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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Who is to blame for Abu Ghraib? Interview with men who were there.
Aired August 26, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Who is really to blame for Abu Ghraib? Military police? Military intelligence? Two men who were there, 2 different stories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was told to us that military intelligence is in charge of this compound.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's probably their only line of defense, to blame everything on military intelligence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Tonight, a CNN exclusive: Eyewitness to Abu Ghraib.
Good evening. Welcome. Glad to have you with us tonight. The truth of what happened at Abu Ghraib is something we almost take for granted now. It is the abuse we've all seen in those horrid pictures.
The truth of how it happened, well, that is only still becoming clear, thanks in part to the reports out this week from army and independent investigators. They point to failure in leadership far up the chain of command. But they also widen the circle of blame on the ground.
When the pictures first appeared, the story focused on one detachment, the military police assigned to guard the prison. Now we know that more than two dozen military intelligence personnel may have been involved.
ZAHN (voice-over): Under Saddam, the Abu Ghraib Prison was a place where people were tortured and disappeared. After Saddam's defeat, it became the U.S. Army's own house of horrors. All too familiar pictures like these, staining the American image in Iraq.
So far, 7 guards from the military police have been charged with mistreating detainees. But defense lawyers argue military intelligence agents, not the military police, created the atmosphere of abuse.
Nevertheless, testimony has shown the actions depicted in the worst photos had little to do with intelligence efforts. Lynndie England holding a leash, told an investigator this was no more than an effort to persuade a prisoner to move to another cell. The 3 men, hand-cuffed together in a naked tangle, were suspected in the rape a 15-year-old boy. The 7 prisoners in the human pyramid were thought to have incited a riot in another part of the prison compound.
Yet a Pentagon investigation has found military intelligence personnel, M.I. in shorthand, set the tone and took part in the abuse. Often joining in the interrogations.
MAJ. GEN. GEORGE FAY, U.S. ARMY: There were a few pictures that had military intelligence soldiers shown in them, and we do find instances where some military intelligence soldiers participated in the actual abuse.
ZAHN: Intelligence agents, none of them charged, could be seen in this picture of the rape suspects twisted in a pile on the floor. One was Roman Krol, a young reservist from Massachusetts. We'll talk with him in this hour. Krol says he was only an onlooker. Not so, says Sergeant Kenneth Davis, a guard. He tells us, M.I. orchestrated the abuse that night.
Abu Ghraib has become both a horror story and a mystery. How much more is yet to be told?
ZAHN: And joining us now, former Army Reservist Kenneth Davis who says he saw naked detainees being humiliated at Abu Ghraib, and says military intelligence agents led and directed the abuse. Welcome.
KENNETH DAVIS, FRM. ARMY RESERVIST: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: Based on your experience at Abu Ghraib, how clear was the chain of command?
DAVIS: It was very unclear. It was very confusing. As MPs, we're used to being in charge, but when you are told military intelligence is in charge of you, it makes a confusing site.
ZAHN: How did it work on any given night? How were orders made?
DAVIS: I'm not sure how the orders were made, but I -- what I know is every time we'd question something or question who was in charge, it was explicit. It was told to us, military intelligence is in charge of this compound.
ZAHN: Who would you ask that of?
DAVIS: Either our lieutenants or our captain, anybody that would number the chain of command, even soldiers and sergeants would know. That's who is in charge of this place, because they make it very evident.
ZAHN: When is the first time you saw something that you thought was morally reprehensible and not only that, violated the Geneva Conventions? DAVIS: Being unaware of what the Geneva Conventions actually say, because I've never been trained on the Geneva Convention, it would have been October 25, the night I walked up on Tier 1A Alpha.
ZAHN: Describe to us what you saw?
DAVIS: As I walk over to the tier, I saw who I thought was two MI, military intelligence officers, agents, at the back of the tier interrogating 2 naked detainees.
ZAHN: We're looking at that picture now.
What do you allege is happening now?
DAVIS: This is well after they had already done other things. Now 3 detainees are handcuffed together. They are in the middle of the floor screaming, because the MI would be positioning them in different positions. And that...
ZAHN: Where are you standing?
DAVIS: I am number 2 in that picture.
ZAHN: And number 1 you to allege is whom?
DAVIS: Is Krol, Specialist Krol. And then number 3 is Specialist Cruz, who are military intelligence.
ZAHN: And do you allege that they were directing this kind of treatment of the detainees, or just observing?
DAVIS: They were definitely directing, because when they brought in the third detainee, he still had on his orange jumpsuit on and they instructed him to take it off through the interpreter. He refused. They instructed him again. He refused again. And they look at Graner, he said Graner, he's refusing to take off his clothes, make him take them off.
ZAHN: So, you are saying both of these military intelligence officials at the same time told Soldier Graner what to do?
ZAHN: And where it Mr. Graner in this picture?
DAVIS: Graner has his hand up against the wall in the back of that picture. He has gloves on.
ZAHN: Did he seem to be disturbed by what he was being told to do?
DAVIS: He just seem like he was doing what they were telling him to do. He -- it was hard to tell if he was disturbed. A lot was going on that night. I had only been in country 2 1/2, 3 weeks. So, I felt like I had missed something, so I'm trying to pay attention to what's going on. I'm looking for blatant abuse, someone punching someone, someone kicking them, something that maybe that would cross the limit with me. Because I wasn't sure where the line was anymore, especially since military intelligence said they were interrogating. I don't know anything about interrogations, so I don't know what roughing someone up is in their books.
ZAHN: Did it strike you that what they were doing was wrong?
DAVIS: Oh, yes.
ZAHN: Did you challenge either Mr. Cruz or Mr. Krol?
DAVIS: Earlier in the -- what they were doing, they walked up to me when I calm on the Tier, Cruz did, and said, have we crossed the line? Kind of sarcastically. I said, I don't know. You are military intelligence.
He said, well, you are the MP.
I said, well, I'd have to say yes. In a question form thinking, what have I walked into. What am I seeing here.
He said, that's right, we're military intelligence, we know what we're doing.
ZAHN: So, the signal that sent to you was what? Don't say anything else to me?
Plus not wearing rank or knowing who they were, there's no telling who they were, what rank they were.
ZAHN: So, what was the next step you took after witnessing what you allege was acts of degrading behavior on the part of the guards towards these detainees.
DAVIS: The following day we -- I ran my missions because we were -- my teams were in charge of running missions. Which was off site, outside of the compound. We would run into Baghdad and take detainees to court.
Well, coming back from the missions, my lieutenant was out back of our living facility. And I said, sir, I need to talk to you. And we started to talk.
And I said, military intelligence is doing some weird things to naked detainees over at the hard site.
He said what?
I said they are interrogating naked detainees and it's pretty weird.
And he said, that's military intelligence. They are in charge. Stay out of their way.
ZAHN: And who was this you spoke to?
DAVIS: My lieutenant, which is my platoon leader, Lieutenant Raider (ph).
ZAHN: I actually have a quote from your platoon leader when asked about some of your allegations. And he says quote, I don't recall my specific conversation with Davis, but no one reported to me any incidents of abuse.
ZAHN: Are you saying he's lying?
DAVIS: I can't say he's lying, because if he doesn't recall a conversation, how does he recall what exactly was said. And if I'm saying they are doing some pretty weird things with naked detainees, how do you call it abuse at that time if that's proper interrogation techniques. You don't know if it's abuse. And who knows if he knew that or if I knew that.
ZAHN: Mr. Krol vehemently denies he participated in the abuse. He says he witnessed it. He was an observer, but he did not direct the abuse.
DAVIS: It's all on video. It's all in pictures. And he's in a lot more pictures than I or even Rivera, who was one of his military intelligence analysts, was in as well.
ZAHN: As a man of deep faith who carried pocket Bibles with him around in Iraq, occasionally sharing them with children in Iraq, how haunted are you by what you witnessed at Abu Ghraib?
DAVIS: It hurts. That's not what I went over there for. I didn't go over there to see abuses. I went over there to help a people. Help an Iraqi people that were now free.
But when you see this going on. And then you see a prison riot where detainees are shot inside their yard and three of them die and one of them is dropped at your feet, it changes you. You are wondering why am I even here? That's not what America brought me here for.
I really don't believe that a lot of soldiers went over there with the intention to hurt anybody. My biggest prayer was not to let me shoot an Iraqi. Don't let me shoot anybody's son or anybody's daughter or anybody. I just want to go over there and help these people.
And then you see this and you get confused thinking, why am I really here? And so that's what I live with.
ZAHN: How troubled are you by the fact that you weren't able to stop it?
DAVIS: Very troubled.
ZAHN: As you look back and place yourself in that prison on various occasions, do you think there was anything you could have done that would have stopped the madness?
DAVIS: Knowing what I know now, yes. I could have apprehended them all on the spot.
ZAHN: And you would have had the power to do that.
DAVIS: With what I know now, I would have.
ZAHN: Ken Davis, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Appreciate your sharing your painful observations with us.
DAVIS: Thank you.
ZAHN: And the allegations you just heard leveled against former military intelligence Specialist Roman Krol are serious and carry severe penalties. When we come back, I will ask Roman Krol about those allegations in an exclusive interview.
ZAHN: We are talking tonight about the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. And for the first time on television, we are about to hear from a member of military intelligence who was there. Roman Krol was an interrogator at the infamous prison. He joins us now in this exclusive interview. Welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.
ROMAN KROL, FORMER ABU GHRAIB INTERROGATOR: Thank you for having me, Paula.
ZAHN: Our pleasure. So you were assigned to the prison for six weeks, and there are two brand new reports out this week who describe the abuse that went on as freelance at the prison, much like the atmosphere of "Animal House." Is that a fair characterization based on what you saw?
KROL: I would have to say yes. Major General Fay's report is very accurate. I would -- I'm very impressed with it, actually. Especially the part about the atmosphere in Abu Ghraib. It was very well defined.
ZAHN: Describe that atmosphere to us tonight.
KROL: Well, lack of personnel, for one. The MPs, their job is to escort a prisoner to the cell and from the cell to the interrogation. Handcuff the prisoners and guard them. And because of the lack of MPs, MI personnel were forced to do that.
ZAHN: Were you forced to do that?
KROL: I was forced to walking prisoners to the interrogation booth and back.
ZAHN: So you were put into a position where you were physically handcuffing detainees?
KROL: Yes, I was.
ZAHN: Is that something you were trained to do?
KROL: No, I wasn't.
ZAHN: We're going to go through a series of pictures now so the audience can better understand more of what you witnessed. Up on the screen now, you'll see a picture of Lynndie England with a detainee on a leash.
ZAHN: Describe to us your reaction when you say you stumbled on to this scene.
KROL: One word, indifference.
ZAHN: Were you shocked?
ZAHN: Why indifference?
KROL: It might sound strange, but during the wartime, I was not shocked. If this happened at peacetime in a different country maybe, and I haven't seen a lot of war, it would probably shock me. But back then, I didn't feel anything.
ZAHN: So you weren't troubled on any level?
KROL: No. I wasn't.
ZAHN: You didn't think anything was wrong with this treatment of detainees?
KROL: Well, I thought something was wrong, but it wasn't my business. It was not my soldier. It was not my detainee. That's what I did. I just walked by.
ZAHN: When you look back on that now and reflect on how you felt at the time, as a human being, are you disappointed in yourself?
KROL: You can say that. But now it's all different. Now I'm back in the States. There's no war going on, of course. I feel different.
ZAHN: And as you look at that picture tonight, what are you thinking?
KROL: It's wrong, but it happened.
ZAHN: Let's fast forward to another picture. This picture taken in October, not long after you were assigned to Abu Ghraib prison. Describe to us what we're looking at here.
KROL: We have three detainees on the floor. They are stripped of their clothes. They are handcuffed, and that's myself here. I'm not sure who this is, and I'm not sure who the guy in the green uniform is.
ZAHN: We're going to look at this scene now from another angle...
ZAHN: ... where we have you clearly identified by a number.
KROL: Yes, yes, this is me right there.
ZAHN: Number 2. And Mr. Cruz is number 3.
KROL: I don't see number 3...
ZAHN: This is Charles Graner over here, number 1.
KROL: I believe so. OK.
ZAHN: Do you think that the treatment of those detainees that night was appropriate?
KROL: No, no, I do not think so. It was definitely inappropriate. It was definitely humiliation. It was just plain wrong.
ZAHN: But that night you didn't think that way.
KROL: The reason why, I asked the MPs why are they -- people being treated that way. They said they raped a little boy. My feelings were a little different. Basically, the reason...
ZAHN: So because of how venal that alleged crime was, you thought these detainees deserved it?
KROL: I didn't think they deserved it. I didn't think they didn't deserve it. I was also indifferent back then, OK? The reason why I ended up there, because I went to talk to one of my prisoners that were assigned to me was on the second floor, and I took my interpreter, which is -- I don't believe he's pictured here, and Analyst Cruz, who I think might be this guy right there, but I'm not sure.
ZAHN: That's correct.
KROL: That's correct? ZAHN: OK. So once again, you are right here...
KROL: I'm right here.
ZAHN: ... and Mr. Cruz is there...
KROL: And I'm not sure if this is Cruz, but...
ZAHN: ... and this is Ken Davis, a military police officer. The two of you on the right are with military intelligence.
KROL: That's correct. And myself and Cruz went to talk to one of the prisoners that was assigned to me, who was on the second floor. The same block that you are looking at right now. And we talked to them, and we looked down, and we see pretty much this, which you can see on this picture. I'm not going to go into details and describe what exactly happened there, even though I was there for about an hour, for a good hour.
ZAHN: We have also spoken with Ken Davis, who was this military police officer on duty that night.
ZAHN: And he describes the scene quite differently.
ZAHN: He says that you and Mr. Cruz directed the treatment of the detainees, and you two were the ones that actually handcuffed the detainees.
KROL: Not -- did not happen, because neither myself or Cruz are in position to order anything like that. We cannot handcuff detainees while the military intelligence -- military police present, excuse me.
ZAHN: So what you are saying, going back to what you said earlier is the only time you claim handcuffing you ever handcuffed detainees when you were alone.
KROL: Because of the lack of the MPs.
ZAHN: What about his accusation that you two directed Charles Graner to get tough on these detainees because they refused to take their clothes off.
KROL: When I arrived there, they were naked. So I don't see how that accusation can be considered legitimate.
ZAHN: Why would he say that? Why would he make that up?
KROL: I have no idea who Davis is, actually, even looking at this picture, I couldn't identify him. Maybe he mistakened myself or Cruz for another person. I don't know. Maybe he's trying to help a friend. I have no idea why. But as (UNINTELLIGIBLE) testified, I believe in his testimony, he did say that he arrived and the detainees were already naked, handcuffed, on the floor, and the same thing happened.
ZAHN: Roman, if you wouldn't mind standing by, we want to hear much more of what you have to say this evening. We're going to take a short break and continue our conversation on the other side. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: Welcome back. Thanks so much for staying with us. We continue an exclusive conversation about what went on inside Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. My guest is Roman Krol who was an interrogator at the prison. Welcome back.
Before we went to the break we talked about what some of your early exposure was to Abu Ghraib. You witnessed Lynndie England with a detainee on a leash. You said you were quite indifferent about it that night. You feel differently tonight.
ZAHN: But what about the picture of the three detainees who are naked on the floor and you are sort of standing right above them with sort of no expression on your face.
KROL: Yes, as you can see, I do have no expression on my face. It's -- I have very accurately described my feelings, just plain indifference. I found out what those people did, and I was just indifferent. Just completely indifferent.
ZAHN: So you -- in your heart, you made no attempt to stop the treatment of these prisoners?
ZAHN: What about your understanding of the Geneva Conventions at that time, which bars not just torture, but cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment?
KROL: Military intelligence have their rules of engagement for interrogations. And every interrogation that I did, I stayed within those boundaries. I never went out of boundaries during interrogation. Now what happened here was, obviously, directed by MPs. I would assume that.
ZAHN: And, of course, the accusation by Ken Davis is that you and your colleague, Mr. Cruz were directing the activities here.
KROL: He's wrong, of course.
ZAHN: Why is it do you think then in the conclusion of both of these reports that came out this week that both of them come down pretty hard on military intelligence officers, and you've got attorneys out there representing the seven soldiers who have been charged so far basically pointing at you guys.
KROL: That's probably their only line of defense, to blame everything on military intelligence. They have no other defense to base it on. What else can they say?
ZAHN: But was it really clear who was in charge on most nights when you did your job?
KROL: It's very clear who was in charge when. For example, military intelligence is in charge of prisoners while they are being interrogated...
ZAHN: Now these prisoners weren't being interrogated.
KROL: These prisoners are not intelligence value, these prisoners are not being interrogated, and none of the MI people talked to them. That's me, myself, Cruz, and Rivera, I don't believe Rivera talked to them at all. Myself and Cruz did not talk to them so that's not interrogation. We did not...
ZAHN: But why were you there?
ZAHN: Did you need to be there?
KROL: I explained why I went there, to talk to one of my prisoners, and I just -- I stood there like a moron, I will have to admit that. Rivera said the same thing, I believe. I'd like to say the same thing about Cruz, probably, unless he had other reasons to do it.
ZAHN: I'm interested in hearing you say that you thought there were clear lines of delineation between what the military police were supposed to do and military intelligence officers because one of the criticisms of the Pentagon that comes out in these reports is the fact that they didn't think the Pentagon gave you clear enough guidelines for interrogations and sometimes that the chain of command within the prison was confused.
KROL: The Geneva Conventions for the interrogation was pretty clear. No physical abuse of prisoners. No -- we can't say to a prisoner he's going to be tortured or basically general dislike and everybody stayed in those lines, I'm pretty sure.
ZAHN: So you deny ever physically abusing a prisoner?
KROL: Of course.
ZAHN: Did you see any of your colleagues?
KROL: Military intelligence, no.
ZAHN: Hurt a prisoner?
KROL: Hurt a prisoner? No.
ZAHN: So why are there so many accusations flying out there that it was your guys' fault that it turned into this? That they were taking orders? Attorneys for some of these seven soldiers are saying quite pointedly...
KROL: I understand -- people that are -- for example, Graner, I believe he's a sergeant and myself and Cruz were specialists. He is a higher rank than us. We physically cannot give him orders. Legally we cannot give him an order to do anything. OK, just, in our position, we cannot give order to anybody to do anything.
ZAHN: How many nightmares have you had about what you witnessed at Abu Ghraib and what you have been accused of?
ZAHN: You are at peace?
ZAHN: With what you saw on one hand but troubled that you didn't react in a more aggressive way on the other hand?
KROL: Yes, that's correct. That's exactly what I feel.
ZAHN: Is it hard for you?
KROL: I'm trying to forget what I saw back in Iraq. I think I can manage it.
ZAHN: Are you worried you're going to be charged?
KROL: Of course, I'm worried about I'm going to get charged.
ZAHN: Do you think you will be?
KROL: I think so, yes.
ZAHN: You think you will be charged?
KROL: I probably will be charged on not reporting information.
ZAHN: And how will you confront that charge? How do you plan to fight that charge?
KROL: I can't.
ZAHN: You can't? What do you mean?
KROL: Well, I was a witness of what you saw in the picture and there's nothing I can do about it, and I did not report it.
ZAHN: So you are prepared to spend time in prison for what you describe as your indifference?
KROL: If the penalty for not reporting information that I saw is prison, then, yes.
ZAHN: And do you understand the outrage in the world about the kind of abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib? KROL: Of course, I understand the outrage. What else can I say? I am just happy that I wasn't directing the abuse. I wasn't participating in it. Basically, by not reporting it, I know I also did the wrong thing, but people that were pictured in those pictures are my buddies also. Some of the MPs were my friends, they were my buddies. And also by reporting the information, I guess, you can say by reporting the information I understand that would probably get them in a lot of trouble, that they are in right now. And one of their own people went public with the photos, of course, as you already know.
ZAHN: And now you are fully expecting to face a prison sentence, basically, because you were trying to protect, you are saying, your colleagues under very difficult conditions.
KROL: That's not the main reason why I didn't report the information, but that was part of the reason. We were on the same team, even though there were military police and military intelligence, but we work together. And even the things that they did were very disgusting. That was one of the reasons why I did not report the information yes.
ZAHN: Roman Krol, thank you for spending time with us this evening and telling us what you saw at Abu Ghraib.
KROL: Thank you.
ZAHN: Good luck to you.
When we come back, the perspective on the events at Abu Ghraib from a reporter who has been following this story from day one.
ZAHN: It will take some time to get a complete and accurate picture of what happened at Abu Ghraib, but what we've heard tonight was chilling. I was struck by the tragedy of two young men confronting a situation even they admit they were neither emotionally nor professionally prepared for. Small wonder, then, that so many investigators are having trouble getting to the truth.
With that in mind, we turn to a journalist who has written extensively on the abuse at Abu Ghraib. In Washington is "Los Angeles Times" national security correspondent, Greg Miller. He is the co- author of a new book called "The Interrogators: Inside the Secret War Against al Qaeda."
Welcome, Greg. You have just heard these two men tell their story. Where does the truth lie?
GREG MILLER, L.A. TIMES: Paula, to me this shows you just how tangled this story is still, and it probably will be for some time. I mean, these two accounts from these two soldiers that you interviewed tonight, as gripping as they are, they are somewhat contradicted by the Fay report. Davis says because the Fay report says -- concludes in its description of this incident that MI was not controlling or directing this behavior, and Krol's because the Fay report concludes that two military intelligence troops took part in the abuses last night, and other sources indicate that Krol was one of them.
ZAHN: Specialist Krol, as you heard, adamantly denied he had anything to do with neither directing or executing abuse. We have a statement for the lawyer for Specialist Armin Cruz, quote: "we adamantly deny that Specialist Cruz orchestrated anything." Your response.
MILLER: There -- the third military intelligence soldier who was there last night is Specialist Rivera, and he has a different version of events. He has described Krol having taken part in the abuses by climbing up on one of the top balconies in the tier and throwing footballs at the detainees, and Cruz of dumping water on the detainees, shouting at them. So there are contradictions all around here.
ZAHN: The two gentlemen also contradicted each other's accounts of the chain of command. Mr. Harris (sic) on one hand suggesting that it was a very confused situation. The last guest, Roman, saying that that wasn't the case, the military police knew what they were supposed to do. They were in charge of the prison. The MI guys were in charge of the interrogations. You see a lot of gray area there, don't you?
MILLER: There's a lot of gray area there. It certainly doesn't look like anybody was totally in charge of this facility at all. I mean, one of the striking things to me, having written a book about a prison in Afghanistan, is just the magnitude is so much greater here. In Afghanistan, the largest prisons held 500, 600 prisoners at most, and at Abu Ghraib they had as many as 6,000. It was just a much more chaotic and large and sort of amok facility than anything I think anybody was prepared for.
ZAHN: I know this is early on, and everybody's accounts of what they believe went on in this very chaotic situation, but where should most of the blame be pointing right now?
MILLER: That's a tough question. I think that the Fay report makes it clear that this is no longer a case where people can describe this as confined to a few bad apples taking advantage of their freedom on the night shift. But the report also says that there was no indication in many of these instances that this was being ordered or directed from above. I mean, I think that what has to happen now is just -- the Pentagon and other agencies need to really step back and try to reach some -- arrive at some new policies that achieve some clarity that eliminates the possibility of there being such a confusing environment in the future.
ZAHN: Just a final thought, a very personal reflection on the tragedy that both of these men confront no matter whose account you buy into.
MILLER: Well, it's, you know, one of the things that I try to keep in mind as we write these stories is, and probably for many readers and many of your viewers think about this as well. What would we have done in those situations? And it's hard to know. We saw Krol tonight talking about feeling indifferent toward this. He told me much the same thing in an interview recently several months ago, where he talked about he didn't report it because he simply didn't care.
And that's hard to understand. But when you talk to people who have worked in these prisons, you understand that these are debilitating places to be, especially over a long period of time.
ZAHN: I think both of the gentlemen made that clear this evening. Greg Miller, thank you for your additional insights. We appreciate your time tonight.
MILLER: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: Just ahead, we move on to politics, as New York braces for the GOP's big show, and the demonstrators who are coming with it. That story when we come back.
ZAHN: Well, if you are counting, we are 68 days from the election. In a CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll out this evening shows President Bush and John Kerry still locked in a statistical dead heat. We are also, of course, four days away from the Republican convention here in New York, which was the subject of another poll. This one from Quinnipiac University. Well, the survey found President Bush has an approval rating of only 25 percent among New York voters. Those same New Yorkers apparently think more highly of themselves. 77 percent of them expect New Yorkers will be good hosts for the convention. Still, not everyone is planning such a warm welcome. Maria Hinojosa has more.
MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In New York City, not all protests look alike.
A group of women shoot this video as they sneak into Grand Central Station to send a very public message.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seems like people were so overjoyed and relieved to see those words going up.
HINOJOSA: An anti-Bush punching bag standing on a street corner. Self-described anarchists holding organizational meetings. A little flower store turned political rallying spot.
(on camera): What are you hearing from New Yorkers? Are you hearing New Yorkers saying, "I want to be out there at that protest" or are you hearing New Yorkers saying, "I'm getting away."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. The majority of them are going to be there, I think.
HINOJOSA: In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans, 5 to 1, protesters want to send a message that voters like these, pro- choice, gay-friendly, anti-war, have nothing in common with Republicans. But inside the convention hall, the Republicans aren't buying into the caricature being painted outside. They are taking advantage of a progressive image of New York, where many top Republicans are Democratic converts and where party labels don't always fit.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI, FMR. NEW YORK MAYOR: I believe one of the things we can accomplish is to show and demonstrate how broad the Republican party really is.
HINOJOSA: Former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani is one of the convention's top speakers. Once a Democrat, he has a history of taking more moderate stances on conservative issues.
GIULIANI: There are a substantial number of Republicans who you would describe as moderate Republicans. I guess that's probably the best way to describe them but who have some very, very strong conservative views on the economy, on national defense. But on social views we tend to be moderates.
HINOJOSA: The "we" Giuliani is talking about includes Michael Bloomberg, another Democrat who became a Republican and then became mayor of New York. And there's the state's moderate Republican Governor George Pataki. Both will be convention speakers.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: I've got elected three times in the state of New York because a lot of Independents and enough Democrats believe that these principles and policies work for them, too.
HINOJOSA: Going after so-called swing voters means showing that Republican delegates inside the convention hall can address some of the issues the protesters are raising outside.
GEORGE ARZI, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: It might be a way in which to leverage opposition and to defuse the people, the protesters out there. Because I don't know what these people out there are protesting about. Look at all these moderates we have inside.
HINOJOSA: But demonstrators want to send a message of their own that no matter how moderate a Republican might be, it's not enough.
BILL DOBBS, UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE: The Republicans have brought us four years of war, attacks on civil liberties, immigrant round-ups and now many of us are going to be marching under the banner, the world says no to the Bush agenda.
HINOJOSA: So as the opposition welcomes protesters to town, the Republicans are rolling out a more progressive image.
ARZI: If you look at the images outside, with all the protesters and you look at the images inside with the moderates, the Karl Rove types will try to tell you, you see, we are much more moderate than people are trying to portray us.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: And that was Maria Hinojosa reporting for us this evening. And just one week from tonight, President Bush accepts his party's nomination for the second time. You can see live prime-time coverage of the Republican National Convention in New York starting Monday night right here on CNN.
Coming up next, a tale of two JFKs. The surprising connections you may not know.
ZAHN: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, John Forbes Kerry. They share the same initials. They're from the same state. They both served in the Navy during wartime and they both wanted to be president.
Well, after Kennedy achieved his goal, he made quite an impression on Kerry, even in person 42 years ago.
ZAHN (voice-over): On an August day in 1962, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is sailing off Newport, Rhode Island. One of his passengers is 18-year-old John Forbes Kerry. It is the summer before Kerry starts at Yale and he is dating Janet Auchincloss, Jackie Kennedy's half-sister. Auchincloss invited Kerry to Hammersmith Farm where Jackie had married Kennedy nine years before.
The politically active Kerry idolizes Kennedy. They chat. They board the 60-foot Manitou for a cruise around (UNINTELLIGIBLE). A few weeks later, Kerry is invited back, this time to watch an America's Cup race. Again, President Kennedy is there and again they have a private conversation.
"Thank you for a very unforgettable and exciting time," Kerry later would write the president. "I am, to say the least, an ardent Kennedy supporter." Indeed he was like so many young Catholic men from Massachusetts. Kerry's first known political speech in a prep school debate was in support of Kennedy's 1960 presidential run. Kerry volunteered for Ted Kennedy's first Senate campaign in '62. And when the president campaigned for Democrats in Connecticut that fall, Kerry was in the crowd, a crowd peppered with disruptive hecklers.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But they will learn as this country has learned that the Democratic party is best for them as it is for the country.
ZAHN: Kerry, in this October 1962 letter, apologizing for the, quote, "deplorable behavior of some of my fellow undergraduates here at Yale." The young Kerry added, "it is possible that you personally were not bothered by what happened here, but the insult was made and there is no one here who is not now conscious of it."
A year later, President Kennedy was dead.
LOUIS DINATALE, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS: Kennedy's shadow on Massachusetts has been big and it's been big for 30 or 40 years. ZAHN: Political science professor Lou Dinatale describes Kennedy as the romantic icon of the Democratic party.
DINATALE: Celebrity, good looks, coat over the shoulder, loosened tie around the neck. You know, that is the standard for Democrats and it's also a standard because it was unfulfilled.
ZAHN: After the late president's brother Bobby also fell to an assassin, Ted Kennedy became the standard bearer of the family mystique and eventually Kerry's mentor. The senator backed his first and unsuccessful run for Congress in 1972. The two men have stood side by side for two decades in the Senate, and this year, Kennedy played kingmaker in Kerry's presidency.
SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Let's give him a great Waterloo reception!
ZAHN: Kerry seems to be tapping into that JFK playbook, sometimes literally following his footsteps, like this stop in the same West Virginia diner Kennedy visited 44 years ago.
KERRY: Well, we're going to get to work on it.
ZAHN: Kennedy had PT 109, the small boat he commanded in the Pacific during World War II, swimming for hours and saving a man after being rammed by an enemy warship. Kerry has PCF 94, the Swift boat he commanded in Vietnam, saving a man and winning five medals in combat. Each a decorated veteran when he ran for president. Each saying he would make America safer than the Republican incumbent, whether against the communists or the terrorists.
DINATALE: The campaign actually is evolving precisely the way the 1960 campaign evolved, which is to say Kerry using his war record is finding himself -- is fighting the fight in the middle of the political spectrum, and is going to be in a squeaker of an election just like Kennedy was in '60.
ZAHN: Many Democratic presidential candidates before Kerry have tried to capture the magic of JFK's new frontier. Whether through personal or political inadequacy, most of those efforts have fallen short except the man who was a 16-year-old at this White House handshake.
For John F. Kerry the Kennedy era was a sort of golden age and he hopes that the imagery and the success will work for him this year.
ZAHN: For more on the imprint that John Kennedy left on John Kerry, I am joined from Washington by Kennedy family biographer Laurence Leamer. His most recent book is, "Sons Of Camelot, The Fate Of An American Dynasty." Always good to see you.
So the similarities in the two JFKs are certainly hard to ignore. But there are some very distinct differences, aren't there? LAURENCE LEAMER, KENNEDY FAMILY BIOGRAPHER: Yes, there certainly are. The idea of heroism. In some ways it's very similar in that they are both authentic heroes, although there have been aspersions cast about both of them, JFK during his lifetime as well. They both saved one of their sailors. They both deserve the medals they have, but the motivation is very different.
John F. Kennedy was a kind of reluctant hero. When his boat was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer, he saved one of his men. He wasn't too comfortable with being called a hero. John Kerry, he's more like JFK's older brother Joe who was the anointed, the golden one in the Kennedy family. He was brought up to be president of the United States. He thought he would be president. He was opposed to World War II, but he entered because he thought, if I want to be president, I've got to be a hero. So he was a self-conscious hero and he sought the hero's medals and the canon's mouth and in the summer of 1944, he volunteered for a very risky mission and he was killed. And that, to me is a much more similar case.
ZAHN: Laurence, when you see pictures of John Kerry with Ted Kennedy, for example, you are left with the impression that they are close. But it hasn't always been that way, has it?
LEAMER: No, I mean Ted Kennedy is an 800-pound gorilla in Massachusetts. He doesn't like anybody to get in his light, and in the -- during the early years, I mean, he was not too comfortable on Kerry and Senator Kerry had to pick issues that, you know, didn't get him too close to Kennedy. Kerry wasn't going to have medical issues for instance, he wasn't going to get in the same way. Now, Senator Ted Kennedy sees the election of Kerry as being his ultimate triumph. If he can't be in the White House, this is as close to him being in the White House as he can get.
ZAHN: How much do you think John Kerry has studied the life of John F. Kennedy?
LEAMER: Well, I mean, the two great political icons of the 20th century are John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, really, for most politicians that study them. You can't help but study them and emulate them. And that's Michael Jordan, you know. So, of course, he studied them. You know, he met him early on and that's similar, too. They come from a social class that's probably 0.1 percent of the American population so when they met the summer of '62 they knew who they were and they aren't you and I.
ZAHN: They certainly aren't, are they?
ZAHN: Somehow we didn't get to spend summers at Hammersmith Farm. Go figure, Laurence Leamer.
LEAMER: I was washing dishes. That's all I know.
ZAHN: I was a lifeguard. 50 cents an hour. Laurence Leamer, thanks for your time tonight. We appreciate it. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us this evening. Thanks so much for spending some time with us tonight. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night. Have a great night.
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