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Teen War Supporter; Hussein's Defense

Aired August 22, 2005 - 09:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It is exactly half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING. Coming up, in a letter to a friend, Saddam Hussein is quoted this week as saying he's ready to be sacrificed to the Arab cause. This as his trial gets closer and closer.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Kind of the martyr act there. The first case against Saddam stems from a massacre of Shiite villagers in 1982, but many more charges could come after that, of course. We'll talk to the former dictator's legal adviser about it all and how that defense is shaping up.

S. O'BRIEN: Or not shaping up, as the case may actually be.

M. O'BRIEN: As the case might be, yes, exactly.

Yes, let's get a check of the headlines, though. Carol Costello here with that.

Good morning, Carol.


And we start in Iraq. Iraqi leaders have less than seven hours to hammer out a new constitution. If the draft is not ready, the national assembly might have to extend the deadline yet again. If they don't come up with a constitution, and the deadline is not extended, the government may be forced to dissolve.

New details about that airliner that crashed near Athens, Greece earlier this month. Investigators say the plane lost cabin pressure and ran out of fuel before smashing into a mountain and killing all 121 people onboard. That's according to a preliminary report. It was released earlier this morning. There are also indications that a man in the cockpit had tried to issue mayday calls, but they were apparently sent on a wrong frequency.

Israeli soldiers evacuating the final settlement in Gaza. There are some protesters, but most settlers have promised to leave Netzarim peacefully. There's hope the pullout from Gaza and some small West Bank settlements will revive the stalled Mideast peace process.

And a possible breakthrough in stem call research. Harvard scientists say they have turned ordinary skin cells in what appear to be embryonic stem cells. The research is still preliminary, but it could lead to the creation of stem cells, without having to destroy human embryos. More details on the findings are set to be released today. Some of the information can be found on the Web site of "Science" magazine.

And a tanker truck explosion in Pennsylvania. In fact, we're just getting these picture in, and they're live. I'm seeing these for the first time along with you. It's from WTXF, our CNN affiliate. The tanker truck is ablaze on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. A tractor trailer overturned. It exploded this morning on the eastbound Pennsylvania turnpike ramp to the northbound northeast extension. Black smoke can be seen for miles. It is not clear what the tanker was carrying. The condition of the truck driver is not known, either.

What part of Pennsylvania? What part of Pennsylvania is this? Do we know? South of Scranton. So if you're headed that way, expect delays. And as you can see, they're putting foam on it, which means there's something explosive perhaps inside of that tanker truck. When we get more information, of course we'll pass it along to you.

Nasty pictures this morning, and probably not a pleasant ride for commuters. We hope the truck driver is OK.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, of course. Carol, thanks.

Well, President Bush is trying to drum up support for the war in Iraq today. He's speaking to a veterans group in Utah. Meanwhile, antiwar protesters are still camped out near the president's Crawford ranch, and so are a number of supporters.

White House correspondent Dana Bash caught up with one young woman who's standing up for the president.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighteen-year-old Bethany Berry stands at the side of the road every day now with a simple message. My father is serving in Iraq. I support him and the troops and my neighbor, George Bush.

BETHANY BERRY, FATHER IN IRAQ: I pay attention to the media, and I read stuff online. And I think that his plan to stay the course is the right plan.

BASH: Bethany's dad is Chaplain Kent Berry, a Crawford pastor ministering to soldiers in Iraq for nearly a year. We've been following his story since before he left.

(on camera): Are you scared?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, well, you know, it's scary, yes.

BASH (voice-over): He was apprehensive, but supportive of the mission. Now from Iraq, he's watching the protests Cindy Sheehan started in his hometown. "My heart certainly goes out to her," he writes of Sheehan in an e-mail. "We lost four soldiers last week, and that drives all of this very close to home. Our efforts here are made all the more significant and forever binding because of their personal sacrifice." His wife, Vicki, and children live a normal life as best they can. In Crawford, that means coming out to support the football state champs. She understands a grieving mother's pain, but does not think her husband and other troops should be withdrawn now.

VICKI BERRY, HUSBAND IN IRAQ: I've really been proud of my daughter Bethany and, you know, and wanting to go and make a positive stand for President Bush.

BASH: He's in a war zone, but Chaplain Berry reacts to Bethany's activism like a typical worried father.

B. BERRY: He's very protective of me, and he doesn't want anything bad happening.

BASH: Last year, Bethany told us she was upset her dad would miss her high school senior year.

B. BERRY: I don't want him to go, because I want him there for those memories.

BASH: Now?

B. BERRY: Life goes on, and it gets easier. I mean, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him.

BASH: And to honor her dad, she'll be right here holding her sign.

B. BERRY: I'll keep coming out here as long as it takes just to get, you know, for them to see my message. They've got their freedom of speech their and right to protest, but so do I.

BASH: Dana Bash, CNN, Crawford, Texas.


S. O'BRIEN: Today President Bush is trying to rally support for the war. He's speaking at the VFW Convention in Salt Bake City. And you'll want to stay tuned for live coverage of that, right here on CNN on 1:35 p.m. Eastern Time -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: In a letter written to a friend, Saddam Hussein says he is prepared to sacrifice himself for the Arab cause. Two Jordanian newspapers published the letter, which was delivered and authenticated by the Red Cross. Saddam is in jail awaiting trial on charges connected to a 1982 series of detentions and executions, following an assassination attempt against him.

Abdel Haq Al-Ani is legal adviser to Saddam's eldest daughter and works closely with Hussein's new lawyer. I asked him when a trial date might be set.


ABDEL HAQ AL-ANI, HUSSEIN DAUGHTER'S ADVISER: I don't know. I don't think anybody knows, because everything is done in secret. The investigators never tell us what's going to happen. The court has not informed anybody. The accused has never received a single proper formal document of charges, so nobody really knows.

M. O'BRIEN: The fact that the country is embroiled in a debate over a constitution, do you think that has something to do with how the trial will play out? In other words, will there be a trial as long as there's still a discussion about a constitution?

AL-ANI: Well, I don't think the question of trial is really related to the government or the constitution. It's a political trial. It's at the hand of the Americans first and foremost. I think it awaits a political decision in Washington, whether he should be put on trial or not. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a political settlement that would avoid a trial eventually.

M. O'BRIEN: Do you really think that's likely, that there will be a plea bargain, essentially, for Saddam Hussein?

AL-ANI: Oh, yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Really?

AL-ANI: Of course. Don't just think so. I know there is ongoing legal negotiation on such basis at the moment.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. The leader of the leader of the current defense team has met recently with Saddam Hussein. How have those meetings gone, and do you have a sense as to what specific charges will be levied whenever this trial occurs?

AL-ANI: Well, there seems to be three separate charges at the moment in the investigation. But I don't any of them has been completed formally or properly. We take the view that none of them is legitimate to start with, because the accused has never had proper legal advice, on one hand. And secondly, no one knows the capability of the judges or the competence, whether they are entitled to be judges in the first place, because we haven't seen a single investigating judge. For all I know, they're not even judges.

M. O'BRIEN: When you say he hasn't received proper legal advice, you're on the legal team. Whose fault is that?

AL-ANI: Well, it's American's fault, because first and foremost, the court has refused every application to let him be interviewed by international lawyers.

Secondly, he's never been seen by Mr. Delaney privately. Whenever he's interviewed, there's an American officer present. And no document exchanges hands without the American office having access to it. Whatever happened to the principle of confidentially in common law that prevails in the United States?

M. O'BRIEN: Mr. Haq Al-Ani, last we saw Saddam Hussein in court, he was defiant, and you have the sense that he is very conversant with his own defense. Is he going to, in essence, defend himself? I don't think so. I don't think he's competent to defend himself. This is a very complex tribunal the like of which you've never seen before. He's entitled to receive proper international legal advise from international lawyers familiar with international, humanitarian and criminal law. We haven't got any lawyer like that in Iraq. And we made an application for him to him to receive such from prominent U.K. lawyers. This application has not been granted yet.

AL-ANI: Thank you for you're time, Abdel Haq Al-Ani is legal adviser to Hussein's eldest daughter. We appreciate your time.



M. O'BRIEN: Still to come on the program -- it was meant to be a gesture of gratitude by Northwest Airlines. Now striking mechanics are using discount cards to fast food restaurants to make their point.

We'll explain that one.

S. O'BRIEN: And it is curtains for a popular HBO series. "Six Feet Under" signs off for the last time. We're talking about the season finale with the "90 Second Pop" panel just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: Some northwest employees are upset with a company gesture of thanks. Was it thanks, really? We'll find out.

Ali Velshi, who is in for Andy Serwer.

And for appearing this week, we have some vouchers for you.



And this is what happened.

Northwest, as you know, the union that's on strike is the mechanics union, but they represent mechanics and cleaners and custodians. Well, on Friday as part of a gesture, one thinks, of good will, at least one manager was giving out vouchers, $3 vouchers to Northwest cleaners.

Now, part of the problem is that there are 800 cleaners employed by Northwest, and Northwest would like to get rid of 770 of them. So, it was the last shift on Friday before the strike. Everybody kind of knew they were going on strike. And some of these workers have taken this as a slap in the face -- $3 vouchers to eat at some of the fast food places at the airport. So at least one of them has posted, you know, enlarged it and stuck it on to their signs.

M. O'BRIEN: So it kind of fell flat. If there were good intentions there... VELSHI: It didn't go the right way.

M. O'BRIEN: It certainly didn't, given the fact that all but 30 of them would be gone.

VELSHI: Yes. And there's just a lot of bad blood right now between Northwest and the union.

M. O'BRIEN: And you can imagine with 30 cleaners left, obviously you're going to have to outsource, have the flight attendants do it, something else.

VELSHI: Right.

And that's what Northwest has been working on for a year and a half. And now the stock has opened down again after, you know, having a rough week. So at the open today, there are some questions about what's going to happen. Merck, on the other hand, up.

M. O'BRIEN: Go figure.


M. O'BRIEN: I mean, because everybody presumed there would be this big settlement?


VELSHI: I should actually just correct this. Merck is down about 3 percent. It was up -- it was down 8 percent after the close on Friday and down a little bit more on this.

But there's some thought that Merck might decide, as you were talking about earlier, to settle these cases as they go forward.

The market is looking a little better, as you just saw.

M. O'BRIEN: With 4,000 cases lined up, I suspect they've got to think about their strategy.

VELSHI: They have to rethink it.

M. O'BRIEN: Ali Velshi, thank you.

VELSHI: See you, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: "CNN Live" is coming up next.

Daryn, what are you working on this morning?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We got a lot for you, Soledad.

At the top of the hour, big health news. Researchers say they have found a way to create useful stem cells without having to destroy human embryos. It's a potential breakthrough, or is it more fuel for the debate?

Also in our gas price watch, prices at the pump set a record again this morning. So what if your company would pay you not to drive to work? That's what some companies are doing. We'll explain, coming up.

S. O'BRIEN: Can we do that? Can we get in on that?

KAGAN: It doesn't count if you take the subway.


S. O'BRIEN: You know I don't take the subway that early in the morning, but, you know, you could stay in bed and do the show. Wouldn't that be nice?

KAGAN: Jammies.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

KAGAN: Works for me.

S. O'BRIEN: I like that.

Daryn, thanks. We'll see you at the top of the hour.

Still ahead, "90 Second Pop." The two finalists from "Dancing With the Stars" will give it another spin. We'll tell you why just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Are they really dancing to this song?


Good morning and welcome. It's time for Monday's episode of "90 Second Pop."

Starring this morning, author and journalist, Danyel Smith.

Nice to see you, Danyel, good morning.

Andy Borowitz from, and Jessica Shaw from "Entertainment Weekly."

Nice to have you all. Good morning.

Our camera just found you, there we go.



We were watching pictures, of course, of the lovely Kelly Monaco (ph) dancing the night away with her -- or dancing the contest away, we should say. And now, even though she won "Dancing With the Stars" -- look, the victory. They're so happy.


S. O'BRIEN: They were, and now she's got to do it again. It's a dance off.

JESSICA SHAW, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": Yes, she had to open her big mouth. When some journalist, you know, questioned her about it, she said, "Fine, I'll do a dance off, bring it on."

And there was a big scandal about the show. People thought that she should not have won; that John O'Hurley (ph), who is Jay Peterman (ph) from the "Seinfeld" show, much better, much more funny and...


O'BRIEN: But he doesn't have a soap on ABC.

SHAW: Right. That was -- there were allegations made that perhaps Kelly Monaco won because this show is on -- was on ABC and she, of course, is on "General Hospital," also on ABC.

So there's going to be a dance off. It's going to be down to the two of them all over again.

S. O'BRIEN: All victory for everybody really, because at the end of the day the show did so well and ABC gets to kind of relive it and anybody who was even slightly interested will watch.

SHAW: Right.

BOROWITZ: It's a victory for us because personally, I just want closure.


I don't know if you feel that way. I think most Americans do.

S. O'BRIEN: In all seriousness, John Hurley is mad.

DANYEL SMITH, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: I think ABC should stand by their winner. I do.

S. O'BRIEN: You do.

SMITH: I do. I feel like we should absolutely say she won, she's the winner.

S. O'BRIEN: It's insulting to her.

SMITH: I mean, if it's insulting to her or not, ABC should just be like, "She won. This is who we chose. There was nothing untoward going on."

(CROSSTALK) SHAW: But you know what? They're not going to be like that, because they're like, how could we make a little more (inaudible) money?


S. O'BRIEN: This is why Jessica's going to be the executive at ABC one day, Danyel, and you will not.


BOROWITZ: Only one person can restore credibility to this show, Paula Abdul.


S. O'BRIEN: Let's move on and talk about "Six Feet Under."

I love -- loved, I should say, because it's done.

How was the season finale?

BOROWITZ: Well, I think judging from -- we were talking about it. I think everyone was blown away by it. If you like death, you loved last night's show.


S. O'BRIEN: Everybody died?

BOROWITZ: More people died in last night's show than in the entire run of "The Sopranos."



SHAW: You didn't watch?



BOROWITZ: ... fast forward at the end...


SHAW: ... wake up?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

BOROWITZ: Yes, they all -- we saw how everybody -- and you said you were in tears?

SHAW: I was.

S. O'BRIEN: Who died? It ran already. You can fill me in. We're not giving away any secrets.


BOROWITZ: Yes. This is not like J.R. or something. This is basically everybody died, because everybody does die.


SHAW: Pretty much the show ended and then there was kind of a postscript and you saw how all of the main characters would die down the line in like 2080 kind of thing. But it was beautifully, beautifully done.

S. O'BRIEN: You know, sometimes the finales are bad. You know, they wrap up and you're just like, oh wow, they should just have kept going because it was so disappointing.

And this was a good one. That's nice.


SMITH: Surging drama, like tears, crying, like...

S. O'BRIEN: I love that show.

SMITH: Amazing.

BOROWITZ: The one thing I'm going to miss about the show is the way they would have a character die at the beginning of each show.

I would like to see that on other shows like "American Idol."


I think that would be great. I would love to see that. Maybe they can continue that.

S. O'BRIEN: Morbid, but it might work. (Inaudible) spin it some way.

Weekend box office -- Danyel, why don't you tackle that one for us? "40-Year-Old Virgin" -- was it funny? It looks funny.

SMITH: "40-Year-Old Virgin" -- I just saw it last night in a packed theater here in Manhattan. Everybody was doing everything but rolling on the floor with laughter.

S. O'BRIEN: Was it the right audience? Because, you know, I'm not sure you're the target audience for "40-Year-Old Virgin."

SMITH: I kind of am, I think. And we really...

S. O'BRIEN: You're a 14-year-old boy?


SMITH: On some nights.

SHAW: Or are you a virgin?

SMITH: No, but really it was like two movies in one though. It was like the first hour, it's all frat boy humor, nasty, vomit, sexy jokes, and then the last hour is a romantic comedy.

BOROWITZ: All right. So I'll just go to the first hour.


SHAW: And I'll go to the last.

SMITH: And everybody walks out holding hands at the end. So it was a great night and everybody was just really, really cracking up.

S. O'BRIEN: That's good.

SMITH: But I can also say though, too, it's a slow weekend for movies at the box office.

S. O'BRIEN: Not a lot of competition.

SMITH: Yes. Not a lot of competition out there at all.

S. O'BRIEN: Worth seeing if you've got nothing else to do.

BOROWITZ: That is a ringing endorsement.


SMITH: Everybody rush out.

SHAW: You know, I do think that chest waxing scene -- that's going to go down as though one of the great comedy moments like in "Something About Mary" with her hair gel.



SMITH: They did it in real time. They did not fake it. They really pulled the hair out of his chest. So he was totally rosy and red and screaming and cursing in pain.

BOROWITZ: And Steve Carell is hilarious.


S. O'BRIEN: I want to see that. I guess I'm not a 14-year-old boy, either.


SMITH: Pretty eyes, also.

S. O'BRIEN: And he's not bad to look at.


Danyel, giving the icing on the cake of the endorsement for the movie.

You guys, we're out of time.

Thank you as always, Danyel and Andy and Jessica, for joining us.


M. O'BRIEN: "CNN LIVE TODAY" is up next.

And tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING, some of our special series. School days -- want to make sure your kids aren't stretched thin by schoolwork and other activities? It's easy to overbook the little nippers there.

We'll have tips for parents tomorrow morning, 7:00 Eastern.

We're back in a moment.


S. O'BRIEN: Remember we showed you some of these pictures last week? It's because it's so beautiful. They were doing the tango. We were telling you about this gigantic tango competition being held in Buenos Aires, in Argentina, the third annual world tango championship. Well, guess what? It's over. Eight hundred couples took part.


This is good news. I want to tell you about the winners.

The judges evaluated the costumes, the overall effect, of course the moves -- very smooth and sexy. And the two to tango their way to the top prize are a couple from Argentina. They won $1,700 -- not so much money --and two-month contract to dance in Japan.

Congratulations, you get to work.

We're going to take a closer look at the tango competition tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING when Miles struts his stuff...


S. O'BRIEN: ... in a cute little dress. No, I'm kidding.


KAGAN: No. Oh God, no.


M. O'BRIEN: I need a rose in my teeth, you know? It's clearly a vertical expression of a horizontal thought, isn't it? When you look at that, it is barely family programming.


S. O'BRIEN: It's nice. I love it.


S. O'BRIEN: So we have some winners.

M. O'BRIEN: That is all the time we have for AMERICAN MORNING.

For all you Valentinos out there, Daryn Kagan is at the CNN Center to take you through the next few hours.

"CNN LIVE TODAY" up next.


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