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American Morning

Will Rehnquist Retire?; BTK Suspect in Court; Journalists to Jail?

Aired June 27, 2005 - 09:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The opening bell ringing on Wall Street this morning. The Dow Jones industrial average starts trading at 10,297. Fell more than 123 points on Friday.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I don't get to do it? I thought they wanted me to ring the bell.

S. O'BRIEN: Here, you can do this one.

M. O'BRIEN: Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

S. O'BRIEN: There you got. And that's the real thing, that's not Miles pretending to be the bell. Over at the Nasdaq market site...

M. O'BRIEN: They've closed up shop there. What happened to the video wall there?

S. O'BRIEN: Well, it's a little...

M. O'BRIEN: Late?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. The composite index opens at 2,053, down more than 17 points on Friday. That was just uncanny the way you did that.

M. O'BRIEN: Ding, ding, ding, ding! It really fooled you, didn't it?

S. O'BRIEN: It's shocking, yes. I thought there was the bell, but no...

M. O'BRIEN: I do sound effects, too.

S. O'BRIEN; No, it's just you.

M. O'BRIEN: It is a little past half past the hour -- that's why we missed the bell -- on this AMERICAN MORNING. Coming up, we're going to find out more about the deadly shark attack in Florida, from the man who was there, Tim Dicus, tried to save that little girl. It is truly a harrowing tale. You want to hear this one.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, it's so heartbreaking, really. He swam toward her as the attack was happening, then he had to fight off the shark.

M. O'BRIEN: It kept coming after him. S. O'BRIEN: Yes, he had to punch the shark to try to get the shark away from the girl, who he then put on his surfboard. He was, you know, unsuccessful in saving her life and he's incredibly humble, too, about his role. We'll talk with him about his story, coming up.

M. O'BRIEN: First, let's check the headlines. Carol Costello with that. Hello, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Good morning to all of you.

"Now in the News," a new development out of Iraq to tell you about. CNN now confirming two crew members are dead after their helicopter went down near Baghdad. Video just into CNN this morning shows smoke billowing from the scene. The U.S. Apache helicopter went down earlier this morning. Military officials are investigating the cause of this crash.

In Aruba, a disc jockey detained in connection with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway is set to go home today. Steve Croes is the second person to be released in 24 hours. A Dutch judge, Paul Van Der Sloot, was freed on Sunday. His son does remain in custody. He's one of three suspects.

In the meantime, a special team has arrived on the island from Texas to assist with the search. Today marks four weeks since Natalee Holloway went missing.

A prayer vigil being held for three boys who were found dead in the trunk of a car. The children were the focus of a massive two-day search in Camden, New Jersey. The father of one of the boys is angry that police failed to search the trunk. The car was parked just steps away from where the children were last seen playing.

A hefty price tag for obesity. A new study shows the amount of money spent treating obesity-related health problems in America grew ten-fold over a span of 15 years. Research shows the amount went from $3.6 billion to $36.5 billion. The study appears in the journal "Health Affairs."

And NBA star Shaquille O'Neal gets down to business. The Shaq collected his MBA at the University of Phoenix. O'Neal, who is also a part-time police officer, says he helps to land another master's degree and finish his basketball career with a doctorate. Shaq, who plays center for The Heat, says someday he might have to put down a basketball and have a regular 9:00 to 5:00 job like everybody else, but of course...

S. O'BRIEN: No, you won't.

COSTELLO: The difference is, is he'll own the company.

S. O'BRIEN: Hey, Shaq, I don't know that much about basketball, virtually nothing, really, but you know, you don't have to work anymore, you're done.

M. O'BRIEN: He ain't working.

COSTELLO: That's really great, though, that he's going back to school.

M. O'BRIEN: Totally impressive.

S. O'BRIEN: Can you imagine, you have multiple MBAs, get his -- Dr. Shaq to all of us.

M. O'BRIEN: Dr. Shaq, I like that.

S. O'BRIEN: I think that's pretty cool.

M. O'BRIEN: He's also one of the more generous guys around, too. So...

COSTELLO: Very nice and very fun to watch.

M. O'BRIEN: Tip of the hat, tip of the hat to Shaq this morning.

S. O'BRIEN: Carol, thank you very much.

The Supreme Court's going to issue several important rulings when its current term ends today. But the big story could be what happens with the Chief Justice William Rehnquist. If he decides to retire, President Bush will have to appoint a new chief justice and new member to the high court.

Dana Bash at the White House for us this morning on that. Dana, good morning. What's happening behind the scenes?


Well, I can tell you that there is a real palpable sense of anxiousness, anticipation. Everybody's sort of on pins and needles waiting to see what, if anything, happens at the court, to see if any of the justices -- primarily the focus certainly is on the chief justice, to see if anybody steps down.

But are they are extraordinarily prepared here, Soledad. In fact, GOP sources tell us that there was a meeting just on Friday, just before the weekend, with some of the key outside players who are helping the White House prepare for a massive campaign to push the nominee, whenever or whomever that might be.

And the president's team has been working on this for quite some time. Since day one of the administration, the White House lawyers have been looking at some of the writings and rulings of a potential nominee, just in case the president has to do this at any given time. Now, the process is top secret. Even just a few top Bush officials are aware of this. They hold their cards very close to the vest in general, but particularly on this.

However, we do understand, from various sources, that there is a short list of potential candidates, some of whom White House officials apparently have already met with. And I will go through some of them. Among the short list are apparently Michael Ludig. He is a judge on the Fourth Circuit. Harvie Wilkinson, who is also on the Fourth Circuit. Samuel Alito on the Appellate Court, also, in Philadelphia. John Roberts, who is here in D.C. on the Circuit. And Emilio Garza on the fifth circuit in Texas.

Now, another name that we have heard about, really for the past four years as a potential that Mr. Bush might want to put on the Supreme Court is his now attorney general, his former White House counsel, Alberto Gonzalez. He is somebody is a close confidante of President Bush. They have been since their days in Texas together.

But social conservatives had -- have made very clear that they would oppose him, because of rulings that he put forward as he was justice on the Texas State Supreme Court, rulings that they think are too moderate when it comes to abortion and other issues. And as you know, Soledad, Republicans, particularly conservatives, say that they have been waiting a long time and they want to see somebody quite conservative that the president puts forward, when and if he gets the opportunity.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, and I think if is really...

BASH: Exactly.

S. O'BRIEN: ... the operative word there, because, of course, the chief justice is still the chief justice. Hasn't said he's going to be stepping down anytime.

BASH: Precisely.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Dana, thanks -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: It's back to court in just about 30 minutes for the man accused in the BTK killings that terrorized Wichita, Kansas, for three decades.

CNN's Jonathan Freed is outside the county courthouse there. Jonathan, a little bit of mystery surrounding this court appearance today?

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Miles. None of us really expected to be standing here today. Everybody had expected the defense to ask for a continuance, meaning to delay the start of the trial. But so far, Miles, at least at this point, that hasn't happened yet.


FREED (voice over): The man accused of terrorizing Wichita, Kansas, for more than 30 years will be back in court this morning. When Dennis Rader last appeared in May, the judge entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. Rader is accused of killing 10 people between 1974 and 1991. In a recent telephone interview given to CNN affiliate KSN-TV, Rader listed what he sees as his legal options.

DENNIS RADER, ACCUSED BTK KILLER: Three things can happen on the hearing. There's a continuance, there's a plea or we go for trail.

FREED: The Sedgwick County district attorney's office provided CNN with more detail about all that. Saying, for example, if Rader changes his plea to guilty, and if it's accepted by the court, a sentencing hearing would likely be set for a month from now. But as for the possibility of a continuance Rader mentioned, meaning to delay the trial, the DA has long insisted she'd never ask for one, saying she's ready to try the case right now.

NOLA FOULSTON, SEGWICK CO. DIST. ATTY.: We're ready to, you know, do whatever we need to do. We're well studied on it.

FREED: So that means any request for a continuance would most likely come from the defense. Prosecutors say Rader could also wave his right to a trial by jury where District Judge Gregory Waller would then decide if Rader is responsible for the string of murders. And that option would also delay the start of the trial.


FREED: Now, Miles, the hearing is expected to start at about 22 minutes from now. And just about five minutes ago, we witnessed a very somber procession here outside the courthouse. Members of the victims' family being led inside -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Jonathan Freed in Wichita. Thank you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Just about 21 minutes before the hour.


S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, a familiar name looks to take a bite out of McDonald's profits in China. Andy's "Minding Your Business," just ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: And an award-winning journalist takes her fight to the supreme court. Should she go to prison for a story that she never even wrote? It's an interview you'll only see on CNN, next on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Two high-profile journalists who have refused to reveal their confidential sources could learn today whether they might be heading to jail soon. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce whether it will hear the cases of Judith Miller of "The New York Times" and Matthew Cooper of "Time" magazine. A federal judge ruled that the two journalists should be held in contempt, and jailed for refusing to reveal their secret sources to a federal grand jury. Miller and Cooper lost in the federal appeals court, so they took their fight to the highest court in the land.

National correspondent Kelly Wallace joins us this morning with their story.

Kelly, how likely is it that the two of them could actually go off to prison?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Likely. I mean it all comes down to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the court decides to hear their case, there will be arguments maybe in the fall, more likely 2006. If the court says, no, we won't take the case, then it goes back to that federal judge, Hogan, and he's the one that said they should be jailed. So the likelihood is they could start going to prison next month.

So Judith Miller, one of the two reports we talked to, she said, it was going to be a nerve-wracking weekend, as you can imagine, trying to keep as busy as possible. She also says that this case is not about her. In an interview you'll see only on CNN, she says it's about protecting sources so they will continue to come forward and help journalists uncover stories the public would not know about otherwise.


WALLACE (voice over): His name is Hamlet, and investigative reporter Judith Miller is relying on him a lot.

JUDITH MILLER, "NEW YORK TIMES" REPORTER: I brought Hamlet in case I'm not here. I got Hamlet for my husband, and I hope that Hamlet won't be necessary for that purpose. But, you know, things -- you know, you go on. You try and just pretend that things are normal.

WALLACE: But life has certainly been anything but normal for "The New York Times" Pulitzer prize-winning journalist. For refusing to reveal her confidential sources to a federal grand jury, she could spend 18 months behind bars, a sentence that could begin as early as next month, unless the U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear her case.

(on camera): There have to be conversations of the potential of going to prison.

MILLER: We try not to talk about that. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

WALLACE: Did you ever think it would come to this?

MILLER: I guess not. I think if -- I think I didn't think at this point that a pledge of confidentiality that I gave to a source would endanger my freedom.

WALLACE (voice over): The case against Miller and another reporter, Matthew Cooper of "TIME" magazine, stems from a column in July 2003 in which syndicated columnist Robert Novak identified a covert CIA agent, Valerie Plame, indicating he had spoken to two senior administration officials about her. Novak is also a regular CNN contributor.

Six months after Novak's column, a federal special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, started a wide-ranging investigation to determine who revealed Plame's identity, issuing subpoenas to several administration officials and reporters, because it can be a crime for a government official to name covert agents.

What makes Miller's case unusual is she never wrote about Plame, although she says she did contemplate writing a story and talked with one or more sources, whose identities she agreed to keep secret.

(on camera): And that's what some people when they hear your story find it hard to understand how you could be facing jail time...

MILLER: For a story I didn't write. Well, the law doesn't distinguish between knowing something and writing it. I think we do. I think people do. But for the government and for the special prosecutor, the issue is what I knew, what I might know, what he suspects I might know. But I think to some of us, it's positively Orwellian.

WALLACE (voice over): She's been called a martyr for the First Amendment, a title she vigorously rejects.

MILLER: I keep saying this is not about me. And it's not about me. And it's not about Matt. And it's about the kind of news that people are going to get. It's about whether or not there could be a "Deep Throat" today.

WALLACE: Miller's critics, while applauding her decision to protect her sources, still question her reporting before the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, reporting which turned out to be wrong.

(on camera): This isn't to repair Judy Miller's image after criticism over WMD?

MILLER: No. Every journalist gets something wrong. And, you know, I'm very comfortable with my record. Sometimes if your sources are right, you're going to be right. If they're wrong, you're going to get stories wrong.

WALLACE: Facing a possible prison sentence, she says she's less concerned about herself than her loved ones.

MILLER: The emotional toll on them has been substantial. And for that, I'm really, really sorry.

WALLACE: And now Miller, who has worked throughout her career to get the story, can only wait to learn how this one will end.


WALLACE: And how this story ends could affect state laws, because currently 49 states have some protections on their books for journalists. For that reason, the attorneys general of 34 states and the District of Columbia are urging the Supreme Court to hear the case to clarify the law.

Meanwhile, the special prosecutor in the case is urging the court not to hear it, Soledad. He says it's time to bring his investigation to a conclusion as quickly as possible. S. O'BRIEN: We'll know soon.

WALLACE: Soon. 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time the court should announce its decision.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Kelly, thanks. Great spot.

WALLACE: Sure. Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: A final note we should mention, CNN and "Time" magazine are both owned by the same company, Time Warner. CNN, along with several other news organizations, filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting the position of the two reporters, citing the right of privilege for journalists -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: CNN LIVE TODAY is coming up next. Betty Nguyen is filling in for Daryn this morning.

Good morning, Betty.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Miles.

At the top of the hour, trial is set to begin for the man accused of being the BTK serial killer. We will take you live inside the Kansas courtroom for the latest on this case.

Plus, several key rulings expected this morning at the Supreme Court.

And, are any of the justices ready to retire? We could find out all about that in just a few minutes right here on CNN LIVE TODAY.

Back to you, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: High drama on Capitol Hill. Stay tuned. All right, we'll see you, Betty. Thank you.


M. O'BRIEN: Still to come, an American icon makes its debut in China. We're "Minding Your Business" just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


Back to you, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: High drama on Capitol Hill.


M. O'BRIEN: Stay tuned. All right. We'll see you, Betty. Thank you.


M. O'BRIEN: Still to come, an American icon makes its debut in China. We're "Minding Your Business," just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Later today, officials in Florida hope an autopsy will reveal what kind of shark attacked and then killed a teenage girl. It happened off Miramar Beach, a town on the Florida Panhandle, about 120 miles West of the capital, Tallahassee. 14-year-old Jamie Daigle and her friend were more than 200 yards offshore when the shark attacked. A surfer heard their screams for help, and risking his own life, made a desperate attempt to save that girl. The surfer, Tim Dicus, describes his fight with the shark.


TIM DICUS, ATTEMPTED RESCUE: Well, he swam -- or he broke off the attack to the left and kind of swam around and tried to come back up behind me. I had just gotten the girl up on the board. I had gotten everything up on the board except her right hand. And as I was reaching down to pull her right hand on the board, he came up from below me and attempted to bite her hand. So I...

S. O'BRIEN: And then you when you hit -- I'm sorry, forgive me for interrupting. You hit him, didn't you?

DICUS: At that particular time, I just splashed the water. And it was enough to confuse him and he swam away again. But that wasn't the last time he'd attack me. He continued the attacks all the way to the beach.


S. O'BRIEN: Some other rescuers helped Dicus get the girl out of the water. It was not enough, though, to save her -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. We're going to talk about oil and gas prices, We got Boone Pickens. We got Burger King. Let's face it. With Andy Serwer, you can have it your way, right?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" COLUMNIST: I think so. Or we can have it your way.

M. O'BRIEN: No, let's have it your way.

SERWER: All right. Good. Let's talk about the markets first of all this morning, Miles. Stocks actually trading up this hour, even with higher oil prices. Let's go down to the big board and see. Up 12 points and after what happened last week, we will take it. Stock -- Dow Jones Industrials down over 300 points last week. So little bit of a reprieve here.

But oil is trading above $60 a barrel this morning, and that means higher gasoline prices here at pump in the U.S.A. Now $2.24 is the national average. That's up eight cents over the past two weeks. This past weekend on "IN THE MONEY," we spoke to oil tycoon Boone Pickens. Here's what he had to say about gas prices.


BOONE PICKENS, OIL ENTREPRENEUR: They have gasoline in Europe at $5. And the United States at $2.20, eventually, well it's -- it's going to have to move up. Now, I know that there are taxes involved in the pricing of gasoline around the world, too. But I do think you're going to see gasoline prices move up to $3 within a year from now.


SERWER: Wow, $3 a gallon. Carpooling, anyone?

M. O'BRIEN: Going to have to dump the Yukon Excel, that's for sure. Big time.

SERWER: Ah, well. Could be.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: Let's talk about Burger King a little bit, Miles. This comes as a surprise that they hadn't done this earlier. Burger King opens its first restaurant in Shanghai, near a Buddhist temple. And apparently you can get a Whopper and apparently you can also get a burger with spicy mala (ph) sauce there.

Now, what took these guys so long? I mean, McDonald's has been there since 1990. They've got 600 restaurants there already, plan to have 1,000 by 2008. And KFC's got even more than that. So they've got a lot of catching up to do. And when you get far behind, trying to build a brand in a market like that is very, very, difficult.

M. O'BRIEN: I would think it would be tough. But you -- didn't it used to be their strategy was, wherever McDonald's built a restaurant, they'd be just kind of on the opposite corner?

SERWER: That's right.

M. O'BRIEN: They didn't follow that.

SERWER: Well, you think they would have done that in 1991.

M. O'BRIEN: You would think.

SERWER: A long time ago.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Andy. Appreciate it.

SERWER: You're welcome, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad? S. O'BRIEN: Coming up tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING, a look at a controversial new video game. It's called "25 to Life" and it is said to be one of the most violent ever made. Players, for example, get points for killing cops. However, there is a push to keep it out of the hands of kids. Is it going to work? This is just part of a growing trend in video games. Got that story here on AMERICAN MORNING. We begin at 7:00 a.m. Eastern time.

We're back in just a moment.


S. O'BRIEN: We are out of time.

SERWER: That's it. That's all she wrote today.

M. O'BRIEN: Time just flew. Wow.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it did.

M. O'BRIEN: Seemed like only three hours.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, just today.

M. O'BRIEN: That's right.