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Residents Fleeing Tyre, Lebanon; Arabs, Jews Work Together at Northern Israel's Biggest Hospital; U.N. Reaction to Israeli Airstrike on Observers; Interview with Wounded Lebanese Journalist May Chidiac
Aired July 27, 2006 - 13:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. Bush says the U.S. goal is a lasting peace, not a situation that makes us all feel better.
Here's what we know right now from the Middle East crisis.
Osama bin Laden's second in command is also commenting on the Middle East. In a new videotape, Ayman al-Zawahiri says al Qaeda will not stand by while Israel conducts military operations in both Lebanon and Gaza.
CNN has also learned that Lebanon's Amal party is supplying fighters to Hezbollah in the fight against Israel. Amal is a Shiite political and paramilitary group led by Lebanon's parliamentary speaker.
More attacks today on the Lebanese port city of Tyre. Standing by there, CNN's Karl Penhaul -- Karl.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the course of the day, Kyra, we've been trying to find out a few more details about that huge bomb strike on an apartment building 24 hours ago now. Red Cross officials told us that at least 12 people were wounded, but amazingly, nobody was killed.
PENHAUL (voice over): The ruins are still smoldering the morning after an Israeli airstrike. Firefighters scour the wreckage.
Hours earlier, it was chaos here. Now the only sound you can hear is an Israeli reconnaissance drone buzzing over head and water gushing from broken pipes.
Just yards from the bomb site, Jihad al-Husseini tries to clean up the office of his driving school.
JIHAD AL-HUSSEINI, DRIVING SCHOOL OWNER: The good army, when you -- when you make war with another army, not with people and children. Why?
PENHAUL: This was a 10-story apartment building, and residents say civilians lived here. The Israeli Defense Forces say the target was Hezbollah leadership.
This war has shattered homes, yet some reminders of more peaceful times survive. Mementos of happy families who have now fled the battlefield. Since the conflict exploded, there's been a steady exodus.
Now, as I drive around Tyre after Wednesday's attack in downtown, I see the streets are emptying faster than ever.
MOHAMMED AL-HUSSEINI, CITY OFFICIAL: Everyone here doesn't -- isn't confident about anything, because he's expecting any time, anywhere, a bomb.
PENHAUL: Yesterday, more than 40 people were bunkered down in the basement of this apartment block in Tyre, but yesterday's attack convinced most of them they were no longer safe. Now only fisherman Ali Atieh and his family are left.
ALI ATIEH, FISHERMAN: I am afraid because from the bomb yesterday.
PENHAUL: His son Hussein has seen the news on TV that diplomatic efforts to broker a cease-fire have failed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no chance to being -- to stop the war.
PENHAUL: Amid the ruins of bombed-out buildings, hope is hard to find.
PENHAUL: In the area around Tyre, there have been fresh bombardments throughout the course of the day. Israeli warplanes have been in action, as have the artillery field guns just on the other side of the Israeli border. And at one stage even Israeli navy warships joined the fray -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Karl Penhaul in Tyre.
We'll keep talking to you throughout the day.
Meanwhile, Israel's defense minister says the military campaign in southern Lebanon is going to take some time, but Israel is prepared to fight an extended campaign. And today the cross border fighting continues.
CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney is in the city of Haifa with an update from there.
FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More than 45 Katyusha rockets falling across northern Israel on Thursday, two light injuries reported. But an indication that despite Israel's military campaign in southern Lebanon, that Hezbollah still has the capability to target Israeli communities.
Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, a lengthy cabinet meeting decided not to expand Israel's ground offensive in southern Lebanon. There have been calls for further troop deployments there. Israel calling up reservists, but saying for the moment the ground offensive will remain has it has been over the last few days, status quo.
The military air campaign, of course, continuing, and Israel calling up further reservists. In the words of Amir Peretz, the Israeli defense secretary, they are being called up for any possible further developments.
Fionnuala Sweeney, CNN, Haifa, Israel.
PHILLIPS: Arabs and Jews working together to save lives, no matter who they or where they are from.
CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has his story.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Galena Zilmamenroe (ph) is 43, Russian and divorced. She emigrated to Israel to start a new life just two weeks ago. Her timing couldn't have been worse.
After only 10 days, she became a casualty of one of those randomly fired Katyusha rockets.
She tells me she remembers nothing of the explosion. Shrapnel ripped through her leg. Doctors tried to save it, but could not.
DR. HANY BAHOUTH, RAMBAM HOSPITAL: But it wasn't a salvageable injury that we can take care and do a (INAUDIBLE) transplantation.
GUPTA: I made rounds with her doctor, Hany Bahouth. He's an Arab working at northern Israel's largest hospital.
BAHOUTH: I am an Arab, yes. I am an Arab.
GUPTA: There's a war going on.
BAHOUTH: It's a war going on. And I'm a surgeon. I'm a doctor.
I'm, above all these things, that I'm an Arab or a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim or a Druze. We have here a lot of ethnicities. And as a doctor, I am above all these things, especially when we are taking care of wounded patients.
GUPTA: At Rambam Hospital, Arabs and Jews work together to take care of all patients, no matter where they're from. Jolina (ph) belongs to Haifa's growing community of Russian immigrants.
(on camera): And it is Russians that are probably the hardest hit. They are one of the most impoverished communities in Haifa. And they are also scared. This is a bomb shelter. And several Russian families have actually decided to move down here, actually live down here, for the last two weeks.
Let's take a look.
You can actually see that this is a shelter down here. This is to try and protect people. The most remarkable thing is that the children have been living down here for two weeks.
Their parents actually make these quick runs out of the shelter to a store to buy some food and water, bring it back down. They have no idea how long they're going to be down here. They have no resources. They're very frightened. And for now, this is their home.
(voice-over): Galena never made it to a shelter.
Now, if there is a positive side to her story at all, it is this: because she lost her leg in a terrorist military act, she qualifies, even as a brand new immigrant, for the highest category of the tualuame (ph), which is a sort of national social security. As with victims of suicide bombings, the government of Israel will cover all of her medical costs, including prosthesis, give her a lifelong stipend, even pay for her burial.
In some ways, financially, certainly, she's better off than she was when she came here two weeks ago. But her new life in Israel will be different in ways she could never have imagined.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Haifa.
PHILLIPS: Well, for unarmed U.N. observers that were killed last week in the Mideast conflict, we want to get more on that and more reaction from the U.N.
Let's go to CNN's Richard Roth for more on that -- Richard.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, the United Nations Security Council has been grappling with just how to respond to the deaths of their own U.N. peacekeepers, or observers. It would seem obvious that there should be some response, but there's big power politics going on here.
The four observers were really part of an extension of what was called and is called UNIFIL, the overall U.N. mission in southern Lebanon that's been there since '78. Observers are really part of a mission that's been there since '48, observing as a truce various Middle East settlements, if there ever is to be an overall settlement.
The United Nations Security Council has been stuck. Many diplomats say the United States has been holding up action, fearing there would be too much criticism of Israel in this attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANG GUANGYA, CHINESE AMB. TO U.N.: I think the U.N. has to send a strong message to protect our people who are working on the field for this organization. But, of course, I think that if we got stuck on this particular issue for political considerations, definitely I think that people will feel frustrated and definitely I think it will affect a smooth cooperation on other important issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: China's very upset. When he hints there, Kyra, about affecting other issues, he's talking, we believe, specifically about the quest for a new tougher resolution on Iran, which the United States really needs China and Russia on board. The U.S. opposing language criticizing and condemning Israel for the attack. And also, Ambassador Bolton is worried that any language on the Israeli U.N. incident will open the door to a discussion on cease-fire.
The U.S. says now is not the time, there has to be a different sequence of events. Other countries say it's about time the Security Council said something about the outbreak of hostilities, which has not occurred so far -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Richard Roth, at the U.N.
More now on that new tape from Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command. His message, calling for a holy war, a jihad against Israel.
Well, (INAUDIBLE), so he says. But the setting is, instead of the interior of a cave, it looks like he's in a studio. If the medium is the message, well, what's up with the extreme makeover?
Our senior editor of Arab affairs, Octavia Nasr, here with some insight.
And, you know, in all honesty, you and I are sitting here talking about this, and you wonder, is he getting some sort of PR consultant who's saying, well, we've got to work on the look and the background and the lighting? And like you said, it looks like he's reading from a teleprompter.
OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SR. EDITOR, ARAB AFFAIRS: Right.
PHILLIPS: It's a very different switch from in a cave holding a gun.
NASR: An image consultant maybe, huh? Possible.
You know, if you look at the video, it's very different interesting. And you compare it to an old video of Zawahiri, I mean, the man looks cleaner, you know, better groomed. He looks more like a statesman than the fighter that we're used to seeing him as.
Look at this picture, for example. You see him sort of, you know, with a tan. He's out in the sun a lot.
You see his rifle to his right-hand side. In the new tape, the one to the right, you see him sitting, looking at a camera. Basically, you can see his eyes moving like he's following the script in a teleprompter.
So, definitely, al Qaeda moving you know, high tech. They are getting more technically savvy, some people will say.
Some experts are looking at this tape and trying to determine if this is a studio or if it's a virtual studio using some kind of software. Or it could be chromakeyed just like we do the weather, you know.
PHILLIPS: Well, and I think some people are wondering, too, is there a television station allowing for this? I mean, is he in one of the local broadcasting networks?
NASR: You're absolutely right. Some people are asking this question as well, because what we've seen before from Sahab (ph) -- this is the video production that produces the al Qaeda video -- what we've seen from them before doesn't look anything like this one.
So, either they're -- they got some new software to be able to produce the virtual studio that we're looking at right behind him, or, basically, they could be using some kind of local TV station or local production company.
The other thing that we could learn from this tape is, when you look at a full screen of this video, you are going to see two men, two pictures behind him. And, of course, in the middle you see the World Trade Center in flames, back on 9/11/2001. And you see on the right- hand side, this is a never-seen-before picture of Mohammed Atta, the leader of the suicide bombers on 9/11.
And on the left-hand side of the screen, you see Abu Hamza al- Masri. This is the guy who supposedly masterminded the whole 9/11 attack. And he was killed in a U.S. strike in 2001.
So, interesting in this message what al Qaeda is trying to say. They are showing him, showing Zawahiri, as a leader. Not necessarily a fighter. Also giving him a prompter, making him look comfortable, at ease, and basically delivering a message.
Now the question's going to be, what's next? Of course, 9/11, the anniversary is coming up. And many experts expect a message, not just from Zawahiri, but perhaps bin Laden, marking the anniversary of 9/11. They've done that every single year since.
And what we are looking for, along with other experts, we're looking to see if the 9/11 message is going to have the same background, which will mean that they were taping their 9/11 message, anniversary message, and then the opportunity presented itself with the events in Lebanon and Gaza, and they figured let's just...
PHILLIPS: Release the tape now.
NASR: ... insert that. Right. Right.
PHILLIPS: All right. We'll -- we'll track it. Thanks so much.
NASR: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Well, he beats all odds but fails a drug test. Tour de France champ Floyd Landis in the middle of a doping controversy. The Tour de France announcer joins me live, next.
PHILLIPS: Straight to the newsroom. Fredricka Whitfield working details on a breaking story right now -- Fred.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this out of Colorado. A man who pled guilty to murdering a teenager a few years ago is now saying that he has killed up to 48 people across the country.
Fifty-three-year-old Robert Charles Browne is the man you are looking at right now. He says that the slayings happened between 1970, until his arrest back in 1995, of a teenager that he has pled guilty to murdering.
This investigation was first reported by gazette.com, which is also reporting that investigators have now linked Browne to 19 killings in various states. And I'm going to go through them, because it's a very lengthy roster: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington, and overseas in South Korea.
Now, apparently a press conference could be taking place later on today involving these Colorado Springs authorities. And when that happens, we'll be able to bring that to you here on CNN -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. We'll follow it. Thanks, Fred.
Well, Israel's cabinet votes to continue but not expand the military campaign in southern Lebanon.
CNN's Paula Hancocks in Jerusalem to bring us up to date.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.
Well, that's right, the security cabinet did decide that what they will do is not expand this military operation which is, in fact, what the military commanders wanted them to do. But it has decided to call up more reservists.
Now, it's called up three battalions. We don't know which units they are from, as they didn't tell us. So that could be anything from 9,000 and 15,000 more soldiers that they have the option of using.
Now, they also said, according to Amir Peretz, the defense minister, in his speech afterwards, that they refuse to allow the Hezbollah flag to once again be flying on that southern Lebanon- northern Israeli border. Now, they are signifying that they want to make sure there is a buffer zone. This is what they've been talking about for many days now, and they want to make sure that Hezbollah is pushed far enough back so that any launching of rockets from southern Lebanon to northern Israel will be more difficult.
Now, he's also said that he's sent his condolences to all those who have been killed in the recent operations. Now, there have been about 51 Israelis that have been killed. Many of them civilians. Of course the number on the Lebanese side, far higher. At least 401, we hear, according to sources in Lebanon, and many of those civilians as well.
So this is main gist of what the security cabinet decided. There will be more reservists being called up, but at this point, there will not be an expansion in the military operation -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: And Paula, just quickly, bring our viewers up to date. Earlier today we got -- we got talking a little bit about Mahmoud Abbas speaking out, talking about ongoing talks, possibly the release of this kidnapped soldier.
HANCOCKS: Yes, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was talking in Rome, Italy, with the Italian prime minister, Romano Prodi, and he said that intense negotiations are still ongoing to try and secure the release of Gilad Shalit, this 19-year-old corporal who was kidnapped now just over a month ago.
Now, of course the Palestinian Authority, which is Hamas-led, has said that he will not be released -- it is Hamas militants who are holding him -- until there are at least all Palestinian men and women and children in Israeli jails released. Now, of course the Israeli politicians have said no negotiations, no prisoner swap, but we are expecting that behind the scenes these back channels are open, there's still mediation, probably involving Egypt in some shape or form. And as Abbas said, this Thursday, intense negotiations are still ongoing.
PHILLIPS: Paula Hancocks from Jerusalem.
She was targeted for attack because she dared to speak out. I'm going to talk to the Lebanese journalists whose opinions almost got her killed. Now she's back on the job and more determined than ever.
PHILLIPS: Well, first it was Lance, now it's Floyd Landis. So, we ask the question: Can an American, or any cyclist, for that matter, win the Tour de France without a hint of impropriety? Landis' racing team announced today that an unusually high level of testosterone was found in a Landis test sample taken during the race.
Phil Liggett, a Tour de France announcer, joins us now live on the phone from London.
Phil, are you surprised? PHIL LIGGETT, TOUR DE FRANCE ANNOUNCER: I'm very surprised. Shocked is probably a better word, in fact, because we didn't expect Landis to do this.
He made statements during the tour about riding a clean Tour de France and how good it was for the children. And now he's apparently come up with unusual levels of testosterone, which can mean one of two things. It's either a natural thing, which it can well be, and I hope that they are not making a big mistake by telling the press before they've had the second test confirm the first, or it's synthetic, in which case he is cheating.
PHILLIPS: Now, this, of course, happened with Lance Armstrong, and he was completely cleared of this. So...
PHILLIPS: ... is it possible that all this is coming out, and maybe the teams spoke a little too soon?
LIGGETT: It is quite possible. He's not near (ph) the team. The team are put into a corner. Somehow this has leaked out of either the test center or by the world body itself, because normally when you have a first test which is positive, no one knows until the second test confirms the first. And then the announcement is made and the sanctions are given.
Now, the team are forced into a decision, because we had the situation where Landis had just won the race the day after the Tour de France finished in Holland. He was due to ride another one, didn't turn up. Nobody knew where he was.
The rumor from the organizers, which are unconfirmed, was he had a problem with his -- as you know, he has a hip replacement coming. It was painful. That proved to be untrue.
He should have gone to Denmark and raced there last night. He didn't do so. And then the team suddenly came up with the statement, yes, we've been told and we are totally shocked that Floyd has been told he's got these unnatural levels of testosterone in his system.
PHILLIPS: And, Phil, you mentioned this was a leak. And if I remember correctly, the same thing happened with Lance Armstrong.
I mean, is it common that there are people out there, whether it's jealousy or ego or money, whatever it is, just looking to somehow brandish the reputation of these cyclists?
LIGGETT: I think this is absolutely true. For example, we've only publicized the fact that, in all, 22 riders never got to start the Tour de France in Strasbourg because of this so-called Operation Puerto (ph), where a doctor has admitted treating 200 people, changing their blood, and using the blood booster EPO, et cetera, of which he said 58 are cyclists.
We've never heard one of the other athletes named, yet he's said they are in football, basketball, tennis, et cetera. And now he's saying, "Half the guys that you threw off the Tour de France, I've never heard of in my life." And, in fact, the calls in Spain this week has said that four riders who were sent home have nothing against their name. They are free to ride again, and they're not on the list, and they're not under any drug suspicion.
But those stories, unfortunately, don't make the press anymore, because this story was the fact they were sent home.
There is a lot of trial by jury in the media and amongst the people, and they don't wait for the final outcome. And sadly, Floyd Landis, I don't know whether he's taken testosterone or not. But I do know the guy, and I would find it very difficult to believe he's a cheat.
And the way he rode, yes, it was extreme. One day he's collapsed, he's losing 10 minutes, he's an absolute shattered wreck, the next day he's winning the race by five and three quarter minutes and he looks like Superman. And so it makes me wonder whether that's possible, but...
PHILLIPS: Well, is that when he failed those tests? Were those tests taken after he had fallen behind and then he started to pick it up? Is that when he failed the test, Phil?
LIGGETT: No, he failed the test because -- and this is what's also strange -- you are automatically tested when you win a stage of the Tour de France. And this was the stage he won by six minutes. And he knows he has to go within 30 minutes directly to the testing area and give a urine sample.
That's the sample they say is positive.
PHILLIPS: OK, interesting. So it happened after the race.
So let me ask you this. He said he had a beer after the race. I mean, is it possible that alcohol can affect testosterone? I mean, obviously, I'm not a doctor. You and I aren't scientists, right? But, you know...
LIGGETT: Correct. What I understand is that testosterone is made by the body, and the brain tells the body what to make. And he was in a very, very emotional state.
He thought he'd lost the Tour one day. He was in a state of collapse. He no doubt re-hydrated overnight, probably intravenously with glucose, totally legal. Then the next day he comes and does this great performance.
When he crossed the line, he was a very angry young man. I've never seen him -- he had a face like thunder. He was looking to punch anybody that went to him. And to me, apparently, that is a high testosterone indicator.
PHILLIPS: Now, his mom spoke out. Arlene Landis spoke out, and she said -- let's see the quote -- I believe it was coming to us through The Associated Press.
"I didn't talk to him since that hit the fan, but I'm keeping things even keel until I know what the facts are. I know that this is a temptation to every rider, but I'm not going to jump to conclusions. It disappoints me."
What do you think of...
LIGGETT: Well, I think that's a very fair quote from a mom. The fact -- the fact is simple. It's not a difficult test, but what they've got to prove is, is this -- if it's normally produced high testosterone levels, which it can be, then the guy's innocent, because you can't stop the body doing what it does.
If it's proved -- and again, there's a test of synthetic introduction of testosterone -- if that's proved, then he's a cheat. And they've got to make the decision between the two, and they've got to be sure they're right.
PHILLIPS: Phil Liggett, Tour de France announcer, sure appreciate your time. It was an honor to have you, sir.
LIGGETT: My pleasure.
PHILLIPS: Well, the City of Big Shoulders won't be the city of small salaries. That's according to the Chicago City Council, which has just passed a living wage ordinance aimed at big-box retailers like Wal-Mart.
Supporters say that the ordinance will help low-income Chicagoans, and critics, including Mayor Richard Daley, say that ordinance will result in higher prices and fewer jobs.
Here's Ben Bradley of CNN affiliate WLS-TV.
BEN BRADLEY, REPORTER, WLS-TV (voice over): Thee big-box battle ended with a bruising defeat for Mayor Daley.
MAYOR RICHARD DALEY (D), CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: I lose a lot of sales tax money and real estate tax money and jobs. It's as simple as that.
BRADLEY: The mayor fears the vote by aldermen will result in big name retailers like Target and Wal-Mart shelving their plans for future construction in Chicago.
DALEY: It's the welfare of the city. And I can see both sides of the issue. I saw both sides. You see people out there who maybe hate Wal-Mart. But this is not about Wal-Mart.
BRADLEY: It's about forcing the nation's biggest retailers to pay their employees in Chicago at least $10 in wages, plus $3 in benefits. DOROTHY TILLMAN, CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL: We cannot specifically create a law just for two people. That's why you city the manipulation here. I think if the ordinance has been for all people and we can make it for everybody, that would be different.
BRADLEY: Most of the 14 aldermen who voted against the ordinance say they do favor a higher minimum wage, but they believe it must be applied to all workers. Other aldermen said they felt bullied by unions who they believe were out to settle a score with Wal-Mart.
ISAAC CAROTHERS, CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL: When Home Depot came, I heard nothing about big box, but when one store came to an area on the west side of Chicago, when that one store came, here come the unions and all of these ordinances and all we got to have a big box ordinance.
BRADLEY: Wal-Mart says its first and only store in the city, set to open in September on the west side, may be its last as a result of this vote. Top retailers are now eying a lawsuit to get the living wage ordinance thrown out.
GERALD ROPER, CHICAGOLAND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: We're going to have to tear down the sign that these aldermen just put up that said Chicago's closed for business.
PHILLIPS: Israel airstrikes pound Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, and Hezbollah returns fire. Here's what we know right now from the Middle East. More than a dozen Hezbollah rockets landed in northern Israel, setting several buildings on fire. On the other side, Israel's army chief of staff says the damage done to Hezbollah in 16 days of fighting is enormous. He confirmed a plan to activate up to 15,000 reservists.
Speaking in Malaysia, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she's prepared to return to the Middle East to work on a cease-fire, but she didn't say when.
Hezbollah rockets struck targets across northern Israel today, as we said, just minutes ago. Our John Roberts is in the region, and we'll get talking to him as soon as we can get in touch with him via broadband.
Meanwhile, even before the current crisis, speaking out in Lebanon was a very risky business.
CNN's Hala Gorani reports on a Lebanese journalist who survived an assassination attempt and made good on her vow to take a stand against violence.
HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This isn't any make-up session for Lebanese TV star May Chidiac. It's her first time on the air since she survived a car bomb attack against her ten months ago. That bomb cost her her left arm and leg.
Earlier, at her Beirut home, she talked about her television comeback.
MAY CHIDIAC, LEBANESE JOURNALIST: I'll move the sign of the cross. I'll say, I have to -- I have to do things in the proper way. I go -- I have to forget that it's the first time after ten months. And I'll have to be on air as normal as I can.
GORANI: Chidiac was one of more than a dozen outspoken critics of Syrian influence in Lebanon targeted by assassins last year. She survived, but others did not. And call it a coincidence, after seven months in a French rehabilitation center, May Chidiac returned to Lebanon just in time to witness a brand new chapter of political violence in her country, 24 hours before the war broke out in Lebanon. And, she says, she's glad she did.
CHIDIAC: I believe in god, so I consider that maybe it was about time to come back and to be able to participate in the -- and help Lebanon in a way or another, in my way, maybe.
GORANI: Chidiac says her injuries and prosthetic limbs have changed her body, but not her mind. She insists on driving the same make of car, with the same license plate number she had on the day she was almost killed.
Hala Gorani, CNN, Beirut.
PHILLIPS: Well, it's an amazing story of survival and determination. It's a pleasure to welcome May Chidiac to LIVE FROM. She joins me from Beirut.
May, I've got to ask you, did you ever find out or do you believe you know who tried to kill you?
CHIDIAC: I think everybody in Lebanon knows who tried to kill me. We don't have any proofs yet, but it's very obvious. Because -- but we are still waiting for Bremer's (ph) report to put on the light on what happened. And until that time, we prefer not to speak loudly and to say who did it, but I think that our neighbor is not very far from what happened to me.
PHILLIPS: So, that's interesting. And I understand you not wanting to say exactly who you believe it is. Obviously, life is still very dangerous for you. Let me ask you, as a journalist, you do think you might have gone beyond what you should have done, as a journalist, speaking out, and being critical of the Syrian influence in Lebanon? do you regret that? CHIDIAC: No, never, ever. I worked all my life for the sovereignty, the liberty, and the freedom of Lebanon. So, I believed in my country, and I wanted to it be free once and for all. But we have the Syrian out of the country. They were not happy about it. They wanted to get inside again.
But after the prime minister, Rafik Hariri, was attacked, we had many, many, many attacks in Lebanon, some areas, especially the Christian areas, and some personalities. Some of them escaped, but some others did not. It was their bed luck, but I was from the happy few who was able to escape.
But this is not what we expected for the time being. That means I came back to Lebanon one day before this new war started. So we don't know anymore who to consider, implicate, in what happened to us. We have Syria, who didn't want from the beginning a free Lebanon, and now we have Israel fighting with the Hezbollah, but at the same time, destroying all the infrastructure in Lebanon.
And they want to have a buffer zone in the south, and we are asking and wondering, do they want all a demographic change made in Lebanon? They are pushing them inside the country, and they want to have only a safe frontier, and concerning inside Lebanon, it's the last of their worries. But we are worried, as Lebanese.
PHILLIPS: And, May, you've been very outspoken about Hezbollah as well. Are you in fear of your life still? Do you think that's dangerous to do that? Are you concerned that Hezbollah may come after you?
CHIDIAC: I don't want to accuse them. But, in any way, they are Lebanese. I don't know who executed the orders given by the Syrians, but no. If I criticize them, it's because of their policy in Lebanon.
After all, they are Lebanese people, but the headquarter of the Hezbollah, I think they have very good connections with Syria and Iran. And they are executing their policy in Lebanon. So I prefer if they turn again to become much more Lebanese and act in the -- for good for Lebanon.
PHILLIPS: May, you lost your arm, you lost your leg when that explosion went off in your car, but you say you think you're very lucky to be alive because of a trip you made just before that assassination attempt. Tell me about going to the church, to the monastery. You had bought some holy oils and some icons and you believe that saved your life that day.
CHIDIAC: Yes. It saved my life, because if I didn't have these candles, these icons with me, I wouldn't have towards the back seat. This is why my right arm and my right leg were spared, and my face also. I consider myself lucky to be able to get to work again, because if it was in a different way, if I lost an eye or anything in my face, I wouldn't be able to go back to work.
And concerning my arm, here is my new arm. I like it a lot. It's an artificial one. It's a prosthesis, but it's best one that I could have, and I'm happy with it. I'm able to work again, so I think there was somebody protecting me from above.
And it's St. Charbel, I was visiting the monastery of Saint Charbel. He's a Lebanese saint in Mount Lebanon, and I think that God and Saint Charbel were protecting me, and also because of the praise of my mother, who worries a lot about me.
PHILLIPS: I know your mother has been a tremendous influence for you. You're quite a bold woman and no doubt you learned a lot of that from her. We'll follow your progress. May Chidiac, a journalist there in Lebanon survived an assassination attempt, back on the air, and still fighting for the rights, as she says, for her people. I appreciate your time, May.
CHIDIAC: Thank you. Thanks a lot.
PHILLIPS: Well, born in the USA, fighting for Israel -- that story straight ahead on LIVE FROM.
PHILLIPS: No letup in the violence in Iraq, especially in Baghdad. We've heard the president say U.S. troops might be pulled in to bolster the Iraqi security guards already there. CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre joins me now with a new development. Jamie, how soon could we see that happen?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has some tough decisions to make. CNN has learned that the top general in Iraq, General George Casey, has recommended extending a brigade of U.S. Army troops based in Alaska, because they have the kind of vehicles, equipment and training that he believes he needs to bolster the security in Baghdad.
Sources say that the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team was likely to move from Mosul to Baghdad, and probably have to stay a couple of months past their one-year commitment.
But the final decision rests with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who has the recommendation on his desk this afternoon. A short time ago, just a few minutes ago, really, he said he has yet to go over that recommendation, but he did talk about the difficulty in deciding that troops had been promised to be home in a year's time might have to stay longer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: ... that the morale has been uniformly very good. I see it even among the families of the wounded (INAUDIBLE). Now, is -- if you extend somebody, is there some disappointment that they won't be home when they thought they might be home? Sure, and -- but as I say, these are -- this is a professional military, and they're doing a superb job.
And I think that were that to happen -- it has happened. I remember a couple years ago, there was a unit that was due to come out, and it was held over for a matter of a few months more. And they handled it in a professional way, and got on with life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: Got on with life. Well, the U.S. Army, I can tell you, is already preparing messages to send to the families of some 3,700 members of that unit, if it turns out they have to stay another month or so, taking -- drawing some deadly duty in Baghdad. About 200 members of the unit already came home after their year-long deployment. The others were expecting to go home, and they were told just a few days ago, wait, you might have to stay.
And again, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld will have to make the final decision as they sort out exactly the numbers and where those troops are going to come from to bolster security in Baghdad over the next couple of months -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Jamie McIntyre, thank you.
It's not just the big cities. Small towns are targets in the Middle East war. Straight on CNN, we'll be talking about that.
PHILLIPS: Well, the heat wave hits Hollywood. Actress Lindsay Lohan was apparently overcome by the 105-degree weather on the set of her new movie "Georgia Rule" and had to be rushed to the hospital on Tuesday. According to the insider, doctors treated the 20-year-old actress for dehydration and overheating. She's scheduled to get back to work today to with co-stars Felicity Huffman and Jane Fonda.
Pamela Anderson has to overcome joy, or is overcome with joy, rather, about her weekend wedding to Kid Rock, aka, Bob Ritchie. The pair will exchange vows in St. Tropez followed by ceremonies with loved ones in Detroit, Nashville and California. Asked in a news conference how she is dealing with the pre-wedding jitters, well, Anderson said, quote, "I've got two words for you: champagne."
Well, you remember the guy who started with a paper clip and eventually traded up to a house? It turns out that's not the end of the story. The latest adventures of Kyle McDonald when LIVE FROM continues.
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