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AMERICAN MORNING

Ceremonies In Indonesia Mark One Year Anniversary Of Deadly Tsunami; Latest On The Bush Administration's Domestic Spying Program; Patrick Radden Keefe Interview; Mother's Dying Wish For Daughter To Play In LPGA Tour

Aired December 26, 2005 - 08:00   ET

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


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR Good morning.
I'm Miles O'Brien.

The Asian tsunami one year later -- remembering the victims of the disaster, perhaps a quarter million people killed. We're live in Indonesia.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Costello in for Soledad today.

A developing story out of New Jersey. Authorities giving new details right now on the search for two police officers who drove off a raised drawbridge last night. One reportedly has been found. We'll have the latest for you straight ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: And all across America, holiday shopping part two -- back in the stores and wasting no time with that. We'll tell you what they're offering on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning.

Welcome and thanks for being with us on the day after Christmas.

COSTELLO: Yes, good morning.

I hope you had a happy holiday.

Let's talk about the tsunami now. The tsunami struck Asia one year ago today. It's still an overwhelming presence in the lives of people there. Some parents still place ads in Indonesian newspapers, seeking word of their children. More than 216,000 dead, hundreds of thousands left homeless.

Our Atika Shubert is covering ceremonies marking this day.

She joins us live by videophone from Banda Aceh -- good morning.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol.

I'm actually standing in front of Banda Aceh's Great Mosque, where evening prayers are underway, just one of the many ceremonies throughout the day to mark this one year anniversary since the tsunami struck. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT (voice-over): A new day dawns in Aceh one year after the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated its shores, marked with prayer in this devoutly Muslim province of Indonesia.

At 8:15 a.m. a moment of silence and the sounding of a siren, the country's new tsunami warning system. Aceh lost more than 160,000 people, by far the hardest hit in this disaster.

Indonesia's president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, asked the world to look beyond the pictures of despair.

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO, INDONESIAN PRESIDENT: In a catastrophe of this size, it is easily to see only ruin. But look past the rubble, you will see progress. By the roads that are being built, including one that will reach Milabo (ph), you will see villages slowly taking shape. You will see markets brightening up landscapes. You will see children back at school and new teachers being trained.

SHUBERT: In Thailand, too, thousands gathered to mourn their lost families and grounds, wearing white according to Thai custom. The tsunami struck the holiday destinations of Phuket and Khao Lak at 10:00 a.m. Less than two hours after devastating Aceh, a wall of water traveling the speed of a jetliner. Of the more than 5,000 killed in Thailand, nearly half were foreign tourists. Many survivors, friends and families returned to Thailand to bid final farewell to their loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very sad. Very sad and hopefully this time we say good-bye will be the last time and it will go on from here and be a nice life from now on and maybe my mother will be restful now, I think, with a year gone by. It was a very hard year last year.

SHUBERT: The tsunami hit the island nation of Sri Lanka an hour later, wiping out entire villages and destroying the Queen of the Sea, a train carrying more than 1,000 aboard. A bell was sounded at the exact moment the waves hit, marking two minutes of silence.

In India, where more than 6,000 were killed, a memorial was opened featuring an eternal flame to remember those who lost their lives in this disaster.

The Indian Ocean tsunami was one of the largest natural disasters in history. But the final death toll may never be known. There are still tens of thousands missing, their bodies presumed to be washed out to sea.

In the mosques and temples, a time to pray for lives stolen by the disaster, but also to recognize the enduring resilience of survivors across the region and their hopes for the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: Well, Carol, as you can see, many formal, solemn ceremonies throughout the day. But, interestingly, survivors we talked to in the last few days said they weren't going to do anything special today, just simply be with their families, be thankful for what they still have and grateful for the international aid that's come in after this disaster -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And I can hear the call to prayer coming from the mosque behind you.

Atika Shubert live in Banda Aceh this morning.

Thanks.

M. O'BRIEN: And now more on that domestic espionage effort sanctioned by President Bush in 2002. It appears the effort to spy on Americans without a court order cast a much wider net than we first told you.

Our Elaine Quijano is at the White House -- Elaine, what about all this surveillance that was going on?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Miles.

A source familiar with the program confirms to CNN that the National Security Agency collects, traces and analyzes large amounts of information with the help of American telephone and Internet companies.

Now, this was a story that was first reported by the "New York Times" on Saturday. It's called data mining, gathering and sorting through vast quantities of phone and Internet data, looking for patterns that might point to terror suspects or plots.

Meantime, the debate over the program itself continues. Critics say it violates civil liberties because it doesn't require court- approved warrants for eavesdropping.

But former Secretary of State Colin Powell says he believes the monitoring should continue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: And in the aftermath of 9/11, the American people had one concern, and that was protect us. And so I see absolutely nothing wrong with the president authorizing these kinds of actions.

But we're going to have the debate and we're having the debate now, is these actions were authorized as a matter of law, laws passed by Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now, President Bush insists the program only targets the international communications of Americans in the U.S. who are suspected of having terrorist ties. Nevertheless, some members of Congress are very much concerned about this. In fact, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, says he plans to hold hearings on this issue early next year -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, and appreciate that, at the White House -- Carol.

COSTELLO: More on that developing story out of New Jersey this morning.

We're waiting for a news conference on the search for a missing police officer. Another police officer has been found. Their emergency services vehicle went off an open drawbridge in the fog last night.

Chris Huntington live in New Jersey City. That's just west of New York City -- how did this happen, Chris?

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A terrible accident, Carol.

It was very, very foggy here last night and these two Jersey City police officers were a part of an emergency services unit responding to a call to manage traffic around this particular drawbridge. It's a very heavily traveled truck route on Route 1 and 9.

The drawbridge spans the Hackensack River. The bridge was elevated. It was -- it's a center span bridge that lifts vertically, exposing a lift at either end. So no big flap, if you will, of a conventional drawbridge, to prevent anyone from driving off. And it's unclear what sort of warning barricades were in use at the time.

Jersey City police, who are in charge of the investigation, have been extremely tight-lipped. Everything we've gotten is from the following sources. The New York City Police Department sent a dive team over here to help in the initial search and rescue.

And a source in the New York City Police Department confirms that one of the Jersey City police officers was recovered and taken to a local hospital. His condition is not known right now. The hospital we believe he was taken to is not commenting. As I said, Jersey City police are not commenting.

The Coast Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard also part of the search effort, tell us that the rescue effort is going to continue this morning. We have seen, in fact, just a few moments ago, a search and rescue team from a neighboring precinct here in New Jersey with a boat on a trailer head over there. So obviously the water borne search efforts continue.

The vehicle they were driving was recovered early, early this morning, about 2:00 a.m. So the fact that they're continuing to search tells you they're still looking for that other officer.

Carol, as you've said, we are expecting word from the Jersey City Police Department, hopefully within the half hour. But that's all we know right now -- Carol, back to you.

COSTELLO: All right, Chris Huntington live in Jersey City this morning. It's difficult to understand how this could have happened. But if you understand the architecture of the bridge, perhaps it'/s easier, because the bridge doesn't open like a usual drawbridge, right?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. It's a lift bridge.

COSTELLO: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: And let's explain quickly, if we could.

First of all, Google Earth will take you down to the bridge and give us a sense. It's kind of hard to see there. But if you look at it, it's not a so-called bascule bridge. A bascule bridge is based on the French term for seesaw. They open like that, OK?

This one has a surface which goes up and down on a lift function. Let's show you -- there's an actual picture right now of the bridge taken last night. That gives you a little better sense of it. And as you can see, it's very difficult to tell what's going on up there. But if you look up there and see those lights up there, that's the actual level of the bridge. And this, of course, would be if the bridge were down low.

And so you can see how, without a drawbridge like you're used to it, how it would be quite possible, without a barricade there or lights, for this to happen.

This is a different sort of bridge here. This is on the Eerie Canal. We just found it. Take a look. We'll just step through these images. You look at the bridge. The next image you can see it goes up a little bit. And in the next image, you sort of get the idea. Anybody who's been in an elevator knows how this works. Up and down it goes. And that is why it would be possible for this terrible accident to have occurred in that fog.

COSTELLO: And it was really foggy last night.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Exactly.

COSTELLO: You couldn't see two feet in front of you.

M. O'BRIEN: Exactly.

COSTELLO: So we'll keep you posted on when that news conference will happen in Jersey City.

Other headlines this morning, we're hearing that dozens of people in eastern Russia have become sick from some sort of gas. The Emergency Situations Ministry says the gas was released in four stores in St. Petersburg. A reported 78 people are sick. Some appear to be in serious condition. Emergency crews are on the scene trying to figure out what the gas is and how exactly it got into the stores.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is set to undergo surgery on his heart. Israeli Radio reports that it's not life-threatening. Doctors will try to repair a small hole in the prime minister's heart. It was discovered as his stroke last week. The surgery could come within the next couple of weeks.

A gruesome Christmas morning discovery in suburban Washington, D.C. Five people were found shot to death in an apparent murder/suicide in two upscale neighborhoods. Police are still looking for a motive.

And a winter storm warning in effect for the Lake Tahoe area. It is definitely a white Christmas time in the region. Up to two-and-a- half feet of snow fell in eastern Nevada. The storm is a mixed blessing -- great for the ski resorts, but not so great for drivers.

Let's check out the weather to see if that storm is over -- good morning, Bonnie.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning.

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up on the program, more on the first anniversary of the Asian tsunami. If the same thing had happened along America's West Coast, what would have that been like? Would we have been ready? That's ahead.

COSTELLO: Plus, the White House under fire for eavesdropping on Americans. But they may be getting help from your phone company. Exactly who is the government spying on anyway? We'll take a closer look.

First, though, a holiday message from our troops overseas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPC. H. HERNANDEZ: This is Specialist Herman Hernandez. I'm with the 101st Airborne Division here in Kirkuk, Iraq. I want to wish Happy Holidays to my mom, my dad and my friends in Presidio, Texas.

SGT. KEVIN HOPPER: Hi. My name is Staff Sergeant Hopper from Camp Taji, Iraq. I just wanted to wish a Happy Holidays to my daughter Alexis and my wife Anita. I love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Can you believe -- those are people running into the Target store this morning in Florida. It is the day after Christmas. Retailers are hoping deep discounts will get you back into the stores, and it seems like Target was right on target.

Shoppers lining up early for some big bargains.

Joining me now is Dana Telsey, a retail analyst with Bear Stearns.

Good morning.

DANA TELSEY, BEAR STEARNS RETAIL ANALYST: Good morning.

COSTELLO: Could you believe that, people rushing -- I mean aren't they tired from Christmas?

TELSEY: No, they like to go to the stores. It's part of the excitement of Christmas.

COSTELLO: How much money do retailers make the day after Christmas? I mean do they make as much as Black Friday, let's say?

TELSEY: Yes, it could be as much or more. And with gift cards now, this week after Christmas and January are key.

COSTELLO: Oh, yes, and gift cards are good, because not only do you buy the amount on the gift card, but maybe you'll spend more?

TELSEY: Exactly. Most of the time that's what happens.

COSTELLO: Wow!

OK, well, let's talk about the Christmas shopping season itself, good or bad? I've heard differing reports.

TELSEY: It's been very mixed. We just came off a 10 city tour around the country. And overall, the malls had more holiday spirit than the stores.

This is the Christmas season, with discounting, and we really haven't seen as much discounting over the past four Christmases as we've seen this year.

COSTELLO: So were sales up? I mean, I've heard 4 percent.

TELSEY: We're looking for a 4 to 5 percent increase. When all is said and done, it will probably come in right around that mark.

Plus, you sold a lot of units, but you sold them at markdowns.

COSTELLO: Yes, like big mark downs.

But, you know, some stores did well without marking down anything. And I want to go through those, because that's very interesting.

One of the big winners this holiday shopping season was Abercrombie & Fitch.

Why?

TELSEY: Abercrombie & Fitch did well because they didn't mark goods down. They had the items that both women and men wanted, with the embellished sequined T-shirt's, lots of denim jeans. And watch for spring, because cargo pants will be the new item.

COSTELLO: And they had those really sexy ads.

Coach was another store that did very well. They didn't mark down a thing.

TELSEY: Exactly. Accessible luxury is what it's about, and from the wristlets to the handbags, there's someone for everyone. It certainly spans the age range.

COSTELLO: Tiffany -- I'm really surprised at this one. Tiffany had a good year. Who could afford to shop there?

TELSEY: Well, it's funny, because Tiffany's average transaction is right around $200 to $250. And there's more stores than just the New York store, while very important. You have all of their stores happened to have good sales with their celebration rings.

COSTELLO: So people are buying celebration rings and they're buying watches, which is a big Christmas gift. Ooh, I'd love a watch from Tiffany's.

Williams & Sonoma, another very expensive store.

TELSEY: People are spending more time in their home. And, keep in mind, for Christmas, they're also doing Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at home. And there's something new each season with Williams Sonoma.

COSTELLO: OK, so isn't there a secret in here for retailers? Why not sell really great products at reasonable prices instead of these deep discounts and, you know, they're selling junk sometimes?

TELSEY: I think what typically happens, a lot of times, is retailers sometimes have baked in their profits into that price. But if you have hit items or if you know what the hit items are, then you don't have to sell it at markdown, like the retailers we just talked about.

COSTELLO: OK, we have to talk about the losers now. That's (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

The big losers, American Eagle. They had such a great year last year.

TELSEY: And that's exactly it. Hard to repeat the great year twice in a row. So it was a tough year for them and more markdowns. You can get some of the denim jeans on markdown, too.

COSTELLO: So is it they lost money, or they just didn't make as much as last year?

TELSEY: They didn't make as much as last year and the fashions weren't as popular as last year. They need to change.

COSTELLO: They need to like go to the Abercrombie & Fitch model, perhaps, who knows?

Radio Shack.

TELSEY: People are buying their parts, batteries and accessories for all their consumer electronics at a lot of the big consumer electronics stores. It's almost like one stop shopping. So Radio Shack has to find another reason besides wireless to get people in the stores.

COSTELLO: Oh, so you get your parts all at one time. You don't have to go to Radio Shack for your batteries and your wires and your cables, etc. etc.?

TELSEY: Not as much anymore.

COSTELLO: OK.

Quickly now, the one trend that we will see in 2006.

TELSEY: The one trend that you'll see in 2006, it is going to be all about cargo pants. And it is going to be all about service, especially on the hog line side. People have money. They don't have a lot of time and they'll come to your home to put the consumer electronics network together.

COSTELLO: And they'll buy that -- those cargo pants.

This is the Target store. Look, it's filling up. It's just insane to me. Aren't people tired from Christmas? I'm exhausted myself. But I guess the people at Target are happy.

Dana Telsey, thank you very much for joining us.

TELSEY: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Dana Telsey, retail analyst with Bear Stearns -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: That is professional shopping at this hour, isn't it?

COSTELLO: It is.

M. O'BRIEN: We wish them well out there.

Have you been packing on the pounds over the holidays, hmmm? Yes, well, coming up, we'll begin our special series called 5 Diets That Work. You probably should just pick one.

Today, what do the French know that we don't know? Their secret to staying thin is next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: For anybody who's embarking on a diet, all this week we're taking a look at diets that work. The trend this past year has been away from calorie counting and toward awareness of what we eat, how much we're eating and the food choices that we're making.

A book that got lots of attention in 2005 is called "French Women Don't Get Fat," written by Mireille Guiliano.

Nutritionist Heidi Skolnik is here to talk about that.

Good morning.

I always mangle your name whenever we talk.

Sorry about that.

Good morning.

HEIDI SKOLNIK, NUTRITIONIST, "MEN'S HEALTH MAGAZINE": Good morning.

S. O'BRIEN: Nice to see you.

What do French women or French people in general do that Americans don't do?

SKOLNIK: I think it starts with our approach to eating. People who are on diets here tend to avoid foods that are bad for them. And the French embrace food. They go for foods that are good for them and satisfying.

S. O'BRIEN: For many years, people talked about the French paradox. Like, you've got all the Brie, you've got the French bread, you're drinking wine with every meal and then all of a sudden, why are they skinny and Americans are getting fatter by the minute?

SKOLNIK: It comes down to they may have more courses, but their food is actually good, whole food, simply prepared, pretty straightforward. And their portions are similar. It always comes down to portions.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about some of the things that the French do. You say they enjoy the taste of the food, but Americans don't. And I think you see this, really, everywhere you go. I mean people stand -- I stand up and eat at the refrigerator, because you're just (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

SKOLNIK: The author talks about this in the book, in terms of reframing the way we approach it, you know, that in America, if it's a good deal, it be a $0.99 burrito and you're going to eat it even if it's tasteless because it's a good deal. Whereas there, there's an element of respecting the food, enjoying the food, the seasonality of the food, really connecting to the food.

S. O'BRIEN: Simple, balanced choices. Balanced in what way?

SKOLNIK: More fruits, more vegetables. We hear it all the time, but there's no way around it, that that's a healthy diet. And that even if you're going to have and enjoy a sweet, that -- her assertion is the great taste that you get from that, you get in the first three bites. You don't need to have a super large portion of it.

S. O'BRIEN: No, you can just stop after three bites.

Connect to what you're eating?

SKOLNIK: She suggests that you really go to market, that you understand what foods you're selecting and that you prepare the food yourself.

S. O'BRIEN: Use the zipper test.

SKOLNIK: The zipper test. Forget the scale, forget weighing yourself. But you know if your clothes fit you how you're doing.

S. O'BRIEN: So basically just if they fit, you're doing fine.

SKOLNIK: You're doing fine.

S. O'BRIEN: If they don't fit...

SKOLNIK: Time to start paying more attention.

S. O'BRIEN: You know, the first thing she advises is to keep this food log, which, of course, is actually something you see in a lot of books.

Why is a food so important?

SKOLNIK: I think it's because people don't realize what they really are doing when they eat. And for her, she talks about becoming very aware of offending foods, the offenders, the foods that we tend to eat mindlessly that really contribute to our overeating and overweight.

S. O'BRIEN: She also says you should make the changes permanent, which I read that and I think well, yes, I mean...

SKOLNIK: OK, right.

S. O'BRIEN: ... easier said than done.

How do you do that? I mean how do you advise your clients to make changes that they know are good -- that we all know are good for us, permanent?

SKOLNIK: Well, one of the things that she suggests in the book is trying to change the way in which we view food. It's a reframing. She calls it recasting, to really approach it totally different, about not avoiding those foods, but embracing them. S. O'BRIEN: She says reset your equilibrium with something called, you know, what she calls stabilization.

Equilibrium for what?

SKOLNIK: That once you -- that there our civilization is defined by rituals. You get up, you brush your teeth, you get dressed, you go to work. There are certain rituals that you do. And so that by sort of reestablishing the way you approach food and the ritual of eating, you can really create this equilibrium where you're more tuned into what your body needs.

S. O'BRIEN: Sort of slow down, enjoy the process a little bit more.

Heidi Skolnik joining us this morning.

Thank you.

SKOLNIK: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: And Heidi will join us again tomorrow. She'll tell us about a Web site that literally watches what you eat. Ooh, that sounds kind of creepy, doesn't it?

COSTELLO: It does.

M. O'BRIEN: I don't want any Web sites watching what I eat. Anyway, it helps you make better food choices to maintain a healthy diet. Another one of the 5 Diets That Work all this week on AMERICAN MORNING, 6:00 a.m. Eastern.

And we're not saying do one diet each day of the week, right?

COSTELLO: Of course, that could work.

M. O'BRIEN: You pick the one you like -- you may -- well, maybe so. Maybe so.

COSTELLO: I don't know.

M. O'BRIEN: We'll have to ask Heidi that.

Coming up, the controversy at the White House over domestic spying. Exactly who is the government eavesdropping on? We'll take a closer look at that ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: We've been waiting for this news conference to take place.

This is in Jersey City, New Jersey. Two police officers were in an emergency vehicle last night when they drove off a drawbridge and fell into the Hackensack River.

We're just getting confirmation now from this news conference that both offers are dead. One body has been retrieved. The officer apparently died later at the hospital. The other officer is still missing. They are still searching.

This is Jersey City police chief, Robert Troy. He is now taking questions from reporters. Let's listen.

QUESTION: So was the safety bar down or not?

ROBERT TROY, JERSEY CITY POLICE CHIEF: No, it wasn't operating. No. That's why the officers were sent over there.

QUESTION: Right.

So essentially they didn't -- they just -- they drove, they probably had no idea what they were driving into. I mean they probably just thought the bridge was there and they were responding ...

TROY: Well, as dark as it was, as foggy as it was and as rainy as it was, they had no idea.

QUESTION: Why was the bridge raised to begin with?

TROY: The bridge was raised to allow a tug to come through.

QUESTION: What was the condition of the water, the temperature, the clarity and what did rescuers have to do (INAUDIBLE).

TROY: They're dealing with a very heavy undertow, heavy rain, heavy fog and I can't say enough about the New York Harbor Patrol and the New Jersey State Police. And like I said, they're still with us and they will be until this is -- until we find this officer.

QUESTION: When will they (INAUDIBLE) recovery?

TROY: Never stop.

QUESTION: Have they started?

TROY: We never stopped.

QUESTION: So they didn't suspend it at 2:30 because of the fog?

TROY: They may have for an hour or two just to set up again. As soon as the sun broke this morning, they kicked it full in. But they never left there, never left the scene.

QUESTION: And, chief, you were there late last night into the early morning.

TROY: Yes.

QUESTION: What are the conditions like there as far as - I mean, there's been this heavy blanket of fog.

COSTELLO: We've been listening to the Jersey City, New Jersey police chief, Robert Troy, talking about these two officers who are now confirmed dead after driving over an open draw bridge in Jersey City. It was very foggy last night. And, of course, both officers fell into the water. This is a picture of the bridge you're seeing now.

One officer was recovered. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The other officer, as you heard, is still missing, and they are still searching. And they'll search until they find him. Chris Huntington is in Jersey City. He'll get us more information. And we'll get to him as soon as he gets that information.

On to the rest of the news now. It has been a especially deadly day in Iraq. At least 16 people have been killed in separate incidents. This morning alone five Iraqi police officers were killed by machine gunfire near Baquba. And four civilians were killed in separate car bombings in Baghdad. The attacks come one day after two U.S. soldiers were killed in that city.

New York City is starting to see the impact of last week's transit strike. Remember all those New Yorkers hoofing it to work in frigid cold? Well, Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it now seems the biggest losers, businesses.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK: I also hope that we will never have a replay of the transit strike of 2005. We estimate that businesses in all five boroughs took an approximately $1 billion hit. Many stores across the city were largely deserted during days when they would usually have been packed. The same went for our museums and cultural institutions.

COSTELLO: Well, it's not over. There is still no new contract. Talks were put on hold during the holiday weekend.

And former Playboy playmate, Anna Nicole Smith is getting help in the fight for her late husband's fortune from an unlikely source. And that would be the white house. Smith is taking her case to the Supreme Court. And now the Bush administration's top Supreme Court lawyer is asking to take part in court arguments. The solicitor general says the filings are technical, not personal. The next court date is scheduled for February 28th. Of course, we will keep you posted.

M. O'BRIEN: One year to the day after that Asian tsunami. And among the questions we have this morning, would the United States be ready if a similar event occurred off the shores of our country? Richard McCarthy heads the California Seismic Safety Commission and put together a report on preparations in California. He joins us to talk a little bit about that.

Mr. McCarthy, good to have you with us.

RICHARD MCCARTHY, CALIFORNIA SEISMIC SAFETY COMMISSION: Good morning.

M. O'BRIEN: First of all, what I'd like to do is juxtapose the tsunami earthquake, the Sumatran earthquake, along the California coast as your group has done to give people a sense of its scale and how it might impact that coast. If we would go to that graphic, we could show people exactly what we're talking about. There it is.

And if you look up there in the upper portion -- if I can get that telestrated, that would help out. I could highlight it. What you see here in the blackened area is the size of the Sumatran quake. It was a magnitude nine, biggest quake in some 40 years. And along here in that red line there is a fault line there which could create a similar type of earthquake. Give us a sense, if there was an earthquake of that magnitude at that location, that would be a devastating event, wouldn't it?

MCCARTHY: Well, it would be a very devastating event. As you pointed out, Miles, you know, both those -- those are plate boundaries. They're both very similar. They both have the same capability to generate very large earthquakes and very large tsunamis.

And, in fact, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which you've referred to, generated a very large earthquake and tsunami in 1700. And that tsunami was recorded, in fact, in Japan. They had a 15-foot run-up in Japan from a very large earthquake, which was also listed in Indian -- Native Americans have described that event as a terrible event.

M. O'BRIEN: So, of course, the perception here - and we talked a lot about this a year ago in the wake of the tsunami in Asia. Perception here in the U.S. is that there is adequate warning systems in place. Not so?

MCCARTHY: Well, I'd say what a difference a year and a day makes basically. We had an earthquake off of Northern California last June. There were some communication problems between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to the state warning centers and then to local governments. But since that time, our state office of emergency services has gathered all our counties together. And they've discussed what went wrong and worked with NOAA. And we've improved our warning system here on the West Coast dramatically.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about some of the potential impacts. You also in the report talk about these so-called inundation zones, places that would be overwhelmed by water in the wake of an incident like we saw a year ago. I want to go to Santa Barbara first and home in on that. And I'm just going to try to draw in the line that you indicate on the report. It kind of goes like this and loops out that way, showing a huge swath of area that would be completely inundated.

Let's go to Marina Del Ray, give you a sense of what that would be like as well. This entire area right in here would be completely inundated. When you talk about that amount of water and the ability to get people out of harm's way, it's limited, isn't it?

MCCARTHY: Well, it's very limited. And those maps are a worst case scenario. And the main issue here, Miles, is that local governments have to issue the evacuation notice. And so if NOAA issues a warning that a tsunami is going to arrive at a local community within two hours, the mayor of that city or designated officials have to instigate the warning themselves. And that's quite a problem we've had.

Also the local governments are responsible for issuing the all- clear. And, therefore, I think what's need now is a better educational program, better communications between our local governments and the state and the federal authorities on when to issue an all-clear or when to issue a warning and when to evacuate.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. So let's go through some of the tips here. Among the things we're talking about is training the public to spot the warning signs. If the sea suddenly recedes dramatically, don't run toward it. Run away, right?

MCCARTHY: Well, you don't just run away. Hopefully fairly soon we're going to have our tsunami evacuation signs posted along the coastline so that, in fact, the public is going to know exactly where they need to evacuate, what route they're going to take. And there will be staging areas along the coastline as to where they will assemble and then basically wait out the warning or wait for assistance from local authorities.

M. O'BRIEN: OK. I guess the last thing you want is everybody just getting in their cars and trying to drive away. In some cases, high ground is the way to go. Go up as opposed to in, right?

MCCARTHY: That's correct, yes. There would be a - the issue is not to take your car. There'd be a terrible traffic jam. The issue is to get as far away from the waves as you can, possibly move inland. Or in some cases, like in Japan, they have vertical evacuation facilities pre-designated, pre-located all along their inundation zones to where the public is already aware that they exist and what they need to do should a warning occur.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. So better evacuation, better warning. Finally, building codes. Quickly, are there tsunami building codes in the U.S. right now?

MCCARTHY: Well, I wouldn't say there are effective tsunami building codes in the U.S. I think we learned a lot from what we saw in Banda Aceh in Indonesia. It's going to be kind of difficult to design a building to withstand a boat that's coming through at 30 or 40 miles an hour. However, that's not to say you can't pre-design something, a critical facility, let's say, locate a critical facility in a location where the impact, debris impact of a wave coming in will be minimal.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Well, let's hope things improve and those gaps are filled. Thank you very much for your time. Richard McCarthy is the executive director of the California Seismic Safety Commission.

MCCARTHY: Thank you. M. O'BRIEN: A reminder for you -- Paula Zahn looks back at the devastating Asian tsunami tonight. Tsunami one year later is the name of the program, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 Pacific.

Carol.

COSTELLO: Now to the spying program approved by President Bush. Congress is very likely to look into the legality of surveillance without a warrant while the administration, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, says the president was within his authority.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

POWELL: And in the aftermath of 9-11, the American people had one concern, and that was protect us. And so, I see absolutely nothing wrong with the president authorizing these kinds of actions. But where we're going to have the debate and we're having the debate now is these actions are authorized as a matter of law, laws passed by Congress.

(END VIDEO)

COSTELLO: Patrick Radden Keefe is the author of "Chatter, Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping." He joins us live now.

Good morning.

PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE, AUTHOR: How are you?

COSTELLO: I'm pretty good. How are you doing?

KEEFE: Very well, thanks.

COSTELLO: A question -- is this keeping us safer?

KEEFE: I think it is. It probably is. I mean, I think that the perception that the government would actually have any interest in your e-mail or my e-mail or your phone calls or mine is a little off target. It may be keeping us safer, but also jeopardizing our privacy.

COSTELLO: Well, let's get into that right now. Exactly how do they mine this information? I mean, The New York Times says, "telephone companies are cooperating with the NSA now. Internet companies are cooperating with the NSA." So they have great access. So how do you mind the data, so to speak?

KEEFE: Well, that's the difficult thing. I mean, on the one hand, if you're an intelligence agency, you want access to as much as you can. You want to get millions of phone calls and e-mails. The trouble is then sorting through those very quickly and actually finding the useful material (INAUDIBLE).

COSTELLO: So how do you do that? KEEFE: There are many, many quite sophisticated computer programs that do so. And a lot of it is also looking at networks. So they're not just listening to phone calls anymore. They're seeing who do people call. They would look in a -- if there is somebody they are after, who is in that person's phone book. Who does that person call? And then who did those people call and looking at those patterns.

COSTELLO: But, Patrick, if you're getting a million bits of information, I mean, is there a facility where they sit and they listen for key words? Like, if someone says bomb in a conversation, do they just go to that phone call with lightning speed?

KEEFE: Well, the technology -- that's much easier to do with e- mail than it is with phone calls. If you think about it, when you use Google, that's essentially what Google is doing. It's matching those words. But the terrorists, I think, are more sophisticated than that. They would hardly use bomb in a phone call at this point.

COSTELLO: Well, that's true. So you have to figure that some totally innocent people are being listened to, without a warrant perhaps. I mean, you can't really assume that it's only suspects from al Qaeda that the government is listening to, can you?

KEEFE: You can't. And I think that this is one of the dangerous things. When have you a situation like this where you're going around the law, the last time that happened in American history was during Vietnam. And actually at that time, the NSA had the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, just like this. And at that point, they were listening to anti-war protesters. They listened to Jane Fonda's phone calls.

COSTELLO: So again, I ask you. So should I worry because maybe I'm writing something in my e-mail that doesn't mesh with whatever the government is thinking? I mean, am I in danger of - I mean, you said at the beginning I'm not. But maybe I am.

KEEFE: Well, I think you might be, to some extent. I'm saying it may also keep you safer. And that's what makes this such a difficult thing for us to deal with as citizens. I mean, I think there is a real danger that some of your personal communications could end up going through the computers. Whether or not an actual NSA analyst would actually sit down and actually eyeball your e-mails I think is pretty unlikely.

COSTELLO: So where are we going with this? I mean, what will be the end result with all of these challenges perhaps coming up in Congress with the hearings?

KEEFE: Well, the interesting thing is that the NSA is the most secretive intelligence agency. I mean, it's the biggest intelligence agency in the U.S. But a lot of people have never heard of it, and that is because it's so secretive. So one challenge for Congress is going to be actually getting the information, actually gleaning any information from this very secretive breed of spies.

COSTELLO: Thanks very much. Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Chatter, Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping. There it is. Thanks.

KEEFE: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's check back on the weather now. Bonnie Schneider at the weather center with that.

Good morning, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: Good morning, Miles.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COSTELLO: All right, thank you, Bonnie. Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, a young athlete's dream comes true, thanks to what could end up to be her mother's dying wish. Her story is ahead. First though, a holiday message from our troops overseas.

Troop Greetings.

COSTELLO: The chance of a lifetime for 12-year-old golfer, Dakota Dowd. The tween prodigy will get to play in the LPGA tour. But it's also bittersweet because as CNN's Candy Reid tells us, it's her mother's dying wish.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY REID, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like any young golfer, Dakota Dowd dreams of playing at the highest level. But it was her mother's dream that caught national attention.

KELLY JO DOWD, MOTHER: Wouldn't it be incredible if she could go all the way and go ahead and go on the LPGA?

REID: In 2002, Kelly Jo Dowd was diagnosed with breast cancer. She appeared to have beaten the illness in 2004. But just seven months ago, the vicious disease returned with a vengeance.

K.J. DOWD: It now has spread to bone cancer, stage four and liver cancer as well. So it was quite obviously a smack in my face.

DAKOTA DOWN, GOLFER: It just didn't seem like she had cancer. It was like, how could this just pop up again so bad when we get tests every single month? So it just didn't make sense.

REID: When the sponsor of an April LPGA event, the Gin (ph) Company, heard about the Dowd story, they made an unprecedented offer, extending one of two exemptions to Dakota, allowing her to compete against the tour's best. It was a phone call that changed their lives.

MIKE DOWD, FATHER: He said we're going to give Dakota sponsor's exemption. Mr. Gin (ph) is going to do that for her to play. And then I just started crying. That was too much.

K.J. DOWD: Once he told us about this exemption, our family was in high gear. I mean, it actually put a different type of positive attitude and energy in our household.

REID: While the exemption is an exciting opportunity for Dakota, it comes with a big question mark. Kelly Jo was given just months to live by her doctors, and there are no assurances she will be there in April.

K.J. DOWD: God willing and my health prevailing, I will be there front, center and stage watching my daughter tee it off.

M. DOWD: My wife is an amazing individual. And I have no doubt in my mind that she'll be here for that event in April and long after that.

D. DOWD: I want to be with my mom all the way up until forever, but if that doesn't happen, I want to be with her as long as I can every day.

K.J. DOWD: It's definitely a dream come true, a dream that we could never have hoped to realize, that has happened. And this really is a Cinderella story. It's been nothing short of a very sweet fairy tale.

REID: Candy Reid, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Dakota is already making waves in girls junior golf. She's won about 200 trophies so far. And last year she won the southeastern junior golf tour title when she was just 11. She not only had the best score in her age group, she beat all of the girls up to 18 years old, too.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow. You know, you think of Tiger, also Annika. She's like an Annika in the making. What an amazing story.

COSTELLO: A Michelle Wie in the making.

M. O'BRIEN: Michelle Wie. There you go. There you go.

COSTELLO: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up in the program, the Asian tsunami one year later. We'll talk to one of the heroes to emerge in the disaster's aftermath, an Alabama man who risked his life to save a little boy. He'll tell us how the ordeal changed him forever.

First though, as we go to break, here are some scenes from the Christmas Day celebrations all around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: That makes me feel old. M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

COSTELLO: Fifty-eight years old.

M. O'BRIEN: Hard to believe. He remains young in our minds, immortal forever.

COSTELLO: And a great athlete.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. This time, what as it, 200...

COSTELLO: 1776.

M. O'BRIEN: What is that, 210 years ago? No. Two hundred and thirty years ago.

COSTELLO: That's so embarrassing.

M. O'BRIEN: Two hundred and twenty-nine years ago. I cannot do math on the fly. It is too much eggnog.

Famous iconic thing, Christmas Day, 1776, which is where I should have started rather than trying to do the math. Now, you actually have a real mathematician in the household.

COSTELLO: I do.

M. O'BRIEN: And he's probably just, like, so mad right now that I just did that.

Anyway, this is George Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River Christmas Day, 1776, allowing for their surprise attack on the Heshan (ph) troops on the New Jersey side. Now, they have tried to reenact this several times over the years, past three years. Well, it didn't go so well. But then yesterday...

COSTELLO: Finally.

M. O'BRIEN: ... it worked out pretty well. And so, this is James Gibson, a/k/a George Washington, along with 60 reenacters who with this huge support crew and months of prior planning were able to reenact what George Washington did on that night.

COSTELLO: Did on the fly.

M. O'BRIEN: On the fly.

COSTELLO: In very cold weather with troops who were sick, unhealthy, didn't have the proper clothing.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. And these guys - a little rain, they get worried. But he did say - he quoted George Washington who was quoting Thomas Payne. "These are the times that try men's souls. I don't care how many rivers we need to cross, how many miles we need to walk, we need to make sure we strike this army when they least suspect it.

COSTELLO: I like that.

M. O'BRIEN: History reenacted across the Delaware River yesterday.

COSTELLO: Good for them. I'm glad they finally got to do it.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Coming up in the program, we will look back at the year's biggest news makers in our special series five in '05.

Today, how Tom Cruise grabbed headlines with a surprise romance. Jeez, get a room, will you? A celebrity feud, a bizarre appearance on Oprah. It was quite a year for him. Stay with us for more AMERICAN MORNING.

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