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Trial of Saddam Hussein Under Way; Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff Headed to Capitol Hill

Aired October 19, 2005 - 09:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: A remarkable sight as we watch the trial of Saddam Hussein get under way. Of course not many hours after it began it ended, postponed.
Let's get right to Christiane Amanpour. She's been in the courtroom and she's been really covering the story for us.

Christiane, good morning.


Well, in short, this proceeding was a first day. The lawyers came. The defendants came. The prosecutors came. The judges came. But all along it was clear that Saddam Hussein's chief defense attorney, Khalil Dulaimi, was going to ask for an adjournment. And he did so, about three hours in to the proceeding. He -- the judge ruled on a motion to adjourn the trial. Dulaimi, the lawyer, was asked for at least three months. Instead he was given about 40 days. It's going to reconvene, according to the judge, on November 28th here in Baghdad.

It started about 12:00 local time, when the defendants game in one by one. Saddam was the last defendant to be brought in to the court. While all the others were wearing the traditional dishdasher and they were wearing plastic sandals, he turned up in court, as he has done in all his public appearances, his court appearances, since last summer, in that dark suit and white shirt, no tie, with socks and leather shoes. He's the only one wearing proper shoes. His hair was black, whereas the others were all gray or white really, and he again and again refused to abide by the legitimacy of the court.

The judge started by asking him to stand up and identify himself. For the record, all the defendants had to identify themselves by name and say their profession. Everybody did, except for Saddam Hussein. He simply said, I abide by my constitutional right to be silent. He went on to say that I am still the president of Iraq, or I am the president of Iraq. I cannot negate, he said, the will of the Iraqi people who named me president of Iraq, and I don't recognize this court. This is a paraphrase of everything he said.

We had some difficulty in the beginning, because there was such technical difficulties, that we couldn't even hear what he was saying as he was saying it. We had to get some snippets, and I know you have it translated. But the bottom line is that he went to court, it was the first day, it was for this trial of a massacre of 143 Shiites in the village of Dujail 23 years ago after a botched assassination attempt on him.

Back to you Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Christiane Amanpour, who's been in the courtroom, continues to cover the story for us.

Christiane, thanks for the update.


S. O'BRIEN: Well, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is headed to Capitol Hill this morning. He's going to testify about problems in the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve live for us this morning in Washington D.C.

Jeanne, what do you expect to happen today?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, this morning, Soledad, Secretary Chertoff will acknowledge some shortcomings of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and he will make some concrete proposals to address them. He will announce that the Department of Homeland Security is establishing emergency reconnaissance teams from existing resources to go in, in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, to get dependable information on which authorities can act. Acknowledging the FEMA system for moving supplies into disaster areas is antiquated and inefficient, Chertoff will say the agency must model its logistic systems on those of private industry, saying that FEMA's traditional model of having people come to a fixed location to register for and receive aid does not hold up in a case like Katrina. Chertoff will suggest that one solution may be to surge more people more quickly into a broader area.

He will also tell the committee that FEMA needs to have mature, solid contracting and procurement systems in place before a disaster. And he will say the department is looking at ways to adapt military and advanced private-sector communications technology for emergency use, to avoid the kind of communications breakdowns that plagued the response to Katrina. The committee may want to talk about problems, the secretary is going to try to frame the conversation as being one about solutions -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Jeanne Meserve for us this morning. Jeanne, thanks.


S. O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, the Senate votes to kill a pay raise for Congress. Andy's "Minding Your Business." He's going to talk about that.

M. O'BRIEN: Also ahead, new benefits, but also new dangers from a surgery that's becoming more and more popular. We will explain that one ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, people are getting fatter, we all know that. And also, surgery for people who are obese is getting more and more popular. There's a new study out that says there are some benefits, and some big risks when it comes to bariatric surgery. Dr. Pamela Peeke is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, also she's author of the book "Body for Life for Women," and she joins us to talk about this.

How many more people are getting bariatric surgery now than were even a couple years ago?

DR. PAMELA PEEKE, AUTHOR, "BODY FOR LIFE FOR WOMEN": Are you ready for this? Over the last nine years over 60,000 people.

S. O'BRIEN: Really?

PEEKE: Absolutely. It's actually, I mean, it's astronomical numbers. People who have what we call a body mass index of 40 or over, or at least 100 pounds overweight, are the ones, you know, really undergoing this.

S. O'BRIEN: Are these for people who for every diet just was not working and they have no other option, is that really what it's about?

PEEKE: Well, quite frankly, these are the people who already have disease now. They have high blood pressure. They have diabetes. It's life-threatening, and these people really have to take this seriously now.

S. O'BRIEN: It's essentially known as stomach stapling, right? So before you describe it, let's show everybody how it works.

PEEKE: All right, so here's what you really do, you staple a small piece of the stomach and you make a very, very little pouch, literally it's the size of your fist, and it literally bypasses the small intestine. So what ends up happening is you reconnect it up, bypass the small intestine, you don't absorb that much food. So the only food you can possibly absorb is literally a fist's worth. If you really make a fist, that's all you get. So when you actually have a meal, it's really equivalent to about three or four tablespoons of food.

S. O'BRIEN: So then how can people live on eating virtually no calories every single day?

PEEKE: That's a really good question. That's something we're learning about right now. Clearly they have a lot of fat fuel they can use over time, and this is what we're going for. But this is why these people absolutely have to have excellent nutritional care, pre- operatively and post-operatively. Quite frankly, most don't.

S. O'BRIEN: Because this new study really found upsides and downsides. Success is heavily correlated to your age, whether you're a male or female, and also the experience of your surgeon.

PEEKE: If you're over the age of 65, clearly you're sicker. And so there's no question you're going to have more complications. If you're a guy, guess what, you really are sicker. We think it's because they wait. They wait for a very long time. It's more acceptable for a guy to be obese. Women tend to hit it a little bit earlier.

And clearly the experience of the surgeon is huge here. One of the other studies also showed that it's mostly women who are wealthier, from the wealthier zip codes, who have private insurance who are getting it. The grand majority of the people who get gastric surgery are women.

S. O'BRIEN: For the patients, then, it's a matter of weighing literally the risks between obesity and surviving the surgery.

PEEKE: Absolutely, no question about that.

And the other thing, too, is the third study showed that, interestingly enough, there's a huge amount of people who are going into the hospital after surgery, even up to a year afterwards, 20 percent, versus five percent prior to surgery, which means that there are a lot of risks associated with this.

S. O'BRIEN: It's clearly not just a quick fix.

Dr. Pamela Peeke, nice to see you, as always.

PEEKE: Good to see you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you for talking with us -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Up next, I can just taste them. I've been thinking about them all morning. You know, there's one thing about powdered sugar. You could put it on cardboard and the cardboard could taste good, right? Well, a little powdered sugar on some fried dough, you've got what they call a beignet in New Orleans. And they're serving them at Cafe Du Monde. This is a big moment for the city as it tries to come back off of its knees in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Stay with us as we check in with our special correspondent, Blaine Bondy (ph), on the scene there in New Orleans.


S. O'BRIEN: So, the senators examine their own paychecks and you know what? They did the right thing.

M. O'BRIEN: What? They gave themselves a raise?


S. O'BRIEN: They did the right thing.

SERWER: They froze their pay.

M. O'BRIEN: Wait a minute, that's breaking news. Senators looked at their pay and...

SERWER: And froze it.

M. O'BRIEN: Froze it. Good for them.

SERWER: Indeed.

Let's talk about the market, first of all, you guys. Stocks trading down at this hour, down 45 points on the Dow Jones Industrials. Housing starts strong. Weak guidance by Intel. Price of oil steady as Hurricane Wilma apparently veering away from oil production areas. But that's the good news. The bad news, might be headed towards Florida. Chad's been talking about that all morning.

Let's get to this story about the U.S. Senate. Voting yesterday to freeze their pay, not to give themselves a $3,100 pay hike. This with the $62 billion bill for the hurricane victims, $142 billion budget deficit, $300 billion spent on the war so far. You can see here, the average senator -- the senators all make, and Congressmen, all make $162,100. The vote was 92-6.

S. O'BRIEN: Who were the six?

SERWER: Meaning six senators voted against freezing their pay. I happen to have their names right now. Senators Kit Bond, Republican, Missouri. Richard Lugar, Republican, Indiana. Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat in New Mexico. Paul Sarbanes, Democrat in Maryland. Daniel Inouye, Democrat in Hawaii. James Jeffords, independent Vermont. What a strange group.

And you know, maybe there's a good reason, but gee, a little tone deaf, perhaps? I mean, it's only $2 million en toto. But still, I mean, why would you vote against that?

M. O'BRIEN: It's bad timing.

SERWER: Also abstaining, Saxby Chambliss and Jon Corzine, who certainly didn't need the $3,100.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, for goodness sakes.

M. O'BRIEN: Of all people.

S. O'BRIEN: Jon Corzine, he's prince money.


SERWER: It will be interesting to follow up and ask these senators why they voted against this.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, maybe they wanted to reduce their pay potentially. Maybe that was it.

SERWER: That had to be it.

S. O'BRIEN: Sure.

M. O'BRIEN: Actually, the senator would have preferred a reduction.

SERWER: Yes. That's why he voted against it. Oh, I'm sure.

S. O'BRIEN: And who were the aide for? Which one of those?

M. O'BRIEN: Just trying out -- just in case this job doesn't work out.

SERWER: It's not that big a deal, but it's still interesting.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it is. All right, Andy, thanks.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, sure it's a big deal. I mean, because you brought it to our attention, it must be a big deal, Andy.

SERWER: All right. Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Speaking of big deals. Cafe du Monde, beignets, cafe au lait and Blayne Bondy, our special correspondent, brother of executive producer and morning vice president Kim Bondy. Blayne, great to see you.

S. O'BRIEN: Good morning, Blayne.

BLAYNE BONDY, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: Good to see you. Good morning, how are you guys doing?

M. O'BRIEN: We're good. And I know you're doing better today. Because I remember when we were there, I don't know, a month or so ago, you kept talking about that first beignet's going to taste. And I don't see any powdered sugar around your lips. I assume you've had a little taste. How was it?

BONDY: Well, not yet, but I'm waiting to get off air. I didn't want to get any powdered sugar.

S. O'BRIEN: What a pro!

BONDY: I assure you I am going to partake as soon as the shot is over.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, good. All right. But this is a big moment, isn't it? I mean, put it in perspective for people who don't know what Cafe du Monde is and a beignet and all that stuff is.

BONDY: It's -- you know, Miles, it's probably one of the most recognized buildings in the city. It's our international tourism destination. You know, everyone from presidents to dignitaries to celebrities come to Cafe du Monde when they're in town. So I think it's a huge step in the right direction for the city getting back on track to welcome back guests.

M. O'BRIEN: Is it -- is this one of those places that's a great, you know, tourist place? Or does this mean a lot for the people there, too? In other words, when you go there on a daily basis, are the real people who live there?

BONDY: Yes, by all means. The residents of the quarter and the at the Baywater (ph), this is their daily, you know, coffee shop. And to the residents of New Orleans, you know, we all take part in the festivities here, as well. You know, as a kid, this was one of my grandfather's favorite stops on the way home, to bring us some beignets. And Cafe du Monde is just a fixture in all homes. We have, you know, the famous CDM coffee with chickery, and I can tell you, after all of the madness of Katrina the first request my mother made was that my sister and I bring her back some CDM coffee.

S. O'BRIEN: Important things first, right? You can always fix the house later.

BONDY: Exactly, exactly.

S. O'BRIEN: A question for you. It looks, Blayne, behind you pretty crowded. And then we've seen some of the live shots, too. How does it compare to how it would normally be on a normal day?

BONDY: Well, on a normal day, you would obviously have a crowd that would have gathered on the sidewalk, waiting to get a table. But obviously, under the circumstances, you know, it's been a very constant crowd. You know, people have been coming in on a regular basis. The tables aren't all full, but you would expect that they wouldn't be just yet. But I would imagine that as soon as word gets out, there will probably be lines on the sidewalk once again.

M. O'BRIEN: You know, one of the things that the owner was worried about was -- and this is a recurring theme, and I know you're plugged into this because you've got businesses in that town -- is getting workers.

BONDY: Correct.

M. O'BRIEN: You know, the employees, that -- he hasn't been able to even contact some of them.

BONDY: Yes, it's a huge issue, Miles. You know, I'm sure for all businesses, including mine. You know, I've had contractors that I've done work with in the past contact me to see if I had some housing for them. And you know, it's an issue that has to be addressed, and it's an issue that I think is going to take some really, really -- is going to take a lot of people to get together to get something done quickly. Because, you know, the local contractors in particular are hit the hardest, because they don't have any homes to come back to work. And they need a place to stay. And this is affecting everyone.

S. O'BRIEN: The owner of Cafe du Monde said they actually didn't suffer very much physical damage from the storm. So I'm curious to know how psychologically important is it that they reopen their doors and kind of signal, not just to the inhabitants of the city, but to everybody, maybe the world, that they're open for business?

BONDY: I think it's huge, Soledad. I think that people need to know that we are taking steps forward and we're moving in the right direction to restore some sense of normalcy. So I think it's a huge step in that direction. And I think it's going to send a clear signal to the world that we -- you know, we are going to be back to normal. It's going to take some time. But the places that most people are familiar with, the French Quarter, Cafe du Monde, you know, they're -- every day they're taking strides forward. So we're progressing.

S. O'BRIEN: It's almost cruel, you know, to show people eating beignets. Because we don't have anything. We've been on the air now almost four hours, Blayne. Not that you should feel sorry for us. Doesn't it look good? Look at that guy.

M. O'BRIEN: Ooh, he is savoring it, too, isn't he?

BONDY: Well, I have a gift for you guys.


M. O'BRIEN: FedEx!

BONDY: Yes, I have a gift for you guys. It's the perfect accessory to every outfit. And you know I'm going to make sure that you guys get these. It's the Cafe du Monde hat.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, gee, thanks.

M. O'BRIEN: Wait a minute, wait a minute. We can have a beignet, instead we get this lousy hat?

BONDY: Exactly.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, wow, Blayne, thanks so much. Hi, we were hinting for the food, actually.

SERWER: And all I got was this stupid hat.

BONDY: Well, maybe next time you guys are down here.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Blayne Bondy. I was going to give you a prop for amazing restraint, not having the beignet before the live shot. But now I'm mad at you.

S. O'BRIEN: But forget about it.

M. O'BRIEN: So forget about it.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Blayne, nice to check in with you.

BONDY: Good to see you.

S. O'BRIEN: As always.

BONDY: Yes, it was good talking to you guys.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, see you.

S. O'BRIEN: We're -- short break. We're back in a moment. Stay with us. A hat?



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