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Cheney's Secrets: Battle Over Classified Documents; Firefighters' Memorial: Tribute to Charleston's Bravest; Just Say Yes: Former Cop Wants to Legalize Drugs
Aired June 22, 2007 - 06:58 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): Hands off. Vice President Dick Cheney at the center of a showdown over classified documents. Is he trying to keep secrets by claiming he's not part of the White House?
The war of words heats up on this AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: And good morning to you. It is Friday, the 22nd of June.
Thanks very much for being with us today as we're heading into a weekend.
I'm John Roberts.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us.
ROBERTS: Vice President Dick Cheney has faced a lot of questions about the secrets that he has kept. Now it looks like he's got a solution -- abolish the office that's asking all the questions. Cheney has refused to submit classified documents to the National Archives, claiming that his office is not fully a part of the executive branch of government.
CNN legal analyst Jeff Toobin is here now with more on this.
Can Cheney claim, even though he has an office in the White House, just down the hall from the president, to not be a part of the executive branch?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Well, characteristically, the vice president has declined to explain why he's not complying with the order. What it appears to be is that the executive order says -- an executive order, by the way, signed by President Bush -- that every entity within the executive branch must comply. The word is "entity". He says that apparently, because he is also the president of the Senate, he has legislative responsibilities, he's not an entity within the executive branch, so he doesn't have to comply. ROBERTS: All right. That's what he says, but constitutionally is that a valid claim?
TOOBIN: It's hard to know, because this has not been subject to interpretation before. But the key point here is this is the latest battle in a war that Dick Cheney has been fighting since the 1970s.
Ever since he was chief of staff to President Ford, he has believed that there is too much oversight over the executive branch, too much interference from the legislature, from outside entities. So he believes in a conception of executive power that is greater than anyone before or since has asserted. And this is the latest example of how he doesn't want to comply.
ROBERTS: And also, what about this idea that you may abolish the office in the National Archives that is in charge of handling classified information inside the executive branch? Is that legal?
TOOBIN: He plays for keep. It's certainly legal.
This office within the executive branch is something set up by the executive branch. So the executive branch created it. It can abolish it. But it just shows the kind of hardball that Dick Cheney is famous for.
You want to challenge me? You won't just lose, you will lose your job, too.
ROBERTS: He does play hardball, no question.
Hey, apparently the administration thinking about closing Guantanamo Bay. We will get you back in a few minutes to talk more about that.
ROBERTS: Great. Jeff Toobin, thanks very much.
TOOBIN: All right.
CHETRY: Well, some of the skeletons deep inside the CIA's closet are finally coming into the light. The agency has released documents detailing illegal and otherwise questionable activities for more than 30 years. They include wiretapping of the muckraking journalist Jack Anderson, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and the two-year confinement of a Soviet defector during the 1960s, as well as kidnappings and warrantless searches. CIA Director Michael Hayden says the documents are "unflattering" but they're part of the agency's history.
So how close is the Bush administration to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? The White House canceled a meeting for today on the detention center after the AP reported they were close to a decision on shutting it down. Last night, the administration denied the AP report and portrayed the canceled meeting as only one of many regular meetings on how and when to move 375 terrorism suspects out of Guantanamo and put them on trial. ROBERTS: Three minutes after the hour.
Some dramatic 911 tapes out this morning from that deadly furniture store fire in Charleston, South Carolina, the one that killed nine firefighters. This is amateur video of firefighters just starting to take on the massive fire.
In one of the tapes that was made from the 911 calls, a dispatcher could be heard guiding firefighters to another firefighter trapped inside. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DISPATCHER: Units be advised, we have someone on the floor trapped inside Sofa Super Store.
OFFICER: We copy.
DISPATCHER: Please send more to the back.
OFFICER: Whereabouts at the back of the building?
DISPATCHER: OK. He's beating on the wall with a hammer to try to get your attention.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROBERTS: That firefighter was rescued. City fire officials have told The Associated Press that the fire near a loading dock -- was started near a loading dock where employees took their smoke breaks.
And in just three hours' time the firefighters will be honored with a public memorial service. Thousands of firefighters from all over the country are getting ready for a procession. That's going to start in just about an hour. It will last until about 10:00 Eastern Time. That's when the memorial service starts.
As we've been telling you, CNN will be carrying that memorial service live. And in just about 15 minutes we will talk with Reverend Rob Dewey, who is going to be taking part in the memorial.
Just minutes before midnight, the Senate passed a new energy bill to raise the average fuel mileage standard to 35 miles a gallon for all cars, trucks and SUVs by the year 2020. The last time Congress voted to increase the standards was way back in 1975. The compromise, approved without floor debate, now moves to the House and later to the president's desk.
A live look at Capitol Hill now, where House Democrats say they want to make this 19th century building a 21st century example. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to unveil a broad new energy plan next week. It would include Capitol Hill carpooling, hybrids replacing limousines, organic food for congressional cafeterias, and low-flow showers in the lawmakers' gym. The plan is expected to cut energy consumption in half over the next 10 years, but it says nothing about that coal-fired plant that heats the Capitol, which is a real point of contention among environmentalists.
CHETRY: Well, NASA is going to try again today to bring the space shuttle Atlantis home. There were clouds and showers in Florida yesterday, and that forced the Atlantis crew to spend another night in space. And today's forecast is not that promising either.
There are five landing opportunities. Today, the first one would be at 2:18 p.m. Eastern Time.
And there's new video of a water rescue in Bakersfield, California. Firefighters conducting a water rescue class in the Kern River yesterday when one of the students fell out of an inner tube. You can see her there with her head above water, and then one of the guys in the class throwing a rope.
She was able to catch that and then pull herself with the help of those on the banks of that river safely to shore. So it was supposed to be a drill, and it turned into a real life rescue.
ROBERTS: A very fortunate young woman this morning.
ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning.
CHETRY: There's going to be a memorial service in South Carolina in just about three hours, remembering nine firefighters killed earlier this week as they battled a massive furniture store blaze.
Our next guest was at the scene that night, and he knew all of the fallen heroes. Reverend Rob Dewey is the senior chaplain for the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, and he joins me now from Charleston.
Reverend, good morning. Thanks so much for being with us.
REV. ROB DEWEY, COASTAL CRISIS CHAPLAINCY: Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to be with you.
CHETRY: Yes. We're seeing some of the pictures, people at this makeshift memorial grieving, coming by to kneel down and say some prayers in front of the crosses that have been put up there.
What is it like in Charleston this morning?
DEWEY: This morning, it's -- it's -- we're ready to move on with the service so that we can honor these nine heroes, and it's -- it's been a -- it's been a very tough week for the families and for the firefighting community, and our whole community. It's -- we're kind of numb, but we know we'll come through it.
CHETRY: You're giving the invocation and the welcome for today's service that is coming up in must a few hours. What are you going to be talking about?
DEWEY: Well, I'll be doing the welcome/invocation. And my prayer is that God's peace will be with the families and be with our community and the nation, because I think that we all grieve.
It certainly reminds us of other events, 9/11 and Katrina, where so much loss and devastation has occurred. And it certainly makes us, I think, be more appreciative of life and where we can hold on to our relatives and our loved ones and appreciate them even more.
CHETRY: And you were actually deployed as a chaplain after 9/11. This is the worst loss of firefighters since 9/11. You were also at Hurricane Katrina.
Are some of those experiences in dealing with them helping you now, now here at home?
DEWEY: Well, the night that this traumatic event occurred, it felt like I was back at 9/11 and back at Katrina. I deployed with DMORT for both of those events, and it's -- I don't know that anything can prepare for you the next big event, but that we do the best we can and we look for resources.
Some outside chaplains have come in to assist me that I've requested that are trained in critical instance stress management, and so I am very grateful to their help. And they're coming in to help us, because, at this point, we're overwhelmed.
CHETRY: Understandably so, and hopefully it will be some solace today to know that there are thousands of firefighters coming all over the country, rescue workers as well, to remember these nine heroes who gave their lives trying to save others.
Reverend Rob Dewey, thanks so much for being with us.
DEWEY: Thank you for having me.
ROBERTS: Coming up now to 13 minutes after the hour.
Chad Myers down in the weather center in Atlanta with a look at some of the extreme weather across the country today.
CHETRY: Hacking the Pentagon topping our "Quick Hits" now.
The hacker managed to penetrate the Defense Department's e-mail system, forcing a shutdown to about a third of its employees. As of yesterday afternoon, e-mail still had not been fully restored.
The House is challenging President Bush on abortion by voting to send funds to aid groups overseas. President Bush has not allowed U.S. funds to help any groups that offer family planning that includes abortion.
A New York City firefighter died after falling off of a roof. Daniel Pujak (ph) was fighting a fire in Brooklyn when he slipped off the roof, falling four stories to the sidewalk. He was just 23 years old and had been a firefighter for two years.
ROBERTS: He is a former narcotics officer who now sells secrets on how not to get busted for drug possession. Barry Cooper likens himself to a modern-day Rosa Parks, saying that marijuana use is a example of a law that needs to be broken and set an example and change a bad law.
Barry Cooper joins me now from Tyler, Texas.
Barry, you were a narcotics officer. What prompted you to go over to the other side?
BARRY COOPER, FMR. NARCOTICS OFFICER: Compassion, reason, logic and maturity. And I'm not comparing myself to Rosa Parks. I just make that statement when people ask me, "You're helping people break the law?" And I say, "No, the law is already being broken."
Eighteen million Americans smoke pot every day, and sometimes a law does have to be broken for it to get changed. And I reference to Rosa Parks.
ROBERTS: Yes. I don't remember Rosa Parks ever being an advocate for marijuana use, but you can call yourself what you want, I guess.
Other people are calling you different things though. Ron Brogan, the northeast regional director of the DARE anti-drug program says, "What Barry Cooper is doing is reprehensible. He's an apologist for drug legalizers, and he's trying to make a buck doing it."
Now, what you're doing is legal. It's protected free speech. But is it ethical?
COOPER: Absolutely it's ethical. Especially when the harm caused by crashing into a house and separating family members because of a bag of pot is much greater than the harm caused if we would of just allowed the American citizens to smoke the pot.
ROBERTS: So what you're basically saying is that pot is a minor offense, people shouldn't be going to jail for it, and you'll do everything you can to help them stay out of jail, including -- let's take a look at a clip from your DVD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The point is to be creative. And remember, I never arrested anybody for marijuana brownies or marijuana cookies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So, after looking at this DVD, Chief Mike Tacker from the University of Texas Police Department, who you worked with on anti-narcotics interdiction, said, "All Barry Cooper has done is challenged us to work harder. He will set a lot of people up for failure if they plan to take his advice."
Basically, he's saying for every tip that you give, they will find a countermeasure to defeat it.
COOPER: That's not true, and I never worked with Mike Tacker. I am familiar with him.
My video is full of information that cannot be countered, and it's not making police work harder. It's the war on drugs that's a failed policy that is making our police work harder when they could be using their efforts to real crime.
ROBERTS: Barry, you're an advocate for the reform of marijuana laws. I wanted to ask you, do you also smoke pot?
COOPER: I do smoke pot, but I don't inhale.
ROBERTS: Are we suppose to do believe that?
COOPER: It worked for our president.
ROBERTS: All right. Barry, thank you.
COOPER: Of course. Thank you, sir.
ROBERTS: All right. Take care.
CHETRY: Quite a character.
Twenty-two minutes past the hour now. Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business".
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Last night, late at night, the Senate passed a bill that's going to increase the corporate average fuel economy standards, CAFE standards, for the first time in more than 30 years. The bill calls for fuel efficiency standards to go up 10 miles a gallon in the next 10 years to 35 miles a gallon by 2020. Starting in 2010, obviously. It also requires that by 2020, there will be 36 billion gallons of gasoline made from things that are not oil, particularly ethanol, biofuels, things like that.
This has still got to go through the House, and it's also got to be signed by the president. There has been some sense that the president might veto this.
What the Democrats didn't get to pass was a provision that was going to have tax incentives for people who made gasoline and other sources of energy out of alternative sources because that was going to tax the oil companies and the utilities. The Republicans blocked that.
The car companies also don't like this measure. They had called for, in fact, increased mileage standards, 36 miles per gallon, but they didn't want it to apply to SUVs and light trucks. This law as passed -- or this bill as passed by the Senate is the average of cars, SUVs and light trucks.
A little way to go before this becomes law, if it becomes law. We'll keep you posted on that. But it's the biggest change since really the 1980s -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Pretty cool. All right.
Thanks so much, Ali.
ROBERTS: Twenty-four minutes after the hour now.
The American political process is undergoing a revolutionary change, even as we speak. Every day more and more of you are submitting questions on YouTube for the presidential candidates.
Our Veronica de la Cruz explains how the process works so you can be a part of the upcoming debates.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
ROBERTS: It's pretty simple, actually, isn't it?
DE LA CRUZ: It is. And you're right, those responses are coming in fast and furious.
CNN really raising the bar this time on the next round of presidential debates by allowing you out there to ask the questions.
Now, to participate, all you want to do is log on to youtube.com/debates and scroll down that page. You can upload your video here by clicking on the "Submit Your Question" button.
Now, they are asking you to keep your questions short, no longer than 30 seconds, and to speak loud and clear. And so far, more than 160 questions have been submitted.
Take a look. These are a few of the submissions that just came in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question for you is, what qualities do you possess that will better prepare you to win in a general election than the other candidates on the stage?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In his 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us to...
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the military industrial conflicts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is President Eisenhower's warnings still relevant today? And if so, how would you help to protect America from its undue influence?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm concerned for the people of both Israel and Palestine. If you are elected, what role will the U.S. play in this conflict?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DE LA CRUZ: So, again, you can log on to YouTube to watch some of the questions, and then submit your own.
All you have to do is record the question using your cell phone. I mean, a lot of people obviously used a video camera there.
I was trying to figure this out yesterday. Record yourself, e- mail yourself, and then you can use the YouTube re-mixer which is on the site and you can edit your own video. So it's actually really easy to do. It's not hard.
ROBERTS: I like the way that that one young fellow edited in the Dwight Eisenhower speech...
DE LA CRUZ: I thought that was great.
ROBERTS: ... along with his questions. A terrific way to do it, yes.
DE LA CRUZ: There you go. A lot of people being really creative.
ROBERTS: And the Internet has got so much information on it, too. You could add some production values like that to your question as well.
DE LA CRUZ: Yes. But keep it short, 30 seconds.
ROBERTS: Yes. All right.
Veronica, thanks very much for that update for us -- Kiran.
Oh, I'm supposed to say, don't forget, by the way, the CNN- YouTube debates coming up. The Democrats on Monday, July the 23rd. That will be from Charleston, South Carolina. The Republicans, Monday, September the 17th.
And you'll see that only on CNN.
CHETRY: Oh, look at that beautiful shot this morning. That's coming to us from our affiliate KHOU in Houston, Texas. Sadly, I did not quickly check what the current temperature was in Texas, but...
ROBERTS: You can pretty much be guaranteed it's going to be a hot one today.
CHETRY: We'll go with that. Chad Myers will fill in the details for us a little later.
And welcome back once again. It's Friday, June 22nd.
I'm Kiran Chetry.
ROBERTS: And good morning to you.
I'm John Roberts.
Stories "On Our Radar" this morning.
How close is the Bush administration to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay? The White House is responding to a report that says the detention camp may soon be shutting down. Apparently, they were supposed to have a meeting today. It got canceled after word about the meeting got out.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: And the other question which we're going to answer in just a couple of minutes with our legal analyst Jeff Toobin, if it does shut down, where do these suspects deemed worst of the worst by the U.S. military go?
Also a day at the amusement park goes terribly wrong. A teenage girl badly injured on a ride at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. We're going to have more on what happened there and how she is doing this morning.
But first, is President Bush ready to pull the plug on the Guantanamo Bay detention facility? A White House meeting today on Gitmo's future was cancelled. That followed reports of an imminent plan to shut it down. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says that the Bush administration would love to get Gitmo off of its hands, but that it actually may take a while. Jeffrey joins us now. Good to see you this morning.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning.
CHETRY: The word from the White House is no decisions on the future of Guantanamo Bay are imminent. So what is fueling the speculation today?
TOOBIN: Secretary Rice and Secretary Gates are all but on public record as saying this thing has just become an albatross. Think about what a wall-to-wall disaster Guantanamo has been for this administration. Twice the United States Supreme Court has said the Bush administration's policies there are unconstitutional. Internationally, this has become a symbol of American abuses of human rights. This is just something that the administration doesn't want to deal with anymore. The problem is what to do with the people who are there.
CHETRY: So it's been a PR mess and in fact, they've tried to somehow couch that by allowing people to visit, allowing reporters to come there. In fact you, yourself toured Guantanamo Bay. What was your sense firsthand?
TOOBIN: It was one of the most frustrating reporting experiences in my life. They put on this big dog and pony show for you. They show you the empty cells which look no worse than most prisons I've been in in the United States but you're not allowed to talk to the prisoners. You're not allowed to see how the interactions work with the guards. Yes, it looks OK, but I didn't have any clear sense of whether human rights were being violated there while I was there.
CHETRY: To be clear, most people that were initially held there have since been winnowed out, gone other places or released. There's 380 men considered to be the worst of the worst by the U.S. military in terms of being suspects, terror suspects who want to do harm to the U.S. Where do they go if Guantanamo Bay shuts down?
TOOBIN: This is the problem. What the administration has tried to do is create an entirely separate legal system for them. We have criminal law in this country. We have court-martials in this country. We have rules about how you treat prisoners of war. What the administration has tried to do is create another category called enemy combatants and that's been a struggle that they have not satisfied the courts, even the internal military courts. So clearly, they're not going to release these people. You have people like Khalid Sheik Muhammad, who's supposedly the architect of 9/11. He's there. They're not going to just let him go. The question is is the evidence against them usable in an ordinary criminal court? Some of these people have apparently been water boarded (ph) or even than tortured in certain respects. You can't use that evidence in a regular criminal court, though you could in the structures that the administration tried to set up. The question is can they set up that kind of structure, one that will satisfy the courts inside the United States if they move these people to some kind of American prison or military prison within the United States.
CHETRY: We will keep our eye on it. Thanks, Jeff.
ROBERTS: Shorter military deployments topping your quick hits now. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says it's unlikely that U.S. troops will serve in Iraq more than 12 months a time. Deployments were stretched to 15 months recently but Gates says that's only in a worst case scenario.
Harry Potter and the evil hacker. A computer hacker posted what he claims are plot details from the seventh and final book in the "Harry Potter" series. He says he broke into the publisher's computer. The publisher says don't believe anything you read on the web, wait until July 21st and you can read the book for yourself.
Coming up we're going to talk with Ambassador Chris Hill who's just out of North Korea.
Also this ahead, a freefall thrill ride malfunctioned at an amusement park in Kentucky. A teenage girl seriously injured and rushed to the hospital. We're going to have an update on her condition when AMERICAN MORNING returns.
ROBERTS: Thirty seven minutes after the hour. U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill is back from North Korea overnight and very positive about achieving nuclear disarmament there. Assistant Secretary of State Hill joins us now live from Seoul, South Korea. Secretary Hill, thanks very much for being with us. Let me ask you, first of all, you said that you were buoyed by these talks. What gives you a sense of optimism?
CHRISTOPHER HILL, ASST. SEC. OF STATE: That was only half the sentence. I said I was also rather exhausted by the thought of what we have to get done. So look. This is a long process, step by step. What was encouraging was the fact that the North Koreans are prepared to move ahead and shut down the reactor. They're also clearly prepared to disable the reactor, break the thing so it can't be brought back online. You know we got a long way to go. We've got some 50 kilos, 110 pounds of fissile material. We got to get a hold of that frankly, we've got (INAUDIBLE) this whole issue of this highly enriched uranium, the other way you make bomb material. So we've got a long way to go, but we're in a first step and not a bad one.
ROBERTS: Let's start with the (INAUDIBLE) reactor. What is the timetable here for shutting it down and as you said, disabling it?
HILL: Well, you know, we've got the international inspectors who are supposed to get in there pretty soon and they're going to spend a few days kind of figuring out their terms of reference and then soon thereafter, the North Koreans are going to shut the thing down and they're going to put seals on it and keep it shut down. We don't want them to just stop with shutting it down. We want to get on with the next step of disabling. And that will come probably the actual disabling where you break it and it can't be brought back online, we're talking probably a few months to get that step done.
Right. What about the plutonium? Would North Korea actually hand it over the plutonium that they've reprocessed?
HILL: Well, there are two things. First of all, there's the plutonium that they've already reprocessed. That's about 110 pounds. Yes, they're going to have to hand that over at some point because we made an agreement with the North Koreans will they will get de- nuclearize, that is they will get rid of all their nuclear programs, all their weapons so they're going to have to hand that over but frankly that is going to be at a later stage. What we're trying to do now is make sure that that 110-pound problem doesn't become 220-pound problem. That is, we would like to get this reactor shut down so we don't have more plutonium to deal with.
ROBERTS: What do you know about any bombs they may have? There was a nuclear test last year. It was either a very, very low yield weapon or it malfunctioned. Do they have a nuclear arsenal and would you gain access to that?
HILL: Well, hard to say. You know, transparency is not the name of the game there. They don't like to tell you stuff. So what we do know is they had some kind of explosive device. So we don't know if they've been able to take this 110 pounds -- you know out of 110 pounds you can make something like eight, maybe even 10 weapons, depending on your weapon size, so we don't know if they've ever been able to marry it up with a missile. They certainly haven't tested that. The point is if we can get a hold of the plutonium, then we won't have to worry about plutonium nuclear bombs.
ROBERTS: What about, you mentioned this in the beginning here, this idea that uranium enrichment program. That was the flashpoint a few years ago. Now the big question is to whether or not they had an uranium enrichment program at all. Do they?
HILL: I wouldn't go that far because what we do know is they made a lot of purchases of certain very specialized equipment such as centrifuges and these specialized aluminum tubes that by the way only fit in these kinds of centrifuges. So there's a lot of equipment purchased and that equipment is very much consistent with a highly enriched uranium program. Whether they were able to make it work, whether they are able to actually finalize the thing is hard to say, but whatever, we need to know what they did with that stuff.
HILL: If the centrifuges are sitting in a tunnel somewhere, we got to have a look at them. So we need to get at this program. And we've had some preliminary discussions on that, but we're going to need a lot more discussions on it to get absolute clarity on what that was all about.
ROBERTS: Chris, I know that you've returned from North Korea and from the talks at least in North Korea discouraged several times, so it's encouraging that you're a little bit optimistic after this visit. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, thanks for being with us.
HILL: Thank you very much.
CHETRY: Forty one minutes after the hour now. We head over to Chad Myers. Houston, Texas, lay it on us.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Houston, Texas?
CHETRY: Yes, we came in with a tower shot for KHOU and usually I try to quickly check the highs and the currents, but I didn't get a chance to.
MYERS: Pretty good, obviously, hot. Houston never gets cool in the summertime waiting for that first cold front that will come through Houston that is probably sometime late September but anyway a pretty decent day in Houston today. A couple of thunderstorms could slow down the airport between 4:00 and 6:00 tonight. Otherwise, right now we have Des Moines and Davenport right on down to Louisville, the rain showers there. Some of the heavier showers were around Cincinnati. They have now moved east to almost Wilmington and then points southward, right there, the northern Kentucky international airport there, Cincinnati, Kentucky airport there, a little bit slow this morning.
Planes not getting off the ground for you just yet in some of the areas, but it'll clear up. The storms are clearing up, so you'll get cleared up earlier. From Cedar Rapids back to Iowa City, some very heavy rainfall over night. See this big square there that's all painted green? Flash flood warnings for you. So if you're driving around that area today, you need to be a little bit careful. Some of the streams and creeks are out of their banks and also some downtown flooding.
A nice day though in New York City today. 77, 79 tomorrow. For your weekend planner for DC, if you're traveling there, it's a beautiful city. I was there yesterday, it looks great. Go see the botanical gardens. Maybe one of the most overlooked things downtown. Everybody wants to go see the air and space museum. I went to the botanical gardens yesterday. They were amazing. Kiran.
CHETRY: You're right. They are absolutely beautiful especially if you're a flower lover.
Call it the curse of the winning lottery. A Montreal couple picking up their check for $27 million. They won the Canadian lotto last month, so happy about it. But then on Monday, police arrested a suspect that they say planned to kidnap the couple, force them to withdraw money and then kill them. The suspect apparently blabbed about his plans and then one of his friends turned him in.
ROBERTS: New York Yankee Jason Giambi is going to talk about steroids. That tops our quick hits now. Giambi agreed to cooperate with George Mitchell's investigation of steroids in baseball. Giambi says he will be candid about his past but he won't talk about anyone else.
A few things are better than a lovely sunset especially one that looks like the Virgin Mary. Residents in Superior, Arizona gather every evening to look at the sunset and the image that it casts on this house which they say looks just like the Virgin Mary. You make up your own mind.
And disaster at amusement park in Kentucky. One young girl badly injured on a ride and rushed to the hospital. How to keep your children safe at the amusement park this summer coming up.
CHETRY: May not come as much of a surprise, but the investigation says that the driver was at fault in that crash that nearly killed New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. The state police report found that the trooper driving the governor's SUV violated division rules and regulations and could have taken precautions that would have prevented that crash. The SUV was going 91 miles an hour when it hit a guardrail.
Firefighters in Kansas City, Kansas have some explaining to do after on Father's Day, police spotted a three-person fire crew hooking up their hose to a hydrant and then using it to fill up someone's swimming pool. Now they could be suspended or fired for violating department policy.
Indiana Jones is back. Here is your first look at Harrison Ford all dressed up for the new Indiana Jones movie, the fourth in the series. He will be directed by Steven Spielberg and released next summer.
ROBERTS: A thrill ride at the Six Flags in Kentucky is closed this morning after a terrible accident that happened yesterday afternoon on the superman tower of power ride. A teenager had her legs severed just above the ankles when the ride malfunctioned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We seen the cable break loose. As soon as it got to the top on the right-hand side and as the ride came down, the wire swung left and struck the young lady.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: With summer upon us, millions of people are going to be headed to amusement parks across the nation. Should safety be a concern for them? Kathy Fackler is the founder and president of SaferParks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing amusement park injuries. She joins us now from San Diego. Kathy, do you have any more insight into what happened on this Kentucky ride?
KATHY FACKLER, PRES., SAFERPARKS: This is a mechanical issue and it needs an impartial investigation to find out what the cause was. It could have been maintenance. It could have been a faulty cable to begin with but this is not supposed to happen. There is supposed to be enough checks and balances in the system to avoid things like this.
ROBERTS: Nothing from Six Flags Kentucky kingdom just yet on exactly what might have happened. Here is all they are saying at this point. Quote, the ride has been shut down, will remain so until a full investigation has been completed. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide whatever assistance we can. Kathy, one of the points that you have made is that there is no Federal regulation of amusement parks. They are subject to individual state safety regulations. What would Federal regulation of this industry assist in when an accident like this happens?
FACKLER: Well, for one thing, it would fill up the holes in certain states. If this accident had happened in Texas and someone's legs had been severed on a thrill ride, there is no government agency that has authority and training in ride safety to go in and do an investigation. The same if this happened at a theme park in Florida. They are exempt at the state level and at the Federal level from all safety oversight no matter what the outcome, fatality, traumatic amputation. So primarily, it would allow serious accidents to be investigated by trained public safety officials and engineers from the Federal agency.
ROBERTS: Would it also track the history of a particular ride across the country as opposed to just being a state investigation on a very local level?
FACKLER: Ideally, that is, again, leaps and bounds above what happens at this point. But even in an isolated incident like this, a Federal agency would have authority to go to all other rides that are similar to that ride in Texas, in unregulated states and make sure that whatever happened in this case does not happen again.
ROBERTS: Now, these are big machines. I mean, they're big industrial sized machines. They go fast. There is an inherent risk just in getting on them, is there not?
FACKLER: There is an inherent risk in every element of life. You know, accidents happen everywhere, even at Six Flags. What separates the men from the boys in terms of integrity of operation is the process that comes into play afterwards.
ROBERTS: Right. Now, also, when you look at the number of people who go to these amusement parks, the number of accidents, they are infinitesimally small. Are you not going to have a certain number of accidents when you're running these rides, these big rides and so many people are traveling on them?
FACKLER: Well, certainly. As I said, accidents happen everywhere, but it seems to be shameful in a case where a child's legs are severed that Congress would prohibit the Federal safety agency from investigating something like that. If this child's legs had been severed by a lawn mower or in an airplane accident or a train accident, Federal authorities would be there. If this was an employee whose legs were severed on that ride, Federal officials would be there to investigate the cause, find out what happened, take steps to make sure this never happens on any other ride across the United States.
ROBERTS: Kathy Fackler, who is the president of SaferParks, joining us from San Diego this morning. Kathy, thanks very much.
FACKLER: Thank you.
CHETRY: A grave digger in Fitchburg, Massachusetts is under arrest this morning and you won't believe what he is accused of. Police say he stole body parts, including a skull and thigh bone from a broken casket at a local cemetery and then took them home to use as smoking accessories, specifically an ashtray and a pipe.
Air is free which is why a court in China prevented a company from selling bags of World Cup air. The company planned to sell air from the stadiums that hosted the World Cup in Germany last year for about $6 each. The same company once tried to sell land on the moon. And a marketing stunt by airline in Ecuador has a lot of men talking and drooling. We are going to show you why next on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning. A fast moving fire in Colorado kicks off your quick hits this morning. Three homes in Mesa burned to the ground late last night. Firefighters say the fire started outside one of the houses but was spread quickly by wicked winds. No one was injured. Witnesses said the kids playing with fireworks might have ignited that fire.
We all know that there is money in baseball but it was raining money in San Diego's Petco Park during yesterday's game with Baltimore. A fan tossed a few dozen dollar bills down on the field. Some of them landed in the Orioles dugout. Not long after the money cascaded down onto the field, Alberto Castillo homered for the first time in two years. The Orioles went on to beat the Padres. The fan was ejected because you can't throw anything on the field, even money. You can throw money in the locker room though.
An airline in Ecuador is hoping that the real way to a man's heart is with models in lingerie. Icaro (ph) Airlines has hired top models to walk up and down the aisles during flights wearing little more than their underwear. The airline industry in Ecuador is extremely competitive with five airlines. Icaro Airlines named after Icarus (ph) I guess who flew too close to the sun, had his wings singed and fell to the ground and was wearing lingerie.
CHETRY: That's what the men in the seats are worried about this morning not the ancient history. They're worried about what they're seeing right in front of them, right?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Speaking about history, the historic Prince William, he is 25 now.
CHETRY: And he's a huge eligible bachelor.
VELSHI: To tell you why he's more eligible, he gets a piece of -- he gets the interest from his mother's estate now. The boys both get that when they turn 25. The estate is worth about $13 million so he'll get half of that when he turns 30, but right now he gets $500,000 in interest every year, plus he gets a $44,000 salary. Both brothers are in the army. That is their army salary. Dad pays for their lodging and other expenses, which I assume gets deposited into some sort of account and he accesses them like everybody else does. But he's highly eligible at this point? Do you want to know what the family is worth? They say the family is worth about a billion dollars. The queen herself according to "Forbes" comes in at about $420 million.
CHETRY: Imagine the jewelry alone.
VELSHI: She didn't own the jewelry. She has her own jewelry and furniture and some art, things like that. The only thing they own is Balmoral castle in Scotland and Sandringham (ph) estate. That's a lot of ground. The main stuff is all owned by the state, the crown jewels and all that kind of stuff.
CHETRY: Where do they get their billion?
VELSHI: She's got about $420 when you add up all the various royals and their holdings, it comes up to about a billion bucks. But that's still a pretty eligible bachelor.
CHETRY: And there's a lot of women that want to marry him anyway.
VELSHI: ... because he's a nice guy.
VELSHI: It's not about the money.
CHETRY: Or course not. Thanks Ali. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.
ROBERTS: New clues, newly released 911 tapes. Revelations about what might have sparked the huge fire that killed nine firefighters.
Plus, the final salute, departments from across the country in South Carolina right now honoring their fallen brothers on this AMERICAN MORNING.
And good morning to you and thanks for joining us. It's Friday, the 22nd of June. I'm John Roberts.
CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry.
Also on our radar this morning, the Senate passing a new energy bill minutes before midnight so, now, how far will your car be able to go on a gallon of gasoline, making some changes.
ROBERTS: Much further this morning than it would last night, right?
CHETRY: This is how much further in about 10 or 15 years.
ROBERTS: Yes, 2020 I guess is the date that they've chosen.
The first time since 1975 that Congress has mandated higher CAFE standards.
Extreme weather again in Colorado today, strong winds swept through the Denver area. How would you like a tree like that to fall on your house? Some spots obviously hit pretty hard. We're going to be checking in with Chad Myers to find out where the extreme weather is across the country in just couple of minutes.
CHETRY: Well, a new study may reignite some sibling rivalry. Are first born children really smarter than the other siblings? There's a couple of new studies out that break down how birth order can affect your IQ.
First we start with the 911 tapes and some clues that they may hold about what happened to nine firefighters who were trapped inside a furniture store in Charleston, South Carolina. We're going hear a 911 dispatcher as she tries to guide firefighters to someone trapped inside.
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