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Arming the Enemy?; Gas Prices Drop; Los Angeles Jails; Sentencing Celebrities: Is There a Bias?
Aired June 11, 2007 - 06:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Deadly blast. Iraqi insurgents take down a bridge. Three U.S. troops killed.
Plus, risky business. The military describes why it's arming America's enemies in Iraq.
Target: Google. New concerns about maps and photos that reveal too much. Is your privacy and the country's security at risk?
On this AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: And good morning to you. It is Monday, the 11th of June. Good to have you with us.
I'm John Roberts.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry.
Some of the stories "On Our Radar" this morning.
Paris Hilton's jailhouse visitors. Plus, a look at what the conditions are like inside of L.A. County jails.
There you see her sister, Nicky Hilton, as well as I think her ex-boyfriend, the guy on the right in the flannel, paying a visit to her after she was back in the clink with all of that media circus last week.
She's just going to serve her time quietly, John, just like you told her to do at the beginning.
ROBERTS: Gas prices are down for the first time in months. Is it a new trend or just a temporary tease? We're going to show what you the experts are saying coming up in this half hour of AMERICAN MORNING.
President Bush wraps up his eight-day European trip with a stop in Bulgaria. The president met with Bulgaria's president within the last couple of hours and spoke of America's stalled immigration reform bill. He says that the bill will be revived. President Bush heads back to Washington today, plans a visit to Capitol Hill tomorrow to lobby for the bill. CHETRY: The Senate today planning to debate and then deliver a symbolic vote of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The White House planning to ignore it. President Bush also telling reporters in Bulgaria this morning the vote has no bearing on Gonzales' future as attorney general.
Gonzales, though, taking heat for playing politics in the firing of the federal prosecutors. Well, now there are some questions about how immigration judges were chosen.
This morning's "Washington Post" reports that at least a third of the immigration judges picked by the attorney general in the last three years were loyal Republicans or White House insiders. The article goes on to say that half of them were inexperienced in immigration law.
ROBERTS: A suicide bomb collapses a major highway overpass south of Baghdad. Iraqi police say three U.S. soldiers were killed in that incident. It took rescue crew 45 minutes to clear the rubble. Bridges have become an increasingly popular bombing target for insurgents recently.
And a suicide bomb at a police building in Tikrit killed 15 people, wounding 47 more.
Some say it's bold. Others say it's flat-out reckless. The military described details over the weekend of a plan to arm Sunni insurgents and hope that they use them to fight al Qaeda, not the United States.
Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr joins us live now.
And Barbara, this is a plan that I expect could work, but it also seems like extremely risky business.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I think what you said was exactly the point -- plan, hope. They sure hope that it works, and they sure hope that what this doesn't lead to is essentially the U.S. military arming both sides in what appears to be a growing civil war inside of Iraq.
U.S. military commanders are talking about it in very broad, very general terms, that they are working with Sunni insurgents, that they are trying to offer them support to come inside the system, if you will. To possibly arm them, give them other kinds of financial aid and support.
But the question is, of course, if do you have a civil war in Iraq right now, what do they do with all this assistance? Will they eventually use it for security and stability? Or is there a risk they will use it against U.S. troops?
ROBERTS: Barbara, this seems to be an application of that old saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." The problem is determining who is friend and who is enemy, or which enemies can become friends.
Major General Rick Lynch described part of that equation yesterday. Let's take a quick listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. RICK LYNCH, 3RD INFANTRY COMMANDER: If I've got indication there's somebody out there killing our soldiers, we ain't talking to them. We are killing or capturing them. We're not -- we haven't crossed that line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So, Major General Lynch says that we are not going to talk to anybody who has attacked U.S. soldiers, but by looking at some of the articles that have been written, John Burns, from "The New York Times," who we had on about a half an hour ago, it's clear that some groups who were fighting the Americans are receiving American arms, Barbara.
STARR: Well, I think that it's going to be very difficult for U.S. commanders to really draw the distinction that General Lynch is publicly drawing. That's exactly right.
We have talked to a number of commanders about this. They say that they are not going to negotiate with units of Sunni insurgents or militia groups that have been responsible for the killing of U.S. troops. But you know, in Iraq, that's going to be very tough business to figure out.
So, it may indeed well happen. And that's going to be something very tough for the Bush administration. Certainly to explain to military families -- John.
ROBERTS: All right, Barbara. We'll keep on following that this morning, let you work your sources and get back to us with more information.
CHETRY: Well, here's some good news to wake up to this morning. The price of gas dropping. The national average now at $3.11. It's down seven cents in the last three weeks, according to the Lundberg Survey.
CNN's Stephanie Elam joins us now with more.
So, it is good, especially if you are going to be doing a lot of traveling in this busy summer season, to see them dropping.
But is it a trend?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the thing. Everyone always worries about it. Gas prices always go up when we go into the summer months. But it actually looks like we may see a little bit coming back. There was that fear of $4 a gallon for self-serve regular. Well, maybe that won't be happening.
This is according to the Lundberg Survey, which takes a look at 5,000 gas stations nationwide. And this is the first drop that we have seen since January, since that period from January to now. It was up over $1. So, if you look at that rising rate there, as you just saw on that chart, you can see that this is really something that could help give a little bit of a relief here.
CHETRY: And what are they citing as still the problem for seeing them high, the refineries once again?
ELAM: The refineries have not changed. They are still operating at just 90 percent of their capacity, as opposed to 96 percent. Blame it on fires, blame it on some other issues that they've had. But they are still limping along at this point, not really helping out there.
And case you are wondering, Chicago, they are paying the most for gas. It's actually not California this time.
At $3.61 a gallon, Jackson, Mississippi, has the cheapest at $2.61. Yesterday I was in Atlanta, and I filled up for $3.09. So, I mean...
CHETRY: Just right there is the average.
ELAM: Just right there. Right there, yes.
CHETRY: Stephanie, thanks.
ROBERTS: Paris Hilton got some visitors this weekend in jail. Her sister Nicky stopped by. So did an ex-boyfriend.
Paris is being held in the medical unit at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles.
So what are conditions like in the jails in Los Angeles County?
AMERICAN MORNING'S Chris Lawrence is there to check it all out.
Chris, obviously, nobody likes jail. But how bad is it there?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, very different for Paris, versus some of the other female inmates who are here, John.
You know, she has told her attorneys that she doesn't want to appeal her sentence. So, whatever is left of it, she probably will serve it right here in the medical ward, or where she is being held in a room by herself. She probably won't go back to the women's jail, where her experience was anything but ordinary.
LAWRENCE (voice over): Paris Hilton was immediately assigned a cell at Lynnwood Jail.
Quantrell Johnson wasn't so lucky.
QUANTRELL JOHNSON, FMR. LYNWOOD INMATE: I mean, I was down there for five days until I got a bed. Five days before I got a bed and one shower.
LAWRENCE: While Hilton was being kept isolated from other prisoners, Johnson slept on a reception center floor. Surrounded.
(on camera): Were there a lot of other women in the same room with you?
JOHNSON: In the same room. They put like maybe 35 women. It's one toilet and one little sink. And all...
LAWRENCE: In that space?
JOHNSON: In that space. And all of you guys would be crushed up in there like a sardine.
LAWRENCE (voice over): L.A. County is not supposed to hold more than 20 inmates at this reception center for more than a day. The sheriff is under federal orders to reduce overcrowding. In the past year, Lee Baca says he's had 52 other inmates with a sentence similar to Hilton's.
SHERIFF LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: And I can assure you with this policy, most likely most of the 52 didn't serve any time at all in the county jail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to Dr. Prison Radio.
LAWRENCE: Prison expert Steve Scholl (ph) has never heard of an inmate getting locked up, sent home, and brought back in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are kind of playing her as a ping pong ball.
LAWRENCE: But Baca didn't release Hilton solely due to overcrowding. He sent her home to deal with psychological problems. Inmates typically wait up to a week to see a doctor.
And Johnson says they are only let out on a stretcher for serious medical conditions.
JOHNSON: Other than that, you are in there. You are in there.
LEONARD LEVINE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I have never had a client actually get out of jail because of medical reasons. But again, it hasn't been necessary in a case like this because they already would have been out after serving a few days, just because of the overcrowding.
LAWRENCE: In fact, 32 counties in California release inmates early, with Los Angeles leading the way. In less than four years, the county has released 150,000 inmates. Some of them violent offenders.
LAWRENCE: In fact, just last month, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an $8 billion bill to relieve some of that overcrowding. It will pay for more than 50,000 new beds -- John.
ROBERTS: Chris, the tongues are wagging there in California today about some connection between Paris Hilton's grandfather, William -- Baron Hilton, and Sheriff Lee Baca, who was the fellow who ordered her to be released.
What's that all about?
LAWRENCE: Well, Paris Hilton's grandfather donated about -- donated $1,000 to Sheriff Baca's re-election campaign last year. And there's been some grumbling that because Sheriff Baca initially ordered her to serve out the rest of her time at home, there was some quid pro quo going on.
But the sheriff's spokesman says, you know, absolutely not. That was not the case. And since his campaign raised about $1 million, in that context $1,000 is pretty small.
ROBERTS: I'll tell you, though, it just raises all kinds of rumor mongering there.
Chris Lawrence in California for us this morning.
CHETRY: A space walk topping your "Quick Hits" now.
Atlantis astronauts are planning to venture out a little bit later this morning. They're going to be attaching a solar array to the International Space Station. NASA is also working on a fix for the shuttle's thermal blanket.
Take a look there. You can see where one of them peeled back on liftoff on Friday. I believe they are calling it about a four-inch separation there. It could be a danger when the shuttle returns to Earth.
Seven suspects under arrest for an assassination attempt on afghan president Hamid Karzai. Listen to this tape. You can actually hear rockets firing as Karzai was speaking yesterday.
And just an example of what life can be like there, he didn't even flinch. Went on with the speech and told the audience, "Don't be scared, nothing is happening."
No one was hurt. The Taliban is claiming responsibility. They say they fired those rockets.
Well, she was in, then out, then back in again. Is Paris Hilton getting what she deserves? Up next, how celebrities can sometimes get lighter but sometimes tougher sentences.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.
Also, Reynolds Wolf, he's in right now with your forecast.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right. We've got some strong storms across parts of the central plains, and now we're expecting some in the Northeast and perhaps the Southeast as well.
I'll give you the full story coming up right here on this AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.
We have been asking for your e-mails all morning because we have been talking about what people thought of the series finale of "Sopranos". And while overwhelmingly many were disappointed, one of our viewers, Alex from Irvine, writes something pretty interesting.
He says, "'The Sopranos' series finale is stunningly brilliant. For those few minutes, the audience is placed firmly in Tony's shoes, paranoid and constantly on the lookout. Then lights out. Like so many in the underworld, the viewer never even heard the shot."
An interesting take.
ROBERTS: It has left people talking, and maybe that's what he was trying to do.
CHETRY: That's right.
ROBERTS: Are judges guilty of bias when it comes to sentencing celebrities? The evidence from two recent cases has many people wondering if that is indeed the case.
Court TV's Savannah Guthrie is with us now from Washington.
And Savannah, the two cases we are talking about, of course, here are Paris Hilton, was the judge overly harsh on her in giving her a sentence that some people say others would have walked away from? And what about Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who got the book thrown at him?
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV: Well, unfortunately, when you look at celebrity justice, it's not always the best example of our justice system.
In the Paris case, if you talk to California lawyers, a lot of people say that sentence was really out of range with what other people accused of the exact same thing would have gotten. In the case of Scooter Libby, yes it was a tough sentence, but it was a straight across-the-board guideline sentence. So I don't think the judge did anything above and beyond what any federal judge would have done in those circumstances.
If he had given a much more lenient sentence, I think that would be a better argument for somebody getting celebrity justice in the Libby case.
ROBERTS: All right. You uttered the magic word there, "guidelines". A couple of years ago, the Supreme Court held that these sentencing guidelines could not be mandatory. That a judge should just look at them to determine what a potential person -- to a person who was going to go in jail should get.
Where is the court with all of that now?
GUTHRIE: Well, the Supreme Court actually has a case before it right now and could issue a decision as early as today, in fact, that kind of will further illuminate what that decision you talked about a couple of years ago says. Just how much discretion do federal judges have?
I mean, this conversation is really about that tension. In some ways we want uniformity. We want sentences to be consistent with common sense. The most serious crimes get the most serious sentences. But if you have something like mandatory guidelines, which we had this country in the federal system for many, many years, a lot of judges don't like that either, because there goes their discretion, and they are not able to fashion a sentence that seems fair with the very specific case before it.
ROBERTS: Now, in terms of, you know, a judge's discretion here, they only really have discretion to go down in sentencing, don't they? I mean, they can really go up above and beyond with the guidelines, it would suggest.
GUTHRIE: In the old days that absolutely was true. It was very hard to get a downward departure. But there were a lot of ways within the guidelines to have a more serious sentence if you wanted to.
But with this 2005 decision by the Supreme Court, it seemed to give the full discretion back in the judge's hands. And this decision that the Supreme Court is weighing right now can't answer the question just how far does that discretion go? Do they have the full range of discretion, or do they have to come up with some extraordinary reason to come outside of the guideline sentence.
ROBERTS: Hey, another story that's on the radar today is the lead story in "The Washington Post" today, the idea that a lot of immigration judges were chosen by the Department of Justice because of their political leanings. They were all very loyal Republicans or insiders in the White House, and after we heard from some people who testified before Congress from the Department of Justice that some of the U.S. attorneys and other people in non-political positions were chosen because of their political leanings.
This would seem to be yet more controversy on the Justice Department.
GUTHRIE: I think so. I mean, "The Washington Post" story will just be another log on the fire for detractors of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who faces a no confidence vote today in the Senate. And it just feeds this perception problem that has come out of this whole U.S. attorney scandal, that politics is pervasive at the Justice Department, and entering hiring decisions, when it really shouldn't.
It's one thing for the U.S. attorneys, those are political appointments. But if you start hearing that politics is entering hiring decisions for civil service type jobs, that's a pretty serious accusation.
ROBERTS: All right. Well, we'll see if it comes up in Congress today.
Court TV's Savannah Guthrie.
ROBERTS: Well, you can find just about anything on Google, of course. And that may be the problem.
Coming up next, Internet reporter Jacki Schechner has a closer look at Google Maps, Google Earth, and whether or not they put our security and safety at risk, coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Twenty-two minutes now after the hour.
Back to school tops your "Quick Hits".
The Connecticut teen who had been missing for a year returns to school today. She was found last week, locked in a tiny storage room in a West Hartford home. She remains in the custody of the state.
A manhunt under way right now in Montana for two escaped prisoners. The two prisoners, including the man who tried to kidnap David Letterman's son, have been missing now for three days. Police say they got away in a truck while working at the prison ranch.
And some six months after disappearing, a basset hound named Fred turned up some 430 miles from his home in California. He was found in Flagstaff, Arizona. Actually got across state lines. Thank to a microchip that was imbedded in Fred, he has been reunited with his long lost family.
CHETRY: He doesn't want to answer any questions about it this morning. He wants to move on.
Well, is Google Earth a security risk? A New York City assemblyman wants detailed satellite images of sensitive areas like airports, nuclear power plants and military bases to be blurred. Our Jacki Schechner is here now to show us exactly what you can see on Google and whether terrorists could really use the site as a tool.
Hi there, Jacki.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Good morning, Kiran.
It absolutely appears that way. Let's hit a Google Earth tour of JFK airport, for example.
Now, the imagery that we're going to show you is apparently the same imagery that the four terror plot suspects were using to supplement their own surveillance in that alleged terror plot to blow up fuel tanks at JFK airport last week. And if you zoom in close, you can see planes and terminals and control towers, and that sort of thing. And obviously somebody with some bad intentions could really do some harm with that kind of information.
And as you mentioned, Assembly Member Michael Gionaris (ph) in Queens is now asking that the federal authorities work with Google to help blur out some of those sensitive locations. Th is not the first time we heard this request. A government official last month told The Associated Press that they thought perhaps some federal regulation might be necessary.
Take a look around though, and you can see what kind of imagery is out there. There are some allegedly sensitive locations that are already blurred on these satellite imagery sites.
For example, this is the vice president's house as seen on Google Earth. You can see where the details here are blurred out.
The same thing is on Microsoft Live Search. But then it becomes a little more arbitrary.
On Google Earth, this power plant, Perry power plant in Ohio, is blurred. But you can see it in full detail on Microsoft Live Search.
Again, if you go over to Live Search and you take a look at the White House, it seems to be blurred out. But you can see it in full view there on Google Earth.
We spoke to Microsoft, and they said that they do, in fact, blur out some images on a case-by-case basis. Ones that they continue -- excuse me, consider to be sensitive. This year an image of the Capitol -- Kiran.
CHETRY: And Jacki, what's Google saying about it?
SCHECHNER: Well, with we spoke to Google. And they said after this terror plot was announced in the media, that, you know, they do work with security officials and agencies. They are very concerned about security.
But they point out that they get their imagery from individual private agencies, and it's primarily up to those agencies to decide what needs to be censored or blocked out. It is really not up to Google.
They say this is out in the public domain. But they are happy to continue to talk to officials and government agencies. But it is really interesting to note, Kiran, that this cat is already out of the bag.
SCHECHNER: This is imagery that is already widely, widely available. And to, you know, now put some sort of regulation in place or standard in place would be very hard to do, because it is already out in the public domain.
CHETRY: That's right. But arguing that it's, like, easy to find if you didn't have these search engines, I mean, how many of us have the ability to look at, you know, images from the sky on -- in our daily lives?
SCHECHNER: Yes. But everything out online is archived anyway. So you could really go back and find the stuff if you wanted to. It wouldn't be hard to grab it because it has been out there for so long already.
CHETRY: Very true. And there lies the problem with the Internet sometimes.
Jacki Schechner, thanks.
SCHECHNER: Any time, Kiran.
ROBERTS: Twenty-six minutes now after the hour. Ali Velshi is off. Stephanie Elam "Minding Your Business".
And if you thought that all the controversy over CEO compensation meant that they are going to make a lot less money, think again.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at all. In fact, American CEOs are raking in big, huge, fat wads of cash. And this is according to The Associated Press, which conducted its own little survey to find out some information here.
And they are saying that at least half of them made more than $8.3 million a year. For example, let's start off with the chairman of Yahoo!, Terry Semel.
He pulled in $71.7 million last year. And that is despite the fact that Yahoo! has been completely behind Google in profit growth and stock performance.
But then let's compare that to A-Rod, Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. He's baseball's highest paid player. He made $27 million. So, this is two and a half times more than what the highest man in the arena of sports and baseball is making.
CHETRY: Right. Plus, no one is chasing around the CEO getting pictures of him with a woman that's not his wife.
ELAM: Yes, that's probably true, too. Maybe that's a perk that they include for the CEOs, they're not getting followed around.
But it's just going to show that the Hollywood heavyweights are really -- and the professional athletes are not the only ones making this kind of money. So let's take a look here at the AP formula, because they don't do it the same way that many of the other companies -- you know, you look at all the lists of how many -- how much CEOs are making.
This says here that they are adding up salaries, bonuses, perks, above-market interest on pay that is set aside for later. And what companies estimated the present value to be, restricted stock -- of restricted stock and options for those awards that were granted and when they were granted.
So, if you take a look at all of those little perks that are added up, that's how they are coming up with the $71.7 million. But, of course, as you might expect, there is a little bit of backlash heading into how he's dealing with this. Specifically Terry Semel, because their shareholder meeting is tomorrow, and there are some people who are pulling for his ousting because of the fact that he is making so much money.
At the same time, Yahoo! stock down 35 percent last year. And he is still making more and more money.
ROBERTS: Yes, it's one thing to get paid when the company is doing well. It's another thing to pay for failing.
ELAM: It seems like shareholders don't mind if you make a lot while the company's doing well.
ELAM: But they don't like it when it's not doing so well.
CHETRY: Stephanie Elam, thank you.
CHETRY: Well, he's running as the candidate who is on tough on terrorism. But what does Rudy Giuliani's record on terrorism show?
We're kicking off a special series ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
The most news in the morning is on.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. It is Monday, June 11th. I'm Kiran Chetry.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Stories on our radar this morning, gasoline prices down for the first time in months. How low are they expected to go? Well, probably not where they were this past winter. In Our next hour, we are going to meet cabbies who are taking place -- taking part at least in our taxi challenge. One of them drives a hybrid. One of them drives a gasoline-only cab. Of course New York City going to all hybrid vehicles by the year 2012. We will see how much money if any the hybrid drivers are saving.
CHETRY: Also a high-profile critic of the war in Iraq is now speaking out for Scooter Libby. We are going to ask Alan Dershowitz why he was moved to support Libby in a filing to the court. Again we ask, does the punishment fit the crime when it comes to celebrity justice, but from a different perspective.
ROBERTS: Also, did you see the final episode of "The Sopranos" last night? Were there some hidden messages in there like Stanley Kubrick? Was David Chase trying to send some hidden message, make some political statements? A lot of people talking about not only how it ended and how abruptly it ended and whether it was an ending at all but whether or not Chase was really saying some things through the character AJ Soprano. We'll look at all that coming up.
CHETRY: We will read some of your e-mails as well, reining (ph) in on what you thought of the final episode.
But we begin in Baghdad. Reports that three American soldiers were killed when a suicide bomb collapsed a highway overpass. It happened south of Baghdad. The soldiers were operating a checkpoint underneath that bridge. Bridges have become an increasingly popular bombing target for insurgents recently. And a suicide bomb plot at a police building in Tikrit killing 15 people and wounding 47 more.
There's a new U.S. strategy in Iraq that may be about to expand. It works on the premise that the enemy of my enemy is my friend but is it too risky? American commanders are saying they have successfully tested arming Sunnis who promise to use the weapons to fight militants linked with al Qaeda. The problem is that the Sunnis have also been linked to violence against U.S. troops in the past. Also, critics say the plan could amount to arming both sides of an eventual civil war in Iraq.
ROBERTS: President Bush wraps up his eight-day European trip with a stop in Bulgaria. The president met with Bulgaria's president within the last couple of hours and spoke of America's stalled immigration reform bill. President Bush insists that the bill will be revived. He heads back to Washington today. He plans a visit to Capitol Hill tomorrow to lobby for the bill.
CHETRY: The Senate today claiming to debate, then deliver a symbolic vote of no confidence on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The White House for its part planning to ignore it. President Bush also told reporters in Bulgaria this morning the vote has no bearing on Gonzales' future as attorney general.
ROBERTS: We are beginning a new series this morning. Every Monday we are going to tell you about a defining moment for one of the presidential candidates, something that tells you who they are and why they want to be president. For Rudy Giuliani, that moment was 9/11.
JOHN EDWARDS (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What this global war on terror bumper sticker, political slogan. That's all it is. It's all it's ever been.
RUDY GIULIANI (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These are real problems. This war is not a bumper sticker. This war is a real war.
ROBERTS: In the GOP presidential race, Rudy Giuliani is the tough talking candidate who says he would be the best to lead that war. Why? Because he's been through it twice, during the 1993 and 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
DOMINIC CARTER, NYI SR. POLITICAL REPORTER: He's Mr. 9/11. But his entire record is now going to be scrutinized.
ROBERTS: Dominic Carter, New York One's political reporter covered Mayor Rudy Giuliani's eight years in office.
CARTER: From the first day he became mayor of New York City and his entire tenure, terrorism was not so much on his radar screen. He was more of a law and order mayor.
ROBERTS: After 9/11, Carter says Giuliani was an extraordinary leader though he and others questioned Giuliani's judgment before the attack.
CARTER: There's the issue of the building placement for the emergency command center.
ROBERTS: The Office of Emergency Management headquarters was located one block away from the World Trade Center, too close to a previous terrorist target without any backup site according to the 9/11 Commission report. During the 9/11 attack, the command center was destroyed.
CARTER: There's the issue of the radios between the police and fire department. There are firefighters and retired police officers that are vowing to follow him around the country and raise the issues.
ROBERTS: The 9/11 Commission report also found that the mayor's directive for incident command was followed on 9/11. But it is also clear, however, that the response operations lacked the kind of integrated communications and unified command contemplated in the directive. And while these actions may cause some to question his past judgment of the war on terror, there are others who say that he will do fine if there are any future attacks. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who helped fight the war on terror during the Clinton administration, feels Giuliani's 9/11 background will trump all.
LOUIS FREEH, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Given his experience and his leadership and the challenges that we face, he's the best and the brightest and I'm very, very pleased to support him.
ROBERTS: Giuliani defends his decision to place the emergency command headquarters at Number Seven World Trade Center. Giuliani says the site made the most sense during an attack because of its proximity to many Federal agencies that were also housed in the building.
Next Monday we are going to hear from former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. We are going to spend time with him on the campaign trail in Iowa and bring that to you next Monday.
CHETRY: Kidnapped, robbed, and then beaten at Disney World tops our quick hits now. Gunman forced two tourists into a car yesterday, made them take money out of an ATM and then drove them to a remote spot and beat them up. The tourists were able to get away and none were seriously hurt.
The space shuttle Atlantis astronauts now prepping for a space walk. It'll take place later this morning. They're going to be attaching a solar array to the international space station. NASA is also trying to get a jump start on this, trying to fix this. It is the shuttle's thermal blanket. A piece peeled back on liftoff on Friday and it could pose a danger when the shuttle returns to earth.
We are used to hearing about celebrities getting preferential treatment. But if you look at Paris Hilton and even the case of Scooter Libby, the former vice presidential aide, the opposite may be true. At least that's what our next guest says. He should know. He's Alan Dershowitz. He's up ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.
ROBERTS: Forty minutes after the hour, Chad Myers is off today. Reynolds Wolf filling in with look at extreme weather across the country and who's in the cross hairs today?
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It looks like we are going to be dealing with some rough weather in parts of the central plains, mainly into - just take a look at the map into Oklahoma, back into Missouri, even into northern Arkansas just right along the border. We are going to be seeing the possibilities of some flooding in a few locations maybe even in Springfield before the day is out. The ground is saturated. The additional rainfall, we are going to have some issues there.
Meanwhile, as we make our way back into Kentucky, seeing some light rainfall moving from the Ohio Valley back into Louisville. Looks like those showers may continue through the midday and afternoon hours as well. And into the northeast we go from New York to Philadelphia. We are seeing a little bit of dry air move into New York. But later on in the day, we're going to have some thunder boomers in big apple back into Philadelphia, some scattered showers in Newark, southward to the nation's capital. Rain will be in the picture as well and as we make our way from Charlotte southward to Columbia, a little bit of rainfall now. A few imbedded thunderstorms but later in the day we are talking about between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 p.m., we could have some severe thunderstorms. We are going to keep you advised on all of that information of course right here on CNN. That's the latest we have for you this morning. Let's send it back to you at the news desk.
CHETRY: All right, Reynolds Wolf, thank you so much.
You couldn't have missed all of the media out, the big circus surrounding Paris Hilton last week. She was carted back to jail sobbing after a sheriff's deputy released her to house arrest for a medical condition. Many cried foul saying that celebs and high- profile people get preferential treatment in the justice system. By my next guest says that that's not always the case. In the case of Paris Hilton or former vice presidential aide Scooter Libby in fact it is just the opposite. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and famed defense attorney joins us now from Boston. Thanks for being with us.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: Thank you.
CHETRY: So this is a little puzzling because you are not known as a friend of this administration. Some may have been a little surprised to read that you did file this friend of the court's brief on behalf of Scooter Libby. Why?
DERSHOWITZ: It was a very serious issue that was raised by the lawyers. I would have filed the same brief against special prosecutors in the Clinton case. This is not a Republican-Democrat issue for me. It is the seriousness of the issue. The judge reacted in a very childish manner by attacking the professors who had filed the briefs saying why don't we do work on behalf of poor clients? I do half of my work pro bono, probably have represented more poor people than any active lawyer in the United States today. And other academics on the brief also have a long and distinguished history of pro bono work. Even Robert Bourke with whom I disagree about everything represents people pro bono and the judge was just totally out of line in making those kind of comments. But it is typical of the way judges deal with celebrity cases.
CHETRY: Yet, he did grant the request. I guess he is going to listen to these arguments on behalf of those constitutional scholars including yourself. But what is it about Libby's sentence that got you so riled up? Two and a half years, is that out of line? Would an average defendant be serving less time for perjury and obstruction of justice?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, considering all of the circumstances of the case, first offender, good record, generally you wouldn't get a sentence of that length especially since judges now have enormous discretion will find out in the next days or weeks how much discretion but they generally have discretion to tailor the sentence to the particular defendant. And --
CHETRY: You think he is getting a tougher rap here because he's a high-profile person.
DERSHOWITZ: Well I think in general, celebrities tend to get hurt on the sentencing end. Judges tend to pander to the public and want to show that they really lean over backwards to be fair. But then celebrities get some advantages as well. They are treated better in prison generally because they pose risks of violence being directed against them in prison. So being a celebrity cuts both ways in the criminal justice system.
CHETRY: It certainly does. Some of our viewers might find you filing this brief ironic coming from the man who was part of OJ's dream team, a man most Americans believe essentially got away with murder.
DERSHOWITZ: People have a right to express views on any case. My job as a criminal defense lawyer is to present the best defense I possibly can. I don't pick my cases based on race or ideology. I pick my cases based on the legal issues. People forget that OJ Simpson was facing the death penalty when I became a consultant to his defense team and I do many death penalty cases. In fact that was probably the first death penalty case I ever did without it being a pro bono case. I've represented two defendants in front of the Supreme Court free. I've represented other defendants on death row free. Generally I represent the poor and not the wealthy.
CHETRY: Before we run out of time, I do want to get your take on this. It is a case that's generated a loft outrage. (INAUDIBLE) Wilson, he's an honor student, 17 years old. He was charged after a consensual sex act. Everyone agrees it was consensual with a girl two years younger. He's been in prison for two years. Today they are going to try another attempt at release. How do you explain a seeming major judicial glitch?
DERSHOWITZ: First of all, the age of consent today in many states is unrealistic. Teenagers are involved in sexual activities at earlier and earlier ages. These unrealistic ages of consent and the unrealistic statutes that make it an aggravated offense with 10 years of imprisonment to have sex or oral sex with one's teenage friend are outrageous and the Georgia legislature has acknowledged that by changing the law. This man has to be freed. He can't be allowed to serve a term that even the Georgia legislature now says is totally unrealistic for the actions that took place in this case. This is an instance where he was not a celebrity, where he's just an ordinary person. And he needs to have celebrities bring his case to the attention of everybody because when the people hear about this case, they will be outraged. I hope he will be free and allowed to take his --
CHETRY: Some are saying it was curious, like people, high profile people like Al Sharpton and -- I mean, others spending time worrying about Paris Hilton when you have this clear breach right here with this young man but we will continue to watch that case. It is always good to talk to you, Alan Dershowitz by the way the author of a new book out, "Blasphemy." There it is, how the religious right is hijacking the declaration of independence. Thanks for your time this morning. Good to see you.
DERSHOWITZ: Thank you so much. ROBERTS: Everyone is talking about how "The Sopranos" finale ended and some are wondering just what the writer and creator David Chase was saying to the character of AJ Soprano. A look at "The Sopranos" dialogue coming up next.
ROBERTS: A recall for tainted beef tops your quick hits now. United Food Group is expanding its recall for meat that may be contaminated with deadly e. coli bacteria. Check your freezer for the meat if it was bought in April. If you see est.1241 printed on the USDA mark, return it. That's if you bought it in April.
A weapon of war inspires a bidding war in France. A golden crusted sword that Napoleon took into battle more than 200 years ago sold for nearly $6.5 million at auction on Sunday. That's four times its estimated value.
And -- if there is anything worse than naked bike riders it is global warming or maybe that should be the other way around. In 70 cities around the world, bicyclists took to the streets with little more than a helmet on to protest excessive use of gasoline-powered vehicles.
CHETRY: They claim journeys don't stop, but that's exactly what "The Sopranos" series finale did take a listen.
That was it. I still have goose bumps I don't know why. The non-ending fade to black that has many, many fans seeing red. AMERICAN MORNING'S Lola Ogunnaike is here to wade through some of the reviews for us. Good to see you.
LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you too.
CHETRY: We asked AMERICAN MORNING viewers what they thought and there were some who said that it was pretty brilliant because it kept you on your toes until the very last end and it would have been too easy for Tony to be killed or for Carmella to be killed. But the vast majority of people feel that they left a little bit unsatisfied.
OGUNNAIKE: Exactly. The vast majority of people are unhappy with the way that it ended, too many loose endings in their mind. And they don't like the way that the people are -- people realized look, what's going to happen to Tony really? He is sitting there in the diner with his family. You've got this sketchy guy at the bar. He walks into the bathroom, reminiscent of "The Godfather." Is he going to come out with a gun or not? People don't know.
CHETRY: You see Meadow running across the street quickly too so that could throw you.
OGUNNAIKE: Exactly. Your heart was beating fast the entire time. Mine was.
CHETRY: It is -- they did -- you never know because David Chase was so unpredictable with his script writing, you did really never know what would happen.
OGUNNAIKE: Exactly. David Chase actually shot three endings. Some people are saying he chose the wrong one but he did shoot three different endings. A lot of the fans crashed HBO's site actually saying that they were very upset about this. So there is a lot of interest. People are talking about it on the blogs. People are e- mailing one another about this, phone calls ringing off the hook.
CHETRY: And you know what else people are pointing out is that it seemed that he used the character AJ Soprano to get across some political points. One of them at Bobby's funeral, AJ goes off about war in Iraq saying that President Bush let the Taliban go free and invaded another country.
OGUNNAIKE: Exactly and it wasn't only the Bush administration that took hits. SUVs took a lot of hits. One blew up and as it was blowing up AJ was smiling. The car gets - they get rid of the car and his parents are going off on him about look, you messed up. What's happening here? He says look, this is going to cure me of my dependency on foreign oil. This is what we are talking about here.
CHETRY: AJ saying he's going to be taking the bus from now on so that he's not dependent on foreign oil. Weird things to throw into the --
OGUNNAIKE: Absolutely. AJ was also talking about enlisting in the army which is another thing he wanted, to be a pilot. And then his parents bribed him with a BMW and a cushy job on a movie set.
CHETRY: I'm still laughing they are worried about the SUV. Was it two or three episodes ago, you see the guys dumping asbestos into a body of water.
CHETRY: That's not so great for the environment either. So all in all, what are you hearing from people?
OGUNNAIKE: Mostly negative so far, mostly negative so far, but people are still holding out hope that there is a film so the open- ending means that there could possibly have -- everything tied up in the film.
CHETRY: You are giving the thumbs up. You think they're definitely going to make a movie.
OGUNNAIKE: I'm hoping that they make a movie and I'm feeling like they will make a movie. That's why it is so open-ended, but who knows. David Chase, he's so mercurial, you don't know.
CHETRY: Exactly. Thanks.
ROBERTS: A young athlete dies after using a muscle cream like Icy Hot or Bengay. How could it happen and what do you need to know before trying to relieve those aches and pains? We will tell you, coming up on AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ROBERTS: Fifty seven minutes after the hour. Ali Velshi is off. Stephanie Elam is minding your business and if you are a fan of Monte Python, you will appreciate this one because we've got Spam, lovely Spam coming to Burger King.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's already got everyone talking about it. You start talking about Spam the food and people get -- they get all excited exactly. We are talking about the gelatinous pork that you can actually eat. We are not actually talking about the e-mail. But this is coming from Burger King in Hawaii. They are now adding Spam to their breakfast menu. It is actually a comfort food in Hawaii. It will take -- there you go -- head-to-head with McDonald's which has been offering Spam for a couple of years now. They are trying to cater to their locals and the flavor. There's something there called the Spam platter at Burger King. It's two slices of Spam between white rice and scrambled eggs. That's it right there. Exciting. Very warm and comforting. Well, it is a big deal there. And so now, there is like a little bit of a bidding war or - or not bidding war, but a price war about it. You can find Spam platter for $3.49 and Spam, eggs and rice at McDonald's across the street for $3.39. But still, it is a big deal there and it seems to be doing really well. It is not that different from Canadian bacon is it John?
ROBERTS: What about lobster?
ELAM: At Burger King and McDonald's, exactly. To talk a little bit more about some American inventions that are going to other places, let's talk -- Hawaii is America I know, but it is just a very mainland thing. Let's talk about doughnuts making their way into Asia. That's what's happening now. You can see that doughnut chains like Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme are finding their way to China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. It's showing that the region is more open to western foods and it's also showing that there's a little bit more income here to have something as a treat and adding to more than just eating the staples that they normally have over there all the time. In fact, the Krispy Kreme in Japan opened six months ago, still has lines, some people waiting up to two hours to get their donuts. And we're being blamed though, the western diet is making Asians less healthy actually. And they're actually putting in a little disclaimers like hey, this is a treat. Don't eat it all the time. It's not a meal substitute but yes, donuts and Spam, yummy. Have a very good breakfast America.
CHETRY: We will, Stephanie, thanks so much. Well, the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.
ROBERTS: Crushing attack. Explosives take down a bridge in Iraq, killing three American troops.
Plus, details and a dangerous new strategy, arming Sunni insurgents to rub out al Qaeda.
And the great taxi challenge. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com