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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

Review Of Michael Moore's New Movie; Jack Ryan drops out of Senate race in Illinois; U.S. bomb narrowly misses al-Zarqawi

Aired June 25, 2004 - 22:00   ET

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


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again everyone.
By this time next week the handover in Iraq will be over. Iraqis will again be in charge of their country more or less. The truth is that one of the great problems in Iraq has been the unwillingness of Iraqis to take much responsibility for their country during the occupation, everything from the breakdown of security to the lack of electricity has been the fault of the Americans.

It has never been that simple but it does, of course, prove the truth of a great old maxim, nobody ever washed a rented car. If you don't own it, you just don't care much about it.

Come next week, the Iraqis will gain own their country. The car will no longer be rented. The real test of the future will begin and it will begin apparently with one of the most dangerous men in the country still on the loose, but American sources say they almost got him today.

The whip starts with David Ensor, David a headline.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, a senior U.S. defense official told CNN that U.S. bombs narrowly missed killing Abu Musab Zarqawi, he believes, and he made clear they will try again -- Aaron.

BROWN: David, thank you.

Next to Baghdad, ratcheting up security with less to work with than many would like, CNN's Christiane Amanpour again there for us tonight, Christiane a headline.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, there's much less talk of marshal law and a lot more talk of putting up a ring of steel around Baghdad and other important sites to try to stop insurgents and truck bombs derailing the handover period.

BROWN: Christiane, thank you.

Chicago next and a soap opera you might call Ryan's hope dashed, CNN's Jonathan Freed with that tonight, Jon a headline.

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, this is a story where everybody had been waiting for the other shoe to drop and it turns out that when it did it was a high-heeled boot. BROWN: Jon, thank you.

And finally it's propaganda. It's a documentary. Could it be two movies in one? "Fahrenheit 9/11" opened nationwide today. Jeff Greenfield went to see it, so Jeff a headline.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Aaron, you know how parents always tell their children don't worry it's only a movie? Well, there's one thing about Michael Moore's incendiary cinematic attack on President Bush. It seems that it's not just a movie -- Aaron.

BROWN: Jeff, thank you. We'll get back to you and the rest shortly.

Also coming up on this Friday night we'll introduce you to Ahmed. He's what's called a foreign fighter waging a battle not in his country but in Iraq and his mission the murder of Americans there. It is a rare look inside the jihadists of Iraq.

Plus a new test of the so-called new Los Angeles Police Department and, once again, the question is do the pictures tell or distort the story?

And since it's Friday, we'll showcase the job many NEWSNIGHT staffers can only dream of having, the tabloids along with morning papers, got some dandies there, all that and more in the hour ahead.

We begin tonight in Iraq. For months now the United States has been fighting two wars there and two enemies, a homegrown insurgency and a pack of killers drawn to Iraq from all corners of the Muslim world.

Now with five days to go until the political handover there is concern that the two enemies have begun working as one and Baghdad is bracing for trouble because of it. A cordon has gone up around the city to stop the bad guys from getting in and today American warplanes took aim at one of their leaders.

We begin tonight with CNN's David Ensor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ENSOR (voice-over): When the bombs fell, a senior defense official says, the air strike on this house in Fallujah came very close to killing a man the U.S. believes may have been Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, the most wanted terrorist in Iraq.

The official said the U.S. had "eyes on the target." Just as U.S. planes unleashed 500-pound precision guided bombs, a convoy of cars pulled up at the house and man got out.

When the bombs fell he was knocked to the ground. His guards picked him up alive and put him in a car and sped away. The senior official says the U.S. believes the man was Zarqawi. No one else is believed to travel with so much security in the area. The massive U.S. effort now to get Zarqawi comes after a slew of terror attacks, which Iraqi and American officials attribute to his network.

RICHARD ARMITAGE, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We underestimated the degree to which this enemy had a central nervous system and I think the attacks the other day show that it does have a central nervous system.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: I'd just say I think there may be more than one central nervous system and there may be a loose coordination between them and clearly the old regime have been coordinating with each other for years.

ENSOR: Officials declined to say but the details described by the source suggest the U.S. may have witnesses on the ground or predator surveillance drones over Fallujah watching for Zarqawi in particular.

In Fallujah, armed and masked militants read a statement denying that Zarqawi is in their city. "The U.S. occupying forces claim that al-Zarqawi and a group of Arab fighters are in our city to deceive the world," said one calling it a game by the American intelligence to hit Islam and Muslims in the city.

(on camera): But U.S. officials say they have fresh intelligence indicating that Zarqawi and his gang may be using Fallujah as a base for their operations.

David Ensor, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Today in the last Friday sermons before the handover, Sunni clerics for the most part railed against the United States. Shiite clerics spoke out against the acts of terror that have claimed more than a few Shiite lives. They call on the new Iraqi government to crack down. Whether in fact it can is an open question tonight.

Again from Baghdad, CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Iraq's new defense and interior ministers are appealing to their people for information on the terrorists and they speak of an imminent showdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will go and attack the enemy before it attacks us. We have plans in that regard so that we can curtail their sabotaging efforts. We will carry out raid operations.

AMANPOUR: There were no details, no talk yet of marshal law but the U.S. general in charge of setting up Iraq's new forces says even after the handover American troops won't be too far away.

LT. GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, OFFICE OF SECURITY TRAINING: In some cases with them, in some cases around the corner from them, certainly there to provide backup. One of the critical components of what must happen in the days and weeks ahead is that there must be a sense of Iraqi security forces that if they get in trouble coalition forces will come to the rescue if need be.

AMANPOUR: Iraqi forces have just received an emergency delivery from the United States, 56,000 set of body armor with another 12,000 to follow next week, 60,000 kevlar helmets, more than 600 radios and 1,000 vehicles, plus heavy machineguns, RPGs and ammunition, welcome news at training bases like this one run by a unit of the Arkansas National Guard.

LT. MICHAEL SCOTT, ARKANSAS NATIONAL GUARD: We've secured the freedom of Iraq but it's these people, these soldiers that we're training now that are going to have to fight to keep it and that's what we're trying to prepare them for.

AMANPOUR: American soldiers say that with the right equipment the Iraqis could do the job.

SGT. RANDY FLETCHER, ARKANSAS NATIONAL GUARD: We are working with them every day to get them prepared. Like was already mentioned, we've got one company that's already ready for missions. We've got two platoons of new recruits that we're working with. They're going to be going off to what's called their basic training.

AMANPOUR: Meantime, more Iraqi police and army checkpoints are going up around Baghdad with U.S. military support. It's a firewall against insurgents the U.S. admits are a serious threat.

PETRAEUS: At times they have been able to establish new beach heads if you will and that's what's happened most recently, clearly, that they have been able to create basically a ring of truck bomb manufacturers around the country and they've been able to explode one a day certainly for several weeks. We have been attacking these guys very vigorously.

AMANPOUR: Up north in Mosul, U.S. commanders say they are pleased that it was Iraqi forces who responded first to the suicide bombings that killed more than 60 people on Thursday.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: So, while it is still slow going with the Iraqi forces, you can see a new urgency is being applied here and, as we've reported, something that does encourage the forces here is that for instance in Mosul it was those Iraqis who responded first and they're hoping that that is what's going to happen more and more -- Aaron.

BROWN: Well, the test will be whether they'll actually stand and fight other Iraqis. Just you've been in country now I guess a little bit more than a week. Tell me how in Baghdad a sense of tension has increased, if it has increased, as the handover approaches.

AMANPOUR: It has increased because certainly of all the warnings and threats that we receive but also because of what happened on Thursday and there is sort of a feeling here that something is about to blow but hopefully this effort to put up checkpoints and to increase vigilance and security and patrols will work.

BROWN: Christiane, thank you. Stay safe. We'll talk next week, Christiane Amanpour in Baghdad tonight.

We've said before on the program that insurgent is a tricky word, a blanket label that simplifies a very complicated situation. The Iraqi insurgency in fact has many threads, Sunni, Shiite, religious, secular, domestic, foreign. Abu Musab Zarqawi is by far the most familiar and most wanted foreign fighter in Iraq but he is not the only one, far from it.

CNN has been investigating this piece of the insurgency and tonight we introduce you to one young man who left his home in Syria to fight in Iraq. A German news crew got the interview.

CNN's Jim Clancy does the reporting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Posters honoring those who died fighting against the Americans found not in Baghdad or the Sunni Triangle but here in the Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in neighboring Syria. Ahmed who asked us not to show his face or use his full name lives here. He says he's been to Iraq several times waging war on U.S. troops.

AHMED, FOREIGN FIGHTER IN IRAQ (through translator): We try to hide among civilians. We hit and try to hide.

CLANCY: When U.S. troops first invaded Iraq, Ahmed and others from here took busses to the Syrian-Iraqi border. They paid money to be smuggled across.

AHMED (through translator): There are American patrols everywhere. Anywhere you want to target them you set up with bombs, light weapons, and rocket-propelled grenades.

CLANCY: Just how many of these so-called foreign fighters are in Iraq is not clear. Coalition military estimates have ranged from the hundreds all the way into the thousands.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Oh, it's tough to know. The borders are porous. We know a lot of them came in from Syria and we know some came in from Iran.

CLANCY: The coalition says there are some 200 of what it calls third party nationals that it has in custody. Ahmed says they come from all over the Arab world.

AHMED (through translator): There are groups of Syrians and Palestinians, Saudis, Yemenis. They were from all nationalities.

CLANCY: The biggest impact of these foreign fighters seems to be suicide bombings like this one in the heart of Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All suicide bombers they are not Iraqis.

CLANCY (on camera): All across the Arab world, Iraq has become a rallying cry against the United States. Moreover, it is a place where arms are easily available. There is an abundance of U.S.-linked targets and therefore the opportunity to claim having taken part in the jihad against America.

(voice-over): Much in the way a previous generation went to Afghanistan and fought against the Soviets many of them becoming followers of a young man named Osama bin Laden.

JONATHAN STEVENSON, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: Those who have gone to Iraq will stand in similar shoes to those who went to Afghanistan.

CLANCY: In Yarmouk, there are already monuments to those who gave their lives in Iraq. Ahmed wants to sneak back across the border from Syria, he says. He also says he's still considering becoming a suicide bomber.

Jim Clancy, CNN, Dubai.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: You can see much more of Jim's reporting on the foreign fighters and much more on the situation in Iraq this Sunday at eight o'clock, a "CNN PRESENTS" special "COUNTDOWN TO HANDOVER." That's Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.

On to Saudi Arabia now where if you're a foreign national the question on your mind is whether to stay or leave the kingdom or perhaps whether you should have left yesterday.

In a string of deadly attacks on westerners, the most recent the beheading of civilian engineer Paul Johnson, is haunting the expatriates who remain in the region. For those who have chosen to stay, at least for now, how to defend themselves is a central concern.

Our story reported tonight by CNN's Nic Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the fate of U.S. helicopter engineer Paul Johnson that scares expatriate western workers here the most. These three expats are still in Saudi Arabia and want to remain anonymous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm so worried is somebody going to get in here? Is somebody going to walk into my car, my house and try and hurt me because I have no way to defend myself? I've gotten my carpenter to make a spear. I mean these guys have automatic weapons and I've got a spear.

ROBERTSON: Morale among this beleaguered community is low. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, when you see the situation like with Mr. Johnson, people readily have to make a decision. What am I going to do? I've just seen these actions taking place. They're threatening to do more. I have to say I want to go.

ROBERTSON: The question for those that remain is it still worth staying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you start confining yourself to the compound and living like a prisoner there comes a point in time where, you know, it's just not worth it and it's just -- if you're going to live like that you might as well head out and go back to America.

ROBERTSON: Within hours of our interview, news from the Saudi authorities that foreigners can apply for gun permits. Contacted by phone, the three say that gives them greater confidence but they feel more needs to be done.

(on camera): While security checks here at Riyadh's main diplomatic compound are very strict, what concerns many expatriate western workers is that at the compounds where they live security if not as professional or rigorous.

(voice-over): At talks planned with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal this weekend, U.S. officials hope to improve compound security. Negotiations are continuing to allow armed private security companies to protect western workers and, in that context, the U.S. officials say the new gun laws are a positive step.

How quickly Interior Minister Prince Nayaf Bin Abdul Aziz intends to implement the new ruling is unclear as are the details on gun licensing, import and training. By Saudi Arabia's past practices, however, he appears to be moving with haste.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Nearly as tense tonight is the turf surrounding a castle in Ireland's County Clare. Six thousand troops and police officers are on call for the president's summit with European leaders.

Mr. Bush was greeted by protesters, not the tradition for Americans who come calling to Ireland. As one reporter there put it, "This isn't the age of JFK and Marilyn or even Bill Clinton." Another reporter for Irish television shared a contentious moment with the president during an interview yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one can argue that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein, if Saddam Hussein were in power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Mr. President, the world is a more dangerous place today. I don't know whether you can see that or not. BUSH: Why do you say that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are terrorist bombings every single day. It's now a daily event. It wasn't like that two years ago.

BUSH: What was it like September the 11th, 2001? It was a -- there was a relative calm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it's your response to Iraq that's considered...

BUSH: Let me finish. Let me finish please, please. You ask the questions and I'll answer them if you don't mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: An interview with Irish television.

Ahead on NEWSNIGHT tonight, sex, lies and run for the U.S. Senate. Believe us the three do go hand-in-hand, at least they do tonight. Just ask Jack Ryan.

Also damage control in Los Angeles for the LAPD again.

From New York this is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Well now it may have been Henry VIII, Alice Roosevelt or Dear Abby, but someone once said, "I don't care what people do as long as they don't do it in the streets and scare the horses." And in Jack Ryan's case it didn't scare the horses.

It did, however, scare the elephants in Illinois and in Washington, which is why the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois became the former candidate today.

Reporting tonight CNN's Jonathan Freed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREED (voice-over): Jack Ryan's Senate campaign imploded after a week of his pleas for understanding.

JACK RYAN, FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: I would never again go to a nightclub or anything like that that I thought might be the least outside the norm, believe me.

FREED: The trouble was too many people, including many in the Republican leadership, didn't know if they could believe Ryan anymore. On Monday, the Illinois candidate released 4-year-old divorce documents that had been unsealed by a California court because of legal action by two Chicago news organizations.

In the papers his then wife, actress Jerri Ryan of "Star Trek Voyager" and "Boston Public," accused him of trying to pressure her to have sex in front of other people at erotic nightclubs. Ryan denied it.

RYAN: Well, we intend to be in this race until November and win in November.

FREED: But many in the GOP establishment felt betrayed. For months, the millionaire and first time candidate had insisted there was nothing damaging in the custody documents, which both Ryans fought to keep sealed they insisted for the sake of their 9-year-old son.

When he finally gave in to the pressure to quit, Ryan issued a written statement saying: "The media has gotten out of control" and that a "vigorous debate on the issues could not take place if I remain in the race."

JUDY BAAR TOPINKA, ILLINOIS REPUBLICAN CHAIRWOMAN: This has been a bad week really for and a tough time for our party and for the city.

FREED: Illinois GOP Chairwoman denies Ryan was pushed.

TOPINKA: No, this was a very personal decision. We purposely laid back so that Jack could make up his own mind without the intrusion of politics.

FREED: The state's Republican Central Committee will now name a new candidate to go up against Democrat Barack Obama who's been leading in the polls. The GOP holds the seat now and it could help shift control of the Senate.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FREED: Now, Aaron, some are hoping that former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar agrees to run. So far he has not agreed to do so. They believe that he's a moderate Republican who could do well against the Democrats.

BROWN: And the time frame for making their selection is what?

FREED: They're looking at three weeks right now. There are 19 members of the state GOP committee and they are literally going to be taking calls they said in a news conference today hearing from anybody, in particular members of the Republican Party here in Illinois, who want to submit names and in about three weeks they're going to sit down, sort it out and pick somebody.

BROWN: Well, they do that well in Illinois and around Chicago. Thank you Jon, Jonathan Freed in Chicago tonight. It was the media that was out of control in that story.

Next to Los Angeles and the beating of an African American man, a suspected car thief at the hands of police. It played out Wednesday morning and as things go in Los Angeles it played out on local TV.

Stanley Miller, the suspect and the alleged victim, was in court today expecting to face charges. The D.A. held off. As for the officer who swung the flashlight eleven times, he and seven others have been taken off patrol. Three investigations now underway. The mayor appealing for calm and it has been calm in L.A.

One other quick item. The Department of Agriculture says an animal carcass has come up positive in a preliminary screening test for Mad Cow disease, a test that often results in false positives. Officials won't say where the animal came from or even whether it's a cow, a bull or steer. They do say meat from it never made it into the food supply and that more testing is underway.

Still ahead on NEWSNIGHT tonight, if you haven't heard of him you're likely to have been living in a cave, Jeff Greenfield's take on Michael Moore and the accuracy of his movie after the break.

And from the people who made the planet a little less lonely some wonderful still photos to make it a lot more colorful.

This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: In the news business, it's often said if all sides in the story accuse you of favoring the others you probably got it just about right. Michael Moore, however, is not a reporter.

He makes movies that have a point of view in capital letters, usually pretty clear which side he is on. Well, OK, you'd be blind not to notice which side he is on. His latest movie opened nationwide today.

Here's our Senior Analyst Jeff Greenfield.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friends and I decided to pose as a TV crew from Toledo to sneak inside the factory.

GREENFIELD (voice-over): Fifteen years ago, filmmaker Michael Moore released "Roger & Me." It portrayed the devastating impact on his hometown of Flint, Michigan from General Motors plant closings.

Moore's comic thread, his fruitless pursuit of GM Chief Roger Smith, helped make it a hugely successful film in spite of some critics who charged that Moore had played fast and loose with the time sequence of events.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, here's my first question. Do you think it's a little dangerous handing out guns in a bank?

GREENFIELD: In 2002, Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" took on gun violence in America in the wake of the school shooting in Littleton, Colorado. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary and became the highest grossing non-music documentary in history in spite of some critics who charged that Moore had played fast and loose with some of the facts.

For example, Moore suggested that a military missile plant in Littleton may have helped create the atmosphere for the school shootings. In fact, that Lockheed Martin plant made launch vehicles for TV satellites.

But those controversies were blips compared to the furor triggered by Moore's latest offering, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this spring and which just opened in the United States to rapturous praise and searing condemnation.

(on camera): Michael Moore makes no pretense of balance or fairness here. This film is a brief against the president. It portrays Bush as a lazy, empty-headed child of privilege who came to power in a stolen election and who used the attacks of September 11 as a pretext to wage a war against a country that posed no threat and did us no harm.

(voice-over): There are some standard Michael Moore devices, for instance the confrontation with authority. Here, Moore attempts to persuade some members of Congress to offer up their children for enlistment in the military.

Here, Moore attempts to persuade some members of Congress to offer up their children for enlistment in the military. And a series of clips try to turn Bush's own words against him, for instance, this sound bite from a golf course on the war on terror.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FAHRENHEIT 9/11")

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you.

Now watch this drive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: Or this quip at a white-tie dinner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FAHRENHEIT 9/11")

BUSH: Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: But many of the controversies surround clips that were not provided to us for screening, such as a series of greetings between Bush, father and son, with a variety of Saudis.

Moore argues that a long-standing cozy financial relationship is why Saudis were permitted to fly out of the country just after 9/11. No less a Bush critic than onetime terrorism chief Richard Clarke says it was his decision and he would do it again.

Moore's response, that does not explain why the Saudis were put in the head of the line.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GREENFIELD: Now, other disputes have to deal with the meaning of the images Moore offers. He shows us, for instance, scenes of a peaceful, tranquil Iraq on the eve of the war, barber shops, weddings, kids flying kites, the same kind of images we could have seen from Tokyo just before Pearl Harbor.

Moore told me he wasn't trying to minimize Saddam's evil, just to show the inevitable innocent victims of U.S. bombing that he says is much less precise than advertised. He shows us a parade of administration officials being made up for television appearances, shots that would make just about any one of us look silly. No, Moore, told me, it was a metaphor, the actors about to appear to recite their fictions.

And the film's most powerful moments come as we watch the grief of a proud mother of a soldier after she learns of her son's death in Iraq, grief that of course cannot tell us whether that death was in pursuit of a worthy cause or folly.

I asked Moore whether he thought this polemic would change any minds. No, he said, not the undecided, but, he added, it might get more young people to the polls this fall. And that's one point about which there is no dispute, Aaron. The whole point of this movie is to help defeat President Bush in November.

BROWN: Jeff.

And we introduce another Jeff. Jeff Jarvis is with us. He's a former TV critic for "TV Guide" and for "People" magazine, Mr. Jarvis also the editor and creator of "Entertainment Weekly" magazine. He writes a blog called BuzzMachine.com. And, most importantly to us, he reviewed the movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

It's nice to see you.

You hated it.

JEFF JARVIS, BUZZMACHINE.COM: I did, and I shouldn't have.

I'm not a Bush voter, but it is so unfair. It is such a two-by- four polemic that it makes even me want to defend Bush against it. It just -- it also insults our intelligence. Rather than trying to be funny, which is what Moore used to do to make points, it just bashes us. It seethes. And when someone seethes in your face, it makes you uncomfortable. You want to back off. And that's the way he is in this. It's uncomfortable.

BROWN: Jeff?

GREENFIELD: I think this is -- there's no pretense that this is a fair movie.

To me, it's like a Rush Limbaugh rant. Rush Limbaugh takes facts and shapes them around his point of view. I also think that how you see this movie to a great extent depends on how you see the war. Jeff's blog, which a lot of us read, has been relatively looking for positive news, I think. You remind us that the media can sometimes be negative.

People who look at this war and think it was a mistake from the beginning, or worse, are going to love this movie. But he doesn't pretend that it's fair.

JARVIS: But the problem is that, if you were going to do that, the more useful thing to do for the democracy and for discussion would be to give you both sides and then beat down the other side. But he even doesn't bother trying to give you the other side.

BROWN: Isn't this, just to get to my favorite issue, I suppose, isn't this exactly what American politics has become anyway? I mean, you know, there is this -- there is a kind of nasty undercurrent in the movie. There is a nastiness in American politics every day. The vice president yesterday goes off on a senator in language you would wash your kid's...

JARVIS: That the FCC would now charge him $3 million a day for.

BROWN: And you'd wash your kid's mouth out with soap if he used. That's where we are.

JARVIS: I would argue that that's our fault, to a great extent.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: That's our fault?

JARVIS: It's our fault.

We present America as if we're a nation divided. I really think we're a nation undecided. I think, if you look at the primaries, people were trying to decide whom to vote for. I don't think they live politics every day the way we think they do. And I think that we're not as divided as it seems. And something like this comes along, and that's exactly the damage it does.

The us vs. them in them, the them is not bin Laden. The them is not Saddam Hussein. The them is George Bush. And there are people attacking us as a nation right now. I was at 9/11 at the World Trade Center. It's very serious to me. I watched this movie blocks from there. And I resent the anger really at the wrong people. I'm not a Bush fan, but it's still one country.

GREENFIELD: I do agree that this is -- you can -- must put this into the pile, the best-selling books that split left and right. We are actually back to a kind of rhetoric that we had at the very beginning of the republic, where Thomas Jefferson was called an atheist and a supporter of forced prostitution for women and children, where John Quincy Adams was accused of pimping while he was envoy to the czar of Russia.

You can deplore it. You can try to argue where it started, but, to me, I can tell you this. The people who love this movie are people on the left who said, the liberals wimped out on the war in Iraq. The right is tougher than we are. They accused Clinton of everything, including murder. And now it's our turn to take this guy and...

(CROSSTALK)

JARVIS: There's just the problem. It's the same as Air America.

Why take Rush and say let's have our Rush? Why take Rush and say let's have our movie? Why not try to be more intelligent than that?

BROWN: Because I think what they're saying -- I'm not sure I agree with this -- but I think what they're saying is, look, if they're going to fight with knives, we're going to fight with knives, too.

GREENFIELD: Don't bring a knife to a gunfight, is an old line.

And, look, I like to think that shows like this and anchors like Aaron and even sometimes senior analysts try to do exactly what you're talking about. And, as I say, I don't think Michael Moore is trying to persuade here. He is trying to arouse. He's trying to, if you will, rally the base.

General Zinni isn't in this movie. Richard Clarke is only in it in a passing glance.

(CROSSTALK)

JARVIS: ...does no wrong here.

GREENFIELD: And those pictures, I think that Michael Moore's explanation of what those pictures of a peaceful, tranquil Iraq are doing in that picture, it's a little disingenuous.

JARVIS: It goes beyond.

He exploits a mother who lost her son in Iraq. And when she pleads I think to God saying, why did you have to take him, Moore's answer to that is a picture of Bush. That's the you. When the husband says, what are they dying for? Halliburton. It's so two-by- four. It's so unfair.

BROWN: I'm going to stop you both, but I'm going to do it gently because I never scream at anybody.

Thank you for coming in. It's nice to meet you.

JARVIS: Thank you.

BROWN: Nice job tonight. Thank you.

Talk to you next week, too. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Still ahead on the program tonight, a mandatory minimum moratorium of sorts, it is changing the way justice is being served. And which would make you more likely to stick around, the weather in Chicago or the story of Bigfoot's baby? It must be Friday. We've got tabloids.

We'll take a break. This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only juries, not judges, may lengthen prison terms beyond the maximum set out in state sentencing guidelines, part of an ongoing national debate about how long is enough, how long is too much when it comes to sending people away.

Prison is expensive. It costs nearly $30,000 a year to keep a person in a maximum security prison. During the crack wars of the '80s, it seemed a price many were willing to pay, less so today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): It is a monument to hard time, a modern fortress designed to hold Maryland's worst prisoners, all of them sentenced to long prison terms with little or no hope of parole.

MARY ANN SAAR, MARYLAND SECRETARY OF PUBLIC SAFETY & CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: When it was first opened, I think the whole country, including the state of Maryland, were in the height of let's lock them up, punish the heck out of them, make them really miserable.

BROWN: These days, this $21 million facility, nicknamed supermax for its maximum security cells, is a monument to a far different philosophy.

SAAR: It has no useful purpose in my mind in corrections at all. The sad part is, it was built like a fortress. So to tear it down, my engineers tell me, is a very expensive proposition, although that would be my druthers, to tear it down and build what we really need.

BROWN: What Maryland needs, she says, are prisons that can accommodate a wide ranges of offenders, not simply those serving long mandated sentences, sentences that were imposed in the '80s and '90s by state legislators eager to be viewed as tough on crime. These days, the trend is in the opposite direction.

NICK TURNER, VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE: Over half of the 50 states, in this country have either rolled back mandatory minimums or expanded drug treatments for nonviolent offenders to direct them to community based treatment rather than to prison.

BROWN: The reason, according to experts, is pretty simple. It comes down to money. In general, it is costing the states more than they believe they can afford to keep so many people in prison. The United States, according to the Justice Department, accounts for one- quarter of all of the world's incarcerated population.

TURNER: We have in this country two million people behind bars. You're not going to see us go back to one million any time soon, but I think you're certainly going to see a slowing of that growth and maybe even a reduction.

BROWN: Here's a quick snapshot of what's happening around the country.

Louisiana, for example, now gives judges discretion, instead of ordering them to hand down five-year sentences for the possession of a small amount of crack cocaine. Kansas now allows judges to send nonviolent drug offenders to treatment, rather than prison. Iowa has reduced the percentage of time felons must serve, from 85 percent of their sentence to 70.

DONALD CRAVINS (D), LOUISIANA STATE SENATOR: The intent is not to swing the jail doors open and let dangerous people out. We're not trying to impact public safety.

BROWN: This week, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy endorsed a proposal by a commission of the American Bar Association that would urge even further reductions in mandatory minimums. Said the justice, "tough on crime should not be a substitute for thoughtful reflection or lead us into moral blindness."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Ahead on NEWSNIGHT tonight, making a lonely planet a little friendlier with a little help from some still photos. We'll show them to you.

And despite the many mentions of tabloids tonight, have no fear. I'll do my best to make sure there is at least one legitimate headline in the mix, maybe two.

Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: After a week filled with reminders of the hatreds that divide us, we turn now to the ties that bind. They're captured in a book from Lonely Planet Travel people. The book is called "One Planet, See It For Yourself." It's all about common ground and connections. And it is a very welcome reminder these days.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROZ HOPKINS, "ONE PLANET": Our philosophy has always been to encourage people to just get out there and just do it. It is about taking that challenge, taking that leap.

We wanted to show images from all over the world. We wanted to show people doing all manner of different things. It was one of those situations where the concept developed sort of organically. And it became a book about the connections between people, between landscapes, between buildings, between emotions.

There's a crowd shot in Italy and a crowd shot in India. What I love about the one in Italy is, if you look at the image carefully, you'll see that everybody's talking to the person next to them. They're at a horse race or some kind of carnival, out for the day, totally immersed in one another. In the other image in India, it's a kind of spiritual gathering and it's actually a moment of prayer. You can tell that the people are connecting with each other in exactly the same way.

We have three monks walking through a lily pond, walking some time in the late evening. It's a very calm kind of image. They're just three men walking together in friendship and solidarity.

And then, on the other page, we have three men jumping in a rubbish dump somewhere in the Philippines, and they're doing exactly the same thing. They're three young men enjoying themselves and enjoying each other. And the background of the image is actually quite similar.

This was a pairing that was between an ancient medieval temple in Rajasthan in India and a much more contemporary temple in Kyoto in Japan. Those are colonnades, pillars running through both images.

The red on the left, the white on the right, and the person walking through it at exactly the same spot. So, again, it gives you a sense of the universality of what we do wherever we are, maybe experiencing exactly the same things.

Sometimes, it was simply the way that the images looked the same. So we had in one pairing some drums lined up against the wall and then, on the other side, we had some pots of dried paint, and they took the same shape. So, often, the connections were about the similarity in the way things looked and then, on other occasions, it was about the similarity in landscapes.

We talk about the canyons of Manhattan and all, Michigan avenue, and you can see that, in fact, the way that light carves out shapes is just the same in the Grand Canyon as it is on a skyscraper. So it was really trying to say, when you actually look at things, look at them as though it were with a fresh eye every time.

You imagine that, in some way, they're probably experiencing quite a similar thing, a similar emotion about the challenge of conquering something on your own and about being out there in the sort of vast and amazing space of nature and being really on your own, challenging nature in that way.

What I really want is for people to read this book to take some inspiration from it and to get out there and do things that they wouldn't perhaps have thought they could do or would be too scared to do and really just take the risk, take the challenge and see the world for yourself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: A very special edition of morning papers after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (ROOSTER CROWING)

BROWN: Okeydokey, many things to get to in morning papers, a few tabloids, a little magazine excerpt, a lot of stuff today.

We'll start with "The Washington Times," the other paper in Washington, as people think of it. Down at the bottom, "Arnold Reprises Terminator For Stray Pets." Governor Schwarzenegger proposed that the six-day hold on stray pets before they're euthanized be reduced to three days. Now, oddly, people got upset about this, and so the governor then later said, it was a mistake. It was all a mistake. I'm sure he blamed it on the press or he was taken out of context.

"The Chattanooga Times Free Press." Michael Moore made the front page of this fine newspaper. "'Fahrenheit 9/11' Opens Locally To Cheers and Jeers," though I only saw one jeer in the story. And then, down at the bottom, "Civility Laced With Four-Letter Words," the vice president and his exchange on the floor of the Senate the other day. He said this about it today. He said he had no regrets. "I felt better after I said it." I feel better after I say it too, sometimes, but I'm not a senator. OK.

"The Oregonian." I'm not the vice president, pretty clearly, either. I am a cable anchor. This is "The Oregonian" out of Portland, Oregon. "Oregon Military Expects More Mental Illness." This is a story we were talking about today doing. There's a lot of concern about postwar stress disorder. "What a Jerk," the headline in "The Boston Herald." "Monica Blasts Clinton for Lame Tale on Their Affair." I don't know.

And "The Chicago Sun-Times," we're going to do now. "He's History" is the headline. This is the Jack Ryan story.

OK, tabloids, here we go. Just brilliant this week. I didn't know this, but I do now. "The Longer Your Nose, The Longer You Will Live." OK? It gives hope for many of us. "Saddam Sells His Broadway Musical Rights." And he wants Seinfeld to play the leading role. I don't really see Seinfeld in that, but what the heck.

This story is fabulous. Dick Clark and cockroaches will survive nuclear blast and no one else, says top scientists. I don't know why I picked that one. Oh, I do know why. Down at the bottom, if you will, if you can, "Witnesses Swear He Saw One Strand of Donald Trump's Hair Actually Move." OK.

And they get a little political here. "Leaked: The Picture Bush Doesn't Want You to See," "Laura's Disgust." OK, that's it.

What's the weather in Chicago? It's "irresistible," just in case you wanted to know.

We'll wrap it up in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: OK, I didn't do the cover story of the tabloids this week, so I have to do that.

"Weekly World News." "Bigfoot Baby Found Abandoned Outside Neverland Ranch." There's going to be a hell of a custody battle. You bet there is. Michael will get custody, though.

Have a great weekend, will you? And we'll see you all on Monday night, 10:00 Eastern time. Until then, good night for all of us.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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