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U.S.-European Summit; Bodies Recovered; Ramadi Operation; U.S. Ready to Respond

Aired June 21, 2006 - 06:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It's Wednesday, June 21. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Roberts in this week for Miles O'Brien.

First day of summer. It's the solstice. It's a day to feel good.

Here's a look at what's happening this morning.

S. O'BRIEN: In Vienna, Austria, President Bush is meeting with European Union leaders. Iran's nuclear ambitions will top the agenda. We're going to hear from the president at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

ROBERTS: In Baghdad this morning, one of Saddam Hussein's lead attorneys has been shot to death. A fellow lawyer says Khamees al- Ubadi was kidnapped by insurgents dressed as Iraqi police.

The Pentagon is telling some 21,000 U.S. troops to get ready to deploy to Iraq. They are expected to replace other troops who were scheduled to come home.

S. O'BRIEN: This morning, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will testify on Capitol Hill about anti-terror funding. Just this week, it was revealed that New York City's subway system was a target of a cyanide attack by al Qaeda back in 2003.

And then this afternoon, a court hearing on the government's domestic spying program. Lawyers behind a lawsuit against AT&T want class action status for their case. They say the company illegally gave the government access to customers' phone records.

ROBERTS: And police are searching this morning for a suspected kidnapper. Police say 23-year-old Binh Lam Ho kidnapped two girls. One of them escaped. The other was found handcuffed in a car just south of Memphis.

S. O'BRIEN: In Arizona this morning, that massive wildfire just outside of Sedona getting closer to hundreds of homes. Firefighters now say the nearly 1,800-acre fire is only 5 percent contained.

Let's get right to Chad Myers. He's at the CNN Center with the forecast for us this morning, -- Chad.


I guess it is the last day of spring, 8:26 Eastern Time we turn to summer. Get ready for a hot one.

Back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: It's already been a hot one some places.

MYERS: Yes. Right.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Chad, thanks.

MYERS: You're welcome.

S. O'BRIEN: Our top story this morning, President Bush in Vienna. The president meeting right now with European Union leaders to discuss the future of both Iraq and Iran.

CNN's Elaine Quijano live for us in Vienna this morning.

Elaine, good morning.


And it's already been a full day of meetings for President Bush. His first today was for about 30 minutes or so with the President of Austria, Heinz Fischer. The two leaders met for about 30 minutes at Vienna's Hofburg Palace. Then a meeting with the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel. Austria, of course, currently holds the rotating E.U. presidency.

And then afterwards, Mr. Bush sat down with Chancellor Schuessel, European Commission President Jose Barroso, as well as the man who recently presented that package of incentives to Iran, the E.U. High Representative Javier Solana.

Now while he is here, President Bush, of course, hopes to shore up support within the European community for how to deal with Iran. It was just last month, of course, that President Bush, in a major tactical shift, decided that the U.S. would in fact agree to join the Europeans for discussions with Iran if Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. Now leaders, of course, are still awaiting a response, but Iran sure to be a big topic on the agenda.

In the meantime, President Bush is also looking to secure support from the European community when it comes to Iraq, specifically in looking at the reconstruction efforts taking place there. But it's also expected, Soledad, that behind closed doors European leaders will also say once again that they are concerned about the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So we expect that discussion to take place as well -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: What's been the reaction, Elaine, to the president's arrival? How's he been received? QUIJANO: Well already we've seen a small demonstration. In fact this morning here in Vienna at a train station not too far away, a small group though, only about 300 people or so, demonstrating against the president's visit.

Now we are expecting, we should mention, a much larger demonstration to take place this evening. In fact, several thousand people are expected then, as well as the anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan. But of course, as you know, Soledad, it is not at all unusual for there to be demonstrations, for there to be protests anywhere that the president goes -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano, thanks for that report from Vienna this morning, Elaine.

CNN is planning live coverage of the president's remarks this morning. Expecting to see that at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time -- John.

ROBERTS: The bodies of two American soldiers will be flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Those bodies are believed to show signs of a brutal death at the hands of Iraqi insurgents. So mutilated that it will take DNA testing to positively identify them.

CNN's Arwa Damon is live in Baghdad and joins us now with the latest.

Good morning, -- Arwa.


That's right, the bodies were found, this is according to the U.S. military, at 7:30 p.m. Monday night. Apparently a tip from an Iraqi civilian led officials to the location just south of Baghdad where the bodies were found.

According to the U.S. military, the road leading to the location where the bodies were was inlaid with IEDs, roadside bombs. The bodies themselves booby-trapped. The U.S. military saying it took at least 12 hours to clear the area of explosives before they were able to recover these bodies -- John.

ROBERTS: Arwa Damon live for us in Baghdad this morning.

Arwa, thanks for that update.

And word is coming out about two other American soldiers, they may have been murdered by Iraqi troops who were working with them. Specialist Patrick McCaffrey Sr. and First Lieutenant Andre Tyson died two years ago. Early reports said they were killed in an ambush near Baghdad -- or near Balad, rather. But now Army investigators have evidence that Iraqi Civil Defense officers may have intentionally fired on them.

S. O'BRIEN: We're going to be talking later this morning to one of those soldier's mothers. As you can imagine, the news is just absolutely horrifying for her. That's ahead this morning. Massive show of force has given the U.S. military an important foothold in what's been a key area for insurgents.

CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is live for us in Ramadi this morning.

Nic, good morning. How is the operation going so far?


The operation seems to be going very well. Military commanders here are very satisfied with what they've been able to achieve, going into areas of Ramadi to set up these new outposts.

F-16s, I believe, flying overhead there. There's a lot of air activity on at the moment. Operations here do continue to proceed.

But the commanders have been very satisfied with the new outposts that they are setting up. And they do say that so far insurgent activity appears to be down and that they're getting a very positive reaction from the populations around these new outposts -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Nic, how are the people in Ramadi responding to the operation?

ROBERTSON: Well, they are, we're told, and we were witnessing the ongoing operations just two mornings ago, they were very cautious at first because they're not used to seeing such a large military presence in those areas. They were watching from their doorways. But I watched as a couple of young boys watched the big Army bulldozers come in to put up some barricades. And they were giving a big thumbs up in the air.

And what we're hearing from officers at the moment is that people are coming out, they're engaging with the Iraqi Army who are down there co-located with the U.S. troops. They are talking to them.

And this is exactly what commanders say they want to see happen. They say this is a type of dialogue that will help draw the population away from the insurgents, encourage the local population to get information about the whereabouts of insurgents, the weapons caches. And so far, they say, they have found a lot of very large weapons caches just in the locations they have heard that they were being hidden before. Now they can get to them -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question, Nic, about Saddam Hussein's attorney whose body was found. What happens now with the trial, do you know?

ROBERTSON: Well, one of the other, one of his co-defense lawyers when asked this morning about what happens to your defense team, sounded very upset on the telephone, and said he really didn't know. He really doesn't know the legal process. Bottom line is the legal process continues. Back in November, Khamees al-Ubadi, who is the lawyer that was killed -- Saddam Hussein's lawyer who was killed this morning. I interviewed him back in November about another of Saddam Hussein's defense lawyers who was killed. And at that time he told me really our fate is in the hands of god, but we have to proceed.


KHAMEES AL-UBADI, SADDAM HUSSEIN'S ATTORNEY (through translator): Our client's interest is more important than anything else. And even if there is risk, we will attend.


ROBERTSON: And I think that's going to be the view of the other defense lawyers here. They're going to probably ask for more protection. But the reality is that the trial will very, very likely continue. Will there be a hiccup in when it -- will it be rescheduled? That's not clear. We certainly haven't heard from the court on that yet -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: How many more defense lawyers does Saddam Hussein have?

ROBERTSON: Well he has one other principal lawyer. He has the former Justice Minister from Qatar who represents him in the court. He has a female lawyer who's twice now been ejected from the court. She lives in Lebanon because of her security concerns. And there are a number of other assistants to those particular lawyers. But there are still three prominent lawyers involved in defending Saddam Hussein and his half-brother -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Nic Robertson for us this morning covering lots of topics.

Thank you, Nic -- John.

ROBERTS: In America today there will be more testimony at the first-ever student court-martial at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. The star witness claims she was raped after a night of drinking. The suspect, Webster Smith, also faces assault charges that stem from allegations by two other women. The defense says there is no physical evidence and compared the case to the Salem witch trials.

Dozens of families in Monroe County, Tennessee are waiting to hear if they will be allowed back home today. They were forced to evacuate after a freight train derailed on nearby tracks. The train carrying liquid propane and other potentially hazardous materials. Investigators are looking into what might have caused that crash.

Some flooding in central Massachusetts after a series of heavy thunderstorms. Nickel-sized hail hit cars but passed quickly without any serious damage. Severe thunderstorm warnings in the area have been canceled this morning.

In northern Massachusetts, a family of bears took up temporary residence in this backyard. The homeowner grabbed her video camera and kept watch from inside her home. She says at first she thought there was a cat in her tree. But if she had seen video last week, she'd know that cats chase bears up trees.

Victory in Miami. The Miami Heat win the NBA title. They edged out the Mavericks 95 to 92 in the game six win in Dallas last night. Fans of the Heat took to the streets to celebrate the team's first- ever NBA Championship.

S. O'BRIEN: A big old celebration there.

ROBERTS: It's the galienta (ph) away in Miami, see.

S. O'BRIEN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Still to come this morning, we are learning more about what happened to those two American soldiers who were brutally killed in Iraq. This morning we'll talk to their family members.

ROBERTS: We'll also show you how the military plans to protect the United States from a possible North Korean missile launch.

S. O'BRIEN: And we're watching those wildfires out west. Thousands of acres have been scorched, hundreds of homes are threatened and they are far from being under control. We'll update you on that there.

And Carrie Lee has got some business headlines for us.

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Soledad and John.

A big Spanish language media auction hit some turbulence last night. Didn't go as expected. We'll have that story and an early market check coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Happening this morning.

Wildfires raging in at least four western states. One of the worst is in Arizona. Firefighters say the nearly 1,800-acre fire just outside of Sedona is creeping closer to hundreds of homes.

In Baghdad, one of Saddam Hussein's lead attorneys has been found shot to death. A fellow defense lawyer says Khamees al-Ubadi was kidnapped by insurgents posing as police.

And in Vienna this morning, President Bush is meeting with leaders of the European Union. Iran's nuclear program tops the agenda there.

S. O'BRIEN: The Pentagon says it is a coincidence it is conducting a missile defense test in the Pacific today. Says it was scheduled long before North Korea threatened to test fire a long-range missile. It's a joint operation with Japan's Navy. The U.S. warship will fire on a target while a Japanese ship will be stationed nearby to practice tracking techniques.

Meanwhile, North Korea has indicated it would stop its plans to test fire that missile if the U.S. agreed to direct talks. The Bush administration says all options will be considered if a test is conducted.

Here's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Okinawa, an Air Force spy plane takes off carrying sensors that can be used to track North Korea's expected launch of its long-range Taepodong-2 missile. Bush administration officials hope international pressure will keep North Korea from conducting a test launch of a missile that could hit the United States.

ALEXANDER VERSHBOW, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: This missile has a military capability. And we view it, therefore, as a serious matter, particularly in the context of North Korea's illegal development of nuclear weapons.

STARR: If there is a missile launch, the U.S. military will be able to see how well its $11 billion missile defense program works. Several elements of a defensive shield are already in place. Early-warning satellites will detect the exhaust from a launch within seconds. Then, upgraded radars in Alaska's Aleutian Islands and at Beale Air Force Base in Sacramento, California, will begin tracking the missile's path.

U.S. Navy ships in the Pacific with upgraded radars will also track the Taepodong missile, which has a reported range of about 3,000 miles. All of this will help the U.S. quickly determine if Pyongyang is using the missile to simulate an attack.

The U.S. currently has three aircraft carriers, hundreds of aircraft and other military assets in the Pacific participating in a long-planned exercise. The Pentagon has drafted orders for a military response to a North Korean missile launch, but only as a matter of routine.

(on camera): Everyone believes this is nothing more than a test by North Korea, not an attack. But if it were an attack, then the U.S. military could use nine interceptor missiles it has in Alaska and two in California to try and shoot the North Korean missile down.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


S. O'BRIEN: Barbara's report first appeared on "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. That airs every weekday at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

ROBERTS: It is the last hours of spring and it's going to be the first day of summer. How is it looking? Chad Myers at the CNN Center now with the forecast.

Good morning, -- Chad.

MYERS: Well if you like fireworks, nature's kind, you'll like this morning, boy, I'll tell you what.

Good morning, John.


Back to you guys.

ROBERTS: I'll take lower temperatures and no humidity.


ROBERTS: That sounds pretty good.

MYERS: Good.

S. O'BRIEN: I'll take it for $100, Chuck, thank you.

All right, Chad, thanks a lot.

MYERS: All right.

S. O'BRIEN: Guess what you get for 100 bucks nowadays?

ROBERTS: Well there's a few things you could get.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, you can get a burger now. A $100 burger. A $100 burger.

ROBERTS: You're kidding me.

S. O'BRIEN: The most I ever spent was $16 on a burger at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

ROBERTS: Hundred dollar burger.

S. O'BRIEN: A $100 burger. We're going to tell you exactly what makes it so fabulous, what's in it, just ahead this morning.

Plus, Lewis that little terror kitty from Connecticut we've been telling you about.

ROBERTS: The one that we alluded to just a couple of minutes ago?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.


S. O'BRIEN: His fate was hanging in the balance as the court ruled. We'll tell you what happened to Lewis straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Sort of in an espanol frame of mind this morning. All I can say is mouy expansevo (ph) or unavision (ph).

LEE: Yes. I'm trying to think of a Spanish word for delay, also, because this is a big auction we're talking about for the Spanish language media company Univision.

S. O'BRIEN: Unavision.

LEE: There you go. Better than I could do it.

The company held an auction last night trying to sell itself. Well, the frontrunner in this group actually missed the deadline to submit an offer. That is Grupo Televisa. They did this on purpose. Grupo Televisa let the deadline lapse because they had some internal discussions and issues about how much they were willing to pay. So they could submit a deadline -- an offer, Grupo Televisa that is, as early today.

But what's happening is part of the reason this deal went into disarray is because interest rates on high-yield bonds, which would be used to fund this offer, have really become more expensive, and so that is leaving bidders to kind of figure out what they're going to do. So the bottom line, rising interest rate environment not just affecting consumers -- we talk about this a lot -- but corporate acquisitions and mergers as well. So that's the latest there.

Southwest Airlines changing the way it boards passengers, at least in a temporary situation for flights out of San Diego. You might not know this, but Southwest, since its inception 35 years ago, has had open seating. You can pretty much sit wherever you like on the plane. Well, they're now going to test giving people assigned seats ahead of time, at least they're going to test this out in San Diego.

S. O'BRIEN: Why?

ROBERTS: What's the reason for that now?

LEE: They want to make it more efficient, probably. Remember yesterday we talked about Northwest changing its boarding policy a bit. And also apparently some Southwest customers, some of their business customers have complained that they want to have a little more...

ROBERTS: But Northwest was sort of adding chaos to an orderly process. Now these people are adding order to a chaotic process.

LEE: Southwest is adding some order. Well they're testing it out. They're going to see if it works. You know with high fuel costs, all of the challenges airlines have had, they're pretty much trying to do whatever they can to still run.

ROBERTS: It has to be take a dart every day and go what are we going to do today.

S. O'BRIEN: Well you know what, I was just about to say that.

LEE: I never knew Southwest had open seating, so.

S. O'BRIEN: They all mix it up by doing the opposite things that they were doing, which is the same thing the other guy was doing. Right.

LEE: So they're testing this out.

A quick check on stocks, looking not too bad for today's session. We did have a mixed market yesterday. The Dow higher by 32. Nasdaq, S&P down. And this is probably what we're going to see, a little bit of up and down action until we get the latest decision on interest rates. I know we've been talking about it every day. That comes next Wednesday, June 29, we'll get some clarity.

ROBERTS: Keeping our fingers crossed.

S. O'BRIEN: So we'll keep talking about it every day then.

LEE: So we'll keep talking about it.

ROBERTS: Something to talk about.

LEE: And then once it happens, we'll talk about what they have decided.

S. O'BRIEN: Right.

ROBERTS: We'll discuss.

LEE: It never ends.

S. O'BRIEN: Carrie, thanks.


S. O'BRIEN: A look ahead this morning as we continue right here. We're going to take a look at the top stories, including new details from the military on just how the bodies of two American soldiers were found in Iraq.

Also, we're watching a number of fast-moving wildfires out west. An update when AMERICAN MORNING continues.


S. O'BRIEN: Millions of Americans are sandwiched between generations, caring for their children and their parents. One way to ease their burden is a community approach to elder care and it's a throwback for baby boomers.

Miles O'Brien now with another installment of "Welcome to the Future." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOUISE: I never in a million years thought that this would have been a scenario. I'm 49 years old. I have two children. My parents just moved here. We moved them up here to be closer to us.

We have become a sandwich generation because we end up still having the kids at home and then we're taking care of our parents. You cannot rely on Social Security to take you through your golden years. It doesn't work anymore. I want them to be comfortable and I want them to be happy.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Don't we all. But keeping our parents happy and healthy as they age while we boomers figure out how to pay for our kid's college tuition is no small task. So what's the best way to take the squeeze out of the sandwich? Some say it takes a village.

(voice-over): This man, elder care expert Dr. William Thomas (ph), sees a future where community is key.

DR. WILLIAM THOMAS, ELDER CARE EXPERT: In the 20th century, old age is about leisure and independence and retirement. In the 21st century, aging is going to be about community, interdependence and darn good neighbors.

M. O'BRIEN: For boomers, it's a flashback to the communes of the '60s, so-called intergenerational co-housing communities, planned by the residents. Usually densely packed homes built around a central courtyard and a common house where meals are prepared and shared. There are playgrounds for kids or grandkids, too.

THOMAS: Twenty years from now America will have constructed so many useful and clever alternatives to the nursing home that those institutions are no longer necessary.




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