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AMERICAN MORNING

Bush and Cheney Taking Questions From 9/11 Commission; Deadly Day for U.S. Forces Across Iraq; Death on the Road

Aired April 29, 2004 - 9:00   ET

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


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. At this hour, the president and the vice president on their own turf, answering questions from the 9/11 Commission.
On an extremely violent day in Iraq, more Marines are right now finding their way out of a nightmare in Fallujah.

And more and more Americans dead on the highway. Why? Answers this hour here on AMERICAN MORNING.

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

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ACHOR: Good morning. Welcome everybody.

Stories that we're following this morning: we're going to talk to Steve Coll. He is the author of "Ghost Wars," a book which traces the secret history of the CIA from the days of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. We're also going to get his perspective on the president's testimony, which we are expecting in just about 30 minutes, to the 9/11 Commission.

I say we're expecting it. We're expecting it to happen, although we will not be seeing it because it is behind closed doors, and there'll be no recording of the event.

HEMMER: Also this hour, Bill Schneider in a few moments. Interesting points to make about the new polling showing Iraqis opinions about the U.S. occupation and their own future. We'll get to Bill down in D.C. in a moment.

O'BRIEN: And Mr. Cafferty, hello.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Polls in Iraq -- hello, Soledad -- suggest the Iraqis would like the United States to pack up its things and come on back over here. There is a poll in The New York Times that suggests that support for leaving our troops in Iraq is declining in this country as well. AM@CNN.com -- the question is when should American troops leave Iraq?

O'BRIEN: OK. Great, thanks. Let's go right to our top stories first this morning.

A deadly day in Iraq for American troops. A total of 10 U.S. soldiers have been killed in a string of attacks today. Eight were killed when a car bomb went off in Mahmoudiya, which is south of Baghdad. Four others hurt in that attack. Two other U.S. soldiers killed in separate incidents in the Baghdad area.

Federal officials warning of possible terrorist activities in the West Los Angeles area. In a statement, authorities say they have received a potential threat indicating an attack on a shopping mall in the general vicinity of the federal building. As of now, the information is uncorroborated and the credibility of the source is unknown.

One of President Bush's most popular tax cuts may become permanent. The House voted yesterday to approve a Bill that would eliminate what is called the marriage tax penalty. But some Democrats say the government can't afford the tax cut, which would cost the treasury $105 billion over the next decade. The Bill heads next to the Senate.

NBA star Kobe Bryant expected to enter a formal plea next month in the sexual assault case against him. A May 10 date was set in Eagle, Colorado. Under Colorado law, once a defendant in a sexual assault case enters a plea, the trial must be held within six months.

And we all know it's officially spring, but you wouldn't know it out in Montana. That did not stop Mother Nature from unleashing a fierce snowstorm there, dumping eight inches of snow in some areas, just one day after the state was enjoying a most unseasonably warm weather there. The snowstorm made driving treacherous. And, actually, two highways were closed.

HEMMER: A cool front in California also. Those folks needed it, too. Triple-digit temperatures in downtown L.A.

O'BRIEN: A couple of days of 100 degrees, they're like, oh, bring in that cool front.

HEMMER: In April it's not welcome.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: At this hour, in fact 30 minutes away, the president and the vice president taking questions on their version of events leading up to 9/11 and the days after that. A history-making event, we are told. Dana Bash is live from the White House with more there.

Good morning.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRSEPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.

And the setting will be none other than the Oval Office, as you and Soledad have been talking about this morning. That could make for an intimidating backdrop.

Now, the vice president has already arrived here at the White House. He came in early, as he normally does. And, also, we are expecting all 10 commissioners from the 9/11 Commission to be here. They're expected to be arriving very shortly because, as you said, this session does start in about a half an hour. Now, here are the ground rules: first of all, the president and vice president will not be under oath. And while this, by all accounts, is an historic event, there will be no official recording for the history books, no transcripts, no audio recording of what the president and vice president say. And the president's chief counsel, Alberto Gonzales, will be there, with two other White House lawyers present.

They will be the ones who will be taking notes to record this. In addition, the commission members will be allowed to record some of the notes of what the president and vice president say.

Now, there has been no shortage of criticism of these ground rules. The biggest criticism in question, of course, has been why they have to appear together, why they want to do so. Now, the White House insists what they are trying to do is help with the commission's ultimate goal, which is to fact find, and that the two of them essentially testifying together could help with that mission.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALBERTO GONZALES, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: We say to the American people and to the critics that this was a unique circumstance. This president is committed to assist this commission, find out what happened to assist this commission, develop recommendations so that this kind of event can ever happen again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, the White House did reverse itself on this session. Originally they had just said they wanted to meet with the chair and vice chair of the commission. Now, of course, all members will be there. And they had originally said it would be one hour. We do expect it to last several hours this morning -- Bill.

HEMMER: Dana, thanks for that.

So then what comes out of this meeting today? Steve Coll, managing editor of The Washington Post, author of "Ghost Wars," with us also from Washington, D.C.

Welcome back here to AMERICAN MORNING, Steve. Good to have you here.

STEVE COLL, AUTHOR, "GHOST WARS": Hi Bill. Good to be with you.

HEMMER: What questions can only the president and vice president answer on this matter?

COLL: Well, I think they mainly have to do with the president's state of mind in the summer of 2001. We know now from the 9/11 Commission hearings that the president received a series of warnings about al Qaeda plots in motion beginning in May of 2001, that these intensified right up to about the 4th of July. We all know about the written briefing he received in August. And he's never really address in a detailed way what his reactions were to these warnings, how he thought about al Qaeda, how he thought about bin Laden, what he specifically ordered his aides to do and why. And I suspect that the commission will spend a lot of time on that subject.

HEMMER: C. Boyden Gray last hour with Soledad made a rather interesting point. He contends that the commission, all 10 members, now know more about the events leading up to 9/11 than both Dick Cheney and George Bush combined because of the investigation they've conducted. Do you agree with that?

COLL: That's probably true. But what they don't know is what the president of the United States was thinking and saying to his closest confidants in the crucial months immediately before the attacks, when he did have a series of conversations with his director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, about these warnings, and he did ask for certain briefings. He did ask for certain actions to be taken, but the record is a little thin about what he was exactly thinking and saying during those months.

HEMMER: We know nothing will be transcribed. Almost off the record essentially, behind closed doors in the Oval Office. At what point do we learn something? And how much do we learn as a result of this today, Steve?

COLL: I think that we're not likely to learn very much in the next 24, 48 hours. And even when fuller accounts of this conversation are provided by commissioners in the future or by the release of some of the notes at some point in the future, I doubt that it's going to be a very full record.

Still, the president will speak to these issues and several others that we haven't listed. And it may be for a long while, at least until he writes his memoirs, the only time he directly addresses these questions in his own voice.

HEMMER: Watching the clock here. About 22 minutes away from the scheduled time there in the Oval Office.

Thanks, Steve. Steve Coll from The Washington Post, author of "Ghost Wars." Always good to have you here. Appreciate it.

COLL: Thanks, Bill.

HEMMER: All right.

Soledad?

O'BRIEN: There are some mixed messages coming out of Iraq this morning. A senior U.S. military official telling CNN that there is no tentative deal between U.S. Marines and four Iraqi generals for a transfer of power in Fallujah. We've been told by LA Times reporter Tony Perry that the Marines and those Iraqis had agreed to a Marine pullback and a turnover of security operations to the Iraqi army. But that senior official says numerous possibilities are now being negotiated, and as of right now there is no deal.

Meanwhile, across Iraq, it has been a deadly day for U.S. forces. At least 10 Americans have been killed, eight of them in a car bomb attack south of Baghdad. Two others died in separate incidents in the Baghdad area.

HEMMER: Trying to sort out the facts again from Fallujah. Once again, back with our retired Air Force major, Don Shepperd, out military analyst.

Don, welcome back here. We were talking with Christine Spolar, a writer for the Chicago Tribune, just about 40 minutes ago in Baghdad. Keeping in mind what the commanders on the U.S. military are saying, not so fast about this deal, she says nothing moves fast on that country. Interested to get your reaction now about what you feel at this point.

MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: Yes. Well, I think it's good that nothing moves fast. But it's very encouraging anything is moving at all. We haven't had any good news out of Iraq for a long time, Bill.

As we said earlier this morning when we first talked about this, we have to be very cautious. We are at the early stages of an agreement.

The reporter from the Los Angeles Times, Tony Perry, said there was an agreement -- was reported to have said there was an agreement in place. We're probably just at the early stages. But it looks like we're moving toward that direction, a negotiated settlement, as opposed to more killing. And this is very encouraging, Bill.

HEMMER: The folks at CNN-USA Today-Gallup have surveyed about 3,500 Iraqis. And of those surveyed, the question was asked about how long the U.S. troops should stay, or should they leave immediately. On that answer, 57 percent say yes. What does that indicate to you?

SHEPPERD: Bill, I'm surprised it's not 100 percent of the Iraqis. When I was there in September, something really struck me. Every Iraqi I talked to said, "We want you guys to leave. Don't become occupiers."

They didn't know when, because they didn't know when at that time. But the longer we stay, the more there are gong to be Iraqi casualties and the more there are gong to be American casualties, both of which are bad news for the eventual solution, which is for Iraqis to take over.

I talked to all of the American troops I could come across. All of them wanted to go home. So they want us to go, we want to go. There ought to be a way out of this diplomatically, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

HEMMER: Don, but you're saying, though, it's only 57 percent. That's what you're emphasizing, right? SHEPPERD: Yes, I'm emphasizing it's only 57 percent, when I thought it would be more like 100 percent or 95 percent. I really think the solution is for us to get out of there as quickly as possible, turn over security for Iraqis. They have to step forward and take responsibility for themselves.

We cannot bring security to Iraq. We can't create the new Iraq. They must.

HEMMER: Well, it takes cooperation to get it done. And at this point, that question cannot be answered.

Move away from Fallujah for a moment here, if we could, Don. How is the situation in Najaf different than what we're hearing from Fallujah?

SHEPPERD: Yes, that's kind of an interesting situation over there. What's happening in Najaf right now is what we are seeing the early stages of happening in Fallujah.

The military forces, the United States forces that have replaced the Spanish forces that are going home, are staying outside of Najaf and letting the Iraqis solve the situation, which is disarm the Muqtada al-Sadr militias that are in the area. This is an intra-Shia struggle between two factions, the Sistani factions and the al-Sadr factions of Shia.

What we need to do is make sure we don't turn it into a Shia versus American or Shia versus the coalition. We're doing it very smart there in Najaf, and we also need to do it very smart in Fallujah and move towards negotiations as opposed to conflict.

HEMMER: Thanks, Don. Don Shepperd there, retired from the Air Force, down in D.C.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, President Bush and Vice President Cheney will answer questions from 9/11 Commission members. That's set to take place in really just a few minutes. We're going to take you live to the White House in just a moment.

HEMMER: Also, staggering numbers regarding death on American highways. The alarming increase and why in a moment here.

O'BRIEN: Plus, Brad and Jennifer made it. Who else is on that list of the 50 most beautiful? Stay with us. We'll let you know. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: The government is reporting an alarming increase in traffic deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, in 2003, the number of traffic fatalities reached a 13-year high. Total highway deaths last year, more than 43,000, represented a one percent increase over 2002. And it was the fifth straight year that road deaths increased. So joining us this morning from Washington to discuss this disturbing rise in traffic deaths is Sally Greenberg of the Consumers Union, which publishes "Consumer Reports."

Nice to see you, sally. Thanks for joining us. What do you make of these numbers, 43, 220 in 2003? In 2002, it was 42,815. A one percent increase. Some people might say, well, that's not a huge increase.

SALLY GREENBERG, CONSUMERS UNION: Well, it really shouldn't be happening because cars are actually getting safer. But if you look a little closer at the numbers, what you see is that there are certain categories where these numbers are going up, the fatalities. And that is in sport utility vehicles, and we see motorcycle deaths going up for the sixth year in a row. And there is a reason for that.

With sport utility vehicles, they have a higher tendency to roll over. And although only a percentage of those were rollover injuries, they're not always as safe as I think American buyers have been led to believe.

So we -- and we also see problems with motorcycles, increases in deaths in motorcycles, which is really tragic. And I think that can be very directly traced to the fact that a number of states have, under lobbying pressure from motorcyclists, some motorcyclists, have repealed their helmet laws. And with motorcycles, there just isn't much margin of safety if you don't have a helmet on and you get into an accident.

O'BRIEN: The study also showed that passenger car fatalities are down, while those SUV fatalities are up. And while the rollover issue may be a factor, isn't it also true that SUV sales are up, too? They've increased so much that actually it makes sense that the numbers would increase in the fatalities?

GREENBERG: Well, that's right. And some of this is adjusted for the number of cars on the road. Really, what should be happening -- because cars have gotten safer -- there is more seat belt usage, certainly, although there's not enough seat belt usage. There is better air bags, more advanced air bags. We have antilock brake systems.

We should be see fatalities going down. And instead, we're seeing this increase which is very disturbing.

Now, there is legislation to deal with this that's in Congress right now. It has gotten the support of the full Senate. But unfortunately, the House is saying that they don't want to pass it, the administration hasn't supported it.

You can put devices into sport utility vehicles, for example, that make them less inclined to roll over. We think -- Consumer Reports has recommended that every single SUV have electronic stability control, something to prevent a vehicle from rolling over, at least help it get it to right itself on the road. So there are fixes for these problems. We'd like to see them be put into place. There is a bill that will do that. We need to get rolling on this notion that we can prevent injuries. We need people to buckle up, certainly, but there are things we can do to make cars safer. And we're pushing very hard for those technologies.

O'BRIEN: Fifty-eight percent of those killed in 2003 were not wearing seat belts. Does that mean that fewer people are wearing seat belts now than they were in previous years, or is that just more drivers on the road again?

GREENBERG: Actually, seat belt usage is up. What you see is that when people die on the highways, it's often they might have lived had they been wearing their seat belt. That's why you're seeing such a high percentage of people who are killed in highway accidents unbelted.

So wearing seat belts is absolutely essential. They're a life- saving technology. But there are other things that we can do to make vehicles safer. And we want to see the auto industry work with consumer groups and the government to try to put those technologies in place. They will save lives.

O'BRIEN: Seventeen thousand people more died as a result of some kind of -- somebody involved in the accident drinking and driving. Any sense that that's a number that with certainly the pressure for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other organizations is going to decline over the next few years?

GREENBERG: Well, that's a number that's have been very, very hard to move. And certainly, Consumers Union, other groups have backed the very strong point .08 alcohol limitations.

Yes, driving and drinking still happens far too frequently. We were disappointed that the numbers weren't smaller. We just need to get that message out. It's a very difficult but very important area to focus our attention on.

O'BRIEN: Yes, no question, with 17,000-plus people dying every year from that. Sally Greenberg is with Consumer Reports. Nice to have you. Thanks for being with us.

GREENBERG: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Bill?

HEMMER: We're going to go overseas for a moment here. Incredible satellite photos of last week's powerful train explosion in North Korea, right near the Chinese border. If you look closely, you can see the town Ryongchon, what it looked like before the blast on Thursday. A later photo reveals the devastation caused by that train explosion.

A huge crater is left behind in the after picture now. You can actually see how the intense heat from the blast billowed out, torching the landscape around it. The town virtually leveled, in this part, anyway, by the massive blast. One hundred and sixty were killed by it last Thursday, if you were watching it .

O'BRIEN: That's an amazing shot, that before to the after. Look at that.

HEMMER: The only silver lining is the initial report saying thousands may have died. Clearly, that number came down dramatically.

O'BRIEN: Exactly. And it was sort of shocking when that number came down, too, because when you look at those pictures, certainly thousands could have died. It's a residential area. It easily could have happened.

Still to come this morning, no net up in the violence in Iraq, while attempts to end the standoff in Fallujah appear to have stalled. We've got the latest on the situation there.

Plus, Madonna speaking out for the first time on being sued by her own record company. Stay with us.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Once again, solving worldwide problems.

CAFFERTY: Yes, right.

HEMMER: Jack Cafferty is back.

O'BRIEN: Again today.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

Sagging support from both Iraqis and Americans on the subject of keeping U.S. forces in Iraq. A poll done over there, 57 percent of Iraqis say U.S. troops ought to leave immediately. That's a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll.

And a New York Times-CBS News polls shows 46 percent of Americans now say that the troops ought to leave as soon as possible. So the question is, when is the right time for U.S. Troops to leave Iraq?

Kristen, in Louisville, Kentucky, "My husband is fighting today in Iraq. Do I want him to come home? Right away, please. Every day things in that country get worse and worse. It's referred to in conversations with my husband as the hellhole. Iraq is not worth the lives of these brave soldiers."

Larry, a senior master sergeant, U.S. Air Force retired, writes this: "Obviously the Iraqis have learned the lesson taught by Ho Chi Min so many years ago. If we pull out of this war the way we did in Vietnam, I swear to god I will never vote for either a Democrat or Republican again."

"These kids are not dying so that some feather merchant politician can win an election. People in this country should be ashamed. I guess the John Kerrys will get another chance to throw medals over the fence and disgrace their uniforms. Mark me disgusted."

And Walt writes from Las Vegas, Nevada, "Never. When did we pull our troops out of Germany or Japan or Korea?"

AM@CNN.com.

HEMMER: A lot of consideration given to the Middle East reaction if you were to pull out. What would the reaction be in Riyadh or Damascus or Beirut at that point? What would the reflection be on the U.S. military...

CAFFERTY: And what would Iraq become in very short order? It would become home to the world's terrorist organizations...

O'BRIEN: Half of who are there already.

CAFFERTY: ... sitting on the second largest deposit of crude oil on the planet, from which would flow enough money to blow up everything they decide they want. I mean, it's a very scary thing.

HEMMER: It's going to get a lot of attention, too. We talked about this yesterday, the decision made at the end of the war to let the Ba'ath Party members go, to let the military members go. A year later now, they're trying to recruit all of them. Sorry, not all of them, but a good number of them back into the fold.

CAFFERTY: And they told us. They said we'll fight you in the cities at some point. They told us that a year ago. Well, guess what?

HEMMER: Hey, news from Madonna.

CAFFERTY: Oh, gee. I've been waiting for this.

HEMMER: I know you have, Jack. Her own record company taking a fight. Madonna issuing a statement, saying, "I find myself in the ludicrous position of being sued by my own record company, whom I have been loyal, industrious and reliable to for over 20 years."

CAFFERTY: Bad grammar.

HEMMER: A lot of prepositions hanging out over there. Madonna and Warner Music Group at odds over the profitability of Maverick Records. She and two others own the music label, along with Warner Music, in a partnership that expires at the end of this year. The two sides filed dueling lawsuits late last month.

And now you know.

O'BRIEN: And now you know.

Still to come this morning, a G-rated Prince? The artist formerly known as the raunchy rocker returns, but this time with a new tamer persona. That, plus another American idol gets the boot. We'll tell you who when AMERICAN MORNING continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

O'BRIEN: It's exactly half-past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.

You know, right now, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, they are scheduled to begin their appearance before that 9/11 Commission that is going on in the Oval Office. Dana Bash is standing by for us at the White House this morning, and she's going to give us the full update on this historic meeting.

HEMMER: Also, on a much lighter note, "90-Second Pop" back with us today, looking at a bit of controversy involving Barbara Walters in a segment on "20/20" over on ABC. Sort of implied a baby was going to be given away in a reality show style. Walters apologized, saying the promotion gave a wrong impression, saying it was a mistake at one point.

We'll look at that in a few moments here.

O'BRIEN: And the show airs on Friday. It will be interesting to see the difference between the promo and the actual broadcast.

HEMMER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Top stories first this morning.

Senior military officials in Iraq are dismissing reports that a peace deal has been struck with insurgents in Fallujah. An official says U.S. and Iraqi forces are discussing increasing the Iraqi security presence in the area, but at this point there are no definitive plans for a U.S. pullback.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's search for a running mate has reportedly moved into a more serious phase. Background checks are said to have begun on several candidates, including former Missouri representative, Dick Gephardt. Also under possible consideration is North Carolina Senator John Edwards and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Campaign officials say no decision will be made anytime soon.

In New Jersey, jurors continue deliberating this morning in the Jayson Williams manslaughter trial. They sent five notes to the judge since they got the case earlier this week. Yesterday, they wanted clarification about a weapons possession charge. If he is convicted on all counts, Williams could face a maximum of 55 years in prison.

More shakeups ahead of Michael Jackson's court appearance tomorrow. Days after firing the head of his legal team, Jackson has replaced his security team as well. Sources tell CNN that Jackson will use a private security firm in replace of the nation of Islam. The change was made by Jackson's new legal team, which is now headed by Thomas Mesereau. And after nearly 60 years after World War II, a national memorial finally opening to the public honoring the men and women who served there bravely. The memorial on the National Mall has been almost two decades in the making. It's designed with 56 bronze pillars, with two bronze wreaths on either side. A formal dedication ceremony is scheduled for the end of next month.

It looks like a beautiful memorial.

HEMMER: It sure does.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see it in person.

HEMMER: I believe it's opening earlier than they originally scheduled, which is good reason...

O'BRIEN: It's only been 60 years.

HEMMER: Well, yes, that. Memorial Weekend is going to be the big one in about a month's time.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: At this hour, the president and vice president scheduled to meet with members of the 9/11 Commission. To the White House now, and Dana Bash, reporting for us on what is happening there.

Commission members there, Dana? Good morning.

BASH: Good morning.

Yes, they are. And we just got word, Bill, from a senior administration official that all 10 members are here and the session has begun. It just began at 9:30, right on time. And this is something that's going to take a couple of hours, at least, and the president and vice president have both been studying for this, preparing by reading some transcripts of the former hearings over the past couple of months and weeks, particularly by Richard Clarke, their former counter terror chief.

So they are prepared for some of the likely questions. Let's take a look at what they are probably going to be asked, among other things.

First of all, what were they told about in terms of the threat that al Qaeda presented at the beginning of the administration from Clinton officials? Did they know from the beginning of the threat?

Also, homeland security. There was a task force created by the vice president in May of 2001. Why did they do that? What became of it? Did anything become of this particular task force?

Also, specifically, what actions did the president and vice president take in the summer of 2001, especially August 2001, after the president got a briefing that essentially said that Osama bin Laden did plan, was planning some attacks on the homeland? What actions did they take to react to that specific briefing? And also, on the day of September 11, what were the communications like between the president, who was in Florida, and then essentially hop scotched across the country, while the vice president was here in a bunker at the White House -- Bill.

HEMMER: Dana, thanks for that. And thanks for putting up with the construction, too. They're still building there. Day after day, week after week...

BASH: It's been going on for a while.

HEMMER: All right.

Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Has the U.S. presence in Iraq done more harm than good? It's a politically-charged question here at home, but just how do the Iraqis feel about it?

A CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll done largely before the new round of violence this month is the first extensive look at how Iraqis see life in their country since the fall of Saddam. CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider joins us this morning from Washington with a closer look at these polls.

Hey, Bill. Good morning to you.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to it. Some of these things are contradictory, so I'm just going to throw out the numbers for you.

The first question, Iraqis were asked whether or not the United States and the British forces should leave immediately or should they stay longer. Fifty-seven percent said leave immediately; 53 percent, though, say they'll feel less safe if the coalition leaves. What do you make of these numbers?

SCHNEIDER: I make of these numbers that the view of most Iraqis, at least even before the insurrection, was, thank you and get out. They're grateful to the United States for overthrowing Saddam Hussein, they think it was the right thing, and they feel that their lives are better. But they distrust the United States and they don't think the United States is accomplishing very much now.

In fact, their view is that we're doing more harm than good. So there is gratitude for you.

O'BRIEN: Sixty-one percent said ousting Saddam Hussein was worth any hardship they were enduring. Twenty-eight percent said, no, actually not worth it. In a way, it's one of the few sort of positive readings in a question. What do you make of this answer?

SCHNEIDER: That they are happy to get rid of Saddam Hussein. And they also said they don't think they could have done it without the United States. That's the "thank you" part; thank you and get out.

We think you did the right thing. We appreciate the help. But we don't like your staying here. You're not welcome. And I think Americans are getting that message, too.

O'BRIEN: No surprise, I think, with these numbers. Seventy-one percent say the United States troops, coalition troops, really, are occupiers. Nineteen percent say liberators. I feel like that's clearly not much of a surprise.

SCHNEIDER: No, it isn't. But look at the shift since we first went into Iraq last spring. Only 43 percent said we were occupiers then. That number has been growing, which means anti-American sentiment has been growing over the whole year of this occupation.

Things are moving in a negative direction. The longer we stay there, the less welcomed the United States is.

O'BRIEN: So then read into the current round of violence that we've seen, certainly specifically in Fallujah, but in Baghdad and elsewhere. What do you make of these numbers as they play into the latest round of news?

SCHNEIDER: That means that the Iraqis are becoming exasperated with the United States, and insurrectionaries (ph) who represent minority, factions in Iraq, those who want to declare an Islamic republic, those who want to restore something of the old regime, while their cause isn't popular, they've been able to tap into something real, which is anti-American sentiment.

They are building, or at least have the potential of building, an anti-American coalition of some power and resonance. That is what these numbers suggest. Whereas the Bush administration keeps trying to portray them as thugs and extremists with no following. Their political cause probably has very little following, but the anti- Americanism is very widespread.

O'BRIEN: I want to throw you a question about how folks feel back here at home. Forty-seven percent say U.S. action in Iraq was the right thing to do. But compare that with what folks said last month. It's dropped more than 10 percent, 11 percent in a month. Read into that.

SCHNEIDER: Doubts are spreading. And now it's less than a majority who say we did the right thing in getting involved in Iraq.

Americans are beginning to lose confidence in this mission. Right now, they're divided over whether we did the right thing or not, because they see what's happening in Iraq, they read these polls that we're not welcome there, that the Iraqis say thank you and get out, and the Americans say, OK, goodbye.

They're not ready to say goodbye. They're divided at the moment, but they are losing confidence in the mission. And that's a very dangerous sign for this White House. O'BRIEN: Certainly as the violence continues, you can't imagine that those numbers are going to go up. They're probably only going to go down. Bill Schneider for us this morning. Nice to see you, Bill. Thanks a lot.

SCHNEIDER: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: We should mention that folks can read all the Iraqi poll results on our Web site, which is cnn.com.

HEMMER: In a moment here, something you won't see again after today: a brand new Oldsmobile. The end of an era of an American classic. Back with Andy on that.

O'BRIEN: Plus, a different image for Prince. Has he lost his wild side? Our "90-Second Pop" panel will weigh in on that. And another American idol gets the old boot. We'll show you who.

Stay with us. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. It's time for a little slice of life that we like to call "90-Second Pop."

Joining us this morning, Sarah Bernard. She's New York Magazine's contributing editor. Also, humorist Andy Borowitz. He has written what we like to call the definitive work on "Governor Arnold." And Jessica Shaw from Entertainment Weekly joins us.

Nice to see you, Jessica. Welcome, everybody. Let's get right into it. Before we get to Prince, who just looks fantastic and sounds great.

SARA BERNARD, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: What's his beauty secret?

O'BRIEN: You're scaring me.

Let's talk about this "20/20" show. They've got a show called "Be My Baby." It airs on Friday.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: ... controversy about it. Well, the show is actually about five couples vying for the son of a 16-year-old girl from Ohio. Now, the promo that's been airing about it is posing that the show is kind of like a competition, like a reality show.

O'BRIEN: I'm going to stop you there so we can watch the promo.

BERNARD: Oh, OK.

O'BRIEN: So everyone can get a sense of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFED MALE: An emotional television event. One teenage mother making the most important decision of her young life, choosing adoptive parents for her baby from these five couples. It's an adoption unlike any you've ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD: Wow.

O'BRIEN: It's like they made it a reality show.

ANDY BOROWITZ, HUMORIST: Well, at least they're not exploiting it, though.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: There are some topics that probably should not be reality show driven. I mean, you know...

O'BRIEN: But it's not a reality show.

BERNARD: I don't think it's actually set up like contestant number one, two, three, but it's such an emotional, intense process. And the fact that they're sort of following people as they're fingers are crossed, hoping to get this baby, it's a little upsetting.

JESSICA SHAW, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I mean, that's what the promo looked like. They want to sell it like it is a reality show. I mean, I was watching and I was thinking, my god, they're going to be like eating worms or...

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: I think it might be the way that they cut the promo. And hopefully on Friday it's more of a journalistic piece on adoption. But we shall see.

(CROSSTALK)

BOROWITZ: I was wondering, though, when this kid gets adopted and then grows up and the parents are someday showing the photo album, how do they explain who Barbara Walters is? That's what I want to know. That could be very traumatic, it seems to me.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about "American Idol." There was -- Elton John claiming racism when Jennifer Hudson was ousted. So this week it was John Stevens.

SHAW: Who couldn't be more white, so...

O'BRIEN: Not racist?

SHAW: Well, much to the elation of Simon Cowell, John Stevens got voted off this week.

O'BRIEN: Was he bad? SHAW: Well, he wasn't so good with the singing thing, which doesn't help.

O'BRIEN: That's a problem.

SHAW: Right. Last week, Jennifer Hudson got voted off, and that just caused a huge scandal in the "Idol" world.

O'BRIEN: Huge rating -- or voting, I should say. They said some massive number of people actually voted.

BOROWITZ: You know, and the positive thing, there was a consolation prize. John gets a shot at adopting the baby. That's really nice.

BERNARD: I was worried about Fantasia, because she is my favorite. And she had dedicated her song to Jennifer, who got voted off.

O'BRIEN: What a great name.

SHAW: It was a little bit too much pandering. Like I want Jennifer's vote.

BERNARD: I thought there was going to be a backlash against Fantasia.

O'BRIEN: Too much pandering on "American Idol." I'm appalled.

BERNARD: But don't you think she should win for her name alone?

SHAW: Absolutely.

BOROWITZ: Fantasia?

O'BRIEN: As a gal named Soledad, Fantasia, I'm loving it.

MTV, MTV II, BET, VH1, VH1 Classic all carried Prince. Let's roll some Prince just for the heck of it.

BOROWITZ: All right. Why not.

O'BRIEN: There we go. I love prince. And there was a time when you really couldn't listen to his albums with your parents in the room because there is like, honestly, simulated sex and lots of stuff like that that are hard to explain to parents.

BERNARD: This is the new Prince.

BOROWITZ: Right. I actually think the FCC should now fine Prince for not having enough sex. I think there's like insufficient sex.

O'BRIEN: Was it boring?

BOROWITZ: Well, no. I mean, it's just he was everywhere last night. It was like MTV, VH1. I think I saw it on the Food Network. It was like a Bush campaign ad. It was everywhere.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: But what's great about him is hopefully a whole new generation. We were just saying that maybe Andy's daughter is going to get into Prince.

SHAW: Really? How funny.

BERNARD: But he's a Jehovah's witness now.

BOROWITZ: Right. He came to my door last night. That shocked me.

BERNARD: So he's cleaning up his act, he's rewriting some of his lyrics to...

SHAW: A lot of the scandalous lyrics, a lot of the sex lyrics, out of there.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. We have time to talk about "People's" 50 most beautiful people. I didn't make the list this year, so...

BOROWITZ: Forget about you, Soledad. I really feel for the tenth year in a row, Jack Cafferty was robbed.

O'BRIEN: I'm appalled. On behalf of AMERICAN MORNING, we are shocked and outraged.

BOROWTIZ: Right. But this is a very influential thing...

O'BRIEN: Who is on the cover?

SHAW: Jennifer Anniston. You know, they really went out on a limb.

BOROWITZ: Thinking outside the box.

SHAW: I think Jude law. I mean, who thinks he's beautiful?

BERNARD: I think they should have done the worst looking, because that's always more fun. The worst dressed and worst looking.

O'BRIEN: You scare me so much. The worst? Could you imagine, "Oh, I made 'People Magazine' 50 ugliest."

BOROWITZ: This issue is very important to careers, though. Not so much the people, but the plastic surgeons who work on them. Very, very important.

BERNARD: That's true, because people take the issue in and they say, I want to look like this.

BOROWITZ: Right. After I'm adopted by Barbara Walters, I want that face.

O'BRIEN: She's not doing the adoption.

BOROWITZ: Oh, perhaps I've distorted the facts somewhat.

O'BRIEN: Oh, whatever. Sarah and Andy and Jessica, thanks for being with us. Jessica, thanks for being with us. It's nice to have you guy, as always.

Bill?

HEMMER: All right, Soledad.

In a moment here, have you always wanted a brand new Oldsmobile? Your time is running out. Andy explains. Back in a moment after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: All right. Welcome back. The markets are open and the end of all the road for the Oldsmobile. Where is my Cutlass? Andy Serwer has those stories, "Minding Your Business" here.

First, to the markets. Better than yesterday?

ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: No. Dude, where is my car? Is that where you're going?

HEMMER: Dude, where is my Cutlass?

SERWER: Listen, digestion, or maybe indigestion going on, on Wall Street this morning. The Dow is down 13 points. Why? Well, we got a GDP report, the economy growing 4.2 percent in the first quarter. A little bit worse than expected.

However, even worse than that is a number out this morning indicating inflation is picking up. Jobless claims looking pretty good.

AOL-Time Warner, oops, Time Warner again. That stock is up sharply this morning. Time to cash in those option, fellow employees, maybe.

GM active this morning. It had a good quarter, $67 billion of sales in the first quarter. That's how big that company is. It's a big company.

Speaking of big companies, General Motors rolling out the last Oldsmobile. Lansing, Michigan, 107 years ago, the first Olds rolled off the line there, and the last one will roll off in the same city today. GM obviously cutting back on its lines. This one just not making the grade, and, of course, the '88, the Tornado, the Cutlass.

HEMMER: The Supreme.

SERWER: Yes. You remember some of those great old cars. First company to have chrome bumpers as well. And what's interesting to me is, you know the expression "Not your father's Oldsmobile," I guess 10 years from now kids won't know what that means, which is really kind of sad.

(CROSSTALK)

SERWER: I was saying that, you know, you kids sound like a broken record. Kids don't know what that means either. Anyway.

O'BRIEN: A scratched CD.

SERWER: Right, exactly.

HEMMER: Thank you, Andy.

SERWER: All right. You're welcome.

CAFFERTY: Delta 88, remember those?

SERWER: Yes, sweet. Loved them. Had one.

CAFFERTY: All morning we've been asking when is the right time for U.S. troops to leave Iraq. Tough question, a lot of interesting questions.

Laura in Springfield, Missouri, "My husband is a Marine. He's currently stationed in Iraq. I miss him every day. However, I know that there's a job to be done there and my husband is doing it. They will come home when the foundation of freedom is finished being poured."

Not bad.

Rob writes this: "As much as I oppose this war, as much as I believe that Bush should lose his job due to the mishandling of the situation, as much as the Iraq may want us to leave, we must stay until the country is stable. Anything less would put this country and the world in even more danger and be an insult to the 700-plus men and women in uniform who have already lost their lives."

And finally, David in Illinois, "Iraqis want us out, so let's make it easy. Take Saddam out of prison, clean him up, and as we leave the country, give him the keys to the palace. Let's see if they'd like that any better."

Put him back in charge. Thank you for your...

SERWER: No easy answers.

CAFFERTY: No.

HEMMER: That's right. And good reaction today, too.

O'BRIEN: Yes, really.

HEMMER: As always. CAFFERTY: A debate that's only going to get louder, you know?

HEMMER: That's right.

CAFFERTY: That's what we do. We turn these problems over to the audience every day and let them handle it. And most days they do quite nicely.

O'BRIEN: Better than some other people.

CAFFERTY: I would trust them a lot farther than I trust the people in charge of this stuff.

HEMMER: Easy now.

In a moment here, next on CNN, a former nurse known as the Angel of Death expected to save his own life today. Details next hour. Daryn Kagan on that.

We are back in a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Hey, it's Thursday. That means one thing.

SERWER: We've got to go?

HEMMER: Yes. We have to run, too, at 9:58 here in New York.

Great to have you with us today. We'll start again tomorrow at 7:00 Eastern Time.


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