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CONNECT THE WORLD

Pakistan Vows to Investigate; Was Killing of bin Laden Lawful?

Aired May 9, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOUSAF RAZA GILANI, PAKISTAN PRIME MINISTER: Delegations of complicity, of incompetence are absurd.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Pakistan hits back over who knew what about Bin Laden's hideout, calling for an end to the blame game.

But the U.S. is also facing a question of its own, was the killing of Al Qaeda leader really lawful?

Plus, freedom at last. More from the woman allegedly raped by Gadhafi's forces on her dramatic escape from Libya.

And out of misery, comes love. We will head to quake hit Japan where couples are queuing up to say "I do."

These stories and more tonight as we "Connect the World."

Well, first Pakistan's prime minister welcomes the killing Osama Bin Laden as justice done but he also warns the United States that if it attempts another unilateral raid on Pakistani soil, it risks massive retaliation. Today, Yousaf Raza Gilani made his first public remarks on Bin Laden's death and Pakistan's failure to find his hiding place.

Jim Clancy reports. He took his critics head on.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YOUSAF RAZA GILANI, PAKISTAN PRIME MINISTER: Let's not rush (INAUDIBLE). Delegations of complicity, of incompetence are absurd.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pakistan under pressure. A week after his death, many are still asking, how could Osama Bin Laden hide in plain sight at this compound in Abbottabad, 50 kilometers north of Pakistan's capital. Monday, a defiant prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani fired back at his country's critics.

GILANI: It is disingenuous for anyone to blame Pakistan or the state institution of Pakistan including the ISI and the armed forces for being in cahoots with Al Qaeda.

CLANCY: In an impassioned speech to his country's parliament. Mr. Gilani hit back at Pakistan's accusers, most notably Washington.

GILANI: Yes, there has been an intelligence failure. It is not only us but of all the intelligence agencies of the world.

CLANCY: Washington now wants to interview Bin Laden's three wives who were with him at the compound and are now in Pakistan's custody.

REUEL MARC GERECHT, FORMER CIA OFFICER: It could be very incriminating for the Pakistani government itself so I'm not surprised that the Pakistani's are reluctant to allow the Americans access to these women.

CLANCY: The prime minister vowed to launch a military investigation into the Al Qaeda chief's presence in Abbottabad. The outcome could have a serious impact on the relationship between Washington and Islamabad.

Jim Clancy, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well suggestions of complicity have come from the highest levels in Washington, even President Obama says that Bin Laden likely had and I quote "some sort of support network inside Pakistan that allowed him to remain undetected." Well, a short time ago, the White House press secretary commented on bilateral tensions. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The United States and Pakistan have an important complicated relationship as we've said. The cooperation that we've had with Pakistan has been important for years now in our fight against terrorism and terrorists and more terrorists have been killed on Pakistani soil because of that cooperation than anywhere else in the world. And that's important to know, which is not to say that we don't have our differences because we do. We obviously do and those differences are frequently aired.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Yes, right. Well, let's talk about those differences, shall we? CNN's Reza Sayah is in Islamabad. Reza, it certainly sounds like there's an awful lot of firefighting going on here. What is all of these leave U.S.-Pakistan relations, you think?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a partnership, Becky, that's as volatile, uncertain and as troubled as ever and the prime minister today didn't say anything that would indicate that things are going to change. In fact, you can argue that he said some things that could escalate tensions between Islamabad and Washington.

I think a lot of people, not just in Washington and the Obama administration but a lot of people here domestically, among the Pakistani public were eager to see prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani come out and acknowledge that there is a serious problem here with the Pakistani government and its security establishment with its approach to extremism and that they're going to go on a new direction, perhaps embark on a new policy when it comes to extremism. That didn't happen.

Instead this was a speech that was filled with nationalistic rhetoric, filled with attempts to deflect the accountability with the prime minister rejecting that Pakistan knew about Bin Laden's or elements within Pakistan's security establishment knew about this compound and he also went after the U.S.. He hit back against Washington. At one point, he suggested that the U.S. was partly to blame for the birth of Al Qaeda. He was that it was the U.S. that during the 1980s, Afghan jihad against the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan but it was the U.S. that cultivated and paid for and supported for these Islamists militants and the prime minister suggested that it was that movement that gave birth to Al Qaeda.

So a very defensive prime minister, Becky, and again, no indications that this relationship is going to go on a new direction.

ANDERSON: Yes, nothing like the relationship we remember post 9/11, of course. Musharraf and Bush weren't in the best of terms as (INAUDIBLE). What do you make also of this? This is what Gilani also said today with relation to China. I think it's important - let's get this sound up and have you listen to this and I want your reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GILANI: We are delighted that our (INAUDIBLE) friend, the People's Republic of China, has made tremendous strides in economic and technological development that are a source of inspiration and strength for the people of Pakistan.

Apprehensions are being voiced about our relations with the United States. Let me dispel any anxiety in this regard. Pakistan attaches high importance to its relations with U.S..

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE) talking about its positive relations there with China. What do you make of that?

GILANI: Well, you can call it a veiled threat, the prime minister's attempt at gamesmanship. His attempt at sending a message to Washington and look, we don't need you. We always have China to turn to but I wouldn't look too much into that statement. The bottom line is this is not a partnership that's going to fall apart despite all the crisis that it's facing. These are two countries that desperately need one another. The U.S. obviously needs Pakistan and its fight against extremism in this region. If the U.S. ever wants to hammer out a political solution in Afghanistan. If it ever wants to pull out its troops, it needs Pakistan.

Pakistan on the other hand needs the U.S. to give its weak government credibility. The U.S. gives Pakistan billions in military and economic aid. And most importantly for these security establishment, the U.S. gives Islamabad a lot of leverage when it comes to its rivalry with its arch enemy, India.

I don't think this is a partnership that's going to fall apart. I think the key is for Islamabad and Washington to somehow find a common ground when it comes to this fight against extremism and move forward. At this point, there is no indication that they're going to improve this relationship based on what we heard from Pakistan's prime minister even if it doesn't improve, Becky, I think they're still going to manage to (INAUDIBLE) and trudge forward somehow.

ANDERSON: Yes, let's call it edgy. Sure. We'll leave it at that for the time being.

Reza Sayah in Islamabad. Many thanks, Reza.

All right. Now let's get back, shall we, to what happened a week ago. The United States acknowledges Bin Laden was unarmed when shot. Some reports even suggest he was retreating. Well, the U.S. says he still posed a threat and didn't appear ready to surrender, calling his killing "perfectly legal." But U.N. human rights investigators aren't so sure.

And one of them is Martin Scheinin. He joins us now from Florence, Italy, where he is an international law professor at the European University Institute there. Are you arguing or why are you arguing perhaps that Bin Laden's death was unlawful, sir?

MARTIN SCHEININ, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR: I am giving the benefit of the doubt to the United States of America. I think it was a carefully planned operation and I give much credit to the fact that men were sent instead of missiles. So I think that was a good point of departure for saying that this was a lawful operation to start with. Where I think it is indeed in the interest of the United States of America itself is to come with the full disclosure of the facts and we are basically asking the question whether an effective possibility of surrender was offered, whether there was a possibility of capture and arrest? We do acknowledge that we were dealing with one of the worst criminals in the world and the likelihood of arrest might have been very small but (INAUDIBLE) likely utilize, this is the main question.

ANDERSON: OK. So we're talking about whether there's an obligation to make it easy for someone to surrender here. I just want to remind our viewers at what's been said because there's an awful lot that's been said here over the last week or so. This is what the attorney general said on May 4th. Have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If he had surrendered, I think - if he attempted to surrender, I think we should obviously have accepted that but there was no indication that he wanted to do that and therefore his killing was appropriate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: OK. That's the attorney general who made the (INAUDIBLE). This is what's the press secretary, the White House press secretary Jay Carney said. Have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARNEY: There is simply no question that this operation was lawful. Bin Laden was the head of Al Qaeda, the organization that conducted the attacks of September 11, 2001, and Al Qaeda and Bin Laden himself had continued to plot attacks against the United States. We acted in the nation's self defense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Martin, do you still believe there are questions to be answered? Do you?

SCHEININ: Well, the information that's coming to the surface is conflicting. I do not contest the lawfulness of the effort to capture one of the worst criminals in the world, prosecute and put him on trial. That's perfectly fine and I would be in full agreement with that approach from the perspective of human rights but there are still details related to the factual account, how the operation was conducted and primarily it's a question on whether an effective possibility of surrender was ever offered. The men who conducted the operation, they must have felt of being in danger to their own life at the actual event of trying to arrest Osama Bin Laden. Then (INAUDIBLE) could have been done as a measure of last resort to protect their own lives. And it's not simply a question of whether Osama Bin Laden himself was carrying a firearm. There can be other (INAUDIBLE) that made the capturers believe that they are under an attack and subject to a life threatening danger, did he make other hostile movements, was there somebody else making threatening movements at the moment.

The question is whether the persons really believed or had good reasons to believe that they were under -

ANDERSON: And I understand you questions, but you will understand when I say to you that I imagine there will be questions asked about just how much an investigation of this sort will cost, how long it will take and whether it's going to be worth it when experts make it very clear that Bin Laden is an enemy combatant and one of the points of war is that you can kill enemy combatants even if they surrender and seize being a combatant, you're going to take them into custody but you got no obligation to make that surrender easy. Can you imagine the sort of questions that you're going to be asked at the U.N. by those who say this is a waste of time?

SCHEININ: We are not asking for any investigation, we are simply (INAUDIBLE) of those facts that do exist. The factual account is available. There's videotape. There are persons who are there and I'm sure that information exists. It's only a question of public disclosure of the information which exists and we haven't asked for any investigation, just the United States in its own interests to come forward with the facts. And that does not cost anything. Above all, I want to emphasize as we are dealing with a very dangerous criminal and the measures of law enforcement are primary. That means honest prosecution and trial and thereafter punishment, that was the main context in which the operation in my view was lawful to start with.

The fact that he is being referred to as an enemy combatant is problematic because it's not self evident. It's far from self evident that there was an armed conflict between identifiable parties. It is much safer to base the arrest from the fact that he's a mass murdered who should be apprehended, arrested and put on trial. If this was an operation during war time, it doesn't mean that you can shoot an unarmed person without an effort to arrest and therefore, I think it's in the interest of the United States itself to accept that this was an arrest operation to start with and the use of lethal force had to be done in individual self defense of the men trying the capture.

ANDERSON: You make a point. I am hearing them and so are the viewers. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. Martin Scheinin there. And apologies for the slightly problematic broadband connection there where you are.

You're watching "Connect the World" here on CNN. Still to come, we hear from the parents of Eman al Obeidy, the young woman who has accused Moammar Gadhafi's forces of rape. What they have to say about her escape from Libya?

And bracing for the worst flood in 80 years. We're going to take a look at the controversial tactic to save cities. That's coming up here on CNN. It's 16 minutes past nine in London. We'll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, she had to cover her entire head and face and run the risk of being caught at checkpoint. This is Eman al Obeidy, the woman who accuses Gadhafi's forces of rape. Coming up here, her exclusive interview with Nic Robertson about her daring escape from Libya.

I'm Becky Anderson in London. You're watching "Connect the World." Here's a look at the other stories that we are following for you this hour.

A human rights groups say the Syrian government is tracking down even harder on anti-government protesters. Troops in military trucks were seen moving to the city of Homm (ph), south of Daraa from Sunday. We're also hearing about a massive number of arrests taking place with football stadiums being used as makeshift prisons. A U.N. assessment team says it's been unable to enter the county.

Well, Cuba may be considering a move to ease travel restrictions for island residents. Havana said Monday that it will study ways to let Cubans travel abroad as tourists. Now details are sketchy at present but Cubans aren't officially prohibited from traveling abroad but bureaucratic (INAUDIBLE) prevent many of them, at present, from leaving.

Well, May 9th, it's is a significant day for Russia, the day they declared victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, happened when some 20,000 troops and more than 100 vehicles were on show in the annual grand parade in Moscow's Red Square earlier today. President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were among the thousands celebrating the day and paying tribute to the 26 million Russians who lost their lives.

The first ever full face transplant recipient in the United States unveiled his new look. Dallas Wiens lost most of his facial features in an electrical accident in 2008. Doctors were able to give him a new nose, lips, skin, muscle and even nerves during a 15-hour operation in March. And today, he spoke out to thank the anonymous donor family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DALLAS WIENS, FACE TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT: There are no words to describe the debt of gratitude or love that I posses for the donor family. That choice that they made has, in a very real, very great way changed my life and my daughter's and so from the bottom of my heart, and I know from the bottom of hers, we both thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Dallas Wiens revealing his new face today in Boston.

Well, ahead on "Connect the World," certainly here on CNN, Eman al Obeidy, the woman who claimed she was raped by Moammar Gadhafi's forces has managed to flee Libya. Up next, an exclusive interview in which we find out how she managed to do that.

This is CNN. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The Gadhafi regime's time is up. We have significantly degraded his war machine. He is politically isolated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: NATO Secretary General speaking to CNN earlier today. Anders Fogh Rasmussen denies a stalemate in Libya, insisting that NATO is making progress. Well his comments come as Libya's rebels say they suffered an intense blow in Misrata, the only city in western Libya which they hold.

Now over the weekend, forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi bombed key fuel depots two kilometers from the port. The oil stored at the depots is used for electricity and day to day power needs. Misrata has been the scene of the heavy fighting as you remember for weeks, as Gadhafi tries to reclaim control and rebels claiming Gadhafi's forces are using aid helicopters to bomb the city.

Those kind of claims have prompted the U.N.'s humanitarian chief to brief the security council. Valerie Amos is just over at the United Nations headquarters and Richard Roth there joining me now with what she said and reaction. Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, it was the U.N. Security Council which acted in Libya saying it needed to protect urgently civilians there. Well, it may not have gone according to plan because after this briefing from the U.N.'s humanitarian chief, it seems that civilians could certainly use a lot of help there, it was a rather stern, stark portrait of what the people of Libya are going through getting it from all sides.

She says there is a cash and fuel shortage that the conflict and the lack of infrastructure, basic needs, not being met by the people there and Miss Amos who has been to Libya had a message for all sides in the conflict to change their action if they really want to help protect civilians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALERIE AMOS, U.N. UNDER SECRETARY-GENERAL: Despite the repeated requests of the secretary general and the international community as a whole, civilians are still coming under fire in these areas of conflict. This has to stop. The security council must continue to insist that all parties respect international humanitarian law and ensure civilians are spared.

The reported use of cluster bombs C (ph) and landmines as well as death and injuries caused by aerial bombing show callous disregard for the physical and psychological well being of civilians.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: Miss Amos says there are reports of rape, abductions, disappearances, the shelling of Misrata, the port there that continues to disrupt badly needed humanitarian supplies from getting in. She's asking all sides to take up a humanitarian pause in the fighting to enable, a, to get in. She's also saying that the U.N., the humanitarian agencies are going to need even more millions of dollars besides what has been requested to help the people there.

She said that 746,000 people have fled the country, mostly third country nationals. 5,000 stranded at the border. 58,000 settled in eastern Libya. She said not enough attention being paid to the western mountain region of the country and of course, a lot of attention in Misrata where there are attacks and shelling of civilians.

Becky, back to you.

ANDERSON: We spoke to Valerie Amos just after she has come back. That was about two weeks ago. You can hear the frustration in her voice and it's understandable.

Richard Roth at the United Nations for you.

Well, a woman who some say has become the face of the Libyan struggle has now fled Tripoli. Two months ago, Ayman al Obeidy dramatically accused Gadhafi's security forces of rape. She says she suffered government harassment ever since. Well, her parents say they are overjoyed she has managed to escape but aren't sure they can believe it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ATIO AL-OBEIDY, FATHER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): As a father, I was really happy. I was overjoyed. We're looking forward to seeing her but we're not sure if she's safe.

AYSHA AL-OBEIDY, MOTHER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): When I heard the news, I felt like any mother would when she received happy news about her daughter escaping. She was able to leave but I don't know if the news is true or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: OK. Well, CNN can confirm that she has left Libya. From the safe house in Tunisia, she spoke exclusively to us about how she escaped. Nic Robertson reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hiding her face, Eman Al-Obeidy shows how she fled to freedom. For the first time in almost two months, she is calm and happy.

It is eight weeks since she burst into a Tripoli hotel full of journalist alleging brutal rape by Gadhafi's forces. At the same time capturing the world's attention as Gadhafi's heavy handed thugs tried to silence her. Hotel staff put a bag on her head, another pulled a knife. Journalists tried to protect her were beaten as she was led away. She has barely been seen since then.

In a Tunisian safe house not far from the border with Libya, she met with CNN's Halil Abdullah to tell him how she got away.

EMAN AL-OBEIDY, ALLEGED RAPE VICTIM (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We left very normally, of course. I was wearing (INAUDIBLE), it's a traditional tribal headwear (INAUDIBLE) , which was given to me by my friend's mother. I was wearing it and indeed you can't see anything apart from my one eye.

ROBERTSON: Across the room, two defecting Libyan army officers, who made her dangerous escape across the border possible. She explains they took mountain roads and each of the many government checkpoints, the officers using their military identity documents to evade capture.

AL-OBEIDY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Even on the mountain roads when the brigade was stopping us, he was giving his military permit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At night?

AL-OBEIDY: No, it was during the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it a hard road to drive on?

AL-OBEIDY: It was a little hard. There were checkpoints and the brigades. There were checkpoints.

ROBERTSON: Her freedom is already weighing heavily on her, worried about Libyan agents. She is still not sure of her next steps whether it's safe for her to go back to Libya to see her parents in the rebel-held east.

AL-OBEIDY: I still don't know what I'm going to do. Of course, I'd like to see my family. I have called some relatives of mine in Egypt but still did not hear back from them.

ROBERTSON: Her smile belies her confusion. Freedom has never tasted so good. Outside the safe house, diplomats are helping to secure her safety. A French embassy vehicle sent to take her on an eight-hour drive to Tunisia's capital.

(on camera): Since she arrived here at the French embassy in Tunis around midnight Saturday night, Eman Al-Obeidy has dropped out of sight. A source tells us that a diplomatic protection team is helping her. That President Nicholas Sarkozy is taking an intimate interest in her every moment. The lady who came to symbolize the Libyan struggle is now for the first time getting the help she so long craved.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Tunis, Tunisia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: A story of quite a remarkable escape.

Human engineers versus nature's wrath. Officials are trying to prevent American cities from being swallowed by the raging Mississippi River as valuable farmland is sacrificed for a cause. That story coming up with your headlines after this. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN at just after half past nine in London.

Coming up, these are the scenes in the central US. Many in one major city are bracing themselves and hoping the floodwaters will recede. We're going to get you a live update on that coming up.

Plus, love in a disaster climate. Why global events encourage people to reassess their -- or our lives. And --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUGH JACKMAN, ACTOR: I'm going to give up three things. The first thing is my computer, which secretly I kind of love giving up. So, that's not hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Find out what is hard for your Connector of the Day, "X- Men" star Hugh Jackman. He's coming up for you in the next half an hour.

Those stories, of course, are head but, as ever at this point, let me get you a check of the headlines this hour.

Pakistan's prime minister admits his country's failure to identify Osama bin Laden's hideout was a, quote, "mistake." But he says every intelligence agency in the world shares the blame. Yousuf Raza Gilani also calls suggestions that Pakistan was either complicit or incompetent "absurd."

New video is emerging from Syria showing security forces beating on cars. Human rights organizations say the forces are raiding homes and arresting hundreds of people. The UN says its humanitarian assessment team has been stopped from entering the country.

The Italian coast guard and local fishermen have rescued some 500 refugees from the sea off the island of Lampedusa. Their boat was on its way from Libya when it ran into rocks near the island. Some of the passengers scrambled ashore with the help of ropes.

Coptic Christians are demanding Egypt's military government do more to protect them. Weekend clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo left at least 12 people dead and a church in flames. Authorities promising to use an iron fist to ensure national security.

The Cuban government says it will consider allowing its citizens to travel abroad as tourists, but did not give any further details. Currently, Cubans, of course, are not allowed to leave their country without an exit visa, which is expensive and, frankly, complicated to obtain.

All right. The US Army Corps of Engineers is desperately trying to calm the rising waters of North America's longest river after weeks of devastating flooding across eight states.

Well, today, the corps used cranes to open a spillway near New Orleans to divert the raging Mississippi River away from that city and into the Gulf of Mexico.

But it may not be enough. Engineers are already considering opening a second spillway that would intentionally flood some populated areas in order to save others.

A huge section of the United States has been battling torrential rain over the past month. Over one two-week stretch -- get this -- about 600 percent more rain than normal fell on the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. Now, these rivers swell to record levels, spilling over their banks and destroying thousands of homes and acres of farmland.

Well, upstream in Memphis, Tennessee, people are anxiously waiting for the river there to crest. CNN's David Mattingly is there. David, how are things?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this massive flood is taxing flood protections systems to their limit, not just here in Memphis, but all up and down the Mississippi. I had an exclusive interview with the man who is in charge of that system, and he tells me about a grave decision he had to make early on in this flood and why he may have to make it again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Levees blown up, flooding 130,000 acres of rich Missouri farmland. And this is the man who gave the order. But Army Corps or Engineers' Major General Michael Walsh now finds his decision questioned and misunderstood.

MATTINGLY (on camera): In a sense, are you playing God, here? Deciding who gets flooded and who doesn't?

MICHAEL WALSH, MAJOR GENERAL, US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: No, I don't believe that I -- I don't believe that's the case.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Walsh's order to blow the levees did prevent record floodwaters from over-topping levees at Cairo, Illinois. But now we find, that was just the beginning.

MATTINGLY (on camera): Walsh tells me there was so much more at stake, 80 miles of shoreline along western Kentucky on the Ohio River, 120 miles from Commerce, Missouri, down the Mississippi to Helena, Arkansas. These are all areas with levees that could have been over-topped by the rising river, Walsh says, if he hadn't acted.

And when the time came, after consulting with scores of engineers and experts, it was his decision to make and make alone.

So, you're it. You're the top of the chain of command. You didn't have to kick this up to the White House or anybody like that to say, "Hey, we're going to flood a significant portion of Missouri"?

WALSH: Certainly, we keep the vertical chain in alignment and informed on what decisions I make, but the decision, in accordance with the program, is for the president of the Mississippi River Commission.

MATTINGLY: And that's you.

WALSH: And that's me.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And there wasn't much time. Just eight days from an alarming weather forecast to Walsh's worst fears coming true.

MATTINGLY (on camera): How did this affect you personally?

WALSH: Well, certainly I know the -- many of the people who own land there and I've been to their house and I know them personally and I was talking with them, and they understood the difficulty of the decision that had to be made.

MATTINGLY: Was the right decision made? And would you make again?

WALSH: Well, that's a good question and, frankly, we haven't had the time to go back and look at it.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): That's because huge decisions and their human consequences are now looming in Louisiana, where another floodway could soon be opened, flooding communities for miles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And there may not be many other options. General Walsh tells me because of the massive nature of this flood, he is using every tool in his toolbox. Becky?

ANDERSON: Quite remarkable stuff, David. Thank you for that. David Mattingly reporting for you. Watch this space, of course, we'll keep you bang up to date on exactly what's going on there.

Now, still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, lovestruck in Japan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOKO, MATCHMAKING SERVICE CUSTOMER (through translator): Up until now, I've been devoted to work, but it's time to focus on my life. I need to act now, before another disaster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Racing down the aisle in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. But is Japan alone in this post-disaster change of heart? We're going to discuss that, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Into the danger zone. Workers reenter Japan's disaster- struck Fukushima nuclear plant to test radiation levels. Now, that team spent just 30 minutes in the number one reactor on Monday to assess whether or not a ventilation system installed last week has done its job.

Once contamination levels are low enough, work can begin on a cooling system, which will then enable a shut down of the reactor.

Progress may be slow at Fukushima, but the whole crisis in Japan appears have to impelled many people to make haste in their personal lives. Kyung Lah now reports on a post-disaster boom -- let me tell you -- in marriages.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the wake of Japan's historic earthquake and tsunami, amid the devastation, the loss, an unexpected twist in matters of the heart.

Yoko, a 49-year-old makeup artist, is applying with matchmaking service for the very first time to find a husband. The disaster taught her she does not want to be alone.

LAH (on camera): So, does that mean that you feel that life is shorter?

YOKO (through translator): "Absolutely," she says. "Up until now, I've been devoted to work, but it's time to focus on my life. I need to act now before another disaster."

LAH (voice-over): Matchmaker Miyuki Uekusa says Yoko isn't her only client. She's seen a 30 percent jump in business since the tsunami and nuclear crisis.

LAH (on camera): Does this surprise you? Is this something that you were expecting?

MIYUKI UEKUSA, "MARRY ME" MATCHMAKING (through translator): "I didn't expect it," she says. "But the members of my matchmaking service all felt the same fear that they could die. Seeing the sad images on television reminded them of the importance of having a partner in life."

LAH: It's not just people who want to get married, it's also people actually getting married. Multiple vendors in the wedding industry are reporting a boost in business, as well.

LAH (voice-over): A 15 to 20 percent jump in ring buyers, says this wedding and engagement ring jewelry shop. In demand, custom rings, says this jeweler.

KOJI FUJIMOTO, CONCEPT JEWELRY WORKS (through translator): "After the quake," he says, "couples want to create something that commemorates their relationship that they make and hold forever."

LAH: Bride Maki Maruta, trying out her dress for her wedding next month, says she'll walk down the aisle and into her marriage with a new sense of purpose.

MAKI MARUTA, BRIDE (through translator): "The disaster reminded me of the importance of family," she says. "It's so important to have someone who is precious to you."

LAH: Japan's historic disaster, there is no answer to the question "why?" But the country's people are learning they can at least control how they live, and how to seek comfort in each other. Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, that got us thinking. Is this a phenomenon that's unique to Japan, or is -- are we looking at a general trend in the wake of disasters? Well, there is data that reaches back to 1906, the year of the San Francisco earthquake. Marriage rates after that natural disaster almost doubled.

Fast-forward to 1989, when Hurricane Hugo struck the Caribbean and South Carolina. Marriages had been going out of fashion for a decade before the deadly storm. That trend reversed. More babies were also born, but at the same time, the divorce rate went up, which is slightly perverse, isn't it?

And then there are other examples of a post-disaster baby boom, at least. Ten months after the Haiti earthquake, birth rates tripled. And a similar pattern we saw in the wake of the Chile quake.

And finally, statistics also show changes of heart after 9/11. Divorce rates after the terror attack dropped significantly, albeit only temporarily.

So, many major disasters, there, prompting life-changing decisions. Not necessarily just on the people directly affected, but the wider population. Well, relationship expert Judi James joins me in the studio to talk about the psychology behind some of that.

And firstly, let's start with Japan. Are you surprised by the way that people seem to be reevaluating their lives there?

JUDI JAMES, RELATIONSHIP EXPERT: No, not at all. I mean, it sounds macabre, but if you want a man to propose, take him to a funeral. Because it -- any near-death experiences, it puts our lives into context.

And you also get that moment, I think we've all heard of it, which is "my life flashed in front of my eyes." Suddenly, people are able to prioritize and work out, sometimes in an absolute flash moment, who they want to be with, what they want to be doing with their lives.

And most of all, what's most important, so that spreadsheet that you were working on, thinking it was a matter of life and death a half an hour ago, suddenly you're able to put that into context. You think, no, no, it's the person I want to be with. And I can be more spontaneous. It's not -- it doesn't seem so much of a risk getting married or settling down, having a baby.

ANDERSON: And also getting divorced, of course, because I thought it was quite perverse when you see, not only marriage rates going up, I understood birth rates, perhaps, after a thing like Haiti, and we'll talk about that. But divorce rates going up at the same time does sound a bit perverse, doesn't it?

JAMES: Well, not really, because not only do you work out who you want to be with, I think you also work out who you don't want to be with, and that moment when you think, "Who do I want to speak to, who do I want to ring, who should I be spending the rest of my life with?" It may be that you put a big cross on the box of the person you're actually married to.

ANDERSON: It shouldn't be a natural disaster or terrorist attack or anything, really, that makes us do these things, should it?

JAMES: Well, it doesn't have to be that big. As I say, you take someone to a funeral and suddenly they're looking at, "Oh, look, somebody's died, this is an assessment of their life, how many mourners have they got, how many people loved them? Maybe I should reevaluate my own life and start making plans along those lines rather than --"

You know, we're so obsessed with work and business, and things like that suddenly diminish, I think. They become less important when you see what life's really all about.

ANDERSON: And I think Kyung Lah's report very -- put that very well. I mean, people just saying suddenly, "I'm 49 years old, I didn't even think about getting married, and suddenly, here I am, looking for a husband and joining a dating agency."

Birth rates, as well. That's an interesting one, isn't it? I mean, I guess when the electricity goes off, let's be sort of bold and frank here, birth rates go up sometimes. But again, after a natural disaster or something like Haiti, is there a sense that people really want to sort of replace those that they've lost?

JAMES: Well, this is nature taking over, and it happens after wars, it happens after disasters. Whether it's because the reason you said, there's no electricity, the lights go off. But I think -- I like to think that it's nature doing what it's supposed to do and what it does best, which is replacing the stock.

ANDERSON: Are we getting any better? You're -- you work relationships all the time. Are we getting better or worse at the beginning of the 21st century? At running our relationships?

JAMES: I think a lot worse, actually.

ANDERSON: Really?

JAMES: I -- we're tending to get married for the wrong reasons. I think delaying marriage is not a bad thing, but I think we're trying to turn it into a very logical decision. And I think it's also -- it's almost been proven that the harder you think about it and the more logical you are, probably the greater risk you're talking.

I think sometimes people that just think, "We're in love, let's just go for it," often end up with a longer-lasting relationship. So, you're taking something that really is emotional. It's almost a little bit of madness in your life, and you're trying to turn it into something very businesslike, dividing property up, and all that stuff.

It just doesn't work, and we've only got to look at the amount of divorces that go on these days. We're no better. No better than we --

ANDERSON: Free therapy here on CNN, tonight. Judi, always a pleasure, thank you very much, indeed.

JAMES: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Serious story, but one that is an important one as well. Thank you.

Up next, one of the most charming men in Hollywood is your Connector of the Day tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUGH JACKMAN, ACTOR: I dragged Matt Damon and Barbara Walters up on stage, and Matt Damon and I gave Barbara Walters a lap dance. That's a highlight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Hugh Jackman tells me about his career highs and lows and the charity project that is driving him to give up his favorite beverage, at least. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, he's a Hollywood superstar known for his show- stopping performances both on stage and screen. And lately, Hugh Jackman is putting that star power to good use to raise awareness of global hunger.

And while he can't promise to live on a dollar and a half a day, he is promising to give up three things that he holds dear. He told me what they were recently when we met in London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LIEV SCHREIBER AS VICTOR CREED, "X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE": You don't call. You don't write. How else am I supposed to get your attention?

ANDERSON (voice-over): Half man, half mutant. Actor Hugh Jackman clawed his way onto our screens as Wolverine.

(JACKMAN AS WOLVERINE GROWLING)

ANDERSON: Since then, the 42-year-old has become one of Hollywood's most eligible leading men. He took center stage in a multimillion-dollar "X-Men" spinoff and starred with Nicole Kidman in "Australia," an ode to his homeland.

He's been nominated for a Golden Globe and voted "People" magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. But now, Hugh's taken on a new role as an ambassador for the Global Poverty Project.

JACKMAN IN GLOBAL POVERTY PROJECT PSA: Nine years on, 1.4 billion people still live in extreme poverty.

ANDERSON: This week, he's supporting the Live Below the Line campaign, asking you to spend just $1.50 on food and drink a day. I asked him how he first got involved in this.

JACKMAN: What the Global Poverty Project's trying to do is kind of bold and terrific all at once, is eradicate extreme poverty in our lifetime. So, that's people living under $1.25 a day. There's currently 1.4 billion people around the planet doing that.

However, in 1981, it was -- it's halved since 1981, the amount of people, the percentage of people. So, it's possible.

I think I needed education on it. It seemed overwhelming to me. When I met the Global Poverty Project and what they were doing, I listened to their presentation, I went, oh, OK, now I understand it better.

And they gave me practical reasons and solutions for it, and they outlined the three things we need to change. We need for aid, we need to affect trade, and also battle corruption. And I was like, OK, we can do this.

ANDERSON (on camera): All right. Well, will you and the family be taking the challenge of eating on --

JACKMAN: Right.

ANDERSON: -- what was it? A quid a day, here in the UK.

JACKMAN: Yes.

ANDERSON: $1.50, I think, in --

JACKMAN: $1.50 in America, a quid here a day. No. But actually, I'm not shy about saying that. The Live Below the Line challenge of living for a pound a day or two -- $1.50 a day for five days is terrific, and it will give people an understanding of what it's like.

But a lot of people can't do that. I can't do that for my work. I'm just going to do something symbolic, and I encourage everybody, if you can do it for one day, if you can do something else. Invite a hall of people around for a dinner party and have a five-pound dinner party, for example.

I'm going to -- I'm going to give up three things. The first thing is my computer, which secretly I kind of like giving up. So that's not hard. But I'm using that as an excuse, is that all right?

(LAUGHTER)

JACKMAN: The second thing is coffee, which is brutal for me, because I'm fully addicted. The third thing is sugar. Again, brutal, because I'm fully addicted. So, I -- in a way, I probably would prefer the pound a day.

ANDERSON: Do you want me to feel your pain, is that what -- am I supposed to feel your pain?

JACKMAN: Is that all right?

(LAUGHTER)

JACKMAN: Typical actor, I'm winging.

ANDERSON: Listen, talking about the family. How does your wife cope -- or how did she cope with you being voted by "People" magazine in 2008 "Sexiest Man Alive"?

JACKMAN: Well, her fist comment was, like, "Of course, who else would I marry?" And her second comment was like, "Really? Not Brad Pitt?" So - - and then, I think her third comment was like, "All right, sexy boy, take the garbage out."

(LAUGHTER)

JACKMAN: I constantly leave a copy of it on her pillow most nights just to remind her, really, of who she's going to bed with, but it doesn't seem to be working.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: You were, to quite a lot of people around the world, relatively unknown when you --

JACKMAN: Yes.

ANDERSON: -- hit our screens with "Australia," and a number of other movies that you did as well, but with "Australia." But you've been around some time, and you've been an actor for a very long time, and you've been treading the boards for years in theater. What do you enjoy more?

JACKMAN: Honestly? I probably enjoy the theater more.

ANDERSON: Give me your top five, then, best moments in theater and in film.

JACKMAN: I think my -- the very -- I did a show called "The Boy From Oz" on Broadway, and the very last show, and it was kind of crazy, different things happened every night. And then, the last show, I dragged Matt Damon and Barbara Walters up on stage, and Matt Damon and I gave Barbara Walters a lap dance. That's a highlight.

Working with John Travolta, that's a highlight. There's been many, many highlights, but -- and what was the other question? Worse thing?

ANDERSON: Just give me one out of "Australia," then.

JACKMAN: From "Australia," the movie?

ANDERSON: Yes.

JACKMAN: Oh! I mean, that -- we took eight months to shoot that. Six weeks of it, we were in the most remote part of the country that I will never forget. And my son came out with me, he was seven at the time.

And the two of us lived in my trailer, like the caravan. And I went to work. We lit fires every night. There's crocodiles in the -- I kind of -- it was a time I will never forget, really being with him, and he'll never forget it.

He's kind of spoiled for life. He's like, "School? Really? School?"

ANDERSON: Who haven't you worked with that you'd like to work with? And who are you working with next?

JACKMAN: Scorsese, Peter Weir. I've just worked with Spielberg as a producer, I'd love to work with him as a director. There's a number of actresses I won't mention for the sake of my marriage, but -- no.

Next, I'm actually working on "Wolverine." And our director just dropped out, actually, for personal reasons, so I'm looking for a director. So, yes. How about Martin? Scorsese. Come on, Martin. Step up.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: Let's get you some viewer questions. Jurgen Brul from --

JACKMAN: What a great name.

ANDERSON: -- Suriname. Great name. "How will the Global Poverty Project improve our world?" he says.

JACKMAN: Global Poverty Project is educating people around the world to affect policy change. So, countries like England and Australia try -- and America, really trying to galvanize politicians to see that this is an important subject and an important issue for people to try and increase foreign aid, to try and help battle corruption, to help break down barriers in trade.

These systemic changes are going to be massive when they happen. Charity work relatively is a drop in the ocean compared to systemic change, so that's what the Global Poverty Project is trying to do, and I think it's really going to create a movement, a momentum, that's going to light a fire around the world.

ANDERSON: A couple of others from viewers. Somebody's tweeted, IFYChris (ph), "What do you most fear?"

JACKMAN: You know, it might sound trite, but I hate the concept of not doing something because I'm afraid of it. So I'm afraid of fear itself.

I was terrified of heights growing up. And when you're a youngest kid in the family and you're trying to play with all your older brothers who are jumping off the Warriewood Blowhole, which is 60 feet into the ocean, or do roller coasters, et cetera et cetera.

I made myself go down to the local swimming pool diving board and every day, I jumped off the ten-meter diving board until I wasn't scared anymore. And that's kind of who I am as a person.

ANDERSON: @ChrisLVE (ph), tweet name, "What's the craziest thing a fan has made for you?"

JACKMAN: I did once get a wraparound photograph sent to me of someone's house where their entire house had been wallpapered with images of me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Hugh Jackman, your Connector of the Day, speaking to me recently in London. And tomorrow, be sure to tune in for everyone's favorite glee club director. Matthew Morrison is your Connector, perhaps better known as Mr. Schue from the hit show "Glee." He's going to tell us about the project that he's working on outside of the high school classroom.

And if you've missed a Connector of just want to watch your favorites once again, and there are heaps of them, head over to cnn.com/connect to watch highlights and submit questions for those that we have got coming up.

Well, before we go this evening, here on CONNEC THE WORLD, some Parting Shots for you and, tonight, we're marking the birth of Buddha. Now, devotees around the world joined in prayer to mark the occasion, among them Tzu Chi nuns from Taiwan.

Here's Sri Lanka's minister of power and energy taking part in a ten- day retreat in Colombo in preparation for the festivities.

In South Korea, as you can see, the celebrations have been particularly spectacular. Buddhists there paying tribute by staging a ceremony and parade of lights. Not a bad birthday party at all for the religious leader, 2,555 years after he was born.

I'm Becky Anderson, and that is your world connected. Thank you for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory," as ever, follow this short break. Don't go away.

END