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AMERICAN MORNING

Man Believed to Have Brought Terror to Columbus, Ohio Captured; Four American Missionaries Killed in Iraq

Aired March 17, 2004 - 08:00   ET

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

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. The man believed to have brought terror to Columbus, Ohio is captured 2,000 miles away in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Prosecutors accuse Kobe Bryant's lawyers of dirty tricks used to confuse the jury about the woman who is accusing him of rape.

And getting ready for spring by digging out from a whopper of a snowstorm.

Those stories are all ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: From the CNN broadcast center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Bill Hemmer.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, eight o'clock in New York.

Happy St. Patty's Day, on the 17th of March.

Other stories this hour, watching this report out of Afghanistan. We'll get to the Pentagon and Barbara Starr in a few moments. Back in August of 2000, the CIA tape getting a whole lot of attention. Is it Osama bin Laden? What does it mean, if, indeed, that's the case? Was it a missed opportunity? A number of questions today. We'll show you the tape in the moment and get you to the Pentagon, as well, momentarily.

O'BRIEN: Also this morning, the dangers of trying to do humanitarian work in Iraq. Four American missionaries were killed this week. This morning we talk with a man who served with two of them and find out just exactly what drove them to try to help others.

HEMMER: An absolute tragedy. It's front page news across the major newspapers, going for those soft targets again in Iraq.

O'BRIEN: Rightfully said.

HEMMER: Good morning -- Jack.

How are you?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

Coming up in the Cafferty File, the subject is blondes, beginning with Jessica Simpson. We will tell you what she had to say about decorating at the White House when she met the secretary of the interior. I mean you can't make this stuff up.

HEMMER: Oh, yes?

CAFFERTY: And Ben Stiller talks about another blonde out in Hollywood, the land of the vapid and vacuous.

O'BRIEN: Hmm, interesting.

HEMMER: The V and V.

Thank you, Jack.

O'BRIEN: All right, Jack, thank you very much.

Well, police say it all came to an end without incident. Charles McCoy, Jr., the man wanted in connection with two dozen shootings in or near Columbus, Ohio was arrested at a Las Vegas hotel just hours ago.

Sean Callebs is following the story for us this morning from Columbus, Ohio, where the manhunt truly got under way a little bit earlier this week -- Sean, good morning.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

And to set the scene somewhat here, there is certainly a mood of relief and somewhat of anxiety, as this information begins to filter into us. We can tell you, 28-year-old Charles McCoy was taken into custody in Las Vegas several hours ago without incident. And that is interesting, because authorities had maintained all along that this is someone who is very dangerous and should be considered armed. They told people not to approach him.

Authorities portrayed him as someone mentally unstable, with suicidal, possibly homicidal tendencies.

Here's a look at the car that was first impounded authorities -- before authorities moved in to seize the suspect in these shootings. It is a 1999 green Geo Metro. We do know that he is in custody. There's a task force that has been working with authorities in Las Vegas. We'll, of course, bring you information as soon as we can.

Right now we can tell you McCoy has only been charged with felonious assault. But not to lose track of these shootings that have terrorized the city for the past 10 months, he is -- the shootings did claim one life, a fatality back in November of last year, a 62-year- old woman.

Again, authorities do have 28-year-old Charles McCoy in custody.

We've all seen the face shot of him that has been around for the past 24 hours. But he is going to look somewhat different, according to his mother, who filed a missing persons report for him. He has apparently grown a goatee. The family has also made some statements this morning. They are also very relieved. They had been working with the task force -- Soledad, that's the very latest here from Columbus, Ohio.

O'BRIEN: All right, Sean Callebs for us, updating us on this story.

Sean, thanks a lot -- Bill.

HEMMER: A busy Wednesday morning.

Other news this morning, a California man suspected in the Fresno mass killings faces arraignment today. Police say Marcus Wesson shot to death nine people inside of his home before surrendering last Friday. The charges against Wesson will be formally read during that arraignment. More from Fresno next hour here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Overseas now to Spain. The prime minister elect pledging tighter security in the wake of last week's deadly Madrid train attacks. Meanwhile, an Algerian man detained in connection with the bombings appearing today before a Spanish judge. Spanish authorities say they have also identified at least six Moroccan suspects believed linked to the train attacks. That investigation ongoing in Spain.

Israel launching an incursion in Gaza. Palestinian sources say four Palestinians are dead, 11 others injured, after two missile strikes at a refugee camp. The Israeli strike follows a twin suicide bombing at an Israeli seaport on Sunday, this weekend.

Important news for heart patients. The FDA could decide today whether to green light a temporary artificial heart. The device could keep patients alive long enough to receive heart transplants. It's essentially the same one that made headlines 22 years ago, when Barney Clark became the first recipient of an artificial heart.

Overseas again, St. Patrick's Day celebrations are already in full swing on the Emerald Island. Pictures from Dublin just came into us about 30 minutes ago. The parade still ongoing. Half a million expected wearing the green for the country's main parade today. A pipe band from Madrid was due to march in memory of the victims of last week's bombings. March 17th on the calendar. Here in New York, 11:00 a.m. local time, three hours from now, up a very slushy Fifth Avenue today with the snow from yesterday.

O'BRIEN: It could be worse.

HEMMER: It could be worse.

O'BRIEN: What it looked like yesterday, and they were predicting some snow for today.

HEMMER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: I was sure, Chad, that this parade would be in heavy snowfall. But it looks all right.

CHAD MYERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, no. No, no.

(WEATHER REPORT) O'BRIEN: A senior intelligence official now confirms the authenticity of a U.S. government video shot three and a half years ago that may show al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The videotape was shot by a CIA Predator drone and was first aired yesterday by NBC News.

Barbara Starr is live for us at the Pentagon this morning -- Barbara, good morning to you.

Thanks for being with us.

A quick question for you. Does this tape provide any clues as to why the military wasn't able to get Osama bin Laden?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, this tape -- we've now talked to military officials -- this tape is a classical example of the problem in getting Osama bin Laden. They saw him through this Predator, but what would they have struck him with? Let's remember, back then the Predator, the unmanned drone, did not have any missiles on board. It was not armed.

In addition, it would have taken hours to get manned bombers, pilots in airplanes, to this point and also Tomahawk missiles, a very precise weapon, but they hit a fixed point on the ground.

In all of these cases, bin Laden was always on the move in those days. He remains on the move. That's a big problem in getting him, because you cannot get the weapons there fast enough if he's going to remain on the move. It's the problem of what they call actionable intelligence.

O'BRIEN: Barbara, how long would it have taken to get special forces in, or special forces in close enough that they could have been closer to tracking him?

STARR: Well, you know, that's a really good question, because a lot of people say well why not just send in Delta, why not just do that? Of course, it's not a Hollywood movie these days. The special forces in those days, you have to remember that the U.S. did not own Afghanistan. It was run by the Taliban, of course. It was hostile territory. To send in special forces would have required a good deal of both ground and air support in a hostile territory, in a country that the U.S. did not control, something that would have required a lot of intelligence, a lot of planning before special forces would have gone in. Something, a risk that they would not have likely been willing to take in those days, because they would have been going into hostile territory and they really wouldn't know very much about what they were facing.

Today, of course, quite a different story. The U.S. owns the ground and the air in Afghanistan.

O'BRIEN: When you look at that videotape, though, I mean all you really see is a figure that's just sort of tall wearing white. So he sticks out -- or she sticks out well above everybody else. That's about it. Are they really convinced that it actually is Osama bin Laden, as opposed to some sort of fuzzy picture there?

STARR: Well, you know, a lot of people may not realize, the Predator does not give you facial I.D. You don't see eyes, a nose, a beard. But you can discern certain things based on what you see.

Of course, we see someone in a white robe taller than the people around him, moving around with what appears to be heavy security. By all accounts, U.S. officials do believe it is bin Laden on that tape. But let's remember, they are never certain.

Many people may remember when the war in Afghanistan was under way, in that time frame, the CIA, the U.S. military struck a target with a Predator missile that they believed was bin Laden. They saw a tall man in a white robe. They subsequently found out, of course, it was not him. By all accounts, it was some local individual.

It's not a mistake they want to make again, so right now what they're doing, of course, today, is narrowing the box where they believe he might be hiding and putting surveillance over that box so they can solve this problem, so they can keep an eye on him and try and locate him.

O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us this morning.

Barbara, thanks -- Bill.

HEMMER: U.S. and Iraqi forces this morning teaming up for a large scale operation, trying to root out insurgents in Baghdad. That action comes amid concerns that insurgents have been targeting civilian aide workers in Iraq. Two Europeans killed yesterday. On Monday, four American missionaries died as a result of a drive by shooting in Mosul, the northern part of Iraq.

Steve Hardy served as a missionary with two of those victims. He's live to talk about it this morning in Raleigh, North Carolina. And Larry Cox in Richmond, Virginia. He's with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.

And gentlemen, we welcome you here to AMERICAN MORNING.

LARRY COX, SOUTHERN BAPTIST INTERNATIONAL MISSION BOARD: Good morning.

HEMMER: To Mr. Hardy, my condolences to you. I know that you knew the Elliotts for about 30 years.

STEVE HARDY, BAPTIST PASTOR AND MISSIONARY: Thank you, Mr. Hemmer.

HEMMER: Tell us about their work in Iraq and what kind of people they were.

HARDY: Well, they were in Iraq simply to assess the human needs that were there. They were working on trying to find the best places to put in water purification systems. One of the greatest needs in Iraq is to bring pure, clean drinking water to the people of Iraq. And Larry happened to have a specialty in that area. And so he was there assessing where we could put water purification and it would have the most impact.

HEMMER: I know recently you received an e-mail from Larry Elliott. We'll put part of it on the screen for our viewers to see. "Is this a dangerous place?," he asks. "Yes, this is a dangerous place. But the fact is we love god and god loves the Iraqi people."

Did he talk about that danger they faced daily?

HARDY: Everybody who goes to Iraq knows that there is danger there. But Larry expressed his heart very, very well in that e-mail. He is there because he loved god, he loved the Iraqi people. He wanted the Iraqi people to know the love of god, also. And he was there because they're hurting and they need to have that hurt relieved. And he was wanting to do something about it.

HEMMER: To Mr. Cox, if I could.

How much missionary work is happening in Iraq today?

COX: We are involved in some humanitarian aid projects there. And specifically we, of course, in a post-9/11 world, do not give details of our work there. And, of course, anyone would understand that.

HEMMER: Yes, some of the reports we're getting, the Iraqis are suspicious of these -- the missionaries who are doing work there. They think they're part of the Freemasons, I understand. They think they're part of the CIA.

If you know it's tough and you know it's dangerous, how do you keep your people safe knowing they are targets, more so today than before?

COX: Well, Bill, I think you would agree that there are no safe places left in the world today. And certainly we're not there because of -- we think it's any safer than anywhere else or any more dangerous. We're there because of the passion that drives us to go and offer a cup of water in the name of Christ. We're there because what drives us is not to find a safe place or to find a place to serve, but because of our love for god.

HEMMER: A pretty obvious question, then. In a country that's 99 percent Muslim, how is that message received?

COX: Well, of course, they have a culture and tradition of believing differently than we do and we accept that and we understand that and we honor that. But we think that they ought to have the opportunity to choose what they want to believe and we simply are there in the name of Christ to offer assistance and to try to do something about the conditions that these people have lived with for years.

HEMMER: Quickly back to Mr. Hardy.

Knowing the dangers, would you ever advise your friends, your colleagues, to pull out and come home, Steve?

HARDY: No. I believe that's a determination that they have to make under the lordship of Christ. And certainly they're aware of the dangers and I believe that they're wise people, they're cautious people. But I believe that they're there, anyone who goes is there only because of a strong call and a strong relationship with the lord.

HEMMER: Pick up a major...

HARDY: And so that's a decision...

HEMMER: Go ahead.

HARDY: ... each one has to make.

HEMMER: Steve, thanks.

Steve Hardy. I didn't mean to cut you off there at the end.

HARDY: That's OK.

HEMMER: Pick up a major newspaper today in this country, you'll see front page news. They are now the new soft targets in Iraq.

Steve Hardy, Larry Cox, Raleigh, North Carolina, Richmond, Virginia, thank you, both, gentlemen.

All right.

O'BRIEN: A real tragedy there, isn't it?

HEMMER: Oh, yes.

O'BRIEN: It's very sad.

Still to come this morning, was vital information withheld from Congress before it voted on the prescription drug plan? We'll take you live to Capitol Hill up next.

HEMMER: Also, why Michael Jackson is likely to decline the prosecution's latest offer. We'll talk about that.

O'BRIEN: And we'll tell you which products are truly low carb and which ones aren't. The FDA hopes that new labeling guidelines will help ease some of the confusion.

Those stories ahead, as AMERICAN MORNING continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: The controversy about the true cost of the recent Medicare revamp touching off an investigation of the Bush administration. We want to go to Capitol Hill now and Joe Johns, looking into this for us this morning -- Joe, good morning there.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.

It's an investigation into whether a leading expert at Medicare was pressured into withholding certain information from Congress. The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services is looking into what has become an election year controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): The announcement of an investigation by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson comes amid concerns of some conservative Republicans that the administration withheld cost estimates from Congress on the prescription drug plan for Medicare.

REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: I think there is an annoyance factor here.

JOHNS: Annoyance because fiscal conservatives were reluctant to support the bill in the first place. The Congressional Budget Office said the plan would cost $395 billion over 10 years. But after the bill was signed by the president late last year, the administration said the cost was more like $534 billion. Documents now suggest the administration had vastly higher cost estimates as early as June.

KINGSTON: Doggone it, if there was a difference in numbers and we knew about it up front, we should have had the opportunity to explore what that difference was.

JOHNS: The central question is what the administration knew and when. Medicare's chief actuary, Rick Foster, tells CNN as far back as June he was ordered by the head of Medicare at the time, Tom Scully, not to give Congress projections of higher costs. Foster says he felt his job was threatened. Scully denies it.

THOMAS SCULLY, FORMER MEDICARE OFFICIAL: No one ever threatened to fire him.

JOHNS: But both men say Congress never specifically asked Medicare to issue a so-called score or estimate of the entire bill.

SCULLY: I never once had somebody ask me, anybody, in either party on the Hill, say could you please give us a comprehensive score of the entire bill?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Now, Democrats disagree. They say they did ask for this information in the form of e-mails. Experts say, frankly, there is simply no way to tell which estimate is correct -- Bill.

HEMMER: Joe, thanks for that update.

Joe Johns there, Capitol Hill -- Soledad. O'BRIEN: Pop star Michael Jackson has been invited to appear before a grand jury that will look into the child molestation charges against him. But will Jackson show up to tell his side of the story and would it even be a smart thing to do?

Here to talk about that and some developments in the Kobe Bryant case, as well, CNN senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin.

We're just going to hit you across the board on all the cases that are still percolating out there.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: OK.

O'BRIEN: Starting with this Michael Jackson case, why would they call for a grand jury as opposed to going, what I would consider to be the normal route, right to a trial?

TOOBIN: Well, the California prosecutors have a choice. They can do a preliminary hearing, which is a public proceeding with a low burden of proof, hearsay evidence admissible, where that's the usual way that cases proceed from an arrest to a trial. They can also go to the grand jury. And a grand jury is different because a grand jury is secret. And therefore if they want to call the accuser to testify, he won't be exposed to public testimony.

Also, a grand jury can investigate things beyond the actual set of charges for which Michael Jackson was arrested. So they can investigate if there are any other incidents out there. And one of the customs in California and most states that have a grand jury is that if you have a target of the grand jury, you invite the target of the grand jury to come in and testify.

Almost always the answer is no thank you.

O'BRIEN: Well, I was to say, now, why would Michael Jackson accept such an invitation to come and testify?

TOOBIN: He wouldn't and...

O'BRIEN: And what's the alternative? He says, OK, no, forget it, I won't. What happens next?

TOOBIN: Well, then they just proceed as they were going and he either gets indicted or not by the grand jury. I think Martha Stewart is now an expert on what happens when you volunteer to talk to the authorities and they're looking at you, which is they can -- that can sometimes turn around and bite you.

Michael Jackson has every reason not to testify, to take the Fifth. And I am sure, given the quality of his lawyers, he will not testify.

O'BRIEN: Lisa Marie Presley, who used to be married to Michael Jackson, has been making the rounds because she's promoting an album. And here's what she had to say about her relationship. And she hasn't said much about it, but she said she saw things that she "couldn't do anything about. Don't ask me what sorts of things, because I'm not going to answer, but just stuff."

Do you think she could be compelled to testify in front of a grand jury or, if this were to go to a trial, at a trial? Or even Debbie Rowe, who is the mother of Michael Jackson's children? Could they be forced to say what they know?

TOOBIN: They could be forced to testify. But what they could testify about is probably narrow, pretty narrow. Anything that took place during the marriage, any communications between husband and wife would be covered by the marital privilege. Now, they're divorced. If somehow Debbie Rowe or Lisa Marie Presley learned something after the marriage, they could be forced to testify about that, because the privilege only covers when you're married.

However, that statement, sort of tantalizing as it may be, it's pretty vague. I mean...

O'BRIEN: I saw lots of things, I'm not talking.

TOOBIN: Right. I mean, and it could, you know, it could be financial. I mean you have -- that alone is certainly not going to be admitted in any court.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about the Kobe Bryant trial.

The defense attorneys are trying to figure out if the accuser got any money from a Colorado fund that compensates victims of trauma.

I'd be curious to know why that's important. And, also, why do they need to know if she's going to write a book or go forward with a civil suit? I mean would that be her right if she so decides?

TOOBIN: It's certainly her right to do any of those things, make money. But the issue is are they entitled to learn that because it might go to her motives and, you know, is she in this for the money? That will undoubtedly be a big theme of the cross-examination of this woman, if and when she takes the witness stand when this case goes to trial, because, you know, if she is somehow cashing in on this, whether it's through the government -- which is unlikely to be much money -- but if it is a book deal, that is something that the defense will want to go into as for cross-examination material.

O'BRIEN: Two cases...

TOOBIN: So they are certainly entitled to that.

O'BRIEN: Two cases that we are following closely each and every day.

TOOBIN: And we will continue to.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Jeff, as always.

TOOBIN: OK.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, for sale on eBay, bidding through the roof on a three bedroom home. Forget location, location, location. In this case, it's a case of history, history, history. We'll explain, as AMERICAN MORNING continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Allrighty, welcome back.

And back to Jack, the Question of the Day.

CAFFERTY: Thank you, Bill.

The image of the United States abroad has never been lower, according to a poll done by the non-partisan Pew Research Center. A majority of people in every country surveyed except the United States say the war in Iraq hurt the fight against terrorism. Majorities in Great Britain, France, Germany and Turkey say that Western Europe should take a more independent approach when it comes to security and diplomacy. And majorities in every country except the U.S. have an unfavorable opinion of President Bush.

The question, has the war on terror permanently damaged America's relations with its allies.

Jay in Ann Arbor, Michigan: "Frankly, Jack, we shouldn't give a damn. They are all too eager to get the gains that America provides but just as eager to bite the hand that feeds them. The war was an unfortunate but necessary event."

Nancy in Massachusetts: "Absolutely. This past weekend I did something I've never done before in my life. I'm in my 60s. I joined a peace group and stood on a sidewalk with a sign that asked, 'Do you feel safer now?' Bush's war in Iraq has destroyed our standing everywhere in the world. It has given al Qaeda fertile ground to plant their seeds of hatred."

David in Oviedo, Florida: "Permanently, no, but serious damage has been done that'll take decades to repair. I wouldn't mind so much if Bush had taken the correct course with Iraq, but he didn't, and now the entire country is having to pay the price."

Michael in Huron, South Dakota: "Most likely yes. But who cares? We've sent a lot of foreign aid to countries that have given nothing back to us. If they don't cough up some cooperation pretty quick, we should pull the foreign aid."

And Barbara in Atlanta, Georgia writes: "The unnecessary invasion of Iraq damaged America's standing with our allies, not the war on terror. When will you people in the media stop sucking up to Bush and report the real facts that affect us all?"

God knows, Barbara, we're trying.

HEMMER: Yes, we are. We endeavor daily here on AMERICAN MORNING.

CAFFERTY: Yes. O'BRIEN: Every day, Barbara.

HEMMER: I thought it was interesting yesterday, the "New York Times" editorial page, three editorials on the same page on the same day said Spain was wrong for the course of action they took in their election on Sunday. I've never seen it that way before in that newspaper, where they would come out and say you gave in, you conceded and now the terrorists will view this as a victory.

O'BRIEN: It is a...

CAFFERTY: They must have had a vacation relief editor doing the editorial page at the "Times."

HEMMER: I can't say about that.

O'BRIEN: Well, Senator Biden said no matter what the motive was in the election, that at the end of the day it would be perceived that way, and that really is what matters.

HEMMER: Very true. And there is an ongoing watch right now to see how this coalition holds together in Iraq. And so far there's been no break from anyone who's contributing in Iraq anymore.

O'BRIEN: The key words being so far.

CAFFERTY: But it's a little tough to discount the linkage of the events in Spain and the election.

HEMMER: I would agree with you on that.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

HEMMER: Thanks, Jack.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, is America's relationship with Europe strained after last week's Madrid train bombings? We're going to talk to an expert on transatlantic relations, just ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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