CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
Life in Florida Two Days after Hurricane Wilma; Air Force Academy Football Coach under Fire for Racist Comments; CIA Leak: Federal Grand Jury Decision Expected Friday; The Life of a Spy; Fraud Lawsuit - Strip Club, a CEO And American Express; New Film Offers 'Empathetic' Look into Making of Suicide Bombers
Aired October 26, 2005 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, again. This is NEWSNIGHT. Accusations of racism and calls for the resignation of a prominent college football coach.
ANNOUNCER: A new firestorm about an age-old question. Are blacks better athletes than whites? At the center of it all this time, it's the Air Force Academy football coach.
FISHER DEBERRY, FOOTBALL COACH, U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY: Afro American kids can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other dissents can't run.
ANNOUNCER: And once again, the question: Will these comments end a career?
And the war within.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I am about to do is what I am.
ANNOUNCER: A controversial new movie takes you inside the head of a terrorist. The message: Suicide bombers have feelings too. And we should understand them. It's produced by colorful mega millionaire and Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban.
Plus, talk about troubles with business entertainment expenses.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of lap dancing, a lot of drinks. I imagine there's probably a lot of tips too.
ANNOUNCER: A very heated lawsuit involving a CEO, a New York gentlemen's club and running up a tab of a quarter million dollars.
This is NEWSNIGHT, with Anderson Cooper and Aaron Brown. Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, Here's Aaron Brown.
BROWN: Good evening again. Anderson off for a few days. We begin with some of the stories we're following at this moment.
The Louisiana attorney general has subpoenaed 73 employees of Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans. Thirty-four patients at the hospital died after it was cut off by flood waters triggered by Hurricane Katrina.
Allegations have surfaced that some of the patients were euthanized, reportedly to spare them from further suffering in the absence of rescuers.
Long lines and short tempers in Florida today as hurricane victims in several cities lined up for basic services, necessities, food, water, ice and the like. Two days after Hurricane Wilma swept across the state, crews continue to scramble to restore power to 2-1/2 billion customers who are still without power in south Florida.
High anxiety inside the Belleway tonight as Washington awaits the outcome of the two-year investigation into the outing of an undercover CIA operative. Two top White House aides have been caught up in the investigation. The grand jury took up the case again today. The special prosecutor met with the district court's chief judge for about 45 minutes this afternoon, for reasons unknown.
Supreme Court Nominee Harriet Miers was put on notice today. She'll be closely questioned about the administration's policies on the war on terror. In a letter released today, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Republican Arlin Spector outlined questions he feels will be appropriate during the confirmation hearings, which are set to begin on the 7th of November. Also on the list, Ms. Mier's close working relationship with President Bush.
It's been a frustrating day in south Florida, where life has turned into a waiting game for many. Two days after Hurricane Wilma, many Florida residents have been spending long hours waiting in lines for food and water and gasoline. They're also waiting for the power to come back on. We begin this hour with CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day two after Hurricane Wilma, and Marilyn Kramer of Hollywood, Florida is shopping like her life depends on it.
MARILYN KRAMER, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: Take it while they've got it.
MATTINGLY: Maneuvering through one of the few supermarkets open, with generator power, the aisles are dark, more hectic than before a holiday.
KRAMER: Somebody took my (inaudible).
MATTINGLY: Some things like fresh produce are in short supply.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No bananas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No bananas.
MATTINGLY: A half hour later, four cans of low sodium soup and two packs of water will have to do. She wishes she could buy more, but it's all she'll be able to carry.
KRAMER: Don't grow old. That's my advice to you.
MATTINGLY: Because of no electricity, the elevator's out in her high rise building and 74-year old Marilyn Kramer lives alone on the 11th floor.
(on camera): How you doing?
KRAMER: I need to rest just a little bit.
MATTINGLY: With nothing more than a flashlight and determination, she makes it up the 160 steps.
(on camera): Where would you like me to put the water?
KRAMER: Right -- no maybe on the floor would be good.
(voice-over): There's no damage to the condo itself, but its comfort is compromised. No lights, no air conditioning and sometimes no water.
KRAMER: When the water is on, I either take a shower or flush the toilets or wash the dishes.
MATTINGLY: Kramer considers herself among the lucky, trying to be self-sufficient during a time marked by long lines, confusion and growing impatience.
For the second straight day in Hollywood, trucks loaded with ice and water kept people waiting. And the line for cold lunches at the Salvation Army grew longer, as residents ran out of supplies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEALE: I have three children. We have absolutely nothing. We have not water left, no ice left, no food.
MATTINGLY: But like millions of other in the dark since Wilma hit, Marilyn Kramer is managing to get by with little more than a good attitude to keep her going.
KRAMER: In life, as in the dance, grace glides on bandaged feet. So what's the point of pissing and moaning, like sure (inaudible) and sure my knees were feeling, so what else is new? You know, you just do it.
MATTINGLY: Words of wisdom, Aaron. Just do it. And there is plenty to do.
BROWN: David, if you go down to South Beach, just sort of the tourist parts of south Florida, is it anything approaching normal? Are the hotels functioning? That sort of thing? Restaurants open? Clubs?
MATTINGLY: It's starting to happen right now. The hotel we're actually staying in in Miami Beach is sold out this weekend. So there are signs that people are coming back here. The lights are on all over the place on Miami Beach where we are and that just gives you an idea that the tourists can't be far behind.
BROWN: If they can get flights in, they'll be there. The weather is good. Thank you David. David Mattingly in south Florida tonight.
On to other matters. Certainly, the most controversial story of the day. A familiar scenario. It always sparks lightning in America. In this case it's a coach, one who might be called an "old school" football coach, sizes up his players to what can only be called a racial prism. But does that mean the remarks are racist and does that mean his is racist? That debate has been set in motion anew courtesy of one of the country's more respected captains of the grid iron. Here's CNN Sean Callebs.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a humbling experience for the Air Force Academy's winning as football coach, Fisher DeBerry.
FISHER DEBERRY, FOOTBALL COACH, U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY: It's my desire to make a public apology for the remarks that I made recently about minority recruitment.
CALLEBS: DeBerry is a powerful man, used to getting his way after 22 years as a head coach, 17 winning seasons. But by his own admission, this time he went too far.
DEBERRY: I have made a mistake and I ask for everyone's forgiveness. I regret these statements and I sincerely hope that they will not reflect negatively toward the academy.
CALLEBS: DeBerry fumbled into this controversy after his team suffered a thrashing this weekend at the hands of Texas Christian University. The coach said the academy needed faster players, more African American athletes.
DEBERRY: Afro American kids can run very, very well.
CALLEBS: He's not the first to say blacks are more athletic than whites. And while some call DeBerry's statements insensitive and others say they're racist, his players -- black and white -- say the coach is misunderstood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, FOOTBALL PLAYER, U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY: I think his intentions were completely different than what it came out to be and, you know, it's unfortunate that it was this big of a deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, FOOTBALL PLAYER, U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY: Nobody's offended. Everybody understands him. I know personally, I know Jason would agree, we don't care if a guy's neon green. If he can play football, we'll take him.
CALLEBS: DeBerry's comments fuel talk radio -- those against and those who support what he said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, TALK RADIO ANNOUNCER: When I read the comments, I didn't see it as a stab at any particular group. I saw it as more of a compliment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CALLER: It was just stupid. I mean he could have easily made his point by saying we don't have the forces.
CALLEBS: DeBerry has won 161 games here. Records show he's paid more than $560,000 a year. It's the second time in two years the 67- year old has caused a public outcry here. An avowed Christian, DeBerry was forced to remove a banner from the locker room last season that read, "I belong to Team Jesus." Critics say that helped place DeBerry at the center of an ongoing controversy at the academy that evangelical Christians on campus have been over-zealous in trying to convert other cadets. Even with the issues of race and religion hanging over him, DeBerry is adamant -- he wont' be forced to quit.
DEBERRY: There has been no consideration for stepping down from my job.
CALLEBS: And DeBerry told us today he's sorry in part because his comments help perpetuate stereotypes. Now before his news conference, he received a reprimand from the academy's new superintendent. But despite this rebuke, Aaron, the administration made it abundantly clear -- for the time being, DeBerry remains their man.
BROWN: Sean, thank you very much. Sean Callebs out in Colorado tonight. As you can imagine, there's no shortage of knee-jerk reaction to this kind of controversy.
But earlier tonight, we spoke with a man who has spent considerable amount of time studying the complex issues involved here. He's Jon Entine, who's the author of, "Taboo, Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We are Afraid to Talk about It."
BROWN: My guess is that 90 percent of the people -- maybe more -- who read the coach's comments today immediately said to themselves, whoa, he shouldn't have said that. Not that's a ridiculous thing to say, not that couldn't possibly be true, but simply he should not have said that.
JON ENTINE, AUTHOR, TABOO: Race is a third rail in the United States. With our history of racism, segregation, slavery, we can't talk about these things. Even when the science is on the side of the coach, which it definitely is in this case; I don't think any biologist or geneticist would deny that. It's scary stuff to talk about human differences.
BROWN: In what sense is the science on the side of the coach? ENTINE: Well, we're really not talking about a black/white issue here. And I think that really will I think drain some of the racist notions attached to this. This is about population genetics. This is about how different sub-populations and people of west African ancestry -- African Americans are primarily west African ancestry -- have a certain body type in physiology that's been shaped over tens of thousands of years of evolution. You take an east African, a Kenyon, who are great distance runners -- middle and long distance runners, they're terrible at the sprints. This is not a black/white issue. This is about what different populations, because of the way they evolved, might have certain advantages in certain kinds of sports. Whites in weight lifting and the field events -- in track and field, for instance.
BROWN: I mean, I don't know, I don't remember how long ago it was that Jimmy the Greek got in so much trouble with CBS, but there's a world of difference. I'm not sure Jimmy the Greek was correct. I don't remember precisely what he said. But there's a world of difference between what Jimmy the Greek said back then and what Al Campanis said. Al Campanis got in trouble for saying essentially black African Americans didn't have the intellectual -- I'm paraphrasing something here -- didn't have the intellectual abilities to manage in professional baseball.
ENTINE: Yes, Jimmy the Greek said that blacks were bread to be better athletes because of slavery, which sounds attractive; and frankly, I think many African Americans believe that as truth. But that's not accurate as well. But there is a difference. Because Al Campanis said something that is blatantly racist. On the other hand, Jimmy the Greek, although he was wrong, kind of got the idea correct, which is that there are differences and we can see them. Human differences are difficult to talk about.
BROWN: Do you think that the coach out at Air Force was at least inelegant in the way he said something.
ENTINE: Oh, oh absolutely. But let's step back a second. Put him in the context of his locker room where the black players and the white players talk about this all the time. I've talked to dozens and dozens of athletes. And to talk about these things in a joking or a serious way is just part of the locker room. So he's taking that kind of framework and he's talking about it in public. Was he inelegant? Of course. And he put it in black and white terms because I don't know if he's aware of the fact of the differences between let's say west and east African athletes as an example. Absolutely. There's a crudeness for this. But again, the guy was hung out to dry. I know he's not going to end up resigning because there's a little bit of sanity here. But this has gotten people in trouble for years and years and years and all it does is discourage people from talking about these issues without invoking racism at every turn.
BROWN: Joe Entine. Coming up on the program, the CIA leak. Will top White House officials really risk everything to discredit Joe Wilson? We'll take a closer look at Mr. Wilson.
But first, as you know, this week we arrived at a milestone -- 2,000 American troops killed in Iraq. Tonight, and for the remainder of the week, we honor the men and the women who lost their lives there. Because this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: The war in Iraq, how we got there, is of course, the backdrop for the whole CIA leak case. And the "Washington Post" is reporting on its website tonight that the federal grand jury in the case is expected to announce its final decision this Friday, which is the deadline day. That's when we'll know if top aides to the president and the vice president will be indicted in the so-called Plame affair, the outing of CIA Operative Valerie Plame, the wife of Former Ambassador Joe Wilson.
And of course, Joe Wilson is in some ways the point of all of this. He was in the one who was sent in Niger to investigate claims that the Iraqis were looking for nuclear weapons material. He is the one who wrote the Op-Ed piece of the "New York Times," saying the Bush administration knew that that claim wasn't true.
And so to understand the Plame affair, you need to understand Joe Wilson. Here's CNN Joe Johns.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Why would two of the most powerful men in the Bush administration risk their necks simply to discredit a critic of the Iraq war? Rewind two years ago to 2003. The war was on. Questions were growing louder about whether the administration had hyped intelligence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction to make the case for war. And then Former Ambassador Joe Wilson went public.
Wilson, who traveled to Niger, was looking into allegations that Iraq was trying to build nuclear weapons, returned to say he could find absolutely no evidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, I think you have to ask yourself the question as to whether or not the positions that was put forward, justifying the grave and gathering threat and the imminent threat to our national security are sustained by the facts.
JOHNS: It rankles Republicans to this day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly, Mr. Wilson has made quite a cause celeb of his own efforts; and frankly, he's been discredited almost at every step of the way.
JOHNS: The fact that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked at the CIA and that the CIA sent him to Niger in the first place was one of the first things that was used to discredit him. But the question remains: What was the motive behind attacking Wilson and discussing his wife's undercover CIA role? Now there are a couple of ways of looking at it. The benign version is that Karl Rove and the vice president's Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby were simply trying to set the record straight, to make sure that reporters knew Wilson had not been chosen to look into Iraq's efforts directly by the vice president or the head of Central Intelligence. Instead, they suggested, he was sent to Niger because his wife got him the job. It was a way of undercutting his credibility.
The Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Peter King says they were justified in going after Wilson and talking about his wife, so long as they didn't know she was undercover.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only if they knew that she was an undercover operative, was there any risk here involved. The fact is that his wife was involved and him being sent over there. He gave the impression that the vice president had sent him or a (inaudible) had sent him. The fact is, he was sent over by middle-level people and his wife was involved in the recommendation. To me that was very important to set the record straight.
JOHNS: The other way of looking at it is that Wilson was a threat to an administration under fire for hyping pre-war intelligence over weapons of mass destruction. And he needed to be silenced even if that meant blowing his wife's cover.
(on camera): What would have been the justification for discrediting Joe Wilson back in 2003, right after the war had started?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The key assertion of the Bush administration was that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program. And that the next terrorist attack in the United States could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. If Joe Wilson is right, the Bush administration knew that there was no uranium from Niger, that there was no nuclear program in Iraq. But yet, the war took place anyway. That's a huge historical moment.
JOHNS: Markee's (ph) assertion that if the threat of nukes hadn't been used, Bush could never have mustered the public's support to go to war.
You have to remember during the spring and summer of 2003, it was a tense time. the president and vice president believed absolutely that going to war was the right thing to do. It's easy to imagine how top aides, extremely loyal and aggressive, could see the danger in Wilson's charges. Now with 2,000 Americans dead and the pre-war intelligence largely discredit, Rove, Libby and others are facing potentially serious blowback for mounting such a vigorous defense.
JOHNS: Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby deny wrongdoing. They have said they didn't talk to reporters about Valerie Plame's covert status. The other issue hanging out there, of course, is whether anyone at the White House mislead the investigation. There are legal minds in this city who speculate that if there's going to be an indictment of anyone, it's a bit more likely to be about obstruction of justice, perjury or false statements. But as one former prosecutor told me today, any such decision is all about the facts, some of which remain secret tonight -- Aaron.
BROWN: Joe, thank you very much. We may not know until Friday. We'll see how it plays out. We'd like to believe that the life of a spy involves fast cars, high-tech gadgets and, of course, martinis -- shaken, not stirred. Oh, if it were only so. In reality, the men and women who make the living as secret agents lead lives much more mundane. Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beneath the blackness of a rainy Washington night, the world spy capitol is waiting to see what will happen in the CIA leak case. While only an hour away, in a quiet suburb, it's business as usual for this man. He's a spy from the National Security Agency.
IRA WINKLER, AUTHOR, "SPIES AMONG US": My expertise is performing espionage simulations against commercial organizations.
FOREMAN (on camera): Hold on a second, let me just turn this light on. Because we really can't see you. Yes, that's a lot better.
(voice-over): Well, he used to be with the NSA. Now, Ira Winkler writes books about the often misunderstood and murky world of spies.
WINKLER: In most of the espionage business, if you're talking about human intelligence, involves getting somebody who frankly is dupe to go in there and steal information on your behalf. You know, in the ideal world, a spy is somebody who can't get a waitress's attention in an empty restaurant.
I write that the espionage business is more of the land of Dilbert than the land of Bond.
FOREMAN: Really? So if they're not doing this stuff, then what are most spies doing most of the time? They're spending endless hours sifting through information -- bank records, phone logs, newspapers, business contracts, transcripts of conversations; oceans of collected data from the internet, spy satellites, informants -- foreign and domestic.
Sure, at the International Spy Museum, Director Peter Ernest knows the mythology of espionage.
PETER EARNEST, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM: Maxwell Smart's shoe.
FOREMAN (on camera): This is like the best.
EARNEST: Well you and I are both wearing cell phones.
FOREMAN (voice-over): He spent 36 years in the CIA and did wind up in a car chase or two.
EARNEST: Four guys took me for a ride. I suppose that's not quite a car chase.
FOREMAN (on camera): That's like real spy stuff.
FOREMAN: Were you ever in a shootout?
FOREMAN: Did you ever go off to Monaco with a legging European model?
EARNEST: No, but I put it down on my list of preferences.
FOREMAN (voice-over): But he confirms, much spy work involves convincing or paying local people in communities worldwide to gather information and then painstakingly analyzing it all.
EARNEST: You may get very critical intelligence from an operation -- a covert operation. But unless you can fit that nugget of information into a larger context, which is what the role of the analyst is, and the others connected with that, then it may be wasted.
FOREMAN: Maybe espionage has grown less romantic since the end of the cold war because the focus has shifted. Despite the War on Terror, many spies now spend their time looking at the financial fight for world standing, the struggle of places like China for an economic edge.
WINKLER: We're worried about the next generation of communication technology. Because these days, espionage is about money.
FOREMAN: Private spying has become such a big thing between American businesses, an Economic Espionage Act was passed in 1996 to step up prosecutions over the theft of pizza recipes, drug formulas, technology designs. Companies now hire Winkler to help them stop industrial spies and it's a challenge. He says the internet has made spies of us all.
WINKLER: The term, googling somebody, if you actually stop and think about what that is, that's the average person spying on the average person.
FOREMAN (on camera): So spying is that easy now?
WINKLER: Spying is incredibly easy.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Well, maybe not that easy. Events at the White House have shown the work of the top spy agencies is still remarkably valuable and sensitive. And like a good spy, best kept secrets. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Coming up on the program tonight, a mystery in Australia. Dozens of whales beached in a remote part of the continent.
And later, a night out with the boys leaves one man holding a very big bill -- nearly a quarter of a million dollars, to be exact. We'll talk with a woman, a former dancer of sorts, who explains how one could actually rack up a bill that size. So you don't actually have to experience it yourself.
NEWSNIGHT takes a break first.
BROWN: Quick look at some of the other stories that made news today. Erica Hill joins us from Atlanta.
Good evening, again, Ms. Hill.
ERICA HILL, CNN NEWS ANCHOR, NEWSNIGHT: Hi again, Aaron.
We begin now in Israel. Islamic Jihad claiming responsibility for today's suicide bombing that killed at least 5 people and injured 28 others at a busy marketplace in the northern town of Hadera. The Palestinian militant group claims it was in retaliation for Monday's killing of one of its leaders.
In New York, a jury finds the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey negligent in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. It said the Port Authority, which built and operated the World Trade Center failed to properly guard the parking garage where terrorists set off explosives in a rented van. Damages will be determined in a second trial.
A Wal-Mart memo setting off a storm here. The memo from one of the company's senior executives proposed hiring more part-time workers and encouraging healthier employees to help the company's bottom line.
The world's largest retailer, which has been attacked by critics for short-changing its staff on wages and benefits, is looking for ways to reduce its health care costs.
And finally, in Australia. About 130 long-finned pilot whales have died after becoming stranded on a remote beach near Marion Bay in the southern island state of Tanzania. Officials tried to rescued the beached whales, but only 10 survived.
Sorry to leave you on a somber note, but we'll try to pick it up a little bit tomorrow night, Aaron.
BROWN: Thank you, Erica. It's always a great mystery how -- why these whales things happen.
Still to come on the program tonight -- I love this -- the lap of luxury and then some. How a night at a strip club ended up with a bill for more than $240,000. Gee, hon, we were just out with the guys. Huh?
An American billionaire, he owns an NBA basketball team, is backing a movie about a suicide bomber. This is a terrific story, too.
First we remember some of the Americans who died in the war in Iraq.
BROWN: Two thousand Americans.
Just ahead, membership has its privileges, but a night on the town in New York was too much even for American Express as it turns out. First, a quick check on some of the other stories we're following at this moment.
The attorney general in the state of Louisiana has subpoenaed 73 employees of New Orleans Memorial Medical Center; 34 patients at the hospital died in the days around Katrina. Allegations have been made some were euthanized. Said to be part of a wider investigation into the deaths at hospitals and nursing homes in the New Orleans area after Katrina.
The State Department is promising quick action to retrieve, evacuate, at least 8,000 American tourists stranded in Mexico by Hurricane Wilma. Many of the tourists are complaining the government has left them high and dry.
Be prepared. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is suggesting every able-bodied American stockpile three days worth of emergency supplies. Secretary Chertoff said people need to prepared for predictable disasters like hurricanes, so FEMA can concentrate, initially at least, on people needing help the most.
So, is it even possible that a night at a New York strip club could actually cost more than $240,000? Why are you asking me that question? I don't know.
What exactly would that kind of money buy? These are important questions, at least to the club and a well-heeled patron, and certainly to American Express. They are the players in a legal tango that has become fodder for New York's tabloids.
BROWN (voice over): It's probably fair to say that Robert McCormick is suffering from a serious case of buyer's remorse. Though he reportedly says he's a victim of fraud. You can be the judge.
According to a lawsuit filed by American Express, one might back in October of 2003, Mr. McCormick, who is the married father of three girls, and the CEO of a publicly held high-tech Missouri, took some guests -- he says there were three -- to Scores. Scores, we should tell you, if you don't know, is a what they call a gentlemen's club here in New York City. That part is not in dispute.
What Mr. McCormick does take issue with is the bill, $241,000, to be exact. Which was charged to his company's American Express card. AmEx paid Scores, but McCormick, according to the lawsuit, says he was scammed and he's not handing over a quarter of a million bucks. Not surprisingly, American Express is suing. Suing McCormick, his company, and Scores. New York's tabloids are having a field day.
KAREN RUSSELL, CRIMINAL ATTORNEY: I can't imagine the number of patrons who get sticker shock the next morning when they look at their credit card tabs and say, how do I get out of this?
BROWN: Now you may wonder how four gentlemen could run up nearly a quarter of a million dollars on a bill at a strip club. Albeit, as the club's web site boasts, an elegant and exhilarating strip club. There is no denying Scores can strip you of your cash and do it fairly quickly.
The cocktails there cost 22 bucks a pop. The best champagne, $550 a bottle, $1,500 will buy you a triple magnum. And the entertainment? Well, the entertainment often shows up in the form of lap dancing, at the cost of $500 per hour, per Scores girl.
And while Robert McCormick and company did their share of dining and dancing, a club spokesman says the vast majority was gratuities to the dancers. That is gratuities as in tips, appreciation for a job well done. Given in the form of the club's pre-purchased Diamond Dollars. And according to Scores, McCormick was ordering dancers 10 at a time. The club also said that every time the tab went up an other $10,000, the put Mr. McCormick on the phone with AmEx. That they took his fingerprints and that they made him sign a waiver that said, in part, "At the time of this transaction I man not drunk, or in any way impaired. I have not been coerced, nor am I currently under any duress."
Neither Mr. McCormick, or his company, will confirm that. In it's lawsuit AmEx says Robert McCormick admits he did some partying at Scores that night, but only to the tune of 20 grand, just 20 grand.
There are published reports that the club has been under investigation from the New York District Attorney's office for at least two alleged instances of bill padding. The club says those cases have not been dropped. In this matter the courts will decide if the man who called the tune that night two years ago, will have to pay the piper.
RUSSELL: It feels like now, though, now that both parties are out in the public fray, that American Express has nothing to loose, other than their lawyers fees. And so they're going to have at it.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: Yes, they're going to have at it. CNN contacted Savvis Communications. The company says neither it, nor CEO Robert McCormick will comment on the case, but they did say that pending the completion of an internal investigation, quote, "Mr. McCormick has been placed on unpaid leave of absence." The company added he never submitted the bill for reimbursement.
Another perspective now, from a former exotic dancer turned author, Elisabeth Eaves is the author of "Bare: The naked truth about stripping." We talked with her earlier and began by asking what is it that Scores is really selling?
ELISABETH EAVES, FMR. EXOTIC DANCER: Well, basically a super high-end strip club like Scores is selling a fantasy. It is about much more than any sexual allure. I mean, I think we both know that you don't need to spend $200,000 to see a naked woman on a Friday night in New York City.
So, it's really about customers who want to feel like they're on otop f the world. They want to feel like they're James Bond, like they're super charming. That's what's being sold. That's why they serve caviar and expensive champagne there, too.
BROWN: For the women involved, is it a completely degrading business?
EAVES: Probably at Scores you are going to find the least amount of degradation going on. It is a pretty good place to work. There is not physical contact between dancers and customers. And it attracts -- it gets a good number of truly wealthy patrons on a given evening. So as stripping goes, I would say Scores is a pretty good place to work.
BROWN: Do you ever stand back and think, what a crazy world it is, that that is somebody's idea of fun?
EAVES: Yes. Yes, I do. I don't think it is necessarily a good thing that that is somebody's idea of fun.
BROWN: At a high-end place like Scores, what would -- what do the women make?
EAVES: Well, it appears that on this particular night in question the vast majority of that $200,000 plus, was spent in tips. And the reason we know this or Scores know this, is because when guys pay with a credit card they buy a kind of Scores funny money, they call it Diamond Dollars.
And they buy it in packets of $1,000 and this is how they put lap dances on the corporate card. So they have this funny money. They tip it out to dancers. Now, the vast majority of money spent that night was spent in tips and in some five figure tips to individual dancers it seems.
BROWN: And at the end of the day, or at the end of the week, a woman could walk out with a weekly paycheck of what?
EAVES: In this particular instance individual dancers it seems got $10,000-tips. So obviously that would be a pretty good week even when you take out your house fees. You know, you go out to some freeway in New Jersey -- I don't know, you could be looking at a few hundred dollars a week. I'm not really sure.
BROWN: Do you go then, in the back room and say to each other, there is an incredible shmoe at table number nine?
EAVES: Yes, that happens. Absolutely.
BROWN: And do you all laugh about it?
EAVES: Yes, there is certainly some laughing and mockery that goes on in dressing rooms at strip clubs. But it's -- you know it is not because a guy is fat or ugly or geeky, it is more the kind of cocky customer that worrisome, that is more likely to get the mockery I think.
BROWN: It is the guy who thinks he is James Bond?
BROWN: So maybe keep in mind when you're out on the town, it is a kind of service here at NEWSNIGHT.
A new movie offers a look inside the mind of a terrorist, a suicide bomber. Is the movie too sympathetic? We'll talk to the director when NEWSNIGHT continues, but first we remember American troops who have lost their lives in the war in Iraq.
BROWN: There is a new film out called "The War Within". Not many moviegoers have seen it yet, but it already it has a good number of people angry.
BROWN (voice over): "The War Within" tells the story of one young man's transformation from engineering student to terrorist. And it is, as you would imagine, controversial.
(MOVIE CLIP, MEN SPEAKING ARABIC)
BROWN: Hassan, the main character, is a student in Paris when he's picked up by what Western intelligence agents, suspected of terrorist activities.
(BEGIN MOVIE CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had trouble getting into the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you make it through unnoticed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you had a chance to explore Grand Central?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brothers, this is Abdul.
(END MOVIE CLIP)
BROWN: He's imprisoned, tortured, then released. And that is when he decides to become the terrorist his accusers believe him to be. Entering the U.S. under cover, a man with new-found religious fervor, on a deadly mission.
If you are wondering why a filmmaker would choose a topic like this, one that strikes fear in so many hearts, Director Joe Castelo says simply this, In this time when terror attacks are on our minds, we need to, if not sympathize, then just understand what goes on in the minds of the men and woman willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause.
JOESEPH CASTELO, DIRECTOR, "THE WAR WITHIN": I think that one of the things that the film deals with is the issue of radicalization. And how in some ways our reaction, and our legitimate reaction to what has happened, maybe exacerbating the problem.
BROWN: The wanna-be bomber in this film becomes not so much a man possessed as a man torn, torn between his now deeply held religious beliefs and his growing affection for the family providing him refuge in a country he seems so eager to destroy.
In the end you can't help but feel something for this fictional terrorist trainee. And Costello says, that is part of the point.
BROWN: You heard from him earlier. Earlier we spoke tonight with the director of "The War Within", Joseph Castelo.
BROWN: Why did you make this film? Why did you want to make this film?
CASTELO: I just feel like, you know, there is as a New Yorker, having lived through 9/11, that there is no other subject matter that filmmakers should be examining right now, at least New York filmmakers. It is something we should really point our attention towards.
I don't ever want to see it happen again. And I think that the appropriate place to examine these issues is -- in a movie theater. BROWN: We've been in many ways, almost literally, from September 12, 2001, to today, we have at some level been asking the question, why did they do this? Why do they hate us? Is -- you know -- and yet if we -- if anyone tries to broach an answer, tries to broach understanding, there is this sort of smack that goes on. Why do you think that is?
CASTELO: I think because September 11 was such a horrible event in American history. I think that there is so much emotion around the issue that it is difficult for people to even have a discussion around what, essentially, are some of the reasons behind what had happened.
BROWN: Do you think you painted a character who is sympathetic at some level? When we want a character who is simply -- we societally we want a character who is simply evil?
CASTELO: I think that we've created an empathetic -- a character that we can empathize with, not sympathize with. And there is a difference. He does have a human face. But certainly the choices that he makes, you know, he clearly manipulates this family and there is a certain kind of narcissistic bend in the way he goes forward with his mission.
But I certainly think that seeing him as a human being confounds an audience. They're not used to that journey.
BROWN: So, there is -- I mean, you want people to see in him -- I'm not sure ambivalence is the word you would use -- but something other than 100 percent I know this is the right thing? A struggle.
CASTELO: Oh, absolutely. I mean, that's the heart of the film. And that's at the heart of the sermon within the film, you know, in the mosque. You know the Imam in the mosque is talking about the meaning of jihad and what that truly means. And talking about what it means as a struggle for everyday life.
And that is what -- you know, this character is making a truly self-interpretive choice. As opposed to the other Muslims that are sitting in the mosque and the other character in the film who turns out to be a hero. Saib (ph), the doctor, who lives in, you know, suburban America and who is living the American dream. He makes a different choice at the end of the film. So it is that juxtaposition that I think, you know, hopefully, demonstrates the struggle that these characters are going through.
BROWN: "The War Within". Coming up, a look at tomorrow morning's papers.
BROWN: Quick check of morning papers, "The Washington Times", "Bush backs budget cuts for storm aide, urges lawmakers to help curb spending appetite". Yeah, right. "Christian Science Monitor", "As Oil Profits Soar, Scrutiny Rises". I pay more tax on every profit I make, so why shouldn't they?" asks Roxanne Williams. Because you don't have as good a lobbyist that the reason.
"The Examiner" in Washington, I just like this headline, "What would Jesus rap?" Christian hip-hop thrives in D.C. It's a nice headline for you. Free newspaper.
"The Des Moines Register" , "Iowans largely ignore 70-mile an hour speed limit: Trooper presence up but speeding tickets down, report. (INAUDIBLE) has special affection for state troopers and highway patrolmen.
The weather tomorrow in what maybe the world champion Chicago, is "Win-D" according to the "Sun-Times". We'll wrap it up in just a moment.
BROWN: Larry King coming up next. We'll leave you tonight, and all this week, with some of the men and the women who have died in Iraq, 2,000 Americans have now died. And here are the names of just a few of them.