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Upsurge of Attacks in Iraq; Politics & Terror

Aired April 1, 2004 - 07:30   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. It's 7:30 here in New York. Heidi Collins is in today for Soledad O'Brien. Nice to see you.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to see you, too.

HEMMER: Are you doing OK after the first 30 minutes?

COLLINS: Yes, I'm doing all right.

HEMMER: Terrific.

COLLINS: Hanging in there. All right, we'll let you know some stories that we're following today.

Talking Iraq in just a few moments with Ken Pollack. How should the U.S. respond to the horrific attack yesterday in Fallujah? We're looking at them here. Could they be a turning point of sorts? Those are just some of the questions we are looking at this morning.

HEMMER: Paul Bremer earlier today in Baghdad said they will not go unpunished. The question is: How do you get to it in a place like Fallujah? So, a good question for Pollack.

COLLINS: Oh, that's a good question.

HEMMER: Also, you might know the "you're fired" lady. Susan Brenner owns a pottery studio called "You're Fired." Now, she has found herself in a bit of hot water with Donald Trump. Trump wants to -- well, he wants to copyright or patent or save that phrase for himself. Well, we'll talk to her and her attorney this morning. We have some very interesting answers (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

COLLINS: Yes, I like the pottery idea better myself. Anyway, all right, we want to go ahead and get the news now this morning.

Police at the University of Wisconsin are looking for a suspect after a missing student there was found. Twenty-year-old Audrey Seiler was reunited with her family and friends yesterday after being found in a marsh near the campus. Seiler says she was taken at knifepoint and held captive but was not hurt. More on the case coming up in the next hour.

Missile defense and not terrorism was reportedly the focus of a major policy speech set for the day of the September 11 attacks. According to "The Washington Post," National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was set to outline a U.S. security strategy that day. Former officials who had seen the text say it was devoted to pushing missile defense and did not address Islamic extremist groups.

Comedian Al Franken hits the airwaves on Air America, the brand- new liberal talk radio network based on New York City. Franken launching his show yesterday to apparently counter right-wing radio hosts. Franken spent a portion of his three-hour show bashing the Bush administration. Air America is broadcasting so far in six U.S. cities, including New York, L.A. and Chicago. It's also on satellite radio.

Well, it's been exactly one year since U.S. troops stormed a hospital in Iraq and rescued Private Jessica Lynch. Lynch was being held as a prisoner of war after her unit was ambushed. She suffered two spinal fractures, nerve damage and broken bones. Lynch, who is 20, says she is just a country girl and is not used to all of the publicity she gets, and probably never will be.

HEMMER: Best to her, though.


HEMMER: Now back to Iraq now and that latest violence. Two roadside bombs exploded northwest of Baghdad earlier today. One American and one Iraqi injured in the attacks, targeting a fuel convoy of trucks there.

Also today, a U.S. military convey attacked the insurgents stronghold of Fallujah. One Humvee burned there.

That violence follows yesterday's grizzly ambush, also in Fallujah, which killed four American contractors. Cheering crowds dragged some of the bodies through the streets. And also yesterday in Habbaniyah, west of Baghdad, yet again in the Sunni triangle, five U.S. Marines were killed there by a roadside bomb, raising the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq to 600.

CNN analyst Ken Pollack of the Saban Center back with us this morning to talk about this.

It's been a while, Ken. Good morning to you, and thanks for being with us.


HEMMER: I'm doing just fine.

With regard to what happened yesterday in Fallujah, is this a new level of brutality, a new level of violence? Is that the way you see it or not?

POLLACK: Unfortunately, I don't think it is. To some extent, it is a response to the new tactics. The Marines, as you pointed out, have now moved into that part of Iraq. They have taken over the Sunni triangle. That's actually good news, because the Marines are very good at this kind of operation. And they've gotten out there. They are patrolling much more aggressively, which is something that needs to happen.

But you're seeing a lot of the Sunni tribals in Fallujah, who have long been the biggest source of problems throughout the entire reconstruction, and I would actually add, probably all through Iraqi history for many centuries. They are reacting to this new very aggressive sort of techniques by the Marines.

HEMMER: Listen to Paul Bremer speaking in Baghdad earlier today, referring to the incident of yesterday, and a very specific question at the end of his statement here. Listen, first.


PAUL BREMER, U.S. ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: The acts we have seen were despicable and inexcusable. They violate the tenets of all religions, including Islam, as well as the foundations of civilized society. Their deaths will not go...


HEMMER: He says at the end, we got out of it too early. Those deaths will not go unpunished. The question is: How do you punish it? How do you penetrate in places like Fallujah?

POLLACK: Yeah, that really is a very important question, Bill, because in all honesty, it is extremely difficult to do. We can try to develop the intelligence. We can try to find out who did it. That is very hard. I think a much better way to focus our energy coming out of yesterday's horrific events is to really redouble our commitment to dealing with the larger problem of the Sunni triangle. The fact that you've got a fairly large group of people in the Sunni triangle who feel completely disenfranchised, who think that the entire reconstruction of Iraq is designed to get them. We've got to convince those people that the reconstruction of Iraq is in their interests, as well as the rest of the country.

HEMMER: But the mere fact that you saw these bodies being taken out of these trucks and hung by a bridge, a steel bridge over the Euphrates River, almost lets you believe -- or led to think anyway -- that these people can do anything they want, because there is no fear of punishment.

POLLACK: Yes, certainly...

HEMMER: And at some point, you're going to have to counter that thinking and that behavior.

POLLACK: I think there's no question about it. But for me, Bill, that gets back to exactly the tactic the Marines are taking -- getting troops out onto the street, showing a presence. And if you've got a strong presence throughout Fallujah, these people would not be able to do what they did, because those guys getting in trouble should have had Marine backup responding very quickly. That's the best way to handle this.

HEMMER: Thanks, Ken. Ken Pollack there in D.C. Nice to talk to you.

POLLACK: Good talking to you.

HEMMER: You, too.

COLLINS: President Bush plans to sign a law today that will make it a federal crime to harm or kill a fetus during an assault on a pregnant woman. The bill has been called Laci and Conner's law, after Laci Peterson and her unborn son.

Last night on "LARRY KING," Laci's parents disputed that the law would undermine abortion rights.


SHARON ROCHA, LACI PETERSON'S MOTHER: There's a lot of opposition. A lot of people tend to think that it has something to do with -- it's going to interfere with abortion. However, like I said, California has had this law since 1970, and it has never interfered with abortion in the state of California. If anything, I think abortion laws have become more lenient over the past 34 years, even after having this law.

LARRY KING, HOST: How have you lived with all of this, Ron? What keeps you going?

RON GRANTSKI, LACI PETERSON'S STEPFATHER: We -- that's a good question. Some days we don't have too good a days, but that's part of -- you know, that's part of life. Here again, we have great friends, great families. We get a lot of support from all over the country, e- mails, and that's -- that helps me, and I think it helps Sharon, too.


COLLINS: Scott Peterson is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Laci and Connor. I also want to let you know, President Bush is waiting to sign that bill at about 3:00 today.

HEMMER: The 9/11 Commission is expecting to hear testimony from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice some time in the next 10 days.

Meanwhile, the "L.A. Times" is out with new poll numbers on how the president has weathered the political firestorm caused by the book from Richard Clarke.

And our political analyst, Ron Brownstein, of the "L.A. Times," is back with us today to talk about the poll numbers.

Ron -- good morning to you.


HEMMER: I want to show our viewers these numbers that your paper conducted. First question, Richard Clarke is attacking the Bush administration, because he was turned down for the job of deputy secretary by the Department of Homeland Security, 28 percent agree, 42 percent disagree, a larger number there, 30 percent says simply do not know.

Another question. When asked whether or not Richard Clarke's book is politically- motivated and released at this time to impact the election, 58 percent agree with that.

What does this say about credibility on this issue, Ron?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, interestingly, I think that the American public questions his motivation, but it didn't seem to have that much affect on his credibility, because we saw a complicated response here. A majority, as you just pointed out, said that he was politically- motivated in releasing the book now.

But we also have majorities, Bill, agreeing with his two central criticisms. A large majority agreed that President Bush focused too much on Iraq rather than terrorism, as Richard Clarke argued, and a smaller majority agreed that the administration did not do as much as it should have on terrorism before 9/11, as Richard Clarke argued -- in both cases with significant variation and disagreement across partisan likes, but a majority of Independents on both of those central criticisms agree with Richard Clarke.

HEMMER: What does this do to the argument of the war on terror, which is truly the foundation and the cornerstone for this re-election for the White House? What does it do to the erosion of their credibility on this issue? Have you seen any of that?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Our poll is very similar to the two other polls that have measured what's happened here -- both "Newsweek" and the CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup. We saw an erosion in support for the president in his performance on the war on terror, but not a crumbling. It's still, I believe, his strongest asset. A majority of Americans said that they approve of the way he's handling the war on terror, and nearly three-fifths said that overall when you look at all of his policies they have made America more secure.

So, I would say he has taken a bite on this, but the foundation has not crumbled, and it remains, especially when you look at the lower ratings on the economy and the equivocal ratings on Iraq, it remains the cornerstone of his re-election bid.

HEMMER: You mentioned the economy. Let me share with our viewers two more polls here. When asked what the biggest issue is, do you approve or disapprove of the way the president is handling the economy, 53 percent disapprove. That goes to your point you just made.


HEMMER: Also another screen. Almost a statistical dead heat still, John Kerry 49 percent, President Bush 46 percent.

As we show our viewers those numbers, there's a story out today with "The New York Times", MoveOn.Org advertises all over cable news, especially this program here.


HEMMER: Republicans are saying this is unfair the way they are leveling these charges against the president. They are circumventing the laws of finance with regard to political elections.


HEMMER: Do they have a point on this, and can they fight it or not?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, they are fighting on it several fronts. They're trying to get the FEC -- the Federal Election Commission -- to bar basically these so-called 527 organizations from using unlimited soft money which was banned for the parties in the McCain-Fiengold campaign finance law last year from using that money. They want to stop them from using that money to run advertisements. Both MoveOn.Org and another group called the Media Front have been able to run enough advertising to keep the Democrats competitive with President Bush.

But let me go back to the polls very quickly for one second, Bill.


BROWNSTEIN: In addition to that 53 percent negative on the economy and job approval, only 25 percent of American in the poll said that President Bush's policies have made the country more prosperous.

And I think what we've got here is a situation in which you have a profoundly mixed verdict even after Richard Clarke on the president, in which you have a majority saying basically he's done a good job on security -- although that's waved a bit -- and you have a majority questioning the job he's done on the economy with Iraq as a total wild card, because the country seems divided exactly in half. When you add all of that up, it points you to what all of the polls are giving us -- another razor-thin presidential election.

HEMMER: Ron, thanks. Ron Brownstein, "L.A. Times" in D.C. Appreciate it.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Bill.

COLLINS: And now into some really important matters. A makeover for J.Lo? Jennifer Lopez dumped the diva (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for a kinder and gentler image. After all, she's just "Jenny from the Block," right? Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.


COLLINS: All right, everybody, time once again for the popular feature, "90-Second Pop." Today, a kinder, gentler J.Lo, and a Seinfeld sighting, too.

Here to discuss it all, humorist Andy Borowitz, author of "Governor Arnold."

Andy, hello to you.


COLLINS: "New York" magazine contributing editor, Sarah Bernard.

Sarah, thanks for being here.


COLLINS: And B.J. Sigesmund, staff writer for "US Weekly."

All right, let's get right to it. Well, "Jenny from the Block," right.


COLLINS: Kinder, gentler? These are lovely adjectives. She's going to be on Nickelodeon.


COLLINS: She's going to get slimed. I don't even know what that means, but it doesn't sound good.

SIGESMUND: Lots of green goo are going to come down on her on live television Saturday night at the increasingly popular Nickelodeon Kid Choice Awards. Not only that, J.Lo is trying to present a more sympathetic view of herself. She's going to be on "Will & Grace" later this month in the finale. Her hair and makeup people are no longer allowed to throw tantrums and charge $20,000 a day. She's even going to align herself with a charity.

All this is I think because...

BOROWITZ: Wait, which charity?


SIGESMUND: She's yet to announce.

COLLINS: Don't you think?


SIGESMUND: But she has never given to charity before, but she will be in the future. I think all of this is because she has seen how the intense media attention on Ben and her have cost them and cost their movie careers specifically. Now, she wants to be considered a serious actor. She has two big movies coming out this year. Richard Gere is her co-star in "Shall We Dance" in June, and in December she will be in "An Unfinished Life" with Robert Redford.

COLLINS: All right.

BERNARD: It's never going to work. It's never going to work, I don't think.

COLLINS: It's not going to work. All right, that being said, let's talk for a minute, if we could, about Jerry Seinfeld. This is a guy who, yes, it has definitely worked for, thinking about coming back to television. Sarah, tell me what you think about that. Can he ever make a repeat of what he did before?

BERNARD: Well, I think a lot of people would like him too. It's really interesting, because obviously the guy has enough money. He's turning 50. You would think maybe he would just retire into some sort of, you know, comedy grand master role. But he actually is a workaholic. He performs still at clubs all over the city.

And the fact that he would want to return to TV is not so unfeasible. I think what's interesting is that the sitcom format, everyone is pretty sick of it, it's so expensive to produce, he might want to look into some reality TV options. I think "The Apprentice" Seinfeld-style would be a great idea.

COLLINS: Oh, yes.

BOROWITZ: I think the timing is interesting, because I think he figured, you know, if Condoleezza Rice can change her mind about doing TV you know, maybe it's time for him to change his mind, too.

BERNARD: Time for him. And will the Seinfeld curse apply to him? Maybe not, because...

BOROWITZ: Maybe not.

BERNARD: ... he was the writer, and Larry David has been so successful.


BERNARD: But can he could it without Larry David?

SIGESMUND: Although, remember...

COLLINS: That's what I was going to ask. Who would he bring along? Anybody from the other show?

SIGESMUND: He has to find someone good. I mean, remember, Seinfeld as a huge hit, but Jerry Seinfeld himself was so wooden on the show, he cannot act. He really needs a great writer like Larry David behind him.

BOROWITZ: He's no The Rock.

BERNARD: Yes, exactly. I don't know if he can do it, but hopefully he will have a new cast. He has to reinvent himself in some way.

COLLINS: Reinventing for Jerry. We'll be looking forward to that one, for sure. All right, to the three of you, Andy Borowitz, thanks so much for being here. Sarah Bernard and B.J. Sigesmund, thanks, again, guys, as always -- Bill.

HEMMER: In a moment here, the owner of a pottery studio is all fired up about Donald Trump, and for good reason, too. How far will she go to battle the Donald for that famous phrase? Back in a moment. We'll talk to her after this.


HEMMER: Real estate has made Donald Trump a billionaire, but reality TV has made him a bona fide star.


DONALD TRUMP, "THE APPRENTICE": This is a tough one. You're fired.


HEMMER: That's the signature statement on "The Apprentice" on NBC. Now, he's trying to trademark "you're fired" for merchandise. Someone apparently has beat him to the punch line.

Susan Brenner owns a Glenview, Illinois, ceramic studio called You're Fired. She plans to fight it, to fight the Donald for the name, and Susan is with us live from Chicago, along with her attorney, Marvin Benn.

Good morning to both of you. How are you today?



HEMMER: All right, Susan, what did you think when the Donald tried to take your name?

BRENNER: You want to know what I think?

HEMMER: Come on. That's why you're on.

BRENNER: You're going to hear it firsthand from me today, because I have regrouped after two days after a whirlwind of frenzy. I called Marvin simply to say, Marvin, I have a gut feeling -- that somebody said they are selling t-shirts. Very simply, the news contacted me, but now I am fired, because when I see my name saying that I am riding on his shirttails and that I am capitalizing on his success, that's truly a joke.

If the shoe was on the other foot and he had a young daughter to raise after being widowed and a 2,000-square-foot store and he was saying that I -- and I was Donald Trump, it would be like me going to him and saying, you're capitalizing on my success. This has been crazy. There is nothing about this story that is that. I am about art. And I know that a year from now, if he saturates millions of dollars into my market, into the Chicagoland area, my customers are fickle, and a year from now "you're fired" will be Donald Trump.

HEMMER: Well, listen, I know you sought the trademark a few years ago. If I could ask your attorney, Marvin, you say this is slam dunk and you guys are going to win this thing outright. Why the level of confidence?

BENN: Slam dunk? That's a nice term. I like that. Well, she's entitled to maintain her common law copyright -- excuse me -- her common trademark rights. She's been there for almost seven years. She's developed goodwill associated with it. And the law is black and white that she is the senior user, and she will prevail.

I mean, the areas where she won't prevail is she can't stop him in New York and California and Florida, but in her geographic area where she has developed her common law rights, she absolutely can stop him from selling goods or related goods, or use a market that is likely to cause confusion. Now, she's not going to open a gambling boat, so she can't stop him from opening a gambling boat called you're fired, but she can stop him from selling t-shirts in the Chicagoland area with "you're fired" on them.

HEMMER: Yes, listen, Marvin, I want to get your legal standpoint, because I want to show what the general counsel for the Trump organization says. I'll put it on the screen. "Anyone who sees these t-shirts is going to think immediately of the phrase "you're fired" that Mr. Trump has popularized on his highly-successful TV show, "The Apprentice." They're going to think of him and not an arts and craft store in the suburbs of Chicago. No one is going to confuse Mr. Trump's t-shirts with a pottery store or vice versa."

Susan, only a couple of seconds left here. This guy has a lot of money. How do you win it?

BENN: Well, that's a perfect...

HEMMER: To Susan, if I could. Marvin, I'm sorry.

BENN: OK. Susan, do you want to answer that?

BRENNER: How do I win it? I mean, I've had t-shirts, Little Leaguers in the north suburbs of Chicagoland area have been wearing my t-shirts for six years now. And now, people are coming into my studio. I'm only saying in two days. That's all I've felt so far, saying, oh "you're fired." You are using Donald Trump's slogan. So, they're going to see these t-shirts. We've been (UNINTELLIGIBLE) been giving them out. This is old news.

BENN: This is a good example of what is called reverse confusion, where the senior user is somehow thought to be using the trademark of the junior user. And there are multiple cases on that. There is a famous 7th circuit decision and a 10th circuit decision saying that the junior user does not win in that situation.

HEMMER: Got it. Well, listen, thanks for talking and sharing your story. Susan Brenner, Marvin Benn, out of Chicago this morning.

BRENNER: Thank you.

BENN: OK, Bill. Thank you.

HEMMER: Nice to have both of you. All right, good luck to you. Thanks.

BENN: Sure.

COLLINS: It's time to check in now with Jack and a very thoughtful question of the day.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, serious stuff. Thanks, Heidi.

The murder of those four civilians yesterday in Fallujah and the celebration that followed raised a couple of questions. First, whether or not the resistance in Iraq is limited to former Saddam Hussein supporters, outside agitators. Or perhaps does this represent a new form of Iraqi nationalism?

The brutality in Fallujah creates a difficult question for the news media as well -- newspapers, TV stations -- having to figure out which and how much of these graphic images to show you. So, that's the question this morning. Should the media show the most graphic images from Fallujah? There's a picture on the front page of "The New York Times" this morning of three burned and desecrated bodies hanging from a bridge while Iraqis were cheering for the cameras. A tremendous outpouring of mail, one of the biggest I can remember in a long time.

Charlie in Virginia writes: "It doesn't take more than 10 to 100 nuts out of 250,000 normal people in Fallujah to create what the media explodes into a false picture of the entire project going on in Iraq. I really feel that the huge amount of news reporting of such incidents is fueling this type of behavior and will cause more. The media is giving the resisters exactly what they want: media coverage."

Jay in New York writes: "CNN used good judgment in which images were used, but as much as possible needs to be shown. Americans need to understand what we've gotten ourselves into and what the cost will be of getting out. In an image-saturated society, only the graphic images are the ones that are remembered."

And Millie in Waterford, Connecticut: "No, no, no. What purpose could it possibly serve? Think of their grieving families. On a related subject, several local servicemen have come home to report that many average Iraqis are more than happy that the U.S. has ousted Saddam and his regime. Why don't we see footage of that?" if you want to weigh in on this.

HEMMER: That last point is very well taken. A lot of media organizations held back...


HEMMER: ... trying to make sure next of kin were notified before going with this story yesterday.

COLLINS: I can't imagine those families.

HEMMER: That's right.

COLLINS: Jack, thanks so much.

Still to come this morning, great relief for the friends and family of a missing student in Wisconsin. She is alive and well. Details on that coming up here on AMERICAN MORNING.


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