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CNN Live Event/Special

Hidden Meanings?; Hurricane Dennis Heads to Cuba

Aired July 08, 2005 - 13:36   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're back. Let's check some other stories now in the news. Hurricane Dennis barreling down on Cuba with 150 mile-per-hour winds. The category-four storm is expecting to make landfall there today before heading toward the Florida Keys. Forecasters predict the storm's center will pass west of Key West tomorrow morning, and possibly strike the Gulf coast somewhere between Louisiana and Florida late Sunday.
At least four Americans have been confirmed injured in the London bombings. Two victims are sisters from Tennessee who were vacationing. Katie Benton is hospitalized with shrapnel wounds. Her sister, Emily, has injuries to her feet and an arm. We'll have more on the U.S. bombing victims at the top of the hour.

The mother of missing teenager Natalee Holloway is apologizing to the Aruban government and people there. Beth Holloway Twitty says she didn't mean to offend anyone when she criticized the recent release of two former suspects. Twitty says she was simply frustrated that her daughter hasn't been found yet.

Fifteen-year-old golfer Michelle Wie could very well make history today. She's trying to become the first woman in 60 years to make a cut on the PGA Tour. Wie starts the second round of the John Deere Classic at one under par. She is scheduled to tee off in about an hour from now.

Deadly terror attacks and claims of responsibility from a group that links itself to Al Qaeda. On the face of it, it looks like an Islamic extremist attack against British citizens, but our next guest believes there are other obvious -- other less obvious explanations that is, and perhaps warnings for the United States.

Anthony McRoy is an expert on Islamic studies. He's a lecturer at the Evangelical Theological College of Wales, has just written a book about radicalism within the U.K. Islamic community. He's joining us now live from London.

Anthony, thanks very much. What's your assessment?

ANTHONY MCROY, ISLAMIC STUDIES EXPERT: I think that the real target targets wasn't British public opinion, but rather American public opinion. And the reason for that is it came after the elections. If you remember the Madrid bombings, they came before the elections, with the aim of obviously influencing the outcome of the vote there.

Now in Britain, the main opposition party, the Conservative Party, was as committed to the war as the government. So it wouldn't have made any good to perform a bombing before the actual elections. And most British people are already strongly opposed to the Iraq war, and very sympathetic to the Palestinians.

So we got to ask why would they hit at this particular time? I think the answer is that President Bush was here. And London, and Britain in general, is one of the most security conscious cities and countries in the world. We've had so much experience with terrorism, fighting the IRA over 30 years that we -- this would be the place. If you could get through here, you could get through anywhere. I think the message is to the American public, look, we managed to do it in London, we can easily do it in Washington, New York, or Dallas or L.A.

BLITZER: Well, they did it in New York and here in Washington on 9/11. In the United States, and so if the target this time was the United States, Anthony, why not simply go after a similar targets right here in the United States? These soft targets are pretty vulnerable, as you know.

MCROY: Well, I think -- I'm sorry to say this, but I think that somewhere down the line, they will do it. I mean, the point being they wanted to hit an ally, the closest ally of America, but as I said, the significance is that President Bush was here, and he was here just after he had made that statement about Iraq, saying that we're over there fighting in Iraq to fight the terrorist there, to prevent them from coming over here. Now, the point they've shown is that they can come over here. They can come over to London. And if they can do it in London, they can do it in America.

I think that somewhere down the line, they probably will do it to America, I'm sorry to say. And probably along the same lines, hitting a soft target. Next time, it probably won't be using airplanes. It will be something like the subway system or, on the best land model, they might take over a public building. And like I said, Britain is so security conscious. We've got such an efficient security service here, in regard to terrorism, that it must raise many questions about what would happen in the next attack on America.

BLITZER: Do you think it will take long for the authorities in London to piece together responsibility, the culprits in this particular case?

MCCROY: The problem is, we have no idea who it is. I think it's most unlikely that British Muslims have been involved. Al Qaeda's tactics don't usually involve using native Britons or native Americans. In America on 9/11, all the hijackers involved were foreign Muslims. None of them were in the Muslim-American community.

And it's also al Qaeda's strategy, as we know from 9/11, that they don't actually go down to the mosque. They don't -- they don't place themselves in the Muslim community. The night before 9/11, the hijackers were out clubbing, boozing, womanizing, all things forbidden in Islam. And that's because there's a Hadith. Now, Hadith is the second source of authority next to the Koran. And in the Hadith, it says that war is deceit. And a Muslim may lie in three circumstances. He may lie to his wife, he may lie to reconcile feuding friends and he may lie in war.

And so the way al Qaeda operate in regard to this Hadith, they pretend to be something other than they are. They pretend not to be Arabs, not to be Muslims. They booze, they womanize and so forth, because if they go down to the mosque, they know the security services are there, spying on the mosques. So this is part of their tactics.

BLITZER: Anthony McCroy is an expert on Islam. He teaches at the Evangelical Theological College of Wales. Anthony, thanks for spending a few moments with us.

MCCROY: You're very welcome.

BLITZER: We'll talk over the political implications of the terror attacks in London with our colleagues Bob Novak and James Carville. They're standing by as our special coverage continues.


BLITZER: Very dangerous hurricane, Hurricane Dennis, moving towards the United States. Let's get an update on where it is right now. Rob Marciano, standing by at the CNN Weather Center -- Rob.

Unfortunately we don't have Rob Marciano, but we're going to get Rob Marciano, coming up. Lucia Newman is in Havana. Lucia Newman is joining us on the video phone right now. Lucia, what are you seeing, what are you hearing?

LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf, well, let me first of all correct you. I'm not quite in Havana, I'm in Mantanzas province, the one that's right next door. It's here that hurricane is hitting right now, we are told. It's getting very, very windy. It's been raining on and off, and it will continue to get worse in the coming hours, because Hurricane Dennis just made landfall a short time ago. It entered through south central Cienfuegos province, and it's heading diagonally towards Mantanzas and possibly even Havana itself, Wolf.

Now, this place where I'm speaking to for you from is Vadadero, it's Cuba's most famous beach resort. And there are thousands and thousands of tourists from Europe and Canada, especially, who are took completely by surprise by this. Many of them have been evacuated from the nearby Keys. Because this is only the third time in 200 years that a hurricane -- nevermind a hurricane of this force -- hits Cuba in the month of July.

So far, Wolf, I believe 600,000 people have been evacuated throughout Cuba and many, many, many more will be throughout the coming hours, as this storm heads towards the north. The big question is, will it come to Mantanzas, where I am now, or through Havana, which could cause massive flooding in the capitol, which is probably the part of Cuba that's most ill-prepared to face a hurricane -- Wolf.

BLITZER: When you say ill-prepared, Lucia, what kind of precautions -- what kind of ability do they have there in Cuba to deal with this kind of a hurricane? NEWMAN: When I say ill-prepared, I mean ill-prepared especially for the aftermath and the flooding, because Cuba is very well- prepared, paradoxically, to deal with getting people out of harm's way, with evacuating people from flimsy homes or from low-lying areas. They are -- they have -- they really get an A-plus on that score. During the last hurricanes last year, there were almost no fatalities at all, in comparison to other countries in the Caribbean.

But afterwards, unlike in Florida, for example, as we've seen, there are no hardware stores here, there are no Home Depot that people can go to get plywood, to get anything to protect their homes, what little belongings they have. So really, they are at the mercy of mother nature when it comes to that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Lucia Newman, outside of Havana for us in Cuba. Good luck to you, good luck to everyone in Cuba. Hurricane Dennis moving over -- over Cuba even as we speak.


BLITZER: We'll take a quick break.

When we come back, James Carville, Bob Novak, they're standing by to talk about the political fallout from the terror attacks in London.

Also, what's happening at the U.S. Supreme Court? Much more coverage right after this.


BLITZER: Much more coverage of the aftermath of the London terror attacks coming up, but there's also lots of rumors swirling around Washington involving the United States Supreme Court. Let's get some analysis of what's going on. Our political analyst James Carville and Bob Novak joining us here in the studio.

Bob, you wrote a widely read column this week, suggesting that there could be another resignation, another retirement before the end of this week. Tell our viewers what you are hearing.

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POL. ANALYST: Well, I had heard from a very good source is that the Chief Justice William Rehnquist was either going to retire on Tuesday of this week, which he didn't or Friday, which is today.

Now, since then, my source tells me that he is going to retire, and the time of retiring is going to be as soon as the president is back in the country, as soon as Air Force One lands in the country, which I guess is about 10 minutes till 5:00 Eastern Time today as scheduled. So that has been Chief Justice Rehnquist's plan.

According to my source the chief did not -- wanted to retire about a week ago when the court ended, but he didn't want to rain on Sandra Day O'Connor's parade. If he would resign the same time as she did, he'd probably get all the publicity. He felt with all her 18 or 19 years experience on the court, he wanted to give her own time. BLITZER: So this is, as we say in our business, a single source you have suggesting that. You don't have confirmation.

NOVAK: I had confirmation that it was -- earlier in the week that it was going to be Tuesday or Friday. I had confirmation on that. I don't have confirmation he's going to resign today.

BLITZER: Well, let's talk a little bit about this, James, 4:50 p.m. Eastern Time. That's what time Air Force one is scheduled to touch down at Andrews Air Force Base outside here in Washington. If Bob's source is right, that adds a whole new dimension to what's happening with the United States Supreme Court.

We'll talk about the political fallout from the terror attacks in London.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POL. ANALYST: Wow, you've got a lot of stuff to recover here. It sure does, and it's going to be -- and I suspect Bob is right. He's very plugged into this. He's very thorough when he does something. And for his sake, you know what I mean, probably is going to happen. It's going to be huge. And you'd have two vacancies, and you've got a lot of things in the news. And I remember just to show you how things are, you know, 10 days ago people complaining because nothing was going on in Washington, and a lot of summer vacation is going to get busted up. There are a lot of journalists and a lot of people are going to be working hard if this is true, and I suspect it might be.

BLITZER: What does it do -- and I want to bring Bob back in a second -- what does it do to the strategy, the Democratic strategy, if you've got a new chief justice, a lot of speculation maybe the president would ask Antonin Scalia to be the chief justice, then that opens up two other slots on the U.S. Supreme Court. What do...

CARVILLE: Well, you can't open -- if he moves Scalia, still one slot on the Supreme Court. They're be two open.

BLITZER: There's a different strategy for a chief justice, as opposed to an associate justice.

CARVILLE: Right. It's going to be pore -- I don't think the Democrats can have a strategy. The president holds the cards now. I mean, he can time -- you know, he has a perfect right to time who he does. He may say I want to do this one, and then I'm going to replace this.

I mean, I'm sure the White House has gone through every permutation that they can to in what order the people come up, and that kind of stuff. So I mean, the Democrats are at a strategic -- they're reacting strategically over the course of this summer, because right now, the White House has the gift of timing, and they have that element, which is an advantage, so the Democrats are just waiting to respond.

BLITZER: What do think? NOVAK: What's at stake is control, ideological control of the court. There are a lot of 5-4 decisions that go the liberals' way on this court. Liberals are most of the way on this court, believe it or not.

And the question is, who replaces Sandra Day O'Connor? Now, if the president names a conservative to replace Rehnquist and a liberal to -- a moderate, centrist as Sandra Day O'Connor was, to replace her, the conservative movement is going to be very, very upset. They want to take control of this court, so this is a very tense time for them.

Now, say that he names as a chief Justice Scalia, that means he has Scalia as chief justice, somebody to replace Scalia, who will be a conservative, and he could put a moderate in for O'Connor. That's three -- he says, I've given you 2-1, and the conservatives say, no, that keeps the court balanced exactly as it is now. We want to gain control. So this is really -- I've been in this town for 45 years, Wolf, and I have never seen a time where the Supreme Court balance is -- control is hanging in the balance.

BLITZER: I've never seen the opposition to Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, from the conservative wing of the Republican Party emerge as robust as it clearly has.

CARVILLE: What would happen, Bob, if he appointed Gonzales?

NOVAK: He'd be confirmed, but he would have -- in the opinion of the conservatives, he would have been -- he would have betrayed the premises on which he was elected, to change the orientation of the court. I remember in his first debates when he said, who do you want as you replacement? He said somebody like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

BLITZER: Well, we'll wait and see. Once again, Bob Novak has a single source, one source, a good source, presumably suggesting that once the president's plane, Air Force One, touches down at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington D.C., 4:50 p.m. Eastern Time later today, there could be yet another retirement, the Chief Justice William Rehnquist. We'll find out. We'll watch, we'll wait and we'll see what's going on.

Bob Novak, thanks very much. James Carville, thanks to you, as well.

Much more of our special coverage on the aftermath of the London terror attacks right after this.