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Interview With Senator Joe Biden; Insurgents Captured in Iraq; Discovery Delay; iPod Murder
Aired July 14, 2005 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: There's the space shuttle Discovery. It is about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.
Miles O'Brien is at Kennedy Space Center this morning, where the shuttle obviously did not take off.
Good morning -- Miles.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the shuttle still here. So am I, Soledad. We're waiting to find out what's going to happen to Discovery and whether NASA can fix it on the launch pad or, a much worse scenario, back to the hangar. That takes a long time.
Also coming up, a look at what exactly happened to Discovery Wednesday and how it bodes for the shuttle fleet. That's ahead -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Miles.
Also ahead them, we're going to talk about what's being done to protect America's subways and trains and buses. Senator Joe Biden, who rides Amtrak to Washington, D.C., almost every day, is going to join us.
First, though, let's get a look at the headlines, the other stories that are making news this morning, with Fredricka Whitfield.
Hey, Fred, good morning.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks so much, Soledad. Good morning to you.
Well, "Now in the News."
People in Britain and other parts of Europe pausing to remember the victims of the London terror attacks. Two minutes of silence were observed in honor of the victims about a half-hour ago. It's the one week anniversary of the bombings. Meantime, authorities are on the hunt for a possible fifth suspect in the London attacks. Police say four other suspects died in the explosions.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist is under observation in a Virginia hospital. The 80-year-old justice was brought in by ambulance Tuesday night after claiming of a fever. A spokeswoman says Rehnquist is undergoing testing. No word if the fever is related to Rehnquist's ongoing battle with thyroid cancer. Some major rulings are expected today in connection with the disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway. Two suspects released in Aruba last week could go back to jail. A panel of judges is set to rule on a request to re-arrest the Kalpoe brothers. The same judges are also weighing whether to release Joran Van Der Sloot. The Dutch teen is appealing his continued detention.
Firefighters in Southern California are getting the upper hand on a fast-moving brush fire threatening hundreds of homes. Look at these pictures. The 100-acre blaze was dangerously close to some multimillion-dollar homes outside of Los Angeles. Luckily, none of the homes were damaged. And most of the residents who had been evacuated are now back home.
And Tropical Storm Emily is now Hurricane Emily. Packing winds of about 90 miles an hour, Emily crossed the Windward Islands overnight, and Grenada is now feeling the effects of the storm.
S. O'BRIEN: Well, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is announcing big changes in his department. Secretary Chertoff says he wants the focus to be on preventing catastrophic attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, I want to be clear. We are concerned about all kinds of attacks. But I also want to make sure that we don't lose focus on what are the big-picture priorities. As bad as the attack in London is, as bad as an attack an a subway is -- and that's very bad, and we have to do our level best to prevent it and to mitigate it -- a catastrophic attack would be many times worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: Well, somebody who is paying close attention to rail safety is Senator Joe Biden. He's a daily Amtrak rider, and he's got a proposal that would, he says, increase mass transit security.
Nice to see you, senator. Thanks for talking with us this morning.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: It's good to see you, Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: OK. You heard what the secretary had to say. At the end of the day you've got to prioritize. Attacks obviously on the subway, terrible, but WMD, weapons of mass destruction, significantly worse. Isn't he exactly right?
BIDEN: He is exactly right. But, you know, Soledad, in Washington, D.C. here, not three blocks from where I'm standing, 500,000 people will visit Union Station today, which is more visitors than any other place in all of Washington.
This morning, as we speak, there are about 300,000 people going to be in tubes, a total of 600,000 people, aluminum tubes, underneath New York City in six tunnels that have no ventilation, were built in 1917 that we should be dealing with now.
Talk about a catastrophic attack. All you have to do is have an attack there.
The last point I'll make, the tunnel goes right underneath here, tunnel goes all through New York City, hazardous waste is moved through there. One chlorine gas tank car blowing up, the Department of Navy says, will kill 100,000 people. They've done nothing about it. It's irresponsible. We've been...
S. O'BRIEN: So you're essentially saying that it's interlinked. It's not one or the other.
S. O'BRIEN: OK. I'll give you that. But, you know, you ride the train, as we mentioned, every single day.
S. O'BRIEN: I take the subway practically every single day, like a zillion other people. Lay out a plan for me. And let's say I said money is no object, how do you realistically protect people who are riding the trains and the subways?
BIDEN: Well, let me tell you what I would do for you in New York. I'd spend $670 million to deal with the plans that we've had on the books now for seven years, to modernize the tunnels. Let's just talk about New York. Put ventilation systems in, lighting in, cameras to detect people who are in there fooling around, more police and more dogs on patrol in there, so that right now there's more than -- there's more people sitting underneath that Union -- underneath Penn Station in a hole than there are on five or six full 747s. You set off, you put sarin gas in there, you put a weapon of mass destruction in there, you've killed thousands of people.
S. O'BRIEN: But, you know, you've listed sort of fixes that in some ways wouldn't necessarily prevent an attack. For example, people point to London and say that city was prepared, they had four million cameras around the country. And, you know, what's great? They have the suspects now on tape after the fact.
BIDEN: Well, by the way, that's true. But here's -- now, there are two things. Chertoff didn't say we're going to be able to prevent all of those attacks. What happens how you mitigate the attack. If you have an attack in a subway tunnel or an attack in New York City, for example, and you have no way of people getting out, you have no ventilation to remove the toxic substance, you have no lighting for people to get there, you turn 50 people dying into 500 or 1,000 or 3,000 people dying. So, there are all kinds of ways to look at this.
One of the ways we know to prevent attacks and to dissuade people from taking actions are the cameras, but also dogs, also more patrols. I'm the guy that wrote that crime bill, 100,000 cops. The reason I wrote that crime bill years ago was I learned one thing after hundreds of hours of hearings: If you've got four corners, a cop on three of them, if a crime is going to be committed, it will be committed where the cop is not.
And so, there is a way to deal with this. We can't guarantee everything won't be all right, but we can significantly do, what the secretary says, prevent the catastrophic disaster from happening. We're not doing that now. We are being derelict and have been the last four years. We've spent virtually no money on it. And we have a bill now just to add, just to go out and add 200 canine patrols. Nothing else. Bomb-sniffing dogs for people getting on subways and on trains.
S. O'BRIEN: Senator Joe Biden, always nice to see you. Thanks you for talking with us about your proposal.
BIDEN: Thank you very much.
S. O'BRIEN: New developments to tell you about out of Iraq as well this morning. Coalition forces are reporting the capture of more than 30 insurgents in recent raids.
Let's get right to Barbara Starr. She's live at the Pentagon this morning with the very latest details on that.
Good morning -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.
CNN has learned that within the next several hours, the U.S. military in Iraq will announce the capture of two key lieutenants in Iraq, lieutenants' aides to Abu Musab Zarqawi.
The first was on Saturday in Ramadi. Coalition forces captured a man they now identify as Abu Sayba (ph), a man they believe is a key aide to Zarqawi, but more importantly, or equally importantly perhaps, they believe Abu Sayba (ph) was involved in the recent murder of the Egyptian envoy in Iraq, also the attacks on the Bahraini and Pakistani diplomats. That was all part of an al Qaeda effort, of course, to reduce Arab nation support for Iraq. They now believe they have captured the man directly involved in those attacks.
More details also on a man captured Sunday in Baghdad. His name is Abdul Aziz (ph). He is now said to be, according to U.S. forces, the so-called emir of Baghdad. He was a leader of Zarqawi's cell in Baghdad, directly involved in planning and executing attacks across the Iraqi capital.
They also say they have captured a good deal of intelligence they hope will lead them to additional insurgent leaders -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Some big developments from Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, thanks -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: The faulty sensor that's keeping the shuttle Discovery on the ground shouldn't be a surprise to NASA. The same problem delayed the launch three months ago in the middle of a test.
Now, while technical problems are routine and even expected in the space shuttle business, Wednesday's failure comes amid a lot of talk about the end of the shuttle era, which is upon us.
M. O'BRIEN (voice over): Two-and-a-half years and a billion-and- a-half dollars in improvements later, it's still your father's space mobile. A craft that was oversold and under-funded from the get-go, the shuttle remains a temperamental beast, constantly testing the metals of its masters.
WAYNE HALE, SHUTTLE DEPUTY MANAGER: All I can say is, 'Shucks.' We came out here all set to go today. We've been working really hard to be ready to go, and we incurred a problem. It was clearly a launch commit criteria violation.
M. O'BRIEN: On this day, Discovery offered up a problem that screamed out for attention. A crucial sensor that detects when rocket fuel is running low got stuck. Had the crew launched, the main engines might have shut down or run dry, a bad idea for the high pressure pumps that can suck the contents of a swimming pool in 25 seconds.
HALE: And you don't want to run those pumps dry. At that point, you can do serious damage in the engines. We've never tested it. It's just a bad practice. And you don't want to do that.
M. O'BRIEN: And so, it took mission managers about five minutes to decide not to light the candle and send the seven astronauts packing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are long faces here in the control center and around the site. Everybody was so looking forward to flying today.
M. O'BRIEN: The shuttle engineers are now doing some serious trouble shooting on Discovery, which first flew in 1984.
MICHAEL GRIFFIN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: I had one mission back in the '80s for the Defense Department scrubbed 14 times before we finally got it off the pad. This is nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.
M. O'BRIEN: NASA boss Mike Griffin is philosophical about the scrubs and practical about the aging, fragile shuttle fleet. He is determined to send the three remaining shuttles to the Smithsonian by 2010 to clear the way for a new generation of space vehicles that will take U.S. astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars.
RANDY AVERA, FORMER NASA ENGINEER: So, we have to rethink our whole national plan about where we invest our money, our time and our labor and our most important resource, which are the American people. And it's not only we, the people, looking for that answer and solution, it's our international partners wanting to know what we're going to do about that as well.
M. O'BRIEN: And that is the rub. NASA is committed to building the International Space Station with 15 other partner nations. Up until now, the space shuttles have done all the heavy lifting. But administrator Griffin is looking at ways to use unmanned rockets for the station. For example, leaving the shuttles with a pared-down schedule.
GRIFFIN: Well, we think we can get around 20 flights out by the 2010 retirement date President Bush has required. And we're looking right now to see what those flights should carry, what the assembly sequence for the International Space Station should be given that flight sequence, all that sort of thing. But we think about 20.
M. O'BRIEN: Four flights a year is about average for the space shuttle fleet over the 24-year history of the program. But the orbiters are not getting younger, and the problems will keep cropping up.
Discovery is the oldest of the three remaining space shuttles, also the first to fly after the Challenger disaster in 1986.
Now, a little later, we'll talk with that veteran shuttle engineer Randy Avera, who you saw briefly in that piece. He is the author of a book called "The Truth About Challenger" -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Miles, thanks.
Let's go to Los Angeles now, where LAPD officers are under a tactical alert that happened overnight. Demonstrators gathered on Wednesday night to protest a hostage crisis that ended with the death of a 19-month-old baby. Now, protesters took to the streets after the autopsy report confirmed that the toddler was killed by a police bullet.
CNN's Peter Viles got more on the story.
PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Suzy Lopez was not yet 2 when she died in a hail of gunfire in this small corner of her father's office. Now the coroner says the very same police who were trying to save her fired the fatal shot.
CHIEF WILLIAM BRATTON, LAPD: It is with great regret, as it relates to the death of this young child, that it appears that our officers, while engaged in their lawful duties, may have, in fact, taken her life.
VILES: Authorities tell CNN the girl was killed by a single bullet to the head, fired from a police rifle.
Police say ultimately Suzy's father, Raul Pena, is to blame. He's the one who held her hostage inside his garage, used her as a shield, police say, threatened to kill her, fired 40 rounds from a .9- millimeter handgun at police, even shot at his other daughter, a teenager, when she escaped.
After nearly three hours, SWAT officers decided to storm the garage to save the little girl. But in a shootout, they killed both the father and the toddler.
ASST. CHIEF GEORGE GASCON, LAPD: We have SWAT officers that are having tremendous emotional problems; that they are going through therapy. We have some people that we don't know whether they will be able to come back, to be honest with you, because of the emotional distress.
VILES: The little girl's family has been critical of police tactics.
LUIS CARRILLO, LOPEZ FAMILY ATTORNEY: That is the real tragedy here, a little angel, an innocent baby, a good baby, was killed by police bullets.
VILES: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, on the job less than two weeks now, is appealing for patience. But the emotional impact of this episode is already being felt by members of the LAPD. This is the first time in nearly 40 years and nearly 4,000 hostage standoffs that an LAPD SWAT team has ever shot and killed a hostage.
Peter Viles for CNN, Los Angeles.
S. O'BRIEN: Well, Los Angeles police chief says based on their investigation so far it appears that no criminal charges will be brought against the officers involved in that shooting.
A short break. We're back in a moment.
S. O'BRIEN: The wildly popular iPod is helping Apple Computer post a huge earnings report this week. Apple is selling more than a billion dollars worth of iPods in the last quarter. But just as the iPod is in high demand for consumers, the same is apparently true for criminals. And in one tragic case the crime was murder.
Kelly Wallace has more this morning.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. This is such a sad story.
S. O'BRIEN: It's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking.
WALLACE: It really is heartbreaking. First, though, maybe all of our viewers don't know what an iPod looks like. So we wanted to show them. This is it with the telltale white earphones, for those of you who have not seen one before.
Well, police say a robbery for one of these left a teenage boy dead, and now the boy's parents are hoping to turn their tragedy into hope for other families.
WALLACE (voice over): Sharon and Errol Rose of Brooklyn say they've been robbed of what they cherish most this world, their 15- year-old son Christopher, the youngest of four, killed in a fight over an iPod.
SHARON ROSE, VICTIM'S MOTHER: It's just a feeling of intense loss, as if you saved up a prize, you saved up something precious to you, and then somebody snuck in while your back was turned and just stole it all away.
WALLACE: They saved up for a house in Pennsylvania, where Christopher and Errol lived during the week. Errol commuting more than four hours a day to his New York City job so Christopher could get away from the tough city streets, but those same streets bringing this family's dream to an end.
ERROL ROSE, VICTIM'S FATHER: I feel like half of my life is gone. I was preparing him for the life that he's going to live, turn his own. I don't see it happening any more.
WALLACE: It was July 4 weekend Christopher and three friends in Brooklyn for a visit, just about to head back to Pennsylvania, when police say a group of teens surrounded them, demanding the friend's iPod, which Christopher was holding. There was a fight; Christopher stabbed and killed.
(on camera): Do you blame the iPod in any way for this? Do you think, oh, my god, if Chris and his friends didn't have an iPod maybe this horrible, horrible thing wouldn't have happened?
S. ROSE: I can't say I blame iPod. They can make it. I mean, but it's how we use it that's the problem. If we go around -- you know, if people start lusting after it and then their heart becomes evil, then it's us, it's not the thing, no?
E. ROSE: No, I wouldn't blame iPod for that. I blame the kids. These kids got to learn respect for human lives and not for material things, which is no good.
WALLACE (voice over): The Roses say they can't believe the response, the letters from family and friends and a phone call they never expected.
E. ROSE: I didn't know who he was or what it was all about. I got this call, and he called me (INAUDIBLE).
WALLACE: The caller, Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Computer, the company which makes the iPod. Errol says he was touched. E. ROSE: He said, you know, if there's anything I can do for you, please don't be bashful. You know, you can call me. But in my grief, I don't know what I want, you know, because money is not the issue or anything else. It's just Christopher.
S. ROSE: It's just Christopher.
WALLACE: And now this family, which worked so hard to make sure Christopher had a good life, says it will work even harder to make sure his life did not end in vain.
S. ROSE: I would like to see something done in his name, and I can see it happening because people considered him to be such a decent person.
WALLACE: Such a tragedy. Sharon and Errol Rose tell us they have started a campaign in Christopher's name to try to prevent youth violence. As for the death of Christopher Rose, a 16-year-old boy from Brooklyn has been charged with second-degree murder and remains in custody. Police sources say they think they have their man, but, Soledad, they also say the investigation continues, and that they're looking for two or three more accomplices.
S. O'BRIEN: Oh, utterly heartbreaking.
S. O'BRIEN: You've got a second part of this story.
WALLACE: Yes, because what we wanted to do is take a look at how the death of Christopher Rose, and also a real increase in the theft of iPods, might be making some iPod owners a bit jittery. So we take a look at that tomorrow, and also tips on what to do to be safe if you have one of these.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Kelly, thanks.
S. O'BRIEN: A short break. We're back in a moment.
S. O'BRIEN: Business news now. Hewlett-Packard might be planning to make a major workforce cut. Andy Serwer has that as he minds your business this morning.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Good morning, Soledad.
We're going to talk about Hewlett-Packard. First, though, we want to talk about Apple Computer. You just heard from Kelly Wallace about how strong the demand is for the iPod from criminals, unfortunately, as well as for ordinary Americans.
Last night, Apple Computer releasing numbers that are just searing red hot. Sales up 75 percent. Company answering -- which is huge for a company that size -- answering some very important questions. Demand for the iPod is not slowing at all, Soledad. They sold 6.2 million of these little babies last quarter. That's up seven-fold.
Demand is spilling over into the Macintosh computers. Sales up 35 percent there. That's three times the growth of the overall industry.
And more good news for the company. They're now selling iPods at Wal-Mart, which, of course, is the ultimate retail presence in this country.
Apple should be boosting stocks this morning, Soledad, extending yesterday's rally. Yesterday all three averages were up. The S&P now up five days in a row, as well as the Nasdaq. And we've really made a lot of progress since last Thursday.
Speaking of one company still struggling a little bit, though, is Hewlett-Packard. There are reports that the company is planning massive job cuts, as many as 15,000 people possibly tagged for layoffs. That would be 10 percent of its workforce. The new CEO, Mark Hurd, is looking to restructure that company after taking over from Carly Fiorina earlier this year.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Andy, thank you.
SERWER: You're welcome.
S. O'BRIEN: And let's head back out to Kennedy Space Center now. That's where Miles O'Brien is this morning.
Hey -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Good morning again, Soledad. Still to come on the program, NASA forced to scrub yesterday's shuttle launch because of a faulty part. We'll talk to an engineer who says that was one of the NASA's greatest days. I'll ask him about that and other things when AMERICAN MORNING continues.
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