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Iraq War Protest; Karbala Attack on U.S. Soldiers More Sophisticated; U.S. Takes Tougher Stance Against Iranian Agents in Iraq
Aired January 27, 2007 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: "Now in the News," in Baghdad's Green Zone, a second straight day of rock eight tacks. Also in the Iraqi capital, 15 people were killed in a pair of bombings at a busy market. Police also say at least 40 bodies have been found today in Baghdad
Securing Iraq and its capital city a key concern for President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The two men talked about that issue on the telephone today. A spokesman for the Iraqi leader says during the call Mr. Bush renewed his commitment to the Baghdad security plan.
And so far no claim of a responsibility for a deadly bombing in Pakistan. The blast, near a crowded Shiite mosque in Peshawar, killed least 11 people and wounded 40. Among the dead, one of the city's police chiefs.
In Hawaii, a success for the Pentagon's missile defense agency. A spokeswoman says an interceptor missile took out a dummy missile during a test over the Pacific Ocean. The system is designed to protect the U.S. from ballistic missiles.
U.S. troops have permission to go after Iranian agents inside Iraq. How will that add to the mission?
And a look at a very dangerous area of Baghdad, Haifa Street, once a fashionable thorough fare before the war.
And later in our legal segment, a young man in prison for years for consensual sex. And the law that put him there no longer on the books. Why?
You're in the NEWSROOM. The news unfolding live on this Saturday, the 27th day of January.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
You're in the NEWSROOM.
As U.S. troop levels grow in Iraq, so does public opposition to the war. Politicians, celebrities and thousands of demonstrators are gathered at a rally on the National Mall.
Gary Nurenberg joins us from Washington, where the crowd has grown over the last few hours -- Gary. GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's true, Fredricka. We are at the step-off point for a march on the Capitol following a rally here on the National Mall, some lasting for several hours.
Among those taking part in the rally were veterans of the anti- Vietnam War movement from 40 years ago, including Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, who asked rhetorically, "We ended the war in Vietnam, didn't we?"
Also on that list of speakers, a prominent opponent of the war in Vietnam who says she hasn't addressed an anti-war rally in 34 years. Then Jane Fonda went on to say silence is no longer an option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE FONDA, ACTRESS: I haven't spoken at an anti-war rally in 34 years because I've been afraid that because of the lies that have been and continue to be spread about me in that war, that they would be used to hurt this new anti-war movement. But silence is no longer an option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NURENBERG: Fonda went on to say she was disappointed to have to be here. In her words, saying, "We have not learned the lessons of Vietnam." Instead, she is sad to see them repeated with the Iraq war.
Evident in the tens of thousands of demonstrators who are here in Washington today are many representatives of military families who are speaking out against the war, not only against the increase in troops called for by President Bush, but who are actively saying to members of Congress and lobbying both Friday and in plans for lobbying on Monday that they want fund cutoffs as one way to end this campaign.
Among those who came here to Washington today is a woman named Peggy Gray, whose son has just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEGGY GRAY, MOTHER OF SOLDIER: Like most vets, that come back -- we have talked to many parents -- withdrawn, difficulty with sleep, spends a lot of time reading in his room by himself, has I think somewhat of a difficulty connecting with his friends back home now. You know, it's hard. They don't understand what he went through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NURENBERG: The group called Military Families Speak Out Against the War says it has 3,200 families represented at the demonstration here in Washington today. Many will stay through the weekend and plan to return to Capitol Hill on Monday to lobby senators and representatives for a funding cutoff and for support of resolutions that would call the president's decision to increase troops in Iraq against the national interests.
As you know, Fredricka, a test vote on that resolution is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.
WHITFIELD: And so, Gary, as for today and the demonstration, how long is it expected to last?
NURENBERG: Well, the march to the Capitol was supposed to kick off at about 1:00. It got delayed and only left here, I would say, 10 or 15 minutes ago. A relatively short march, about three blocks up to the Capitol. They're going to do a U-turn and come back, then break off and go to a number of different activities around the city.
So, by the time the sun falls, I should say that the National Mall would probably be pretty well deserted.
WHITFIELD: All right. Gary Nurenberg, thanks so much from the nation's capital.
Well, in Iraq, two more U.S. soldiers have died in the volatile Diyala Province, bringing the U.S. death toll in Iraq to 3,068.
Also in Iraq, two car bombs exploded just minutes apart in a busy market in Baghdad. Fifteen people died and 55 more wounded.
And south of Baquba, coalition forces killed 14 suspected insurgents in an air strike. They arrested two more during a morning raid, targeting fighter safe houses.
And we're learning more about the attack that killed five Americans in Karbala a week ago. A revised Pentagon report suggests that insurgent tactics are getting more sophisticated.
Jamie McIntyre reports.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In its new and more complete account, the U.S. military calls last Saturday's attack in Karbala a well-rehearsed precision operation and notes it had all the earmarks of an inside job. Explosives were used to destroy U.S. Humvees inside the compound, a diversion that allowed the dozen or so armed gunmen to get away with four captured U.S. soldiers after killing one and wounding three others in a grenade and small arms attack.
The militants, driving at least five American SUVs, GMC Suburbans, wearing American-style uniforms, carrying U.S. weapons and speaking English, had already deceived Iraqi police guarding the compound and went straight to where the Americans were located, according to a news release. The account provides grisly details of what happened next.
The attackers drove north to Babil Province, where they attracted suspicion when they passed through another Iraqi checkpoint. The Iraqis tailed them as they drove across the Euphrates River into Hillah, and eventually found the SUVs abandoned in Al Mahawil.
According to the release, two soldiers were found handcuffed together in the back of one of the SUVs, both dead from gunshot wounds. A third soldier was found shot dead on the ground. A fourth was alive with a gunshot wound to the head, but died as Iraqi police rushed him to a nearby hospital.
The original military account released the next day said only, "Five U.S. soldiers were killed and three wounded while repelling the attack."
ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I've just been made aware of the discrepancy in the account, and I've asked for the specifics about it. And I'm -- I'm about where you all are at this point. I think as they've investigated and tried to figure out what was going on, that this other report has come out.
MCINTYRE (on camera): The U.S. military says there was a clear breakdown in Iraqi security and a full investigation is under way. The U.S. wants to know how the attackers knew exactly where the Americans were and whether they got any help from the Iraqis at the checkpoint or inside the compound.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.
WHITFIELD: And just 10 minutes from now, a closer look at conditions in Iraq from former military intelligence officer Ken Robinson.
Well, despite the mounting opposition in Congress, President Bush is going ahead with plans to send 21,000 more troops to Iraq. The president also promises tougher action against Iranian agents thought to be fueling the violence in Iraq.
CNN's Kathleen Koch is the at the White House.
So, Kathleen, what is the message that the White House is sending out this weekend?
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the message from the president this weekend, Fredricka, is, basically, you may not agree with him, but he is the decision maker. To protesters gathering on the National Mall today, this from National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe: "The president believes the right to free speech is one of the greatest freedoms in our country. He understands that Americans want to see a conclusion to the war in Iraq, and the new strategy is designed to do just that."
And to lawmakers in Congress, President Bush is speaking very bluntly to those who aren't heeding his call in the State of the Union to give the plan time to work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know there is skepticism and pessimism and that they are -- some are condemning a plan before it's even had a chance to work. And they have an obligation and a serious responsibility, therefore, to put up their own plan as to what would work.
I've listened a lot to members of Congress. I've listened carefully to their suggestions. And I have picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOCH: Now, President Bush is also standing up for his administration's new get-tough kill or capture strategy when it comes to Iranian operatives in Iraq who are found to be directly fomenting violence. President Bush saying it's the United States' obligation to stop anyone who is trying to harm U.S. troops, innocent Iraqis, or prevent the U.S. from achieving its goal in Iraq.
Mr. Bush saying that critics' allegations that the U.S. wants to spread this conflict beyond Iraq's borders into Iran are "not accurate" -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Kathleen Koch at the White House.
Thanks so much for that update.
KOCH: You bet.
WHITFIELD: Haifa Street in Iraq, it's become one of the most infamous locations in Baghdad. Can the U.S. military bring stability to that neighborhood?
Also, our legal team takes up the case of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby. Has the government got a case?
And find out just how easy it is for someone to steal your financial identity. That's later in the NEWSROOM.
WHITFIELD: So here are some of the most popular stories on CNN.com.
Blacks and whites in a small Texas town shoot down a proposed ban on the N-word. The mayor of Brazoria got an earful at a town hall meeting and relented on the ordinance.
A rare shark videotaped off the coast of Japan. There it is. Crazy looking, isn't it?
The frilled shark is also known as a living fossil because it hasn't changed much since prehistoric times. Well, it lives about 2,000 feet below the sea. Scientists say the female shark may have come near the surface because it was sick. It died shortly after being captured.
And pictures of graffiti posted on MySpace lead to three arrests in California. Police say the suspects bragged on the popular Internet Web site and their entries served as proof. One of the deadliest encounters in Iraq this week happened on Haifa Street, a Baghdad thoroughfare outside the Green Zone. Thirty insurgents died. For Iraqis living along this volatile street, it's a horrible existence.
CNN's Arwa Damon picks up the story from there.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Through the window of a crumbling theater it could almost be a normal world outside, but this is Haifa Street in central Baghdad, where we can't venture out to talk to people but snatch quick conversations in doorways.
This man doesn't want his face shown. "The street from here to here is safe," he says, "but if you go down there, it's very bad."
In one direction, kids play soccer in the street, apparently oblivious to the battleground close by. But down the street, Iraqi and U.S. forces try to dislodge insurgents.
"We are happy to see the Iraqis and the Americans. But we can't be seen saying that," he says. "They will slaughter us."
"They are Sunni extremists," says Ali Hussein (ph), a Shia who lives here. He called them "The others." "It's sort of a sectarian thing, but here we have Sunnis, too. But down there, they are different."
He tells us there was a girl who went to the market down there with her child and a sniper shot them. And down there is where we are going with a stryker platoon, into an area that U.S. and Iraqi units have been trying to clear of insurgents.
(on camera): This is one of the Iraqi army patrol bases located on Haifa Street. It was formerly one of Saddam Hussein's palaces and would have been off limits to all of these men. They are fairly optimistic. The Americans here, however, are moving with extreme caution...
(voice over): ... because no one knows who is still out there or where. When it's not a battlefield, Haifa Street can feel like a ghost town. The snipers, the battles, the intimidation has driven most residents away. But thousands remain. Most too afraid to step outside.
This 25-year-old and her mother are taking advantage of a lull in the fighting. And as they speak of the horrors they have endured, they can't conceal their rage.
"Bodies in the street and dogs are eating them?" Is this how cheap humans have become?" she asks. "The Americans have to protect us, otherwise, they should just leave and let people slaughter each other."
But the Americans say they are not going to leave. They are just beginning a new operation to retake Baghdad.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.
WHITFIELD: And we'll get more in-depth on the battle for Haifa Street Sunday night at 7:30 Eastern. Tune in for the special coverage of this very important battle.
Meanwhile, U.S. troops have been given the OK to go after Iranian agents in Iraq who plot attacks against the coalition.
Here to talk about this and the battle for Haifa Street, Ken Robinson, a former military intelligence officer.
Good to see you, Ken.
KEN ROBINSON, FMR. MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Hi.
WHITFIELD: Well, first let's talk about Haifa. Sunni extremists, how did they get so much power right under the noses of all of those in the Green Zone nearby?
ROBINSON: It's a huge challenge. There has been a mass migration of populations going on since the fall of the Saddam regime.
Many former regime loyalists, Ba'athist extremists, are funded by a former leader named Abduri (ph), and they have got about $2 billion is what is suspected. And these individuals have been able to move in, into neighborhoods, intimidate families and occupy locations. And their objective is kill.
WHITFIELD: And so for the coalition troops to navigate Haifa Street, to make any progress, it means they need informants, it means they need to talk to people who observe, who live, who work on Haifa Street. We just saw in Arwa's package that people are afraid of doing that.
So what is the military strategy? How do they gain intelligence without people's cooperation?
ROBINSON: Well, the first rule of being a guerrilla is to separate the population from the government, or in this case, the occupying power of the United States and the Iraqi government, which are there together. They're going try to do community policing, if I can use that as an analogy.
What they're going to try to do is move and seize buildings in streets and hold out what the soldiers call Alamos in which they can then extend their influence. What they try to do is have a physical presence at those locations, then they have to have an immediate reaction force that can come and surge in the case they're under attack.
And I believe we're going to see more of that as we saw last week in Karbala, where five United States soldiers were killed in a very aggressive raid where the insurgents used military uniforms, allegedly military IDs, someone allegedly spoke English. And they rolled through several checkpoints and attacked the United States military right at their point where they were conducting meetings on security to show that they could reach out and strike them.
WHITFIELD: This kind of urban warfare is tough to train for. What is the first approach to getting, especially, you know, new groups of U.S. troops who are making their way in prepared for what is at stake here, what is at hand?
ROBINSON: The United States has several training centers here in this country where they give people the experience of feeling an urban fight. They put -- they put noncombatants in a large area, they give them very tough rules of engagement and make them make quick decisions in situated environments. And they teach them how to take a building, which you have to take properly from the top, down, not from the bottom, up, because it's more risky to the soldier. And...
WHITFIELD: Well, maybe a better question I should have asked is, can you train for something like this?
ROBINSON: Yes, you can train for it, but it's not the specific task that the United States Army was trained to do. This is a police action. This is counterinsurgency. And the main action that the army was trained for was to fight another army that will come out and meet them on a battlefield and have a decisive victory.
The insurgents don't want that. What they're trying to do here is bleed the army with a death of a thousand cuts because they know eventually the U.S. will pull out and leave, especially now because it's so vulnerable because of the domestic support that the president is not getting anymore.
WHITFIELD: Well, let's talk about another enemy or target now the White House is allowing U.S. troops to look for. And these are Iranians who are suspected of trafficking arms or even being part of instigating violence inside Iraq.
We almost saw this coming. Didn't we?
ROBINSON: Yes. When we were embedded with the coalition in 2003, during the fight to Baghdad, there were many intelligence reports coming in that we observed as part of a CNN embed team about what's known as the MOIS, the Military of Intelligence Services.
These are the Iranian human intelligence agents who were sent over and came into Iraq to be able to have a presence in Iraq, post the fall of Saddam. And so it is not new that these individuals have been here and have been up to no good. It has long been believed that the insurgency has been state sponsored because of the types of bombs that have appeared, the types of triggering devices, the types of tactics that have been used as the insurgents transition. Unfortunately...
WHITFIELD: But is it your concern that this might be a dangerous proposition, that it might explode into something far greater than a localized problem?
ROBINSON: Well, certainly the region is going to be affected by this for 100 years, if it is a day. Internally, in terms of targeting Iranians who are up to mischief, the coalition has been doing that for the last three years.
The actual identification that it is somehow is OK to do it now to me is more for political purposes at home, domestic consumption, than for what the military has been trying to do, finding all threats from all different quarters and defeat them while they try to get the government up and running.
WHITFIELD: All right.
Former military intelligence officer Ken Robinson.
Thanks so much. Always good to see you.
ROBINSON: Thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Well, grippin' and grinnin' in Iowa. Hillary Rodham Clinton starts her presidential listening tour.
And did Scooter Libby lie to a federal grand jury? That is straight ahead in our legal segment.
And we're also going talk about this young man. He is serving grownup time for an action now considered a misdemeanor. How did he get to this point?
WHITFIELD: The state of Iowa in the spotlight this weekend as the race for the White House heats up. Democratic Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is on her first visit to Iowa in more than three years. The state holds its presidential caucuses about a year from now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I want to build a relationship, you know, with the voters in Iowa, and with the country, similar to what I've done the last six years in New York. Because I want to be the president who renews the promise of America and restores respect for our country around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Clinton announced a week ago that she is in the race. The polls show she has some catching up to do in Iowa, at least. Right now former Senator John Edwards is considered the Democratic front-runner there.
Another candidate appears to be getting set to join the growing list of presidential hopefuls. An aide to Mike Huckabee says the former Arkansas governor, a Republican, will set up an exploratory committee in the coming week. That's the first step in a presidential bid. Huckabee is a Baptist minister and former religious broadcaster.
Senator John Kerry has taken his anti-war campaign to the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Massachusetts Democrat slammed the Bush administration's foreign policy and told the economic forum the United States has become "a sort of international pariah."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I don't care how many troops are put in. Iraq is not going to be pacified.
Now, we are partly responsible. The absence of legitimate, significant diplomacy is a disgrace. Quick flights in by a secretary of state are not diplomacy. There should be a special envoy, maybe a joint bipartisan special envoy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Kerry criticized what he calls the unfortunate habit of Americans to see the world through an American lens.
Well, you probably know the name Scooter Libby, but are you confused about the charges against him? His case is first up in our legal segment.
And then we'll look at the case of this teenager, sentenced to 10 years in prison for consensual sex with a teenage girl.
WHITFIELD: Scooter Libby on trial says he's a scapegoat. The former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney on trial for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the exposure of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative. Our legal experts will discuss the case in a moment.
But first, CNN's Kelli Arena describes another aide's testimony that could hurt Libby's defense.
KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kathy Martin's (ph) testimony offered rare insight into the inner workings of the vice president's office and the personal efforts by the vice president himself to control information.
SCOTT REED, GOP POLITICAL ANALYST: What you're seeing is this -- for the first time some real disarray at the senior levels of the White House.
ARENA: Martin, who is Vice President Cheney's communications chief, suggested that her boss and his chief of staff Scooter Libby were obsessed back in 2003 with gathering information about Joe Wilson, a Bush critic.
At the time, Wilson was challenging the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq based on information he uncovered during a trip to Africa.
REED: They obviously didn't want to let any little spark catch in the fire and they weren't going let one of these frontal attacks go unanswered.
ARENA: Wilson claimed that he was sent on his mission by the vice president. But Martin described how Cheney tried to distance himself from Wilson, how the vice president personally dictated talking points for dealing with the press, her notes in evidence telling her to say, quote, "He did not travel at my request. Don't know him."
She testified Libby told her to actually call the CIA to get names of reporters working on stories about Wilson so that the vice president could direct a spin operation with Libby as the front man.
TIMOTHY HEAPHY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The intrigue at the White House is playing out in the course of this because it's generally so secret.
ARENA: Martin's story flies in the face of Libby's defense, which claims that he was caught up in so many other issues he didn't pay much attention to Wilson.
HEAPHY: The bigger deal of this was inside the White House, the less credible his explanation of misrecollection becomes.
ARENA: Libby is charged with lying about how and when he found out that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked at the CIA. Martin testified she told him in June of 2003. But Libby claims he didn't find out until a month later.
HEAPHY: This is a case about deception. This is a case about lies.
ARENA: It's also a case that has most of Washington wondering what other secrets are about to be exposed.
Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: Let's turn to our legal experts about the Libby Case. Avery Freedman is a civil rights attorney and law professor.
Good to see you, Avery.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Nice to see you.
WHITFIELD: And Richard Herman is a New York criminal defense attorney.
Good to see you as well, Richard.
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hi, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Richard, let me begin with you.
That testimony from Ms. Martin, pretty incriminating?
HERMAN: It's pretty damaging. You know, this is like children in elementary school. "We're going get back at you for being bad people." The White House is like a P.R. office here.
Here's the bottom line. He's not being charged here with disclosing the information that Valerie Plame was with the CIA. That's not what this case is about. This is about -- similar to Martha Stewart, not securities fraud, but lying to the FBI. Here he's charged with two counts of lying to the FBI, lying to a grand jury and obstructing justice. And the prosecutor is going to bring in a whole array of witnesses to say that he knew before the date he said he first learned, July 10th, 2003, about Valerie Plame.
He's going to -- the witnesses are going to come in one at a time. The defense is going to attack their credibility, but, Fred, in the end, at summation the prosecutor's going stand up and he's going to say -- he'll admit -- he'll say, "Maybe one or two don't remember. But are you going to believe that all of them don't remember?"
It's very devastating. It's a very tough case. And it's a very tough case for Libby to win.
WHITFIELD: So, Avery, you go ahead and weigh in on this.
I mean, has Libby and his defense done a good job of trying to establish what their defense will be, especially after hearing about this testimony from Ms. Martin, for one?
FRIEDMAN: Remember, their defense, Fredricka, is that, "I am so busy about national security, I forgot the details." Well, what the trial has shown -- and let me be very specific -- the trial has shown between May 29th and the 10th of July, Scooter Libby, according to witnesses that we heard from, and already today three of them, established that Scooter Libby talked about Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson no less than seven times. And he said in his defense, "Oh, I was so startled to learn about this from Tim Russert around the 10th of July."
So next week, what we will see is not only Tim Russert, but Ari Fleischer testifying for the prosecution. And the bombshell here, Fredricka, in my judgment is that defense is trying to deal with faulty memory. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has said, "If you want to put on faulty memory evidence, you're going to have to put Scooter Libby on the stand."
WHITFIELD: Interesting. And so when you talk about Russert and Fleisher being called as well, it is about timeline, isn't it, as well trying to establish who was told what when?
HERMAN: Fred, the whole case is about timeline. But Avery just nailed it there. Libby is going to have to get up on the witness stand in this case. I don't see any way he can win it without that. He's going to have to get up there. And if he gets caught up in lies in cross-examination by the prosecutor, it's over. And defense...
WHITFIELD: What (INAUDIBLE) president himself? I mean, given that he was part of this conversation, according to at least this one testimony...
HERMAN: ... he did the best he could, he doesn't remember what happened to two years ago -- three years ago. He doesn't have a perfect memory. He's going to say he testified to the agents and to the grand jury as best recollection.
FRIEDMAN: But there's also -- there is also a subpoena issued for both Dan Bartlett and Karl Rove. This is a huge development.
HERMAN: And Cheney.
FRIEDMAN: That's exactly right.
So you've got three powerhouse witnesses. And the truth is the scapegoat defense at this juncture, at least from a prosecutor's perspective, doesn't look like it's going anywhere.
WHITFIELD: Is it possible to see other charges come out involving other people from this case?
HERMAN: That's the whole thing, Fred. This is a side show about the outing of Valerie Plame and what happened in the White House. That's a sideshow. Did he lie or didn't he lie? That's the issue here.
But I -- I agree with you, there is another criminal investigation open. I think the White House is very afraid about it because I think this evidence is being gathered right now and this story is not over.
WHITFIELD: OK. All right.
FRIEDMAN: I don't know. We'll see.
WHITFIELD: Well, you guys aren't over either, because we've still got another case that I want to talk to you guys about. It's a case of a young man serving ten years in prison for consensual sex he had when he was 17, the girl 15.
Well, guess what. Even the prosecutor was shocked by the sentence. We'll talk to Avery and Richard right after this break.
WHITFIELD: A good son, good athlete, outstanding student and a convicted felon. That's Genarlow Wilson. He is spending ten years in a Georgia prison because of an arcane law that no longer exists.
When he was 17, Wilson engaged in a sex act with a willing 15 year-old girl. He spoke with CNN's Rick Sanchez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you didn't know that it was illegal for a 17-year-old to have sex with a 15-year-old, would you have done it?
GENARLOW WILSON, PRISON INMATE: No.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Wilson has exhausted all appeals, told again and again the law is the law. But the crime he committed is no longer a felony. And prosecutors are offering early parole. But if he takes it, Wilson would be forever labelled a sex offender. It's a deal he says he won't make.
Outrageous justice? Well, our legal experts are back to discuss this case. Once again, Avery Friedman and Richard Herman.
So, Avery, let me begin with you. So what Wilson and his attorneys want is to be resentenced under the new law which makes this crime no longer a felony, but a misdemeanor.
WHITFIELD: What's the chance of being resentenced?
FRIEDMAN: Well, if he accepts it, he'll be resentenced. But let me tell you something. This Georgia law is unconstitutional. There is precedent in this. California faced the same issue. It says if you have sexual intercourse with a 15 year-old and you're a high school senior, 17, that's a misdemeanor. If you have oral sex, it means ten years as a felony. The law's constitutional. Sooner or later, probably in a habeas that will filed this coming week -- sooner or later a judge is going to hold that the law is unconstitutional. And I think that will blow the whole thing up.
The second alternative is that the legislature in Atlanta can rewrite this and protect the individual. But I think it's going to come down to a federal court habeas matter, holding this law unconstitutional.
WHITFIELD: So, Richard, rewriting the law would mean making that change that says, you know, previous cases could be applied to this new law because, as it stands right now, Richard, it can't. The new law cannot apply to old cases.
HERMAN: Right. Fred, the legislature would have to expressly say that the new law is retroactive to prior cases and apply to them.
But here, you know, we knew what the legislature said. We knew what the law was. You know, I've been critical of district attorneys-- Nifong, Duke -- but here I've got to tell you, this district attorney gave plea deals in the beginning, during the trial and after the trial. And I've never seen plea deals come after a conviction like this. So they obviously feel bad about it.
But the defense attorneys knew full well what the statute was. they knew full well what the video showed. And they knew full well before going to trial that they could not win this case. Everybody else who went to trial -- who didn't go to trial here, but who was indicted or charged, all took pleas. Ten year deal -- the defense attorney knew this was coming. The defense attorney knew they could not win it. And now, once he's in to be crying like this, I mean, they should have done this before they went to trial. They should have gone to the legislature before and they should have gone to the government to try to get him the pardon it because I agree with Avery. The law is ridiculous.
I don't know if it's unconstitutional, though. I think the legislature is the one that's going to have to rectify this wrong.
WHITFIELD: so I'm gathering really neither one of you are very hopeful for this Genarlow Wilson on this case.
FRIEDMAN: No, Fredricka. I'm very hopeful. I think this young man, if his lawyers get their act together, can win on a constitutional basis. But I'm also in accord with Richard that if the legislature in Georgia, through a bipartisan sponsored law, may be able to invalidate what's been done.
I actually have hope for this. This young man, Fredricka, was on his way to either Brown University or Columbia. This is a superstar scholar-athlete. And it's going to be rectified.
WHITFIELD: But you're making it clear it is more -- it's going to be more than just good lawyering on his defense team's part. It's going to mean the legislators have to be pretty compassionate about this issue as well. But might they be for this one person's case? Is there enough pressure being applied to make that happen?
HERMAN: I think there's huge visibility over what's gone on here. I think especially -- Rick Sanchez has a special coming up on what Genarlow has gone through. I think the public outcry, including the victim, by the way, is outraged. And the jury, believe it or not, is outraged.
WHITFIELD: Because nobody argues that it was consensual.
HERMAN: Right. But nobody knew what the penalty was. And the judge was obligated to do the ten years. So there's going to be a change and that young man's going to be free.
WHITFIELD: All right. Avery.
FRIEDMAN: Don't forget the statue's there to protect children from child predators. And although he was 17 and she was 15, the legislature in Georgia has said that a 15 year-old cannot consent to these type of things, they're too young to do that.
So, look, there's pressure from both sides on this, that this law, because sexual intercourse is a misdemeanor, but oral sex, in this case, brings ten years without parole. I mean, come on, that's ridiculous. It's got to be rectified.
WHITFIELD: All right.
Richard and Avery, thanks very much. Always good to see you.
FRIEDMAN: Nice to see you. Take care.
WHITFIELD: And join Rick Sanchez tonight for a special report on this very subject, "FROM INNOCENCE TO INMATE: The Genarlow Wilson Story". That's at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific right here on CNN.
Straight ahead a scary example of how easy it is to become a victim of identity theft.
And see how a building has taken on a positive role in efforts to preserve our planet.
WHITFIELD: Green buildings often cost more money. But advocates say the advantages far outweigh the costs. CNN's Jacqui Jeras has this look at some dramatic examples.
JACQUI JERAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Math and Science Center at Emory University in Atlanta, the building itself is teaching a lesson. It's a certified green building designed to save energy and the earth.
JEN FABRICK,EMORY UNIV. ARCHITECT: What makes it different is that once you walk in, you're immediately exposed to the outdoor environment.
JERAS: Jen Fabrick is an Emory University architect.
FABRICK: We have benches in the building that are recycled seat belts. We have recycling stations throughout the building. But even these sliding lights that have solar reflectors are an energy efficient way to reflect lighting from the main piece up here onto the reflector and down, rather than hanging tons of lights in the area.
JERAS: Other obvious distinctions include the marmoleum (ph) floors made up of sawdust and linseed oil turpentine, the aluminum can art work and the men's restroom, where waterless urinals have been installed.
But other less significant factors aren't always visible in green buildings. The top floor of the Whitehead Biomedical Building, where huge fans pull in fresh outdoor air, the first green building in the Southeast also has a couple of robots that clean up the rat cages so that no one is exposed to the litter.
FABRICK: The other thing we hope we're doing with these buildings is improving the quality of life for students by natural daylighting in classroom spaces. ART FRAZIER, SPELMAN COLLEGE ARCHITECT: We have pretty aggressive schedule for this project. We'll be opening the building the summer of 2008.
JERAS: Other educational institutions are catching on. Architect Art Frazier (ph) worked at Emory during the green ops (ph) start. And now he's employed down the road at Spelman College, constructing a 300-bed green dorm.
FRAZIER: The parking underneath is will keep us from disturbing more land than we normally would. It will be about 20 percent more efficient than a normal building.
JERAS: College President Dr. Beverly Tatum says Spelman is the first historically black college to earn the green designation. And she's proud to lead the way.
DR. BEVERLY TATUM, SPELMAN COLLEGE PRESIDENT: If you're in the business of education, you're planning for the future. And so it seems to me that we have to think about the future in all aspects. Certainly the African-American community has been very negatively impacted by environmental contaminants, which are often concentrated in low income communities. And so I think helping our students to raise their consciousness about the environment is an important part about the educational experience.
JERAS: While some builders are reluctant to plan a green building due added construction costs, those that do say it only takes five to ten years to start saving on energy.
Jacqui Jeras, CNN, Atlanta.
WHITFIELD: How to rob a bank. We're not talking about the "Old stick them up" thing at the your corner bank. And no, we're certainly not condoning anything, just cautioning you. The CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT has been looking into how thieves steal your good name. Our Drew Griffin has one story from the Emmy Award-winning documentary.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): David George was a modern-day alchemist. He could turn junk mail into cold cash. Postal inspector Matthew Boyden and Harris County investigator Mike Kelly finally stopped him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably the most prolific criminal I've ever arrested.
GRIFFIN: When they searched David George's suburban home, bundles of stolen mail were everywhere. In the drawers, the closets, an attic. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It had to do with identity theft and credit card fraud; we found it at that house.
GRIFFIN: There were credit card applications in the bathroom, and 115 credit cards in every name but David George. Among them, Jessica Durrow, 22 years old. A student with a poor credit record.
JESSICA DURROW: I wanted a credit card, but I was told that I was under restriction at the time, that I could not apply for any or get any until I had some hospital debts cleared up.
GRIFFIN: But if Jessica couldn't get a card in her name, David George would do it for her. It took a combination of junk mail, a stolen identity, and a phony address. Days later, he had a credit card in Jessica's name.
DURROW: Gold, like money.
GRIFFIN: Gold like money for Bank of America. It would charge as much as 64.58% in finance charges, and interest.
DURROW: It's ridiculously high. They figure they got a sucker. They should make a ton of money off of that.
GRIFFIN: But, in fact, it was the other way around.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would you like to do?
GRIFFIN: David George used the credit card for cash advances. Essentially, loans totaling $2,100.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't forget to take your cash.
WHITFIELD: Wow. Is that not eyebrow raising or what? Don't miss the Emmy Award-winning "How to Rob a Bank" from the all new series CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT tonight at 8:00 Eastern. You don't want to miss that one.
Straight ahead, an update on events in Iraq. And ahead at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, find out why Crystal Gayle has been singing the blues over her tour bus.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm Reynolds Wolf with a look at today's cold and flue report. And we've got widespread cases of the flu in Indiana, Iowa, even into South Carolina.
But once you get over into the Rockies, the southern, central, and northern Rockies as well as the Pacific Northwest, we only have sporadic cases to report.
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