tv CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley CBS October 11, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
>> pelley: tonight, the u.s. accuses iran of plotting an assassination in the united states. the alleged target, the saudi ambassador. a u.s. citizen is under arrest. bob orr, liz palmer, and norah o'donnell are on the story. jan crawford on a big boost for mitt romney. an endorsement from chris christie. dr. jon lapook tells us about a new study that links vitamin "e" to an increased risk of prostate cancer. and celia hatton on the search for the american dream in, of all places, china. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley.
>> pelley: good evening. tonight, the united states is accusing the iranian government of plotting to assassinate the saudi ambassador to the u.s. with a bombing attack on a restaurant here in america. one man who holds u.s. and iranian citizenship is under arrest, another suspect is at large. the justice department says the man in custody has confessed and identified iranian government officials who were involved. secretary of state hillary clinton says this "crosses a line an iran needs to be held accountable." iran has denied the allegations. we have a number of correspondents on this story tonight and we begin with bob orr. bob? >> reporter: scott, u.s. officials say it was an audacious murder for hire plot conceived, financed, and put into motion by officials inside the iranian government. the intended target was the saudi ambassador to the united states, abdel al-jubeir. >> there was the threat of
violence and terrorism. >> reporter: a close krft of the saudi king and u.s. officials. attorney general eric holder unveiled the plot saying it was launched in iran last spring by officials inside a special operations unit of the iranian military. >> this was directed and approved by elements of the iranian government and specifically senior members of the quds force. >> reporter: court papers unsealed today allege quds officials conspired with an iranian american named manssor arbabsiar to plot the killing. arbabsiar traveled to mexico to hire a hit squad he believed worked for one of the violent mexican drug cartel. instead, arbabsiar made contact with an undercover informant working for the d.e.a. over six months, the informant recorded conversations with arbabsiar and helped him solicit $100,000 from iranian contacts as a down payment for the murder. f.b.i. director robert mueller. >> these individuals have no regard for hair intended victim, no regard for innocent citizens who might have been hurt or
killed in this attempted assassination. >> reporter: federal prosecutors say the conspirators discussed killing the ambassador with a bombing at a washington restaurant and arbabsiar shows no concern over the potential deaths of innocent bystanders. now, sources say arbabsiar, who was arrested nearly two weeks ago, also talked about wanting to attack embassies of saudi arabia and israel and he also implicated by name one of those officials in the quds force. that man, gohlam shakuri, has now been charged in the case but he's still in iran so he's not in custody. u.s. officials, though, said they monitored numerous phone calls between arbabsiar and shakuri in recent weeks. just a week ago agents listened in as arbabsiar encouraged shakuri to move quickly with the plot saying "just do it, it's late." >> pelley: how did officials take arbabsiar into custody?
>> it's a great story. he was tricked into going mexico last month to allegedly meet with the hit squad. he was told, in fact, he'd be held as personal collateral until the murder contract could be paid in full but when he got to mexico the authorities were in on the sting so they shipped him to new york and the f.b.i. was waiting, scott. >> pelley: bob, thanks very much. after his arrest, arbabsiar was held in secret, that is until today when he was take on the federal court in lower manhattan. michelle miller is there. >> reporter: manssor arbabsiar, scott, was escorted into that courtroom by federal marshals, he was not wearing handcuffs. the walls of that courtroom were packed with d.e.a. and f.b.i. agents. he was wearing blue jeans, a blue dress shirt and a rather prominent scar on the left side of his face that ran from his lip to his ear. the only time he spoke to the judge was when he said "yes" when asked whether or not he qualified for a public defender. that court-appointed attorney spoke to him very quietly, she
patted him on the back several times. she did not request bail, scott, which simply means that he will remain in jail until his next court date on october 25 and, scott, arbabsiar's attorney told us that if or when he is indicted, he will plead not guilty. >> pelley: thanks, michelle. president obama was notified of the alleged plot back in june. norah o'donnell is at the white house tonight. norah? >> reporter: scott, tonight a senior advisor to president obama tells me this is a dangerous escalation in iranian behavior. in fact, president obama's national security advisor tom donelan flew to saudi arabia two weeks ago to inform saudi king abdullah about this assassination attempt on one of his closest advisors and today the treasury department announced new financial sanctions against the islamic revolutionary guard corps. already, of course, the target of heavy sanctions because of their role in the nuclear
program. now the u.s. government is targeting five individuals and freezing their assets. >> pelley: norah, thank you. as bob orr mentioned earlier, the plot was allegedly run by the secretive iranian military group called the quds force. we asked liz palmer in london to tell us more. liz? >> reporter: well, scott, the quds force is a sort of subdivision of the iranian revolutionary guard, thought to be about 15,000 men strong. a large part of their mission is to train and support insurgent groups and terrorist groups outside iran. now, we don't have any pictures of them, for obvious rngs they tend to be camera shy, but we can show you some of the results of their operations. in 1994, a bomb destroyed the jewish community center in buenos aires in argentina, killing 85 people. evidence suggested the attack was planned and executed by the quds force. in 2007, deadly explosive charges started showing up in
iraq. so sophisticated they were even able to pierce america's extra-armored vehicles. president bush himself pointed the finger at the quds force. >> i can say with certainty that the quds force-- a part of the iranian government-- has provided by these sophisticated i.e.d.s that have harmed our troops. >> reporter: this shadowy unit is led by brigadier general kassem solemani, he was designate add supporter of terrorism in 2007. he doesn't answer to any elected official but to iran's clef cleric, supreme leader ali khamenei. the force which is believed to fund itself in part through smuggling supports the militant armed wing of hazard in lebanon and hamas in gaza. people who watch the quds force closely say this alleged attack in washington, if true, is uncharacteristically brazen for
them and represents unprecedented provocation. scott? >> pelley: liz, thank you very much. in another terror case, a federal prosecutor in detroit made his opening statement today in the trial of the so-called underwear bomber, umar farouk abdulmutallab. the nigerian is accused of trying to bring down a northwest airlines plane on christmas day in 2009. the prosecutor told the jury that his flight 253 was on final approach to detroit abdulmutallab prayed and put on perfume preparing to die but the bomb hidden in his underwear caught fire but did not explode. abdulmutallab is representing himself with the assistance of a court-appointed lawyer. the defense declined to make an opening statement today. the republican contenders are debating tonight at dartmouth college in new hampshire. front-runner mitt romney is expected to be a target for his rivals but he is armed now with a key endorsement from governor
chris christie of new jersey. political correspondent jan crawford is in new hampshire. jan? >> reporter: scott, expectations were high for romney going into tonight's debate on the economy, that's his signature issue. but his campaign got a big boost even before he takes that stage. (cheers and applause) in his typical no-nonsense style, christie got straight to the point. >> america cannot survive another four years of barack obama and mitt romney is the man we need to lead america and we need him now. >> reporter: the announcement came over a week after christie crushed the hopes of some republicans after he announce head would not run for president. christie's endorsement allows romney to claim he is the choice of the g.o.p. establishment. >> he's a man who has a following of a lot of folks across this country. >> reporter: romney has retaken the top position in the polls after falling behind texas governor rick perry. perry, who entered the race just two months ago has struggled in his first three debates.
>> i kind of feel like the pinata at the party. >> reporter: the latest gallup poll shows perry falling from first place with 29% in august to 15% this week. romney is back out front with 20%. and now perry has competition for the tea party vote from businessman herman cain who surged passed into second with 18%. perry was hoping to use tonight's debate on the economy to jump start his campaign and to move beyond recent remarks by one of his supporters about romney's religion. pastor robert jeffress last week called mormonism a cult and said romney is not a christian. both christie and romney said today that perry's handling of the matter was wrong. >> any campaign that associates itself with that type of conduct is beneath the office of president of the united states in my view. >> i would call upon governor perry to repudiate the sentiment and the remarks made by that pastor. >> reporter: now all this, of course, only heightens the expectations and the pressure on
perry to perform tonight. obviously tensions very high here. but even if he's stumbling tonight, scott, it's too soon to count him out. he's raised $17 million already and that is more than enough to keep his campaign going while he works to get things back on track. >> pelley: well, jan, this is a high-profile endorsement, but i wonder, how much impact do you think it will have on voters? >> reporter: well, that's right. it's true endorsements don't necessarily translate into votes but this one is significant because a lot of those big-time donors, those prominent conservatives who have been pushing chris christie to get into this race now are starting to go to romney and with today's announcement, romney's only going to sew up that support and that money. >> pelley: jan, thank you very much. a new link, a new study finds a link between vitamin "e" supplements and a higher risk of prostate cancer. unemployed americans are going where the jobs are-- overseas. and the first lady jumps at the chance to help set a record when
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vitamin rey linked to an increase in the disease, not a lower risk. we asked dr. jon lapook to look into this. >> reporter: the findings shocked the medical community, especially dr. eric klein who led the research. >> i said "wow." that was a completely unexpected finding. i guess the bigger picture is that we tend to think of vitamins as innocuous substances and clearly they're not. >> reporter: the trial began a decade ago to see if vitamin "e" and the mineral selenium could prevent prostate cancer. more than 35,000 men participated. some received just vitamin "e," some received selenium, and some received both. in 2008, the first results were in. none of it prevented cancer and everyone was told to stop taking the vitamins. then a disturbing trend emerged in one group. >> men who took vitamin "e" alone were at a 17% increased risk of developing prostate cancer. >> reporter: that comes to 16 more cases of prostate cancer a year for every 10,000 men taking vitamin "e" alone.
68-year-old ralph sanderson took vitamin "e" in the study. so far, his prostate is fine and he's philosophical about the experience. >> i was just disappointed that the results were what they were but, no, i don't regret my participation at all. >> reporter: the typical vitamin "e" dosage in multivitamins is about a tenth or less of the 400 units used in the study. still, millions of men taking any vitamin "e" are now faced with a decision. >> there really is not any evidence that taking vitamin "e" or selenium are beneficial for general health. they don't prevent prostate cancer, they don't prevent cardiovascular disease, they don't prevent lung or colorectal cancer and they don't make people live longer. >> reporter: the f.d.a. has only limited authority over dietary supplements and there is no law requiring that they actually do what they claim. >> pelley: jon, this is the second study this week that has been a warning about the use of vitamins. what should we take from this? >> reporter: scoot, i think for vitamin "d" the jury is still out and vegetarians may
need b-12 supplementation but if you're healthy and your absorption is fine, you're probably fine with a diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables. >> pelley: thank you, jon. michelle obama is keeping up her campaign to create health. on the white house lawn, the first lady and about 400 children kicked off an attempt to set a world record for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period. similar events are being held around the country. it will take 20,425 jumpers to set the record. an american takes aim at qaddafi's fighters in libya. but what in the world is he doing there? that's just ahead. hey, where's harriat?
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>> pelley: israel and hamas reached an agreement today for the release of an israeli soldier whose long imprisonment has been a major obstacle in the middle east conflict. sergeant gilad shalit was dragged into gaza by palestinian militants in june, 2006. he's been held ever since despite many attempts to negotiate his freedom. under this agreement, hamas will release shalit within a few days and the israelis will free more than a thousand palestinian prisoners. in the battle for libya, a nato spokesman said today it does not make sense that qaddafi loyalists are still fighting in his hometown of surt.
former rebels have them surrounded and our allenby says was in the thick of the fighting. >> reporter: rebels dashed frantically across a sniper killer ground. covering fire came from comrades with more courage than military know how, but they seemed to be winning. and in yet another bizarre twist in this war, the man firing the antiaircraft gun is an american. matthew van dyke came here in march to fight alongside a libyan friend, was caught by qaddafi's men and escaped when tripoli fell. >> i came to this country willing to kill people for freedom. yeah, it's something i struggle with, you know? i hope i don't have to kill
anybody. maybe i just did, i don't know. >> reporter: amazingly, someone appeared, alive, from the receiving end of the savage barrage of fire. a prisoner. "t please forgive me" he pleaded. "i'm a poor man, i work on a farm." his captors claim the man was caught with a sniper rifle. snipers are the hardest enemy to fight. every round they fire draws hundreds, maybe thousands in response. even if qaddafi's men offered to surrender, no one would hear them. allen pizzey, cbs news, surt. >> pelley: actress angelina jolie is also in libya tonight in her role as a united nations' good will ambassador. she's meeting wit meeting with n tripoli and misurata during her two-day visit. jolie says she hopes to witness, as she put it, the promise of the arab spring. you might be surprised to learn how far some people are willing to go to find a job. that story when we come back.
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>> pelley: in the reporting we've been doing all around the country, we meat lot of people struggling to find work. but now we're finding out just how far some of them will go for a job. celia hatton tells us they're chasing the american dream halfway around the world in the booming economy of china. >> reporter: everyday ben paul bikes to work at a shanghai advertising agency. it's a major change from 2009 when he was laid off in los angeles. >> job hunting in l.a. was really disheartening. one because there's very little to look for in the first place and the hard thing is i didn't hear back from anyone. >> reporter: after six months of looking for a job in america, ben and his wife arcelia gave china a try. they made the right decision. arcelia was this high demand as a therapist for autistic children despite having no
chinese language skills. it took ben just a month to land a senior position he's always wanted even though he only speaks conversational mandarin. more than 71,000 americans work in china as permanent residents and hundreds of thousands more are employed under temporary visas. chon's leadership smoothing the way for more white collar foreign workers to arrive by easing the visa process and extending chinese social security to all. >> if you can show people that you have the skills that might not show up on a resume but you believe in yourself that you have them, there will be someone here willing to at least listen to you. >> reporter: ben paul's had a relatively easy ride here, but not everyone's so fortunate. americans who come to china searching for jobs have to compete with a growing number of well-educated chinese people. more than six million new college graduates flood china's job market every year. >> here in china i really think that i can get in with a company as they're starting to expand. >> reporter: pennsylvania
native phil geanacopoulos hasn't found a job. everyday he's hitting the pavement in shanghai resume in hand looking to match his ambitions. >> if i prove myself within one or two years i can be the executive vice president or head of marketing. >> reporter: phil is studying chinese to improve his prospects and his eventual paycheck. >> i see you got your photo. >> reporter: in china, the salary that may be small by u.s. standards can support a comfortable life-style. and that's key. >> we can get a place in this area. >> reporter: ben and arcelia miss their family and friends back home. the tradeoff is worth it to benefit from china's growing economy. celia hatton, cbs news, shanghai. >> pelley: and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. for all of us at cbs news all around the world, good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org