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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Radioactivity Detected From North Korea Test Site; Foley Effect on Security Moms?

Aired October 13, 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: Welcome. Glad to have you all with us tonight.
We begin with breaking news, tonight's "Top Story": the first evidence of radioactivity, which could confirm that North Korea did in fact test a nuclear device on Monday.

Let's go straight right now to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.

Jamie, we need to make it clear, we're talking, at this hour, evidence, not proof?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's correct.

This is a preliminary evidence, but it's the first evidence that the U.S. government has of a detection of radioactivity near the North Korean test site. If confirmed -- and officials are working on that confirmation tonight -- it would be the first time the U.S. would be able to say conclusively that North Korea tested a nuclear device on Sunday night, Monday morning.

But, again, no official announcement is made from the U.S. government. And the intelligence community has been very conservative this week, saying all along, while their working assumption was that North Korea tested a nuclear device that didn't go well, and had a very low yield, they were not willing to say conclusively that that was the case.

And, again, if the U.S. could come up with enough evidence to suggest that it was a nuclear test, it would come on the eve of a vote for tough sanctions against North Korea in the United Nations. We're told an announcement could come as early as tonight, but, if they don't have the confidence in the data, it could be a couple of days.

ZAHN: Walk us through the process the U.S. government is going through right now to make this confirmation, one way or the other.

MCINTYRE: Well, the big thing they were looking for was radioactivity. That would be -- come from nothing but a nuclear blast.

We heard and reported this morning that one of the collections of air samples taken by a U.S. military plane produced no evidence of radioactivity, but that was not the only test. And now we're told that a subsequent test apparently did produce evidence of radioactivity.

But, again, you want to be very careful with these tests and make sure you're not read -- misreading the results. And that's why you're not seeing any public statement from the U.S. government.

ZAHN: Of course, a lot of people who would like to see sanctions against North Korea would hope that this information comes down in advance of a vote, right?

MCINTYRE: Well...

ZAHN: The timing is critical here, Jamie.

MCINTYRE: Well, it would help, but except -- except that the movement for sanctions is -- has gone ahead without this conclusive proof.

In fact, the U.S. is treating -- taking the North Koreans at their word. They boasted that they tested a nuclear device. The U.S. intelligence community believed beforehand that that's what it intended and was going to do. And, so, they have operated on that belief all along.

They just would like -- it would be an extra measure of comfort to be able to say, look, we have got the proof they really did it. And, at the moment, they don't have it, but it may be coming shortly.

ZAHN: CNN Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre, we want you to stand by. I know you are going to to -- to work this throughout the night. We will come back to you when you have more details.

One more important note: The United Nations Security Council, as Jamie just mentioned, is expected to vote tomorrow morning on whether to impose the sanctions on North Korea, in response to its claimed nuclear test.

With me right now is David Albright. He is a former nuclear weapons inspector for the United Nations.

David, always good to see you.

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE & INTERNATIONAL SECURITY: Good to be here.

ZAHN: Jamie making it very clear, U.S. government is taking North Korea at its word.

You would not be surprised, then, if it is confirmed this, in fact, was a nuclear test carried out on Monday?

ALBRIGHT: No, I wouldn't be.

I mean, in these kind of events, North Korea usually is telling the truth, and, so, I wouldn't be surprised. And, also, it does take time to find these -- the radiation that is emitted from a test site. And a plane was sent out, I believe, yesterday or the day before, and, so, this is about the right time for the results to come back.

And, so, while the first pass didn't find radiation, it wouldn't be uncommon for the second to actually find it. And, so, they -- it's right for the U.S. to be careful, too, because a lot hangs on this, and -- and -- and the -- the analysts -- analysis of the samples has to be done very carefully.

And, also, if they do, do the analysis, they are going to be looking for evidence of what kind of bomb it was. Did it have plutonium in it? You know, does it confirm that the explosive yield was small?

ZAHN: Well, that seems to be the suspicion, right, that, even though no one would be surprised that they had conducted this nuclear test, what some people have been surprised by, what happens to be a not so successful test, or -- or at least a pretty small one, at that.

ALBRIGHT: Sure.

No, no, you -- it's -- people -- given the age of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, you would have expected that they would have done better. But a nuclear weapon is a very complicated device. They could have just had a bad day.

I would say, though, that I would look at it as they almost have a nuclear weapon. Even if it's decided that this test was not a big success, or was even a failure, it's not that hard for North Korea to analyze the data they collected during the test, fix the problem, and then make a successful nuclear weapon, which they may indeed test, because you can imagine, the North Korean leadership is probably shocked, too, if this indeed was not a success.

And they may expect the scientists to fix the problem, and then to demonstrate both to them and world that the nuclear weapon will work.

ZAHN: David Albright, thanks so much.

Joining me now on the phone, Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World"

Welcome, sir.

You have heard us talking about the breaking news tonight, that there is evidence of radioactivity coming from the site where this alleged nuclear test has taken place. If the U.S. government confirms, in fact, that they have proof of this, what does that mean? What's the impact?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": I think that most people suspected it was a nuclear test to start out with, because the few signs we had, apart from the absence of radioactivity, indicated that it was indeed an atomic explosion.

I mean, it would have been too bizarre, even for Kim Jong Il, to have faked a nuclear test, because they would have had almost nothing to gain, and they would have a lot to lose if it -- the world discovered that they had actually faked this. So, I think most people suspected it was a failed nuclear test, but a nuclear test nonetheless.

ZAHN: How much information are we really going to be able to glean from this test?

CHANG: Well, because it's a -- a small explosion, we won't be able to get as much as we otherwise thought.

The -- the North Koreans had told the Chinese in advance that it was going to be a 4-kiloton device, but it turned out to be probably less than half-a-kiloton, or around a half-a-kiloton. So, the smaller the device, the -- the less evidence that we can pick up.

And, so, we may never know a lot of the details about the exact nature of the device.

ZAHN: And what is your suspicion, then, that Kim Jong Il's next step will be, if it's confirmed this in fact was a nuclear test?

CHANG: I think David Albright is exactly right.

They are going to have to go back and do it again. If -- if nothing else, the North Koreans feel that they have lost a lot of face, and -- and, therefore, they have got to prove to the world that they have an effective nuclear weapon. So, I expect to see another test fairly soon.

ZAHN: Whether or not the U.N. votes tomorrow to impose sanctions against North Korea, you see that as happening?

CHANG: Well, the sanctions will happen, but they won't be as strong as the United States hoped.

And I think Kim Jong Il will see that the international community is not really so resolute. So, he's going to see this mostly as a green light to continue testing, not only his nuclear weapons, but also his long-range missiles.

ZAHN: Gordon Chang, if you wouldn't mind standing by, we have a congressman, Mark Kirk, joining us now, who is just back from a trip to the region.

Congressman, thanks so much for join -- oh, OK, I'm told we have lost him.

Do we still have Mr. Chang with us?

CHANG: I'm -- I'm still right here.

ZAHN: OK.

So, here's another important thing, I think, that we all need to understand. How important is it for Kim Jong Il, who some people believe is ill right now, to have conducted a successful test to maintain power in his country, particularly his power over the military?

CHANG: I think that it's absolutely crucial.

Kim Jong Il is at a critical time in his leadership. First of all, as you point out, he may very well not be healthy. He's actually quite old. He has suffered from a number of diseases during the last 10, 15 years. And -- and now he's thinking of trying to put one of his sons on the throne as the -- the next supreme leader.

But neither of the two contenders from among his three sons are -- are really ready yet. And neither has been able to consolidate his position in the regime. So, Kim Jong Il needs the military support to put one of his sons in -- in the slot.

Also, Kim Jong Il has had some very bad years. His economic policies since 2002 have been failures. And the last harvest, for various reasons, including some of his policy decisions, have -- have really been bad.

So, right now, Kim needs to rally, not only the military, but the North Korean people as well. And a good, successful test would show the North Korean people that Kim has a success. And the only thing that he can point to as a success is his military weapons nuclear program.

ZAHN: Gordon Chang, thank you, if you wouldn't mind standing by.

Now, I think, we have Congressman Mark Kirk, who joins us from Chicago.

Sir, can you hear me?

REP. MARK KIRK (R), ILLINOIS: I can hear you just fine.

ZAHN: OK.

First of all, your reaction to the breaking news, that we are getting a conformation that the U.S. government now has evidence -- not proof -- evidence of radioactivity coming from the site where this test was conducted on Monday?

Your reaction?

KIRK: Two reactions.

Number one, this is going to be bad news for the people of Japan, because they are downwind from North Korea. And they obviously have a very emotional and painful history involving nuclear weapons.

The second reaction is that North Korea has had terrible technical failures recently, first, with the failure of their long- range Taepodong-2 missile launch on July 4, and now with a nuclear weapons test which, by the best estimate, is below 500 tons in explosive power, which is a very inefficient nuclear explosion, and one that somewhat embarrasses the grand claims that North Korea has made. ZAHN: At a time when Kim Jong Il is starving his own people, how is he paying for this nuclear program?

KIRK: North Korea is one of the poorest societies on Earth.

Two million people starved to death in the country between 1997 and 1998. And it is only through a climate of fear and total restriction on any civilian production that he has been able to scrape together a missile and nuclear weapons program. And news tonight that some radiation leaked out will be a -- a small public -- maybe a larger public health concern in Japan.

ZAHN: And, finally, if he is not perceived as successful by his military, how tenuous is his hold on power?

KIRK: Well, he -- he -- I think he made a great political error Sunday night, because China warned him not to conduct this test the day before, and then openly broke with the North Korean government the day after, calling this brazen defiance of China's will.

China is the rising power of Asia and the source of most of North Korea's gasoline. And, so, he has greatly offended his last supporter of energy. And I think he will pay a dear price for that.

ZAHN: Congressman Mark Kirk, thank you for joining us for the coverage of this breaking news. Appreciate your time.

We, of course, will stay on top of the North Korean crisis.

But, next, that other crisis, the one in Iraq, and signs of strain in the U.S. alliance with Britain.

Please stay with us. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Our next "Top Story": the war in Iraq.

Britain is our chief ally, with 7,000 troops in the country, but there are signs of strain in that relationship. The top general in the British army has been talking about pulling out, and pulling out soon. And some American forces could be put on trial in Britain over the death of a British journalist in Iraq.

Here's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson in London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Terry Lloyd had a reputation as a quiet, but courageous war correspondent.

TERRY LLOYD, ITN REPORTER: This, until a few hours ago, was an Iraqi frontline stronghold.

ROBERTSON: At 50, he was one of the Britain's Independent Television News best-known reporters.

In the opening days of war, he headed into Iraq for unilateral, un-embedded coverage of the conflict. Driving him was cameraman Daniel Demoustier -- behind them, in a second vehicle, cameraman Fred Nerac and translator Hussein Osman.

Near the front line, they drove past U.S. troops and into an Iraqi army patrol. Demoustier was the sole survivor. Lloyd's body was recovered weeks later, returned to England for burial and a coroner's inquest to determine the cause of death.

Lloyd's family and his employers at ITN maintained he was killed by U.S. troops. Today, they got the verdict they hoped for, vindication the journalist and his news organization had done nothing wrong.

DAVID MANNION, EDITOR IN CHIEF, ITN: This inquest has found that Terry was killed in an unlawful act by a U.S. Marine, who fired directly at the civilian minibus in which Terry, already badly wounded, lay helpless to defend himself.

ROBERTSON: Inside the courtroom, coroner Andrew Walker cleared Lloyd, who was traveling independently, and not embedded with troops, and ITN from blame, saying, no criticism can be leveled at their editorial staff, adding, "I have no doubt in my mind Mr. Lloyd was killed by a bullet from an American gun."

A spokesman for the veteran journalist's wife expressed her outrage.

LOUIS CHARALAMBOUS, LLOYD FAMILY SOLICITOR: The verdict of unlawful killing was inescapable, and came about because U.S. forces appear to have allowed their soldiers to behave like trigger-happy cowboys in an area in which there were civilians traveling.

ROBERTSON: Edited videos shot by U.S. forces missing vital minutes of gunfire was presented as evidence during the inquest, and shows plumes of smoke rising from the vehicle Lloyd was traveling in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's media down there.

ROBERTSON: As it got caught in crossfire between U.S. and Iraqi troops, the coroner determined, Lloyd fell from the vehicle, hit in his shoulder. Then he was picked up in an Iraqi civilian minibus. And, as he was driven away from U.S. troops towards hospital, the U.S. troops opened fire on the minibus, fatally wounding Terry Lloyd.

The coroner added, "I have no doubt it was an unlawful act to fire on the minibus."

Lloyd's daughter called on Britain's top prosecutors to put the U.S. troops on trial.

CHELSEY LLOYD, DAUGHTER OF TERRY LLOYD: We call on the attorney general and the DPP to commence proceedings to bring the soldiers, including their commanding officers, to justice. They did not come to this inquest to explain their actions. Let them now do so in our criminal courts, where they are guaranteed to get a fair trial."

ROBERTSON (on camera): Inside the court, the coroner criticized U.S. forces for not sending their soldiers to the inquest. He said it was important that they appear in person, that merely reading their statements out in court was unsatisfactory.

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command said an internal investigation has been conducted. The forces in question had been found to have been following the rules of engagement. The spokesman also added that U.S. forces do not deliberately target noncombatants, including journalists.

(voice-over): For British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the verdict could hardly come at a more sensitive time, coinciding, as it does, with potentially damaging comments about the war in Iraq from the head of the British army.

In his first interview since becoming army chief of staff, Sir Richard Dannatt said the British presence in Iraq was exacerbating the security condition, adding, British troops should withdraw soon.

GENERAL SIR RICHARD DANNATT, BRITISH ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: We need to keep energy. We need to keep pressure on, because we can't afford to be there indefinitely. We have got a major commitment in Afghanistan. We have got commitments in the Balkans, still.

ROBERTSON: Officials have been desperately trying to smooth over the general's apparent rift with Blair, who stands firm with the U.S. administration, vowing to pull out only when Iraqi forces are ready to take over.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And, Nic, going back to the death of the British journalist for a moment, does anybody really think the British government will end up putting U.S. soldiers on trial for his death?

I think, at ITN, the feeling is, really -- that's Independent Television News, the company Terry Lloyd worked for -- I think the feeling there is, that's very unlikely. It would be such a political hot potato. Tony Blair is very much allied, and supporting the United States, despite the fact that there's sort of an increasing resistance in Britain to that close alliance with the military.

The -- the feeling is that that's very unlikely to happen. It's not a political road that this government would want to go down, however much some of the public and however much Terry Lloyd's family and co-workers would like to see that happen.

ZAHN: Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

And joining me now -- we move on to a "Top Story" panel -- "TIME" magazine national correspondent Brian Bennett, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Thomas Ricks, author of "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq," and our own military analyst, retired Army Brigadier General David Grange. Good to have all three of you with us.

So, Tom, I'm going to start with you tonight.

October is shaping up to be one of the deadliest months in this war since this war began. And you had an Army spokesperson saying just yesterday he assumed -- quote -- "that this is going to get worse, before it gets better."

Is there a real danger that the U.S. could end up losing this war?

THOMAS RICKS, MILITARY CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes.

What you see right now is a recognition by officials that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating rapidly. There's a sense that time is running out, and that a lot of options have been lost, through incompetence, inefficiency, a misunderstanding of the situation.

And I think where we are now is, people are asking themselves, in the government and on the military -- in the military on the ground in Iraq, is this thing salvageable? And the argument is, do we have one last, best chance to get this right?

ZAHN: And, as you, Brian, have that last, best chance to get it right, how damaging is it that you have that top military commander in Britain suggesting that the presence of British troops is making this go even worse?

BRIAN BENNETT, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": It adds momentum, certainly, to the mounting criticism of the U.S. presence there in Iraq, and the idea that -- that, really, the time has come. We're -- we're at a crucial stage here, where important and tough decisions have to be made about the U.S. troop levels there in Iraq and who we're going to support there on the ground.

ZAHN: And, if that weren't enough, General Grange, you -- you probably know, according to a leaked portion of a draft report by a bipartisan group called the Iraqi Study Group, the prospect of victory might be ruled out altogether.

Should commanders consider a serious course correction here, General Grange?

RETIRED BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think that the strategy is under total review right now.

Like Tom Ricks said from his book, in "Fiasco," there were some terrible mistakes made up front that have set conditions for a lot of the challenges now, that may not have been as bad if those things were not done the way they were done years ago, right after April 9 of 2003.

But I think the strategy will have to change for us to be successful. And it is a very delicate point right now. It's very -- it's -- it's on a borderline. And things have to be done, if we expect to win.

ZAHN: Are you pessimistic or optimistic, General Grange?

GRANGE: Well, I'm always optimistic in -- in our forces, because of just the -- the character, the determination, just the -- the passion for -- for winning what they set out for, and, also, that I think that it just hurts inside that, if we don't do this thing right, many people, soldiers and Iraqi civilians and other civilians, have died in vain.

ZAHN: We also...

GRANGE: And that's unacceptable.

ZAHN: And -- and, Tom, we also heard something that is of huge concern to those same families, that -- preparing the American public for the possibility that the U.S. troops may be in Iraq until the year 2010.

RICKS: Yes. The other day, the Army chief of staff, General Schoomaker, told reporters that he was planning to be able to provide the current level of troops, which is 140,000, through the year 2010.

But he emphasized that wasn't a prediction. It's just his role, as the chief of the Army, to be able to supply those troops to commanders in the field.

But I think what you're seeing across the board is a recognition that there are no good answers left, that the argument now is, what is the least bad answer left in Iraq? And that may be the beginning of wisdom here.

ZAHN: And, Brian, finally tonight, what is the impact of all of this debate on the morale of the military?

BENNETT: Well, I spent some timing on the -- walking on the streets of Baghdad with U.S. soldiers with the Stryker Brigade.

And a lot of the soldiers on the ground are confused about exactly why they're there. They did see a brief moment as they went into neighborhoods now -- because the sectarian killing has gotten so bad, they saw a brief moment of relief from the Iraqis, that -- that they were happy to see the coalition forces come in, secure their neighborhood for the brief time that they could.

But, unfortunately, the U.S. just doesn't have enough soldiers there to secure every neighborhood and to stop the killing at the moment.

ZAHN: Gentlemen, we got to leave it there.

Brian Bennett, Thomas Ricks, General David Grange, thank you for all of your perspectives tonight.

As our "Top Story" political coverage continues, coming up next: Is the Mark Foley sex scandal chasing away a group of voters the Republicans desperately need?

And, then, a little bit later on, this really is an extraordinary story, a "Top Story" in the law: When adopted children come with hidden disorders, should their parents be able to un-adopt them?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Back to our "Top Story" in politics tonight.

Clearly, the Capitol Hill sex scandal has hurt Republicans in the polls so far. Our coverage now turns to next month's midterm election.

And one key group that has helped Republicans stay in power is married women with children, the so-called security moms. But just look at this poll; 52 percent say they will vote Democratic. Only 41 percent favor Republicans for Congress.

Well, we sent Jonathan Freed to Indiana to gauge the Foley effect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good luck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck.

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They have been called soccer moms, security moms. Today, we will call them softball moms.

MONIQUE GREGG, INDEPENDENT VOTER: I am neither Republican or Democrat. I try to vote on the best candidate for each election.

FREED: Monique Gregg coaches her daughter's ball team here in upstate Indiana in the 2nd Congressional District. The race is a tight one. And Gregg, who calls herself an independent, says she's tired of the Mark Foley story. She thinks Democrats across the country are making too much of the former lawmaker's reported sexual overtures to teenage former congressional pages.

GREGG: I think that they -- they see the Republicans, and they -- here is this person who is an anomaly to what they're preaching, per se, and they're just taking advantage of that situation, the -- the Democrats are.

FREED: However she votes, she says Foley won't have an impact.

The so-called married women with children demographic has been an important element of GOP support in recent years, but opinion polls suggest those moms are no longer holding Republicans dearest -- their support now evenly split with Democrats.

(on camera): How does the Foley factor play into your vote this time?

BETH O'CONNOR, INDEPENDENT VOTER: I don't think it really does.

FREED: Beth O'Connor is another independent voter.

O'CONNOR: I think it's an issue that is easy for us to get our hands around. We have some knowledge of how this should work, of decision making. So why wasn't anybody minding the store?

So it's got a lot of play, I think, because we understand it, but it's relatively low in my decision-making tree.

FREED: She says issues like abortion, education and immigration reform come first, and the GOP incumbent is trying to keep his campaign focused that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that we need to make sure we don't make this a political issue. We make this an issue of right and wrong, determine what happened, and make sure it never happens again.

FREED: Are you feeling a lift in your support since this story broke?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if there's a lift in -- you know, what we've tried to do is just focus on the fact that this is about children.

FREED: Back at the ball game, this Democrat believes the Foley fallout might help her candidate, but -- do you think it would be a big a factor as some people think it will?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I think the factor in this part of Indiana is going to be, where do you want yourself with the governor?

FREED: Now try a Republican.

When I say former Representative Mark Foley to you, what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That I'm not going to sway from voting how I normally vote. I'm going to stick to the real issues that are at hand.

FREED: Less than a month to go, and moms like these could prove to be a key swing vote in the battle to determine if the GOP keeps control of Congress.

Jonathan Freed, CNN, South Bend, Indiana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So let's see where our top story panel comes down on this. Joining me now, Michelle Bernard, president of the Independent Women's Forum; Carol Tabor, president of FamilySecurityMatters.org, pollster Kellyanne Conway, president and CEO of the Polling Company. Welcome all.

So, Carol, we've heard Jonathan describe these women perhaps as key swing voters. Are they really that influential?

CAROL TABER, FAMILYSECURITYMATTERS.ORG: Yes, they are. In the last election -- in fact, Kelly was the only one who did a poll that really captured the essence of who the security mom is, because she added a psychographic to the demographic measurement of women with children in the household. And that measurement...

ZAHN: I don't know what that means. What's a psychographic? And as you're saying that, I'm going to put up on the screen a graphic that will show in listing in the order of importance what the issues are to these women, and carry on with your thought.

TABER: OK. So psychographic is what's in your head. So she cross-tabbed that with women with children in the household, and it was women who cite terrorism as the number one issue in deciding their vote. And those women voted by a margin of 18 percent for George Bush, while Kerry won women overall by 3 percent, which came down (ph) to 14 percent in the last election. So yes, they're very big and powerful.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, PRESIDENT & CEO, THE POLLING COMPANY: All true, but a different situation this time, because according to that poll, Paula -- and I will point out, it has a margin of error of plus or minus 8 percent, because you're talking about a relatively small demographic when you're talking about all voters.

But that said, what's different now than -- from 2004 is terrorism was the No. 1 issue in '04; the situation in Iraq is the No. 1 issue now.

ZAHN: So are you saying to me that GOP then loses its hold on these women who would have been more inclined in the last election to vote Republican? Because they're not too crazy about how this war is again?

CONWAY: Not (inaudible), but the grip has slipped a little bit because the situation in Iraq is distinct in these voters' mind from the war on terror.

The war on terror is so important to them and was in '04, because they feel like they have a place, they have a role in the war on terror. That's homeland security. They could be patient at airports, they could be vigilant in neighborhood watches.

But I don't think that any of these ethics questions are going to subsume the issues that these women really care about, which are security and affordability.

ZAHN: Let me ask Michelle about that, because we did, as you saw with Jonathan Freed, some of our own informal polling, and people are very upset at what Congressman Foley is accused of doing. And then on top of that, you have got these corruption scandals involving other Republicans who have been forced out of office. So do you think those women, who aren't crazy about what has happened, might vote Democratic or sit out altogether? MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S FORUM: Well, you know, I think there's a very good chance we're going to see some women who decide not to vote at all this year. That's always a danger during the midterm elections. And one of the things we have to ask ourselves, are security moms and mortgage moms, as they've been dubbed by "The Washington Post," the same or, you know, are they mutually exclusive?

We've got, as we know, all issues are women's issues, and women are very, very concerned with national security, terrorism, education reform, Social Security, health care, and we have a Republican-led Congress which unfortunately has not had a good record over the last two years. So I think -- I believe that voters need a reason to vote, and I believe that what we will see in the future is that some voters are going to decide to stay at home and not vote this election.

It doesn't mean that we're going to see Republican women go out and vote for Democrats. I just think that we'll see some women who decide to stay home.

ZAHN: I guess we'll have our answer when everybody heads to the polls in a couple of weeks. Ladies, thank you so much. Michelle Bernard, Carol Taber, Kellyanne Conway, appreciate your time.

We want to go back to our top story in just a minute. This is breaking news out of North Korea: The first evidence of radioactivity around North Korea's nuclear test site. Once again, our government is saying evidence not proof, but we could have confirmation of that proof as early as tomorrow morning.

Please stay with us for a live report from South Korea. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And we go straight back to this hour's breaking news. Word that the U.S. now has some preliminary evidence of radioactivity from North Korea's nuclear test site. That is a big step towards confirming North Korean claims that they have tested a nuclear device that happened last Monday.

Dan Rivers joins us now from South Korea's capital city of Seoul, where it's going on 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Any reaction there to that news, Dan?

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, we've just been on the phone to the presidential office, the Blue House it's called here, and they say they have no comment at the moment.

Clearly, obviously it's Saturday morning over this side of the world, so most of the government officials are not in today. It's normally a weekend day, so they're not manned.

So we're going to try and get some sort of confirmation this morning here in the next couple of hours, but so far they have no comment on these reports coming out of the Pentagon that they are detecting radioactivity from the test site up near the city of Kilju in the northeast of North Korea.

It's a long way, several hundred miles from the capital city Seoul, so it may be that simply they haven't got the equipment they need here. They would have to probably have some sort of airplane or something offshore in North Korea to pick up any signs of radioactivity. Certainly, we haven't been told yet either way what they're finding here -- Paula.

ZAHN: What has been the official stance of the government? Have they bought into the North Korean claims since the beginning of the week that North Korea had in fact done a nuclear test?

RIVERS: Well, there's been a bit of confusion as to the size of the reported blast. Here in South Korea, they estimated it was 550 tons equivalent of explosives, which is very small, half of megaton. The U.S. and France also saying they thought it was less than one -- kiloton, sorry. But Russia is saying it was 100 percent certain it was a nuclear test and they think it was between five and 15 kilotons, much, much bigger. So there is disagreement between the main international players as to how big this blast was and whether we know for certain it was a nuclear blast, Paula?

ZAHN: Well, Dan Rivers, we appreciate that update from South Korea. And while you were talking to me, our producers were hard at work talking to our own Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, and he says he has just learned that there will be no official confirmation of this evidence or proof coming to us tonight, perhaps an announcement sometime tomorrow.

We move on now to tonight's top legal story. It is a shocking case of parents who want to give back their adopted boy, saying they weren't warned that his past could lead to serious behavioral problems.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Tonight's top story in law may sound absolutely heartless on its surface. A Virginia couple going to court to un-adopt a child they once promised to take care of. But the couple claims critical information was withheld about his past, information that might have warned them that the child would grow into a teenage terror. Here's Deborah Feyerick.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a small, simple room, but Helen Briggs says to the boy she adopted at age nine, a child who had nothing, this room was everything.

(on camera): You would catch him standing right here.

HELEN BRIGGS, ADOPTIVE MOM: Standing right here looking at his room, being so happy, so grateful that this was his room.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Briggs, who was a full-time foster mom, says the boy was different from the dozens of other children she had cared for over the years.

BRIGGS: I just wanted to give him more.

FEYERICK: The problems began three years ago, when her adopted son turned 12.

BRIGGS: I got calls from the school that he was drawing pictures on the wall, and that he was grabbing at little girls, and they wanted me -- they asked me, do you know what's wrong with him? No, I sure don't.

FEYERICK: Briggs says she had been told by case workers the boy was hyperactive and needed to take special medication. But when her adopted son was arrested for sexually molesting two small children, she realized the problems were far deeper.

BRIGGS: Not until he was incarcerated and I found a whole lot of things that he talked to me about. He told about he had been abused.

FEYERICK: So now Briggs and her husband James want out. Six years after becoming the boy's legal parents, the couple from Fairfax, Virginia, claim they were deceived and are fighting to terminate the adoption.

(on camera): Did they tell you he had been in foster care five times?

BRIGGS: No.

FEYERICK: Did they tell you he had been abused in any way?

BRIGGS: No.

FEYERICK: Did they tell you that there was evidence that perhaps he had even suffered some sort of brain trauma?

BRIGGS: No.

FEYERICK: Foster care agencies in Virginia do not discuss specific cases. By law, they're supposed to tell prospective parents everything about a child. That would have included the boy's alleged history of psychiatric problems.

BRIGGS: I call it fraud. Not giving information is fraud, not telling a person everything, is fraud.

FEYERICK: But there's also the question of money, though the couple says it's not about that. The state was paying the Briggs approximately $350 month. Now the family is paying the state $440 to may maintain the child in a state institution, a sum they can ill afford.

BRIGGS: That's a car payment, OK? That's more than a car payment in some places.

FEYERICK (on camera): There are some people who are going to look at this, and they're going to say, look, when you become a parent, you don't know whether you've got a good penny or a bad penny.

BRIGGS: It's not about bad pennies or good pennies. The point is he's not my biological penny.

FEYERICK: Under Virginia law, the only way an adoption can be dissolved is if the child says OK and so far it seems the boy has said he wants to stay with his adopted mom and dad. Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So do the Briggs have an obligation to keep this child? Let's go to our top story panel. Maris Blechner is vice president of the North American Council on Adoptable Children. Thais Tepper is go- founder of the Parent Network for the Post-Institutional Child. And Joe Soll, a clinical social worker who was also adopted as a child.

Welcome all. Maris, we heard the mother in this piece say this is really not a good penny or a bad penny, it's not my biological penny. I saw you wince when you heard her say that.

MARIS BLECHNER, VICE PRESIDENT, NORTH AMERICAN COUNCIL ON ADOPTABLE CHILDREN: Well, I have two adoptive children and a birth child. And to me, all three of them are my children. So it's hard for me to hear that and not react to it.

ZAHN: And Joe, I know it was hard for you to hear that as well. You yourself, as we mentioned, were an adopted child. But you heard the heartbreak of these parents saying that they were defrauded, that none of the case workers told them anything about this child's background. Should they have the right then to un-adopt him?

JOE SOLL, SOCIAL WORKER: It's criminal that they weren't told. They had a right to know, but you don't give back children. What would they do if they gave birth to this child, give him back to God? Love is not a switch that you turn on and off. You love your child and take care of your child.

ZAHN: Is there any other option this family could have explored? They clearly can't take care of this young man themselves.

SOLL: I think that this child should have gotten help years and years ago, which isn't the fault of this new family. But once you take a child into your home, you have an obligation to make sure the child is OK, no matter what.

ZAHN: Thais, we heard from a counselor working with this young man and he said since his unadoption and his return to foster care, that he feels unloved, that he doesn't feel like he even belongs in this world. What chance does this kid have now for any kind of a life?

THAIS TEPPER, ADVOCATES FOR ADOPTEES: I don't know. The story that I heard here tonight is similar to maybe dozens of stories I heard in the past, and I don't think the situation is unusual. Unfortunately, you know, I guess these children may get lost in the system or become homeless or end up incarcerated as an adult. And, you know, it is a shame, but this -- there should have been pre- adoption training for the parent and definitely post-adoption support, you know, to avoid this situation.

ZAHN: And Maris, what is your concern about other people in America who have heard this story and that this in some way may think it gives them permission to un-adopt the children who have problems who perhaps developed far into the adoption proceeding?

BLECHNER: Well, your question goes right to the heart of what adoption really is. Perhaps somebody can un-adopt legally, but those of us in adoption who are adoptive parents -- and I have a birth child, too -- we know that when you adopt a child, you're staking the same claim as a biological parent. Our children are our children 100 percent. I would hate to think that people who are looking to adopt would think that you can do it casually.

ZAHN: Do you fear people weasel out of adoptions because they get a kid that doesn't live up to their expectations, Joe?

SOLL: There are a lot of people who are unhappy with the children they adopt, because they expect them to be like them, which they can't be because temperament is genetically predisposed, high predisposed.

I think there is another issue here. I don't know if one school in the country that teaches adoption and foster care issues. And all these case workers are trying to do a job without being trained, and this boy slipped through the cracks.

And your comment a few moments ago, he feels unlovable -- of course, he has proof. Every time he got moved from one home to another, it's proof to him that he's not lovable. What do you do with that? You act out. It's not his fault. He's not a bad kid. He was treated badly.

ZAHN: Well, one thing is clear with this story, everybody was a loser in this one. It's very hard to see that happen.

Maris Blechner, Thais Tepper, Joe Soll, thank you all. Appreciate you dropping by.

Right now, we're going to take a quick biz break. The Dow hit another record high today, closer still to the Dow 12,000, just a little bit away.

The Industrials closed the day nearly 13 points higher, the Nasdaq added 11 points, and the S&P up 2 points.

A Pennsylvania jury today ordered Wal-Mart to pay more than $78 million in damages for forcing employees to work off the clock or during rest breaks.

This year's Nobel Peace Prize winner was announced today. He's from Bangladesh, and what he's doing makes him a person you should know. His story is coming up. Please stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: In tonight's edition of "People You Should Know," you're about to meet a rather unusual banker, who learned today that he is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Here's Paula Newton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a surprise choice, but an inspiring one, too. Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded are this year's Nobel Peace Prize winners.

It is a testament to the power of an idea, one man's idea that credit should be a human right. In the '70s, this economist became a banker to the poor in his native Bangladesh, issuing micro loans, as small as $25, in the hope that self-employment would lead to self- sufficiency.

MUHAMMAD YUNUS, GRAMEEN BANK: To earn yourself a living, raising a cow, processing rice, raising chickens, and basket making -- things that are very primitive, nothing fancy.

NEWTON: It may not be fancy, but it has become revolutionary. Not just in Bangladesh. Micro credit has changed the lives of millions around the world, especially women, who make up about 96 percent of his borrowers.

The bank is not a charity, it's a business that's loaned billions, and nearly every one of those loans is repaid.

Now the Nobel Committee has recognized that Yunus' passionate vision has the potential to not just wipe out poverty, but build peace.

YUNUS: It builds you the confidence the whole world can do that. If Grameen Bank can do that, the whole world can do that.

NEWTON: Yunus himself says he's delighted the Nobel Committee has endorsed his dream of a poverty-free world, hoping this will convince more people that without poverty, peace will prevail.

Paula Newton, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: More breaking news tonight for you. The U.S. now has evidence that North Korea did perform a nuclear test on Monday. We just got this statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It says: "Preliminary analysis of air samples collected on October 11th have actually detected radioactive debris consistent with a North Korean nuclear test." It goes on to say, "more tests will be completed over the next couple of days," and of course if there's any more information that comes our way and it's relevant, we will bring it to you tonight.

Please stay with CNN for more on this breaking story.

That wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for joining us. We hope you have a great weekend. We'll be back here Monday night. Good night.

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

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