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American Morning

Conversation with Madeleine Albright

Aired June 22, 2006 - 07:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Between Israel's prime minister and the Palestinian president. The prime minister apologizing for recent Israeli air strikes on Palestinian civilians. The two plan to meet again in the coming weeks.
And in just about two and a half hours, the U.S. will face off against Ghana in the World Cup. The Americans have to win to have any chance of advancing.

Good morning, welcome back, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: I'm John Roberts in for Miles O'Brien this week. Good Thursday morning to you.

O'BRIEN: President Bush, as we mentioned, is in Budapest. The president, of course, is trying to mend fences, in many ways, with his European allies. Trying to polish the negative image, frankly, of the U.S. Overseas. Joining us this morning to talk about all that is the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Nice to see you, ma'am. Thank you for being with us. We certainly appreciate it.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FMR. U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Great to be with you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much. Let's first talk about the president in Vienna yesterday, when he was at this news conference. He very much talked about how they had some unity at their meeting. What do you -- especially on the issues of Iran, especially on the issue of North Korea -- what do you make of the success or lack thereof, maybe in your mind, of that meeting?

ALBRIGHT: Well, from what I've read, I think it was a pretty good meeting, because, in fact, it is important to get support on Iran and North Korea from the Europeans.

The Europeans have been dealing with the Iran issue for a long time by themselves, and one of the things that I think has been an important step forward, that some of us have suggested, is that the United States become more involved in those talks, and the ideas that Secretary Rice presented, in terms of putting this package to the Iranians was a big step forward that the Europeans supported.

So I was very pleased to see greater accord, because for me, the trans-Atlantic relationship is an essential one. And I'm glad that the president made that quite clear. O'BRIEN: There are two colleagues of your colleagues from the Clinton administration, who wrote in "The Washington Post" today that there should be a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. They basically say, if North Korea persists in launch preparations, the U.S. should make it clear that they're going to blow that missile up on the launch pad. Would you agree with that strategy?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I have to say this, that the North Korean situation has been very dangerous. It's something I've been saying now for the last five years. When we left office, we were in the middle of negotiations with the North Koreans. There was a missile moratorium.

And the Bush administration paid no attention to North Korea for this time. And the signals about the war in Iraq, I think, have sent the very worst signals to North Korea. There's no question that a launch of a missile that could possibly carry a nuclear warhead to the United States is very dangerous, and nobody should take a force idea off the table.

Diplomacy here has not been followed out. And I think that we are in a very dangerous situation. And the North Koreans have to understand that this is a very serious issue as far as the United States is concerned. And we can't take this kind of an option off the table.

O'BRIEN: Does that mean you support a pre-emptive strike?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I would like to make sure that we could continue to have some kind of way to get them off this perch, but we can not afford to have a nuclear armed potential strike against the United States. And this article also says that the ABM version that this administration has could not stop this. So I think that this is an option that has to be considered.

I hope very much that the North Koreans get the message, that this is an unacceptable thing for them to do, to launch this missile.

O'BRIEN: There was a reporter at this news conference that followed the president's meetings yesterday. And the reporter, who was from Vienna said this. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got Iran's nuclear program, you've got North Korea, yet most Europeans consider the United States the biggest threat to global stability. Do you have any regrets about that?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's absurd. My statement is, the United States is a -- we'll defend ourselves, but at same tame time, we're actively working with our partners to spread peace and democracy.


O'BRIEN: What do you make of the contention? ALBRIGHT: First of all, I agree with the president that it's absurd. But having been in Europe a number of times in the last few weeks, I can assure you that people do feel that the United States' image and what we're doing is not in the direction that they think leads to peace. And when I met with the president in January, I had made a very clear point about the fact that our image abroad has been seriously damaged.

Our relation -- it isn't just our image. Our relationships with the rest of the world are in very bad shape because we are not fully explaining what we're doing. But I agree with the president that the way that that question was phrased is absurd.

But there is no question that the United States is regarded as out of control in the world because we do not consult sufficiently with our partners about what we need to do. And then, when we need their help, it's much harder to come by.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a quick question about the up-coming mid-term elections. The Democrats have two plans about getting out of Iraq. Is there going to be a problem because they don't seem to have a united front on this issue, that eventually is going to alienate voters in and of itself, and that's going to be a big problem come November?

ALBRIGHT: I don't think so. You know, so much is being made of the Democrats being divided. I don't see it that way. I think that what is happening here is all Democrats want to figure out how to end this war.

This was a war of choice, not of necessity. More than 2500 Americans have died, and thousands have been injured. Everybody wants our troops to come home.

O'BRIEN: But when you have two plans it sends a message, even to people who say, okay, they'd be happy to have the U.S. troops out. But we have two plans that, sends a message like wow, they don't really necessarily see eye-to-eye with each other on how to do this.

ALBRIGHT: No, they're saying that it has -- that they have to figure out a way to come home. Both ideas, frankly, say that the American presence there has to be drawn down. It's better to have some discussion about it than to be where the administration is, which is following blindly on a course that isn't leading in the right direction.

I am very troubled by the fact that the administration continues to live in a parallel universe, where they are seeing that things are going well in Iraq, when in fact, there are very serious problems. And I applaud the Democrats for having a discussion about something that is affecting our troops, obviously, our people, and I think that a discussion is good. And I personally happen to not be for a date certain.

I do think, however, that there needs to be a way to redeploy our troops and to let it be clear. And I've said this so many times. We can not have permanent presence there. And so we have to figure out a way that we are both the solution in Iraq, and not the problem; that we have to figure out a way to have Iraq take care of its own security.

So, I applaud the debate that's going on, and the problem is that the Republicans have no plan. But this should not be a partisan debate. We need to get out of there in an organized way so that the Iraqis can worry and take care of their own country.

And Soledad, what we need -- and I hope the president talked about this -- there has to be international support for training the Iraqis themselves and also providing help for the reconstruction of Iraq. It's ridiculous that most Iraqis do not yet have not only security, but no electricity or a way to function.

O'BRIEN: Madeleine Albright, we are out of time. She is, of course, the former secretary of State. Thanks for talking with us.

ALBRIGHT: Thanks, Soledad.

ROBERTS: Thirty-eight minutes after the hour now.

Not far from downtown New Orleans, there is a dock yard has been building ships for decades. Its current project, a billion-dollar Navy warship, has extra special meaning for the workers. With the story, CNN's Sean Callebs is live in New Orleans.

Good morning, Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Exactly right. Not terribly far from downtown New Orleans, but if you look behind me, this is one of nine San Antonio class vessels. It's an amphibious assault ship. And it's still about two years away from hitting the water.

As you mentioned, this one is special, not because it has more fiber-optics inside of it than an aircraft carrier, but because of that small, little, white area right on the front of the bow. That is steel that came from the wreckage of ground zero.


TOMMY DUFRENE, CONSTRUCTION SUPERINTENDENT: Ship building is hard, hot dirty work.

CALLEBS (voice over): Extremely hot, dirty work for more than 400 folks at Northrop-Grumman's shipyard outside of New Orleans, but motivation isn't a problem. Crews just need to look at the bow of the ship, the small, white section covered by primer. It came from the remains of the World Trade Center and weighs seven and a half tons. The steel is now the centerpiece on a billion-dollar warship that dubbed the USS New York.

JOHN LOTSHAW, DIRECTOR, SHIP DELIVERY: The bow stem (ph) leads the way. It's the point. The World Trade Center comes back, if you will. The people, spirit of the United States, the people of New York leading the way in the fight against terrorism.

CALLEBS: The legions, welding and working, called the 684 feet of ship The 21. It will carry close to 700 Marines. And all the equipment needed for an amphibious attack.


CALLEBS: Tony has logged 41 years here in the yard. He was set to retire a couple of years ago, but says that a chance to work on the ship with steel from ground zero was something he couldn't walk away from.

QUAGLINO: I'm one of those people that cry at the national anthem and just enjoy being American.

CALLEBS: Retirement went on hold.

QUAGLINO: I personally felt as though it was in some ways sanctified by those folks that perished on that day. And it was very symbolic that this ship would be built to their memory.

CALLEBS: Chances are, you have seen nothing like it. Make no mistake, this ship is being built to go into harm's way.

CMDR. CHRIS MERCER, U.S. NAVY PRODUCTION OFFICER: It is designed to operate very close to land. So we've put a lot of different survivability enhancements in this ship.

CALLEBS: The hull is designed to make it hard to pick up by radar, stealth-like. Attack helicopters will line the flight deck. It's still two years away from being complete and Tony Quaglino will have retired by then, but none of that seems to matter.

QUAGLINO: It's the one ship I want to remember. It's the one ship I want to tell my grandchildren that I worked on.


CALLEBS: You know, something else not lost on the people of Southeast Louisiana and the people of New York, the suffering that they both endured. One from the terrorist attack, people down here from the punishing hurricane of a year ago; people like Tony say they'll never forget that. But they say once this ship hits the water, John, that's something they won't forget either.

ROBERTS: So, Sean, they had put that metal from the world trade center right there, what they call the bow, the part that slices the water?

CALLEBS: Exactly. That is the part -- it is the strongest part of the ship. It is a part that cuts through the water. It is the signature of this ship, and it is special.

ROBERTS: Interesting symbology. Sean, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, cyber safety for kids. sets up some new rules. We'll ask the site's security chief what they're doing.

We're also talking about safe driving for teens this morning. We'll ask the AAA what you can do to make sure your children are safe on the road.

And in our health series, for people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, we're going to take a look at the signs of depression as you get older. One woman tells us about her battle, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: It's now 44 minutes after the hour. As we first told you about on Wednesday, is taking steps to make it a safer space, with new rules to protect teens from online predators.

Myspace and similar sites, according to critics, have become magnets for people who prey on underage users. The company is hosting a conference today in Washington on the security challenges presented by social networking websites.

Joining us now from Washington is Hemanshu Nigam, who is the chief security officer for Myspace, and Ernie Allen, who is the president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Good morning to both of you. Thanks for being with us.



ROBERTS: Mr. Nigam, let me start with you, Mr. Nigam. Do sexual predators use Myspace to go trolling for minors?

NIGAM: As in the offline world, there are dangers online as well. And we are very pleased to be here today and we thank Ernie Allen for calling a dialogue on social networking.

There's millions of people using the site in a nice, good, healthy way, communicating with each other in America and around the world. Unfortunately, like in the offline world, there are those who are abusing it. And we're here to find ways to solve those problems.

ROBERTS: So is that a yes, in answer to my question?

NIGAM: It's yes, as it is in the offline world. There are problems online in the internet community overall. And we have to take those challenges head-on, and that's why we're pleased to be engaging in a dialogue with experts to help find those problems and find those solutions.

ROBERTS: All right. So if there is a problem, what steps are you taking to combat the problem there on

NIGAM: Two things that we did yesterday is we announced two very important changes in our site. One is for every member on our site, you can set your profile to private. Secondly, if you're a younger member on our site, a 14- or a 15-year-old, you can also now no longer be contacted by anyone who is over the age of 18, unless they actually know who you are.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, it sounds good in theory, but in practice this morning, one of our associated producers created an account on saying she was an 18-year-old, so therefore it would appear that a young person could present a profile as being someone older. And I created a profile, and here's the results here saying that I'm a 15-year-old boy there. There were no checks and balances. So does this work?

NIGAM: Actually, the site -- the announcements we're making are going live next week, so you are just a few days earlier. But we do have restrictions already. When you set up your site as a 14- or 15- year-old, you will have seen our safety tips to use, saying learn about the rules that apply offline to the online world: Don't talk to strangers.

ROBERTS: But, Mr. Nigam, are you going to verify people's ages? And how do you do that?

NIGAM: You ask a great question. Unfortunately, there is no technology, national, or system in this country, or around the world that allows us to verify, not actually the age -- and what you're saying is the identity of our members on line. This is --

ROBERTS: So Ernie Allen, if there is no way to verify a person's age, is this going to work?

ALLEN: Well, we think, John, this is a complex problem. What we're trying to do is bring together law enforcement, public leaders, industry leaders, advocates, and develop a kind of comprehensive solution.

We agree with Hemanshu (ph), that social networking is here to stay. Millions of Americans are using it responsibly. What we want to do is make sure everything appropriate is in place to identify and deal with those people who are using it irresponsibly and targeting kids.

ROBERTS: Right. In response to these new measures, Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, and Connecticut has seen their fair share of cases involving online social networking websites. He said these are baby steps, when what's really needed here are giant strides.

ALLEN: Well, that's exactly why we're having this discussion today. General Blumenthal is going to be here with us. We've invited the strongest critics and advocates, as well as those who are proponents and supporters. And what we hope is together, with industry and law enforcement, and the government and advocacy groups, we can develop the strategies that really work. That's the goal of today's meeting.

ROBERTS: Mr. Nigam, let me answer there, because we've been pretty tough on you this morning. Do parents play a role in all of this? Do parents have some sort of role in monitoring what their children do online? And the overall question, too, the overall arching question with that is, can they monitor 24 hours a day what their children are doing online?

NIGAM: Well, parents play a very, very important role. Just like they do in the offline world. I have four children myself. And every day I teach them about safety offline. When my daughter crosses the street, look both ways. And I teach her about not talking to strangers.

Parents have the same role to bring that offline safety dialogue into the online world. And if they do that, they're going to raise their children in a digital age where by natural learning, they will be doing things that are safe online, as they do every single day offline.

ALLEN: Right.

ROBERTS: All right, Hemanshu Nigam, the chief security officer for Myspace, and as well, Ernie Allen, from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

We should point out, too, Mr. Nigam, you have a wealth of experience in this area you are a former prosecutor who dealt with child exploitation issues, so we wish you, as parents, all the best in trying to get a handle on this situation. Thanks again.


O'BRIEN: Let's take you live now to Budapest, Hungary, where the president just moments ago laid a wreath. He is honoring Hungarian democracy and commemorating, through his remarks today and through his meetings, and also the laying of the wreath, the 1956 uprising against Soviet rule. Thirty-five years, of course, as I mentioned earlier, to actually oust the Soviets. That is what the president's doing today. We've been following his trip live here on CNN.

Business news is coming up next. Good morning, Andy.


Does a move by drug giant Merck signal a coming price war? And if so, how much money could you, the consumer, save? Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Andy, thank you.

Also ahead, our health series. For those of us in our 30s, 40s and 50s, we're going to take a look at how to spot the signs of depression as you get older. Meet a woman who fought the illness for decades before she finally got relief. Her story's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: There's a new battle in the war between brand name drugs and generic drugs. Andy's got a look at that as he is "Minding Your Business", this morning.

Good morning.

SERWER: Good morning, Soledad.

Everyone knows that generic drugs cost less than branded drugs, but that may not be the case in the future. According to published reports, Merck will be offering it's cholesterol fighting drug, Zocor, at lower prices than generics to managed care companies.

This is a drug, Zocor, that goes off patent tomorrow, on Friday. And it is doing this, obviously, to hold onto market share. WellPoint, the managed care company, says it will be offering Zocor at $10 for 30 days of this drug. That's a pretty good price. This would be by mail for -- it's through the mail, for its members. And that is the same price or lower than generics.

It's going to put a lot of pressure on generic drug-makers. Why are they in business then, if these drug companies can price their branded drugs at those prices?

O'BRIEN: It's really the strategy. Because this is the problem with the drug companies, they get market share, they get all the money.

SERWER: Right.

O'BRIEN: And they plow that money they save back into R&D.

SERWER: That's right.

O'BRIEN: Then the generics come along and basically take the market share from them. But if they can somehow keep the market -- I guess it's, we'll make less money, but we'll have a greater market share, equals we can keep doing business.

SERWER: Right. We can keep making the same amount of profit by having more sales. You know, it shows, perhaps, just how big the markup was on these branded drugs that we were paying, you know, ordinary prices for at pharmacies.

O'BRIEN: Oh, yeah.

SERWER: There were huge, huge mark-ups.

O'BRIEN: The difference between generic and the regular drugs is gigantic.

SERWER: Orders of magnitude, as they say.

O'BRIEN: Oh my, God. How interesting.

SERWER: All right. I think we're going to leave it at that. O'BRIEN: All right. What do you have coming up?

SERWER: Coming up we have a story about a couple of big-named CEO, one the new Treasury secretary. What's he going to do with all of his Goldman Sachs stock? That will be Hank Paulson, who is the Treasury secretary in waiting --

O'BRIEN: He's got a lot.

SERWER: Yes. He has a lot. (INAUDIBLE) And then Larry Ellison, I'm going to talk about him, the CEO of Oracle. Ha has he Welched on a pledge to Harvard University? Interesting stuff.

O'BRIEN: It's our rich guy segment, coming up. Andy, thanks.

SERWER: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: We'll look at today's top stories also ahead right after this short break. Stay with us.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I'm Barbara Starr. Military charges now in one of the investigations in Iraq. I'll have details, coming up.

DANA BASH, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dana Bash on Capitol Hill where Democrats are united in calling the Bush Iraq policy failed, but divided on a key question of how to fix it. How it will play in November's elections, stay tuned for more on that.

O'BRIEN: An Al Aqaeda call to action in Afghanistan. The terror group's number two talks directly to the Taliban.

ROBERTS: A deadly shooting at a federal women's prison over an alleged sex for drugs ring that was led by prison guards.

O'BRIEN: And strong winds could again start pushing Arizona wildfires closer to hundreds of homes. Firefighters aren't giving up. Those stories, all ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning, welcome, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

ROBERTS: I'm John Roberts, in this week for Miles O'Brien. One more day to go and then it's Friday and then the weekend.

O'BRIEN: Wow, you sound like a guy who is working a lot of double shifts.