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Attackers Rig Minibus to Launch Rockets Near Baghdad Hotel

Aired July 2, 2004 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: A bold rocket attack in downtown Baghdad two days after the handover and one day after Saddam's arraignment.
The rings of Saturn. Spectacular pictures and high hopes for learning the secrets of the universe.

And he's not backing down.


BILL COSBY, ENTERTAINER: We call each other names of ugliness. Comedians coming on TV. My men's (ph) is so ugly, you ugly -- it's all minstrel show stuff. I'm tired of this.


O'BRIEN: More harsh criticism for the black community from Bill Cosby on this AMERICAN MORNING.

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

O'BRIEN: Good morning, welcome everybody. Bill Hemmer is taking the day off.

Some of the news that's making headlines this morning. Saddam Hussein challenging the Iraqi court's authority to charge him. The way his trial is conducted will have important consequences around the world this morning -- we're going to talk with one of the attorneys who is ready to represent Saddam.

Also this morning, the FBI urging vigilance for the 4th of July. There's no specific threat, but the timing and the big crowds and the holiday weekend might make a tempting terrorist target. We'll talk about that.

Plus, the outspoken Teresa Heinz Kerry apparently becoming more of an asset than a distraction for John Kerry's run for the White House. But can she match Laura Bush for voter appeal? This morning we talk with a presidential historian about that.

Mr. Cafferty is here. Baby, it's just you and me.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, you and I. The inmates have taken over the asylum this morning in Hemmer's absence. Been a busy week. We will attempt to lighten things up a little bit, take a trip into Fantasyland. Two hundred ninety million reasons to daydream about a better day.

O'BRIEN: Not fantasy land when I win.

CAFFERTY: You'll share of course.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. I'm that kind of girl. Absolutely. Right, Jack, thanks.

We start in Baghdad this morning, central Baghdad, awakened by several loud explosions. Attackers had rigged a minibus to launch rockets near a downtown hotel, which housed international journalists and also civilian contractors.

A malfunction caused most of the rockets to explode prematurely, which then ignited the minibus. Two rockets were launched. One hit the Sheraton Hotel, causing some damage but no casualties.

Two Iraqis were wounded at the site of the second explosion. Those blasts come as Iraqis continue coming to grips with seeing their former leader facing charges in court.

And for more on that we check in with Brent Sadler who is in Baghdad for us this morning. Brent, good morning.


Yes, indeed, Iraqis coming to grips with what many stay was a startling performance by the deposed despot. Many of them were expecting to see a broken man when he appeared in court.

Saddam Hussein started off a little nervous, but he did pick up pace, challenging the jurisdiction of the judge and rejecting the charges against him.


SADLER: In Baghdad, they call it the trial of the century. This is Act I.

Iraqis glued to the proceedings. A fair trial that from the viewpoints of many seems too fair.

He'll never confess to his crimes, says Taham Najaf (ph). Forget this trial; it's better to execute him now.

The tape, played around the world, shows Saddam Hussein uncertain, at first, then pouring scorn on the proceedings. Rejecting charges of war crimes and genocide, trying to beat the system.

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IRAQ: So that I have to know -- you are an investigative judge of the court of Iraq -- what resolution, what law formed this court? SADLER: An inaudible reply, but Saddam Hussein pounces.

HUSSEIN: Oh, the coalition forces? So you are an Iraqi that you are -- representing the occupying forces?

SADLER: Heida Hassan (ph) and his family wince at the verbal blows on the anonymous young judge. They are Shi'a Muslims who claim they've lost seven relatives during Saddam's rule. The courtroom drama is making them mad.

HEIDA HASSAN: What is this says Ali Hassan, he doesn't look like a criminal. He's more like a judge.

In Ojus (ph), Saddam's birthplace, some were carrying his framed picture and chanting in support of him and this was just the opening round of a long legal battle.


SADLER (on camera): It's been a tumultuous week for the Iraqis, with a lot to take on board. Monday saw the restoration of sovereignty for the new Iraqi interim government.

There we saw the transfer of Saddam Hussein to Iraqi legal custody and then that dramatic court appearance yesterday. But above all, although Iraqis are satisfied to see that the process of law to bring Saddam Hussein to trial that started first and foremost in their mind, Soledad, is that they want to see security reestablished so that we don't see the kind of attacks we saw just a few hours ago with that rocket strike against the hotels in the area I'm now reporting to you from -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes, clearly, Brent, security is a big challenge and probably the hardest thing to actually secure in that country. Thanks for that report. Appreciate it.

At the White House we're told that President Bush watched some of the replay of Saddam Hussein's testimony in front of the court.

White House correspondent John King has more.


JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president watched a snippet of news coverage but said nothing publicly about Saddam Hussein's dramatic day in court.

In New Orleans, the vice-president recalled his last visit was on the day Saddam's statue was toppled.

DICK CHENEY, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, fifteen months later, Saddam Hussein stands arraigned in an Iraqi court, where he will face the justice he denied to millions.

KING: The Iraqi tribunal accuses Saddam of atrocities against his people, and illegally invading Kuwait back in 19990. The vice- president continued to press another change many accused the Bush administration of exaggerating, insisting the former Iraqi leader had long-standing ties to al Qaeda and its allies, including providing sanctuary to the terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

CHENEY: The Iraqi regime refused to turn over Zarqawi, even when twice being provided with detailed information about his presence in Baghdad.

KING: That Mr. Bush kept to his regular schedule was by design. The White House calls the trial the business of the new Iraqi government, and a chance for that government to prove its commitment to the rule of law.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: But the president is pleased that Saddam Hussein and his regime leaders are facing justice from the Iraqi people in an Iraqi court.

KING: Not that the White House presumes Saddam Hussein innocent until proven guilty.

MCCLELLAN: Saddam Hussein's regime was responsible for the systematic terrorizing, torture, killing, and raping of innocent Iraqis.


KING (on camera): Back then the president made clear he would not lose any sleep if the Iraqi leader lost his life in a U.S. attack. Now the White House says it is up to the new Iraqi tribunal to decide if the death penalty is appropriate.

John King, CNN, the White House.

O'BRIEN: Saddam Hussein's wife, we are told, has hired some 20 lawyers to represent her husband. Coming up in -- a little bit later this morning -- we are going to talk to one member of that legal committee who is representing Saddam.

In its weekly bulletin to law enforcement agencies, the FBI urging vigilance against possible terrorist activity over the 4th of July holiday. And this weekend on the national mall in Washington, that concern is being taken very seriously.

Here is Sean Callebs.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Metal detectors and security guards greet visitors at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. No one gets in until pockets are purged and all belongings are passed through the unblinking eye of the x-ray machine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sitting in the middle of the mall, between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. This is the Smithsonian Institution. As far as we're concerned, an American icon.

CALLEBS: The measures are now a permanent fixture for Smithsonian security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's everything?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having any problems today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No problems whatsoever.

CALLEBS: Government officials have repeatedly warned holiday events that draw crowds like July 4 on the National Mall could be terrorist targets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It made me think before I came down but since I've been here I've been very comfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to make sure that our buildings aren't looked upon as being a soft target.

CALLEBS: This holiday weekend, thousands are expected at the Smithsonian's museums and outside at the colorful folk life festival and of course for the traditional fireworks.

Authorities are setting a fence up around the mall. There will be 19 entry points including some of the Smithsonian's museums that will have thorough security screening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that it's a complex situation we're living in right now and -- but I've just been enjoying myself because I work hard all year and I'm just down here to have a good time with some family.

CALLEBS: Sean Callebs, CNN, Washington.


O'BRIEN: Well, a treasure-trove, absolutely mind-blowing -- those are just some of the glowing reactions from NASA scientists for the latest images of Saturn's rings being beamed back from the Cassini spacecraft after a seven-year trip to get there the spacecraft has successfully begun its four-year tour of the giant planet. Its 31 moons and its seven shimmering rings.

Joining us this morning Denton Ebel. He's the curator of the American Museum of Natural History. Do you agree with the raves? And I think its fair to say across the board raves of what we've heard from the Cassini -- and seeing from the Cassini spacecraft?

DENTON EBEL, ASST. CURATOR, AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: Well first of all, this spacecraft went through the rings, it went through a gap between two rings and its amazing that it can even do that. But then it recorded all these pictures.

And we see all this detail we never saw before. O'BRIEN: Before we take a look at some of these pictures, overall how did the whole -- I mean, just -- I guess by going through the rings it seems like it went off literally without a hitch.

EBEL: It's amazing and if -- another flawless performance by NASA engineers. Following on this great success of the Mars Rovers.

O'BRIEN: I'm going to put up some of these pictures now. I want you to describe for us what we're seeing. There was some 61 pictures that were beamed back by the Cassini. What's this?

EBEL: These are the -- well -- sets of rings and in each ring there is lots of detail and then as we go deeper in we see even more detail.

So at each scale, at each level, we see increasing detail so that they're like a fractal, which is at every detail...

O'BRIEN: If you don't mind me saying, like a fractal doesn't really help. But the truth is you really can see a...

EBEL: Like a snowflake where you look at it as beautiful, then if you looked at it under a microscope you see all this detail that's equally intricate at finer and finer scales.

O'BRIEN: The woman who runs the program said when she took a first look at the 61 pictures she actually thought her team was playing a joke on her because they were so perfect. What's the goal, what do you learn from these pictures?

EBEL: Well Dr. Port (ph) and our team are looking at these rings and they're thinking about them as analogs for the kinds of rings we see discs around suns, young suns like our own sun was 4 1/2 billion years ago. So these are analog systems similar to other rings, even our galaxy itself is essentially a ring system.

And what we have here are spiral density waves or circular density waves, which change over time as these moons, little tiny 31 moons go around they shepherd the rings and they change the way the particles interact.

O'BRIEN: So he could teach us something about our own solar system because there is lots of similarities to some degree.

EBEL: Yes, about the origin of our solar system and about how ring systems in general work.

O'BRIEN: The pictures are in black and white. Do you think would make any difference if they were in color?

EBEL: I don't think so. We will get spectroscopic information, so we're looking at light with spectroscopic data, infrared data in different wavelengths -- it's just not going to be in color that we see with our eyes, but this will tell us a lot about their composition and this is science that is yet to be done. But this is going to be wonderful science. O'BRIEN: The Huygens Probe is sort of the next big step. It's going to detach from Cassini and then it's going to try to land on the surface of Titan, which is the smallest moon of Saturn.

EBEL: No, no, it's quite large.

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry, the largest moon of Saturn. What's the goal there? What will -- what will Huygens do?

EBEL: Well, this is a moon, which has a very thick atmosphere and we don't really know much about it.

And the Cassini Orbiter will be able to penetrate through with radar and map the surface. But what the probe will do and this is a probe created by the European space agency and this will launch from Cassini in December and it will descend into the atmosphere and its supposed to last about three hour, not very long but what we're interested in is on the surface of Titan we might have oceans of methane and this is -- natural gas -- we use it to cook, every day -- but in this case we're going to learn about the chemistry of this moon.

We don't really know much about it, we can see its outside surface of course but we don't know what's down deep.

And this is another moon like the moons of Jupiter, Europa that we've looked at already with the Galileo craft that could harbor life, maybe. We don't know. But this is the first step in finding out these things.

O'BRIEN: It's truly exciting. I mean, it's been fun to listen to scientists across the board absolutely rave about just the fact that the launch -- that it went off perfectly and that the pictures are so spectacular.

EBEL: We're in a great age of this stuff and -- and our nation is at the forefront, which is a great thing.

O'BRIEN: I think that's fair to say. Denton Ebel, nice to see you as always. Thanks for being with us.

EBEL: Good to see you.

O'BRIEN: Thanks. It is just about quarter past the hour. Time to check in with a look at some of the other news this morning. Betty Nguyen. Good morning to you, Betty.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

And we begin with the release of more hostages in Iraq. Turkey's foreign ministry saying two Turkish hostages have been freed. The two hostages were reported missing June 1 and wire reports saying their employer had agreed to stop working with the U.S. military in Iraq to win their release.

Three other Turkish citizens held hostage in Iraq were freed last week.

The U.S. is taking steps to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea. Secretary of State Colin Powell meeting with his North Korean counterpart on the sidelines of an Asian security conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. Their discussion focusing on proposals put forth in Beijing last week. It's the highest-level contact between the U.S. and North Korea in almost two years.

In sports the women's final is set for Wimbledon. Two-time champ Serena Williams will be facing off against Maria Sharapova. Sharapova, a 17-year-old Russian advancing to the finals after ousting American Lindsay Davenport yesterday. Sharapova becoming the third youngest player in history to reach the women's final at Wimbledon. The match is set for tomorrow.

Meantime, though, the men's semifinals are taking place today if you want to catch that.

And in entertainment news, a record setting opening for a web slinging superhero. "Spider-Man II" snaring 40.5 million at the box office for its debut. That's the biggest first day haul for any movie. Ticket sales surpassing the opening of the original Spider-Man back in May of 2002 and Soledad I hear critics say this one is even better than the original believe it or not.

O'BRIEN: I have heard exactly the same thing, Betty. But you know, I got to tell you, I liked the first one. I'd actually go see it -- I don't see any movies -- and I'd go see this.

NGUYEN: Go see that one again. Yes, I would too.

O'BRIEN: All right, thanks for that.

Entertainer Bill Cosby has launched another round of critical remarks aimed at some low-income African-Americans at a conference organized by the Reverend Jesse Jackson in Chicago yesterday.

Cosby called black children without the most basic educational skills the, quote, dirty laundry that the black community doesn't want aired. He also blamed parents for exposing their children to music that's helped make a certain racial slur into a popular phrase among the black youth.


COSBY: The more you invest in that child, the more your not going to let some CD tell your child how to curse and how to say the word (expletive deleted) is an accepted word you so hip with (expletive deleted) that you can't even spell it.


O'BRIEN: And back in May Cosby accused some blacks of squandered opportunities that had been brought about by the civil rights movement.

Time to turn to Jack and the "Question of the Day." Good morning.

CAFFERTY: How you doing? Been a busy week. We started out Monday surprise handover of power in Iraq two days early.

Then we moved to the court appearance of Saddam Hussein yesterday so with that in mind its time to lighten up a little and do a little day dreaming this Friday.

What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and you were $290 million richer? That's the prize in the Megamillions lottery drawing tonight.

In New Jersey yesterday, people were buying tickets at the rate of 3600 a minute. However, don't get your hopes up. The odds of winning are 135 million to one against you. But like I said, it's about daydreaming, so we will.

Here's the question: what would you do with $290 million? E- mail us at It's Friday. If there's anything else on your mind you'd like to unburden yourself of, I'm your guy.

O'BRIEN: Will you share what you'd do with $290 million?

CAFFERTY: I don't play the lottery, but if I had -- if I had -- if I came into that kind of money you know what I'd like to do, I -- there was an old show on TV called "Millionaire."

This John Beresford Tipton guy who was an anonymous benefactor and they would deliver a check for a million dollars to some anonymous family at the start of the show and the show would show how the money impacted. I think that would be fun to give most of it away.

O'BRIEN: Really?

CAFFERTY: I would do that. I would have to pick who got it, of course.

O'BRIEN: Good for you. I wouldn't give it away. I'd give a little bit of it away.

CAFFERTY: Yes, you would. You'd give me some wouldn't you?

O'BRIEN: You know, Jack, you'd be the first person I'd share with.

CAFFERTY: We could give some to Katie Couric; she could get some more badminton rackets over there at the "Today Show."

O'BRIEN: You know Katie is my girl; I'm not going to dis her today. All right, Jack thanks.


O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning there's been lots of job growth here in the last few months but just how long will it last? Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business" this morning. Also ahead a look at the woman who could be the next first lady. Why is Teresa Heinz Kerry saying she's no Hillary Clinton?

And, taking one for the team. Some big league effort lands one all star in the hospital. It's all ahead as AMERICAN MORNING continues.


O'BRIEN: I'm lonely without Hemmer this morning, isn't it?

CAFFERTY: God, no.

O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody.

CAFFERTY: About an hour away from the release of the big jobs report. Andy Serwer is tracking that. "Minding Your Business." This is an -- a report that I think is probably going to be watched very closely by the feds and may have something to do with whether interest rates go up again in August and by how much, huh?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes, no, that's exactly dead on.

Let's check out what happened yesterday on Wall Street.

Stocks kind of keeled over. Dow down over a hundred points. No, it didn't have to do with higher interest rates though. It had to do with higher oil prices. The Saudis saying we're not going to cut prices any more or raise production. They said forget it. That's over.

And also a couple of stalwarts looking weak. GM and Intel also kind of biting the dust a little bit. Futures up a little bit this morning. Let's talk about this jobs report coming out at 8:30, it is a big one as Jack suggested because the Fed will be watching it.

Here's what we're expecting. A quarter million jobs added. That's pretty darn good.

CAFFERTY: Mr. Bush will like that.

SERWER: Absolutely. Jobless rate, which supposed to hold steady at 5.6 percent and when you go and you look back a little bit, Jack, of course we've been adding jobs since last September -- and the last three months have been very, very good. That's 353,000 -- 346 -- a quarter of a million jobs almost last month so we're looking to hold steady there.

And if the economy keeps picking up, that's right, the fed is going to look to put the brakes on, make sure things don't get too far out in front of itself and also you're right it will impact that presidential race.

CAFFERTY: The economists like this what they call a Goldilocks economy where it's not too strong, not too weak. They don't want too much growth and they don't -- but they got to have enough growth to keep creating jobs, keep things moving forward. The Fed suggesting that their interest rate increases will be done in moderation.


CAFFERTY: That's dependent on, I assume, on how moderate this baiting is that we continue to get. If it falls in the middle of the spectrum then the Fed can keep its word. If it starts to go up or down too much they got to change.

SERWER: Yes, and over the past couple of days you know it looks like there are some weakening signs and Wal-Mart was saying sales not so great, GM says sales not so great. But if you look at this every day like I do you go crazy.

CAFFERTY: Yes, you know what you do? You go down to Barneys and buy pink shirts and ties. I mean you just completely lose it.

SERWER: I thought this was sort of erotic that I was -- eroticism is what I was going for.

O'BRIEN: I think it looks very nice.


CAFFERTY: Put it this way; there's no eroticism anywhere on this set. If you know what I'm saying.

O'BRIEN: It's too early for any eroticism, obviously. Maybe if you're working in prime time. But we're not.

CAFFERTY: Too early for badminton?

O'BRIEN: You know it's never a bad time for badminton is what I always say. If you guys didn't see this last night, we've got something to show you, some late, late show. Craig Kilborn the host of the crack of Saddam Hussein after the former dictator's appearance yesterday in court.


THE LATE, LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG KILBORN FROM CBS: Top story in 12 million angry men news, he may have terrorized Iraq for 30 years, but today Saddam Hussein was arraigned in front of a judge just like any other common criminal at a secret army base surrounded by hundreds of elite U.S. troops.

Saddam is being charged with genocide, invading Kuwait, and violating U.N. resolutions, and this is kind of weird, loitering. Ladies and gentlemen, he has a terrible alibi -- he says at the time the alleged genocide occurred, he was fishing with Scott Peterson. That's...


CAFFERTY: You could see that one coming. O'BRIEN: Yes, but kind of funny.

CAFFERTY: Yes, I saw that.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning -- thank God it's Friday. "90-Second Pop."

Nicole Kidman -- she's beautiful, she's famous and she's successful. But she says she still has one little problem when it comes to finding a date.

Plus, why the group TLC might want to ask "American Idol's" Simon Cowell for a few pointers. Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.



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