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Interview With Asa Hutchinson; Mad Cow Search Narrows

Aired December 29, 2003 - 18:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: new concerns about foreign airlines flying to, from and over the United States. The Homeland Security Department is ordering them to put armed air marshals on some of those flights. Kelli Arena will report from Washington. And Undersecretary For Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson is our guest.
A new health warning tonight about another disease that, like the flu, has infected young Americans. Meningitis is blamed in the death of a teenager in New Hampshire. Dan Lothian will report.

New developments tonight in the mad cow scare. The USDA is learning more about the Washington cow with the disease and how it might have been infected. Lisa Sylvester will report.

Tonight, a Pennsylvania teenager whose research on brain waves could someday change the lives of paralyzed people. Peter Viles will have her story.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Monday, December 29. Sitting in for Lou Dobbs, who is on vacation, John King.

KING: Good evening.

The United States today unveiled a new tactic in the war on terror, requiring foreign airlines to increase security on flights that enter U.S. airspace. The Homeland Security Department ordered the airlines to allow armed law enforcement officials to police certain flights. That move comes as the United States enters its second week on high alert for a terrorist attack.

Kelli Arena reports from Washington.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. now wants armed air marshals on international flights that may pose a terror threat. If airlines do not comply, they could be denied U.S. landing rights.

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It is pretty clear that it is understood by our international aviation partners that the threat to passenger aircraft is an international challenge. And all of us must work as closely together as possible to share information and act upon it to ensure the safety of our citizens.

ARENA: Officials say intelligence continues to suggest al Qaeda and other related groups are planning another 9/11-type attack against the United States. Such information led to the cancellation of six Air France flights just last week and a general concern about flights out of Mexico.

RAFI RON, NEW AGE SECURITY SOLUTIONS: It was only on the background of the specific intelligence that was received a few weeks ago concerning such a flight or flights that, suddenly, everybody realized that this is critical.


ARENA: The threat information is not limited to aviation. There is still concern about possible suicide bombings or the use of a weapon of mass destruction. Officials say that their most immediate challenge, though, is deciphering intelligence regarding New Year's Eve.

John, sources says that there is information suggesting there could be an attack on New Year's, but, still, no specifics on that front -- back to you.

KING: Any surprise there, Kelli, in the sense that holidays are often picked as potential targets, are they not?

ARENA: They are. They are. And they often come up in the intelligence.

But sources have told us, John, that New Year's Eve has come up so consistently from a variety of sources that they cannot discount that there is something that could be up. And don't forget, there was a millennium plot a few years ago that law enforcement was able to break up. So it wouldn't be first time that New Year's Eve was targeted by al Qaeda and related groups. So it is not something they're discounting. But you're right in saying that New Year's Eve has come up before in the past, as do most major holidays.

KING: And, Kelli, from listening to Secretary Ridge today and contacting your sources, code orange for the foreseeable future?

ARENA: At least through New Year's Day. Once they get over that hump -- Secretary Ridge was asked that today in his press conference and he said at least through New Year's. After that, we have to let the intelligence dictate.

We have had some sources tell us that they thought it would stay at least through the second week of January. But as you know as well as I do, John, this is a decision that is made -- reassessed daily. It could change at any time. But if the chatter drops off, if the threat information were to go silent, that doesn't necessarily mean a good thing, because that's exactly what happened before the September 11 attacks. And then they saw something happen.

So a decrease in information doesn't bode well either. So they sort of have to weigh what they're getting in, against what they know for sure.

KING: Kelli Arena, tracking this very complicated and developing story for us tonight in Washington -- thank you, Kelli.

ARENA: You're welcome.

KING: Britain announced new security precautions for trans- Atlantic flights even before that announcement by the Department of Homeland Security in Washington.

British security officials say armed air marshals will fly on some flights to the United States. But the plan is already meeting some resistance.

Paula Hancocks has that report from London.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police! Don't move!

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An appropriate level of response to a real and serious threat. That's the UK's government's justification of putting air marshals on flights where and when deemed necessary. A justification rejected by the British Airline Pilots' Association.

JIM MCAUSLAN, BRITISH AIRLINE PILOTS ASSOC. : We've made our position clear. We don't believe that guns should be in aircraft. If they are we want the proper protocol for the deployment of police sky marshals.

We've been pressing a very reasonable list of demands, but unsuccessfully, I'm afraid. We haven't had a response, a positive response from the government.

HANCOCKS: The pilots union is angered they found about the move at the same time as the public and say pilots may refuse to fly an aircraft if certain conditions are not met.

Those conditions include prior knowledge a marshal will be on their flight, and the captain maintaining ultimate control of the flight.

The undercover marshals are expected to begin work as early as Monday.

(on camera) These air marshals will have a police or a military background and have been in training for the past year. They'll be disguised as ordinary passengers, and the UK government says that their main role is to act as a deterrent to a potential terrorist.

(voice-over) Israel's carrier El Al has had marshals for around 30 years, and the Australian government announced last week it would use armed guards on many flights between Australia and Singapore.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Now, the nation's increased terror level has no only put airlines on guard, but also nuclear facilities and other possible terrorist targets.

My guest is among those responsible for ensuring security in the communities that surround the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania. Stephen Reed is the mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which includes the Three Mile Island in its jurisdiction. And he joins us tonight from Harrisburg.

Mayor, let me begin with this direct question. Have you received any indications from Washington or your local and state police departments that there is any specific intelligence about targeting Three Mile Island?

STEPHEN REED, MAYOR OF HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA: No specific information regarding any specific location in south central Pennsylvania, including Three Mile Island, although there is some degree of intelligence information that has been gathered from the chatter over the last several weeks, suggesting that there is what is called a golden triangle between Washington, D.C., New York City and a military installation in Virginia and that that's the area that might most be at risk in the United States during this period of being the orange alert level.

So, obviously, any sensitive or vulnerable facility anywhere in the country, but particularly in that so-called golden triangle, has to be on especially high watch.

KING: But no specific information about a potential target in your area. But if you are near that golden triangle, as you put it, are you being asked to be on the lookout for any specific individuals or any specific group of individuals?

REED: We have information concerning individuals that are wanted for questioning or whose whereabouts should be identified every time law enforcement comes into contact with them.

Those are the different watch lists prepared by the different intelligence agencies. That's shared with us on a periodic basis. We have been through, of course, quite a range of different types of perimeter security and other types of security training, watching for different types of activities, suspicious behavior, persons coming in from foreign areas with -- with different names associated with passports and visa cards, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, lots of things to watch for, not just in the immediate vicinity of a vulnerable site, i.e., Three Mile Island, but with regard to proximity to other vulnerable locations, of which there are a fair number south central Pennsylvania.

KING: Mr. Mayor, quickly, help us understand how this works. Are you getting names every day or is this a standard list that is in a computer of people on a terrorist watch list. Or are you getting overnight or every couple of days or so new names?

REED: I wish we were. One of the deficiencies that still exists right now, as the nation grapples with this long-term issue of being prepared to deal with the terrorism, is that we do not have a central repository of information, if you would. We do not have an integrated, cohesive communications network that links all the agencies. So there is no one place that you can go to get the information that you need, particularly on a timely basis.

That is a recurring issue, a recurring problem, frankly, that continues, to some extent, to put us at greatest risk. So, no, we don't receive necessarily on a daily basis that type of information. It is periodic and it comes from different sources.

KING: And, Mayor, I know Secretary Ridge is your former governor and familiar with your community. What is your biggest concern? It's obvious you're not a fan of this color-coded system. Is it the system itself or is it the fact that you're not getting enough money to implement the security improvements you need to make?

REED: No, it is not -- I wouldn't say that we're not a fan of the color-coded system. You have to some type of system, some means or manner of informing the public in a very simple way as to the current status of -- or what should be the status of our level of preparedness.

So, until we devise a better system, the color-coded system is what is going to have to work. That's been a work in progress since it was established in 2002. I think we have had five elevations now from yellow to orange in that time since September of 2002. I think one or two of those were done more as a precaution than any other reason. The current elevation appears to be based on a much more refined analytical process.

And, frankly, based on what we know, we would very much agree that Secretary Ridge and the president were correct in their decision on December 21 to go to the orange level. This has been a work in progress. The whole business of further protecting the nation in this business of homeland security is a work in progress. And it is going to be several years, frankly, before the country has built the capacity to do a fully adequate job of preparedness and response.

KING: Mayor Stephen Reed of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, sir, we thank you for your thoughts tonight.

REED: My pleasure.

KING: Thank you, sir.

And that brings us to tonight's poll question: Do you think armed air marshals should be required on all international flights to the United States, yes or no? Cast your vote at We'll bring you the results a bit later in the show.

The Agriculture Department today reported the dairy cow from Washington state confirmed to have mad cow disease was older than previously believed. The infected cow was born in Canada, before the United States and Canada banned certain animal tissue from cattle feed.

Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The cow's age is significant, because it means it was infected before the United States tightened rules to keep mad cow disease, or BSE, from coming into the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief veterinarian believes this shows the case is isolated.

RON DEHAVEN, USDA CHIEF VETERINARIAN: There is no indication that we have the magnitude of problem that Europe has experienced in the years past, in large part due to the preventive measures, such as feed bans that were put in place in this country back in August of 1997.

SYLVESTER: The slaughtered cow was processed in Oregon. Meat was then shipped to stores in Washington state, Oregon, Nevada, California, Alaska, Montana, Hawaii, Idaho and the U.S. territory Guam.

But food safety inspectors insist the risk to the public is almost nonexistent, because the parts the cow that carried the disease, the brain and spinal cord, were removed before processing. Food safety officials have also recalled 10,000 pounds of meat from 20 animals slaughtered the same day as the infected cow.

DR. KEN PETERSEN, USDA: This recall was initiated out of an abundance of caution, following the report of this one cow testing presumptive positive. Even though we remain confident in the safety of these beef products, we are and we will continue to verify distribution and control of all products related to this recall.

SYLVESTER: U.S. agriculture officials believe the dairy cow came from Alberta, Canada. Officials are trying to locate 81 cows that were part of the same herd. But Canadian officials are not convinced their country is the source of the infection.

BOB SPELLER, CANADIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTER: Finding out where the cow came from is only one aspect of an investigation. It is as equally important to find out in fact where the feed came from that gave the cow BSE.

SYLVESTER: More than 20 countries, include Japan, South Korea, China and Mexico, have stopped importing U.S. beef.


SYLVESTER: The U.S. Agriculture Department tested 20,000 cows per year the last two years for BSE. But officials admit there is room for improvement. They're working on developing a better tracking system. Right now, John, there is no way to track the entire process from the cattle ranch to the slaughterhouse to the grocery store -- John. KING: Lisa, Canadian officials do not seem all that thrilled, to put it mildly, that this accusation is being made before they say, anyway, there is definitive proof of where the cow was from.

But on the key question of, are they cooperating with the investigation, what is the answer there?

SYLVESTER: They are certainly are cooperating with the investigation. In fact, Canada and the United States have worked well on this issue, really, for many years. What they're really waiting for is DNA testing. The Canadians say, until they have proof positive that, with a DNA test, that this cow is indeed the source, then the next step, of course, is finding out where the feed will come from. So they're just waiting a little bit and saying, let's wait for the test results -- John.

KING: Lisa Sylvester in Washington -- thank you, Lisa.

And coming up, a deadly meningitis outbreak has already claimed a young life in New Hampshire and infected several others. Dan Lothian will report.

Then, a year of war for President Bush comes to a close. But the events of 2003 will define the coming election year as well. We'll have that story.

And "America's Bright Future," our special report all this week on some of this country's most promising young minds -- tonight, a teenaged girl whose research could dramatically change thousands of lives. Peter Viles will have her story.


KING: Rescue efforts are turning to recovery work in Bam, Iran, as the death toll from Friday's earthquake has risen to 30,000. There is little hope now of finding additional survivors. And with thousands of the dead still unburied, fears are growing of a massive outbreak of dysentery and other diseases. Part of the international aid pouring into Iran, U.S. military cargo planes with more than 60 tons of relief aid, began arriving yesterday. It is the first time U.S. military aircraft have landed in Iran in more than 20 years.


COL. BRET KLASSEN, U.S. AIR FORCE: Right now, the first phase is, we are only bringing supplies in through airlift into the airport here. It will be distributed by the Iranians at that point. We have some additional equipment and rescue personnel that will be coming in, hopefully today.


KING: Natural disasters have killed nearly five times as many people this year as in 2002. A German reinsurance firm reported a worldwide death toll of 50,000 from floods, storms and heat waves, as well as earthquakes. Rescue workers in Southern California tonight continue to dig through debris left by those fatal Christmas Day mudslides. Searchers are still looking for the bodies of an 8-month-old and a teen buried under mud and rocks in San Bernardino's Old Waterman Canyon; 12 bodies, including seven children, have been recovered so far.


CHIP PATTERSON, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: I don't think we really thought we would find this many. I think, based on the conditions and what actually occurred and the amount of debris and rock and the many miles that were affected, I think we were impressed that we found this many. And to find the other two I think would be good for the families. It would be good for everybody involved. If the rains come before that, obviously, we're going to shut this operation down.


KING: A far different threat emerging in the Eastern United States, as hospitals in New Hampshire have been told to be -- quote -- "hypervigilant" -- unquote -- in diagnosing bacterial meningitis; 18- year-old Rachael Perry died Saturday from meningitis. And four other New Hampshire teens have been hospitalized.

Dan Lothian reports.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Across New Hampshire doctors and nurses are on alert for symptoms of bacterial meningitis. The health department's Web site is giving them specific guidance.

DR. JESSE GREENBLATT, N.H. EPIDEMIOLOGIST: We do not, however, consider the state to be having a outbreak. We are noticing a cluster of illnesses, that's true. But we do not know that that represents anything more than sporadic cases.

LOTHIAN: There's concern but not panic after teens in New Hampshire, including 18-year-old Rachael Perry, were hospitalized in less than a week with the disease. Two 15-year-old teens are classmates but authorities have not yet connected the others. Perry died over the weekend.

MICHAEL PERRY, RACHAEL PERRY'S FATHER: Hard to believe that the young girl that strong was taken.

LOTHIAN: Perry had initially checked into an emergency room just before Christmas, but her father says she was sent home.

PERRY: She had flu symptoms and she was released. They didn't do any blood work.

LOTHIAN: Christmas morning, Perry was again taken to the emergency room, this time with symptoms the hospital says were, quote, "severe and acute."

Bacterial meningitis, which can be treated with antibiotics, affects the -- infects the membranes and spinal cord. The symptoms? High fever, headache, stiff neck, rash, seizures. State health officials say the disease is spread primarily through direct contact like kissing or sharing a water bottle. They are now searching for a link.


LOTHIAN: As for the teens who do remain hospitalized, three are in fair condition. And one is still in serious condition.

Now, to put this all in perspective, John, there are typically about 15 to 25 cases of meningitis in New Hampshire each year. And so far this year, only 11 cases, so fewer cases than they typically have, but still a serious situation up in New Hampshire -- John.

KING: Dan Lothian in Boston -- thank very much, Dan.

And coming up, much more on the deadly meningitis outbreak and what officials can do to stop the spread. Dr. William Marshall, an infectious disease specialist with the Mayo Clinic, will join us.

And Asa Hutchinson, homeland security undersecretary for border and transportation security, will join us to discuss the heightened terror alert and the state of this country's defense against terrorism.

Stay with us.


KING: As we reported earlier, five cases of meningitis have been diagnosed in New Hampshire. One teenage girl has died from the disease, this on the heels of one of worst flu seasons in years and at a time the SARS virus may be reemerging in Asia.

Here to help us put all of this in context, an expert on infectious diseases, Dr. William Marshall of the Mayo Clinic. He joins us now from Rochester, Minnesota.

Thank you, Doctor, for joining us.

Let me ask you first about meningitis, a relatively rare disease, but quickly deadly.


Meningitis is a very frightening and potentially lethal infection. It is certainly a tragedy whenever a young person develops this infection and dies.

KING: And the warning signs, people in New Hampshire or anyone watching tonight, as we hear of this outbreak? MARSHALL: Usually, when people develop meningitis, they become ill very quickly and manifest with the symptoms you described earlier of fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and maybe confusion. Occasionally, though, those symptoms may be somewhat subdued and it may not be obvious that someone has meningitis initially.

KING: Any particular risk group? The teenage group involved here. Are young people more at risk for this?

MARSHALL: Overall, not at higher risk.

But, in cases where it is transmissible from person to person, which is not very common, we see it happening in teenagers, people in college, especially in college dormitories. And that's always the most tragic thing, when a young person develops this infection.

KING: We were talking about a week ago about the flu in this country. I want to get more specifically back to that in a second. But, if the symptoms of meningitis are developing, can they be confused with something like the flu, something just like a bad cold, something typical of this time of year?


But, usually, meningitis does not have the respiratory symptoms, cough, sneeze, runny nose, things like that. That would be uncommon with meningitis, whereas the stiff neck and the confusion would be less common with influenza, especially with a younger person.

KING: And, Doctor, not long ago, there was reports in this country of a shortage perhaps of the flu vaccination, people saying perhaps a near epidemic, if not an epidemic, of the flu. Haven't heard as much in recent days. Is that simply because the situation has improved or because our attention has been turned to a thing like the terrorist threat?

MARSHALL: It's my understanding that this year's influenza outbreak is turning more like the typical influenza outbreaks we see every year, that it kind of waxes and wanes throughout the winter.

And I know, here in Minnesota, we're seeing fewer cases now than we were a few weeks ago.

KING: Dr. William Marshall of the Mayo Clinic, thank you very much, sir, for helping us understand meningitis.

MARSHALL: My pleasure.

KING: Thank you, sir.

And coming up, President Bush wraps up a year dominated by war, memorable moments and difficult decisions that will shake the election year ahead. We'll have that story. And Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, will be our guest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Saddam Hussein has revealed to American investigators critical information on hidden weapons and as much as $40 billion, that according to a high-ranking Iraqi official.

The former Iraqi dictator confessed the names of individuals who know where the money and various weapons are stashed, again, according to a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. In a blow to the insurgents in Northern Iraq, U.S. troops today killed three suspected members of the radical Islamic group Ansar al-Islam in a massive firefight that erupted in the northern city of Mosul. Ansar al-Islam is believed by U.S. officials to have ties to al Qaeda.

Saddam Hussein's capture was one of this year's most memorable moments and, for President Bush, a key objective in a year shaped by war.


KING (voice-over): War was this year's steady shadow and constant controversy, a January State of the Union making the case, this passage later discredited.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.

KING: A December capture that ended a manhunt.

BUSH: Good riddance.

KING: In between, a year of so many memorable moments, Thanksgiving in Baghdad one of a few big surprises.

As always, some events are viewed differently in hindsight than as they unfolded, perhaps this one on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln back in May, most of all.

BUSH: In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

KING: Critics see a president who exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and who alienated most of the world and that what they consider a rush to the war.

IVO DAALDER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: What we have seen in fact, at the end of 2003, 90 percent of the troops is, 95 percent of the causalities and 96.5 percent of the financing for 2004 is being paid by American soldiers and American lives and American dollars. That is the consequence of having that kind of foreign policy that we have seen in the last three years.

KING: Confidants see a decisive commander-in-chief willing to lead when others blink. DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: The United Nations themselves has drawn the same conclusions when they passed dozens of resolutions outlining the threat he was to the world and the world is better off now that Saddam Hussein will never come back.

KING: Not in dispute is that war shaped the president's year and his image heading into the campaign for re-election.

KEN DUBERSTEIN, FORMER REAGAN CHIEF OF STAFF: It is also very lonely at the top. And in those dark moments you to make fundamental decisions that affect whether or not you're putting somebody in harm's way. When the president is convinced the American people and the world that what we're doing in Iraq is not only just, but right and that it is worth the expenditure of U.S. life. A decision like that takes its toll.


KING: The anti-American insurgency in Iraq remains a major concern heading into the new year there are problems as well as the Bush administration urges Iraqis to write a new constitution and prepare to take control of their country.

Earlier today, a spoke with Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and I asked him if the July deadline for transfer of sovereignty back to Iraq concerns him.


MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think it is a concern, John. And clearly I hope we do make the deadline but I think it is also to keep in mind all of the things that didn't go wrong. If you think back to the early part of this year, widespread predictions that there would be this massive battle in Baghdad, urban warfare that would chew up thousands of American soldiers, there would be refugee crisis, humanitarian crisis, the use of chemical weapons, a lot of bad things everybody expected to happen didn't happen and clearly some good things that we expected to happen such as some kind of spontaneous order taking root in Iraq didn't happen. So, it is a mixed bag. I think overall I'm cautiously optimistic based on what we accomplished this past year, especially now that we have caught Saddam Hussein.

KING: As this year comes to a close we also have seen two attempts on the life of President Musharraf in Pakistan. The administration calls him a staunch ally on the war in terrorism. You seem to have a different view.

BOOT: I think it is very worrisome what is happening in Pakistan because Pakistan has emerged as one of the biggest hotbeds of terrorism in the world and one of the biggest proliferators of nuclear weapons which is very worrisome amid recent reports that Pakistan has provided nuclear technology to both Iran and North Korea, two charter members of the axis of evil. And, of course, President Musharraf claims to be our ally, but at the same time he's playing footsie with a lot of radical Islamist groups that are active especial in the frontier provinces of Pakistan. That's a very worrisome trend. I'm not sure President Bush or the U.S. Government has really figured out a good way to handle it.

KING: Well, lets continue on this point. You are writing for the "Los Angeles Times," a provocative essay in which you say both the leader of Pakistan and the leader of Saudi Arabia have been "superficially reassuring to the United States." And you write the remarkable thing is that a president who prides himself on moral clarity has been willing to accept sufficient equivocation for so long.

What should the president do?

BOOT: Well, that's where you get to the tough part of the answer, John. Because it is a very tough balancing act we can't completely alienate Pakistan or Saudi Arabia because although both support terrorism to some extent they also support us to some extent and do crack down on some members of al Qaeda. But I think at least at the very least we have to get tougher conditions on some our aid to Pakistan and greater improvements on democracy and on cracking down on militants. And also signal even if only rhetorically that we're serious about cracking down on terrorists and expanding opportunities for the liberal opposition, especially the problem in Saudi Arabia. So far there has been very little public criticism from the administration. They've been trying to be friends with the regimes, but at the same time those regimes have been stabbing us in the back on some very important issues.

KING: You say in the long-term we do them no favors by allowing them to coddle our mutual enemies. And also write they're both for us and against us. Let's look at the case of Saudi Arabia. Money that goes to terrorist groups, anti-Americanism taught. What should the president do to the Saudi government to say you must do more to stop this now?

BOOT: Well, I think for starters that would be a good thing f you were saying that very clearly, you must do more. It is especially worrisome when you see all the Mullahs around the world who are preaching this virulent anti-Americanism with funding from Saudi Arabia. They talked about cut that off, but I'm not sure how much they've done. They talked about cutting off terrorist finances but I'm not sure how much they've done. Now the good or bad news, depending on how you look at it is that, the two terrorist bombings in Riyadh this past year and the recent attempts on President Musharraf's life in Pakistan may galvanize those governments into action. It has galvanized them to some extent, but I'm still not clear how much. And I think both governments are playing a dangerous game of trying to pacify both the militant Islamists and the United States. And as I said in that piece, I think it is a losing game because they're not going to appease the radical terrorists and in fact, they're only going to wind up setting themselves up for more assassination attempts, more terrorist attacks. It's much smarter for them to get tough now and much smarter for us now to pressure them to get tough now.

KING: This president will run for reelection making the case that he has been a leader in the war in terrorism and that he surrounded with what he considered to be best team in the business. What many call the dream team when Bush came to office. Vice president Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, Secretary Powell at the State Department, Condoleezza Rice. You recently wrote this dream team was "a squad of out of shape weekend players."

Why, what is wrong?

BOOT: I think they've done a lot of things right. And I basicly agree with the direction in which the administration is taking foreign policy, but in terms of implementation, I think they have messed some things up and often in an embarrassing way. We saw that in the case of Iraq where just recently they issued the memo on which countries will not be eligible for reconstruction projects on the same day that President Bush was calling up the presidents of those countries asking them to forgive Iraq's debt. I mean, at the very least there say question of timing there which is hardly ideal. And there are a lot of other issues of implementation like that, for example for the way that we messed up our lines with Turkey and some other countries that caused some real concern. And call into doubt sort of the technical day to day competent of the Bush team, even though I think the president has been very good at setting a broad direction for American policy, which is I think is a courageous one and correct one.

KING: Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, thank you very much for joining us.

BOOT: Thanks for having me John.


KING: Coming up, stepped up security on the ground and in the air. I'll be joined from Washington by Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for Transportation and Border Security for the Department of Homeland Security. We'll look at the government's new plan to put air marshals on some international flights.


KING: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge today said the United States will make sure other countries put air marshals on incoming flights to this country, but will that be enough to protect us?

My next guest is Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for Transportation and Border Security for the Department of Homeland Security, joining us now from Washington.

Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us. I want to begin with this question of air marshals on international flight. As the department takes this step today asking international countries to put air marshals on flights to this country and telling them if they don't in some cases those flights will not be allowed to enter U.S. air space is that based on significant intelligence that additional flights may be targeted like those Air France flights held up on Christmas Day? ASA HUTCHINSON, UNDERSECY., TRANS & BORDER SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: This is really looking ahead to the future as to what we can do to enhance the safety of our international flights. We put trained federal air marshals on domestic flights, our U.S. carriers that fly overseas and into our country, but it is also a necessity we have that capability on international carriers from other countries that come into the United States when we have specific intelligence that there might be a problem.

So we put out this emergency measure asking for that cooperation, really requiring it whenever we provide information that there could be a particular flight that might be targeted. This is an example of the international cooperation that we're improving and building upon.

KING: Sir, how specific is the intelligence suggesting that international flights are likely to be targeted?

HUTCHINSON: Well, whenever we look at the intelligence, obviously al Qaeda intends to continue to look at the aviation ability to attack the United States. One of those possibilities would be international carriers, but they look at other possibilities as well.

We do not broadcast what we think that they are looking at specifically, but clearly the international arena where you might have varying capabilities at the airports or through the airlines, we want to have more uniform protection to make sure if a traveler comes to the United States, they will have a comfort level with that international carrier and so we put these extra protections in there, build on that international cooperation where there is some uniform protections and confidence for the traveler that would come to the United States.

KING: As we watched last week when those Air France flights were not allowed entry into the United States, everyone in this government said it was a precaution that needed to be taken. Some officials in France calling it a, quote, "nonevent," saying there was no evidence to them that there was any plan to use those planes, those flights as a weapon of terrorism if you will. I assume you disagree, sir.

Can you tell us to the degree you can talk about the intelligence, what specifically led to trying to block those flights?

HUTCHINSON: Well, it was the right decision to make. We have a responsibility to the public and to the travelers on that flight. The French government certainly appreciates that and they acted appropriately. And it was really a joint decision based upon the information we had to cancel those flights. Obviously, we would not do it if it was not specific, credible intelligence.

KING: Are they cooperating now, sir? U.S. officials, including in your department, have said there's an urgent effort to question some of the passengers who did not show up to board those flights. Perhaps getting word through media accounts or some other account that those flights would not happen. Is the French government cooperating in trying to find those people in question? HUTCHINSON: They are. Very high level of cooperation. Secretary Ridge and I met with representatives of the French government today here in Washington, D.C. They sent over a delegation of intelligence as well as aviation personnel that would look at this particular area.

What we did was we improved our intelligence sharing. We communicated very clearly the threat that justified that decision. And we also set protocols to look at additional flights in the future in the event that we have additional concerns. So we improved our cooperation today. Strong line of communication. We expect that to continue to be built upon.

KING: It has been a week now, sir, since the threat level went up from yellow to orange, a high risk of a terrorist threat. How, if at all, has what you're hearing and the chatter and other intelligence reporting, changed over the period of that week? Are you hearing about new threats, adjustments perhaps made in the planning because this country is on high alert?

HUTCHINSON: Well, the threat remains and it will continue through the holiday time period and that is the indication of our intelligence that this is a time that we ought to be alert and also there is the specific intelligence that indicates that this is a time of a higher threat level.

I would not want to communicate exactly what we have heard since those particular flights were canceled, but it is ongoing security status that we have. And you mention the French government and the interviews with the individuals that were not allowed on that particular flight, we do have the information that we need and we're building upon that, but we're continuing to look at the security measures that need to be taken between now and after the holiday season.

And we want people to feel comfortable that we're taking the security measures so they can go about their ordinary holiday activities.

KING: Without disclosing any sensitive intelligence, sir, do you see evidence that the terrorists watch what you do, watch how the United States government reacts and perhaps then adjust how they talk amongst themselves?

HUTCHINSON: Yes, we do. Indications are that whenever we go to a higher threat level that does disrupt their plans. Sometimes that postpones it from their standpoint. We have to understand that they are very patient and so we have to be patient in our security measures as well.

And that's been the historic pattern. But they do respond to the security measures that we take. And obviously they can be disrupted and I think the security levels we take have a disruptive impact on what they are planning.

KING: And Secretary Ridge today said he believes going up to the code orange level is a powerful deterrent that it actually blocks attacks and discourages attacks. Do you have evidence that specific plans were thwarted here or do you just believe that to be the case?

HUTCHINSON: I think time will tell in that regard. Regardless of what it ultimately shows, we have made the right decision because we have a duty to the public when we do have specific credible information that we have to act upon.

We make the right decisions as we go through and analyze that intelligence. Obviously you do not want to stay at orange over long periods of time if it is avoidable. Because the deterrent effect is that they know that we're serious, we do actually enhance our security measures when we go to the higher threat level.

KING: And to the degree that you can, Mr. Secretary, how specific is the intelligence, for people watching around the country tonight, do you have site-specific, city-specific, type of target- specific intelligence?

HUTCHINSON: I would not want to go totally in that direction. We are sharing information that we have with local authorities. Everything that we have they need to be aware of. We're coordinating our response to that.

Secondly, there is obviously, historically, a historic pattern of reporting, interest by al Qaeda in particular cities. And they're fairly obvious. Whether it would be New York or Washington, D.C., Los Angeles has been mentioned in the past. Las Vegas has come up in terms of it being a symbolic city.

So obviously, those, historically, have to take special measures. But anytime we get specific information, that is shared and a specific security response we put into place. In reference to this time as compared to the past, we say this is more specific than we have had at any time since September 11 and therefore gives us an opportunity to have a very specific threat response which is important.

KING: On that note, sir, we will end it and wish you the best of luck in that response. Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you, John.

KING: And a reminder now to vote in tonight's poll. Do you think armed air marshals should be required on all international flights to the United States? Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll bring you the results a little later right here.

And coming up, we'll have a look at some of your thoughts on broken borders.

And as the initial mad cow panic subsides, one group of stocks recovers from heavy losses.

Later, America's bright future. Tonight, a young woman whose research has far surpassed even the professionals in her field and could have a dramatic impact on thousands of lives.


KING: Santa Claus has legs. That's one way of saying Wall Street continued its so-called Santa Claus rally. The Dow Industrials surged 125 points. The Nasdaq rallied 33 points, crossing the 2,000 mark for the first time in nearly two years. The S&P 500 gained 13 points. Mary Snow is here with a closer look at the markets -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, stocks are ending this good year with a bang, and optimism about what lies ahead sent the Dow Industrials to its best level in 21 months.

The markets are on track to end higher for the first time in four years. And so far this year, the Dow is up 25 percent. The Nasdaq up an even more impressive 50 percent.

Meanwhile, concerns about mad cow disease sent cattle futures down sharply for a third day. Lower beef prices are expected to show up in supermarkets in the next few week. But indications are that the scare hasn't had much of an impact on consumers yet. The big hamburger chains, McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King, all say sales have not been affected. The restaurant stocks gained after getting hit hard last week.

And from beef to milk, in a widening scandal that's being called the Enron of Europe. Italian media reports that the former CEO of Parmalat has admitted to falsifying accounts. Calisto Tanzi was detained over the weekend. Reports say a fraud probe has uncovered billions of dollars now missing from the company -- John.

KING: Mary Snow with the markets, thank you very much.

Now for a look at some of your thoughts.

On "Broken Borders," from Salinas, California: "So the threat level was raised again, due to the amount of chatter. But yet our borders remain wide open, even after 9/11. Our so-called leaders looked the other way as up to 12 million illegal aliens have invaded our nation in mass numbers and have no idea of who is in our nation and for what." That from Teresa White.

And from Union City, California: "Most illegals have more benefits than my wife and myself, who worked for 45 years. We don't have food stamps. We pay for our house, not a subsidy from the government. Send illegals home, along with all the politicians who would like to spend my hard-earned dollars to support them." That from Felix Baluyot.

And from Nevada City, California: "I find it interesting that people overwhelmingly oppose a work permit for illegal aliens. Why not ask if it's OK if people get their lawn mowed, their car washed, their children looked after, their food cooked in a restaurant, their dishes bussed, their houses cleaned, or any of the other endless list of tasks that aliens perform in our society every day." That from Michael Norris. And from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: "This Christmas, I have no job. My job was sent to India. My unemployment has run out. My health care is gone. They will spend billions to create jobs in Iraq, but will not extend my unemployment check. How did Iraqi citizens get a higher priority than American citizens?" That from James Morton.

E-mail us your thoughts. We always appreciate them. At Don't forget to include your name and your home town.

And coming up, "America's Bright Future." Tonight, one high school student whose groundbreaking research has the potential to forever change countless lives. Peter Viles will have her story.

But first, "Exporting America." Updating the list of companies our staff has confirmed to be exporting American jobs to cheaper overseas labor markets. Today's additions to the list are AT&T Wireless, Cooper Tire and Rubber, EMC, Jacuzzi Brands and Linksys. We will update the list each night on this broadcast. Please continue to send us the names of companies you know to be exporting American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets. The e-mail address again, We'll be right back.


KING: And now the result of tonight's poll question. Sixty-nine percent of you said armed air marshals should be required on all international flights to the United States; 31 percent said they should not.

In "America's Bright Future" tonight, we introduce you to a high school senior from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, who has outperformed university scientists in her quest to build a computer program. This, however, is not just any program. It could change the lives of medical patients who are paralyzed. And as Peter Viles learned, it is awfully complicated stuff.


PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At school, Elena Glassman is popular. She likes a quick game of frisbee at lunch. She's a great student, speaks well in public.

ELENA GLASSMAN, STUDENT: To fully comprehend the significance of undersea noise pollution...

VILES: But at home, she is someone else, an electrical engineer who has written prize-winning computer programs that read brain waves so that people who literally cannot move a muscle can communicate.

GLASSMAN: Really good candidates for this technology would be people who have a spinal cord injury, so that there has been no damage to the brain, but it is just the connection to the muscle that has been severed.

VILES: Elena and scientists around the world analyzed the same set of brain waves, commands to move either the left side of the body or the right side. Now, the hard part was writing a computer program that reads the waves and knows left from right. And this is where she completely lost us.

GLASSMAN: And you might have a neural, you know, density firings that might increase kind of like a normal distribution. So I took simulated neuron axon (ph) potential and summed it over its normal distribution.

VILES (on camera): Not entirely sure I follow all that.

(voice-over): She actually tried several times.

GLASSMAN: You can analyze a signal by taking that -- it's called the coefficient, multiplying it by the signal and then summing the result and then just shifting it across the signal.

VILES (on camera): Anybody?

(voice-over): Here is the part we do understand. Elena's method was 93 percent accurate. More accurate than several universities.

(on camera): Better than the University of Sydney. Better than the National University of Ireland. This is not going to go over well in Ireland. Better than the Israel Institute of Technology, a lot better than them.

(voice-over): Elena's work has won national science awards, but she is modest about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elena Glassman of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

GLASSMAN: I'm just a normal kid. I just spent enough time and I just, you know, was so interested in it that I was able to read up and to learn the stuff.

VILES: Elena wants to continue researching brain waves and ultimately teach at a university.

Peter Viles, CNN, Doylestown, Pennsylvania.


KING: Trust me, Peter is at home studying tonight.

And finally, tonight's thought is on the importance of young people to the strength of a nation. "The foundation of every state is the education of its youth." That from Greek biographer Diogenes Laertius.

And that's our show tonight. Thanks for being with us. Tomorrow on "America's Bright Future," a young man who's already the author of a "New York Times" best-seller. For all of us here, good night from New York.


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