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Judging Miers; Videotaped Beating; Quake Toll Climbs; New Hampshire Floods; U.S. Quake Aid

Aired October 10, 2005 - 06:59   ET


The search for survivors in Pakistan as the death toll tops 30,000 after Saturday's powerful earthquake. Tens of thousands injured. Entire villages flattened. We're live in the region.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Costello in for Soledad.

Caught on tape, three New Orleans police officers suspended, arrested and charged following the brutal beating of a 64-year-old man.


CHIEF WARREN RILEY, ACTING NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPT.: Our officers used more than the force necessary.


COSTELLO: An exclusive interview with the New Orleans police chief about this latest trouble for his crippled police force.

O'BRIEN: And the northeast U.S. is socked by remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy. Excuse me. A foot of rain in some places, lots of flooding left behind. And the forecast is not good on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning, welcome to Monday, good to have you with us.

COSTELLO: Did you say welcome to Monday?


COSTELLO: Yes, Monday.

O'BRIEN: Isn't it Monday? It is Monday.

COSTELLO: It is Monday, everybody.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I didn't say happy Monday. I just said welcome to Monday.

COSTELLO: Well we might as well say happy Monday, because you've got to deal with it.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we're... COSTELLO: You have no choice.

O'BRIEN: ... dealing. Lots of stuff in the news and troubling stuff in the news this morning.

We begin, of course, in South Asia. President Pervez Musharraf says Pakistan can't handle the massive earthquake and needs international help. More than 30,000 people are now believed dead. The quake hit in the rugged mountains northeast of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

And the U.S. says help is arriving today, including eight badly needed helicopters. Of course when you consider the scale of this tragedy, eight helicopters is just a beginning. President Bush pledged $50 million in aid Sunday when he was briefed by Pakistani officials at the White House.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is going to be the worst national disaster in the nation's history. Thousands of people have died. Thousands are wounded. And the United States of America wants to help.

I spoke to President Musharraf. I expressed my nation's -- our nation's deepest condolences. And I told him that we want to help in any way we can. To that end, we've already started to send cash money and other equipment and goods that are going to be needed to help the people in Pakistan.


O'BRIEN: Now the Pentagon is also moving airborne reconnaissance, heavy lift ground equipment and medical equipment into the zone. We will be talking to CNN's Matthew Chance, who is in the region, very shortly -- Carol.

COSTELLO: The president is dealing with that. He's also dealing with this. His Supreme Court nominee can't seem to shake the controversy surrounding her selection. Many conservatives, even some on the Christian right, aren't sure they want to support Harriet Miers' nomination.

Suzanne Malveaux live at the White House this morning.

Good morning -- Suzanne.


Harriet Miers was in Dallas this weekend. That is where she was gathering records of really trying to bring forward her resume of accomplishments, past posts, as well as with the Dallas City Council. But of course the big question here, Carol, is whether or not Harriet Miers and the White House can convince conservatives that she does indeed deserve that position. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers was attending Sunday morning church services in Dallas; in Washington, conservatives were declaring all-out war over her nomination, directing much of their anger at the president.

PAT BUCHANAN, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Much of the conservative movement is at war with their own president.

GARY BAUER, PRES., AMER. VALUES COALITION: The problem that we have is that when you make a mistake with a Supreme Court appointment, it's a 20-year mistake.

MALVEAUX: As some conservatives ratcheted up their rhetoric, calling for Miers to withdraw her nomination, others urged their fellow Republicans to cool down, saying Miers would be faithful to Mr. Bush's agenda.

DR. RICHARD LAND, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: If someone is disloyal, if someone betrays a trust in Texas, they're right down there with child molesters and ax murderers.

REV. PAT ROBERTSON, CHRISTIAN COALITION FOUNDER: I think what the president wants is a vote that reflects his point of view. You know some of these great, brilliant scholars go off the reservation.

MALVEAUX: One of the first issues the Senate Judicial Committee will tackle is whether the White House provided anyone with information about how Miers might vote on hot button social issues, like abortion, gay marriage and the role of religion.

Conservative activist James Dobson created a stir on his Wednesday radio broadcast when, after being briefed about Miers by Mr. Bush's top political aide, Karl Rove, Dobson suggested he had special insights.

DR. JAMES DOBSON, CONSERVATIVE RADIO SHOW HOST: When you know some of the things that I know, that I probably shouldn't know, you will understand why I have said with fear and trepidation I believe Harriet Miers will be a good justice.

MALVEAUX: Since then, in meetings with Senate committee members, Miers has tried to clear up the controversy.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: So we at least start with the fact that she says she has not told anybody or assured anybody how she would vote.

MALVEAUX: But senators say they are still considering calling on Dobson and Rove to testify before their committee.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA) JUDICIARY CMTE. CHAIRMAN: If there were backroom assurances and if there are backroom deals, that's a matter that ought to be known by the Judiciary Committee and the American people.


MALVEAUX: And getting information, of course, is expected to be difficult. It's anticipated that there is going to be quite a fight ahead when it comes over releasing those documents with the White House -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So, Suzanne, is the president surprised by this?

MALVEAUX: Well, you know the White House is somewhat surprised by this backlash and the conservatives coming forward. But one of the things that happened in this process is, because it was so secret, Harriet Miers being a part of that search committee, they had to keep it from people who they would normally talk to, that being some of the conservatives who had signed on earlier on with John Roberts.

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

O'BRIEN: It's a shocking piece of videotape we're about to show you. And, parents, it's disturbing stuff, so you may want to get the kids out of the room for this. Three New Orleans police officers facing battery charges after a videotape you're about to see shows at least two of them beating a 64-year-old man accused of public intoxication.

CNN's Alina Cho is in New Orleans with more on the tape and exclusive reaction from the police chief there on what happened.

Alina, good morning.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, good morning to you.

This is not the first time the New Orleans Police Department has faced allegations of misconduct. And even the chief admits it likely will not be the last. On this matter, however, the department has launched a full criminal investigation to find out exactly what happened.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two New Orleans police officers are seen here trying to make an arrest. The suspect, 64-year-old Robert Davis. Moments later, an officer on horseback maneuvers in front of The AP photographer, blocking his view.

Then a glimpse. Davis sustains several blows to the head. His head also appears to hit the wall. Later, four men, two of them clearly identified as police, push Davis to the ground and place him in a headlock.

(on camera): Well having seen the tape, what is your reaction?

RILEY: Well, to see the tape, it's troubling.

CHO (voice-over): Police Chief Warren Riley says tapes of the incident don't show everything.

RILEY: What is obvious is that our officers used more than the force necessary.

CHO: Including this. An officer, who identifies himself as S.M. Smith (ph), pushes The AP producer, pinning him against a car. In a profanity-filled tirade, the officer says, I've been here for six weeks trying to keep myself alive. Go home.

The aftermath was caught on tape by a CNN photographer. Davis' shirt is soaked with blood. As he tries to turn over, it becomes clear he has suffered head injuries.

The suspect, Robert Davis, has been freed. He'll appear in court this week on charges, including public intoxication, battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.

Three New Orleans police officers are suspended, charged with battery.

RILEY: A few bad cops. It happens everywhere.

CHO: Since Hurricane Katrina, there have been many complaints about bad cops here, including looting by officers. One case involves a Cadillac dealership where the owner says officers made off with some of his cars.

RILEY: We had units that lost their entire fleet to the flood. And they did, in fact, commandeer some of those vehicles. We're not denying that.

CHO: The chief says the cars were used for patrols and rescues and that these are trying times.

RILEY: Where 80 percent of the city was flooded, where 80 percent of its citizens are displaced, had to be evacuated, 80 percent of the police department also lost their homes. Certainly, this is a unique situation, to say the very least.


CHO: Some have suggested that stress may have played a role in this. But, Miles, Chief Riley says, even if it did, it is not an excuse.

O'BRIEN: Alina, couldn't help but notice it was white officers versus an African-American suspect in this case. Is there much talk about that?

CHO: Not at all. In fact, I did ask the chief about this. Chief Riley said race did not play a role. It is sad, he says, that people bring this up.

What we can tell you, Miles, about the officers is that three of them will appear in court tomorrow. And depending on the outcome of those court proceedings, Chief Riley says they could face anything from a letter of reprimand to termination -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: And, Alina, one final thought here, and the point is well taken, trying times. But these are officers in that city, that part of the city, in particular, who are used to dealing with public intoxication. That is part of the scene in the French Quarter.

CHO: It certainly is. In fact, some have said that it takes a lot to provoke officers, certainly on Bourbon Street, certainly where this happened. Again, I want to remind you that Chief Riley says, Miles, this is not an excuse, but he says from time to time things like this tempers flare and things like this do happen.

O'BRIEN: CNN's Alina Cho in New Orleans, thank you very much.

Let's get back to our top story now. As we've been telling you that earthquake in South Asia over the weekend on Saturday in excess of 30,000 dead now. That death toll expected to rise. Tens of thousands injured, houses flattened, roads impassible. It's very rugged terrain and difficult to access.

CNN's Matthew Chance is on the scene. He has more for us now -- Matthew.


I'm actually in one of the most rugged and most difficult places to access of all of the areas affected by that terrible and powerful earthquake that struck, of course, early on Saturday morning in this part of the world, local time.

I'm in the town of Balakot, which, until a few days ago, was a town, which was a tourist town, happily living with 250,000 people. Who knows how many of those are left now? I can tell you that I've been here most of today, and every single building in this place has been flattened by the sheer power of this earthquake.

As a result, as you can imagine, absolute devastation. Thousands of people are camped out in the -- under the open skies, I have to say, in this pretty exposed part of the world because their homes have been destroyed. Many people have been killed. There are no exact figures about how many here.

But I think -- I've been asking a lot of the people in the town what they think. And they say that, well, you know everybody who lived in one of these houses who were, you know, big extended families of 10 to 15 people, they're saying they've all lost, you know, many members of their family. They're estimating thousands in this town alone will be dead. And there are many more towns like this up and down this valley, this most severely affected area of the earthquake -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Matthew, how did you get there?

CHANCE: Well we got there the only way you can get here which was by helicopter. The Pakistani government ferried us up here in one of the helicopters that have been coming up here to ferry away the injured that have been -- are being taken to a landing zone, a landing site near the river just in the middle of the Balakot. Many people have been ling up here to try and get the injured people out onto these choppers away to hospitals elsewhere in the country, hospitals that have not been destroyed, so they can be treated.

But the desperation, the suffering, the grief that people have, obviously been going through here has, to some extent, turned to anger as well, because people here are very angry at the Pakistani authorities. The aid effort hasn't really reached here because of the remote location of this place, because of the lack of helicopters and resources that the Pakistani military can deploy. These people in this area, which is one of the most heavily, terribly affected areas of all the earthquake area zones, are not getting the kind of assistance they need at this point simply to stay alive there, Miles. So it is a very desperate situation.

O'BRIEN: Matthew, not only is it inaccessible and rugged terrain, but it's also a disputed region, the source of ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan. Is that complicating matters?

CHANCE: Well, certainly much of the earthquake zone is that disputed region of Kashmir. And so I don't know whether it is, actually. I'm not in Pakistan-administered Kashmir at this moment. The majority of the earthquake damage has been done in that disputed territory.

But I'm just in a patch of territory, which neighbors there, in what is called the Northwestern Frontier Province. It's a very tribal area. It's very remote, as I say, but it's not actually part of that disputed territory. Because, obviously, the earthquake doesn't, you know, acknowledge any political borders. It's spread across this wide, vast area and there are parts of the disputed politically and parts aren't. But the fact is that everybody who lives there is in a desperate situation.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, Matthew Chance -- Carol.

COSTELLO: If you live in the northeast, the rain came down. New Hampshire is actually under a state of emergency this morning after some of the worst flooding there in the last quarter century. Heavy rain over the weekend washed out roads, damaged bridges and flooded homes.

Kria Sakakeeny of affiliate WMUR is live in Keene, New Hampshire.

Kria, how many people have been evacuated so far?

KRIA SAKAKEENY, WMUR-TV REPORTER: Well, Carol, we can tell you that 1,000 people have been evacuated here in Keene, which is in the western part of this state, a very popular city. And about 80 of those people did have to go to a Red Cross shelter.

Now let's take a look at some of the video, some of the areas affected. Towns really saw rivers take out small homes and businesses. In fact, witnesses told us they saw roofs and cars being swept away. In fact, in one town, rescue workers did find two 20 year olds who had drowned in their car. And in another town, two people are still missing.

Of course, the governor did declare a state of emergency here. He mobilized 500 National Guard troops, 100 of them came here to Keene. They did have to turn the electricity off for many of those people, because they say it was simply too dangerous to turn the electricity back on with all that flooding. So we have a lot of recovery to do today. And a lot of people hoping desperately to get back into their homes and to be able to stay in their homes tonight.

COSTELLO: We wish them luck.

Kria Sakakeeny of affiliate WMUR. Thank you.

So let's check the forecast. Let's head to Atlanta.

Chad, is the rain over?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is, for the most part. In the worst hit areas, Carol, yes, it's over. But wait until I show you some of these numbers, almost a foot of rain in some spots. Now there is rain just offshore. And that rain will make its way back onshore through the Jersey shore, back up into Massachusetts, but not as far north as where the reporter was, or into Vermont, in New Hampshire or even into upstate New York.

Look at some of the numbers from over the weekend here, Plainfield, Massachusetts at over 11 inches. Even Granby, Connecticut at 7.70 inches of rain, that's over a foot of rain, literally, in 48 hours. Forks Township in Pennsylvania picked up nearly a foot. Even Mountain Lake, New Jersey at over 10 inches and Morris Plains, not that far from Morristown, almost 10.


COSTELLO: You're kidding?


COSTELLO: Great. Well, people will have to make some new friends at the airport this morning then.

MYERS: Right.

COSTELLO: Thank you -- Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Still to come in the program, more on that deadly earthquake we've been telling you about. We'll look at what the big obstacles are to getting help to the victims there.

COSTELLO: Also, harsh words for former President Bill Clinton. Wait until you hear what former FBI Director Louis Freeh said about the scandals that plagued his old boss.

O'BRIEN: Plus, Dr. Gupta, a new you checkup for us. Have you followed all of your resolutions all year long?

COSTELLO: Absolutely!

O'BRIEN: Yes, sure. Anyway, that's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. We're going to check in with some of the new you people.


O'BRIEN: President Bush is promising aid to help in the aftermath of that earthquake. You see the remnants there. U.S. military officials will arrive in Pakistan today to begin coordinating U.S. resources in the region.

Let's check in now with the U.S. Ambassador of Pakistan, Ryan Crocker. He joins us on the phone from Islamabad.

Mr. Ambassador, good to have you with us. How difficult is it to get help to this region?


The extent of the devastation, as your viewers have just seen, is absolutely massive. And that has necessitated an equally strong response. We have announced an initial contribution of $50 million for relief and reconstruction and that assistance is flowing in now. Our first flight came in last night. A military airlift with blankets, water, rations.

I've just come back from the airport where I greeted another flight from USA IDs (ph), Office of Disaster Assistance, more blankets, temporary shelters, water containers. And there will be additional flights tonight and on through the week. We have a virtual air bridge established as we move ahead.

O'BRIEN: And do you...

CROCKER: We've also brought in...

O'BRIEN: It's very, very remote terrain, on a good day. Given all of the damage that has occurred, are you able to get all this help to where it is needed in a timely way?

CROCKER: Well that's the other element. We've also brought in today eight military helicopters from Afghanistan. They're in country now and we will be using them in coordination with the Pakistani government to deliver teams and relief supplies up to those areas that are not accessible any other way.

O'BRIEN: Given the scale of this disaster, 30,000 known dead now, who knows how many -- how much that death toll will grow, plus the injured, eight helicopters seems like just a beginning. How much help is needed? How much more help should the U.S. be providing here?

CROCKER: Well, a beginning is a good way to describe it. This is what we could get on the ground now. I just have been on the phone with General Ikenberry, Commander of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan who is here in Pakistan today, to consider next steps as he consults with the Pakistani military.

President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Rice, General Abizaid have all made it clear that what Pakistan needs, we will do our utmost to provide. So if an additional helicopter lift is needed, we will bring that in.

O'BRIEN: Ryan Crocker is the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. Thank you very much -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Still to come, we're "Minding Your Business." Andy has details of the biggest bankruptcy filing in U.S. automotive history. Stay with us on this AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Some bad news for the U.S. automobile industry as the largest auto parts maker in the country files for Chapter 11.

Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business" this morning.

This is bad.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: It really is. It's another blow for the U.S. auto industry, which, of course, is very, very troubled. This is the nation's largest auto parts company, and it is the biggest bankruptcy in the history of the U.S. automotive business. Of course we're talking about Delphi, which has very close ties to GM.

And Delphi is a big company. And they have 185,000 employees worldwide, about 50,000 here in North America, 45 plants. Everything is in jeopardy right now, Carol, in terms of layoffs, wage cuts, pensions are going to be slashed. This company lost nearly $5 billion last year. It was spun-off from GM in 1999. Basically, and look at the chart, I mean how...


SERWER: Unfortunately, this is familiar stuff, though, in the transportation business. I mean, airlines, auto companies and we've seen this over and over. They make nearly every part in a car. And they have -- they really make a lot of parts for GM, in particular. Gm also has a lot of financial ties to this company. So it's going to be very, very important for GM to monitor the situation. And the implications are huge here.

COSTELLO: Yes, because GM is already hurting.

SERWER: Very hurting, absolutely, so tough stuff.

COSTELLO: Thanks -- Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: Back to you -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Still to come on the program, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a new you checkup. Last time we saw Atikla (ph), Atikla Fisher (ph) that is. She was trying to get in shape to have a baby. Tiptop baby shape, you know? Eight months later, has she succeeded? We'll tell about that ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



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