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Israel Battering Border Villages in Southern Lebanon; Future of Cuba

Aired August 4, 2006 - 07:32   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rick Sanchez, filling in for Miles O'Brien.

To this developing story that we've been telling you about that's coming out of Phoenix that we've been following, there may be a break this morning in those serial shooter cases. We're hearing that police have arrested two people in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.

And for more now, let's go to Chris Sign of our affiliate KNXV in front of Phoenix police headquarters.

Now, Chris, just to edify our viewers somewhat, you have two real serial shooters, one apparently is a random shooter who has gone around shooting at people he doesn't know. The other one is a serial rapist/shooter as well. Which one are police saying they may have apprehended?

CHRIS SIGN, KNXV REPORTER: Yes, Rick, let me go ahead and explain just a little bit. They're talking about the "Serial Shooter." That's what he's been dubbed here in Phoenix. The Serial Shooter could actually be two people. Phoenix police have been saying that all along. It could be one or more people using different cars, firing from a car.

Now, that serial shooter is tied to 36 different shootings, including six murders dating back to August of last year. Then, let me go ahead and put this on a clipboard for you. This is the man they're calling the Bay Side Rapist. This is the sketch police have been putting out since May of last year. Now this man is tied to 23 vicious crimes, including eight murders. This person has not been captured. This person is still on the loose.

Now as for the serial shooter that we're discussing this morning, there could be a significant break in the case, Rick, because this morning around midnight, Phoenix time, phoenix and Mesa SWAT teams surrounded a Mesa apartment complex and took two men into custody for questioning. At this point, from what my sources are telling me, those two men are behind me in Phoenix Police headquarters, being questioned by detectives at this point. Police aren't calling them suspects.

My sources are telling me at this point that they have not been arrested, and that they are not suspects, but they are confirming that they are wanted for questioning involving the serial shooter cases, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Now, these are the fellows that police say would go around in their cars and shoot at literally strangers, correct?

SIGN: Yes, you're exactly right, dating back to last year, as I mentioned, they started in what we call the valley, the West Valley, meaning the far west portions of Phoenix. They started off at that point in time shooting animals, and have since graduated, for lack of a better term, to targeting people.

Police believe that this serial shooter is firing from a moving car and may actually be changing cars at the time. Now as for the two people in custody, we're not really sure what led police to them. It's our understanding at this point, according to my sources, that maybe a beat cop saw a suspicious car or maybe even saw the car they had been looking for, followed the car to a Mesa apartment complex, and that's when these serial killers task force, a task force consisting of more than 200 detectives assigned exclusively to these two serial killer cases, went ahead and went after that apartment complex, then took two people in custody.

SANCHEZ: Boy, I tell you, I imagine a lot of the folks in Phoenix today are feeling good about this. I know how much apprehension has been in the city since that started. I suppose a lot of people would think, if certainly this proves to be true, what police seem to be saying at this time, one down, maybe one to go.

SIGN: You're absolutely right.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Chris Sign. Thanks for bringing us up to date on this story. We'll continue to follow it.

Soledad, over to you.

O'BRIEN: Israel is battering border villages in Southern Lebanon this morning with air strikes and military, and Hezbollah guerrillas are fighting back. The Arab networks are now reporting that at least three Israeli soldiers have been killed.

Let's get right to CNN's Matthew Chance. He's in northern Israel for is this morning.

Matthew, good morning.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you as well, Soledad.

Well in the course of the past several hours, there's been a ferocious artillery barrage going from Israel into Southern Lebanon, but also a number of incoming rounds as well. This location on the border between Israel and Lebanon. Fierce fighting under way there on the ground between thousands of Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters, as Israel's forces move from town to village to town, trying to make the area what they call a Hezbollah-free zone, trying to establish a broad strip of territory in which there will be no Hezbollah activity and to which they can hold onto until such times as an international force is agreed upon and deployed to take over what Israel would see as peacekeeping duties in that area.

There could be Israeli boots on the ground for a long time, though, because it may take awhile before that peacekeeping force is even agreed, never mind deployed. In the meantime, that fighting continues. We've got video of Israeli forces capturing Hezbollah fighters, described as low-ranking members of the Lebanese militia, being taken away from the battlefield there. The Israeli Defense Force has not given us confirmation on how many were captured, but Israeli media is saying about 10 Hezbollah prisoners were taken back to Israel by the Israeli forces there.

Again, the operation's continuing and even expanding as the Israel government gets more and more troops available, calling out the reservists to put into ground operations and expands those operations in Southern Lebanon -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask a question, Matthew. Why the flak jacket now? You didn't have it on the last time we talked.

CHANCE: No, I didn't. I was trying to describe that in my initial debrief. That's because over the course of the past hour or so, we've been having a number of incoming mortar rounds, just a short distance from here.

If i can ask the camera man to just pan to the right of the screen, you can see some of the smoke coming from where those mortar rounds landed. So it's just a short distance away, didn't affect us right here, but, of course, you never know when there will be more incoming rounds coming in this direction. So, for that reason, we've taken the precaution at this point of putting the flak jackets on, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, good. I'm glad to hear you're taking that precaution. Matthew Chance for us this morning. Thanks, Matthew. We'll check in with you again as the day continues.


O'BRIEN: Let's talk about Cuba this morning. Fidel Castro's brother, Raul, has been in charge for several days now. So far, though, he's been keeping a low profile. In fact, it's such a low profile some Cubans are beginning to wonder just what's going on.

CNN's Morgan Neill has our report from Havana this morning.


MORGAN NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Along the capital's famed Malecon sea wall, no one is in the mood for a party.

In fact, a carnival set to begin Friday is postponed. This Havana native says until ailing President Fidel Castro is well enough for a party, Cuba as a whole won't celebrate.

On Monday, the government announced he was handing over power temporarily to his brother Raul Castro, due to surgery to stop intestinal bleeding. And while life looks surprisingly normal in much of the country, a sense of unease is growing. Since Monday's unprecedented announcement, neither Fidel Castro nor his brother Raul has been seen in public.

"He should have appeared by now," says this bookseller. "The people are worried. At least one of them should have shown up by now."

Some Cubans speculate Raul Castro is keeping a low profile for good reason. They say he doesn't want to give the impression he's taken over for good.

Even among dissidents, there have been no visible signs of celebration here, no talk of regime change, just the opposite. Various groups have staged pro-government rallies. This group of military workers, for example, shouts their allegiance to Raul Castro. "Best wishes for President Fidel Castro's recovery."

(on camera): But in their unguarded moments, many Cubans say they just wish they could hear from the man now at the country's helm.

Morgan Neill, CNN, Havana.


O'BRIEN: We're going to have much more on Fidel Castro and the future of Cuba just ahead. Castro's exile daughter, Alina Fernandez, will join us in the next hour, and it's a live interview you're going to see only on CNN -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Still to come, a decorated soldier struggles with his actions while serving in Iraq.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traffic stop. And I knew they were innocent people, a family, and I refused to fire, and I was told I did the wrong thing.


SANCHEZ: Well, he's been hiding out now for the past two years, but now he is coming back to face the punishment and tell his story.

O'BRIEN: Some new rules in Chicago to tell you about, no cell phones in your hand, like that lady's got, while you're driving. There's no smoking in public anymore. And no foie gras, believe it or not. Is the Windy City going too far? We'll take a look at that, just ahead.



O'BRIEN: This morning, the story of a U.S. soldier who deserted his troops and is now coming home to face his punishment. His name is Darrell Anderson. He's been hiding out in Canada for the past two years. But next month, he's coming back. A story you're going to will only see on CNN. Carol Costello talked to this young man.

Good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is an interesting moral dilemma, and he's an interesting guy. Some of those AWOL soldiers, who are actually considered deserters now, have been in Canada for a few years now. Two years ago, their cause drew limited public sympathy, but with a growing antiwar sentiment and allegations of murdering Iraqi civilians their cases have gained steam, and they've prompted at least one soldier to do what's very unusual for someone who has deserted -- he's coming home to face whatever awaits him.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Darrell Anderson considers himself an honorable Iraqi war veteran. He served seven months on the front lines in Baghdad and Najaf, was wounded by shrapnel and was awarded a perfect heart. A model soldier, until he alleged in Canadian court.

DARRELL ANDERSON, AWOL FROM U.S. ARMY: We did war crimes in Iraq. I know people that killed prisoners. I know people that killed innocent people. I was ordered to kill innocent people.

COSTELLO: So while home on leave, Anderson went AWOL and fled to Canada. He got a job, got married. But what he remembers is so painful, he's coming home to tell his story.

ANDERSON: A careful of innocent people came through a traffic stop. And I knew they were innocent people, a family, and I refused to fire, and I was told I did the wrong thing.

COSTELLO: In September he'll turn himself over to the U.S. military, which now classifies him as a war deserter. He could face jail time.

ANDERSON: I'm hoping that me being a veteran, or getting injured in combat or post-traumatic stress, they'll be lenient.

COSTELLO: Anderson also thinks the timing works in his favor. U.S. antiwar sentiment has grown. There have been charges of American troops murdering civilians.

ANDERSON: I believe if I would have down another tour of Iraq, I would have committed more crimes. It's the evil that builds inside you. And so what is it, either go to jail for not killing people or go to jail for killing people?

COSTELLO: There are some 200 American soldiers seeking refuge in Canada, like Anderson's friend, AWOL Marine Ivan Brobeck.

IVAN BROBECK, AWOL FROM U.S. MARINES: Every week or so an innocent civilian dies at one of our checkpoints. They fail to stop at the time, and we're actually ordered to fire if they cross a certain line.

COSTELLO: Jeffrey House, an attorney representing several AWOL soldiers, says charges like those are believable in today's environment.

JEFFREY HOUSE, ANDERSON'S CANADA LAWYER: I have no doubt that some of the justices in the superior courts will be well aware of Haditha and what is alleged there.

COSTELLO: But it's difficult to determine how much sway those stories will have in any court

BRIG. GEN. DAVID L. GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Just because it happened in war, where we've had about a half-million soldiers, Marines rotated in and out of Iraq, I don't think that it'll hold any water.

COSTELLO: Still, Anderson is going home to face whatever awaits him, even though he could stay in Canada legally, since he's married to a Canadian.

ANDERSON: I should have done something in Iraq. I should have done something when I got back. I was too messed up from the war. And now I'm going back. So, you can't call me a coward, because I fought in the war. You can't call mow a coward now because I'm going to prison. So if anybody can call me a coward, I don't know, what have they done?


COSTELLO: The Pentagon told me Anderson could have made his allegations to the military. His superiors would have listened, they say. Now he could face anything from a dishonorable discharge, forfeit of all pay and confinement for up to five years. The most severe punishment, the death penalty, but that has not been used since 1946.

O'BRIEN: Wow, you see how that affects him, huh? I mean, at the end, a lot of the...

COSTELLO: Very conflicted about it.


COSTELLO: And he says he's having such terrible nightmares, he has to come home to the United States to be with his family, to be able to deal with that, and he doesn't know how he's going to face prison, but he's ready to do that, to take his punishment.

O'BRIEN: And move on.

COSTELLO: And try to move on.

O'BRIEN: Right.

Interesting piece, Carol. Wow. COSTELLO: Thanks.

SANCHEZ: Well, still to come this morning, a look at some new initiatives in Chicago intended to make life better for residents there, but some say the city should just mind its own business. We'll take a look for you. That's next, here on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: A Chicago bank is ramping up its security, it says, by cracking down on cell phones. Mobile phones have been banned from inside the five branches of the First National Bank, even in the lobby. No cell phones. Senior vice president for the bank says it's to stop any communication between would-be robbers and their lookouts. That sounds a little over the top to me.

Other new laws in Chicago are focusing on personal health and habits, and people there are saying, those are a little over the top, too. In fact, many in the Windy City say, am I living in a nanny state?

CNN's Keith Oppenheim has more for us this morning.


KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chicago, the city that grew up winking at Prohibition, portrayed by Hollywood as loose about the law.


ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: What is bootlegging? On the boat it's bootlegging. On Lake Shore Drive, it's hospitality.


OPPENHEIM: Is now a city that may be taking a turn for tighter control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Consideration of these ordinances will be appreciated.

OPPENHEIM: Chicago's city council recently passed these laws: No smoking in nearly all public places; no talking on cell phones while driving, unless you use a head set.

GENE SCHULTER, CHICAGO ALDERMAN: People want to have healthy, safe environments, and what we're trying to do is listen to the people that elect us.

OPPENHEIM: Concerned about the inhumane treatment of fowl, the city council even passed a law against serving duck or goose liver, foie gras. So now...

(on camera): If you want to eat foie gras, you have to be to places like Evanston, just north of the city. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that people should be told by a politician what to eat.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Chicago politicians are also mulling a ban on transfat oil at restaurants, an ordinance designed to clean clogged arteries.

Jennifer Hunter, editorial writer for the "Chicago Sun-Times" argues aldermen are no nannies

JENNIFER HUNTER, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": But some of the other things that they've become fixated on, and I think it's become a fixation are really not -- they're not going to make our lives better here, and they're silly.

OPPENHEIM: But it doesn't end there. A proposal to put tiny microchips in all dogs could lead to a city where no pooch would ever be lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it should be the owner's choice to put the microchip in the dog.

OPPENHEIM: Also proposed, no smoking while driving in a vehicle with young children, and cab drivers should spruce up their act and wear uniforms. The net effect of the nanny state, Chicago residents are starting to get irritated.

HUNTER: Are they going to tell me that I have to eat broccoli next?

OPPENHEIM: Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Chicago


O'BRIEN: Well, you should eat broccoli. It's good for you. A group calling itself Chicago Chefs for Choice has formed to fight the city's ban on foie gras.


SANCHEZ: We're going to be talking to the daughter of Fidel Castro right here. Should be an interesting perspective. We'll be right back.



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