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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Protests Against World Trade Organization In Hong Kong; Controversy Over Revelation That President Bush OKed Spying On American Citizens; Superdome Worth Rebuilding?; What Happens After Iraq Ballots Are Counted Is Important

Aired December 17, 2005 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We're following new developments in the week long talks of the World Trade Organization. Police are using high pressure water from fire hoses to fend off bamboo poles, as protests get out of hand in Hong Kong. We'll have a live report in just a moment.
Vice President Dick Cheney will spend the week before Christmas visiting allies in the war on terror. Cheney will go to Afghanistan for the first session of its new parliament next week and also make stops in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Oman.

The buses and trains continue to run today in New York City, but that might not be the case Monday morning. That's when the first phase of a transit strike is scheduled to begin. New York's MTA is the nation's largest mass transit system, carrying nearly seven million riders daily.

The most popular story on cnn.com this morning comes from Los Angeles, where Emmy Award winning actor John Spencer died from a heart attack. Many know him as Leo McGarry, the president's former chief of staff on NBC's hit show "The West Wing." Spencer was just 58 years old.

Well, from the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

It is December 17th.

7:00 a.m. on the East Coast, 8:00 p.m. in Hong Kong, China.

Good morning, everyone.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield in for Betty Nguyen this morning -- hello, Tony.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: I've got this -- I've got stuff falling apart here.

WHITFIELD: Oh, we'll have to pull it together.

HARRIS: Glad to see you.

WHITFIELD: Good to see you, too.

HARRIS: Happy Holidays to you.

Merry Christmas.

WHITFIELD: All of that back at you.

HARRIS: Hey, good morning, everyone.

Tony Harris.

Also ahead in this first hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING, is Big Brother really watching you? We take a look inside the government's top secret National Security Agency to see who's being watched and why.

Hurricane Katrina cost New Orleans the Sugar Bowl and the Saints games this season. We'll go "Beyond The Game" to see if repairing the Louisiana Superdome will be worth the multi-million dollar price tag.

And what's bugging you the most these days -- this suit is bothering me right now -- a bad driver, cell phones or piles of junk mail? We've got ways for you to fight back.

But first we want to take you to a developing story out of Hong Kong.

While you were sleeping, riot police have been facing-off against agency protesters at the World Trade Organization meeting. In the last 30 minutes, the protesters have closed in on the convention center, which you see here in live pictures now.

The situation there, at least right now, is probably best described as tense, maybe edgy, volatile.

CNN senior Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy is there and he joins us on the phone -- good morning to you, Mike.

Good evening where you are.

Give us a sense of the situation in Hong Kong near the convention center right now.

MIKE CHINOY, CNN SENIOR ASIA CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Tony.

Most people know Hong Kong as a shopping Mecca, a place for doing business. But in the last few hours, much of central Hong Kong has been paralyzed by running clashes between anti-globalization protesters and the Hong Kong police.

These clashes taking place right outside the Hong Kong convention center. That's where the trade ministers from 149 countries are trying to cut some kind of deal at the World Trade Organization.

The protesters don't like the idea of free trade. They've been demonstrating all week and finally they managed to breach police barriers, before they were pushed back. The police using water cannon and tear gas, paralyzing a busy commercial area, which would normal be packed with shoppers just the week before Christmas -- Tony.

HARRIS: And, Mike, as we look at these pictures, we see water hoses, high pressured water hoses being used.

What are those bamboo sticks, batons? What else? And I guess pepper spray, as well.

CHINOY: The police have a big arsenal. They've been using pepper spray and the water hoses. And then when that didn't work, they fired tear gas canisters. Now, Hong Kong is a densely packed city full of high rises and you could see plenty of people who had nothing to do with the protest walking away snuffling and choking as the fumes from that C.S. gas wafted through the streets here.

The police barricades are only about 150 yards from the entrance to the convention center. And if the protesters breached those barricades, they could conceivably get inside. That's something the authorities certainly do not want them to do.

Everyone here has memories of the bloody scenes the last couple of times the World Trade Organization ministers met. They were trying to avoid that all week. But now Hong Kong is getting its fair share of trouble tonight, as well -- Tony.

HARRIS: It sure looks that way.

CNN senior Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy for us from Hong Kong.

Mike, thank you.

WHITFIELD: Well, back in Washington now, President Bush says his job is to protect Americans from terrorism. That's why he's refusing to discuss allegations of authorizing eavesdropping on Americans without getting court approval.

On last night's, "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," Mr. Bush had this response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country. And the reason why is that there's an enemy that lurks that would love to know exactly what we're trying to do to stop them.

I will make this point, that whatever I do to protect the American people -- and I have an obligation to do so -- that we will uphold the law and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And despite the president refusing to confirm eavesdropping allegations, a senior intelligence official says such operations have been personally OKed by Bush dozens of times.

As you may have first seen on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," somebody may be watching you.

Tom Foreman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Privacy advocates say the door opened wide for domestic electronic surveillance a dozen years ago when fear of international terrorism and crime prompted a new law. Phone companies, in the news providers and others had to give police ready access to their networks, which handled virtually every call and e-mail in America. And while members of the intelligence community say once those domestic communications were considered off limits to them, times have changed.

STANSFIELD TURNER, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Today, the emphasis is more on getting the information because we're so determined, of course, to defeat the terrorists.

FOREMAN: So how does tapping into a phone or a computer work?

Very well, says a former NSA employee and author of the book, "Spies Among Us," Ira Winkler.

IRA WINKLER, AUTHOR: Depending upon the method going in and the specific communication provider, it can be a very, very quick thing.

FOREMAN: Winkler, while admitting he has no specific knowledge of what is allegedly going on at the NSA right now, says it could work like this.

Imagine a terrorist captured overseas has a cell phone and a laptop showing suspicious communications with someone in the U.S. With the right authorization, Winkler says an NSA employee could simply type a command into a computer, which would link to the networks handling the calls and e-mails from that targeted address.

Then, the NSA computer would begin watching that phone number and that computer, digitally recording everything that happens, on the way, perhaps targeting other phones and other computers within America for the same treatment.

WINKLER: Technologically, this is simple. It's fast. It happens automatically. There doesn't necessarily have to be a man in the loop.

FOREMAN: Analysts would later decide which communications should be examined more closely.

(on camera): The technical ability of police or intelligence officers to read e-mails or listen to phone calls is, of course, never supposed to be activated without the proper authorization.

(voice-over): And it is always highly sensitive work. The NSA and the White House will not talk about any particular methods that may or may not be in use right now. SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Because they're classified, I'm not able to get into discussing those issues from this podium.

FOREMAN: But there will certainly be more talk in days to come about when spying for Americans means spying on them.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: While President Bush may be mum on reports he OKed spying on U.S. citizens, our legal ladies -- boy, this is going to be good.

WHITFIELD: I know. I'm looking forward to it.

HARRIS: This is going to be good.

WHITFIELD: It's going to be a good hot segment.

HARRIS: Yes, they're going to have plenty of opinions.

WHITFIELD: Yes. They're fired up about it...

HARRIS: Lida Rodriguez...

WHITFIELD: ... as are a lot of Americans, about the entire subject. So it'll be nice to hear from a legal standpoint.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: I'll let you finish the rest of your thought.

HARRIS: No, no, no, no.

WHITFIELD: I'm sorry.

HARRIS: That's, I just want to say that that's coming up in our 8:00 hour, next hour, on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HARRIS: That's it. That's it. That brings us to our e-mail question of the morning.

WHITFIELD: I'm looking forward to that one.

Yes?

HARRIS: Domestic spying -- a safeguard against potential terror attacks in this country or a violation of your civil liberties? What do you think? send us your concerns, weekends@cnn.com. This will be hot this morning. We'll be reading your replies throughout the program. WHITFIELD: Well, while the president may not be discussing spying, he will talk about the Patriot Act in his radio address this morning. It comes one day after the U.S. Senate blocked renewal of the Patriot Act, set to expire at the end of the month. Vice President Cheney couldn't get the votes together to prevent a filibuster.

Key provisions of the Patriot Act are due to expire on the 31st. It leaves the fate of the anti-terrorism law unclear as Congress prepares to recess. We'll carry that speech, the president's speech, live right here on CNN beginning at 10:06 Eastern.

Well, President Bush will also address the nation tomorrow night from the Oval Office. He'll cap off a series of speeches on Iraq. The last time he spoke about Iraq from that distinguished location was in March of 2003, when he announced the beginning of the war.

A spokesman says Mr. Bush will talk about the U.S. mission and the way forward in 2006.

CNN will have live coverage of Sunday night's speech beginning at 9:00 Eastern, with a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" -- Tony.

HARRIS: Well, Iraqis are counting votes after Thursday's elections. So now the question is what happens next?

We'll preview the road ahead later this hour.

WHITFIELD: Also, does junk mail drive you crazy? Well, how about loud cell phone conversations?

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that really irritates a lot of folks.

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Well, CNN's Jeanne Moos discovered a way to deal with life's little annoyances.

BRAD HUFFINES, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And many people in the Mid- Atlantic States are looking to see when they're going to get their power back and I'm looking at temperatures, seeing where it's freezing or not freezing, with rain falling. Will that be freezing rain, sleet or just plain rain?

We'll talk about that in a minute.

But first, good morning, New York City.

Your forecast and the rest of the East Coast weather and much of the nation is coming up next on CNN SATURDAY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Well, is it OK to spy on Americans for the sake of national security?

President Bush says he will take any step to protect the country.

We'll have a heated debate in the next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: So, if you're just waking up, good morning.

Thank you for being with us.

Rise and shine. You've got a couple of days left before Christmas. You've got to get up and get ready to do some shopping.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HARRIS: Oh, we've got pictures of the president...

WHITFIELD: We're in trouble if we haven't started.

HARRIS: Yes, I've got to -- I guess I've got to go ahead and put pictures of the president up.

Privacy and the Patriot Act lead our top stories in about three hours. President Bush will talk about the importance of the Patriot Act. His weekly radio address will be televised and we will bring it to you right after the 10:00 Eastern hour.

The Patriot Act is currently set to expire at year's end.

Meantime, Mr. Bush remains tight-lipped on reports that he secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on private citizens. In its reporting, the "New York Times" says the White House asked that the story not be published.

Violence flares between bamboo wielding protesters and riot police in Hong Kong this morning as authorities step up security at the World Trade Organization meetings. Today's demonstrations were the most violent so far since the dialogues began on Tuesday. The WTO wraps up tomorrow.

And check this out. Careless drivers, junk mail, cell phones, ill fitting suits -- what was that, "Get out of the fast lane, you moron?"

WHITFIELD: Yes, you're funny. You added that ill fitting suit. You've been complaining about your suit all morning.

HARRIS: Well, it's not -- I think it's my brother's suit. It just doesn't feel like my suit.

WHITFIELD: I understand. When you don't feel comfortable in your threads...

HARRIS: This just -- and I tried to go with the... WHITFIELD: It is an irritant.

HARRIS: ... Temptations blue today and it just...

WHITFIELD: Well, we both did, coincidentally.

HARRIS: It's just -- all right, Jeanne Moos has a piece about everyday irritants and maybe some remedies. That's later in the hour.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Brad Huffines is in the Weather Center -- Brad, I bet you, you have a few things that kind of...

HARRIS: Yes!

WHITFIELD: ... ruffles your feathers.

HUFFINES: Yes, I think so. One of the things is ice on roadways.

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Oooh.

HUFFINES: That's pretty serious.

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Yes, that is serious.

HUFFINES: And that's what we're watching this morning very carefully, especially in some of the most hard hit areas of the Carolinas.

(WEATHER REPORT)

WHITFIELD: I like that.

HUFFINES: Certainly.

WHITFIELD: And I like the little jingle back there.

HARRIS: That's good, yes? Right?

WHITFIELD: Yes, sounds good.

HARRIS: All morning long.

WHITFIELD: It gets folks in the spirit.

HARRIS: We've got about five hours, all morning long.

WHITFIELD: And how many days? HARRIS: Exactly. That's exactly it.

WHITFIELD: That's right.

HUFFINES: Oh my gosh, in one week.

WHITFIELD: I like it.

HUFFINES: I can't believe it.

WHITFIELD: I know, I can't either. It just kind of came like this. But the entire year of 2005 went like this.

HARRIS: Yes, yes. And when you think about all of the stories well, we'll be talking about a couple of those stories next week that were a part of this year. Yes, they just helped the year to just fly right by.

WHITFIELD: Yes, yes.

HARRIS: So, thanks, Brad.

WHITFIELD: All right.

Well, there are changes coming in a lot of churches across the country. A Christmas Day tradition is now being replaced by a DVD. Some pastors are actually closing church doors and saying no to Christmas services. They're handing out DVDs of sermons instead.

Family time versus church fellowship and worship -- join us for two sides of that story in an intriguing debate.

Canceling Christmas services, that's tomorrow morning in "Faces of Faith," 7:00 a.m. Eastern.

HARRIS: But up next, one of the symbols of New Orleans could be reopening its doors. But who's paying for it? You won't like this. It's a money question for our own Rick Horrow.

He takes you "Beyond The Game" next on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

WHITFIELD: Good morning, Rick.

HARRIS: Good morning to you, doctor.

RICK HORROW, CNN SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: Good morning.

Good morning.

How are you?

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.

HARRIS: Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

WHITFIELD: All of that. HORROW: Right. All of that.

HARRIS: See you soon.

HORROW: All right.

HARRIS: Bye-bye.

WHITFIELD: That's my best response, all of that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS (voice-over): It's one of the symbols of New Orleans and like much of the city, it's been shut down since the arrival of hurricane Katrina. The closure of the Superdome represents a multi- million dollar loss for the city.

Now comes word that the Dome could reopen in less than a year. Conservative estimates say it'll cost about $150 million to repair.

Is it worth it? And, if so, who would pay for it?

The topic this morning, as we take you "Beyond The Game."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Well, here's the thing, most of the money to put the Dome back in business is expected to come from state insurance funds and FEMA. Yes, that's right, FEMA. Supporters say the city cannot afford to leave the Dome empty.

Now, for more, CNN sports business analyst, the author of "When the Game Is On the Line," Rick Horrow, join us this morning, as usual, from West Palm Beach, Florida -- and, Rick, you've got to give us the benefit of your experience on this.

I know you've negotiated a lot of deals, a lot of stadium deals, through the years.

So what is the real case here for making these repairs on the Dome?

HORROW: Happy Holidays, my friend, first, OK?

HARRIS: And to you, sir.

And to you.

HORROW: You're a Type A. Don't just get to the -- just Happy Holidays, OK?

HARRIS: I've got to get right down to business because I'm just, I'm a little long-winded this morning.

My apologizes.

Happy Holidays to you.

HORROW: Happy Holidays this morning.

Happy Holidays.

See, the bottom line is that I've done over 100 of these deals around the country and there have been 250 done since 1990. But I've got to tell you, this one may be the most perplexing of them all.

The Superdome, built in '75 at a cost of $134 million, one of the wonders of the world, by the way. Four final four basketball tournaments, six Super Bowls. The Sugar Bowl is so ingrained in the culture of New Orleans they're bringing it over to Atlanta this year, but having a Mardi Gras parade that Delta and Coconuts are underwriting in Atlanta.

HARRIS: Wow!

HORROW: The building is important to the fabric, the heart, the soul of New Orleans, the convention city -- $150 million to $190 million.

Who pays for it? You're right, 90 percent FEMA. But that other sources is the priority issue. How do you spend it on schools and roads or stadiums?

Commissioner Tagliabue of the NFL says he may help. And that may be a key.

HARRIS: All right, now we're not talking about tearing down the Superdome anymore or replacing it. So my understanding is, is that there is probably a $30 million gap here in the funding.

And where is that money going to come from and what is the NFL going to do, if anything?

HORROW: Yes, well, it's a $30 million renovation, but it's really kind of a spruce up until the more formal renovation happens. It's for sweeps and seats.

The bigger one is for the 30 percent of the drywall that was destroyed.

HARRIS: Yes.

HORROW: And the 70 percent of the roof entirely.

But the who pays for it is really important. And the Saints bring in $400 million of economic impact every single year. So you've got to figure out how to keep them. There is a brokered standstill -- in other words, they're just holding off until the end of the '06 season -- to figure out whether the Saints have their old contract back.

The state would have paid a $23 million a year subsidy up to that by the time release was over...

HARRIS: Wow!

HORROW: ... and the priorities may not be there.

Now, the NFL has been flexible. By the way, they gave each player who played on the Saints roster this year an extra $40,000 bonus just because of the hardships they endured.

So it's very clear the NFL can be flexible.

Is it San Antonio? Is it L.A.? where are they going to go? That's really a key, but not for today, for next year or beyond.

HARRIS: Got you.

OK, what's your fair ball of the week?

HORROW: Well, OK. The fair ball is interesting. It's a college sports. Bill Snyder, legendary coach, Kansas State. He's interesting because he was revolutionizing the Kansas State program. They've renamed the stadium there. They could have called it any kind of corporate name. They're calling it the Bill Snyder Family Stadium and giving up a couple of million dollars of revenue in the process to honor that coach.

That is a fair ball.

HARRIS: Yes.

HORROW: We'll talk about college football in the next few weeks, too, the Bowls and all of that.

HARRIS: Oh, that's good. That's good.

And your foul ball?

HORROW: Yes, this one is interesting. We talked about the NFL and the Saints.

Two weeks ago in Philly, a guy ran on the field and sprinkled this white powder on the field.

HARRIS: That's right.

HORROW: And everybody didn't know what it was. His name is Christopher Noteboom. And the cops got him and took him off. And they found out what was it? It was his ashes of his mother.

HARRIS: Right.

HORROW: And the police chief said we're not tolerating this anymore because we don't know what that is.

Of course we know what it is. It's a guy's mom!

All I'm saying as far as the foul ball is that's the power of the NFL, even if it goes to extremes.

HARRIS: Rick Horrow, good to see you, the author of "When the Game Is On the Line."

See you next week, Christmas Saturday.

HORROW: Only 607 hours of shopping until Christmas there?

HARRIS: That's right.

HORROW: Go get something.

HARRIS: And you've got to make the most of each and every one of them.

HORROW: Right.

HARRIS: All right, Rick, thank you.

HORROW: All right.

HARRIS: Rick.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks a lot, Tony and Rick.

Well, Iraqis turned out by the thousands to vote in this week's elections. The final results are expected within the next two weeks. So is this the turning point for democracy in Iraq?

We'll take a look when we come right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Petty Officer Frank Soul (ph), stationed with the Combined Joint Task Force, the Horn of Africa, in Djibouti. I want to wish my children Dylan, McKenna (ph) and Christin (ph) in El Paso, Texas Happy Holidays. I love and miss you all very much.

DOUG COMPTON: This is Gunnery Sergeant Doug Compton, the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed with the Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa, Djibouti.

I want to wish my wife Gaye (ph), my kids Sarah (ph) and D.J. and my mom and dad, John and Bev Compton in Fort Worth, Texas, Happy Holidays. I love you, I miss you and I'll see you soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Sergeant Crawley (ph), Al Asad, Iraq. I'd like to say hi to my wife and kids and wish them Happy Holidays in Fort Hood, Texas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And now in the news, new developments in Hong Kong this morning. Riot police try to douse the discontent of protesters at World Trade Organization meetings. It's one of the most violent protests since trade talks began Tuesday. Police were able to repel protesters from swarming over the meeting site.

The WTO meetings wrap-up tomorrow.

The talk in Washington and beyond is who might be listening to your private conversations? Revelations that President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens is drawing heavy criticism. In an interview with PBS, Mr. Bush would not directly comment on the report, saying he won't compromise ongoing intelligence operations.

It's a working weekend for both the House and the Senate, as lawmakers try to wrap-up unfinished business before the holiday break. Issues before Congress include a $450 billion defense budget and a $600 billion domestic spending bill. What numbers!

Lawmakers are also trying to seek pre-holiday deals on renewing the Patriot Act. Key provinces are set to expire at the end of the year.

And President Bush's weekly radio address from the White House will be televised this morning and you can watch it right here on CNN in about two-and-a-half hours. The scheduled topic, the Patriot Act. That's just a few minutes into the 10:00 hour here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

And the president is doing a lot of talking this weekend. He'll discuss the Iraq mission in a prime time speech from the Oval Office tomorrow night. It is the first time he's given a speech from the distinguished West Wing location since announcing the beginning of the war nearly three years ago. CNN will carry the address live. That's Sunday night, beginning at 9:00 Eastern, along with a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."

WHITFIELD: Well, the vote count is underway in Iraq after a strong turnout in Thursday's elections. Officials expect to have the final results in about two weeks.

So what happens after all the ballots are counted and the parliament is formed? For that, we turn to Rick Barton, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He's the co-director of the Post-Conflict and Reconstruction Project. And he joins us now from Washington.

Good to see you, Rick.

RICK BARTON, CSIS RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT: Good morning.

Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, Bush called this Iraq election a major step forward.

Really? We still see the insurgents are on the attack. We are still hearing from a number of Iraqis who are saying we still don't have water, we still don't have regular power.

So how is this a turning point? How it this really a major step?

BARTON: Well, I'm not sure it's a turning point yet. That's going to be proven over the next few weeks, and probably months, as well. But it's certainly a major step because we've moved from these transitional governments, which were kind of make believe governments, into a permanent state. And that's why -- that's why there was such a high level of participation.

WHITFIELD: And what do we think these governments will be empowered to do, as long as there is still a coalition presence?

BARTON: Well, they have -- the first thing they have to do is to get themselves together. And that's not going to be easy. They're going to have to form some intricate coalitions. They haven't done well with this in the past. You've got some rookie politicians that are having to step up to the big time and they're going to have to then elect their president and their vice -- and two vice presidents. Then the prime minister from that group. Two third majorities are going to have to approve twist and turn. And then they have to deal with the constitution.

So they've got some big, tough problems right away.

WHITFIELD: Is it your feeling that the Iraqis as a whole have a clear understanding of what it meant to go to the polls to elect this parliament and for these other events to take place that you just described, from the selection of the deputies to the president, etc.?

BARTON: I think it was well understood by the Iraqi public what this...

WHITFIELD: You do?

BARTON: ... what this means. I also think that there are probably very high expectations that these people will start to address the tough issues on the street that are keeping them from living their lives the way they want. And that's going to be even more difficult than forming new government.

WHITFIELD: And why was it so significant that the Sunni turnout, by many measures, was very high?

BARTON: Well, I think it shows that they recognize, for one, under the rules of this election, that they had a very good chance of getting some good representation. A lot of geographic seeds -- seats that were saved for the provinces. So, as a result, they knew they were going to have some play in this new government and could be part of any coalition forming.

WHITFIELD: And in this country, just one day after Iraqis went to the polls, we saw on Capitol Hill that the House decided we are signing this -- we are voting overwhelmingly for this resolution, which says there will be no timetable set for U.S. troop withdrawal.

If you were to ask the Iraqis whether they wanted such a timetable to be put on the books, do you suppose there would be a real disparity? Or do you think that Congress, or at least the House and the Iraqis, are in agreement that the U.S. troops should stay there as long as necessary without sending any sort of signal of a timetable?

BARTON: No, I suspect that the Iraqis would like a timetable, but, you know, that timetable should be set by the Iraqis. We are their guests in their country. The best thing their new -- newly elected politicians could do is to call for a negotiated phased withdrawal. The timing of it isn't as important as just getting on with it right now, because then all attention could be focused on the foreign terrorists. And if there is any doubt about the broad support within the Iraqi public, a national referendum after that negotiation is completed to approve it would be a great way to show that the Iraqi people want it, as well.

WHITFIELD: All right, from Washington this morning, Rick Barton with a really long title.

Boy, you're involved in a lot of stuff with the Center for Strategic and International Studies...

BARTON: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: ... and also a co-director of the Post Conflict and Reconstruction Project.

Thanks so much.

BARTON: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And Happy Holidays to you.

BARTON: The same to you.

Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Tony?

HARRIS: Well, do you find yourself getting -- it's more than angry -- mad, mad way too often and not getting even often enough? Well, now is your chance. Take a look at our Jeanne Moos. You'd better not cut her off in traffic. She has some pointers for getting even with rude drivers, rude parkers, rude cell phone users and just about everybody lese that annoys you.

And good morning Kansas City, Missouri.

There you are.

And thanks to our affiliate there, WDAF, for those pictures this morning. Sunrise coming; your weather forecast, too, in just a couple of minutes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. I'm Sergeant First Class Crenshaw (ph) of Taji, Iraq. I wish to give a special holiday greeting to my wife, Lydia. Happy Holidays honey and send me some special things as soon as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. My name is PFC Daniel Cross and I'm from Flaumont (ph), Texas. I'm over here in Taji, Iraq. I wanted to wish my mom and my dad and all three of my sisters and my brother Happy Holidays. I miss you guys and I love you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. My name is Sergeant Judith Dicosta (ph) and I want to wish my friends and family in Dallas, Texas a wonderful holiday season.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK, don't get made, get even. No one provides news you can use like our Jeanne Moos.

In this story you may have seen earlier on "PAULA ZAHN NOW," Jeanne gives us hands-on advice on how to fight back against life's little annoyances.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Name your pet peeve. Is it cell phones? Junk mail? Crazy drivers? Well, thanks to life's little annoyances, we've got strategies to fight back.

Take those subscription cards that cascade out of magazines. Some folks mail them back blank just to make the publisher foot the bill for the prepaid postage. And there's one guy who fills junk mail reply envelopes with actual junk to make them heavier and cost the sender more.

"New York Times" reporter Ian Urbina collected such anecdotes for his book -- annoyances like Starbucks' lingo. They want you to call a small a tall. Resist.

(on camera): I've got a small skim latte.

IAN URBINA, AUTHOR, "LIFE'S LITTLE ANNOYANCES": The same thing is kicking the Coke machine when it keeps your coins. It's not going to get your soda, but it feels pretty good doing it.

MOOS (voice-over): What annoys David Terry is the adult video store near his Hamilton, New Jersey home. He calls it a dump. So whenever he sees someone going into the porn store, he does the honk and wave to mortify patrons.

DAVID TERRY, ANNOYED BY ADULT VIDEO STORE: And they are thinking like, who was that? Was that my brother-in-law? Was that my boss? MOOS: Maybe bad parking drives you nuts. When Jason Brunet (ph) sees someone taking up two spaces, he leaves a leaflet offering a free parking tutorial at this Web site.

(on camera): Wrong. Wrong. Correct.

(voice-over): But bad driving rather than bad parking spawned Roadragecards.com.

(on camera): Can you read?

(voice-over): There's a card for every occasion, like this really mean one to flash when you see a driver putting on makeup. With signs like, "I hope your cell phone gives you cancer," no wonder the cards carry the disclaimer: "may result in injury or even death." Though some folks can take a joke.

Each phrase comes in reverse so you can insult drivers through their mirror.

Who would think of this as a weapon against tailgaters?

Allan Doeksen modified his rear wiper squirter.

ALLAN DOEKSEN, ANNOYED BY SHOPPING CARTS: To spray directly on their vehicle when they're behind me.

MOOS: Allan also gets mad at shoppers who leave their grocery carts blocking the aisles.

DOEKSEN: I'll either put like expensive items in their cart or possibly some embarrassing items like condoms, perhaps, in their cart, as well, when they're not looking. So when they go to the checkout line, they're slightly embarrassed.

MOOS: What annoys Chris Baker (ph) is when the person in front of him in the express checkout has too many items.

(on-camera): So what this guy does is count the culprit's items out loud as the cashier scans each one -- five, six, seven.

(voice-over): But almost nothing annoys folks more than loud cell phone conversations. So a Chicago graphic designer has created cards you hand out to offenders.

(on camera): "We are aware that your ongoing conversation about your husband's vasectomy is very important to you, but we thought you'd like you to know that it doesn't interest us in the least."

(voice-over): If you're very tall, maybe you're annoyed by airline seats.

IRA GOLDMAN, INVENTOR, KNEE DEFENDER: I was tired of being bopped in the knees by reclining seats.

MOOS: So Ira Goldman invented and now sells the Knee Defender. GOLDMAN: The table comes down, take the Knee Defenders, the seat won't recline.

MOOS: Whatever you do, don't use this on us. "TV B Gone" was dreamed up by a guy who was sick of seeing televisions everywhere. This universal remote turns off any TV. We caused confusion in the newsroom.

ROB FREHSE, CNN ASSIGNMENT MANAGER: Did you see our TVS? They're all going black, in and out?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but, right, see, the thing is...

MOOS (on camera): Now, what could cause that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... anybody could ...

MOOS (voice-over): Sometimes all these tactics do is give you a chuckle. But when facing life's annoyances, laughter is music to your ears.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh.

HARRIS: That's good stuff.

WHITFIELD: A lot of energy went into all of this.

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Not, Jeanne Moos' reporting. I mean she also gives up great energy. But all of these measures to get back at people for these sometimes small, sometimes really big irritants.

HARRIS: Well, see, and I've got a real problem with the cell phone thing, because I don't even know that I'm talking -- and I...

WHITFIELD: Really?

HARRIS: I think I'm just loud...

WHITFIELD: Oh, it drives me nuts...

HARRIS: By...

WHITFIELD: ... to hear people speaking really loud.

HARRIS: I know. I know. So I...

WHITFIELD: Like I really don't want to hear all of your personal business.

HARRIS: Right. So... WHITFIELD: But can't you take -- the mike is right here. You don't have to talk loud, people. It's right here, the mike. So you can whisper and they can still hear you.

HARRIS: Yes?

WHITFIELD: Yes. Or just think about how embarrassing it is...

HARRIS: If that were the case...

WHITFIELD: ... for everybody to know your, you know, private information.

HARRIS: If...

WHITFIELD: Shouldn't that be incentive enough to...

HARRIS: Well...

WHITFIELD: ... lower your voice? No?

HARRIS: I mean that's -- those are very good and valuable points here. Just ...

WHITFIELD: Oh. But, you know, you look at this shot on the train.

Have you ever been on a train?

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: You know, it's very -- it's a wonderful moment to just read, you know?

HARRIS: Right.

WHITFIELD: Take a little nap. But then you've got someone before you or behind you talking about their medical condition ...

HARRIS: So just ...

WHITFIELD: ... or, you know...

HARRIS: ... just tap me on my shoulder ...

WHITFIELD: ... etc.

HARRIS: ... because I know I do it. You have to admit your faults and shortcomings. I know I do it because I'm just generally too loud. But ...

WHITFIELD: Oh...

HARRIS: All right, so, there you go. There's Fred at the help desk.

WHITFIELD: I don't know how effective that was, but, you know...

HARRIS: It worked for me.

WHITFIELD: That's my little thought of the morning.

HARRIS: And still ahead, have you seen this unbelievable video?

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh.

HARRIS: Yes. A 3-week-old baby...

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HARRIS: ... dropped from a window.

WHITFIELD: I think everyone's heart has stopped just looking at the video.

HARRIS: Right.

WHITFIELD: Even though you know the outcome.

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: But still...

HARRIS: We'll have the "Wows of the Week" still to come...

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HARRIS: ... right after the break.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG DITRINCO, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "SKI" MAGAZINE: Every winter, "Ski" readers rank the top resorts in North America.

This year, Deer Valley, Utah is number one. It's the ultimate service resort. You pull into Deer Valley and you know you arrived. They literally help you take your skis off your car rack. The grooming there is the standard of the industry. The groomers work around the clock laying out a perfect white carpet for you to ski on.

Number two is Vail, Colorado. Vail has set the standard for the great American ski vacation for two generations. Vail is always coming up with something new that makes you want to come back, so they're always working hard on satisfying the customers.

Number three is Whistler, British Columbia. Whistler is the largest resort in North America. In fact, Whistler was just awarded the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: For the past month or so, cnn.com has been asking you to weigh in with your thoughts on Iraq.

Veronica De La Cruz from the Dot-Com Desk joins us with more.

I would imagine a lot of opinions out there.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, gosh, of course.

HARRIS: Yes.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes, we've been doing this for, what, the past month now?

HARRIS: That's right. That's right.

DE LA CRUZ: And, yes, they run the gamut, for sure.

And, as you know, Thursday Iraqi citizens went to the polls to elect a full four-year parliament. So cnn.com has been asking, "What needs to happen for the creation of a stable democracy in Iraq?"

And here are some of your responses.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DE LA CRUZ: Bill in Connecticut says: "The rival factions need to agree to disagree without violence. They should have a common goal and rid their country of outsiders bent only on destroying what they may achieve."

Ramon in New Jersey writes in: "Iraqi oil generates more money than some people can imagine. Give back around $250 per month to each Iraqi citizen. Once they have tasted the bounty, then they will, as their right, fight and help in the restoration of their country."

And from Edward in Michigan: "There will be no peace until we leave, just like Vietnam. There was no peace there until we left, and they seem to be doing just fine without us."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DE LA CRUZ: And, of course, you can read more responses online at cnn.com/Iraq. And like we were just saying, they run the gamut. Lots of different thoughts, you know?

WHITFIELD: That's good.

DE LA CRUZ: No, it is. It is. And we're still inviting you to write in to cnn.com/Iraq. It's the place.

HARRIS: All right, well, good to see you.

DE LA CRUZ: Nice to see you guys.

HARRIS: And we'll see you, what, in the next hour, the 9:00 hour.

DE LA CRUZ: Nice poinsettias, by the way.

HARRIS: Well, we're -- it's a work in progress.

DE LA CRUZ: And you...

HARRIS: We're doing it between the commercial breaks. We're just trying to figure it out, you know?

DE LA CRUZ: You guys don't match, though. You guys match each other, but you don't match the flowers, so.

HARRIS: OK.

All right.

WHITFIELD: Do we have to?

HARRIS: We're working on it.

WHITFIELD: Everyone matches poinsettias.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes, the Christmas spirit.

WHITFIELD: Oh, OK.

DE LA CRUZ: We're just a couple of days away now.

WHITFIELD: Tomorrow I'll wear red.

HARRIS: We're just trying to, trying to figure it out as we go along.

All right, Veronica, thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks a lot.

DE LA CRUZ: Thanks, guys.

WHITFIELD: Well, you've heard the reports. Now we want to know what you have to say. Lawmakers are demanding inquiries into whether the government conducted a secret eavesdropping program in the U.S. We want to know what you think about government spying and national security. We're at weekends@cnn.com, reading your replies next on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shopping for a house online? Here's what you need to know before you begin.

First, determine your price range and get all financial documents ready and organized.

Next, create a reasonable wish list by figuring out what amenities your new home must have and which you'd like to have. Never buy a house you've seen online without seeing it in person. And be sure to check out both local and national realty Web sites.

I'm Gerri Willis and that's your Tip of the Day.

For more, watch "OPEN HOUSE," Saturday mornings, 9:30 Eastern on CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: One man's lost love becomes another man's found treasure.

That story tops our "Wows of the Week," Fred.

A Massachusetts man found this stunning...

WHITFIELD: Yes, that's a serious...

HARRIS: Isn't this something?

WHITFIELD: Wow! It's beautiful.

HARRIS: A $15,000 diamond engagement ring in his car.

WHITFIELD: Even more beautiful to find it on your seat in your car.

HARRIS: How about that? Whoa, that was a freebie. It came in a box topped with a bow. And the note read: "Merry Christmas."

WHITFIELD: That's pretty.

HARRIS: "Thank you for leaving your car door unlocked. Instead of stealing your car, I gave you a present. Hopefully, this will land in the hands of someone you love, for my love is gone now."

That's a little sad.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HARRIS: Needless to say, the man kept the ring. Sure.

And take a look at this. Ready?

WHITFIELD: Oh, gosh.

HARRIS: Watch. Watch closely. Watch.

WHITFIELD: Oh.

HARRIS: That's a baby being thrown from a burning...

WHITFIELD: That's really amazing.

HARRIS: ... three floor apartment, third floor apartment -- sorry -- in the Bronx. The baby's mother panicked. But luckily a New York Housing Authority supervisor was to catch the 3-week-old baby. Both the child and mother are just fine.

How about this? The supervisor is the catcher on the Authority's baseball team.

WHITFIELD: Oh, boy, that's fantastic.

HARRIS: Here we go.

WHITFIELD: Such a nice, happy ending on that one. All right, let's take a look at the weather picture right there. We saw it a little snowy there in the Bronx earlier in the week.

(WEATHER REPORT)

WHITFIELD: Brad, are you responsible for some of these tunes, you know, under your weather?

HUFFINES: Actually...

WHITFIELD: I like your selection.

HARRIS: (INAUDIBLE)?

HUFFINES: It's coming from my head. That's what you hear, normal...

WHITFIELD: Yes...

HARRIS: Really? So we're tapped into your...

(MUSIC)

WHITFIELD: I like that.

HARRIS: ... into what you're thinking?

HUFFINES: It's one of my many personalities...

WHITFIELD: I'm thinking that's Ella.

HUFFINES: I'm a Christmas singer.

WHITFIELD: Isn't it? Oh. That's smooth.

OK, thanks so much.

HARRIS: I don't know if I want to be there in his head when he's...

WHITFIELD: See you soon.

HARRIS: All right, our e-mail question of the morning -- I know this is firing up the inbox -- domestic spying: a safeguard against potential terror attacks in this country or a violation of your civil liberties?

And our first e-mail.

WHITFIELD: It says...

HARRIS: Do you have it for us?

WHITFIELD: Yes. "We cannot wait for another disaster to happen to wonder why wasn't more done. Americans should not read into the monitoring. If they have nothing to worry about, why worry about it? Be happy that more is being done."

HARRIS: And this from Pete: "Let's face it, many Americans are naturalized. Terrorists are not fools. They know how to tap into human resources who are citizens of their own countries. I fully support wiretapping by the NSA."

WHITFIELD: All right, those are your responses. Keep them coming. We'll continue to read them on the air.

The next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING begins right now.

HARRIS: A strong reaction to word that President Bush has authorized spy agencies to target people living in the United States.

From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It is December 17, a week and a day from Christmas. Wow.

WHITFIELD: I know.

HARRIS: Here. It's 8:00 a.m. here ...

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HARRIS: ... in CNN headquarters in Atlanta, 9:00 p.m. in Hong Kong, where World Trade ministers are meeting, and protesters are meeting as well.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

WHITFIELD: And I'm Fredericka Whitfield, in for Betty Nguyen this morning. Thanks so much for being with us.

President Bush is talking about the Senate's decision to reject renewing parts of the past Patriot Act during his radio speech this morning. We'll bring his presidential address to you live two hours from now. That's at 10:06 Eastern.

Protesters at a WTO meeting in Hong Kong are clashing violently with police there. They hit police with bamboo sticks and a metal barrier while trying to rush the convention center, where dozens of heads of state are meeting. Protesters are opposed to the trade group's efforts to open up global markets.

Police are questioning three people in connection with an alleged bomb threat on a flight out of Burbank's Bob Hope Airport. An airport's or airport spokeswoman says it appears some young people were joking around, making comments about what they might have in their bag. One hundred forty-two people were evacuated from the Southwest jet, and bomb-sniffing dogs checked the luggage. The flight continued on to Las Vegas after nothing was discovered.

The Emmy Award-winning actor who played the president's chief of staff on NBC's hit show "The West Wing" has died. John Spencer's publicist says he had a heart attack and died in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 58 years old. Spencer appeared in more than 40 television series and movies.

HARRIS: Domestic spying, a safeguard against potential terror attacks in the country, or violation of your civil liberties? Reports indicate President Bush allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans without proper approval.

CNN's Kelli Arena explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pressed for details about the program in a television interview, President Bush said he would not discuss ongoing intelligence operations, but did make this point.

BUSH: Whatever I do to protect the American people, and I have an obligation to do so, that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people.

ARENA: But news of the NSA program created an uproar on Capitol Hill.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: They tell us, Trust us, we follow the law. Give me a break.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: We are a democracy. We are a democracy. Let's have checks and balances, not secret orders and secret courts.

ARENA: The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, vowed to hold hearings to investigate.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: When you got beyond the headline, starting with the headline that the president had authorized these wiretaps, surveillance of citizens in the United States, that's wrong, and it can't be condoned at all.

ARENA: The NSA eavesdrops on literally billions of communications overseas. Domestic eavesdropping is usually done by the FBI, and only after a warrant is approved by a secret intelligence court housed in the Justice Department.

But government sources with knowledge of the program say the president's order, issued in early 2002, bypasses all that to get intelligence more quickly. JEFFREY SMITH, FORMER CIA COUNSEL: The administration bears a heavy burden to prove that that was really the case. In my experience, the court was, particularly after the passage of the Patriot Act, the foreign electronic surveillance court was very responsive to requests for warrants.

ARENA: Government sources say the phone and e-mail communications monitored by the NSA involved those taking place between people in the United States and others overseas as part of terrorism investigations. They point out that if information is developed leading to a full-blown U.S. investigation, the FBI takes the lead, and warrants are sought.

(on camera): The problem is, without hearing from the administration on exactly what the order allows, we're left with a lot of questions.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Trying to get some of those questions answered. Man, just, well, coming up in about 10 minutes, our legal ladies, legal experts, they haven't been here in a while. It's going to be good,

WHITFIELD: Yes, we're looking forward to that.

HARRIS: Will weigh in on this whole subject.

But we want to know what you think. Let's get to our e-mail question of the morning. Should the president be able to spy on American citizens in order to protect the country? Send your thoughts to us, e-mails at weekends@cnn.com.

WHITFIELD: The president's push to get the Patriot Act renewed stalls in the Senate. And four speeches explaining his policy on Iraq apparently still isn't enough. You'll be seeing and hearing from the president in the next 36 hours in a few different ways.

CNN's Kathleen Koch is live at the White House with more on the president's very busy weekend, beginning with a live radio address, which we don't usually get from the president. Usually it's taped...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... is his Saturday morning radio address, and then an Oval Office speech to the nation. So as you mentioned, this morning, he is going to be making a live speech in his live radio address, instead of pretaping it as he had yesterday morning. They've switched the subject to the renewal of the Patriot Act, which the president believes is very important.

And then the White House also last night announced that the president would be making this Oval Office speech to the nation. This will be his first Oval Office speech. The subject will be Iraq. First one since March 2003, when the president announced the beginning of the conflict in Iraq, the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

And a senior administration official tells CNN that there is, quote, "a symmetry to that, to that, that was a key moment, and now three elections later, we are at another key moment."

Now, we are told that this 20-minute speech, that it basically will be capping the four speeches that the president has already made over the last two weeks, emphasizing his plan for victory in Iraq.

Back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kathleen Koch at the White House. Thanks so much.

And to reiterate, we'll carry the president's radio address live in about two hours from now. He's scheduled to discuss the Patriot Act, as Kathleen was explaining. Then tomorrow night, President Bush will talk about the importance of the U.S. mission in Iraq. CNN will have live coverage of Sunday night's speech, beginning at 9:00 Eastern, with a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" to follow.

HARRIS: Vice President Dick Cheney will spend the week before Christmas traveling overseas. Cheney will go to Afghanistan for the first session of its new parliament next week, then he will travel to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Oman, all allies in the war on terror.

And stories across America right now.

In Maryland, a 16-year-old boy who fell through ice covering a pond has apparently drowned. Investigators say the boy and another teen were taking a shortcut across the pond when the ice gave way.

A few tense moments near Spartanburg, North Carolina, as rescue crews worked to free a man trapped inside an overturned garbage truck after it slid down an embankment. Emergency officials say someone turned in front of the truck, forcing the driver to slam on the brakes. The pinned driver suffered only minor injuries.

Memphis police grabbed a fugitive New York fashion writer who's wanted for questioning in a bizarre sexual attack. Peter Braunstein was captured Friday night on the University of Memphis campus. Police say Braunstein repeatedly stabbed himself in the neck after he was confronted by campus police. He's wanted for questioning in a Halloween night sexual assault in Manhattan.

WHITFIELD: Well, here's a question. Will New York commuters have to find an alternate way to work starting Monday? We'll have the latest on a possible transit strike.

HARRIS: And we will hash out the legal issues raised by President Bush's decision to authorize spying in the U.S. by American intelligence agencies. That when we come back.

More CNN SATURDAY MORNING after a break.

(WEATHER REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Oh, Santa's coming to town, New York City. You know that to be true. It is, it's undeniable. Going to have some problems with the walkups, four-story walkups in New York.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HARRIS: In the Bronx, in the boogie down.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HARRIS: But he'll make it work, because he's Santa Claus, and he has his ways. That's it. That's all I've got

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: I like that, Tony. Tony is in the spirit, Brad. What do you say about that?

(LAUGHTER)

(WEATHER REPORT)

WHITFIELD: True.

HARRIS: You know, we've been focusing a lot this morning on allegations that the U.S. government may have been spying illegally on Americans. If true, is it a necessary evil to prevent another terrorist attack, or is it an unjustified trampling of the Constitution and your civil liberties?

Former prosecutor Nelda Blair and civil liberties attorney Lida Rodriguez-Taseff join us now with their takes.

Good morning, Lida, smile. Good morning.

LIDA RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF, CIVIL LIBERTIES ATTORNEY: Good morning, Tony.

HARRIS: Good morning, Lida.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: We're going to have a pleasant discussion. Nelda, good morning to you. Happy holidays. Merry Christmas.

NELDA BLAIR, FORMER PROSECUTOR: How are you, Tony?

HARRIS: Well, good. Good to see you, ladies. It's been a while.

Nelda, let me start with you. Any problem here, as you see it?

BLAIR: Absolutely not. HARRIS: Not ...

(CROSSTALK)

BLAIR: ... this is, this is a required very, very, very important surveillance of e-mails and telephone numbers, Tony, let's not forget, that came out of al Qaeda leaders, computers and cell phones. These are people that we have to monitor in order to make sure that there are not terrorism plots against the United States. And in fact, a couple of plots have already been uncovered through this surveillance.

Granted, there's our civil liberties, and I'm sure Lida's going to tell us about that...

HARRIS: Really?

BLAIR: ... involved in this. But that's constantly monitored, constantly modified, and the administration is very sensitive about this.

HARRIS: Lida, hold your fire for just a second.

Nelda, Nelda, can't you get a warrant? Why can't you get a warrant?

BLAIR: You know what? The problem, Tony, is that getting a warrant takes time, sometimes days, sometimes maybe in hours. But nonetheless, if there's a plot out there where people are communicating, and more people are coming in on the conversation, and the government has to know what's going on, this is the only way to do it. I can tell you this, the Brooklyn Bridge were blown up because the government didn't listen in on conversations when it knew there were some, then we'd really be screaming today.

HARRIS: All right, Lida, justified?

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: Can I finally get in on this?

HARRIS: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: Thank you, Tony.

HARRIS: Yes.

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: Absolutely not justified. Of course they can go out and get a warrant. There's nothing to worry about here. You know, usually the warrant excuse is, Oh, my God, if we get a warrant, then the whole world will know. They don't have that excuse here, because they could have gone to the super secret FISA court and said, Give us a supersecret warrant. And the FISA court never denies -- almost never denies these warrants, and, in fact, hands them out like Pez within minutes of being requested.

So that's -- first of all, that's baloney. Second of all, let's focus on who's doing the spying here. This is the NSA, the National Security Agency, an arm of the military, boys and girls. The head of the NSA is the U.S. Army general. So we have military spying going on here.

And Nelda talks about these, well, and Nelda talks about these, these silly issues of, Well, these numbers came from al Qaeda operatives in 2002. What has happened is that there's been this expanding chain of, We're going to look at the numbers of the numbers of the numbers of someone who might know someone who might know someone who's a terrorist. That's why they can't get warrants, because the connection are so attenuated here.

HARRIS: All right. Nelda, come on, we'll put you two up side by side.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: Talk to one another here.

BLAIR: Lida, Lisa, you know that this is not someone listening in to your conversation with your mom about Thanksgiving dinner. This is serious conversations by people suspected of terrorism, people connected to terrorism, people that hate the United States and want to do harm to it.

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: Nelda, how do you know that?

(CROSSTALK)

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: How do you know that? And first of all, these are...

(CROSSTALK)

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: ... these are communications that are being had by U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.

BLAIR: That's right.

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: The only reason, the only reason that the government thinks that they can spy on them is because they're communications where somebody in the U.S., who's a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, picks up the phone and calls somebody abroad. And all this is based on this concept that the administration has that there is -- that the president has absolute authority over foreign surveillance, absolute authority...

BLAIR: Absolutely.

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: ... absolute authority over foreign surveillance.

BLAIR: He has ...

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: Go ahead. BLAIR: He has authority, Lida, he has authority to make sure that the United States is protected. In fact, he has a responsibility to do that. And these are not -- we're not talking about millions of people. We're talking about maybe hundreds, maybe a thousand people. We're talking about people who have known connections to terrorism, Lida.

(CROSSTALK)

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: How do we know that? How do we know that they have...

BLAIR: ... is going to be searched. You know...

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: Nelda, Nelda, Nelda...

BLAIR: ... I'm going to be -- my bags are going to be searched. But that's the way it is in this world today ...

(CROSSTALK)

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: But Nel, stop, just a second. How do you know? How do we know, how do any of us know that these people have known connections? If that were the case, why didn't they go in and get a warrant? If that were the case...

BLAIR: Lida...

BLAIR: Well, what this allows the government to do, and what the president says he can do, based on this executive order, is that he can spy on any American, just because that American happens to pick up the phone and call somebody abroad. So when you say that...

BLAIR: No.

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: ... they can't spy on you and your mom talking about Thanksgiving dinner, if your mom happens to be in Canada, yes, they can. And how...

BLAIR: No, Lida...

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: Go ahead.

BLAIR: That's not -- that's just simply not so, Lida, and you know that. Look, this is people that are in, numbers that are in al Qaeda leaders' computers and cell phones. We're not talking about just anyone who makes a foreign call. If that were so, then it would be millions of people that are being listened to. But it's not. It's a small group of people. And you have to admit, at least two plots have been undone because of this information.

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: But there's nothing

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: I want to wish you, wish you a merry Christmas, happy New Year. And good to see you again.

BLAIR: And a safe one, because...

RODRIGUEZ-TASEFF: Tony, we miss you.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: And we miss you, you two, as well. So we'll see you maybe next week.

BLAIR: Thanks, Tony.

HARRIS: I'll cook up something.

BLAIR: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: All right, take care.

WHITFIELD: Well, we promised it would be fiery ...

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: ... and we delivered. It was. Or they delivered, I should say.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: Thank you, ladies, Nelda and Lida.

HARRIS: That's right.

WHITFIELD: All right, straight ahead, we'll read some of your e- mail responses. Those are heated too. We've been asking...

HARRIS: Boy.

WHITFIELD: ... for your thoughts about government spying and national security, and we've gotten some pretty interesting...

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: ... and thought-provoking answers. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, my name is Staff Sergeant Marcus Daniels (ph) with 172nd Stryker Brigade at (INAUDIBLE) in Mosul, Iraq. I'd like to say happy holidays and Veterans Day to my daughter and all my family in Texas. Happy holidays.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. My name is Sergeant First Class Tracy (ph) Davis, and I want to say hello to my daughter, Kyra (ph), who's in Texas, and I want to say merry Christmas and happy holidays.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Major Frankie Delgado (ph), United States Marine Corps and the Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa. I want to wish my parents, Billie (ph) and Lou Johnson, of Eastland, Texas, a merry Christmas and happy holidays. I love you, and I'll see you soon. Hoorah.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Want to get you right to our e-mail question of the day spying and national security. A safeguard against potential terror attacks, or a violation of your civil liberties?

WHITFIELD: And we can see the keyboards are just burning up this morning.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: There's smoke everywhere, because folks have some really...

HARRIS: Oh, man.

WHITFIELD: ... definitive views.

This from Cynthia in Kentucky, says, "This is reprehensible that the president of the United States on TV announces to the country that he spies on citizens, and he does so to protect us. Whoever heard the like of such an illogical admission of guilt by saying, I do it for the people? I suppose a thief takes our money to rid us of the burden of having too much."

HARRIS: There you go.

And this...

WHITFIELD: That from Cynthia.

HARRIS: Yes, and this from Frank, who writes, "As much as I want my freedom, I'm willing to give the president the power to authorize spying in this new era of terrorism."

Thank you so much for your e-mails. The question again, spying and national security. You know the issue. And there's the address, weekends@cnn.com.

WHITFIELD: Ahead in our next hour, is your white Christmas turning into a blue one? Does it happen every year like that? Not everyone enjoys the Christmas season. We'll have some expert tips on avoiding the holiday blues.

HARRIS: And just ahead, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us for "HOUSE CALL." Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: All right, thanks so much.

We are in the middle of cold and flu season, and you may be surprised at what's making you sick. We checked out our own offices, people's homes, and even headed to the mall. What we found was, well, pretty gross, lots of germs hiding in places you wouldn't expect.

We're going to take you to one of our anchor's offices, whose phone -- get this -- whose phone had more germs on it than the office bathroom. You're not going want to miss this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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