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Allegations of Murder at Hands of U.S. Military; Indianapolis Police Searching for Suspect in Late Night Killing of Seven People

Aired June 2, 2006 - 08:00   ET


SUMI DAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Sumi Das at Camp Pendleton.
Allegations of murder at the hands of the U.S. military.

When can we expect charges?

I'll tell you, coming up.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kathleen Koch at the Pentagon.

How did the Haditha deaths go uninvestigated by the U.S. military for months?

I'll explain, after this.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Indianapolis police are searching for a suspect in the late night killing of seven people. Three children are among those shot execution style.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: In Afghanistan, a spring offensive underway. The Taliban on the offensive.

Barbara Starr is there with an exclusive look at the U.S. fight to win over Afghanistan.




S. O'BRIEN: Urstrache, that's how you spell it.

What does it mean?

That girl right there is the big winner. We're going to introduce you to this young lady, who's walked away the queen bee this morning, just ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: Good morning to you.

I'm Miles O'Brien.

S. O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien.

Let's begin, though, with new developments to tell you about involving U.S. troops in Iraq.

A source says that murder charges are likely to be filed against several Marines in the Iraqi civilian. That incident occurred on April 26th. It took place west of Baghdad, near the City of Hamandiyah.

This is different, independent of the investigations into the November deaths of 24 Iraqis allegedly killed by Marines in Haditha.

And there are new reports this morning of a third incident in March -- the killing of 11 Iraqis being blamed on U.S. troops in Ishaqi.

For more on all these incidents, we've got Kathleen Koch.

She's standing by for us at the Pentagon.

Sumi Das, this morning, is at Camp Pendleton, which is outside of San Diego -- Sumi, let's begin with you.

You're going to tell us about the incident at Hamandiyah.

What do you know?

DAS: Well, what we know is that military prosecutors will likely file charges of murder against several Marines accused of the shooting incident that took place in Hamandiyah -- that's west of Baghdad -- on April 26th. According -- that according to a source close to the investigation who is familiar with the investigation. That person has also told us that somewhere around seven Marines are involved.

Now, according to the Associated Press, the defense attorney for one of the Marines says that in addition to murder, the charges will also include kidnapping and conspiracy, and that seven Marines, as well as one Navy corpsman, will be charged with those charges.

S. O'BRIEN: So, murder charges. When do we expect to hear them?

DAS: Well, according to Sullivan, Jeremiah Sullivan, the defense attorney for one of the Marines, he has said that those documents could be given to the men accused as early as today.

But our source, our source has told CNN that he doubts the charges will be filed on Friday.

Now, we have been in close contact with the spokespeople here at Camp Pendleton and they have told us that the investigation is still ongoing and no charges have been preferred. And he's also told us -- this is Lieutenant Lawton King -- he's also told us that several Marines have been placed in pre-trial confinement and several have been placed on pre-trial base restriction -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Sumi Das at Camp Pendleton for us this morning. Sumi, thanks.

Let's get to Kathleen Koch now at the Pentagon -- Kathleen -- actually, she's going to join us with her report in just a little bit -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: To Haditha now, site of that alleged Marine massacre. Two dozen civilians, women and children, killed there. There are two investigations underway. One is looking at what happened during the killings, the other what happened afterward.

Was there, in fact, a cover-up?

And that does bring us to Kathleen Koch -- Kathleen, good morning.

KOCH: Good morning, Miles.

And, yes, Pentagon officials familiar with the investigation say that when it comes to that probe into whether or not there was a cover-up, what will be found by the investigation is that the Marines involved allegedly passed on false information to their superiors. And then those superiors failed to really adequately scrutinize the information they were given by the Marines.

According to the sources, another issue is that other Marines uninvolved in the initial incident who came later to document the scene, remove the bodies, and, in some cases, even photograph the bodies, that those Marines, though obviously they saw something different with their very own eyes than what was being reported as the cause of the deaths, which was the initial report that they were all killed in a roadside bomb explosion, they failed to pass on that information, failed to challenge the initial reports, the official story.

Now, the "Washington Post" is reporting this morning that there is now going to be a request to perhaps exhume some of the bodies as part of the investigation, to gather forensic information, things about -- like the caliber of the bullets, the angle of the shots, to help determine what happened -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Kathleen, give us a sense -- what do we know about what the Iraqi reaction has been to all of this?

KOCH: Well, understandably, Miles, anger and resentment are beginning to build. Because of that, the Iraqi government has launched its own investigation. It says that it will ask for the U.S. investigation files on this. And Iraq's prime minister spoke out rather angrily yesterday, calling the killings a horrible crime. Saying when it comes to these alleged abuses by -- of civilians by the U.S. military that "they crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable."

So though the U.S. military does insist these are isolated incidents, this is fast becoming a P.R. nightmare for the U.S. military -- Miles. M. O'BRIEN: Kathleen Koch at the Pentagon.

Thank you very much.

And now there is word of a third alleged massacre and another investigation. This is new video we have coming in now to CNN, the aftermath of eleven deaths in Ishaqi on March 15th. Ishaqi north of Baghdad. Some of the pictures are frankly too disturbing to show you here this morning. Iraqi police say civilians were rounded up and killed by U.S. forces. Original reports from the U.S. military said four were killed in a building collapse in this particular incident.

The Pentagon's response to these incidents -- all U.S. troops in Iraq will be given "core values" training.

Just ahead, we're going to talk to a former Army colonel who's given this kind of training. We'll talk about what it's all about and why that is happening right now in the midst of what's happening in Iraq -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: A developing investigation to tell you about in Indianapolis.

Police are looking for a 28-year-old man in connection with the shooting deaths of four adults and three children last night. Witnesses tell police that a second man could also be involved.

Reporter Russia McQuaid of CNN affiliate WXIN has details for us this morning.


RUSS MCQUAID, WXIN CORRESPONDENT: Indianapolis police are investigating the murders of seven people here on the city's East Side. I'll step out of the way as you take a look at this house on Hamilton Avenue, where seven people, the Emma Valdez family, ages 56 all the way down to 5-years-old, were found shot to death Thursday night.

A witness tells me that at about 10:00 he saw a woman run-up to the front porch of that house screaming. When she got to that front door, she was dragged inside that house by her assailant. Perhaps 10 or 12 gunshots rang out. That's when officers responded.

At this point, they know who they're looking for. They're looking for a man who literally grew up in this neighborhood. His name is Desmond Turner. And we heard from Indianapolis Police Chief Mike Spears that he should be considered armed and dangerous.


CHIEF MICHAEL T. SPEARS, INDIANAPOLIS POLICE: It's helpful to get this out to the public. Someone knows where this man is and we want to know. And I would suggest to anyone who knows where Mr. Turner is, that they treat him as armed and dangerous.


MCQUAID: Chief Spears says investigators are also looking for a second suspect. We do not have his name yet at this time. It looks like this case started out as a home invasion robbery and became very violent, perhaps the most violent mass killing in the history of the City of Indianapolis.

I'm Russia McQuaid.


M. O'BRIEN: Now to Afghanistan and a story you will see only on CNN. The spring Taliban offensive is underway and the U.S. is doing its best to thwart it.

Barbara Starr is there and she has an exclusive look at the man in charge.


BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry goes walking through the City of Khowst in eastern Afghanistan, he attracts a huge crowd. Everyone wants to know who is the big man in the American military uniform.

Look closely. Eikenberry has no armored vest, no helmet, no weapon. His security is discrete.

LT. GEN. KARL EIKENBERRY, U.S. ARMY: How are you doing?


STARR: This three star commander is now facing a changing situation in Afghanistan. In many places, like here in the highly conservative area of Khowst, once an al Qaeda stronghold, there is relative peace.

EIKENBERRY: How is the -- how's the security?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Thanks to god, everything is OK. The security situation is very good in Khowst Province.

STARR: But in some areas, the Taliban are back, especially in rural areas, where the new government is almost non-existent and U.S. military forces have not yet, after four-and-a-half years, conducted significant operations.

(on camera): What's the part of the country that concerns you the most right now?

EIKENBERRY: Taliban influence in some of these districts in the south, in Helmand Province, in Kandahar Province, in Uruzgan Province. It's in some of those areas, Barbara, that there is more Taliban influence and presence than there was last year at this time. STARR (voice-over): But even as he plans operations against a resurgent Taliban, this general, who is on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, says it is reconstruction, aid and jobs for Afghans that will defeat the Taliban, and not U.S. military power.

EIKENBERRY: It's about building schools. It's about building health clinics. It's about what has taken place in this city, right here in Khowst. It's about creating the conditions so that a civil society can begin to take shape.

STARR: But make no mistake, this military commander is determined the people of Afghanistan will have peace and his troops will keep after the Taliban until they are defeated.

Barbara Starr, CNN, Khowst, Afghanistan.


S. O'BRIEN: It's nine minutes past the hour.

Let's get a check of the forecast this morning.

Chad has got that.

He's at the CNN Center for us this morning -- hey, Chad.



M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, the new queen of the national spelling bee. Her name is Katharine Close, the first girl to win the bee in seven years. She'll tell us how she spells success.

S. O'BRIEN: It starts with a "U" is how she spells it.

Also ahead this morning, a little controversy over the latest addition to Monaco's royal family. We're going to tell you what Prince Albert has to say about a 14-year-old girl in California.

M. O'BRIEN: And later, a "Fraiser" fur -- "Frasier" gets furry.

We'll ask Kelsey Grammer about his turn as beast in the box office smash, "X-Men: The Last Stand."

Do you recognize him there?

There he is.

S. O'BRIEN: It looks just like him.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, that's "Frasier" under there.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) S. O'BRIEN: A story now you're going to see only on CNN.

CNN's Ben Wedeman had a chance to tour a factory where Palestinian militants make rockets that are launched against Israel. It meant being blindfolded and then taken along with the militants.

Here's a look at his report this morning.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a nondescript hovel somewhere in Gaza, masked men mix a witches' brew of chemicals. This is a rocket workshop, where members of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, under strict secrecy, go about their deadly business.

To get to the workshop, we changed cars three times, riding in one with the group's gunman. We were blindfolded in the last one.

The chief engineer, masked to protect his identity, goes by the name of Ahmed.

With chilling professionalism, he explains how they melt aluminum to make the rocket's components; how they mix the toxic ingredients for the propellant in this basin. "One of our guys was killed by these chemicals," he says.

The mixture is then put in plastic tubs to dry in the sun. Eventually, it becomes a fine white powder. "Abu Ahmed" declines to say what they use to make the propellant "because the enemy is always on the lookout to stop us getting the materials," he tells me.

The powder is heated and stirred over a fire until it turns into a gritty paste.

(on camera): The group says they can make as many as 50 rockets a week and ironically almost all of the raw materials they use come from Israel.

(voice-over): For extra lethal effect, they pack parcels of metal shards into the warhead. One of these rockets recently crashed into a school classroom in the Israeli town of Sderot. It would have resulted in a massacre had the students been in the room at the time.

These are crude weapons, without guidance systems, designed to inflict maximum casualties. Fired on a daily basis, they don't differentiate between soldier and civilian.

The Israeli Army says Palestinian groups have fired more than 5,000 rockets in the last six years, killing 13 civilians and two soldiers in the past two years.

In a nearby grove, the rocket unit's leader, Halled Jabadi (ph), brushed off the savagery of targeting innocent civilians. "We will rain down more rockets on the Israelis," he vows, "until they pressure their government to leave our land." The Israeli Army regularly bombards areas from where the rockets are fired, hitting northern Gaza, with more than 5,000 rounds so far this year. At least six Palestinians have been killed by the shelling, according to Palestinian medical sources.

Both sides are paying a high price for this rain of rockets.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Gaza.


S. O'BRIEN: Ben Wedeman joins us live.

He's in Cairo this morning -- Ben, when members of the Al-Aqsa Military Brigade say to you we're going to blindfold you and take you along with us, what makes you, as a journalist, say oh, OK, I'll go with you?

WEDEMAN: Well, you know, that's something you really have to think hard about because, in fact, I was involved, in September 2004 in a kidnapping. One of our producers, Riad Ali, was kidnapped at the time. And I really started to wonder about what I was doing, that maybe I was getting a little too close to this story.

But, on the other hand, I trusted the guy who helped us set the interview up, set up the visit. And we went ahead. But I won't deny that I was a little worried when I had to slip that black hood over my head -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, I won't deny that I was worried as I was watching it on videotape, even knowing I was going to get a chance to chat with you live afterward.

A quick question for you. You focus on this rocket.

Is that among the worst weapons that the Palestinian militants have? Or are there others that are even worse?

WEDEMAN: Well, you know, they've really been working for quite some time on improving the range and the accuracy of these missiles. But, really, they're quite crude.

What has Israeli defense officials particularly worried about is that other Russian made missiles are being smuggled into Gaza through Egypt. These Russian made missiles, DRADS (ph), are otherwise known as Katyushas, which are .122 millimeter missiles with ranges of up to 30 kilometers, or 18 miles, would really represent a much more severe danger to large Israeli cities like Ashkelon, which are right up the coast from Gaza.

So it's not necessarily homemade missiles that has people worried, but those smuggled missiles from, originally, Russia. Some people say they originate from Iran -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Ben Wedeman is in Cairo for us this morning.

Ben, thank you.

Ben, we should mention, is coming to us live via broadband technology.

Coming up this morning, an update on that wounded CBS reporter, Kimberly Dozier. We're going to tell you when she might be able to make her way home.

That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



CLOSE: Urstrache -- U-R-S-T-R-A-C-H-E, urstrache.



S. O'BRIEN: Oh, the crowd goes to its feet because she's won. With that word, urstrache, Katharine Close is champion of the word.

The 13-year-old from Spring Lake, New Jersey won the 2006 Scripps' national spelling bee on Thursday. It was televised for the first time in prime time.

M. O'BRIEN: We are so not W-O-R-T-H-Y.

The winning word, urstrache -- I have a difficult time even saying it. I believe it is English, however. It is of German origins, of course. It's German for very hard to spell, actually. It means, really, a parent language, especially one reconstructed from evidence about later languages.

And Katharine is our guest.

She actually likes to be called Karrie, right?

S. O'BRIEN: Hey, congratulations, Karrie.

Nice to see you.

Good morning.

CLOSE: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Can I ask you a couple of questions about this? Because this is what I'm wondering. Have you ever heard of that word before? Did you have the slightest idea what urstrache meant before it was given to you in the big contest?

CLOSE: I had studied it and I knew how to spell it, but I didn't know what it meant or anything like that.

S. O'BRIEN: You studied it? M. O'BRIEN: How did you get to that far in the dictionary?

Did you get to the Us?

CLOSE: Yes, I did get -- I went through the whole dictionary, all, so.

M. O'BRIEN: Really?

How long did it take you to do that?

CLOSE: About four or five months.

M. O'BRIEN: Really?

S. O'BRIEN: Wow!

M. O'BRIEN: Unabridged? Four or five months, every word in the dictionary?

CLOSE: Yes. I probably don't know anywhere near like all the words in the dictionary, but I tried.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, there are some easy ones, you know, cat, dog...


S. O'BRIEN: That's what Miles and I like to work on, the nice, simple ones.

M. O'BRIEN: One syllable words.

S. O'BRIEN: But we've got to show the tape again, because the reaction that you had when you won, once you finished spelling the word -- roll the tape, guys. It's just priceless. It is so cute.

CLOSE: Thank you.


CLOSE: Urstrache -- U-R-S-T-R-A-C-H-E, urstrache.



M. O'BRIEN: So you knew you had it nailed, didn't you?


M. O'BRIEN: You knew it?

CLOSE: Yes, I did. I was just relieved when I heard the word, because that I knew that I knew how to spell it.


So were you -- tell me about that moment, because you went like this -- oh, I've won! I've won!

I mean what was that like?

CLOSE: I was just ecstatic because I had just -- I had never considered that like I could possibly win. And when I did, it was just amazing.

S. O'BRIEN: Really?


M. O'BRIEN: Oh, come on. You must have thought -- you've been...

S. O'BRIEN: You've been in it.

M. O'BRIEN: What, this is your seventh appearance, right?

S. O'BRIEN: Five times in the finals, right?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: And the last time you were in seventh place, which is pretty darned close.

Why did you think you'd never win?

CLOSE: It's just so hard and it's like all luck of the draw. You can study very hard and get a word that's -- you don't know. So I was very lucky to get words that I did know.

S. O'BRIEN: You're so modest. She's blaming -- you know, if Miles and I ever won...

M. O'BRIEN: She is.

Aw, shucks.

S. O'BRIEN: ... we'd be like we're the best! We're the best!

You had a little drama in the middle of this competition, right? Because I know there was a competitor who was ousted. The judges said she spelled the word wrong and then it turned out that they were wrong and she was brought back in.

M. O'BRIEN: That's a -- has that ever happened, by the way?

CLOSE: Not while I was here so.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow!

S. O'BRIEN: So, what was that like? Was it sort of, did it kind of throw you off your concentration to have somebody who was out suddenly back in?

CLOSE: No. But it was pretty -- it was -- I've never seen that. It was like pretty -- it was exciting because like it just added to the drama of the night.

M. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you this, Karrie.

The -- it was carried live on ABC last night, a prime time program. You've got a Broadway play which talks about this. You've got "Akeelah and The Bee." There's a lot of interest in these spelling bees.

How do you explain it?

CLOSE: I don't really know why it got popular. I guess it's more like an Americana thing, like it's a tradition and it is like -- it is like, in its own way, exciting. So I guess that's why it's so popular.

S. O'BRIEN: I love the drama. I love the drama. I mean, sorry, you know, because I'm sure it's a very nerve-wracking moment for you, because you're participating.


S. O'BRIEN: But for the rest of us, to watch people sit there and concentrate and think about this one little word that most of us have never even heard of is just pretty -- pretty darned fun-to watch, frankly.

Let me ask you a question.

Knowing that it was being televised in prime time, did that add to the pressure? Did it make you more nervous?

CLOSE: No, because I just tried to concentrate on spelling my words correctly as opposed to the cameras and the prime time and things like that.

M. O'BRIEN: So you just stay -- you're -- you've got a good ability to focus then.

You must have had some butterflies, though, right?

CLOSE: Yes, I was very nervous.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: I know you've got some words -- she wants to quiz us.

M. O'BRIEN: No, no, no.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, she does.

M. O'BRIEN: A bad idea. A very bad idea. S. O'BRIEN: Do you have words for us?

No, no. Not me. Quiz Miles.


S. O'BRIEN: Because I think that would be a lot of fun.

M. O'BRIEN: This is so unfair.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it is, isn't it?

M. O'BRIEN: I didn't see this in the research.

S. O'BRIEN: Have you got some, Karrie?

Is that right?

CLOSE: Yes, I do have some words for u.

S. O'BRIEN: OK. So throw -- throw -- look at them, both of those words, throw the hard one to Miles and give the easy one to me.



S. O'BRIEN: OK, Miles, you're first.

CLOSE: Gobemouche.

M. O'BRIEN: Gobemouche. Origin, please?

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, stop stalling for time.

M. O'BRIEN: Can you use it in a sentence, please?

S. O'BRIEN: He's just stalling, Karrie. He has no idea how to spell the word.

M. O'BRIEN: I had a husky team and I told them to gobemouche.

G-E-A-U-M-O-U-C-H-E, French origin.

CLOSE: No. It's...

S. O'BRIEN: It has a "B" in there.

M. O'BRIEN: There's a "B?" I didn't...

S. O'BRIEN: Gobemouche.

M. O'BRIEN: ... hear that pronounced the "B."

S. O'BRIEN: It's a fly swallower, a dupe, gobemouche.

M. O'BRIEN: My dog...

S. O'BRIEN: It's right there.

M. O'BRIEN: My dog is a gobemouche...

S. O'BRIEN: Duh, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: ... because he likes flies.

S. O'BRIEN: Duh.


S. O'BRIEN: All right, Karrie.

Have you got one for me, Karrie?

Is it an easy one? Remember, you promised.

CLOSE: It depends on what you think is easy.


S. O'BRIEN: Cucullate. That would be spelled...

M. O'BRIEN: Simple.

S. O'BRIEN: Q-U-E-C-U-L-L-Y, cucullate.

M. O'BRIEN: You're not allowed to write it down.

S. O'BRIEN: It's a vegetable.

M. O'BRIEN: You can't write it down.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, I'm not allowed to write it down?

M. O'BRIEN: No, no, no.

S. O'BRIEN: Sorry.

It's a vegetable. Oh, not even close, C-U-C-U-L-L-A-T-E, having the shape of a hood. OK. I hate that word. I'd never use that word.

M. O'BRIEN: All right...

S. O'BRIEN: Karrie, well, obviously, you have no competition from us.


M. O'BRIEN: We know how to spell loser, that's for sure.

CLOSE: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, congratulations, Karrie. Great work.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, terrific work.

CLOSE: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: You're in D.C. this morning.

When do you get to come back to New Jersey?

You're going to spend a little time in D.C. seeing the sights.

CLOSE: I'm going to come back on Saturday.

S. O'BRIEN: OK. Good for u.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, thanks for that.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Katharine.

CLOSE: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm sure there will be a hero's welcome there.

S. O'BRIEN: Absolutely.

Congratulations to you, Katharine Close, the 2006 national spelling bee champion.

M. O'BRIEN: We didn't ask her how she was going to spend the $42,000.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, you know, we forgot. We had so much to ask her.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, coming up, actor Kelsey Grammer feeling a little blue these days. Actually, more than a little blue. He's big and blue. He's playing "Beast" in the new hit movie "X-Men: The Last Stand."

We'll ask him what it's like to go from Frasier Crane to mutant superhero ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



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