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Military Schedules First Court-Martial Resulting From Prison Abuse Scandal; Some Graduating High School Students Opt to Hold Separate Proms

Aired May 10, 2004 - 08:32   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Also, in just a few moments, we're going to look at some of the desperate steps that some parents take to help a seriously ill child. Dr. Sanjay Gupta's going to join us, talking about having a baby with the purpose of saving your other child's life.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Also, a giant in morning news. You know the voice all too well. NPR's Bob Edwards has a new book out. Until a few weeks ago, he was the host of "Morning Edition," 25 years running. We'll talk to him about changing jobs, and how the fans reacted, and also the man who inspired him.

O'BRIEN: I love him. I'm so excited to see him today.

Let's get right to our top stories, though. First this morning, the U.S. Army has scheduled the first court-martial proceedings for a soldier in connection with the Iraqi prison abuse. Jeremy Sivits is a 24-year-old Reservist from Pennsylvania. He'll face a court-martial set for May 19th in Baghdad.

A U.S. military officials says Sivits is charged with conspiracy, neglect of duty and mistreatment of detainees.

Congress now taking another look at photos of what appear to be U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi inmates. The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to meet tomorrow, four days after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testified before the commission. The meeting comes as some lawmakers call for the secretary's resignation.

In medical news, research showing that men over 50 have high levels of the hormone testosterone may be at a higher risk for prostate cancer. Doctors say some men may want to think twice before starting testosterone replacement therapy. It's being tested in older men to improve general health and vigor.

And prices at pump keep soaring. The average price of gasoline has seen its biggest rise since last August. Prices jumped by more than 10 cents a gallon in the past two weeks.

Andy Serwer is going to join us in just a few moments, have a little bit more on this.

Plus, Hugh Jackman, a huge hit, singing and dancing on Broadway. He proved he could also some kick major butt at the box office this weekend. The monster-hunting adventure called "Van Helsing" brought in over $54 million to take the top spot. The new Olsen Twins new comedy -- they like to really be called Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen -- comedy, which is called "New York Minute," debuted in fourth place today, with just over $6 million bucks.

HEMMER: Van Helsing, $55 million?

O'BRIEN: Fifty hour. That's pretty good.

HEMMER: So much for the critics, eh?

O'BRIEN: Hugh Jackman is in it. Did we mention that? I'd pay 10 bucks for that.


HEMMER: The military says the first court-martial resulting from the prison abuse scandal now scheduled on the 19th of May. Meanwhile, there's word that some Iraqis alerted the U.S. coalition about possible prisoner abuse, months before the release of all those graphic photos.

To Baghdad and Ben Wedeman, who is standing by with more from there.

Good afternoon, Ben.


Those photos of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners were shocking to almost everyone. But the fact that Iraqi prisoners were being mistreated in U.S. prisons here in Iraq was not a surprise to all.


WEDEMAN: Soon after U.S. forces reopened Abu Ghraib prison last summer, Iraqis began to claim abuse of detainees was common. The Red Cross, Amnesty International, local Iraqi human rights groups and activists urged the coalition to investigate those claims.

Last month, Abdel Buset al Torqui (ph) resigned in frustration from his post as Iraq's human rights minister. He tells of meetings with senior coalition officials, including chief administrator Paul Bremer, during which he raised concerns over torture and abuse in American-run prisons in Iraq.

The response? "I believe it was indifference combined with disregard," he told me. "Coalition officials were much more interested in documenting human rights violations under Saddam than in what has happened since," he says.

A confidential report from the Red Cross, leaked to "The Wall Street Journal," indicate the group's concerns over mistreatment go back more than a year, and aren't limited to Abu Ghraib.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The abuses in Abu Ghraib were not individual cases. Unfortunately, this looks more like it was a pattern and it has been recurrent in other places too.

WEDEMAN: Coalition spokesmen insist they were listening all along.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you when these complaints were raised and we looked closely at them, we pursued improvement of the situation, correction of any problems. This is something that's been going on, that everyone has been involved with, for a number of months.

WEDEMAN: Scant satisfaction for those who wait every day outside Abu Ghraib in the heat and dust for news of those inside, or for detainees pictured in those now infamous photos.


WEDEMAN: Now, bill, the consensus among human rights activists here is that the coalition simply was unwilling to consider all those reports and rumors that they were passing to them. But of course, now these human rights activists are telling the coalition, we told you so -- Bill.

HEMMER: Ben Wedeman in Baghdad -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Private First Class Lindy England is one of the soldiers seen in those photos from Abu Ghraib Prison. She's the one here in this photo, in fact, holding a leash attached to a naked man. England been charged in connection with these alleged abuses. And earlier, we spoke with the military attorneys who are representing Private England, and we asked them how Private England has explained to them her appearance in those photos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those photos, many of the photos that you see involving our client, are staged. They're psychological-operation photos. Those were instructed, and the ones that weren't specifically instructed were inferred by the civilian intelligence people who essentially took control.


O'BRIEN: Mr. Rashay (ph) added that it's the Department of Defense and the State Department who must ultimately answer to the controversy. England, who has returned since then from duty in Iraq, is now based at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, and she is reportedly five-months pregnant.

HEMMER: About 23 minutes now before the hour.

For the past few years, some graduating high school students have opted to hold separate proms for blacks and for whites.

And as Eric Philips reports this morning, one south Georgia class has now split into three groups.


ERIC PHILIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): April 24th was prom night for students at Toombs County High School in Lions, Georgia. So was May 7th, and also May 8th. One school, three proms. One predominantly African-American. The second, predominantly white. The last, catering to Hispanic students.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just the way it's always been here.

PHILIPS: Well, almost. For years, people in this rural town in southeast Georgia sponsored two private proms. One drawing a white crowd, the other, mostly black. This year, a third private prom was added for Hispanics. A move some believe to be both positive and negative.

YURI FLORES, JUNIOR TOOMBS COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL: I'm glad because we just have our own, and sad because it has to be this way. It can't be just one together.

PHILIPS: The spark to organize the Hispanic prom was ignited when high school junior Yuri Flores says a member of the committee sponsoring the predominantly white prom made a racist comment.

FLORES: "What part of 'white prom' don't you understand?"

PHILIPS: Prom committee member Ashley Rallins says she's not been able to identify anyone in the group who made that comment. But, she says, three promise is not a bad thing.

ASHLEY RALLINS, JUNIOR, TOOMBS CO. HIGH SCHOOL: It offers us more of an opportunity to experience different atmospheres. If we're all at three separate parties, we have the option to go to all three.

ANNA ROSA PEREZ, JUNIOR, TOOMBS, CO. HIGH SCHOOL: You don't feel right, you know, going somewhere where you don't feel wanted. You can tell when you don't feel wanted.

PHILIPS: The problem is one result of rapidly changing demographics and lines, as Mexican migrant workers harvesting bedelia (ph) onions and other crops are settling here and making it home.

Many believe there are two possible solutions. The first is to have one school-sponsored prom. But the principal says he's under no obligation by the school board to act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have a policy. And until they establish sufficient a policy, I will not get involved.

PHILIPS: Another way the situation could change is if the community came together and sponsored one prom. Students we spoke with say they'd like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's time they should be changed.

PHILIPS: But they say some parents would take issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got them certain people in school whose parents are, you know, racist, and it just wouldn't happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a hidden thing, and it's exposed in times like these.

PHILIPS: Times like these when one night, or in this case, three nights, will create memories that last a lifetime.

Eric Philips, CNN, Lions, Georgia.


HEMMER: We're told all the proms are organized by the students, but not one is sanctioned by the school -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Still to come on AMERICAN MORNING, genetic testing in the womb. A new medical treatment raising a new ethical dilemma. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has that story, just ahead as we continue right after this short break.


O'BRIEN: A new medical treatment is raising some serious ethical questions. It involves genetic testing to ensure that a baby has the right genes to save a sick sibling.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at the CNN Center with more on the technology, and also more, obviously, on the controversy as well.

Sanjay, good morning.


Yes, it's not so much what the procedure is, but what it might become. We explain it here, and introduce you to one family who is touched by it.


GUPTA (voice-over): To look at him prancing around, playing and laughing, you could hardly tell Henry Strongen (ph) Goldberg was sick.

ALLEN GOLDBERG, HENRY'S FATHER: He was the kid with the smile. He was the kid with the sparkle in his eye.

GUPTA: But he was extremely ill. Henry was born with phanconia (ph) anemia. That's a rare blood disorder that prevents bone marrow from generating new blood cells. His best chance for survival, a bone marrow transplant from a genetically compatible sibling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody one with the kind of phanconia anemia that Henry had had ever survived a bone marrow transplant without a sibling donor.

GUPTA: Problem was Henry didn't have one. So the Strongen Goldbergs decided to take drastic action. They did something known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and HLA testing. In other words, they set out to make a baby that would be as closely as possible Henry's perfect genetic match.

Here's how it works: Laurie and Allen underwent in vitro fertilization. Before selecting an embryo for implantation, they had all the fertilized embryos analyzed to choose one that might be a match for Henry, and a possible cure for phanconia anemia. After the implanted embryos reaches term and a baby is born...

LANA RECHITSKY, REPRODUCTIVE GENETIC INST.: Stem cells are collected from cord blood and frozen for the future potential transfer to the sick baby.

GUPTA: The Strongen Goldbergs, who were the first to undergo this procedure, tried PGB nine times,unsuccessfully. They failed to produce an embryo that was a genetic match for Henry. And Henry died at the age of 7.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had run out of time.

But recently, for the first time, five babies were born using this method. One baby stem cells have already been used to save a sibling. Still, the controversy is stinging, and complicated.

Critics question whether this technique could lead to designer babies, with parents selecting one embryo and rejecting others to ensure specific eye color, height, intelligence or even cloning.

DR. KENNETH PRAGER, CHMN. COLUMBIA UNIV. MEDICAL ETHICS CMTE: It has to be made clear, this is not cloning. This is bringing to life a child from a sperm and an egg. It is natural in that respect.

GUPTA: Although it didn't work for them, Henry's family believes conceiving a baby to be a donor is still the best option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What this child would be doing would be saving our family from the tragic loss of a child.


GUPTA: And interestingly, according to a study, Genetics and Policy Center Study from Johns Hopkins, most Americans are comfortable with this. A survey of over 4,000 people, say 61 percent approve of the procedure, 33 percent do not -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Well Sanjay, You've obviously hit on the controversy. But What's the overall cost to the patient to do something like they're trying to do?

GUPTA: It's not cheap at all, Soledad. It costs about $3,000 for the PGD -- that's the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. And then $10,000 for the in vitro fertilization. So $13,000 for every single attempt. It usually takes more than one. The Strongen Goldbergs, who you just met, spent about $135,000 over their nine attempts -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Sanjay Gupta for us this morning. Sanjay, thanks -- Bill.

GUPTA: Thank you.

HEMMER: If you're a fan of National Public Radio, you're likely a fan of Bob Edwards. He hosted NPR's morning edition for nearly 25 years, until signing off last night. Edward's new title is senior correspondent for the show, but truth be told, it's a bit of a come- down from the legend. Ironically, Edward's new assignment coincides with his new book with about another broadcast legend. It's titled "Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcst Journalism." Bob Edwards our guest now here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Great to have you, in person, and not just the voice through the radio.


HEMMER: This is what I really look like, 5'11, yes.

Listen, you refer to Edward Murrow as "Ed" in your book. What did he mean to you?

EDWARDS: He might be the very reason I'm in the business. Growing up in the '50s, he was my role model. He was our very best, and we had him at the very beginning the broadcast journalism.

HEMMER: How would Murrow deal with some issues we're facing today? To take No. 1, the Iraq prisoner situation.

EDWARDS: He's be all over that. But more importantly, he'd have been the one asking the hard questions a year ago, March, before this war began.

HEMMER: What would he say about cases like Laci Peterson, Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant? The list goes on. You're chuckling.

EDWARDS: Well, he wouldn't have anything do with them. He set a very high standard for what was news and how news was covered, and there were no tabloid stories.

HEMMER: Could you make the argument, though, take the O.J. Simpson trial, probably a story that -- would Murrow cover that or not?

EDWARDS: I don't think so.

HEMMER: So if he would not cover it, does the American public learn something, though, through cases like that, learning little bit of insight into our legal system that you would not normally get?

EDWARDS: I think he would have dealt with it the same way NPR dealt with it, which was to ignore the celebrity aspect of it, the tabloid nature of it. But once the decision was rendered, that told us something about America, and that, you know, we have a racial problem still, and I think woe have covered that, as NPR did. HEMMER: How do you think he'd look at 24-hour cable news?

EDWARDS: I think he would expect it to do news, as -- maybe I'm speaking for myself. I thought when we had 24-hour news channels, we would have news 24 hours, instead of getting talk radio on primetime, which I think we have now.

HEMMER: We also think of journalists as objective. After reading your book, I get the impression that Edward R. Murrow was not necessarily injected, but he inserted a lot of opinion into his news and commentary every day.

EDWARDS: It's a little more subjective reporting than we're accustomed to having on radio and television now, that's right.

HEMMER: Would you say he crossed the line?

EDWARDS: I'd say he was trying to determine where the line was and establish that line.

See, remember, he was at the beginning. They were making it up. He was writing on a blank page.

EDWARDS: We recently had you in the headlines stepping away from your program after almost 25 years. NPR says they're trying to increase listenership and change the attitude, et cetera. How did you see that when that decision came down against you?

EDWARDS: Well, it was not my favorite day. But I'm still on the payroll. I'm a senior correspondent, and looking forward to doing a lot of good stories for all the programs.

HEMMER: I know you have obviously tried to get inside of the head of Edward Murrow. How do you think he'd view that change that faces you?

EDWARDS: He -- we are broadcasters. We serve at the pleasure of our bosses, and it's their decision to make. And it comes one day for everyone.

HEMMER: Good luck to you.

EDWARDS: Thank you very much.

HEMMER: Nice to see you in person.

Bob Edwards. It's a long reach over there. Great to see you -- Soledad.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, a former Enron CEO has been ordered to quit drinking and to stay home after midnight. Andy Serwer has a look at that in his business report coming up as AMERICAN MORNING continues.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: A judge orders some tough rules for former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling. Plus the pain continues at the gas pump. There maybe some relief on the way. That and a market preview. Andy Serwer is here "Minding Your Business."

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE": We'll get to the judge -- here come the judge in minute.

Let's talk about higher oil prices. Obviously wreaking havoc around the globe in terms of economies and global markets. Maybe some relief in sight. You can look here. Here's what you're paying at the pump, people; $1.89 for regular across the board in the United States. That's 40 cents higher almost than a year ago.

But Saudi oil minister, Ali al Naimi, Jack, this morning saying that OPEC is going to have to raise production. That should put prices down. He's saying over a million barrels more per day.

The only problem is they're already cheating. They're supposed to be doing 23.5 million. They're already doing 2 million more. But this could psychologically help things out.

CAFFERTY: Isn't a part of this big spike in gas prices also due to the fear of potential problems, sabotage, destruction of the oil fields, pumping stations, et cetera?

SERWER: That's absolutely true. You have some of that and the psychology there. But increasing production should help.

CAFFERTY: All right. Jeff Skilling did that nighttime show here in New York a few weeks ago. What's that going to result in?

SERWER: Well he just appeared before a federal magistrate on Friday down in Houston, Jack. And a judge was not too pleased. Remember when Mr. Skilling did Manhattan in April. All kinds of shenanigans out there late at night.

And now the judge is saying that he was banned from drinking alcohol. He may not consume any alcohol anymore. He now has a curfew between midnight and 6:00 a.m. He's going to have to have drug and alcohol testing. He's going to be treated psychologically and medically, for all this stuff.

CAFFERTY: Why can't they just revoke his bond and throw him in jail until his trial starts?

SERWER: Well because what the said is he should curtail his drinking. And they didn't say he was banned. So technically he didn't violate anything.

CAFFERTY: Why don't they just revoke his bond and -- we did that question already.

Futures looking a little grim out there.

SERWER: We should mention that the Japanese market just getting killed this morning. And this is what happened last week. So -- but futures really, really, really weak this morning. We'll be watching that for you.

CAFFERTY: Selling and gelling. Remember that commercial on the radio?

All right, On to "The Cafferty File." Thinking about a career change? Think about Yard Guards on Duty. For $10 a week, the Yard Guard comes up and cleaned after Fido. The company's motto says it all: "We take crap seriously."

Other slogans used by the self-dubbed entre-manurers include "We're No. 1 at No. 2," "Our business is picking up," and "I do doo." Last but not least, "Got poop?"

When asked about the odor she encounters in her line of work, one employee commented, "I don't mind. It smells like money to me."

Starting "The File" on a high note this Monday, you may notice.

HEMMER: Enjoy your breakfast.

CAFFERTY: Here's a scary thought: 14-year-olds may soon play a part in presidential elections. In fact, your 14-year-old and three of his closest friends could soon cancel out your vote.

Wednesday a bill designed to give kids a say passed the state Senate committee on elections in -- where else -- California. The bill is called "Training Wheels for Citizenship" and would give 14 and 15 year-olds one-fourth of a full vote. Sixteen and 17 year-olds would get one-half of a full vote.

The bill is reaction to statistics that show voter turn-out among those between 18 and 25 as the lowest of any age demographic.

SERWER: They could have half a beer too or something like that.

O'BRIEN: No! Actually.

CAFFERTY: No, they couldn't.


CAFFERTY: With your own -- no, it's not with your own. It's with our own. She's not your's, she's ours. Soledad O'Brien expecting twins in August. We have some suggestions for possible names. Sure to make her kids popular and among the in-crowd when they start school.

For 2003, here are the most popular names for boys. Jacob, Michael and Joshua, in that order. If you look back, 1903, the names were John, William and James. The top three names for girls, Emily is the most commonly used name for eight years straight. The other top names are Emma and Madison. In 1903 it was Mary, Margaret and Helen.

But we've already decided the twins are going to be called "Bill" and "Jack."


O'BRIEN: I will say, my daughter who's in love with Bill Hemmer has named one of the twins -- we call it "the inside the tummy name" -- Billy. Billy and Bobby.

HEMMER: See, I'm in.


O'BRIEN: I'm not sure she always agrees with you on your commentary. That's the issue.


CAFFERTY: You shouldn't let her watch this program.

O'BRIEN: Yes, she e-mails in the question today. Catholic church. Kerry.

HEMMER: She's a great typist, too, by the way. Hits all the keys perfectly.


HEMMER: In a moment here, some congressional Democrats ratcheting up the pressure on Secretary Rumsfeld. The Iraqi prisoner abuse storm continues to swirl. The president is at Pentagon in about an hour and a half today. We'll hear from what a Republican senator has to say on a Monday.

After this, top of the hour, on AMERICAN MORNING.



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