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AMERICAN MORNING

Moussaoui Jury to Move on to Next Stage; Jill Carroll Reunites with Colleagues; Hurricane Expert Predicts Severe Season

Aired April 4, 2006 - 07:30   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: You're watching AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien.
MILES O'BRIEN, CO-HOST: Looks a little nicer out there on Columbus Circle than it did a few hours ago. It was nasty in the wee hours.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CO-HOST: It was cold and nasty. Yesterday it was cold and nasty and raining.

M. O'BRIEN: Not that we're complaining.

S. O'BRIEN: Not at all.

Welcome back, everybody. Lots to talk about. Let's get right to Carol. She's got an update of our top news stories this morning.

Hey, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It came as quite a surprise, Tom DeLay calling it quits. The former House majority leader nicknamed the hammer says he's done. He's dropping out of his re-election race and plans to resign from Congress in mid-June. DeLay announcing his plans on a videotape released earlier this morning. DeLay is facing criminal charges for allegedly breaking campaign finance laws.

New charges against Saddam Hussein. An Iraqi tribunal is charging the former Iraqi leader with genocide in connection with a campaign to wipe out the Kurds in the 1980s. Hussein is on trial with connection the 1982 massacre at a Kurdish village. The trial is expected to pick up again tomorrow.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejecting an appeal from accused terrorist Jose Padilla. He's contesting his former status as an enemy combatant. The high court split 6-3 against accepting the case. The majority decided that the appeal was moot since Padilla is no longer in military custody.

President Barack Obama? The Illinois senator laughing off questions about whether he wants to be on the Democratic ticket in 2008. But Obama is giving his party some tips about the platform. He says it should include a strong plan for energy independence and more funding for education.

And search teams spanning across northwest Tennessee where winds of more than 200 miles per hour ripped through the area. At least 23 were killed in the twisters. More than 1,000 buildings flattened. Governor Phil Bredesen will survey the damage today. And we'll find out if more severe weather on the way when we check back in with Chad. That's coming your way just ahead.

Right now let's send it back to Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Carol Costello.

Zacarias Moussaoui, what a wild penalty phase trial that was. There was a period of time when, after that shocking revolution a government attorney was sharing testimony with witnesses, coaching them, there was some feeling that maybe that entire prosecution case would be scuttled and then Zacarias Moussaoui started talking, and that was the end of that concern.

Joining us now to talk about the Moussaoui verdict and what lies ahead is Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst. Zacarias Moussaoui hung himself.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And perhaps intentionally.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

TOOBIN: You know, I think his motivations, his mental state are sufficiently in doubt that it is really not at all clear that he took the stand to get himself out of the death penalty, because as you said, the trial had been going badly for the government. He may really be seeking martyrdom, and execution may be the best way for him to get it.

M. O'BRIEN: Suicide by jury or something.

TOOBIN: It does happen.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Now, the next step is sort of the pro forma step. Really, the jury has dealt with the real issues.

TOOBIN: The hard part is over for the government. It was very difficult and, frankly, I think not at all clear to prove that the government -- that Moussaoui's lies led to all the deaths at 9/11. That's a very -- that was a tough case for the government to make.

Now, the second stage, they have to prove that 9/11 was a cruel and heinous act. It's not -- not difficult. They're going to call -- they're going to try to call 40 victims' families. They're going to play some of the tapes to the 911 calls. They may play some tapes to the plane that went down in Pennsylvania.

I mean, it's -- everybody knows how dramatic and awful the events were. And if that's what the jury is going to hear, it's hard to think they're not going to come back with a death sentence.

M. O'BRIEN: It almost seems unnecessary to offer further testimony in a sense. But I'm sure they will. TOOBIN: Right. Moussaoui does have one defense for this portion of the trial, two actually. One is, he's going to -- his lawyers will talk about his mental state. They'll say he has schizophrenia. They'll say he's crazy; he's not responsible for his actions.

M. O'BRIEN: At this point, can that be considered?

TOOBIN: Well, that is a mitigating factor under the death -- under the death penalty phase. And his mother may testify. That may be moving to the jury. But it's hard to think, having jumped this hurdle, they're not going across the next one.

M. O'BRIEN: Meanwhile, the most relieved person in the country this morning is Carla Martin.

TOOBIN: Carla Martin.

M. O'BRIEN: Explain that one.

TOOBIN: Well, Carla Martin was the lawyer for the Department of Homeland Security who improperly coached some of the witnesses who were going to testify. The judge, Judge Brinkema, went ballistic, quite properly so. It was a clear violation of her order. At first, was going to exclude an entire area of testimony. Then, wound up only excluding the witnesses who were improperly coached.

I mean, here, imagine having on your conscience that you blew one of the most important prosecutions in American history. She has not done that. However, she still does face sanctions, potentially, possibly even criminal contempt. So she's not out of the woods personally but in terms of the case, Carla Martin can breathe easier.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. From scapegoat probably to footnote. I mean, albeit some personal issues to contend with.

TOOBIN: I think that's -- you're a poet, Miles. Scapegoat to footnote. I like that.

M. O'BRIEN: Use that later.

TOOBIN: Exactly right.

M. O'BRIEN: Jeff Toobin, thank you very much.

TOOBIN: OK.

M. O'BRIEN: Our senior legal analyst.

TOOBIN: That's right.

M. O'BRIEN: Want to make sure we get the right title in.

Stay tuned to CNN day and night, of course, for the most reliable news about your security -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles, you're a poet and you don't even know it. M. O'BRIEN: Looked at my feet.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, let's talk about Jill Carroll, shall we? A day after reuniting with her family, the former hostage met her "Christian Science Monitor" colleagues on Monday. Pretty emotional meeting. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILL CARROLL, FREED HOSTAGE: It's overwhelming the work that went into this and the trouble everyone went to for me, a lowly freelancer. You know, who am I? It's like a family. And so I just want to say how much -- I'm overwhelmed by how wonderful the paper's been. My family and everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: Right there in the crowd, that's fellow "Monitor" reporter Dan Murphy. He spent months in Baghdad searching for Jill Carroll. And he's in Boston this morning.

Dan, thanks for talking with us. Good morning.

DAN MURPHY, REPORTER, "CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR": Thanks for having me on.

S. O'BRIEN: I thought she was incredibly eloquent, even between the tears and the emotions, obviously. The fact that she could kind of get a coherent sentence out impressed me. What did you think?

MURPHY: We -- we couldn't believe it. You know, that was extemporaneous. She came in. She called us sometime that morning, said she really felt ready to come into the newsroom. It was something that she felt she wanted to do. And she's amazingly together right now. Obviously, she's got a lot of baggage to deal with, but we just were so proud of her yesterday.

S. O'BRIEN: It was the first time she'd met many of the colleagues, of course, because, you know, as a freelancer, you don't always come back into the building and get to know everybody. What did it feel like from your perspective to hug her there and for other colleagues to kind of hug her and support her?

MURPHY: It is -- I mean, it's amazing. She had the entire foreign desk, who she knew from countless cell phone conversations, whom she was working with. She's never met them. And these people are, you know, turning into puddles as they hug and meet Jill for the first time.

And, obviously, there's so many people there and all over the world and the U.S. government, the Iraqi government that devoted -- I mean, most of their lives for the past three months to getting her out. And she's very grateful.

S. O'BRIEN: Give me some of those details about what was done to get her out, the ones that you can. I know obviously, there's the lives of other hostages who are being held, you know, around the world that we need to be careful of. But as much as you can.

MURPHY: Well, I mean, you just pursue every lead and run them into the ground. And most of them are dry holes; they don't go anywhere. But if a sheikh calls up and says maybe he can help, you start checking him out. You ask people for favors. You pass information along. We did public service announcements.

S. O'BRIEN: Very unusual, I thought. And obviously, a strategy that worked. Do you have any indication that her, you know, captors saw the PSAs that you ran in the Iraqi media?

MURPHY: They did. There's no question. They would talk about seeing her parents on TV and the PSAs and how impressed with the family they were, and Jill believes that played a big role in saving her life.

S. O'BRIEN: You flew back with her on the plane. What was that like? What did you do? What did you talk about?

MURPHY: I mean, just -- we just talked. We talked and talked. And the six- or seven- or eight-hour plane journey went by in no time. We talked about the music she listened to -- or wanted to listen to when she was in captivity. She would sing to herself to try to calm herself in her cell.

You know, the plans that she'd come up with to try to make a desperate escape if she ever -- she thought that she really was, you know, going to be killed. How excited she is to see her family, how grateful she was.

You know, she thought that the "Monitor" abandoned Baghdad because of this violent and horrible incident. And she didn't know we were still there looking for her. And so we just filled her in on all we were doing.

S. O'BRIEN: Did she talk about the guards at all, I mean, sort of what that situation was like being held? Were they -- were they nice to her, as she seemed to indicate in captivity, obviously. No surprise there. But also afterwards when she's sort of in that halfway area. Or did she talk about, you know, sort of how they treated her?

MURPHY: Well, I mean, of course, she considers them to be the murderers of Allan Enwiyah, you know, our translator, and people that deprived her of her liberty so long. So when you say nice treatment, you know, we don't want to get that confused.

However, some of her guards did befriend her and chat with her and she felt comfortable with. Some of them had demeanors that were quite scary to her. And she had different casts of characters around her at different times. So it was really a mixed bag.

But you know, she was in one house once and, you know, the guards were mean and scary, but the food was better. So she said at least it was a trade off. MURPHY: Dan Murphy. I'll tell you, she has got an amazing story to tell. Thanks for talking with us, Dan. Appreciate it. Dan Murphy of the "Christian Science Monitor.

MURPHY: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Another warning coming out today for the upcoming hurricane season. This comes from a well respected forecaster. Chad Myers is our severe weather expert. He joins us now from the CNN Center to talk about Dr. William Gray, who's actually making his way toward retirement now.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Sliding into the twilight.

M. O'BRIEN: After about 22 years of forecasting. And, first of all, let's talk about the latest forecast. I want you to tell me what his batting average has been over the years.

MYERS: Yes. This is all kind of in there, Miles. And yes, last year, maybe not the best indication of how it all went. But this is the early forecast. You have to understand that this is only April. It's not even hurricane season yet, but this is the forecast for this year.

Seventeen named storms. That's what he's predicting. Twelve is the average, the 55-year average. For hurricanes, his forecast is nine. Forecast average, six. Intense hurricanes, which means Category 3 or higher, five. And he is forecasting five out of an average of two. So, that's almost two and a half times what you might think.

Now, here's what he forecast last April. We're going to back up the calendar one full year. He was forecasting 13 storms. There were 27. He forecasted seven hurricanes; there were 15. Three intense hurricanes; there were seven. So this number, the numbers, don't focus so much on that, because in April, they're not perfect.

But here's the forecast that everybody's a little bit concerned about. The average potential for landfall, Gulf Coast, the average potential for landfall, 61 percent during any year. He's forecasting a 79 percent chance of a hurricane making landfall there. The Florida and the East Coast, 62. He's forecasting 89.

So that is what the people are looking at and they're going, whoa. That's a big difference from where normal is, compared to what the forecast for a land falling hurricane is -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Now, has he been pretty accurate on those percentages in the past?

MYERS: Absolutely. That's what he does best. Above or below.

M. O'BRIEN: It's interesting. And just to give people a sense, this formula, if you want to call it a formula... MYERS: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: ... that he has, I mean, really starts off with little waves and little wind disturbances that begin in the Sahara...

MYERS: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: ... make their way across the Atlantic Ocean, get twisted into a cyclonic -- you've got the map there.

MYERS: There were six...

M. O'BRIEN: I'll probably get into too much trouble here. Why don't you do it?

MYERS: It's all right. Six different things that he looks at. I put little numbers on them, kind of like Lotto balls. And then assigns a number, either positive or negative. Every one that's positive means an increased chance of hurricanes.

That No. 1, that No. 1 there is the easterly upper level zonal wind anomalies off the northeast coast of South America.

The No. 2, right there, that is the anomalous wind from the north at 200 millibars in the southern Indian Ocean, associated with a northeast shift of the southern Indian convergence zone. So you think this guy knows some stuff? Yes.

There's No. 3. No. 3, the high sea level pressure in the eastern Pacific of the equatorial indicates a positive southern oscillation index. That's La Nina/El Nino.

And No. 4, where is No. 4? Right there. The one off the Canary Islands. Warm sea surface temperatures off the northwest coast of Europe. He goes on and on and on.

No. 5 is the 500 millibar chart. And No. 6 is actually the previous year's either high or low pressure in the Caribbean.

So that's why I told you, it's not really a formula. It's just kind of a...

S. O'BRIEN: Guess.

MYERS: I agree.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm so clear on that now. Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: The anomalous wind flow something something.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: In other words, a bad year, unfortunately.

MYERS: It's just a perturbation (ph).

M. O'BRIEN: In other words, it's not a WAG.

MYERS: What's that?

M. O'BRIEN: Wild something guess. If you know what I mean?

MYERS: Oh, yes. Never mind.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much. Yes. Chad Myers.

Back with Andy Serwer in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: So do you want to be the face of Mickey D's?

M. O'BRIEN: What about Ronald McDonald? What, is he out of a job?

S. O'BRIEN: What to be yet another face, maybe...

M. O'BRIEN: The Hamburglar, what about him?

S. O'BRIEN: Want to be the third face of Mickey D's? Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business."

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes, but not necessarily the face of McDonald's. You can get your face on McDonald's bag, which I suppose is better than the post office wall.

This is a new campaign that McDonald's has online at MCDGlobalCasting.com. You go to this web site, and you submit your picture and write 100 words what you love. Because it goes with the "I'm loving it" campaign.

M. O'BRIEN: Right.

SERWER: And they will pick 25 people to put on bags and cups globally, around the world.

S. O'BRIEN: Do they pay you?

SERWER: Sixteen languages. Of course not. I'll tell you.

S. O'BRIEN: I get it. I get it. The old honor of being on the bag.

SERWER: And you'd say stuff like, you know, "I love origami, my aquarium and tequila."

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, it's not about McDonald's.

SERWER: No. It's about you. It's about the things that you like.

M. O'BRIEN: Those would be your things.

SERWER: Those are my things. Origami, my aquarium and tequila. Or whatever.

S. O'BRIEN: You know how to do origami?

SERWER: A little bit.

M. O'BRIEN: He's a Renaissance man. He's a Renaissance.

SERWER: Yes. My kids got me into it, with the little fingers.

M. O'BRIEN: Just a little bit.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow.

SERWER: Yes, I want to talk a little bit -- fold it up. We're going to talk a little bit about Free 411 here. Did you hear about this? Do you know how 411 calls costs $1.25, up to $3.49? There's some new services out, like 1-800-FREE-411, where it's free except...

M. O'BRIEN: You listen to an ad.

SERWER: Listen to an ad. You have to listen to about 15 seconds of a commercial. So what do you think? Would you do that? Would you do that?

S. O'BRIEN: If you were in a rush, you couldn't. But if you're not, sure. Why not?

SERWER: I mean, you save a lot of money.

M. O'BRIEN: Come on. You always have 15 seconds.

S. O'BRIEN: No. Some days I hate when they even just say, "Please hold for an operator." It's like, why don't you just put me through to the operator?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: I know.

S. O'BRIEN: So yes, 15 seconds could be a lot of time.

M. O'BRIEN: Very nicely done.

S. O'BRIEN: It is going to be a crane.

SERWER: Can I help you with that? Because I -- yes. All right.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm just curious. Do you do the origami and the tequila at the same time?

SERWER: That's not good.

M. O'BRIEN: Not a good idea.

S. O'BRIEN: While watching the aquarium.

SERWER: That's not good.

M. O'BRIEN: Still to come on the program, we'll talk to one of the survivors of those deadly twisters that ripped through Tennessee. Incredibly, she rode out the storm in a house that was ripped apart. She'll share her story.

And next a closer look at the biggest U.S. mumps outbreak in almost 20 years. Does the mumps vaccine still work? Apparently not. Maybe not. We'll ask the question. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Now more on that mumps outbreak in Iowa. It's the biggest in the U.S. in 17 years, about 245 cases reported since January. Why the spread? What does it all mean? Are there problems with the vaccine?

Dr. William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, an expert on infectious diseases, he joins us now from Nashville.

Doctor Schaffner, good to have you with us.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Hello, Miles. Good to be with you.

M. O'BRIEN: What -- what do we know so far about how this particular outbreak has spread? I know there's a link to college campuses.

SCHAFFNER: Yes, it looks to be young adults, mostly. And the virus apparently was imported from England and then, because those college kids are all so close with each other, you know, dorm living, sports, bars, everything else, it's spread among them. That virus found the susceptibles.

M. O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right. And most of these college students these days would have probably had the vaccine somewhere along the way, right?

SCHAFFNER: Yes. At least one dose. But, you know, two doses are recommended. And some of them didn't get two doses. And, no vaccine is perfect, even if you've had two doses. So amongst some of them, the protection may have waned. It may have diminished.

M. O'BRIEN: When are you supposed to get that second dose? Because you get that first one when they're -- when kids are pretty young.

SCHAFFNER: Oh, yes. Very young. About a year, year and a half. And then you get your second dose sometime before you actually enter school.

So, even the kids who had two doses have had some time. And this is not the strongest of the three vaccines that are together: the measles, the German measles and the mumps. The other two are, we might say, more robust vaccines. So it doesn't surprise us that some of the kids that were well vaccinated still got the mumps.

S. O'BRIEN: So should the vaccine be tweaked, strengthened, something done to make it more mumps resistant?

SCHAFFNER: Well, let's not jump to that conclusion. Let's do this investigation. After all, there's been virtually no mumps in the United States, as your set up said, for about 17 years. We've done a very, very good job. Let's check this out.

O'BRIEN: So, what is a college student to do? What should parents do to be on the lookout?

SCHAFFNER: Yes. This is a good reason to realize that if we want to eliminate disease, if we have tolerance for no disease, and we have that in the United States, make sure your child is well immunized before college, before going to school.

It also reminds us that the world is a very small place. The viruses can hitchhike in people, get on an airplane and be introduced into the United States at any time. So we all need to be well protected.

M. O'BRIEN: How is the mumps spread and how would you know if you had it?

SCHAFFNER: It's spread by the respiratory route. It gets up there back in the throat and it's spread pretty readily from person to person.

If you get sick, you get fever. You feel kind of crummy. And then this virus likes to go to the parotid glands, those salivary glands right before the ear, and you begin to get a little pain in your ear and then it swells and that's the mump. It's not a fun disease. You get over it in about a week.

M. O'BRIEN: Doctor William Schaffner, with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, thanks very much.

SCHAFFNER: Miles, good to be with you.

M. O'BRIEN: In a moment, the top stories, including former House majority leader, Tom DeLay announcing he's leaving Congress.

New genocide charges filed against Saddam Hussein. We're live in Baghdad.

A jury rules Zacarias Moussaoui is eligible for the death penalty.

French teachers, students and transit workers hope to end a youth job law once and for all.

And assessing the damage from killer tornadoes in Tennessee. Twenty-three dead, hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed.

Stay with us for more AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. A surprise this morning from the embattled Congressman Tom DeLay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM DELAY (R), TEXAS: I have no regrets today and no doubts. I am proud of the past. I am at peace with the present.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: With that, he is stepping away from his seat for good. We're live with more on this developing story.

Also this.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Aneesh Raman in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein facing new charges this morning, including for the first time the crime of genocide. That story coming up.

S. O'BRIEN: The death penalty is now officially on the table as the only man charged in the U.S. in connection with 9/11 enters the next penalty phase.

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