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Whitewater Rafting Company Could be Link Between Last Week's Attempted Bombings, July 7th Attacks; 'Kamber & May'

Aired July 25, 2005 - 08:30   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's check the headlines now. Carol Costello here with that.
Carol, good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Good morning to you.

Now in the news, a group of Sunni Muslims in Iraq are back to work, helping to write a new Iraqi constitution. The group had been staging a boycott after one of their fellow members was assassinated last week. And just hours ago, suicide bombers set off two separate car attacks, at least 14 killed, some 30 others wounded.

The Senate is set to debate a defense bill worth more than $400 billion. The bill authorizes defense programs for the next fiscal year. It includes $50 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A vote is expected later this week.

Amtrak's express service is back on track. The Acela Express line running from Washington to Boston resumes its weekday services this morning. The high-speed fleet was put on hold in April after cracks were discovered in the braking system. Acela resumed limited service from New York to Washington on July 11th.

And another storm is heading to Florida, but this time it's a huge dust storm. And when we say huge, we mean huge. This cloud is the size of the continental United States. It's being carried by strong winds from the Sahara Desert. No serious problems are expected, but people with asthma and other breathing problems are being told to be extra careful. And, of course, some experts say it could bring spectacular sunrises to Florida. But at least one viewer wrote in this morning and said the sunrise was normal. So maybe tomorrow.

Back to London and Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I was going to say it's been just kind of crummy weather here, so I can't even tell you if it's a spectacular sunrise. Just overcast and kind of gloomy.

Let's get to the very latest on the investigation here in London. Thanks, Carol.

A whitewater rafting company could be the link between last week's attempted bombings and the July 7th attacks. The National Whitewater Center is now confirming that two of the July 7th bombers went rafting. That was earlier this month. The British police are now investigating whether some of last week's attackers, in fact, may have visited that place as well.

Sajjan Gohel is the -- with us this morning. He's the director of the International Security Asia Pacific Foundation, and he joins us this morning.

It's nice to see you in person. We usually are sort of talking by satellite.

SAJJAN GOHEL, DIR., ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION: Nice to have you here in London.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks for talking with us.

Let's first begin with a look at all the bombings. Do you connect the dots between the bombings in Beirut, the bombings in Sharm El Sheikh, and the two bombings here in London?

GOHEL: What we often find is there are different groups that have their own organization, their own leadership and their own cell structure, but they're bonded by the same goals, the same ideologies that Bin Laden espoused, particularly the creation of the caliphates, the Islamic superstate. And you'll see that if one attacks takes place in London, it often inspires another group elsewhere in the world, like in Egypt, with Sharm El Sheikh.

S. O'BRIEN: Is it naive to then say they all are sort of under the banner of Al Qaeda? I mean, some people have said, Al Qaeda is not a group; it's sort of a mindset.

GOHEL: Right, Al Qaeda has changed. It's no longer an organization, but more of an ideological movement. So you disparate groups that all bonded by the doctrine and ideology that Bin Laden espouses, but they of course share resources, information. You always find a loose connection between all of them, and of course that is what is so disturbing, because it's no longer confined or located in one part of the world.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's talk specifically about some of the new information and the investigation into the London bombings, attempted bombings. First, link between sort of the two groups of attackers, the first that perished in the July 7th attacks, and then the other set that's still missing, and this whitewater rafting company. What do you know about that?

GOHEL: Well, it's interesting, because two of the bombers on 7/7 attacks actually went white water rafting in Wales just two days before they became suicide bombers. Now the authorities are trying to see if there's a connection between that whitewater rafting incident, between the first cell and the second cell. There is a suspicion that the second set of bombers actually were at the same whitewater rafting camp at the same time, and there does seem to be a linkage.

It's interesting. Terrorists often like to do follow-up attacks, hit the same target again, in order to keep the memories and the wounds alive, keep what they've done etched in our heads. And, of course, we'll see there could be wider linkages. We're only touching the surface. It could be a far more elaborate cell structure in the U.K.

S. O'BRIEN: Then there was the arrest of a third man, and there's not been very much information from police, who I think sometimes are very forthcoming with what they know. Who -- what do we think this third person's role is? And who are these three people altogether? We don't know much about them.

GOHEL: Authorities so far are very reluctant, Soledad, to talk about their connections that are taking place, because they fear it could incriminate their case. It could cause problems in the future. It's believed that the three that were arrested are not the bombers that were behind the 21st of July attacks, but are closely tied to that cell. And of course they've just discovered that there was a fifth bomb discovered in a northwest park in London. They suspect that could have resulted in there being a fifth bomber that we don't have any clue about.

And as we're seeing, the whole investigation is unraveling, and more information will come out. But the hunt is on to find these bombers, because the question is, will they try and strike again?

S. O'BRIEN: Will they try and strike again? And are they going to be able to find them? I mean, if you look at the quality of the pictures that they've really been showing everywhere, and you see Londoners very unnerved, I think, by the fact that you have four, possibly five bombers on the loose. What do you think the chances that they're going to be able to track these four or five suspects down?

GOHEL: Metropolitan police are very good in this. They've had to experience this during the height of the IRA, when they were trying to do bomb attacks inside Central London.

The key is intelligence. Can they find enough information as to where these guys are, what they're planning and where they're hiding? It seems that they have got safe houses. They've been closely protected by elements that are sympathetic to their causes and goals, and that is a problem, is when you have this thing, when these individuals who are cold-blooded terrorists -- let's not forget, they wanted to create a mass casualty atrocity -- are being protected, it raises great concern for Londoners, who are looking over their shoulders. They are uncertain. They are at unease of what could happen next.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, very scary all right. Sajjan Gohel, nice to see you, again, in person.

GOHEL: My pleasure.

S. O'BRIEN: We're usually talking from quite a distance. He's the director of international security for the Asia Pacific Foundation. Let's talk it back to Miles in New York -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Soledad.

Time now for a little U.S. politics. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took office as a bigger-than-life action figure -- excuse me -- prepared to turn the state of California around. But has he been reduced to just another politician, a mere mortal, besieged by his opponents? A debate on that and some other topics with who else? In Washington, former RNC communications director Cliff May. And in Chicago, Democratic consultant Victor Kamber. We like to think of them as action heroes here on our program.

Let's -- jeez, you know, it wasn't too long ago, Cliff, Arnold Schwarzenegger rides into office there, and they're talking about changing the Constitution of the United States so he can run for president. Seems like a kinder, simpler time for Arnold. What happened? Are California voters just so fickle that they've grown tired of him already?

MILES O'BRIEN, FMR. RNC COMM. DIR.: Well, I think in part, Miles, Arnold came up against the reality of California politics, of a state that, I'm afraid, has been mismanaged for a very long time. If not, the former governor would still be the governor. Arnold's got a big and very difficult chore ahead to fix that state. And unfortunately, it appears that Democrats, who still wield most of the power in the state legislature, are not helping him.

M. O'BRIEN: And reciting a bunch of old movies lines didn't help him either, did it?

MAY: No, but at the end of the day, he may be saying, I'll be back.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm sure he will.

MAY: Let me say, I wouldn't underestimate Arnold. It's not over yet. He's got a lot of hard work to do, and he's not getting much help from the Democrats who kind of think the worse, the better. If it's worse, maybe they'll get the power back, the state governor's mansion back. But I wouldn't count him out yet because, just because it's a hard struggle.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Vic, he wanted this special election. That's not happening now, is it?

VICTOR KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: No, he's believing his own press clippings. He believed he was the terminator who could come in and terminate all the problems in California.

The fact is he had little or no experience in government. He had a big name. He was a celebrity. We had a very unpopular governor at the time. He swept into office with that celebrity status, and then has done nothing since. He's tried to legislate by initiative, not by legislature, and the initiatives have been turned down basically, or withdrawn because they were improperly crafted.

You know, I -- Cliff's right, anything could turn around. We know that in this age of media. You could get some kind of instant hit. But as we stand today, he's not turned the state around. It's in serious trouble. It's under his leadership now. This Terminator is probably terminated.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, now you think that's the case? Because Lord knows, Americans and Californians love a comeback, makes for a good treatment.

KAMBER: You've got to do something, Miles, to have a comeback.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, the thing is, on top of everything else, he's got a deal to sell supplements for body building. He needs political supplements, doesn't he, Cliff?

MAY: Look, I think in politics, as in weightlifting, no pain, no gain, and I think that's what everybody's learning.

M. O'BRIEN: That's what he preaches. He should be listening, shouldn't he?

KAMBER: Yes, but he's giving lots of pain to Californians. That's the problem.

MAY: Oh, come on, you know, Victor, you're saying he's not doing anything. He's trying very hard, he's being blocked and obstructed on everything he tries to do.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, you girlie men, let's move on. Let's talk about the Roberts nomination, Judge Roberts. It seems like the calm before the storm here. But one of the issues which has come up is his wife's active affiliation with anti-abortion groups. Do you think that's fair game? Let's start with you, Vic.

KAMBER: Not at all. I'm a feminist, first and foremost. I believe that, if you have a spouse, mother, or father or kids, they're entitled to their own thought process, their own role they play. I want to know what Roberts thinks. I want to know what he thinks on a whole bunch of issues, including, obviously, abortion, and all the issues that count. But because his wife has positions, and has brains and pursues them, more credit to her. Even though I may disagree with her, but I certainly wouldn't hold her views akin to him.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, so you're riding the Democratic high horse there, and we're proud of you for that. Cliff, what do you predict on Capitol Hill, though? Will everybody be as noble and chivalrous as Vic?

MAY: Probably not, and I do agree with my friend, the feminist and action hero, Vic Kamber, on this, that his wife's views are not relevant.

I think the Democrats are trying to figure out what to do here. I think there are interest groups who are very feverishly right now today looking for some dirt on the judge, and if they can get some, they'll use it. There are those who are saying, oh, he has to give up all the papers he had when he was litigating. That's silly.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, isn't that fair? Isn't that fair?

MAY: No.

M. O'BRIEN: Because they're trying to figure out what he -- he's pretty much a blank slate. There's not a lot of paper out there on him. Why not ask for those documents and receive those documents so that people have can some true insights here.

MAY: Because there's such a thing as attorney-client privilege. Now the media right now want to establish reporter-source privilege, which doesn't quite exist, but there is attorney-client privilege. You can not expect an attorney to reveal confidences he had with his client.

M. O'BRIEN: Button up on that. We wish there was a reporter- source privilege, but that's another story.

KAMBER: Miles, just one thing. I mean, just as recent as a month, a month and a half ago, in the United States Senate, we had the Terri Schiavo case, and many, many Republicans chastised the judiciary at the appellate level because they didn't stand up for their views. We didn't know their views, and they claim we shouldn't be appointing people whose views we don't know. Here we have a judge who we're going to appoint, God willing, he's healthy. He's going to be there for 25 to 30 years making decisions on our life. We're entitled as a public, the Senate's entitled to know where he stands on a whole series and breadth of issues, not just socialist issues, but a whole series of issues.

MAY: I agree, but not by violating attorney-client privilege, by asking questions about his philosophy.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, gentlemen.

KAMBER: Which he has to answer.

MAY: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, superheroes, that's enough. That's enough. Thank you. We enjoyed you dropping by, but that's enough. We'll see you next time.

All right, Vic Kamber in Chicago, Cliff May in Washington. We appreciate your time, as always.


S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, Miles, we're going to talk about Londoners who are truly unnerved by the latest developments, and they're sort of in this tough predicament between both trying to live life as normal as the Prime Minister Tony Blair is advising, and also maybe making some changes to keep themselves safe. We sit down at a cafe with some young people to talk about their fears and their concerns. We've got their take just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) S. O'BRIEN: People across London reacting in different ways to the terror attacks here. I got a chance to sit down with a group of young Londoners and hear their thoughts on the bombings and security in London, and the shooting death of an apparently innocent Brazilian man in the subway.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I first heard it, I thought, good job. I think, shoot him, no questions asked, if he ran. I don't know, he shouldn't have run, but now after thinking about it, he probably -- it was probably not a good thing to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I totally agree with you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would have fully expected them to shoot him in the leg or shoot him to knock him down, and...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but he could have had a detonator and could have you know (INAUDIBLE). That's why they had to kill him straightaway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he didn't, though, is the thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but what if he did?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What if you were running to catch the train?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was rush hour. You know, like, he could have killed a lot of people, if he had had a bomb, you know. But at the end of the day, it's a 50-50 chance, isn't it?

S. O'BRIEN (on camera): Do you feel more vulnerable?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think more about everything, and you're more aware of everything around you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe some of the bombings took place in the first and second carriages. So when we get on, we don't get in the front anymore, sort of moved to the back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it was going to be just like New York, the big thing, and that was it. I wasn't scared at all until last Thursday, and then it happened again. I was shocked that something else happened, like I just thought it was going to be sort of the one attack.

S. O'BRIEN: Do you think it is going to happen again?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's just the beginning of it. Like the first time it happened, I thought it was just the beginning of it all. But I don't know when it's going to hit next or where.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: London is a big, big target. It's the biggest city, and it's a lot closer than the States. Obviously, the States is over the Atlantic. So I don't know, I just feel as though London is a bigger, bigger target.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could be anybody. I mean, even their wives, they don't know, like, I mean, these people left little babies and stuff. And it could be anybody. It could be your neighbor, just people you think you know really well. It could just be them. I think it's just scary. You can't control it at all.

S. O'BRIEN: Do you feel safer because of the cameras? I mean, people have made so much of the cameras around London and in the Tubes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't make me feel safer. It doesn't make me feel any different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's people traveling with backpacks every day on there. There's just no way to protect it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've noticed the arms on the Tubes now. I never noticed them, but I see them at the top there, and I'm ready to pounce. I've got a couple of friends who are Muslim as well, and they say it's quite weird walking around now, because they consider, understand why people are actually looking at them in that sort of way, and it's very hard sort of to get around that one really, because, I mean, there's so many Muslim people in London.

S. O'BRIEN: Are you fearful at all? I mean, you guys are all kind of a young bunch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it carries on, definitely. A couple of more weeks and some more bombings, and then a fortnight after, more. I'll definitely consider going home.


S. O'BRIEN: A tourism industry insider says that many vacationers with booked trips to Britain are changing their plans since the latest round of attacks. Travel experts say they expect travel spending to decline.

We're going to have much more from London and New York ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: One of our top stories this morning is the heat wave that is scorching much of the country. That sort of understates it. It's a deadly thing. It seems to be sweltering weather might also be heating up business at the malls. After all, air conditioned.

Andy Serwer, "Minding Your Business."


We're going to be treading perilously close to Chad Myers' territory here and talk a little bit about the weather and its impact on business.

As you suggest, unexpected fallout from the heat wave that's been inflicted upon the central part of the United States -- it's been good for business. You know, it's not just Tucson, Phoenix, and Las Vegas that have had triple digit temperatures; also St. Louis, Chicago, Iowa City.

And, in fact, benefiting from that have been the nation's retailers, because you don't just go to the pools, you don't just go to the lakes and rivers, you go shopping.

June sales for some of the nation's largest stores up, and the weather did begin to heat up in June. Wal-Mart, that's a 13-month high -- 4.5 percent growth. Costco up, American Eagle. You know, people buy summer clothes. They buy appliances. They buy air conditioners, of course. They buy grilling meat and they buy ice cold beer to go along with it.

So, you know, a lot of times we kind of make fun of companies that use the weather as an excuse -- "It's a rainy April, so we didn't sell much." But in this case, actually, sunny weather helping out some of these big stores.

M. O'BRIEN: Of course, the experts would tell you ice cold beer is not the best way to beat the heat. But of course, some people do that, we know.

Now, tell me about American Eagle though. Why 28 percent increase there? That's (inaudible).

SERWER: They were down previously, so it's kind of a bumping off of a low base. But it's just tons of T-shirts, cargo pants, shorts, all that...


SERWER: That is the ticket.

Quick check of the markets here, we have a minute for.

Futures are sluggish this morning. We have a lot of activity across the board. This is last week, as you can see. About a third of the nation's 500 largest companies are reporting earnings this week, including today American Express and T.I., Texas Instruments. We'll be checking that later in the day.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Andy Serwer.

SERWER: You're welcome.

M. O'BRIEN: Of course, in London, they like their beer warm.


SERWER: Yes. Tepid.

M. O'BRIEN: Why don't we head over there, shall we?

Soledad is there -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: That is so not true. That is not true. I can tell you that with personal experience.

M. O'BRIEN: You had a cold one.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Miles -- please.

All right, Miles, thanks.

Let's get back to talking about the terror attacks now that there's been two terror attacks on the underground trains in London. Union rail workers are calling for some extra staff to be put on the tube system.

Bob Crow is the general secretary of the British Rail, Maritime and Transport Union. He's with us this afternoon -- morning for you guys.

Nice to see you. Thanks for taking a moment to talk to us.

Give me a sense of how the drivers feel, whether we're talking about tube drivers or bus drivers. Are they afraid?

BOB CROW, BRITISH TRANSPORT UNION: Well, they're very nervous, I would say, themselves and the rest of the underground staff that work on the London underground; very nervous because of the incidents that have taken place, not just the bombing but the recent shooting as well last Thursday.

One of the train drivers got nervous, obviously, with the gunshots going off, and he moved out of the way. And the policeman put a gun to his head. And he could have been easily wiped out as well if he reacted in a strange way.

But what we're concerned about is that you got one person on the train with 450 to 500 people on a train, and if the driver becomes incapacitated, you've got 500 people left down a tube 300 to 400 meters below the surface of London, and we don't think it's safe.

S. O'BRIEN: What's the training like? Do you feel like there have been things put in place, especially in the wake of these two now attacks, to help the drivers, and thereby by extension, help the commuters?

CROW: Well, we have continued to argue the case that the train is not sufficient. We're saying that all staff should be trained, for instance, in breathing apparatus, so if a bomb goes off, the smoke and the dust, that a staff can have breathing apparatus, first of all, to deal with the passengers. And we've never been told what the situation would be if a chemical attack would have taken place.

S. O'BRIEN: So no education on this...



The London Underground have told us they have a plan, but they haven't rolled the plan out with the people that really matter -- the staff and the stations and the train drivers.

S. O'BRIEN: In the wake of the second bombing, I mean immediate wake, right after it happened, did the drivers feel like they knew what was going on, because the first one went like this, they had been briefed and they knew what to expect?

CROW: No, they didn't because the situation was it happened so very quickly. And the fact is you've got a split decision to make. You can't just leave 450 or 500 passengers on a train. The train driver's really not the captain of the ship. He's the last one to get off.

And they play a tremendous role -- all the station staff and the train drivers have played a tremendous role being the first people to the scene. Because before the emergency services actually get there, the first people to get there are the actual station staff. And we're saying that it's not adequately staffed and there needs to be a guard on every train of the London Underground to make sure that there's two people responsible if an incident takes place.

S. O'BRIEN: What kind of response are you getting from that very specific request?

CROW: Well, the public is clearly on our side. They want to -- people.

I've got to say the mayor of London and the government have let us down dramatically. They keep on saying, don't be frightened. They're walking around with security guards around them all day and armor plated cars, and our members are down where the bombs are going off. So they've been very, very poor, we believe, the government and the mayor of London, in dealing with this.

S. O'BRIEN: You speak specifically about the mayor of London. You had a meeting with him and obviously didn't go so well. Or do you think that there's hope for some kind of improvement, at least the improvement that you want?

CROW: The meeting we had last week didn't go well. And there will be a third meeting with the mayor this week, plus a very high- level safety meeting with the police and London transport on Wednesday. If we don't get there on Wednesday, then we're going have to consider taking some kind of industrial action to make the workplace safe.

S. O'BRIEN: Meaning?

CROW: That would mean taking strikes or going slow.

Because I would ask anyone, if you went to work today in an office or a factory and was going to be blown up, you'd ask for a safe workplace.

Our members don't deserve to come to work and find the threat of bombs going off. We understand that the terrorists are not the fault of London Underground or the government, but at the same token (inaudible) what we would say is that they've got a right to defend (ph) and have a proper safe workplace.

S. O'BRIEN: When do you make that decision about going on strike or a slowdown?

CROW: Well, if we don't get adequate responses by the end of this week, I'm saying that we will make the decision by the end of the week, early next week.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, we'll wait to see what happens.

Bob Crow, thanks for talking with us again. We certainly appreciate it.

He's the head of the British Rail, Maritime and Transport Union.

Ahead this morning, Miles is going to take you back to the Kennedy Space Center. NASA officials say tomorrow's launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery is a go, even though the engineers can't figure out exactly what's wrong with that bulky fuel sensor.

We'll take a look at that just ahead.



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