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AMERICAN MORNING

Gaza Showdown; Baghdad Bombings; BTK Sentencing

Aired August 17, 2005 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Jewish settlers versus Israeli forces. It's a tense confrontation unfolding this morning. Settlers evicted in Gaza. Some protesters fighting until the end. We'll live on the scene with the latest.
A deadly day in Baghdad. Three bombs exploding, one after another, with devastating consequences. Forty-three are dead, 88 injured. We'll have a live report.

And the BTK murders. Chilling details to be revealed publicly for the first time today as the sentencing of Dennis Rader begins ahead 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.

M. O'BRIEN: Good morning to you. Glad you're with us.

Some amazing scenes out of Gaza as people are just evicted from their homes. You know, the small picture is they lose their home. The big picture is, this could be the best chance for peace.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Could be steps forward, of course. That, trying to decide if it's the right thing to do for those people, is kind of the $64,000 question.

Israeli defense forces are now saying about 60 percent of those Jewish settlers are out of Gaza. The troops have been leading the settlers away all through the night, into the early morning hours as well. Those who are still there are violating the mandatory deadline to get out.

An agreement is in the works, though, to allow some settlers to hold formal ceremonies before they leave voluntarily later today. Many, though, are refusing to give up without a fight. About a thousand had been barricaded inside the Neveh Dekalim synagogue. Israeli troops finally got inside just about 90 minutes ago.

It brings us right to Guy Raz. He's there, the center of the resistance.

Guy, how did the soldiers finally get in? What was that like?

GUY RAZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, really it's been a process of persuasion, rather than force here, throughout the day. The Israeli army has essentially taken a temporary break in the evacuations over the past several hours to give those who want to a chance to pray, the remaining settlers and their supporters here in Neveh Dekalim.

Earlier in the day, of course, it wasn't such a quiet scene. Some fierce clashes broke out between soldiers and demonstrators as the Israeli army began to move into the settlement and fan out to begin the process of formally removing the remaining settlers from the Gaza settlement.

Now, as we speak, there are still several thousand people inside the main synagogue here in Neveh Dekalim. The army plans in the next hour or so, perhaps, to begin the process of forcibly removing people from that synagogue.

About an hour and a half ago, we saw a young man that we interviewed earlier in the week on his way to the synagogue. We asked him what he'll do when the army arrives. He told us he'll stand up, he'll leave voluntarily, he'll board the bus, and he'll leave Gaza -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: And I guess if he's speaking for many people, that's how it will all end, relatively peacefully.

Guy Raz for us this morning.

Guy, thanks -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: A very deadly day in Iraq today. Dozens of civilians killed in a series of bombings, and U.S. troops engaged in a firefight with insurgents on the streets of Baghdad.

Aneesh Raman live now in Baghdad.

What's the latest from there, Aneesh?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, good morning.

At least 40 people -- 43 people, sorry -- were killed, upwards of 80 others wounded after three car bombs detonated in the Iraqi capital early this morning. The first two exploding just before 8:00 a.m. local at the al-Nahda bus station. It's one of the busiest in the capital. One can only assume a good number of Iraqis would have been there waiting to travel to various parts of the country.

As casualties from that initial explosion were being taken to hospitals, another car bomb at one of those hospital, al-Kindi. In all, as we say, over 40 people killed, as well as scores of others wounded, underscoring, Miles, the need for stability, for security for Iraqi civilians as the country's political leadership is embroiled in turmoil trying to meet the new deadline to draft a new constitution now days away. That deadline on Monday -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's talk about that. The concern was, when that announcement was made, that that would send a signal to the insurgents to do just what we saw today. Obviously it's very difficult to link those two events, though.

RAMAN: Well, for Iraqi civilians, this will certainly add to the pressure that they will put on the government. For them, it's not just a matter of coming to compromise and what specifically will be in the constitution, but the sooner that this process moves forward, they feel the sooner these leaders can spend their time on the daily needs of the Iraqi people.

Right now, the president, the prime minister, all of them involved in negotiations over the constitution. That leaves little time to deal with the basic services and security that Iraqis need. So they want this to go forward if for no other reason than the government can focus better than it perhaps can now on their needs on a daily basis -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Aneesh Raman, in Baghdad. Thank you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: BTK serial killer Dennis Rader is about to come face to face with the families of his victims. A sentencing hearing begins within the hour in Wichita, Kansas.

Rader confessed last month to 10 murders. Now prosecutors will ask for the maximum sentence of life in prison for each killing. Rader cannot be sentenced to death because the murders took place before Kansas reinstated the death penalty.

The judge must decide whether Rader serves 10 sentences consecutively or concurrently. Consecutive sentences would mean a minimum of 175 years without the chance of parole.

Chris Lawrence is live for us in Wichita this morning.

Chris, who will we hear from in court today?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, first up will be eight law enforcement officers. And they will be describing some of the same crimes that Dennis Rader did, but with somewhat more empathy for the victims themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice over): Dennis Rader admits he is BTK and has methodically ticked off how he murdered his victims.

DENNIS RADER, BTK KILLER: Well, after I strangled here with a belt, I took the belt off and retied that with pantyhose real tight.

LAWRENCE: We watched the tape of Rader's testimony with Dr. Helen Morrison, an expert who studied serial killers for 30 years.

DR. HELEN MORRISON, PSYCHIATRIST: He reports his crimes as if he were doing a grocery list.

LAWRENCE: Dr. Morrison says he'll thrive in prison because life there is so structured.

MORRISON: You just do what you need to do, which is exactly like his crimes: you do what you need to do. LAWRENCE: Rader stalked and murdered 10 people around Wichita, Kansas, beginning in 1974. He was notorious for taunting police and sending messages through the media. The notes stopped coming about 20 years ago, until BTK suddenly resurfaced in March, 2004.

Within a year came this announcement...

CHIEF NORMAN WILLIAMS, WICHITA POLICE: BTK is arrested.

(APPLAUSE)

LAWRENCE: Dr. Morrison says Rader's ability to elude police will earn him a bit of fame in prison.

MORRISON: Then there'll be all the media attention, people who desperately want to talk to him, who say they'll do an exclusive interview. And he'll start keeping scrapbooks. He will become in his own mind a very special person.

LAWRENCE: His victims' relatives see a killer. And some of them will testify at Rader's sentencing.

(on camera): At some point during the sentencing, the family will want to see some emotion from him.

MORRISON: They will want remorse. And he has none.

LAWRENCE (voice over): Dr. Morrison has spent thousands of hours interviewing more than 80 serial killers, including the tapes she's seen of Rader.

MORRISON: These families expect that there are going to be closure. With any of these cases there will be nothing. They will get nothing from this man.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: Nothing except the knowledge that Rader may never go free. At least 10 of the victims' families will be here in the courtroom listening to the testimony. One of them already has told us they expect to be angry and frustrated over the next couple of days, but, nevertheless, felt that they had to be here -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, Chris, it's going to be just absolutely brutal for them, one has to imagine.

Chris Lawrence for us this morning.

Chris, thanks.

Let's get the rest of the headlines with Carol Costello this morning.

Good morning.

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

"Now in the News," investigators are sifting through the wreckage of a Colombian airliner, trying to determine what caused its engines to fail. The West Caribbean Airways plane crashed Tuesday in a remote area of Venezuela, killing all 160 people on board. Search and rescue crews are working to remove the bodies from the crash site. French aviation officials say all of the passengers were from Martinique.

Cities throughout Bangladesh are on high alert after a series of bombings. At least 115 people were hurt. There are also reports of at least one death. Police say some 350 explosions went off nearly simultaneously in and around government buildings. An Islamic militant group has claimed responsibility.

The jury could soon get the case involving the painkiller Vioxx in the death of a Texas man back in 2001. Closing arguments in the five-week trial are set to begin later this morning. More than 4,200 state and federal Vioxx-related lawsuits are pending across the country. The pharmaceutical company Merck pulled Vioxx off the market just about a year ago.

The family of Coretta Scott King is expected to release a statement today updating her condition. The widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was rushed to the emergency room on Tuesday. A hospital spokeswoman says King was kept overnight for observation. It's not clear why she was taken in for medical care.

And tens of thousands of sea turtles are arriving on a Mexican beach for the start of nesting season. The turtles are laying and burying their eggs, all under the watchful eyes of the environmental authorities. These specific turtles are endangered, and that's the reason for all the extra precautions. The nesting season lasts through next month.

So it's a romantic time here, Chad.

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: Still to come, we'll meet the Army officer behind recent claims that critical pre-9/11 intelligence was ignored. Why is he going public now, four years after the attacks?

S. O'BRIEN: And coming up next, lots of people are turning out to support Cindy Sheehan's protest near the president's ranch, but don't count some of the locals among them. How life has changed in the usually sleepy Crawford, Texas, up next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: The mother of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq and her throng of protesters are moving to a new campsite in Crawford, Texas. They agreed to a new location after the president's neighbors complained about the toll the current location was taking on the small community.

Joining us now is Ray Meadows, commissioner of McLennan County, which includes the town of Crawford, Texas.

Mr. Meadows, good to have you with us this morning. Now that they're moving, is the problem solved, from your perspective?

RAY MEADOWS, MCLENNAN COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Well, we don't know yet. I'm standing out here across the road from where the present camp is, and I don't know when they'll be moving. And it's none of my business. I really don't care.

All I'm concerned about since day one is this county road and the safety of the citizens here in the Prairie Chapel area.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. If they move to property...

MEADOWS: We really...

M. O'BRIEN: If it moved to private property, that will solve that problem, in theory, at least, right?

MEADOWS: Well, we don't know. We don't know yet. I don't think they're going to have near the space. I think there's one to two acres.

I could be wrong on that, but we're going to see. But it's still on a county road down there, so we'll address that situation when and if they do move. So I'm anxious to find out, you know, what's going on.

M. O'BRIEN: Tell me what you're hearing from your constituents. What are they most upset about?

MEADOWS: The traffic out here. I was out here last Saturday, and we had -- the sheriff told me he had counted and stopped counting at 992 cars.

We've got a 20-foot road out here, and we've 12 feet of ride (ph) away on each side where they have to park. And if they get too far in, they're going to be in the ditch.

So what we had, and I observed Saturday, we had a lot of foot traffic. They were walking up and down the road. A lot of people have never been out in the country. You know, they're used to working on sidewalks. And if you get out in the ditch, you're going to get red bugs or snake-bit.

But it's a dangerous situation. And what I'm looking at here, this is a curve. And when people come around this curve and they start looking at the camp, where the cross is, they could swerve and either hit a person or a vehicle. And we don't want that. We've got liability out here.

M. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you this, Mr. Meadows, though: if this were a protest that was pro-President Bush, or, for that matter, if it was an NRA rally or something like that, do you think people would complain as much?

MEADOWS: Yes, sir.

M. O'BRIEN: Really?

MEADOWS: And I'd be complaining about your truck because your truck's parked on the road now. And you're all going to have to get the ladder off of the road or we're going to tow it. Now that's -- I mean, we're serious about this.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, can we get through the interview first before we do that, if that's all right?

MEADOWS: Well, I'm going to let you do that, but I'm just telling you, you know, what I'm observing out here, and that's the first thing I noticed.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. But, when then Governor Bush was elected president, surely you knew there was going to be eventualities like this, where something would cause a crowd to come to Crawford, right?

MEADOWS: We did. That's exactly right. And we went -- there's nine of us that went to Plains, Georgia, to get an idea of how they observed it and dealt with it. And we got some ideas there.

And they said two things would happen. You know, the media, and the people and the -- three things -- the traffic. And that's what they were disgusted about.

Now, we just got some people frustrated. And I think anybody would. I think these people would be frustrated if they couldn't get in their driveway at home. And hopefully that won't happen, but I hope they do just to see what our people have gone through.

M. O'BRIEN: You know, a lot of people -- a lot of people, Mr. Meadows, were -- when they read about this story about this man, who I know you know, who got in his pickup truck and drove down the road and knocked down several of these crosses, which are meant to memorialize people who died in Iraq, knocked them over, I think a lot of people were outraged over that.

What's the feeling there about that?

MEADOWS: Well, I think that they're outraged on both sides. I know the gentleman, like you said, and he's a war veteran. He was wounded in the service. So I guess he's got his own -- his own agenda, as far as that goes. But, you know, there's people upset on both sides.

Like I say, it's frustrating. And when they get all the media attention, they'll stay out here until, you know, hell freezes over, so to speak.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: All right. That was McLennan County commissioner Ray Meadows. Our truck is still there. Hopefully it's OK. We're going to hear from Bob Franken, who is attached to that truck, in just a little bit -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, an Army intelligence officer goes public. He is the man behind recent claims that critical intelligence was ignored before the 9/11 attacks. You'll meet him coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: A military intelligence officer says he tried to warn the FBI about an al Qaeda cell a full year before the 9/11 attacks, but was prevented from passing on information.

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer was a member of a unit called Able Danger, and he's just now going public with what he says he told the 9/11 Commission. Colonel Shaffer joins us from our Washington bureau this morning.

Good morning. Thanks for being with us.

LT. COL. ANTHONY SHAFFER, U.S. ARMY INTELLIGENCE: Good morning. Thank you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: We're coming up on four years to the anniversary of 9/11. Why are you going public now?

SHAFFER: I understand this will stir up a lot of very difficult memories for folks. And that is not why we're doing this, obviously.

I was tasked by the Navy to look at bringing back some of the aspects regarding the technology of the Able Danger capability earlier this year. Through our research and coordination with Congress, with Congressman Curt Weldon, we came to find that the information we provided to the 9/11 Commission had never got to the commissioners. Subsequent to that being discovered, Congressman Weldon and his staff did additional research, and we came to find there was a significant amount of information that was totally deleted or not provided to the actual commissioners.

S. O'BRIEN: But the 9/11 commissioners did their report a while back.

SHAFFER: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: I mean, why isn't this six months ago, even earlier than that? Why now?

SHAFFER: Well, I understand. I can't address the report, other than I know I provided information to Mr. Zelicow (ph) in Bagram of October of '03. That information was significant in the fact that in their 12 August statement, they talk about that he called back immediately, requesting more information. I was asked to talk to him in January of '03, where I called his office -- I mean January '04, where I called his office, and they changed their mind about talking to me. S. O'BRIEN: Well, I'm -- forgive me for a moment.

SHAFFER: Go ahead.

S. O'BRIEN: I want to kind of walk through this slowly and clearly.

SHAFFER: Sure.

S. O'BRIEN: You sort of are pointing out that things were mired and bogged down in dates. But when this was not part of the 9/11 Commission's report, why didn't you say, "This is ridiculous, I must go public now, because there was a crucial drop in information, someone dropped the ball, I need to tell the American public?" Why not do that?

SHAFFER: Right. There were two reasons.

To be totally honest with you, we believed that there may have been a classified annex. Not being on the commission, not being -- not working at that level, I had no way of knowing. I had to believe that there must have been some reason that that information was not provided to the public, either by follow-on information -- operations of some sort that related to this or something else.

S. O'BRIEN: OK. That explains it for me, then, at least. You've claimed that this is information that you had about a terrorist a full year before 9/11.

SHAFFER: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: Mohamed Atta, who was obviously part of this team of hijackers. Where did this information that he was a terrorist linked to al Qaeda, where did this come from that you had that nobody else in the security branch, as far as we can tell, had that information?

SHAFFER: I didn't have the information. I was part of the task force which supported Able Danger.

What I did was I married the land information warfare activity, LIMA, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, an Army unit, Army capability, to the special operations command for the purposes of this exercise, this targeting exercise of al Qaeda. What the LIWA did -- and it was their ability to go through massive amounts of open-source data, 2.5 terabytes, and look for patterns that related to previously-known terrorists. It was that information then which popped up...

S. O'BRIEN: So, by trolling the Internet and LexusNexus, things like that, I think that's what you mean by open source data? Am I right about that?

SHAFFER: Open source -- anything that's not a classified database. We're talking about commercial databases, financial databases. Anything that's out there that relates to the real world.

And let me be specific on this. S. O'BRIEN: And his name pops up?

SHAFFER: Well, yes, because terrorists live in the real world. As we recognize from the London bombings, there's a picture of the terrorist in a whitewater rafting trip. They live in the real world just like we do. They plan in the real world.

S. O'BRIEN: What were those documents that -- give me a sense of what kinds of documents targeted Mohamed Atta a year before 9/11 as a potential terrorist.

SHAFFER: For a couple of different reasons, I'm not going -- I'm not going to get into very specifics for this, because, again, we're trying to figure out a way that we can continue to do this. And I don't want to give away anything that someone can use against us.

S. O'BRIEN: But it's open sourcing, right? I mean, so it would be available to anyone.

SHAFFER: The sourcing, I've covered the sourcing, which is essentially open source. Now, how we arrayed that and how we use the technology -- you know, first off, I'm not the technician. I'm an intelligence officer relating to human intelligence. I was one of the folks who was the -- one of the managers in the process.

What the process actually did, though, was take this information, using advanced algorithms, looking for patterns, and it popped up this information based on all the information that was available on the open source -- out of open source systems on these individuals.

S. O'BRIEN: The 9/11 commissioners says they don't recall Mohamed Atta's name coming up in their discussion. They also say that his name does not appear in any of the briefings they had before they filed their report.

SHAFFER: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: Are they -- are they -- you say you've talked to them specifically with that name. Are they lying?

SHAFFER: I can't -- I can't answer that question. What I know is that their statement on the 12th of August is wrong.

I never mentioned anything about a human asset network being turned off by the (INAUDIBLE). That's one of their statements that they claim I made. I never said that.

And the other thing they say that I said was that I talked about Able Danger being a project in Afghanistan. I never said that.

So if they got those two points wrong, I don't know what else they got wrong. The only thing they got right, basically, was that -- that there was information about this network that related to the fact that they were interested in it. And they -- Mr. Zelicow's (ph) own admission, the next paragraph of their 12 August statement, says they called back immediately after talking to me, which would mean they heard something that I said which resonated.

The other thing is Mr. Zelicow (ph) himself gave me his card and asked me to contact him upon my return from the deployment. And I did contact him in January of '04. That's where I was essentially blown off.

I called him. They said they wanted to talk to me. I waited a week, called him back. And they said, "No, we don't need to talk to you now."

Now, Soledad, I'm sorry. I forgot your first part of the question you asked before.

S. O'BRIEN: You know, we're actually kind of running out of time.

SHAFFER: OK.

S. O'BRIEN: But I was essentially asking you if they were lying, which is sort of a yes or no answer there.

SHAFFER: I can't -- I'm just letting you know what I -- what I said. I said, specifically, that we, as through the Able Danger process, discovered two of the three cells which conducted 9/11, to include Atta. Now -- and I -- that was, to me, significant, in that they actually pulled me aside after the meeting and said, "Please come talk to us and give us more details."

Now, back to the information that DOD passed to them. DOD passed two containers, approximately briefcase-sized containers over to them in the February-March time frame of '04. That is not one-twentieth of the information which was available out there on Able Danger and the project.

And plus, they asked DIA for it. It was not a DIA project. And I think they asked the wrong questions of DOD in some cases. And I know for a fact right not DOD is trying to get to the bottom of this.

I spoke with DOD leadership yesterday. They are working hard to come to the bottom -- come to terms with what the facts are.

S. O'BRIEN: And I know the Pentagon obviously investigating your claims, along with many other people as well.

SHAFFER: Yes, absolutely.

S. O'BRIEN: And lots of twists and turns, but essentially, I think I understand what you're claiming now.

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer joining us this morning.

Thanks for your time.

SHAFFER: Thank you, ma'am.

M. O'BRIEN: Still to come on the program, can Israel's withdrawal from Gaza finally bring peace to the region? We'll meet two young people, an Israeli and a Palestinian, who work together to end the violence.

Stay with us for more AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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