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White House Is In A Delicate Position Over The Chaos In Pakistan; The War On Terror Is In Question; The Outcome Of The Crisis Will Likely Determine Who Controls Nuclear Weapons

Aired November 4, 2007 - 17:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: With more from Washington now, CNN's White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, this really is a very difficult situation for the Bush administration. It really is a test of the president's foreign policy. Mr. Bush has been a strong supporter of Pakistan's leader. But now the state of emergency in that country has thrown Pakistan into turmoil and has put a strain on U.S.-Pakistan relations.


MALVEAUX (voice over): Chaos in Pakistan. The Bush administration now is issuing a direct threat for that country's leader Pervez Musharraf. Return to democratic rule or face a possible cut in U.S. financial assistance.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are going to have to review the situation with aid.

MALVEAUX: More than $10 billion in U.S. aid has been (AUDIO GAP) since September 11 attacks, most of it for military funding to secure the region and go after Al Qaeda. A spokesman for U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says U.S. military support for Pakistan will not be impacted. Making the Bush administration's threats largely symbolic.


MALVEAUX: Alarmed by the unfolding crises, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers urge President Bush to take a tougher stand.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), JUDICIARY CMTE.: I think it's not enough that Secretary Rice speaks out. I think the president has to speak out and in more specific terms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready to say how you would vote --

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), JUDICIARY CMTE.: I think you can put a moratorium on military assistance at this time. I think you can -- the president ought to come forward.

MALVEAUX: White House officials say the president is watching the situation closely and is being constantly briefed. But as Secretary Rice put it, it is a complicated matter. Musharraf is a critical U.S. ally in the region, who turned on the Taliban after 9/11. His country, which borders Afghanistan, is a hot bed for breeding terrorists. The U.S. is concerned if Musharraf loses power, Pakistan could erupt into civil war and its nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of Al Qaeda.

ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, JOURNALIST: I think of Pakistan as one of the eight nuclear powers and out of control.


MALVEAUX: Now, focus on this hot spot is quickly becoming a hot issue for the presidential race. One Democratic hopeful, Senator Chris Dodd was quick to accuse Pakistan's demise as a problem created by the Bush administration. And one U.S. official privately acknowledged that this could become a big problem for President Bush because the chaos in Pakistan, this could make Iraq, he says, look downright quiet -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, if that is the case, he's running out of time in which to fix it. Thanks so much, Suzanne Malveaux.

Well, now to what's left of Hurricane Noel. I-Reporter Chris Dumas wanted to show his parents that the storm's parting shots were doing to Cape Cod. For the Massachusetts resident shot this video of the water and the wind yesterday. Dumas says he shot this about 200 feet from his home in that he was one of the lucky ones whose power actually stayed on. But small tree limbs are down in his neighborhood, as well.

The skies over Eastern Canada are pretty clear today. But some 100,000 people in Nova Scotia have no electricity thanks to Noel. Of course, these pictures don't demonstrate how clear it is now. This is kind of what it looked like when it was bad. Coastal residents are beginning to clean up from the flooding caused by this chaos and the downed tree limbs and the power lines. Luckily, there were no evacuations, deaths or serious injuries related to the storms in Canada or in the U.S.

Not the case in the Caribbean, however, last week. The storm is blamed for killing at least 142 people, making Noel the deadliest storm of this season.

And to think, Jacqui, for a second people were thinking maybe this hurricane season, you know, we'll escape a really deadly terrible path, but look what's happened.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The U.S. has just missed out on all of it. You know, we've had quite a few that hit Mexico and down to the Caribbean. Noel doesn't want to quit either, by the way. It's moving very quickly and still packing a punch. It's an extra tropical storm as we call it now. Still packing wind at 70 miles per hour, so still very intense winds. The rainfall will be minimal because this thing is moving so fast, 47 miles per hour, on up towards the north.

So it's moving through Labrador right now and its on a beeline, believe it or not, to hit Greenland eventually. It will be fizzling on out.


WHITFIELD: Well, a lot of rain, too, which is what has resulted in this situation in southern Mexico, a lot of flooding. Some people are refusing to help or, rather, refusing to get help than that's been offered to them.

In the flood ravaged capital of Tabasco the hum of helicopters permeate the sky above Villa Hermosa (ph). Authorities believe that thousands of people there are still waiting to be rescued. But others are staying put so that they can fend off the looters. Eight flood- related deaths have been reported so far.

The Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station are getting ready to part ways. Today astronauts closed the hatches between their linked spacecrafts, after a history making space walk yesterday. A crew member fixed a ripped solar panel. Further away from this station than any other space walker has ever been. Discovery is scheduled to pull away from the station tomorrow and return to Earth on Wednesday.

And a federal mediator is meeting with Hollywood writers and producers right now. It's a last ditch effort to avoid a threatened writers strike set for one minute after midnight tonight. Their last strike was nearly 20 years ago. As we hear from CNN's Brooke Anderson, what's at stake? A piece of new media pie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready and action --


RYAN MURPHY, TV PRODUCER, "NIP TUCK": Our show, you know, I think will maybe have one extra script done, and then that's it.

ANDERSON: Actors are literally at a loss for words.

DYLAN WALSH, ACTOR, "NIP TUCK": If there's a strike, obviously, we can't work. It's pretty simple.

ANDERSON: If union writers in Hollywood and New York walk off their jobs, reality is about to hit.

MAUREEN RYAN, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": The reality shows are not covered by the writer's guild for the most part. They will keep going. We are going to see a lot more them if the writer's strike continues.

GAVIN HOOD, FILM DIRECTOR, "RENDITION": Everybody is sort of madly scrambling to get scripts into production, sometimes ahead of what might otherwise be prudent.

ANDERSON (on camera): Officials on both sides decline CNN interview requests. But one issue defines the negotiations, new media. Writers want more money as studios distribute shows and movies on computers, cell phones and MP3 players.

RYAN: Well, if you think about it, like the last time a contract was negotiated, YouTube didn't even exist.

MURPHY: Our shows are being downloaded on the Internet, we receive nothing. Not even a penny. Studios get all that money. That's not fair, we created those episodes as artists. We deserve a piece of the pie.

NINA TASSLER, PRESIDENT, CBS ENTERTAINMENT: We don't know what the pie is, yet, in order to determine how to cut it up.

ANDERSON (voice over): A strike means the film and TV industry responsible for 1.3 million U.S. jobs will be left with no new scripts.

DAVID LETTERMAN, LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: That makes up for not getting the Yankees job.

ANDERSON: Late night TV will be the first casualty. Dave, Conan, John, Jay and Jimmy are written fresh daily and can't stockpile scripts. So expect more repeats for starters.

RYAN: They are hitting the TV networks really where it hurts. This is the middle of the season. Most shows maybe will have 12 completed episodes or scripts in the can. That's only half a season.

ANDERSON: The heads of the TV networks say if the walkout extends beyond January when stockpiled scripts will dry up, they have got contingency plans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On FOX we are advantaged over the other guys because we have "American Idol."

TASSLER: We are prepared. We have got plenty of reality. We have got plenty of news.

ANDERSON: Industry figures indicate an estimated half billion dollars was lost because of the writers' last strike 18 years ago.

RYAN: It could get ugly. The five and a half month strike that occurred in 1988, it wasn't pretty. There was a lot of tension. A lot of people were driven out of the industry. And, you know, it's a very cut throat industry at the best of times.

ANDERSON: Both the writers and the studios hope tale of the strike of 2007 is a very short story. Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.


WHITFIELD: Something we are delving into deeply later on, did a charity kidnap more than 100 children and try to whisk them off to another country. It's a controversy unfolding right now on the other side of the world. Straight ahead in the NEWSROOM we are bringing this story home to you. And we know what King Tut looks like now. At least we think we do. But how did he look 3,000 years ago? King Tut's face finally revealed today for the first time.


WHITFIELD: If you filled up your gas tank this weekend, you probably already know, gas prices jumped again. The latest numbers say the price of a gallon gas is up to an average of $2.96 a gallon.

So, do you find yourself griping about OPEC or the oil companies every time you do fill up your gas tank? Well, maybe you should be directing some of that anger toward Wall Street. CNN's Allan Chernoff looks at how investors are driving up the price at the pump.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Prices at the pump are soaring yet again. The national average for regular gas now approaching $3 a gallon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's getting outrageous.

CHERNOFF: Is there a shortage of gas? Not at all. It's crude oil's rapid climb to nearly $100 a barrel, say energy experts, that's driving the price of gasoline, as well as home heating oil. Yet there's no shortage of crude oil either, say fuel distributors like David Shieldwofr (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have more than enough oil.

CHERNOFF: In fact, the Department of Energy reports oil supplies are above average for this time of year. And demand, it's actually declined in the past couple of weeks.

(On camera): Energy analysts say crude is rising because of fear there might be disruption in the flow of imported oil. The last time there was a significant cut in foreign supply was when the U.S. invaded Iraq. Back then the price of oil hit $35 a barrel. A fraction of today's price.

(Voice over): Andrew Labow has been an energy trader for nearly three decades. Never, he says, have there been so many investors bidding up oil.

(On camera): Is there any way that the supply-demand situation justifies oil at this level?

ANDREW LEBOW, SR. V.P., MF GLOBAL: No. I don't think so. I think we have seen a tremendous inflow of speculative money coming in to not only the oil markets but commodities in general.

CHERNOFF (voice over): Investors are putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the energy markets.

SAM GREER, EXEC. V.P., MERCHANTILE EXCHANGE: Now it's as acceptable to invest in, let's say, crude oil or gasoline as it is to invest in IBM.

CHERNOFF: And many traders are embracing the old Wall Street rule, the trend is your friend. The trend for oil has been up, and it's been paying handsome dividends.

FADEL GHEIT, ENERGY ANALYST: The largest financial institutions control oil price, or dictates the direction of oil price, much more than any oil company.

CHERNOFF: Of course, the trend could quickly change leading traders to bail out of oil. But for now, a major reason we are paying more at the pump is that big investors have been striking black gold in the oil trade. Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: In Egypt today, they took the wraps off one of its biggest tourist attractions, the mummy of King Tut. For the first time visitors will be able to view the face of Egypt's famous boy king. His remains are housed in a climate controlled plexi-glass container in Luxor. Here now is a computer enhanced drawing. Not bad for someone 3,000 years old. That's a guess on what he would have looked like.

Well, a nightmare now at sea is over for 24 international sailors off the coast of Somalia. They were captured by pirates about six months ago. All were free today after the pirates abandoned the ship and returned to Somalia.

They are supposed to be friends. So why didn't Fred Thompson know that one of his campaign advisors has a drug dealing past? Thompson talks about that next in the NEWSROOM


WHITFIELD: To politics now where Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson is standing by an advisor with a reported criminal past. Thompson has been crisscrossing the country in the private jet of friend and advisor Phillip Martin. "The Washington Post" has learned that Martin has an extensive record for drug dealing.


FRED THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wish I had known about it a little earlier. Phil, I'm sure knows that he should have told me about this. But he thought it was over and done with and forgotten about, I'm sure. But, of course, nothing is ever over and done with and forgotten about in this business.


WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. Well, Martin's problems with the law began in 1979 when he pleaded guilty to selling 11 pounds of marijuana.

Well, this morning's New York City marathon proved to be a triumphant photo finish for Britain's Paula Radcliffe. She hadn't run since giving birth just nine months ago. It is her second New York marathon win.

On the men's side, Kenya's Martin Lel is your winner. He finished the course in two hours, nine minutes, out of a field of some 39,000 winners.

Well, health officials still don't know what killed one of America's leading medal contenders for the Beijing Games. An autopsy of runner Ryan Shay proved inconclusive today. The 28-year-old collapsed and died in yesterday's Olympic trials marathon, in New York, just five minutes or so into the race. A spokeswoman for the coroner's office say they want to take a closer look at Shay's heart. Those tests are expected to take about a week.

And doctors are reporting promising results for an experimental new heart drug. A study published in "The New England Journal of Medicine" says the drug may be more effective than Plavix in the battle against clogged arteries. The drug is called Prasugrel. Patients who get it are nearly 20 percent less likely to suffer complications such as heart attacks, stroke and other fatal heart ailments. The new drug did show a higher risk, however, of serious bleeding.

All right, well, same Lou, new time. "Lou Dobbs Tonight" is moving to a new time slot on Monday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4 Pacific. I talk to Lou on Friday about some of his favorite topics including New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's plans for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.


WHITFIELD (on camera): Why is it that a parent can't buy a toy for their kids and know that it's safe, know that the consumer protection agency is on top of their job? What's going on?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Well, couple things are going on. One is for through two administrations, the Clinton administration and this Bush administration over the course of the past six years, we have opened up this $12 trillion consumer economy to something called free trade, faith-based economics, and as a result, we are dependent not only on the world for its oil, but now we are dependent on China for our clothing, for our toys. And 80 percent of the toys made in China; 96 percent of our clothing made overseas.

We can't even -- we are dependent on foreign manufacturers for our consumer electronics, our computers. It's because a bunch of idiots believe in free trade and they don't care about the high cost of free trade and what it's doing to middle-class families and working men and women.

WHITFIELD: But all that aside then why can't we --

DOBBS: Aside?! Wait a minute, wait a minute, you can't put that aside.


WHITFIELD: Well, we've got all those holes then.

DOBBS: That's pretty important, Fred.

WHITFIELD: But if those are holes then why can't we at least count on our own agency to police these things once the products are in?

DOBBS: Because this administration for six years, and the previous administration cut the budget of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They have cut the staffing. It is an absurdity. As a number of imports into this country have exploded, the agencies that are supposed to be regulating and protecting the marketplace and protecting the American consumer, their budgets have been cut. Their staffing has been cut.

It's a joke. The FDA can't -- the USDA, in terms of agricultural products, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, they don't have enough people to even guess at what's going on.

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, speaking to about absurd, some folks are finding the idea of giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants absolutely absurd. The flipside to that is, if you have these driver's licenses being administered, doesn't that mean that you can track who these individuals are, their activity, et cetera? Is there a good side to all this?

DOBBS: That's the big lie and BS here, Fred. Truth is that Tennessee has rolled back their law. North Carolina has rolled back their law. Oregon is about to do so. Governor Spitzer has just walked into a political meat grinder, a political mess of his own making because he arrogantly and unilaterally decided he was going to give driver's licenses which were de facto citizenship to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens.

That nonsense is off the table now. We are going to see law and order, the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, the security of our borders, and the security of our ports established. It's just a question of which president when they are elected in 2008. This president has proved that he is absolutely derelict and indifferent both to his constitutional oath of office, and indifferent to the well-being of the American people, American citizens. The next president is going to have to do a lot better.

WHITFIELD: All right, Lou Dobbs, always good to see you.

DOBBS: Good to be with you.

WHITFIELD: And we're now very used to the idea that we are going to be seeing you weekdays 7:00 p.m. Eastern, now from here on out.

DOBBS: Excellent.


WHITFIELD: All right, combative, to the point, never mincing words, that's Lou Dobbs. Same Lou Dobbs, different time. "Lou Dobbs Tonight," Monday night now 7:00 p.m. Eastern, weeknights starting tomorrow. You don't want to miss it, people.

You won't want to miss this either. Were 103 kidnapped children indeed taken from their home, from their parents in Africa? Or were they being rescued from a life of poverty and despair? Next in the NEWSROOM we are going "In-Depth" and halfway around the world to look at all sides of this intriguing case.


WHITFIELD: Half past the hour, right now and here's what's happening. Major uncertainty that Pakistan's now indefinite state of emergency. Pakistani prime minister Shokat Aziz (ph), says marshal law will remain in place as needed and necessary. Proponents say it is needed to counter threats by Islamic extremists. Critics call it a power grab by General Pervez Musharraf.

In New England all that's left of Hurricane Noel is the cleanup. Remnants of the storm hit New England downing trees and power lines, but no serious injuries have been reported.

And we are a little more than six hours away to the proposed TV writers' strike. Right now a federal mediator is holding last ditch talks with both sides. The writers want more residuals from DVD and new media sales. A demand studios call unreasonable.

And now we turn to a story you may not have heard a whole lot about. It involves 103 children who are now living in limbo. They are innocent victims of an alleged international kidnapping scandal. A French charity said the children were orphans and they were rescuing them, so that they could have a better life. But now officials believe that the children were actually kidnapped from their villages, from their families.

This is happening literally halfway around the world, in Central Africa, in a country called Chad.

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is in Chad to tell us how this scandal unfolded, what's happening with the children now and to the people who allegedly took them.

Also senior European correspondent Jim Bitterman is in Paris with a closer look at this French charity now under fire.

Let's begin in Africa with Nic.

Nic, this scandal so big that even the president of France made a trip there to try to get to the bottom of this.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredericka. He flew in today to meet with the Chadian president, Idriss Deby, to try and smooth over some of the problems that have been created. It's made problems for aid organizations here. But the people who are really suffering at the center of all this are the children who are caught up in it. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON (voice-over): One hundred and three traumatized children, victims of an aid agency plan to fly them out of Chad to foster homes in France, apparently without the consent of either government.

One, just a baby; most between the ages of 3 and 7; the oldest 10. How did it happen? How could it happen?

According to the French foreign minister, Zoe's Ark, a French aid group led by former fireman Eric Breteau, was told by the French government their plans to fly orphans from Chad to France were off- limits. Breteau allegedly ignored them, changed the group's name to Children's Rescue, had a plane flown to eastern Chad and rounded up the children; even had the French military help until they realized who they were dealing with.

FRANCOIS FILLON, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translation): The operation conducted by the Zoe's Ark was reprehensible and the French government condemns it. The foreign ministry had, has it happens, did everything possible to dissuade Zoe's Ark from carrying on with this project. An official organization has been launched in October against this operation and this association.

ROBERTSON: The French tipped off the Chadians. The Chadians busted Breteau's six-member team, threw them in jail along with an eight-person air crew, mostly Spaniards, and three French journalists.

Chad's president raised national ire, accusing them of pedophilia and organ snatching.

Aid workers quickly realized Breteau's claims the children were all orphans from Darfur rang hollow.

As they gently encourage the children to remember their past, it became apparent many had families, most were from Chad.

A 1-year-old baby girl gave them most concern. No one could tell them who she was, raising fears some of the children may never find their families.

Breteau and his five other Zoe's Ark colleagues were charged with kidnapping and fraud, the journalists and the air crew, aiding and abetting. After a week in jail in the eastern town of Abertschathey were flown, taken to court.

Chad's president suggested that the journalist and air crew be freed. But the court appeals for help. "Do something," they said, to waiting journalists. "We are being held in inhumane conditions."

Breteau, when he appeared briefly, looked downcast. Legal experts suspect he and his team could face long jail terms. A lawyer insists the accusations are not valid.

In Abeche (ph) in the east some parents are already coming forward to claim their children.

For the other children, the long, slow, painful task of reuniting them with their loved ones is only just beginning and may not have a happy ending.


ROBERTSON: The French president was here for 82 hours. When he left, he was able to take seven of those people caught up in this case back with him. The three French journalists and four of the air hostesses working with them came in to take the children out, they were also freed today. That did cause somewhat of a stir here. People said that perhaps France was trampling on the judicial system here in Chad -- Fredericka?

WHITFIELD: Wow. Nic, this is so outrageous on so many levels. Let's talk about the logistical nightmare on hand, trying to return a lot of these kids, who are not able to exactly articulate where it is that they live, and then trying to get the message to their family members in various villages sprinkled around the country. How do you bring the two together?

ROBERTSON: A huge problem. I guess some of the good news in this is some have already found out their children are in this town in the east of Chad. They have started showing up at the orphanage to try and take them back home.

But some of the children are so young -- the youngest this 1- year-old baby girl -- very, very difficult to find out any information about her. She doesn't have any brothers and sisters in the group. So how do you get her back to her family?

They are taking photographs and they will take these photographs out to the village. So it's going to be a very, very long task for the agencies here to get these children back home. They have said that perhaps in extreme cases maybe some of them won't ever be reunited with their families again -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: So outrageous heartbreaking.

Nic Robertson, thank you.

So what exactly is Zoe's Ark, this French charity group? Some supporters insist it is a respectable group but there is growing suspicion that the group was up to no good.

Joining us now, live from Paris, CNN senior international correspondent Jim Bitterman.

We saw in Nic's piece that there was raised suspicion that this group did not have the best intentions at hand.

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. All week there's been scandal swirling around this group. Today for the first time, however, some of the members of the group, some of the supporters, were out on the streets trying to rationalize the operation in Chad.


BITTERMAN (voice-over): On the streets of Paris, members and friends of Zoe's Ark went on the offensive. Charity that says it meant to save children in trouble and found itself accused of attempted kidnapping, gathered to try and convince anyone that would listen that the group had the best of intentions and not trying to commit a crime.

ERIC LEGRAND, FRIEND OF ZOE'S ARK: We had to do something. Now as a consequence of this is a situation from our friend which where we feel very bad. Of course, it's revolting. It's revolting.

BITTERMAN: But skeptics who tout the group's good intentions with among top levels of government and several inquiries are on the way.

(on camera): French authorities, including the foreign minister and prime minister, have opening up investigations into Zoe's Ark. The Paris prosecutor is looking into anyone who may have aided the group either indirectly or directly, and at least one member of Zoe's Ark who contributed money and hoped to get a child is now suing for fraud.

(voice-over): What many want to know is how did the group get to the point of transporting 103 children out of Chad without anyone putting the breaks on its operations.

As early as last April, Zoe's Ark urged readers of its web site to as many as 10,000 orphans from the Darfur conflict to Europe, and asking for volunteer families to host children.

Christine Peligat, who already has adopted children, wanted to accept another. Her husband, a volunteer is one of those now in jail in Chad.

CHRISTINE PELIGAT, WIFE OF JAILED VOLUNTEER: The first thing was to give this child a host family. And to be safe and that was, for us, it was the only thing that was really important.

BITTERMAN: One hundred children were to be brought out initially and host families gathered at a small airport east of Paris to receive them. It was there they learned that Chadian authorities had stopped the operation.

Back in Chad, other charity organizations who interviewed the children said at least 91 of the 103 were not orphans at all and that most were from Chad, not Darfur.

In a documentary shot by a journalist who traveled with and was arrested with the group, the head of the organization is clear saying that he knows he is skirting the law and might be charged with child trafficking. But he's prepared to go to jail.

An attorney for the organization says the accusation against those being held are not valid.

Host families, like the DeMunches (ph) of eastern France, still feel the organization was trying to do the right thing, saying those held have to be allowed to come back to France to explain.

That's unlikely to happen anytime soon. Even though some supporters of Zoe's Ark would like to see those jailed in Chad brought to France to face charges here, there's nothing to indicate Chadian authorities would ever agree.


Fredericka, in fact, Chadian authorities did agree to release the three journalists involved and some members of the Spanish air crews, the journalists. And President Sarkozy arrived aboard the president's personal jet just a few minutes ago in a military airport just outside Paris -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: So they are all back there now in France. And so you have to wonder, why did the president of France go to such great lengths to try to, A, simply retrieve these seven people that are apparently been exonerated from these charges, or is it because he has a great interest in these children, who come to find out now from your reporting, that they are not orphans, they were not refugees. What was his main objective here?

BITTERMAN: Well, I think both of those things were objectives. But the main objective may have been something bigger, and that is that for months now, president Sarkozy has been working to get a European Union force of about 3,000 men into Chad to start stabilizing part of Chad near the border with Darfur, with the hope being that eventually a 26,000 man force can go into Darfur and stabilize the situation.

There was a real fear here that when the Zoe's Ark operation blew up, that the other operation, the much larger operation, might be a victim of that too. Apparently not, however. The president of Chad and president of France say their relations are just fine after the meetings today.

WHITFIELD: And so, Jim, does oil have anything to do with that stabilizing of the region as well? The interest that France has?

BITTERMAN: No. I don't think so in this case. I think this is mostly an idea that everybody wants to do something about what's happening in Darfur and to stop the killing there.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jim Bitterman, thanks so much from Paris.

We are not done with this story. Reuniting the children with their families. It will be painstaking. I will talk to two people who are helping in that very long process right there, there in Chad. They will be here in the "NEWSROOM" coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: More than 100 children in limbo in the central African nation of Chad, victims of an alleged kidnapping plot by a French charity. The childrens' future is still uncertain. They are still separated, many from their families. And many are still unable to identify themselves. They are just too young. One as young as 1 year old.

Joining us now from Chad, two people trying to get these children back home. Mariam Coulibaly Ndiaye and Serge Male, both with U.N. organizations, both joining us from Chad.

Good to see both of you.

Mariam, let me ask you first, some of these families have said and told our reporters that they have actually gone to pick up their kids. There have been some reunifications that have taken place.

What are some of these family members saying about how their kids got separated like this? Were these kids stolen from their villages? From their families? Or were some of these kids handed over with the promise of getting an education or having a better life, et cetera? What are you learning?

MARIAM COULIBALY NDIAYE, UNICEF: For some of the children, according to what we have gathered from them, they are kind of information we got from them, they say, some of said that some people came to them, talked to their parents and promised to send them to school to Abertschathey (ph) or to Awdrey (ph). So what we had in mind was to go to Awdrey (ph) or to say to go to school just for a few days, to Awdrey (ph), or just for a few months and coming back.

None of them had any mind of going outside of Chad. No parents also among those who have been talking say that -- they have never felt out going outside of Chad. They found out it was for a better life, a better life still within Chad.

WHITFIELD: This is so unbelievable.

And, Serge, just looking at the pictures of these little kids -- you all have seen them firsthand -- but to see kids as young as 3, 1, separated, alone. They are in a room with a bunch of other kids. Nobody knows what's going on. This is heartbreaking. Tell me how logistically -- this really is a nightmare trying to connect some of these kids with their families.

NDIAYE: Yes. For Abeche (ph) parents, it's a nightmare, especially for the younger ones, you know.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And Serge...

NDIAYE: When we talk about the youngest.

WHITFIELD: And Serge, let me ask you, what are your thoughts on this as well, Serg?

SERGE MALE, UNHCR: well, in fact, we worked on the human entry in (inaudible). We were asked by the Chadian and we joined forces with our colleagues from RCIC (ph) and the UNICEF. What we did is essentially tried to get some sense of protection to the children, some tenderness, and then tried to talk to them and understand who they are, where they are coming from. And tried to see if we could be of any help to them to find their families again. We help them to bringing into (inaudible).

So these 103 children for the time being, we have more or less information about all of them and there their families are appearing. This is good news. This is good news. We have essentially good news because their families appearing at Abeche (ph). And I think that in the coming days for some of them. Weeks for others, we will be able to reunify them with their families.

WHITFIELD: Well, let's hope so.

MALE: Work in their villages to (inaudible).

WHITFIELD: Well, certainly we hope so, that there will be happy endings in all this. How incredibly traumatizing for these little kids to have to be lifted away from their families like this and their families being given these promises that were unfulfilled.

Serge Male and Mariam Coulibaly Ndiaye, thanks so much for your time from Chad.

Well, living in Chad is much different than, of course, living in America. The poverty is a major issue there, just as one of the elements.

Next, a man who grew up in neighboring Sudan, which is right next-door. Joining me in the "NEWSROOM." He is right here. We will talk about the harsh realities of life in central Africa and what it means to be a child in limbo in a situation like this.


WHITFIELD: We're talking this hour about a story surrounding a reported European aid group and more than 100 African children. Members of the group were about to fly children to Europe when they organizers were arrested in Chad, October 25th, on suspicions related to kidnapping of these kids.

The group says its plan was purely humanitarian, meant to rescue the children from the crisis in Darfur. Questions have surfed about the group's motivations and its procedures and whether the children were actually orphans.

To find out, many of these kids were actually just snatched from their families there in Chad. The region in question is torn by chaos. And the children, by the thousands have lost, parents.

In 1987, a group of some 20,000 orphaned refugees was forced to leave Sudan. They suffered horrendous hardships. And many died during a journey that eventually led them to Ethiopia and other parts. The group became known the Last Voice of Sudan. One young man, Nathaniel Nyork, was part of that group. He came to the U.S. in 2001 and is now a student at Georgia Perimeter here in suburban Atlanta.

Good to see you, Nathaniel. And the reason why we wanted to invite you too is because you can help us understand what a child, who's been removed from their families, like these kids have been, at a very young age -- you were 8 -- that feeling of loss, that feeling of confusion. How do you identify with what's going on?

NATHANIEL NYORK: Well, what is going on I think is very terrible and one agencies' violation of recusing, I think it cannot be tolerated because being a kid and you live along in the jungle or doing something by yourself is sometimes quite understandable. You don't understand why, whether it's a punishment from God or whether you have done something bad to the society.

And when I was 8 years old, we were pulled out of our villages from Sudan. We did not know what to expect. But we were just there knowing that God is there for us. We live just daily, on daily basis. You don't know whether you are going to survive or dead tomorrow.

And basically, we took up responsibilities ourselves because we know there was nobody around to give us the love that we want. There was nobody around to make decisions to us. Being a child, you are just playful. You don't know what you are doing or you don't know whether you are going to make bad or good decisions.

WHITFIELD: And when we looked at the video here of these kids, as young as 3, 4, 2, you know, in this room, confused. You talk about that feeling of loneliness and loss and even wondering if they were being punished. Do you think that these little kids, even if they are returned to their rightful families -- will they forever be scarred, even for that month or two of confusion in this situation?

NYORK: Definitely, they are going to be forever scarred because right now they are confused, just like we were. They don't know where they are now. And for these few days that they have been away from their families, that means a lot. They have missed all that they need, they miss their parental love and have they missed everything that a parent can give to their children.

WHITFIELD: Does this make you angry or upset to see that this is happening?

NYORK: Well, it's quite disconcerting. Something like this is very bad and it makes me feel bad because we don't expect to see something like this at this time.

WHITFIELD: Meantime, your mom, brother and sisters still in Sudan. While you were here, you've had an opportunity to pursue your education. You have to miss home. Do you feel -- is it bittersweet that you had an opportunity to pursue this part or this path of your life or do you feel like you wish you could still be with your family in Sudan? NYORK: Well, you know, chances are very limited. But right at this time I am now trying to pursue my education, but psychologically, I don't feel home. I will always miss my parents. I will always miss my siblings. I will always miss society itself. I want to be home. I want to see the family. That one took care of me.

And sometimes there are days that my heart troubles a lot when I hear the news in Sudan that things are going bad because I know people will not get actually what they need. They will be suffering like I once was. Some of the time I want to be with them, even if I can see them just once. I have not seen them in 20 years.

WHITFIELD: Since you were 8 years old.


WHITFIELD: Nathaniel, thanks so much to you. All the best to you.

NYORK: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: I hope you get the chance to get reunited with your family.

NYORK: Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: Well, we will continue to follow this story in the weeks ago. Watch CNN on the latest developments on what happened to 103 children at the center of this controversy. You can also get updates online at We will keep you posted on what's happening to the people accused of kidnapping those children.

We will be right back.


WHITFIELD: So right now, there are more than one million homeless kids in the United States, children you see walking the street every day.

Well, pop music star Jewel knows these statistics and these kids because she used to be one of them. Tonight, she tells her very personal story to CNN. A moving edition of our "Sunday Spotlight" with Jewel. That's coming up tonight, 10:00 eastern.

Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. "Lou Dobbs this Week" begins right now.