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Debating U.S. Troops in Afghanistan; The Road Ahead in Afghanistan; U.S. & Boeing Investigating Dreamliner; International Mummies Tour the U.S.; Police: Savile's Cases of Sexual Abuse Confirmed

Aired January 11, 2013 - 12:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks to you, Ashleigh.

Welcome to NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. I'm Michael Holmes, in for Suzanne Malveaux this week. We're going to take you around the world in 60 minutes. Let's start with what's going on out there. There is plenty.

First, the future of the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan and the security of that country. Afghan President Hamid Karzai having lunch with President Obama this hour. The two leaders hold a news conference in the next hour. President Karzai's visit is going to help determine how many U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after the drawdown in 2014. Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence joins us now live to discuss that.

Chris, the White House, they've floated the idea of a zero option, if you like, leaving no troops behind in Afghanistan. What's the Pentagon think of that? And a lot of these people say that that really complaint happen. Not if you want to keep fighting al Qaeda and use Afghanistan as the base to do so.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would say at this point everything is probably still on the table, Michael. But you're right, that number of zero definitely raised some eyebrows inside the Pentagon. In fact, during a press conference yesterday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the stronger position that we take about staying committed and staying in Afghanistan, you know, that's how we're going to ultimately get a political reconciliation. In other words, he felt that, you know, signaling that the U.S. may pull out all of its troops would weaken the negotiating position if those negotiations with the Taliban ever got started again.

Now, the Taliban, that's been one of their demands, that all U.S. troops leave Afghanistan after 2014. And there are some who feel that the White House floated this idea ahead of President Karzai's visit to sort of, you know, lay the ground work, to get some perhaps concessions on some other issues that are important to the White House. In other words, more of a negotiating ploy.

HOLMES: Yes, a bargaining chip of sorts.

You know, one -- a couple of things. When it comes to this relationship, it has been a tense one on many occasions. Be interesting to know what -- how this meeting goes in that regard. Also, he's the guy they have to deal with, Karzai. He's the only -- he's the only player they really can deal with. But the reality is, he still doesn't run much of Afghanistan in the real world environment. And, also, these lingering allegations, cronyism and certainly corruption, nepotism, all of that hanging over his head.

LAWRENCE: Well, exactly. And, you know, to be fair, President Karzai's brother was assassinated, his father was assassinated. So in some ways he's also trying to stay alive in that country and facing that possibility as well.

It's been a contentious relationship with Karzai over the years. He's had better relationships with some of the generals there, like General Stanley McChrystal, than he has with others. And, you know, I talked with Pentagon officials yesterday who were saying they weren't sure how these meetings were going to go because you just never know when you're dealing with President Karzai what you're going to get.

And, in fact, I even e-mailed a couple days ago some of my -- the folks I met over in Afghanistan during previous trips and they were somewhat concerned, as well, saying they weren't exactly sure what Karzai was going to say while he was here with President Obama because a lot of people in Afghanistan, especially some of the leaders there, still very much want U.S. troops, because they're fully aware that the Afghan forces are not going to be ready by the end of next year.

HOLMES: Absolutely. And certainly they need a lot of money to stay at the levels that they are at now, as well.

Chris, appreciate it, as always. Chris Lawrence there watching things at the Pentagon.

Now, one of the main goals, of course, for the U.S. is making sure that Afghanistan doesn't again become a safe haven for terrorists. The U.S. also wants to see a sovereign Afghanistan that can govern itself, move forward in some measure of security. Let's bring in retired Army General Mark Kimmitt to talk about some of those challenges.

And appreciate you being here, sir.

There's a lot of discussion about these troop numbers, how many should remain at the end of combat operations. You know, these figures from zero up to 15,000. But it all depends on what the mission is, doesn't it? I mean, you know, if you're going to have a narrow counterterrorism option, if you like, then you're going to need some guys on the ground. But do you need 15,000? Zero seems to be really a bargaining chip, would you agree?

GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, I think so. But if you actually add up the numbers that it would take if you want to continue to keep the train and assist mission going, that number isn't unreasonable at 15,000. I think we all recognize we're going to get something between zero and 15,000. But the higher number, quite frankly, may be closer to what is correct than the lower number.

HOLMES: Yes, we're talking about the role then again. How do you see the role of those troops in Afghanistan? President Karzai wants them to focus on that training. U.S. troops, they -- really if they're going to carry out the anti-terror aspect of this, Afghanistan is a good base to do that from. Who's likely to prevail in term of the role of those troops?

KIMMITT: Well, at the end of the day, it's the decision of President Karzai. But I think you and I both recognize, and most military objectively recognize, that the Afghan forces aren't really, truly ready for an independent mission all by themselves without the kind of training, assistance, logistic support and, in some cases, artillery and air support, that could be provided by U.S. and other coalition forces.

HOLMES: Yes. You know we had mentioned this with Chris there. There's -- the visit is very cordial and very official and the like, but the U.S. has had a troubled history. It has been tense between him and President Obama, as well. These issues of nepotism and corruption, I mean, every time I go there, I hear more stories about corruption in particular. What do you make of him as a partner in getting things done?

KIMMITT: Well, it is clear that we've got to understand the Afghan way of doing business and the U.S. way of doing business. And he is, at the end of the day, an Afghan, and so he is going to do whatever he can.

You know, Chris mentioned that not only was his father killed and his brother killed, but his predecessor in the job under the Russians, Najibullah, was pulled out, dragged behind a truck, horribly abused and then hung by piano wire from a traffic light. He certainly recognizes that history of what happens after a country pulls out. And I'm sure that weighs heavily on him.

HOLMES: Yes. And to that point about the corruption angle, a 2010 interview, former diplomat Peter Galbraith said, leaked documents confirmed those concerns, including the claim that President Karzai stole the last election. Just have a listen.


PETER GALBRAITH, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT: It's correctly seen as illegitimate by many Afghans and by people around the world. He runs a corrupt regime. His vice president, according to these documents, had $53 million in cash going to the -- Dubai. There's no legitimate explanation for the vice president of a country running off with $53 million. Another of these documents points out that his half brother is involved in the drug trade. And then there are, of course, the accounts of Karzai himself as being emotional, unstable, suggestions that he uses drugs.


HOLMES: Yes, a lot of allegations there, but I think to the point is that, you know, whether President Karzai can be trusted in a way to run his own country, or is he the only game in town? And regardless of troop numbers, there's going to be billions of dollars needed to run the army that is now being built up by the U.S. and NATO. KIMMITT: Well, that's right. At May at the NATO conference, they pledged to at least 10 years of providing beginning $4.1 billion a year, $2.5 billion of that coming from the U.S. But I think it's important for us to recognize as we criticize President Karzai. We're there for the defense of the United States. As long as there's an existential threat that comes from al Qaeda, as long as Afghanistan has been and could be in the future used as a potential safe haven and sanctuary, which could be used against people of the United States, we're there, we've got to recognize that we're there. There's a reason that we're there. And we've got to do everything we can to remember first principles. We are there for the defense of the American mainland and the American people.

HOLMES: Yes, I've worked what you've got type of scenario. And when it comes to the policies (INAUDIBLE).


HOLMES: Army General Mark Kimmitt, always good to get your thoughts. Appreciate it, sir.

KIMMITT: Take care.

HOLMES: All right, in December, Russians passed a law banning U.S. adoptions. That left hundreds of Americans in limbo wondering what would happen to the children they were already in the process of adopting. Well, now there may be some hope for those people.

It has been one problem after another this week for Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Now the U.S. government's weighing in. we'll have that for you.

Also coming up, it is the first and only exhibition of its kind to ever tour the United States featuring 150 mummies. We'll have that and a lot more when we come back.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

The U.S. and company officials are opening an investigation into the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This announcement coming after a series of problems with the aircraft over recent days. Just today, in fact, oil was discovered leaking from a generator on an engine at an All Nippon Airways Dreamliner. This happened at an airport in southern Japan. There was also the crack that appeared in the cockpit window of another Dreamliner jet which was in flight over Japan.

In Boston earlier this week, takeoff was aborted for a Japan Airlines Dreamliner after a pilot on another plane spotted fuel leaking from the wing. The day before, a maintenance worker discovered an electrical fire on an empty Japan Airlines Dreamliner. It's quite a list.

Chief business correspondent Ali Velshi live in New York.

Ali, yes, it really is quite a list.


HOLMES: The head of the FAA, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, head of Boeing's commercial airlines fleet, announcing this investigation in a joint news conference. What does all this mean for Boeing? It's quite a list, but often new planes have, you know, (INAUDIBLE).

VELSHI: We're trying to make sense of it. You know, I've got a stock chart here. It's not the most sophisticated TV, but you can see that Boeing's stock is down about 3 percent. I just happened to have this in front of me, which is why I'm putting it up. Down 3 percent in the last week, which isn't terrible. I've got to tell you, it's not 10 percent.

So I would say there are two takeaways here. One is Secretary Ray LaHood, the transport secretary, said this morning, he said, "the plane's safe. I would have no reservation in boarding one of these." I agree. I've flown a couple of these. I would have no reservation either.

This is very embarrassing. Richard Quest was just here. You know, he's more of an expert on planes than you and I are. And he said, this is just remarkably embarrassing. This is such an anticipated plane, it took so long to build, there were all sorts of delays in putting it together.

The weird part, Michael, is that there's -- a lot of the stuff is happening with Japanese planes. I don't understand what that's got to do with anything, but it is weird that it was JAL and All Nippon Airlines. United did have a problem earlier with one of these. United's the only carrier, I believe, in the United States that flies these at the moment.

So, I don't know where this comes from. The list is in -- they're not all the same thing. They're kind of different. So unclear what it is. They're going to look at the electrics. They're going to look at the mechanics on these things. But the FAA and the Transportation Department saying it's OK, they're not unsafe, but they've got something they've got to find out about these planes, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, I think the Japan Airlines are the ones that bought the most of them, so probably that's why they're turning up there.

VELSHI: Yes. Right.

HOLMES: I mean it's not going to doom it, is it, I mean from a business sense?

VELSHI: No. No, no, no. There's lots -- first of all, there's lots of redundancies in these planes, so it's not -- you know, planes that don't do bad things. In other words, when something bad doesn't happen, then it doesn't tend to be problem. The problem is that Boeing has 800 of these things on order. So that's where the problem starts coming in if people say, yes, I don't really want this plane. But I will tell you, Michael, this plane is fascinating. The Dreamliner is more highly pressurized than a normal plane because it's made of composite materials so they can pressurize it more which means it feels more like earth, which means you don't feel the effects of flying as much. It's humidified. It's got lighting control. It's comfortable. It's quiet. It's fuel efficient. So people have bought this plane and haven't taken order, they want this to work.

And new plane introductions do take a long time. It does take a couple of years. The problem with this one is it was just mired in problems for so long that more problems make it that much more troublesome.

HOLMES: Yes. And if you get a bunch in a week, even if they are small, it's going to have an impact, isn't it?

VELSHI: Yes. That's right.

HOLMES: Ali, always good to chat, my friend. Looking very dapper, as always.

VELSHI: Thank you. Thank you, sir.

HOLMES: Ali Velshi there.

We've got some news coming into us just in the last moment or so. The Venezuelan vice president, Nicolas Maduro, he said during a news conference in Caracas that he's going to be heading to Havana, Cuba, in a few hours in order to see the president, Hugo Chavez. Now Mr. Chavez, of course, missed his inauguration ceremony yesterday. And he's in Cuba having treatment for cancer.

One of the big mysteries of this is nobody really knows exactly what sort of cancer, exactly what the condition of his health is. So it's interesting that the V.P. is going over to see him at the moment. There's been several other Latin American leaders popping in over the last day or so as well. Keeping an eye on that.

All right. Not all mummies are kings or queens from Egypt. A rare collection of mummies, including children and animals as well, is touring America. We're going to talk to the tour's producer when we come back.


HOLMES: The largest collection of mummies in the world is touring America at the moment.

The exhibit had 150 human and animal mummies, everything from a monkey -- you see there -- dressed in a feathered skirt -- as one does -- to a 6,400-year-old mummy of a child, also a woman sitting in a crouch just before her death.

All very bizarre, isn't it?

Joining me now is Marcus Corwin, who is the producer of the Mummies of the World exhibit. You know, when you think about mummies, perhaps the ones that come from Egypt leap to mind, but this has mummies from all over the world. How did it all come together?

MARCUS CORWIN, CURATOR, MUMMIES OF THE WORLD: Well, that's right, Michael. You know, most people when they think of mummies, they think of Egypt and Iraq (ph). But mummies come from all over than the world, some intentionally and some accidentally due to the dry climate or a crypt or a cave.

We became aware of a collection of mummies in a museum in Germany and -- that was found in 1994, known as the German Mummy Project. And we contacted the museum back in 2008 and we're very fortunate to create the largest exhibition of real mummies and related artifacts ever assembled.

We have 21 loaning organizations, museums in seven European countries, that loaned us this collection to bring this to tour the United States.

HOLMES: You know, and for a lot of people, it would seem all very macabre. But what do we learn from mummies?

CORWIN: Well, it's amazing. You know, through this -- through modern science tools, we're able to learn about ancient people's civilizations. When people see Mummies of the World, they want to know who are these people, where do they come from, what can they tell us? You know, inside every mummy is a story waiting to be told. And Mummies of the World tells many stories.

You know, we are able to tell the age, the sex, how they lived, how they died. It's really an amazing exhibition. You know, unlike Hollywood myth, these mummies aren't come out and get you. In fact, they're awesome. It's just a breathtaking exhibition.

HOLMES: Yes, that's what you say. What's your favorite?

CORWIN: Well, you know, we have the youngest infant ever on display, known as the Detlan (ph) child. This is a 6,420-year-old infant, radio-carbon dating, which is what scientists use to date it -- 3,000 years older than King Tut.

And what's interesting about this mummy, it's a natural or what you would call accidental mummy from Peru, South America, such a beautiful, beautiful specimen, still has all of its hair, its facial expressions, its toenail, its fingernails, a very, very popular mummy.

We also have the Orlovits family. This is a mother, father and son. Michael, Veronica and Johannes Orlovits. You know, these mummies were found in a church in Budapest during the 18th century. The whole town got decimated what was then known as the white plague. And they were quickly deterred (sic) under the floorboards of a church.

In 1994, while they were renovating it, the church floorboards popped open. And due to the cool dry area under the floorboards, they were naturally mummified. Now what's interesting about these mummies is they were able to be studied. And scientists using ancient DNA were able to determine what was then known as the white plague is tuberculosis.

And by studying them we learn how these kind of disease went from Europe to the Americas.

HOLMES: Yes, fascinating stuff. Marcus, thanks for that. Marcus Corwin there, producer of the Mummies of the World exhibit. Appreciate your time.

CORWIN: Well, thank you very much, Michael.


Well, he was a beloved icon in Great Britain, but now the life of Jimmy Savile is a source of national grief. Officials released a report on Savile's sex abuse.


HOLMES: Well, the worst has been confirmed in an investigation of one of Britain's most famous TV and radio stars, the late Jimmy Savile. Police say he sexually abused hundreds of people and carried out more than 30 rapes, this taking place over several decades.


JIMMY SAVILE, BRITISH TV/RADIO STAR: That's right. Here we go for the (INAUDIBLE) right now.

HOLMES (voice-over): You may not know his face here in the United States, but from the '60s to the '80s, Savile was a fixture in British homes as families sat down to watch "Top of the Pops" or children's shows like "Jim'll Fix 'Er." As his star rose, he raised millions of dollars for children's hospitals, his work earning him a knighthood back in 1990.

But it turns out Savile was a predatory child abuser, who even abused children in hospital wards, on one occasion in a hospice. Victims and witnesses have all come forward now years later.

KARIN WARD, SAVILE VICTIM: He asked me for oral sex. And I didn't want to. And he promised me that if I gave him oral sex, that he would arrange for me and my friends to go to the television center and be on his television show.

JUNE THORNTON, FORMER PATIENT, LEEDS GENERAL INFIRMARY: Jimmy Savile come to a young lady, sat in the chair -- unfortunately, this lady, I think, had brain damage, because she just sat there and he kissed her. And I thought he was a visitor coming to see her.

And he started rubbing his hands down her arms. And then -- I don't know of a nice way to put it, but he molested her. He helped his self and she just sat there and couldn't do anything about it.


HOLMES: The details of his sex abuse crimes are vile, as you heard there. Matthew Chance is outside London's Scotland Yard, joins us now.

No, you're back in our studio, I think now, back in our London bureau. Matthew, prosecutors admit that they could have brought him to trial before his death in 2011, but failed to do so.

Why did they hold off? What's the background that's revealed in this report?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's an interesting question because there were obviously a number of opportunities that the police and the prosecutors here in Britain had to hold Jimmy Savile to account, to bring to justice before he died in 2011. But they didn't do that.

The CPS, the Crown Prosecution Service, the prosecutors here, have essentially gone out and apologized for that, saying that, you know, essentially too much caution was used by the police when they dealt with the complaints they received, first of all, back in 2007, partly because of the sort of aura of celebrity around Jimmy Savile.

And that aura is something that he's managed to -- he managed to hide behind over this long sort of career of abuse.

The report sort of identifies the real extent of this with the figures that it reveals. Between 1955 and 2009, more than half a century, the police have now documented 450 complaints against Jimmy Savile. And 214 of them have been recorded formally as cases of abuse, including 34 rapes.

The diversity of the victims as well is quite notable in the sense that the age diversity is quite a lot, the youngest victim 8 years old, the oldest victim 47 years old. It wasn't just, you know, one gender, either.

According to the report, 82 percent of the victims were female, obviously the rest male. And so, you know, extraordinarily diverse cross-section of victims in all ranges of sort of environments that Jimmy Savile managed to abuse.

HOLMES: Yes, and as you say, really harnessed that culture of celebrity and, in many ways, was protected by it. You know, he was closely involved, of course, with the BBC, the venerable British broadcaster, because he was their big star for, what, 40 years or so.

What has happened at the BBC as a response to all of this?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, there's been, you know, a real scandal at the BBC. There's been all sorts of internal inquiries as to, you know, how this could have happened over the decades during which it happened.

There's been a review of the editorial procedures inside the BBC because it's emerged that a program which was meant to identify some of these allegations against Jimmy Savile was effectively killed by senior management, editorials management at the organization.

The suspicion was that it was to make way for a tribute that was to air about how Jimmy Savile was a great, you know, fundraiser for charity and things like that.

So it's been an extraordinarily difficult period for the BBC as well, as well as for the other organizations at which Jimmy Savile undertook this abuse.

HOLMES: Yes. And indeed some of the cases did happen at the BBC. Just terrible stuff. Matthew, thanks so much for bringing us this report. Really has been a huge story in Great Britain.

We've got some good news now for some American couples in the process of adopting Russian children. A control Russian law banning adoptions by Americans, signed by President Putin just last month, will not be put into place for one year. It was supposed to take effect this month.

Now what that means is this: some of those adoptions can proceed.