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Homeland Security: Intelligence Continues to Indicate al Qaeda Planning Major Attack Against U.S., Possibly to Affect Election

Aired July 13, 2004 - 07:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Bill Hemmer.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone on this Tuesday morning. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Heidi Collins. As you can see, Bill and Soledad are off this week.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Heidi just got back from a Prince concert. She's a little, still shaken up.

COLLINS: I'm -- my ears are still ringing just a little bit. I keep telling him to have to talk to me louder.

COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper. Some of the news making headlines this morning -- we're looking at terror threats starting to show up on the Internet, falling under that umbrella term chatter. Are these serious clues of an attack or just a form of psychological warfare? We'll talk to an expert about that.

COLLINS: Also, we have new poll numbers to break down this morning showing Senator John Kerry and President Bush in a head-to- head match up. We're going to look as those and also talk to Terry Holt, spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign to get his take on it.

COOPER: Also today, part two of our series on lying with the focus now on business, where the truth is often stretched just a little bit to protect companies or careers. Is there a different standard...


COOPER: ... yes, it's true -- for these business lies. We'll take a look at that.

COLLINS: Jack Cafferty joining us now, as always. Good morning, Jack.


Morgan Stanley agreed to pay out $54 million yesterday to settle a lawsuit that included charges that they discriminated when it came to the paychecks given to men versus women. The battle of the sexes over the bucks coming up a bit later.

COLLINS: Interesting. COOPER: Look forward to that. All right.

Homeland Security officials say intelligence continues to indicate that al Qaeda is planning a major attack against the U.S., possibly to affect the upcoming election. Now, part of that intelligence can be found in a very public forum on the Internet. Here's justice correspondent Kelli Arena.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Web site reads in part, "Oh, Allah destroy America and shake it."

This one says, "The decisive battle is approaching."

Such threats are not new to terror experts who scan hundreds of al Qaeda related Web sites daily, but recently some say there is more reason to worry. Experts say threats are coming with greater frequency and for more reliable sources.

EVAN KOHLMANN, GLOBALTERRORALERT.COM: A lot of the chatter that we're seeing is not coming from unidentified, unspecified sources on Internet chat boards. It's coming from the same sources that have predicted before terrorist acts that have actually occurred.

ARENA: One such source warned of attacks in Spain three months before the bombings there in March and distributed video of the beheading of American Nick Berg. It's called Global Islamic Media.

KOHLMANN: It's now saying that the death blows in the approaching battles are coming -- that the death blows are upon us. And that these death blows will not only be horrible, but that they are sure to happen.

ARENA: Some of the potential targets mentioned include hospitals, parks, airports and houses of worship.

GABRIEL WEIMANN, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE: You see many targets mentioned. And if you are involved in psychological warfare, you know that the more targets you mention, the more panic you cause and it will be harder to defend against attacks.

ARENA: What's more, Weimann says even if the postings are pure propaganda, they help terrorists accomplish their goal.

WEIMANN: I think al Qaeda knows that one of the most important values of terrorism is psychological impact. That is, you can widen the scope of the victims by enlarging it to the people who are affected psychologically.

ARENA (on camera): Officials are taking the web chatter very seriously and have reached out to a variety of experts for assistance. Many are convinced al Qaeda is prepared to strike and are intent on not missing any clues.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: In our next hour we'll talk with Evan Kohlmann of, who has seen, who we just saw on that report -- Heidi.

COLLINS: The war on terror was an issue addressed by both President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry yesterday. Senator Kerry spoke in Boston after the president made some comments in Tennessee.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And because America has led, the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat, and America and the world are safer.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not enough just to give speeches. America will only be safer when we get results.


COLLINS: Terry Holt is a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney 2004. He's joining us this morning from Washington to talk about Bush campaign strategy and some new polls that we are looking at.

Mr. Holt, good morning to you. Thanks for being here.


COLLINS: As you just heard, Senator Kerry seems to be suggesting that President Bush really has not made America safer. Your thoughts on that.

HOLT: Well, yesterday the president visited Oak Ridge, Tennessee to see the very tangible results of the war on terror. Being able to disarm Moammar Gadhafi and Libya is very important to break up the groups that sell and barter and trade in weapons of mass destruction and the materials required to make it.

The president's policies have put us in a place where we have this material coming in so that we can secure it. We have to remain vigilant. We have to continue to do our job in terms of homeland security.

John Kerry's words ring really hollow. John Kerry didn't even show up to vote to fund homeland security last year. Twenty-six billion this country committed to homeland security last summer -- he didn't show up for the vote.

So his words really are empty, whereas the results of the president's policies have netted real benefits to our country and to our security. COLLINS: You say that the words of Senator Kerry are empty, but according to a new Gallup poll, a majority of Americans say that it wasn't worth going to war in Iraq. You see those numbers there.

How will the president, in the continuing days, convince them otherwise?

HOLT: Well, we have to continue to make the case that by taking out the bad guys like Saddam Hussein. Remember he gassed his own people. He attacked his neighbors. He funded terrorists and launched scud missiles at Israel. We have to continue to go after these people and continue to do the job.

You know, the president has said many times that his first job is to protect this nation and protect its people and let the politics fall where it may.

And we have to continue to be vigilant to put security first. And that's why it's part of the campaign to talk about security because it's such a critical issue to our country at this time.

COLLINS: All right. Another poll here to look at. We said we were going to look at some numbers today, and we are doing just that.

CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll numbers are showing Kerry, as you see there, ahead of Bush 50 to 46 percent -- of course within that margin of error.

What do these numbers say to you? Is this still the Edwards' bounce? And if you think it is, how long do you think that will last?

HOLT: Well, I think July -- we've said over the last week or so that historically the Democrats or the party that nominates their vice presidential candidate gets about a 15-point bounce in the polls. They're within, you know, four or five or six points. So they really haven't accomplished their so-called bounce yet.

But in fact, July will be a good month for the Kerry campaign. They have this vice presidential pick, and then they have their convention at the end of the month. And we would expect them to have a pretty decent month.

But while we're doing that, the Kerry record, the Edwards' record in the United States Senate will be on view. And we'll continue to educate the American people about this out of the main stream agenda that these two men promote. And there will be some critical moments during July where they will have to square their record with the glowing rhetoric that we see them engaged in now.

COLLINS: Well, some people would say that right now for the Republican side of things, the majority of Americans would call the economy glowing, possibly. But their improved mood isn't really changing the approval rating of President Bush, looking again at our final number here.

His approval rating standing at 47 percent. Why is it that not more Americans are approving of him, at least on that topic?

HOLT: Well, I think that the war on terror, we've had a pretty tough year -- some, you know, some painful moments this year. But ultimately, the president's approval and whether or not we're successful in this election will be, will come down to having a bold agenda that the American people can really rally around and support.

You know, I can go through all of those accomplishments moving the economy from recession or recovery, fighting and winning the war on terror, but also, we're going to talk about how the president's modernized education and provided prescription drugs.

And we have to get that agenda before the American people in a positive way to show the president's optimistic vision. And then, I think, honestly, we have to compare that agenda to what the Kerry campaign is saying or claiming that they can do better.

And there are a lot of holes in that and a lot of contradictions in the Kerry agenda. And so, we'll continue to press that point. I think we also have to support the things that the American people believe strongly in, promoting American priorities and values, supporting our troops.

And there are some big differences between John Kerry, the Senator from Massachusetts and President Bush. The president's been very clear about his priorities. Kerry's waffled a bit.

COLLINS: All right. Mr. Terry Holt with the Bush-Cheney campaign. We appreciate your time this morning. Nice to see you.

HOLT: Thanks for having me.

COLLINS: Anderson.

COOPER: Bill Richardson, New Mexico governor and Democratic National Convention chairman will unveil some convention themes and speakers at a Washington news conference this morning. Earlier Governor Richardson told us a little of what we can expect at this year's convention.


GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: This is the first time that the American people really, really focus on the election and our objective here is to give them an interesting, diverse, exciting convention -- not like the old conventions where everybody gets up for three minutes and moves on.


COOPER: Well, we now know Bill Clinton is likely to be the speaker on the first night. The very big question is will Al Gore have a prime time speaking address.

You can see my full interview with Democratic National Convention Chairman Bill Richardson. That is coming up at just about 8 a.m. Eastern here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Well just as an embarrassing sex discrimination trial was about to begin, Morgan Stanley pays millions to keep it all out of the courtroom, not out of the press however. Christine Romans is here with more.

Good morning.


Just before opening arguments were set to begin, Morgan Stanley decided it didn't want to air all of its dirty laundry in court. It will pay $54 million to settle charges of sex discrimination, of denying women promotions and raises, and ignoring lewd and crude behavior among the men who work there.

The lead plaintiff, Allison Schieffelin gets $12 million. She said she was passed over for promotions just because she's a woman. And she had complained about male-only golf outings and strip club events. Of course she was excluded form those.

The EEOC brought this case and had two dozen women ready to tell their stories and testify against Morgan Stanley. The investment bank instead chose to just pay out $54 million rather to endure all that publicity.

And Morgan Stanley, we should point out, denies any wrongdoing. It promised the government it's going to spend more money on diversity programs. And Anderson, it's going to train its managers how to deal with pregnancy and maternity leave issues -- sensitivity there, among other things.

COOPER: There are still a number of high-profile suits of this kind. Wal-Mart is being sued, aren't they?

ROMANS: Absolutely, 1.6 million -- a class action suit -- 1.6 million women in that class action suit, the largest of it's kind. That is set to -- we'll know more about that July 28. But that's also a very big, high-profile sex discrimination suit.

That suit is about women who couldn't be managers if they couldn't pick up a 50-pound bag of dog food. Well, obviously that's going to exclude a lot of people.

COOPER: That was one of the rules for being a manager?

ROMANS: Some of these women are alleging that some of the rules for being a manager were doing things that obviously they couldn't do and that excluded women altogether.

Also, Merrill Lynch just had an arbitration panel award a woman $2.2 million. And Merrill Lynch and Solomon Smith Barney over the past years have paid out $200 million to women.

So, you can say that maybe the work environment is getting better for women, but, you know, right now we have got several cases right in front of us that are showing it is very expensive to exclude women from management ranks.

COOPER: Fascinating. Christine Romans, thanks very much.


COOPER: Heidi?

COLLINS: Wild weather around the country. A blinding dust storm hit the Phoenix area. Huge walls of dust brought rain and heavy winds yesterday. So far, there are no reports of severe damage.

Look at that cloud.

The National Weather Service says the area could get more of the same today.

And heavy rains flooded streets in northeastern Maryland. The deluge left about a dozen people homeless as flood waters rose as high as five feet in the streets.

Fire crews rescued stranded motorists. Police were urging people to stay put until the water recedes. No injuries there either, thankfully.


COOPER: It is just about 15 minutes past the hour. Following a number of headlines this morning. For those and others let's check in with Daryn Kagan down in Atlanta. Good morning, Daryn.

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

Let's start in Iraq. That is where there have been a number of explosions in Baghdad. A patrol of the U.S. Army's first calvary division was struck by two hand grenades in central Baghdad. There were no casualties. In the southeastern part of the capital, three Iraqi civilians were hurt by an explosion at a work site.

Word of the possible release of a Filipino being held hostage in Iraq. A source in the Philippine embassy telling CNN that the government would withdraw its troops from Iraq, but it is not clear when. In return the kidnappers say they will release the Filipino truck driver as early as today. Militants had threatened to behead the hostage if the Philippines did not agree to pull out troops.

In health news a new warning for heart patients and their cholesterol levels. Officials pointing to new guidelines for so- called for bad cholesterol. That's the stuff known as LDL. High-risk heart patients are being urged to drastically lower their level to 70.

The previous guideline was up at 100. That recommendation appears in the American Heart Association journal called "Circulation."

The debate over same-sex marriage continues this morning. Senate Republicans can not agree on how best to get a vote on constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. So now there are two versions of the proposal. A procedural vote is expected to take place tomorrow.

And what a mess. Overnight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, power was being restored in stages after an electrical explosion blacked out two terminals yesterday. Dozens of flights were delayed. Two workers were injured.

Luckily the airports control towers were not affected. But the big headache, electricity was cut at many security checkpoints. That forced screeners to check passengers and baggage by hand. Heidi, that also meant when you went to get your luggage it was just on a big cart. You had to go through a big pile.

And the potties were not working in many of the terminals. I guess they're electric. So, ooh, ooh, ooh.

COLLINS: Yes, those attack toilets that we always see at the airport.

KAGAN: Yes. There was no attacking and no flushing happening there.

COLLINS: Lovely. All right, Daryn thanks so much for that. We'll check back with you a little later on.

In the meantime, lies. They are at the heart of the headline grabbing business scandals -- Enron, WorldCom, ImClone. This morning we continue a week-long series exploring "The Truth About Lying" with a look at how and why lies are told in business.


COLLINS (voice-over): You could say Barry Minkow was a pioneer in the business world.

BARRY MINKOW, FORMER OWNER ZZZZ BEST: We were the first company, really, to lie to the auditors and get clean opinions from three different auditing firms to inflate earnings and not disclose all the debt.

COLLINS: At 16 Minkow started a carpet cleaning company. By age 20 he had a $240 million company and was referred to as a whiz kid of Wall Street.

And at 23 was sentenced to 25 years in prison for defrauding investors of $26 million.

MINKOW: I was a crook and, you know, although I started it with the best of intentions, the company ran into financial difficulty. And I lied and cheated to keep it running.

COLLINS: What Barry Minkow did resembles the recent accusations against many high-profile corporations. Lying about what you earn and owe to make more money.

According to Minkow right and wrong is something different in the business world.

MINKOW: Right equals forward motion and wrong is anybody who gets in my way.

COLLINS: That says author David Callahan is because the cheating culture sometimes makes it necessary to lie to get ahead.

DAVID CALLAHAN, AUTHOR, "THE CHEATING CULTURE": Lawyers will say, hey, everybody in my firm is over billing. If I don't also pad my hours, I'm not going to be considered for partner. I'm not going to get a bonus. I'm not going to get ahead in the firm.

COLLINS: In many cases Callahan says we are cheating and lying more. Tax invasion has more than doubled since 1990 to $250 billion a year. And he says, workplace theft totaled $600 billion a year.

CALLAHAN: If you're not cheating, then you're not playing by the real rules; you're playing by an abstract moral code that has no relevance in today's society.

MINKOW: We have to sleep at night, too. We don't want to look at ourselves at parties as a big con men. It's a means to an end.

COLLINS: And in the end Barry Minkow paid for his crime. Today he works to prevent others from getting swindled. His Fraud Discovery Institute has help law enforcement agencies uncover more than $1 billion worth of fraud.

MINKOW: You'd have to have been there and done that to know what to test for.

I think most CEOs are honest. Some are not on a witch hunt. But every one of them is going to be tempted at one time in their business life.


COLLINS: We'll continue our series on "The Truth About Lying" tomorrow with a look at an issue in the news lately, military interrogations and how interrogators get at the truth -- Anderson?

COOPER: Vice President Dick Cheney spent the day yesterday campaigning in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. And last night he lightheartedly explained how he compares with the Democrats' likely choice for vice president. Take a look.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITES STATES: Somebody said to me the other day that Senator Edwards got picked for his good looks and charm. And I said, how do you think I got this job?


CHENEY: Why is that funny?


COOPER: The vice president lent his support to several Republicans including congressional candidate Scott Paterno, son of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

COLLINS: Still to come this morning -- It's good to have a back- up plan, but if the election gets delayed because of terrorism, is it really just protection for President Bush?

COOPER: Also ahead, the judge in the Scott Peterson trial is getting pretty upset. We're going to have a live report from Redwood City, California to tell you why.

COLLINS: Plus, the search is on in Florida after Tarzan's tiger goes missing.

It's all ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


COLLINS: Arguably, one of our most alarming stories of the day. Tarzan's tiger is on the loose in Florida. Officials in Palm Beach County plan to resume their search this morning for the 6-year-old tiger that escaped from the home of an actor who once played Tarzan.

Nearby residents were asked to stay indoors yesterday as wildlife officers armed with tranquilizer guns searched for the big cat.

Steve Sipek, better known as Steve Hawkes when he did Tarzan in several 1960s movies has another tiger, two lions, a black leopard and a cougar.

COOPER: I think Steve Hawkes is Jack Cafferty's favorite Tarzan of all the Tarzan's that have been really since Johnny Weissmuller.

CAFFERTY: You're so perceptive.

COOPER: Yes. That's why you have that prime time program at night.

COLLINS: That's right.

CAFFERTY: That "360" situation.

The nation's second largest securities firm Morgan Stanley agreed yesterday to pay $54 million to settle several sex bias claims, including charges of unequal pay based on gender.

According to the "Washington Post" and the Bush White House, women earn about 78 percent of what men do. And as it happens, that's almost exactly the national average for the gap in pay between the sexes.

This represents an increase of just 1 percent a year since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963. That would be 41 years ago. Women were paid 59 cents on the dollar back then. The question is this, this morning: Why are men still making more money than women?

Let's solve this thing.

COLLINS: If anybody gets a check at the end of the segment, it will be me, right?

COOPER: Really?

COLLINS: Some sort of bonus check, right?

COOPER: I'd say.

CAFFERTY: Don't you make more -- I think you probably make more than Anderson and I combined.

COLLINS: Sure. Sure.

CAFFERTY: Would be my guess.

COLLINS: Yes, right.

COOPER: One person who is making an awful lot of money these days is Ken Jennings. He is this close to winning $1 million. His record 29 wins, so far, on "Jeopardy" have made him a celebrity and about $27,000 short of $1 million.

Last night he read the top ten list on "Late Night With David Letterman." The category was how to irate "Jeopardy" host -- how to irritate, excuse me, clearly -- "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek.


KEN JENNINGS, "JEOPARDY" CONTESTANT: Give Courtney Love directions to his house.



JENNINGS: Complain that he's not nearly as Trebeky in person.


LETTERMAN: And the number one way to irritate Alex Trebek.

JENNINGS: Insist on buying a vowel.

LETTERMAN: Yes, that will do it right there.


COOPER: As a former "Jeopardy" champion, I can tell you Alex Trebek does hate it when you insist on buying a vowel. COLLINS: Yes, I can imagine.

COOPER: Hey look. There I am. That's right before my massive "Jeopardy" win.

COLLINS: You are such a rock star.

COOPER: Although I've got to -- I must admit...

COLLINS: Twenty-eight hundred bucks.

COOPER: No, no, no. That was like in the early going. That was after the first question.


COOPER: I must admit though that it was like dumbed down celebrity version of "Jeopardy." So I really can't claim that much credit.

COLLINS: Yes, but we've done this with you before on this set and asked you questions, and you've been right.


COLLINS: You are a marvel.

COOPER: Well, I'm ready to take on that Jennings guy, not Peter Jennings but Ken Jennings, the "Jeopardy" champion guy. I could take him on.

COLLINS: He is supposed to be a little bit annoying, though.

COOPER: What, really?

COLLINS: Can you be annoying?

COOPER: I'm a nerd just like everybody else. I can do that.

COLLINS: All right, very good. We are moving right along this morning.

Still to come today, the very latest in the Scott Peterson trial. Amber Frey is supposed to be the prosecution's star witness, so why hasn't she taken the stand? A live report ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



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