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Captured Polygamist Leader Awaits Fate; Could Comair Crash Have Been Prevented?

Aired August 30, 2006 - 15:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: It's the top of the hour.
And we're talking about 600 firefighters on the line and using everything they can, from bulldozers to planes, to corral a wildfire raging east of Los Angeles.

Fredricka Whitfield working the developing story for us, as we monitor live pictures right now from KCAL there in the San Bernardino National Forest -- Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Kyra, you look at the pictures, and it looks like it is just burning out of control.

But the firefighters there that they actually have a strategy. And they think they're going to be able to squeeze this fire under control by late Friday. Right now, it's 10 percent contained. About 2,000 acres have been scorched, two homes being damaged. There have been evacuations of a couple of very specific areas, one being a -- a small community of about 60 homes, and, then, a Christian camp that was operating in that area also under mandatory evacuation.

It doesn't help that it has been very hot and very dry.

Our Jacqui Jeras is in the Weather Center.

And I'm imagine those conditions certainly do not help those firefighters at all.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, they don't, but it could be work.

And, as we saw some of those flames, Fred, you could see that they were shooting straight up, so, indicative that the winds aren't terribly strong, basically, about five to 15 miles per hour, kind of fluctuating a little bit throughout the day today. Right now, they're west-southwest at about nine miles per hour.

I got on the Internet and found a site that is related to NIFC, the National Interagency Fire Center. Are they are reporting that the temperature there is 75 degrees, our computer interpolating near there 93, and we are expecting highs this afternoon to get well into the 90s -- winds relatively light, as I mentioned, just very low humidity.

In fact, the humidity, we're talking, you know, down to 10, 15 percent at times today. So, it makes it a little bit difficult. But, certainly, the fire weather could be worse. And it actually is worse on up to the north of there.

I want to show you the national picture here today, because fire conditions across much of the West are being hampered by weather today. And I want you to take note of all of this yellow area that we shaded in here for you. It include parts of Nevada, into Utah, Idaho, on up into Montana, and even into the Dakotas.

We have got an approaching cold front here. And, so, ahead of this system, winds come in from the southwest. And the closer the differences in pressure here between high and low, the greater the wind speed is going to be. So, they're going to be driving in from the southwest, gusty, erratic winds, dry conditions, maybe even a few isolated thunderstorms that could trigger some lightning strikes and potentially more fire.

So, we're very concerned, not just about what's going on in California today, but across much of the Intermountain West -- Fred, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: OK. Thanks, Jacqui.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks a lot, Jacqui.

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: We're both kind of...

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: How about if we all just join in?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

JERAS: Ladies.

WHITFIELD: There you go.

JERAS: Ladies.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: ... watching the live pictures, and, you know, everything that's happening across states.

WHITFIELD: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Kyra, your turn.

PHILLIPS: So, Fred -- Fred, do you want to wrap Jacqui, and then I will take it from here?

WHITFIELD: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: Does that sound good?

WHITFIELD: Well, that sounds pretty good.

I mean, certainly...

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: ... the weather conditions, you know, aren't -- are not helping the firefighters, but they -- they are pretty optimistic that, as Jacqui was saying, without the winds, you know, really kicking up, it looks like they really might be able to get this under control by late Friday.

How is that, Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Perfect.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: Fred, thanks.

Thanks, Jacqui, too.

JERAS: Sure.

PHILLIPS: Well, a very, very dangerous couple of days -- a hurricane forecaster's dire prediction for the west coast of Mexico being raked by Hurricane John.

Now, overnight, John grew to Category 4, with top sustained winds now clocked at 135 miles an hour. It's lashing tourist resorts, from Acapulco to Ixtapa. Now, John is also dumping a lot of rain, four to eight inches, maybe a foot in some places. It's not expected to threaten the U.S., but Baja California, could brace -- or should brace, rather, for the worst.

Ernesto in Florida, the hurricane that wasn't, now it's not even a tropical storm. Still, the Sunshine State is getting drenched, as the now tropical depression slowly spins to the north. So far, Fort Lauderdale has seen about two inches of rain and minimal damage. The storm came ashore in Plantation Key about midnight.

By dawn, the winds and rain were more of a nuisance than anything else, but Ernesto isn't done yet. Now, expect the storm to take a swipe at the Carolinas next. Projections show it could make landfall again between Charleston and Georgetown, South Carolina. The could be tomorrow afternoon, dumping several inches of rain along the way.

Now, weather becomes the news, you can become a CNN correspondent. If you see severe weather happening, send us an I- Report. All you have to do is go to CNN.com, click on I-Report, or type in ireport@CNN.com on your cell phone, and just share your pictures and your video with us.

Well, wrong runway, wrong staffing, at first, even the wrong plane -- it seems that nothing went right before Comair Flight 5191 took off in Lexington, Kentucky Sunday morning.

Now a troubling question: Would a second set of eyes have saved 49 lives?

CNN's David Mattingly investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN has learned that, when Comair Flight 5191 crashed, after taking the wrong runway, there was only one air traffic controller on duty, a violation of FAA policy.

We have also learned that they started out in the wrong airplane. Nine months ago, the FAA ordered the tower at Lexington to be staffed by a minimum of two controllers, one to handle radar, the other to guide traffic on the ground. Instead, the controller on duty before dawn Sunday was doing both jobs alone.

According to federal crash investigators, the controller last saw the Comair jet on the taxiway in front of the tower, and was not watching the ill-fated takeoff.

DEBBIE HERSMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: He had cleared the aircraft for takeoff, and he turned his back, and performed administrative duties in the tower.

MATTINGLY: The FAA only allows for a single controller in Lexington if radar duties are turned over to air traffic control in Indianapolis. That did not happen.

But sources tell CNN that, even with two controllers in the tower, there would have been no guarantee the deadly disaster could have been averted.

Officials now say, most of the 49 killed died of blunt-force trauma. Family members of the lone survivor, first officer James Polehinke, released a statement.

DR. ANDREW BERNARD, UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY HOSPITAL: We would particularly like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the city of Lexington and its public safety officials, especially Lexington police officer Brian Jarrod (ph) and Blue Grass Airport safety officers John Selle (ph) and James Mobben (ph), whose heroic efforts saved Jimmy's life. MATTINGLY: The NTSB allowed cameras to the scene of the crash. Pictures show the aircraft coming to rest in an area of tall grass and weeds. Large pieces of the plane were severely burned by the intense fire after impact.

(on camera): According to the NTSB, turning on to the wrong runway was not the first mistake the crew made that morning. Upon arriving at the airport, the captain and first officer entered and turned on power in the wrong airplane.

(voice-over): A ramp worker alerted them to the mistake. The NTSB will continue to reconstruct the activities and behavior of the crew in the 72 hours leading up to the crash.

David Mattingly, CNN, Lexington, Kentucky.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Bay area rampage -- police in San Francisco say an SUV swerved into sidewalks, blasted through crosswalks, the driver apparently aiming for pedestrians and cyclists -- the final toll, one person dead, 13 hurt.

A 29-year-old man is in custody. A relative says the suspect was stressed out by an arranged marriage in the family's homeland of Afghanistan. The victims range from 18 to 84 years old.

Child's play in Bakersfield, and now two children dead. A witness says that kids were playing with a World War II era artillery shell before it exploded. An 8-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl were killed. Six of their playmates were hurt.

Let's get back to Fred now, working another developing story for us.

WHITFIELD: Well, more on is that very disturbing case out of Ohio, that Ohio foster family, the couple who are accused of murder.

Their foster child 3-year-old was allegedly wrapped up in a blanket, and then left in a closet, so that the couple would be able to go out of town to a family reunion. Well, today, Liz and David Carroll Jr. were in court today, as you see right there. They pled not guilty. A bond was set for $10 million.

The Hamilton County judge, who has four kid of his own, prefaced that very high bond by explaining exactly why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE PATRICK DINKELACKER, HAMILTON COUNTY COMMON PLEAS COURT: Sir, I will say to you, as I said it to the last person.

You have shown a -- if the allegations are true -- and I'm not making any judgments at this point, because I'm not allowed to, and I won't -- but, if they're true, you have shown a callous disregard for the welfare, safety, and life of a child. Such a display of wanton disregard for the most vulnerable of our society puts all of our society at risk.

If the allegations are true, as a father of four, I shudder to think what could occur to other children if you're allowed access to a child at this point. So, my duty as a judge is to protect the children. And, in this case, I will do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And -- and now a footnote, Kyra.

The 3-year-old, Marcus Fiesel, one week after being found dead -- or -- let me just say, one week after his death, apparently, this couple then called authorities and said that the child was missing, this taking place a week after the child died. A massive search was under way to locate this child, only to find out that this child died right in their home, after being wrapped up and left in a closet, and left alone for a couple of days -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: It's amazing that anyone can do that to a child, Fred.

Well, a fugitive's capture, in the words of the man who helped bring him in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDDIE DUTCHOVER, NEVADA STATE TROOPER: And he said his full name, Warren Steed Jeffs, and just kind of like, you know, sighed. And that was it. The agent looked at me. And we both looked at each other. And it was a -- a happy moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: End of the road for Warren Jeffs -- ahead on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Bye-bye, Boulder. John Mark Karr will soon be bound for California, after being ruled out in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

Yesterday, a Colorado judge ordered Karr's extradition to Sonoma County to face five-year-old misdemeanor child porn charges. Karr had agreed to extradition back in 2001, as a condition of bail, bail that he later skipped. Karr appeared calm during most of the hearing, but grew upset when prosecutors refused to return a photo of JonBenet and her mother, Patsy. Prosecutors originally sent the photo to Karr in Thailand, hoping to track him when he picked it up.

Wanted by the FBI, done in by the DMV -- fugitive polygamist Warren Jeffs, captured late Monday, after a traffic stop in Nevada, could learn as early as tomorrow whether Utah or Arizona will prosecute him first. He's accused of orchestrating illegal marriages involving underage girls.

CNN's Ted Rowlands has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The FBI's manhunt for the prophet Warren Jeffs came to an end Monday night, just north of Las Vegas, when State Trooper Eddie Dutchover pulled over this burgundy 2007 Cadillac Escalade.

EDDIE DUTCHOVER, NEVADA STATE TROOPER: The vehicle didn't have no plates on it, had a temporary registration.

ROWLANDS: Jeffs, according to Trooper Dutchover, was in the back seat. His brother Isaac Jeffs was driving. In the far back, sitting alone, was one of Jeffs' wives, Naomi.

DUTCHOVER: Naomi was -- didn't say much of anything. She just kind of being quiet.

ROWLANDS: Trooper Dutchover says he immediately noticed, both brothers were nervous. He said Warren Jeffs was looking down, eating a salad, but his neck artery was pumping so hard, the trooper said he knew something was wrong.

DUTCHOVER: I noticed Warren was extremely nervous. He was sitting in that -- behind the right -- right front passenger side, and wouldn't make eye contact with me.

ROWLANDS: Trooper Dutchover separated the brothers and questioned them. Isaac Jeffs told him they were headed to Utah. Warren Jeffs said they were going to Denver, Colorado.

DUTCHOVER: There was a major discrepancy between their -- their stories.

ROWLANDS: At that point, the trooper called for backup. They searched the SUV. The troopers found three wigs, three iPods, several pairs of sunglasses, and more than $54,000 in cash tucked inside the lining of a suitcase. They also found cell phones, computers, a Bible, and letters addressed to the prophet Warren Jeffs.

DUTCHOVER: Guys on my team said, that -- that looks like him. I think we got him. I think that might be -- that might be Warren. I -- I think that, you know, after they removed his hat, they said, I think we -- this is him.

ROWLANDS: Asked for identification, Jeffs only offered a contact lens receipt from another state that identified him as someone else, authorities said. Isaac Jeffs told troopers his brothers' name was John Finley (ph).

But, when the FBI showed up, according to Trooper Dutchover, and asked Jeffs his name, he told them the truth.

DUTCHOVER: And he said his full name, Warren Steed Jeffs, and just kind of like, you know, sighed. And that was it. The agent looked at me. And we both looked at each other. And it was a -- a happy moment. ROWLANDS (on camera): Right now, he is at the Clark County Detention Center here in Las Vegas. He's expected to make his first court appearance sometime Thursday morning here in Las Vegas.

At that point, they should hammer out where he will go next. He has outstanding warrants in both the state of Utah and in the state of Arizona. It's unclear where he will go first. But both states are expected to have a shot at prosecuting Warren Jeffs.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Las Vegas, Nevada.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: And you can see more of Ted Rowlands' story on "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Watch "A.C. 360" weeknights at 10:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

We're following a developing story in California, a fast-moving wildfire, two communities now threatened -- live pictures from our affiliate KABC. We're going to stay on the story.

Plus, Saint Bernard Parish, under water a year ago, treading water today, we're going to take you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A year after Hurricane Katrina, still, amazingly, few signs of life in Saint Bernard Parish, just outside New Orleans, but, amid the devastation, much of it seemingly frozen in time, hope remains.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's rare, but it is happening. Homeowners who lost everything in Saint Bernard Parish are coming back.

(on camera): It looks like the neighborhood is coming back. Are you surprised?

KATRINA KELLUM, SAINT BERNARD RESIDENT: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Are you shocked?

KELLUM: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Never thought it would be this way a year ago?

KELLUM: No. I thought, when I first saw it, that -- I didn't know what I thought.

O'BRIEN: But you didn't think you were going to move back?

KELLUM: No. I thought our house had to be torn down. O'BRIEN (voice-over): The Kellums are back with their 4-year-old daughter, Elana (ph).

KELLUM: My husband said, for Christmas, there will be a tree in this house. I don't know if we will be -- we will be living in it.

JACK STEPHENS, SAINT BERNARD PARISH SHERIFF: You just can't imagine the extraordinary force that a billion gallons of water has coming over...

O'BRIEN: Last year, we walked through this same devastation with Sheriff Jack Stephens.

STEPHENS: Things don't look a whole lot different. I mean, rights of way are -- are cleaned. And, of course, a lot of the houses that are here -- in here have been gutted. And people are attempting to get their lives back in order. But it just seems like an excruciatingly slow process.

O'BRIEN: The levees, overtopped by an estimated 20 feet of water when Katrina roared through, have been strengthened. But only 10,000 to 12,000 people are back in the parish, of the 70,000 who lived here before Katrina hit.

There are signs of progress everywhere. Remember, we showed you this house 11 months ago?

(on camera): There are other questions about just how much of their house is worth saving.

(voice-over): Today, the owners say they plan to move back in by December.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just want to get it cleaned up, so we can come back home.

O'BRIEN: And take a look at this. With its manicured lawn and perfectly edged flower beds, this house is like a little oasis, reminding people how beautiful Day Bushel (ph) Boulevard used to be.

But that's the exception, not the rule. The rule is empty and abandoned houses, piles of debris that bring rats and snakes.

A year ago, we met Rachel Kestling (ph), breaking down her door. Now volunteers have gutted the inside. It's far from perfect, but it is better.

Sheriff Stephens worries about anything that could drive the fledgling recovery away, a growing crime problem, 10-foot weeds surrounding abandoned homes.

STEPHENS: I have to take care of the people that are here. This is the most liberated time of my political career. I have no political ambitions. I'm going to do what I think's best. And, if people don't like it, I don't care. O'BRIEN: But he can't solve the huge infrastructure problems. A brief rainfall means flooding. There's limited electricity and sewage service. Some contractors are charging 10 times what they did before Katrina. There's sadness and depression.

STEPHENS: I could go to three funerals a week for local residents, and -- and -- and most of those are seniors, although we have seen a spike in -- in attempt suicides and suicides.

O'BRIEN: Optimists point to open schools. And homes once worth $350,000 are selling for $100,000 or $70,000 or $50,000. And people are buying them and moving back in. Sheriff Stephens says, money could solve this problem, but the nation's attention seems elsewhere.

STEPHENS: We feel like we have been let down again, that we think that Mobile, Alabama; Gulfport, Mississippi; Biloxi; Long Beach; Waveland; Ocean Springs; Slidell; Plaquemines; Saint Bernard, New Orleans; Calcasieu; Cameron, are all worth more than Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, you can start your morning off right with Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien on "AMERICAN MORNING," 6:00 a.m. Eastern, every weekday.

Well, when you try to cheat nature, you usually lose -- thunderstorm, the catastrophic failure of New Orleans' levee system in the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina. Here's a look at those levees before the storm and what's been done to improve them since.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For decades, the lifeline of New Orleans has been 350 miles of levees. Even before Hurricane Katrina,, critics had complained that the network contained serious flaws in design and construction.

An Army Corps of Engineers study in June agreed, declaring that the system was a system in name only. Katrina's power triggered four breaches along three canals, a 450-foot breach at the 17th Street Canal, two breaches totaling 600 feet at the Industrial Canal, and a 300-foot breach at the London Street flood wall.

When flooding occurs, the city's bowl-like shape prevents water from draining away. That's happened numerous times in recent years. A hurricane in 1947 flooded the city to depths of about three feet, after which, levees were built along Lake Pontchartrain's south shore.

The city suffered more extensive flooding in 1965, when Hurricane Betsy unleashed a storm surge of nearly 10 feet. That spurred officials to raise the levees to a height of 12 feet.

Since Katrina, some officials and civil engineers have called for a complete redesign of the city's levee system, one that could withstand a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. That's not going to happen any time soon. The Corps spent $1 billion to restore the system to where it was before Katrina.

Improvements include gates at canals that caused most of the flooding and a better design for replaced flood walls. But Corps officials admit, they are not sure the system can withstand a hurricane with heavy storm surge this year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, Gulf Coast residents looking to rebuild their homes now have the option of taking matters to their own hand -- into their own hands, rather, literally.

Susan Lisovicz, live from the New York Stock Exchange, with that -- Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kyra.

It is doing it yourself. It's a homebuilding project, you know, package. Home improvement giant Lowe's will sell plans and materials for what have come to be known as Katrina cottages. The kits will be available in November at about 30 Lowe's stores in Louisiana and Mississippi. They include just about everything, short of a foundation and heating and cooling units, and come in four floor plans, ranging from 544 to 936 square feet. And, apparently, these packages created quite a buzz at a trade -- a trade show for builders earlier this year -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right.

Well, let's talk about the homes, designed to hold up under hurricane conditions. Not all of them, obviously, are that way.

LISOVICZ: That's right.

But, I mean, these, I think, took their nickname because of some of the specifications that come with it. These cottages, Katrina cottages, are made to withstand heavy rains and winds as high as 140 miles an hour. Lowe's hasn't put a price tag on them yet, but the packages are expected to sell for between $25,000 to $50,000, depending on the model.

Construction costs could double that price. But these houses could take as little as a month to complete, which is kind of an attractive option, in and of itself, Kyra, when you think of some of the folks who are still living in trailers.

PHILLIPS: That's pretty amazing -- and a lot of those trailers still sitting in certain places without anybody in them.

All right, let's talk about what's happening on Wall Street.

LISOVICZ: Well, we're three for three.

In the final hour of trading, we have got, you know, a rally. It's not the most convincing rally, in terms of the numbers, in terms of the volume. But we do have a positive trend here. Today's catalyst, we got second-quarter GDP numbers, which is the broadest read of economic growth. It was revised higher -- still much lower than what we saw in the first quarter, but not as bad as we initially thought.

Meanwhile, oil prices, they have turned higher, just above -- just above $70 a barrel. That's despite a government report showing that both crude and gasoline supplies rose unexpectedly last week. Steady gasoline supplies have contributed to the recent drop in gas prices. And most experts think prices have peaked for the year. AAA says they could drop another 10 cents by next week. And one analyst says they will be closer to $2 a gallon than $3 a gallon by Thanksgiving.

So, how are stocks doing? Well, Dow is up 21 points. Nasdaq is doing better. It's up 14.5, or about two-thirds of a percent.

And that is the latest from Wall Street. I will be back in about a half-an-hour with -- with a wrap-up of the trading day. See you then -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, thanks, Susan.

Well, an award-winning journalist jailed for trying to get the story -- we're going to have the latest on Paul Salopek, just accused of being a spy in one of the most dangerous corners of the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: The president in Little Rock, Arkansas, getting ready for a number of speeches throughout the country. This one just before he left to head to Nashville, Tennessee.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... Homeland Security Department up and running. And so I want to thank you for helping me come here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.

BUSH: I'm proud to call you friend. And thanks for the advice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't beat the fried pie here in Little Rock.

BUSH: I'm looking forward to eating -- when you get 60, you've got to be a little careful about what you eat. But, nevertheless, I'm going to give it a shot on the recommendation of my friends. Anyway, it's good to be back here in Little Rock.

This is a good town. I've come here a lot, as a candidate and as president. And I appreciate my friends here. I appreciate the values of the people who live in this state. And hope to be back soon, anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, we're glad to have you. It's been a great visit. Thanks for helping us out, and we welcome you back anytime. Thank you for your leadership.

BUSH: Thank you, sir. We'll see you all in Tennessee.

QUESTION: So do you think your new series of speeches are going to have an impact on midterm elections?

BUSH: My series of speeches are -- they're not political speeches. They're speeches about the future of this country, and they are speeches to make it clear that if we retreat before the job is done, this nation will become even more in jeopardy. These are important times.

And I would seriously hope people wouldn't politicize the issues that I'm going to talk about. We have a duty in this country to defeat terrorists. That's why we'll stay on the offense to bring them to justice before they hurt us, and that's why I work to spread liberty in order to keep the peace. Anyway, thank you all.

PHILLIPS: That was the president in Little Rock. He's now on his way to Nashville, Tennessee. That's where our White House correspondent Ed Henry is.

Ed, he has got these series of speeches talking about the war on terror, capabilities of al Qaeda, and what the administration has done to protect the nation but he's saying these are not political speeches.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, very interesting. The White House confirming today that the president will have a new series of speeches, as you're noting. He will start it tomorrow at the American Legion, and will go right through September 19th when he speaks to the United Nations General Assembly.

Does this sound familiar, a series of speeches from the president? It should. He's done at least three of these series. And I think this is a tacit acknowledgement by the White House that it really has not sold so far, and that's why he's taking yet another crack at it.

As far as the president's claiming he does not want this to get political, that's hard to believe at this point, obviously, given the fact that Democrats today are very upset with the comments yesterday from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, basically suggesting that critics of the White House war strategy are similar to those who were calling for appeasement that sparked Naziism back in the 1930s and '40s. That's gotten Democrats pretty hot today.

And it's interesting given that last week the president said that he's not questioning anyone's patriotism when they criticize his war strategy. Then you hear that from Secretary Rumsfeld.

What we're hearing from the White House is that the president is going to focus on broader themes about the struggle between freedom and tyranny. It certainly sounds like a two-prong strategy. The president putting out these larger, more flowery themes whereas some of his key officials like Secretary Rumsfeld really employing that hardball strategy, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Ed Henry in Nashville, thanks so much.

Well, "a very, very dangerous couple of days." That's the quote. A hurricane forecaster's dire prediction for the west coast of Mexico being raked by Hurricane John. Overnight, John grew to Category 4 with top sustained winds now clocked at 135 miles an hour.

It's lashing tourist resorts from Acapulco to Ixtapa. Now, John is also dumping a lot of rain, four to eight inches, maybe a foot in some areas. It's not expected to threaten the U.S., but Baja, California, should brace for the worst.

Straight ahead, an award-winning journalist jailed for trying to get the story. We're going to have the latest on Paul Salopek, accused of being a spy in one of the most dangerous corners of the world. We're going to talk to his editor.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, you may have heard talk of a lull in the violence in Iraq, but you won't hear it today. Bombers killed at least 47 people across the country, two dozen at Baghdad's largest market. Earlier, a bomb-laden bicycle blew up near an Army recruiting center just south of the capital. At least 12 people were killed there. Nevertheless, the top U.S. commander in Iraq predicts Iraqi forces could be in charge of the country's security in 12 to 18 months.

The term tough neighborhood takes on a whole new meaning in Baghdad, but one neighborhood has seemed to turned the corner after a crackdown on insurgents. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cleaning up the Sunni neighborhood of Amariyah in Baghdad has entered the literal phase. For $15 a day, these men sweep away the garbage that litters the streets. A month ago, many of these men wouldn't have dared be on the streets.

LT. COL. GIAN GENTILE, 10TH CAVALRY, U.S. ARMY: We would not have been able to get local workers to pick up garbage because they would not have had a basic sense of security to be able to come out and do that.

HOLMES: This was an insurgent stronghold, a wild west of sectarian killings and daily bombings of U.S. and Iraqi patrols. Then earlier this month came Operation Together Forward, which has also become known as the Battle of Baghdad, aimed at finding weapons and flushing out insurgents. It worked. Insurgents fled. And here, some of the impressive amount of weaponry the troops found as they searched thousands of buildings.

Now the operation is about keeping the peace, building trust and trying to stop those insurgents coming right back. That's the tough part.

GENTILE: This mosque is -- it's an important part of the community. But we also know that it's been used for insurgent activities.

HOLMES: Acts of violence are down 50 percent here, but far from over. These weary soldiers lost one of their own to a sniper just two days before this patrol. And on this patrol, the body of a young man in the street. What happened, no one knows for sure, or isn't saying. Just another body in Amariyah, hands bound, shot in the head.

Lieutenant Colonel Gian Gentile takes it personally.

GENTILE: It's heartbreaking. I mean -- and it's heartbreaking for the people that live here.

HOLMES (on camera): It may seem quiet back there, not much traffic, but we're told it used to be a whole lot quieter. Things are improving since this operation began. Still, as one senior officer told us, it's like two steps forward around here, and one and a half steps back. Still, half a step is something.

(voice-over): One problem here is, as in other parts of Baghdad, the police force is mainly Shia, not Sunni, and fear and mistrust run deep. And so, a new police unit is being set up here, made up only of local Sunnis.

MAJ. SCOTT COULSON, U.S. ARMY: We think that it will radically change the local perception of the Iraqi police, and help us keep some of the security gains that we've made over the past three weeks.

HOLMES: On Market Street, the main road, a few shops are opening, but the shuttered storefronts of dozens of other businesses are a stark illustration of how tough the job will be of getting Amariyah back to normal.

Michael Holmes with the 810 Cavalry of the U.S. Army, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: Well, file this story under no attempted good deed goes unpunished. Dateline, Sudan's Darfur region, where Africans who protested the pro-Arab government are now being brutalized by the Janjaweed militia. Well, many thousands of people have been raped, tortured or murdered; almost two million have fled for their lives.

Enter Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Paul Salopek. While employed by "The Chicago Tribune," Salopek was on a freelancing gig for National Geographic when he entered Darfur without permission to get the story. Pro-government forces arrested him. He's now in jail on spying and other charges.

Jim O'Shea, the "Trib"'s managing editor, is among those desperate to get Salopek out. He joins me from Chicago. Sure appreciate you joining us, Jim.

JIM O'SHEA, MANAGING EDITOR, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": That's OK, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Tell us what you know to this point. I guess, probably, we should lay out -- there are -- you don't know anything about your reporter involved in any type of spying, correct?

O'SHEA: Yes, that's -- we have no knowledge of anything like that. It's absolutely untrue. He is not a spy. He's an award- winning correspondent.

PHILLIPS: And let's talk about how Paul got in there. Do you think that he took a risky approach? Would he have been able to get the proper papers? What's your take on all of that?

O'SHEA: Well, you know, Paul was not really -- he was reporting on a piece for the "National Geographic" on the Sahel, which is a desert area near the border. And he was really doing a piece about the culture and politics of that area. And I -- we don't know how he actually got across the border, whether it was intentional or not. If it was intentional, that was not something he should have done and we have issued an apology to the government there, and saying that isn't -- wasn't a proper activity. But we really don't know the details of how he got in there and how he got arrested, because we've been able to talk to him on a very limited way.

PHILLIPS: As you know, as we set up this segment, we talked about the Janjaweed militia and the crimes against humanity that are taking place. Are you -- do you think that because he was going after a specific story, seeking out the truth in some way, that's the reason why this all happened?

O'SHEA: Well, I think, you know, it's a very complex problem. And I don't know that, you know, you can relate to his activity directly to one story or another. A lot of journalists have gone into the country in a similar manner, and the government has been very -- the government of Sudan has been very stingy in giving out visas. And so you're having these kinds of problems with reporters going in illegally.

As I said, Paul wasn't supposed to cross the border like that. And we have issued our apologies and have just asked them to deport him from the country, as they have done in the past.

PHILLIPS: Do you know anything about his conditions, how he's living, if they're treating him well?

O'SHEA: Yes, they are treating him well. He's in a jail in a courthouse in Darfur. He is being -- he's got -- he has food and water. We have -- our embassy there has been very good at providing food and water for him. And as far as we know, he's in good physical condition, particularly since the embassy was notified about a week and a half ago.

PHILLIPS: Now, what are you doing to try to get him released right now at this point? Is this a wait-and-see issue? Now that you have issued an apology, are you in constant talks with various members of the government?

O'SHEA: We are using both official and unofficial channels across a variety of efforts to try to get Paul out of there. And, you know, we are talking through political -- we've been in touch with the Sudanese embassy in Washington, the Sudanese ambassador, people in Khartoum, people in Darfur, in trying to see if we can secure his release.

PHILLIPS: What have -- I guess the buzz in the newsroom among reporters, your thoughts about the reality check of what's happening in this region, and how tough it is to cover certain types of stories. It's obviously a big risk for journalists, now that we see what's happened with Paul. What's the feeling about how to go forward covering this story, possibly investigating what's happening in this region more?

O'SHEA: Well, I've had any number of reporters come up to me and volunteer to go there to see if they could help out or to take up and report on the situation or help out Paul, or serve as a witness if -- in the event there's a trial. So I don't think it's discouraging people from wanting to go there. Our correspondents around the world are always going into pretty risky situations. And so I think, you know, you calculate the risk and then you go ahead and enter or go report your story. I don't think this situation has diminished anyone's appetite to do that.

PHILLIPS: Jim O'Shea, managing editor for "Chicago Tribune." We'll be thinking about Paul. We'll stay on the story. Jim, thanks so much.

O'SHEA: Thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: Well, further testament to Darfur's dangers. The International Committee of the Red Cross says it's learned that one of its staff members has been killed. A 31-year-old man, a Sudanese national, was seized two weeks ago after distributing food in north Darfur. The Red Cross has suspended its efforts in the area.

First responders become lasting heroes. Three Kentucky police officers put their own lives at risk to save the lone survivor of the Comair crash. You're going to hear from them, straight ahead on LIVE FROM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Firefighters on the line and using everything they can from bulldozers to planes to corral a wildfire raging east of Los Angeles. It's burning through the San Bernardino National Forest. About 2,000 acres and two homes so far. People in one community have been forced to leave. Folks in another are being urged to do the same. That fire sparked yesterday is barely 10 percent contained. Jacqui Jeras monitoring the situation for us. Jacqui?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes Kyra, this fire is burning so hot, that it's being detected right now on satellite imagery. And this is a Google Earth animation we put together for you. The red dots that you see here, these are large fires that have been burning for a little while yet. And the orange ones are relatively new. The emerald wildfire, we'll zoom in there for you and talk a little bit about some of the conditions that the firefighters are encountering. There you can see the fire. It is east of San Bernardino. It's burning about 2,000 acres.

And look at that rugged terrain right along highway 38 there. It's closed from Bryant to Forest Falls Turnout. And what they're encountering here is that the winds can slope down these mountains. They can heat up and accelerate. On top of that, it's tough to walk around. I know they're doing some aerial assaults, but look at how steep the terrain is there, making things very difficult for these guys -- Kyra?

PHILLIPS: All right, we'll keep following it, Jacqui, appreciate it.

Well three police officers braved the flames of Comair flight 5191 to save the lone survivor. They told their story to LIVE FROM earlier this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OFC. JAMES MAUPIN, BLUE GRASS AIRPORT PUBLIC SAFETY: Well, there was movement, and Jon and Bryan, they saw that there was movement, and they went right straight to him there and they got him out because of the movement that they saw.

PHILLIPS: Bryan, was he talking?

OFC. BRYAN JARED, LEXINGTON DIVISION OF POLICE: No, ma'am, not at that time, he was not talking to us.

PHILLIPS: Jon, did you get -- did you check to make sure he was still breathing? How did you know he was still alive?

OFC. JON SALLEE, BLUE GRASS AIRPORT PUBLIC SAFETY: Just in his actions. He was moving and we could tell he was breathing without -- just at the noises.

PHILLIPS: So, James, was it -- describe the fire. How big was it? I mean, did you have to literally go through the flames to get him out or was it getting worse as you were pulling him out?

MAUPIN: From our location -- we were at the front of the plane -- all the fire was behind us. So we really didn't deal with much fire because it was behind us. So we really didn't pay any attention to the fire.

Our main concern and our main goal was getting the patient out. Myself -- and I'm sure Bryan and Jon -- we didn't even think about the fire. Our main objective and our main goal at the time was getting the patient out, trying to get him help, and so that's what we did. PHILLIPS: Wow. And, Bryan, did you hear any other sounds or signs of life from anybody else? I know it was all probably happening so quickly, but did you think that possibly there might have been another survivor that you would need to go after?

JARED: You know, in that type of situation, all three of us were so focused on the co-pilot, it didn't really give us an opportunity to go ahead and -- I guess, like you said, the adrenaline is to observe what was going on around you.

You just kind of focused on that one person you would make a difference in. And we went ahead and did what we had to do to get him to safety and get him some medical attention. So like you said, I don't remember seeing anyone else at that time.

PHILLIPS: Jon, do you remember anything, hearing anything else or thinking to yourself, wow, we've got to get him out, we know he's alive, we might have to go back for more?

SALLEE: Initially, after we got the patient out we cried, went back and looked. Didn't see anybody. So after we got -- Pete and Jerry (ph) got him on the way to the hospital. I focused on firefighting at that time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well the 49 other people on the plane were killed. Today their families are holding a memorial at that crash site.

It was the leak that engulfed all of Washington and spawned a federal investigation. More than three years later, sources tell CNN it was former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage who revealed the identity to a CIA operative to newspaper columnist Robert Novak. It's not clear, sources say, whether Armitage knew Valerie Plame's identity was classified. In his column, Novak identified Plame as the husband of White House critic Joe Wilson, a former diplomat. No one has been indicted for leaking Plame's identity but the vice president's former chief of staff has been charged with lying about contacts that he had with reporters about Plame.

Just an everyday morning in rural Oklahoma, until this guy showed up. Then things started hopping. That story, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Tracking a fugitive. Preferred getaway? Hopping. Here's the perp. Police in Oklahoma were on the case after getting a call they almost didn't believe. Seems the man was sipping coffee on his back deck when he saw the escapee hopping down the road. Sheriff's deputies managed to block the kangaroo with its cars until its owner showed up to take him back home.

Closing bell about to ring on Wall Street. Susan Lisovicz standing by. The final look at the trading day. I guess that's been bumping up and down, too.

(MARKET REPORT)

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