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AMERICAN MORNING

Bush Declassifies Key Intelligence Report on Iraq; Hillary Clinton Stands by Her Man; Mona Lisa's Secrets

Aired September 27, 2006 - 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: President Bush declassifies a key intelligence report on the war in Iraq but Democrats are not satisfied. Today, we'll tell you about the political fallout.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: How important is this election to both parties?

A record amount of money has been raised for the mid-term campaign. We'll tell you about that.

M. O'BRIEN: Hillary Clinton standing by her man, jumping into the debate over who was tougher on terrorists.

S. O'BRIEN: And after 500 years, technology tells us the things we never knew about the woman who posed for the Mona Lisa. The style is still a mystery. That story and much more ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Welcome back, everybody.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien.

Thanks for being with us.

We begin in Washington, where both parties are pointing to a secret intelligence report as proof they are right about the war in Iraq. President Bush declassified a portion of the so-called national intelligence estimate yesterday after it leaked out over the weekend. The report says the war in Iraq is making matters worse in the war on terror, but also suggests a defeat of the terrorists there would be crucial.

CNN's White House correspondent Elaine Quijano joining us live with more -- elaine, good morning.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Miles.

And President Bush is on the defensive with just weeks now until those crucial congressional mid-term elections. Democrats have been trying to shine the spotlight on Iraq and they have seized on that NIE, arguing that it shows that President Bush and Republicans who have supported him have mismanaged the war in Iraq and the larger war on terrorism. So President Bush pushed back. After that meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday, Mr. Bush launched into a full throated defense of his Iraq policy and he argued that his decision to declassify parts of the NIE was not made for political purposes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some people have, you know, guessed what's in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree. I think it's naive. I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: And jumping into that political debate was Afghan President Hamad Karzai. He stood shoulder to shoulder with President Bush and essentially echoed the president's arguments that terrorists were taking aim on the United States even before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Mr. Karzai pointing to the 9/11 attacks as an example of that -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Mr. Karzai one of the dinner guests tonight at the White House. The other is President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. The two leaders have been trading barbs publicly over who's doing more to go after the Taliban and al Qaeda.

What's that dinner going to be like, Elaine?

QUIJANO: Well, it'll be interesting, Miles.

Certainly President Bush is going to have to play the role of middleman. These are two crucial allies in the war on terrorism and they are not getting along very well.

So this will be an opportunity for the president to try to ease tensions between the two countries. As you point out, they have been exacerbated lately over accusations from each side that there is a resurgence of Taliban activity in their countries.

Now, certainly along the border this is a problem both leaders are aware of. President Bush is going to try to convince these two that it is in everybody's interests to work more closely together in fighting the terrorist threat -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano at the White House.

Thank you.

The released portion of that classified intelligence report paints a dire picture and yet other portions read like the administration talking points on the war in Iraq.

CNN's Kelli Arena live from Washington with more on just what's in the released portion of that report -- Kelli. KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.

You know, the nature of these reports is to provide the best guidance possible for policymakers, so they don't tend to offer definitive answers. Instead, the analysts who put them together try to present all sides of an issue so hopefully the best decisions can be made.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ARENA (voice-over): The abridged version of the report pretty much mirrors what we have already heard from a variety of administration officials. But there's one point you don't hear much about -- that five years into the war on terror, Muslims who identify themselves as Jihadists are increasing, both in number and geographic dispersion.

Robert Hutchings used to head the National Intelligence Council, which prepared the report.

ROBERT HUTCHINGS, WOODROW WILSON SCHOOL: To me it, says that we've gotten ourselves off on a fundamentally wrong track by over militarizing this struggle.

ARENA: Intelligence official say they pushed to keep the report secret. They say it is not something that is meant for public distribution, it's written for top level policymakers.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think analysts will be more reluctant to make tough judgment calls if intelligence products are thrown out into the public arena every time there is a political firestorm.

ARENA: The portion of the report that caused such a ruckus in the first place had to do with the war in Iraq. The report says that conflict is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and that it has become the cause celebre for Jihadists.

On the other hand, if fighters fail there, or think they failed, the report says that will hurt the movement.

MCLAUGHLIN: So it presents a very dynamic picture on Iraq.

ARENA: The war in Iraq is just one reason cited for the growth of extremism. Other reasons are the slow pace of reform in many Muslim nations and pervasive anti-U.S. sentiment.

But it's not all negative. The analysts who wrote the report say moderate Muslim leaders are stepping forward to denounce the violence.

MCLAUGHLIN: The paper makes the point that that mainstream Muslim movement could be the factor that would tip the scales, the most potent weapon in the anti-terrorist movement.

ARENA: So what else might tip the balance? Well, the report says if Osama bin Laden or other al Qaeda leaders are caught, that could fracture the movement.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ARENA: It is important to note that this report was completed in April and that that is before al Qaeda's leader in Iraq was killed. And, as you know, we're only seeing three pages here. Most of this report still remains classified -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Kelli Arena in Washington.

Thank you very much -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Here's a look now at stories that CNN correspondents around the world are covering today.

SETH DOANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, I'm Seth Doane.

I'm just back from a trip to Nepal, where high up in the mountains, we got a rare glimpse at life inside a Maoist village. These are the areas the Maoists claimed as a base of their support during the last 10-year-long rebel-led insurgency.

Now, with a cease-fire in effect, some are questioning whether or not the Maoists can hold onto that support without guns in their hands.

We also got the opportunity to meet Prachanda, the rebel chief, and hear more about the Maoist ideology.

According to Refugees International, up to 80 percent of Nepal is under Maoist influence.

RICHARD ROTH, SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: This is Richard Roth at the United Nations, where today we'll be following the closing of the special general assembly debate. One of the featured speakers, Thailand. That Asian country had a speaker's slot last week, but because of the coup, it went to the back of the line of all of the other countries.

Also of note, the Vatican is speaking to the general assembly.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm John Vause in Jerusalem.

Israel's president, Moshe Katsav, is under police investigation after being accused of sexually harassing a woman who once worked for him. The complaint was made a moment ago. Since then, the president's official residence has been raided, investigators seizing computers, documents and other files. Mr. Katsav denies any wrongdoing and this week produced a taped phone conversation where the woman, known only here as Woman A, allegedly demands $200,000 to keep quiet. The woman, though, denies that and says the tape was doctored.

The attorney general will decide in the coming weeks if there is enough evidence to lay charges.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Ben Wedeman on the West Bank, where a new Israeli policy could send hundreds of foreigners packing. We focus on the case of a Palestinian-American businessman who argues that Israel's decision to stop issuing tourist visas to foreign passport holders like himself could cost thousands of Palestinians their jobs, cripple the economy and create even more instability in a region that can ill afford it.

S. O'BRIEN: For more on these or any of our top stories, you can head right to our Web site at cnn.com.

Happening This Morning, a huge build of fill -- to fund the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is making its way through Congress. The House yesterday approved $70 billion in new military spending. It's part of a record $448 billion Pentagon budget. The Senate is expected to follow suit this week.

Both houses of Congress are expected today to vote on a terrorist detainee bill. The measure is supported by the White House. It would allow the Bush administration to put terror suspects on trial as early as this fall.

A closed door hearing today for former White House aide Louis "Scooter" Libby. Libby is accused of lying to investigators about the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Plame's name. At issue is whether certain classified information should be disclosed in the case.

In Utah today, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs appears in court to set the timetable for his criminal trial. Jeffs is charged with two counts of rape as an accomplice. Authorities say he forced underage girls to marry older men.

Super model Naomi Campbell back in a New York City chat room today. She's on trial for assault. She stands accused of hitting her maid with her cell phone after she couldn't find a pair of jeans. If she is convicted, Naomi Campbell could go to prison for seven years.

That huge 3-week-old wildfire is still threatening homes in Ventura County in California, about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. Residents have been urged to leave their homes. Many are refusing, though. The fire is called the day fire and it's now one of the biggest in the state's history. It is just 43 percent contained.

That brings us right to the forecast.

Chad has got that -- Chad, what does it look like for them?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The winds are fine. The marine layer was in for a little while yesterday. That helps because that's added humidity. But rarely does it get really that far inland.

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, Hillary Clinton takes aim at Condoleezza Rice -- just the latest echo from that over the top Bill Clinton interview on Fox.

Plus, just what is the national intelligence estimate and how exactly is it all put together?

We'll ask a former spy who knows firsthand, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: President Bush has taken a very unusual step, declassifying parts of an intelligence report which says the war in Iraq is fueling terrorism. It says other things, as well.

The report is called the national intelligence estimate and it contains secret information meant for the eyes of top policymakers only.

Mark Lowenthal helped prepare these secret reports in the past.

He's in Washington, D.C. this morning.

It's nice to see you.

You were formerly the vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Give us a little insight into how it works. It's 16 agencies that come together.

How exactly do they compile one report?

MARK LOWENTHAL, FORMER VICE CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE COUNCIL: Well, what happens is somebody decides we need an estimate, either a policymaker in the executive branch, Congress can ask for an estimate or the intelligence community can do it because they realize an issue is important. And then the National Intelligence Council is made up of national intelligence offers, the NIOs, who have specific responsibilities for issues or areas.

And they will choose somebody to be the initial drafter of an estimate. It's usually one or two people who draft it. And then it will be sent around to all of the other agencies for their comments, suggestions, changes.

S. O'BRIEN: So it's a fair reflection of how people who are leading these 16 agencies feel about, in this case, the general war on terror and some parts specifically about Iraq.

Let me ask you a question. It's very unusual, as I mentioned, for a president to declassify the information.

Do you think it was a mistake?

LOWENTHAL: Well, I think he had to because one paragraph out of an estimate that apparently is over 30 pages long was leaked. And I think the president felt that in order to get the true sense of the breadth of the estimate, you had to show more than that -- just that one paragraph.

S. O'BRIEN: So he was sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place, to some degree. LOWENTHAL: I think so.

S. O'BRIEN: What's the point of this estimate? I mean who, after it's completed, if it's not declassified for the public, who would get it?

LOWENTHAL: Well, this would go to the president. In fact, the director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, will actually sign it to the president, so it's the DNI's report to the president. It would go to senior policymakers in the executive branch. It would go to members of Congress and the intelligence committees and their staffs.

And the point is to give them a sense of where is this issue going over the next several years.

It's not a prediction. It's a way of showing what the trends are and what the likely possible ways in which the trends are morning.

S. O'BRIEN: Both Democrats and Republicans have jumped on this, because we're only a few weeks out from the mid-term elections. I mean I know you're not shocked by that.

LOWENTHAL: No.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at some of the declassified key judgments from the report.

This one: "The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for Jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global Jihadist movement."

And other parts of that -- that seems to be relatively straightforward. But there are other parts in this key judgments that almost contradict, talk about progress made.

At the end of the day, how can both sides claim victory from the same report?

LOWENTHAL: Well, that's one of the charms and problems of an estimate, that estimates are always cherry picked by policymakers to find the paragraphs they like, that support their point of view. I've described this to somebody once as sort of an intelligence buffet. You can find a supporting document.

And remember, they're not making a prediction as to a single outcome. So they're trying to trace all the probable trends. And so it's not unusual to find wording that will support a variety of points of view. And, also, the fact that they're looking two and three and five years out, also, necessitates a sort of broad approach to this.

S. O'BRIEN: They're looking two or three or five years out. But at the same time, the report, which was done back in...

LOWENTHAL: April. S. O'BRIEN: ... was finished back in April, right.

LOWENTHAL: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: So to what degree is it old news in some ways, parts of the report? I mean and you look at how things have changed, for example, in Iraq since April, isn't it, in some ways, as much as it's looking forward, also out of date?

LOWENTHAL: Somewhat. For example, the estimate discusses what would happen if Zarqawi was captured or killed. Zarqawi is dead.

Estimates are not -- you have to distinguish between current intelligence, the reports that go to the president every morning. He gets -- in fact, he's getting a briefing right now, if they're on their usual schedule -- and longer-term reports. Longer-term reports will have a longer shelf life. This is -- remember, this is just trying to capture where a trend is going.

The difficulty about the estimate is once you've read it, if you're a policymaker, it's not always easy to discern from that, what do I do with it? What do I do about this? How do I change my policy?

In fact, I think the two paragraphs in the parts that were released that I found much more significant than the Iraq paragraph that you read that everyone is excited about is where they say that the underlying factors spreading terrorism outweigh the ones that are likely to limit it, which is actually the paragraph after Iraq. And later on that same page, where they say that we have to do more than kill or capture terrorists.

That, to me, is very significant because it tells policymakers here's what you have to think about strategically if you want to win this war.

Those are much more significant paragraphs, but they're not politically compelling, so they've been lost in this debate that we've had since Sunday.

S. O'BRIEN: I was going to say, when you look at it in the context of a mid-term election nearly six -- not quite six weeks away, maybe it's none of -- it doesn't read so interestingly. But those might be the critical ones.

LOWENTHAL: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: Dr. Mark Lowenthal, thanks for talking with us.

LOWENTHAL: Thank you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks for clarifying this report for us.

This is fascinating stuff. I certainly appreciate it.

LOWENTHAL: You're quite welcome.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up on the program, in politics, the candidate with the most cash usually wins. If that's the case, the Republicans have nothing to worry about on election day. We'll explain.

Plus, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf hawking his book, making the rounds. He ended up on Jon Stewart's couch last night. We'll share a Zen moment with you ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: The CNN Election Express there on the Mall. Lots of talk about the mid-term election changing the balance of power in Washington.

But when you get past the rhetoric and you get past those poll numbers and deep into the balance sheets, you'll see a race that looks a lot more lopsided than you might think, tilting toward the GOP.

John Roberts drove that bus right to the Mall this morning, hopefully carefully.

And he's here to give us some dollars and common sense on the mid-term election -- John, good morning.

JOHN ROBERTS, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you, Miles.

Yes, here it is, the big bus, the CNN Election Express rides like a dream. Our brand spanking new, 45-foot long tour mobile that we're going to be taking across the country to a lot of the major races in this mid-term election, an important mid-term election because the balance of power in Congress now could be decided by what happens in the next five weeks.

We're here in Washington, D.C. this morning because we're talking about election dollars. The Center for Responsive Politics here in Washington estimates that together, the parties are going to collect about $1.7 billion in this cycle. They expect that that is either going to match or exceed what they got in 2002. And that was back in the day when those big corporate so-called soft money donations were allowed.

Vice President Cheney was the latest one to add to the Republican coffers, hosting a fundraiser here in Washington last night. Four million dollars he collected for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): The vice president hit a milestone this week -- his 100th fundraiser of the midterm election cycle. Not far behind, President Bush, with just under 70 now.

In total, Republican candidates and campaign committees have so far raised more than $870 million. KEN MEHLMAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: I think it's an indication, first of all, of the commitment that this party and this president have to keeping our majorities in Congress.

ROBERTS: But it's also a sign, admits party chairman Ken Mehlman, of the challenge Republicans face.

Just look at this recent fundraising appeal from Senate Campaign Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole: "Republicans are more at risk of losing our critical Senate majority than ever before," she writes.

THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think it's a position of weakness. They would not be spending this money if they thought they were in good shape.

ROBERTS: And what's bad for Republicans appears to be paying off for the Democrats.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We've set records already in what we've raised. We've raised more, as of now, than we raised in all of the last cycle, and we're going to significantly outspend what we spent last time.

ROBERTS: While Democrats are getting better, particularly under new fundraising rules that outlaw so-called soft money, they still lag more than $100 million behind the Republicans. Some analysts believe a rising Democratic tide might compensate for the deficit, but Senate campaign committee chairman Chuck Schumer would rather have the cash.

SCHUMER: Well, it's not true that money isn't important. It always is. And, in this job, even though I have been in politics for 30 years, it is amazing how you put a couple of million bucks on TV and it changes the election.

ROBERTS: But even the money they have raised isn't all going into the campaign. Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean is using much of his committee's cash to rebuild the party apparatus and plans to spend just a fifth of what his Republican counterpart will on congressional races.

HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Look, I don't pretend for a minute that we have the kind of election machine that the Republicans have. We need to rebuild that. That's why I'm chair of the party.

ROBERTS: As Democrats bicker over Dean's tight pockets, Republicans will turn theirs inside out.

MEHLMAN: It's the most the RNC has ever spent.

ROBERTS: In politics, there is an old saying -- whoever spends the most wins. And even the most optimistic Democrats believe, despite all their political troubles, the Republicans' cash advantage will make a difference.

SCHUMER: How big a difference? We'll have to wait and see on Election Day. We hope not enough of a difference.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ROBERTS: So, what can voters expect out of all that money over the next five weeks?

An ad and outreach blitz the likes of which no mid-term election has ever seen before. The Republican strategy is going to be to flood the airwaves with messages that "define their Democratic opponents." But Democrats expect what that's going to mean is an onslaught of negative ads -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: And we will be expecting that.

John, Howard Dean's decision to be so tight-fisted, I assume that has Democrats in a familiar position, which is to say, fighting amongst themselves.

ROBERTS: Yes, exactly. You know, what was it that was said so long ago, you know, I belong to no organized party? Will Rogers said that. I belong to no organized party. I'm a Democrat.

You know, this is one thing that the Republicans are saying that they've got over the Democrats is that they're organized, everything is working like a well oiled machine.

Meantime, there's this bickering between the Democrats over how much money should be spent. And there are some personal issues, as well, between Rahm Emanuel, who is the chairman of the Democratic congressional campaign committee and Howard Dean.

I asked Howard Dean about those. He said well, we might have some personal problems, but I'm not about to air that laundry here on CNN.

M. O'BRIEN: That tells me something is going on.

All right, John Roberts on the Mall.

Thank you very much.

And drive safely now.

If you want to make sure you get your daily dose of the latest political news, we invite you to click on to CNN's new Political Ticker. Cnn.com/ticker. It's must viewing if you're into politics -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Today, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is going to meet with President Bush and the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. It's all at the White House.

Last night, though, he stopped by "The Daily Show" for a little pointed political probing from the host, Jon Stewart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART," COURTESY COMEDY CENTRAL)

JON STEWART, HOST: Where's Osama bin Laden?

PRES. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTAN: I don't know. Do you know him? Dukwhis? You lead on, we'll follow you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: He's pretty funny, actually.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Mr. Musharraf is promoting his new memoir. It's called "In The Line of Fire." The big headline from that memoir is that Musharraf claimed his country was pressured, threatened, actually, by the Bush administration to support the war on terror following 9/11. Now, the administration denies that charge.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up on the program, the battle of the bulge -- can New York City ban glazed donuts? What would Homer Simpson say about that?

And police in Dallas a little red-faced after laying a trap. They lose the bait and the car thief gets the last laugh, for now, at least. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning, both Democrats and Republicans are getting political mileage from intelligence declassified by the president. The report says the war in Iraq is the cause celebre for worldwide terrorists. It also says a defeat for terrorists in Iraq is a major blow to their movement.

Talks begin today on resolving the crisis over Iran's nuclear program. Iran's chief negotiator is meeting with the foreign policy chief of the European Union.

And an update on Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner that broke his leg. Doctors say Barbaro's looking good. Still in a cast, though, and still in intensive care. It will be six months to a year before he can go back to the race.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Still a bunch of political echoes from the gasket- blowing interview by the former President Bill Clinton on Fox News over the weekend. That was something. The latest round comes from his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the senator from New York and would- be presidential timber herself, taking aim at Condoleezza Rice, who herself was taking aim at President Clinton. We could go on and on. I'm sure there'll be yet another statement today from somebody.

As matter of fact, we have a couple of guys that may want to opine on this. We are joined by Paul Begala and James Carville. Their book, "Take it Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future," out in paperback now. We haven't decided who's going to play them in the movie, but it's going to be huge. It's going to be huge!

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Our party, our country, our paperback.

M. O'BRIEN: All that stuff, yes.

Hillary Clinton weighed in on all of this. It's -- first of all, you guys worked with the former president very close and personally over the years. Was that the real Bill Clinton? Was that kind of a contrived moment that he'd kind of been laying in wait for? What do you think?

BEGALA: I think I know. It was real. First of all, Bill Clinton is a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, for better or for worse.

M. O'BRIEN: Or thin-skinned, if you want to put it the other way.

BEGALA: Yes, actually, I think it's actually a very different thing. He shows his emotions. He doesn't get his feelings hurt very easily. He has a very thick skin. But he's very -- if he looks like he's angry, he's angry. If he's acting like he's sad, he's sad. That was authentic.

And I think what happened was, this was a combination. First off, ABC and the Walt Disney Company made this film, it was really desperately untrue, really unfair to him. And then Chris Wallace from Fox News comes in and asks him, well, why didn't you retaliate for the Cole bombing? Which occurred in the last weeks of his presidency. And he pointed out, kind of angrily, but I think --- I don't think; I know -- correctly, that out of the dozens of Bush administration officials who had been on Chris Wallace's show, none of them had ever been asked that same question.

So he called the media on their double standard. OK, we Democrats believe that certainly Fox News and others in the media have now become biased against Democrats. And we're not going to take a double standard anymore. And he stood up and he fought back. And my hope is that every Democrat in America watches that for media training so they stand up and fight for their party again.

M. O'BRIEN: James, let's listen to Hillary Clinton and see what she had to say, and then I'll have you can weigh in on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I'm certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States," he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: Of course, referring to the report that came in August when they were at the ranch, right in advance of 9/11. So what do you think of that?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, history is a wonderful thing. And the 9/11 Commission report actually shows that they did receive a similar thing in December of 1998. And how the Clinton administration went into full (INAUDIBLE), Richard Clark conducting meetings, increased security, sent everything out.

So we actually, in the 9/11 report, see the Clinton and the Bush administration receiving a similar intelligence. We see the Clinton administration swinging into action, calling people, increasing security, having task force. All right? We see the Bush administration on August the 6th, 2001, and what President Bush told his briefer was, now you've covered your rear end, and did nothing. So I've always known that Senator Clinton was a brilliant woman and this is just further proof as to how brilliant she is, because all you -- as Yogi Berra said, you can look it up. It's right there.

M. O'BRIEN: It's -- let's talk for a moment about the ascendancy of Bill Clinton here. I mean, he's been absolutely squirreled away in a closet for the past couple elections. Suddenly he's out there, acting -- trying to act statesman-like. And is this a potential negative, though, for Hillary Clinton as she runs? Or is it all positive, in your view?

BEGALA: It's all good. It's all good. I honestly have no idea if Hillary is going to run or not. It's a concepted (ph) wisdom that she will. She's got to be re-elected first, and then she's got to look at the state of the world. I honestly believe she has not decided. But irrespective of whether she runs, this is a good thing. Her husband is the most popular public figure in America, except for Laura Bush. That's according to Bill Schneider, our pollster here at CNN.

M. O'BRIEN: And Laura Bush is not running for anything.

BEGALA: No. And I adore Laura. I admire Laura Bush, as well. But she's not a partisan figure. Bill Clinton is still a partisan figure, and yet 60 percent approval rating. Almost 20 points higher than the current president.

This is nothing but good for Hillary. And here she is today pointing out that the national intelligence estimate has come out and said that we are not safer because of the war in Iraq. President Bush had been not telling the truth. This is all good for her. It's all good for Democrats. Because finally someone is fighting back. We need -- Bill Clinton did more in 15 minutes in Fox News than we did in 350 pages in this dopey book, begging people to fight back. Clinton did just did more than we ever could, so...

M. O'BRIEN: Does he give a voice to a lot of Democratic anger?

CARVILLE: A ton, but it's not a dopey book.

BEGALA: Sorry.

M. O'BRIEN: I didn't say that! BEGALA: It's a brilliant book.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: It's not ideological, it's anatomical. It's a bag bone. I think what Bill Clinton proved the point of this book in spade. What he said to Chris Wallace was not ideological. It was standing up. I cannot walk down the street without people coming up and saying thank God, Mr. Carville. You thank President Clinton. It's time that somebody stood up to this.

And the great thing I like about the Clintons, both him and her, they're so smart. And, you know, no one has been able to challenge anything that he said. And he asked Chris Wallace, you never asked a Republican that in I think something like 30 or 40 interviews, not one time that they did. So I think he's done a great service for the American public.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Let's look at some numbers. We have some poll numbers here. And I want to ask you guys if the Democrats will once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory here. This president's approval ratings now versus April. OK, he's on the rise. We just had a piece from John Roberts where Howard Dean is spending about a fifth of the money that Ken Mehlman is going to spend on the congressional races. Will Democrats find a way to shoot themselves in the foot this time around, too?

BEGALA: The Dean problem is bigger than the supposed Bush rebound. OK, when Bill Clinton was going into his second midterm election in 1998, he was at 70 percent. Bush is at 42 percent. I mean, he got -- he boosted himself from 32 to 42, which -- now he sucks. Thirty-two is even below sucking. OK, so he's miserable and he's a huge albatross around his party's neck.

The problem for my party is, though, as John Roberts pointed out in this piece, exactly right, is that Governor Dean and the national party have raised tens of millions of dollars, but only have a tiny fraction of that left for the election. Governor Dean has decided that it's better to do, as he said in the piece, do party building and organizing across the country.

M. O'BRIEN: Mistake?

BEGALA: Yes, I think so. But he's the party chairman. But, yes, I think it's a mistake. I'd rather have the money, the way Senator Schumer was talking about in Roberts' piece, to have at the end here for the final push. But we'll see.

M. O'BRIEN: What do you think? Mistake?

CARVILLE: Look, we've got Senator Schumer and Congressman Emanuel at our committees, which I think are just, as we say, really aren't as strong but as garlic in a milkshake. I notice that when we look at the these polls, when you look at the congressional ballot test, there's been no deterioration of Democrat position. But look, are Republicans going to have more money than we do? Yes. Are they going to fight hard to maintain the status quo in this country? Of course. But I think the move for change is pretty strong right there. I really do.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, gentleman. Brilliant or dopey, you take it either way, whichever party you're on. It's "Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future." And it's now in paperback, so it's cheaper. James Carville and Paul Begala, always a pleasure.

BEGALA: Thanks, Miles.

CARVILLE: Thank you, man.

S. O'BRIEN: Happening in America this morning, an army medic accused of going AWOL says he's now ready to face the music. Specialist First Class Agustin Aguayo surrendered to authorities in California. Prosecutors say Aguayo wanted to avoid a second tour of duty in Iraq. He now faces court martial.

World War I soldier Francis Lupo has been laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Lupo was killed in France during a French/American attack on the Germans. His remains were discovered by chance in 2003 by archaeologists who were searching for remains. The Pentagon says the army private from Cincinnati was the longest-missing soldier who was ever recovered and identified.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is signing a bill today that will put a cap on green house emissions in that state. Schwarzenegger says it's just the first step in his state's battle against global warming. The governor also wants California to place more focus on renewable fuels and hydrogen-powered cars.

New York City wants to ban transfats in restaurants. The artery- clogging fats show up in foods like doughnuts and french fries. Yes, that's why they taste so good. The city wants to give restaurants six months to switch to oils, margarine or shortening that have less than a half gram of transfats per serving. Restaurants that don't cooperate would, under the plan, face fines.

Police in Dallas scratching their heads this morning after a thief took the bait -- literally took the bait. The department has this bait car. It uses special equipment to track and convict car thieves. Well, that bait car was stolen by a car thief and the police can't find it yet. Ergo, said program is suspended for now. They need the car back.

And in Chicago, man meets goose, man keeps goose. Man and goose become best friends. The goose's name is Harley. And yes, Harley likes to ride next to Harley or fly next to the Harley. His owner goes for a motorcycle ride, takes the goose with him. You know that goose can clock 43 miles an hour? It's pretty impressive.

Time for a check at the forecast.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: What secret is Mona Lisa hiding behind her famous smile? Some scientists may have found the answer. We're going to talk to one of them, just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

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S. O'BRIEN: Nat King Cole.

Mona Lisa's smile has hidden secrets for 500 years. Now science is peeling back the layers of paint and uncovering some of those secrets.

Angelo Beraldin is with Canada's National Research Council. It's the group behind the discoveries. It's nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us.

I know that scientists spent two years digitally creating this picture of the Mona Lisa. What was -- what were you trying to discover?

ANGELO BERALDIN, NATL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF CANADA: Well, the first step in our study with our team in Canada, France and Italy, was to create a good, archival-quality documentation of the Mona Lisa. Interestingly enough, the Mona Lisa is a well-known painting, but it hasn't been studied in terms of the physical material.

So we decided to get together and basically do a physical of the painting. We went in -- in the case of the Canadian team, we went in with our 3-D laser technology to digitize minute details on the surface of the painting. And on top of that, we measured also the color information.

S. O'BRIEN: I know part of the goal was to sort of figure out how he did it. Because it's really hard to see those minute brush strokes. I mean, his technique, to a large degree, is sort of out of this world when you compare him to other artists. Were you able to figure out how he actually did the brush strokes on the Mona Lisa?

BERALDIN: Yes. And this is a -- I guess it's still a mystery to the complete understanding of the technique he used called sfumato. An interesting feature, with all the data we gathered and different types of data -- infrared, 3-D imaging, x-rays, ultraviolet -- there are no brush strokes visible on the surface, there are no fingerprints, what you see in other paintings. The painting is fairly flat and it was painted in a style that only Leonardo could do. It is a masterpiece.

S. O'BRIEN: So that's a list of what you don't know. What do you know? What were you able to determine by the digital picture of the Mona Lisa?

BERALDIN: One thing we wanted was a good idea of the state of conservation. And from discussion with art history scientists and all the researchers, the imaging researchers on the team, it was determined it's in pretty good shape, considering that the lady is 500 years old. And I think that this is good news. If they keep protecting the Mona Lisa this way, it will last for a very, very long time.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about some other things people have speculated about the Mona Lisa. For example, some people thought maybe she was a woman of ill repute, as they put it, because of her hair. That's something that, 500 years ago, would be symbolic, and you know (INAUDIBLE) lost today. What did you figure out about that?

BERALDIN: Yes. Using the digital images we produced with our colleagues in France and, again, with historians, they were able to piece together like a puzzle. It's true, people thought of that, but they found behind near her head on the top, a bonnet. And it is clear, for example, in the infrared images. And I think that's an interesting discovery that was found using those good images.

S. O'BRIEN: And then she's wearing this sort of gauzy dress, which also tells its own story. What did you learn from that?

BERALDIN: Yes. Again, with the imaging data we gathered, we could that see she's wearing the special dress, and according to historical documents, this dress was worn by a lady that had given birth to a baby or is pregnant. In that sense, it's kind of -- her husband gave her, to Mona Lisa, a gift, it was a painting. But Leonardo decided to keep it it was so beautiful.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, some gift there. It's quite a remarkable gift. And you were able, because you knew when she was pregnant, you could date the painting better, couldn't you?

BERALDIN: It's a way to date the painting. But apparently Leonardo painted it during 1803, 1806. But he always did retouches on the surface, adding things. And I think we can only admire what he did now and we'll be continuing the work on studying the Mona Lisa. This is just the start.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it's amazing. I mean, the information really only makes you admire it all the more. Angelo Beraldin is with Canada's National Research Council. Thanks for joining us with the information. Appreciate it.

BERALDIN: It's a pleasure.

M. O'BRIEN: Fascinating.

S. O'BRIEN: Isn't it great?

M. O'BRIEN: It will be interesting as technology improves.

S. O'BRIEN: Two years. That's two years of this painstaking data. You cannot see the brush strokes on this painting.

M. O'BRIEN: How did he do that? Was it like an airbrush kind of thing? Is that what it was? No, no, they used a brush. Yes, I'm showing my art class here.

Andy Serwer is here to tell us what's coming up in business. ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" COLUMNIST: Miles, we're going to be talking about the curse of Madden Football, the video game. Plus, the second highest-rated show ever on cable television aired this week. Can you guess what it is? We'll let you figure it out.

M. O'BRIEN: OK, we'll guess on that one.

Also ahead on the program, something new for college kids to worry about. Will they soon have to take a standardized test like the SATs all throughout college? We'll take a look at that, coming up.

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(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

S. O'BRIEN: We got a look at the day's top stories coming up next, including that controversial intel report on the war on terror. Just exactly what is in the declassified portion? We've got all the details ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.

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