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American Morning

CIA Leak Investigation; Duke Rape Investigation; Italy's Contested Vote

Aired April 12, 2006 - 06:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, an extradition decision is expected today in a major security case involving U.S. military computers. We're live in London with the very latest on that story.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bob Franken in Washington, where the CIA leak special prosecutor has issued a letter of clarification. We'll try and clarify coming up.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN ROME BUREAU CHIEF: I'm Alessio Vinci in Rome, where the president -- the election for the prime minister is looking a lot like the U.S. presidential election in Florida in 2000. I'll explain why coming up.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And the district attorney vows to press on with that Duke rape investigation. But does he have a case without a DNA link?

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

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

The man who was at the center of the CIA leak investigation, Scooter Libby, is expected today to reply to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's bombshell that the president ordered the declassification of some prewar intelligence.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken live in Washington.

Hey, Bob. Good morning.

FRANKEN: Good morning.

We tried to find out what would be in that motion and we were told they don't know yet. They haven't finished writing it. We're told that it will contain some news when it is filed sometime before 5:00 p.m. Eastern today.

It's a response, as you pointed out, to the motion from the special prosecutor last week, which was a response to the original defense motion. All of this is an argument over whether to compel the release to the defense of a huge amount of classified material -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Bob, let me ask you a question. Patrick Fitzgerald has now made a little correction. He just filed this correction.

What exactly is the correction that he's made to the originally filing? And what does it mean?

FRANKEN: OK. Let me read to you from his letter to the judge.

He is correcting a sentence which reads, "Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller" -- meaning Judy Miller of "The New York Times" -- "among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was vigorously trying to procure uranium. That should read, 'Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, some of the key judgments of the NIE and that the NIE stated that Iraq was vigorously trying to procure uranium.'"

It sort of touches your heart, doesn't it?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. So it sounds -- well, they both sound close. What does it mean?

FRANKEN: Let's start -- the NIE is the national intelligence estimate that the special prosecutor says the president allowed to be declassified. That's usually a very highly secret document.

Key judgments are not just words. They are the bullet points, they are the conclusions that are reached in an NIE. And the original letter from the special prosecutor made it sound like Scooter Libby was to go out and lie, because the document did not really say that that was a key judgment, that there was a procurement of uranium effort, only that it had been discussed. As a matter of fact, it was ultimately rejected.

So I hope that clears things up.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, man. Well, kind of. Kind of sort of, not really.

All right. Bob Franken, we're going to obviously watch what happens there. Thank you -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: The district attorney in Durham, North Carolina, says he's not dropping the investigation into those lacrosse players accused of rape. Matter of fact, he says more test will be conducted. Attorneys for the players are surprised to hear that. They insist the DNA evidence does not link their clients to a woman accusing them of rape.

We get more now from CNN's Amanda Rosseter in Durham.


AMANDA ROSSETER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here on the campus of Duke University today begins a waiting game following Monday's announcement that none of the DNA evidence gathered from 46 lacrosse players is a match. And Tuesday's announcement from the local D.A., Mike Nifong, that despite the lack of a match, he will pursue this. Nifong says he can go after this case without DNA evidence the old-fashioned way, based on evidence obtained in a hospital interview with the alleged victim.

Now, tensions are high here in Durham on both campuses, both Duke University and NCCU, North Carolina Central University, where the alleged victim is a student. Now, both campuses, both student bodies playing the waiting game, waiting to see what the district attorney here is going to do next in this case.

Amanda Rosseter, CNN, Durham, North Carolina.


M. O'BRIEN: Now, the D.A. says the lack of DNA link does not necessarily mean there was no crime, that nothing happened to the 27- year-old mother of two. This is what her cousin had to say about the situation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

I believe something happened in that house. I really do believe that, because I -- because knowing her, I know that this is not something she would have made up.

Literally, she's fighting for her life. She has literally had death threats against her, against her children. She can't even go to her mother's house because the media, they're waiting like wolves.


M. O'BRIEN: Now, the woman's cousin was shot in silhouette in that interview to protect her identity and the identity of the family -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, Italy in 2006 is beginning to look a lot like America back in 2000. Out of millions of votes cast, only a handful separate the two candidates for prime minister. And the current prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is refusing to admit defeat.

CNN's Alessio Vinci is live for us in Rome.

Alessio, so what's happening in the country?

VINCI: What's happening is that Romano Prodi, who is Berlusconi's challenger, won the election. He controls now both houses of parliament. But in the lower house, he only has a very narrow margin of victory, 25,000 votes that he's winning.

And therefore, Mr. Berlusconi says in this country there are about two million ballots that have been declared, void, null or blank. And of those two million, is he contesting 40,000 votes. So now he's saying basically that until the Italian highest court can certify this election victory of Mr. Prodi, he will not concede defeat.

S. O'BRIEN: So what's going to happen next, Alessio? You know, is it -- how long before they actually declare an actual winner?

VINCI: Well, we're going to have the highest court will certify this vote by April the 20th. The parliament meets at the end of April, April 28th. They will have to elect a new president. That president eventually will have to be sworn in, and he will be then in charge to put in charge of naming the new prime minister. So we're talking about perhaps at the end of May at the earliest.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. Alessio Vinci for us this morning.

Alessio, thanks for the update.

Italy's boss of bosses is now in jail. Police have captured fugitive mob boss Bernardo Provenzano, also known as "The Tractor."

The 73-year-old has run the Sicilian mob for more than a decade. And while he's -- that's while he's been on the run. In fact, he's been a fugitive since 1963.

Provenzano has already been found guilty in absentia in several murder cases. He was finally captured in Corleone in Italy -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's check the forecast now. A little bit of rain in and around Chicago today. That could be bad news for people trying to fly in and out of there.

Chad, good morning.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And Detroit, too. Good morning, Miles.


S. O'BRIEN: That sounds nice. Of course, tomorrow I'll be right here, not skiing at all. But thank you, Chad.

MYERS: Well, you can call yet.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, from Pooh Corner to Hollywood, Winnie the Pooh -- that's not the real Winnie the Pooh, of course. That's -- but anyway, he's...

M. O'BRIEN: In case you were wondering.

S. O'BRIEN: He's the latest celebrity...

M. O'BRIEN: Where is the real Winnie the Pooh?

S. O'BRIEN: I don't know. Anyway, he's the latest celeb to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Eighty years ago, Pooh Bear first appeared in the London Evening News. Pooh had to go it alone. Oh, there are his little friends. There's Tigger and...

M. O'BRIEN: Eeyore.

S. O'BRIEN: ... Eeyore and...

M. O'BRIEN: The rabbit. What's the rabbit's name?

Piglet? Not Piglet. Rabbit. It's Rabbit. The rabbit's name is Rabbit.

S. O'BRIEN: Rabbit. I should know that. I've read those stories five kajillion times.

By the way, in case you're wondering, his star is next to -- anybody want to hazard a guess? Roger Ebert, Cuba Gooding.

M. O'BRIEN: Completely random there.

S. O'BRIEN: It is so bizarrely random.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: That and all the hard-hitting news right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: That's right, honey -- so to speak.

S. O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, the soft drinks that your family enjoys, do they have something called benzene? It's a chemical that's been linked to leukemia. This morning we've got some new information on what's being done to stop it from showing up in your pantry.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Paula Hancocks in London, where the man accused of being the biggest military computer hacker of all time is in court. I'll have the story coming up.

M. O'BRIEN: And out of a famous closet, so to speak. Dior, Prada, Versace, no Target in this closet. No, no, no. Take a look at some of the clothes Elton John and his partner David Furnish are selling for charity.

Sandy bought me a few things yesterday. No, she did. She got some sorts and a belt for me.

S. O'BRIEN: I like that diamond-studded thing.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. That's -- she got that for me.

All right.

We'll tell you what else is making news this Wednesday, as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) M. O'BRIEN: We could learn today if a suspected super hacker will face trial in the U.S. Gary McKinnon is accused of breaking into computers at the Pentagon and NASA, a la "War Games." Remember that movie? He allegedly stole secrets, he deleted sensitive files.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live now from London.

Paula, tell us what we know about him.

HANCOCKS: Well, Miles, according to the U.S. government, Gary McKinnon is a dangerous man. They say that he has carried out the biggest military computer hacking of all time.

Now, what the U.S. government allege is that 97 computer files in all were accessed by Gary McKinnon over about a period of a year. Very sensitive and what you would think would be highly impenetrable files: NASA, the Pentagon, the U.S. military, the Navy, the Air Force, the Army. So files that really are very secret. And they say also Gary McKinnon managed to disable a U.S. naval base shortly after the 9/11 attacks because of his hacking.

Now, for Gary McKinnon, on his side, he's referred to himself in the past as a bumbling computer nerd. He says all he was trying to do was do a little bit of research to find out whether or not the U.S. government was carrying out a cover-up of UFOs, whether or not these UFOs actually existed or not. But what he did point out as well was just how easy it was for him to access these files, which should be the most impenetrable in the world.


GARY MCKINNON, SUSPECTED COMPUTER HACKER: I did occasionally leave messages in system administrators' machines saying this is ridiculous. Some political diatribes as well, but also a pointer to say, you know, this is absolutely ridiculous.


HANCOCKS: Now, he's fighting this extradition very vigorously. He doesn't want to be extradited to the U.S. There could be 70 years in prison waiting for him if he is found guilty of the allegations. That's the absolute maximum he can have.

He says he carried out the crimes in Britain, the evidence is in Britain. He wants to be tried in Britain -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.

CNN's Paula Hancocks in London -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Happening "In America" this morning, investigators are trying to determine what led to the crash of an F-16 jet near Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. It crashed shortly after takeoff on Tuesday on a training mission. The pilot was able to parachute safely from the plane. And here's a little trip down memory lane. The George W. Bush childhood home has been dedicated in Midland, Texas. No cheap renovation, either. It cost $1.8 million bucks to make this house, and its vintage furnishings appear just like it did when the Bushes lived in the house in the 1950s.

And if you're in the market for a new wardrobe, how about something from Elton John? Pieces of his personal wardrobe are being sold to raise money for an AIDS charity. The sale, which is being held at Rockefeller Center -- easy for me to say -- in New York City runs right through Saturday. Among the items, a black Versace suit with song titles woven into the fabric.

Everybody needs that.

And in Colorado, take a look at this Easter egg. Some people say that looks like the face of Jesus. The woman who dyed the egg says she doesn't consider it a miracle.

Does anybody see -- OK. Well -- anyway, don't be surprised...

M. O'BRIEN: Is it on eBay? Of course it's on eBay.

S. O'BRIEN: I was going to say, it's going to be on eBay this week on sale. And she says it's going to be a big old miracle if somebody actually pays her some big money for it.

That doesn't look like the face of Jesus to me.

M. O'BRIEN: No, no. That's no grilled cheese sandwich. I mean, that -- that grilled cheese sandwich, that was divine.

S. O'BRIEN: Where did they see the face in that? Where do you see the face of Jesus?

M. O'BRIEN: One more time. Michael, put it up one more time.


S. O'BRIEN: Where.

M. O'BRIEN: Where?


M. O'BRIEN: Where? There?

Andy Serwer sees it.


M. O'BRIEN: But, you know, he sees a lot of things all the time.

S. O'BRIEN: What are you talking about? What are you talking about? There's no face of Jesus there.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. All right. Well, we'll see what it goes for.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. Probably $15,000, at least.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

Brace yourself for a little sticker shock if you plan on flying anytime soon. Andy Serwer, a man who sees the face of Jesus in eggs, will be with us very shortly.

And child welfare reportedly sent out to Britney Spears' home. I wonder if it's because of the driving incident. Was that it? You know, where she -- the kid was in her lap.

S. O'BRIEN: Somebody should talk to that girl about that. She put the baby on the steering wheel. Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: She needs to read a book or something about all that stuff. Anyway, that's coming up.



M. O'BRIEN: It's a beautiful Avril morning here in New York City. April, Avril. Get it? Never mind.

S. O'BRIEN: I totally didn't get that at all.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I did. I actually got that.

S. O'BRIEN: Good for you, Carol. That was, like, right over high head.

M. O'BRIEN: You did get that.

S. O'BRIEN: No, not even slightly. I was, like -- I was, like, good for you. You know what your daughter's listening to.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Carol Costello, good morning.

Papers. What's going on in the papers this morning?

COSTELLO: Well, of course on everyone's front page this morning, except, of course, for the tabloids, is Iran reporting these big advances in the enrichment of uranium. At least we think so.

What struck us about this ceremony yesterday was the elaborate lengths Iran went to make this big announcement. You can see it was almost like a party.

Everybody in ceremonial dress. And the scientists in this picture, actually holding up containers said to hold uranium enriched by -- they're holding up containers of uranium. They had these big video screens behind everyone going through each process of the development of this huge advance. Also, the celebration, or the announcement, I should say, took place on the anniversary of the Prophet Mohammed's birthday, a day before nuclear arms inspectors are due to arrive in Tehran. And who knows, maybe this was all taunting the United States. But the ceremony itself had messages contained within it directed at different countries throughout the world.

So that was very interesting and fascinating.

In "USA Today," there's another interesting story. It's about this huge lawsuit that was won by an airline passenger -- $27.5 million dollars awarded to a woman by Southwest Airlines. A jury said that Southwest Airlines had to pay because Southwest Airlines was being overly aggressive in its enforcement of post-9/11 policies.

Apparently this woman is of Iranian descent. She is a U.S. citizen. She was on this plane and she complaining about the service.

Apparently, these flight attendants claimed that this woman began yelling and she grabbed the flight attendants' arms. So they took it to court. And the jury decided that the airline attendants weren't telling the truth and they awarded this woman $27.5 million.

And, of course, Southwest Airlines planning to appeal. That story in "USA Today."

S. O'BRIEN: That is a big old payout.

All right. Carol, thanks.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Carol.

S. O'BRIEN: Andy's coming up next.

What do you got?

SERWER: Speaking of airlines, call it revenge of the airlines. The big carriers are finally able to do something this decade that so far they've only been able to dream of. I'll tell you what that is coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Here's a look at some of the stories we're working on for you this morning.

The jury in the Zacarias Moussaoui case hears cockpit tapes from United Flight 93 today.

Iran ramps up its uranium enrichment program.

The U.S. may soon have a chance to prosecute the man called the world's biggest military computer hacker.

We'll tell you what is doing to protect your kids from online predators. And 25 years since the first shuttle was launched, we're going to take a look back and talk to the shuttle's first pilots.

Those stories all ahead this morning on AMERICAN MORNING.

First, though, a little business news. We're talking -- we always talk about the airlines. I mean, literally...

SERWER: We do.

S. O'BRIEN: ... what do you think, three days out of five?

SERWER: Well, you know, it's an industry in flux.

M. O'BRIEN: And the other two days Wal-Mart. So...

SERWER: These are the companies in business making news in our economy right now. And, of course, what's going on in the airline business, a lot of big changes afoot.

Rising fuel prices, rising demand for seats. Plus, the industry is shrinking. And that means fares are on the rise. And it is finally happening. We've been anticipating this now for the past couple years, but basically, unrestricted coach seats up $50 over the past couple months.

That's sort of the baseline for fares. Discounted fares are rising, too. It all began back in March, when Southwest, which, of course, is the leader in the discount space, raised fares and they stuck.

On average, double-digit percentage gains increases since last fall. And last year, airline fares kind of hit rock bottom, adjusted for inflation. If you adjust for inflation, fares in 2005, the lowest of all time.

So they're finally coming back.

A little bit of an increase a good thing, because the business was in such dire straits. One woman saying that she had to pay $1,000 to fly from San Jose to Sioux Falls. And she said, "I didn't want to permanently buy the seat. I just wanted to sit there for a few hours."

I thought that was a pretty good line.

M. O'BRIEN: You get to take the seat with you when you go home.

SERWER: If that only were true.

M. O'BRIEN: But they're still over capacity.

SERWER: There still is in some areas. In some areas domestically, you're starting to really see the planes fill up.

Another little added bit here. American Airlines is adding a fuel surcharge starting today, $10 on one-ways, $20 on round-trippers for transatlantic and transpacific flights.

That's another game they play, you know, which is the fuel surcharges. I've got a service surcharge from a travel agent of $25 a ticket the other day.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. All the extras.

SERWER: So they're finding all different ways...

S. O'BRIEN: It adds up so fast.

SERWER: Yes -- to get it going.

So, you know, you like to see the industry return to health, but you don't want to get your wallet picked at the same time.

S. O'BRIEN: That's true.

SERWER: So it's kind of a balance here.

S. O'BRIEN: It's that fine line.

SERWER: That's it.

M. O'BRIEN: With fare increases like that, though, is that enough to get these bankrupt airlines off the ropes?

SERWER: No, probably. It really isn't. And the big wildcard is the cost of fuel. And, you know, we're talking about that with cars and gasoline in this program. And really don't know what's going to happen there.

S. O'BRIEN: Right. All right. Andy, thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Andy Serwer.

SERWER: Thanks a lot.

As we're approaching the top of the hour now, let's get the forecast in.

Chad Myers with that.

Hello, Chad.

MYERS: Good morning, Miles.


M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Chad.

Thirty-one minutes of desperation. The jury in the Moussaoui trial will hear tapes from the United Flight 93 cockpit voice recorder.