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American Morning

Change at Top of the CIA; Fast-Moving Wildfire Forces Hundreds Out of Homes in Florida

Aired May 08, 2006 - 07:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Change at the top of the CIA today, but the prospects of a military man taking over Central Intelligence already rubbing many Republicans the wrong way.
A fast-moving wildfire forcing hundreds out of their homes in Florida. Firefighters now standing in between the flames and total destuction of those homes.

Closing Guantanamo. President Bush goes on record with his wish to shut down that detention center and go to trial.

And The Beatles versus the iPod. A judge rules this morning on Apple versus Apple, that court battle in England.

And he's almost there. The so-called "fat man walking" has made it all the way across the country to New York on foot. We'll see if he's achieved his goals, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

We know he's achieved a few blisters, for sure.

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

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I think he lost a few pounds.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, about a hundred. Not bad.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, yes, not bad at all.

M. O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien. Welcome to Monday.

The shakeup at the CIA is the big story out of Washington D.C. today. President Bush preparing to name Air Force General Michael Hayden as his nominee to replace Porter Goss. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley confirmed that just moments ago.

Let's get right to Kathleen Koch. She's at the White House this morning. National security correspodnent David Ensor is in Washington D.C. Barbara Starr's at the Pentagon for us.

Welcome to all of you.

Kathleen, let's begin with you. First, tell me about the nomination exactly. Tell me about the general himself.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPODNENT: Well, the general, of course, is the deputy director under John Negroponte, the director of National Intelligence. And whitel there is no formal announcment scheduled on President Bush's schedule today, it is expected that at some point this morning, he will make that announcement.

As you said, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley a few minutes ago confirmed that, and it truly was the worst-kept secret in Washington. Now Hadley this morning called Hayden the best man for the job. The name, Hayden's name, leaked out Friday night, just after Porter Goss' resignation was announced that afternoon.

And over the weekend, his likely selection sparked a lot of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.


REP. PETER HOEKSTRA (R), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: I think putting a military person in charge of the CIA, our premier civilian intelligence-gathering agency is exactly the wrong signal to send today.

SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: Here we have a man who everybody says is one of the best briefers that they ever had on intelligence, a man who has described by people on both sides of the aisle as probably knowing more about intelligence than anybody else. But there's real concern about somebody from the militayr heading up the CIA.


KOCH: So again, an administration official taking the unusual step of preempting an expected presidential announcement today. The White House wanting to get out and start putting a positive spin on this nominee -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: And yes they have bright and early this morning. Kathleen Koch at the White House for us.

Let's get to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, let me ask you a question, just because we heard it in those interviews a moment ago.

The concern about a military officer leading the agency, firs,t tell me why it's causing such a big deal. And also the implications of that.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Soledad, General Hayden would not be the first, of course. Under the Carter administration, Admiral Stansfield Turner, U.S. Navy admiral, was in charge of the CIA.

But right now, at this time, there is an epic power struggle going on in Washington in the intelligence community. John Negroponte versus Don Rumsfeld by all accounts. The Pentagon actually controls billions of dollars in intelligence spending, satellites, very expensive technical intelligence programs, programs aimed traditionally at getting intelligence for troops on the field. Don Rumsfeld definitely wants to hold on to all of that. John Negroponte, by all accounts, has different ideas as the director of national intelligence. He would like to bring more of that under his control.

And so the question will be, for Capitol Hill as they look at General Hayden's nomination, will he be seen as taking one side or the other. Not very clear yet. But those who know Mike Hayden say he will stand on the principles and go with whichever policy he, as an intelligence professional, believes is the right answer -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Barbara, thank you.

And let's get to David Ensor.

Dave, a quick question for you about the fallout for the folks who work at the CIA. What are the implications of this particular person coming in to run the CIA?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATL. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's not somebody who's experienced in the human intelligence area. He's a man from outside.

On the other hand, one of the most seasoned intelligence leadership professionals in the country, if not the most. I think a lot of people will say this is a man that's smart. We're getting a strong and a smart leader, so that's good.

But they will be uneasy, because there has been an effort recently going on by Mr. Negroponte -- and he's his deputy -- to move a lot of the analysis, the analysts out of the CIA and put them in other parts of the intelligence community, and that has been resisted. It's one of the reasons Porter Goss resigned on Friday. So there could be some fireworks yet.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. We'll watch for the fireworks. David Ensor, thank you very much.

Ahead in just a few moments, we're going to hear from National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley about this CIA post and the new man in charge, potentially.



S. O'BRIEN: Firefighters, as we mentioned, are still battling those blazes. A thousand acres have been scorched, including three homes, as we told you. A thousand people evacuated. We've an affiliate reporter at the scene for us this morning. His Name is Josh Einiger, and he's with our affiliate WFTV, which is in New Smyrna Beach.

Hey, Josh, thanks for the update. What's happening there?

JOSH EINIGER, WFTV REPORTER: Well, good morning, Soledad.

Let me show you first of all, this is what the firefighters are so worried about this morning, one of a whole bunch of hotspots that have flared up really right before our eyes. At this point, there are millions of red hot embers sending off a lot of smoke in this area. Kind of light breeze sending it that way.

And as photographer Jeff Freeman (ph) widens out, look that way, I'll show you some of the scope of this. This is just a fraction of a thousand-plus acres that burned yesterday. And today is shaping up to be another rough day. Flames are going up about 40 feet into the area we are told. Two homes destroyed, another three homes seriously damaged by the flames. And as you said, Soledad, a lot of people have been displaced from those homes, 800 people subject to a mandatory evacuation. Another 200 people strongly urged to leave their homes. Now we talked to one person overnight that didn't leave his home, and this morning he regrets it. Here's what he had to say.


BILL LENZ, RESIDENT: I really never had a fear of much of anything, but I got to say, that wall of fire coming towards me today, that scared me.


EINIGER: And back with another live look at this particular hotspot, they are bringing in more than 120 firefighters from all over the state of Florida to try to help knock this down, because they're very worried that as the sun comes up and the wind picks up, that things are going to be just as bad as they were yesterday. As a result of all this, highways are shut down. A real mess here in central Florida -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: I'll tell you, Josh, it sure looks like it from the aerial pictures wd've been showing as you've been talking. Thanks for the update. Appreciate it. We're going to continue to check in with you throughout the morning.

Josh Einiger for us from out affilative WFTV -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: David Blaine still there. He's in that man-bowl, Soledad, that sphere of water, that human aquarium, or as Soledad calls it so well, the man-bowl. It's been more than a week now. He says every muscle in his body feels like it's being stabbed with a knife.

S. O'BRIEN: Why?

M. O'BRIEN: Well, once again, that is the question. We're going to get to that. Here's what's going to happen, though. Tonight, they're going to lift him out of there for a little bit, handcuff him, chain him, do all the Houdini things, take off the breathing apparatus and drop him back in like a tea bag, and he's going to try to hold his breath for nine minutes. Sometime just, you know, hit the watch on nine minutes.

S. O'BRIEN: No. That's a long time. I don't even need to hit the watch for that. M. O'BRIEN: Now As for the why thing, nine minutes? It's about a million dollars a minute in advertising revenue. There youi go.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, is that what it's all about?

M. O'BRIEN: It's all about the bling-bling.

S. O'BRIEN: I don't know that he's going to be in good shape to, I mean, to do that.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, this is the question, is the best time to be trying that record?

S. O'BRIEN: Maybe not, maybe not so much.

M. O'BRIEN: Week after week, his hands -- have you seen the hands?

S. O'BRIEN: It hasn't been an easy week.

M. O'BRIEN: He's molting. He's molted several times over, his hands, as the skin just...

S. O'BRIEN: We'll all be watching. Back to the $9 million.

M. O'BRIEN: Hope they clean out the bowl well.

S. O'BRIEN: Also nasty.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, that.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, we're talking about the president's pick to head up the CIA. It's drawing fire from both Democrats and Republicans. So why should General Michael Hayden get the job? We're going to talk this morning to Natioanl Security Adviser Steven Hadley.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, and it's decision day in the case of of Apple versus Apple. We'll go live to London and tell about that legal showdown. Who will win, the Macintosh or the granny smith?

S. O'BRIEN: And was it mission accomplished for Tom Cruise? We'll tell you whether months of controversy affected the box office. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: As we've been telling you all morning, President Bush is going to nominate General Michael Hayden to be the new director of the CIA today. Already, the choice though is causing a little concern in Congress. I spoke with the president's national security adviser just a moment ago.


S. O'BRIEN: Stephen Hadley is the president's national security adviser. Nice to see you, sir. Good morning. Thanks for talking with us.

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATL. SECURITY ADVISER: Good morning. Nice to be here.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a Republican, says he is the wrong guy, General Hayden, is the wrong guy. How concerned are you about this nomination?

HADLEY: We think it is a strong nomination. General Hayden is the president's nominee to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the president strongly believes he is the best man for the job. General Hayden has broad experience in the intelligence community. He has been an agent of change. He took over the National Security Agency, the part of the government that deals with what's called signals intelligence, and he really brought that agency into the 21st century.

S. O'BRIEN: There are critics who say, sir, that the fact that he is active military is a big problem. Do you think it's a big problem, and do you think he needs to resign his commission?

HADLEY: We really don't. There have been other directors of the Central Intelligence Agency who have been military officers. There are military officers serving in that agency, because obviously there's an important military piece to our intelligence.

The president actually thinks it's a strength. He understands the military aspect of the intelligence business. But as I say, he's also had broad experience, and can be an integrator and an agent of reform.

So we think that the trick here is not whether he's military or civilian. There are established precedence for military officers serving. The key question is who's the right person for the job, and the president has concluded that's Mike Hayden.

S. O'BRIEN: But the fact that he's active military raises a couple of questions. So let's get to those questions. The first would be critics who say, well, who's he really reporting to? I mean, is he here to protect the interests of the CIA? Is he aligned, really, with the intelligence director, John Negroponte, to whom he was number two, or is reporting essentially to Secretary Rumsfeld? I mean, shouldn't there be some independence? As an active military officer, that raises some problems, doesn't it?

HADLEY: Well, anyone who knows Mike Hayden knows he is a patriot and a professional, and is an independent thinker. He has been not -- has not been shy about expressing his views. And if you look at the process of intelligence reform, I think you will discover that he was very outspoken in what he thought was required of intelligence reform at the time of -- he was head of the National Security Agency. And his views were quite independent. They didn't accord with either what, at the time, Secretary Rumsfeld was talking about or others were talking about. This is a man of professionalism, of integrity and a man who's speaking his mind. He will take on that responsibility. And I think he will view himself rightly as working very closely with Ambassador Negroponte to carry out the president's agenda. But obviously, he's appointed by the president of the United States, and he will take that commission very seriously.

S. O'BRIEN: Another concern, and as you well know, the Pentagon controls the vast amount of intelligence. So a concern would be, well, a general who's running the CIA, wouldn't that kind of give a military perspective to intelligence that really should be independent, independent even of the Pentagon?

HADLEY: Well, the point about General Hayden, of course, is the one that while he wears a military uniform and has had assignments in the military intelligence business, he is, as I mentioned, a man of broad experience. He has a perspective that has been shaped by assignments both in the military and outside the military.

And of course his most recent responsibility as deputy director of national intelligence has been to integrate all aspects of our intelligence, military and civilian, into a single intelligence enterprise, if you will.

We think the fact that he understands the military intelligence business is an important part of allowing him to serve that role. Because one of the challenges for the CIA is going to be to play its part in the intelligence community as a whole. So we can take the human intelligence is the Central Intelligence Agency is so intimately involved in, fuse it with the technical intelligence and the imaging intelligence into the kind of integrated projects that can give intelligence consumers what they need to know to make important policy decisions. We think it's a strength.

S. O'BRIEN: Stephen Hadley is the president's national security adviser. Thank you, sir. Appreciate your time this morning.

HADLEY: Thanks very much.


O'BRIEN: Coming up in the program, Apple versus Apple. A British judge weighs in on a trademark case that pits the beatles against Steve Jobs. How did he rule? Well, we should tell you the judge fancies his iPod. That's a clue.

Tom Cruise finding it impossible to beat the Hollywood hype over his new flick, "MI:III." Could it be all that couch jumping that left the movie short at the box office? That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: The self-proclaimed "fat man walking," due to arrive in New York City possibly as early as today. Steve Vaught (ph) -- by the way, right now, he's in Ledgewood, New Jersey, we're told. Steve Vaught started out in San Diego last year. He decided to cross country walk, would be a good way to lose weight. Ten pairs of shoes, 12 states later, Forrest Gump-style, he made his way across the country. I guess what do you do, turn around and go back the other if he's Forrest Gump, right? He's shed about 100 pounds. Not bad. So he's the skinny man walking now, or skinnier. He wants to be a spokesman for weight-loss supplements.

S. O'BRIEN: I think he's getting offers, and he says, you don't need them. Just walk.

M. O'BRIEN: There you go.

S. O'BRIEN: I think that's his story, right, because I think people are saying, wouldn't he be a great pitchman?

M. O'BRIEN: There you go, you don't need them. I misready it. That's totally wrong.

SERWER: What does he do for work?

S. O'BRIEN: Nothing really right now.

SERWER: All right. So it's not really a model that many other people can follow.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. No, the whole -- it's taken him how long?

M. O'BRIEN: Last year, since last year.

SERWER: Just take a year off and walk.

S. O'BRIEN: Not everybody can do that.

M. O'BRIEN: He's got a lot of sole. I had to do that.


S. O'BRIEN: Our top story this morning is this top Air Force general who is now going to be nominated to head up the CIA today. Already, though, the president's pick is drawing fire, even from Republicans. Were going to talk to a top GOP lawmaker who says this pick sends the wrong signal.

Plus, there's this:


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You be the judge: Which weapon is real? Which one isn't? I'm Dan Lothian in Framingham (ph), Massachusetts, where police officers are concerned about toy guns that look and feel like the real thing. I'll have that story ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.