– Transcripts

We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there.

Let’s get to Zain. She joins us now. This fire is pretty small, and it is burning in a remote canyon area near Malibu.

O’BRIEN: All right.


O’BRIEN: Arson the inescapable conclusion in more church fires in Alabama, but investigators still have no suspects. Lowery, 21, Bush 3. We’ll tell you why Philadelphia had to shut down their operation overnight.

Back with more in a moment.

VERJEE: OK. But are they really a long-term answer? I think you know the answer to that question in your heart of hearts.

And on the Daily Kos, which is a site from the left, the argument was these conservatives had nothing to do with civil lights, they have no right to lecture us.

Turning to Iraq now, where there have been three bomb blasts within 30 minutes today. Don’t give up your day job.

In an investigation called Operation Slap Shot, Tocchet allegedly took about 1,000 bets totaling $1.7 million.

MARIN: Well, no, the other thing you can focus on is, where there’s a lot of numbers provided to you. You can get stuck.

MARIN: Once I find the first number, I’ll start with that and I’ll take it as far as it lets me go.

VERJEE: Yes, an instant expert, yes.

Just a little over 24 hours ago you could have looked behind me and seen standing a small, quaint country church.

MARIN: Sure.

O’BRIEN: Ed’s never heard of that one, I think, Zain. Well, it worked. And at the memorial service, a number of political people made the point to honor Paul Wellstone’s memory, vice president — ex-vice president Mondale who was running in the state should be elected. I do, however, think that in a more subtle way, this actually rebounds to the credit of President Bush.

VERJEE: All right.

O’BRIEN: OK. I mean, this — the idea of civil rights in America has become now a consensus. That’s good news. Jeff Greenfield, excellent. OF INSURANCE: It could be a religious bias. Sudoku, the Japanese have been doing this since the ’80s. After the funeral yesterday, Kate O’Beirne, a prominent conservative writer, said liberals don’t know how to keep politics out of their funerals.

REV. Right?

Thank you.

Return to Transcripts main page


Alabama Church Fires; Funeral for Coretta Scott King Turns Political; Gambling Ring

Aired February 8, 2006 – 08:59 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. A 9 is not going to in that row.




Kelly, the King is coming to meet the president. It could be somebody angry at the Baptist churches. I am excited, although a bit worried that all these numbers I’m going to glaze over. Like, what’s the best way to attack something like this?

O’BRIEN: And just to give you the basics, you want to use all the digits.

Hey, look. And since it’s right here it can’t be here.



O’BRIEN: Tell us about that. So it’s got to be here. It is Sudoku Day here on AMERICAN MORNING. Chad Myers off today, nursing his cold and cough that he has. We’ve got to tell you who he is. JOSEPH LOWERY, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: She extended Martin’s message against poverty, racism and war.

GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would like to say something to my friend Joe Lowery. ANALYST: Well, I can’t say that, because she was such a symbol of a particular moment in American political history. How does this work? You know? I’m just getting my head around this. But I do think that — that, look, one of Robert Kennedy’s greatest speeches came when he told a crowd in Indianapolis that Martin Luther King had been shot.

And more on those political jabs at the Coretta Scott king funeral.

VERJEE: Do you have to be patient?

Coming up, big trouble at one of the nation’s biggest airports. Zain is down in the newsroom and she’s become an instant Sudoku expert.


CARTER: It was difficult for them personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the targets of secret government wiretapping, other surveillance. That’s added to the five churches that burned last Friday. And within hours, I think when the funeral was still going on, this popped up as the headline on “The Drudge Report,” which often begins the transmission through the — through particularly conservative media. Show us. And broken doors on several churches indicate forced entry. He escaped without injuries.



GREENFIELD: Well, when you remember the history of the black church in America in terms of the civil rights movement, I mean this is where Martin Luther King — Reverend Martin Luther King organized the Montgomery boycott, bus boycott back in ’56.

MARIN: Correct.

Meantime, hundreds of people in Sarajevo took to the streets today. But there was no politics in that speech.

O’BRIEN (voice over): It was the kind of funeral Martin Luther King was denied, the 10,000-seat congregation filled with members of Congress and four presidents.

O’BRIEN: So you jump around.

MARIN: Yes, I do. Coretta Scott King was remembered amid praise and politics.

EDWIN MARIN, “NEW YORK POST” SUDOKU GRANDMASTER: Just very quickly, in this, you have to get one through nine in every row, in every column, as well as in every three by three section.

O’BRIEN: The Duke of Sudoku. And now Iran’s president has his own idea about political correctness.

MARIN: Just because I see 4s there.


O’BRIEN: And while the president offered a dignified tribute bereft of political rhetoric, other speakers used some of their time at the pulpit for partisanship, as well as praise.

Also, a record number of Americans are relying on sleeping pills to get a good night’s rest. This protest one of the first mass demonstrations over the cartoons seen so far in Europe. We’ll be following the story and bring you developments as we get them.

MARIN: Right.




O’BRIEN: And on we go.

O’BRIEN: You sort of get the sense that these days nuance is dead.

VERJEE: I tried something…

MARIN: I’ll start out just scanning the puzzle, as I said. That’s the simple rules. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Coretta Scott King showed that a person of conviction and strength could also be a beautiful soul. After that, though, I’ll go to another number. He says Muslims have a “false picture” of his country.

The Danish prime minister now defending his country in the wake of criticism over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

New Jersey authorities say the bets were on football and basketball, but not hockey. We have no indication at this juncture that this fire is threatening any homes. They really don’t know why. I was. The brave widow turned fearless civil rights warrior laid to rest.

O’BRIEN: OK. And he told us when the talk turned to politics, he cringed a little bit — Zain. Among those accused, several NHL players and Janet Jones, the wife of hockey’s greatest player and current Coyotes head coach, Wayne Gretzky.

MARIN: No, you don’t.

Here’s what Gretzky had to say about this: “The reality is, I’m not involved, I wasn’t involved and I’m not going to be involved. Poverty abounds.

O’BRIEN: You know you need a 4 there. Included in the investigation are members of organized crime, current players, as well as the wife of a hockey legend.


MARIN: And since it’s up there it can’t be here. The big question in this, why is someone singling out these Baptist churches — Miles.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello again, Miles. Thank you.


O’BRIEN: And millions of us can’t get a good night’s sleep. We don’t even know you. It could be a number of motives. You were on a plane.

O’BRIEN: OK. That’s some 27,000 miles in 80 hours. It could be a devil, satanic thing. I mean, he came to the funeral, changed his plans, made a gracious speech. There could also be a Hollywood connection.

O’BRIEN: And you don’t need a dictionary for this.

Nevertheless, we are watching this very closely as the weather conditions for fires persist there. And it’s only just caught on here in the United States. It’s hard to keep politics out when you consider that part of what Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King represented was a huge political shift. These are some new pictures coming in to us here at CNN. I was talking to Will Shortz, who of course has written several books about this. JAMES POSEY, MORNING STAR BAPTIST CHURCH: What kind of joy, what kind of satisfaction did you get out of doing what you did? We weren’t bothering you. MATTINGLY (voice over): Smoldering ash and cement block steps, that’s all that’s left of the Morning Star Baptist Church in Boligee, Alabama, one of four burned Tuesday morning in rural western Alabama, one of nine in an apparent arson spree that began in another county on Friday. I’m like you guys, I’m trying to figure it all out.”

MARIN: I was.

O’BRIEN: David Mattingly in Alabama.


O’BRIEN: The civil rights leader, the Reverend Joseph Lowery, turned up the political volume, praising Coretta Scott King and criticizing the war in Iraq in the same breath. O’BRIEN: “The New York Post” headline, you won $5,000 and a trophy, beating out, what, about 1,600 other competitors to win the Sudoku championship for “The New York Post.”

MARIN: Correct.

MILES O’BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. We should mention, by the way, that Martin Luther King was wiretapped during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations at the direction of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who was a hero of that movement. The…

VERJEE: And I want some tips from you, because, you know, I wasn’t very good. And probably if you want to make your political points about the president, there are other venues to do it. If you like George Bush, this was horrible.

Former presidents Carter and Clinton, civil rights legend Joseph Lowery used their time at the pulpit to take some jabs at the current administration with the man, as you see, seated a few feet away, President Bush. Am I concerned for both of them? Sure there’s concern from me.

O’BRIEN: Yes. And these are also some new pictures coming in to us regarding one of those attacks.

O’BRIEN: No, it can’t be.

Elsewhere, plaster casts are made of tire tracks in the mud, possible signs of a quick getaway. And I think for people who are not politically committed — I mean, if you don’t like George Bush, this was fine. Now, I don’t want to — I mean, the problem is, when you get to be my age, you always think that the tomatoes were better in the old days. And we will hopefully have this done in about 30 seconds, all right?

The fires bring to mind more than 30 churches, most with African- American congregations, burned in the southeast a decade ago. Is that a sort of tip for beginners, or you’re just so great you just didn’t need that?

Sorry, Ed.

Another wildfire also to tell you about, this one burning east of Los Angeles. We know a 7 and a 9 aren’t going to be on those. The liftoff was originally set for Tuesday, but strong tailwinds and a fuel leak grounded that flight. Very quickly, as I mentioned, one through nine. And Rush Limbaugh on his Web site went off on Joseph Lowery, whose piece he played, and called it — and this was really the key, as you mentioned in your intro to this, “a Wellstone moment.”

I tell you what, before we get going, one that we haven’t shared as much with viewers this morning was former President Carter making reference to wiretaps, which of course has historical parallels here to Martin Luther King Day.

O’BRIEN: Got to be here.

WILL SELVA, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Former player and current assistant coach Rick Tocchet will meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in New York today. But does that create other problems? We’ll tell you. Tocchet will answer questions about his involvement in what could turn out to be one of the biggest sports betting scandals in history.

MARIN: Actually, I was flying from Munich to London.

VERJEE: Just have to know how to count. Was it appropriate? We’ll take a closer look at that.

O’BRIEN: Was that one of yours?

VERJEE: No — 5 here? All right. That is ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


O’BRIEN: There you go.

O’BRIEN: Among others. Live pictures from our affiliate KABC.


I think for a lot of people the idea is, do you really do this at a funeral?

We want to shift gears, though, a little bit on a developing story that we are following very closely.

O’BRIEN: Bonnie Schneider.

Hello, Bonnie.

VERJEE: Do you do that just 4, 4, 4, or do you do — you know, do you just jump progressively to 4, 5, or whatever strikes or catches your eye? Like maybe just 1 here?

O’BRIEN: It was quite a funeral, six hours. Officials trying to figure out how to get the fire crews on the ground there since it is a very remote era. The gambling ring has a connection to organized crime in Philadelphia and New Jersey. And the timing there very different than here. .

I’m with Edwin Marin, and he’s a grandmaster. A lot on their agenda, of course, including the protests by Muslims around the world and the Hamas elections — or Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections. For war, billions more. Right off the bat, I see that the repetition in fours makes we want to start in this section. Interesting.

And on the fire front, in a much different part of the world, in a different motivation, in a different cause, more churches could be in danger today. The location is Calabasas, California.

O’BRIEN: Moments later, the former President Bush rose in defense of his son, using humor to try and deflate the tension. But he has some bags, I’m happy to report. It’s coarse, isn’t it?

If everything goes as planned, Fossett should land near London on Saturday. At least two people were killed in those explosions. King Abdullah of Jordan sitting down with President Bush.


David, good morning. Oops.

VERJEE: A potential embarrassment for the National Hockey League. Ballot counting is now under way. It was very helpful.

Tens of thousands of voters turned out Tuesday. She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar.

VERJEE: Miles, let’s check the headlines now with Kelly Wallace. Most people spend their time at work not working but doing this. I’d scan there and there to know that that’s a 4.

MARIN: Correct.

The hot Santa Ana winds continue to blow in southern California, whipping up flames like you see here.

GREENFIELD: Absolutely. And this one has destroyed more than 6,500 acres. Investigators say an NHL assistant coach is behind a nationwide gambling ring.


Jeff Greenfield is here to talk about the implications of all of this. Is this an easy, medium or hard one?

Thanks, Kelly Wallace. They used to send this guy to Washington and I kept score in the Oval Office desk.

Will Selva, at CNN, Atlanta. And maybe you can use other sections to pick that up. Continuing with 4, we have a 4 on this column and a 4 on that column, so that 4 has to go down there.

VERJEE: It is. And Bonnie Schneider is the at CNN center. I’m more worried about them than me. We are watching it closely for you this morning.

VERJEE: More protests over controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Another bombing targeted Iraq’s minister of higher education. So 4, 4, and now where’s it going to be here? We know it can’t be in those two horizontal lines, right?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: That is right, Zain. So that’s good.

Now, we’ve set up a Sudoku puzzle. So that can give you some clues.

MARIN: Exactly.

GREENFIELD: You know, that was a moment that nobody wrote that for him. On a flight.


Some live pictures coming in to us from our affiliate KABC out in California.

O’BRIEN: All right. So it has to be here.

O’BRIEN: Whom can do that, do you suppose? Who were you thinking of in this case?

VERJEE: What are your strategies?

Early election results in Haiti could come later today. And there was a backlash to it that may have helped the Republicans take that Senate seat.

O’BRIEN: Back with more in a moment.

Let’s turn now to CNN Sports Correspondent Will Selva in Atlanta.

MARIN: Not that long.

So, you know, Edwin Marin is here to give…


O’BRIEN: Well, let’s talk about this, because when you talk about a Wellstone moment, timing is an awful lot in politics.

GREENFIELD: Among others.


David Mattingly joining us now from Boligee, Alabama, at the site of one of those fires. I also look for repetition in numbers. Miles was telling you about this just at the top of the hour. This kind and gentle woman became one of the most admired Americans of our time.

VERJEE: And you’re going to help us learn how to do this.

O’BRIEN: Right. You cannot repeat them vertically or horizontally or within these individual boxes. We’ll explain what that means and what the lingering political implications might be with Jeff Greenfield. Keep going.

Investigators say this professional hockey coach is a gambling kingpin.


Back in 2002, shortly before the election, Senator Wellstone was killed in a plane crash.

But what struck me also was how quickly this became an item within the other side, within the political right. Can’t it?

It became an article of faith on the political right that this had become a real ugly moment, when partisanship replaced memorials. The elections the first in six years. So when I started this, I found it to be much more entertaining, I could pick it up quicker, and I got hooked on it ever since. Many are hoping this will be a new chapter for the poor island nation that’s been plagued by violence in the past. And congregations are now learning — Baptist congregations are learning just how quickly their fortunes can change here in rural Alabama.

WALLACE: OK. And he’s been taking that for a few days to save him from going to the bathroom too often. Sanjay Gupta will give us details. So it has to be there, no matter what.

O’BRIEN: Yes. I’m not a big crossword puzzle fan. We’re referring to the late senator.

And it is take two for Steve Fossett. Just because you see 4s there?

Let’s listen.

O’BRIEN: But now you — you got the bug. So you know in this section you have to have a 5 a 7 and 9. That’s an iconic moment. Specially trained dogs lead investigators to substances that may have been used to start the fires. What were your thoughts on this as you watched this unfold? Did it surprise you, first of all?

O’BRIEN: Well, yes.

MATTINGLY: One thing investigators can’t say right now also is whether or not these are racially motivated. We’re watching that new fire burning in California. There were songs, prayers, praise and a healthy dose of politics. Thanks, Zain, for that.

You excited?

MARIN: Correct.

MARIN: And once I pick up on a number, I’ll stay with that number. You’ll recall that story.

O’BRIEN: Welcome back. A 7 is not going to be there. I’m Miles O’Brien. But nevertheless, were you instantly kind of enamored with this whole thing?

MARIN: No. There were also — there was some booing, apparently, not that much, directed at some Republican senators there. He’s now airborne, trying to break the record for the longest nonstop flight in history. It wasn’t a fair fight. A live report just ahead.

REV. Fierce Santa Ana winds are said to be fueling those flames in that fire.

(END VIDEOTAPE) O’BRIEN: Let’s check the forecast once again. this morning, where it just seemed easier to hide certain parts, to cover certain parts so your eye focuses on one thing and then, you know, you just sort of move it around.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Miles. Those whipping Santa Ana winds continuing to come off the mountains, dry vegetation leading to the fires we’ve been seeing. That memorial service happened literally three or four days before the election. Well, that clearly is no longer the case. No? What about that? What about here?

I mean, this — they call you “Duke of Sudoku,” right?

Right? Aren’t you?

O’BRIEN: Now, we spoke to the bishop of that church just a little while ago, Eddie Long.

O’BRIEN: All right.

O’BRIEN: All right.

MARIN: Right.

MARIN: Personally, I like to jump around the puzzle always.


VERJEE: Yes, diet milkshake. Former president Jimmy Carter reminding us of the current administration’s failures in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And a record number are popping pills to solve that problem. There is nobody arguing that Martin Luther King was on the wrong side of history.

JAMES CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, those who are most devastated by Katrina to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans.

“Hannity & Colmes” last night on FOX, it was the lead item. Would you have ever injected — if you were writing this — this kind of a talk, this eulogy, would you have injected politics in there? Think about it honestly. Of the nine churches that have been hit, they’ve hit both black congregations and white congregations. But Coretta knew, and we know, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here.

GREENFIELD: Yes. It can be whichever one I stare at.

VERJEE: Yes, 6 — 6 over here. And we’re exploring those. But no more for the poor. Now, you’ve written your share of speeches for Bobby Kennedy, as a matter of fact, in a previous career. But it isn’t just confined to the sports world. And maybe that was a more appropriate way to talk at a funeral.

O’BRIEN: But there’s — it sounds so simple, and yet the logic employed, depending on how many numbers you are provided, how difficult the puzzle is, can be very taxing.

O’BRIEN: Because you know 4 can’t be there horizontally, can’t be there horizontally. And the full range of emotions as Coretta Scott King was laid to rest.

VERJEE: He says with a gleam in his eye.

MARIN: This is easy one.

We’re now in early February.

O’BRIEN: Kind of trapped on a long flight.

MATTINGLY: There is no known motive, no known suspects, but a growing mountain of evidence. So you’re going to show us how you fill in those empty spots. So give us…

GREENFIELD: Oh, that was his. He says one of the key things is use multiple strategies, but whatever strategy you start, play it out completely and then move on to the next one. As they get harder, definitely be patient. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

GREENFIELD: There was a quote from (INAUDIBLE) about tragedy. The idea that this is going to have some political implication, you have to really be overcommitted to endless analysis, which some of us on cable news are to think that.

VERJEE: Well, give us some tips. We’re going to be right back.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: And I’m Zain Verjee, in for Soledad.

The funeral for Coretta Scott King turns political.

And Zain, as Miles was mentioning, it will be five-minute catnaps, and also I guess some nutritional milkshakes to calm the stomach.

O’BRIEN: Was that one of yours?


O’BRIEN: All right. Not so subtle a statement there.

O’BRIEN: Give us some tips.

O’BRIEN: OK, not that long a flight.

This is Ventura County — not Orange County, as we’ve been showing you over the past couple of days — in a remote canyon in Calabasas. Some are calling it a Wellstone moment. Yes.

It was an extraordinary scene outside Atlanta yesterday. Do you do that as well?

MARIN: Yes, you do.

I think on appropriateness grounds, you probably would be a lot more subtle.

The advice though, Joe — the advice I’d give this guy is, Maya has nothing to worry about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SINGING): Amazing grace how sweet the sound

Again, you’re looking at some live pictures of this fire. The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigating arson and civil rights violations potentially at four rural Alabama churches. Keep preaching.

LOWERY: Millions without health insurance. There is only one empty number there, so..

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