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Former 9/11 Commission Members Issue Report Card; United States Waiting on Confirmation of al Qaeda Leader Death; Saddam Hussein Trial Witness Details Alleged Torture and Murder; Ramsey Clark on Saddam Hussein
Aired December 5, 2005 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, CNN's security analyst Richard Falkenrath joins me now to talk about the details from this report card, and the implications for national security.
Great to see you Richard.
RICHARD FALKENRATH, SECURITY ANALYST: Hi, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Well, why don't we start with what Lee Hamilton said about first responders. It's pretty amazing, all these years later, to think that's still an issue. But I guess it was no surprise when we saw what happened in New Orleans, right?
FALKENRATH: Yes, that's right. It's really no surprise.
And I think the -- the former commissioners are doing a good service here by calling attention to this issue and calling for Congress to move more swiftly on it.
There's really two aspects of this problem. The first is a bandwidth issue, which is a bill that stalled in the Congress to give a certain portion of the -- of the federal -- of the spectrum to first-responders. The other part are, basically, standards for interoperability of communication equipment that state and local agencies buy.
And the federal government hasn't set those standards. And state and local agencies still can, and do, spend the money they receive on communication systems that are not interoperable.
PHILLIPS: So, then, is this the type of thing where various individuals are going to come out and say it's still a problem, you and I are going to talk about it, and then...
PHILLIPS: ... we talk about how certain bills are stalled in Congress, and then nothing happens? Or do you feel that something is going on right now, with this coming to light again, to get this bandwidth issue that is stalled in Congress dealt with, and also to get the right departments to buy the equipment they need to get on track?
FALKENRATH: I think the bandwidth issue will be taken care of. They -- they will pass this bill and there will be a portion of the spectrum reserved for the first-responders.
The issue of interoperable communications is a horder one. The federal government has been working it for a long time. They need to keep working it. But, really, it gets down to a problem of, when you give money to a state and local agency, you have to trust them to spend it in -- in the way that makes sense for the whole country. So far, the federal government has been shy about setting really tough conditions.
And I -- I believe they should set those conditions. But, politically, it's not very popular with governors and mayors.
PHILLIPS: All right, Lee Hamilton also talked about issues with the TSA, and when we have been flying on airplanes, and have improvements been made or not.
Let's listen to what Lee Hamilton said and talk about that in a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAMILTON: I worry more about the explosives in the cargo than I do about matters that -- items that may be brought upon the airplane itself. I don't really make a judgment about the scissors, because I don't know that much about them, although, I must say, I have some, I guess, kind of skepticism about it.
But I think the major focus should be on stopping containers getting into the cargo hold of an airplane that might have explosives, and, therefore, you have to accelerate -- greatly accelerate -- detection equipment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Now, we're hearing Lee Hamilton talk about this. But, Rich, as you will know, our Drew Griffin, our investigative reporter here at CNN, broke this story months and months ago, actually caught -- had videotape of the cargo not being screened, and saying, look, it's very possible explosives could be put into this cargo and we would never know it as we boarded the plane. What's being done?
FALKENRATH: Well, that -- that's right, Kyra.
They're -- the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration is working on a regulation that will govern air cargo, the packages that go underneath the passengers on airplanes. Basically, it will be a kind of -- a know-your-shipper scenario, with some inspection of some cargo that's believed to be high risk.
It's a very expensive proposition. The federal government doesn't really want to create a new bureaucracy to do it itself. The industry doesn't really want to have to bear that burden either. And there is, as yet, no statutory requirement to do this.
There's a statutory requirement to screen people getting on planes and their check bags. But nowhere in the law is it required that the federal government screen check -- screen air cargo. And that really is the sort of heart of the problem. Who bears the cost, and how much security do you really want over this particular vulnerability?
PHILLIPS: CNN security analyst Richard Falkenrath, I know we will be talking many more times on this issue. Thanks, Richard.
FALKENRATH: Thanks, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Well, two days after Pakistan made it official, we're still awaiting U.S. confirmation that one of al Qaeda's top leaders has been killed. Pakistani officials said that, Saturday, al Qaeda operations chief, Abu Hamza Rabia, was killed in a house explosion in northwestern Pakistan.
Here's how President Bush's national security adviser responded to that yesterday on CNN's "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER")
STEPHEN L. HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We have seen the reports out of Pakistan. We are looking at it. We are not in a position at this point to publicly declare that he has been killed. If he has been killed, it's a very good development. He was the chief operational planner for al Qaeda after the capture of Abu Faraj al- Libbi.
He was involved in planning assassination attempts against Musharraf. We believe he was involved in planning attacks against the United States. If he is indeed dead, it's a very good thing for Pakistan and for the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Of course, CNN's Jamie McIntyre on the story.
Jamie, what the Pentagon saying about Rabia's apparent death? And why is he so significant in this terror fight, in addition to what we heard from Hadley?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they are saying is that they do believe he's dead.
There were a lot of smiles here at Pentagon, particularly on Saturday, when this was announced. The actual attack, if it was an attack, took place earlier in the week, on Wednesday. And, of course, all of the speculation, reporting, and some indications from Pakistan, is that this was the result from a missile strike from a U.S. Predator spy drone equipped which a Hellfire missile.
And that is something that nobody in Washington is confirming, simply because of the sensitivity involved in the U.S. working very closely with the Pakistani authorities. But one is denying it either. And when you ask about -- officials about it, they just get sort of a very sheepish look on their face and just say, it -- it's not something they can talk about.
They make a point of saying here at Pentagon, it wasn't a U.S. military operation -- stress on the military -- again, hinting that it was a CIA operation. But they do say that he was a significant person in the chain of command in the al Qaeda organization. And they -- they do believe the reports are accurate that he was killed.
And they say, it is significant, because, as -- as the reasons they have stated, among which was that, as you heard from Stephen Hadley, this man is also suspected of plotting assassination attempts against the Pakistan president, Pervez Musharraf. So, both Pakistani and U.S. officials seem to be happy that he's come to an untimely demise.
PHILLIPS: From the Pentagon, Jamie McIntyre -- thanks, Jamie.
And stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.
Well, the lead judge lays down the law to Saddam Hussein. But if you think that's the final word, you haven't seen much of the crimes- against-humanity trial of the former Iraqi dictate and seven of his former aides and cohorts. It was a trying day, indeed, beginning with a defense-team walkout, a judge's reversal, then an impassioned appeal for better security for lawyers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAMSEY CLARK, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today, there is in place for the court, for the prosecution and for the prosecution witnesses, as far as we can tell, significant protection. There is virtually no protection for the nine Iraqi lawyers and their families, who are heroically here to try to defend truth and justice in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: That's Ramsey Clark, by the way. As you know, we have been talking about him, former attorney general here in the United States that's been supporting Saddam Hussein's defense team.
The trial's first living witness also gave a firsthand account of killings and torture that allegedly followed an attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein in the town of Dujail in the early 1980s.
CNN's Aneesh Raman picks the story up from there.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In court Monday, the first witness, appearing defiant, testifying in front of Saddam Hussein. In Dujail, his brother, Ali Hayderi, told us about the day that defines both their lives, the day Saddam came to visit their village.
ALI HAYDERI, BROTHER OF WITNESS (through translator): We were a farming family with middle income, made of 11 sons and five daughters. That day, we heard people chanting and shouting.
RAMAN: That day was July 8, 1982. Saddam's motorcade drove into the Shiite village of Dujail. Ali was 14 at the time, part of the crowd chanting orchestrated allegiance. But allegiance was something not all in Dujail felt.
HAYDERI (through translator): didn't see my brother that morning, but others did. When he left, he was in a hurry.
RAMAN: Ali says his brother, Hassan (ph), was one of the six men planning to kill Saddam Hussein that day. But a key decision would hinder their efforts.
HAYDERI (through translator): I was told later someone wanted to attack Saddam with a hand grenade, but the rest did not approve. They were not aware that the cars were armored ones.
RAMAN: Instead, the group attacked with gunfire. Ali shows us where. Saddam escaped, and he says the dictator's revenge was immediate, some suspects allegedly executed within minutes. And thousands, including Ali and his family, say they were taken away, many to spend the next five years in prison.
HAYDERI (through translator): We were sent to Abu Ghraib prison. It was a time of suffering. We saw old people dying. They were beaten with metal pieces. Infants died in the prisons. They used to march us in front of the women and beat us.
RAMAN: But Ali says prison was just the start of the punishment. In 1986, he and the others who remained were released, returning home to a Dujail that had been destroyed, 149 residents gone, allegedly executed by Saddam's regime for their involvement in the assassination plot.
Ali had no idea if his brother Hassan (ph) was among them. It took 17 years for him to get the answer.
HAYDERI (through translator): After the regime fell, we found an order signed by Saddam to execute the young men of Dujail. It has some 149 people, including Hassan (ph), and my other brothers, and 118 people from Dujail.
RAMAN: And now decades after that defining day, Ali watched with his family, we're told, as his brother testified, watched with pride, as justice finally unfolded.
Aneesh Raman, Dujail, Iraq.
PHILLIPS: Well, fact or fiction online, it's a story that impacts everyone who has ever searched for information on the Internet. We are going to look at one popular online reference tool that's under the gun. Which site is it? Details just ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: Let's go straight to Chad Myers in the weather department.
We are talking tornado and snow.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.
PHILLIPS: My guess is, we're starting with tornado.
MYERS: We will start with tornado...
MYERS: ... because it's actually on the ground.
A trained weather spotter reported a tornado crossing into northwestern Clinch County a little bit ago. That's very close to Du Pont in Georgia, and not all that far from Homerville. At about 3:25, it will be near Homerville. We showed you the storm earlier near Valdosta. It's the same storm. It came across I-75. And there it is, that big red, big red box there, part of the tornado warning.
And it's moved across Valdosta, south of the Moody Air Force Base, and not all that far from Du Pont and into Homerville -- tornado warning, trained spotter seeing it on the ground.
What you're seeing on the ground farther north is the snow. In fact, from D.C., almost on to Richmond and Hanover and Henrico County seeing snow now -- it looks like about Goochland, even Short Pump seeing some snow on the ground.
We have a live shot from Washington, D.C., seeing the snow there. And -- and I lived in D.C., working for the Weather Service, long enough to know it only takes an inch or two and that just wrecks the beltway. Keep that in mind today. It's going to snow all night -- could be five inches of snow, Kyra, on the ground by tomorrow morning.
And I can't really tell where that is, but that is going to make a dreadful drive for everyone on the way home now. Now, if you can take some flex time and get out of there right now, that would be a good idea, because, as the days goes and as the afternoon goes on, traffic is going to come to a standstill.
PHILLIPS: Well, obviously, we...
MYERS: Back to you.
PHILLIPS: Well, we can see -- we can see the White House without any problem.
PHILLIPS: We're able to make that out.
But you're right. Right underneath that, probably not far from it...
PHILLIPS: Those live pictures coming from WJLA -- it's picking up steam, Yes?
MYERS: Yes. I -- I couldn't tell where that was. Was that all the way downtown? Or that may even be Silver Spring. Can't really quite tell where that is, because there's -- there's not much visibility to go there.
The reason why you can see the White House is because that camera is not far away from the White House either -- visibility down to about a half-a-mile. And we are going to see airplanes start to slow down as well -- Dulles seeing snow, BWI seeing snow now, and all the way down to Reagan National picking up the snow, although, as you get down into D.C. proper, Reagan not as cold as Dulles. That's way out in Virginia -- and BWI all the way out toward Baltimore.
So, it is definitely going to slow from here, 3:15 in the afternoon. By 5:15, traffic will be doing five miles an hour.
PHILLIPS: Wow. All right, Chad. Thanks.
MYERS: You're welcome.
PHILLIPS: We will keep checking in with you.
PHILLIPS: Well, thousands of cash-strapped hurricane victims are getting a reprieve from paying their mortgages. The Federal Housing Administration says it will make the payments for as many as 20,000 Hurricane Katrina, Wilma and Rita victims for as long as a year.
The program applies only to people who have FHA-insured mortgages, though. That money would come from insurance reserves. And, then, eventually, homeowners will have to pay that money back, but it will be interest-free.
Congress and the media are reviewing more than 1,000 documents from Louisiana's governor's office to the White House in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Some of those are e-mails -- or some of them are e-mails that show Governor Kathleen Blanco pleading for federal help before, during and after the storm.
CNN's Gary Nurenberg reports.
GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day-by-day account posted on the governor's Web site quotes Blanco on Saturday August 27th, predicting a severe storm, and writing the president, that -- quote -- "Federal assistance will be necessary."
By Monday the 29th, after Katrina struck, Blanco was telling the president in a phone call: "We need your help. We need everything you have got."
After a helicopter tour on Tuesday the 30th, Blanco complains about federal response. The narrative says, when the expected and promised federal resources have still not arrived on Wednesday, Blanco places an urgent morning call to the White House, but can't reach President Bush or his chief of staff. Later that day, she does talk to the president and stresses, "The situation is extremely grave."
By Friday, the frustration level rises. She writes the president that, quote, "Even if these initial requests had been fully honored, these assets would not be sufficient." She asks for firefighting support, military vehicles, generators, medical supplies and personnel and more.
Five days after one request to the White House for a shopping list of federal help, Blanco's staff gets a memo from a presidential aide, saying the president never got the letter -- quote -- "We found it on the governor's Web site, but we need an original for our staff secretary to formally process the requests."
Sunday evening, Blanco's aides told CNN that the governor personally handed the letter to the president. The White House said it hasn't read all the documents and is not yet in a position to toned.
Blanco said, in one memo, "I believe my biggest mistake was believing FEMA officials, who told me that the necessary federal resources would be available in a timely fashion."
(on camera): There is some politics here. One of the gubernatorial aides who told CNN Sunday evening that the governor personally handed that missing letter to the president also wrote in a memo after Katrina that the Bush administration is -- quote -- "working to make us the scapegoats" -- end quote.
Months after the hurricane, avoiding the blame is, for all sides, still very much a priority.
Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.
PHILLIPS: And, just before the holidays, hundreds of Hurricane Katrina victims are going back to work. The Domino sugary -- sugar refinery in New Orleans is set to reopen one week from today. That refinery is one of the largest producers of sugar in the country. It employed 330 workers right before Katrina. Close to 300 of those employees will be returning back.
We are going to take a quick break -- more LIVE FROM right after this.
PHILLIPS: President Bush challenged today to force American businesses to honor commitments that they have made to workers' pensions. In a speech on the economy at a manufacturing plant in Kernersville, North Carolina, Mr. Bush said that companies are underfunding retirement plans and are doing so legally. He outlined a plan to put a stop to the practice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Companies must accurately measure and report the financial status of their pension plans to make sure they're fulfilling the promises they make. This reform plan would give companies that underfund their pensions seven years to catch up. That seems reasonable to me.
We're going to give you a little time to do what you said you're going to do, but you're going to do what you said you're going to do.
Now, some in Congress have said this reform is too tough, or some may be on the outskirts of Congress have said the reform is too tough. And not only that; they want to weaken the current law even further. I believe that, if you put in your hours, your pension should be there for you when you retire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, Mr. Bush touched on a host of economic issues, from tax cuts to trade and health care costs. Recent polls show that, despite steady growth and low unemployment, most Americans question the president's stewardship of the U.S. economy.
Well, dropping more than a dime -- it's becoming less taxing to fill up your tank. Gas prices across the country dipped 11 cents in the past two weeks. Analysts say we could see some slight increases. But, for now, the average cost of a gallon of self-serve regular gas is $2.13. That's down 88 cents from the all-time high of $3,01 September 9.
Let's take a look at what crude oil prices are doing today.
Susan Lisovicz standing by live from the New York Stock Exchange.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that may be one reason why the gas prices may eventually go up, because crude is going up, Kyra.
Prices settled today, up 59 cents, just under $60 a barrel. And that is the highest level we have seen in a month. And, you know, one of the reasons why is that winter weather that Chad and you have and everybody has been talking about today in the Northeast could spike demand for home heating oil. And this, of course -- it's supply- demand is what drives prices for oil -- high energy costs, a big concern for investors, because they can cut into consumer spending, which is critical during this holiday season, as well as corporate profits. Let's take a look at Big Board -- right now, the Dow industrials down 44 points, the Nasdaq off 16 points, or about three-quarters-of- a-percent.
Verizon, one of the Dow 30 stocks, one of those in focus today, it may be looking to sell or spin off its core phone book business, as it focuses on wireless high-speed data and corporate customers. "The Wall Street Journal" puts a price tag on that business of more than $17 billion.
And potential bidding war could be unfolding for Guidant -- Boston scientific making a $25 billion offer for the medical device- maker, topping a recently lowered bid from Johnson & Johnson by more than $3 billion -- Guidant shares soaring on the news, up right now nearly 10 percent.
And that's the latest from Wall Street. LIVE FROM continues right after this.
PHILLIPS: Online and under fire -- Web resource Wikipedia is an Internet encyclopedia that anyone can use. The problem is, anyone can contribute to it also. That's raising concerns about where the facts are coming from and if the facts are indeed facts.
Journalist John Seigenthaler says that a malicious false biography was published about him on Wikipedia. He's joining us live from Nashville, Tennessee. And Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales defends his site, saying it's accountable, but he's also making some changes.
He joins us from Saint Petersburg, Florida.
Guys, great to see you both.
JOHN SEIGENTHALER, JOURNALIST: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: All right.
JIMMY WALES, FOUNDER, WIKIPEDIA.ORG: Thanks. Good to be here.
PHILLIPS: Well, John, you -- you have logged on to this site.
You wanted to see what it had to say about you. What did you discover about yourself?
SEIGENTHALER: Well, I was stunned and shocked and angry to find that Wikipedia, for months, had listed me as a suspect in the assassination of both President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
And I had worked in the Kennedy -- Kennedy administration, had been the assistant to Robert Kennedy. And I was offended by it and angered by it. And I did what I could to find out about it. Then I found out I was on two other sites. And I read just recently on Wikipedia that I probably am on dozens of other sites, too, that same biography.
Mr. Wales was very cooperative in taking it down when I reached finally him five months later. But I -- I still don't know whether it's on those mirror sites.
PHILLIPS: Well, we -- we did -- we did log on a few minutes ago, and it's been blocked.
And -- and, Jimmy, when you got this call from John, I -- I am assuming it's not the first time you have had someone call you with concerns about information that's on this site. What did you say to him about this information, because, obviously, it wasn't true?
JIMMY WALES, FOUNDER, WIKIPEDIA.COM: Oh, yes.
Well, our response was immediately to delete it and start looking into it, and delete all the old revisions that had that information in it. We are just as upset as he is and feel that there's a -- there's a big problem with people, Internet service providers who aren't accountable. They -- they won't -- they won't do anything about malicious customers who abuse our service. So, we're left to defend ourselves as best we can.
PHILLIPS: Now, you do have a general disclaimer on the site. It says: "Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. None of the authors, contributors, or anyone else connected with Wikipedia in any way whatsoever can be responsible for the appearance of any inaccurate or libelous information."
Now, you know, you see the word Wikipedia, so you think encyclopedia, and you think, "Oh, OK, this is valid, good information." But yet if you look at what happened to John, that's not the case. What are you doing to make sure this doesn't happen to people like John Seigenthaler, who has an incredible reputation and was far from associated to any type of assassination attempt on JFK?
WALES: Yes, John, he's really a hero to us, too, because he's done a lot of work for the First Amendment over the years, and that's one of the things that's so upsetting about this.
First of all, our disclaimer is really patterned after the disclaimers that you'll find on any Web site. If you go to Britannica and read their disclaimer, or "The New York Times" and read their disclaimer, it's a very standard type of disclaimer that you have on any Web site. But what we're doing is, we're -- we've just today, we've actually changed the site a little bit so that anonymous contributors aren't able to start new articles.
We feel what really happened in this case was that the article was started and made it -- it basically slipped through our new pages patrollers and didn't get caught until we were notified months later.
WALES: We're trying to...
PHILLIPS: ... I'm sorry, go ahead.
WALES: Go ahead.
PHILLIPS: Go ahead, Jimmy.
WALES: No we're just trying to make some minor adjustments here and there to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.
PHILLIPS: John, do you think that Wikipedia is a good idea or is this a dangerous trend?
SEIGENTHALER: Well, I don't know enough about it really to tell you, that I've learned a great deal in the recent past. And one thing I'm not interested in in any way is giving the government more power to regulate any form of media -- new media, old media.
I've always thought the best answer to bad speech was better speech. And I hope the column I wrote in "USA Today" was a better speech than what I found on Wikipedia. The problem that I think is that first of all, the disclaimer, if you read it says, we're not accountable.
There's no other way to explain what that disclaimer says. We're not accountable. And with accountability comes credibility, you know? Now Wikipedia is not accountable. Ultimately the marketplace will take care of Wikipedia. I'm concerned, deeply concerned about the fact that in the five days since I wrote the article in "USA Today," in those five days, they created a new biography and there was some harmless error, still is some harmless error in what's logged.
PHILLIPS: What's the error? What's the error that's still in there, John?
SEIGENTHALER: Well, it's inconsequential. There are a couple of places they mixed up my son John's name with mine. But I don't worry about that. What I do worry deeply about is the fact that during those five days, some vandals came online, contributed to that biography of encyclopedia, that biography of me, and it was -- I'll tell you, it was salacious, homophobic. It even took me from the position of being a suspected murder to being a murderer. And all of that can be found by any school child that knows how to work Wikipedia in the history today. It there. And you know...
PHILLIPS: ... Jimmy it sounds like such an abuse of power. I mean, where do you get the -- why not screen the individuals that contribute to this, or have some sort of controls of how this information is put together?
WALES: Well, what we do is, we lock pages that are particularly prominent. So we've got his page in particular, is on the watch list now, of dozens of really good editors.
The revisions he's concerned about have already been removed from the site. They're not even in the history anymore. And of course the article is protected right now since we're on television. Lots people would log on and try to do some pranks at the moment. But generally we find most people out there on the Internet are good. I mean, it's one of the wonderful humanitarian discoveries in Wikipedia, is that most people only want to help us and bill this free nonprofit, charitable resource. And so the problems we have are relatively minor. And so locking the entire site down doesn't seem like a solution. So what we try to do is, we -- yes?
SEIGENTHALER: Could I just ask, Jimmy, with all respect, the day before yesterday, a fellow put on the Web site three times, your editor's reverted it, which means they put it in history, where it can be found. He said 20 times, more than 20 times: he killed Kennedy, he killed Kennedy.
He said it over again and then concluded with the words, "murdering expletive." And that's in the history, as of right now. I think. It was there this morning.
WALES: Yes. There was some cleanup that went on this morning.
PHILLIPS: Jimmy, what's interesting, too -- but what's interesting too, is you know, John's a big name. He can write an article and create a discussion, like we're having right now, because of who he is and his reputation.
I mean there are so many people that don't have the opportunity to do that. And so their names and reputation can be on the line there. I have to say, my producer's, we even logged on, I ran my name. I was shocked to see what was under my name. I was pretty disappointed.
I saw that my bio was on there, which of course comes from CNN. But then there was stuff about how liberals -- I'm accused by liberals of showing right-wing bias, and then it links onto other blogs with a bias, and I look like a right-wing commie, if you were to look at my name on this Wikipedia site.
And I'm telling you right now, Jimmy, that's not how I want people to see me and understand me. And what I'm about and what I write about in my interviews, et cetera. So, you know, it's not just individuals like John, but me and many other people, that just have concerns that this is creating gossip that can be very harmful. And people go to these sites thinking that this is the truth.
WALES: Well, I mean, I think the real key is that the site matures over time, the -- all of the articles are edited over and over and over, and improved. Anyone's free to contribute. You're free to go and contribute. And we are very, very responsive to complaints and concerns.
All you have to do is click on the discussion page and add a note saying: hey, this isn't right, can you fix it? And a group of editors will look at it and make a change. I don't think that's something you can say for most public Internet forums.
I mean, these kinds of problems exist on any sort of open discussion. As long as you've got the general public commenting on mailing lists, message boards, all of these kind of things. I'm sure you can find mailing lists about the CNN that accuse you of all kind of things as well. The difference here is, you can actually correct it.
SEIGENTHALER: Let me...
WALES: There's actually a method and a community to fix it.
PHILLIPS: Go ahead, John.
SEIGENTHALER: ... can I just say, where I'm worried about this leading. Next year we go into an election year. Every politician is going to find himself or herself subjected to the same sort of outrageous commentary that hit me, and hits others.
I'm afraid we're going to get regulated media as a result of that. And I -- I tell you, I think if you can't fix it, both fix the history as well as the biography pages, I think it's going to be in real trouble, and we're going to have to be fighting to keep the government from regulating you.
PHILLIPS: John, do you have fact checkers? Have you hired people that you trust that are smart that do their research and constantly check up on everything that goes into your Web site?
SEIGENTHALER: That's for Jimmy.
PHILLIPS: I'm sorry, Jimmy. I'm sorry.
WALES: Well, we're an all-volunteer effort. So the answer to that question, the part about have we hired people, the answer is no. We're thousands of volunteers. But do we have people? Yes, absolutely. We have administrators who are constantly monitoring the site. We have tools for locking pages. So for example, if you know the kind of case he's talking about, if a politician's page come under attack, which wouldn't be all that surprising, we can temporarily protect the page, we can block the vandals. We can delete revisions from the revision history if they're particularly bad in some way.
SEIGENTHALER: But if you don't find out about it...
WALES: We are have a lot of tools to deal with this.
SEIGENTHALER: ... if you don't find out about it for four or five months, you know, the election's going to be over. Mine was up there for more than four months, and I didn't know it. Nobody knew it. I would have called you the day I found out, if I had known how to get in touch with you. And you responded -- you responded very quickly.
PHILLIPS: Well, I'll tell you what gentleman, why don't we continue this conversation after the election. Should we do that? John, what do you think? Jimmy?
SEIGENTHALER: That will be fine. PHILLIPS: John Seigenthaler and Jimmy Wales, thank you so much. Interesting discussion. I'll be interested to see how many hits Wikipedia gets today. But we'll continue the conversation. I appreciate both of your input. Thank you very much.
SEIGENTHALER: Thank you very much. Thank you.
WALES: Very good, thank you.
PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, an American in Iraq defending Saddam Hussein. The LIVE FROM interview with Ramsey Clark, coming up next.
PHILLIPS: What does Saddam Hussein have in common with Muammar Qadafi or Slobodan Milosevic or David Koresh? All at one time or another have been on the bad side of the United States government and all at one time or another have enjoyed the expertise of Ramsey Clark, one-time attorney general of the United States.
Over the decades, Clark's causes and defendants have offended many people at home and abroad. But he overrules those objections as I found out in an interview in our previous hour of LIVE FROM.
PHILLIPS: First of all, I want to ask you, why are you doing this?
CLARK: Well, I think the trial is of historic importance, and a fair trial is absolutely essential to truth and historic truth because we're talking about history. It's public justice. We're talking about a former head of government. And to me, most important of all, peace.
The desperate need in Iraq is reconciliation. And if this trial isn't seen as fair, it isn't fair, in fact, it will irreconcilably divide the country. It's bad enough now. But if it's unfair, it is going to create greater anger and greater violence. And the Iraqis have had too much of that.
PHILLIPS: Well, sir, as you can imagine, there are a number of people coming forward saying, look, this is typical Ramsey Clark. If you look at his causes, his clients, his allies, they've included people like Muammar Qadafi, Slobodan Milosevic, David Koresh, people that Americans sit back and think, wow, why would you ever want to support an individual like that? And now they see you, an American, a former leader in this country, supporting Saddam Hussein and thinking that you're very unpatriotic.
Do you -- what do you say to your critics?
CLARK: Well, I haven't heard directly from them, but I would say that you do in life what you believe is right. And I think that if you're going to have equal justice under law, it's the cases where people have been demonized, where they're hated and despised, that are most important, because that's what really testing your system's ability to provide a fair trial.
But in a case like this, involving Iraq, where I've spent a lot of my life over the last 10 or 15 years, it means peace itself. It means historic truth. And you can see how very difficult it is to hope for a fair trial.
I mean, just look at the passions in the country. Watch CNN any night and watch all the shooting and explosions and killing that's going on. And you put into that, if it's possible, an unfair trial, if you can complete it, if you can keep your defense lawyers alive.
One of my first goals is to try to get some protection for the defense lawyers. Two have been summarily executed. And you can't have a trial where that's the condition.
The court has protection. The prosecution has protection. The defense does not have protection, and they've got families here and they need protection. It really shouldn't go forward until you have protection.
But anyway, a fair trial is essential to everything I believe in.
PHILLIPS: And sir, you mentioned just a moment ago that you have told me you have not heard from your critics. Just within the last half-hour, I had a chance to talk with former secretary of defense Frank Gaffney, also Jack Valenti, who you know well, who work would Lyndon Johnson, as did you. And I asked them both about what you are doing.
This is what Jack Valenti had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK VALENTI, FMR. LBJ AIDE: I don't think anybody takes Ramsey seriously in this country, because you know whatever is the policy of any government, Democrat or Republican, Ramsey is going to be opposed to it. And after a while he debases the coin of credibility. He becomes more amusing than he is credible and a threat to anybody.
FRANK GAFFNEY, FMR. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I agree with that, Jack. But I would say...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: What do you think about that, sir, with regard to former colleagues of yours saying that you don't have any credibility?
CLARK: I didn't recognize the voice, so I'm spared perhaps someone unpleasant feelings about...
PHILLIPS: It's Jack Valenti, sir. It was Jack Valenti.
CLARK: But at least -- oh, Jack Valenti.
PHILLIPS: Yes, sir.
CLARK: All right. He was not in the Department of Defense. I thought you said Department of Defense.
PHILLIPS: He was side by side with Frank Gaffney.
CLARK: Well, at last he can't accuse me of being partisan if he says whether it's a Democratic or Republican administration.
I believe if you really love your country, you can't stand to see it doing something wrong. And you have every moral obligation to say so and to try to make it do right.
And I think our attack on Iraq was a war of aggression. It's a violation of the U.N. charter, and it's a supreme international crime, according to the Nuremberg Judgment. And those things matter to me.
PHILLIPS: Well, sir, let me ask you...
CLARK: It has caused enormous -- enormous suffering here and death.
PHILLIPS: Well, let me ask you, do you think Saddam Hussein should still be running that country? Should he still be in charge of Iraq?
CLARK: Well, I say this, I don't think George Bush has the right to decide that issue. You'll remember with Aristide in Haiti this last -- this last year, he said Aristide has to go. And look what's happened to Haiti. Just blood in the streets, 8,000 U.N. forces there trying to maintain the peace because George Bush said Aristide's got to go.
Well, we ought to take care of our own problems. We shouldn't try to change regimes as they like to do. How many are they trying -- are they threatening now with regime change?
The United States can be a positive force on earth, but it's militarism is going to destroy the spirit of America. We spend more on the military than the rest of the world combined. And that's a terrible tragedy for us and everybody else.
PHILLIPS: Sir, when is the last time you had the opportunity to speak to Saddam Hussein?
CLARK: Well, I was in court with him all day. And...
PHILLIPS: Did you talk with him?
CLARK: ... we spoke briefly. Yes, briefly. We didn't have a lot of time.
We had some time this morning before the court started -- started. The court started late.
Then yesterday I flew in. Yesterday was Sunday, and I flew in, and we spent about four hours out at his cell out near the airport.
PHILLIPS: What did you say to him? CLARK: If you're going to represent someone...
PHILLIPS: What did you say to him, Mr. Clark?
CLARK: ... you need to talk to him.
PHILLIPS: Sure, absolutely. What did you say to him? And what did he say to you?
CLARK: Well, four and a half hours, you got time for that?
PHILLIPS: I wish we did, because I'd sure love to know what took place in that conversation. Can you give me highlights?
CLARK: What a lawyer and clients talk about. I tried it tell him what I saw the important issues and strategies for the case.
First, we got to get protection for defense counselors or there's not going to be a defense. They all will get killed.
You already had two out of -- there were nine at the table today left, Iraqi defense lawyers, and another one wounded, and no protection. It's pretty dangerous. A lot of people don't like what they're doing. So, you've got to get that protection.
Then you've got to show whether this court is legal or not. The court was created by the United States. It was created under the Bremer administration here.
The United States doesn't have the power, the right to go to a foreign country and overthrow it and set up a court. War, by other means, to get its own enemies. Then you've got to determine whether it's possible for that court to be independent.
Who's paying for it? You know, how did it get there? Who chose it? How does it happen that the first investigative judge, chief investigative judge, is the nephew of Ahmed Chalabi, who is a CIA asset for years if not now, and who's a vowed enemy of the Saddam Hussein regime? What kind of fairness is that? What's the image of that?
And the United States was a part of that. So those are the things that have to be talked about and looked into. Thank you very much.
PHILLIPS: Well you can rely on them to get you where you want to go, of course, every single time. But when the worst happens can the car you drive keep you alive? The top safety picks are out. Ali Velshi checks out the winners and the losers with us, coming up.
PHILLIPS: Let's check in with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. He is standing by in "The Situation Room" in the plasma via our live signal.
Hi, Wolf. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Kyra. Thanks very much.
Coming up, the United States gets an F went it comes to spending on homeland security in most cities. That, according to a new report issued by the 9/11 Commission. Were there any passing grades? And are we ready for the next attack? We'll take a closer look.
And they're usually at odds, but Senator Hillary Clinton and the Republicans are on the same page when it comes to at least one hot topic. Find out what it is.
And we're keeping a close eye on the weather situation. There's a snowstorm blowing in just in time to collide with the evening commute along the East Coast.
That and much more all of it in "The Situation Room" -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Wolf.
We're talking the safest cars according to our Ali Velshi. He's been following the reports. That's right after a quick break.
PHILLIPS: Well, winter is almost here and that means it's wet and icy on those roads. Can you keep your car safe? What kind of car do you drive?
Ali Velshi joins us from New York with some surprising results, and we start talking the safest cars.
And what was this analogy you were saying? Were you the street smart kind of person or the book start kind of person?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was the street smart guy. I only studied if I thought that exam or test was going to show up and help me get into college or something like that.
PHILLIPS: So you were like a Volvo?
And Volvo's argument here--and I'll tell you about this. Volvo's argument is that they don't build their cars to beat safety tests. They build their cars to be overall safe vehicles for the occupants because real world crashes, they say, are more complicated than tests.
Now the tests we are talking about were done by the Insurance Institute. And they have come out with a ranking of cars for the first time that are deemed, you know, safe, and they call them good. A number of cars made their good list.
The top one, the gold award, for large cars was the Ford 500, which is twins with the Mercury Montego.
The silver went to the Audi A-6. In mid-sized cars the gold award to the Saab 9-3, that's what they call it now. Audi got that one, too. Smaller cars we got the Honda Civic four-door.
Now, the question on a lot of people's minds is why isn't Volvo up there because everybody always talks about how safe Volvo is.
In fact, I don't know if you've seen this, Kyra, this ad campaign that Ford has been running recently. This is William Ford, the great grandson of Henry Ford, and it says in the copy--Volvo is owned by Ford--engineers from Ford and our Volvo division working together on new safety strategies.
PHILLIPS: Wow, and it doesn't even get on the list.
PHILLIPS: Well, wait a minute. Well, then that makes you think that it's not doing well if they are working on strategies, right? Well, I guess you can take it both ways.
VELSHI: Well, Ford wants to benefit off of Volvo's reputation for safety, and people are saying well, why didn't Volvo get on the list? And we talked to our friends at "Consumer Reports," who said, they are safe cars. It is just that everything, you know--cars are safer these days. It's a bigger deal than it used to be.
Volvo maintains, we're not setting up for the test. We're just safe people generally.
Kyra, I think it's time for me to say goodbye to you.
PHILLIPS: I'll see you tomorrow, my dear.
VELSHI: Always a pleasure.
The Dow is closing 41 points lower to 10,836. Nasdaq is closing 15 points lower to 2,258.
Time to take it over to "The Situation Room." Wolf Blitzer is in Washington.
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