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AMERICAN MORNING

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Touring Banda Aceh; Department of Homeland Security Cuts Funding for New Jersey

Aired January 7, 2005 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Colin Powell wrapping up his tour of Asia's disaster zone. This morning, CNN's exclusive interview with the secretary of state.
In Indonesia, U.N. chief Kofi Annan touring the hardest-hit areas, stunned, he says, by mile after mile of devastation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECY.-GEN.: Utter destruction, mile after mile. And you wonder where are the people? What happened to them?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Why is Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, calling for all U.S. military policies in Iraq to be reviewed?

And the man who received the president's medal of freedom said he botched the war on terrorism. That and more on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Secretary of State Colin Powell in Sri Lanka today, the third stop of a five-day visit to that tsunami ravaged region. He got a firsthand look at the damages, the beaches and ruined hotels; 46,000 people in Sri Lanka were killed. Colin Powell spoke with CNN's John King. We have that interview later on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning, everybody. as we continue our reporting from Phuket, Thailand, lots to talk about this morning. Family members, friends, survivors are still searching for any news about their loved ones lost in the wake of that Tsunami. This morning we'll tell you about one young American who is missing. We will talk to his brother about his search efforts so far. Also, why are they putting microchips into the thousands of remains from this disaster? The prime minister will tell us why. That's ahead -- Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Soledad, thanks. Good morning, everybody, from New York City again, as we continue our program in two different parts of the world. CNN with reporters all over the region, bringing you the very latest on the rescue and aid efforts, including, Soledad. We're back to her in a moment here. First some new developments as we have them at this hour. The pace of relief said to be picking up now. Three-hundred and fifty tons of supplies now arriving daily in Sri Lanka's capital city of Colombo. In Indonesia, to the southeast, the focus is now on reaching the remote areas on the island of Sumatra. Congress will consider paying for a global tsunami warning system. Senator Joseph Lieberman says the $30 millions it will cost to build and the 7.5 million in yearly maintenance would be worth the price.

And 45 percent of Americans polled tell CNN they have contributed money in some form to tsunami relief. On that same survey, 74 percent say they have prayed for the victims in Southeast Asia.

Back to Phuket now, in Thailand -- here's Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, bill, thanks very much. As we mentioned, Thai's prime minister, Chennowah (ph), announcing today that microchips will be implanted into the remains of the thousands of bodies that have been recovered in the wake of the tsunami. He says it will aid in identifying those remains potentially down the road. Earlier this week, the prime minister said that the number of dead could reach 8,000. Also, British Foreign Minister Jack straw in Phuket as well for meetings with the Thai prime minister; 49 Brits were killed in the tsunami, 391, though, are missing, and they are presumed dead at this time.

Let's turn now to the utterly devastated region of Banda Aceh. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan touring that region. He said he has never seen -- quote -- "such utter devastation." At least 94,000 people are dead in Indonesia, more than any other country.

CNN's Mike Chinoy is there for us this morning.

Mike, what's the latest from where you are?

MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

Well, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan had a chance to see for himself the scale of the devastation here in Aceh province, coming first to the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, a city which was very, very badly damaged by the quake and the tsunami, and then taking a helicopter ride down along the western coast of this big island of Sumatra. That area is the hardest hit. It's closest to the epicenter. For mile after mile after mile, and that's a flight I've done now several times; where there were once towns, villages, farms, roads, communities, there's just nothing. It's all been leveled. It's like a nuclear bomb, some people have said. The U.N. secretary general speaking later to reporters said it was far beyond anything that he had imagined.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNAN: Today we had a chance to visit some of the areas that have been destroyed by the tsunami. We traveled along the west coast, and I must admit I have never seen such utter destruction mile after mile. And you wonder where are the people? What happened to them?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHINOY: Annan was taken for a tour of a town called Malabo (ph), is the main town on the west coast of Sumatra, had about 50,000 people before the disaster. At least 10,000 are known dead. The numbers are expected to rise very significantly, not much of the town left. But the -- it looks like that is now going to become another hub for relief efforts. Singapore's army has established a kind of beachhead there. They are bringing ashore heavy machinery, bulldozers, earth movers. They're trying to strengthen the shoreline so that bigger ships can come in closer and off-load supplies, bigger helicopters can land. They've also set up medical clinics, emergency operating theater, and are treating hundreds of injured tsunami victims every day -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Mike Chinoy for us in Banda Aceh this morning. Mike, thanks.

And, Bill, let's go back to you in New York.

HEMMER: All right, Soledad, thanks for that.

The U.S. State Department now saying 35 Americans are believed killed in this disaster. About 2,500 inquiries, though, still remain unresolved. On Wednesday morning, Michael Bernard was on our program. His brother on vacation, traveling they believe, at the time in Indonesia. On Wednesday, Michael and his family still had not heard from him. This was two days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BERNARD: I'm doing reasonably well. My mother is doing less well. She's very upset. And every day that goes by without hearing, she gets a little more upset.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Well, that was Wednesday. Now two days later on Friday, things have changed for the better, and a good story to tell this morning. Micheal is back with me here in New York.

And welcome back to you, Michael. Good morning to you.

BERNARD: Thank you.

HEMMER: Also from Seattle, his sister, Melissa Flood is there as well. And Ruel, the brother they have found, is on the telephone in Indonesia.

Ruel, I want to begin with you.

Where are you, my friend?

RUEL BERNARD: Good morning. I'm in Yogyakarta. It's a second city of Java.

HEMMER: Did you know the tsunami hit? I understand you were in the mountains at the time when the disaster struck 12 days ago.

R. BERNARD: Yes, I was out in the mountains, and we don't have -- out in the mountains here, no, we don't have electronic media. So it did take me a while. Finally, around the 2nd, 3rd of January, I began to get some information about it. And at first, it didn't seem to be so big, and then suddenly, we were inundated with news and realized the extent of it.

HEMMER: Yes, can you understand how concerned your family was, Ruel?

R. BERNARD: Yes, now I can. I was kind of shocked at the time when I got here at Yogyakarta, which was my first e-mail stop, I found out I had 25 desperate e-mails.

HEMMER: Wow. 25 and counting, too.

Melissa, Wednesday night, midnight time in Seattle, what happened there? What did you receive?

MELISSA FLOOD, BROTHER ALIVE & WELL: Well, I was actually in bed asleep, and my sister, Andrea, who has been checking the -- both her e-mail and also the sites where you list the people that you're looking for, suddenly she saw that she had an e-mail from Ruel in her in-box, thinking it was something she had sent to him, and it took her a few minutes to realize it was from him, and she came running up the steps saying they're fine -- They're fine! They're fine! They've completely fine. It was great.

HEMMER: That was a heck of an e-mail, wasn't it? Talk about you've got mail, right?

To your brother Michael, what, 2:30 in the morning?

M. BERNARD: From Melissa, yes.

HEMMER: How did you get the news?

M. BERNARD: How did I get it? Melissa woke me up with a phone call saying he's fine. And I turned on my computer and I pulled up the same e-that mail she got, which I gave you a copy of.

HEMMER: Yes, the other day on Wednesday, you told me you weren't too concerned, but your mother had big concerns.

M. BERNARD: My mother had just about given up hope. We were -- I was still carrying a little hope that he would show up some place, but we were totally -- we had no idea where he was or what he was doing. The last I had heard he was going to be going towards the earthquake area, from -- this is before the earthquake, but he said he was going to be leaving Bali and heading in that direction, and that was the last we knew.

HEMMER: Hey, Ruel, I understand your mother wants to lay a bit of a whooping on you.

FLOOD: You're in trouble.

HEMMER: Hey, Ruel, on a serious note, what are people saying now that you are hearing there in Jakarta about the tragedy?

R. BERNARD: What I've been really impressed with is that people here are just -- it's the whole country mobilized in solidarity. Now on the television, all of the artists of Indonesia have gotten together and had constant telethons on the news. There's people in the street, everywhere you see, there's people in the street collecting money for the victims. It's a country that's really pulling together.

HEMMER: Keep that e-mail coming. Ruel Bernard, seeing it firsthand now in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Thanks to, Melissa. Enjoy your weekend. It's going to be much better weekend now, isn't it?

FLOOD: Much better. Thank you.

HEMMER: All right, Ruel, thanks to you, and Melissa and Michael, thanks for coming back down here in New York City. Good to see all you.

Good story there. The State Department asking American families with new or updated information to call the 24-hour hotline at 888- 404-4747. That's the same number we were giving out this time yesterday.

Also tune in later tonight, 10:00 Eastern Time, an hour-long special, "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS," hosted by Paula Zahn, tracing the timeline of the disaster from the first tremor to the current events, including personal stories of grief and courage, and certainly as we have just witnessed here, the survivors.

Let's get back to Heidi Collins now and say good morning, looking at the other headlines. Heidi, good morning to you.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you, Bill. And good morning to you, everybody.

Now in the news this morning, just days before the Palestinians choose a replacement for Yasser Arafat, one of the presidential candidates has apparently been detained. Mustafa Barghouti is considered the most serious challenger to Mahmoud Abbas, who will most likely win Sunday's election. Police sources say Barghouti was detained just hours ago near Jerusalem's old city while trying to campaign near a spot sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

A new CIA internal report suggests agency officials should be held accountable for intelligence failures prior to 9/11. According to intelligence officials, cited by "The New York Times," former director George Tenet, and other high-ranking officials are blamed for not providing enough resources for combating terror before the attacks. Details of the report are still classified. A final version expected within weeks.

Hundreds of people in South Carolina are still unable to return to their homes this morning, 24 hours now after the deadly collision of two freight trains. We first brought you this story as it happened on yesterday's show. Eight people were apparently killed, all by chlorine gas that leaked from damaged railcars. More than 5,000 people were ordered out of the area. At least 45 remain hospitalized. Federal officials are conducting an investigation.

And it looks like the flu vaccine shortage may be over. According to "USA Today," some suppliers are worried that shots will be wasted. Last year's shortage apparently turned into a surplus because so many people opted to forego the vaccine after a British manufacturer failed to supply 50 million doses on time.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: Colin Powell says that the disaster in Southeast Asia is the worst he has ever seen. What is the U.S. responsibility now in the region? John King, an exclusive interview with the secretary of state in a moment here.

COLLINS: Also the murder convictions of Andrea Yates overturned. Will she go free?

HEMMER: And vital shipping ports, oil refineries and chemical plants, potential terror targets next to New York City. Why is the government slashing the money to protect them? We'll check it out after this, on a Friday edition of AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: CNN Security Watch. A possible danger built into the way homeland security money is divided in this country. The Department of Homeland Security has cut funding for the state of New Jersey, despite what they consider high-risk terror targets there. Colonel Rick Fuentes is the superintendent with the New Jersey State Police. He's also my guest now here in New York.

Colonel, good morning to you. You were in D.C. yesterday right, meeting with homeland security officials?

COL. RICK FUENTES, SUPERINTENDENT, NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE: Yes.

HEMMER: How did that meeting go?

FUENTES: The meeting was good. Nobody was reserved. It was a good-spirited meeting. We really want to thank Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson for meeting with us. The entire New Jersey Congressional Delegation was there, as well as the attorney general.

HEMMER: What do you want, colonel?

FUENTES: Well, we want to get a reallocation of funds. We were cut 40 percent in our urban security initiative funds. We were given $34 million last year, and this year we're getting $19 million. That's a cut of about 40 percent.

HEMMER: From 2004 to 2005, you're saying?

FUENTES: Yes, from 2004 to 2005.

HEMMER: Why does your state need that money?

FUENTES: Well, we have arguably as much or more critical infrastructure as New York City. And you're talking about New York City, who I think really deserved the funds, getting increased threefold, and us getting cut 40 percent, simply for the width of a river, and that certainly doesn't make any sense, and that's why we're...

HEMMER: This is what I understand, federal money helped you purchase three substantial watercraft lately, each to the tune of $750,000.

FUENTES: Right.

HEMMER: Equipped with radar and sonar. That appears to be significant.

FUENTES: Well, there's two different grants -- there's a homeland security grant that every state gets, and then there's a special grant based upon risk, and that goes to about 50 cities in the United States. In New Jersey, those core cities are Jersey City and Newark, where the population is about 3.4 million. It's about half the population of New York City. That was an additional 34 million in fiscally year '04. In fiscal year, '05, that was cut, and we were using that money for a number of initiatives, including putting together a thousand-strong mobile army of law enforcement officers up in the northern part of the state.

HEMMER: Are you here to say today that if you don't get the proper amount of money, that people in New Jersey are not safe?

FUENTES: No, absolutely not. We're always going to get the job done. But the bottom line is we're not going to be able to get additional equipment, we're not going to be able to get fire trucks, we're not going to get field hospitals, we're not going to be able to get decontamination shelters, God forbid should ever need them.

So, those are the types of things that we can't move forward to the next step of what we started with.

HEMMER: This is the argument that keeps coming back, New Jersey gets, what, 7 bucks per resident in your state?

FUENTES: About that.

HEMMER: Out in Wyoming, it's about $27 dollars per resident. Is this the growing pains of a system that comes out of Washington that is still learning how to perfect this country?

FUENTES: No, that's the uniform allocation that goes to every single state in the country, and that's the homeland security grant. The grant that we really went down there to address is the Urban Area Securities Initiative Grant, that brought us 34 additional million dollars last year, and that was cut by 40 percent this year. HEMMER: More meetings?

FUENTES: Absolutely. The meeting yesterday was very, very positive. We're now going to move forward with the technical working group. But we're going to take a look at this formula for that particular security initiative grant, see if we can't change it.

HEMMER: Good luck to you.

FUENTES: Thank you so much.

HEMMER: Colonel Rick Fuentes, out of the state of New Jersey with us this morning.

FUENTES: Thank you.

HEMMER: Stay with CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security. We'll have it for you when we get it here. It looks like the sky is falling for yet another major airline. Andy is back "Minding Your Business." A story he has followed for two weeks now. Back in a moment after this on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Now the follow-up to a story that Andy has been watching now for weeks. More airlines now embracing lower fares. Seems like a pretty good thing. Andy Serwer here, "Minding Your Business."

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE": That is unless it drives more companies into bankruptcy and there are no planes left flying in the air. That's right, Bill. We've been covering this every day. Now five airlines matching Delta's move to slash fares. American, for instance, saying fares -- top fares down by as much as 55 percent. And also getting rid of the Saturday night stayover for most of their flights, American is. You wonder what this is doing to the hotel and car rental business, by the way.

HEMMER: How much of that is desperation, do you think?

SERWER: Well, it's necessary. I mean, what's desperation and what's -- you know, they have to do it. I mean, they have to match competitors. And obviously Southwest has led the way. Southwest, 1971 you go back to. Jack mentioned the other day, airline deregulation, that was in 1978. Took a long time for the other shoe to drop. We're finally seeing it.

When is a union contract not a union contract? When a federal judge voids it. That's what happened yesterday. A federal judge voided that contract between U.S.Air and its machinists, just tore it up. Also said the pension plans -- that was null and void as well. Pay cuts up to 35 percent for the machinists. Savings of to $270 million.

Continental Airlines now saying that it may run out of cash by the end of February. Seeks $500 million in pay cuts from its employees. And this is really pretty shocking because Continental was considered to be the healthiest of the big old line carriers. That stock is down more than 20 percent over the last two days.

HEMMER: Seems like every day another shoe drops.

SERWER: Dominoes falling. That's right, it's a real sick industry and we're watching it.

HEMMER: Thank you, Andy, for that.

SERWER: You're welcome.

COLLINS: Time now for "The Cafferty File" and the question of the day. Good morning.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks, Heidi. A study released this week entitled "What do Americans do on the Internet?" -- we're not talking about the stuff that Andy does on the Internet.

SERWER: Excuse me?

CAFFERTY: But stuff that other Americans do on the Internet.

SERWER: I'm looking at the airlines.

CAFFERTY: Found that the average person spends three hours day online. Researchers at the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society, which is an institution we're in close contact with at all times, have found that for every hour spent using the Internet, the amount of time spent watching television is lowered by ten minutes. That's not a good thing for us. Sleep is shortened by eight and a half minutes, and face-to-face contact with friends and co- workers is reduced -- and family -- by 23 1/2 minutes. That may be a good thing, it may not. Depends on what kind of family you've got, there.

In the last ten years, the Internet's become, of course, an important part of everybody's daily routine. 75 percent of Americans are connected, but is it a good thing? Are we losing personal contact with the people around us? Here's the question. How has the Internet affected your life? And since it's Friday, you can write about anything else you want. And we'll read some of that. I already got a letter due in a couple minutes about this ill-fated effort on the part of a couple Democrats to hold up the certification of the presidential election.

HEMMER: That was an interesting twist yesterday.

CAFFERTY: Four hours. Four hours they delayed the certification. The election results hadn't been challenged since like 1877. But there were a couple of morons that said oh, well, let's have a challenge.

SERWER: That's not going to win any hearts and minds, is it?

HEMMER: I would say.

CAFFERTY: In the next election you can bet the Republicans will remember.

COLLINS: Popular vote, electoral vote, whichever. All right, Jack, thank you.

TGIF, by the way, huh? Let's get a sneak peek at the Friday edition of "90 Second Pop."

(MUSIC)

What do red state voters think now? The White House taps a rock and roll bad boy for a big job. Plus, producers tinker with a winning formula. Is there trouble ahead for "American Idol"? Later on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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