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New Developments in Laci Peterson's Case; Saudi Arabia Promises to Fight Terrorism; Countries Scramble to Fight SARS

Aired May 16, 2003 - 17:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, GUEST HOST: A new development in the Laci Peterson case. Right now, searchers are back on the scene. This is a live picture of the effort under way.
WOLF BLITZER REPORTS starts right now.


PHILLIPS (voice-over): What are they looking for? Dive searchers are back to the bay in the Laci Peterson case.

Saudi Arabia, under fire, now makes a promise.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR, FOREIGN AFFAIRS ADVISER TO SAUDI ARABIA'S CROWN PRINCE: We are determined that we will prevail in the war against terrorism.

PHILLIPS: But can they?

Scramble to stop SARS.

JULIE GERBERDING, CDC DIRECTOR: There's no specific treatment yet identified for SARS.

PHILLIPS: New suspected cases surface in the U.S.

An Iraqi nuclear site looted. Are the stolen goods slowly poisoning the population?

And inside the flying White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Air Force One is the most sophisticated aircraft that any head of state uses.

PHILLIPS: A new account of the country's most important plane.


PHILLIPS: It's Friday, May 16, 2003. Hello from the CNN Center in Atlanta. I'm Kyra Phillips reporting. Wolf Blitzer is off today.

A flurry of activity in San Francisco Bay, where divers are searching for new clues in the Laci Peterson murder and one clue in particular.

CNN's Rusty Dornin is there with new details on the case -- Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, searchers launched the boats about five hours ago here in the Bay. It was crystal clear. The winds have really picked up this afternoon. In fact, they're expecting gale force winds outside the bay.

Now the boat you're looking at now is the only one that we can see that is remaining on the bay. The others appeared to have pulled up their buoys and gone back into (UNINTELLIGIBLE) coast guard station where they started from.

Now we've seen divers go overboard. Apparently, we understand the FBI dive team from New York has joined a number of police agencies in northern California with boats, side scanning sonar equipment and underwater evidence retrieval systems that operate remotely in this effort to find evidence in the Laci Peterson case.

Now it was just over a month ago that Laci Peterson's body washed up on this beach in Richmond, California, here. Her son, Connor, was found just a day before about a mile north of this beach.

Now we understand from a source very close to the investigation now that they are saying that the baby came out of her -- Laci Peterson's body, not from the birth canal, but apparently when the body came up from the bottom of the bay, the gasses and the changes in pressure caused it to burst actually from her body.

There are -- across the channel here you have a shipping channel. Sonar experts in March saw an object there on the bottom of the bay they believe was the body of Laci Peterson. They went back to look a couple of days later, but the object was gone. They believe the body may have come loose from concrete weights that it was attached to and it's those concrete weights or anchors that they're looking for. A source has told CNN that the makings of concrete anchors were discovered in Scott Peterson's warehouse. If the same makings are discovered on the bottom of San Francisco Bay with either Laci's remains or other evidence attached it could be the smoking gun in this case.

From what we understand the crews of the various police agencies in northern California have agreed to stay here until this search for the next three days -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Rusty Dornin live from Richmond, California, thank you.

And joining me from Houston to talk more about this new search and what it mean is former FBI investigators Don Clark.

Don, good to see you.

DON CLARK, FMR. FBI INVESTIGATOR: Hi, Kyra. It's good to see you.

PHILLIPS: Well, let's start with the underwater search that seems especially tough right now. How long does evidence last in conditions like these?

CLARK: Well, you know, some evidence can have a long lifetime, a long life shelf, and in this case if it's metal or something of that nature it could last forever. It may have to be cleaned off somewhat, but nonetheless it could last forever. Cement and so forth may sometimes lose some of its properties, but in by and large, it can last for awhile, so I don't think that's going to be very much of an issue for good scientists.

PHILLIPS: Does evidence that has been exposed to the elements like this prove less effective for law enforcement when it comes to trial time?

CLARK: I don't know that it's less effective, but I really think that they really have to take painstaking time and really try to get the best out of the evidence to get it to the scientist so that they can have something to work with. It's a more odious procedure when you've got evidence that's been laying around for a long time because it has had an opportunity to deteriorate and so forth and the scientists have to make sure that they separate the deterioration aspect of what foreign particles may have come from what particles that they are looking for that may be original.

PHILLIPS: Now as a veteran investigator, going back to the scene after so long, what does this say to you about the status of this investigation?

CLARK: Well, you know, Kyra, I think that an investigation of any type in and in particular one like this is that you are consistently going back to retrace your steps and revisit and revisit.

In this case, and when you look at where the body was found, where she left from, that makes for a real long crime scene. So it makes it very, very difficult, which makes it, as you suggest, perhaps a very difficult case for investigators and prosecutors. But it's the right thing to do to keep going back to the point of origin because that's where you're going to find your initial leads.

PHILLIPS: And Don, I have to ask you this. They still have not released a cause of death. Why not? That's very odd.

CLARK: Well, I think they're really waiting to try to pin that down. That may be, at this point -- depending on the condition of the body, that may be a very difficult point for them to do.

And I think, Kyra, that that's going to be the key aspect because if they could really determine a cause of death, then they might be able to determine the type of weapon used or -- as I said, the type of weapons used in this case, which is going to be significant to be able to tie that to a person who may have used these weapons.

PHILLIPS: Don Clark, former FBI investigator, also a practicing attorney. Don, always a pleasure. Thank you.

CLARK: You bet. Thank you, Kyra. PHILLIPS: Well, now to a story breaking this afternoon. Three people are dead in Greer, South Carolina, apparently the result of a bank robbery gone bad. The Greenville Office of the FBI says seven or eight agents had been sent to this bank. Officers from other law enforcement agencies were also called to the scene.

New developments in that videotaped high school hazing incident in suburban Chicago. Prosecutors have announced charges.

CNN's Whitney Casey now is here with more -- Whitney.

WHITNEY CASEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, prosecutors say they're charging 15 student, 12 girls and three boys, with misdemeanor battery.

The charges are stemming from the May 4 hazing incident that got out of control. It happened off campus at an annual powderpuff football game. Home video shows a group of junior girls being beaten and pelted with mud, paint, garbage and feces. Five of these students had to go have medical treatment. The students are being charged as adults and let's listen to this press conference earlier today.


DICK DEVINE, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS STATE'S ATTORNEY: The investigation of this activity, incident, whatever you want to call it, continues.

I want to stress that this is a situation where we do not have what you'd call a harmless prank. There were victims in this case. One victim had 10 stitches in her head. There are possible concussions. And it simply is the kind of behavior that any community cannot tolerate and will not tolerate.


CASEY: The students are being charged as adults and the punishment could include up to a year in jail, probation and $2,000 fines. Whoever provided the beer that you see in the video that some of the kids are drinking also may face charges.


DEVINE: Those who are responsible for that bear a heavy burden. Our investigation will continue, as I said, and it will focus specifically on this area of who purchased and who provided the alcohol to these young people.


CASEY: And officials say they continue to look into that anonymous tip that parents may have provided the alcohol you just saw.

Meanwhile, the school district has also taken action. It suspended 32 students for their roles in this incident and some could be expelled. And in response to this, several of them have filed lawsuits -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Our Whitney Casey, thank you so much.

Straight ahead, Americans under threat, we'll go live to Saudi Arabia where there's a new warning that al Qaeda could strike again.

Also, assault weapons in the crossfire. Executive vice president of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, will join us live.

And they're rich, they're powerful and they're the leaders of the free world. Find out how much President Bush and Vice President Cheney are really worth.


PHILLIPS: And this just in to CNN. We are being told that former President Gerald Ford has been hospitalized after getting dizzy while golfing in hot weather in Rancho Mirage, California. We have just been able to confirm this. You are looking at file video of the former president, back in 2000, not long after he had suffered a stroke.

What we can tell you is that he had a dizzy spell playing golf this morning in about 96 degree temperatures, so he was taken to the hospital, checked out, and we are told that everything seems to be OK. We are also told that he was taken to the hospital just shortly after noon and could be released soon. This is according to his assistant.

The 89-year-old former president, once again, being hospitalized after getting dizzy while playing golf in hot weather in Rancho Mirage, California.

Now, his spokeswoman for the former president, Penny Circle (ph) is quoted as saying, "I just talked to the president." She says, "he is feeling great, they're just monitoring him." So that's good news. A bit of a small scare there for the former President Gerald Ford, checking into a hospital after suffering a dizzy spell when he was playing golf in Rancho Mirage, California. We are told that he was playing this morning. It was about 96 degrees there in Rancho Mirage. The 89-year-old former president was taken to the hospital and checked in, and we are told that everything seems to be OK. This is, once again, file video of him in 1996 that we are bringing to you.

We are told that just shortly after getting to the hospital -- it happened just before noon -- we are told that's California time and that he could be released any moment.

Talking to his assistant, we are told that she just got off the phone with the former president. She says he's feeling great and right now they're just monitoring him. We'll continue to follow this story, and also how the president is doing. I am told we are working to get our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux on the either the phone or by air to update us on the condition of the president. When we get her, we'll bring her to you live with an update.

Now there's growing concern that this week's attacks in Saudi Arabia may mark the start of a new wave of terror targeting Americans there and around the world. CNN national security correspondent David Ensor with us now from Washington with the details -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, there's concern about the threat around the world, and there's a concentrated effort to figure out who gave the orders for these attacks.


ENSOR (voice-over): Well-placed U.S. sources say there is evidence that terrorists who attacked three sites in Riyadh Monday night believed they had orders to do so from the top al Qaeda leadership. The working assumption of U.S. investigators therefore is that the orders may have come from Osama bin Laden himself. But U.S. officials warn they do not have any evidence in hand so far that bin Laden himself gave a go signal for the attacks.

With some reports questioning whether the Saudis responded to American requests for better security and intelligence information, the Saudi embassy held a press conference Friday to express sorrow and resolve.

AL-JUBEIR: Have we failed? Yes, on Monday we failed. And we will learn from this mistake. We will ensure that it doesn't happen again. And if anything, this tragic events of Monday have been a massive jolt to Saudi Arabia, to the United States, to all peace- loving people around the world.

ENSOR: Al-Jubeir denied a report that White House official Stephen Hadley, when he visited Riyadh recently, brought specific intelligence about threats to housing compounds.

AL-JUBEIR: I think that that visit has been mischaracterized.

ENSOR: U.S. and Saudi sources say the two nations agreed before the attacks to set up a new secure communications system at U.S. embassy, allowing the two to share intelligence reports in greater detail and with much greater speed.

AL-JUBEIR: One of the suggestions we offered to the U.S. government about two weeks ago was just that, that we will have one unit working together instantaneously.


ENSOR: But there are more immediate concerns. The State Department warns that an attack could occur in the near future in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, probably in the Al-Hamra (ph) district, where some Americans and other Westerners live. U.S. officials are calling the intelligence leading to that warning credible if unconfirmed.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's dangerous in the world, and it's dangerous inside Saudi Arabia, and it's dangerous so long as al Qaeda continues to operate, and so we'll chase them down.


ENSOR: U.S. officials say intelligence is also raising concerns about the Gulf region in general, about Kenya, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. As the president said, it's a dangerous world, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Meanwhile, David, right now, what is being done in Saudi Arabia to beef up security?

ENSOR: There's beefed up security at a lot of the compounds where foreigners live, particularly, of course, in Jeddah, where there's this new threat information. The Saudis say that they're taking a number of measures, some of which they don't want to discuss in public, to try to assure better security. At the same time, they say there are so many soft targets in Saudi Arabia, just as there are in this country, that a truly determined suicide bomber is probably going to make his mark.

PHILLIPS: David Ensor, thank you.

Meanwhile, U.S. investigators are on the scene of Monday's attacks. CNN's senior international correspondent Sheila MacVicar is following that aspect of the story. She joins us live now from Riyadh -- Sheila.

SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Kyra. Yes, FBI officials have been on the ground here in Saudi Arabia for about 24 hours or so. This, of course, being the Islamic holy day, not a lot of work in terms of going forward with the actual investigation, and some liaison meetings, I'm told, with various Saudi officials as they prepare and plan and listen to what the Saudis have learned so far.

There is increased security throughout the kingdom -- roadblocks, for example, in the capital of Riyadh, with drivers being checked as the police continue to search for those missing 19. Of course, we don't yet know the identities of the people, of the terrorists who died in the attacks on Monday night, but it is believed that at least some of the 19 were amongst the perpetrators of those attacks. But again, no identities so far.

But in terms of one of the compounds, indeed, one of the compounds that was indeed named by the U.S. ambassador to Saudi authorities as being of specific concern in the days before it was attacked on Monday night, there was increased security presence there with Royal Saudi Air Force guards with heavy machine guns in the back of pickup trucks. American residents there told me that that was the kind of security that they'd wished they'd had there on Monday night. There is indeed a great deal of jitteriness remaining in the Western community. Many people here are saying that they are thinking about packing up and going home -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Sheila MacVicar, live from Riyadh, thank you.

We have more now on former President Gerald Ford's condition. Suzanne Malveaux live at the White House. What can you tell us, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I just spoke with his spokeswoman, Penny Circle (ph), just moments ago, and here is how she described what happened. She said it was about 11:30 in the morning local time that the former president was playing golf. It was in Rancho Mirage, California, where it happened. That was where she says he experienced what she called "a dizzy spell," and Secret Service immediately rushed him to a local hospital. She says that it was 96 degrees outside, that the heat contributed to this, but the president had undergone a battery of tests, that he was being monitored. She says that everything is OK, that he's been checked out, and it is expected that he will be released momentarily. All of this coming just within the last half hour or so -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Suzanne, thank you. It sounds like we have got to make sure that the former president is drinking plenty of water next time he's playing golf in the 90s. All right, thank you, Suzanne.

Well, in defense of assault weapons, the head of the NRA explains they why they shouldn't be banned by Congress.

Plus, falling ill in Iraq. Radiation sickness hits a small town plagued by looting.

And SARS in America. Local health workers race against time to keep an epidemic under wraps.


PHILLIPS: Viewers are speaking out on a segment we aired yesterday concerning the federal ban on assault weapons. The 1994 ban could expire in September 2004 if Congress doesn't extend it.

Now here's a sampling of your viewer e-mail.

From David in Calhoun, Georgia: "It's not the weapon which has the knockdown power, it's the ammo."

From Andrei in Washington, D.C.: "You made no mention that many Americans legally own fully automatic weapons with a special permit."

And from Jim in San Francisco: "Your sources implied that assault weapons are more powerful than currently legal guns, but it appeared that the only functional distinction was in the size of the clip."

We want to thank our viewers for their feedback and for viewers who didn't watch yesterday, we asked the Broward County, Florida's sheriff's office for a demonstration of the assault weapon. The deputy fired an illegal weapon at cinder blocks and bulletproof vests and you can see the impact here. And then the deputy fired a legal weapon, but the deputy did not fire at the cinder blocks so you could not see similar damage the ammunition would have caused.

Also yesterday on the program former L.A. police chief, Bernard Parks, who's in favor of keeping assault weapons illegal, gave his opinion.


BERNARD PARKS, FORMER L.A. POLICE CHIEF: There's only one reason for it and you cannot hunt with it. It's only one reason and that is that it kills people. It's a military weapon. It should be kept in a military arsenal and out of the domestic society.


PHILLIPS: Now we give you the other side from the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre

Wayne, thanks for being with us.


PHILLIPS: Well, if the ban on assault weapons expires, what kind of weapons would be legal?

LAPIERRE: Kyra, let me say this to start: I'm glad you ran the story because apparently the only difference between "The New York Times" and CNN is that when a reporter for "The New York Times" fakes a story, he's fired, and at CNN he's not.

Your bureau chief, John Zarrella, deliberately faked the story yesterday and intending to show that the performance characteristics of banned firearms on the list are somehow different from the performance characteristics of firearms not on the banned list. He was -- he was implying that these were machine guns or fully automatic guns. That's not true.

PHILLIPS: Mr. LaPierre, I have to stop you there. No one fakes stories at CNN and John Zarrella definitely did not fake a story at CNN. You're very off base. I'm going to let you say your opinion, and let's have a conversation, but don't accuse our reporter of faking any stories, sir.

LAPIERRE: Let me say it again. In front of the whole country, your reporter faked that story yesterday. It deliberately misread...

PHILLIPS: All right, we're going...

LAPIERRE: There's no way it could be true and I challenge CNN to defend it.

PHILLIPS: Well, we're not going to continue this interview because our reporter did not fake...

LAPIERRE: Because you don't want the truth. The truth you don't want out there.

PHILLIPS: OK, that is not true. We did not a fake a story.

LAPIERRE: You ought to register your -- you ought to fill out a lobby form and register.

PHILLIPS: Why don't we ask another question? What are the uses for an assault weapon? Tell me what the uses are for this.

LAPIERRE: Why can't you accept the truth? There is no difference, Kyra, in the performance characteristics of the guns on the banned list and the guns not on the banned list. They don't shoot any faster, they're not more powerful, they're not machine guns, they don't make any bigger holes, all which your reporter, John Zarrella, implied in that story.

PHILLIPS: Let's talk about the ammunition. Folks had problem with the ammunition. We've heard a lot in the last 24 hours from viewers who made the point that it's not the weapons who do the damage, it's the ammo. OK? Can legally be bought, ammunition. Now does this do -- do just as much damage than an illegal weapon?

LAPIERRE: Kyra, they all fire the same ammunition. Why can't you accept the truth? There is no difference in the guns on the banned list and the guns not on the banned list.

Your reporter's story was deliberately misleading the viewers. Bill Clinton deliberately misrepresented the House and the facts to the House of Representatives in the Congress and I don't believe this House of Representatives is going to fall and have the wool pulled over their eyes the way what happened did in '94.

The truth matters. The public needs to hear the truth and the truth is every police officer on the street knows it. There's not a dime worth of difference between the guns on the banned list and the guns off the banned list in terms of their performance characteristics and I challenge CNN again to defend that story to its viewers because it's not true.

PHILLIPS: What do you say...

LAPIERRE: All day yesterday you misled the viewers.

PHILLIPS: What do you say to the members of the law enforcement community that we had on the air who say assault weapons don't belong on the streets?

LAPIERRE: Kyra, I got calls all day yesterday from law enforcement officers going crazy over that story you ran saying it's not true. They were dismayed that there was a law enforcement officer on there lending himself to it.

The story misrepresented the facts. What we need to do to stop crime -- every time you catch a criminal, 100 percent of the time, prosecute him. Put him in prison.

We have all kinds of gun laws. Catch a violent felon with a gun, put him in jail. Catch a violent drug dealer with a gun, put them in jail 100 percent of the time. That's what rank-and-file cops know stops crime. But again, I challenge CNN in the headquarters to take an objective look at that story and defend it because it's simply not true.

PHILLIPS: All right. Executive vice president...

LAPIERRE: "The New York Times" reporter was fired, John Zarrella ought to be fired.

PHILLIPS: Executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, that's why we are interviewing you today and that's why we're addressing this to show both sides of that story.

And we all stick by John Zarrella and how credible of a reporter he is.

Thank you for your time, sir.

Well, here's your turn to weigh in on this story. Our "Web Question of the Day" is: "Should Congress extend the assault weapons ban?" We'll have the results later in this broadcast. Vote on

And money, power and influence. Just how rich are President Bush and Vice President Cheney? We'll go live to the White House to find out.

Plus, radiation sickness in Iraq. Nuclear looting sparks a chain of devastating consequences.

And Air Force One flies into history. Inside the president's private jet.

But first, a look at other news making headlines around the world.


PHILLIPS (voice-over): A major shake-up in the Palestinian leadership. Saed Erakat, in charge of negotiations with Israel, has resigned. No reason given. The move comes ahead of the critical first meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian prime minister. He'll remain in position as a Palestinian councilmember.

One team may represent both North and South Korea at next summer's Olympic Games in Athens. A South Korean official tells CNN talks are under way right now.

There's a new Miss Russia again. The most recent one was stripped of her title after it was revealed she stripped for a Russian men's magazine. The two before her were also disqualified, but for other reasons.

Bad weather kept a lot of people from seeing it, but there was a lunar eclipse last night. The first one visible from North America in three years. And the war in Iraq is now a video game.

MECHANIZED VOICE: "Quest for Saddam!"

PHILLIPS: "Quest for Saddam" is debuting at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. The creator is just 19-years-old.

MECHANIZED VOICE: I'm coning to get you Saddam!

MECHANIZED VOICE: And there's no place to hide!

PHILLIPS: And that's our look "Around the World."



PHILLIPS: And welcome back to CNN. I'm Kyra Phillips. Wolf Blitzer is off today.

For the latest headlines we go now to Heidi Collins. She's at the CNN Newsroom in Atlanta. Hi, Heidi.


PHILLIPS: Well as much as $108 million. That's the high estimate of what President Bush and Vice President Cheney are worth according to newly disclosed documents. CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux here to break it all down for us -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Well, Kyra, President Bush's portfolio looks like many Americans. He has much of his money in government bonds. He also has trust funds set up for his daughters. And those in stocks, Intel, Disney, Procter & Gamble, those things. But there are some perks to being president, not everybody gets tickets to the Rolling Stones.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Bush is worth anywhere from $8 to nearly $22 million. His biggest asset, his Texas ranch valued as high as $5 million.

Vice President Dick Cheney is worth anywhere from $19 to more than $86 million. Much of his wealth accumulated when he was CEO of energy giant Halliburton.

The two leaders filed their financial disclosures with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Thursday as required by federal law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The laws dictating the value of gifts that a president can or cannot accept help not only the country in terms of making sure there's no undue influence from corporate interest, but also it protects the president and his family from any charges of conflict of interest.

MALVEAUX: The law requires reporting gifts accepted by a single donor worth more than $285.

On Mr. Bush's list, tickets to the Rolling Stones, $2,533 worth for his daughter Jena. Six of the eight tickets were donated by Sony big boy band creator Tommy Mattola, who just Thursday shared the stage with the president at a memorial event.

The president's most expensive items sit on his Crawford ranch. A dock and boat valued at $5,728. Mr. Bush also accepted a cowboy hat worth $1,000 and $823 honorary membership at the Yale Club in New York City. A $359 cooking pit. And for the avid runner, three pairs of athletic shoes valued at $765. The president's total more than $14,000.

For Mr. Cheney he accepted more than $17,000 in gifts. Including a $1,500 fishing reel, a $1,000 hand-made bamboo flyrod, a $772 case of Ferrari-Carano wine, and at $300, two bolo ties.


MALVEAUX: Now, Kyra, I've been talking to historians all day about this and want to give you a list of the gifts over the course of certain presidencies. Tractors, chain saws, goldfish, turkeys, possums, just to name a few. But of course, there are federal regulations and guidelines that really guide the president in terms of what he's allowed to keep, what he's not allowed to keep. And of course there are some items that are under the president's discretion -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Pretty interesting. We get a mixture of gifts too. Never a goldfish, though. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you.

Well Shi'ite Muslims' contempt for the U.S. and Great Britain is growing louder. In Baghdad today hundreds of people gathered at this mosque for Friday worship, but the service of peppered with a political message. The religious leader blasted the United States and Great Britain for wanting to lift U.N. economic sanctions now saying that the two countries only want to further their own interest. He also accused coalition forces of violating Iraq's sovereignty.

And remember those irreplaceable treasures that were said to be looted from the Baghdad Museum? Well, a U.S. Marine heading up the investigation says that's a dramatic exaggeration. He says many of these valuable artifacts that you're looking at were either hidden or moved weeks, months, even years before the war ever started.

PHILLIPS: Now a follow-up to the story of nuclear looting in Iraq. Radiation poisoning. CNN's Karl Penhaul reports on the devastating fallout that's affecting men, women and children.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amar doesn't go out much these days. He says he's been sick since he drank water from the plastic barrel looted from nearby al-Tuwitha (ph), Saddam's biggest nuclear research complex.

U.N. experts who monitored the site before the war say low-grade radioactive material may have been stored in the drums.

AMAR JORDA, SUSPECTED RADIATION VICTIM (through translator): My skin itches, I can't breathe well and my nose bleeds at least four times a day.

PENHAUL: He said he only drank water from the barrel once, just after he and his father bought it from the man on the street. No more soccer, no more school. He's even cut himself off from his old friends, even though doctors say his illness isn't contagious.

JORDA (through translator): My best friend came only once. But I told him not to come too close. I was scared he might get infected.

PENHAUL: At nearest hospital Dr. Jaaear Nasser says he's seen six people in just two days with similar symptoms. Breathlessness, rashes, frequent nose bleeds and vomiting. His diagnoses is clear.

DR. JAAEAR NASSER, AL-MDENA HOSPITAL: This is acute radiation syndrome.

PENHAUL: Several weeks after this nuclear complex was looted, it is now guarded by U.S. troops. But there's apparently no coordinated effort to track down items that may have been stolen.

(on camera): And local doctors are only just beginning to keep detailed case studies on patients they suspect may have been affected by radiation sickness.

This man still has one of the drums and has had diarrhea and vomitting since he broke into Al-Turaisa (ph).

Other items looted from the nuclear complex which have just been dumped in the street of this nearby town as fears of radiation spread.

One of the few Imar (ph) still has is Eclass (ph). She doesn't have much to say these days, since she drank from another water barrel also looted from Al-Turaisa. She says her eyesight has faded and now she only sees dark shadows. I can't see, she tells us.

Dr. Jaaear (ph) says he suspects she's also suffering radiation sickness, but until experts conduct a detailed medical study, the simple chance of pinpointing the precise cause is much less predicting the lasting consequences.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Al-Turaisa, Iraq.


PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, the SARS epidemic making its way around the world. Are local health officials really prepared to handle an outbreak here at home?

Plus, take a ride on Air Force One. A new history of an American icon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: A SARS scare in a new state. What is the state of this potentially fatal threat?

Also, inside Air Force One. A new account of the presidential plane.


PHILLIPS: Health officials fear that SARS has shown up some place new in the United States: Rhode Island. Doctors there say they haven't confirmed it, but a 38-year-old woman has the symptoms and she was recently in Toronto, where the virus has been a problem. The World Health Organization says 65 SARS cases have been confirmed in the U.S., but the Centers for Disease Control say the number of new cases here is going down, not up.

And a story that came in to CNN within the past half hour. We just want to update you in case you didn't hear the news. Former President Gerald Ford hospitalized today after getting dizzy while golfing in hot weather in Rancho Mirage, California. We're told that he had a dizzy spell while playing golf at about 96-degree temperatures. The former president, 89-years-old, we are told he is doing fine though.

We had talked to Suzanne Malveaux at the White House,. She had spoken with his spokesperson. We are told that she had talked to him. He's feeling great and they're monitoring him at this point. That's according to former President's Gerald Ford's spokesperson.

Once again, former President Gerald Ford checking into a hospital after suffering a dizzy spell. We'll continue to monitor his progress.

Now updating you on another late-breaking story this afternoon. Reports about the orders received by the operatives who carried out Monday's terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia.

Our national security correspondent, David Ensor, has been following the story. He joins us live now from our Washington bureau -- David.

ENSOR: Well, Kyra, well-placed sources -- U.S. Source are telling CNN today that the individuals who carried out these attacks in Riyadh, they believe, had the -- believed that they had orders from the very highest level of al Qaeda. And therefore the working assumption of U.S. officials trying to track crack the case is that Osama bin Laden himself may indeed have given the orders for the attacks in Riyadh. However, U.S. officials stress they do not have any evidence in hand yet to prove that Osama bin Laden himself ordered those attacks.

Now I should also tell you one other piece of breaking news that's just in from Alisa Labbit (ph), CNN's producer at the State Department. The State Department has announced that it is authorizing nonessential personnel at its embassy and consulates in Kenya to leave the country if they want to do so. Now this comes in the wake, as we've been reporting over the last couple of days, of some real concern by U.S. officials that there may be additional al Qaeda terrorist activities planned in a number of countries: Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, among others -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: David, OK -- so once again, I want to reiterate this. Right now -- because we saw this with Saudi Arabia, a warning came out about a week before that attack and we saw what happened there. So now you are saying the State Department is coming forward and saying take this seriously. We're talking about Kenya now. We are asking you to leave if you want to?

ENSOR: Yes. The next step may be to order nonessential personnel out. But for the moment they are offering the opportunity to do so. It means they can fly home if they want to at U.S. government expense and if people wanted to have their families leave, that's a possibility too.

PHILLIPS: All right.

ENSOR: Kyra.

PHILLIPS: David Ensor, thank you very much.

Well, machine with rock star appeal. The new buzz on Air Force One stories you haven't heard about the flying White House just ahead.

And Air Force heroes on the ground still flying high with an honor from their commander in chief. We'll hear from a cadet fresh off his meeting with the president.


PHILLIPS: During its 60-year history, Air Force One has taken American presidents around the world, becoming one of the most visible symbols of the U.S. A new book takes an inside look at that plane and the presidents who've been onboard.


PHILLIPS (voice-over): From a PanAm Dixie clipper to a state-of- the-art 747, the so-called flying White House has been an enduring symbol of the power of the American presidency.

KENNETH T. WALSH, AUTHOR, "AIR FORCE ONE": People all over the world are just eager to see the plane as an icon of America, and in the United States people all over the country line up, they go out to airports just to see the president land and take off.

PHILLIPS: It's been 60 years since Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled as passenger number one to a secret wartime summit in Casablanca. Since then, each time a sitting president steps aboard any plane, it gets a more powerful name. "U.S. News and World Report" correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh has a new book, "Air Force One: a History of the Presidents and Their Planes." It's out this week.

WALSH: In many ways, Air Force One is the most sophisticated aircraft that any head of state uses.

PHILLIPS: 1962, jet propulsion is introduced with the 707. 1990, Air Force One is upgraded to a 747. Walsh says it's now equipped with anti-missile devices and nuclear shielding. Along the way, history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I solemnly swear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do solemnly swear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That I will faithfully execute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I will faithfully execute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The office of president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The office of president of the United States.

PHILLIPS: Heartbreak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president's body is met by (UNINTELLIGIBLE) servicemen.

PHILLIPS: Moments some presidents might want to forget.

And those emotional departures.

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it's been a time of tears -- I have to say to many people, but certainly for us.

PHILLIPS: Often when a president leaves office, his aircraft loses the designation Air Force One in mid-air, the moment he ceases being president.

Walsh describes that moment onboard for Richard Nixon on August 9, 1974.

WALSH: And then he finally got into the press cabin, and he had banned reporters from the aircraft, and he saw Secret Service agents in there, and he stuck his head in and said, boy, it sure smells a lot better in here. He was a very bitter man at that moment.

PHILLIPS: So many memories, one impressive machine.


PHILLIPS: And our special thanks to "National Geographic" and PBS for providing some of the footage for that piece. The "National Geographic" special "Air Force One" can be seen on PBS Tuesday evening, July 1.

Well, the commander in chief's award recognizes the outstanding efforts of those who serve at our nation's military installation, and this year's recipient is the Air Force Academy football team. Bryan Blew, the team captain, accepted the award on their behalf, and here's what he had to say about the award, meeting the president and serving his country.


BRYAN BLEW, AIR FORCE ACADEMY FOOTBALL PLAYER: It was extremely exciting. Getting to meet the president is really an opportunity that you just don't get, and it was really one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me and the rest of my teammates. We're all very excited about it. It was amazing, standing there on the stage with him, and he has such a presence, and someone that is so powerful, and getting to be there with him was really unbelievable. It's hard for me to describe in words.

It's such an honor to be able to serve our country. And we really, really thank the Lord that he's given me some talents and blessed me with a lot of opportunities to be able to serve the country, and I think all of us come to the academy with a great deal of patriotism and leave with even more when we graduate. We've all signed up to put our lives on the line when the time comes to defend this country, and it's such an honor to be able to fight for the country, because if nobody were to fight for the nation, it would be hard for it to remain free, and that's why we have such a free, free country and able to enjoy everything that comes with that, is because people put their lives on the line every day, and we're so honored that we are going to be commissioned and ready to do that in the future.


PHILLIPS: And our hot Web question of the day, should Congress extend the assault weapons ban? Vote now at The results when we come back.


PHILLIPS: Now, here's how you're weighing in on our Web question of the day. Remember, we've been asking you this, should Congress extend the assault weapons ban? Sixty-two percent of you say yes, while 38 percent of you say no. You can find the exact vote tally and continue to vote, by the way, on our Web site, And this is not, of course, a scientific poll. Now, a quick look at the headlines.


PHILLIPS: I'm Kyra Phillips, filling in for Wolf Blitzer. Thank you so much for tuning in. A reminder, you can always watch WOLF BLITZER REPORTS weekdays at this time, 5:00 Eastern, and you can catch Wolf this Sunday afternoon, for "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk. Now, for the latest developments, we hand it over to Jan Hopkins, who's in for Lou Dobbs tonight.


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