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American Morning

Zacarias Moussaoui Gets Life in Prison; Spokesman for Department of Homeland Security in Court, Charged With Being Online Sexual Predator

Aired May 04, 2006 - 07:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: His life spared. The jury concludes Zacarias Moussaoui was a bit player in the 9/11 attacks. We may hear from the al Qaeda wannabe one more time in just a few hours.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Costello. And you know Zacarias Moussaoui wanted death. Instead, he'll likely spend the rest of his life in a concrete box.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Also this morning, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security in court and charged with being an online sexual predator. We'll tell you that story.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ed Henry at the White House, where the president says high gas prices should be a wakeup call.

S. O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. Good morning to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's get right to our top story. Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui finally formally sentenced this morning to life in prison without parole. The jury spared his life, happened after a week of deliberation.

Reaction from 9/11 families is mixed.

Let's get right to CNN's Kelli Arena. She's live outside the federal courthouse in Alexandria.

Hey, Kelli, good morning.


You know, the jury deliberated for seven days. Legal experts said the longer that deliberation went on, the better Moussaoui's chances for life. And they were right. As you know, every time Moussaoui has entered this courtroom, he's taunted the United States. He gets one more chance to speak at his sentencing hearing this morning.


ARENA (voice-over): On his way out of the courtroom, Zacarias Moussaoui yelled, "America, you lost!" Defiant until the end, he never expressed any remorse for 9/11. Still, the jury decided Moussaoui will not be executed. The 37-year-old is expected to spend the rest of his life in a maximum-security prison.

Carie Lemack lost her mother on September 11th.

CARIE LEMACK, 9/11 FAMILY MEMBER: He's an al Qaeda wannabe, and he does not deserve any credit for 9/11, because he was not part of it, and I am so glad the jury recognized that.

ARENA: Other 9/11 family members were disappointed.

MARGARET POTHIER, 9/11 FAMILY MEMBER: I think he deserved the death penalty. And I'm sorry he didn't get it.

ARENA: We know from the verdict forum that three jurors believed Moussaoui's role in the 9/11 conspiracy was minor, and that he had limited knowledge of the attack plan. The jury rejected the government's claim that Moussaoui's actions resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths on September 11th.

PAUL MCNULTY, DEP. ATTY. GENERAL: We respect that, and we accept that. But accountability for the crimes committed has been achieved through the prosecution. There's no doubt about that.

ARENA: No jurors were swayed by the notion that executing Moussaoui would make him a martyr for al Qaeda. They also weren't convinced he was mentally ill. Though the majority accepted the defense's argument Moussaoui came from a dysfunctional family, with a violent father.

EDWARD MACMAHON, MOUSSAOUI'S DEFENSE ATTY.: The court charged us with defending Mr. Moussaoui's constitutional rights, and we have done so to the best of our abilities.

ARENA: Even though the four-and-a-half year legal drama did not end with a death sentence, President Bush defended the outcome.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: They spared his life, which is something that he evidently wasn't willing to do for innocent American citizens.


ARENA: Now what remains to be seen is how the administration handles other al Qaeda higher-ups in U.S. custody who are more culpable for the September 11th attacks -- Soledad

S. O'BRIEN: Kelli Arena for us this morning. Kelli, thanks for the update -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Moussaoui's life may be spared, but his existence will not be easy where he is headed. His likely domicile for the remainder of his days, a sound-proof, poured concrete box in the Colorado desert. We're talking about a cell at the maximum -security prison known as Supermax. Carol Costello in the newsroom with a further look at this place.

Hello, Carol.

COSTELLO: Hello, Miles. And good morning to all of you.

Just to illustrate how strongly Americans feel about Zacarias Moussaoui, take a look at the headline in "The Daily News." It said "Jurors May Have Spared Your Life, But You'll Still Go" -- well, you'll be with the devil.

Still, as Miles intimated, Zacarias Moussaoui will be in his own kind of hell, most likely in the Alcatraz of the Rockies.


COSTELLO (voice-over): It's called Supermax, the federal administrative maximum-security prison located in Florence, Colorado, some 90 miles south of Denver.

But it's by no means a mountain vacation. It's often called the "Alcatraz of the Rockies." There, the constant is cold, hard isolation. Inmates are kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day in sound-proof 12 foot by 7 foot cells, with one window four inches wide. For one hour a day, they're able to walk in small, walled heavily guarded yards, with no view of the mountains nearby and no interaction with other inmates. And those inmates at Supermax are often known as the worst of the worst. Among them, Olympic Park bomber Eric Robert Rudolph, shoe bomber Richard Reid, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols, mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef. And before he was executed, Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh. Yes, there's plenty of company at Supermax, but their constant companion is confinement.


COSTELLO: It really will be like living in a concrete box. And some of those cells -- and we're not sure if this is true in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui's cell, but there are 12-inch televisions piping in parenting courses and anger-management courses. Now Moussaoui could be transferred as early -- oh, in the next several weeks, or he could be transferred as late as in the next couple of months. We'll keep you posted of course.

M. O'BRIEN: Carol Costello, thank you very much.

Next hour, we'll hear from some 9/11 family members. We'll talk with Carie Lemack, who lost her mother on 9/11. And Jerry Smith (ph), who lost her husband on that day. Stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: The first court appearance in Florida today for a former Department of Homeland Security spokesman. Brian Doyle faces nearly two dozen charges, all stemming from his alleged attempt to seduce a 14-year-old girl over the Internet.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is live outside the courthouse. That's in Bartow, Florida.

Hey, Susan, good morning.


Yes, at this first appearance in Florida, Brian Doyle will officially hear those charges against him. And then bond is likely to be set. Prosecutors tell CNN they won't stand behind that or stand against it. And it is likely that if bond is set, his defense attorneys will want to send him back to Maryland so that he can meet with two psychiatrists who specialize in sexual dysfunction.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The disgraced former Homeland Security deputy press secretary decided against fighting extradition to Florida to face 23 felony counts. Brian Doyle stared straight ahead as he sat in a patrol car, but there was no avoiding cameras as he was led into booking.

QUESTION: Did you get enough?

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say?

CANDIOTTI: Last month, Polk County, Florida sheriff's office admittedly shocked itself by busting a federal government official in an Internet sting operation. He was likely shocked, too, when arrested at his home in Maryland by a female deputy -- that's her escorting Doyle to a squad car -- who he thought was a 14-year-old girl. Doyle's charged with sending her hardcore pornographic materials, materials to seduce a minor. He is also accused of e- mailing the undercover cop 16 pornographic video clips. The titles include: big blank, babysitter for a teen, twin1, homemade porno and panties.

SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLA.: He would send the clip, and then discuss what he wanted her to do with him, or what he wanted to do with her. This guy is a criminal. We hope to see him in the Florida State prison system for a very long time.

CANDIOTTI: Doyle did not attempt to hide his face or what he did for a living. Police say he e-mailed his intended young lover his photo, wearing a Homeland Security lapel pin and I.D. badge. And that wasn't all.

CARRIE RODGERS, POLK COUNTY SHERIFF'S SPOKESWOMAN: In the very first conversation online, he told our detective who he was, gave him his office and home phone numbers. And once we verified that, who he was, obviously, we were even more surprised at his level at Homeland Security.

CANDIOTTI: Within days of his arrest, Doyle resigned. As he got ready for his first court appearance in Florida, his hands at times trembling, a man who once had access to classified government secrets was again wearing another set of handcuffs, and forced to select a pair of jailhouse slippers before put in isolation. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: Now, normally Doyle would have been sent to Florida on the cheap, on a prisoner transport bus all the way from Washington to Florida. And that could have taken a week. But instead Doyle sent a check to the sheriff's office for $2,000 so that he could fly commercially under police escort, accompanied by the same police decoy who made the case against him -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. Susan Candiotti for us this morning. Sick. Thank you. Thank you for the update.

Coming up in just a few minutes, AMERICAN MORNING's Dan Lothian is going to take a look at ways that parents can get more involved really in their child's Internet excursions. You want to stay with us for that -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: It's gas gauge time. The national average now 2.91 for unleaded regular, although one of our writers in Atlanta says 2.74 yesterday, 2.74, bragging down there they are. He's still celebrating. One month ago it was 2.59. A year ago it was 2.22. When you get a tank of gas that cheap, you don't want to move your car, because you've got this cheap gas in the tank, right.

The U.S. House is trying to do something about all those high gas prices. It wants criminal penalties for energy companies caught gouging.

Meanwhile, the White House is feeling the pressure as well, saying the U.S. is facing an energy crisis. That term being used quite a lot now.

CNN's Ed Henry at the White House with more on all of this.

Ed, what's the president saying about this?

HENRY: Well, good morning, Miles.

The president is calling it a wakeup call. White House aides really trying to prepare consumers for the worse heading into the summer months. As you noted, they've been calling it a crisis. The president has not. But what White House aides keep saying is that there are no easy, short-term solutions. This is a long-term problem that has been building for decades.

But as you noted, pressure is building on the president to do something in the short-term. Polls show a vast majority of the American people do not believe he has a clear plan to deal with these high gas prices. So the White House is eager to show the president rolling up his sleeves, working with congressional leaders, trying to find some sort of a solution on a bipartisan basis. So it was again yesterday a bipartisan group of senators came over to the White House. where the president gave another push for his four-point plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: Prices of gasoline should serve as a wakeup call to all of us involved in public office, that we have got an energy security problem and a national security problem, and now is the time to deal with it in a forceful way.


HENRY: But after the meeting, the bipartisan group of senators came to the microphones here at the White House, and they acknowledged there really were no new policy initiatives from the president. There was no breakthrough on any of the policy initiatives already on the table, such as the president's push in that four-point plan for hydrogen-powered cars, things like that, that would take a long-term, not a short-term solution. So the bottom line is both parties really scrambling to find a solution, but it's not easy for them right now -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Ed, it seems like things in this election year may be headed for a stalemate on the issue. Is that possible?

HENRY: Well, it's going to be difficult, I think, for lawmakers in both parties to go home without getting anything accomplished on gas prices, even if it's just symbolic. The problem, of course, is if they go home with a symbolic piece of legislation just to show the voters, it really probably will not have much of an impact. So it might look good to the voters, but it's really not going to help them at the pump -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I think maybe voters will see through that at this point. Ed Henry at the White House, thank you very much.


M. O'BRIEN: Coming up at 15 past the hour, that'd be about two- and-a-half minutes from now, the story of a young soldier killed in Iraq, made all the more tragic by a secret he kept from his mother until the day he died. It's such a sad story.

S. O'BRIEN: Then at half past the hour, parents get an eye- opening lesson on online child predators. We're going to show you how one state is trying to make parents a little more cyber-savvy.

M. O'BRIEN: And later, Tiger says he wouldn't be where he is without him. His dad, Earl Woods, loses a battle with cancer. We'll tell you about his remarkable life, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: There are so many sad and painful stories about U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq. This one, though, I think touched people because of the circumstances that surround his death.

Alina Cho has his story.

Good morning.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.

First a bit about the soldier. His name is Jose Gomez. He was just 23 years old. The fact that he died so young, that alone is a tragedy. Yet there is so much more to the story, including a secret he kept from his mother, a secret she only learned upon his death.


CHO (voice-over): Jose Gomez loved his mother so much he worried for her, so much that when he found out he had to return to Iraq for a second tour of duty, he kept it a secret. His mother knew about the first tour. But for the second, Gomez told her he had left New York to take classes in Texas.

MARIA GOMEZ, SLAIN SOLDIER'S MOTHER (through translator): He would tell me, mama, I'm going to study so you will be well, so you won't have to work. Maria Gomez said it was just like her son to say that, and she had no reason to doubt him.

Then the news: Last Friday, Maria came home from work and found two members of the Army's notification team waiting on her doorstep.

GOMEZ (through translator): When we went upstairs, he said, sit down. And I replied, no, you please, sit down. When he said no, sit down, I have some bad news. Then he told me, your son died. At that moment, I thought I was going to die.

CHO: Gomez said she couldn't believe it, and won't until her son's body comes home.

GOMEZ (through translator): I still don't believe it's true.

CHO: Felix Jimenez is Gomez's stepfather.

FELIX JIMENEZ, SLAIN SOLDIER'S STEPFATHER (through translator): He was a great kid, great.

CHO: Jose Gomez and his mother came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when he was three, shortly after his father died. Last week, Sergeant Gomez was on routine patrol in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee. The 23-year- old was one of two soldiers killed.

But the story doesn't end there. Gomez's death comes three years after the death of his then-fiance, who died under similar circumstances. Twenty-one-year-old Anna Lori Esparza Gutierrez (ph) was an Army private. She died in an IED attack in Tikrit in 2003, the second female soldier killed in Iraq. The two met during Gomez's first tour of duty. They got engaged there. Gomez came home for her funeral.

In time, he met another woman, and asked her to marry him just before leaving for his second tour. His mother said he called her every Saturday.

GOMEZ (through translator): He did everything for me. I lived for him. He lived for me.

CHO: Gomez said in his last call to her, he told her he'd have a surprise for her. He was talking about Mother's Day.

GOMEZ (through translator): I feel like I'm already dead.


CHO: Gomez's body is already back in the U.S. at Dover Air Force Base. His family said his funeral will be held on Monday. And that, Soledad, Will take place in Queens, New York, where Sergeant Gomez spent most of his life.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, it's such a sad story on so many levels.

CHO: It really is. It really is. It's unbelievable.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness.

CHO: I actually told the family, I said, you know, there are so many soldiers who have died in Iraq. We don't often do these stories anymore sadly, and I said, but your story touched us so much, because of the circumstances.

S. O'BRIEN: The tragedy is compounded times 10. Sadly enough, it's worth highlighting, I'm sorry to say.

CHO: That's right.

S. O'BRIEN: He's from the Dominican Republic. Was he an American citizen?

CHO: He wasn't. He was a U.S. resident. But the interesting part about this, and I did not know this, is that the Pentagon said posthumously he will likely become a U.S. citizen, as long as the family wants that to happen. And this family does. So he was never a citizen in life, but posthumously he may become one.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, that's so sad for all the family members. Alina Cho, thanks. Thanks, Alina -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, Andy, "Minding Your Business." The head of GM says it is up to you bring down high gas prices.

And later, a look back at the life of Tiger Woods' father, how he molded his son into a golf phenomenon. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



M. O'BRIEN: Still to come in the program:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Odom (ph) is the Muhammad Ali of white- collar boxing.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm about to go into the ring with him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're about to go in the ring with him.

M. O'BRIEN: Do you think I'm crazy?



M. O'BRIEN: Well, I've been called worse. But if the gloves fit. Welcome to the world of white-collar boxing. I did a few rounds with the Muhammad Ali of white-collar boxing. And I'll let you know how I fared. Although I bet, Andy, you can guess.

SERWER: You should have seen the other guys.

M. O'BRIEN: Another round of AMERICAN MORNING is ahead.