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Terror Investigation; Pakistan Connection; Iraq Vet's Campaign

Aired August 2, 2005 - 07:29   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. It is just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.
Coming up, a potential complication in the London terror investigation. It centers around this man. His name is Hamdi Adus Issac. He's one of the men suspected in the July 21 attempted bombings.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're following now this morning some legal complications that could turn out to set back British investigators in all of that. We'll explain of this for you. A live report is just ahead.

Right now, let's check the headlines. Carol Costello joining us with that.

Good morning -- Carol.

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

"Now in the News."

The first of its kind mission for NASA. A member of the Discovery crew will try to repair some damage to the shuttle's exterior in orbit. Astronaut Steve Robinson will remove so-called gap fillers sticking out between those heat tiles. There are fears the material could overheat during re-entry. The work will be done during tomorrow's scheduled spacewalk.

A four-alarm fire burning Texas is posing a threat to some elderly residents. The fire broke out early this morning at a senior living center. Officials were able to evacuate the building, but four people are hurt. Things seem to be under control. Apparently, they have the flames out right now.

This morning, John Bolton will meet with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It's Bolton's first day on the job as the newly-appointed U.N. ambassador. Annan said Bolton can expect some cooperation, but warned that he would have to negotiate with fellow diplomats to accomplish his goals. Bush appointed Bolton on Monday, bypassing Democrats who had blocked a vote.

And Rafael Palmeiro. I still can't believe it. That Baltimore baseball great, he's benched for 10 games following a shocking positive test result for steroids. Palmeiro's suspension comes nearly five months after he told Congress that he never used performance- enhancing drugs. Palmeiro acknowledges he made a mistake, but he denies that he knowingly took those -- doesn't know it. I don't know what happened.

M. O'BRIEN: What did he think they were? Flintstone vitamins? Seriously.

COSTELLO: Well, it may be.

M. O'BRIEN: I mean...

COSTELLO: It's just so strange. But he said, you know, how could I be that stupid to take steroids after I appeared before Congress testifying that I never took -- you know what that reminded me of in Congress now? You know, when he points his finger, I never took steroids. I never had sex with that woman.

S. O'BRIEN: I never had sex with that woman.

COSTELLO: That's what it reminds me of now.

S. O'BRIEN: Doesn't it, though? That kind of says it all.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you.


M. O'BRIEN: Italian investigators want to know if a suspect in the botched London bombings was planning any terror attacks in Italy. That question could bog down the process of extraditing Hamdi Issac to Britain. CNN has learned that a judge will rule on Britain's extradition request by the end of the month.

Alessio Vinci is following developments on this from Rome.

Alessio, what are Italian investigators saying about this suspect?

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN ROME BUREAU CHIEF: Well, they're not saying much, frankly, Miles. What we do know, however, is that investigators are now concentrating their work and trying to find out why the suspect came from London all the way to Italy. Was it because he wanted to plan an attack in Italy? Or was it because he simply wanted to hide?

Police officials are telling us that their initial investigation suggests that he came here because he had relatives. However, we also know that the police are still investigating, and they are also trying to -- and they also charged him based primarily on evidence collected in London.


VINCI (voice over): The man arrested in Italy and suspected of being one of the four would-be London bombers has been charged in connection with international terrorism and with possessing false documents. The suspect's lawyer has confirmed to CNN that her client told investigators that he was involved in the July 21 failed attacks, but he claimed the strike was meant to grab attention and not to harm anyone.

ANTONIETTA SONNESSA, DEFENSE LAWYER (through translator): There is strong evidence against my client based on documents the British authorities have sent to their Italian counterpart. Based on this, Italian magistrates issued their charges.

VINCI: Italian police say they arrested the suspect in Rome after tracing calls he made from a cell phone monitored initially by Scotland Yard. Calls he made from Britain to Italy and, police say, to Saudi Arabia. At least one intercept was recorded. And when Italian police compared it to a voice recording provided by British police, they knew they had found the man they wanted.

CARLO DE STEFANO, CHIEF, ANTI-TERROR POLICE (through translator): We could immediately verify that the voice of the fugitive was compatible with the phone model sent to us by the Metropolitan Police. So, we were almost completely sure we were in front of the attacker.

VINCI: Italian officials say the suspect falsified his name and nationality when he applied for political asylum in Britain years ago. He was born in Ethiopia as Hamdi Issac. But when he arrived in Britain, he used the alias Osman Hussain, claiming to be from Somalia.

Before moving to England, investigators say Hamdi Issac lived in Italy, where two of his brothers still remain. Italian police have detained both of them. One is accused of destroying or hiding documents sought by investigators. But the charge does not involve terrorism.

STEFANO (through translator): We find ourselves confronted with the element that very probably he seems to be part of an impromptu group, rather than part of a structured group, which is operating on an international scale.

VINCI: Hamdi Issac is now held in an Italian prison awaiting possible extradition to Britain. The court-appointed lawyer defending the would-be London bomber tells CNN her client wants to remain in Italy, and will fight extradition on the grounds he will not get a fair trial in Britain.


And, Miles, Italy has adopted recently this so-called European arrest warrant, which was introduced by European Union member states to facilitate extraditions of suspects wanted for serious crimes.

And I just spoke to the judge, who is in charge of deciding the extradition of Hamdi Issac, and he's telling me that the extradition procedure is pretty much complete; that he has received all of the documents necessary to put forward this request. And that he will convey a hearing by the end of this month, by the end of August, and that a decision could come as early as then -- Miles. M. O'BRIEN: Alessio Vinci in Rome, thank you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Pakistan has launched a major crackdown on extremists in the wake of the London bombings. Among the steps being taken, an order barring foreign students from Pakistani religious schools. Three of the four London suicide bombers visited those kinds of schools in recent months. The crackdown also comes amid heavy pressure from the United States.

Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon for us this morning.

Barbara, good morning to you. American military commanders, do they think now Pakistan is doing enough?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, for months now the U.S. military has been training the Pakistanis in key counterterrorism skills, like nighttime assault. But now the question is: Are the Pakistanis indeed doing enough to go after al Qaeda and other extremist groups inside their country?


STARR (voice over): Pakistanis protesting President Pervez Musharraf's crackdown against extremists following the London attacks. Not since 9/11 has Musharraf been under such pressure from Britain and the U.S. to act against terrorist groups. But is Pakistan doing enough?

PETER BERGEN, CNN ANALYST: We've seen the cycle go on and on. Something like London happens, there's a crackdown. And then there's sort of -- and then there's, you know, several months where nothing really happened.

STARR: Musharraf has now banned students from outside Pakistan from attending religious schools believed to incite violence. Two of the attackers from the first London bombings last month are believed to have attended such schools.

Pakistani military forces last week moved into the city of Quetta, a safe haven for al Qaeda and Taliban. Hundreds were arrested. Musharraf insists al Qaeda no longer functions from inside Pakistan.

PRES. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTAN: We have broken the vertical and the horizontal command and communication links of the al Qaeda.

STARR: Musharraf also is under pressure from his army and security services, which might mutiny if he moves too aggressively. There have been several attempts on his life. The U.S. knows he doesn't control much of the country, and al Qaeda remains very much a threat.

Moreover, officials say in recent months, Pakistani forces have backed out of operations, where there had been tips about Osama bin Laden's location. U.S. officials tell CNN that al Qaeda is using hard-to-track, high-frequency communications along the border with Afghanistan, where it's believed bin Laden is hiding. It's a likely path for him to get his messages out.

Still, since the London attacks, one U.S. official believes bin Laden -- quote -- "Has sensed a disturbance in his previous safe havens. He would logically look at his options, which are narrowing."


So, Soledad, the bottom line is certainly both Britain and the United States want Pakistan to do more, but they do understand Musharraf is under political pressure inside his own country -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. Barbara, thanks -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Voters at the polls in southern Ohio right now. They're choosing a congressman in a special election there. The Republican candidate supports President Bush on Iraq. The Democrat opposes him. That would seem to be a disadvantage to the Democrat. But as Bruce Morton reports, this candidate has experience that is hard to argue with.


PAUL HACKETT (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Hi, ma'am, how are you? Paul Hackett.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Paul Hackett, ex- Marine, Democrat, running for Congress in Ohio's 2nd District, which has elected Republicans to Congress for more than 30 years and gave George Bush 74 percent of its vote last November.

If Hackett wins, he'd be the first Iraq-war veteran elected, three lost House elections in 2004, and Iraq is what he talks about. He served seven months there in 2003, saw a duty in Falluja, and thinks the United States isn't winning the peace.

HACKETT: Whoa, whoa, whoa! You told us a year-and-a-half ago, mission accomplished. It's a hell of a lot worse there today.

MORTON: Hackett opposed the invasion, but says the problem now is training Iraqi forces to replace the Americans.

HACKETT: Defeating the insurgency is a component of training the Iraqi security forces. We are doing a miserable job as an administration, as a political administration, of supporting the troops on the ground and giving them the leeway and the nuts and bolts to do that job.

MORTON: Vietnam vet Max Cleland is among the Democrats to campaign for Hackett, whose comments, I don't like the S.O.B. that lives in the White House, but I'd put my life on the line for him, has angered some Republicans. Still, this Vietnam vet who voted for Bush is having second thoughts.

JAY PURDY, FMR. U.S. MARINE (VIETNAM): I think the plan, it's appearing to me, that it's kind of make it up as we go. And I don't know that that's a good plan for a military action. You know, I'm not a strategist.

MORTON: But Jean Schmidt, the Republican candidate, thinks that's a minority view.

JEAN SCHMIDT (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The voters continue to believe in the president, believe in his message, and stand with him, as I do.

HACKETT: I think the question that the American people want answered is: Can we win this? And is our government being honest with us and being realistic on what it's going to take to win this?

MORTON: Hackett thinks the administration isn't doing what needs to be done in Iraq, and nationally many Americans agree. A recent CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows 53 percent think Americans won't win the war. But in Ohio's very Republican 2nd District, ex-Marine Paul Hackett faces a steep uphill climb.

Bruce Morton, CNN, reporting.


M. O'BRIEN: Bob Portman used to hold that congressional seat. He was appointed U.S. trade representative by President Bush -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: It's about 20 minutes before the hour. Time to take a look at the weather.


M. O'BRIEN: Still to come on the program a couple of U.S. carmakers announced big price cuts. Andy has details, "Minding Your Business."

S. O'BRIEN: And if you're a blogger, here's a little advice. Be careful what you write about your boss. We're going to meet a woman whose online journal cost her a job. That story is up next on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Write about your boss on your blog, and you could be putting your career on the line. That's what happened to an associate editor at "Ladies Home Journal." Her blog all about the perks in her business caught on, hugely successful. And then the people in the industry caught wind of it. They hit the delete key on her career, at least at this point.

Nadine Haobsh is the blogger. She's known as Jolie in NYC.

Nice to see you. You became wildly popular through your blog. It was kind of unintentional, wasn't it?

NADINE HAOBSH, BLOG COST HER A JOB: It was completely unintentional. I've had 120,000 hits up this point, 120,000 hits. But I started it just by e-mailing it to 30 of my friends. They e- mailed it to their friends. And then Gawker picked it up, and it sort of exploded.

S. O'BRIEN: Did you feel that you sort of bad mouthing anybody in the business, or that you were talking about things you shouldn't? I mean, what were you writing about?

HAOBSH: I was just -- to be honest, I was mostly writing about celebrity gossip, but I was writing -- one or two posts were about the beauty industry, talking about the perks we get, the events we go to. And then I was, I guess, unwittingly exposing some of the secrets of the industry, even though they're not really secrets.

S. O'BRIEN: It was the "we" part that really had your bosses at "Ladies Home Journal" sort of annoyed. Let's take a look at your blog from June 23. You wrote this: "Beauty director at Conde Nast arrives in the office at 11:00 a.m., leaves at 5:00." That's not a very long workday, is it? "Conducts three-hour lunches twice weekly at DB, once weekly at Koi, twice monthly at Per Se, commands 150K + for 20 hours per week of actual work."

That's a list of very nice, very expensive restaurants here in New York City. I think I figured out why maybe some of your bosses were not so thrilled about that.

HAOBSH: Exactly. Well, in that particular post, I said on it, you know, this is a satire, and...

S. O'BRIEN: That wasn't anybody specifically?

HAOBSH: No, no, no, no definitely not. I was just trying to be funny, you know, naively.

S. O'BRIEN: Was it a composite?

HAOBSH: It was sort of a composite of, you know, various positions in the industry, you know, and the perks that they get. But I definitely wasn't trying to poke fun at any person in particular. You know, I was just naively trying to amuse my friends.

S. O'BRIEN: May 18. "My boss and sometimes even I, only a mid- level editor, regular gets Marc Jacobs wallets and coats, plane ticket vouchers, iPods, overnight stays at the Mandarin Oriental, year-long gym memberships and, of course, all the free highlights and haircuts your poor dyed, straightened and styled hair can stand."

I read that and I thought, oh, that's the kind of job I'm looking for. Is it true you get those kinds of freebies in the business?

HAOBSH: It is true. It is true. I mean, you know, much the same way that someone who works in the restaurant industry or who is a food writer, they get to go to restaurants for free. You know, being a beauty editor, you do get free highlights. You do get free haircuts, because you have to be up on the new salons. And it is a perk that you do get a lot of sort of swag. You know, people will send you things. But I was including myself in that. I wasn't pointing fingers and saying, you know, oh, what a horrendous industry. I think this is disgusting. I was saying, look at what a fun job I have.

S. O'BRIEN: You really quit your job at "Ladies Home Journal" to take another one at "Seventeen," right?

HAOBSH: Exactly. I gave them my notice. And then, unfortunately, when the story broke in the "Post" the next day about the blog, my new bosses at "Seventeen" rescinded the offer.

S. O'BRIEN: How did they figure out that you were Jolie at NYC?

HAOBSH: I told them. I was up front with them from the beginning.

S. O'BRIEN: With your bosses at "Seventeen."

HAOBSH: With my two, yes, soon-to-be bosses at "Seventeen." I told them about the blog. I told them about the "Post" article, and I did tell them that I had given my bosses notice, and that they had declined. So, I was disappointed that they rescinded the offer, because I was up front as I could be. But I understand. They felt it was unprofessional. So I can respect that.

S. O'BRIEN: Do you miss all of the perks? Or do you feel like you've got a whole new career now? I know you're talking book deal.

HAOBSH: Exactly. I signed with some agents at William Morris. And so I've been working on a book for the past two years, and we're working to make that a reality. And I've just had -- so many doors have been opening. It's been really exciting. And I've had, you know...

S. O'BRIEN: So you lose the gym membership and the Mandarin Oriental.

HAOBSH: Exactly.

S. O'BRIEN: But what do you gain?

HAOBSH: It's amazing how many people have been contacting me, you know, supporting me, and we've been having a lot of meetings.

S. O'BRIEN: Lunches at DB, Per Se?

HAOBSH: Right. And a lot of the publicists that I used to be in touch with who, you know, would give us these perks, they've kept me on the lists. And so, you know, I'm still in the beauty industry albeit, you know, on my own as a writer now and journalist.

S. O'BRIEN: They harbor no resentment. Nadine Haobsh, nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us. HAOBSH: Thank you very much.

S. O'BRIEN: Good luck with the upcoming book deal and all of that.

HAOBSH: Oh, thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: We'll talk to you again -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: I think a lot of people in the audience right now are trying to figure out how to blog themselves out of a job, because you're doing pretty well. Congratulations.

HAOBSH: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Still to come, in the market for a new car? A couple of automakers say they are slashing prices. That is next on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: Well, if you're thinking about buying a car and you thought you missed that employee discount deal, there's still some deals. They're just not calling it that anymore, right, Andy Serwer?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: That's right, Miles O'Brien. Yesterday we told you that GM was slashing prices on its '06 models. Today we can tell you that Ford is following suit, at least to a degree, cutting prices on '06 models, including the Ford Explorer, which will be $600 to $2,400 less. It's always a little difficult. They try to make this as much of an apples-and-oranges deal as they can. You know about that, comparing car prices.

M. O'BRIEN: Right.

SERWER: More details also on GM's price cuts as well. You can see here. These are a couple of popular models, $1,000 to $2,000 less starting this fall. GM also announced yesterday the employee discounts program for everyone will end. That's not a big surprise because they're cutting prices on the '06s. Ford, however...

M. O'BRIEN: Why wouldn't they just keep it going? Because it obviously works with people. They still cut the prices.

SERWER: They've actually run out of '05s. I mean, they literally don't have that many more cars to sell. And if people want to get them, they've got to get them at full prices.

M. O'BRIEN: Gotcha.

SERWER: Ford, though, is saying that it's going to extend its program through September 6.

Today Chrysler is going to decide what it's going to do. Chrysler, unlike Ford and GM, is making money in North America, however, with the 300C and the Magnum. And, you know, that's what it's really all about, Miles. I still turn my head when I see a Chrysler 300 or a Dodge Magnum. They're cool-looking cars. And you can mess around with pricing as much as you want, but the real thing is you've got to make cars that people want to buy. And Chrysler is doing that right now.

M. O'BRIEN: I think you need to head right to Detroit. That's brilliant. Make cars that people want to buy.

SERWER: It's just amazing. It sounds like a William Shatner commercial, doesn't it?

M. O'BRIEN: Something like that, yes.


M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

M. O'BRIEN: Appreciate it.

A little earlier, we told you about the 10-game suspension of Oriole slugger Rafael Palmeiro for using steroids. He says he didn't know about it. Check out Jay Leno's take on Palmeiro's penalty.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Rafael Palmeiro was having a steroid Slurpee. That's how hot it was. You know what you call baseball players who don't take steroids? Dodgers. But, you know...


M. O'BRIEN: Yes, he says he didn't know. It was a Slurpee.


M. O'BRIEN: Just a Slurpee. You know, the thing about it is poor Rafael Palmeiro headed to the Hall of Fame. Now what happens?

SERWER: Maybe he is and maybe he isn't.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: I mean, you wonder if that's going to impact the voting.

M. O'BRIEN: I would think. I would think -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: I don't know. You know, please. I'm all over all of these people taking steroids, frankly. But you're not asking me to weigh in on that. You're asking me to do the tease, aren't you?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, a follow-up to the story we've been telling you about, the Atkins bankruptcy. Now that the Atkins diet fad is fading, what's the next big trend in dieting? We're going to take a look. That story is ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, we meet a courageous 12-year-old girl. She'll tell us how she managed to fight off a would-be kidnapper. Her story is ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Saudi Arabia buries its longest-reigning monarch. Dignitaries from around the world attend a simple ceremony for King Fahd at this hour. We're live from Riyadh.

A first for NASA. The shuttle crew prepares for a dangerous task, a spacewalk to fix Discovery's delicate underside. A look at the risks straight ahead.

And will one of the most wanted men in Britain remain in Italy? An extradition fight over a London terror suspect is heating up on this AMERICAN MORNING.


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