News Wrap: Supermodel Campbell Testifies in Taylor War Crimes Trial
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KWAME HOLMAN: The U.S. Senate today adopted a $26 billion aid package for state and local governments, a day after breaking a filibuster.
The money would help states fund Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, and it could save the jobs of 300,000 teachers, police, and other public employees. The House now plans to make a quick return from its August recess next week to give the bill final approval.
Wall Street faltered today, after news that new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week. They had been expected to fall. The Dow Jones industrial average lost five points to close under 10675. The Nasdaq was down 10 points to close at 2293.
An annual report concludes health care reform will keep Medicare solvent for an extra 12 years, through 2029. The program’s trustees issued that finding today. At the same time, their own actuary warned that the savings envisioned under reform may never be realized. And, on Social Security, the report said it will pay out more than it collects every year after 2015 and be exhausted by 2037.
The Defense Department today demanded WikiLeaks return 15,000 classified documents on the war in Afghanistan the Web site is believed to hold. The site published 77,000 U.S. military documents last month. It was said to be reviewing the rest.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others have charged, the leaks jeopardized U.S. troops and their Afghan allies.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell followed up today.
GEOFF MORRELL, Pentagon spokesperson: Public disclosure of additional Defense Department classified information can only make the damage worse. The only acceptable course is for WikiLeaks to take steps immediately to return all versions of all of these documents to the U.S. government and permanently delete them from its Web site, computers, and records.
KWAME HOLMAN: Also today, WikiLeaks posted a large encrypted file on its site and named it “Insurance.” Company officials wouldn’t say if it’s designed to be released in the event anyone tries to take down the site.
Fourteen people, mostly U.S. citizens, have been charged with providing support to a terror group based in Somalia. The suspects in Minnesota, California, and Alabama were accused today of providing money and fighters to Al-Shabab. That militant organization is believed to have ties to al-Qaida.
Last month, Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for bombings in Uganda during the World Cup final in South Africa. Seventy-six people were killed.
In the Netherlands, British model Naomi Campbell appeared today at the war crimes trial of Charles Taylor. The former Liberian ruler allegedly used so-called blood diamonds to arm rebels in neighboring see Sierra Leone. It’s been alleged ®MDNM¯Campbell received some of the diamonds at a charity event.
We have a report from Robert Moore of Independent Television News.
WOMAN: Ma’am, would you please give your name.
NAOMI CAMPBELL, Model: Naomi Campbell.
ROBERT MOORE: The key question for her, did the accused, the former Liberian president and warlord, Charles Taylor, give her some diamonds as a gift one night in South Africa 13 years ago?
NAOMI CAMPBELL: When I was sleeping, I had a knock at my door. And I opened my door and two men where there, and gave me a pouch and said, “A gift for you.”
WOMAN: But, when you opened up this pouch, what did you discover?
NAOMI CAMPBELL: I saw a few stones in there.
NAOMI CAMPBELL: And they were very small, dirty-looking stones. They were kind of dirty-looking pebbles. They were not — they were dirty — I don’t know. I find, when I’m used to seeing diamonds, I’m used to seeing diamonds shiny and in a box, you know? That’s the kind of diamonds I’m used to seeing.
ROBERT MOORE: Diamonds were the currency that fueled Sierra Leone’s savage civil war. But was the gift actually from Taylor, who, in 2006, was arrested and charged with war crimes? A fellow guest that night, the actress Mia Farrow, thought so.
WOMAN: What did you think?
NAOMI CAMPBELL: I assumed it was.
NAOMI CAMPBELL: I don’t know. I don’t know anything about Charles Taylor, never heard of him before, never heard of the country Liberia before. I never heard of the term of blood diamonds before. So, I just assumed that it was.
ROBERT MOORE: The prosecution then posed the obvious question.
WOMAN: Where are these stones today?
NAOMI CAMPBELL: With Mr. Ratcliffe.
ROBERT MOORE: Jeremy Ratcliffe is the former head of Nelson Mandela’s charity. Many questions still remain. Where exactly did these diamonds come from? Are they still with Jeremy Ratcliffe, the man she gave them to?
But, most importantly, are they the missing link between Charles Taylor and the funding of a civil war? It was certainly compelling theater, but the prosecution struggled to prove that Taylor was behind the gift. And it may be another year before the court decides his fate.
KWAME HOLMAN: In South Africa, a spokesman for Nelson Mandela’s charity said the fund never received the diamonds.
The people of Kenya have overwhelmingly accepted a new constitution.
Final results today showed 67 percent of voters favored the draft document. It includes a bill of rights and paves the way for land reform. It also curtails the sweeping powers given to the president under the old constitution written in 1963.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Ray.