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American Morning

Jury in Moussaoui Trial Will Hear Tapes from United Flight 93 Cockpit Voice Recorder; Vow to Press on in Duke Rape Investigation

Aired April 12, 2006 - 07:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The jury in the Moussaoui trial will hear tapes from the United flight 93 cockpit voice recorder.
A vow to press on in the Duke rape investigation. And now word there could be more DNA tests to come.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Stopping online predators. takes some pretty unusual steps. Does it go far enough, though, to protect your kids? We'll take a look.

And it's graduation day for Prince Harry. We're live in London with more on the next step for the new military officer.

M. O'BRIEN: Plus, risks and reward. Today marks the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle, happened right at this moment, 25 years ago, first shuttle launch. We'll take a look back ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning to you. I'm Miles O'Brien.

S. O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien.

After days of gut wrenching testimony of victims, jurors in the penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui today will hear the cockpit tape from United flight 93, back on 9/11, of course.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve is live for us outside the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.

Hey, Jeanne, good morning.


This is the first time that the cockpit voice recorder from flight 93 will be played publicly, but from those who have already heard it and from other sources, we have already learned a lot about the horrors and heroics of that day.


MESERVE (voice-over): We know how flight 93 ended, the plane in fragments, 44 dead. But the cockpit voice order, or CBR, will shed light on events leading up to the crash. Hamilton Peterson is among the flight 93 family members who have heard the 30-minute tape.

HAMILTON PETERSON, SON OF FLIGHT PASSENGER: At times, it's absolutely clear. At other times, there's background noise.

MESERVE: When flight 93 left Newark Airport on the morning of September 11th, all of the hijackers had seats in first class. Ziad Jarrah, who was a pilot, was in 1B, closest to the cockpit. Ahmed Al Nami (ph), another, was in 3C. Sayeed Algandi (ph) was in 3D, and Ahman Al Hasnawi (ph) was in 6B, but 45 minutes into the flight, three of them left their seats taking over the cockpit. The jury heard the pilots say, "Mayday, get out of here!" in a radio transmission played in court Tuesday.

Another radio transmission captured what is believed to be Jarrah trying to speak to the passengers: "This is the captain. Would like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb onboard."

Herded to the back of the plane, the passengers and crew made phone calls and plans after learning of the World Trade Center attacks. Todd Beamer was speaking to telephone operator Lisa Jefferson.

LISA JEFFERSON, GTE AIRFONE OPERATOR: He said, "OK. Let's roll." That was the last I heard from Todd.

MESERVE: Passengers and crew stormed forward. The hijackers gyrated the plane to try to knock them off their feet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could hear the terrorists. You could hear in the end they were actually the ones who were terrorized.

MESERVE: Though government investigators do not believe passengers and crew ever entered the cockpit, their revolt sent the plane into the ground, rather than what is believed to be its intended target, the U.S. Capitol.

PETERSON: It sends us the message, we cannot exclusively rely upon our police or our military. Every one of us has an individual responsibility and obligation to take action.


MESERVE: Peterson is ecstatic that the tape will be played in public, but worries that the general public, that will only see a transcript, will miss the lesson. The lesson, he says, is that good can triumph over evil.

Soledad, back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Jeanne, the judge has expressed concern that with all of this emotional testimony, you're really potentially setting up grounds for an appeal.

MESERVE: That's right. She spoke to the prosecution on Monday, warning them that they were on shaky ground. She said that all of this evidence could be prejudicial, and urged them to exercise some restraint. The prosecution said that it would, that it was limiting the number of pictures, for instance, that it was using for each piece of victim testimony. They'll be wrapping up that case today -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Jeanne Meserve for us this morning in Alexandria, Virginia -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Iran defied the world and ratcheted up the threat. Teheran today saying it will begin moving toward large-scale enrichment of uranium fuel that could be used for atomic weapons. Washington is demanding Iran stop its nuclear problem.

Ed Henry live now from the White House with more on this.

Ed, this is obviously being taken very seriously by the administration. What are their options?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mantra from the White House, Miles, is basically Iran has gone in the wrong direction, choosing the path of defiance instead of cooperation, and it needs to reconsider, but since Iran is showing no signs of actually changing course, and given these explosive allegation just this week in "The New Yorker" magazine, the White House is considering nuclear strikes to deal with Iran, The obvious Next question is, are we headed for war? Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the talk of war yesterday by basically calling it fantasyland speculation, and he repeated the administration line that they think diplomacy can solve this.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECY. OF DEFENSE: It's a country that supports terrorists. It's a country that has indicated an interest in having weapons of mass destruction. So obviously, the president has indicated his concern about the country. But it is just simply not useful to get into fantasyland.


HENRY: Now the good news is that basically nuclear experts say that Iran is still far from actually obtaining nuclear weapons, and this could be solved through diplomatic means.

But of course bad news is there has always been a question mark hanging over this president about whether or not diplomacy is his strong suit. He's seen his credibility potentially further eroded by facts on the ground in Iraq. Of course, negative developments here in the United States in the CIA leak case. So this is going to be no easy diplomatic mission -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, no easy diplomatic mission, but no easy military options either, right?

HENRY: Absolutely. If diplomacy fails, presidential experts like David Gergen point out that it will be difficult for Mr. Bush to make the case for war in Iran, given the fact that there's still the lingering questions about the case for war in Iraq.

And secondly, as you know, the U.S. military already stretched thin over the war in Iraq. A lot of questions about whether or not they could actually handle a second simultaneous war -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Ed Henry. Speaking of Iraq, new information suggesting the White House may have misrepresented intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in that country. There's a report in "The Washington Post" today that says mobile labs found after the war were not weapons factories, and the administration knew it. President Bush declared the two trailers proof of Iraq's intentions, however. The "Post" reports two days prior he made those assertions, that intelligence report had determined that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: A little bit of Movement to tell you about on immigration this morning. Republican leaders, Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert, are backing off provisions in their bills that would make illegal immigration a felony. That's been a big complaint of both Democrats and protesters in the streets, as well.

And despite an apparent lack of DNA evidence, the rape case against Duke University's lacrosse players may be far from over.

CNN's Amanda Rosseter is live for us at Duke University in Durham this morning.

Hey, Amanda, good morning.


After Monday's announcement that none of the DNA evidence taken from 46 of the 47 lacrosse players was a match, the defense hoped this case would go away.

But Tuesday, it took another turn.



ROSSETER (voice-over): Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong says he will continue to pursue sexual assault allegations against members of the Duke lacrosse team, despite the lack of DNA evidence.

NIFONG: For most of the years I've been doing this, we didn't have DNA. We dealt with sexual assault cases the good old-fashioned way -- witnesses got on the stand and told telling what happened to them.

ROSSETER: The announcement came on the campus of North Carolina Central University, where the alleged victim student. Classmates there held a healing forum, and expressed their concern over the way she's being portrayed.

SHAWN CUNNINGHAM NCCU STUDENT: Anyone that would take the position this is her fault, shame on you.

ROSSETER: Family members of the alleged victim are also speaking out on her behalf, including her cousin, who did not want to be identified.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're portraying her as this, you know, jezebel that, you know -- and that seems to be the thing, it goes from stripper to escort to back to stripper. She's a human being. She's a very sweet girl, very humble, you know. She's very quiet. And she loves her kids.

ROSSETER: The D.A. insists the absence of DNA evidence does not mean there was no crime.

NIFONG: I hope that you will understand by the fact that I am here this morning that my presence here means that is this case is not going away.



ROSSETER: The grand jury will meet next week here, and Mike Nifong is expected to take his case to it -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: And a quick question for you, the D.A., to add another wrinkle to all of this, the D.A. is up for re-election, how is that affecting case?

ROSSETER: That's right, Mike Nifong is up for re-election this year, and maybe believe that he is playing a political card in this campaign. In fact, there's a candidate's forum here in town tonight at the Durham courthouse. All three candidates will be in attendance, it's open to the public, and you expect this case will be one of the key issues -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Amanda Rosseter this morning for us. Amanda, thanks.

Coming up in the next hour, we're going to get reaction to those Duke rape allegations from two students, student body president and also a senior at North Carolina Central University, which of course is where the alleged victim attends school.


M. O'BRIEN: NASA today marking the 25th anniversary of the first space shuttle flight. As a matter of fact, this time, 25 years ago, Commander John young And pilot Bob Trippen (ph) just arriving in low- Earth orbit. The space shuttle Columbia having defied the odds really and made it to space, two million parts, the first manned mission that didn't have an unmanned dry run as its first flight. The first manned mission without a crew escape system that was really considered viable, the first time human beings flew on solid rocket boosters. All kinds of ifs. And they pulled it off, ushering the way into the space shuttle program as we know it now. And of course Columbia was destroyed in 2003, falling foam having hit the leading the edge of the wing, paving the way for the retirement of the space shuttle program, which will happen in about four years. But today a big day in space.

S. O'BRIEN: A big anniversary.

We're hearing a lot about the dangers of online predators lately. Coming up this morning, we're going to tell you how one very popular Web site is taking some steps extra to help kids keep children safe, but not everybody is convinced that they're actually going far enough. We're going to talk about that.

M. O'BRIEN: We'll also talk you to the New York International Auto Show. We'll get a sneak peek at some of the cool cars on display there.

S. O'BRIEN: And a very proud day for the royal family. We're going to take you live to the U.K. for Prince Harry's graduation.

Stay with us. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: Britain's Prince Harry is making headlines for being in bars again. No, it's not what you think. This time the bars are on his shoulders, as a soldier. He makes second lieutenant today, or maybe leftenant, we're not sure. The whole royal family is there to watch, and so are we, of course. And so is Paula Newton, who is at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England.

Paula, I looked it up. I think leftenant in the British navy. Do you know?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leftenant, lieutenant, tomato, tomato, are we really going to start this today, Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Let's call the whole thing off. All right.

NEWTON: Let's just call it off, OK.0

O'BRIEN: All right, why don't you tell us about the pageantry. If nothing else, they do pageantry well there, don't they?

NEWTON: They do. My favorite part of the ceremony is when the horse goes in behind, the last guy in, shall we say, and he actually goes into the hall, the ceremony is over. They've gone in for lunch. This was, as you say, Prince Harry graduating, and his grandmother, the queen, addressed certainly the cadets that were graduating. She didn't point out Prince Harry specifically, but she said to all of them that to serve is to lead, and she did point out that just maybe even within weeks, that some of these cadets now who are officers will find themselves in conflict zones.

But you know, it's got to be interesting. This is the royal family coming of age certainly, as the queen, and the Duke of Edinburgh, and Prince Charles and Camilla very proud of Prince Harry, but they've all got to be taking a big deep, breath, too, because this does mean that the princes, both Prince William and Prince Harry, will be starting a new point in their lives, something that will see them in much greater roles of responsibility -- Miles. M. O'BRIEN: Hey, let me as you this, Paula, would the queen normally attend this, or was she just there because she had a familial connection?

NEWTON: No, it is called the sovereign's parade, and normally, you know, someone, either she or one of her representatives would attend. She hasn't been to one here in about 15 years, but she's been four to four or five in her past reign, so it's not, as we say, uncommon, but certainly a big honor for the other officers here that she is here.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, she picked the right one to attend clearly, even though she didn't make the direct reference to her grandson.

HARRY: She may...

M. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you this, Prince Harry, is he volunteering for combat duty? Could he go to Iraq, for example?

HARRY: I'll quote it again, because its a great quote. According to him, "I didn't go through Sandhurst here....

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, I think we lost our satellite feed there. So much for that. We'll get back to Paula Newton.

I think what she said....

S. O'BRIEN: I know the quote, yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Something not to sit on my...

S. O'BRIEN ... my rear end.

M. O'BRIEN: I think he said arse, didn't he? Is that royal to say arse?

S. O'BRIEN: Probably not.

M. O'BRIEN: It's more like Doolittle? What was it, Lila Doolittle.

S. O'BRIEN: Liza.

M. O'BRIEN: Liza Doolittle.

S. O'BRIEN: Too early for referencing to literature this morning.

Hey, I want to tell you about an investment strategy that really paid off. This morning, Andy Serwer has the morning of a 63-year-old retired seamstress from Croatia who made a cool $2 million bucks in the stock market.

M. O'BRIEN: Really?

S. O'BRIEN: How did she do it? Andy's "Minding Your Business" just ahead.

And then later...

M. O'BRIEN: Twenty-fifth anniversary of the first-ever space shuttle launch. We're about 18 minutes into the flight 25 years ago at this point. We're going to hear from the two living legends who strapped themselves to that rocket on that day and pulled it off.

Stay with us for more AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: An update on a story we told you about last week, a report from the FDA that cancer-causing benzene was found in some diet sodas. The report said, not a health risk. Some parents, though, have filed a lawsuit.

Let's get right to Carol Costello. She's in the newsroom this morning.

Hey, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, maybe you can understand this. If you have kids, you want them to drink what is absolutely safe. Now two class-action suits have been filed against Cola companies, one in Massachusetts and one in Florida, and the parents say these companies just are not taking enough steps to keep the benzene out of colas.

The Massachusetts parents who filed suit is named Tim Newell. He's a preschool teacher. He has two children. He's filed suit specifically against Zone Brands, which produces BellyWasher drinks, and Polar Diet Dry. Now maybe you know benzene is linked to Leukemia. And Newell says he and the kids should not be exposed.


TIMOTY NEWELL, PLAINTIFF IN BENZENE CLASS ACTION SUIT: You look at the ingredients and there's a benzoate in it, a sodium benzoate and excorbic (ph) acid, and there could very well be a problem.


COSTELLO: He mentioned those two chemicals. When those two chemicals combine under certain conditions. In fact, the cola has to be on the shelf a very long time, and it has to be exposed to heat, those chemicals can form Benzene.

Well, Ralph Crowley Jr. of Polar Beverages said his company did this series of lab tests, and they put them under these extreme conditions, 110 degrees, and nothing happened.

He said specifically, "The Lab tested Diet Orange Dry for 14 days, heating it to 110 degrees, and it still came back now with benzoate." Or benzene.

Now, the FDA is investigating, but so far, Soledad, it says these aren't -- these sodas are not dangerous for your kids to drink, but you know, with two class action suits already filed, perhaps we can expect more.

S. O'BRIEN: One would imagine certainly, Carol, you're right. You know, no matter what, it's a Sort of a scary thing to hear about, even if the actual results aren't quite in.

Thanks, Carol.


M. O'BRIEN: Well, you could call this a playground for grownups. The New York Auto Show. Queue the Beatles. Looking at -- check out this thing. It's that we're talked about, Michael? Is that it? That's the 2006 BMW 6 series, 650i, doesn't look like a convertible. This is a coupe. MSRP -- $78,000, excluding taxes, title and dealer prep.

SERWER: You do that very well.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow.

S. O'BRIEN: Very nice.

M. O'BRIEN: Six speed manual or automatic, and a cool 360 horses under the engine. It's got a 4.8 liter V-8.

S. O'BRIEN: There's the convertible.

M. O'BRIEN: It's got 32 valves. There's the -- oh my God, that's a beautiful thing. I like that color. I wonder if we can get that over just over for research purposes, just to try it out a little bit.

S. O'BRIEN: Ther've been journalists who've done that, you know, and I think they got fired.

M. O'BRIEN: And they are no longer employed.

The only place you can do that is like, you know, "Motor Trend," where you go out and you just drive a new car every day if you want.

S. O'BRIEN: yes. And that's not here.


M. O'BRIEN: Top stories after the break.