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Navy SEALs in Afghanistan; Dance Fever

Aired July 06, 2005 - 14:32   ET


FREDICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Our top stories, the big easy is breathing a big sigh of relief after a mild lashing from Tropical Storm Cindy. Cindy, now a tropical depression, is moving east, dumping heavy rains in Alabama and Georgia. The region is also bracing for a another, potentially more powerful storm, and that would be called Dennis.
And just as we told you moments ago, the Associated Press is reporting that "Time" magazine reporter Matthew Cooper has agreed to testify before a grand jury. He's been ordered to testify about the leak of an undercover CIA operative's name. He and reporter Judith Miller of "The New York Times" face up to four months in prison for refusing to divulge their source.

Discouraging word from the job front. The latest employment numbers show job cuts soared 35 percent last month, pushing the monthly total to its highest level since January. Lay-offs in auto and retail sectors contributed to the larger than expected hype.

And you can check out the CNN's most popular video of the day at Just click on the "video" link and watch it as many times as you want, whenever you want. It's a whole new way to experience the power of CNN video, and it's free.

The only known survivor of a military mission in eastern Afghanistan is giving his account of what happened. You may recall four Navy SEALs went missing last week during a battle with insurgents. One SEAL was rescued Saturday. He tells investigators he was thrown off his feet by an explosion, then knocked down a mountainside. When he came to the top of that mountainside, he was out of the sight of insurgents. Military officials believe the two other SEALs died around the same time. One SEAL is still missing. A helicopter bringing in reinforcements crashed, killing another 16 service members.

That tragedy is casting a rare light onto the shadowy world of the Navy SEALs. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre takes a look at this secretive force and its mission in Afghanistan.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The popular image of SEALs is as frogmen, stealthy Navy commandos who operate from the sea. They still call themselves frogs, but notably SEAL stands for Sea, Air and Land. And these days, that means ground combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. DOUGLAS WALLER, SR. CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: Navy SEALs specialize in amphibious operations. These are operations close to the shore, where they'll infiltrate into the beach and attack a target. But they've also developed a capability to operate really anywhere on land.

MCINTYRE: "Time" magazine senior correspondent Doug Waller is author of "The Commandos: The Inside Story of America's Secret Soldiers."

WALLER: They operate in very small groups. They try to sneak into a target, either to scout it out, or to discreetly take out a target without being seen, without being heard, and then get back out. In this particular case, obviously, something went wrong.

MCINTYRE: The Special Operations Chinook helicopter sent to extract the four-man SEAL team on the ground took a rocket-propelled grenade to the tail section and careened into an Afghan mountainside. On board, an eight-man SEAL team, and eight members of the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Along with the bodies of two SEALs later found on the ground, 18 total dead and one still missing.

It was the deadliest mission for U.S. Special Operations forces since 1993, when 19 soldiers were killed in the Mogadishu firefight, immortalized in the movie "Black Hawk Down." And like the Rangers in Somalia, the SEALs in Afghanistan were a hunter-killer team, operating on intelligence that Taliban and al Qaeda fighters were in the rugged mountains near Asadabad.

(on camera): Why Navy SEALs?

WALLER: They're more action-oriented type of commandos in many cases than, for example, Army Special Forces, which are trained specifically in counter-guerrilla, counter-insurgency type operations. When you want something taken down quickly, in a very, very difficult area to maneuver in, very likely you might want to go to Navy SEALs.

MCINTYRE: And if the SEALs' mission had been a success, their role would likely have never been made public.

WALLER: I found that the people who talk about their missions are not really Navy SEALs. The real Navy SEALs never say what they do. They basically keep to themselves. They're a very close-knit community.

MCINTYRE: On a blog site run by former SEALs, one blogger who claims to be a 17-year veteran says of the rescue of one SEAL, "the identity and story of the SEAL that was recovered today will probably never become public knowledge, and that's the way it has to be."

WALLER: The SEALs have not only a motto but an obsession with never leaving one of their comrades behind. In this particular case, there is still one navy SEAL missing. I can guarantee you that they're moving heaven and earth to find that missing SEAL. And they won't rest until they retrieve him back.

MCINTYRE: Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


WHITFIELD: And now, back to England, where Brits are electrified by this morning's announcement that London will host the 2012 Olympic Games. A special fraternity of American athletes who competed in the 1948 London Olympics are over the top as well about the notion of the games coming full circle in their lifetime.

One of those Olympians, the mid-distance-running five time medalist, world record holder in the 800 meters, the man known as Marvelous Mal. I know him as Dad. Mal Whitfield joins us from Washington. Hello, Dad.


F. WHITFIELD: All right, well, when you heard the news today that the Olympics would be going back to London, the place of your first Olympics, the place where you won two gold medals, one in the 800, one in the 4-by-4 and a bronze in the 400, were you euphoric?

M. WHITFIELD: Oh, yes. I was quite pleased that the committee chose London for a repeat in the Olympic games because they really did a fabulous job following World War II in 1948 and kind of helping the world get back to some civil order, peace and prosperity for all men to be equal, at a time when the war had everybody in a different state of affairs.

F. WHITFIELD: And London certainly is a different place today versus 1948. But it would be awfully nostalgic for a lot of Olympians such as yourself to go back to the games in seven years and to see what it's going to be like for these Olympians of today. What was it like for you competing at Wembley Stadium?

M. WHITFIELD: Well, it was a great thrill for me because I was one of a team of over, I'd say, 37 Olympians, 37 teams strong, representing America, the United States of America. And those days, athletics was my style of interest. And I was 800 meter runner at that time, 400 meter runner and ran in the 4-by-400 meter relay team, winning two gold medals and one bronze. And of course, this was a childhood ambitious dream, like most any other child in America, anywhere in the world, is to want to have participated in the Olympic Games.

F. WHITFIELD: Wow. And there you are out in front in the pictures, number 136. I mean, look at the track and see -- it looked like a dirt track. And we're talking about a very wet London. It was muddy, wasn't it?

M. WHITFIELD: Well, you know, you can't expect what kind of climatic conditions will be in London for the Olympic Games, although things would be more modern than those days. And when you're talking about modern facilities and dresswear, let me show you what a sweatsuit looked like in the early days. Now, it doesn't suit me at all to wear this on the street in public, being shiny. But I do sleep in it during the wintertime.

F. WHITFIELD: So that's your sweatsuit from the 1948 games. How in incredible it is that you still have it. And lots of mementos from the games then. And when you look at the athletes now, Dad, and see what kind of equipment, the technology they have for the training, the kind of, you know, equipment they're using to run in, versus the kind of track shoes you were running in, what are you thinking? What do you think about that?

M. WHITFIELD: Well, things are so different today. Everything's modernization, high-tech. The performance of the athletes are far greater today than they were in those early days. However, we did our best to make a show for our countries, from wherever we come from. But the things that -- the athletics has been involved now today with heavy sponsorship. And sponsorship makes a tremendous amount of difference in performance and the ability to represent your country with elite style of fashion wear, which is the uniforms you wear, the facilities that you participate on. Synthetic composition of whatever makes a performance far better than what it used to be.

F. WHITFIELD: So I got to look at that jacket one more time. I got to see if it's going to fit me, you know, just in case I may want to borrow it sometime, Dad.

M. WHITFIELD: Well, it certainly will keep you warm. I wouldn't wear it on the street. As you see today, I wouldn't wear it on the street, but I sure as heck would wear it during the wintertime.

F. WHITFIELD: Well, it's great. And your track and field career went on from there, went on to flourish. It went on to the '52 Helsinki games, where, again, in the 800, you won gold, set a world record. You also brought home a silver in the 4-by-4.

And you became part of a handful of American athletes who would become goodwill ambassadors in sports. And while you were with the U.S. Information Agency and stationed in many countries in Africa -- now the G-8 Summit is beginning. I got to ask you about your experience, your intimate details and experience with Africa. How are you hoping that, if money is committed in large numbers for many of these G-8 leaders, how this money will go to African leaders and how they'll actually be disseminated to the African people? How hopeful are you that that will take place?

M. WHITFIELD: Well, it's hopeful. When you use good decisions in making assistance -- of providing financial assistance through the countries. Now, this is a very difficult situation. Say you got the money now, how to, you know, arrange your distribution of the money, where it should go first, based on what is needed. Discipline is really the key, in going back to the basics of the organization program. Planning and training and presentation is a necessity, distributing and free delivery of funds where they should go and who's in charge. It's a big job. It's going to be a bigger job than that, receiving the money for distribution.

F. WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Dad. Mal Whitfield. First time I get a chance to call you by your first name right to you, Dad. Mal Whitfield. Thanks so much, Dad, for your perspective on the G-8 Summit, Africa and, of course, the Olympic Games, now going to be hosted in London once again in 2012. And I look forward, Dad, to joining you in London for those Olympic Games when they happen.

M. WHITFIELD: We will be there.

F. WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks a lot.

Now this just in, also from Washington D.C.. "The New York Times" reporter Judith Miller is testifying before the judge in the district courtroom right there. You're looking at a live picture. She testifies that she will not reveal her source, who provided her information about the CIA operative.

In an about face, however, her colleague at "Time" magazine, Matthew Cooper, just moments ago told the court that he will reveal his sources. He had said that he wouldn't do so, even though the editor-in-chief had handed over his notes and e-mails, revealing some information about who may have provided details about the CIA operative.

So once again, Judith Miller standing her guard, saying she will not reveal her sources. Matt Cooper, according to the Associated Press, testifying that he will. More on this story when we get it.

We're going to take a short break, and we'll be right back on LIVE FROM.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD: Entertainment news now. It's not "Saturday Night Fever," but you would say a certain TV show is making many Americans feel like dancing. Details now from CNN entertainment correspondent Sibila Vargas in Los Angeles -- Sibila.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Fred, we almost got you singing, huh?

WHITFIELD: Oh, you're not going to hear me singing.

VARGAS: Almost.


VARGAS: Well, if you tuned into ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," it's OK, you're not alone. Millions are watching and, as I found out, they're really getting their groove on.


VARGAS (voice-over): From the Viennese waltz to the samba, emotional good-byes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm so lucky I had such a fabulous partner who would try anything.

VARGAS: To mere wardrobe malfunctions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice cover of the wardrobe malfunction.

VARGAS: ABC's summer reality show "Dancing with the Stars" is sweeping audiences off their feet.

JENNIFER ARMSTRONG, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": It's just one of those strange magical combinations of things that comes together at the exact right time in the exact right season, and just works.

VARGAS: The concept is simple. Celebs partner with professional dancers and fans help determine who stays in the competition. Dance studio director Kent Sterling thinks he knows why people are responding.

KENT STERLING, ARTHUR MURRAY DANCE STUDIO: Deep inside they're saying themselves, when they're watching other people dance, they say, oh, I would love to be able to do that. So, you know, at home, in the privacy of their living room, they can turn that on and kind of fantasize and watch others dance. And again, sometimes it gives a few of them courage to do it themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the quarter finals.

VARGAS: Recent films like the critically-acclaimed documentary "Mad Hot Ballroom" and Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez' "Shall We Dance" are adding to the ballroom blitz.

Dance school attendance is up, and the number of professional ballroom competitions are at an all-time high.

STERLING: They were able to see Richard Gere and the other actors in that movie taking the dance lessons and having fun with it.

VARGAS: Well, with all this talk of dancing, I decided to have a little fun with it. I met with Dancing With the Stars underdog Kelly Monaco of "General Hospital" and her partner, who gave me a few pointers.

Mastering the turn, however, would take a little time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And one, two, three, four.



But as fan favorite John O'Hurley of "Seinfeld" fame reminded me, it's all about having fun.

JOHN O'HURLEY, ACTOR: It is what it is and let's just throw it on the floor and have the time of our lives and that's all we've bee doing. We just at each other's eyes and let the moment carry us. And that's been the joy of this entire experience.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VARGAS: And you can watch John O'Hurley and Kelly Monaco face off in tonight's finale. And Fred, with the success of the show, you know, there's a lot more to follow. Fox and TLC already have their own dance show types in the works. So, expect a lot of two-stepping -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: Sibila, I think we need to rerun that segment just to see you dance one more time.

VARGAS: I've got to master that turn.

WHITFIELD: I'm impressed. All right. Thanks a lot, Sibila.

Well, a year and a day in prison. That's the sentence just handed rapper Lil' Kim, whose real name is Kimberly Jones. She was also find $50,000, all for lying to a grand jury.

Prosecutors say she did it to protect friends involved in a 2001 shooting with rival rappers. Lil' Kim was the sidekick and mistress of the late rapper, Notorious B.I.G.

Sporting the yellow jersey, again: Lance Armstrong continues his record-setting pace at the Tour de France. An update straight ahead.

And later, an emotional story out of Ethiopia. We'll head inside a hospice set up by Mother Teresa, where the dying spend their final hours.


WHITFIELD: Cycling for number seven, six-time defending champ Lance Armstrong holds on to the overall lead, cruising to a safe finish in the fifth stage of the Tour de France. He's ahead of teammate and fellow American George Hincapie by 55 seconds. They're are 16 stages to go, with the cyclists riding into Paris, July 24th.

Crude oil prices ended the day at another all-time high.

Kathleen Hays joins us live, from the New York Stock Exchange for more on that -- Kathleen?

KATHLEEN HAYS: Hi, Fredricka. You know, it's really enough to make your head spin just day after day. Crude oil prices ending the day, today: $61.30. As you said, this is another record-closing high.

Tropical Storm Cindy forced oil companies to evacuate some rigs in the region yesterday. That got the ball rolling again. Now, Tropical Storm Dennis is building strength as it heads that way, as well. A government agency says that so far, 12 percent of the daily output has been shut down as a precaution and the worry is that already strained energy supplies will decline further.

The high oil prices definitely hurting stocks today. Right now, the Dow Industrials are down 85 points. The Nasdaq Composite is losing a third of a percent. So, that's the latest from Wall Street. Like I said, Fredricka, it's all about the oil market today.

WHITFIELD: All right. It is indeed and we'll be watching. Thanks so much, Kathleen.

Well, New York, Paris and Moscow were among the cities snubbed by the International Olympic Committee.

Just ahead: Reaction from those cities that were hoping to land the summer games in 2012.