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Fight For Iraq; Natalee Holloway Case Going Cold?; Pope John Paul II on Road to Sainthood

Aired June 28, 2005 - 07:29   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. It is just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.
Coming up, a live update from Iraq this morning as more fighting is reported on this, the first anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush is using the occasion to try to reassure Americans about his Iraq strategy in a primetime speech tonight. We'll preview that for you.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, that's ahead. First, though, a look at the headlines with Carol Costello.

Good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Good morning to all of you.

A 16-year-old boy is in critical but stable condition this morning after a second shark attack off the Florida panhandle. The 16-year-old was attacked by the shark. The teenager lost a leg while fishing in the surf on Monday near Cape San Blas. The town is about 1,000 miles east of where a 14-year-old girl had been killed by a 6- foot bull shark two days earlier. Officials expect to reopen the beach later today.

The confessed BTK killer, Dennis Rader, is looking at spending the rest of his life in prison. Rader pleaded guilty to killings that panned three decades and gave a detailed and chilling confession about the crimes.


DENNIS RADER, ADMITTED BTK KILLER: First of all, Mr. Otero was strangled -- or a bag put over his head and strangled. Then I thought he was going down. And I went over and strangled Mrs. Otero. And I thought she was down. Then I strangled Josephine, and she was down. And then I went over to Junior and put the bag on his head.


COSTELLO: Rader's sentencing is set to take place in August.

The Supreme Court handing down decisions regarding the Ten Commandments on government property, issuing a firm maybe. The court ruled in favor of a display outside the Texas Capitol, but it rejected two displays at Kentucky courthouses. The highest judges ruled the displays acceptable only if they are explicitly religious. Some say the decisions will open the door for more legal battles.

And more than 1,000 people in southwestern Utah are waiting to go back home. Winds shifted last night, pushing a wildfire closer to the small town. The winds apparently diminished overnight, but the evacuations are still in effect. There are now at least 20 large wildfires burning out west, charring more than 350,000 acres in recent days.

Back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: That's a huge problem there. All right, Carol, thanks a lot.

M. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Carol.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, President Bush is going to try to reassure the American public tonight about the growing insurgency in Iraq. U.S. forces launched their fifth major anti-insurgent operation today. It's called Operation Spear. And the president's primetime speech both fall on the first anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis.

Let's get right to Jennifer Eccleston. She's following developments for us this morning out of Baghdad.


JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Despite today's anniversary, or perhaps because of it, the violence continues. A prominent Shiite tribal leader, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly, was killed in a suicide car bomb attack Tuesday morning in northern Baghdad. Sheikh Dhari Ali Al-Fayadh, his son, and three bodyguards died when a suicide car bomber slammed into his convoy.

But today marks the one-year anniversary of the handing over of sovereignty to Iraqis, one step in many political landmarks, including the historic January election of the transitional assembly, the adoption of a government in April, and this summer and fall, the writing and the adoption of a constitution, and elections of a five- year government, which is scheduled for later this year in December.

But clouding the political process is a spike in violence over the last year. A surge in insurgent attacks across the country, a surge in car bombs and suicide bombers, the most effective means mow to kill large numbers of Iraqi people. Over 800 U.S. forces have been killed and thousands of Iraqis.

And despite the number of major U.S. operations to rid the country of its insurgency, it still remains effective. And Iraqis and the U.S. military say the political process getting all Iraqis involved, getting all Iraqis to take ownership of their country is key to stemming the insurgency here in Iraq. And one year later, many Iraqis still live under substandard living conditions. Not enough power. Not enough water. Not enough clean drinking water. And sub-par sanitation and sewage. These day- to-day hardships, on top of the grinding violence, especially here in the capital, limits the Iraqis' abilities to believe their government and American assertions that life is indeed improving in Baghdad and across the country one year after the handover of sovereignty.

Jennifer Eccleston, CNN, Baghdad.


S. O'BRIEN: The president's speech will be live on CNN tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, obviously 5:00 on the West coast. CNN's coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: To Aruba now, where the family of missing teenager Natalee Holloway is angry and frustrated this morning. Natalee disappeared more than four weeks ago now. Police have now released two suspects. And family members are beginning to wonder if they'll ever find out what happened to her.

Chris Lawrence joining us live now from Palm Beach, Aruba -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, prosecutors are still saying we're still out there, we're still searching for the truth. But the family is fed up and feels like they're all the way back at square one. Right now, it's gotten so bad that even the search teams are starting to feel that pressure.


LAWRENCE (voice over): A team of volunteers from Texas is making up for lost time. Natalee Holloway disappeared a month ago, and the Texas team is fully aware the window is closing.

TIM MILLER, TEXAS EQUUSEARCH: The object is to find Natalee. And every day that goes by, she's probably deteriorating more and more and more.

LAWRENCE: Tim Miller still hopes to find Natalee alive. Investigators say the same. But the three suspects still in custody have all been accused of kidnapping and murder, even though no one has been formally charged.

Natalee's family believes the key to finding her may be in this prison, where Joran Van Der Sloot is locked up. The teenager told his mother that he left Natalee alone on a beach and then walked home.

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY'S MOTHER: I want him to tell the truth. He knows exactly what happened. He knows what, where, when, who, why and how. He knows the answers.

LAWRENCE: Beth Holloway Twitty was hopeful Joran's father was arrested last week. But on Sunday, a judge ruled there wasn't enough evidence to hold Paul Van Der Sloot or another suspect, Steve Croes, who worked as a deejay on a local tour boat. When the judge released them, Natalee's mother lost patience with the investigation.

TWITTY: The government needs to step forward now and assure me that we are still progressing.

LAWRENCE: If any of this affected the search team, they didn't show it, diving right into the investigation and trying to find any evidence that may have been missed.


One of the big turning points in this whole case could come in one week, because that's when prosecutors have to come back to court and prove to a judge why they should be able to keep these original three suspects another 60 days. So, you could have a case where they could have another two months to interrogate them. Or, on the other hand, they could all just walk free -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Chris Lawrence in Aruba, thank you.

Coming up in our next hour, we'll speak with Natalee's mother -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Today, the beatification process for Pope John Paul II will officially get under way. This is the first step toward sainthood, a process that was put on the fast track last month by Pope Benedict XVI.

CNN Vatican analyst John Allen is in Rome for us this morning.

Good morning to you, John. Give us a sense of what happens starting today.


Well, what will happen tonight is there is a formal swearing-in ceremony for all of the principal players in the beatification cause. That will include the postulator. That's the man who is, in a sense, the advocate for John Paul's cause. The promoter of justice. It used to be the devil's advocate. That's the guy whose job it is to try to poke holes in the argument. And the judges themselves, who will eventually render a decision.

And they will be given an oath in Latin, where they vow to maintain secrecy about the process, not to take any money or to allow their judgment to be swayed in any other fashion. And to try to render an objective decision. And then there will be a prayer service, and then the cause after that stage behind closed doors will unfold over what is likely to be several months, if not years.

S. O'BRIEN: There have been lots of e-mails pouring in. I read something like a hundred e-mails a day testifying to Pope John Paul II's virtues. But, really, what you need are miracles, right? So, what kind of miracles are being attributed to the late pope? ALLEN: Well, actually this is a three-stage process. So, first you have to have a finding that this person lived a life of exemplary holiness. That's the formal name for which is a decree of heroic virtue. But you're quite right. After that, in order to beatify him and then eventually to canonize him, that is to formally make him a saint, you're going to need two miracles -- one for beatification and one for canonization.

There were lots of miracle stories, actually, Soledad, that circulated during the pope's life. Perhaps the most famous, a 6-year- old Mexican boy who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, who staged a miraculous recovery after meeting John Paul on a visit to Mexico in 1990.

But, unfortunately, none of that is going to count at this stage, because these miracles now to be official have to have happened after the pope's death. The logic there being that they are intended to prove that this person is already in heaven and interceding with God on someone's behalf.

And there are all kinds of reports that are pouring in to the organizers. What they're looking for is a healing that was complete. It was instant. It was lasting, and for which there is no scientific explanation. And they'll pick the one they think is the clearest example of that, and that's the one they'll go with.

S. O'BRIEN: We've talked a lot about being on the fast track. But give me a sense of what the timeline is. If it's on the fast track, how soon could Pope John Paul II be made a saint?

ALLEN: Well, you know, Soledad, the saying about the Catholic Church is that it thinks in centuries. So, its fast track is not like the -- it's not like the drive-through lane at a fast food restaurant in the states. I mean, this will take some time.

What's happened is the pope has waived the normal five-year waiting period. But other than that, the normal process is going to be observed. Some dozens, dozens of dozens probably, of witnesses are going to be heard. They will study all of the pope's writings. And, of course, he has written a lot. So that's going to take some time.

So, it undoubtedly is a question of months. It would well be a question of years. Probably the closest parallel would be the case of Mother Teresa. John Paul II waived the five-year waiting period for her. But from that moment to her beautification in October 2003, four years went by. You're probably looking at a similar period of time here.

S. O'BRIEN: It's not the drive-through lane. John Allen for us this morning, John, thanks. Appreciate it -- Miles.

ALLEN: You bet, Soledad.

M. O'BRIEN: A beatification to go, please. Hold the mayo.

All right, there is a heat wave in southern Europe. Italy and Spain have been hardest hit with temperatures reaching over 95 degrees, although they prefer Celsius over there. I'm not going to do the conversion. You do it at home.

At least seven people have died in Italy due to the heat. And the country is taking steps to protect the elderly. Authorities want to avoid a repeat of that 2003 heat wave that was blamed for tens of thousands of deaths across Europe, which brings us to Chad Myers.


M. O'BRIEN: The space shuttle program doesn't meet all of the safety recommendations offered up in the wake of the loss of Columbia now two-and-a-half years ago. The panel says the shuttle is still safe enough to launch in about two weeks. Three of the 15 criteria, which came from the independent crash investigation team, are unfulfilled. Coming up with a reliable way to fix the shuttle in orbit, preventing debris from falling off the tank, and hardening the shuttle's skin against impact from debris. All three are directly related, of course, to the Columbia disaster on February 1 of 2003.

S. O'BRIEN: They seem like pretty major. Why would they say that in spite of these?

M. O'BRIEN: They are big ones. They are.

S. O'BRIEN: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: They are big ones. They're also the ones that were fundamental design change issues, which really could not be addressed properly. And so, what NASA is going to say is, yes, we couldn't do those three things, but look at the six over things we're going to do to try to make it safer, providing a safe haven at the Space Station. We're going to have better cameras and so forth to test it out. We're going to inspect the vehicle more carefully. So, I think they'll still come up with a rationale for flight, because what they have to do to fix those problems is start from scratch, which isn't happening, of course.

All right. Some images from space, meanwhile. The Hubble Space Telescope sent back pictures of the comet Temple 1.

S. O'BRIEN: That's kind of neat.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, it is. It is. You know, comets are basically leftover stuff from the big bang. So, if you can analyze a comet, you are literally looking like turning the history books back billions of years to see what our solar system was made of.

Anyway, what's going to happen is a space probe called Deep Impact is on its way, lickety split. It's going to rendezvous with this particular comet. And on the 4th of July, it's going to send down a probe and crash into the surface. And what that will do, it will kick up some comet dust. And then it will take some pictures of it, and they'll get a really good sense of the ingredients of comets. And if we know the ingredients of comets, we know the ingredients of the solar system. S. O'BRIEN: What created our -- yes.

M. O'BRIEN: See?

S. O'BRIEN: See, I'm following with you.

M. O'BRIEN: Excellent.

S. O'BRIEN: You know what? I thought you mentioned seeing the planets over the weekend, on Saturday. It was so cloudy. I took the kids out to see it. We couldn't see a thing.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, there are some things we can't control.

S. O'BRIEN: I blame you, Miles, for ruining my children's experience.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: They were looking. Did you guys get to see that? Yes, too cloudy, right?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, we're not paying attention to Jack Horkheimer (ph) anymore, mommy.

All right. Still to come on AMERICAN MORNING, the price of a barrel of oil reaches an all-time high, more than $60. Andy has been worried about this. And we're going to ask him how worried he is this morning.

S. O'BRIEN: Also ahead this morning ,the BTK killer admitting his guilt, and perhaps the most shocking thing is just how he told his story. We're going to talk with the son of one of Dennis Rader's victims just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: When Dennis Rader, the admitted BTK killer, is sentenced in August, he could get 175 years to life, including 40 years for the death of Dolores Davis. The 62-year-old Davis was Rader's last victim in 1991.

In court on Monday, Rader frankly described graphic details of his murders, including the murder of Ms. Davis.


RADER: She came out of the bedroom and thought that a car had hit her house. And I told her that I was -- I used the ruse of being wanted. I was on the run. I need food, car, warm-up. And I asked her -- I handcuffed her, and I kind of talked to her. I told her that I would like to get some food, get her keys to her car and kind of rest assured, you know, talked with her a little bit, calmed her down a little bit.

(END VIDEO CLIP) S. O'BRIEN: Jeff Davis is the son of Dolores Davis. He's in Memphis, Tennessee, this morning.

Jeff, nice to talk to you. Thanks for being with us. You didn't attend the hearing in person. But I know that your fiance held the phone up to you hear so that you could listen to it as it was happening. Did you have any idea that Dennis Rader would go ahead and admit his guilt?

JEFF DAVIS, SON OF BTK VICTIM: I had a suspicion he was leaning towards pleading, because he hadn't stopped the process at any point. He had waived his prelim, and he stood mute at the arraignment. And his family was asking him not to put them through the ordeal. So, I had a suspicion that he might have done that. His prelim confession, though, that caught me completely by surprise.

S. O'BRIEN: What was that like, his manner? I mean, just as someone who was just watching it and not connected to the case, it took my breath away. It was so shocking to just hear this cold and calculating litany of detail, with no sense of humanity underneath it. What were you thinking about as you are hearing this over the phone?

DAVIS: Well, you are right. There is no humanity there. There's the lowest form of human filth that ever crawled out of the gene pool masquerading as a human being. So, you've got to take that into context. He is a classic textbook sociopath. And as such, he was almost -- it struck me as if he is giving us a lecture in serial murder 101.

He -- because he's not human and he has no soul or conscious, he is up there just kind of cavalierly describing how he had his hit kit with him, and how his projects were proceeding. These were peoples' lives. These were peoples' loved ones, who he targeted tortured, dehumanized and did everything he could in their last minutes of life to make them experience absolute total terror, while he played God. And he is just in there in the courtroom describing it like as if you and I would be reading out of a recipe book.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, I thought the same thing. His manner was just so not connected. I mean...

DAVIS: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: ... I thought he was, like, making a sandwich, just kind of, then you do this.

DAVIS: Exactly.

S. O'BRIEN: It was bizarre. Did you hear anything in his description when he was talking about the death of your mother, the murder of your mother, that you didn't already know?

DAVIS: Oh, a few minor things. How he got in the house for one thing. Nothing significant. I'm still preparing myself for the penalty phase, because what he wanted kept secret now is going to become public knowledge once it actually goes in the court record, all of the specifics of his atrocities and his humanities in all of those cases. The D.A. is going to pull from that barrage of inhumanity. And that's all going to be on the table. And I'm sure there's going to be some unpleasant things, some shocking things that will probably come out.

S. O'BRIEN: Does it give you any resolution? I know that Rader's attorney said that he hoped that the statements would give the victims' families resolution. I mean, hearing that, do you feel, well, at least, there's some closure my family can work toward? I know you guys have had a very, very tough time.

DAVIS: Well, yes. Closure is an illusion. You don't ever get it. Closure is if my mom were to call me tomorrow and she's back again, and that isn't going to happen. But, yes, compared to what I had resigned myself to, and that was living the rest of my life without any having any answers, much less having that animal caught and put where he belongs, you've got to take the victories as you can get them. She's still gone and she's not ever coming back. And that's the ultimate loss. But to know that he will walk into prison, and he will be carried out, there's a certain amount of satisfaction that goes with that, yes.

S. O'BRIEN: He never apologized. I mean, he certainly never came across as sorry or remorseful in any way.

DAVIS: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: But he also never even uttered the words, I'm sorry...

DAVIS: Right, right.

A. O'BRIEN: ... Even though the victims' family members were right there behind him. Did that surprise you at all?

DAVIS: No, no. He has -- he's only capable -- I think he's probably got a reptilian kind of rudimentary sense of concern only for his own family and for his own pathetic ego. But as far as the conscious word as you and I know it, it doesn't exist. There's just a black hole inside the shell of a human being.

And so, that's how he did what he did for 30 years. He dehumanized his victims. He objectified them. They were projects. They weren't my mother. They weren't Charlie Otero's parents and brother and sister. They were objects. And any sociopath is able to detach himself from what he's doing by dehumanizing the victims, and then carrying on a normal life, seemingly, in a (INAUDIBLE) sort of way, where the veneer of the normal person hides this cancerous being underneath. And so, what he's done to this point, none of it surprised me.

S. O'BRIEN: He is bizarre to say the very least. Jeff Davis, I know it's difficult to talk about, so I appreciate you talking about it.

DAVIS: No problem. Nice talking to. S. O'BRIEN: Appreciate it.

We're back right after this.


M. O'BRIEN: All right. Well, I think I waited too long to sell the Yukon XL. Andy Serwer, the price of oil now, $60. You've been actually warning about this for some time.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes. You could sort of see this one coming, Miles. And yesterday, the price of oil, unfortunately, went up again 70 cents to a record $60.54. The price is still above $60 this morning, up 66 percent over the past 12 months. Obviously, this is affecting gasoline prices here. Over $2.20 a gallon nationwide.

The good news, though, is that higher prices mean that oil companies will soon start to do new exploration projects and start doing new refineries, building new refineries as well.

However, "The Wall Street Journal" reports this morning there is some bad news there, because it has been so long since we have drilled for new oil that there are backlogs, not enough new equipment. And, in fact, not enough petroleum engineers to engage these projects right away, so that it will take several years actually to get these projects going.

Let's take a look at the stock market yesterday, obviously reflecting those higher oil prices. You can see here, red ink across the board. However, I have some good news this morning. And there's a bit of positive good news this morning, I kind of noticed.

M. O'BRIEN: Please, please, give us something.

SERWER: Stock futures are up this morning.

And one bright note from yesterday. And, Soledad O'Brien, in particular take note. Google passing the $300 a share mark. And for listeners of AMERICAN MORNING, you know that means one thing: cupcakes for Soledad O'Brien. And later in the program, we'll probably be getting some, because it was just something we promised Soledad.

M. O'BRIEN: It's the Soledad line.

S. O'BRIEN: I did put in my order for what I want.

SERWER: Yes, you did. She did. We'll see if we can get that for you, Soledad.

M. O'BRIEN: Penny stock picker that Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Next time I want the stock.

SERWER: Right. You just got the cupcakes. That's all you get, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Get the cupcakes.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Take it away.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. Let's move on now.

This morning, we're going to tell you about this video game. Have you heard of this? It's called the most violent video game ever made. It's a new game. It rewards kids for killing cops. It's called "25 to Life." Some lawmakers now want it banned. The question is, does video game violence lead to real life violence? We'll take a look at that ahead as we continue right here on AMERICAN MORNING.


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