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Prosecution of Lynndie England Continues; 11-year-old Attacked By Shark Off Coast Of Texas

Aired August 4, 2004 - 14:30   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS: In the news now, you heard it on CNN just minutes ago. CNN has learned from two senior U.S. government sources that there's evidence someone in the U.S. was contacted by suspected al Qaeda operatives. Intelligence shows that contact happened in the past few months. No word on what form of communication that that was.
Both President Bush and John Kerry brought their campaigns to Davenport, Iowa today. That campaign convergence highlights the efforts of both candidates to capture the battleground state. Kerry's rally was first taking place several blocks from where the president appeared.

Richard Smith pleaded guilty today to manslaughter charges in last October's deadly Staten Island ferry crash. Eleven commuters were killed and Smith, who was piloting that ferry says he was on medication when he passed out at the controls.

There could be a change in Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case. According to the alleged victim's attorney, that woman accusing Bryant could drop out of the case. The attorney cites mistakes made by court officials. He says the woman might file a civil lawsuit instead.

Fellow reserve members of a soldier charged in the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib are testifying at a preliminary hearing. CNN national correspondent Bob Franken is covering that hearing at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Bob, what are they saying?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well first, I just want to take this chronologically and point out that 15 of the 19 charges against Private First Class Lynndie England have to do with alleged indecent acts, sexual activity. And much of the discussion today came from colleagues of hers in the 372nd military unit about the fact that they had problems with that and problems with her work record as a result of what they said was a relationship with Corporal Charles Graner who is identified by Lynndie England's attorney as the father of her baby. She is seven months pregnant.

The testimony for the most part came over a speakerphone today, in fact for the entire part thus far. A different telephone, questioning by members of the 372nd who have just returned from Iraq this week. They are now at Fort Lee, Virginia. Perhaps the testimony that is of greatest impact has to do with the allegations of abuse of the prisoners and claims by many in the 372nd that military intelligence officials had directed them to rough up the prisoners.

A couple of items. The man who was in charge, Sergeant First Class Shannon Styles who -- Shannon Snider rather who was in charge, the noncommissioned officer in charge, of the particular prison tier where most of the alleged abuse took place was asked by prosecutors, were there ever any orders from military intelligence to, quote, soften up the prisoners. Quote, no, sir, I never got that order nor did MI every approach us, he said -- excuse me -- to strip a detainee nude.

Now, of course, these are some of the fundamental discussions that have gone on about the motivations for the prison abuse. We're also told that among the witnesses today will be Specialist Joseph Darby. He's the one who is considered the whistle blower, the one who originally took a CD with the photographs and slipped them to higher ups. We're expecting that the testimony will continue late into the day, all by telephone, all from members of the 372nd -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Bob Franken, live from Fort Bragg, thank you.

And so far only a few low ranking soldiers including Private England are up on charges for Iraqi abuse at Abu Ghraib. Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre updates us now on the record so far in the military's investigation and what questions remain.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been eight months since the military first disclosed it was investigating prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and still no one knows how high up the chain of command responsibility rests.

SEN. BEN NELSON (D) NEBRASKA: Can you assure this committee and the American public that we will not only have gotten to the bottom of it, but we've also gotten to the top of it when it goes to the highest uniformed officer or highest civilian officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I can assure you that these matters are under investigation.

McINTYRE: But a report by the Army inspector general released in late July concludes the abuses were just the unauthorized actions taken by a few individuals coupled with the failure of a few leaders to provide adequate supervision. That drew howls of whitewash from skeptical members of Congress.

SEN. JACK REED (D) RHODE ISLAND: It seems to me that this is just again reinforcing the conclusion that there were five or six aberrant soldiers. I don't think you've done the job that you have to do.

McINTYRE: The Army's IG says his review was an inspection, not an investigation of specific incidents or individuals. It did not, for example, attempt to confirm whether so-called ghost detainees were hidden from the international Red Cross as found by an earlier Army probe.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R) ARIZONA: If we didn't investigate a gross and egregious violation such as that, I'm curious what else you didn't investigate.

McINTYRE: Human rights groups say the U.S. continues to act as though it has something to hide.

ELISA MASSIMINO, HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: I think the fact that the Pentagon continues to refuse the International Red Cross access to all the prisoners it is holding, means that there is conduct going on in those interrogations that the government doesn't want the Red Cross to see or stop.

McINTYRE: The Pentagon argues five other investigations still under way will answer all questions. The key probe looking at whether military intelligence officers encouraged or condoned the abuse is still not complete. It will determine if Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, who was the top commander in Iraq, authorized the use of unmuzzled dogs to intimidate naked prisoners, something he vehemently denies.

Several Pentagon officials familiar with the investigation expect more soldiers, including some officers to be charged once the last investigation is done. But no one seems to think that the culpability will extend to the top levels of the Department of Defense. Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


PHILLIPS: It's been almost eight months since Saddam Hussein was pulled from his spider hole in Iraq. For the first time hear directly from someone who was there.

And do you long to be the next American idol? Your 15 minutes of fame start right now.

Or if you'd prefer to be your own boss, all you need to do is get a few bucks and a taste for ice cream.


PHILLIPS: Those photographs hang in some of the world's most prestigious museums and are coveted by collectors all over the world. Henri Cartier-Bresson -- these are some of the photos, you might recognize them -- originally aspired to be a painter but luckily fate intervened. He traveled the world for more than 50 years and shot for "Life," "Vogue" and "Harpers Bazaar," but many of his most striking images are of ordinary people, not the famous. French media reports that Cartier-Bresson died today at the age of 95.

Other news around the world, if the U.S. absolutely, positively has to get to the International Space Station, well, Russia says it is happy to deliver for a fee. Russia and the U.S. were splitting the cost of getting staff and materials to the space station but since NASA grounded the space shuttle last year, all trips have been on Soyuz spacecraft.

In Beijing police rush to a prominent local kindergarten where they say a gate keeper brutally attacked students and teachers earlier today. At least 15 children and three teachers were slashed with a knife. Official Chinese media say one child was killed, two others seriously wounded.

A day of raging street battles in Mosul, 12 Iraqis reported killed in clashes between police and insurgents. Two others killed by roadside bombs. Local authorities impose a curfew to help restore calm. That curfew is due to be lifted tomorrow.

From music and video stores and television screens across Iraq, the battle for public opinion rages between insurgents and the new Iraqi government. CNN's Matthew chance explains.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sound track of a nation in chaos. Behind the violence in Iraq, a propaganda war is being waged and these resistant songs as they are called set to images of the insurgency are the ammunition.

TRANSLATOR: Some of the CDs show tanks being hit or pictures of dead Americans to songs in the background. They make people hate the Americans. Many young men join the resistance when they see and hear them.

CHANCE: In stores, the chants and ballads outsell Iraqi love songs. The violent lyrics not minority views, but mainstream opinion openly discussed in this Baghdad coffee shop.

MEHDI SARHAN, COFFEE SHOP PATRON: In my opinion every person with honor should resist this occupation, says Mehdi Sarhan. His friend Mohammed (ph) complains that the occupation is not really ended. Nothing good has come of it he says despite the promises. On Baghdad street there are billboards promoting the government but for many the country's new leaders have much to prove.

But now the government does have a tune of its own, the musical theme for a government series of slick TV commercials. This one about reconstruction. There's a soccer match featured too. The kids' names are Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni, all Iraqis on the same team -- a vision for the country the government says it can deliver even if it is taking time for some to realize it.

MOFFAWAK AL-RUBIAE, INTERIM IRAQI NATL SEC. ADVISER: We were blind folded for 35 years. You can't suddenly remove that blind fold and now you don't know where (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- you are confused. You can't see properly. You can't visualize things properly.

CHANCE: And in the chaos of the new Iraq all sides are now competing to get their message seen and heard and sung. If the popularity of these resistance songs is anything to go by, then it seems right now the insurgents may have the upper hand and the challenge for the new Iraq interim government is to get the people who are listening to this music to literally change their tune. Matthew Chance, CNN, Baghdad.


PHILLIPS: It was a high stakes get (ph) broadcast around the world but few details have surfaced about December's capture of Saddam Hussein. Now one of the men who helped pull the former dictator from his underground hiding place is telling his story to CNN. Samir was working as a translator for U.S. special forces when they found Saddam.


SAMIR, HELPED CAPTURE SADDAM HUSSEIN: I look at him and I knew that is Saddam from his face. That was Saddam. And I told them, this is Saddam. They didn't believe me at first. They said -- ask his name.

And I said this is Saddam. They said, no, ask him. And I asked him what is your name? First he said -- what is your name? He said I'm Saddam. Then Saddam what? I had to -- yell at him. He said I'm Saddam Hussein.


PHILLIPS: To get full details on what it was like to nab one of the world's most wanted men, be sure to tune in tonight to CNN's Paula Zahn now. It airs at 8:00 Eastern.

The pressure is on for thousands of pop star wannabes. What some people are willing to endure for the chance to be America's next idol.

Plus run your own political campaign. That's right. Your chance to be John Kerry or President Bush's boss.

Keeping the planes running on time. Uncle Sam starts cracking down on airport gridlock.


PHILLIPS: So does it seem as though you've heard a lot of stories lately about animals attacking humans? CNN's Brian Todd (ph) said that's not necessarily true even if the media does go into a feeding frenzy over each new case.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eleven-year old Aaron Perez is lucky, if you can say that about a boy whose arm nearly got bitten off. Fishing off a beach off Freeport, Texas last week he came face to face with a predator.

AARON PEREZ, SHARK BITE VICTIM: There was a bunch of school of fish and they all moved in and I caught one and I turned around to tell my dad and when I did that, a shark just started biting my arm.

TODD: Doctors have successfully reattached Aaron's forearm and they say his recovery is ahead of schedule.

54-year-old Janie Milsec did not escape her encounter with an alligator. She was attacked by a nearly 12-foot long gator as she trimmed bushes by a pond on Sanibel Island, Florida last month. The gator pulled her under water and inflicted severe bites on her arms, legs and midsection. When police and neighbors got there the beast still had her in its jaws.

JIM ANHOLT, VICTIM'S NEIGHBOR: I had the one part of her and the alligator had the other part. We're just holding each other like a tug of war almost.

TODD: In a scene one officer described to CNN as horrifying, police wrestled Milsec from the gator's grasp and killed the animal. Milsec died the next day from the wounds and infection. You hear stories like Milsec's and Aaron Perez' and you might get a distorted picture. The reality is this has been an average to mild year for both shark and alligator attacks. Unprovoked shark attacks have decreased every year since 2000. This year more than 30 have occurred worldwide, four of them fatal. As for alligators in Florida...

OFC. LUIS DELGADO, FLORIDA FISH & WILDLIFE: This year has been particularly slow.

TODD: Florida fish and wildlife officials report about half a dozen attacks this year in a state with more than a million alligators spread out over nearly seven million acres. Still, the alligators' resurgence, coupled with human population growth, brings the two species into uneasy proximity.

To avoid attacks officials say, don't swim outside posted areas in lakes, rivers, ponds or canals. Don't swim with pets. Don't swim at night, dawn or dusk. Don't go near the water's edge outside posted areas. And the worst mistake you can make, feeding them.

DELGADO: That's what makes them associate humans with food and that's when we come into problems.

TODD: If you are attacked, Florida wildlife officials say fight back hard to cause confusion and intimidate the gator. Hit it in the eyes. When it comes to those deep sea predators, experts say don't do what Aaron Perez says. You shouldn't go near so-called bait fish, those schools that swim near shore that sharks feed on. Don't swim near birds diving toward the water. That may signify a feeding frenzy. Don't swim at dawn or dusk. Stay away from areas where rivers meet the ocean. That's where dead animals can wash out and sharks are often around.

And it helps to swim in groups to potentially scare them away. If you are attacked you can do what Aaron Perez did, hit the shark in the gills, nose or eyes. And Aaron you might want to think twice about this plan...

PEREZ: I'm going to get him.


PHILLIPS: Pretty brave kid.

A New study shows that more people might be cheating on their taxes. Mary Snow joins us live from the New York Stock Exchange. She is not cheating on her taxes but she's got all the details. Hi, Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there Kyra. This new report says there's only one in four chance that the IRS will go after an individual who doesn't even file a tax return. In fact last year the IRS had about $447 million in uncollected revenue mostly because there are fewer IRS workers and a lack of funding to go after scofflaws. But this comes at a time when more people cheat on their taxes. The internal IRS study found about one in five taxpayers think it's OK to fudge the numbers. Plus side, though, the IRS says its shown improvement in its ability to assist people with their tax questions and problems -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Pfizer cracking down on illegal Viagra sales. What's the latest on that?

SNOW: Yes, well, many Internet vendors have been using the Viagra brand to illegally attract business and even offer fake medications. That's according to Pfizer which makes Viagra. It now says it is working with the FBI and the law enforcement agencies to prosecute the vendors and seize fake versions of the drug. Viagra's one of Pfizer's best selling drugs. The company has exclusive patent rights to the medication.

As for the markets today, reversing course, crude oil prices are sliding more than a dollar from yesterday's record high. It's certainly helping boost stocks. The Dow industrials right now up 32 points. The Nasdaq is also higher right now, up one quarter of a percent. That is the latest from Wall Street. Kyra, back to you.

PHILLIPS: All right. Mary, thanks so much. Well it drives travelers crazy, long delays at the busy airports. It drives us all crazy. Today the government says enough is a enough.

Plus, want to make sure that your favorite candidate wins in November? See how you can take charge of the campaign yourself, sort of.

Former teacher Mary Kay Letourneau gets out of jail again. What she is up to next.


PHILLIPS: Political fans from davenport, Iowa, got their fill today. Democratic candidate John Kerry was in town meeting with business executives and President Bush held a rally there just a little while later. Both of them are trying to capture the battleground states.

The woman accusing basketball star Kobe Bryant of sexual assault may drop out of the case. One of her attorneys says that she is considering the action based on mistakes made by court officials in Colorado. He says she might leave the criminal case and file a civil lawsuit. Mary Kay Letourneau got out of prison today. She's the former grade school teacher convicted of having sex with a sixth grade student. That student, the father of two children with Letourneau is now 21 years old and challenging the court order that keeps her from contacting him. We're keeping you informed, CNN the most trusted name in news.


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