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Is Pentagon Getting Ready For an All-Out Assault by Insurgents?
Aired April 22, 2005 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A deadly strike on a helicopter in Iraq. New attacks again today. Is the Pentagon getting ready for an all out assault by insurgents?
The accused cop killer who appeared in court with stunning injuries. Now the FBI wants to talk to police about allegations of brutality.
And doing everything to keep kids off drugs. There is new evidence that parents may be the suppliers and not even know it.
That's all ahead this hour here on AMERICAN MORNING.
ANNOUNCER: From the CNN broadcast center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Bill Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.
Welcome back, everybody.
The only man charged in connection to the 9/11 attacks could plead guilty today. But nobody really knows for sure what to expect from Zacarias Moussaoui. Jeff Toobin is going to help us just ahead this morning. He's going to tell us what is going to happen today; also, take a look at what could still go wrong for prosecutors.
HEMMER: A pretty good riddle today, too, yes.
Also, Pope Benedict XVI addressing cardinals earlier today. He's getting ready for another big day at the Vatican, also, this weekend, too. We'll get a report on what's happening there in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Mr. Cafferty -- what's that smile?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How are you doing?
Coming up in "The Cafferty File," airport security has finally reached its illogical extreme in this country.
A plan to keep lottery players from clogging up your local convenience store while you're trying to get coffee in the morning.
And a look inside Marilyn Monroe's little black book.
HEMMER: A little something for everyone.
CAFFERTY: We'll see whose names are in there.
HEMMER: Thank you, Jack.
First to the headlines and to Carol Costello for that -- Carol, good morning.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.
Good morning to all of you.
Now in the news, an explosion at a Shiite mosque in Baghdad. Officials say a car bomb apparently exploded after Friday prayers. At least two people were killed, more than 20 others injured. Police are sealing off the area now. Much more on the violence in Iraq coming up.
The price tag for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are pushing past $300 billion. The Senate overwhelmingly approved another $81 billion on Thursday. Law makers are still arguing over how the money should be used, but President Bush is expected to get a final version of the bill soon. The Pentagon says it needs that money by next month.
In Columbus, Ohio, a friend of the only person killed in a string of 12 highway shootings due to take the stand today. During opening statements Thursday, prosecutors said the woman will testify she heard a loud noise before seeing her friend slump over and gasping for air. Attorneys for suspect Charles McCoy Jr. say he was the shooter, but could not distinguish right from wrong because of untreated schizophrenia.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are looking into reports of suspicious people poking around hospitals. In each case, the impostors were stopped by security guards or hospital staff. The "Washington Post" reports that fake inspectors have been discovered in Boston, Detroit and Los Angeles. No one has been arrested. And it's not really clear who the people were or what exactly they were doing.
A change of command high above the Earth today. In about 16 minutes, NASA will pass control of the International Space Station to the Expedition 11 crew. The Russian commander and American astronaut could be the first to host a shuttle crew in two-and-a-half years. I love those pictures.
HEMMER: They're so happy to see the next crew come on board.
COSTELLO: Yes. Because they're new people.
HEMMER: Thanks, Carol.
O'BRIEN: New developments to tell you about out of Iraq this morning.
The Arabic language network, Al Jazeera, airing some videotape appearing to show a commercial helicopter being shot down on Thursday. The network also said that a second group was claiming responsibility. CNN cannot confirm the video's authenticity.
Also this morning, a U.S. soldier killed by a roadside bomb in northern Iraq. This latest upturn in violence being closely watched by U.S. officials.
CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon this morning for us -- hey, Barbara, good morning.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.
Well, the U.S. military will now take over the investigation into that downing of that commercial helicopter. All of this coming, of course, as violence again is on the rise in Iraq and U.S. commanders are quite concerned that the insurgents might be trying to score a spectacular hit.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
STARR (voice-over): The death of 11 civilians on a chartered helicopter is just the latest violence in a violent week in Iraq. U.S. officials believe the helicopter was brought down by hostile fire. Insurgent video shows the execution of a man, which the tape suggests apparently survived the crash.
After weeks of decline, attacks now number about 50 a day. U.S. officials are watching closely to assess what the insurgents might do next.
LARRY DI RITA, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: The commanders wonder whether they're marshaling their dwindling capacity on being able to conduct these kinds of, what appear to be better coordinated attacks, but more spectacular and perhaps fewer more spectacular attacks. There's -- that's speculation.
STARR: One senior military officer tells CNN there is concern, however, insurgents may keep trying to overrun a U.S. military outpost. Already, the insurgents have failed twice to do just that. In March, there was a coordinated insurgent attack on the U.S. troops guarding the Abu Ghraib Prison. Earlier this month, Marines near the Syrian border repealed a series of three car bomb attacks at their base.
DI RITA: The fact is that the security forces and coalition are developing some capacity to interrupt these things or to stop them before they cause real damage.
STARR: Iraqis are still bearing the brunt of the attacks. Government officials say they have recovered dozens of bodies from the Tigris River and from a stadium. And the al Qaeda network in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination of Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he believes the long-term trend in Iraq is still positive. DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Generally, we're going to see the insurgency be less successful over time. Still lethal from time to time. Don't mistake me.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STARR: Soledad, officials still say it's impossible to know whether the man shown in that insurgent video to be shot was actually one of the passengers on that commercial helicopter that was brought down yesterday. But the bottom line about this rise in violence in Iraq, one senior officer saying it's very premature to talk about breaking the back of the insurgency just yet -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: In the past, though, Barbara, you've talked about limited troop withdrawal from the United States out of Iraq.
So does it -- does the latest round of attacks, then, sort of scuttle those plans, do you think?
STARR: Well, here's what officials are saying, Soledad. They believe that the long-term trend is still going in the right direction, in their view, in Iraq, that things are getting better, that the insurgency is growing more desperate, they say, and unable to really mount any type of coordinated attacks that would impact the real long-term situation in Iraq.
But after a week like this, after a week of so many violent attacks, at least right now, this week, nobody's talking about bringing the troops home. They hope they still can, of course, over the long run -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us this morning.
Barbara, thanks -- Bill.
HEMMER: A bit later today, Zacarias Moussaoui expected to plead guilty to as many as six charges stemming from the attacks of 9/11. Four of these charges carry the death penalty. There's a federal judge in Virginia saying he is competent to make a plea, but apparently Moussaoui's lawyers beg to differ.
Our senior legal analyst is Jeffrey Toobin.
He stops by today here -- good morning to you.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning, sir.
HEMMER: What do we expect to happen today?
TOOBIN: Well, on one...
HEMMER: Underline the word expect.
TOOBIN: Expect, because no one really knows for sure. There was a closed door hearing earlier in the week where the judge interviewed Moussaoui or went over the plea and basically satisfied herself that the plea could go forward.
However, Phil Hirschkorn, a CNN producer who knows more about this case than anybody, has learned that Moussaoui's lawyers still think he's too crazy to be allowed to plead guilty and will try to stop the plea from going forward.
So we don't know for sure whether he'll actually plead guilty or not.
HEMMER: So his lawyers have a chance of stopping this.
That's the first point to make then?
Just to remember and step back a little bit with this case, Moussaoui was arrested in August, 2001, the month before 9/11. It has never been entirely clear whether he was part, whether he was going to be the 20th hijacker or he was simply a member of al Qaeda who was helping generally.
He has said look, I'm in al Qaeda, but I'm not involved -- I wasn't involved in 9/11. He's tried to plead guilty before. The judge has said no, you're too crazy. This has gone on for years now.
HEMMER: Now, the judge has said you're competent, I've evaluated you and my conclusion is that you can stand to reason and you can stand to talk and you can stand to make up your own mind.
How does the judge determine that?
TOOBIN: Well, it's difficult because it's not the same as being legally insane. There's a different standard. You simply have to understand what you're doing. And there have been many psychiatrists involved over the years analyzing, you know, whether he's in touch with reality. The judge will question the defendant directly -- a lot of that goes on in guilty pleas, to try to satisfy herself that he understands what he's doing.
But Moussaoui has changed a lot over -- I mean, you know, sometimes you see -- he seems sane, sometimes he doesn't. You know, you never know what's going to happen when he shows up in court.
HEMMER: If he decides to go forward with this guilty plea, if, we should say here, is it likely that he would give more information about the plot from four-and-a-half years ago or not?
TOOBIN: It is probably, because he will no longer have a fifth amendment right to refuse to answer questions.
TOOBIN: If he's pled guilty, there's no more risk to him.
You know, he said a lot already about what he knows. The information now is pretty old. Remember, this is a guy who's been in custody since August of 2001. You know, how much of it could be useful? But certainly, you know, he was someone who was at al Qaeda training camps, who was in touch with al Qaeda people. So he probably has useful information. But I don't know how useful it is now.
HEMMER: Yes, what was it, three years ago, he decided to plead guilty and he backed away from that, too? So all of that shows a cloud of confusion, as well?
TOOBIN: It shows that -- well, and, you know, he got up and talked for hours in the courtroom. I mean he's a very eccentric person, to say the least. Whether he's, you know, whether it'll go through today, we shall see.
HEMMER: It's got our interest.
We'll watch it.
Thank you, Jeff.
TOOBIN: All righty.
HEMMER: Good to see you -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: The FBI plans to meet with Rhode Island police officers today over allegations of police brutality. Earlier this week, we showed you the pictures of that suspect who was brought to court with some serious injuries to his face, so bad he had to wear a mask. But police say that the face that people need to remember is the face of the detective who was killed. His funeral was on Thursday.
Dan Lothian has our report.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The public knows him as the Rhode Island police officer gunned down while questioning a suspect. But 50-year-old Detective Sergeant James Allen was remembered for much more, as thousands from across the state and the country gathered to say farewell.
Retired Police Officer William Donley first met Detective Allen nearly 30 years ago when the then young man was first sworn in as a patrol officer.
WILLIAM DONLEY, RETIRED POLICE DETECTIVE: He was a very uncomplicated, diligent servant, public servant, someone who wanted to serve.
LOTHIAN: Just like his father, a retired detective who worked for the same department.
DONLEY: We don't want to say it should happen to someone else, but when you know his goodness, it just tears at you.
LOTHIAN: Last Sunday, at police headquarters, Allen was questioning 26-year-old Esteban Carpio in the stabbing of an elderly woman when the suspect allegedly grabbed Allen's own gun, shot him, then jumped out a third story window. He was later arrested.
Even as police investigate the shooting, they are also dealing with complaints from the suspect's family, who claim excessive force was used to apprehend him, leaving him bruised and battered.
But Allen's friends and family say this is the only victim in this tragedy.
At the funeral mass inside the very church Allen greeted worshipers at each week, his commander eulogized him as a dedicated, unselfish man in and out of uniform.
COMMANDER PAUL KENNEDY, RHODE ISLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: It didn't matter who you were or where you were from, if you were a victim of a crime, if you were someone in need, he wanted to help.
LOTHIAN: And, as his white draped coffin rested in the main aisle, Commander Kennedy spoke directly to his two daughters.
KENNEDY: Jennifer and Caitlin, your dad was someone who believed deeply in the value of study and mastering your craft. He was extremely proud of you both.
LOTHIAN (on camera): How do you want him to be remembered?
DONLEY: For the way he lived more than the way he died.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): Dan Lothian, CNN, Providence, Rhode Island.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
O'BRIEN: Providence police say they will not comment on the case until their investigation is finished -- Bill.
HEMMER: Fourteen minutes past the hour.
April 22 on the calendar.
Don't say that to the folks in Billings, Montana. They have to be wondering if it's really spring time there. The storm dumping up to four inches of snow on Thursday. In fact, the area has seen three days of rain and snow. The latest storm grounded flights at the airport. Farmers, though, say they welcome the extra moisture. They can use that after what was a pretty dry winter up there.
Chad's talking about snow in another part of the country, too.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely.
HEMMER: This is crazy.
MYERS: There is a huge tough going to get dug out of the atmosphere and very cold air is going to be allowed to come down from the north, Bill, for the weekend, for Detroit, for Toledo, Cleveland, all the way down to Columbus, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. There will be snow flying here. And as it starts to pile up in some spots, especially around Sandusky and Cedar Point, they'll have to shovel it in some spots.
It's just going to be a very cold air mass. It's going to sink all the way down to Mobile. In fact, all the way down to Cuba, for that matter. A very late season arctic type front that's just going to plow -- here it is right here. It's just going to plow right through the South and all the way down through and into places like Birmingham and Huntsville will have probably some frost around. So if you planted things outside expecting that your tomatoes will be fine because it's warming up, well, you may have to cover them up, especially Sunday morning.
O'BRIEN: All right, Chad, thanks.
MYERS: You're welcome.
O'BRIEN: Well, Pope Benedict XVI gets down to business. What he's telling cardinals as the Vatican prepares for a historic mass.
HEMMER: Also, an alarming trend among teenagers. More and more kids raiding the medicine cabinet to get high. We'll page Dr. Sanjay Gupta while parents need to know about this story.
O'BRIEN: And the hang-up over John Bolton's nomination. How a man who used to be one of the president's top advisers could be the one destroying Bolton's chances.
That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
Stay with us.
HEMMER: From Italy now, Rome gearing up for another influx of dignitaries and the faithful this weekend. The new pope set to be coronated over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the new pontiff also holding his first working meeting with the College of Cardinals. That happened this morning.
Jennifer Eccleston is live at the Vatican with more there -- hello, Jennifer.
JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello there, Bill.
Well, Pope Benedict's official public schedule is beginning to fill up. This morning, he met with all the cardinals present in Rome, including those who are over 80 and who were not eligible to vote in the conclave. They met this morning at the Sala Clementina in the Apostolic Palace.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ECCLESTON (voice-over): In the same hall where the College of Cardinals bid farewell to Pope John Paul II, today they greeted their new pontiff. Dressed in the traditional papal white cassock, looking relaxed and smiling often, Pope Benedict XVI greeted each cardinal individually. On several occasions, he walked over to those who were too frail to stand.
In his prepared address, he thanked the cardinals for their trust in electing, as he put it, "a simple man," and thanked god for allowing him to fulfill the great honor of being the 265th successor to Peter.
POPE BENEDICT XVI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This trust that you have placed in me has been an encouragement for me to undertake this new mission for the unity of the church.
ECCLESTON: The new pontiff said he continued to feel the presence of his predecessor and described as very moving the moment he addressed the massive crowds at St. Peter's Square after his election.
The city of Rome and the Vatican are making final preparations for Sunday's installation mass -- cranes directing large screen TVs and tractors moving thousands of chairs into place. Tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected to descend upon Rome, as well as dignitaries from around the world for the first papal installation mass in over a quarter century.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ECCLESTON: Bill, this week's appearances are part of the ways, both large and small, that a curial cardinal is being transformed into a pope, a pastor of the flock and the public face of worldwide Catholicism -- Bill.
HEMMER: And more history this weekend.
Jennifer Eccleston, thanks, in Rome -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, parents teach their kids to say no to drugs on the street. But how many kids are stealing drugs from their parents' medicine cabinets? We're "Paging Dr. Gupta" just ahead.
Stay with us.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.
HEMMER: OK, here's the Question of the Day and Jack.
CAFFERTY: You know, the government is out with another color- coded warning system aimed squarely at our waistlines. They've got a new food pyramid out, which has vertical triangles instead of the horizontal boxes and the six bands represent the different food groups. And this is your ticket to longevity, boys and girls.
We're supposed to go there. It's mypyramid.gov. And you can get a custom made nutritional report. Put in your age, your sex and the amount of daily physical activity you get and you'll get back a custom diet plan. We did it earlier with my 25-year-old producer. I'm 62. We put in our stuff and got exactly the same recommendations back, which doesn't bode well for her.
The question is how will the government's food pyramid change the way you eat?
Reg in Ontario writes: "It's obvious the pyramids were not made for us Canadians. I can't find moose meat or Kraft dinner anywhere."
Mike in Florida writes: "Instead of the food guide pyramid, the USDA should take a look at its commodities program that floods the school lunch program with tons of cheese, chicken nuggets and a host of other stockpiles of overproduced agricultural products subsidized by the U.S. government."
Al in Washington writes: "I'll use it when those lumpy old farts in Congress show me it works."
Can we say that?
HEMMER: You just did.
CAFFERTY: It's a little late now, isn't it?
And Mel in New York writes: "As this pyramid comes out during the Bush administration, I suspect it works like this. Send five pounds of food and $100 to the investment banker of your choice. Put your name at the top of the list and then mail this pyramid to 10 friends. At the end of the month, the fat cats will be fatter, you'll be skinnier and you'll get $1,000 a month beginning when you're 90."
HEMMER: None of that stuff is any good unless you exercise.
O'BRIEN: Right. Which is...
O'BRIEN: ... isn't that the point of the guy running up the stairs (INAUDIBLE)?
CAFFERTY: Is Dr. Gupta off today? I mean...
HEMMER: No, but...
O'BRIEN: Oh, I'm sorry, Dr. Cafferty.
CAFFERTY: I was referring to...
HEMMER: Well, I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV. CAFFERTY: Do you?
HEMMER: Yes. And it's my role to be the neurosurgeon today.
HEMMER: So if you need any dietary advice...
CAFFERTY: Well, you're in the right room.
HEMMER: ... you can come to me.
CAFFERTY: If you're going to be a neurosurgeon, this is the place.
O'BRIEN: I thought the little guy running is supposed to symbolize getting exercise.
HEMMER: The exercise.
O'BRIEN: Meaning that all the eating won't matter if you're not getting exercise. It's, you know, they're trying to do the right thing.
CAFFERTY: No, I think it's fine. You know, if you're over the age of four and haven't figured out how to feed yourself, then you should get right on here and learn how to do this.
O'BRIEN: OK, Jack, thank you.
CAFFERTY: You're welcome.
O'BRIEN: President Bush blames politics for the hold up on John Bolton's nomination. But could a former member of the president's own cabinet be entering the fray?
We'll look at that ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
O'BRIEN: Good morning.
Welcome back, everybody.
Just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.
Coming up, some surprising estimates about teenagers abusing drugs, prescription drugs. In many cases, they are stealing pills right out of their parents' medicine cabinets. This morning, Sanjay takes a look at the growing problem; also, just how dangerous it can be.
HEMMER: And some good information to know, also.
In a moment here, too, the Enron debacle is going to the big screen. We'll have a look today at a brand new documentary, filmmakers going inside Enron's company walls to expose what they call a clique of corporate cowboys. We'll preview that in a moment here.
O'BRIEN: Also, let's get another check of the headlines, though, with Carol Costello -- good morning.
COSTELLO: Good morning to you.
Good morning to all of you.
Now in the news, disturbing new pictures of what could be a commercial helicopter being shot down north of Baghdad. Take a look. You see the video shows shaky footage of the chopper in flight and then you'll see it bursting into flames. The pictures aired today on the Arabic language TV network, Al Jazeera. Keep in mind, though, CNN has not confirmed the video's atty.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter says his chemotherapy is tough, but he's doing just fine. The 75-year-old senator was designed with Hodgkin's Disease in February. He's lost much of his hair since the treatments and says he stays busy to get through the bad days. He even plays squash.
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