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Bush Signs Safe Port Act Into Law; North Korea Threat

Aired October 13, 2006 - 10:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. That's about all the time we have. No more four-hour shows for us. Tony Harris and Heidi Collins are going to take it from now on. They'll be on from 9:00 Eastern till 10:00 a.m.
Thanks for dropping by, Betty.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, it's been a pleasure.

In fact, Tony Harris and Heidi Collins are here right now as NEWSROOM begins. Have a great day, everybody.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.


Watch events unfold live right here, Friday, the 13th of October.

Here's what's on the rundown this hour.

President Bush about to sign a bill on port security. Tucked inside something we bet gamblers won't like. We want to go, in fact, live to Washington right this moment.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And our ports. The Safe Port Act will make this nation more prepared, more prosperous and more secure. I want to thank the Congress for its good work. I'm pleased that key members of the Senate and the House have joined me here today and I want to thank you for being here.

I first want to thank the secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, for his service to the country. I appreciate the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist who's joined us. I'm pleased that Senator Susan Collins, who's the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has joined us. She is one of the sponsors of the bill. As is Peter King, who's the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. These two members are strong, strong chairmen and they're doing a fine job to help us protect this country. I appreciate very much Senator Bob Bennett and Senator Patty Murray and Senator Norm Coleman for joining us, as well as Congressman Dan Lundrick (ph).

The most solemn responsibility of the federal government is to protect the American people. And since September the 11th, the administration, the Congress have worked together and we've led an unprecedented effort to safeguard our homeland. We learned the lessons of that attack. We more than tripled spending on homeland security.

We've created a federal Department of Homeland Security with a single mission, to protect the American people. We've trained and equipped hundreds of thousands of state and local first responders. We've worked with public agencies and private companies to improve security at airports and aboard commercial airliners. We've strengthened protections at bridges and tunnels and other critical infrastructure. We have a responsibility to protect the homeland and we're meeting that responsibility.

Protecting our homeland requires protecting our borders. Since I took office, we more than doubled funding for border security from $4.6 billion in 2001 to $9.5 billion in 2006. We've increased the number of border patrol agents from around 9,000 to a little more than 12,000. We've upgraded technology and infrastructure along the border. We've apprehended and sent home more than 6 million people entering America illegally. This is important progress, but we've got a lot more work to do.

Last week in Arizona, I signed a bill that will allow us to hire 1,500 more border patrol agents, deploy advanced technology like ground-based radar and infrared cameras, add beds in our detention facilities so we can work to end catch and release. Congress also passed a bill that will authorize the construction of about 700 miles of double-layered fencing along our southern border. I'm going to sign that bill into law.

I will continue to work with Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that protects our country, enforces our laws and upholds our values. Protecting our homeland also requires protecting our sea ports. Our sea ports are a gateway to commerce, a source of opportunity and a provider of jobs. Our ports could also be a target of a terrorist attack. And we're determine to protect them.

Since September the 11th, we've launched a series of new efforts to improve port security. We worked with Congress to pass the Maritime Transportation Security Act, which required American ports and vessels to adopt strict, new security measures. We made wider use of intelligence to screen cargo and target suspicious containers for inspection. We worked with foreign partners to improve their security procedures. And with the bill I sign today, we renew a clear commitment, we will work tirelessly to keep our nation safe and our ports open for business.

The Safe Port Act will build on progress and help us protect our ports in three keys ways. First, the Safe Port Act will strengthen physical security measures at our ports by helping us harness the power of technology. The bill authorizes the development of 21st century inspection equipment so that customs agents can check inside cargo containers for dangerous materials without having to open them. The bill also requires radiation detection technology at our 22 busiest ports by the end of next year.

America has the best technology in the world, and with this bill we'll apply that technology to make our ports the safest in the world. Second, the Safe Port Act provides legislative authority for key elements of our port security strategy. The bill codifies into law the Container Security Initiative, which we launched in 2002. Through this initiative, we have deployed American inspectors to dozens of foreign ports on five continents where they are screening cargo before it leaves for our country.

The bill also codifies into law the Customs Trade Partnership against Terrorism, a joint effort between the public and private sectors to improve cargo security. Under this partnership, private shippers agree to improve their own security measures and, in return, they can receive benefits, including expedited clearance through our ports. And the bill provides additional authority for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which we established to guard against the threat of terrorists smuggling a nuclear device into our country. All these efforts are smart, they're working and with this bill they're here to stay.

Finally, the Safe Port Act requires the Department of Homeland Security to establish a plan to speed the resumption of trade in the event of a terrorist attack on our ports or waterways. This bill makes clear that the federal government has the authority to clear waterways, identify cleanup equipment, and re-establish the flow of commerce following a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent an attack. But if a terrorists succeed in launching an attack, we'll be ready to respond.

We take these steps to improve our port security, and, as we do so, we thank the hard-working Americans who protect our people day in and day out. We're grateful to the Coast Guard's men and women, the customs and border protection officers, our port workers and managers, state and local law enforcement officers and all those in the private sector who do their part to keep America safe. We're going to protect our ports. We're going to defend this homeland. And we're going to win the war on terror.

With that, I'm now pleased to sign the Safe Port Act into law.

HARRIS: There you have it. The president signing into law H.R. 4954, also known as the Safe Port Act, at the White House today. Is this a huge -- Kathleen Koch, this is a huge bill, $6.7 billion in funding to secure U.S. ports against terrorist attacks. Talk us through some of the elements of this new law.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, it is a very large expenditure, but it's also got a huge job. We're talking 361 ports throughout the country. Of course, as the president mentioned, much of the spending is going to be focused on the 22 largest ports that handle roughly 96, 97 percent of all the goods that come and go in the United States.

The president talked about radiological screening, top technology that will be put in at those ports. Right now, only roughly 65 percent of cargo containers that go through those ports, come into the U.S., are screened for nuclear or radiological material. By the end of this year, that will go up to 80 percent. And the goal, then, by the end of 2007 is for it to reach 100 percent. Another measure for the first time, all the workers at all 361 ports in the U.S. will have to pass background checks and get official credentials so that they can be easily identified. And that, many people believe, is a big step forward. Something that's required, obviously, of workers at airports, but has not been required at the nation's ports at this point.

Another matter is $400 million each year will be devoted to training, special security exercises at the ports, so that they can be ready just in case someone does try something. They will go through scenarios and rehearse and exercise to prevent any kind of terrorist attack.

Then there will be some pilot projects also set up at ports overseas to test technology, to conduct non-intrusive inspection of cargo. That very important so it doesn't have to be opened, doesn't have to be damaged, but then can still enter the United States safely.

And, Tony, this was a bill that had a lot of bipartisan support in Congress, passed the House near unanimously, passed the Senate by a voice vote. So, again, the president believes he has quite a victory on this one.

HARRIS: Hey, Kathleen, what was going on behind the scenes with this bill, now law, that led to some other amendments and we -- one in particular, the president didn't mention, the Internet gambling language that is now a part of law.

KOCH: Well, Tony, this is one of those very popular pieces of the legislation that can become, as they say on Capitol Hill, a Christmas tree, so people fasten on to it other things that they want to get passed. And one of those is something to toughen Internet gambling restrictions. And what the president signed will now prohibit gamblers in the United States from paying off their wagers using credit cards, checks or electronic transfers. We spoke to Press Secretary Tony Snow about that in the briefing this morning. He said the president supports that. That's why he signed it.

HARRIS: At the White House for us, Kathleen Koch.

Kathleen, appreciate it. Thank you.

KOCH: You bet.

HARRIS: Let's talk a little bit more about this Internet gambling. It is really big business. That provision in the Port Security Bill makes it harder for gamblers to cover their losses. It prevents them from using credit cards, checks or electronic transfers to pay debts. That could take a huge chunk out of a soaring industry. By some estimates, Americans bet nearly $6 billion over the Internet in 2005. Online gamblers have to know when to fold them, Heidi. There's no commission to protect consumers from excess losses or fraud.

COLLINS: Heidi? HARRIS: Critics of Internet gambling say children can play since there's no sufficient way to verify ages. And they point out that online players can gamble 24 hours a day. CNN "Security Watch" keeps you up-to-date on safety. Stay tuned day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

COLLINS: New developments this hour on that reported nuclear test by North Korea. Want to go straight to the Pentagon now. Our Barbara Starr has the very latest.

So, Barbara, did they or didn't they test a nuclear weapon?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, now, Heidi, it turns out there's three choices, did they, didn't they or will we ever know. And it's becoming clear that it's choice number three, we may never know at this point. U.S. officials with access to classified information are now telling CNN, confirming, that so far their latest data shows no presence of radioactive debris. Let's briefly explain.

On October 10th, the day after the event in North Korea, the U.S. flew one of its spy planes in the region, the WC-135. It's called the Constant Phoenix. It does air sampling. The results are now back and officials say the results of the air sampling from this aircraft indicate no presence of radioactive debris in the atmosphere.

So what does that mean? Well, it could mean several things, apparently. It could mean that the underground test was so small no radioactive debris is picked up. It could mean that the North Koreans successfully sealed up the site underground and no radioactive debris escaped. It could mean that it wasn't a nuclear test at all and it was simply an explosion of conventional weapons. It could also mean that the sensors just weren't in the right place.

So they will continue to try and do air sampling, as well as ground sampling. But as time goes on, it's going to be tougher and tougher to pick up any signs of radioactive debris. And officials are saying at this point, they simply may never know.

It's not really going to change the national security problem at all, of course. The U.N. still today moving very briskly to try and pressure member states to agree on sanctions for North Korea. But in terms of the U.S. intelligence community, the problem for them now is, they can't really figure out exactly what North Korea has in terms of nuclear capability and that's going to be a very tough problem.


COLLINS: As it has been in the past. All right. Barbara Starr from the Pentagon this morning.

Thank you, Barbara.

STARR: Sure.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, Britain's army chief wants his troops out of Iraq some time soon. How soon is soon? Well, that's just part of the uproar. Lots of confusion here. We'll have a live report ahead in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Take a look at this. An October surprise.

COLLINS: Oh, yes.

HARRIS: Nothing to do with politics.

You love this stuff, don't you?

COLLINS: Love it.

HARRIS: You skier, you. And everything to do with snow. And a lot of it.

COLLINS: And that shocking plane crash in New York. Investigators still searching for clues. We'll tell you what's been found. And a strange turn in the story. That's coming up next in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Fredricka Whitfield is following a developing story for us out of Florida in the NEWSROOM.

And, Fred, this is pretty disturbing.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A very gruesome discovery being reported by the Associated Press, saying that four bodies had been found along the Florida turnpike in St. Lucie County. According to the sheriff's office, a witness told state troopers of the bodies. That being of a man, a woman, a boy and a girl. No other information is being provided at this point. The investigation is still underway. It is just still unclear as to what kind of circumstances may have led to these four bodies being found. But police are responding to the tip by an eyewitness and now trying to do their investigative work to find out exactly what happened.


HARRIS: I know you'll continue to follow this for us. Fred, appreciate it. Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN, your severe weather headquarters.

COLLINS: That being said, forget the fall foliage, I guess. Look at this. White seems to be the primary color in western New York right now. An early October snow storm has blindsided the region. And we are not talking about flurries. As much as two feet of snow has fallen in parts of Buffalo. Hundreds of thousands of people, in fact, without power now now. Roads are shut down. Schools are closed. History has also been made. The storm breaks a nearly 89- year-old record. Thursday now Buffalo's snowiest October day ever.

Chad Myers joining me with more on that.


HARRIS: We are in the mail bag this morning with Gerri Willis.

COLLINS: We are. Yes.

HARRIS: Gerri, good morning.

COLLINS: Hi, Gerri.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Good to see you guys.

Hey, we're going to solve the case of the gas snatchers.

Plus, we'll tell you what you can't donate to charity anymore. That's coming up next on "Top Tips."


COLLINS: Looking at the big board again this Friday morning. It is Friday the 13th, you know. I don't want to project anything. The Dow down 25 points so far. Still, the average is sitting there incredibly high as of late. Nasdaq, though, going the other way, up one point. But, remember, it's only 10:30. So we'll be watching that throughout the day.

HARRIS: It is Friday. Time for Gerri Willis to answer your e- mails, right to the e-mail bag. Good questions this week. Everything from taxes to pets. Personal finance editor Gerri Willis.

Hey, Gerri, good to see you.

WILLIS: Hey, Tony, good to see you.

Hit me with that first question.

HARRIS: Yes, you want to dive right in?


HARRIS: OK. Flora wants to know, oh this is good, "can a gas pump 'trick' my gas (gauge)," in the car, "into showing as full? I fill up my tank on Sunday night and by Monday morning it is one quart short of a full tank." What do you think?

WILLIS: Well, don't we all feel this way, that there's just not enough gas in our tank and we have to pay for more?

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

WILLIS: It's likely, though, just a quart. Gas needle indicators are not very accurate, especially in older cars. That's according to some experts we talked to. Now sometimes low fuel levels will show even though there's no fuel consumption. And, of course, another factor may be contributing to your misreading is the weather. If you fill up your tank when it's hot out, the volume of gas will be less.

HARRIS: Yes, that makes sense. OK.

Linda from Mesa, Arizona, writes, Gerri, "I just read the Pension Protection Act requires that all charity tax deductions must be backed up with proof. When will this change happen?"

WILLIS: That's right. You need to have a credit card statement, a canceled check, or some kind of written acknowledgment from the charity now if you want to have a charitable tax deduction. And that means you can't deduct those few dollars you dropped in the collection bucket somewhere without a receipt.

Another change, you have to submit an appraisal form to the IRS with your tax return if you donate anything over $500. And, Tony, forget about writing off those old shoes you dropped off. It won't work. Now you can only take deductions for clothes and items that are in good condition. The effective date of these changes, January, 2007.

HARRIS: 2007. OK.

And Kevin. One last question, Kevin from Vienna, Virginia, writes. Well, actually we have a couple of questions. But this one is from Kevin who writes, "in two months I'll be 18 and I want to choose an IRA fund. What should I do?"

WILLIS: Well, first of all, hazaa (ph) for Kevin, right?


WILLIS: He's not even 18, he's worried about retirement.

HARRIS: That's great.

WILLIS: Now if you have a full or a part-time job, an IRA, great idea. And you can put away up to $4,000 a year. Now since your income is likely going to increase over your working life, getting a Roth IRA is a better idea than a traditional one. You'll save a whole lot more money down the road because you won't have to pay taxes when you take the money out.

But, you'll want to do your homework. Check out and look at total market index funds. Now these funds will give you the most diversity in your portfolio. Call the companies you're interested in and make sure you aren't charged any additional expenses for the fund other than standard operating costs.

And, Tony, you know we don't just get questions from outside CNN.

HARRIS: Really?

WILLIS: We get some from inside.

HARRIS: Oh, come on.

WILLIS: Yes. Vicky Russell (ph).

Vicky, you know, you . . .

HARRIS: Our producer, yes.

WILLIS: Yes. She wanted to know about the benefits of pet insurance. And I've got to say, you know, we were talking about benefits. Look at this. Benefits offered to you in your place of work. And while some companies do offer pet insurance as part of benefits, it's not all that common. And this kind of insurance will probably cost you more money than it will save you. Premiums alone can be thousands of dollars and we're not even talking about deductibles and co-pays. But if you still want to go the distance for Mr. Bigglesworth (ph), make sure the pet insurance company your considering is registered with your state legislature.

And, of course, keep those letters, cards, e-mails coming. Send us an e-mail to

HARRIS: Gerri, good to see you. Have a great weekend.

WILLIS: Good to see you. You too.


COLLINS: Hey, Tony, just want to remind everybody, and you, just in case you forget, October 16th, Monday, show up earlier.

HARRIS: What's going on? What is this, a daylight savings time, move the clock forward, fall back, spring ahead?

COLLINS: No, no, no, this is for the rest of your natural life. 9:00 a.m. our show starts. Nine to noon now Eastern Time.

HARRIS: Has that been approved?

COLLINS: It has been approved. You'll be paid a whole lot more.

HARRIS: It has been? What the heck were they thinking? OK. Another hour of us?

COLLINS: It will be great. We're looking forward to it very much. So "American Morning" will go from 6:00 until 9:00 a.m. and then we will pick it up at 9:00 and go until noon. That is the plan.

HARRIS: I'll be here.

COLLINS: A firestorm over the Iraq War. Britain's army chief calls for his troops to be withdrawn soon. He describes post-war planning as poor and Prime Minister Tony Blair as naive. Then tries to do damage control. CNN's Robin Oakley has the details.


ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Britain's most senior soldiers first aired his criticisms in the tabloid daily mail. He said that the presence of British troops in Iraq was making the security situation worse rather than better and said that they had to be out of Iraq soon. General Dannatt also criticized the poor planning after the invasion of Iraq and said that it had been naive to try to spread democracy in the country.

These are devastating criticisms for Tony Blair, who has insisted on the moral right of the invasion and who has said that British troops must remain in Iraq so long as they are needed, as a contribution against the worldwide war on terror.

Mr. Blair, at Labour's conference last month, outlined this opinions on the importance of the troops remaining.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: If we retreat now, hand over Iraq to al Qaeda and sectarian death squads, Afghanistan back to al Qaeda and the Taliban, we won't be safer. We will be committing a craven act of surrender that will put our future security in the deepest peril.

OAKLEY: It is unprecedented for a senior soldier such as General Dannatt, the chief of the defense staff, to air these kind of criticisms of the government's main line of foreign policy. But military experts say that he is reflecting a feeling among British troops, although he did defend the action in Afghanistan.

On Friday, facing a wider media, General Dannatt repeated some of his criticisms, though he insisted that he saw eye-to-eye with Tony Blair and was not advocating immediate withdrawal of British troops.

The problem for Tony Blair is that he's already being forced out of office sooner than he wants to go next year because of his policies on Iraq. General Dannatt's criticisms will embolden the critics of the war. They will probably make the opposition parties who've supported the operations in Iraq less steadfast in doing so in the future, and they certainly deal a massive blow to the prime minister's authority.

Robin Oakley, CNN, St. Andrew's, Scotland.


HARRIS: Delicate diplomacy. The U.N. weighs its move against North Korea. Mistakes and the stumbling blocks. We talk with a man who helped develop U.S. strategy on North Korea in the 1990s. That is next in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Want to take you straight to Florida now, where we have received some very disturbing information about four bodies being discovered along the turnpike there, two of them children.

Our Fredricka Whitfield has been following this story. Fred, what are you hearing now?

WHITFIELD: Horrifying discoveries made by an eyewitness who then called the state troopers to let them know about the discoveries of four bodies. A man, a woman, a little boy and a little girl, ages 4 and 6, found just in that grassy area just off the Florida turnpike in Saint Lucie County. Right now, authorities, as you can see, on the scene.

They are reportedly saying through the Associated Press, and our local affiliates down on the ground there, are saying that the four bodies suffered multiple gunshot wounds. And WPTV Television, our affiliate there, is reporting that because of their defensive posture of the bodies, police have reason to believe that they were shot at this scene.

No identities have been released as of yet. The turnpike does have traffic cameras, and authorities are there to review any kind of tape, any kind of activity that may have been captured on these cameras, to help them solve the crime here.

Because, clearly, an active crime scene right now, it just -- taking place at about 7:00 this morning Eastern time when the discoveries were made, after an eyewitness then called state troopers. So when we get more information about this very gruesome discovery, very disturbing crime scene, we'll be able to bring that to you

COLLINS: Boy, that's for sure. All right, Fred. Thanks so much. We'll check back with you in just a few moments.

HARRIS: The Foley story today. He says he tried to stop ex- Congressman Mark Foley from e-mailing a former page. Today, Representative John Shimkus tells his story to house investigators. Shimkus is the chairman of the board that oversees the page program. He says he confronted Foley last fall after learning about what's been called overly friendly e-mails to the former page.

Foley's former chief of staff testified before the ethics panel yesterday. Kirk Fordham and his lawyer wouldn't discuss his testimony. Fordham has said he warned House Speaker Dennis Hastert's office years ago about Foley. Hastert's office disputes that.

A lobbying scandal claiming its first casualty in Congress. Ohio Republican Bob Ney expected to plead guilty this hour to taking bribes. A month ago, he signed papers admitting to charges of conspiracy and making false statements. Prosecutors want a 27-month sentence. The charges against Ney stem from the investigation into disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He has admitted to fraud. Abramoff is cooperating with prosecutors.

COLLINS: The diplomats say the U.N. Security Council could vote on sanctions against North Korea as early as tomorrow. The U.S. wanted a vote by the end of today, but it appears Russia and China want a delay to tinker with the resolution's wording. What's at stake, as the world decides about what to do about North Korea's nuclear threat?

With us in Washington is Daniel Poneman. He was a key player in developing President Clinton's framework, the Agreed Framework, for North Korea in the 1990s, 1994 to be specific. Thanks for being with us, Daniel. Quickly, could you lay out for us what these sanctions entail, exactly?

DANIEL PONEMAN, FMR. NAT'L SECURITY COUNCIL: Yes, it's been a subject of negotiation. The first thing -- and you heard the president refer to this in the Rose Garden remarks he made the other day -- is sanctions that will apply specifically to any activities that North Korea would undertake in the nuclear and missile areas, and any trade that any other country might have with North Korea in those areas.

Secondly, there are sanctions on heavy arms that would be traffic, potentially, in or out of North Korea. And also certain other luxury goods.

COLLINS: All right. So, why is it so important -- put it in perspective for us, if you could -- to move quickly to get this resolution passed?

PONEMAN: Because, Heidi, I think the most important thing right now is to show North Korea a clear and convincing sense of unanimous world concern, and dedication to prompt action. I think it's far more important in this first instance that the permanent five in the U.N. Security Council come together on an agreed text and issue that to North Korea rather than haggle for weeks about what might be in or out of this particular set of sanctions.

COLLINS: So, given how close you were specifically to the Agreed Framework in 1994, tell us how this approach is different, stronger, better?

PONEMAN: Well, it's radically different. I think one critical difference that we have to keep in mind, Heidi, is that right now, North Korea is still producing more and more plutonium. We had a better tactical situation at that time, because we had the North Koreans locked into a freeze. That gave them the anxiety and the sense of urgency to move off of the dime.

Right now, North Korea can keep doing what its doing, and until we ratched up the pressure to the point where they will real pain, they don't have such incentive to move. So the critical issue now is, will this set of sanctions and this sanctions course give them that degree of pressure?

COLLINS: All right, Daniel, I had a little bit of trouble hearing you there, so forgive me.

But let me ask you about a meeting that we are aware of between President Bush and the Chinese state counselor, where there was a little bit of discussion here. Obviously we have heard many, many times the president say that he is not going to meet with the North Korean leader, but when you meet with another country, who is hopefully going to put some pressure on his neighbor, and it's not the president of China, it's just a state counselor, does that say anything? PONEMAN: I think it does. It's, as you know, very, very evolved set of protocols as to who the president will and will not see in terms of level in another country. I think the fact that this meeting occurred is significant, and I think what it means is that the U.S. and China are working even more closely than under normal circumstances to try to concert a common position.

COLLINS: Is North Korea going to abide by any sanctions, no matter what shape or form they may take?

PONEMAN: I think under those terms, Heidi, possibly, yes. In other words, if China and South Korea, the countries most in contact and giving the most benefit to North Korea, will really comply with an overall sanctions approach, I think the North Koreans could feel enough pain that they would be concerned enough to perhaps relent in their nuclear progress.

COLLINS: And certainly, Daniel, one country that we just certainly cannot ignore in all of this is Iran. What are they thinking as these sanctions may be worked into action?

PONEMAN: You can bet that the Iranians are watching this very, very closely, indeed. And I think they're going to watch it as a metric for how capable the P-5 and the rest of the international community are in trying to knuckle under a nuclear program that is a threat to the rest of the world.

COLLINS: Daniel Poneman, we appreciate your time here today very much.

PONEMAN: Thank you.

HARRIS: Fredricka Whitfield is following developments in this horrible story out of Florida.

Fred, what's the latest?

WHITFIELD: Horrible discovery of four bodies along the Florida turnpike. On the line with me now is St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara who can give perhaps give us a little more detail about what is being discovered in the early phases now of this investigation.

Sheriff Mascara, thanks for your time.

You got a phone call from a witness who said they saw these four bodies just lying alongside the Florida turnpike there. Have you questioned this witness as to whether they have anything to do with the discovery?

SHERIFF KEN MASCARA, ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Yes, we have, and the witness has nothing to do with discovery. He, in fact, thought it was just one person, when, in fact, when our deputies arrived, there were four people there.

WHITFIELD: And when you got there, describe for me what you were able to see. MASCARA: Well, what we know now -- and this is the preliminary look at it -- is we have what appears to be a Hispanic family. They were shot multiple times and left on the roadway here in St. Lucie County.

The area where this occurred is just south of the Fort Pierce exit on the turnpike. Now, a lot of people know where Fort Pierce is, because it is the intersection of both I-95 and the Florida Turnpike, and that's a common stopping ground for travelers.

I would ask your listeners if they know of anybody that might be missing this morning or have seen something suspicious along the Florida turnpike this morning to please call our detectives, and I have a phone number for you. That phone number is 772-462-3230 -- repeating, 772-462-3230.

WHITFIELD: And, sheriff, the fact that you all have cameras along certain parts of the turnpike, how about this particular area, and will those camera views help?

MASCARA: The cameras that were posted along this area of the turnpike are live fed; they are not recorded, and they are only put on when and if asked by either law enforcement or motorists. So the camera in this area was not on at the time that we think the death occurred.

WHITFIELD: So you really are relying on anyone who has information, seeing anything unusual at that time. Any idea whether these deaths occurred overnight? Are you able to determine how long these bodies may have been there?

MASCARA: Our time of death is from midnight until the discovery at 7:00 this morning. That's the timeframe right now. Our medical examiner has just picked up the bodies and will be conducting an autopsy this afternoon which will give us a better idea. But right now that's the timeframe we're working on.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sheriff Mascara, I want to repeat the number for anyone who may have been in this area near the I-95 intersection with the turnpike there in St. Lucie, right near the Fort Pierce exit. If you witnessed anything between midnight and 7:00 a.m. this morning unusual, call 772-462-3230, 772-462-3230.

Sheriff Ken Mascara, thank you so much for your time.

COLLINS: Fredricka, thanks so much for that. We know you will stay on top of it for us. Boy, what an awful, awful thing to come across and obviously what happened to them. We are going to try to get to the bottom of it the best we can in the very same day that it was discovered.

So moving on now, that shocking plane crash in New York, investigators are still looking for clues, of course, investigation ongoing. We will tell you, though, what has been found, and a strange turn in the story as well, coming up in the NEWSROOM. HARRIS: And how about this? An October surprise. Nothing to do with politics and everything to do with snow. Feet of snow in Buffalo. Did it shut down the city? We're talking about Buffalo. Of course not.

COLLINS: Kind of shut them down a little bit, though.

HARRIS: We're going to check in with Chad Myers in just a couple of minutes here in the NEWSROOM.



HARRIS: Still to come, the plane crash in New York City. Investigators searching for clues.

COLLINS: We will tell you, though, what has been found in a strange turn in the story in just a moment, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: And welcome back, everyone. We are just learning, and CNN has confirmed, that Ohio Representative Bob Ney has entered, as expected, a guilty plea to bribery charges connected to the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal. Bob Ney entering that plea today to charges that he accepted thousands of dollars in meals, sporting tickets, casino chips and travel, including what's described as a lavish golfing trip to Scotland, from lobbyists in exchange for official favors.

We also are anticipating that he will resign his congressional seat later today. So once again, Ohio Representative Bob Ney has pleaded guilty to bribery charges in the Jack Abramoff influence- peddling scandal. We're also getting new information at this moment that while we expect that he will resign his congressional seat, we're hearing from his attorney that that will not happen today, that it may happen in the next week or so. , that news just into CNN.

COLLINS: All right. Some more news, just in to CNN, now regarding Air America, Radio Air America.

Fredricka Whitfield has that -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Well, Heidi, just two years after promising to shake up the radio airwaves, Air America, a liberal talk and news radio network, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The network had apparently denied rumors just about a month ago that it would file for bankruptcy. But today Air America said negotiations with a creditor from the company's early days had broken down. And so the network will promise to stay on the air as long as it can and as long as it tries to resolve these issues with its creditors -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, Fredricka, thank you for that. We'll check back later, should that situation develop any more within the hour. Meanwhile, searching for clues in the tragic plane crash in New York. Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor slammed into a high-rise apartment building Wednesday. Investigators are still scouring the crash site for pieces of the plane. Among the parts they have found so far, a bent memory chip and a navigation panel. Officials say the plane's propellers were turning on impact. That indicates, of course, that the engine was giving power to them and was working.

Now, a bizarre twist, though, to the story. "The New York Daily News" says the luxury apartment that took a direct hit in the crash belongs to a woman who is no stranger to bizarre accidents. You might recall the 1997 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Remember this? A balloon knocked part of a lamppost down, critically injuring this woman. The woman pictured there, Kathleen Caronna, reportedly lives in the gutted apartment. She was lucky enough, though, to not be in her home at the time of the crash.

HARRIS: Oh, my goodness.

COLLINS: Unbelievable. I very well remember that.

HARRIS: Yes, yes, yes. But is that not the eerie Friday the 13th story of the day?

COLLINS: No kidding. No kidding. I'm glad she's all right.

HARRIS: Yes, absolutely. Take a quick break. When we come back, we will update our developing story this hour. Just a horrible story out of Florida. Four bodies discovered on the turnpike. The Florida turnpike, a Hispanic family, children involved, shot multiple times. Fredricka Whitfield will update that story with the latest information.

COLLINS: And we'll also be talking to Chad a little bit more about much happier story, lots of snow, if you like it. Big records being broken in Buffalo. More than two feet. Bad news is about 220,000 people without power. So we're going to continue to follow that story. And look at this, the pretty pictures.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.



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