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Senate Democratic Leaders Speak After Meeting; Gunmen Kidnap up to 150 From Iraqi Education Ministry; Casualty Recount

Aired November 14, 2006 - 11:00   ET


U.S. SENATOR HARRY REID (D-NV), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER, 110TH CONGRESS: This is the Democratic Senate leadership team for the 110th Congress. We're all very excited. We just left a tremendous meeting. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for me, and I think each one of us.
We know that America's spoken, and we must do everything we can to move the country forward. We're going to do it in a spirit of bipartisanship. We're certainly going to do it openly and obtain results.

We want to make sure that we're safe here at home and abroad. We want to fight for middle-class America. The middle class is being squeezed -- squeezed. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer.

We must do something about health care. We must do something about education. We must do something to relieve the tax burden on the middle class.

And for me personally, I've got to continue to fight for the small, sparsely populated state of Nevada. We have big problems there, and I'm going to work to resolve those with my colleagues.

It's difficult for me to express to those assembled in such a public gathering my friendship, my affection for these three individuals who are going to serve as part of this leadership team.

Senator Durbin and I have been friends for 24 years, and I ask him to address this august gathering for a time until we take some questions. Then I'm going to ask Senator Schumer to say a few words -- and the new secretary, Senator Patty Murray.

Senator Schumer has been with us for two years in leadership capacity but (INAUDIBLE) a little different now. He's going to remain as chair of the Campaign Committee and he's also going to be the vice chair of the conference.

Senator Durbin?

U.S. SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), ASSISTANT MAJORITY LEADER, 110TH CONGRESS: My thanks to the majority leader, Harry Reid, for bringing us together.

Two years ago, we had an opportunity for new leadership on the Democratic side of the Senate, and we chose as our leader Harry Reid. We could not have made a better choice to unify this caucus, make certain that we came to the floor every day with a purpose and, most importantly, that we took a message to the American people: a message of hope.

On November 7th of this year, our message of hope was chosen as the message for tomorrow.

Today we met in the Old Senate Chamber, part of this Capitol Building that is just loaded with history, and we stood together -- our new majority -- and dedicated ourselves to the agenda that the American people spoke to on November the 7th.

We have an awesome responsibility because we are blessed to serve as senators in this great nation. We know that a 51-vote majority is as thin as they come, and that if we're going to be successful, we need to work together on a bipartisan basis.

We not only want to move the right agenda for America, we want to do it in the right way. For those of us who've been in Congress for some period of time, we have watched the steady deterioration of comity and cooperation in the United States. Now the Democrats have a chance, even a challenge, to restore the dignity of this great American institution.

As important, if not more important, we need to remember why the American people have asked us to lead. They want a strong and safe America. But they want an America, as well, of opportunity -- an opportunity for a new generation of leadership in the 21st century. That means to empower families and individuals to reach their maximum potential.

That's our challenge, that's our responsibility. We look forward to it with enthusiasm.


And first, I want to thank my colleagues. I want to thank my colleagues for electing me now vice chairman of the caucus, number three in the leadership. I want to thank Harry Reid in particular for the great job that he has done for us.

"Majority Leader Harry Reid" sounds really good to us. And over the next two years, it's going to sound great to the American people, when Harry and his team show what we can do.

Let me just say, our challenge has really just begun. The American public has rejected the policies of George Bush and they're waiting to see what we can do. And we are going to show them that we will never lose sight of them, in terms of making their lives better and creating a better America for the average person and for all Americans.

So I am so gratified to be part of this leadership team. I want to thank Harry, Dick, Patty, Byron for their support. And I just want to promise my colleagues, all New Yorkers and all Americans I will continue to work as hard as I can to make this country even a better place.

U.S. SENATOR PATTY MURRAY (D-WA), SECRETARY OF THE CONFERENCE, 110TH CONGRESS: Well, it is a tremendous honor for me to join this unbelievable fighting majority team.

To my leader, Senator Harry Reid, who we know in our caucus as someone who is honest and fair and just and who is committed to making sure the United States Senate works not only for those of us who are in this building but for all of America, it's truly an honor to call you majority leader.

To my friend Dick Durbin, who keeps us focused on who we represent here and make sure that we all continue to be a strong voice for American families, it's an honor to serve with you.

And to the vibrant and dynamic Chuck Schumer, who always makes sure that none of us lose the energy, and if we lose it, he shares his with us, it is really going to be great to be working with you.

I hope to bring to this leadership team a reminder of who we represent: the young people across the country who are struggling to go to college and can't get student loans or Pell Grants, the families who are struggling because the prescription Medicare Part D isn't working for them today, for the families who can't get access to health care and are hurting, to the many families who are struggling with one or more jobs to try and put food on the table, and to the many, many young men and women who have served us in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the globe and in previous wars to make sure that they get the services that we have promised them as a country.

I want to make sure that as we go into the majority and lead this country, we lead it, not only for this end of the world, but for the entire country and make sure that our country is once again strong, and our country, once again, says to American families, "We are at your back."

That's the country I was raised in, that's the country I look forward to building once again.

Thank you.

The caucus approved the appointment of Byron Dorgan as chair of the Policy Committee.

He's done a remarkable job with his hearings that we could find no place else to do them because the majority at the time would not hold hearings on contracting abuses in Iraq, the status of the war. He did a wonderful job and he'll continue to do that.

Senator Dorgan, will you say a few words?

U.S. SENATOR BYRON L. DORGAN (D-ND), CHAIRMAN OF POLICY COMMITTEE, 110TH CONGRESS: Well, Harry, thank you. I'm pleased to be part of a dynamic leadership team.

Many of us served with the late Claude Pepper, and he used to say that the Constitution of this country provides what is called the miracle of giving the American people the chance to grab the steering wheel every even-numbered year in deciding which direction to nudge America.

This year it was about change. And change is about new ideas, good ideas that'll move this country forward.

I'm just pleased to be part of this leadership team and a new caucus that'll represent that change for America.

REID: Take a few questions?

QUESTION: Senator Reid, I just want to ask you about Senator Schumer's new role. Obviously, he helped usher in this Democratic majority. Is this a tipping of the hat to him to say "Thank you"?

REID: Yes.


QUESTION: As vice chairman of the caucus, what will be his role specifically?

REID: He'll continue being part of the leadership as he has and continue as head of the Campaign Committee. He has plenty to do.

Senator Schumer has many talents, one of which is helping us set direction of the caucus. I'll use him as a utility man. He'll be called upon to do lots of different things.

QUESTION: Senator, how will you judge the results of this new team? What would have to happen for you to determine whether or not (OFF-MIKE)?

REID: The results will come as we proceed through this 110th Congress.

My goal is to re-establish the legislative branch of government as deemed to be so important as checks and balances by our founding fathers. We're going to do things to -- that have not been done in many years.

We are going to treat the minority, the Republicans, as they did not treat us. They'll be involved in decisions. When we have legislation that passes this body, we're going to have conferences with the House -- I've already spoken to Leader Pelosi -- real conferences, public conferences where public issues will be debated and voted upon before taking the conference report back to the two bodies.

The results will determine how successful we are and how the Republicans are wiling to work with us. I've met with the president. He said he wanted to work with us. He said that two years ago and it didn't work. I told him that.

I want to work with the president of the United States. I want to work with the Republican leader of the Senate, Republican leader of the House. We open our arms because we realize the only way to accomplish anything is on a bipartisan basis.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) bipartisan summit on Iraq. If that doesn't happen, (OFF-MIKE) are you open to using the budget as a means of change in Iraq? Is that on the table or off the table?

REID: Realistically, with Iraq, again, just like the comment I made to Steve, Iraq has to be done on a bipartisan basis.

We know how the American people feel. They want a change of course in Iraq.

And so what we've put forward is entirely reasonable.

The law of this country today is that the year 2006 will be a year of significant transition. 2006 is about gone.

We want to work with the Republicans. I'm happy to see the president met with the study group. A year early on he said he wouldn't. I'm glad he did.

But this is not a time for threatening the president with anything. We're going to see how we can work with him to change course in Iraq.

The study group is only one element. And I'm glad he met with them. I've called for a bipartisan congressional summit -- not for an hour meeting; I'm talking about a day-long meeting, a two-day meeting, where we really get down and roll up our sleeves and try to solve the problem of Iraq.

Keep in mind this is a problem that's not going to go away. Three Americans killed yesterday. One hundred and fifty Iraqis in one incident kidnapped; this means they're going to be killed.

Last month, the morgue reported, in Iraq, almost 1,900 bodies they processed in that morgue. That is only a small percentage of the people that die by violence in that country, costing us $3 billion a week.

So this is an issue that's not going to go away. And we're not making any threats to the president, but we are reaching out to him saying, "Work with us to change course." The American people want it and they demand it.

Thank you very much.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And there you have it, the Democratic leadership team: Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Byron Dorgan, promising to fight the fight for middle class America in a bipartisan way, and creating a better America for working people. The kind of populist themes we heard in the run-up to the midterm elections.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: That's true. And they seemed chummy, too.


COLLINS: They were very happy to be there, that's for sure.

In fact, we have CNN's Kathleen Koch at the White House now. And as we said, we just saw Democrats introduced their leadership in the Senate.

How will President Bush, Kathleen, work with this new leadership?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president is going to have to work with this new leadership, obviously, Heidi, if he wants to get anything done really over the next two years of his presidency because they are in the majority now.

The president did meet with the incoming leadership of the Senate on Friday -- Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, who you both saw at that press conference -- and there were smiles and handshakes all around. And the president not only talking about the common ground that they would have to find, but the common backgrounds. Both he and Harry Reid being from the West, he said they're plainspoken men, they're on the same page.

But the White House is really sending strong messages now to both houses of Congress that with control comes responsibility, comes accountability. That this is very different from being the party in opposition. Now they have got to produce some real results -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Kathleen, we also know that leaders of the big three automakers are sitting down with President Bush. Any idea -- you know, healthcare obviously just a huge concern of this. Any idea what is expected to come out of this meeting by way of solution?

KOCH: Tough to say if any real solutions are going to come out of it. You're going to see both sides pushing for what they want in this meeting later today.

First of all, the White House, President Bush -- it was just in January that he told "The Wall Street Journal" that U.S. automakers have to "make a product that's relevant." Now the translation of that is the president wants to see Detroit come up with more fuel-efficient cars, hybrid, alternative fuel vehicles, vehicles that will lessen the dependence on foreign oil.

Let's listen to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said yesterday about the meeting.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He is certainly going to express his support for the American auto industry. And it's important to -- that the auto industry has, in fact, been looking at innovative ways of coming up -- you know, hybrids and others -- it's important to have innovation, and he's also going to listen to their concerns.


KOCH: And the automakers' concerns, obviously, you mentioned healthcare. About $1,000 out of the cost of every vehicle made in the U.S. pays for the enormous healthcare burden that the companies bear providing health care to the employees, their employees' dependents, their retirees. They're also going to be talking a lot about currency valuation.

The Japanese yen is weak compared to the dollar. U.S. automakers believe that gives Japanese automakers an unfair advantage in the U.S. market -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. And speaking of, we know that the president is headed to Asia tonight. What are the priorities for him on that trip?

KOCH: Several different things. First of all, as the president heads in that direction, he's going to be stopping, refueling Air Force One in Russia.

So he's in Moscow. He's going to be talking there with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Then when he gets on to the Asia-Pacific economic cooperation forum, the issues include terrorism, bird flu and trade. And the president had hoped to go there bearing a brand new bill that would normalize trade relations with Vietnam. That's where the APEC conference is being held. But it didn't pass the House. They're going to be trying again tomorrow to get that through.

COLLINS: All right. Kathleen Koch on a variety of issues today.

Thank you, Kathleen.

KOCH: You bet.

HARRIS: It was a bold crime in broad daylight. Today, one of the biggest mass kidnappings since the start of the Iraq war. Gunmen dressed as police kidnapped as many as 150 people from a Ministry of Education building in Baghdad.

The lightning-quick raid prompting universities across Iraq to shut down until security is beefed up. Along with the kidnappings, more deadly bombings in the Iraqi capital.

The latest now from CNN's Michael Ware in Baghdad.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The minister for higher education here in Iraq, in a televised address to parliament, outlined the events of the morning's mass kidnapping that took place only four hours ago. Now, while local police put the numbers of hostages somewhat lower, the minister told the nation that between 100 and 150 men have been taken in what, if it proves to be true, is going to be one of the most breathtaking insurgent or militia operations that we've seen in recent times.

According to the minister's televised address, as many as 80 gunmen in Iraqi security uniforms, driving more than 20 vehicles, surrounded this government research institute in the heart of the capital here, Baghdad. They then entered the complex, segregating men from women. At the end of what they said was a legitimate operation, and according to one report, one of these uniformed men even claimed they had the American ambassador with them.

The gunmen then took the 100 to 150 men and whisked them away, leaving the women behind in a locked room. As a result of all of this, the minister of higher education has now formally suspended all classes at all universities, saying he's left with no other choice. He doesn't want to see any other professors killed.

So he's made official what has been a de facto suspension of classes this semester. Since universities opened, neither students nor professors have been attending.


COLLINS: Now it's Tony Blair's turn. The British prime minister meeting with the Iraq Study Group today by video link. His interview comes one day after President Bush spoke to the bipartisan advisory panel.

Prime Minister Blair will be asked about his views on curbing the violence in Iraq. And he's calling for Iran and Syria to help stabilize the country, offering them a choice: a new partnership or international isolation. President Bush has been cool on the idea of having dialogue with Iran and Syria.

HARRIS: Iran's nuclear quest, it's stirred international concerns. But the president of that country says it may be time to celebrate.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran is close to completing its controversial nuclear fuel program. Many countries, including the U.S., believe Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons. The hard-line president disputes that and says the international community is slowly abandoning its opposition.


MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We do understand that this is a heavy sort of price for other countries to pay, to accept where we are. But thanking god, we are now able to have such capability. And I'm confident that in this current year we will be able to have an enormous festivity to celebrate our nuclear technology.


HARRIS: The Iranian president also says he would like a discussion with the American people. He said he would soon send them a message to explain Iran's policies, but he did not explain what that means.

COLLINS: In an earlier war they would be dead. Now they are survivors, but struggling mightily. Iraq's signature wound ahead in the NEWSROOM.

Plus, flu season is here and so is a new warning about a popular flu drug. What you need to watch for, especially if you are a parent. Find out in the NEWSROOM.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


COLLINS: There has been a bus accident here in Atlanta that we want to update you on. And T.J. Holmes is in the newsroom now with the very latest on that.

T.J., what do we know at this point?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, getting some update and information now about this accident.

We're told now -- at least a local affiliate is reporting the two buses you're seeing there are the two buses that were involved in the accident. Earlier, we were getting information that a bus and one other vehicle were involved, but now we're told that the two buses there were actually involved, according to the local affiliate, and one actually ran into the back of the other.

Also, the local affiliate is reporting that seven high school students from Carrollton High School in Carrollton, Georgia, which is, I guess, what, 50 miles or so east -- or rather west of Atlanta, that those were the students heading to Atlanta. And they had this accident, and seven of them reporting minor injuries, at least according to the local affiliate.

Also one official, one Fulton County official, is saying that this is absolutely a minor accident, is really downplaying it and saying nothing major, not too major of injuries or anything involved. But it actually happened, the accident, not on the highway.

This is at Interstate 20 and the Fulton Industrial Boulevard exit, but it wasn't on the highway that the two buses collided. They actually collided there in the parking lot that you're seeing at the BP gas station.

So given that they were in a parking lot, maybe not too much speed was built up, and that could be a very good thing, and why maybe we don't have major -- major injuries. But, again, at least it was a minor accident, according to Fulton County officials. And not really serious injuries of seven high school students from Carrollton, Georgia -- guys.

COLLINS: All right. T.J. Holmes.

Thank you.

HARRIS: Casualty recount. Some 21,000 U.S. servicemen and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The whole story? Well, critics suggest the Pentagon may be playing a numbers game.

Here is CNN's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): January 2005 on the flight deck of the USS Kitty Hawk, on the way to the Gulf of Arabia, electrician Robert Roder loses one of his legs in a freak accident.

ROBERT RODER, IRAQ VET: It was just getting dark. We were doing some combat flight operations. There was four resting wires, and that's actually what catches the airplanes when they land on top of the carrier. And they hold 400,000 pounds worth of pressure, and one of those were snapped at full tension.

JOHNS: The massive snap severs his leg, but because the Kitty Hawk is outside a designated combat zone, Roder is listed as a non- combat injury. That designation, combat or non-combat, is important, as we'll show you in a moment.

Today Roder walks with an artificial leg. He's proud of his service but not happy that he's been designated as ineligible for the Purple Heart reserved for combat injuries.

RODER: We're in a current conflict. I would imagine that, you know, everyone would be considered combat related just because everyone is training up to the point where they're going to be in Iraq.

JOHNS: It's an important point, because injuries like Roder's aren't included in the government's total number of combat injured. The number you hear most is more than 21,000.

Instead, Roder and many others with injuries got lumped into a category called medical evacuations for non-hostile injuries. And how many are in that category? Nearly 8,000. Government figures indicate 7,848 to be precise, for Iraq and Afghanistan.

So including the non-hostile injuries, we're up to nearly 30,000 wounded during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

There are still other military personnel who have medical problems but who are not listed as either combat injured or non- hostile injured. These are the service members who were evacuated due to illness. They number more than 21,000.

So keeping them honest, we decided to combine all these numbers to come up with a better indicator of the true level of sacrifice of our servicemen and women. If you add all the hostile and non-hostile war injured together, plus the illnesses, the total number of Americans who got hurt or sick while serving their country during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is closer to 50,000.

It's hard to know how many of them were evacuated for illnesses they could have caught, whether they'd been in Iraq or not. But many critics believe the public is simply in the dark about the true impact of this war.

JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: The Defense Department is the source of it, and I think they basically decided it was a bad news story, that it would undermine support for the war. And they just weren't going to put it out.

JOHNS: A spokesman for the Army, which has the greatest number of medical evacuations about the services, categorically denied that assertion and called it gibberish.

And Army Lieutenant Brant Hilford (ph) said the Army is, quote, "shockingly transparent on its casualty counts. We're more interested in winning the war than spinning the war," he said.

Whatever the numbers, it's a question of whether the American public really understands the impact of this war on the lives of those now coming home.

Neurosurgeon Gene Bolles treated hundreds of Iraq casualties. He says the wounds from both combat and non-combat were horrific.

DR. GENE BOLLES, NEUROSURGEON: I don't think the people in the United States that don't experience that live have a true feeling of what -- of what war is and how it affects people.

JOHNS: As for Robert Roder, who lost his leg on the Kitty Hawk, he's doing great and hopeful that one day the Pentagon may agree he deserves that Purple Heart.


HARRIS: Joe Johns joins us from Washington, D.C.

Joe, good to see you.

JOHNS: Tony.

HARRIS: A couple of quick questions for you. Is there anything being done to help people like Robert Roder, people who suffered these -- what we're calling non-combat injuries?

JOHNS: Well, there's a group out there called the Wounded Warrior Project, and they've been working on this for some time. The question, essentially, is whether people injured outside the theaters of war in Iraq and Afghanistan ought to be compensated, at least for very serious injuries.

Senator Larry Craig of Idaho is trying to push legislation on that issue. What we're talking about, we think by one estimate, is about 700 service members injured between 2001 and 2005. So people are working on it -- Tony.

HARRIS: Yes. And Joe, what are some of the problems with the way the Pentagon reports casualties?

JOHNS: Well, it's basically, as you can see, a question of whether you should lump together non-combat injuries with combat injuries and with all the illnesses. And, I mean, there are a lot of schools of thought on this, but sort of the bottom line is, when you're in the military, particularly during a time of war, it can be a very dangerous place, even if you're not engaging the enemy.

You have to handle munitions, you have to handle heavy equipment. Things break, things blow up. And isn't that also part of the war effort inclusive?

There is also that issue of illnesses, as you saw. People like John Pike are saying the military simply isn't putting out enough information about the illnesses.

HARRIS: Joe Johns for us from Washington.

Joe, appreciate it. Thank you.

COLLINS: We wanted to follow up on a story we talk about here yesterday. We had quite a response to our segment on Celiac Disease. And just in case you missed it, this is an autoimmune disease. People who have it cannot eat a protein called gluten. If they do, they get very sick. Intestinal stress for days, pain, severe headaches, and fatigue.

If a Celiac does not take gluten completely out of his or her diet, it can lead to malignancies like lymphoma. And it can also lead to osteoporosis, anemia, and even neurological problems.

Take it from me though, I've had Celiac that I know of for two years. And gluten is in pretty much everything. Not really, but it is in wheat, oat, barley and rye. That means -- the short list anyway -- no bread products, pasta, beer, cookies, cakes, many other foods that contain gluten. Even trace amounts can be toxic.

In fact, a bread crumb -- and Tony knows this -- makes me feel the same way a whole loaf of bread would. I can't lick envelopes because of the glu, and even lipsticks, lip glosses, all medications, vitamins have to be checked thoroughly for gluten.

As I said, eating at a restaurant with a Celiac is sometimes a special treat. Just ask my friend Tony.

HARRIS: Well, may I chime in here for just a moment?

COLLINS: Yes, of course.

HARRIS: So, I take you out to -- for a little lunchy lunch. We're going to get to know one another. You know, first date and everything, new partner. And two hours later she has hasn't ordered yet. She is still working through the menu. And I'm trying to figure out, well, is this -- is this my life now?

But then you told me the story and how you and your son -- the (INAUDIBLE) men have been dealing with it.

COLLINS: Yes, we both have it.


COLLINS: But the good news is, people are becoming more aware. And so, of course, that's what we're trying to do here.

I want to remind everybody that if you want more information on it, Dr. Green, the leading physical and researcher in the field, he was actually our guest here yesterday.

HARRIS: He was great.

COLLINS: He has a Web site. This can be found here at the And if you would like to do a symptoms checklist, you want to find out if you may possibly have celiac and that you should be tested -- by the way, after the segment yesterday, 840 people did this checklist.

HARRIS: Well, that was what I was going to ask you, yes.

COLLINS: More than 100 people signed up to become volunteers working on celiac awareness.

HARRIS: That's great.

COLLINS: So you can go to this Web site: That is the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

And finally, if you'd like to see our interview from yesterday, you can go to You can watch Dr. Green answer questions from me and from you, our viewers, who were writing in to us.

HARRIS: So you'll update the audience, everyone on how you're doing and how folks are progressing?

COLLINS: I would love to.

HARRIS: And give us more information?

COLLINS: Not on me, but, you know...

HARRIS: Well, yes.

COLLINS: ... but the awareness. The problem is, 97 percent undiagnosed at this point according to Dr. Green. So that's why we're working pretty hard to get it out.

HARRIS: That's terrific. Yes. COLLINS: If you feel nasty, talk to your doctor about Celiac Disease.

HARRIS: Well, you talked to me. Now I know.

COLLINS: Yes, exactly.

HARRIS: Well, just in time for flu season, a warning about one of the most popular flu medicines, Tamiflu. The Food & Drug Administration adding a new precaution to the Tamiflu label. It tells patients to watch for signs of strange behavior, things like hallucinations and delirium.

The move comes after dozens of cases of strange behavior in Japan. Most of the patients were children. The FDA says it's not clear if the behavior is linked to Tamiflu or if it's just a product of the flu itself.

And to get your daily dose of health news online, log on to our Web site. You'll find the latest medical news, a health library, and information on diet and fitness. The address,

COLLINS: Coming up, new options for Iraq. Top generals now looking at the mission and possible changes to the master plan.

That's ahead in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Hey, have you have heard had story yesterday? Man, a brazen daytime raid in Baghdad, and now dozens of people are captives. Gunmen abducted up to 150 people today. It happened lightning quick at an education ministry building in the capital. The gunmen disguised themselves in police uniforms. It's said to be one of the biggest mass kidnappings since the war in Iraq started. Immediately after the incident, university's shut down until security can be beefed up.

COLLINS: The plan for Iraq may be changing, regardless of what the Iraq Study Group says. Some of the Pentagon's top generals are now considering new options for Iraq. And those could be revealed this week.

We get more now from CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Star.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Senior U.S. military commanders are writing their own options for the next steps in Iraq, work they had secretly begun even before the midterm elections.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: They are scrubbing now possible options that they can recommend to the president. STARR: The generals have known for weeks they must find a way to bring troops home sooner rather than later. Joint Chiefs chairman Peter Pace began closed-door meetings weeks ago with officers recently back from Iraq.

GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: I think the serious issue on the table is, what are the strategic objectives of the United States in the war on terrorism? And what is going right in the pursuit of those objectives? And what is not going right and should be changed?

STARR: This Friday, Pace and the chiefs will meet in the tank, their highly-secure Pentagon conference room, to begin finalizing their plans.

In Baghdad, General John Abizaid told Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki Monday that his government must exert more control. Abizaid will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday, the first senior commander to testify since the election.

The incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee already is pressing for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops as a means of pressuring the Iraqis.

LEVIN: It's not a matter of training 100 percent or 90 percent or 80 percent, or equipping 100 percent or 90 percent or 80 percent of the Iraqi forces. It's a matter of political will in Iraq. That is the key ingredient which has been missing.

STARR: With Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on his way out, Levin thinks the generals will now be more candid.

LEVIN: Not just an understanding of the need to look at some new options, but also a willingness to do what perhaps we were too reluctant to do prior to the election, which is to state those publicly.

(on camera): General Abizaid and General Pace aren't tipping their hand yet about what they plan to tell Congress or what their recommendations will be. But if they do suddenly get more candid, the question may be, where was that candor in the weeks before the election?

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


HARRIS: All right, Heidi, it's that time of year again. You have to hit the stores and snap up all the cool holiday toys. What is safe and what is not, the latest advice in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: It's an air guitarist's dream. Say it with me. Rock on! Playing your shirt.


COLLINS: We'll tell you how it's it's done, right here in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And everyone's favorite spy is back. 007 starring in film number 21.

COLLINS: And there's your girl.

HARRIS: Did you see her?

COLLINS: You totally missed her.

HARRIS: This time he's blond. What is the big deal? Well, the big deal it is has critics seeing red. That story in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Want to have a holly, jolly holiday season? Who doesn't, right? Well, you've got to make sure that the toys you get for your tots are safe. So before you head to the mall, some tips now out today from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. First up, read the label. Make sure your gifts are age-appropriate . Then next, give toys that suit your child's age, abilities and skill levels as well. If the child is under 8, don't buy toys that have sharp edges or points. And, remember, mother's warning, you can put an eye out with that. Toys with those nifty things that shoot into the air really can cause eye injuries. So think about that. And finally, a warning about those battery chargers and adapters. Keep them away from the kids. They can get burned.

And have fun, too. Just pick the right toys.

HARRIS Check this out. A guy who wears his music on his shirt sleeve. This is legit. Research engineers at a technology company came up with the idea. Here is how it works. Sensors located on the arms of the T-shirt. The sensors monitor arm movements. Then wirelessly relay them to a computer to produce the sound. The researchers say can you really rock out, dude.

COLLINS: Is that what it looks like? what kind of camera is that?

HARRIS: I don't know what that is.

Even if you have no musical ability, this should be good for you. Go ahead, jump around like a real guitarist, play, enjoy yourself. Your tune is supposed to sound as good as an original MP3. Researchers say the same technology could be used to help with physical rehabilitation. So there you go, rock on.

COLLINS: Wow. That's great.

Meanwhile, make way for a blond Bond. The newest incarnation of the super spy is ready to hit the big screen this week.

HARRIS: Well, this 007 may be able to dodge bullets, but can he escape the critics' pen?

CNN's Paula Newton takes a look.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cue that music and enter the new Bond, James Bond. Throw in the Bond babes, the action, the cars...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't bother you, killing those people?

NEWTON: ... And shake, don't stir.

DANIEL CRAIG, ACTOR: Well, I wouldn't be very good at my job if it did.

NEWTON: It's been a bankable formula for almost 45 years, but this time they're starting from scratch. And what a gamble. Daniel Craig is the new incarnation of 007 as a back-to-the-basics Bond, no gadgets, more grit.

CRAIG: Someone that we could sort of maybe -- we could see the reality of and see somebody who got hurt and got knocked down and kind of how he stood up and dealt with things.

NEWTON: And deal he does. "Casino Royale" takes us back to Bond's first mission. 007 is younger, vulnerable, dare we even think it -- not so invincible.

MARTIN CAMPBELL, "CASINO ROYALE" DIRECTOR: He's got a lot of rough edges, makes mistakes, he bleeds, he falls in love. He's a much darker character. And in a word, we just wanted to make a more realistic feet-on-the-ground Bond.

NEWTON: Reality? That hasn't exactly been Bond's currency with fans happy to see 007 in a world they could escape to, not the one they live in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The man (INAUDIBLE). Private banker to the world's terrorists.

NEWTON: But this is the post 9/11 Bond, and producers felt it was time for a down-to-earth makeover and a new man. Daniel Craig was introduced as the new Bond in over-the-top style, coming out of the Thames and out of the blue for some. British tabs dubbed him Bland, James Bland.

CRAIG: I was just a bit kind of stunned by it. It was like, how do I respond to that. And there's nothing in fact I could have done. There's no response except to just get on with it and to make the movie.

NEWTON: Craig beefed up and anted up, doing many of his own stunts.

DAVID BLACK, JAMES BOND FAN CLUB: Well, I'm gobsmacked. A lot of people said at the beginning that perhaps he wasn't the man for the job. Well, they've been proved wrong, very wrong.

CRAIG: What about a drink at my place.

NEWTON: But can he carry this thing? Craig is Bond number six. But, the last 007, Pierce Brosnan, in "Die Another Day", banked almost a half a billion dollars worldwide. So cue that music again. If this Bond wants to keep his job, he can't just be licensed to kill, he has to be proven to sell.

Paula Newton, CNN, London.


HARRIS: Eva Green. She's got a ways to go if she's going to be a better Bond girl than that Halle Berry. Smoking hot. A man's opinion. And it counts on this show.

Come on, everybody! Get happy. I am now.

Living a joyful life, it may be a lot easier than you think. The story ahead in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: You know what makes me happy? new shoes. We're talking about a story and happiness, right? we got the shoe shot. There are people requesting it.

HARRIS: Get your feet off the desk.

COLLINS: Come on, you want them.

HARRIS: I'm calling Tom and Norma as soon as we finish here this morning.

COLLINS: Those are my parents.

COLLINS: Young, single, rich -- maybe I can slide into the desk now -- a formula for happiness? Not necessarily. People are not always the best judges of their own joy.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the story.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dan Gottlieb is doing something he loves. He's a successful radio talk show host in Philadelphia and a family therapist.

DAN GOTTLIEB, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: At the moment I'm very grateful.

GUPTA: What may surprise you is that Gottlieb is paralyzed from the chest down, the result of a freak accident, a truck tire bouncing across the highway crushing his car and his spine. He says he's happier now than before his accident. GOTTLIEB: I'm a happy man. But I would have struggled with that question when I was 30 years old.

DANIEL GILBERT, AUTHOR "STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS": Studies suggest that most people who are in Dan's situation lead reasonably happy lives -- that surprises most of us.

GUPTA: Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert studies what makes people happy. He has found most people are incredibly bad at predicting what will bring them joy.

GUPTA: (on-camera): Does money buy happiness?

GILBERT: Well, you bet it does if you're living under a bridge in a cardboard box because when people are moved from abject poverty into the middle class, their happiness increases dramatically, but it stops increasing thereafter.

GUPTA (voice-over): So what does bring us happiness? According to a Pew Research Center survey -- age. Older people are happier than younger. The happiest, men, 60 to 69. The least happy, men 20 to 29. Education. College graduates are happier than high school graduates. Religion. Religious people are happier than those who aren't religious. Climate. Sunbelt residents are happier than residents elsewhere in the United States. Marriage. Married people are happier than singles. Political affiliations. Republicans are happier than Democrats -- both are happier than Independents. No kids. Married couples with no children are happier than those with kids. The least happy group? Single parents with children under 18.

Dan Gottlieb says happiness boils down to love and gratitude for family and friends.

GOTTLIEB: I strongly encourage love who we love, only do it better.


Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Atlanta.


HARRIS: And tomorrow, Sanjay will take a closer look at smiles. He's going to tell us -- get this -- what researchers can predict just based on your yearbook picture.

COLLINS: Oh, no! I'm so finding your year book picture for tomorrow.

HARRIS: Oh, no. With my Michael Jackson afro. Oh, man. That's scary.

Let's keep that happy feeling going. Tune in to Sanjay's primetime special coming up on Sunday. "Happiness and Your Health: The Surprising Connection." can you see it Sunday night at 10:00 eastern only on CNN, the most trusted name in news. COLLINS: I cannot wait to see your picture.

HARRIS: Oh my. Franklin Senior High.

COLLINS: Love it. Looking it up now.

The iPod gets hot new competition. Meet the Zune, right after this.

COLLINS: You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


HARRIS: "YOUR WORLD TODAY" coming up in about eight minutes at the top of the hour. Hala Gorani is standing by with a preview. Hala, good morning.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Tony. Good morning, Heidi. At the top of the hour, noon eastern, join us for YOUR WORLD TODAY.

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country will soon complete its nuclear enrichment program. We'll take you live to Iran and that country's capital. Also we're going to Iraq of course today with the shocking mass kidnapping of up to 150 people at Iraq's higher education ministry. Abductors, some of whom interestingly were dressed in the new supposedly difficult to replicate ministry of interior uniform. Storming the building.

Plus, we will look at the psychological impact of war. We'll tell you about how returning to America from a combat mission can be a difficult adjustment. But also, living full-time in a war-zone for years. What it can do to your mental health. Michael Holmes will look at that. That's YOUR WORLD TODAY, top of the hour. Back to you guys.

HARRIS: OK, Hala. Thank you.



HARRIS: You are back in the NEWSROOM in one hour. Don Lemon here now with a preview. Good to see you, Don.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see you, so shoes make you happy, huh?

HARRIS: The over/under on the shoe count is 200 now.

LEMON: I was like ...

HARRIS: The over/under 200 on the shoe count for Heidi Collins.

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: We're going to talk about a very serious subject, Heidi Collins. Methamphetamine, it's highly addictive. It gives a rush. It is quietly becoming an epidemic in the gay community.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wanted our sexuality back and oh, boy, we've got it back. We've got it back with a vengeance. And in that environment, crystal meth was allowed to kind of blossom.


LEMON: At 1:00 in the NEWSROOM, my candid conversation with a meth addict, featured in a new documentary about the illegal drug. And what's ailing the American auto industry. Car makers meet with President Bush this afternoon. One of their complaints -- something we're all paying more for. Join Kyra Phillips and me, 1:00 p.m. today in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'll have on one of my ties and you'll be gone with all your shoes.

COLLINS: All right. Don Lemon, thank you. We'll be watching. And just one more reminder, CNN NEWSROOM does continue just one hour from now.

HARRIS: "YOUR WORLD TODAY" is next with news happening across the globe and here at home. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: And I'm Heidi Collins. Have a great day, everybody.


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