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Mosque Attack; Attorney Firings Fallout
Aired June 13, 2007 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Heidi Collins.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown for you this morning.
Inside job. A top U.S. general says Iraqi security forces played a part in today's mosque bombing.
COLLINS: The search for a missing Fort Hood soldier ends with a sad discovery. Details about his death, live in a news conference next hour.
HARRIS: And weapons connection. The U.S. accuses Iran of helping the Taliban.
It is Wednesday, June the 13th and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: One of the holiest Shiite Muslim shrines in Iraq bombed again. Fear this morning the sectarian divisions already tearing the country apart will worsen. Police say insurgents targeted the remaining minarets of the mosque. It is the same holy site that was attacked in February of last year. That attack started a wave of sectarian clashes that has not stopped. Live to our Paula Hancocks now in Baghdad.
Paula, what are you hearing about who night might be responsible now for this attack?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, we've heard very clear accusations from U.S. and Iraqi officials, both sides, blaming al Qaeda. Now we heard from one general a little earlier on, General Mixon, who's head of the multinational division north. He told CNN that this was an inside job as far as he was concerned. He said that 15 of the security forces that were surrounding the mosque, that were there to protect the mosque, have been arrested. And this is also what we heard from Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister.
Now we've heard calls for restraint from many different sides. The radical Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, calling for restraint. Also the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
But we have been hearing in the past half hour or so from one interior ministry official that there has been an attack on a Sunni mosque in Baya (ph). This is southwestern of Baghdad. A Shiite neighborhood according to that official. The two guards who were on patrol there were moved away. The gunmen went inside and burned that particular mosque down.
We also heard increasing amounts of shooting in many different areas. Four neighborhoods, in particular, according to this one official.
But we do believe there is a curfew going in place at this moment. Just a couple of minutes ago that curfew in Baghdad and in Samarra should now be in place.
COLLINS: Paula, obviously evidence, then, that the sectarian tension that we saw before, the first time that this particular mosque was attacked, has certainly already elevated.
HANCOCKS: Well, that's right. That's the information we're getting from the interior ministry. And certainly from our location here as well, we can hear an increase in shooting just after -- in the early afternoon. Now certainly Nuri al-Maliki's government is hoping that by putting this curfew in place, it's going to calm things down in the short term. But certainly it cannot be an indefinite curfew in that respect. So certainly the next few days and weeks will be crucial to see exactly what sort of reaction there is going to be.
Now, as I said, there has been calls for restraint from all sides, but there was last time as well, back on February 22, 2006, the first attack. There were calls for restraints and they were ignored. COLLINS: Is anyone talking, Paula, about sitting down and having an actual meeting about this to try to avoid what we know happened last time around and, as we said in the introduction, history repeating itself?
HANCOCKS: Well, in the statement from Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric, he said that he wanted Iraqis to unite. He didn't believe that any Sunni or any Muslim would have been capable of carrying out this kind of attack. He put the blame firmly on the U.S. occupation forces, as he called them.
Now certainly he has said he wants Iraqis to unite and try and push the U.S. troops out together. But he has asked for this kind of restraint in the past and it simply hasn't worked. So at this point we know that the prime minister has met with the president, with the defense minister, with the interior minister. Certainly on the political level, they're sitting down and trying to figure out what they can do to try and calm these tensions certainly in the short term.
COLLINS: Quickly, before we let you go, I just want to make sure I understand you correctly. Muqtada al-Sadr is saying that the U.S. forces attacked this mosque?
HANCOCKS: In this particular statement, he blamed the invisible hand of the occupation forces. He is basically blaming the American forces, trying to unite the Iraqis to push the U.S. troops out of Iraq, or at least get a timetable for them to leave.
COLLINS: I see. All right, CNN's Paula Hancocks reporting live from Baghdad this morning.
Paula, thank you.
HARRIS: Well, we know this mosque in Samarra is one of the holiest places in Shia Islam. The Askariya Mosque is also known as the Golden Mosque. So what's the importance of this place? Well, it contains the tombs of the 10th and 11th Shiite imams who lived more than 1,200 years ago. Both of them descendants of the Prophet Mohammed. Shiites believe the 12th imam, who is the son and grandson of those buried there, will reappear at the mosque one day. The shrine's golden dome, which has now been bombed to rubble, was completed in 1905.
COLLINS: The body of a missing soldier found. Right now, Army investigators are trying to determine how he died. Searchers found the body of Sergeant Lawrence Sprader late last night. He disappeared at Fort Hood, Texas, Friday during an exercise to test map reading and navigation skills. Hundreds of soldiers scours the 15,000 acre training range. Army officials say nine other soldiers got lost during the exercise. All but Sprader managed to return safely to a rallying point. Sprader's body was sent for an autopsy to determine a cause of death.
HARRIS: Tensions build and so does Washington's case against Iran. Earlier this morning, a senior U.S. diplomat told CNN that Washington now has proof that Iran is arming the Taliban in Afghanistan. The militant group has been regaining strength there after the U.S.-led war ousted them from power after the 9/11 attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICHOLAS BURNS, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: We have substantial evidence, General Pete Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said about six weeks ago that the Iranians had been transferring arms to the Taliban inside Afghanistan. Some of those arms shipments have been intercepted by NATO forces. It's quite surprising because, as you remember, the Iranians have been -- had said they were the mortal enemies of the Taliban in 2001 and '02, but there's irrefutable evidence the Iranians are now doing this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Burns says NATO must do something to halt the shipments. Washington has long accused Iran of arming insurgents in Iraq.
COLLINS: Cleaning up and counting their blessings. Wind, rain, lightning and hail. Some folks in eastern U.S. and the Midwest got it all. A string of storms yesterday causing damage. Thankfully, no injuries. Flash flooding in the Midwest prompted at least one rescue. The storm brought up to nine inches of rain to southwest Nebraska. Funnel clouds spotted over central Florida. Wild weather, all the way up to New England.
HARRIS: Chad, what do you think, a break for the folks in Nebraska and the Midwest so they can sort of dry out and pick up the pieces a little bit here? (WEATHER REPORT)
COLLINS: A prosecutor on trial. A police investigator back on the stand today in Raleigh, North Carolina. Testimony resumed this morning in the ethics trial of Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong. He is accused of violating state rules of professional conduct during the Duke lacrosse case. A stripper accused three lacrosse players of rape, but the players were later cleared by the state attorney. Yesterday a police investigators testified he expressed concern about lack of evidence. Nifong could lose his law license if convicted.
HARRIS: Our congressional correspondent Dana Bash is on the phone with us right now.
And, Dana, we are learning from you that the first subpoena has been issued to a White House employee in the U.S. attorneys investigation. Good morning, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Tony.
Well, CNN has learned that it has not already gone out, that it will go out very shortly. This is a subpoena to a former political director at the White House, Sara Taylor. Now this is significant in that this is, in the months of the struggle between Congress and the administration on these fired federal prosecutors, this is going to be the first time we are going to see a subpoena actually go out to somebody who worked inside the White House. This Sara Taylor was, just until really a few weeks ago, she just left the White House, she was a key deputy to Karl Rove, of course, the president's chief political adviser.
And so what the committee has wanted to know from her, as they have from other people who worked in the White House, is, what the White House's role was with these fired federal prosecutors, because they are trying -- having been trying to figure out, they have been investigating, whether politics was at play here.
Now, this is, again, the first time we are going to actually see a subpoena go for somebody who worked inside the White House. Obviously it will set off a big political fight, which has already been going on, but also a constitutional showdown because the White House has made abundantly clear they do not want anybody who was essentially an aide to the president, not confirmed by Congress, to come before Congress. They say that that is generally a matter of executive privilege.
I can also tell you, Tony, that we expect this is not the end of it. We do expect probably we will see others coming down as soon as today.
HARRIS: Hey, Dana, can she be shielded? You mentioned she's a former political director at the White House. Can she be shielded by the White House or does she, in essence, have to cut her own deal? BASH: That's a very good question. You know, we saw -- probably a little bit different, but what we saw with the recent testimony by Monica Goodling at the -- she worked at the Justice Department -- she essentially cut her own deal, but that was something that she decided to do. She decided that she would make a deal for immunity with the House Judiciary Committee and come before Congress.
But this is something that the White House is going to be, I can guarantee you, heavily involved in. White House Counsel Fred Fielding was essentially brought in as White House counsel just a short while ago to try to deal with these kinds of issues because he has experience in dealing with Congress and he has been in close contact with the Senate Judiciary Committee about these issues. So, you know, you can bet that this is going to be a matter that is going to be involving everybody inside the White House, including the president.
HARRIS: And, Dana, this sounds like standard prosecutorial stair step procedure here where you start with a Sara Taylor to get to Karl Rove and then perhaps even former White House Counsel Harriet Miers?
BASH: Well, possibly. You know, the other theory here, and we're just getting this information and we'll be certainly reporting it more throughout the day, Tony, but the other thing is that, you know, I talked to one source, democratic source, who said, they understand that the White House is going to fight tooth and nail to prevent Karl Rove from coming and testifying before Congress. That they will -- you know, that they -- that that would be a constitutional showdown that they already know that they will have. This, perhaps, would be a way, from the perspective of Democrats on Capitol Hill, to get information about what happened with Karl Rove, with other senior level people inside the White House without actually having to go through that.
HARRIS: Got you. Got you.
BASH: So we'll see what happens. We'll see what the response is when this -- it is actually issued to Sara Taylor. And again, we should point out that we do expect that this might not be the end of it. There might be other subpoenas going down. We do know -- actually I should mention that documents will also be subpoenaed from inside the White House. Not just Sara Taylor, the documents, but another figure might be coming later on today. And we'll let you know about that.
HARRIS: Our congressional correspondent Dana Bash with us this morning.
Dana, appreciate it. Great information. Thank you.
COLLINS: No soldier left behind. It's a robot's mission. Technohero on the battlefield, but can it work? We'll take a closer look in the NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: Taking the airlines to task. A passenger's rights group releases a report card. Who passes and who gets failing grades? That story straight ahead for you in the NEWSROOM. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hamas militants in Gaza have launched an all-out offensive against their political rivals, killing dozens. I'll have a live report for you when we come back.
COLLINS: And forget the smores, pass the fingerprinting kit. Summer camp for the aspiring crime fighter. We'll tell you all about it ahead in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Quickly want to get back to our Dana Bash who is on the phone with us. Now Dana first breaking this news about the subpoenas that have apparently gone to the White House. The first, in fact, in the case of the U.S. attorney's firings. And we are learning more information now.
Dana, what do you have?
BASH: Well, Heidi, we were just talking about the fact that we thought we would have another piece of information about a senior figure that will be subpoenaed today and now we do. This comes to us by way of our congressional producer Ted Barrett, that Harriet Miers, who of course was the president's White House counsel up until about six months ago or so, she also will be receiving a subpoena from Capitol Hill today from Congress.
What's going to happen is, on the House side, the House Judiciary Committee will issue the subpoena for former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and the Senate Judiciary Committee will issue the subpoena for the former political director at the White House, Sara Taylor, which is what we were talking about just a few minutes ago.
But the new information is that Harriet Miers, who, of course, was the White House counsel, and also the president's former pick for the Supreme Court, she will be receiving a subpoena from the U.S. Congress about her role inside the White House counsel's office in the fired federal prosecutors' issue.
COLLINS: All right, Dana, so so far we have learned Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor. Do me a favor, if you would, just in case people are just now tuning in and did not see our prior discussions moments ago about what all of this means and also how close it is to Karl Rove.
BASH: Absolutely. What all this -- this is very significant, Heidi, because, you know, we have been reporting for months about the showdown between Congress and the Bush administration over this fired federal prosecutor's issue. This is the first time we are seeing Congress actually issue subpoenas for senior level people inside the White House, top aides to President Bush. And it is significant because this is something that Congress has threatened to do, they were saying that if these figures, Harriet Miers, Sara Taylor and others didn't come before Congress voluntarily, they would use their subpoena power.
Well, now you've seen this happen. So this is going to be not only a huge political fight, but also potentially a constitutional showdown because the White House historically, and especially with this particular fight over the federal prosecutors issue, they have said that they don't think it's appropriate for members of the president's staff, aides inside the White House who are not confirmed by the U.S. Congress, to come and talk to the U.S. Congress.
So there has been a lot of discussions and talks behind the scenes, Heidi, between senior people inside Congress, like Senator Patrick Leahy, the Senate Judiciary Chairman, the judiciary chairman on the House side as well, John Conyers, talking with the White House, trying to come up with some kind of solution short of actually coming and testifying. But they haven't been able to do that so far. So this is what we're seeing subpoenas for. Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor.
Now Sara Taylor, Heidi, was, just until a few weeks ago, a top deputy to Karl Rove. Karl Rove is the name here that you're not hearing. There is no subpoena for Karl Rove. That is still a fight that is looming between Congress and the White House over whether or not Karl Rove should come in and talk to Congress about this issue.
COLLINS: Would you characterize that as highly unlikely, Dana, or too soon to tell?
BASH: Well, you know, it's interesting. I think it's definitely noteworthy that Congress pull the trigger, for lack of a better term, on these subpoenas and will do so today for White House officials and Karl Rove is not one of them. Now whether that was a tactical move that, you know, better to go for somebody who, like Sara Taylor, who perhaps is less politically explosive, it's unclear. We'll be learning that as we continue to report this in the hours to come.
But if you're the White House, I presume this -- it doesn't matter who the name is on the subpoena, their principle is that they, meaning the president, does not want anybody who is an aide inside the White House to come and testify. It would likely result in the same kind of showdown between Congress and the White House.
COLLINS: All right. Dana Bash watching it all for us and breaking the news here for us on CNN. The first two subpoenas sent to the White House for the U.S. attorneys' firings. And, again, those names, Sara Taylor and Harriet Miers, should be receiving them soon.
HARRIS: Boy, this is so interesting because it feels, and we're going to talk to, in just a moment, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin about this, but it feels as though this is a classic prosecutorial technique where you just sort of build the case, build the case, and work your way up the ladder. It seems clear that ultimately the investigative panels want to hear from White House Adviser Karl Rove, but that at least at this point the approach seems to be, Jeffrey Toobin, I know you're with us now, to go after with subpoenas people who are no longer in the White House, Sara Taylor and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the approach. But this is not likely to lead to any immediate testimony any time soon. The White House has made clear that they will cite executive privilege for conversations that took place within the White House on the U.S. Attorney matter. And if the people with those conversations happen to have subsequently left the White House, that doesn't matter. You're still going to cite executive privilege and these people are not going be to allowed to testify any time soon, it appears, if the White House policy remain as it has been.
HARRIS: Even if they want to testify?
TOOBIN: Even if they want to testify.
HARRIS: So where does this likely go? I mean, if you look down the road far enough, it's court challenge after court challenge after court challenge on this issue of executive privilege.
TOOBIN: Well, there hasn't even been one court challenge yet. I mean this has not yet been escalated into the courts. That, presumably, is the next possible step.
There is the possibility of some negotiations. The way subpoenas to the White House usually work, certainly the way they worked during the Clinton years, was that there was a negotiation between the White House and Congress over what information could be provided and ultimately some sort of a accommodation was reached. There doesn't appear to have been any progress in that direction with Congress here.
It is possible Congress could vote to hold Harriet Mier or Sara Taylor or anyone else in contempt and then go to the courts to try to enforce it. That's a very cumbersome, long process that in the administration that has less than a year and a half to go does not seem to be one that will lead to any sort of resolution even during this Bush presidency.
HARRIS: And, Jeffrey, if you would, just remind everyone at home what it is Congress is trying to -- Democrats in Congress are trying to get at here.
TOOBIN: What they are trying to get at is, eight United States attorneys were fired.
TOOBIN: To this day, no one precisely knows why they were fired. There is a suggestion that at least some of them were fired because they were either prosecuting too many Republicans or not prosecuting enough Democrats. That there were partisan, political motives for those firings and that's what the Democrats have been asserting and there is at least some circle proof that this is accurate. They are trying to go to the White House, to the officials they believe were involved in the firing, starting with Karl Rove, but also including very prominently the former White House counsel, former Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers, to determine what role they played in firing these U.S. attorneys and what the reasons were.
HARRIS: No crime to this point. Even a suggestion that a crime was committed here? TOOBIN: In my examination of this case, I have seen no evidence of any criminal activity. None. None at all. That's not to say that there isn't the possibility some highly inappropriate behavior.
TOOBIN: If the president had fired a U.S. attorney for partisan, political reason, that is a very serious thing. And that is something worthy of investigation. And if it's true, serious condemnation. But in terms of criminal activity, I see no evidence of any.
HARRIS: So the case that Democrats are trying to make here is, hey, look this is what the White House did. It is inappropriate. Here is how the White House politicized the Justice Department in a way that you, at home, should be aware of and you should make a determination as to whether or not this is the way you want your Justice Department to be manipulated, would be the words the Democrats would use in this way?
TOOBIN: Congress, the Democrats in Congress, are saying, we are doing something that the Republican Congress never did for six years, which is oversight. Looking at how the executive branch behaves, looking at what the White House does and saying, is this how the government should be run?
TOOBIN: Certainly that's the responsibility of Congress that has been very much in the background, to put it charitably, over the past six years. Whether the Democrats are acting out of genuine concern for how the government is run or for their own political motives, to embarrass a Republican White House is, of course, the other part of this story. But, certainly, congressional oversight is a long standing responsibility of the Congress and that's what they're doing here.
HARRIS: Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin with us this morning.
Jeffrey, great to talk to you. Thanks.
TOOBIN: Good to talk to you.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Gerri Willis.
Do college costs have you down? There may be some good news for students on the horizon. We'll explain, coming up next on "Top Tips" in the NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: Check out the big board, New York Stock Exchange. As you can see, the DOW up 95 points, a bit of a surprise. A lot of concerns out there over interest rates and some economic data coming in this morning. So there were concerns that the market might have a bit of a bumpy ride, but at least in the early going, an hour into the trading day, the DOW up 95 points, the NASDAQ, up 14 points. We're checking the business news of the morning with Susan Lisovicz, in just a couple of minutes right here in CNN NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: First of all, we want to take a moment to remind you of the story that we are covering as breaking news here, and just into us at CNN. Our Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash telling us some interesting information regarding the 2006 firings of eight U.S. attorneys, we've been talking quite a bit about it on CNN.
We have learned, through Dana Bash, that the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee will issue its first subpoena to the White House to this woman here, Sara Taylor (ph). She is a former White House political director and trying to find out what, if anything, she may have to say, regarding that case.
Also, about the same time, or just a few moments later, Dana Bash did tell us that the House Judiciary Committee will also issue a subpoena in this same case, of course, to former White House counsel, Harriette Maiers (ph), you see her there.
So once again, the first two subpoenas coming from different places, the Senate Judiciary Committee issuing the subpoena to Sara Taylor and the House Judiciary Committee issuing a subpoena to White House counsel Harriette Maiers. We will continue to follow that story and what sort of impact it may have.
College, it is part of the American dream. But rising costs are now pushing it out of reach for many people. Now, one California lawmaker is introducing a measure that could slash costs and increase opportunities.
Here to explain more, CNN's Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis. And Gerri, we know that ...
GERRI WILLIS, PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Hi, Heidi.
COLLINS: ...Congressman George Miller introduced this bill. Tell us exactly what it will do.
WILLIS: Well, this is interesting stuff. Congressman Miller is calling this the, "largest investment" in college aid since the G.I. Bill in 1944. But, let's break it down and see what's on the table here.
The maximum value for example, of the Pell Grant Scholarship would increase by 500 bucks over the next 5 years. Now, this is expected to help about 5.5 million low and moderate income students, according to the House Committee. This bill also proposes to cut interest rates on needs-based student loans to 3.4 percent from 6.8 percent. That's a big deal happening over the next five years if the bill goes into law.
Loan forgiveness for certain professions, like teachers has always been around. But under this legislation, there will also be an expanded definition of public service professionals who can get loan forgiveness. So, librarians, public defenders, police officers or firefighters can qualify. This bill will also let those in public service have their loans forgiven after ten years instead of 25.
And finally, another important part of this legislation, juniors and seniors in college will also be able to borrow more money from the government through the Stafford Loan Program. Previously, only $5500 was allowed to be borrowed annually. Now, that amount would go to $7500 each year -- Heidi.
COLLINS: It is very interesting, a lot of different rules and regulations here on all of it. How, then, will the proposals in the bill actually be funded?
WILLIS: Well, in short, the money is intended to come from lenders' pockets, believe it or not. The bill proposes to cut subsidies paid by the federal government to lenders in the student loan industry. Experts we talked to indicated that lenders won't like this, obviously, and may threaten to cut loan discounts that are offered to students, but I have to tell you, this is a competitive industry and it's unlikely they'll be able to do that.
COLLINS: Yes, all right, that's interesting, too. So what happens next then?
WILLIS: Well, the panel will vote on this later in the week and the Senate will look at their own version of the bill that was introduced by Senator Kennedy next Wednesday. The two houses will likely make amendments and send this on to be signed by the president, and the first wave of changes could come as early as October of this year. Of course, we'll be following the issue closely, we'll let you know what happens, Heidi.
COLLINS: All right, CNN's personal finance editor, Gerri Willis this morning. Thank you.
WILLIS: Thank you, Heidi.
HARRIS: And a bit of a sad news to report to you this morning. We are getting word from the Georgia Aquarium right here in Atlanta, not very far from the CNN Center in downtown Atlanta, that one of the aquarium's whale sharks has actually died. The whale shark known as Norton (ph) died this morning. The aquarium's president and executive director issuing a statement saying Norton had stopped eating and was showing some erratic swimming behavior over the past few months.
You may remember that back in January, another whale shark, Ralph, died at the aquarium. But the news this morning that one of the star attractions at the Georgia Aquarium, the whale shark, Norton, has died.
COLLINS: A crippling strike in South Africa, workers out on the street, the government under fire. That story ahead in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Massive strikes bringing things to a standstill in South Africa. Thousands of people walking off the job, part of the dispute over wages. CNN's Fredricka Whitfield is live now in Johannesburg, South Africa. Fred, tell us, if you would, what the impact is of today's boycott. What's it having on everyday life there in Johannesburg?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, everyday life has been disrupted for many people because already, lots of schools have closed, lots of businesses in downtown Johannesburg, like you see behind me, have been closed today, as has been the case across the country. But, it hasn't been the complete country-wide shutdown that a number of the protesters who came out today in support of the Public Service Workers Union had been hoping for.
Still, many people were on the streets, thousands of them, in fact, singing, chanting, marching. It was non-violent, but there have been some other problems reported.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): From Cape Town to Johannesburg, allegations that an increasingly tense, Public Service Workers Union strike has led to injuries and even worse, death. In Durban, a 19- year-old mother-to-be is hospitalized, the baby she carried for eight months, dead.
JANE DLAMINI, GRANDMOTHER: It's very, very bad because I lose my first grandchild.
WHITFIELD: Because, she say it, took 12 hours to reach the hospital, when no ambulances responded to the emergency calls. The nation is feeling the effect of a walkout by thousands of workers, including nurses and teachers, on strike for nearly two weeks. The government wants to give them 6.5 percent pay raises, the union demands 12. The public service workers, earning an average of less than a thousand a month, have not received a pay hike in three years.
But the government argues, inflation has been cut in half since 2003, to five percent, and contend the proposed offer is generous.
Some patients arriving at hospitals like this one in Johannesburg are torn between personal concerns and sympathy for the strikers. This woman has been waiting three months for gall bladder surgery and was turned away. Not enough staff, the couple says.
JOHNNY FREEMAN, PATIENT'S HUSBAND: I do think they should get a raise. But do it in an alternative way, not for people to suffer like this.
MARY LOUW, PATIENT: If they give these the 12 percent that they deserve, then at least there won't be people dying.
WHITFIELD: Union shop steward Lillian Shezi is on the picket line because she says family's predicament is common, where the unemployment rate is nearly 40 percent. A nurse for 31 years, she supports her three adult children, all jobless, and three grandchildren. LILLIAN SHEZI, UNION SHOP STEWARD: If I don't get enough money to look after myself and my family, I won't be able to deliver the right services.
WHITFIELD: This is a pivotal moment for South Africa's democracy. The unions and the party now leading the government strug together to free this country from apartheid.
(on camera): Now more than a decade later, they are at odds over how to run the economy.
WHITFIELD: And the public service workers union now says that it's willing to compromise by settling for a 10 percent pay raise instead of 12 percent that they orginally proposed. While the government, they're saying they'll go as high as 7.5 percent. Heidi, it's clear that this might go on for a bit longer, maybe even weeks more, because these two somehow have to find some compromise in the middle.
COLLINS: But the two sides, Fred, are still talking, is that right? Are there any more planned negotiations where the two sides will actually sit down and try to hash this out even further?
WHITFIELD: They are still talking. Apparently even tomorrow, they're supposed to get back to the table and try to negotiate some more.
But there isn't a lot of confidence that's being expressed from a number of the union worker across the country, not just the public service union workers, but other union workers as well. They're saying the tomorrow line is they just want to put food on the table, and they look at the rate of inflation and see that the only way in order to make ends meet is that they get at least 10 percent. It's going to be interesting to see if the government agrees with them and will meet them at that 10 percent.
COLLINS: All right. CNN's Fredricka Whitfield coming to us live today from Johannesburg. Fred, thank you.
HARRIS; Taking the airlines to task. A passenger's rights group releases a report card. Who passes and who gets failing grades? That's ahead in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Keeping track of airline inconveniences. A passenger's rights group, just out with its report card this morning. Overall, some major carriers getting axed. American rated the worth worst in dealing with stranded passenger. United and U.S. Airways also get failing grades. And Delta, continental, JetBlue, barely getting by -- they get D's for their overall performance. Top grades go to Hawaiian Airlines, Aloha Airlines, doesn't seem fair. And Southwest, too. They were cited for going above and beyond. We want to point this out, this is a nonscientific survey of media reports and eyewitness accounts. It was compiled by the Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights.
HARRIS: And still to come, not just swimming and hiking for these kids this summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I learned about blood-typing, hair samples, fingerprinting, bones, all sorts of stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: It's called CSI Camp. We'll tell you about it, show you more of the pictures, right here in NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: The fbi's new $40 million jet, a weapon in the war on terror or an overpriced taxi for FBI officials? A closer look in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Quickly want to take you to Raleigh, Durham, North Carolina, where we show you some new video coming in. As you probably well know, Durham county district attorney Mike Nifong is on trial now. We are looking at pictures of Reade Seligmann. He is a former lacrosse player at Duke, one of the accused. You remember way back in March of 2006, Nifong, as a prosecutor, was trying to handle this case. Allegations that a stripper was raped and beaten at a party thrown by the Duke lacrosse players.
We now know that Reade Seligmann is expected to address the bar at some point during this trial. Of course, we are talking about, bottom line here, whether or not Mike Nifong will lose his law license and possibly be disbarred here.
Live pictures now coming in as well. Once again, that's Reade Seligmann one of the accused lacrosse players. Those charges have been dropped. Now sitting at the trial.
As you can say, the coin has flipped in this case where he is sitting at Nifong's trial as opposed to the opposite that happened earlier.
We continue to follow this one for you, let you know if Mr. Seligman will take the stand and have some things to say.
HARRIS: It was supposed to be an important weapon in the war on terror, a $40 million jet bought with taxpayer money, but anti-terror operations may no longer be its main mission.
CNN's Jeanne Meserve has the story.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Gulfstream 5, like this one, was supposed to be used for crucial counterterrorism missions, like transporting terror suspects. But about 25 percent of the time, the FBI says, it is transporting the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, on official business. For instance, to speeches, and visits to field offices.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: There was a bait and switch. When I vote for a bill for a plane that's supposed to be used to haul terrorists around, I don't figure I'm voting for a plane for a private taxi for the director.
MESERVE: An FBI spokesman says Mueller's use of the aircraft, with its secure communications gear, is not about convenience. He asks what if the country was hit by terrorists and the FBI director was flying commercially?
JOHN MILLER, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: And the director of the FBI, who was traveling on FBI business, was stuck in some airport when all flights were canceled and couldn't get back and had no secure communications? People would ask, and rightly so, is that responsible when his agency has the tools to move him around in a way that's more effective and operational.
MESERVE: The FBI insists Mueller's use of the aircraft does not interfere with its deployment for counterterror operations, and that Mueller never uses the Gulfstream for personal trips.
(on camera): Justice Department official says Attorney General Alberto Gonzales also uses the FBI's Gulfstream, but how often, we do not know, another reason why Senator Grassley wants a full accounting.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
COLLINS: Searchers find a missing soldier's body. Now Army investigates are try to figure out how he got lost and how he died. The search for answers in the NEWSROOM.
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