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U.S., Iraqi Troops Begin Falluja Assault; Are Prisoners Held in Guantanamo Bay Enemy Combatants?; Where Will Arafat Be Buried?

Aired November 8, 2004 - 22:00   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again everyone.
Much of what we do tonight centers around a city few of us knew three years ago. As you sit comfortable watching tonight, thousands of young Americans are attacking insurgent positions in Falluja in the Sunni Triangle.

They will, no doubt, win this battle. They will, no doubt, suffer some casualties. There will surely be deaths of innocents and, almost as certainly, there will be some backlash in the Arab streets. It is an unavoidable consequence of the war.

The question you might consider tonight is what choice, if any, was there? Could the city stay as it was, a safe haven for people who have killed hundreds of Iraqis, some connected to the government but most not?

The outcome in Falluja will not end the insurgency. It will not mean that no more Americans die but, as nasty as it is and it's going to get very nasty we suspect, once the country committed rightly or wrongly to going to war in Iraq, this moment was bound to happen and all we can do is hope that as few people die as possible and that this battle of Falluja ends quickly.

As you would expect, the whip begins tonight in Baghdad, CNN's Nic Robertson is in and has the watch and the headline -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, for Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi there is a lot at stake in the operation on Falluja as he tries to convince the Iraqi people that Iraqi troops are playing a significant role -- Aaron.

BROWN: Nic, thank you.

On to the view from Washington, Jamie McIntyre, our Senior Pentagon Correspondent, with that side of things, Jamie a headline from you tonight.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, those Iraqi troops may be playing an important role but the U.S. troops are doing the heaviest fighting and from all indications the toughest fighting is yet to come.

BROWN: Jamie, thank you. Next, a setback in the administration's plan to bring detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before military commissions or tribunals, it's Kelli Arena's beat, Kelli a headline.

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, a federal judge today ruled that the president was wrong when he classified prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants. It's the latest in a string of legal defeats for the government.

BROWN: Kelli, thank you.

Finally, to Jerusalem and the knotty question of where Yasser Arafat's final resting place will be or won't be, CNN's Guy Raz is there for us tonight, Guy a headline.

GUY RAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Where to bury Yasser Arafat is proving nearly as contentious as Middle East peace. Palestinians want a grave site in Jerusalem. Israel says no way -- Aaron.

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

Also coming up on this Monday night, as close a view from the ground around Falluja as we can manage.

At the top tonight, we'll hear from CNN's Jane Arraf who is embedded with the Army's 1st Infantry Division.

Later on in the program, a look at second presidential terms and, while the sequel doesn't always turn out as expected, is there such a thing as a second term jinx?

And, as always, we'll wrap things up with an armful of morning papers brought to us each day by the rooster, all that and more in the hour ahead.

We begin tonight with the assault on Falluja and the gentle suggestion. Now is not the time to deal with what it all means. More than 10,000 Americans and 2,000 Iraqi troops have begun fighting their way into the city, a city roughly the size of St. Louis or Pittsburgh.

The implications, even if they were known and they are not, can wait for another time. Tonight deals with the simple facts that come with boots on the ground, so we begin with CNN's Jane Arraf who is embedded with the Army forces close to the action. She joins us by phone -- Jane.

JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Aaron, dawn is just coming up on the city and it has been pounded all night long by artillery. I can see smoke rising still in the distance. As we came into the northeastern outskirts of the city there were booby traps laid for Army forces who kept moving forward.

Aaron, we're just getting an update. We're told that we're moving now but I just wanted to let you know briefly that these forces were with Army forces still in the eastern side of the city but they have pushed through. They did that last night and they are continuing -- I'm sorry we're told, Aaron, that there's sniper fire so we'll be moving a little bit.

They are continuing to push through the city and the commander here tells us that they have met surprisingly little organized resistance. They have taken some fire but the strategy, Aaron, in about this scale of this intensity and of this importance is to use the maximum firepower they have. They have been pounding the city with artillery, with mortars, with gunfire, with air strikes -- Aaron.

BROWN: I'm reluctant to ask anything because I don't want to put you in the position of not being able to answer and it's not necessarily clear to us what the rules are. Can you talk at all about casualties on the American side?

ARRAF: Aaron that is probably one thing I can't talk about. We are under very strict rules here with it. It is essentially a Marine operation. We are with the Army part of it and the Army role was to push into the city and clear the way for the Marines, which they are doing, still in the process of doing.

We can't really talk about -- we can't really talk about American casualties at this point. We can't talk about civilian casualties although they must be considerable. The Army unit that we're with believe it's killed up to perhaps 30 insurgents but we will be finding out but it takes a while for that news to come down.

BROWN: All right. Jane, get on with your business. Call us as you can. If you can call us again this hour that would be great and, if you can't, we'll talk to you tomorrow. Hopefully be safe and hopefully all the people you are with will be safe as well. Thank you, Jane, Jane Arraf who is embedded with the Army.

These are the difficult circumstances in terms of what reporters are allowed to say and not say. They're desperately trying not to compromise security of anyone there. All these conversations that we have are monitored, as you know, so we'll just play it safe until we know more.

As Jane mentioned and as we've been seeing for months, there's a keen desire to put an Iraqi face on the counterinsurgency. It hasn't always worked out for the best, truth be told.

For all the difficulties, however, and they include poor training, desertion and worse, Iraqi participation in liberating an Iraqi city seems essential both to the Americans and to the Iraqi government.

With that part of the story here's CNN's Nic Robertson.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Kicking down doors and going in hard, some of the first images of the battle for Falluja show Iraqi troops front and center of the offensive. Their role in securing a hospital on the outskirts of Falluja receiving prominence in the early coverage despite the fact U.S. troops secured the area around the hospital first and brought in the Iraqi troops.

Later in the day, barely hours before the main battle for Falluja began, Iraq's interim prime minister traveled to Falluja to meet with his front line commanders, not just bolstering Iraqi troop morale but reinforcing for Iraqis wary of the U.S. role in the Falluja offensive that Iraqi troops are heavily involved in the fight.

IYAD ALLAWI, INTERIM IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: We are going to liberate the Falluja people from the atrocities of the terrorists and we are going to do operations widely along the whole country wherever they are operating.

ROBERTSON: Earlier, Allawi announced implementation of new security measures under the recently declared state of emergency, a curfew for Falluja, the closure of the nearby highway and the closure of Baghdad's International Airport.

ALLAWI (through translator): We are closing the Iraqi borders with Syria and Jordan, except for the trucks carrying food and necessary goods. This measure aims at preventing the terrorists from crossing the borders.

ROBERTSON: In Baghdad, as the offensive was preparing in Falluja, more than half a dozen loud explosions could be heard across the city, this one apparently targeting a Catholic church. Against this backdrop of widespread violence, Allawi is keen to assert Iraqis lead the way in resolving their country's problems.

ALLAWI: I have given my authority to the Iraqi forces to spearhead the multinational forces with help.

ROBERTSON: When the main battle got underway it was U.S. firepower that was most visible.


ROBERTSON: Reality is in the offensive for Falluja there are at least 10,000 U.S. troops outnumbering the Iraqi soldiers at least 5-1. But in an indication that Iraqis want to define this battle, they've named it Operation Dawn, choosing not to take the Pentagon's title Operation Phantom Fury -- Aaron.

BROWN: Well, to the extent that you know do Iraqis in Baghdad where you're able to report, do Iraqis in Baghdad believe that, in fact, Iraqis are leading this offensive?

ROBERTSON: They certainly believe that Iraqis are taking part in it. Do they believe that they're actually leading it? The general perception here is that the U.S. is behind Iyad Allawi, that the U.S. is taking the main role in that operation but it still is a very important image for the Iraqis to see and one the government is definitely trying to get across at this stage -- Aaron.

BROWN: And on a slightly different subject, how is the state of emergency or martial law, whatever you want to call it, being received by people in Baghdad? ROBERTSON: Well, perhaps we can best judge it from where we've stood. Within minutes of that state of emergency being announced yesterday there were a number of explosions went off in Baghdad.

Overnight since the operation has gone on in Falluja, I've counted at least a dozen big explosions in Baghdad bringing in close air cover, U.S. military fighter planes flying very low over the city through the night apparently trying to suppress any further of these explosions.

But just in the last two minutes, I've heard another one in the distance in Baghdad. It's an indication that while the state of emergency is in place, the insurgents are still detonating explosives and carrying on their offensive -- Aaron.

BROWN: Nic, thank you, same advice we gave Jane, please stay safe out there.

One quick note on casualties, Jane Arraf mentioned the limitations that embedded correspondents have in this regard, at least to this point, so the latest information comes by way of the Pentagon or commanders in the region.

We can report two Marines died today near Falluja. Their bulldozer tumbled into the Euphrates River. It was not apparently combat related. And because deaths in combat sometimes take a day or two to filter out, the picture will almost certainly change as this operation goes on.

In the meantime, in Baghdad, a U.S. soldier died after coming under small arms fire but by and large in Washington and on the ground today there was a sense of purpose not loss.

So, reporting from the Pentagon tonight, CNN's Jamie McIntyre.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): When the long threatened offensive finally kicked off, U.S. troops were pumped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to smack the crap out of them. That would be nice.

MCINTYRE: With 10,000 U.S. Marines and soldiers and more than 2,000 Iraqi troops moving on Falluja, the Pentagon is confident the estimated 3,000 insurgents can be rounded but Pentagon officials are downplaying any suggestion the battle for Falluja is a final showdown with the insurgents.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I would not think of it that way and I think it would be a mistake for anyone. Listen, these folks are determined. These are killers. They chop people's heads off.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: If there were a silver bullet, we'd have shot that a long time ago. There's not a silver bullet. This is very challenging work. MCINTYRE: There have been some reports of Iraqi troops deserting or failing to report for duty but the Pentagon insists it's an isolated problem.

RUMSFELD: Well, I think one ought to expect that from time to time we're going to see this type of thing and, on the other hand, there have been some commando units and some riot control elements and some regular Iraqi forces and police forces that have done a very good job.

MCINTYRE: The other big question is whether the insurgents and their leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, will melt away and regroup somewhere else.


MCINTYRE: The last time back in April the Falluja offensive was halted after Iraq's governing council became concerned about the heavy casualties and civilian losses that were being inflicted by U.S. Marines. This time, the Pentagon says it has a firm agreement from Iraq's Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to continue and finish the job no matter how messy it gets -- Aaron.

BROWN: Do they talk about how long they think this operation will take?

MCINTYRE: I think -- no one has made a prediction but I think the general expectation here is that they're talking about days not weeks. They're pretty confident they have pretty superior military firepower and particularly the advantage of air power that gives them in an urban setting where they can take out an entire building where they're taking enemy fire. That happened tonight, by the way. It really gives the U.S. forces an advantage.

BROWN: Jamie, thank you, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon tonight.

We're joined now by retired Marine Corps Colonel Gary Anderson, who served as a special adviser to the Defense Department and, as such, has spent a fair bit of time in Iraq and knows a fair amount about urban warfare.

Colonel, it's good to see you. Anything strike you in today's reporting that is either surprising or as you expected?

COL. GARY ANDERSON (RET.), U.S. MARINE CORPS: Well, I think the most interesting thing is the capture of the hospital early on. A lot of people have asked me why they would make an objective out of the hospital. The reason for that, Aaron, I think is because that hospital was a major point of contention in the last battle for Falluja.

An awful lot of the medical personnel in Falluja and throughout Iraq are former Baathists. I mean they had to be to be part of the -- to be part of the system and they were responsible for a lot of reporting of mass casualties that just weren't happening that just didn't exist. And I think what they wanted to do, because now they've invented, some of the Iraqi reporters as well as our own reporters in there, is to get somebody in that hospital to tell the real story. It's sort of a perverse method of exit polling, if you might, to show that we're not causing the massive civilian casualties that were reported the last time.

BROWN: The danger is, of course, in any kind of operation like this in an urban setting it's ridiculous to assume that innocents are not going to get caught in the crossfire. There is clearly going to be some civilian death.

ANDERSON: Oh, absolutely. I mean that's why they choose this asymmetrical urban tactic. They know that we are reluctant to cause civilian casualties and that's why they essentially among non- combatants, whether those non-combatants are willing or not.

BROWN: What can the -- what is the risk to the Marines and the Army there? They outnumber 3-1 best guess maybe more, in manpower. They obviously have far, far, far more firepower than the insurgents. What is the danger they face as a group?

ANDERSON: Well, in urban combat you have really three things that cause casualties among troops. One is sort of bunching up to give orders in the confusion and clutter.

What they've tried to do is they have those little radios that you see most of the troops have on them and what those things do is they allow them to spread out so the squad leader can talk to the people without bunching them up.

The other thing is crossing danger areas. Their snipers are getting a lot better than they used to be. And finally, there's this problem of what the Marines call back clearing.

They'll move through an area, clear an area, and then the insurgents will try to move around behind them and take them under fire from the rear or from the flank. If you can break those problems, you have a lot better chance of reducing your own casualties.

BROWN: If I were, and clearly I'm not smart enough to run anything, but if I were running the other side, I would have gotten out last week when I knew this was coming. Why would the enemy even stand and fight against the odds that it faces there?

ANDERSON: Well, I'm not sure that some of what you just said hasn't happened. There are really three types of fighters on the other side and they have differing ultimate objectives other than the fact that they all don't like us.

You have the local Baathists and Falluja was a stronghold of Baathist government officials and so you've got a lot of people that don't really have anyplace else to go.

So, I think that they may -- they may fight but they'll probably, if they -- you know once the situation gets to a point where it looks untenable they'll probably put their weapons down and go about their business until they think they have another chance.

The Sunni fundamental clerics fire up the young kids, have them pick up guns and those kids don't have much else to do anyway. Now, the terrorists I would like to hope that they'd stand and fight but I don't think they're that stupid.


ANDERSON: I think that they have probably exfiltrated the area but at least they're not strutting around the streets anymore, or won't be, which was a real problem for the Iraqi government.

BROWN: The problem is they end up somewhere else. Colonel, we'll talk again this week I expect. Thanks for your time tonight.

ANDERSON: Thanks, Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you. We'll watch this thing unfold and hope for the best.

Ahead on the program tonight, a court ruling that throws the legal monkey wrench into the government's plan to bring the suspected terrorists at Guantanamo before military tribunals.

And, as he lies in a hospital in France, the battle over Yasser Arafat's legacy, his title, his body, not to mention millions of dollars. We'll take a break first.

From New York on a Monday night this is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: Salim Hamdan may not be as familiar yet as Jose Padilla or Yasser Hamdi. Mr. Hamdan is a prisoner at Guantanamo. He's accused of being Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and driver, or at least one of them. He's already been designated an enemy combatant, his case, one of the few headed for a formal military tribunal.

But today in a major setback for the Bush administration a federal judge halted the preliminary trial proceedings and so now begins another chapter in the legal battle to decide what, if any, rights under American law prisoners at Guantanamo have, reporting tonight, CNN's Kelli Arena.


ARENA (voice-over): The Bush administration says Salim Hamdan is not a prisoner of war protected by the Geneva Conventions. Instead, the president declared him an enemy combatant, an al Qaeda terrorist. Now a federal judge has ruled the president did not have that authority.

SCOTT STILLMAN, DUKE UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: The real issue at stake here is does the president have the power under the Constitution to make the decision he did two and a half years ago? The judge says he doesn't that only a competent tribunal under the conventions can do that.

ARENA: The judge's order immediately halted the preliminary trial proceedings for Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's alleged driver and bodyguard. What's more he ruled if it is determined that Hamdan is a POW, he could only be prosecuted in federal court or by court martial in the same way the government would prosecute an American G.I.

STILLMAN: The wording as an opinion is ominous for the government because it basically suggests that the courts are going to have problems finding that military commissions are adequate, either under constitutional or international law.

ARENA: The Justice Department is seeking an emergency stay and will file an immediate appeal saying, "The Judge has put terrorism on the same legal footing as legitimate methods of waging war."

RICHARD SAMP, WASHINGTON LEGAL FOUNDATION: The decision today does undermine the ability of the president to wage the war on terror. I suspect in the long run it won't be a major setback because I suspect that the decision will be reversed in fairly short order.

ARENA: First, the Supreme Court said that detainees could have access to U.S. courts. Then another federal court rules Guantanamo prisoners could get help from lawyers.


ARENA: Experts say this latest ruling could have a major impact not only on how the president fights the war on terror but how he fights any war -- Aaron.

BROWN: Let me try a couple questions. To what extent, if any, have the courts sided with the president in any of these major issues?

ARENA: Well, it hasn't really gone too well, Aaron. As you know, the Supreme Court, which was the biggest ruling here said these men have a right to access to the U.S. court system.

There are only six men in total that are actually headed for the military commission, two of them well in the works, Hamdan being one of them, and then four others that have gone through the review process but this has been a very slow process and it only really started picking up after that Supreme Court ruling, so we're waiting for that litmus test still from the judicial branch.

BROWN: And, the next, just going back to the case today, the next stop for this case is the appeals court in the Washington area?

ARENA: That's what the Justice Department says that they will immediately appeal and they've also asked for a stay of the district court ruling.

BROWN: Kelli, thank you. This broke late. Thank you, Kelli Arena in Washington. A few other stories that made news today, at a hearing that began in Washington lawyers for John Hinckley argued he should be allowed longer unsupervised visits to his parents' home.

Mr. Hinckley, you'll recall, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan and, since last year, has been allowed short unsupervised visits outside the mental hospital where he has been living for a long time now. His lawyers say he's ready for longer trips. Government lawyers say Mr. Hinckley remains a danger.

In Illinois, former National Hockey League player Mike Danton was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison today for trying to have his agent killed. He pleaded guilty to murder/conspiracy charges in July. The judge who delivered the sentence said he did not believe he had seen as bizarre a case in his 18 years on the bench.

And, in Maryland, state police today said that Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps was arrested last week for drunken driving. The 19-year-old who won eight medals in Athens was also charged with violating a license restriction and failure to obey a stop sign. AP says that Phelps told them he knows he made a mistake, knows what he did was dangerous, knows it was unacceptable.

Still ahead tonight, is the second time a charm or a curse? Second terms in presidential history, the ups and downs, what this president can expect.

And we'll talk with conservative fund-raiser and activist Richard Viguerie about what he would like to see in Bush 2.

And later, as Yasser Arafat lingers, the final chapter in his life is being written and rewritten, a break first.

Around the world this is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: Ronald Reagan was fond of saying, "You ain't seen nothin' yet" and, as it happened, his second term in office truly was something to see. For all the triumphs there were also the train wrecks, avoiding the second while attaining the first is the goal of any president good enough and lucky enough to win reelection, it's certainly the goal of this one.

But, as CNN's Bruce Morton reports, good enough isn't always good enough to last four more years.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Second term presidents usually sound like that confident, men with a mandate raring to go. It's astonishing how often it goes wrong, a jinx? Well, Dwight Eisenhower had the U2 affair, a U.S. spy plane shot down in the Soviet Union. The American pilot survived and confessed. Plus rumors the Soviets were ahead of the U.S. in missiles. Not true, but it hurt.

Richard Nixon's second term brought Watergate. Resignation to avoid impeachment.

RICHARD M. NIXON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

MORTON: Ronald Reagan's second term brought Iran Contra, news that the administration sold arms to Iran in exchange for help and freeing U.S. hostages in Lebanon, then used the money to buy arms for anti-government guerrillas in Nicaragua in defiance of a congressional ban.

RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true. But the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.

MORTON: Bill Clinton's second term was about a woman named Monica Lewinsky and impeachment.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.

MORTON: What goes wrong? Often they overreach.

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: They lose their credibility, they lose their power to -- to dominate, to lead. They become lame ducks by the last two years of their second term. The Congress is not going to pay as much attention to them as they did in their first term, or even in the first two years of their second term. And so, conditions work against them.

MORTON: It isn't inevitable, but it is a pattern, partly because people in this very political city are already calculating what will the ticket be in '08 and how could I be on it?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


BROWN: We're joined now from Washington by Richard Viguerie, the conservative activist, the master of direct mail and fund-raising.

Nice to see you, sir.

Let's see how much we can get done here in a short time. I imagine that overreaching is the least of your concerns right now.

RICHARD VIGUERIE, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN TARGET ADVERTISING: Absolutely, Aaron. You hit the nail on the head. We've been waiting at least 50 years for this. We haven't had a situation where we've had a conservative in the White House and strong majorities in both houses of Congress. So, as Reagan would say, if not now, when? And so we're excited.

BROWN: You want it all. Would you disagree with this, that a vote for President Bush a week ago was not necessarily an endorsement for everything the president proposes or stands for?

VIGUERIE: Well, I think that's obvious. We're in a country of almost 300 million people. Those people have to decide on one of two candidates, and nobody is going to be the candidate that they want on all issues.

So the American people generally, election after election, Aaron, have come down on the side they want the Republicans to govern. So we're excited about doing that. And failure to do that would greatly disappoint the American people, as well as the president's voters and supporters.

BROWN: There some obvious things that obviously -- some obvious things that obviously want -- I'll work on that later. You want the courts. Do you feel strongly that Social Security needs to be in part privatized, if you will?

VIGUERIE: Well, conservatives think of it and Republicans, I think, Aaron, as private accounts, that young people -- we want to protect Social Security for those who are in the system now or about to come into the Social Security program.

But the young people now don't feel they're going get the Social Security. And I think everybody pretty much recognizes it is broken. It's got to be fixed or it won't be there for the young people. And conservatives, Republicans, many Americans are excited about reforming Social Security. It just has to be done.

It takes a lot of political courage. And you have to hand it to the president. That is a tough one to handle, and he handled it quite well.

BROWN: Also, it takes not just courage. It takes a lot of dough, because there is this $2 trillion transition cost. Are you comfortable -- simple question -- are you taking on $2 trillion worth of additional debt?

VIGUERIE: America doesn't have any choice. The system is going to go bankrupt. It's going to go broke. We have to.

The better -- the sooner we deal with the costs now, it's going to make it easier to fix it in the long run. We've got to do it now. We don't have a choice.


BROWN: I'm sorry. On the social side, beyond a constitutional amendment on gay marriage -- I think everyone gets that. Everyone knows you want that. On the social side, the values side, what do you want?

VIGUERIE: Well, No. 1, on the secular side and the nonsecular side, Aaron, the No. 1 issue I think for all of us is judges. We want the Senate to confirm the president's judges, and we expect the president's going to send more judges up like he's been sending, and that's very exciting to conceive of the idea that we will have judges that will do what judges are supposed to do, interpret the law, not make the law, as has been the case for too many years now.

BROWN: Do you want Roe v. Wade overturned?

VIGUERIE: Eventually, absolutely. I as a person do. It is not in the Constitution. The judges invented it out of whole cloth. So, I, as a person. What the president wants, I don't know. That's for him to decide. But I think conservatives, eventually, sure.


BROWN: I'm sorry. Do you want prayer in school?

VIGUERIE: We want the government to quit weighing in on the side of the anti-religious and let God back into the public square, whether that's voluntary prayer in school or allowing children to take a Bible to school, pray at lunchtime. You know, government has gone where it shouldn't go, and we want to right that wrong.

BROWN: This whole idea of reaching out to the other side you find sort of amusing, don't you?

VIGUERIE: Well, it's not a question of reaching out. We want to reach out. But what we don't want is when -- it's code -- the word unity is code for the president to abandon his campaign promises, abandon his commitment to his supporters and move left. And that is just what the country needs, right, another politician a few hours after the polls close break his campaign promises to his supporters, to his voters.

No, that just -- the president is not going to do that.


BROWN: I'm sorry. It's good to see you. As this process unfolds over the next months, I hope you will come back and we'll keep track of how it goes.

VIGUERIE: My pleasure.

BROWN: Thank you, sir, very much, Richard Viguerie, who has probably raised as much money as anybody for conservative cause.

When we come back, back to Fallujah. There are some new pictures coming in of the fighting and we hope some additional reporting from Jane Arraf. We're more sure of one than the other. We'll see how it goes.



BROWN: We've just gotten in some new pictures of the fighting in Fallujah. And we'll show what you we have. The truth is, we don't have a lot of context for the fighting. We do know the reporting so far has been that the city has been under heavy bombardment. That's certainly supported by the pictures both from the air and on the ground.

We know that first American forces, then Iraqi forces, secured a hospital. That's as much for -- to counter propaganda as anything else. Here's what we don't know. While we know the city has been booby-trapped, the early reporting indicates that, we don't know how many casualties there have been. We don't on the American side or the insurgent side. In fact, we don't know how many insurgents of the estimated 3,000 insurgents -- and there are a variety of people from foreign jihadis to local residents -- how many stayed to fight this rather hopeless fight, from their point of view.

We'll know I suppose better when it's all over. But we don't really know that now. The resistance has not been extraordinarily fierce, according to the reporting we've gotten so far. That may or may not tell us how many of the insurgents are still there. They could all be waiting on something, but just not wanting to take the first blast from the Americans, if you will. But this is sort of setting the groundwork for the major ground assault, which will be led by U.S. Marines in the days ahead, and the days ahead may be today. We shall see.

Nothing is simple or easy in the Middle East, not in Iraq, and not in the rest of it, not in life, and as it turns out not in death either. Today, the Paris hospital where Yasser Arafat is being treated for an undetermined illness or although unpublicized one said the Palestinian leader remains in intensive care, this as his wife and Palestinian officials took public swipes at each other.

The failing health of Mr. Arafat has put many things in play, not the least of which is where he will buried, should he die. As expected, Israel has ruled out all of Jerusalem. Nothing is simple or easy in the Middle East.

Reporting tonight, CNN's Guy Raz.


RAZ (voice-over): Islam's third holiest site is in the holy Muslim cemetery on the hillside below. Yasser Arafat's burial here, his apparent last request.

MUFTI IKHIMA GABTI, GRAND MUFTI OF JERUSALEM (through translator): It was his wish to be buried in Jerusalem.

RAZ: East Jerusalem symbolizes Palestinian aspirations for statehood. It's where they'd like to establish a future capital, but this piece of real estate is perhaps the most contentious in the world. It sits atop the ruins of the ancient Jewish temple, the holiest site to Jews.

Israel annexed this part of the city in 1967, a move not recognized internationally. And Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Jerusalem's sovereignty will never be shared with Palestinians.

DANNY RUBENSTEIN, HA'ARETZ NEWSPAPER: Israel will not let them, you know, bury their father in Jerusalem because it might be interpreted as Israeli recognition that they have some political rights in Jerusalem.

RAZ: Israel wants Yasser Arafat buried here, at this plot in Gaza owned by the Arafat family. But it holds neither political nor symbolic significance.

Abu Dis, a Palestinian suburb outside Jerusalem, has also been mentioned, but to Palestinians this would be tantamount to renouncing claims on part of Jerusalem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is Jerusalem. There is Jerusalem. He should be buried there.

RAZ: But Israel fears a Jerusalem burial for Arafat could turn into a political demonstration like the 2001 funeral for popular Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini. And then there's the flash point factor. Arafat's gravesite is likely to become a rallying ground for both loyalists and detractors.


VIGUERIE: And complicating matters further, Aaron, is that any burial site is likely to be permanent, because, under Islamic law, human remains can only be transferred in extraordinary circumstances. So wherever Arafat is buried, it's likely to be his final resting place -- Aaron.

BROWN: Guy, thank you for your work today.

Ahead on the program, in Iraq, one civilian story. Eight members of his family die in a crossfire. Why he prays for the American soldier who killed them.

And morning papers will wrap up the hour.

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


BROWN: The cost of war is measured in many ways, and some people bear more of burden than others. There's nothing fair about it. It's just the way it is.

In the last week or so, there has been much debate over how many civilians may have been killed so far in Iraq, a debate that is certain to go on and may never be settled. This is one man's story. He has lost more than anyone should. He is heartbroken, but not bitter.

Once again, CNN's Jane Arraf.


ARRAF (voice-over): How much pain can one man stand? Abdel Latif Ibrahim Allo (ph), the electricity minister for Diala, is finding out. There was his wife, Siyadhiya (ph), whom he loved from the first grade, Amilid (ph), 21, Agahid (ph), 19, Anahid (ph), 17, Jemana (ph), 14, Afnan (ph), who was 10 and wrote anti-war poems.

He prays for the American soldier who killed them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because, if is normal man, I think the situation is very difficult, is terrible situation. How he could imagine that he killed Afnan?

ARRAF: And the youngest, 7-year-old Yousef (ph).

Six of Allo's children and his wife and nephew were killed in minutes when American tanks fired on their car. When fighting with insurgents broke out on June 24, Latif sent his wife and six of their children to Baghdad in the car. It was the most violent day of the insurgency. Allo's nephew, Ahmed (ph), was driving. No one knows why he ignored the warning shots on an empty street near a U.S. blockade.

DANA PITTARD, U.S. ARMY: Apparently, the driver may have been scared, thinking that it was insurgents firing at him.

ARRAF: He kept driving towards the tanks. After another warning shot, the military says, they fired directly on the car. It careened into a tank and burned, the six children and Latif's nephew inside.

Allo's wife, Siyadhiya, managed to escape from the car and ran towards a tank for help. The tank shot her. Colonel Dana Pittard says his brigade plans to name a mosque after the family.

PITTARD: There's not a place that I will go for the rest of my life that I will not have a picture of the Latif family.

ARRAF: For Allo and his sons, there is little left but pictures; 21-year-old Amilid went through first grade to college with her brother, Hezbar (ph), who is just a year younger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was close to Amilid.

ARRAF: Sometimes, he says he doesn't come home because it's so empty. His brother, Gelan (ph), 16, is a national chess champion. Until the tragedy, he'd worked as a translator for the same Army unit that shot his mother and sisters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe that they mean it when they killed them. I believe that it was a mistake.

ARRAF: But he says he still believes in the new Iraq, still believes this war was worth it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation is need to sacrifice. We are ready to sacrifice for principle, for human principle, not for small things, no, but for big things that we believe in.

ARRAF: How much pain can one man stand? For Abdel Latif Ibrahim Allo, the loss is almost unimaginable. What keeps him going is the belief that it won't be all in vain.

Jane Arraf, CNN, Baquba.


BROWN: Morning papers after the break.



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

All things considered, "The Stars and Stripes" seems to be the right place to start. The pictures I think today are as good or better than the headlines. "U.S. Launches Major Offensive on Fallujah. U.S., Iraqi and British Forces Move in on Sunni Muslim Stronghold." That's clearly the lead and that's certainly the right lead for "Stars and Stripes."

"Christian Science Monitor." "Marines Enter Trip-wired Fallujah. U.S. Tests New Tactics In Urban Warfare." We'll see how that works out.

"The Herald Tribune," published by "The New York Times" in Paris, leads likewise. "U.S. Forces Open Fallujah Assault. Invasion Aims at Center of Iraqi Insurgency."

This is a very good picture on the front page of "The Guardian," the British paper, if I can pick it up. And then I can't. "U.S. Troops Enter Fallujah as Jets Pound Rebel-Held City," a shot of a young insurgent taking on 10,000 U.S. Marines, maybe not the smartest thing in the world to do.

All these consequential matters. Thanks goodness for "The San Francisco Examiner." "Peterson Jury Shows Signs of Stalemate. Judge's Lecture Hints at Discord in Murder Trial." I am actually begging the members of that jury to reach a verdict, so we do not have to go through this again, please.

"The Financial Times." "Bush Will Still Pursue Aggressive Line Abroad," secretary of state speaking, so that's how they lead.

Now, a couple of tabloids. "Hub Schools Tell the Tykes, Grow Up." Kindergartners will now get report cards. Come on. They're kindergartners. What are they going to do, grade them on blocks? "Bourque's Night For the Ages." I think that is Ray Bourque, who is headed for the Hockey Hall of Fame, as well he should be.

Every now and then, I just sort of lose it there.

"Pittsburgh Tribune Review." "Fierce Fight For Fallujah. Rebels Launch Counterattacks Throughout the Country. Civilians Not Targeted, Rumsfeld Says." Well, of course, they're not targeted. No one thought they were being targeted. Come on. But these things happen, and that will be bad.

We'll end it with "The Chicago Times," as we do. Try and get me a shot of the top of this paper, OK. "Meet the Face of Meth Abuse." This is a terrific matching of pictures, before and after, this young woman. "As Part of a Plea Deal Penny (ph) Would Agree to Hoped Her Horrific Transformation Would Keep Kids Away From Meth. Life as a Poster Child Makes Her Question Whether It Was Worth It." Man, if that doesn't keep you off that stuff, what will, huh?

The weather tomorrow in Chicago is "trendy." I'll get to find out. I'll be in the Midwest tomorrow.

We'll wrap it up for the night in a moment.


BROWN: Before we go, one quick programming note, and not just yet another way to feel old. I don't need to feel any older this week, by the way.

It's been 15 years since the Berlin Wall came down, changed the map, changed the world, ushered in what one historian called the end of history, except it wasn't the end, not quite. Tomorrow night on the program, a look at the moment when the wall fall and the years since. That's tomorrow night on the program.

We're actually -- well, not we aren't, because you're probably where you are. But I'm off to the Midwest, Minneapolis, to do a speech. We'll be back here Wednesday. Wolf is here tomorrow. Join us. Join them. Join all of us.

Until then, good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT.


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