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The Battle for Falluja; Cheney Released From Hospital

Aired November 14, 2004 - 08:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Stories now in the news.
The seventh day in the battle for Falluja and U.S. and Iraqi troops have most of the city under control. U.S. forces sprayed buildings with rifle and tank fire, as they pushed diehard militants toward the south end of the city. Overnight U.S. war planes bombarded rebel positions inside the city.

The Associated Press reports U.S. troops have found a mutilated body in Falluja that may be a western woman. The body was found lying in the street. Two foreign women have been abducted in Iraq,. one Polish and the other British and remain missing.

"I feel fine" said Vice President Dick Cheney as he left a Washington hospital yesterday. He was hospitalized briefly after experiencing shortness of breath. Cheney has had four heart attacks and wears a pace maker, but tests found nothing abnormal. The vice president's cardiologists says he suspects Cheney has a respiratory infection.

The rapper known as O.D.B has died. Russell Jones collapsed and died at a Manhattan recording studio yesterday. A spokesman for his record label says Jones complained of chest pains before collapsing. O.D.B had frequent brushes with the law, mostly for drug possession. He would have turned 36 tomorrow.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And coming up this hour, it is the final push to gain control of the insurgent stronghold, Falluja. The Defense Department says the city is no longer a safe haven for terrorists and we have the latest. That is straight

Plus concerns for Cheney. Is the man who's just a heartbeat away from the presidency having problems with his heart? We'll tell you about his latest trip to the hospital.

And from church closings to lingering lawsuits and divided denominations the Catholic church is dealing with many urgent issues. So, how is it faring? We'll take a look.

HARRIS: Iraq is our top story this hour. U.S. troops are bringing the last pockets of resistance under control in Falluja. Military officials say they have successfully destroyed what has been a central base of operation for the insurgents. The heavy fighting has left over 1000 insurgents dead, 22 U.S. troops have been killed.

Other military clashes across Iraq include a series of explosions in Ramadi and the northern city of Mosul is back under control after a brief rampage by insurgents.

Near Baghdad a coalition soldier is dead after attack on a military base. Three others were wounded. No word yet on the nationality of the casualties.

NGUYEN: And it is unclear so far how many Iraqi civilians have been killed or wounded in the Falluja offensive. But humanitarian aid workers are ready to enter the city to find out. The Iraqi Red Crescent says for now their convoy has been stopped by U.s. troops.

CNN's Karl Penhaul is in Baghdad and he says the ordinary folks left in Falluja are definitely going to need some help.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before the assault started, Marine commanders estimated 50,000 civilians may be left inside Falluja. Iraqi Red Crescent officials put the numbers only in the hundreds.

Since street fighting began in Falluja Monday reporters have nothing to indicate whether there have been few or many civilians caught in the crossfire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is some families still living inside with their children facing a terrible situation. Situation from fighting around them, from multinational military, from the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from inside Falluja, and they are in-between. They don't have water. They are taking dirty water. Some -- one or two children we hear they are alive.

PENHAUL: It may only be possible to get a full picture of the civilian toll when the rubble of destruction has been cleared and the smoke of war has lifted.



HARRIS: The battle of Falluja is producing a steady stream of wounded U.s. troops, and the largest U.S. military hospital overseas is taking extra steps to handle them. The Landstuhl regional medical center in Germany had to add beds to treat the troops coming in from Iraq.

The U.s. military says hundreds of patients have been flown in recently and that nearly all of them were hurt in the Falluja fight.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Falluja is no longer a safe haven for terrorists. He spoke out during a trip to Panama. While Rumsfeld says the fighting is nearly over, he warns there is still much to do.


DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The coalition and the Iraqi forces have completed the move for all practical purposes from the northbound to south. They are operating in one way or another in much if not all of the city at the present time. Needless to say there is still -- there still will be pockets of resistance and areas that will be difficult. So I don't mean to suggest that it's completed.


NGUYEN: Rumsfeld's review of the fight for Falluja is likely just one item the White House is focused on this morning. This week President Bush will take his first trip outside the U.S. since his reelection.

Meanwhile many are monitoring Vice President Dick Cheney's health. And for more we turn to CNN's Elaine Quijano who is live at the White House.

Good morning, Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Betty. Doctors say that yesterday Vice President Dick Cheney was complaining of shortness of breath and also a cough. And the vice president yesterday talked to his cardiologist who recommended that because of his history of heart trouble that he undergo some precautionary tests. He did that within a few hours yesterday.

You see him there leaving the hospital, George Washington University Hospital, which is not far from his residence. In the end the doctors said that the tests ruled out any cardiac or pulmonary cause. Instead they said that it's likely that the vice president has a viral upper respiratory infection and in fact, aides say that Mr. Cheney has had a cold every since returning from his annual hunting in recent days.

But it was a concern yesterday. The vice president suffered his first heart attack back in 1978 when he was just 37 years old. Since then he has had quadruple bypass surgery. He has also had a stint and what Mr. Cheney calls a pace maker plus was implanted back in 2001. That is a device that is used to monitor and regulate, if necessary, his hear rhythm.

Again though doctors are saying that it was likely an upper respiratory infection.

Now as for President Bush, why by the way was notified about the vice president's status yesterday by White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, a busy week ahead for the president one week after meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair here in Washington. The president will be headed to Chili to attend the annual APEC meeting of Asian Pacific leaders to discuss economic issues.

The White House says that the topics include promoting free trade, economic growth and also cooperating on security issues. After that meeting he will remain in Chili to hold talks with that country's president Among the agenda items to be discussed then are strengthening democratic institutions in that region.


NGUYEN: CNN's Elaine Quijano at the White House this morning. Thank you, Elaine.

Now Lynne Cheney wife of Vice President Dick Cheney will appear on CNN's "LATE EDITION" with wolf Blitzer, that is today, where she'll discuss the topic of her new book, "When Washington Crossed the Delaware." That is at noon eastern, 9 a.m. out west.

And now our e-mail question this morning. What should be the top America's foreign policy agenda? Send us an e-mail at We will read your responses throughout the program.

HARRIS: And time now for some other news across America. Yesterday we told you about a six year old Miami boy who was tasered by police. Miami-Dade police now say one of its officers used a stun gun on a second child, a 12 year old girl who was apparently drunk and about to run into traffic. The department's police director says using the device on the boy was warranted the case with the girl was not.

In Tampa Bay, Florida truckers drive home a message with what they call the world's largest truck convoy. They're calling attention to the work of truckers in Iraq and Kuwait. The truckers also delivered a $10,000 check to its final destination the Special Olympics.

And it takes some serious skill to put on pounds of makeup and fit into a tiny car with 20 of your closest colleagues. That's why these clowns are in school learning how to yuck it up in advance of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Virtually all of the goof masters in Macy's clown camp are stores employees.

NGUYEN: Looks like a fun class. Can you imagine? Going to clown school today serious business.

All right. Let's talk about scandals. They are taking their toll on the Catholic church. I'll ask a Catholic church official about what is done to bring parishioners back.

HARRIS: And at the bottom of the hour on "HOUSE CALL," what you need to know in the battle against heart disease.

Good morning Cleveland. Temperatures in the 20s there. Blue sky and sunshine. It's going to be a gorgeous, gorgeous fall day. Temperatures eventually climbing into the 30s with a little bit of a breeze today and some Super Tramp (ph) playing for you. Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Good morning Ohio, Buckeye state in the U.S. We'll be back in about five or 10 minutes with your complete forecast.

CNN SUNDAY MORNING will be right back.


HARRIS: Look at this picture. Yes some fairy tales do come true. Take Montepaz (ph) Garcia and Enrique Lopez. They met, they fell in love, four months later the war in Iraq split them up. But that's only the beginning of the story. Find out more when we meet the couple live next hour on CNN SUNDAY MORNING at 9 a.m. eastern.


HARRIS: And good morning Cleveland. If you were taking the long way home, according to Super Tramp, that would take you along the shore way maybe around to 70 maybe 76 down to Akron , 70 out to the airport. I think it's 70 out to the airport.

NGUYEN: I'm glad you told us that.

HARRIS: Long way home.

NGUYEN: You know what? There's a game there though between what, the Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

HARRIS: That's the thing. I don't know if it's a home game for Cleveland or not.

NGUYEN: Rob may know.



HARRIS: It is for Cleveland. OK.

MARCIANO: Either way the Steelers are tough this year.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

MARCIANO: 25 degrees right now in Cleveland.

HARRIS: Well, that's football weather.

MARCIANO: Yes, cold weather.

HARRIS: Football weather there.

MARCIANO: Betty did you know that Tony was our travel adviser too.

NGUYEN: Obviously. I mean he does weather, travel. He sings on the side. There's nothing this man can't do.

MARCIANO: Well, that's why we hired him. That's why he's broken the salary cap here at CNN.


HARRIS: Oh my. OK.


HARRIS: Take that long way home. Why don't you? (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

NGUYEN: Going with the theme here. All right. Thank you, Rob

MARCIANO: My pleasure.

NGUYEN: Here is a quick update on our top story today. House to house sweeps are still ongoing in the Iraqi city of Falluja. But U.s. military officials consider the offensive a success saying insurgents no longer have a base of operation in the city.

U.S. Marines today found the body of a mutilated woman on a street in central Falluja. According to the "Associate Press" the Marine officer said it appears to be a western woman.

And Vice President Dick Cheney says he feels fine. Cheney who has a history of heart problems went to a Washington hospital yesterday after experiencing shortness of breath. Doctors say he probably has an upper respiratory infection. Tests found no heart abnormalities.

HARRIS: This is Remembrance Sunday in honor of Britain's war dead. Members of the royal family joined 140 military widows at a ceremony in London. Less than two dozen veterans of World War I are thought to be alive in Britain. This week the anniversary of the end of World War II.

A few American veterans of that war revisited one of the bloodiest sites of the Pacific theater. CNN's Mike Chinoy reports.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tropical paradise today. Sixty years ago it was hell on earth. Peleliu, historians say, was probably the single most savage battle of the entire Pacific war. Some U.S. Marine units took 70 percent casualties. Virtually the entire Japanese garrison was wiped out.

GENE GOODWIN, VETERAN: It was very rough. These guys caught the roughest part her.

CHINOY: Gene Goodwin was one of he handful of veterans who returned for the anniversary to the beach where he landed. Old and gray now, but the memories still fresh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Japanese were waiting for us with the machine guns and all I saw was a big crater and I dove right in that crater. And in about maybe four or five hours that's when I got hit.

CHINOY: The Japanese made their last stand in a network of hundreds of caves carved out of the limestone ridges just off the beach.

(on-camera): Hunkered down in these caves the Japanese inflicted horrendous casualties on the Americans. Today you can still see the debris of that hellish time, canteen, bowl, an ammo clip, rusted hand grenade. That's still live by the way.

The Japanese were under orders to fight until the last man and to take as many Americans with them as possible.

(voice-over): Men like Joe Clapper and Gene Goodwin saw their comrades fall all around them.

JO CLAPPER, VETERAN: We watched probably half or more of our platoon between the beach and here and that's mainly where I came.

CHINOY: A sense of loss echoing through the decades for both sides. Nearly 11,000 Japanese died in the battle, just 200 survived.

Hu Cosit Turchiti (ph) hid in the jungles for two years after the fighting ended refusing to surrender unaware the war was over. Now united by the nightmare they shared these aging veterans come together at a ceremony of commemoration and reconciliation.

"I fought against these men. I never thought I would meet them. It's a miracle."

Ghost stretching back more than half a century finally laid to rest.

Mike Chinoy, CNN.


NGUYEN: In other news, a shortage of priest and vacancies in the pew. What Catholic officials are doing to bring people back to the faith. That is straight ahead.

HARRIS: And at the bottom of the hour on "HOUSE CALL" what you need to know in the battle against heart disease


HARRIS: Faces of Faith this Sunday morning. In Boston a struggling archdiocese. Arch Bishop Sean O'Malley says a plan to close or consolidate dozens of parishes is the hardest thing he's has ever had to face. But in a letter to protesting parishioners he says the archdiocese financial footing is even worse than they realized.

The downsizing was prompted in part by lawsuits over the priests sex abuse scandal. What does this mean for the Catholic church? Overall are Catholics facing a crisis of faith?

Bishop Gerald Kicanas joins us from Washington. He is the chairman of the Communications Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Your excellency good morning.

BISHOP GERALD KICANAS, U.S. CONF. OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS: Good morning, Tony. Good to be with you.

HARRIS: Good to be with you. I have a lot to try to put on your plate this morning and we'll get through it as best we can.

KICANAS: That's all right. HARRIS: First let me start with just headlines from the "Seattle Times" this morning and just a litany of things sort of ticked off, the ongoing sexual abuse crisis, diocese declaring bankruptcy, what to do about politicians who stray from church teachings. Give me a sense as you go into this conference this week of what you believe can be accomplished in a general sense.

KICANAS: I think one of the fist issues for us as bishops is to restore trust. We made promises in June of 2002 in Dallas that we would provide safe environments for young people and I think that there has been a great deal of progress made in that area. And I think we will continue to show our commitment to keep the promises that we made.

HARRIS: And Bishop what do you point to as sings of that progress?

KICANAS; I think that we now have a sense of what the extent of sexual abuse has been over these past 50 years. In every diocese they have put into place policies and procedures that will find a very different response than happened 50 years or so ago. Now we deal with civil authorities in investigating allegations. We have sexual review misconduct boards made up of laity who can help advise us in these complex issues.

There are education programs to help people to know the signs of abuse, how to respond to abuse and we now do screening and background checks of all who are involved in ministries, priests, religious deacons, laity, even the Bishop himself.

HARRIS: Give me a sense as you move forward here in choosing a president for the next three years, in addition to what you've just been talking about in terms of responding to the aftermath of the sex abuse scandal, what is the other pressing issue and what kind of a tone would you like to see the next president take? Maybe it's in the area of financial concerns.

KICANAS: Clearly one of the challenges of every bishop in his own diocese is to make the faith alive and vibrant, to invite people to come to know Christ. And I think evangelization is a critical piece not only for every diocese by for the church and for the Untied States as well.

And I'm sure that the new president will be someone who can help bring together the bishops to share our wisdom to come up on new ideas and direction on how we can respond to the complex society in which we live and in which we want to bring the faith to bear.

HARRIS: Now Bishop let me pick up on that. How much concern is there about disharmony between the branches of Christianity and to what degree will there be a discussion this week of I guess I could call it an ecumenical outreach.

KICANAS: There is a new initiative called Christian churches together in the United States. And that new initiative will be discussed by the bishops and consider the possibility of the churches involvement. As you know the holy father has made it very clear that one of his first priorities is to bring about the unity of all Christians leading to full communion and such efforts like this can be very helpful in understanding.

HARRIS: Bishop Kicanas thanks for taking the time to talk to us this morning and enjoy the week.

KICANAS: Thank you very much.

HARRIS: Thank you.

NGUYEN: We want to get now to our e-mail question of the day and that question is, what should be the top of America's foreign policy agenda? We've got some really interesting responses today.

This is from James from Glenview, Illinois and he writes, to remember on the offensive, I'm sorry, to remain on the offensive in our war on terrorism. Like it or not anything else would just encourage more terrorist activity.

HARRIS: And there's this one, to continue to encourage the formation and support democracy in the Middle East worldwide. Free people will not, do not tolerate tyrants.

Thank you for those e-mails.

NGUYEN: Yes. And we invite you to keep sending them in to We'll read them in our 9 o'clock hour.

HARRIS: A deadly disease that is preventable. Next on "HOUSE CALL" what you need to do to keep your heart healthy.

NGUYEN: And at 11 eastern on "RELIABLE SOURCES" Howard Hurtz sits down with NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw on the eve of his retirement.

HARRIS: I'm Tony Harris.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. Top stories and "HOUSE CALL," that's straight ahead.


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