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American Morning

Air Marshal Shooting; Democrats on War; Minding Your Business; Grammy Awards

Aired December 08, 2005 - 07:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: You're watching AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Miles. Soledad is off. Here's Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm sure she's bundled up somewhere because it's mighty cold outside. In fact, in parts of the country, single digits.

O'BRIEN: Single digits. Sometimes single digits on the minus side of the zero. That is not a good place to be. Let's get the -- right to the weather, as a matter of fact. Denver is close to setting records for cold temperatures out there. Of course in Denver, it probably will be 80 degrees tomorrow. You know, the weather there is just . . .

COSTELLO: So strange.

O'BRIEN: If you don't like it, just wait a minute. Some areas could see, get this, 37 degrees below zero today. That's not one of those phony windchill numbers. That's a real number. The bitter cold is quickly moving east as well. Snow that's hitting parts of the Midwest today could be in eastern cities as early as tonight. In some places, the snow is already here. This is Syracuse, New York. A normal December day, right? School shut down. Drivers having a lot of trouble, however.

Bonnie Schneider at the CNN Weather Center.


COSTELLO: Let's head over to Kelly an check on the headlines.

Good morning.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Carol, and, hello, everyone.

We're beginning with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who is getting a warm reception in Belgium today. The NATO chief there says Secretary Rice has "cleared the air over allegations of torture and secret prisons." That's a welcome change for the secretary. She has spent the last several days in Europe defending U.S. policy when it comes to the treatment terror suspects.


JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: I think it was good discussion. I think it cleared the air. I think Secretary Rice has made a strong intervention and it was in the framework of the political dialog. We planned an (INAUDIBLE) dialog. We also value, I think quite logic and natural, that this subject was discussed at the dinner yesterday.


WALLACE: And Secretary Rice took the podium just moments ago. We'll have much more on today's proceedings coming up later here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Turning now to Iraq. A massive bombing on a bus in Southern Baghdad. This all happened just about four hours ago. The bus was leaving one of Baghdad's biggest bus stations. Iraqi police say at least 30 people were killed, 25 others wounded. And this blast coming just one week before Iraq is set to hold parliamentary elections.

Today may be crips founder Stanley "Tookie" Williams' last chance for clemency. His lawyers have a private hearing with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this morning. Williams was convicted of murdering four people back in 1978. If he's not granted clemency, he is set to be executed next week. His lawyers plan to argue his life should be spared because he now teaches gang members to pursue peace and not violence.

And Beetles fans around the world are in mourning today. On this day, believe it or not, 25 years ago John Lennon was shot to death in New York City. And here's a look now, a live look, at Strawberry Fields in New York's Central Park, just a short distance from where Lennon was shot. Fans are expected to gather there later today to mark this tragic anniversary. John Lennon was killed while walking with his wife, Yoko Ono, outside their apartment building. He would have been 65 years old.

Miles and Carol, I remember I was in Brooklyn, packed with all my friends on a bus, and we headed to the Dakota apartment building.

O'BRIEN: Did you really?


O'BRIEN: You were there?

WALLACE: I was there.

O'BRIEN: Wow. Felt like the thing to do, I guess.

WALLACE: I think it did. I mean, I was very young then, I might add, but . . .

O'BRIEN: Yes. Well, must have been about three.

WALLACE: Yes. No, no, no. But it was something that people just all came together and wanted to be there for that moment.

O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much, Kelly.

As we've been telling you, for the first time in U.S. history, an air marshal has discharged his weapon in the line of duty. And a person who did not have any bomb or any threat to an airliner, is now dead. Lots of questions this morning about that whole incident. Dave Adams is a spokesman for the Federal Air Marshals.

Mr. Adams, good to have you with us.


O'BRIEN: I'd like to pick right up off of our previous interview that Carol did with a couple of passengers. I don't know if you had a chance to see that. Let's share just a brief excerpt with our viewers. This is Mary Gardner (ph), who was a passenger on the plane. And basically what she's saying is, that this thing unfolded over a little more time than we first thought. Let's listen in.


MARY GARDNER: I had seen him before we boarded the plane. They were definitely suspicious. The lady, the wife, had received a phone call right before we went on the air -- I mean right on the airline and she was frantic. She was nervous. And we knew there was something going on back in the cabin and apparently they had an uproar, they had a fight, and there was some sort of energy happening.


O'BRIEN: All right. So everybody on that plane thought this couple was suspicious. The air marshals didn't do anything about it?

ADAMS: Well, Miles, it was brought to our attention when the gentleman started running down the aisle saying he had a bomb in his bag. The air marshals then proceeded . . .

O'BRIEN: No, no, no. I'm -- just backing up. Everybody on that plane, Mary, everybody was praying, wondering what was going on, asking the pilots what's the deal with this guy. The pilot said, don't worry, we have air marshals on board. And the air marshals waited until he started running down the aisle. Wouldn't it be procedure to ask these people a few questions? How does that go?

ADAMS: No. Certainly we don't want to -- this might have been a ruse. We don't want to bring them out of their cover aboard the aircraft until there's actually a threat to the passengers and crew. So the airline flight attendants are trained to handle situations like this and we'll let the airlines handle a situation until it becomes necessary for us to gauge.

O'BRIEN: Well, so . . .

ADAMS: And we engaged at the time when the guy started running down the aisle saying he had a bomb in his bag. At that point, there was a definite threat to the passengers and the aircraft.

O'BRIEN: So the concern is, in these situations, is blowing the cover and you have to decide when it is appropriate to blow a cover as it were. I suspect there are lots of instances where people get on planes and act strange. I mean, there's a lot of people who fly and there's a lot of people who just get nervous flying, for one thing, or one thing or another leads to that presumption. What are air marshals told to do in those cases?

ADAMS: Well, again, in every case, the air marshals are told to react when appropriately, but it's all based on their training. We have one of the most robust training programs in federal law enforcement, Miles, as you know. After they graduate from the academy, the training continues on at 21 of our field offices across the United States. We have aircraft simulators. They have firearms training. They have first aid training. And this goes on on a daily basis across the United States. This was just a textbook scenario that the federal air marshals reacted to at that time.

O'BRIEN: Yes, and it's -- we know they're the best shots in the business by far. I've got to ask you a question, though, Dave, some people were wondering this morning, why they are not equipped with some nonlethal means of bringing somebody down like a Taser?

ADAMS: Well, there are no Taser allowed aboard the aircrafts in the United States.

O'BRIEN: Why not?

ADAMS: The federal air marshals have -- well, the Federal Air Marshals use a -- they have a -- they use a use of force mechanism as far as escalation of force as far as when you use the deadly force and that's the most excessive use if you have to in a situation. So they try to detain the individual if they can through commands. In this situation here, they asked the gentleman, drop your bag, drop your bag, come to the ground, I'm a federal law enforcement officer, police, drop your bag. He failed to comply with their commands, continued approaching the Federal Air Marshals claiming he had a bomb in his bag and then they ordered him again down to the ground. He didn't. So based on their training, they had to take the appropriate action to diffuse the situation to prevent danger to themselves and also passengers in the terminal.

O'BRIEN: Apparently his wife, who is describing him as manic depressive and not on his medication. Does that lead you to believe that this could have been suicide by cop is the term? In other words, tempting police officers to, in fact, kill the suspect?

ADAMS: Miles, we don't have any indication of this. You know what, the only thing we know is the gentleman claimed he had a bomb in his bag, was reaching into the bag, and we had no way of knowing whether or not it was a detonator in there he was ready to push the button when the Federal Air Marshals were approaching him. Again, this is all based on training and the air marshals acted by textbook on this situation. You can't try to judge a situation. You have to do it by textbook and training and they acted appropriately. O'BRIEN: All right, just a final thought. Are they suspended while this investigation continues as a routine matter?

ADAMS: Well, not suspended. They've been played on administrative leave. Like any law enforcement shooting, they're just going to go through a review process. The Miami-Dade Police Department have the lead on this case. They'll be conducting the investigation, obviously,, in cooperation with the Federal Air Marshal service. And upon completion of this investigation, obviously, lessons learned will be obtained and will be provided to our training division to maybe provide this type of scenario in some of our training if it isn't already there.

O'BRIEN: All right, thanks a lot. Dave Adams is with the Federal Air Marshal service. We appreciate your time.

ADAMS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Coming up in the program, we'll talk with the head of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean. He says the U.S. can't win in Iraq. Does the rest of the party share his views?

COSTELLO: And later, if the housing bubble bursts, homeowners shouldn't be the only ones worried. Andy will tell us why he's "Minding Your Business" this morning.


O'BRIEN: Can the war be won in Iraq? How should the war in Iraq be won? You'll get all kinds of opinions on that particular set of questions and that's just within the Democratic Party. Joining me now is Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who on the radio just the other day, a San Antonio radio station, weighed in on this and caused -- well, sparked additional debate on this subject.

Dr. Dean, good to have you with us.

Let's just share with viewers, just to remind them, because I'm sure they've heard it by now, but just let's share a little excerpt of that interview for just a moment with them.


HOWARD DEAN: I supported this president's war in Afghanistan, but I do not believe in making the same mistake twice. And America appears to have made the same mistake twice. I wish the president had paid more attention to the history of Iraq before we'd gotten in there. The idea that we're going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is just plain wrong.


O'BRIEN: All right. Out of context, you want to recant it or is that how you feel?

HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: No, it was a little out of context. They kind of cherry-picked that one the same way the president cherry- picked the intelligence going into Iraq. We can only win the war, which we have to win, if we change our strategy dramatically. The Democrats are coalescing around a very different strategy. We hope the president will join us.

This is a strategy of strategic redeployment. We want to serve our troops well who are doing a fantastic job in Iraq. And if we want to win the war on terror, we cannot pursue the failed strategy we've pursued for the last three years in Iraq and we've got to start telling truth to the American people about what's happening there. We have a plan to do that and I'd be happy to outline it for you.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Well, let's -- I want to talk about strategic redeployment in just a moment, because that's an interesting notion. It seems like there's some Democrats coalescing around it. But first, I do want to get this notion that there's somehow this sense of pessimism that is at the root of all this. Let's listen to the president for just a moment.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be good days and there will be bad days in this war. I reject the pessimists in Washington that say we can't win this war.


O'BRIEN: All right. Are you a pessimist?

DEAN: The president has said it himself we couldn't win the war. Matt Lauer showed that clip himself. I mean, the truth of the matter is, this president got us into this war without telling us the truth, he didn't listen to his own military advisors. This sounds an awful lot like Vietnam when the government's not truthful with our soldiers, our citizens or our allies. We will be, as Democrats. We can and we have to win the war on terror. We can't do it with this kind of approach, with this leadership that this president's showing. As he's going in the wrong direction, we'll go in the right direction and save soldiers' lives while we're doing it.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's go to the right flank of your own party, Senator Lieberman, and listen to what he has to say about this.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, (D) CONNECTICUT: It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years. And that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril.


O'BRIEN: Do you beg to differ with the senator?

DEAN: I'm not as worried about the president's credibility as I am about the lives of brave American soldiers who are giving their lives and coming back wounded. I'm with Jack Murtha on this. We need a strategic redeployment of our troops. We need to bring the 50,000 guard troops home in the next six months. They don't belong there in the first place. We need a special task force of anti-terror troops stationed in the Middle East because we're going to have to deal with Zarqawi for a long time. We need 20,000 additional troops in Afghanistan, not in Iraq. We need to redeploy our troops and make -- and stop making our troops the target over there.

We can turn this over to the Iraqis. It's time to change our strategy and the Democrats have a strategy, we're supporting a strategy. We believe that talking about the president's failed strategy in Iraq is not unpatriotic. It may undercut the president, but it does not undercut our troops. We're going to save our troops' lives and we're going to learn from the experience of Vietnam and not wait for five years with promises made for political reason here at home. We are for the troops. We're going to stand up for these troops. They deserve better support than what they're getting.

O'BRIEN: All right. Final, quick thought here though. With all the debate within the Democratic Party, you lay out a plan, a strategic redeployment, which seems to be gaining some steam in certain quarts. The American people, though, think the Democrats don't have a plan. Why not?

DEAN: I think that's mostly press gobblygook (ph). The press wants to focus on the differences. The differences are pretty small. Perhaps Senator Lieberman excepted. Most -- not only do most Democrats, most Republican senators now believe that the 2006 has to be a transition year. Even Senator Lieberman voted for that resolution. We need a change in Iraq and we will provide that change in the Democratic Party.

We have a plan that we can coalesce around. We may have some small disagreements on timing. We know the direction we're going on is a very different direction than the president. We want to serve our troops better. We believe they deserve better. We want to serve our people better and we want to win the war on terror and we want to do it smart because we can't do it the way we're doing it now.

O'BRIEN: Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, thanks for your time.

DEAN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Carol.

COSTELLO: Andy's "Minding Your Business" just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

What's up?

ANDY SERWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, what kind of fallout might we expect when the housing bubble bursts? We'll give you an idea coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: Those dire predictions for housing and construction. Boy are they taking a toll on the stock market. Andy is "Minding Your Business" this morning.

So the bubble is about to burst?

SERWER: Well, you know, I think it's unsaleable at this point, Carol, that the housing market is slowing down. Mortgage applications are down. New home construction is down. And houses are staying on the market longer. And so I think we understand that.

But there's a new study out from UCLA which talks about the fallout from the bubble bursting in the housing market and what kind of impact it would have on the economy. It's kind of scary stuff. They're saying that 800,000 jobs might be lost if the bubble really bursts.

And the way they do that is they're kind of talking about, first of all, 500,000 jobs would be in the construction business. But something you don't really think about very often is in the financial sector, 300,000 jobs might be lost there because of mortgage bankers and people who are in that end of the business as well.

Now, you're right, it is hitting the stock market. Yesterday, sad to say, the averages were down. You can see here the Dow was down 45 points and red ink across the board. Housing stocks in particular were hard hit. Look at that. Boy, that's, you know, that's a big drop for a one dayer.


SERWER: And actually, just this morning, Toll Brothers, at the bottom of the list there, which is a luxury homemaker, report in. Now get this. This is interesting. They reported their profits were up 72 percent, but then they're saying that '06 doesn't look good. So, you know, it really looks like it's kind of at the end. In other words, the business is right now peaking, but they're saying it's just not going to continue.

COSTELLO: So maybe it's not so much the bubble's going to burst but things are just readjusting to where they should be?

SERWER: I think that's probably right. We're just unwinding a little bit. I mean things were at such a frenzied pace there for a while, right?

COSTELLO: That sounds so much better than the bubble bursting, doesn't it?


COSTELLO: OK, we'll stick with that.


COSTELLO: Let's talk about the Grammys now. You're into the Grammys, aren't you?

SERWER: I sure am. Yes.

COSTELLO: Of course you are, Andy. Grammy nominations coming out in just about a half hour, but already rapper Kanye West, he's complaining.

SERWER: He complains sometimes.

COSTELLO: He does complain and he does it very loudly. He says he will be very, very angry if he does not win for best album. CNN's Brook Anderson takes a look at the other Grammy hopefuls, starting with a big comeback.


BROOK ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What belongs together? How about Grammy nominations and Mariah Carey. In the comeback story of the year, the pop diva is expected to grab a lion's share of nods for her quadruple platinum album "The Emancipation of Mimi."

MARIAH CAREY, WON TWO GRAMMYS IN 1990: You know what, to me, as a creative person, there's always something left to do. There's always a new mountain to climb.

ANDERSON: Carey's biggest competition, last year's ten-time nominee Kanye West. The controversial hip hop artist delivered his sophomore album "Late Registration" to rave reviews.

KANYE WEST: I would say my chances are pretty good.

ANDERSON: Besides West and Carey, there's record of the year talk for Green Day and Gwen Stefani. And album of the year buzz for Stevie Wonder, Neil Young and perennial favorite U2.

BONO, LEAD SINGER, U2: We so don't want to be, you know, one of those crap bands that, you know, have done their best stuff. We just really would rather be shot in the head.

ANDERSON: For best new artist, the only shoe in appears to be R&B singer John Legend, the ivy league educated protege of Kanye West.

JOHN LEGEND, POSSIBLE NEW ARTIST NOMINEE: It's good to be working together because we push each other.

ANDERSON: Other possible contenders "American Idol" Fantasia and reformed lip sinker Ashlee Simpson.

ASHLEE SIMPSON, MAY GET FIRST GRAMMY NOMINATION: I believe that it's OK to, you know, be a failure sometimes. You can just pick yourself up -- right back up and, you know, keep your chin up and do better.

ANDERSON: Good advice for when those nominations are announced.

Brook Anderson, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Oh, stay tuned too because we will have Grammy favorite Mariah Carey. She'll be joining us live in the next hour and we all can't wait it see what she's wearing.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I'm on the edge of my seat. No, it will be great.

COSTELLO: I am too. She's very cool. I can't wait.

O'BRIEN: Coming up on the program, can't think of what to get mom and dad this Christmas? Well, our on-line gift guide has the perfect gifts for the folks who brought you into this world and can take you out of it if you buy the wrong thing, if you know what I mean. Stay with us for more.