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AMERICAN MORNING

Terrorism Plot Thwarted in Toronto; Over 50 Kidnapped in Baghdad; Renewed Calls for Rumsfeld's Resignation Amid Haditha Scandal

Aired June 5, 2006 - 08:30   ET

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


(NEWSBREAK)
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN "Security Watch" this morning, Muslim leaders in Canada saying they're relieved that an alleged terrorism plot has been thwarted. Several buildings in Toronto said to be on a bombing list.

CNN homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve joins us with more on this particular case. Nice to see you. Good morning.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. The 17 arrested are residents of Canada and officials say their targets were Canadian. But their arrests are causing concern on both sides of the border.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a wake-up call, for sure.

MESERVE (voice-over): If many Canadians were floored at the prospect of terrorists targeting their country, a few were not. Kim Bastarache says she has suspicions about her neighbor Kyum Adbul Jamal (ph), who was among those arrested.

KIM BASTARACHE, NEIGHBOR: No. I knew they were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You knew they were what?

BASTARACHE: Terrorists. He seemed like he was a terrorism person from the day one he moved in.

MESERVE: Jamal was said by some Muslims in the Toronto suburb of Missasauga (ph) to have taken control of a local mosque.

TAREK FATAH, MUSLIM CANADIAN CONGRESS: Throws the old guard out, and takes it over, and turns a really moderate mosque into a very conservative, radical place which excluded a whole lot of other Muslims, including those who had founded it. s

MESERVE: Another Toronto mosque was vandalized over the weekend, leaving the chief of police to appear with Muslim leaders and plead for calm.

CHIEF BILL BLAIR, TORONTO POLICE: Justice will be done. And in the interim, I hope that we can all work together to maintain the respect and trust and peace of our communities.

MESERVE: The 17 suspects are being held under tight security after being rounded up Friday night. Canadian authorities say they acquired three tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate and had what appeared to be detonators. The alleged targets, all in Ontario.

An attorney for two of the suspects called the charges "vague."

ROCCO GALATI, LAWYER: His family's well established, well -- long-standing residents and citizens of Canada for the past 50 years.

MESERVE: But U.S. lawmakers are concerned.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: We got a longer border with Canada than we do with Mexico. We got thousands of trucks that come in every day. Many of them -- most of them not inspected.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Canadian authorities describe those arrested as "al Qaeda inspired," but an U.S. counterterrorism official confirms that the men taken into custody did have contact with terrorist suspects in the U.S. and in Britain -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Is this only the beginning, then, of this investigation? If they've tracked them to Britain and tracked them to the U.S., where there obviously had been terror attacks, are they concerned that this is a much wider ring than what they've nabbed already?

MESERVE: Well, we don't really know the answer to that question. Canadian authorities have indicated that no other arrests are imminent, but U.S. authorities say they're still in very close contact with the Canadians, discussing what they found. We don't know exactly where it will lead from here.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, I bet they are. All right, Jeanne Meserve for us. Nice to see you. Thanks, Jeanne.

MESERVE: Thanks.

S. O'BRIEN: You want to stay with CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Check back on the weather. Rob Marciano, who's at the Georgia Aquarium today. The honeymooners are there, Ralph and Alice, Trixie (ph) and Orton (ph). They've all been united.

And Rob, how do you know -- how will they know if they're getting along?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, that's an excellent question. And we've brought in the experts, actually. I want to bring in the executive director of the Georgia Aquarium right now, Jeffrey Swanagan. This is an exciting day for you, isn't it? JEFFREY SWANAGAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGIA AQUARIUM: Oh, unbelievable, unbelievable. It's history making for the aquarium.

MARCIANO: So let's just recap what's happened. We had two male whale sharks a year ago. Now we've brought in two females.

SWANAGAN: Exactly 365 days.

MARCIANO: There's one of them. Look at that.

SWANAGAN: Absolutely. If pan over here, you'll see Trixie. And, you know, the other one, of course, is named Alice. And they're doing very well. But, you know, to be honest with you, the answer to the question that was asked in the studio, they're only young teenagers. They're under ten. So they're kind of not really interested in each other just yet. It will be many, many years before they're able to really begin to show more interest.

MARCIANO: And what would that be? I mean, do they start, like, holding fins? Do they whisper to each other in the gills? I mean, what happens?

SWANAGAN: This is the fun part. Nobody knows. No one in the history of science has observed whale shark breeding. And only in the, you know, the recent years have we understood that they even have like 300 babies and they keep the eggs in the body. So this is new ground. This will be maybe the first time we see whale shark courtship behavior.

MARCIANO: Well, that's exciting. Let's put this in perspective. I mean, how big a deal is it to have these four whale sharks now in the Georgia Aquarium?

SWANAGAN: Well, these are the only ones in North America. And our team, led by Ray Davis (ph) and Tim Binder (ph), we've spent a lot of time in Japan and in Taiwan. In Japan, they have a lot more experience with this. You know, the United States, we have 45 aquariums. In Japan, there's over 165 aquariums. So we were able to learn from the Japanese and from the Taiwanese, who were most helpful in making this all happen.

MARCIANO: Now, in a humanitarian or at least PETA-friendly environment, these fish were literally going to be sold for seafood.

SWANAGAN: Yes, they would have been eaten. And that was true of the males, too. And, you know, in many countries, fishing -- you know, island countries like Taiwan -- fishing is a normal part of their way of life. It's just like us with dairy farms and things like that. It's just a -- theirs are in the water. So agriculture has been a big thing for them, and fishing industry.

But they were wonderful to work with and they asked us, you know -- we basically approached them and said, you know, if you find some small ones would you mind not eating them? And they said, fine. And they were really wonderful with work with. And they -- this goes against their allotment. They don't then get to go out and catch more. So in a way, we really are saving these animals.

MARCIANO: And I assume you probably paid market price for them or somewhere close?

SWANAGAN: Well, probably much, much more because they required a lot of care and a lot of wonderful fishermen helped us. But this is a great testimony to Bernie Marcus (ph), who's the founder of the aquarium, the co-founder of Home Depot. This was his great dream and vision, that we would someday have two females and two males and perhaps down the road maybe, you know, more than five years or so, that we would be able to announce -- here's one of the big males coming by us right now.

MARCIANO: These are decidedly larger than the females. By about how much at this point?

SWANAGAN: Oh, significantly. The female -- the biggest female right now is 15.5. These males are approaching 20 feet. But when they came in -- this is interesting -- when they came in, they were the same size as the females. So they've gained a lot of weight in one year. They're getting really good at...

(CROSSTALK)

MARCIANO: Miles, do you want to jump in to the pool or do you want to just...

M. O'BRIEN: I'm totally fascinated, Jeff, by the fish that surf on the bow wake of these big whale sharks. Tell us about those little fish right in thei...

SWANAGAN: Yes, I've taken all...

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm surprised they're not worried about becoming lunch.

MARCIANO: Yes. Are they scared at all? I mean, what are they doing?

SWANAGAN: Well, the little golden trivali (ph) that are swimming in front of the whale shark are like a bow wave of a boat. They're getting a free ride. They're just being pushed along the exhibit, and they kind of get some added protection because none of the biggest predators are going to bother them as long as they're swimming with the big fish in the tank. So it's a really smart idea.

Now, occasionally, I have actually seen our bigger whale sharks while they're feeding eat nothing but krill and little silversides in the diet we give them. I've seen them actually suck in one of the little golden trivali and then they spit them out harmlessly.

M. O'BRIEN: Really?

MARCIANO: So it's kind of like getting free ride? It's kind of like what Miles is doing with Soledad, getting a free ride off her talent. SWANAGAN: Come on down, we'll put you in the water. We'll put you in the water.

MARCIANO: I'm just teasing.

SWANAGAN: No, come on down.

MARCIANO: You know, I just saw -- I just saw some divers...

SWANAGAN: Yes.

MARCIANO: ... head into the water. Is this an everyday occurrence? Are -- is this first time that Trixie and Alice received divers?

SWANAGAN: Yes, it is. I mean, last night -- I think it was last night -- when we first put them in -- it's been so many days that we've been up. But the divers were in the water with them and now this is the first time after they've had 24 hours to settle that they're going to see divers again. And we do that every day. We put divers in and we got a lot of work to do. It's a really, really large exhibit. So, you really -- Soledad, come on down.

S. O'BRIEN: I would love it.

MARCIANO: There you go, Soledad. That's a personal invite to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'll take you up on that. Although I do think Rob just called me a whale shark.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: A metaphor there. He called me a whale!

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm a little yellowfish.

MARCIANO: Clearly a metaphor.

M. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: Now I'm in trouble.

S. O'BRIEN: That's so beautiful. You know, Miles and I will be the people to come and we'll get in the tank, too, right?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I think we should do that.

S. O'BRIEN: AMERICAN MORNING, live from underwater.

M. O'BRIEN: I like that.

S. O'BRIEN: We could do that.

M. O'BRIEN: I like that idea.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Rob.

Still to come this morning, some new hope to tell you about for women who have got breast cancer. We're going to tell you about some cutting edge treatments that can specifically target cancer cells. Could prevent them from spreading, too. That's ahead as we continue right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: This just into CNN. Word of a sophisticated apparently coordinated attempt and successful attempt thus far to kidnap 50 people at three transportation companies. We're told by the authorities in central Baghdad that kidnappers dressed as Iraqi interior ministry officials in 13 vehicles targeted three transportation companies there, kidnapping upwards of 50 people on a bus, in one case that was set to travel either Syria or Jordan.

The official in the prime minister's office is telling CNN there was no interior minister operation of this sort that was going on at that time. So apparently there is some sort of a kidnapping that has occurred. Once again, 13 vehicles raided. The people who were doing the raiding passing themselves off as Iraqi police commandos, wearing full uniforms. Their vehicles with the markings that those types of police commandos would have.

So, we're tracking this right now. Obviously, an investigation is under way, trying to find out what's next in all of this. We'll keep you posted.

Allegations that the U.S. troops deliberately killed Iraqi civilians in Haditha have renewed the call for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign.

Our White House correspondent Ed Henry has more on all of this. Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Miles, good morning.

Again, it's been weeks since we talked about Secretary Rumsfeld's job status, but all of a sudden, given these allegations from Haditha, he is feeling the heat once again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice-over): Democratic Joe Biden, a likely presidential candidate, declared the blame for Haditha goes all the way up the chain of command to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: He should be gone. He shouldn't be in his office tomorrow morning. When you make serious mistakes, you step forward and you acknowledge them and you walk away.

HENRY: Retired Major General John Batiste also charged that the even though the investigation is not complete...

MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE, U.S. ARMY (RET).: I, however, see a direct link between Haditha, the national embarrassment of Abu Ghraib, going on four years now of uncontrollable chaos in Iraq with the bad judgment, poor decisions of our secretary of defense back in late 2003 and 2004.

HENRY: Biden and Batiste have previously called for Rumsfeld to resign, and the defense secretary shows no signs of stepping down. A Pentagon spokesman could not be reached for comment, but another retired general said there should not be a rush to judgment.

MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): In my opinion, it's absolutely wrong, in the face of Haditha, before you know what's gone on, to call for the resignation of anybody. And also, then -- put in this perspective, do you fire the police chief every time one of his officers does something wrong? No.

HENRY: But there's growing pressure on the Bush administration over the November incident, in which the marines initially reported 15 Iraqi civilians died in a roadside bomb. A later report suggested the victims may have been caught in a fire fight. Military investigators now strongly suspect a small number of marines went on a rampage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This looks like, from all appearances, a real massacre. There's a -- finally an investigation that is taking place. But there's also the real possibility of a coverup here.

HENRY: Top Bush officials are vowing to get to the bottom of the allegation.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are going to be certain that there is a thorough investigation of any of these incidents. We are going to protect the rights of the accused so that there is due process. And, then, there will be action taken, given the outcome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Secretary Rice added that most American soldiers are serving with honor and dignity, a fact she noted that cannot be lost in all of these investigations -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Ed Henry at the White House, thank you very much.

Let's get back to that story we told you just about a moment ago, a developing story out of Iraq. Gunmen kidnapping at least 50 people. Those gunmen dressed as if they were Iraqi commandos, had vehicles which matched what the Iraqi commandos would use. The interior ministry saying there was no official operation underway at the time.

CNN's John Vause in Baghdad watching this for us. John, what do we know?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Miles.

Well, it seems that they were driving about 13 cars, they pulled up outside these transportation companies, all together in downtown Baghdad. They basically grabbed anybody they could. At least 50 people, we're being told. They took drivers, they took office workers. They even dragged people, passengers who were heading by bus to either Syria or Jordan. They were dragged off the buses, as well. There was even some reports that a local tea vendor was taken, as well. Kidnapped in all of this, the head of one of the largest transportation companies here in Iraq. His two sons were also taken, as well. Also, two foreign workers from Syria.

This seems to have been a very well planned, very coordinated operation. It took more than an hour, so the Iraqi police were nowhere to be seen while this kidnapping was ongoing. There was a lot of conflicting information around the time that maybe this was some kind of official raid being carried out by Iraqi forces. But we've been speaking with the prime minister's office over the last couple of minutes, and they have confirmed that there was no official operation under way at the time -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: It's interesting, John, because, you know, you would think, why didn't they call the police? But everybody thought the police were there. Do we know, given the context of all of the sectarian violence we've seen there, were these people largely Shiite or largely Sunni? Do we know what that -- the answer to that question at this point?

VAUSE: At this stage, we don't know where these people were from, who -- whether they were Shiite, Sunnis or Kurd. I mean, as you said, there has been a lot of sectarian violence between the Shiites and the Sunnis. It's increased a lot over the weekend, over the last couple of days. As to this particular incident, at this stage, we just don't know -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: And do we know how they got the vehicles, the uniforms, any of that? I know it's early in this investigation.

VAUSE: Yes. Well, the uniforms, that's an easy one. You can go to Baghdad to a market here, it's called the thieves' market, and you can practically buy anything you want. An off-the-rack fake Iraqi police uniform will cost about $25. If you want one tailor-made, it will cost you $100. In fact, the problem's gotten so bad, the Iraqi government a few months ago announced that they were going to reissue all of the Iraqi police uniforms. It was meant to happen this month to make them harder to copy. And that obviously hasn't happened yet, or didn't do much in this case -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, John Vause in Baghdad, thank you very much -- Soledad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Still to come on our program, our special series, "Paying the Price in the Heartland." AMERICAN MORNING's Dan Lothian is in Iowa. Hello, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles. Hello. I am on a tractor on a farm in Adel (ph), Iowa, where we're talking to a farmer about how a high cost of fuel has impacted his operation. Not just talking to farmers, though, but across the heartland, talking to a truck driver who has to tweak his truck, tweak the engine so that it can be more efficient. He's being a little pickier about the kinds of loads that he's carrying in order to save some money.

Also talking to rural commuters who have to travel hundreds of miles each week to get to work from their homes and they're obviously seeing a spike in their fuel costs. So it's especially difficult for them.

It's what we're taking a look at all this week, "Paying the Price in the Heartland," on AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Dan Lothian. What, no overalls for you? We should have got you a set of overalls there. All right. We'll see you in a bit. Oh, I think we lost him.

In a moment, top stories, including the president pushes for an constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The Senate will debate the idea this afternoon.

Utah guardsmen take up positions along the U.S./Mexico border there, the vanguard of the president's border fortification operation.

The Pentagon promising a thorough investigation into the alleged marine massacre in Haditha, Iraq. The military vowing there won't be a rush to judgment.

The next step in cancer treatments.

And a really big surprise for the only whale sharks in North America. Now they have a couple of playmates. In the context of what we were just talking about with the "Playboy" playmates kind of thing.

SERWER: Or is that Rob Marciano?

M. O'BRIEN: No, no. Rob's not going to the tank. We're live from the Georgia Aquarium, with the star attractions and their new lady friends. Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, we talk to Mia Farrow, the actress. Tomorrow's very scary date, 666. Mia Farrow's launching a new movie. This one could be scarier than her 38-year-old classic "Rosemary's Baby." Stay with us. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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