Skip to main content
Search
Services


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

President Bush Meets With Senate Democratic Leaders; Andre Agassi's Future Plans; British Spy Chief Details Terror Dangers; Four U.S. Service Members Died in Iraq Yesterday

Aired November 10, 2006 - 15:00   ET

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


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: After 231 years, a museum. And, if you were with us last hour, you saw President Bush join 15,000 others to dedicate the National Marine Corps Museum near Quantico, Virginia.
We are going to get more now on the festivities and a big Marine birthday from our CNN correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good afternoon, T.J.

It's a big day for the Marines, with the dedication of this new national museum to the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia -- and, as you mentioned, the commander in chief, President Bush, on hand to mark the festivities.

One of the things he did at this event was recognize one of America's heroes on this Veterans Day, a young Marine who gave his life in Iraq in April of 2004. Corporal Jason Dunham of the Marine Corps displayed great valor, and will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor awarded U.S. military personnel, for his acts on that day when he led a unit of Marines to a site of an attack.

He was, himself, attacked by an insurgent, engaged in hand-to- hand combat, as the insurgent grabbed him by the neck, shouted to his fellow Marines, "Watch his hand."

They saw a grenade roll out. He jumped on top of it, using his self -- himself and his helmet to protect the other Marines from the blast. He died from his wounds about eight days later, at the age of 22 years old.

And, today, President Bush recognized him in particular on this Veterans Day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Despite surviving the initial blast and being given the best of medical care, Corporal Dunham ultimately succumbed to his wounds.

And, by giving his own life, Corporal Dunham saved the lives of two of his men, and showed the world what it means to be a Marine.

Corporal Dunham's mom and dad are with us today, on what would have been this brave young man's 25th birthday. We remember that the Marine that so freely gave his life was your beloved son.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: The Marines are quite excited about the dedication of this museum in Quantico -- the building evocative of the Marine Corps Memorial, the flag-raising at Iwo Jima.

Inside the museum, people will be able to see interactive displays, in which they will find out what it's like to go through boot camp, land in a helicopter in Vietnam, or conduct an amphibious landing.

And, as President Bush said today, it can't make you a Marine. Only a Marine drill instructor can do that. But it gives you a good history of the history of the Marine Corps, which is the military's oldest service, tracing its roots back to 1775, during the Revolutionary War era -- T.J.

HOLMES: And, Jamie, even though this was a, what, some $90 million facility, they're not quite done yet. They still need more money, and want to expand this a bit, don't they?

MCINTYRE: That's right. It is a work in progress. But it is opening now. And, as I said, it's -- it's quite an impressive museum. And the Marine Corps really hasn't had anything like this up until this point.

HOLMES: All right, our Jamie McIntyre reporting -- thank you so much, Jamie.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there's nothing like a rout at the polls to get political adversaries to sit down and make nice. And, so, President Bush met today with Democratic leaders of the Senate, whom he will likely see a lot more of in the next two years than he did in the past six.

We will talk with Kathleen Koch right now about that very get- together.

Hey, Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.

Yes, it was the second day in a row that President Bush has had to reach out to the Democrats, who will soon be controlling Congress, as you pointed out, this time on the Senate side -- he and Vice President Cheney meeting in the Oval Office for about 50 minutes with incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his number two, Dick Durbin.

Mr. Bush said that the four men had a -- quote -- "really good discussion," and that they would work closely -- as closely as possible to solve common problems.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: They ran good campaigns. And they talked about issues that -- that people care about. And they won.

And my attitude about this is that there is a great opportunity for us to show the country that Republicans and Democrats are equally as patriotic and equally as concerned about the future, and that we can work together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: President Bush, it was announced by Press Secretary Tony Snow in today's White House briefing, will be meeting, as well as his top security team, on Monday with the Iraq Study Group. And that is the bipartisan commission tasked with coming up with a new strategy in Iraq.

Senator Harry Reid says that he thinks it would be a good idea if the leaders of that commission join in a bipartisan summit on Iraq that he proposed today to President Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: He didn't reject it. He said he thought it was interesting, and he wanted more openness on Iraq. And we talked about that at some length. No, he didn't reject it.

I think it's -- I think it's -- I really think it's a good idea that he would meet with the bipartisan congressional leadership. And, if he wants to have Hamilton and he wants to have Secretary Baker there, that's fine with us.

But we need -- in this war in Iraq, where we're losing soldiers every day, the American people need to know that there is something going on back here with the leaders of this country, that we're talking about it, rather than just talking past each other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: And, on a lighter note, Senator Durbin thanked both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for what he called their conciliatory gesture of wearing blue ties. He says it's a symbolic indication that they're off to a good start -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So, what do you think we can expect out of the Monday Iraq Study Group meeting?

KOCH: Well, certainly, the president and his -- his top security team are going to be talking with the members of the Iraq Study Group about what their ideas are, about some of the things they're -- that they're going to be looking at.

And it's important to point out that that -- that group is now going to be minus one member. And that is the president's nominee for defense secretary, Robert Gates. He has resigned his position on the Iraq Study Group, to be replaced by former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger.

PHILLIPS: It will be interesting to follow up.

KOCH: That's right.

PHILLIPS: Kathleen Koch, from the White House, thanks.

KOCH: You bet.

HOLMES: He's not a politician, and wasn't running for anything on Tuesday, but U.N. Ambassador John Bolton may well be a casualty of the midterm elections.

Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee, who was running Tuesday, and who lost, says he will join Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee to block Bolton's nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R), RHODE ISLAND: I'm going to oppose him. And the American people have spoken.

And if -- I had a lot of calls from my colleagues asking me what I'm going to do on it. And the American people have spoken that -- out against the president's agenda on a number of fronts. And, presumably, one of those is on foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, you may know Bolton is serving under what is called a recess appointment, and his nomination never got a full Senate vote. His interim status expires with the 109th Congress. And that is in January.

So, Democrats want Bolton gone. Let's talk about how he rates with fellow U.N. diplomats.

CNN senior U.N. producer Liz Neisloss joins us now.

And, well, politicians, U.S. politicians, not making any kind of a secret what they think of him.

So, what do the diplomats, his peers, there actually think about him?

LIZ NEISLOSS, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS PRODUCER: Well, you won't, T.J., get a diplomat to go in front of a camera and speak as plainly as you might members of Congress.

But what they say about behind closed doors with John Bolton may sound quite familiar to a lot of Americans. John Bolton is opinionated. He is brash. He is not often a consensus-builder. And, yet, diplomats find him highly intelligent. They say he has an encyclopedic knowledge of the issues. And he has a good sense of humor, which, actually, in diplomacy, can serve very well. But he is very fond in going in front of the cameras, as you see him here, giving a very blunt, straight opinion to the press. And, of course, the journalists love that. But that's not the sort of thing you are used to hearing from diplomats -- so, a lot of eyes here watching to see whether the U.S. will change horses at this point, so to speak, and send someone here who is a bit more of a consensus- builder.

HOLMES: Well, he might have to be gone by January. Does he have some things on his plate that he is dealing with there at the U.N. that he certainly needs to maybe get taken care of, just in case he isn't allowed to continue that work?

NEISLOSS: Yes, not exactly tiny issues. They are the nuclear issue in Iran...

HOLMES: That's a good one.

(LAUGHTER)

NEISLOSS: ... the nuclear issue in North Korea, which is still a simmering issue. He's dealt with being many crises, the crisis in Darfur, Sudan -- so, big issues on the plate.

And some diplomats have said to me, when John Bolton is on your side, things go very well. This is a guy that knows how to knuckle down.

But there have been sparks behind closed doors, when he is operating perhaps on his own, without clear instructions from Washington. And as many people know, that's how all diplomats usually operate. They have pretty firm instructions from their government. So, when Washington gives him his marching orders, things can go very well. But when John Bolton goes out on his own, it's a bit unpredictable.

(LAUGHTER)

NEISLOSS: T.J.

HOLMES: A bit unpredictable.

All right. Well, Liz Neisloss, from the U.N. for us, thank you so much.

PHILLIPS: Well, chilling words today from Britain's spy chief, and evidence that terrorism is definitely a growth industry in the U.K.

Our Nic Robertson in London lays out the numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller doesn't speak very often publicly, and she has done now, and it's clear that she wants to warn the British public about the dangers of the potential for terrorism in Britain right now.

She said there are about 1,600 people that they know about, that they actually know about -- she said there may be many more -- currently involved in planning or -- or plotting acts of terrorism here and abroad. They fall into about 200 different groups or networks.

She said there are some 30 -- almost 30 current plots that the intelligence services here are tracking at this time. She said many of those plots are linked with al Qaeda in Pakistan.

She said that they're trying -- they would like to recruit people into the intelligence agencies. But they're very concerned at this time about the growth of terrorism.

There are 100,000 people, she said, in Britain who are sympathetic to the attacks here last year that killed 52 people. So they're very concerned about the speed of the growth. She said that this problem could go on for a generation.

The subtext here, analysts are telling us, is that the situation that MI5 faces here, with only 2,500 staff, is out of control -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: How does MI5 coordinate with the United States? And -- and what does this mean for us here in America?

ROBERTSON: Well, certainly, there is a sharing of information. That's been going on for a long time.

And, certainly, when I was talking a little earlier today with somebody who used to head a very important section of the CIA, he told me he had the utmost respect for MI5 and what they do.

But it is a concern. When -- he said, when you look at what's happening in Britain, when you look at the statement from the head of MI5, that people in the United States should also be concerned.

I was in New York last weekend attending a conference where the FBI and the homeland security were trying to recruit Pakistanis, from both sort of leaders of the community and young students, into the intelligence services, because they want to understand the problems that exist in these communities -- people within the communities, people in security services very worried about the situation here in the United States, and that's what the head of the MI5 was saying here: Our way to deal with this problem is to understand it.

It's growing so fast that, she said, you have to prioritize, that you can't -- we just don't have the staff to -- to watch everyone all the time, is the bottom line -- Kyra.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: And, just this week, Britain sentenced an al Qaeda operative to life in prison. Dhiren Barot, the former airline ticket clerk and Muslim convert, planned to use limousines to blow up landmark London hotels. The limos were to be packed with gas tanks, napalm, and nails. Barot also faces U.S. charges in a plot to blow up the New York Stock Exchange.

HOLMES: On tape and under scrutiny -- the actions of Los Angeles Police Officers, two of them. Did they go too far with this arrest? You be the judge.

That's ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: We have seen this before: police officers using force to make an arrest, a bystander using a video camera to make sure the whole world knows about it.

This video, shot three months ago in Los Angeles, surfaced at the defendant's preliminary hearing. Also, it turned up, where else, YouTube. The two officers involved are being investigated by the FBI, as well as their own department.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE CHIEF: There is no denying that the -- the video is disturbing. But as to whether the actions of the officer were appropriate, in light of what he was experiencing, the totality of circumstances, that's what the investigation will hopefully determine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: An attorney for the suspect, William Cardenas, says he plans to sue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. KWAKU DUREN, ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM CARDENAS: He was brutally assaulted. And his human rights -- not just his civil rights -- his human rights were being violated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, L.A. police say Cardenas, whom they call a gang member, was arrested for failing to appear in court on a stolen property charge.

PHILLIPS: Forget about prison gray. There is a jail in Missouri that's pink, pink, pink.

County Sheriff Mike Rackley decided on the unique color scheme, after inmates set a fire. He says, if his prisoners are going to act like children, well, guess what? They can live in childish surroundings.

Rackley also says that pink is a soothing color, especially with the blue teddy bear accents that he is adding. He's describing the remodeled jail as a day care center for adults who simply can't control their behavior.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: That's funny.

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: Yes.

PHILLIPS: That is funny.

HOLMES: Pink, soothing. I had no idea.

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: Well, this next one here is a bit strange, kind of a spooky story here.

This morning, the Marshall University football team had to evacuate a plane before takeoff, because smoke was reported in an engine. OK, that's not good news, but, still, this is why this is a bit eerie. Almost exactly 36 years ago, most of the Marshall team perished in a plane crash that claimed the lives of 75 people.

That Marshall squad was returning from a game against East Carolina, the same school Marshall plays tomorrow. Among the victims of the 1970 crash was Marshall official Gene Morehouse, whose son was on the plane today to cover the game for television.

One final strange twist here for you -- a movie -- you may have seen these trailers -- about the Marshall story is set for release next month.

PHILLIPS: Incoming Virginia Senator Jim Webb says that he is sure he can work with Republicans. After all, he used to be one.

Webb's victory over incumbent Republican George Allen became a done deal when Allen conceded about this time yesterday. Webb is a former Republican who served as Navy secretary under President Reagan. He split with the GOP mainly over the invasion of Iraq. And he tells Larry King that he is ready to get to work in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA SENATOR-ELECT: I spent four years as a committee counsel in the Congress, another five in the Pentagon, one as a Marine, four working.

And I know how to work in the American political process. I have got a lot of friends on both sides of the aisle. I'm really looking forward to getting in there and -- and trying to address the issues that are facing our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: As I'm sure you know by now, Webb's victory means Democrats will have control of both houses in Congress. Stay with CNN, the best political team on television. You sure did on Election Day. Want to thank you for that. More viewers came to CNN than any other cable news channel on Election Day. You also made CNN.com the number-one news site on Election Day. So, as the countdown to 2008 begins, stay with CNN and the best political team on television.

HOLMES: Straight ahead, entertainment news with A.J. Hammer of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT."

A.J., what is up?

A.J. HAMMER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, T.J.

Well, the paparazzi irritated Denise Richards. What did she do? She struck back. Also, Tony Bennett celebrates his 80th birthday with a whole lot of help. It's just ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: One of the stars of the movie "Wild Things" gets a little crazy this week, just one of the entertainment headlines this afternoon.

"SHOWBIZ TONIGHT's" A.J. Hammer joins us from New York.

Good to see you again, A.J. I haven't seen you for a little while.

HAMMER: Good to see you.

I know, Kyra. I have things to do, places to go.

(LAUGHTER)

HAMMER: But the paparazzi is not following me around.

In the case of Denise Richards, something a little different. She says the paparazzi are exactly who is to blame for her throwing a laptop from a balcony.

A spokeswoman for the 35-year-old actress says a run-in with the aggressive paparazzi is exactly what caused the incident. The laptop computer hit two elderly women, fortunately, only causing them minor injuries.

This incident took place in Vancouver, British Columbia. That is where Richards was filming a scene for the movie "Blonde and Blonder." Well, a photographer was apparently trying to take her picture, when she allegedly confronted him.

Richards' publicist released this statement: "Based on the actions of the paparazzi, they are lucky their laptops were the only things that were thrown off the ledge."

Moving on now to another person who has certainly had to deal with the spotlight after being accused of throwing an object at someone, Russell Crowe -- the Oscar winner has a new project that he is touting, but he is still talking about his treatment by the press after he threw a phone in a New York City hotel. He says the media likes to make mountains out of molehills.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSSELL CROWE, ACTOR: I don't think that there is such a thing as a fair shake in the media, the way it exists now. I think -- I think it's rotten to the core. I think it's full of a whole bunch of people who write late into the night while drinking themselves into oblivion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: I'm certainly he was speaking of the tabloid media there.

Crowe's latest film, "A Good Year," is going to be opening in theaters tomorrow. And he also told me that the phone-throwing incident amounted to no more than a small fine.

Correction: It's in theaters today.

And the legendary Tony Bennett sure knows how to celebrate the big 8-0. The singer held a big birthday bash commemorating his 80th in Hollywood last night. No big surprise Tinseltown's finest showed up for the bash. It was at Kodak Theatre.

Bruce Willis and George Clooney were among those on hand. And both talked to us about their favorite Bennett song, while Marc Anthony and Stevie Wonder sang their favorite tunes from Bennett.

Bennett was also elated. And he talked to us about the wonderful artists that he has worked with throughout the years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BENNETT, MUSICIAN: From Barbra Streisand, to Stevie Wonder, to Elvis Costello, to, you know, Bono, Sting, to have all these wonderful artists do duets with me, it's just fantastic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: The show lasted around two hours. It also featured appearances by Billy Crystal, Quincy Jones and Paul Newman.

Now, Kyra, I have had a good fortune of spending a fair amount of time with Mr. Bennett over the past 10 years. And anybody who has ever met him will tell you, he's just a cool cat.

(LAUGHTER)

HAMMER: And I know that you have interviewed him several times.

In fact -- correct me if I'm wrong -- didn't he bite your hand once?

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: He did.

HOLMES: Whoa.

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: Oh. He didn't bite my hand.

HAMMER: Oh, he didn't bite.

PHILLIPS: He kissed my hand. Yes. Made me very nervous.

HAMMER: Well, my notes must be wrong here.

(LAUGHTER)

HAMMER: But truly just a charming guy.

And it's amazing that he is a celebrity of his stature, yet, he so grounded and down to earth.

PHILLIPS: You know, his C.D. with K.D. Lang, fantastic C.D., one of my favorites. Do you have it?

HAMMER: I do have it.

PHILLIPS: OK.

HAMMER: I have several.

You know, he -- it's interesting, because that type of music, not necessarily what I would be drawn to. But I have always said that Tony Bennett's music transcends tastes and styles, so...

PHILLIPS: He has just got a groovy thing about him.

He's just...

HAMMER: Yes, he does.

PHILLIPS: ... a cool cat. You put it perfectly.

HAMMER: Well, here is what is coming up tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," Kyra.

We are going to be talking about marrying too young, asking the question: Does Britney Spears' divorce really show that maybe not such a good idea to get married before the age of 25? We will get into it on a special report on TV's most provocative entertainment news show, which is "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN Headline Prime.

Let me get my notes straight here. (LAUGHTER)

HAMMER: Tony Bennett did not bite your hand. He kissed your hand.

PHILLIPS: He kissed my hand, exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: Look forward to see you soon.

HAMMER: Have a good weekend.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, A.J.

HAMMER: You got it.

PHILLIPS: All right.

HOLMES: Either way, I don't know if it was appropriate. So...

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: Susan Lisovicz...

PHILLIPS: Come on. It's Tony Bennett.

HOLMES: Susan Lisovicz, any hand-biting, kissing, anything going on there?

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: She likes Tony Bennett.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, I love Tony Bennett.

PHILLIPS: Yes.

LISOVICZ: I -- he said hello to me once when he was walking down the streets of New York. And that was a thrill for me. And, yes, he is one cool cat.

(LAUGHTER)

LISOVICZ: He looks like he really enjoys life, T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Well, we're talking Wal-Mart here. They're taking sides in a dispute over whether to put Christmas back in the holidays this year. Do tell.

LISOVICZ: Oh, T.J., last year, religious groups boycotted the world's biggest retailer for wishing its customers happy holidays.

Wal-Mart says it's reversing course this year; it learned its lesson. And it will have an in-your-face Christmas theme. As part of the plan, the section of the store carrying ornaments and other decorating needs will be called The Christmas Shop, instead of The Holiday Shop. Store signs will count down the days until Christmas. And Christmas carols will be piped in throughout the season .

And, starting next year, Wal-Mart will be running this Christmas- themed TV commercial. In fact, a spokesman says: We will be using that line I think early and often, "Merry Christmas" -- T.J.

HOLMES: It seems strange that we're putting Christmas back into Christmas. But is anybody else catching onto this particular Christmas spirit, any other retailers going this route?

LISOVICZ: Oh, yes.

HOLMES: Yes?

LISOVICZ: Yes, Macy's, one of the biggest -- in fact, the country's biggest department store chain -- will have "Merry Christmas" signs in all of its department, and all of Macy's window displays will have Christmas themes.

At the chain's flagship store in Herald Square, right here in New York, the theme will be, "Oh, Christmas Tree."

Here on Wall Street, the theme is Veterans Day -- stocks not moving much on this final trading day of the week. But oil prices dropped more than $1.5, back below $60 a barrel.

Right now, the Dow is dropping, too. It's down nine points -- 12093, the level -- the NASDAQ composite up about nine points, or a third-of-a-percent.

That is the latest from Wall Street. I will be back in about a half-an-hour with a wrap-up of the trading day and week.

But, first, in the afternoon "Life After Work" series, Andre Agassi. He went from being an eighth grade dropout to an eight-time Grand Slam winner. Agassi's legendary tennis career may be over now, but shows -- now he plans to show the same determination in retirement.

CNN's Larry Smith has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARRY SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just a few months ago, at the U.S. Open, Andre Agassi took his last signature bow and said an emotional farewell to professional tennis.

So, what does retirement look like at age 36?

ANDRE AGASSI, TENNIS LEGEND: I'm imagining for a long time any time somebody asks me to do something, I'm going to go, sure, why not?

(LAUGHTER)

SMITH: Agassi's wife, Steffi Graf, another tennis legend, and their two children are probably glad to have dad around.

He's also now more involved with raising funds for the foundation he created to help children, and his real estate development company is expanding, joining a partnership to build luxury hotels and vacation homes.

AGASSI: Life after tennis is just going to allow me a bigger platform to -- to sort of work your way into the fabric of people's lives, and -- and affect it on a much sort of bigger, more, you know, real-life way.

We started in Tamarack, Idaho, which is this all-season destination resort. It's a place that is there for families that can enjoy together. It makes me take focusing and caring about something and being a part of it, you know? We're not just put our money behind this, we've put our time, we've put our heart, we've poured ourselves into it.

SMITH: Larry Smith, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Anbar Province of western Iraq, killing field for another U.S. service member. One of four to die in action yesterday. A marine was killed there in what the military calls enemy action. Two army M.P.s died. A third was wounded by a roadside bomb near Baghdad. Another soldier was killed when his truck was hit by a roadside bomb near Haditha.

Well everybody's got an opinion in this week's elections in America, and that includes the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. Abu Hamza al-Muhajir posted an Internet audio message today applauding the Democratic victory as a trigger for chance in Iraq. He also had a few choice names for President Bush and outgoing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. CNN has not confirmed the clip is authentic.

PHILLIPS: They are America's newest veterans. Men and women who have fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, some making the ultimate sacrifice. We know them mainly by name, age, rank and hometown. On very rare occasions, we get a more intimate look. CNN's Arwa Damon has one soldier's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm specialist Will Mock from Harper, Kansas, with 22 Infantry here in Falluja. Mission accomplished.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was during the fight for Falluja in November 2004 when we got to know the soldier everyone simply called Mock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just like every other man, distressed, a little scared. But, you know, this is what we do. And I thought about telling my family about it, but no way. I didn't want them to worry.

How would I describe Falluja to someone else that had never been there? First I'd say, "You might want to rethink about going." And say, "Make your peace with God, because you might not come back."

It's a living hell. It was a living hell. Some moments lasted a lifetime.

DAMON: No pretenses with Mock, not about the mission, not about his love for being a soldier, despite all the emotional turmoil of his experiences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's not only me that's changed. I think everybody that was there, enemy, friendly, everybody walked away changed. The ways that we changed, you have a different outlook on life. You don't take nearly as much for granted. And when you tell your girlfriend or your mother, father, "Hey, I love you," you really mean it.

This right here is my family.

DAMON: He was afraid then of going back home to Kansas, worried he had changed too much. His motto, tattooed on both arms, "Strength and honor."

A tough soldier, apologizing to us for being rough around the edges. He wasn't. In many ways, still the gentleman his family brought him up to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no reason in me saying, "Hey, Ma," you know, "I got shot at a lot today." Or, "Hey, Ma, we had to fight the enemy and, you know, some people didn't make it out, friendly and foe." It's just something better left untalked about.

DAMON: His first one-year tour of duty finally ended in February 2005.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A big relief. Overwhelming joy. You've got a deep feeling of our part is completed here.

Nobody wants to die out here. Even though the soldiers would for our country, any of them would, that's not a question.

I heard my grandfather once say, "Somebody's got to do it." I goes I'm that somebody.

Every time we lose soldiers and we have our ceremonies here for the fallen comrades, and they play the "Taps" for those men, that's probably the moments that will stay in my mind more than ever. From now until the day that I die, every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, when I go to the local cemetery in Hartford, Kansas, and they play "Taps," I'm sure I'll -- it will hit me pretty hard then.

DAMON: This Veterans Day they will be playing taps for him. Mock re-deployed to Iraq in August of 2006. The last time we saw him was on a rooftop in eastern Baghdad. Twenty days later, on October 22nd, Mock was killed by a roadside bomb. One of 11 killed in Iraq that weekend. At his memorial, his commanders and his men echoed his motto, "Strength and honor, Sergeant Mock."

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Windy and rainy on the coast, chilly and snowy in the mountains. The two faces of Washington state today, all thanks to the same storm. The snow has been falling since before daybreak in the Cascade passes. Snow advisories in effect with six to 14 inches snow expected. And the rain coming down, and rivers already overflowing is not expected to cause more flooding. It just makes a muddy cleanup that much harder.

PHILLIPS: Well, let's check in Rob Marciano. He's been following it all, the storms, the snow.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: All right, do you want to sing this or do you want me to sing this?

HOLMES: You please. Take it away. I've been waiting on that.

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: When the moon hits your eye like a big piece of pie.

HOLMES: That's amore.

PHILLIPS: Thank you. But when TomKat hits town, well, the media is around and that is a big bummer. Next in the NEWSROOM, the country that invented the paparazzi aims every camera at a castle near Rome.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Tomorrow is, of course, Veterans Day and, today, the U.S. Marine Corps celebrates its 231st anniversary. A lot of missions have come and gone since 1775, Iraq being the latest.

CNN's Alex Quade caught up Marine Private First Class Casey Robinson in Al-Asad, Iraq, on his second tour of duty. A veteran of the deadly battle of Nasiriyah and all too familiar with Ambush Alley. The young Marine shared his knowledge with first-timers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX QUADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 23-year-old Private First Class Casey Robinson takes pride in showing new Marines in Al- Asad how it's done. This is his second tour in Iraq. Last time, he fought in Nasiriyah, in Ambush Alley. Eighteen Marines, Robinson's buddies, died in one day.

PFC. CASEY ROBINSON, U.S. MARINE CORPS: And there was enemy mortars and artillery coming in. Me and a couple of guys kept making runs, trying to grab the wounded back to the buildings. Everybody was scared. It was pretty messed up. There was a lot of fire coming in.

QUADE: His actions earned him a Bronze Star, awarded during a field ceremony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Private First Class Casey R. Robinson, United States Marine Corps, for heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy as automatic riflemen.

QUADE: But it's not something he likes to talk about.

ROBINSON: Try not to let my family know about like how bad it was. I kind of downplay it to them. This time I kind of sold it that I'm a react type, I'm not actually out there looking for the enemy, I'm just kind of security.

QUADE: As Robinson fires, he says it's a different type of war now.

ROBINSON: It's not like there is the enemy, go get them. It's more like an IED goes off and you react to it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here comes a rocket.

QUADE: So when he's not out on missions, he's training. And has advice for new Marines coming over.

ROBINSON: The biggest thing is you don't want to get shot.

QUADE: That, and ...

ROBINSON: Bring way more socks than they say to pack.

QUADE: Alex Quade, CNN, Al-Asad, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: There was a point in there you heard Private Robinson mention socks, but there are many other items that Marines and soldiers could put to good use. And if you want to donate, visit www.opgratitude.com.

PHILLIPS: Well, tomorrow, Veterans Day, marks the 88th anniversary of the end of World War I. Millions of Americans went to fight the war to end all wars -- tens of thousands didn't come back. Today, the Veterans Administration says fewer than 25 World War I vets are still around and a little earlier, we spoke with one of them -- 105-year-old, yes, 105-year-old Lloyd Brown was a teenage seaman aboard the USS New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LLOYD BROWN, WWI VETERAN: It's a very popular thing to do when we went to the war in 1918 and I just went along with the gang. An awful lot of young people were enlisting and I went along with them. So ...

PHILLIPS: I understand you were very popular with the ladies as well.

BROWN: No. I don't know how popular I was, but I was looking for the ladies, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: He was looking for the ladies and believe me, they loved him. Living history right here on CNN. Memories of World War I from one of the wars last surviving vets.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: I know T.J. has been holding his breath waiting for the nuptials of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Well, you might get a chance to exhale now.

HOLMES: Finally, because tongues are a wagging. A small Italian town that just happens to be equipped with a castle, lake and a trough for the media. Seriously, there is a trough -- no, it's not, but roving packs of reporters are already on the scene, including CNN Alessio Vinci.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Could this be the castle where a top gun will soon become top groom? The word is spreading fast in Bracciano, a medieval town outside of Rome overlooking a volcanic lake. Reports in a Roman newspaper set off a rush of journalists and the castle, usually open to the public, has been closed until the end of the month.

No filming or question allowed as to why, says this woman, at the ticket office. In town, locals notice unusual police activity outside the mayor's office and the aristocratic owners of the castle asked that the piazza below the main entrance be closed off to traffic on November 18th, the date Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are believed to have said to tie the knot.

The mayor insists it's not the first time the piazza has been cleared of traffic. Then she acknowledges Tom Cruise is every Italian woman's dream, herself included, so the town cannot be caught off- guard.

So many women lust after an international star like Tom Cruise, she says and it's also an opportunity for the world to get to know our town.

But this could all be a publicity stunt. True or not, locals are bracing for what could be the largest party they've ever seen. I'll be staking out the castle from the night before, she says. Her mother even gave her permission to skip school for a day.

The rumor mill suggests the wedding will be a three-day affair. A rehearsal dinner on the 16th, a Catholic wedding the next day and a final ceremony on November 19th. But, wait, a Catholic wedding? Not so says the local priest. Although Katie Holmes is Catholic, Tom Cruise is divorced and of course, a prominent member of Scientology, a sect the Vatican disapprove of, but which many speculate will play a main role in the wedding.

VINCI (on-camera): But, despite all the buzz the owners of the castle say they know nothing about the wedding but even if they did, they wouldn't be able to say much anyway. Local media here report that anyone involved with the preparations of the wedding have to swear secrecy or pay a penalty up to $1 million.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Bracciano, near Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: I got married in the backyard. They're getting married in a castle. Where did you get married?

HOLMES: The backyard? It was a little nicer than the backyard. Maybe it was a nice yard. I'm sorry. I'm not knocking it.

PHILLIPS: All right. Gone, but hardly forgotten.

HOLMES: Yes, and this 88-foot, nine-ton tree we're talking about is being hoisted into position in mid-town Manhattan. Christmas music, were you ready for this.

PHILLIPS: I was ready for this.

HOLMES: A backyard actually in Connecticut. Similar to the one you got married in.

PHILLIPS: Perfect timing. I didn't have a spruce, though, to decorate. Thank you.

HOLMES:; Well, let's just show you this year's tree was taken from Rob Kinnaird's property yesterday, but he is clearly what? Kyra, he's not pining around about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB KINNAIRD, CHRISTMAS TREE DONOR: The loss of the tree in our yard is offset by the fact that I'm some guy in Richfield, Connecticut with a big tree in his yard who now finds himself ambassador for the holiday kickoff for Rockefeller Center? I mean, how ridiculous is that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: I don't know. Instant star right there. HOLMES: A star tree.

(MARKET REPORT)

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

Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines