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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Chief Justice Rushed to Hospital with Fever; Technical Glitch Halts Shuttle Launch; No Comment from White House on Rove Controversy; Details of Gitmo Interrogations Revealed in Senate Testimony; Study: Hands-Free Cell Phones Dangerous for Drivers; Baby Panda Hard to Spot

Aired July 13, 2005 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: "Now in the News," Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist has been taken to the hospital after complaining of high fever. The 80-year-old judge has been battling thyroid cancer, a full report form CNN's Joe Johns coming right up.
NASA scrubs the launch of the pace Shuttle Discovery. A faulty fuel tank sensor forced mission controllers to postpone the liftoff. Crewmembers were already suited up and on board when the announcement was made. Of course, our Miles O'Brien joins us live from Kennedy Space Center straight ahead.

"Time" magazine reporter Matt Cooper testifies before a grand jury investigating a CIA leak. Cooper says he described honestly and openly what he knows about the leaking if the identity of the CIA operative Valerie Plame. White House political adviser Karl Rove has emerged as a central figure in this investigation.

And the National Hockey League reaches agreement in principle with the player's union. The league canceled the 2004-2005 season over a collective bargaining dispute with players. The league says it will not release any details of the agreement until both sides have approved it.

Arlington Hospital by ambulance. William Rehnquist, chief justice of the United States, admitted overnight with a fever at the height of speculation over possible retirement of the visibly ailing 80-year-old cancer patient. Details are few, but CNN's Joe Johns is accustomed to that. He's at the Supreme Court right now working the story for us -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.

What we know is about what you reported. And that, of course, is that in fact the chief justice of the United States was taken last night to an Arlington hospital with a fever. We don't know how high it was. He certainly was taken there by ambulance, we're told by court officials. And that is where he is now.

We got some inkling that the chief justice had changed his routine. He did not show up at work today. We also saw some security officers apparently taking clothes out of his house, also his cane. Not clear where they were going, presumably to the hospital. No indication of when he might get out, how serious this is. Of course, that would be the key question. He is 80 years old, suffering from thyroid cancer. A lot of speculation about when or if the chief justice of the United States might consider retiring from his post here, a post he's held for more than 30 years.

So that's the news, Kyra. Back to you.

PHILLIPS: All right. Joe Johns, live at the Supreme Court. Thank you so much.

And if you tuned in to catch the last hour of countdown to the liftoff of Space Shuttle Discovery we're glad, but it's off. The weather was iffy but holding, and the seven member crew was suited up and strapped in when a faulty backup fuel sense fouled up the first shuttle mission since the Columbia disaster of 2003.

CNN's Miles O'Brien has the prognosis from Kennedy Space Center in Florida -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, it all unfolded about 90 minutes ago. Right here on LIVE FROM you saw it happen. As NASA going through its countdown scrupulously, the crew strapped in. They were just about to shut the door, for gosh sake. The weather even was doing well after a thunderstorm came through here, raising a lot of concern that the weather would be a problem.

And one of the ground controllers here, the launch control center, detected a problem, or an indication on a control system for the fuel, a fuel controller. The question is now what is the problem? I'm not sure that NASA fully understands it. And that, of course, leads to many questions about how long the delay might be as they try to troubleshoot this situation.

Joining me now is "Orlando Sentinel" aerospace editor Mike Cabbage, who's been tracking this situation for quite some time.

First of all, let's just explain to folks, using the model here, explain what we're talking about, and then we'll talk about the history of this problem. The sensors are down here, right?

MIKE CABBAGE, "ORLANDO SENTINEL": Right.

O'BRIEN: And the goal of the sensors, kind of like on your car, you have a low fuel light. The little light, you know, a way of, as the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen up here drains out so it doesn't allow the fuel to just conk out to the main engines. In other words, getting only hydrogen or getting only oxygen from them.

What -- what do you think has happened in a test a few months ago or a month or so ago on another tank.

CABBAGE: Right.

O'BRIEN: This similar problem came up. At the time it was an unexplained anomaly, as they say. CABBAGE: Right.

O'BRIEN: New tank comes on. Same orbiter, same problem crops up. Where does that take you? Where do you go down the road on that?

CABBAGE: I think one of the things that NASA is going to have to do is they're going to have to look at the orbiter side, instead of focusing on the external fuel tank, to see if maybe that's where the problem is.

As you mentioned earlier, there have been two different tanks that have been on the shuttle now. Both of them have exhibited this problem. And the earlier tank that they had showed the problem when they did a tanking test and then they did another tanking test on the same tan, and it didn't show the problem. Now they have on the second tank the problem coming back up again.

That makes you wonder whether or not it's -- maybe it's not a problem with the tank itself, maybe the orbiter.

O'BRIEN: Now, that new tank was put on because of some other redesign issues, some concern about ice, as well. And at the time there was a lot of questions. Are you going to run a test on this tank? NASA said no. Do you remember their rationale at the time?

CABBAGE: When they did the second test on the fuel tank that was taken off...

O'BRIEN: Right.

CABBAGE: ... it didn't exhibit the same problem. And they couldn't reproduce the problem, as I understand it. And it went into this category of things that NASA calls unexplained anomalies.

And when they considered it at the flight readiness review a couple of weeks ago, they discussed the issue again. They felt like, because they hadn't seen it again, that it wasn't something they still need to worry about before launch.

O'BRIEN: All right, Mike Cabbage. It's an important valve, because you don't want those main engines to cut off prematurely as the crew rides to space. That would be a big problem. Could create some kind of abort scenario.

So NASA has scrubbed the launch. There's meetings under way right as we speak. We're going to hear more from NASA, we hope, in the next hour and a half. Give us a sense of how long it will take.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're saying Monday at the earliest.

O'BRIEN: All right. It will be Monday at the earliest, we're told, before there will be any sort of launch here. That's just the first indication from NASA administrator Mike Griffin, just was told that. Monday at the earliest before there will be another attempt. And let's consider that a fluid statement at this point. We'll keep you posted -- Kyra. PHILLIPS: Sounds great. Miles O'Brien, thank you so much.

Well, one said that he'd go to jail before he testified. Another said would he'd fire whoever outed a CIA operative. Still another said Karl Rove had nothing to do with any of it. None of those statements applies anymore as the reporter seen here goes before a grand jury, the president declines to prejudge his trusted aide and his spokesperson declines to defend his previous denial.

CNN's Elaine Quijano sorts it all out from the White House -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Kyra.

From the cabinet room here at the White House, President Bush today commented on those questions, ongoing questions surrounding Karl Rove and the CIA leak investigation.

Now, with his trusted advisor and deputy chief of staff, of course, Mr. Rove, sitting a few feet away from him, President Bush declined to answer specific questions about what he knew when regarding Karl Rove's conversations with reporters and the CIA leak investigation.

Now, for the past couple of days we've heard the president's spokesman, Scott McClellan, effectively issue a "no comment," saying did he not want to prejudge the continuing investigation. And today that's what we heard from President Bush, as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An ongoing investigation, this is a serious investigation. And it is very important for people not to prejudge the investigation based on media reports. And again I will be more than happy to comment on this matter once the investigation is complete.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now of course, Karl Rove is the man that President Bush has referred to as the architect. To many, Rove embodied the melding of politics and policy here at the White House.

On a personal level Mrs. Bush, Laura Bush, calls Karl Rove a good friend. But there was no such endorsement from the president himself today. And the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, offered this explanation as to why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He wasn't asked about his support or confidence for Karl. As I indicated yesterday, every person who works here at the White House, including Karl Rove, has the confidence of the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP) QUIJANO: Now as the White House is facing more scrutiny on this, "TIME" magazine reporter Matt Cooper was testifying before a grand jury. He spent two and a half hours, he says, before them.

Meantime, Karl Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, said yesterday his client is in no way threatened by Matt Cooper's testimony, saying that Rove has testified fully. That we should point out while the White House is now remaining relatively mum on this issue, of course, it was two years ago when they came out and officials from the podium in a briefing room, Scott McClellan saying he did not believe Karl Rove was involved in this situation.

But the White House now remaining quiet. And now the Republicans are defending Karl Rove, putting out statements calling all of the questions surrounding him simply partisan politics -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Elaine Quijano, live from the White House. Thank you.

And to view an interactive time line of the CIA leak investigation and for the latest on the probe, you can log on to CNN.com/politics.

Strip searches, name calling and performs prisoners to perform dog tricks. All are interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo Bay, according to testimony today before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

CNN's Barbara Starr has more on the investigation to the alleged prisoner abuse. And the question so far, how far is too far, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was the question that the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier today, Kyra.

The hearing was all about an investigation as to whether or not there has been abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The investigators did find that after thousands of interrogations there were three cases that may have stepped over the line, but one of them turned out to be extraordinary.

It was the interrogation of a man known as Mohammed al-Khatani, also known as the 20th hijacker, the al Qaeda operative that did not make it all the way to the 9/11 attacks. The testimony about what the interrogators did to break al-Khatani's will was extraordinarily graphic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GEN. RANDALL SCHMIDT, USAF SENIOR INVESTIGATING OFFICER: ISN 3 (ph) was told his mother and sister were whores. He was forced to wear a bra and a thong placed on his head during the course of interrogation. Twice interrogators told him he was a homosexual or had homosexual tendencies and that other detainees knew. He was forced to dance with a male interrogator. He was subjected to several strip searches as a control measure, not for security. And interrogator tied a leash to his hand chains, led him around the room and conducted a series of dog tricks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: Also during his interrogation at Guantanamo Bay, a female interrogator straddled him, all an effort, after eight months of resistance by this man, to break his will and get him to talk about what he knew about al Qaeda operations.

Of course, as you can well imagine, all of this testimony was extraordinarily controversial, some senators saying it didn't bother them at all that these people at Guantanamo Bay should be made to talk within the rules of the law.

Some senators, such as Senator Kennedy of Massachusetts, expressing his concerns, saying what would this mean if U.S. soldiers were ever captured by enemy forces and subjected to similar interrogation techniques.

So all of this and whether anyone is held accountable for it still remains very much an open question, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Barbara Starr, thank you.

British police investigating the London bombings are hard at work today. They're conducting searches in the city of Leeds for a second day. They say the four suspects at the center of their investigation are all British nationals. Three of them are from Leeds. Documents belonging to the suspects have been found at the bus and subway bombing sites.

Meanwhile in London, the British prime minister met with Muslim leaders and promised to work with the Muslim community in combating extremism. He's condemning a rash of attacks against Muslims. He says his government will work up new anti-terrorism legislation.

The London bombings are being closely scrutinized in the U.S. as well as the U.K. The Associated Press reporting that President Bush met privately at the White House with a group of top American CEO's. Someone at that meeting says that Mr. Bush announced that U.S. intelligence agencies are now checking the names of the bombing suspects against their databases. Investigators are looking for any possible links that the alleged suicide attackers may have here in the United States.

A massive overhaul, rather, at the Department of Homeland Security. Secretary Michael Chertoff made the announcement just a short time ago. The 2-year-old department has seen its share of turf battles and growing pains. Chertoff hopes the reorganization will help focus the agency on the job at hand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: At the outset we must acknowledge this: although we have substantial resources to provide security, these resources are not unlimited. Therefore, as a nation we must make tough choices about how to invest finite human and financial capital to retain the optimal state of preparedness. To do this we will focus preparedness on objective measures of risk and performance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: We are committed to bringing you the most reliable news about your security. Stay tuned to CNN day and night.

Well, if you drive a car and use a cell phone, even if you use a hands-free phone, you're putting yourselves and others in real danger. We're going to show you why.

And it's so small it's almost impossible to see. But that's not stopping thousands from trying to get a peek at this panda. That's a little later on LIVE FROM.

ANNOUNCER: You're watching LIVE FROM on CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: We continue to follow the developing stories from Kennedy Space Center. As you know if you've been watching CNN, the shuttle launch has been scrubbed for today.

Discovery's crew was suited up and ready for launch, but according to engineers, a low level cutoff switch associated to the faulty fuel sensor caused this scrubbed launch today. Of course, the concern is fuel running out of the main engines there.

Our Miles O'Brien has been working this for us all throughout the afternoon. Disappointment, obviously, to the crew and to NASA, but we are getting word now from Miles that the launch could resume as early as Monday. So we'll continue to follow Space Shuttle Discovery and its liftoff.

Another story that's breaking right now, live pictures via our affiliate, WXIA, here in Atlanta, Georgia. What you're seeing are rescue crews getting ready to attempt to go down a culvert drain to rescue a young child.

All we know is that this is in Lawrenceville, Georgia. And evidently, a small child has fallen into this drain that's located near Taylor Elementary School in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

So rescue -- as you can see, rescue crews are on the scene getting ready to gear up via rope and work -- one of them will work their way down that drain to try to rescue that child that has fallen in.

Don't know the condition of that child. Don't know if they're able to make communication with that child. But we will continue to follow either a young boy or young girl trapped in this culvert drain in Lawrenceville, Georgia, when that rescue starts to take place. And hopefully it will be good news and we'll see a child coming out of there, safe and sound. We'll bring it to you live. Thanks again to our affiliate, WXIA.

Well, you've heard it before, studies about drivers using cell phones being more likely to be involved in a crash. And many motorists have switched to the hands-free models, believing they lesson the distractions. But a new study is pulling the plug on that theory, too.

Here's our Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You've seen it happen too much times. Someone cuts you off, makes a right turn from the left lane, nearly runs you down, happily chatting on the phone the whole time.

AJIT VERGHESE, COMMUTER: Yesterday I was driving to work...

FOREMAN: And Ajit Verghese says it just happened to him, when he ran up against another driver more interested in talking than traveling.

VERGHESE: They decided they were going to take a left turn from the middle lane.

FOREMAN (on camera): On the phone?

VERGHESE: On the phone with their -- with their phone plastered to their ear. Not even using a headset. And they were just jabbering away. They didn't even notice which way they were going. They cut across their lane and my lane and almost caused an accident.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Tests in traffic simulators established years ago that fumbling with any objects can make a driver dangerous. But this new study goes much further, saying cell phone use makes a serious accident four times more likely. And -- this may surprise you -- using a headset with both hands on the wheel changes nothing. It's just as dangerous.

Rather the new data suggests that talking alone, just having a conversation on the phone, is a huge distraction. So even though dozens of states and cities now say you can use a cell phone but only with a headset, researchers say that doesn't make it any safer.

ANNE MCCARTT, INSURANCE INSTITUTE/HIGHWAY SAFETY: In fact, to the extent that drivers perceive that hands-free phone use is safer in some sense these laws could even have a detrimental effect if drivers increase their use of hands-free phone use.

FOREMAN: But not so fast. Defenders of the mobile phone industry suggest using a phone while driving is like eating a doughnut. Drivers need to be cautious, aware, and some aren't.

JOHN WALLS, CELLULAR INDUSTRY SPOKESMAN: So it wouldn't matter, again, if they were drinking beverages or eating burgers or talking to other passengers or playing the radio, whatever, they're just maybe not very good drivers.

FOREMAN: Ajit is not buying it.

(on camera) You nearly had accidents yourself talking on the cell phone in the car and now you don't use it.

VERGHESE: The reality of it is people don't really need to use their cell phones in their cars, unless it's an emergency. And if it is an emergency, pull over.

FOREMAN: Otherwise, the next emergency could quite easily be you.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Now one other note about that study. It didn't matter if the driver on the cell phone was a man or woman; the risk was the same.

Well, coming up a newborn that's so precious people aren't even allowed in the same room. It's the size of a stick of butter. Can you find it? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A new panda born over the weekend at the National Zoo is getting star treatment. A closed circuit camera monitors its every move. The only problem is, newborn pandas are so tiny you can hardly see them.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What do pandas and dairy products have in common? At least newborn pandas?

JO GAYLE HOWARD, NATIONAL ZOO: We always refer to it like a stick of butter, because it's about the same size, about the same weight.

MOOS: And that makes finding the National Zoo's newborn panda on their panda cam like trying to find a stick of butter in a bamboo stack.

(on camera) Where's the baby?

(voice-over) Sure you can see mom and hear the baby squealing. But we dare you...

(on camera) Find the panda baby.

(voice-over) Why look at the infant panda through two grainy web cams trained on the cubbing den? (on camera) No one. No one, not even the zoo staff has seen the baby in person. They've only seen it through the monitor.

(voice-over) That's to avoid disturbing mother and child during the first few weeks of the baby's life.

(on camera) I hope she's not sitting on the baby.

(voice-over) After all, Mom weighs 245 pounds. The baby's only three or four ounces.

The best place to watch Panda Cam is at AnimalPlanet.com, though Mom is always hogging the picture.

(on camera) This seems almost like an invasion of privacy.

(voice-over) Watching Panda Cam isn't always spellbinding, but it sure beats other web cams. Like the once famous coffee pot cam at a computer lab. Then there's Bee Cam, the Hog's Breath Bar cam, Jail Cam and, of course, CornCam where you can watch corn grow. Makes Panda Cam seem bearable.

(on camera) Taking a nap. Wake up! Come on, action.

(voice-over) We in the media and movie spoofing us use pandas to pander to our audience.

PAUL RUDD, ACTOR: Panda watch! The mood is tense.

Hey, you're making me look stupid. Get out here, panda jerk.

MOOS: On the National Zoo web site they offer everything from pandas on credit cards to panda hotel packages.

(on camera) Panda package with free breakfast. What do you get, bamboo?

(voice-over) Room service.

Since you can only catch a glimpse of the real baby panda, the zoo's expert uses a fake baby panda for show and tell. Here's what another baby panda looked like. It's been compared to bald gophers. And since they're calling it a stick of butter -- got milk?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: That wraps up this Wednesday edition of LIVE FROM. Now here's John King with a preview of what's ahead in "INSIDE POLITICS."

Hi, John.

JOHN KING, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Hello, Kyra, and thanks to you. The chief justice of the United States is in the hospital this hour fighting what we're told is a fever. And that news has this town, of course, buzzing once again about the possibility William Rehnquist may retire.

The story and the guessing game, coming up.

Plus, with Karl Rove sitting just a few feet away, President Bush takes questions but says very little. We'll have the latest on the fight over the president's key advisor.

All this and much, much more when I go "INSIDE POLITICS" in just two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END

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