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CNN Saturday Morning News

Ralph "Buck" Phillips Is In Custody This Morning; Launch Of Atlantis Scheduled; Before Fifth Anniversary Of 9/11, Hunt Goes on for Osama bin Laden; ABC 9/11 Film Ignites A Controversy

Aired September 09, 2006 - 07:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning.
Now in the news, it is launch or wait for Atlantis. If the shuttle mission doesn't start today, the next opportunity, well, that won't be until October. Yesterday's launch was scrubbed due to a faulty fuel sensor.

We're going to have a live report from Kennedy Space Center in just a couple of minutes.

Suspected cop killer Ralph "Buck" Phillips is in custody this morning. He surrendered last night after a massive manhunt and being cornered in a field in northwest Pennsylvania. Phillips is wanted in the shooting death of a New York state trooper and the wounding of two others.

We have a live report. That is just ahead.

And any minute now, word could come from Sudan that an American journalist has been freed. "Chicago Tribune" reporter Paul Salopek has been detained by Sudanese authorities since August 6th, charged with spying.

Now, New Mexico-Governor Bill Richardson met with Sudan's president and has actually won his release.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: A U.S. Air Force major who was missing since Tuesday in Kyrgyzstan has been found. Military officials say that Major Jill Metzger is in stable condition now. She's been transported out of Kyrgyzstan, we understand. Metzger disappeared somewhat mysteriously after going shopping with other military personnel in the city of Bishkek.

Well, a name from the past is now in the present. Remember Mullah Omar?

Well, U.S. intelligence sources now say the Taliban leader is living in Pakistan. "A.C. 360'S" Anderson Cooper has been reporting from the region this week. In fact, there's a special edition of "A.C. 360" Monday at 10:00 p.m. live from Afghanistan.

Well, Bonnie Schneider is in the -- she's in for Reynolds, I should say, with a quick check of your weather -- tell us what you've got going on so far this morning, Bonnie. BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Rick, so far, the weather is looking really good for the shuttle launch. We have winds out of the north at seven and mostly clear conditions. But we'll keep you up to date on that.

Plus, I'm going to take a closer look at Tropical Storm Florence, gaining strength in the Atlantic.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Bonnie.

We're going to run-down the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage all morning long.

Your next check of the headlines is coming up at 7:15 Eastern.


SUPT. WAYNE BENNETT, NEW YORK STATE POLICE: As I told you before, he could run-but he couldn't hide and he is in custody.


NGUYEN: Yes, he is. You hear the sounds there. Surrounded by police, escaped fugitive Ralph "Buck" Phillips finally gives up.

From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

Good morning, everybody.

September 9th.

I'm Betty Nguyen.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Rick Sanchez.

Thanks so much for being with us.

NGUYEN: Hi, there, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Well, you know, we're only a couple of hours away...

NGUYEN: We are.

SANCHEZ: ... from what's going to be a heck of an event. And it's the scheduled launch of Atlantis. The shuttle mission has had delays and it would face a long wait if it doesn't launch today, as a matter of fact, because there are certain windows that they have to hit, and if they don't get them, then they have to wait, because somebody else has to get in line, as they say.

CNN's Daniel Sieberg is at the Kennedy Space Center.

He's joining us now.

And he's got astronaut hours this morning, because I've got a feeling you've been up for quite a while -- Daniel. DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: It feels like we've been up for a couple of weeks, actually, Rick. That's how long we've been out here covering this.

To drop on a sports analogy, NASA is, in a sense, out of time outs in terms of this launch window, which would pick up again likely at the end of October.

Part of the reason we've been here for a couple of weeks, there's been a series of setbacks, from a lightning strike on the launch pad to a tropical storm, Ernesto. A couple of technical issues with the fuel cell and an engine cutoff sensor. Both of those working fine this morning, incidentally. They're not running any technical concerns.

We can run-through some of the things that have happened in the last couple of hours, starting with the traditional crew breakfast. It's not really much of a breakfast. They generally just sit there and maybe sip some water. It's more of a photo opportunity.

The six astronauts there, five men and one woman, they have actually also made their way to the suit up area, where they are helped into their space suits, their ascent suits for lift-off. They go through some of the final checks with those, just to make sure that they're all functioning OK.

A short time from now, we'll actually see them walk out in those suits and get in the AstroVan. Also, the final inspection team is going through its checks on the launch pad, 39B. They use some infrared cameras, some special scanners to check for any sort of ice buildup on that massive external fuel tank.

t has been filled with the super cooled liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The concern being that any of that ice could fall off and hit the orbiter during lift-off. So they've been going through and making sure that there's nothing serious. And, at this point, they're not reporting any problems with that.

So basically everything is on track here. The only concern at this point that's lingering that we know of is the possibility of weather here at 11:15 a.m. in the morning. But right now, NASA saying only a 20 percent chance that any sort of weather would prohibit launch -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: And that fuel gauge that you mentioned -- I was watching many of your reports yesterday and I was interested in how you were explaining that they do these tests. Apparently that was the big sticking point yesterday, right?

Have they got that situation pretty much figured out?

And go ahead and tell our viewers what we're talking about, by the way.


SANCHEZ: I know it gets a little specific sometimes, but I think we'll get it.

SIEBERG: Sure. We're talking about an engine cutoff sensor. There are four of them located at the base of this massive external fuel tank, where the liquid hydrogen is; also four of them up with the liquid oxygen. And one of them was malfunctioning. It was giving them a reading, basically saying that the tank was dry when it should have been saying that it was wet or full.

So that was the concern yesterday. They looked into it, were deciding whether to go with those three, ended up standing down until today. And this morning, when they -- they had detanked, emptied the tank, filled it up again this morning, they didn't have the same problem.

So they're going to go ahead with the launch today as planned with -- as far as that problem goes.

SANCHEZ: All right, we're all going to have our fingers crossed and we'll be looking forward to talking to you over the next couple of hours and to that moment, of course, when the shuttle actually goes up.

Thanks so much, Daniel -- Betty, over to you.

SIEBERG: You bet.

NGUYEN: Yes, the countdown is definitely on.

But right now, to western New York and the capture last night of a dangerous fugitive on the FBI's most wanted list.

Police had been hot on the trail of Ralph "Buck" Phillips all day yesterday.

And CNN's Allan Chernoff is live in Buffalo with the details -- Allan, how did it go down?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Betty.

Well, it all happened in a corn field just over the state line in Pennsylvania. This after two car chases early yesterday morning. Police then tracked Buck Phillips to the corn field. They surrounded him. And at the end of the day, they finally had him. He came out, hands up, without any fight, without any gunshots.

But this all happened after more than five months of chasing Mr. Phillips.

And later this morning, he'll be arraigned here at U.S. district court on charges of fleeing across the state line.


CHERNOFF (voice-over): Ralph "Buck" Phillips had locals laughing when he broke out of New York's Erie County Correctional Facility in April. He did it with a large can opener, cutting through the roof above the kitchen. And the county jail said he did it just days before the scheduled end of a three month parole violation sentence.

DAWN COCHRAN, BLASDELL, NEW YORK: Most people are taking it as a joke and they think that he should go, like just keep running. I think they're laughing at the, like the authorities, saying -- because he's getting away.

CHERNOFF: As Phillips evaded capture, his legend grew. One local restaurant prepared "Bucky burgers" to go. And there are "Bucky" T-shirts.

Police admitted they were chasing someone who probably knew the area's back woods better than they.

MAJ. MICHAEL MANNING, NEW YORK STATE POLICE: He grew up in the woods. His father taught him to hunt and fish. He taught him how to hot wire cars at the age of eight. And he's lived in the woods almost all of his life.

CHERNOFF: When a New York state trooper was shot and wounded in June, it was no longer a laughing matter. Police said Phillips was their prime suspect.

Then, in late August, Phillips allegedly shot two more officers, one of whom died three days later.

Dan Suitor, who didn't want his face to appear on camera, says his old friend Buck was delighted with his new life.

DAN SUITOR, FRIEND OF PHILLIPS: He told me emphatically there was no way he was ever going to go back to prison.

CHERNOFF (on camera): When did he tell you that?

SUITOR: Well, person to person when he was working with me.

CHERNOFF: Phillips was released from prison in late 2005, after serving 13 years for burglary and attempted drug sales. He was living at this Buffalo halfway house, working as a machinery repairman and visiting his daughter Patrina and his grandchildren in his free time.

SUITOR: He was the happiest guy in the world at the fact that he was able to rekindle the relationship with his daughter.

CHERNOFF: But after a counselor at the halfway house denied Phillips a pass to visit his daughter in January because she feared he might attack a family member, an argument ensued that landed him back in jail.

The director of the halfway house program refused to talk about the incident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no comment.

CHERNOFF: The New York State Division of Parole told CNN Mr. Phillips violated the conditions of his parole. His attorney says Phillips was convinced the authorities would force him to serve out the maximum of his original sentence, until 2012.

JOHN KEAVEY, ATTORNEY FOR RALPH "BUCKY" PHILLIPS: His daughter and his grandchildren were basically what he lived for. All of a sudden he's back in jail being told you're here because you threatened to kill your family. And that just drove him crazy.

CHERNOFF: From prison, Phillips wrote to Keavey: "I am just not cut out for the life you folks live. I hope you and your kids will always be able to share the things that which make your lives most happy. At least one of us has it." And then he drew a smiley face.

KEAVEY: It's just such an incredible amount of tragedy.

CHERNOFF: Especially tragic, Keavey and Suitor say, because Phillips appeared to have been turning away from his life of crime.


CHERNOFF: This morning, Phillips is back in the Erie County Correctional Facility, the same jail from which he escaped more than five months ago -- Betty, Rick.

NGUYEN: All right, thank you.

Appreciate that -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: As America prepares to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the hunt goes on for Osama bin Laden. U.S. military officials believe that bin Laden may be in the mountainous region along the Pakistani-Afghan border.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. Here now, his exclusive report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Afghanistan is about a half a kilometer, just a little less than half a mile in that direction.

We are at Lwara Fort, a Pakistani military fort along the border with Afghanistan. We're right inside North Waziristan, where the Pakistani government has just struck a deal with tribal leaders here which will pull some of the Pakistani military back inside their bases and give the tribes the authority and power to run-the border areas, essentially allowing the tribes to conduct business freely across the borders, but forbidding them to support the Taliban, who have been basing themselves inside Pakistan, striking across the border inside Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government very keen to show that that deal can work. They have taken us on a tour of the borders. They have shown us some of their 97 border posts along the borders. It's a helicopter tour. We're running out of time at this border post, but we're headed to the helicopter right now.

From up here, you can see just how mountainous it is, just how much the border weaves around, just how much vegetation there is for people to hide in.

Very nice to meet you. Very nice to meet you.

Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a privilege to interact with you.

ROBERTSON: Well, it's very kind of you to take us to show us the border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you're most welcome.

ROBERTSON: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're most welcome.

ROBERTSON: We've been flying along the border. We're seeing some of the border posts along the border.

What we have come to now is a checkpoint, a border post that's right up on the border, right here at about 8,000 feet up here. I'm going to climb up the steps to the border post here. Todd, if you want to get ahead of me as we go up the steps.

This is one of 97 posts -- interlinking posts that the Pakistani military have along the border. Fifty posts behind that. Twenty- eight thousand troops inside this area of North -- in North Waziristan. It's an area that the military here now feel that they dominate. And it's an area that they're very keen to show us how they dominate it.

So everything we're seeing over there, that's all Afghanistan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's all Afghanistan.

ROBERTSON: We're looking at it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The high mountains are Afghanistan.

ROBERTSON: So from...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take -- this high ground, when it reaches its peak here in the middle distance, this is the border.

ROBERTSON: So you look down, and from these posts, you can look across on the road.


ROBERTSON: You've got checkpoints on the road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. ROBERTSON: You've got posts up high in the hills looking down, providing security for those check posts...


ROBERTSON: ... looking out and interlinking with the patrols.

These mobile patrols here, they're ready to go out at a moment's notice?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. These are part of the QRF, we call them, quick reaction force.

ROBERTSON: Do you think if Osama bin Laden were here today, the people in -- around here would tell you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would hope so, certainly.

ROBERTSON: Do you think they would?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the support we are trying to gain, as I said, we have to isolate the supporters. We have to hit the hard core. Having done that, obviously, more than 90 percent of the people will be able to support you.

ROBERTSON: Pakistani military now say the Taliban cannot get across the border in vehicles. They say possibly, possibly, one or two may be able to get across on foot. But they feel that they have this border now very well secured, stopping large numbers of Taliban leaving Pakistan, going across the border into Afghanistan and striking at U.S. troops there.

Nic Robertson, CNN, on the Pakistan-Afghan border, North Waziristan.


SANCHEZ: And later on CNN, we're going to look at whether America is safer now, five years after 9/11.

We're going to discuss the renewed Taliban insurgence in Afghanistan that we saw develop late this week and then what the Bush administration is saying about the war on terror.

John Roberts hosts THIS WEEK AT WAR tonight at a special time, 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

Later, in an in-depth look at Osama bin Laden, "CNN PRESENTS" a special encore presentation of "IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BIN LADEN." It's a special investigation already seen by more than 10 million Americans. That's tonight and Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

NGUYEN: Well, coming up, still a tropical storm, but The Florence is gaining strength and it's on a course to slam right into Bermuda.

Bonnie Schneider will give us the latest on Florence and you're weather in about five minutes.

SANCHEZ: Also, there's some mounting pressure on ABC to make some last minute changes in this movie that we're showing you. It's the network's miniseries, really. It's "The Path to 9/11." But members of the Clinton administration are saying un-nnh. There's a lot in this movie that's just dead wrong.

We're going to have the latest on the controversy in about 20 minutes.



SANCHEZ: ... a new weapon in the fight against prairie dogs. Farmers are...

NGUYEN: No, not the prairie dogs.

SANCHEZ: That's what it is.

NGUYEN: Are they blowing them up? Oh my goodness.

SANCHEZ: This is one state. Apparently they are allowed to "blow them up."

NGUYEN: Oh, poor things.

SANCHEZ: It's ignited some, pardon the pun, exclusive criticism.

NGUYEN: Yes, I'd say.

SANCHEZ: The full story in about 30 minutes.


NGUYEN: CNN marks five years since the 9/11 attacks.

And coming up in prime time on Monday, at 8:00, Paula Zahn is live from ground zero with a special report on crucial questions that still linger five years later.

Than at nine, Wolf Blitzer leads our coverage of the president's prime time address, followed by "LARRY KING LIVE" from ground zero.

At 10:00, Anderson Cooper is live on the ground in Afghanistan with a firsthand look at what's really happening there in the war on terror since 9/11.

That's CNN prime time Monday. Don't miss it.

We're back in 90 seconds.


SANCHEZ: Now in the news, it's launch or wait for Atlantis. If the shuttle mission doesn't start today, the next opportunity is October. Yesterday's launch was scrubbed due to a faulty fuel sensor. Even if this problem persists, NASA managers say there are three other sensors that would likely do the job.

And this story. Fugitive Ralph "Buck" Phillips has been captured. He surrendered last night in a corn field in northwestern Pennsylvania after a massive manhunt. Phillips is suspected of shooting three New York State troopers, one of them fatally. He's due in federal court about 10:00 a.m. Eastern. We'll have it for you.

Also, a promise of freedom for an American journalist imprisoned in Sudan. The release of "Chicago Tribune" reporter Paul Salopek could come, we understand, at any time. New Mexico-Governor Bill Richardson, interestingly enough, met with Sudan's president and helped win this release.

Salopek was arrested a month ago in Sudan's war torn Darfur region and charged with spying.

NGUYEN: Iraq's prime minister will visit neighborhood Iran for two days beginning Monday. An Iraqi government spokesman says Nouri Al-Maliki seeks to improve relations with Iraq's former enemy. Iraq and Iran were locked in a long and bitter war during most of the 1980s.

Crushing the re-surgency, as they're calling it. That's what NATO and Afghan forces are trying to do in Southern Afghanistan. They're targeting the Taliban and militants there have been taking a bolder stand. But, the Alliance tells A.P. at least 320 militants have been killed this week.

An upcoming miniseries about the lead-up to 9/11 is drawing sharp criticism from former Clinton administration officials and the former president himself. On CNN's "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER," former national security adviser Samuel Berger called on ABC to pull what's being called "The Path to 9/11."


SAMUEL BERGER, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Their program has been called into question by historians, but members of the 9/11 Commission. They can't fix this along the edges by tinkering at the last minute in some desperate effort to edit it. This thing is just rotten to the core.


NGUYEN: Our Brian Todd does have a full report on this controversial film.

That is coming up in 15 minutes.

Well, we do run-down the top stories every 15 minutes right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING with in-depth coverage all morning long.

Your next check of the headlines coming up at 7:30 Eastern. SANCHEZ: And now it's time to check and see what's going on weather wise out there. And we were talking a little while about the shuttle launch.

NGUYEN: Yes, it's an important day. They need to get this thing up in the air today -- Bonnie.

We had some, what, malfunction problems yesterday and we'll be talking about that.

But I guess you've got another problem on your hands.

SCHNEIDER: That's right, a tropical storm that's about to become a hurricane, probably even before the day is over.

This is Tropical Storm Florence and it's about to bear down and Bermuda. There's a hurricane watch in effect for that island right now.

Here's the storm. And you can see it's getting better organized. The maximum winds are at 65 miles per hour.

It's also a very large tropical storm with the tropical storm force winds extending outward from the center 345 miles. So a large storm that's working its way toward the island of Bermuda as early as tonight into tomorrow.

Here's the track. And by the time we get to Tuesday, look at this, it could become a category two hurricane, something to keep in mind and to watch very, very closely.

You mentioned the shuttle forecast. Let's take a look at the weather right now for Cape Canaveral.

Here we are with winds out of the north at eight, partly cloudy skies. So, so far, looking pretty good for the shuttle launch.

We're going to be watching very closely that no cloud coverage kind of inhibits the launch today at 11:15.

Here's an exact look at the computer models of what we can expect for the launch time. And you can see this clock kind of going as we work our way through the morning hours. And it notes a couple of clouds in the vicinity, possibly a spotty shower, but overall the weather looks great.

So there's an 80 percent likelihood for a launch with a temperature of 80 degrees today at the Kennedy Space Center -- back to you.

SANCHEZ: And that's because there's no cloud cover, right?


SANCHEZ: I mean that's basically what they look for. You know, in Florida, you're going to have a thunderstorm in the middle of the afternoon, but wait 15 minutes and it'll go away.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, I think the timing is key. Earlier in the morning is making for a lot better forecast.

SANCHEZ: That's great, Bonnie.

NGUYEN: Eighty degrees with an 80 percent chance. Like those numbers, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: They look good.

NGUYEN: Looking good.

Thank you.

Well, we talked about this just a few minutes ago. I don't know what I think about this story. Pesky prairie dogs, right?

Well, farmers in Colorado have a new way to get -- oh, look at that -- a new way to get rid of them.

Can you believe it?

It's sparked an exclusive controversy, pun-intended. We'll tell you exactly how this works in our report about 25 minutes from now.

SANCHEZ: Also, turning gridiron into gold. That's right, those are the Miami Dolphins. They started the NFL season this year against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The question is, when we go "Beyond The Game," how has the NFL turned itself into not just a sport, but a multi-multi-billion dollar industry?

We'll examine it.

NGUYEN: And take a look at these live pictures right now. The shuttle astronauts -- you'll see them shortly -- they are on their way to the launch pad. This is the elevator that leads up there.

As you know -- look at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Countdown to launch is three hours and 51 minutes. We'll stay a watch.



NGUYEN: Take a look at these live pictures now. Actually, this happened just moments ago. We were trying to bring it to you live. These are new pictures of the astronauts fully suited up on their way to the launch pad. As you know -- look at the countdown right there, three hours and 47 minutes away from that launch at 11:15 Eastern today. And we will bring it to you live.

SANCHEZ: If you suddenly had more problems and couldn't play, those are the receivers who are working out.

For what?

For a million dollar game. That's right. In fact, billions. You may think it's just a sport, but what pastime pulls in almost $6 billion a year?

We go "Beyond The Game" in the gridiron.

And we're joined by Rick Horrow, author of "When the Game Is On the Line" -- hey, Rick, thanks so much for joining us today.

RICK HORROW, CNN SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: Hey, you know how hard it is -- you remind me, too, in some ways, to sit there in that cauldron of Pittsburgh Steelers terrible towels on Thursday as a Dolphins guy and see them waving it around and have the Dolphins lose anyway?

Thanks for that highlight at the beginning.

SANCHEZ: Yes, yes. We'll talk about the Culpepper project in just a minute.


SANCHEZ: But first, let's talk about how the NFL has basically marketed itself into what is probably one of the most successful industries in the entire country.

HORROW: Maybe not even probably. You know, when Commissioner Tagliabue took over in 1989, the Minnesota Vikings sold for $50 million. He retired. Roger Godel stepped in last week and "Forbes" pegged the Washington Redskins value at $1.4 billion.


HORROW: Yes. That's a Band there are four other teams -- the Eagles, the New England Patriots, the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans, all valued at over a billion dollars, which is the first time that's ever happened. And it's the most expensive and valuable franchise beyond Manu even, over in Britain. The owners are happy. The players are happy -- $300,000 annual salary a few years ago. Now, over $1.3 million per player. International is happy. The Sea Hawks are playing the Patriots over in China in an American Bowl Game next year.

Finally, the fans are happy, 40 percent loyalty, twice as much as any other sport. And there's a new women's line out, by the way. You'd appreciate this -- key chains, hats, purses. Up to $300 apiece. I got my hat for Sunday night's game, a pink one.

You think I should wear this one? What do you think?

SANCHEZ: I think probably a dark azure would probably look better on you.

HORROW: Yes, right.

SANCHEZ: I remember, Rick, when owners, specifically in the old AFL, could literally go to the bank, take out a loan and buy a team. That can't happen anymore.

What has happened in the NFL? Just how successful has it become?

HORROW: They could buy a team for $5,000. It's become very successful and here's why. It's three Ts. First of all, tickets. Seventeen million people, 97 percent capacity, a marketing juggernaut.

Second is the big commitment for television. A 25 percent decrease in ratings, the last rites fee, contract, the NFL is going downhill.

Guess what?

NBC is in the deal. NFL Network is in the deal. And now it's a 50 percent increase in those rights fees, to up to $3 billion a year.

The final one, Rick, and the big one, T for teamwork. Eighty- five percent of the revenues are shared. Green Bay gets the same TV revenue as New York. That's why...

SANCHEZ: Oh, we lost the signal, unfortunately, with Rick Horrow, just as we were -- are you there?

Are you back, Rick?

All right, we lost him.

No problem.

We'll get back to Rick and we'll be able to see if we can get his foul and fair ball, although, of course, it doesn't work with football. Maybe out of bounds would be more appropriate.

NGUYEN: Well, I...

SANCHEZ: Let's go over to Betty -- Betty, what you got?

NGUYEN: I just think it's part of his ploy to give you a hard time. You know how he is, Rick Horrow.

Rick and Rick like to give each other a hard time.

We'll try to get him back if we can. I don't know if we will, but it was good while he was there.

Thank you, Rick.

In the meantime, Bill Clinton says he wants moviemakers to tell the truth. His former security adviser, Samuel Berger, is just fuming, mounting pressure on ABC and its mother company, Disney, to hold off on the miniseries, "The Path to 9/11."

We'll have all those details right after this break.


NGUYEN: Look at that.

What are they blowing up?

Well, here's a hint -- prairie dogs. Yes, they're considered a menace by many farmers in Colorado. But animal activities are just outraged. We have that full story, straight ahead.


NGUYEN: Take a look.

Now in the news, it is launch or wait for Atlantis. If the shuttle mission does not start today, the next opportunity won't be until October.

We're taking a live look now. I believe the buses that you see right there are carrying the astronauts, all suited up, over to the launch pad.

Now, as you know, yesterday's launched was scrubbed yesterday, as mentioned, because of a faulty fuel sensor. Previous delays were due to weather concerns. We'll stay awatch. Three hours and 40 minutes until countdown. And when it happens, we'll bring it to you live.

In the meantime, suspected cop killer Ralph "Buck" Phillips is due in federal court later this morning. He surrendered last night after police cornered him in a field in northwestern Pennsylvania. Phillips is wanted in the shooting death of a New York state trooper and the wounding of two others.

Freedom for American journalist Paul Salopek could come any minute now. Salopek has been held prisoner in Sudan since August 6th. The promise of his release comes after New Mexico-Governor Bill Richardson met briefly with Sudan's president. Salopek is a reporter for the "Chicago Tribune," but lives in New Mexico.

SANCHEZ: Officials say that doctors in Karachi have successful performed prostate cancer surgery on Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan.

Remember him?

The 70-year-old khan was amounted to transferring nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. He admitted to that previously.

Now, Pakistani officials say khan was admitted to the hospital Thursday night.

let's go over to Bonnie Schneider and find out what's going on with the weather. She'll bring us up to date on a couple of things that we're following today, including, of course, that shuttle launch -- Bonnie, what you got?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Rick, so far the weather is looking beautiful this morning. We have winds out of the north at eight miles per hour, a little bit of hazy activity as far as the skies go. But the weather is looking good.

I'll have the complete forecast for the shuttle launch.

Plus, we're going to check out Tropical Storm Florence. This storm is getting more organized and it may become a hurricane as early as today.

That's all coming up.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Bonnie.

We're going to run-down the top stories every 15 minutes right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage all morning long.

Your next check of the headlines is coming up at 7:45 Eastern.

And it's always good to welcome you guys back, so we do so with earnest.

I'm Rick Sanchez.

NGUYEN: Good morning, everybody.

I'm Betty Nguyen.

We want to take you for waking up with us.

First up, "The Path to 9/11" -- the ABC film hasn't even aired, but it has already ignited a controversy about events leading to the terrorist attacks.

CNN's Brian Todd has the story.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Officials at ABC are not tipping their hand on any revisions being made in their controversial miniseries, "The Path to 9/11."


HARVEY KEITEL, ACTOR: We're not safe yet.


TODD: But ABC is certainly not safe from fallout, as a former president and his top aides launch a multi-pronged attack. BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want people to tell the truth, you know, and not pretend it's something it's not.

TODD: One proposed scene that's gotten Bill Clinton and his former aides upset is, at the very least, being reviewed, according to 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean, a consultant on the film, and CNN contributor Howard Kurtz, who spoke to his own sources.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": I am told that ABC is going to change, for example, a very explosive scene involving the former national security advisor, Sandy Berger, supposedly putting a red light up when CIA people in Afghanistan were about to capture Osama bin Laden.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're ready to load the package.

Repeat, do we have clearance to load the package?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officers are in place, sir.

They're in danger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that, Patricia, but I don't have that authority.


TODD: An incident that never happened, according to Berger and the 9/11 Commission.

Berger, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Clinton's own office have written letters to Kean and Disney President Robert Iger, calling on them not to broadcast the film.

SANDY BERGER, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: My impression is, is this is a misleading film to the core. And it seems to me, the only appropriate thing is for ABC to withdraw the series.

TODD: ABC has given no indications that it's considering canceling the $40 million movie, but the network is also dealing with fallout among the film's cast.

Actor Harvey Keitel says the film should be fixed before it's released.

KEITEL: I had questions about certain events and material I was given in "The Path to 9/11" that I did raise questions about. Yes, I had some conflicts there. You can't put things together, compress them and then distort the reality.

TODD: Contacted by CNN, an ABC official had no immediate response to Keitel's comments. And the network is sticking to its previous statement that..."the film is a dramatization. The editing process is not yet complete and criticisms of film specifics are premature and irresponsible."

On the political front, ABC is accused of a heavy slant against Democrats. Tom Kean, a Republican and only the 9/11 Commission member consulted for the film, was sent a letter from Clinton's office, saying: "Your defense of the outright lies in this film is destroying the bipartisan aura of the 9/11 Commission."

Kean's response?

TOM KEAN, CHAIRMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION: A lot of people who are talking now haven't seen it. I haven't even seen the final cut. They're going to find something where they learn more about the hijackers, more about the plot.

TODD (on camera): Media observers say all this criticism and buzz over the movie will very likely generate huge ratings for ABC on Sunday and Monday night, if the network can work around a scheduled address by President Bush in prime time on Monday.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


SANCHEZ: That music usually means we're Going Global now, when we turn things over to our International Desk.

NGUYEN: Brenda Bernard joins us with stories that she's been working on -- good morning.


A few more details about that Air Force officer who was found in Kyrgyzstan. She'd been missing since Tuesday. The hunt for Jill Metzger ended about six hours ago. The 33-year-old woman disappeared after shopping in the capital, Bishkek. The military has not provided details into how or if she was kidnapped. All they're officially saying right now is that Metzger is in stable condition and they're working to get her back home as soon as possible.

Her parents couldn't be happier.


JOHN METZGER, PARENT: Every time we have traveled with Jill and we've -- she's received us over in Germany or we have received her here, it's a, "Mommy! Daddy!"


JOHN METZGER: And I just can't wait to hear that, "Mommy! Daddy!"

JEANNETTE METZGER: Yes. JOHN METZGER: And there will be no words after that.


BERNARD: Well, the military has launched an investigation into Metzger's disappearance.

An escape today for British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He leaves the political infighting at home and heads to Israel. Mr. Blair will meet with Prime Minister Olmert and tomorrow the British leader will talk with Palestinian officials in the West Bank.

And how would you like to be vacationing on this beach in Spain, Betty?

NGUYEN: Hmmm, it looks nice. Tempting.

BERNARD: Yes, well before you...

NGUYEN: Uh-oh, wait. Wait.


NGUYEN: What was that little boy doing? I don't even want to see that video again.

BERNARD: They're all naked.


BERNARD: Nudists from 32 countries...

NGUYEN: And some of them really need to put their clothes on. I mean seriously.

BERNARD: Oh, goodness.

Well, they're attending a conference at a Spanish resort to promote naturist tourism. Nude resorts and sites attract some 20 million tourists each year to Europe. France and Croatia are industry leaders. And I guess Spain is hoping to strip them of their lead.

NGUYEN: Oh, I get it. Strip them of their lead.

Just don't show that little boy. I don't know where his hand was going on that, but I don't want to see that again.

Brenda, thank you.

We're just going to leave it right there.

SANCHEZ: Well, it's like the Terminator, but for prairie dogs.


SANCHEZ: And it certainly has you a little shook up this morning, doesn't it?

NGUYEN: Oh, will you look at those cute -- oh, and then that's what happens.

We're going to show you the Rodenator, as they call it. And animal rights groups?

Well, as you can imagine, are calling it cruel. Farmers and ranchers say it is a needed tool to get rid of those critters.

We'll show you how the Rodenator works.

SANCHEZ: Bonnie Schneider is also coming back with your forecast.

First, though, Bonnie's "Allergy Report."

This is important to many people.


SCHNEIDER: I'm CNN meteorologist Bonnie Schneider with a look at your "Allergy Report" for Saturday.

If you're in Park City or Salt Lake City, Utah today, you'll find a high concentration of pollen in the air. It may be a little bit uncomfortable for you as far as air quality goes.

More comfortable, though, for much of the Southeast and a good portion of South Texas, as well. Rain coming down will help clear the skies out and make for a little bit more comfortable breathing conditions for you.

That's a look at your "Allergy Report" for Saturday.

I'm meteorologist Bonnie Schneider.


SANCHEZ: Now in the news, it is launch or wait for Atlantis, and it could be a long wait. If the shuttle mission doesn't start today, the next opportunity for it is not until October. Yesterday's launch was scrubbed due to a faulty fuel sensor. Even if this problem persists, NASA managers say, there are three other sensors that would adequately do the job.

The intense manhunt for fugitive Ralph "Buck" Phillips has ended. It did so last night in a Pennsylvania corn field. Phillips escaped from a jail in April. He's suspected of shooting three New York State troopers, one of them fatally.

Phillips is due in a federal court about 10:00 a.m. Eastern -- Betty, over to you.

NGUYEN: More peacekeepers arrive in Lebanon. A French ship carrying 200 troops and some 100 military vehicles docked in Beirut this morning. It is the first major French deployment to Lebanon since France promised to boost its forces. The troops will monitor the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah.

Well, we do run-down the top stories every 15 minutes right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage all morning long.

So, your next check of the headlines, that is coming up at the top of the hour.

SANCHEZ: Other news now Across America, police in Leesburg, Florida are investigating the death of a woman whose son has been missing for two weeks. Melinda Duckett was found dead in her grandparents' house Friday. Duckett's 2-year-old son was reported missing August 27th.

The infamous Rocky Balboa statue is back at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I'm not sure why we called it infamous, but Stallone was there for the honor. He donated the statue to the city after "Rocky 3." There had been some controversy over where the statue should be housed over the years. But the city's art commission settled on the base of the museum. I guess that makes it somewhat infamous.

It kicked off with a bang or a blast, should we say. This weekend is the start of the 2006-2007 college paint ball series in San Diego. And if this does not seem important to you, trust me, there are many people all over the country, especially young boys, who absolutely are enthralled by this sport.

This season includes the much anticipated conference play, the collegiate world cup and the new stand alone open class of tournaments. I know that because one of my sons happens to adore this thing.

NGUYEN: Boy, those balls don't -- they don't mess around. They leave a welt when they hit you, those paint balls. I tell you, that's a tough game. It looks like a lot of fun, and it is. But you can get hurt.

So, we are going to take you now out to the American heartland this morning, where there -- speaking of weapons -- is a new weapon in the age old war between rancher and prairie dog.

For anyone who has ever battled a squirrel in the attic, you might enjoy this story from Bazi Kanani of our CNN Denver affiliate, KUSA.


BAZI KANANI, KUSA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The device, called the Rodenator, pumps in an exclusive mix of propane and oxygen, then a spark ignites it.

LESTER MUNDY, CATTLE RANCHER: It's effective. It gets them, for sure. KANANI: Many ranchers and farmers have been waiting for the Rodenator to become legal in Colorado so they can use it to protect their land from fast breeding prairie dogs.

MUNDY: It's almost like a desert. There's nothing there besides prairie dog holes. And they keep the vegetation down to practically nothing.

TYLER BASKFIELD, COLORADO WILDLIFE DIVISION: This is not a recreational device. This is a device for agricultural growers here in Colorado.

KANANI: Tyler Baskfield, with the state division of wildlife, said commissioners feel it's a better option than poison.

BASKFIELD: It can target that specific portion of the property instead of toxins that tend to get spread throughout the environment.

DAVE CRAWFORD, ROCKY MOUNTAIN ANIMAL DEFENSE: This is a far cry from anything that can be considered humane.

KANANI: Dave Crawford, with Rocky Mountain Animal Defense, says the Rodenator is a threat to many animals.

CRAWFORD: We're not just talking about prairie dogs. We're talking about rabbits and salamanders and all kinds of insect life. These are rich ecosystems.

KANANI: And, says Crawford, it's just plain cruel.

CRAWFORD: I think if you listen to your heart when someone comes up and purposes a device like the Rodenator, you're not just -- you're just not going to let it fly.

KANANI: Conservation groups say they won't give up the battle to stop this. Farmers and ranchers say they battle just to make a living and the Rodenator is a much needed weapon.



Well, that was Bazi Kanani of Denver affiliate KUSA.

You weigh in on how you feel about the Rodenator.

SANCHEZ: And we here at CNN have set up a new way for you to be able to share your thoughts or pictures and your video. And we're going to invite you to do that through CNN's I-Exchange.

Veronica de la Cruz is joining us now with some of our submissions thus far.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we received an overwhelming amount of e-mails and pictures on Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter who... SANCHEZ: Oh, I imagined that would happen.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes -- as you know, died this week while shooting in Australia. Irwin was loved by people around the world for his fearless attitude and his contagious charisma.

So we asked readers to send in their thoughts and their pictures as a tribute.


DE LA CRUZ (voice-over): Eight-year-old Andrew Wright of Utah says that because of Irwin, he now cares for chickens, hamsters, snakes and other animals. He also traps spiders in his house and releases them in the yard.

Maria Brush of New Hampshire says that her son Clayton, seen here in his croc hunter attire, has a passion for crocodiles. She also says Steve brought laughter, enjoyment and taught a love and respect for all wildlife.

And Caroline Frosca (ph) shows off her award and pet corn snake. Caroline's mother credits Steve Irwin for her love of wildlife.


DE LA CRUZ: And you can see more pictures viewers like you sent in. You can also send us your own pictures and stories on Steve Irwin. Just go to, find that I-Report logo. You see it right there. Once you click, we'll give you step by step directions on how you can send in your own submissions. So go and log onto CNN for more on Steve Irwin or any major news topic. Look for that I-Report logo.

SANCHEZ: It sounds good.

Thanks so much, Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: Of course.

SANCHEZ: We appreciate it.

NGUYEN: Yes, thank you.

SANCHEZ: Well, before we head to a break, there are more live pictures that are coming in from the Kennedy Space Center, where the space shuttle crew, as you probably know by now...

NGUYEN: There they are!

SANCHEZ: ... they're just getting up. They're getting ready to board the shuttle and strapping into the cockpit.

It's always interesting to see them as they prepare to do what they need to do in these extremely tight confines of the shuttle themselves.

Look at it. He's actually trying to squeeze in there.

Now, remember, at this point, he is not weightless, folks. He's actually having to pick himself up. So...

NGUYEN: Which makes it a lot more difficult.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it's a little bit of an arduous task to be able to get in there and do what he has to do.

The shuttle, by the way, is set to launch at 11:15 this morning.

And we'll be back in a moment.


NGUYEN: There's the music. So the Water Cooler this morning is all about coffee, Starbucks coffee. But we really wouldn't know because there's nothing in these. In fact, we have to give these back after this segment, don't we, Rick?

SANCHEZ: There's the store behind us. There she's brewing up some java as we speak. But this one is about something interesting. It's about not so much the java itself, but the coupons that sometimes lead people to the stores.

Customers are steamed after the chain abruptly canceled a promotional coupon. One regular customer in New York was so upset, he actually filed suit yesterday.

NGUYEN: He did. He wants $114 million from Starbucks, which he says is the value of all those canceled coupons. Now, the coupon for a frozen drink was sent out last month. This is how it all happened. That coupon was sent out as an e-mail to Starbucks' employees to drum up afternoon business.

Well, they were told to forward it to their family and friends. Say you tell two people, they'll tell two people and so on and so on.

SANCHEZ: And they did.


SANCHEZ: And that's where the problem really began.

NGUYEN: Right.

SANCHEZ: Starbucks apparently didn't realize just how rapidly these things can multiply in cyberspace. So in canceling the coupon, Starbucks has a lot of bitter customers now, pardon the pun.


SANCHEZ: And a giant lawsuit to contend with, as well.

NGUYEN: So there you have it, straight from the Water Cooler.

SANCHEZ: That's it.

NGUYEN: In the meantime, though, we are just getting warmed up on this edition of CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

SANCHEZ: We're counting down to this morning's launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. It's about, oh, three hours away now, and we're going to take you live to the Kennedy Space Center. In fact, we're taking you live as we speak.

The astronauts, as you can see, are getting ready, the mission commanders, mission specialists getting their gear on and making sure they fit into those tiny, confined spaces.

NGUYEN: They are small spaces.

Speaking of another story, though, a cancer patient makes his pitch, literally.

We'll introduce you to Jeff Newbauer, a brave young man who is not letting a deadly form of the disease stop him from a lifelong journey.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It's all coming up in our next hour.

First, though, here's Gerri Willis with her real estate Tip of the Day.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The time is now to take steps to prevent a catastrophe in case your pet goes missing.

Take clear identification photos and note any unique markings or scars. Make sure your furry friend is always wearing tags with its name and proof of vaccinations. Include your name and contact information, as well.

You can also take your animal to the vet to get micro chipped. It's a tiny chip implanted right beneath the skin and contains information on the off chance your dog or cat loses his or her tags. Or get your pet tattooed with a unique I.D. and then register that number.

And remember...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To help control the pet population, have your pet spayed or neutered.

(on camera): I'm Gerri Willis and that's your Tip of the Day.

For more, watch "OPEN HOUSE" every Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.