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AMERICAN MORNING

9/11 Report to be Unveiled Today; Terror Ready?; 'Political Pop'

Aired July 22, 2004 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also, "Political Pop" coming this morning, talking about this bumper sticker calling John Kerry "bin Laden's man." GOP organizers regret this one. We'll talk about that as well.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: You got it. "Political Pop" is going to be popping in a couple of minutes here.

COLLINS: Right.

HEMMER: In the meantime, the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks is unveiling its final report a few hours from now. It has been an exhaustive effort on behalf of the men and women in Washington.

Sean Callebs in D.C. at the Department of Commerce, where that report will be released.

Sean -- good morning there.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.

The four hours and counting before 20 months of investigation and work by this commission will be detailed. And to give you an idea of just how large this report will be, we have some video of it running off the presses, some 575 pages.

Of course, the commission was charged with connecting the dots, finding out blaring errors in our national security system. But in the end, the commission does not find fault for the Bush and Clinton administrations.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CALLEBS (voice over): The independent commission has targeted some of its harshest criticism at the way U.S. intelligence is gathered and disseminated. Members are expected to call for a new cabinet-level intelligence chief and to recommend major changes in how the CIA and FBI operate.

MATT LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE ON NEAR EAST: We don't really have a director of central intelligence right now, despite the fact that the head of the CIA is given the term. That person has no control over what the FBI does, with very few exceptions.

CALLEBS: And at the same time, sources say the commission wants to create a new national counterterrorism center to better coordinate security threat information. Sources say the report will list 10 missed opportunities to stop the 9/11 plot during both the Clinton and Bush administrations, and concludes that instead of using military muscle against the growing threat of al Qaeda, the Clinton and Bush administrations relied too heavily on diplomatic channels. Still, don't expect the bipartisan panel to point fingers.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: It's about assigning blame. It's about preventing any future acts of terrorism to our country.

CALLEBS: Sources say the commission will state once again that it found no collaborative relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. The 9/11 Commission needed an additional two months to complete its job, in part, it contends, because the White House and other agencies hampered access to documents and information.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Sources familiar with the report say the recommendations coming out will come out in a unanimous form. That is significant, because this 10-person panel has gone to great lengths to take politics out of its work.

Congress will also be under intense pressure to make reforms and make them quickly. However, many congressional leaders say it is late in the year, and they will not be forced into making some knee-jerk reaction to overhaul our security system -- Bill.

HEMMER: Sean Callebs in Washington -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Is America prepared for another terrorist attack? One Coast Guard veteran says we definitely are not. Stephen Flynn says food and water, population centers and ports are more vulnerable now than ever. In fact, he's written a book called "America the Vulnerable: How our Government is Failing to Protect us From Terrorism." Stephen Flynn is with us now.

Good morning to you. Thanks for being here.

STEPHEN FLYNN, AUTHOR, "AMERICA, THE VULNERABLE": Good morning.

COLLINS: I want to start with some of these sobering statistics that you found. Let's go ahead and put them on the screen first. In 2002, over 400 million people, 122 million cars, 11 million trucks, 2.4 million rail freight cars, approximately 8 million maritime containers and nearly 60,000 vessels came into the United States at more than 3,700 terminals and 301 ports of entry. That's a lot of things in a lot of places to control.

FLYNN: Right.

COLLINS: What about this?

FLYNN: Well, we have a huge challenge in that. One of our ironies is that we the most powerful society in the world, but we're also the most open one. And one of the things we haven't come to grips with since 9/11 is that national security can no longer just be managed away by war and terrorism overseas. Increasingly, our adversaries, our enemies, are having to adapt by looking at where are our vulnerabilities, and that's what they target.

And what they're targeting ultimately is our openness, the infrastructure that underpins our society, not just airplanes, but ultimately they're going to hit energy grids, pipelines, food supplies and so forth. They're at war with us. This is not just about political acts to make a statement. This is about how you tear down U.S. power.

And we've lived in the most peaceful corner of the world for two centuries...

COLLINS: Right.

FLYNN: ... friendly neighbors to the north and south, big oceans to the east and west. And we've treated national security as an out- of-body thing. And we go about our lives pursuing happiness without putting basic things in place.

The book is scary in that I document some real lapses in security still post-9/11. It's been a long time coming. I mean, again, we have to focus on this. But I also offer a lot of hope. There are practical things that we can be doing that are not just good for security, they make sense for everyday other challenges, like public health and issues like that. We have SARS and the flu that will come. Having a public health service so they can detect disease makes sense, because we have a bioterror threat now, but also because even when it's not driven by terrorism, we need that capability.

COLLINS: I want to get to some of the solutions, some of those realistic solutions, we should say, in just a moment. But if you had the opportunity to point out the most vulnerable area of this country, what would it be?

FLYNN: It's not ports, per se. Ports are on-ramps and off- ramps. It's the things that come in and out of ports which are containers is my biggest worry. These are the things that carry virtually everything that ends up our shelves in places like Wal-Mart or assembly lines. We live in what we call a just-in-time world. There aren't any warehouses anymore. It's in the transportation system.

My fear is that we haven't put much security in that system. So, a dirty bomb could come in. But that's not that as much of a problem as our reaction to it. If a dirty bomb goes off or more than one, then the response would be to shut everything down. That's what the U.S. government's plan is, to shut things down to sort it out.

COLLINS: And how realistic is that?

FLYNN: Well, it's what they're going to do. This is the plan. But they have no plan to restore it.

COLLINS: Right.

FLYNN: You know, it's like the electrical companies, we had a blackout in New York in August. All of the lights went out a year ago. And you can't just start it back up. You have to have a plan and protocols. A basic thing I'm suggesting is you assume there's a threat and that there is a vulnerability. And the CIA has said the most likely way a weapon of mass destruction would come into a country is in the seaport. That you at least would have a plan if you had to turn off the ports to turn it back on again. We haven't developed that yet.

Those are the kinds of glaring problems. So, it's not just protecting for the threat. It's how you respond. Can you do it in the same way?

COLLINS: Sure. Because when we talk about our borders, too -- I mean, sure, close off all of the borders is not very realistic. And then what do you do after that?

FLYNN: Yes. And it gets a little silly sometimes, too. You know, we don't really need to protect the border with Canada. The Canadians are not trying to take the 49th Parallel from us. And many of the things that we need like pipelines and natural gas and energy is on the other side of the border. What we need is cooperation with the Canadians on intelligence-sharing and other kinds of things.

So, one of the points I try to make as well is that while there are critical networks we need to protect, they're often global networks. And we have to recast our thinking away from domestic- focused homeland security and the national security is still all about military and intelligence. The most likely targets are the things we depend upon.

The United States this year will spend more than 30 nations combined on conventional military capability. That's an extraordinary number.

COLLINS: It sure is.

FLYNN: And what that means is that our adversaries are changing. What we saw on 9/11 is that warfare will be fought against the United States in the foreseeable future. And we need to adapt to that reality.

COLLINS: Well, it's a very interesting read, a little frightening, but one that we should be thinking about at least. Stephen Flynn, we appreciate your time very much. Again, the name of the book, "America, the Vulnerable."

FLYNN: Thank you for having me, Heidi.

COLLINS: Thanks.

I want to let you know, you can stay with CNN for more on the state of the country's terror readiness. We, of course, are going to have the 9/11 Commission report is coming up and a news conference on that this morning at 11:30 a.m. Eastern -- Bill.

HEMMER: Heidi, thanks. Twenty-two minutes now before the hour. In a moment, new information already today about how the U.S. may have let more than a dozen of Osama bin Laden's relatives slip out of the country. We'll get to that.

Also, it's one sight that some of the world's greatest cyclists are now used to. It's the back of Lance Armstrong. He is closer to history today.

Plus, you are what you watch, or at least that's what the Bush and Kerry campaigns think. "Political Pop" is stirring it up a bit later here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER BREAK)

COLLINS: We're going to check in with Jack now. He's got the "Question of the Day."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Operations praising in Iraq and Afghanistan are running $12.5 billion over budget this year, according to the GAO. "The Washington Post" reports that in order to make up for the shortage, they are delaying the refurbishment of military equipment. They're grounding Air Force and Navy pilots. And they're canceling training exercises.

And there aren't enough soldiers either. "The New York Times" reports the Army is being forced to call up next year's recruits this year, a year early. This is in a country with a $10 trillion annual economy and a defense budget of almost $500 billion a year.

So, where's the money going? What should be done about the military's manpower and money shortages? Don't we know, we touched a nerve when we asked this little deal this morning.

Jeff in Mitchell, South Dakota: "I don't think we need to change anything in the numbers of troops or funding. What we need to do is stop being the world's police force, start looking at the big picture before committing our troops and don't allow a president to pursue personal agendas."

Eric in Dallas: "Simply put, a new broom sweeps better than an old one. With Bush out, I think the shortages will be a surplus within no time with Kerry as president."

Tom in Lake Villa, Illinois: "If we could get the president to stop using the military for his own personal vendettas, we wouldn't need more personnel or a bigger military budget."

And Jim in Miramar Beach, Florida: "Shock and awe. Shock the wealth with a repeal of the tax cuts. Awe our troops with a pay raise."

AM@CNN.com. It's just obscene that we even have to do a story like this almost three years after September 11.

HEMMER: Three and a half months to go before November 2. You have the economy out there, but this one is a big one, too.

CAFFERTY: You know what? Somebody wrote in saying that every incumbent ought to be voted out of office in this country in the November elections -- Republican, Democrat, Independent. Just vote them all out and send a message that it's enough already with the special interests and the, you know, my pork barrel, my constituency. The hell with the big picture. Let me just protect my re-election chances. It's not a bad idea.

COLLINS: All right, Jack, thanks a lot.

Still to come this morning, a busy and violent day in Iraq's volatile Sunni Triangle. We'll have the latest from Iraq right after the break here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Forty-six minutes past the hour now. It's time for a look at some of today's other news with Fredricka Whitfield.

Hi -- Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Heidi.

We begin in Iraq. U.S. troops killed two dozen insurgents in a day-long battle yesterday in the city of Ramadi. More than a dozen Americans were wounded, none seriously.

Meanwhile, new video has been released of a group of hostages in Iraq. Seven individuals from Kenya, Egypt and India are seen on that tape. That's up from six seen yesterday. The captors are threatening to behead one every 72 hours unless those nations pull their citizens out of Iraq.

We now have surveillance video showing some 9/11 hijackers before they boarded a plane just outside of D.C. The five hijackers can be seen passing through a security checkpoint at Dulles International Airport the morning of the attacks. Some of them set off metal detectors. Then two of the hijackers were searched with hand-held metal detectors. All five were cleared and boarded American Airlines Flight 77. That plane that crashed into the Pentagon, killing 189 people.

Word this morning that at least 13 of Osama bin Laden's relatives were allowed to leave the U.S. on a chartered flight eight days after the 9/11 attacks. "The Washington Post" says that's according to a passenger manifest released yesterday by New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg. Lautenberg tells the paper the flight began in Los Angeles and made six stops before arriving in Saudi Arabia.

In Utah, the in-laws of a missing pregnant jogger say their son had lied to them about his plans. Family members were told that the couple planned to move to North Carolina next week, where Mark Hacking would attend medical school. But records show Hacking is not enrolled in school there. Meanwhile, the search for his wife, Lori, continues.

And finally, a Florida woman is in critical condition this morning after an alligator attack. The 12-foot gator was killed by police yesterday after it dragged the woman into a pond. Witnesses say they tried to pull the victim off its mouth for five minutes before succeeding. The woman's right arm had to be partially amputated because of severe damage.

And now back to you -- Heidi.

HEMMER: Actually, it's Bill, but that's OK, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: OK, Bill.

HEMMER: Thirty minutes ago we talked about Lance Armstrong, right?

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HEMMER: An amazing story right now. He's on track, as you know, to winning an unprecedented sixth straight tour, if he continues to do as well as he has done over the next four stages. He made his way through a tough course yesterday, nine miles uphill, won the time trial, folks cheering him on, about a million-plus. At the end of the day, a special -- a little special attention from his girlfriend, singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow. She's following in the chase car throughout the entire race, we're told.

And for today's part of the race, Lance will cycle a 126-mile stage, again in the Alps, eastern France.

Coming up next hour here of AM, we'll talk about Lance's amazing success, the co-author of his book is called "It's Not about the Bike." We'll talk to her next hour here.

Thirty-nine minutes, straight uphill, 10,000 feet. No cyclist in the field finished under 40 minutes, except for Lance Armstrong.

COLLINS: That guy's lung capacity and the size of his heart, huge.

HEMMER: Yes?

COLLINS: Like bigger than anybody in the world.

HEMMER: Yes? Like a whale.

COLLINS: Yes. He breathes well in those hills for sure.

HEMMER: Go, Lance, go.

COLLINS: Still to come this morning, the election is just a few months away, as you know. Political bumper stickers, though, are popping up now. But there's one out there about John Kerry that Democrats say is way over the line. And even at least one Republican is apologizing for it. "Political Pop" next on AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Welcome back, everyone. Time for "Political Pop" today. These three can't wait until Boston -- well, two of the three can't, anyway. On the left, Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers.

Good morning, first timer.

KIRSTEN POWERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good morning. Yes, this is exciting.

HEMMER: Holding the middle, Andy Borowitz, BorowitzReport.com.

Are you excited, Andy?

ANDY BOROWITZ, BOROWITZREPORT.COM: I'm stoked.

HEMMER: As always.

On the right, say hello to Mark Simone, back with us, radio talk show host here in New York -- New York City, rather.

Good morning, Mark.

MARK SIMONE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Good morning.

HEMMER: Why don't we start with you? There was a speech the president gave this week. He called himself the peace president...

SIMONE: Yes.

HEMMER: ... as opposed to a wartime president, which is a strange -- it's a change in strategy, anyway. What do you make of this?

SIMONE: Well, maybe he saw how well Kerry was doing, and he said I'll try this flip-flopping. Maybe it works. You know what it is? I think it's taking the emphasis off the war, because next week you've got the convention, where Kerry will attempt to set the world record for seeing how many times he can mention he's a veteran. So, I think it's just a change of the focus of this.

HEMMER: Does he want to change the focus and take it off the war?

POWERS: I think it's more like the Bush, you know, "Alice in Wonderland," what's up, what's down strategy, where they just say things that aren't true. And so, he'll just say over and over he's a peace president, and eventually maybe he'll convince people that it's true.

SIMONE: Well, actually, you know, it's out of his father's playbook. Remember, the kindler, gentler Bush.

BOROWITZ: Right.

SIMONE: It sounds like it's something like that.

HEMMER: Yes. Andy, do you think so?

BOROWITZ: I think they did a focus group and they found out, wait a minute. People like peace better than war. And there's a hot marketing trend. Let's hop on that.

HEMMER: Survey says. I thought the better line in that speech was, I'm not a lawyer. That's the other team.

Next topic, Kirsten, let's talk about these bumper stickers. Jefferson County, Kentucky, the area of Louisville, Kentucky, says "Kerry is bin Laden's man. Bush is mine."

POWERS: Yes.

HEMMER: Apparently they sold out.

POWERS: Yes. Well, you know, I think that what's amazing to me about this is that I feel like if the Democrats had done this and the Democratic Party had done this, it would have been like -- I mean, first of all, breaking news on Fox. It would have been the front -- you know, the next thing you'd know it would be on the front page of "The New York Times." And like we've barely even heard about this, you know.

HEMMER: Did she say Fox or socks? Are we going back to that argument again? Go ahead, Mark.

SIMONE: Well, it's just a joke, first of all. And all hell has broken loose. Think about the hypocrisy of this. Michael Moore makes a film claiming that Bush and his father are in business with the bin Laden's involved in a diabolical conspiracy, and that's not over the line?

BOROWITZ: The guy who is -- the guy who is hopping mad about this bumper sticker is Osama, because he has endorsed neither candidate. He's waiting for the debate.

HEMMER: He's waiting for that survey, too.

BOROWITZ: I know.

HEMMER: There was an online ad, I don't know if you saw it. I think it was on "The Drudge Report."

SIMONE: Yes.

HEMMER: It said 10 out of 10 terrorists prefer John Kerry to be president.

BOROWITZ: Wow!

HEMMER: A take-off with the Chick-fil-A, where the cows come out and say 10 out of 10 cows prefer chicken. SIMONE: And there are a lot of these jokes -- this joke has been sent all over the Internet for months. How come we're just hearing about this in Kentucky now?

HEMMER: A good question. All right? We're on the phone with Louisville.

Andy, a new study tracks the television shows where Bush and Kerry are placing their ads. Interesting. The president prefers "NYPD Blue," "Law & Order," and "Jag." Senator Kerry prefers "Ellen," "David Letterman" and "Judge Judy."

BOROWITZ: And "Dr. Phil," too, I think. I heard that as well.

HEMMER: That was on the list, right?

BOROWITZ: Yes, it's interesting. Well, it's really an expensive decision to advertise on "Law & Order," because there are now, I think, 45 different spin-offs of "Law & Order." So, that's just that Bush has so much money he can afford to do that. But interestingly, they didn't mention Ralph Nader, but Ralph Nader actually is avoiding the reality shows, because apparently his supporters do not like reality. So, that's been an interesting trend as well.

HEMMER: Here is something to think about. Kerry is going for single women. Bush is going for Republican women.

POWERS: Yes, yes, yes. I mean, this is a very clear strategy. I mean, he's going -- you know, Kerry is doing the daytime shows with the women going after all of the -- the woman vote, which is going to swing this election. And Bush is going after what I guess is more conservative voters. It must be the reason he's doing it. You know, more maybe some of the married women and the security moms and those kinds of people.

BOROWITZ: And he's already got 10 out of 10 terrorists, so he's not putting on nothing on Al Jazeera at all.

SIMONE: You know, run it where you've got your most supporters. Bush is running a lot on prime-time. Kerry is running ads on French television. So...

HEMMER: Both campaigns have spent $180 million, and it's only July 22. That's the story. And they're going to be advertising on "Fresh Prince" very soon, too, are they not?

BOROWITZ: Oh, that's good. That's good news.

HEMMER: Nice to see you all, OK? And we'll see you two in Boston.

SIMONE: Thanks.

HEMMER: Mark, take care.

Here's Heidi again -- Heidi. COLLINS: Still to come this morning, with the 9/11 panel set to the release its final report in just a few hours, we'll talk to someone who thinks the timing of the Sandy Berger document scandal is a little suspicious. Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.

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