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Other segments from the episode on June 15, 2007

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, June 15, 2007: Interview with Eric O'Neill and Billy Ray; Interview with Mariane Pearl; Review of the film "Fido."


TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A

Interview: Former FBI agent Eric O'Neill and writer and director
Billy Ray discuss the movie "Breach," about spy Robert Hanssen

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, TV critic for the New York Daily
News, sitting in for Terry Gross.

The movie "Breach," which has just been released on DVD, is based on the story
of FBI agent Robert Hanssen. He was convicted of espionage for selling
secrets to the Soviets by drawing on his access to classified documents from
the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency. He's now serving life in prison.
The role of Hanssen is played by Chris Cooper. Ryan Phillippe plays Eric
O'Neill, the young FBI operative who was assigned to work as Hanssen's
assistant so that he could spy on Hanssen and help the FBI make a case against
him. The real Eric O'Neill is one of our guests today. He's since left the
FBI and is now a lawyer.

At the same time Terry also spoke with the writer and director of "Breach,"
Billy Ray, who also directed the film "Shattered Glass" and wrote the
screenplay for "Flight Plan." We'll hear from him a bit later. Terry spoke
with them both earlier this year.

Let's start with a scene from the beginning of "Breach." Special Agent Kate
Burroughs, played by Laura Linney, is briefing O'Neill on his new assignment.
But she's not revealing the real reason he's being asked to spy on Hanssen.

(Soundbite from "Breach")

Ms. LAURA LINNEY: (As Kate Burroughs) You're being tasked to headquarters,
where you'll be riding the desk of an agent named Robert Hanssen. You know

Mr. RYAN PHILLIPPE: (As Eric O'Neill) No.

Ms. LINNEY: (As Burroughs) Former head of our Soviet analytical unit.
Considered our most knowledgeable analyst on Russian intel. Last six years
he's been our liaison at the State Department.

Unidentified Actor #1: Sunday!

Ms. LINNEY: (As Burroughs) We're bringing him back to headquarters where
he's going to start our new information assurance division, safeguarding the
bureau's IT system from cyber-terrorism and infiltration.

Mr. PHILLIPPE: (As O'Neill) Wait, I've heard of this guy. Was he the one
who hacked into another agent's hard drive?

Ms. LINNEY: (As Burroughs) He's the best computer guy we've got. He's also
a sexual deviant.

Mr. PHILLIPPE: (As O'Neill) Oh.

Ms. LINNEY: (As Burroughs) Been posting on the Internet lurid material.
There's some complaints in his file from female subordinates.

Mr. CHRIS COOPER: (As Robert Hanssen) I shouldn't tease you, that just gets
me into trouble.

Ms. LINNEY: (As Burroughs) You're going to keep an eye on him for us. It's
not a glamour detail, sorry.

(End of soundbite)


Eric O'Neill, Billy Ray, welcome to FRESH AIR.

Eric, let me start with you. What was your assignment in bringing down Robert

Mr. ERIC O'NEILL: Well, originally, I worked for a small group in the FBI
called the Special Surveillance Group, as an investigative specialist. I was
a ghost. So I was, for the most part, behind the camera watching targets by
the--from the shadows. When I was tasked for the Hanssen case, it was a
unique experience because, instead of being sort of behind the lens and at
some distance, I was in the room with my target, face to face with an
objective to get him to talk and see if he'd spill some of his secrets.

GROSS: And what was your cover? What was your official story to him?

Mr. O'NEILL: I didn't have one. You know, in this very unique experience,
they were worried that I might slip up if they gave me a legend; it wasn't
something that I was particularly trained for. By a "legend," by the way, I
mean a cover story, a cover identity with a new drivers licence and a whole
background that you memorized to the most specific detail. They were a little
worried about Hanssen. He was too savvy and too able to get into the FBI's
computer system, so they were worried that something might slip there. And so
I went in as myself, which was nerve-racking, to say the least.

GROSS: And you went in as his assistant?

Mr. O'NEILL: Yes. I was Eric O'Neill, his assistant. And the first day, he
actually spun a legal pad around to me and said, `I'd like you to write down
your name, your Social Security number, your current address, your wife's name
and birth date, your birth date, and your parents' name.' All this very
intimate, very specific detail about my life that I was handing to him. And
he told me, `I need it because I'm your boss, and I need to know these
details.' But in my mind, I was thinking, `He needs it because now he has
something held over me.'

GROSS: And also he could investigate you.

Mr. O'NEILL: Exactly.

GROSS: He could check your identity. So he--in the movie, anyways, Hanssen
really prides himself on being able to read other people carefully, to read
their personalities, to catch them in any betrayal or deception. Was he that
way with you? Did he make it clear to you that he could catch any kind of

Mr. O'NEILL: Very true.

GROSS: That must have been so hard. I mean, here you are, inexperienced at
this game, and there he is, very experienced at the game, and he thinks of
himself as like the, you know, the ultimate in ferreting out deception, and
you're completely deceiving him. So what are some of the mind games that
you'd end up playing with each other?

Mr. O'NEILL: Well, when you're in that situation, you need to find a point
of attack, because you'll go crazy if you just believe that they're on you.
So you look for that fact that says, `I'm burnt. They're on me, and I'm in
trouble.' And there were only two people in that room, and I was the other
guy, so he had to continually put pressure on me. And the biggest way he did
that was by keeping me off balance.

GROSS: Like how?

Mr. O'NEILL: He did many inappropriate things, things that in an office
environment will get you fired, such as looming over me constantly. You know,
if he was next to you, he would always kind of lean against you, things that
made you uncomfortable and really threw off your body awareness. He could be
harsh. He could be prone to rage at times and yelling and screaming,

You know, there were other odd things. His perversions came out while we were
together in the room, and that was very complicated for me.

GROSS: What perversions?

Mr. O'NEILL: He would put you in inappropriate situations, some of them
quasi-sexual. I didn't think any of it was homosexual. I think it was a sort
of controlling environment. For example, it came out that he had this--and
this is a little bit titillating--but he had this sort of obsession with
Catherine Zeta-Jones, and we would find DVDs and he'd watch the movies and,
you know, while he was supposed to be working and that sort of thing.

So I had to deal with that, and I--you know, and I had to think, `What game
are we playing here? What is the response he expects from me and how can I
sort of throw this back at him and throw him?' And in the end, I decided just
kind of push back. When he did something that really upset me, instead of
saying, you know--and threatening him, I would just push back like, `Get the
hell off my desk.' Or, you know, `Leave me alone.' Or, you know, `Stop
touching me that way.' And he'd kind of chuckle about it, and I think that
that's where he started to respect me.

GROSS: OK. And once you realized he is your target and you were going to
catch him, what's the biggest catch that you got?

Mr. O'NEILL: Well, the case--and it's portrayed perfectly in the movie--is
the great Palm Pilot scene. That scene is very, very true to life and almost
exactly the way it went down, and all those tensions are exactly what I was

GROSS: Can I ask you to describe it?

Mr. O'NEILL: Sure. One of my biggest tasks was to determine where he might
keep his secrets, where those keys were that we could use to unlock his
history of spying and find ways to catch him red-handed. One of the ways that
I did that was to observe Hanssen and see where he kept things, what sort of
things he kept on him. Well, he had this Palm Pilot he kept in his back
pocket constantly. And I also realized that, while he requisitioned a Palm
Pilot for me from FBI Office of Technology, he got me a Palm 5, and he had a
Palm 3 and he decided he didn't want to get himself a new one. Well, why
wouldn't you want the flashiest new thing? Well, one, the Palm 3 was his own.
Two, he had reprogrammed it and encrypted it. And it seemed--and, three, he
never let it off his body. It was always in his back right pocket, and he was
very, very diligent in where he put it and how he always had it. He would sit
down. He would put it on the desk next to him. His hand would always be near
it. When he stood up, it immediately went in his pocket.

So we had to find a way to separate him from this thing that's always like a
part of his body, an extension of himself. We did that by getting some of the
higher-up agents, people who were above him in the chain of command, to come
in and challenge him to go shoot. And one of the biggest parts of Hanssen's

GROSS: At the target range?

Mr. O'NEILL: Right.

GROSS: Yeah.

Mr. O'NEILL: his ability with a rifle and a firearm. He was a
dead-shot marksman and he was very proud of that. So they challenged him, and
he said no. And they said, `I'm sorry, I don't think you understand. This
isn't a request.' That flustered him, and he forgot to do that motion he made
every single time he got up, grab the Palm Pilot, put it in his back pocket.
I went to his briefcase, opened it up, grabbed the Palm Pilot and ran down to
where we had a tech team set up to copy the thing. They started copying the
Palm Pilot, and as it happened, one of the guys that was down shooting with
Hanssen sent me a page on my pager, and it said, `He's on his way back to you.
He's out of pocket.' And I thought to myself, `Wow, this is not good!' I mean,
I've got the holy of holies down here and this guy's got 80 percent copied,
and Hanssen is walking up from the basement shooting range up to the seventh

I was smart enough to have timed it. Like, if I ran flat-out down the hall,
caught the elevator the first second I hit the button and it made it down
without stopping at any floor, and I ran into the shooting range, it was a
total of about six minutes. I said, `I got six minutes. Finish up right
now.' It took them another like couple of minutes to finish, and then I was
the one running all the way up those flights of stairs and into the office,
through this vault door that had three different locks--and very distinct
locks--and into his office. Kneeled down in front of his bag, looked at his
bag and realized, `I've just opened all four pockets and I really don't know
which pocket I pulled the Palm Pilot out of.'

GROSS: So what did you do?

Mr. O'NEILL: I had to think right then. Well, I'd evaluate what I was going
to do because Hanssen was coming in the door. And I heard telltale key beeps
of him punching in the code, and I knew I only had seconds. So in those
seconds I had to decide whether I was going to run out of there and give up
the whole operation but, you know, maybe get down the hall somewhere where he
wasn't going to shoot me if he found out that I had messed with his Palm
Pilot, or I was just going to drop it in the bag and play it off and hope.

And in the end, I decided just to trust luck, drop it in the bag, made the
sign of the cross, said a quick prayer, hoped really hard, crossed my fingers,
zipped up his bag and ran to my desk by the time that he got in. And it
turned out, I was right. But the worst part of that entire case for me were
those moments when I was sitting at my desk and I heard him--I saw him charge
past me into the room, slam the office to his door, and I could hear him
unzipping that bag. And thinking, `If I got that wrong, I'm dead.'

GROSS: Would you literally have been dead? I mean, did he ever threaten you?

Mr. O'NEILL: I can't say for sure. He certainly threatened me, and he--you
know, very ironically, he had no tolerance for betrayal whatsoever. And he
would constantly tell me that, `It is so important that I can trust you.' That
is a true line in the movie. It was very important to him, and betrayal was
just never going to happen in his eyes, and it's quite possible that--knowing
what we know now--that he did have every letter he sent to the Russians on
that data card that went with the Palm Pilot, and he had the drop date and the
date of his drop date and the location on there. Everything we needed to
completely finish this case was on those instruments, so he might have
thought, `Well, I'm caught. It's over. You know, this guy is going to pay
for what he did because my life is destroyed.'

BIANCULLI: Former FBI operative Eric O'Neill, speaking with Terry Gross
earlier this year.

More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.


BIANCULLI: Let's get back to Terry's interview with Eric O'Neill, the former
FBI operative who helped build a case against Robert Hanssen, the former FBI
agent convicted of selling secrets to the Soviets. Joining the conversation
will be Billy Ray, writer and director of "Breach."

GROSS: Hanssen considered himself a very God-fearing person and a very kind
of strict Catholic. He belonged to the group Opus Dei. And at the same time
he, as you described earlier, he had a very active sexual fantasy life. In
fact, he had surveillance technology in his bedroom. And so when he had this
old friend of his stay overnight, a male friend...

Mr. O'NEILL: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: ...the male friend was able to, through the surveillance camera, watch
Hanssen and his wife having sex in their bedroom. I mean, that's the extent
of how kinky he really was.

Mr. O'NEILL: Yes, and that's true.

GROSS: And then he would write about this in chat rooms on the Internet.

Mr. O'NEILL: Yes, all of that is true.

GROSS: Did you know about that?

Mr. O'NEILL: Yes, the video surveillance of him and his wife I found out
later. In fact, I found out about that later, as the FBI did, after the case
was concluded, after he was caught, and they tore apart his house, and they
found this stuff and interviewed his friend. And I had to call an agent and
say, `Is this true?' Because I read it in the media as well and called. And,
yes, it's true.

GROSS: Did you ever get to look him in the eye after you helped bust him?

Mr. O'NEILL: No, I didn't. He was whisked away and hidden away from me.
There was a point where, you know, out of some sort of insanity, I asked, you
know, `Would it be OK if I talk to him?' I don't know why, but he--but they
said--they told me, `No, that would be a real bad idea because we're really
not telling him your role in this because the betrayal would cause him to say
nothing more to us. And the most important thing right now, the critical
thing, is to debrief him and find out what he revealed. And the last thing we
need right now is for him to shut up.'

GROSS: Well, I'm speaking with Eric O'Neill, and he is the FBI operative who
helped break the Robert Hanssen case. And Hanssen is the FBI agent who sold
more secrets to the Soviets than any spy had ever given to the Soviets before.
The movie based on this story is called "Breach," and with me is Billy Ray,
who directed the film and also directed the movie "Shattered Glass."

Billy Ray, welcome.

Mr. BILLY RAY: Thanks for having me.

GROSS: Why did you want to make this movie?

Mr. RAY: Well, I'm fascinated by duplicity and fascinated by stories that
are about integrity, and this certainly was that. But after I saw early
drafts of the script--the initial writers were a pair of guys named Adam Mazer
and Bill Rotko--I started to read about the Hanssen case. And, you know,
there were five or six books that were published on that case almost instantly
after he was arrested, and none of them mentioned Eric O'Neill, because at the
time, Eric O'Neill was classified, so none of them could mention Eric O'Neill.
So I thought, `Here is the worst security breach in American history and a
huge chunk of the story is totally unreported.' Which is, there are 500 guys
trying to capture--men and women, 500 FBI operatives trying to capture Robert
Hanssen, but one of them was locked in a room with him all day long, and
that's Eric O'Neill, the guy that no one's ever heard of. That felt like a
piece of history that ought to be captured.

GROSS: What kind of interactions did you both have during the making of the

Mr. RAY: Well, he's a huge asset. I mean, you know, if you're trying to do
a research-based movie, which this was, you know, this is gold, this guy
sitting next to me. So I was going to interview him as much as he would let
me. I was going to send a million e-mails a day while I was doing the
research and rewriting the script. I wanted him there in Toronto while we
were in prep. I wanted him working with Chris Cooper to do an imitation of
Robert Hanssen.

GROSS: Did you do that?

Mr. O'NEILL: Yes, I did.

GROSS: Can you do your imitation for us?

Mr. O'NEILL: Oh, God, no.

GROSS: He never does it--he never does it on air. He's very shy.

Mr. O'NEILL: Right. Right. I'm shy. I get a little shy about that, but I
can tell you how I did it.

GROSS: Sure.

Mr. O'NEILL: And really, Chris came up with it because we faced that same
question, `Can you do him?' I'm like, `Uh.' And he said, `I'll tell you what.
I'll just read the script and you tell me, you know, whether I'm close or what
I need to do. And then you read the script.' And that's how we did it, back
and forth, until suddenly he kind of got it and he was there. He had an odd
accent to it. It was very sort of, you know, neutral America, his accent,
kind of like mine, but with a little bit of Chicago that would just pop in at
the oddest words. And I think Chris got that.

The other thing is the way he walked and the way he'd grumble and the little
quirks he had with his face, the idea being that Chris really was concerned
about making sure that his portrayal of his character was one where, you know,
some of the people who knew Hanssen and his friends and family could watch the
movie and say, `That's something Bob does.' Or, `Hey, that's a quirk that
makes me think this is the guy, and that this wasn't just an attempt at
portraying somebody without any sort of research.'

Mr. RAY: And Chris wanted to get those mannerisms right. He wanted to lean
into you the way that Hanssen leaned into you. And he wanted to invade your
personal space in the way that Hanssen actually did. And he wanted to walk
Eric into walls, which he actually did.

And I also wanted Eric around because I wanted him working with my production
designer. I wanted him to comment on the details of the hallways and how the
room 9930 looked. If you have access to a guy like that, you're crazy not to
use him. And I wanted him around. I wanted him around while we were
shooting. I would have been happy if he would have stayed there every single

GROSS: What are some of the most mysterious things to you about Robert
Hanssen that you'd actually really like to know but you can't find out about?

Mr. RAY: Well, there's nothing about him that's not mysterious, at least for
me. I really wanted to sit down and talk to this guy while I was writing.
That would have been amazing. Of course, the FBI said I couldn't. But I
asked the FBI for permission to submit written questions to him. And they
said that was OK.

GROSS: Oh, really?

Mr. RAY: Yeah.

GROSS: Did you do that?

Mr. RAY: I wrote 15 questions. Questions like, `What did you think of Eric
O'Neill when you first met him? And how did your opinion of him change?' I
asked him, `Why did you make that last drop if you had a sense that the FBI
was onto you by that point?' I asked him if he regularly confessed to the
espionage. Because we know that he was a very serious Catholic and we know
that he was spying for 22 years, was he regularly confessing to being a spy,
regularly receiving some sort of absolution and then continuing to do it? And
then I threw in a couple bogus questions just to pad it a little bit so that
he wouldn't know exactly where I was trying to get my information. It didn't
matter. He just had no interest in helping me.

GROSS: Now, in both "Shattered Glass," your previous film about a journalist
who is lying and makes up the stories that he writes, and in this film,
"Breach," about the spy Robert Hanssen, a lot of scenes are shot in
fluorescent-lit offices, and there's probably like no more of a boring space
to shoot.

Mr. RAY: Right.

GROSS: But you have to make it interesting.

Mr. RAY: Sure.

GROSS: You have to give it some kind of personality so that when we're
watching fluorescent-lit hallways and offices, we're seeing something that's
going to hold our attention. Can you talk about the challenge of making
movies in like uninteresting places like that?

Mr. RAY: Sure.

GROSS: You know?

Mr. RAY: Well, step one is hire a great DP.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. RAY: In this case I had Tak Fujimoto, who had shot "Silence of the
Lambs" and "Signs." And he and I talked about trying to make this movie look
like one of those great American studio movies of the '70s. I look at a lot
of the movies that are made today, particularly 2006 movies, where, visually,
you can tell they were just all created by CGI. I mean, like every inch of
the frame is loaded with some gadget or doodad. And yet the movies have no
tension, and they're not terribly interesting at all because they all feel
like a gimmick. It's much more interesting, to me, to take a circumstance,
even an office that has fluorescent lighting, and try to challenge yourself to
make that interesting by making what's happening in the office interesting.
Again, the tension arriving out of the fact that you know you're stuck in a
vault. And how can that be an asset to us as filmmakers?

There's a moment when Ryan Phillippe walks into that office for the first time
and he shuts the door behind him and he just hears that pfrmmmp, he hears the
way it shuts. And it's a moment that plays on his face of, `OK, I'm stuck.
I'm in here. No one's going to hear anything that happens inside this room.'
And like Eric was saying, `If this guys decides to shoot me, no one's even
going to know. No one's going to hear it outside.' That's an opportunity to
take something that could very dull and make it an asset of the storytelling.
We looked for that kind of thing all the time.

GROSS: Well, I want to thank you both so much for talking with us. Thank

Mr. O'NEILL: Thanks for having us. It was an honor.

Mr. RAY: Thanks so much for having us on.

GROSS: Billy Ray wrote and directed the new film "Breach," which will be
released in February.

BIANCULLI: Former FBI agent Eric O'Neill and director Billy Ray, speaking to
Terry Gross.

I'm Dave Bianculli, and this is FRESH AIR.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Mariane Pearl on the details of her husband, Danny
Pearl's, capture and death and her new book

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, sitting in for Terry Gross. Today we
hear from journalist Mariane Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl, who was
kidnapped and beheaded by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in 2002. That story
from her perspective is told in the film "A Mighty Heart," which opens next
week, starring Angelina Jolie. It's based on Mariane Pearl's own book of the
same name.

Daniel Pearl was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal.
When Mariane last saw him, he was on his way to a meeting with the radical
Islamic cleric Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani in the hopes of investigating his
connection with the shoe bomber Richard Reid. In July of 2002, a special
anti-terrorism court in Pakistan found Ahmed Omar Sheikh and three accomplices
guilty of Daniel's kidnapping and murder. Omar Sheikh, who organized the
kidnapping was sentenced to death; the other three to life imprisonment. They
are appealing, and the investigation into Pearl's murder continues.

At a military tribunal in Guantanamo last March, Kahlid Shaikh Mohammed, the
mastermind of the September 11th attacks, confessed to decapitating Pearl.

Mariane Pearl, also a reporter, was working in Pakistan for French public
television and radio when her husband was killed. She was six months pregnant
at the time.

Here's a clip from "A Mighty Heart," which opens next week. Mariane, played
by Angelina Jolie, is being interviewed on CNN. Her husband has been
kidnapped but not yet killed.

(Soundbite of "A Mighty Heart")

Unidentified Actor: (As TV reporter) Mrs. Pearl, the group holding your
husband has given a 24-hour deadline for the United States to meet their
demands or else they say that they'll kill your husband, Daniel. Do you have
a message to that group?

Ms. ANGELINA JOLIE: (As Mariane Pearl) Yeah, I have a message. Three
different points I want to talk about. The first one is that I want to remind
them that my husband and I are both journalists. We are like--we are two
people who fell in love because we had the same ideal. He's someone who--I
never saw him say a lie. In his journalism, I've never seen anyone so honest.

Actor: (As TV reporter) And how are you coping with this?

Ms. JOLIE: (As Mariane Pearl) I haven't slept for six days, if that's what
you're asking. But I have hope. I am not desperate because I believe that if
I stop trying to create this dialogue then I stop believing in everything
else, and I can't do that. I'm pregnant.

Actor: (As TV reporter) And if you could say one thing to your husband, what
would you tell him?

Ms. JOLIE: (as Mariane Pearl) I love you.

(End of soundbite)

BIANCULLI: Angelina Jolie is Mariane Pearl in the film "A Mighty Heart."
Terry Gross interviewed Pearl in 2003, when her book about the life and death
of her husband was published.


Before your husband decided to actually take the risk and meet with a disciple
of Sheik Gilani, he asked people for advice. And the advice he basically got
was, `It's OK as long as you meet him in a public place.'


GROSS: Was your husband confident that if he met Gilani in a public place
that he'd be safe, and was he confident that their meeting would really be in
a public place?

Ms. PEARL: Danny was absolutely confident that meeting with someone who
could be dangerous in a public place was a safe way to go because that's what
we do all the time. That's the only way you can actually approach those
people. And because he had asked those questions to three different people, I
am sure that he remained confident that the meeting would happen in that
restaurant where they had their appointment.

GROSS: Now you write in your book that you and your husband used to signal
each other when you were alone, that you'd like to report together and you
usually accompanied each other, but when you couldn't you'd signal each other
so that, you know, you'd be able to relate to the other that, you know, you
were safe or that he was safe.

Ms. PEARL: Right.

GROSS: When did you realize, after not hearing from your husband, that
chances were he wasn't safe?

Ms. PEARL: Very quickly, because there was some kind of sensation that I had
that made me feel uncomfortable, so I started calling him. We would usually
call each other every 90 minutes; that was the standard time. But I started
calling him before, like I just wanted some kind of reassurance. Something in
me was uncomfortable. So very quickly I started calling, and the phone was
off. I don't know if it was off or if it was out of range, but this voice
kept coming back and Danny would not answer. So very quickly about--his
meeting was, I think, 7, and at 8:00 I started calling, actually.

GROSS: Now, some people say, `Well, you know, Daniel Pearl took a risk that
he probably shouldn't have taken in meeting with this man. And, you know, if
he were more experienced or if he would have thought more about it, he
wouldn't have taken that kind of risk.' And you say in your book that he
always played it really safe. And he refused to be a war correspondent. He
didn't want to be in a war zone. When The Wall Street Journal, his newspaper,
wanted to send him from Islamabad into Afghanistan after September 11th, he
refused to go. And he even wrote a memo to The Wall Street Journal outlining
several of the reasons why he didn't want to go. What were some of the
reasons why he thought that--I mean, he was basically accusing the paper of
not looking out enough for the safety of its reporters in war zones.

Ms. PEARL: Yes. Terry, let me first tell you that if Danny had just made a
mistake, I would admit it. You know, I would be honest enough to admit that
that day he just got carried away because it's just a human thing to do. But
it's not true. Danny was a really, you know, safety conscious person,
definitely more than I am. Everybody does that kind of thing when they work
as foreign correspondents. You just report; that's what you do. Otherwise
you can't work, or you just stay in a hotel room and then you pretend you
report. So there was no options there.

As far as The Wall Street Journal is concerned, Danny--to just, you know, let
you know that I'm not inventing that, he wrote the safety memo because,
contrary to what people say, he was an experienced journalist, and he had
covered dangerous zones. And after one of them in Kosovo, he had written a
safety memo to The Wall Street Journal saying, `Yes, you send us there, but
you don't even remember that you're sending us to a war,' because that was his
own experience. He had been in Kosovo, and when he talked to his boss back in
New York, the person said, `Oh, I forgot where you are,' right? So Danny was
really angry at that. And he wrote a memo that was for his safety but for all
foreign correspondents' safety. And it as a very detailed memo saying, `We
need that to be out of danger.'

GROSS: Now, one of the things he said on that memo was, `Several times I've
told my editor or the news assistant that I'll be checking in daily and they
should call if they don't hear from me. But when I went a few days without
checking in, I never got a call.'

Ms. PEARL: Right. That's one of the examples. He was asking for check-ins,
he was asking for equipment, he was asking for cash, just elements that
would--and safety training and even, you know, talking about kidnapping
situation. So he's asking more training because he's saying, basically, that
The Wall Street Journal, in a way, positions itself as like not newsy but a
newspaper that's not like a--how do you say?--you know, it's a newspaper, but
it's like more economic, and he doesn't go to war, he doesn't go on the front
line. And he was, you know, obviously wrong. We were in the front line, and
we were mandated there, so he was obviously wrong.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Mariane Pearl, the journalist
who is now the widow of Daniel Pearl, the reporter from The Wall Street
Journal, who was killed by Islamic radicals in Pakistan.

When your husband was missing and you knew he was in serious trouble, you
wanted to convince his kidnappers to release him. You were about six months
pregnant at the time. The journalists of the world were trying to interview
you. What were some of the things you thought about in deciding what your
public role should be and how you should publicly present yourself, you know,
in a way that could possibly help save your husband?

Ms. PEARL: Right. The only thought I had in my head when we decided that I
should try to make a public appearance on television was, `Maybe Danny's
watching me,' which means the way I wanted to present myself is communicate
with him and say, `I'm here.' Like, `I'm strong.' Like, `I'm with you. We are
together.' And I just, like, wanted to convey that message to him, that I was
not destroyed or anything like that, that the baby was fine. So that was my
main concern and my only concern, really. I also thought, `If he's watching
me, then his captors also are watching me. To these people, also, I am going
to tell them, "If you think you've taken everything away from me, it's wrong.
You know, you're not achieving your aim,"' which, you know--they were trying
to terrify you. So I was not terrified. I was just like, you know, trying to
have a language of common sense. And I thought, based on my experience of
talking with these people, that was the best thing to do as opposed to, you
know, be crying on TV.

GROSS: Did you think that it would be possible to get sympathy from the
terrorists because you and your husband were expecting a baby?

Ms. PEARL: I did not think I could expect sympathy from the terrorists. The
only thing I could hope was that they were publicity hungry and they wanted,
you know, a lot of attention, and then they will release Danny because that
was their plan in the first place. That's the only thing I could hope for.
The people who have, you know, destroyed 3,000 lives in the World Trade
Center, to people who have done nothing to them and they were completely
innocent would not release Danny because I was pregnant. I knew that since
day one.

BIANCULLI: Mariane Pearl speaking to Terry Gross in 2003. More after a
break. This is FRESH AIR.


BIANCULLI: Let's get back to Terry's 2003 interview with journalist and
author Mariane Pearl, widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel

GROSS: You got a series of four photographs of your husband before he was
executed. Would you just describe those photos?

Ms. PEARL: When we received those photos, we were all waiting for signs. We
had been without any kind of message for three days. I was surrounded by
people that helped me read those photos. The first one was Danny with a gun
pointed on his head, and he had his head down. It's a very strange picture
because you can see he's smiling, which is, of course, a message, the same
message that I would have had on television, right, by being strong. The
second photo is him with shackles on his hands, but he's also doing the
finger. You know, giving the finger, you say, I think?--you know....

GROSS: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Ms. PEARL: ...on two of those pictures. So in all of them he managed to
communicate his state of mind and his strength and everything, his love and
his defiance. So it was at the same time, of course, scary to see him with a
gun pointed at his head, but at the same time it was very comforting because I
knew he was exactly in the same state of mind that I was.

GROSS: His execution was videotaped, and at the end he's on tape saying, `My
father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.' Do you think he was told
to say that?

Ms. PEARL: I think he might have been told to say that, to say that he was
Jewish. But what he wasn't told, because that would have been impossible, was
that his grandfather had a street named after him in a little village in
Israel. And so that's information that only his family could know, only I
could know. And that's his way of saying, `I am proud of who I am, and that's
how I'm going to die.'

GROSS: Do you think a lot about the attitude with which he faced death, and
when you think about his attitude, do you find that comforting or upsetting?

Ms. PEARL: Oh, his attitude is, I mean, it's so comforting. It may be not
the right word, but I constantly come back to that moment when faced with --I
mean, he couldn't avoid his death. There was nothing he could do. But faced
by people who wanted to kill him for who he was, he decided to be proud,
sorry, of who he was. That strength and that courage he had is something I
always come back to, in mind, to go on with my life or to do what I have to
do. And, you know, when I'm very or too sad, I just always come back to that
moment and gather strength from it.

GROSS: How did you find out that he was executed?

Ms. PEARL: I found out because the video was out. For two weeks, we didn't
know what had happened, and then suddenly the video was out, was released by
the people who had edited it. So the FBI had a call and received the video
and all the investigative team went to Randall Bennett's house, who's one of
their investigators, and watched the video and now identified it. So then
they came back to the house and they told me.

GROSS: That video ended up on the Internet. At least one news organization
played part of it. Can you talk a little bit about your reaction to the
circulation of the video?

Ms. PEARL: The reason why they killed Danny the way they killed him,
beheaded him and taped his murder, the sole purpose was to show that video and
terrify people. So it was a strategy. Of course, you know, they send those
tapes to news organizations and put it on the Internet because that was a
point. That was a goal. Now it was up to the news organization to decide
what to do with these images.

The fact that they had just had one news organization, which is CBS, decided
to broadcast it was very sad, not so much because, you know, I mean, because
it's vulgar, but more because that's exactly what the terrorists wanted them
to do. And the fact that they didn't understand that for a country that had
just been hit by terrorism so hard, that made me angry, very angry.

GROSS: What about the vulgar aspects of it? What about the aspect that there
are people in the country who saw your husband being beheaded on video?

Ms. PEARL: You know, people are--there is, like, you know, a dark side or an
animal side in human beings that are attracted to, you know, those kind of
images. It's like lower instincts--right?--basic instincts. You can appeal
to that because that, you know, generates interest, generates money, generates
viewing and ratings. It's a responsibility to broadcast those images, you
know? And the only reason that I found on the Internet because there were
people chatting about it: Should they do it? Should they not do it? The
only reason for it was freedom of expression. It's completely wrong. That's
not a freedom of expression. That's pure, you know, pure animal instinct, you
know, the same way there are videos about people being murdered--I mean, all
kinds of other murders or rapes or that kind of--that's how low it is.
There's nothing there. There's nothing there in terms of--you know, the
reason that it was explained to me was that it's newsworthy, and it wasn't
newsworthy, you know? It was no news. Like, we knew what had happened to
Danny. You know, it was just voyeurism. I don't know the word in English.
It's, you know, when you want to...

GROSS: Voyeurism.

Ms. PEARL: Voyeurism, exactly.

GROSS: How has the kidnapping and murder of your husband affected your
willingness to travel or the kind of journalism that you practice?

Ms. PEARL: Oh, it made me more determined to do what we did together. One
of my challenges--you know, what I did for me to survive was that I listed all
the goals that the terrorists had, you know. I did the opposite of CBS and I
decided to deny them all those goals. So one of those goals was to instill
fear in me; of traveling; of others; of, you know, making me lose my
confidence. And I fought very hard so that, you know, they wouldn't achieve
that goal. So I'm still very much interested by, you know, the human race and
our world. And Danny taught me so much about, you know, good journalism and
objectivity and truth. I will definitely go on.

GROSS: Mariane Pearl, I really want to thank you for talking with us.

Ms. PEARL: Thank you.

BIANCULLI: Mariane Pearl speaking to Terry Gross in 2003. Her book about the
life and death of her husband, "A Mighty Heart," has been made into a movie
that will be released next week. Angelina Jolie stars as Mariane Pearl.

Coming up, David Edelstein on a new zombie satire film. This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: David Edelstein reviews the film "Fido"

The profanely funny Scottish-born Billy Connolly has long been one of the UK's
top comedians, but in the last decade he's become equally well known as an
actor in such films as "The Last Samurai," and Lemony Snicket's "A Series of
Unfortunate Events." But nothing he has done can prepare audiences for his
performance as a mute zombie in "Fido." The horror comedy, directed by Andrew
Currie, also stars Carrie-Anne Moss and Dylan Baker. Film critic David
Edelstein has a review.


Fido is the name a kid gives to his family's domestic servant, a zombie
cannibal in a collar that neutralizes his urge to crunch human flesh. It's
unusual, this bond between zombie and child. Years earlier, a virus caused
the resurrection of the dead. Humans and zombies fought a war, and with the
help of a military corporation called ZomCom, the living dead were killed or
enslaved. Or course, anyone who dies becomes a contagious flesh eater, which
means you have to keep tabs on people, especially the elderly. Even little
kids are trained in sharpshooting. Civil liberties are history. But
suburbanites are pleased with the arrangement. Zombies make fine
groundskeepers. The best homes own several.

That "Fido" offers satire along with splatter should come as no surprise.
George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" was a brilliant spook house mirror
of social and family upheaval in the '60s, and his "Dawn of the Dead" made
zombies the ultimate mindless consumers, their rampages not unlike holiday
time Wal-Mart stampedes. In 2005, Joe Dante and Sam Hamm made a film for
Showtime's "Masters of Horrors" series called "Homecoming," a parable in which
dead vets burst out of their flag-draped coffins to cast votes again the Iraq
war. The recent "28 Weeks Later," the follow-up to "28 Days Later," was an
incendiary portrait of American soldiers guarding a green zone and taking
massive civilian casualties. Zombie films are grossly exploitive, and that's
not always a bad thing.

"Fido" is the blood wedding of Romero and SCTV, and it's a treat for those who
don't mind gnawed-off limbs with their hijinks. The picture is set in a retro
society reminiscent of the '50s, a bit tiresome since the palette of fiesta
wear colors is heavy-handed, and in terms of satire the decade's "Father Know
Best" archetypes have been picked clean. But the movie is madly funny, and
director and co-writer Andrew Currie treats his characters with so much
affection that even the stereotypes have a fresh life.

The shy kid protagonist, played by the gifted K'Sun Ray, is Timmy, not
incidentally the name of the boy in Lassie. He gets his pet when his upwardly
mobile mom, played by Carrie-Anne Moss, acquires a zombie to keep up with the
Joneses. That's in spite of the squeamishness of her husband, played by Dylan
Baker, who never got over the trauma of blowing away his zombie father. The
marvelous Scottish actor and comedian Billy Connolly plays Fido. He can't
speak, but he can groan and fetch a ball. When he accidentally collides with
a nasty old lady, she beats him with her walker and deactivates his safety
collar. Bad move. After hiding the old lady's mangled body, Timmy and Fido
bump into Alexia Fast, who happens to be the young daughter of a ZomCom
enforcer, played by Henry Czerny.

(Soundbite of "Fido")

Ms. ALEXIA FAST: (As Cindy Bottoms): You're not allowed to have a zombie
without a leash. You're a kid.

Mr. K'SUN RAY: (As Timmy) I don't care about stupid ZomCom rules.

Ms. FAST: (As Cindy Bottoms) Here comes my dad and he sure cares.

(Soundbite of music)

(Soundbite of car engine)

Mr. HENRY CZERNY: (As Mr. Bottoms) Hello, Tommy.

Ms. FAST: (As Cindy Bottoms) It's Timmy.

Mr. CZERNY: (As Mr. Bottoms) Right you are, sweetheart.

Is that blood on your zombie?

Mr. RAY: (As Timmy) Uh, it was a nose bleed.

Mr. CZERNY: (As Mr. Bottoms) Oh, that's not a fresh zombie. Only fresh
zombies bleed, son.

Mr. RAY: (as Timmy) I meant my nose.

Mr. CZERNY: (As Mr. Bottoms) How did blood from your nose get onto your
zombie then?

Mr. RAY: (As Timmy) I wiped it there.

Ms. FAST: (As Cindy Bottoms) Daddy, can I go now? I can't be late for my
first ballet class.

(End of soundbite)

EDELSTEIN: Connolly looks so dopey and innocent in that scene. He showed up
at a screening I went to, and as I watched him extemporize hilariously in his
long white hair and beard, I couldn't believe he'd have the guts to play a
role in which he's mute and clean-shaven, let alone he'd give a performance
that conjures up Boris Karloff and Stan Laurel. His skin is purplish and
mottled, but his features remain naked. His eyes convey the sadness of
someone caught between two worlds. Of course, he does have a bit of hubba
hubba eye contact with Carrie-Anne Moss. Who knew she was so poised a
comedian? Her sexual longing smolders through her '50s housewife manners, and
the love triangle with her and Connolly and Dylan Baker, that master of
cobwebbed subterranean emotion, is a howl.

"Fido"'s central joke is subversive. It hints at what some social critics say
is Americans' unsustainable insulated suburban lifestyle. Whether or not you
share that view, you'll agree that the best zombie movies are the opposite of
those potent Polynesian drinks of the same name that zonk you out. These
zombies shock your eyes wide open.

BIANCULLI: David Edelstein is film critic for New York Magazine.


(Soundbite of "You're the First, the Last, My Everything")

Mr. BARRY WHITE: We got it together, didn't we?
We've definitely got our thing together, don't we, baby?
Isn't that nice?
I mean, really, when you really sit and think about it
Isn't it really, really nice?
I can easily feel...

(End of soundbite)

BIANCULLI: Let's end the week by celebrating a great beginning. One of our
newest FRESH AIR family members, Jonathan Menjivar, is getting hitched
tomorrow to Hillary Frank. Everyone here wishes them all the best and more.

For Terry Gross, I'm David Bianculli.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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