CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
The White House wants a vote at the Security Council Thursday, no later than Friday; Air Force Tests New Bomb
Aired March 11, 2003 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, HOST: You may not have noticed anything about today's date, but about 3,000 families don't have the luxury of forgetting. Today is exactly 18 months since the attack of 9/11. These markers may come and go, noticed or not, but the legacy is all around us whether we realize it or not.
It sometimes seems that almost everything we do as a nation today is influenced by that horrible day 18 months ago. Though Iraq had no known involvement in the attacks, 9/11 is a large part of the reason more than 200,000 American men and women are waiting to invade Iraq.
A judge here in New York today ruled that Jose Padilla, an American citizen, has the right to meet with a lawyer. He's been held as an enemy combatant for nearly a year. Setting aside the right or wrong of that, it remains hard to imagine that any American citizen could be held without a lawyer, without charges, without the presumption of innocence, without the right to see a judge, without the right to make a case.
Eighteen months ago, that would have seemed impossible. Today, it seems like a part of our new normal, the way our lives have gone. Eighteen months ago, our world changed. And today, in ways large and small, many of us feel less safe, less secure, and less free. It is a lot to lose in a year and a half.
On to the news of day. It begins again with Iraq, as we expect it will for some time to come. We begin at the White House, and our senior White House correspondent John King. John, a headline.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, "enough is enough" is how the president's national security adviser put it in a radio interview tonight. The White House wants a vote at the Security Council Thursday, no later than Friday. It fully expects to lose, courtesy of a French veto, and is already planning of what comes next, including a U.S. ultimatum. One last ultimatum from President Bush to Saddam Hussein -- Aaron.
BROWN: John, thank you. Back to you at the top tonight.
On to the United Nations, and intense pressure on the undecided nations from all sides. Richard Roth with the latest on the diplomacy. So, Richard, a headline.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: The calm before the vote. The British look for a compromise. Iraq says it's all about oil, and 28 countries worry about war and the future of the U.N. in an exchange of speeches -- Aaron.
BROWN: Richard. A story from the Pentagon tonight that's heavy on shock and awe. A test of a massive bomb. Jamie McIntyre on that. Jamie, a headline.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, the test is of the newest, biggest, baddest U.S. bomb, and it may never be used in Iraq, but yet Pentagon officials hope it may still have a devastating effect on the Iraqi military psyche -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jamie, thank you.
And a big development in the scandal that hit the San Francisco Police Department. Rusty Dornin covering that. Rusty, a headline.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, just a week after sweeping indictments toppled San Francisco's top cops, the city has its police chief back. But the city's police department may still be in hot water -- Aaron.
BROWN: Rusty, thank you. Back to you and the rest shortly.
Also coming up tonight on NEWSNIGHT, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger joins us to help guide us through the diplomatic maze of the moment. Also Winston Churchill. You heard it right. Winston Churchill, the grandson in this case, who has a very personal perspective on Iraq, its history and its future.
And our first report with the troops. Tonight, we will meet some of the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne, as they wait for a possible war with Iraq. That is "Segment 7" tonight. We have a lot to do.
We begin with the diplomacy and the war planning. One or the other is likely to bear fruit. There are, it seems, an almost endless string of negotiations going on. The president calling foreign leaders whose votes he wants. That's out there and that's public.
More quietly, it seems there is a negotiation of some sort going on with the British as well. How much of a compromise to offer? How many days or weeks? At some point, the interests diverged and there was at least a suggestion today that that day is drawing near. We begin with our senior White House correspondent, John King.
KING (voice-over): Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's presence for a morning meeting on the war plans underscored the White House message.
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president thinks that there is a little room for a little more diplomacy, but not much time. Any suggestion of 30 days, 45 days is a non-starter (ph).
KING: The White House wants a Security Council vote this week and is willing to push its March 17th deadline for Iraq to fully disarm back only a few day, a week at the most. The president once again worked the phones looking for support, lobbying leaders with three Security Council swing votes: Angola, Chile and Mexico. Mr. Bush also compared notes with two key European allies, prime ministers Aznar of Spain and Burlusconi of Italy. France has promised to veto any resolution, clearing the way for war through a blunt White House response.
FLEISCHER: It is too risky to have a laissez faire attitude about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. This is a real problem, because the resolutions at the United Nations call for immediate and full disarmament.
KING: Congress gave its blessing to war in Iraq five month ago, but some leading Democrats now say Mr. Bush is in too much of a rush.
SEN. ROBERTY BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: In many corners of the world, the United States is seen as manufacturing a crisis in Iraq, not responding to one.
KING: The U.S. deployment now tops 225,000 troops. And sources tell CNN that CIA Director George Tenet's daily briefing to the president now includes an assessment of the risk that U.S. forces and embassies in the region will come under terrorist attack in the event of war.
Now this is an advanced copy of tomorrow's White House talking points on Iraq, and the pessimism and frustration is quite clear. In this document, the White House says the peaceful disarmament of Iraq now appears less and less likely. It says a vote against the resolution the U.S. wants at the Security Council is a vote to let Saddam Hussein continue his games. And it also says in the final words that the president will disarm Iraq with or without the United Nations -- Aaron.
BROWN: Well, one question on the table tonight is, will the president disarm Iraq with or without the British? Because there was at least the suggestion today that the British may not go.
KING: Secretary Rumsfeld caused that impression at his briefing. He said he not yet received a final commitment from the British for just how their troops would be involved, if there is a war. The secretary later issued a statement backtracking a bit, saying he hadn't received that commitment only because the debate is still ongoing at the United Nations. And that he fully expects the British to be there at the end.
That is the view and what we are being told tonight by senior White House officials as well. But just the suggestion that the British might not be involved caused a ripple here in Washington. Perhaps around the world as well. And if nothing else, it is a reflection of the enormous pressure Tony Blair is under at home.
BROWN: Well, and there is at least talk over there that, absent the resolution, he can't legally take his country to war. What are the -- forget the -- set aside the military. What are the political complications, if any, for the president, if the British aren't there?
KING: Well, the political complications are enormous, because then we would be back into a debate, where many would say this is the United States going alone. The White House would say, not true. Spain is on board, Italy is on board, Australia is on board. The Gulf nations are allowing the use of their military bases at a minimum.
So the White House would say not true. But certainly if Tony Blair were to walk at the last minute, that would be devastating to President Bush. Officials here say it will not happen. They draw the analogy of when the Clinton administration, with Tony Blair's help, launched a military action in Kosovo without a resolution in the Security Council. No resolution back then because of the same dynamic, Russia and France said no.
So the United States and Britain went and Tony Blair was there. In that case, White House officials also tell us, Aaron, that the president is so frustrated with U.N., he would prefer to just give up and have a vote. But the reason he is going forward with this last- minute diplomacy, hoping to get a majority for the resolution event if the French then veto it, is to help Tony Blair with his delicate political situation at home.
BROWN: Thank you, John. John King at the White House tonight.
There is, we understand, a certain Groundhog Day quality about all of this. Each time we go to the United Nations, we hear something similar. Arm twisting is going on, there are pleas from the non- aligned countries to the permanent members to agree on something. There is back and forth over what the inspectors have proven or failed to prove.
Lately, it has not been so much about big decisions as small hints. At the U.N. for us, CNN's Richard Roth.
ROTH (voice-over): A frustrated British ambassador, Jeremy Greenstock, stared at Iraq's ambassador during a public debate on the crisis. He also doesn't have the votes yet for a resolution which threatens force by March 17th. Russia's U.N. ambassador was beaming (ph). The veto threat by Russia and France forces the British to seek modifications to woo support.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The United Kingdom is in a negotiation, and it's prepared to look at time lines and tests together. But I'm pretty sure we're talking about action in March. Don't look beyond March.
ROTH: But some undecided members of the Security Council want to hold off on military action and give inspectors at least a month to test Iraqi cooperation.
ISMAEL GASPAR MARTINS, ANGOLIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We hold a small key. There are those countries which hold big keys. We are pleased that we also have a small key that can make a difference in opening or closing the door. I hope that our key is one which opens the door for the diplomacy.
ROTH: To break the deadlock, the British and Spanish supporters search for compromise language with uncommitted Council countries. The objective is a resolution which tells Baghdad certain weapons- related tasks it must accomplish before a deadline, currently March 17th. In an open debate on war and peace among non-Council members, Canada, a leading proponent of a compromise amid the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) powers, asked for more time.
PAUL HEINBECKER, CANADIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The Council should set a deadline of three weeks for Iraq to demonstrate conclusively that it is implementing these tasks.
ROTH: But mixing disarmament with deadlines for use of force annoys some veto-holding nations.
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The January resolution, which contained ultimatums, and which contains (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for the use of force, is not acceptable.
ROTH: Iraq's U.N. ambassador said his country was cooperating with the U.N. and faced a attack for its oil.
MOHAMMED ALDOURI, IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO U.N. (through translator): My delegation through you calls upon the international community to prevent a catastrophe.
ROTH: New compromise language by the British may be introduced tomorrow, but it may not be enough with the U.S. pressing for a vote this week. The resolution may not have enough votes, especially with some vetoes waiting at the end of road. And perhaps an omen outside the Security Council today, Aaron. They were unwrapping a gift from (UNINTELLIGIBLE), a dodo bird, the extinct bird that could not fly. A gift from (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Historians say the impact of the dodo bird is really to highlight man's impact on an environment -- Aaron.
BROWN: Well, I guess you can see that all sorts of ways, can't you? Do we know -- do we know the nature of the compromise? How many days, how many weeks, how many benchmarks? Do we know?
ROTH: One U.N. official said if there is a compromise that could be agreed to, it could extend by 10 days. Again, passed March 17th. And the compromise language would revolve around those disarmament tasks, and those tasks that Iraq could do easily and some that are going to be very tough. Things like interviews with Iraqi scientists outside of the country, cooperation and evidence on anthrax, sarin gas, to prove that Iraq once had it and perhaps is hiding. Very difficult stuff to showcase and prove in a short amount of time.
BROWN: Richard, thank you. I suspect we will go through this all again tomorrow night, too. Richard Roth at the U.N. tonight. We said at the top you can a signal any number of different ways. This one was unmistakable, which might be the tamest way of describing a weapon designed to kill hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in one shot. From the Pentagon tonight, CNN's Jamie McIntyre.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): The MOAB carries 18,000 pounds of high explosives. And on impact, creates a 10,000-foot high mushroom-like cloud that looks and feels like a nuclear weapon. The new bomb is an upgrade of the Vietnam-era daisy cutter, a 15,000-pound bomb originally designed to clear vegetation and create an instant landing zone for helicopters. More recently, it was used to kill and demoralize al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
Even if the MOAB is never used in Iraq, the Pentagon admits it could still pack a psychological wallop.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious, that there's an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight.
MCINTYRE: MOAB is short for Massive Ordnance Air Blast, but it's picked up the nickname mother of all bombs. At 21,000 pounds total weight, it's too big to be carried by most planes. So for now, it can only be dropped by a modified C-130. And unlike its predecessor, which was dropped by parachute, the new bomb has a state-of-the-art satellite guidance system. It's technically not ready for combat, but like the predators armed with hellfire missiles, it could be pressed into service before it's fully tested.
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Anything that we have in the arsenal, anything that's in almost any stage of development could be used. We did that in Desert Storm (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We can do that with capabilities here.
MCINTYRE: Now one practical limitation of the Massive Air Blast bomb is it can't really be used in heavily populated areas because of the U.S. goal to minimize civilian casualties. But it could be used, Pentagon sources say, if, say, a Republican Guard division was isolated in the desert. It could be essentially obliterated with a single bomb, sending a very strong message of intimidation to the rest of the Iraqi military -- Aaron.
BROWN: Well I think they did that today. There was today also a military training tragedy here in New York. What can you tell us about the helicopter that went down?
MCINTYRE: It seems all too often we are adding a postscript about a training accident that has claimed more lives than recent combat. This one involved a Black Hawk helicopter from Fort Drum. Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division flying in a three-helicopter formation. The helicopter crashed today. There were 13 people on board. Two soldiers were evacuated to a nearby hospital. Eleven were killed in that Black Hawk crash. And of course too early to know exactly what happened -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jamie, thank you. Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon again tonight.
And ahead on NEWSNIGHT, Iraq by the numbers. The latest poll results showing Americans lining up more in support of a war with Iraq than two weeks ago. We'll also talk with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about what the United States needs to get the rest of the world on its side.
BROWN: If the test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in mind without going mad, then congratulations. We're a nation of Einsteins tonight. According to the latest polling, a slim majority of Americans now say they would support a war without U.N. approval. In other words, by the 17th of the month. But a slim majority also says inspectors should be given more time to do the job.
So what to make of this? CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider joins us tonight from Washington to sort out what seems to be a screaming contradiction.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: OK. Well, Aaron, Americans are now saying, very simply, let's roll.
The latest poll you referred to by "The New York Times" and CBS News does show a majority of Americans, 55 percent, endorsing U.S. military action in Iraq without U.N. approval. Now, in the past, Americans have said they were unwilling to go without a new U.N. mandate. President Bush argued at his press conference last week that Iraq is a threat to America's national security. Americans accept that as a good and sufficient reason to go to war, not oil.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): You see the message at anti-war protests in Iraq, Australia, France, as well as Denver and Washington. Why do people all over the world believe this is all about oil? Well, duh. Doesn't Iraq have the second largest proven oil reserves in the world? Doesn't the U.S. consume a quarter of the world's oil? Aren't George W. Bush and Dick Cheney oil men?
STEVE KRETZMANN, INSTITUTION FOR POLICY STUDIES: If McDonald's, the world's largest consumer of potatoes, were to announce in advance that it was going to buy Idaho, and that that purchase had nothing to do with potatoes, what would you think?
SCHNEIDER: Some Democrats running for president insinuate that it's all about oil.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This administration, as Ralph Nader said, is marinated in oil.
SCHNEIDER: That's ridiculous, says the Bush administration.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: The issue is not about Iraqi oil. If the United States had wanted access to Iraqi oil, we could have dropped our whole policy 12 years ago, lifted the sanctions, and let Saddam Hussein have his weapons of mass destruction.
SCHNEIDER: After all, there is plenty of oil available elsewhere in the world. And more Iraqi oil production would drive down price and profits.
JIM PLACKE, CAMBRIDGE ENERGY RESEARCH ASSOCIATES: Oil companies don't have a habit of investing in oil production that drives down the price of oil.
SCHNEIDER: The oil industry wants stability.
PLACKE: It's better to have a stable price in a reasonable range.
SCHNEIDER: And war is the ultimate instability.
PETER HARTCHER, AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW: The oil industry wants oil, but they don't want to have to go through a war to get it.
SCHNEIDER : There's a reason why the rest of world readily accepts the idea that this is a war for oil. They have not heard any other convincing airport. The American public rejects the idea by two to one. Have they heard a more convincing argument? Yes, 9/11.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: September the 11th should say to the American people that we are now a battlefield.
SCHNEIDER: But is 9/11 the real reason why the Bush administration wants this war? You know recent books by Bob Woodward and David Frum suggest that the administration had decided to confront Iraq long before 9/11. The real motivation, some analysts say, is idealism. For years, neo-conservative intellectuals like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, figures of great influence in the Bush administration, have been promoting the idea of a new world order based on the predominance of American power.
But you know, bold agendas like that really make Americans nervous. Americans have no ambitions to dominate the world. They just want to feel safe -- Aaron.
BROWN: Bill, thank you. Bill Schneider in Washington tonight.
Dr. Henry Kissinger is with us. He doesn't need much of an introduction, so we'll just leave it at that. It's good to see you, sir.
HENRY KISSINGER, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: Good to be here.
BROWN: Imagine yourself -- I think that you can do this -- imagine yourself in the Oval Office and the president of United States says, Henry, do I take the chance of losing the U.N. vote just for the sake of going through the exercise? What's your advice?
KISSINGER: I would say make the nation's vote. Because, by now, all the talking has been done. All the arguments have been made. And we might as well see where the nations come down on.
BROWN: He says, do I -- should I compromise more than I already have? Do I run the risk of looking weak, both domestically, and to the Iraqis? What do you say?
KISSINGER: I would say the only argument now to make, any of its maneuvers at the United Nations, is to have a friend like Tony Blair. That there's no compromise that can be made now, where among the compromises that are being proposed, that would make the slightest difference in the outcome. Because whether there are -- it's another week delay, or whether there is a criterion being put down for disarmament, Saddam has had 12 years to disarm.
He's had six months under Resolution 1441. The progress that Blix is mentioning is almost entirely procedural in one category of weapons that has a range of maybe 100 miles. The fundamental weapons, the weapons of mass destruction, no progress whatever has been made in the six months that Resolution 1441 has existed. So I think whether there is another week given or not, if it gives great comfort to Blair, and Blair wanted it, I would tell the president to look at it.
But at this point, I think the fundamental issue has to be confronted. And I think that this is a direction the president will go. That's what I would do if you asked me.
BROWN: Well let's talk about this from a different direction. I think we may have -- sometimes I forget whether we have talked about something on the air or off the air. How much damage has this caused to the institution of the United Nations?
KISSINGER: Well, here -- we had the option, which is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) not remembered. The president could have said under Article 51 of the United Nations charter, which actually defines the right of self-defense, we could have said that the threat of weapons of mass destruction in a region from which terrorism comes in the hands of country that has actually used them is to eliminate these weapons as essential for our security.
He, in a respectful world opinion, went to the United Nations by general procedures. A unanimous Security Council vote was passed demanding that Iraq disarm and give an honest accounting of the weapons they had. They say they have no such weapons. And there has been no progress that anyone except U.N. inspectors can find, because most of the progress, as I said already, is procedural.
So I think that the president has shown great respect for the United Nations. Now it will do great damage, but there's going to be enormous reluctance to go back to the United Nations on other issues.
BROWN: Is the United Nations then fundamentally changed today from what it was 10 months ago today? Will we forever or for a while look at it differently than we had?
KISSINGER: Well, it's a weird situation when countries like Guinea, Cameroon and Angola, far removed with small populations, suddenly become the subject of visits by the French foreign minister, appeals from the president of the United States, on a matter that the president and American public considers is essential to American security. And that one says world opinion is defined but this relatively small group of nations. And one has to redefine for oneself what one really means by the Security Council under these conditions.
BROWN: But to their credit, it has seemed to me that many of them at least have said, in one way or another, this really isn't our decision to make. You all, Americans, British, French, German, Russians, Chinese, work it out.
KISSINGER: Yes. Chile had said that, and I think that's a very good argument. But it's really putting too much pressure on countries that would just as soon not be in that position.
Now, among the big countries, among the veto-carrying members, one could make an analogy of the reasons why each country is taking the positions that it is. And not all of them are directly related to Iraq.
BROWN: There are always other issues. When all is said and done, do you think there is any chance the country will not go to war before the end of this month?
KISSINGER: Unless Saddam resign, retires, which there's maybe the slight chance that that exists, is being prevented in part by the behavior of some of our allies and Russia. Unless he resigns, I think there's no chance of avoiding war.
BROWN: Always good to see you.
KISSINGER: Good to be here.
BROWN: Thank you. Dr. Henry Kissinger here with us tonight.
Coming up on NEWSNIGHT, another twist in the San Francisco police scandal. The district attorney throws out indictments against the city's top cops.
Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: When we think of the scandal involving the San Francisco Police Department, there's one fact we cannot get out our heads. It all started with a fight over fajitas, 10 police officers, including the top brass, accused of covering up a brawl involving off-duty cops and those contentious fajitas. The city's DA even compared the scandal to Watergate. But, today, he conceded that he had overreached with that comparison, and more.
Once again, here's CNN's Rusty Dornin.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): District attorney Terence Hallinan was gung-ho when San Francisco's top police brass were first toppled by indictments. But over the weekend, Hallinan says he changed his mind, at least about the police chief and his second in command.
TERENCE HALLINAN, SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We request to strike the names of Earl Sanders and Alex Fagan from count five of the indictment.
DORNIN: The indictments stemmed from a grand jury investigation of an alleged cover-up by command officers after three off-duty cops were accused of beating up two men over an argument involving fast food. The three off-duty cops were charged with assault, seven other command officers charged with a cover-up, including the chief.
EARL SANDERS, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE CHIEF: Innocent, Your Honor.
DORNIN: Sanders' attorney says the chief is relieved, but the harm's been done.
JOHN BURRIS, ATTORNEY FOR SANDERS: And the great reputation that he had beforehand certainly has been irreparably damaged, if you wanted to be fair about it. But, at end of the day, he will always able to say, these charges were dismissed and they were dismissed because there was insufficient evidence.
DORNIN: Insufficient evidence that Hallinan said obligated him to dismiss charges.
HALLINAN: And if you go to trial with somebody who shouldn't be on trial, you weaken your case. But more than that, it's ethically improper for me to do something like that.
DORNIN: But some are wondering why only the indictment against these two was dismissed. According to transcripts released through "The San Francisco Chronicle," the DA told the grand jury there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute any of the command officers. Now the others will be back this Friday to ask for the dismissal of the charges against them.
Police watchdog groups hope that won't happen, but applaud Hallinan's decision to step back.
VAN JONES, BAY AREA POLICE WATCH: We have an ethical DA who brought charges against 10 officers. He's taking eight to trial for a cover-up, corruption and brutality? That's a good day in San Francisco.
DORNIN: A good day for San Franciscans at this point might be an end to what many are calling a fiasco. Meantime, San Francisco Police Chief Earl Sanders is out on medical leave for high blood pressure, but could return at any time. Perhaps now that this major part of stress of his life is over, it'll be sooner rather than later.
But, of course, questions still remain about the city's police department and those have yet to be played out in court -- Aaron.
BROWN: And part of the problem is, setting aside the leak to "The Chronicle" on the grand jury minutes, we don't really know precisely what it was these people are accused of. Is that correct, still?
DORNIN: Well, the indictment involving the police chief and the second in command did involve the reassignment of what was called an overzealous investigator. And, at that point, the DA said that he just didn't feel that he had a strong enough case. But he feels, on the other officers, that he believes were closer to the cover-up, he believes he does have a case that he can take to court.
BROWN: Well, Rusty, thank you, a busy day out there in San Francisco -- Rusty Dornin.
A few stories to fit in tonight from around the country, beginning with James Kopp, the man accused of murdering a doctor who performed abortions. Kopp is waiving his right to a jury trial. He is now asking a New York state judge to decide his case instead. Kopp confessed to shooting the Buffalo, New York, doctor Barnett Slepian, but says he did not mean to killer him, only to injure him.
The latest on the shuttle Columbia investigation: The Columbia Accident Board today raised the possibility that unusually strong winds a minute into the flight weakened the shuttle's left side. The question is whether the wind made the wing more vulnerable to damage when some debris came out off about 80 seconds into liftoff.
More dire predictions from U.S. Airlines today: A group representing the airline said they may have to slash 70,000 more jobs. And annual losses could total nearly $11 billion industry-wide if there is a war with Iraq.
And we note a passing tonight. The longest winning streak in women's college basketball history has ended. No. 1 Connecticut lost tonight to Villanova. It's Connecticut's first loss since the end of the 2001 season, 70 winning games in a row.
Still to come on NEWSNIGHT: congressional controversy. A Virginia congressman makes inflammatory remarks about a possible war with Iraq.
And the man who made the map of Iraq as we know it today, Winston Churchill -- we will talk with his grandson.
This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BROWN: And next on NEWSNIGHT: Winston Churchill on his grandfather, who created the Iraq we know today.
A short break first.
BROWN: Somebody once said, the ordinary British sentence is a noble thing. That somebody was being modest. We doubt he wrote an ordinary sentence in his life. Safe to say his grandson has not either. Try this one: "My grandfather invented Iraq." His grandfather was Winston Churchill. So is he.
And like his grandfather, Sir Winston Churchill is a journalist, a former member of Parliament, a historian, and somebody who can hammer writing words into fighting wars. He recently wrote a piece on Iraq for "The Wall Street Journal" that is one part the history of his grandfather's role in creating Iraq and one part rallying cry for reshaping it today.
Nice to see you. Thanks for coming in.
WINSTON S. CHURCHILL, GRANDSON OF PRIME MINISTER WINSTON CHURCHILL: My pleasure.
BROWN: Take 30 seconds or so and just explain, literally, I guess, how your grandfather changed the map of the Middle East back in -- 1921?
CHURCHILL: In 1921, he chaired a conference in Cairo in his capacity as British colonial secretary. And out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, which was allied with the Turks, who had been the allies of the Germans, he created Iraq, Jordan, and delineated for the first time the political boundaries of Biblical Palestine.
BROWN: And just a question or two about that. Was he -- as he went through the course of his life and saw the beginnings of what we now think of as the modern Middle East, did he have any regrets about the maps that he drew?
CHURCHILL: Well, in terms of Palestine, as it then was, he was absolutely firm in his belief. He counted himself a Zionist. He believed that Palestine should be a home for the Jews, but not to the exclusion of the Palestinians.
But he also had a great regret that he had allowed himself to be persuaded, against his better judgment, not to create a fourth country, Kurdistan. And the Kurds have had the dirty end of the stick from the Iranians, the Iraqis and the Turks, who dominate them today.
BROWN: I was intrigued by this notion that back in -- just after the end of World War II, he presented this notion of a preemptive war, not unlike the notion is being presented now relative to Iraq. But in his case, he was talking about the then-Soviet Union. CHURCHILL: He was talking also about the fact that the United States was about to lose her monopoly of the atomic weapon. And he said, we cannot allow things to jog incompetently along. We must bring matters to a head and seek a final settlement with the Soviet Union before they have the bomb.
BROWN: In other words, that's a very nice way of saying, with due respect, if you continue make the bomb, we're going to blow you up before you can, because that's what he was suggesting, correct?
CHURCHILL: Yes, effectively.
BROWN: It didn't work out that way. Why is that a good policy relative to Iraq?
CHURCHILL: Well, it only worked out, the fact that we didn't do it in '48, by the fact that we came to the verge of nuclear holocaust on more than one occasion. And it was more by good luck than by good management after 40 years, we emerged from the valley of the shadow of death, which was the Cold War.
BROWN: You don't have -- do you have no concern about the whole notion of preemptive war, that is to say, to go to war with a country that has yet to fire a shot at you?
CHURCHILL: If the president of the United States could have, by preemptive action, avoided 9/11, would he not have been right in doing so?
BROWN: Well of course he would. I mean, don't you think that's oversimplifying the question?
CHURCHILL: Well, to me...
BROWN: Isn't the question: Iraq this week. Who next week, who the week after that? How do you decide?
CHURCHILL: I think that one of the most seminal things to come out of the debates of recent weeks was Secretary Powell's statement to the United Nations, putting in the public domain the fact that, in northern Iraq, there is this al Qaeda network, base, which has agents from Saddam Hussein's Iraq working together to provide specialization in various forms of poison.
Now, if that is happening in the field the poison, why not in the form of V.X. nerve agent, in the form of other weapons of mass destruction? And this is too dangerous for the United States and the West to allow to go ahead. If we were to back down at this stage, then there will be a marriage of convenience forged between Saddam Hussein and his arsenal and the forces of al Qaeda. And we can't afford to allow that.
BROWN: Nice to meet you. Thanks for coming in.
CHURCHILL: My pleasure.
BROWN: In just five seconds, do you have vivid memories of your grandfather?
CHURCHILL: Oh, yes. I was 24 years old when he died.
BROWN: You certainly must.
CHURCHILL: So I spent a lot of time with him.
BROWN: Nice to meet you. It was fascinating.
CHURCHILL: Thank you.
BROWN: Thank you, Winston Churchill.
It's the kind of thing we have heard before: accusations that the real people pushing us into war with Iraq are Jewish people. You might expect to hear that from some angry young men on the streets of Cairo or a radical mosque in London or perhaps a refugee camp in the West Bank. Safe to say, it is unexpected to hear it from a congressman at the U.S. House of Representatives. But it happened.
Here's Jonathan Karl.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Virginia Democrat Jim Moran sparked the controversy last week when he told an anti-war forum in Reston, Virginia, -- quote -- "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going. And I think they should."
Moran apologized, saying he should have not singled out the Jewish community. But after his comments hit the front page of "The Washington Post," fellow Democrats pounced.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I think that Mr. Moran made comments that were unfounded, baseless, and way out of line.
KARL: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said, in a written statement: "Moran's comments have no place in the Democratic Party." Joe Lieberman called the comments "deeply offensive and morally wrong."
(on camera): But as eager as Democrats are to distance themselves from Moran, they are not calling for his resignation. And in a series of local TV interviews, Moran said that he is sorry, but not sorry enough to leave office.
REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: I'm not going to resign. I don't quit easy, even if I sympathize with those people who are offended. But the voters put me here. And, for better or worse, I am going to stay here until they take me out of office.
KARL (voice-over): Maybe not resign, but Democrats are openly speculating that he could face a challenge from another Democrat. DASCHLE: Well, I'm sure that there will be great debate within his district about what ought to be done, what options may be available to those. But I will leave that to the people of his district.
KARL: But Moran has been a survivor. He was under fire for a controversial half-million dollar loan from a credit card company last year and he still won reelection by a margin of more than 20 percent.
Jonathan Karl, CNN, Capitol Hill.
BROWN: Still ahead, we will check morning papers -- that would be tomorrow morning's papers -- from around the country and around the world.
And later, in segment seven, we'll join up with the troops of the 101st Airborne, see what their life is like as they wait.
This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.
BROWN: Tomorrow morning's papers from around the country and around the world.
Short break first.
BROWN: It's a mess today, the morning papers. Time to check morning papers, tomorrow morning's papers, from around the country and around the world.
Newspaper editors struggling a bit with how to play Iraq. Tomorrow, "The Australian." Would this be tomorrow in Australia or today tomorrow Australia? That always confuses me. Anyway, "U.S. Delays Deadline for War" is the way "The Australian" headlines it. But "The Boston Herald" says differently: "Bush Won't Wait." So which is it? Well, we don't actually know which it is.
The most interesting story that we've seen on this today comes to us from "The Guardian": "U.S. May Go it Alone as Blair is Caught in Diplomatic Deadlock." It's two days in a row they've put a big front- page picture of Tony Blair. And it is a wonderful accounting, honestly, of the dilemma that both the American government and the British government finds itself in, particularly the Brits, with a lack of popular support there.
"Chicago Sun-Times" -- we actually were working on this story today and couldn't make it. It's a hard TV story to make, because there are no pictures. "Saddam Training Suicide Bombers: Iraqi Camps Seeking Volunteers to Attack U.S. Troops." Man, that is a tough sell -- in my view, anyway. And down at bottom -- 15? Oh, doggone it. OK. "Art Philip Charged in DUI Wreck That Injured Wife." He runs the tollway authority in Illinois. He should know better.
"Detroit Free Press," I love this story. They're doing a series on the Ford family, 100 years old now in Detroit in the car business. "They Forged a City, Changed the World" -- "The Detroit Free Press," which also headlines Iraq.
That's the morning papers from around the country and around the world.
Now I will take my glasses off and tell you that we'll be right back with segment seven. I don't know. Just felt like it.
BROWN: Well, finally from us tonight, the first of what will be regular portraits from the front lines.
CNN's Ryan Chilcote is living with the 101st Airborne, the Screaming Eagles, as they are known, who could become the among the first to go in if there is in fact a war with Iraq. Ryan is part of a group of reporters who have joined up with the troops and will be with them for the duration.
RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soldiers are good at killing time. Specialist John Key knows that, whether he's waiting two hours in line for breakfast or two weeks in Kuwait for war.
SPEC. JOHN KEY, 101ST AIRBORNE: All we are doing is going day by day, basically. And all you can do is just take the days as they come along. We do our P.T. in the morning and we try to get prepped before we do a lot of training. That's all we can do.
CHILCOTE: All he and his squad can do now is imagine shooting at the enemy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pop, pop, pop.
CHILCOTE: And take one another prisoner.
The squad has discovered ping-pong. But even though he's only been in country 10 days, 19-year-old SAW gunner Jeremiah Arnold says the back-and-forth on Iraq is already getting old.
JEREMIAH ARNOLD, 101ST AIRBORNE: And a lot of us just want it to kick off just so we can get it done and over with and not worry about it, because it is. It makes you real anxious. It makes you kind of jumpy. And it does. It affects your everyday life, because you don't know what is going to happen.
CHILCOTE: After 19 years in the earnings, Sergeant Joe Goens suggests the soldiers take up the guitar. SGT. JOE GOENS, 101ST AIRBORNE (singing): I feel that Gulf War syndrome coming on. I hope this time, we catch Saddam.
CHILCOTE: He figures he's been waiting on Saddam Hussein for 10 years.
Ryan Chilcote, CNN, Camp New Jersey, Kuwait.
BROWN: Well, whatever happens, we hope they all get home safely.
Good to have you with us tonight. We'll see you tomorrow at 10:00 Eastern time. Until then, good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
Thursday, no later than Friday; Air Force Tests New Bomb>