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Husband and Wife Fugitive Team Caught in Columbus, Ohio; President Bush and His Advisers to Meet About Iraq and U.S. Foreign Policy

Aired August 11, 2005 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Back behind bars -- an escaped convicted and his wife have been captured more than 24 hours after a deadly ambush outside a Tennessee courthouse. This morning, they're both heading for federal court.
Right now, Tropical Storm Irene is swirling in the Atlantic near Bermuda. Forecasters say the storm is gaining strength and may become the season's next big hurricane. But where it's going next is anybody's guess.

And the countdown is on. NASA's $750 million mission to Mars is ready to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: From the CNN broadcast center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien.

O'BRIEN: Good morning.

Welcome back, everybody.

Miles has the day off today.


I'm Carol Costello.


Also coming up, as President Bush gets ready to meet with top advisers at his Texas ranch to discuss problems in Iraq, the chairman of the joint chiefs says no one knows when Iraqis will be ready to defend themselves. We'll get into that.

O'BRIEN: That's sort of the $64,000 question, isn't it?

First, though, let's follow-up on the story we've been telling you about all morning. A dramatic end to that manhunt as police catch husband and wife fugitives.

Late last night in Columbus, Ohio, dozens of officers surrounded a hotel, a motel, really, and with a phone call ordered the fugitive couple to surrender.

George and Jennifer Hyatte will be extradited to Tennessee and charge with first degree murder.

That brings us right to Alina Cho.

She's live for us this morning in Columbus -- good morning to you, Alina.

What is next for the Hyattes?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, good morning to you.

George Hyatte will appear in federal court here in Ohio later this morning. As for his wife Jennifer, last we heard, she is still being treated for a gunshot wound to the leg that she suffered during Tuesday's daring escape.

Both of them, as you mentioned, will be extradited in short order to Tennessee, where they will both face first degree murder charges.

Now, let's take you back and give you the time line again.

This all started on Tuesday morning in Kingston, Tennessee, where George and Jennifer Hyatte made that daring -- what is being called a Bonnie and Clyde escape -- from the courthouse there. They traveled a little more than 200 miles to suburban Cincinnati, just across the Ohio border in Kentucky, where they overnighted there. It is believed that they took a cab from that location to this location here in Columbus. And it was that cab driver who drove them here who tipped off authorities.

Authorities quickly surrounded the motel and called the Hyattes' motel room.


JOHN BOLEN: It was almost simultaneous. The -- yes, the call was strategic. We waited until we were actually right outside the door. We placed the telephone call to see if anybody would answer and that way we would certainly have an indication that somebody was inside.


CHO: U.S. Marshals then spoke to Jennifer Hyatte, told her she had a choice -- either she and her husband George could come out peacefully or authorities would go in after them. Of course, the Hyattes chose the former option, almost immediately coming out, surrendering without incident.

So, Soledad, while there was a very violent escape, this all ended very peacefully -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Alina Cho for us this morning.

Alina, thanks.

Investigators think the escape was planned well ahead of time, but a trail of clues allowed them to capture the pair last night.

Mark Gwyn is the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

I guess congratulations are in order, to a large degree.

Twenty-four hours ago, when we spoke last, you said you were very confident that, in fact, this would end pretty quickly, and you were right.

Are you surprised, though, that it wasn't violent?

MARK GWYN, TENNESSEE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I am somewhat surprised. Obviously both of these individuals were desperate, had very little to lose. So it could have easily turned out to have been another shootout. But thankfully it was not.

O'BRIEN: There were reports that there were weapons found in their hotel room.

Are you confident that the weapons that have been recovered are the same weapons that were used for the breakout of the courthouse and used in killing the deputy, as well?

GWYN: I feel very confident that we have the murder weapon. Yes, I do.

O'BRIEN: We've heard reports, as well, that the two were relieved, they felt, by their capture.

Do you think that -- I guess does that surprise you at all?

GWYN: Well, it does. You know, based on the violent act that they perpetrated in Kingston, Tennessee, we really felt like that, you know, we didn't want anyone else hurt. We felt like there was a high probability someone else could be hurt.

But we're just thankful that it ended the way it did.

O'BRIEN: Mrs. Hyatte, Jennifer, badly injured by reports.

Do you know what kind of shape she's in? I know she's out of the hospital now.

GWYN: I don't know what kind of shape she's in. We do know that she was -- she does have at least one gunshot wound.

O'BRIEN: So in all of this, then, what happens now? They come back to the county and face charges?

GWYN: They do. There are first degree murder charges for George and Jennifer Hyatte in Roane County.

O'BRIEN: At the end of the day, it seems almost like a textbook capture. Give me a sense of how you feel about it 24 hours after we spoke the last time. GWYN: Well, I'm very proud of the TBI acting as the lead investigative agency. There were a lot of information coming in. In any type of investigation like this, it depends on how you gather and disseminate that intelligence and how quickly you can get it out to the agencies and agents on the ground. And I think we did a great job with that. That's why we had the conclusion that we did.

O'BRIEN: It seemed like it really worked.

Mark Gwyn is the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Nice to see you and thanks for your time.

GWYN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Time to get a look at some of the other stories that are making headlines this morning with Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta -- good morning again, Fred.


A suspected al Qaeda operative accused of trying to set up a terror training camp in Oregon has been ordered to remain in British custody until next month. Harron Aswat appeared in British court just about two hours ago. The judge ruled against his immediate extradition. Aswat is also suspected of taking part in the July 7th bombings in London.

The former number two at WorldCom is set to be sentenced today. Scott Sullivan was WorldCom's chief financial officer. He testified against former CEO Bernard Ebbers in the company's $11 billion accounting fraud. Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years.

In Utah, a truck driver is lucky to be alive this morning. He was driving a big rig carrying more than 35,000 pounds of explosives when it overturned and caught fire. Several people were hurt. The explosion left a giant crater in the road and sparked some brush fires in that area.

And NASA is set to launch a spacecraft to Mars, but the weather in Florida is not cooperating. It's forcing a bit of a delay. Once it does launch, the orbiter is expected to spend the next four years circling the red planet and could gather more data than all previous Mars missions combined. Much more on this coming up -- Carol.

COSTELLO: It's always the weather messing things up.

Thank you, Fredricka.

Iraq tops President Bush's agenda today when he meets with his defense and foreign policy advisers at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Suzanne Malveaux live from the White House this morning -- Suzanne, these meetings occur regularly when the president is in Crawford. But today's meeting comes at a particularly tense time. Why?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, Carol, it comes at a very tense time for the president, as well as for the Iraqis. There are some deadlines that are rapidly approach. President Bush is going to be meeting with his defense team, Secretary Rumsfeld as well as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others, really to talk about not only Iran, Israel, North Korea and others, but, of course, Iraq top[ping the agenda.

This comes at a critical time because America's support for the Iraq mission really has been waning. The latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll showing that 43 percent of Americans believe that things are going well in Iraq, but 56 percent believe that they are going badly. It comes at a critical time for the Iraqis, who are approaching a deadline, a Monday deadline to try to draft their constitution. It also comes at a time when there is more pressure from some lawmakers, as well as some Americans, to say hey, now is the time to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.

One of those people that has been really putting the pressure on and keeping it on the president is a mother, Cindy Sheehan. She lost her son Casey in the Iraq war last year. She has been camped outside of the Crawford ranch, Bush's ranch, asking to see the president.

There are rumors of her arrest. That is why there are several dozen other protesters that have joined her. She is expected to speak later this morning to give a sense of where she is with all that. But she wants the president to know that now she believes it's the time to pull those U.S. soldiers out of Iraq -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Wait a minute, rumors of her arrest? Do you know any more?

MALVEAUX: There are rumors that she may be arrested if she actually enters or crosses, trespasses in areas that she is not supposed to go. There are other people, of course, who have joined her. So it's become kind of like this makeshift campsite, if you will. So they're keeping a close eye, local authorities, on just what kind of movements they make.

She has not broken any laws by any stretch of the imagination. She has asked to speak with the president. There have been several senior administration officials who have come out and who have talked to her. But she said she is not leaving until she sees Mr. Bush -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Suzanne Malveaux live at the White House this morning.

O'BRIEN: In Arizona now, two people dead in flash flooding which was unleashed by heavy rain. A man died on Wednesday, swept away in a pickup truck with a horse trailer attached. You can see the picture right there. Oh, it looks terrible. He had been trying to cross a flooded river bed that was running along an interstate highway.

Elsewhere, a 7-year-old girl was swept away by a wall of water that rushed through a creek. Her body was found several hours later.

Let's get right to Chad Myers at the CNN Center.

He is tracking tropical storm Irene. And, in fact, of course, that's an upgrade -- Chad, first, those pictures are just awful.

How is the weather looking for the folks there?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, much better today. But it's just amazing how you can get one thunderstorm that just won't move, literally miles and miles and miles around these pictures. We had those for you yesterday, too. Nothing. No rain at all and then one cell sits in one spot for way too long. And it just sits there and rains.

Here's Irene right here, tropical storm Irene, as you were saying. It was a depression then a storm, it got a name, then it downgraded, now it's upgraded, and now it's still making its way back off toward the west, west-northwest officially. Here it is at about 14 miles per hour.

It is 40 miles per hour right now. But notice how it's gaining strength, 50, 65, 70, and then all the way back up to 75. seventy- four turns it into a hurricane, a category one hurricane. But still, moving toward the North Carolina coast. We're still going to have to watch this as the weekend goes by.

Now that Carolina coast approach wasn't until Tuesday, but still.


COSTELLO: Still to come on AMERICAN MORNING, more deadly bombings in Iraq. More questions about the training of Iraq's security forces. We'll look at how the training is going and what it means for U.S. troops.

O'BRIEN: Plus, we're "Paging Dr. Gupta" for his special series, "The War On Cancer." Today, how one cancer doctor's perspective changed when he became a cancer patient.

COSTELLO: And the red planet's mysteries. What NASA hopes to uncover on its new mission to Mars. That's just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


COSTELLO: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he hopes Iraq's new constitution will help quell the violence there. But he acknowledges that in the short-run, there likely will be more insight attacks. On Wednesday, a suicide bomb in northwestern Baghdad killed six people. Six American troops were killed Tuesday in an insurgent attack north of the capital. And today, gunmen assassinated an intelligence official and a police officer.

Colonel Edward Cardon is commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division. He joins us live from Baghdad.

Good morning, sir.


COSTELLO: And I know that you're involved in training Iraqi security forces. And I'd like to center our questions around that this morning, because General Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, says nobody knows when Iraq will be able to defend itself.

Why is that so hard to determine?

CARDON: Well, the Iraqi brigade that we're training is doing quite well in its combat operations. The area that we're struggling with a little bit is in getting it equipped and making sure that it can sustain itself. That's where the areas of most difficulty lie right now.

COSTELLO: A hundred and seventy thousand Iraqi security forces are being trained right now, or are trained.

How many can go out and do the job alone?

CARDON: The ones in our area, they go out and they do a great job. Two of the battalions that we trained that have since gone to other sectors can actually hold down their own sector. Where they need help is in the logistical support of their forces. But combat operations wise, they have no troubles conducting combat operations.

COSTELLO: So you're talking about them getting the proper materials to do the jobs, like weapons, like what?

CARDON: Some weapons, some radios, being able to feed, fuel, have the right equipment, have, you know, a replacement for their trucks, have a maintenance contract for their trucks, things of that nature. That's what's difficult for the Iraqi security forces at this time.

COSTELLO: And that takes money.

Is that left up to the Iraqi government or is the United States helping, too?

CARDON: Well, we provide less support than we did before because we're working hard to make sure the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior build the systems that can actually do this. Before, we were providing a lot of this support, but there was not a lot of growth in these institutions. Now that these institutions have to do it, we're seeing more growth. But we're having to work pretty closely with them to make sure they get everything that they're supposed to receive.

COSTELLO: You know, it seems to many Americans that the bulk of the Iraqi security forces is just taking such a long time to train these men. It seems Americans can go to boot camp and in relatively quick order they can fight effectively.

Why can't the Iraqis?

CARDON: I'm sorry, it's -- part of the question cut out and I only got the first part.

COSTELLO: Well, you know, it seems like Americans go to boot camp and you can train them in relatively quick order. And many are wondering why Iraqis can't be trained as fast and effectively.

CARDON: Well, I think the Iraqis, the brigade that we just trained, we trained them pretty rapidly. Of course, this is the third time that we've trained Iraqi security forces, so we're a lot faster at it now than when we started. But just to start with, you have to, you know, work through language barriers. You have to work through some cultural differences. You have to work through the importance of an Iraqi link to the Iraqi people, which is a little different than the way their security forces were used two years ago.

COSTELLO: And you have to deal with terrorist attacks, because I know you post weekly letters for the families of soldiers. In the most recent note, this is what you said. This is what happened at a checkpoint, and Iraqi security forces were there. You wrote: "At dusk, a car drove near the checkpoint and the engine quit. The driver got out and asked the security forces to help him push the car through the intersection. As the security forces gathered around to help him, the driver jumped back into the car. The car blew up, killing the driver, numerous security guards and innocent bystanders."

How often does this sort of thing happen and how do you deal with it?

CARDON: Actually, that type of thing still happens, but it's a much lower level than it was. We did have a car bomb the other day, but before that, I haven't had one for 10 days prior. So that's really dropped compared to what it was in May, when the coalition force and the Iraqi security forces worked together to really put a stop to these car bombs.

However, there still are a couple of car bombs a day throughout Iraq and we continue to work on that.

But what the problem with this specific instance is, is that then the Iraqi security forces don't have a lot of confidence in the Iraqis around them. And there starts to become suspicion on both sides. So a checkpoint might, in fact, become a blocking position. There's mistrust. You don't develop the kind of relationship that you would like to see between the army and the people that they're supposed to defend.

COSTELLO: In your estimation, when will the Iraqi security forces be able to patrol their country on their own?

CARDON: Well, I can't speak for the country. I can speak for my area that I think by the time the elections come, that the 5th Brigade will be able to patrol its assigned area and do it well. COSTELLO: Colonel Edward Cardon, thanks for joining us this morning.

CARDON: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Carol, still to come this morning, NASA prepares to launch a mission to explore the red planet. What secrets will a new Mars orbiter uncover? A look at that is up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Some last minute thunderstorms have delayed this morning's launch of NASA's orbiter destined for Mars. Scheduled lift- off is now tentatively set for about 9:00 p.m. -- 9:00 a.m., rather -- Eastern time.

This latest mission to Mars is NASA's most extensive. The orbiter is supposed to spend four years circling the red planet, collecting data which might help determine if humans can explore the planet some day.

Joining us to talk about the mission, Laura Danly is the senior manager of the Hayden Planetarium right here in New York City.

Nice to see you and thanks for talking with us.

It's called the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and it'll be four years that it'll sort of do its work.

What exactly is the information you want to get from the orbiter?

LAURA DANLY, HAYDEN PLANETARIUM: It has a number of different instruments that will take pictures at very high resolution, measure the composition of the planet's surface, even do sounding beneath the surface to find out if there are sub-surface caves and water and material even below what you can see. So there's a lot of different measurements that it will take.

O'BRIEN: So it's sort of taking the exploration to a new level?

DANLY: Absolutely. Every time we go back to Mars, we take new tools, things that allow us to understand even better what that planet is about, what its history was and what the possible future is for humans there.

O'BRIEN: NASA said that some of the goals of the exploration program are determining whether there was life, figuring out what the climate was, figuring out the geology of Mars and also prepare for human exploration.

What kind of preparations are they talking about? DANLY: Well, if we do go to Mars, it's a long way away. And you want to go with the ability to live off the land, so to speak; use the materials on Mars to survive. So a very important question is whether or not there's water there. Humans need water. We don't want to have to haul it all with us. It would be a lot better to be able to use the water that's there.

O'BRIEN: The orbiter has tons of different, I guess, parts and roles, really -- a weather satellite, a geologic surveyor, a path finder for future missions.

In a nutshell, and for a lay person, how exactly does it work?

DANLY: Oh, well, it's a rather large spacecraft with a lot of different instruments on it, some of those cameras, the different types of measurements you just talked about, all work -- some of them work together and some of them work separately. But the spacecraft has the big solar panels. It gets power and powers all those instruments to run the cameras, just like a camera battery does in your own camera.

O'BRIEN: And the data is not only better quality that they'll be feeding back, from what we know. I mean the Rover has been pretty amazing.


O'BRIEN: But also, you know, a bigger band -- a bit more pipeline, right?

DANLY: Absolutely. The difference between the Rovers that are on the surface, they can see things very close up, but they only can go so far. This is an orbiter and it'll be able to see the entire planet at very high resolution, down to about the size of this table here.

O'BRIEN: NASA has been exploring Mars for 30 years.

How long, realistically, do you think it's going to be before a human being steps on Mars?

DANLY: You know, that's a really tough question.

O'BRIEN: Everyone asks you that question.

DANLY: And everyone does ask that question.

O'BRIEN: All right. But I really, you know, is it five years? Is it...

DANLY: Oh, it's longer than five years.

O'BRIEN: Is it 25 years?

DANLY: You know, it's a combination of technical challenges, and there are some. But it's also a question of sort of political and social will. Is this what the country wants to do and what the world wants to do now? And so those factors are sometimes harder to determine than the technical factors.

O'BRIEN: So let's say the country decides yes, that is what we want do.

How soon could human beings walk on Mars, if everybody -- and I get all that political in addition to money and sort of technical issues.

DANLY: Sure.

O'BRIEN: If those were all overcome, how soon?

DANLY: I think, well, you know, a time line could be, say, 25 years. I'm guessing at that. But, you know, new technology could make it shorter and other things, setbacks, could make it longer. So we're very reluctant to make specific predictions like that.

O'BRIEN: I know. I know. Scientists never want to...

DANLY: That's true.

O'BRIEN: ... weigh in on exactly with you. But we appreciate the prediction.

Laura Danly from the Hayden Planetarium.

Nice to see you.

DANLY: Nice to be here.

O'BRIEN: Thanks for talking with us this morning.

DANLY: Sure.

O'BRIEN: Carol.

COSTELLO: Should you get to decide whether to tip the wait staff? When you go out to eat, how much should you give them? More restaurants have decided to tack the tip onto your bill. They take the decision away from you. We'll discuss the art of tipping just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

It is just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

COSTELLO: And I'm Carol Costello in for Miles today.

O'BRIEN: Nice to have you.

Thanks for helping us out. You get to sleep in a little.

COSTELLO: Well, actually, I'm here every day. But I do get to sleep in because I'm off DAYBREAK.

O'BRIEN: Right.

COSTELLO: That's true.

O'BRIEN: You know, you're usually in a little bit earlier. I'm trying to give you the sliver lining this morning.

Coming up, we're going to talk about tipping. A very expensive restaurant -- have you heard this, Per Se, this ridiculous...


O'BRIEN: You know how much it costs for four people to eat at Per Se? About $1,000, four people, $1,000.

COSTELLO: Right. And you get this much food. The little gourmet portions.

O'BRIEN: And tiny little -- but it's very good.

Anyway, they're making a very bold move by automatically adding the tip, at 20 percent, onto your check. As you can imagine, some people think it's a great idea. Other people think it's kind of a rip-off. We're going to talk about that ahead this morning.


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