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CNN Newsnight Aaron Brown

Voices of 9/11

Aired August 15, 2005 - 22:00   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSNIGHT: Good evening again. We begin tonight with a basic fact of human nature. People want to know, even if knowing hurts. Even though knowing is not the same as understanding or healing.
Basic, yes. Simple, hardly. Tonight, knowing means reliving the early hours of 9/11 through the radio transmissions and the recollections of police and firefighters and other first responders; they were made public after a lawsuit brought by "The New York Times." It means knows how people worked that day which, of course, means knowing how they died. Hoping that knowing somehow helps. We begin first with CNN's Deborah Feyerick.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The World Trade Center, Tower Number 1 is on fire. The whole left side of the building. There was just a huge explosion.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They are the voices from that day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Engine 1-0, World Trade Center, 10-60. Send every available ambulance, everything you've got to the World Trade Center now.

FEYERICK: Everyone racing to help. Unaware of how bad it would get.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got 02, what I say, 02 Victor, 1-0 Adams conditions, 0-4. Come one, everybody over there, just give me a second.

FEYERICK: The radios were jammed. Too many people, too few frequencies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All units at this time, unless you are assigned to the MCI, you need to keep off the frequency.

FEYERICK: MCI, short for mass casualty incident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayday, mayday, another plane hit the second tower.

FEYERICK: Everything moving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All companies assigned to 1377 box, you are to respond into the Manhattan fifth alarm at 2 World Trade Center.

FEYERICK: Everything standing still.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey central, somebody's gotta call and get them to open up the highways. We have numerous ambulance stuck on (INAUDIBLE) because of the traffic.

FEYERICK: It was the largest attempted rescue in New York City history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The 86th floor, building one, room 8617, people trapped. Also in building two, 97th floor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't get there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have six people trapped.

FEYERICK: A rescue shattered by the unspeakable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Be advised, we have jumpers there, jumpers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Division 1 be advised, Battalion 2, advised you have jumpers from the World Trade Center.

FEYERICK: Then, this warning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've just been advised, the North Tower is leaning north. All operations are being moved north of the tower.

FEYERICK: Even today no one knows how many firefighters actually heard the warning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The World Trade Center collapsed. Building 2 has collapsed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Urgent! Urgent! Everybody get out. We had a collapse of the second tower. Everybody is running from there.

FEYERICK: And then, darkness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are in total blackness with a cardiac arrest patient. Honestly, we have no way to get out of here. The visibility is none. And we're not able to breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything south of the Brooklyn Bridge is in a dust cloud. There's no visibility. People all over the streets.

FEYERICK: The rescue had become a retreat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're retreating towards the water because the debris is still falling on us. Second going down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Building 2 has come down. Building 2 has come down. FEYERICK: With it, more than 2700 lives, 343 of them, firefighters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any injuries to members of the department, volunteers or firefighters at your location?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's multiple injuries. We're still trying to ascertain. Myself, injured and Chief Browne is checking himself out now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we're trying to recoup. We lost all units here at this area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George, have them mobilize the army. We need the army in Manhattan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. All units stand by. Everybody try to calm down.

FEYERICK: Voices of history, frozen in time. Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


BROWN: Well, if that was the big picture of that horrible day, almost four years ago, here, then, say smaller one. One man's recollection, Bob Larocco, of the New York City Fire Department, New York's bravest, they are called, and they are.

He gave his account a month after the attack. He was on a day off. He lost 10 members of his firehouse that day. He very nearly died. His words tonight, in his voice.


LT. BOB LAROCCO, FIREFIGHTER, LADDER 9: We all heard a plane that sounded like it was in trouble. So everyone stopped what they were doing. I kind of thought to myself that it was headed toward Newark Airport. I didn't think much of it.

And then I heard a dull thud. I kind of stopped in my tracks and stopped for a second, and said, nah. People started running out of the stores on Second Avenue there. They were saying, oh, God, oh, God, a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center.

I go back to that point in time. Something I'll never forget.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to the Trade Center.

LARROCCO: I wanted to make my way into the Towers. I was most familiar with the South Tower, so I figured I'd operate there. On the second floor of the South Tower, northwest end of the building, there's a stairway there. People were evacuating down the stairway. From time to time, I'd ask the people what floor are you from? Hey you guys, what floor are you guys coming from? They said 51. Then I'd wait a few minutes. Then I'd wait. Where you from? 63. People were coming down from 88 and 89.

As I put my foot on the first floor of the escalator, the building started shaking. It was like a wave in the floor and a real loud noise. It was the loudest noise I've ever heard in my life. It was in both ears, kind of like those rockets they use to launch the space shuttles with.

I was running as fast as I could with this noise getting louder and louder. Also what's happening simultaneously was light. Whatever light was becoming darkness like obscuring and getting dark fast, like someone was pulling down the shades on us fast.

When I felt I was getting overtaken by the collapse, where there was no hope, I threw myself on my knees at the next concrete column that I came up against. I kept that on my right side. I held on to my helmet with my hands and yelled out, "Jesus save me!" with that the collapse came, and I started getting buried.

At that point in time, it was probably easier for me to just give up my ghost and let go and die. But I was determined to get out and assist in the rescue effort.

I opened my eyes to see if I could see anything. I saw nothingness, total blackness. The best way I could describe it to you was if I was buried in my coffin with six feet of dirt thrown upon it.

Then I started crawling. The map I had in my mind, I knew I had to make my way down to the first level and from there try to get out. I found what I was looking for. I found doors with push bars. Through the dust I could see sunlight. I was able to look out the door, and I saw everything had collapsed.

With my legs, I pushed the door with all my force that I had in my body. I was pushing for my life. Even pushing for my life, I can only get the door open 10 inches. But leave it or not, I was able to work my way out the door open there.

You have to reach deep inside of you and show yourself what you're made out of and make your best moves and get the job done.

The next second I heard the loudest noise in the world that I was describing before, getting louder and louder. What I did was make a 180 and started running north up the west side West Street. I got on my knees, behind the rig, and with my left hand, I put it on my helmet and held my helmet on my head. Did that, we got hit and we got hit really hard. The collapse came. The noise level was very, very loud. Zero visibility again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just stay put, stay put. LAROCCO: We walked north for a distance. You get more and more visibility. Then you kind of stepped out into the sunshine. Almost like the cloud ended and fresh air began.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was complete darkness.

LAROCCO: I do recall looking back at that area and figured to myself that I couldn't believe that there was so much hate in the world, that people would actually do something like this.

At that point, we hear a plane. It actually turned out to be two planes. And they were closing in on us with their motors getting louder and louder. They were two F-15 fighters. I saw them. They were fully armed and they had the dual tail.

And I started yelling, "Hey, guys! Look! Those are our planes. Those are our planes." Other guys started yelling it. Everyone stood at their feet and everyone was cheering. I'll tell you, even at this point, I was kind of beat up at the time, but I wasn't going to give up. I stood up straight, looked at those planes as they circled us to protect us. And I felt really proud to be an American.

I remember when I stood up, I had goose bumps, and even a chill ran through my body. It was that kind of feeling.

I was just doing my job that day, kind of what was expected of me. The real heroes are the guys that didn't make it home. That they gave their all.


BROWN: That was the work of NEWSNIGHT producer Maryann Fox.

Somebody once said that memory is the only way home, to which we might add that each of us travels that road differently.


BROWN (voice over): We thought we knew, understood, the horror of the day. We had lived it, but not like they lived it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The World Trade Center, Tower Number 1, is on fire. The whole outside of the building, there was just a huge explosion.

BROWN: Our memories are not like theirs. We lived it. They lived through it. And lived with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Need every available ambulance. Everything you got at the World Trade Center now.

BROWN: Firefighter Maureen McArdle Shulman (ph) first heard someone yell that something was falling. "We didn't know what it was at first. But then the first body hit, and then after that we knew what it was. And they were just like, constant. I was getting sick. I felt like I was intruding on a sacrament. They were choosing to die, and I was watching them and should not have been. So me and another guy turned away and looked at the wall. And we could still hear them hit."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are they jumping?

BROWN: An EMT responding to the disaster. Fazel Abed (ph) recalls seeing the second plane heading for the South Tower.

"We see the shiny object coming and me and my partner are going, what the hell? What's wrong with that plane? There is something not right with that plane. And he just -- the tower blew. I thought it was Hollywood. I thought this was an act."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a second plane into the other tower, the Tower of the Trade Center, major fire.

BROWN: The way we remember can make a surreal counterpoint to what we remember. Paramedic Kenneth Davis on the scene playing out before him.

"There were police officers everywhere, firemen everywhere, apparatus all over the place. It was kind of like a discotheque, is the easiest way to describe it. The lights from the trucks and the fog machines. That's how it looked. People screaming and running and tripping all over each other."

The oral histories recount moments, little moments lived by extraordinary people. In the North Tower, small moments that look so much larger now, even four years later. Lieutenant William Walsh came upon firefighters taking a rest.

"I told them, didn't you hear the mayday? Get out. They were saying, yeah, yeah. We'll be right with you, Lou. They just didn't give it a second thought."

At 9:58, the South Tower collapsed in 10 seconds. Chief Mark Stephens hid beneath his SUB. "The thing blew over us. I felt heat. I felt all kinds of debris and stuff hitting my body. When I opened my eyes, it was pitch black. When I opened my eyes a second time, it was like skiing in a blizzard. It was just white, a sea of white, and everything blowing around."

And then, Lieutenant Brendan Whalen remembers the quiet and what followed. "After the initial collapse, there was total silence on the radios, the department radio. The next thing, members that were trapped in vehicles were screaming over their handsets."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayday, mayday, mayday!

"A couple of guys were saying they were trapped. They were buried. They couldn't breathe, they were running out of air. When I heard the dispatcher's reaction to it, I realized everybody that heard those transmissions thought they were going into hell."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George, have them mobilize the army. We need the army in Manhattan. BROWN: Of all the words we've read, the words of EMS Chief Zack Goldfarb stand out. They capture the day. The sad reality of the worst day.

"As I thought about it later, it was the first time in my life that I ever felt an incident beat us. We're leaving behind our wounded. We were just trudging through the dust like a defeated army. It just felt terrible."


BROWN: I was down at ground zero today, doing something for "CNN Presents," and I was struck by how little it looked like ground zero, four years ago in, what, three weeks.

About a quarter past the hour now. Time for some of the other stories that made news today. Erica Hill joins us tonight, again, from Atlanta.

Good evening, Ms. Hill.


This is actually a story kind of feels like a broken record because we keep telling you about it. Gas prices up again. But get this, Americans aren't letting up on their driving. The Department of Energy says a gallon of gas is averaging now $2.55, 67 cents higher than the same time last year. But demand is also up, by 1 percent. And the big carmakers say July SUV sales were strong.

A federal judge has ordered a Muslim cleric to leave the country following a terrorism investigation. The FBI says Shabbier Ahmed (ph), who was arrested for overstaying his visa, had connections to Al Qaeda. Ahmed will likely be sent back to Pakistan within two weeks.

Last month he was named Marine of the year. Today an Iraq war veteran is fighting a charge of attempted murder. Daniel Cotnoir is accused by police of firing into a nightclub crowd and wounding two people. He has pleaded not guilty.

And Aaron, that's the latest at just about quarter past the hour. We'll have a little more in a little bit.

BROWN: Thank you, well see you in about 30 minutes.

Much more ahead on the program tonight, starting with the mystery of 32,000 feet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Didn't they see the problem? I want them to be severely punished.

BROWN (voice over): He lost a family. He wants to know why. And he is not alone. What went wrong and turned a 737 into a flying coffin with fighter pilots helplessly looking on?

Later, they can make a difference between life and death in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's body armor, and then there's body armor. We're now into the third upgrade.

BROWN: So why aren't enough troops getting the good stuff?

Also, why are they clapping? They missed the deadline. We'll talk about where this leaves the United States and Iraq.

Plus, he's 46 and still in the show. How does he swing it? And what can aging athletes tell us about staying young? This is not about The Juice. This is, however, NEWSNIGHT.

BROWN: It will no doubt be some time before we know officially why a Boeing 737, with 121 people on board, crashed yesterday in Greece. The first autopsy reports offer some intriguing information. At least six people were alive when the plane crashed. But what happened? Where was the pilot? Why did the co-pilot pass out? Why was a flight attendant in the cockpit? What caused the crash?

And what have police in Cypress, where the airline is based, served a search warrant on the company? Questions all, tonight. Here's CNN's Chris Burns.


CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A day after the crash of Helios Airlines Flight 522, the victims' relatives demand an explanation. This man lost his daughter-in-law and three grandsons.

ANASTSIOS DOULAS, LOST FOUR RELATIVES IN CRASH: "Those responsible have created a flying death trap," he says. "Didn't they see the problem? I want them to be severely punished."

The Boeing 737 was on its way from Larnaca, Cyprus, to Prague, Czech Republic, via Athens. Shortly after takeoff, officials say the pilot radioed he had an air conditioning problem and remained at 16,000 feet. He later said the issue was resolved, and he is headed to cruising altitude, 32,000 feet.

That's when something went wrong as the plane entered Greek airspace, its radio fell silent. It circled three times to the right in a distress pattern. Two Greek F-16s scrambled to chase the airliner. Flying up close, they saw the pilot missing from the cockpit and a co-pilot slumped over. Oxygen masks were dangling from the ceiling as they did throughout the plane. No indication yet whether they worked.

PETER GOELZ, FMR. NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: The masks have independent oxygen systems. And they are trained to get the plane down to below 10,000 feet. In which people can breathe on their own. It's very perplexing about why the crew was not able to respond. BURNS: Authorities said it suggested a rapid loss of cabin pressure, what could result from an equipment malfunction or something that broke open the fuselage. At least one other person was seen in the cockpit, a flight attendant, trying to take the controls. Her body was later found next to the co-pilots.

The F-16 pilots watched helplessly as the plane cruised on and crashed in fireball in a mountainside north of Athens. In the search through the wreckage, much remains a mystery.

For one, the pilots' body is among those yet to be found. Why would the flight attendant have been conscious when the pilots were incapacitated? Could she have had access to their oxygen tanks in the cockpit, as officials suggest?

(On camera): What could offer answers are autopsies of the victims here in Athens. So far the coroner says it appears at the time of the crash they were alive, though possibly unconscious.

(Voice over): More clues could come from the black box data and voice recorders found in the wreckage. But authorities say the voice box was badly damaged and may be useless. As in any such crash, the terrorism or sabotage scenarios arise. So far authorities are playing them down. Though not ruling them out. Grieving relatives are demanding answers. And want whoever is responsible to pay dearly. Their loved ones on that mystery flight already have, with their lives. Chris Burns, CNN, Athens.


BROWN: In many ways this is the opposite of what happened in Greece. A Navy transport plane with 25 people on board approached a Naval Air station in Norfolk, Virginia, this evening about 7:00 Eastern. Nose wheel came down, main gear did not. While crews got ready on the ground, the plane circled, burning off its fuel. Then the pilot gently took it down, as you just saw. Shut down safely, strangely enough, using a tail hook to snag an arrestor cable on the ground. There were, as you saw, a few sparks, but everybody got out safely.

Debated for years, in the planning stages for many months, the pullout from Gaza finally began this morning for thousands of Jewish settlers. This is a policy that by and large the Israeli public supports, even if -- to the dismay of both sides, it's almost guaranteed to bring emotions to the boil, as it did today. For a millennia, Jewish families have been forced to leave their homes. But not like this. Here's CNN's John Vause.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Never before have Israeli soldiers been unwelcome in the Jewish settlement of Morag. But then again, never before have they been delivering eviction notices to this small community deep inside occupied Palestinian territory.

There was singing and prayers, as dozens of residents and many more protesters who sneaked into Gaza, blocked the front gate. There were also tears and anger.

"This is a stupid order," this man yelled at the Israeli army commander. He responded with a hug.

"For God's sake, you're a Jew," another man yelled at him. "You're my brother." The army commander hugged and kissed him. Once inside, some of these Israeli soldiers were called Nazis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It can't really get worse. We personally don't agree with the connection between the holocaust and the disengagement.

VAUSE: They went door to door with the bad news. Get out by midnight Tuesday or be forced out.

(On camera): So this is your house?

(voice over): Haime Gross plans to be in his house when the police and soldiers arrive. He hasn't packed, has made no plans.

HAIME GROSS, MORAG SETTLER: I'm going to lock my house. I'm not going to let them in. I'm going to try to stay in the house as long as I could. I'm not going to leave it.

VAUSE: His mother pleaded with two Israeli officers at the front door to lay down their weapons and join them.

"Refuse the order," she pleaded, "others will follow."

(On camera): But so far almost every Israeli soldier has been following orders. But Wednesday could be the toughest day of all. Israeli against Israeli, Jew against Jew. John Vause, CNN, Morag Settlement, Gaza.


BROWN: Coming up on the program tonight, why aren't U.S. troops in Iraq getting the body armor that could save their lives still? And why are babies being kept off airplanes? We're not making this up. Why would we? This is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: Sometimes it's terribly simple, even in Iraq. Today in Baghdad, lawmakers failed to agree on a new constitution. Today was the deadline, because there is simply too much they don't agree on.

And to the really important things, what will the country really be, one state or three? How will the country's oil wealth be shared? Will it become an Islamic republic with all that that entails? Before the war these questions were given easy answers. That was then. Here's CNN's Aneesh Raman.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With only minutes to go and with Iraq's government facing a midnight deadline before it could face possible dissolution, a unanimous vote to extend the deadline to draft a constitution, by one week.

Failure rarely gets a round of applause, but this was failure. To decide whether the country will be united by a central government or become two or more semi-autonomous regions with the Kurds to the north and the Shia to the south. A failure so far to resolve the role of Islam, the rights of women and whether Iraq will become an Islamic republic like Shia-dominated Iran, and not the least, how to distribute Iraq's oil money. Iraq's leaders insist they are making progress.

HOSHYAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: The leaders are making compromises. The women's rights would be protected in this new constitution. There would equality. There would be participation of women in public life, in political life.

RAMAN: The postponement dealt a blow to many including the U.S. officials who hoped a constitution would help bring stability to a country bloodied daily by insurgent attacks.

MOWAFFAK AL RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISERS: The more we get into the political process and the less the insurgency and the terrorism will have any justifiable reason behind the indiscriminate killing of the Iraqi people.

RAMAN: U.S. officials put a good face on a postponement that is failure for them as well after months of very public pressure. From the secretary of state, new confidence in the new deadline.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The new constitution will be the most important document in the history of the new Iraq. We are confident that they will complete this process and continue on the path toward elections for a permanent government at the end of the year.

RAMAN (on camera): The implications are far reaching, from the question of how long U.S. troops will remain in this country, the political timeline was always a condition for withdrawal, to the confidence it erodes among the Iraqi people, desperately hoping resolution on the future can better their presence. Aneesh Raman, CNN, Baghdad.


BROWN: It seems at some level remarkable that this long into the war, we're still talking about body armor for American troops. Though all troops now have body armor, not all troops have the best body armor, which is to say not all have the protection they need. 1800 Americans have died in the war so far. Thousands more wounded and maimed. And we're still reporting on body armor. From the Pentagon tonight, CNN's Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Pentagon is shipping improved armored vest plates to Iraq at the rate of 20,000 a month, but it could be months before all the troops have the new gear. The army is adamant that soldiers and marines already have the best armored vest protection that has been available. It was only this past spring that a new tougher armored plate went into production.

COL. THOMAS SPOEHR, U.S. ARMY: What we do is we add what's called the smalls arms protect protective insert, or SAPI plate, if you will, into a pocket in both the front, and then there's already one here in the back, you'll see.

STARR: But the improved plates used new ceramics and materials for better protection against small arms fire. The army says it's simply trying to stay a step ahead of the insurgents.

SPOEHR: We're facing a very learning and adapting enemy who adapts to our actions and takes counteractions.

STARR: Critics still believe the military could do better.

LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: They all have body armor, but they don't have the best. There's body armor, and then there's body armor. We're now into the third upgrade.

STARR: The army won't say how many troops have the new gear and says the plates are being made as fast as possible by the nation's very small group of body armor makers.

SPOEHR: I equate it sometimes to the heat tiles on the shuttle because we're talking about a piece of equipment that has to meet some very high tolerances for what we expect of it.

STARR: But all of this comes as the insurgent arsenal is growing more sophisticated. U.S. military commanders believe insurgents are using shaped charges which focus the explosive force and may be able to penetrate armored vehicles. U.S. troops near Mosul last week raided this suspected clandestine insurgent chemical protection site. Initial analysis shows that chemicals found were accelerants to be used in explosive devices.

(on camera): The military has taken the highly unusual step of asking the news media not to talk about exactly what type of protection these new armored plates offer. They worry if the information gets out, the insurgents will simply step up their attacks once again. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


BROWN: Peter Khalil is former director of national security policy for the Coalition Provisional Authority. How long ago that seems. Currently he's a Middle East analyst for the Eurasia Group. Good to see you. Why should, seriously, any American at this point have any confidence at all in the American policy in Iraq?

PETER KHALIL, MIDDLE EAST ANALYST, EURASIA GROUP: Well, I think we have to put into context the drafting process. It takes years to draft most constitutions in most countries. BROWN: This was the deadline. This was the deadline they accepted. This wasn't imposed on them.

KHALIL: That's true. We have to give them good faith that they need the extension to knot out these outstanding issues. In fact, last Thursday there were 18 unresolved issues, and they made good progress in finding some compromises for most of those. The two outstanding ones, of course, are the federal issue and the role of Islam in law.

BROWN: Right. Which is like saying they haven't -- they've solved whether to use pen or paper, but they haven't solved anything that really matters, the foundation of this country, they have not figured out.

KHALIL: Well, one of the important things to remember, Aaron, is the alternative is actually unthinkable, not just for the U.S. but also for all of the different factions in Iraq. If they were to not meet this deadline on the 22nd of August, they would have to start from square one, another transitional election and another year of drafting the constitution.

BROWN: Let me go back to the question. And I'm not trying to be difficult. Even for people who are supporting the war, starting to break away from it, we're in the midst of, I think, the fourth worst month in terms of American casualties. Unemployment in Iraq is running at 60 percent. There's less electricity than there was a year ago. 60 percent unemployment in the country. Why should Americans feel confident that the administration actually has a plan that will be successful there?

KHALIL: Well, the plan is based on a couple of conditions. Obviously, the political process is critical, but also the Iraqi security forces need to have the capabilities to take over security responsibilities sometime next year. They're counting on the political process to allow them to start drawdown of U.S. troops. Look, to be quite honest with you, whether you agree in the first place or not, many people both from coalition countries such as myself from Australia and the U.S. have sacrificed their time, the sacrifice of lives to stand up to this Iraqi democracy, and I don't think that should be in vain. We have to follow through and it's important not to leave Iraq to complete chaos which would ensue if there was then support that there is now.

BROWN: There's a story in "The Washington Post," I'm sure you saw it the other day, where clearly the administration officials were trying to lower the expectations of what Americans should expect there, whether it's what a democracy would look like in Islamic republic, that's okay, women don't have the rights we want them to have. It's their country. They do what they want. Is that really what Americans went to war for?

KHALIL: Americans went to war for a couple of reasons, as I said. Depending upon your perspective at the time. But I think the focus has been in the last couple years on stabilizing Iraq and having a democratic structure there. And I think we can achieve this too if we follow through on this political process and support the Iraqis through this process over the next six months. It's absolutely critical they meet the deadline next week and also have a referendum.

BROWN: Come back next week and talk about it?

KHALIL: Yes, I will.

BROWN: Good to see you.

KHALIL: Thanks, Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you, Peter.

Still to come tonight, singing the body electric even when the batteries start wearing down. What aging athletes can tell us about staying young.

Also, they say you can't tease golf. We just did. It can't possibly work, can it? Stick around and prove us wrong. This is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: This is about growing old and staying young. Peter Pan avoided the first. Michael Jackson tried the second. Neither one could hit the long ball, though. But Julio Franco can. Julio Franco recently hit his ninth home run of the year. He turns 47 next week. That Mr. Franco can still hit a baseball at 47 is remarkable and only gets more remarkable when you realize how your body and your mind age. And sadly, they do.


BROWN (voice-over): Whether you're a world-class athlete or just a weekend hacker, almost nothing good happens to your body once you reach the ripe old age of 30. Maybe even 25. Take, for example, 15- year-old Michelle Wie, golf's "it" girl of the moment. Watch in slow motion how her shoulders turn. You can stretch all you want, take yoga till the cows come home. You can hire the best personal trainer on the planet, and your body won't be able to do that because you're too old.

DR. CLAUDE MOORMAN, DIR. SPORTS MEDICINE CLINIC, DUKE UNIVERSITY: You can look at bone. We lose bone mineral as we get older. You look at tendon. We lose water content. They get stiffer, they get more prone to injury. Those changes predominate after the age of 30.

BROWN: It's actually a little worse than that. If you're a runner or a basketball player, football, too, a weekend softball player, any sport that requires you to push yourself aerobically, you probably peaked physically at 25. Your vO2 max has maxed out.

MOORMAN: What that is it has to do with your maximal oxygen capacity, how much oxygen you consume. It's probably the best measures we have of endurance and capability for physiologic like we have in sport. And after the age of 25, you lose about five to 15 percent of that vo2 max capacity per year.

BROWN: All rules have exceptions in these do, too. Lance Armstrong, for example, is able to recover far more quickly than almost anyone else. He can go full out, rest for a couple of minutes, then go full out again. You can't. That is part training and part genetics, and genetics trumps the training.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: High in the air. Deep right centerfield. Pena goes back for this one and this one will sail out of here.

BROWN: Here's another exception. 46-year-old Julio Franco, the oldest player in baseball and still a better hitter than many major leaguers half his age. By 46 his tendons should be tighter, his eyesight worse, his reflexes slower, and one more thing. He should be weaker.

MOORMAN: Look at muscle mass, particularly us guys. If you look at lean body mass, nitrogen balance, the other factors that have to do with overall muscle health, that's declining pretty rapidly after the age of 30.

BROWN: But Julio Franco can still hit, and Lance Armstrong can still ride. Exceptions because aging in most ways, despite all the advanced training and technology, can't be slowed. So a great player like Emmett Smith still wants to play, but his body can't recover. That's aging. Superbly conditioned Martina Navratilova can play a nice game of doubles but can't complete with the young kids who dominate singles. That's age.

Even Michael Jordan found he could beat anyone but age.

Ever seen a 35-year-old gymnast? Not likely. And that isn't just about the body. It is also about the mind. A 15-year-old can do a flip on a balance beam because, crazy as it seems, she doesn't know that that's a crazy thing to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a certain part of the brain called the basal ganglia. It's in the middle part of the brain that's responsible for doing things like letting your behavior flow out of you, sort of the just do it part of your brain. And that part actually ages fairly rapidly beginning in your 20s.

BROWN: So the gymnast peaks young. Consider this. A young Tiger Woods, for example can make 100 three-foot putts in a row. He is fearless, essentially. He knows that under pressure, he'll make the putt. Tom Kite used to make those putts, too, but he got older. He's over 50 now. And because the brain remembers with greater intensity the bad more than it does the good, he could be very shaky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If an athlete is going into a circumstance where they think that there might be a real negative outcome, for the older person who's had some negative outcomes, it's tough to keep out of their mind.

BROWN: So in every way your body falls victim to your age no matter what you do. Muscles weaken, tendons shrink, lungs and heart aren't as efficient. Your brain succumbs to fear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So in other words if you're 30 years old and you have absolutely trained yourself to the epitome of what you can do, after that, no matter how hard you train, you'll decline.

BROWN: But while neither you nor they will ever be what they were, your age does count for something, even in sport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Middle-aged athletes spend a lot of their time trying to fight to be who they were when they were younger. The older athletes, they are the ones who actually do a great job at being who they are at the current time. They're not thinking about the future certainly, and they're wise enough not to think as much about the past.


BROWN: In a moment, why airlines are keeping babies off flights. A break first. Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: In a moment the best tabloid headline we've seen in months. Plus the picture of the day. First some of the other stories that made news on this day. Erica Hill joins us in Atlanta.

HILL: Hi, Aaron. This one. When I first saw this online this morning, I really couldn't believe it. Infants being kept off flights because they share a name with someone on a no-fly list. We're talking about babies here. Federal authorities say they tell airlines say they don't allow the boarding of children under 12 but it happens anyway at airports across the country.

Phil Mickelson had the lead, lost the lead, took it back for good in the PGA Championship this morning. The tournament in at Balter's Island (ph) Golf Course in New Jersey was forced by bad weather to complete the final round this morning. Mickelson won his second major championship in two years with a birdie at final hole giving him a one-shot victory.

And now a young woman who wanted to do what only men have done before. Young men who would much rather she not. What she tried to do, what happened, and what she's doing today. This is "Then and Now."


HILL (voice-over): She took on the tradition bound all-male Citadel and won. The military academy in South Carolina accepted Shannon Faulkner in 1993 in after she omitted all gender from her application. The school reneged after finding out Faulkner was female setting off a bitter legal battle.

SHANNON FAULKNER, FOUGHT TO GET IN CITADEL: I will fight it the whole way.

HILL: Faulkner in finally earned the right to join the Citadel in August 1995.

FAULKNER: I have never, ever thought of backing out of this. There's never been a doubt in my mind that I would be at the Citadel.

HILL: The 19-year-old had much to prove and proved to be too much. Six days later, she was done. The first woman cadet at the Citadel became the first woman to quit. Faulkner finished her degree at tiny Anderson College in western South Carolina. And is now a high school English teacher in suburban Greenville.

Although her career at the Citadel was short, she opened the door for other women. Currently there are more than 200 women enrolled as cadets at the Citadel. And 73 have graduated since 1999.



BROWN: Okey doke. Time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world. We'll start sort of up market, but we'll decline quickly. "The Washington Times", Roberts, Judge Roberts soon to be Justice Roberts started on the path to success at a young age. Judge's intelligence shown brightly in school. This is the headline that will never be written about me.

"The Daily News" in New York has had a field day with this story. This is the story of a woman accused -- alleged to have had an affair with a priest. Today's headline, "a Fling and a Prayer. Wife at center of church sex scandal comes out of hiding to pray." I don't know a lot about this stuff, but should you really wear hot pants and a tank top when you go to church? I don't think so. Particularly if you're in the middle of a tabloids story. Goodness gracious.

The Brownsville, Texas, "Herald." Really? I mean, I think if you're in the middle of a scandal like that, you go to church in, like, a really prim outfit. The Brownsville, Texas, "Herald," trading down, guns head south as drug trade flows. Glad to have that paper with us. I think that's the first time. If you're in Chicago, the weather tomorrow, according to "the Chicago Sun-Times" is benevolent, as are we.

We'll wrap it up in a moment with the picture of the day.


BROWN: Two things quickly. A 6.8 earthquake, a pretty good- sized earthquake in the northern part of Japan. They could feel it in Tokyo. The tsunami warnings are out. We'll see how that develops. Quickly, here is your picture of the day, these two little guys.

Show 'em, please. Two little North Korean guys celebrating the 60th anniversary of Japan's end of colonial rule and this is what they've got, a government that dresses them up like that when they're four years old.