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CNN LIVE TODAY

New Details Emerging From Early in the White House About Plans to Attack Iraq

Aired March 31, 2004 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta. A look now at the headlines.
Five U.S. soldiers and four civilian contractors were killed in separate attacks in Iraq today. Witnesses said that bodies of the civilians were burned, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and mutilated. Coalition officials say at least three of the civilians were American.

Senior administration officials say that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice should testify before the 9/11 Commission by the end of next week. Rice is expected to rebut assertions by former aide Richard Clarke who testified that President Bush largely ignored terrorism before September 11.

Scott Peterson's defense team wants a prospective juror ban issued. The woman allegedly told her friend that Peterson is, quote "guilty as hell." And she planned to make sure that he get everything he deserves. The judge ordered the woman to return to court to answer questions in May.

A t-shirt that showed the Confederate flag and a grinning boy urinating on an NAACP logo is creating controversy. That shirt features the name of a North Carolina county commissioner. He had a highly publicized political dispute with the organization last year. But he denies printing the shirts.

New details are emerging from early in the Bush administration about a plan for attacking Iraq if Baghdad manages to shoot down a U.S. plane. But sources say that this operation which was known as "Desert Badger" was not a prelude for invading Iraq. Details from our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Frustrated that Iraqi gunners were shooting at American planes, within weeks of coming into office, President Bush approved war plans for a massive retaliatory attack on Iraq if a U.S. pilot had been shot down.

CNN has learned that the secret plan Operation Desert Badger called for escalating air strikes within four to eight hours of a shootdown. Pentagon sources say a long list of targets across the country would be hit, crippling Iraqi air defenses and command and control. The plan went far beyond the Clinton administration's 1998 Operation Desert Fox, which hit 100 targets in four days.

President Bush revealed Desert Badger's existence in January, responding to criticism he planned to invade Iraq from the beginning.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Like the previous administration, we were for regime change. And in the initial stages of the administration, you might remember, we were dealing with Desert Badger or flyovers, and fly-betweens and looks.

And so we were fashioning policy along those lines.

STARR: One defense official familiar with the plan says, "If a plane got shot down, that was the trigger, we were going in." Over time, the source said, Operation Desert Badger evolved into a more robust plan for attacking the regime.

The president would have quickly decided whether to take the next step, approving a small number of ground troops to secure key areas. At the time, only a few thousand troops were in nearby Kuwait. Sources tell CNN Operation Desert Badger was not a plan to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says the new options were justified by the threat.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We packaged them, we pre- cleared them with the president, and we were cocked and ready to do a variety of different things in the event something occurred that fit one of those possible unfortunate possibilities.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: And, Daryn, the new details about the intent and scope of Operation Desert Badger and even other standby war plans may raise additional questions in the days ahead about whether the Bush administration was too focused on Iraq before 9/11 -- Daryn.

KAGAN: And you will be tracking down those answers for us. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

John Kerry is heading into the operating room a bit later for shoulder surgery. And he knows his campaign for president is much richer today. Candy Crowley has the latest on the race for the White House which now has an injury report to go along with it. It's kind of like doing sports all over again, Candy. Good morning.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is and in fact, he originally injured it doing a bicycle ride.

But you're right, Daryn, Kerry's war chest is more than $3 million fatter after fund raisers in California yesterday. Most of that cash was raked in during a star-studded event at a mansion in Beverly Hills. Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Barbra Striesand and Meg Ryan were among the guests. James Taylor serenaded the glitzy crowd. But is Taylor's mellow rock Kerry's kind of the music. The White House hopeful talked about his musical taste in an MTV interview that aired last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never was into heavy metal. I didn't really like it.

I'm fascinated by rap and by hip-hop. I think there's a lot of poetry in it. There's a lot of anger, a lot of social energy in it. And I think you better listen to it pretty carefully, because it's important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: President Bush has his own fund raiser planned for later today. Mr. Bush heads to a D.C. hotel this evening for a Bush/Cheney campaign dinner. There will be company. A group of unemployed workers who plan to protest outside the event.

New poll numbers from Pennsylvania show President Bush ahead of John Kerry. A poll taken just last month had Kerry ahead by a point. But now the president leads 46 percent to 40 percent. Kerry's support has dropped while the president's stayed the same.

A new poll in Maryland has Senator Kerry leading President Bush 48 percent to 43 percent.

A newly announced security plan is sure to have Boston commuters questioning the honor of hosting this July's Democratic National Convention. Officials this morning said two of the city's main transportation hubs will be affected during the July 26 through July 29 gathering.

North train station shuts down the weekend before the convention, and stays closed for the duration. Interstate 93, the underground stretch of highway known as the Big Dig, will be closed during the evening rush hour.

From Al Gore to Al Franken, Democrats are trying to find an audience. This afternoon on INSIDE POLITICS we look at the, quote, "real liberal media."

Meanwhile, our Bill Schneider has been studying the numbers and brings us his diagnosis on the political effects of Medicare reform. You may be surprised.

Join me at 3:30 Eastern when I go INSIDE POLITICS. Right now, back to Daryn Kagan inside Atlanta.

KAGAN: All right. Thank you. Candy.

We're keeping this one on Capitol Hill. Of all people showing up, pop star Michael Jackson decided to go to Capitol Hill. To tell us why, Sean Callebs tracking that story for us. Sean, this almost sounds like a riddle. So why -- you have Michael Jackson on Capitol Hill. Why?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm sure there's a lot of punch lines there...

(CROSSTALK)

CALLEBS: Exactly. He is there basically trying to raise awareness and raise funding for the ongoing problem of AIDS in Africa. This is something that had been planned. He had really hoped for a meeting with the members of the Black Caucus. It didn't happen.

There you see Michael Jackson yesterday in the Rayburn Building on his way to a Representative Chaka Fattah's office. Jackson was able to meet with about anywhere from eight to a dozen members of the Caucus. We weren't allowed inside there. Very difficult to tell.

And, Daryn, I want to point out one thing. I think the most interesting thing I've read on this so far has to be in "The Washington Post." The story on Jackson on the Hill. Actually went into the "Style" section of "The Post" today.

In an article, the lead says, he was wearing a "lovely shade of coral lipstick." And I think that cuts right to the heart of it.

Then it goes on to say, why would a bunch of political reporters be chasing Michael Jackson all around the Rayburn Building? Basically because Jackson was there, and there's a chance that he might say something significant.

Basically all he did was flash the V sign and say, "I want to thank Congress for doing everything it has so far to promote awareness, and also free up some funds to fight the ongoing problem of AIDS in Africa."

KAGAN: This must have been a conflict for people in Capitol Hill because I know Washington tends to get very excited when celebrities show up. So there's always kind of a dash to be part of them. And yet this is not somebody it would seem a lot of Congress people would want to be associated with.

CALLEBS: It's interesting, because you're getting one line from members of the Black Caucus saying, our numbers were -- we weren't able to meet with Jackson because of conflicting schedules.

But privately, aides said, look, there's no political upside with this. Why would you want to get your photo taken with someone who was facing child molestation charges?

And also went on to say that, look, Jackson has never supported the Black Caucus in the past, he hasn't offered to meet with them, support any of their causes.

So now he's coming to them when, perhaps, the impression would benefit him by getting his photo taken with the members of the caucus. He was with a dozen members yesterday in Congressman Fattah's office. And in about two hours or so, two and a half hours he's scheduled to meet again with a Texas representative, Sheila Jackson Lee.

And sometime thereafter, around 2:45, they're supposed to hold a news conference. All of this is very fluid. What do you think the odds are this will go off on time?

KAGAN: Perhaps not. But you'll be tracking it for us. Sean Callebs in Washington, D.C.

She seemed to vanish without a trace. The hunt is intensifying for a missing Wisconsin college student. The latest on that search is ahead.

But first, are you having trouble sleeping? Apparently you're not alone. We're looking at the e-mail response from our viewers. A lot of tired people out there watching this program. We have a doctor in the house to answer your questions about your sleep troubles. That is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: Let's talk sleep. Have you had enough of it lately? It is not just adults that don't get the required amount. A new study says children in the U.S. are also sleep deprived. Russell Rosenberg is a spokesman for the National Sleep Foundation and director of the Northside Hospital Sleep Disorder Center here in Atlanta. He is here to answer some of your e-mail questions.

Good morning.

RUSSELL ROSENBERG, SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL SLEEP FOUNDATION: Good morning. Nice to be here.

KAGAN: How did you sleep last night?

ROSENBERG: I slept just fine.

KAGAN: Very good.

Well, apparently many of our viewers did not sleep so well. I think this is only second to our segment we've done on plastic surgery. So that shows you what our viewers are interested in, sleep in looking good.

Let's get right to some of the e-mails right now and answer them. This one is coming from Dave in Wisconsin. He wants to know, "My problem is to stay up later than I should, so I go to bed early. Would that be the answer, but I feel the stress, like relationship stress or work stress, is keeping me up. How can I get my mind off of these things when it's time to bed.

ROSENBERG: Well, that's a great question. A lot of people who have insomnia have difficulty turning their mind off at night. And the new poll by the National Sleep Foundation shows that still, there are millions of people who don't sleep well, who have routine trouble getting to sleep and/or staying asleep.

KAGAN: So what do you do?

ROSENBERG: Well, what you've got to do, is you've got too try to put a closure to the rest of your day, that you can think through all the things that you have to do the next day, or worry before you even go to bed and write down things that are on your mind, and get that work of worry out of the nighttime. And in some cases, if you can't do that yourself, even sometimes a mild sleeping pill may help on an occasional basis to get through that.

KAGAN: Just kind of to get a little bit of rest.

Let's go to the next e-mail question, this one from Clyde: "I have no problems sleeping. I was told that I do snore quite a bit, and that keeps my loved ones tossing and turning. How can I deal with situation?"

Not to be sexist, but this does tend to be a male problem. And there are many women out there who love their men, but the snoring thing, you just kind of want to kick them out of the bed.

ROSENBERG: Well, the silent partner, the relationship really does suffer, and there's data to support that too.

But snoring in itself may not be all that dangerous. It could be, though, a sign or symptom of something more serious called obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. And if you're sleepy in the daytime and you snore, you certainly ought to talk to your doctor about that. Because there are very good treatments that address that problem.

KAGAN: And what about for the other partner? Is there something short of separate bedrooms?

ROSENBERG: Well, keeping him off his side, off his back and putting him on his side. Making sure he's not taking anything, muscle relaxants or alcohol in the evening. Ear plugs for the silent partner there. And in the worst-case scenario, sometimes it has to be another bedroom, because you have to take your sleep seriously and not put up with it night after night. Go get your good sleep. You can always spend time at the early part of the night together and then go into another bedroom.

KAGAN: Get it. Get where you're going with that one. All right, on to the next e-mail, this one from Barbara: "Is there such a thing as getting too much sleep?"

Nine or 10 hours -- a lot of people would love to have that problem. But can you get too much sleep. Can it be bad for you?

ROSENBERG: Well, There are some people who are naturally long sleepers. And this is pretty much genetically determined, and also determined by the amount of stress or strain you're under. But most people never reach that point in which they're -- they've gotten their fill, satiated, if you will, on sleep. So yes, occasionally on a Sunday, you might feel a little groggy from sleeping too long. KAGAN: Right, like a sleep hangover.

ROSENBERG: Yes, sleep hangover. That's called sleep inertia, or even sleeping too long in a nap.

But really, there's no unhealthy aspects to getting all the sleep you need. In fact, it's very healthy to sleep longer once in a while.

KAGAN: Well, we will try to achieve that. Not always easy around here, though. We appreciate you stopping by. And let me just say, sweet dreams.

ROSENBERG: Thank you.

KAGAN: Dr. Rosenberg, thanks for answering our e-mail questions.

To get your daily dose of health news online, you can pay a visit to CNN.com to find the latest medical news and breakthroughs, a health library and information on diet and fitness. The address, very easy, CNN.com/health.

KAGAN: A young girl says that she is fighting for her freedom of religion, and now it looks as if she has friends in some pretty high places. The U.S. government head-to-head over a head scarf, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: We want to show you a situation we're watching just outside of Pittsburgh. This pictures coming to us from KDKA. Apparently, a semi trailer, a truck trailer has gone over the side of a bridge. It looks like there's some rescue attempts taking place, trying to get whoever is inside that truck out. Exactly where this is or the condition of the person inside the truck, we're not exactly sure right now. We'll work on getting more information and more pictures just ahead.

Other news this morning, the Justice Department is siding with an Oklahoma girl, fighting to wear her Muslim head scarf at school. The Mescoge (ph) school district ordered 12-year-old Meshawa Hearn (ph) to remove that head scarf. Officials say it violated the dress code at her school. Her parents are suing. The Justice Department has filed a motion to intervene in support of the girl's position. The government says the school district was wrong to suspend the sixth grader and should revise its policy.

Police are poring over phone records and searching for clues in the disappearance of a University of Wisconsin student. So far, though, they have uncovered very little about what might have happened to here.

Jonathan Freed has an update.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Security camera video officers an eerie echo of the last time Audrey Seiler was spotted, leaving her apartment building early Saturday. The A student at University of Wisconsin in Madison is the last person anyone expected to be caught up in controversy. But it's the second time in two months.

CAPT. LUIS YUDICE, MADISON POLICE: She left the apartment at approximately 2:30 in the morning and she took no personal belongings with her.

FREED: Police are still puzzled by an incident on February 1, when Seiler was attacked from behind and knocked unconscious while out walking after midnight. She woke up behind a nearby building, but wasn't robbed or otherwise hurt.

YUDICE: And it is unusual for somebody to be attacked by a total stranger on the street. But, once again, we have not been able to make any connection.

FREED: And there's no evidence of a crime this time.

The search for Seiler, on land, by air and on the water, has been joined by a hundred volunteers, including family and friends from her hometown of Rockford, Minnesota.

KEITH SEILER, FATHER: Audrey's whole family is hopeful and remains confident that we will find Audrey safe.

FREED: The university has even set up a Web site and e-mailed some 45,000 of its computer users, asking them for help.

Seiler's family does not believe she was depressed and say she seemed to be dealing well with the fallout from the February attack.

SEILER: We're very confident and determined that if the right person hears us, sees her face, that they'll have some information that will help us.

FREED: Jonathan Freed, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: We will take a look at weather just after this break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

KAGAN: That's going to do it for us this morning. I'm Daryn Kagan. I'll be right back here tomorrow morning. Wolf Blitzer taking over from Washington D.C.

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