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American Morning

Helicopter Crash, Ambush in Iraq; Fort Dix Suspects; Iran Wants More Talks With U.S.

Aired May 29, 2007 - 06:58   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): AMERICAN MORNING exclusive. The first-ever interview with the store clerk who brought down the Fort Dix terror plot, he joins us live in the studio.

Clean House? A new push to get the Capitol to go green, and the push back from senators demanding to keep the Capitol Hill coal plant puffing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's as if Tony Soprano had a seat in the Senate. They're saying this plant must stay alive.

CHETRY: Plus, life savers. Two hundred people pulled from dangerous waters. Their dramatic day at the beach on this AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: And thanks so much for joining us. It is Tuesday, May 29th.

I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: And I'm John Roberts.

Good morning to you.

Stories "On Our Radar" this morning.

Those wayward whales on the move again in California. Researchers who have been trying to coax them into open water are hoping that they had more -- hope that they head further downstream, further toward that open water today. It looks like they may be finally getting the message.

Also, some encouraging signs for the injured baby whale. Apparently looking a little bit more alert and a little bit better health-wise than the baby has been in the last few days.

CHETRY: That's good news. So the antibiotics they used obviously working as well.

We'll continue to track their progress.

Also, a fall from grace, I guess you can call it, at the Miss Universe competition. This is Miss USA. Ooh. And this is Miss USA slipping on those heels. But she popped up so fast. She did fall, though. It ended up costing her.

We're going to have more on the competition.

ROBERTS: Several breaking stories in Iraq right now. One of them the hostage-taking of three foreigners from the Foreign Ministry. Another one, a helicopter crash and an ambush.

Let's go right to CNN's Hugh Riminton. He's live in Baghdad.

What's the latest on this helicopter crash ambush story that we're hearing about, Hugh?

HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, a dreadful story. We're just getting confirmation of it coming through now from official sources.

It happened yesterday not far from Baquba, just to the northeast of Baghdad. Piecing it together, it happened like this: they have small helicopters here. Just two people on board. They're called Kiowa helicopters.

One of these went down. We don't know exactly why it went down. The two on board that chopper were killed.

A quick reaction force was scrambled to go to the scene to see if any rescue might be possible. As that vehicle was traveling to the scene it hit an IED, a roadside bomb. Five people, five U.S. soldiers in that vehicle were killed at the scene.

A second quick reaction force was dispatched to see what it could do. It also was ambushed. A further U.S. soldier was killed.

This happening on Memorial Day. A total eight fatalities out of this single incident. This being confirmed now by official sources -- John.

ROBERTS: Which would put the death toll for the month up above, what, a little more than 110, I think. Wouldn't it, Hugh?

RIMINTON: That's right, which makes it even worse than April. And April was worse than March. There has been a high spike in the death toll among U.S. troops in the last couple of months.

The high command has been warning of this. They're saying as they put their tactics of getting out to take the fight to the enemy, the casualty rate will go up. And that appears to be what is happening.

ROBERTS: And Hugh, what have you got on this kidnapping at the Finance Ministry? This sounds all very strange.

RIMINTON: Deeply confused. A lot of conflicting reports.

We can tell you that it is confirmed there has been a kidnapping of foreigners at a building belonging to the Ministry of Finance here in north-central Baghdad, on Palestine Street. Some confusion over the numbers of people who were taken away, the manner in which they were taken away.

Some of the reports saying that people dressed as Iraqi police went into the building and took away a group of foreigners. Conflicting reports on their nationalities. Some are saying they are Germans. We got that from one source, but we cannot confirm it to our satisfaction. Apparently experts who were working at that building. A search on for them at the morning.

And also, while we're about it, two huge car bombs across Baghdad in the last couple of hours. One of them killing at least 23 people -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Hugh Riminton in Baghdad with the latest.

And Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent, just messaged us to say that those eight deaths yesterday on Memorial Day now make the month of May the deadliest month for U.S. troops this year.

CHETRY: A little bit later we're going to be talking with the store clerk who blew the whistle on the so-called Fort Dix Six.

Coming up, meantime, there are new details on the suspects of this terror plot to attack Fort Dix.

CNN's Deb Feyerick joins us now.

And police have known many of these men, actually well before these arrests, but it was because of nuisance calls to their home by neighbors.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly. These guys were not good neighbors, by all accounts. And according to a local newspaper who went back to town hall, searched records, they had complaints about loud parties, fireworks, a business being run out of the family home in a neighborhood where you don't run a business out of your family home. So, all of these things sort of combining up to make them nuisances to their neighbors. That was one of the big problems.

Also, between the three brothers, the three Dukah (ph) brothers. They had 50 traffic citations within a 10-year period. That is a lot. So the question is, why didn't police more thoroughly investigate who these guys actually were?

CHETRY: And so what are you coming up with in terms of why that wasn't addressed?

FEYERICK: I think that's going to be a very big question, because these men were legal immigrants, they're ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia. Allegedly, they came over the Mexican border, smuggled in when they were kids.

So, with the federal crackdown on illegal immigrants, when you had all of these calls coming in, when you had all these complaints, why didn't the local police look at them a little bit more closely? And I think that's going to be the big issue. Did they drop the ball?

It's all about quality of life. It's all about looking at the broken window to see whether there's a larger crime being committed here. The fact that police had to come so many different times, the fact that there were so many driving citations against these people, why didn't they look to even check their record and say, they're not even supposed to be here?

CHETRY: Right.

FEYERICK: The feds would have done that. It wasn't done, certainly not at a local level.

CHETRY: Right. And that's -- they were talking about van loads of people coming in these cars that had no license plates and nothing was done. Very interesting.

Deb, thanks so much.

And also coming up, we're going to be talking to the video store clerk who did blow the whistle on the Fort Dix terror plot. He's going to be joining us for his first-ever interview. It's an AMERICAN MORNING exclusive happening about 25 minutes from now.

ROBERTS: Look forward to that.

President Bush is heading south today, stumping for immigration reform. He'll tour a facility in Georgia where Border Patrol agents are trained. The White House says the president's trip highlights the border security provisions in the bill that is now before the Senate. Many senators are also using this week off to gauge their constituents' support for the bill. And as we heard from Bill Bennett last hour, Republicans are hearing an earful about it from their constituents.

President Bush also set to step up pressure on Sudan to end the violence in the Darfur region. He'll make a statement from the White House in about an hour's time that we'll carry live for you. The president also announcing new economic sanctions and plans for an expanded arms embargo against Sudan. Senior officials in Sudan already this morning calling the sanctions unjustified.

Again, President Bush set to speak on the issue 8:00 a.m. this morning from the White House. Stick with CNN for live coverage of that event.

CHETRY: Well, Delta and Dawn, the mom and baby whale who ended up in the Sacramento Delta three weeks ago, making some progress, but they are now in a holding pattern. They're about 45 miles from the Pacific Ocean, where they need to be. They're in a busy part of the Sacramento River. Scientists say it's not clear why the pair seem to stop and hover around bridges. At least, though, they are in better surroundings, saltier water.


ROD MCINNIS, NATIONAL OCEANOGRAPHIC & ATMOSPHERIC ADMIN.: The key thing that's happened is that the whales are now within water that has a higher salt content than they had up in at the Rio Vista area. It's giving an opportunity for them to -- their wound to heal a little bit better.


CHETRY: And rescuers say that they are in an area where there is a lot of traffic. They're going to encounter large ships, so they're hoping they'll be able to navigate that without any further injury.

Also, some dramatic pictures this morning of extreme danger in Florida. Strong easterly winds ended up whipping up deadly rip currents all along the Atlantic coastline.

In Cocoa Beach, it was a busy day for the lifeguards on Memorial Day. They rescued more than 200 people in three hours. There were no fatalities reported yesterday, but at least two men died over the weekend, one right there in Cocoa Beach, another in Fernandina Beach. One of them drowned while trying to save his son from the current.

ROBERTS: New details right now on the earthquake that is hitting eastern Indonesia today. The epicenter was about 25 miles southeast of Labuha. That's in the Malakas (ph) Islands.

First reports measure it at a magnitude 6.0. There is no tsunami warning, though.

Indonesia lost more than 160,000 people, you'll remember, back in the December 2004 earthquake and tsunami.

Hawaii is getting almost $38 million in federal aid to recover from an earthquake last October. Most of it going to fix roads on the big island. Also on the island of Maui, a little bit further to the west.

It's something that you'll only see on CNN. Coming up, the man who blew the whistle on the plot to murder soldiers at Fort Dix sits down with us for his first-ever interview.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.


ROBERTS: More "Quick Hits" for you now.

Tens of thousands of high school athletes in Texas could face mandatory random steroid testing this fall. The legislature passed the steroid testing bill on Monday. Governor Rick Perry is expected to sign it.

And researchers say blood taken from human bird flu survivors helped to neutralize a deadly strain of the disease in laboratory mice. The Swiss study offers a promise of a new way to treat bird flu infections in people, and another potential weapon against a pandemic of avian flu.

CHETRY: American and Iranian diplomats will be meeting face to face Monday in Baghdad to test diplomatic avenues and discuss the future of Iraq. The first public senior-level talks taking place in 27 years. And now there's word that Iran actually wants a second meeting.

The U.S. has accused Iran of smuggling arms to insurgents in Iraq. Tehran continues to deny any involvement. So, how far will these talks really get either country?

Ambassador David Satterfield is a senior State Department adviser and a coordinator for Iraq. He joins us from the State Department.

Thanks so much for being with us.


CHETRY: You know, one of the questions we have is, how do you even deal with Iran when they can't even really decide what side they're on?

SATTERFIELD: Well, Kiran, the purpose of these talks is to see whether or not the Iranians are prepared to move to take positive steps, measurable, demonstrable steps, that remove the threat to our forces provided by their provision of weapons, training on those weapons to Iraqi elements. Whether Iran is prepared to see developments in Iraq that support a stable, peaceful country, rather than a country with violence, which Iran is engaged in. And we're going to judge this by actions, not by words.

CHETRY: Speaking of that, "The Wall Street Journal" editorial today saying that Iran has for nine months been in material breach of a binding U.S. resolution requiring that it suspend its enrichment programs. Yet, the State Department keeps rolling the engagement rock up the Hill, with Ambassador Crocker meeting yesterday with his Iranian counterpart.

How do you have talks about security in Iraq and ignore the 500- pound gorilla in the room when it comes to Iran?

SATTERFIELD: Well, this is not about engagement or rolling a rock up a hill. What this is about is addressing the challenges posed by Iran on several different fronts.

The United Nations Security Council has passed two Chapter 7 -- that's binding resolutions with respect to Iran's nuclear program. With respect to Iran's engagement, harmful behaviors in Iraq, we're putting them to the test. We want to see whether or not their rhetoric about support for a peaceful Iraq is matched by their actions.

CHETRY: And it's interesting, because Ambassador Crocker once again reiterated the U.S. demand that Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard stop funneling weapons and arms to not only the Shiites, but the Sunnis in Iraq. And there was no response, right? They didn't even address that.

SATTERFIELD: Well, I'm not going to get into the substance of the private exchanges that were held between the Iraqi government officials, Ambassador Crocker, and his Iranian counterpart. I will say this: we made very clear that tangible progress has to be made by Iran, that we see a common interest, or what should be a common interest, both on our part, the part of the Iraqi government, and should be on the part of the Iranian government to see a stable, peaceful, prosperous Iraq emerge.

We'll see whether or not Iran is in fact committed to those goals.

CHETRY: Right. I mean, I guess I understand the gist of what you're saying, which is that future actions will determine this. I'm wonder, though, what incentive Iran has to see a stable Iraq.

SATTERFIELD: Well, take a look at the situation Iran faces today. The United States has begun moving in a calculated, focused, deliberate fashion against its agents in Iraq who are engaged to threats to our forces. Iran is now subject to two United Nations Security Council resolutions with sanctions attached. We have increased our presence in the Arabian Gulf.

Iran has to be concerned by all of this.

CHETRY: Are they being rewarded by being given legitimacy? That, you know, here you have Ambassador Crocker sitting down to tea with their ambassador and having discussions on one hand, when on the other hand, they're flouting the wishes of the world community and refusing to abide by the resolutions at the Security Council?

SATTERFIELD: I don't believe this has anything to do with validation or legitimization for Iran or its behaviors. It has to do with putting them to the test, yet again, in a manner in which we and our Iraqi government colleagues we'll be able to see and the world will be able to see what Iran wishes to do.

CHETRY: Ambassador David Satterfield, the senior adviser, coordinator for Iraq.

Thank you for your time.


ROBERTS: Some "Quick Hits" for you now.

The body of New England Patriots' defensive end Marquise Hill was found on Monday in Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain a day after he was reported missing following a jet ski accident.

The Coast Guard says Hill and an unidentified woman fell off near the Seabrook Bridge in New Orleans. A nearby boat rescued the woman, but Hill disappeared under the water. Investigators say that neither one of them were wearing life jackets.

The Duke lacrosse team's comeback season ended up just short of a national title. The Blue Devils lost to Johns Hopkins 12-11 in the NCAA men's lacrosse championship game on Monday. This comes a little more than a year after their 2006 season was canceled following false rape charges against three of its players.

Coming up, Greg Hunter on the road, midway through his three-day drive to the beach. Would it have been cheaper to drive or to fly?

Some answers ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.


CHETRY: And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Some "Quick Hits" for you now.

He says, thanks, but no thanks. Former Senate majority leader Bill Frist taking his name out of the running for World Bank president. The Tennessee Republican's name was one of the first mentioned as a possible replacement for Paul Wolfowitz.

You may remember he resigned after a scandal involving a lucrative pay package for his girlfriend. Frist, who served two terms in the Senate, reportedly wanted a break from government work.

A rude awakening for China's former drug regulator. He was sentenced to death after being convicted of corruption and abuse of office, fired two years ago for taking almost $1 million in bribes to approve medicine that was never tested. At least 10 people died as a result.

A tribute to creation. Hundreds of people waiting to be the first inside the Creation Museum near Cincinnati. It opened yesterday. The $27 million museum tells the biblical story of creation on Earth. It even includes animotronic dinosaurs. Some of the visitors described it as a cross between a natural history museum and a biblical theme park.

ROBERTS: Lindsay Lohan is headed back to rehab, but not before one last night out on the town. Check this out.

This is what she looked like early yesterday morning, slumped over in the front seat of a car. That was less than 48 hours after police arrested her on suspicion of DUI and found cocaine in her Mercedes. Reports now say that she'll check into the Promises facility in Malibu. That's the same place that Britney Spears went. It's going to be her second stint in rehab just this year.

Walking in high heels can be tough, even for Miss USA. Rachel Smith, representing the United States in the Miss Universe pageant, slipped and fell during the evening gown competition. She was also heckled by the audience during the interview phase. But she picked herself up and finished fifth, behind the new Miss Universe, Miss Japan. CHETRY: Poor thing.

Did you see any of the pageant? They wear these really ornate costumes at the beginning. You'd think that's when the mishap would occur...

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. A lot going on, yes.

CHETRY: ... when you have, like, feathers and wings. Miss Dominican had a coral reef and two dolphins on her. I mean, she managed to stay afloat.

Anyway, it's 20 minutes past the hour now. Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business".

VELSHI: Talking about cars this morning.

Word out that Ford is thinking about unloading its Land Rover operation -- I'm sorry, not its Land Rover operation. One of its premier automotive group holdings to BMW. Ford, its premier automotive group, has Land Rover, Jaguar, Volvo, and had Aston Martin. Aston Martin has been sold now. It's looking at Volvo.

Volvo has been one of the more successful of this luxury line that Ford acquired in 1999, but that group in general has been losing money -- or has lost money in the last year. So, word is that BMW might be interested in buying Volvo over GM, which is set to lose its title as the world's biggest automaker. A title its held since the 1930s.

GM is interested now in becoming the world's greenest automaker. Toyota seem to hold that in people's minds because of the Prius and the hybrids.

This is a Volt, which GM unveiled at the auto show in Detroit earlier this year. It was never really thought of as something that was going to become a real car.

It is called Colt. It's an electrical car. Now there's some sense that GM is going to put some more effort into making this a car or something like this. Something people will buy.

GM has also focused a lot on E85 cars, on ethanol, and is working toward a complete hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The idea being they want to be first in people's minds as green, an environmentally, you know, healthy company, as well as a financially healthy company.

CHETRY: The hard part is there is still no final word on which one of those alternative fuels is the best.

VELSHI: Right. And that's exactly the point that GM is trying to make. They're working on hydrogen fuel cells. They're working on hybrid cars, plug-in electrics, ethanol, and other E85 cars.

So they're sort of thinking, we can't wait to find out what the final answer is, why not have a full portfolio out there? And that's what they're hoping to do.

CHETRY: Right.

Ali, thanks.

ROBERTS: Tragedy just outside of Miami. Some more "Quick Hits" for you.

Firefighters in south Miami-Dade, Florida, saved nearly 40 cats and five dogs from a house fire. Some of them were given masks. But despite firefighters' best efforts, six of the animals died. Investigators think that the fire started by a candle. The home hasn't had electricity since Hurricane Katrina.

A powerful storm ripping the roof right off of this stable at a horse farm in Connecticut. Witnesses say it looked like a tornado, at least. None of the horses in the stable were hurt.

He saw something, he said something, and likely saved the lives of countless U.S. soldiers. Coming up, the store clerk who blew the whistle in the Fort Dix terror plot in his first-ever interview. It's an AMERICAN MORNING exclusive coming up.

We're also hitting the road for day two of our "Gas Gauge Challenge". Greg Hunter has made his way to Greensburg, North Carolina, and is adding up the expenses -- Greg.


With the price of gas over $3 a gallon, is it obsolete to drive on vacation, or should you fly? We're on the road trying to answer that question when AMERICAN MORNING continues.


CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: And I'm John Roberts. Good to have you with us.

In just a few moments, a hero among us this morning. The man who blew the whistle on the plot to murder soldiers at Fort Dix is going to join us here live.

There he is. He'll tell his story exclusively to us, and wait until you hear what he has got to say. Pretty interesting stuff.

CHETRY: He's going to tell us exactly what he saw on those tapes that prompted him to call.

ROBERTS: Well, as much as the U.S. attorneys will allow him to tell, at least.

CHETRY: Well, he's here. So we'll ask him.

We're also following a developing story out of Baghdad this morning. Several Westerners kidnapped from Iraq's Finance Ministry. Witnesses are saying that gunmen were dressed in police uniforms, that they stormed the building and took three hostages. It's not known if the kidnapped victims are Americans or if they are Westerners of another nationality. We'll continue to follow the latest developments out of our Baghdad bureau.

Sapping new sanctions on Sudan. President Bush will make a statement from the White House in just 30 minutes. He's expected to announce an expanded arms embargo to end the violence in the Darfur region.

Senior officials in Sudan have already responded this morning, calling the sanctions "unjustified". More than 200,000 people have died during the years of fighting in Darfur, and millions more have been displaced.

President Bush will be speaking at the top of the hour live. Stay with CNN. We'll have all of that coverage.

Also, Syria announcing today that President Bashir Assad has won a seven-year term in office. There he is putting his own vote in the ballot box. Not that surprising since he ran unopposed. Assad took over the leadership of Syria on the death of his father, seven years ago.

The parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann are speaking out, releasing some heartbreaking video of their little girl. They are traveling to Rome tomorrow to meet with the pope. A team of British experts arrived in Portugal to track cell phone transmissions. They're hoping that information will help them verify the stories of staff and guests at the hotel, at the resort in Portugal where the little girl was abducted.

ROBERTS: Our next guest is a Circuit City employee who one day found himself in the middle of a terror investigation.


JODY WEIS, SPECIAL AGENT, FBI, PHILADELPHIA: There's one other person I would like to think, as Chris (ph), said, is that unsung hero, that clerk in that local store who saw a video and said, you know, somebody needs to know about this. And that's why we're here today, thanks to the courage and heroism of that individual.


ROBERTS: That was FBI Agent in Charge Jody Weis talking earlier this month about the store clerk who helped authorities foil the terror plot against Fort Dix.

That unsung hero, Brian Morgenstern, joins us this morning for an exclusive interview.

Thanks for coming in. We really appreciate it.

BRIAN MORGENSTERN, TOLD POLICE ABOUT TERROR PLOT: Oh, it's an honor to be here today.

ROBERTS: So, this whole thing goes back to January 31st of 2006. You're working there at the Circuit City in southern New Jersey. What happened then?

MORGENSTERN: Well, it's just an ordinary day for me, just like every other day. And two gentlemen came in and were interested in video conversion. They brought in an 8 millimeter tape and they want it converted to DVD.

ROBERTS: So, they gave it to you. You were going to take it, put it on your equipment, just dub it down. It seemed like a typical request you'd get several times a day probably?

MORGENSTERN: Yes, I get it all the time.

ROBERTS: Did these guys strike you as being strange in any kind of way? Did they -- did your radar go off at all?

MORGENSTERN: No, not at all. They just looked like normal people.

ROBERTS: When did your radar go off?

MORGENSTERN: Well, as far as the process goes, I start the conversion, and then I'll just usually work on something else and keep an eye on it to make sure. But I saw some stuff on the film that was disturbing, and it kind of gained my attention that way. So I started paying more attention to it.

ROBERTS: The U.S. attorney asked you not to divulge everything that was on the tape for security and investigative purposes, but what can you tell us that you saw?

MORGENSTERN: I saw men at a shooting range with handguns, rifles and what appeared to me as fully automatic weapons.

ROBERTS: And was there anything that they were doing besides shooting these weapons that gave you any kind of an indication that they might be up to no good?

MORGENSTERN: There were some things on the video, yes, but I can't really get involved into that.

ROBERTS: I think it has been revealed that they were shouting calls of jihad, holy war on the tape. After you saw the tape, what did you do?

MORGENSTERN: It was more of a moral dilemma at that point. I thought about whether or not it should be reported. I actually waited that night and weighed out my decisions. I went home. I talked to my family about it, thought their input would be very helpful on the situation. They agreed with me. The next day I went into work and told the management at the time that I was going to make the call and they supported me. Circuit City has been very supportive on this whole situation and I called the police. ROBERTS: And what happened? What did the police say when you called them?

MORGENSTERN: The police came over. They took a look at the film.

ROBERTS: So they treated this very seriously right from the start?

MORGENSTERN: Everybody has been very professional about this. They came over and they looked at the video and they stopped it at one point nd said, OK, this is serious. We need a copy.

ROBERTS: So you made a copy of it for them. The FBI came and saw you what, about a week later.

MORGENSTERN: About a week later, yes. The FBI came in and they asked me some questions. They looked at the video as well and that's about it.

ROBERTS: So what were you saying to yourself at that point? Here you've gone from seeing this tape, talking about it with your parents, suddenly you're being interviewed by the FBI.

MORGENSTERN: I figured it was pretty serious at this point. It was not your everyday occurrence. It was something out of a movie pretty much.

ROBERTS: Did they keep you in the loop as far as the investigation went in terms of what they unraveled?

MORGENSTERN: No, they did not. But I don't really think that it was their responsibility to.

ROBERTS: So when you heard that these two gentlemen who came in with this tape were then accused, a plot against Ft. Dix in which they wanted to kill as many as 100 U.S. soldiers. What went through your mind?

MORGENSTERN: What went through my mind was I was pretty shocked when I woke up that morning and saw it on the news.

ROBERTS: Did you think to yourself, oh my God, I played some role in breaking this case?

MORGENSTERN: Actually, not at first. I had the thought in the back of my mind, but the story hadn't really developed yet. So I went through my day and the official report came out from Christopher Christie (ph) saying the video clerk and that's when I realized the big picture.

ROBERTS: Did people at work at that time know that it was you who was responsible?

MORGENSTERN: A couple people at first.

ROBERTS: What did they say? MORGENSTERN: They called up and thanked me. It was pretty neat.

ROBERTS: And of course the FBI thanked you as well. You got a citation from the Mount Laurel police department you brought with you, this letter. Let me just read a little part of it. It says I personally wish to thank you for performing a deed that demonstrates a highly honorable act of civic duty. By your intervention in this incident, you most likely saved many lives and made our community a safer place. Dennis Moffett, who is the chief of police of the Mount Laurel police department. You're being hailed as a hero. How do you feel about that?

MORGENSTERN: I don't feel like a hero to be honest with you. I feel like I did the right thing, but I think the real heroes are men and women overseas and the people in our law enforcement who handled the situation.

ROBERTS: Do you have concerns for your security even now?

MORGENSTERN: There are concerns, yes. But I think that me being present is more important than my security right now at this point.

ROBERTS: Well, I think you are a shining example, Brian, of what people can do, what ordinary people can do to try to get involved. So many people sit back and do nothing. You went out there and if you played even a small role in unraveling this plot, I think everybody in this country is indebted to you. Thanks very much for coming in.

MORGENSTERN: Thanks for having me.

ROBERTS: It's a pleasure to meet you. It's an honor to meet you. Thank you very much for doing what you did. Brian Morgenstern this morning, Kiran.


Some quick hits now. An NFL player's body pulled from Lake Pontchartrain. New England Patriots defensive end Marquise Hill's body was found Monday a day after he was reported missing following a jet ski accident. The Coast Guard says Hill and an unidentified woman fell near the Seabrook bridge in New Orleans. A nearby boat rescued the woman, but Hill disappeared in the water. Investigators say they were not wearing life jackets.

Giving up the fight. Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan says she is giving up on being the face of the peace movement because it quote often puts personal egos above peace and human life. She gained fame when she camped outside of President Bush's ranch. Sheehan also said her son quote died for nothing.

Should you hit the road or head to the airport? We're going to check in with Greg Hunter as he drives to Myrtle Beach to see if the high cost of gas is making the summer road trip too expensive. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, The most news in the morning right here on CNN.


ROBERTS: Thirty eight minutes after the hour now. What to do about a controversial teacher, some more quick hits. The president of the University of Colorado recommending firing Professor Ward Churchill. Churchill called some victims of September 11th little Eichmanns (ph), comparing them to Nazi Adolf Eichmann who helped carry out the holocaust. The university says it can't fire Churchill for those comments because that would violate his right to free speech. Instead they're going after him on allegations of plagiarism.

Close call in Canada, 39 students are OK and heading back to Rhode Island after their bus flipped over south of Quebec City on Monday. The bus landed in a ditch. One of the chaperons is in a hospital in Canada and is expected to be OK.

And giving new meaning to the words drive through. Six people hurt in Harlem when a car came crashing into a Popeye's chicken. Police say the driver told them she got a leg cramp and couldn't brake in time. The driver, a passenger and four restaurant patrons were hurt. Popeyes typically doesn't have a drive through, but it does now.

CHETRY: Exactly, a leg cramp, they can get you. Time now to check in on the CNN gas gauge challenge. The national average now for gas $3.20 a gallon according to AAA. So is the family summer road trip getting too expensive? Our intrepid reporter Greg Hunter is mid-way through his three-day road trip. He started off in Columbus, Ohio and headed down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, seeing just how much it would cost to drive the 600 or so miles. Would it be cheaper to fly? Well, he's halfway there and making a stop in Greensboro, North Carolina. Greg, how long were you guys on the road yesterday?

GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, 10 hours on the road but we had some stops along the way and right now I'm in front of the Carolina theater of course in Greensboro. It's beautiful. Take a look at it. It was built in 1927 back when buildings were as much buildings as they were artwork. It's on the national register of historic places. That's your history lesson for today.

Now along to something built in 2007, our Kia minivan. It got about 19.5 miles to the gallon. Take a look at the way this thing is loaded down. It's just loaded down pretty good. If you come back here, take a look at the luggage. We're a TV crew so not only do we have luggage, but we have bags with our little mythical family. Actually it's not mythical. It's three people. It's our photo journalist Steve and my esteemed colleague and producer Roni Burke (ph) who is back there, but three people. That's what we're setting all the numbers up on.

We do have some help driving. We have technology here, atlas, new technology, we have a Garmin satellite navigation and I still got lost, operator error though. So here's what our trip looked like from Columbus, Ohio.


HUNTER: We took off with green fields, valleys, nice rolling hills, rivers. Those rolling hills turned into, big truck coming by, produce truck. Anyway, those big rolling hills turned into big mountains in West Virginia and we decided to take a little break and take a go-cart ride. Take a look. Well the go-cart ride turned into kind of bumper cars but we needed a break and after that we got back on the road, put on another 100 miles or so. We filled up with gasoline and even though it was below the national average less than $3 a gallon, it was still painful about 15.5 gallons.


HUNTER: So here's what the totals looked like on day two, miles driven 431, hours in the vehicle and that's with breaks, 10 hours in the vehicle. The next thing we have is gasoline at $46, a little painful, food $49.08, hotel, $290.90. That's two rooms for three people, then extras $24.42. That's tolls and bumper cars for a grand, excuse me, go-carts, turned into bumper cars, for a grand total of $479.66 on day two. Is it cheaper to drive or is it cheaper to fly? We'll find out tomorrow in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

CHETRY: All right, so, you showed us the map and your little tally there and we did some quick math if you were to fly instead of drive. We're going to take a look right now. The round trip fare from Columbus to Myrtle Beach, family of three connecting through Washington, that will run you about $732. So far, you're getting a slightly better bargain by driving. You may have to lose the bumper cars to make it through in day two, Greg. You think you still have enough to go?

HUNTER: I think we do, but that flying you have to add in costs of getting to the airport and parking your car and you have to have a rental car on the other side. So we'll find out. We'll do the math tomorrow at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and we'll see if it's cheaper to fly or drive the 600 miles from Columbus to Myrtle Beach.

CHETRY: I guess you have to factor things in, is your family going to pick you up at the airport once you get to Myrtle Beach or are you on your own and you got to get a rental car. All right Greg.

HUNTER: We're going to count in that we have to have a rental car.

CHETRY: OK. Have fun and we'll see you tomorrow morning. Bye Greg.

ROBERTS: Coming up now to 43 minutes after the hour. Chad Myers is in the weather center. Chad, looks like we got some extreme weather down there off the tip of Louisiana this morning.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. A lot of rain coming in, thunderstorm activity, also even into Texas, although Texas is the heaviest spots that had all the flooding over the weekend. They have dried out at least this morning. West Texas you're going to see some severe weather. The east coast of Florida you're going to see those rip currents, again, 200 swimmers had to be rescued over the weekend off the Cocoa Beach area because of rip currents there and I'll tell you what, that's a number that I haven't heard in a long time, maybe ever for one beach before they eventually closed it, closed it to swimming completely. Rain showers the computer forecast for the next 48 hours. The rain is in the plains, a very dry and drying out east coast. No relief at all. John, back to you.

ROBERTS: Thank you, Chad.

Powerful storm ripped the roof right off a stable at a Connecticut horse farm. Take a look at this. Witnesses say it looked like a tornado. None of the horses inside the stable at the time though were hurt.

A new law in Indiana requires that all mobile homes installed after July come equipped with a weather alert radio. The bill was introduced by a woman who lost her two-year-old son in a tornado back in 2005.

Coming up a contact lens solution may be causing a rare eye infection. We're paging Dr. Gupta to tell us more about it coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING, some more quick hits for you now, a possible break through in treating the deadly bird flu this morning. Researchers say the antibodies in the blood of people who got the disease and survived it can be used to cure others with bird flu. Their tests were successful on mice.

There's a rude awakening for China's former drug regulator. He was sentenced to death after being convicted of corruption and abuse of office. He was fired two years ago for taking $1 million in bribes to approve medicine that was never tested. As a result, at least 10 people died.

And testing for steroids in high school sports. Tens of thousands of students in Texas could face mandatory random steroid testing this fall. The legislature passed that bill on Monday. Governor Rick Perry is expected to sign it into law. John.

ROBERTS: A popular contact lens cleaner is being linked to a rare eye infection that could cause blindness. AMO's complete moisture plus solution is being recalled and the company is advising users to throw out anything that they might have already. We're paging Dr. Gupta now for details. Sanjay is in Atlanta this morning. Sanjay the culprit here is called acanthenoeba (ph). What exactly is it and what does it do to the eye?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a parasite John. It's kind of icky. But it's a parasite that actually is found in all sorts of different water supplies, hot tubs, drinking water, salt water, fresh water. It's this type of parasite, very rare. As you pointed out, John, a potentially very serious consequence. It is advance moisture plus. I think we have a picture of a box, as well. People can take a look at that. It's made by Advance Medical Optics. It's a voluntary recall. They found out it was seven times more likely to actually get such an infection if you are actually using this particular product, which is why the company did a voluntary recall.

ROBERTS: I wear contact lenses, Sanjay, I've used that particular solution. I also use the Bausch & Lomb Renu which was recalled in April 2006 because it had a fungus inside it that was causing eye infections. How does this stuff get into what are supposed to be sterile bottles of contact lens solution?

GUPTA: You know what's so interesting, particularly about this investigation is they don't know for sure how it got in and to be clear, they're not even sure still that it did get in. This is what's called an epidemiological study so they basically they start to see all these cases, excuse me, of this infection. They start to say, well, what do these cases all have in common? There were 39 cases and out of those, 21 of the people were actually using this particular solution. They weren't able to say for sure that the parasite, this amoeba was actually in the contact lens solution or that people got the infection, but they say that a better sense of prudence is to assume so and to get rid of it, throw away the solution, throw away the contact lenses, as well and don't forget to throw away the case, the contact lens case. That's really important because sometimes this particular parasite can sort of hang out in there.

ROBERTS: Here's the concern that a lot of people have then. Let's say that they had this or perhaps they had the Renu in the past. They've used it. What their chances that they're going to contract this infection?

GUPTA: It's very very small. It's one of those things in medicine where it's a small, small risk, but a potentially devastating consequence. So we absolutely need to pay attention. I'll give you a couple of sense of the numbers here. It's about a one to two in a million chance that you're going to get this sort of infection. The numbers do go up if you use this particular product, as it turns out, but, still, maybe five, six, seven out of a million chance, so very rare. There are certain things to sort of look out for if you've been using the solution and you have significant eye redness, eye swelling, blurriness of vision, difficulty seeing at night, that's out of proportion to what you normally have, out of proportion though that you might see with allergies for example, definitely get it checked out. Out of those 39 people, nine of them are going to need corneal transplants so they still have a risk of going blind. So small numbers, huge consequence.

ROBERTS: I guess the best advice is get to your doctor if anything is disturbed with your vision. Sanjay, thanks very much.

GUPTA: Thank you sir.

ROBERTS: And remember, every Thursday we turn to Dr. Gupta's mail bag for your questions about the medical stories that we cover. So if you've got a question for Dr. Gupta, go to and e-mail us. The good doctor will answer them here on AMERICAN MORNING on Thursday. CHETRY: And some quick hits now, an update for you on Delta and Dawn the mom and baby whale that ended up in the Sacramento delta three weeks ago. Some progress, they are now about 45 miles from the Pacific. They're stopped in a holding pattern right now in a busy part of the Sacramento River. Rescuers say they're concerned that the pair will encounter large ships. They're happy though that the whales are moving into an area that has much more salt in the water. Hopefully that will speed up the healing of their wounds.

The Duke lacrosse's team comeback season ended just a bit short of the title. The Blue Devils lost to Johns Hopkins 12-11. It was so close. The (INAUDIBLE) men's lacrosse championship game was taking place yesterday. It comes a little more than a year after their 2006 season was canceled following false rape charges against three of the players.

And some more fallout over Rosie O'Donnell's on screen face off with Elizabeth. What she's saying about her future and whether or not she's speaking to Elizabeth.

Also, this is one that even we're having a hard time believing. A huge hog in Alabama. This is the boy who was able to bag the nearly half ton beast. Is it real? Stick around. Coming up in the next hour we're going to be talk live to the 11-year-old who said he chased down and killed, let's show it -- I'm sure we have a picture of it, the humongous hog.

ROBERTS: It's bigger than that pick-up.

CHETRY: It's hiding behind a pick-up truck. We'll be right back


CHETRY: Welcome back. It is five minutes before the top of the hour. Ali Velshi is here "Minding Your Business."

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vacations. This summer's vacations are being affected by gas prices. There was a survey that was out that indicated, they talked to about 1,000 people across the country. They asked what they thought the average price of gas would be throughout the course of the summer, the average, $3.72. Those of us on the east coast were the most optimistic coming in at about $3.48. Thirty-three percent of Americans overall are changing their summer driving plans because of the price of gas.

Only 13 percent of Americans will leave the United States for their summer vacations this year. That's the lowest it's been since 2002 and that's a combination of gas prices and airline fares going up. World travel has become actually bigger. It's been growing. It's more expensive to travel. Fifty four percent of Americans will plan to visit another state in the United States. Interesting also because our dollar is low compared to other currencies so even doing something like a trip to Canada, I was just there this weekend, used to be for several years that was a good deal. Now with the U.S. dollar lower against other currencies, it is not that good of a deal. So the good news for the low American dollar and gas price, that more Americans may spend their money at home this summer. That's what it's looking.

CHETRY: Interesting. You were torn, you couldn't decide whether to go to Canada or go on the road trip with Greg Hunter, make it a foursome.

VELSHI: That would have been fun, Greg is a fun guy to travel with.

CHETRY: Yeah, especially the bumper car excursion.

VELSHI: Greg, let me know next time you're doing that.

CHETRY: Ali thanks.

ROBERTS: Some quick hits now before the top of the hour. She's done talking on "The View" and she's done talking to Elizabeth Hasselbeck but Rosie O'Donnell is not done talking. On her blog, Rosie released a video on which she talks about her tempestuous relationship with Hasselbeck.


ROSIE O'DONNELL: I can say this, I never tried harder to be friends with someone than I did with her from the get go. I don't think we ended up there anywhere close.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Perhaps you're not very compatible.

O'DONNELL: Correct which is sad.


O'DONNELL: That's all right. OK.


ROBERTS: Rosie criticized the show's staff for playing up the now famous argument by putting her and Hasselbeck in a split screen. What else are you going to do though, a wide shot?

CHETRY: I guess so, so they can watch the other two guest hosts going like this for 40 minutes as the two argued back and forth. What are you going to do?

Some quick hits now for you before the top of the hour. The second most popular video on right now is this four-foot long, 80-pound monitor lizard on the loose in Casselberry, Florida. The lizard evaded police, officers attempting to shoot at it, actually I guess hitting it twice. Residents are afraid to let their children and pets play outside until that lizard is caught. Monitor lizards are pretty dangerous. When they bite you, they can cause infection and other not so good stuff. The police officer doesn't look like he's running very fast after the lizard either.

ROBERTS: Lizard doesn't look like he's running away very fast.

The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

CHETRY: AMERICAN MORNING exclusive, the man who uncovered the plot to attack soldiers at Ft. Dix speaks out.


BRIAN MORGENSTERN: It was not your everyday occurrence. It was something out of a movie.


CHETRY: His first ever interview only on CNN.

In plain sight. New revelations about a phony Stanford student and how she duped the campus.

And hog wild. The boy who bagged 1,000-pound hog and the picture everyone is talking about. Is it the real deal? We'll talk to the young hunter on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And the big question, do we believe it. Did he really bag that hog?

ROBERTS: A lot of people apparently saw that hog. They slaughtered it. They cut its head off and mounted it, so.

CHETRY: We're going to talk to the boy responsible for that huge catch. They say they're also making 500 to 700 pounds of sausage with that hog. So, welcome, once again. It's Tuesday, May 229th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: And I'm John Roberts. Good morning to you.

Stories on our radar this morning, an AMERICAN MORNING exclusive, we're going to hear again from the Ft. Dix whistleblower. He was the guy who was given that videotape by two members of the Ft. Dix six charged with a terror plot against soldiers at Ft. Dix. When he took a look at the tape as he was dubbing it, saw some things he thought he better pass along to the authorities, being hailed now as a hero.