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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

Attorney Convicted of Providing Support to Terrorists; North Korea Says It Has Nuclear Weapons

Aired February 10, 2005 - 22:00   ET

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


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Controversial times have always produced controversial lawyers. The '60s had William Kunstler and others. These times have produced a lawyer named Lynne Stewart. This chapter in her story began more than ten years ago with the first attack on the World Trade Center and an Egyptian sheikh who inspired it.
Lynne Stewart lost the case then, his case. She lost her case today and now faces 20 years, which is more than likely the rest of her life in prison. Was she helping a terrorist? Was she being a determined lawyer? And who is this woman named Lynne Stewart anyway; reporting for us tonight CNN's Deborah Feyerick.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She walked out of court a convicted woman but even in defeat Lynne Stewart was defiant.

LYNNE STEWART, CONVICTED ATTORNEY: I will fight on. I'm not giving up. I know I committed no crime.

FEYERICK: Stewart is well known for defending blind Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, a radical sheikh with ties to Osama bin Laden. After Rahman was found guilty of plotting terror attacks on New York City, Stewart visited him in prison.

She agreed in writing to abide by special prison rules and never reveal anything they'd talked about but a jury found that's just what she did, the 65-year-old grandmother found guilty of smuggling dangerous messages to the sheikh's followers around the world.

STEWART: When you put Osama bin Laden in a courtroom and ask the jury to ignore it that's asking a lot.

FEYERICK: The Justice Department called the victory an important step in fighting terror, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales saying "This department will pursue both those who carry out acts of terrorism and those who assist them with their murderous goals."

Stewart is well known for defending mob guys, cop shooters, and civil rights activists like the Black Panthers. In defending herself, she said she was only trying to keep her client in the public eye when she sent out a press release in 2000. In it, Sheikh Rahman called for an end to a cease-fire between his followers and the Egyptian government. Prosecutors say it was a call to arms.

STEWART: This case could be, I hope it will be a wakeup call to all the citizens of this country and all the people who live here that you can't lock up the lawyers. You can't tell the lawyers how to do the job. You've got to let them operate.

FEYERICK: Also found guilty, Stewart's translator Mohammad Yousry and a former paralegal Ahmed Sattar, an aide to Rahman. The case raised eyebrows because the FBI taped prison conversations between Stewart and Rahman without them knowing, compromising attorney/client privilege.

STEWART: I still see myself as being a symbol of what people rail against when they say that civil liberties are eroded, that we don't live in the same America that we lived in even three or four years ago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: Aaron, you could see she was very emotional. She said her tears were not only for her colleagues but also for her family. She's got four children, 12 grandchildren. If she gets the maximum 20 years, she could be separated from them potentially for the rest of her life.

BROWN: And sentencing is?

FEYERICK: In July.

BROWN: Thank you Deborah, Deborah Feyerick tonight.

From assisting terrorists to simply terrifying now, North Korea publicly said today what had long been suspected. It has nuclear weapons and further the North Koreans said they will drop out of the six country talks the White House was hoping would end this crisis.

The White House called on North Korea to return to the negotiating table and perhaps some day it will but, in the meantime, we have this to ponder. What actually does North Korea have and what is the threat, if any, to us?

Here's our National Security Correspondent David Ensor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever since North Korea fired a missile over Japan in 1998, the CIA has been watching it especially closely. U.S. intelligence currently estimates Pyongyang could have two to eight nuclear weapons and that its Taepo Dong 2 missile could have a range of 10,000 kilometers. That would reach parts of the United States.

JON WOLFSTHAL, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: The worst case is that they could put a nuclear weapon by a missile onto parts of Hawaii, Alaska or even parts of the West Coast of the United States. ENSOR: But few experts believe that worst case is yet reality. They doubt North Korea's untested Taepo Dong 2 could hit such a distant target and whether its nuclear bombs would fit on the missile.

WOLFSTHAL: We have serious questions about whether they can shrink down a nuclear weapon to a size small enough that would enable it to hit the United States.

ENSOR: Still, Pyongyang's statement it has "nukes" and no interest for now in talks is definitely jangling nerves.

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE AND INTL. SECURITY: In a sense, we're on a knife's edge that North Korea has created for itself and we have to proceed very cautiously to try to increase the chance that we don't worsen it inadvertently.

ENSOR: Analysts in and out of government see North Korea's latest pronouncement as an effort to stave off what Kim Jong Il knows will be an intense pressure from the United States and from China to negotiate away its weapons program.

WENDY SHERMAN, FMR. COUNSELOR TO STATE DEPT.: I think it is a negotiating ploy but it is a very dangerous negotiating ploy because North Korea is very good at getting themselves into a box which they cannot get out of.

ENSOR (on camera): Administration officials say they will keep turning up the pressure on Pyongyang to return to the six party talks and they will work hard to keep America and its Asian allies unified. Some analysts worry though that North Korea could turn up the temperature even higher by for the first time testing a nuke or a long-range missile.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: We have a rule about using air quotes you know air quotes in the NEWSNIGHT office. We don't. But this story has tested the rule mightily. At its center is a so-called reporter for the Talon News Service, a website run by a Republican activist in Texas. The reporter and many people take issue with his use of that label resigned yesterday from covering the White House.

But the story is much more than that, so we begin with CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the radio, on the Internet, on dozens of TV channels thousands of people call themselves journalists and that is raising a sticky question when it comes to access to the White House which ones should be treated like real reporters. Press Secretary Scott McClellan said today "When you have changing media, it's not an easy issue to decide or try to pick and choose who is a journalist. It gets into the issue of advocacy journalism, where do you draw the line?"

A question to the president by a conservative Internet reporter sparked the debate. Jeff Gannon of Talonnews.com took aim at Democratic Senators last month.

JEFF GANNON, TALONNEWS.COM: How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?

FOREMAN: Liberal Web sites called Gannon a shill for conservative interests. Congressional Democrats asked why he was allowed into the press briefing. Gannon is defending himself.

GANNON: Well, Talon News is a legitimate conservative online news service and my questions are things that my readers, 700,000 daily subscribed readers, want the answer to.

FOREMAN: Still, under a torrent of what he calls unfair Internet assaults on his personal life and threats against his family, Gannon has resigned from Talon News and even White House reporters who like him say that's for the best.

BOB DEANS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTEER, COX NEWSPAPERS: The public has a hard time right now discerning who to trust with the news.

FOREMAN: Bob Deans is the former president of the White House Correspondents Association.

DEANS: They ought to be able to know that we are who we say we are. We don't have a political axe to grind and we're going to deliver the news straight up and that if we don't our editors are going to yank us out of there.

FOREMAN (on camera): Getting a permanent press pass at the White House is difficult. Generally only big news organizations can do it but daily press passes are handed out to almost anyone in the media who passes a basic security test. That is how Jeff Gannon got inside for two years.

(voice-over): And although he is now gone, White House journalists say others with clearly political points of view remain while the White House says it's not the administration's job to decide who is or is not a legitimate journalist.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: As we said this odd little story covers a lot of ground and raises a good many issues.

We're joined from Washington tonight by John Aravosis, one of the bloggers who has been fueling the story. He writes for America Blog, a Democratic political consultant as well, also joining us here in New York Eric Boehlert a senior writer and media critic for Salon, good to have you both.

John, there is I think here a kind of so what quality. Here is this guy. Everyone knows what he is. The only people honestly who read the website are people who believe what he believes to begin with so why the fuss?

JOHN ARAVOSIS, AMERICABLOG.ORG: Aaron, I think the fuss isn't about this guy being a conservative because I think the point's been made there's a lot of conservatives, a lot of liberals in the press corps.

The point is this guy has a rather fishy background that the bloggers over the last couple of weeks at dailycoast.com and also myamericablog.org have found out that, you know, this guy's business experiences go back to dealing with some rather sort of shady Web sites a year or two before he was in the White House.

He sets up his Talon News Service on April 29th, I believe, of 2003. Six days later he's getting a White House pass to get in and ask questions of the president.

We then find out just a few months later that this journalist, who just pops up out of nowhere, is getting CIA documents in the Valeria Plame affair, which was the CIA agent that was outed with regards to the WMD and all of that.

It's just the larger question here for me isn't so what about this guy, is he a journalist or not but how did somebody get this kind of access to the White House and this kind of CIA information? I think the White House is behind this.

BROWN: Let's come back to that.

Eric, is there something a little unseemly about the way -- the way people went at this guy's personal life? I mean this was about ultimately partisan differences, political differences and they went at his personal life.

ERIC BOEHLERT, SALON MEDIA CRITIC: Right and, you know, and I think that's something the bloggers were obviously behind and at Salon that's not what we focused on. We focused on -- we talked about what was the relationship between him and the White House? How did he get this access? But, you know, he was writing under a fake name. There's not many people in the press White House writing under a fake name. He was very mysterious about it.

BROWN: I think they call that a pseudonym in your business don't they?

BOEHLERT: You pick it, alias or whatever.

BROWN: Yes.

BOEHLERT: Not many people going to the press office writing under someone else's name.

BROWN: Right.

BOEHLERT: Sort of mysterious about his past and then so people started digging into both his past and his news agency and a couple of days ago he posted this sort of aggressive essay on his website saying "I'm hiding in plain sight." You know, come after me if you want to find out who I am and people did.

BROWN: So, he did a sort of Gary Hart?

BOEHLERT: In a way, yes. I mean he wrote an essay, "I'm hiding in plain sight. Any of you liberals who want to find out who I am, you know, start digging. There's nothing to find." Well, there was something to find. But, again, I think it's more interesting how did he get this access and, you know, it seems like the rules were bent at the White House to give a partisan a front row seat in the press room.

BROWN: Well, here's what, I mean what a job at the White House says is they don't really ask about your political affiliation on these daily passes. The correspondent corps doesn't pass judgment here. If you show an ID and you pass a Secret Service check then you get to sit there and if your number is drawn, you get to ask a question.

ARAVOSIS: That is the biggest bunch of hogwash I've ever heard.

BROWN: Oh, OK.

ARAVOSIS: George Bush's White House controls everything that happens every second of the day and anybody that thinks that that White House doesn't know everyone walking in the door, they threw out Sara, I forget her name, I want to say McClanahan (ph).

BROWN: Sara McClendon.

ARAVOSIS: Sara McClendon. She got thrown out for three months in 2001 because they didn't like the questions she was asking and she was told for security reasons this 90-year-old reporter couldn't come into the White House.

They absolutely decide who does and doesn't come in that door. If you ask the wrong questions, they punish you. And for them to now suggest that some guy who had a shady business background, we're not talking about his personal life, we're talking about his business life, he told Wolf Blitzer earlier today that he was hired to construct some Web sites that basically the web addresses dealt with escort services.

BROWN: Yes.

ARAVOSIS: We'll leave it at that. I think that that raises enough of a red flag that at least you wonder if this man should be meeting with the president of the United States and getting CIA documents. That's all we're saying.

BROWN: Got it.

ARAVOSIS: This isn't personal. It's important.

BROWN: OK. Well, OK.

BOEHLERT: And the way it works in Washington, if you want to cover the White House, first you go to Capitol Hill. That's the first stop. You have to get credentials for Capitol Hill.

ARAVOSIS: Right.

BOEHLERT: And then if you want a hard pass, a permanent pass to the White House, you go to the White House. You fill out an application and then the Secret Service does a background check. If you don't have Capitol Hill credentials, the White House won't even submit your application.

BROWN: For a hard pass.

BOEHLERT: Yes. Jeff Gannon went to Capitol Hill. They said "You're not a real reporter. This is not a real news organization."

ARAVOSIS: Right.

BOEHLERT: And then he spends two years in the White House Press Office getting his daily passes.

ARAVOSIS: How did he get -- how did he get to ask the president a question two weeks ago? I mean, Eric you know and Aaron you know as well, you don't just get to ask the president a question. That's planned in advance. These guys, there's something else going on here.

This isn't just some journalist who happened to get in and happened to get a pass. They wanted him there. They scripted this and I'm frankly wondering again how did he get involved with Valerie Plame?

It's just there are some unanswered questions here higher up of somebody in the White House and it brings us to the larger question of Armstrong Williams and everything else as far as the whole propaganda White House.

BROWN: We'll leave it at that. It does raise lots of questions on having to do with media, having to do with what's appropriate and, in fact, having to do with the White House and how it operates, good to see you both tonight. Thank you for coming in tonight.

ARAVOSIS: Thank you.

BOEHLERT: Thank you.

BROWN: The next story is really two stories in one. One is a mystery. The other is something else again. The mystery concerns how and why a horribly injured woman in a hospital in Kansas suddenly regained her ability to speak today. Neither the family nor the doctors are saying much just yet. And, in the broader sense, the answer might as well be magic for all medical science knows about the intricacies of the human brain.

The other story, as you'll see, is just beginning and the chapter written today was a doozy. Here's CNN's David Mattingly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The last time Sara Scantlin was able to speak it was more than 20 years ago, the moment she walked into the glaring lights of a drunk driver. The hit- and-run left her battered, broken and unable to speak.

BSTSY SCANTLIN, MOTHER: She knows who we are and she can't -- she can't communicate with us.

MATTINGLY: John Moore, now a police detective, was a witness to Sara's hit-and-run.

JOHN MOORE, FORMER POLICE DETECTIVE: We saw her fly through the air probably at least 20 feet into the air and landed on her head.

MATTINGLY: It happened here on a dark two-lane road outside their hometown at Hutchinson, Kansas as they left a party.

(on camera): When you saw that accident did you think that there was any way she could survive?

MOORE: No, I thought she was probably -- if she wasn't dead, she was going to probably die.

JIM SCANTLIN, FATHER: The phone rings about midnight. My wife answers it, pulls my big toe and says "We've got to get to the hospital. Something bad's happened to Sara.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But now, more than 20 years later and 38 years old, her family calls her a medical miracle as she suddenly regained the ability to talk.

J. SCANTLIN: And we got on the phone and she's "Hi, Dad" and she's again 100 percent Sara. She's using all of her capacity to the maximum and that's -- that's a real inspiration. Sara's back and that's -- that's the best gift in the world.

MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN, Hutchinson, Kansas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Much more to come in the hour ahead, including just one of the hard choices in the proposed federal budget, a budget that is full of hard choices.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even Start is not working and so I've asked that the program be eliminated and focus resources on things that do work.

BROWN (voice-over): Right or wrong choices have consequences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will make a difference to the parent who is cut from the program. There is no question about it.

BROWN: Tonight, a look at one program affecting parents and children.

In Iraq, even good intentions sometimes backfire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): For me to be humiliated like this after everything I've done for this country?

BROWN: He's hurt. He's angry and he can make life easy or difficult for American forces.

And in the land of the royal scandal, a royal engagement, after a royally long courtship, he's Charles, she's Camilla and this is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Now to that important and breaking news story that Prince Charles and his lady love are finally getting married after a romance that has lasted longer than most marriages do.

The prince, fair to say, has had a bumpy time of love by turns tragic and comical and weird, not that he's without company in the eventful romance department.

Edward VIII, after all, gave up the throne for the woman he loved. Henry VIII kept the throne and beheaded the woman. As for the prince, he'll almost surely get the throne and woman and a new set of in-laws to boot.

Reporting for us from London tonight CNN's Walter Rodgers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALTER RODGERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The British are again atwitter, not for the birds of spring but for these love birds. After an on-again off-again love affair of 35 years, Prince Charles and Camilla are finally getting married. She said he proposed on bended knee and so wedding bells April 8th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very excited. Prince Charles speaks about his happiness.

RODGERS: It all seemed a prelude to Valentine's Day, although compared to Princess Diana, Camilla was short changed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She'll be given the title, the Duchess of Cornwall, but when Charles becomes king she will not become Queen Camilla. Instead, she'll be known as the princes consort. RODGERS: Charles and Diana's sons are said to be happy but their mother casts a long shadow, especially this bitter remark about the love triangle.

PRINCESS DIANA: Well, there were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded.

RODGERS: The queen's permission was necessary for her 56-year- old son to remarry. When she finally agreed, the prime minister said here, here.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We all wish them every happiness for their future together.

RODGERS: First sounding suggests the British public is still cool to Camilla.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirty-four percent believe, yes, they are right to marry. An overwhelming 66 percent of viewers think, no, the wedding is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact he let Diana go in the first place I think he must be mad anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're better off getting married than living in sin.

RODGERS (on camera): If truth be told, some polls have shown that nearly 40 percent of the British public says it doesn't care what Prince Charles does and more than a few Brits will tell you, perhaps tongue in cheek, the only reason they keep the monarchy anymore is to please the Americans.

(voice-over): Still, at the London Bridge Club feelings ran deep.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe in the monarchy and I hope that when the queen dies we'll have got rid of the monarchy all together.

RODGERS: And all about this town which thrives on gossip, Charles and Camilla were the hottest gossip about.

Walter Rodgers, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: We will acknowledge that we are something less than keen on this whole royals deal believing that one should actually have to earn a castle rather than being born to it and that ribbon cutting isn't a real job anyway.

That said we did try to find the good and meaningful in this and perhaps we have. Elsie O'Shaughnessy is the editor in chief of a new magazine called "Tango," which is devoted to relationship, which is out this month? ELSIE O'SHAUGHNESSY, EDITOR, "TANGO": Yes, in fact tomorrow is our launch date.

BROWN: The timing could hardly have been better. OK, here's what your take on this is simply and you'll expand on it because it's really sort of cool, which is that this is the triumph of first love.

O'SHAUGHNESSY: Well, there's something in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) right now where first love is getting its day in the sun. Donna Hanover has a book out and she's...

BROWN: Former Mrs. Giuliani.

O'SHAUGHNESSY: Former Mrs. Giuliani she's written. It's called "My Boyfriend's Back." She's just married her first love. There are a number of people. Nicole Miller (ph) has married her first love.

People separate. They go through all sorts of trials and tribulations and I think we can say that Charles has been through his share. And then they come back together with someone who is comfortable for them, someone who they really feel understands them and gets them because it's a shared history.

BROWN: Is this -- I don't know how much you thought about this but when one goes back to one's first love is this sort of hot, steamy romance or is this, you used the word comfortable.

O'SHAUGHNESSY: Well, I think obviously the hot, steamy aspect of romance wears off no matter whether you're together or apart over a period of years and I think, you know, reunions can be very hot and steamy.

But I would say that intimacy can be a very, very compelling thing and in most romances that are successful and that last over a period of time, people move from that steamy, "I need to throw you onto the floor when I see you," into something that is very, very much more complex and subtle and intimate and that -- that provides a whole lot more than the steamy side ever will.

BROWN: What do you think it is about a first love? I mean in an odd way I suspect everyone watching remembers the girl in high school or the guy in high school and kind of does wonder, if they don't know, what they're up to.

O'SHAUGHNESSY: Yes. I certainly have wondered. I have actually found myself going back and seeing somebody I hadn't seen for a long time who was a first love like that.

BROWN: Yes.

O'SHAUGHNESSY: You can be disappointed. You can have the spark still there.

BROWN: I was going to say and were you disappointed? Did you find out the guy was a total loser or something? O'SHAUGHNESSY: No, just you're not that age anymore and this is where the great romances are so fabulous to look at because somehow Charles and Camilla could not let go of each other through all.

She married, then he married, then he was really in a situation where it would have been so bad from a PR perspective for him to be walking around with her. Then they had to go underground, the queen with the chilled eyes.

But they could not -- there was something there that really bound them together that overcame all of these obstacles and it's where the first marriage to Diana, all the trappings of the fairytale but a hollowness underneath. And this one in some sense is very prosaic but has great love underneath it.

BROWN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE.) Don't you think honestly, though, it's a little weird for a 56-year-old guy to have to ask his mother permission to marry?

O'SHAUGHNESSY: That's why you don't want to be a royal though, Aaron. You want to earn your own castle and you don't want to be asking your mother for permission to marry.

BROWN: That's right. Well, and I don't think as someone said to me earlier today, I don't think I ever have to worry about being Sir Aaron. I don't think that's going to happen.

O'SHAUGHNESSY: They don't sir you around here ever? Yes, sir, no sir?

BROWN: Occasionally they don't even call me Aaron. It's nice to meet you. Good luck with the magazine. It's an interesting idea.

O'SHAUGHNESSY: Thanks. Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you for coming in.

In a moment, sending a blue state Democrat to win over red state voters, Howard Dean the answer, we'll talk a little politics tonight but we will take a break first.

This is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: This just in: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was in France attending a meeting of the NATO foreign ministers, has made a surprise trip to Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld landed in Mosul around 10:15 Eastern time. He will spend one day there to visit troops on the ground, assess the military situation in short order, apparently, and hand out some medals. Again, the secretary of defense has made a surprise trip to Iraq tonight.

Meantime, the president today racked up more miles barnstorming the country in search of support for his plan to remake and partially privatize Social Security. He encountered protesters outside his first stop today in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the state chapter of AARP, American Association of Retired Persons, or People, says it plans to oppose the president's plan.

Later, outside Philadelphia, the president shifted the message to younger people, who he says are demanding reform of the sort he is offering.

Young or old, Social Security or something else, people do feel the affects of decisions made in Washington. With that in mind, we've been looking at line items in the president's budget proposal and the people with a stake in what happens.

Case in point tonight from CNN's Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are my eyes.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surap (ph) and her daughter Erem (ph) come to this D.C. school four mornings a week. While Erem learns her ABCs, Surap is practicing her English next door. This is Even Start, a $225 million literacy program launched by first lady Barbara Bush 16 years ago. Now her son wants to get rid of it.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even Start is not working. And so, I have asked that the program be eliminated and focus resources on things that do work.

BASH: Bush officials argue three studies of the program, designed to coach low-income programs to read with their kids, is not working.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am going to be good example for my children.

BASH: Surap calls herself proof the president is wrong, saying Even Start made her more English literate and better equipped to make her five kids better students.

Josie (ph) says the program teaches her to be self-sufficient.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can see a big difference in my life.

BASH: A Bush aide compares these positive testimonials to patients taking placebo drugs and feeling cured.

C. TODD JONES, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: While they seem to believe they're getting improved services, we didn't see the impact through our studies.

BASH: The coordinator here calls the Bush studies flawed, insisting their data demonstrates real results.

CHRISTIE MCKAY, DIRECTOR, EVEN START D.C.: There might be a few Even Start program that have not been successful. But just because there's a few defense contractors that aren't working out, you don't eliminate the whole defense system.

BASH (on camera): The White House tried to eliminate the Even Start literacy program last year, but Congress put it back in budget, primarily because of a very important patron.

(voice-over): Former Republican Congressman William Goodling came up with Even Start. He is lobbying former colleagues the $225 million program is insignificant in a $2 trillion budget, but not to the students.

WILLIAM GOODLING, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It will make the difference to the parent who is cut from the program. There's no question about it.

BASH: This Even Start center is one of about 1,000 nationwide. They could stay open without federal dollars, but say it's not likely.

Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: While the president enjoys majorities in both houses of Congress, the Democrats seem to be enjoying absolutely nothing these days. They are in that "Who are we phase?" of political life, the phase the losing party often finds itself in, even if the loss is a narrow one.

For now, the answer seems to be to be the feisty opposition. And who is feistier than Howard Dean, the only candidate left standing to chair the Democratic National Committee? This may be one of those true rarities of political life these days, a choice that makes both parties happy.

Here is CNN's Ed Henry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Rick Coplen, West Point class of '81, a politically active red stater who preaches moral values and balanced budgets. His wife is an Army battalion commander about to be deployed to Iraq. He grows emotional about the impact on their two daughters, but knows Lorelai (ph) is doing her duty.

RICK COPLEN, PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CHAIR: That we have to stay the course and we have to do the right things to help put that place back together.

HENRY: It may seem surprising, but Coplen is a Democrat, a Dean Democrat.

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To take back the White House. Yes!

HENRY: Coplen is fired up that the anti-war Howard Dean is about to become the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. COPLEN: Howard Dean's passion, his organizational skills, his fund-raising skills that we've seen clearly are going to be a powerful force to help rebuild the Democratic Party at the grassroots level.

HENRY: Those ingredients matter to Coplen, democratic chairman of Prince William County in Virginia, a sprawling suburb about 30 miles from the White House. Top Democrats on Capitol Hill have worried Dean may be too radioactive and angry, but local Democratic leaders across the nation believe Dean's in-your-face style will energize volunteers and bring the party's message back to bread-and- butter domestic issues.

COPLEN: And, clearly, he will is going to passionate. And there's nothing wrong with passion. We are passionate. And we're going to be very aggressive in taking our message and promoting our candidates. And that's all very positive.

HENRY (on camera): In a new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup of about half of the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee picking a new chairman Saturday, 90 percent said Howard Dean will make an excellent or good chairman.

(voice-over): Local officials, like Coplen, are excited by Dean's ability to raise vast sums over the Internet and his vows to sprinkle that money around the nation to fix the party apparatus. Republicans are salivating over Dean's comeback, eager to claim this shows a leftward and wild tilt for the DNC, but Coplen says the caricature of a liberal loose canon is untrue.

COPLEN: Howard Dean as governor was certainly a centrist, a budget balancer, someone who looked out for the good of the people and clearly not this extreme liberal. And I know it's easy within the heat of a presidential campaign to get characterized that way. But I personally believe that was a mischaracterization.

HENRY: Coplen says last year's election left him feeling like a football player who has been knocked to the ground. But he is ready to get back up and is glad to have Howard Dean now calling the plays.

Ed Henry, CNN, Occoquan, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Still ahead on NEWSNIGHT tonight, bullets and bombs are not the only weapons Iraqi insurgents are using in their campaign to destabilize the country.

And later, Jason Giambi goes before the press, what he did and did not say about steroids in baseball.

We'll take a break. Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Iraq will close its borders for five days next week during a major Shiite religious holiday. It wants to keep out pilgrims from other nations and keep a lid on violence, too.

Last year, you might recall, insurgents launched attacks at holy sites, attacks that killed nearly 200 people. There was no letup in the violence today. Attacks killed more than 50.

Violence is the primary tool, but hardly the only one, insurgents use to try and destabilize the country.

A story of humiliation now reported tonight by CNN's Jane Arraf.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Nashaef Hussein Al-Sasi (ph) is furious, not at the U.S. Army commander who has come to his house, but at the Iraqi army. He shows Colonel Dana Patard (ph) the bullet holes where he says the army fired at his home. They walk past the swimming pool, emptied for winter.

Nashaef Hussein, a provincial council member, points out the palm grove where he believes insurgents were shooting from. Soldiers at a temporary checkpoint seemed to believe the shooting was coming from Nashaef's house and fired back. Nashaef's guards responded by shooting at the soldiers. Nashaef says he was taken away by Iraqi soldiers in handcuffs as they cursed the Governing Council.

The colonel, who has known Nashaef for the past year, tries to diffuse the situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the most important thing is, you're OK.

ARRAF: But he is not OK. Worse than the gunfire was the disgrace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Even my son, a doctor, was in his pajamas without a shirt. They made us get into the car without shoes.

ARRAF: Even mistreatment by Saddam Hussein's regime didn't rival this humiliation, he tells the Iraqi army commander. Both are from the Al Tamimi tribe, powerful in their own right.

Diah Asmel Abbad (ph) is head of a celebrated Iraqi army battalion, but the Iraqi army is just starting up and there are few rules to go by.

"My soldiers need to defend themselves when fired on, whether you're from the Governing Council or not," Colonel Diah (ph) tells Nashaef. He tells him he's investigating and if his men behaved wrongly, they'll be punished.

Inside, Colonel Patard tells Nashaef he will be compensated for any damage. Nashaef says he doesn't need any money. "This house cost 1.1 billion Iraqi dinars," he says, half a million dollars. Each room costs more than $3,000 to furnish. "There's one thing that's important to me," he says. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Because of my influence and social standing, there hasn't been a shot fired in this neighborhood for more than a year. How can they restore my respect? For me to be humiliated like this after everything I have done for this country?

ARRAF: Colonel Patard later tells Nashaef Hussein that, from now on, no Iraqi council member will be detained without consulting the head of the council. He asks for patience as they investigate the incident and for patience with the new Iraqi army. The bullet holes will be quickly fixed. Hard feelings take much longer to repair.

Jane Arraf, CNN, Maqtodiah (ph), Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Still ahead tonight, what a big name caught up in the steroid scandal of big league baseball said today about the whole mess and what he didn't say.

And, later, the rooster, who always tests clean, by the way, stops by with morning papers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Last night, we took a look at problem of steroid use with teens, a problem, fair to say, that gets far more attention in professional sports, which is where we turn tonight.

One of the star athletes caught up in one of the largest doping investigations under way, the BALCO case, apologized today without exactly using the S-word.

Here is CNN's Steve Overmyer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE OVERMYER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi didn't admit to taking steroids Thursday, but he did apologize for the distraction he has caused to his fans and teammates.

JASON GIAMBI, NEW YORK YANKEES: I feel like I let down the fans. I feel like I let down the media. I feel like I let down, you know, the Yankees. I feel like I let down my teammates. So, I apologize for that.

OVERMYER: "The San Francisco Chronicle" reported last year Giambi admitted to a grand jury that he used steroids for at least two years, applying undetectable steroid cream and injecting himself with testosterone and human growth hormone.

Giambi would not confirm what he testified about BALCO, the California laboratory at the heart of the federal investigation.

GIAMBI: I'm sorry that I can't get into bigger specifics for you guys. And, hopefully, someday, I will. Because of the legal issues going on, you know, it would be, you know, a lot easier.

OVERMYER: "The Chronicle" said several big-name athletes called to testify, including Giambi, Barry Bonds and Olympic sprinter Marion Jones, were told they would not be charged with a crime if they told the truth. Giambi was the only athlete so far to allegedly admit using the steroids.

GIAMBI: The one thing that I will tell you is, when I went in front of the grand jury, I told the truth.

OVERMYER: Baseball has been rocked by the steroid scandal. And a new book next week from former Major Leaguer Jose Canseco promises to set the pot boiling again, according to his publisher. Giambi denied Canseco's allegation that he took steroids with Canseco and record-setting slugger Mark McGwire when the trio played together with the Oakland A's.

GIAMBI: I think it's sad. I think it's delusional.

OVERMYER: Since the BALCO investigation started, baseball has implemented a stricter steroid testing polling policy.

BUD SELIG, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL COMMISSIONER: I think that, as a sport, we have done everything that we could at this point, media penalties, random testing, player gets publicly named if, heaven forbid, he does test positively.

OVERMYER: Giambi won't be punished based on the new policy, but his punishment may come down from the stands, where the fans will be the first to judge.

JOE TORRE, YANKEES MANAGER: It is going to be a tough time for him, because the fans are going to have some questions in their mind.

GIAMBI: I totally understand how the fans feel. I really do. And that's why I have been working out twice a day, to try to earn back some of that support.

OVERMYER: With spring training just two weeks ago, fans may be wondering whether to support any of the players whose accomplishments may or may not be real.

Steve Overmyer, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Well, Fleet Street, as you might imagine, is having a field day with the news of Prince Charles' engagement.

Morning papers after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(ROOSTER CROWING)

BROWN: Okeydoke, time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world. There is perhaps a chuckle in my voice as I do this tonight.

First of all, the fact this is front-page news is incredible to me, but it is front-page news.

"International Herald Tribune," a real newspaper.

(HORN BLARING)

BROWN: Oh, cut it out.

"With Queen's Blessing, Charles Will Wed," a very straightforward headline. We're glad the queen agrees. What I liked about this is that both Charles and Camilla are wearing matching skirts. I don't know if you could see that or not, but they are there.

"The Washington Times" does not lead with that. "City Falters in Collecting Parking Fines, 53.5 Percent Not Up to National Average." I wonder what the national average of collecting parking fines is.

But down at the bottom, they have old Charlie, or Chuck, I think, as they call him around the palace, and Camilla standing on a wedding cake. "Prince Charles to Marry Old Flame. Parker Bowles Won't Be Queen."

"The Guardian." "After Years of Agonizing, Charles Finally Names the Day." And there is the picture of the happy couple from yesterday. And she is sporting quite a fancy ring, actually. I guess if you're the prince of Wales or -- is he the prince of Wales? Well, whatever the heck he is, he is the heir to the throne. In any case, he probably can get a deal on good jewelry.

"The Times," a London paper, a terrific headline, OK? This is a very good headline. "After 30 Years, Charles Puts His Affair in Order." Get it? Anyway. And they've got this -- come back to this, OK, Chris (ph)? They got this picture of the two of them back in, like, 1975 at a polo match, because that's what the royals do. They go to polo matches and stuff. And they look quite fetching there.

How we doing on time? Thank you.

"The Detroit News" leads with important things. "Axe Falls on More State Services" and "Detroit to Shut Schools; 10,600 Kids in Limbo." But they got it right here. "For Camilla and Charles, It's a Real Fairy Tale World." But up here is the headline that I like. "The Mistress Gets Her Man."

All right. The weather in Chicago tomorrow -- by the way, "The Chicago Sun-Times" also has the happy couple there.

And the weather tomorrow, like the happy couple...

(HORN BLARING)

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN: It's like it's a fox hunt here tonight. Oh, I guess I shouldn't have said that.

The weather tomorrow is "peachy."

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: So, I was just thinking, what do you think the chances are that I'm going to get invited to the Charles and Camilla wedding? Not that good.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" next for most of you. "AMERICAN MORNING" 7:00 a.m. Eastern time. We're back tomorrow night at 10:00. We hope you join us.

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

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


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