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Homeland Security Secretary Ridge Steps Down; Unusual Chicago Divorce Case Twists Legal Conventions

Aired December 1, 2004 - 08:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. Just exactly half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING. A job that millions of lives depend on now has a vacancy. The secretary of homeland security Tom Ridge says he is stepping down. In just a moment, we're going to look at Ridge's legacy, as the man who, in many ways, created the department and also take a look at just who could fill his shoes.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Also, what can a husband do when another man steals his wife? There have been a lot of answers to that question throughout the years, of course, some of them legal, some not. In Illinois, the husband can sue, however, and we'll meet a man who is doing just that.

S. O'BRIEN: Interesting.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. I think that is. That's the idea, interesting.

S. O'BRIEN: Not that we'd ever need to worry about that. But interesting generally.

M. O'BRIEN: No. In a hypothetical manner, it's interesting to watch. All right. Heidi Collins is here, with a check on the headlines.


M. O'BRIEN: Positive. Scout's honor.

COLLINS: "Now in the News" this morning, more suspected insurgents captured in Iraq. The U.S. military says American and Iraqi forces detained 15 men in the Babil province, that's south of Baghdad. The raids are part of Operation Plymouth Rock. It was launched last week to root out insurgent positions south of Baghdad. More than 200 suspects have been captured during that operation

President Bush reiterating his support for intelligence reform. Speaking at a news conference in Canada yesterday, the president said he said he believes the bill is necessary and will hopefully get done next week. Meanwhile, members of the 9/11 Commission are urging leaders to bring the bill to the House and Senate floors for a vote.

In Florida, authorities are set to release evidence suggesting a sexual relationship between a former teacher and one of her 14-year- old students. Taped phone conversations and DNA evidence used against 24-year-old Debra Lafave will become public record today. Her attorney Lafave will use an insanity defense at her trial, which is set for April.

And NBC's Tom Brokaw promising his goodbye will be short and sweet. The "NBC Nightly News" anchor steps down tonight after more than 20 years in the anchor chair. Brokaw being replaced by NBC correspondent Brian Williams. I talked with him last week or so. He says he knows he has huge shoes to fill, but obviously looking forward to it.

S. O'BRIEN: And we know his goodbye has to be short and -- it's only a 30 minute show.

COLLINS: Yes, 28 minutes 55 seconds, I think.

S. O'BRIEN: Can only go so long. Our best wishes for him. That's good news for him. Ready to do other things in his life. Thanks, Heidi.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, four years ago, the job did not exist. Now, homeland security secretary is one of the most important positions in the president's cabinet. And with Tom Ridge leaving the department he helped create, the White House has some big shoes to fill. Here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve.


TOM RIDGE, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We are now at high risk of a terrorist attack.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tom Ridge was a familiar face during times of danger.

DAVID HEYMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INT'L STUDIES: He will probably be remembered as one of the -- sort of a gentle warrior, in a time when an anxious nation needed a calm voice.

MESERVE: As the first secretary of homeland security, Ridge had the daunting task of trying to wrestle 22 separate government agencies into one, while simultaneously fending off terrorist attacks. There were none on his watch.

RIDGE: Can I tell you today there are X number of incidents we were able to thwart or prevent? Cannot. Am I fairly confident that we probably have? Yes, I am.

MESERVE: But Ridge gets mixed marks on managing the department and securing the country.

STEPHEN FLYNN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Not much progress has really been made on the vast majority of critical infrastructure -- that is our energy grids, our transportation system beyond passenger aviation water-food supply.

MESERVE: Ridge may be best remembered for boosting sales of duct tape and creating the color-coded threat warning system. When Late Night comedians laughed, Ridge joined in.

JAY LENO, "TONIGHT SHOW" HOST: I'm sitting home in my underpants watching the game. We're yellow. What do I do now?

RIDGE: Change your shorts.

MESERVE: Who will fill his shoes? Among those mentioned: Frances Townsend, the current White House homeland security adviser; EPA administrator and former Utah governor Mike Leavitt; former Virginia governor James Gilmore; and Asa Hutchinson, currently a DHS undersecretary.

(on camera): Ridge will stay on until February 1st or until a successor is confirmed. He plans to sit back and take a few deep breaths before deciding on his future, which some believe may include a run for the White House. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


S. O'BRIEN: A look at the Ridge resignation now from both sides with our resident debaters. In Washington, Democratic strategist Victor Kamber from the Kamber Group. Good morning to you.


S. O'BRIEN: And joining us in the studio this morning -- that's a nice change -- Cliff May. He's the former RNC communications director. He's now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Vic, let's begin with you this morning. Fresh start, some have said for the department. He's only been in the job for 20 months. Does the department need a fresh start?

KAMBER: I don't know if it needs a fresh start. It needs commitment to real Homeland Security. I mean, Tom Ridge is a nice man, and you know, when he was governor, when he was a congressperson was accessible, and I thought a nice human being. In this job, he's hampered by the administration that hasn't given him the resources. I mean, the first thing he did, when he came into office was deprive workers of collective bargaining rights, the first federal agency to do that, which I considered to be something that undermined Homeland Security, when you can't give workers in this country protections.

And then, when we -- you know, while we went to oranges and reds and yellows and we dealt with the airlines, we haven't dealt, in terms of security, with the infrastructure in this country, with our ports, with our water systems, with our power plants. Now, in 20 months, you're right, no one can do all of those things, but I do believe, if given the resources by this administration by the Congress, more could have been done, should have been done, and I'm hopeful on the next watch it is done.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, Cliff, some people thought the duct tape thing, the color-coded alerts -- ridiculed, I think it's fair to say, by many folks. CLIFF MAY, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes, I think, Soledad, what you have to recognize here, it's not just that Ridge did a job, he invented a job. He invented the whole concept of Homeland Security, and it's still being in the process of being invented. You're taking all these disparate agencies -- bureaucracies, really -- and you're trying to get them to work together in a new culture with a new sense of urgency that you absolutely didn't have before and then have problems like Vic just mentioned.

And I would say Vic is part of the problem. We're talking about Homeland Security, and Vic says collective bargaining rights, we've got to make sure that people are -- that the workers are not being told where to go and what to do. The boss of Homeland Security needs powers that you don't have during normal peace time and if all your worry is about who gets a coffee break when and whether or not the customs guy can also help the immigrations guy, then you're not going to get nowhere.

KAMBER: Cliff, you need a study in what collective bargaining is. It's not coffee rights and going (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it's protecting workers' rights who are protecting this country.

MAY: Yes. But let's have a little concern. Your concern is about the workers' rights and I'm saying...

KAMBER: Who are protecting my rights.

MAY: ... we are Homeland Security, we've got to worry about the terrorists not getting in and not doing us damage. Now this is..

KAMBER: We agree.

MAY: ... now this is a challenge for anybody who does this. How to make these cultures work.

KAMBER: Cliff, we agree, we agree. But this administration's first task wasn't protections of our country, their first task were depriving workers of collective bargaining. That was the big fight in Congress. Remember.

MAY: The first task was to give the -- the first task was to make the boss the boss, because if you don't have a boss, you'll get nothing done. Look, INS and a lot of these agencies are dysfunctional. You know it and I know it. You know it, and I know it. You're not going to disagree.

KAMBER: Not because of workers collective bargaining, I assure you.

S. O'BRIEN: Before we get mired in this, I want to try to talk a little bit about the oil-for-food program. And I know lots of folks sort of say oh yawn, boring, but actually, it has been such a massive debacle with such a gigantic price tag.

Jack yesterday, calling for Kofi Annan's resignation, Senator Norman Coleman also calling, listening to Jack, also saying that he thinks Kofi Annan should step down. You guys agree or disagree? Why don't you start, Cliff?

MAY: Jack is right and Norm is right. Look, this is the biggest financial swindle in world history. We know that because of this, Iraqi children were dying, they weren't the food they needed. We know that this money, $20 billion, nothing like it ever before, because of this, Saddam Hussein was able to build palaces and amass weapons at a time when he was supposed to be under sanctions.

We don't know where that money is. We suspect some of it is being used to finance those who are killing Americans right now. It has been used in the past to finance terrorism. This happened under the U.N.'s watch, Kofi Annan's son is now implicated, Benon Sevan, who he appointed to this, is implicated. Kofi Annan, as a -- it's the right thing for him to do, to step down. What's more, it can't be properly -- can't be investigated properly.

S. O'BRIEN: We know what you're saying.

MAY: Thank you. Properly. As long as he's there, he's investigating himself. It's not going to work.

S. O'BRIEN: Vic, do you agree with that?

KAMBER: Well, I agree with Jack. I mean, that's partially (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

S. O'BRIEN: Uh oh, now you're scaring me.

MAY: Jack's never wrong.

KAMBER: I think that if the investigations are holding up, as they're said, I think Kofi Annan should go and I would recommend Bill Clinton as his replacement. Let me deal with Senator Coleman -- Norm Coleman. I have real questions about him being the person to call for this. Here's a guy that was a Democrat at one time, supporting Bill Clinton, his hero was Walter Mondale, he runs against Walter Mondale as a Republican. He's a headline grabber, that's all he's after here.

As chair of this investigations committee, let's investigate Halliburton, let's investigate the problems in this country which have equal scandals and call for resignations and indictments there. Let the world group take care of itself.

S. O'BRIEN: I have a feeling we're going to have lots more time to talk about this scandal. It's going to just keep going on. Gentleman, as always, nice to see you, and thanks a lot, appreciate it.

KAMBER: Thank you.

MAY: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: A divorce case in Chicago taking a legal twist that is making headlines. The jilted husband is suing the man he claims stole his wife and destroyed his wife. As Jonathan Freed reports, it's based on a law that remains in only a handful of states.


JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's an old story. Married person meets someone else and they have an affair. This time, the story allegedly began at a neighborhood Chicago bar called Nightmares. Something Steven Cyl's been having since his wife left him in May.

STEVEN CYL: I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I was drinking a lot.

FREED: Cyl and his wife Lupe have been married 15 years. Now, she's filed for divorce, but Cyl is fighting back with an obscure kind of lawsuit.

CYL: She claims she left me because of verbal abuse. She left me for another man.

FREED: So Cyl is suing the alleged other man, a Chicago firefighter, for what's called alienation of affection. It's an action that, a few years ago in North Carolina, netted a million dollar judgment for a woman who sued her husband's secretary. Legal experts say the law itself is based on aggressive behavior.

CYNTHIA BOWMAN, NORTHWESTERN LAW SCHOOL: The image is really of somebody who's almost a sexual predator.

FREED: Law professor Cynthia Bowman explains that the concept dates to the 18th century, when women were viewed as property. It's been abolished in most states, but it's still on the books in Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Hawaii. Some 200 cases are filed annually, but windfalls are rare because it's tough to prove.

BOWMAN: The person has to really move in on and attempt to interfere with a marriage that's in good shape.

FREED (on-camera): This situation is literally a little too close for comfort for Steven Cyl. He lives on this southwest Chicago street and the defendant in the lawsuit lives just down the block.

CYL: I confronted him about it and as far as what he says, she's doing what she wants to do. You know, that's what he said.

FREED (voice-over): While the defendant declined an interview, Cyl's lawyer claims it's not about money. The suit doesn't name a dollar figure, but the principle of the sanctity of marriage.

MICHAEL VITALE, CYL'S LAWYER: He just didn't want these things to be laughed at in his face and his whole life disrupted.

CYL: It's over. She won't come back.

FREED: It's now up to the court to determine whether or not the defendant set out to destroy the marriage. Jonathan Freed, CNN, Chicago.



S. O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, you may not be surprised to know stress can make you feel older, but just how much older? We are "Paging Dr. Gupta" just ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: Plus, are you tired of being another brick in the wall? Some former kid singers. Well, they said they didn't need no education. Maybe they should have gotten one, because now they want a piece of the pie. Andy's "Minding Your Business." Stay with us.



M. O'BRIEN: All right, we're "Paging Dr. Gupta" this morning about a link between chronic stress and aging. Stressful events, it turns out, really do age you. Look at me. I'm 16. No, it's a study we first told you about yesterday. It's kind of a duh study. Sanjay's now at the CNN Center to tell us the more intricate details of it. But I think people know intuitively that stress makes you feel older.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And they know that you never act like you're older than 16, as well, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: No comment.

GUPTA: You're right, listen, it is intuitive in so many ways that stress can age and weather a person. You know, people always point the presidents to sort of look at how they've changed, at the beginning of their term versus end of their term. I think we have some pictures. There you go.

On the left, obviously, President Clinton at the beginning of his administration, on the end of two terms. Obviously, some of that is just natural aging, eight years later. President Bush is -- well, at the beginning and now at the most recent picture, he's changed a lot.

The question is this. We obviously know that stress can change you in some way. But just how down deep in your body does it go? That's what researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, wanted to try and figure out. Does it extend all the way to the cellular level, and can you measure it in some ways?

They had sixty women, and they basically -- some of them took care of chronically ill children, some of them took care of healthy children. What they found was this: that chronic stress shortens the life specifically of immune cells. The more stress you have, the older you're going to be than your natural age. As far as specific numbers, the highest stressed mothers in the study were ten years older in terms of their cell life, compared to the healthier women. Also, an important point, I thought, out the study was that it was stress, but if you were able to deal with that stress, you could actually have a normal life cell. What that means, Miles, and I think this is an interesting point, it's not only the amount of stress in your life, but how you deal with it in an everyday manner. So things like meditation or any other stress reliever could actually make you stay younger, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, now, this study focused on women. I'm sort of curious about that. But why don't you just give us a sense of how they were able to, you know, kind of cull this out?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, when you talk about actually going down to the cellular level -- people have been trying to figure out why we age, why does our skin look different, why does our hair gray, why do we age in general? And that really goes down to the cellular level.

We have a little animation to basically show that if you look at the chromosomes in the individual, there's these things at the ends called telomeres. That's the normal part of the chromosome. As you age, as they replicate, those telomeres, again at the end, start to shrivel up and get smaller every year that you grow.

Now, in people who age -- people who have a lot of stress, rather -- the telomeres shorten more quickly. That's what they were looking at. So at the bottom there is going to be someone who has the greatest stress, and it's an overwhelming sort of stress they cannot deal with. That's basically how they measured it -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much. Sanjay Gupta, a man who is used to busy days. After all, brain surgery in the morning, journalism by afternoon. Today even busier, because on this World AIDS Day, he has a special report for us, "RU+".

Sanjay joined by Richard Gere, Ashley Judd, and Magic Johnson. Take a look at AIDS and its reemergence in unlikely places and unexpected faces. "RU+" tonight, 11:00 eastern, we invite to you tune in -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, a familiar refrain from Pink Floyd.


They were just once another brick in the wall. But now, some teenage backup singers, all grown up today, want their fair share. Andy is "Minding Your Business" ahead with that story ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Deadheads and Pink Floyd. This is not your mother's business report here. We're cutting edge. Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business." Got that stuff and a preview of the markets. What up with these old rockers?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE": Well, we'll get to that in one second. Let's do the markets first of all, because it is December 1st and numbers are in for the month of November. And -- I dropped my pen -- it's a good one. It's gone. November traditionally a good month for the markets. The Dow, that's the best month of the year. A lot of exuberance after the president's reelection. Futures are up this morning, so we will be following that later in the morning.

Let's talk about Pink Floyd. Everyone remembers the song "The Wall," the 1979 monster hit. And remember the chorus of the kids, they were the one who really made this song. "Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone" and all that. Guess what? There they go again. These kids didn't get paid.

CAFFERTY: They got ripped off.

SERWER: They didn't get paid and now they want to get paid. And it's an interesting story, they were 13 years old, they were taken from the school -- Islington Green School and, without the principal's knowing it, the music teacher took them out, they recorded the song. Later the principal found out and she found out about the nasty lyrics and forbade them from being in the video. So they were very hard to track. Those kids that you saw -- the kids that you just saw in the picture weren't the kids who were actually singing it. So they now they have an attorney trying to track them down. They're just trying to get $11,000.

CAFFERTY: So they violated the child labor laws by not paying the children, they misrepresented in the video who the people were that were singing the background stuff. And other than that, the music business is a straight up deal, right?

SERWER: Just ducky, as they say over there. Well, let's talk about Bill Walton and The Grateful Dead. NBA great and sportscaster Bill Walton is going to be hosting a radio show where else? Sirius Satellite Radio. They make the news every day.

There he is. That's a horrible picture.

CAFFERTY: Is this Mel Karmazin's first idea, as the new boss over there?

SERWER: I like the picture on the right. Put your arms down, Bill. Look at this. This guy is -- listen to how many Grateful Dead shows Bill's been to. 650 Dead shows. And he said in response to that, "Too much of everything is not enough. All I ever wanted in life was more. Saturday night's going to start right away." I always thought Bill Walton sounded a little like CNN's Carlos Watson? You ever think so, the way they talk?

M. O'BRIEN: Never put that together.

CAFFERTY: No, I wouldn't...

SERWER: I'll talk to Carlos about that. CAFFERTY: Thanks, Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

CAFFERTY: It's Wednesday, time for "The File," "Things People Say," starting with this: "Ed Murrow's ghost is here. I've seen him and talked to him on the third floor of the CBS building many late at night and I can tell you he's watching over us." Dan Rather, "CBS Evening News" anchor.

M. O'BRIEN: Explains so much.

CAFFERTY: "I want to thank all the Canadians who came out to wave with all five fingers." President Bush, commenting on those who apparently only waved with one finger when's he up there in Canada yesterday. There were several people staging protests, not happy to see our chief executive.

"I said, 'I am really uncomfortable having you feel me up,' but I basically had no choice." This is Heather Mauer, she's a Washington executive, after receiving an airport security frisking of the upper body.

"People want to be able to stand under the Christmas tree with their new car, new living-room cabinet and new breasts." Albert Hoffman, president for the German Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, on holiday demand for implants.

And finally, this, courtesy of my friend Andy Serwer: "There is a fine line between fiction and non-fiction, and I think Jimmy Buffett and I snorted it in 1976." That would be Kinky Friedman in his "New York Times" review of his friend Jimmy Buffett's new book, "A Salty Piece of Land."

SERWER: Kinky Friedman is a riot. If you've ever gone on his Web site, it's just hysterical. He is...

CAFFERTY: Good guy. Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jew Boys.

SERWER: That was the name of his band.

CAFFERTY: One of the funkier country bands around.

SERWER: A little bit different. He ran for governor in Texas recently. Didn't win.

CAFFERTY: Think how things might have changed if he'd been the governor of Texas.

SERWER: And you know what his campaign slogan was? "How hard could it be?"

S. O'BRIEN: Somehow didn't resonate with the voting public. Who knows why?

SERWER: Funny, a little bit. S. O'BRIEN: Excellent "File" today.

CAFFERTY: Not bad, right?

S. O'BRIEN: Better than not bad. It was excellent. In just a moment, a look at today's top stories. The early speculation on who's going replace Tom Ridge. We're going to talk to one of those who's rumored to be in line and find out whether he thinks secretary Ridge made American any safer. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


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