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California Grand Jury Indicts Michael Jackson; A Discussion with Representative Christopher Shays

Aired April 22, 2004 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The grand jury's work is done. The decision is made. Michael Jackson indicted by a grand jury investigating child molestation charges.
As the fighting gets worse in Iraq, how much more will Americans have to pay for the war? And will the bill get lost in election year politics?

And appearing out of the fog, a floating monument to extravagance -- the Queen Mary 2 arriving in New York for the first time 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: Good morning, everybody.

Eight o'clock here in New York.

Other stories here, a little twist on Earth Day celebrations today. NASA's lead scientist for Mars is with us, talking about the two planets, seeing how the next door neighbor stacks up. Pretty interesting stuff, too, so we'll get to that in a moment.

O'BRIEN: Also this morning, Sanjay Gupta will be with us to talk about a new study about the brain and food. He says if you really like chocolate, it might go beyond just your taste buds. You might actually be addicted.

HEMMER: A junkie. Raise your hand if you're guilty.


O'BRIEN: Chocolate?

CAFFERTY: Oh, yes.

HEMMER: A chocoholic?

CAFFERTY: I love chocolate. Yes.

Coming up in the Cafferty File in a little less than an hour, residents of Chicago steamed about how much the city is paying for its telephone service. It has to do with sex and psychic hotlines.

HEMMER: Oh. CAFFERTY: And we may all be able to learn things soon by reading our potato chips.

HEMMER: Hmm, cryptic.

O'BRIEN: Really.

HEMMER: I like it.

CAFFERTY: Well, another innovation of mine.

HEMMER: Thank you, Chad.

CAFFERTY: Moving into the 21st century here.

HEMMER: You got it.

Let's start in Iraq this hour, in Fallujah, specifically. A U.S. general there warning insurgents to disarm or face the consequences. U.S. Marines had agreed to stop offensive operations if the insurgents handed over heavy weaponry. But military sources say they are not please with that turnover. They say guerrillas have days and not weeks to lay down their arms in Fallujah.

Also in Iraq, a different part of the country, families in Basra, the southeastern part, mourning the victims of suicide car bombings yesterday. At least 68 are dead, including almost 20 schoolchildren killed in the attacks. Three Iraqi police stations and a police training center were targeted. Some officials in Iraq blaming al Qaeda for those bombings. About 100 others wounded in the attacks of yesterday.

Here in the U.S., National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice updating Republican law makers today on the situation in Iraq. Yesterday, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Richard Myers, said the war is costing more than expected already. Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee, Myers says that the military may need another $4 billion by the end of the summer. Live to Capitol Hill next half hour here on that topic.

A dispute about mulch got out of hand at a D.C. garden center. Now a senator's wife has been charged with assault. Wanda Baucus, the wife of Montana Senator Max Baucus, was arraigned yesterday on a misdemeanor assault charge. She's accused of hitting a woman after they got in an argument while waiting for mulch to be loaded into their cars.

O'BRIEN: That is just so odd.

HEMMER: If it's true, I would agree with you a hundred percent.

O'BRIEN: That's just not right. Mulch?

HEMMER: Mulch rage I think is what they call it.

O'BRIEN: I've argued over many things, but mulch never. HEMMER: A tough country.


O'BRIEN: A California grand jury has indicted Michael Jackson, clearing the way for the pop star to stand trial on child molestation charges.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is live for us in Santa Barbara, California with the latest on this story -- hey, Miguel, good morning again.


It seems we're going to get to that trial one way or the other there, Soledad. For 13 days, a grand jury here considered evidence regarding molestation charges against the king of pop. Although they've come back with an indictment, it's not entirely clear what exactly they have indicted Michael Jackson on.

In order to get an indictment in a grand jury, 12 of the 19 grand jurors had to agree with a strong suspicion of guilt that Mr. Jackson had, in fact, committed these acts. Back in January, Mr. Jackson was indicted under a criminal complaint process for seven counts of lewd and lascivious acts against a minor under 14 and two counts of giving that minor an intoxicating agent.

If the district attorney wants to go ahead and proceed with the new indictment from the grand jury, then it would supersede that original criminal complaint.

Mr. Jackson's lawyers worked out a statement with the court system yesterday and they had this to say: "Michael Jackson, like any other person accused of a crime, is presumed to be innocent. In this case, Mr. Jackson is not just presumed to be innocent, but, in fact, he is innocent."

Now, all of this stems from acts that allegedly took place in February 2003 at Mr. Jackson's Neverland Ranch. It was searched last November and Mr. Jackson was arrested a few days later. And then he was put in -- he was here in court in January. And on the 30th of this month, he's expected to be back in court to be rearraigned -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Miguel Marquez for us this morning.

Miguel, thanks -- Bill.

HEMMER: Soledad, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is Michael Jackson's former spiritual adviser, back with us here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning to you, Rabbi.


HEMMER: Your reaction to the indictment. Are you surprised?

BOTEACH: Well, I was -- the shock came after the arrest. When you see someone you're very, you know, you care about and you were once close to being taken away in handcuffs, I don't think it gets more shocking than that.

The real shocking thing to me is that Michael's life is in serious decline, even without this indictment. And that he has not sort of gotten that there has to be major changes. Because even if Michael, god willing, is completely exonerated from this, it's not as if he's suddenly going to be taken back into the bosom of America. People still believe that he is a man who's rapidly deteriorating.

HEMMER: If I could, back to the point coming out of California already. You have repeatedly said that you don't believe he's a pedophile.

BOTEACH: I have no reason...

HEMMER: Why are you so convinced of that?

BOTEACH: You know, I'm a critic of Michael, so if I believed he was a pedophile, I would say it. I really don't believe it...

HEMMER: You're a critic of him?

BOTEACH: ... because I'm a critic of -- my criticism of Michael is his self-absorption, the whole celebrity thing where he needs to feel like he's worshipped. But I have never seen anything that would lead me to believe that Michael is a pedophile. In fact, the more I read in newspapers about these details coming out, I find them so shocking and so difficult to believe. But, you know, what can I tell you? A man is presumed innocent.

My advice to someone like Benjamin Brafman especially would be is that Michael really needs help. I mean to get his life together. And if there is any truth to this -- and I truly hope there is not. And he, of course, retains the presumption of innocence. But don't even go to trial, you know, because, as I said, exoneration in the courtroom does not mean exoneration in the wider life.

HEMMER: You're saying settle out of court, is what you're saying? Or just get ready to (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

BOTEACH: If they believe there is any truth to this whatsoever, Michael's got to get his life together. This is very sad, you know, because I care about him. A lot of people care about him. But Michael's life is not in a healthy state.

But I still don't believe he's a pedophile. I've never seen anything to lead me to believe that he's a pedophile.

HEMMER: You last spoke to him in the summer of 2001, right?

BOTEACH: Correct. HEMMER: And you have not spoken to him since, right?

BOTEACH: Correct.

HEMMER: It makes me wonder how close the two of you are.

BOTEACH: Well, we're not close now. We were once extremely close. But I can't stand by and watch someone I care about so deteriorate. My influence was totally negated. I'm not a groupie. I'm not going to just be a hanger on. I mean anyone who looks at Michael's life, if he's not going to seek counsel and really make changes, he will discredit anyone who's in his circle. And I couldn't let that happen. We exchange messages to each other.

But I'll tell you the truth, I mean my great fear, to be honest, and why I felt I had to be distanced from Michael is I never believed he would be arrested as a pedophile. My fear was that he would not live long. My fear was that Michael's life would be cut short.

HEMMER: What are you suggesting?

BOTEACH: Well, I'm suggesting that when you have no ingredients of a healthy life, when you are totally detached from that which is normal and when you are a super celebrity, you, god forbid, end up like Janis Joplin, like Elvis. Elvis was Michael's father-in-law, let's remember. And Michael is headed in that direction. He needs the healthy ingredients of a normal life.

HEMMER: You're saying he does not have good people around him, aren't you?

BOTEACH: Well, Benjamin Brafman is a very good guy. He's an orthodox Jew, by the way, and I know he's a man of integrity. Finally he has someone...

HEMMER: Outside of his legal counsel, though, your suggestion is that the friends and family have not given him the guidance that he needs.

BOTEACH: Terrible. Terrible. I mean what are they doing defending things that he's done that are indefensible -- not the pedophile charges? I mean why didn't someone say to Michael as soon as this all broke, you know, wake up call, alarm clock. What are you doing outside a courtroom egging on your fans, as if you just have contempt for the whole legal process? What are you doing going on TV on "60 Minutes" defending sharing a bed with children?

How could anyone say he has normal people around him or people who are giving him sound advice? Michael's gotten rid of anyone who's given him sound advice because he hates being challenged. He really -- he buys his own P.R. that he is the king of pop and that therefore he's immune to criticism.

But, you know, when you're immune to criticism, you cannot shape your life, you can't remold it once it's begun to deteriorate. And as I said, if there is any truth to this, and a guy like Benjamin Brafman is a man of high integrity, should really strike a deal and get Michael whatever help he needs.

But, again, he is innocent. I'm just concerned about the far greater implications of his life, like I said, you know, I hope Michael will be healthy and safe.

HEMMER: Good to see you again.

BOTEACH: Thank you, Bill.

HEMMER: Thanks -- he's Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, the U.N. agrees to an investigation that could find that its own officials were caught up in a corrupt scheme with Saddam Hussein.

HEMMER: Also, more legal news -- a major setback, some say, for the Kobe Bryant defense team. How much of a setback? We'll get to that in a moment here as we continue on AMERICAN MORNING.


HEMMER: The United Nations Oil For Food Program investigated by an independent panel at this time. Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker leading the group looking into allegations that U.N. officials were among those suspected of profiting. This while Saddam Hussein skimmed billions of dollars off that program.


KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: Obviously, these are serious allegations, which we take seriously. And this is why we've put together a very serious group to investigate it.


HEMMER: That's the view from the U.N. Congress also looking into charges of corruption.

Representative Christopher Shays out of Connecticut, the chairman of the subcommittee holding hearings on the Oil For Food Program live with us today on Capitol Hill.

Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.

Nice to have you here.


HEMMER: I know your hearings are just getting started this week.


HEMMER: Why do you think it was possible for Saddam Hussein and others to skim billions off this program? SHAYS: Well, frankly, it was run by the U.N. and they have a system where no investigation, no oversight can occur unless everyone agrees, and not everyone agreed. And there was one unit within this system that set oil prices. And at one point -- it's supposed to have three members -- the Russians were the only members and they vetoed any additional members. So they were setting oil prices.

It's an amazing story.

HEMMER: And this went on for a period of years, too. And I can understand how Saddam Hussein could have skimmed billions by selling illegal oil on the black market and keeping a lot of the money for himself.


HEMMER: There is a suggestion, though...

SHAYS: Well, yes, what he...

HEMMER: ... that people in Paris and those in Moscow also benefited from this.

Is that a fact? Is that possible?

SHAYS: Oh, that's -- it's clearly a fact. The Russians were about one fourth of this program. The French were very involved. Now, the U.S. bought about 45 percent of this oil. But the middlemen appear to be the ones who were making the sums.

What they did is they basically, they undersold the oil and Saddam got a kickback and they over bought for commodities. And sometimes they never got the commodities. And sometimes the commodities were worthless.

HEMMER: Can your panel get to the heart of this? And you said another thing in there, too, about people in the U.S. Are you talking Americans or people just living and working here who may have benefited, as well, from this?

SHAYS: Well, we consumed 45 percent of Iraqi oil. It's superb oil and our refineries needed it. But I just make the point to you that when we're finished telling this story, I think a lot of people will be involved in it. It may include some Americans, as well.

But the amazing thing is that the head of the U.N. program overseeing this may have been involved, as well.

HEMMER: In your opening statement yesterday, toward the end of that statement -- and I'll just put it on the screen for our viewers to see -- you said yesterday, "We have to be certain Security Council votes on vital questions of global security and international order are not for sale to the highest bidder." It continues, "The U.N. may be called upon to act as trustee for another failed state in receivership. It should have the capacity to do so effectively, honestly and openly." Is there a question on the line here, again, about the credibility for the world body?

SHAYS: Oh, absolutely. The U.N. looks terrible. It allowed this program to exist where $10 billion was ripped off and I think we can judge the U.N. not on what it's done, but how it cleans itself up.

Paul Volcker is an excellent appointment. He'll do a terrific job.

HEMMER: How long before you can reach conclusions? Have you got a time frame?

SHAYS: You know what? I think it's going to take less than a year, but it's not going to be an easy investigation.

HEMMER: Are you confident you can get to the bottom of it?

SHAYS: I'm confident that all of us collectively can get to the bottom of it.

HEMMER: Do you think Americans are going to be ticked off on your conclusions?

SHAYS: Americans are going to be ticked off. This is probably the biggest scandal ever.

HEMMER: Wow. Ever.

SHAYS: Ever.

HEMMER: Christopher Shays, thanks.

Within a year we should get results, as you say.

We will follow it certainly there from D.C.

Thanks for your time today.

SHAYS: Thank you.

HEMMER: Here's Soledad now.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, the grand jury has spoken in the Michael Jackson case. We've got details on that just ahead.

Plus Earth Day with an out of this world view -- we'll explain when AMERICAN MORNING continues.

Stay with us.


HEMMER: Fifty-three and sunny. We'll take it already. And it's Earth Day, too. And the family of planets Earth and Mars are celestial siblings said to have striking similarities. NASA is taking the opportunity today, on Earth Day, to explore this kind of sibling rivalry.

NASA scientist Jim Garvin with us now from the Goddard Space Station in Maryland to talk about it.

Good morning.

Welcome back.


It's great to be here.

HEMMER: Tell me more about this rivalry.

GARVIN: Well, hey, we have two planets born at a same time, but they grew up differently. And we're trying to understand how we can read the records of Mars to predict our own fate, and, likewise, understand what might be there on Mars, including the record of life from using the earth.

HEMMER: Yes, you say they grew up differently. Which one is older, Jim?

GARVIN: Both the same age.

HEMMER: Exact same age?

GARVIN: The planets all formed at the same time. Absolutely.

HEMMER: And so as we go forward, then, and we look at the rovers on Mars and we look about the pursuit for water, it has not been concluded definitively at this point, but based on the reaction we're getting from the rovers, what do you think?

GARVIN: Well, we think we, at least in one place, have found rocks that were made under water in a shallow sea. Now, whether that sea was big or small, how long it existed, we're still working on that as we continue our exploration.

HEMMER: Yes, if you count...

GARVIN: But, Bill, we've...

HEMMER: If you kept this argument on Earth, Jim, what part of our planet would you say is most like the red planet, Mars?

GARVIN: Well, we have several places. One would be the dry valleys of Antarctica. These are places where it's supremely cold. The water is mostly frozen year round. Occasionally it exists as a liquid. They are very dry, in some cases very salty. And yet even in these frigid micro-environments on Earth, we find life today, living at the hairy edge of existence.

So that's why we used these places on Earth as our practice grounds, our proving grounds for what we wanted to be able to do on Mars. HEMMER: Yes. We're shifting our focus to Mars today. Exploration for humans on that planet, what would your estimate be?

GARVIN: Well, I think we certainly need people to follow up on what our rovers are doing and the other plans we have to explore Mars. Really, the question is when we've done enough homework to send them there safely so they can do what we people do so well, Bill, which is adapt very dynamically.

So we're going to go to the Moon to practice, to get operational experience working on another planetary world, practice the kind of things we're going to do on Mars with people, like women and men, and then go to Mars, where the homework is ready so that people can go and make the big findings, make the eureka moments come true.

HEMMER: I'm not quite sure I heard a year in there. Do you want to go further?

GARVIN: Well, Bill, all I can say is we have the next 20 years of Mars exploration charted with our robotic Americans and at that point we may be able to tell you when we're ready to go.

HEMMER: All right. Come back and let us know.

Happy Earth Day.

Jim Garvin from NASA.

GARVIN: Thanks, Bill.

HEMMER: You've got it.

Talk to you later -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And Jack is here with the Question of the Day -- hello, Mr. Cafferty.

CAFFERTY: I was just writing you a little note there. The hairy edge of existence -- living at the hairy edge of existence. I don't know what that means, but I can relate. I think I've been there.

HEMMER: It's a sketchy edge, too, by the way.

CAFFERTY: How much do we need to know about the presidential candidates -- medical records, tax records, military service records, yada, yada, yada? That's the question this morning.

And here's what some of you have been writing.

Bob in New Hope, Pennsylvania: "Unfortunately, the answer is short. The sad truth is most people just need to know the party. They don't even know the candidate's name. It would be interesting to remove the party designation of the candidates from voting booths and see what would happen. It might force voters to learn a little something about their choices, like their names, for instance."

Is that my microphone?

O'BRIEN: Yes, over here. I'm going to -- you keep talking. I'm going to fix it.

CAFFERTY: All right.

Oh, OK.

O'BRIEN: Here, I'll do this. You keep going.


Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We'll hook you up.

CAFFERTY: You think this is easy? Well, it's not.

HEMMER: She's a ma at home and at work.

O'BRIEN: I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan.

CAFFERTY: What am I going to do when you have these babies? There'll be nobody.

O'BRIEN: But I take good care of you.

Go on.

CAFFERTY: Paul in Albuquerque, New Mexico: "When the president's right hand man was the CEO of the very company with the largest Iraqi no bid contract, Halliburton, and his own history shows oil business dealings with the Saudi family, we have a right -- no, a duty -- to scour his entire financial holdings and his IRS returns."

And finally Paul in Hellertown, Pennsylvania: "Senator Kerry's distinguished Vietnam combat service record reveals a bronze star, a silver star, three Purple Hearts. President Bush's combat record, while allegedly serving in the National Guard, reveals he may have visited the dentist. Kerry's record demonstrates he's more than capable to serve as commander-in-chief. President Bush may be better qualified to offer us advice on how to brush and floss."

Did it sound better with two microphones?

HEMMER: I think so.


HEMMER: Assist O'Brien, by the way.

O'BRIEN: It was kind of breaking up a little.

CAFFERTY: Living on the hairy edge of existence. That's what we do...

O'BRIEN: You were trying to figure out what that meant.

CAFFERTY: That's what we do here from seven to 10 each and every weekday morning.

O'BRIEN: The hairy -- I'm going to use that again.

HEMMER: Love it.

Thanks, Jack.

CAFFERTY: I have no idea what it means, but it's one of the most colorful phrases those guys have ever -- any of those guys have ever used.

HEMMER: And to go into the deep, dark annals of AMERICAN MORNING history, too, as well.

O'BRIEN: I love it.

You can do the news again.

HEMMER: Jay Leno talking last night about Bob Woodward's book.

Have a listen to late night comedy here.


JAY LENO, HOST: According to the, Bob Woodward's new book, allegedly Dick Cheney and Colin Powell barely speak to each other anymore. But that's not unusual. In every administration there are people who don't speak to each other. The Bush administration it's Cheney and Powell. In the Reagan administration it was Donald Regan and Nancy. In the Clinton administration it was Bill and Hillary. So that's not unusual. It's not unusual.

And today, President Bush commented for the first time on the Woodward book. Bush said he can't wait for the book to come out on tape so he can find out what all the fuss is about.


CAFFERTY: That's pretty funny.

O'BRIEN: That was very funny.

HEMMER: Books on tape.

Jay and David, too, on last night.

In a moment here, a judge's decision dealing a setback, they say, to Kobe Bryant's defense team.

We'll get to that live in Colorado after that. How significant? In a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING.


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