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Pope, Bush Meet at Vatican

Aired June 4, 2004 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush goes to Vatican City to meet face-to-face with a critic on the war in Iraq, Pope John Paul II.
A new kind of pressure on the administration. After CIA Director George Tenet resigns. Now, intelligence gathering must improve.

And everybody's talking about Smarty Jones, the 3-year-old on the brink of greatness and becoming larger than life on this AMERICAN MORNING.

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's see if we get a Triple Crown winner this year. We'll find out tomorrow out at Belmont.

O'BRIEN: Really.

HEMMER: Good morning, everybody.

Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.

President Bush in Italy today, a critical trip overseas. Earlier, as you may have seen here last hour, he met with the pope in Vatican City. We'll get you caught up on what's happening there and also tell you about the rest, a rather busy schedule today going into the weekend for the president in Europe.

O'BRIEN: Also this morning, the resignation of CIA Director George Tenet still the major story out of Washington, D.C. this morning. Barbara Starr is going to jus in just a few moments talking about some of the intelligence failures. Also, we'll talk to a former director of the CIA and find out if he thinks George Tenet left on his own, as he says, for family reasons, or, if, in fact, he was pushed out.

HEMMER: Also, one of the most important tests of the economy, at least to Americans, 28 minutes away from the jobs numbers. They'll be out. There are political implications here. There are economic implications here and we'll get to it when we get to 8:30 Eastern time here in New York City. Twenty-eight minutes and waiting.

O'BRIEN: That's when those numbers are set to get released.

HEMMER: That's right.

O'BRIEN: Hi, Jack -- good morning.


You know, when these guys fall on their sword, they always say I'm leaving the job to spend more time with my family.

O'BRIEN: That's a great one, isn't it?

CAFFERTY: Nobody ever accepts one of these appointments saying I'm taking the job because I want to spend less time with my family. Just a thought.

Coming up in the Cafferty File, we are indebted to the great state of California for the File stories this morning. Number one, a billion dollars a year in taxpayer money going toward the medical bills of prison inmates. And wait till you hear what some of the stuff is buying, the money, some of the procedures that are being done on the taxpayers' dime for convicts.

And, the first environmentally correct cemetery near San Francisco. Think about it. It's gross.

HEMMER: We will.

Thank you, Jack.

O'BRIEN: All morning.

HEMMER: Already early afternoon in Rome, Italy. President Bush working his way through a tight schedule and high profile events.

Straight away to Dana Bash, who is in a windy, Rome, Italy. We find her there now -- Dana.


Good morning.

And the president, as he moves through Europe, the goal is to convince opponents of the war in Iraq that they should try to help the U.S. now fix the problems in Iraq. And Mr. Bush got some very important help to that end from somebody who has been vocally opposed to the war, and that is, of course, the pope.

The pope, even though his speech was slurred because of his ailing health, he gave what Vatican watchers call a rare live public statement with the president by his side, where he said that the situation in Iraq must now be normalized as quickly as possible with active participation from the international community -- in particular, he said the United Nations -- in order to get Iraqi sovereignty as soon as possible.

Now, as for the president, Bill, his message in private was to be that understands the pope is opposed to war, but that war was necessary at this particular time, particularly to advance the human rights that the pope preaches around the world. And that was a subtle reference in the president's public remarks.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We appreciate the strong symbol of freedom that you have stood for and we recognize the power of freedom to change societies and to change the world.


BASH: And the other thing that the White House was bracing for were some criticisms by the pope of the abuses at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. Nothing public specifically except a reference by the pope to the deplorable events that offend the religious and civic values of people around the world -- back to you, Bill.

HEMMER: Dana Bash live in Rome.

Thanks for that.

The president, 36 hours in Italy. Then he goes to France tomorrow, on Saturday. He'll be at the D-Day ceremonies on Sunday, commemorating 60 years to that date -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Well, Washington is buzzing this morning after CIA Director George Tenet announced that he is resigning, yesterday, the embattled CIA chief said he'll leave his post next month for personal reasons.

But his departure has spurred new debate over who is accountable for intelligence failures.

And Barbara Starr is live for us at the Pentagon this morning -- Barbara, good morning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.

Well, of course, whenever a top government official resigns, the questions begin -- what really happened?


STARR (voice-over): Washington began buzzing as soon as CIA Director George Tenet resigned. Was he being held accountable for intelligence failures ranging from 9/11 to Iraq? Officially, the resignation was Tenet's idea. But many immediately looked for indications that Tenet, and perhaps others, were finally being taken to task.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: If Mr. Tenet thinks there should be a change of leadership at the CIA, for whatever reason, including, you know, taking it -- taking one for the administration, then so be it. But I think that the responsibility goes far beyond George Tenet.

STARR: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also is facing questions of accountability; in his case, for the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal and the war itself.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: Mr. Rumsfeld, because of his actions and his statements and his policies during his tenure as secretary of defense, is ultimately responsibility.

STARR: Holding senior leaders accountable is rooted in deep tradition.

JAMES WEBB, FORMER NAVY SECRETARY: There's an old saying in the military that you can delegate authority, but you can't delegate responsibility. And it's -- so, as a result, you are, in a technical sense, traditionally responsible for everything that goes on under your command.

STARR: Early on, Rumsfeld drew his own line in the sand and it appears to be working.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Needless to say, if I felt I could not be effective, I'd resign in a minute. I would not resign simply because people try to make a political issue out of it.

STARR: Even the "Military Times" newspaper, which called for Rumsfeld to go, thinks his job is safe for now, after President Bush's strong endorsement.



STARR: And, of course, it was Harry Truman that said, "The buck stops here." But in Washington, it is, indeed, often a question of effectiveness on the job. Perhaps that ran out for George Tenet, many people believe, and now the question may be will Don Rumsfeld be next -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon this morning.

Barbara, thanks.

Well, some in Washington, D.C. think that actually George Tenet was forced to quit and that he will be blamed for intelligence failures at the CIA.

In Washington this morning is former CIA director under President Jimmy Carter, Admiral Stansfield Turner.

Nice to see you, Admiral.

Thanks for being with us.


O'BRIEN: Good morning to you.

As you have heard in the last 24 hours, we heard George Tenet say that this is clearly, absolutely, 100 percent all about his family.

Let me play for you just a small piece of what he said.


GEORGE TENET, CIA DIRECTOR: This is the most difficult decision I've ever had to make and while Washington and the media will put many different faces on the decision, it was a personal decision and had only one basis in fact -- the well-being of my wonderful family. Nothing more and nothing less.


O'BRIEN: What face do you put on George Tenet's decision to leave? Do you believe him that basically it's all about his family, that was the only thing that played a role in this decision?

TURNER: I give George Tenet a lot of credit for being a very loyal and a very determined and dedicated public servant. I don't think he would jump ship on the president in the middle of an election campaign.

In addition, yesterday he said he would stay on for another 37 days. If he stayed another 100 days past that, he'd be past the election and not raise any questions for the president.

So I think it's unlikely that his sense of loyalty would have led him to leave at this time.

O'BRIEN: So if you're saying that he didn't jump ship, then he was pushed.

Who pushed him?

TURNER: Oh, I think the only person who could possibly push him would be the president himself. I think the president has recognized how unhappy the American public are in general with the way things have gone in Iraq and he's got to offer some kind of an explanation and some kind of a compensation here and Tenet's head was the one that he chose.

O'BRIEN: There are several reports that are due out soon, relatively soon -- the 9/11 Commission has got a report, the Senate Intelligence Commission has a report, as you, sir, the Committee has reported, as you well know.

Do you think that this pushing, then, was in anticipation of George Tenet essentially being the fall guy for these -- the end results of these reports?

TURNER: Yes. I think so. I don't think George Tenet would have resigned in order to avoid being in office when the reports came out. I think he might like to have been there to defend himself. But I do think they played a role here.

O'BRIEN: But then why the timing now? I mean people have been calling, frankly, for George Tenet's head for a long time, before 9/11, well, you know, after 9/11, and subsequently in times after 9/11.

So explain the timing to me.

TURNER: Well, the president has up until now really not acknowledged that we made any mistakes in Iraq. It's becoming so clear that we did and the public is so persuaded of that, that I think this is his first effort to say well, yes, maybe there were some mistakes, but they were made by my subordinates, like Tenet.

O'BRIEN: John Kerry said that he thinks that this debate now over who should be running the CIA is good, because maybe the structure of the entire intelligence community will change.

Do you think the structure of the intelligence community should change and what should it look like?

TURNER: Oh, it absolutely should change and the issue is whether the director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet today, should be given more authority to make the 15 intelligence agencies we have in this country cooperate and work together better. George Tenet is in command of a $35 billion intelligence operation with these 15 semiautonomous agencies, but he's not really the CEO. He doesn't have the authority to hire and fire the chiefs of them, to set their budgets, to give them priorities, to force them to cooperate with each other.

We've got to change that. The Defense Department, quite properly, controlled most of intelligence during the cold war, when the threat to our country was a military threat. Today, the threat has moved to a threat of terrorism, and we need to move the control of intelligence to the national perspective, which is that of the director of Central Intelligence.

O'BRIEN: In two seconds, sir, who's your number one prediction of who takes over?

TURNER: Well, I think Peter Goss, if the Republicans continue to hold the presidency.

O'BRIEN: Interesting.

Admiral Turner, thanks for being with us this morning.

TURNER: Surely.

O'BRIEN: It's nice to see you, sir.

Appreciate it.

TURNER: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Bill.

HEMMER: Twelve minutes past the hour. The FBI has started investigating which department officials in the Defense Department might have told Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi that the U.S. had broken an Iranian code.

Chalabi denies all that information, giving it to Iran. He claims the allegations against him came from the outgoing CIA director, George Tenet.


AHMED CHALABI, IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS LEADER: And George Tenet was behind the charges against me, that claim that I gave intelligence information to Iran. I denied these charges and I deny them again, and I'm sorry that we will not have the chance to appear before Congress now to decide whether this information that he provided is correct or not.


HEMMER: That was in Baghdad. Meanwhile, Chalabi's lawyers here in this country doing the talking for him.

Earlier today, I talked with Chalabi's U.S. lawyer, John Markum, out of Massachusetts, asking him if his client is the target of any investigations at this point.


JOHN MARKHAM, AHMAD CHALABI ATTORNEY: Nobody from the government has notified me about anything, despite the fact that I and the other lawyer involved, Collette Goodman, have sent them two letters over the past three weeks offering to sit down and tell them anything we know, asking them to stop this torrent of leaks in the press about this supposed bad deed that somebody did. No one's contacted me.

HEMMER: What about the issue about Iran, telling officials in Tehran that the U.S. had cracked its own secret code? Is that true?

MARKHAM: I don't know whether somebody from the Department of Defense leaked that information, but Dr. Chalabi has repeatedly denied that he ever learned that, much less that he passed it on.

HEMMER: You're saying that...

MARKHAM: It's a terrible thing...

HEMMER: You're saying that's not true...

MARKHAM: It's a terrible thing.

HEMMER: ... essentially, right?

MARKHAM: Oh, he's denied it. He said -- well, somebody could have done it. That doesn't mean that it was Dr. Chalabi. Dr. Chalabi has said that he never learned about any code cracking and he said that he never passed on any such information to the Iranian people. HEMMER: Here is part of your letter to the attorney general and also the FBI director on the screen for our viewers. Quoting now: "Those responsible for these leaks, we submit, are the same individuals within the U.S. government who have undermined the president's policies in Iraq and are using Dr. Chalabi as a scapegoat for their own failures that have cost this country dearly in the past year in Iraq."

What do you mean by scapegoat? And by whom?

MARKHAM: Well, it's no secret that the Central Intelligence Agency has for years had it in for Dr. Chalabi. They've had their disagreements in the past. Dr. Chalabi exposed some of the CIA activities in arranging secret funding for Iraq when this country was tilting in favor of Iraq against Iran during the war. They didn't like the fact that he exposed that. They've been after him. They've leaked a whole lot of stories about him.

And when the weapons of mass destruction were not found, all of a sudden our massive intelligence agency leaked that this was Dr. Chalabi's fault, that somehow the United States got all of its resources together and went to war because some math professor turned banker told them to go and find weapons of mass destruction.

So there's reason to think that he's being scapegoated here by the same people who have put in false rumors in the press about him in the past.

HEMMER: What is the extent of his involvement with Tehran?

MARKHAM: I understand from reading in the press that Dr. Chalabi does know some people in Iran and he has said publicly that Iraq and Iran must try to formulate good relations because they share a border, and that, yes, he does have contact with people in Iran. Which, by the way, doesn't make him any different from the government of the United States. We have contact with Iran.

So the fact that he has contact with Iran means absolutely nothing.


HEMMER: John Markham, the U.S. attorney for Ahmad Chalabi, earlier today.

Chalabi was not named to the new interim government announced in Baghdad earlier this week -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: We want to show you some pictures of President Bush. As we mentioned, he is in Italy. We saw pictures of him earlier with Pope John Paul II, where he gave the pope the Medal of Freedom. Right now he is -- and these are live pictures -- he is laying a wreath in the memorial to victims of a massacre by Nazis at the Ardeatine Caves, or Fasces Ardeatine. And as many people well know, Rome strongly backs the president's war on terror, even though the pope, who really just half an hour ago or so, gently chided the president and gave his perspective on the war in Iraq to the president.

So we're looking at live pictures of the next step in President Bush's travels through Rome. He has much more to do. Thirty-six hours he'll spend in Rome and then he heads off to France.

Time to check in on the weather.

Of course, we should mention that we're going to continue to update people on the president's trip.


O'BRIEN: And it is now just about 18 minutes past the hour.

It's time for a look at some of the other stories that are making news today.

Heidi Collins joins us with that -- good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, guys.

HEMMER: Good morning.

COLLINS: Thanks so much and good morning to you, everybody.

In Iraq now, insurgents target a U.S. military Humvee. The explosion occurring, injuring, that is, four American soldiers. Meanwhile, militiamen are firing rocket propelled grenades at U.S. troops in the holy city of Najaf. Renewed violence comes amid peace talks with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

With the focus on U.S. intelligence, FBI Director Robert Mueller is rejecting calls for a new homeland intelligence agency. Mueller told law makers yesterday that a new agency would duplicate much of what the FBI already does and make it tougher to fight terrorism. He's proposing instead to create a new intelligence service within the FBI, and not a separate entity.

Prosecutors in Scott Peterson's double murder trial worked on establishing his wife Laci's time of death. Also, Laci Peterson's stepsister, Amy Rocha, testified how friends and family swarmed to Laci's home the night she vanished. She went on to say Scott Peterson behaved panicked that evening.

The trial resumes on Monday.

Former President Bill Clinton launching his book tour. In Chicago last night, the former president told a crowd his upcoming memoir focuses on his life and is also a book about policy. "My Life" will be in bookstores June 22.

And a new national spelling champ has been crowned. But before he took the top prize, the runner-up had a slight fainting spell on stage. Look at this little guy. Through all of this, though, he got the word right. After he collected himself and stood back up, he spelled that word right. But Indiana teenager David Tidmarsh is now the National Spelling Bee champ by correctly spelling -- bear with me -- alopecoid. Maybe that might be it. And the winner joins us live to talk about his victory -- and maybe to tell me how to pronounce it -- in about an hour or so. That will happen right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

HEMMER: And what's the definition?


HEMMER: And the derivative? The language of origin, we need that.

COLLINS: Yes, we do need that.

HEMMER: I've got no clue.

O'BRIEN: I don't have the slightest idea either.


O'BRIEN: You know what was interesting --

COLLINS: We're working on that.

O'BRIEN: ... about seeing that kid who fainted? Did you see, all these other kids who were behind him like this?


O'BRIEN: You know, they didn't move.

COLLINS: I thought I saw somebody down there taking pictures after he fell, too.


COLLINS: I hope I was wrong about that.

O'BRIEN: A budding journalist maybe.


COLLINS: Right. Well, yes, exactly.

O'BRIEN: A little scary.

All right, Heidi, thanks.

COLLINS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Hi -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Good morning.

There were five beaches, not three, D-Day.

O'BRIEN: Oh, you see, we messed that up.

CAFFERTY: No, they -- well, the viewers corrected us on that. Five.

HEMMER: As they often do.

CAFFERTY: As they often do.

O'BRIEN: What were they?

CAFFERTY: And we appreciate that. Gold, Utah, Omaha, Juneau...

HEMMER: Juneau...

O'BRIEN: Normandy...



HEMMER: It was the cliff, right?

CAFFERTY: I can't remember.

In Arkansas -- we know where this one is -- the schools are telling parents if their kids are fat, like, you know, the parents couldn't look at the kid and say you're fat. The schools have sent home a note now saying, "Dr. Mr. Jones, your kid is fat." There's a law that requires the schools to measure the kids' height and weight and then calculate their body mass index.

The results are disturbing. Forty percent of Arkansas students are fatter than they should be. The schools also send recommendations home to the parents to, you know, change the diet, consult with a pediatrician, limit soda, stop watching TV, you know, the usual stuff. But are these weight report cards a good idea is the Question of the Day this morning.

David in Parsons, Kansas writes: "Weight report cards are not a good idea. Emphasize physical education, get away from the video games and get sugared sodas out of the schools."

Deborah, who's a school health coordinator in Bonifay, Florida writes this: "Florida also requires nurses to send home a note to parents of children that are fat. Due to the fact that the U.S. is having an obesity crisis, this is now required to come from the state level. Yes, parents get angry about it. We also have to notify parents if their child is underweight."

Dan in Seattle: "This is horrible. I know kids that eat right, are physically active, but through genetics are heavy for their age. Should we single out the heavy child for a weight to height ratio that they will probably grow out of? Don't you think they know they're heavy?"

And David in Sanford, Florida: "Every parent thinks their child is an angel. Parents can look at their dangerously obese child and somehow think he's just husky or a little chubby. Someone needs to set them straight. Why shouldn't it be the school, as part of a P.E. health curriculum?" this morning.

HEMMER: Our trusty friend Shane over there, the Yankee lover?


HEMMER: The fifth beach is Sword.

CAFFERTY: Sword Beach. OK.

HEMMER: And now we know.

O'BRIEN: Interesting feedback. I sort of, you know, I guess on that you can really go either way. Because, on the one hand, you're right, the kids, if they look heavy, they look, you know...

CAFFERTY: Well, the schools don't have P.E. anymore. The schools serve pizza in the lunchrooms. The schools have soda machines in the halls.

HEMMER: And contracts...

CAFFERTY: Why don't they address that stuff before they start worrying about hiring more bureaucrats to do studies of people's weight body index.

O'BRIEN: But maybe it could be part of the whole thing. It could be part of a whole (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

CAFFERTY: I mean why don't we just correct the stuff that's easy, like getting the soda machines the hell out of the hall? I mean we can start there. And maybe go outside and run for an hour every day and do a few pushups.

O'BRIEN: How do you really feel about it, Jack?

CAFFERTY: Well, I mean it's just stupid, you know? This is just stupid. I mean there's a way to address this stuff and this isn't it.

O'BRIEN: Hmmm. Thank you.

CAFFERTY: Anything else you want to know?


HEMMER: That's it.

O'BRIEN: But don't let that color any of the e-mail that comes into Jack Cafferty this morning.

CAFFERTY: God, you know --

HEMMER: In a moment...

CAFFERTY: ... it's just a bit mind boggling.

HEMMER: In a moment here, we often report on the gender gap when it comes to income. In a moment, where you can find equality. We'll have that for you.

O'BRIEN: Also ahead this morning from the brink of death to the brink of history -- why the smart money at Belmont is on a horse called Smarty Jones.

HEMMER: Also, it's Friday, time for our Give Me A Minute panel -- George Tenet, Ahmad Chalabi and John Kerry on the U.S. military.

Still to come on this AMERICAN MORNING.


HEMMER: Welcome back, everybody.

He won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and the horse named Smarty Jones now just a mile and a half away from a legendary run. A victory tomorrow in the Belmont would make him racing's Triple Crown winner, the first one in 26 years. Affirmed, 1978, the last winner. The horse has captured the public's attention, a true hero, back in Philadelphia. The student body of one local high school brought out a giant good luck card to Smarty. They spelled it out in a field right near the school there.

Can Smarty Jones do it?

Track side today is Josie Burke -- good morning to Josie out at Belmont.

Good morning.


Can Smarty Jones do it? Well, a lot of people believe that he can and a lot of people really want him to. And that's because as you mentioned, this horse has really captured the country's imagination with his story of triumph over adversity.


BURKE (voice-over): Smarty Jones remarkable race to immortality could just as easily have been a journey to nowhere. Last summer, he came face-to-face with death after hitting his head during a training accident in a starting gate.

JOHN SERVIS, SMARTY JONES TRAINER: He just lunged out over top of the front doors, you know, saw that daylight, I guess, and he decided he wanted to get out of there and hit his head on the iron bar across the top of the gate. And it tore his head up pretty good.

BURKE: It was the horse's turn to experience the pain that lived all around him. Smarty Jones' original trainer was murdered in 2001. Afterward, his owners, Pat and Roy Chapman, nearly got out of the business entirely. Today, Roy gets around the track in a wheelchair supported by oxygen, weakened by emphysema.

SERVIS: He's obviously wanted to be at the barn a lot more and he wanted to spend a lot more time with the horse. You know, when you get a horse like this, you want to try to spend as much time as you can with him, and he hasn't been able to do that.

BURKE: On race day, Smarty's talent has been handled expertly by 39-year-old jockey Stewart Elliott. Elliott, too, could just as easily have been elsewhere today. He's battled a weight problem and alcoholism. He's had run-ins with the law. Now, Elliott is a key part of the team that is against all logic at the top of the horse racing world.

STEWART ELLIOTT, SMARTY JONES JOCKEY: There's nothing to hide. Everybody's asked all the questions. I've told them everything they want to know.

SERVIS: There are so many twists to the story and it's gotten everybody involved and nationwide people have fallen in love with my horse.


BURKE: Officials here at Belmont Park believe that crowds in record numbers could turn out tomorrow to show their love for Smarty Jones. They're estimating about 120,000 will be on hand to see his bid for history. And, as you mentioned, Bill, he's a Philly boy. So part of that prediction due to the fact that it's not a very long drive from Philadelphia up 95 here to bmp -- Bill.

HEMMER: Well, some are saying rain, but we know what he did in the Derby and that track was an absolute mess. So we'll see tomorrow.

Thanks, Josie.

Enjoy it.

Josie Burke in Elmont, New York -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, the latest job report due out in just a few moments. We're going to tell you what the outlook is and whether the White House has reason to celebrate today.

Also ahead, the ongoing controversy over anti-depressants. Dr. Sanjay Gupta stops by to tell you what you need to know about their safety.

That's ahead as AMERICAN MORNING continues right after this short break.



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