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CNN Saturday Morning News

Evacuees return to New Orleans; California fires being contained; A series of explosions in Bali; Judith Miller released from prison; Bill Bennett makes controversial comments; Constance Baker Motley passes away

Aired October 01, 2005 - 10:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. At least two people are dead after explosions rocked tourist areas of Indonesia's resort island of Bali today. It comes one day after the U.S. Embassy sent a reminder that the terrorism level was high. There are reports that two explosions happened in the area of Jimbaran on Bali's south coast. And another hit downtown Kuta about 20 miles away.
California firefighters making progress battling that massive 24,000 acre wildfire northwest of Los Angeles. It's now 40 percent contained. Residents chased from their homes have the OK now to return.

Some troubling signs about the economy. Commerce Department figures show consumers' income and spending declined in August. Some analysts say the plunge is due largely to Hurricane Katrina and rising fuel costs. A separate University of Michigan survey found consumer confidence is down as well.

It is Saturday, October 1st. Good morning from the CNN Center in Atlanta. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in for Betty Nguyen.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning everyone, I'm Tony Harris. Thank you for starting your day with us. They fled New Orleans by the thousands. Now some are venturing back to see what's left after Hurricane Katrina.

Eight zip codes in the city have reopened to evacuees, but living conditions are far from ideal. CNN's Dan Lothian is covering what for many people is the start of the very long road to recovery. Good morning, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Tony. It certainly will be a long road for individuals and certainly for this city as well. We did get a chance to see some folks yesterday as they were returning for the very first time. And you get sort of two reactions.

I mean, there are those who are obviously elated that they still have their home, that they only have minor damage. And then there are those -- we saw one house that had been under renovation and it simply collapsed. There are others where the roof or the foundation is shifted and so they can come back, they can pick up their belongings but they cannot yet move in because the situation is still unstable. Yesterday Mayor Ray Nagin at a press conference unveiled a new commission made up of some 17 members. These are people who would advise the city, advise the mayor on the best way of rebuilding New Orleans, and he hopes to have a final plan from them by the end of the year. The mayor also making an appeal to those 200,000 plus who were allowed to come back to come back home.


MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: To all my New Orleanians, wherever you are, we want you back. We want all of you back. We want you back from the uptown to downtown. We want you back from the east to the west. We want you back from the Lower Ninth Ward. We want you back from Pigeontown. Wherever you were from, we want you back.


LOTHIAN: Governor Kathleen Blanco also met with some of those residents who were returning. Now, there will be another phase next week where some other zip codes will be opened up and additional residents will be allowed to come back.

It's interesting, though, how this city really does appear to be coming back to life. You see cafes that have reopened. Even in the French Quarter last night, you know, a lot of the clubs were open. The bars were open. And you saw a lot of activity out there on the streets, so, yes, the city is coming back to life and as you talk to the residents they seem very positive.

On the one hand they're saying, yes, we will rebuild. But as the mayor pointed out, they need a lot of help, especially from the federal government in order to make that happen -- Tony.

HARRIS: CNN's Dan Lothian in New Orleans for us. Dan, thank you.

You may not believe it but real estate is booming in Biloxi, Mississippi. Prices have jumped anywhere from 10 to 20 percent even for damaged homes. Uninsured homeowners with few options seem to be taking up the offers to sell their properties. Prices to rebuild homes have gone up as well, 25 percent in the last month.

Fish in the Gulf of Mexico have fared better than some originally feared after Hurricane Katrina despite eight million gallons of oil spilled during the storm. Scientists say the fish are showing no symptoms of exposure to oil. Tests for other possible contaminants continue.

WHITFIELD: Tony, in southern California 3,000 firefighters catch a break from the weather in battling the ferocious Chatsworth/Topanga fire. But now another fire in the hills of Burbank of a major concern. The blaze has exploded to about 800 acres. Area residents have been asked to leave. Peter Viles reports on the Chatsworth/Topanga fire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Topanga Canyon fire has already torched an area bigger than Manhattan. As it flared, the 3,000 firefighters fought back, from the air and on the ground, using bulldozers and even fighting fire with fire. The hot Santa Ana winds that fueled the fire died down and fire officials were optimistic.

CAPT. JULES GRIGGS, VENTURE COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: We are getting a real upper hand on it. You know, he weather was very good for us today. It provided us a good opportunity to be aggressive and to put some lines down and do an additional attack on the fire.

VILES: Remarkably, a fire that has burned 21,000 acres has destroyed only a handful of buildings. Bob and Barbara Dunn are among the many counting their blessings after a rude awakening Thursday morning.

BOB DUNN, RESIDENT: Well, at 3:00 a.m., I thought the sun was coming up as there were shadows in the bedroom back here. And I looked to see and it was a fire. It was just mounting on the rim, that farthest rim where the peek was coming up.

VILES: The fire closed in so quickly the Dunns could not leave.

BARBARA DUNN, RESIDENT: I was kind of panicking then because there was 30-foot flames and I could hear it crackling and the black smoke and there was firemen going up our hill here.

VILES: But firemen on the scene were even telling jokes while they protected the house.

BOB DUNN: Firemen's humor started. They said, well, you know, actually we've got to really let it burn all of the way down. That way you get rid of all the fuel. You know, we're saying -- they're saying it with a straight face.

VILES: California's governor flew over the Topanga fire and later praised the firefighters.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, CALIFORNIA: Thank you very much to the brave firefighters. They are doing such a heroic job working day and night to put this fire out. And they have been almost under control. And it's incredible the kind of work they do, so give them a big hand for the great work that they're doing.


WHITFIELD: Firefighters say that blaze is about 40 percent contained. And residents chased from their homes have gotten the OK now to return.

Meantime, we're getting new pictures in out of Indonesia. Explosions reported this morning and now CNN is confirming at least two confirmed deaths. Earlier a series of explosions taking place in Kuta, an area frequented by a number of tourists in the area along the beaches there. We don't know the circumstances of the deaths. There has been no claim of responsibility as of yet. But you recall back in 2002, major explosions taking place in Bali. At that time 200 people were killed. There have been no official comparisons being made from that explosion taking place in 2002 to this one this morning.

But right now you're looking at the new pictures coming in. This investigation really just getting underway, but CNN is confirming two deaths have been reported from a series of explosions taking place there in Bali.

Now, stories across America this morning. Police in south Georgia are investigating an overnight spree of violence through two counties and four trailer parks that left five people dead -- all men -- and at least six people have been injured. It happened early Friday about 180 miles south of Atlanta. Authorities believe all the victims were Latino and mostly were savagely beaten. No arrests have been made.

A dead teenager's videotape helps in the arrest of his suspected killer. Seventeen-year-old Seth Hammes -- his camera continued to roll when he was fatally wounded last Saturday in Wisconsin. Prosecutors now say the voice of 24-year-old Russell Schroeder is on that videotape. Schroeder faces charges of first degree reckless homicide.

In New York, a little girl is no closer to home. A week after authorities found her walking the streets of Queens alone, she's identified as a 4-year-old, Valerie Lazota (ph). Police say her mother, 26-year-old Monica Lazota (ph), is missing. Investigators have been questioning the woman's boyfriend. Meanwhile, Valerie remain in state custody -- Tony.

HARRIS: After spending 12 weeks behind bars, "New York Times" reporter Judith Miller has finally testified before a grand jury about who outed a covert CIA operative. Miller was jailed for refusing to reveal her source's identity. Then says the source gave her the OK to testify. CNN Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena has the details.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Judith Miller is exhausted but happy.

JUDITH MILLER, "NEW YORK TIMES" REPORTER: I heard directly from my source that I should testify before the grand jury. This was in the form of a personal letter and, most important, a telephone conversation, a telephone call to me at the jail.

ARENA: Though she wouldn't say, Miller's source was Lewis Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. That's according to Libby's lawyer. Miller says she was also given assurances from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he wouldn't go on a fishing expedition and instead would limit questioning to specific discussions she had with her source. MILLER: The special counsel agreed to this and that was very important to me.

ARENA: Miller received permission from Libby in the form of a waiver to testify more than a year ago. But she didn't because she says it may not have been voluntary. Libby's lawyer says that he made it clear from the start that it was. But Miller wasn't convinced until her lawyer recently approached Libby.

ROBERT BENNETT, JUDITH MILLER'S ATTORNEY: We had reason to believe that he was prepared. He had made those representations to some third parties.

ARENA: As long as the grand jury was sitting and Miller refused to talk, she had to stay in jail. There was speculation Fitzgerald would ask for an extension or even impanel a new one, meaning even more jail time. Now that Miller has testified, Fitzgerald may be able to wrap up his two-year probe.

(on camera): Knowingly divulging the name of a covert CIA operative is a federal crime but it's unclear whether Fitzgerald has found any evidence that anyone did that, in the White House or anywhere else.

ROSCOE HOWARD, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: But certainly one of the options is that, yes, we've got a;; this evidence and, yes, we found out that certain acts or activities happened, but nevertheless we've just decided that we're not going to go forward with it.

ARENA (voice-over): The controversy started when columnist Bob Novak revealed Valerie Plame's name in one of his articles as the wife of diplomat Joe Wilson, who openly criticized the president's policy in Iraq. It's not clear who Novak's sources were or why he wasn't held in contempt.

ROBERT NOVAK, COLUMNIST/CNN CONTRIBUTOR: My lawyer said I cannot answer any specific questions about this case.

ARENA: Libby isn't the only senior White House staffer who admits to having discussions with reporters. So did Karl Rove, the president's deputy chief of staff. But both he and Libby say they never mentioned Plame's name to reporters. Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Federal auditors blister the Bush White House over what they call covert propaganda. Auditors say Bush aides flouted the law in buying phony news coverage of President Bush's education policies, a centerpiece of his re-election campaign. The audit also sharply criticizes payments to conservative commentator Armstrong Williams. His newspaper columns and television appearances praise the bush education initiative, the, No Child Left Behind Act.

And now, again, we want to show these picture that we're just getting in out of Indonesia, specifically explosions -- a series taking place in two separate area in Bali, at the Jimbaran Beach and then in downtown Kuta, this happening about 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. And correct me now. Instead of these taped pictures, now these are live images that are coming in here.

The investigation is really just under way. It is now 10:00 p.m. their time, so they're having to work in the dark trying to collect whatever kind of forensic evidence as well as any kind of evidence relating to the types of explosive devices. No claim of responsibility as of yet. Of course, when we get more information, we'll be bringing that to you. CNN is confirming that there are two reported deaths.

HARRIS: And he says his words were botched; other says they were blatant biased. Did conservative radio host Bill Bennett's comments on blacks and abortion cross a racial line? We have both sides of the debate.

WHITFIELD: Who lies (ph) at the moment.

And it was destroyed by Katrina, but its mission was not. How one New Orleans bank stays true to its roots while most of its structure lies in ruins.


WHITFIELD: All right, I want to update you right now. At about 8:30 this morning Eastern time there were several explosions taking place in Indonesia, specifically on the resort island of Bali. These pictures are just now coming in as investigators there are trying to work in the dark because it's now 10:00 p.m. their time. And this is an area that is heavily visited by tourists and investigators are still trying to figure out why the explosions took place, who is to blame.

CNN is confirming two reported deaths. There have been other reported injuries. And explosion taking place in Bali just a couple years ago, back in 2002, resulting in 200 deaths. So still, that incident still very much fresh on the minds of the people there and now this earlier this morning, a series of several explosions taking place resulting into many injuries and at least two confirmed deaths -- Tony.

HARRIS: Former education secretary Bill Bennett is defiant in the face of widespread condemnation. On his talk radio show, Bennett discussed a theory linking a drop in the crime rate to the abortion of black babies. Bennett says he doesn't owe anyone an apology.


WILLIAM BENNETT, FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY: I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that was your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.


HARRIS: OK. In a statement issued yesterday Bennett said, "a thought experiment about public policy, on national radio, should not have received the condemnations it has. Anyone paying attention to this debate should be offended by those who have selectively quoted me, distorted my meaning and taken out of context the dialogue I engaged in this week. Such distortions from 'leaders' or organizations and parties is a disgrace not only to the organizations and the institutions they serve, but to the First Amendment."

Some people say Bennett's comments were racist. He says not so. We have two guests who land on different sides of the issue. Michelle Bernard with the Independent Women's Forum joins us from Washington. Michelle, good morning.


And Shelby Steele, a research fellow at Hoover Institute joins us by phone from Pebble Beach, California. Shelby, good morning.


HARRIS: Well, Michelle, let me start with you. Your reaction initially when you heard the comments?

BERNARD: I had to listen to it twice and then read a transcript because I couldn't believe that in 2005 somebody would actually utter those words. You know, it's pretty clear, Tony, that he was not calling for the abortion of all black babies in the United States.

And I don't doubt Bill Bennett when he says he was probably trying to show the horrors of you utilitarian pro-abortion arguments like those made in the Steven Levitt book, "Freakonomics."

But, you know, here's the problem with what he said. He chose to bring race into this issue when even the "Freakonomics" book didn't bring race into the issue. He chose to choose black people and harp on a stereotype that black Americans are responsible for all of the crime in the United States.

And one has to ask, why did he choose black people as the ethnic group to use to prove his hypothesis? Why did he talk about -- for example, he could have said that we might reduce the crime rate by aborting all white babies. If we abort all white babies, we would reduce the number of crystal meth users, we would reduce the number of Columbine-like shooters.

HARRIS: Got you.

BERNARD: You know, why black people?

HARRIS: Hey, Shelby, let me let you weigh in on this. Where do you come down on this?

STEELE: Well, I tend to think that you have to take this whole brouhaha in the context of Steven Levitt's book "Freakonomics," which puts forth the proposition that abortion -- legalization of the abortion in 1970s is what, in fact, brought the crime rate down in the 1990s.

And I think that it was a thought experiment on Bennett's part. And I think he was sort of projecting -- playing this Socratic method and putting out a proposition that he knew on the face of it was absurd but that technically the fact of the matter is, blacks do -- 55 percent of all federal prisoners are black, even though we're even 10 percent of the population.

BERNARD: Yes, but you ...

STEELE: This is the sort of elephant in the room that is ...


STEELE: that we as black people are always going to be vulnerable to and oversensitive about because -- precisely because there's this ugly, terrifying element of truth in it.

HARRIS: All right. Michelle, you want in?

BERNARD: I've got to -- I've absolutely got to comment on that. Absolutely there's no doubt our prisons are filled with blacks and particularly black men. But it does not mean that African-Americans are primarily responsible for the majority of the crimes committed in the United States.

STEELE: Of course not.

BERNARD: We are -- if I could finish my statement, Shelby, please. We are convicted more. We do not know who is, you know -- who is responsible for most of the crime in the United States.

And the bottom line is, you could take this hypothesis and extend it to any ethnic or racial group or religious group in the United States and reduce crime. And the use of race by Bill Bennett in this circumstance was absolutely unnecessary and gratuitous. "Freakonomics" didn't do it and neither should Bill Bennett.

HARRIS: Shelby, I have to ask you. You know, there is -- you know, folks get along, blacks and whites sort of get along. We try to from day to day. And -- but, you know, there is this level of trust or mistrust.

And then you hear a statement like this and you can't help but wonder, OK, thought experiment all right -- that's what you have editorial meetings for. Why do it on a national radio show? And you hear a comment like that and you wonder does he really mean it? Yes, all the disclaimers, all the disqualifiers, but does he mean it?

STEELE: No, he does not mean it. I can guarantee you that Bill Bennett does not mean -- does not want to apply eugenics method of, you know, population control to solve the crime problem. Absolutely not. He is -- he is an intellectual. Intellectuals work this way. They play the devil's advocate. I do this in my work constantly. I give the other side. As crazy and as absurd as it may be and as much as I may disagree with it, I give it its strongest and fullest expression.

And what we've got to understand here is that in America if we're going to get anywhere with this race problem, which has been with us for centuries, we've got to stop beating up on people for talking frankly and for putting out thought experiments. It's just got to grow beyond this now.

HARRIS: OK, Shelby, but if I were to ask you a question about reducing crime in America, do you believe as a black man that you would have gone with the same kind of construction?

STEELE: Of course not. I would have -- I have gone with that same kind of construction many times ...

HARRIS: You have?

STEELE: ... because, here's what you're not facing. The fact of the matter is, we're 10 percent of the population of the United States, we're -- 55 percent of the prisoners in federal prisons are black. That is a fact. We have a profound problem with crime. We commit crime far out of proportion to any other group in society. Now, how are we, as blacks, going to really face that problem if we're afraid even to hear about it?

BERNARD: I don't think that blacks are afraid to hear about it.

STEELE: I think you're ...


BERNARD: We talk ...

HARRIS: Shelby, let me give Michelle the last word. I think we hear you loud and clear.

STEELE: Let me say that, Michelle ...


STEELE: ... sensitivity is precisely what shut people up in American life.

BERNARD: First of all, I'm very hard on crime and I'm not being sensitive. I'm being real.

HARRIS: Very quickly. Very quickly, Michelle.

BERNARD: If we're going to have a discussion about race in America, let's be honest about it and to paraphrase Shelby Steel's book, I want my children to be judged on the basis of their character. HARRIS: Got to go. Got to go. Got to go. Got to go. All right. Thank you both. We knew it would be a spirited debate. We'll be right back with more CNN SATURDAY MORNING right after this.


BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hello, everyone. I'm meteorologist Bonnie Schneider in the CNN Weather Center. If you're just waking up this morning in California, temperatures are a little cool in Fresno, right at 64 degrees, 66 in Los Angeles, 64 in San Diego.

As far as the fire weather is concerned, we're still getting luckily that on shore flow, meaning winds coming in off the water, off the Pacific. It makes for a little bit more moist conditions and a little bit better conditions certainly for the firefighters because it brings in cooler temperatures. Temperatures will be about 10 degrees cooler than where they were on Wednesday.

This pattern, that tends to just suppress those Santa Ana winds that are coming down from the mountains, this pattern will remain through the weekend and probably through Monday. But by the time we get to Tuesday and Wednesday the Santa Ana winds will be back and we're going to have some more dangerous conditions and the potential for more brush fires as well. So at least we'll have that through the weekend.

Checking things out in the tropics, we have tropical depression Number 19 formed. This one luckily is not moving anywhere near land. It's -- right now it's stationary but it's expected to drift northward. And as you can see, it's going to come over the open waters of Atlantic. So that's good news, not posing a threat to the U.S.

But we're also watching another area if disturbed weather in the Caribbean. This area has really just produced some thunderstorms near the Caymans, near Jamaica, but we're going to be watching for that as well to see whether or not this will develop into anything tropical. So at this point right now, we'll let you know supposedly an Air Force reconnaissance plane will check it out but at this point, that hasn't occurred yet.

All right. As we look towards China, we do have a typhoon, a powerful typhoon -- not a super typhoon because right now the winds are as strong as Category 4. A super typhoon means that the winds get up to Category 5 strength. This will be making landfall near Taiwan tonight and it will be a strong storm. But as it hits China later on in the weekend, we're expecting it to weaken to Category 2 strength, which is good news.

Quick check of your U.S. weather. Warm through the nation's mid section. Beautiful weather to the northeast, high pressure dominating. It will be perfectly cool and comfortable for the game today in Boston at Fenway Park. Lots of sunshine there and temperatures around right around 70 degrees. That's a look at your forecast. Stay tuned. We've got a lot more ahead coming up on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.


WHITFIELD: Hello again. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Back to our top story now. A hospital official in Bali, Indonesia says at least two people were killed in a series of blasts in an area popular with tourists. Joining us now, Marty Natalegawa, chief spokesman for the Indonesian foreign ministry. Thanks so much for being with us. I understand that these blasts took place within minutes of one another. Is that right?

MARTY NATALEGAWA, INDONESIAN FOR. MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: That's correct. That's one of the quality -- character of the blast that took place a couple hours ago now. One to two actually took place in an area called Jimbaran and another took place in an area called Kuta. Both these place in particular the latter will be place where's there would be a lot of congregation of tourists, both local and foreign.

WHITFIELD: How far are these locations from one another, Kuta and Jimbaran?

NATALEGAWA: Not that far. Things in Bali are quite complex. I wouldn't say more than four or five kilometers apart from one another. But we are just now, as you've also reported, trying to get the details in terms of the number of casualties. But irrespective of that, I think, all indications are that this is the work of terrorists.

The president himself is now on the way to Bali to oversee the matter directly and personally. And what is needed here is for the rest of the international community to stand by us in this very difficult situation and for us not to succumb to this obviously heinous and obviously cowardly act on the part of the terrorists.

WHITFIELD: Now about three years ago in something very similar took place there in Bali. The targeted locations were nightclubs. What can you tell me about these locations here in Kuta and Jimbaran? Were they restaurants? Was there any real common denominator? Was there anything that made them alike?

NATALEGAWA: Well, they are alike in terms of where the people would be, the tourists. In the Jimbaran location, if I'm not mistaken, it's open air situation. So I don't think it's actually targeted against any particular type of -- whether it be clubs, nightclubs or restaurants. But basically it's about where the people would be, where, including foreign tourists would be but also our own tourists would be to extract maximum casualty and even maximum tension.

There couldn't be a more profile target as far as Indonesia is concerned than the island of Bali where many thousands and millions of tourists have had a very positive and happy experience in spending their holiday on the island. I think, as we have said, when the bombing took place 9/11 in New York, in London, Madrid, we need to not succumb to this and to be determined in rejecting the attempts by these terrorists to terror. WHITFIELD: Well Marty Natalaegawa, chief spokesmen for the Indonesian foreign ministry, thank you so much for joining us on the telephone. This explosion taking place just a day after the U.S. embassy in Jakarta had reiterated to westerners there, particularly Americans that the terrorist threat was still very high and that for Americans to be vigilant. Tony?

HARRIS: Little by little people are returning home in New Orleans. The mayor invited residents of some of the cities most popular neighborhoods to return at their own risk. Most of the areas are clear of contaminated flood waters, but residents are finding downed trees, the stench of garbage and undrinkable tap water. But some of those returning are finding their homes in pretty good shape, complete with air conditioning. One thing the residents have in common is mold growing in their homes. As CNN's Chris Lawrence reports, that could pose a serious health threat.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim Landis is getting his first look at his mother's apartment.

JIM LANDIS, RESIDENT'S SON: I expected a whole lot worse than this.

LAWRENCE: Her room at the nursing home has mold covering the sofa, growing out of the ceiling.

LANDIS: Sofa's gone. I mean, but, fixtures and, you know, things she's had a long time are the important stuff.

LAWRENCE: That wasn't that bad. But some of these units are so much worse. This is the apartment of John Gish. He's 90 years old. You can still see his walker sitting right here on the floor. Right underneath, that water just completely soaked through the roof, collapsed the ceiling. And there is mold everywhere in his apartment. Literally, it's not a matter of trying to find a place in here where there is mold, but minding a place where there is no mold. From the walls, from the back to the front of this place, it is completely covered.

DR. FRANK RABITO, EAST JEFFERSON HOSPITAL: The mold could end up causing a significant medical problem for them.

LAWRENCE: Dr. Frank Rabito says even mild forms of mold can cause chronic sinus and respiratory problems.

RABITO: As we get older, our immune systems tend to fall apart and as a result become susceptible to infections.

MIKE CALHOUN, OWNER, PRATT STANTON MANOR: When I walked in and saw the rain pouring down, I said, oh God, this is it.

LAWRENCE: Mike Calhoun owns the nursing home, says the roof's gone on one side of the building. The apartments will have to be gutted. The clean-up crew Calhoun hired wouldn't even walk through the door without full hazmat suits. Mold is saturating the ceilings, which have to be ripped out and replaced to protect elderly residents who want to move back.

CALHOUN: That's why we wouldn't let anybody come back until we're sure it's safe.

LAWRENCE: Calhoun told me his residents are scattered all over the country with friends and family from New Mexico to New Jersey. Some of them have started to call and ask him when they can come home. First he's got to gut and replace half that building. Then the city inspectors have to come in and sign off before he gets the authorization to reopen. Chris Lawrence, CNN, New Orleans.


WHITFIELD: One of the many businesses that was severely ruined by hurricane Katrina is Liberty Bank and Trust Company. The bank based in New Orleans is one of the 10 largest black-owned commercial banks in the U.S. After Katrina ravaged the New Orleans area, eight of the bank's 13 branches were damaged by the storm, heavy flooding as well as looting. Everything was lost including loan papers and account files. The bank's CEO Alden McDonald assessed the damage this week and vows to rebuild. Alden McDonald joins me live now from Baton Rouge. Good to see you.


WHITFIELD: Well, in addition to eight of your 13 banks that were damaged or destroyed, you also lost something like $8 million in cash. Is that right?

MCDONALD: Well, we still have cash in the vault and some of the ruined places. I'm sure it's still safe in the vault. And we will try to retrieve some of those funding this week.

WHITFIELD: Your losses of at least the eight facilities in New Orleans, how damaging is that for your overall business and your pursuit to try to rebuild or recover what was lost?

MCDONALD: Well, a large percentage of our customer base was in the devastated area, flooding in New Orleans. We have quite a few of our customers who have moved out to other communities that we're trying to stay in touch with. We lost all of our files and we had to basically rebuild from ground zero, which the 40 percent of our employee base was still around and still local to help us bring this back. We've been working very hard in order to accomplish this.

WHITFIELD: So when you lose your files, how do clients have an opportunity to retrieve some of their money? So many of your clients who have been disbursed throughout the country who don't have access to their money because they don't have their ATM cards. They don't have ID, anything like that. How do you reach out to them or how can they reach out to you and you legitimately able to ascertain whether they indeed had accounts with you.

MCDONALD: We had a disaster plan that took place and we're operating computers out of Pennsylvania right now. What we've been doing, we've been wiring money to our customer base who moved out of the community. We've been sending them new ATM cards, new check cards. Thank the good Lord for technology because if it were not for technology, the customer base would find it very difficult to retrieve funds from their accounts.

And so we've been working very diligently in order to make certain that the customer base had access to their money and still have access to their money. And we're assisting them not only with making sure they can get their money, but we are helping them restart their lives again. We're going to need to lend them money to buy automobiles. There are over 50,000 cars that were flooded and still around. And the number is probably much higher than that. But they're going to need money to repair their homes.

WHITFIELD: Now, from restarting lives to rebuilding a city, you are one of 17 people who are on this commission to bring New Orleans back. It's called the bring New Orleans back commission. You along with Archbishop Alfred Hughes as well as well-known musician Winton Marsalis. How hopeful are you about a new revitalized New Orleans or is it your anticipation that this is going to be a city that a lot of people will never recognize?

MCDONALD: Well, we had our first commission meeting yesterday. We were briefed by the mayor and his staff. And the briefing went extremely well. We will not only rebuild New Orleans, but we will rebuild New Orleans even better than what it was. The mayor and his staff have done a terrific job in keeping focused. There are a lot of pieces in place for us to move forward. And I think we're going to get there much faster than everyone thinks. I was very, very impressed.

WHITFIELD: When the mayor says we want you back, is it your expectation that a lot of people who really make up the culture of that city will be making their way back, or have they been disbursed to other places and feel like there are new opportunities that await them in other states?

MCDONALD: I think a lot of people got to see other parts of the world. But my experience is that we all love New Orleans. We'll be back. There are a lot of families that are going to come back to other family members. We've been disbursed for a while. But I think we may lose some. I don't know what that percentage is. But we're going to make New Orleans so much better that people will want to come back. Probably even encourage new people to come into the New Orleans area.

WHITFIELD: OK, Alden, McDonald, thank you so much. We're sorry to cut you off. We're out of time, of Liberty Bank. Thanks so much for joining us from Baton Rouge.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, Tony.

HARRIS: And we want to check in now with Bonnie Schneider upstairs in the CNN weather center. And Bonnie, I guess the question now is that typhoon -- we're talking about the tropical depression, not the typhoon, I can see it behind you.

SCHNEIDER: This just happened, Tony. We have some news to report. Tropical depression number 20 has formed. Just moments ago I was showing you this picture here in the Caribbean and I was telling you that this is an area we were watching favorable for development. Right now as we speak, an Air Force reserve reconnaissance unit is on its way to investigate this tropical depression. It's number 20. Already this busy season, we just had 19 from earlier this morning way out in the Atlantic.

Here's our latest track for tropical depression number 20. The winds right now are at 30. It will strike the Yucatan peninsula. It looks like it will weaken a bit before it does that or possibly strengthen, then weaken when it interacts with the land. Remember, this storm will pass through Yucatan and then eventually come into the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The cone of uncertainty right now stretches mostly over Mexico, but we will watching this to see if south Texas will be included as we get more advisories on tropical depression 20 just formed in the western Caribbean. Tony.

HARRIS: OK, Bonnie, thank you.

President Bush says expect more violence out of Iraq, but should he expect support to continue to dwindle? Coming up next, the Bush administration's plan to combat criticism over the war in Iraq.


WHITFIELD: President Bush and some of his cabinet members are going on the offensive to rally support for the war in Iraq. Our Elaine Quijano joins us now from the White House with more on that. Elaine?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Fredricka. That's right. This comes at a time when President Bush's approval rating has been weighed down by a number of issues including the Iraq war. Now, President Bush who yesterday took part in a farewell ceremony for the retiring chairman of the joint chiefs, General Richard Myers, said today in his radio address talking about the training of the Iraqi security forces saying there's been progress.

Now, the president said he was encouraged by the increasing size and capability of those forces. The president though at the same time warned of more violence ahead. Mr. Bush says terrorists have a history of escalating attacks before political milestones in Iraq and he noted two elections. The first slated for October 14th are just around the corner.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In two weeks, Iraqis will vote on a democratic constitution and if that constitution is approved, they will return to the polls later this year to elect a fully constitutional government. As Iraqis take these next steps on the path to freedom and democracy, the terrorists will do everything they can to stop this progress and try to break our will. They will fail.


QUIJANO: Now, earlier this week the top U.S. military commander in Iraq said that the two-and-a-half months will be critical in order for the United States military to determine whether or not they will be able to draw down the number of U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq. Now, General George Casey also said that he will have a better sense of how exactly the military's going to proceed after those elections.

In the meantime, though, the Bush administration again trying to rally support for the Iraq war and the larger war on terror as well. On Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney will be speaking about this at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina and then on Thursday Fredricka, the president is scheduled to deliver remarks on the war on terror here in Washington. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: A busy week ahead and at the same time, Elaine, there have been some rumblings that the president may make an announcement on a Supreme Court nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor in the weeks ahead as well.

QUIJANO: That's right. There of course have been a lot of speculation about this after in fact that vote to confirm John Roberts as the chief justice took place. White House spokesman Scott McClellan essentially saying that we would now be entering a window of possibility for something to happen and certainly the president not at Camp David but -- now at Camp David, not here at the White House.

We haven't been able to see any kind of comings and goings, but it would not be out of the question certainly White House officials strongly indicating that an announcement could come as early as Monday. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Elaine Quijano at the White House. Thank you. Tony.

HARRIS: History was made this week when John Roberts became the youngest Supreme Court justice ever. A chapter of judicial history was closed, too. Up next, a legend in the civil rights movement and legal world passes on. A look back at the life of Constance Baker Motley when we return.


HARRIS: Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett is defiant in the face of widespread condemnation. On his talk radio show, Bennett discussed a theory linking a drop in the crime rate to the abortion of black babies. Bennett says he doesn't owe anyone an apology.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) BENNETT: I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.


WHITFIELD: All morning rather, we've been asking you for your thoughts on that very comment coming from Bill Bennett, asking you in the form of e-mails.

HARRIS: A lot of opinions. This one wasn't signed but here's the thought. I do not care what his rationalization or theory was, regardless of what he meant, his comments were bound to provoke people. He really should have known better. Someone who is in the public eye like he is should have a much better concept of what people think and care about.

WHITFIELD: And this from Ann in Crossville, Tennessee. He is right. However, if you abort all babies of any race, the crime rate would go down. Crime is not committed by just one race alone.

HARRIS: And this from Richard in San Diego. I am no fan of Bill Bennett, but what he said should be viewed as a response to a caller who was offering a simplistically wrong solution to a problem. Bennett gave an example of what might be an effective, but also simplistically wrong solution to another problem, crime. He was only trying to show the caller where his logic could lead.

Thank you all, again, for your e-mail responses to our question. This whole brouhaha over the comments by former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett I think we'll be dealing with this again next hour, with more of your e-mails,

Go behind the headlines of the civil rights movement and you'll find some amazing stories of heroism and dedication. Such is the case of Constance Baker Motley, the nation's first black woman judge who quietly passed away Wednesday of congestive heart failure.


HARRIS (voice-over): When those nine African-American students escorted by a thousand Federal troops marched into Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957 they were able to take that walk partially because of the work of attorney Constance Baker Motley.

When freedom riders rolled into the south, Motley was the lawyer speaking for them, testing the Supreme Court's ruling prohibiting segregation in interstate travel. Motley visited Martin Luther King Jr. in jail and won him the right to stage a protest march in Albany, Georgia -- a hard worker, yet quiet from the spotlight. Civil rights historian Deric Gilliard.

DERIC GILLIARD, CIVIL RIGHTS HISTORIAN: She's an example of someone who over came, someone who was given an opportunity because somebody recognized that she had this ability and then she made the most of it and then her legacy will be that she's somebody that won nine of 10 cases that she argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and these were landmark cases.

HARRIS: Born Constance Baker, she was the ninth of 12 children born to New Haven, Connecticut's Rachel and Willoughby Baker. Her mother was one of the founders of the New Haven chapter of NAACP. But her parent's activism was not what sparked her interest in civil rights.

That came when Baker was 15 years old and told she couldn't sit on a public bench because she was black. Fast forward to law school, at Columbia Law School. There she became a clerk for the legendary Thurgood Marshall. Motley spent the next four decades in the vanguard of the civil rights movement.

GILLIARD: She wrote the draft that became the Brown versus Topeka board of education case that of course transformed education in America.

HARRIS: A case that ended legal school segregation. In 1964, Motley became the first black woman to serve in the New York state senate. Her career has been an inspiration to many.

GILLIARD: When I worked at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. King's organization, worked with an attorney that she counseled there, Roxanne Gregory and she always spoke about the influence that Ms. Motley had had on her. She also was a New Englander and she was the example of a success for black women, civil rights attorneys at that point in time. She always talked about how she modeled her career after her and she would strive to make a difference because of the impact she had seen her make.

HARRIS: In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson nominated Motley to the Federal bench, where she remained for 39 years until her death this week. She was the nation's first black female Federal judge. Constance Baker Motley was 84 years old.


WHITFIELD: She made an extraordinary impact.

HARRIS: A life well lived in service of her country.

WHITFIELD: The next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING begins right after this.