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Blackwater Investigation; Four Patients Who Received Organ Transplants Diagnosed With HIV and Hepatitis C
Aired November 14, 2007 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome. Thanks for being with us on this Wednesday. It's November 14th. I'm Kiran Chetry. s T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: I'm T.J. Holmes. In New York, John Roberts on assignment right now. He's getting ready for the Democratic president's debate down in Las Vegas, so I'm sitting in for him today.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: You're welcome, T.J.
HOLMES: Thanks, Kiran.
CHETRY: And we begin the hour with breaking news and a bombshell of a report for one of America's biggest security contractors in Iraq, Blackwater, two months after employees shot and killed 17 civilians on a busy Baghdad street.
The word coming in from the FBI that the majority of those victims should never have been targeted. It's all coming to light in a "New York Times" story that's out today, and our CNN Barbara Starr has been following it. And she brings us more from the Pentagon this morning.
Good morning, Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Kiran. As you say, the "New York Times" reporting now than at an FBI investigation into the Blackwater shooting incident in September in Baghdad that killed 17 Iraqi civilians has found 14 of those killings. According to the "Times," report were unjustified, where a violation of the rules of deadly force by U.S. security contractors in Iraq.
Now, the newspaper is reporting that the findings by the FBI investigators are under review by the Justice Department for possible prosecution. Blackwater had said after the incident that its security personnel had fired on these Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in self- defense, that they had been fired upon.
But again, according to the "Times" perhaps only 3 of the 17 killings could have been perceived as a direct threat by the Blackwater personnel, and the rules of deadly force require an imminent deadly threat before these security personnel are allowed to fire. Certainly, the real question now at the end of all this will be, will there be enough evidence? Will there be witnesses who can be brought before some sort of U.S. law enforcement proceeding before a U.S. court for a prosecution -- Kiran? CHETRY: And also, what about promises to fix any problems with contractors and where it stands for Blackwater right now?
STARR: Exactly. That is the key question for the way ahead. Here at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are still talking about what to do next about a new structure in which security personnel, these private contractors will have much more oversight by the U.S. military.
But even as those talks go on, the Iraqi government is passing their own laws overseeing these contractors and it remains to be seen whether these companies will still stay in business in Iraq if they are for the first time really subject to Iraqi law -- Kiran?
CHETRY: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us on this developing story for us this morning. Thank you.
HOLMES: New this morning. A plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants? Dead. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer expected to officially abandon it today. Critics like our own Lou Dobbs have said it could lead to voter fraud and compromise security. And recent polls show about 70 percent of New Yorkers were opposed to that plan anyway.
Also, late breaking this morning. Police in Atlantic City say they have a man in custody after a long standoff outside a casino. The police source says the suspect walked into a shuttle bus late last night with a gun and possibly a bomb strapped to his body. The man told investigators he blames the casino for his brother's gambling- related suicide.
Also, prosecutors in Los Angeles say they will not file charges against a 10-year-old boy who said he started the Buck Weed wildfire in southern California last month. They say the boy was playing with matches outside of his house and accidentally ignited some brush. They say there is no evidence he did this on purpose. The fire destroyed 38,000 acres and destroyed 21 homes.
CHETRY: Promise to end the war or we'll stop paying for it. That's the ultimatum Democrats are laying out for the president as they consider another $50 billion in funding for Iraq. The new Iraq spending bill requires the end of combat operations by December of next year. Congress could vote on it by Friday.
And Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo defending his new graphic campaign ad showing or at least alluding to the possibility of a terror attack on a U.S. shopping mall. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, TANCREDO CAMPAIGN AD)
ANNOUNCER: The price we pay for spineless politicians who refuse to defend our borders against those who come to kill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Tancredo was a long-time opponent of illegal immigration, warning terrorists can sneak over the border.
Critics are accusing him of fear-mongering.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain under fire for failing to criticize a supporter who called Hillary Clinton the "b" word during a campaign event in South Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do we beat the "bitch"?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can I give the translation? The way that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John, I thought she was talking about my ex- wife.
MCCAIN: But that's an excellent question.
I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democratic Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: It was all the talk of CNN's OUT IN THE OPEN with Rick Sanchez last night. And CNN political analyst Amy Holmes compared this to a similar incident during the 2004 presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Back in 2004, John Kerry was in the audience at Radio City -- Radio City Music Hall when Whoopi Goldberg took to the stage and called the commander in chief, President Bush, the "c" word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Well, Whoopi Goldberg was actually watching and heard Holmes comments. She called into the show and defended herself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF WHOOPI GOLDBERG, HOST, "THE VIEW": I did not use foul language that night. I made a double entendre and that was the double entendre heard around the country. Now, if you do your research back to that night and the days following, you'll find that no one ever printed what I said because it was much better to leave the innuendo there.
Now that's OK. I don't mind that.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
GOLDBERG: I've explained this a million times, but I don't like it when someone is using me to make an example and its -- and then they lie. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: So, again, Goldberg insisting she didn't use foul language. It was just a double entendre about the President's last name.
Also new today, the death of rapper Kanye West's mom. The L.A. County Coroner awaiting toxicology results before determining the final cause of death. They did perform an autopsy on Dr. Donda West yesterday. She died this past weekend following plastic surgery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. ED WINTER, L.A. COUNTY CORONER'S SPOKESMAN: Surgery had been performed on November 9th at a surgical center. Dr. West was released to her home following the surgery. On November 10th, she was found unresponsive after being in respiratory distress. She was taken to Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center, Marina Campus, where efforts to preserve her life were unsuccessful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: The surgeon Jan Adams told TMZ that he performed a tummy tuck and a breast reduction on West last week, and her death was unforeseen. But another Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon said he recently refused West until she got the medical release for a condition that he feared could lead to a heart attack -- T.J.?
HOLMES: OK. This morning we're hearing those frantic 911 calls a New York City mother made to police over her troubled son. You can hear 18-year-old Khiel Coppin say he has a gun. Police commissioner Ray Kelly said the teen ignored several commands to stop and lay on the ground.
Five officers fired 20 shots. Almost half of those rounds hit the teen who was actually holding a hairbrush. So too many folks, they cannot see how this could possibly be justified.
Alina Cho has both sides of the story now and a look at those 911 tapes. Alina, good morning.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: T.J., good morning to you. Let's start with those 911 tapes, and listen carefully. Remember, police only responded after the boy's mother called 911. On one of the tapes in the background, you can hear a young yelling, "I've got a gun. I've got a gun." Police say that was the victim on the tape. Here's what happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: "He, he say he gotta gun?"
FEMALE CALLER: "um, huh... You, you heard him. I didn't say. You heard it outta his mouth."
911 OPERATOR: "He um -- didn't injure you, right?" FEMALE CALLER: "But he kept on tonight with this situation here. I'm not sleeping here with this behavior."
BACKGROUND MALE VOICE: "(Expletive) police!"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Still very difficult to hear, but having said that, police did respond, eventually fired 20 rounds at 18-year-old Khiel Coppin. He later died at the hospital. At the time of the shooting as many people know by now, Coppin was carrying a black object that turns out was not a gun, but a hairbrush.
At a news conference yesterday, the Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the responding officers had every reason to believe Coppin had a deadly weapon and at this point believes, officers acted appropriately.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY KELLY, NYPD POLICE COMMISSIONER: Khiel continued in the officers' direction, ignoring multiple directives to stop, show his hands and get down on the ground. As he closed the distance between him and the officers, he reached under his sweatshirt, pulled an object and pointed it in the officers' direction as if he were aiming a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: But a lawyer for the victim's family says there is no way police can know all the facts this early on. The five officers we should mention have been reassigned as the D.A. investigates the shooting and they all have passed breathalyzer tests as well -- T.J.?
HOLMES: Right. Alina Cho for us this morning. Thank you. And we're going to hear a lot more about the story. We're actually going to hear from the boy's family members, also, an attorney representing the family. They're going to join us live at 8:15 a.m -- Kiran?
CHETRY: All right. Well, Rob Marciano off today. We have Jacqui Jeras at our weather update desk tracking extreme weather. And you were talking of these high winds in the Midwest. Hi, Jacqui.
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Kiran. Yes. Today is day number two, you know. The cold front has blown through, but behind it, strong, high pressure and that is driving an incredible winds from the northwest. So advisories have been issued again today for much of Minnesota on through the Dakotas. Those winds are going to be gusty between 50 and 60 miles per hour. And even though Minneapolis say and Des Moines, also, not in the advised areas, you could still see some gusts around 35 miles per hour or so. So be aware of that, and now you could have some flight delays, unfortunately, as a result of that.
Let's go ahead and look at some of the current wind conditions across the upper Midwest, and you can see Minneapolis already, 21 miles per hour. That is sustained not to even mention the gusts. A little -- they're calmer there in Milwaukee right now. But Milwaukee and Chicago, both, could be seeing some stronger wind coming into play later on this afternoon.
There's our frontal system. This is the same one we've been tracking all week bringing in the excessive winds from the western coast all the way into the Midwest, moving across the Great Lakes today, eventually making its way to the eastern seaboard.
Right along the warm front right in this area, we are seeing some foggy conditions today, and that is creating very poor visibility. Wove got a live picture to show you out of Washington, D.C., at this hour to show you the fog and the low clouds. Visibility about two miles right now at Dulles. You go up the road a piece and to Baltimore and Philadelphia, and it's much worse. In fact, a quarter of a mile in Philadelphia, you got a ground stop at the International Airport there -- T.J.?
HOLMES: All right. Jacqui, thank you so much, kind ma'am. We will see you again soon, I'm sure.
Oh, we turn to this disturbing story we first told you about yesterday. Four patients who received organ transplants earlier this year have now been diagnosed with HIV and Hepatitis C.
CHETRY: Yes. It's a really terrifying thought. The source of the infection, the organ donor. So what went wrong? Joining us to talk about it, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And you know, I mean, this is such a precise field and you would think that one of the things they make sure of is that there is not HIV present.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it's a good point, but there are two things to keep in mind here. First of all, no protocol was probably broken and I'll explain why in a second. But also, this hasn't happened in 21 years, since 1986. So the system for the most part works. It is precise as you mentioned, Kiran.
But four patients -- what we know that a patient died in Illinois, subsequently four organs are transplanted to three different hospitals in that Chicago area. On November 1st of this year, one of those recipients came back as HIV and Hepatis positive. That actually prompted a more thorough investigation including the other recipients, and what they found was they all in fact tested positive for HIV and Hepatis.
What happened here most likely is that tests are performed on the donor at the time of death. Those tests came back negative. You know that. But there was one sort of warning flag and that was the donor actually came back high risk on the profile. That the way they test for this is testing for something known as antibodies. They're testing for something that actually responds to the HIV virus and those antibodies weren't present at the time of the donor's death.
The donor, again, was identified as high risk. But, again, that's exactly what they typically do. And in 21 years, it's never happened that the antibodies came back negative and the donor was still positive. HOLMES: So why -- it came back negative. Why did it come back negative at the time and should it have come back positive? Was there another test out there possibly that was better than this one that could have showed that positive?
GUPTA: And this is where it gets really interesting. We spent a lot of time on the phone researching that exact point, T.J. And here is what we found is that it takes about three weeks for the antibodies to come back positive after you've been exposed to the virus. So the person presumably was exposed in the three weeks prior to his death. That's rare.
CHETRY: There's that lag time.
GUPTA: There is a window. There is a window. Now, there is a genetic test as you mentioned, T.J., which is precise. Here's the problem. It takes a few days for that test to come back. You're dealing with hours, maybe a day for a kidney, but five hours for a heart, 12 hours for a liver. You don't have the time for that genetic test to come back.
GUPTA: And there lies the problem. We need a better test, there's no question. But a lot of laboratories across the country don't perform that genetic test, and here lies the problem. But keep in mind, again, this hasn't happened in 21 years.
GUPTA: So it does work for the most part.
CHETRY: What's their prognosis, before we let you go?
GUPTA: They got to be treated like anybody else, for HIV, Hepatitis. The problem for them is they're also taking immune- suppressing drugs...
GUPTA: ... because of the transplant so it's going to be trickier for them, obviously, than other patients, but they're going to get treated.
CHETRY: Sanjay Gupta, great to see you. Thanks.
CHETRY: Still ahead. Diseases that kill children just a few decades ago. Now, a new report this morning on how vaccines are making a dramatic difference ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
HOLMES: Well, there's a great escape to tell you about in our "Quick Hits". A fireball on the road. Explosions and flaming tires shooting from a truck that was literally melting before firefighters' eyes. Somehow the driver as well as his dog made it out alive. The trucker said he jumped out just seconds before the entire cab went up in flames.
Also, another incredible shot to show you here. A car getting caught between 18 wheels. Police in Dayton, Ohio, say a driver ran a red light and plowed into a tractor trailer in an intersection before the truck then dragged the car 170 feet. Take a look at that.
Uhh! 170 feet. It continued on. It was all caught on a red light cam. The car twisted really beyond recognition. The driver survived. However, the driver is in critical condition.
Also, road rage pulled a car. A traffic cam caught two guys fighting on the freeway in Phoenix. Police say the two men were boyfriends and were arrested on domestic violence charges after a fight between them broke out at a mall and ended with one of them threatening to commit suicide in the middle of Interstate 17 -- Kiran?
CHETRY: All right. Well, a couple high-profile deaths and autopsies in the news this morning. An autopsy on Carol Anne Gotbaum, the woman who died in police custody at the Phoenix Airport. We're talking about that.
And also, the body of police sergeant Drew Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, pictured here, was exhumed yesterday. They're going to be doing an additional autopsy because his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, has been missing for two weeks and there are now questions surrounding the death of his last wife.
For that we turn to forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht. And thanks for being with us, Dr. Wecht. Great to talk to you this morning.
Let's start off with the Savio case. As initial autopsy and crime scene reports back from 2004 show that Savio was found face down in a dry bathtub that she had signs of trauma, including bruising and head injuries. What can you find out when you perform an autopsy on a person that's been buried for more than three years?
DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: If no autopsy had been done, you're, of course, starting from scratch. If an autopsy has been done, you still approach it in that same fashion, but you would certainly have a reasonable basis to assume that some things had been looked for such as the fracture of the skull, fractures of the cartilage and the structures in the neck, the small bone, the hyloid bone, high up in the neck underneath the mandible, to indicate strangulation.
In this case, I think, was terribly botched, not probably investigated. A 40-year-old woman no known history of heart disease, any other significant pathological process, not under the influence of alcohol or drugs found in a bathtub. I have heard reports that there were some other bruises.
CHETRY: Yes. WECHT: And maybe minor abrasions found, too. For that case to have been signed out as a drowning in a small bathtub...
WECHT: ... is beyond my kemp (ph). So --
CHETRY: Do you believe she was murdered, Dr. Wecht?
WECHT: Yes, I think that this is almost certainly a homicide. At that point, it should have been investigated as if it were a homicide. The answer to your question about what they can learn now is that much will be obfuscated, destroyed.
Three and a half years is a long time. And in so far as soft tissue injuries are concerned, bruises, even small cuts and so on, they are highly unlikely to be discernible after three and a half years. So, I think the exhumation autopsy is necessary. I commend them for doing it. It is important tactically, strategically, in preparation for and in advancement of the operation.
Is it likely to yield any kind of definitive results in a positive fashion? No. Drowning is a difficult diagnosis to make...
WECHT: ... even with a freshly recovered body. In this kind of a case, you cannot make the diagnosis of drowning.
CHETRY: All right. Well, you know, let's turn to the Gotbaum case. And you were very vocal about what you think may have happened here. The Phoenix Police Department telling AMERICAN MORNING they had no idea that Mrs. Gotbaum suffered from many medical conditions or substance or bruise problems and they say they made every attempt to save her life. Do you think there's anything that Phoenix Police could have done that would mean Carol Gotbaum was alive today?
WECHT: That statement cuts right through to the heart of the case. They had no knowledge, and that indeed is the correct statement. Do not look now through the retrospective scope as what we know about Carol Anne Gotbaum, with regard to an alcohol problem or any of the alcohol or drugs in her system at the time. They had no knowledge of a medical problem.
And the differential diagnosis as your excellent medical adviser consultant will tell you, will include a wide range of things. Too much sugar, too little sugar, and through metabolic problems, a bleeding through the brain, problems with the heart, problems with the lung, all kind of things -- they're drug reaction, an acute psychotic breakdown. What she needed was medical intervention. What she needed was the attention of a doctor or a nurse.
CHETRY: So you think it was error by omission, not that they did anything physically that caused her to die from this asphyxiation by hanging as they put it? WECHT: Yes. That's a good statement. I have not at any time suggested that this woman was beaten to death or that her death was in some way related to a physical assault. That death should not have occurred and would not have occurred if she had received that medical attention. And then even all up to the point of placing her into that room and handcuffing her behind her back and manacling her to the leg of the chair, even if she had been observed as she was getting out of the handcuffs. Remember when she was found...
WECHT: ... she had already gotten the handcuffs in front of her. Up until that point, her death would have been prevented. So this was a gross, gross mismanagement. And a thing to going back, she never threatened anybody. She had no weapon.
WECHT: And she was not a physical threat to anybody, including herself.
CHETRY: And as we learned, her husband tried to call in and warn them about some of her medical history, unfortunately.
WECHT: This is not the proper way to treat a person.
CHETRY: Dr. Cyril Wecht to talk to you this morning. Thanks for being with us.
WECHT: Thank you.
HOLMES: And a Florida woman sees Jesus, not at church, at breakfast. Then, of course, what did she do? She put the holy pancake on eBay. Is that really what Jesus would have done with that pancake?
That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: All right. Well, check this picture out. Does it look like Jesus and Mary to you? A Florida woman says she was making her Sunday breakfast when she noticed an image resembling Jesus and Mary on her pancake. Her daughter put the Holy pancake on eBay, where the high bid was $340. It was not without precedent. There was supposedly a piece of toast?
HOLMES: Toast, yes.
CHETRY: And it also...
HOLMES: And I saw a toast that looked just like that.
CHETRY: It also says -- HOLMES: It looked like things that you put into a pan or an oven or something like that.
CHETRY: So you are not buying this?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm not buying it. That could be me, Ali there for all we know. Totally cut. It could be the two of us.
HOLMES: Come on.
VELSHI: The guy on the right has too much hair. I mean, seriously. It's a fantastic, good business story.
VELSHI: Because it's 338 bucks. Somebody's prepared to pay for somebody's cold pancake that they're going to put in the mail and sent to them. It's bland for you, guys.
Let me tell you about Sirius with XM this morning. Seriously, good morning to you all. I want to talk to you about Sirius and XM Radio. The shareholders of both of these two companies approved the merger yesterday, so it is going ahead.
Now, I would do if I was a shareholder because guess what? You who have either have Sirius or XM, who think you're going to get the benefit of both of these two companies coming together? You will, but you're going to pay for it. Let me tell you why.
You know, people go to XM or Sirius for different reasons. XM, if you like Oprah or NHL or Major League Baseball. Sirius, if you like Martha Stewart, Howard Stern, NFL, NASCAR, NBA and various other people on them. If you want both of those packages on your new device, it's going to cost you, what they said is not as much as two subscriptions.
It's not going to be 26 bucks, which is what it would be if you bought both. It's going to cost you something less than that. They won't tell us exactly how much. The good news is if you already have Sirius or XM, you have to have a special receiver for it. That receiver will work on both systems. So, good news, you don't have to buy a new head unit, a new receiver. The bad news is you're going to pay up for the benefit of having both of those on both systems.
HOLMES: OK. But right now, I'm an XM client.
HOLMES: I'm good. Nothing is going to change for me unless I wanted to change.
VELSHI: No. Nothing's going to change unless you wanted to change. And if you don't change it, you're paying the same thing that you paid now. $12.95 a month, you know, without adding extras. So, that's the good news. You don't have to pay anything else. If you want both, it's not going to just all of a sudden stream to your radio. You're going to pay for it.
CHETRY: You got that, T.J.?
HOLMES: I get it. That sounds really nice.
VELSHI: Did you get it in the minivan?
HOLMES: No. It's in the -- I knew the minivan thing is going to come up before you got on.
VELSHI: I need to say that on TV?
CHETRY: Do you have a minivan?
HOLMES: I do not.
CHETRY: Why does he always tease you about that?
VELSHI: I have a motorcycle. Do you want a ride while you're here in New York?
HOLMES: He always -- he just wants to make sure his cool factor is higher than mine, and he tells people that I have a minivan. He thinks that helps.
CHETRY: I see nothing wrong with that. That would not take away from your coolness.
VELSHI: You made it, right?
CHETRY: All right.
HOLMES: All right. Thank you.
Here now, a story coming up you just can't miss. People or mussels?
CHETRY: Yes. There was a new front in the drought water wars that are taking place in the south in your neck of the woods.
CHETRY: There's a guy who brings you mussels, oysters, other shell fish and so many people love. And he says their lives and livelihood depend on this water being able to be saved. And, of course, others are saying, no, it needs to go to the city. So it's a big debate.
HOLMES: Yes. And that story is coming up in today's headlines when this AMERICAN MORNING.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: We take you to a live picture of Apalachicola, Florida, where some of these water wars are happening between the states.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: It is a beautiful shot.
HOLMES: Georgia. It is a beautiful site. You wouldn't think people down there are upset about a thing. But they're upset about these water wars going on but a beautiful shot there. 50 degrees now and 76 expected to be the high. So, a gorgeous, gorgeous picture and a gorgeous day expected there on this Wednesday, November the 14th. John Roberts is not in Apalachicola. He has made his way to Las Vegas.
CHETRY: That's right. Get ready for that. Well, we know what he's supposed to be up to...
HOLMES: Supposed to be.
CHETRY: Which is preparing for the big democratic debate that is taking place tomorrow in Las Vegas. Good it have you with us, T.J.
HOLMES: Thank you. Thank you.
CHETRY: And we start off this morning with pressure on Pakistan. The White House says it will send Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte to Pakistan Friday with a message, end emergency rule and hold free and fair elections. Right now, the vital ally in the war on terror is under martial law. President Pervez Musharraf has suspended Pakistan's constitution and is refusing calls to step down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: That option is available it me, but should it be given up now and we will have better Pakistan or stabler Pakistan? And we can have very good elections without me, very good. Maybe I made that decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Police have tossed lawyers and critics behind bars in Musharraf's most prominent political opponent Benazir Bhutto is barricaded in her home.
There are high level talks taking place between North and South Korea this morning and they're being called a big step towards reconciliation. It is the first meeting between the north and the south prime ministers in 15 years. They'll be spending three days working out details of a historic agreement made by the leaders of the two countries last month in Pyongyang. The talks come amid progress on international efforts to get North Korea to get rid of its nuclear programs.
Well, a nuclear concession from Iran. The government handing over blueprint that show how to make nuclear warheads. Diplomats say they see this as a move to head off new sanctions over the nuclear program. They say Tehran has failed to meet other requests made by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Also a former CIA and FBI agent resigned after she was caught faking a marriage to get U.S. citizenship. Nada Prouty came to the U.S. from Lebanon in 1989 and a year later paid a man to marry her so she could become a U.S. citizen. She joined the FBI in 1999 and moved on to the CIA back in 2003. While working for the FBI, Prouty improperly searched a computer database for information about her relatives and links they may have the to the Hezbollah terrorist organization. The FBI though said there is no evidence that Prouty was working as a spy.
HOLMES: A bombshell for Blackwater security. The Iraqi government says contractors from the firm killed 17 innocent civilians unprovoked. Now, it appears the FBI could back that up in more than a dozen cases. AMERICAN MORNING legal analyst Sunny Hostin is with us now.
Good morning to you, ma'am. Thank you for being here. Tell us, the FBI can say that these killings were unjustified. That means somebody did something wrong, somebody is at fault. However, we had this whole talk of the state department giving limited immunity to some Blackwater folks. So, where does this leave us now, they're at fault but they have immunity. Where do we go?
SUNNY HOSTIN, AMERICAN MORNING, LEGAL ANALYST: It's very, very difficult. It's interesting because the State Department usually doesn't give immunity and they don't usually have the authority to give immunity. That's usually the Department of Justice and a prosecutor does that. There are two types of immunity. One is use immunity, one is transactional immunity.
Use immunity is limited. What that really means is that the government cannot use the information provided to the government against that person, but if the government finds information out another way, that person can still be prosecuted and that is what the government is saying now. The government is saying, listen, they don't have this transactional immunity or blanket immunity, doesn't mean they can't be prosecuted. It means the information that was given to the government can't be used against them in a prosecution but we're now conducting a separate investigation. The FBI is conducting an investigation and if we find that information, they're going down.
HOLMES: Immunity is not necessarily immunity.
HOSTIN: Exactly. It could be very limited.
HOLMES: So, there's still a chance that they could be prosecuted and serve some time and they could be punished.
HOSTIN: My guess is that they will be prosecuted because again now, the state department has transferred this investigation over to the FBI and the investigators are out there. The Department of Justice is involved and with that investigation we will probably learn even more information and we'll see some indictments and some prosecution. Now, criminal, it's a little bit difficult because they were overseas. Criminal law really hasn't figured this piece out, how to deal with contractors overseas that commit crimes but there is now new legislation to sort of close that move and I think once that's passed we'll see some prosecution here.
HOLMES: We'll take a turn now to crack versus cocaine. If you can make this transition. The sentencing guidelines we were talking about, Sentencing Commission, going to change it where the guidelines are a little different to make it a little more balanced for crack and cocaine. We'll take a listen here, one official said about the sentencing guidelines and then we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETCHEN C.F. SHAPPERT, U.S. ATTORNEY, WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA: I'm, again, am concerned that if indeed you make the penalties retroactive with regard to the changes and guidelines that we're going to see an influx of the very people who are most likely to reoffend and are most likely to upset these fragile neighborhoods.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: OK. Is that going to happen? One thing to change the guidelines moving forward to make them more similar but if you change them retroactively, they're saying that there's like 20,000 people who could be let out of jail, some of these drug offenders. What are the chances of that really happening?
HOSTIN: I think the chances are very, very good. I don't think that the commission is grappling with whether or not it is going to happen. I think it's going to happen. I think they're grappling with how do you implement it and how do you let 20,000 people out on to the streets? The federal judge, Judge Walton, a judge that I appeared in front of in D.C., is a proponent of this change. He was a prosecutor. He was also a defense attorney, so someone that is very balanced, very wonderful reputation and what he is saying is this was wrong. The wrong now has been righted going forward but you can't ignore the people that affected it, that were affected by it. So, I think we are going to see some changes. The U.S. attorney makes a good point. What do you do with 20,000 people that are either offenders, drug dealers, you know, users. You put them out into the community and we'll see a high recidivism rate.
HOLMES: When can we expect that decision?
HOSTIN: It's going to be in the spring.
HOLMES: In the spring. Sunny Hostin, legal analyst here. Good to see you this morning.
HOSTIN: Good to be here.
HOLMES: All right, Kiran.
CHETRY: Thanks, TJ. Well, there are some new numbers out today. A first of its kind study about the impact of childhood vaccinations. Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now with details from this report. And boy, I mean just a really shining bright light in terms of the medical community of what we've been able to accomplish.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people assume that the vaccines work and now we have some data on how well they work. Over the last several years, you know, there are a lot of vaccinations that are recommended to all parents for their children, obviously. CDC actually releasing some numbers now specifically about the impact of a lot of those vaccines overall since a lot of them have been nationally recommended, what is the impact? Let me give you a few examples. And you'll find this interesting.
I'm interested as a parent. Mumps for example, measles, tetanus, pertussis -- they're all down between 92 percent and 99 percent. Some of them down almost 100 percent. You can see those used to be fairly common childhood diseases in this country at one time. There are some newer vaccines as well which a lot of people haven't heard about.
But take a look at these - hepatitis A, B and chickenpox. Again, you can look at the numbers there, 85 percent, 87 percent. Again, these are fairly common as well. Tough to vaccinate against for sometimes as well but then there are some that are just completely gone, as we know smallpox for example, diphtheria, polio. That's something we don't even talk about any more, Kiran. But they used to be fairly common as well. Smallpox as you know has been eradicated from the world. So, these vaccinations programs seem to work, at least meet their intended goal.
CHETRY: You know, at the same time, not all parents are convinced about the safety. There has been a lot of questions about whether some of the preservatives they use can lead to other problems, namely autism has been one of the things (inaudible) about. How can parents be sure if they are going to do this and are there other options?
GUPTA: Yes, well you know, one thing is, with regard to the preservative, the Merisol, which is mercury preservative. It's not in vaccines any more as you know. It used to be for some time, but it's not there any more. Not, the CDC will say not because they found a link to autism, but just because they wanted to allay fears about this. What can parents do? You know, it's funny, I sort of approach this in two different ways. Now, when my kid got five shots I think at once, I can't lie to you. I was worried. It just seems like a lot of sudden vaccine into a child's body. All the data will suggest it's not a problem.
But to your point, you're starting to see some trends downward. People exempting their children from these vaccines for a couple of reasons. One is for religious reasons which is actually seen enough increase, and two is because of the concern about side effects. What health officials will say, look, it's not just your child that you're potentially putting at risk but the children that are seated next to your child in school, for example, on the playground, because some of these are contagious diseases. What do you, I mean, you know, I think most doctors will suggest and looked at the that evidence to go ahead and get your child vaccinated.
CHETRY: All right. Sanjay, thanks so much.
GUPTA: All right. Thank you. TJ.
HOLMES: And let us pray. For rain in the southeast. Fighting for water cities against fisherman, is there any room for compromise? A live report from this new front in the water wars. That's next on this AMERICAN MORNING.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SUNNY PERDUE (R), GEORGIA: I'm here tonight to appeal to you and all Georgians and all people who believe in the power of prayer to ask god to shower our state, our region, our nation with the blessings of water.
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HOLMES: Yes, you know, forget working with democrats and republicans, let's give god a try. The prayers are out. Georgia Governor Sunny Perdue on the steps of the state capitol asking for a little divine intervention for the drought crisis. We'll check in with Jacqui Jeras in a moment to see if their prayers will be answered. But first, the new front in the ongoing water wars.
The drought in the southeast has almost dried up Lake Lanier outside of Atlanta and reduced to the flow to Apalachicola River. Atlanta officials want the army corps of engineers to cut it back further, but lack of water has affected fisherman downstream who rely on the river to provide the perfect conditions for shellfish. We sent John Zarrella to investigate. He joins us now from Apalachicola, Florida. And we had a beautiful shot from Apalachicola this morning. You can't really tell that things are kind of getting tense down there. Beautiful shot there. How are things there? Good morning to you, sir.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Hey, T.J.. That's right. Beautiful morning here in Apalachicola. And you know the water in the Apalachicola River behind me comes from a long way off, northern Georgia. Now, in the grips of a terrible drought, the folks in Atlanta say that one of the few reasons the flow of water has not been reduced to help them out is in order to protect a couple of endangered species, a sturgeon and a mussel. Well, the people here say there's far more to it.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): Five days a week for the past 20 years, Eugene King has made a living on the oyster bed of Apalachicola Bay on Florida's panhandle. For King and Chris Golden on the next boat over, this is a way of life. But their way of life, they fear, may be coming to an end.
CHIRS GOLDER, OYSTERMAN: Well, these oyster her, their behavior here because they're not getting enough fresh water.
ZARRELLA: The fresh water from the bay comes from here the Apalachicola River. For eons, it has provided the perfect mix of salt and fresh water to sustain a smorgasbord of aquatic life. But the historic drought in the southeast slowed the flow of fresh water from its source hundreds of miles north in Georgia. Now, officials there are calling on the army corps of engineers to further reduce the amount of water leaving Georgia.
DAN TONSMEIRE, APALACHICOLA RIVERKEEPER: We need the water just as much as they do.
ZARRELLA: Dan Tonsmeire heads Riverkeepers, a group dedicated to preserving the Apalachicola River.
TONSMEIRE: I don't know what the future holds for them without fresh water. The signs are already there as the salt water from the Gulf of Mexico replaces fresh, upsetting the perfect balance. Cacti along the river bank turning brown. In the bay, salt water creatures that feast on oysters are moving in. Scientists aren't sure how long it would take without fresh water before the environmental damage would be irreversible. State officials say losing the oyster industry would cost Florida $126 million and bring an end to a way of life.
ZARRELLA (on-screen): Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tomorrow is expected to issue a biological opinion on the effects of reducing the water flow further and next month the governors of Georgia, Florida and Alabama are going to meet, not far from here in Tallahassee to try and cobble out some kind of a water compromise. T.J.
HOLMES: Water compromise. Sad to hear that he may be the last one, the last in his generation of his family to do that. That's too bad. Hopefully that won't be the case. John Zarrella, thank you so much.
And actually in Atlanta, they're praying that that won't be the case. They were praying. The governor of Georgia, as well as some other religious leaders praying that it starts to rain. So, were their prayers answered?
HOLMES: Jacqui Jeras is the one to tell us that. Jacqui, are they still need to pray a little bit maybe?
JACQUI JERAS, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Well, yes, definitely, although every little bit helps, right guys? And we're going to get some that help today. So, prayers are answered in the terms that we think we'll get some rain today but in the long-term picture is still not good. This is definitely not a drought-busting rain. But at this point, we'll take what we can get, right? This is the same storm system that has been the wind maker and today it turns into the rainmaker as it approaches the southeast. It's going to start into some moisture here from the Gulf of Mexico and bring in some spotty showers and thunderstorms. Now, the good news about this, it's thunderstorms. Thunderstorms hold a little bit more moisture and we can get maybe a good inch or so of rainfall out of it. But the bad news with thunderstorms is not that steady rain that sticks around, so it would be a little bit hit and miss. Some of those thunderstorms could be strong, a little bit farther to the west in the lower Mississippi River Valley. So, watch out for large hail and potential for damaging wind.
There you can see a little moisture still lingering around. It's pretty overcast and we're starting to saturate things a little bit into the levels. There you can see Chattanooga and here's Atlanta, this is Lake Lanier. This is the one that we need it to fill up and it will take four inches of rainfall to saturate the soil enough to get any kind of runoff to even go into that reservoir. So, the ground is very, very dry and in fact, if you just kind of walk along dust just kind of pops up on you.
So, it's a very dire situation. How much rain are we going to get out of this front? Well, some of the other drought-ridden areas are going to get a reasonable amount into northern parts of Alabama and northern Mississippi and into Tennessee. They're in a very similar situation at least in terms of the rainfall deficits and that green that you see here, that's about an inch or so of rain, we're expecting more like a half an inch if we're lucky in Atlanta and some of the reservoir areas. Kiran.
CHETRY: Jacqui, thanks so much.
And could, well maybe Jacqui wasn't trying but a lot of people were trying to get Hannah Montana tickets. If you couldn't get them, you're not alone. Some fans are now fighting back. We're going to explain the controversy.
CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. About eight minutes before the top of the hour. And if you're just joining us, here's a look at the headlines this morning.
A report that Blackwater security guards shot and killed Iraqi civilians without cause. According to today's "New York Times," the FBI finds the guards were not fired on in Baghdad back in September 14th and at least 14 of the cases the findings show that shootings were unjustified and in violation of deadly force rules.
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is expected to officially drop his plan to offer licenses to illegal immigrants today. Critics like CNN's Lou Dobbs blasted the plan and voters seem to agree. Recent polls showing about 70 percent of New Yorkers were against it. Spitzer defended it as a chance to bring people out of the shadows.
The L.A. County coroner awaiting toxicology reports after performing an autopsy on hip hop star, Kanye West's mother. She died this past weekend following plastic surgery. According to legal documents filled in California, the plastic surgeon who operated on her has had judgments against him and at least two malpractice cases. HOLMES: Miley Cyrus are suing the fan club over the hottest concert ticket of the year. Fans of Cyrus who plays Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel show say they paid $29.95 to join the Miley Cyrus fan club with the expectation that it would be easier to get concert tickets. The lawsuit says the club should have known that it couldn't get tickets for all of its members. The problem here, of course, all those brokers bought up all the tickets and then they put them back online, to sell them at those inflated prices. "Minding your business" here, Ali Velshi. I don't know that could be good business for some. You hate it for the fans but you know.
CHETRY: You couldn't get your hands on tickets.
ALI VELSHI, CNN, "MINDING YOUR BUSINESS": Good business and unfair are two different things and that's one of those things that really does need to be looked at. Tickets in general are business that still needs a little examination.
CHETRY: How about this? This girl is on fire. I mean, people are trying to get Hannah Montana.
VELSHI: Yes, I didn't know who Miley Cyrus was and I just kept hearing these stories. Let me tell you about something that doesn't seem entirely fair. It makes sense that if gas prices are around 3 bucks, $3.10 a gallon, on average across the nation, folks who have a lot of money are going to spend less of their income on gas than people who have less money. Take a look at these numbers though. The oil price information services did a survey of this. Americans, low- income Americans spend up to eight times more of their disposable income on gasoline than wealthy people do. We compared Wilcox, Alabama to Hunterdon County, New Jersey. In Wilcox, we're looking at $20,000 in average income and in New Jersey almost $90,000. The folks in Alabama were spending 12.75 percent of their income to fuel one car. In New Jersey, 1.5 percent.
Look at the states where the percentages were the highest. Percentages where people spend more than 11 percent of their income on average to fuel a car - Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky. This is important because when you're talking about how these gas prices affect people's ability to spend and going into the holiday season. It's going to affect some people, highly disproportionately. You're spending 11 percent of your income on gasoline on one car. And remember, poorer areas, rural areas do not have the same infrastructure for travel. So in New Jersey, in New York, you're traveling, you know, you got public transport. You don't use your car nearly as much. In fact, the stats show that people in rural areas and poorer areas drive more.
CHETRY: Right, you're forced to drive more. The other interesting question is about whether or not it's changing habits and when people buy their next car, they're going to go hybrid or they're going with these smaller, the smart car.
VELSHI: And if you're a heavy user and it's a big part of your income, it's definitely worth that thought about getting a car that's more fuel efficient but big story, big interesting discrepancy. CHETRY: It really is. Ali, thank you.
CHETRY: Well, he was busted on Facebook for lying at work and now Kevin, the intern, is all over the internet. Help, it may even help him get a new internship. We're going to explain what happened and we'll be reading some of your e-mails to see how many of you have supposedly called in sick to work when you weren't sick.
CHETRY: Unjustified. This morning, the FBI on the deadly Blackwater shooting in Iraq.
There goes the neighborhood. Think the mortgage crisis isn't your problem? How your home might be losing value, too.
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