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PAULA ZAHN NOW

War in Iraq Making America Less Safe?; Bill Clinton Fights Back

Aired September 25, 2006 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Our "Top Story" is the explosive new leak that says the U.S. is making global terrorism worse not better, and it's all because of Iraq. According to a leaked government report, the U.S. has unintentionally turned Iraq into the number-one magnet for recruiting, training, and motivating Islam extremists.

The report apparently goes on to warn that Iraq is breeding new terrorists faster than the U.S. and its allies can stop them. That grim conclusion is from the government's very top intelligence analysts, and threatens to undercut the Bush administration's main issue heading into the midterm elections, the war on terror.

Our in-depth coverage starts with Kelli Arena.

So, Kelli, you have got the Republicans are saying there's nothing new in this report. Is it all that different from conclusions of other reports?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, you know, officials familiar with the entire report say that none of what is in this is shocking. That's not the intent. It's meant to be a comprehensive report at the global terror threat.

And, as one official described, it's sort of a summation of viewpoints. And different, yes, because it's talking about now. And what's causing all the fuss is that this portion on how the Iraq war is affecting the terror threat was leaked to the press just five weeks before the midterm elections, and -- shocking -- it's being used for political gain.

ZAHN: Oh, surprise, surprise.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: It is five months old, of course. Besides the president, who had access to it during that period of time?

ARENA: We're told that, generally, about 200 or so people get access to this report. It's very much on a need-to-know basis. And that includes members of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees -- Paula.

ZAHN: And now there's a move, is there not, to declassify the whole report?

ARENA: Well, that's right. There is -- there are calls, actually, from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, to declassify it.

We did hear from the White House, Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend, earlier, who said that there would be some difficulties in doing that, but there are some people on the Hill who say that they're negotiating right now to try to get at least some of this declassified.

These reports have been declassified before, not entirely, but there has been a public version made. We will see where that all ends up.

ZAHN: Kelli Arena, thanks so much.

ARENA: You're welcome.

ZAHN: Now, the midterm elections are just six weeks away, for those of you looking at a calender. Well, you don't need one, because I'm telling you. And that leaked intelligence report is already a hot political potato, as well as tonight's "Top Story" in the war on terror.

White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux continues our in-depth coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): White House officials are on the defensive and crying foul.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: It does not say that. It does not say that the war in Iraq has worsened the terror situation for the United States.

DAN BARTLETT, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT BUSH: And I think there were some characterizations made in the papers that I think leave a wrong impression.

MALVEAUX: Since the leaked parts of the national intelligence estimate are classified, top Bush administration officials said they could not talk about its contents. Instead, they took on their critics.

TOWNSEND: We ought to -- we ought to question the motives of the individual or individuals who leaked this. It was written in April. It is more than sort of a coincidence to me that we're now in almost October before a midterm election, and now once again we're seeing a leak of classified documents, and taken out of context, to make a political point.

MALVEAUX: Democrats are taking advantage of the opportunity to score political points that Mr. Bush's Iraq war plan is a failure. SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We know this is not working, and we know that it's creating, you know, very difficult problems for us down the road.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: The present course is doing more harm than good.

MALVEAUX: But the counselor to the president, Dan Bartlett, did thought hesitate to make a political point of his own.

BARTLETT: The reason why Democrats can't win any control of the Congress or the presidency is because one of the most central issues facing our country is national security. And they don't have a clue how to do it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: But, of course, convincing the American people that the Republicans know how to do it may be in jeopardy, if American voters believe that the intelligence community does not back the president's rhetoric.

And that's why, Paula, you see this push from Congress, even the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts, trying to push this White House to declassify that document, and as quickly as possible -- Paula.

ZAHN: White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, thanks so much, a member of the best political team in TV.

So, is the U.S. accomplishing what it set out to do in Iraq or just the opposite?

We put together a "Top Story" panel to get a reality check tonight.

Joining me from Boston is Jim Walsh, a terrorism expert with MIT, and, live from Baghdad, our own Michael Ware.

Glad to have both of you together tonight.

So, Jim, as the contents of this report were leaked, what surprised you most about its conclusion?

JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Well, Paula, I don't think it's new.

A lot of analysts, myself included, were warning that, even before the war in Iraq, if we went into Iraq, this would help al Qaeda; this would help the terrorists. It would help with recruitment, and more people would want to join the cause.

And Kelli is right. Intelligence officials have been offering these views for some time in testimony and speeches. What's news here, though, is that this is a national intelligence estimate. It's the most important intelligence document that the government produces. All 16 different agencies are agreeing, and they're saying that we are less safe today than we were three years ago, and against the number-one threat we face, which is terrorism. And, so, it goes straight to the heart of the -- of the president's claims on what is his most important issue. So, it's certainly newsworthy in that regard.

ZAHN: And, Michael Ware, there's another point borne out by this report. We have seen the fallout from U.S. military action in Haditha and Abu Ghraib, and we know that has been used as a recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

But this report also suggests that the mere presence of U.S. troops on the ground is creating this violence. So, at the end of the day, are -- are we to accept the conclusion this is an absolute lose- lose situation for the United States?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the United States certainly has created quite a situation for itself.

I mean, we have seen -- it's been self-evident on the ground here since at least 2004 that the very thing President Bush says that he came here to prevent, terrorism, and to curb this terrorism, he is in fact fostering. I mean, after Afghanistan, al Qaeda and like-minded groups were looking for the new platform in which to blood the next generation, the next fire in which to forge the steel that they thought would take al Qaeda forward.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the now dead leader, saw this opportunity, and took Iraq as a platform. And that's exactly what we have seen happen. We saw a homegrown fight internationalized by people like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. And we now see it as the rallying point for al Qaeda and global militants across the world.

This simply is not new. It's what intelligence agencies have been saying for quite some time. It dismisses President Bush's honey pot theory: We will draw them into Iraq and kill them there. No, say analysts I speak to. It's the beehive. We're shaking it up -- Paula.

ZAHN: Michael, thank you.

And let me have Jim weigh in on that, because the administration continues to argue that you're just looking at a snapshot here, and, to be perfectly fair, that you have to look at the totality of this report. Do they have a point there?

WALSH: Sure, I think that that's true.

But, then, we should simply declassify it, Paula. I have looked at plenty of NIEs over the year. They don't tend to be thematic. They don't tend to talk about sources and methods. And, so, they're usually the sort of documents that, if the president wants, he can go ahead and declassify them, maybe remove a little bit here and a little bit there.

But it's important to realize that, on this argument, is the reporting being fair, that the person who started to -- the study group, who's -- who headed the writing team for it, and who has since retired, confirms these reports as being true, and as I indicated before, Paula, that the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, in testimony before Congress, has said the same thing, that the war in Iraq has been a rallying cry for al Qaeda and extremists and has...

ZAHN: All right.

WALSH: ... and has helped them. So, it's...

ZAHN: OK, Michael, just a quick final thought on how troops over there are reacting to the conclusion that their presence has caused this terrorism to spike?

WARE: Well, I haven't spent any time with troops today, Paula.

But what I can tell you is that, over the last few years, I have watched this tide of disenchantment grow within the soldiers and Marines, particularly as they're coming back for their second and their third tours. And they're not saying any real difference.

These people, however, are professionals, by and large. They signed up to serve. They have been ordered to come here, and they're going to do the best job that they can. Nonetheless, that doesn't mean that they cannot help but see that they're still grinding it out in the same streets against the same enemy, who appears, at least in P.R. terms, to -- becoming stronger, not weaker -- Paula.

ZAHN: Michael Ware, Jim Walsh, thank you both. Appreciated hearing from both of you.

The story, of course, is still developing tonight. And, as we speak, the administration is attempting to do some damage control. We're keeping an eye on a speech being given right now -- you're looking at it -- out of Washington by National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, who has reportedly seen the entire report on terrorism in Iraq.

And he's expected to bring up the leak at some point in his remarks tonight. We will let you know if that happens, and if it does, we will bring it to you.

Coming up, we have got other top stories we're following tonight, including a surprising public outburst from a former president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): The flip side of Bill Clinton -- provocative questions, angry answers. The former president defends his record in the war on terror. But is there a midterm election strategy behind his explosive response?

And the amazing secret life of Jim McGreevey, the gay ex-governor whose startling public confession cost him his job and his marriage -- you will be surprised at just how many men are living the same lie -- all that and more as we continue. (END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Another "Top Story" we're following tonight: the real story behind former President Bill Clinton's on-camera eruption over the weekend. Was it spontaneous or a very clever attempt to reach out to his fellow Democrats and get them juiced? I'm going to ask a pair of his closest friends, James Carville, Paul Begala, both of whom helped get him elected and reelected.

And our "Top Story" in the war on terror continues. The number of U.S. forces in Iraq is going up again, because the Army is stretched so thin. There are 142,000 troops there now, and over the next couple of months, that will grow by nearly 4,000, because the Pentagon has decided to keep some troops there longer than planned, while also sending over fresh forces.

That's bound to be more ammunition for critics who have been calling for months for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to quit. Today, at a Senate hearing called by Democrats, a table full of ex- generals lined up to rip into Rumsfeld and how he's handled the war in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJOR GENERAL JOHN BATISTE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader. He knows everything, except how to win. He surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates, who do not grasp the importance of the principles of war, the complexities of Iraq, or the human dimension of warfare.

Secretary Rumsfeld ignored 12 years of U.S. Central Command deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates to build his plan, which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace, and set Iraq up for self-reliance.

MAJOR GENERAL PAUL EATON (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Mr. Rumsfeld came in to transform the U.S. military, to turn the military into a lighter, more lethal armed force.

We are fighting an insurgency, a distributed, low-tech, high- concept war that demands greater number of ground forces, not fewer. Mr. Rumsfeld won't acknowledge this fact, and has failed to adapt to the current situation. He has tried and continues to fight this war on the cheap.

BATISTE: Secretary Rumsfeld's dismal strategic decisions resulted in the unnecessary deaths of American service men and women, our allies, and the good people of Iraq.

I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth, for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And, today, the defense secretary just waved off a reporter's question about whether he would quit.

And joining me now, special correspondent Frank Sesno, who has had some rare access to Rumsfeld and his staff. It's been a project he's been working on for about five months now, a new "CNN PRESENTS" documentary called "Rumsfeld: Man of War."

Frank, always great to see you.

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you.

ZAHN: I know that you had a chance not only to talk with the secretary, but a lot of folks who work around him.

How are they reacting to all this criticism?

SESNO: Well, they have heard it 1,000 times. And they will tell you that.

And Rumsfeld says, look, you know, it's always out there. He lets it roll off of his back. He tries to take the long view of things. And he does. He says, repeatedly, that history is his guide, that he takes the long view, and that the people will come around, and that they have to do what is right.

So, basically, he dismisses it, Paula, and he says he's just going to keep doing his job. He is defiant.

ZAHN: Defiant, but getting scorched at the same time, particularly now that this new intelligence report has come out suggesting that the mere presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is inciting a lot of violence that's happening there.

In addition to that, you have got all these generals calling for his resignation. So, while you said he just sloughs it off, what is your sense of -- of what really keeps him going here?

SESNO: Well, first of all, I have tell you, I -- it can't be fun. You know, he has been in and out of Washington virtually all of his life. And it's really white-hot for him right now.

What keeps him going, he says, is the job that he's doing, the purpose that he brings to it. We spent time in his office, Paula. And he walked me around his office. In his office, it's very interesting. There's Eisenhower. There's Teddy Roosevelt. There's Winston Churchill, all men who stood at the crossroads of history.

Donald Rumsfeld sees himself standing at the crossroads of history. And he's taking his lumps. He knows it.

He says and he insists that this thing in Iraq can work out. He says it's not going to be the Americans who get it right. It's got to be the Iraqis. That's got to be program, though, because the Iraqi government is weak and divided. So, there's no easy way out of this for him.

ZAHN: We will be watching your special, Frank. Again, thank you.

You can catch his report on Donald Rumsfeld, "CNN PRESENTS: Rumsfeld; Man of War," coming up this Saturday at 8:00 p.m.

We are going to move on to tonight's "Top Story" in politics. I will ask James Carville and Paul Begala if Bill Clinton's latest blowup is a case of losing control or a calculated move to help his fellow Democrats going into a midterm election.

Then, a little bit later on, tonight's "Top Story" "Outside the Law": a manhunt that has shelters for battered women on alert all across North Carolina.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Tonight, President Bush's approval rating is about the same as it's been for the past month-and-a-half, at 42 percent, according to the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

And our "Top Story" coverage turns now to politics to take a look at this: the president's favorability rating. Forty-six percent say they have a favorable overall opinion of the president, while 60 percent say they have a favorable opinion of former President Clinton.

Tonight, Clinton is not only more popular than the current president; he's also stealing the headlines, after losing his temper in a TV interview over the weekend, when he was grilled about whether he let Osama bin Laden get away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Do you think you did enough, sir?

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, because I didn't get him.

WALLACE: Right.

W. CLINTON: But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers that are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried. So, I tried and failed.

When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.

So, you did FOX's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. What I want to know is...

WALLACE: Well, wait a minute, sir.

W. CLINTON: No, wait. No, no...

WALLACE: I want to ask a question. You don't think that's a legitimate question?

W. CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question. But I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Well, just a bit earlier, I spoke with a "Top Story" panel of experts on Bill Clinton and his temper, CNN political analyst and Democratic strategist James Carville, who managed Clinton's '92 presidential campaign and advised him on the '96 race, Paul Begala, who was a counselor to President Clinton and is also now a CNN political analyst.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: James, the president himself admitted that was a legitimate question he was asked. Why did he become so uncorked?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It might be a legitimate question, but it certainly is a legitimate question to ask back: Why are you asking me and you never asked President Bush?

Of course, Chris Wallace said they had. So, I'm -- I think it was a -- some righteous anger there. But I'm -- I'm comfortable with it.

ZAHN: Paul, you can't argue that that wasn't a fair question: Did you do enough to get Osama bin Laden?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Perfectly fair question. President Bush laid -- President Clinton laid out his case of what he had done, contrasted it with the inaction of President Bush and his team.

ZAHN: I want to move on to another exchange where the president readily admits he is very agitated.

Let's watch together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")

WALLACE: You seem upset, and I...

W. CLINTON: I am upset because...

WALLACE: And all I can say is, I'm asking you this in good faith because it's on people's minds, sir. And I wasn't...

(CROSSTALK)

W. CLINTON: Well, there's a reason it's on people's minds. That's the point I'm trying to make. There's a reason it's on people's minds: because there's been a serious disinformation campaign to create that impression.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Paul, you have been with this president in a bunch of different intense situations. Have you ever seen him hammer away at someone like that?

BEGALA: Oh, that's nothing, yes. Good lord.

CARVILLE: Come on.

BEGALA: Now, by the way, let me also point out that I have seen George W. Bush 10 times angrier than that as well.

I mean, I like the fact that there's some passion in political leaders, OK? George W. Bush one time poked me in the chest and dropped the kind of bombs that Dick Cheney reserves for the Senate floor. And that is fine with me. I like that. It's one of the few things I like about Bush, is that he has got a hot temper and a potty mouth. I just don't think that's a bad thing at all.

And I have to tell you, I thought President Clinton was fair and factual. And he just, as James said, doesn't -- he's not going to take it anymore. He's speaking for tens of millions of Democrats, who just love this.

CARVILLE: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Could you argue, James, that this is a well-calculated effort to fire up his team going into the midterm election?

CARVILLE: No. No, I don't think it -- A, nobody -- we didn't set Chris Wallace up to ask that question.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: No, but, clearly, through the president's spokesman, he suggested they were expecting these questions, and they were ready for them.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I think what -- what Democrats are saying and what President Clinton is saying is, we're not taking the double standard that's being imposed by the national media. And I think a lot of Democrats out there say: You go, boy. You go.

ZAHN: Paul, are you telling me tonight, at a time when there's great speculation that Hillary Clinton might take a stab at a run for the president, this -- this doesn't diminish her, by having him back out there, bigger than ever, on the stage?

BEGALA: That's right. In fact, it helps her enormously. I...

ZAHN: How?

BEGALA: Because this lights a match to the tinderbox of Democratic passion, right?

The party that fires up its base best always wins the midterms. And that looks like it's going to be the Democrats. And then you move into the presidential campaign, which those early primaries are dominated by party activists -- party activists who, frankly, are a little annoyed with Hillary for voting for President Bush's war in Iraq.

So, now, here's her husband reminding them of why we love the Clintons. But this wasn't some bank shot to help Hillary. I think it does help her, though.

ZAHN: Gentlemen, we have got to leave it there.

Paul Begala, James Carville...

CARVILLE: Thank you.

BEGALA: Thanks, Paula.

ZAHN: .. always good to see the two of you.

CARVILLE: All right. You bet.

ZAHN: Take care.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And we have more top stories to cover tonight, including the "Top Story" in crime. Police in North Carolina are hunting for a killer who struck inside a center for battered women, and could strike again.

And later: my in-depth conversation with the former governor who shocked the nation by announcing he was a gay American with his wife at his side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And just ahead in this half-hour of our "Top Story" coverage, we are going to count down the top 10 stories on CNN.com, including the government decision to let passengers bring some liquids and gels onto airliners again.

Also, my in-depth conversation with New Jersey's ex-governor. James McGreevey talks about the agonizing years of keeping his sexual identity secret and the startling public confession that cost him his job.

Then, coming up at the top of the hour, a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" -- you get to see Oprah Winfrey and all of her new talk radio friends. We move along now to our top story, "Outside the Law," and the search going on right now for a husband wanted for allegedly hunting down his wife and killing her inside a North Carolina shelter for battered women, where she had taken refuge. The woman was buried today, one of four on average killed by husbands or boyfriends every day.

Rusty Dornin is covering the manhunt and the crime that has thousands on edge, and she just sent in this report for tonight's "Outside the Law."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After her husband allegedly beat and choked her earlier this month, Bonnie Woodring decided she'd had enough. So she took out a restraining order, took her 13-year-old son, and fled to a women's domestic violence shelter here in Sylva, North Carolina.

But days later, police say her husband, John "Woody" Woodring, tracked her down at the shelter, forced his way in, and shot and killed her. Now, the 35-year-old Woodring, a former Marine and ex-con with a history of domestic violence is on the run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say there's a community panic, and as the search continues and the days get by, I think a lot of people are concerned that he still could be in the area.

DORNIN: This little town nestled in the Smoky Mountains is in shock. Bonnie Woodring was a well-loved nurse at the local hospital. Woody was studying at the local college -- ironically, to be a counselor. But in their well-kept house on the hill, the Woodring family showed signs of strain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever since they got married, he was just the real jealous type.

DORNIN: Now, Bonnie's family is terrified Woodring will come after them. This close relative didn't even want her name or real voice used.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible), everybody's scared, you know, family, and even Bonnie's close friends, co-workers, anybody.

DORNIN: Before her death, Bonnie sensed she was in serious trouble. In the restraining order filed just two weeks ago, she wrote, "When I attempted to leave, he choked me twice. He also threatens to kill me if I ever left him."

Bonnie apparently trusted that she would be safe in the shelter, a location that was supposed to be a secret.

(on camera): Does everybody in this town know where that shelter is? Really?

CHIEF JEFF JAMISON, SYLVA POLICE: No, I wouldn't say so. The longer that a location is in existence, then of course the more well- known it becomes.

DORNIN (voice-over): Jane Boxdollar (ph) is director of the shelter.

(on camera): Was he able to just open the door?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was when a shelter person was coming out.

DORNIN: A shelter person was coming out, and he was able to force his way in by pointing his gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

DORNIN: (inaudible) hit the panic button?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. That's as much as I'm able to really say.

DORNIN (voice-over): Words that chill the hearts of many abuse victims and the people who try to protect them.

JAMISON: When you're dealing with an individual that is as determined as Woodring has shown himself to be and with such a twisted obsession, that it becomes very difficult to safeguard them completely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DORNIN: But safety, of course, is the number one priority for a domestic violence shelter. So now 60 shelters in North Carolina are on high alert, and they're asking some tough questions, Paula.

ZAHN: And Rusty, as they should. You mention Woodring is on the run. What are investigators telling you about the status of this manhunt? Are they any closer to getting this guy?

DORNIN: There were unconfirmed reports of a sighting outside of Chicago, but apparently they're trying to get the video at a toll booth where this person was seen. We haven't heard anything back on that yet.

But they say this man is no Eric Rudolph. He doesn't have the survival skills, despite the fact he is an ex-Marine. And they don't really believe that he's hiding out in the mountains around Sylva, North Carolina.

ZAHN: Rusty Dornin, keep an eye on it for us. Thanks so much for the update.

And in just a minute, we're going to move along to the countdown of tonight's top 10 stories on CNN.com, including the very latest recall involving tainted spinach.

And then a little bit later on, former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey opens up about his secret life. Plus, an eye-opening look at just how many gay men are married to women and keeping their true identity secret, even from their wives.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And there's much more top story coverage ahead. Right now, though, we're going to check in with Melissa Long in our pipeline studio for our countdown of the day's top 10 stories on CNN.com. Fire away, Melissa.

MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, Paula. More than 20 million people logged on to our Web site today, CNN.com, to find out what's happening. And the story at number 10 got a lot of attention. Today, a federal judge OK'ed a new class action lawsuit in which millions of smokers claim nine cigarette companies deceived them by implying that light cigarettes are safer than the regular ones. It is estimated that damages could reach $200 billion.

Number nine, the growing E. coli outbreak is forcing a Seattle company to recall some of its bagged salad products. That recall mostly affects products sold in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana -- Paula.

ZAHN: So, Melissa, what exactly is going on here? Is it a concern that other vegetables might be contaminated with E.coli as well?

LONG: Well, don't think like peppers or something like that, but think about the salad products that are owned by this company or that come from the company, ST Produce out of Seattle. The four states I mentioned earlier are really where the concern is right now with possible suspect salad products.

There's a list of them. Among them, the NWG tabouli and goat cheese salad, Charlie's spinach salad, mozzarella spring mix salad. So the company is really asking people right now if you do have a problem, bring it back, and you will get a full refund.

ZAHN: It's enough to make you want to go all carbs, isn't it?

LONG: Yes, it is. And tough for vegetarians right now, too.

ZAHN: Oh, of course. Yes. Not many choices out there, depending on what kind of vegetarian you are.

So what else is on the list tonight?

LONG: Well, let's see. Let's continue with the list right. Millions of people wanted to know about the sole survivor of last month's Comair crash in Kentucky. Doctors have amputated the left leg of the co-pilot, that's Captain James Polehinke. His family says he also has no memory of that accident that killed 49 people on board.

Number seven this evening, an Illinois judge ordering psychological testing now for a woman accused of killing a pregnant friend and her unborn child. Authorities are also investigating whether she caused the deaths of that woman's three children. The suspect is being held on $5 million bond tonight.

The war in Iraq and that leaked intelligence report is story number six. Part of the report says the U.S. has unintentionally turned Iraq into a magnet for recruiting and training Islamist extremists.

Story number five, a story you heard about just a few minutes ago here on the program. Retired U.S. military officers giving congressional Democrats a frank and unflattering assessment of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq.

And number four on the list, the government relaxing the rules about which liquids you can and can't carry on a plane. You are now allowed to bring on some liquids, but they can only be in just tiny amounts, and they must be in a clear plastic bag, Paula.

ZAHN: So what does that mean, exactly? What are we allowed to take on?

LONG: Yes, kind of convoluted. I'll try to sort it out for you. You can carry on liquids and gels that are in a three-ounce container or smaller than that. And then all those containers have to actually fit inside of that bag, that clear plastic baggie with a zip lock at the top. And that can't be any larger than, let's see, one quart.

And the other good thing for a lot of travelers -- you can now bring on a coffee or bottled water, something from a duty-free shop once you have passed through security. You can only purchase those products once you pass through security.

ZAHN: Oh, good. Then at least we don't have to measure the three ounces in a little mini bottle of water. OK, thanks.

And you're going to move on beyond that now?

LONG: Yes, let me wrap up the list. No. 3 tonight on that countdown is a story about the Coast Guard investigation into the deaths of two divers assigned to a Seattle-based ice breaker called the Healy. They died last month during a training dive, they died during a training dive in the Arctic about 500 miles north of Alaska.

You heard about story No. 2 a little bit earlier, President Bill Clinton's fiery defense about his anti-terrorism record in a television interview that aired on FOX News on Sunday.

And then No. 1 this evening, pop singer Aaron Carter breaking off his engagement to his older brother's ex-girlfriend. Let me say it again, his older brother's ex-girlfriend, and this happened just a week after he proposed. His older brother happens to be Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys, and Aaron Carter says he's just not ready for that trip down the altar. And Paula, he's only 19, the young lady was 22. So probably a smart decision.

ZAHN: Yes, didn't take him long to break that off, did it?

LONG: No, it didn't. ZAHN: All right, thanks Melissa. We're going to move along to the Biz Break now.

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

ZAHN: Move along to our nightly look at gas prices around the country, our "Crude Awakenings." Not so crude as it was a couple months ago. The states with the lowest prices are in green, the highest in red. Today's average for unleaded regular $2.38 per gallon. That's actually 11 cents less than it was just last Monday, as prices continue to plummet.

And we're going to go to Larry King, who has a look on a very surprising roster of guests tonight -- Larry.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Paula, we've got a great show coming up tonight. I think you know this lady.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Hi Paula, it's Oprah and I'm going to be on with my friends on Larry King tonight. We're all going to try to get a word in edgewise. It's a lot of friends.

KING: They're all starting on XM Radio today, on XM channel 158. Oprah, I, and the group right ahead Paula at the top of the hour.

WINFREY: OK, thanks, Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks Oprah, look forward to it. See you, Larry. Once again, that's coming straight at you at the top of the hour.

He was governor of New Jersey and kept a devastating secret for years. Facing the truth cost him his marriage and his political career. Next my in-depth conversation plus a top story panel on how many married men in this country, men who are married to women are actually gay, but are afraid to tell anyone. You'll meet them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Our top story coverage turns to married men who are gay and living a lie, and one very famous example, former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey. His new book, "The Confession," lays out his troubled past from a Catholic youth carrying a shameful secret to family man and governor of one of the country's most populous states. A man who eventually confessed his secret life on live T.V., a shocking event that cost him his wife and a promising political career. On talk shows and at book signings, he's been thanked and vilified, but I sat down with Jim McGreevey to ask questions he hasn't answered yet about his wife, his AIDS test, and the day he thought about ending it all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM MCGREEVEY, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I thought about suicide.

ZAHN (voice-over): That was when Jim McGreevey reached rock bottom. He's never before talked about the moment when he thought being gay was too much to bear.

MCGREEVEY: I couldn't contain it and I couldn't repress it. What am I going to do?

ZAHN: As a young Catholic, McGreevey was taught that being gay was a mortal sin.

MCGREEVEY: I come from a wonderfully devout Irish Catholic family where the church preaches abomination, that I can't act on it, I'll go straight to hell. That mortal sin. So I was in denial. And then gradually you're 13, you're 20, you're 25, and you're 30, and you lie a little bit more.

ZAHN: For decades, McGreevey lied a lot.

MCGREEVEY: I was working, Paula, double time to try to portray myself as one of the boys. I went to strip clubs, I went to like the extreme sort of the caricature of what it means to be red-blooded American.

ZAHN: But he couldn't deny his feelings. McGreevey started to have secret homosexual trists in anonymous locations, like highway truck stops, even an alley behind a Washington synagogue.

MCGREEVEY: You sort of march further and further into your own hell. And then at the end of it, you think you're the master. Governor of the state of New Jersey, married, I have a gay lover, and I'm managing it all. And then the whole damn thing careens and crashes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll bring you live coverage of a press conference by Governor McGreevey.

ZAHN: And in 2004, it crashed hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The governor is expected to make what's being called a major announcement.

ZAHN: The potential lawsuit forced the governor to tell the world about his secret life. McGreevey started with his wife.

MCGREEVEY: I said I was involved in a relationship that I shouldn't be, I was involved with a relationship with a man.

ZAHN (on camera): Did she verbally lash out at you?

MCGREEVEY: No.

ZAHN: You cried you said.

MCGREEVEY: Disbelief, certain amount of shock, certain amount of confusion. And so my truth is that I'm a gay American.

ZAHN: I vividly remember the day you resigned. Weren't you afraid it was going to be too much for her to bear?

MCGREEVEY: I think she bore it with dignity. I think she bore it with grace.

ZAHN: Dina McGreevey collapsed shortly after that speech. So did the marriage.

While their story is dramatic, it's not all that unusual. A new study shows that 10 percent of New York men who say they're heterosexual are having sex with other men. And 70 percent of that group is married and less likely to use condoms. A promiscuous double life with frightening health implications.

MCGREEVEY: I had an AIDS test prior to getting married and so I -- but I always protected, I always engaged in safe sex.

ZAHN: Did you ever then worry about your wife being...

MCGREEVEY: No.

ZAHN: .. Exposed to something.

MCGREEVEY: I always was prudent.

ZAHN: What are you comfortable saying about your relationship today?

MCGREEVEY: It's obviously in transition. Just -- I don't think you ever -- well, I don't rationally ever expect forgiveness. At some point I would hope for some level of understanding, acceptance.

ZAHN: Do you have that level of acceptance or understanding from her today or understanding?

MCGREEVEY: That's a question only which she can answer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: But as you might imagine Dina McGreevey isn't talking. She hasn't granted an interview in some two years while the couple negotiate a divorce.

But you're not going to believe how many married women are fooled by husbands having gay affairs. Bonnie Kaye's book "Straight Lives: Shattered Lives" is about women who have been fooled by gay husbands. She joins me now along with Carolyn Sega Lowengart, who was married to a gay man for more than 30 years. Welcome to both of you.

Carolyn, what was your first reaction when your husband of 31 years told you that he was gay?

CAROLYN SEGA LOWENGART, SPENT 31 YEARS MARRIED TO A GAY MAN: I had two reactions. First believe it or not was relief. I had thought it was something wrong with me for 31 years. And the second was devastation that I had lived a lie for 31 years, and the Straight Spouse Network is what saved my sanity, and I cannot speak highly enough about it.

ZAHN: Bonnie, and a lot of people need that crutch. Describe the range of emotions that people like Carolyn have been subjected to as well as Dina, when she had to accept the cold hard reality that her husband was gay.

BONNIE KAYE, MARRIAGE COUNSELOR: Whenever a woman goes through this Paula, they go through the same kind of emotions as anyone else in any kind of death and dying situation. At first you go through the shock, then you go through the denial, then you go through the anger. Then you usually go back to the denial, the shock, and the anger many times before you can come into acceptance.

ZAHN: And Carolyn, did you ever think about sticking it out with your husband?

LOWENGART: I thought about it for about four months, and we had been in joint marriage counseling for eight years with an elephant in the middle of the room, and we continued that joint counseling for about four months, and it -- the counselor kept asking me what do you want?

And I had spent 31 years not thinking about what I wanted. And after about four months I decided I wanted to be loved, honored, and cherished, and he said he couldn't do that.

ZAHN: It's hard to listen to that, and, Bonnie, I know there are a lot more women out there in the country that may be exposed to this than we think. We just heard in that piece that the study suggesting that one in 10 men who say they're straight actually are gay. How many women out there do you think have actually been married to gay men?

KAYE: The estimates in the gay community is close to four million women.

ZAHN: Four million.

KAYE: Yes, that are either are or have been married to gay men. And what's so confusing about this Paula, is that some of these men go into multiple marriages because they're what I call the straight gay men. Men who will play straight until the day they die rather than accept or tell their wives who they are. So even though half the men may leave their wives, the other half are sticking in these marriages using their wives as covers.

ZAHN: And Carolyn what do you say to those men, men like your husband who didn't want to share his secret with the world?

LOWENGART: I think it's very important to recognize that this is not just men who are gay, there are lesbians who are also in straight marriages, and there are millions of straight men who are affected by the same thing that the straight women are affected by.

ZAHN: And, Bonnie, of course, what brought this all into focus was Governor McGreevey's story. What is a final thought you might have on how that all played out and what it means?

KAYE: I think what James McGreevey did was the best thing for women who are going through this life wondering what's wrong in their lives. I think what he's brought attention to the fact that there are -- that any woman who is sitting on the fence have to realize that gay men do get married. Gay men do stay married and gay men jeopardize your lives with their safety factors.

Our new book "Straight Wives: Shattered Lives" is the story of 27 of the women through my support network that tell the devastation and how their lives fell apart by being married to gay men. The important thing is that once you end a marriage, your life can start over, and that's the kind of support that I give to women, which they can find that at my Web site at www.gayhusbands.com, as well as men who are looking to come out. I totally support them and help them in their efforts and find them the right support.

ZAHN: And we've got to leave it there, both of you. Bonnie Kaye, Carolyn Sega Lowengart, appreciate your time tonight.

We're just minutes away from the top of the hour and a very special "LARRY KING LIVE." Guess who's joining him tonight? This gang. Oprah Winfrey and members of her brand new talk radio network.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Before we go tonight, there's been a new development in tonight's top story. The leaking of a previously secret high-level intelligence report that indicates the U.S. presence in Iraq is making the threat of global terrorism worse, not better.

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte has seen the whole report and has just told a Washington audience that the leaked portions don't tell the whole story and actually distort the true situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN NEGROPONTE, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: It talks about the jihadist movement having spread. My personal assessment with respect to the United States is that we are certainly more vigilant. We're better prepared. In that sense, I think we could safely say that we are safer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: National Intelligence Director John Negroponte also says he will consider a request to declassify the entire report. That wraps it up for all of us here tonight, thanks so much for joining us. I hope you'll be back with us, same time, same place tomorrow night. Until then, have a great night. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now with Opraht

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