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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Baker Commission Recommends Gradual Pullout of Troops From Iraq; Homeland Security Warns of Al Qaeda Threat Against Online Banking

Aired November 30, 2006 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much and thank you all for joining us tonight. There is important news coming in to CNN all the time. Tonight we are choosing these top stories for a more in depth look.
The top story in the Iraq War, exit strategy. The long awaited Baker Commission report apparently says U.S. forces should start coming home gradually. Will President Bush listen?

The top weather story tonight, winter's first blast. It is already snarling highways, clogging airports and causing misery from Texas all the way to Illinois. We're going to show you where it's headed next.

And then on to the top story in politics, Koran controversy. Some say Islam's holy book has inspired terrorists. Well, should the country's first ever Muslim congressman use it at his swearing in?

We start tonight, though, with some breaking news. The Homeland Security Department out of what it calls an abundance of caution is warning about an al Qaeda threat against online banking and stock trading services. The department says there is no evidence to bake up their threat but let's get the very latest now from justice correspondent Kelli Arena.

Kelli, what does this really mean?

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, this threat came over a jihadist Web site. It says it is in retaliation for Muslims being held at U.S. prison camps at Guantanamo, Cuba.

The Web site called on all Muslims with computer skills to send viruses through e-mails to attack the Internet sites of online stock trading and banking Web sites.

Now, these attacks are supposed to start on December 1st and go all through the month, end on New Year's. The threat was actually discovered three days ago, November 27th. It was translated and then DHS decided to send out an advisory today to the financial industry.

And we do have a translation. The Sight Institute published a translation of the threat. In one part it talks about Americans at Guantanamo Bay that threw the Koran in the toilet. It calls for 30 days of continuous, intensified and organized attack. Now as you said Paula, the Department of Homeland Security says there's no information to corroborate the threat. There's nothing to show there's any effort underway. A spokesperson says that a warning was sent to financial institutions out of, we've heard it before, abundance of caution to provide the industry with timely information, Paula.

ZAHN: So what is it these financial institutions are supposed to do in the wake of this warning?

ARENA: Well, Paula, experts say these financial sites are already pretty well protected. They have fairly elaborate fire walls, they have the highest encryption technology. They know they're targets not only by terrorists, but by anyone, extortionists for example. So it is just to be on alert, know this information and make sure your policies and procedures are in place.

ZAHN: Very quickly in closing. Is anybody out there tonight saying this is much ado about nothing?

ARENA: You know, yes, there are some people saying it is much ado about nothing. But they do say look, you never know who is going to be incited to do something. There's a call out there on a public Web site. We've got to make sure we cover the bases.

ZAHN: All right. Kelli Arena, thanks so much for the update.

ARENA: You're welcome.

ZAHN: We move on now to the top story in the war. And what we're learning tonight about the recommendations coming next week from the Iraq Study Group. The group's goal is to come up with a plan to get the U.S. out of Iraq and to do it in a way that will satisfy the White House and the majority in Congress. Elaine Quijano is at the White House tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... in Jordan with Iraq's prime minister President Bush returned to Washington, preparing to hear next week from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group on its recommendations for improving the situation in Iraq. The group led by former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton and former secretary of state James Baker, a Republican began its work nearly nine months ago. Sources close to the group said the 10 members sidestepped the thorny issue of setting a definite timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals, instead a source close to the deliberations says the consensus view is to recommend a U.S. troop reduction described as gradual but meaningful, with the reduction to begin relatively early next year.

The group is also expected to advise the president to urge Maliki to meet goals to reduce violence so the U.S. forces can eventually come home. And the panel wants the U.S. to focus on training be Iraqi troops and less on combat. Ahead of the report, President Bush in Jordan sought to dispel the notion that troops would be pulled out prematurely.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT: I know there is a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there is going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq. We're going to stay in Iraq to get the job done so long as the government wants us there.

QUIJANO: The Bush administration has downplayed any findings by the Baker Hamilton Commission noting that the White House is conducting its own reviews. And analysts say any expectations that the panel will produce an Iraq panacea are mistaken.

KENNETH POLLACK, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It was never likely that the Iraq Study Group was going to come up with novel solutions to the problems of Iraq. Quite frankly we know what the different alternatives are in Iraq and really there are not solutions, there are just choices.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO (on camera): As for when President Bush might make decisions on his Iraq policy, his National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said aboard Air Force One it would likely be within weeks not months. Adding it would happen when the president was, quote, "comfortable." Paula?

ZAHN: Elaine Quijano. Thanks.

So what will all this mean for U.S. forces in Iraq? We asked senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So far the few details that have leaked out of the Iraq Study Group would seem to suggest no drastic change in strategy is coming.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, I think the truth is we're all talking about withdrawal. The question is, whether that withdrawal will be based on security considerations or based upon domestic politics here in the United States.

MCINTYRE: A gradual pullout or pullback of U.S. troops with no set timeline and emphasizing training Iraqis over conducting combat operations sounds very similar to what U.S. commanders advocate.

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: I think it is very, very clear that we've got to do more to speed the transition to get the Iraqis in the front. Because the Iraqis being in the front is the key to victory.

MCINTYRE: But the panel does seem it favor a subtle but important shift, according to sources. Essentially putting the Iraqis on notice that the U.S. commitment is not open-ended. By recommending gradual but meaningful U.S. troop reductions beginning relatively early next year and moving U.S. troops off the front lines, out of the bull's eye as one official put it. Another page from the Pentagon's current plan, it will also call for setting clear benchmarks for Iraq to meet.

GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: How much of the Iraqi armed forces are under the command and control of the Iraqi leadership? How much of the country has been turned over to provincial leadership? These are all things we can judge and measure.

MCINTYRE: Although many of the recommendations may mirror current policy, some analysts argue they also reflect a more sober reality that Iraq's problems can't be solved by military force.

JOE CIRINCIONE, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Iraq is a failure on so many levels, it is hard to count. Clearly there's a military failure, there's no military victory possible. The consensus is clear on that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE (on camera): The Pentagon is yet to get any inside word on what the full report will say when it's released next week. But already the military brass is preparing its own list of options to counter any recommendations it sees as unwise.

Paula?

ZAHN: Jamie McIntyre thanks.

In an interview with ABC News today, Iraqi Prime Minister al- Maliki said his country's forces will be able to take over security duty from U.S. troops by next June.

Let's go to a top story panel right now. Cliff May is one of the expert who worked with the Iraq Study Group. He is the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

P.J. Crowley of the Center for American Progress and "Time Magazine" correspondent Brian Bennett who has covered Iraq. Glad to see all three of you, Cliff, I am going to start with you tonight. We mentioned you were on the inside of this study group. What we've seen leaked so far, is that an accurate representation of what is to come?

CLIFF MAY, ADVISOR TO IRAQ STUDY GROUP: Hard to tell, I was with the advisory group, the so-called expert group. Then the principles baker Hamilton and Ed Meese and others, they did not share with us what they had decided. They listened to us, we presented ideas and options, they talked to others as well.

So we don't know for sure. I think I'm sure that the "New York Times" where I used to work, has gotten it substantially right. Though I'll be interested to see what comes out next Wednesday when we see the whole report because the devil may be in the details.

ZAHN: Brian, we've seen what we think is a fraction of this report, eight months in the coming. But we're already hearing some out there say, it is nothing more than a cop-out, a completely watered down report. What is the sense you have got tonight? BRIAN BENNETT, "TIME MAGAZINE": I'll tell you if the recommendation for the military strategy is to pull out 15 brigades, combat brigades whenever the Bush administration wants. That's effectively meaningless. Because I'm sure the Pentagon wants to pull out its combat brigades whenever they can. And the recommendation of a gradual withdrawal doesn't really mean anything unless it puts some sort of timetable on it.

ZAHN: And P.J., we've already seen the president distancing himself from this report saying that kind of troop withdrawal is unrealistic. The he doesn't want to talk to Iran, that he doesn't want to talk Syria, at end of the day will the report have any impact at all?

P.J. CROWLEY, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: It remains to be seen. I think the report will be well read and respected on the Hill, where you have impetus both by Democrats and Republicans to have a shift in strategy, perhaps coming off the recent election where Iraq played a significant role.

That said, obviously, the president is carving out some room to maneuver here, so perhaps if inevitably U.S. forces are withdrawn, the president wants it to be based on his timetable and on events on the ground in Iraq. The challenge, of course, is that events in Iraq may be actually outpacing the presidential policy and what is actually in the report.

ZAHN: And by that you mean the development tonight that the Iraqi prime minister says that his own security forces will be able to be in control of the country in spring of next year.

CROWLEY: Well, no, but partially the president may want to keep forces in Iraq relatively longer. But if Iraq really does descend into civil war and everyone recognizes that, that has implications.

But you're exactly right, I think on the surface what the president and Prime Minister Maliki are setting up is a pivot point somewhere around midyear in 2007 where the Iraqi government declares itself ready to assume full responsibility for security and that marks in the president's words the end of the mission.

That said, we've seen over the course of the last two or three years that, that while we've been at this training aspect, you know, the training has been slow and today, we cannot simply replace an Iraqi unit for a U.S. unit because the Iraqi units are largely not ready.

ZAHN: Brian, from what we have seen about this report so far, there's the suggestion that no consensus could be reached on when you bring troops out. If this group can't come to a consensus, what kind of optimism can the American public have that our government will?

BENNETT: Well, I think it depends on your interpretation of the elections in November. Certainly, the Americans voted for a change and the Bush administration has -- has so far at least in words responded to that, and said they're going to be open to considering new options, but if no one for example from this Baker Commission that has been given a lot of heft is going to recommend a major strategic change and it is just going to say, well, we need a gradual troop withdrawal, then it is hard to see exactly where that recommendation is going to come from, that the Bush administration is going to listen to.

ZAHN: Quick answer to this Cliff May. Do you think the study group wasted its time?

MAY: No, not at all. I think they provided a lot of thought and a lot of options. And I think right now there are three basic missions that I think P.J. will agree with me need to be carried out.

One is we said we were going to stabilize Baghdad, we haven't done so, it's time to do so. Two we have got to train Iraqis if we want them to take over, and we need to accelerate and escalate that process and three there's still al Qaeda and Iraq, there are still remnants of Saddam's regime and there are still Iranians in Iraq that we probably should be hunting down and defeating.

All of those things need to go forward I think before we get out. We don't want to get out and let the place spiral down into a worse civil war, maybe into a genocidal civil war. I think if we did that we would regret it not just next year but for generations.

ZAHN: All right, trio. Well, we all learned a lot, tonight from you. Cliff May, P.J. Crowley, Brian Bennett. Appreciate your time.

Now, no matter what the U.S. does in Iraq, things only seem to get worse. Coming up, one of the reasons why. We're going to get an in-depth look at the cycle of mayhem, reprisal and revenge. A spiral of hate that feeds on itself.

Then a little bit later on new developments in a top story involving a former spy and radioactive poison. Why has a former Russian prime minister suddenly and mysteriously fallen ill? Was he ill, too?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Another top story we're following tonight, radioactive poison. A former top Russian official has suddenly become seriously ill. Coming up, his possible connections to a one-time Russian spy who was poisoned and died.

Our top story, the war in Iraq moves now to the endless cycle of violence ripping that country apart. Just today in Baghdad, police found the bodies of 25 people across the capital, all shot dead. The religious violence is happening every day now. And it just seems insane. Revenge killing after revenge killing, over and over again. We asked Arwa Damon in Baghdad to try to make some sense of this deadly cycle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Iraqi prime minister came back from his meetings with President Bush seemingly determined to put an end to the sectarian violence, that seems to grow worse by the day.

And forces like religion and revenge that fuel the daily litany of bombings, murders and torture could prove stronger than the prime minister's capacity to control them.

The latest cycle of violence started a week ago, with another grim marker. The single deadliest sectarian attack of the war.

At least five car bombs exploded in the Shia slum of Sadr City, a Mehdi Militia stronghold loyal to radical anti American cleric Muqtada al Sadr. More than 200 people died.

Like Iraq's grief, the funeral procession seemed endless. Hundreds of mourners packed the streets of Sadr City, escorting the coffins. Since then the sectarian blood letting has risen to a new level.

This U.S. military video was shot last Friday. You see what the military says are two of six rockets by Shia in Sadr City into the Sunni neighborhood of Adamiya (ph).

The U.S. is trying to stop the violence, in this case destroying the Sadr City rocket launcher. But there are many more such weapons on both sides. The government tried to slow down retaliatory attacks with the three-day curfew over the weekend in Baghdad.

But the violence continued. Pleas for help from Sunni residents broadcast on Sunni TV after a series of attacks in their neighborhood. One resident summed up the chaos.

"At the end of the day, we're all losers," Hassan said. "This is our home, our country."

And in the town of Baquba, 40 miles north of Baghdad, there was in curfew. But there was a bloodbath. At least 30 blindfolded and handcuffed bodies contorted by death arrived at the morgue. The local government said the corpses were found scattered through the city. Most Shia, some Sunni.

"Why, why?" this woman shouts.

On Monday with the lifting of the Baghdad curfew, relatives finally were able to travel to the city morgue to identify their loved ones. Hundreds of people have been killed in less than a week. Life in the capital is anything but normal. Even by Iraqi standards, now fear of execution keeps more people at home.

This video posted on an extremist jihadi Web site shows a new level of brutality. The Mujahideen Army from Adamiya (ph), a Sunni neighborhood beheads this man who is said to be the member of the Shia Mehdi Militia.

The killings takes place as people watch and take pictures. Throughout Iraq, the agony of loss. The past week has made the failure of the elected government to provide security painfully obvious. As Nouri al-Maliki's grip on his government weakens and the country slides closer to full-scale civil war. Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And coming up, next, we're going to move on to a top story that sound like it is straight out of Hollywood. But this spy story includes a very real mystery. Contaminated airliners and a one-time Russian prime minister who is now seriously ill. Was he poisoned too? We're going to have the latest coming up next.

Also ahead, is it un-American for the first Muslim congressman to take the oath of office by swearing in on the Koran instead of a Bible. Well, one of my guests says it is. You'll hear that debate coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Our top story in crime tonight, widening fear over radioactive contamination after the poisoning death of an ex-Russian spy. It has been a week since the former KGB agent died in London, and since then traces of radioactivity have turned up in a dozen places.

Health officials have talked with some 1500 people who traveled on airliners that may also have been contaminated. And now the trail leads to Moscow to a former prime minister who may also have been poisoned. Matthew Chance is in London tonight with the very latest for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is an intrigue worthy of a Cold War thriller. Tonight two British planes remain grounded in London, contaminated with radiation. Another awaits tests on the tarmac in Moscow.

Investigation into the poisoning of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko has taken a seriously international turn. If it was murder, it was no pinpointed assassination. British Airways says as many as 33,000 passengers and 3,000 staff may have been exposed to radiation on their aircraft alone since the time Litvinenko fell sick. B.A. says the planes have made 221 flights between London and a number of European cities.

On one of the contaminated aircraft that have passed through Moscow British news reports say seven seats were cordoned off during its last flight from Athens to London. It business class A and B on row four, J and K on row six and in coach, D, E and F in row 23.

It is possible these seats were marked for testing even before the flight. Contamination was found in at least one seat and in the overhead lockers according to the reports. They may have come from someone carrying the poison. On the ground, in London, British authorities say their tracking of Litvinenko's movements have revealed low level but widespread contamination elsewhere.

JOHN REID, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: To date, around 24 venues have or are being monitored, and experts have confirmed traces of contamination at around 12 of these venues. Police continue to trace possible witnesses and to examine Mr. Litvinenko's movements at relevant times. It is probable that the investigation will continue to bring additional locations to our attention for screening.

CHANCE: A former Russian agent who defected to Britain in 2000, Litvinenko died a slow and painful death after being poisoned with high doses of the radioactive isotope, polonium-210. A fierce critic of the Kremlin, he accused the Russian leadership from his deathbed of having him assassinated.

Adding to the intrigue a second Russian has now fallen ill after traveling to Ireland. CNN has learned that a former Russian prime minister, Yegor Gaidar has been hospitalized with mysterious symptoms. Doctors have told Gaidar's daughter that they have yet to determine the exact cause of his illness. But she told CNN that, "I think it is poison but I'm absolutely sure it was not the political authorities who carried it out."

Many Russians believe someone, somewhere is trying to discredit, even destabilize their country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And Matthew Chance joins me now along with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So, Matthew, this story gets stranger by the minute. When will we know if this former prime minister was in fact poisoned with polonium? How long is that going to take?

CHANCE (on camera): Well, Paula, quite frankly we may never know that's the case. Certainly it is the suspicion when anyone gets poisoned in Russia at this stage, all the speculation is rife about these poisonings being related. But certainly the police haven't drawn those links at this stage.

And I think it is important to point out that Alexander Litvinenko, that former spy and this former prime minister, are very different figures indeed, one was a very severe critic of Vladimir Putin, the other one is still an economic adviser to the Kremlin.

ZAHN: And what is that supposed to lead us to believe, then? That if they were targeted, it is for two completely different reasons?

CHANCE: Perhaps or by completely different people. It doesn't seem that there's many things, if you scratch the surface of these two case, the linkages are not necessarily there.

Again, Alexander Litvinenko was this outspoken critic, a fierce opponent of Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin may have had a good motive to kill him. That's not the case with this other former prime minister who as I say, we understand that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has already called him in his hospital bed to wish him a speedy recovery.

ZAHN: Let's talk about how scary this is, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, for the some 33,000 thousands passengers that were know to have traveled on these airliners that were contaminated, 3,000 members of the crew, a help line set up to try to get information from these folks. What is the fear?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems to be - and we've done a lot of research on this over the past few days - that this is mainly a precaution for a few different reasons.

This particular substance is a high energy low penetration substance. So as dangerous as it might be, Paula, interestingly and ironically enough, it even won't pass through your skin, it won't pass through paper, so it would be very hard to actually get it sort of inadvertently, accidentally.

Also if you look at these plane filters, the filters that actually exist on planes, they actually filter the size of 0.3 microns. For a scale of reference, a human hair is about 17 microns. How much of this stuff would it actually take it kill somebody? Well, it would take a few salt shakes worth of polonium, just a little bit, but still a lot more than 0.3 microns.

So for it to actually circulate on a plane, very unlikely. Some of the things that they're going to be looking for though in terms of symptoms for these people are some of the things that Polonium causes, nausea, severe abdominal pain, extreme headaches, diarrhea, loss of appetite and hair loss, very characteristic as we saw with this particular gentleman as well. But I think Paula, this is mainly a precaution.

ZAHN: The weirdest thing about all of this, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is this stuff is found in trace amounts just about everywhere, isn't it?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, it's an element. This is a real element, so it'll probably be there forever. And the testing that they're probably using is very sensitive, so they're really going to find this stuff, and it exists everywhere.

ZAHN: All right doctor, thank you. Matthew Chance, appreciate the update as well.

Our top story in politics is a question that has never come up before in U.S. history. When the first ever Muslim congressman stands up to take the oath of office, should he be using the Bible or the Koran, which he says he wants to? Well one of my next guests says it has to be the Bible, and he will be outraged if it ends up being the Koran a little bit later on tonight.

Tonight's top story across the middle of the country, what a mess. Check out these pictures. Oh yes indeed, old man winter is finally here. We're going to show you where it is really, really bad, and how it is affecting travel all over the country. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Tonight's top story in politics, a controversy of biblical proportion. For the first time ever, voters have elected a Muslim to the House of Representatives. But when the congressman elect was asked if he will take the oath of office using a Bible, he said he'd rather use his faith's own holy book, the Koran. Some people say that's un-American.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: In America today, it is no longer about just smaller government and no taxes, it is about everybody counts, and everybody matters.

ZAHN (voice-over): Keith Ellison made history on election night by becoming the first Muslim ever elected to Congress. The 43-year- old Democrat and Detroit native was raised Catholic, but converted to Islam in college.

ELLISON: My name is Keith Ellison, I'm running for United States Congress.

ZAHN: He's been an attorney, a political activist and a member of the Minnesota legislature. During the campaign, he pointed out that he's neither a cleric nor a religious scholar. But after getting elected with 56 percent of the vote in a racially-diverse Minneapolis district, Ellison said he wanted to use a Koran instead of a Bible when he's sworn in next January.

Both the Constitution itself and the very first law of Congress ever passed back in 1789 require all government officials swear or affirm an oath to protect the Constitution. There's no requirement to use a Bible to administer that oath.

President George Washington on his own used a Bible at his inauguration in 1789, but the next president, John Adams was sworn in using a law book. For more than a century now, presidents have all been sworn in with the Bible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

ZAHN: It is different for members of Congress. They usually take their oath of office twice, first all together on the House floor, during a big opening day ceremony without a Bible.

In a statement to CNN, Ellison says the U.S. Congress will not be changing the swearing in ceremony for Representative Ellison, nor has anyone asked them to.

The most likely place where Ellison would use his Koran would be during the unofficial swearing in photo sessions with the speaker of the House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: The very notion of using the Koran instead of the Bible, even for swearing in, that is nothing more than a photo op has some people really upset, including one of my next guests.

Radio host and columnist Dennis Prager has written that a swearing in using the Koran would undermine the fabric of American civilization. He joins us tonight from Los Angeles, along with UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. And here with me in New York is Daisy Khan, the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancing. Welcome all.

Dennis, I want to start with you tonight and start off by reading a small part of the editorial you wrote, where you said "when all elected officials, take the oath of office, with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed it change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America than the terrorists of 9/11."

How can you charge that someone expressing religious freedom would be causing the kind of damage that the 9/11 terrorists did?

DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO HOST: Well the issue isn't expressing religious freedom. As I also wrote in there, I would fight for his right to worship as a Muslim, to run for Congress as a Muslim. That's not the issue.

The issue is exactly as you put it earlier. What is the book that these people affirm as the central text of American life? Now some people will say the Constitution. But the Constitution derives its legitimacy from that Bible. Secular congressmen have all used the Bible. They don't believe in it.

Mormons do not ask for the book of Mormon. If a scientologist ran, would he ask for Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard)? If a racist ran, would he ask for Mein Kampf? We are starting a very unfortunate further unraveling of the fabric of American life. That's my worry.

ZAHN: Eugene, does the Constitution say anything about using a religion text when being sworn in for Congress?

EUGENE VOLOKH, UCLA LAW PROFESSOR: Well it actually does say a couple of things. First, it doesn't even require congressman to use any religious text or any religious component. It specifically provides that they may affirm, rather than swearing. That was for the benefit of people who have a religious objection to invoking God in an oath.

Quakers were a traditional example. And for example, President Herbert Hoover was sworn in without putting his hand on any book. So already we've departed from Dennis's vision of everybody swearing on the same book.

It also says no religious text shall be used for government office. And when you're required to swear on the book of a religion that is different from you, not traditionally you've done it, that would be an impermissible religious test. More importantly, the purpose of an oath....

ZAHN: ... OK, we've just lost Eugene. A quick reaction, Dennis from you, before we hear from Daisy?

PRAGER: Well, there's no religious test. The issue is what is the work that he wishes that we wish to affirm as our central text? There's no religious test. I want Muslims to run for office, I want atheists, I want Buddhists. It is no religious test of Keith Ellison. It is what decision does he wish to convey? What message to the American people? Do our values derive from the Bible or from the Koran? That is to me, the question. No religious test of Keith Ellison.

ZAHN: Does this show a disregard, do you think, on Mr. Prager's part for Muslims, Daisy?

DAISY KHAN, MUSLIM ADVANCEMENT OF SOCIETY: Well, I think the foundational values of America, our freedom of religion and freedom to express your religion and to practice in the way that you see your values. And I think what is important is this is a very proud moment for Americans, American Muslims and all Americans, and I think it is sad that somebody would try to ruin this moment for all of us by trying...

PRAGER: Am I ruining it for Mormons when I cite that Mormons don't use the "Book of Mormon". I'm not ruining -- I don't want to ruin it for anyone. I want to keep Americans united on one, basic thing. We are endowed by our creator with certain fundamental rights.

KHAN: And that is...

VOLOKH: That's not the purpose of an oath. The purpose of an oath is not affirm the correctness of the book that you use. The purpose of using a book is to invoke God as your witness and as a means of firming up your resolve to abide by the oath.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But Eugene, let me close with a final quote from Mr. Prager's editorial.

Let me close with this. Hang on, gentlemen, for one moment.

He says, "America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress."

Eugene?

VOLOKH: Well, for starters, the Constitution specifically says that you may refuse to use any book for. You may refuse even to give an oath. You may affirm. That's what Herbert Hoover did. Justice Goldberg, a Jewish Supreme Court Justice...

PRAGER: Herbert Hoover had a Bible.

VOLOKH: He affirmed. He didn't even swear an oath...

PRAGER: Herbert Hoover did. He just didn't swear by it, because I believe he was a Quaker. That's a very different story.

VOLOKH: Justice Goldberg used the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible.

PRAGER: Justice Goldberg used Old Testament, which is part of the American Bible.

(CROSSTALK)

VOLOKH: What you're saying about you have to use the same book...

ZAHN: Daisy, you get the final word tonight as we close out this...

VOLOKH: .. is already being violated.

KHAN: Well, I'm saying that America is great, and we have to uphold America's greatest values, which is coming together of all. You know, we're a multi-cultural, multi-religious society and we have to work together to create a good society. There are eight million Muslims in America now, 25 million Muslims living all over the West.

ZAHN: I understand. But you're saying he should be able to take the oath office on the Koran?

KHAN: Absolutely, because -- because, you know, an oath is something that is very important. And I think it's -- I think it's -- I think it's his integrity that he's speaking from, not a lack of integrity. And I think we should -- we should really...

ZAHN: We've got to leave it there. Sorry to have to cut you off. Commercial's ready to take us off the air.

Here's Daisy Khan, Eugene Volokh, Dennis Prager. Appreciate your time.

Tonight's top story is a weather story. It caught an awful lot of people by surprise all over the country. They were traveling by road or air but weren't going anywhere, thanks to some late autumn ice and a huge snowstorm.

Are you going to get hit next? Stay with us for the latest forecast. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Top story across a major part of the country tonight, the first wintry blast that is paralyzing cities with sleet and snow. What a mess out there. It rolled out of the Rockies, icing roads, canceling hundreds and hundreds of flights. Tonight, winter storm warnings stretch across the Midwest and the worst may still be ahead. Sean Callebs standing by in St. Louis, Ed Lavendera in Chicago. Meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is standing by at the Weather Center in Atlanta.

Let's get started with Sean Callebs, where temperatures there were near 70 degrees just the other day.

How bad is out there tonight? You look cold.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If conditions here were a few degrees cooler, St. Louis would be buried in snow right now. A few degrees warmer, and all this slush that you see in the street right now, simply wouldn't be a problem.

Now this is a storm, a very large, punishing storm stretching from Texas, it's going to hit all the way into southern Illinois. People in this area have known it is coming. The question is, just how bad is it going to be.

We were out at the St. Louis Lambert Airport earlier today and watched every major carrier, United, American, Delta, cancel flight after flight after flight. The reason -- the airport's only about 15 miles to the west of us.

But there was about a four degree difference in temperature, so they were getting freezing rain there as fast as they could de-ice the planes. It simply wasn't fast enough, so they did what they could and they canceled all the flights basically coming out of there, today. Paula, just a nasty situation here.

ZAHN: I used to live in that part of the country. I know how bad it can get. Sean, thanks.

Let's move on to Ed Lavendera in Chicago, which could get a lot of snow tonight, her place where I lived. We got kind of used to that, too. But this is a big one for this early in the season, isn't it?

ED LAVENDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Residents here are bracing for what could be a snowstorm that dumps 12 inches of snow. And one of the ways the city of Chicago is getting ready to deal with this -- this isn't snow. This is a stockpile of salt, 390,000 tons of salt that will be taken on the roadways if needed. There are about 300 trucks dispersed across the region, ready to dump this on the roadways if needed. So people here are bracing for what could be a very treacherous commute in the morning.

The snowstorm, expected to start reaching in here into the wee hours of the morning and continue throughout the day. So, as the city of Chicago says, they're ready. They've got these trucks dispersed across region and hoping that the situation on the roadways won't be dangerous.

Remember, this is -- as soon as the snow starts falling, anywhere between six to 12 inches, is what forecasters here are expecting. So it could be a long night and morning here in Chicago. ZAHN: Probably a day of playing in the snow for the kids who probably aren't going to have school tomorrow.

Ed Lavendera, thanks.

We're going to get a big picture on the storm now from our meteorologist Reynolds Wolf, who's standing by in our Weather Center in Atlanta.

So where does the storm system move next?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it is going to be making its way to the Northeast. We're expecting scattered snow showers to continue through parts of Oklahoma. And as we follow this chain of snowfall back up into Kansas City and over to St. Louis, we're going to have a combination of ice as well as snow.

Now, Chicago for the time being looks pretty good. They're not getting a whole lot now. But as we make our way into the morning hours, we're really expecting that to change.

In fact, take a look, if you will, at our computer models. They indicate we're expecting quite a bit of snowfall from parts of Oklahoma, back through Missouri. Some places, Paula, possibly up to 20 inches of snowfall.

To be a bit more specific, though, in places like Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City, just take a look at these numbers. Chicago, anywhere from eight to 12 inches of snowfall. St. Louis, ice switching to heavy snow by early morning hours, anywhere from three to eight inches. With Kansas City, anywhere from four to six.

So think about that, Paula, eight to 12 inches of snowfall on the Dan Ryan Expressway tomorrow morning in Chicago. I mean, that's already a rough road to ride on in any rush hour. But with snow it's going to be a headache for a lot of people, no question about it.

ZAHN: One inch and you're almost paralyzed on the Dan Ryan.

WOLF: Now question.

ZAHN: Reynolds Wolf, I shouldn't remind all those folks it was almost 70 degrees here today. That's not so bad. We wish them luck as they battle it through.

LARRY KING LIVE, coming up in a few minutes.

Hi Larry. How are you doing tonight?

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: My dear Paula, how are you?

ZAHN: I'm good, thanks. Who's joining you tonight?

KING: In the opening portions of the program, we're going to follow the story of the accident at Sea World where this whale took on a trainer. And then man who says New Jersey's gay ex-governor lied when he called him his lover. And he's got plenty more to say in his first nation-wide TV interview.

And Jack Hanna and Sea World's animal ambassador will be aboard as well, on that terrifying incident.

It's all right ahead at nine Eastern, six Pacific, immediately following the lovely, more than lovely, and talented Paula Zahn.

ZAHN: Well thank you, Larry, how nice of you.

KING: I mean it.

ZAHN: I'll be watching it, nine minutes from now. Thank you.

So if money were no object and you had all the time in the world, what would you do? Well coming up, you might be surprised at one of the investors of personal computers and what he is doing with that same opportunity. You'll see when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back, a quick biz break.

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

ZAHN: Now if you had helped invent the personal computer, how would you spend your fortune? Jen Rogers shows us how one inventor is answering that question in tonight's "Life After Work."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEN ROGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steve Wozniak and Steve John co-founded Apple Computers three decades ago, revolutionizing the computer industry and becoming very rich along the way.

STEVE WOZNIAK, CO-FOUNDER, APPLE: Yes, it was way too much.

ROGERS: As his bank account grew, so did Wozniak's desire to do something else.

WOZNIAK: I had way, way more that you could ever use in life. I wanted to go out early and just starting doing some good things, that make me feel good about myself.

ROGERS: Wozniak left his full-time job at Apple in the '80s and went back to college. He produced music festivals, funded a children's museum, and even underwrote the local ballet. He eventually focused his philanthropy on education, providing computers to schools. Soon he started teaching and found giving his time more rewarding than giving money.

WOZNIAK: I like to do things hand-on. I didn't want to write classes and publish a book for 100,000 people. What I wanted to do was touch 30 kids.

ROGERS: His philosophy in teaching as well as life is have fun. This attitude on display at a recent signing for his new book "iWoz" at New York's 92nd Street Y has won him a loyal following. He continues to give to charities but says his resources aren't what they used to be.

WOZNIAK: What I have left gets smaller and smaller because I wanted it to be smaller.

ROGERS: Wozniak says he never wanted to be defined by wealth, which may be why he's had so much fun giving it away. Jen Rogers, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: What a great guy.

Just minutes away from the top of the hour, LARRY KING LIVE. Tonight Larry goes one on one with Golan Cipel, the alleged other man in the sex scandal that forced former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey right out of office.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for joining us.

Tomorrow night, we're going to take a closer look at that poisonous radioactive substance used in that international spy mystery. As it turns out, you can actually buy Polonium over the Internet. How is that stuff any different from the Polonium suspected of killing a former spy and perhaps even contaminating an ex-prime minister from Russia?

We're going to look at that and a whole lot more tomorrow night. In the meantime, we hope you'll stay with CNN throughout the night. We'll have weather updates on the horrible weather pattern that's socking the Midwest. And until tomorrow night, we hope you have a good rest of the night again. Thanks for dropping by and spending some time with us here tonight. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts in just about three seconds.

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

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