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BP Not Utilizing More Environmentally Sound Dispersants; Intelligence Suggests More Terror Attempts By Pakistan Taliban; Director of National Intelligence Resigns; New Terror Threat: Pakistani Taliban Actively Plotting; Intelligence Chief Blair Resigns; Doping in Cycling; New Jersey Turnpike Accident
Aired May 21, 2010 - 07:03 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: All right, well, BP final admitting what many experts have been telling us for weeks and that is that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is bigger than they estimated. Some experts say it could be leaking, actually, 100,000 barrels a day. You remember the 5,000 barrel a day number that was going out there.
Well, the White House is now dispatching a team to the site to determine the correct total once and for all.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: BP says it hopes to have the spewing well shut off by next week. On Sunday, they plan to stuff mud and concrete into the gusher, hoping to stop it up.
CHETRY: And as for that 24-hour live video spill BP promised to have up and running, it is not. We've been monitoring it all night long. And there's been nothing but black there you see on the screen. Right now, we're told it could though be up and running within the next hour.
ROBERTS: More than a month into this catastrophe the EPA is finally stepping up, ordering BP to change to a less toxic chemical to disperse the giant oil slick.
CHETRY: And we bring in our Ed Lavandera is in Pasadena, Texas this morning. A lot of talk has been about the dispersants and whether or not their toxic. This is something that environmentalists started sounding the alarm bell after the first couple of days and indeed we did learn that they do believe it's toxic.
You've uncovered a less toxic dispersant not being used in the Gulf?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Last week, BP announced it would be adding to the arsenal of dispersants a product called Sea Brat-4, in addition to what's known as Corexit, which many environmentalists have been very concerned about. So far more than 650,000 gallons of dispersant have been placed into the Gulf of Mexico, 55,000 of that underwater.
But this stuff behind me, all of these containers are considered much less toxic than Corexit. The question is why is it still sitting here? (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
LAVANDERA: Hundreds of containers are just sitting here in the Houston sun. To some it's another example of the mismanagement of the oil spill. The containers are full of a dispersant called Sea Brat-4. Why is it sitting here and not in the ocean instead. No one really knows, especially says BP is on record saying it would use the stuff.
DOUG SUTTLES, COO, BP: We also have a second product called Sea Brat-4 which we'll introduce into the process as well.
LAVANDERA: That's what BP said almost a week ago, but we found the Sea Brat-4 sitting here. You're looking at it, almost 100,000 gallons of the less toxic dispersant. Guess who ordered it? BP did on May 4th, almost three weeks ago.
John Sheffield is president of the company that makes it.
JOHN SHEFFIELD, PRESIDENT, ALABASTER CORPORATION: It's ridiculous. I think something is intentionally stopping us from getting our product to the water.
LAVANDERA: EPA and coast guard officials say there's nothing stopping them from using Sea Brat 4. Sheffield says he could be making 50,000 to 100,000 gallons a day. But a BP spokesman will only say the company had to use what was readily available and stockpiled and it has been asked to find add alternatives to Corexit. And getting a direct answer is hard for Congress to get as they grilled BP executive Lamar McKay this week about the issue.
REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D) NEW YORK: Who decided which dispersant to use? BP?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
NADLER: You don't know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know the individual --
NADLER: I didn't ask the individual. Was it BP who decided or the government who decided or the national incident command?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
NADLER: You don't know? Could you find out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LAVANDERA: Easier said than done. There's no word on who's making the call, while 100,000 gallons of potential help sits hundreds of miles away.
LAVANDERA: BP keeps going back and saying they are waiting for the EPA's approval to be able to use this. But EPA and the coast guard keep telling me over the last few days there is nothing holding BP back from using this material sitting here in Houston.
Interestingly enough as well, John and Kiran, the company that makes Corexit, which has been used so far in the Gulf exclusively, posted online a couple of days ago that they announced they would be making $40 million in profit by the end of this week.
CHETRY: It's amazing that the EPA is just talking about this now because it was just days after they announced they were using this dispersant that many environmentalists raised concern about the toxicity.
LAVANDERA: Yes, they have. And remember, it had been put on hold for under water use. It was a week ago today that the EPA gave the go-ahead for the under water use. That's why you see the levels of dispersants being used underwater far different from the grand total used so far.
CHETRY: Ed Lavandera for us this morning, thanks.
ROBERTS: North Korea putting South Korea on notice today, saying if Seoul attempts any response to their current dispute it could lead to all-out war. That's after South Korea said it can prove a North Korean sub sank one of its ships back in March, killing 46 soldiers.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Asia on a weeklong trip in a news conference in Tokyo. Clinton said North Korea must be held accountable.
CHETRY: Also new this morning, Lance Armstrong crashing out of an eight-day race. He didn't break bones but you'll see a picture posted on twitter showing a nasty cut on his face under his eye, and some scrapes on his arm and leg.
Armstrong is denying the new doping allegations coming from fellow American cyclist Floyd Landis. Landis admitting in emails he doped for years and also indicated implicated Armstrong. Armstrong immediate denied it, and in 30 minutes we'll talk more about that with the author of "Tour Delance," Bill Strickland.
ROBERTS: This morning we may be one step closer to creating, are you ready for this, artificial life. Scientists in Maryland have successfully produced a living cell fueled by man-made DNA. It is the first synthetic cell. It self-replicates. It's parent is a computer
The inventors hope one day it will lead to new fuels, better ways to clean polluted water, and faster vaccination production. The announcement got President Obama's attention. He's asking for a special commission to examine the synthetic cell and report back to him with actions the government to make sure that the American people benefit from it -- and not create a monster.
CHETRY: There you go.
They came too close in Times Square. Now a warning that the Pakistani Taliban is not giving up on striking in the U.S. We're live in Washington with new information on some of the plots. It's 10 minutes past the hour.
ROBERTS: Coming up on 13 minutes after the hour.
There is a new terror threat to worry about, an intelligence officials telling CNN the Taliban in Pakistan is still plotting to strike the United States after it came so close on May 1st in Times Square. Our Jeanne Meserve is working her sources in Washington and joins us now live with the latest.
Certainly we heard from Mehsud that the Pakistani Taliban wanted to attack the United States, and now we're hearing from American officials. What are they telling us?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: A U.S. official tells CNN and U.S. intelligence has strong reason to believe that the Pakistani Taliban is actively plotting to hit the U.S. homeland and American interests overseas. The threat information is no so detailed it names specific cities, the official said, but it does come from multiple streams of intelligence, including from Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the attempted bombing of Times Square.
Administration officials have linked Shahzad to the Pakistan Taliban, and the source says that during a trip earlier this week, CIA Director Leon Panetta and national security adviser Jim Jones relayed the new terror information to the Pakistan government. John?
ROBERTS: So, another big story today in the intelligence community is that Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, is expected to resign. What's behind all of that?
MESERVE: Well, the timing doesn't appear to be fortuitous here. He'll be handing in his resignation today. Although President Obama praised Blair in a written statement, it's no secret that there have been tensions between Blair and the White House.
One source familiar with the situation says Blair's candor created friction and that the White House didn't share Blair's vision of what the DNI should be. In addition, congressional sources say turf wars with CIA director Leon Panetta, which Blair lost, made him a very unhappy camper.
There have also been two recent close calls, attempt on Christmas day to bring down an airliner. Blair has taken some of the blame. A report on the botched Christmas day attack issued days just ago by the Senate intelligence committee highlighted 14 points of failure and said that the National Counterterrorism Center, which Blair oversees, was not organized to fulfill its mission.
Though Blair's resignation isn't even in, the White House has already spoken to two potential replacements, we're told. John Hamre, a defense official in the Clinton administration, and General Jim Clapper, defense undersecretary for intelligence -- John.
ROBERTS: We'll keep watching that one closely. Jeanne Meserve for us this morning in Washington. Jeanne, thanks.
CHETRY: Well, there is a new terror threat and no one at the top of the terror fighting pyramid right now. So there are a lot of concerns. So we're going to be speaking with Fran Townsend about the key resignation in the Obama administration and what it means for the future of fighting terror. It's 15 minutes past the hour.
ROBERTS: It's coming up now on 19 minutes after the hour. And new information this morning about new threats against Americans. The Pakistani Taliban blamed for the Times Square bombing attempt may be trying again.
CHETRY: And probably not a good time to have a vacancy at the very top of our terror-fighting community. But that's exactly what we have right now after the director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, announced he is stepping down today.
Joining us with more on this now is CNN contributor Fran Townsend. She's a former Bush Homeland Security adviser and Fran is also an unpaid member of the CIA's advisory board along with other former senior government officials who need occasionally or provide advice to CIA Director Leon Panetta.
Good morning. Nice to see you this morning, Fran.
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, how are you?
CHETRY: Great. I want to ask you first about this intelligence they're getting about the Pakistani Taliban perhaps plotting another attack on the U.S. or American interest overseas. Some of the information they did get they say from Faisal Shahzad, that they say there were other streams as well. How big of a threat in your estimation are these potential plots by the Pakistani Taliban?
TOWNSEND: Sure, well, Kiran, let's go back. I mean, Mehsud did, as John mentioned earlier, issued threats on a videotape. We then saw Faisal Shahzad. We know that he had other targeting packages. And so this shouldn't really surprise us that between his debriefing and other threat streams, that the intelligence community now believes there is some near-term threat to Americans here in the United States. The real question for them will be where. And they're clearly looking to identify are there cities that are targets? Are there icons that are targets? And that will be the focus of that investigation.
ROBERTS: All right. Let's turn to the departing Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair. What was it, Fran, that led to his demise here? What is one thing in particular, a culmination of a number of events, the Christmas Day bombing, the Times Square thing, the Senate report that came out? But it was critical of all of the intelligence agencies. Why do you think he's going?
TOWNSEND: Yes, you know, John, I don't think it was any -- to your point, I don't think it's any one of those things. Look, going back, Admiral Blair -- there were some tensions with Director Panetta. My sense of that having seen them both together that that had sort of been smoothed out over time. Although there was some really bruising battles and Blair was on the losing side of almost all of them. There were missteps before Congress. There were tensions inside the White House. I'm also told that it's a personality matter. You've got a very bright, engaged president and with a lot of charisma, and there wasn't a real chemistry between them.
I will tell you having sat in many of those briefings during the prior administration, chemistry and confidence between the president and his chief intelligence adviser is very, very important. And clearly, when the president looked to Leon Panetta and Jim Jones to go to Pakistan on this very serious threat --
TOWNSEND: -- it was a slap at him. It was an indication of a lack of confidence on Admiral Blair.
CHETRY: But some are saying it might have been a no-win situation. David Ignatius and "The Washington Post" are writing that Blair essentially had a job where the powers were defined in law but not necessarily in practice. The third head of the DNI and inheriting a lot of the confusions, conflicts and in some cases the bureaucracy. And so a lot of critics say, really it just adds more layers to the intelligence community that it was supposed to streamline. So essentially was Dennis Blair or any DNI chief set up to fail?
TOWNSEND: You know, Kiran, you're right. It is absolutely accurate to say, when this legislation was originally put forward during the prior administration, the view was that the DNI should have budget authority, personnel authority. That is the hire and fire people like the director of the CIA. And he didn't get that. There was a bruising battle among members of Congress and he didn't get that. And so he has a lot -- the DNI has a lot of responsibility and not the kinds of authorities he needs.
It really that -- what that really results in is the president must be clear on the role he wants the DNI to play, and the DNI must be comfortable in taking on those responsibilities. It's clear in this case between Admiral Blair and President Obama there was a mismatch and misunderstanding of expectations and responsibilities. And it will be very important that whoever the new DNI is, understands and accepts what the president's view of that position is.
ROBERTS: So when you look, Fran, then at the way that the director of National Intelligence was laid out legislatively and then how Congress didn't fully come to the plate or however you want to put it on the roles for the DNI, is that position even relevant?
TOWNSEND: You know, John, the reason it was created, still fundamentally exists. And that is you've got the director of CIA who is rightly consumed with fighting the war on terror, with covert operations, all the sort of operational things.
And he does have a more than full-time job. The DNI was meant to be what I call the enterprise manager. That is he's supposed to look across 16 agencies, look at their budgeting, look at their capabilities, making sure that they've got common standards, common training, that they speak the same language when they discuss the credibility of sources. And all those things are very important after we saw intelligence failures about WMD in Iraq.
And so you need an enterprise manager but that's not an operational job. That's very much the CEO looking at a strategic level and letting the CIA director be the operations and tactics guide. And so they're very different responsibilities, both if it's done correctly, both should be necessary and effective.
CHETRY: It just sounds so hard, especially when the CIA, the very nature is covert. I mean, they don't want to share the information unfortunately with, you know, or have a parallel investigation with the director of National Intelligence. Seems like a no-win situation.
TOWNSEND: That's right, Kiran. And truthfully, I don't -- I think that's why you see three DNIs out of the four years, I think it is. We're about to have our fifth. I think this is -- they either have to fix it or do away with it. But one way or another to your point, what we don't need it to be is just an added layer of bureaucracy that impedes progress especially when we have such serious threats out there.
ROBERTS: Fran Townsend for us this morning. Fran, always great to see you. Thanks so much.
ROBERTS: Still to come on the Most News in the Morning, the oil slick in the gulf. It's now making its way into the loop current, posing a very real danger to the already fragile existence of the blue fin tuna.
Our Rob Marciano has got a live report coming up right after the break. It's 25 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: Twenty-seven minutes now after the hour. Time for this morning's top stories.
We now know how insurgents were able to get so close to the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan. An official tells CNN the insurgents who attacked the Bagram Air Base on Wednesday were wearing U.S. Army style battle fatigues. We don't know whether they were stolen or whether they were purchased in the black market. They fired rocket propelled grenades at the base and were wearing suicide belts. They didn't detonate though. Troops killed 16 attackers during the firefight.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Asia as the crisis between North and South Korea intensifies. First Japan then China and South Korea. Clinton was supposed to focus on U.S.-China economic issues. That was before South Korea accused the North of firing a torpedo that sank a naval warship back in March that killed 46 sailors.
And look at what they have done. This is new video. The black tide arriving on Elmer's Island, Louisiana. Thick, disgusting sludge washing ashore. No one saw it coming. Local leaders say they thought it was still 14 miles off the coast and may have been one of those underwater plumes. It just came up to the surface in shallow water -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Literally it looks like chocolate pudding. So sad.
Well, also this morning, the minute by minute 24 hours a day live feed that BP promised to show of the oil plume is actually not running. The Web site you're supposed to be able to see is at is globalwarming.house.gov/spillcam. And there's a shot of it right now. You can see for yourself that it is black.
Congressman out of Massachusetts Ed Markey says it will be up and running at 8:30 Eastern and that we will be able to see it then. But here's what you're supposed to see when it is back up and running. We recorded this actually yesterday afternoon and this is a shot of the oil spilling out of there. And you can see the plume and you can see the oil flowing out of there. And, of course, this is happening every minute of every hour of every day.
But again, also, we heard for the first time from BP, they were talking a little bit about the fact that they may have underestimated the oil spill since the disaster began more than a month ago. BP has insisted it's 5,000 barrels a day coming out of that well.
We spoke to an engineer yesterday who said that the estimations there are widely off. That it's probably about 20,000 to as much as 100,000 barrels of oil a day leaking out of there. Now, BP says though that it's siphoning 5,000 barrels a day using that mile-long siphoning tubes. So according to their estimates, it would mean that they'd be capturing all the oil, obviously not. So there's another look and again, we will be seeing a little bit later today this camera up and running again live of the spill -- John.
ROBERTS: All right. Well, that oil in the Gulf now making its way into what's called the loop current that sort of traverses around the gulf and then empties itself out around the Florida keys poses a very real danger to the already fragile existence of the blue fin tuna.
Our Rob Marciano live in Gulfport, Mississippi this morning. And Rob, you've been spending some time with marine biologists who don't like the scenario that's beginning to play out. What are they finding out?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John and Kiran, so much talk over the last few weeks. We've been reporting on what's going on close to shore, the oil washing up on shore and the sensitive wetlands, the actuaries, the birds and the marine life that frequent the shoreline. But you better believe that this spill is having a big impact on the fish that are swimming out in the open waters, from the biggest one in the sea to the ones you can barely see.
MARCIANO (on camera): Oh, wow, this is cool. What exactly am I looking at here?
DR. ERIC HOFFMAYER, UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI: Now you're looking at a larvae of a blue fin tuna, basically, blue fin tuna babies.
MARCIANO (voice-over): Dr. Erick Hoffmayer is a biologist at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab. He has a team of scientist currently exploring gulf waters near the oil slick.
HOFFMAYER: They've been out there for about four or five days and it's a planned whole day trip.
MARCIANO: Right now their research vessel is near the southern edge of the spill. Biologist Jim Franks reports from the ship via satellite.
JIM FRANKS, BIOLOGIST: Temperature today is 86 degrees, it's awfully warm.
MARCIANO: It turns out that loop current getting all of the press lately does more than just move warm water and potentially oil towards Florida. The current is a breeding ground for lots of marine life, including rare blue fin tuna.
HOFFMAYER: You've got lots of nutrients into the loop current, so it becomes a signature for these animals to spawn around.
MARCIANO: The gulf is only one of two known blue fin spawning grounds. The other is in the Mediterranean. Hoffmayer says blue fin tuna sushi popularity, especially in Asia, has driven down the population, 82 percent.
HOFFMAYER: The problem we have, they are tremendously over fished.
MARCIANO: Another concern for Hoffmayer's team, is whale sharks, the largest fish on the planet. They can grow up to 60 feet long and they also live in the Gulf of Mexico.
HOFFMAYER: The oil spill is in prime essential (INAUDIBLE) primarily feeding habitat. And we're about in prime whale shark season.
MARCIANO (on camera): This is bad timing.
HOFFMAYER: Very bad timing.
MARCIANO (voice-over): Aquatic toxicologist Dr. Joe Griffitt has been studying the oil and the dispersants closely.
HOFFMAYER: We have a saying in toxicology, you know, the dose makes the poison. Anything is toxic in high enough concentrations for prolonged enough exposure period.
MARCIANO: The lab here is full of last year's samples. Biologists wonder if this year's larvae will come back as healthy.
(on camera): I would think that a little guy like this, even if he gets into a little bit of sheen, that's not going to make it easy.
HOFFMAYER: It's not and most of these larva are collected at the top 10 meters of the water column. So most of these larva are at or near the surface of the water.
MARCIANO: So what does that make you think about? When you start to hear about sheen getting into the loop current where these guys are?
HOFFMAYER: It's not going to be good. I mean, it could have tremendous impacts on blue fin as well as other species.
CHETRY: All right. Well, that was Rob Marciano reporting from the Gulf. And a lot of stories to tell. (INAUDIBLE) we wait and see just what the impact is.
ROBERTS: Yes. If it is in the loop current and takes it past the coral reef by the Keys and up through the keys, marathon, Key Largo, that will not be a good scene.
CHETRY: No. And so many environmentalists are saying that perhaps it would have gotten roughed up enough that by the time it got there it wouldn't be as devastating but still can't help to get there.
ROBERTS: Those reefs are already under stress, so anything else out there is not going to be good, no matter how you cut it.
CHETRY: Well, still ahead, American cyclist Floyd Landis, after years of denying that he had anything to do with doping, he's now admitting he did in the sport of cycling for years. He's also pulling Lance Armstrong into the controversy. We're talking to the editor at large of "Bicycling Magazine," Bill Strickland. That's coming up next. It's 34 minutes past the hour.
ROBERTS: 37 minutes now after the hour. Well, you could call it a bad day for Lance Armstrong. A nasty crash forced him to quit an eight-day race in California. He's also denying new allegations that he has used drugs for years. Those allegations coming from fellow cyclist and one-time team mate Floyd Landis.
Well, joining me now, Bill Strickland, he is the editor at large or "Bicycling" magazine and also author of the book "Tour De Lance." Bill, it's great to see you this morning. So the big question that everybody is asking is, you know, what Landis is saying about Lance and other cyclists true? He's probably telling the truth about himself.
BILL STRICKLAND, EDITOR AT LARGE, "BICYCLING" MAGAZINE: Right now, all we know is that there are allegations and they are very, very detailed and very specific. But Lance - there have been a lot of allegations about Lance.
STRICKLAND: Starting in 1999. His first win. There was a little doping controversy there. Through his entire career there have been allegations. Nothing has ever been proven. If these lead to an investigation and something can be proven, then it's bad news.
ROBERTS: So Lance Armstrong always comes out and he's been on this program many, many times, comes out and says I'm the most tested athlete in the world and he probably is or at least among them. And I've never had a positive test. There's never been any question. It's all been allegations and speculation and probably sour grapes to some degree. Is it possible for someone to be tested as much as he has and actually be using?
STRICKLAND: That I don't know. What we do know is that it is possible to be tested and not get caught. There have been riders who have been caught and then later confess that they have been using for years in past tests and were never caught. There have been riders who have confessed without being caught, including the Tour De France winner Bijaarne Riis.
So it is possible, it seems unlikely that you could be tested that much and be under that much scrutiny and go through this sort of examination.
ROBERTS: So help us out here. How do people use these drugs? You know, we're talking about steroids, human growth hormone, erythropoeitin, which boosts blood volume in terms of the number of red cells, autologous blood transfusions, which is taking your own blood and spinning it down and reinjecting it. How can they be doing all of these and not test positive?
STRICKLAND: Well, it's under doctor supervision right now. When the cyclists first started doping, they were doing it on their own and it was very dangerous. A lot of cyclists were dying of heart attacks. They realized they needed to get it under a medical program. And they've now figured it out. It's sort of you know, it's awful to phrase it this way, but it's as safe for them as going to the doctor and getting a prescription. You know, they know what they are doing in terms of -
ROBERTS: But is it the tests aren't keeping up with the science? What is it that somebody could actually be using this and still be able to say, hey, I've never tested positive? STRICKLAND: Right. That's a good question. The tests are always a little behind. Right now they are actually taking blood from all of the riders and creating what they call a biological passport, a picture of how your body functions normally. And so if that fluctuates, they won't know what you're doing but they'll know you're doing something then they really focus on you a little differently.
ROBERTS: So they get a baseline -
ROBERTS: And so they can see if things are different. Because I remember when Marco Pantani, who ended up killing himself after he was found to have used drugs, was it 1998 he won or 1997 that he won -
STRICKLAND: Yes, 1998. Tour de France and Tour of Italy.
ROBERTS: So he had insisted, "I don't use drugs, I just have a high hematocrit level because I'm a mountain climber and I spend a lot of time in the mountains and so many of these people have denied doing drugs. We're talking about bicycling, we're talking about baseball, we're talking about football, and it turns out they were dirty all along.
So can you trust anything that any of these athletes tell us?
STRICKLAND: I don't think you can trust anything they say. I think it's - for me it comes down to a matter of faith. You know, I spent a year following Lance. I was working on a book about him. And as part of doing that I also waded through 10 years of evidence about Lance and potential doping. And I just came to the conclusion that if you're really looking at the evidence objectively everything balances out and I'm sort of an agnostic when it comes to that. And I think that you believe he did or didn't and you find what support of your belief in the evidence.
ROBERTS: So you spent a lot of time with him? How much time?
STRICKLAND: I spent a fair - I was with the team pretty much the entire year - as an independent.
ROBERTS: Did you ever see anything where you went, I wonder what's going on here?
STRICKLAND: This year, well I would say while I claim to be an agnostic - this year, the comeback year I believe he was clean. I had really good access. I even got on the team bus once, unannounced, I just said to his team director, "hey let me on there." No one ever gets on there. They let me on alone and id did look in the refrigerator. I admit, I opened it up and no bags of blood.
ROBERTS: Was it going to be in the team refrigerator -
STRICKLAND: Who knows?
(CROSSTALK) STRICKLAND: I would say he's clean for the comeback.
ROBERTS: If what Landis says is true and it's not just the athletes but it goes to the coaches and the team officials and whoever else might be involved. What kind of impact might it have on the sport?
STRICKLAND: If this is true and there are investigations, you know, people are going to be brought down for perjury, some of the top names in the sport are going to be cleaned out. But really, it's just going to continue what's already happening. The sport is much cleaner. The younger riders are in the sport now sort of vocally and publicly condemn the people who are caught. So it's one more step forward.
ROBERTS: The flip side to the question I asked you just a second ago is can you trust any of these people to be telling the truth? On the flip side of that, can we trust that Floyd Landis is telling the truth? Does he have a real axe to grind here. He's basically out of the sport. He's a pariah. He has lost a lot of money trying to defend himself.
STRICKLAND: It's credibility that is a problem for Floyd. Since he has been caught, he spent $2 million on his legal defense fund. He wrote a book claiming he's innocent. He's at a really low point now with his racing career. He's not many people believe him.
ROBERTS: All right. Well, we'll see where this goes. Bill Strickland, it's great to see you this morning. I've read your fine magazine for a long time. Good to have you on.
ROBERTS: Appreciate it. Kiran.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
CHETRY: We're following breaking news this morning of a deadly accident that has now shut down a 26-mile stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike, the northbound lanes shut down from exits 4 to 7-a. They are saying that traffic is diverted to Interstate 295 and Route 130. But they say this was an accident that involved three different trucks and according to our affiliate, WPVI, out of Philadelphia, they say it was a dump truck, a box truck and a tanker that was hauling kerosene.
They're also saying it collided about 1:00 in the morning just north of exit 7 in Chesterfield Township. One of drivers they say was killed. They are not really releasing any identities according to WPVI but they are saying that they have to get the kerosene soaked sand cleaned up and off the highway and they also obviously have to remove those three huge trucks. Plus the fact that it's a deadly accident there's a big investigation going on as well.
But again this is - if you're heading north and you're trying to get past exit 7 on the New Jersey turnpike, you're going to have to find another way, at least for now. They say that they are hoping to get this opened by 9:00 a.m. but no promises right now. Again a deadly accident shutting down a 26-mile stretch of the New Jersey turnpike this Friday morning.
Still ahead, insurgents in Afghanistan who attacked the Bagram Air Base were wearing uniforms that looked like U.S. Army fatigues. Were they stolen or were they purchased illegally?
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is live at the top of the hour.
Also, Jacqui Jeras is going to be along with the morning's travel forecast right after the break. The weekend's here and, if you're lucky, that means you may be hitting the beach.
We got the forecast coming up.
CHETRY: It's going to be a pretty day in Manchester, New Hampshire. It already look gorgeous out there, 60 degrees. A little bit later, they're going up to a high of 78 and pure sunshine this morning.
ROBERTS: Lovely day in New Hampshire.
Forty-eight minutes after the hour. Let's get a quick check of this morning's weather headlines, our Jacqui Jeras in the Weather Center in Atlanta.
Good morning, Jacqui. Not so great where you are today.
JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, you guys are like glass half full, look at the beautiful sunshine, and I'm like rain today, unfortunately.
It is having a big impact, though, on a whole lot of people in the Atlanta metro area in particular. We've got some really heavy downpours. And take a look at these thunderstorms that have been training across the northern parts of Mississippi and Alabama. And, yes, you know right where that's going to be going, into North Georgia, so you're going to get a little break eventually.
But we are looking at rainy conditions - look at that. Very dreary, 62 degrees is the temperature. We've got some delays at the airport as a result, so a ground stop now at Hartsfield-Jackson means they can't take off to get there. And then we've also got some delays at Chicago O'Hare of about 50 minutes and those delays due to some rain and some low clouds that have been moving across the Great Lakes too, even Milwaukee and Detroit could get in on some of those delays, as well as Cleveland later on this morning.
You know, our storm system kind of a slow mover and heading up towards the north and the east. A slight risk that we could see some severe thunderstorms within this lineup towards Nashville, maybe towards Evansville and even into Indianapolis later on today. Here's that glass half full, looking good across the northeast, plenty of sunshine. And you guys are going to get at least a good part, you know, maybe the first part of the weekend anyway, as you head into Saturday. But by late Saturday night and into Sunday that rain pushes into the northeast and mid-Atlantic states. It's going to be heavy at times, so make your barbecue plans or your outdoor plans early in the weekend.
John and Kiran, back to you.
ROBERTS: Jacqui, thanks so much.
New information about a gathering terror threat. We've been following this all morning. American officials say the Pakistani Taliban is actively plotting to strike U.S. targets.
We're going to go to Washington for the latest coming up for you at the top of the hour.
But right now it's 49 minutes after.
CHETRY: Time now to find out what made the cut this week.
We have John Avlon and Max Kellerman with us every Friday. We're going to run down some of the outrageous and at times contagious stories that got us talking off camera.
And first off, of course, who can stop talking about the oil spill in the gulf? All of the finger pointing as the Gulf of Mexico getting more poisonous by the second. And you know, BP doing a lot of PR, but most people actually have two letters on their minds. That's B and S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: BP says the size of the oil spill in the gulf is irrelevant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've taken a very snide attitude to the point where the - the CEO of BP says this is a drop of the bucket into the sea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost comical.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That there was a cascade of failures.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whether the flow is 1, 5, 10, or 15,000 barrels per day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of us down here just want the finger pointing to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: I think most of us up here want it to stop too.
But, the bottom line, why can't anybody just say it's my fault or I have a solution here?
JOHN AVLON, CNN INDEPENDENT ANALYST: Because they're trying to spin their way out of an oil spill, and it just doesn't work that way.
MX KELLERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I take responsibility when there isn't $100 billion full - worth of lawsuits, you know? Then it's easy to take responsibility.
CHETRY: Yes. But is it crazy to think that if you can - know how to dig, you know, 5,000 feet down into the ocean and pull up tons and tons and tons of oil, that you should know what to do when something goes wrong?
AVLON: You should know when - yes. You should know how to stop it when you screw up. Yes.
Rather than trying to pass the buck and finger-point, the people who are trying to make this a political football especially are just beyond the pail.
CHETRY: And there's a sports angle because golf balls could be the solution. (INAUDIBLE) Seinfeld?
KELLERMAN: Yes. And by the way, when you look at who's actually to blame, it was BP saying, no, no, no, forget about the safety precaution. Let's go forward.
AVLON: I'll tell you one thing, BP is paying for every single dollar. That's not one cent of taxpayer dollar should go to clean up their mistake.
CHETRY: Yes, we'll have to see about that one.
CHETRY: Meanwhile, the democracy --
KELLERMAN: You can dream.
CHETRY: Yes. Exactly. You can dream.
Hypocrisy in our democracy, and sadly it's something that could be a weekly segment in itself. And this week, we got a double shot of it.
First, it was do as I say, not as I do for Indiana congressman, Mark Souder. He's an evangelical Christian and he had to step down after an affair with a staffer. And, just to make it even more interesting, sadly, they appeared in a little public service announcement together, talking about the importance of abstinence.
KELLERMAN: Have you seen this?
KELLERMAN: Have you watched the video?
AVLON: I love it. I love it.
KELLERMAN: I mean, the most hilarious thing to me is if you watch the video, the staffer have a crush on him, and you can see it. She idolizes him. And he's talking and she's trying to just kind of confirm what he's saying and support him, and he talks right over her. He doesn't even - he doesn't let her get a word in.
AVLON: Wait, wait - a politician who's usually self-involved? That's so crazy.
All right, what I love is a woman who will now forever be known, sadly, as the abstinence mistress. I mean, it doesn't get any better than this. Hypocrisy is the unforgivable sin in politics, people. When are you going to get that?
CHETRY: And this time there's a videotape, but not for the - not the type of videotape you're thinking of.
KELLERMAN: Yes. Sure.
CHETRY: All right. Well, of course, on the other side of the aisle, we had Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. He had a tough week.
He's the Democrats' best hope to keep Chris Dodd's Senate seat until a little speech he gave. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have learned something very important since the days that I served in Vietnam.
On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: I mean, he - he's taken full responsibility.
KELLERMAN: Because - because it's not $100 billion on the line, he takes full responsibility. It doesn't mean anything.
CHETRY: But the bottom line, we've seen time and time again, and - in this case, but in others, about exaggerations, if it - if it makes the resume look better and you're running for office.
Why do politicians think they can still get away with that, though?
AVLON: You know, especially when you're dealing with war. I mean, this isn't a gray area here, you either were in Vietnam or you weren't.
But there seems to be something about political life where people exaggerate. They spin. They don't think they're going to get caught.
KELLERMAN: So - so what happens here? He served during Vietnam, not in Vietnam.
CHETRY: But the point - the five deferments as well. He sought and received five deferments, and so that doesn't stick well.
CHETRY: There you go. You had to bring Cheney in too.
All right, well, before we go, we want to ask you if you've heard about this one, President Obama refusing some questions from reporters when he was signing a bill. It was a bill promoting freedom of the press at the time.
Then there's Arlen Specter, running for sixth term in the Senate, first one as a Democrat, who then thanked his fellow Republicans in the crowd, not once but twice. Yes. Well, he lost the primary on Tuesday.
How about the Hooters girl who wears an extra small, fired from her job for gaining too much weight?