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Interview With Sandra Lee; President Visits Ft. Hood, Texas

Aired April 11, 2004 - 16:00   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know what we're doing in Iraq is right. It's right for long-term peace, it's right for the security of our country.


FREDERICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush speaks out following a deadly week for U.S. troops in Iraq.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to build American democracy in Iraq would be a big mistake. They have to build Iraqi democracy in Iraq.


WHITFIELD: An Iraqi's perspective.

Plus dramatic new pictures of hostages held in Iraq.

Hello and welcome to CNN SUNDAY. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. All that and more after this check of the headlines.

In Nuevo Progresso, Mexico, rescue efforts are on again. An explosion rocked a restaurant and nearby factory in the border town yesteryesterday. At least eight people were killed and 12 injured. Officials estimate as many as 15 others may have been in the building, but they doubt any survived.

Freedom today for a British hostage held in Iraq. Britain's Foreign Ministry says contractor Gary Teeley has been released. He was reported missing on Thursday.

The U.S. death toll in Iraq has jumped after the recent upsurge in violence across that country. The U.S. military says 16 American troops have been killed since Friday. That includes two crew members of an Apache helicopter shot down this morning. The number of U.S. forces killed in Iraq now stands at 667.

Deleware Senator Joe Biden says French president Jacques Chirac and leaders of a number of other NATO countries are willing to send troops to Iraq, but there's a condition -- they want an equal voice in the future of that country.

We're following the developments involving hostages taken in Iraq. First, some signs of encouragement. Al Jazeera reports kidnappers in Iraq say they will release eight men seen in these new pictures, they are identified as two Turks, three Pakistani, a Nepalese, Filipino and an Indian.

Captors of British citizen, Gary Teeley released the contractor held since Thursday. That's according to the British Foreign Ministry. However, Japanese officials report no word on status or location of three Japanese nationals who were taken hostage last week. That's despite reports they would be released by today.

Concern also grows for American Thomas Hamill of Mississippi, who was taken captive on Friday after his convoy was attacked. One of Hamill's apparent abductors said in a video, if the U.S. did not leave Fallujah by Saturday night, Hamill would be treated worse than the four Americans killed in Fallujah. U.S. officials say they've had no contact with Hamill's abductors. We will bring you updates as they happen.

Elseware in Iraqi, sources confirmed taht at least 480 Iraqis have died in the fighting in Fallujah. We get more now from CNN's Karl Penhaul in Baghdad on the overall military operation.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For much of the morning, insurgents battled against U.S. troops for control of a major highway that leads west from Baghdad through the desert towards Jordan. In the course of that fighting, Iraq insurgents shot down a U.S. army Apache attack helicopter, And we're told by senior U.S. military sources that both pilots on board died in the crash.

A little further west of the crash site, the flash point city of Fallujah, the site of intense fighting between insurgent forces and U.S. marines in the course of the last six days. Members of the Iraqi governing council have however, broken a tentative ceasefire there, although U.S. marine spokesmen on the ground say that there have been sporadic clashes during the course of the day. Iraqi insurgents, they said, have been firing pot shots and also sniping against marine forces.

There's really no sign yet on the horizon of a lasting political solution to the situation in Fallujah, which has for many months now been a strong point for Iraqi insurgent forces battling against the coalition and U.S. marines have stressed that they will not be ceding an inch of territory to the insurgents, they will not pull out of that city and may be ready for an assault on insurgent forces should that be ordered by coalition authorities.

Amid the unrest there, west of Baghdad in Fallujah and also signs of growing unrest in a number of Shiite towns south of Baghdad, coalition spokesman Dan Cina also warned about the threat of al Qaeda- linked terrorist attacks in and around Baghdad.

DAN RENOR, COALITION SPOKESMAN: Ambassador Bremer over the last several days has issued a statement and is encouraging everyone here to be vigilant in this time during the Arbahine (ph) period about possible terrorist attacks that could occur in this country.

While there are many other issues that we're dealing with and attending to, be they in Fallujah or in the southern part of the country, we should not be distracted from the very real possibility that a terror attack can occur in this country.

PENHAUL: Despite the unrest of the last few days as se yor and other coalition spokesmen have been at pains to stress that the political process remains on track in Iraq they do say that the coalition authorities still plan to hand over power to an interim Iraqi government by June 30. Karl Penhaul, CNN, Baghdad.


WHITFIELD: The latest CNN/TIME magazine poll shows many Americans feel it was right to go to war in Iraq, but aren't so sure about post-war plans. Here are the latest findings, released today, nearly half of respondents say the military campaign has been somewhere between successful and unsuccessful. 51 percent of those polled say they don't believe the president has a clear plan for Iraq. 48 percent say the war has made the United States less safe from terrorism, while 40 percent say this country is safer.

President Bush warns of more American casualties in the Iraq war, but reiterated the mission is a just cause. He made the comments while visiting U.S. troops at Ft. Hood, Texas which saw nine of its soldiers die last week in Iraq. White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joins us from Crawford, Texas with more on that -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, President Bush spending part of his Easter Sunday in Ft. Hood, Texas earlier today. That is where he attended church services, but he was also visited with the troops, 11 wounded soldiers, all of those soldiers wounded in a recent Sadr City violence in attack in Iraq. The president also awarding 10 Purple Hearts.

He stopped to answer some questions, and he delivered a message to the troops, expressing sorrow and resolve.


BUSH: It was a tough week last week and my prayers and thoughts are with those who paid the ultimate price for our security, a free Iraq will make the world more peaceful. A free Iraq is going to change the world, and it's been tough. And our troops are -- our troops are performing brilliantly.


MALVEAUX: And Ft. Hood lost two of its soldiers today that were killed when their Apache helicopter was downed inside Iraq.

Now, the president faces scrutiny and tough questions not only in Iraq but also on September 11. It was just yesterday that the White House released that controversial presidential daily brief. It was entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Hit the U.S." Now, the president talked about that say there was nothing in that document that was pertaining to the 9/11 plot and that he was satisfied that all the investigations were ongoing -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, thanks very much from Crawford, Texas.

More on that declassified intelligence report that the White House released Saturday. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice testified the document did not warn of any specific attacks, but 9/11 commission member Richard Ben-Veniste says it should have alerted President Bush of that strong possibility.


RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: There was a lot of focus overseas, but the CIA author of this PDB, by pressing that stressing the fact that bin Laden was determined to strike in the United States was telling the president that we ought to look here as well. And provided a substantial amount of information as late as May of 2001, suggesting, among other things that al Qaeda cells were in the United States and that individuals in those cells were behaving in a way consistent with possible hijacking.


WHITFIELD: And Ben-Veniste adds that had the U.S. received information about a time and place for a specific attack and failed to prevent it, then that would have been a catastrophic result in unimaginable proportions.

Well, now let's get reaction to Ben-venista's Comments. National Security Council spokesman Shawn McCormick is in Washington and works with Condoleezza Rice and also serves as the deputy White House Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Well, glad you could join us.

Well, any strong reaction to Richard Ben-Veniste's comments that were seen earlier this morning on CNN?

SEAN MCCORMICK, NATIONAL SECURITY SPOKESMAN: Well, Fredericka, I think all the views have to know there was nothing in this PDB that related to 9/11. We've looked through it, there's no information that was contained in that, no new information, so new action was required.

WHITFIELD: Well, following Dr. Condoleezza Rice's testimony earlier this week, there were many family members of 9/11 victims who expressed their disappointment, feeling like the White House let them down, that they did not connect the dots, that there were some warning signs, so what does the National Security Council say to these victims' family members?

MCCORMICK: Well, I think Dr. Rice spoke quite eloquently on this during her testimony. Fredricka, the fact of the matter is this country was not on a war footing prior to 9/11. It wasn't on a war footing after the embassy bombings in 1998, it wasn't on a war footing after the USS Cole was hit. WHITFIELD: Isn't that the question, why?

MCCORMICK: I think that is what the 9/11 commission is trying to get at, Fredricka, and that is a service they can perform for all of the countries and all of Americans to help understand how these attacks happen, but the American people need to know that their government is now working night and day to do everything we can to try to prevent any future attacks against America or Americans. But there's no guarantee that we can't prevent a future attack.

We have to be right 100 percent of the time, the terrorists have to be right only once.

WHITFIELD: You've underscored it, Dr. Rice and President Bush have all said that this August 6, 2001 PDB reflects that there are no specifics about time and place of these threats, but isn't that the very nature of the intelligence agencies and National Security Council, to try to connect the dots?

MCCORMICK: It's a challenge for everyone in government. It was a challenge for the Clinton administration, it's a challenge for the Bush administration, to try to do everything we can to connect the dots and to make sure that we aren't attacked again. It's a difficult business, but the American people need to know we are doing everything we can to protect the country.

WHITFIELD: Richard Ben-Veniste made the point that a report indicates that al Qaeda possible suicide squad members might be trying to crash explosive-laden planes into Washington. Why isn't that specific enough?

MCCORMICK: Well, Fredricka, I'm not aware of that particular piece of information, but I know that we talked about Dr. Rice in May of 2002, that she could not have imagined that terrorists would try to strike us the way that they did on 9/11.

The fact of the matter is, we did not have that piece of information available to us. Anybody who read a newspaper from 1998 onwards understood that al Qaeda wanted to attack this country.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Rice made the point there were says systemic problems, the CIA and FBI not communicating well. So now that observation has been made prior to the hearing this past week and her testimony, what changes have been made?

MCCORMICK: Well, Fredricka, we've had a number of changes since 9/11. We've had the development of the Department of Homeland Security, which puts under one roof all of those agencies in the U.S. government that had been scattered throughout the government responsible for protecting the homeland.

Also, we've passed the PATRIOT Act. Now, there's been controversy in the wake of the passages of the act, and it's a debate that America has to have, but it's a debate we weren't prepared to have prior to 9/11, given our history and given our culture and given our values. WHITFIELD: And later on this week, we're expecting to hear from FBI's former director Louie Freeh, as well as CIA Director George Tenet, both to be testifying during the 9/11 commission hearings this week. Sean McCormick, thanks very much of the National Security Council. Thanks for joining us from Washington.

MCCORMICK: Pleasure to be with you.

WHITFIELD: There may not be protesters at this year's Masters, but it doesn't mean Martha Burke is walking away from her battle against Augusta national. We'll explain her shift in strategy right after the break.

Plus, the government is poised to make an unprecedented step tomorrow when it comes to Ephedra.

And still to come, Janet Jackson back on the small screen.


WHITFIELD: Some headlines across America. Falbrook, California, officials say Grammy winning entertainer Weird Al Yancovic's elderly parents have been found dead in their home. Nick and Mary Yancovic apparently of accident carbon monoxicide i'd poisoning.

A government ban on the weight loss and body building supplement Ephedra takes effect tomorrow, unless a federal judge intervenes. Researchers have linked the herbal stimulant to 155 deaths and dozens more heart attacks and strokes.

Augusta, Georgia, all eyes are on Phil Mickelson. The lefty was tied for first place heading into today's Masters. Now he's in a three-way tie for second. Ernie Els is topping the leaderboard, considered one of the best golfers, Mickelson has never won a major tournament. Many fans are wondering if he just might make it happen this year.

Well last year feminist activist Martha Burke began a crusade to get Augusta National to accept female members. Club Chairman Hootie Johson didn't budge, he wants the issue to just go away. But Burk's back. Now, instead of going after the club, she's set her sights on its high-level members. Josie Burke explains.


JOSIE BURKE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Martha Burk's protest last year during the Masters over Augusta National Golf Club's all-male membership was well publicized, but underattended. This year, Burke and her supporters won't be present, but there's still no female member of Augusta National, and Burke and club chairman Hootie johnson still battle.

MARTHA BURK, CHAIRWOMAN NATL. COUNTIL OF WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS: Well, it's become an icon for sex discrimination, then I concede Hootie won. HOOTIE JOHNSON, CHAIRMAN AUGUSTA NATIONAL GOLF CLUB: I think it's over, but -- it will never be over, but I don't think we've won anything.

BURKE: Proof that the battle is ongoing came this week with the announcement she's hired an attorney to investigate the gender practices of 8 financial companies, all with top executives who are members of Augusta National.

BURK: We're hearing from women in those companies saying, we're begging our CEO's to get out of this club, it's hurting our ability to make a living and these guys are not listening.

JOHNSON: I really think the American public is ready for us to talk about golf.

BURKE: At least for fans at the Masters that seems to be true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People should be allowed to have clubs of people they enjoy being with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know that the American public is completely over people being treated equally, but it just seems this probably isn't the forum for it.

BURKE: Because Burk threatened to target companies sponsoring the Masters last year, the television broadcast of the tournament was commercial-free. That will continue this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every hour that goes by without a word from our sponsor is just a reminder of Burk's impact. The club is giving up $5 to $10 million a year by kissing off the sponsors.

JOHNSON: We don't have any firm plans for sponsors for the future, but I do expect we will have them back in time.

BURKE (on camera): Ticket prices to the masters did go up from $125 to $175, but Johnson insisted tjat the lack of sponsorship had nothing to do with the price hike. Josie Burke, CNN, Augusta, Georgia.


WHITFIELD: She says she's the next generation to Martha Stewart. Sandra Lee, she can cook, but what else? She's in our New York studio and joins us coming up next.


WHITFIELD: As Martha Stewart awaits sentencing June 17, prosecutors and defense attorneys are sparring over her argument for a new trial. Stewart faces a possible prison sentence after being convicted of lying to investigators about a stock sale. She's seeking to have the conviction set aside on grounds that a juror didn't disclose his arrest records. With Martha Stewart's future uncertain, you may be wondering who could possibly fill her place as the next media -- media's leading lifestyle guru, so to speak.

Well meet a strong contender, Sandra Lee is a "New York Times" best-selling author with her own show on the Food Network. And she's joining us from our New York bureau.

Congratulations to all the praise, but I know this has to be awkward to be considered the next big thing after, perhaps, Martha is not seen as much anymore.

LAURA LEE, LIFE STYLIST: Well, I think she's still seen as the expert, and by the way, Happy Easter.

WHITFIELD: Happy easter.

LEE: She's still seen of course as an expert, but there's been many experts from Betty Crocker to, you know, Julia Childs, and there's room for everybody.

WHITFIELD: And hear, you know, you may kind of classify her as being more the textbook kind of version, where you're more the Cliff Notes version.

LEE: My job is to teach you how to get everything done with the time and the money that you have available, the resources you have at your fingertips and how to make it look fabulous and wonderful in minutes.

WHITFIELD: Isn't that the tricky part, trying to make it look easy?

LEE: Well, that is, but it's just attention to detail. That's why semi-homemade has been so successful, I think, is because you're taking 70 percent store-bought ready-made products, you're adding 30 percent fresh ingredients and then you get to take 100 percent of the credit for something that looks and it tastes homemade or like it took you hours, but in fact it took you only minutes.

WHITFIELD: That's so fun to call it semihomemade. So you really are trying to appeal to an awful lot of people out there, maybe some who are novices in the kitchen and those who feel quite comfortable, too?

LEE: That's right, the Cliff Notes version to lifestyle, this is how you can get everything done, have a good time doing it and be thrilled with the results.

WHITFIELD: Well, do you like the kind of attention that you've been getting most recently, particular, it seems to have picked up in the last few months, hasn't it?

LEE: I think -- I've been doing this for 15 minutes, started in the move, then I moved to garden, then I moved crafts, and food is now my fourth category. I've only been doing this for a couple years. I've cooking all my life, but focused on food the last couple years. The cooking show on the Food Network "Semihomemade Cook with Sandra Lee" is getting such high ratings . I think that's because it really resonates with the consumer and it's something that's beautiful and doable. And I think that's really why there's so much going on in the media.

WHITFIELD: And cooking is really just part of the equation, isn't it. It's lifestyle altogether you like to address?

LEE: It is. It's the whole lifestyle. How do I make my home more beautiful? How do I get a beautiful garden if I have a black thumb? What are those great crafts I could do on Easter morning when I forgot to dye the eggs? What are those things that make life special and enjoyable that I can easily do?

WHITFIELD: And I know you say you've been cooking for years, but at what point did you realize, I'm on to something. I can really keep this simple for everybody?

LEE: Well, my first product line hit about 15 years ago, and it has become the best-selling do-it-yourself home decorating line that was ever created, which is fantastic. So, I realized I had a knack then, but I never really wanted to be the on-air personality. In fact, I hired Florence Henderson to be the spokesperson for that product line. And 15 years ago I looked like fresh off the farm in Wisconsin, and I was.

WHITFIELD: Well, now you're a natural.

LEE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Sandra Lee, thanks very much. Looking forward to your books as well as your television show on the television Food Network.

LEE: Thank you. Happy Easter.

WHITFIELD: Happy Easter to you as well.

Well, it appears this year's Easter observances included a trip to the movie theater for many Americans. That story straight ahead. And up next, fighting in the streets of Iraq. Our military expert lays out the possible tactics of both sides.

Plus, caught in the cross fire: 1 Iraqi man's perspective in the fight to rebuild Iraq.


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