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Rice Abroad; Actor Ossie Davis Dies; Crisis in the Priesthood; Info or Influence?

Aired February 4, 2005 - 13:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Diplomacy can work, says America's new secretary of state. But it's not the only option if Iran continues to snub global protocols on nuclear research. Iran and its troubled neighbor to the west are hot-button issues on Condoleezza Rice's first trip abroad as the Bush administration's top diplomat. Covering her brief visit to London is CNN's European political editor Robin Oakley.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OAKLEY (voice-over): The choice of first stop on a seven-capital tour of Europe was deliberate. The U.S. said Condoleezza Rice has no better friend than Britain. But after the diplomatic niceties, it was Iran which was the focus of strong words.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have all been concerned about the abysmal human rights record of the Iranian regime.

OAKLEY: And that was just for starters.

RICE: Iran engages in activities that are destabilizing to the region in which it lives, particularly when it comes to support for terrorism.

OAKLEY: Dr. Rice accused the Iranians of undermining democratic efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But above all, she insisted...

RICE: Iran should not use the cover of civilian nuclear power development, an opportunity granted to it by NPT membership, to sustain a program that could lead to a nuclear weapon.

OAKLEY: So then came the key question for European allies. Did all this tough talk mean that the U.S. might consider an attack on Iran?

RICE: The question is simply not on the agenda at this point in time. You know, we have diplomatic means to do this.

OAKLEY: And Iran, she said, would be influenced by seeing Iraqis and Afghans voting in free elections. From her British hosts, who are working with France and Germany to persuade the Iranians not to pursue nuclear arms, a denial that fierce words from the U.S. were hindering their efforts.

JACK STRAW, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: The efforts of the E3, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in respect to Iran, to the extent that they have worked so far, have only worked because we've been backed by an international consensus. And absolutely fundamental to that international consensus has been the support that we have received in the IAEA board, and in many other ways from the United States.

OAKLEY (on camera): Condoleezza Rice's forthright words on Iran left analysts in no doubt of the continuing muscularity of U.S. foreign policy in President George Bush's second term. But if that's making some European diplomats nervous, they were heartened, too, by her pledge of an enduring and active transatlantic partnership, and by her promise to sustain the momentum of the Middle East peace process.

Robin Oakley, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And from London, Rice was off to Berlin, a partner in the European effort on Iran, a long-standing adversary of the U.S. and British stance on Iraq. On that front, a thaw is in the air. Past disagreements dismissed as history. On Iran, the German chancellor notes that he and Rice are very much in agreement. President Bush visits Germany later this month.

Today, though, he is in the heartland, and the subject is Social Security. It's day two of the president's post-State of the Union road trip aimed at selling future retirees and their Democratic senators on the notion of private retirement accounts.

As you may have heard, Mr. Bush says private investments can take some of the load off of a teetering program, but many Democrats, some Republicans and the AARP disagree. So far today, Mr. Bush has hit Omaha, Nebraska, and Little Rock, Arkansas. Next and final stop Tampa, Florida, about two-and-a-half hours from now.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Arts and humanity. For as long as most Americans can remember, Ossie Davis was the living, breathing, writing, acting, directing, crusading embodiment of both. Today, generations of fans and admirers are shocked to hear that at 87 years old, Ossie Davis is dead.

CNN's Sibila Vargas joins us now from L.A. with the story of what many will consider a great loss -- Sibila.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Betty. Very sad news. Ossie Davis passed away in Miami where he was working on his latest film, a comedy titled "Retirement," costarring Peter Falk, Rip Torn and George Segal. He was 87 years old.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS (voice-over): In December, the veteran actor Ossie Davis arrived in Washington to receive the prestigious Kennedy Center honor.

RUBY DEE, ACTRESS: It's indescribable. Right now, it's all kind of sinking into us. And it's a good feeling, you know, that one of the nation's highest awards -- and to be granted that, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I'm going to thing about something that's going to... OSSIE DAVIS, ACTOR: That's a weak sound bite. You can do better.

VARGAS: At his side for more than 50 years was his wife Ruby Dee. A quick stint in the United States Army was followed by a move to New York City. Ossie headed straight to the stage. In the '40s, critics called him the most promising young star, and it was during this time that he met his longtime companion.

DAVIS: I allowed myself to say "yes" to Ruby's proposal of marriage.

VARGAS: The oldest of five children, he was born in the racist South. It was this era of inequalities that fueled him to write. Davis once said he considered himself a playwright before an actor. He was also a long-standing political activist.

He was a large presence during the civil rights movement, delivering a moving eulogy at the funeral of slain civil rights leader Malcolm X, which he repeated in Spike Lee's 1992 biopic.

DAVIS: And the voice to a people who longed to be heard.

VARGAS: His strong activism influenced a succession of movie roles such as "School Days," "Get on the Bus," and "Jungle Fever."

DAVIS: ... the sweet nectar of another woman's fruit. The devil is always at work.

VARGAS: Davis often tapped into his comic side with roles in "Grumpy Old Men" and Dr. Doolittle." He was an Emmy-award-winning actor on the small screen and had a recurring role on the comedy "Evening Shade."

DAVIS: Cynthia says that I am a piece of Americana. People are going to pay money to come and watch me fish.

VARGAS: Davis was busy working on his latest film, "Retirement," in Miami when he passed away. From stage to screen, Ossie Davis inspired a generation of black children.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: An inspiration, indeed. Ossie Davis is survived by his wife of 56 years, Ruby Dee, and three children -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Sibila, do we have any idea of how he died?

VARGAS: No. We haven't heard how he died yet. But we do know that he was found this morning by his grandson. Shooting on the movie that he was just in began just three days ago -- Betty.

NGUYEN: We're seeing video of that right now. All right. Sibila Vargas, thank you for that report. What a sad day. Thank you -- Tony.

HARRIS: In Florida, police describe it as a real life house of horrors. A couple is accused of torturing five of seven children in their home, including pulling out their toenails with pliers and starving them. A search is under way for John Dollar and his wife Linda, who failed to show up at a hearing Monday.

They are wanted on felony charges of aggravated child abuse. All of the children were removed from the home north of Tampa last week. Police say some of them were so malnourished they looked like concentration camp prisoners. One 14-year-old boy raised 36 pounds. Police say the Dollars were the children's legal guardians but not their biological parents.

NGUYEN: It's day two of jury deliberations in the trial of a defrocked priest accused of child rape. Now, the case of the he said- she said hinges on whether jurors believe the accuser, who says he buried memories of the abuse for two decades.

CNN's Jason Bellini reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK MONDANO, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This case is, after all, about two things, old memories and really, really old memories.

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the beginning, the defense zeroed in on the big question for the jury: is it possible to repress memories of sexual abuse for some 20 years, memories the accuser found difficult to talk about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every time I come back, I have to start over. I can't speak for years.

BELLINI: The prosecutor says it all came rushing back during a phone call three years ago.

LYNN ROONEY, PROSECUTOR: He is crying, he is sobbing, he hangs up the phone. He will tell you he started to remember being touched by the defendant. He remembered things in the bathroom, in the church.

BELLINI: Defrocked priest Paul Shanley, who turned 74 on the first day of the trial, sat quietly listening with the help of a hearing aid. The alleged rape victim, whose photo could not be shown, tearfully testified about what happened to him in church when he was taken out of religious class as 6 years old.

ROONEY: And what would happen when you finished putting the pamphlets in the pews?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we were done, we'd sit in front and he would put his right arm around me. I always sat on his right, and he put his arm around me and he'd start touching me with his left hand.

BELLINI: The defense presented only one witness, a University of California psychologist who questioned the validity of repressed memories.

DR. ELIZABETH LOFTUS, UNIV. OF CALIF. PSYCHOLOGIST: And so most people think these are false memories, but the individuals who hold these beliefs hold them with a great deal of detail and emotion.

BELLINI: Prosecutor Lynne Rooney says the pain felt by the accuser, now a 27-year-old firefighter in a Boston suburb, was evident and real.

ROONEY: He came in here and he told you what happened because that man, that defendant, that priest raped him and molested him when he was a little boy over and over again.

BELLINI: Defense attorney Frank Mondano says the evidence doesn't add up.

MONDANO: This isn't a case of reasonable doubt. This is a case of massive doubt on the evidence in this case.

BELLINI: The jury must decide on two counts of rape of a child and two counts of indecent assault. If convicted on all counts, the defendant faces up to life in prison.

Jason Bellini, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Also at this hour, no one can find a plane with 104 people onboard. Last contact was during a snowstorm near Kabul. That story is next.

HARRIS: Pentagon propaganda or just reporting the news? Some new military Web sites are raising eyebrows.

NGUYEN: And later, never doubt a nun. Sister Jean Kinney (ph) joins us live with her prediction of this year's Super Bowl winner.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Well, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's future seemed uncertain after last year's election. There was speculation he might not have a job in the second Bush administration. But the president asked him to stay for another term.

Now there is word Rumsfeld could have been out much sooner. On CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" last night Rumsfeld said he repeatedly offered to step down at the height of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal last spring.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I submitted my resignation to President Bush twice during that period and told him that I felt that he ought to make the decision as to whether or not I stayed on. And he made that decision and said he did want me to stay on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Well, a U.S. Army sergeant is the latest soldier to admit abusing Iraqi detainee at Abu Ghraib prison. Five others have pleaded guilty in the scandal. Two soldiers still face trial. Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader of the abuse, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

NGUYEN: The U.S. military has a far-reaching presence on the Internet, but you may not know it, nor likely does its target audience. And that is sparking a debate. And is the goal to provide information, or is it to exert influence? Well, CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has that part of the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Interested in finding out the latest political development in North Africa? Log on to this Web site. Looking for the latest on the Balkans? Log on to SouthEastTimes.

But who owns and runs these? News organizations? The disclaimer, when you find it, sponsored by the United States Department of Defense.

The Web is now the pentagon's latest weapon. News sites run by U.S. military troops trained in information warfare a specialty that can include deception. The Pentagon says the sites only carry truthful news from organizations, including The Associated Press and CNN.

LARRY DI RITA, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: Our principles are truth and transparency.

STARR: Journalism experts see it another way.

TOM ROSENSTIEL, PROJECT FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM: The government is deceiving people. They may technically suggest that they're not because that disclaimer is there, but you need to be looking for that disclaimer.

STARR: A military official tells CNN these sites target only specific foreign audiences with objectives, including countering disinformation. Several military officers told CNN that using the media to build influence shouldn't be their job, it's better left to the State Department. Military personnel also are worried they may be violating President Bush's directive.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not be paying, you know, commentators to advance our agenda.

STARR: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz had ordered hiring only journalists and contributors who will not reflect discredit on the U.S. More than 50 writers have been hired to produce articles matching the military agenda. Initially, the Pentagon told CNN there is no problem. Now spokesman Di Rita has asked the inspector general for an audit of all Pentagon hiring of reporters to make sure. DI RITA: I have asked that in the department that we review with that specific issue in mind to make sure that we're staying well within the lines.

STARR: Still, the question of using the military.

ROSENSTIEL: Any time that the government has to assure you, "Believe me, take my word for it, I'm telling you nothing but the truth," you know, you should be worried.

STARR (on camera): These sites can be viewed not just abroad, but here in the U.S. And the U.S. military is prohibited from conducting influence operations inside the country, raising the concern amongst some here that the Web sites could be inappropriate.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: CNN correspondent Jeanne Meserve is following the story of two Delta flights and, quoting now, "problems." Jeanne covers homeland security issues for us.

Jeanne, what can you tell us?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tony, two Delta flights that they were worried about are on the ground at JFK Airport in New York. And everything is fine, that is the headline.

According to a TSA official, there was a phoned in threat that hijackers might be aboard Delta Flight number 119. That's a flight that originated in Bombay, Italy -- excuse me, Bombay, India. It went to Paris and then was coming on to JFK.

There was also some sort of unspecified warning about a second Delta flight. That was Delta Flight number 81 that was coming from Amsterdam to JFK.

Both have landed. One of those flights was taken to a secure area in the airport, a remote area. But the cockpit was secure, nothing was found on that flight. Nothing unusual on Flight 81 either, and so both were taken into the gate. I spoke to an official for the Port Authority of New York who said nothing has happened.

As to why this generated the immense concern that it did, it's a little unclear at this point in time. The spokesman for the Port Authority told me that he heard something like six different renditions of what was happening in those airplanes and on the tarmac. And at this point in time, they don't have the whole thing straightened out.

But the bottom line is this: there was apparently a phoned-in threat of hijackers on one of those flights, but both of those flights are down, the planes are fine. The passengers are absolutely fine -- Tony.

HARRIS: OK. I'm sure you'll continue to follow this story and bring us more updates. Thanks, Jeanne. We appreciate it.

Of course you should stay tuned to CNN for the latest on your security.

Well, he didn't know if he would make it out alive, so he wrote a message to his family in blood. It's one of the amazing survival stories from last week's train crash in California.

NGUYEN: And the Eagles and Patriots aren't the only ones in training for Sunday's Super Bowl. A look at state-of-the-art security in play for the big game.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm David Haffenreffer at the New York Stock Exchange. Coming up, new audiotapes reveal what bankrupt energy trader Enron did to hike up energy prices. We'll have details coming up on LIVE FROM.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: New audiotapes show bankrupt energy trader Enron was planing to manipulate the power market as early as 1998.

HARRIS: David Hafenreffer joins us from the New York Stock Exchange with that story.

Hi, David.

HAFFENREFFER: Hi, Tony. Hi, Betty.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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