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Authorities say Danielle van Dam no Longer Alive; Pearl Suspects Come to Court

Aired February 25, 2002 - 22:00   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: They are over. They were fun. They were interesting. Good for American athletes. Very good for Canada. And really bad if you were trying to do a TV program or trying to get out of Salt Lake today.

Welcome back. We missed you a lot. In fact, we were talking behind your back while you were gone -- all 35 of us who gathered here every night for the last two weeks.

And I should tell you also that we made a few changes while you were away. For one, this page is no longer used for self-indulgent rants. The accordion guy has been banned. And no more smirking. It was really annoying.

OK, two out of three.

Now we need to get to work pretty quickly tonight before you turn to a curling match on the CBC. And we begin, as we always do, with the "Whip Around the World" and the correspondents covering it.

It is the Daniel Pearl case, the investigation, and the possibility of an extradition that begins the "Whip."

Susan Candiotti working the story in Washington.

Susan, a headline.


Here in Washington the White House making it very clear it wants to prosecute Omar Sheikh. As it turns out, he was secretly indicted for at least weeks before Daniel Pearl's kidnapping. In another case, we'll have more.

BROWN: Susan, thank you.

In southern California, a development today nobody wanted to hear in the abduction of Danielle Van Dam. That is now a murder case.

Thelma Gutierrez, the headline from you, please.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, for the past three weeks authorities and volunteers have searched for 7-year-old Danielle Van Dam. Tonight, grim news. Authorities say Danielle is no longer alive, and now murder charges will be filed against her alleged kidnapper -- Aaron.

BROWN: Thelma, thank you. Back to you shortly.

And we go back to Washington as our last stop on the "Whip." A crime story that plays out more as a comic opera. The congressman who ends every speech with "beam me up, Scotty" is on trial for corruption and defending himself.

Kate Snow works the story for us, and she's on the Hill tonight.

Kate, a headline.

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Forcing employees to work in the horse stalls on his horse farm, telling others to put kickbacks under his door in envelopes -- those are just some of the charges facing Jim Traficant in a Cleveland courtroom.

But it is Youngstown, Ohio where he hails from, where he was born. And to understand a little bit about what his appeal is, you have to understand the history of Youngstown. And if you know a little bit about why people want to move Youngstown forward and clean it up, you'll understand why some of them want Traficant to go down -- Aaron.

BROWN: Kate, thank you. It's a terrific story. Back to you shortly.

Also tonight we'll introduce you to a musician who invented the instrument he plays when he was 17 years old. He's been playing it ever since, for 77 years. And at age 94 he's been nominated for a Grammy. And we're leaving out a big part of this story until a little bit later.

Also tonight, to Afghanistan for a look at a custom that might be called a Tupperware party without the Tupperware. And I'm told, for the first tome in several weeks, there will be a mystery guest tonight. I personally think this is a bit unfair to do to me on a Monday. No one is at their best on Monday, I think we all know that. But a mystery guest it is.

We begin it all, though, with the serious stuff. And it doesn't get more serious than the Daniel Pearl case, and what has become of the prime suspect. President Bush has promised to bring those who commit acts of terror to justice. The United States government very much wants to try those responsible for the Pearl murder in the United States under a U.S. law that makes killing an American overseas in a terrorist act a crime.

Now, Pakistan has reasons of its own to want to hold the trial there. And that's part of what they are talking about, both here and there.

We begin there in Karachi, and CNN's Chris Burns.


CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heavy police security as Sheikh Omar Saeed, the accused mastermind in the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl is brought to the courthouse with two other suspects. The closed-door hearing in the judge's chambers lasts a few minutes, but prosecutors score a small victory. They ask for and get two more weeks to build their case by keeping the suspect in police custody.

RAJA QURESHI, PROSECUTOR GENERAL: It was being objective, but then the judge expressed dissatisfaction based on the submissions made by the prosecution.

BURNS: Namely that since the gruesome video surfaced late last week, showing Daniel Pearl slain and decapitated. Authorities want more time; time to find Pearl's body and the murder weapon.

During the next two weeks, investigators can also continue questioning Omar Saeed, as well as two suspects believed to have helped send e-mails of Pearl in captivity, Sheikh Mohammed Adil and Salmon Saqib. The third e-mail suspect, Fahad Naseem confessed to a judge last week and was remanded to jail pending formal charges.

During the hearing, the suspect said authorities were trying to coerce them.

KHWAJA NAVEED AHMED, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Omar Sheikh had complained that by force, his signatures had been obtained on blank papers and he was forced to make confession, which he doesn't want to make.

BURNS: Judge Shabir Ahmed (ph) told the investigators to back off, even though Sheikh Omar has previously confessed to being behind the kidnapping. That statement wasn't sworn testimony, so it can't be used as evidence.


Are two weeks enough time to find Daniel Pearl's body and the murder weapon, and to find more evidence and enough witnesses and enough suspects to proceed with this case?

We now find out that perhaps there are efforts to extradite Sheikh Omar Saeed. That is an interesting development that perhaps could be also developing in these next two weeks before the March 12 deadline for investigators to file their murder and kidnapping charges -- Aaron.

BROWN: Well, a couple things come to mind, Chris. One -- and it's probably understandable, but I think it's the first time that most of us have thought about evidence and whether there is enough to actually press the case.

Is there, in fact, concern in Pakistan that they don't have enough evidence to make the case? BURNS: Well, what they would like to do is file murder/kidnapping charges with additional evidence. Ever since the video came out showing the brutal murder of Daniel Pearl, the authorities here would like to gather more evidence in the wake of that. Obviously they're trying to get the body and the murder weapon.

BROWN: OK. And on the point of extradition, is there much talk in Pakistan about where Pakistanis would prefer this trial to be held? Has the government shown any indication it wants to extradite the man?

BURNS: Well, there is a meeting today between the U.S. ambassador and Pakistani authorities. Among the issues they will be discussing today will be the case of Daniel Pearl, possible extradition. So there apparently is at least a willingness to talk about it on the higher government level.

There have been concerns expressed about what -- how this would look to the Pakistani people; that if they are unable to try this man themselves, and if he's sent off to the United States, what kind of image -- message would that send out?

There's another bit of a complication here to think about, is if they go ahead and press the charges -- if they file the charges against Sheikh Omar Saeed, one person who's close to the investigation here, a Pakistani, says that that could actually lock him in to facing justice here before he can at all be sent off to another country. That's another consideration -- Aaron.

BROWN: Chris, thank you very much.

Just to complicate things even more, there's no extradition treaty with the government of Pakistan. So this won't be simple. And so the question becomes, how hard do you press the Pakistanis on this point if you're the administration? And tonight, at least, the answer looks like "as hard as it takes." Perhaps even using a secret indictment from another kidnapping case, one back in 1994.

Once again, CNN's Susan Candiotti.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The White House is pressing Pakistan to turn over Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, an alleged ringleader in the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The United States would very much like to get our hands on Omar Sheikh and the others who are responsible.

CANDIOTTI: It turns out the U.S. was trying to get its hands on him at least a few weeks before Pearl's kidnapping.

Sources say the Justice Department had secretly indicted Omar Sheikh in the 1994 kidnapping of four tourists, including an American in India. On January 9, U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain pressed Pakistan for Omar Sheikh's arrest. So did the FBI director on January 24, the day after Pearl's kidnapping.

Omar Sheikh was taken into custody in the Pearl case February 5, but Pakistani authorities kept it under wraps for another week. U.S. officials are investigating possible connections between the Pearl case and Pakistan's intelligence service, and whether Omar Sheikh was one of its informants.

Raising this question: Was he protected by elements in that agency?

JIM ROBINSON, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: You never know what's going to happen in the system of another country. And I think that's all the more reason why it's important to pursue a consistent policy of extradition of individuals for violating U.S. law.

CANDIOTTI: But others suggest there is a reason why Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf would want to see the case through.

STEPHEN COHEN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think he wants to show that the Pakistani judicial system is functioning. The notion of turning somebody over to a foreign government is a bad precedent for him.

CANDIOTTI: There is precedent for extraditing suspects from Pakistan, including Ramzi Yousef, convicted in the first World Trade Center bombing; and Mir Aimal Kansi, convicted in a shooting outside CIA headquarters.


CANDIOTTI: It's very clear the U.S. wants Omar Sheikh badly. A grand jury is considering charges. Without taking public sides on who should prosecute Omar Sheikh first, President Bush insists he has no doubt President Musharraf of Pakistan will bring Daniel Pearl's killers, Aaron, to justice.

BROWN: Well, perhaps so. The question remains where. In the two cases you cited, where there were extraditions from Pakistan to the United States, the crimes themselves took place in the United States, at the Trade Center and at the CIA. This one took place on an American citizen in Pakistan. And that's a very different case and I would think presents different problems.

CANDIOTTI: Well, that may very well be the case. And while saying for days now that there is no extradition treaty, today during a White House briefing, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer went to -- tried to seek clarification on that. And he said that, actually, he cited a treaty that was signed and enacted, rather, back in 1942 when Pakistan was still under British empire rule, and he said it is under those auspices, under that authority, they would seek to extradite. In this case, Daniel Pearl's alleged kidnappers and murderers.

BROWN: Susan, that's an interesting way that the administration has of looking at it. Let's -- we'll move on because I want to talk more about this. Thank you, Susan Candiotti, who has been working this story pretty hard lately.

Daniel Pearl's murder was, of course, the first successful act of terror against the United States since September 11. The more about it we learn, the more it's becoming clear. It was always intended to be just that, not a kidnapping, but an act of terror. Daniel Klaidman has been reporting this story for "Newsweek" magazine. His story in the current issue is titled "A Murder Most Foul." No one would argue that point. And Daniel joins us from Washington tonight. It's nice to see you. Thanks.

Let's talk about the extradition question a bit. From the Pakistani side, resistance to extraditing Sheik or anybody else in this is what?

DAN KLAIDMAN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "NEWSWEEK": Well, it has to do with political sensitivities, questions of perceived violations of national sovereignty and, really, a fear on President Musharraf's part that extraditing Sheikh would inflame passions among Muslim militants in that country and that he would perhaps be accused of playing into the hands of the terrorists, which is to say they think that he is a tool of the American government and this might confirm that for some people.

BROWN: So it's not a question of whether there's a legal basis in the 1942 treaty or anything else. It's a political problem on the ground in Pakistan.

KLAIDMAN: I think that's exactly right. It's largely political. It's not uncommon for countries to resist extradition. It happens among even our European allies when there are concerns about, for example, our having the death penalty and those countries being against the death penalty. In this particular case, it is political. It's very sensitive. And Musharraf is concerned, I'm sure, about destabilizing his country at a difficult time.

BROWN: Is Sheikh the leader of this group or is he one of the leaders of this group? And talk a little bit because you do in the piece this week about the group itself.

KLAIDMAN: He is one of the leaders in the group. At this point, although he is only 28 years old, he is clearly fairly senior. He's been at this game, this terrible game of kidnapping and murder going back to at least 1994, when he was involved in the kidnapping of four Western tourists in India and was, in fact, imprisoned for that.

The United States government has a grand jury has indicted him for that case just some months ago. It is an Islamic extremist group known as the Army of Mohammed, Jaish-e-Mohammed. And it's involved in all sorts of political causes including the fight over Kashmir and has some ties, although they may be tenuous, but some ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda as well.

BROWN: And you make the argument pretty forcefully in the piece that this is a particularly vicious group in these moments like this.

KLAIDMAN: Well, look at the Danny Pearl murder. Look at the way they did it. Look at the videotape. Vicious in the sense of the brutal violence and then, beyond that, vicious in terms of their beliefs. Clearly very anti-Semitic. They forced Danny Pearl, as we all know, to denounce his religion, to denounce his country and, you know, that is their hallmark.

BROWN: And at the beginning in introducing you, Dan, I talked about that this was never -- the more we know, the more we come to believe that this was never intended to be a kidnapping for ransom as such, that this was always designed as an act of terror. Do you buy that?

KLAIDMAN: I think that's exactly right. I mean, they were making demands that they had to understand the United States government was not in a position to fulfill. They were not going to release terrorists who were imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. They were not going to send F-16s to Pakistan. In fact, that was an issue that had already been resolved and they clearly knew that.

This was propaganda, trying to get as much attention as possible and ultimately, they believe that a vicious, brutal murder of an American citizen videotaped would get them that attention.

BROWN: Daniel, thank you. It's a nice piece of work this week in "Newsweek" magazine. We appreciate your time tonight. Daniel Klaidman from "Newsweek", who has been reporting on, along with his colleagues, on the Pearl case.

When we come back, the van Dam kidnapping. It is a murder case now. We'll tell you what happened today and we'll talk with San Diego's police chief as well. This is "NEWSNIGHT" from New York.


BROWN: There was a moment this afternoon that you knew in your heart was coming. The prosecutor in San Diego announced he filed murder charges in the case of Danielle van Dam, the 7-year-old who was kidnapped from her home. It is not that in your heart you believe that this child was still alive, but until today, you and, most of all, her parents could at least hope that was the case. Once again, CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.


PFINGST: I must conclude that Danielle van Dam is no longer living and was killed by her abductor.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): It was a confirmation of the worst kind, one that ended all hope of finding 7-year-old Danielle van Dam alive. The accused abductor is David Westerfield, who was arrested on Friday. Today, on the eve of his arraignment on a kidnapping charge, San Diego county district attorney Paul Pfingst made a last minute announcement.

PFINGST: My office will file one count of murder against David Westerfield for abducting and killing 7-year-old Danielle van Dam.

GUTIERREZ: The DA is adding a special circumstance allegation to the murder charge.

PFINGST: The special circumstance filed against David Westerfield is murder during a kidnapping. This charge, carries with it a potential death penalty sentence or a sentence of life without parole.

GUTIERREZ: For three weeks, Brenda and Damon van Dam prayed their daughter would be found alive, but then traces of her blood were allegedly found on Westerfield's clothes and in his motor home. This weekend, the van Dams met with investigators and the district attorney.

PFINGST: And it was difficult to bring out the word "murder." When they heard the word and recognized that we were dealing with this issue, both parents were in tears.

GUTIERREZ: Police have not yet found Danielle, but the DA's office says it has successfully prosecuted four homicide cases without a body.

PFINGST: All four of those cases resulted in a guilty verdict. And a number of those cases have ended up on death row.

GUTIERREZ: With news of the murder charge, one nearby resident posted a sign on David Westerfield's property.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just want people to see it. And we want David to have a conscience about it; we want him to tell us where she is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone asked me one time, well, isn't it like looking for a needle in a haystack? And my response is, well, if that haystack were your daughter somewhere, you would want it ripped apart straw by straw to find her. And that's what the van Dams want.

GUTIERREZ: The van Dams met with volunteers who had gathered to look for their daughter for the past three weeks. The volunteers have assured them they will not stop now.


GUTIERREZ: David Westerfield will be arraigned tomorrow. The van Dams are expected to be in the courtroom to hear his plea. But the San Diego district attorney said that today the trial might not begin for another year or so. As to whether or not he will seek the death penalty, the DA said a team of senior prosecutors would first have to evaluate the case, and that's a very lengthy process -- Aaron.

BROWN: The trial might not begin for a year or so?

GUTIERREZ: He says that that's very common in this kind of a case. It could be another nine month to a year from the time of an arrest that the trial would actually begin.

BROWN: Thelma, thank you very much. Thelma Gutierrez in Los Angeles tonight. This has been a difficult case, a difficult search, a difficult investigation. These cases tend to take a lot out of everybody involved. So we're especially thankful to San Diego's police chief for joining us tonight.

Chief David Bejarano joins us from San Diego.

Chief, thank you again. I heard you on Friday say, as a father you hoped that Danielle was still alive. As a police officer you had great doubts.

What changed between Friday, when the man was arrested, and today, when the prosecutor made the decision?

CHIEF DAVID BEJARANO, SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, again Aaron, as I mentioned on Friday, it's very difficult. It's been a long three weeks for all of us. And as a parent you always want to have some hope that your son or daughter will be located at some point.

However, once we have taken a look at the facts and the investigation -- and it's been 23 days now. In fact, when I met with the family on Friday to advise them of the impending arrest involving the suspect, we had a discussion then. And then over the weekend we had more discussions involving our investigators, district attorney's office, Mr. Pfingst, the district attorney and the family.

At this point we have almost run out of options. We have searched areas at least two times, three times. And this has been on foot, four-wheel vehicles, horses, our air support unit. We've simply run out of options as for where Danielle might be.

Obviously we would love to be proven wrong in this case, and we hope -- and there is still some hope that possibly she might be alive. But all the evidence, all the facts at this point indicate that more than likely she's not alive.

BROWN: I understand, and I respect that you cannot or will not, at least, talk to me about specific evidence. Can you answer this, though: Did something -- did some piece of evidence change from Friday to today, or was it just a sense that this was the logical conclusion to reach?

BEJARANO: No, at this point we continue to review over 100 pieces of information, and close to about 100 pieces of evidence. We still have some analyzing, some evaluation of some additional evidence. But no new evidence.

This simply seems to be, unfortunately, the logical step in this investigation.

BROWN: Do you now believe that you know pretty much precisely what happened that night that the child was kidnapped?

BEJARANO: Well, we believe so. Again, we still have a lot of work that has to be done in this investigation. Again, based on the volumes of information that we have, we believe we have a very good timeline of what occurred beginning Friday night up until we made the arrest on Friday morning.

But again, we were still reviewing a lot of information.

BROWN: And now of course it's up to -- the prosecutors make charging decision, and prosecutors have to try these cases. Can you talk a bit about how much more difficult it is to try a murder case in the absence -- this is such a gruesome question, I apologize -- in the absence of a body?

BEJARANO: Well, of course. And again, that's the reason why we involved the entire team that was involved in this investigation, as I mentioned before. All of our investigators have a lot of experience and tenure as far as the district attorney's office.

And without a question, it is more difficult when you don't have the body of the victim. However, we've had, I believe, about four cases in San Diego County over the last 10 or 12 years where you have been successful in this type of prosecution.

Again, we believe on what we have at this point, a tremendous amount of circumstantial evidence. And then the scientific link involving DNA that we have a very strong case at this point involving the murder charge.

So we felt it was appropriate at this point. But again, we hope and pray that there might be some chance that Danielle might be alive.

BROWN: And just to follow-up on this briefly. The kind of evidence that -- I mean, there are some obviously things you don't get when you don't have a victim. You don't have a precise cause of death. But there's also a lot of physical evidence that you may get -- evidence transferred from the perpetrator to the victim, or the other way around. And you missed out on that, too. And those are just part of the problems, right?

BEJARANO: Correct. Any time you have a crime -- obviously a crime involving a person, again, not referring to the van Dam case, but any type of crime involving violence or, again, a contact involving individuals, tremendous amount of potential for evidence whether it's fibers or hair, fluids, blood traces.

And again, with the advancement of DNA, again, it's really difficult when you have that positive match to argue that you don't have the appropriate suspect.

BROWN: Chief, thank you. We were both of us walking a fine line here. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us tonight.

BEJARANO: Well, thank you and good evening.

BROWN: Thank you sir. Good luck to you.

Before we go to break here, one more quick note out of the courtroom -- this case, Andrea Yates. A psychologist for the defense took the witness stand today. He said Yates suffered from schizophrenia that only got worse when she stopped taking the anti- psychotic medication she was on. She stopped two weeks before she drowned her five children.

He based the diagnosis on her medical history as well as interviews with her three family members -- or with three family members. In other words, he did not interview her.

But earlier today the prosecution cross-examined a psychiatrist who did see Andrea Yates the day after the killing. She worked at the jail. Melissa Ferguson called Yates one of the sickest patients she had ever seen.

Still ahead from us tonight: a Congressman, the corruption charges against him, and the voters who at least once before didn't seem to mind. We'll go to Youngstown, Ohio, coming up next.

And later in the program, much to our collective chagrin, the mystery guest. We'll be right back.


BROWN: It would be easy to see this next story as a farce. The man at the center of it, Ohio Congressman James Traficant, is pretty much known on Capitol Hill as a farcical character. He's disowned by his fellow Democrats for overwhelmingly voting Republican, so it's not exactly clear who disowned who first here.

He spends much of his time making speeches to an empty House chamber about government plots against him, and especially he likes to talk about the IRS, which he refers to as Internal Rectal Service. His words, not ours.

James Traficant is also on trial, corruption charges, and this isn't the first time, the second time in his political career he's faced the bar on charges like this. He's not a lawyer, but he defends himself. And as we said, it reads like a farce, but there's a very serious side to it. For one thing, he keeps getting reelected, and the town he hails from, a once great and noble city, continues to suffer hard times.

We go back to Capitol Hill now and CNN's Kate Snow, who joins us.

Kate, on the congressman. Good evening to you.

SNOW: Oh, good evening, Aaron.

We didn't visit Youngstown, Ohio, his home town, on the greatest day. It was gray, it was raining, and it was really windy, and the city looked even bleaker than it normally does. It's a city that's really trying to pull itself up, trying to clean itself up and get out of a long-running economic depression. It is the city that made Jim Traficant what he is today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) (voice-over): If you're looking for backers of Congressman Jim Traficant, try the Newport Cafe. Traficant used to hold meetings in the back booth.

DOUG BOUSLOUGH, NEWPORT CAFE OWNER: Sitting with him here over the years talking, you know, he's very concerned about the area.

SNOW: Nearly everyone in here was born in Youngstown, just like Traficant.

EDWARD MCFARLAND: He is one of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Maybe you'd put his brain in a teacup, but you can't put his heart in a barn. The guy's got guts.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Morning, congressman.


SNOW: To his supporters, Traficant embodies working class grit. To understand his appeal, you have to know the city's history.

ANNOUNCER: In Youngstown, we make steel. We make steel and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SNOW: Those were the boom years, 25 miles of steel mills lined the Mahoning River. Workers spent wages in mob-run gambling parlors. Downtown was hopping.

Now, downtown is a series of boarded-up storefronts. In the late '70s, the mills went bust.

BILL BINNING, YOUNGSTOWN STATE UNIVERSITY: People felt that the government had let them down, their lives were shattered. And Jim Traficant came along and gave voice to their frustration.

SNOW: As the steel mills went down and Traficant moved up in local politics, the mob became entrenched. It's not ancient history. Just six years ago, Paul Gains was elected county prosecutor, vowing to clean things up. Then came the hit.

PAUL GAINS, MAHONING COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I was shot in the arm, side, and back, but the gun jammed when he went to finish me off. And he panicked and ran out.

SNOW: Violence and paying off politicians has become the norm.

JAMES SEIVERT, RETIRED STEEL WORKER: If you got a traffic ticket, don't worry about it. You've got a DUI, don't worry about it. We'll take care of it. Just bring $1,000 down, and it's washed under the table.

BINNING: There are no more white envelopes in American politics, except in places like this.

SNOW: Envelopes stuffed with cash. Traficant's former adviser testified that's how he delivered a $2,500-a-month kickback from his salary to the congressman. Prosecutors also charge, among other things, Traficant took bribes and told former aides on the congressional payroll to work on his horse farm. Defending himself, Traficant says the trial is a government conspiracy.

(on camera): Traficant's trial is part of a larger effort to clean up this city that's seen better times, part of a crackdown on corruption. Here and throughout Mahoning County, more than 70 people, from a former prosecutor to a former sheriff, local judges, and police officers, have already been convicted.

(voice-over): Business leaders in Youngstown say convicting Traficant would close a chapter.

TOM HUMPHRIES, YOUNGSTOWN/WARREN REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: We do want to see this issue behind us, the community does.

SNOW: Humphries points to the positive, the suburbs are growing. There's a new industrial park. Traficant reminds voters he had a hand in that project. He is, after all, running for reelection.

REP. JIM TRAFICANT (D), OHIO: Look, I'm an independent candidate for Congress if I'm an eligible candidate for Congress.

SNOW: He still has his defenders, but there's a growing chorus against Traficant.

BOB DALOISE: Everybody testifying against him, if they're all lying, there's a lot of liars in there.

SNOW: And there's a new generation in Youngstown that doesn't remember the glory days of steel. For Youngstown to move forward, they wonder if it's time to leave Traficant behind.


A few weeks into the trial, Traficant doesn't seem to be doing so well in the courtroom, that based on attorneys watching this from the outside. They say he's not a trained lawyer, he doesn't really have a coherent defense that he's outlined. The prosecution has brought witness after witness, eight of them so far, testifying that he flagrantly broke the law.

But as the lead prosecutor, Aaron, told me just a few weeks ago before this all started, he's done it before, he's won out against very serious charges. You mentioned he was charged back in the '80s when he was sheriff of taking bribes, and he convinced a jury then that he wasn't taking bribes, he was trying to set up a sting -- Aaron.

BROWN: Kate, two questions in one, one quick one, one, perhaps, a little longer. The case is being tried in Cleveland, or the jurors from Cleveland, that's the quick one. And what's the -- how is he playing this in court, this non lawyer?

SNOW: That's a really good question and an interesting answer to the first one. The judge early on said, Look, we always pick jurors from the Cleveland area, from that county, not from Mahoning County in the valley where he's from. So this time around, he's got a jury from Cleveland. Last time around he had jurors that were from his home town, from his district. And...

BROWN: And histrionics in the court?

SNOW: Yes, the drama in the courtroom is absolutely impressive. In fact, they don't let cameras in because it's a federal courtroom, but my producer was saying that he spent Thursday, last Thursday, in the courtroom, he would have liked to stay all day long because it was so entertaining.

Traficant often interrupts the witnesses, he acts as if he's their friend because he knows them all so well. He sometimes speaks about himself in the third person. He'll say, Did the congressman ask you to do something? as if he's the lawyer for the congressman. He uses very colorful language, as you might expect.

The judge is starting to get a little fed up with all this. In fact, today she reprimanded him again for trying to enter hearsay. She also complained to him today that he was talking about his record in Congress, and that doesn't pertain to the case.

At one point Traficant called one of her orders "asinine," so she's -- there's not a lot of love lost between the two of them. And that's just the way it goes in this courtroom. We'll see what happens in the end, Aaron.

BROWN: Yes, we will. Thank you very much. Kate Snow on Capitol Hill tonight. Thank you.

Something completely different when we come back. We go back to Afghanistan, and we make mulidah. We'll be right back.


BROWN: We want to take you to Afghanistan now to show you a ceremony that, if legend is true, at least, only one man has ever seen before.

During the Taliban, it was perhaps the only refuge the women had, the only chance to shake loose from the solitary confinement of their burqas.

Today, many women in Afghanistan still wear the burqas and still lead traditional lives, and this is very much in keeping with their tradition. But it's the side that we didn't imagine could exist. It's something joyful.

It's called making mulidah. It involves baking a secret cookie and making a wish -- something between a Betty Crocker cook-off and a slumber party.

CNN's Rose Arce got a very rare invitation.


ROSE ARCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They look almost like ladies of leisure coming to call. But for Afghan women, this is a day like no other.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: All of the girls should be come in this party and have a lot of jokes.

ARCE: The only day in a woman's life when she can enjoy the company of other women without the constant supervision of men. So sacred a ritual, it begins with a prayer. The heads go covered one by one, candles are lit and stuck in tiny cups of sand, sitting beside the steaming cups of tea.

An ancient custom, we're offered a rare glimpse with our tiny camera if we promise to play by the rules.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (through interpreter): It's an occasion to celebrate happiness and prosperity, where we can gather as women and make secret wishes for our dreams to come true.

ARCE: Dreams and outright fantasies, politics, and fun, gossip without the husbands and kids, and secrets, lots of secrets -- like the one about the secret cake, mulidah, for which the party is named, which men are never supposed to see and we were forbidden to show.

(on camera): There's a story that once a man was so curious to see this mulidah that he burst into a room of women while they were having the ritual. Days later, the story says, he went blind.

(voice-over): Oh, but to be without the men for a few short hours, if only to curse the burqa and shake your hips. It's not easy to follow those moves and not lose your veil.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: During the Taliban, we'd get together to make mulidah, and we all knew we were wishing for peace and security. And look, it really worked! Now the situation is getting better, and maybe we'll even be able one day to throw the burqa away.

ARCE: The men aren't so big on the whole ceremony. They get kicked into the kitchen to watch TV.

While the women, if only for a few idle hours, get to dance their fears away.

Rose Arce, CNN, Kabul.


BROWN: That's cool.

This isn't. Up next, the mystery guest.


BROWN: OK, now for the first time since that little moment that actually had my own sister doubling over with embarrassment -- that's the truth -- the moment when the Hopkins High School Cheerleaders appeared with us in St. Paul, it's time for the mystery guest. For those of you new to the program, or those of you who showed the consummate disloyalty by watching the Olympic Games, here again is the drill.

The staff picks a guest and doesn't tell me who it is. This is what we call a love-hate idea. You either love it or you hate it. Lukewarm has not come up in all these months. It is absolutely on the up-and-up. I have no idea who's going to walk through the door. that's everything I've written. They will now roll the prompter, and I will introduce the next guest.

A guest who won't be a mystery to most of you. He's a two-time gold medal winner, and for a decade a commentator on the sport of figure skating. This is a great idea.

Dick Button, welcome to NEWSNIGHT.

This is a great -- It's nice to see you.


BROWN: What a wonderful idea. Thank you. Come sit, join us. You got a microphone on?

BUTTON: I do indeed.

BROWN: Perfect. Oh, there it is.

BUTTON: I hope I do.

BROWN: What did you think of -- Let me do this in reverse order. Tell me how you saw Sarah Hughes.

BUTTON: I thought she was wonderful. I will tell you right off the bat, and that is that the U.S. team, the ladies team this year, was the best three ladies that I have...

BROWN: This is Michelle Kwan, Sasha Cohn (ph), and Sarah Hughes.

BUTTON: Cohn and Sarah Hughes. And they were the best team...

BROWN: Is that right?

BUTTON: ... that I have seen in the last half century.

BROWN: You know, it's -- that's interesting. I don't know that I ever think of them as a team. We tend to focus on one of them, often, or maybe two of them. But the three of them were terrific.

BUTTON: They were sensational. I mean, the quality of skating there is probably the best you have seen in a long, long time.

BROWN: Is there now a gap between how the women perform in the international stage and how the American men perform in the international stage?

BUTTON: No, I don't think so at all. There's been a very strong Russian pair, a Russian group of men for a long period of time, for the last 10 years. But we have some very strong American skaters. Timothy Gable (ph) is wonderful. I mean, watch the revolution that he does in the air in those quadruple jumps. They're absolutely spectacular. And I think he's going to make a very strong impression by the time we get to 2006, if one can even start thinking about 2006 at this stage of the game.

BROWN: How old are these kids when people like you know that they're special?

BUTTON: Well, I think -- number one, you know that they're special at a very early age.

BROWN: I mean, are they 8, 7, 5?

BUTTON: Look, I remember Janet Lynn (ph) at a very early age, when she was just spectacular at 12. You can tell that they're special at that age. The trick of it is, do they grow out of that special quality...


BUTTON: ... or do they remit (ph) it? You know, it's very easy to (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

BROWN: You mean, physically grow out of it, or...

BUTTON: No, no, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) quality of skating.

BROWN: ... just in total?

BUTTON: You can play the Minute Waltz in a minute when you're 8 and everybody says, Isn't that marvelous? The problem and the trick to it is to play the Minute Waltz in a minute beautifully when you're 18, and that's quite a different. When the body matures and the skaters grow older, it's -- I mean, it takes a maturing process. It's not just another little whipper snapper flitting across the ice.

BROWN: This is sort of obvious, but do you think the sport has been badly hurt by the judging fiasco, if that's the right word?

BUTTON: Let me tell you that the majority of time the best skater does win. There are hundreds of judges out there who have worked exceedingly hard, who have done their homework, who keep up to date, who are spectacular judges. And they should not be mis -- you know...

BROWN: Maligned.

BUTTON: Maligned, thank you, for this particular occasion. We have known that there have been -- has been nationalism and bloc judging for a half a century it's been there, in fact, since 1908 was the first time that I have read about. The problem comes in when you have several skaters that are very close -- one or more skaters, two skaters, at least, that are very close together, and from different countries. Then nationalism rears its ugly head. And the worst part of that is when it becomes bloc judging.

BROWN: Yes. And so now you have to answer the question, has the sport been badly damaged?

BUTTON: I -- look, I think it's been insulted, and I think it has been damaged to a certain degree. But it's going to survive, it always has. There's been nothing but complaints about the sport -- the judging of the sport of figure skating since I was 13 years old. And you know how long ago that was.

BROWN: It's just not that long ago. What year did you compete?



BUTTON: In the Olympics?


BUTTON: Nineteen forty-eight and 1952.

BROWN: And...

BUTTON: But I don't -- try not to count those years.

BROWN: I know, we all try not to remember those years. There you are. Amazing how we did, though.

The men are now doing quadruples, jumps, right, or...

BUTTON: Right.

BROWN: What were you doing then, doubles?

BUTTON: We did doubles. I was the first to do a triple jump, which happened to have been a triple loop. And it was sort of big news because here came a triple jump. It was big news when it was a double jump. I was also the first to do a flying camel and the first man to do -- or one of the first men to do a camel spin.

BROWN: Do you know when that year is, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

BUTTON: This is 1952, when it was held at out -- outdoors.


BUTTON: And it was -- I would hate to have to sit down and narrate my performance today watching it (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

BROWN: Can I tell you something? There's no question here. But you're saying that you'd hate to have to narrate it. I -- and this is no knock at all on any of the guys at NBC or the women, who did a terrific job.

There is nothing to me like listening to you call one of those moments. The enthusiasm in your voice, the obvious technical knowledge you have, I mean, that goes without saying. You are, in that sense, priceless. Did you miss it?

BUTTON: Miss what, narrating the...

BROWN: Miss doing the Olympic Games?

BUTTON: Do you know, there's something very strange. I loved being there and watching it when I didn't have to work at what I was going to be seeing or what I was going to say, when I didn't have to listen to the director in one ear and the monitor in the other hand, and to keep abreast of what -- I could just sit back and enjoy it, and the end result was that I got a wonderful feeling and understanding of the comparisons between the different skaters, something that was really probably more intelligent and more -- and better breadth of ideas by just sitting there and watching it.

I loved it. I had the best time (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BROWN: Did you? Well, I can't tell you what a joy it is to see you again. We actually met a number of years ago in Detroit in a very difficult moment for skating also.


BROWN: It's nice to see you, sir.

BUTTON: Thank you.

BROWN: Dick Button, who joins us tonight. Thank you.

Segment Seven when we come back.


BROWN: OK, I felt like I did a 5.6 on the interview, maybe 5.8.

The Grammys are this week. What you won't see is the story of one nominee who was making popular music before there was such a term. He is Cuban. His name is Compai (ph) Segundo, and he is nominated this year for the best traditional tropical Latin album, an accomplishment for anyone, pretty impressive for Mr. Segundo, who is, after all, 94.

Here's CNN's Lucia Newman.


LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): At age 94, singer, musician, and songwriter Compai Segundo believes he's old enough to give younger generations some advice. COMPAI SEGUNDO, MUSICIAN (through interpreter): Don't make love when you're drunk, mate, because the mistakes of the elders are paid by the youngsters. What do you think of that?

NEWMAN: That's the theme of his latest song, which, like most of Compai Segundo's compositions, has a moral. Such is the case of "Flores de la Vida," or "Flowers of Life," the title song of his latest CD, nominated for a Grammy in the category of traditional tropical music.

(audio interrupt) Compai's astronomical rise to fame, the sound track of "Buenavista Social Club," this is his first Grammy nomination, an honor, he says, that both he and his music deserve.

SEGUNDO: I am an old musician, the oldest in Cuba, indeed, in the world. In the world, there's no one 94 years old who is still playing. They can't any more. Yet I'm still playing and singing at age 94. That's a special power.

NEWMAN: If modesty is not one of his traits, perhaps it's because he's come so far. Compai, whose real name is Francisco Repilado (ph), was a poor farmer's son when he discovered his love for music, especially the guitar, at age 7. By the time he was 17, he invented his trademark guitar, the Harmonico (ph).

SEGUNDO: I noticed that between the Cuban three and the guitar, there were some voids in harmony, so I conceived of this instrument, which has a relation to the guitar, but it's tuned differently.

NEWMAN: Compai, who also studied classical music, has been playing the Harmonico ever since, although for many years he had to make a living making cigars -- cigars still a favorite indulgence.

But it's music that really keeps him going, along with a little secret, he says, for staying young.

SEGUNDO: One shouldn't eat too much, and one must never let oneself get bored, especially of love.

NEWMAN: Two of his sons, who play in the group, have inherited his love for music. For them and others, Compai has advice.

SEGUNDO: What I say is, don't lose the tradition. Practice the guitar well, the way Cindo (ph) and Pepe Bandera did. That's tradition, and that's what I keep alive, because I knew all of the great players, and I'm still alive and wiggling.

NEWMAN: Don't you get tired?

SEGUNDO: No, I can't get tired, I'm still needed.

NEWMAN: Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.


BROWN: That was terrific. We'll see you at 10:00. Good night.


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