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American Morning

Judgment Day for Zacarias Moussaoui

Aired May 04, 2006 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Judgment day for Zacarias Moussaoui. Jurors say he should get life in prison. He's back in court for sentencing later this morning and will have the chance to speak.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Moussaoui wanted death. Instead, he'll likely get a different kind of concrete box. I'll tell you about it in a minute.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Also ahead, unclean hospital instruments put hundreds at risk for a deadly virus.


CINDY STECKEL, ADMINISTRATIVE NURSE, SCRIPPS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: She was aware. She said that she was aware that this was not the appropriate policy and she chose to do it anyway.


M. O'BRIEN: Broken rules now leading to fears that some surgical patients could have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis.


In 35 minutes, I'll tell you why Bermuda -- well, actually, the Bermuda high -- is important in forecasting hurricanes. That's coming up -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: And something that's new this morning at Mount St. Helens. An interesting formation is now jutting out of the volcano's crater. We're going to take a closer look just ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning.

Welcome everybody.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm Miles O'Brien.

We're glad you're with us.

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

Our top story this morning, the al Qaeda conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui. We expect that from him, maybe, in just about two hours. He's going to be sentenced this morning to life in prison without parole.

Let's get right to our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena.

She's outside the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia -- hey, Kelli, good morning.


Well, this should be Zacarias Moussaoui's last opportunity to speak in public. Yesterday, as he left the courtroom, he yelled out: "America, you lost. I won!" and if he's true to form, today we should get more of the same. He is expected to be headed to a super maximum security prison facility.

The family member reaction to that -- 9/11 family member reaction -- has been pretty mixed on that score.

Some say that they're concerned that may not be secure enough.


MARGARET POTHIER, BROTHER-IN-LAW KILLED ON 9/11: I don't have the confidence in the prison system and in those who are going to be responsible for him to be sure that he stays in prison. He could get a pardon at some time in the future, when so many people have forgotten about who he is.

CARIE LEMACK, MOTHER KILLED ON 9/11: 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 and realized that he just wanted to kill Americans, but he wasn't even skilled enough to be able to do that.


ARENA: The -- some of the jurors agreeing with that point of view. The verdict form shows us that they do not believe -- some of them do not believe Moussaoui played a major role in the September 11 attacks and that he had limited knowledge of the plan.

By the way, Soledad, he'll turn 38 later this month, so he's looking at a very long time in isolation.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, he certainly is, isn't he?

All right, Kelli Arena for us this morning.

Kelli, thanks.

ARENA: You're welcome.

S. O'BRIEN: In Kelli's piece, you heard from Carie Lemack. Her mother was one of the victims on one of the plane's that crashed into the World Trade Center.

We're going to talk with her this morning. Also, with Jeri Smith. Her husband -- that's his photo right there -- he was a firefighter. He died at the World Trade Center. That interview coming up in about 10 minutes -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, Moussaoui may have been spared the death penalty, but any semblance of a life as we know it is over for him. His likely new home is a maximum security prison that holds the worst of the worst. They call it Supermax, as a matter of fact.

Carol Costello with more on that -- hello, Carol.


Just to illustrate how strongly Americans feel about this, take a look at the headline in the "Daily News." It says: "Jurors May Have Spared Your Life, But You'll Still Go To Hell."

Well, he will go to a certain kind of hell, but this one is called 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 soundproof 12' by 7' cells, with one window, just four inches wide. For one hour a day, they're able to walk in small walled, heavily guarded yards with no views of the mountains nearby and no interaction with other inmates.

And those inmates at Supermax are often called 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, Ramsey 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: So it really is like living in a concrete box. There is a stool in the cell, but it also is made of poured concrete and it's really stuck to the floor, in fact, as if it's part of the floor.

In some of the cells, they put these 12 inch televisions inside and on the television all that plays is parenting courses and anger management courses. And as for security, very tight security. And that's really the reason for that solitary confinement 23 hours a day, because the guards say that, you know, if there's any fraternization between prisons, that's just too dangerous.

M. O'BRIEN: Carol Costello in the newsroom.

Thank you very much.

Stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: A former Department of Homeland Security spokesman is expected in a Florida courtroom today. Brian Doyle was arrested for allegedly soliciting sex from a 14-year-old girl. That teenager, though, was really an undercover officer.

CNN's Candiotti is latch in Bartow, Florida this morning -- hey, Susan, good morning.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again, Soledad.

This is expected to be a fairly basic court appearance. Brian Doyle will formally hear the charges read against him here in Florida and then bond is expected to be set. Prosecutors say they won't stand in the way of that. And the defense lawyers would like that, because they'd like to get him back to Maryland, they say, so that he could be examined by some doctors who specialize in sexual dysfunction.

Now, Doyle was flown to Florida just yesterday, at his own expense, it turns out. He spent $2,000 so that he could fly commercially to avoid having a long bus ride along with other prisoners going all the way from Washington to Florida.

Then he was booked into the Polk County Jail -- fairly humiliating for him, it must have been, as he had to get prison wear, as well as slippers that he had to put on before being put into isolation.

Police here say they still cannot get over how brazen they say Doyle was as he talked to someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl but who turned out to be a police decoy, a part of this undercover sting.

Again, he was trying to entice, they say, a 14-year-old to have sex with him.


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's who he was, obviously, we were even more surprised at his level at Homeland Security.


CANDIOTTI: And it's also interesting to note that when he was arrested last month in Maryland, he had his first, unwittingly, face- to-face meeting with that undercover officer. She flew up to Maryland to escort him to jail. S. O'BRIEN: You know, it's shocking enough that this happened anyway, but the idea that this guy works for Homeland Security and is being so open, I mean that's just bizarre. Obviously, investigators are looking at that, right?

CANDIOTTI: They are. They are. And they really wanted to wrap this investigation up quickly, Soledad, because they said they were concerned that because of his position with Homeland Security and because he talked so openly with this young girl, they weren't sure whether he had done that with someone else.

So they said they wanted to arrest him quickly and get him off the streets.

S. O'BRIEN: So maybe concern not only about potential pedophilia, but, you know, sort of Homeland Security secrets, is that what you mean?

CANDIOTTI: That's true. They didn't know if possibly he might have been compromised somehow. Sure, this was a police decoy, but what if someone they said was a terrorist out there found out what he did for a living and might have tried to blackmail him somehow?

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, a weird, weird case.

All right, Susan Candiotti -- and just, yuck, disgusting, too.

Susan, thanks -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Happening in America today, jury selection just about done for the next trial for the convicted D.C. area sniper, John Allen Muhammad. After three days, attorneys now just one step away from seating the 12 jurors and four alternates. They might even get to opening arguments today. Muhammad, as you know, has already been convicted and sentenced to death in Virginia for those sniper attacks.

That big warehouse fire on the East River in New York is finally out, although firefighters are still there this morning. It took about 36 hours to douse this one. The fire broke out Tuesday morning and wasn't contained until late yesterday afternoon. Fourteen firefighters suffering minor injuries. Arson suspected.

Three years probation for a woman who supplied two teens with alcohol the day before one of them died in a drunk driving crash. The woman says she gave the teens a bottle of peppermint schnapps in exchange for shoveling snow off her driveway. The judge says there's no evidence the schnapps caused the crash, however.

An additional charge added for one of the five teens suspected in a plot to attack a high school in Riverton, Kansas. The 16-year-old boy now faces a charge of solicitation to commit murder. Lesser charges for all five teens include making criminal threats. Police were tipped off to the possible shooting plot after it was mentioned on that Web site, And in San Diego, state health officials are investigating an incident that could put nearly 300 patients at risk for hepatitis or HIV. The patients underwent stomach reduction surgery at the Scripps Memorial Hospital. But one instrument used in the surgeries was not properly cleaned.

Jeff Goldberg (ph) of our CNN KFNB reports.


JEFF GOLDBERG, KFNB CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You get a letter in the mail and it reveals just the kind of news a patient doesn't want to hear -- negligence on the part of a nurse may have exposed you to serious diseases, including HIV.

DR. JOHN SPINOSA, SCRIPPS LA JOLLA: We're contacting the patients.

GOLDBERG: According to Dr. John Spinosa with Scripps La Jolla, a nurse there failed to properly clean a tool used in bariatric surgery, or stomach stapling. The tool is called a gastroscope and because of this, patients may have been exposed to blood-borne viruses, including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.

SPINOSA: We believe a very, very low risk of -- of any exposure, but it's not zero.

GOLDBERG: The nurse was involved in 250 procedures from fall 2004 up until just last month. The hospital says she passed thorough background checks and never raised suspicion.

STECKEL: I was appalled and we are very distressed about this.

GOLDBERG: Administrative Nurse Cindy Steckel says the nurse in question partially sterilized the gastroscope, but not completely. And in a recent interview, the nurse made a disturbing confession.

STECKEL: She was aware. She said that she was aware that this was not the appropriate policy, and she chose to do it anyway.

GOLDBERG: Why she did it is unknown. What the hospital is concerned with now is the health of 250 people receiving news both unsettling and unexpected.

STECKEL: When people find out, they pretty much calm down and they are willing to get tested and deal with what happens then.


M. O'BRIEN: That was Jeff Goldberg of our CNN affiliate KFNB reporting.

The hospital says those patients face a very low risk of infection. The nurse who failed to fully sterilize that particular instrument has resigned -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Or probably would have been fired, I would imagine.

A controversial Mexican drug law is just going to have to wait, if it gets passed at all. Mexican President Vicente Fox has decided not to sign the law legalizing small amounts of marijuana and cocaine. Some had feared that the move would, in fact, open the border up for so-called drug tourism.



JERRY SANDERS, SAN DIEGO MAYOR: So I appreciate the fact that they were willing to step back, rethink it. And the president took a leadership role in that. I think that's good for both sides of the border.


S. O'BRIEN: President Fox was under pressure, and lots of it, from the U.S. to block that bill. He's now sending it back to the Mexican Congress to try to close the drug tourism loophole, as it's called -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: And Chad Myers now in the Weather Center -- I guess you're going to cancel your trip to Mexico-now, is that right?

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, stop.


MYERS: You know what?

S. O'BRIEN: Come on.

MYERS: I went there for my honeymoon. I thought Cancun-was one of the nicest little towns.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I know.

MYERS: I mean not even the tourist part, even the downtown.

So there you go.


S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, after an emotional trial, how do family members now feel about the verdict -- life, not death -- for Zacarias Moussaoui?

We're going to check in this morning with some 9/11 family members.

M. O'BRIEN: And a former secretary of state with some harsh words for the Bush administration. Madeleine Albright says the president has crossed a rhetorical line and waved a red flag for terrorists. We'll explain.

S. O'BRIEN: And then at 50 minutes past the hour, Bishop T.D. Jakes -- there he is -- he says it was his mama who made the difference in his life. He's got a new book out. It celebrates his mom, other moms and all moms. We'll talk to him about that just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: He's going to be behind bars for the rest of his life. But al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui has escaped the death penalty. The jury delivered its sentencing verdict on Wednesday, after seven days of deliberation.

Carie Lemack lost her mom, Judy Larocque -- on 9/11. And Jerri Smith's firefighter husband Kevin died at the World Trade Center.

They join us this morning.

Carie is in Boston.

Jerri is right here with me in the studio.

Ladies, thanks to both of you.


S. O'BRIEN: Let's start with Jerri, if we can.

As he walked out of the courtroom -- and I know you know this -- Moussaoui said, "America, you lost and I won!"

SMITH: I don't think America lost but I think, in any way, he won. I think that he was allowed to just disrespect us throughout the entire proceedings. No other citizen would be allowed that in any courtroom.

S. O'BRIEN: So by life in prison, you think he -- he had victory?

SMITH: Yes. I -- I believe terrorists are manipulative. I believe he manipulated the jury to believe that he wanted to die in order to keep his life.

S. O'BRIEN: Huh.

That's an interesting thought.

Carie, you and I have talked many times, actually, during the trial about all of this. And you felt that he'd be, you know, considered a martyr, if, in fact, he had been put to death.

What do you make of the verdict now?

LEMACK: Well, I'm proud of the jury. I think they saw through some of the evidence and they realized that he's just an al Qaeda wannabe. And I actually thought it was a win for the American justice system because to put someone to death for wanting to kill, even though it's repulsive to think that he'd want to do that, I have a feeling that the jury did the right thing and I'm proud to be an American today for that.

But the other thing is, he's going to be in jail for the rest of his life and it sounds like torture to me. He's going to be alone for 23 hours a day in his cell and the other hour that he gets out of his cell, he's also alone.

And so I don't think he won anything here. But I respect Jerri's position and everyone's position, because if I've learned anything after 9/11, it's that all family members will have differing opinions and that's just the way we are.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. And Jerri is nodding her head while you're saying that, too.

I have to imagine -- especially on such an emotional issue -- I mean it's just been brutal. And you almost can never most past it, because there's a trial and then there's TV cameras in your face and people, you know, wanting to interview you.


S. O'BRIEN: Has that been really, really difficult?

SMITH: Yes, it has. It's been -- what's more difficult, too, is that, you know, you keep going on. You know, unfortunately you hear about a lot of men and women dying in Iraq and then it keeps bringing me back to that day. And it's -- I just -- I think it's terrible that it's just still going and going for so many other families beyond 9/11.

S. O'BRIEN: It just never seems to end.

SMITH: It doesn't seem to end.

S. O'BRIEN: I know you, and Carie, too, both hate the word closure.


S. O'BRIEN: And I guess it's because there's just no such thing...

SMITH: No such thing.

S. O'BRIEN: ... in your case.

Is there any relief, though? I mean does this close a chapter? Does it sort of say, OK, I'm moving on to something else at this point?

SMITH: Yes. Well, I think we all moved on. I think that's something we have no choice but to, you know, to do that. And I -- I know that if this helped anyone, that they feel that this verdict was the right one, I'm glad. I'm glad for them.

I know most of my family agrees, also, with the verdict the way it ended up.

S. O'BRIEN: Carie, let me ask you a question, because after the verdict you had a statement. You went to the mikes and you said that you -- you talked a little bit about Moussaoui, but you talked a lot about other security issues when you sort of had your opportunity.

Why did you feel that was important to bring up?

LEMACK: Well, I think the best way to honor my mom and Jerri's husband and all the other 9/11 victims is to make sure that what happened to them never happens again, because that's really what this should be about. It should be about making our country safer.

So, in fact, I happened to be at the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, when I found out the verdict was going to be read and had to rush over to get to the courthouse. And I was working with them to try to create better morale for the screeners, the airport screeners. And I think that's the best way to honor our loved ones.

So I'm hopeful that after today, Mr. Moussaoui will be out of the headlines, but maybe we can get back to what's really important.

S. O'BRIEN: After today -- and today, the official, you know, sort of the formal verdict, as you well know, it's expected that he's going to say something.


S. O'BRIEN: I mean does every time he opens his mouth, is it just, you know, a knife driving through your heart again?

He says the most cruel, nasty, horrible things. There's obviously no remorse, no guilt.

SMITH: I just -- I think it's sad that they even allow him to do that. I -- he drinks in court. He wears hats. He disrespects the judges, the jury, the victims. I just still can't believe that that was all allowed. And I don't think anyone would have been allowed that in any other court, I'm sorry.

S. O'BRIEN: It ends today and then he'll go away for a long, long, long, long time.

SMITH: I hope so.

S. O'BRIEN: Carrie Lemack and Jerri Smith, thank you...

SMITH: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: ... both of you, very much.

LEMACK: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: I appreciate it.

I know it's so difficult to talk about it. We really -- we really appreciate your insight on this.

SMITH: OK. LEMACK: Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: You want to, of course, stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, the former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, will join us. She's out with a new book that tackles the combustible mix of religion and politics. She has some tough talk for the current White House.

And oh, my aching feet. Arching piece (ph) on how you can fix foot pain. The next on the morning show with soul, AMERICAN MORNING.

Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: On your list of health care issues as you enter your 30s and your 40s and your 50s, bunions and fallen arches might not make it on the list at all, but they should be more than just a health care footnote.

Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us from the CNN Center in Atlanta -- hey, Elizabeth, good morning.


Soledad, usually when we think of aging, we think of seeing it in our faces or feeling it in our waistline. But aging also will affect your feet.


COHEN (voice-over): As you age, your feet begin to feel the miles. When Donna Holladay turned 50, her feet felt twice that old.

DONNA HOLLADAY, FOOT PATIENT: It's like walking on flat tires or something.

COHEN: That can be caused by years of wearing ill-fitting shoes or, in Donna's case, genetics.

HOLLADAY: I have this particular bump on my foot, which really hurts. And that along with this corn on this side, which turns out to be a bone spur have made my foot larger and a bit swollen.

COHEN: These types of problems can crop up at any age. Women have far more foot problems.


DR. RAMI CALIS, PODIATRIST: They want to wear nice, dainty, tight shoes. They're very, very pointy and they're, unfortunately, back in style now. COHEN: High heels can take a toll.

CALIS: Not only by elevating your heels so high up does it throw off your back and your whole spinal curvature and tilt your hip forward, but it also forces your foot, by pushing your foot forward and squishing all your toes in your foot in this very tight, narrow space, as well.

COHEN: In your 30s, be proactive. Be kind to your feet now so you can use them later.

CALIS: That is the age to really be more self-conscious about the type of shoes you wear and make sure you have good support in your shoes, shoes that are comfortable and fit well.

COHEN: Pregnancy affects your feet. And even after you have your baby, your feet may stay a size larger, so adjust your shoe size.

In your 40s, keep flexibility and strength in your feet through exercise and stay light on your toes by losing weight.

And in your 50s...

CALIS: You want to remain active as best as possible and, again, good sensible shoe wear.

COHEN: So whatever you do on your feet, doctors say there's one final solution.

CALIS: We can fix anything with a big WY (ph) shoe.


COHEN: So, when it comes to aging, there are many things that we really can't control. But when it comes to your feet and aging, you really can help your feet by wearing the right shoes -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, but who wants to wear a big old wide, ugly shoe? I mean, you know, we're all going to -- everybody is going to wear cute shoes. Every woman is going to try to wear her cute shoes, two-and-a-half inch heels, at least, and pointy toes.

What do doctors tell you you can do to kind of mitigate the damage that you're, you know, you're basically inflicting on your feet?

COHEN: Well, maybe you can compromise. For example, do a two inch heel don't do pointy toes. That might help a bit.

But, seriously, what can really help is maybe wear those types of shoes, wear the stilettos for a special occasion. But then most of the time wear a shoe that's more comfortable. And there are some stylish shoes out there that are comfortable.

But you don't have to wear those little tiny stiletto shoes all the time, maybe just for, as I said, special occasions. S. O'BRIEN: And if you do, you'll probably pay for it later, in your 30s or your 40s or your 50s.

Elizabeth Cohen for us this morning.

Elizabeth, thanks.

COHEN: Thanks.

S. O'BRIEN: A short break.

We're back in just a moment.