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U.S. Military Set to Make History at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba Today; Swift Boat Veterans For Truth Going After Kerry's Anti-War Statements

Aired August 24, 2004 - 08:30   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Anderson Cooper in for Bill Hemmer.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And that would make me Daryn Kagan in for Soledad O'Brien. Heidi is off as well. They're all gone.

COOPER: They're all gone this morning.

KAGAN: Isn't that great? All right. A couple of campaign stories we're watching this morning -- they have a new poll out of Florida, the state that made all the difference last time around.

Also there's a new ad from the controversial group Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, which I really think is a conspiracy just to get us to trip up our words -- Swift Boat Veterans For Truth -- not easy to say.

Bill Schneider here with those stories.

COOPER: Also ahead this morning, we're going to look at the strategy by attorney Mark Geragos preparing to cross-examine Amber Frey for a second day in the Scott Peterson murder trial. That is also straight ahead.

KAGAN: Also right now, Carol Costello at the CNN Center in Atlanta for a look at what's happening right now in the news. Carol, good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Daryn. Thank you.

Authorities in California are reportedly on watch for a Wisconsin man in connection with the killings of two young campers. That's according to a California newspaper, the "Santa Rosa Press Democrat."

The bodies of 23-year-old Lindsay Cutshall and 26-year-old Jason Allen were discovered Wednesday on a remote beach in California.

In Sudan with millions suffering, British foreign secretary Jack Straw urged the Sudanese government to make a real effort to help refugees in Darfur. He visited some of the million plus people who are forced from their homes. Talks between the Sudanese government and rebel groups are continuing this morning.

More flight cancellations today by British Airways. The airline has scrapped at least 10 flights from London to European destinations. Yesterday more than two-dozen flights, many of them to the United States, were grounded stranding thousands of travelers at London's Heathrow Airport.

Staff shortages and technical problems with the planes are to blame.

And in California, Michael Newdow, that atheist now says he'll be back in court to challenge the Pledge of Allegiance again. The Supreme Court has refused to overturn its June ruling keeping Newdow from representing his 10-year-old daughter. Newdow says he'll file new charges in a federal court next month.

Back to you, Anderson.

COOPER: Carol thanks very much. The U.S. military is set to make history at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba today. There will be pre-trial hearings for the first suspected enemy combatants to face trial since the end of World War II.

National correspondent Susan Candiotti is live at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Good morning Susan.


Yes, in about a half hour from now, the military commission is scheduled to begin in that building you see way off in the distance over my shoulder, security is so tight here at the base. This is as close as they will allow us to get to it.

The first defendant to come up, we are told, will be wearing civilian clothes, not a typical orange jumpsuit. He is Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen, accused by the Pentagon of being a bodyguard and driver to Osama bin Laden and charged with conspiring to murder civilians as a member of al Qaeda.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): From this wooden building and at six by eight foot holding cells equipped with a cot, toilet and a copy of the Qur'an, the first of four defendants accused of war crimes will be taken to court.

Uncertainty over exactly how the Commission will work continues to dog defense attorneys.

LT. CMDR. PHILLIP SUNDELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Aside from the process is already been started, and they're still defining the rules as we go along, is a fundamental flaw that prevents there from being any possibility of a fair trial.

CANDIOTTI: An especially harsh criticism considering the source. One of the Pentagon's own attorneys, appointed to defend the accused. The decision to try U.S. detainees by military commission on foreign soil has raised eyebrows worldwide. MAJOR MICHAEL MORI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's a resurrected outdated system that doesn't provide the fundamental protections of procedure or independence of a judge or appeal.

CANDIOTTI: Technically, there is no judge, no independent finder of fact. Here, a presiding officer for example also votes on the verdict.

Critics suggest the suspected al Qaeda terrorist could just as easily be tried by court marital with well-tested rules and procedures but the Pentagon says they don't qualify for a court marital because they're technically not prisoners of war fighting for a nation's army.

Human rights organizations are among those protesting.

SAMAN ZIA-ZARIFI, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The United States would not be happy if American personnel -- if Special Forces, for instance -- were arrested in Iran or Syria and subjected to this kind of military commission.

CANDIOTTI: Don't pre-judge, says the Pentagon.

LT. SUSAN MCGARVEY, MILITARY SPOKESWOMAN: I think, over the course of time, people will see that this is the proper venue for trying war crimes during an ongoing armed conflict.

CANDIOTTI: A conflict called the war on terror with no end in sight.


CANDIOTTI: Again, no testimony is expected today. A plea might be entered. Motions will be heard, and there's no telling how long the proceeding will actually last. Remember, there'll be approximately 600 or so detainees here, so called enemy combatants, only 15 have been called eligible for trial so far, and so far only four have been charged -- Anderson.

COOPER: Susan Candiotti live in Guantanamo Bay. Thanks Susan -- Daryn.

KAGAN: First they attacked his military service record, now the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth are going after John Kerry's anti-war statements. Meanwhile, a new CNN poll shows the race is as tight as ever in one key battleground state.

Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is live in Washington to help us look at some of these new numbers. Bill, good morning.


KAGAN: Let's get these numbers out. First, asking voters -- registered voters -- in Florida who would be their choice for president.

SCHNEIDER: And what you can see there is that in July Bush had a narrow lead, five points, .9 to 44 over John Kerry. Now it's a dead heat, it's a tie. Well, what happened?

Some people might think well it's the wake of the hurricane, but it probably is the convention bounce. The convention bounce wasn't evident nationally, but we have seen some closing or tightening of the race -- Kerry slightly improved in some of the battleground states and Florida is certainly a battleground state.

KAGAN: It certainly is. Now let's tweak those -- the question a little bit and ask likely voters who they would choose and the numbers very, very close.

SCHNEIDER: That's right they are close there as well as you can see. Bush was four points ahead in July among likely voters. Two points ahead now.

This happens in a lot of states around the country. When Gallup screens out those who are most likely to vote, Bush does just a little bit better because traditionally Republicans are more mobilized, they tend to be wealthier and have higher educations so they tend to be more likely to vote, but Democrats make the point likely voters in August are not necessarily going to be likely voters in November and Democrats are pulling out all the stops to rally and energize their base.

KAGAN: Well, one of those stops could have been Mother Nature when Hurricane Charley roared through Florida a couple of weeks ago. President Bush was there visiting within 24 hours so we asked voters how they thought George W. Bush handled Hurricane Charley and what did they say?

SCHNEIDER: They said just fine. Seventy-one percent said he's -- they approved of the way he handled the hurricane and the damage. Just 16 percent disapproved; that's not nearly as many as are voting for John Kerry in Florida so it looks like President Bush did a fine job. Better, I should add, than his father, who got a 61 percent rating after Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992 at about the same point just before he faced reelection.

KAGAN: All right, lesson learned there. Now speaking of President Bush and the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth controversy. He came out and he has disavowed these 527 ads of all types, but he won't talk specifically about the ads -- the Swift Boat Veterans are putting out. Why is he handling it that way and why does that work well for him?

SCHNEIDER: Oh, it's called changing the subject. You ask me the question you want to ask I'll answer the question I want to answer. He's condemning all the ads because look there has been much more money spent on anti-Bush ads than on anti-Kerry ads like the Swift Boat ads.

Now that's a surprise, because all we've been talking about for weeks are the anti-Kerry swift boat ads. But yet they haven't spent a lot of money. Those ads ran in only a few states and the reason why they have obsessed the national attention for the last few weeks is the coverage by the free media. By us. By cable television news, by radio talk shows. They've been the talk of the country.

But they didn't involve a large expenditure. Most of the money has been spent on anti-Bush ads and that's why President Bush wants that money stopped.

KAGAN: And so here comes a new ad by the Swift Boat Veterans and they're not just attacking the medals that John Kerry might have won but they are attacking what he did after he came back from the war. Is that going to be effective?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I think this is potentially more damaging because the first ad could I think justifiably be called a smear. It was filled with uncorroborated charges that John Kerry had lied about his military record. But this ad is something he actually did -- he testified -- he endorsed accusations of atrocities committed by American troops.

Now there's been evidence and investigations over the years that atrocities did happen. That Americans were involved in them. And a lot of people say that may be true by it was demoralizing to American troops over there and it apparently has enraged these veterans -- that's what got them going in the first place.

This could be very damaging to Kerry because its undeniable that he was part of the -- he was -- not just a war hero he was an antiwar hero and people still resent that.

KAGAN: Bill Schneider in Washington. Bill, thank you.


COOPER: In the Scott Peterson trial the defense yesterday began cross-examining Peterson's ex-mistress Amber Frey. And what can we expect today?

That's the question Rusty Dornin is live with in Redwood City, California -- good morning Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, for those expecting fireworks yesterday they were disappointed there weren't any but there were very few sparks during the cross-examination by defense attorney Mark Geragos of Scott Peterson's former mistress Amber Frey.

The defense trying to portray Frey as a seductress, a liar, someone who would do anything to pursue a relationship with Scott Peterson and then do anything to incriminate him.

Amber Frey meantime maintained her composure appearing cool, calm and collected on the stand.


DORNIN (voice-over): When defense attorney Mark Geragos threw his first punch, it was a comedy line, telling a momentarily stunned courtroom he had no questions for Scott Peterson's former mistress Amber Frey. After a few chuckles, the highly anticipated cross-examination was underway. Geragos kept pressing Frey about how much alcohol was consumed on each date and how and when Scott Peterson lied about his travels.

Missing was some of the flamboyance Geragos often displays when questioning witnesses. But the intensity kicked up when he zeroed in on her first interview with police on December 30, six days after Laci Peterson was reported missing.

Frey admits she told investigators she would try to convince Peterson she was pregnant by him. "You definitely though you could convince him of the fact you were pregnant?"

"That it was a possibility." But Frey's credibility came into question when Geragos began asking her about the taping of calls with Peterson. "There was never a time as you sit here today that you are aware of that you ever hid anything from any of these detectives?" "Correct."

Geragos then presented a series of reports from police indicating she did call Peterson on different occasions and didn't report it, but Frey was adamant she hid nothing.

The judge told the jury Frey would be finished in one afternoon but Mark Geragos wasn't. The cross-examination will resume this morning.


DORNIN: Frey will be back on the stand in about three hours to continue that cross-examination and then of course prosecutors there will be back and forth. But she is expected to wrap up this morning and her attorney previously had indicated that she perhaps could give a statement to reporters -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Rusty Dornin; thanks very much.


KAGAN: The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened yesterday in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Center teaches and preserves the history of slavery in America. The museum includes a slave pen depicting the pain and horror suffered by Africans forced into slavery. The Center also aims to inspire and challenge people to struggle for civil rights.

Some of Ohio's most well-know native sons helped dedicate the museum.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill Hemmer, who will continue this program.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: It's great to be home in my hometown and our hometown tonight. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: Headed by a host of luminaries from politics, Hollywood, and academia, underscoring the national and local importance of the Freedom Center. Great to see Bill up there.

COOPER: He looked great.

KAGAN: You know -- he's home -- he's in the Natti.

COOPER: He's in the Natti.

KAGAN: He says all roads lead to the Natti.

COOPER: Is that right?

KAGAN: It's true.

COOPER: I did not know that. He'll be back in tomorrow. Still to come, ABC may be ready to sack Monday Night Football. Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business" on that.

KAGAN: Plus exercise and a good diet can lower your blood pressure but by how much? Some alarming new numbers on hypertension are out. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has that.


KAGAN: New studies show a striking increase in just how many adults have hypertension, a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to shed some light on these sky rocketing rates at CNN Center. Good morning, Sanjay.


Yes, some pretty alarming numbers here. Large studies being done. This is a big deal talking about blood pressure and heart disease. Study of about 4500 people, a survey trying to figure out are we heading in the right direction or the wrong one?

What they find -- one out of three adults -- a third of adults right now suffer from high blood pressure. Just to give you the numbers. The last time a survey like this was done, 65 million people had high blood pressure in 2000. That was up 30 percent from the survey that was done five years before that.

What is high blood pressure? First of all, a lot of people focus on the numbers. One forty over 90, that's the way they define it now. The American Heart Association. If you're taking a hypertension medication, you're also considered to have high blood pressure, obviously.

Or if you have a medical history of high blood pressure then you're considered to be someone who is at risk as well even if you don't have it now. Daryn, the numbers are startling. They are going in the wrong direction. Why is it happening? One is that on the one hand we're just becoming an older population and high blood pressure is associated with older age.

Eighty percent of hypertensives are over the age of 45. Also, the obesity epidemic that we all talk about so much -- that contributes to high blood pressure, hypertension as well.

Also, sort of the last one I put in there to talk about -- the fact that guidelines are actually lower now to declare someone hypertensive, 140 over 90 the guidelines. That actually qualifies more people as hypertensive as well, Daryn.

KAGAN: So Sanjay, we hear that diet and exercise can help, but how much do they really help?

GUPTA: You know, they really do help, and I think -- let me point out a couple of numbers here, because I think it's important to look at blood pressure in the context of your risk of heart disease or heart attack. Take a look at the numbers here.

Every 20 millimeter increase in systolic blood pressure -- that's the upper number -- that's going to double your risk of heart attack or stroke or every ten millimeter increase in the bottom number, diastolic number, is going to double your risk, so when you're measuring your blood pressure, when you're thinking about these numbers comparing it to hypertensive guidelines, look at that. Doubling the risk is pretty significant, obviously.

KAGAN: And in other heart news, Sanjay, we hear about HGL or the good cholesterol. Now doctors are telling us that the good cholesterol might not always be good? That's a little bit confusing.

GUPTA: Yes, you know -- see the thing is that nothing is easy, really, when it comes to some of this stuff. People talk about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.

Let me try to make this as simple as possible. HGL is often considered the good cholesterol. What scientists have sort of getting on to for some time now it's not just how much HGL you want to shoot above 40 but it's the quality of your good cholesterol as well.

Not all good cholesterol is the same. What good cholesterol is thought to do is sort of sweep up all the bad cholesterol which is a good thing but if you -- if the quality of the good cholesterol is not good enough so to speak then it's not going to do its job, so you want to measure not only the quantity of your good cholesterol but the quality of it as well and scientists are figuring out tests to do that as we speak Daryn.

KAGAN: So now we need some good good cholesterol.

GUPTA: That's right. Good good.

KAGAN: Got it. Very good. Sanjay thank you. Still to come the connection between Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction and the war in Iraq? Sounds like a stretch, but Jack Cafferty can fill in the blanks for us.

Plus a look at the business day just ahead. Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.


COOPER: Welcome back.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: If you have a television show that is consistently in the top ten every week and you still manage to lose money on it, well you're just not very bright.

Talking about ABC and "Monday Night Football." Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business." What up with that?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Are you ready for some losses? This is unbelievable. I had no idea that "Monday Night Football" lost so much money and the "L.A. Times" is reporting that ABC is thinking about giving this up.

You know it was in 1970 that Roone Arledge put Dandy Don Meredith, Howard Cosell and Keith Jackson in the booth that was 34 years ago. History was made. An incredibly successful program.

I -- my personal favorite was when they had Gifford, Cosell and Meredith and the tension was great. You know, what would Howard say? When would Dandy Don Meredith start singing turn out the lights? The party is over, baby?

But you know it's gotten a little long in the tooth and as you're saying Jack, the ratings are pretty incredible. Let's take a look here. It's the number eighth rated show.

A lot of the top ones, of course, are reality programs. You can see here. Only "CSI" is a real television program I like to call them.

But here's the thing. It's the eight highest rated show and it loses $150 million a year. I mean it's remarkable.

COOPER: Is it because it costs so much to do?

SERWER: The rights costs so much, that's right, Daryn. And you know, it costs them $550 million a year in rights. The network loses $250 million a year right now according to analysts but $150 million of the $250 million is "Monday Night Football."

CAFFERTY: You know in a local stations around the country ABC affiliates aren't going to like them taking this thing off the air. It's the lead in to the local news. And it delivers a big audience. So there will be some screeching and squalling.

SERWER: And a big male audience too and you know I think that you know the Al Michaels-John Madden combination I mean they're both good but together they're a little...

CAFFERTY: The markets? Oil prices on their way down again today?

SERWER: Yes, and futures are looking good. So we will be checking that out pretty soon. I can't see the clock. But...

CAFFERTY: That would be about...

SERWER: You can see the clock.

CAFFERTY: About 33 minutes from now.

SERWER: You can do that. Thank you. Thank you for that, Jack.

CAFFERTY: All right. Time for "The Cafferty Files." Researchers in California unveiling a group of enhanced athletes that can run farther and faster and longer than their naturally bred relatives.

We're talking genetically engineered mice. Marathon mice, they call them, the gene that modifies them mimics exercise, even when they're completely inactive, something that has never happened to me.

The creation follows the genetic engineering works of the Schwarzenegger mice, rodents that bulked up after injections of muscle-building genes. So the question is can genetically altered Olympic athletes be far behind? In 2008 look for the 30 second mile.

Janet Jackson. Remember old Janet? Claiming in the October issue of "Genre" magazine that George Bush and his administration used her wardrobe malfunction at the Super bowl to distract from the war in Iraq.

Now earlier I promised you the video. Looks like we're only looking at a still picture here so I apologize. Janet believes she was the perfect vehicle for the president to take the focus off himself and the war. That whole family is just certifiable.

They're all nuts. She says it's a bunch of bull and Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" confirms it. She says she shouldn't have apologized because it was an accident. I mean, they're just -- they should take them all away in a net.

Researchers at the University of Ohio say if your ears fingers and feet don't match you are probably more aggressive than normal people when annoyed or provoked. The study found that men and women with slight physical imperfections reacted with more anger when antagonized and had poorer impulse control so not only are you flawed but you're more likely to get in bar fights and be an overall unhappy person and besides that you look funnier than the rest of us.

COOPER: Which is maybe why you get into bar fights.

CAFFERTY: Could be, yes. The ridicule you have to put up with.

SERWER: And what's "Genre" magazine, by the way? Does anyone know what "Genre" magazine is?

CAFFERTY: Oh, the scorecard? No, I don't have any idea.

I just read this stuff. Casey (ph) is the producer who puts this stuff together.

SERWER: I need a subscription. Here's the scorecard. Number of days since the 9/11 Commission made recommendations for protecting the country against terrorism: 28. Number of day's recommendations adopted by the Congress: zero.

Congress is still on vacation but you know who's working? Pat Roberts, that guy from Kansas. I like his ideas. He's taking a hard look at the thing and he's come up with some suggestions on how to move forward and as far as I can tell he's the only one down there who's done anything that drastic since this report came out.

KAGAN: Has some people nervous in Washington, that's for sure.

CAFFERTY: Well, good.

SERWER: One out of 100.

KAGAN: Thank you so much Jack. Andy. Still to come after weeks of controversy, President Bush condemns ads like the one attacking John Kerry's war record. Was it too little too late for the president? We will ask one of Kerry's senior advisors. Stay with us.



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