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CONNECT THE WORLD

U.S. Sends Drone Planes to Libya; McCain Visits Libya; Parents of Detained Journalist Speak Out; Syrian Security Forces Kill 43

Aired April 22, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET

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


RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everybody, I'm Ralitsa Vassileva at the CNN Center. Here's a quick check of the headlines this hour.

A Pakistani intelligence official tells CNN US personnel have left a southern base that had been a hub for drone attacks. One of those attacks Friday apparently killed eight civilians and 17 militants near the Afghan border.

Witnesses say at least 43 people were killed in Syria when security forces cracked down on anti-government protests. The so-called Great Friday rallies and marches immediately followed Friday prayers.

There were chants of "Thank you, America" as a key US senator toured the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Friday. John McCain is calling for more US air support. His visit comes a day after the US authorized the use of unmanned predator drones to help NATO.

Higher winds could make wildfires worse in the US state of Texas. Hundreds of firefighters are battling the blazes, which have burned across the state since early January. Officials are hoping increased humidity will help slow the fires.

A papal visit on this Good Friday. Pope Benedict XVI answered viewers' questions on an Italian television show. He called for peace in Ivory Coast, and he urged the protection of Iraqi Christians.

Those are the latest headlines. CONNECT THE WORLD with Monita Rajpal begins right now.

MONITA RAJPAL, CNN HOST: Stealth killers, 25 dead from a drone attack in Pakistan just as the US military launches them in Libya. A vital tool or a reckless use of force? The argument for and against unmanned weapons.

Hounded by the press, what Kate Middleton endured before her royal engagement.

And Earth like you've never seen it before. We introduce you to the man responsible for this.

These stories and more tonight as we CONNECT THE WORLD.

We begin with NATO's new weapon in Libya, patrolling the skies around the clock, ready to strike Moammar Gadhafi's forces at a moment's notice. The United States has begun using unmanned predator drones like the one you see here, saying they are uniquely suited for attacks in urban areas.

The primary target for now, government forces laying siege to Misrata. They're accused of hiding among civilians to dodge air strikes. The US military says the drone can fly lower than warplanes, so they have better visibility to accurately hit their targets.

Well, one influential US senator says the drones will help in the fight against Gadhafi forces but are still not enough to give rebels the edge. John McCain visited the opposition stronghold of Benghazi today. He called on the international community to arm the rebels and recognize them as the legitimate voice of the Libyan people.

CNN's Reza Sayah joins us now from Benghazi with details on that. And Reza, you met with Mr. McCain. What did he have to say?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, he came here to really energize the opposition. They liked him before, but I think they're going to like him more than ever because he came in here and basically told the opposition everything they wanted to hear.

He visited with opposition officials and leaders, he praised the uprising, he called it an "example of what freedom can be."

There's no great surprise that he came here. He's always been a staunch supporter of the US intervention, US involvement here, and the military intervention. But he's also said that the US needs to do more.

Of course, this week, Washington announced plans to use these unmanned predator drones, especially in places like in Misrata. It would seem these would be effective tools in the fight against the regime forces in Misrata. These weapons are deadly accurate.

Even with their accuracy, though, they have often, especially in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan, killed civilians, which would seemingly play right into the hands of Colonel Gadhafi and what he wants to do.

We asked Senator McCain today if he was concerned that unmanned predator drones would kill civilians and what the outcome would be. Here's how he responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The predator is a very accurate weapons delivery system. The reason why they killed civilians is that they misidentified people, not because of lack of accuracy. I think the predator can be every helpful.

I do not believe that it is the game changer. I think that we need American air assets back into this conflict.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAYAH: So, Senator McCain, pleased with Washington's move, the use of predator drones. He also said that Washington could facilitate the delivery of weapons to the rebels, here, ad when we pressed them on what that exactly meant, he drew comparisons to when the US spent millions in the 1980s to fund the Afghan jihad, equipped the rebels there with weapons in the fight against Soviets.

He said, something like that could be implemented here, but it's not clear at this point how close the US is with doing that and even if they're thinking about it, Monita.

RAJPAL: Reza, Bearing in mind Mr. McCain is Republican, is he looking for more active involvement by the United States in this?

SAYAH: There's no question about it. That's been his position all along. He believes the US should get involved more. But it's important to remember, he's not here representing the White House and the administration, so it's easy for him to make these calls and to make the rebels happy.

If it doesn't happen, he can simply say, "Look, I don't have the final call. It's the Obama administration."

Can his call for more involvement influence the Obama administration? Certainly, he is a very influential congressman. This is a congressman that the Obama administration, President Obama, listens to often.

But we'll see what this trip means when it comes to US involvement and the possibility of them getting involved more deeply.

RAJPAL: Reza Sayah in Benghazi, thank you for that.

Now, Libya is one of several countries where the United States uses drones. Another is Pakistan and, just today, we were reminded of the deadly consequences. Pakistani officials say a drone strike in a tribal region killed some two dozen people, including eight civilians.

Nick Paton Walsh is following developments from Kabul. He joins us now. And Nick, some would say that this would just add to the insurgents' cause and, say, their anti-American rhetoric.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely, that's actually what the Pakistani military are saying. Attacks like this, as you were saying, in which 25 people died, eight of them women and children, really is straining the relationship between Washington and Islamabad.

In fact, over the past month, have you seen calls from Pakistani officials get louder for America to curtail its activities? Twice, we've seen after those calls, a drone strike hitting the tribal areas of this country.

So, really, this row, which seemed to always be in private, perhaps, is now spilling out into the open in some ways. And today, I think, we saw the beginnings of that possibly having a practical effect in terms of the access given to Americans or American positioning in this country.

Remember, a lot of these drones are said by US and Pakistani officials to be refueled at the bases around the country.

Now, we heard form one senior Pakistani official today, and he said that American personnel have left one of these key bases in the south of the country, in Baluchistan, called the Shamsi Air Base, in which officials have said previously these drones had been landing and being refueled.

Now, that's been categorically denied by one US official in Washington but also, contradictorily, a spokes -- a US military official in Islamabad has said that there are, quote, "No US personnel and US forces in that particular base."

So, whatever really the truth of this -- this matter, what the state of this base actually is, we're seeing this mudslinging, as it were, between Washington and Islamabad kind of coming out into the open, here, I think, really reminding people that the use of drones in a place like this and across the world, frankly, is no simple fix for a military problem.

RAJPAL: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much for that.

Now, drone aircraft have radically changed modern warfare, allowing the operators to kill enemies on the other side of the world without ever leaving their home base. Now, CNN's Nic Robertson found out what it's like to send robots off to war. He visited a US Air Force base and filed this report that first ran in July 2009.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Watch these two men in Iraq. They have no idea they're being hunted by a deadly UAV. It is following their every move, even recording them fire their weapons.

They have no idea their insurgent activities have been spotted and no idea the UAV operator thousands of miles away is about to fire a missile at them. It's what makes UAVs or drones a must-have for the US military.

DAVID DEPTULA, GENERAL, US AIR FORCE: The real advantage of unmanned aerial systems is they allow you to project power without projecting vulnerability.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): This is Creech Air Force Base, where drone pilots remotely fly missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. These pilots saw a surge in mission requests from front line commanders after weapons were first installed on drones.

CHRIS CHAMBLISS, COLONEL, CREECH AIR FORCE BASE: When we put Hellfire missiles on a Predator, now you've got these airplanes that are capable not only of providing the pictures, the full-motion video that you need, but now they're also capable of taking out targets where there may not be any other assets available.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): An estimated 40 or more countries, including China, Russia, and Pakistan, are also developing drones. Even Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based political party and paramilitary group, has used them against Israel.

No one feels the urgency of staying ahead of the competition more than the personnel at Creech Air Force Base.

CHAMBLISS: Right now, we're hanging onto everybody in this system. We've mobilized the Air National Guard, mobilized reservists. If you are assigned to Creech, right now, we don't allow you to move out.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Already, commanders are considering ways to cut out pilots altogether.

DEPTULA: We're looking at a future where we can program unmanned aerial vehicles to operate autonomously and within groups among themselves.

ROBERTSON (on camera): With weapons?

DEPTULA: With weapons or without weapons.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Unimaginable a few years ago, new weapons appear destined to work with less and less human input.

PETER SINGER, AUTHOR, "WIRED FOR WAR": There's nothing that is a technologic barrier to using armed autonomous systems. And there's -- we think about it as a never-ever-ever thing, and yet, it's not the technology that's holding us back. It's trying to figure out the applications of it.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Unmanned technology is here to stay. Wars will never be the same again. If ever there's a moment to borrow a line from a science fiction movie, now is it. Mankind is "boldly and irreversibly going where man has never been before," towards an uncharted era of warfare. Nic Robertson, CNN, Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: And just a reminder there, Nic's report, there, was filed back in July 2009.

Conducting a war from a distance may spare the lives of the pilots, but could removing that risk also make the decision to unleash lethal force easier? We want to debate the ethics, now, of using drones in combat.

We're joined by Shashank Joshi, he's an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. He says there are no moral consequences whatsoever using drones. But Mary Ellen O'Connell disagrees. She's a law professor from the University of Notre Dame, and she joins us now from South Bend, Indiana.

Thank you, both, for being with us. We really appreciate your time. Let's start with you, Shashank. You say there are no moral consequences whatsoever. What do you believe is -- is the impact of using unmanned drones.

SHASHANK JOSHI, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, RUSI: Well, I'm referring specifically to Libya, here, their potential use over cities like Misrata, and there are a few things to bear in mind.

First of all, unlike drone operations Pakistan, these would be, presumably, under the control not of the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency, but the Department of Defense. With all that entails the chain of command, accountability and, hopefully, adherence to the laws of war.

Second, it's very important to understand the difference in targeting. In Pakistan, these drones are primarily being used for what are called high-value targets, militants and al Qaeda or Taliban leaders.

That raises the inevitable problems of your targeting ability being only as good as your intelligence. If you get the wrong intelligence, you will kill civilians.

Now, in Misrata, these drones are not silver bullets. They can't be so precise they will eliminate all civilian casualties. But the nature of the targets, presumably, is military hardware, artillery tanks, rather than high-value targets. So, some of that target identification problem is mitigated.

RAJPAL: Mary Ellen, do you think, though that the drones have the capability of deciphering between what would be considered hardware, tanks, and things like that as opposed to something that maybe would be, say, a school bus carrying civilians?

MARY ELLEN O'CONNELL, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME: I do think the drones have that capacity. The video is really quite good, now. I have another much more serious concern about the deployment of drones, both in Pakistan and, today, into Libya.

And that is -- if you'd like me to just turn to that immediately, it's the fact that drones are a war-fighting weapon. I think your other guest expressed that clearly. It's not so much being able to figure out the targets as are these the places where we should be using a war-fighting weapon?

The United States is not involved in an armed conflict in Pakistan, and we should not be involved in an armed conflict in Libya. This mission was supposed to be about protecting civilians, not war fighting.

RAJPAL: So, are you saying that this brings in the moral question of actually being in Libya in the first place and the way we're conducting it in terms of this extends the UN mandate more than what it's supposed to be, what the resolution says it's supposed to be, which is protecting civilians?

O'CONNELL: That's correct. That's my great concern. The resolutions are clear, both 1970 and 1973 say that the use of all necessary measures are to protect civilians, and that does not mean escalating the conflict, which is my fear what the drones are going to do.

It does not say that we're supposed to be involved in helping the rebels fight a civil war and defeat the Gadhafi forces. That's not what the resolutions say, that is not what they authorize.

RAJPAL: Shashank, this does not really say just because these drones are out there that they are limiting and taking out targets that would be Moammar Gadhafi's military targets. This could be -- very well be -- it doesn't have any sense of really protecting civilians. This goes beyond what the UN resolution says -- what the UN resolution mandate really is.

JOSHI: Let me express my point of agreement first. These are not somehow clinical silver bullets from the sky that can pick out without any damage targets on the ground with ease in an urban environment. That's not the case. They are instruments of war, no doubt about it.

Second, let me also specify my agreement --

RAJPAL: But doesn't that change the whole nature of this war right now, then? What these US -- what these unmanned drones are there for, it changes the nature of what was specifically agreed to by the international community.

JOSHI: Well, there have been strikes on military targets from day one of this conflict, and the use of pilotless aircraft is not a qualitative change in that action.

Now, I would argue, hitting Gadhafi's war machine is a legitimate act within the mandate, which of course specifies all necessary means to protect civilians under the threat of attack.

Now, the armed forces of NATO have so far destroyed those exact same heavy weapons -- the artillery, the tanks -- that were attacking heavily built-up areas. And in doing so, they've likely prevented a great deal of damage to civilians. I would suggest drones are an extension of that if they are used appropriate.

I agree, we cannot fight the rebel's war. We're not engaged in a civil war, here. But we are entitled to degrade Gadhafi's military capacity to the extent that fulfills a humanitarian aim of Resolution 1973.

RAJPAL: Marry Ellen, your response to that?

O'CONNELL: Well, I think you have to look very carefully at the timing of the decision to use drones. The United States had said that we were not going to do the heavy lifting, that the United States was not getting involved in a third war and -- in an Islamic country.

So, we pulled back after the initial establishment of the no-fly zone and, as your other guest said, some attacks on Gadhafi's own forces.

But then, as it was clear that the rebels were not able to finish this job on their own, the United States has come back with the drone. Why the drone? Why now?

Because, I believe, there's this view in Washington that drones are not the same as actually entering into war-fighting. They somehow seem to think that drones are this sleek, small, quiet instrument that can get into places where you don't send your jet fighters.

And in fact, that we can somehow make the political argument that we're not involved in the heavy lifting. Secretary Gates called the drone operations a "minor use of force" in Libya. And, as your other guest expressed, that is not the case.

The United States is back involved in a much more significant way, and this is a way that I do not think can be justified under the Security Council resolutions.

It has gone too far, it's been over a month, the rebels are now looking to the -- to NATO, to the United States, to fight their war for them, and that's not what we were supposed to be doing.

RAJPAL: All right --

JOSHI: Monita, can I step in and just add one small thing, which is, there is a distinction to be drawn in how the drones are actually used. That will partly determine whether their use is within or outside Resolution 1973.

If they are hitting a -- any convoy moving along a road that appears to be a regime force, that may move beyond the mandate.

But if there is a tank poised inside Misrata about to hit a civilian- populated building, I think destroying that tank, if it can be done with due proportionality and discrimination, would be not just a violation of 1973, but a manifestation or fulfillment of 1973.

RAJPAL: Needless to say, this will be a debate that can continue, of course. Wish we had more time for that. I'd like to thank both our guests, Mary Ellen O'Connell and Shashank Joshi, thank you very much for being with us here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Now, before we move on, we want to reflect on the dangers of reporting from war zones. This week, two photojournalists were killed in Libya while documenting the siege of Misrata. Tim Hetherington on the left was 40 years old. Chris Hondros was 41.

Their bodies arrived in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi Thursday night. Dozens of people greeted the ship and praised the men for their courage and their commitment to exposing the truth.

Three other journalists are being detained in Libya, picked up on April 5th by the regime. One of them, Clare Gillis, recently was able to call her parents, their first indication that she's in good health and being held in a Tripoli jail. I spoke earlier with Jane and Robert Gillis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERT GILLIS, FATHER OF DETAINED JOURNALIST CLARE GILLIS: Well, it's been very distressing. And we've -- we've worked very hard to maintain control of ourselves and to make sure that we know what we're doing, and we're working in the behalf of our daughter to get her released as quickly as possible.

One of the things that we are concerned about right now is that there hasn't been any contact with any representatives of intermediary governments or anything else like that to assist in securing her release or at least assessing her current condition.

RAJPAL: In terms of what you've been doing from your side in Washington, tell us about the efforts that have been taking place there.

JANE GILLIS, MOTHER OF DETAINED JOURNALIST CLARE GILLIS: "The Atlantic" and "USA Today" and -- have been working very -- very hard. The Turkish government has been very, very helpful.

And I think that there are -- departments in the US government that have been working, also, for her release and for Jim Foley's release.

RAJPAL: What kind of communication did you have with Clare before she was detained?

JANE GILLIS: She was always certain to keep in touch. She was working in Benghazi in a -- I think a bombed-out courthouse that had internet access and really not much else. She was living in a journalist's hotel and she would go to the front lines, interview people. It was -- she was working, she said, 12 to 14 hours a day.

RAJPAL: And what's it like for you as a mother knowing that your child is doing -- has a job that does take her to such difficult places?

JANE GILLIS: It was not something that I would have liked her to do, and I think that she knew that. When we talked to her yesterday, her major concern was the -- the concern that we -- that she had caused us. She was afraid that we were so worried. And we assured her that we loved her and that we just wanted to get her home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Robert and Jane Gillis, the parents of detained journalist Clare Gillis.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we return, violence in Syria reaches fever pitch. Activists report the highest death toll in a single day since protests began.

Plus, it's Good Friday, but what exactly does that mean? We took to the streets to find out what people know about the holy day with some surprising results.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: It is Good Friday, one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar. Tonight in Rome, the pope is leading thousands of pilgrims in prayer as they reflect on the suffering of Christ in his final hours. We'll have the latest pictures and tell you about the pontiff's unprecedented move this Easter.

Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal in London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Here's a look at the other top story we're following this hour. The US has deplored the use of violence in Syria after at least 43 people were killed in clashes between protesters and government forces. Arwa Damon has been following the day's events from neighboring Lebanon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The demonstrations that we saw on Friday were not only the largest since this uprising began well over five weeks ago, but also spread across the entire country it would see, according to activists, eyewitnesses that we spoke to.

And many of the reported that in just about every single area where people were gathered, they were met with the use of lethal force by Syrian security forces. One eyewitness at home spoke of how the man standing next to him was shot dead, and he said that the government is lying when it speaks about potential reforms.

We spoke with a young man in the province of Dara whose father had been killed in the demonstrations. We could hear his mother wailing on the phone in the background, cursing the regime, calling on Arab leaders to intervene.

The young man said that his father's death had actually hardened his resolve, and he vowed that he would not stop until the regime itself was brought down.

Activists increasingly say that it is this type of behavior, this use of indiscriminate deadly force that is causing them to change their initial calls, which were for reforming the regime, now to being increasingly calls of trying to remove it.

Activists are saying that they are not entirely surprised by the Syrian security forces resorting to these types of tactics. They say that the reforms being put forward by the Assad regime are superficial.

They want to see things put into place like the release of political prisoners. They want to see reforms that are going to bring about a real democracy. They want to see a multiparty system. And following this kind of violence, we are hearing increasing calls for the Assad government to come about to an end. Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come, the stunning video that has gone viral. Meet the man behind this starry spectacle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Monita Rajpal in London.

Tradition comes in many forms this time of year, and as Christians around the world mark Good Friday, something new from the pope. He has used the occasion to hold an unprecedented Q&A session with his followers. Fionnuala Sweeney reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christians gathered in Jerusalem's old city, marching through the narrow cobblestone streets, singing hymns, many carrying large, wooden crosses, retracing the traditional route it's believed Jesus took to his crucifixion.

In Paris, thousands gathered for a picturesque ceremony on the steps of the Sacre Coeur Church.

In the Philippines, thousands of Catholics made a pilgrimage to Antipolo City just east of Manila. There were also some extreme observances. Several Filipino believers were willingly nailed to crosses to reenact the crucifixion while thousands more watched.

In Vatican City, Pope Benedict attended Good Friday mass at the Basilica and the Way of the Cross procession around Rome's Coliseum. Also in a first, he answered a handful of questions on TV submitted from people around the world.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: We've got a seven-year-old girl from Japan who wants to know why her country has suffered so much. We have a Muslim woman from the Ivory Coast who wants to know when will peace come and where is God in the midst of the violence in that country?

SWEENEY: The pope responded to the girl from Japan, "We do not have the answers, but we know Jesus suffered as you do." Fionnuala Sweeney, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Well, thousands of pilgrims there tonight turning out to the Roman Coliseum for the ceremony, devout followers who are well aware of the religious significance of the day. But how about here on the streets of London? We asked a handful of people, what is Good Friday all about? Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not being religious, I don't really know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I think it's --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hang on a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's something to do with --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, do you mean Jesus -- he was in the tomb thing and then the stone rolled. Is that that day? I don't really know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got no idea when it comes to Christianity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something to do with Jesus? Oh, yes, isn't he, like, arise from the dead?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't that -- died?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Jesus died, and then, Easter Monday is when he went across, when he rose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it Sunday?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he -- yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Good Friday is when he was crucified.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality of it is it's the day that Christ died. He's put upon the cross, or flayed, all around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, of course. It was the time when Jesus was on the cross, suffering, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Celebrating the birth of Christ? No, no, no, no. The death of Christ. I got it wrong.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which one was it? Was it the day that Christ was crucified?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or was that Sunday?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is quite embarrassing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an atheist, so I don't really know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I do. That's the day where Christ was -- yes -- death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think so. I should know this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: They're at the front line of treating casualties from the uprising in Bahrain but, now, there are claims that doctors, too, are becoming victims as the country's crackdown continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Monita Rajpal in London.

Coming up, shocking allegations. A human rights group says Bahraini security forces tortured and hospitalized opposition members. The full special report coming up.

Plus, Kate and the paparazzi. How the press put pressure on the young couple's relationship.

And the sky as you've never seen it before. Meet the man who climbed Spain's tallest mountain to bring us this.

All those stories ahead in the show for you but, first, let's get a check of the headlines this hour.

A Pakistani intelligence official tells CNN US personnel have left a southern base that's been a hub for drone attacks. Pakistani sources say one of those attacks Friday killed eight civilians and 17 militants near the Afghan border.

Libya's opposition received some personal encouragement from a US senator today. John McCain toured the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. He praised the rebels' efforts and called for the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi.

In Syria, Friday prayers were followed by rallies, rage, and violence. Witnesses say anti-government demonstrators came under fire from security forces and that at least 43 people were killed.

Japan has approved a disaster relief fund to help rebuild the country's earthquake and tsunami-hit areas. The cabinet set aside $49 billion for reconstruction, but that's expected to cover just a fraction of the cost.

Thousands of Christian pilgrims have tonight gathered at the Coliseum in Rome for the pope's annual Stations of the Cross ceremony. These are live pictures that you're seeing. Earlier on Good Friday, the pontiff held an unprecedented televised Q&A interview with some of his followers.

It is a key trading partner in the Gulf, and home to the US Fifth Fleet, but Bahrain's Western allies are being accused of staying silent as allegations of widespread torture grow louder.

Human rights groups say hospital patients and even the doctors treating them have become targets as the country cracks down on a Shia-led revolt.

You may find some of the pictures in Amber Lyon's report disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Richard Sollom with Physicians for Human Rights just returned from Bahrain.

RICHARD SOLLOM, PHYSICIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: It is unlike anything that I have seen in my 20 years of investigating human rights and violations of medical neutrality.

The types of abuses that are occurring are actually quite surreal. They're so horrific and so widespread and systematic.

LYON (voice-over): Sollom says Bahraini security forces have arrested more than 30 doctors and medics, accusing them of harboring protesters.

SOLLOM: It is my firm belief that the Bahraini government and its security forces are targeting physicians and nurses and other people who have eyewitness testimony to their atrocities, specifically because they're the credible people who have specific evidence of the atrocities of the Bahraini government.

LYON (voice-over): PHR says Bahraini security forces have also created a climate of fear so that patients, especially those involved in protests, have avoided getting urgent medical treatment.

SOLLOM: Patients are being tortured in these medical facilities.

LYON (voice-over): When we were in Bahrain about three weeks ago, we met protesters, shot by security forces, who said they were too scared to seek medical attention.

(MAN SPEAKING ARABIC)

LYON (on camera): Birdshot. He says that the police have been using this to shoot them.

So he got out of the hospital bed and ran away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, because he was afraid.

LYON: He said he took a razor blade on his own and cut the bullets out of his leg because he was too scared to go to the hospital because he says that the riot police came in and beat him while he was in his hospital bed. So he fled.

And he still has the bullet in his eye. He can't see?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can't see.

LYON (voice-over): Security forces took over the main hospital, Salmaniya, last month. PHR documented cases where police dragged patients out of their hospital beds late at night and tortured them.

SOLLOM: They were forced to confess to things that they did not do, for example, that Iran was behind the demonstrations, that Iran and other countries were handing out weapons.

LYON (voice-over): The Bahraini government has blamed Iran for backing the protesters. Officials also told CNN that security forces are at Salmaniya Hospital to protect it from unruly protesters and that it's now functioning normally.

SOLLOM: Well, I understand that that's what the government is saying, but the reality is quite different.

When we arrived, we were met by men in -- wearing armed assault rifles. There was a heavy tank right in front of the emergency room.

LYON (voice-over): Sollom says that when he and his team tried to enter the hospital, the were detained by security forces, and then kicked out. PHR says the Bahraini government is violating numerous international laws and wants the US and UN to push for an immediate investigation. Amber Lyon, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Bahrain's ambassador to the US has tonight denied allegations that authorities have attacked doctors and patients. In a written statement, Ambassador Houda Nonoo said, "The Kingdom was committed to maintaining order and protecting the safety of its citizens."

Well, earlier, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, urged the Bahraini authorities to act in accordance with the law, but is it time for the international community to match their words with actions? To discuss that, I'm joined by Joe Stork from Human Rights Watch. He's in our Washington Bureau this evening.

Mr. Stork, thank you very much for being with us. What are you hearing about what is actually happening in Bahrain right now?

JOE STORK, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well first of all, I think the PHR report is actually on -- absolutely on target. We've been in Bahrain on the ground since February 17th.

We looked into the situation at the main hospital and in other hospital clinics. We found much the same thing. We documented many of the same incidents, the same violations, that the Physicians for Human Rights report deals with.

I think it's important, though, to put this in a broader context. I think people are being punished, basically, for having supported the pro- democracy demonstrations back from mid-February to mid-March.

Doctors were among those who supported those demonstrations, some of them. They are the ones who've been targeted, they're the ones who've been arrested.

They're among somewhere around 500 people who are still in detention, many for weeks now, without charge, no opportunity to speak with a lawyer, no access to their families. We don't know where they are, they've been effectively disappeared.

That's the shocking reality in Bahrain today.

RAJPAL: Do you feel that the situation in Bahrain has been put on the back burner by the international community simply because all the other events that have taken place, for example, Egypt and now, Libya?

STORK: Well, I don't think that's the reason. I think it has been definitely put on the back burner, but I think it's because of the involvement of Saudi Arabia and the strategic importance that the United States, the UK, other governments see with Bahrain.

I think that's the reason they're being treated very much with kid gloves. And there have been next to no serious critical statements by the international community, by the US and particularly the Obama administration to -- commenting on these outrages.

RAJPAL: Would you classify the situation there as a humanitarian crisis? We were looking at even hospitals being targeted.

STORK: Definitely. It's a humanitarian crisis for the reason you mentioned. It's also a massive human rights crisis.

We're talking about, now, a country that actually hasn't seen protests since the middle of March. There have not been protests but, yet, on a daily basis, we see raids, midnight raids, early pre-dawn raids by security forces, usually masked me taking -- pulling people out of their houses, adding to the numbers of disappeared.

We see massive dismissals, of upwards of about 1,000 workers, employees of different companies who've been dismissed summarily without any kind of due process, again, apparently because they supported the pro- democracy protests when they were going on in February and early March.

RAJPAL: What do you think it would take, then, for countries like the United States that do have a vested interest in Bahrain to, perhaps, take a more active role in protecting civilians in Bahrain, which are being -- which as we're seeing from our reports, they're being targeted and attacked by the government there.

What do you think it will take for them, then, to -- for the international community, then, to step up?

STORK: Well, I wish I knew the answer to that question, but it's something we've been pushing very hard for since the very beginnings of this crisis so far without success.

Now, I should say we do know that the Obama administration has been raising these issues with Bahraini authorities behind the scenes at the diplomatic level. But they have not been willing to speak out publicly, and I think this is a terrible shame.

It certainly -- it's not only a problem for Bahrain, it undermines the whole message of the administration when they're so ready to condemn violations in Syria, for instance, or Libya, which they should be doing. But then, they're completely silent when it comes to close friends like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

RAJPAL: Joe Stork from Human Rights Watch. Thank you, sir, so much for your time.

STORK: You're welcome.

RAJPAL: Coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD, they camped out, waiting to snap. When William and Kate left university, the paparazzi followed the couple everywhere. Just ahead, the pressure that put on their relationship.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: We have this just in. Britain's Prince William is engaged. Clarence House has confirmed to CNN that Prince William and Kate Middleton have announced their engagement. They will marry in the spring or summer 2011. Congratulations to them both.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: Ah, it seems like ages ago, doesn't it? That was the moment I broke the news right here on CNN back in November. Welcome back, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Monita Rajpal in London.

Now, that engagement announcement marked a change in the relationship between the couple and the paparazzi. As Soledad O'Brien reports in the documentary, "The Women Who Would Be Queen," that put enormous pressure on this young pair.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the months after graduation, the press followed them everywhere. To weddings, to polo matches. There were rumors of a breakup. Fleet Street was on fire.

And in January 2006, it only got worse. William began his royal military training in the English countryside, leaving Kate alone in London.

CHRISTOPHER ANDERSEN, AUTHOR, "WILLIAM AND KATE": He was beginning his military career, in essence, around a lot of other young men who were going to make their lives in the military. So, there was a lot of heavy drinking going on, there was a lot of partying going on.

O'BRIEN: Was he faithful to her, with the drinking and the partying?

ANDERSEN: Yes, yes, indeed he was. There were some indiscreet moments in bars when, you know, girls would come up to him and there'd be kissing. She handled it well. She wasn't happy with it, but she didn't end the relationship that they had.

JULES KNIGHT, FRIEND OF WILLIAM AND KATE: It's probably difficult on their relationship. She was having that incredible scrutiny from the press. She'd walk out of her flat and be besieged by 20, 30 photographers, and that really couldn't go on.

ARTHUR EDWARDS, ROYAL PHOTOGRAPHER: And it was just chaos. They'd follow her to work, they'd stop her in the traffic with flashing through the window while she was trying to drive her car, sitting on the wall at her office, waiting for her to leave, waiting to arrive. That's when it's really stressful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey! Hey! Hey!

O'BRIEN (voice-over): All dangerously reminiscent of what happened to William's mother. Just look at the images of Diana and Kate, both taken before they were engaged. For Diana, the pressure was often too much to bear.

RICHARD DENNEN, FRIEND OF PRINCE WILLIAM AND KATE: I remember once Diana ran into a doorway and was crying.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): For Kate, it was very different. Despite her young age, she seemed very smart and guarded with the press. Kate's friend, Richard Dennen.

DENNEN: It was a nightclub that everyone goes to called Boujis in South Kensington. And she was famous for always nipping into the bathroom and checking her hair and makeup before she left, because she knew there were photographers waiting outside.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): And while Kate publicly held her own, privately, there were serious concerns.

ANDERSEN: She was not his fiancee. Therefore, she was not entitled, technically, to any kind of -- to any bodyguards. William is surrounded by bodyguards, essentially, at all times. And he realized that she was pretty much on her own. And he was afraid for her.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: A preview, there, of our CNN special, "The Women Who Would Be Queen," an intimate look at the two women who have influenced William's life, his late mother, and his bride. See it Saturday at 8:00 PM in London, 9:00 PM in Berlin, and 11:00 PM if you're watching us from Abu Dhabi.

Now that Kate is Prince William's fiancee, she is entitled to more privacy, and that has made it much easier to keep her dress -- the thing that everyone wants to know about -- a secret.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL (voice-over): The dress Diana wore when she married Prince Charles was seen as the most guarded secret in fashion history.

But now, rumors surrounding Kate Middleton's dress are hitting fever pitch, especially since it was reported that Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen will be designing the dress.

Burton became creative director of the brand when Alexander McQueen died last year. She had worked alongside the designer for 14 years, mostly behind the scenes. And while her appointment shown a spotlight on her career, this commission, if true, is one that would catapult her name into the fashion stratosphere.

HILARAY ALEXANDER, "DAILY TELEGRAPH": This is a big, major royal wedding. It's quite ceremonial. This -- it's quite religious, there's a lot of protocol.

And the dress needs to suit the occasion, so it's got to be designed by somebody who has a total understanding of the whole bridal scene, who understands the Abbey and what it's going to look like. And I have a feeling Kate will surprise us all.

RAJPAL (voice-over): McQueen reps have denied the appointment, and the royal family's Clarence House has refused to comment saying, quote, "It is Catherine's wish to keep the designer a secret until the wedding day."

While Middleton has been frequently compared to William's Mother, Diana, many believe the wedding dress will be different.

Bridal designer Ian Stuart says, while the opulence of Diana's dress was a contrast to the contrast economic times Britain was facing in 1981, he believes the future Queen of England will go a different route.

IAN STUART, BRIDAL DESIGNER: I have a feeling that it won't be a big dress. I have a feeling it will be kind of like a fishtail or mermaid style, quite figure-hugging, and then maybe flaring out from beneath the hips.

I think that she's fully aware of what she's marrying into and she knows that she's -- she has to come out there with a certain amount of strength and diva-ishness in her wedding dress.

I do think that she will have some kind of sleeve or covering of lace around her shoulders and her arms, absolutely. I think she will wear a veil. However, I think it will be not a big, poofy veil that's going to cover the face. I think it will just be something quite simple, elegant. Not so long, flowing from behind her hair.

RAJPAL (voice-over): To ensure utmost secrecy, the dress is being made behind the secure walls of Buckingham Palace. All will be revealed when Kate steps out of her car at the steps of Westminster Abbey on April 29th.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Well, this time next week, they'll be in party mode, but until then, we are feverishly counting down to that moment on April 29th. We're at six days to go.

Don't forget, all next week, CONNECT THE WORLD brings you the global view of the royal wedding, and hear from a special guest each day as Becky Anderson reports live Buckingham Palace. That's CONNECT THE WORLD all next week, right here on CNN.

But next up here on CONNECT THE WORLD, Starlight Express -- I'm looking forward to this. This timelapse video of the Milky Way has gone viral. We go behind the lens and meet the now renowned photographer capturing the world at its most spectacular.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: Welcome back, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Monita Rajpal in London.

Dancing world leaders, singing front line soldiers, and a bubbly baby. Just some of the hits on the internet this week. To tell us all about that, here's Phil Han.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER: It's been another exciting week on the web, with lots of great stories across social media. First up, though, let's start with this hilarious video showing the president of Russia breaking down some moves on the dance floor.

(MUSIC - "American Boy")

HAN (voice-over): Dmitry Medvedev was filmed dancing at his university reunion to the song "American Boy," which was sung by a Russian pop group. The president even confirmed on his Twitter account that it was, indeed, him after the video popped up on YouTube.

But he's not the first world leader to try his hand at dancing. This is video of former US president George W. Bush during an event at the White House in 2007. He was dancing in a bid to raise awareness for malaria.

(DANCE MUSIC)

(CROWD CHEERING)

HAN (voice-over): And you might remember this. President Barack Obama danced his way onto the set of "The Ellen Show" when he was still a candidate. This video on YouTube, though, has been viewed more than 10 million times.

(MUSIC - "Hold It Against Me")

HAN (voice-over): This video just surfaced on YouTube and comes from an unlikely pace. This is video of US marines on a base in the middle of Afghanistan dancing to Britney Spears's "Hold It Against Me."

(MUSIC - "Hold It Against Me")

HAN (voice-over): Now, Britney Spears herself tweeted a link to this video, and it's quickly gotten more than 130,000 clicks.

Onto another pop icon. Everyone knows about Justin Bieber and his legion of fans. Well, these kids, they took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for their version of a flash mob.

HAN (on camera): Next up, we have this hilarious video that shows just how easily a baby can be amused. All you need is a dog and some bubbles.

(BABY LAUGHING)

HAN (voice-over): The young girl's name is Molly, and the dog, well, that's Bennie. This video has racked up more than half a million hits online.

And it's not just humans that are up for a good laugh. If you've ever wondered what happens when you tickle a penguin, well, just watch this video, which went viral online.

(PENGUIN SQUAKING)

HAN (on camera): Finally, is a video that was created by filmmakers Will Hoffman, Daniel Mercadante, and Julius Metoyer. It shows how beautiful imperfect matches can really be.

(MUSIC)

HAN: That's this week's wrap of all the best bits across social media. If you want to suggest anything I may have missed, just send me a tweet. I'm Phil Han for CNN in London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Oh, the perfect elements to make my Friday, a tickling penguin and dancing presidents.

Another video that has gone viral on the web in the past week is a spectacular timelapse movie of the Milky Way. It is the latest project by Terje. The Norwegian landscape photographer first stunned the world with his dramatic images of the Icelandic volcano as it erupted last year.

These pictures won him an instant legion of fans. Fans who were delighted again last month when he created this timelapse movie of the Northern Lights. Terje's unique portrait of the aurora became an instant hit on the internet.

It's also inspired him to pay photographic tribute to another beautiful part of our world, a tribute we now like to bring you in recognition of Earth Day. Here's Terje talking us through his latest sensation, "The Mountain."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TERJE SORGJERD, LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER: I filmed this in Spain on the island of Tenerife on the mountain of El Teide, which is the highest mountain in Spain.

I chose that location because it's one of the absolute best places in the world to look at the stars.

I wanted to shoot a video of the Milky Way, a new kind of video and show the colors and the light and the beauty of the sky.

The goal with the project was to go to Tenerife and capture some of the beauty of one of the most amazing islands that I know, and also one of the best places in the world to look at the stars.

I was carrying a lot of equipment up in the mountain, and there was a lot of beautiful scenes and a lot of beautiful lights. I was very lucky with the clouds around the island where I was moving. And I also had some very, very nice nights where I could see the sky clearly.

The most unexpected events for me was the sandstorm from Sahara that blew up. It completely covered everything. I couldn't even see the sky. I was in the middle of a powered sequence with the Milky Way, and I was very surprised when I looked at the camera and saw that it had actually managed to capture the Milky Way and the sandstorm, which was backlit by the Canary Islands.

I would say it was more spectacular than I had imagined. Both the Milky Way itself up there, but also the nature and also the clouds, how they were forming during both the sunrises and the sunsets. It was a very spectacular view.

I hope that people are inspired to go outside and look at the stars. Go into nature and enjoy. Have a personal relationship with nature.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Absolutely gorgeous. The photographer, Terje, talking about his latest project.

I'm Monita Rajpal in for Becky Anderson, that's your world connected. We'll leave you, now, with more of Terje's video. The world headlines, and "BackStory" will follow the short break.

(MUSIC)

END