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CNN NEWSROOM

Anger and Fury Boiling in Beirut; Battle Over Iraq War; Teenage Soldiers

Aired January 25, 2007 - 11:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You're with CNN. You're informed.
I'm Tony Harris.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Heidi Collins today.

Developments keep coming in to the NEWSROOM on this Thursday, January 25th.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Anger and fury boiling in Beirut. Students on the streets fighting over the future of their country. That developing story in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: A crime from the civil rights era. This hour, a former Mississippi law man in court to face charges. We also hear from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

WHITFIELD: A new weapon of war. Not much to look at, but this thing can zap an enemy with an invisible heat ray.

Hot flash in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And once again, we want to bring you the very latest on clashes going on in Lebanon, deadly clashes between rival students in Beirut. Battles between those who back the Lebanese government and those who do not.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson is in Beirut, and he joins us live on the phone.

Nic, I have to ask you, when last we spoke with you, you were just outside of the gates of the university that has been at the center of today's demonstrations. And you were describing a scene -- well, let me have you describe the scene as you see it right now.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There does seem to be a degree of calm returning to this particular entrance to the university. The soldiers now are in greater numbers around the gates of the university. The young men who have been throwing rocks and sticks over the wall of the university towards the -- towards the rival group have backed away, have seemed to have calmed down at the moment. A large fire truck was driven into the university compound to put out the huge fire that was billowing black smoke.

We followed it in. There were several buses aligned there. The firefighters appear to have put that out. But while we were in there, we could hear gunfire erupt from another area of the university.

Again, not clear who was firing. But what we have seen unfold here in the last couple of hours, the army, the Lebanese army, come in to try to get between young Shias and young Sunnis who have been fighting with rocks.

The army has been shooting their automatic weapons into the air to try and separate the two sides. And right now, at this particular gate, there is an uneasy calm.

The crowds are still here. Tempers seemed to have cooled off a little. The army is here in greater numbers. But the gunfire, I heard from another part of the university, that was just a couple of minutes ago.

The situation still seems far from over. But at the moment, this area at least, slightly calmer than about half an hour ago -- Tony.

HARRIS: Nic, I'm going to ask you, if you would, to describe the demeanor of the police in handling this situation. It sounds like they've done a really good job of keeping this situation contained and not allowing it to escalate, and not allowing their own potentially aggressive action to turn this situation into something that could be far more deadly.

ROBERTSON: Indeed. The Lebanese police have been coming in behind the army where calm is restored. The police have been setting up roadblocks and checkpoints to keep people back. But where the situation has been at its most tense, the army has come between the two sides.

And the way they have done it is to put a small number, a tiny number of soldiers between the two sides, keeping a much larger number of troops in reserve, down the back alleys, waiting to bring them in. They seemed to have played this in such a way as not to inflame passions by flooding the situation, by appearing to take sides, but just to be a very thin red line between the two sides, forcing both sides back.

Talking to them, I saw an officer when gunfire was going off addressing the crowd. He didn't have a flak jacket on. He didn't have a helmet on. There were rocks being thrown, and he addressing the crowd, appeared to be telling them to calm down.

The army was praised earlier in this week for dealing with the national demonstrations in an unbiased way, neither pro nor anti- government, neither pro nor anti-Hezbollah. And that appears to have been the situation again in the early evening here in Beirut. The army taking a very unpartisan, a very middle-of-the-road position here -- Tony.

HARRIS: And Nic, you mention the national strike from earlier in the week. If you would, paint for us a bit of the backdrop for what we're seeing today.

ROBERTSON: The Hezbollah-led opposition called a national strike here two days ago. That brought the country to a standstill. The airport was closed, more than three people killed, more than 100 wounded.

Burning fires were lit in the roads from cars, from tires. It inflamed not just pro and anti-government passions, but it inflamed and reignited old sectarian tensions from the 1975 to 1990 civil war.

That worried people here immensely to see those tensions flare again. So the fighting was not along pro and anti-government lines, but along these old sectarian lines. The flare-up of fighting this evening at the university, no doubt, made it much easier to start when those tensions raised earlier in the week.

The Lebanese army earlier in the week was able to restorm calm. Calm was returned for about 36 hours until this outbreak of violence at the university. That appears to be contained.

It would be wrong to say the situation is entirely calm, but it is contained right now. Whether it spreads elsewhere is a very, very big concern for the Lebanese army and the police tonight -- Tony.

HARRIS: Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, on the phone with us from Beirut, Lebanon.

Nic, thank you.

WHITFIELD: And so while they battle in Beirut, international donors are gathering in Paris to raise money for Lebanon. They're pledging more than $7.5 billion for the war-scarred country.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined officials from more than 30 nations chipping in. She says President Bush will ask Congress to approve a grant of $770 million for Lebanon's long-term redevelopment and rebuilding from last summer's battle between Hezbollah and Israel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: But the future of Lebanon is important not only to the people of Lebanon, but also to the future of a troubled region, because, Mr. Prime Minister, we know that the people of Lebanon want a Lebanon that is peaceful, unified, that respects Lebanon's great cultural and religious diversity. And that shows that people who are different do not take that difference as a license to kill, but rather as a license to live together in peace and honor and prosperity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And for more on Beirut and the Shiite opposition, Hezbollah, here is a CNN "Fact Check."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Hezbollah -- the name means "party of god" -- was created in response to the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982. Hezbollah has close ties to both Iran and Syria and is considered a terrorist group by the Bush administration.

Regarding the current fighting between Hezbollah militants and Israeli forces, Hezbollah political leader Hassan Nasrallah insists Hezbollah is only defending Lebanon. Hezbollah has scored big political gains in recent years by providing Shiites with social and agricultural services and operating schools and hospitals in areas it controls in Lebanon.

In last year's elections Hezbollah added eight seats to the 15 it already controlled in Lebanon's parliament. The group also has two ministers in the government.

Hezbollah's base is in Lebanon Shiite-dominated areas, including parts of Beirut, southern Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley.

U.S. intelligence reports say that Hezbollah cells are present in North and South America, Europe, and Africa. Analysts say the group's key terrorist planner is Imad Fayez Muginyah.

Hezbollah has been blamed for nearly 200 terrorist attacks that killed more than 800 people since 1982. It's estimated that Hezbollah now has a force of 5,000 to 6,000 fighters and claims to have 12,000 missiles and an arsenal of assault rifles, landmines, light artillery, anti-aircraft guns, and aircraft drones.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: U.S. and Iraqi troops launch a security crackdown in Baghdad and insurgents strike back with a vengeance.

Moments ago, the Iraqi Interior Ministry confirmed a suicide car bomb in central Baghdad killed at least 20 people and wounded 20 others today. And smoke rising this morning from the heavily fortified Green Zone. Two mortar shells slammed into the area which houses the U.S. Embassy and other key government buildings.

A number of other attacks have erupted across the capital. Here, a bomb planted on a motorcycle exploded in a market. The toll, four dead, 20 wounded. The site is not far from where attacks Monday killed at least 88 people.

Also today, dual roadside bombs exploded in western Baghdad. Two people killed, 10 wounded. The target, a busy commercial area.

WHITFIELD: The war in Iraq fueling a major battle in Washington. Senators going on the record and against the president over his plan to send more troops.

Live to CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, we saw a lot of action yesterday. Where do things stand today on these resolutions? DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right, yesterday what we saw in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was a 12-9 vote rebuking the president and his plan to send more troops to Iraq. And essentially the resolution said it is not in the national interest of the United States to do that. That was a nonbinding resolution, meaning it has no force of law.

Today what we're seeing in that same committee is a discussion about something that Congress can do, something tangible, and that is potentially withhold funding for the Iraq mission. What they're talking about is reconstruction aid to Iraq, whether or not the $1.2 billion that the president is going to request in additional money for that is wise to even be addressed and be approved by the United States Congress.

But big picture, Fredricka, what everybody in the Senate is working on and talking about is what happens next week, when that nonbinding resolution goes for a debate and vote on the Senate floor. Senator John McCain is somebody who actually has supported the idea of sending more troops to Iraq for quite some time. Today in another hearing room, he says it's the last chance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It is not certain that this new approach will succeed. The only guarantee is that if we do not try, we will fail for certain. And it's imperative that we understand the likely consequences of failure, and it's imperative that we understand that.

I hope our witnesses will share their views on this matter. But already, many experts have predicted a failed state in Iraq, with extreme levels of sectarian violence well beyond those we see today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, the argument that Senator McCain and allies of the White House are making here in Congress is that passing a resolution that opposes the president's plan will send a bad signal to U.S. troops in Iraq and to America's enemies. But they are really up against something that -- it's going to be a tough road to hoe for them, because one of the Republicans supporting another resolution is Senator John Warner.

He is somebody who is a very influential voice here in Congress. He simply disagrees with the president. He has his resolution he will put on the Senate floor next week.

And even the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, says he understands that what Senator Warner and other Republicans are looking at are public opinion polls that just say the public is not supportive of sending more troops now. They're going to try to find another resolution that maybe takes the sting out of what might come, and that would be a repudiation of the president. But they're working on trying to find out just how to do that right now -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Dana Bash, thanks so much, from the Hill -- Tony.

HARRIS: Straight out of high school, right into war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to kind of grow up and mature quick, because if you act like a little kid over here, it might get someone hurt, you know, pretty bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Teenage troops seeing more in a day than many see in a lifetime.

That story ahead in the NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: Buck Rogers had a dinky (ph) handheld ray gun, right? Well, the U.S. military has a version the size of a Howitzer. So how does this ray gun do?

The answer coming up in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Hit the sauce, the hot. Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a new fad diet that is melting away the pounds, in the NEWSROOM. .

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: So they've gone from the football fields of high school glory to the killing fields of Iraq's bloodiest street battles. Teenage soldiers, plucked from the innocence of American youth, plunged into the horrors of war.

CNN's Michael Holmes has their story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Place yourself here if you can here, Haifa Street in Baghdad, earlier this month. Now imagine you're 18, 19 years old. Perhaps just a year or so out of high school. From the heat of battle to routine patrol, from teenager to war veteran.

SPEC. JESUS BECERRA, U.S. ARMY: Going to be dreaming about it a lot, nightmares and stuff. You miss your family a lot. You think about them every day. Especially when you go out on a mission. You don't know what's going to happen. It could be your last mission every day. Kind of messes with your mind a little.

HOLMES: Back on base, boys will be boys.

(on camera): So what's with being in a war zone and playing war games?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't get enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's fun. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't get enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Private First Class Ben Squires from Michigan, just turned 20, has had to pull the trigger more than once and deals with the unknown every day.

PFC BEN SQUIRES, U.S. ARMY: Yes, sometimes. I mean, you have to know whether a car is, you know, coming up behind you, whether or not they're going to try to blow you up or whether they're just not paying attention.

HOLMES: Sergeant Cody O'Brien signed up at 17. Six months later he was here. Now 21, he's a sergeant on his second tour in Iraq.

SGT. CODY O'BRIEN, U.S. ARMY: You've got to kind of grow up and mature quick, because if you act like a little kid over here it might get someone hurt, you know, pretty bad.

HOLMES: Most of these young men told us they were trained for the realities on the ground here. Some said the toughest thing was not being able to have a legal beer when on leave.

BECERRA: They messed up -- we're going to go to war and we can't even go to a bar and have fun before we come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They talk tough like it's all routine stuff, but their commander says they see things few young men do. He tells of teenage soldiers having to scrub their vehicle of the blood of wounded or dead friends.

LT. COL. AVANULAS SMILEY, U.S. ARMY: The things that the soldiers go through here, your average American at that age, at that kind of wisdom, and experience and education, isn't seeing what these soldiers see here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You kind of grow up a little quicker. You kind of have to.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And so Michael Holmes with us now from Baghdad.

So besides those electronic war games, Michael, that they were playing, is there any other way that these young soldiers are able to decompress?

HOLMES: I think it's interesting watching them on the bases, Fredricka, as they sort of goof around. They are teenagers when they're inside the FOBs, or Forward Operating Bases.

They tend to hang out together, they tend to have a good time. What's interesting is the so-called older soldiers are probably 21 or 22, and they look up to them and they hang out together as well. The transformation when they go outside the base is really quite startling, however. WHITFIELD: Yes. And these young kids, at least one of them, you said he already has gone back home and this is at least his second tour of duty.

Did you find that to be the case with a lot of the young teens?

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, well, the teenagers, some of them -- well, I met one guy who's 20. He was on his second tour. And I met another one who's 22, on his third tour.

WHITFIELD: Wow.

HOLMES: And he joined up when he was 17, literally out of high school. And there's one guy here, we didn't get to catch up with him. He was on a different base. He's still 17.

He's not allowed to go what they call in the military outside the wire. That's outside the base on missions or operations, until he actually turns 18. But he's here in Iraq, 17 years of age.

Think about that.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And early on in the war, the average age was about 21, 22, for many of the soldiers who have been deployed there and doing these tours of duty.

Still the case?

HOLMES: Yes. That probably is still the case.

What's interesting is, when you do averages, of course, you're counting in all the senior guys who are 40 and 30 and the like.

WHITFIELD: Right.

HOLMES: What's interesting is, I can tell you, according to the Department of Defense figures, around 10,000 or so troops here, that includes soldiers and Marines, are under the age of -- are 19 or under. And I'll tell you, I've been in a couple of tight spots with these guys, and they're professionals.

I'll tell you, they're not kids when they're out there manning the guns and essentially looking after us as well. They're very much grownups.

WHITFIELD: Yes. If you're not grown up upon deployment, you definitely grow up there.

HOLMES: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Michael Holmes, thanks so much, from Baghdad.

HARRIS: Iraq, the battleground for U.S. troops, the testing ground for the political firepower of the White House. The road ahead, through the eyes of a Middle East expert. He joins us in the NEWSROOM. Poor on the hot sauce.

WHITFIELD: I like that.

HARRIS: You hungry? They burn out your taste buds. All right. One doctor says it worked for him, but is it really the right prescription for you if you want to drop some pounds?

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Put some fire in your mouth. And take off the inches from your waist.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at the science of hot sauce.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dr. Spiro Antoniades is a runner, but he didn't always have a runner's body. Last year, he weighed 265 pounds.

He decided to make himself suffer for eating the wrong things. So before every meal, he downed a shot of hot sauce.

DR. SPIRO ANTONIADES, "HOT SAUCE DIET": It kind of slows me down. It shocks me a little bit and it makes me drink some water and it calms down my abnormal appetites.

GUPTA: Dr. Antoniades is now 70 pounds lighter. He's an orthopedic surgeon who shares his hot sauce diet with other doctors.

Now, it doesn't really have any science behind it, but some think it works by tricking the mind. If you have a dose of hot sauce every time you eat junk food, you'll avoid the junk food to avoid the pain.

DR. CLIFFORD WOOLF, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: One of the major features of pain is to learn to avoid danger. And by taking a swig of Tabasco, you're switching on that avoidance mechanism.

GUPTA: Researchers say a chemical in hot peppers causes that burning sensation. It's called capsaicin. They already know it can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, even fight some cancers. Now they found that burning sensation of arthritis is likely the discomfort you feel after eating chili peppers. Those similarities could help scientists zero in on what really causes arthritic pain and lead to the development of better painkillers.

WOOLF: The current analgesics in many patients do not actually reduce their pain. And the other is, many of them have excessive side-effects.

GUPTA: And scientists are studying more hot stuff, like wasabi and hot mustard, to see how those might also unravel the puzzle of pain. As for Dr. Antoniades, he thinks he's solved his weight problem -- a dose of hot sauce, a little pain, and no weight gain.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And to get your "Daily Dose" of health news online, log on to our Web site. You will find the latest medical news, a health library, and information on diet and fitness and hot sauce. The address: cnn.com/health.

WHITFIELD: Well, this interview was sizzling, if you caught it. The question Vice President Dick Cheney refused to answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think, frankly, you're out of line with that question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So what was the question? Well, everyone is talking about it. Wolf Blitzer's tension-filled exchange, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

And murders in Mississippi. Has a cold case been cracked? A suspect arrested in connection with two civil rights-era killings.

We are awaiting a news conference from the Department of Justice in a few minutes. We'll bring that to you live as it happens.

HARRIS: Fury filling Beirut's streets today. Students fighting over the future of Lebanon. A developing story we're watching in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

WHITFIELD: And from the NEWSROOM, we continue to follow the developments out of Beirut, Lebanon, where at the Beirut Arab University clashes continue. We've been hearing our reports from senior international correspondent Nic Robertson who says they have contained the violence there, but that does not mean that it's over. Students clashing over support or opposition to the government there, clashing violently. It's led to about two dozen injuries and reports of one student dying. Right there in downtown Beirut. We continue to watch it. As we get more developments, we'll bring it to you.

HARRIS: Another story we are following this morning, two black teens kidnapped and killed in Mississippi. Today, 43 years later, a suspect goes to court. A Justice Department news conference is on the case, it's set to begin any minute now. We'll have that live for you in the NEWSROOM. Former Sheriff's Deputy James Ford Seale is charged in connection with the disappearance and deaths of the teens. Authorities say Charles Moore and Henry Dee were kidnapped while hitchhiking near an ice cream stand in 1964. Their bodies found were in the Mississippi River. Seale and another suspect were arrested but a justice of the peace threw out the charges.

WHITFIELD: U.S. and Iraqi troops launch a security crackdown in Baghdad. And insurgents strike back with a vengeance. An Iraqi interior ministry official says a suicide car bomb killed in central Baghdad killed at least 20 people and wounded 20 others today. And smoke rising this morning from the heavily fortified green zone. Two mortar shells slammed into the area which houses the U.S. embassy and other key government buildings. A number of other attacks have erupted across the capital.

Here, a bomb planted on a motorbike exploded in a market. The toll, four dead, 20 wounded. The fight is not far from where attacks Monday killed at least 88 people. Also today, dual roadside bombs exploded in western Baghdad, two people killed, 10 wounded, the target -- a busy commercial area.

HARRIS: The future of Iraq, the vision very sharply between the White House and Congress. That was acutely clear in a CNN interview with Vice President Dick Cheney. Let's take a closer look now.

Richard Haass is a former State Department official. He served as the principal Mideast adviser to the first President Bush. He is now president of the Council on Foreign Relations now, and he joins us today from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Richard, great to talk to you. Thanks for your time.

It appears that the only check on this administration's war effort in Iraq is going to be Congress taking some kind of effort to cut off funding.

Richard, if you would, listen to Vice President Dick Cheney in his conversation yesterday with our Wolf Blitzer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: It won't stop you us, and it would be, I think, detrimental from the standpoint of the troops.

BLITZER: So you're moving forward no matter what the Congress...

CHENEY: We are moving forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Richard, where does this leave the country and the Congress in terms of having some kind of influence with this administration with respect to the war effort in Iraq?

RICHARD HAASS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, essentially what you said is right, the only way Congress can fundamentally change the policy would be by cutting off funding. They're not about to do that. What their influence then becomes is, in part, a reflection of the November election. It clearly pushed the administration towards a different approach. Then you've got the power of hearings, such as you saw before the Senate this week. And then top of that, I think simply the administration understands that Congress will be a critic, and it probably shortens, to some extent, the time the administration has to have this surge work its course.

HAASS: Wolf asked the vice president yesterday about a nightmare scenario, that is different than the nightmare scenario of what would happen in Iraq if American forces pull out. His scenario, Wolf's scenario, was different than the one the administration put out and laid out for us. I want you to have a listen to the exchange between the vice president and Wolf Blitzer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: How worried are you of this nightmare scenario, that the U.S. is building up this Shiite-dominated Iraqi government with enormous amount of military equipment, sophisticated training, and then in the end they're going to turn against the United States?

CHENEY: Wolf, that's not going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Richard, the absolute certainty with respect to the vice president, that there seems to be only one scenario, and it is the scenario that the administration lays out, what do you make of it?

HAASS: Well, there's lots of scenarios. One is the one I think the administration is right to lay out, saying that if the United States were to leave overnight, it would dramatically increase the odds not just of an all-out civil war and disintegration but of a regional war.

What Wolf talks about, it's also a possibility, essentially that you have a sectarian government, more Shia than national, that essentially plays an unhelpful role in the region, though, quite honestly, if that were the case, it would almost certainly lead to civil war with the Sunnis, and again, the regional countries would get involved.

The third scenario is actually just a messy Iraq, essentially one that looks a little bit like we see now -- a weak central government, a relatively calm north, where the Kurds are, and continued violence in the center. If I were to bet, I'd actually bet that's the most likely outcome.

HARRIS: Richard, and I apologize, I have to cut our time together short. We need to get to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in Washington.

Richard Haass, we appreciate it. Thank you.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS) ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. ATTY. GEN.: ... kidnaped by a group of men that included James Seale. Henry Dee was a civil rights activist. Charles Moore was his friend. Their captors were White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Dee and Moore were beaten by captors, then transported and finally forcibly drowned by being thrown into the Old Mississippi River, tied to heavy objects alleged to have included an engine block, iron weights and railroad ties.

These allegations are a painful reminder of a terrible time in our country, a time when some people viewed their fellow Americans as inferior, and as a threat, based only on the color of their skin.

We haven't solved all of the problems of racism in this country. Our society is not yet perfect, but our country has made progress, far beyond those times of hate, fear and brutality.

And part of moving forward comes through addressing as best we can and as soon as we can, the terrible crimes of the past. There was no statute of limitations for this crime, and there is no statute of limitations on the pain in the human heart or the memory of the appalling things that were done in cases like this one.

For those reasons, U.S. attorney Dunn Lampton initiated a task force composed of federal and state and law enforcement authorities to examine all available evidence and determine whether any perpetrators could be identified and charged. The case was subsequently investigated by the FBI field office in Jackson, Mississippi. It is being prosecuted by U.S. attorney Lampton, and attorneys from the civil rights division, special litigation counsel Paige Fitzgerald and trial attorney Eric Gibson.

Public and governmental interests in the murders of Moore and Dee had been renewed by the activism of the brother of one of the victims. That brother, Thomas Moore, is here with us today.

Thank you, Mr. Moore, for your tireless work of keeping your brother's memory alive, and not allowing people to forget this crime. We are also joined by Thelma Collins, sister of Henry Dee. We appreciate you coming as well to be with us today. This case is an example of the administration's commitment to investigating prosecuting civil rights-era homicides, where evidence supports prosecution and federal jurisdiction can be established.

It is the privilege and a solemn duty of the professionals here at the department to enforce our civil rights laws, to protect the civil rights of all Americans. It is a responsibility that means a lot to me on a personal level, and I take pride in the hard work put into this and many other cases. The work put into civil rights cases from beginning to end is some of the most meaningful that we know in government.

We would much prefer, of course, that justice had been served 40 years ago in this case. But what we are doing today, bringing closure to this horrible crime by trying this case through a public trial, should serve as notice to those who would violate the civil rights of their fellow citizens. We will pursue you as long as it takes and as long as the law allows. Whenever it comes, justice is always welcomed.

Now, we will hear from Bob Mueller, and then we'll e happy to take your questions -- Bob.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: According to the indictment returned in this case in late spring of 1964, Henry Dee and Charlie Moore, both age 19, both African-American, were kidnapped by members of the Ku Klux Klan and then beaten. And then while still alive, their bodies were tied with weights, pushed into a river, and they were left to drown.

As the attorney general has described, this was a horrible crime, inflicted with stunning disregard for the suffering of the victims. Now James Seale will stand trial, accused of the kidnapping and murder of these two teenagers, Dee and Moore. He is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and will have his trial.

These tragic murders are straight from among the darkest page of our country's history. And while sadly we cannot right the wrongs of the past, we can pursue justice to the end. And we will, no matter how long it takes until every living suspect is called to answer for their crimes.

This investigation was a result of the incorporated work of current FBI, agents along with five former FBI agents, who originally were assigned to the matter in the 1960s. We're also grateful for the assistance of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office and Mississippi Highway Patrol in conducting this investigation.

Forty years ago, the system failed. We in the FBI have a responsibility to investigate these cold case civil rights-era murders, where evidence still exists to bring both closure and justice to these cases that, for many, remain unhealed wounds to this day.

Thank you, general.

GONZALES: OK. Questions?

QUESTION: Why was Mr. Seale not charged with murder? And a follow-up, why is Mr. Edwards, who is said to have accompanied Mr. Seale in the initial kidnapping, not being charged at all?

GONZALES: As to the second question, that goes beyond the facts that are recited in the indictment. I'm just not going to get into that. And as for the first question, we looked at the evidence, we looked at the law, and we believe that the indictment reflects the charges that are appropriate here, and that the charges we can prove.

QUESTION: Is that to say you didn't have evidence that he was actually the one who was dumping the two men into the river?

GONZALES: Well, I'm not going to get beyond the facts in the indictment. We looked -- we have looked at the evidence in this case very, very carefully. These are very, very difficult cases to make. Based upon the information that we have available to us, and based upon the prosecutorial judgment of career professionals, these are the charges. The charges reflected in the indictment are the charges we believe we can prove in a court of law. We look forward to proving the case to the jury and proving the case.

QUESTION: Attorney general, can you explain to us how the federal government has jurisdiction here? And why it was thought that it did not have jurisdiction in 1964?

WHITFIELD: You're listening to the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, as well as the FBI director, Bob Mueller, explain the charges being imposed against a now 71-year-old man in relation to a more than 40-year-old case. And, you know, you're hearing the charges of two counts of kidnapping, resulting in death and conspiracy against 71-year-old James Ford Seale in connection with the deaths of then two 19-year-old black teens, who were kidnapped as well as dumped into the Old Mississippi River. And you heard from the attorney general, explaining that there is no statute of limitations on murder. And so, if found guilty, James Ford Seale would face live in prison.

And of course, if you want to hear more of this press conference, still ongoing, you can check in with CNN.com/pipeline.

Meantime, Buck Rogers had a dinky handheld ray gun. Remember that? Well, the U.S. military has a version the size of a howitzer. How does this ray gun work? The answer coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: "YOUR WORLD TODAY" is coming up. Hala Gorani is in the control room.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Fredricka, and Tony. Well, a lot going on today around the globe, especially in Beirut. Beirut burning again this day, all-out clashes breaking out between students of rival factions in Beirut University. Is this all pushing Lebanon one step closer to the brink? We'll go live to the Lebanese capital. We'll speak to the interior minister, the finance minister and other players on the ground. So tune in for that.

Also, Adnan Pachaci, the Iraqi elder statesman, member of the Iraqi National Assembly, we'll ask him, will the Bush plan, or any plan for that matter, turn things around in Iraq? Join us at noon Eastern, top of the hour for "YOUR WORLD TODAY." The news from around the globe as it happens. Back to you guys.

HARRIS: Thank you, Hala.

And this just in to CNN. The Associated Press is reporting that a 101st Airborne Division soldier has pleaded guilty to murder charges in connection with the deaths of three detainees in Iraq. We are still working to get more information on this story.

But once again, just in to CNN, according to the Associated Press, a 101st Airborne Division soldier has pleaded guilty to murder charges in the deaths of three detainees in Iraq. We'll get you more information on this and bring it to you as soon as we can. WHITFIELD: And now, this, which is fairly new to the U.S. military arsenal. A ray gun, but it's not quite like the comic book version. In fact, it may open a new chapter in controlling riots and maybe capturing battlefields.

The details from reporter Roxanna Haynes from CNN affiliate WCTV in Tallahassee, Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROXANNA HAYNES, WCTV REPORTER (voice-over): This mock riot demonstrates the power of a nonlethal weapon sitting 500 meters away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nonlethal weapons are a valuable tool to help the war fighter minimize collateral damage and the killing of innocents.

HAYNES: It may also be used to replace traditional methods.

COL. JOHN R. DECKNICK, U.S. ARMY: Rubber pellets, pepper spray, riot batons involve getting closer. And if you're close, then you're in danger. Distance and shielding is the key.

HAYNES (on camera): This active denial system is the first nonlethal weapon of its kind. When directed towards a target, it produces an unbearable heat sensation.

(voice-over): Producing millimeter waves at a frequency of 95 gigahertz, using an antenna to direct and shoot an invisible energy beam, giving airmen who fight on the front lines more options that will hopefully bring the number of war casualties down.

UNIDENTFIED MALE: If we're able to utilize this, and they're not hostile, that takes away a lot of threat. I believe it will be a great asset over there, especially at the gates and on the perimeter.

HAYNES: This weapon does not cause injury. And extensive tests show there are no side effects.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Did she squeak?

WHITFIELD: And they said it was nothing like the comic book version. But I don't know. It Made me laugh.

HARRIS: That was a comic book moment, wasn't it?

WHITFIELD: Yes, it was.

HARRIS: We have got some new details about a credit card data breach involving T.J. Maxx customers. We will check in on this story and all of the other business news with Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange after the break here in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS: You remember last week we told you about a huge data breach at T.J. Maxx. Now there are indications that it was in fact fraud.

Let's check in now with Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange.

Hello, Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Tony. That fraud unfortunately seems to be widespread. The Massachusetts Bankers Association says fraudulent purchases have surfaced in several states including Florida, Georgia and Louisiana, as well as in Hong Kong and Sweden.

The purchases used credit and debit card information stolen from TJX, which owns the T.J. Maxx, Marshall's, Bob's, Home Goods and A.J. Wright discount chains. The MBA doesn't say how many accounts were compromised. You may remember TJX said last week that hackers broke into their computer systems and had potentially had access to information on transactions involving credit cards, debit cards and even returns.

And I know at least one colleague who shops there a lot, Tony. You know the same colleague, who was worried, frankly, when we first reported this news.

HARRIS: Yes. You know, while we're -- that is a little frightening. So while we're talking a lot about debit cards here, I understand that overdraft fees, hitting new highs, Susan?

LISOVICZ: Getting nickeled and dimed. This one is interesting because this is a recent trend. It's getting costlier to make a mistake. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, more banks are charging fees to customers who overdraw their bank accounts, even with small debit card transactions. The average fee for overdrawing your account by check or debit hit a record $27.40 last year...

HARRIS: Ouch.

LISOVICZ: ... according to bankrate.com -- that's right. And that's up 11 percent from five years before.

Here's what's really costing consumers. A few years ago, you would only see one of these fees if you bounced a check. Debit card purchases were simply rejected if accounts had too little money. But the Lending Group says more banks are now allowing customers to overdraw with debit card purchases and at ATMs, then hitting them with hefty fees. And what's happening we're paying more for everything with debit cards, small purchases. And the banks are hitting us each time if you're overdrawn. It adds up.

HARRIS: Man.

LISOVICZ: Let the buyer beware. OK.

And this I'm going to toss right back to you. We're out of time, Tony.

HARRIS: We're out of time? We didn't get a chance to check the markets. All right, we'll do that.

LISOVICZ: They're down, they're down.

HARRIS: We'll do that in the afternoon in the NEWSROOM.

OK. All right. Thanks, Susan.

WHITFIELD: The sacrifice that Susan's making so that we have time for Don Lemon.

(CROSSTALK)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We don't have a lot of time, so I'll tell you what's coming up today at 1:00. Up a creek over a leak? Well, Scooter Libby's lawyers say he's just the fall guy sacrificed to protect GOP strategist Karl Rove. We'll have updates from the courtroom on the big names and the high stakes in Libby's perjury trial. A senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, you know, his analysis.

WHITFIELD: He knows everything.

LEMON: And the question that stopped an interview cold.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think, frankly, you're out of line with that question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Wow. OK. So what do you think? What did Wolf ask? Fair question or out of line? We'll ask for your e-mails on this one. Make sure you tune in today at 1:00. That wasn't the end. You probably saw some of that on your show.

HARRIS: Yes.

LEMON: That's not all of it.

WHITFIELD: I know. Can't get enough.

LEMON: Hot, hot, hot.

WHITFIELD: We'll be watching.

LEMON: All right, guys.

WHITFIELD: Thanks a lot.

All right. The CNN NEWSROOM continues one hour from now. You heard from that Don.

HARRIS: "YOUR WORLD TODAY" is next with news happening across the globe and here at home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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