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Transition Plan for Handover of Power in Iraq; Images of War

Aired April 20, 2004 - 07:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get to our top stories this morning.
Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan is denying claims that he knew of U.S. plans to attack Iraq before Secretary of State Colin Powell. Speaking by phone with CNN yesterday, Bandar also denied that he made a deal with President Bush to lower gas prices before the November presidential elections. Bob Woodward makes those claims in his new book called "Plan of Attack."

Meanwhile, President Bush has nominated a new U.S. ambassador to Iraq. John Negroponte is currently the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He was a former aide to Henry Kissinger and an ambassador to Honduras in the early '80s. If he is confirmed by the Senate, Negroponte would become ambassador to Baghdad after the June 30 power transfer.

The mother of Kobe Bryant's accuser says she is proud of her daughter. The woman's mother spoke publicly for the first time yesterday at a victims' advocates rally in Colorado. She says her daughter has taught her about courage. The 19-year-old woman has accused Kobe Bryant of sexual assault in a highly-publicized case. Bryant says their encounter was consensual.

In health news, a new study finds that not getting enough iron can affect your ability to think. Researchers found that women lacking iron had more trouble thinking and remembering than those with adequate levels. Woman -- women, rather, who took iron supplements for four months significantly improved their attention span and their ability to remember things.

And NASA is going to try again today to launch a multimillion- dollar satellite designed to test Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. Remember we told you about this the other day? The $700 million gravity Probe B was supposed to take off yesterday from California. Engineers could not confirm whether software had been loaded on to the launch rocket to deal with the high winds.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Maybe they need to bring in Rocketman.

O'BRIEN: What? Oh, yes, the other guy...

HEMMER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) successful. The guy we were just talking about.

O'BRIEN: I think they need to go higher.

HEMMER: You're probably right.

O'BRIEN: Obviously, I need to reference back to the iron story. I need more.

HEMMER: Higher and faster.


HEMMER: The Bush administration must provide a detailed plan of its strategy for transferring power in Iraq. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, frustrated by the lack of specifics from the White House, will make that demand starting today.

Joe Johns live on the Hill today. Joe, start us off here. What's Congress looking to find out this week?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, this is all about the transfer of power, and it's about military operations.

On the transfer of power, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, is very interested. He's been a bit critical of the administration. He, of course is a Republican. He wants to know, what's the plan? Is there a plan? How is this thing going to work on the ground? What's the role of the United Nations? A lot of questions he has.

Of course, there's another question, and that is: Who from the Department of Defense will actually talk to the committee? Those people from the Department of Defense are supposed to be talking to the Armed Services Committees today -- Bill.

HEMMER: Joe, on a similar topic, much of the conversation so far in the last few days this week is on Bob Woodward's book. Is there much reaction there on Capitol Hill regarding that or any element within that book?

JOHNS: Well, everybody is look right now. The Congressional appropriators are extremely interested in the allegation by Bob Woodward that about $700 million that was intended for Afghanistan actually was converted for use in planning the war in Iraq. Now, the Pentagon denies that. They say Congress was fully informed of all of the money that was used. They also say the number is much, much smaller.

So, that's one of the things the Congressional appropriators right now are looking through the budget to try to figure out where is the money? How much was used? Democrats, of course, are much more critical. Republicans saying the Congress was kept informed -- Bill.

HEMMER: But to the very point of this about whether or not this was illegal or not, is there any conclusion on that just yet, Joe?

JOHNS: Well, that's the hard part. They really can't say, partly because they didn't know, at least as of late last night, where this money precisely was coming from. Congress, of course, is supposed to hold the purse strings on things like this. But there are a lot of fine lines there. And if the Congress was, in fact, informed by the administration, some say it might be a non-issue. On the other hand, Democrats during an election year are expected to look very closely at it -- Bill.

HEMMER: Joe Johns, thanks, on Capitol Hill. The first day of three-day hearings today regarding Iraq transfer of power. Thanks -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: David Swanson, a photojournalist from with the "Philadelphia Inquirer" has just returned home from Iraq. Swanson was embedded with the Echo Company of the 1st Marine Expeditionary force in Ramadi, and they came under attack on April 6, suffering several casualties. Swanson himself was hit in a firefight.

I spoke with David, asking him to describe for us the day that he was shot.


DAVID SWANSON, PHOTOGRAPHER, "PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER": We were doing what they call a cord and a knock early Saturday morning, going to about 10-15 houses. The sun was coming up, and we were walking through a field. I was with the captain, and we were against a cement wall, heard a few pops. We all got down on one knee and, you know, I felt something unusual in my arm. And we were told to dive in the ditch. So, we spent the next 10-15 minutes in the ditch crawling through sewage to get to safety.

O'BRIEN: Describe for me how that felt. I mean, obviously, it sounds like it wasn't at first very painful. You describe it as sort of someone tugging on you, you thought at first, to get down or something. What did it feel like? What's through your mind? I mean, did you think that's it, I'm dying?

SWANSON: Well, I didn't think initially it was anything major. It just was more shocking, and I didn't see where it came from. Right after that, the captain was hit and the Marine in front of me was hit in the leg from shrapnel. A Marine a couple over behind me broke his legs diving in the ditch. So, we were just laying there in trouble for a bit.

I'll tell you what came to mind was my wife was going to be mad at me.

O'BRIEN: Tell me about some of the photos that you think are your best work, the most dramatic photos of the men in this company?

SWANSON: Tuesday's firefight had ended, and everyone was securing the area. And just around the corner, this young Marine came carrying a body bag in this photo. I knew exactly what it was. And he walked past a dead enemy, a dead Iraqi on the ground. The sun was going down, and he just tenderly placed the body bag in the back of the Humvee that was shot up.

The one that gets me is the windshield with 50 or so bullet holes in it. A Marine went in to try to move the Humvee, and he looks quite scared behind the windshield. And unfortunately he died three days later at the same location from an IED. So, that just stays with me.

O'BRIEN: How did you find things changing from the first time you started working with these men to when you left Echo Company?

SWANSON: They all knew my name when I left. They all shook my hand, and we shared one the worst things a human can share, staring at death.

O'BRIEN: How do the soldiers who are still there, how do they seem to be doing?

SWANSON: Well, they lost friends. They lost brothers. It would be a cliche to say band of brothers, but, you know, they eat, sleep, work and relax with each other. And I'm sure they know each other better than family members. The eighth Marine that survived the assault on the Humvee went back to an empty room where seven bunks weren't filled that night.

O'BRIEN: I know you have said you realize just how young these Marines are. I mean, you're not old yourself, but you are older than they are by a decade, in a lot of cases. What kind of things did you take from that, meeting all these very young men?

SWANSON: The answer they would give why they joined is if not me, who? And they are all proud young men doing what they believe is correct, and they kept me safe for two weeks.


O'BRIEN: David Swanson's harrowing photos can be seen on the "Philadelphia Inquirer's" Web site, which is Really remarkable work, I think.

HEMMER: Incredible stories, too. Yes, and the pictures show the story so well what's happening there.

Let's get a break here. In a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING, top administration officials rushing now with the reaction of Bob Woodward's new book. Today's reactions still to come here this morning.

O'BRIEN: Also, round two for defense attorneys in the Jayson Williams manslaughter trial. They're going to present their case for a second time.

Stay with us. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.


HEMMER: Welcome back, everybody.

The defense in the manslaughter trial of former NBA star Jayson Williams is now getting a second chance to present its case to the jury. Can Williams' attorneys now take legal advantage of the prosecution's mistake? A good question this morning.

Here's Deborah Feyerick now for us.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prosecutors call the failure to turn over a key report on the shotgun an oversight, but Jayson Williams and his legal team say otherwise.

Williams' lawyers reopened their case, questioning the gun maker's chief engineer, labeling his solo inspection of the gun, in their words, "secretive."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's your term, secretive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was nobody there from the other side during your examination?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

FEYERICK: Long before the trial began, prosecutors asked Browning executive Larry Nelson to examine the 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun. He did, taking it apart. But during their presentation, prosecutors never brought that up, maintaining only two people dismantled the gun: the state police sergeant working for prosecutors and the defense expert.

Williams' lawyer tried to show prosecutors didn't want Williams to have the gun maker's report too soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there language in there, "no rush on the report, in fact, take my time, no sense in letting defense have access to it early?"


FEYERICK: On cross-examination, prosecutors tried to stress the gun engineer took the shotgun apart only after Williams' own expert had analyzed it. The shotgun that killed limo driver Gus Christofi is a critical piece of evidence. Williams says it malfunctioned and fired accidentally. Prosecutors say it fired because Williams pulled the trigger.

(on camera): It was the first day back for the jury in three weeks. One juror was excused after the death of a family member. What effect the delay and the new testimony will likely have is anyone's guess.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


HEMMER: Brian Neary is a criminal defense attorney representing Jayson Williams about 10 years ago in a gun charge in the state of New Jersey.

Brian, welcome back. Good morning to you.


HEMMER: How did the judge address this 18 days since they've been back in court, the jury themselves?

NEARY: Well, he explains to them that the reason for the delay was that there was some discovery, some information that wasn't passed along by the prosecutor to the defense. He blamed the prosecutor. He laid the time delay on them, told the jury that the defense had nothing to do with the delay, and then said, let's get on with it.

HEMMER: How do you think that makes the prosecution look at this point?

NEARY: Well, the defense had to emphasize that in three different ways. They called one of the lawyers on Mr. Williams' team, who testified that they never got this stuff in discovery. And then they threw on two witnesses. They threw on the state's own expert, Sergeant Ryan (ph), and they threw on the gentlemen from Browning, Mr. Nelson. In essence, the judge let them batter them around for a while to show, in fact, that they hadn't played fair. They didn't give all of the information on it.

HEMMER: Help me understand this: It's been said yesterday that the defense can reopen its case. To what degree in terms of witnesses and presenting evidence at this point?

NEARY: Just on the issue of the gun, yesterday it's the setup for what I believe will be today, the defense will recall Mr. Ernst (ph). He was there, the defense expert, who testified that he had taken the gun and inspected it and found some wood chips. He's going to testify that based on what the jury heard yesterday, the information that was not disclosed to him, that he might have had a much more emphatic conclusion, in fact, that this was an accident.

HEMMER: And on that information, on that evidence, these notes and these photographs that were taken by the prosecution, do we know if they show whether or not they can be damning evidence toward Jayson Williams or not?

NEARY: Well, I think it's what they don't show is that because since no one else looked at it at the time that the state's expert was in essence taking it apart, and the word secret was being thrown around all day yesterday, a secret examination without the defense being present, is that the information that wasn't there or wasn't seen by the other side may, in fact, be the key to the accident case.

HEMMER: Some are describing some exchanges yesterday as feisty and nasty between the attorneys. Did you see it the same way?

NEARY: I did. And I think it was feisty and nasty because as you got so close to the end of the trial where emotions run high all of the time, now one side really thinks that there's been a case of really dirty pool played against it. And I would think that both sides right now -- prosecutors and defense -- are aggravated, to say the least. HEMMER: Well, a quick point. You mentioned the name Nelson, the witness on the stand yesterday. He's the guy from the Browning gun company. He said one of the finest firearms ever made. It's a wonderful gun, and I'm going to defend it. One has to measure how much impact that could have on jurors when a guy who knows more about these guns than anyone else says it's reliable and it's dependable in his testimony yesterday.

NEARY: That's what the prosecutor hopes. But that form of hyperbole, the best gun ever made, you know, in the Western world, knowing that there was some mistakes along the way in the examination with regard to it, the defense tried yesterday to show that this man will defend this gun to the end because of issues of products liability, not just criminal defense.

HEMMER: Thanks, Brian. Thanks for coming in. It continues today.

NEARY: Thanks, Bill.

HEMMER: Brian Neary, thanks.

NEARY: See you.

HEMMER: Here's Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Alabama's attorney general says he will fight bills that propose a three-year moratorium on executions in that state. Troy King says Alabama's death penalty cases are already administered fairly and impartially. One bill also would prohibit the death penalty for anyone younger than 18. King's remarks come in response to proposals by a state senator.

Still to come this morning, the best seats in the house. We're going to show you a way to buy a piece of history.

Stay with us. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: And Jack is back with the question of the day. Good morning again.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again.

The Supreme Court of the United States will hear appeals today involving the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were picked up after September 11 in the fighting in Afghanistan. The administration calls them enemy combatants. It says they have the right to hold them as long as necessary without formal charges or the right to a trial or a lawyer. But supporters say these men should have a chance to prove their innocence.

The question is this: Should Guantanamo detainees have access to the American courts? David in Sulphur Springs, Texas: "Detainees should not have access to U.S. courts. They are prisoners of war and should be evaluated on an individual basis and imprisoned or returned to their homeland."

Anthony in Sydney, Nova Scotia says: "By holding these detainees offshore out of the reach of the American courts, the Bush administration is showing the same disdain for human rights and the rule of law as the rogue states it so vehemently decries."

Carol in Charlotte, North Carolina: "Who will pay for the legal defense of the detainees? One word: taxpayers. Six hundred cases times how many lawyers, then the inevitable appeals. Don't want to think about it."

And B.J. in Manhattan, Kansas" "Access to the courts? That won't help them. Give them access to reality TV. Let's have a new show each week from Gitmo, where the viewers vote the prisoners off the island."

HEMMER: Creative.


O'BRIEN: Bizarre, but creative, I agree.

CAFFERTY: It's an idea.

HEMMER: Just a few weeks ago, what, several of them returned, I think, back to Britain. They had a handful going back there.

O'BRIEN: Right.

HEMMER: A handful went back to Australia as well. What decides whether somebody is going back to their home country at this point or not, I do not know.

O'BRIEN: International pressure from their government, is what I can tell so far.

HEMMER: It could be in part. And also part of the questioning that's gone on down there in Guantanamo Bay.

CAFFERTY: The Pentagon has agreed to review each case once a year and decide whether or not these people continue to be a threat.

HEMMER: It's safe to say, unchartered territory, huh?

CAFFERTY: Apparently.


Some New York Yankee fans now have a little piece of the house that Ruth built. Sets of three seats sold for $1,500. The seats were removed from the ballpark in the Bronx a couple of years ago. The money raised goes to the city. Some fans even camped out overnight to make sure they got a set.

And, Jack, I was thinking, you know, with Soledad coming along the way here, I mean, a set of three would look great in her apartment here.


O'BRIEN: In my apartment.

CAFFERTY: Put bleachers in.

HEMMER: Yes, a terrific idea.

O'BRIEN: You know, actually I need two sets of three to seat my big family.

HEMMER: That's around the big table.

O'BRIEN: Around the big dining table.

CAFFERTY: For three grand, you're in. That's pretty cheap.

O'BRIEN: Yes, right. They look really comfortable -- not. Thanks, guys. I appreciate it.

Well, we're not giving away any big secret by saying that a certain Web site has gotten a lot of our attention in our offices lately. Some people call it fascinating. Some have been downright amazed by it.

Jeanne Moos has taken a look.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is chicken you serve and now there's subservient chicken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bend over, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want him to do a hand-stand.

MOOS: The subservient chicken will do almost anything you tell him. Type "touch your toes," He'll touch his toes. Hop on one foot? Even do the moonwalk. The subservient chicken has become a Web sensation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a smart chicken.

MOOS: Don't expect this bird to do anything foul.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tickle his butt.

MOOS (on camera): Tickle his butt?

(voice-over): Tasteless commands like "give the bird" will result in a wagging finger, and not the one you asked for. This is Burger King's attempt at what's called viral marketing, creating buzz on the Internet for its revised slogan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poke your brains out.

MOOS (on camera): Poke your brains out.

(voice-over): Folks tend to think the subservient chicken is live, responding to their commands.

(on camera): You believe the chicken is there?


MOOS (voice-over): Actually the chicken was taped performing 400 commands, then turned into a computer program.


MOOS: The chicken suit was created by the Stan Winston Studio, famed for everything from "Jurassic Park" dinosaurs to Budweiser frogs.

(on camera): How about lay an egg?


MOOS: I knew you'd like that one.

(voice-over): Actually, it's the chicken's favorite move. We also like telling it to snap its garter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was designed to be Victorian-esque.

MOOS: Why just order chicken, when you can order one around?


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


O'BRIEN: I don't get it. I mean...

HEMMER: Bookmark it.

O'BRIEN: I don't get it.

CAFFERTY: Don't look at me.

O'BRIEN: I don't get it.

CAFFERTY: I'm over here worrying about the detainees.

HEMMER: You're doing a darn good job.

O'BRIEN: It does seem miles away -- the chicken, the detainees, you know.

CAFFERTY: Yes, let's keep it that way.


HEMMER: That's right.

O'BRIEN: You know what?

HEMMER: It's a pokey production.

O'BRIEN: I vote for that, too.

HEMMER: Let's get a break here. Next here on AMERICAN MORNING, the Bush administration is disputing some points in Bob Woodward's new account about the run-up to war in Iraq. Who is saying what today?

That's coming up at the top of the hour here on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, with the hostage crisis dragging on in Iraq, what's it like to be held in captivity? We're going to ask a man who lived the terror for years. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


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