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AMERICAN MORNING

Al-Zarqawi's Victims; "On the Couch"; Life After Work; New Zawahiri Tape

Aired June 9, 2006 - 08:30   ET

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


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Parts of Iraq under curfew today. Iraqi police helping enforce a temporary traffic ban in Baghdad. You see some empty streets here in the Diyala Province, the area northeast of Baghdad where Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed. Authorities are trying to prevent possible retaliation attacks for the killing.
Congress agreeing on nearly a $95 billion spending package. It's set to hit President Bush's desk by next week. The House and Senate agreed last night to earmark nearly $20 billion for Katrina recovery. Much of it going to flood control projects. $70.4 billion, 70.4, goes for defense spending. It boosts the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to nearly $400 billion. The rest of the funds will go to border security and Bird Flu.

A medical breakthrough that could save thousands of women, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a first of its kind vaccine against HPV. The virus causes most types of cervical cancers. It could be on the market within a month. There's also some controversy surrounding the vaccines. We'll get more details on that in the next hour from medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

Congressman William Jefferson says he is not going anywhere and he has support from the Congressional Black Caucus. It's upset with House Democratic leaders who are trying to get Jefferson booted from his seat on the Ways and Means Committee. Jefferson is under investigation for allegedly taking bribes.

And the power of flash flooding in Montana. A small creek becomes a raging river, completely taking out a farm in Brandenberg, Montana. Several feet of water and hail caused plenty of other damage.

Let's find out more from Rob Marciano.

Good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Carol.

There's a stationary front that's stationary. It's not moving anywhere. And little ripples of energy kind of go along it. And we expect to see same areas that got showers and thundershowers yesterday pretty much will see them again today.

(WEATHER REPORT)

That's the latest from the weather department.

Carol, back over to you.

COSTELLO: Thank you, -- Rob.

Before I toss it back to Miles and Soledad, I was looking through the papers this morning. And it is certainly a sign of the times, pictures of dead men that at one time would never appear on the front page or on television. But we live in a different world now, don't we?

On the covers of many newspapers, the image of Abu Musab al- Zarqawi surrounded by that rather ornate gold frame. Kind of looks like a picture frame you'd use to hang an oil painting of flowers in your living room. It shows just the head of the man who was said to have beheaded many.

This picture shown to prove Zarqawi's death. Officials can no longer count on everyone taking their word for it, even if they have DNA and fingerprint evidence. Of course, you can bet there are some who still won't believe it, despite those pictures.

But take a look at the New York tabloids this morning, because they're sending a far different message. This one is from the "Daily News." Close up and personal. It's grizzly.

But the "New York Post" catches you the most. There is the dead Zarqawi with a speech balloon saying, "Warm up the virgins." Obviously mocking what many Americans think every time they hear that faithful Muslim men are rewarded in paradise with 72 virgins.

And "The Washington Post" this morning, Philip Kenin pondered the question of what impact these pictures might have. He writes, "It proves, in an age of skepticism, that Zarqawi is indeed dead. But beyond that, the picture has little power. Indeed with so many images in this war, it is loaded with the potential to backfire."

As for if and how it backfires, I suspect, Miles and Soledad, we will know very soon.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Carol.

This morning, there are a lot of people in and out of Iraq justifiably rejoicing at seeing those pictures, at learning of the demise of a brutal mass murder. But we wonder what the people who lost loved ones at the hands of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are thinking today. Do they feel a measure of satisfaction knowing Zarqawi has met a violent end?

Let's check in with the family of Jack Hensley. You remember him, an American construction worker in Iraq. He was kidnapped and beheaded in Iraq two years ago now. His brother, Ty Hensley, joining us this morning from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Ty, good to have you with us this morning. Just want to get -- when you first heard about this, about 24 hours ago, what was your reaction?

TY HENSLEY, BROTHER OF AL-ZARQAWI VICTIM: I was at first I was kind of neutral about it but as the day progressed, I became very emotional about it. It seemed to help draw some things to an end. As far as rejoicing, I don't know that I had the kind of hopes that I would ever see this man brought to justice or removed from this earth.

But I believe that I was thankful that not only the military but the coalition effort, the agency, FBI, they really worked hard to find this man. And I have been kept up through my sister-in-law, Jack's wife, Patty, as to their progress and how much intelligence they actually had on all the events that surrounded my brother's death and the death of so many others.

M. O'BRIEN: Did they keep you posted on the hunt for Zarqawi?

HENSLEY: They did somewhat. They kept Jack's wife pretty informed as to how many of the guys in the videos that have been eliminated. And, what their progress was, to a certain degree. I believe they kept us informed as possible.

M. O'BRIEN: I don't know if yesterday you had a chance to see Soledad's interview with Michael Berg. He was interviewed later by Larry King, as well. This is the father of Nicholas Berg, another U.S. contractor who was beheaded.

HENSLEY: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: Who said, among other things, that he thinks that Zarqawi's death is a double tragedy. Quoting him now -- "His death will incite a new wave of revenge," he said. He went on to say some other things. He's also running for Congress in the Green Party in Delaware, too, just to let our viewers know.

HENSLEY: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: What were your thoughts when you heard that?

HENSLEY: They -- my thoughts were very pronounced, more so than what I'm going to share with you. But I think pain I felt somewhat responsible for Jack's death. I mean could we have talked him out of going or whatever? Could we have brought him back? I don't know that Michael Berg is -- has taken on that type of responsibility. It's easier for him to blame George Bush and others than to think.

I mean my father is certainly was one I could have listened to and if harm's way he saw he would have shared that with me. For me, Zarqawi had to be removed. I did not want another American or anyone to die, to remove Zarqawi or to arrest him. And I knew that was the thing. I may never get to talk to Zarqawi or yell at him. I don't care about what he has to say. So I -- you know, I'm just thankful.

Zarqawi has to be removed. He was going to continue to kill. He was going to continue to be brutal. When he in the beheading of my brother, that video, I don't know if folks -- and I didn't watch the actual beheading, but I watched the beginning of the video. You know he took pictures of my family, Jack's daughter, and put it in a video. Pictures of Jack with his friends. I mean, what kind of purpose is he trying to serve?

I mean he really made it personal with me and my family. And I knew there's nothing I could do about it. I was not going to get revenge, but I don't completely agree with Michael Berg. And yet you know I guess anyone can run for office if they want to.

M. O'BRIEN: Right. On the other point, though, because he takes it one step further and he levels some criticism at the administration. Do you share in that criticism at all?

HENSLEY: You know, all I know is with the information that I have, you know, the military has done a great job. They're doing all they can do. And I just don't have enough information to be critical of the administration at all. And that has not been my focus. Zarqawi made it more personal to me.

M. O'BRIEN: As you think about this moment, do you think it was -- the term closure is such a trite...

HENSLEY: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: I don't even want to use it. But is this, as part of the whole process of grieving, is this an important milestone for you and your family?

HENSLEY: I believe it is. Hopefully the media, this will be it, this, after talking with you, my life will go back to as close to normal as possible. The families have -- we've lost a lot of productive time trying to put out the fires. You know, Jack -- you know, the news that gets out there some of it's so misdirected and misguided. My brother, he never even made a six-figure income over there. It was not big money, he just went over to pay the bills.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

HENSLEY: He paid taxes, federal taxes, it was not tax free money. And as an American citizen, I feel that he was certainly entitled to a lot more than -- from our government than so many others seem to be getting from our government.

M. O'BRIEN: What do you mean?

HENSLEY: Well, I don't know of any workman's comp. I don't know of any stipend or anything to help the family. Nothing really at all. The government has done nothing, you know, even acknowledged. And you know I knew it was a political year, they wanted to sweep it under the rug. And that's probably why I went public early on was to make sure there would be some accountability to tracking down Zarqawi.

But you know he became a big figure and, you know, I guess part of the PR of winning this war and it is -- there is a PR battle to it, certainly. And so that -- I guess that gave him a high value for his target. M. O'BRIEN: Well keep us posted on that, will you? I know you probably don't want to be in the media limelight, but let us know how that effort goes. Ty Hensley, you and your family, we wish you the best. And we're sorry that a lot of old emotions were drudged up yesterday. Best do you.

HENSLEY: Well, thank you, -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Take care.

Back with more in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): She was a teenage model, a successful actor who was nominated for an Academy Award, but she is best known for the role as Dr. Jennifer Melfi, shrink to Tony Soprano on "The Sopranos." Her new memoir details her the time "On the Couch," and that's the name of Lorraine Bracco's new book. Lorraine Bracco joins us this morning.

It's nice to see you.

LORRAINE BRACCO, "THE SOPRANOS": Hi, -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: It's called "On the Couch." You start the book right smack in the middle of your depression, right?

BRACCO: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Right...

BRACCO: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: ... into it. And I thought your description was really, really interesting. You say some people want to kill themselves. Some people describe it as a big, dark hole. What was depression like for you?

BRACCO: I tried to describe it in two ways. One, I felt stagnant. Like I wasn't moving anywhere. I wasn't going forward. I wasn't going backwards. I wasn't being able to move in any direction. And then, it's like -- it was like a low-grade fever. It kind of never went away.

S. O'BRIEN: There all the time?

BRACCO: Yes. And you know, what I realized is that when everything was really good, I wasn't jumping for joy. And I had to really turn around and say, something's really wrong here.

S. O'BRIEN: What sent you to get help?

BRACCO: Well that -- I mean in realizing that it wasn't -- I was exercising and eating well and doing everything right and that never went away.

S. O'BRIEN: What's it like when someone like Tom Cruise says that psychiatry is a pseudoscience and that you know drugs are not the way to go? Because you're very much not only a fan of psychiatry but also of the drugs.

BRACCO: Well, it changed my life. It gave me a jumpstart. And I wasn't afraid to come out and say that. I really don't know what to say. I mean, you know I live in a country where we're allowed to speak our mind and I love our First Amendment. And, you know, Tom has the right to think and believe and educate himself in the way he needs to do that.

S. O'BRIEN: A lot of the book is also spent detailing your relationship with Harvey Keitel. And I was surprised, honestly, how brutally honest it was. Do you ever worry with your daughters, who are now 20 and 27, that sort of too much honesty might be a bad thing for a kid?

BRACCO: Well they kind of know everything anyway. They've lived there. They lived in that house. They lived in that -- you know, environment. I could only smooth over what I could.

S. O'BRIEN: What made you take "The Sopranos" role, because you read that it's really your agent who is like pick up the script and take a look at it.

BRACCO: Yes. And she's somewhere around here.

S. O'BRIEN: Is she? You talk about her a lot in the book. I bet she's, you know...

BRACCO: She was at me, read the script, read the script. I was like, my god, who wants to, you know, read or do another mob story? And when I finally read it, and it was such a breath of fresh air the way David Chase wrote this pilot.

S. O'BRIEN: But you fell in love with the wrong character? You fell in love with the character you weren't supposed -- they didn't want you to play necessarily.

BRACCO: You know I'm good at that. You know the thing is is that when you're an actor and you're creative, you -- something jumps up at you. It's not always what somebody else sees you for. And I was really glad that, you know, I did go and meet David. And I said I'd really like the role of Dr. Melfi. I love it. I think it's great.

S. O'BRIEN: What is the message of your book?

BRACCO: I think I had a lot of really rough situations happen. And I think I've been lucky enough to have friends and family, a good doctor, guide me and pull myself up out of situations that I think would bury most people and tomorrow's always a new day.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it is. The book is called "On the Couch." Lorraine Bracco, nice to see you. Thank you for talking with us this morning.

BRACCO: Nice to meet you.

S. O'BRIEN: We sure appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

It's a good book. She's had a tough life on a lot of fronts.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: A tough time.

M. O'BRIEN: Did you sort of feel like you were having a little shrink session there when you're sitting with her on the couch, you know?

S. O'BRIEN: Every guest I have a shrink session with.

SERWER: She's not really a shrink, Miles, we should point that out.

S. O'BRIEN: What goes on I'll...

M. O'BRIEN: She's not.

SERWER: No.

M. O'BRIEN: She just plays one on TV.

S. O'BRIEN: She says, though, that people stop her in the street...

M. O'BRIEN: Sure.

S. O'BRIEN: ... all the time...

SERWER: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: ... and tell her about their personal problems.

SERWER: I bet.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm sure they do.

S. O'BRIEN: She is like maybe you should talk to Dr. Phil. He is actually a doctor, a shrink.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: Right. She has become a big star in that role, right?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, yes, absolutely.

What's coming up?

SERWER: Business news coming up, you guys.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: Microsoft versus Apple. It is a battle that's almost as old as this nation itself, it seems. The latest front, "The Daily Show." Plus, a hacker makes big bucks and friends in south Florida, -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Really?

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Andy.

What else is coming up? Well, how about this, our series "Paying the Price in the Heartland." We'll get to the thorny truth about ethanol and how it could turn things around for struggling farmers. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Life after work. I think about that a lot. Don't you, -- Andy?

SERWER: Yes, a couple of hours away.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: No, not.

M. O'BRIEN: No. Though it could be for you, you never know.

Anyway, we're going to meet today a retired salesman and ring leader for a group of California seniors.

Valerie Morris with that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM PONTAC, MARATHONER: I'm Tom Pontac and I'm 70 years old. I've run probably 170 marathons. And about six years ago I started the Leisure Leggers.

We are the Leisure Leggers, strong and brave and bold. We may be getting older, but...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not getting old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not getting old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not getting old.

PONTAC: We do marathons, half marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, and the average age is in their 70s. It's really made me feel special about myself. When you have a bad day, you say, yes, but I can run a marathon.

VALERIE MORRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After retiring from a career in sales, Tom's life took off. He married fellow marathon runner Jean at age 63. She inspired him to finish college. And Tom graduated from Cal State Long Beach at the age of 64.

PONTAC: I had to pick the person that had the most positive influence on my life and it would be Jean. She's a real partner and hot. She's a hot grandma.

MORRIS: This grandfather of two, with another on the way, still takes classes at Cal State and works as the senior liaison between the school and his retirement community.

PONTAC: I honestly believe that the most happiness that I will ever have in my life is ahead of me.

Off to school.

MORRIS: Valerie Morris, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: You've got to love Microsoft versus Apple. There's always a reason for those two companies to fight. But this one, it is a laughing matter, isn't it?

SERWER: That's a good way of putting it.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: Yes. And it's just amazing how many fronts there have been on this war over the years, Miles. And this is the latest one. Apple has gone out and hired "Daily Show" comedian John Hodgman to do a series of commercials -- there's Mr. Hodgman -- in an ad campaign. And this ad campaign spoofs Microsoft's Windows. There he is, Mr. Hodgman.

And now this might not surprise you, Microsoft has gone out, according to published reports, and hired another "Daily Show" comedian, one Demetri Martin, to do another ad campaign which would presumably, although there's no word on this yet, spoof Apple. And so, the battle goes on and on and on. And you just wonder what Jon Stewart has to say and where he comes down on the matter.

M. O'BRIEN: He's -- that's probably something he doesn't want to get into, don't you think?

SERWER: I think we should call him on that.

M. O'BRIEN: It's inherently not funny.

SERWER: We need to call on him that.

M. O'BRIEN: Anyway.

SERWER: It's really not that funny.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. OK.

SERWER: And now we have a story about the latest hacker. This is a guy named Edwin Pena from south Florida arrested by federal authorities there the other day for allegedly stealing $1 million from customers by rerouting Internet phone calls. He'd route them through legitimate companies, charge them fees, not pay the fees to the phone companies.

And this guy, well, he lived the high life, what can we tell you. He went out and bought real estate, a 40-foot boat, luxury cars, including a Cadillac Escalade and a BMW. And he also got a lot of friends. He became a very popular guy as you can see there.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Mr. Hacker man there.

SERWER: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: So is the lesson here hacking pays? No.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes.

SERWER: No.

M. O'BRIEN: No, I'm sorry, no.

SERWER: No.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm sorry, I missed the message once again.

SERWER: You missed the message there.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm so sorry.

SERWER: Because he's busted and he won't be able to see those friends so much anymore.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. We should show him behind bars, too, you know.

SERWER: Maybe they'll visit him from time to time, that's about it.

M. O'BRIEN: I doubt it. I doubt it.

SERWER: I doubt it. I doubt it, too.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, -- Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead in a moment, our top stories, including a tape just released from al Qaeda's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, with comments on the Palestinians, Egypt, Darfur and Iraq.

U.S. troops on alert for revenge attacks after killing Iraq's al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

London bracing for violence as Muslim extremists protests a police raid on a Muslim neighborhood.

The FDA approves a vaccine that protects against the virus that causes cervical cancer.

And the power of flash floods, a small creek quickly becomes a raging river, wipes out an entire farm. We'll show you the pictures just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: A new tape out this morning from al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri. More about that message just ahead.

Another person in Florida attacked by an alligator. He suffered serious injuries. Could have been worse, though.

S. O'BRIEN: A class valedictorian is told to stay away from graduation. School officials fear gang revenge after his sister testifies in a murder trial.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is preparing for a sequel, not talking about Hollywood, we're talking about Sacramento. We've got John King's interview with the governor just ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: And quite an inspirational tale here, it's about high school basketball players and their coach, but it's really a lot -- about a lot more than that. Tell you about the real meaning of being on a team ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: And welcome back, everybody, I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm Miles O'Brien. Welcome to Friday.

S. O'BRIEN: We start this morning with some new developments involving al Qaeda and it's number two man. Just about an hour ago, the Al Jazeera Arab television network aired the latest tape from Ayman al-Zawahiri.

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