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Fire in Washington State; General Michael Hayden Appointment as CIA Director Questioned; Immigration Reform Ignited Debate All Across the Country; Is New Orleans Ready For Another Evacuation?

Aired May 12, 2006 - 10:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: If we somehow seem less prepared on Monday, there's a good reason. Our friend Jean is leaving us. Jeanne Weinberg and on her way to the land of live free and die, going to enter the political fray.
We'll miss you Jeanne Weinberg.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Her last day today after how many years, Jeanne?

I think she said 25 years.

M. O'BRIEN: Started in the mid-50s.

S. O'BRIEN: No, wait a minute, Jeanne's only...

M. O'BRIEN: It's been four years.

The best to you Jeanne Weinberg.

S. O'BRIEN: We're going to miss you, sunshine.

M. O'BRIEN: We'll miss you. We'll miss you.

S. O'BRIEN: I love working with her.

That's it. We're out of time. Let's get right to Daryn. She's at the CNN Center.

Hey, Daryn.


Congratulations to Jean.

And Soledad, you have a great Mother's Day.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you, and you, too.

KAGAN: All right. You have a great day, great weekend. We will get started in Washington, D.C.

There is no wavering at the White House this morning. They're standing by for their man -- by their man for CIA chief this morning. And they're defending the agency he once oversaw, the NSA. Reports say the National Security Agency is collecting phone call records from millions of Americans that's triggered new concerns about your privacy versus your security.

The latest from White House correspondent Elaine Quijano.

Elaine, what are they saying there at the White House this morning about General Michael Hayden?


For the second day in a row, the White House is not confirming or denying the reports that you just outlined. The new White House press secretary, Tony Snow, in fact, in his first off-camera briefing with reporters in his office telling the reporters plainly that officials will not discuss any operational details because, when allegations like this arise, he said, sometimes in the course of answering those questions, details are revealed.

He did reiterate, though, the White House's support for General Hayden, saying they are, quote, "100 percent behind him."

When asked about how the renewed NSA debate might affect General Hayden's prospects for a confirmation, he said we should ask the senate committees about that.

And Snow also made it a point to repeat what the president said yesterday that the government does not listen in on domestic phone calls without court approval, that the NSA surveillance program is lawful, and that the appropriate members of congress, he said, have been briefed.

Now, on another issue making news, the president has apparently asked the broadcast networks for prime time on Monday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern time, to talk about immigration.

Immigration is something that we have heard the president discuss many times before. And he has outlined essentially what he has called a comprehensive immigration plan that he wants to see coming from Capitol Hill, a plan that includes border security, interior enforcement, but also a controversial guest worker proposal?

Why now? Why this announcement? Quite simply, the senate is taking up this issue next week and, in the words of Tony Snow, this is, quote, "crunch time on this issue."

We are also told, Daryn, that border security will be a big part of those remarks from the Oval Office on Monday night.

KAGAN: Elaine Quijano at the White House.

Thank you.

We'll have more on immigration reform in a just moment. First, I want to get back to the issue with the NSA. It looks like most Americans are not bothered by the reported NSA program to collect phone records.

That is from a new Washington Post, ABC News poll. Check out these numbers, 63 percent of those surveyed say the program is an acceptable way to investigate terrorism.

That includes 44 percent who strongly endorse the program, about a third, 33 percent, called the NSA program unacceptable.

And now back -- just about an hour from now, immigration policy bubbles to the surface in Washington.

A group that organizes citizen patrols along the Mexican border is holding a rally today.

It's the final stop of the Minuteman Project. Members have been on a ten-day, cross-country tour. The group protested last night in Richmond, Virginia and counter protestors were on hand. There were no problems.

Immigration reform, it has ignited intense debate all across the country. It also has split one family apart.

Our Chris Lawrence has the story from "THE SITUATION ROOM."


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two brothers separated by 2,000 miles and their opinions on illegal immigration.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: It's a national security issue.

LAWRENCE: Congressman Duncan Hunter is in Washington where he'll have a chance to negotiate a compromise with the senate. The California republican helped pass a House bill that toughened penalties on illegal immigrants and those who helped them.

JOHN HUNTER, CONGRESSMAN'S BROTHER: My wife and I talked about it a little bit and we said we'd break the law if it came down to it.

LAWRENCE: His brother John is on the Mexican border ...

J. HUNTER: We'll put some water in there helping illegal immigrants.

LAWRENCE: ... helping illegal immigrants.

John builds water stations in the California desert to help thirsty migrants who cross the boarder in between a giant fence Duncan wants to expand.

D. HUNTER: You have to have a border. And to have a board you have to have an impediment. LAWRENCE: he refused to support John's plan to supply cell phone towers, but he did help John get official permits for the water stations.

J. HUNTER: No, he's really a great brother.

LAWRENCE: They actually agree that an open border makes no sense.

J. DUNCAN: On the other hand I don't think they should die. The penalty for wanting an $8 an hour job shouldn't be death.

LAWRENCE: John shows us a cemetery and the graves of unidentified migrants who died crossing the border illegally.

John blames immigration policy, not people, especially Duncan.

J. HUNTER: Duncan's one of the few guys I really, really admire in the Arena.

LAWRENCE: Even when they end up, literally on opposite sides of the fence.


KAGAN: Fascinating story from Chris.

You can see more stories like that on the "Situation Room." Tune in this afternoon at 4:00 eastern. Then the live prime time edition at 7:00 eastern.

And we have breaking news out Of Nigeria.

Carol Lin following that for us today -- Carol.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Nigeria, the fifth largest contributor to oil sales here in the United States, a big supplier for the U.S.

This is what we know about this explosion, Daryn. It happened near the largest city, the capital city of Lagos, Nigeria. According to the Associated Press, quoting the Red Cross out there, as many as 200 people may have been injured in this explosion. There are reports of villagers running to the scene to scoop up the crude oil as it is now leaking out.

There have been several problems in this region, Daryn. In fact, just this week there were three hostages taken and released, and an American oil worker, who was killed there.

The violence from militants in this region is contributing to fears of rising oil prices as the United States is taking a look at the political situation in Iran. And now one of the largest suppliers to the United States, dealing with what appears to be right now, a violent attack, and hundreds of people injured on the scene.

We'll stay on top of the story.

All right, Carol.

Thank you, Carol Lin.

Back here in the U.S., it is three weeks to go until hurricane season. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says the city's evacuation plan is ready to roll, but that's not what the people in the agencies he's depending on say.

Our Gulf Coast correspondent Susan Roesgen keeping them honest for "ANDERSON COOPER 360."


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We know what went wrong in the New Orleans evacuation during Katrina. Just about everything. People who had a car got out. Those who didn't or their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And saved some other folks' lives too.

ROESGEN: Longtime resident Ben Hunter paddled out in a canoe.

This year the city is promoting a new evacuation plan, city buses would round up people who don't have cars and then the state would bus them to shelters away from the city.

Amtrak trains would evacuate the sick and elderly. And the airlines would keep their planes at the New Orleans airport until all of the tourists got out.

When I asked the mayor how firm the plan is, he said everything is good to go.

RAY NAGIN, MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS: The fundamentals of this plan is basically to get as many people out as possible, pre-event and right after the event.

ROESGEN: But we found out the plan isn't so solid after all. Amtrak says it hasn't actually signed on the dotted line. It's not a done deal and even if there is a deal, state officials tell me there aren't enough doctors to put on the trains to care for the sick and elderly being evacuated.

As far as the airlines evacuating tourists, that's not a done deal either. The Transportation Security Administration says it's still just being talked about.

But how about the buses to get people out? The city estimates that 10,000 people will need help getting out, but New Orleans has fewer than 100 city buses. And the city is still negotiating with the bus drivers who haven't agreed to stay.

Finally, shelters, less than three weeks before the start of hurricane season, city officials admit not a single out of town shelter has been lined up.

We asked the new Orleans emergency management chief, Terry Ebbert, the architect of the mayor's plan, if it's really ready to go. He says the city is counting on the state and federal government to make it work.

TERRY EBBERT, HOMELAND SECURITY SEC. DIR., NEW ORLEANS: The plan is land-based transportation out of the city on buses. That's the plan. These other areas are improvements to the planned, which I believe that the federal government will make good on.

ROESGEN: Will that happen or will people like Ben Hunter have to paddle out of his neighborhood in a canoe again?

BEN HUNTER, HURRICANE VICTIM. O'BRIEN: We've been through Katrina, you know. I mean -- it's like, we're from Missouri, now, you've got to show me. I don't have the faith.

ROESGEN: Hunter says this year he won't wait around for the city's help, he'll leave before a hurricane even gets close.

Susan Roesgen, CNN, New Orleans.


KAGAN: Susan is part of the team keeping them honest on "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Join "A.C. 360" weeknights at 10:00 eastern.

A sign of progress perhaps, you soon will have to pay to park again in areas of New Orleans.

Streets emptied by Hurricane Katrina are coming back to life. So the city plans to collect parking fines again.

Meters in and around downtown, the convention center and the medical district are back in operation. Police are issuing courtesy tickets this week. The fines begin next week.

Speaking of next week, we're expecting to get news on a second set of DNA results in the Duke rape case. How might that shape the trial? We'll talk with the DNA expert just ahead.

Also, fun in the sun, it can be deadly. What you need to know about skin cancer. A top dermatologist is back to answer your e-mail questions ahead on LIVE TODAY.


KAGAN: General Michael Hayden, President Bush's nominee to take over the CIA once again making the rounds on Capitol Hill. This the day after the latest rounds of news breaking on the NSA, with that report out of USA Today that the NSA has been building a database of domestic phone calls to look at possible patterns.

As the general meets with different senators and congressmen, let's hear comments from Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.


SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: I think hearings will be held. Senator Specter has talked about bringing some of the telephone company executives before the Judiciary Committee. I think that's appropriate.

I think this issue that needs to be clearly aired. The American people need to have confidence in their government and their government's agencies. And know that not only are we protecting the rights enshrined in the constitution, but we are protecting the security interests of this country.

Oh, I don't think so. We need to get a new CIA director in place and we need to have those hearings. And I'm glad that we're having those hearings next week.

Those are the questions we'll going to be getting into some detail with General Hayden and others during those hearings, and I don't want to get into those specific questions.

General Hayden has another meeting.

QUESTION: General, if we could just ask you, sir, what you say to the millions of Americans who perhaps feel now that the U.S. government is spying, is listening in on their conversations.

GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN: Well, I'm not going comment on the article that appeared in USA Today yesterday. Let me say once again, though that everything the agency has done has been lawful. It's been briefed to the appropriate members of congress. But the only purpose of the agency's activity is to preserve the security and the liberty of the American people. I think we've done that.

QUESTION: General, I think the hearings will help?

HAGEL: We have to go.


KAGAN: Those hearings, by the way, the confirmation hearings are supposed to start next Thursday. We'll have more on his visit to Capitol Hill as the day goes on.

Meanwhile, let's check in, in Durham, North Carolina, more DNA tests. Round of two in the Duke rape investigation.

The district attorney expects the rules on Monday. An exotic dancer says she was raped at a lacrosse team party inside this House, but defense attorneys say that DNA did not match the players.

What can we expect from the Second round of tests?

Joining me now is Mark Stolorow, a forensic scientist with a private lab, Atlantis (ph),a pioneer of DNA testing. Mark, good morning.


KAGAN: We should point out you're not working on the Duke case, but we want to talk DNA with you since you are an expert. However, if you were working on the Duke case, what would you like to look at?

STOLOROW: We'd like to look at all traces of physical evidence, biological tissues, stain material, anything that would be foreign to the victim herself. Things that would be found under fingernails, on clothing, on rape kit examinations, swabs, virtually any place where there could be contact by the assailants and the victim herself.

KAGAN: Why would there be two rounds of DNA testing? What do you see on a second round that you don't see on the first round?

STOLOROW: The first round is done to Identify biological fluid associated with the sexual assault. In the absence of that fluid, a second round of testing might look with much more sensitive tests looking for small traces f evidence, which is non-semen, that may have been left behind, such as scrapings of skin cells that may be found under fingernails.

KAGAN: Help us understand some of the terminology. We hear DNA match and sometimes we hear there's consistent information. What does that mean? Match versus consistent?

STOLOROW: DNA testing is a very exacting and highly unique identifying test when it is done properly and when the DNA profile is a complete profile. That means all of the DNA markers which are being tested for give a result which can then be compared with the known DNA profile from an individual, such as the suspect.

If, however, only a portion of that profile is detected, say, of a dozen DNA markers we find only half of those markers present, then it's not as unique in the identification, and consequently, even if the test nay match only one in 10,000 or 100,000 people in a country, the size of 270 million people there might statistically be other people.

KAGAN: So can that be used in court?

STOLOROW: Yes, of course. And remember that in a case where you have a limited potential population where you are looking at 46 people as a potential donor. If those samples don't match those 46 they are excluded with absolute certainty.

If, on the other hand, you have a match to one of the 46 and the other 45 are excluded, since the population of people you begin with is only a couple dozen people, there's a lot of relevance to finding a match with one of those individuals who are being charged.

KAGAN: I know DNA is your business, but we heard the prosecutor in this case say just because there's no DNA doesn't mean a crime wasn't committed. Do you agree with that?

STOLOROW: Absolutely. The DNA testing is only circumstantial evidence and DNA testing itself, while extremely probative and very helpful to a trier of fact like a jury or a judge does not determine innocence or guilt. That is a determination that is made based on all of the evidence in the case.

KAGAN: We will be watching what comes out on Tuesday.

Mark Stolorow, thank you so much for your expertise on DNA.

STOLOROW: Thank you, Daryn.

KAGAN: An alibi witness lands in the Duke investigation lands in legal trouble himself and the defense now is calling foul.

A cab driver has been arrested on an old shoplifting warrant. He's accused of stealing purses from a department store. He denies it. The cabby seemed to provide one of the Duke suspects with an alibi. He picked up the lacrosse player around the time of the alleged rape. The defense says the arrest mounts to intimidation.

Illegal favors for friends on partisan politics? Kentucky jurors may decide their governor's fate.

Governor Ernie Fletcher has been indicted. He's accused of handing out state jobs to supporters. The case was brought by the Democratic attorney general. Fletcher is trying to get him talks with the case. The charges are misdemeanors, but the governor would have to step down if he is convicted.

Well, it's all the rage in Havana, a soap opera that tackles a taboo subject. We'll tune in as Cuba comes out on LIVE TODAY.


KAGAN: Let's check out the latest numbers on Wall Street. A down day on this Friday. The Dow -- the market's have been open 52 minutes. You can see the Dow down 39, 40 Points. The NASDAQ is also headed south. It is down ten points.

Well, Mother's Day is just two days away and counting and if you want to give your mom something that lasts longer than flowers or candy, how about some financial independence.

Our personal finance editor Gerri Willis has her "Top 5" tips.

GERRIS WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Mother's Day is right around the corner and instead of flowers why don't you give her something she'll treasure for a life time, financial security.

In "Five Tips" we tell you what you can do to make it a holiday she'll always remember.

Tip number one, make sure she has a living will. A living will lets people know how to carry out her wishes if she can't communicate them herself.

You can have a lawyer write one for her or download a free copy AT or call 800-989-will.

Tip number two, encourage her to checkup on her retirement.

You'll want to make sure that her nest egg is growing. Check out retirement calculator at t. Rowe price or AARP. Some rebalancing may number order.

And tip number three, since Medicare does not cover long-term care expenses, you may choose to investigate long-term care coverage.

This kind of insurance will defray costs of a nursing home, Hospice or home care. Premiums can be pricey and policies are riddled with fine print. For more information on long-term care coverage, call the areas on age at 146800-677-1116.

And tip number four, protect her biggest asset, her home.

Your mom has probably lived up in the same house for a while, building up equity. Make sure her insurance is up to date and don't forget the treasures and valuables mom may have stored all these years. It might be worth your while to get extra insurance for those items.

And finally, if mom has questions you can't answer, think about getting her financial support. You can contact the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers at, or log on to the for a network of financial planners around the country that offer services by the hour.

I'm Gerri Willis and that's "5 Tips".

KAGAN: This reminder, Gerri wants to hear from you. Send your questions or ideas to

Leaving on a jet plane? Don't know when your luggage will be back again? That's a bummer. One airport has a high-tech answer for you and we'll tell you where and how when CNN LIVE TODAY continues.

Also, weekends, poolside, on the beach and in your yard. Summer plans that could cost you your life. A top dermatologist takes your questions about skin cancer ahead on LIVE TODAY.

Let's take a look right now at some editorial pages from a few newspapers across the country. Their opinions on phone records and privacy


KAGAN: Breaking news out of Washington State.

Carol Lin has details for us. -- Carol.

LIN: Let's take you to the Cascade Mountains right now where there's a building on fire. Not just any building. This is a mountaineer's lodge. It's a 57-year-old hotel essentially that is listed on the state's historic registry.

The place is clearly burning to the ground. There's also a couple of vehicles in that fire. They don't know how it started. It is surrounded by snow so that fire is not spreading.

This is the Snoqualmie Pass for any of you interested in hiking or skiing. Many of you have been there and may even know this building, but obviously, unsalvageable at this point, Daryn.

KAGAN: It's so sad. I bet there's people watching that have many great family vacations there.

LIN: Yes, you bet. I think the season is just about over out there. No word on whether any guests were staying there. I think it may have been empty at the time because we're not hearing about any injuries.

KAGAN: Well, as we get more information and more pictures, we'll come back to you.

Carol, thank you.


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