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Jill Carroll Alive And Safe; Immigration Battle; Bird Flu Fears

Aired March 30, 2006 - 07:30   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. A special edition of the program. I'm Miles O'Brien in New York.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Soledad O'Brien reporting from Washington D.C. this morning.

We begin with wonderful news, breaking news, coming to us out of Baghdad this morning. Jill Carroll is alive. She is safe. She's in safe hands now. She's spoken to her family members and colleagues as well after nearly three months of captivity. Terrific news to share with you this morning. She's been released and apparently on her way now to make her way back to her family.

She was kidnaped, you recall, on January 7th, her translator shot and killed. Her captors had demanded the release of all female detainees being held in U.S. custody in Iraq by the date of February 26th. That date came and went. Still no word and we heard an emotional appeal from her twin sister, Katie, in the last 24 hours, appealing just for any word about her sister.

And then today, this morning, some wonderful news to report. Let's get right to Nic Robertson. He's in Baghdad for us this morning following this story.

Nic, what's the very latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The very latest, as far as we know, she has made -- Jill has made or is making her way to that sort of very safe custody. We understand it will be a secure place. We don't know exactly where that secure place is going to be. And this is a course of events that we just became aware of less than an hour and a half ago that's been playing out quite literally on the streets of Baghdad while we've been talking about it, that Jill appears to have been released, from the few details we have so far, appears to have initially been released into Iraqi hands and then she's made her way or is in the process of making her way to a much more secure area. Very likely one would imagine, although we don't know for sure, the international zone here in Baghdad. We just don't have those exact details. But making her way to very safe area we understand.

Now what led to her being released into Iraqi custody, or what appears to have been Iraqi custody, we just don't know. We know that her sister, a twin sister, Katie, made that emotional appeal just before midnight last night on television here in Baghdad. But did that lead to Jill's release? We don't know. We may begin to learn those details in the coming hours.

But at this time, Jill's freedom has really just been a process that's been evolving quite literally while we've been talking over the last hour and a half, Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: And what a wonderful story to be able to follow and report for folks. We should mention, Nic, we're going to get an update from the military 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. We're expecting to hear from Major General Rick Lynch, hopefully giving us some more details about what exactly happened that led eventually to Jill Carroll's release.

Much mass been made, Nic, about, of course, she's a woman and the fact that she's fluent in Arabic, both of those things could have played a very big role in her release.

ROBERTSON: Oh, absolutely vital. The very fact that she could speak Arabic would mean that she would be able to communicate with the kidnapers. That perhaps able to sway and influence them, perhaps when they were discussing who she was and what she was, particularly in those very early stages when most people who have been kidnaped say it's tremendously dangerous when the people that have kidnaped you are trying to decide, are you a good guy or are you a bad guy? Are they going to kill you or are they going to keep you? And if she was able to have an influence in that early stage, very important.

The fact that she was a woman would mean in society here that she would be respected more. We've heard the families appeals over the last several months appear to sort of try and make that link with Iraqi women, particularly her twin sister, Katie, last night, making that appeal, talking about an Iraqi woman whose daughter was kidnaped and she got her daughter back and she made the point of saying she hoped that Jill would be returned to her family. Talking about the family, trying to reach out to women. All of these things very, very important for Jill and all now very happily appearing to, if we don't know exactly how they (INAUDIBLE), but very happily she is now free.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Yes, as Miles pointed out, it will be interesting to discover in the next day and days exactly what kind of role those kinds of appeals had.

Nic, thanks. We'll get back to you in Baghdad in just a little bit.

Let's first, though, get to Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN: Thanks, Soledad.

We're watching another story developing. Severe weather all across the mid section of the United States. And, of course, our severe weather expert, Chad Myers. Chad's watching it.

Chad, the recipe is there for some bad tornadoes. Have you seen anything yet? (WEATHER REPORT)

MILES O'BRIEN: We just got word that Associated Press television has interviewed Jill Carroll, subsequent to her release, obviously. We should be getting that interview in very soon via satellite. Of course, the moment we get it on the satellite, we will simultaneously play it for you. So stay tuned for that. I don't have a good idea of when we're going to see it, but I think we're going to see it fairly soon. And the minute we get it, we'll bring it to you.

In the meantime, let's check in with Carol Costello and see what else is going on in the world. Carol.


And good morning to all of you.

An explosion in southern Afghanistan. A suicide bombing in Kandahar. Witnesses say the bomb went off near a military convoy. At least six people are hurt. None of them appear to be U.S. troops.

Felony charges for two former New Orleans police officers. They were caught on tape beating a man on Bourbon Street last October. The men were charged with misdemeanors, but a grand jury has agreed there's enough evidence for more serious criminal charges. They face up to 10 years in prison. A third officer has been indicted on lesser charges.

Jurors in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial set to begin their first full day of deliberations. They're asked to decide if Moussaoui should get the death penalty.

In the meantime, a Virginia man sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting to kill President Bush. Lawyers for Ahmed Omar Abu Ali are planning to appeal.

And the Afghan man who could have received the death penalty for converting to Christianity is now in Italy. He is expected to officially request asylum there today. The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said he would gladly welcome someone so courageous. Abdul Rahman will likely remain under police protection until the asylum paperwork is processed and that should take about a month.

That's a quick look at the headlines this morning.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: All right, Carol, thank you very much.

President Bush in Mexico today. He's talking about immigration. The Senate is debating a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for immigrants who entered America illegally. That would sort of soften an immigration bill that came out of the House in December. California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez joins us this morning. Nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us this morning.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: You voted against Sensenbrenner's bill that passed the House.

SANCHEZ: That's correct.


SANCHEZ: Because the bill has some very terrible things in it. For example, the mere presence of somebody being in this country with the wrong documents, let alone no documents, would make them Automatically a felon, subject to mandatory minimum sentencing, that means they must serve prison time. So let's say a five-year-old who's brought by someone here, who has nothing to do with anything, gets taken, must serve prison, then gets deported and never to return to this country again.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: As you know, the legislation, that particular part, of course, is being debated and, in some ways, reworked, if, you know, an amendment comes to that. What else don't you like about the bill?

SANCHEZ: Well, somebody who would help volunteer at a church, who works at the food bank, for example. If a poor person came and they didn't have the right documentation, now that worker is subject to being a criminal and to prison time. So I think that's wrong.

Also, you know, it's a very complicated process when you come into this country. There are actually two very large books at almost every area where we process immigration, let's say an airport. You can come in on a whole bevy of different visas and so someone can get it wrong. Even the immigration officer can get it wrong. You may have the right paperwork but he may not know about it or he may not know how to process that. In which case, you would get no due process. You would automatically be sent back, never to enter this country again.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: What about this wall, this fence, 700 miles. Where do you stand on the fence?

SANCHEZ: Well, I've never been for fences. I mean, I think it was Ronald Reagan who said, Gorbachev, tear down this fence. I'm not for the fence out there in the Middle East. People know that. I just think there are different ways to fortify our border. And we need to understand who is in our country and who is coming across that border and why they're coming.

There are many ways to do that. The technology that we've got in California that we can now place at both the northern border, the southern border and, by the way, our entire coastline and all of our airports. These are all methods to enter our country and people come in every day through these without the right paperwork. So it's not just about a fence. And think about this. We could build a 700-mile fence. First of all, environmentally, it's the wrong thing to do. But people are tunneling under. We need to put the right sensors and there's nothing . . .

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: So you think the fence in some ways doesn't go far enough?

SANCHEZ: Yes. The fence is the wrong approach. I think the best thing we can put there are more border patrol agents. And, in fact, the bill that came out of the judiciary committee has almost doubled.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Let me stop you there. It looks like we're getting Jill Carroll's interview. Let's listen.


JILL CARROLL, RELEASED HOSTAGE: (INAUDIBLE) when I wanted. They never hit me, never even threatened to hit me.

MILES O'BRIEN: OK, we apologize . . .

CARROLL: Well, I thought -- I thought I was not free (ph).


MILES O'BRIEN: We apologize for the fact that her English responses are being translated, obviously, into Arabic. But if we listen, I think we can hear a little bit about what she's saying.


CARROLL: I think (INAUDIBLE) sometimes the news but not (INAUDIBLE).


CARROLL: I don't know. I don't know what happened. (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was negotiation to make you free (ph).

CARROLL: I don't know. I don't know what was going on. They didn't tell me what was going on. (INAUDIBLE) food, I'll eat, (INAUDIBLE), I went to the bathroom (ph). I was (INAUDIBLE).

I really don't know where I was. The room had a window but the glass was, you know, you can't see (INAUDIBLE). I was sitting in the room, I had to take a shower, I walked two feet (INAUDIBLE). I didn't know where I was or what was going on.


CARROLL: I once did watch television, but I didn't really know what was going on. (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So your view to us, what will you say this time?

CARROLL: About what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, about what happened, yes. But what do you want -- what would you like to say to (INAUDIBLE)?

CARROLL: Oh, the only thing . . .


CARROLL: No (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever want to talk about this (INAUDIBLE)? I mean do want us to (INAUDIBLE)?

CARROLL: I do. All I can say right now is that I'm (INAUDIBLE). They never said they would hit me. (INAUDIBLE) and I said that -- and I'm happy to be free and want to be with my family.

MILES O'BRIEN: We apologize for that. Obviously the satellite transmission has locked up. I think you were able to get enough of a gist there. Number one, without hearing, understanding a word of what she was saying, she appears to be in great health, appears to be very responsive, appears to be doing just fine, to all appearances. And what I heard there, in between the Arabic translation was, she basically didn't know where she was. She was pretty much in a confined space without a window, had one opportunity to watch television but was otherwise quite literally and figuratively in the dark as to what was going on to obtain her release.

So still a lot more questions which are on our minds. We got that briefing coming up in 15 minutes from the military. We'll try to get the version of that interview without the Arabic translation and make it a little easier for us to hear it.

Soledad, it's just nice to see her looking so good, isn't it?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: And so calm.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: I mean, and talk about being in control in a situation where she's being interviewed really just, you know, a short while after she's been released. You know, she also was fairly adamant. You heard her repeat a couple of times, they never hit me and I was well taken care of.

She actually described her room as having a window but a window that was clouded over. So essentially she couldn't really figure out where she was in her surroundings. And that if she had to go take a shower, then she just sort of walked a few feet away and took a shower, kind of in a contained space. And clearly not really understanding, certainly, the outpouring of support, maybe even not having an idea of the pleas that her family members have been making on her behalf. She said she watched television just once but really didn't seem to go into any detail about that.

Adamant, though, when she said, I am just happy to be free and I'm happy to be back with her family. So terrific news that we are able to report today. Jill Carroll looking really as wonderful as you could possibly hope for someone who's been released from captivity just for a short while. In good health, calm, in control, doing an interview with APTN and very much being cleared.

You know, and I thought it was very interesting, Miles, when she said -- when she was talking -- you know, she's always been such a proponent for the Iraqi people and really trying to make it very clear, I was not hurt. I was well cared for. I mean, I think she's trying to get out immediately the circumstances and sort of the people and her treatment. I think that would be very important to her as a woman who's always been very careful and very passionate about presenting the truth of the Iraqi people. I think when we hear this interview here, we're going to really have some more of our questions answered.

We're going to get that and we're going to get it without the Arabic translation as well so you can hear it clean in just a little bit.

We've been talking to Representative Loretta Sanchez. And I apologize for -- although I warned you.

SANCHEZ: It's so exciting. So exciting.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: It is wonderful news, isn't it?

SANCHEZ: I think it really shows the power of family. You know, for her sister to have gone on the air and said, you know, I really need my sister back. It's a great story. Such a great story.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. And, gosh, they look so similar too, don't they? I mean, I was watching this, her sister Katie, and you were saying, oh my gosh, this woman looks just so much like her sister Jill.

We were talking about this -- the House legislation. The house legislation immigration bill has no provisions for guest worker. Where do you stand on the whole guest worker?

SANCHEZ: Well, I really believe that we need to have comprehensive reform for immigration. What does that mean? First, we have to decide what to do about the people who are already here who don't have the right documents. And, you know, sitting on the Homeland Security Committee, we cannot spend enough to go and find all of these people. We need to give them an incentive to come forward and tell us who they are and then spend our scarce resources on those that don't come forth. The ones that don't come to talk to me, those are the ones I'm most interested in from a terrorist or criminal aspect.

So I think that . . .

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: So, I guess, you like guest worker . . .

SANCHEZ: That we need some sort of guest worker program, some sort of incentive to the people who are here. Most of them working. They're parts of families. You know, we have these mixed families. Some U.S. kids, maybe the father has the right work permit, the mother was nothing. What are we going to do? I mean we just saw family -- the importance of family. Are we going to send the mother away and break up the family? We've got to do something about the people here, and part of that is this issue of guest worker program and giving them documents to work.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Tom Tancredo (ph) would say, yes, now you've just given an incentive to someone who's been living in this country illegal. You've allowed them to catapult over all the other people who've done it the right way, who've filled out the forms, who are awaiting patiently in their home countries to come to this country and you've said, you know, our bad, come on in.

SANCHEZ: Well, if you look at the Senate bill, it doesn't do anything like that. First of all, they have to pay a fine. Secondly, they have to continue to work. They have to work at least six years here. Third, they go to the back of the line of everybody who's already filed and is under the current system. So they're not moving ahead of anybody who has done it the right way.

It's just like when you make the wrong turn or when you crash your car, you go down and you go before the judge and you pay a fine. Do you expect that we're going to put you in jail every time you make the wrong turn? I mean, these people are here working. They're part of our economy.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: If the bill goes through the way it is, the House version of the bill , let's say hypothetically, give me a sense of what L.A., when you see all these protests there, would look like? I mean how . . .

SANCHEZ: Well, how are we going to -- how are we going to bring in these people? So let's say we have 10 million people. Let's say in Los Angeles alone we have about a million people who don't have the right documents. Are we going to have normal people going after them, grabbing them, taking them down to the police officers? Are we going to clog up the court system? Now they're going to have to be sentenced. Now they're going to have to spend at least a year in federal prison? Are we going to build more prisons? What are we going to do about families? What about these people who are now no longer working? Restaurants? And it's just not, you know, gardeners. I mean, you cannot even imagine who has no documents or right documents to be in this country. It's a lot of well-trained people also.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, nice to talk to you about this issue. Thank you very much for being with us. SANCHEZ: Thank you, Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: We sure appreciate it.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: For all of the information, by the way, and all the news coming out of the Cancun summit, you want to watch "Lou Dobbs Tonight." He's anchoring live from Mexico. He's got a "Broken Borders" special report. That's at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time. In our 9:00 hour, Lou's going to join us live with some of his views on this issue.


MILES O'BRIEN: We're going to keep you posted all morning on the release of Jill Carroll. We're going to try to get that interview for you that we just saw with Arabic translation without the Arabic portion, play that for you.

We have a news conference from the U.S. military coming up in about nine minutes time. We'll bring that to you live.

And then the Christian Science Monitor will fill us in from Boston about 8:30 Eastern. All that ahead for you. And, as we say, as soon as we get that interview cleaned up, we'll get that for you as well.

Other things on our agenda this morning, the government's stockpiling a bird flu vaccine. But will it work? We'll tell you what doctors found in their first round of human testing. Stay with us.


MILES O'BRIEN: Big news at Best Buy. Here's Andy.

ANDY SERWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Miles, let's talk about this one right away. Have you ever gone to a Best Buy, think you're going to spend $200 and you end up spending $500? You spend to much.

Best Buy spending to much too. Adding too many costs. Now the high-flying retailer has to cut back and apparently they're going to be laying off employees in April. That's the latest word. Kind of unusual for a company doing that well.

Other business news here. You know, Whirlpool is buying Maytag and there are some who suggested the market share here was way too high. The Department of Justice would not let this merger go through. After all, the combined company would have a 50 percent market share in dishwashers in the United States and a 70 percent market share in washer/dryers. Now the Department of Justice, though, is green lighting the deal and it should close on Monday. The DOJ saying there's lots of other brands out there, Kenmore, GE, Frigidaire, LG, Samsung.

MILES O'BRIEN: Honoco (ph).

SERWER: Samsung, excuse me.

MILES O'BRIEN: Yes. And, one question, is there a Whirlpool repair man?

SERWER: I don't know if he's still around. He just sits there.

MILES O'BRIEN: Just the Maytag guy. Just the Maytag guy. No whirlpool guy.

SERWER: Just the Maytag guy. Right, just the Maytag. Yes. Newton, Iowa.

MILES O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much.

SERWER: OK. You're welcome.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: All right, Miles, thanks.

Well, you know, we've all been warned that we're going to likely see the bird flu here in this country sometime this year. So there's news about an experimental vaccine showing some promise, sort of. Here to talk about the findings, Dr. Anthony Fauci, of course, is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Nice to see you again. Thanks for being with us, Doctor.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: If I'm a glass half empty kind of gal, which some days I am, I'd say two mega doses of this vaccine in people kept about 50 percent of the people protected.

FAUCI: Right.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Than doesn't sound like such great news.

FAUCI: No. And as an end in and of itself, it's not. It really -- but is an important first step in the direction where we want to go. You know, you can describe it as, you know -- I use the terminology muted good news, where there's some good news that we have a vaccine, it is well-tolerated in people and it induces an immune response that would you predict would be protective against the pandemic flu, this H5N1 in question. But the quite sobering news is that the dose that's required is so high that where we stand right now it really makes it non-feasible for widespread production and use.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: We have 4 million people who could be protected by this vaccine now.

FAUCI: Right. Right.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: And the goal is 20 million. FAUCI: Right.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: So you're talking about one-fifth of what you need already.

FAUCI: Exactly.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Two mega doses, I mean, and only in 50 percent of the people, at best, you're at one-tenth of what you need.

FAUCI: Yes. But this is not the end point. It isn't this particular vaccine. More important than how much we're stockpiling is to build up the vaccine production capacity to be able to really surge up to get hundreds of millions of doses if we need it.

The important information that we learned, because we need such a high dose, is that there are actually studies that are ongoing right now with the use of a substance that we all an agivent (ph). Which when you give it with the vaccine, it amplifies or increases the response so that you could hopefully get away with a much less dose. No one would argue that 90 micrograms times two is just a not a feasible place to be. So we have to go much better than that.

But this is an important step. We learned a lot from this study. And others will continue.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Why was the study in healthy Americans who hadn't been exposed to potentially the bird flu, as opposed to, you know, Indonesia, where you could pick people who had been exposed?

FAUCI: You always do phase one and phase two, which is mean (ph) early studies. First of all, you've got to find out if it's safe. We don't have bird flu here. So you do it -- and in any vaccine study, you always start off in normal, healthy individuals. And actually this group was young, healthy adults, from 18 to 64. Subsequent to this report, which appeared yesterday in "The New England Journal of Medicine," we've also studied it in elderly individuals greater than 65 and most recently in children from five to nine years old.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Muted good news say Dr. Anthony Fauci, nice to see you. Thanks.

FAUCI: Good to see you.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: I know we'll be talking about it as these studies continue.

We're going to have much more on all these stories this morning, including the release of Jill Carroll. Terrific news. U.S. hostage held for nearly three months. An update on that story coming up right after this short break. Stay with us.



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