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Women and War; Dying for the Truth

Aired October 6, 2006 - 14:00:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: CNN Headlines this hour. The U.N. Security Council has approved a statement, calling on North Korea to cancel its plans for a nuclear weapons test. The statement warned that a nuclear test would lead to further Security Council action.
BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: The Security Council urges the DPRK to return immediately to the six party talks without precondition and to work towards the expeditious implementation of the 19 September, 2005 joint statement. And in particular, to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pyongyang is not known to have ever tested a nuclear weapon.

A U.S. Navy Corps man accused of the kidnapping and murder of Iraqi civilian Hashi Ibrahim Awad has pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy and of perjury. Petty Officer Melson Baklos (ph) was a medic on patrol with seven Marines last April when the murder took place. Baklos (ph) still faces murder charges.

The leader of the British House of Commons has made a suggestion that has angered some in the Muslim community. Jack Straw says Muslim women in the U.K. should think twice about wearing a veil. He says veils make community relations more difficult because they act as "a visible statement of separation."

The U.S. and the E.U. have agreed to share details on passengers on transatlantic flights. If requested, airlines will provide information to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including passengers' names, addresses, and credit card details - all part of anti-terrorism efforts.

Hungary's beleaguered prime minister on Friday won a vote of confidence. Still, thousands gathered outside of Parliament, demanding his dismissal. Last month, Ferez Gorchon (ph) was heard on a leaked report admitting he lied about the economy to win April's general election.

That's a check of the headlines. I'm Ralitsa Vassiley, Innternational Correspondents is straight ahead.

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Fionnuala Sweeney. Welcome to CNN's INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS. Today, coming to you from the Frontline Club in London, a media hub for many journalists from around the world.

Coming up on this week's program, women and war. We speak to two of the world's top female foreign correspondents about how they balance their work and home life.

Plus, dying for the truth. An inquiry into the death of two British journalists.

But first, why did the U.S. president wage war in Iraq? And has he been really honest about what's going on there? That's a no according to veteran journalist Bob Woodward, who's just published another explosive new book called "State of Denial."

In it, he says that there are things the Bush administration doesn't want you to know. CNN's Kathleen Koch reports.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Woodward book has the White House playing offense.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The books are like cotton candy. It kind of melts on contact.

KOCH: But in dismissals followed Saturday by a detailed rebuttal of claims the president concealed deteriorating conditions in Iraq and ignored early requests for more troops.

But the White House has less to say about the revelation that CIA Director George Tenet and his counterterrorism chief Kofer (ph) Black two months before 9/11 requested an emergency meeting with Condoleezza Rice to sound the alarm that intelligence showed al Qaeda would soon attack the United States. The book claims Rice was "polite, but they felt the brush- off."

DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: We're puzzled by this. No one has seen these type of quotes before. Each of these participants went before the commission and testified. So Condoleezza's scratching her head because we don't believe that's an accurate account.

KOCH: Democrats want answers about whether the meeting occurred. And if so, why the 9/11 Commission and the rest of the country were never told about it?

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), U.S. SENATOR: They were obliged to tell the 9/11 Commission when they were investigating of all relevant meetings that took place relevant to the attack on 9/11. This sure sounds relevant to me why did they not do that.

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: I find that stunning. And I think that is as close to a smoking gun as you get.

KOCH: In a "60 Minutes" interview, Bob Woodward defended his reporting on the inner workings of the Bush administration saying, "They're documented. I talked to the people who were's not just kind of right, but literally right. This is what occurred."

There has already been debate over what impact the book's Iraq revelations will have on voters in the coming midterm elections.

SEN. MIKE DEWINE (R), U.S. SENATOR: Voters fully understand mistakes have been made. So I don't know that this book is going to influence their attitude at all.

KOCH: But the possible concealment of an early warning about the 9/11 attacks could be more damaging.


SWEENEY: CNN's Kathleen Koch reporting there.

Well, some figures have come forward to dispute Woodward's scathing story. A long time journalist you may remember exposed the Watergate scandal back in the 1970s.

Well, earlier, I spoke to The Washington Post journalist and asked Bob Woodward if he was aware of just how explosive his book was going to be.


BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "STATE OF DENIAL": I did not, but I was working on it for 2.5 years and discovered that there are all kinds of secret reports and warnings that came to the White House and the Pentagon and elsewhere about escalating violence in Iraq, and troubled, their insurgency almost out of control. And it contrasts what's in these secret reports quite sharply with what the president and others have said, where they say oh, the terrorists are in retreat, or we are turning a corner. The secret reports contradict that.

SWEENEY: You're one of very few journalists in the United States to really follow through from the claims made before the war by the Bush administration to the lack of evidence thereafter. Why do you think that news organizations or individual journalists have been reluctant to follow through on this?

WOODWARD: Oh, I think the news organizations have followed through on it. And I think it's something, and I speak about myself first, I should have been much more aggressive in looking at the weapons of mass destruction allegations in Iraq. I believe that's what you're asking about.

SWEENEY: OK, let me read you a quote - we're going to play a quick quote from Tony Snow at the White House, who's basically dismissing your work as inaccurate and "old news." Let's listen in.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: You got a lot of juicy gossip in the book. And people will have all the time they want to go through it.

But the fundamental question about whether the president is "in denial," flat wrong. Absolutely wrong.

SWEENEY: Tony Snow there. Let me ask you, I mean there are those in the Republican side recently who really held you very close to their hearts in recent years. And you'd sort of been.

WOODWARD: I'm not sure of that.

SWEENEY: .dismissed by the Democrats. Well, certainly, it does seem to have changed now. I mean, how do you feel to a certain degree? One commentator quoting here that Republicans will reject you for this book. But for Democrats, you'll becoming home?

WOODWARD: Well, I'm a journalist and try to stick to the facts, and don't take political sides. And sometimes the facts go one way. And sometimes they go the other. Even the Democrats praised President Bush for his response initially to 9/11, after the terrorist attacks.

The 3.5 year Iraq War has been surprising and shocking to people in this country. And in the book, I show that many of the major players, including Don Rumsfeld himself in a secret memo, May 1st of 2006 said the system of government we have is so bad, that the structure just doesn't work, that it's almost impossible to be competent.

So you find that many of the intelligence people, some of the key aides to Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, sending memos and information to her. For instance, last year, that Iraq is a failed state.

SWEENEY: One final question. What do you make of criticism that people are going to use your book - it'll be used by those in the U.S. who want America to fail in Iraq? And do you believe that President Bush should say that the war has been a debacle to date?

WOODWARD: I'm just sticking with the 3.5 years. There is a state of denial on this. I think it's proven in the book. How people use it or don't use it is entirely up to them. It's what Carl Bernstein and I during the Watergate investigation used to call "the best obtainable version of the truth."

And this is my effort. And it's documented. And the incidents are very specific. And the people are named. And the people who are named are not political opponents of the president, but people who work closely or for him, or used to.


SWEENEY: Up next on INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS, bullets and babies, women and work. After the break, I speak to two of the top female war correspondents in the business.


SWEENEY: Welcome back. Juggling a job and children isn't easy, but it's particularly difficult when you're a female journalist traveling to war zones, often for extended periods of time.

Well, to discuss this further, I'm joined by two female journalists who know all too well about this. Elizabeth Palmer from CBS News and Janine di Giovanni of "The Times of London."

My first question is to Janine. Is it harder to be a woman journalist than it is to be a male journalist out there in the war zone?

JANINE DI GIOVANNI, THE TIMES OF LONDON: Three years ago, I would have sat here and argued with you that there's absolutely no distinction between me and women, that there's just good reporters, bad reporters.

But having had my first child quite late in life, I realize there's a huge difference. And that is that if women want to have children, they have to make this gigantic sacrifice in the sense because it's very, very difficult to do both. And I think men can manage it much better than women can.

SWEENEY: So if you hadn't been a mother, you would have made the arguments that men and women can do pretty much the same thing as much as they like in the field.

GIOVANNI: I made that argument all the time. I would argue it and just say, you know, absolutely not. And people would say to me, but what about physically? You know, aren't men stronger? Can't they hike for longer? Or can't they last longer with rebel armies in the bush?

And I would say absolutely not. I can do anything they can.

And then I got pregnant. And it really - I remember going to Baghdad when my son was about five months old. And that's when it really hit me that biologically, we are different. And emotionally, we are different. And I think child birth does set you apart from male correspondents.

SWEENEY: Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH PALMER, CBS NEWS: I don't agree. I never like to generalize about gender. I can tell you that when I had my children, I was very glad of the space to get away from them, even when they were infants for a while. And if it meant going to a war, fine.

We've lived sort of the mirror image of the traditional couple, where - because I travel a lot and still go to a lot of conflict zones, my husband chooses to stay home some years. He's a teacher by profession. And years - when I'm traveling a lot, he's Mr. Mom.

I think that I won't generalize about either gender. What I will say is that it's important for kids to have routine and a stable home. And that - we've made that our priority.

And I've chosen to keep going to cover wars, because it's what I love.

SWEENEY: And what about the danger factor, though, the fact that God forbid something might happen to you and your children could be deprived of you in some.

PALMER: Well, I don't think that's equal concern for men. And I think they're - some of my male colleagues have a harder time being away from their kids, frankly, than I do.

And every family's different. A parent missing is a parent missing of either gender. I have to say that I have thought a lot more about it. And I really have my own confidence shaken in, probably my kids' confidence is shaken, although they haven't spoken about it, when two of my colleagues died in Baghdad this spring.

And that really shattered the illusion for once and for all that it will never happen to me. You know what? It could happen to any one of us. And it is a sobering fact for anybody with kids of either gender.

SWEENEY: And this is the fact that you have children, and you have a child, but that has brought home to you more radically, because it wasn't just about you?

PALMER: Very much so.

SWEENEY: Janine, what do you think about that?

GIOVANNI: I think my experience was probably different than Elizabeth's in that I became a mother very late in life. I spent nearly 16 years reporting war and conflict. And because I am a print journalist, I work alone. So I was in Grozny when it fell. I was with KLA soldiers in Kosovo for weeks getting bombed. I was with colleagues in Sierra Leone when they were killed.

And I think what happened to me was at a certain point, I just realized I was getting very burnt out. But also, I was going to miss out on something unless I sat back and had more time for myself. And that meant, you know, having a relationship, having a family.

And once I did, I just felt that I would have neglected them, and in a sense my own pleasure, by leaving for six months the way I had before to go to Africa, or to go to Chechnya, or East Timor or whatever. So.

SWEENEY: How do you manage it now? I mean, can you pretty much call your own shots when you decide you want to travel?

GIOVANNI: Yes. I mean, I think one of the great things about age is that you do get a certain power, which is you're more established, and you can pick and choose your assignments.

But I definitely work in a much different way. I mean, where I used to have to the luxury of spending weeks or months on a single story, I now go. I get off the plane. I go right to work. I don't linger. I don't have lunches or dinner with friends. And I just work, work, work, and then get back on the plane.

But my son is very small. He's two years old. I mean, I think if - when he's a teenager, it might be different. But right now, I want to be with him as much as possible.

SWEENEY: Were you based in one place when your children were very small? Or were you traveling constantly?

PALMER: We've always been based out of different foreign bureaus. And I've taken the family with me each time. But once established in a new city, we were in Mexico City for a long time and in Moscow for a long time, then I traveled from there.

So my kids are used to me traveling around. And I remember in Moscow going to cover - it was Chechnya, I think, where you were, too, Janine. And I remember coming home and my son said, you know, Mom, quite a few of the guys at school have fathers in Chechnya, but I'm the only one with a mother. So had this extra dollop of pride because his mom was on the road.

SWEENEY: As a woman, how do you feel about personal safety issues in some of the areas in which you travel? You know, could be a simple thing like getting a taxi cab on your own. Situations where sometimes female journalists find themselves in that men wouldn't feel at all threatened. Have you ever had any experiences like that? Are you aware a little more careful? Or does it not bother you at all?

PALMER: I suppose I am. Once again, I think that there's - there are circumstances where I feel safer as a woman. And I would say in large parts of the Middle East and in very traditional societies, in a structured environment, women are accorded a lot of deference. And that has meant that many times I felt safer, because I wasn't going to be roughed up. I wasn't going to be assaulted. There was never - I was never going to be the butt of the same kind of aggression as my male colleagues might be.

Equally, yes, I think that in societies where sexual harassment is taken as a given, and where women are objects, yes, I have felt more wary, shall we say, more apt to ask for someone to accompany me.

And a lot of it has to do with being culturally prepared, I think. And a lot of it has to do with having a good gut feeling.

SWEENEY: And also being a television journalist, we tend to travel with crews. There are producers and camera people and audio people and technicians around.

Janine, traveling on your own as a print journalist, it's a very different scenario.

GIOVANNI: It's very different. I mean, I would try to do all the things that you know. Not arrive in the middle of the night in an airport or a city I didn't know. Or try to know the driver who would pick me up.

But there have been times when I've been - when I knew afterwards that I was in great danger. And it's always about being raped, essentially.

I was taken very briefly hostage by Serb para militaries during the war on Kosovo. And I was with two French journalists. And at the time, I didn't even think about getting raped. I just thought they were going to kill us and throw our bodies in the woods.

But in fact, when they released us several hours later, the French journalist said to me they were going to rape you. And there was nothing we could have done to stop them.

And as well in Africa, I've come into several situations. And nothing - I've been very lucky. Nothing's ever happened to me, but traveling alone is very difficult. And what I would usually try to do is try to hook up with other reporters once I got there to share cars, share hotel rooms.

But it's always the initial arriving somewhere, especially a place you don't know, finding a place to stay, finding electricity, finding water.

You've got to rely very heavily on your instincts, which comes from experience.

SWEENEY: Let me ask you another question. I mean, you're very well known for writing human interest stories, looking at war from a human point of view. And there's often been some debate about this and how journalists cover wars.

Do you think being a women has lent you to cover wars from a human aspect, the individual story more than perhaps male colleagues?

GIOVANNI: I don't think I'm a - I write about human interest. I think what interests me personally is the effect war has on society. Because I just, frankly, had absolutely no interest in tanks or RPGs or mines, the various kinds of mines.

What interested me is how people survived, how they lived their daily life. And I can think of plenty of male reporters who have that same kind of interest and write in the same way. Robert Fiske, for example. Hemingway covered the Spanish civil war in that way.

It's - I don't think actually that has anything to do with being a man or a woman. I think it's just how you view a situation.

SWEENEY: Do you ever find going to conflicts that it gets old hat?

PALMER: Not yet.

SWEENEY: I guess we're out of time. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

Well coming up next on INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS, why was Terry Lloyd killed in Iraq? Stay with us for more after the break.


SWEENEY: Welcome back. A friend called Terry Lloyd a "journalist's journalist." He was ITN's longest serving correspondent until he was killed in Iraq doing what he loved, telling the truth.

It has been a three year wait to find out what happened, how it happened, and why it happened.

Julian Rush of Britain's Channel 4 News was at the inquest.


JULIAN RUSH, CHANNEL 4 NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flanked by two of her father's old friends and colleagues, the newscaster (INAUDIBLE) and ITV editor in chief David Manion, Terry Lloyd's daughter Chelsea came to court this morning finally after over three years of delays, able to find out what happened when he was killed in Iraq.

Terry Lloyd was working with his team with what's called a unilateral correspondent. Unlike reporters embedded with British and American troops, able to move independently. He died trying to get to the southern Iraqi city of Basra, following the invading British forces.

But the British, who the court was told, had refused to cooperate in the investigation into this death. Stuart Pervis (ph), then chief executive of ITN, which makes both ITV News and Channel 4 News, saying the military didn't want unilaterals like Terry Lloyd on the battlefield. They wanted to control information, he said. And unilaterals were in breach of that.

(on camera): Mr. Pervis (ph) said he'd come to the conclusion that there must have been some sort of British presence at the scene. He wasn't sure if it was regular or special forces or some sort of electronic surveillance, but it was the reason why so little information was coming from the British.

It wasn't until it emerged that Terry Lloyd's death might be considered as a war crime, and the British were involved, that the situation changed.

(voice-over): Sir Trevor McDonald paid an emotional tribute to Terry Lloyd. The newscaster had identified his friend's body when it was returned to Kuwait. He wiped away tears as he recalled a journalist's journalist, a professional, very experienced, a man with great flare, with a touch with getting on with people.

(on camera): Sir Trevor said he'd had breakfast with Terry Lloyd, his old friend of 20 years just two days before he left to cross the border into Iraq. Terry seemed anxious to get going, he said, in activity that can suit him.

(voice-over): The coroner Andrew Walker repeatedly wanted to know how ITN executives managed the risks of Terry Lloyd's assignment. David Manion, the editor in chief of ITV News, admitted his formal statement made four months after the death had said Mr. Lloyd's task had been to go ahead of British troops to places where Iraqis have been attacked, to find out how they felt.

Mr. Manion told the court that assignment had changed to go in behind the military on grounds of safety, though he couldn't explain why there'd been no record of it. And he'd not said so in his statement.

The inquest continues tomorrow and is expected to last a week.

Julian Rush, Channel 4 News, Oxford Coroner's Court.


SWEENEY: Julian Rush reporting there.

And another British broadcaster is being asked to account for its risk assessment procedures following the death of a journalist in Somalia. In February of last year, the BBC's Kate Payton was killed in Mogadishu. The coroner investigating her death has asked for details of the safety preparations undertaken by the corporation.

And we'll bring you the outcome of both those inquests here on the program.

But that is it for this week's edition of INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS. Stay tuned for another look at how the media are handling the big issues.

I'm Fionnuala Sweeney in London. Thanks for joining us.



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