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Zarqawi's Fate Unknown; Preparing for Memorial Day Weekend

Aired May 27, 2005 - 06:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Some say he is enemy number one. Could an injury sideline any of his terrorism plans?
Plus, vigilante in Virginia. She is fed up with identity theft and she's making sure people in power know about it.

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Chris Huntington live at New York's LaGuardia Airport, where folks are getting a jump on the long weekend. And certainly they're hoping that the weather holds out.

COSTELLO: We are, too.

It is Friday, May 27.

You're watching DAYBREAK.

And good morning to you.

From the Time Warner Center in New York, I'm Carol Costello, along with Chad Myers.

Now in the news, an explosion at a Muslim shrine in Pakistan has killed 10 worshippers and wounded 40 others. It happened in Islamabad. Police say hundreds of people were inside the sanctuary at the time.

A Florida man who remains on an 18-story high construction crane in Atlanta -- the murder suspect climbed it late Wednesday afternoon. He is ignoring pleas from negotiators and his sister on the ground.

An Indonesian court has convicted and sentenced an Australian woman to 20 years in prison for smuggling marijuana into Bali. She insists the nine pounds of drugs were planted in her luggage.

To the Forecast Center.

Rob Marciano in for Chad this morning -- good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Carol, I hate to do this on the air, but it was like 60 seconds ago you said "Carol and Chad." Now, I know you guys are a team, I know Chad's the man, but he's not here, all right? You don't have to say my name...

COSTELLO: I know, but I (INAUDIBLE) he's still around.

MARCIANO: I'm getting a complex here. I'm up at 3:00 in the morning and I'm working for Chad and you don't even acknowledge that I'm here.

COSTELLO: We love you, Rob.

We think you're the greatest.

MARCIANO: OK. You just saved me some money on therapy.

Thank you.


COSTELLO: More U.S. deaths in the fight for Iraq. The military is looking into a helicopter crash that killed two American soldiers. It happened near Ba'qubah. Authorities say insurgents shot down the chopper with small arms fire. A second helicopter was attacked and damaged during the same incident, but managed to land safely.

As the insurgent attacks intensify, more questions are surfacing about the fate of the most wanted man in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Let's head live to Baghdad and Ryan Chilcote -- good morning, Ryan.


Well, the first reports that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq, had been wounded, actually came from the -- purportedly came from the organization he's said to head up, al Qaeda in Iraq. They were posted on the Internet. There was a lot of speculation. The U.S. military and the Iraqi military said they simply don't know.

Then yesterday Iraq's interior minister said that he does believe it's true, that he'd gotten some information several days before that and that he was sure that he was wounded, he just didn't know the extent of Zarqawi's injuries.

Then the Iraqi prime minister came out and said he doesn't have any specific information and the U.S. military is saying that they also still don't know. They say there's still no hard evidence.

So, still, it's a speculative conversation.

COSTELLO: Ryan Chilcote live from Baghdad this morning.

Thank you.

The military has completed its own investigation into Koran mishandlings. After poring over more than 30,000 documents in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the commander of a joint task force says he has identified five incidents in which the holy book may have been mishandled. But he says none of them involve a toilet.


BRIG. GEN. JAY HOOD, U.S. ARMY: Mishandling is any time that one of the established procedures for handling the Koran is violated. But those procedures were developed and are based on religious sensitivities associated with the holy book.


COSTELLO: Hood says every effort has been made to accommodate the religious practices of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

President Bush has offered new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas $50 million in direct aid to his government. Abbas is the first top Palestinian leader to visit the White House during Bush's presidency.

In remarks after their meeting, Bush touched briefly on Middle East peace efforts.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Israel must remove unauthorized outposts and stop settlement expansion. The barrier being erected by Israel as a part of its security effort must be a security rather than political barrier and its route should take into account consistent with security needs its impact on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.


COSTELLO: Parliamentary elections which pit Hamas supporters against the militant group Hamas are just weeks away.

A record number of you are heading out of town this weekend. After all, it's a holiday and the traditional beginning of the summer travel season. But what can you expect on the road and at the airport? For that, we're joined by CNN's Chris Huntington.

He's at LaGuardia Airport in New York -- good morning, Chris.


I don't think there's a whole lot I can tell folks about how to avoid traffic jams or delays at the airport. But, indeed, as you alluded to at the beginning there, a record number of folks expected to travel this weekend. That's according to the American Automobile Association. In fact, they say that approximately 37 million of us are going to take a trip of at least 50 miles.

Let's take a look at some of the stats that they've compiled. These are estimates, of course, and, indeed, it could be a lot busier than that if the weather gets a whole lot better.

Overall, they're expecting more than 37 million folks out and about. Most of us traveling by car, 31 million. And, of course, you can see the rundown there, another four million or so by plane. Although, frankly, if you go to an airport these days, it sure feels like everybody is flying and not so many people driving. Prices, though, surprisingly good this weekend. You know, we've heard so much about high gasoline prices. In fact -- and I'm sure you've noticed at your local pumps -- the prices have come down in the last couple of weeks. And, in fact, right now prices, according to AAA, the national average is about $2.11 for unleaded regular. Of course, you'd be very lucky to find that particular price. But still, compared to what they were seeing a year ago, the price is only up for gasoline 3 percent. That's less than the Consumer Price Index.

Air fares down on average 10 percent. Now, you have to do some hunting and pecking and you probably even have to do it online. But if you're careful, you can find great fares.

Rental car prices are down, as well. Hotel prices are up. Amusement fare, amusement parks, we're told, are charging a little bit more for admission.

Overall, though, the travel business is doing very well and this is a welcome pickup that has been a long time in coming.


SUZANNE COOK, TRAVEL INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION: What we're seeing this Memorial Day and this summer is just a continuation of what we began to see in 2004. It's true that the U.S. travel industry has had a difficult time since 9/11. But we began to see, really, a major recovery underway last year and we saw it across the country and in all sectors of the industry. So I think we're going to see a continuation and a strengthening of that in the summer of 2005.


HUNTINGTON: And so here we are. It's a little bit after 6:00. I'm, as you can see, in front of the American Airlines terminal here at LaGuardia. It is absolutely packed. It is bumper to bumper traffic out there on the highway that feeds in here to LaGuardia. These folks are not wasting any time and that's going to be very typical this weekend.

So, in fact, what a lot of people are finding is you do this sort of counter-intuitive thing, Carol. You actually wait until 4:00 this afternoon and you just might find that the roads and the airports have eased up a bit.

COSTELLO: You know, I know. I've always thought everybody leaves at the same time on holiday weekends. It's the strangest thing.

Chris Huntington live...

HUNTINGTON: Well, and it's pushing earlier and earlier.

COSTELLO: Chris Huntington live at LaGuardia this morning.

For those of you planning to travel by air this weekend, here's some more advice. Get there early and be prepared for delays, lots and lots of delays.

More from Washington now and CNN's Kathleen Koch.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's no surprise to veteran air travelers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's frustrating. It makes the trip a lot longer. It makes for a long day when you're traveling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of the times when our flight is delayed or canceled, the airlines don't tell you what to do or give you any opportunities on where to go. And so basically you're fending for yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it makes you think they don't really care about you as much, because everybody's flying for a reason and everybody has somewhere to go. Like in my case, I missed several business meetings.

KOCH: Flight delays across the country are at record levels. In some cities, even worse than the summer of 2000 when nationwide delays shattered all previous records.

MARION BLAKEY, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: We're going to have a greater likelihood that delays will get worse before they get better.

KOCH: The Transportation Department reports that delays in the first quarter of 2005 were up 17 percent over last year, affecting more than a quarter of all flights. The length of delays is up, as well, to more than 52 minutes. Driving the delays, soaring demand because of declining airfares and more crowded skies because of the expansion of low cost carriers and a tripling in the use of regional jets.

KEN MEAD, TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT: Regional jets, of course, hold fewer people. Back in 2000,10 percent of your flights were regional jet-based. Now they're 32 percent.

KOCH: Mead predicts a summer jam packed with delays, saying the most vulnerable airports are Philadelphia, LaGuardia, Newark, Washington Dulles, Atlanta, and Fort Lauderdale. Experts say there's little passengers can do.

DAVID STEMPLER, AIR TRAVELER'S ASSOCIATION: Passengers can try to book on a nonstop flight, where you don't risk changing planes someplace, or at least on a flight that, even though it makes a stop, you stay on the same plane. But other than that, there's not much else you can do.

KOCH: The FAA insists it's doing what it can, improving technology to better use the nation's air space and spending $4.75 billion over the next three years building new runways.

(on camera): But two things the FAA can't control -- airline policy and the weather. So combine a summer forecast for rough weather with an airline vow not to cancel flights and you get a summer of headaches and delays for the flying public.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Reagan National Airport.


COSTELLO: Still to come on DAYBREAK, Burt is back. But does this longest yard live up to the original? And what about that slapping incident? We're going to talk about it with Tom O'Neil.

Plus, she wants everyone from the top down to feel the effects of identity theft. She's doing something about it. Call it vigilante justice.

And being George Voinovich. Maybe you noticed his tearful speeches during the John Bolton debate. Tears? What's behind this raw emotion and why should anyone outside of Ohio care?

But first, here's a look at what else is making news this Friday morning.



COSTELLO: I kind of like that.

Your news, money, weather and sports.

It's 6:13 Eastern.

Here's what's all new this morning.

The Senate has put off a final vote on John Bolton's nomination as U.N. ambassador. Democrats want the White House to release classified information on Bolton, but officials have refused to do so.

In money news, New York State has filed a civil suit against insurance giant AIG and two of its former executives for cooking the books to mislead investors and regulators. The "New York Times" reports that a grand jury is also looking into the case.

In culture, there could be another Live AID. Rumored acts include a Spice Girls reunion and an appearance by U2. The concert will aid Africa, will coincide with the upcoming G8 summit in Scotland.

In sports, the last American man at the French Open has fallen. Second seed Andy Roddick lost his second round match in five sets.

To the Forecast Center and Rob.

MARCIANO: Hi, Carol.

We start you out with the Allergy Report and problem pollens out there.

Starting to spread a little bit farther to the north, the hardwoods getting into the act and the grasses and the ragweeds out West, as well.


COSTELLO: Thank you, Rob.

If your weekend includes a movie, we've got news. "The Longest Yard" will hit the big screen, a remake of a movie starring Burt Reynolds. But the Burt part might be more interesting than the new movie.

First, a bit of the new movie.


BURT REYNOLDS, ACTOR: I was a sinner then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard you were dead.

REYNOLDS: No, I ain't dead. I've been right here writing, waiting for a chance to get back at those sadistic guards, waiting for this.


COSTELLO: It's deep, isn't it?

Tom O'Neil from "In Touch Weekly" is here with us.


TOM O'NEIL, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Sadistic guards? He's one to talk, isn't he?

COSTELLO: Yes, he is.

But first let's talk about the movie, because you've seen it.

What do you think?

O'NEIL: It's pleasant. It's not as interesting as the first movie 30 years ago because the promise of this is a group of prisoners who are asked to throw a game against the guards. And the lead person who did that back in the '70s was Burt Reynolds. And he gave it a kind of edge of grittiness, that you believe this guy is sleazy enough to do it.

In this remake, it's Adam Sandler and it's just too nicey-poo.

COSTELLO: Too nicey-poo?

We have some clips from the old movie, as well. This is from the new movie.

So we're going to look at the old movie. Boy, how times have changed.

O'NEIL: Yes, that doesn't look like Burt Reynolds anymore. He doesn't look like a space alien here, right? I think that's his problem, Carol. They've pulled that face of his so tight with his plastic surgery that the guy's just mad.


O'NEIL: Loosen up a little bit.

COSTELLO: Tom. The incident that Tom is so gracelessly referring to is Burt Reynolds was, what, in line on the red carpet. He goes past this reporter and supposedly he slaps the reporter because the reporter has not seen either the old movie or the new.

O'NEIL: Right. And why should this poor guy get slapped for not seeing a movie that the "New York Times" called "crummy" and the "Chicago Tribune" calls "incompetent" and the "Dallas Morning News" says it's "painfully unnecessary?" Then he gets hit by Burt.

COSTELLO: But was it really a slap? And what has Burt Reynolds said about it since?

O'NEIL: You can see for yourself if you go to And you'll see -- they'll play the video. It's the only place you can get it, because they're not releasing it nationally.

It takes place slightly off camera when he hits the guy, but it's a smack. You hear the sound. You can see how irritated he is in his voice.

On the other hand, he is goofing around with the guy. But now we're finding out in recent days that he's been doing this for 40 years. He -- there's a -- the local Fox station in New York is now showing video of their reporter being hit.

COSTELLO: Wait. I think we're seeing it here.

O'NEIL: Oh, they have released it now. Good.

COSTELLO: This is not it.

Is this previous to the incident?

O'NEIL: This is it. This is it.

COSTELLO: This is previous, up to the point where he allegedly slaps the guy.

O'NEIL: OK. Fine.

COSTELLO: You're going to have to go to, what? What was the Web site?


COSTELLO: Dot-com.

OK. So he's been doing this for 40 years, smacking people?

O'NEIL: The local Fox station here in New York is now showing their reporter being hit by Burt a few years ago. An L.A. station is now showing a clip of their reporter being hit by Burt. He's been doing this quite a bit.

Then there's the famous incident from "The Tonight Show" where he got so upset with Jay Leno he reached over, clipped Jay's tie and the game show host, Mark Summers, is sitting next to him and he throws a glass of water at him. Burt's got issues.

COSTELLO: Oh, you're not kidding. And he has not gotten in trouble for them, but he could this time.

O'NEIL: He could this time. He just recently emerged from bankruptcy. This guy has a civil suit, the reporter does, on his hands. But this is going to cost Burt.

COSTELLO: All right, Tom O'Neil, thanks, as usual.

Still to come on DAYBREAK, seems like you can find advertisements everywhere you look, but should pro athletes become billboards?

And one computer crusader shows just how easy it is to get the personal information of VIPs in an effort to protect yours and mine. I'll talk to her when DAYBREAK continues.


COSTELLO: A little "Business Buzz" this morning.

H.J. Heinz is overhauling its overseas companies. The ketchup giant plans to sell a northern European vegetable line and is considering selling various European seafood and frozen food businesses.

It looks like Disney will get some competition in China. Walt Disney's $3.5 billion Hong Kong theme park is due to open in September, but Paramount Parks plans to build a $1.5 billion theme park in eastern China.

Also in our "Business Buzz," imagine Shaquille O'Neal wearing a jersey featuring McDonald's golden arches or a Nike swoosh.

Carrie Lee tells us that may soon be reality -- you're kidding.

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is the idea some team owners have, to start advertising on the logos the NBA players wear. Now, this isn't something that the league is endorsing. The league says it's not pursuing this. Currently, of course, the NBA does not allow any logos on the jerseys, not even from Reebok, which makes them. But Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says the league needs to explore new revenue streams to keep up with escalating player salaries.

Well, currently the average salary in the league is just shy of $5 million. Ads are common on uniforms of European soccer players and NASCAR drivers, but no North American pro sports league currently allows them. So it will be interesting to see if this happens. You can understand the purists who don't want to see this. But, on the other hand, the NBA is a business and if it helps bring ticket prices down, well, then there's a good argument for it.

COSTELLO: It won't bring ticket prices -- it'll just make more money for everyone else.

LEE: My take, well, $5 million, why not bring that down a little bit, the salaries, and it would all even out. But Mark Cuban is behind this...

COSTELLO: Now you're really dreaming.

LEE: Yes, exactly.

COSTELLO: Carrie Lee, thank you.


COSTELLO: Fleet Week continues through Memorial Day and CNN's Soledad O'Brien is getting an up close look at the tools in America's arsenal.

She joins us now from the deck of the USS John F. Kennedy -- good morning, Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Carol, good morning to you.

All morning long, in fact, we're going to have special coverage of New York City's Fleet Week.

This morning we are on the USS John F. Kennedy. This ship, of course, with quite a history. The JFK is the Navy's third oldest carrier. It's one of only two that are still powered by oil. It's just off a mission supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. But the future, unfortunately, is uncertain for the USS John F. Kennedy.

The Navy wants to cut its fleet of carriers from 12 to 11. The JFK now on the chopping block.

So how are the 5,000 service men and women on board the ship taking this news? We're going to talk about that and show you what happens here on this ship all this morning.

That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, Carol.

We'll see you at the top of the hour.

COSTELLO: We sure will.

Thank you, Soledad.

Talk about vigilante justice online, call it what you want, but one woman in Virginia is mad and she is posting up a storm. Want to find Jeb Bush's Social Security number? See B.J.'s Web site.

B.J. Ostergren from Virginia is so angry about identity theft and a lack of government help, she finds personal information of VIPs and posts it on her Web site. She says it's one way to show government officials just how easy it is for criminals to steal your identity.

We wanted to know more about B.J.'s crusade.

She joins us now from Richmond, Virginia.

Good morning. BETTY OSTERGREN, ACTIVIST: Good morning, Carol.

COSTELLO: You have posted personal information on Jeb Bush, Colin Powell. At face value, it seems kind of cruel to post their Social Security numbers online.

What's the point?

OSTERGREN: Well, actually, what I've done is, is for the CIA director, I've actually linked to the Lee County, Florida clerk's Web site and I also have linked to Fort Bend, Texas to show you how to get Congressman Tom DeLay's Social Security number. And I have put Colin Powell's on my site, and I have also put Jeb Bush's, after he found out I was going to link to it last December and then he went in and had them remove his Social Security number. But he left everybody else's in Texas online. And I just -- it infuriated me.


OSTERGREN: And all over the country, the clerks of the court and the court records, you can't mess with those, because they're official public records. So only in Florida, if you know and you put in writing to have your Social Security number or credit card number removed off the court records, can you get this number removed. But in the rest of the states that are putting these court records and our deeds and mortgages and final divorce decrees online, you can't have anything removed. And...

COSTELLO: Well, you know what the government officials are saying? They put so many documents online because they have to, they say they're understaffed, it isn't possible for them to black out everybody's personal information before they put it online.

OSTERGREN: That's true, because it takes a lot of time to do redaction and it takes a lot of money. But my point is, is that if you can't take out people's personal information then get those records back within the four walls of a courthouse. And if people want to see them, make them take off from work and drive to the courthouse.

It's just ridiculous to be throwing this information out on the Internet.

COSTELLO: Yes, because your idea is that thieves won't take the time to go and dig through court documents in the actual building, because they won't want to be seen.

OSTERGREN: That's exactly right. They won't take -- I mean they don't want to be seen when they're doing, you know, bad work. But when you have records that are sitting on a computer and you can get into them -- and let me tell you, a lot of states have already got these records online. And so if you can sit in your home 24-7 and go plundering through final divorce decrees and find minor children's names, you're spoon feeding criminals. I don't care what you want to call it.

COSTELLO: Have you heard from any of these public officials that you've...



OSTERGREN: No. No, I haven't.

COSTELLO: So, but you put Jeb Bush's Social Security number online and you haven't heard from him or anyone else?

OSTERGREN: No, I haven't. I guess he knows it was in a public record and so he hasn't -- no, he hasn't contacted me. I haven't heard from the CIA director, either.

But the CIA director can blame the Lee County, Florida clerk of court. So, you know, like I said, I am linking to those sites. I really haven't posted the document on my Web site. I'm just actually linking to them.

COSTELLO: Well, I know, B.J., that many people out there are applauding you and maybe your efforts will pay off, who knows?

OSTERGREN: Well, I think that they are beginning to pay off, because I'll tell you something, I have had so many e-mails in the past two days that I can't even hardly begin to answer all of them. And I appreciate people finally waking up.

But guess what? This is a states' issue and each citizen in every state has to get in touch with their own state representative, like their delegate or their senator, and demand that these records not be put on the Internet. It's just reckless.

COSTELLO: B.J. Ostergren, thank you for joining DAYBREAK this morning and have a good Memorial Day Weekend.

OSTERGREN: Thanks, Carol.


COSTELLO: Thank you. An episode of the NBC show "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" has ruffled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. In it, a police officer investigating the murder of a federal judge suggested putting out an APB for "somebody in a Tom DeLay t-shirt."

In a letter to NBC, DeLay called it "reckless disregard for judicial security."

DeLay has been an outspoken critic of what he calls activist judges.

"Law and Order" creator Dick Wolf made no apologies, saying, "Hey, it's only fiction."

We'll talk about another senator in the next half hour of DAYBREAK. Find out why Ohio's senior senator gets so very emotional about the debate of John Bolton. He was actually moved to tears.

And we'll go live to the crane stand-off in Atlanta. Yes, that man is still up there.



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