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American Morning

Search Expanded for Natalee Holloway; Jesse Jackson Updates on Michael Jackson

Aired June 27, 2005 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: In Aruba, expanding the search for Natalee Holloway, missing now for a week. Ahead, a live report on the investigation and the two men who are now being held in the case.
The verdict watch begins in the Michael Jackson trial after another health scare. This morning, the latest on the singer's state of mind from this spiritual adviser, the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

And the military destroys a massive underground hideout for insurgents in Iraq. Our military analyst explains the impact on the enemy on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: From the CNN broadcast center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Bill Hemmer.

O'BRIEN: Good morning, everybody.

Welcome back.

Bill Hemmer has got the day off. He's taking kind of a long weekend.

But Ali Velshi has been nice enough to fill in.


Good morning to you.

Also ahead, we're going to look at -- we're going to talk to the attorney for a boy who was shot at the end of a police chase in Arizona. He was in a piece of Earth moving equipment. The boy is in a coma right now. We'll look at this case and whether police acted properly.

O'BRIEN: Considering the size of that thing, I mean that really moves.

VELSHI: That's something. That's a big Earth mover.

O'BRIEN: Yes. A pretty weird story, huh?

Jack Cafferty is with us, as well -- good morning.


Coming up in "The Cafferty File," the developers of a new neighborhood in Texas promise homebuyers safety from sex offenders.

If you've got rhythm, thank mom. And if you don't, it's probably her fault.

And a new book of conversations with George Bush. Actually, 25 George Bushes.

O'BRIEN: That sounds pretty good.

All right, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, we'll see.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.

Let's get right to the headlines with Carol Costello -- good morning.


Good morning to all of you.

Now in the news, Iraqi police coming under fire this morning in Baghdad. Iraqi officials say at least three police commandos were wounded in a suicide attack that took place near a checkpoint in western Baghdad. One other person also injured.

Also, one person killed in a mortar attack in Mosul. A second person hurt in that attack. Mosul has been the scene of insurgent attacks in recent months.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says there has been no decision on taking the issue of North Korea to the United Nations. Secretary Rumsfeld is in Bangkok, Thailand for meetings with officials there. It is his final stop on his tour of Asia. Rumsfeld next heads to Norway and Brussels.

Violence at a disputed holy site in Jerusalem. Two Israelis were slightly wounded by a group of Palestinians throwing stones. Israeli police say they fired stun grenades to break up the crowd. The clash comes as Israel marks Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of the capture of Arab East Jerusalem during the Six Day War nearly four decades ago.

It is back to business for the U.S. Senate today, as they take up a number of issues, including judicial nominees. Debate begins on the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington.

The Senate is also expected to take up the stalled nomination of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador. He's facing criticism for being too tough on employees, among other things. Democrats are not expected to have enough votes to continue delaying Bolton's nomination.

And the International Olympic Committee set to make its recommendations public today on a site for the 2012 Olympic Games. Paris celebrated its shot at the Olympics with a massive parade Sunday. But there was no parade in New York City. As you know, New York also in the running. But a delayed committee vote on a controversial $2 billion stadium on Manhattan's West Side is now set for today, of all days. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the Big Apple's Operation Lightning bid hinges on its approval.

So how do you explain that one, if you're the mayor, to the Olympic Committee?

VELSHI: Oh, always politics in this city, huh? It will be interesting to see. We'll see what the Olympic Committee says.

Carol, thank you so much.


VELSHI: Authorities in Aruba have charged two men in the disappearance of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway. Meanwhile, investigators are expanding the search for the Alabama student.

Karl Penhaul is in Palm Beach, Aruba for us.

He joins us now with the latest -- Karl.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ali, as you say, there has been a breakthrough in this case with those two arrests. But as far as the family is concerned, it's still a huge emotional drain for them. It's frustration. It's a waiting game as this goes on.

But this morning I was talking to a very close family friend and she says the family is doing its best to stay strong, to stay focused. And Natalee's mom, Beth, has said that she's not going home without her daughter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We pray, Heavenly Father, that she will be able to be reunited with her family very, very soon.

PENHAUL (voice-over): More than a lighthouse, it's their beacon of hope.


PENHAUL: More than a hymn, it's their song of faith, faith through the agony that Natalee Holloway will return. It's been a week now since the 18-year old went missing. Just like the well wishers at this vigil, the authorities are holding out hope.

KARIN JANSSEN, ARUBA ATTORNEY GENERAL: An investigation has two girls. First, to get her alive and bring her back to her mother and family. And the second is to do an investigation in the case that something terrible happens.

PENHAUL: The day began with raids on two homes on the eastern side of the island. Aruban journalist Dilma Arends was there. DILMA ARENDS, JOURNALIST: We didn't hear any screaming, any shouting. It was very, very calm. Again, the police surrounded the house. After a while, we saw some agents come in with gloves. They started searching around the house.

PENHAUL: Three cars and bags of items were confiscated, but no sign of the young American.

JANSSEN: They didn't find clothing or belongings of her.

PENHAUL: The prosecutor said the men have been charged with crimes related to Natalee's disappearance, but gave no more specifics. They're being interrogated.

After the arrests, Dutch Marines began combing Black Mangrove Beach on Aruba's wind swept eastern tip. Police say a blood-stained mattress was discovered. But FBI tests ruled out any link to Natalee. It was not human blood.

On another day with no fresh news of Natalee, yet old and young still cling tight to their flowers and their faith that the missing will be found.


PENHAUL: These arrests, Ali, have certainly not signaled any letup in the search operation. In the next couple of hours, we expect here at the Holiday Inn, the hotel where Natalee had been staying, for a group of volunteers and possibly some of the family, friends and relatives to meet. They're organizing volunteer searches. They'll head out for another day combing the beaches and some of the scrubland here.

VELSHI: All right, and you showed those Dutch Marines coming in there. We also hear about specialized diving teams from the FBI having been called in to help the search.

Where is this search going? Are they looking for a Natalee who might be alive or is there some indication that they needed to bring in diving teams?

PENHAUL: It was certainly the hope of the chief prosecutor, as we've heard, that her hope, and, she says, her most important mission is to find Natalee and to find her alive and send her home with her mother. But as a precaution, obviously, and as part of this search as it goes on, they're calling in these FBI diving experts because although, yes, Aruba, a lot of white, sandy beaches, but on other parts of the island, a craggy coastline. And there are some very strong currents that sweep past especially the southern end of the island. That's where the FBI diving experts will be working -- Ali.

VELSHI: All right, Karl, we'll be tracking this.

Thank you very much.

Karl Penhaul in Aruba -- Soledad. O'BRIEN: Well, Michael Jackson is back home today after another hospital visit on Sunday. The jury in his molestation trial will have its first full day of deliberations today.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson is a spiritual adviser and friend of the family.

He is live for us in Santa Maria, California.

Nice to see you, Reverend Jackson.

Thanks for talking with us.


O'BRIEN: I know you've had an opportunity to meet with Michael at the ranch after he got out of the hospital.

How does he look? How is he doing?

JACKSON: Well, Michael is in excruciating pain. He had a terrible fall some time back and then another fall in the shower. And he periodically has these back spasms. I am sure that the stress and the anxiety of this period is a factor. But his physical pain is real. When we talked and prayed last night, one could see Michael grimacing.

But having said that, he is amazingly resolute and strong in his convictions of his innocence. He feels a terrible sense of injustice has been heaped up on him. But he is physically in a lot of pain.

O'BRIEN: It's not the first time, in fact, during the trial that he's had to go to the emergency room.

What kind of help do they give him in the emergency room for something that's a chronic pain like back pain?

JACKSON: I'm sure you have some combination of relaxants and heat, something of this sort. But anyone who's ever had capable knows that they do not go away easily.

But, again, I would contend that it is this combination of forces coming at him that also contributes to his being so terribly anxious. After all, he's facing acquittal or imprisonment. And he is optimistic about his acquittal. He declares his innocence. But he's also very sensitive over the fact that those who he trusted have betrayed him and at the obsession, as he feels, with this -- with the sheriff here who, as you know, went into his home with 75 armed deputy sheriffs and ransacked his home, took out items from his house that ended up in the media, as well as in the courtroom. And this kind of obsessive overkill, he feels, or many feel, was unjust and unnecessary.

O'BRIEN: There is a real possibility, as you know, that he could be convicted. Do you discuss this when you give spiritual guidance and advice to him?

JACKSON: He is very aware of that possibility and yet he is convinced that he would be acquitted. And the spiritual advice is that, you know, there are times you go through valleys and shadows of death. But people of faith fear no evil, for the lord is with us.

On the case of Job, I think, is something to think about. Michael coming from such a terrible high to this point. And Job such a real high. And at some point Job had been stripped of all of his stuff, said, my worst fears have come upon me and yet I know my redeemer lives. My worst fears upon me, and yet, though you slay me, yet will I trust you.

And so one needs that kind of spiritual fortification to hold on at a time like this.

O'BRIEN: A past spiritual adviser has told me numerous times that Michael is surrounded by people that he thinks are unhealthy people from Michael, that he's -- his mind set is being clouded.

Do you see that around him now or has that changed at all?

JACKSON: I'm not aware of that. I've -- Reba, his sister, was there last night. I've been with his mother, his father. So I've seen him really in a very healthy environment and really, I must say, a very spiritual one. His family is devoutly religious and Michael draws upon the faith of his family and his tradition.

O'BRIEN: The family has had a lot of trouble over the last many years. We saw Janet Jackson in court. We saw Latoya Jackson in the courtroom, as well, there to support Michael.

What kind of effect has all of this had on the family and their relationship?

JACKSON: You know, at some point when that happens, people feel themselves to be targeted. And yet there is no sense of anger through it all and almost a resignation to accept these attacks from you on top. And Michael certainly has been on top for a long time. But today it is this, it's this rocking chair of physical pain on the one hand, and the anxiety about the outcome of this trial. In many ways, his destiny, at least for a season, is in the jaws of the jury today. But he feels that he will be vindicated because he declares, in the most private of sessions, his innocence.

O'BRIEN: Well, the destiny is in the jaws of the jury. They have one first full day of deliberations, in fact, today.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson talking with us this morning.

He's a spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson.

Thanks for talking with us, Reverend.

Appreciate it.

JACKSON: Thank you.


VELSHI: Soledad, thanks.

The weather has heated up and with it the chance for some storm damage today. So as I reintroduce our viewers to Chad Myers at the Weather Center, I do so with newfound reverence -- Chad.

Because I have been...


VELSHI: Well, haven't tracked your career over the course of the last hour, I realize that I was three years old when you were first a chief meteorologist somewhere.

MYERS: Yes. You need to find a new hobby there, Ali, I'm afraid, rather than checking out bios.

Good morning.

I have been in this business way too long. I agree with that. But anyway, as long as my hair stays in, I'm doing all right.

Oh, I'm sorry, Ali. Was that -- I wasn't talking about u.

O'BRIEN: Ouch.

MYERS: Just kidding.


O'BRIEN: Oh, that's a terrible prediction ahead for everybody.

Waiting on that.

MYERS: Even for New York City.

O'BRIEN: Oh, go ahead.

VELSHI: But I won't be having a bad hair day, Chad.

MYERS: I know. You save so much on shampoo.

VELSHI: You know, what Chad doesn't know is that the other -- I may have been three when he started his career. I was also three the last time I had hair.


We'll finish this moment off camera, if we can...

MYERS: You guys... O'BRIEN: Thanks, Chad.

Appreciate it.

MYERS: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: In just a moment, friends and neighbors are anxiously awaiting news on Natalee Holloway. We're going to take you live to her hometown in just a few moments to learn more about the missing honors student.

VELSHI: Also, a bizarre police chase involving a 14-year-old boy and a 40-ton construction vehicle. The boy is now in a coma. We'll find out how it happened.

O'BRIEN: And in Iraq, U.S. troops destroy a massive underground hideout the size of nine football fields. A look at what they found inside is ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Police in Aruba say that they are still hopeful that Natalee Holloway is alive. It's been more than a week since Holloway was last seen leaving a popular nightclub. The 18-year-old honors student was visiting the island with classmates to celebrate their recent graduation.

Well, Liz Sandner is Holloway's bible study group leader and she joins us from the Mountainbrook Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Liz, thank you for talking with us.

We certainly appreciate your time.

You must have been utterly shocked to hear that Natalee had disappeared.

LIZ SANDNER, HOLLOWAY'S BIBLE STUDY LEADER: Of course, as, I think, everyone here has been. It's been hard, but thank goodness that we've all come together to be very hopeful for Natalee's return and her safe return. And, you know, we're just sticking together with prayer and thanksgiving for all the people out there who have been searching for her and sticking with us.

O'BRIEN: And there have been many, many people to be thankful for.

You lead the bible study. I know that the two of you are very close.

Did she talk a lot about this trip? Was she excited to go?

SANDNER: You know, I didn't speak with her about the trip at all. Really, our relationship was, for the past three years she's been coming to my house to study the bible, learning about being a godly woman, as well as participating in service projects and that's really the extent of our relationship as -- even though it is close, I didn't really speak to her about social aspects of what she was doing for graduation.

O'BRIEN: She seems like a very dedicated young woman. I also know she's a great student.

Disappearance completely out of character for her?

SANDNER: Of course, yes. And not just a great woman, an exceptional woman. This is someone who, if she wasn't going to be at bible study, would call before, say she couldn't, make an appointment at the different time, sometimes 7:00 a.m. Friday morning, to come recite, you know, her scripture memory for the week. You know, I think one thing to remember is being involved in all of her activities, they were all her choice. And just her -- the way she prioritized it, she would make, you know, studying god's word an important priority as a high school student for such a long time.

I think that speaks volumes about her character.

O'BRIEN: It certainly does.

There are several other young women who were on that trip, as well.

Have you talked to them? How are they doing?

SANDNER: They're doing great. Again, Natalee has been surrounded by a group of fantastic women who really draw on the strength from their relationship with the lord and through prayer. And I know Natalee would be acting the exact same way as her friends have been. And I know that Natalee is hopeful and prayerful for her return, as well.

O'BRIEN: All right, well, Liz Sandner joining us this morning.

Liz, we join, as well, in the wishes and prayers for the return of this young woman.

She sounds like a really remarkable young lady.

Thanks for talking with us.

We appreciate it.

SANDNER: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, the coalition destroys a huge underground bunker in Iraq. The impact it could have on the insurgency is ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

Stay with us.


VELSHI: That's the latest car crash tests. They're finding that the 2005 Nissan Maxima and the Suzuki Verona offer the least protection if hit in the side. The two cars scored a marginal rating. That's one notch above the lowest rating, which is poor. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performed those tests.

It was looking at mid-sized sedans. The top scores went to the Chevy Malibu and the Audi A4.

The Insurance Industry also thanks -- thinks that 20 million Americans are bad drivers, no matter what they're driving. GMAC Insurance question drivers around the country, looking at their driving habits. People in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions tested the lowest. Rhode Island was the worst. Drivers in the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes knew the most. Oregon scored the highest there. The company also found that 10 percent of drivers would fail a state driving test. One in five know that -- don't know that a pedestrian has the right of way over a car in a crosswalk. One in six say they've driven without a side or rearview mirror and one third say they would drive over the legal alcohol limit if they felt OK. Half the drivers in America say they don't know how to merge into heavy traffic -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Well, this number I agree with, because, you know, I was (INAUDIBLE)...

VELSHI: Merging into heavy traffic? Yes.

O'BRIEN: No. Just that no one knows how to do it.


O'BRIEN: Except for me, apparently.

All right, Ali, thanks.

Jack -- good morning.

CAFFERTY: How are you doing?

Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware thinks the United States ought to shut down that military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Biden says that it's a great propaganda tool for the recruitment of terrorists worldwide. Amnesty International called the place a gulag a month ago. Some of the detainees have been there for three years without being charged with a crime.

The question this morning is whether you think we ought to close the place down.

Greg writes from Nova Scotia: "Not a bad idea to close Guantanamo Bay. Reopen Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay with the pleasing decor it had when it opened in the 1930s. Only fitting that those who want to destroy your country are able to get a closer view." S. in Massachusetts: "Get rid of Guantanamo. And while you're at it, lose the knee jerk fear factor and get back to what makes America the greatest on Earth -- guaranteeing all people access to fair and impartial justice."

Shirley in Florida writes: "Yes, that is no prison. It's as close to a concentration camp as we could get without giving it a German name. It's shameful and no one seems to care."

Rick says this, in North Carolina: "I continue to be amazed by the publicity this non-issue of mishandling the Koran is getting. The fact is this doesn't compare to the 9/11 massacre, the beheadings of innocent people and the bombing of Muslim mosques in Pakistan and Iraq, presumably by other Muslims."

O'BRIEN: Interesting people up today.

All right, Jack, thanks.

Still to come this morning, a fresh look at an ancient remedy for chronic pain. We'll find out how millions of Americans are finding relief through acupuncture. We are "Paging Dr. Gupta" ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, a 14-year-old boy leads police on a highly unusual chase that ends in gunfire. We'll take a look at whether authorities overreacted, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

It's just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Bill Hemmer has got a long weekend for him.

But Ali Velshi has been nice enough to fill in -- thank you very much.

VELSHI: My pleasure.

O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, more on the discovery and the destruction of that huge underground bunker in Iraq. Of course, that's the above ground part of it. But there is an underground network that's really extensive.

VELSHI: They say the size of nine football fields. We're going to talk to a retired U.S. general about what was found in the bunker and what this does to stop insurgents operating near Falluja.

O'BRIEN: We're going to get to that in just a moment.

First, though, the headlines with Carol Costello again -- good morning. COSTELLO: Good morning.

Good morning to all of you.

Now in the news, there could be more arrests in the case of a girl missing in Aruba. So far, two men have been charged, but officials would not specify the charges. The Alabama teenager disappeared a week ago while on a high school trip. The FBI now sending out dive teams to assist in the search.

Al Qaeda's suspected number three is in U.S. custody. Pakistani officials say they've handed over Abu Farraj al-Libbi. He's wanted in connection with two assassination attempts against Pakistan's president. Some say he has close ties to Osama bin Laden.

Out in California, the first full day of jury deliberations starts this morning in the Michael Jackson trial.