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American Morning

Pre-War Intelligence; Cell Phone Bandit; Minding Your Business; Kurt Busch Off Road

Aired November 14, 2005 - 07:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. What a beautiful weekend we had. Cold, but clear.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I went out to San Francisco. I wouldn't know about that. But it was spectacular there. You know San Francisco, on a sunny day, hard to beat. It's hard to beat.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: The air is so clean there. My old stomping ground. I love San Francisco.

MILES O'BRIEN: Such a beautiful place.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: We're talking about . . .

MILES O'BRIEN: Everybody was asking for you.


MILES O'BRIEN: Everybody. Hey, she owes me $100. What's the deal with her?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Hey, hey, hey, no maligning my good name.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: We are talking this morning about the president. As you know, he is leaving for another trip. He's going to Asia this time. On the way, he's going to stop and speak in Alaska and he's expected to, once again, answer critics on how he handled pre-war intelligence. Dan Bartlett is a counselor to the president. He's at the White House this morning.

Dan, good morning. Always nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: The president's remarks on Friday, he sort of threw down the gauntlet, didn't he, on his Veterans Day speech? Let's listen to a little bit of what he had to say.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons program.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Well, actually, there's only one committee in the Senate that's charged with determining if there was misleading and that committee hasn't yet done its work yet, right?

BARTLETT: Well, Soledad, they did an investigation to see if any analysts were pressured, to see if there was any changes made to the intelligence. And the Silverman Rob (ph) Commission, an outside bipartisan investigation, found there was no pressure put on it either. Now the public comments the president made at the time and the administration made at the time were very, very similar to the comments made not only by Democrats in the House and Senate, but also by the Clinton administration. So every step of the way, there has been no evidence whatsoever that the president deliberately misled the American people. And the fact that Democrats are willing to advance this type of argument I think shows a deeply irresponsible behavior.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: I'm going to stop you right there because actually the jury's not in yet. The Silverman Rob Commission, which you mentioned, actually they said very explicitly that it wasn't their job to determine the scope of that investigation that you mentioned. No misleading. That was not the job of that commission. It's stated in the report. So they're still waiting for the select committee on intelligence to come back with their report is really where it stands.

BARTLETT: Well, Soledad, what they want to look at, and what the Senate Intelligence Committee is going to look at, is the public comments the president and the administration and members of Congress made during the run-up to the war. Everybody can look at those comments now and understand that while the intelligence was wrong, it was not based on a willful manipulation or misrepresentation of those facts. And if you look at the identical comments of what President Bush has said and compare them to, let's say, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, who said that Iraq was an eminent threat, that they had nuclear weapons, that's the type of rhetoric and the type of statements that the administration was making as well because we all thought that to be true.

That's not to say that somebody misled. It was the fact that the intelligence was wrong. That's a critical difference. And they know it. And the fact that they're trying to level these charges without the facts demonstrates the type of politics they are playing at this important juncture in the war on terror.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about how all of this is coming or filtering down to the American public. Fifty-three percent of the people polled believe that the Bush administration deliberately tried to mislead the public on weapons of mass destruction. How big of a problem is this for you? BARTLETT: Well, this is the very point why President Bush spoke out on Friday. The Democratic Party and their liberal interest groups, outside interest groups, have spent millions upon millions of dollars advancing this false attack. And it's critically important that the record be clear to the American people, and that's why President Bush felt obligated, and other members of the administration will going forward, of setting the record straight. Because the issues are too important, Soledad, that we're focused on right now. The violence in Iraq. What we're doing to train Iraqi security forces. The nature of the enemy we face. We've seen it so brutally in Jordan in the past week. Those are the type of issues we should be talking about, not about advancing some political agenda by Democrats in left wing organizations who want to claim the president lied to the American people when they know he didn't.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: The implications could be huge across the nation. I mean, I'm sure you read what Doug Forrester had to say to "The Star-Ledger" of Newark. He, of course, was running for governor. He lost and he said this. "If Bush's numbers were where they were a year ago, or even six months ago, I think we would have won on Tuesday."

I mean, he's basically saying, I lost because the president has lack of support.

BARTLETT: Well, there's a lot of reasons why he lost. Mainly because it's a Democratic stronghold, New Jersey is. Everybody knows that. This is an issue or a campaign that was focused on state and local issues and Doug Forrester put up a good fight. We tried to help as much as we could. But at the end of the day, like I said, it's a Democratic state and it shouldn't be surprising to anybody that a Democrat won it.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: The president's approval rating is 36 percent, an all-time low for the president as he heads on another international trip, Latin American trip. Not so successful. No deal really accomplished. Lots of protesting. We saw that videotape certainly. How much of an impact are problems domestically for the president affecting his ability to get things done overseas?

BARTLETT: Well, Soledad, as you know, every international summit or discussion is met with protest, regardless of the leader or regardless of the poll numbers. We did accomplish a lot in Latin America and President Bush hopes to accomplish a lot in Asia.

There are a lot of critical issues facing the American people. He will go over to Asia representing the economic interest of the American worker and entrepreneur, meeting with key leaders in the pacific region there, including China, to talk about how they need to do more to open up their markets and enforce intellectual property rights for two examples. So there are a lot there's a lot on the table and President Bush, when he meets with the leaders, they're not talking poll numbers, they're talking ideas and common objectives. And that's what will happen in the coming days.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: The president heads off on the trip in just a little bit. Dan Bartlett is a counselor to the president.

Dan, thanks. Always nice to see you.

BARTLETT: Thanks for having me.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: My pleasure.

Let's get a look at some of the other stories making news. Carol has that.

Good morning.


Good morning to you.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem. We just got these pictures in this morning, actually. Let's take a look. Secretary Rice says an agreement is in sight between the Israelis and the Palestinians on easing restrictions at Gaza border crossings. Earlier, Rice met with the Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton getting a firsthand look of the bombed out ballroom of a hotel in Jordan. The Clintons, along with their daughter Chelsea, interrupted a trip to Israel on Sunday to travel to Amman. The former president says the visit is to express sympathy for the victims and show solidarity in fighting terrorism. Jordanian authorities say al Qaeda in Iraq is to blame for last week's attack on three hotels.

A mother and father are dead. Their 14-year-old daughter is missing. The suspect, her 18-year-old boyfriend. Police in Pennsylvania are now trying to figure out if the girl is a hostage or not. The Borden's were found shot to death on Sunday morning. Their nine-year-old son ran to tell neighbors his mom and dad had been shot and then neighbors called 911. Police are now searching now for 18- year-old David Ludwig. There you see a picture of him. Also an Amber Alert has been issued for 14-year-old Kara Beth Borden.

In Iowa they're already starting to clean up after a series of tornadoes ripped through two towns. Take a look at these pictures. These were taken in Woodward, a county north of Des Moines. The winds said to be up to 150 miles per hour. Ripped through dozens of farms and homes. At just look at the destruction left behind. At least one person killed here. Iowa's governor is making funds available to those areas affected.

And two weeks to go before hurricane season officially ends but it seems mother nature, oh, she's not going out without a fight. There is a new tropical depression in the southeastern Caribbean. The 27th one this year. It could become Tropical Storm Gamma later today. But let's check with the expert. Bonnie Schneider is at the CNN Center.

Tell us about it, Bonnie. (WEATHER REPORT)

MILES O'BRIEN: Coming up in the program, an update on that cell phone bandit, including some new details on what she might have been saying on the phone. It wasn't very profound stuff. Stuff like, uh- huh and so forth. But, anyway, it's yet another clue.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: They caught her, maybe?

MILES O'BRIEN: They caught somebody but she didn't have a cell phone and they don't think it's her but, you know, we'll sort that out too. So stay with us.


MILES O'BRIEN: All right, you've seen the pictures now. Surveillance video. Rather clear surveillance video, we might note. If I knew this person, you would be able to identify her, right? Anyway, she's robbed four banks in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. over the past month. All of them Wachovia's, as a matter of fact, with the cell phone affixed to her ear the entire time saying things like yep, right, uh-huh, that sort of thing. Joining us now is Mary Ann Jennings. She is the director of public information for the police department in Fairfax County, Virginia, where they're working on this case.

Good to have us with us, Mary Ann.


MILES O'BRIEN: Are you close to arresting her?

JENNINGS: Well, we're a lot closer than we were on Friday, Miles. We can now you can now put a name under that picture every time you show it from now on.

MILES O'BRIEN: And the name is?

JENNINGS: The name is Candice Rose Martinez. She's 19 years old. And we just identified her over the weekend. We do not have her in custody but both Fairfax County and Loudoun County have arrest warrant for charging her with bank robbery. So we're anxious to get our hands on her and place her under arrest.

MILES O'BRIEN: How did you identify her?

JENNINGS: Through the calls that we got beginning on, let's see, Friday, Saturday. They came in consistently. We got several dozen calls. And we were able to identify her and we were able to find some evidence that . . .

MILES O'BRIEN: People out there saw her and . . .

JENNINGS: Oh, yes.

MILES O'BRIEN: And it was quite obvious to them who she was?

JENNINGS: Oh, yes.

MILES O'BRIEN: And maybe used a cell phone to call you up. Who knows?

JENNINGS: Who knows.

MILES O'BRIEN: Yes. Based on that name, does she have any prior record, any sort of history with police?

JENNINGS: I can't talk about prior history. That's part of our law in Virginia that I really can't go into any history. I can tell you that she hasn't apparently been in our area a very long time. She comes from New Mexico, I believe. But she has been in our area just long enough, obviously, to rob four banks.

MILES O'BRIEN: And she was saying stuff like uh-huh on the phone. That was pretty much it. What can you tell us about what she's been saying?

JENNINGS: I really haven't talked to our investigators about that. I've been more interested in finding out who she is and how we were going to catch her. And also to talk to all of the reporters who have been kind enough to try to give us some publicity on this and try to get her picture out locally and across the country.

MILES O'BRIEN: All right. Do you think there's really someone at the other end of the line here, or is this part of some effort to be nonchalant and sneak your way up to the teller without causing any great alarm?

JENNINGS: We don't know. As far as I can tell from talking to our investigators, and I've talked to them all weekend continuously, so I don't know that we're sure about that yet. We are investigating it still and we have a lot more t's to cross and i's to dot but we're going to get her.

MILES O'BRIEN: About how much money has she gotten away with so far?

JENNINGS: I have no idea. That's something we don't go into.

MILES O'BRIEN: Oh really?

JENNINGS: In any robberies, we don't give a dollar amount.

MILES O'BRIEN: OK. So with a name, it's probably just a matter of time, you think, before she'll turn up or it's possible she could have fled the area I suppose?

JENNINGS: We're hoping now that she knows we know who she is, that she will go ahead and call us and turn herself in because it's only a matter of time now that we know who she is. It's only a matter of time until we find her.

MILES O'BRIEN: Well, we certainly know she has a phone.

JENNINGS: Yes, we do. She can call us.

MILES O'BRIEN: Hopefully she'll start mashing some digits and give you a call. We hope that works out.

Mary Ann Jennings who is with the Fairfax County Police Department. We wish you well finding her.

JENNINGS: Thank you.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Maybe she's just a 19-year-old with a phone, you know, knocking over a bank.

Ahead this morning, the airline industry is on the verge of what could be another crippling strike. Andy's "Minding Your Business." That's coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Oh, it's going to be a tough week ahead for Delta Airlines. Andy's "Minding Your Business" with more on that.

What's going on?

ANDY SERWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wednesday, Soledad, Judge Prudence Carter Beatty here in New York City will have a hearing where she will determine whether or not bankrupt Delta Airlines can void its contract with its pilots. Six thousand pilots. And here are the numbers. And there's a big difference.

The airline wants to cut $325 million out of their contract. The pilots have agreed to give up $90 million. So you can see there is a huge gap there. And, of course, the pilots have already cut back in '04. And this is a company that is facing a major showdown.

One big question is whether or not the pilots will be allowed to strike. A bankruptcy expert in New York City says he think they would. And, in fact, if not, I think there's a new form of slavery in the United States. Interesting line there. I thought . . .

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Oh, we know what side he's on.

SERWER: Yes, exactly. And these pilots are very distraught at this point and this could be a very big showdown.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Now, does any of that do you think, at this point, considering all the bad news that Delta's given, has an impact on the market?

SERWER: Well, you know, right now, I would say not because this is all sort of stuff that is known. And, in fact, the stock market has been doing rather well lately. We'll actually take a look back and see. We had a banner week ending last Friday, Soledad. That would be 204 points on the Dow. You can see, up 1.5 percent. Falling oil prices falling, falling gasoline prices having everything to do with that. And this morning, though, we may be taking a bit of a breather at the open. Futures are flat to down.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Andy, thank you.

SERWER: You're welcome.

MILES O'BRIEN: I've got to say, it makes me think of Eastern Airlines. You know, when they're on the ropes and the strikes.

SERWER: Yes and that can end the whole thing.

MILES O'BRIEN: It really can. It's a terribly sad situation.

All right. The season is over for Nascar, but the bad boy of Nascar, Kurt Busch, had a little run-in with the law. Steve Overmyer with his story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down. Here's Gordon to the outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not making it easy.


STEVE OVERMYER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Kurt Busch is well known for his run-ins on the track. But an encounter with the police on the street earned him a suspension. Police say Busch ran a stop sign and had to swerve to avoid hitting another car. The defending series champion was taken into custody on suspension of drunk driving but he was only cited for reckless driving.

SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: He was going 15 miles over the speed limit. He went through a stop sign. And he almost went on the other side of the street. This guy came to this colony, insulted my deputies, called them wimps and everything else and he was driving recklessly.

OVERMYER: But if he was aggressive last night, he was calm when responding to NBC's pre-race show.

KURT BUSCH: You know, what's important here is this is not alcohol-related. You know, I made the situation worse by saying some things I regret. And that's where it's brought us to today. And I'm sorry for what happened.

OVERMYER: Hostility is a description not uncommon to Busch, who was in a fist fight with fellow driver Jimmy Spencer two years ago. In May, Nascar officials say Busch was verbally abusive to race officials over his radio. He apologized but was penalized for throwing a water bottle at an official.

MARTY SNYDER, NBC/TNT NASCAR PIT REPORTER: I think his persona on the track is one of the best drivers out there. I mean certainly a terrific driver and a driver who can wheel a car better than most anybody out here. You know, and I think Kurt is a volatile person and can sometimes that anger can come through. Sometimes on the racetrack, sometimes off the racetrack.

OVERMYER: But fans may be getting their fill of his behavior. When he won the championship last year, Busch was booed.

Steve Overmyer, CNN Sports, Atlanta.


MILES O'BRIEN: Apparently he's taking a break. He's taking a vacation with Terrell Owens.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: The old, why don't you just not come back, vacation.

MILES O'BRIEN: The two of them are going off, going to do a buddy movie. But I should point out to our viewers that after we tossed to the taped package, Soledad said, the Nascar season is not over, Miles, you miss spoke.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Hello, Miss Nascar.

MILES O'BRIEN: Because you are a huge Nascar . . .

SERWER: A big fan.

MILES O'BRIEN: Total motor head here.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: That's right. That's right. That's me.

MILES O'BRIEN: Yes. Now Busch ranks eighth in the of course, you know that because you follow it assiduously, right?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Absolutely. Yes. Eight. His brother.

MILES O'BRIEN: And his brother, Kyle Busch. Did what? If the prompter will go up I'll know. He ended up winning some race. I don't know.

SERWER: Don't ask her about Dale Earnhardt, OK, we don't want to go to deep here.

MILES O'BRIEN: All right. Let's press on.

We're talking now about FEMA.


MILES O'BRIEN: The opposite of things moving fast, we go to FEMA where things move like molasses. FEMA got a lot of flack on how it handled Hurricane Katrina, as you know. Well now it's getting sued. Class action lawsuit. One of the hurricane victims behind the case will join us ahead on the program.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, the very latest on the Senate probe into pre-war intelligence. Was anyone pressured into manipulating it? That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us. We're back in a moment.


MILES O'BRIEN: A stunning confession from a 35-year-old Iraqi wife. Part of the Jordan terror attacks says she wore a bomb that don't go off. Why did al Qaeda use her. Could she lead investigators to other terrorists? A live report is ahead.

A manhunt underway after a double murder in Pennsylvania. Two teens on the run. One believed to be the killer. The other his 14- year-old girlfriend. Possibly a hostage. Details straight ahead.

And as close as you can or want to get to a powerful tornado and lived to tell the tale, that is. Amazing pictures of a late season twister on this AMERICAN MORNING.