strength.

ZAHN: All right, let's come back to your specific charges. You want to see gas prices going up because that will...

KENNEDY: No, no!

ZAHN: ... force us to conserve. KENNEDY: I don't want to see gas prices...

ZAHN: Is that true?

KENNEDY: ... going up. I want to see greater fuel efficiency standard -- economy standards.

ZAHN: For light trucks, was that a move in the right direction for imposing those standards?

KENNEDY: No, the fuel economy standards have dropped dramatically, and the president has given a $100,000 tax deduction for Hummers and for the 18 biggest 6,000-pound automobiles...

OWENS: Mr. Kennedy, we...

KENNEDY: ... the SUVs.

OWENS: We can't simply...

KENNEDY: Let me just finish...

OWENS: Well, you've been talking...

KENNEDY: Let me -- let me -- let me finish...

OWENS: ... all the time.

KENNEDY: Let me finish what I'm going to say. We cannot...

OWENS: Go ahead, and then I'll respond.

KENNEDY: We cannot drill our way out of oil dependence. The quickest way to yield -- to produce oil is through conservation. Over the long term, we need also to do hydrogen, we need to do alternative fuels, but the quickest way to immediately reduce or eliminate our dependence on Mideast oil is through conservation. We can do that today.

ZAHN: Governor, you get the last word, and I can go you about 20 seconds.

OWENS: The president's plan would have, in fact, resulted in significant conservation. But what Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Kerry wanted to do and have been wanting to do is increase oil prices to force that sort of conservation. The president would have increased domestic production. That's one way to help us lower gasoline prices.

ZAHN: You still deny that charge...

KENNEDY: Yes, the...

ZAHN: ... you want to raise prices. But we got to leave it there, gentlemen. We'll have to bring you back. Lively debate! Governor Bill Owens...

OWENS: Thanks.

ZAHN: ... Robert Kennedy, Jr., thank you for both of your perspectives.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Tomorrow we'll be live from Washington, as America and its veterans prepare to dedicate the first national World War II memorial. And then join me on Saturday at 2:00 PM for special coverage of the dedication ceremony.

Thanks for joining us. Good night.

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