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New Intelligence Plan; Kerry Returns Fire; GOP Countdown

Aired August 23, 2004 - 8:59   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Could this be the end of the CIA? There's a radical plan taking Washington by surprise.
Amber Frey back on the stand today. Can defense attorneys show another side of her affair with Scott Peterson?

And a look inside Madison Square Garden, the massive construction project under way for the Republican National Convention. You will only see it here on this AMERICAN MORNING.

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

HEMMER: Good morning, everyone on a Monday morning. Daryn Kagan is working for Soledad today. Soledad at home resting.

And you're here with us. How are you doing? You doing all right?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm doing OK. Are you doing OK having me here?

HEMMER: Oh, OK. We are just fine. Right, Jack?


HEMMER: Right, Jack?

CAFFERTY: Any time you're here we're absolutely delighted.

KAGAN: Thank you.

CAFFERTY: You're welcome. Any time.

KAGAN: Appreciate that.

HEMMER: Democrats now issuing this new challenge, Daryn, to the president already today over these ads from the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. We'll look at the controversy today and some of the new voices who joined the debate over the weekend, too. So taking it a step further in a moment.

KAGAN: Also this week, we are focusing on the way entertainers shape the political campaign. It's politics and it's Hollywood. Something we're kind of calling Pollywood. We'll talk about the power of the stars. Jack loves that. HEMMER: Also, remember the five people answering Sanjay's challenge at the beginning of the year to get fit? We checked back in with them all week this week, our lucky five. How are they doing and how are they doing when the cameras go away?

KAGAN: And how is Jack doing now that he is here?

CAFFERTY: These Hollywood stars are people that live in southern California and make a disgustingly obscene amount of money by pretending to be somebody else. Why would anybody care what their opinion about anything is?

KAGAN: Some conservative voices are coming through, too. We'll hear what they have to say.

HEMMER: Which is a perfect reason to do the story this week.

CAFFERTY: Are you -- you're suggesting by that comment that I was referring to the liberals out there.

KAGAN: Yes, I was.

CAFFERTY: I didn't make any designation at all.

KAGAN: How did I just jump (ph) to that?

CAFFERTY: I have no idea.

KAGAN: I don't know. All right.

CAFFERTY: The "Question of the Day" is, is Congress moving in the right direction when it comes to reforming intelligence?

KAGAN: All right. Thank you. Looking forward to that.

Right now, let's go to Carol Costello at CNN Center with a look at what is happening "Now in the News."

Carol, good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Daryn. Thank you.

Some lawmakers are looking at how terrorist organizations are financed. Within the hour, the Financial Services Committee is set to get under way in another hearing on the 9/11 Commission report. The House Judiciary Committee is also set to meet.

A military hearing began today in Mannheim, Germany, for one of the U.S. soldiers charged in the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. Army Specialist Charles Garner has been identified by prosecutors as a ring leader in the abuse. But speaking outside the courtroom, his lawyer said Garner is innocent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of the CID agents testified today. My understanding is, having not received the report yet, is that at least one of them is a subject of that investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won't say that. And I will certainly not suggest that he did anything wrong.


COSTELLO: More hearings are scheduled for tomorrow.

A pretrial hearing in the Michael Jackson child molestation case resumes today. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have been arguing over still secret evidence that may make or break the case against Jackson. Court is set to reconvene today at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

And police in Oslo say they have located a getaway car used in theft of Edvard Munch's masterpiece, "The Scream." Sunday's heist, caught by a surveillance camera, is the second time in a decade that a version of the painting has been stolen. Munch's "Madonna" was also taken. No one was injured during the daytime heist.

Back to you, Daryn.

KAGAN: All right. Carol, thank you to for that.

We move on. Momentum of the overhaul of the U.S. intelligence system seems to be picking up interest in Washington. The latest proposal would fold all the key agencies together under a new director. But that would take power from the Pentagon.

Our Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon, where I imagine, Barbara, ceding control and money to a new agency cannot be exactly welcome news there this morning. Good morning.


Well, indeed, at the moment, people here are simply saying they're reviewing all of the details, but nobody is really commenting yet. This is a proposal by Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. A proposal for dramatic overhaul of the U.S. intelligence community, essentially dismantling the CIA as it currently exists, taking away, indeed, much of the Pentagon's authority over intelligence spending and establishing an all-powerful new national intelligence director, far beyond what anyone has contemplated so far, including the 9/11 Commission itself, which made the original proposal.

The idea would be that the Pentagon would give up its current control over about 80, 85 percent of the $40 billion in intelligence spending. It's mostly satellites, communications, that type of thing. The military, of course, is the largest consumer of intelligence in the government. So all of this would be very difficult for the Pentagon to agree to.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in testimony a few days ago about intelligence reform was really quite lukewarm about the idea of an all-powerful national intelligence director. He's very cautious about all of this, saying there's a real possibility it could create more problems in the intelligence community than solve them. So all of this really still on the table. People circling around, looking at all of it, but nobody rushing out to endorse it just yet -- Daryn.

KAGAN: You mentioned we saw the defense secretary up on Capitol Hill a few days ago. That was the first time since May. Any chance we're going to see him up there again soon testifying on this very topic?

STARR: Well, that remains to be seen. Now, what's interesting is today, Don Rumsfeld is in Crawford, Texas, for his annual summer meet, if you will, with the president at the ranch in Crawford. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and the president expected to meet the news media later today in Texas.

All of this intelligence reform likely to be on the table, as well as, of course, the current situation in Iraq. They're likely to get a lot of questions about all of that.

Rumsfeld again expected to be in constant consultation with Congress about intelligence reform as it moves forward. But he is really trying to put the brakes on much of this, saying, take a keep breath, think about it all before you rush into new legislation -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, thank you.

HEMMER: Well, the Kerry campaign stepping up calls for the president to denounce television ads that criticize John Kerry's war service. Today, in fact, it's firing back with an ad of its own. Here's Kelly Wallace on that front this morning.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator John Kerry facing some uncertainty in the polls after weeks of largely unanswered attacks. Bush is back, and hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of solutions, George Bush's campaign supports a front group attacking John Kerry's military record, attacks called smears, lies.

WALLACE: That ad starts running today in the same three battleground states where anti-Kerry ads are already airing. It's all part of a weekend full court press by the Kerry-Edwards team to try and step up the pressure on President Bush.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. President, the clock is running. The American people deserve to hear from you, and they deserve to hear from you that these ads should come down. WALLACE: In a complaint to be filed today with the Federal Election Commission, the Kerry campaign accuses team Bush-Cheney of coordinating with the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The Bush campaign called that complaint frivolous.

KEN MEHLMAN, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: There's absolutely no connection between the Bush campaign and this organization. In fact, our president from the beginning has praised Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam.

WALLACE: A lingering question for the Kerry team, why did it wait weeks to respond to the attacks, and did it wait too long?

DEBRA DESHONG, KERRY CAMPAIGN SR. ADVISER: There is overwhelming evidence that they are liars, they are dishonest, they are dishonorable. And so, finally, John Kerry stood up and said enough is enough. And as far as we're concerned, that's it.

WALLACE (on camera): Kerry's strategy in the days ahead? Accuse Republicans of engaging in negative personal attacks, while at the same time try to get the focus back on the issues. The Bush-Cheney team for its part sent a letter to television station managers saying this new Kerry ad is "false and libelous."

Kelly Wallace, CNN, New York.


HEMMER: Kelly, thanks for that.

CNN political analyst Carlos Watson watching this Swift Boat controversy unfold live in Mountain View, California.

Good morning, Carlos, to you.


HEMMER: I'm doing just fine. We had another voice on Sunday. Bob Dole was on the air with Wolf on "LATE EDITION." Listen to what he said about this controversy.


BOB DOLE (R), FMR. SENATOR, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: Maybe he should apologize to all the other two-and-a-half million veterans who served. He wasn't the only one in Vietnam.

And here's a, you know, good guy, a good friend. I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts, and never bled that I know of. I mean, they're all superficial wounds. Three Purple Hearts and you're out.

I think Senator Kerry needs to talk about his Senate record, which is pretty thin. That's probably why he's talking about his war record, which is pretty confused. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: There is a respected senator there talking about and reflecting on his own injuries from the Second World War that damaged his right arm. Where does this argument go, Carlos?

WATSON: You know, it's not unusual to see candidates with distinguished military records be attacked in presidential campaigns, Bill. We've seen it going all the way back a couple hundred years.

Andrew Jackson and others, more recently John F. Kennedy was attacked in his campaign. President Bush's father in 1998 had some of his service record challenged. And I think the question is, can John Kerry shift the conversation, shift it not only in the national media, but, importantly, in the local media on the local television stations and on the cover of the front local newspapers as well?

HEMMER: To date, how strong has John Kerry been able to counter- punch on this issue? Has he been effective?

WATSON: Not yet. I mean, certainly the CBS News poll that shows a nine-point drop in his support among veterans over the last couple of weeks would suggest it is not. There may be more bad news in the next couple of weeks, particularly in some of these showdown state polls, places like Missouri and Ohio and Pennsylvania.

But I think more significantly, Bill, one of the things this points out is the failure to prepare. They absolutely had to know that he was going to be attacked on this issue. He's been attacked on these issues on every campaign he has run. And the fact that they weren't prepared to respond sooner, much like Bill Clinton did in 1992 when he was attacked on things he knew he was going to be challenged on, I think is a failure of preparation. And so it's not just whether or not you counter-punched, but that you didn't prepare early to do exactly that.

HEMMER: Which kind of takes us back to the point that was made by Kelly in her story that we ran right before talking to you, about whether or not they were prepared, whether or not they are -- they are behind the issue as opposed to being out in front of it. As you well know, that is so critical when it comes to these campaigns.

The other issue that the Kerry folks are saying is that the White House is in cahoots with these people who putting out these ads. Can they prove that?

WATSON: They certainly have not yet. And if they can, obviously that would be a helpful turn of events for them. Although, one volunteer in the Bush-Cheney campaign did resign in the last couple of days after appearing in one of the Swift Boat ads.

But for the Kerry campaign, they are much better off when you look at the polls moving the conversation to issues like high gas prices, moving the conversation to issues like outsourcing. And still, some fundamental discomfort with what's going on in Iraq. The fact that the Bush campaign has been able -- or rather opponents of John Kerry have been able to keep the focus on him instead of those issues, I think has been a significant victory for him -- for them, and I think it will show up in the polls that we see.

HEMMER: All right. Carlos, thanks. Carlos Watson analyzing this from every angle there in California. Thanks.

WATSON: Good to see you.

HEMMER: All right.

KAGAN: French-American journalist Micah Garen and his translator are free this morning. The pair had been held captive for more than a week in Iraq. U.S. officials say that Garen appears to be in good condition after a brief medical exam. Garen says that his captors treated him well. His New York City neighbors are relieved to hear he's OK.


STEVE MARTINELLI, MICAH GAREN'S NEIGHBOR: Well, it's wonderful news. You know? It's a very hopeful thing. It seems like people of good conscience can do the right thing when they all come together.


KAGAN: Garen was taken hostage on August 13 from a Nasiriyah marketplace as he was taking photos for a documentary that he's working on.

HEMMER: I think a lot of people were stunned, frankly, when he gave an interview after being released that he's going to continue his work there in Iraq. He's not coming home immediately. And he's going to make sure that his project gets finished. Whew.

KAGAN: I wonder what his fiancee and his parents have to say about that.

HEMMER: We'll talk to them tomorrow.

KAGAN: Exactly. There's a good interview.

HEMMER: Check of the weather again. Here's Chad in Atlanta.

Good morning, Chad.



HEMMER: All right, Chad. Thanks for that.

KAGAN: Ask him.

HEMMER: Hey, Chad, we have a question. Does that rotate the same way the hurricane does?

MYERS: No, Bill. For some reason I can't hear you. But I see your fingers going around.

No, because it's on the northern side -- the northern hemisphere, it's still actually spinning the same way. If it was in the southern hemisphere down by Australia, that's when it would be spinning the other way.

HEMMER: That guy's amazing, isn't he?

KAGAN: There you go.

HEMMER: He can watch your finger twirl and he can figure that's...


HEMMER: Thank you, Chad. See you later.

KAGAN: Well, still to come, it is August. Chances are you've ditched your New Year's resolution. Now we want to know what happened to our new view participants. Remember them? Dr. Sanjay Gupta checks in.

HEMMER: Yes. There was one, huh?


HEMMER: The blurring line between politics and Hollywood, Pollywood, if you will. Part one of our week-long series here on AMERICAN MORNING.

KAGAN: Plus, an exclusive look, a first look inside next week's Republican National Convention in New York. Bill tells us what surprises might be in store ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


HEMMER (voice-over): The Republican convention kicks off a week from today here in New York. Fifty thousand delegates, party officials and reporters descending on Madison Square Garden.

There have been very few pictures of what's happening inside the garden for construction and how the project is coming together. The final setup a bit of a secret, too, as well. We were given, however, an exclusive first look inside this past weekend.


BILL HARRIS, IN CHARGE OF REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION: We've got 350,000 pounds of steel. We've got 200,000 square feet of lumber. We've got, I think, 1.5 million feet of cable.

HEMMER: Bill Harris knows his numbers because this week Harris has one of the most challenging jobs in New York City.

HARRIS: You're looking over here at the main stage.

HEMMER: Harris is in charge of the Republican National Convention. And Madison Square Garden has been transformed.

A main stage that appears smaller, more intimate than in previous conventions. A new wooden floor stands almost 10 feet higher than the original, with a large circular cutout for entertainment. Some say it could serve as a grand entrance for the president.

(on camera): Is there anything you would want to tell our viewers today as to how the president is going to make his grand entrance?

HARRIS: The president can do whatever he wants to do.

HEMMER (voice-over): However, surprises are not out of the question.

(on camera): Are you on target?

HARRIS: Well, as you know, a week from today is when our convention starts. And so we are exactly on target of where we want to be. I couldn't be happier with where we are in the process.

HEMMER (voice-over): But construction is just half the story. The other half is security.

HARRIS: It's a major part of my job. But, you know, I'm very fortunate in that we are in New York City and that we have the world's most experienced police department. I'm absolutely convinced that they have a very comprehensive program to make sure that we can have a safe and orderly convention.

HEMMER: And if Harris has done his job right, the only message out of New York City will be from the Republican Party presenting its vision for America, right down to the closing act at the end of the four-day event.

HARRIS: We'll probably have a lot of balloons up there. They will drop on time.

HEMMER (on camera): They will on time?

HARRIS: They will drop on time.

HEMMER: Did you see what happened in Boston?

HARRIS: Well, I was busy. But I heard what happened.


HARRIS: I didn't see it.

HEMMER: It's not going to be repeated? Is that what you're suggesting today?

HARRIS: Oh, I don't think we're going to repeat anything they did up there.


HEMMER: Bill Harris of the tour over the weekend.

One big question, though, hanging over the city for that convention, anywhere from 100,000 to perhaps 250,000 protesters descending on New York City. Still working out final plans as to where those protesters will be lined (ph) and whether or not they will steal the spotlight away from the Republican message inside. Something we all wait to see starting a week from today here in New York -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Bill, I know you know this number. Seventy-one days until the presidential election. Politics dominating the airwaves. Even entertainers are getting in on the action, stumping for their favorite candidates.

You might call it Pollywood -- at least we are -- the blurring of the line between politics and Hollywood. Here now is Heidi Collins with the first part of her week-long series.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Go to a concert these days and you might hear more than music.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, MUSICIAN: I think we're going out and we're trying to level the playing field with a lot of the kinds of corporate donations and different things that the Republicans can raise. You know?

COLLINS: You can't escape politics at the movies either.

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Members of Congress, this is Michael Moore.

COLLINS: The Democratic National Convention spared no expense to glamorize what many said would be a dull show. They drafted famous actors and even a film produced by a Spielberg protege.

MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR (voice-over): For this, John received the Bronze Star.

COLLINS: Many political analysts say the line between politics and entertainment has now been blurred. Some of them give this development a bad review.

JOE KLEIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE": You know, Ben Affleck may have studied Marlon Brando, but -- but he didn't -- he hasn't studied the history of -- of tax policy the way a guy like Bill Clinton or even George W. Bush has. The celebrities should understand that they're not dealing in the world of fantasy and of happy endings here.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I call them girlie men. They should go back to the table.

DAVID GERGEN, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: You want to create buzz, you want to create fizz around your campaign. And celebrities can help you do that. But if you seem engulfed in celebrities, and their values go, you know, against the mainstream, you can pay a real price for that, too.

COLLINS: But the consequences may be more serious than that, says political commentator and former Nixon speechwriter, Ben Stein.

BEN STEIN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We cannot have people in Hollywood who call themselves stars saying, "America, you stink; America, you're terrible; America, you're no better than the al Qaeda." The real stars are the guys who are riding around in their Bradley armored vehicle in -- in Kirkuk or Mosul fighting the terrorists.

COLLINS (on camera): How have the Hollywood stars come to be where they are? How do they have this type of strange influence?

STEIN: Well, I think it's confusion on the part of people. They see a person playing a president and they think he is the president. They see a person playing someone of moral authority or someone of great bravery and they think he's brave.

These people in Hollywood are not brave. They're just reading lines.

COLLINS (voice-over): Actor Richard Dreyfuss bristles at that.

RICHARD DREYFUSS, ACTOR: I wonder what the Republican actors are thinking when -- when liberal actors are told that they should shut up. And I'm wondering what plumbers and teachers are told -- are thinking when they're told that actors should shut up.

Actors are citizens like anybody else. And it's a kind of silly waste of stupid people's time to think that they should be quiet about being a citizen.


KAGAN: Heidi's going to continue her five-part series, "Pollywood" tomorrow. She will have a look at what happens when an actor runs for office. Does a great onscreen performance automatically mean rave political reviews? That's tomorrow right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

HEMMER: Meanwhile, the election, Daryn, 71 days away, as we mentioned. President Bush at his home in Crawford, Texas, today, while John Kerry and the Swift Boat controversy continues to boil.

The Bush campaign claims that a new TV ad by the Kerry campaign is libelous. The new ad says George Bush smeared John McCain in the 2000 primary and now that he's doing the same to John Kerry in 2004.

The Bush campaign says it has nothing to do with ads that disputes Senator Kerry's Vietnam War record of 35 years ago. John Kerry is in Boston today. No public events on his schedule. KAGAN: Still to come, jurors and the nation have gotten an intimate look at the details of Amber Frey's private life. Now attorneys for Scott Peterson may push for even more. That's ahead.

Stay with us here on AMERICAN MORNING.


HEMMER: Welcome back, everyone. "Question of the Day" and Jack.


CAFFERTY: Good morning. Thank you.

Over the weekend, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee unveiled a surprise plan to revamp the CIA, remove most of the intelligence-gathering operations from the Pentagon and create a national intelligence director. Criticism was swift from various corners.

The White House claims to have known nothing about it. Some Democrats say it ought to be a bipartisan thing. There's obviously much more to come. But the question we're asking is, do you think Congress is moving in the right direction when it comes to intelligence reform?

John in Little Rock says, "I guess I missed something here. I seem to remember that when the president was selling us on the idea for a director of homeland security, he told us of the need to coordinate information from the various agencies. Did I get that wrong? Why are we not discussing using this entity to serve in the role suggested by the commission?"

That's certainly a hell of a question, John.

Leo in Richfield, Pennsylvania, "Government sometimes seems to move like cool molasses, but our system is the best in the world. I'm opposed to another bureaucracy. They're like malignancies in government. But we'll support our leadership and their decision. That's why we elect them."

Bob in Florida, "We know that all 19 hijackers September 11 were in violation of INS, immigration and naturalization laws. So, once again, the law is on the books but someone is not doing their job. We had the intelligence, we had the information. We chose not to act on it, and now the Intelligence Committee wants to spend several billions of dollars to reform our intelligence community."

And finally, John writes from Washington, "Who can tell? Congress does what it does sometimes in seemingly rhymeless, reasonless fashion. Edward Everett Hail (ph), a former Senate chaplain, was once asked, 'Do you pray for the senators, Dr. Hail (ph)?' He replied, 'No, I look at the senators and I pray for the country.' I think he was right."

We'll do one more bunch of these. HEMMER: Don't lose faith just yet.


HEMMER: Don't lose faith just yet.


KAGAN: Thank you, Jack.

HEMMER: Thank you, Jack.

In a moment here, "90-Second Pop" on a Monday morning. A dose coming up here. He's the king of pop, but there's one name Michael Jackson says he could do without.

Plus, 12 years from the original dream team, is this group a nightmare?

Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.



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