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American Morning

North Korea Threatens War; Thick Crude Staining Louisiana Wetlands: Tar Balls on Beach; Thai Government: Riots Were "Terrorism"; Overconfident Homeowners; My Mon Doesn't Have Papers; No Papers Needed Here; State of Al Qaeda in Iraq; Oil Spill Staining Wetlands

Aired May 20, 2010 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you on this Thursday, it's May 20th. Glad you're with us on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Acosta. John Roberts is off today. We've got a lot to talk about this morning. Here are the big stories we'll be telling you about in the next 15 minutes.

New developments and no nonsense warnings on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea says it has proved North Korea was behind the sinking of a warship. The nation with a million men army says that's a lie and it is threatening war. This morning, the White House reacts.

CHETRY: Here at home, thick waves of crude oil contaminating pristine wetlands. A nightmare scenario now materializing off the shores of Louisiana, and the state's governor calling it a spreading cancer. There's been a troubling discovery on the beaches of Mississippi as well. And we're live there this morning.

ACOSTA: And this is the one-month anniversary of that spill, correct?

CHETRY: It is. It is. It's been 31 days since this happened.

ACOSTA: And in the Thai capital, security forces say they finally have things under control. Buildings are still smoldering after deadly riots turned the city into a war zone. One official is calling the mayhem terrorism saying seven anti-government protest leaders are in custody and the government is promising they will be prosecuted. We are live in Bangkok.

And the amFIX blog is up and running. Join the conversation. It's live right now. Just go to

CHETRY: First, though, rising tensions and growing concerns in one of the most dangerous corners of the world. Right now, North Korea warning a, quote, "all-out war" after the release of an official report blaming the Communist North for sinking a South Korean ship back in March. When that sinking happened, 46 sailors were killed. North Korea denies it was involved. But at the White House this morning, the mystery is not who did it, but what to do about it. Our John Vause is live in Beijing. And first of all, explain who authored this report and who is accusing the North of sinking the ship back in March.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi, Kiran. Well, the report was done by a five-nation investigation team. It took them about two months to draw a direct link between North Korea and the sinking of that ship, the Cheonan (ph).

Today in Seoul, they put on display fragments of a torpedo which they say was responsible for sinking the ship. It also, the schematics match directly, perfectly matched the kind of North Korean torpedoes that are often exported to other countries. Also one of those fragments, they say, all that torpedo was some writing, a serial number, Korean writing, and that also is a direct match for a North Korean torpedo which the South Koreans have had in their possession for the past seven years. The experts say there can be no other explanation for the explosion which sank the Cheonan (ph) -- Kiran.

CHETRY: And so, what are the options now for South Korea?

VAUSE: Yes, well, proving North Korea was responsible seems to be the easy thing. Knowing what to do next seems to be pretty hard. A military response is off the table by all accounts, even though South Korea's president has promised a stern response. That probably means going to the U.N. Security Council trying to get some kind of condemnation of North Korea, maybe tougher sanctions. But the weak link in all of this is China. China has a veto power to the Security Council. It's used that veto power in the past to protect North Korea. There's every indication that it might be going down that road again today.

Officials here in Beijing calling on all sides to show restraint and calm, wanting to make its own assessment of that investigation of the findings done by the South Koreans. But even if South Korea does get new tough sanctions put in place on the North Koreans, really, you know, a big deal because the North Koreans have been the subject of tough sanctions since last year ever since they tested a nuclear bomb, ever since they fired off an ICBM (ph). So the bottom line is that there are no good options and North Koreans will probably get off lightly with something, which would normally would be considered an act of war. They've done this before. And right now, no one seems to have a good idea on how to stop them from doing it again -- Kiran.

CHETRY: John Vause for us this morning in China, thank you.

ACOSTA: Kiran, there are new developments out of Iran this morning. An emotional reunion between three jailed American hikers and their mothers. There were hugs and kisses all around as Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal met their mothers for the first time since being arrested last summer. The three went hiking in Iraq and strayed over the Iranian border. The Tehran government has accused them of spying. The others are in Iran to try and secure their release.

CHETRY: Well, it is a nightmare scenario that no one wanted to see. This is what an environmental disaster looks like from up close. There you see the oil along the very delicate marshlands of Louisiana.

This is day 31 of the oil spill in the gulf. And the thick, syrupy puddles that you see there are crude now staining Louisiana's sensitive wetlands. The pictures are heartbreaking, especially for those that live in the area and rely on the area and the water for their livelihood and economic stability. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal got to see it and also smell it from on board a boat. Afterwards, he looked shaken and said we've got to stop this cancer from spreading.

ACOSTA: If anybody is wondering where the oil is, there it is. And the scope of the damage to the Gulf Coast shores could be widening this morning, east of Louisiana's prized wetlands. On the beaches of Mississippi, there's been a disturbing find. Tar balls are washing up and that's got people worried.

CHETRY: Yes, Rob Marciano live for us further along the Gulf Coast in Mississippi this morning with more. Then when you see those pictures, Rob, it is just unbelievable. We knew it was going to happen but then seeing the way that the wetlands are stained like that and the concerns and the fears, it's heartbreaking?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it certainly starts to hit home, you know, with this slick widening, and now as you say and have seen with the heavy crude beginning to wash along the shorelines of Louisiana. People along the entire Gulf Coast certainly are on edge. Every day, calls come in from residents here in Mississippi reporting some form of oil onshore.


BRIAN "HOOTY" ADAM, DIR., HANCOCK CO. EMERGENCY MGMT: We've got boats. We've got boats out there. Nobody has reported seeing anything just yet.

MARCIANO (voice-over): Brian "Hooty" Adam directs this emergency operation. Reports of potential oil around Hancock County has residents here on high alert. He's a straight talker.

ADAM: We're not going to lie to them, though. If there's oil out there, we will tell them.

MARCIANO: Approximately 200 pounds of black tar-like balls were recovered on the beach and brought to this meeting. Emergency managers want to know if they're from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the things that we've observed that may kind of clear up some of the confusion.

MARCIANO: Jesse Fineran has worked oil spills before. Twice a day, he patrols the Hancock County shoreline.

JESSE FINERAN, HAZMAT, HANCOCK, CO., MS: Get up on that property.

MARCIANO: Four-wheelers are his mode of transport. FINERAN: On switch here. This is your parking brake here. Other than that, ain't a whole lot to it.

MARCIANO (on camera): All right. Let's go clean the beach.


MARCIANO: We work our way along the water.

FINERAN: You see materials, cigarette butts. You're seeing vegetation, grass.

MARCIANO (voice-over): Searching for signs of oil.

FINERAN: We've had people call in they've seen oily sheen. They've actually seen oil floating on the water. They've seen this lucid (ph) material.

MARCIANO (on camera): But your job is to verify the calls?

FINERAN: Basically to verify the calls. To see if it's -- you know, if something really happened. Hey, we want to know.

MARCIANO (voice-over): Heightened sensitivity seems to have everyone seeing oil.

(on camera): What about this foamy stuff here?

FINERAN: It has no petroleum odor to it. It does have a reddish color. And the clay balls are consistent to what is being used for the restoration project on the sand beaches here.

And you can see this reddish sheen bobbing down our beach in sea foam. And that may be what people are seeing.

MARCIANO: So one more mistaken identity?

FINERAN: Very possibly. But we still going to have -- we still have it tested.

MARCIANO (voice-over): The sun sets but Fineran's work is far from over. He'll be out combing the beach every day until the spill is contained.

FINERAN: We're doing everything possibly we can to make sure that it's safe out here.


MARCIANO: It has been a long month of watching, waiting and preparing since that rig exploded along the Gulf of Mexico. And people here, to say that they're hypersensitive or certainly on edge is an understatement.

These are some -- this is one example of some of the stuff that's been washing up on shore. Now, you heard in the piece, what he described as many explanations for what some of these tar balls or what seems to be oil can be. I mean, this almost feels like asphalt. And you know, guys, it was just over four years ago, where this area absolutely was demolished by Hurricane Katrina. And a lot of these roads are still washed away. And some of this can very well be asphalt that's washing on shore. Nevertheless, all of it gets sent off, all of it gets tested. And anything that washes up on shore, even looks remotely like oil, well, people here are certainly getting a little bit nervous about that -- Jim and Kiran.

CHETRY: Understandable. All right.


CHETRY: Rob Marciano for us. Thanks so much.

Well, coming up in the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING, we're going to be speaking with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He's going to be joining us live. He admits there is a, quote, "culture of corruption in his agency" and he plans to do some restructuring in order to better regulate big oil. We've got some tough questions for him coming up at 7:15 Eastern.

ACOSTA: Also new this morning, it's a safe bet the name Salahi wasn't on the list last night in Washington. President Obama and the first lady hosting. We can always just work in another dig on the Salahis. Poor Salahis. The second state dinner last night at the White House. They welcomed Mexico's president and his wife, along with more than 200 guests, including actors, Eva Longoria Parker, George Lopez and Whoopi Goldberg, who joked that the drapes have changed a couple of times since her last visit.




ACOSTA: Well, no one crashed the party at this time as far as we know. But there was a slipup, U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall went down right on the White House steps.

CHETRY: That was about as graceful as you can go down, though.


CHETRY: I mean, that was pretty quick. It almost looked like she was doing exercise. Sat down, hopped right back up.

ACOSTA: Not a big deal.

CHETRY: For a girl, it is a big deal.

ACOSTA: Oh, sorry. What are you going to do?

ACOSTA: For a klutz like me, that was actually graceful.

CHETRY: No. Me, too.

ACOSTA: By comparison.

CHETRY: But it's hard to walk around in those dresses.

ACOSTA: Oh, yes.

CHETRY: And you know, in a long -- and you're tripping over them in heels.

ACOSTA: And there's all that pressure because -- you know, the White House.

CHETRY: And Michelle Obama's dress, the first lady looked beautiful as well.

ACOSTA: She did.

CHETRY: Great.

Well, there's more rough weather in Oklahoma. We've been talking for days about the planes.

ACOSTA: Yes. Unbelievable.

CHETRY: It's really getting hit with storm clouds, in this case, tornadoes. At least six reportedly touched down. These storms doing some damage to homes and businesses. Tornadoes also reported in Kansas and in Missouri.

Reynolds Wolf is tracking the extreme weather and he joins us now with more. It has been a rough go of it in the country's midsection when it comes to the stormy weather.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It really has been. I mean, this has been a very busy severe weather season, and yesterday no exception. Let's go right to the map. We're going to show you across parts of Kansas and Oklahoma littered by tornadoes, many of them. The National Weather Service is going to go out and take some surveillance today and (INAUDIBLE) a little bit more about this. They should be releasing a report on this later on.

Yes, the storm system that spawned many of these twisters now continues to roll its way into parts of Arkansas and into portions of Missouri. Some strong thunderstorms at this time. Very strong line of storms just went through right in parts of Little Rock, now moving towards Memphis. So if you happen to be in Memphis, over towards Jackson, Tennessee, keep your heads down. Same deal in Paducah. Heavy rain coming through, some strong winds. And we're going to have a complete forecast coming up in a few moments to let you know where the rough weather can be expected later on today. Plus, we're going to give you a little forecast. The Gulf of Mexico may give us an idea of where that oil may be headed. Let's send it back to you.

ACOSTA: Yes, you've got to follow that as well, Reynolds. I mean, that's a part of your everyday job now. Not only following what's happening weather-wise but what's happening to that spill.

WOLF: Yes, we're wearing a lot of different hats here.

ACOSTA: Yes. Thanks for that, Rob. Appreciate it.

WOLF: See you guys.

ACOSTA: Well, coming up, fire smoldering across Bangkok. An overnight curfew extended through the weekend just hours after rioters set fires across the Thai capital. Our Sara Sidner will have a live report after the break.

It is 11 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Well, it's 14 minutes past the hour right now. And just in to CNN, an art heist. Police in Paris now tracking down or trying to track down who's behind the theft of five paintings at the Museum of Modern Art. Investigators are saying these five paintings were stolen, including two masterpieces by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. No word on exactly which paintings were stolen, but police have now cordoned off the museum which sits just across from the Seine and from the Eiffel Tower. Officials reportedly put the total worth of these paintings at $620 million.

ACOSTA: And we've been following the situation in Thailand. There's more to tell you about this morning. Fires smoldering across Bangkok right now after days of killing and chaos. Officials say 34 buildings were torched. Remember the pictures we were showing yesterday. Just unbelievable during these riots. And the government is extending an overnight curfew through Sunday. It's just unbelievable what's happening there.

CHETRY: You know, right now, seven anti-government protest leaders are now in custody, and since this process started back in March, at least 75 people have been killed and nearly 2,000 wounded. But we're seen a ratcheting up in tensions over the past couple of days.

And we have our Sara Sidner live in the Thai capital, following the latest development for us. Did that overnight curfew that you had spoken to us about yesterday, have any impact, Sara, in tamping down the violence?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It did seem to have an impact. What you were seeing when you woke up this morning is some of the buildings that have been torched overnight still on fire or at least smoldering and the government trying to get -- deal with that, get a hold of that.

But what we saw this morning was another interesting end to this. Thousands of protesters had taken refuge inside a temple, which is just inside where all of the protesters had been gathering for the past six weeks and just outside the Thai Royal Military -- excuse me, Thai Royal Police. People had gone in there because there were shooting overnight. They were scared. They ran into this temple, hoping to seek refuge. When we walked in today, people were refusing to leave, said they were scared to go out.

We walked in and saw six bodies lying there. People said that those -- those people who were lying there dead had been shot as they tried to seek refuge behind the bars that are up, behind the gate that were up there, inside the temple complex. It is supposed to be a safe zone.

And so what today you saw were the police coming out, telling people to please come out, that it was safe. And, eventually, after about an hour, people did start streaming out of that complex. So those are the last few protesters who are in that main area. They are now out of the temple complex -- Kiran.

ACOSTA: And are there any signs that any of this have spread to other parts of Thailand yet, Sara?

SIDNER: According to the government, it had, and some of the provinces that are which are heavily Red Shirt which is the anti- government protesters there, have been some problems, including people setting fires to city halls in several of those provinces.

So what happened is, that curfew is not just for Bangkok. That curfew exists in 24 provinces now here in Thailand because the government is concerned about further unrest and further damage and -- and death in this country.

ACOSTA: Sara Sidner live in Bangkok for us this morning. Thanks, Sara. Appreciate that.

And coming up next on the Most News in the Morning, growing confidence among homeowners, but how realistic are they being at this point?

Christine Romans is here now with a preview.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Americans are feeling a little better about the value of their biggest asset. Believe it or not, 1 in 10 mortgage holders aren't even paying their bills on time. But a new survey shows that people are feeling like a bottom might be coming in the housing market and they're feeling confident.

I'll tell you about where you live and whether that confidence is justified in about two minutes.


CHETRY: Twenty minutes past the hour. That means it's time for "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Christine is talking a little bit about whether people are feeling slightly better about the biggest asset, as you always say, your home, and whether or not things are turning around in the housing market.

ROMANS: You're probably never going to borrow more money than you borrow to buy a house, right? I mean, this --

CHETRY: Handing over that check makes me shutter.

ROMANS: Yes, shudder or -- yes. It's a tough decision, and this is your big -- I mean, for a lot of people they are under water on this. Eleven million people are under water on that big investment, meaning they owe the bank more than their house is even worth.

We've seen a freefall in prices over the past couple years, so why are people feeling a little more optimistic? They are, according to a new report from Zillow, their confidence is up a little. People feel like they have been through the wringer and it can't possibly get much worse.

And, in fact, 65 percent of people said they feel like the value of their home went up over the past year. Well, actually -- well -- I'm sorry, half the people said they felt like the value of their home went up in the past year, but 65 percent of the values of the houses went down.

So are they justified in this? Well, a lot of folks are telling us they think they were putting a bottom in the housing market maybe in the third quarter. But it could -- it could be a little sketchy or at least moving sideways for the foreseeable future.

Where is the confidence the best and the worst? Well, people are most pessimistic in the west, and that's because home prices are down.

ACOSTA: Sand states?

ROMANS: Yes, they're down -- like -- and you look at Colorado, too, I mean --

ACOSTA: Oh, really?

ROMANS: -- (INAUDIBLE) Colorado that are a little tough. Prices have gone 8 percent over the past year in the west. So they're -- you know, they are probably justified in their pessimism.

But overly optimistic in the south. People in the south, they've been -- they've seen their prices fall pretty substantially, 40 to 50 percent in some states in the south, and they think this, you know, the worst must be over. But they might be overly optimistic, according to Zillow.

The issue here, sideline sellers. This is what we have to watch out for. You probably heard, if you know a real estate agent, that this is going to be a pretty good spring selling season. There are a lot of people out there sniffing around, 5.3 million people say they're very likely to put their house on the market in the next 12 months if they see signs of improvement.

These are -- these are people who aren't distressed. These are people whose house -- they -- they --

ACOSTA: They're saying, hmm, maybe I'll test the waters.

ROMANS: -- they could -- they could afford to sit in there. You know, they might be underwater --

CHETRY: -- the prices to come back (ph).

ROMANS: Right. So you've got a lot of people on the sidelines waiting to sell a house. That -- that could -- that could keep a lid on things for a while.

ACOSTA: And "Romans' Numeral"?

ROMANS: One hundred seventy thousand seven hundred.

CHETRY: One hundred seventy thousand --

ACOSTA: Average price of a house?

ROMANS: Yes. Not here. Not where we live, and not in the big city but the average median price of a home in this country is $170,700.

ACOSTA: Hey, I got it right.

ROMANS: I know. This time you did.

ACOSTA: That may be my first time, guessing a Romans Numeral correctly. Yes. Mark this date down.

ROMANS: But $170,700, and it's basically --

CHETRY: How much has this gone down?

ROMANS: It's basically flat over the past year. Flat to up a little bit. So we have seen some stabilization nationwide over the past year, but when you start to dig into those local markets, people feel differently about their prospects.

ACOSTA: I got it right. I just -- whatever you say (ph), I was thinking about how I got it right.

ROMANS: Jim Acosta got it right.

ACOSTA: I'm just kidding. I was listening.

CHETRY: It's a good feeling.

ACOSTA: It is a good feeling. A little boost. I got a little boost.

CHETRY: Sometimes you -- every once in a while, she can do a gimme, the one that's so obvious, and then --

ACOSTA: Like that one? CHETRY: Thanks, Christine.

ACOSTA: Thank you. Appreciate that, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right, 24 minutes past the hour --

Well, you know, I had to bring you down to earth. You were too excited.

ACOSTA: Yes, exactly. I got too big of a head over the "Romans' Numeral," getting that right. Yes, you're right.

CHETRY: Well, no papers needed here. There's one city that has technically, some would argue, the same problem as what's been going on in cities in Arizona, but they're going the other way, actually giving I.D. cards to illegal immigrants. But is the kindler, gentler way also more expensive or effective? Carol Costello with the "Gut Check."

Twenty-four minutes after the hour.


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

You know, the first lady is facing some tough questions, not just from the general public, but from second graders these days.

CHETRY: You know what they say, from the mouths of babes, you know?

ACOSTA: That's right. She was promoting child exercise in an elementary school in New Hampshire, but one other hot topic came up and one little girl may have accidentally spilled her mom's immigration status.

Check this out. This is -- this is really interesting.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom said that -- I think that she -- she says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn't have papers.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, well, that's something that we have to work on, right? To make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers, right? That's exactly right --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But my mom doesn't have papers.

OBAMA: Yes. Well, we have to work on that. We have to fix that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: And I, for one, should know this because I grew up in the D.C. area. That was actually Montgomery County, Maryland, where that happened.

CHETRY: That's where I went to school, the public school system there, and, you know, it's a very diverse area.

ACOSTA: That's right.

CHETRY: But, you know, it actually -- I mean, the little girl -- and this was not a planned moment --


CHETRY: -- clearly, and she sort of outed her mom, saying, but my mother doesn't have papers, and --

ACOSTA: That's right.

CHETRY: -- are you going to kick my -- my mother out of the country?

ACOSTA: That's right, and -- and this is clearly an indication that the immigration debate that's happening in this country is filtering down to the children of the parents who are obviously paying attention to this. And, in many cases, these families -- not to go off on a tangent here -- watch Spanish language media, which covers this issue --

CHETRY: Very differently.

ACOSTA: -- very differently and much more strenuously. I mean, they give a lot of coverage to it.

So it's not surprising that a little girl would have brought it up with the -- the first lady.

CHETRY: It's not surprising, of course, the answers are not easy.

ACOSTA: Yes. No, they're not.

CHETRY: And there's a debate that's been raging, of course, about Arizona's tough new immigration law and that's really shot this issue back into the national conversation.

ACOSTA: Yes, but one city with the same problem that's moving in the opposite direction. Carol Costello has the "A.M. Gut Check" for us this morning, live from Washington.

Good morning, Carol.


Politicians and some police say Arizona's tough new immigration law is desperately needed to stop a wave of violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants pouring over the border, but critics say this kind of talk is wildly exaggerated, an excuse to use racial profiling to lock people up who are actually, they say, five times less likely to commit crimes than American citizens.

So, who's right?


COSTELLO (voice-over): In Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was all about finding and arresting illegal immigrants.


COSTELLO: If you want to know how many illegals his deputies have questioned, arrested or detained, it's on the website, 38,136 to date.

ARPAIO: Right now, in this area, we have 100 people in jail right now, charged with murder, that are here illegally.

COSTELLO (voice-over): That was three weeks ago. It's a scary number for those living in a state bordering Mexico, a country with a terrible violent drug cartel problem. But critics say while some illegals do commit violent crimes, Arpaio's assertion that illegals are terrorizing Arizona in mass is simply false.

PROF. DAVID HARRIS, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH: When we looked at the data. When we looked at the real number, we find that those claims are wildly exaggerated if not outright untrue.

COSTELLO: According to FBI statistics, violent crime in Arizona dropped by nearly 1,500 reported incidents between 2005 and 2008. Property crimes also fell.

Harris says immigrants, legal and illegal, are five times less likely than native born Americans to be involved in crime.

In Trenton, New Jersey, where 23 percent of the residents are immigrants, police agree. They say illegal immigrants are more likely to be victims of crime than criminals.

So, instead of aggressively pursuing illegals like Wendy Ochoa, Trenton embraces them by allowing groups to issue illegals a community identifications card that gives them access to libraries and doctors' offices.

WENDY OCHOA, HONDURAN IMMIGRANT (through translator): If the police stop me, I can give them this I.D. and anything that is protected by the police makes me feel safer.

COSTELLO: Trenton police are not allowed to ask about the immigration status unless they suspected felony. Detective Bob Russo says most officers like the policy, because it builds the community trust they need to find crime.

DET. BOB RUSSO, TRENTON POLICE DEPT.: I haven't had the opportunity to speak to the authorities in Arizona. I don't know if they've recognized to the extent that we have, that the immigrant population can actually be an asset to us.

COSTELLO: In parts of Arizona, that argument doesn't fly. The governor says 600 illegals convicted of serious criminal offenses are in Arizona jails, costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year. Supporters of Arizona's law say cities like Trenton only make things worse.

HEATHER MAC DONALD, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: They add to the schizophrenia within our public discourse about whether we believe in the immigration rule of law or not.


COSTELLO: In other words, Mac Donald says immigrants who come into the country illegally are already committing a crime nowhere no matter where they live and they should be dealt with. Arizona's problems with illegals, of course, are different than Trenton's because Arizona is much closer to Mexico. All jurisdictions agree, though, the federal government must step in and do something about the immigration problem in the country -- Jim, Kiran.

ACOSTA: The question is whether they ever will. Carol Costello live in Washington -- thanks, Carol.

CHETRY: Carol, thanks.

Well, time for a look right now at our top stories this morning.

The White House says that it backs a report that confirms a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean warship back in March. Forty-six sailors were killed. Seoul is now promising to take, quote, "resolute countermeasures." A five-nation military group investigating the incident says that parts that were recovered from the scene are identical to a blueprint of a North Korean torpedo. Pyongyang is denying any involvement in the attack.

ACOSTA: Two men who head up the 9/11 Commission say they haven't seen much progress when it comes to preventing terrorism. Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton testified before the House Homeland Security Committee yesterday. They say intelligence sharing is lacking. Communication issues still plague first responders and there's too many congressional committees -- there are too many congressional committees they say to answer to it and that is draining resources.

Think about all those committees that these officials have to appear in front of all the time on Capitol Hill.

CHETRY: Oh, yes.

Well, a Moroccan-born U.S. citizen is in federal custody this morning after pleading guilty to providing financial support to al Qaeda. Authorities say that 32-year-old Khalid Quazzani admitted sending more than $23,000 overseas to al Qaeda and swore an Arabic oath allegiance to the terror group. He also pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering. Quazzani's prison sentence could be 30 years to life.

ACOSTA: They are some of America's most wanted, al Qaeda leaders who normally appear in the shadow or grainy Internet videos or audio recordings. This week, though, CNN's Fred Pleitgen was the first to interview the recently captured Baghdad commander of al Qaeda in Iraq.

And as Fred tells us, the Iraqi government made him available to CNN and Arabic language media to highlight the progress it's made fighting terrorism.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It was some of the deadliest and most brazen attacks in Baghdad, coordinated suicide bombings that hit several Iraqi ministries last year, killing and wounding hundreds.

This man, Munaf al-Rawi, says he was the mastermind.

MUNAF AL-RAWI, BAGHDAD HEAD OF AL QAEDA (through translator): I wrote to my leaders and they sent me about $120,000. We bought the trucks and we got the suicide bombers from Mosul. We planned the operation, and we executed it.

PLEITGEN: The U.S. military and the Iraqi security apparatus say al-Rawi is a master of terror logistics. He admits he was al Qaeda in Iraq's top commander in Baghdad, until he was recently captured by luck at an Iraqi checkpoint like this one.

The Iraqi government allowed CNN to interview him, but we were not allowed to say where the interview took place. And we were asked to not use one portion of the interview for fear he might be sending a secret message.

(on camera): Tell me the nuts and bolts of what you might do.

AL-RAWI: I would get orders always or notes transported by couriers. I would get the order to conduct, and why transfer it to our military chief in Baghdad.

PLEITGEN: Did you yourself ever at some point think about becoming a suicide bomber yourself? Did you ever think about doing that yourself? You were sending people to do these bombings.

AL-RAWI: No. I didn't force anyone to do it. A suicide bomber will come from the border and get into Iraq to do it. I didn't force anyone to ride a car and conduct a suicide attack.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Al-Rawi says he joined al Qaeda in 2003 to fight the U.S. occupation. The irony, he says, American forces at one point had him in custody. He says he was detained after the battle of Fallujah in 2004, but released in 2007. A year later, al- Rawi says he became a terrorist leader.

At the height of its power, al Qaeda brutally controlled entire towns and parts of the country. But the vicious tactics turned many Iraqis against them.

MAJOR GENERAL STEVE LANZA, SPKS., U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ: The population has not embraced this ideology of al Qaeda. And that's significant because it really has hindered their ability to conduct operations here in this country.

PLEITGEN: U.S. and Iraqi security forces say information gleaned after al-Rawi's capture, including documents discovered in raided houses, allowed for the killing or capture of dozens more al Qaeda in Iraq leaders.

Al-Rawi says even before his arrest, al Qaeda had been driven even further underground.

(on camera): Is the organization falling apart?

AL-RAWI: It is 80 percent to 100 percent harder to operate for al Qaeda these days. Before, we could prepare a car bomb anywhere. There was no opposition. Now, you can't do that. Even the place you prepare a car bomb will be discovered.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Al-Rawi says he felt for civilians. He repeated that he didn't mean to kill civilians. But he insisted he still believes in what he calls a holy war against Americans and al Qaeda's enemy, the Iraqi government -- a war, al Qaeda in Iraq's new leadership says, it is carrying forward.

In the last two weeks, hundreds more have been killed and wounded in brutal attacks across the country, many civilians.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Baghdad.


ACOSTA: Great story there from our Fred Pleitgen in Baghdad.

Still to come in the Most News in the Morning, just how much oil is pouring into the Gulf of Mexico? We will all like to know the answer to that question. Well, one professor says he knows and it's more than B.P. is saying. We will talk to him -- next.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Forty- one minutes past the hour right now.

And the pictures are like a punch in the gut. We can see them.


CHETRY: Huge bands of syrupy crude oil. There it is. It's amber in color. It's thick. It's snaking through the sensitive wetlands off of Louisiana's coast.

ACOSTA: Yes. It's not supposed to look like that, folks. Still, B.P. officials insist they're making a measurable difference, in their words, containing the catastrophe. And the oil giant is buckling to pressure from Congress. It will not allow the world to see its live continuous video feed of the gusher at the bottom of the Gulf. That's good news.

CHETRY: And Steve Wereley is a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University. He was one of the first experts to question B.P.'s estimate of 5,000 barrels a day leaking into the Gulf. And he joins us this morning from Washington.

Thanks for being with us this morning, Professor Wereley.


CHETRY: B.P. is still sticking of its estimate, the 5,000 barrels a day. You said you've done some analysis of the video that we're seeing right there with you. And you come up with your own numbers. So, after looking at this video which is from the 16th of May, this past Sunday, what is your estimate?

WERELEY: So, this -- yes, this video that you see running behind me, this video is what B.P. is classifying as the smaller of the two leaks. And this one in particular, I just calculated yesterday, the rate on that one is 25,000 barrels a day. And the original leak that I -- not just me, but several other well-respected researchers around the country -- calculated numbers considerably higher than B.P.'s -- something in the order of between 20,000 and 100,000 barrels per day for that main leak.

CHETRY: Well, that's -- that's a huge --

ACOSTA: That's huge. How do you do that? Yes.

CHETRY: That's a huge differential, 20,000 to 100,000.

ACOSTA: Right.

CHETRY: So, I mean, can you get any more accurate of an estimate than that?

WERELEY: Yes, that's a good question. So, the thing that's preventing me and other researchers in the U.S. from getting a better number is the relative lack of video evidence that we have from B.P.

ACOSTA: And how do you -- how do you come to this number? I mean, I'm a layman and I'm looking at this video, Steve. And I'm thinking to myself, I could not possibly quantify the volume of oil gushing out of that leak. And, you know, you're a professor, so I guess you do know how to do that. But how does that work?

WERELEY: Yes. Let me explain it briefly. So what we're looking at here is a portion of what's called the riser pipe. The riser pipe is the pipe that comes out of the bottom of the ocean and in a normal well, rises up to the drilling platform. And so you see that there. That's the white pipe there.

ACOSTA: Right.

WERELEY: And if you go across -- if you look at the total width of the pipe --


WERELEY: -- you know that that pipe is 21 inches in diameter. B.P. has released that data.

ACOSTA: Right.

WERELEY: So that tells me how big everything in the image is. Now, you see the video running in slow motion. And I can tell you a little bit about how we measure things.

ACOSTA: Right.

WERELEY: So, essentially, what we do is we look at how fast these clouds, these identifiable clouds are moving. And you can see them. In the slow motion, you can see a little cloud of oil moving. You know, tick, tick, tick as it goes across the image.

ACOSTA: And you look at each cloud and you make a measurement at that point?

WERELEY: That's right.

CHETRY: All right. Well, what you're saying sounds relatively straightforward, at least, if not simple. For most of us, it wouldn't be simple. But it can be done.

But why is B.P. resisting, as some have said, you and there have been others, there have been others actually in Congress who say that they're not -- they're not employing these methods that you're talking about to be able to accurately measure.

Why wouldn't they want to know? Especially if some of this could have an impact on what they're trying to do to correct the situation and plug the leak?

WERELEY: That's correct. I think that having an accurate estimate of the amount of oil that's coming out into the Gulf is critical. It's critical for two reasons. One is it's going to determine the level of recovery that's required over the next weeks and even years. And second, if you think it's a 5,000-barrel per day week, you may be able to use different methods to plug the leak than if it's 100,000-barrel-per leak day. So, I think it's essential that BP know the right value. ACOSTA: And Steve, I want to kind of frame this delicately, but do you feel like they just don't want the public to know the actual amount? And that that they're sandbagging us on the volume of oil leaking into the Gulf? I hate to put that way, but that's the only way I can put it. How do you feel about that?

WERELEY: Well, you know, I certainly haven't talked to anybody at BP. They have not contacted me since these numbers have come out.

ACOSTA: Right.

CHETRY: Let me just to be -- I just have to tell you because I did talk to Anderson last night, and we asked at the point of view in here. They say they spoke to the managing director, Bob Dudley, and that he said that they have nothing to hide. They've leased these videos to the coast guard, to Congress, and that essentially, they have nothing to hide. They say that basically there's a mini city under there right now with the submersible robots trying to do everything they can. And so, they're, you know, they're putting forth that they are not trying to hide anything. Do you agree?

WERELEY: It's difficult for me to say. So, what I can say is the first video that BP released to the general public was last Wednesday. And that was the first view that the general public had under the ocean to actually see the oil coming in -- you know, the oil that they're discharging into the ocean.

ACOSTA: Do you trust them?

WERELEY: The coast guard -- well, I know that that's the fact. I think what they're thinking is if they can keep these videos under wraps. The U.S. public is not going to get up in arms, right? If you don't see the oil causing damage, you know, you're going to think, all right, it's a problem, but it's nothing that we need to solve right now.


CHETRY: And you can see that point of view. Of course --

ACOSTA: Professor Steve Wereley in Washington for us. Thanks for all that input and thanks for laying it out for us. You know, I almost feel like we needed that, you know, instruction there in terms of how you measure this because, you know, folks might be wondering well, they just pull these things out of thin air, and obviously, that's not the case. So Professor Steve Wereley in Washington, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

WERELEY: Thanks for having me.

CHETRY: And coming up in the next hour for AMERICAN MORNING, we're actually going to be speaking to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He's going to join us live. He admitted that there was a quote, "culture of corruption in his agency when it comes to regulating the oil industry. We're going to talk about his plan for restructuring. Will it make a difference? He joins at 7:15 eastern, so in just about 30 minutes.

ACOSTA: It is 06:47. Reynolds Wolf will have this morning's travel forecast. And that's coming up right after the break. Stick with us.


CHETRY: Well, it's 51 minutes past the hour. Time for to us get a quick check of this morning's weather headlines. Our Reynolds Wolf this in the Extreme Weather Center with a look for us this morning. And, you know, again, we talked about tornadoes touching down. The day before that, we were talking about hail, so it's been pretty dicey out there.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, it is been a very busy storm season. No question about it in parts and complaints (ph). Today, we're seeing a little bit of that focus move a bit more to the east and the southeast, St. Louis upward to Memphis. Some drawing storms. But at this time, we do have a severe thunderstorm watch. This is in effect until 9:00 central time moving in to possibly Texarkana in just north of Dallas, Fort Worth Metroplex, maybe even into pine bluff before all is said and done. Now, what is this going to mean for you? Possibly some delays.

But take a look at some of the days in places like Memphis like you'd expect, but also in New York City and in D.C., mostly due to the wind and the low clouds. San Francisco, Seattle, and Salt Lake City anywhere from a 30-minute to a 60-minute wait due to the strong winds. Take a look at this. Temperatures today, 74 degrees in Chicago, great day out by Wrigley Field, 71 in Denver, 99 in Phoenix, just one degree shy of century point, 80 degrees in Raleigh, Atlanta checking in with 85 degrees, and Tampa of 92.

But again, the rough weather to watch out for is going to be right in the middle of the country. That's your big bull's-eye moving into the parts of the Gulf Coast. We're going to have your Gulf weather coming up in just a few minutes. Let's send it back to you in New York.

ACOSTA: Thanks, Reynolds, appreciate it.

WOLF: You bet, guys.

CHETRY: All right. Fifty-two minutes past the hour and this morning's top stories minutes just away, including at half past the hour, caught on tape, a cockpit fire, the windshield shattered. The airlines still rolling the dice with a design flaw that they know about. We'll talk more about that at the top of the hour.


ACOSTA: OK. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Time for sports.

CHETRY: Let's go to the videotape.

ACOSTA: Let's go to the videotape!


ACOSTA (voice-over): A rare baseball feat turned in by one of the New York Mets last night. They actually did go to the videotape. Did you notice that? The Mets lost, nothing unusual about that, and, we, Washington National fans appreciate that. But it was a big night for Angel Pagan. First, he hit an inside the park homerun. There you go. It's round the bases. The throw, the play, too late. Angel Pagan was inside the park homerun. Bingo is the dynamite (ph). He got all around the bases and slid home easily.

And then, later on in the game, let's go to that tape. Pagan wasn't done there. A few minutes later, the Mets center fielder made a shoestring catch. Unbelievable. Check this out. My goodness. Then, I don't know why he threw that there. But the last time --

CHETRY: But it worked, right?

ACOSTA: But it worked.

CHETRY: There's the triple play.

ACOSTA: Oh, that was it was, the triple play, the shoestring catch leading to a triple play.

CHETRY: Scratch my back with a hacksaw.

ACOSTA: There you go. I don't know.


CHETRY: I think it's a Pittsburgh penguins reference, sorry.

ACOSTA: The last time this happened, the team was able to turn that trick inside the park homer, triple play -- no, back in 1955 with the Phillies.

We have to wrap now. Top stories coming your way. We'll be right back. I don't do sports much, but.

CHETRY: Me either.

ACOSTA: That's exactly.