Return to Transcripts main page

American Morning

Israel Preparing to Expand War in Southern Lebanon

Aired August 01, 2006 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rick Sanchez, in for Miles O'Brien. Always good to be here, because I love working with this woman.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Rick. I appreciate that.

Let's get to our top story today, Israel preparing to expand its war in Southern Lebanon. Israel's security cabinet telling the army, call up more reservists. Are these steps in line with the White House stance on the Middle East crisis?

CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joins us live this morning.

Hey, Suzanne. Good morning.


Of course there's a renewed sense of urgency here at the White House to move this along very quickly, a U.N. Security Council resolution that we heard yesterday from President Bush and Secretary Rice, both of them emphasizing they want this done perhaps as early as the end of this week. Why this sense of urgency? They say they still want a sustainable, permanent peace, a cease-fire, if you will, not an immediate cease-fire. But Israeli Prime Minister Olmert suggesting that he believes it could take up to two weeks before their military campaign against Hezbollah is completed. It puts the Bush administration in a very difficult position. Privately, they are saying they cannot afford another Qana, of course that terrible incident in which Israelis accidentally attacked a civilian target -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Suzanne, let me ask you questions about rumors of Fidel Castro's health and condition, now that he's turned power over control temporarily to his brother, Raul, but is the White House making any comment on that?

MALVEAUX: Well, sure, I talked to a couple of people last night. One official saying that, look, we're monitoring the situation very closely. He went on to say, we can not speculate about Castro's health. But he did say very pointedly, we continue to work for the day of Cuba's freedom. Soledad, there's already a plan that's in place for a commission to the State Department in the event of Castro's demise, if he becomes incapacitated, a plan that would help offer trade and economic sanctions for the Cuban people, to help with Democratic reforms. It was just yesterday we heard from President Bush. He was in Miami, Florida, addressing the very issue, talking with the importance of Cuban-Americans and freedom in that country.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: I have known many people in that country, who are proud of their Cuban heritage. They came to the United States to live in a free society. And my hope is that one day that same freedom that people found here in America will be found in Cuba.


MALVEAUX: And, Soledad, as you know, a very important voting constituency for President Bush, Cuban-Americans in Miami, Florida. And I should also let you know as well, there are nine other American president who have been in the same position as President Bush today, speculating over Castro's future -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House for us. Suzanne, thanks -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Staying in Florida, if we may, the score there, Florida, one, constitutional rights, zero. Or let's back that up, constitutional rights one, Florida, zero. NFL security pat-downs is really the comment here.

CNN's John Zarrella reports on one man's fight that could affect football fans across the country.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gordon Johnston is a high school government teacher. Today he is practicing what he teaches, defending a constitutional right he believes is being taken away by the National Football League.

Last season the NFL mandated every person entering stadiums be patted down to protect against suicide bombers. Johnston, an avid Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan and season ticket holder felt this was unreasonable search, a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

GORDON JOHNSTON, SUED OVER PAT-DOWNS: I just thought it was unreasonable for every man, woman, child, babies, handicapped people, old people to suddenly be touched and checked, you know, in the name of safety.

ZARRELLA: The ACLU agreed with Johnston and took up his fight. So far a state court, and this past Friday a federal court have ruled pat-downs do violate the constitution. BECKY STEELE, ACLU ATTY.: What we object to is just this mass suspicion searching of everybody without any reason.

ZARRELLA: Attorneys representing the Sports Authority, and in effect the NFL say the league does have a clear reason.

RICHARD ZABAK, TAMPA SPORTS AUTHORITY ATTY.: I mean, they have evidence that there were schematics of a couple of NFL stadiums that were uncovered on a computer in Afghanistan.

ZARRELLA: Four years ago, the FBI issued an alert that people with suspected ties to terrorist groups had gained access to images of the RCA Dome in Indianapolis and the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

ZABAK: And therefore we argue that the public interest far outweighs the alleged constitutional impairment.

ZARRELLA: The NFL told CNN, in part, quote, "Fans have been overwhelmingly cooperative. They appreciate the security it gives them," end quote.

Right now the Tampa Sports Authority, which is responsible for security at Raymond James Stadium, cannot pat down patrons when football season begins. Attorneys for the authority are planning an appeal. If need be, Johnston says he'll fight right to the Supreme Court.

JOHNSTON: There's time and places for a person to stand up, and if I have to be the one -- excuse me; I get emotional. If I have to be the one, I'll be the one.

ZARRELLA: Johnston's stand may be having a snowball effect. The issue has now come up in Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unzip your jacket, arms to the side.

ZARRELLA: The park district is fighting with the chic bears to get the pat-downs stopped. With the opening of the preseason just weeks away, fans in at least two NFL cities probably won't be touched, and won't here these words:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pat-down searches on all persons entering the stadium.

ZARRELLA: John Zarrella, CNN, Tampa, Florida.


SANCHEZ: Boy this takes us back to something everyone was talking about post-9/11.

Let's turn now to our CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin.


SANCHEZ: Hey, here's what the judge says, and let me read it to you and you give me your take on this. He says, "A generalized fear of terrorism should not diminish the fundamental Fourth Amendment protection envisioned by our founding fathers." So basically he's saying, look, it's all about the constitution, man, right?

TOOBIN: It was a very interesting opinion, and I think a very hard issue. I could see this coming out either way. I think the key issue for the judge, Judge Whitmore, who actually was the judge in the Terri Schiavo case.

SANCHEZ: Oh, wow.

TOOBIN: He's a magnet for controversy down there in Tampa. He says, look, if you had some basis for suspicion that there were going to be suicide bombers, then perhaps this would be legal. But he went and looked at the record and he looked at the submissions made by the NFL and by the state of Florida, and he said, look, there's never been even any sort of even remotely serious threat. So that it just had no basis for this intrusion.

SANCHEZ: You know, there's a lot of people out there who are listening to us in this conversation, and they're probably thinking, you know, if I want to go to a football game, I want to be darn sure that my family and myself were safe. So what about my right to be safe from that lunatic who decides to go to the game. I want to be protected. I want him searched.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And if you're not a suicide bomber, you have nothing to fear. It's not going to be any disruption to you, because nothing is going to be found on you.

The problem with that argument is that it's infinitely expandable. You know, the subway is a target here in New York. Should they do pat-downs on everyone in the subway? This office building we're in, the Time Warner Center, very high-profiles building, should they do pat-downs?

SANCHEZ: Well, if they do it on planes, what's the difference? How come they're allowed to do it to us on planes and not allowed to do it to us in the stadium? Is there a difference?

TOOBIN: Well, that's why lawyers get work, because there are certain distinctions that we understand. I mean, a plane flying in the air is considered so -- such a target, and the consequences are so disastrous that the law has said that's acceptable.

Also, for example, traffic road stops for sobriety tests. There's no individualized suspicion there. Everybody's stopped there.

SANCHEZ: So there are distinctions.

TOOBIN: The Supreme Court has said, that's OK. There are not bright lines here. That's why this was a close case. I wouldn't be surprised to see it overturned on appeal, but it was, I thought, a very persuasive opinion.

SANCHEZ: Our senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin, always edifying us. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.


O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, many sides to the Middle East crisis, of course, but for many, the heart of the conflict goes back to the earliest claim to the land, both Israeli claims and Palestinian claims.

Coming up next, we're going to explain the history of this tiny but significant piece of the world. That's ahead. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: There are many sides to the conflict in the Middle East, sides which have become more an more entrenched over the years, in fact, over the centuries. One of the most important aspects is the longstanding and very complex question of Palestine and Israel.

CNN's faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher takes a looks at that troubled area and tells us why it's so important to peace in the Middle East.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH & VALUES CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Jews, the claim to Israel begins with this -- God's promise to Moses in the Bible, and Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt into Palestine.

ALON BEN-MEIR, CTR. FOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS, NYU: There's no doubt there is a written history that goes back 3,500 years -- that is a written history -- of Jewish presence in Palestine, which is called today Israel.

GALLAGHER: Arabs, too, have a history in the land, since the seventh century.

RICHARD BULLIET, MIDDLE EAST INST., COLUMBIA UNIV.: There was a desire to repossess this land that some Jews feel was given to them by God, but, of course, the Arabs said we have been here for 14 centuries, and that's not nothing.

GALLAGHER: Central to the history of this land for Jews, Christians and Muslims is Jerusalem.

BULLIET: Jerusalem becomes the religious center, because that is where the first and second temples were. Muslim leaders appropriated this sacred site at the beginning of Islam and built the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque. And of course as the place where Jesus was crucified, Jerusalem has a very powerful meaning for Christians.

GALLAGHER: Despite the confluence and often competing interests in Jerusalem, the Middle East has seen periods of peace.

BEN-MEIR: Jews have always lived in our society since Islam came to be. And as a matter of fact, the Jewish, what they call golden era of Jewish -- when Jews wrote the literature and reach height in various sciences, said the relationship between Muslim states, the Muslim regime and the Jews were always good.

GALLAGHER: After World War I, the League of Nations, led by Britain and France, divided up the Middle East, and Britain declared its support for a Jewish home state by issuing the Balfour Declaration.

BEN-MEIR: That declaration of 1917 was basically promising the Jews to have their own home to build their own refuge, their own home.

FAWAS GERGES, SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE: It was a systemic attempt by Britain and the colonial powers to change the historical, and geographic and Democratic nature of Palestine that brought about today's current hostilities.

GALLAGHER: World War II and the Holocaust increased Jewish immigration to Palestine. By 1947, with hostilities grown, the United Nations partitioned Palestine, dividing it between the Jews and the Arabs, with Jerusalem remaining under international control.

On May 14th, 1948, the Jews proclaimed Israel an independent state. War broke out almost immediately as Arab countries invaded Israel. Attempts to resolve the situation have been going on ever since.

BULLIET: Here you have a question of a small piece of land, two people who claim rights to the land, and they're fighting it out. And it's simply a clash of two nationalisms, if you will, in the same area. And for those people they simply erase all these historical arguments and say they're unimportant. The problem is that the people who are actually fighting are strongly motivated by these historical arguments, and they don't give them up easily.

GALLAGHER: In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel captured Sinai, Gaza, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Golan Heights, essentially creating many of the boundaries that exist today.

The land battle remained relatively calm until Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in 1973, which lead to a cease-fire within a month.

Subsequent peace agreements in Oslo in 1993 and at Camp David in 2000 have attempted to broker this land and set agreeable boundaries for living in peace. So far, all has failed.

BEN-MEIR: The problem here is dual claim. Both are right. Both have right to the same land. There's no solution. There's way you can resolve this, unless both accept each other's rights to exist on the same land.

GALLAGHER: Delia Gallagher, CNN, New York.


SANCHEZ: When we come back, Andy's going to be "Minding Your Business." In fact, he joins us now with a little bit of a tease.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Indeed, Rick. It's all about Mel Gibson coming out. We'll tell you about the Web site that broke the story, and Mel Gibson's miniseries on the holocaust, it's not going to happen. We'll tell you about that too coming up.

SANCHEZ: I wonder why?

Thank you, sir. Also ahead, CNN's exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the new baggage-security system. how these machines are supposed to make air travel a whole lot safer and a whole lot easier as well.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. Good morning.




O'BRIEN: We're back in a moment.