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Controversy Over Missing Explosives Intensifies; Springsteen Campaigns With Kerry

Aired October 28, 2004 - 22:00   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again everyone.
What a day this has been, lunch aside, pictures of American troops searching the al Qa Qaa weapons site in Iraq right there next to the IAEA sealed bunkers. Will this end the fuss over the missing explosives and whether they were there when the Americans arrived? Does that picture prove anything?

The Bush campaign on the subject of pictures concedes an ad it is running includes a doctored photo. Does that mean anything that matters or is it just chaff in the waning days of an ugly campaign?

Senator Kerry seems to be spending time in states that should have been closed weeks ago. Does that tell us anything?

And, in Ohio, they're already fighting over voting and ballots and the polls haven't opened. What does that portend? They are the questions on the table tonight. The campaign thankfully is almost over.

The whip begins with the missing explosives, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, Jamie a headline tonight.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, the Pentagon worked all day today to declassify a photograph they thought would help its argument that perhaps those missing explosives were gone before the U.S. ever got there only to have it trumped at the end of the day by video from a Minneapolis television station that seems to show just the opposite.

BROWN: Jamie, it does indeed.

On to the campaign itself, the president, Senator Kerry revisiting old ground including Pennsylvania, our Senior White House Correspondent John King with the watch and the headline -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, Springsteen with Senator Kerry today, Schwarzenegger with President Bush tomorrow, not to mention a ferocious debate about those missing weapons in Iraq -- Aaron.

BROWN: John, thank you.

And finally Ohio and ballots and lawyers and judges and what's to come, Joe Johns working that part of the story so, Joe, a headline. JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, there are legal challenges to new voter registration confusion over how the system is handling it and above all of that people here in the Buckeye State are wondering what in the world is going to happen on Election Day.

BROWN: They aren't the only ones, Joe, thank you, more from you in a moment and the rest as well.

Also, coming up on the program tonight the politics of religion, gay marriage and guns and their impact in the heartland of the country.

And, an out of court settlement in the sexual harassment case against Bill O'Reilly.

Also around the world in two minutes, morning papers as always at the end of this hour. There are some dandies too by the way, all that and more in the hour ahead.

We begin five days out from Election Day with a new wrinkle in the story that has dominated the campaign for four straight days and no doubt will tomorrow. We'll get to the politics of the missing explosives in a few minutes.

First, the videotape shot by embedded reporters nine days after the fall of Baghdad. The tape shows American soldiers at the al Qa Qaa munitions dump. It also shows sealed IAEA bunkers.

Does it close the deal? Does it end the dispute, from the Pentagon tonight, CNN's Jamie McIntyre?


MCINTYRE (voice-over): The Pentagon's argument that the stockpile of powerful HMX explosive was likely long gone from the al Qa Qaa facility when U.S. troops arrived in April of 2003 was seriously undercut by this video shot by Minneapolis television station KSTP.

Reporter Dean Staley was embedded with soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division when they entered a locked bunker at the al Qa Qaa facility on April 18, 2003, nearly a month into the war but to get in, they cut what now appears to be an International Atomic Energy Agency seal.

DEAN STALEY, FMR. KSTP-TV REPORTER: We thought it might have been some sort of bobby trap because it was such a thin wire but we broke the lock and broke that wire to get in.

MCINTYRE: That IAEA seal, arms experts tell CNN, is the strongest evidence yet that at least some of the missing explosives were inside because HMX was the only material placed under seal at al Qa Qaa and the reporter says the troops he was with were on an unofficial mission just looking around. They were not searching for or securing any material. There was, he said, nothing to stop anyone from looting.

STALEY: And some of the bunkers weren't even locked. I mean we had to break a couple of padlocks to get into some of them, others we did not. They were wide open. We also saw Iraqis at the time driving around in a pickup truck, an old beat-up pickup truck clearly scavenging, I mean, clearly sort of looking around. We kept an eye on them because this was sort of no man's land.

MCINTYRE: The revelation came on a day when the Pentagon released this satellite photograph taken on March 17, 2003, a few days before the war began and after the last inspection by the IAEA. It shows a truck and heavy equipment transporter outside one bunker.

But the Pentagon admits the photo is inconclusive, showing only there was activity at the site and not that any of the explosives were moved. Still, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a series of radio interviews repeated the Pentagon's contention that it's unlikely the stockpile could have been looted after the U.S. got there.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We had total control of the air. We would have seen anything like that and so the idea that it was suddenly looted and moved out, all of these tons of equipment, is I think at least debatable and it's very likely that just as the United States would do that Saddam Hussein moved munitions when he knew the war was coming.


MCINTYRE: Late tonight, the Pentagon said the KSTP video is just another piece of the puzzle as it tries to reconstruct what happened to what the IAEA now says is about 360 tons, not 380 tons of missing high explosives.

Still unclear is how much of it, if any, was stolen and whether any of it was destroyed by U.S. troops before they left the facility completely abandoned -- Aaron.

BROWN: Well, there's lots of questions, who might have stolen it, where it is now, all that stuff but I want to go back to what the Pentagon is saying in reaction to the tape. They are not ready to concede game, set, match on this yet, right?

MCINTYRE: No. I mean no one is disputing that this is strong evidence that the HMX or at least part of it was there on April 18th but now they're saying, well, we don't know what happened to it. They have some indications that a large amount of explosives were destroyed by U.S. troops but again it can't...

BROWN: But, Jamie, they have -- they're entitled to deal with this as they wish, of course, but they had maintained up until that moment that this tape emerged and the secretary says this in the radio interview, the stuff was moved before.

MCINTYRE: Well, they said, they argued that that was more likely.

BROWN: Right.

MCINTYRE: But they never argued that it was impossible for it to have disappeared afterwards.

BROWN: Is that argument now off the table?

MCINTYRE: Well, clearly barring something that would be really unexpected, this would clearly indicate that some amount, a pretty substantial amount based on the pictures, of that was there on April 18th, so now the question is what happened to it after that?

BROWN: It certainly is. Jamie, what a strange week this has been on this. Thank you, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

Coming up in a few moments we'll talk with David Kay, the former top U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq. We'll show him the pictures, get his professional view of the tape, what it does show, what it does not show, and perhaps, perhaps we'll end this once and for all.

First, though, the campaign, there are two stories we think from the campaign of late. What is being said by each side about the explosives for one but just as important, if not more so in the end, where the candidates have been traveling to say it. States that once were thought safe are again up for grabs, so back the candidates go, one blogger calling it the campaign whack-a-mole, and as always campaign whack-the-other guy.

We have two reports beginning with our Senior White House Correspondent John King.


KING (voice-over): Saginaw, Michigan five days out, festive confetti after a closing appeal that ran 44 minutes, leadership the dominant theme, four short seconds the president's first line of defense.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Kerry will say anything to get elected.

KING: As Mr. Bush moved on to Ohio, the day's major flashpoint was again Iraq and 380 tons of missing explosives. Senator Kerry says bad planning by the president is to blame. Mr. Bush says it's not clear what happened.

BUSH: A president needs to get all the facts before jumping to politically motivated conclusions.

KING: In Wisconsin, the vice president upped the ante.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, frankly, I think it's a cheap shot and I personally believe that it says something about the character of the man who would make it.

KING: And a new Bush TV ad reinforced the say anything theme. ANNOUNCER: Now he claims he'll always support our military, the same Kerry who voted against $87 billion for our troops in combat in the war on terror.

KING: The bruising rhetoric is a rebuttal to Senator Kerry's portrayal of the president as so stubbornly and ideologically wetted to his positions that he won't admit mistakes even when the evidence is overwhelming. Mr. Bush hopes memories of 9/11 make his the more convincing case.

BUSH: I've learned to expect the unexpected. History can deliver sudden horror from a soft autumn sky. I found you better know what you believe or you risk being tossed to and fro by the flattery of friends or the chorus of the critics.

KING: Buck's County, north of Philadelphia, was the president's final stop and a critical pocket in the fight for Pennsylvania.

JOE CONTI (R) PENNSYLVANIA STATE SENATOR: I think Buck's County is very much pro environment, pro choice, pro stem cell research.

KING: In other words out of step with the president on social issues, yet State Senator Conti says he senses a shift in just the past few days because of the leadership debate.

CONTI: They're just feeling more comfortable casting their vote on security on the war on terror with President Bush. I think it's moving in that direction.

KING (on camera): Senior Bush aides for months have said they'd be thrilled if leadership and security were the key debating points in the closing days of the campaign but the ferocity of the response to Senator Kerry's new attacks reveals more than a hint of nervousness.

John King, CNN, Yardley, Pennsylvania.


BROWN: Fair or not it's safe to say that Senator Kerry for all his other qualities probably loses out to the president in terms of that regular guy quality that politicians love but not having it doesn't mean you can't get it. You just have to import a regular guy to campaign with you. Today, Senator Kerry did just that, a regular guy with a few hundred million fans.

Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If ever there was a time to do it up, the time is now, ladies and gentlemen, the Boss. Kerry aides say Bruce Springsteen sings about the people the Senator talks about. All Kerry was missing Thursday was the guitar and a tune.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People who are in the middle class struggling to get ahead, people who play by the rules, pay their taxes, get up in the morning, go to work, try to find work.

CROWLEY: Besides being on message, Springsteen can generate enthusiasm, which is to say he packs the house.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, MUSICIAN: Well, it looks like Senator Kerry draws a pretty good crowd.

CROWLEY: Kerry's message was yet another whack on the missing ammo. The facts are unclear but Kerry flogs it. As an aide explained, it's a metaphor for all things Bush.

KERRY: And now George Bush's shifting explanations, an effort to blame everybody except themselves, is evidence that he believes the buck stops anywhere but with the president.

CROWLEY: This was not a day about the message. It was about the messenger, a job John Kerry was, oh, so happy to outsource for a while.

KERRY: I may be running for president of the United States but we all know who the real boss is, right? When George Bush heard that the Boss was playing with me and going to be with me today he thought they meant Dick Cheney.

CROWLEY: A good time was had by all and we do mean all.

(on camera): The truth is the Kerry campaign didn't care that much about making news on this day. Asked if the Senator would give any local interviews as he usually does, one staff aide said, "Nope, we've already got our pictures."

Candy Crowley, CNN, Columbus, Ohio.


BROWN: OK, back to the explosives the who and when and the how of it all but on the question of when, as we saw at the top of the program, there is new information to factor in, pretty conclusive to our eye.

So, we'll sort through this now, take the politics out of it and try and deal with facts with former head U.N. weapons inspector -- U.S. weapons inspector David Kay. David, it's nice to see you.

DAVID KAY, FMR. U.S. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Good to be with you, Aaron.

BROWN: I don't know how better to do this than to show you some pictures, have you explain to me what they are or are not, OK? First, I'll just call it the seal and tell me if this is an IAEA seal on that bunker at that munitions dump.

KAY: Aaron, as about as certain as I can be looking at a picture, not physically holding it, which obviously I would have preferred to have been there, that's an IAEA seal. I've never seen anything else in Iraq in about 15 years of being in Iraq and around Iraq that was other than an IAEA seal of that shape.

BROWN: And was there anything else at the facility that would have been under IAEA seal?

KAY: Absolutely nothing. It was he HMX, RDX, the two high explosives.

BROWN: OK. Now, I want to take a look at the barrels here for a second and you can tell me what they tell you. They obviously to us just show us a bunch of barrels. You'll see it somewhat differently.

KAY: Well, it's interesting. There were three foreign suppliers to Iraq of this explosive in the 1980s. One of them used barrels like this and inside the barrel is a bag. HMX is in powdered form because you actually use it to shape a spherical lens that is used to create the triggering device for nuclear weapons.

And, particularly on the videotape, which is actually better than the still photos, as the soldier dips into it that's either HMX or RDX. I don't know of anything else in al Qa Qaa that was in that form.

BROWN: Let me ask you then, David, the question I asked Jamie. In regard to the dispute about whether that stuff was there when the Americans arrived, is it game, set, match? Is that part of the argument now over?

KAY: Well, at least with regard to this one bunker and the film shows one seal, one bunker, one group of soldiers going through and there were others there that were sealed, with this one, I think it is game, set and match.

There was HMX, RDX in there. The seal was broken and quite frankly to me the most frightening thing is not only is the seal broken and the lock broken but the soldiers left after opening it up. I mean to rephrase the so-called (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rule if you open an arms bunker, you own it. You have to provide security.

BROWN: That raises a number of questions. Let me throw out one. It suggests that maybe they just didn't know what they had.

KAY: I think quite likely they didn't know they had HMX, which speaks to the lack of intelligence given troops moving through that area but they certainly knew they had explosives.

And to put this in context, I think it's important this loss of 360 tons but Iraq is awash with tens of thousands of tons of explosives right now in the hands of insurgents because we did not provide the security when we took over the country.

BROWN: Could you -- I'm trying to stay out of the realm of politics.

KAY: So am I. BROWN: I'm not sure you can necessarily. I know. It's a little tricky here but is there any reason not to have anticipated the fact that there would be bunkers like this, explosives like this and a need to secure them?

KAY: Absolutely not. For example, al Qa Qaa was a site of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) super gun project. It was a team of mine that discovered the HMX originally in 1991. That was one of the most well documented explosive sites in all of Iraq. The other 80 or so major ammunition storage points were also well documented.

Iraq had, and it's a frightening number, two-thirds of the total conventional explosives that the U.S. has in its entire inventory. The country was an armed camp.

BROWN: David, as quickly as you can because this just came up in the last hour, as dangerous as this stuff is, this would not be described as a WMD, correct?

KAY: Oh, absolutely not.

BROWN: Thank you.

KAY: And, in fact, the loss of it is not a proliferation issue.

BROWN: OK. It's just dangerous and it's out there and by your thinking it should have been secured.

KAY: Well, look, it was used to bring the Pan Am flight down. It's a very dangerous explosive, particularly in the hands of terrorists.

BROWN: David, thank you for walking me through this. I appreciate it, David Kay the former head U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq.

Ahead on the program tonight, if Florida was the epicenter of the 2000 election, another state quickly shaping up to be the troublemaker this time around. Why Ohio you may ask?

And diagnosing what's wrong with Yasser Arafat, an update on his condition, we break first.

From New York this is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: A reminder, as always, of the troops as they are and set against that this next item is probably as trivial as they come but welcome to five days before the election.

Today, after initially denying it, the Bush campaign admitted it doctored a campaign ad to make the backdrop, a picture of the troops, look better. This is what it looked like in real life. The spot began airing yesterday in local stations in Ohio and cable outlets around the country as well. Here's what it looked like after a little cutting and pasting, a little Photoshop work, removing the podium, cloning a number of soldiers to fill the void.

A Kerry spokesman called it fitting, saying if the administration won't tell the truth here, they won't tell the truth about anything. The head of the Bush advertising team blamed an overzealous editor for making the change without instructions.

In every campaign there is an air war and a ground war. The spots on the radio and television aimed at changing minds and the effort precinct by precinct to get people registered to get them to the polls or, in many cases around the country just the opposite, purging the rolls, getting voters stricken, going to court.

Ground wars can be bloody on both sides so, from Ohio tonight, CNN's Joe Johns.


JOHNS (voice-over): With tens of thousands of newly registered voters challenged by Ohio Republicans before the election, the system is already showing signs of confusion.

In some smaller counties hearings to verify the residency of voters began Thursday but in six other counties, including two of the largest which encompass Cleveland and Columbus, challenged voters showed up for hearings only to find they've been halted the day before by a federal judge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your right to vote has been challenged by a qualified elector.

JOHNS: The Ohio Republican Party says it filed its challenges after sending letters to newly registered voters returned as undeliverable.

MARK WEAVER, OHIO GOP ELECTION ATTY.: Here in Ohio, we regularly send out mailers to new registrants saying welcome to being a voter and please vote for our candidates. This time when we sent out those new mailers we had thousands, tray loads, coming back saying no such person lives here.

JOHNS: The Democrats argue undeliverable mail doesn't necessarily mean a person's registration should be thrown out that there may be innocent reasons.

BYRON MARLIN, OHIO DEMOCRATIC PARTY SPOKESMAN: It suggests that somebody who might be serving in the military. Many of these cases have addresses here in Ohio that are just simply addresses of record but not places where they receive mail.

It suggests that people might not have a mailbox but instead a post office box. It suggests that people may have been living in a dorm room and didn't have their right dorm room number down, so lots of students have been attacked. It suggests that maybe somebody moved from one part of the county to the next.


JOHNS: Case in point, Christopher Smith of Vexley (ph). He changed addresses here in September and somebody misspelled his new street name in the elections computer. His registration was challenged.

SMITH: I feel it's my right to vote. I want to vote and they're going to rob me of it just because I moved.

MATTHEW DAMSCHRODER, DIR., FRANKLIN CO. ELECTION BOARD: Coming out of the year 2000, I mean there's a lot of confusion anyway and I think this just goes to further add to that confusion.

JOHNS: This leaves local election officials scrambling and hoping to be prepared for Tuesday.


JOHNS: So, where is all of this headed? Democrats want the judge's order expanded. The Ohio Republican Party and the attorney general from the state of Ohio, who happens to be a Republican, are both appealing that case. There have also been confrontations around the state in the place where there were hearings today. People are showing up angry demanding that those challenges be reversed or dismissed -- back to you, Aaron.

BROWN: Fast forward quickly to Election Day. The Republicans can still challenge these people. They have to do it individually at the polls, correct?

JOHNS: Certainly. They do have to challenge them individually at the polls but, if they do so, all those people have to do is affirm by writing or otherwise that they are the people they say they are and they reside in the precincts they say they reside in.

BROWN: Happy Tuesday, nice to see you. Thank you. It will be a long night.

Coming up on NEWSNIGHT, think things are confusing in Ohio? Move down to Missouri. Jeff Greenfield joins us to explain the shifting ground in the Show Me State.

And, things are never confusing for the rooster thankfully who crows about morning papers each and every night.

Around the world this is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: For the most part, not always but for the most part we've tried to stay away from polls on this program, at least until the very end. We've said before we recognize the danger of relying on them but, in the final stretch, obviously we've waded into the quagmire for a simple reason. People want to know who's going to win, who's ahead, want to know in spite of the impossibility of it all.

In this race, no one seems to know, not the pollsters, not us and one of the reasons is voters keep changing, not just their minds but in some case their parties.

Here's Jeff Greenfield.


JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST (voice-over): When Democrats win in Missouri, this is how, turn out lots of voters in the traditionally Democratic strongholds of St. Louis and Kansas City, then carry the country of St. Louis outside the city by a big enough margin, six percent or more, to withstand Republican votes that come from here, rural and small town Missouri.

Bush's showing here four years ago helped him carry the state by about four points, confirming Missouri's bellwether status as a state that's gone with the winner every time but once in the last 100 years.

The Kerry camp once saw Missouri as a prime target. They all but conceded the state to Bush two weeks ago and thus revealed a major problem for Kerry's White House hopes. In state after state, rural and small town America has turned heavily Republican.

(on camera): But the burden that the Democratic Party carries here in Missouri and in many other Midwestern states is not defined by geography but by long term political trends. For the Democrats, the dilemma is not where the votes are coming from but why?

(voice-over): More and more, Democrats in the heartland have been turning away from the party of their parents on cultural and social issues.

Tom Eagleton represented Missouri in the U.S. Senate for nearly 20 years.

THOMAS EAGLETON (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: These social issues, prayer in schools, busing, and now gay marriage, guns, all those issues gravitated towards the Republican Party.

GREENFIELD: This defection of heartland Democrats is one reason why Al Gore almost lost Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa back in 2000, states that Michael Dukakis, a relatively weak candidate, carried in 1988, states where Kerry is endangered now.

It's one reason why Kerry chose John Edwards as vice president, less to put North Carolina in play and more to connect with the heartland. It explains what Kerry was doing hunting in Boardman, Ohio, last week.


GREENFIELD: Kerry still hopes to trump social issues with economic concerns. Jo Mannies of "The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch."

JO MANNIES, "THE SAINT LOUIS POST-DISPATCH": You've got people in rural Missouri who are really concerned because a lot of jobs have been lost. We have got Social Security, which also is a big issue in Missouri, because Missouri's population is slightly older than average.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be a very, very close election.

GREENFIELD: Polls suggest the race in Missouri has tightened some in recent days, a reflection perhaps of discontent with the news from Iraq. Still, the loss of one-time Democrats in the small town and farm communities of America is one of the biggest challenges to Kerry's White House hopes.

Jeff Greenfield, CNN, Saint Louis, Missouri.


BROWN: OK, a brown table of sorts tonight.

We're joined from Washington by Joe Klein, who plays the role of Nina Easton tonight, Joe with "TIME" magazine. Terry Neal from, and John Harwood, the political editor of "The Wall Street Journal."

John, let me start with you.

I get the feeling honestly that nothing is going to move anybody at this point, that people are essentially locked in. The explosives story, whatever the story, it's locked.

JOHN HARWOOD, POLITICAL EDITOR, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, certainly that's been true for the last few days.

Bush strategists are concerned that the Kerry campaign has been winning the news cycle the last few days, but nevertheless we haven't seen the national numbers move and haven't seen these close battleground states move. So it looks like it's locked in. Now, there may be a process where voters cumulatively take a lot of impressions and Sunday, Monday, even Tuesday morning as they wake up to go vote, then you see things change. But they haven't changed in the last couple days.

BROWN: Joe, on the explosives story, it seems to me that the argument is over. We now have pictures of American soldiers. The pictures are time-stamped. They are looking at barrels of this stuff. We know where they are, what it is.

Where does the Bush people -- where does that campaign go with this story now? Just forget it?

JOE KLEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They may continue to hammer at it if we hammer at it and if the Kerry campaign hammers at it. The really striking thing to me, Aaron, was that they pulled out once again the satellite photos of the trucks outside the bunkers, the very stuff that now is so embarrassing to us because they were proven to be false when we made the argument about weapons of mass destruction. It just -- it smacks of desperation and it goes to what John was just saying.

I think that you've seen day after day after day of this, and my guess is, it's just a gut feeling, that the American people are inured to the kind of arguments that president has been making, the sort of attacks on Kerry and turning this into a political issue, and diverting from the very real fact that we allowed an awful lot of larceny to go on in the days after, you know, the statute toppled in Iraq.

And It's a major, major scandal and our problems in Iraq started from that moment.

BROWN: I think David Kay would agree.

Terry, let's talk a little more practically about things that might happen on Tuesday. Everybody talks about get out the vote, but the fact is that both sides -- John wrote about this yesterday -- makes some effort to keep -- only get out the right vote, if you will, and try to discourage the wrong vote.

TERRY NEAL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Sure. This is always a phenomena that happens on Election Day. Democrats will try to tell you that this is essentially a Republican problem.

There is some evidence that Democrats do the same thing. The bottom line is both parties have get-out-the-vote operations that are focused and very targeted on the people that they specifically want to get out to vote. I think that this is important, though, this year because I think it's going to make the difference. People are talking a lot about swing voters and that sort of thing, but 15 million new people have been registered to vote this year; 1.5 million of those people are in Florida alone; 800,000 of them are in Ohio.

And I think the reason that this thing is so difficult to call is not just because the polls are close, but because we have no idea what these new people are going to do.

BROWN: John, the truth is Republicans more often than not get blamed for voter intimidation or vote suppression. Is that fair?

HARWOOD: Well, on Election Day, Republicans have a constituency that is much more impervious to things that Democrats would say are voter intimidation.

Democrats rely a lot more, Aaron, on marginal voters, on minority voters, who in the past have been officially disenfranchised and may perceive a lot differently things that you and I and Terry and Joe wouldn't think another thing of, because we're, you know, middle-class people who are not going to be intimidated by this. So because of the nature of who supports Democrats and who supports Republicans, it's something that Democrats are much more concerned about, with good reason.

BROWN: I suspect we're all a little better to middle-class, just to make sure the viewers aren't laughing too hard.

HARWOOD: Fair enough.


BROWN: To our friend middle-class Joe Klein, Joe, do you think that when all is said and done come Election Day, that we will see a really large number of these newly registered voters actually stand in line, go through whatever aggravation is out there on Tuesday and cast a ballot?

KLEIN: Yes. I suspect that and I fear that in some cases in some of the inner city precincts and in places like Cleveland, you may see some real anger out there as the Republicans, you know, try and contest, you know, many of the voters.

But we have to put this in perspective. We're all sitting here fighting the last election battle. This may not turn out to be as close as the polls are saying for the very reason that Terry raised. We don't know who's coming out to vote. The pollsters are just making guesses at this point about what they think the electorate is going to look like.

This is a sufficiently different kind of election. We're in the middle of a war. We've had 9/11. And we have all these newly registered voters. So what we're doing is dealing with guesses. And it's the kind of issue that we deal with now because there isn't all that much else to say about this campaign as it goes down to the last few days.

HARWOOD: Well, Aaron, there's good reason to believe that even though there aren't all that many undecided voters left, that they're dealing with the same information and when we get to the end of the campaign, a lot of those people are going to fall in the same direction and, if that happens, you're likely to see a result that is reasonably decisive by these standards, a point or two in the popular vote.

BROWN: We'll try to do this one more time before the Election Day, this kind of middle-class guy gab session.


BROWN: Thank you, guys, very much.


KLEIN: I don't think Nina is a middle-class guy.

BROWN: No, she is not. But you are. HARWOOD: And she doesn't look like Joe either.

KLEIN: Oh, man.


BROWN: Good night, you guys.

Still to come tonight on NEWSNIGHT, Yasser Arafat will leave his compound for the first time in more than two years -- his journey to Paris and a hospital.

And a new development in the suits and countersuits involving talk show host Bill O'Reilly.

We'll take a break first. This is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: In the Middle East, there are many questions and few answers still tonight about what is ailing the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, how serious his illness is, what it means for the region at the top the list. Today, Mr. Arafat changed his mind and agreed to leave his compound in Ramallah for treatment in Paris. That's the headline.

There was also some spin. Here's CNN's Christian Amanpour.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day into the drama surrounding the survival of the Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat, officials released these photos and video of a sitting, smiling Yasser Arafat, holding hands with doctors and trusted aides, a portrait designed to show his people and the world that he is not gone yet.

Bulldozers and fire trucks rolled into the Muqata compound ahead of Arafat's departure. Their mission, to clear mounds of demolished cars, concrete blocks and spikes, an obstacle course laid by the Palestinians themselves that was designed to foil a feared Israeli snatch operation. Now the ailing Palestinian president would be leaving on a Jordanian helicopter to Amman and then aboard a jet to Paris for proper treatment.

His own doctors here have been unable to fully say what is ailing him.

DR. ASHRAF KURDI, ARAFAT'S PERSONAL PHYSICIAN: It is -- it's not really hard to diagnose the disease of President Arafat. The problem is in the investigations. There are certain investigations for this disease which is not possible to do them here.

AMANPOUR: No interim leader has been appointed in his absence. Instead, Palestinian officials say it will be business as usual in the Palestinian Authority. (on camera): For nearly four years now, both the current Israeli and U.S. governments have shunned, isolated and refused to deal with Yasser Arafat, holding him personally responsible for the wave of terrorism and suicide bombings that have wracked Israel. But now that he's ill, Israel says that it will allow him to leave and to return here if he recuperates.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Ramallah.


BROWN: One quick unrelated item before we head to break. It is -- it is as if it never happened.

Bill O'Reilly and his former associate producer have settled out of court, she withdrawing her complaint of sexual harassment, he withdrawing his claim that she tried to extort $60 million. Mr. O'Reilly's lawyers say both sides regret the pain they have caused. No word on who gets the tapes, if, indeed, there were tapes.

Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, more than a tea party in Boston. We'll look at the miracle that swept the curse away.

And morning papers too. We'll take a break first.



BROWN: Well, this is as good a time as any to remind you that the Boston Red Sox, that would be the world champion Boston Red Sox, were the official team of NEWSNIGHT and, further, that they became the official team of NEWSNIGHT when they trailed the Yankees 3-0. It's not like we jumped on some bandwagon here.

No, we just like underdogs. And the Sox in so many ways were that -- but no more. They won eight straight, including four from the Cards, to win the series last night and end the curse, the curse dating back to 1918 and including enough heartbreak for any team, except perhaps the Chicago Cubs, who have their own curse to deal with now.

Anyway, in the Red Sox nation, there was plenty of reason to cheer today, perhaps even shed a tear. And while that might seem a bit much given it is just a sport, well, you have just got to understand Red Sox fans.

Mark Starr does and is. He writes a national sports column for "Newsweek" magazine. And we are pleased to see him tonight.

Mark, does it feel like you thought it would feel if you ever allowed yourself to even feel what it might feel like?

MARK STARR, "NEWSWEEK": You know, it's a little more subdued, but it's great to hear you say all this, because here in Boston I could believe it really didn't happen until I'm now hearing it from someone in New York.

BROWN: What is it like there today? Were people everywhere you went, it's what people -- I assume it's what people talked about. They weren't talking about explosives in bunkers and things.

STARR: No. People were mostly relieved. It was much quieter than I thought it would be. They just -- it was like this tremendous burden was off everybody's back.

BROWN: Is it -- can you explain to people who don't live in Boston, and maybe don't even like baseball, how big a deal this was to the folks in New England?

STARR: Well, you know, Red Sox nation, they talk about it, but it is generational. And it was fathers and sons and on occasion fathers and daughters.

My father took me and my brother to Red Sox games. And those were miserable teams we grew up on. But, back then, loyalties weren't fungible. We just rooted for the Red Sox regardless. And a lot of years -- my father lived a very full life, but he never saw the Red Sox win. And this was sort of for him, for generations. I've been getting e-mails from people all over the world who connect to their father, their grandfather, their uncle, someone who took them to games. It was very special.

BROWN: That's actually one of the great parts of baseball, wherever you watch it. I'm going to ask you this at some risk. Tell the story about what you did this morning and your dad.

STARR: Well, last night, I just hugged my family and got up early this morning. I went to the cemetery and I brought "The Boston Globe" to my dad and I laid it on his grave, because I didn't think he was going to trust the word from me.

I think he had -- he was from a reading generation. He had to see it in print. And "The Globe" said two headlines, "Yes" and "Finally." And I left it there.

BROWN: And, actually, there's a wonderful line in your piece today about your dad, and he would watch the games and invariably the Sox would lose, and he would say?

STARR: Yes. He would say, you knew that was going to happen.

BROWN: You knew that was going to...

STARR: Of course, we were young. We didn't know it was going to happen. But he knew. And, of course, he was 100 percent right for his whole life. It always turned out bad. That's it.

BROWN: And, at what point, Mark, did you let yourself believe it was going to happen?

STARR: Well, you know, my brother called me last week and he said, don't you want to go to the Bronx for the seventh game? And I said, oh, we're just going to get hurt. It's going to be painful. Why do I want to go there? I can stay home. It's safe. I said, let's go. We'll -- faith over experience. And it was a wonderful evening.

BROWN: Well, congratulations to you and, of course, to us, because we adopted them.

It's good to talk to you. Thanks, buddy.

STARR: Thanks. You helped.


BROWN: Well, I don't know about that. I don't pitch very well. Thank you very much.

We'll check morning papers after the break.



BROWN: OK, time to check morning papers from around the country, around the world.

I'm just fascinated by this. And I'll share it with you. Thank you. "The Washington Times." "Photos Point to Removal of Weapons, Show Truck Convoys in Iraq Before U.S. Invasion." "The Washington Times" continuing to run with the idea that the Russians were involved with this. Let me tell you something. This story is over, OK? You can argue about it all you want, but that video tonight ends the discussion to me, perhaps not to "The Washington Times." It's a good paper, though.

"The Guardian." This story is going to get a lot of attention, though it's, to a certain extent, more a headline than it is anything: "100,000 Iraqi Civilians Dead, Says Study." This is a study that was done by a unit at Johns Hopkins University, trying to calculate what is really hard, which is how many civilian deaths there have been in Iraq since the war started. Anyway, they came up with a number of 100,000, which is much, much, much, much higher than anyone has -- had imagined. And so we'll have to take a close look at the methodology there and see how they did that.

"The Christian Science Monitor," well, basically leads with baseball. I mean, there's a bunch of other stuff there, but it's picture that catches your eye. "Boston No Longer an Underdog. What Will the City Do Now?" And then over here, an Iraq story, if you will. "Behind Fallujah Strategy: The U.S. Hopes a Hard Strike on the City Will Send a Message to Other Militants. Fallujah will be an opportunity for rebels to be crushed and for them to taste defeat."

"The Duluth News Tribune" up in Duluth, Minnesota, way up north. "Budget Plan Avoids Layoff." That's a government story. "Duluthians" -- I didn't know that was the word. "Duluthians" -- and I'm a Minnesotan -- "Will Decide Whether They Want a Stricter Smoking Ban," the two stories on the front page. Also, we said earlier KSTP in Minneapolis. I know those guys and they're in St. Paul. And, you know, Minnesotans can be a little sensitive about that. And they did terrific work on that story. And they ought to be very proud.

How we doing on time, by the way? Thirty-five seconds.

Down here in "The Des Moines Register," but on the front page: "FBI Investigates Halliburton Work." This is a criminal investigation. You know that the vice president used to run that. This is no-bid contracts in Iraq.

By the way, if you're Santa Rosa, a reminder -- this is Santa Rosa, New Mexico -- "Americans Vote For President Next Tuesday," in case you've forgotten. That's front page.

Here's "The Boston Herald." "It is Not a Dream." No, it's not.

What did I do with "The Chicago Sun-Times"? I'll tell you that the weather tomorrow in Chicago, "topsy-turvy."

We'll be right back.


BROWN: That's the program for tonight. We hope you're back with us tomorrow.

We leave you with -- I think, if we do this right -- a really pretty shot of New York City tonight and our best wishes.

Good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT.


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