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Interview with Saudi Foreign Policy Adviser Adel Al-Jubeir; Scott Peterson Trial

Aired June 21, 2004 - 07:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. It is exactly half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.
The kidnapping and murder of American Paul Johnson has prompted a whole new line of questions for Saudi officials. Militants are now claiming they were helped by members of the security force. So, how is the Saudi government responding? We're going to find out when the foreign policy adviser for the kingdom joins us in just a few moments.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Also this half hour, just as the judge in the Scott Peterson trial was saying proceedings were moving along faster than anticipated, a possible snag with one of the jurors. We'll look at what happened in a few moments and whether or not it could force a change on that jury as well. Stay tuned for that.

O'BRIEN: Also, "90-Second Pop" is coming up in just a moment. Britney Spears made the cut again. This time, wedding rumors are back on the pop chart rumor chart. We're going to find out what's what in just a few moments.

HEMMER: Did she say "I do" again? Could it last...

O'BRIEN: No, but I think she's heading that way.

HEMMER: Could it last more than 45 minutes?

O'BRIEN: Fifty-three hours I think is the record she's trying to replace.

HEMMER: We're counting.

As we start again this half hour, returning now to the hunt in Saudi Arabia for Paul Johnson's remains. From Washington this morning, Saudi Arabia's foreign policy adviser, Adel Al-Jubeir, is our guest now.

Sir, good morning. Welcome back here to AMERICAN MORNING.


HEMMER: Have they found the remains of Paul Johnson?

AL-JUBEIR: Unfortunately, not yet, but we're still looking, and we hope to be able to find the remains and restore them to his family. HEMMER: Do you think this is adding some sort of new twist to this story? In the past it's been relatively easy to locate the remains. Why now so difficult?

AL-JUBEIR: It's never easy to locate any remains if you don't know where the location is and if you don't have people who can point out to you where it is. Remember, it took many weeks to find the snipers in Washington two years ago, and they were alive and they were leaving telltale signs.

HEMMER: The kidnappers of Mr. Johnson on their Web site say this in part: "A number of the cooperators who are sincere to their religion in the security apparatus donated those clothes and the police cars." It indicates an inside job. Was it?

AL-JUBEIR: We don't see any evidence to that effect. It's very easy to obtain military uniforms in Saudi Arabia, just like it is here. You can walk into any Army surplus store in Washington and pick up a military uniform. It's also easy to take cars and paint them to look like police cars.

We want to be careful, Bill, here. People seem to be giving credence to what the terrorists are saying on Web sites that reminds me of Saddam Hussein's information minister. What if people had believed what he said when he was saying it, when it was total nonsense?

HEMMER: Let me be clear here. You are saying that there is no indication or no evidence that you have that they did use police cars and police uniforms to abduct Paul Johnson?

AL-JUBEIR: That is correct. We have no evidence, anything to point to any collaboration whatsoever between the security services and the terrorists. Remember, Bill, more than 50 of our security officers gave their lives and were murdered by this organization as they were trying to pursue terrorists over the past year.

HEMMER: The search took about six days to try and locate Paul Johnson's body when he was alive. We're told that at least 15,000 security forces were involved in that. Since then on Friday night, four al Qaeda leaders, including the top man in Saudi Arabia, are dead and 12 others are arrested. Some suggest the timing is suspicious. To them you say what?

AL-JUBEIR: I say to them, anytime you catch the bad guys you pocket it as an advantage and you move on. We had been looking for Mr. al-Muqrin now for months. He has been on our most-wanted list. The search for him did not begin six days ago. It began more than six months ago. And whenever we catch someone, we capture them, we arrest them or we kill them. But it is a positive development. It is a big blow for al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, and we hope that this is a setback for them. And we're determined to continue the manhunt for the others on the most-wanted list until we capture every single one of them.

HEMMER: One of the things we learned out of Riyadh over the weekend, a Saudi security official said this in "The New York Times": "This has really taken down the cell completely" -- talking about al Qaeda. "This is the group that's been carrying out the bombings and other attacks since November."

What is the state of al Qaeda now in Saudi Arabia?

AL-JUBEIR: We believe that this was a major blow to them. This is pretty much the leadership. This is one of the -- the one active cell that we are aware of. There may be other cells that we're not aware of. We believe this is a setback. We will continue to hunt them, and we will continue to bring them to justice.

HEMMER: Take that first statement, though, again, "This has really taken down the cell completely." Do you agree with that?

AL-JUBEIR: I don't know that I would have gone that far. I believe it's a major blow to al Qaeda. But there's a possibility that they may reconstitute maybe in a weaker form. But our objective is to keep pursuing them, keep them on the run, prevent them from reconstituting and hopefully prevent them from doing harm to our citizens or our residents.

HEMMER: How would you address the issue of safety for Americans in your country? Are they safe there?

AL-JUBEIR: The same way we address it to Saudis in Saudi Arabia. We tell our people and our residents and our guests that these are difficult times, that they have to be careful, that they have to possibly change the patterns of their life. We are determined to provide for their security. We are determined to go after the terrorists. We believe the security situation is manageable, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our citizens and our residents.

HEMMER: What would you like to say to Paul Johnson's family?

AL-JUBEIR: Our thoughts and our prayers are with you. Mr. Johnson was a friend of Saudi Arabia. We have a saying if you live with the people for 40 days you become one of them. He lived with us for 10 years. He was one of us. We think of him as your loss is our loss. May God grant you patience and strength as you go through this difficult time. We vow that we will catch every single one who was responsible for his brutal murder, and we hope that we will be able to find his remains and restore them to you so he can have a proper burial.

HEMMER: Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabian foreign policy adviser in Washington, thanks for your time.

AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.

HEMMER: Soledad.

O'BRIEN: An encounter at a security checkpoint between Laci Peterson's brother and a juror may take the spotlight in Scott Peterson's murder trial this morning. CNN's Ted Rowlands has the story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The judge in the Scott Peterson double murder trial is expected to subpoena a videotaped copy of an interaction between Laci Peterson's brother, Brent Rocha, and juror No. 5. The exchange, which was caught by a television news camera, took place inside the courthouse as Rocha and the juror went through security on Thursday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have a comment.

JANE PETERSON, PETERSON'S SISTER-IN-LAW: You know, we're all in a very small space in there. It's just hard not to, you know, see them in the bathroom or -- I'm sure it's no big deal.

ROWLANDS: Through 11 days of testimony, the prosecution has focused the bulk of their case on what happened around the time just before and after Laci Peterson was reported missing in late 2002. Testimony for the week ended with two owners of a Modesto pawn shop testifying that Laci and Scott Peterson sold them some inherited jewelry shortly before Laci Peterson disappeared.

On Thursday, the judge told the jury that this estimated five- month-long trial is moving along much faster than expected.

(on camera): It is unclear what, if anything, the judge will do about the exchange between juror No. 5 and Laci Peterson's brother. Attorneys for both sides said they have no comment.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, San Francisco.


O'BRIEN: The judge will likely question that juror before deciding to replace him with one of six alternate jurors -- Bill.

HEMMER: In a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING, the walls may be starting to cave for former Enron chief Ken Lay. Andy is "Minding Your Business" and has that story in a moment.

O'BRIEN: Also ahead this morning, history in the making. Why what happens today over the Mojave Desert could mean out-of-this-world vacations in the near future.

HEMMER: Also at the movies over the weekend, Tom Hanks could not get out of the way of a screaming dodgeball. Our "90-Second Pop" panel takes a crack at that and more in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Oh, it looks like it's shaping up to be a beautiful day here in New York City.

HEMMER: How about the weekend, huh?

O'BRIEN: That was nice. HEMMER: Not bad. Can we rewind that tape a little bit?

O'BRIEN: Yes, why not? Can we, Chad?


HEMMER: Are the legal walls around former Enron chief Ken Lay now closing in? Andy is "Minding Your Business" and checks in on this story.

O'BRIEN: Good morning.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Good morning again.

HEMMER: We've been waiting for this for a while, haven't we?

SERWER: A two and a half investigation, you guys, and it looks like it's finally going to be happening, according to published reports. An indictment may be imminent against Ken Lay, former CEO of Enron, 62 years old, really the last man standing not only in Enron but in all of the corporate scandals. We think of Jeff Skilling, Bernie Ebbers, Dennis Kozlowski, the Regis (ph) family, and this may be happening for urging investors to buy the stock of Enron while he knew about the company's mounting financial troubles.

The markets, futures are looking pretty good this morning. A big banking deal in the works in the southeast, Wachovia buying SouthTrust for 14 billion...

HEMMER: Wachovia.


HEMMER: Wachovia.

SERWER: A big one. They'll change the name of those branches.

HEMMER: There's another merger out there, huh? It has to do with Grey Goose.

SERWER: Grey Goose and Bacardi, yes. We can't talk about that.

HEMMER: Oh, we can't?

SERWER: No, no, no.

HEMMER: OK. Well, I guess we've got the wrong thing over there.

SERWER: No, we'll talk about it later.

HEMMER: From banking to booze.

SERWER: We'll talk banking to booze. We'll talk about it later. A mixed marriage, Bill.

O'BRIEN: We can't talk about that, Bill. HEMMER: Clearly we can't.

O'BRIEN: Moving on, obviously. Andy, thanks.

SERWER: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, move over George Jetson. The future of space travel might be on display today. We'll take a look at that ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


HEMMER: About 45 minutes past the hour. Back to Daryn Kagan at the CNN center with other news making headlines today.

Good morning -- Daryn.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Bill.

We'll start in Iraq. The Abu Ghraib prison, center of the prisoner abuse controversy will not be destroyed after all. A military judge said that the facility could not be demolished, declaring it a crime scene. Meanwhile, pretrial hearings today for U.S. soldiers accused in the scandal. One hearing for Sergeant Ivan Frederick was rescheduled for next month.

Back here in the U.S. and Colorado, another round of pretrial hearings in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case. A judge could set the date for the trial soon. For the next two days, lawyers will hammer out details, including specific instructions to be given to jurors. But still no decision on whether jurors will be allowed to hear about the accuser's sexual past.

In health news, despite warnings from doctors, a study shows that few women over the age of 40 get mammograms once a year. A survey of more than 72,000 women found that only 6 percent continue to have the procedure annually during the span of 10 years. The study appears today on the Web site of Cancer.

And SpaceShipOne will be skyrocketing into new territory that is literally out of this world. In the Mojave Desert in California, Mike Melvill will be in the cockpit of the rocket. It is set to make history, a history-making mission. It's the first privately-run manned space flight. It is funded by Paul Allen. He is the co- founder of Microsoft, who has spent more than $20 million on the project. And, Soledad, for $20 million, you don't get to orbit Earth, but you do get to have three minutes of weightlessness -- excuse me -- and an awesome view of Earth.

O'BRIEN: And you might win $10 million.

KAGAN: And there you go.

O'BRIEN: It's a lot of money. It's all good. All right, Daryn, thanks.

Jack has got the "Question of the Day" this morning.



President Clinton's autobiography, "My Life," goes on sale tomorrow. The publicity launch for his 957-page memoir includes TV interviews, book signings all week long. There's a book party in New York tonight for 1,000 guests.

"The New York Times," however, calls his book sloppy, self- indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull. For a president who often complained about how much people focused on his personal life he was while in office, the publicity around this book is doing exactly that.

The question is this: How much more do you want to hear about President Clinton's personal life?

Mel in Cornwall on the Hudson says: "I heard about as much as I cared to a week ago. If I want to know more, I'll buy the book. Ironically, the Clinton-haters have created a morbid fascination among the public about this man. In this respect, they've been their own worst enemies."

Tony in Roscoe, Illinois: "Unless I turn my TV off for the next two weeks, I'm sure I'll learn more. The media has been pouring over their advance copies of Bill's book searching for any juicy tidbits or new twists on the exploits previously uncovered by super voyeur Ken Starr."

Ken in Prescott, Arizona: "Although I want the Clinton economy back, it's the Clinton personal affairs that have lost all entertainment value."

And John in Quitman, Georgia, writes: "We can always learn from reading about other people's lives. Too bad we don't."

I don't know if he means too bad we don't read or too bad we don't learn. Maybe both.

HEMMER: Nine hundred and fifty-seven pages. Are you going to take that to the beach with you?

CAFFERTY: No, I don't go to the beach. And if I did, that wouldn't be what I'd like with me.

HEMMER: Got it. Thank you, Jack.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, who does Hollywood want to see in a red cape and blue tights? Some names are being floated. The search for the next man of steel -- no, it's not you -- straight ahead on "90-Second Pop". Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: It's time for another edition of "90-Second Pop." Today, here's what we're talking about. Oops, is she going to do it again? Also "Dodgeball's" slam weekend. And the search for super heroes.

To discuss it this morning, Toure, contributing editor for "Rolling Stone." Also "New York" magazine contributing editor Sarah Bernard. And humorist Andy Borowitz of


O'BRIEN: Because I know I've been saying "the BorowitzReport," and I got kind of a snitty note telling me it's not...


O'BRIEN: ... "The Borowitz Report."

BOROWITZ: Yes, "The Borowitz Report" I think is a porn site. So stay away from that. Stay away from that.

SARAH BERNARD, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: And you had nothing to do with that.


BERNARD: Nothing.

O'BRIEN: Right. All right, let's get right to it. We're already off track. We haven't even started yet.

BOROWITZ: Sorry. Sorry.

O'BRIEN: Britney, Britney, Britney. Last week, she was in the news because she hurt her knee while she was filming a...


O'BRIEN: ... blah, blah, blah..


BOROWITZ: I hurt my knee last week.


O'BRIEN: But now, there are rumors that she's going to marry her boyfriend -- what's his name?


O'BRIEN: Kevin Federline?

BERNARD: Who is about to have a baby with someone else.


BERNARD: She's picking the great guys here. She has an insane need for attention, and we have an insane need to give it to her.

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry. From J.Lo, are we talking Britney?

BERNARD: Yes, J.Lo to Britney.

TOURE: It's the same thing.

BOROWITZ: She is the blond David Blaine.

BERNARD: But we're responsible! I feel like we've created a monster here, because every time she does something, we get all involved again.

O'BRIEN: We're never talking about her again.

BERNARD: Yes, that's it. That's it.

O'BRIEN: Come on.

BERNARD: And she'll just retire and fade away.

O'BRIEN: Out of our lives.

BERNARD: No, but she's learned from J. Lo, from Courtney Cox, from everyone else that having a baby and having a wedding is obviously what gets you press these days. And for some reason -- I mean, there used to be all sorts of...

O'BRIEN: I'm having a baby. No one is give me any press. I'm having two!


BERNARD: That is what gets you in, you know, the tabloids today.

O'BRIEN: It's really weird, because I mean, maybe I guess in Hollywood no one takes marriage all that seriously.

BOROWITZ: No, this one is serious. This one is, because she has already planned the annulment. So this one is definite.

TOURE: But even more disturbing to me is the potential nuptial of Demi and Ashton. I've been certain since day one this was a publicity stunt.

O'BRIEN: I know it. Now, they...

TOURE: They march down the aisle.


TOURE: I mean, it's more than Bennifer did.

O'BRIEN: You know?

TOURE: This is just taking it a little too far, people. O'BRIEN: Let's turn and talk about the search for Superman, because they are trying to remake the movie, "Superman."


O'BRIEN: Really it's kind of important. I mean, Christopher Reeve set the standard of the hunky laid-back sweet, good looking...

TOURE: And before the whole cartoon comic book thing started, Christopher Reeve took it to a whole another level. So, you've got to have to have a really good actor to sell the franchise.

O'BRIEN: So who is it?

TOURE: It should be Will Smith. It's not going to be...

O'BRIEN: Because he's black.

TOURE: No, not because he's an action star. He's a nice guy. Superman at heart is a nice guy.

O'BRIEN: He's a big guy, too.

TOURE: He's all-American. Will Smith is big. So, I mean, when you have a nice guy who is an action star, all of America already loves him. Right? He can cross over internationally.

BERNARD: Even the soundtrack...

O'BRIEN: I think he'd be a good choice. Like in the soundtrack, he could do the sound.

BERNARD: I know. I think...


BOROWITZ: What I want to know is will America accept a super hero with those ears though? That's a big question.


BERNARD: I have a nomination. I think Bill Hemmer. What do you think? He looks a little like Clark Kent.

BOROWITZ: Clark Kent, no problem.

BERNARD: He could totally do a Clark Kent.


TOURE: That is so right.

BERNARD: He is Clark.

TOURE: He is so Clark Kent. BOROWITZ: Just thinking outside the box. What about Donald Trump, unstoppable, powerful, from another planet? That would be good.

BERNARD: I think -- no, but seriously, I think Jake Gyllenhaal would be good, because he could do the sort of hometown boy.

TOURE: He's a super boy. He's not, like, a man.

BERNARD: He's just a boy.

O'BRIEN: Yes, he seems young. I think he's young. Forget that he's too young. He's got great stomach muscles. That's all he need.

BERNARD: Yes, definitely.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's talk about weekend movies, "Dodgeball," No. 1.


O'BRIEN: That movie looks really funny in a very Ben Stiller kind of way.

BOROWITZ: Right. Every male with arrested development went to see this movie, which is why I couldn't get in.


O'BRIEN: Right.

BOROWITZ: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: I was going to say...

BOROWITZ: And "The Terminal," big surprise, did not do well. And it's too bad, because Spielberg's next movie was going to have Tom Hanks waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. That is now completely off the plans.

TOURE: That's not going to work.

BERNARD: What place creates the most anxiety for people? Airports.


BERNARD: Who wants to spend two and a half hours...


TOURE: It's like "Dodgeball," because that's really hard.


O'BRIEN: It's so true. In fourth grade I was so traumatized, but that's another story. Toure, Sarah and Andy, as always, thank you so much.

TOURE: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Bill, what about it?

HEMMER: Clark Kent?

O'BRIEN: Clark Kent, what about it?

HEMMER: I've been called worse.

In our next hour here on AMERICAN MORNING, the Kobe Bryant case is grabbing all of the headlines. But a new book says you'd be shocked to know how many other NBA players have run into trouble with the law. We'll talk to the author when we continue on AMERICAN MORNING.


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