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CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS
Mexican Stamps; Phoenix Incident; Italian CIA Kidnapping; Live 8 Concerts; Bob Geldof Interview; Iran Embassy Takeover; Afghan Operations
Aired June 30, 2005 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, it sounds like a Tom Clancy spy thriller, the cast of characteristic characters. The CIA, Italian espionage agents and a suspected al Qaeda terrorist allegedly kidnapped on the streets of Milan and perhaps tortured. But the drama is very, very real.
Stand by for hard news on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.
BLITZER (voice-over): Hostage holder? 25 years later, former American hostages say Iran's president-elect was one of their captors.
DON SHARER, FMR. HOSTAGE IN IRAN: As soon as I saw the face, it rang a lot of bells to me.
BLITZER: From the freeway to the runway, a high speed chase turns into an airport security scare. Could a terrorist do the same thing?
Ten concerts, the biggest names in pop music, but in the spotlight, global poverty. I'll speak with the one-time rocker who wants to rock the world. Sir Bob Geldof, the man behind Live 8.
ANNOUNCER: This is WOLF BLITZER REPORTS for Thursday, June 30, 2005.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for joining us. Just a few days ago, he was elected president of Iran. 25 years ago, was he one of the militants holding Americans hostage at the United States embassy in Tehran? Some of those Americans say they can picture him like it was yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK SCOTT, FORMER HOSTAGE: I was sauntering through the living room when we were watching the news. And I had stopped dead in my tracks. And said to my wife, I know that guy. And I took a really good look at him and realized it brought back memories of 444 days as a hostage in Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: The Bush administration says it wants to get a clearer picture. Let's cover this story first with our State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, until about a week ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was hardly known outside of Iran. But now the former mayor of Tehran suddenly finds himself at the center of a growing controversy which may or may not be true.
KOPPEL (voice-over): Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had just won Iran's recent presidential election when former hostage Dan Sharer says he saw the president-elect's photograph in his local newspaper and flashed back 25 years.
DON SHARER, FORMER HOSTAGE: It was a recent picture. But he's still looked like a man. Take 20 years off of him, he was there.
KOPPEL: There is Tehran in 1979 when militant students swept up in Iran's Islamic revolution, seized the U.S. embassy and held 52 Americans including Dan Sharer hostage for 444 days.
Another former hostage, William Daugherty says he's 99 percent sure Ahmadinejad was one of his captors.
WILLIAM DAUGHERTY, FORMER HOSTAGE: I remember seeing him acting in a super advisory or leadership capacity.
KOPPEL: But other former American hostages contacted by CNN say they aren't so sure.
Much of the controversy surrounds these photographs from 1979. The one on the left confirmed to be then 23-year-old Ahmadinejad. The one on the right of a hostage taker.
A known ultraconservative and follower of Iran's supreme leader, Ahmadinejad has detailed much of his past on his own Web site. Even listing his membership in a radical student group back in the '70s, some of whose members seized the embassy.
But one of the former student leaders of the hostage taking told CNN, Ahmadinejad was not involved. And close associates of the president-elect as well as the Iranian government have also reportedly denied the allegation allegations. Nevertheless, the White House says it's taking the allegation seriously.
STEPHEN HADLEY, NATION SECURITY ADVISER: At this point, no determination has been raised. It obviously raises some questions and we're looking into that.
KOPPEL: Among other questions, experts say, if the allegations are true, what impact might this have on European negotiations with Iran to give up its nuclear program?
GEOFFREY KEMP, THE NIXON CENTER: It's going to make them more difficult because the United States is going to, I think, toughen its position.
KOPPEL: One administration official called the potential political, diplomatic and policy ramifications of this, Wolf, quote, "unprecedented" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Andrea Koppel, thank you very much for that report.
It's certainly a face that brings back nightmares for many of those Americans who would held hostage in Tehran. But is it the same face? Our Brian Todd has been looking into this part of the story -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, so much of this story today is based on some of the key players looking at old and current pictures of the Iranian president-elect and comparing them to pictures of a hostage taker.
So, we decided to take a closer look at these now very important images.
TODD: One look at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and some former hostages were sure this man, Iran's president-elect, was among their captors a quarter century ago.
SHARER: As soon as I saw the face, it rang a lot of bells to me.
TODD: It may ring bells to Dan Sharer, but what do experts say? We spoke to Peter Smerick, former FBI special agent. For a decade, one of the bureaus premiere photography experts.
We showed Smerick several current still photos of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a picture of the president-elect when he was a student in 1979, and pictures of one hostage taker who Ahmadinejad is being compared to.
(on camera): The two pictures that we seem to be comparing most are this picture of a hostage taker with a hostage from 1979, this picture from about the same time period of Mr. Ahmadinejad in his student days.
What are the fundamental similarities and differences that you can tell me from those two photos?
PETER SMERICK, FORMER FBI PHOTO EXPERT: What I observed in the year book photograph is what appears to be a large space between the eyebrows. Where in the photograph of the hostage holder, I see a very, very small space between the eyebrow hairs.
TODD: What about the nose comparison?
SMERICK: Now, the noses appear to be similar, but this might be considered more or less a class characteristic. In other words, there is nothing in these photographs that tell me it is a unique nose to one person.
TODD: Smerick also points out differences in the moustache and beard. But says time, camera angle and shadows could account for that. So, we showed him two pieces of videotape frozen next to each other, a recent image of Ahmadinejad on the left, on right, a hostage taker from 1979.
SMERICK: In this particular instance, the earlobe of the individual photographed in 1979 appears to be squared off at the base. Where the ear lobe of the current president of Iran seems to be more rounded and like a peninsula coming down to a little bit of a point.
The nose was of interest to me, because in this image, there appears to be a hook type of nose. Where over here, even though the image is very, very poor, it appears to be more angular.
TODD: Bottom line? Smerick says while there are facial similarities between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the 1979 hostage taker in these pictures...
SMERICK: As an expert who's testified in court many times regarding photographic identification, this is one case where I would be nonconclusive.
TODD: Now, Smerick says one critical feature in matching photographs looking at the position of the ears on the head. We can illustrate this with my four-year-old driver's license here. Smerick says that feature never changes on a person. And he says you can measure it by placing a card or ruler under the nose and measuring it across. That feature again never changes on a person. And that way you can always tell if one someone's had work done on their face, that feature doesn't change.
Now, Smerick says based on the photos we showed him of the Iranian president-elect and the pictures of the hostage taker, that comparison too is inconclusive. And we have to make clear, Iranian officials deny that Ahmadinejad took part in the 1979 takeover. And some hostages as Andrea Koppel reported say he was not among their captors, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. That was an excellent piece, Brian Todd. Good explanation. Thank you very much for taking us into those photographs.
A search team has now recovered the bodies of all the U.S. military personnel that were on a special forces helicopter downed this week in Eastern Afghanistan. But there are questions about the fate of other Americans in the area high up in the mountains near the Pakistani border. Let's go live to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, two days after the apparent shootdown of the U.S. helicopter, some very sensitive details not emerging from the Pentagon. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
STARR (voice-over): In the remote mountains of Eastern Afghanistan, the remains of all 16 servicemen on board the Chinook helicopter have now been recovered. Officials confirm it was shot down by insurgent rocket fire.
Two days later, there is still fighting between coalition and insurgent forces. And senior Pentagon officials say, they do not know the fate of all the troops on the ground at the time of the crash.
(on camera): Is everyone accounted for?
LT. GEN. JAMES CONWAY, U.S. MARINE CORPS: It is an ongoing operation in that context. And we don't have full accountability, nor will we until such time an the operation is complete.
STARR: It's an unusual statement with a general who says from a podium, we don't have full accountability. Is there any way you can further clarify what you mean?
STARR (voice-over): Lee Russell's brother, Army Staff Sergeant Mike Russell is among those who died on the helicopter. They last spoke on Memorial Day weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I and my kids talked to him. I told him to be careful. Told him to be safe. And that we were proud of him. And we'd see him when he got back.
STARR: Mike Russell is survived by a wife and two children.
STARR: And, Wolf, Pentagon officials say they will have nothing more to say about the fate of the troops still fighting in the mountains until everyone is accounted for -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And that's appropriate. Thanks very much, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, for us.
A startling scene at the Phoenix Airport. How did a driver pull right up to the runway, on the runway and get right next to the planes? Take a closer look at the security implications in today's CNN "Security Watch."
Out of control: A ferry runs aids ground causing major damage. We will have new home video of the accident. It's just in. We'll share it with you.
And later, pitching a fit off the mound: Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers tangles with a television camera. We'll show you what happened.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're just getting in some home video of that ferry accident earlier today in West Vancouver, British Columbia. Officials say the ship apparently lost power as it was pulling into port and floated into a marina damaging dozens of smaller boats. Listen to this.
BLITZER: Pretty dramatic, pretty scary stuff. Divers were called in to search the wreckage of the pleasure boats, but there are no reports of injuries. Witnesses say the ferry's crew repeatedly sounded the horn. We just heard that horn in warning as the boat drifted toward the marina. Lots of physical damage. Fortunately, no serious injuries, at least as of right now.
In our CNN "Security Watch," a tense and dangerous pursuit is raising new questions about airport security. CNN's Rusty Dornin reports the final moments of the chase happened on the runways at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, shutting down one of the nation's busiest airports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This vehicle has made its way on to I-17.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By the time we see suspect Damian Holmes driving what police say was a stolen pick-up, Phoenix Police had backed off chasing him by car. They said they were trying to prevent a dangerous accident. That didn't stop the suspect from erratic driving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE; Running every red light throughout the city limits. At some point, almost hitting a pedestrian.
DORNIN: A police helicopter chased him to the airport where he disappeared for a time inside the parking structure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just got to wait and see if he comes out the other end.
DORNIN: He did and headed out on the runway, at one point, veering around a jet on the tarmac. That's when you see the motorcycle officer crash. That officer and another fired at the fleeing suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The decision was made to stop that vehicle through any means necessary. Two Phoenix police officers fired upon that vehicle with their service weapons after it crashed through the gate.
DORNIN: That didn't stop Holmes. He kept going, fence and all. It took two police cars as battering rams to bring the truck to a stop. Holmes was slightly injured in the final crash, but not by police gunfire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shots did not stop the vehicle. They did not strike the driver. Fortunately, our motor officer did not sustain a serious injury.
DORNIN: Airport runways were shut down for less than ten minutes. This was not the first time a police chase ended up on the Sky Harbor Airport runway. In November of 2003, a suspect also crashed through a fence at the airfield.
Airport officials claim since that September 11, 2001, perimeter fences and barriers have been beefed up for security. But the spokesperson added, quote, "in this case, it was a very large truck."
They say they will investigate this incident to see if more improvements should be made.
Rusty Dornin, CNN.
BLITZER: For more on the security issues that this story is raising, we're joined now by CNN security analyst Richard Falkenwrath. He's the former White House deputy homeland security adviser. Richard, this car, this truck got on the runway. And you could see it moving around aircraft. What does that say to you about the security, the perimeter of a major airport like the one in Phoenix?
RICHARD FALKENWRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: The perimeter is fairly lightly secure. That was a chain link fence. At least there was a fence and at least it was locked. And it seems to be in compliance with federal regulations that there be a fence.
But these are not barriers designed to stop a very large truck that's going to ram through them. Those are very expensive. And if we deployed those at all 450 commercial airports in the country, it would be a very great burden on commercial aviation.
BLITZER: But doesn't it make sense, though, since aircraft have been at least in the past, they've been used as missiles, if you will?
FALKENWRATH: They have. And I'm sure now TSA will look at it again and say are the regs strong enough? Should we beef up requirements for perimeter fencing? But they've got to weigh it against a lot of other priorities, and a lot other things they need to do.
They can't achieve 100 percent security at airports. It will never be possible. I think they will look at it again. But my sense is whatever changes they make in the regulations will be relatively modest.
BLITZER: On the scale of priorities, perimeter security at major airports around the country, how big of a deal is this? There must be a lot of other things, at least in your mind, that might be more important than focusing in on the fences at an airport.
FALKENRATH: Yeeah, there are. And in fact, we had inspections going on of the fences at all the airports in 2004. And we diverted some of the people doing inspections to start doing inspections for shoulder fired missile vulnerability, which is yet another danger for commercial aviation. And we thought the shoulder-fired missile threat was an even greater problem than ramming the fence.
There's also problems with screening the workforce. There's about a million people who work inside the secure area of the 450 airports every day in America. Those people are not screened every day. Once they get their badge, they just come in and out. Not like the passengers. And so we also need to look at that.
It's not clear to me that perimeter fencing is the highest priority that we've got for airport security.
BLITZER: But there certainly is a vulnerability which TSA I assume is going to take a look at.
FALKENRATH: They sure will.
BLITZER: Richard Falkenrath, thanks very much for that report, that analysis.
And to our viewers, please stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.
Is "Time" magazine backing down in an effort to keep journalist Matthew Cooper out of jail? Find out if the reporter's confidential sources will be revealed?
International uproar: CIA agents accused of a kidnapping in Italy. The Italian government and the CIA react.
And NASA goes, says it's a go. It's just announced the date the shuttle will return to flight. Stay with us.
BLITZER: "Time" magazine says it will comply with a court order by turning a reporter's notes over to a grand jury investigating the illegal disclosure -- perhaps, illegal disclosure, of a CIA operative's name. The move could keep reporter Matthew Cooper out of jail. The judge has threatened to lock Cooper up unless he identifies the government sources who told him Valerie Plame was a CIA operative.
Last week, the Supreme Court refused to intervene. Both "Time" magazine and CNN are owned by Time Warner Incorporated. Joining us now from New York, to discuss today's dramatic development, CNN Senior Analyst Jeff Greenfield.
I don't know about you, Jeff, but I was pretty surprised to hear that our parent company Time Warner, Time, Inc., has decided to go forward and hand over Matthew Cooper's notes to the government.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, their explanation was: Look, everybody has to obey a final order of the courts. Presidents have had to do it. You know, Richard Nixon resigned because of it. Bill Clinton had to testify while he was in office. And if presidents are going to do that, so newspaper organizations or media organizations have to abide by it.
The "New York Times" issued a statement saying they were very disappointed in what the Time, Inc. decision was, because they point out in the past, back in 1978, one of their reporters spent 40 days in jail for refusing to give up a confidential source. And now the question is, having made this decision: Will it in fact get Matt Cooper off the hook and indirectly, will it also keep Judith Miller of the "New York Times" from having to go to jail, if the independent council has the information that he says he needs? That we don't yet know.
BLITZER: It -- there have been other news organizations that have cooperated with the prosecutor in this case, including the "Washington Post" and NBC news, I believe, as well. So, there's a little murkiness in this whole issue right now.
GREENFIELD: There's enough murkiness that if this was water, you wouldn't swim in it. For instance: This original story came out, as we know, in a column from Bob Novak, who yesterday on this air said, "well, I can't tell you the circumstances under which I've been proceeding because my lawyer tells me I can't. When this case is over, I can." It's very puzzling as to why the reporter who -- or the columnist who originally broke the story doesn't appear to be a target of the independent council, while in Judith Miller's case -- of the "New York Times," she never even wrote about it.
And it's also murky because while there's no federal law that protects reporters, 49 of the 50 states have a so-called shield law that says: Look, under some circumstances, you don't have to reveal your sources. We're not talking about a case where, say a reporter knows where a child is being held by a kidnaper. I mean, nobody thinks reporters should be able to keep that secret -- I hope not.
But this is a murky case in addition to which you alluded to this, there are people who argued, back when it looked like the Bush administration officials might be the target of Mr. Fitzgerald, that it wasn't a crime at all to out, if you will, Valerie Plame because it doesn't fit the circumstances that the law was drawn up to cover. So, it's murky on five different areas, I think.
BLITZER: All right. We're just going to have to wait and see how this plays out. We should know by the middle of next week who, if anyone, among our colleagues is going to wind up going to jail.
GREENFIELD: Yes. Wolf? I've got to make one other thing -- the one thing nobody's talked about: This might be a decent case for a presidential pardon, which doesn't get the reporters of the hook legally in the future, but says, you know, this is the wrong circumstance under which to send two people to jail. I know that sounds a little odd, but I've been thinking about this and it strikes me that, that might not be the worst solution to this.
BLITZER: All right. I suspect, though, that some people could say if the president decided to pardon these journalists, he might be participating in some sort of cover up.
GREENFIELD: I'd like to see the press attack the president for protecting the press. That would be an interesting approach.
BLITZER: I don't think the press would attack, necessarily, the president, but others might. We'll watch to see if he accepts your recommendation, if it's necessary. Hopefully that won't be necessary. We don't want to see Judith Miller or Matt Cooper go to jail.
Jeff Greenfield, helping us with this story as well, thanks very much.
BLITZER: When we come back: Howard Beach hate crime: Racial tensions heating up in a New York neighborhood known for its past problems.
Claims and denials: Italy accusing the CIA of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric. There are new developments in this story and we have the details.
Fortress destroyed: Israeli police force extremists opposed to the pullout plan out of an abandoned hotel.
BLITZER: Welcome back. There's a political firestorm in Italy over allegations the CIA had a terror suspect kidnapped in Milan and sent to Egypt where he was supposedly tortured. The Italian government is denying claims it signed off on the plan. Our Rome bureau chief Alessio Vinci has the story.
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): According to Italian authorities, when he was kidnapped in broad daylight two years ago, the Egyptian born cleric known as Abu Omar was walking down this street in Milan on his way to the nearby mosque. He was a long-time terrorist suspect and was under surveillance by Italian police.
ANDREA MERGELLETTI, TERRORISM EXPERT: The Italian national police, but also many intelligence services from Europe and the U.S. consider him important assets of radicalism in Europe and in Italy as well.
VINCI: Italian prosecutors believe the CIA organized his abduction. And in court documents obtained by CNN, it is asserted the suspect was first driven to an air base in Northern Italy, then transferred to Egypt where, according to same documents, he was interrogated and possibly tortured.
(on camera): The operation as claimed by Italian prosecutors appears to have the hallmarks of what is known as extraordinary rendition, whereby U.S. agents seize a suspect and transfer him to a different country to be interrogated without court approval. (voice-over): Abdel Hamid Shari (ph) knew Abu Omar. He tells me that a year ago, Abu Omar was briefly released and put through a phone call to his wife in Italy.
In Egypt, he was kept locked up for many months, he says. Nobody knew anything. When he called us, he told us he had been tortured, that they treated him badly, that at the air base too, he was beaten. After that phone call, the Egyptian police arrested him again and put him in jail.
Abu Omar's whereabouts are currently not known.
An Italian judge last week issued 13 arrest warrants against the alleged CIA agents for what the warrants charge was their role in the cleric's disappearance. They are now considered fugitives under Italian law. Among those sought by Italian police, a former U.S. consul in Milan who investigators believe organized the operation.
Court documents obtained by CNN assert the operation was meticulously planned. Prosecutors claim cellphone records link the time and place of the 2003 kidnapping to the alleged agents who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at Milan's best hotels, rented cars and paid bills with credit cards. A source close to the investigation says that would appear to indicate they behaved as if they were not concerned about being spotted.
But Italian government officials deny Italy had prior knowledge of the alleged CIA operation, and have summoned the U.S. ambassador in Rome to explain.
It cannot be hypothesized that such an operation would have been authorized, he said, nor that any Italian agencies would have been involved.
U.S. sources, however, tell CNN the CIA in fact, did obtain permission from Italian intelligence.
Alessio Vinci, CNN, Rome.
BLITZER: Now let's get some more perspective on this story. Our national security correspondent David Ensor has been looking into it. What are you hearing, David? What are you finding out?
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATION SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, the CIA has absolutely no comment on or off the record about this story and nor does the White House. But knowledgeable U.S. sources say that it is true that the CIA got prior authorization, permission from their counterparts in Italy and the intelligence services there prior to conducting this rendition.
Now, the sources also say that the agreement was, as it usually is with renditions, that in the event that this became public, neither service would comment on it. It was even possible they might deny it. BLITZER: And so the Italian intelligence service doesn't even tell the magistrate, the judicial branch, if you will, of the Italian government don't indict these CIA guys, because this was part of a joint Italian-American espionage, intelligence operation?
ENSOR: My understanding is there's very little cooperation between the judicial side in Itay and the intelligence side. And Italian law makes quite clear that they're prepared to indict their own intelligence officers if they believe they've broken Italian law.
In this case, it may have been Americans, but the Americans sources I'm talking to are saying the Americans had authorization from the Italians.
BLITZER: It would be shocking if they didn't, given the close collaboration between the Italian intelligence service and the CIA. A long history of cooperation there. Friendly countries, both NATO allies. David Ensor, thanks very much for that assessment.
They called it their fortress of the sea. But hardline protesters opposed to Israel's plan pull out from Gaza, lost their fortress today. Israeli troops forcibly removed the protesters from the Former Gaza Beach Hotel. And the Army later announced the Jewish settlements in Gaza are now a closed military zone, off limits to most Israelis. The government plans to evacuate the Gaza settlements and a hand full of West Bank settlements in mid-August.
Racial tensions renewed in a New York neighborhood that's had major problems in the past. We'll tell you what's happened this time. Mary Snow standing by.
Protecting personal property: Republicans and Democrats teaming up against the United States Supreme Court ruling on what's called eminent domain.
Rocking for a cause: Musicians rallying millions of people around the world. We'll tell you what's happening.
BLITZER: A white New Yorker has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly attacking a black man in a section of New York that has a history of racial tensions. Our Mary Snow is standing by with details in New York -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, New York Police say this incident involved six men. Three are white, and are now in police custody. Three are black and one is in the intensive care unit.
SNOW (voice-over): Police say 23-year-old Glenn Moore seen here in his military uniform had his skull fractured after a white man beat him with an aluminum bat. They've charged 21-year-old Nicholas Minucci with assault and robbery as a hate crime. MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: This is a city that has learned that we are here together and we are going to live together. We have zero tolerance for anybody that engages in this kind of conduct, period.
SNOW: Police say Moore was with two friends who later admitted they were in the neighborhood looking to steal a car. The criminal complaint alleges Minucci confronted them. It says Moore's two friends fled. And Minucci was then joined by another man who said, this is what you get when you try to rob white boys. And then used a racial slur.
REV. AL SHARPTON, ACTIVIST: There was no reason for racial language and racist attacks to be used. This was a hate crime.
SNOW: New York activist the Reverend Al Sharpton visited the victim at the hospital and condemned the attack, an attack that evokes reminders of an ugly chapter in this city's history, but under very different circumstances.
In 1986, Michael Griffith, a 23-year-old black man, was chased out of a pizzeria by a group of white men, and he was killed by a passing car. It sparked racial tensions.
Nearly two decades later at that same pizzeria, most residents of this predominantly white neighborhood did not want to talk on camera, resentful of being back in the spotlight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought things have, like, changed over here, you know. So I'm kind of surprised, actually, that something like that happened, you know, honestly, because I'm over here all the time and I've never had anyone approach me, I never had a problem at all.
SNOW: Others, like this 21-year-old man who only wanted to use his first name, says the neighborhood is not racially biased.
JOHN, HOWARD BEACH RESIDENT: No one goes around looking to beat up black people. These kids were wrong. They were robbing cars, they were bad kids.
SNOW: In a city that is known for being a melting pot, some say that doesn't necessarily mean everyone lives side by side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New York City is still by and large a segregated city. The housing patterns are segregated. For example, on Howard Beach, you have very few black folk living in Howard Beach, which is an overwhelmingly Caucasian community.
SNOW: And for a man who's worked to prevent hate crimes in neighborhoods like Howard Beach, this kind of attack is a big concern.
SNOW: The attorney for the suspect who was arraigned today was not immediately available for comment. New York City's police department says last year, it had 133 reported cases of bias attacks, but, it says, it is very rare that those attacks result in physical injury -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Mary Snow in New York, thanks for that report.
There's also news about a confrontation in the baseball world involving Texas Rangers star pitcher Kenny Rogers. It occurred before last night's game as television crews were taking these pictures. Take a look. Rogers, who apparently didn't want his picture taken, shoved one of the photographers, then approached another photographer, grabbed his camera, threw it to the ground and kicked it. One of the photographers was taken to the hospital. He's filed a complaint with police. Rangers officials say Rogers is, quote, "having anger issues," unquote.
Eminent domain backlash. Conservatives and liberals joining forces against the recent Supreme Court ruling that allows the government to seize private property. Our Tom Foreman standing by with details.
Aid to Africa. Free concerts around the world aimed at raising awareness among the masses. Coming up, I'll speak with one of the main musicians involved. My interview with Sir Bob Geldof. That's coming up.
BLITZER: It's a go for launch. NASA is planning a July 13th launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, the first since the Columbia disaster more than two years ago. Discovery will carry seven astronauts to the International Space Station, along with the replacement parts and supplies.
Angry reaction from U.S. House and Senate Republicans to a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision on what's called eminent domain, with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay saying, and I'm quoting now, "the court has finally gone too far." But DeLay and his allies have a plan to fight right back. CNN's Tom Foreman joining us here in Washington. He has details -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this decision on property rights by the Supreme Court stunned people. To find out that their property could be taken from them with the court's blessing. It has ignored what -- ignited what appears to be an enormous backlash in this country right now. People saying they can't believe it, and the issue has just taken off.
FOREMAN (voice-over): As homeowners nationwide react furiously to the Supreme Court ruling to let governments seize houses for private economic development, a California entrepreneur is making the fight personal. He asked the town of Weare, New Hampshire to let him build a hotel right where Justice David Souter's house is. Logan Darrow Clements says he's received 400,000 hits on his Web site, 400 phone calls and 5,000 e-mails.
LOGAN DARROW CLEMENTS, DEVELOPER: All 100 percent overwhelmingly enthusiastic. In just one of those e-mails, for example, a man offered $1 million towards the project. So this is a real project, and it's really going to go forward.
FOREMAN: In Washington, Congress is lashing out, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe this is an assault on our entire Constitution.
FOREMAN: Announcing plans for legislation to strip federal funding from any local government that takes a home this way.
REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R), WISCONSIN: What all of us who wish to see this legislation enacted into law want to make sure happens is that the federal government's money will not be used to finance taking somebody's property from them to build a strip mall or a hotel or something simply because more tax revenue will come in.
FOREMAN: Governments have long been able to forcibly buy private property to make way for highways, schools -- the public good. This ruling expands that power to let homes be taken for economic development -- a new mall, a restaurant, even higher priced houses.
(on camera): Supporters of this ruling, like the National League of Cities, say it will allow economically depressed areas to be revitalized, no longer held up by, say, a lone homeowner who just doesn't want a golf course in the neighborhood.
(voice-over): But many conservatives and liberals are joining forces to say the ruling is anti-community, anti-family, anti-values.
ROBERT KNIGHT, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA: A man's home is his castle in America, or at least it has been up until now. Now it's your castle only if you're deemed economically viable for whatever government entity.
FOREMAN: In vowing to fight the ruling, the governor of Georgia said this is a kitchen table issue. Americans want to make sure they can keep the kitchen their table is in.
FOREMAN: I think this is the biggest story in Washington right now, even if Washington doesn't know it. That proposed legislation to cut federal funding if local governments take houses, U.S. representatives passed an amendment to that effect today. The bottom line for many lawmakers, not everyone cares about Iraq all the time, or presidential polls, but everyone lives somewhere and they're not ready to let the fat lady sing on this issue -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I think you may be right. Tom Foreman, we'll watch this story together with you, and you'll be in the forefront of covering it for us. Tom Foreman here in Washington. When we come back, Live 8. Two million people attending concerts around the world to focus attention on Africa. Coming up, I'll speak with a musician, an activist, Sir Bob Geldof. That's coming up next.
BLITZER: Aid to Africa will be one of the focal points of the G- 8 Summit that convenes in Scotland next week. President Bush, today, got a jump-start unveiling a three-part plan to increase U.S. aid to Africa. He also blunted some of the criticism of the country's overall aid spending in Africa which is proportionately smaller than other leading nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has tripled overseas development aid to Africa during my presidency. And we're making a strong commitment for the future. Between 2004 and 2010, I propose to double aid to Africa once again. With a primary focus on helping reforming countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president is also calling for $400 million to promote education for girls, $55 million dollars to improve legal protections for women against violence and sexual abuse, and more than $1 billion to cut malaria deaths in half by 2010.
Aid to Africa is also the focus of the Live 8 concerts this Saturday: 150 bands will take part in ten concerts around the world, all calling on the G-8 leaders to double aid, cancel debts and increase trade with Africa. A little while ago, I spoke with the man behind Live 8 and it's predecessors. Sir Bob Geldof joined us from London.
BLITZER: Sir Bob Geldof, once again, thanks very much for joining us. Thanks for your important good work.
Explain to our viewers why you're doing this now after, what, 20 years.
SIR BOB GELDOF, MUSICIAN: Because in the 20 years I have been doing it, the world has changed, Wolf. I mean, when the Cold War fell apart, there was a new political fluidity in the planet and a time of great political opportunity. So, instead of dealing with charity, the impulse of one individual human to help another, we could deal with the structures of poverty.
And we're seeing -- we're coming to sort of the end game of that now. We can't afford to have one constant drift away from us. The only constant in economic decline is Africa and we can get to the root of that and we can stop people dying, live on our screens every night on CNN, if we really solve this. And I think we're almost there with this G-8 conference. We're not going to stop the dying immediately, but we are dealing with the roots of that poverty and that has to stop.
BLITZER: Here's one of the problems that one of your colleagues from the original concert 20 years ago, Ken Kragen, said in an interview the other day. He said, "Compassion fatigue is very real. We reached that point in the mid-'80s when we were inundated with images of all kinds of tragic things. It gets harder and harder to do these things and only rarely do you find that kind of outpouring anymore."
Do you agree with him on that?
GELDOF: No, I don't, because he's talking about charity, which is the compassionate impulse of a human to help another one. We're dealing with political structures that needs to be adjusted. In effect, what you're looking at is the change from the world that was constructed after the second world war and all its institutions: The farm bill, problems in America with trade and cotton and sugar, with the common agricultural policy in Europe, with wheat, with questions of the IMF and the World Bank, the structure of the European Union, the U.N. itself, all these things that were formed to make a better world, to feed Europe, to take it out of bankruptcy and starvation with help from America is what we're suggesting should happen to Africa.
It worked: Europe is the richest continent on the planet now. We need to prepare the world for a newer way of behaving where India and Brazil and China are coming up and we have to negotiate with them.
But meanwhile, we have to deal with the continent of children -- of teenagers really, 50 percent of all Africa is under 16. And you know, every night, those people go to bed hungry. That's ridiculous, in a world of surplus. So, that's what we're doing. Ken keeps talking about charity and compassion, which we must have and we must have all the time, but then again, I point you to the tsunami outpouring, compassion fatigue? It was magnificent. But today, we're talking about politics.
BLITZER: Here's what your colleague Bono is quoted as saying in the new issue of "Time" magazine. He said, "The most important and toughest nut is still President Bush." Do you agree with Bono on that?
GELDOF: Yes. I do, because we can't move without America. I mean, you know, and it is the dominant economy on the planet. I don't think President Bush is a tough nut on this issue. We just have to get him to move along. And frankly, today's speech was absolutely the right language.
I think he's given voice to a potential new American, you know, goal. A sort of -- his language on malaria, which kills more than AIDs in Africa and AIDs is all over the continent, is sort of heroic venture: We will pay for this. I wish he had done the same with education, which is something his wife is very interested, Condoleezza Rice is very interested in; every girl in school. He needs to put money behind that. But he's -- his language is a doubling of aid to Africa. This is the first time we've heard this sort of language. Coming to the Gleneagles G-8 Summit, this is very, very positive indeed.
BLITZER: He also made the important point that the Africans have to also start helping themselves. He was pretty firm on that.
BLITZER: You agree with him on that?
GELDOF: I totally agree with him, but how can you help yourself if you don't have the means at your disposal? So, what we had to do and which happened again -- you know, if you ask Bono or me, we say the same thing. If you had told us four months ago there would be a result in London, from the G-7 finance ministers, of a hundred percent cancellation of debt for the world's poorest countries, we would have said it's not going to happen.
If you'd had said two weeks ago, the Europeans are going to cancel -- are going to double aid and then, within two weeks the American president will denounce a doubling of aid, so we arrive at the goal we set with the Commission for Africa of a doubling of aid for Africa of $25 billion by 2010 -- we're almost there, Wolf. We're within $2 billion.
And I think we can knock that off in Gleneagles. If that happens -- frankly, I'm a bit dismayed. I've just been on the phone with Bono and we're sort of going: You know, Is this happening? Live 8, the concert in Philadelphia and the other eight cities around the world on Saturday, is actually the final push now. It's no longer the startup engine I thought it was going to have to be. It's the final push to this G-8 Summit.
BLITZER: Well, Sir Bob Geldof, as usual, thanks for your important good work. Good luck, with the concerts over the weekend. Good luck, with all your efforts.
GELDOF: Thanks, Wolf. Pleasure, again.
BLITZER: That's it for me. "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now.
Lou's standing by in New York -- Lou?
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