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American Morning

Officials From Four Nations Gathering in Beirut to Discuss International Force; Terror Case; Wind Versus Water

Aired August 16, 2006 - 06:30   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening this morning, the Mideast cease-fire is holding. Diplomats from France and other countries headed to Beirut. They're going to try to work out details of an international peacekeeping force.
In Britain, a hearing for 22 arrested in that alleged plot to blow up flights to the U.S. Investigators will tell a judge why they think the men should be kept in custody without being charged.

The city of New York today expected to release more than 1,600 emergency calls from 9/11. They include calls from firefighters who died during the attacks.

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Carol Costello, in for Soledad.

O'BRIEN: The Middle East truce holding steady for a third day now. The United Nations planning to send in an advanced force of about 3,500 troops to southern Lebanon in about two weeks. And in Beirut, officials from four nations gathering to discuss the broad outlines of an international force.

Anthony Mills joining us live from Beirut with more -- Anthony.


That's right, the foreign ministers of France, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia are scheduled to meet with Lebanon's prime minister, Fouad Siniora, here in the capital. They will be talking about the composition of that multinational United Nation's force that is supposed to be heading down south to really take control of that area from the Hezbollah guerrillas and push them back behind the Litani River. That's about 15 miles north of the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Now, this is a sensitive topic, Miles, because in the past, in the '80s, when a multinational force came into Lebanon to keep the peace, it was not long before it was perceived to be taking sides. And France and the United States, to name two nations involved in that multinational effort, withdrew their troops after suffering dozens and dozens of deaths in attacks on military barracks here.

So, it's a sensitive topic. The last thing a country like France wants to have its troops seem to be defending a foreign interest and to possibly come face to face in a violent manner with angry Hezbollah militants -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Or worse, become sitting ducks, as they did in the course of this 34-day war. Of course, we all remember the loss of four peacekeepers in this midst of all this, or part of the UNIFIL force.

Let's talk about one more lingering issue, Anthony, and that is the fact that Israel still has a blockade, in effect, on Lebanon. That issue needs to be dealt with, doesn't it?

MILLS: It does, Miles. It's, in a sense, in the last few days, almost taken a back burner position. There's been a lot of talk obviously about this multinational force that needs to go down to the south in conjunction with a Lebanese army troops, 15,000 of them. But the blockade remains in place. The airport is still closed, the seaports are still being blockaded.

And we understand that the French foreign minister, Philipe Douste-Blazy, will also be discussing the issue of the blockade with the Lebanese prime minister, Fouad Siniora. It's especially important for aid reasons, getting aid in, also gasoline fuel to power generators for the hospitals, a variety of humanitarian reasons as well -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Anthony Mills in Beirut.

Thank you -- Carol.

COSTELLO: We will know more today about the alleged plot to blow up a planes over the United States. Attorneys will be in a London courtroom today to present more evidence. They want a judge to rule police can continue to hold those suspects without charging them with anything.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick is live in London to tell us more.

Hello, Deborah.


Well, what we do know is that investigators are telling CNN that not all of those who are currently in custody will be charged. That said, investigators do want to hold them as long as they can, the maximum, 28 days, if, in fact, they're able to.

Today is really just a formality for 23 of the people. What prosecutors must do is they must tell a judge that there is relevant evidence so that they can continue to remain in custody. They don't necessarily have to present any of the evidence, they simply have to say that it is there, and by keeping them for questioning, they'll develop more leads -- Carol.

COSTELLO: We'll know more about that evidence, though. I know that the police have been searching numerous homes. Have they found any bomb-making material? FEYERICK: Well, they haven't found any bombs, per se. There are two main areas of interest. One of those is a home, and police built sort of a wooden structure around it, they've covered the whole area.

Investigators are telling CNN that they found a lot of household chemicals, which, if mixed together, could perhaps form some sort of an explosive. So all that now is undergoing testing.

Another area of particular interest is woods here in this area. They're interested in that, according to investigators, to test for explosive material. What that means is that they think there's a possibility that perhaps some of the devices perhaps might have been tested in the woods. But, again, that's a lot of speculation on that.

And so, good pieces of evidence, it seems right now, though, Carol, that's the electronic surveillance. Specifically, audiotapes and videotapes. Investigators do have those, and so that could also be key.

COSTELLO: Deborah Feyerick, live in London this morning.


O'BRIEN: Happening "In America," in Minnesota, doctors at the Mayo Clinic examining former president Gerald Ford. Mr. Ford admitted yesterday for testing and evaluation. No further details as to why he was admitted. A family friend said he just saw Mr. Ford and said he seemed to be doing well.

In Nevada, a chip off the old peanut. Jack Carter, son of former president Jimmy Carter, celebrating a primary win there. The younger Carter won the Democratic nomination to face Republican senator John Ensign in Nevada this November.

In Sarasota, Florida, this morning, parents of dozens of high school students are keeping an eye on their children for signs of mercury poisoning. It comes after liquid mercury leaked from a student's backpack on to a classroom table. About 75 students and faculty treated for exposure. About a third of them had some level have mercury on their clothes.

In Wyoming, a state of emergency declared because of wind-whipped fires. This one at the Casper Mountain. The fire has taken a turn down the face of the mountain. It's increased to about 7,000 acres. Police have evacuated about 200 homes.

Residents in Hatch, New Mexico, waking up this morning in evacuation centers. Their homes are flooded out. A flashflood watch in effect for much of New Mexico right now. Schools in Hatch are closed through Thursday because of the bad weather.

Wind versus water. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we told you about hundreds of families who thought the damage to their home was covered by insurance, only to find out it was not. A little loophole in their policy. Now, many of them sued. And now there's a verdict in one such case. CNN's Sean Callebs reports from Pascagoula, Mississippi.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wind versus waters is the passionate issue for thousands of homeowners along the Gulf Coast. Now, the first of what will be a number of legal cases has been resolved.

This one in federal court in Gulfport, Mississippi. It involved the Leonards, Paul and Julie, who live here in the town of Pascagoula. The ground floor of their home was simply washed away by Hurricane Katrina. They thought they were covered by hurricane insurance, but Nationwide said, no, that isn't the case. There was a flood exclusion clause.

So, they hired famed attorney Dickie Scruggs, who took on and beat big tobacco in the '90s, to handle the case. Well, when the ruling came down, both sides claimed victory.

The Leonards, because the judge in this case said the plaintiffs did win. However, the Leonards were seeking $130,000 in damage. The judge awarded 1,222.

Nationwide says they won because it was simply a small amount that they have to pay. However, the significance in this case, there was a clause that insurance companies have leaned on in the past, that if any floodwater damage to a home during a hurricane, they said they weren't obligated for the damage.

That's not the case now, according to this judge, and that's what Scruggs is going to build on, and that's what we're going to hear a lot about in the future.

Sean Callebs, CNN, in Pascagoula, Mississippi.


COSTELLO: Jindal delivers. It could be a new campaign slogan for the Louisiana congressman, Bobby Jindal. But this one is about obstetrics and not politics.

His wife and newborn son are doing well. But things got a little hectic on Tuesday when he helped deliver a baby at home.


REP. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I am a big sister!

COSTELLO: Four-year-old Celia Jindal (ph) is enjoying the new addition to her family. Her baby's arrival early Tuesday morning caught her parents off guard. Louisiana congressman Bobby Jindal says his wife Supriya woke him up at 2:00 a.m. with labor pains and a surprise announcement.

JINDAL: I hear her yelling. We were in our bedroom -- in our bathroom. I hear her yelling to me, saying, "The baby's coming now!" And literally, the next thing I saw was my child's head about to appear.

COSTELLO: Jindal called 911, but the baby arrived before the ambulance.

JINDAL: I gathered some towels, I did all those things they tell you're supposed to do. I offered her ice, breathed with her, did all those things. After several screams and several excruciating minutes -- I'm sure it was a lot longer for her than me -- my wife delivered a beautiful healthy baby boy.

COSTELLO: Slade Ryan Jindal weighed in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces.

Jindal told reporters he once considered a medical career.

JINDAL: I did apply to medical school and put it off, and kept thinking I was going to go. To my father's regret, I never did go.

COSTELLO: But having seen his wife give birth twice before, well, it was enough to help Jindal complete his overnight delivery.

JINDAL: We were very blessed it was not an extremely complicated birth. My wife did all the work. I mean, I really -- my job was to just make sure that the baby didn't get entangled in the umbilical cord. The baby came out smoothly. He was breathing.

One of the things I found out at the hospital, something I've never done before, I'm actually going to have to sign the birth certificate as the delivering physician.


COSTELLO: That's pretty cool, isn't it?

Slade is the Jindals' third child. Along with 4-year-old Celia (ph), they have a 2-year-old son named Sean (ph).

So, Chad, you've had a child already. Are you ready to deliver one at home now?


O'BRIEN: What are you supposed to do, boil water, right?

MYERS: That's it.

O'BRIEN: Don't you boil water? I've never understood why.

MYERS: Well, tear sheets and boil water.

COSTELLO: To sterilize whatever you're going to use.

O'BRIEN: So boil water. They always say that.

COSTELLO: I don't understand the ice thing. What... O'BRIEN: I have never done this.

MYERS: Put it on the forehead, keep the mom cool.

COSTELLO: See, you could do it, Chad.

MYERS: No thank you. Did it once.


COSTELLO: Thank you, Chad.

Lots of baby stories for you this morning. Still to come, a pregnant princess. Japan's royal family waits and watches, but there are complications. We'll have a report for you from Tokyo.

O'BRIEN: Plus the angst in looking for the truth. That's Tom Kean. He's the man who led the investigation into the 9/11 attacks.

I went down to Ground Zero with him yesterday. It was an emotional talk, and he's an angry man.

We'll tell you why.


O'BRIEN: Here's a look at how stories CNN correspondents around the world are covering things today.



Iran and Syria presenting a united front. Both their presidents speaking within hours of each other yesterday, both of them saying Hezbollah has won the war, both of them saying Israel, along with the U.S. and Britain, had failed.

The Syrian president saying he expects no peace in the region now. The Iranian president saying that the U.S. administration and some have spoken of a plan for a "new Middle East." Well, that, he says, will only succeed without U.S. and British domination.

No sign from the Iranian president that the country would suspend its uranium enrichment ahead of a U.N. Security Council deadline to do so by the end of the month. Instead, both countries seem to be, in their minds, growing stronger. Neither president said the battle had really come an end. Instead, that Hezbollah and the broader resistance would go on.



HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another car bomb hit a busy marketplace in Baghdad, killing at least nine people and wounding 24. This, as the Iraqi Health Ministry announced the morgue in Baghdad received 1,850 bodies in the month of July, up from 1,350 in the month of June.

A busy bridge connecting Baghdad's southern suburbs with the provinces to the south was damaged during that explosion. That bridge had been destroyed by Saddam Hussein's military regime to prevent U.S. troops from entering the capital during the ground war.



ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Atika Shubert, in Tokyo, where Japan's Princess Kiko has been admitted to a maternity hospital. The imperial household agency says she is in good health, but to avoid any potential complications, she will stay at the hospital until her delivery date next month.

Japanese are watching her every move to find out if the new addition is a boy or a girl. A boy would be heir to the thrown, third in line to become emperor of Japan. And it's an issue of national importance. The imperial family has not produced a male heir since 1965.


O'BRIEN: For more on these or any of our top stories, for that matter, we invite you to head to our Web site. You know where it is by now, -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Still to come on AMERICAN MORNING, hundreds of emergency calls made during the 9/11 terror attacks are being released to the public today.

And inside the 9/11 Commission. Former co-chair Tom Kean speaks out about what went on behind the scenes of the investigation.

Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: It's now nearly five years since 9/11, and the man who led the investigation into how the government dropped the ball in the run-up to the attack is angry. Former New Jersey governor Tom Kean is angry the Congress has embraced only just a few of the 41 recommendations for reform from his 9/11 Commission.

He's out with a new book which takes you inside that commission. It's called "Without Precedent." It's a good read. In it, Kean talks about the commission's frustrations and failures, as well as successes.

I met him yesterday at Ground Zero.


O'BRIEN: It hasn't happened for five years. We don't have another hole like this, thank god.

Why not? Is it just in spite of our political ineptitude, or are we just lucky? Or what's happening?

TOM KEAN, FMR. 9/11 COMMISSIONER: No. I think we disrupted some plots. We got great evidence. And thank god for MI-5 and the British -- British service...


KEAN: ... because they did what we have not been very successful doing. They got a mole into the operation and were able to disrupt it and find out about it, and the rest of the people responsible. If not, that could have -- that could have been 4,000 or 5,000 innocent people could have died.

I mean, we're not as safe as we should be. There are still glaring gaps in our security that should be closed. And our 41 recommendations are ways to close them, and the Congress and the administration still haven't done enough to implement a number of them.

The frustrating thing is, there's nobody who says our recommendations aren't right. You won't find a Republican or Democrat running for office this year who doesn't say, "Oh, I'm all for the 9/11 Commission's recommendations." But they don't do them.

And there are a number of other things. I mean, if you told me that five years after 9/11 we're giving out all this national security money and not doing it on the basis of who's the greatest risk, just doing it on the basis of what congressman can get what for his district, that's crazy. I mean, are we nuts not to take the areas of greatest vulnerability, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, and recognize that's where bin Laden wants to hit and those are the areas we've got to help with their security?

I mean, we've got to set the priority and say these things have got to happen. They're got to happen now, because the safety of American people is more important than anything else you're doing. Say that to the Congress and say that to the president.


O'BRIEN: You'll hear much more from Kean in our special coverage on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. We'll take you inside the attack and the indelible mark it left behind with insights from all the key people.

A short break. Carrie Lee "Minding Your Business" next.

Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: All right. Quick, think of a hotspot, New York, London, Paris. Mountain View? Mountain View?

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mountain View, California.


O'BRIEN: Truly a hotspot. Tell us about it.

LEE: That's right. Starting today -- well, this is Google's hometown. So, starting today, Google is letting everyone in the town gain Internet access for free. So, a couple of other places have done this, but Google's plan is expected to be the largest U.S. city with totally free Internet access for residents.

Now, they have invested about a million dollars to do this. Well, Google has $10 billion in cash, so really a drop in the bucket for the company.

About 72,000 people do reside in Mountain View. It's about 35 miles south of San Francisco.

Prior to this, St. Cloud, Florida, which is a suburb of Orlando, population about 28,000 was believed to be the biggest area with free Internet access. But starting today that will be no more.


O'BRIEN: Mountain View is just -- it's about 90 percent geek there. You know?

LEE: Silicon Valley.

O'BRIEN: They're going to -- they're going to bring that network down, aren't they? They say it's robust.

LEE: A lot of money there, but, hey, giving it away for free, anyway.

O'BRIEN: I hope they have a robust network.

LEE: Yes. So starting that today.

Now, "New York Times" reporting, though, Google has no plans to roll out something like this nationwide, although they are negotiating with the city of San Francisco to do something similar. Probably not going to be free there. But, you know, cable, telephone companies, companies like Google, all sort of battling for access here for networks.

O'BRIEN: Probably hard to make a buck on hotspots, I would think.

LEE: Yes, but that's not really what it's about for Google.

O'BRIEN: Right.

LEE: I think in this case it's more about PR.

COSTELLO: It's about kindness.


LEE: And advertising, Carol. Never forget that. An ulterior motive.

O'BRIEN: I think they just got their million dollar's worth just now, you know?

LEE: Exactly, right.

OK. CBS television starting to show several episodes of new and returning primetime shows for free on the Internet. The second network to do so.

They already saw some downloads. Well, starting next month they'll be streaming episodes of a new show called "Jericho." Also, returning shows like the "CSI" series. And most of these shows will be available the day after they appear on television.

They will have some short ads. Shorter than on television. But there you go.

O'BRIEN: CBS really leading the way in this realm, aren't they?

LEE: Well, ABC started to do it, four shows, including "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" earlier this year. But now CBS doing it, too.

O'BRIEN: All right. Great.

Thanks, Carrie.


COSTELLO: Let's head to Atlanta to check in with Chad.

MYERS: Good morning, Carol.


MYERS: The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

O'BRIEN: Plans for a peacekeeping force coalescing today in Lebanon, we hope.

COSTELLO: Katrina victims see reason to hope, even as a judge rules that an insurance company does not have to play their full claim.

The Abu Ghraib whistleblower tells his story. We'll hear why he has to live in hiding.

O'BRIEN: And the planets will realign today, people. Will Pluto be one of the nine, or one of the 12? Or could there be 53?

COSTELLO: Hey, Pluto should just be grateful it remains a planet.

O'BRIEN: Oh, maybe so.

That's ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

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

COSTELLO: And I'm Carol Costello, in for Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Into the breach. The first of about 15,000 Lebanese army troops could begin moving into southern Lebanon within hours.

In Beirut, meanwhile, discussions are going on right now, or will be soon, about the makeup of an international force to help secure southern Lebanon after Israel completes its pullout.