Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Saturday Morning News

Interview with Howard Dean; Limbaugh Booked on Drug Charges; Major Wind Damage in Parts of Texas

Aired April 29, 2006 - 09:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. This is CNN "SATURDAY MORNING."
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, I'm Tony Harris. Thank you for starting your day with us. We're going to get you started now with a look at what's happening right "Now in the News."

NGUYEN: In a deal with prosecutors, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been charged with one count of prescription fraud. He was freed on bond after yesterday's formal arrest. Limbaugh's attorney says the charge will be dropped in 18 months if Limbaugh completes a treatment program. There's his mug shot there. He must also pay a $30,000 fine. Limbaugh, who has admitted a drug problem, pleaded not guilty to so-called doctor shopping.

Well, it may sound incredible, but many drugs, including heroin, could soon be legal in Mexico. A bill awaiting President Vicente Fox's signature would permit possession of small quantities of many illicit drugs. The government says the aim is to focus police resources on drug traffickers instead of users.

Now to Iraq. At least four Iraqi policemen have been killed over the past 24 hours. Three were killed by a roadside bomb, and the fourth killed after being kidnapped. A fifth person was also killed. The U.S. State Department says insurgent attacks against Iraqis doubled last year over the year before.

HARRIS: Sharp criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Iran's leadership. In an interview published in a German newspaper, Olmert compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler, and said he is -- quoting here -- "a psychopath of the worst kind." Meantime the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog confirmed on Friday that Tehran had not suspended uranium enrichment by the deadline set.

And check out the robo wars. Teenagers from across North America are at the Georgia Dome here in Atlanta this weekend to show off their amazing mechanical creations. CNN's Reynolds Wolf is there and he'll join us with a live report a little later in this half hour.

NGUYEN: That's some cool stuff.

All right, here's a question this morning. How did Rush Limbaugh get off the hook on the drug charge? The conservative radio host struck a deal late yesterday. So what is the deal?

Here's CNN's national correspondent Gary Tuchman with the details.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I am addicted to prescription pain medication.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a case that began with that admission nearly three years ago and ended with a deal today. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh turned himself in to Florida authorities today, as prosecutors charged him with fraud to conceal information to obtain prescription drugs.

But, under the deal, they agreed to drop that charge in 18 months, if the conservative commentator continues treatment for his drug problems. Limbaugh agreed to the deal, despite pleading not guilty to the charge. Some legal experts say the deal is nothing less than sweet.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: After this investigation and these extensive search warrants that were executed -- and the district attorney's office won the legal case, with -- winning the right to use those records in court, they come away with, likely, nothing against Rush Limbaugh, no conviction of any kind, a clean record for Rush Limbaugh after 18 months. And that's a win, by any standard, for -- for a defendant.

TUCHMAN: Florida prosecutors started investigating Limbaugh in 2003, after a tabloid reported his housekeeper's claim that he used her to illegally buy painkillers.

He was accused of doctor-shopping, going from one doctor to another to replenish his supply of pills. Prosecutors said he bought about 2,000 tablets prescribed by four different doctors from the same Palm Beach pharmacy in just six months. That's a claim Limbaugh and his lawyers have consistently denied.

ROY BLACK, ATTORNEY FOR RUSH LIMBAUGH: What he does say is that he was addicted to prescription pain medication, which, of course, he admitted back in 2003, when all of this began.

TUCHMAN: Limbaugh, famous for his on-air anti-drug tirades, said his own drug abuse was the result of severe back pain. He took a leave of absence from his radio show and entered rehab. Rehab isn't the only condition of the deal.

Limbaugh will also pay the state $30,000, some of the cost of the investigation. But, with this deal, his legal problems, at least, are nearly at an end.

BLACK: This man, who, whether he is a celebrity or not, is able to put his life together, and I think it's a very good thing.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NGUYEN: And we want to know from you, what do you think of the Rush Limbaugh case? Did he get off too easily? Send us your thoughts. Email us, We're going to read those comments throughout the morning.

HARRIS: Well, did you get the letter? No? Well, the Justice Department sent out more than 9,000 national security letters, often seeking information on American citizens. Sound controversial? But is it?

Terry Frieden is a CNN justice producer, and he joins us on the phone now from Washington. And Terry, what are we to make of this?


You'll remember that in that huge battle to renew the anti- terrorism law of the Patriot Act, there was a big controversy over what are called national security letters. These are essentially administrative subpoenas in which the FBI can request information on U.S. citizens without the approval of a court. They deal solely with terrorism and other national security investigations. They are approved by an FBI executive, which is within the executive branch and so there's no judicial oversight. And that's what upsets the ACLU and so many civil libertarians.

What we did not know before was exactly how many of these national security letters were issued. And for the first time, Tony, last night, the Justice Department said, in a letter to leaders on Capitol Hill, that they issued more than 9,000 of these letters involving about 3,500 U.S. citizens during all of last year. So you can see, on average, they issued about three of these letters for each person that they were investigating, people that they were interested in.

It is important to note that despite the misgivings by some, the Congress in this Patriot Act renewal that was just passed this year did reauthorize the continued use of these letters with little change. But it did require the government to reveal publicly just how much these letters are used, and now we know.

HARRIS: OK. Terry Frieden is our justice producer. Terry, we appreciate it. Thank you.

And stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable information on your safety and your security.

NGUYEN: I want you to check out these pictures for us right now. They're really hard to watch. Girls going after each other, fighting in the streets. There are the pictures. That's disturbing enough, but what's really scary is who is part of the crowd just watching it all play out?

CNN's Ted Rowlands has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This cell phone video of two girls fighting is hard to see, but it's the audio that's most disturbing. The father of one of the girls is not only watching the fight, but he can be heard coaching his daughter. The video was taken at a boys and girls club in Palm Springs, California.

This is another girl versus girl fight recorded in Fresno, California, again a parent in this case, a mother is watching. The video of this fight goes on for almost seven minutes. The mother of the other girl, who is clearly losing the fight, says she was horrified to find out that a parent was there and didn't step in.

DIANE THROWER, MOTHER: I could not believe that the mother was actually there helping her daughter fight my daughter.

ROWLANDS: Roseland Wiseman who wrote the book "Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads," says you would be surprised at how many parents actually encourage their children to fight.

ROSELAND WISEMAN, AUTHOR: I know it sounds crazy, but they really feel that they're teaching their children to stand up for themselves, that they're protecting their child from something that has happened to them that's not fair, that they think there's -- you know, that people are out basically to get them.

ROWLANDS: Terry Paulson is a Los Angeles-area psychologist and author of "Can I Have the Keys to the Car?"

TERRY PAULSON, PSYCHOLOGIST/AUTHOR: We have become more concerned about being their friend than we are being a parent, where you provide the structure.

ROWLANDS: Females fighting, which years ago was usually only seen in B Hollywood movies or as comic relief, is now, some say, becoming part of mainstream culture. Some experts think this is making girls more open to fighting in the schoolyard.

In Chicago, where a 2003 high school hazing incident involving girls received national attention, more than 500 girls have been disciplined for fighting this school year alone, up 30 percent from last year.

JAMES GARBARINO, AUTHOR: In the past, you might have said to your girl, girls don't hit, and be able to back that up with what you saw in the larger culture. Today that's simply not true. It's not true. Girls do hit, and they can see evidence of that, so that they are being given permission.

ROWLANDS: But not everyone agrees that female fighting has actually increased.

MIKE MALES, UNIV. OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ: There's very little statistical evidence that we've seen more violence among girls. In fact they seem to be safer and less violent today than in the past.

ROWLANDS: Whether it is on the rise or not, many experts do agree that the appetite to watch girls fighting is very real. DVDS like the "World's Wildest Chick Fights" are available at video stores. Clips of girls fighting are also available on the Internet.

The Fresno video of the two girls fighting was posted on the popular teen web site The mother on that video is now the subject of a criminal investigation. Police say she may be charged with felony child endangerment.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.


NGUYEN: That's just wild to see. Yes.

HARRIS: Still ahead, the chairman of a Democratic National Committee, Governor, Doctor Howard Dean, joins us after the break to talk about national neighbor-to-neighbor organizing day.


NGUYEN: This just in to CNN. Keith Richards is out on the street, literally. According to the Associated Press, the Rolling Stoner fell out of a palm tree while on vacation at a resort in Fiji. Now, Australian and New Zealand media reports also say -- confirmed that he fell out of his palm tree while vacationing in Fiji. The band says the 62-year-old guitarist suffered a mild concussion. He was sent to a hospital -- he was flown to a hospital in New Zealand just as a precaution. Of course, we're going to stay on top of this. But it seems it was just a concussion at this point.


HARRIS: Dr. Dean's his mind totally clear since he's on high alert this morning as he joins us. In this age of cell phones, blogs, instant messaging and the rest, the Democratic party is rolling back the clock to get their message out. It's a grassroots effort. Volunteers are going door to door today talking to voters about the issues coming up in this fall's mid-term elections.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is leading the charge, and he joins us from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dr. Dean, welcome.

HOWARD DEAN, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thanks for me having out. I'm glad Keith Richards didn't get hurt too badly.

HARRIS: Well, maybe. We need to update that story, I'm sure. But thanks for your time this morning.

I have to ask you, this feels a little bit like a throwback campaign, going door to door like this, particularly from a man whose presidential campaign really embraced the new technology. Talk us to about this.

DEAN: Well, we think that -- we want to be everywhere and we're in all 50 states now. We're starting to win elections in places like Mississippi and Alabama and Utah, conservative states. We think that if the American people know what we stand for, and given what the Republicans have done to the country, that they'll ask us to control the House and the Senate again in 2006.

So we have this door hanger, which has the six points of the Democratic agenda on it. It will be on a million doors by the end of today. I will talk -- we hope to talk to a million people. We're going to knock on a million doors in every single state. And I'm here in Charlotte, North Carolina, to do some of that myself.

HARRIS: Well, let me ask you, when folks open the door today -- and you're starting in North Carolina; that's a red state, if I remember correctly -- when folks open the door, what are you going say?

DEAN: I'm going say we're here to talk to you a little bit about the Democratic party and what we believe. And what we believe is pretty clear. Honesty and openness in government. American jobs that will stay in America. Strong national defense based on telling the truth to our citizens and our soldiers. A health care system that works for everybody, just like 36 other countries have.

I mean, these are agenda items that really make a difference to the American people. Gas prices. I mean, the president's been in office for five years, and we've seen this coming. The Iraq situation obviously makes that worse. But what really I think makes Americans bad is that Republicans gave away $16 billion of our taxpayer money to the gas companies. This is ridiculous. And we've got to get an administration that has more sympathy with ordinary America, ordinary working Americans.

HARRIS: Well, let me follow up on that. We're at a place now where gas prices are at a point where folks who are on a fixed income are really, really beginning to feel the pinch of this. Let's assume that Democrats win either the House or the Senate or perhaps both. What then becomes the Democratic plan?

DEAN: Well, I think that you'll see -- first thing you'll see is rolling back all of the tax breaks that the Republicans have given to the oil companies. There's no reason to give federal money, our taxpayers' money, to the tune of $16 billion to oil companies. I'd like to use that $16 billion to make it easier on ordinary Americans to drive their cars. And I think we can do that.

Secondly, you're going to see a real push for renewable energy and energy independence. The president's been talking about it, but hasn't done anything about it. He's been there for five years. Thirdly, I think you're going to see an energy policy that works for ordinary American citizens and not guided so much to the oil companies as the president and the vice president have done.

HARRIS: We see that your handouts are both in English and Spanish. And as you know, on Monday there is a massive demonstration or demonstrations planned for the entire country on immigration reform. From a Democratic point of view, what is the best immigration bill for this country?

DEAN: Well, there's a couple of things. First of all, unlike what the Republicans have done, we believe we need to strengthen the border control. Other folks that have been there for five years -- we think we need additional help with the border. We got to -- it's chaos there. We've got to resolve and secure our borders.

But after that, we think it's really ridiculous to do what the Republicans are trying to do. The Republican bill makes criminals out of doctors, priests, lawyers, anybody who helps people who are illegal. That's not right. These are folks -- people, too.

Secondly, I don't believe the guest worker -- the president's guest worker program is a good idea. Thirdly, we believe the people who are already here should be able to get to the end of the line and get -- and earn their citizenship. Except for the people who, of course, have been in trouble with the law. They need to be deported.

But the president's idea that we're going to deport 12 million people, that's not going to work. You know, so let's just be practical. But the first emphasis on securing...

HARRIS: Well, you know, the president doesn't want to -- the president doesn't want to deport.

DEAN: The president endorsed Tom Tancredo and Sensenbrenner's bill in the House, which deports 12 million people and makes criminals out of clergy people and doctors. And that's wrong.

HARRIS: But you know that just last week he said it's impractical, so...

DEAN: Well, the president needs to stand up and say what he means, then, and stop all this stuff the winking and nodding at the extremists. He needs to stand up to the extremists in his own party. We need to secure the borders. That's the first thing that should be done and it should have been done five years ago. We'll do that and then we'll move on to treat people who are already here working hard reasonably.

HARRIS: Let me ask you about what we're reporting and following on this morning. The Justice Department sending out these letters, these national security letters, 9,000 of them, requesting information without the authority of the courts. What are your thoughts on that? Should we be concerned?

DEAN: I believe, in general, we ought to have a system that's served us well for 200 years, which is that if the government wants to intrude on people's lives, they ought to tell the judge about it first. We certainly want to spy on al Qaeda and do all the things we have to do to make ourselves safe. But giving the government more power over the lives of ordinary American citizens is not the way to do it.

HARRIS: How many folks do you plan to shake hands with today?

DEAN: Personally?

HARRIS: You and everyone else you've enlisted to help.

DEAN: Oh I -- we hope to -- we're going to knock to doors of a million homes. And we're going to do this again. This is not the last time we're going to do this. We need to make personal contact with people. You know, the Republicans have said a lot of things about this party which aren't true, and I think it's time we talked -- spoke for ourselves and not let the Republicans do it for us.

HARRIS: Governor Dean, thanks for your time.

DEAN: Thank you...

HARRIS: We appreciate it.

DEAN: Thanks for having me on.

HARRIS: Our pleasure.

NGUYEN: We have some pictures to show you right now. Look at this. This just in to CNN, live pictures from affiliate WFAA out of Dallas. But this is, in fact, in Gainesville, Texas. Look at these planes just strewn across the airport. High winds caused obviously some major damage, not only to those planes, but to the areas surrounding the north Texas area. And we understand that many people not only saw hail, heavy winds, lots of rain. But power was lost to several thousand homes in the area. And one of the interstates was shut down because of downed power lines. So Texas really feeling the brunt of those spring storms that rolled through last night.

And, of course, more could be expected today. We're going to talk a little bit later with our meteorologist to find out exactly what is happening on the weather front. But again, live pictures from WFAA. Some major damage to airplanes there in Gainesville, Texas, as a result of spring storms and high winds that rolled through.

We'll stay on top of all this and the other news. Right now you're watching CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Stay with us.


NGUYEN: We got some breaking news to tell you about out of Texas. You're looking at some live pictures from affiliate WFAA. Just look at these planes really just tossed about.

HARRIS: Well, they look like toys.

NGUYEN: Don't they? At the Gainesville Airport, high winds hit that area overnight. North Texas really got pelted with hail, high winds and heavy rain. This is one of the airport hangars. Look at the damage inside this hangar. Part of the hangar is missing, as well. Let alone the fact that these planes are just all over the runway. And they are at the airport, and it's not because that they were placed there by any pilots. Spring storms that rolled through. A lot of north Texas really bore the brunt of these storms overnight. Hail, some the size of baseballs, fell from the sky. Rain, high winds, hit north Texas. And even down in Marble Falls, Texas, which is to the south, they got hit with marble-size hail.

HARRIS: Was that dramatic enough for you right there?

NGUYEN: Look at that. I can't even tell you exactly what this -- was this was an airport hangar? Is this a shed? Is this a house? We don't know at this point. These live pictures just coming in to CNN. But look at the damage that these winds were causing. I don't know if a tornado may have blown through the area or...

HARRIS: I believe it's what Reynolds said earlier, that there may have been a tornado, maybe a few tornadoes that came through the area. That looks like a residential area.

NGUYEN: It sure does. It looks like a house or some kind of a shed or something in the back of a house. You know, but a lot of people will argue, too, that straight-line winds can do damage similar to what a tornado can do. But the damage is just really widespread in this particular area here.

HARRIS: So we thank our affiliate WFAA for these lives pictures of -- well, just a mess in this area. And I can tell you that those were some cargo planes damaged, some corporate jets, as well, damaged. You probably got a little bit of a mix of those aircrafts right there.

NGUYEN: That is just a wild shot there. I mean, you don't see this every day. And look at those planes. They're just on top of each other, let alone the damage that's seen around the area with the homes that were hurt, and some of the airport hangars that were there. Of course, we're going to stay on top of these spring storms that have rolled through Texas and could be headed elsewhere today.


NGUYEN: And just, you know, one last look at the damage there in Gainesville, Texas, because of strong winds and hail hitting the area and heavy rain. Not only did it damage this airport, Tony, but it also shut down parts of Interstate 35 near the Oklahoma border, which is a major interstate between Texas and Oklahoma. Shut down parts of that interstate because of downed power lines. So the storms did a lot of damage.

HARRIS: Well, and we haven't heard any reports of any injuries connected to this storm, and particularly connected to these pictures that you're seeing here. We will check in to that to make sure that everyone received warning and was able to get out of the area before this line of storms moved through.

NGUYEN: Which is a good thing, yes.

HARRIS: But at least now, the good news is no news of injuries. But we'll keep an eye on that. Once again, our thanks to our affiliate WFAA and that's in Dallas. NGUYEN: Gainesville, Texas. Well, WFAA, yes...

HARRIS: Is in Dallas.

NGUYEN: Covers the Dallas area. This obviously outside of Dallas, not too far away in Gainesville, Texas.

HARRIS: You know your Texas. Appreciate it.

NGUYEN: Yes. Seeing a lot of damage there. And, of course, we'll keep you updated on that. We'll definitely keep you posted as to any severe weather that will be rolling through parts of the nation, not just Texas, but the rest of the nation today.

HARRIS: "OPEN HOUSE" with Gerri Willis, up next.