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Bush Administration to Offer No Quick Fixes for Rising Gas Prices; Secretary of Defense to Propose Overhaul of Defense Policy

Aired May 7, 2001 - 17:00   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.

As gas prices keep rising, the White House tries to get Americans pumped up about its energy plan-in-the-making.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is not going to focus on what Washington always focuses on, which is political solutions to get you through the night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Also ahead: Reflections on how Al Gore spent the first 100 days of the Bush presidency.

And a month after the riots in Cincinnati, will the results of a grand jury probe spark new violence?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR CHARLES LUKEN (D), CINCINNATI, OHIO: I have to be hopeful that we're not going to experience a lot of unrest tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Now, Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us. Judy is on assignment today. I'm Frank Sesno.

To borrow a famous phrase from the first President Bush, the White House response today to rising gas prices could be described as: Message, we care, but that doesn't mean the White House will do anything about it, at least not right away. The nation's average price at the pump has increased nearly 9 cents in the last two weeks to $1.72 cents a gallon, with the Midwest and the West experiencing the biggest jumps.

But as CNN senior White House correspondent John King explains, when it comes to energy, the Bush White House says it's trying to think farther down the road. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A sign of the times: Gas prices on the rise, again. But motorists should not expect immediate help when the president releases a major new energy strategy this month.

FLEISCHER: The president is not going to focus on what Washington always focuses on, which is political solutions to get you through the night. He's going to focus on long-term solutions that get the American people through both the night and the day.

KING: So Mr. Bush opposes suspending the federal gas tax to help motorists or price caps to help California consumers facing rising electricity costs and a summer of rolling blackouts. But the administration plan will offer incentives for building new oil refineries and new power plants and transmission lines.

Progress on those fronts would take years, and critics say the emphasis on supply is short-sighted.

ALDEN MEYER, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS: With less than 3 percent of the world's proven oil reserves and 25 percent of oil consumption, our dependence on oil imports for a majority of our supply is a given if we continue to drive gas-guzzling vehicles.

KING: The White House says long-term energy policy need not put a crimp on lifestyles, like the love of sport utility vehicles and powering up to go online.

FLEISCHER: It should be the goal of policy-makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one, and we have a bounty of resources in this country.

KING: But administration sources tell CNN there will be some significant conservation measures in the plan: new money for energy efficiency programs, and a variety of tax incentives to encourage research and development of alternative fuels and fuel cells, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, and combined heat and power plants.

But critics are betting the conservation measures will be modest and dwarfed by controversial new supply initiatives, like drilling on federal lands that are home to threatened and endangered species.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: The White House says there is no magic wand Mr. Bush or any politician can wave to lower gas prices. So for all the immediate anxiety over prices at the pump, the president believes his time is best spent making the case for long-term solutions -- Frank.

SESNO: And John, politics is always local, but what people feel at the pumps is what translates. What you're saying is they're not feeling it at pumps, not enough to speak out.

KING: Well, the administration doesn't say that there's not consumer anxiety out there. What is says is there is nothing the president can do about it in the short-term that would make any major impact. Now, that's the White House line.

Some congressional Republicans are a bit nervous about this, and they might try to do something when the president sends up his long- term plan, maybe add a little something, maybe a temporary suspension of four or five cents of that federal gas tax, because remember, they face the voters in 2002. Mr. Bush doesn't face them until 2004.

SESNO: John King at the White House. Thanks very much.

And for more on emerging Bush administration energy policy, stay with CNN tomorrow for a live interview with Vice President Dick Cheney. John King will be sitting down and speaking with the vice president. You should know, he's the head of the president's energy task force. The interview takes place at 10:45 a.m. Eastern time. By the way, we'll be replaying the interview tomorrow, if you can't be live at 10:45, on INSIDE POLITICS right here.

Also on this program tomorrow: From California, Judy Woodruff, who is on assignment there, interviewing the chief energy adviser to Governor Gray Davis, David Freeman.

Now, let's go to Capitol Hill and our Congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl. Jonathan, how are rising energy costs playing with members of Congress? What are you hearing up there?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is obviously concern about this issue. This is an issue that affects all the constituents of the senators and members of the House, but over here in the Senate side, one thing that's talked about a little bit on the Republican side, you heard John King allude to, which is something to do with the gas tax, lowering that 18.4 percent gas tax, maybe an outright repeal.

This was an idea that was talked about when gas prices shot up last summer. It's an idea that did not pass the Senate, and it may even have a tougher time this time around, because the strongest advocate, Frank, for repealing that gas tax last year was Spence Abraham, of course, is no longer in the Senate but is in that White House, that administration that is talking about not pushing for repeal of the gas tax.

SESNO: The secretary of energy. OK, let's touch on a couple of other topics, Jonathan. These are busy times. The White House set to send its list of judicial nominations to Capitol Hill this week. Expectations?

KARL: Well, there's an interesting development on that front. That list is going to be a little bit smaller than what we had anticipated, Frank. We were expecting about 14 or 15 circuit court nominations to come up on Wednesday here on Capitol Hill. Now that number may be closer to 11 or 12. And the reason is this: The White House is seeking to avert a major showdown on some of these nominations by only sending up judicial nominations this week from -- for judges from states where both senators have signed off on the nomination.

This has been a major point of contention. Democrats want to have, essentially, veto power for home-state senators. Well -- so they are going to avert the showdown.

One person this affects immediately is Chris Cox, who, of course, is in the House of Representatives, a member from California. He was on track to be appointed as circuit court judge out in California.

Barbara Boxer, the senator from California, one of the two senators has been adamantly opposed to the Cox nomination, and now we're told that's on hold. The Cox nomination will not be coming up this week.

SESNO: So is his nomination dead?

KARL: Not at all. The White House still wants to fight for this, we're told by congressional sources. The White House has said that they will bring Cox up, but this is something that will be postponed. Right now, by the way, Cox -- they're working on Dianne Feinstein, the other California senator. Feinstein had a meeting with Cox last Thursday. Feinstein remains uncommitted at this point.

SESNO: All right. Speaking of fighting -- you mentioned that -- let's talk -- talk taxes for a moment here. In terms of what the president can expect and whether there is any kind of bipartisan budget victory looming in the Senate to make his day?

KARL: Well, we are waiting finally for that vote on the budget outline. That's expected Wednesday in the House, perhaps Wednesday night or maybe Thursday in the Senate. And as you remember, when the budget deal passed here in the Senate, the first time around, it got 15 Democratic votes. Well, it looks right now that it's definitely not going to get 15 Democratic votes. There's actually even some concern about whether or not it would pass in its current form.

There are now two Republicans, Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee, who voted for the last deal, saying that because of some of the changes that have happened since then, they are leaning against voting for it. And also two of the Democrats who voted "yes" are now saying they're leaning against it, John Edwards and Dianne Feinstein,

So it's expected that it will eventually pass here in the Senate, but there may be a little bit of a fight over it.

SESNO: OK, Jonathan, before we leave you today, you've got so much good stuff -- one more -- one more stop here: 50/50. We've spent a lot of time talking about the math in the Senate and how it affects major policy, but it affects things a little bit less, perhaps, visible as well, such as the parliamentarian. Want to tell us about that and what it means?

KARL: Major internal battle going on right now on that, Frank, as a matter of fact. The parliamentarian is somebody who sits there behind, you know, on the Senate floor and rules on points of rules, of Senate rules, makes -- makes rulings. Well, the parliamentarian is now a guy by the name of Robert Dove, who has served in that position under Republican leadership since 1980 when Bob Dole first appointed him to the post.

Well, Dove has been told that he will be fired. He has been given notice that he, sometime in the next month or two, will be transitioned out of that job, and that is because he has ruled against the Republicans on a couple, you know, points of order, points of Senate rules. And in a 50/50 Senate, these arcane rules actually can be make-or-break for the Republicans. So they're moving him out.

SENSO: Rules matter. Jon Karl on the Hill. Thanks very much.

Well, as the Bush administration moves ahead on tax cuts, energy and other minor issues of our daily lives, Bill Schneider has been thinking about family ties and the vision thing.

Bill, the vision thing, it's back.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The vision thing. Well, you know how they say, "like father, like son." Is that true for the Bushes? Well, they do look alike. But after a hundred days, we've learned that Bush the first and Bush the second are very different kinds of politicians.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): During the 1988 campaign, critics complained that Bush the first did not have a bold agenda -- just "no new taxes" and "a kinder, gentler America."

Candidate Bush protested that he did, indeed, have the vision thing: a phrase that came to haunt his administration. At the outset, some 80 percent of Americans were satisfied with President Bush's vision for the future. Times were good and voters were not looking for big changes. By 1992, however, the economy had turned sour, and the country was looking for new vision. Most Americans did not think they were getting it from President Bush. He had become the in-box president, dealing problems as they came across his desk with no sense of plan or direction. Bush the first paid dearly for it at the polls.

Now here comes Bush the second, also elected at a time of prosperity when Americans did not seem to want any big change of direction. So what did this Bush offer? Vision.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A time of prosperity is a test of vision, and our nation today needs vision.

SCHNEIDER: This President Bush has been far more visionary than his father. Not just "no new taxes," but a huge tax cut. His first 100 days are over, but President Bush shows no sign of slowing down. Just last week, he proposed an ambitious missile defense plan and a fundamental change in Social Security.

Through his vice president, he's about to propose a shift in energy strategy from conservation to production. He's doing what he said he would when he addressed Congress in February. BUSH: We must show courage to confront and resolve tough challenges, to restructure our nation's defenses, to meet our growing need for energy and to reform Medicare and Social Security.

SCHNEIDER: There's no public clamor for these kinds of big changes, but Bush II doesn't want to end up like Bush I. And so far, he hasn't.

Asked to rate President Bush's personal qualities after 100 days, "has a vision for the country's future" tops the list, ahead of honesty and leadership. And that helps him secure his conservative base.

Bush I was always suspect to conservatives, not a visionary like Ronald Reagan. When he sold them out on taxes, conservatives went into revolt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "PAT BUCHANAN CAMPAIGN AD")

NARRATOR: Can we afford four more years of broken promises? Send a message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: It looks like Bush II has gotten the message, and conservatives, so far, are very pleased.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Well, sure there have been a few complaints from the right, most recently about how Bush has allowed Congress to water down his education program. But the point is, conservatives trust this Bush in a way they never really did his father. A little vision goes a long way.

SESNO: Now, we are going to get to the conservatives in just a moment, but one thing you didn't mention here was the economy. And in the end, George I, as you called him, his undoing may well have been about the economy. This economy is in rather precarious shape. Parallels?

SCHNEIDER: There are parallels, and I believe that George I lost the election in his final State of the Union speech in January, 1992, when he went before the Congress and the nation -- there was a big production there, the lights were on, everyone's watching -- is going to come out with the plan, a vision for turning the economy around? And he didn't. And I believe that night, he lost the election.

Eventually, he did, in September of that year, but it was too late. His vision had lots to do with international trade, but it was nine months too late.

SESNO: Bill I, great as always thank you.

SCHNEIDER: Thanks. SESNO: Let's talk more about -- now about George W. Bush's presidency and how it is being rated by conservatives. We're joined by former Education Secretary William Bennett, now co-director of Empower America and chairman of K12.com. Have I got it right?

WILLIAM BENNETT, EMPOWER AMERICA: You do.

SESNO: All right. And Marshall Wittmann of the Hudson Institute. You got a dot-com address you want to share? I mean, fair is fair.

MARSHALL WITTMANN, HUDSON INSTITUTE: Conservativereform.org

SESNO: There we go. OK. As we said, it's fair.

Bill Bennett, first to you. Let's pick up on what Bill Schneider was just now saying, in terms of how this president rates with conservatives with the vision and the economy. Two very interesting areas there. Related?

BENNETT: Well, yeah, first, let's -- you guys, not George I and George II, if you don't mind; 41 and 43 will do, or George Sr. and George Jr. but George I and the George II is not what we like.

Look, I am very pleased with President Bush on many fronts, and the totality of his actions, which is how we should evaluate him -- I, as a conservative, give him very high grades.

But on the education issue, I am very disappointed. What I am disappointed is that this president has deviated from his own plan. He sent up a proposal to the Hill, which was very strong. I supported every major piece of it. And the three major pieces were educational choice, giving kids an option to leave bad schools; second, accountability, real assessment, meaning national assessment of the educational progress; and third, flexibility.

Those three major sinews of this proposal have been obliterated. They're gone.

SESNO: You wrote...

BENNETT: And, and...

SESNO: Sorry.

BENNETT: What has been added on is a ton of money. We have a Teddy Kennedy, Al Gore kind of bill.

SESNO: I was going to ask you about that, because you wrote in your piece -- and Marshall Wittmann, we will come to you in just a moment -- but you wrote in your piece last week in the "Los Angeles Times" that this is becoming a Teddy Kennedy bill. Is that measured, in your view, simply by the dollars?

BENNETT: Well, by the dollars and by the absence of muscle, by the absence of change, by the absence of the reform agenda. The problem here is that President Bush, as candidate Bush and indeed as Governor Bush, said that education was his top priority, and he did a lot as Governor Bush and a lot of us saluted this proposal when it was originated.

But right now, it's in danger of becoming the same-old, same-old. More money and no reform. And the reason that this is critical, just very quickly, is we are in an educational crisis. The national assessment of educational progress pointed out two weeks ago, 60 percent of our black children, 63 percent of our poor children cannot read in the fourth grade. We cannot keep doing things the same old, same old, same old.

SESNO: Marshall Wittmann, you concur with Mr. Bennett here, that on the subject of education, this is a place where president has not kept faith with some key conservative principles?

WITTMANN: Frank, largely I do. You know, conservatives have a relationship with President Bush that is higher than high school love. They are swooning over President Bush. But like with any relationship, you can be taken for granted, and I think that's what's going on with conservatives and education.

The White House is taking conservatives for granted. They did that on China as well, with the "very sorry" letters, and now the question is whether conservatives are an independent force or have they just become a subsidiary of the Bush administration and the White House?

SESNO: Well, how do you answer the question you pose?

WITTMANN: Well, largely, they've been anesthetized. They really do not have the kind of edge, the independent edge they once had.

SESNO: Whatever happened to the politics being the art of the possible here?

WITTMANN: Well, that's part of it, but you need a little nudge here and there, and I give credit to Bill Bennett for doing that.

BENNETT: Well, more is possible in education. Look, one of the reasons some of us are upset is contrast in strategy on education and taxes. He went after taxes. He said I am going to draw a line, you are not going to go below a certain point. He campaigned across the country. The education stuff was sent up there, and virtually...

SESNO: Are you sitting here saying that you think that he could have gotten through this 50/50 Senate vouchers and some of these key points on accountability that you're talking about?

BENNETT: I can tell you now, Frank, he would have gotten national assessment, because the conservatives were prepared to swallow it in the context of a much larger and acceptable bill. But if you say it's a priority, you have got to fight for your priorities.

WITTMANN: Well, the questions is whether he tried or not, and whether conservatives are truly pressuring him. Conservatives are happy to go into the White House mess, go into the Roosevelt room, and they may have lost their edge.

You know, 20 years ago, conservatives were even critical of President Reagan. Now they seemed to have lost their touch, because they like being part of the establishment.

SESNO: Well, maybe that's the point though. There -- you know, conservatives have a gigantic hand in running this government. The Republicans are in control, nominally anyway, on the Hill?

BENNETT: Well, look, yes, we're also -- I mean, I think, I can't speak for Marshall, I speak for myself -- we are grateful and we are pleased. Look what we're discussing. We are discussing policy, we're not discussing felony. We are discussing what policy to pursue not whom to indict. We're looking at the ABA, the American Bar Association, you know, we don't need your recommendations anymore -- and the ABM. ABA and ABM I think are very pleasing to a lot of conservatives.

So, again, looking at the whole picture, we are very happy with this. But when you take an issue like education, which is critical, and which the president himself has identified as his number one issue, he needs to be true to that.

SESNO: Do you agree with Marshall Wittmann that there, somehow, the conservatives have lost the edge here?

BENNETT: Well, there's plenty of time to get their edge back, and I think...

SESNO: So you do agree with him.

BENNETT: Well, yes, but I think you might be close to the spill- over or boiling point on education. There's an awful lot of restiveness about this, because people feel very strongly on the issue of education, and he has encouraged us to feel strongly about by his leadership.

SESNO: Let me pursue that with you, and Marshall Wittmann, jump in here. When you say they may be close to a spill-over or the boil- over point, what do you mean? What are you hearing? What may happen?

BENNETT: I am hearing on the Hill that people are ready to introduce amendments to this current package, saying that the deals that have been cut by the president's people are not acceptable, and are calling on the president to draw a line in the sand on some of these issues.

SESNO: A mutiny of sorts.

BENNETT: What we would like to see is the president to say: "Look, this is as important to me as the tax policy was, and to many of us this is as important.

WITTMANN: Well, it's key that Republicans realize that conservatives are independent. They're not merely a subsidiary of the Republican Party, and the problem with most conservatives is that they're not showing the same kind of fight -- with the exception of Bill Bennett and Bill Kristol -- that they once did.

SESNO: Bill Bennett, before you leave, I want to change the subject on you. The word today, we're hearing, that the president will ask John Walters to be the next head of -- his drug policy director. He worked with and for you. What can you tell us about this man and what it means for the drug policy in this country?

BENNETT: Well, I should say first I have been a friend of John's for 20 years, and he was my deputy when I was the first director.

SESNO: When you were the director of drug policy as well.

BENNETT: Right. It means a very strong hand in drug policy, and I think it's a very good sign that this administration is serious.

SESNO: What does he stand for?

BENNETT: Well, he stands for balanced approach, supply, demand, education, prevention and he understands that law enforcement has a very critical role there. There is a campaign to get John Walters. It's been on the editorial pages on a lot of papers, but I think the president is standing strong.

And once again, as the context of our discussion, here the president has, I think, surprised some people by picking a very strong conservative. The "New York Times" headline was "Bush Picks Tough Conservative to Lead Drug War," as though this was supposed to enrage people. I think that is what most people want.

SESNO: Bill Bennett and Marshall Wittmann, pleasure, thank you both very much.

WITTMANN: Thank you.

BENNETT: Thank you.

SESNO: I appreciate it.

In Georgia, many conservatives are heartened by Ralph Reed's election as state Republican Party chair. The former Christian Coalition executive director is pledging to make Republicans from the right, center and the left feel at home within the party. But even before Reed defeated two lesser-known opponents on Saturday, some Republicans warned that his Christian conservatism would do to the state party more harm than good.

And Georgia Democrats already are trying to use Reed's election to their advantage, claiming the state GOP is now, in the Democrats' view, in the hands of extremists.

And from state-level politics to affairs of state. There is a lot more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, including a surveillance flight by a U.S. jet like this one, the first flight of its kind along China's coast since last month's collision between American and Chinese planes. Also ahead:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to scare anybody. But you look at the USS Cole, you look at Khobar Towers, the ocean is no longer protected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: The threat of terrorism on U.S. soil and the difference of opinion on how to prevent an attack.

And later: a new article outlines the deteriorating relations between FBI Director Louis Freeh and Former President Clinton.

This is INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: A U.S. Air Force plane flew a surveillance flight along the coast of China today. The first surveillance flight in the area since the collision on April first between a U.S. plane and a Chinese fighter. For the very latest, we join CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Frank, for weeks, the Pentagon has been saying that it wants to resume those surveillance flights, but wouldn't say exactly when. We learned today, shortly after the flight was over, that a U.S. Air Force RC-135 surveillance plane flew out of the Kadena Air Base -- in fact, it might even be this very same plane, in which we took pictures of, just about two weeks ago, as it was taking off at Kadena for one of the practice missions.

The Pentagon says they sent the plane by itself with no escorts along a northern route avoiding the southern coast of China, where there had been some aggressive confrontations between U.S. surveillance planes and Chinese fighter jets.

The plane, after a several hour reconnaissance mission, returned to the Kadena Air Force Base, with no incident. Pentagon officials saying that the Chinese did not send up any fighter jets to challenge the jet aircraft, which has completed now the first surveillance flight since that collision between the U.S. Navy EP-3 and the Chinese fighter jet April 1st -- Frank.

SESNO: Jamie, on a slightly unrelated topic or rather unrelated topic, actually. That is the ongoing discussion about the review that is going on at the Pentagon to really take a whole new look at the U.S. military strategy. In particular, the so-called "two war strategy" that has been a basis of the U.S. defense policy for a decade or more. What's the status?

MCINTYRE: In fact, Frank, there is more than one review going on. There are more than 20 separate reviews of different aspects of U.S. military policy. One review is looking at this idea that the United States should be able to equip it's military to fight and win two major wars nearly simultaneously. That's been the foundation on which U.S. military strategy has been based for the last decade or so.

And there's some in the Pentagon questioning whether if they could modify that strategy to something more aligned to what the threats that the U.S. military actually faces today. They might be able to get some savings out of the Pentagon budget. But it's a very controversial idea.

And Pentagon sources insist that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has not decided in his own mind whether he will recommend scrapping that two-war strategy.

The downside of it is, the United States has always been concerned if it says that it's not willing and able to fight two wars at once, that if it gets involved in the conflict, it might send the wrong signal to a potential adversary. But critics in the Pentagon suggested that for a long time, this two-war strategy has mostly been a fiction. That is, the U.S. doesn't really have that capability to do two major wars at once. They are short in a couple of key areas and they ought to just tailor the strategy to a more realistic appraisal of what the U.S. military may actually do.

The defense military is still mulling it over and he is expected to make some recommendation to President Bush in the next month or so, and certainly by the middle of the summer.

SESNO: So, much more to come on that. Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

Just ahead: Cincinnati's mayor walks the streets less than a month after violent protests and just hours before a key grand jury announcement. The latest on the aftermath of last month's unrest when INSIDE POLITICS continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: Cincinnati is on edge. Authorities are bracing for the possibility of more violence in that city tonight. In less than an hour, Cincinnati learns the results of a grand jury probe into an incident that spawned rioting last month.

Joining us from Cincinnati is CNN national correspondent Bob Franken -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Frank, in back of me is the police department, where plans are under way to protect against the worst: The worst would be an unhappy, perhaps violent reaction to the grand jury investigation into policeman Stephen Roach. Roach is being investigated for shooting and killing a 19-year-old unarmed black man exactly a month ago. That shooting set off three days of violence, which only ended after Mayor Charles Luken imposed a curfew.

Now, today, Luken was walking through the area of the city which has been the most troublesome -- it's called the Over the Rhine neighborhood -- counseling people to be patient no matter what the result of the grand jury investigation is. Also today, the Justice Department has announced that it plans an investigation into the practices of the Cincinnati Police Department. This has been a longstanding request of civil rights organizations. And Justice Department officials admit that the timing of this announcement was partially at least to coincide with any announcement that might come on the local grand jury.

As for the mayor, Charles Luken, he's been doing something very unusual these days. He is in fact publicly acknowledging that there might be trouble, deciding to take the gamble on fanning the flames.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR CHARLES LUKEN (D), CINCINNATI, OHIO: We're ready for anything, but we're hoping for the best.

FRANKEN: Well, the FBI, as you know, the Justice Department has weighed in and said it's going to do a patterns and practices announcement.

LUKEN: Well, but they were asked to do that. They've been asked to do that here several times, and most recently, were asked to do it, you know, after the Timothy Thomas incident.

FRANKEN: They -- they acknowledge that the -- that the timing of that announcement, a factor was -- their words -- "It was a factor that the grand jury announcement is coming out today." Is it helpful that they made that announcement today?

LUKEN: I don't think it's particularly helpful or not helpful. I don't think these people are going to respond to the fact that the Justice Department has decided to come in and look at the police division.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKEN: In addition to all of this, in about a half hour, the county prosecutor, Mike Allen, will announce the investigation into the death of Timothy Thomas. He died exactly a month ago, as I said. The community is poised to find out if, in fact, to the African- American community, there is a satisfactory result of this investigation. We will, of course, be following that.

I will point out one other thing, Frank: There is a very heavy breeze right now. Most people believe that there is going to be rain tonight. And officials are hoping that if there are problems, that the weather might dampen those problems -- Frank.

SESNO: Bob Franken in Cincinnati: We'll be back to you, of course, throughout the evening.

And now for a look at some of the other top stories making news this hour, stories we are tracking.

In Anchorage, Alaska, an elementary school is awaiting word on four pupils who were stabbed this morning before the scheduled start of classes.

Police took an adult male into custody after the assault on the school playground. The victims were taken to a hospital, all with wounds to the upper parts of their bodies.

An FBI weapons expert testified today at the trial of a 14-year- old charged with the shooting death of a teacher. The expert -- the expert, rather, says a gun that was used by Nathaniel Brazill could not have gone off by accident. Brazill admits he was angry and admits he pointed a gun at the teacher, but says he never meant to shoot him.

Also today, the prosecution showed an interview with the suspect, then 13.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATHANIEL BRAZILL, STUDENT: And I asked him if I could speak to them. He told me -- he told me no. He pushed me away and told me to go to class (UNINTELLIGIBLE). So I (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So what did you do then?

BRAZILL: I can't even remember.

I pulled out the gun. I (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I didn't know what was going to happen if I (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And so (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: A defense attorney says the gun was pointed at the teacher to show him the student was serious.

Ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, a behind-the-scenes look at the sometimes chilly relations between Bill Clinton and FBI director Louis Freeh, and with what consequence. But first, blue=ribbon panels agree: The U.S. will be targeted by terrorists. But agreement is hard to come by when it comes to preventing future attacks. We'll have the story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: A favorite way to handle sensitive issues here in Washington is to appoint a so-called blue ribbon commission, sometimes to duck hard topics, sometimes to tackle them. In recent years, more than one panel has addressed the issue of domestic terrorism.

As CNN national security correspondent David Ensor reports, the White House this week will officially reject some key findings by several terrorism commissions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About a third of the building has been blown away. DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the wake of the bombings in Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center, and the attacks on the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia and the USS Cole, a half-dozen blue ribbon commissions have warned the U.S. faces more terrorism and is not ready.

SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: I don't want to scare anybody, but you look at the USS Cole; you look at, you know, Khobar Towers, the oceans no longer protect us. So it could be state-supported or non- state supported, and we've been very lucky.

ENSOR: The threats range from truck bombs to cyberattacks to terrorism using chemical or biological weapons, and right now, the federal response is divided among 46 different agencies.

GARY HART, CO-CHAIRMAN, 21ST CENTURY COMMISSION: We do recommend the creation of a national homeland security agency, which will coordinate the preparation for what we believe is an inevitable effort to attack this country by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction.

ENSOR: The Hart-Rudman commission proposed a Cabinet-level agency which would fold in the Border Patrol from the Justice Department, customs from Treasury, Coast Guard from Transportation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But Secretary of State Colin Powell and other administration officials will tell senators the Bush administration does not agree, that the president will keep the existing while creating an office of national preparedness and a task force under Vice President Dick Cheney to look at the federal, state and local efforts and make recommendations by October on how to improve them.

ROBERTS: I'm not sure you need a top-down czar to do that so much as you need to get it better organized with the existing agencies.

ENSOR (on camera): Administration officials can expect some close questioning at this week's hearings, with some senators arguing that the threat of terrorism on a mass scale in this country should be an even higher priority for this administration than the ballistic missile threat, which President Bush has put near the top of his list.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: While on the subject of terrorism and investigating past attacks, as FBI Director Louis Freeh is keenly aware of the consequences of terrorism in the U.S. and against the U.S. Freeh plans to leave his post in June, and so to our current topic.

In the current issue of "The New Yorker" magazine, Elsa Walsh takes a closer and detailed look at Freeh's remaining investigations. This afternoon, I talked with Walsh and asked her about what Freeh calls his one last piece of unfinished business. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELSA WALSH, "THE NEW YORKER": It's the investigation into the Khobar Towers bombing, which occurred in June of 1996 in Saudi Arabia of an American military facility; 19 servicemen were killed, hundred of others were injured.

And up until now, there's always been sort of rumblings about whether or not the Iranians were behind this terrorist bombing, but Freeh, as one of his very last acts, has gone to the Bush administration and presented them with a list of indictments -- a list of people he wants to indict, and that includes senior government officials of Iran.

SESNO: What do we know about those officials and what they might be implicated with?

WALSH: I don't know who they are, but it would probably be a safe bet to say that one of them is the head of the Intelligence Services. In November of 1998, Freeh got access -- the FBI got be access to a number of the suspects who were being held in custody in Saudi Arabia. And at that time, those suspects said, we were -- we met with this intelligence officer from Iran.

He picked the target; he funded it; he financed it, and I am working in the name of the ayatollah, the current ayatollah. So the question is, will they also move to indict the ayatollah? I don't know.

SESNO: 1998, three years ago. Now, there's a very political reason for this most nonpolitical investigation that those indictments and efforts to secure them do not proceed.

WALSH: Well, this case became the heart and soul of Louis Freeh's FBI. It's their investigative priority, as they say. And Freeh became to the conclusion that the Clinton administration didn't really want to solve this case. That they were...

SESNO: Why?

WALSH: Because they were trying to make a rapprochement with Iran right after the bombing occurred. Reformist was installed as president of Iran, and at that time, Clinton and the State Department and the NSE were reaching out to Iran because of course it would be a good thing to have a better relationship with Iran.

SESNO: Did any of this have anything to do with Freeh's reported personal animosity with the president of the United States Bill Clinton at the time?

WALSH: I think that it probably did, because the two of them didn't talk. They were never able to have a discussion about it. In fact, they hadn't talked for four years, up until recently, when they just had a brief conversation. I think that Freeh became emboldened by the Clinton administration's foot-dragging, as he saw it. One of the things that happened that was really a turning point for Freeh and a turning point into the investigation and occurred in September of 1998, which was two years after the bombing, the Saudis, who had these suspects in custody, were dragging their feet and allowing the FBI access, and the crown prince, who was in effect the leader of Saudi Arabia, was coming to Washington for a visit.

And Freeh went to the NSE, and said, please, please get Clinton and Gore to press our case for cooperation. Both Clinton and Gore met with the crown prince and after their meetings, the crown prince turned to the Saudi ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar and said, what is going on? It doesn't look like this case was very important to the United States?

SESNO: You had access to the FBI director for this piece?

WALSH: I did.

SESNO: And you've been working on this piece for how long?

WALSH: A year.

SESNO: A year. Does the FBI director or those closest to him, believe that this case could have been solved, at least some individuals indicted and a much more public profile to this, if the cooperation with the previous administration had been different?

WALSH: Yes. I mean, Freeh was ready to ask for indictments before the Clinton's left office, but decided specifically to wait until the new administration came in to ask for those indictments because he didn't think that he would get a satisfactory answer.

One of the really important things to remember here, or to know about here, is that when Freeh did not get satisfaction from the Clinton-Gore administration, he went to President Bush, Senior President Bush, and asked him to be a secret emissary to the Saudi government to ask for cooperation, which is really actually an extraordinary thing do, because he didn't tell the Clinton administration.

SESNO: Why the Senior Bush?

WALSH: Because he was president during the Persian Gulf War; he's seen as the savior. The Saudis would do anything for George Bush, and Freeh is a very smart and clever person, and knew that that was the one person they didn't say no to. And they didn't.

SESNO: As this FBI director prepares to leave his post and retire, how close is this case to moving forward?

WALSH: I think they expect the Bush administration to make a decision within the next couple months. They're hoping he'll make it before he leaves.

I talked to a senior Bush administration official who will be involved in making the decision, and he said, that they think they will not stand in Freeh's way, that they will go forward, probably with the indictments, if the evidence is as good as he says that it is. And as a result of that, they put their Iranian policy on hold, because they don't want to be on the position of reaching out on one hand, and indicting on the other.

SESNO: Sure. With some potentially serious implications

(CROSSTALK)

SESNO: ...with Iran and any moderates who may be vying for power there.

WALSH: And not just the rapprochement. I mean, dangerous -- what happens when you indict senior Iranian government officials. Do you just upset the whole Middle East?

SESNO: Elsa Welsh, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

WALSH: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: And you can read Elsa Walsh's piece in this latest edition of the "New Yorker" Magazine.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, is another presidential bid in the lesson plan for the candidate turned teacher? Candy Crowley with some insight on Al Gore's political future.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: Grab your pens, paper, and whatever else.

The 2004 presidential race is already getting a few nibbles from interested, but not yet committed -- Democrats. Still, one man has been notably silent on the subject. Our Candy Crowley considers the difficult questions facing former Vice President Al Gore.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They call him Professor Gore now, a private citizen adjusting to life without a motorcade, a journalism teacher, learning the joys of commercial air travel as he shuttles from classrooms in Tennessee, New York and California.

GREG SIMON, GORE ADVISER: From talking to him and Tipper, they are living in the home they used to live in, in Virginia and, as he put it, having a life and being out of the news cycle. When you are used to having to make news every hour, it's a wonderful thing to take your life one day at a time.

CROWLEY: There have been sightings of this new life, but no answer from the man who was almost president. The question is, does he still want to be? Gore tells people he's not thinking about that right now. He enjoys not being on a packed schedule, not being in the public eye, says one friend. He's a homeowner, a family man, he's focused on what he's doing.

But what he's doing, and where he's doing it, New York and California, are huge Democratic money states, and in Tennessee, Gore is teaching at a historically black college. It all seems to indicate that this particular homeowner and family man has politics in his soul, even if it's not on his mind.

Gore is giving speeches on issues he cares about. He's writing a book with his wife about families. He's having dinners with supporters of the financial sort. Friends insist these are "thank you" occasions, but come on. And then there are those meetings he has in his home state of Tennessee, a state he lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Visiting with people to talk about -- first, thanking them for all the work they did while he was in public service, and listening to people to see what they viewed as what went right, what went right.

CROWLEY: Frankly, Professor Gore's private life looks like preparation for a return to public life. It would not be easy. Clearly Gore has a donor and a voter base, but while there are Democrats who think Gore was robbed, there are others who believe he blew it, failing to capitalize on a boffo economy and a popular Democratic president. It is both striking and oh-so telling to ask the vice president's former campaign manager about another Gore bid.

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I'm a good fan of Al Gore, but I am also equally supportive of a number of other candidates out there. And I do believe that we have time now to make up our minds and I encourage everyone who wishes to run to run. And of course in the end, I do believe that if Al Gore chooses to run, he will have a tremendous opportunity to build together a broad coalition and to win in 2004.

CROWLEY: Nice, but hardly onboard.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: One friend in contact with Gore says he believes one way or another this is a man who will have a public life, though not necessarily an elected one. And, says the friend, before Gore decides to run he must first answer another question: Am I running out of inertia, or a conscious choice?

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

SESNO: And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: playing for the president. The sights and sounds of the inaugural south lawn T-ball game when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SESNO: All right, here's a story for you. There are no trading cards, no major league contracts, and no electoral votes at stake yet, but the White House T-ball season is now officially under way. For a few hours yesterday the south lawn became a ball park, bustling with little players and their very proud parents, all part of the president's initiative to rekindle the interest in his favorite national pastime.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Welcome to baseball at the White House. We're honored to have Bob Costas.

BOB COSTAS, SPORTS ANNOUNCER: Take the field, guys and girls.

(APPLAUSE)

And that'll bring up Britney Brooks (ph). She loves hot dogs, reading, and the show "Sister, Sister." And there's a little dribbler out in front of the plate, right on her way to first. And she'll make it, beating it out, showing blazing speed.

If I've got the right lineup, that will bring up Kendall Heiling (ph). And pops one out toward the pitcher, it drops, takes another wicked hop, the plate of first -- not in time. Runners at first and second with six out. This has the makings of a big inning, apparently because there are unlimited outs.

Here's Kevin Smith. Says he likes baseball because he feels like he owns the town when he's at bat. Two on. Here's a drive to deep right, way back! It's one bounce against the fence! Kevin owned the town with that one and the sacks are juiced. And that concludes the turn at bat for the Memphis Red Sox.

And leading off for the Capital City Little League Rockies will be Daniel Paul Allen. He's all business up there. He says he likes to eat spaghetti and wants to be a baseball player so he could follow in the footsteps of Tommy Lasorda.

And that brings up Sam Giadsaglo (ph). And I guess this is beyond dispute. It says here he's the first Greek Australian ever to play baseball at the White House. And the Memphis Red Sox end the first inning the way they began it, looking very sharp in the field!

MARK DIRKS, CAPITAL CITY ROCKIES COACH: Both teams did great. It was just so much fun to watch them. The other teams just played well, they hit well. Our guys played -- everybody just had fun.

DARON LEE, MEMPHIS RED SOX: I was happy to play on George W. Bush's lawn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about a big round of applause for all the ball players!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: And how do you suppose those ballpark franks tasted.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, the latest from Cincinnati, and the outcome of a grand jury investigation there into the police shooting that sparked days of protests. This is INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: Cincinnati police are hoping to avoid a repeat of last month's violence when the findings of a grand jury investigation are announced in just a matter of minutes.

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.

SESNO: And welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Frank Sesno, sitting in for Judy today. She's on assignment.

When prosecutors in Cincinnati announce the results of that grand jury probe, we will carry it live. We're expecting it in just a couple of minutes. At issue: the shooting of an unarmed African- American man by a white police officer, the shooting which prompted those violent protests in the city last month.

CNN national correspondent Bob Franken is outside police headquarters in Cincinnati just now. Bob, set the stage for us.

FRANKEN: Well, fist of all, at police headquarters, they're making extensive preparations in case there is an adverse reaction to an announcement from the Hamilton County prosecutor Mike Allen that we're expecting in less than a minute in the case of Stephen Roach.

Roach is the police officer, the Cincinnati police officer, who exactly a month ago shot and killed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas. Thomas was unarmed, although Roach says that he believed that he was reaching for a gun. It was during a chase. It turns out that Timothy Thomas only had some misdemeanor warrants that were pending against him.

The grand jury is investigating. In addition to the announcement here, the Justice Department in Washington announced today that there will be a full formal patterns and practices of discrimination investigation against the Cincinnati police department. That announcement was timed, and now we're going to go to the news conference and Mike Allen.

MIKE ALLEN, HAMILTON COUNTRY PROSECUTOR: Thank you all very much for coming. My office has completed its presentation of evidence to the grand jury regarding the death of Timothy Thomas. While the law prohibits me from disclosing specifics about the evidence presented to the grand jury, I can say the presentation was very thorough and fair.

Normally, a grand jury hears 10 to 20 case a day with one or two witnesses supplying the testimony or one police officer summarizing the evidence in that case. Such an expedited process is necessary for the grand jury to handle the approximately 10,000 cases presented to them each year. On the one hand, the Timothy Thomas case was handled like any other case. One of the two sitting grand juries heard the case along with dozens of others during their three-week jury duty. They heard testimony and they were given the applicable law and the possible crimes committed in the death of Timothy Thomas.

At the same time, we would be ignoring reality to treat this case like any other case. Public reaction to the death of Mr. Thomas has fractured our community and led to violence and unrest. Some have even questioned whether the criminal justice system would fairly and completely investigate the death of Mr. Thomas.

My office was therefore committed to do everything in its power to reassure the people of Cincinnati and Hamilton County that the investigation was exhaustive, and the presentation to the grand jury was thorough and fair. We must treat the merits of this case no differently than any other, but I recognize that in the extraordinary atmosphere, we must leave no doubt about the process.

The grand jury was presented with all of the evidence in a manner normally reserved for trials. The publicly known and reported facts are these: Mr. Thomas ignored the orders to stop of several police officers in the area of Vine and Republic Streets during a foot pursuit in the early morning hours of April 7, 2001. A number of witnesses indicated that Mr. Thomas was wearing oversized pants and that has hands were at his waist area, holding his pants up as he ran.

Only information known to officers pursuing Mr. Thomas, including Officer Stephen Roach, was a physical description that he was wanted on 14 arrest warrants, and that he continued to avoid arrest during the pursuit. This is the scenario that confronted Officer Roach as he and Mr. Thomas met in the darkened, litter-strewn alley at 2:14 in the morning on April 7, 2001.

In this case, rather than hearing a summary of the evidence, the grand jury heard from 20 witnesses. These witnesses included the mother of Timothy Thomas, police officers on the scene on the night of Mr. Thomas' death and officers involved in the investigation. The grand jury heard from civilians who witnessed part of the events that took place. They heard the testimony of the coroner who performed the autopsy of Mr. Thomas, and the firearms' expert who examined the clothing of Mr. Thomas and the weapon which caused his death.

The grand jury viewed aerial and ground-level photographs of the scene and several diagrams of the area involved in the chase and apprehension of Timothy Thomas. They viewed the tapes from police cruisers equipped with cameras which recorded some events of that evening. They listened to police communication tapes of the radio broadcast of the officers involved in the pursuit of Mr. Thomas, and heard the taped statements Officer Stephen Roach gave as described for homicide investigators the events of that evening.

The grand jury also physically examined the clothing of Mr. Thomas and the firearm of Stephen Roach, used in the shooting. Finally, they heard testimony on the operation of the 9 millimeter weapon assigned to Stephen Roach, and the training that Cincinnati police officers go through in the use of the firearms.

At the conclusion of the evidence, the grand jury was given the various charges available to them when an individual, in this case, Cincinnati police officer Stephen Roach, takes the life of the other, in this case, Timothy Thomas. As has been previously reported in the press, the potential charges include aggravated murder, murder, manslaughter, reckless homicide, and negligent homicide. Obviously, the grand jury also has the option of returning a no bill.

Without going into the content of the two statements police officer Roach gave the homicide investigators, the grand jury was also given the option of a charge of obstructing official business based on discrepancies in these two statements.

A lot of people in the community have expressed their opinions as to whether or not Stephen Roach should be charged with any crime, and if so, opinions vary widely as to what charge would be appropriate. It's very important to point out that none of these people had the opportunity to hear all of the facts surrounding this tragic incident.

The grand jury that heard this case did have such an opportunity. But something even more important distinguishes the grand jury who heard this case from those who have spoken the loudest about what should happen. I want to take into account at this point the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings and describing of what happened.

I can tell you that the grand jury deliberated long and hard over their decision, and at the close of their deliberations, they chose to return a two-count indictment against Officer Stephen Roach. Count one charges Stephen Roach with negligent homicide. This charge states that on April 7, 2001, Officer Stephen Roach negligently caused the death of Timothy Thomas by means a deadly weapon. This is a misdemeanor in the first degree, punishable by up to six months in jail.

Count two in the two-count indictment, is a charge of obstructing official business. This is a misdemeanor in the second degree, punishable by up to 90 days in jail. The charge states that with purpose to prevent, obstruct or delay the performance by a public official, Stephen Roach did an act with hampered or impeded the public official in the performance of his duties.

Again, without going into detail, this charge pertain to the difference in versions of events given to homicide investigators by Stephen Roach on April 7 and again on April 10, 2001.

I wanted to point out also to you, and I think it's important that the public know, that the grand jury in this case took an oath, and that oath can be found in Ohio Revised Code, Section 2939.06. In that oath, each member of the grand jury promised to diligently inquire into and true presentment make of all matters given to them, to present or charge no person with malice, hatred or ill-will, nor to leave unpresented or uncharged any person through fear, favor or affection, and that in all of their presentments, they promise to present the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, according to the best of their skill and understanding. In addition to the instructions by a common police judge when they began their service, the grand jury was instructed again, just before they began their deliberations in this case, of their function as a grand jury. This included the instruction that there is no public purpose to be served in indicting a person when it appears that the evidence would be insufficient to sustain a conviction, and that unjust or unfounded accusations should not be made against anyone.

On the other hand, they were told and instructed that it's equally important that indictments be returned against those appearing, upon an honest and impartial examination, to have probably committed a crime. Finally, the grand jury was instructed that no grand juror has the right to permit their judgment to be influenced or controlled by any religious, political or personal feeling.

Finally, if I can, just for a moment, let me comment on the possible reaction to today's announcement. I know that emotions are running high over the tragic death of Timothy Thomas. But the case against Officer Roach cannot be decided or based upon emotion. To those who say the charges are too light, and to those who say that the charges are too severe, my response is the same: please withhold your judgment until you know all of the facts.

The proper place for judgment is in a trial before a jury of citizens of this community, where all of the evidence will be presented, and the full picture will be publicly known for the first time.

And now to the extent that the law permits me, I will try to answer questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

ALLEN: Hang on a minute, let me get Lynn.

QUESTION: Some in the community, as you're aware, have said anything of short of murder, and justice would not be served. How do you explain to those people why not murder in this case?

ALLEN: I think that's a very irresponsible statement for someone who is a community leader to make. Murder is not appropriate in this case, because murder is a purposeful act, and it requires a specific intention to cause a certain result. And I can only surmise that the grand jury felt that that was not appropriate in this case. Yeah, Deb?

QUESTION: For some in the African-American community, they are saying that of course it's a misdemeanor. There's no justice for African-Americans, and it's a cop. And this is what they expected. How can you make them feel, how can assure them that this decision is what it should have been?

ALLEN: It is a fair question. The only thing they can say and I can implore of everyone in our community is to look at the case and look at the facts when it comes to trial. And I will say that I think that the grand jury made the right call in this case. They were the ones that listened to the 20 witnesses. They were the ones that considered the exhibits. They were the ones that considered the photographs, and they made the decision that they did.

Not every homicide is a purposeful act. Not every homicide constitutes murder. Some are reckless in nature, some are negligent in nature, and I think the grand jury felt, obviously, that if anything, this was a negligent act. Hang on, Chris.

QUESTION: I just want to follow up. Legally, is it lapse...

ALLEN: It's a substantial lapse of due care. That's the legal standard. Legal negligence is a lot different than civil negligence, and what the state has to show in order to sustain a conviction is a substantial lapse of due care. And that's the standard for criminal negligence. Yeah, Chris?

QUESTION: Mike, negligent homicide obviously indicates this was an accident, that's obviously a misdemeanor. However, reckless homicide would have been a felony. Why was that not an applicable charge? In other words, why is a misdemeanor more appropriate for the facts of the case?

ALLEN: I can only surmise that the grand jury did not feel that the acts of police Officer Roach rose to the level of recklessness, which is a heedless indifference to the consequences when you perversely disregard a known risk. Recklessness is one step above negligence, and I can only surmise that the grand jury did not feel that the facts did not fit that particular charge. Yes, Terry.

QUESTION: You were very open the last time, with the riots, what you would do to the folks that were out there. What are you saying this time (UNINTELLIGIBLE) emotion being played off of what is happening tonight?

ALLEN: I am hoping that the leaders, all leaders in our community, take a deep breath, and the people that follow them and the people that follow their advice, listen to them, and I hope they act responsibly.

Again, the only people that fully know the story, or at least are starting to know part of the story, are those grand jurors who made this decision. And the facts will come out in trial, and it would be irresponsible, I think, to try to urge anyone to commit violent acts because of this decision. And I hope our leaders are responsible.

QUESTION: What about Officer Roach and his family? Do they know of the decision? Has there been any sort of response from his attorney or anywhere?

ALLEN: We will communicate with his attorney at the appropriate time. I don't know what he is experiencing now, but my sympathy goes to he and his family, the same as it does with Mrs. Leisure.

QUESTION: What is the name of his attorney?

ALLEN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: What was the racial makeup of the grand jury?

ALLEN: It was a racially diverse and mixed jury. African- Americans, whites, men, female, young and old. It truly was a racially diverse grand jury. Hang on a minute. I'm sorry?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

ALLEN: I do, but I cannot disclose those. Suffice to say it was a racially diverse grand jury, with African-Americans, whites, young, old, male and female.

QUESTION: Mr. Allen, could you define the fine line here between these misdemeanors and the more serious felony offenses they could have indicted him with?

ALLEN: Aggravated murder is the most serious charge that we have in our criminal code. That basically provides that you purposely take the life of another, in some cases with prior calculation and design, and in some cases it could mean felony murder. Obviously, the grand jury did not feel that was appropriate.

However, I will point out they were instructed as to the law of aggravated murder, which is purposely causing another's death. And again, purposely means with a specific intention to commit a certain act. Voluntary manslaughter is knowingly causing another's death while under sudden passion. Obviously, the grand jury felt that didn't apply.

Let me finish. Involuntary manslaughter is causing another's death as the approximate result of committing a felony, or in some cases, a misdemeanor. There was no underlying -- the grand jury apparently felt there was no felony -- underlying felony or misdemeanor.

Reckless homicide, as I said before, is recklessly causing another's death. Negligent homicide is negligently causing another's death by a means of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordinance. And that's kind of the hierarchy of homicide offenses in the state of Ohio.

QUESTION: Mike?

ALLEN: Yes.

ALLEN: When you present this to the grand jury, or your prosecutors do, you kind of steer them in a way, or make a recommendation? How does that work for us who have never been in there?

ALLEN: I'll tell you right now, this case was presented straight up. The grand jury received the facts from the witness stand. Twenty witnesses altogether, civilians, police officers. Mrs. Thomas was our first witness, we thought that appropriate for her to come in and tell the grand jury what she wanted to tell them.

It was presented straight up. We instructed as to the law, as is our statutory duty, and they made the decision. Again -- I'll say it again, they were instructed on aggravated murder, murder, the manslaughter offenses, reckless homicide and negligent homicide.

QUESTION: So, you don't make an argument like you would at the actual trial?

ALLEN: No, sir, that's inappropriate. And I know that the common adage is out there that a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich in a grand jury, my experience is that this is not true. Grand jurors have a mind of their own.

QUESTION: So, that means you didn't really conduct this as a trial, did you? That was your initial statement?

ALLEN: It was conducted in many ways like a trial. It was conducted -- we put more time in this case than we did in many of our other grand jury investigation and presentments. It went over a two- day period.

QUESTION: Was the grand jury told that Mr. Thomas may have eluded Officer Roach before, and had they known that, that might have entered into their decision as to murder or manslaughter?

ALLEN: I'm not going to get into the specifics as to what they were instructed, other than to say that they were instructed on the applicable law.

QUESTION: Did you give them this information?

ALLEN: Chris?

QUESTION: Thank you, Mike. Officer Schroeder was standing behind Officer Roach when the shooting happened, and it was said that he was really the only person in a position to have seen what actually happened when the shot was fired. How important was his account of what happened to this case, or how important was it to the decision and how important is it to the case?

ALLEN: I'm sorry, I just can't get into that. Those matters will come out at trial. I just can't discuss it. Hang on a minute.

QUESTION: You said that they reviewed...

SESNO: You're listening to Hamilton county prosecutor Michael Allen, talking about a very important case in the city of Cincinnati, one that had Cincinnati very much up in arms not very long ago, the shooting of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed African-American by a white police officer, Stephen Roach.

You heard just now that the grand jury has returned two indictments, one of negligent homicide, misdemeanor in the first degree, also another of obstruction of official business, also a homicide.

Bob Franken is in Cincinnati, and Bob Franken joins us. Also here in the studio, our legal analyst Greta Van Susteren. But Bob, first to you, your reflections after hearing this?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the combined crimes have a maximum penalty of nine months. The city, of course, is taking the deep breath that the prosecutor Michael Allen asked for it to take, because there's quite of bit of concern.

It's been very publicly expressed that if the African-American community was disappointed in the results of this grand jury investigation, there could be some sort of repeat of the trouble that occurred exactly a month ago. It followed the shooting of Timothy Thomas, who is the 19-year-old black man who was shot by officer Stephen Roach, who has been the subject of this investigation.

Police officials have been reinforcing. They've been going on extra duty. The mayor of the city walked through the main African- American community in the city today asking for calm. And the one good sign, you might be able to notice right now the rain has just started in Cincinnati, and officials can only hope that the forecast of rain might mean that the streets might not be as volatile as they're worried that they might be.

SESNO: All right, Bob. You grab that umbrella there. We're going to go over to Greta Van Susteren here, who's in the studio. No rain here, but Greta, help take us through what we just heard here. We did hear the prosecutor say repeatedly that the standard for criminal negligence is what he called a substantial lapse of due care.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, what that means is simply this, Frank: If we were in a grocery store in the parking lot and I decided to back out and not look in my rear-view mirror, and I backed over and killed you, that would be a substantial lapse of due care. It's the lowest and lowest of any type of homicide.

SESNO: All right. So take us from that definition then to what the grand jury obviously took out of this case.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's hard to predict what the grand jury -- you know, what the grand jury decided the case on. We only heard a little bit. I mean, he really didn't tell us very much.

For instance, this prosecutor, who incidentally used to be a police officer himself, which sort of brings an interesting twist to this investigation, but he didn't tell us what the lighting was like. We have no idea what the -- who saw what. Some police officers made statements. We don't know what the police officer said. We don't know if any of the statements contradicted each other. We don't know what Officer Roach said. Officer Roach made a statement some time afterwards.

We don't know what the forensic report is. Forensic reports can determine, for instance, how far apart the decedent was from Officer Roach at the time of the shooting. You get residue on the shirt. You even get burns on the body from the bullets.

We really don't know much. All we know is this prosecutor has come out and he's asked us basically, on his representation, he said this is the evidence we presented, we did it in a fair way, and now it's time to (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SESNO: You make a point that he is a former police officer. Does that in any way taint or raise questions about where this prosecutor was coming from?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it might give him a little different perspective in presenting evidence. I'm not suggesting that he went in there and the fix was in. Not at all. But he goes in there with a greater understanding of police work.

If someone goes in there, for instance, with no understanding of police work, they might present the evidence a little bit differently. He probably understands the danger of police work. It does have a slight bearing. I don't -- I'm not -- I don't mean to at all suggest that he went in there with a bias, other than he goes in with a perspective, maybe having a little bit more information, different information than your run-of-the-mill prosecutor.

SESNO: And of course, the prosecutor went out of his way to address the community, all of Cincinnati, and said: Please hold your judgment until you know the facts. The proper place to find all this out is in a courtroom.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's right. And -- and we -- actually, having listened to him, we know absolutely nothing about the facts, other than that there is a man who has been tragically shot and the police officer shot him.

SESNO: Greta Van Susteren, thanks very much, and to Bob Franken in Cincinnati, we thank him as well. We'll be going back out there to monitor developments in Cincinnati throughout the remainder of the evening and beyond.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: Markets, energy, the economy: that and a lot more coming your way in just a few minutes on "MONEYLINE." Willow Bay joins us now to take a peak into the crystal ball.

Hello, Willow.

WILLOW BAY, CNN ANCHOR: Frank, you got it all. Coming up next on "MONEYLINE," just days after the worst jobs report in a decade, one of the nation's largest tech names cuts thousands. Dell Computer hands out more pinks slips. Plus: gasoline prices continue to soar and President Bush continues to work on his energy policy. So, is help on the way? We'll have those stories and more next on "MONEYLINE." INSIDE POLITICS continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: One of our top stories today: energy, and within the past hour, California Governor Gray Davis offered some critical comments about the Bush administration's emerging energy policy. And in an interview with our Judy Woodruff, he called Vice President Cheney's downplaying of conservation efforts as "off base." We'll hear some of Davis' comments tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS, along with Judy's interview with Davis' so-called energy czar, David Freeman. And we'll hear from the vice president, too, when we replay John King's interview with Mr. Cheney. That will air live, as it happens, at 10:45 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow.

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, but of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's Allpolitics.com, AOL keyword CNN.

I'm Frank Sesno. "MONEYLINE" is next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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