The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!


Return to Transcripts main page


About 5,000 Mourners Being Allowed to Enter Capitol Rotunda Per Hour

Aired June 10, 2004 - 07:00   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. In the same spot where Americans said goodbye to Lincoln and Kennedy, by the thousands they now bid farewell to Ronald Reagan.
Will the media coverage of the funeral help President Bush in the election campaign? The first nationwide poll to try and answer that question is now out.

And Scott Peterson's alibi that he was fishing when his wife disappeared. Did he tell someone else a completely different story? Trial developments on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Bill Hemmer.

HEMMER: Good morning from our nation's capitol here in Washington. It has gone on all night and now at daybreak it continues and will last throughout the day today until about this time tomorrow morning on Friday morning.

I'm Bill Hemmer, live in Washington again today. Thousands of Americans paying their last respects to Ronald Reagan. His body lies in state under the rotunda of the U.S. capitol. Looking toward tomorrow, on Friday, Mr. Reagan's funeral service will be held in the National Cathedral.

President Bush and his father will be among those offering eulogies along with at least 20 other heads of state.

After the funeral it is back to Andrews Air Force Base outside of D.C. where there will be another brief ceremony there in which the former president's body will be placed on board a government plane for that flight back to California.

Mr. Reagan's body then arriving in California late on Friday evening. The Reagan family and invited guests will then attend a private funeral service at the Reagan library before the former president is finally laid to rest.

Again here live in our nation's capitol. We have seen the crowd grow by the thousands just in the past two hours that we have arrived here. Officially they're saying as of about an hour ago, 6:00 local time, that 30,000 have come here to pay their respects and, again, we should see that number increase throughout the day. It's been an amazing week already here in Washington, D.C., and we have a lot more to report here throughout the morning on AMERICAN MORNING.

Back to Soledad, though for the first time this morning in New York. Good morning, Soledad, how are you?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you, Bill. Thank you very much.

Some of the other stories that are making news this morning -- world leaders are down to their final day at the G-8 Summit on Sea Island in Georgia, promoting democracy in the Middle East as the key focus with some nations now pressuring the U.S. on its policy toward Israel.

Also this morning -- just how much danger did Saddam Hussein pose to the U.S. in the days leading up to the war in Iraq?

In just a few moments we'll take a look at the evidence that linked Saddam with Osama bin Laden including some of the most recent discoveries.

And Jack Cafferty with us this morning with the "Question of the Day" -- hello.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Nice to be with you.

What is it that causes people to wait for seven, eight, nine hours in searing heat, high humidity in order for a chance to walk past the coffin of the late president Ronald Reagan?

Tom Brokaw at NBC News said that this outpouring of national grief and respect and love for the former president signifies, in his opinion, a national hunger for authenticity. That love him or hate him, he was the real deal and everybody understood that.

We're going to take a closer look at some of this a bit later.

O'BRIEN: Interesting "Question of the Day." All right, Jack thanks.

And let's go back out to Bill in Washington, D.C. -- Bill.

HEMMER: Hey, Soledad.

Security officials here in D.C. say about 5,000 mourners are being allowed to enter the Capitol rotunda per hour. They expect possibly upwards of 200,000 based on the rough estimates that we've been getting now for the past 24 hours before the reviewing ends tomorrow morning.

Congressional correspondent Ed Henry back with us again today live here with me on Capitol Hill. Ed, good morning. ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill. This state funeral got off to a very scary start when a plane accidentally flew into restricted air space, forcing a quick evacuation of the Capitol, but not even that could overshadow the majesty of this event.


HENRY (voice-over): Ronald Reagan's final trip to Washington was filled with eloquence and reminders about his time in the Capitol City.

His casket arrived at a familiar spot, Andrews Air Force Base, to the strands of a familiar tune. The horse-drawn caisson journey from near the White House to the west front of the Capitol, the very spot where Mr. Reagan was sworn in as president in 1981.

Then the 700-pound casket was lifted into the rotunda of the Capitol, site of Mr. Reagan's second swearing in because of bad weather, where he now lies in state.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This Capitol building is the right place to honor a man who so faithfully defended our freedom and so successfully helped extend the blessings of liberty to millions of people around the world.

HENRY: The thousands of people who lined Constitution Avenue were also paying their respects to the president's First Lady, who cared for her husband during his long battle with Alzheimer's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless you, Nancy.

HENRY: Her influence was seen in the meticulous planning, everything from a 21-gun salute to a 21-jet flyover with a "missing man" formation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was quiet; it was ceremonial. It was regal. It was beautiful.

HENRY: Before escorting Mrs. Reagan to the casket, Vice- President Cheney wished her well.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When these days of ceremony are completed, the nation returns him to you for the final journey to the West. And when he is laid to rest under the Pacific sky, we will be thinking of you as we commend to the All Mighty, the soul of His faithful servant, Ronald Wilson Reagan.


HENRY: Bill, all of the other speakers in that rotunda ceremony saluted Nancy Reagan as well, and the first woman on line last night to file past the coffin told CNN that she was really impressed by the way Nancy Reagan was able to keep herself together not just in this week, but also over the last ten years -- Bill.

HEMMER: Ed, thanks. Ed Henry on Capitol Hill.

A special Army unit is playing a major role in the events surrounding Ronald Reagan's state funeral.

The military district of Washington, otherwise known as MDW, designed just for that purpose. Their soldiers for example are the ones governing President Reagan's casket.

Retired Major General James Jackson is the units' former commander. He retired about a year ago. He's our guest here now in Washington, D.C.

Good morning to you.


HEMMER: You've been watching this quite closely. Tell me as you watch this how much pride do you feel watching your own men take the duties that they are?

JACKSON: Well it's great to see the team come together, because as you know it's a joint organization, so what you've got is representation from all the services, and then of course you've got representation from around the cities and the counties and the states that are participating, too.

So it's a major event that's growing here.

HEMMER: At what point would you have contact with the Reagan family or those involved in this to get ready for this and conduct the planning?

JACKSON: Well, I think the initial contact was made as soon as Mr. Reagan left office. And it's a request to them to ask permission to start the process.

And that occurred and it's continuous through the process because no plan is completed until you execute it, and so in this case, the plan didn't come to fruition until some time this weekend.

HEMMER: The last time someone was lying in state here was 1984, 20 years ago. An unknown soldier from the Vietnam War. What role did Ronald Reagan play that year?

JACKSON: Well, obviously as the president he had a major role, but he also played the part of the next of kin and so he was the one at the gravesite receiving the flag.

HEMMER: We have all seen the images of Nancy Reagan throughout this. Major General Galen Jackman is the man that essentially replaced you, is that right? So had this been a year ago, you would have been that person escorting the former First Lady.

JACKSON: Yes, and it would have been an interesting job and I'm sure he's very involved in what's going on and he's doing much more than what you see him doing on the camera.

HEMMER: He's more than just an escort. What are his other duties?

JACKSON: Well he's actually being fed afterwards -- when he's not on camera -- he's being talked to by his people about what's going on, the schedule, changes that might have to be made based on desires and schedule changes and he's being kept up to speed on the security situation, too.

HEMMER: Yes, I mentioned earlier -- watching quite closely. How are they doing so far?

JACKSON: So far they are looking very good and they're paying the proper respects to a former commander in chief.

HEMMER: Make you proud?

JACKSON: Very much so.

HEMMER: Thank you. James Jackson, Major General, retired here. Appreciate it -- good to see you.

JACKSON: My pleasure.

HEMMER: Thanks for stopping by. Again, we'll continue to watch this throughout the day here, Soledad.

Live in our nation's capitol. 30,000 at this mark but those numbers will increase throughout the day. By the way, about an hour and a half about the subway system started running again and we can anticipate a number of people taking that mode of transportation here.

Also in addition, about a mile from our location RFK Stadium there is an assembly area where a number of people can park their cars, get on buses and take the short trip over here and that is what we have seen also as the sun continues to rise here in our nation's capitol. More in a moment.

O'BRIEN: One expects it's going to be several hundred thousand people out there today paying their respects. All right, Bill, thanks we'll continue obviously to check in with you throughout the morning.

Former president George Bush who served as Ronald Reagan's vice- president talked with CNN's Larry King last night. He was asked what made Reagan such an exceptional leader.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FRM. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His greatness stemmed from his adherence to principle. You knew where he was on the issue. He was not sticking a finger up in the wind to see what the polls were doing or which way the wind was blowing.

And so he was great at that. But the side that I think I probably saw better than most Americans was this personal side. LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tell me about it.

BUSH: American people understood it, but I saw it up close and personal because every Thursday I'd have a lunch with him or sometimes it was Wednesday, mostly it was Thursday, have lunch there. And we'd talk, no agenda, no briefing papers.

And what I saw was a certain decency and a certain sense of honor and a great sense of humor. And it was -- it was wonderful. Even when things were going tough he'd tell me a joke or I would him, but it was that personal side of him that I hadn't known when I was president -- chairman of the Republican Party.


O'BRIEN: Former President Bush, as well as former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, are expected to visit Mr. Reagan's casket at the Capitol today.

In the Scott Peterson trial testimony by a relative is calling Peterson's alibi into question.

That as the prosecution tries to raise suspicions about Peterson's behavior after the disappearance of his wife Laci.

Ted Rowlands has more for us this morning from Redwood City, California.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll just have to wait and see, OK? That's all I can say.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Laci Peterson's family is supporting the way prosecutors are handling the case against Scott Peterson who is charged with the murderer of his wife and unborn child.

Through six days of testimony, jurors in the case have heard very little evidence that directly ties Peterson to the murders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're taking they're time presenting each piece of evidence so that's why there's not really any bombshells coming out.

ROWLANDS: Harvey Kemple, a relative of the Rocha family, told jurors that he was suspicious of Scott Peterson from the first frantic night Laci was reported missing.

Kemple says Peterson didn't act upset and Kemple said Peterson told him that he had been playing golf that day, a contradiction to the fishing story Peterson told police and others.

Kemple told jurors that Scott Peterson was more upset about burning some chicken at a July 4 family barbecue than he was about his missing wife. HARVEY KEMPLE: It's true; the man was more upset about his burnt chicken than even thinking about finding his wife.

ROWLANDS: Scott Peterson's parents say they believe in their son and they think the jury will too once they've heard the evidence.

LEE PETERSON, SCOTT'S FATHER: Our team's doing an excellent job and the truth is going to come out slowly but it's coming out.

ROWLANDS (on camera): The next expected prosecution witnesses include a neighbor who had her house broken into around the time that Laci was reported missing, the neighborhood mailman and then according to a source, the police officers from Modesto who handled this case.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Redwood City, California.


O'BRIEN: Defense attorneys have said that Peterson was distracted, not lying, when he said he'd been golfing the day of Laci's disappearance. Testimony in the case could last they say up to five months.

Question now: did Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden share more than just a hatred for the U.S.? Questions about a possible link between Iraq and al Qaeda still being debated.


AL GORE, FRM. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president convinced the country by relying on a mixture of documents that turned out to be forged and blatantly false assertions that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I have not seen smoking gun concrete evidence about the connection, but I think the possibility of such connections did exist and it was prudent to consider them at the time that we did.


O'BRIEN: If there was an unholy alliance, where is the proof? We're going to debate this intelligence mystery today with Stephen Hayes. He's the author of "The Connection."

And also James Bamford. His book is called "A Pretext for War," and they both join us from Washington this morning.

Gentlemen, good morning, nice to see you both.

The question, essentially, is -- and you see arguments on both sides -- either Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, the argument goes, hated each other so much they wouldn't work together, or that they had such a hatred for the United States that of course they would work together.

Stephen let's start with you -- which is it?

STEPHEN HAYES, AUTHOR, "THE CONNECTION": I think they would work together and I think you know high level detainees or debriefings with high level detainees both from Iraqi intelligence and from al Qaeda suggest that they would indeed work together and did work together, so I think it's important that we not rule it out, and I think too many people have been far too quick to suggest that because of religious or ideological differences it somehow precluded cooperation.

O'BRIEN: James, your sources have ruled it out. They say it's very, very unlikely -- no evidence that it happened. Is that right?

JAMES BAMFORD, AUTHOR, "A PRETEXT FOR WAR": Well that's exactly right and that's the problem. We got into a war based on lies and falsehoods and deception and we're in a war now that we can't get out of and basically what started all by people coming up with information that wasn't true.

O'BRIEN: Stephen, where do you see the strongest evidence of this connection between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein?

HAYES: Well, I think you can go back and you can look at reporting for years that suggest that there was this connection, including reporting during the Clinton administration.

I mean, I think there is this conventional wisdom today that this is just a fantasy of the Bush administration but if you go back and look at the Clinton administration's 1998 indictment of Osama bin Laden it mentions prominently an Iraq-al Qaeda connection on weapons development which is no small thing.

And then if you look at the bombing of the Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan, which the Clinton administration undertook in response to al Qaeda attacks, no fewer than six senior Clinton administration officials made an Iraqi link in their argument to justify that attack.

O'BRIEN: When you hear that evidence, then, James, what do you think?

BAMFORD: Well, you know, this is the same stuff that Colin Powell heard before he went into the Security Council to give his briefing and I interviewed a number of people for my book that were very close to him around that time and were part of his briefing and he said that when that information was given to him it had virtually no credibility and at one point he took the material and just slammed it down on the table and said I'm not going to use this material and it turns out to be total nonsense.

One of the key pieces of evidence came out from Douglas Feith who was the -- who is the Undersecretary of Defense for policy and he came out with a report that had a lot of these allegations in it and the Defense Department later came out and disavowed it so this information is basically nonsense and it's been sitting out there for a long time.

HAYES: If I could just interrupt -- it's not nonsense but the Pentagon certainly did not disavow the entire thing, they didn't like the fact that it was reported on. But we're not talking about Douglas Feith, we're talking about the Clinton administration, we're talking about reporting over a series of years, we're talking about reporting from a variety of agencies from a number of different people, from different political parties.

Hillary Clinton mentioned the Iraq-al Qaeda connection in her floor speech as she voted for war in Iraq.

O'BRIEN: We will see...

HAYES: Evan Bayh, Senator Joe Lieberman, the list goes on.

O'BRIEN: We will see if there is a smoking gun ever on this.

Stephen Hayes, the author of "The Connection," and James Bamford, the author of "A Pretext for War" joining us. Obviously lots to debate about this. Gentlemen, thanks.

HAYES: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: It's now 16 minutes past the hour, time to take a look at some of the other stories that are making headlines this morning with Heidi Collins. Good morning.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Soledad and good morning everybody.

It is the third and final day of the G-8 Summit. The group of eight nations meeting with African leaders today.

Yesterday the new Iraqi president, Ghazi al Yawer arrived on Georgia's Sea Island. The summit leaders agreed to reduce Iraq's massive debt as part of President Bush's Middle East democracy plan.

Today's meetings focus on ways to boost trade in Africa.

The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez is requesting a higher-ranking review of Iraqi prison abuse. The request comes as an investigation into mistreatment at Abu Ghraib Prison is wrapping up.

General Sanchez normally would review the findings but he's recusing himself from any role in reviewing the results.

Pentagon officials say the request is under consideration.

U.N. weapons experts are quoted as saying they found banned Iraqi missile engines in a scrap yard in Jordan. The U.N. Security Council was briefed on the discovery in a private meeting yesterday. The items came from unguarded sites in Iraq.

One monitored for materials that could produce weapons of mass destruction. It is not clear how much material has been removed from Iraq. Martha Stewart's lawyers expected to ask for a new trial today. Stewart was convicted in March of obstructing justice and lying to investigators. Yesterday a grand jury indicted one of the witnesses who testified against her.

Ink expert Larry Stewart -- no relation to Martha -- was charged with two counts of perjury. Stewart's team already asked once for a mistrial without success.

And in New York now they weren't wearing Gucci or Armani but one prom couple was definitely turning heads. It took 20 rolls of duct tape and 60 hours to create the sticky outfits. The pair entered a national contest sponsored by the maker of the Duck brand of duct tape, that is. Winners will be announced next month. Doesn't look like duct tape to me.

O'BRIEN: Looked pretty good.

COLLINS: Yes, pink and lovely. I was unaware.

O'BRIEN: Apparently there is. Yes, I'd say there is. All right, Heidi thanks.

"Question of the Day" from Jack. Good morning. Things you learn when you get up in the middle of the night to come here.

Thousands of people lined the streets of Washington, D.C. yesterday in the 90+ degree heat many of them waiting for hours to watch the procession of former president Reagan's casket.

200,000 people expected to pay their respects at the Capitol Rotunda by 7:00 this morning, that's 5,000 people an hour pouring through the rotunda.

In California 100,000 people, day and night, filing past the Reagan casket while it was lying in state at the presidential library in Simi Valley. Some people there waiting as long as seven hours to pay a brief visit.

It's a bit boggling to the mind, if you think about it. This was a man who was 93-year-old, and a what usually is a terminal illness, Alzheimer's disease. Had in effect said goodbye to this country eight or nine -- ten years ago when he wrote that letter saying that he was headed into the sunset of his life -- and yet the nation has been convulsed in emotion since this death was announced.

Respect, love, revered -- the question we're interested in your answers on this morning is this one: who would you wait in line hours to see? You can e-mail us at

It's really stunning. I was shocked and surprised by what I've seen the last few days.

O'BRIEN: Really? That's interesting. It's been interesting to see. And I think that the numbers that they've been estimating 200,000 -- I think that's way low. I really do. CAFFERTY: You do?

O'BRIEN: Yes. I think it's going to be much more than that.

CAFFERTY: May be. I guess -- I mean they have to conclude this at some point but if -- you know with the appetite for people that want to show their respects, they probably could have extended this had they chosen to.

O'BRIEN: All right Jack, thanks.


O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, a man says he was told his wife was dead only to learn she was actually very much alive.

We're going to hear from both of them in just a few moments about how it happened.

Plus, shock jock Howard Stern's antics land one company with a record fine. We'll explain coming up.

And then we go back to Bill Hemmer in Washington, D.C. as thousands of people pass by the casket of former president Ronald Reagan. Those stories all ahead as we continue right after this short break.


O'BRIEN: A tough ruling for the nation's largest radio chain. With that and the market preview Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business" this morning. Good morning.

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

O'BRIEN: Big old fine.

SERWER: Yes. Big, big fine. We've been thinking this was going to happen for the past couple of days. Finally did.

Clear Channel Communications, the nation's largest radio station owner paying a record fine to the Federal Communications Commission -- $1.75 million. This to settle indecency charges that were piling up here against guess who? Howard Stern. That's right.

And it's interesting -- the company calls it a voluntary contribution. It actually is a settlement, not a fine.

I like that, a voluntary contribution. It sounds like a lot of money, $1.75. A couple of factoids -- Howard Stern makes reportedly $30 million a year. Clear Channel Communication makes $1.1 billion a year, so $1.75 not that much money in the greater scheme of things, right?

O'BRIEN: Still, not insignificant. Want to talk about the market? SERWER: Yes, real quickly yesterday we retreated a little bit. Stocks were down after three days in a row of being up. Still the markets gone a long ways up five percent since mid-May. You can see the retreat a little. But this morning futures higher. Big merger in the retailing sector, many department stores buying Marshall Fields. We'll talk about that later on.

O'BRIEN: Excellent, thanks Andy, appreciate it.


O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, a case of mistaken identity. This time it was a matter of life and death. We're going to explain to you how it all got cleared up and then much more from Washington, D.C. as preparations for tomorrow's state funeral for Ronald Reagan continues. That's all ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.



International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.