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AMERICAN MORNING

Indictments in CIA Leak Case Could be Unsealed by End of Day; Picking Up the Pieces

Aired October 26, 2005 - 09:34   ET

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


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: It could be a catastrophic day for the White House. Indictments in the CIA leak case could be unsealed by the end of the day. The truth is no one really knows what will happen. The special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, arrived at the courthouse just moments ago. And the grand jury is to meet any time now.
CNN's Dana Bash is live for us at the White House this morning.

Dana, a lot of anxious people there at the White House today?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is for sure. A longtime Bush adviser told me this is a team that doesn't dance in the end zone when they're up and doesn't cry in their beer when they are down. But the problem with this investigation is they don't know if they're up or down. So what they are trying to do right now is do what they can. The work that they have in front of them when it comes to the top aides that we understand are at the center of this, Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. They were up at 0-dark 100, their regular time this morning, here at the White House for the regular 7:30 a.m. senior staff meeting.

Other aides are putting final touches on the president's economic speech today, even finishing up Harriet Miers do-over, her questionnaire that is going up to the Senate Judiciary Committee later today.

However, Zain, we do know that very quietly, some White House aides are putting in a plan for if -- for when this leaks investigation does wrap up, and that includes a presidential speech, which we expect happen soon after any announcement do come.

The bottom line here, though, is there is a lot of tension, especially because they know here, because they've heard reports that some former White House officials have been interviewed, last-minute interviews about Karl Rove's role in all of this.

Dana Bash for us at the White House. Thanks. Dana.

VERJEE: President Bush, as she was just mentioning, is expected to be speaking a little later. He is going to be speaking at the Economic Club this afternoon in Washington at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. And course CNN will have that for you live as it happens.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's bring you up on an ongoing story that we have brought you here. Kim Bondy, our boss, vice president of morning programming here, who's in the control room.

Kim, are you here?

KIM BONDY, CNN V.P., MORNING PROGRAMMING Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Good morning, Kim. Good to see you.

BONDY: Good to see you.

O'BRIEN: She's been telling the story of her home on Chantilly, in the -- in the Chantilly district, I should say.

BONDY: Gentilly.

O'BRIEN: I'm so sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I'm exhausted. Yes, I'm sorry.

You know, you're the boss, why don't you take this away, and tell us what you're going to -- your house, bringing people up to date on the progress of your house, which was flooded out in the wake of Katrina. Tell us what you have found out.

BONDY: Well, you know, the last time, Miles, we did a tour of the house, and I still had all of the contents inside of the home. Well, my insurance adjuster is actually visiting the house today, or at least my fingers are crossed that he's visiting the house today. And this actually may be helpful to other Katrina homeowners. They told me to go ahead and remove the contents of the house, even before the adjuster got there, but to be sure, take pictures of the contents inside of the house, and then once they were moved, take pictures of them outside of the house.

So this past Saturday, which was a beautiful Saturday, my brother, Blayne, and I spent the day doing some very ugly work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BONDY (on camera): What a mess. What a mess. No matter how many times you see it, it's just unbelievable.

I guess when you start to think about having to clean it up and pick up all of the stuff, and you think about this is not just about, you know, debris and people cleaning out their homes. These are, you know, all of your memories.

I mean, look at this down here, you know, these crayons. These are my nephew's crayons. I'm try to save some of these pictures for him.

I think a lot of families are going to be going through that, trying to get these pictures restored.

These planes are ruined. Wow, look at that. It's a picture of my mother with two people. The way that the picture was destroyed, it was stuck to another picture, so just the picture just of Ruby (ph) is OK.

So, Blayne, do they want detailed pictures of every piece of furniture?

BLAYNE BONDY, KIM'S BROTHER: Anything that was expensive or that is probably, you know, carrying some value that's worth highlighting, you might want to take a close-up of that.

K. BONDY (voice-over): Capturing pictures of my belongings for the insurance company, as a small army of workers braving almost two months of mold and foul water left by Katrina, removed it all, room- by-room.

(on camera): These are the only things that are being salvaged from the entire downstairs of my house. The paper is still dry. So one bright moment in my day today.

(voice-over): It took us a seven-man crew six hours to remove the contents of my house, and this is just the downstairs contents. I'm one of the first residents in Legion Fields Avenue to do this.

Now, the guy who's going to be removing this debris told me it's because most people come here, they look inside their homes, they see what's left, and they get out. But, still, imagine this happening about 100,000 times. And eventually, the contents of my home will end up here.

B. BONDY: How many hours of work it took you to earn the money to pay for all of this stuff, and then, like you said, I mean, eight hours later, it's all gone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

K. BONDY: So, Miles, there you have it. It was -- you know, you and I have been through this over the last two months now. And this was actually harder than the live tour we did, because it was sort of, you know, I had to sort of reckon with. And I felt very exposed because the stuff that was ruined was inside my home. And then when it was outside and sitting on the curb and people were coming by and taking pictures of my things. And I just felt -- you know, it was very humiliating.

And so my heart goes out to, you know, all of my neighbors and all of the people of New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast who have had to do or will have to do the same thing.

O'BRIEN: Yes. There's a real sense of being personally violated by this. And I think that's what you captured very well there. What are your thoughts now about the possibility of rebuilding? What are the insurance people telling you, FEMA, whoever you're in contact with at this point?

K. BONDY: You know, everybody is still so unclear. And, you know, Miles, you and I are going to go back to New Orleans next week and we're going to actually do a piece with a structural engineer. And what's interesting is that my house would be a very good test case for this because the outside of my house, as you know, looks fine.

And, you know, the roof's in good condition, the floors would have to be replaced. The walls, of course, are plaster, which, you know, is actually a good scenario, versus having drywall. But I tell you, I actually left the first time thinking the house can be saved. And now, I just don't know. I just don't know. So hopefully, we'll have answers next week and can bring everybody up-to-date again.

O'BRIEN: What a rollercoaster on that.

VERJEE: What was in the red box?

K. BONDY: Baccarat glasses. I only had two though.

VERJEE: Sorry.

O'BRIEN: And you didn't really go upstairs on this tour. The upstairs was pretty pristine? It really wasn't affected, which is good. There is he is. Some things you were able to save. Some people didn't even get away with as much as you did. You know, I'm thinking of people like in St. Bernard Parish as well.

Well, all right, I look forward to -- well, I don't know if I look forward to seeing the place. It's going to be hard to see it, I think. Of course, I didn't get to see it beforehand. I sort of wish I had now.

VERJEE: Thanks, Kim.

K. BONDY: It was a lovely home.

O'BRIEN: All right. Kim, thank you.

VERJEE: Thank you.

K. BONDY: Thanks, you guys.

O'BRIEN: Still to come on the program, a former U.S. counterterrorism official writes a novel. He knows his subject for sure, but, fact, fiction? Thinly veiled? We'll ask him some questions about whether he's taking a little jab at the Bush administration through the tool of fiction.

VERJEE: And the IRS has millions in unclaimed refunds. Does Uncle Sam owe you money? Andy is "Minding your Business," ahead here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: He was the point person on terrorism for two presidents, and he was among the people very critical of the Bush administration and their actions and perhaps inactions in the run-up to the 9/11 attacks. He -- you know him by now, based on the criticism he levied.

Former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke now joining us, out now with a book of fiction, a novel. Mr. Clarke, good to have you with us. Can you give us the thumbnail plot of this book, "The Scorpion's Gate"?

RICHARD CLARKE, FMR. COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: It's five years from now, and the trends that we are already seeing of instability in the Middle East, terrorism, increasing oil demand by the United States and China, all cause increased instability in the Middle East. This is an attempt to use fiction to put the reader in the future, the near future, so the reader will see the issues that we're going to face, potentially face, in the very near future.

O'BRIEN: Well, and the issues are very real, and it doesn't take too much of a stretch to extrapolate from today to what you write. So it's not -- this isn't a work of science fiction?

CLARKE: Not at all.

O'BRIEN: This is fiction that's close to the front page?

CLARKE: It's all extrapolated from things that have already begun to happen. And if we don't change those paths, we're going to end up with this kind of future, which I hope we don't.

O'BRIEN: We can all agree on that one. Let's talk about what you say about the Bush administration. Your fictional secretary of state, secretary of defense, has no solid plan for the invasion of Iraq. Another character remarks at one point the "Bushies were always in bed with the Saudis." The question is, I guess, is this thinly- veiled fiction or is it not even veiled at all?

CLARKE: It's very much fiction. And every time there's someone who says something about the previous administration in a negative way, there's someone who defends them. There's the kind of dialectic, the kind of dialogue and debate that shows both camps. And hopefully in an even-handed way.

O'BRIEN: Of course, readers could be the judge of that. Let's talk about what you -- the non-fiction side of you for a moment. "Atlantic Monthly" piece that's just out. And you talk about the Bush administration's what you view as continued failings on the homeland security front, connecting what we saw on 9/11 to what we saw with Katrina. Tell us about that.

CLARKE: Well, I think Katrina proved that the creation of the Department of Homeland Security didn't help. It actually took a cabinet-level agency, FEMA, that was doing a really good job in the '90s, and suppressed it three layers down, reduced its budget, reduced manpower, populated its management with political appointees who had no experience in emergency management.

And that's kind of typical of what is going on in the Department of Homeland Security. Now, we haven't had an attack here in four years, and so people are getting complacent. A lot of attacks going on elsewhere. Terrorism has actually been on the rise for the last four years around the world. We could still have a problem here. And just because we're fighting them over there doesn't mean we don't end up with something happening here.

O'BRIEN: Well, there are many people in the Bush administration who would say that on that last point, that there is a link there. Because we have taken the fight to them, they say, that's why we haven't been attacked here. What do you say to that?

CLARKE: You know, I'd quote General Scowcroft, who was the first President Bush's national security adviser, when he says Iraq feeds terrorism. It's also what the CIA says, it's what Canadian intelligence says. That people are going to Iraq now, learning how to be terrorists, it's become the new training ground, as well as breeding ground for terrorists. And then they leave and they go back to other countries where they may conduct terrorism. We should not be complacent.

O'BRIEN: So, we, the U.S., has created training camps essentially, real world training camps where real people die?

CLARKE: We eliminated them in Afghanistan, which is absolutely the right thing to do. But, unfortunately, we diverted our attention from going after al Qaeda and went into Iraq, I think needlessly. But whatever you think about the motivation for going in, you have to agree, I think, that terrorists are going to Iraq now and getting real world training.

O'BRIEN: The new book is "The Scorpion's Gate," and Richard Clarke is the novelist who, of course, has said a lot about terrorism, counter-terrorism and how the administration is dealing with it. Thanks for being with us -- Zain.

CLARKE: Thank you.

VERJEE: Miles, "CNN LIVE TODAY" is coming up next. Let's go to CNN Center and to our marvelous Daryn Kagan -- Daryn.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Zain, we are here for you, and for out audience at the top of the hour. We are talking the mall, the gas pump, even the grocery store. Prices are going up. We're talking inflation. We have a must-see top five tips on fighting inflation.

And for months, Colorado radio listeners followed the triumphs and tragedy of a young woman in the military, and they ended up getting a big surprise, a big disappointing surprise. You will, too. The scoop on her real story coming up on CNN LIVE TODAY.

Now back to, Zain.

VERJEE: Good color, Daryn.

KAGAN: Thank you! You, too.

VERJEE: Still to come on AMERICAN MORNING, do you think the IRS still owes you a refund? Andy's got some important news for you in "Minding Your Business." Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Does Uncle Sam owe you money? With that, as well as a check on the market, here is Andy.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Zain, good to see you.

Let's go down to Wall Street and see what is happening in early trading this hour. The Dow Jones Industrials is down a single, solitary average down two points, and we can handle that. To the downside, Boeing reporting weaker numbers, Amazon getting crushed, down 12 percent, $6, to $40, having a weak third quarter.

What you want to be right now is in the oil business. Conoco- Phillips, the nation's third-largest oil company, announcing profits of $3.8 billion in the third quarter. That compares to $2 billion in last year's third quarter. I mean, that's just huge money.

VERJEE: What's going on are the IRS and all of those unclaimed tax refunds?

SERWER: I don't know. I really don't understand this. I mean, people have these refund checks, they don't get them, and then the money just seems to sit there. The IRS has $73 million worth of refund checks sitting there! They want to give you your money back! But you're not getting the checks. What happens is they send the checks out and people move. The checks get returned. Sometimes the addresses are incomplete, and the money sits there, 84,000 taxpayers. And if you dot math, Zain, as I know you just have, it comes out to $870 per taxpayer. I just don't understand.

VERJEE: I got 870.14.

SERWER: Exactly, I rounded. I truncated. Why don't people. Here is what they can do to try to find out. Go to the IRS.gov. Where's my refund? There's the telephone number, dial them up, 1954, where are you? You know, I don't know why it sits there, but it does.

And I'll tell you what, if they don't get it soon, it's going to be distributed to the anchors of AMERICAN MORNING. I'm just kidding, but that's not a bad idea.

O'BRIEN: Excellent idea!

VERJEE: We can all go to McDonald's. Do you like McDonald's?

SERWER: yes.

VERJEE: Do you eat McDonald's?

SERWER: I do. I enjoy it.

VERJEE: What do you think of this new nutritional...

SERWER: I think it's fine. My slogan, by the way, would be shut up and eat. Thank you! Because no more litigating, just eat. No more salads, no more nutrition, I mean, that's what it's all about. And that's just my two cents, but thank you for asking.

VERJEE: All right, thanks. We will be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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