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AMERICAN MORNING

A Look at Bin Laden's Diary; Bin Laden Family Condemns Killing; Airline Passenger Claims Overreaction to Arrest; Syrians Fleeing Ruthless Crackdown; Nazi Guard Sentenced to Five Years in Jail; Flood Disaster Rolls South; Rajaratnam Guilty Verdict

Aired May 12, 2011 - 06:00   ET

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


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING, bin Laden's personal journal, now an open book. Navy SEALs seized it in the raid on his Pakistani compound. We'll go inside the mind of a mass murderer in a moment.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Incredible video of a disaster unfolding. Thousands of people in Spain forced to sleep in the streets after a powerful earthquake rocks the Mediterranean coast.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And she said yes but now his school is saying no. One high school senior from Connecticut now banned from prom after securing his dream date by putting up that poster. Now he's getting thousands rallying to help him on Facebook.

VELSHI: Plus, the cost of your family's health insurance is spiraling out of control. We'll have that next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: A lot happening overnight. Let's get you caught up.

Bin Laden in his own words. Information uncovered from the Al Qaeda leader's private journal reveals that while in hiding, he continued to plot terror attacks against the United States.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. He hasn't been seen in weeks. Now Moammar Gadhafi is turning up on Libyan TV meeting with tribal leaders just hours before four NATO missiles badly damage his compound in Tripoli.

CHETRY: I'm Kiran Chetry. Devastation in Spain. Eight people killed after a powerful earthquake. A lot of buildings collapsed and thousands of people are now sleeping in the streets. We'll bring you the latest on that natural disaster happening in Spain on this AMERICAN MORNING.

VELSHI: Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING. It is Thursday, May 12th. Good morning to both of you.

ROMANS: Good morning.

CHETRY: Nice to see you.

We're talking about bin Laden.

VELSHI: Yes.

CHETRY: New information out because of his own writings. And this is really fascinating. Bin Laden's blueprint for terror you could call it. A handwritten journal discovered inside of the bin Laden compound containing notes, suggesting future attacks on the U.S.

ROMANS: It's fascinating stuff. Turns out his compound has much more -- was much more than a hiding place. Bin Laden was communicating back and forth with Al Qaeda operatives.

CNN's Barbara Starr has been working her sources. She's live at the Pentagon. A clearer picture of just how much control he had over the organization, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, indeed. U.S. officials who are familiar with the material that the SEALs grabbed on their way out of that compound tell us this diary, journal, last week they called it the Al Qaeda playbook. But now we're talking about it is a journal, a journal of his writings, what he wanted to have happen. They are telling us that they do see evidence that bin Laden was communicating with his Al Qaeda affiliates, his operatives on the outside. They were getting those communications, communicating back to him.

So far, no evidence of a specific plot. You know, time, date, place. Nothing that they can really put their finger on that they could go and disrupt at this point, but the journal talks about some things that are very unsettling. We are told in it basically bin Laden writes about the importance of attacking the United States. It's very clear 10 years later this is still his major goal.

He offers guidance on how to attack the United States. And what he talks about, apparently, is, you know, specific dates. July 4th, Christmas, the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. He's urging his followers to attack the United States again. U.S. officials say they really are still just scratching the surface of this entire pile of intelligence that they've grabbed. This is their read of it. Right now, not a specific plot but some very unsettling writings by the Al Qaeda leader.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Barbara.

It's fascinating to see this stuff that's coming through there.

VELSHI: Yes.

ROMANS: And what they're going to be able to piece together and what it's telling us more about him that maybe intelligence was wrong over the past few years, you know. So fascinating.

CHETRY: In his own words, right?

VELSHI: Well, select members of Congress are getting a look at those bin Laden death photos. Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe telling CNN some of the images are pretty gruesome but there is no doubt that they were bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: There are 15 pictures. The first 12 were taken in the compound right -- it's obvious it was right after the incident took place. So they're pretty grueling. The other three were taken on the ship, and they included the burial at sea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Inhofe believes that at least some of those photos should be made public, thereby opening up that discussion again.

CHETRY: And a Freedom of Information Act request has been filed to release them.

VELSHI: Right.

CHETRY: So it still remains to be seen whether that would be granted. If so, there is a possibility maybe people will see these pictures.

VELSHI: Yes.

ROMANS: All right. One of bin Laden's sons was denouncing his father's terrorist activities. Now, Omar bin Laden is lashing out at President Obama and the U.S. The son is condemning the killing and suggesting it may have violated international law. CNN's Deb Feyerick following that part of the story for us.

Hi, Deb.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there. Well, and it is really a pretty interesting letter where he just comes and condemns the United States and President Obama basically saying violence is not the way to go. But the sons are characterizing their father's death in their words as the assassination of an unarmed man. They want an inquiry into why their father was, quote, "not arrested and tried but summarily executed without a court of law," unquote. They're also calling the death a violation of international law which drew an angry, if not incredulous response from U.S. officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I've addressed the legal foundation for the actions the president ordered. We feel very strongly that the successful mission against a mass murderer of Americans and people around the world was entirely justified.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Now, the sons, specifically the fourth son, Omar bin Laden, as you mentioned, they want proof that the man killed 10 days ago is in fact bin Laden. They're asking to see conclusive evidence, for example, the photos, DNA or any video that may have been taken inside that compound during this operation. Again, they simply are not sure that that man was their father, and the fact that he was buried at sea says that that deprived them of the right to bury the body. We spoke to one man who lost his wife in the 9/11 tragedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES G. WOLF, LOST WIFE ON 9/11: The man needs to get a dose of reality. His father was the most heinous man to come around since Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. OK? His father was pure evil. If he cannot comprehend that, then he needs to -- he needs to work on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: What's so interesting about that reaction is that in fact, the son, Omar bin Laden, said that his father really should have been entitled to a trial like Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Both of them, of course, tried for crimes against humanity.

So there's a little bit of a disconnect between what the son is saying and what he seems to have known about his father and why he feels his father should have been given any sort of rights or courtesy when in fact he was the most wanted man in America. It's a little bit -- it is a strange letter. And I keep reading it trying to understand what is the meaning here? What is it -- am I missing something or is this guy missing something? Is the family missing something? That's what's so crazy about it.

ROMANS: How well can these sons actually know their father? That's a question I have.

CHETRY: I know.

ROMANS: He's been on the on for 10 years. He was living in Afghanistan for years before that. He's got many, many sons.

FEYERICK: Right.

ROMANS: How close could he have been to any of them? That's just a question.

FEYERICK: And that's -- the 10 sons that we know about, half of them renounced him. One was in the compound and was killed along with him. So it's really what kind of a relation. So I think it's just as normal mourning of the loss of a parent even if you're estranged from that parent --

VELSHI: Right.

FEYERICK: -- which it seems that many of them were.

CHETRY: Right.

FEYERICK: But it is. It's just -- it's just an odd letter, I have to tell you.

VELSHI: Yes.

FEYERICK: You know, I slept on it last night and I just thought what, what, what, what?

VELSHI: Yes.

FEYERICK: He's going to sue the United States? I still don't get it.

VELSHI: Yes.

CHETRY: Yes.

VELSHI: Lots of stuff coming out of here that is, as Christine said, contrary to what we assumed both about bin Laden and his relations with his family and his kids.

ROMANS: Right. I mean, they've been widely reported that his family had renounced him. You know?

FEYERICK: Exactly.

CHETRY: And many members have. So very interesting stuff. Thanks so much, Deb.

ROMANS: Thanks, Deb.

CHETRY: In Libya now. NATO forces are launching another series of missile attacks on the capital city of Tripoli. Four rockets hit Moammar Gadhafi's compound. Libyan government officials say that two people were killed and 27 others taken to hospitals.

Now, Libyan state television also running this video of Moammar Gadhafi claiming it is from a meeting earlier in the day between the dictator and tribal elders. It is the first time in two weeks that we've seen Gadhafi in public.

VELSHI: A devastating earthquake rocking the southeastern coast of Spain.

That's video of a church belfry crumbling to the ground narrowly missing that TV reporter in the historic town of Lorca. It was taken moments after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit Spain's Mediterranean coast last night. There's widespread damage. At least eight people are dead. Thousands more are sleeping in the streets. Many residents say they've been ordered to stay away from their homes out of fear that they will collapse.

ROMANS: An 88-year-old Nazi war crimes suspect will not be extradited to the Netherlands and can live the rest of his life in freedom in Germany.

Klaas Faber (ph) was convicted in 1947 for his role in 22 murders and for aiding Nazi occupiers in the Netherlands during World War II. But he escaped to Germany in 1952. The Dutch have tried several times to extradite him. And yesterday, a Munich court shot down their latest attempt. German prosecutors conceding this effectively brings an end to this Nazi case.

And we're also waiting for the verdict in the trial of a man accused of gassing nearly 30,000 Jews at a Nazi concentration camp. 91-year- old John Demjanjuk was a member of the Soviet Red Army during World War II. He allegedly signed up to work at a death camp in occupied Poland after he was captured by the Germans. The Ukrainian emigrated to the U.S. after the war. He's the first foreigner to be tried in Germany for Nazi war crimes.

CHETRY: An airline passenger accused of trying to open an emergency door in mid-flight says his arrest is an overreaction.

VELSHI: Really?

CHETRY: We first brought you this story yesterday. Yes. 43-year-old Robert Hersey pleaded not guilty to charges of interfering with the crew on the Delta flight from Orlando to Boston. Now he admits he did touch the exit door panel but he says it was a mistake and that he was never a threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT HERSEY, ARRESTED FOR FLIGHT DISTURBANCE: It was a plastic cover. You know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you surprised by the -- when you got to Logan?

HERSEY: Well, when a sucker landed on my lap, there was nobody more surprised than I was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You weren't making some lunge for the door.

HERSEY: Not at all. Sitting in my seat, you know, just fattening (ph) around, flipping the tray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aboard on a plane.

HERSEY: Exactly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: OK. Well, some witnesses said that they thought he was intoxicated on the flight. He claims he only had a few beers before getting on board.

VELSHI: OK. Don't touch the door. Just don't touch the door.

CHETRY: Oh, you know, you're bored on a plane.

VELSHI: Sit down. Touch your tray.

ROMANS: He said it fell in his lap. The door fell in his lap.

VELSHI: Touch the person next to you. Don't touch the door.

CHETRY: Oh, yes, touch the person next to you. That's a great idea.

VELSHI: This is not a safety concern for the plane. CHETRY: It could turn into one really quickly, though.

VELSHI: That's true.

ROMANS: Messing around with the tray table and stuff, that's my 2- year-old.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly.

VELSHI: Yes.

ROMANS: All right. Anyway, all that talk about the big three being a bust now into history. The Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics last night, 97-87 in game five cruising to the Eastern Conference Finals. They'll play either Chicago or Atlanta. Dwyane Wade had 34 points. LeBron James had 33.

And check out this ridiculous, ridiculous circus shot by Dwyane Wade off of a miss. He was shoved, back to the basket.

VELSHI: Oh.

ROMANS: And that's why --

CHETRY: He meant ---

VELSHI: That's what he gets paid for.

ROMANS: Yes. Skill and luck.

VELSHI: All right. Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, we're going to talk about what we were just talking about with Deborah, the Osama bin Laden family tree.

ROMANS: Yes.

VELSHI: Who are all these people? What's their connection to him? How many kids does he have? How many wives does he have? We're digging up some information.

ROMANS: More than you and I combined.

VELSHI: That's right. And we're going to show you some of the pictures and give you some sense of who his family is.

CHETRY: Also, the Mississippi flooding disaster. Hundreds of homes still under water. A disaster area declared in Mississippi. And now Louisiana has a tough decision to make. Do they open more of these floodgates and unleash a wall of water? We're covering the very latest on that, coming up.

It's 12 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: We're learning more about Osama bin Laden's family. The information we have is based off a book by CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen and subsequent reporting, of course. What we know is bin Laden was married at least five times and he had more than 20 children over the years. His first marriage was in 1974 at age 17 to a cousin. They had 11 children, but she left him in 2001, just before 9/11.

Marriage number two - Bin Laden's next three marriages all took place during the 1980s. Wife number two was nine years older than he was. She was highly educated, and - believe it or not - several of his wives had very, very good educations. They had three children, but eventually divorced.

In 1985 was marriage number three. His third wife also highly educated, with a doctorate in Islamic Shariah. They had one son. There's a possibility she may have been killed in the bombing of - in Afghanistan in 2001.

His fourth wife - there you go - also has not been heard from since the invasion of Afghanistan. She and Bin Laden had four children.

Now, Bin Laden married his fifth wife in 2000. She was 18 at the time, he was 43. She gave birth to a daughter within a few days of the 9/11 attacks. It's believed this wife and daughter were with him when he was shot and killed.

There are also reports that one of the widows told Pakistani intelligence that a teenaged son was in this compound at the time of the raid, insisting to Pakistani investigators, this wife, that somehow this son escaped, something that other officials doubt simply because of the layout of the facility and the high walls around it - Kiran and Ali.

CHETRY: Good stuff there, Christine. Thanks.

We're talking about the Mississippi right now and the devastating flooding taking place. Hundreds of homes are now completely underwater in Mississippi. It's a disaster they knew was coming but is now here, and the worst may still be ahead.

Fourteen Mississippi counties have now been declared major disaster areas as the swollen river continues to roar south, all the way to the last place that needs more of that high water, New Orleans.

VELSHI: In Louisiana right now, it's not a matter of if there will be a flood, it's a matter of where to put that flood. Officials right now are debating whether to open the floodgates on the Morganza Spillway. It's holding back a 20-foot high wall of water that could wash out three million acres of land.

Rob Marciano, live in the middle of it right now. The town of Tunica, Mississippi, obviously upriver from - from New Orleans. What's it looking like in Tunica?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, this is the hardest hit area as far as the number of people that have been displaced from their homes. The - the Tunica Cutoff, which is just north of where I'm standing here, that area saw the rivers rise, and - and the river rise very quickly, and when it did that, hundreds of people had to evacuate.

There's well over 200 homes that are completely flooded out. About 500 or 600 people are - are out of their homes there, and a lot of them are on the shelter behind me, in a Red Cross shelter where - is where they had a refuge, not just for the past few days but, for many of these folks, for the past couple of weeks.

This has been a long-term event, far - far before we started covering it. And it's going to be a long-term event as we go forward and for a lot of these flood victims, it's hit them very hard.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: It's been difficult emotionally?

DEBRA WHITE, TUNICA CUTOFF RESIDENT: Yes. It's been real difficult.

MARCIANO: What's the hardest thing?

WHITE: Missing - just missing everybody, and missing my home because it - it was paid for and everything. I miss it.

MARCIANO: Do you have insurance on it?

WHITE: No. Most people down at the Cutoff didn't have insurance.

MARCIANO: It's too expensive?

WHITE: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: It's just heartbreaking, to hear the stories of the folks who've been affected by this flood. And that community, the Tunica Cutoff, are so tightly knit.

Matter of fact, in - in this facility, in this Red Cross shelter, a very unusual situation. Most shelters that we go to, in a dormitory where everybody sleeps, and usually it's a gymnasium of sorts and they have cots that are set up, there's usually partitions - male, families. But in this one, there's not. I mean, everybody knows each other. Everybody is going through this together, and it's just one big dormitory, men, women, children all sleeping in the same area and - and kind of getting through this situation together.

And they - and they know, guys, that it's going to be a long haul. I talked to one guy who's been here for - been here for two weeks. He thinks he'll be probably in here for two weeks, maybe another two months before he can even get back to his home to where the - the waters have receded enough that they - where they can assess the damage. But a lot of these folks are going to move completely out of that area altogether, guys.

VELSHI: All right. Rob, thanks very much for that. We'll check in with you later in the morning as these folks start to get up and - and take stock of what's going on and what they're going to do. Thanks very much. Rob Marciano in Tunica.

CHETRY: All right. Well, evangelist Billy Graham is being treated in the hospital right now for pneumonia. He's listed in a stable condition on a North Carolina hospital. They've been doing tests on his heart. They've come back normal.

A spokesperson for the 92-year-old minister says Graham experienced trouble breathing and developed a fever on Tuesday night and he was admitted because of his age and some other recent health issues.

VELSHI: OK, doctors at a pet clinic in O'Falllon, Missouri say they've never seen a dog quite like Sasha. Check this out.

Look at Sasha. OK, it's hard to sort of get a picture of that, but Sasha is nursing a baby raccoon back to health. That's too cute.

CHETRY: He is so cute.

ROMANS: Kiran just loves those little dog stories.

CHETRY: I do.

VELSHI: Sasha was rescued herself recently, by the way. She was dropped off at the clinic with a large lump in her abdomen. It turned out she was carrying two puppies. One of them died during birth.

The clinic later rescued a baby raccoon, but they couldn't get the little guy to drink out of a bottle, so doctors decided to use Sasha as a surrogate, and it worked. That's going to be a very confused raccoon when it grows up, but - but for now -

CHETRY: It's going to be - it's going to like climb the trees and start barking at other raccoons.

VELSHI: Yes.

CHETRY: Oh, it is cute, though.

VELSHI: People are going to take - adopt that raccoon to keep the other raccoons out.

CHETRY: That's right.

ROMANS: OK. But it is a very adorable video. Yes. I'll give you that.

All right, a big verdict yesterday. The hedge fund billionaire, Raj Rajaratnam, found guilty of insider trading. We'll tell you about -

VELSHI: Oh, this is a big one.

ROMANS: And, you know, it really peels back the curtain out of the rarified world of hedge funds, information trading. He helped people make a lot of money on Wall Street.

CHETRY: But it's also interesting, he's a free man today, technically.

ROMANS: Yes, he is.

CHETRY: He's not in jail. And even though prosecutors said - he could be a flight risk. So we'll have more on that story.

Also, a new way to get hooked. Angry Birds online.

ROMANS: For free?

VELSHI: I love Angry Birds. You don't like Angry Birds, huh?

CHETRY: I'm over it now.

ROMANS: I don't even know what it is.

CHETRY: It's fun for a while. You can't play it forever.

VELSHI: We'll - we'll explain to Christine what Angry Birds is when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Either you've seen this guy and heard about him or you haven't.

Hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam has been found guilty of fraud and conspiracy, found guilty of every charge. That's him.

This is a huge victory for federal prosecutors in one of the largest insider trading cases in decades. Rajaratnam was the head of Galleon Management. It was a big hedge fund. He convicted yesterday on all 14 counts of illegally reaping profits or avoiding losses of about $64 million, facing 20 years in prison.

They used wire taps to get him. That's never been done in an insider trading case. And it was the craziest thing, there'd be calls with people on boards, government officials, where they'd be telling them when a deal was going to happen or that it's not happening and he'd trade on it, like it's - it's the oldest stuff in the book.

CHETRY: That's right. But this -

VELSHI: It wasn't highly sophisticated.

CHETRY: You know, let me ask you a question, because I've always wondered this, as a non-financial person, does this happen way more? Does this happen all the time or are there strict -

VELSHI: I - I think it happens a lot more than - than we think it does.

ROMANS: In - in the hedge fund world, what's so interesting is sometimes people say, look, I just have better sources. I have better information. That's how you make your money. But there's a fine line between information and insider trading. (CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: And this line, it doesn't look like (INAUDIBLE).

VELSHI: He - he was talking to officials. He was talking to people on - on - boards of directors of companies who were leaking him information before the public.

We worked in this business for a long time. There is a very - it's fine, but it is clear. And it's clear that he was over the line.

ROMANS: Yes. It doesn't look like this jury had any trouble.

CHETRY: This is - this is perhaps more blatant.

I also find it interesting that the judge saw - that he - they allowed him to be out on bail until the sentence.

VELSHI: He's a very rich guy, which is why they think he's a flight risk. I don't think he's - he's going to end up leaving. But good to know that they can actually catch the big fish sometimes.

CHETRY: Well, American families continue to pay more for health insurance. A new industry report says that for Americans who are insured through their jobs, the average cost - and many of us know this - for a family of four this year will be $19,393. That's 7.3 percent jump from just last year.

The report indicates that employers are making workers shoulder a bigger share of total health care expenses.

ROMANS: To Syria now, in AMERICAN MORNING, running for their lives and - and turned around. Lebanon sending Syrian refugees home. We have a live report from Beirut. Some desperation to try and (ph) get out of this country.

VELSHI: Twenty-seven minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Crossing the half hour right now, time to get you updated on the top stories.

We start with bin Laden's private journal. Details are coming out now after it was seized during that raid on his Abbottabad, Pakistan compound. It shows the terror mastermind still actively involved in al Qaeda plots and urging operatives to find new targets within the United States.

A convicted Nazi war criminal will not be sent back to the Netherlands to serve jail time and can live the rest of his life in freedom in Germany. We're going to have a little more on that one.

But, meanwhile, the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi appearing yesterday on state-run TV, reportedly meeting with tribal leaders. The video airing just a few hours before a NATO airstrike caused extensive damage to his Tripoli compound.

And a 5.1 magnitude quake hitting the southeast coast of Spain. It happened yesterday in the city of Lorca. Homes, historic churches, public buildings destroyed. And at least eight people were killed. Thousands of others fearful of another quake spent the night sleeping in the streets. Residents were warned not to go home because officials were fearing more homes could collapse.

ROMANS: The ruthless government crackdown in Syria has reportedly killed more than 700 people. New video shows tanks surrounding the streets of one Syrian village and snipers setting up on rooftops.

Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman are saying it's time for President Obama to get tougher on the dictator there in Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If Bashir Assad is successful through the use of blood and steel to repress the legitimate aspirations of his people, that would be a lesson to tyrants throughout the world.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Well, it's asking President Obama to speak out directly and to say that -- as he did in the case of Mubarak in Egypt and Gadhafi in Libya very effectively, that Bashar al-Assad no longer has the legitimacy to govern in Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

VELSHI: Here's the issue: hundreds of people have crossed the Syrian border and fear for their lives.

Rima Maktabi, host of "INSIDE THE MIDDLE EAST" on CNN International is live for us in Beirut right now.

Rima, what is the situation of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon?

RIMA MAKTABI, HOST, INSIDE THE MIDDLE EAST: Ali, we heard horrific and sad stories about the crackdown on people and protesters in Syria. We met some families yesterday. However, most of them were scared to appear in front of the camera. They're not large in numbers, alarming numbers here in Lebanon.

However, the stories we heard were sad. They talked about snipers from rooftops in many cities in Syria. They also talked about tanks and armored vehicles and (AUDIO BREAK) cities. And some of them said that some detainees were tortured, people are killed and shot dead on the streets, just because they were protesting for freedom.

So, many children and women came to Lebanon to stay here for safety, whereas men stayed in Syria and their homes to protect their houses -- Ali.

VELSHI: Rima, what's the conversation in the streets of Lebanon, or if you've heard from Syria about this business of the U.S. not getting as involved as some people there would like them to be? Is there some sense that the U.S. got themselves involved in getting rid of Mubarak in Egypt, had things to say in Bahrain, certainly, is militarily involved in Libya -- but not in Syria?

MAKTABI: Among many people, it's a mood of disappointment. One man told me yesterday, where is the international community? Where are the human rights organizations? And where's the U.S.? Why are the Syrian people killed just because they want freedom? And no one has said anything or done anything towards that.

(AUDIO BREAK) the international community took active steps towards that.

There is a mood of disappointment to some extent. However, it's also known that the U.S. cannot interfere in every single country and, probably, Libya does not set a good example to the rest of the Arab world. And who will rule Syria is a major question that we hear here on a daily basis, whether in Lebanon or in Syria, especially that there's no clear opposition leaders in Syria -- Ali.

VELSHI: Thanks very much. We'll stay up to date on this story with you.

Rima Maktabi in Beirut.

All right. Batman busted. Police in Petoskey, Michigan, say they spotted the caped crusader --

ROMANS: The real Batman? The real Batman?

VELSHI: He looks like the real Batman to me.

Officials say he wasn't bothering anybody. They don't believe he planned on breaking at any buildings. But he was carrying a police baton and pepper spray. He was charged with trespassing and weapons possession. Come on!

CHETRY: He has pit stains on his costume. He has absolutely no bicep, and he has a gut instead of a six pack. I don't think that's the real Batman.

VELSHI: And I think if you're batman, you get to carry a baton, don't you?

(LAUGHTER)

CHETRY: Congratulations. Halloween came a little early in Petoskey.

All right. Thirty-six minutes past the hour right now. Reynolds Wolf in the extreme weather center.

I think you have a better Batman costume than that dude. You certainly have more biceps.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Going from Batman to Wolf-man, that's weird stuff, guys. That's crazy. Crazy. Unreal stuff.

Hey, we got some real flooding we've been talking about over the last couple of days. and unlike a tornado, which can strike quickly, this flood is going to be a really slow mover. This is one point we've been driving home the last couple of days.

And as this water, this wall of water, makes its way down to Mississippi, places like Vicksburg expecting the record flooding going to 14.5. In other places, May 21st, getting Natchez with a record of about 17, 17.5 in Red River Landing, Baton Rouge at 12.5. And then the water is going to begin to fan out as it gets closer to the Gulf of Mexico, expecting moderate flooding near New Orleans with 2.5.

And speaking of rain and speaking of the potential flooding, we may see some flash flooding in parts of the Midwest and Central Plains, even into south Texas, from Des Moines southward to San Antonio. Chance of severe weather expected also for southeastern parts of the Great Lakes, into the Ohio Valley.

And speaking of rough weather, take a look at this video that we have from Minneapolis. From Target Field, let's take it full. Here you go. This is actually around 8:20 local on time on Tuesday night, between the Tigers and Twins, Detroit was up 5-0 at the bottom of the fourth inning, then the hail came down, some of it golf-ball sized. They'd used leaf blowers to remove the hail from the field.

So, again, be prepared for the possibility of rough weather across parts of the Central Plains.

Unreal stuff, guys. Let's send it back to you.

ROMANS: Amazing what you can do with a leaf blower. Hail. Who knew?

WOLF: Yes. You bet, guys.

ROMANS: Thanks.

He's got his date, but now, he can't go. Oh, this kind of pulls the heartstrings of every romantic out there.

VELSHI: Yes, this must be sad.

ROMANS: A high school senior from Connecticut has been banned from going to his prom because of the way he asked his girl. He taped giant cardboard letters to the outside of the school spelling out his proposal. The school suspended him and banned him from the prom as punishment.

Now, there's a "Let James Go to Prom" page on Facebook that has tens of thousands of likes already this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he should go to prom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he should go to prom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not like he's a bad kid. He's a straight-A kid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What he did was really cute. I would love if someone did that for me, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So far, the school has not caved on this. The superintendent had no comment, but maybe they could come up with another way, like make him work all summer cleaning up the grounds.

VELSHI: I'm not understanding what the problem is. He taped cardboard letters.

CHETRY: Yes, right. I guess they're saying graffiti.

(CROSSTALK)

CHETRY: Zero tolerance policy defacing the school, blah, blah, blah.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Oh, it's not his school -- was it his school? Or was he trespassing because he wasn't supposed to be where he was taping?

ROMANS: I don't know, Ali. I don't know.

VELSHI: It's a very unromantic school.

CHETRY: Yes. Times have changed from our senior pranks. We were bad. We turned the entire student parking lot into a beach by bringing in tons of sand.

VELSHI: Without permission?

CHETRY: No, we had no permission to do that. No permission at all. It's a senior prank.

VELSHI: Somebody had to remove that.

All right. Coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING: Mitt Romney's greatest obstacle to the White House might be Romneycare. Jim Acosta has got the details to that when we come back.

It's 39 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHETRY: All right. We have some breaking news this morning -- at 42 minutes past the hour -- in the trial of a man accused of gassing nearly 30,000 Jews at Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

A German court finds John Demjanjuk guilty of helping kill Jews in Nazi death camps. He's now been sentenced to five years in jail. He's 91 years old. Demjanjuk was a member of the Soviet Red Army during World War II, and he allegedly signed up to work in a death camp in occupied Poland after he was captured by the Germans.

The Ukrainian emigrated to the U.S. after the war. He was then deported to Israel and sentenced to death there in the '80s for war crimes. Known by witnesses who survived as Ivan the Terrible, he's the first foreigner to be tried in Germany for Nazi war crimes.

ROMANS: This has been a 30-year legal battle to bring this man to justice that has seen several countries and him fighting all along the way, saying it was a case of mistaken identity. But it all started in Cleveland -- when in Cleveland, it was the FBI that actually caught him in the very beginning.

VELSHI: Yes. He came to the United States in 1952. And after he's -- you know, after everything had happened in a couple of his trials in 2008, no one would take him.

CHETRY: Right.

VELSHI: So, he remained in the United States and then deported to Germany. And, finally, this trial has convicted him. This all circled around the idea that there were people who were at those camps who identified him as Ivan the Terrible. And he has maintained that they got the wrong guy.

CHETRY: It's interesting, though -- I mean, after -- as we said -- this decades-long quest to bring this man to justice that people claim he did it, he got five years, after all is said and done.

ROMANS: Yes. It will l be interesting to see what the German court's thinking was behind that. He's 91 years old.

VELSHI: Right. And he's confined to a wheelchair and he's not in good health either.

John Demjanjuk is convicted. We'll get you more on that when we have it.

ROMANS: All right. Back to this country, where Newt Gingrich is officially in, and now, Mitt Romney, one of the projected GOP front- runners, seems to be gearing up for the long and grueling campaign ahead.

CHETRY: That's right. Big obstacle for Romney could be what he did as governor of Massachusetts.

VELSHI: Can he overcome Romneycare?

Jim Acosta following that. He's live in Washington.

Jim, what do you got?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. Later today, Mitt Romney is giving what may be a defining speech for a campaign that hasn't officially launched. When he was governor, health care reform was widely considered one of his biggest achievements. Now, it's perhaps his biggest liability.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: I was hoping I'd get that question. Good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And give us your reasoning with it if you would.

ROMNEY: Yes, good. Thank you. Thank you. It's about time.

ACOSTA (voice-over): For Mitt Romney, it's not just a question, more like a campaign illness he'd like to cure once and more all. Does he regret the health care plan he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts? The same law many Republicans see as a prototype for what they call Obamacare.

ROMNEY: Ours is an experiment. Some parts didn't work.

ACOSTA: What many Tea Party conservatives don't like about Romneycare is the plan's individual mandate that requires people in Massachusetts to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. A similar mandate in the president's law is being challenged in the courts.

Is Romney care a deal breaker for a lot of tea party folks or your organization?

TIM PHILLIPS, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: I think the individual mandate is a deal breaker. People do not want to see government dictating that they purchase what is a private product, and we think that's a disaster.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: I think there are a number of features in the Massachusetts plan that could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans.

ACOSTA: But back in 2009 when we asked the former governor about that mandate, he defended it.

But it is a mandate?

ROMNEY: It's a kind of mandate. It's a requirement. In order to get a tax exemption that you'd normally get, you got to have health insurance because we want everybody in the system, no more free- riders.

ACOSTA: Democrats already have clips like that cued up for 2012.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I agree with Mitt Romney who recently said he's proud of what he accomplished on health care in Massachusetts.

ACOSTA: Romney's response? ROMNEY: Mr. President, why didn't you call me and ask how it worked?

ACOSTA: Back in 2009, Romney acknowledged the plan had problems saying it delivered near universal coverage but failed to control costs.

ROMNEY: We should learn from what's working and not working in Massachusetts.

ACOSTA: But those who'd like to see an apology don't bet on it. From a man whose book is called "No Apology."

LARRY SABATO, UVA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Somehow, he's got to convince the tea party people that he's learned from his mistake without admitting he made a mistake. Good luck.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (on-camera): Now, in his speech, Romney's staff says there will be no apology. His new health care plan would repeal and replace the president's health care law and let states come up with their own solution. Something Romney says he was only trying to do as governor of Massachusetts.

And, guys, if you just want one taste of how bad it is for Mitt Romney on this issue right now, just look at "The Wall Street Journal," editorial in that paper today says Mitt Romney might as well run for vice president under President Obama if he doesn't repudiate Romney care -- guys.

CHETRY: Harsh words. All right. Jim Acosta for us this morning. Thanks so much.

ACOSTA: You got it.

CHETRY: Up next, Tory Birch, you know, she's the red hot fashion designer with the logo that you see on everyone's shoes. There it is. She sits down with our own Alina Cho, and she gets so successful. Forty-seven minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: A lot going on this morning. Here's what you need to know to start your day.

Osama Bin Laden's handwritten journal seized during last week's raids in Pakistan shows he was constantly planning for new terror attacks against the United States. Officials say computer files also reveal he had a role in every recent major al Qaeda threat.

After two weeks without being seen, there's a Gadhafi sighting. Libyan TV airing video of the dictator reportedly meeting yesterday with tribal leaders just hours before a NATO air strike damaged more of his Tripoli compound.

Thousands of people in Lorca, Spain spent the night sleeping in the street. A 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit the country's southeast coast knocking down several buildings and crushing cars. Eight people were killed.

Five big oil bosses will get grilled by Congress today. They're under fire for record profits and soaring prices at the pump. Many Democrats demanding an end to billions in tax breaking subsidies that oil companies are getting which leads us to our question of the day.

Will cutting subsidies to big oil lower the price of gas? We'd like to know what you think. Send us an e-mail, a tweet, or tell us on Facebook. We'll read some of your comments throughout the morning. AMERICAN MORNING is back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, you really -- of course, you know you made it big when everyone knows who you are just by hearing your first name. Oprah, Beyonce, Elvis. That could be Presley or Costello, right?

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: True. One fashion designer said she never imagined it might happen to her. These days when someone who's well-dressed says it's a Tory. They're talking about this person. Alina Cho is here to tell us who we're talking about. Hi, there.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there. She says it's actually odd but flattering when somebody says, oh, is that a Tory? You're wearing a Tory, you know, which I can imagine is the case. You know, for millions of women all over the world, the name Tory Burch really has become synonymous with those ballerina flats, you know, the flat ones with those iconic logos.

Burch sells a lot more than just shoes these days. It turns out that her shoes were just the first step in building the Tory Burch fashion empire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHO (voice-over): It's just another day at the office for Tory Burch. A photo shoot in the morning for Vogue Mexico, in the afternoon, it's Vogue Japan.

Who is the Tory girl?

TORY BURCH, DESIGNER: I am asked that a lot, but I have to say it's probably me.

I do love this. I wore this jacket today.

CHO: A one-woman fashion empire, 50 stores around the world, another 16 opening next year with an estimated $450 million in sales. This big this fast?

BURCH: Yes, no. I had no idea. I had a five-year plan of three stores. So, you can imagine it's a very different thing. CHO: Wow.

Clothes, shoes, bags, perfume on the way. She's the founder, CEO and, oh, by the way, a dedicated mom, too.

You don't sleep much.

BURCH: I don't sleep much. I wish I slept more, but, no, I've never slept since I was a little girl. So, I think that does help me.

CHO: Burch started the company seven years ago in her kitchen because she saw something missing in her closet.

Which was what?

BURCH: It was this idea of finding great, beautifully designed, beautifully main pieces that weren't at a designer price point.

CHO: Chic but affordable. So, she got to work. Then, she stumbled upon something that would soon be the centerpiece of her first collection.

BURCH: I was in a Paris flea market and I saw a tunic in this shape. And I thought, wow, what a great shape for all ages.

CHO: Today, the Tory Burch tunic is the best seller. So, is the now iconic Riva Ballerina, the flat shoe named for her mother? In fact, it was her stylish parent who first introduced Burch, then a tomboy, to fashion.

BURCH: My father was known for his style, and I think he designed all his own clothing. I often said he should have been a designer. And my mom just stunning. I'm head to toe Tory Burch.

CHO: A mega brand, but don't tell that to Tory Burch.

BURCH: I don't look at it as we're here, we're so successful. For me, I feel like, on so many levels, we're just starting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO (on-camera): And how this for just getting started? Burch is about to move into a huge flagship on Madison Avenue in New York. That store will open in September, and that, by the way, will coincide with another first for Tory. She will also stage her first runway show at Lincoln Center in the fall. Lincoln Center, of course, is the new home and heart of fashion week in New York.

But that tunic, you know, that really started it all, would you believe that it was $7 or $8, it was in polyester, but she loved the shape, and it reminded her of things that her mother and grandmother wore who, as you heard, she's a very, very chic in growing up. She's actually a tomboy growing up. She lived on a farm, and she said she was late bloomer, but she still surprised at all her success.

CHETRY: It certainly resonated because people love her style. CHO: They certainly --

CHETRY: You see that it is everywhere.

CHO: Yes.

CHETRY: Alina, thanks so much.

VELSHI (on-camera): All right. Coming up tomorrow, Alina introduces us to one of the hottest models on the catwalk. Today, 17-year-old supermodel, Lindsey Wixson, and don't miss this, Alina is going to host a half hour special, "Fashion: Backstage Pass" this Saturday, May 14th, 2:30 p.m. eastern, right here on CNN. I'm telling you, you don't want to get your fashion information from anybody but Alina Cho, so tune in for that.

Hey, we'll bring you your top stories right after the break. It's 56 minutes after the hour.

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