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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Craig, Cindy Corrie

Aired June 27, 2003 - 20:20   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: The Israeli army has closed the file on the death of an American activist in the Gaza Strip. Twenty-three- year-old Rachel Corrie was crushed to death so some say by an armored bulldozer March 16. Corrie was trying to block the demolition of a doctor's home in a Palestinian refugee camp.
The site of the accident was in a highly-contested area at the border of Egypt and the Gaza Strip, an area which the Israelis say was full of tunnels housing weapons stockpiles. Well, today, Israel's military prosecutor ruled that Rachel Corrie's death was accidental.

Her parents join me now from Washington. Thank you so much for joining us, Craig and Cindy Corrie.

CRAIG CORRIE, FATHER: Good evening.

CYNTHIA CORRIE, MOTHER: Thank you for having us.

ZAHN: I want to start off by reading a very brief statement to the two of you from the IDF to get your reaction to what the Israelis are saying. This was obtained by CNN and it starts off by saying:

"The results of the investigation indicate that the death of Ms. Corrie was no caused by direct contact with the bulldozer or being run over but by earth and rubble that was being moved by the bulldozers. After reviewing all of the circumstances of the event, it was concluded that fault could not be found in the conduct of the soldiers involved."

So, they're saying this was an accident. Is this a whitewash?

Well, of course we haven't seen the report. That's not been provided to our government or to us at least as of this morning. So, all I can say is that we have had eyewitness reports from six people. That is not at all what those eyewitnesses saw. That's something -- this is what they've been claiming for a long time.

And also, the government, the Israeli government did an autopsy of Rachel's body before they would release it. They demanded that and we allowed them to do that with a doctor of their choice, although we would not allow it to be done by a military physician. And, their findings were that she was crushed, in their words, by a piece of large machinery. So, you know, it doesn't even go with their own raw data. ZAHN: Cindy, I know how fresh your loss is and how raw you must be feeling. There are some pictures just to give the audience a context of what your daughter was up against.

In one of the pictures you can see the bulldozer coming close to the area where she was standing and then the next image is too horrific for any of us to even try to understand here.

But you, no doubt know, Cindy, that some people out there say this was an extremely volatile area. Why would she have put herself in that position? What do you say to those folks?

CYNTHIA CORRIE: Rachel after 9/11 actually decided to devote her life to peace activism or, at least, that portion of her life. She had studied this area. She had learned from people who had spent time in the occupied territories and from Israelis who became her mentors, Israelis who opposed the occupation.

And, she believed that this was a forsaken part of the world and that we in this country, particularly, while we focused on the terrible violence that happens inside Israel that we had ignored the violence that was happening on a daily basis in the occupied territories.

And, she needed to do something important and she felt a need to go there and, while it was difficult for our family hearing about her intention, we feel like that she was an adult. She made that decision and she was very courageous. She wasn't unafraid but she was determined to do this. It was important and she awakened us to that situation.

ZAHN: So, you're basically saying then she was very well aware of just how dangerous this situation was?

CYNTHIA CORRIE: I think to the extent that any of us being in this country can be aware of how dangerous it is I think she was. She sometimes, I think, tried to reassure us. No one in the group that she was with, the International Solidarity Movement, had been killed up to that point and she kept reminding us of that.

But I know that once she got there she wrote in her e-mails that no amount of documentary viewing, no amount of word of mouth information could prepare you for the reality of what it was to be in the Gaza Strip and to be in Rafah in particular but I know she did understand that danger and was aware of some of what she would be facing.

ZAHN: Well, again, I know this is a very difficult time for your family. Cindy and Craig Corrie thank you for joining us. I know the State Department promised as this was addressed, actually between President Bush and Ariel Sharon that you would get some answers and I appreciate your sharing some of the details with us this evening. Thank you for your time.

CINDY CORRIE: Thank you.

CRAIG CORRIE: Thank you.

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