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Underwear Bomber Gets Life; Honduras Fire Toll Rises to 382; UN Takes a Vote on Syria

Aired February 16, 2012 - 16:00   ET



On the verge of a symbolic vote, live pictures of the U.N. General Assembly prepared to have its say on a resolution against the violence in Syria.


FOSTER: Allies Russia and China vetoed the previous resolution at the Security Council. Tonight, we'll ask the former advisor to President Yeltsin what will it take to get them on board.

Also ahead-


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will be in London this week to reassure journalists that he's going to look out for them, that he won't be hung out to dry. I doubt if they will believe him.


FOSTER: A former news international editor tells CNN of fears that Rupert Murdoch is sacrificing his journalists as the media mogul flies in to tackle the latest crisis.

And you've heard of flash mobs, but what about cash mobs? The craze that's helping independent stores throughout the U.S.

First, we could be just minutes away from the United Nations strongest statement yet on nearly a year of deadly violence in Syria. (INAUDIBLE) a General Assembly vote on an Arab-sponsored resolution - it would be non- binding but supporters say it's important to send Syria a message. The regime so far has been immune to international pressure. Its continuing attacks on opposition strongholds including (INAUDIBLE) pounding the city for the 13th straight day. Opposition activists say at least 70 people were killed on Thursday across Syria.

Let's go straight to senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth now for the very latest from the General Assembly.

Richard, when do you think we'll have this vote?

RICHARD ROTH, SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could be sometime in the next hour. But U.N. procedures and lengthy speeches are delaying proceedings. This resolution sponsored from Australia to Turkey to Bahrain and Denmark will have huge condemnation for the nation of Syria for its actions. It's really rare that the General Assembly meets during a crisis and has such a widespread regional nature to the attack on one U.N. member country. It doesn't always happen this way.

Syria has just delivered a very stirring speech as its done in several appearances at the U.N. over the last few months during this crisis. The ambassador's saying this resolution is going to be biased, it's going to send the wrong signal to extremists. He accused many of the Western sponsors of this resolution as helping to create the crisis inside his country by supporting armed groups. He says the opposition to the Assad regime should be peeled away from these extremists and then a true dialogue should take place. Russia, which vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council less than two weeks ago, has favored a dialogue in person.

The opposition is not in favor of that saying there's got to be the absence of Assad at the helm in Damascus. The vote is expected still some time in the next hour or so. Other members of the U.N. including Venezuela are now explaining their vote which has not happened yet as far as we know. Back to you, Max.

FOSTER: Richard, thank you. Back to you as soon as we get the result.

Now, some diplomats say Russia and China have Syrian blood on their hands by vetoing two previous resolutions in the U.N. Security Council so let's talk more about how Russia may vote today.

We're joined by Alexander Nekrassov. He's a journalist who once served as Kremlin advisor when Boris Yeltsin was president.

Thank you very much indeed for joining us.


FOSTER: How'd you think Russia might vote in the next hour?

NEKRASSOV: Well, if you look for this draft resolution which is on the table, it is a very tough-worded resolution and it's still basically a one-sided resolution.

FOSTER: Too tough for Russia?

NEKRASSOV: Too tough for Syria and for--.

FOSTER: Too tough for Russia to vote for?

NEKRASSOV: Well, what I'm saying is that at the moment, the debates are still going on so it's difficult to see how it will go. But what I - what I'm implying here is that when you look at the document, even if you look at the sponsors of this document, some of them probably shouldn't be there at all.

FOSTER: Give us some examples.

NEKRASSOV: Well, looking through the list - Bahrain, Saudi Arabia - I'm not going to go further than that. They're not really beacons of democracy so for them to start producing that sort of language and saying "(INAUDIBLE) you must provide democracy for the people" doesn't really sound right. And another thing, you just mentioned some diplomats say that Russia and China have blood on their hands. Now, they're implying basically that Russia and China are encouraging violence which is exactly not at all the case.

FOSTER: I'll tell you what they're implying. They're implying that if Russia and China had voted with the U.N. Security Council, there would be action now which would prevent it. There would have been action sooner which would have prevented the loss of life we're seeing right now in Syria.

NEKRASSOV: Yeah, but those same diplomats should accept that if there was no Libya and we have seen what happened in Libya when such a resolution was passed. Now, Libya is in a mess. It basically is civil war which nobody is (INAUDIBLE) about. So that in mind, the decision was made to block it. And also, don't forget, that if Russia and China would have gone along, Assad and his regime will have found themselves boxed, desperate. We would have seen even more people dying. So I don't think that somebody can say things like that with Russia and China have blood on their (INAUDIBLE).

FOSTER: Mr. Nekrasso, we're going to come back to you in just a moment. Do stay there because we want to watch a video now as we show viewers the consequences of Syria's determination really to crush this uprising. (INAUDIBLE) CNN's Arwa Damon managed to sneak into Homs visiting a makeshift clinic in a brutalized neighborhood. I will warn you (INAUDIBLE) has some graphic images.


ARWA DAMON (VOICE-OVER), HOMS, SYRIA: On the horizon, thick smoke bellows from a sabotaged gas pipeline. This is the war zone that Homs has become. We are in Baba Amr, a neighborhood that's endured constant shelling, where civilians are killed and wounded everyday.

A 30-year old male lies on the brink of death after shrapnel hit him in the head.

DAMON: He had brain matter that actually came out of the wound last night.

DAMON (VOICE-OVER): "I couldn't really do anything for him", Doctor (Muhammad) says. "I just stitched him up to keep the brain matter in and inserted a tube. It's actually a nasal tube to suction the blood. He will die if he doesn't get out." Doctor (Muhammad) is one of only two doctors here. His specialty is internal medicine. The other doctor is actually a dentist.

36-year old (INAUDIBLE)'s arm is attached by a few muscles only.

"I just went out to take out the trash. I thought that the shelling had quieted down," he recalls, "I had hardly stepped out the door when I heard a massive sound."

The father of three tried to get his wife and children out of the area but he says government forces turned them back. In a weak voice, he reports, "We are begging all countries in the world: Please get involved."

(Muhammad Nur) also tried to escape but wasn't allowed through the checkpoints. He says he was hit by a (INAUDIBLE) after running to help those wounded in a rocket attack in front of his house.

DAMON: The doctor is just saying that this is a patient that has to get outside of Baba Amr within 24 hours or else his leg most definitely is going to need to be amputated. And the doctor was also pointing out how, at this point, you can smell the rot coming from the wound. This patient has been lying here like this for four days now.

DAMON (VOICE-OVER): The feeling of helplessness in the face of such suffering is overwhelming.

"We've lost all feeling." (Muhammad) says, "There is no value to life. The rockets just rained down."

Doctor (Muhammad) can't hold back the tears. "This is the case that survived," he says, "most cases we get like this, they die within an hour or two because we can't do anything for them."

DAMON: This is how they have to move around just a short distance to get from one location to the other where they have the patients.

DAMON (VOICE-OVER): Six patients were killed in this building after a strike. The shelling is relentless.

What they have had to do because the clinics keep getting targeted is try to distribute the patients around so they have a number of houses in the vicinity where they also have these makeshift clinics as well.

In what was the living room, one man groaned as he shows as his wound. Next to him, another patient struggling to speak as well. He initially traces the shape of a tank on the wall and then communicates through crude drawings.

(on camera): This here is (Ahbad) and he's been drawing, trying to explain to us what happened because he's in so much agony he can't speak. He is one of the cameraman who goes out, risks his life all the time. It's some of his clips that we constantly see posted (INAUDIBLE) even broadcast and he's been drawing two tanks and explaining how he was moving down the street across from them when they fired at him.

His - he's also got a severe head injury. His skull has been cracked and the nurses' just saying that he's suffering from internal bleeding as well.

(voice-over): Lying in the room nearby, 19-year-old (Ahboudi) is barely hanging on, wounded when the clinic was hit a few days ago. Among those treating him is 27-year-old (Noura) who like (Ahboudi) is a volunteer. There is a team of 20 volunteers now on the medical frontline after just 15 days of training.

"I swear to you, he's just a youngster", (Noura) cries, her voice filled with anguish. "He came here to help people and now he needs help."

No one is equipped to deal with the scale of the casualties - an average of 60 wounded a day not to mention the rising death toll.

"These are humans," (Noura) says, her voice trembling, "they are not stone."

And all they want to know is how many - how many have to die before some sort of help arrives.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Homs, Syria.


FOSTER: And we're very sorry to tell you the teenage boy being treated by medics at the end of this story has since died from his wounds.

Attacks like these against Syrian civilians have outraged much of the world. But Syria's government has repeatedly maintained its fighting arms' terrorists including Al Qaeda - a statement that seems hard to believe after seeing reports like the one from Homs.

Now, recent suicide bombings though in (INAUDIBLE) in Damascus have raised suspicions that Al Qaeda is getting involved. Yesterday, the U.S. Spy Chief said those attacks did have all the earmarks of Al Qaeda. He believes the terror group has infiltrated Syrian opposition forces. Activist groups have said they want no help from Al Qaeda insisting it will not highjack the people's revolution.

Let's bring in our guest for some - for some thoughts on this.

I know that you're concerned about the arms going into Syria, arming both sides and the opposition isn't as clean as perhaps Western countries think.

NEKRASSOV: Well, the concern is that arms are coming from all over the place and I think that the United Nations might have called on all sides to stop supplying arms to all sides in the country because their (INAUDIBLE) have been a practical step in trying to somehow curtail the violence. And I also think that in 11 months or more than 11 months of this conflict, I don't really see the United Nations really going in and really trying (INAUDIBLE) to negotiate some sort of settlement. And in a sense, we are with the same crisis of the international mechanism of creating conflicts and wars.

FOSTER: Well, the alternative argument to that is that Russia is part of the United Nations and there was a progress in the Security Council because it was Russia that slowed it down. It wasn't the mechanism. It was Russia and China that stopped progress.

NEKRASSOV: Well, Russia and China vetoed that resolution not because they wanted violence to continue. There were -

FOSTER: So it has continued because of the resolution?

NEKRASSOV: The violence would continue anyway. The violence would continue anyway and if there was (INAUDIBLE) with the resolution, also the regime would have realized they have law breaking. That's it. That's the end. And you would have more violence, more bloodshed, because at least - at least there was an opportunity, a chance, for Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to fly in there and to talk to him and to reason with him and there was a sort of weak initiative coming from (INAUDIBLE) saying, "No, we can't do a referendum." Of course it was - at that time - a weak move but at least there was an attempt made to let diplomacy work. Okay, it didn't work out. But again, an attempt was made. What we are witnessing now, this resolution or business non-binding. So there would be a different sort of approach from all the parties involved and some people, some countries, they would be voting for knowing that it's not really a (INAUDIBLE) case resolution.

FOSTER: And there's a (INAUDIBLE) going to be interesting and North Korea's currently speaking. It could go on and on but we're told we'll get a resolution next hour. Give us a sense of the talk in Moscow right now because the (INAUDIBLE) and diplomacy around the Middle East is a big topic right now. Do you feel this plays into a bigger story, this isn't necessarily about Syria?

NEKRASSOV: Well, the - sort of privately, officials in Russia are discussing the scenario where the West and some are Arab countries are actually targeting Iran.

FOSTER: So this is about Iran.

NEKRASSOV: Yes. As a long--.

FOSTER: It's like Syria's an ally.

NEKRASSOV: And if Iran is cut-off from his main ally in the region, Iran will be seriously weakened by that and that's one point of it. The other point - and I've met (INAUDIBLE) expert - a Middle East/Russian expert in the Middle East and he said that the Arab spring is seen as a disappointment rather then the good development because the regime changed that was anticipated. It's not exactly where I'm seeing the democratic forces. I'm thinking "Oh, we'll just look at Egypt" for example and the problem is what initially was forked as a positive development is now turning into quite a nasty development--.

FOSTER: I do want to (INAUDIBLE) you. Okay, Alexander Nekrassov. Thank you very much indeed for the Russian perspective.

(INAUDIBLE) the currently speaking of the U.N. General Assembly. After all these speeches are done, we'll get the votes and it will be a significant, symbolic vote at least.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

Still to come - Israel accuses Iran of targeting Israeli diplomats abroad. Now police in Thailand say they've uncovered new evidence Iran was behind the bomb plot there.

A parade honoring North Korea's late Supreme Leader send a message about the future and. And a win tonight Thursday night (INAUDIBLE) lead.

All the details about sports updates ahead when CONNECT THE WORLD continues.


FOSTER: U.N. General Assembly still debating a resolution which will be voted on in the next hour we think on Syria. We understand actually Richard Roth at the U.N. that the vote is beginning.

ROTH: The vote is beginning. We think this is going to be - as you can see - with the diplomats pushing the button. It's going to be an electronically-recorded vote on a big board to the right of your screen shortly when you'll see it and we're expecting under the rules that the resolution would pass under a majority vote. They just announced that a dozens of other countries have just signed on, Max, to be co-sponsors of this resolution in addition to the other couple of dozen. So we think this resolution is certainly going to pass. Let's listen as the voting takes place here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Confirm that their votes are accurately reflective on the board. The voting has been completed. The machine is locked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The results of the vote is as follows: In favor - 137. Opposed - 12. Abstention - 17. Point of order, I recognize the representative of Burundi.

REPRESENTATIVE OF BURUNDI (VIA TRANSLATOR): I do apologize (INAUDIBLE). You locked the voting mechanism before I was able to vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should approach the secretariat please. I'm sorry that that's happened and we will make sure that your vote is recorded. Draft resolution A66/L36 is adopted. We shall now proceed to explanations of vote after adoption of the resolution. Before giving the floor to the speakers in explanation of vote, point of order? Point of order? Yes, please. Sorry, I can't see. I recognize the representative of Kyrgyzstan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tried to vote but it doesn't have--.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, I offer the apologies on behalf of the secretariat services - conference services. We seem to have a similar problem. You should approach the secretariat and we will register that. Could I also recognize Comoros on a point of order?

FOSTER: Some breaking news for you coming into CNN. The United Nations General Assembly has voted on a resolution which condemns human rights violations in Syria, has called for an end to violence. It was a vast majority of countries voted in favor but there were some abstentions and some voted against and the rest of technicalities being dealt with this at this point but the vote has been carried by such a wide margin. It is a symbolic vote really. It's not binding on the ground. It doesn't make a huge amount of difference on the ground but it does send a very, very clear international message to Syria that what's going on in that country has been condemned by the international community. What we really want to find out now is who voted against. It will be interesting to see where Russia voted, where China voted. Non-binding votes but have they softened somehow? Did they abstain on this particular vote? The suggestion is that they voted "No." But it's interesting to see who those "No" votes were from and the abstentions as well.

We have been speaking to a Russian expert who says this isn't a hugely-important vote. Lots of people will be voting knowing it's non- binding so it's not hugely significant and won't make a difference. But actually, it does give a very clear message to Syria on this day.

We're going to a quick break. By then we're going to bring in Richard Roth. He's been analyzing the figures for us and would be telling us exactly where China and Russia put their votes this time around.


FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN, the world's news leader, taking you straight back to the United Nations General Assembly where there has been a U.N. vote condemning Syria. It's non-binding but it's a very strong message. They voted this way: 137 votes in favor of the resolution, 12 against, 17 abstentions. Trying to work out for you where China and Russia voted.

The United States' state department making very clear that this resolution demands an end to the cycle of violence perpetuated by Assad's regime in Syria. The resolution also demands the release of all prisoners seized arbitrarily during the demonstrations in Syria. And the resolution also demands safe access for monitors, media, and aid workers to Syria. But it's non-binding so Syria doesn't have to do as it says here but it does give a very clear message. Just so you know, there's some technicalities being ironed out here at the General Assembly but the vote has been passed because it was by such a wide margin. 137 votes in favor of this resolution.

Other stories we're following for you - a Thai police official says a group that set off explosions in Bangkok intended to strike Israeli diplomats. Israel accuses Iran of plotting the attacks as well as others in India and in Georgia. Bangkok police say one bomb blew off the leg of an alleged attacker who was found with Iranian documents. So far, two suspects have been arrested and charged. A third suspect was detained in Malaysia and faces extradition.

At least six people were killed when a school bus collided with a truck outside the Palestinian city of Ramallah. Five of those killed were students. Dozens more were injured when the bus overturned and burst into flames. One witness called the accident the most terrible thing he'd ever seen. A Palestinian Authority President - the Palestinian Authority President, rather, Mahmoud Abbas declared a three-day mourning period.

Life in prison for "Underwear" bomber Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab. He was sentenced today in Detroit in Michigan. AbdulMutallab pledged or pleaded "guilty" to smuggling a bomb aboard a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. The device failed to detonate as planned but burned AbdulMutallab and six passengers made statements to the judge before the sentence.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD - a new scandal shakes Rupert Murdoch's world. Why a former Murdoch editor says the man at the top has a lot to lose. We'll have full coverage next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've had enormous sick leaves. We broke in taboos. We changed lives.


FOSTER: Playwright (INAUDIBLE) on her battle to get abused women to speak out.

And from flash to cash - how this internet craze is giving struggling shopkeepers a boost.


FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN. Time now for a check of the world headlines for you.

Just minutes ago, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning the deadly crackdown in Syria. The measure is non- binding, but supporters say it's an important message to the Syrian regime.

Richard Roth is at the United Nations. So, as expected?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT: Well, generally as expected. The German ambassador to the United Nations just telling reporters this is a strong message, an overwhelming one, to the Syrian authorities, we won't let -- the message is, we won't let the Syrian people down.

But of course, this resolution does not included the threat of any military force or involvement. During these UN crises and international large-scope affairs, sometimes things take time, despite months of the violence, at least to get a large amount of countries onboard to do anything.

Nobody wants to always send troops in. This is a much more, according to the experts, volatile situation in Syria, an unsettled situation, unlike in Libya.

The vote totals in the United Nations General Assembly, 137 in favor of this resolution, which condemns the Syrian authorities, 12 against, including China and Russia, I believe, and 17 abstentions. A very similar count, Max, to a UN General Assembly vote in December denouncing the human right situation in Syria. So, it passed, it passed by the majority required under the rules.

Next step? Well, there's talk of humanitarian corridors being established, but that might -- that's tricky. Syria has to approve, according to some countries, such as Russia.

There's a big Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis later this month where supporters of doing something about Syria are certainly going to strategize and plot, and then we'll probably learn some more next steps after that, Max.

FOSTER: You mention Russia and China. Only two votes in a very large vote, but actually the crucial ones, and sticking to their guns.

ROTH: Yes. The Russians again saying that they believe dialogue is best with the government and the opponents. The trouble is, the Syrian government thinks they're outside extremists who are part of the trouble there, and they would like to peel off the opposition from the opponents, the extremists.

The Syrians also want Assad gone before there's any dialogue. This resolution implies that Assad should step aside, because in the text of this resolution, it calls for Syria to adopt the Arab League latest peace plan proposals.

The Arab League met just a few days ago, and they still would like a Syrian-directed peace transition process, which is murky, tricky jargon, but the implication is that Assad would have to step aside. Maybe not leave the scene completely.

But of course, for such an autocratic, hardcore rule by one man and a small cadre of tight officials, that doesn't seem likely, despite this large, overwhelming vote inside the General Assembly, New York time on a Thursday rainy afternoon, here.

FOSTER: Any sense, Richard that the Syrian representatives there will in any way be swayed by this vote?

ROTH: No. In his explanation of vote and in earlier comments, he didn't think the vote should even take place, said it was a violation of UN rules, it would open the door to other mistakes by the UN, that the meeting was held under three different titles. All UN-type of jargon.

The point is, he thought -- he wanted to block this meeting from occurring, but he lost in that. And he thinks it's a biased resolution, he told the General Assembly, and one that will send the wrong message to extremists, he says, that are fighting his government.

FOSTER: Richard Roth at United Nations, thank you very much, indeed. We're going to speak to Arwa Damon, who's in Homs in Syria, now. Arwa, I guess it's a positive message, but it's non-binding, it's not going to make any difference, probably, to the operation on the ground where you are.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's just the issue, Max. This group of activists I'm with, yes they had it on television in the background, but they weren't even paying that close attention as to what took place.

They all kind of looked up, acknowledged that the resolution had passed, and then went right back to exactly what it was that they were doing.

And all of them unanimously agreed that this resolution was not going to change anything and, perhaps, more importantly, it was only going to buy the Assad regime more time. It doesn't authorize the type of aggressive action against the Syrian government that they want to see take place. And at the end of the day, it is not going to stop the killing.

We just got back from a makeshift bunker in one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods. There are around 300 people living there, many of them women and children, and just about every single person who we spoke to had lost a loved one to the violence here.

These are people who are unable to get to hospitals. We met a woman who had given birth just the day before inside this bunker. And these are people who need to see significant action, the type of action that is going to stop the violence and stop the shelling that has been raining down intensely in specific neighborhoods in Homs for almost two weeks now, Max.

FOSTER: They're not going to get the action they want, essentially, are they, from the United Nations if things continue as they are? Because again, Russia and China voting against this, and they'll vote again, probably, at the Security Council if it came up again.

So, what do Syrians hope for right now? Where is their -- best hope? Because it's obviously not the United Nations right now.

DAMON: Well, at the end of the day, Max --


DAMON: -- their best hope -- their best hope is going to be with some sort of intervention. Something that is going to stop the violence. But everyone who we're talking to also unanimously is beginning to realize and agree on the fact that they're probably going to have to go through this entirely on their own.

It's been almost a year, now, as many of them point out. And nothing has really changed. The violence has only intensified, they've only come under more fire by the government, and there's very little real hope that the international community is going to be able to do something, and people are in such despair, I don't even know how to put it into words.

Again, at this bunker, they were pulling us in every single direction because everybody had this story of someone who had died, and everyone is asking the question of what it is -- what is it that the international community is waiting for to take aggressive action against the government?

What is that magic number? What is the death toll that has to materialize on the ground here for the world to really rally and do something that is actually going to make a difference?

We're talking about an unknown number of people who have been displaced from their homes, having to live in the most abysmal conditions imaginable. There are significant shortages, and anything --


FOSTER: OK, Arwa Damon in Homs for us. Obviously, technical problems there, but we got most of the message, and we appreciate her joining us, but no great excitement, it has to be said, from Syria on that vote, even though it was so clear, and it carried such a great majority.

We're going to have more on this coming up on CNN, and more, also, on Rupert Murdoch's trip to the UK.


FOSTER: This hour, media mogul Rupert Murdoch is due to land in the United Kingdom, and the whole world wants to know -- know about him, and here's why.

The chairman of News Corp is taking charge of the crisis at the top- selling tabloid, the "Sun." He's expected to tell a furious London staff, "I've got your back" after several senior journalists were arrested this month after alleged illegal payments to public officials. And back in the US, News Corp faces a renewed threat of prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

It's a critical time for Murdoch for other reasons, too. Britain's Leveson Inquiry into media ethics hauled Murdoch and his son, James, before a parliamentary panel last summer, and it's still asking questions over the phone-hacking scandal that shut down the Murdoch's Sunday money-spinner, "News of the World."

An outcry erupted over revelations that some "News of the World" journalists had allegedly hacked the voice mails of crime victims, including a murdered school girl. Senior International Correspondent Dan Rivers takes a closer look at the shadow on the "Sun."



DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First, it was phone hacking. Now, the latest media scandal is about cash for stories and whether Rupert Murdoch's journalists illegally bribed police officers and other officials for information.


RIVERS: The police have recently launched dawn raids on five journalists from the "Sun," the Murdoch-owned sister tabloid of the now- defunct "News of the World," which was closed amid the phone-hacking scandal.

TREVOR KAVANAGH, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE "SUN": This is utterly disproportionate. It is out of control when you have the biggest police operation in the country, in its history, even bigger than the Lockerbie bombings -- the Lockerbie Pan Am bombing, and 171 police on this operation and expanding almost daily.

RIVERS: But the lawyer who led the phone-hacking action against News International thinks the police may be right to heap resources on this new, growing scandal.

MARK LEWIS, LAWYER FOR PHONE-HACKING VICTIMS: We don't know how much people have been paid, and we don't know what they've been paid for. So, it's too early to say that that is a disproportionate thing.

RIVERS: Some journalists think buying stories can be justified, among them, Paul Connew, formerly of the "News of the World."

PAUL CONNEW, FORMER DEPUTY EDITOR, "NEWS OF THE WORLD": Paying for stories is part of journalism. Paying or recompensing -- there are various ways of paying -- public servants as a public interest, it happens, and I would defend that.

LEWIS: I think we can draw a line and say, well, payment of police officers for story can never be justified.

RIVERS: But what's caused such consternation at the "Sun" is that journalists' contact books and expense records have been handed over to the police by News Corp's management, working with dozens of US attorneys.

GEOFFREY ROBERTSON, QC, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: The American lawyers are coming over here to drain the swamp. Well, there's certainly some dirty water in "News of the World," but the danger is, you throw the baby out with the bath water. You throw out the right of journalists to protect their source.

RIVERS: Most agree, protecting journalistic sources is vital for stories in the public interest.

RIVERS (on camera): The problem, as always, is defining what's genuinely in the public interest, and what editors think is simply interesting to the public.

Dan Rivers, CNN, London.


FOSTER: Just to clarify something that we said earlier. Britain's Leveson Inquiry into media ethics is entirely separate from the parliamentary panel where the Murdoch's appeared before, and they volunteered to appear before it, they certainly weren't hauled before it.

But two giants of the journalism world join us tonight. Carl Bernstein, who helped break the Watergate scandal, of course, will talk to us live from New York in just a moment, but first, to one of Rupert Murdoch's former leading editors.

I spoke to Andrew Neil a little earlier, who says that basically Rupert Murdoch is hanging his journalists out to dry. I started by asking when it comes to alleged payments and the "Sun," does this bring up the wider issue of press freedom versus ethics?


ANDREW NEIL, FORMER EDITOR, "SUNDAY TIMES": I think all journalists have got to ask themselves is, is what they're doing in the public interest? Is this something that powerful people are trying to stop getting out and the public has a right to know?

And I think if that's the case, then sometimes you have to cut corners, sometimes you have to pay people to give you information. Sometimes you may even have to break the law in the cause of the greater good.

And if it is in the public interest, and you're a decent journalist, you have to be prepared to do all of that.

FOSTER: Hasn't this always been the case, though, where we take the worst examples of payments for inappropriate stories? Everyone in the industry generally would agree that that is inappropriate, it's breaking the law unnecessarily.

NEIL: Well, it's not become clear, particularly in Britain, because tabloid journalists have been on the rampage, and they have done stories that are not in the public interest, they're simply in the interest of the public.

And it isn't legitimate to break the law or to pay for sources or to do all sorts of other things simply if you want to find out who some Hollywood star happens to be dating next.

FOSTER: You have a unique insight into Rupert Murdoch's mind. You were very close to him when you worked for him. What would his view on all of this be? Would he have found these inappropriate payments completely unacceptable?

NEIL: Rupert Murdoch had a tabloid view of journalism, probably still has, that you do whatever it takes to get the story. The end will justify the means. You've got to destroy the competition. It doesn't matter what you do, if you get the story and the story's true, we publish it.

FOSTER: When it comes to payments and the "Sun," where is he going to draw the line? Because if some of these reporters are found guilty of what the police are investigating, it is going to be unacceptable in this country. So, how's he going to define himself on that story when he meets the "Sun" journalists?

NEIL: This is for Rupert Murdoch no longer about journalism. This is about defending News Corp, his American-based parent company, from judicial action and investigation in the United States.

At the moment, it looks like he's prepared to sacrifice the journalists and journalism in London to do whatever it takes to be seen to be cleaning up his act there so that it will play better in the United States.

And the consequence of that is quite amazing. The "Sun," which is the most loyal newspaper Rupert Murdoch has ever owned, believes it's now being hung out to dry, and the "Sun" journalists are turning against him.

He will be in London this week to reassure journalists that he's going to look after them, that they won't be hung out to dry. I doubt if they will believe him. Because the penalties for what his newspapers are being accuses of in London are huge under the Corrupt Practices Act in the United States, and News Corp matters a lot more to him than any of his newspapers in United Kingdom.

FOSTER: He may argue he can't be held responsible for any crimes that are very low-level. He's got a huge company, thousands of staff. But would you argue that there's a civil war somehow breaking out in the -- sort of the British branch of his business?

NEIL: You create a climate in which people think it's all right to do certain things, and I would argue that Rupert Murdoch, with his take-no- prisoners attitude to tabloid journalism, the end will justify the means, do whatever it takes, that created the kind of newsroom climate in which hacking and other things were done with impunity on an industrial scale.

FOSTER: I want to ask you how the business will change by the time he's flown out, or at least the plans for change. What would have changed in his British businesses?

NEIL: I doubt there will be much change. There will be soft words from Mr. Murdoch, reassuring words that they're not handing over names of sources, that they're not really being hung out to dry, that there's not a witch hunt.

This was a company that was very, very closely held together. Nobody ratted on anybody else. Suddenly, there is ratting happening all over the place, and I think when he flies out, not much will have improved from before, except he will still have to ensure, with America his main concern, that his British arm is doing everything possible to mitigate any legal action and investigation that he could now face in the United States.

His company is already under investigation by the Justice Department, the FBI, and the SEC in New York. They're all waiting to see what London comes up with first, but they're there in the wings, they're a far bigger danger to Rupert Murdoch's business interests than phone hacking.


FOSTER: Andrew Neil. Well, critics charge Rupert Murdoch has also been a political king-maker for years, with influence behind the door at Number 10 Downing Street, for example. Could this make him feel untouchable? How did he know and what did he know and when did he know it?

That's going to sound familiar to our next guest, who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, no less. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein joins me live from the CNN bureau in New York. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. First of all --


FOSTER: -- where are you coming from on this? Do you agree with Andrew Neil's analysis of this?

BERNSTEIN: I think Andrew's hit all the major points correctly. This is about Rupert Murdoch and the low-level journalistic institutions that he created, the standards and lack of decent journalism at those newspapers in the United Kingdom that are his standards that he has brought with him throughout his career.

And then, he has gotten into more polite society by buying up more exalted titles an establishing very revered institutions within the news business, and at the same time, he is now being consumed by his own values that really have defined what his news operation has been in the UK and to some extent in the United States.

The hacking is indicative of the culture that he created. Paying for illicit information, really, all these journalists ought to be protected because there is a sacrosanct principle about protection of sources, and a lot of time, terrible journalists or people who call themselves journalists invoke this principle, as we're seeing now.

But to give up the principle because of gutter standards such as Rupert Murdoch has instituted in the UK would be a terrible sacrifice. What ought to be sacrificed are, in fact, some of these terrible institutions that he created and that operate with his long-overdue to be gone values. And they're being cleaned up because there's an implosion.

FOSTER: We don't know -- obviously, the cases that we're talking about here at the "Sun" haven't been proven in any way, but the sense we're getting is that the "Sun" is being hung out to dry. That's certainly what Andrew's saying.

But if there were illegal goings-on, then surely the chief executive of the company has no choice but to go in and clean it out, no matter whether he set up the system or not.

BERNSTEIN: Well, look. There's -- you just made the proper equation. Because this is a system that Rupert Murdoch set up. These are his values that the "Sun" has practiced. Let's not kid ourselves about it any more than the atmosphere in the Nixon White House was about his aids and underlings.

This has gone so far that, really, it looks like his son, James, is going to go to the wolves in this and, perhaps, face criminal charges.

Rupert Murdoch is now trying to protect himself and his control of the institution that he created, this large, huge, enterprise that is News Corp, and also is a reflection of his genius as well as his gutter instincts from his old-fashioned take-no-prisoners-style of journalism.

It's both a tragic story and a story of real corruption. Institutional corruption, moral corruption of a journalistic institution. It's fairly obvious what has happened here.

And at the same time, we need to protect the principle of protecting our sources. Is it proper to pay people for information? There are circumstances, such as if you're in Bosnia and you say to somebody, "Take me to the mass graves, I want to see the mass gravesite."

Is it permissible while following the royals around to say, "Here's 100 pounds, tell me what the royal family was doing last night?" No. But at the same time, these bums ought to be protected along with those who practice real journalism.

But it's really ironic that the greatest threat to freedom of the press in Great Britain today and around the world today, perhaps, has come from Rupert Murdoch, because of his own excesses.

FOSTER: Carl Bernstein, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. And we should note that there haven't been any criminal charges against people at the "Sun" just yet, or convictions, at least, and certainly none made against Rupert Murdoch. But certainly his values are being questioned today. We'll be back in a moment.





FOSTER: There's nothing like a good old flash mob to brighten up your morning commute. Across the globe, groups of strangers are being brought together in seemingly random locations to dance, sing, or just act crazy. Even advertisers are now involved, with this flash mob taking over one of London's busiest train stations.

But now, it's not just the big brands that are cashing in on the craze, as Ted Rowlands explains.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These people on a Cleveland street corner haven't been told where they're going. They're part of a "cash mob," following instructions from Facebook and Twitter to show up and look for the guy in the funny-looking hat.

ANDREW SAMTOY, CASH MOB ORGANIZER: All right, everybody come on in.

ROWLANDS: In a few minutes, the cash mob takes over Big Fun Toys, an independent toy and gift store.

STEVE PREISSER, BIG FUN TOY STORE: I'm honored. This is -- how can you not be happy? This is wonderful. I mean, look at my store. It's -- this is great.

ROWLANDS: The cash mob concept is simple. People come together and each spend at least $20 at a local business.

BRIDGET FOGARTY, CASH MOB SHOPPER: I think it feels great. I definitely want to tell more people about it and have them come out again to the next one.

SAMTOY: It's been really, really shocking, inspiring.

ROWLANDS: The guy with the hate is Cleveland lawyer Andrew Samtoy. His cash mob idea came last September after his city and others had trouble with flash mobs that were getting out of control. In some cases, like this surveillance video shows, people were taking over small businesses to steal.

Andrew's first cash mob was at this book store. About 40 people showed up.

DAVID FERRANTE, VISIBLE VOICE BOOKS: It brought a whole new crowd to me that I did not have before.

SAMTOY: If this ends up being an integral part of some sort of shop local movement, then I would be very happy with that. If it fizzles out in six months, we did our best.

ROWLANDS: It isn't fizzling. In fact, it's exploding, starting with Andrew's Facebook friends, who organized cash mobs in their cities.

LISA GILMORE, LOS ANGELES CASH MOBS: The whole idea behind cash mobs is taking charge and really saying, you know what? I'm going to make a difference. I'm going to go do this.

SAMTOY: What we're doing is not only spending money at a locally- owned store that gives back to the community, but we're also putting people in a situation where they're meeting each other face to face, and they're building a community.

ROWLANDS: About 60 people took part in the cash mob at Big Fun Toys, spending about $1500 in just over an hour.

PREISSER: It's been really tough for us. So it's nice. This is the shot in the arm that we all need, and it's great. It's wonderful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Receipts are in the bag.


ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Cleveland.


FOSTER: Cash mobs. Possibly coming to a city near you.

I'm Max Foster, thank you for watching. The world headlines and "BackStory" are up next.