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Rice Confirmation Hearing; Inaugural Security; Iran & Iraq
Aired January 18, 2005 - 7:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats take another shot at Condoleezza Rice. Her confirmation hearing for secretary of state two hours away. This time, she's under oath.
Protecting the president during the inauguration. What is the single greatest risk? A former Secret Service agent gives us details from the inside.
A spectacular introduction for the biggest passenger plane in the world. Airlines now rushing to buy an A-380.
And at the bottom of the world, the iceberg versus the glacier. Two giants getting ready to tangle on this AMERICAN MORNING.
ANNOUNCER: From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Bill Hemmer.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. 7:00 here in New York. Soledad is back with us today.
And good morning to you.
O'BRIEN: Thank you.
HEMMER: Chilly outside, isn't it?
O'BRIEN: It sure is.
HEMMER: Winter finally arrived in the Northeast in a big way.
O'BRIEN: I liked it better when it was 60 degrees on a winter morning.
HEMMER: I bet you did. Be tough, hang in there. Chad has our forecast in a moment.
And it's a big day for Condoleezza Rice today, and a big day for the president, too, getting the pieces lined up for his second term. Rice's Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state starts in two hours. That's at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
It could be very interesting, too, with last year's 9/11 testimony as a backdrop for today. Reports from Capitol Hill, the White House and Jeff Greenfield about what drama we may see today down there in Washington.
O'BRIEN: Also this morning, this report that the U.S. is scouting targets for military strikes in Iran. The Pentagon calling it bunk, even though the president is not ruling it out. Ken Pollack joins us in just a little bit to talk a little bit about the chances of any of this coming true.
HEMMER: Also, Jack Cafferty looking towards something down there in D.C. on Thursday, right?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Well, three days, actually. The -- I guess the formal inauguration happens Thursday, but the three days of balls and parades and dances and parties and celebrations and breakfasts and lunches. Tickets start at about 800 bucks a copy, if you want to attend any of this stuff. You probably can't get in anyway.
Total cost, $40 million to mark President Bush's second term in office. We're going to take your temperature on whether you think that's an appropriate amount of money and whether that's the right tone to be set during the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism.
HEMMER: We'll be there Thursday morning on Capitol Hill. Thank you, Jack.
Heidi Collins has the headlines this morning.
Heidi, good morning to you.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you guys. And good morning to you, everybody.
"Now in the News" this morning, a Catholic archbishop in Iraq is now free this morning, one day after his abduction. Vatican officials telling CNN gunmen released the archbishop just hours ago. No ransom has apparently been paid. This despite a call from a group claiming to hold him hostage, demanding $200,000 for his release.
Here in the United States now, inaugural week festivities kicking off for President Bush today. The president will attend a salute to the military this afternoon. The events emcee is actor Kelsey Grammer. On tap for this evening, a youth concert at the D.C. Armory headlining Hillary Duff and Ruben Studdard.
The U.N. world conference on disaster reduction is meeting this morning in Kobe, Japan. Topping the agenda is work on an early warning system for the Indian Ocean like the one set up in the Pacific Ocean. Some 3,000 delegates are attending from 150 countries.
And it's being called the cruise ship of the skies. Plane maker Airbus unveiling its new A-380 less than two hours ago in a lavish ceremony including dancers and dry ice. That's always good when you unveil a plane.
Weighing 1.2 million pounds, the 555-seat double-decker super jumbo jet will be the world's largest passenger airliner, complete with bars and shopping. The first test flight scheduled for March or April.
O'BRIEN: It looks all right.
COLLINS: Dry ice?
O'BRIEN: I like that nice looking little bar.
HEMMER: Thank you, Heidi.
COLLINS: You bet.
HEMMER: About two hours from now, Condoleezza Rice will be asked why she is qualified to be the next secretary of state. We have coverage this morning from Ed Henry on Capitol Hill, Suzanne Malveaux at the White House. First, we begin there on Capitol Hill with Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.
Even Democrats acknowledge that Condoleezza Rice has the experience to be secretary of state, but they're vowing tough questions in this hearing room about her past controversies, but also her vision for the future.
HENRY (voice-over): Condoleezza Rice is such a big football fan, she's toyed with the idea of some day becoming commissioner of the NFL. For now, she just wants to be secretary of state. And Rice's love of the gridiron may be good practice for her confirmation hearings.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: Well, they will try to play this bump and run, try to knock her off stride. Ultimately, they're going to be voting for her to be secretary of state.
HENRY: Senator John Kerry will be among the Democrats grilling Rice on everything from her handling of terror warnings before 9/11 to her role in faulty intelligence reports leading up to the war in Iraq.
SUSAN RICE, FMR. KERRY ADVISER: I think it will be a robust questioning of her record, looking backwards, as well as, of course, the president's record. But it will also be an opportunity to try to pin her down on where she sees foreign policy going in the course of the second term.
HENRY: Rice can also expect tough questions from Republican Richard Lugar, who wants to here hear her vision on hotspots like Iran, North Korea, HIV-AIDS in Africa and Mideast peace. Allies say Rice will preview the theme of President Bush's inaugural address, spreading democracy around the world. And they say the personal story of Rice, who grew up in the segregated South, will help her carry that banner on the world stage. ALLEN: As we try to advance freedom for all people in the -- in the world, regardless of their race or their gender or their ethnicity or religious beliefs, I think her own life experiences makes her an even stronger person to advocate the concepts of freedom.
HENRY: Today's hearing is very likely to play out just as Alberto Gonzalez' hearing for the attorney general job played out earlier this month. Some vigorous questioning, but in the end, even Democrats acknowledge Condoleezza Rice is going to be confirmed easily -- Bill.
HEMMER: Ed Henry on Capitol Hill.
From the White House now, where folks there think this should be a quick process there.
Suzanne, is that right? Good morning.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.
They certainly hope so. They even hope that perhaps she'll be confirmed as early as Thursday, the day of the president's inauguration.
Now, of course, this morning, she'll be giving an opening statement. CNN has obtained a copy of that statement, some excerpts from the statement.
She will start off talking about now is the time to build on these achievements. She's talking about the United States and its allies, to make the world safer, and to make the world more free. "We must use American diplomacy to help create a balance of power in the world that favors freedom. And the time for democracy is now."
She'll also outline what she says are three tasks related to diplomacy, American diplomacy. Uniting community of democracies and building an international system based on shared values and the rule of law. Also, she'll talk about strengthening the communities of democracies to fight the threats of our common security, she says, and alleviate the hopelessness that feeds terror.
And finally, she also says she'll spread freedom and democracy throughout the globe. And she says that is the mission President Bush has set for America and the world, and the great mission of American diplomacy today.
She'll also talk about her own personal background. She'll be thanking former civil rights leaders, saying that she owes it to them, that she's in the position today where she is.
Of course, as you know, Bill, she has a number of challenges ahead. Her first immediate challenge will be to work with foreign diplomats, career diplomats in the State Department after a superstar like Powell has left. And then, of course, also to repair those international relations with much of Europe -- Bill.
HEMMER: Go back to that list you just drew up there for us, Suzanne. What is the first order of business, if confirmed?
MALVEAUX: Well, she says first what she wants to do is that she has to develop relationships with the -- with the staff at the State Department. But you're looking at, of course dealing with the war on terror, to rebuild those alliances with the countries, with France, with Germany, with Russia.
As you know, there was quite a bit of tension before. That's the first priority.
Secondly, of course, she says she wants to get personally involved in the Middle East initiatives. That is something that she crafted with the president, and said she wants to carry that through.
HEMMER: Thanks, Suzanne. Suzanne Malveaux at the White House. Ed Henry on Capitol Hill.
When the hearing begins, we'll get you there live. Again, expect it later today, 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time down there on Capitol Hill -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Well, along with the usual pomp and circumstance, security in Washington for Thursday's inaugural will be unprecedented. Joseph Petro knows all about protecting a president. He spent 23 years in the Secret Service, writes about the experience in his new book. It's called "Standing Next to History." Joseph Petro joins us this morning.
Nice to see you. Thanks for coming in to talk to us.
JOSEPH PETRO, FMR. SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: How difficult is it to protect not just the president, but really there's an entire area which has to be sort of clamped down and protected. An area where you have lots of people who want to come through and move relatively easily.
PETRO: Well, it is very difficult. But the Secret Service has been doing inaugurals for a very long time, 100 years. So they have a lot of experience.
The challenge for an inaugural really is what you said. There are a whole lot of events that are compressed into one day. But the Secret Service has sort of a blueprint of protection that they -- they are constantly updating and revising. And that blueprint works well whether the president's giving a speech in a small hotel in Des Moines or swearing in on the Capitol steps.
The issue really is -- I mean, part of that blueprint is really perimeters and how they -- how they establish perimeters around an event. And certainly for the inaugural, those perimeters are much greater than they would be for some other event. These sort of lateral perimeters keep expanding because of the threat. Originally, it was -- the Secret Service worried about a single assassin with a handgun or a rifle. Today, we're dealing with much more complex threats, and so those perimeters have to continue to be expanded.
And I think it's not just the lateral perimeters, it's also the vertical perimeters now. The threat dealing with aircraft and airborne objects, whether that's a chemical weapon or a rocket. But all these -- these -- these threats create a challenge for the Secret Service. But they don't do this job alone. They have a lot of help.
O'BRIEN: How much does it complicate things when the president decides, for example, in the parade, you know, I'm going to hop out of the car and start shaking hands? I mean, because, frankly, this is the kickoff to a second term. And part of the president's goal is to go and meet and greet the people who have supported him.
PETRO: Well, it's not the first time the president's walked. President Carter walked the entire length in 1977. They're prepared for that. It's choreographed.
O'BRIEN: So he -- the president will say, "This is where I'm getting out?"
PETRO: Well, I think it's established where that probably will happen. And the public may not know where that's going to be, but the Secret Service would. And they prepare those areas, you know, to deal with that kind of an exposure.
O'BRIEN: How much will the public see as an increase in security given that this is the first inauguration post-9/11?
PETRO: Well, I think that's a good question. I think protection in the past has been somewhat subtle, although you could argue it's visible.
I think it's going to be much more obvious this time. I mean, we see that here in New York with police officers with automatic weapons. And we've never seen that before. So protection is going to be much more obvious.
O'BRIEN: What are you concerned about, or the -- or were you concerned about back in 1989, when you were in the Secret Service and overseeing the inauguration then, as far as outside of the president, outside of protecting the man himself?
PETRO: Well, you know, part of these -- part of the formula for these events is not just protecting the president, but protecting everybody. I mean, we want to keep everyone safe.
The general public who attend the events, that's an important part of this. So the -- I mean, the Secret Service, of course the focus is keeping the president safe. But you've a major event here where you have to expand those -- those responsibilities to keep everyone away from harm. O'BRIEN: Is there a concern, though, if the Capitol area is clamped down and there's terrific security there, that somehow it draws focus away from some of the other landmarks which would, frankly, honestly, be a perfectly good target for a terrorist on a day when everybody else's attention is focused on the Capitol?
PETRO: Yes, that's right. Yes, I think that's a fair assessment.
I think that -- I'm sure they're going to take care of those. I think it's even -- even further than that. I think even other cities may be subject to some kind of problems, whether it's New York or Los Angeles. I think all the cities are going to be in heightened alert and much more attentive over the next few days.
O'BRIEN: Well, let's all hope that it goes off smoothly and without a hitch. Mr. Petro, nice to see you. The book again, "Standing Next to History." Great pictures in this book of you literally standing next to history, the president, Reagan, that you were protecting at the time. Nice to have you.
PETRO: Thank you, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: And, of course, we're going to be in Washington, D.C., on Thursday for AMERICAN MORNING's special live coverage of the inaugural preparations. That begins at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time -- Bill.
HEMMER: And it was, what, windy and rainy four years ago. This year it's going to be cold. We know that.
Much of America now held in the grip of Mr. Freeze. Try the town in Minnesota known as Embarrass. Now, it might be Embarrass. We'll find out in a moment here from Chad. Possibly the coldest spot yesterday at minus 54.
Some other cold spots: Babbit, Minnesota, minus 51; Grand Forks, North Dakota, minus 37; Upson, Wisconsin, 33 below. The pictures coming into CNN, enough to chill you to the bone.
Here's what it looks like in Duluth, Minnesota, four below zero. Minus 40 with the wind-chill.
Champaign, Illinois, a viaduct sporting some huge icicles dangling over the roadway. And in North Kingsville, Ohio, the snow blowers there getting a workout. Anything for a little warmth, too, down in Birmingham, Alabama.
In the Deep South, temperatures there dropping yesterday into the teens. Even in Florida, they got out skeet jackets. Thirty-two in Jacksonville, 28 in Tallahassee.
O'BRIEN: Eighty degrees in Viecas (ph), Puerto Rico.
HEMMER: That it is. But we're not there.
HEMMER: Here's Chad Myers this morning.
Hey, Chad. How are you?
O'BRIEN: Hey, Chad.
HEMMER: Thank you, Chad.
Is the U.S. running secret missions in Iran? The Pentagon fires back at this report out over the weekend. But did it really shoot down one of the biggest claims? We'll look at that in a moment with Ken Pollack.
O'BRIEN: Also this morning, our series "What's in the for Me?" The religious right turned out the vote in 2004. So what happens if the president does not deliver?
HEMMER: Also, the "New You Revolution." Meet a minister today who wants to get fit and send a message to her flock. Back in a moment here on a Tuesday morning here on AMERICAN MORNING.
HEMMER: Eighteen minutes past the hour now. The Pentagon dismissing allegations that it's planning to attack missile sites in Iran. Journalist Seymour Hersh in "The New Yorker" claims the U.S. has conducted secret missions to learn about sites in Iran for potential air strikes there.
The Pentagon says the accusations are "riddled with errors." But again, the question persists, do Hersh's claims have any credibility?
Our CNN analyst, Ken Pollack, is the author of "The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America," and he's back with us from the Saban Center down in D.C.
Ken, good morning. Welcome back here.
KEN POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: Good morning, Bill.
HEMMER: We're going to talk about Iran and Iraq. Have you heard a flat-out denial about this article, that it's simply not true?
POLLACK: I've heard a flat-out denial from a number of Pentagon officials. And I've heard -- well, I'll put it this way... I've heard a flat-out denial of a number of the claims that Sy makes in the piece, and particularly that the United States is running reconnaissance missions into Iran, which I actually think may be, in fact, quite reasonable.
HEMMER: Listen to what Seymour Hersh told us yesterday here on AMERICAN MORNING about the big plan here in the Middle East. Listen and we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEYMOUR HERSH, "THE NEW YORKER": I think the important thing to understand is Iraq is one war zone and it's separate. Iran is another. Syria's yet another. The global war on terrorism.
There's a lot of war zones, and a lot of things are going to happen in the second administration. This president really believes that his mission is to make the Middle East, change it in a way that makes the world and America safer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: There's a lot of war zones and a lot of things are going to happen in the second administration for President Bush. Like what, based on what Seymour Hersh is writing?
POLLACK: Well, I think the honest answer, Bill, is we don't know. What Sy is getting at is certainly there is a group of people within the Pentagon, within some other elements of the administration who do have this vision, who very much want to see the United States as a transformative force in the Middle East and are willing to use force, in fact eager to use force in some cases to do it.
I also think that what Sy is suggesting is that the president I think is philosophically inclined to support this kind of a viewpoint. But I think there's a big step from that kind of philosophical inclination and the desire among these Defense Department officials to move in this direction to actual implementation of policy. And what you hear from many other people in the bureaucracy is kind of a, yeah, there are people who would like to go this direction, but we understand that there are real limitations on us right now.
HEMMER: For those who don't believe nuclear ambition is a good thing for Iran to have at this point, is this a bad thing to be out in the public?
POLLACK: No, it isn't necessarily, in the sense that it may put some pressure on different places. And, in particular, Sy writing this might kind of goad the administration to actually sit down and come up with a formal Iran policy, which has been one of the problems that we've had for the past six or eight months.
That said, I think we do have to recognize that this article is not going to play well in Iran. Iranians are fiercely nationalistic. They resist any kind of insinuation that the United States is interfering in their internal affairs. And the hard-liners in Iran are doubtless going to use this to try to rally people around their cause.
HEMMER: We've got about a minute left here. Let's talk about Iraq quickly. And let's talk about a piece in the "LA Times" this morning.
It goes to the very point about how the U.S. will eventually get out of the country of Iraq. This is what it says: offensive operations are "not the long-term solution. The long-term solution is with the Iraqis. Training Iraqis is the whole nine yards right now. If they don't get better, we can't get out of there."
Is that the second phase for Iraq, post January 30, Ken?
POLLACK: I'll put it this way, Bill. I think it's probably the third phase. And I think that's the problem.
I think the quote is correct that offensive operations are not going to win the war for the United States and for the Iraqi people. I think that it is the case that over the long term, we've got to turn this over to the Iraqis.
The problem is the gap in the middle. We don't have the forces right now to handle the mission themselves, and we don't have the Iraqi forces ready yet to take over the mission. And that's the problem that we've got to solve in the next two years.
HEMMER: Wow. In a second or two here, have you thought about February in Iraq? What gives after the election's over?
POLLACK: I think that it's going to be a real process to get a new Iraqi government. And I think the Iraqis in particular are going to be looking to see if this new government can deliver on security, on the provision of basic services in the way that the United States and the previous Iraqi governments haven't. If they can do that, I think the Iraqis will support it. If not, I think we'll see more of the same.
HEMMER: Thanks, Ken. Ken Pollack. Twelve days and counting for those elections in Iraq.
POLLACK: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Well, scientists say a huge collision in the Antarctic could happen any day now. An iceberg the size of Long Island is moving toward a smash-up with a glacier. Iceberg watchers say such a crash could present some big problems for ship traffic, clogging sea lanes with more huge pieces of ice.
Be sure to join us around 8:00 Eastern Time this morning. We're going to talk to Denton Ebel of the American Museum of Natural History about some of the implications of this.
HEMMER: All right. Twenty-three minutes past the hour.
A tale of greed, debauchery and a $6,000 gold-threaded shower curtain. Andy is back "Minding Your Business" right after this on AMERICAN MORNING.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.
It is time for the Tyco trial part dieu. And finally, the WorldCom bankruptcy fiasco comes to a courtroom as well. Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business" this morning.
Lots to talk about trial-wise.
ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: Indeed. The corporate scandal update this morning, Soledad. Let's start off with WorldCom.
The man allegedly behind an $11 billion accounting fraud in the largest bankruptcy in history goes on trial in Lower Manhattan this morning. Bernie Ebbers, who built WorldCom into one of the largest telecom companies in the world -- it started off in a coffee shop in Mississippi in 1983 -- faces charges of securities fraud and is looking at 85 years in jail.
Just blocks away, also in Lower Manhattan, as Soledad says, the retrial of Dennis Kozlowski. You remember this trial last year. It sort of ended under rather bizarre circumstances.
Juror number four, Ruth Jordan, allegedly signaling the plaintiffs and then received threatening letters. And the whole thing was thrown out. And, of course, who can forget the $6,000 shower curtain?
That was also part of this trial as well. So there is the Kozlowski manse.
O'BRIEN: And the party, the togas.
SERWER: Yes, and the -- yes, and all sorts of things at that party, Soledad. You remember that. Very interesting.
So he just gave an interview, said he didn't pick out the shower curtain, by the way. He said that in "The New York Times." Someone else did. Isn't that always the case with $6,000 shower curtains?
SERWER: It's always...
O'BRIEN: It's always those darn interior decorators.
SERWER: Right. And then, finally, Peter Bacanovic, Martha Stewart's stockbroker, begins his sentence outside of Las Vegas at Camp Nellis (ph), a five-month sentence he'll be doing.
O'BRIEN: Gosh, it is scandal watch this morning.
SERWER: A lot of stuff going on. That's right.
O'BRIEN: All right. Andy, thank you very much.
SERWER: You're welcome.
HEMMER: From the docket, back to Jack now and the "Question of the Day."
CAFFERTY: Thank you, Bill. President Bush's inauguration for a second term spread over three days this week at a cost of $40 million. Nobody argues with the right of the president to celebrate his hard-fought election victory. But the country is at war, soldiers are dying in Iraq.
Much of the cost of this year's festivities being underwritten by large corporations like Exxon and defense contractor United Technologies. These are companies with a vested interest in pending legislation and regulations.
Critics argue it just doesn't look right. Here's the question. At $40 million, is the inauguration too expensive? AM@CNN.com is the e- mail address.
O'BRIEN: Good question.
HEMMER: The balls start tonight. Thank you, Jack.
O'BRIEN: Well, 2004 was a watershed election year for the religious right. But what happens if those voters don't get what they want in the second Bush term? One woman's story is just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
Stay with us.
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