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A Look at 'American Soldier' Book by Gen. Tommy Franks; A Look at a Brain Disorder That Puts Senses in Overdrive

Aired August 4, 2004 - 13:30   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now in the news, could be a big change in the Kobe Bryant case. CNN learns lawyers for the woman accusing Bryant of sexual assault may drop out of the criminal case and might file a civil lawsuit against the basketball star. A decision is expected within 10 days. Her lawyers are concerned about mistakes made by court officials.
The Hacking case on hold. Prosecutors may seek an extension now, decide which charges to file against Mark Hacking in the death of his wife, Lori. Hacking was arrested Monday. Under a Utah state law, he must be charged by tomorrow. The extension will give investigators more time to look for Lori Hackings' remains.

One of the world's legendary photographers is dead. This is one of his famous photos, you might remember. We're getting word this hour from French media of the death of Henri Cartier-Bresson at the age of 95. He traveled with the world with an artist's and his camera for more than 50 years.

Stopping terror in its tracks. While Congress mulls whether -- how to implement the 9/11 Commission's ideas, some people are saying, not so fast. Among them, former Republican congressman, CNN contributor Bob Barr. He warns against a knee-jerk reaction to the commission's report. He joins us now live, right next to me, in person, talk about it.

How are you doing?

BOB BARR, FMR. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I'm doing fine as always.

PHILLIPS: All right, very good. Let's talk about, why not go ahead and set it up with comments that Representative Jane Harman said today, Democrat from California, and then I want to get into talking about this moving so fast with these recommendations -- listen to what she had to say:


REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA), SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: So why isn't our committee moving faster? As we all know, our intelligence community was created in 1947 to fight an enemy that no longer exists. Put another way, we are using a 1947 business model to confront a 21st century threat.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIPS: A lot of people saying, let's not take a recess, let's not take a break, no summer vacation, let's get going, let's get on these recommendations. What's taking so long? You think that's smart?

BARR: Well, I think that it's definitely important that both the president and the Congress take enough time to get it right. What you don't want to do is sort of throw some additional ingredients into this stew that's already kind of bubbling and have it explode. You want to make sure you get it right, because lives are at stake and the future security of our country is at stake.

We have a blueprint that is already in place. It's called the CIA Act of 1949, the National Security Act of 1947. These two pieces of legislation, at least in theory, create precisely the sort of so- called intelligence czar that everybody is saying, oh, here's a great new idea. The fact of the matter is that a number of Republican and Democrat presidents have simply not put their foot down, and given the DCI, the director of central intelligence, the head of the CIA, the power that they need, and no matter how many new bureaucracies you create, unless a president is willing to put his foot down and stand up to the defense establishment, none of these are going to work.

PHILLIPS: All right, you bring up an interesting point about '47 and '49 and talking about this national director of intelligence. I want to get there in just a second.

But back to my question about moving so quickly, I mean, it seems to make sense, you want to get moving on the recommendations, especially when you have the threat level raised and there's all this concern about another attack. Can you name some specifics of -- some specific recommendations that if you do move too fast, it could be more dangerous than safe?

BARR: Well, let's take the overarching one here, to create a director of national intelligence. Creating a director of national intelligence adds yet another layer of bureaucracy, which was already one of the main reasons why the terrorists succeeded on 9/11; there was already too much bureaucracy. So rushing in and creating an additional bureaucracy -- and the administration is really sending mixed signals on exactly how much power, if any, that DNI is going to have. We don't know how that person is going to interface with the current head of the CIA, with the defense establishment, with the national security agency.

And yet, as you know as well as I do, once you've created a bureaucracy, it's almost impossible to ever get rid of them. So that's why I have some real concerns about rushing in and creating this new bureaucracy.

PHILLIPS: Ray Lahood, representative from Illinois, Republican, shared some same words. Let's listen to what he had to say.


REP. RAY LAHOOD (R), ILLINOIS: I think it's also a little bit silly to think that one person, whatever name you call them, intelligence czar or whatever, is going to wave a magic wand and get people to communicate is a bit of folly, and I hope that we consider carefully creating another stovepipe, another bureaucracy, another opportunity for somebody to create an empire under the camouflage that somehow they're going to get everybody to start talking to one another.


PHILLIPS: Within the bureaucracy, talking to one another, could you see a national director of intelligence sort of competing with a national security adviser? it kind of seems like the same role.

BARR: Well, this is the confusion that's being engendered by the administration rubbing forward under the political pressure. Neither side is handling this properly, to be honest with you. Kerry is politicizing it. On the one hand, he's saying, well, the Bush administration isn't moving fast enough. The recommendations just came out. On the other hand, the bush administration, I think, is falling into the trap that Kerry has laid for them by rushing in, making some announcements, making some decisions, but without really thinking them through. I think you're exactly right, this position seems, on the surface, to be already duplicative of at least two other positions here, national security adviser and the head of the CIA.

PHILLIPS: Then you have budget issues. You remember Congress, you know how that goes. These sort of things cost money. How do you hammer out budget issues in a quick amount of time also?

BARR: This is actually something that could be done fairly quickly by the president, if he wants to stand up to the Department of Defense and military intelligence, give the CIA director, who also serves as the director of central intelligence, an intelligence czar, if you will, give him the authority over those budgets, the veto authority over those other budgets. If the president is willing to do that, that will solve that problem, but I don't think he is.

PHILLIPS: All right, we'll continue to follow the development of this position and department.

Bob Barr, thank you so much.

Crossing paths in Iowa, President Bush was practically a stone's throw from his Democratic challenger John Kerry in Davenport just a short time ago. Bush rallied long the banks of the Mississippi seeking the support of the state he narrowly lost four years ago. This happens as his campaign prepares to spend $18 million on new ads laying out his vision of the future. Today Bush hit on a familiar them, decision making in the post-9/11 world.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will continue to build our alliances. We will continue to work with our friends for the cause of security and peace. And I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: And just blocks away, John Kerry presented his own views of America to try to sway undecided and Republican voters. He's in the middle of a cross-country tour, speaking to business leaders. Kerry stressed his own tax cuts and financial discipline and accused the Bush administration of squandering the budget surplus.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are now almost $5 trillion-plus in debt. The debt of our country is growing. We have deficits as far out as we can see. Just announced the largest deficit in history. We've lost in the last four years 1.8 million private sector jobs in America, 25,000 of them right here in Iowa.


PHILLIPS: We're going to talk more about Iowa, why Bush and Kerry are there, the importance of that state, with NPR's Ken Rudin, coming up in the next hour.

Hot beach reading for the dog days of summer. We're going to read between the lines of a life on the frontlines. A close look at the new book from General Tommy Franks.

The government wants to put something in every in every new car. Find out what it is in biz.

We're LIVE FROM, right after this.


PHILLIPS: Growing up in Windwood Oklahoma, little Tommy Franks quickly learned about the world and its consequences. "You pull up just as hard as you push down," Tommy Ray; those words from Franks' father would shape a future military general, who would years later take credit for being right, and admit when he was wrong, like in this candid interview on CNN.


GEN. TOMMY FRANKS (RET.), FMR. CENTCOM COMMANDER: The first thing I tell everybody is, well, I for one was wrong. I mean, I absolutely believed that he had weaponized WMD at hand in Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and I was wrong about that. I've told a lot of people. No one was more surprised than I.


PHILLIPS: Now his book, "American Soldier," is a candid look at his deep roots, his leadership in war and his ability to disagree with the U.S. president.

Retired Major General Don Sheppard knows what it's like to be Frank. He joins us live from Arizona. General, what do you think? Was it a good idea for General Franks to write this book?

MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: Absolutely, Kyra. I tell you, any time a man is in command of a war effort, he owes the American public a book to tell us what he did with their sons and daughters and why he did it. This is an excellent book. I got it last night, and I read it last night. I didn't read the introductory parts about his childhood, but I rest the rest of it. And it is really revealing book told in real Tommy Franks language, gives you some real insights into the frustrations of commanding in the modern world.

PHILLIPS: So what do you think about the admission that he was wrong about WMD?

SHEPPERD: Well, I think he was not only wrong, but a lot of people were wrong, up and down the chain of command. General Franks explains that in the book, and he basically says, look, two of our major allies in the area, Hosni Mubarak, President Mubarak of Pakistan, and the leaders of many of the free world nations were telling him the same thing, you've got to be careful when you go in there, because he has WMD and he's going to use it.

He clearly launched -- went across the berm with the idea that we're going to encounter weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological agents, and his soldiers were trained and equipped to do it, and he was simply wrong, as were many of the rest of us -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, he talked about being wrong, but he also said, this war was not a mistake. This is what he had to say today on CNN.


FRANKS: With respect to WMD, people, I've had a couple of reporters ask me the same question -- do you think that since we didn't find this WMD, do you think it's a mistake? And I look, and hopefully give a wry smile, and say, do you think it would be better to have left this regime to build it? I think we're far better served that the regime of Saddam Hussein no longer stands in Iraq.


PHILLIPS: Now I'm going to ask you, general, even if Franks thought the war was a mistake, would he ever come forward and say that?

SHEPPERD: No, I don't think he would say it when he was in uniform, Kyra. After, I think he definitely would say it, and he'd probably say it in the book. I clearly believe that he does not believe the war was a mistake.

And this gets right to the central issue of the war in Iraq: was it necessary to go to war? Was it wise? Did it make us safer or not? And there's opinions on both sides. And Tommy Franks, in my opinion, says the key thing, what should we have done? Knowing that he had weapons of mass destruction and had used them, should we wait until he had them and made them available to terrorists around the world? That's a key issue, and he covers it very well in the book, but he wouldn't have said that while he was in uniform, he couldn't have.

PHILLIPS: And just having images of the fog of war and Bob McNamara.

Let me ask you about the quote from "American Soldier," General Tommy Franks writing, "I paused, climbing the stairs to my plane. The president had just ordered me to go to war. The troops were ready. The question in my mind was, am I ready?"

It's interesting, because even the toughest of warriors have to be honest with themselves, they may have their plan and their strategy in place but is there a point -- I want to you tell me this as a general, where you sort of think, boy, am I ready to drop that bomb, am I ready to go to war, am I ready to fly over this zone and change the world?

SHEPPERD: Absolutely, Kyra. Now, there are very few people that have commanded at the level that Tommy Franks did, but clearly everyone that has says the same thing, it is the hardest decision of their life. The war is not tough on generals. Sure, they're tired and they have a lot of effort put into the plans and this type of thing, but the war is tough on soldiers, kids. These are 18, 19, 20- year-old Americans, our kids that they send across the berm, perhaps into weapons of mass destruction, and it's the hardest thing you ever will ever do, and the best you can do is have faith that you provided them with the best equipment, the best training and that they believe in their cause. That's all you can do as a general; the rest of it's up to them.

PHILLIPS: There's a lot of human aspects to this book. He talks about having a Bible with him at times, always holding onto his wedding ring. You really see a human side to Tommy Franks. How important is that? As a warrior, some say, look, if you're going to war, you've got to have no fear, but I think if you have no fear, that can even be more detrimental.

SHEPPERD: Yes, no fear is a bad thing. Fear is a natural thing, and anybody that goes into combat and gets shot at and gets hit says they're not afraid is just being disingenuous in my opinion.

That's what I think makes this books so good, you get the human side of Tommy Franks as well as the official side and frustrating side. You get his frustrations with the bureaucracy. You get his insight into his frustrations with the secretary of defense and how they came to an understanding between them. He named people in there, but he names and cites what his concerns about the people and their views without trashing them. This is an excellent book. I think it should be read by everybody in the military for wars of the future -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: You do bring up a good point. Unfortunately we have to go. But he does challenge the administration. There's one line, I just want to go out with, and that is, you talk about Tommy Franks speaking like he speaks to everybody, and he said at one point, i just wanted Washington to stick to the policy and leave me the hell alone and let me run this war. So you will definitely get it straight as he told it -- General.

SHEPPERD: Indeed, and that's the frustration you get with dealing with bureaucracy. They put you in charge, and then everybody wants to help, wants to second guess, including of course the media, which is a big factor, and he speaks about the media in this book, too. He does it very frankly, and this is vintage Tommy Franks. It's a great book.

PHILLIPS: And he's very nice to you, I can say that. You didn't make him mad, which is a good thing.

Don Shepperd, thanks so much. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.


PHILLIPS: Now imagine seeing a color when you hear a sound. CNN medical correspondent Holly Firfer looks at a brain disorder that puts the senses in overdrive.


HOLLY FIRFER, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What color is your Monday?

HARREN: It's the color yellow. It's like a banana yellow kind of color. Tuesday's a dark blue. Wednesday's a light blue. Thursday's a dark green.

FIRFER: Deejay Jay Harren is not a freak. He's literally seeing the words of the days of the week spelled out in different colors. It's a condition called synesthesia. Although he and fellow deejays joke about this neurological disorder, it's quite common.

In fact, doctors say as many as one in 200 people are synesthetes. What causes it? Well, our senses are connected in the brain during development. At birth, these connections are sheared. But a genetic defect will often cause a couple to remain attached. When that happens and one sense is triggered, the other responds as well. Whenever Catheryn hears music, she sees colored shapes.

CATHERYN ZARO, SYNESTHETE: Ooh, it's got all kinds of blues and lavenders.

FIRFER: Dr. V.S. Ramachandran talks about a patient who had to break up with his girlfriend, because every time he heard her name, he tasted broccoli.

DR. V.S. RAMACHANDRAN, AUTHOR: Why did this gene survive? We think it may be involved in creativity, because if you ask yourself what is creativity, what is metaphor, what's analogy, it's the ability to link seemingly unrelated things. FIRFER: Dr. Ramachandran says we don't know what makes us creative thinkers, but this condition is one explanation. He adds, nonsynesthetes have the ability to understand this thinking.

RAMACHANDRAN: You taste a piece of cheese and what do you say? It's sharp. It's a taste. Why do you call it sharp or dull, which is a touch sensation? So our language, our experience of the world is replete with metaphorical associations and indeed synesthetic metaphors.

FIRFER: Synesthesia is more common in women than in men and eight times more common among artists, poets and novelists. This is how people live.

Holly Firfer CNN, San Diego, California.



PHILLIPS: Other news around the world. The U.S. men's basketball team is reeling from a crushing loss to Italy in a pre- Olympic exhibition game in Germany. Even with pro players in the mix, the U.S. went down 95-78. Team member Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers called it a wakeup call.

Australian fisherman pulled in a 12-foot goblin shark. Look at this. The creature got all tangled in the net. It was caught off of the west coast of Tasmania. The goblin shark is a bottom dweller rarely seen by humans.

We're going to have more LIVE FROM, right after this.



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