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President's Trip to Mexico Just the Beginning Step in Reengaging America's Southern Neighbors; Maersk Crew Home on U.S. Soil, Captain Phillips Returning Soon; Seizing Pirate Assets to Stop the Violence; U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Discusses Drug Wars; Marijuana Legalization Debate

Aired April 16, 2009 - 06:59   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And once again, welcome. We're coming up to the top of the hour here on AMERICAN MORNING. It's Thursday, April 16th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm John Roberts. Taxes in yesterday.

Here's what on the agenda this morning, stories that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes here on the Most News in the Morning.

First, breaking news. Cheers and tears of joy at Andrews Air Force Base overnight. The Alabama crew coming home, stepping on U.S. soil for the first time since they kicked armed pirates off of their ship.

And right now, we're standing by hoping to see their captain, Richard Phillips. It's believed that he's still onboard the Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge, which you're looking at a live picture of now, at the port in Mombasa, Kenya. Pulled in about three hours ago.

And President Obama heading to Mexico in about three hours, his first trip south of the border. A drug war on the agenda. We're talking to his Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is already on the ground in Mexico. That's coming up in about 20 minutes here on the Most News in the Morning.

CHETRY: We begin now with breaking news.

It was a happy, tear-filled homecoming this Thursday morning. The crew of the Maersk Alabama, the U.S.-flagged cargo ship that was hijacked last week by Somali pirates, arrived in the U.S. overnight. There were smiles and hugs and welcome homes, and now the boys await their skipper, Captain Richard Phillips.

He was detoured when the Navy destroyer that was carrying him, the USS Bainbridge, was called to help another ship that was attacked by pirates. Now, that ship is still in port in Kenya and Captain Phillips will be in the air heading home at any moment.

CNN has every stop covered along their journey home. David McKenzie standing by for us waiting for Captain Phillips to appear on the docks in Mombasa, Kenya. First, though, to Chris Lawrence. He's live in Oxon Hill, Maryland, where a reunion party was held late last night for family members and loved ones.

Hey, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran, yes. The crew had just a few hours of sleep. The crew and their families are just starting to get up and around. They're in the building behind me, and they're going to be getting ready for a private breakfast here in the next hour or so.

And, you know, as you take a look at some of the celebration that happened as they got back here to Andrews Air Force Base in the middle of the night, we're learning more details about what they went through when those pirates boarded their ship.

Apparently, the pirates came aboard shooting as they climbed up the rope on to the ship. One of the crew members managed to sound the alarm right before a pirate shoved a gun right in his face. And others say they -- one of the crew members even stabbed one of the pirates with an ice pick. That kind of gives you an idea of why these crew members were so excited when they got home to see their families.


QUESTION: Tell us how it feels to be back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It feels wonderful, feels wonderful.

QUESTION: That's your wife?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my daughter.

QUESTION: Your daughter. So how does it feel to be off the plane?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's great. We were cheering in there as soon as we landed. There's spontaneous cheering.


LAWRENCE: Yes. You can certainly understand that. But again, this was one ship. What about all the other ships? That is the question now for the U.S. Last year, there were about 120, 130 pirate attacks. This year alone, already 80, so this is a problem that's growing - Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Chris Lawrence for us this morning. Thanks so much.

ROBERTS: Right now, we're waiting for Captain Richard Phillips to appear. He's expected to step off of the USS Bainbridge any moment now, and then fly home to Andrews Air Force Base. The man who gave himself up to pirates to save his crew will certainly be getting a hero's welcome. Our David McKenzie is live for us this morning in Mombasa, Kenya. He's been doing yeoman duty after about 48 hours now running covering the story.

We've been looking at these pictures, David, of the Bainbridge for the last three hours. Haven't seen a whole lot of movement other than some trash being taken off the ship. Do we know if Captain Phillips is still aboard?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, we do believe that Captain Phillips is, in fact, still aboard. It's a blustery day here in Mombasa. The press corps has been waiting here for hours and the ship came in earlier.

There's a lot of excitement. The USS Bainbridge obviously involved in that high stakes drama out at sea. It came into Mombasa some hours ago. The crew was represented on the side of the ship. They docked at the port.

They played "Sweet Home Alabama" when they landed which makes sense in a way because the Maersk Alabama is just a few vessels (ph) down in the port of Mombasa. And Captain Phillips, the central character in this amazing story, really a hero to much of the crew of that Maersk Alabama. He is on the ship. We believe that at some point he'll be leaving and most likely taking a chartered flight straight back to the U.S. -- John.

ROBERTS: David McKenzie with the very latest this morning from the port of Mombasa in Kenya. David, thanks so much for that.

The Obama administration is attacking pirates by going after what they crave the most -- money. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced plans to freeze assets belonging to the pirates operating off of Somalia's coast.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: These pirates are criminals. They are armed gangs on the sea. And those plotting attacks must be stopped and those who have carried them out must be brought to justice. Let me underscore this point. The United States does not make concessions or ransom payments to pirates.


ROBERTS: The State Department is also planning to work with the shipping industry to develop ways to defend against attacks. In the past, they have been reluctant to arm crew members.

CHETRY: Also developing now, President Obama making his first trip south of the border today. The drug war, another big item on the agenda. He's leaving for Mexico in about three hours now. And from there he'll attend the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

And White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux has more now on what's at stake for your money and your security. SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, one of the main issues when the president arrives here in Mexico City is going to be the drug violence. It was just yesterday his Homeland Security secretary named a border czar. It is a new position to try to help deal with the violence that has exploded across the U.S. Mexican border when it comes to those drug cartels.

This is just one of many issues that Obama will be dealing with in his first trip here as president.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Obama's goal -- to forge a new relationship with Latin America.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are ready to turn a page and write a new chapter in this story.

MALVEAUX: As a candidate, he slammed President Bush for neglecting the region.

OBAMA: We need to be full partners with those countries, show them the respect that they deserve. That's how all of us are going to move forward.

MALVEAUX: Now he says it's time to re-engage our southern neighbors. His first stop, Mexico, to show support for its president, Felipe Calderon, who's taking on his country's violent drug cartels.

FELIPE CALDERON, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: We need to stop the flow of guns and weapons towards Mexico.

MALVEAUX: Here Mr. Obama will reiterate what his attorney general and secretaries of state and Homeland Security have said visiting this side of the border. The U.S. shares the responsibility and blame for the deadly flow of drugs and weapons across the U.S.- Mexico border.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Our demand for drugs is what motivates these drug gangs.

MALVEAUX: Immigration reform which collapsed under President Bush will be another hot button issue.

Friday, Mr. Obama heads to the twin island Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago for the Fifth Summit of the Americas. There, he'll be one of 34 world leaders addressing the summit's official agenda, which includes the global economic crisis, the environment, energy, democracy, and security. But many political analysts say Mr. Obama's most important task will be to reconcile a bruised and neglected relationship with the western hemisphere.

PETER DESHAZO, DIRECTOR OF AMERICAN PROGRAM, CSIS: That's the key -- the key factor there. A desire to work with the United States just as the United States is going to demonstrate its desire to cooperate with the countries in the region. MALVEAUX: Aides say the president's approach will be similar to the one he used in Europe last week, to listen and learn, as well as lead.


MALVEAUX: I talked with White House aides who say not to expect any big breakthroughs from this trip, but they do want to set a different kind of tone, a new tone between the United States and Latin America -- John, Kiran.

CHETRY: Suzanne Malveaux, thanks.

And the president's Homeland Security secretary is already south of the border. Janet Napolitano will be joining us live in just 10 minutes. We're going to ask her how the U.S. can assist and how we should respond to the bloody violence on the border.

ROBERTS: Eight minutes after the hour, new this morning.

North Korea's decision to kick U.S. weapons experts out of the country is being called a step backward by the State Department. North Korea made the decision to order inspectors out after the U.N. Security Council condemned Pyongyang's launch of what is widely thought to be a long-range ballistic missile. Negotiators are still offering North Korea "a path to get back in the good graces of the international community."

It's like marriage without the "m" word. The Washington State legislature has passed everything but a marriage bill that grants same-sex couples all the right and benefits that the state offers married couples. It goes now to the governor who is expected to sign it into law.

And more of CNN's exclusive one-on-one interview with President Obama. We'll tell you what the president says he expects his new border czar to do to stop drugs and violence from spilling over into the United States from Mexico.

Coming up now on nine minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Coming up now on 11 minutes after the hour. And let's fast forward to stories that will be making news later on today.

The crew of the Maersk Alabama celebrates their homecoming on U.S. soil as their captain, Richard Phillips, is in Mombasa, Kenya right now. Live pictures here from the port in Mombasa. That's the USS Bainbridge. We believe he's still onboard and is expected to fly back to the United States sometime today.

At 10:00 Eastern, New York Governor David Paterson will formally announce plans to introduce same-sex marriage legislation in the state assembly. If that legislation passes, New York would be the fifth state to legalize gay marriage. Similar measures were passed this month in Vermont and Iowa.

Also today, family members of the victims, the survivors of the Virginia Tech shootings will mark the two-year anniversary of that tragedy. Classes at the college will be cancelled today, and later on this evening there will be candlelight vigil and a memorial ceremony.

And President Obama departs this morning for his first visit to Latin America. This afternoon, Mr. Obama will meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Tomorrow he'll attend the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, which would be a lovely place to go for a Summit of the Americas...

CHETRY: Exactly.

ROBERTS: ... if I do say so myself.

CHETRY: Nice choice this time of the year.

Well, you've seen President Obama talked exclusively to CNN this morning. Now, we have more from that one-on-one interview. The president telling us how he plans to stop the flow of drugs from Mexico as well as the role of his new border czar.


JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN EN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT: One of the issues that is discussed in Mexico is that that government spends between $7 billion and $8 billion dollars in their war on drugs while the U.S. invested $1.4 billion for the Merida Initiative that includes Central America and is spread out through several years. It's not seen as equitable.

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it's important to recognize that my budget has actually sought to increase by about 50 percent the amount of money that we're spending. We are already moving forward on, for example, Black Hawk helicopters to be sent to Mexico to help in the fight against the drug cartels. So, I want to put as much additional resources as we can into this effort.

I think Mexico has been very serious about dealing with the problem. There are a number of Central American countries who are going to need our assistance as well. And my commitment is to make sure that the United States is working in a multilateral fashion with all the countries in the region are finally putting an end to the power and the strength of these drug cartels.

LOPEZ: Will the immigration reform be part of this --this whole process? And also, you've named a border czar. Was this consulted with Mexico, and what is he going to do?

OBAMA: Well, the goal of the border czar is to help coordinate all the various agencies that fall under the Department of Homeland Security, and so that we are confident that the border patrols are working effectively with ICE, working effectively with our law enforcement agencies. So he's really a coordinator that can be directly responsible to Secretary Napolitano and ultimately directly accountable to me.

There has been a lot of interaction between Mexican officials and officials on our side of the border. And Janet Napolitano has already been there. She and John Brennan, who is part of my national security team are currently there. We're going to continue to coordinate effectively.

Now immigration reform has to be part of a broader strategy to deal with our border issues and as I've said repeatedly, I am a strong proponent of comprehensive immigration reform. I've already met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and committed to working with them to try to shape an agenda that can move through Congress. And this is something that I think is important not just because of the drug cartel issue. It's important because of the human cost of an ongoing flow of illegal immigrants into this country. It's something that we need to solve.


CHETRY: Well, the president is also in Mexico to talk about important trade issues. Of course, we'll cover everything and every aspect of his trip down there.

ROBERTS: Well, yesterday was tax deadline day. And on tax deadline day, the White House released the Obamas and the Biden's tax returns. Largely in part due to his bestselling books, the president and his wife reported an adjusted gross income of $2.6 million. You see why I was too stunned to be able to actually say it. They paid just over $855,000 in taxes.

The Biden's reported a far more modest yet still pretty healthy income of $269,000. They paid almost $47,000 in federal income taxes.

The Obamas donated about 6.5 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity. But the Biden's donated less than one percent, which prompted the White House to explain that the Biden's donate with their time as well as with their paycheck.

CHETRY: All right. Well, President Obama is heading to Mexico as we said in less than three hours. It's his first trip south of the border and a drug war on the agenda. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is already there. She's going to be joining us live, next.

Also, we're going to meet an average American marijuana user. He said smoking a joint to him is just like having a beer, but that he's too embarrassed to show his face. We're going to take a look at the stigma of pot smoking and whether legalizing it would lift the cloud and take the teeth out of the violent drug war.

It's 16 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: And welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. With the border plagued by drug violence and immigration reform on the shelf, at least for now, President Obama is making his first trip to Mexico this morning. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is already there. She joins us live from Mexico City.

Secretary, thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: We heard from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said that America's insatiable demand for drugs is in part fueling the drug wars. Do you think that we're partly to blame for the violence we've been seeing along the borders?

NAPOLITANO: Well, there certainly is a relationship. You can't deny it. These are huge drug cartels that have developed over time. They are very violent -- witness the fact that there were over 6,000 homicides in northern Mexico last year, including 550 that were assassinations of law enforcement or public officials in Mexico.

What we're working to do is to work to stop the flow of guns and cash into Mexico that are helping fuel these cartels. But also, we're working at the border to make sure that the spillover violence doesn't occur on our own -- in our own cities and communities.

CHETRY: You know, it's interesting, Madam Secretary. We've been having this debate all week of our special report, "Drug Nation." One of the things that keeps coming up is legalization. Some say we just pull the rug right under -- from underneath the cartels if we legalize, let's say, marijuana. Is that something that the administration is even considering as realistic?

NAPOLITANO: No, it is not. And this is, to me, it's a law- enforcement issue. It is preventing illegal narcotics and illegal immigrants from coming into our country on the northbound side. It's preventing illegal guns and cash from going south into Mexico, and working with the government of Mexico to increase their own law- enforcement capacity.

CHETRY: We had former Colorado Congressman and fierce opponent of illegal immigration, Tom Tancredo. He was on our show Friday. He said that we're making it a lot harder than it has to be. I want you to listen to what he said and respond.


FORMER REP. THOMAS G. TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: To stop all of the drugs, to stop all of the illegal immigration, and you can do this. It does not take, you know, an army, arm in arm across the border. You need to have the technology that the military can provide with UABs, or unmanned aerial vehicles, along with a fence, along with human resources.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: Now, as governor of Arizona, you also supported sending National Guard trips to the border. It's still under review now. Why haven't we seen that done yet?

NAPOLITANO: Well, first of all, it is under review. One of the things we've asked the governor of Texas, in particular for it, he just got back to us, is what would the national guard do? What would the mission be? Because you don't just throw National Guard at the border.

We don't have a military border, per se. But we use National Guard in targeted, mission-specific ways. When I was governor of Arizona, I called the National Guard down to the border to help back up border patrol because we were having such a high influx of illegal immigration.

But overall, what you need at the border is civilian law enforcement. That means, on our side, immigration, customs enforcement, and state and local, tribal law enforcement, the same on the Mexican side.

You need technology. You need things, like, sensors and radar. And you need the equipment that goes along with that. You have a system. And then you have a process whereby in the United States, we make sure we're enforcing our immigration laws against the employers who consistently go into that illegal labor market in order to exploit it.

CHETRY: And you've been a proponent of e-verify. Some people are fiercely against it. It's where you can almost instantaneously type in a Social Security number and find out whether that person's legal. Are we going to see that expand?

NAPOLITANO: I hope so. I believe e-verify needs to be an integral part of our immigration enforcement moving forward. I used it extensively as the governor of Arizona. As an employer, we used it to verify legal residence of potential employees of the state. We required our contractors to do the same thing. So I know how the system works. It's a very practical, easy -- easy-to-accomplish adjunct to enforcement of our immigration laws; that is, giving employers a fairly easy and routine way to verify -- e-verify -- legal residents.

CHETRY: And Secretary, just have to ask you before you go. You've been getting a lot of pushback over this leaked domestic intelligence report warning of right-wing extremist groups. Conservative and veterans' groups saying that it unfairly targeted returning military veterans and gun-rights advocates without actually citing specific threats. How do you respond?

NAPOLITANO: Well, this is an assessment, not an accusation, as the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization released yesterday. But I know that some veterans' groups were offended by the fact that veterans were mentioned in this assessment. So, I apologize for that offense. It was certainly not intended. I'll be meeting with the leaders of some of those groups next week. CHETRY: All right, Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security secretary, in Mexico City this morning, thanks for your time.

NAPOLITANO: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Fed up Texans yelling secede. See what the outspoken governor of Texas said to a crowd of wild anti-tax tea party.

And Sarah Palin's first major GOP event outside of Alaska since the election. What it says about her plans for 2012.

It's coming up at 25 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

With President Obama heading to Mexico City this morning, we're taking a serious look at the bloody drug war on the border and how addiction in this country is fueling it in our series "Drug Nation."

Today, we're taking a look at marijuana, the most widely used illegal drug in the United States and whether bringing it out of the shadows would solve anything.

Jason Carroll joins us now. You know, we just heard from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.


CHETRY: I said would this administration even consider legalizing?

CARROLL: Flat-out no.


CARROLL: Right. But it doesn't mean that this debate still isn't taking on a real sense of urgency. Mexico's Congress just finished a three-day debate over whether or not to legalize marijuana. The idea seems to be gaining support there, and it's an idea that's been kicked around in the United States for years.


CARROLL (voice-over): He does not want his face or name revealed. We'll call him Alex. He's 29, married, successfully working in the financial industry and a regular marijuana user.

ALEX, REGULAR MARIJUANA USER: There's a stigma attached to using marijuana. I don't think that stereotype applies to everyone. And really, I simply equate it to having a beer.

CARROLL: People like Alex are fueling the debate in America over legalizing marijuana. ALEX: I think it's a personal choice. I don't think that the government should have the power to prevent my use or criminalize my use of marijuana.

CARROLL: The most recent survey shows nearly 15 million people admitted using marijuana in a given month, a higher number than any other illegal substance. Forty percent of drug arrests are for marijuana.

Advocates say legalization would ease the burden on law enforcement and help put cartels out of business. But some on the front lines say cartels would just change the way they'd do business.

BOB STUTMAN, FORMER AGENT, DEA: They'd simply go back to methamphetamine or up their cocaine production or go back to the heroin production.

CARROLL: Bob Stutman, a former drug enforcement agent, earned a reputation as one of the agency's highest profile drug busters. He says legalization sends the wrong message and would just encourage more users.

STUTMAN: Are we willing to accept the potential negative effects of more use of marijuana added on to alcohol and tobacco simply because it is the recreational drug of choice of a fairly vocal minority.

CARROLL: In that minority, Mexico's former deputy foreign minister says he supports gradual legalization in the United States at a time when drug-related violence is on the rise in Mexico.

ANDRES ROZENTAL, FORMER DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER, MEXICO: What we've seen over the years is that every time there's been a change in the interdiction strategy, what has happened is that the drugs have found other routes and other ways to move to the countries where there is a demand.

CARROLL: As the debate continues, so, too, does the use with recreational smokers like Alex who has no plans to stop.

ALEX: You can't curb demand, so I think alternative solutions must be found.


CARROLL: Well, some experts say if you really want to win the war on drugs, the effort has to be twofold. First, cut the drugs at the source. And that means dismantling the cartels by going after their leaders. Second, invest in more prevention programs to teach people about the adverse effects of taking drugs.

CHETRY: All right. Jason Carroll for us, thanks.

CARROLL: All right.

ROBERTS: We're going to continue our special coverage of "Drug Nation" in just 60 seconds.

But first, at half past the hour, a look at this morning's top stories and breaking news to tell you about today.

Cheers and cheers and tears of joy at Andrews Air Force Base overnight. The Alabama crew coming home, stepping of U.S. soil for the first time since they kicked armed pirates off of their ship last week. And right now, we're standing by hoping to see their captain Richard Phillips.

These are live pictures from Mombasa, Kenya. It's believed that he is still on board the Navy destroyer, the USS Bainbridge which pulled into port in Mombasa about three hours ago.

And a record jump in the number of people losing their homes to foreclosure last month. reports more than 175,000 homes were lost to foreclosure in March. That's a 44 percent increase over February. March was the first month in which government-backed lenders including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lifted temporary halt on foreclosures, causing a flood of repossessed homes.

And back now to our special series, "Drug Nation." The war on the border and marijuana's role in it. And all week, we've been asking you whether legalizing drugs like pot could help fix the problem.

Here are a few of your responses.


CALLER: The law never stops anyone from smoking marijuana. And we might as well just make money off of it.

CALLER: If we legalize marijuana, there would be plenty more jobs out there for people who need them, such as growers at the plant and distributors.

CALLER: Mother nature cannot be made to be illegal. Marijuana is an herb, it's not a drug.


ROBERTS: We're joined now by two men whose lives used to revolve around the drug war. Asa Hutchinson used to head the Drug Enforcement Administration during the Bush administration, he is against legalization. And Neil Franklin is a former lieutenant colonel with the Baltimore Police Department and part of the group LEAF, which stands for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Both are in Washington this morning.

It's good to see you. Asa, it's good to see you again, it's been a number of years.


ROBERTS: Neil, let me go to you first. Give us the case for the legalization of marijuana, from the front line perspective?

NEIL FRANKLIN, FORMER LT. COL. BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, from the frontline perspective, it's pretty simple. We've heard a lot of discussion regarding the economic benefits we get from it, but mine goes much deeper than that.

We've heard about the deaths that have been occurring in Mexico, well over 6,000. Law enforcement officials, well over 500 had been assassinated in Mexico. But we forget about the deaths that are occurring here in our very own United States from law enforcement to citizens.

You know, a life is a life. And I think that many people see the people dying as those being in the game, the so-called game of this drug war. But every day, we have tens and maybe to the point of hundreds, I know annually we have well over a thousand young people, dying in this country because they're caught up in the illegal drug market.

So, for me, it's the life.

ROBERTS: So, you're saying, Neil, then that if you were to legalize at least marijuana, you might cut down on some of those deaths.

Asa Hutchinson, let's go to you and let's get the opposite side of the coin. When you look at the way that we've been fighting the drug war, it's really been on two fronts, it's been enforcement and it's been reducing demand. Neither one of those is working particularly well. So is it time for a third way?

HUTCHINSON: Well, to put it in perspective, since the '70s and '80s, overall drug use has declined by 50 percent in the United States. So, concentrated effort doesn't eliminate the problem, but it certainly reduces drug usage and harmful drugs here in our country.

But if you look at the violence issue, which we're all wanting to address, certainly you got to reduce demand in the United States, it's a contributing problem. But if you legalize marijuana, as previously Mr. Stutman pointed out, the cartels are going to engage in cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine. There's a whole host of illegal drugs and I don't know very many people, if any, want to legalize all of those very, very harmful drugs.

So, marijuana legalization is not the answer to the problem of violence in our country or in Mexico.

ROBERTS: Well, what about that, Neil? If you legalize marijuana, you'd still have an enormous illegal drug trade in the other drugs that Asa Hutchinson just mentioned and that making the case to legalize everything is a pretty difficult one.

HUTCHINSON: Well, overall the usage is not going to change here in the United States. We've been at this war for well over 30 years, closer to 40 years, four decades. And you know the amount of drugs coming in to this country has not decreased, it hasn't remained the same, it has increased. Whether we're talking marijuana, whether we're talking cocaine or heroin.

And I need to say this. You can ask anyone, whether it's an addict, whether it's a dealer, whether the supply has decreased for them. Whether they're having difficulty locating drugs to sell. Their answer is no. They have plenty. And that is quite evident because the costs is steadily going down.

ROBERTS: What about that point, Asa? That you can fight the drug war for decades. You can fight to reduce demand for decades and you still got all of the violence. You know, it's at a level now where we're becoming extraordinarily concerned about it and that the way that we've been fighting the drug war, just isn't working?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think that, first of all, it's not just about law enforcement. It's about treatment and education. Very key components to being successful.

And I define success and fighting drugs as not totally eliminating the temptation of illegal drugs, but it is reducing it. Making sure young people make the right decision, saving lives in the course of that.

The fact is, there's really no popular movement in the United States to legalize marijuana. The ballot initiatives, the most you can win is sometimes medical marijuana. But if you put the popular initiative on the ballot to legalize marijuana, it's going to go down overwhelmingly, because parents, communities understand that it's a harmful drug that is only going to increase the demand if you legalize that and it's not the right direction.

ROBERTS: Given the climate, that environment out there, Neil, how do you make your case for legalization?

FRANKLIN: I do need to address this regarding a popular poll. I, for one, believe CNN is a very popular news station. And you are conducting your poll at this very moment through your listeners. And if I'm not mistaken, at 7:10 this morning, the poll was this: 48 percent of your listeners say that we should legalize all drugs. I believe it was 45 percent said marijuana. And it was only seven percent that said that we should not legalize anything.

That is quite evident to me that our U.S. citizens are fed up. They are tired. They know that this is not working by any means and that we need to take a different approach.

As far as education and treatment, I am directly involved in both of those areas. One of the advantages that I have over most people is that I see this thing from many different perspectives. From a bureaucratic perspective as commanding a number of task forces while with the Maryland State Police all the way to working in a community, I grew up in the drug community. I enforce and commanded officers who work in the drug committee. So overall, I have many different perspectives. I've also worked on a task force with citizens who have lost their son to drug overdoses, treatment I'm very familiar with.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, obviously this debate is going to rage on.

We appreciate perspectives from both sides of the fence on this from law enforcement. Neil Franklin, Asa Hutchinson, thanks very much for being with us this morning. It's good to see both of you gentlemen.

FRANKLIN: Thank you very much.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you very much.


CHETRY: Here's some of the big stories we're tracking for you this morning at 38 minutes past the hour now.

U.S. Midwest -- Mideast Envoy George Mitchell is in Israel this morning. He's meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as President Shimon Perez and the country's new foreign minister. CNN's going to be bringing you tales from the important meeting as they happen.

Also, today is the day the Obama administration is expected to release some formerly top secret information about the CIA interrogation program. The names of prisoners will be kept secret, but internal memos that show how the Department of Justice attorney gave legal guidance of the interrogations could be made public.

And he is at it again, Donald Trump still calling Rosie O'Donnell names. We're going to hear what he called her on "LARRY KING" last night and why this feud doesn't seem to be dying down.

Thirty-eight minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Forty-one minute past the hour right now.

And just in to CNN this morning, JP Morgan Chase announcing first quarter profits beating Wall Street expectations. President Obama has been talking about glimmers of hope in the economy, so is this another example. Our personal finance Gerri Willis is here now with the numbers and what they mean.

Hi, Gerri. Good to see you this morning.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Good to see you guys. And good morning, everybody.

Yes, JP Morgan Chase reporting net income for the first quarter of $2.1 billion. This surprised Wall Street which had expected less. The company is reporting earnings of 40 cents a share. The expectations had been that the company would earn 32 cents a share. This is better than expected but down 10 percent from a year ago. And now JP Morgan Chase is joining Bank of America - pardon me - two other companies, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo earlier this week that reported surprising announcements on the banking front. Now, what's interesting about this is large banks like this, national banks like this have so many lines of business that when they report earnings, it tells you something about what's going on in the economy.

And it's interesting to note here that some of the consumer businesses lagging, charge offs and credit cards are up 7.7 percent, guys. And I just have to tell you this is an important number here, what happens to credit card businesses. Because this tells you how well consumers are doing. Consumers are responsible for two-thirds of economic spending. So when they are having problems, the economy is having problems.

The good news here, bottom line, the company is doing better than we expected.

CHETRY: All right. That is good news. Thanks, Gerri.

ROBERTS: Just in to CNN as well. We learned that the families of the Maersk Alabama crew were given a tour of the White House yesterday. President Obama did not meet with them during their visit though. He's getting ready for his trip to Mexico in just a few hours.

And take a look at the live picture. We're monitoring the USS Bainbridge in Kenya. It's in the port of Mombasa to see Captain Richard Phillips to get off the ship and board a plane to come back home, which is expected later on today.

In our "Political Ticker" this Thursday, Texans are fired up. Major hoopla at an anti-tax tea party. The crowd waved flags and yelled secede. Governor Rick Perry told the crowd that one of the three tea parties that he attended across the state yesterday that, "officials in Washington have abandoned the country's founding principles of limited government."

He also suggested that Texans might, at some point, might get so fed up that they would want to secede from the union.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reached an important milestone in her quest to pay off the debt from her failed presidential bid. For the first time in eight months, her campaign committee reported having more money in the bank than what it owes to creditors.

And is Bristol Palin's ex-fiance really a deadbeat dad? That's what Governor Sarah Palin's father seems to be implying. After Levi Johnston appeared on the "Tyra Banks Show." Governor Palin's father told the magazine that, "wishes that Levi would take some of this money that he's making and buy some diapers with it."

And that's what's making the news on this morning's "Political Ticker."

CHETRY: All right. Well, we're waiting for a hero to come home. We're hoping to see Captain Richard Phillips emerge from the USS Bainbridge. There it is. It's docked right now in Mombasa, Kenya. He could be walking off at any moment now. Meanwhile the crew of Phillips' hijacked ship Maersk Alabama is now back on American soil. The reunion quite an emotional one and we'll have it for you.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

It's a new era beginning today in the South Bronx, opening day for the new $1.3 billion Yankee stadium. There's a pretty shot of it. Just across the street from the original "House That Ruth Built."

The granite and limestone exterior designed to evoke the Yankee's original 1923 stadium. Inside, though, it has all of the bells and whistles of a modern sports arena and more. There's a Hard Rock Cafe, even a martini bar.

How about that? A martini bar in the Yankee Stadium. I wonder what "The Bambino" would say about that. I bet he actually like it, right? Babe Ruth.

ROBERTS: I would think that Babe might be spending a little time there.

CHETRY: Exactly.

ROBERTS: What a cost difference. 1923 when they built the first one was $2.5 million.

CHETRY: My how times have changed. And our Rob Marciano is our resident Yankee fan extraordinaire.

What do you think? Do you like the new stadium?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It looks good. You know, last year we did a story about how whether how the grounds crew dealt with the weather at the old Yankee stadium. And I think we probably need to do a follow-up, don't you think?

CHETRY: Right, exactly. You searched far and wide to find a link between weather and Yankee Stadium. You did it. I'm sure you can do it again.

MARCIANO: You know, investigative reporting at its best right here.


MARCIANO: It will be 58 degrees in New York City. That is picture perfect opening day weather. John and Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: All right. We like it. Thanks, Rob.

ROBERTS: Here's what we're working on for you this morning.

Before leaving for Mexico, President Obama sits down for an exclusive interview with CNN en Espanol. Hear what he's saying about helping Mexico combat deadly drug violence.

And teens taking sexually explicit photos of themselves and texting them to friends. It's call sexting and it's illegal and the punishment can ruin young lives forever. The sexting debate, do we need to back off? Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

Ten minutes now to the top of the hour.


ROBERTS: We're asking you for your help this morning in a race to a million followers on Twitter. No one has ever made it to a million followers on the website and hot shot Ashton Kutcher thinks that he can beat us there. Kutcher and CNN are both just a few thousand followers short of a million on Twitter, and Kutcher has thrown down the gauntlet and he's doing it in a charitable way.

The first person - whether it's Kutcher, whether it's CNN - to get to a million followers on Twitter will donate 10,000 mosquito nets to charity for World Malaria Day on April 25th. So, we obviously would like to be the ones to donate all of those mosquito nets, so we want to get there first.

And here is how you can help. If you're already a Twitter member, just go to CNNBRK, that stands for CNN Breaking News. CNNBRK and click "Follow."

If you're not a member of Twitter, it's really easy to sign up. You just go to, click on the big green "Get Started" box, enter your name, pick your username, a password and a valid e-mail address, and click on "Create My Account" and then go to "Follow CNNBRK."

We only need about 50,000 of you to hit that magic number. So hurry, we want to beat this guy and we want to donate those mosquito nets.

CHETRY: I was just trying to see if I can check on real quick how - if we caught up since we told people to go to it.


CHETRY: I got it right here. Where are they now?

ROBERTS: Nine hundred and fifty-nine. OK. We're a little more than 40,000 away.

CHETRY: Not too bad.

ROBERTS: We won't mention even how you get the other guy because we want to win this one.

CHETRY: Yes. Well, President Obama with an exclusive interview right before his trip to Mexico. We're going to hear what the president has to say about drugs, violence at the border and also the Cuban embargo. And the UPS - I'm sorry. Sometimes it's early! The ups and downs of a rollercoaster stock market. Ahead, how the emotions of traders could make those market swings a lot W-O-R-S-E.

It's 55 minutes after the hour.



ROBERTS: Looking like a mixed open on Wall Street this morning with good news/bad news scenario developing right now. The good news: JP Morgan Chase beating expectations for its first quarter profits. The bad news: the nation's second largest mall operator, General Growth Properties, filing for bankruptcy.

Overseas, it was a mix bag. Japan up a fraction. Hong Kong falling a fraction, following disappointing economic growth numbers from China. London's FTSE rose 0.9 of a percentage point.

If you're still in the stock market chances are you're searching for your stomach. Recently, a researcher at MIT decided to find out if the wild swings in stocks lately could be tied to the emotions of Wall Street traders. So he actually wired them up, during real sessions.

And who better to bring us the results than our own Carol Costello. She's in Washington this morning.

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (OFF-MIKE) because emotions like greed and fear certainly enter the equation when it comes to anything having to do with money. The question is, can any human being control those powerful emotions - most of the time, I should say - and make reasonable decisions?


COSTELLO (voice-over): It's something we're used to seeing, emotionally charged traders, buying, selling -- but with the Dow on a crazy roller coaster ride, maybe it's time to take the emotion out of the trade, or at least figure out how it affects decision making.

MIT's Professor Andrew Lo is studying just that.

ANDREW LO, PROFESSOR, MIT: While she's trading, looking at the screen and actually making trades, we're measuring all this physiological characteristics.

COSTELLO: Lo is actually wiring traders as they work with sensors to find out if all of the crazy emotion you see is killing your 401(k). And what he's found out so far might surprise you.

LO: Traders that were too logical ended up losing money in the same way that traders that were too emotional did. COSTELLO: Still, Lo says powerful emotions like greed and fear are significant factors when it comes to poor decision making. Some traders agree with him.

(on camera): You know what most people think of when they think of traders?


They think of that Eddie Murphy movie.


JASON WEISBERG, SEAPORT SECURITIES: People joke about that movie always. But it's -- but the most successful people in this business have been able to remove emotion from the equation. That's hard to say that you can't use emotions sometimes to drive your thought process. But when you make your trading decisions, you have to be able to remove it.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Weisberg says the real troublemakers are the overly educated traders who use mathematical formulas and computer models to try to beat the system.

WEISBERG: These people tend to think that they're smarter than the system. And -- they might be smart some of the times, but not smart all of the time.

COSTELLO: But Lo says it's emotion that seems to trip up traders more. The solution may be to take his experiment out of the lab and on to the floor, permanently.

LO: Well, the science-fiction version of this would be that you have traders sitting at their trading stations, with physiological monitors, wireless devices that would show a central risk manager which of the traders are undergoing extreme emotional stress.

COSTELLO (on camera): And then you hit a buzzer and it shocks them?

LO: Well, you may not shock them, but you may walk over to one of these distressed traders and say, you know what, maybe it's time for you to take a break.


COSTELLO: Yes, chill down before you make that next trade.

So, you ask, why not take the human element away and replace traders with computers? Purely logical, right? Lo says there's a problem with that. The right combination of the emotions of greed and fear can actually be effective. And of course, as you know, John, computers aren't great with those things.

ROBERTS: No, they certainly aren't. Fascinating story, Carol Costello. Thanks for bringing it to us.