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CNN Saturday Morning News

Slobodan Milosevic Found Dead In Jail Cell; President Bush And Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Discuss Defeating IEDs; Sporting Events Could Become Terror Targets

Aired March 11, 2006 - 09:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: It is 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific. We are following breaking news this morning.
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has died. Officials tell CNN he was found dead in his prison cell at the U.N. detention center near the Hague. Milosevic was on trial at the Hague, charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. More on this story in a couple of minutes.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: There are also new developments out of Baghdad. Where American hostage and peace activist Tom Fox was found dead. Fox was shot in the head and chest. Iraqi police say there were signs that he had been tortured. The latest on this investigation is coming up in about ten minutes from now.

HARRIS: Iraq is also on the White House agenda at this hour. President Bush is meeting with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. They are discussing the threat by the type of improvised explosives we're seeing a lot of in Iraq and how to defeat them. In several upcoming speeches next week, Mr. Bush will begin renewed pose to raise public opinion on the war.

NGUYEN: We want to take you now to some tape, not this one, but a tape that we're going put up in moments of President Bush meeting with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld this morning. The topic of discussion, improvised explosive devices as we were talking about, just moments ago in Iraq. Let's take a listen to that.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Morning. I want to thank the general for being here to brief me about tactics on the ground in Iraq. One of the things that the secretary and General Pace are constantly doing are briefing their commander in chief as to the nature of the enemy, what the enemy is trying to do to shake our will and how we're adjusting. How we're constantly adapting our tactics on the ground to achieve a victory.

We face an enemy that will use explosive devices in order to shake our will, in order to ferment violence in Iraq, in order to try to convince the American people that we can't win in Iraq. That's what they're trying to do. The general has spent a lot of time thinking about the enemy's tactics and techniques, and how our military can adjust to them.

So, the briefing today was a series of briefing I get from our commanders on the ground as well as our experts hired by the Pentagon to let me know what we're doing so I can let the American people know that we recognize the nature of this enemy, we're adjusting our tactics to defeat this enemy for the sake of peace, for the sake of the security of the United States of America, and for the sake of peace in the world. General, thank you for being here. I appreciate your time. I'll answer a couple of questions.


BUSH: If the allegations are true, Claude Allen did not tell my chief of staff and legal counsel the truth, and that's deeply disappointing. If the allegations are true, something went wrong in Claude Allen's life. And that's really sad. When I heard the story last night, I was shocked. And my first reaction was one of disappointment, deep disappointment that, if it's true, we will were not fully informed. But it was also one, shortly thereafter, I felt really sad for the Allen family -- Karen.

QUESTION: Sir, are you concerned about the rift, the divide (INAUDIBLE).

BUSH: The Republican party is united in our efforts to win the war on terror. The Republican party is united in our efforts to keep this economy strong by keeping taxes low. The Republican party is united into making us less dependent on foreign sources of oil. I am -- I read all the stories about this rift or that rift. It's typical Washington; it seems like, to me.

I'm looking forward to continuing to work with the leadership in the United States Congress to pass an agenda that will keep America the economic leader of the world and will keep this country secure. And next fall, I'm looking forward to campaigning, with our candidates. Ours is the party that has an agenda for the future and ours is the party that has performed. Stretch (ph)?

QUESTION: Mr. President, the IEDs, are you concerned that these sophisticated (INAUDIBLE).

BUSH: We're constantly gathering intelligence. We're monitoring influence. We are adjusting our tactics. We are -- obviously, any kind of influence from a foreign country that is disruptive, any kind of influence, the Iranians are trying to influence the outcome of the political process or the outcome of the security situation there, we're letting them know our displeasure. Our call is for those in the neighborhood to allow Iraq to develop a democracy and that includes our call to Iran as well as to Syria.

We have made our concerns known. We'll continue to make our concerns known. It's in the interest of the neighborhood that Iraq develop to be a peaceful democracy. You know, it's important for countries to have stable, peaceful, prosperous countries on their border.

Prosperity in one country will help prosperity in other nations. That's important for our friends in the rest of the Middle East, to help this new democracy. So, yes, we're interested in negative influence and we're interested in positive influence and we call on people to be a positive influence to help this new democracy emerge, and I'm optimistic that the Iraqi people will overcome the challenges they face.

My optimism is based upon the reality on the ground. One, there are some people trying to, obviously, form sectarian violence, calling it civil war, but it didn't work. Secondly, I'm optimistic, because the Iraqi security forces performed, in most cases, really well to provide security. All but two of the provinces of Iraq, after the blowing up of the mosque, were settled. I'm positive and optimistic about the development that the Iraqi security forces are achieving.

I know we've got to do more work in the police forces. We have said that very clearly. General Casey has called the year 2006 the year of police training and we'll continue to work to train the police. I'm optimistic that the leadership recognizes that a sectarian violence will undermine the capacity for them to self govern.

I believe we'll have a unity government in place to help move the process forward. I fully recognize the nature of the enemy is such that they want to convince the world that you cannot succeed in Iraq. I know we're going to succeed if we don't lose our will.

Thank you all.

NGUYEN: There you have it, the president speaking with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld this morning. The topic of discussion, improvised explosive devices in Iraq. This comes as the president begins the first of three speeches on Iraq, which will start Monday.


HARRIS: All right. Let's get you to the White House now for some reaction to the president's comments this morning. CNN's Elaine Quijano is there. Elaine, how do we do this on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, just talk about whatever comes to mind.

First of all, I guess I want your thoughts on the news about Claude Allen. This is a man who was one of the president's top domestic policy advisors, as you know, resigned -- what was it, Elaine, about a month ago now? And now we learn that he's involved, allegedly, in a swindling scheme.

I guess when you walk out of stores with merchandise that you haven't paid for, we can call it swindle or just out thievery at this point. He was involved, allegedly, in a refund scheme. What can you tell us? The president, of course, telling us he was disappointed.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. What you laid out there, essentially the facts that we know, this all coming to light just recently, and the president himself saying that he was shocked to hear about this story.

As you mentioned, Claude Allen was the president's top domestic policy advisor. A person who, as you mentioned resigned last month. Some would say abruptly. And authorities in Maryland accuse him of, in fact, engaging in that refund scam, if you will at two department stores.

But this is a story still unfolding. As the president said, if Claude Allen didn't tell the truth at the White House, at the time, of course, there wasn't any kind of hint that this was the reason behind Claude Allen's resignation when it was announced, but now, of course, all these details coming to light. The president expressing his disappointment to hear that news -- Tony.

HARRIS: The highest ranking African-American on the White House staff at the time that he resigned, shaped policy on issues from health care to housing -- I'm sorry, Elaine, health care, to housing to education. So, that's the story as we know it. The facts as we know it at this point of Claude Allen. I'm curious in your reaction to what you heard the president on Iraq that we can win if we don't lose our resolve.

QUIJANO: The president being asked several questions there. Actually we should note something that wasn't on the tape. The president, as the pool reporters were leaving the room, was asked about Slobodan Milosevic's death and the president said off camera -- again, we didn't see it there -- that he was just hearing about it. So, at this point, that is the extent of the reaction coming out of the White House. Of course, that's the story we all have been following this morning.

Now, on the Iraq front, of course, the president holding somewhat rare meeting, inviting reporters in to take note of the fact that the president is getting information about how the United States is attacking this very serious problem of IEDs, we heard him mention General Meigs.

Hs name is Montgomery Meigs. He is a retired army general that heads up a task force that essentially is assign today looking at ways to counter the IED threat in Iraq. What we heard and what we saw there really is part of a larger effort by the White House, a renewed push to try to sell its case, if you will that, that in fact, it does have a strategy, the White House does have a strategy for winning the war in Iraq.

Now, the president, on Monday, is going to be delivering a series of speeches, or delivering a speech on Monday here in Washington, the start of a series of speeches designed to really lay out more specifics about what the United States is doing, what the military is doing. What they are doing not just on the security front, but the political front, the reconstruction front. If it sounds familiar, certainly this is similar to what they did in December.

They understand, this is now the three-month -- the three-year anniversary, this month marking the three-year anniversary since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began. They know full well there will be a lot of reflection, a lot of looking back. They want to make sure that they get their message out to try to put things in context that, in fact, they see there is progress that is being made. HARRIS: Elaine, thank you. I know I take you all over the map when we get an opportunity to talk. Thanks for staying with us. Elaine Quijano at the White House.

NGUYEN: Well we want you to stay with us as well. Because there is a lot more coming up on CNN SATURDAY MORNING including news this morning just a few hours ago that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was found dead this morning in his cell at the Hague where he was standing trial for war crimes. It happened about 10:00 am local time.

Our Matthew Chance is in Moscow, where the Milosevic family resides. We'll go live there right after this break to get some reaction from them. Stay with CNN SATURDAY MORNING. We will be right back.


NGUYEN: If you're just tuning in, former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic was found dead in his prison cell this morning at the Hague. CNN confirmed the news about 90 minutes ago. Milosevic's family lives in Russia. CNN's Matthew Chance joins us live from Moscow with the latest there. What kind of reaction are you getting?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not much of a reaction at yet, Betty. We've had comments from a number of Russian officials that are saying that they regret the death of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president, but also from the Russian minister, saying he regrets the war crimes tribunal in the Hague did not allow Milosevic to have treatment in Russia.

He applied for medical treatment just a few weeks ago for his very serious heart and high blood pressure problems. The Hague tribunal said he couldn't come to Russia, because they were worried he would never be fit to travel back to the court again.

As you mentioned, his family or much of it does currently live in Russia, including his wife, Mirjana Markovic. Long-standing Yugoslav ambassador to Russia during the twelve or so years of President Milosevic's regime in Yugoslavia. He has had comments to the Russian media over the past several minutes saying that he believes complete responsibility for this lies on the international tribunal. Again, a reference to the fact that that tribunal refused to allow his brother to get medical treatment here in Russia -- Betty.

NGUYEN: CNN's Matthew Chance in Moscow with reaction there. Of course, we'll have much more of this throughout the day. Matthew, thank you for that.

HARRIS: Betty, big games, big audiences. There is plenty of basketball on tap this weekend. Are you a basketball fan? Man, the menu is full.

Some government security analysts are working overtime to keep you safe for those ball games. Stay tuned for a security watch update. That is next on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: There's no specific threat, but if you plan on attending any NCAA March madness games, you might want to look at the people around you. Since 9/11, there's closer scrutiny any time Americans gather in large numbers. CNN's justice correspondent Kelli Arena reports.


KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With college basketball tournaments taking place this weekend, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are warning stadium operators that sporting events could become terror targets. Officials say there was an Internet posting on an extremist Web site advocating attacks at sporting events.

One law enforcement agency tells CNN that FBI and DHS do not believe that the posting constitutes an imminent threat, but the source says it was broadly distributed among jihadist Web sites and contains information regarding tactics.

Now according to the bulletin those tactics include hiding explosives under winter clothing and having one suicide bomber detonate a bomb inside the stadium while others set off bombs in the path of evacuating fans. They also suggest using blonde or black American suicide bombers.

To put it in a perspective, this is not an alert; this is information that was passed along as part of the FBI's regular bulletin that is sent out weekly to state and local law enforcement officials. The FBI stresses in the bulletin there is no specific or credible intelligence that any attack is planned. Officials say the information was shared out of an abundance of caution.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

HARRIS: We invite you to stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

NGUYEN: There's a new man in town, that guy would be Reynolds Wolf. Have you heard of him? Have you seen him? You will. He's joining us today in his bright orange. I like that, from Texas. I'm a longhorn. You know how to get on my good side. Tony, you were so happy that there's another guy on the team and now we are going to make your life a living -- well, you know.


NGUYEN: "OPEN HOUSE" is straight ahead with a tale of two cities from Las Vegas to Detroit; Gerri Willis takes a look at two very different housing markets.

HARRIS: First, imagine challenging yourself to learn a new skill or hobby while on vacation. One rustic school in the foothills of North Carolina offers a creative learning vacation for the tradition, culture and memories.


ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, a place where more than just traditional Appalachian an arts and crafts are taught.

JOHN DAVIDSON, DR. JOHN C. CAMPBELL FOLK SCHOOL: I think people come here looking for maybe a part of themselves, that sometimes gets pushed into the background. We're in such a hurry. We're so competitive that we don't get much encouragement to find that other part of ourselves.

ANNOUNCER: More than 800 classes are offered year round from blacksmithing to wood turning to basketry and pottery. The classes are all hands on.

DAVIDSON: A lot of people come here to bring something into their life and some people come to maybe reconnect with things they wish they had done as children.

ANNOUNCER: In fact, according to the Travel Industry Association of America, in the past three years, over 30 million adults in the U.S. have taken some form of an educational trip. Many of these learning vacations are all about finding and developing that creative spirit within.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think you know nothing. Which by the end of the week you've done something that you never thought you would be able to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll take this home. It may not be to anybody's quality, but it's all mine.

ANNOUNCER: For many it's not just about the end product.

DAVIDSON: Somebody told me one time last year I got a tan. This year, I got a whole new attitude.



NGUYEN: Let's get you an update now on our developing story this morning. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has died this morning. He was found dead in his prison cell at the U.N. detention center near the Hague. As you recall he was on trial at the Hague for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes from back in the 1990s.

The U.S. is investigating the death of American hostage Tom Fox, his body was found in Baghdad Thursday. Iraqi police say Fox was shot in the head and showed signs of torture. Fox, a Christian peace advocate, was abducted last November. There is no word on the fate of three other men abducted with Fox. And earlier today, U.S. and Iraqi forces detained 20 suspected insurgents and the military says they bagged a huge weapons cache during that raid. Officials say some suspects were captured at a Baghdad mosque. The U.S. military says the mosque had been identified as a possible al Qaeda safe haven in Iraq.

Defeating a deadly threat in Iraq, President Bush met with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld this morning, discussing ways to overcome the threat posed by improvised explosive devices or IEDs in Iraq. A staggering number of troops have been killed by these so- called homemade bombs.

Testing the political water, several potential Republican presidential candidates are gathered in Memphis, Tennessee, for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. Polls show former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is one of the most popular potential GOP candidates, but he isn't attending the conference. His spokeswoman said Giuliani had a longstanding business engagement.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be among the dignitaries at the swearing in of Chile's President-elect Michelle Bachelet. Rice says the U.S. has been a supporter of Chilean democracy for almost 20 years. Bachelet will be the country's first female president. And those are the headlines.

"OPEN HOUSE" starts right now.