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AMERICAN MORNING

New Orleans Mayor Encourages Evacuees to Return to City; Who Outed Valerie Plame?

Aired October 14, 2005 - 08:30   ET

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


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, a lot of people don't know it, but we get here at 4:00 in the morning and do the entire show in rehearsal just to get it right, right?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Just a run-through. It's not really rehearsing.

M. O'BRIEN: It's a coaching...

S. O'BRIEN: It's more like coaching, or is it staging?

M. O'BRIEN: I am being a little tongue-in-cheek.

S. O'BRIEN: You're mocking the president's back and forth, Q & A with the troops, U.S. troops in Tikrit yesterday, because, of course, no one's really talking about what came out of that Q & A. They're talking about the stagecraft that went into the Q & A.

M. O'BRIEN: These things happen. Of course, you know, no one's surprised there is stagecraft when it comes to, you know, presidents. I mean, think of Ronald Reagan. He sort of brought to high art. And this is, I guess, what happens as...

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Is anything spontaneous in politics, really? I don't think so.

M. O'BRIEN: Geez. Dennis Kucinich, maybe? I don't know.

S. O'BRIEN: I think that's what they're trying avoid, spontaneity. But I think when look specifically at what was coached -- you know, when you look for the word to describe it, you can see it.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Alison Barber Deputy (ph), assistant secretary said -- here's the part I like. OK, so let's work on that answer a little bit, Captain Kennedy. Why don't you work on -- we're working with the Iraqi soldiers and to my right is Master Sergeant. And then a little later, she says, you know, a few smiles wouldn't hurt back here on the TV. A few smiles.

COSTELLO: Well, the funny part was is they were all smiling as the president spoke to them.

M. O'BRIEN: They received their orders, they snapped their heels, and they did as they were told, didn't they? But here's the thing, though. The truth be told, if they were not coached, they would have said things that the administration would have liked to hear, I'm convinced. Because they are -- you know, these troops are gung ho about their mission. And so it's a shame that they have cast this cloud, I think.

S. O'BRIEN: It's all stagecraft.

(NEWSBREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: New Orleans now, and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin trying to encourage Katrina evacuees to come back to the city. AMERICAN MORNING'S Alina Cho spoke with him in Baker, Louisiana.

Hey, Alina. Good morning to you. What'd he have to say?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he expressed a lot of hope, Soledad. You know, Mayor Nagin has not spent a lot of time recently talking to reporters. But we were lucky enough to catch up with him at a FEMA trailer park in Baker, Louisiana, yesterday, and he talked about his assessment of the state of the city.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: The lights are back on. The water's been pumped out of the city. But it's far from operational. What are you going to do to get the people back to New Orleans?

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: Well, you know, we've done a phased re-entry plan that basically targets the repopulation in certain areas of the city that were -- that either did not flood or flooded a little bit.

CHO: What do you tell people who are frustrated that they can't come back, they want jobs and they want their homes back?

NAGIN: I'm telling that we can't solve all their problems at once. Was this a Category 4 or 5 storm that hit New Orleans, put 80 percent of it underwater, and it's going to take some time for us to repair it.

CHO: To the skeptics who say New Orleans is going to be a long time before things are back on track, you say what?

NAGIN: Well, you know, I think it's going to take some time, but I think that in the short run, we can repopulate the city to 250, 300,000, whatever the right number is. Then before we know it, we'll be back. We'll be a larger city than we were before Katrina hit.

CHO: And having been here today, visiting the people here in the trailers, what do you make of it?

NAGIN: You know what? I still see a lot of stress, I still see a lot of strain. But I also see a little glimmer of hope and that things will get better.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: But the mayor admits that will take time. Case in point, many areas of the city, including the Lower Ninth Ward, still have no power, no running water. Only limited amounts of restaurants have opened in the city, and there is only limited bus service. The good news, though, Soledad, is that 911 is fully operational and the postal service has resumed in many parts of the city.

S. O'BRIEN: Alina, do you get that same glimmer of hope that the mayor talked about? Do you get the sense that the evacuees you've been talking to are actually going to go back to New Orleans?

CHO: Well, as you know, Soledad, I did spend the day at a couple of shelters yesterday. And, yes, I do get that sense. Most, if not all of the people we spoke to said they fully intend to come back to New Orleans. But when you look long-term, it is entirely possible that they will find jobs and settle elsewhere. So long-term, it is possible they will change their mind. But, of course, the mayor hopes everyone will come back.

S. O'BRIEN: Alina Cho in New Orleans for us this morning. Alina, thanks.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: So who outed CIA agent Valerie Plame? That is the question which launched a grand jury investigation. But things have gotten much more complicated along the way. And really now, the focus might be on whether people involved and focused -- the focus of that investigation have been telling the truth all along.

Jonathan Turley is a professor of law at George Washington University. He joins us this morning on this morning. Karl Rove will return to that grand jury for the fourth time. Jonathan, good to have you back with us.

JONATHAN TURLEY, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Good morning.

M. O'BRIEN: Why would Karl Rove need to testify four times?

TURLEY: Well, you know, testifying in a grand jury is always a precarious thing to do. Your chances of being indicted, if you are a potential target, go up dramatically once you testify.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, you and I wouldn't testify. We just -- we'd plead the fifth, wouldn't we? If we were the focus.

TURLEY: That's right. Most people, and most attorneys like myself who do criminal work will stand in front of the door before you let your client go in. Rove didn't that have that really -- that opportunity. Because if he were to refuse to answer questions, he would likely end his career at the White House.

But once you start to testify, you're in for a penny or a pound. I mean, you -- once you testify, you've got to keep on coming back to make sure that none of your questions can be viewed inaccurate or ambiguous or misleading. Because any inaccuracy, any false statement, can be charged individually as a criminal count. That's the risk when you go before a grand jury.

M. O'BRIEN: So we're talking about potentially perjury charges. Obstruction of justice, that kind of thing. These are always the charges that bring people down, aren't they?

TURLEY: Well, they are. That's the great irony, Miles. In Washington, D.C., the really big animals that come down in these things fall from infection, not from the original wound. You know, these scandals start with a criminal allegation, but more often, these people end up being indicted for their response to the scandal, making a false statement to an investigator or to a grand jury or obstructing justice or engaging conspiracy. Those are the types of collateral charges that prosecutors more often end up using against high-profile targets in D.C.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Well, let's remember, of course, Al Capone went to jail for tax evasion. It's not always the main event that puts people in trouble with the law. What are the chances, at this point -- you know, I think this thing has waxed and waned, when you start...

M. O'BRIEN: Al Capone went to jail for tax evasion. It's not always the main event that puts people in trouble with the law. What are the chances, at this point, you know, I think this thing is waxed and waned when you start pulsing the conventional wisdom. What are the chances there'll be an indictment?

TURLEY: Boy, that's hard. You have to be a legal weatherman. We have a flurry of subpoenas, and I'm not too sure, quite frankly. What we have here is the original scandal was started on -- potential violation of a law that says you cannot reveal the identity of a covert operative, but that was very difficult to prove. And so really most of the focus is on things like conspiracy. The prosecutor seems to be looking at the notes of people like Judith Miller to see when the first phone calls were made to essentially out this person, this wife of a critic of the administration. And the prosecutor seems to be interested in whether that began before columnist Novak, Bob Novak, revealed her name in one of his columns.

M. O'BRIEN: And that would be crucial if that started beforehand. Let's finish up here on Judith Miller. I've been scratching my head on this one. I cannot quite figure out why she went to jail. I can't come up with an explanation. "The New York Times" has not been forthcoming to this moment on what the story is all about. How do you think this one is going to play out?

TURLEY: You know, I wrote a column supporting Miller, but I have to tell you, I now do not see why she went to jail. Other reporters got the same waiver that she got from the attorneys of Mr. Libby, and they accepted that waiver as they should. It was a valid waiver. She was the only one who refused. Most of us assumed that she was protecting somebody other than Libby. Libby's lawyers said they were floored when they found out that she claiming to protect their client. I think now the evidence indicates that she didn't have to go to jail, which has a lot of people are scratching their heads.

M. O'BRIEN: Is it about a book deal?

TURLEY: I don't know. But we now have a play without any redeeming characters. I mean, everyone in this play now seems conflicted and suspicious in their activities.

M. O'BRIEN: Professor Jonathan Turley, Esquire, thank you for joining us, as always -- Soledad.

TURLEY: Thanks, Miles.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, a look at business news ahead. You know the new bankruptcy law, well now credit counseling is coming under fire. Andy's going to explain why as he minds your business.

M. O'BRIEN: And let's check in with the cheaper-by-the-dozen- and-a-half group. There is a Christmas card! Somebody snap a shot! We got everybody. One of them is a little bit cranky. But that's bound to happen when you've got 16 kids! And want some more!

S. O'BRIEN: She gave birth on Tuesday. We're going to talk to the Duggar family just ahead this morning.

A short break. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Congratulations are in order to the couple who had a baby girl on Tuesday. They're first baby girl.

M. O'BRIEN: Not that they...

S. O'BRIEN: In eight years! Because they have now 16 children with the birth of little baby Joanna. Congratulations are in order for Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. They join us with all 16 of their kids.

Good morning. Nice to see you guys. Welcome.

FAMILY: Good morning.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, boy. You know what, I got to tell you, can you guys pull out so we can see this? Everybody is so calm. Look at those, 16 kids!

M. O'BRIEN: So well-behaved. I'm so proud of them. Good kids.

S. O'BRIEN: What are you guys thinking about? Sixteen kids is a lot by anybody's standards, you know?

MICHELLE DUGGAR, MOTHER OF 16 CHILDREN: We believe that each one of these children are a blessing from the Lord. Children are a gift, and we're enjoying every one of them. We are just so thankful.

S. O'BRIEN: They're all very well behaved and very cute. Is there like a system? I got four. I've got a system. What is the system when you have 16 kids? How do you lay it out so that it works?

M. DUGGAR: Well, we work together as a team. As the older ones were young, we just -- we had a system. We had a schedule, and we just worked together as a team, and as they've gotten older we just seems to have gotten easier in a lot of ways. The younger ones love the older ones, and they love to follow them around, and they want to be like them, and the older ones enjoy playing with the younger children.

M. O'BRIEN: Look at the chores.

M. DUGGAR: You assign everybody chores, right, Michelle and Jim Bob? And I know that you've assigned, like, buddies; you've got a buddy system going. Tell me about that. That seems pretty smart.

M. DUGGAR: Yes, it is great, the buddy system. This house would not work if we didn't have the buddy system. The older children mentor the younger ones. They help them with their little phonics lessons and games during the day, help them practice their music lessons. They will play with them or help them pick out the color of their outfit that they want to wear that day, and just all of those types of things.

S. O'BRIEN: It seems to be running very smoothly. We should mention that we are looking at this videotape from the Discovery Health Channel that is doing a story on you. Right, you are in a pretty small house. You only have two bathrooms.

M. O'BRIEN: Two bathrooms, how do you do that?

JIM BOB DUGGAR, FATHER OF 16 CHILDREN: We learn to share.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow!

M. DUGGAR: And the little ones that are potty training, they really learn how to hold it in.

J. DUGGAR: Yes. That's right.

But we are in the process of building a 7,000 square foot house, and it's going to have four washers, four dryers, nine bathrooms, a big boys dormitory room, a big girls dormitory room, and just a lot more space for everybody.

S. O'BRIEN: You're homeschooling everybody, too, is that right? M. DUGGAR: Yes, we have really enjoyed that. For our family, it has been something that has caused our family to just be very close and a very close unity. So we enjoy learning the same things at the same time. Of course, we have individual studies in the morning, where we do math, English and spelling. And then we have lunch, break for lunch, and then we go back and do history, and science and law together, and then we do our music lessons, piano and violin after that. So we have a very busy day.

S. O'BRIEN: You have a busy day on so many levels. It's not even funny. Now Joshua is the oldest. He is 17. Can you introduce us to everybody else?

M. O'BRIEN: It is all J's. Why is it all J's?

M. DUGGAR: It actually just kind of happened that way. We started out with Joshua, then we had twins. And we named them after family members, with 'J' names. And then after that, we thought, well, if we only have one more, we don't want to leave that one out and make them feel like they have a different beginning letter, and so we just kind of stuck with the 'J' names, the 'J' letters.

M. O'BRIEN: So are you going to introduce us? Tell us who's who.

M. DUGGAR: Yes, OK.

You want to do that, dad?

J. DUGGAR: Yes, we have Josh and John, we have Janet and Jill, then Jessa (ph) and Jinger (ph), and then we have Joseph and Josiah (ph), Julianna (ph), and then we have Jeremiah and Jebediah (ph), another set of twins, and Jason, James, Justin, and Jackson is back here, and Johanna.

S. O'BRIEN: Who's brand new.

Now, Jim Bob, do you mix people up? Because my dad -- I'm one of six -- my dad mixes us up all the time, like he's run through everybody's name before he got to my name. Do you mess them up all the time?

She's nodding yes!

J. DUGGAR: Right. If I'm getting onto Josh about something, I usually start with his name.

M. O'BRIEN: Down you go.

J. DUGGAR: And if I'm getting on to Justin, I go all the way down the line.

M. O'BRIEN: I was very impressed that you got them all right just at that moment. I was think, oh, boy, this could be tough.

S. O'BRIEN: Before we let you go, I got to ask you this question. I read that you guys are thinking about baby number 17. Now, normally, you give birth and you're like never again, ever, ever. And then you kind of come around. But you want a 17?

(CROSSTALK)

S. O'BRIEN: Who is that? There he goes.

J. DUGGAR: Well, I've always left it up to Michelle. I've always left it up to Michelle. And what do you think, Michelle?

M. DUGGAR: I would love more. I really would. And I guess we'll wait and see. We'll take it one at a time. Maybe two at a time in our case with twins, but I would love more. They are precious. They're a blessing!

S. O'BRIEN: Hey, I'll second you on that, I got to tell you. Although my limit's four. But, good for you. Your family is beautiful. And thank God they are all healthy, as we say. Thanks for talking with us. Good luck to you. Good luck with the building of the house.

M. DUGGAR: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: We appreciate it.

J. DUGGAR: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Somebody ran off. I don't know if you saw the little one who just toddled off. You might want to go grab him.

M. O'BRIEN: Get his buddy to go get him.

S. O'BRIEN: Make sure you watch the Discovery Health Channel, Wednesday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. They're going to have a profile of this family. Fourteen children and pregnant again!

M. O'BRIEN: I am definitely TiVoing that one. I want to see how they run that operation there. Very impressive.

S. O'BRIEN: They are so well-behaved. And that's actually a great idea, the buddy system. I'm going to steal that, except...

M. O'BRIEN: We should make them the Katrina czars. They could run that household, you know?

S. O'BRIEN: They could do anything.

Still to come this morning, we were talking about the tough new bankruptcy law that goes into effect on Monday. Well, now, credit counseling and credit counselors are coming under fire. Andy's going to talk about that, coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Talking business now. Americans are filing for Chapter Seven in record numbers, and a part of the new bankruptcy law is coming under fire, too. Andy Serwer's "Minding Your Business." Huge numbers.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" COLUMNIST: Huge numbers, yes. What's going on, of course, is the new bankruptcy law goes into effect on Monday, That's October 17th. And you're talking about unchartered waters, in terms of what this means for people filing for bankruptcy. Consequently, people are filing for bankruptcy before the new law takes effect. And it is just staggering numbers, as you said, Soledad. Over a hundred thousand individuals filing for bankruptcy last week. That's versus an average of 30,000. And this week, we're also going to get over a hundred thousand, 1.4 million so far this year. That's up almost 20 percent from the same time last year.

People just don't want to go into this new law because it's more expensive, it's complicated and people aren't exactly sure what's going on. Part of the problem is this new credit counseling portion of the bill mandating that you must go through credit counseling while you file bankruptcy. And there are a couple of problems with this that critics are discussing right now. Number one, it costs money. It can cost as much as $50. That's $50 these people don't have. The other thing is it sort of discusses how to avoid bankruptcy. Critics say, well, that's too late.

S. O'BRIEN: Too late.

SERWER: I mean, these people are already at the door of bankruptcy. And the last problem here that's really drawing the most fire is that this credit counseling often steers people to debt management plans, and as it turns out, these credit counselors actually could benefit from these debt management programs because they would be paid by these programs. You can see a huge potential conflict of interest.

S. O'BRIEN: (INAUDIBLE) talking people out of filing for bankruptcy.

SERWER: Right, exactly. And so, to be fair to the new law or the people who designed the new law, again, it's unchartered waters. We don't really know what's going to happen here. But obviously, a lot of people have tremendous amount of trepidation. And I've decided just to get this done beforehand.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, lots of numbers there. All right, Andy, thanks.

SERWER: You're welcome.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, the very latest on the massive flooding in the Northeast. Rains still coming down in some parts. The situation could get even worse. We've got a live report, just ahead. Stay with us.

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