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Islamist Revolt in Pakistan; Firefight in Baghdad

Aired July 13, 2007 - 17:00   ET


Happening now, U.S. troops in a battle with Iraqi police. A bloody raid in Baghdad nets an Iraqi officer suspected of organizing attacks on behalf of Iran.

How deeply has Iran infiltrated the Iraqi forces?

An evangelist sentenced to die for practicing Christianity in communist North Korea. A desperate effort to save him here in Washington.

And a sexual assault trial in Nebraska, where the judge bans the word "rape" and the word "victim." The alleged victim is furious, and so are women's rights supporters.

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Miles O'Brien.


American troops in a bloody Baghdad firefight today with Iraqi police. This clash a stunning new sign of just how deeply Iran may be involved in the violence that is ravaging Iraq. This comes as the battle rages at home over the president's war strategy and whether it's making any progress.

Let's go live now to the Pentagon.

Our correspondent, Barbara Starr, is there -- Barbara, first of all, bring us up to date.

What happened today?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, a very nasty firefight in Baghdad. The question is, was Iran behind it all?


STARR: (voice-over): U.S. troops on a pre-dawn raid in Baghdad captured an Iraqi police lieutenant suspected of being an Iranian agent, raising questions about whether the elements of the police have now been infiltrated by Tehran.

GENERAL PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: And we're waiting to hear from the folks who are going to investigate this on the ground. I would not want to presume anything, and especially when it comes to that detail.

STARR: But a U.S. military statement said the Iraqi police officer is believed to have close ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a group the U.S. says is involved in dozens of attack against American troops in Iraq.

After the man was captured, a ferocious firefight broke out. U.S. troops came under fire by a nearby Iraqi police checkpoint.

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think we've been straightforward in saying all along that -- that the Iraqi police were a challenge.

STARR: It's just the latest example of potential growing Iranian influence in Iraq. A U.S. military drone spotted these rockets ready for launch outside Baghdad. Commanders believe Iranian rockets and mortars are being widely used in the growing number of attacks on Baghdad's highly secured Green Zone and other areas.

Intelligence sources are tell CNN insurgents frequently fire these weapons from populated areas, making it tough for the U.S. to launch counterattacks.

PACE: They hope that they'll be counter-battery fire that will be indiscriminate, that would cause damage from where the mortars are being fired. And we're not going to do that.


STARR: Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes all of this is part of an intense campaign by Al Qaeda, Iran and other insurgent groups to cause as much mayhem as possible, to weaken the Iraqi government and to weaken U.S. support for the war -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Barbara, they spend a lot of time planning for possibilities at the Pentagon.

What are the options, as those planners look at a possible military response to Iran?

STARR: Well, you know, that's the problem. There is growing evidence that Iran is meddling inside of Iraq. We all know that. We hear the Pentagon talking about it all the time. But by all indications, no plans to specifically go after Iran. All the plans are to continue to try and go after these insurgent networks when and where they find them inside Iraq -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Thank you very much.

A secret intelligence report still in the works says al Qaeda has found a safe haven in Pakistan, a U.S. partner in the war on terror, an important one.

But that country's embattled leader may have a much more pressing problem on his hands.

Here's CNN's Brian Todd -- Brian, what's the latest on this front?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, on one hand, President Pervez Musharraf is promising to crack down on Islamic extremists. But those groups who he's accused of turning a blind eye to in the past seem ready to counter them.


TODD: (voice-over): Anger on the street.


TODD: And more pressure on a key U.S. ally.


TODD: Calling President Pervez Musharraf a killer, protesters in Islamabad lash out after the Red Mosque standoff that left nearly 100 dead. After that crackdown on Islamic militants, Musharraf vowed to eliminate extremism in Pakistan.

One top Pakistani official tells us the Pakistani military is beefing up its presence in the remote border region with Afghanistan, a stronghold of the Taliban and al Qaeda, as a show of force against extremists.

But a U.S. official tells CNN there's no indication a major crackdown on Islamic radicals is about to begin.

And terrorism analyst Peter Bergen says Musharraf's previous attempts haven't worked so well.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: From 2003 to 2005, there was a major Pakistani military operation in the tribal regions that ended, really, in a political defeat, because it was unpopular in Pakistan and a military defeat, because the militants really held their own against the Pakistani military.

TODD: Following the Red Mosque siege, some of Pakistan's leading mullahs, who do not support the extremists, warned Musharraf not to launch a wider campaign against the madrassas, or religious schools. The government says it's only intent in rooting out extremists from madrassas.

MAHMUD DURRANI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: The government has launched a major campaign to get hold of all the bad madrassas. They are trying to reform all the madrassas with the reason that they should get some modern education, too, besides religion.


TODD: But we've been down this road before. After the London terror attacks two years ago, Musharraf promised a crackdown on madrassas that were training militants. But that crackdown was only partially concerned out -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: How much of a problem does Musharraf have with extremists inside his own military?

TODD: It certainly has been a problem in the past. Now, critics charge that key military people and the intelligence service had really extremist sympathies. But Pakistani officials and terrorism analysts tell us Musharraf has since mostly purged the extremists from the top levels of the military. The intelligence services may be another story.

O'BRIEN: Brian Todd.

Thank you very much.

Let's get up to New York.

Jack Cafferty with The Cafferty File -- hello, Jack.


One of the first thing that incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did was announce that impeachment of President Bush was, "off the table."

I'm still not sure who decided she was suddenly in charge of determining this, but it turns out not everybody agrees with Miss. Pelosi.

Here's what California's Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer had to say in a radio interview with Ed Schultz.


SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: I've always said you that need to keep it on the table and you need to look at these things because now people are dying because of this administration. And, you know, that's what -- that's the truth. And they won't change course. They're ignoring the Congress. They keep signing -- these signing statements, which mean that he's decided not to enforce the law. This is as close as we've ever come to a dictatorship.


CAFFERTY: Pretty strong stuff from Senator Boxer.

In December of 2005, she sent a letter to some legal experts asking if they thought the president's wiretapping of phone calls without a warrant was an impeachable offense.

But the leadership of the Democratic Party isn't interested. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed that impeachment is off the table. They say they're not going there, among other things, because it would make Dick Cheney president -- unless, of course, they impeached him, too.

Here's the question -- do you agree with Senator Barbara Boxer that impeachment of President Bush should remain on the table?

E-mail your thoughts on that to or go to -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: You know, it's going to be interesting to see what people say, Jack, because with so many important issues, with the war raging, is this what people want to see happen in Washington or do they want to see some solutions?

CAFFERTY: Well, I don't know. I suppose you'd have to decide whether or not that war might be part of the reason you leave this stuff on the table, based on the reasons we went there.

O'BRIEN: Jack Cafferty.

We'll see the responses very shortly.

Thank you very much.

Up ahead on the program, a Christian evangelist vanishes in North Korea and now his family is appealing to Washington for help.

Also, the bounty on Osama bin Laden doubled.

Will it help find the world's most wanted terrorist, though?

And a sexual assault trial censored -- the alleged victim barred from using the word "rape." Find out what she's doing about that.

Stay with us.



O'BRIEN: A Nebraska sexual assault trial is drawing a lot of critical attention because the judge has banned the word "rape," among others. The alleged victim is outraged, as are some women's rights groups.

CNN's Carol Costello is following the story -- Carol, why would the judge ban the word "rape?"

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, I wish I could have asked him that directly. But his clerk told me he had no comment.

Court documents say he did it so it wouldn't influence the jury against the accused. But the whole controversy has been so hot, the judge was forced to declare a mistrial. But that has not ended the debate.


COSTELLO: (voice-over): Pamir Safi is on trial for the second time, accused of raping Tory Bowen. His first trial ended with a hung jury after a war of words. Safi's attorney had convinced Nebraska Judge Jeffre Cheuvront to ban words like "rape," "sexual assault," "victim" and "assailant," arguing they might influence the jury. And that ruling applied even to Safi's alleged victim, Tory Bowen.

TORY BOWEN, ALLEGED VICTIM: I was mortified. I didn't know what to do. My first question to Pat was can I say this in a different language?

I didn't -- I didn't think that judges had that authority to ban what happened from me in the courtroom.

COSTELLO: At the first trial, Bowen testified for 13 hours without violating the judge's ban. But this time around, she wanted to speak freely, so she went public. And women's rights groups backed her up with a public protest.

ANGELA ROSE, VICTIMS' RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We're just not going to stand for it. So they've got the scarves over their mouths to show that victims should be given free speech.

COSTELLO: Banning words isn't unheard up. The judge in Kobe Bryant's rape trial banned the word "victim" to describe the woman accusing Bryant of rape.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The use of the label "victim" assumes that a crime took place. And it's the jury's job to decide whether a crime takes place, not the witness's.

COSTELLO: But the Nebraska judge's order went a lot farther. His ruling applied not only to witnesses, but to the alleged victim's testimony. Bowen says the ruling left her with few words to adequately describe what happened to her. So she refused to sign a court order forbidding her to utter words like "rape," even though disobeying such an order could bring a contempt charge, with jail time, a fine or both.

BOWEN: What happened was rape. Sex means consent. And what happened was not consent.

COSTELLO: Safi's attorney is frustrated, too. He was eager to prove his client's innocence and he says the judge's ruling was correct.

CLARENCE MOCK, DEFENDANT'S ATTORNEY: Trials should be deliberations based upon reason and the facts and the law and not about who can think up the most juicy terms to apply.

COSTELLO: As to where Bowen's case goes now, her lawyers are going to try to move the case out of Nebraska.


COSTELLO: And Bowen says she will continue to speak out about this issue. As for when another trial will be scheduled, well, Miles, that is anyone's guess. O'BRIEN: So, she wants to move the trial out of Nebraska. Presumably, under any circumstances, would she have to appear before that same judge?

COSTELLO: No, I think he's probably out of the picture right now. But, you know, it's up to the state's attorney in Nebraska to decide whether to go for a third trial. And that's something that he really has to think about.

So who knows if there even will be another trial?

O'BRIEN: Costing the taxpayers a lot of money there.

COSTELLO: You're right.

O'BRIEN: All right, Carol Costello, thank you very much.

The plot is thickening in the case of a suburban mother who has been missing for more than two months. Police now say her husband is considered a person of interest and police say they're getting information from a Chicago TV reporter, who was fired for getting too close to the source -- the husband is now under the eye of the investigators.

It's kind of a tangled web, but CNN's Keith Oppenheim will sort it all out for us -- Keith, what's the latest?

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is that Amy Jacobson has been a star reporter for the NBC station in Chicago since last Tuesday, when she was fired.

And as we are learning more about this case, it appears that in covering the story of the missing woman, Lisa Stebic, that Jacobson was becoming part of the story.


OPPENHEIM: (voice-over): Last week, a rival television station captured pictures of reporter Amy Jacobson inside the home of Craig Stebic, the estranged husband of Lisa Stebic, now missing for two-and- a-half months. Jacobson said she'd been invited to the home by Stebic's sister and was trying to get a scoop.


AMY JACOBSON, FORMER WMAQ REPORTER: When I'm on a story, I don't want to get beat. And I did learn some things. So -- of course, I didn't report on them yet, because that's something I'll share with a new employer.


OPPENHEIM: Now police say they've been talking to Jacobson about what she knows.

CHIEF DON BENNETT, PLAINFIELD, ILLINOIS POLICE: Amy Jacobson has, in the past, informed the Plainfield Police Department of her prior conversations with Mr. Stebic.

OPPENHEIM: Keep in mind, investigators are calling Craig Stebic a person of interest, language which appears to be just shy of calling him a suspect.

BENNETT: Mr. Stebic was the only one in the house and he remains the last known person to see Lisa.

OPPENHEIM: Police think Lisa Stebic disappeared because of foul play and they say Craig Stebic has refused to cooperate, to let them interview the campaign's two children.

After this video aired, reporter Amy Jacobson was fired, ostensibly because she got too close to a source, Craig Stebic himself.

But now, the "Chicago Tribune" reports WMAQ-TV, Amy Jacobson's former employer, thought she was getting too close to police, as well, telling what she knew with investigators but not telling her bosses.


OPPENHEIM: Miles, since this story broke, Amy Jacobson has acknowledged that she used poor judgment, that she should not have gone to Craig Stebic's home for -- to go swimming with her kids, all in pursuit of a story.

Today, we called her about the "Tribune" story that she was hiding things, essentially, from her bosses. And Amy said that it was really part of her job to regularly talk to police, to bring them things that she had learned from Craig Stebic, to clear out things that she was going to talk about on the air. And, normally, she said, she did not review all that information with her employers.

So she's saying she does not think she did anything inappropriate with investigators -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Wow, all kinds of journalistic ethical issues we could talk about.

But more to the point for this audience, is there some sort of allegation that police believe she has hindered their investigation?

OPPENHEIM: No. In fact, the way you described it, really, is at the core of what this story is about -- about whether there's a potential breach of journalistic ethics.

The police say her behavior had no impact on the investigation.

O'BRIEN: Keith Oppenheim in Chicago.

Thank you very much.

Keep up posted on this one.

Coming up on the program, a reality check for those in America lobbying for U.S. troops in Iraq to start up coming home right now. We'll look at exactly what that would take even under the best circumstances.

Plus, Christians allegedly persecuted in North Korea. Now fears one man may have been executed because of his faith.



O'BRIEN: Welcome back.

Carol Costello monitoring stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM -- Carol, what do you have?

COSTELLO: A couple of things, Miles.

A handwritten journal leading police to arrest two New York teenagers now accused of threats against a Suffolk County high school. Officials say the journal contained terrorist threats and elaborate plans for an attack on the school, which one of the teenagers attended. The 15-year-old and the 17-year-old met while working at a fast food restaurant.

Honoring Lady Bird Johnson -- three days of ceremonies began today, with a private service for the late first lady at the Austin wildflower center that bears her name. She's now lying in repose at her husband's presidential library, one that is open to the public. A private funeral is scheduled tomorrow, with burial Sunday at the Johnson ranch.

The State Department is under attack -- by wasps, as in insects. Huge numbers of the fierce some looking insects are buzzing around the headquarters here in D.C. Experts say this particular breed is called the cicada killer wasp. But despite the ominous name, these wasps are generally not aggressive and don't pose a threat to people.

I wish Jack Cafferty had read that story. I think he could have done something with it.

Progress to report in the battle against those Western wildfires. The largest blaze in Utah's history is now 65 percent contained, after burning 567 square miles south of Salt Lake City. Crews are also getting the upper hand in fires in South Dakota, Arizona, Nevada and California.

That's a look at the headlines right now -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Carol, I think those cicada killer wasps need a P.R. Agent or agent or something. They need -- they need a better name, don't you think?

COSTELLO: I think so. I just found that story really funny for some reason --

O'BRIEN: Yes. COSTELLO: -- that I can't really say, because I'd get into trouble.

O'BRIEN: All right.

News from the climate change front now, warning that Florida has a lot to lose if ocean levels rise. Governor Charlie Crist today -- of Florida -- ordered his state to reduce global warming pollution with Governor former -- excuse me -- with California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, showing his support.

Florida is now the 13th state to adopt those tough California emissions standards. To meet those standards, vehicles would have to fall into one of six categories. These range from low emissions, ultra low emissions, super low emissions. Usually, we're talking about like electric cars when you get into the zero emissions category.

So Florida adopting those tough California standards.

Once again, the state is kind of leading the way when it comes to legislation on climate change.

Coming up, easier said than done -- the truth about packing up and leaving Iraq. What it would really take to bring U.S. troops home.

Plus, growing pressure on President Bush to find Osama bin Laden.

Would new action by Congress help?




Happening now, Congress even less popular than President Bush. A new Associated Press poll shows only 24 percent of those asked are satisfied with the way lawmakers doing their job. That's down 11 points from May and nine points behind the president.

Also, Senator David Vitter expected to return to work soon after being implicated in a prostitution scandal. A fellow senator says the Louisiana Republican has been in seclusion with his family, but will likely show up next the vote next week.

And former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger leading a prominent group of Americans trying to repair strained relations with Russia. He and Washington veterans George Schultz and Robert Reuben, Sam Nunn, as well, are all meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at his country house.

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Miles O'Brien and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Two key Republicans today say they'll demand that President Bush come up with plan to start reducing U.S. forces in Iraq by the end of the year. Senators John Warner and Richard Lugar are proposing an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that would also declare the Senate's 2002 authorization for the use of force in Iraq obsolete.

But as calls for a pullout grow louder, the Pentagon and U.S. commanders say any withdrawal could take years.

Here's our senior correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie, when you say pull out, it is a lot easier said than done, isn't it?


All this talk about pulling out U.S. troops, in turns out it would be a logistical nightmare, especially if the war is still raging.


MCINTYRE: (voice-over): North of Baghdad, where some of the surge battalions are engaged in the toughest fighting, U.S. commanders already have optimistic contingency plans to dramatically reduce forces beginning in January.

MAJ. GEN. BENJAMIN MIXON, U.S. ARMY: I currently have five or six brigades, depending on how you count the numbers of battalions, that given the enemy's situation and as you move forward, after about an 18-month period of time, you could probably reduce that by about half.

MCINTYRE: The Pentagon has a rule of thumb for moving forces in and out of Iraq.

GENERAL PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: The system itself is designed right now to be able to increase or decrease about one brigade per month.

MCINTYRE: So with 20 combat brigades now in Iraq, that's at least 20 months to get them out. Add in all the support troops and it's well over two years. The U.S. could speed that up, but it would be tough.

Consider the last Iraq War. In 1991, it took the U.S. military nearly a year to get all of its troops and equipment out of Kuwait -- in a permissive environment with some of the best sea and airports in the world.

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: You're talking about not just U.S. soldiers, but millions of tons of contractor equipment that belongs to the United States government and a variety of other things. This is massive logistical undertaking, whenever it takes place.


MCINTYRE: For now, the Pentagon insists its post-surge planning is based on the hope for success of the surge strategy, that would allow for an orderly withdrawal. But that could change, Miles, in September, if General David Petraeus, who is known a straight shooter, concludes that the strategy is not working -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Yes. That's going to be very interesting in September. In the meantime, what's the thinking, Jamie, at the Pentagon? It is best to pull out quickly or do it very slowly in a gradual way?

MCINTYRE: Well, very slowly is the way they want to go. Because every time you pull a unit off the battlefield it changes the mix of things. And they want to be able to do -- it just takes time to clean up, pack up, inventory all of that equipment. If they have to do it in haste, there's a lot of waste.

O'BRIEN: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, thank you very much.

While U.S. troops are fighting and dying in Iraq, the Iraqi government is planning a vacation, even as it gets bad grades and a report card on the conduct of the war. Let's turn now to our White House correspondent, Elaine Quijano.

Elaine, a bit of a debate over there today, I should say.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and you know, this issue, Miles, has come up before. And the White House, administration officials have raised objections. But that wasn't the case today, at least not publicly. In fact, during the White House press briefing, press secretary Tony Snow seemed to indicate a kind of acceptance on the part of the Bush administration that the Iraqis would go ahead with this month-long recess come August. Snow at one point even referring to the hot summertime temperatures in Baghdad.

Take a listen to the exchange that he had with ABC's Martha Raddatz.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) the entire month of August before the September deadline?

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It looks like they may, yes, just like the U.S. Congress is.

RADDATZ: Have you tried to talk them out of that?

SNOW: You know, it's 130 degrees in Baghdad in August. I'll pass on your recommendation.

RADDATZ: Well, Tony, Tony, I'm sorry. That's -- you know, I mean, there are a lot of things that happen by September and it's 130 degrees for the U.S. military.


SNOW: And you know, that's a good point. And it's 130 degrees for the Iraqi military. And the Iraqis, you know, I'll let them, my understanding is, at this juncture, they're going to take August off. But you know, they may change their minds.


QUIJANO: Now, the Iraqi parliament was originally scheduled to take two months off, July and August. They cut that down for one month after a U.S. objection. Still, it has been a troubling notion for the administration and for some lawmakers on Capitol Hill because, of course, U.S. troops don't get a break from the fighting. And just yesterday, as you mentioned, the president's own interim report to Congress found that the Iraqi government has failed to make satisfactory progress on key legislative goals -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Elaine, do you have the sense that the White House is, in fact, pressuring the government not to take this big long break?

QUIJANO: Well, they certainly have tried. And that's something that we've heard publicly from administration officials, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and fellow Republicans have come forward in the past when they were looking at the two-month stretch.

But now what was so interesting about today's comments by Tony Snow, there didn't seem to be that kind of public, vociferous objection to this idea of even a month off. And add to that, again, that interim report. It's a critical period of time, the White House itself has acknowledged.

The next eight weeks are going to be an important period of time here as they look ahead to the General Petraeus report and the Ambassador Crocker report. Nevertheless, you didn't seem to hear the public objections coming from the podium today -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano at the White House, thank you very much.

Up ahead on the program, sentenced to death for being a Christian. That's what's happening in North Korea. Carol Costello has the story next right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, soccer in the United States has just gotten sexy. CNN's Becky Anderson has the story of David Beckham, and you know his wife, too, from where else, Hollywood. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


O'BRIEN: An evangelist sentenced to die for practicing Christianity in communist North Korea. A desperate effort to save him here in Washington. Our Carol Costello has details.

Carol, what's this one all about?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, it's a sad story, Miles. You know, it's not clear whether this man is still alive. He has been sentenced to die in North Korea and information out of that country is difficult to come by. This has been a long fight for the Son family. This isn't the first time they visited Washington, but this time, they're really desperate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COSTELLO (voice-over): North Korea's dear leader, its communist dictator, controls the country's religious message, casting himself as a higher power through propaganda and economic control. Lawmakers here say Christians are routinely persecuted in North Korea. So now family members say it is no surprise Son Jong Nam, an evangelical, has disappeared.

SONG JONG HOON, BROTHER OF SON JONG NAM (through translator): I knew where he was until March 2006. He was in National Security Prison in Pyongyang. I don't know where he is now. He's completely restricted. I can't get any information on my brother.

COSTELLO: He says his brother thought he was safe. In 1998, Son Jong Nam escaped North Korea for China after his pregnant wife was so severely beat by the North Korean government, she later died of her injuries. He found comfort in Jesus while in China, and went back to North Korea to evangelize, a crime under Kim Jong-il.

He spent three years in prison for that. When released, he fled to China again and was arrested by Chinese authorities and deported. According to relatives, this time, North Korea sentenced him to die in a public execution.

JONG (through translator): I think that North Korea, they are evil. They are not allowed human rights. They are not allowed religious freedom. Christians here in the U.S., they can pray for my brother. They will open North Korea to change it.

COSTELLO: But Song Jong Hoon is hoping for more than prayer. He has met with American State Department officials in Washington, and visited lawmakers. Presidential hopeful and Senator Sam Brownback and four other lawmakers have sent a letter to the United Nations and to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, telling both: "Future cooperation and engagement with North Korea will be far more challenging if its leaders continue to persecute their own people for religious views."

Senator Brownback says Son's case and religious persecution ought to be part of the United States strategy in dealing with North Korea.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we've been engaged in six-party talks. We've been discussing with them on their nuclear power plant, the nuclear plant and shutting that down. We can put this into the discussion and mix as well.


COSTELLO: Senator Brownback realizes Mr. Son is just one person, but says there are many more like him being held or killed by the North Korea government. He says it's not only a religious issue but a human rights issue, too -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Carol, this is the most secret regime on the planet. Getting any sort of information out of that country is next to impossible, isn't it?

COSTELLO: Yes, it is next to impossible. And that has the families really worried though, because they had this secret method that I can't really tell you about because it would get them into trouble, that they were communicating with people who knew what was happening with their brother. But now they can't get any information out of North Korea, and that makes them really frightened.

O'BRIEN: Carol Costello, thank you very much.

Anonymously posted YouTube videos are refocusing attention on a four-year-old murder that shocked the state of Massachusetts, and the nation, for that matter. The surveillance video shows prison guards reacting to the killing of defrocked priest John Geoghan, a central figure on the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. Let's bring in now our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton with more.

Abbi, what do these videos show?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Miles, this is security video from a Massachusetts state prison from August 2003. It shows a group of corrections officers crowding around the door of John Geoghan's cell, trying to force it open.

It was jammed shut by fellow prisoner Joseph Druce, who at this point was inside the cell strangling the former priest and convicted child molester. The guards eventually get in, if you watch the video, as it goes on. They restrained Druce, who was convicted last year of Geoghan's murder.

The video was posted on YouTube last month under the name Joseph Druce. Inmates don't have access to the Internet. But from messages we've read from the person that posted it, this person is clearly sympathetic to Druce.

Now this week, another video was posted, also security video. And this one just from minutes before the incident. Now, how this all got onto YouTube, how these ended up being posted is a mystery. Druce's former attorney tells CNN that security videos were played at the trial and at pretrial hearings, but he has no idea how this got online.

Druce's current attorney for an expected appeal says no member of his team released any videos. A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections says that the matter is still under investigation, how this all got online. There might be more to investigate.

We've exchanged messages with whoever posted this. That person is declining to reveal their identity, saying only they have a guilty heart and suggesting that more videos might be posted onto YouTube -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: You would think tape like this would be part of the public record and would have been released initially.

TATTON: There were certain copies that the prosecution had, the defense had that were turned over to the new lawyers. But as how anyone got their hands on this and put it online, that we just don't know.

O'BRIEN: Abbi Tatton, watching the Internet for us, thank you very much.

Many U.S. jails and prisons are plagued by troubling conditions. But the problem is especially acute when it come housing mentally ill inmates. CNN's special correspondent Soledad O'Brien saw it firsthand. She joins us now from New York.

Soledad, what are people trying to do about this? And by the way, good to see you.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Miles, of course, good to see you as well. It's very interesting to see what people are trying to do about it from a bunch of different directions. Family advocates, a judge we've been talking to and people within the system all recognize it needs to be changed.

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, of course, we were struck by how many red flags there were when you talk about notorious killers. Cho, Dalmer, Kaczynski, to name just a few.

But when you look at a prison floor in particular, in Miami-Dade County in Florida, they're trying to deal with people who are behind bars but who are also patients. And what we saw, Miles, was incredibly disturbing.


S. O'BRIEN: (voice-over): It's called "the forgotten floor." At the Miami-Dade County pre-detention facility, the entire ninth floor houses prisoners with the most serious mental illnesses. They are warehoused here before being taken to court or, in rare cases, before being sent to a state hospital or other mental health facility.

JUDGE STEVEN LEIFMAN, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COURT: This is the largest psychiatric facility in Florida. There are five times more people here with mental illness than any state hospital.

S. O'BRIEN (on camera): But this is a jail; this is not a psychiatric facility.

LEIFMAN: It's not. Unfortunately, it has become one.

S. O'BRIEN (voice-over): Miami-Dade County Court Judge Steven Leifman has made the forgotten floor and its mentally ill residents his personal crusade, providing me with a tour of its deplorable conditions.

LEIFMAN: Sometimes, when it gets overcrowded in here, you may see two people kind of spooning in this metal shelf, and one or two on the ground, and one waiting their turn to sleep. It's very difficult.

S. O'BRIEN (on camera): This is how inmates on the ninth floor of the jail live, a small space. Sometimes there is two, three, four inmates sharing this cell, lights on 24 hours a day. This wrap is the only clothing they would wear. And you'll notice, there is no mattress on the bed, both of those things to keep mentally ill inmates from harming themselves.

(voice-over): Most of the inmates are brought in for drug possession, assaulting an officer, or resisting arrest. But they can remain here for an average of six to nine months, sometimes up to a year or even longer.


S. O'BRIEN: Now, Judge Leifman is trying to figure out how they can actually get the people who are incarcerated there help and not necessarily continue to keep them behind bars. And one of the things that he's doing is trying to create this facility which should be unveiled in 2008, Miles.

That will actually bring people out of the criminal justice system and into treatment facilities where they can get some kind of counseling, medication, be watched around the clock, helped for a really intense three months before they try to, you know, bring them back into the community, even people who have committed felonies -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Well, this is an unfortunate side effect of the whole deinstitutionalization of mentally ill. I'm curious, though, you say they sometimes are there for a year. Are they in kind of a limbo or is there a process for getting them out?

S. O'BRIEN: It's both a limbo and a process. And it's a limbo, because what happens is, they're trying to get them stabilized. They come into the jail, before they can actually go to their trial, they have to be stabilized. They have to be mentally stable. So they will send them off to the mental hospital if they can get them in.

They become stabilized. OK. Now go back to the jail and wait for your trial. Well, often, as I pointed out, the bright lights, the people around you screaming, what they have to wear, just the situation makes them deteriorate again even faster.

So now they've deteriorated again. OK. Now they've got to go to the state hospital, get stabilized again. OK. Now they have got to come back to the jail and go face their trial, and it's a cycle that keeps happening over and over again. And I've got to tell you, at significant cost to the American taxpayer.

O'BRIEN: What a hellish cycle. Soledad O'Brien, thank you very much. Always a pleasure.

And you can see much more about this weekend, "CNN's SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT" looks at the criminally insane Saturday and Sunday night, 8:00 Eastern and again at 11:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

Next, stepping up efforts to find the world's most wanted terrorist. Can money talk when it comes to finding Osama bin Laden?

And Jack Cafferty with your e-mail on our question of the day. Do you agree with Barbara Boxer that impeachment of President Bush should be on the table? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


O'BRIEN: The U.S. Senate is doubling the reward for the death or capture of Osama bin Laden. The measure would raise the reward to $50 million. This comes as U.S. intelligence reports say al Qaeda has made a stunning comeback and may be at its strongest since the early days of the war on terror.

Joining me now, CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, who has interviewed Osama bin Laden, knows the ring of security around him, knows what the whole possibility of retribution is here. In a sense, is the U.S. missing the point when it is raising the bounty? Does that really motivate people who would have any knowledge about where he is?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: And the short answer, Miles, is no. There has been a $5 million reward for bin Laden in '99, after the embassy attacks in Africa. It has gone up to $25 million, now it's $50 million. The people around bin Laden are not motivated by money, otherwise somebody would have dropped a dime on him a long time ago.

You know, they regard this guy as a religious idol. And you know, the people in his immediate circle are not going to be motivated by an additional reward. And if we were serious about it, let's make it $1 billion. We're spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the war on terrorism already, why not make it a serious chunk of change?

O'BRIEN: Well, would that make a difference?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, you know, maybe that...

O'BRIEN: That could change.

BERGEN: Slightly facetious, but I mean, if it was well-known that there was a very substantial sum of money that could be divvied up amongst a lot of different people, maybe that might make a difference.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. Let's talk about why, after all of this time, he remains elusive. We keep seeing -- particularly from Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is number two, you know, these tapes keep appearing. And he keeps communicating with the world. There has to be trail associated with those tapes getting out to the public. And yet we cannot follow that trail, why not?

BERGEN: Well, in the case of Ayman al-Zawahiri, he is releasing so many tapes that that trail is being followed, in my theory. I mean, you may remember in January 2006 there was an attempt to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri with a predator. He narrowly escaped death.

So these guys are in a sort of catch 22. If they say nothing, they sort of recede from -- into historical figures. If they say things, they may be found. Now, bin Laden hasn't said anything since 2006. I think they just made a decision Zawahiri will make the risks of being out there.

Last week he -- this week he produced two videotapes -- or two tapes. One almost immediately responding to events in Pakistan. So he is out there, bin Laden is remaining quiet.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. If both of them were gone, out of the picture, killed, captured or whatever tomorrow, what would really happen to al Qaeda? Because al Qaeda is not a linear organization, it's kind of -- it's a movement, a franchise, however you want to describe them?

BERGEN: Yes, well, it's a movement, a franchise and an organization, and the organization, as the National Intelligence Estimate indicated, is regrouping. If you kill off the leaders of organizations, I mean, that is helpful. Or if you capture them, Ayman al-Zawahiri and bin Laden came up with the 9/11 idea, they came up, they founded al Qaeda, they are the people who put this into motion. So you can't underestimate how important it would be to find them.

O'BRIEN: Something caught my ear yesterday listening to the president. Let's listen to what he had to say at his news conference.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September 11th. And that's why what happens in Iraq matters to security here at home.


O'BRIEN: OK. Once again making that link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

BERGEN: I mean, that's a disingenuous state, it must be said. Al Qaeda in Iraq didn't exist until 2004, well after the 9/11 attacks. There was no al Qaeda presence in Iraq until we invaded the country and now there's a substantial presence. Does al Qaeda in Iraq take direction from al Qaeda central on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border? To some degree. But that's after the 9/11 events, not before it.

O'BRIEN: Do you think if the U.S. were to pull out, would that al Qaeda threat move to the shores of United States as the administration would suggest?

BERGEN: I think a complete withdrawal from Iraq would, A, confirm al Qaeda's narrative about the United States. That we're a paper tiger based on Vietnam, Mogadishu, the pullout from Lebanon in the '80s. But, B, more importantly, would confirm our strategy, which is to get a place which they can really regroup. And now they have a safe haven on the Afghan-Pakistan border, and they would like one in central Iraq.

O'BRIEN: So another Afghanistan-Taliban kind of scenario.

BERGEN: Basically, yes. O'BRIEN: All right. Peter Bergen, our terrorism analyst, thank you for your insights, as always.

O'BRIEN: Ahead on the program, Jack Cafferty wants to know if you agree with Senator Barbara Boxer that the impeachment of President Bush should be on the table.

And in la-la land, they're going gaga over English soccer star David Beckham and his ever so "Posh" wife. We'll tell you why. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


O'BRIEN: A huge dose of glamour for an often neglected support here in the U.S. British soccer star David Beckham introduced to enthusiastic fans of his new team, the Los Angeles Galaxy. CNN's Becky Anderson in L.A. with the latest -- Becky.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, thanks, Miles, David Beckham now has finally arrived at the home of the L.A. Galaxy. There was 600 press to welcome him and an enormous crowd. This is what he said when he took to the stage.


DAVID BECKHAM, SOCCER PLAYER: I'm looking forward to starting training next week. I'm looking forward to the first game. I'm looking forward to the support that you've all shown me throughout my career, not just since I've been here in Los Angeles, but throughout my career. Thank you to everybody that has made this happen, made my dream come true.


ANDERSON: Well, the owners of this MLS team are banking on Beckham. They've paid him a reputed $250 million over the next five years effectively to try and help make soccer a game played for grown men. Played by kids at the moment in the U.S., much more so than played by adults.

If he can do that, he will be worth his weight in gold. He also, though, won't he, be part of that scene in L.A. -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Becky. Time now to go back to Jack Cafferty and your e-mail.

Hello, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Miles, the question this hour is, do you agree with Senator Barbara Boxer that impeachment of President Bush should remain on the table?

Kathi in Denver writes: "You could set the table for a six course meal with the number reasons to impeach this president. Keep impeachment on the table, and on every other piece of furniture in the White House." Courtland in Vancouver: "The impeachment of President Bush is not on the table, Barbara Boxer is just spewing rhetoric to help her electability in California."

Fran writes: "We need to first get rid of Cheney, and it shouldn't be too difficult to find grounds to impeach him. And then put impeachment on the table for Bush. Maybe Rush Limbaugh would finally pop a cork if Nancy Pelosi became president and we'd be rid of that windbag too. Perhaps then civility and the rule of law could be allowed to return to the governing process."

Michael in Ohio: "Put it back on the table, on the chair, on the fridge, on the dishwasher, the stove, on the couch. We need to get rid of these chickenhawks who think it's manly to command others to kill and die in our names, while the reputation of our once great country slips into a corporate-controlled fascist state."

Mark in Arkansas: "Impeachment should not be discussed. We're at war. We need to show our strengths, not our weaknesses."

Martin in Ohio writes: "Yes, let's get rid of Bush and Cheney and then put Pelosi in charge. It makes me warm and cozy, as a retired Air Force veteran that served 22.5 years for this great country."

Peter in San Francisco: "Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, and Chertoff should all be impeached. Actually, we could learn something from the Chinese about how they take care of rogue officials.

And B.G. writes from Minnesota: "Yes. And I'll bring the table."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to where we post more of these online along with video clips of the "Cafferty File" which will soon be available, Miles, in a box set of DVDs. You maybe want to get your order in early. They're expected to sell out quickly.

O'BRIEN: I'm going to get online immediately to get those. Do I get the corporate discount or anything?

CAFFERTY: Yes, the corporate discount is this.


O'BRIEN: Just quickly, were they pretty much evenly divided on that issue?

CAFFERTY: No, not at all. Overwhelmingly in favor of leaving it on the table, overwhelmingly.

O'BRIEN: Jack Cafferty, thanks very much. We're here every weekday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00. Now, let's go to Kitty Pilgrim.