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CIA Destroys Videotapes; Iran Nuclear Program; Omaha Mall; Clintons Campaign; Oprah/Obama Team; Mike Huckabee Leads; Florida Christmas Parade Tragedy
Aired December 8, 2007 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, well, we're going to change gears quite a bit here, because we begin with growing outrage over the CIA's destruction of interrogation videotapes of al Qaeda suspects. CNN Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena has reaction from Congress.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lawmakers want to know if anyone at the CIA broke the law by destroying those interrogation tapes.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: What would cause the CIA to take this action? The answer is obvious, cover-up.
ARENA: They're also angry about being left in the dark. In a letter to employees, CIA director Michael Hayden said that Congressional leaders were told of the intention to destroy the tapes ahead of time. But Congresswoman Jane Harmon, who was the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, and other lawmakers, insist that's not true.
REP JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: No one ever informed me that tapes were being destroyed.
ARENA: The tapes were made in 2002 after the president approved severe interrogation techniques for terror detainees, which included waterboarding, or simulated drowning.
Government officials with knowledge of what was on them say they included interrogations of two prisoners, one of them, al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah.
The CIA says the tapes were destroyed in 2005, right in the middle of a major debate over whether the agency's actions amounted to torture. They were never made available in any terrorism trial, or even to the 9/11 commission.
DANIEL MARCUS, 9/11 COMMISSION GEN COUNSEL: If the commission had known at that stage that videotapes of some of the detainee interrogations existed, we would have insisted on seeing them.
ARENA: Hayden says the tapes were destroyed to protect CIA interrogators. If their identities were ever leaked, he argued, they could be targeted by al Qaeda. But it's not flying. SEN CARL LEVIN (D), ARMED SERVICES CHAIR: It's a pathetic excuse. They'd have to burn every document at the CIA that has the identity of an agent on it, under that theory.
ARENA (on camera): The CIA maintains there was no legal or internal reason to keep those tapes. In the meantime, the Justice Department says it has received the Congressional request to investigate and that it's in the process of fact-finding.
Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: So, who knew what and when? For that angle of the tapes controversy, we turn to CNN's Kathy Koch, who's on the phone from Washington.
So Kathleen, there is no real problem that the tapes were made. The problem is that they were destroyed and by whose order?
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And certainly right now, Fredricka, the new information is that is coming out is that the CIA, when it destroyed those tapes in 2005, apparently did it against the recommendation of top officials. One of them, CNN has learned, from a former intelligence official, was the CIA's own top lawyer, John Rizzo.
Now, the official says Rizzo, opposed the destruction of the tapes and he didn't find out until after the fact that it had been done. According to two administration officials, then senior White House aide, Harriet Miers, who later became White House counsel, she was also aware of the tapes. She told the CIA not to destroy them.
Now, the White House has been using very careful phrasing to describe who currently, in the White House, knew what when about the tapes. Deputy -- or excuse me, White House press secretary, Dana Perino, yesterday said that President Bush "has no recollection of being made aware of the tapes or their destruction before Thursday." That was when President Bush was briefed on the matter by the director of the CIA, Michael Hayden. An administration official says Vice President Dick Cheney first learned of the tapes at that same meeting.
But, right now the White House, Perino, would not characterize the president's reaction to the tape's destruction, whether he proved of it, only saying that he has complete confidence in Director Hayden -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And so, Kathleen, while John Rizzo is saying, you're quoted him as saying he advised them -- advised that these tapes not be destroyed and a former deputy director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, who's now a CNN analyst, this morning, said that it would not be his advice to destroy the tapes. Is anyone elaborating on why these tapes should not be destroyed?
KOCH: Well, again, as Kelli Arena pointed out in her piece, many people felt first of all this is valuable evidence. This is evidence that could be used in trials, against other terrorism suspects. The 9/11 commission had specifically asked for evidence like this. They wanted to see it better to understand what happened on 9/11, why, how do we prevent something like this in the future.
And indeed this is the sort of information that Congress also would like to know about and have preserved so there's a concern that the destruction of the tapes may have been actually a case of obstruction of justice and that's why there is this request for a Justice Department investigation, which the White House says if it does go forward, they will support it.
WHITFIELD: Kathleen Koch from Washington. Thanks so much.
KOCH: You bet.
WHITFIELD: Well, keeping up the pressure on Iran, that too is an objective in Washington. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, today, demanded that Iran come clean about its past nuclear program and vow not develop nuclear weapons.
Speaking at an international security conference in Bahrain, Gates urged Persian Gulf leaders to force Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program. Gate's remarks come days after a U.S. intelligence report concluded that Iran had stopped nuclear weapons development four years ago. The report contrasts sharply with Bush administration claims that Iran is working to make a nuclear bomb.
Well, less time in war zone. That may be the case for American soldiers in Iraq by late summer. Deployments have extended from 12 months to 15 months because of this year's so-called troop surge, but an Army general says the troops may go back to 12-month tours. How soon? Well that depends on the success of the war.
And shoppers are returning to Omaha's West Roads Mall, this hour. There is added security there and one glaring reminder of the shooting rampage that killed eight people. The Von Maur department store, scene of the massacre, remains closed for now. Robert Hawkins shot and killed his victims from the storm's third floor and then killed himself.
Well, surveillance video captured pictures of Hawkins as he walked into the mall on Wednesday. He was wearing a sweatshirt with Jack Daniels logo on it, right there. Another image from the video shows Hawkins with his automatic weapon raised as he carried out the shooting spree.
Hawkins was a troubled young man who had spent four years in a series of treatment centers, group homes and even foster care. In a suicide note released by police, apologized to his friends for what he had been saying that he put them through. He also said that he would be remembered as some sort of monster. In a separate note to his family, Hawkins again said that he was sorry and that he had just snapped. He also told specific people that he loved them, naming his mother, his father, and others. Hawkins also left a will giving his car back to his mom and leaving anything else to his friends. Well, Hawkins' victims included three men and five women. Funeral plans for some of them are now being announced. A wake for John McDonald of Council Bluffs, Iowa, is scheduled for tomorrow.
And Janet Jorgensen was one of the eight killed, she was 67 years old and an employee who worked at the store for 14 years. She is survived by three children and nine grandchildren. A grandson spoke about her devotion to her family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN HUSK, VICTIM'S GRANDSON: It's going to be really hard because grandma and grandpa were the definition of true love. They were the epitome of true love and had been married for 50 years and really showed and brought the family together. This situation is obviously going to bring us tighter, but one thing that grandpa and grandma always instilled in us is that family is the most important thing.
We've always had family get together and have taught us never to take anything for granted. Grandma knew that we loved her. It is just difficult obviously with the timing, graduations, and weddings and we're just going miss everything about her because she was the most loving, caring person in our lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Well, a friend of the family says Jorgensen had helped her husband through cancer and cared for her 94-year-old mother in the past year. Jorgensen's funeral is set for Monday in Omaha.
Well, take a look at this, the heavy snow on these trees right near Sacramento, California. A storm moved through yesterday and dumped as much as two feet of snow in the Sierras. And then take a look at this, this right here, Colorado, where two feet of new snow is creating quite the skier's paradise. Not everyone was having a great time, however. Heavy snow fall in Colorado is also being blamed for shutting down roads and causing several accidents which means a lot of those skiers who want to get to the slopes, can't.
And then take a look at this right now, live pictures out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Snow is falling so hard and fast in parts of Utah that it's pretty tough to get around there, as well. Snowplows are out in force and they will stay pretty busy. Forecasters say this is just the first stage of this storm.
Reynolds Wolf is in the weather center and folks there, they're so used to this. It, you know, comes in waves.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It really truly does. And it's really funny how this weather is affecting travel, Fredricka. It's affecting people in a bad way if you happen to be going down the road, but if you're traveling down the side of a mountain on skis, yeah, you'll be traveling fine. There's some great powder, there.
In terms of what is happening in Florida, in terms of the space shuttle, we've got a launch scheduled for tomorrow at 3:21. Take a look at the shots we have for you from Cape Canaveral. If you want to see the shuttle liftoff, and again, they've been having some mechanical issues, some technical issues, so, again, it's still not 100 percent that it will launch tomorrow, but right now we're looking at a 3:21 and the weather should cooperate, 3:21 liftoff.
Now, let's leave the Sunshine State of Florida where, again, conditions are into the that bad, back into the Midwest and parts of the Rockies, we're seeing a whole different story, not the sunshine but the snow, not in inches but in feet. Some places up to two, maybe three, even four feet of snow possible in parts of Colorado and into even Utah.
Now, in Durango, doesn't look like there's a whole lot of activity for the time being. But into this afternoon, the snow is really going to pick up in intensity. Already we've got watches, warnings, advisories scattered all the way through the Rockies, back over to Salt Lake City and even into places like Snowbird, you could see two to three feet of snow.
And I will tell you one thing, despite the heavy snowfall and despite the roads, resorts are all open, places like steamboat, every single one of the lifts are open. They're enjoying the wonderful conditions out there, the powder. So, if you have the means, by all means, go out West. But, in parts of the Midwest, we're seeing a different story. It's the uncomfortable problems that we're seeing along parts of I-70, a little bit of icing near Saint Louis back up towards Peoria.
The snow is going to continue to fall and yes, we've got advisories scattered throughout the Midwest and just to the south of the Great Lakes, you could be seeing problems throughout much of the weekend.
OK, Fred, got you completely covered. Going to send it back to you.
WHITFIELD: I know. I feel completely informed.
WOLF: That's the job we've got.
WHITFIELD: OK, job done.
WOLF: You bet.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks, Reynolds.
WHITFIELD: All right, well, this man paid tribute to the men and women who served in World War II, this man right here. He's also a best-seller of "The Greatest Generation." Now Tom Brokaw is taking a look at another tumultuous time in American history, tumultuous and pivotal. I'll speak to him about his reflections in his new book "Boom," straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. And today, presidential candidate, Barack Obama, is bringing in the star power indeed. Will Oprah Winfrey have an impact on your vote?
WHITFIELD: On to presidential politics, we want to take you to Charleston, South Carolina, where former president, Bill Clinton is campaigning on behalf of his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, right there in Charleston, speaking before a number of more seasoned, kind of senior, members of the fraternity and sority groups there, post graduate years who are listening to him talk about healthcare. Let's listen in.
BILL CLINTON (D), FMR U.S. PRESIDENT: ...over half of the bankruptcies filed in America in this decade have been filed because of a family healthcare emergency. In the country as a hole, 16 percent of the people never have any health insurance. No other rich country in the world fails to insure everybody. At any point during the year, a third of our people will not be insured. And as I'm sure people in this audience know, sometimes you think you health insurance until you get something kind of funny and then you don't have it after all.
South Carolina has been hit by this. And because the disparities in healthcare availability and costs run along the income line they also run along the color line. And I just want to give you some -- I got to put my specs on, because I'm not as young as I used to be, but I want to give you some specific consequences of the failure to provide affordable quality healthcare to all Americans in this state.
Infant mortality in South Carolina is 2-1/2 times almost higher for African-American babies than for others, 14.5 percent versus six percent per thousand -- 100,000. African-Americans make up 29 percent of South Carolina's population, but 72 percent of the people living with AIDS, 51 percent of the people living with cancer.
Now, Hillary has been working on this issue for a long time. And as you know it, this disproportionately affects children and especially poor children, children in foster homes, children without parents, children without parents that have good jobs that carry health insurance. When I was governor of Arkansas, 30 years ago, almost...
WHITFIELD: Former president, Bill Clinton, stumping for his wife there in Charleston, South Carolina while Hillary Clinton's arch rival, Barack Obama, is trying to get a boost in New Hampshire and Iowa with the help of a TV celebrity type of Oprah Winfrey. Our Candy Crowley is in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the locations where you'll be seeing the -- I guess the celebrities pour out, as well as the regular voters streaming in to hear what Oprah Winfrey has to say on behalf of Barack Obama.
But first, Candy, let me ask you about the Clintons and their strategy of the use of the president on the campaign trail for Senator Clinton. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously this isn't first time that the former president has been out with his wife, the candidate. He's been here a number of times to Iowa, he's been in New Hampshire, he's been in South Carolina. So, look, inside the Democratic Party, you'd probably have to go back to JFK, Roosevelt, someone like that to get someone more popular inside the party than Bill Clinton is. He is a draw.
But, I think if you were going to sort of try to match falderal (ph) and, you know, the kind of happening, you would probably go this weekend with Oprah Winfrey. I mean, this is a non-politician who yes, endorsing Barack Obama. But she's going to be a huge draw in these three states of New Hampshire and South Carolina and Iowa.
WHITFIELD: And so you do have to wonder, how much of an impact, while I guess the real sought after voting bloc would be the women between 25 and 50, exactly the audience that an Oprah Winfrey appeals to, and that's the kind of voting bloc that Barack Obama needs to put him over the top, right? Is that what he's counting on?
CROWLEY: Absolutely. Absolutely, this is the most sought after voting bloc, obviously because Hillary Clinton who would be the first female president, but also because women tend to vote more than men do, they vote in greater percentages, they vote in greater numbers, here in Iowa and nationwide.
So, this is who they're going after, this is clearly what the Oprah Winfrey trip is about, is to bring in those women. Now, yes, they're coming to hear her speak, but, of course, with the Obama campaign has in mind is you bring all these people in, she's the big draw and then what do you get? You get Barack Obama and you get to hear his pitch. So, it's sort of the one-two show here, she brings them in, he tries to close the deal.
WHITFIELD: All right, Candy Crowley, thanks so very much, from Des Moines, part of the best political team on television. And be sure to join us for live coverage of the Oprah Winfrey Barack Obama appearance that comes your way later on today 4:30 Eastern, 1:30 Pacific Time, right here in the NEWSROOM.
Well, if Mike Huckabee's campaign staff seems a little giddy today, well, it could be because of a new "Newsweek" poll. It shows Huckabee has doubled his lead over Mitt Romney in Iowa among voters who say they are likely to attend the Republican caucus. But, don't get carried away. Nearly every other poll, such as this recent one by the American Research Group, shows that Huckabee and Romney are statistically tied in Iowa.
Well, you thought Elian Gonzalez, that custody battle was bad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about the child and the damage that would be done to him and it just makes me sick.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Meet Gabriel and a custody battle that could be even messier.
WHITFIELD: "Across America," at this hour, in Atlanta, federal agents say they have hobbled two Mexican drug cartels, arriving 67 people and seizing nearly 245 pounds of cocaine and millions in cash. Agents say the Atlanta area is a major pipeline for illegal drugs.
And a horrible tragedy at a Christmas parade in Plant City, Florida. A 9-year-old boy was dragged under the wheels of a float and killed. Making it worse, people screamed for the driver to back up and when he did, he ran over the boy a second time.
Also in Florida, these Christmas decorations, the sad remains of a neighborhood feud that left the owner charged with attempted murder. Police say Matthew Langford shot a neighbor who ran over the ornaments with his pickup truck. The driver is in stable condition.
And from Texas, this just release released dash cam video, right here, high speed police chase and then, whoa, that motorcycle slamming into the patrol car head on. Pretty hard to believe the biker and his passenger actually survived it. Hard to see. Police say the chase started after the biker blew through a red light.
And Barry Bonds goes to court. Will baseball's home run champion win his legal battle?
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice-over): Using a household product to fill up your tank on this week's "Modern Living."
If you're tired of paying too much at the pump, companies like Lovecraft Bio-fuels may have a solution, using vegetable oil, new or used in the tank of your diesel car.
TRACEE WEBB, LOVECRAFT BIO-FUELS: Our system is the one tank system where you can put bio-diesel, diesel, or vegetable oil or waste vegetable oil all in one tank.
WILLIS: This system can only be used in diesel cars. The gas tank is converted so that it can run on vegetable oil. Converting your tank costs between $800 to $1300, depending on the vehicle. So, long-term it may be easier on your wallet and better for the environment.
With this week's "Modern Living", I'm Gerri Willis.
WHITFIELD: Happening this hour, shoppers are returning to the Omaha mall where a gunman killed eight people and himself on Wednesday. Funeral services for some of the victims are planned for Monday.
And this from senior Bush administration officials, former White House counsel, Harriet Miers, told the CIA not to destroy videotaped interrogations of some al Qaeda suspects. The CIA says the tapes were destroyed to protect the identities of its interrogators.
And home run king, Barry Bonds will slug out his legal problems in court. Kara Finnstrom reports, he was mugging for fans and signing autographs after yesterday's arraignment on prudery charges.
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the crush of cameras outside, Barry Bonds walked into a San Francisco courtroom and entered a not guilty plea. Bonds maintaining he did not lie to a Grand Jury when he denied knowingly using performance enhancing drugs.
ALLEN RUBY, BARRY BONDS' ATTORNEY: Barry Bonds is innocent. He has trust and faith in the justice system. He will defend these charges and we're confident of a good outcome.
FINNSTROM: Back in 2003, Bonds and several other athletes testified before that Grand Jury under a grant of immunity. Federal investigators were looking into allegations of steroid distribution by a San Francisco area company.
JEAN ROSENBLUTH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: When they say to you, hey, we're not going to touch you, we're not going to prosecute you, just tell us the truth, and then they have reason to believe he lied anyway, they're going to go after you.
FINNSTROM: The message was also sent to Olympic medallist Marion Jones. The track star admitted lying to the same Grand Jury about steroid use, forfeited her medals and now faces possible jail time.
The government says its evidence against Bonds includes positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.
(on camera): Barry Bonds showed little emotion during the proceedings, but at one point, he did turn to a group of his fans wearing baseball attire in that packed courtroom and he smiled. And then a little later when he was leaving the courthouse, he stopped and actually signed some autographs. His next court date has been set for February 7th. But he won't have to appear at that one.
In San Francisco, Kara Finnstrom, for CNN.
WHITFIELD: Well, another athlete in trouble with the law. Suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. He'll be sentenced Monday on federal dogfighting convictions and Vick could get up to five years behind bars.
Our legal experts will examine the cases against Michael Vick and Barry Bonds about two hours from now right here in the NEWSROOM.
Well, TV viewing could come down to see it again TV. Talks between entertainment writers and studio reps broke down again last night. Word is they're not even close to an agreement. Writers walked out last month demanding more money from DVD sales and Internet streams. The latest stall was apparently triggered when writers demanded jurisdiction over reality shows and animations.
And another airline close call to tell you about this morning. It happened at Newark Liberty Airport where a landing passenger jet flew right over a smaller plane on the runway. They came within just 300 feet of colliding. The FAA is investigating Thursday night's incident. The planes involved Continental flight 573 and Continental Express flight 2558.
Check in again with Reynolds Wolf. We've got a pretty mixed bag, a lot of snow out west, a lot of other kind of moisture in the middle. And then, lots of clouds and fog in other places, too. You fill in the blanks.
WHITFIELD: So weather, it's not apparently the reason for another delay in launching the space shuttle "Atlantis." Today's planned launch has been put off until at least tomorrow because of problems with engine sensors. And so far, it has been pushed back to tomorrow. We'll be watching closely to see if those faulty sensors could cause the engines to shut down during the launch all together, or whether things will be a go.
All right, well, his dad is in prison, his mom is in another state, his grandmother in Mexico, and his foster parents are now in limbo. An American toddler may be taken away from the only parents he's really ever known to live with a Mexican relative that he's never met.
CNN's Ted Rowlands reports.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He has no idea, but two-year-old Gabriel Allred is in the middle of an international custody tug of war between his foster parents in the United States and his grandmother in Mexico.
Since he was four months old, Gabriel, whose mother lost custody because of drug use, has lived with Steve and Angela Brandt in this home in Toledo, Oregon. When Gabriel's mother fled Oregon to avoid prison, the Brandts decided to adopt the little boy that they'd fallen in love with.
STEVE BRANDT, GABRIEL'S FOSTER FATHER: She never showed up. We just started thinking that, yes, we will be adopting Gabriel and that's what the case workers were telling us, too.
ROWLANDS: But part of the adoption process includes a search for suitable blood relatives. Gabriel was born in the United States, his mother is a U.S. citizen. His father is Mexican, who lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years illegally, serving time for drug trafficking, and attempted rape of a 12-year-old girl. He's now awaiting deportation.
The father has no parental rights, but his mother, 51-year-old Cecelia Martinez, does, and she says she wants Gabriel to live with her in a suburb of Mexico City.
CECILIA MARTINEZ, GABRIEL'S GRANDMOTHER (through translator): This is going to be the room of the boy.
ROWLANDS: Cecilia says she's excited to raise Gabriel and promises to keep him away from his father.
C. MARTINEZ (through translator): He would be well educated and raised well.
ROWLANDS: After stacking both families side by side, the state decided that Gabriel's grandmother, Cecelia, should raise him, not the Brandts.
ANGELA BRANDT, GABRIEL'S FOSTER MOTHER: It's about the child and the damage that would be done to him, and it just -- it just makes me sick.
ROWLANDS: Gabriel's biological mother, who we tracked down out of state, says she's following the case over the Internet and wants the Brandts to raise her son.
LINDSEY ALLRED, GABRIEL'S BIOLOGICAL MOTHER: They, God, they love him so much and he's just so attached to them. You can see by the video, they're just -- they're good people.
ROWLANDS (on camera): And you want him to stay there?
(voice-over): From jail, Gabriel's father says he promises not to see his son, but he wants him in Mexico.
ROBERTO VALIENTE MARTINEZ, GABRIEL'S BIOLOGICAL FATHER: You know, to grow up with his real family and learn all his background and stuff, that's what I would like if it was up to me.
ROWLANDS: The state of Oregon won't comment on the details of each family's evaluation, but blood relatives are given an edge.
GREG PARKER, OREGON DEPT. OF HUMAN SERVICES: If there are family members that we feel would be a good home for the children that are in our care, it doesn't matter where they are.
C. MARTINEZ (through translator): If he comes, he'll notice we have the same blood and we are his family.
A. BRANDT: Blood is not always the best solution for a child. Otherwise, you would be insulting adoptive parents everywhere.
ROWLANDS: Oregon's governor has stepped in and has ordered a review of the case, eventually it may be resolved in court.
GABRIEL ALLRED: Bye.
ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Toledo, Oregon.
WHITFIELD: Also straight ahead, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw on his look back at the civil rights movement and the hippie generation.
AMY CHEN, ASST. EDITOR, BUDGET TRAVEL: Getting a Visa can be a ticket of red tape or it can be as easy as pie. But whether you should hire someone or do it yourself depends on where you're going.
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Travel document systems three to seven day service is $45 and passportvisasexpress.com charges $59 for a seven day processing. Egypt and Kenya are both great do-it-yourself countries. U.S. passport holders can pay the required fee at the airports upon arrival. As for India, opt for the $60, six month tourist Visa.
And if you're looking for immediate results, you can always visit the specific countries' consulate or embassy. That's if you're lucky enough to live near one.
WHITFIELD: Perhaps that takes you back to the '60s. Well, Tom Brokaw, well, he came up with the phrase "the greatest generation" to describe Americans who survived the Great Depression and won World War II. Well now, he's looking at the generation that followed, the Boomers. I talked with him about his new book "Boom! Voices of the Sixies.
WHITFIELD: So, Tom, what made you reflect on the sixties?
TOM BROKAW, AUTHOR, "BOOM!": Well, it seemed like it was yesterday, to me, for one thing, Fredricka. You know, I can't imagine that 40 years have passed. You got to remember, I was a crew cut young man out of the Great Plains of South Dakota, a real '50s child and then boom, the world began to change around me.
First, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the president, that triggered a whole sequence of events. I came to Atlanta, covered the civil rights movement, heard Dr. King preach at Ebenezer, made a big impression on me. Went to California in 1966, this guy Ronald Reagan was just deciding to run for governor.
But the counterculture was blowing up all around me. You know, suddenly, we had this group called hippies. And they were smoking dope openly and defying authority and then, the soundtrack of the time was the best. You had the whole Motown crowd, for example, Marvin Gay and the Supremes and Janice Joplin, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, who was the godfather of all of them, James Taylor, Paul Simon, on and on. And you could hear that fabulous music.
But it was a troublesome time for the country. It was deeply divided. And a lot of people wondered whether we could survive.
WHITFIELD: So, deeply divided in this huge confluence of events, good and bad, are you seeing some real parallels between the 60s ...
BROKAW: And now?
WHITFIELD: ...and now?
BROKAW: To some degree. Look, we are a much different nation now, and we're far better off for the 60s. You're sitting where you are, doing the job that you're doing. That didn't happen in the 1960s. That's a pure product of that time. We're a much more tolerant nation in many ways. In other ways, we're more deeply divided because our politics became bitter. And there is no determination to try to find common ground.
And the problems that are left out there are, in some ways, more vexing. Take women. Now, half the classes in America and medical school, more than half are women, same thing in law school. About half in business school. They go to work. Age 33, 34, they want to have a child, something called a mommy track kicks in. How do they go back to work? Is there a place for them?
And black America, the black underclass as we saw in Katrina, and across this country, those are more vexing problems than we had 40 years ago than just fundamental questions of equality and opportunity. This is a tough one to fix.
So, what I always say about the '60s and life in general, it is more complicated than it seems from the outside.
WHITFIELD: It is complicated, but you summed it up in a word, boom, which really seems very appropriate. And if you don't mind, would you be able to read a passage that I think really sums up the journey through the '60s ...
BROKAW: Sure, sure.
WHITFIELD: ...that you encapsulate in these 600 pages. I marked it with those brackets there.
BROKAW: "Boom, one minute it was Ike and the man in the gray flannel suit and the lonely crowd and the next minute, it was time to turn on, tune in, drop out. Time for we shall overcome but also burn, baby burn.
While Americans were walking on the moon, Americans were dying in Vietnam. There were assassinations and riots. Jackie Kennedy became Jackie O. There were tie-dye shirts and hard hats. Black power and law and order, Martin Luther King, Jr. and George Wallace, Ronald Reagan and Tom Hayden, Gloria Steinem and Anita Bryant, Mick Jagger and Wayne Newton. Well, you get the idea. Boom."
WHITFIELD: And I'll bring you parts of my conversation with Tom Brokaw throughout the weekend here. Right after this break, he talks about being a weekend hippie who turned into a guy in a suit come Monday morning.
WHITFIELD: So, you may know former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw mostly as news man. Well, in his new book "Boom! Voices of the Sixties," Brokaw reveals a little known hippie side to him. Here's more now of my conversation with Tom Brokaw.
WHITFIELD: Some of the folks that you interviewed or you reflected with, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Judy Collins, some of the famous ones. And the not so famous, Charlene Stimli Priester (ph) and Wita Barnett Atkins (ph). When they told you about their evolution I guess, or even revolution, did you kind of learn something more about who you were in the 60s as you went back?
BROKAW: Yes, I did. I think that Charlene Priester and Anita Atkins are two of my favorite stories. Charlene Priester was a young black woman in a section called Georgetown, a traditional black neighborhood in Jackson. When the Civil Rights Act was passed, she had a chance to go off to the north to go to college. And heard for the first time the "N" word used against her. She had not heard it in the south, but she had lived a difficult life there because she was a young black woman in the heart of Mississippi. Got a lot of grief, came back, family practice with her siblings in Jackson, the most prominent practice in town.
Wita Atkins' father, Ross Barnett, who was the governor of Mississippi, who denied James Meredith admission and almost turned that episode into a Civil War re-enacted. Wita, many years later, is asked by the principle of the biggest black high school in Jackson to fill in as a substitute, stays for 12 years and has a whole racial epiphany. She understands now much better what she didn't understand then about the black culture and hopes and aspirations and the needs. It was a life changing experience for her.
So, there were many journeys during the 1960s. And we ought not just to fixate on the flower children or smoking dope or some of the excesses of the time. We can learn from this experience, I think.
WHITFIELD: I love how it sounds like it was a little self- discovery for you. You talked about being a generation straddler (ph).
BROKAW: It was ...
WHITFIELD: Between the 50s and the 60s.
BROKAW: I was born in 1940. So, I grew up kind of in the '50s and that was pretty straight arrow. A lot of kids my age, my part of the world drank too much beer, didn't do well the first couple of years of college, got my act together, got married very young, started having children young.
And then on weekends in California, in the '60s, I got to a point where I could put on my bell bottom trousers, my peasant shirt and my sandals and go off to the Renaissance Fair, you know, take my kids out there ...
BROKAW: We had a friend who was a hippie potter and he would be throwing pots and it was a different time. And on Monday morning, I was back at my desk in my button down shirt and my narrow tie.
WHITFIELD: In our 2:00 p.m. Eastern hour, Tom Brokaw talks about the first time he went to Ground Zero of the '60s hippie movement. Hate Ashbury and how does he remember all that? He reveals the answer to that as well.
And the stars certainly turn out to help CNN honor some unsung heroes. That, too, is straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.
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TYRA BANKS, TALK SHOW HOST: It is an honor to present the CNN hero for championing children, Steve Pfeiffer (ph).
STEVE PFEIFFER, CNN HERO: I just got kissed by Tyra Banks. And I figured out the odds of somebody like me being kissed by her about the same as a meteorite striking this building in 15 minutes. So, I would start ducking if I were you.
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WHITFIELD: Oh, yes and why am I here? All right, well, that was a light hearted moment from a star-studded ceremony honoring the CNN heroes, A tribute to ordinary people doing pretty extraordinary things. Well, they were nominated by you, the viewers, and we brought you many of their stories over the past few months, like Steve Pfeiffer right there, who was honored for his work helping schoolchildren in Kenya by providing them with meals and computer centers.
Well, CNN was happy to honor all of them and our Alina Cho has more highlights from the ceremony.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The stories are heart breaking and heart warming, each and every one highlighting a person who is making a difference. It was a star-studded night, Mary J. Blige, Norah Jones and Sheryl Crow were among the performers. Those CNN honored you may not know their names. But their stories certainly are worth remembering.
Take Pablo Bihardo (ph). He sued for millions to clean up pollution left from oil drilling in the Amazon. Actor Jimmy Smits presented that award to Pablo and I talked to him backstage.
JIMMY SMITS, ACTOR: I'm really profoundly moved by some of them, people from all over the world, all walks of life. You get a sense of what an everyday person can do with fortitude as Pablo.
CHO: Another honoree last night was Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe from Uganda. Now, Sister Rosemary runs a school aimed at rehabilitating young girls she says were abducted by soldiers and made into sex slaves. She says she never expected to be recognized for her work.
You sound more than worthy of this award.
SISTER ROSEMARY NYIRUMBE, CNN HERO: Well, I feel very happy when I see this girls changing but overtime, there is no limit. We don't give them (ph) -- go this way, thank you, Rosemary, through the CNN people.
CHO: And then, there's Wesley Autrey from New York. We call him the subway hero around this city. Autry risked his own life to save a man who fell onto the tracks. And New York Giants star Michael Strahan presented that award.
MICHAEL STRAHAN, NEW YORK GIANTS: When he says, you know what, I went down there to save that life, but also with the intention of coming back to the two lives I left on that platform ...
CHO: That's really what you were thinking?
WESLEY AUTREY, CNN HERO: Yes, yes, that helped me to stay calm, cool and collected, and you know, I got back to my daughters, you know, and went on.
CHO: And in case you missed "CNN Heroes" last night, you can catch it again tonight starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.
I'm Alina Cho, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: And of course, if you missed the all-star salute to CNN heroes or perhaps you want to see it again, you can. Catch the encore presentation tonight, 8:00 Eastern, only on CNN.
Straight ahead, a look at the top stories in a moment. "YOUR MONEY" is next.
ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST: Thanks.
Coming up on "YOUR MONEY," the White House plan for the housing market and whether it can push the economy back on track.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Plus, what this week's jobs report can tell you about the future of your cash.
VELSHI: And how to get through your annual review without hating your boss or frankly, yourself.
ROMANS: "YOUR MONEY" starts right after Now in the News.
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