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AMERICAN MORNING

Nearly 500 Inmates Being Freed from Abu Ghraib Today; Spain Bombing Case

Aired May 21, 2004 - 07:30   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. Just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.
"The Washington Post" publishing today more photos of apparent abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. In a few minutes, we'll find out what the reaction is among Iraqis. Harris Whitbeck is working that story for us this morning out of Baghdad.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Also in this country, an American held in detention for two weeks in connection with the Madrid train bombings is now free. Were mistakes made? And why did the FBI pick him up in the first place? We'll get to that report in a moment. Also, what the man plans to do in a moment from the Pacific Northwest.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's get right to our top stories.

First this morning, though, a new terror warning from the FBI. The bureau issuing a bulletin for law enforcement agencies to be on alert for possible suicide bombings. The FBI says to look out for signs such as people wearing bulky clothing in warm weather, but the bureau says there is no hard intelligence indicating terrorist plans to strike the U.S.

After a week of deadly clashes in southern Gaza, Israel says its troops are deploying in the Rafah area. A refugee camp was the scene of ongoing violence this week, which Palestinian sources claim left many Palestinians dead. Israel says the offensive was aimed at targeting militants and closing down tunnels it says are used in smuggling. The Israeli operation had come under international criticism.

House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi is questioning President Bush's competence as a leader. Pelosi is suggesting the administration's policy in Iraq is to blame for the loss of U.S. troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I believe that the president's leadership in the actions taken in Iraq demonstrate an incompetence in terms of knowledge, judgment and experience in making the decisions that would have been necessary to truly accomplish the mission without the deaths to our troops and the cost to our taxpayers.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Republicans are furious with Pelosi's remarks and are demanding that she apologize.

And it was like finding a needle in a haystack. A ring missing for nearly 40 years is found in a lake that was drained in Colorado Springs. The wedding band was lost back in 1965 by a guy who went water skiing. He died 14 years ago, but his widow never forgot about the ring. She called a man with a metal detector who was searching for buried treasure. And sure enough, he found the ring with the couple's engraved initials on it.

That's nice. That's something nice to hang on to.

HEMMER: And that lake water means a little more to them, too.

(WEATHER BREAK)

Meanwhile, the inmate population in the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad is thinning yet again today. Nearly 500 detainees from that facility at the middle of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal are being released throughout the day today.

For details, live to Baghdad. Harris Whitbeck has more now.

Harris, good afternoon there.

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill.

U.S. military officials say that 472 prisoners have been released from Abu Ghraib prison today. They have been bused to the vicinity of their homes. Usually they are given the equivalent of about $25 to help with transportation from where they are dropped off to their actual homes.

Hundreds of women and children waited outside the prison for hours on this Friday, waiting to see if their relatives would be among the released. The detainee population at Abu Ghraib now stands at roughly 3,000. At some point there were up to 6,000 prisoners inside that now notorious prison at Abu Ghraib.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Governing Council is set to gather in an emergency meeting in about an hour's time to discuss yesterday's raid on the headquarters of council member Ahmed Chalabi. The raid was conducted by members of the Iraqi National Police, who were supported by U.S. troops.

And Iraqi judge said that he conducted the raid to target some of Chalabi's associates for their alleged involvement in government fraud, kidnapping and other charges. But Chalabi, as you know yesterday in a press conference, said that he feels that he was targeted because of his continued expressions for independence from U.S. plans for the political handover here in Iraq.

The point is that Chalabi, who was once the darling of powerful members of the government in Washington, seems to have fallen out of favor. Chalabi himself says his relationship with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq is now -- quote -- "nonexistent" -- Bill

HEMMER: Harris, on a different topic, "The Washington Post" publishing more photos today of prisoner abuse; also a videotape they've obtained as well. They've taken small pieces of frames of that videotape. Is there much reaction? Has the Arab media reported on these very pictures also, Harris?

WHITBECK: There hasn't been much reaction yet, Bill, but that is because today is Friday, a day of rest here, and not many newspapers circulate in Iraq. We just saw pictures on Al Jazeera, one of the Arabic television networks, just a little bit under an hour ago. So, we suspect that the pictures haven't circulated very much yet, and that is why there hasn't been any reaction. There was certainly no reaction during many of the Friday prayer services at the mosques -- Bill.

HEMMER: Harris Whitbeck live in Baghdad -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: A 37-year-old Oregon father of three can wake up this morning and look forward to his first full day of freedom in two weeks. Brandon Mayfield had been in custody in connection with the March 11 Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 people and injured some 2,000 more.

Justice correspondent Kelli Arena has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brandon Mayfield, a U.S. citizen and Muslim convert who has been sitting in a Portland detention center for two weeks, is a free man. Just after being released, he joined his lawyers for a brief press conference.

BRANDON MAYFIELD, RELEASED FROM CUSTODY: I just want to say thank God, everybody who was praying for me.

ARENA: Grand jury rules of secrecy stopping Mayfield and his lawyers from saying more at this time, but Mayfield's brother promises the family will not go away silently.

KENT MAYFIELD, BROTHER: I think there's going to be a major review about why they detained him. This obviously proves -- this obviously proves that this was a complete witch hunt, and we are going to follow up as much as I can.

ARENA: U.S. law enforcement officials say Mayfield was taken into custody as a material witness in connection to the March train bombing in Madrid. Those officials say the FBI matched his fingerprint to a print found near the scene on a bag containing explosive materials similar to those used in the attack.

They say agents were conducting surveillance on Mayfield, but a decision was made to detain him when the media got hold of the story and the FBI feared its cover was blown.

STEVE WAX, MAYFIELD'S ATTORNEY: He has maintained at the outset that he has had no involvement in the horrible bombing that occurred in Spain in March, and he's maintained from the outset that he has no knowledge about that.

ARENA: Spanish officials disputed the FBI's findings, telling CNN they did not believe the FBI had a print match. The Spanish now tell CNN they matched the print found near the scene of the bombing to another man, an Algerian, named Ouhnane Daoud.

(on camera): The Justice Department, FBI and prosecutors in Portland all had no comment -- at least not yet.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Mayfield's family claimed he had not been out of the country for over a decade and that, in fact, his passport had expired -- Bill.

HEMMER: About 20 minutes now before the hour. In a moment on AMERICAN MORNING, the parents of that abandoned little girl may have been found, but this is not a happy ending just yet. More on that story yet again today.

O'BRIEN: Also, a phone strike could mean a lot of people have trouble making phone calls over the next few days. Andy Serwer is going to tell us what's going on.

HEMMER: Also, how about the reality show that features wife swapping? It is huge in Britain. It's coming here soon. "90-Second Pop" has a shot at that when we continue right after this on a Friday edition of AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Yes, it's a death trap and a suicide wrap every morning here on AMERICAN MORNING. Time for "90-Second Pop." It's my sincere pleasure to introduce a whole new panel of pundits. Josh Elliott back with us from "SI," "Sports Illustrated." Clarissa Cruz from "Entertainment Weekly." And Joel Stein from "TIME" magazine.

How are you guys doing, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty good.

HEMMER: It's a Friday. Not bad.

CLARISSA CRUZ, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": No.

HEMMER: The Fox network is going to do a whole new deal with their programming.

CRUZ: Yes.

HEMMER: No reruns, all new programming.

CRUZ: Totally.

HEMMER: Do you like the strategy?

CRUZ: Well, they're touting it as this whole revolutionary new thing.

HEMMER: And is it?

CRUZ: Yes, I mean, in a way it is, because, I mean, even though introducing programs in summer isn't anything new, what they are doing is instead of reruns like "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill," they're going to have all new programming in June, like "The Simple Life 2," which we're all excited about, and a sitcom starring Method Man and Red Man, which is another good thing.

HEMMER: Now, all of that goes against conventional wisdom when it comes to programming. This is baptism by fire, right?

CRUZ: Totally, totally. But, you know, they have to compete with all of the cable networks and all of the different things on TV. So...

JOSH ELLIOTT, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": But I also think that they are daring America to prove just how reality-mad we are. If you look, they have the "Simple Life 2" coming out. They have "The Casino" coming out. I think what we've learned over the last year or two are that people are willing to make reality television appointment viewing even if it means coming in a little early from the beach.

HEMMER: And the other thing is it's cheap programming, too. I mean, you don't have to go into rehearsals and trials and figure out what kind of script and what kind of line works for (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CRUZ: That's true.

ELLIOTT: And who among of us did not discover "90210" back in the summer of '92?

CRUZ: I mean, they have scripted programming as well. So, it's not complete reality.

HEMMER: Yes, they do. Well, you know, listen, the reruns in syndication will go much quicker than if this catches on. Folks like TBS and TNT are listening.

(CROSSTALK)

HEMMER: Let's talk about the wife swap show.

CRUZ: Yes.

HEMMER: ABC, right? Reality TV?

CRUZ: Yes, I think it's sort of hit a little bit of a new low. I mean, it sounds a little kinky, but really what it is, it's two families, the mothers and the wives of those families are going to switch places for 10 days. And they have to do the same rules for the first half, you know, the same rules that the original wife did, and the second half they can do whatever they want.

HEMMER: Is this creepy?

CRUZ: Well, apparently they do everything but sleep with the husband.

(CROSSTALK)

ELLIOTT: Is it creepier than "The Swan?" Is it any creepier than "I Want a Famous Face?

HEMMER: True, true.

ELLIOTT: Look, we're at a point now where "Survivor" is venerable programming. OK? It's 60 minutes of reality television. I mean, it's not -- does anything really creep anybody out?

HEMMER: What's kind of intriguing about this, they started it in Britain apparently, and it was all the talk of London. And they did it with an interracial couple, which kind of added more fuel to the water cooler fire.

CRUZ: Definitely. I mean, but, you know, like a lot of things, I mean, "American Idol" was a big hit in England. But then, you know, so was "Couplings," and look how it did here. So, you know, it depends.

JOEL STEIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: This is the most sexist idea, right? Women are just there to do housework, and we're swapping out the maids basically.

CRUZ: Well, they say that men are going -- that they thought about maybe doing men, but, you know, no one really notices when the father is not home.

(CROSSTALK)

HEMMER: Because men work and they are not home. Is that what she said? Yes. I hear there's a hotline set up in southern California because they got so much interest in people who wanted to be on the program.

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: A sitcom pilot on ABC and I lost to wife swap. It just hurts me every day.

HEMMER: You're feeling proud, aren't you?

STEIN: Yes, I think I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HEMMER: Let's talk about the world of sports. Kelly White (ph) is a sprinter and now apparently she is I guess a bit of a turncoat, too. She is saying that she confesses she used steroids and now she's willing to talk. The implications of this story could be huge.

ELLIOTT: Right. Once again, it's Balco. We heard it throughout the year, basically connected to baseball players, but now it turns out that, you know, she had some connection with Balco. She has admitted using steroids, and she said in exchange for a much lesser ban of two years in her case, she's willing to sing.

HEMMER: But she's going to take all the titles she has won over the past four years, right, and turn them back in and sacrifice them.

ELLIOTT: Yes. Yes, to turn them back -- actually she won the 100 and 200 at last year's world championships. But really, this is all about Marion Jones. Now Marion Jones -- in fact, yesterday -- wrote to the USADA, the antidoping agency, and she said, look, I'd like to come in now and discuss my connection to Balco. So now...

STEIN: This is smart for Kelly White, because now she's famous.

ELLIOTT: Absolutely. And she can compete conceivably again.

STEIN: She could have won like five gold medals and we wouldn't know it.

HEMMER: Well, she can't compete in Athens this summer.

ELLIOTT: No.

CRUZ: No.

HEMMER: Which would have been a boon for her had she done well.

ELLIOTT: Not as much of a boon as, you know, getting her name on TV like this.

HEMMER: Well, that's probably true as well.

(CROSSTALK)

HEMMER: But I think -- why?

STEIN: Well, I mean, I don't want to see guys hit, like, 40 home runs again. I want to, you know, go back to the time when no one could break the four-minute mile.

ELLIOTT: You know, it's an interesting point, because the U.S. says it's committed to sending a clean team to Athens. I hope they are also committed to sending a team that probably won't win very many medals.

HEMMER: But listen, ultimately, it depends on who she is willing to rat out, too.

Let's talk about the movies. You were there last night. You saw "Shrek 2?"

Yes, I'm the sucker. HEMMER: Did you like it or no like?

ELLIOTT: You know what? I liked. I liked. I have to admit, I didn't see "Shrek 1," but I was told it wouldn't be a problem, and it turns out it wasn't.

STEIN: Were you able to follow it?

ELLIOTT: Yes, I know. Shockingly enough.

STEIN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they make fun of me often.

HEMMER: I'll bet you do. Does this knock out "Troy," by the way, this weekend, do you think?

CRUZ: Oh, I'm sure.

ELLIOTT: It's got to.

CRUZ: It made $11 million yesterday, which it broke the record that "Pokemon" made.

STEIN: And it would have been 10 million 999.

HEMMER: Now how did they convince you to go? You're just a sucker?

ELLIOTT: Well, they said I would be lost in the discussion had I not, Joel. So, thank you very much. Thank you very much.

HEMMER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We've got to run. We're going to save it for later. Thanks. Have a great weekend, OK? Good to see all three of you.

All right -- Soledad

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning we're going to find out what's going on across the pond from our own Richard Quest.

Good morning -- Richard.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. I'm going to tell you why this veteran piece of furniture is beating the American lounger on the beach, and why some women find shopping as satisfying as sex. AMERICAN MORNING in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everyone.

Phone service to millions could be hit as workers for the nation's second-largest provider go on strike. With that and a look at the market as well, Andy Serwer, "Minding Your Business."

Good morning to you.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Good morning to you.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about SBC first.

SERWER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: How much of an impact do you think that's actually going to have on people who are trying to make phone calls?

SERWER: Well, nothing probably right now. I mean, I think service is going to be fine for about 99.9 percent of people who live in these states, 13 states affected, Soledad, from California to Connecticut, a lot of biggies like Texas, Michigan, Illinois. There you go. And 55 million local lines.

I called down to San Antonio this morning, where SBC is headquartered. Things seem to be OK.

One thing is going to be problematic, though. If you want to get a line installed in your home and you're an SBC customer, forget it. It's probably going to take weeks.

They've got about 100,000 people out on strike. But what's so interesting here is this is a planned strike -- wow, that was loud.

O'BRIEN: That was loud.

SERWER: It's a planned strike, which is a little unusual -- a four-day planned strike. And what that means is that the workers say they don't want to really harm the company. I mean, how much leverage do you have? You're either going to go on strike or don't go on strike. Basically what that says it the union does not have that much leverage. They are concerned about health care costs, benefits and outsourcing for Internet jobs. You know, that new voice over Internet protocol, telephone calls, we've been talking about. All those jobs have been outsourced, or a lot of them have, and they've been down lines. In other words, business not just as big as it used to be.

O'BRIEN: So, the strike is over in four days?

SERWER: Yes. I mean, so what kind of strike is that? I mean, do it on Mother's Day, right? If you're going to strike, hit them where it hurts.

O'BRIEN: Interesting.

SERWER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: all right, let's talk about the market.

SERWER: OK.

O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at what happened yesterday and then a preview of what's going to happen today.

SERWER: Sounds good to me. Yesterday, kind of flat. I mean, in fact, very, very, very flat. Let's look here. Less than one-tenth of one point down on the Dow. You can see here, the S&P up a little bit.

This morning, though, things are looking brighter, because markets overseas are up, and so we have futures higher this morning.

O'BRIEN: Excellent. Andy, thank you very much.

SERWER: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Bill.

HEMMER: Calling Jack Cafferty.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, sir. It's Friday and that means it's time to go over there -- over there being London, where my good friend Richard Quest hangs out. He's kind enough to join this program on Friday mornings.

Richard, having been married twice and raised four daughters, I have personal knowledge of the female species' love of shopping. But even I, your humble columnist had no idea. What's going on?

QUEST: Ten percent of women in a survey in this country said that they found shopping as satisfying as sex, Jack. Apparently...

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: It means they are not doing it right. They're just not doing it right.

QUEST: I'm trying to keep a straight face on this one. Apparently it releases endorphins and chemicals. Women get hot flushes. They start breathing deeply. And they are becoming all peculiar when they're going around the store.

And what is best of all is the survey was done by a shop in Britain called Quick Save, which is a bit like Kmart or Wal-Mart. So, you can see what sort of people are getting their kicks going shopping in this country.

They say at the end of the day, 30 percent of all women -- all women are deeply satisfied by a trip to the store.

CAFFERTY: Yes. Then there's the other end of the spectrum. I would rather go out on Sixth Avenue in New York and lie down and get run over by a cross-town bus than have to go shopping. I absolutely detest it.

Anyway, on to what you sit in when you're going to the beach. I can remember when I was about 8 years old, I think, we had one of these, and that's the last time I ever saw one.

QUEST: They are still very popular in this country, Jack. Never mind those posh loungers. A local councilor tried to get rid of the deck chair. Come with me. I'm going to show you what I'm talking about.

Now this is the contraption we're talking about. It is the deck chair. You will remember from your youth -- Ow!

CAFFERTY: Nice move.

SERWER: I knew that was going to happen.

QUEST: Right. Here we go.

SERWER: It's so convenient.

QUEST: They are. Well, they tried to get rid of these deck chairs from Blackport in northern England, but they are so popular and they are so comfortable that they've decided to keep them instead, because they said American loungers were just too posh for the British seaside resort.

CAFFERTY: Do they serve alcohol at that beach? Because it occurs to me if you've had a couple of little hot toddies while you're on vacation, you'd never get that thing set up.

QUEST: Listen, a combination of going shopping with the wife and then sitting in one of these, it could be an experience indeed.

CAFFERTY: Yes, you just go out in the backyard and shoot yourself.

Richard, it's always a pleasure to see you. We'll look forward to your next visit here on AMERICAN MORNING. My friend, Richard Quest, who is over there.

QUEST: See you next week.

HEMMER: Yes, time to hit the Tiki hut, huh? Thank you, Jack.

In a moment here, there's a new warning from the FBI. It includes some rather peculiar things, telling law enforcement to keep an eye out for today. That's ahead in a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Still to come, more clashes in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf. Was wanted Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr caught in the crossfire? We'll take a closer look at that in just a moment. Stay with us. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com.


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