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AMERICAN MORNING

Iran's Supreme Leader Addresses the Nation on Disputed Elections; A Look at the CIA's View of Iran's Election Turmoil; Is Feminism Obsolete?; U.S. Boosts Missile Defense; Grieving Father Turns Anger into Activism; Air France Wreckage Found; Obama's Father's Day Message

Aired June 19, 2009 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, thanks for joining us on the "Most News in the Morning." It's a Friday, it's the 19th of June. I'm John Roberts.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CO-ANCHOR: And I'm Carol Costello filling in for Kiran Chetry. Boy, there's a lot happening this morning.

ROBERTS: Isn't there, though?

COSTELLO: Yes. So let's get right to it. We're following several developing stories and we'll break them down for you in the next 15 minutes.

Just moments ago, Iran's supreme leader spoke. He said the people picked who they wanted to be as president. And that means for the political drama playing out -- as for what that means for the political drama playing out in Iran, who knows right now?

Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour will join us live in just a few minutes to try to explain what went down just moments ago.

Is North Korea planning some July 4th fireworks? The U.S. beefing up missile defenses around Hawaii after reports Pyongyang is preparing to fire its most advanced ballistic missile toward the island. The U.S. military also tracking a North Korean ship believed to be carrying nuclear material. We're live at the Pentagon.

And more wreckage found from Air France Flight 447. Salvage crews raising the plane's kitchen galley from the Atlantic almost completely intact. What it could tell investigators about how the airbus fell from the sky.

ROBERTS: All of that coming up. Breaking news to tell you about right off the top here, though.

Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, spoke just moments ago. He said that there was definitive victory in the country's disputed elections and that it's Iran's enemies claiming that the elections were rigged.

Our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is following the speech. She's live in London for us this morning. Christiane, there was the familiar tirade against the west. We even heard chants of "death to America" during the supreme leaders's speech. And he seemed to leave little question that he thought the results of the election were valid.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It was a very expansive, an unprecedented speech, in which he started it within the two parts. One was a very religious and prayerful part in which he talked about peace and tranquility and God's blessings needed at this time. But after that, he turned to specifically addressing the elections and he announced that he wants to address the elections and the turmoil, as he put it, following them.

He spoke very pointedly in several ways. He talked about the historic turnout of 85 percent. He said this proves the legitimacy of our system. If people did not have trust in the election process, this number of people wouldn't have turned out. He then talked about the differences between the candidates and, again, he again said that this is not, as some people would like, some people outside of the country, a difference between candidates outside the establishment and inside the establishment.

This is not revolutionary differences. These are differences within the establishment. And he went on to talk about President Ahmadinejad and each and everyone of the candidates summing up all their long-time revolutionary credentials and how they worked all their careers for the revolution and for the Islamic Republic of Iran.

So again saying, do not think outside world. That this was an attempt to change the system. This was just politics within the system.

Then he talked about the debates. He said that this was a very interesting, free exchange of views amongst all the candidates. He praised that. But he also criticized what he called the insults that were flying around the debate. He criticized implicitly President Ahmadinejad for accusing former President Hashemi Rafsanjani of corruption along with his family. He said none of this was proven, and that Hashemi Rafsanjani had sterling revolutionary credentials and that he had known him for more than 50 years.

On the other hand, he said that he believed and was closer to some of Ahmadinejad's cultural policies. He then went on to talk about the street rallies right now. And most importantly, he called on them to stop. He said I urge everyone to stop this display in the streets and to take complaints and challenges through the Guardian Council.

So this was a very clear message now that after a week of these street protests. He also spoke against the U.S. and the UK for wanting to see a different result and not having their way. He spoke about President Obama who words apparently attributed to him that they were waiting for a day to see people in the streets. And he said, on the other hand, we receive letters and messages that they want ties and respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Which are we to believe? John?

ROBERTS: Christiane Amanapour for us from London this morning with that. Christiane, thanks so much.

Christiane, by the way, takes a closer look at the disputed election this weekend. You can watch "Amanpour Reports: Anatomy of an Election," Saturday and Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. That's only here on CNN.

Carol?

COSTELLO: We wish we can bring you a live report from inside Iran right now, but the government is only allowing us one report a day. In spite of that, protesters using Twitter and Facebook and other social networking sites to let the world know what's going on. And, of course, we're keeping a close eye on all of that.

Ivan Watson is manning CNN's new Iran desk this morning. Anything new coming in in light of the speech?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, yes. You know, Ali Khamenei, he went on to really rail against what he called the Zionist media, the western media having it out for Iran. So this is what we're doing. We're gathering some of this information over here.

It's quite early. The Ayatollah Khamenei is still praying but we've gotten some results coming in. There's been a lot of interest. People following the speech itself.

One tweeter here saying that clearly a coup has happened and now the prelude to a clampdown. Iran is at a crossroads.

We have another point here. This gentleman here was just basically sending up-to-date comments on what exactly Ali Khamenei was saying. For instance, at one point he said, "And you tell us that you are worried about human rights?" This is the supreme leader of Iran speaking to the west saying how dare you criticize our human rights record. And we're going to be following as Iran -- as Iranians react to this historic speech.

COSTELLO: Yes. I'm sure we're getting more and more throughout the morning. Thanks, Ivan.

You at home have been weighing in on this massive election, the massive protests in Iran. Here's a sample of some of the calls we're getting on our amFIX hotline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET, VIEWER FROM ANONYMOUS PLACE (via telephone): I was actually in Iran during the regime change in 1979 through 1983. And I'm so happy to see this of young people are trying to do something to change Iran.

STACEY, VIEWER FROM FLORIDA (via telephone): Whether or not the outcome changes, the point has been made. They are ready to be an active participant in their democracy and I'm very proud of them.

DWIGHT, VIEWER FROM FLORIDA (via telephone): One side says the president is doing too much. The other side says the president is doing too little. So no one is happy. That would suggest maybe he struck the right balance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: That's an interesting way to look at it. I like that. Good for you.

Of course, you know, Iran is becoming a delicate balancing act for President Obama as you heard from our viewers. And the president is getting an earful from the number two Republican in the House over how he's handling the situation.

ROBERTS: All right. House Majority Whip Eric Cantor says the U.S. has a "moral responsibility" to condemn Iranian government attacks on protesters, but President Obama is defending his approach. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the president believes he has struck the right tone in responding to Iran.

Other stories new to tell you about this morning. Holocaust Museum shooting suspect James von Brunn, well, apparently he wasn't just a purveyor of hate according to the FBI. Investigators also found child pornography on a computer belonging to him. The computer was seized from von Brunn's apartment in Annapolis, Maryland.

The FBI says it also found ammunition for a .22 rifle while searching von Brunn's car. The 88-year-old white supremacist is accused of fatally shooting museum security officer Stephen Tyrone Johns last week.

Nevada Senator John Ensign helped his mistress's husband get two jobs while they were carrying on their affair. But a spokesman suggests, it was business as usual, saying the senator has done the same for other staff members. Ensign this week admitted to having an affair with an aide, Cindy Hampton. Her husband, Doug, also worked for the senator.

And we are monitoring developments in Iran this morning. We're going to speak with former CIA operations officer Gary Berntsen about the U.S. response to the election unrest and the war in Afghanistan. He has just recently returned from Afghanistan. He says he's horrified by how that war is being managed. More with Gary Berntsen coming right up.

Nine minutes now after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Don't you wish you were in Fort Lauderdale? I do. Even though there are thunderstorms there later today, it's still 87 degrees, I believe, exactly. Who cares?

ROBERTS: It's every day in Florida. You know, out here in the northeast, you get thunderstorms, you get monsoon rains, you get temperatures in the 60s when it's the middle of June. And you're what the -- COSTELLO: I know. It has not stopped raining in the northeast for, what, months?

ROBERTS: And there's going to be horrible storms across the Midwest as well today. You know, the northern part of the Midwest, the rotten summer of '09 continues.

COSTELLO: Exactly. OK, So I'll go to Fort Lauderdale tomorrow. I'm leaving.

ROBERTS: I'll go with you.

COSTELLO: This morning, Texas' own Bernie Madoff is in doing federal court to face fraud charges. Billionaire R. Allen Stanford surrendered yesterday to FBI agents in Virginia. Stanford is accused of an $8 billion fraud scheme for advising clients to buy certificates of deposits from his Antigua-based bank.

A federal judge wants to look at notes from the FBI's interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney during the investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The judge says the Justice Department must give him more precise reasons for keeping information on the leak of a CIA officer's identity confidential.

And if you bought tickets to yesterday's U.S. Open at the Bethpage Black, you were out of luck and probably soaking wet. The fairways resembled rivers instead of greens. And get this, fans who paid 100 bucks for tickets to the rain-soaked opening round will get no rain check, no refund, and there's no exception. The USGA won't exactly say why.

ROBERTS: Except maybe they'll say we can't control the weather. What do you think?

COSTELLO: That would satisfy me as a consumer.

ROBERTS: Yes. Me too.

COSTELLO: Right.

ROBERTS: Back to our story this morning, the political drama that's playing out in Iran. The country's supreme leader just moments ago defending the election results and blaming the country's enemies for trying to cast doubt on the legitimacy.

Our next guest knows that part of the world very well. Gary Berntsen spent 23 years as an operations officer in the CIA. He led forces in Afghanistan during the fight for Tora Bora. He's also the author of "Human Intelligence, Counterterrorism & National Leadership." He joins us now.

So I don't know if you heard everything that the ayatollah had to say, Gary, during his speech. But --

GARY BERNTSEN, AUTHOR, "HUMAN INTELLIGENCE, COUNTERTERRORISM & NATIONAL LEADERSHIP: Yes, I listened to the speech. ROBERTS: Well, you know what he said, he was blaming a lot of these on the west. They were chants of "death to America" in the audience that was listening to him.

Now, obviously, they're trying to blame this all on western countries, the UK, the United States. The Obama administration studiously trying to stay out of the fray so that they can't blame America for all of this. The approach that the White House is taking, do you think it's the right one or the wrong one?

BERNTSEN: Well, clearly, the Obama administration was trying to take a sort of a center ground there because we wanted to avoid just what's happened. And Khamenei is attempting to blame his problems on foreign forces, particularly the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, which, of course, we have no hand in. They're doing a great job of causing themselves significant problems with their theft of the election.

ROBERTS: So John McCain was on with us the other day and he thought that the Obama administration was taking absolutely the wrong tact here. That they should stand up for fairness and democracy, freedom of elections. But then there's this other school of thought that if the U.S. were to do that, it might give Iran's ruling regime reason to say this is all America's fault.

BERNTSEN: Right.

ROBERTS: You know, chance at the great satan again resonating through the streets of Iran and it could snuff out the reform movement. Do you think that there is that danger?

BERNTSEN: Well, the first rule in foreign policy is the do no harm and that's what the Obama administration is trying to do. They're trying to do no harm. They're trying to take the center ground. I probably would have taken the center ground myself. I recognize, too, that, you know we morally want to support democratic movements but this is a unique situation and we don't want this newly born movement crushed as it's being born.

ROBERTS: All right. Of course, all of this is next door to Afghanistan. You just recently came back from there. And we should point out too that there's a national geographic special that's based around your book, "Jaw Breaker" which was about the fight for Tora Bora.

You came back you said you've got serious concerns about what's going on in Afghanistan. What are you concerned about, Gary?

BERNTSEN: Well, two years ago when I was out there serving as an adviser with the U.S. Army, you know, it was a border war at that point where we were fighting and all of those provinces along the border and even in some places two provinces deep. Now, we've got the Taliban attacking coalition and Afghan forces in all 34 provinces. This thing is a lot deeper. It's significant. We've lost 1,400 Afghan national police this year.

I know there's a lot of people who like to criticize the Afghan national police and say they're a corrupt organization, but the reality is there's a lot of young guys who aren't highly trained who are fighting, you know, to try to save their country and losing their lives in very, very large numbers.

ROBERTS: And quickly, Gary, how long do you think we're going to be tied up in Afghanistan?

BERNTSEN: Minimum, ten more years?

ROBERTS: Wow. Gary Berntsen for us this morning from Washington. Gary, it's always good to see you. Thanks for dropping by.

BERNTSEN: A pleasure, John.

ROBERTS: And a reminder that the special "CIA Confidential Hunt for bin Laden" is on the National Geographic Channel this Sunday night. That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

It's now 16 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: We're back with the "Most News in the Morning." You know, every Friday, Carol touches on a hot button issue that we hope will generate some strong opinions from you. The segment is called, "Just Sayin'" ad and this week Carol is pondering the question, is feminism obsolete?

COSTELLO: It's an interesting question, isn't it?

ROBERTS: It is.

COSTELLO: Yes, it's meant to be provocative because I really want to see how you feel about this. It seems every time the media spotlight shines on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, there is an argument about feminism.

Some conservative women were upset that feminists didn't protest loudly when David Letterman initially refused to apologize for his off-colored joke about Palin's daughter. Maybe it's time we examined why?

Is it because Sarah Palin is not a feminist? Can Sarah Palin be a feminist? Can any conservative woman be feminist? "Just Sayin'" -- what does feminism really mean, anyway?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): It was a tasteless joke about a young girl, one that enraged her mother, Sarah Palin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": During the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Letterman finally said I'm sorry prompting Palin to accept his apology on behalf of young women. End of story, right? Wrong.

While some feminist groups like Now stood behind Palin, other women were less charitable. The Daily Beast's Tina Brown writing, "Someone should pluck the combustible Alaskan away from whatever rancid talk show she's headed for and make her watch what real female power looks like, mainly Hillary Clinton." Really?

Is that the only kind of female power? Naomi Wolf who writes about feminism doesn't think so. In "Harper's Bazaar," she calls Angelina Jolie the embodiment of female power in liberation. And then there's this --

JESSICA VALENTI, FEMINISTING.COM: I think every woman defines feminism in one way or another. I think that women through the work that they do, through their home lives, through their political beliefs, through their social activism are doing feminist work every day and embodies feminism every day.

COSTELLO: But if every woman has her own definition of what feminism is, what's the point in even using the word. "Just Sayin'" -- has the word feminism become obsolete?

MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, the original feminism that I partook of in the late '60s has been perverted.

COSTELLO: Mary Matalin says feminism used to be about the freedom to choose the life you wanted, now it's an exclusive club, closed off to women like Sarah Palin.

MATALIN: No conservative woman would choose to call herself a feminist as it's described by liberals today.

COSTELLO: So if the word is weighed down by such political baggage, why care about being a feminist anymore?

VALENTI: The truth is I think no matter what word we used, if it meant women's rights, it would end up being a bad word. It would end up being disparage. So I think we have to stick with what we've got.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: That's right. You know, some people say feminism has become the "f" word. There's such a negative connotation to it.

One more thing to ponder, though, Jessica, who you just saw, says feminism welcomes all women. And she says and I'm quoting, "I think that a woman who is personally pro-life can be a feminist. I think of a woman as actively fighting against legislation that allows for abortion and allows for access to birth control, then, no, I don't think she can be a feminist."

I want to know what you think. Is feminism obsolete? Write to me on our blog, CNN.com/amFIX. That's CNN.com/amFIX and we'll read some of your comments later on in the show.

ROBERTS: Well, there's new concerns out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Navy is tracking a North Korean ship suspected of carrying weapons, perhaps even nuclear material. At the same time, is North Korea getting ready for a big show of its own on the fourth of July. Our Barbara Starr joins us, coming up next.

It's 23 minutes after the hour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): This may look like a sunken spaceship, but it's an innovative way to farm fish in the deep sea. As tall as a six-story building and anchored to the ocean floor, this so-called aqua pod is one answer to the global seafood crisis. See, fish populations are shrinking as the world's appetite for seafood grows.

BRIAN O'HANLON, OPEN BLUE SEA FARMS: To produce enough fish for the world, we need to build pretty large farms. They're moving offshore into very deep water where fish can naturally thrive in large populations without having a direct impact on the environment.

WOLF: Most fish farms are in shallow water close to shore, but pollutants can build up in the fish.

O'HANLON: Or in very deep water with strong currents, we never see the same water twice. And we get away from those sensitive ecosystems. We're feeding the fish with the best ingredients that we can find and growing them in the cleanest water we can find.

WOLF: These white fish, procobia (ph), began their life in a hatchery on shore then they're transported and raised off the coast of Panama and Puerto Rico. The adult fish are then sold in the U.S.

Congress has proposed expanding deep-sea fish farming by 2025. But environmental groups say regulations are needed to prevent damage from over industrialization.

O'HANLON: There's a lot of opportunity out there for us to responsibly develop the high seas.

WOLF: Reynolds Wolf, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Twenty-seven and a half minutes now after the hour. The U.S. military is keeping a close eye on North Korea today. The Pentagon is tracking a ship from the rogue nation that may be carrying weapons. And Defense Secretary Robert Gates responding to a report that Pyongyang is planning to launch a long-range missile toward Hawaii.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We do have some concerns if they were to launch a missile to the west in the direction of Hawaii. I've directed the deployment again of THAAD missiles to Hawaii and the SBX radar has deployed away from Hawaii to provide support. Based on my visit to Fort Greeley, the ground-based interceptors are clearly in a position to take action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr join us live with more on this morning's developments.

Barbara, first of all, let's talk about the ship. How much of a concern is this ship? Is it just potentially carrying weapons or might it also be carrying nuclear material?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the problem is the U.S. really doesn't know. This ship is called the Kang Nam (ph). It's a North Korean ship that left a port there on Wednesday and is being tracked as it moves along China in a southerly direction off the coast of China.

The U.S. Navy is tracking it because they suspect, at least, that it may have illicit weapons onboard, possibly missile nuclear technology. They say they really don't know.

So the key question now is where does this all go from here? Because, of course, the most recent U.N. Security Council resolution allows for the potential boarding of ships from North Korea carrying illicit goods. But here's the rub, of course, it has to be a permissive, a compliant boarding.

What may happen next is that the U.S. Navy will radio the ship and ask for permission to board it. Every expectation is the North Koreans will say absolutely not. Then it will all move into diplomatic channels.

Yesterday, the Pentagon made very clear that there would be no non- permissive, no hostile boarding of any North Korean ships. But certainly, there's no question, this continues to ratchet up the tensions. They are continuing to shadow this ship, and they will most likely try and make an effort to get North Korea's permission to board it -- John.

ROBERTS: And, Barbara, what about this missile launch? And it's suspected that North Korea might actually do it on the fourth of July?

STARRR: Yes, I got to tell you, there's a lot of gallows humor around the Pentagon these days from people who say they'll be here July 4th weekend, probably working everybody from generals, commanders, on down.

The question is whether the North Koreans are really going to be ready that soon, of course. By all accounts, U.S. intelligence satellites have seen activity on the ground at several North Korean missile sites. What they're looking at is both short, medium, and, indeed, long-range missile launches. They see a lot of activity. They're beginning to see the potential for missile parts appearing. It may take some days for the North Koreans to assemble it all. The only question on the table now is when will the North Koreans be ready to go?

John?

ROBERTS: Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon this morning. Barbara, thanks so much for that.

It's about 31 minutes after the hour now. And checking our top stories. Iran's supreme leader defending the results of last week's disputed election, saying there was, quote, "definitive victory." And he blames Iran's enemies for claiming that the presidential election was rigged. He said the massive protests in Iran against the election outcome have to stop.

COSTELLO: A bill on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is now on its way to the president. Congress passed the $106 billion-measure overwhelmingly Thursday. The bill also includes $1 billion in startup money for the so-called cash for clunkers car program.

ROBERTS: And a deadly car bombing in Spain. Authorities say the explosion in the northern Basque region killed a police officer who was sitting in the vehicle. The Basque separatist group, ETA, is believed to be responsible for that.

Carol?

COSTELLO: Well, John, you know, every Friday at this time, we tend to go a little nuts. Not exactly out of control because we're CNN after all. We just go wingnuts. That was so bad, wasn't it?

Actually, it's a title our next guest gives each week to someone on the left and the right who he says is out to divide us rather than to unite us.

John Avlon is a columnist for TheDailyBeast.com and the author of "Independent Nation." He joins us with the new additions to the "ring of dishonor," shall we say?

JOHN AVLON, COLUMNIST, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: That's the newest editions to the "ring of dishonor." Exactly.

COSTELLO: I like it. I do. OK. Shall we start on the right?

AVLON: We shall start on the right this week. We selected GOP activist and former South Carolina election director Rusty Depass, who, when a local gorilla went missing from the local zoo, thought it might be a good idea to post on his Facebook page the following comment -- "I'm sure it's just one of Michelle's ancestors -- probably harmless," referring to there to First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama.

Needless to say in this age of Internet transparency, that racist joke didn't go over so well. And he took a lot of heat around the country, initially saying that it was a -- it was all misunderstanding, it's was actually an evolution joke. COSTELLO: Really?

AVLON: Yes. They just a little bit inherit the wind there -- our humor there. And when that felt flat, he issued an apology to the NAACP and Michelle Obama.

COSTELLO: You know, I cannot believe in this day and age that someone would actually write something like that and then say, oops, it's such a joke. I mean, wouldn't he understand the sensitivity surrounding this, you know, in 2009?

AVLON: Speaking of evolution, you'd think there should be a little bit of evolution on that front as well. But apparently still more to do. And he was not the only one on the right who made that mistake this week.

ROBERTS: Yes, and you notice -- I may be wrong, but I don't think that gorillas are part of our lineage.

AVLON: That's just getting real academic from Mr. Depass.

ROBERTS: I mean, there's common ancestors among primates apparently, but I don't think gorillas are our ancient ancestors.

AVLON: I think you're pitching at a whole different level there.

COSTELLO: Exactly. OK. So let's go left.

AVLON: OK. So on the left, we have "Playboy," not known for being politically correct, never, but they went over their line even for them with a June feature on their Web site called "So Right It's Wrong: Top Ten Conservative Women We Hate to Love."

Now this list, which included people such as former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and Peggy Noonan, the author and former Reagan speech writer, also compared women unfavorably to Eva Braun and other types. It was way over the line so much so that "Playboy" took it off their Web site and issued an apology, but not before, I think, the damage was done.

COSTELLO: No. It was incredibly sexist. I mean, not that "Playboy" isn't sexist, but a lot of conservative women and actually many liberal women too said "Playboy" crossed the line with that one, because it also sort of said it was OK to -- they didn't use the word love, really.

AVLON: No, the word love was never used.

COSTELLO: No.

AVLON: Yes. This was -- this was not a good-natured appreciation.

(CROSSTALK)

COSTELLO: It wasn't feminism either.

AVLON: No.

ROBERTS: So, some of us who are on the news, John, have been wondering if maybe there should have been an honorable wingnut or at least honor of a mention in the wingnut of the week going to PETA for coming out against the president's swatting that fly.

AVLON: Yes. That was a late-breaking development yesterday and perhaps inevitable in the Wingnut Hall of Fame that, you know, when the president is criticized for killing a fly, well, a little bit more focused there folks. I think you got your eye off the ball and on the fly.

ROBERTS: You got to wonder. Was there anybody on the PETA office who said, hey, listen, we're really doing a good job on this fur front and the animal rights thing and the dog thing is really going well, so you might want to just leave the fly issue alone.

AVLON: Yes. You'd hope, but in a place where everybody thinks alike, nobody thinks very much. That's the oldest story of the wingnuts. And I think we got evidence of that at PETA this week.

ROBERTS: John, thanks so much for that.

COSTELLO: At least they're consistent, right?

It's 35 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: If you still need to buy a Father's Day gift, it's 6:46 Eastern, we'll have more on the brand new iPhone going on sale today.

At 6:50 Eastern, more wreckage found of that downed Air France plane, the Air France Flight 447. What does it mean for the investigation?

And at 7:02 Eastern, Iran's president fires back about comments he made about protesters being sore losers.

ROBERTS: Well, it's hard to imagine the pain of a parent who loses a child to war. It happened to Carlos Arredondo. The former dad got the tragic news five years ago and has been some kind of journey since then.

Our Jason Carroll now the story of pain and perseverance.

Jason, Carlos couldn't handle it when he learned his son was killed in Iraq.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He really couldn't. He described the pain as something that literally he had no idea it was something that someone could feel this strongly. You know, this man is really incredible. This is really a story about a father who saw no hope and didn't want to live. Well, he found a way to make life better for himself and others like him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CARROLL (voice over): August 25th, 2004, a day Carlos Arredondo says he'll never forget. It was his birthday. But instead of celebrating, it became a day of mourning.

CARLOS ARREDONDO, LOST SON IN IRAQ: The last thing on my mind is my son died. That's, in fact, the last thing for any family.

CARROLL: The three Marines tasked with delivering the tragic news told Arredondo his 20-year-old son Alexander was killed in Najaf, Iraq, hit by a sniper's bullet.

C. ARREDONDO: It was about me losing my first born. Nothing else matter. My life just fell right there.

CARROLL: Arredondo was inconsolable and says that helps explain what he did next. He set fire to the Marines' van. They were not hurt, but he was badly burned.

C. ARREDONDO: I thank God, you know, that I survived that.

CARROLL: He still bears scars from that day. Physically, he's healed well. Emotionally, he and his wife Melida are recovering, too; thanks in part to what he'd done to his truck -- turning it into a moving memorial for his son.

C. ARREDONDO: This picture was taken perhaps two days before he lost his life.

CARROLL: Arredondo has been driving it since 2005, logging more than 100,000 miles. Word spread within the military community, he's visited other grieving families sharing his pain with theirs.

C. ARREDONDO: The guilt as a father known to anyone to avoid this is very, very heavy.

CARROLL: The Arredondos say they get mostly positive responses but not always. Sometimes he shows this picture of his son's flag-draped coffin. Some have attacked him, even vandalizing his son's grave. But that won't stop Carlos or his wife.

MELIDA ARREDONDO: If we were not be doing something and we know that a neighbor was going through this, we would feel remiss.

CARROLL: This week, at a Massachusetts Department of Veterans Affairs event --

C. ARREDONDO: Thank you for being here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you're very welcome. You're very welcome.

CARROLL: The state's lieutenant governor was pleased to have the Arredondos lend their support.

LT. GOV. TIM MURRAY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: What the Arredondos have done is making sure that we are cognizant of the challenges that face Gold Star families. CARROLL: Arredondo points out, on his first letter home, his son Alexander wrote - "I'm not afraid of dying, I am more afraid of what will happen to all the ones that I love."

His father says, wherever his son may be, he need not worry.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: Well, the Arredondos say they want to fight for veterans' rights and bring attention to better ways of informing of families of fallen soldiers like providing bilingual soldiers and chaplains in the notification process. In addition to that also, you know, in some ways, they've become anti-war activists. They want to see both of these wars end as soon as possible.

ROBERTS: Yes. I mean, there's no pain like the pain of losing a child. And, you know, to be -- note here -- just to have somebody come up and knock on the door -- it's the knock that you always, you know, fear. And it's been repeated so many times, thousands of times in this country in the last few years.

CARROLL: Yes. And I know Carol you were bringing up, you know, about how dangerous, you know, this situation could have been.

COSTELLO: Well, he set the van on fire. That did shock me. And, you know, I understand his pain but somebody really could have been hurt. So was there any repercussion, you know, for him setting this van on fire?

CARROLL: You know, they gave him a pass. They realized he was so overcome by grief. No one was hurt. He did apologized. They accepted the apology. And he just wanted to find a better way to turn that anger, that pain into something positive.

ROBERTS: Well, let's hope he's doing that. Jason, thanks so much for sharing that with us this morning.

Eighteen minutes now to the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: That's pretty. It's clear at 76 degrees at Nashville, Tennessee. Good morning to you.

ROBERTS: Nothing like "Dolly" at 6:45.

COSTELLO: I love that. Let's talk about something stinky, though, not Dolly. Something that's seven feet tall. It has a funny name and it stinks. So, you ask, what is it?

ROBERTS: There's so many places you could go with that.

COSTELLO: I know. So I should just go on, huh?

It's the rare corpse flower and it's very popular. In fact, thousands of visitors flock to the Huntington Botanical Gardens in California just to get a glimpse of this corpse flower. The flower's official name, in case you're wondering, it's Amorphophallus titanium. Say that twice or three times this morning.

It's also "Son of Stinky" because it gives off a powerful decomposing animal scent. The bloom only lasts a couple of days, so visitors, you know, had to really hurry to get a glimpse of this flower and of course some people wanted to sniff it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: You ever had rotten meat -- like you -- if you cooked it but it's overcooked or old.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: The smell is really disgusting and I really want to leave right now because I hate it.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: It's pretty but the smell -- no, don't like it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: I really want to leave right now because it's so -- such a bad smell. Corpse flower blooms are rare with only about 50 documented blooms ever taking place in the United States. So that's why people were so -- well, kids -- were so eager to smell it. The adults weren't as eager.

ROBERTS: It's always news when the Amorphophallus blooms.

COSTELLO: It sounds so pornographic.

ROBERTS: Aptly named plant, I would think.

COSTELLO: Hi, Rob Marciano. How are you?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, I tell you, I was nervous. When you said seven feet tall, stinks, some think -- you know, I'm not seven feet tall, you know, 6'2" maybe.

COSTELLO: You don't' smell like a decaying body.

MARCIANO: Not usually, but today's an exception, it's Friday.

Good morning, everybody.

Hi, Carol.

Hi, John.

(WEATHER REPORT)

ROBERTS: All right. Robby, thanks so much. Thanks for the dry day today at the very least.

So, Father's Day is coming up on Sunday, and you still can't find the right gift for Dad? Well, maybe he would like a new iPhone.

COSTELLO: Yes.

ROBERTS: The iPhone 3-G goes on sale this morning at 7:00 a.m. Eastern. These people already chomping at the bit to get their hands on one. It's a live picture from outside the Apple store in New York City. That's the one on Fifth Avenue, isn't it, in the Glass Cube there?

COSTELLO: Yes.

ROBERTS: Apple billing this is the fastest, most powerful iPhone yet.

COSTELLO: I can't imagine standing in the line that long just to get a new iPhone. Why can't people just wait and get it online?

ROBERTS: I'm not trying to get rid of my phone, not get a new one.

COSTELLO: You have an iPhone you want to get rid of?

ROBERTS: No, no, no. I got my BlackBerry.

COSTELLO: I was going to say, I'll take that.

ROBERTS: Yes. Well, here's a little bit more about the iPhone in an "AM Extra." The 3G's are going to be the third version of the phone to be released since they were introduced back in 2007. Since then, Apple has sold over 30 million iPhones and iPod Touch products. Some of the bigger, better, faster features on this phone -- more memory, video recording, even a compass.

COSTELLO: Oh, well, that's why people are waiting in line. It has a compass.

ROBERTS: Exactly. You know, you can never get lost when you got one of those.

Forty-nine minutes now after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. More wreckage recovered from Air France Flight 447. And it was extraordinarily intact despite being part of a plane that investigators believed broke apart in midair.

Our international security correspondent Paula Newton is tracking the story for us from London this morning.

Good morning, Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And good morning, John.

Yes, 400 pieces now taken from the depths of the Atlantic. And as you said, those pieces, the condition that they're in are really offering some of the only clues as to what happened during this crash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON (voice-over): As Atlantic currents give up more and more pieces of Air France Flight 447, the voice and data recorders are still submerged and undetected.

More than 400 pieces of wreckage have been collected, all crucial to the investigation. But it's still the data recorders that matter most. The company that made them says it's confident they will be found.

PAOLO CARMASSI, HONEYWELL AEROSPACE: We have 100 percent recovery rate of all of the black boxes that we have installed that unfortunately may have been involved in accidents. So we hope that we will be able to maintain our records and being able to shed some light on what happened.

NEWTON: As search teams continue to sift through clues, Brazilian medical examiners have told French investigators the autopsies performed on some of the 50 bodies recovered so far show signs of fractures to arms, legs, and hips, and few had any clothing.

All of this, aviation experts say, points to a midair rupture at about 35,000 feet. Still, no explanation as to why.

YANN COCHENNEC, AVIATION ANALYST: I think they will be able to collect more debris, more parts of the aircraft. And maybe from that -- from the analysis of those debris or parts of the aircraft, they may be able to draw a scenario, a potential scenario or possible scenarios.

NEWTON: French investigators have pleaded for people to stop speculating. But with fear building among passengers around the world and the Brazilian government releasing more and more information, all eyes are now on the French agency leading the investigation. The Brazilian military will continue to look for debris and bodies, and the search for the voice and data recorders will go on for at least another two weeks.

But as time passes, the pressure increases on French investigators to come up with some answers as to what brought down flight 447.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: You know, we do expect some preliminary answers by the end of the week, with or without those black boxes. The French investigators say they will have something to add to their report by the end of June.

John?

ROBERTS: And as we know, time running out to find those black boxes, too. A life span of about 30 days for those batteries.

Paula Newton for us this morning.

Paula, thanks so much for that. COSTELLO: Well, Iran's supreme leader speaking out this morning. And everybody was wondering what he was going to say. Well, he says, Iran's elections were not rigged. He also said America is partially to blame for the continuing protest. We heard chants of "Death to America" from the crowd.

What does all of this mean for those protestors out on the streets of Iran?

Christiane Amanpour will join us live to tell us after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: President Obama has a Father's Day message to dads across America -- step up. The president whose own father abandoned his family when he was a toddler writes in an essay on this weekend's edition of "Parade" magazine that he learned about the importance of fatherhood through its absence.

Suzanne Malveaux has more on this from the White House.

Good morning, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Carol.

Well, it's really extraordinary. The whole afternoon the president is dedicating to fatherhood the idea of responsibility and mentorship. He's going to be going to a whole bunch of activities throughout the city. He's going to be visiting with various groups. And then he's going to hold a townhall meeting here at the White House.

Five successful fathers, he's going to sit down, he's going to talk with them. They're going to take questions from the audience. He's also invited, as well. A group of young men from the city, mentors as well as various figures to hang out in the south lawn in the White House late in the afternoon. It's really seen as a social, a time to open up the conversation, if you will. To talk about responsibility.

There are some notables, some celebrities that are going to be coming. Some athletes. Dwayne Wade, Chef Bobby Flay. Also, Reverend Run of Run DMC. All those guys is going to be here with the president, trying to emphasize that very important message.

And Carol, as you have mentioned, this is personally important to this president. He was abandoned by his own father when he was just 2 years old. And his father visited him when he was about 10 or so. And I had a chance to do a documentary about Obama to ask him about that. How it personally impacted him, and what his father meant to him.

I want you to take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, when I think about his impact on me, I mean, there's some superficial things. He went to take me when I was 10 years old to see a jazz concert. I became a real jazz buff after that. Or he gave me my first basketball. And it was only later that I realized that that had been the case, might have been part of the reason I became so obsessed with playing basketball.

But, for the most part, what I understood from him was an absence. And I vowed that when I became a father, one of the most important things I could do is be a presence to my children's lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So, Carol, that's really the bottom line. I mean, that is the message that he is telling fathers around the country, really, to step up if you will.

There's an article, an open letter in "Parade" magazine this Sunday for Father's Day to his daughters, Sasha and Malia, as well as other children around the country. And here's what he said, Carol.

He said, "We need fathers to step up to realize that their jobs does not end at conception. That what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one."

And that is what the president is going to take this afternoon to tell the country.

Carol?

COSTELLO: And a nonpartisan message to boot. I don't think anyone could disagree with that.

Suzanne Malveaux, thanks.

MALVEAUX: Sure.

COSTELLO: Hello, everyone. I'm Carol Costello in for Kiran Chetry this morning.

We hit -- just about to hit the top of the hour.

ROBERTS: Yes. And it's Friday, too. It's the 18th of June, or is it the 19th? The 19th of June.

COSTELLO: Whatever. It's Friday. That's all that matters.

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