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Arab TV Shows Photos of Alleged Prisoner Abuse; Narco Pops

Aired April 30, 2004 - 07:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. It is just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.
"Los Angeles Times" reporter Tony Perry joining us again this morning. He is embedded, of course, with the Marines in Fallujah, where a pullback in that city has begun. We're going to hear from him in just a few moments, find out exactly what is happening now.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Also, we mentioned this story about 30 minutes ago. They are known on the streets as perc-a-pops, strong prescription painkillers tasting like berries and consumed like lollipop. Sanjay looks today at how these medications are becoming a problem for police, and there's a connection to America's youth on this story as well.

O'BRIEN: And what is it? It's medication for cancer patients, a painkiller for cancer patients apparently.

HEMMER: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: So, an incredible story.

Let's get to our top stories this morning.

An historic session before the 9/11 Commission being described as somewhat predictable by commission sources. President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney appeared before the 10-member panel for some three hours in the Oval Office yesterday. Sources also said that the president noted that most of the intelligence leading up to 9/11 suggested that al Qaeda was planning attacks on U.S. interests overseas.

The U.S. State department has issued a new worldwide caution for Americans. The State Department says it remains deeply concerned that al Qaeda is planning more deadly attacks in the U.S. and abroad. U.S. citizens are urged to increase their security awareness, but an official said the new caution was not the result of any new threats or intelligence. That is the third issue this year.

A newly-released audio recording claims a terrorist group was targeting Jordanian intelligence headquarters in Amman. The voice claiming to be terror leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. It says his group was planning a bombing, not a chemical attack. The audiotape has not been verified. It appeared days after state television aired what it says are suspects confessing to planned chemical attacks in Jordan. In U.S. politics, Reverend Al Sharpton may speak at July's Democratic National Convention. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says if the reverend wants to do it, he'll be happy to have him. The comments were made during an interview to Black Entertainment Television.

And for the first time ever, some jockeys in the Kentucky Derby may wear advertising logos. The decision was made after a group of riders threatened to boycott the race unless the 1975 ruling preventing any form of promotional wording on uniforms was lifted. A district court sided with the jockeys. In another lawsuit, all of the jockeys got the OK to wear their jockey guild patch. Andy Serwer is going to have more on this story coming up in the next hour.

That's going to be odd.

HEMMER: Yes, I've got to tell you, that's fascinating.

O'BRIEN: Running the Kentucky Derby with...


O'BRIEN: ... Home Depot on the back.

HEMMER: Well, in a way, you wonder why it hasn't been done to this point. You know, horse racing in a lot of ways tries to consider itself a more traditional sport. But then again for the jockeys, it's going to make them more money.

O'BRIEN: A ton of money, right.

HEMMER: Yes, exactly right.


HEMMER: Arab television networks today are showing photographs allegedly showing U.S. soldiers abusing detainees at a prison west of Baghdad. In the pictures, first airing on "60 Minutes" on CBS Wednesday night, include one that apparently shows an Iraqi prisoner standing on a box with his head covered and wires attached to his hands. Half a dozen soldiers involved, we are told, and other U.S. soldiers turned them in.

Reaction to the images now. Live to Baghdad and Ben Wedeman watching this story for us.

Ben -- good afternoon there.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, good afternoon, Bill.

Reaction here is not good at all. Many of the Iraqis I spoke to are saying they are shocked and disgusted by these pictures, and that this is the sort of humiliation and lack of respect for individual dignity and humanity that really gets people's blood boiling here.

Now, reaction has also come, in fact, from the coalition -- well, not from the coalition, but some of the officers within it. One senior officer I spoke with today saying that, of course, if these pictures are, in fact, genuine, he is appalled and disgusted, that the U.S. military prides itself in teaching its soldiers to respect humanity, respect dignity, and this is the contrary of that.

So -- and also the coalition is worried that once this story gets around -- and it hasn't really spread too far quite yet, because newspapers aren't published in Baghdad on Friday and it's not on all of the television stations here. But once it gets around and hits the newsstands tomorrow morning, the coalition could have some problems -- maybe people attacking soldiers in reaction to this story. So a lot of concern, a lot of shock here -- Bill.

HEMMER: Meanwhile today, the events in Fallujah, what do we know right now about the Iraqi generals and the U.S. Marines? Where has that story moved so far today, Ben?

WEDEMAN: Well, Bill, it does appear that the Marines are pulling back from some of their positions around Fallujah. No word yet if the insurgents themselves have agreed to anything, in fact. We do know that some of these generals, who have formed this force of between 600 and 1,000 men, have gone into Fallujah. Their reception, in fact, was very jubilant, because many of the people in this town of 300,000 are tired of what's been going on for the last few weeks. Several hundred have been killed. Several thousands more have fled the city to get away from this.

But given the fact that the insurgents themselves, who number as many as 2,000, haven't agreed to anything. It's not quite clear whether the standoff is actually about to end or it's just entering a new and possibly more volatile stage -- Bill.

HEMMER: And, Ben, while you're talking -- and stay with me within more moment here -- we're seeing videotape from inside the actual city of Fallujah. Based on my own recollection, this is the first time we've seen this type of videotape. We can see a number of buildings collapsed and heavily damaged, interiors and exteriors, at least one building with charred marks on the outside from obvious burn marks, another building here, a home with a number of bullets riddling the outside of it. Ben, what do your sources tell you about the insurgents who may still be in Fallujah or the leaders themselves who may have gotten out before the siege began?

WEDEMAN: Well, there is one story going about that some of the insurgents, in fact, have fled Fallujah to get away from this incoming security force, to flee from what was a fairly punishing U.S. action in and around Fallujah. And some of them have gone to the adjacent town of Ramadi, which is in some respects a lot like Fallujah -- a very sort of Sunni stronghold, where there's a lot of anti-coalition sentiment. And there is good reason to believe that there could be some truth in these stories.

The U.S. military has made it clear for a long time that if it weren't for their concerns about causing civilian casualties, they probably could have put down this rebellion a long time ago. And some would say that the insurgents have taken advantage of that policy, of that position, and fled and possibly, unfortunately, to fight another day -- Bill.

HEMMER: Ben Wedeman, thanks. Live in Baghdad. More on that videotape when we get it. New video in to us just here at CNN, AMERICAN MORNING just a few moments ago.

Now Soledad with more.

O'BRIEN: Well, U.S. Marines in Fallujah say they plan to back from that city and into surrounding rural areas. That decision follows an agreement with former Iraqi generals over security for that besieged city.

Earlier this morning, I spoke with reporter Tony Perry of the "Los Angeles Times." He is in Fallujah embedded with the 1st Marine Division, and I asked him if he's heard any updates on that tentative agreement.


TONY PERRY, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, here on the ground it looks real. The Iraqi generals are meeting with the Marine officers. They're talking about bringing hundreds of troops in, in the next couple of days -- former Iraqi troops or current troops that are in the current army. The Americans are moving to equip them and give them arms, integrate them into the checkpoint operation as a first step. It looks more real than tentative here, although I suppose a plug could be pulled.

The head general met today with one of the Marine colonels, and there were smiles all around, and he said, I am a friend. I'm here to cooperate.

The Marines issued a tentative statement, if you will, about what is going on, and they said one of the first tasks of this new Fallujah brigade will be to make sure that U.S. contractors and engineers, non- governmental agency people, civil affairs people from the military, can get into Fallujah and start the kind of projects that the U.S. has wanted to do here -- water and power and schools and hospitals and roads and business development.

So, from this vantage point on the ground here in Fallujah, it looks like it's moving ahead.

O'BRIEN: Have they given any details on how the exactly soldiers who would serve in this first Fallujah brigade would be recruited? Because isn't it possible that some of the people in the brigade could actually be some of the gunmen the U.S. Marines are fighting against right now?

PERRY: You know, I think that's less likely than you might think. Some of the people involved with organizing this from the Iraqi side are people with access to information about who is who in their own neighborhood. And I don't see that as a large realized fear. These are people who know their own people, and they are going to vet and they are going to eliminate people that they don't want in. It looks as if the troops will be made up of current Iraqi army members, former Iraqi army members and some of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps that the U.S. has been trying to form.

O'BRIEN: What's the majority of the Iraqis saying this plan? I mean, obviously we've heard from the U.S. military. The generals clearly are on board since they've come forward with a plan. But what about the people in Fallujah? What do they think?

PERRY: Well, I don't have a public opinion poll, but my hunch in the few Fallujahans (ph) I've been able to interact with, what they want is peace, and what they want is the insurgents off of their neck. What they also want is a stop to the U.S. bombing at night.

So, they have mixed feelings on what they want. More than anything, I believe, is a city that is no longer torn by fighting each and every day.


O'BRIEN: That's reporter Tony Perry at the "Los Angeles Times." He was speaking to us from Fallujah this morning, where he is embedded with the 1st Marine Division.

HEMMER: And quite clear the damage is extensive in parts of that town, looking at a videotape. I believe that was the bridge, too, over the Euphrates, where those contractors were hung a bit more than a month ago, which really was the moment that set off the siege in that town, yes.


HEMMER: In a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING, intensive efforts for a deal in Najaf, where resistance leader Muqtada al Sadr is still holed up. A report from the scene there in a moment.

O'BRIEN: And Iraq one year later, from the president's triumph to the deadliest month for U.S. troops. A look at that.

HEMMER: Also in a moment here, some teenagers are popping them like candy, but this is no lollipop. A powerful narcotic that could become the street drug of choice. Sanjay reports next here in a moment on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Last week in Pennsylvania, "The Scranton Times" reports that three people were arrested for delivery and possession of lollipops. But these aren't just any lollipop. They're a powerful narcotic used to treat pain in cancer patients, and they are becoming the drug of choice for teenagers in that state.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more on this dangerous trend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's illegal, contains powerful narcotics and tastes like a lollipop. On the streets it's called perc-a-pop, and it's the newest drug to hit Philadelphia.

SGT. JESS FREER, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: This is the first time the narcotics unit has ever come across them.

GUPTA: Perc-a-pop contains fentanyl. That's a painkiller. It comes in the form of a lozenge and is sold under the brand name, Actiq. Manufactured by the drug company Cephalon, it's a legitimate cancer drug prescribed to patients who suck on them to relieve intense pain.

But like too often happens with products like this, the lollipops are being stolen. From where? Police have yet to pinpoint. They are then being sold illegally for $20 each.

The main buyers? Teenagers across northeast Philadelphia.

CNN Philadelphia affiliate WPVI had no trouble finding an 18- year-old familiar with perc-a-pops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They freeze them and they lick them. They get a high off it.

GUPTA: So, they're easy to use, and they taste sweet. Pretty high appeal for kids.

The manufacturer's label does warn Actiq can be harmful, even fatal to children, and can cause injury or death to anyone who is not already using a prescription pain medication. But the people abusing this drug aren't likely to read those labels.

INSP. JOSEPH SULLIVAN, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: They are dangerous, and unfortunately they're getting into the hands of young people.

GUPTA: For now, according to federal government agencies, the problem does seem to be isolated to the Philadelphia area. And nationally, the abuse of fentanyl is relatively low. There were 576 reported incidents of non-medical uses in 2000. That jumped to 1,500 cases in 2002.

(on camera): The drug's manufacturer says, yes, there is always going to be the potential for misuse, but still fentanyl remains an important source for good pain control, even if it does come in the form of a lollipop.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, New York.


O'BRIEN: Fentanyl was first introduced as an intravenous anesthetic called Sublamase (ph) back in the 1960s. Besides being taken orally, it's also dispensed as a trans-dermal patch under the drug name Duragesic -- Bill. HEMMER: Soledad, his wife has a best-selling book -- she has one now, in fact -- of essays by women about women. It's called "The Bitch in the House," and now Cathy Hanauer's husband, Daniel Jones, is out with a follow-up, the home companion. It's called "The Bastard on the Couch." Twenty-seven men try really hard to explain their feelings about love lost, fatherhood and freedom.

Daniel Jones is our guest here on AMERICAN MORNING, the editor of this book.

Good morning to you.


HEMMER: So, are you the man on the couch?

JONES: Those are not my feet, no.

HEMMER: Good answer. I understand you got the title through Jay Leno. How did that come about?

JONES: During the launch week of my wife's book, "The Bitch in the House," Jay made two jokes during his opening monologue. In the second one he said, so, it turns out this book, "The Bitch in the House," is a sequel to that No. 1 best seller, "That Bastard on the Couch." I just started working on the book at that point and stole it.

HEMMER: Gotcha. And it's not your feet just for the record.

JONES: I hope I don't owe him money for that.

HEMMER: That's OK. Listen, the release pushing your book says the time has come for men to speak for themselves. Who was speaking for us before?

JONES: Nobody. On the issues of sort of difficulties in marriage and difficulties of combining sort of work and family, and trying to raise children when both people are working, women talk about these issues all the time. Men simply don't.

HEMMER: Yes, but you say you were concerned about whether or not men were going to open up, whether or not they were going to really lay their feelings on the line.

JONES: Oh, yes.

HEMMER: Were those concerns realized or not?

JONES: They were in some cases, but the main obstacle of the book was my feeling that they might not come through. And I thought, can I really pull this book off? Once I went out there and started looking for men to talk about, you know, what does it feel like to be out-earned by your wife by 20 times, and you're back home, you know, going shopping and taking care of the kids? What does it feel like when your wife is too overworked and busy to sort of want to have sex...


HEMMER: Were men OK with that or not? Or did it vary on the individual?

JONES: They were OK and tried to be sort of good sports about it. They really revealed, you know, to depths that surprised me, and I was so gratified that they were willing to explore.

HEMMER: I heard you say one time, you said, men are in positions of weakness in marriage. Explain that.

JONES: In 70 percent of households, both couples work. In 30 percent of those, the women out-earn the men, and earning is power in relationships. And whoever is earning more, you know, puts the other in a position of weakness sometimes. Men aren't used to being in this position, and they're just starting to grapple with it now.

HEMMER: Yes, with the bigger issues, as you mentioned, fatherhood, sex life, cheating, infidelity, did you find one topic that resonated between the men and the women in terms of commonality?

JONES: What resonates with both men and women is that people don't want to go back to old stereotypes and old role models where the husband goes out and works. Both men and women sort of want to move on to this new egalitarian marriage. Perfecting it and making it work well is really the problem.

HEMMER: When that's the case, that's right.


HEMMER: Listen, thanks for coming in. Who is going to outsell who? You or your wife?

JONES: Oh, we'll see. It all goes to the college fund, so.

HEMMER: Excellent. Daniel Jones, thanks for coming in.

JONES: Thank you very much.

HEMMER: And for the pause there, too, at the end as well. Thanks -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, why one network news show is being pre-empted in some cities. The story one broadcaster does not want you to see. We'll show you right after this on AMERICAN MORNING.


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I invite you to join us for "IN THE MONEY" this coming weekend. Islam may be the world's most misunderstood religion. One minute it's hailed as a tolerant faith, the next it's referred to as utterly violent. Is there a civil war within the community of Islam? We'll talk about that with historian Bernard Lewis (ph). "IN THE MONEY" airs Saturday at 1:00 and Sunday at 3:00, all times Eastern Daylight, and we invite you to join us. Not a bad little exercise.


O'BRIEN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) program, 1:00, 3:00 weekend.

CAFFERTY: Yes. We may have you guys on as guest commentators.

HEMMER: I'd love that.

CAFFERTY: All right.

O'BRIEN: I can just be a groupie and hang out and worship you.

HEMMER: And that show is responsible for the earnings that Time Warner reported.

O'BRIEN: I heard that.

CAFFERTY: Oh, yes, right. It probably brings in 20, 30 cents a week, don't you think?

Anyway, on to the question of the day.

A media company is pre-empting ABC's "Nightline" tonight on seven stations around the country. Ted Koppel is going to read the names of all of the U.S. troops who have died in the war in Iraq. Sinclair Broadcast Group says the "Nightline" program is -- quote -- "Motivated by a political agenda." And several high-ranking officials of Sinclair Broadcast Group gave the maximum donation to the George Bush re-election campaign. ABC says the "Nightline" program seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country.

The question is this: Is the "Nightline" special a tribute or a political statement, or is it a little bit of each? And here is some of what you have written.

Rose in Norwalk, Connecticut: "It seems ABC has decided to open sweeps month with lots of grandstanding. This is the worst kind of show biz, masquerading as a tribute to our fallen servicemen. First, Barbara Walters auctioning off a baby. Then Ted Koppel reading a list of the servicemen killed in the Iraq war. Yuck!"

Sharon in Syracuse, New York: "I believe it's fitting that after the attention given to Pat Tillman's sacrifice, all those who lost their lives in Iraq be acknowledged publicly and with dignity."

And Rick in Trumbull, Connecticut says: "American the free? Boloney. Not when broadcasting magnates join forces with the administration to shape the news. No caskets coming home. No listing of the war dead. No pictures of Iraqi civilian dead. America the propagandas, that's George Bush's America." Getting lots and lots of mail. O'BRIEN: I was going to ask you if you're getting lots of feedback.

CAFFERTY: Yes. I don't know if there's a real simple answer, but the fact that people in those seven cities aren't going to be allowed to make their own decision on whether to watch it, not watch it, like it, dislike it or categorize it as either show business and politics or a legitimate tribute. I thin that's...

HEMMER: In the events after 9/11, "Nightline" did the same thing, too, did they not? Three thousand names broadcast on their program?

CAFFERTY: I think they did.

HEMMER: I think they put it on the jumbotron (ph), too, out in Times Square as well.

CAFFERTY: Yes. That's right, they did, yes.

HEMMER: In a moment here, we'll get out to California. Michael Jackson is back in court today. What difference can his legal team make today? Back in a moment after this.


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