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Bush Meets with Turkish Leaders; Does Media Unwittingly Aid Terrorists With Coverage?; Memorial Held for Beheaded Hostage

Aired June 27, 2004 - 08:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It's June 27. Good morning. I'm Betty Nguyen.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Drew Griffin. Thanks for being with us on this Sunday.

The president's visit to Turkey coincides with the news of yet another terrorist kidnapping. President Bush preparing to meet with world leaders at the NATO summit as al Qaeda militants take three more hostages. We go live to Turkey.

Back in the U.S., a somber hometown farewell to an American beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

Plus, is it really amnesty for terrorists? The Saudi government cracks down with an offer. But will it work. We'll talk to a Mideast expert live, coming up on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

NGUYEN: President Bush is en route to Istanbul after talks with Turkish officials in Ankara. The president told the Turkey's prime minister the U.S. will try to get three Turkish hostages released in Iraq.

In Istanbul, Mr. Bush will attend the NATO summit conference, and that begins tomorrow.

In Iraq, three days to the handover and insurgents are pressing their campaign of violence. Two car bombs exploded in the city of Hillah, killing 23 civilians and wounding 58.

Insurgent abducted three Turkish civilians in Iraq and are threatening to kill them in 72 unless Turkey pulls its companies out of the country.

In southern Afghanistan, local officials say gunmen believed to be Taliban stopped a van, killed 10 men on Friday after finding out they had registered to vote.

Yesterday, a bomb exploded on a bus carrying female election workers, killing two of them. The attack Friday is being called the deadliest yet amid a wave of violence aimed at sabotaging national elections.

And in the U.S., the Green Party has nominated Texas lawyer David Cobb for president. That's a blow to Ralph Nader, who was seeking that nomination. It would have automatically put Nader on the ballot in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

GRIFFIN: Our top story this hour. President Bush on his way to Istanbul.

He's looking for more international help for Iraq as he prepares for the NATO summit. That begins Monday.

Our European political editor Robin Oakley joins us live from Turkey with more -- Robin.


Well, a busy day for President Bush, who's on his way to Istanbul here from Ankara this morning, where he had talks with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister and with President Sezer.

In his talks with the Turkish leaders, in those he paid tribute to the role of Turkey as a secular Islamic democracy, practicing democracy and the rule of law.

And Mr. Bush made clear that he is going to continue pushing for Turkey to get membership of the European Union. He says it's qualified for that membership, and it should happen soon.

On the Turkish side, they were pressing Mr. Bush for the U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq to do rather more to counter the Kurdish separatists, PKK, the terrorists operating in northern Iraq.

And they will have been looking for stronger assurances from the United States, which has been indicating up until now that it will leave this as a matter partly to be dealt with by the new interim government in Iraq.

Coming on here now to discuss NATO, President Bush is being met with some pretty hefty demonstrations. There are two and a half to three miles away across the Bosphorus there, but apparently some 40,000 people assembled to protest against President Bush and against the NATO summit meeting here in Istanbul -- Drew.

GRIFFIN: Robin, how is it playing in Turkey, the news that three Turkish citizens are now being held captive by the same people who have beheaded two other citizens of the world, one from Korea and one from the U.S.?

OAKLEY: That's very much overshadowed the talks this morning. As you were reporting President Bush going to do what he can in the situation. I think there is worry that the three Turks are being held by the group linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose track record has been a depressing one up until now, in terms of the executions.

But the defense minister this morning has said this morning that there is no way the Turkish government is going to give way to the demands that Turkish contractors must pull out of Iraq within 72 hours if the men are not to be beheaded. But it is a continuing worry.

And of course, there have been terrorist bombs in Istanbul back in November. Sixty people killed. So there are worries among the population here that the association with the United States -- and Turkey is its strongest ally in the area -- increases the risk of terrorism to Turkish citizens -- Drew.

GRIFFIN: Robin Oakley live in Turkey, thank you.

President Bush has told Turkish officials the U.S. will do all it can to get three Turkish hostages removed safely in Iraq. They were abducted by militants who are threatening to behead them in 72 hours. Here's a picture of them on Arab TV.

Turkey says it is not going to do that, as Robin reported. It's believed the kidnappers are linked to terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The coalition says the kidnappings and bombings are part of the insurgents' plan to try to derail Wednesday's transfer of power to Iraqis.


DAN SENOR, COALITION SPOKESMAN: It's a difficult situation here. The terrorists that are operating here have regarded this front here as their central front in terrorism. They recognize the stakes are high for them, as I said, for reasons earlier, because building a democracy in this heart of this part of the world will set their cause back dramatically.

And they're grasping at anything. And they've been engaging in these kidnappings and these brutal slayings, beheadings. Sometimes the banality of these evil acts speak for themselves. And that's what we see when we see these images of the beheadings.


GRIFFIN: Much of the recent violence in Iraq is blamed on al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The coalition has placed a $10 million bounty on his head -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Despite an escalation of attacks, the U.S. may not have to deploy more troops to Iraq. That word from the secretary of defense.

In a BBC interview this morning from the site of the NATO summit Donald Rumsfeld says contingency plans are being made in case additional troops are needed. But he says U.S. commanders have not requested them.

And NATO might help out. Right now 40,000 U.S. troops (sic) are in Iraq, as well as 25,000 forces from other countries.

This program note: stay with CNN for complete coverage of the handover that is starting at 7 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday. We've got a full lineup for you as sovereignty is passed from the U.S.-led coalition to the Iraqis.

And with just three days to the power shift, our e-mail question this Sunday morning goes like this: "Is it mission accomplished in Iraq?" Tell us what you think. Our e-mail address is

After the Abu Ghraib scandal the CIA has suspended temporarily some White House approved interrogation tactics used on al Qaeda prisoners.

The "Washington Post," citing unnamed intelligence sources, reports the Justice Department is reviewing some of these so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. They include suffocation, sleep deprivation, as well as light and noise bombardment.

GRIFFIN: To the presidential election and the Green Party, now chosen its nominee for president. Texas native lawyer David Cobb has helped build the Green Party, serving as its general counsel. Cobb's nomination gives him access to ballots in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

He came out swinging at the party convention held in Milwaukee.


DAVID COBB (G), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Across the world, and in this country, something profound is happening. And the Green Party is poised to be the electoral arm of this growing movement.


GRIFFIN: Cobb labeled Senator John Kerry a supporter of the corporate agenda.

With Cobb's selection by the Greens, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader now has to find another way to get on the ballot in several states.

Nader's second attempt to get on the November ballot in Oregon may fall short, officials counting signatures there collected at the party's Portland convention yesterday to see if he has enough names to qualify.

In Iowa, site of this year's first presidential contest, Senator John Edwards and Governor Tom Vilsack rallied 1,200 Democratic faithfuls in Des Moines. The two potential Kerry running mates shared the stage at the Democrats' annual state convention.

Both men bashed George Bush, saying the administration is squeezing the middle class.

And the Bill Clinton media blitz continues later this morning. The 42nd president talks about his autobiography, "My Life," on CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES." That's at 11:30 a.m. Eastern.

GRIFFIN: Stories across America this morning.

In Compton, California, Police Chief William Bratton says he's going to review the policy that says it's OK for police to use flashlights to subdue suspects. This comes after this videotaped arrest, showing an officer who is repeatedly striking a carjack suspect with his flashlight. It's described by some to the Rodney King beating.

Taking flight above Arizona. These are unmanned drones that the border patrol hopes will help track down illegal immigrants and drug smugglers in the desert there. The drones use thermal and night vision equipment. They can be sent out in pre-programmed flight paths or to specific destinations.

On the ground in Arizona, police say it could take investigators weeks to figure out what caused a passenger bus to lose control and crash in Phoenix. The driver and one passenger died in this accident yesterday. Twelve other passengers hospitalized with non-life- threatening injuries.

NGUYEN: Well, it's a tactic that's raising questions, the kidnapping of hostages. What's driving the terrorists? Some answers coming up.




GRIFFIN: Plus, a poignant good-bye to an American beheaded by al Qaeda supporters.


GRIFFIN: Surviving asthma this morning, at 8:30 Eastern, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, "HOUSE CALL," with the prescription for the coughing and the wheezing.


MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: The embassy of Saudi Arabia. How much money did the Saudis have invested in America, roughly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard figures...


GRIFFIN: Plus, the first numbers are in for Michael Moore's controversial film "Fahrenheit 9/11." Did the hype help him at the box office? Find out right here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING -- Rob.



NGUYEN: It is happening again. This time, it's Turkish nationals held at gunpoint with a deadline hanging over their heads. Is it a coincidence that insurgents target Turks as President Bush and European leaders gather in Istanbul? Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Betty Nguyen.

Turkey is rejecting terrorist demands this morning. Three Turkish workers were taken captive in Iraq and threatened with execution unless Turkish companies leave Iraq.

Kidnappings and threats of decapitation continue to draw media coverage around the world. And some argue the attention gives terrorists exactly what they want.

One of them is Mamoun Fandy with the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Thanks for being with us this morning.


NGUYEN: You say the media is actually helping terrorists. How so?

FANDY: Well, I think, you know, for al Qaeda now, since they do not have the means to conduct major attacks, like 9/11, they are going for these sort of dragged-on painful processes of decapitating people and killing them.

And this is what's happening today. That Al Jazeera and other channels in the Arab world, not just reporting the event, but giving the whole propaganda of al Qaeda, five and six minutes of speeches that give them more recruits, and also they are made to induce fears in the heart of the Americans, as well as Westerners.

These are images made for exports, and western media sort of gobbled it up and air it as is.

NGUYEN: So that's the problem here in the West, that the media is basically taking it from Arab television as it is and not really thinking how this is going to play out in the whole scheme of things?

FANDY: Well, I think it is -- it's very important to report these things but not to give al Qaeda and all this Jihad group in Iraq what they want.

Because simply the -- exactly their strategy is that, because they failed to hit hard targets. They failed on the ground. And this is why they are going, not for (UNINTELLIGIBLE), for airtime as you put it on your panel.

NGUYEN: So how does -- How do folks in the Arab world get a balanced view, when they're seeing only these stories as played on Arab television, stories that show Iraqi children being killed, but stories that don't really depict American lives being lost in this?

FANDY: Well, just -- I mean, the Arab -- the Arab media in general is really playing a double game here. And the story is -- the stories are made just to scare the Americans, to scare America and its allies and send them these painful images. There are now some signs that there is some improvement, at least. Al-Arabiya refused to air the whole entire tape that Al Jazeera aired. So sometime decided that this is the wrong thing.

And just the amount of violence on Arab TV today, I mean, makes the whole Arab world swim in a sea of violent language and images that gives more recruits to al Qaeda.

NGUYEN: Now when this was brought up today, these Turkish hostages, there is a possibility that they, too, could be Muslim. How is that going to be played out if these terrorists kill Muslims?

FANDY: Well, they are Muslims, but for -- for people over there, they are not Arabs. They are -- they are Turks. But that will complicate the picture, certainly, because the pattern has been that they have released Egyptians and other Muslim hostages from Iraq in the past. So I don't know how this one will play out.

But since they put the 72 hours for -- as ultimatum, then probably they might go with it.

NGUYEN: All right. And let's talk real quickly about Saudi Arabia offering amnesty to terrorists if they give themselves up.

Is that really going to work? I mean, where is the honor for terrorists in just saying, "Hey, I'm going to give up," when they're really fighting for a cause that they truly believe in? Are they going to give up?

FANDY: Well, I think, you know, it's not -- it's not an amnesty. If you listen very carefully to what Crowned Prince Abdullah says, it's really an ultimatum. It's surrender or die. But he's just making -- trying to prepare his country and the mood in the country and the mindset that they will be -- that will be acceptable to see their special forces on the streets, rather than the police.

It was really a political speech made to put the country in the mood for a major fight with al Qaeda. And it came at the heel of their victory, at least, when they took out Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin, the head of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and a few of his followers.

NGUYEN: Mamoun Fandy. So many questions, so few time -- such few time.

FANDY: Thank you.

NGUYEN: Right now you're with the U.S. Institute of Peace. We thank you so much for your insight.

FANDY: Thank you. Thank you.

GRIFFIN: Well, in New Jersey, a memorial for Paul Johnson, the engineer who was brutally killed by terrorists in Saudi Arabia ten days ago. It was the first public appearance by Johnson's family since that news.

CNN's Alina Cho was there.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They came in song.


CHO: And in prayer.

REV. GENE HUBER, PASTOR, GREENTREE CHURCH: Sometimes the guilt of the guilty tortures the innocent.

CHO: Most of all, they came to support a family locked in grief over the death of Paul Johnson, a man kidnapped by terrorists in Saudi Arabia June 12 and beheaded by his captors a week later.

REV. KYLE HUBER, SENIOR PASTOR, GREENTREE CHURCH: We will stand with you for all the time that God gives us together in this life.

CHO: In place of a coffin, there was a single photo of Johnson and his wife, a floral arrangement she sent because she's still overseas, and tiny white pillows from Johnson's grandchildren.

There was also a makeshift flag and a yellow ribbon.

Everywhere, signs this community that calls itself small town America is united in grief.

This man lived on the same block as Johnson growing up.

DENNIS SEELEY JR., CHILDHOOD FRIEND: We always pulled together. And, you know, we always pray together. And we always try to help our neighbors the best we can.

CHO: Then there were those who didn't know Johnson and his family, like this woman.

NATALIE SWAN, GRENTREE CHURCH MEMBER: For the right reasons we wanted to come. And I'm glad we did. It was beautiful. A beautiful sermon, and music, and comforting, I hope, to the family.

CHO: Family members didn't speak during the service, but their grief was evident, especially when Johnson's mother was given an American flag.

Afterward there was a closing hymn.


CHO: And a statement on behalf of the family from the pastor, who spoke of Johnson's work in Saudi Arabia as an Apache helicopter specialist for Lockheed Martin.

K. HUBER: When history is written on the war on terrorism, let Paul's death be the catalyst that leads to thousands more Westerners working in harmony with people in the Middle East. CHO: Johnson's family also urged the Saudi government to do everything it can to find and return Johnson's remains.

And to those who have asked how they can help, the family said by ensuring Johnson's sacrifice is not forgotten.

Alina Cho, CNN, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.



GRIFFIN: Welcome back. I'm Drew Griffin. Our top stories.

President Bush in Turkey for a NATO summit. He's hoping to convince member countries to contribute more to help rebuild Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says more U.S. troops may not be needed in Iraq after all. Rumsfeld says he hopes NATO will step in to train security forces in Iraq.

And here at home, former Enron chief Ken Lay says his close ties to President Bush could affect whether he's indicted. Lay tells "The New York Times" that he's taking full responsibility for Enron's collapse, but insists he did nothing criminal.

NGUYEN: We want to go now to Rob Marciano with a check of the weather on this Sunday morning.

Hi, Rob.


NGUYEN: Thanks, Rob.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" is heating up the nation's box office in its debut weekend. A tracking firm says Michael Moore's anti-Bush film earned $8 million on the first day, which was Friday. That puts it well on the way to becoming this weekend's No. 1 flick.

The movie paints Mr. Bush as a neglectful president who ignored terrorism warnings before September 11.

GRIFFIN: Which brings us to our e-mail question, "Is it mission accomplished in Iraq?"

And our first writer, probably a Michael Moore fan here. He says, "What's the mission again? I forgot. I would guess from the numbers of dead civilians, a big no is in order. If, however, the mission was to do some housecleaning by removing another American trained and funded despot, then I guess they succeeded." That is Shane in Canada.

NGUYEN: Royce (ph) from South Windsor, Connecticut, writes, "Of course the mission is accomplished. A tyrant is out and in jail, and the Iraqi people are in the midst of transition from that tyranny. Anyone that thought the transition would be easy or painless is either uninformed or pushing their own agenda." Exclamation point.

Lots of questions about this question of the day. And we invite you to keep those thoughts coming. E-mail us at

GRIFFIN: Living with asthma, with the right care it doesn't have to be as tough as it may seem. Dr. Sanjay Gupta's "HOUSE CALL" is at 8:30 Eastern.

Plus war, disease and malnutrition have been blamed for the deaths of 30,000 civilians in Sudan over the past year. American efforts to turn the tide, next hour.

Also at 9, a remarkable effort to find and renovate homes for disabled American troops. It's called Homes for Our Troops. And next hour, the founder of the organization will join us live.

The day's top stories and "HOUSE CALL" after a break.



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