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Democratic Opposition to Surge in U.S. Troop Strength Growing; Behind the Rescue

Aired January 8, 2007 - 07:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Rains in the East Coast triggering flood watches right now. While overnight, near Atlanta, a suspected tornado wipes out a neighborhood knocking down trees on top of homes and trapping some kids at a birthday party.
In Colorado a massive avalanche on U.S. Highway 40 is now clear. Everyone buried in it accounted for. Highway crews are using canons to trigger controlled slides to control the threat there, before another major storm expected to hit the Rockies this week, where there could be more avalanche troubles. The fourth major storm in four weeks is on the way there.

Full coverage with Gary Tuchman in Moreland, Georgia, Rob Marciano in Berthoud Pass, Colorado and our Severe Weather Expert Chad Myers at the CNN Center with an overview of all that. Let's begin with Gary and what happened south of Atlanta.

Gary, good morning.


Severe weather here is what they had here. This gas station/convenience store one of the property casualties of what appears to be a tornado that came through here last night.

The amazing part about that is this is the month of January. Usually in a state like Georgia, where we are, or Alabama or South Carolina, if you are doing a weather story in Georgia in January you are talking about a snowstorm, an ice storm. You're not talking about tornadoes, but they've had two tornadoes, it appears, in the last three days in this county alone, Coweta County, Georgia, which is about 40 miles south of Atlanta.

They had one on Friday, an F-1. There were no serious injuries. No one killed. Fortunately, that is the case this time. No one killed, no serious injuries, but lots of scary moments. There were many people who were trapped because of the heavy, big trees that collapsed near their homes. At least five homes, perhaps as many as 20. It's still hard to tell because it's dark, and officials don't have a final count, but many homes have been damaged.

There was a birthday party going on, according to one fire official we talked with, inside one of the homes when the trees all came down, when all hell broke loose, as he said. Fortunately, all the kids were able to be rescued safely. They weren't hurt. The house wasn't destroyed, it was just the trees that were surrounding them, they couldn't get out, but they got them all out. Another 14-year-old teenager was trapped in his bathtub, when his house partially collapsed, but he, too, is OK. It was a very frightening night here in Coweta County.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got in the center room in the house. It was the bathroom. All the walls caved in except those four. I felt like I had God's hands over that ceiling. There was nothing else there. Everything is gone.


TUCHMAN: They really are very lucky here in this county. It's so unusual. They can go a couple of years without getting any tornadoes here, and here in the month of January two tornadoes in three days.

Right now, officials are out on the scene just behind us on the streets there clearing up hundreds of trees that have collapsed, making sure nobody is hurt, but so far they only have good news to report, that there are no fatalities and no serious injuries. Miles, back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Not what people would expect at this time of year there, for sure.

TUCHMAN: Miles, it's so unusual. Like I'm saying, you feel like this whole year has been very strange in the winter, in the East Coast, and this is just another element of that strangeness.

Gary Tuchman, south of Atlanta, thank you. Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Talk about strange. The weekend was so warm in the Northeast corridor. Now, well, we're in for it. Heavy rain and flooding for the a.m. rush hour. Severe weather expert Chad Myers is in for us this morning.


S. O'BRIEN: Of course, out West the big weather worry is snow and more snow and the ongoing threat, as Chad says, of more avalanches. Let's go to Rob Marciano. He is in Berthoud Pass, in Colorado, where a massive slide buried a bunch of cars over the weekend.

Good morning, Rob.


It was big. It was huge. And it happened on this road, Highway 40, at Berthoud Pass, which for all intents and purposes is a busy mountain highway. People come to Colorado this time of year because it is a serious powder hound paradise. When you get a slide like this coming down the mountain, the people are trying to get up to the hill, that paradise can quickly turn into a living hell. Look behind me. Obviously heavy equipment has been brought in to clear this road, but you can see the cut in this 15 to 20 foot high wall of snow that came crashing down this mountain burying the cars that were on this road, taking two off the cliff to my right and down the steep ravine. Nobody was killed. Unbelievable to think that.

People here certainly respect the snow. We talked to some people who are going -- went up the mountain yesterday. They'll do it again today. They say just kind of happens. As a matter of fact, this is an area that is prone to slides.

Talked to an avalanche forecaster yesterday; he said that it's pretty easy to determine where the slides are going to occur, but when and how much, that is a difficult situation. They were out here a couple of days ago to -- to mitigate or to alleviate some of the slide slides. Let's go to the prepared package.


MARCIANO (voice over): The Rocky Mountains in winter. Paradise for powder hounds and back country skiers. But after three huge storms in the last two weeks, avalanches can quickly make that paradise a living hell.

A 15-foot-high wave of snow crashed down Berthoud Pass sweeping this car off a cliff Saturday. This van took the same ride, but remains hundreds of feet down the ravine. Miraculously no one was killed. But it's a sobering reminder to those heading up the hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see the signs on the highway, on the way up. No stopping, avalanche danger, and that slide happened between two of those signs.

MARCIANO: Fresh snow, a tight chute, and steep incline make it pretty easy to determine where an avalanche will occur. They typically happen in the same place over and over. Trying to forecast when a slide will happen, is difficult business.

Stewart Schaefer is an avalanche forecaster. He tells highway crews and ski patrollers where the most dangerous spots are likely to be.

(On camera): What was the main reason for that slide over at Berthoud Pass?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one knows yet, to tell you the truth. I'm not sure we're going to find out very fast.

MARCIANO (voice over): Schaefer himself has been caught in an avalanche or two.

(On camera): What did that feel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt very frightening, and, fortunately, I managed to extricate myself from one, and run out of the way of the other one. MARCIANO: What kind of advice would you give -- do you give, to people who go play in the back country?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Know the slope you are skiing. Get a good forecast in the morning before you go out there. Don't just assume that because you have been on this slope before, you won't slide. Always understand that when you are dealing with avalanche-prone snow, no matter how sure you think you are, you are taking a risk.

MARCIANO: A risk many feel is worth taking.


MARCIANO: That risk will be considerable to high above tree line level today. Winds gusting over 90 miles per hour. High wind warnings are up. For that reason northeast and east facing slopes will be under the gun for avalanche threats today, and tomorrow. Getting better the day after that, but another storm, as Chad mentioned, coming into the southern Rockies as we head closer to the weekend.

Soledad, back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Rob. Thank you very much for the update.


M. O'BRIEN: Turning now to Iraq. Details overnight about President Bush's new strategy that he will unveil in a primetime address to the nation on Wednesday. Here's what we know this morning.

The plan is not final. It is expected, however, to call for 20,000 additional troops to Iraq, most to Baghdad, perhaps in phases.

CNN has also learned the plan will include a new emphasis on reconstruction. In particular, a jobs program, a kind of New Deal that will cost at least $1 billion. New leaders of Congress already sounding an alarm about the plan.

Meanwhile, in Iraq the violence continues. The Pentagon confirming two more American soldiers are dead after separate attacks yesterday, and today, at least four Iraqi civilians dead after gunmen ambushed the bus they were riding in, in Baghdad.

We have complete coverage for you this morning. American morning's Bob Franken in Washington and Elaine Quijano standing by at the White House. We begin with Elaine.

Good morning, Elaine.


Sources familiar with President Bush's deliberations tell CNN that over the weekend White House speech writers worked around the clock on President Bush's address on Iraq, and that over the next couple of days the president will be reworking and retooling that address.

Now, as you noted, the sources say that the plan is not final yet, but say that there are definitely areas that have been widely agreed upon. And they include sending some 20,000 U.S. troops to Baghdad, possibly other areas. Also, expanding the training of Iraqi forces.

And on the economic side, a jobs program costing about $1 billion, as well as a focus on reconstruction, as you noted. Specifically, beefing up teams to coordinate local reconstruction with Iraqi companies.

On the political side, we can expect President Bush, as well, to talk about Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. And talk about having faith in him to deal with the sectarian violence. And, Miles, we are expecting president to unveil his new Iraq strategy midweek -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Elaine Quijano, at the White House. Appreciate that.

Newly empowered Democrats are already sounding a warning about this new plan. American morning's Bob Franken, joining us now with a look at that.

How much trouble would this plan face on the Hill, Bob?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Well, it's certainly going to face more trouble than it did when the Republicans were controlling Congress. Now, the new Democratic leaders are well aware that under the Constitution the commander in chief, the president, does have the power to determine where troops will be stationed.

But Congress has the power of the purse, and the Democrats are saying that they're going to walk a fine line, but the president could get some serious, serious opposition on funding the new troops. That was hinted at by the new speaker of the House.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: If the president chooses to escalate the war in his budget request, we want to see a distinction between what is there, to support the troops, who are there now. The American people and the Congress support those troops. We will not abandon them.

But if the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have to justify it, and this is new for him, because up until now the Republican Congress has given him a blank check, with no oversight, no standards, no conditions. And we've gone into this situation, which is a war without end, which the American people have rejected.


FRANKEN: Now, for Republicans in Congress this is a bit of a quandary. They are well aware that the voters in November said they want the United States out of Iraq, and here they're facing a president who, in the critics' words, will be escalating things.

The Republicans are all over the place. Most of them fall into, let's just see exactly what the president proposes. Some, like Republican Lindsey Graham, say this is a good thing to do, when it's combined with the other facets of the president's program that are about to be announced this week. Other Republicans are saying if the Democrats overstep, they're ready to take a political advantage of that. And let us not forget, Miles, that in Washington everything has a political facet.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, you think? Bob Franken, as always, with the news flash from Washington. Thank you.


S. O'BRIEN: Some very tense moments at the Port of Miami on Sunday. Authorities detained three Middle Eastern men after a routine inspection of a cargo truck. Turns out, though, a miscommunication, not terrorism, triggered the security alert. CNN's Susan Candiotti live in Miami for us this morning.

Good morning, Susan.


In many ways this was a no-brainer. A driver pulls up to the Port of Miami, a port security officer sees that is he has no license. Apparently game over. But, because of a language problem that compounded the issue over exactly who was inside the truck, well, things quickly escalated.


LT. NANCY GOLDBERG, MIAMI DADE POLICE: After a thorough investigation, we are here to tell you that the Port of Miami is safe.

CANDIOTTI: A truck driver without the right port-issued I.D. threw security into overdrive early Sunday morning, but in the end the driver, his brother, and another relative, one of the two carried no identification at all, were cleared by federal Homeland Security. And their cargo?

GOLDBERG: The contents matched the manifest. The 40-foot container was, in fact, transporting electrical, automotive parts.

CANDIOTTI: Authorities say the driver told a guard at the port's entrance he was alone. But other law enforcement sources say that may have been a miscommunication. It turns out two other men were in the back of the cab apparently out of view. The container was X-rayed, checked for radioactivity, and cleared.

Sunday is a busy day for cruise ships coming and going, but none of that traffic was affected. Nor were cargo operations thrown off. In the end, authorities say, their security procedures worked, and it started with catching an improper I.D. The men are illegal U.S. residents and live in Dearborn, Michigan.


CANDIOTTI: As of late last night the three men were still being detained, but just for questioning. No federal charges were anticipated, and we expect an update sometime this morning -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Susan Candiotti at Miami for us this morning. Thank you, Susan.


M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, heavy rain in the Northeast and more snow out West? Chad has your Monday morning forecast.

And, well, the Big Three roll out their cars of the future. A look at a former autoworker's struggle to bounce back after those layoffs this past year. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning, right here.


S. O'BRIEN: New developing stories we're following for you this morning. Tornadoes flatten homes outside of Atlanta. Hundreds of people are without power this morning.

And federal investigators are now on the scene of a subway derailment in Washington; 60 people had to be rescued from the tunnel, 20 went to the hospital, mostly with minor injuries.

It is 16 minutes past it is hour. Let's get a check of the "Travelers' Forecast". Chad is at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta.


M. O'BRIEN: If you're a hiker, sailor, or just a worried parent, you need to listen up for a moment. There is some new technology out there that could save you or your loved one's life. We're talking about some cool tracking devices that can help rescuers get to people in trouble, inside the so-called golden day, that is when they're most likely to survive, at all. CNN's Jacki Schechner is here with a look at that technology.

Good morning, Jacki.


Well, we'll start with the good old cell phone. Obviously, you are going to want to have a cell phone if you're going to be out and about. If you have a cell phone with a GPS locater system on it, that's always a good sign. People can help find you that way. You can download software onto your cell phone that will turn it into a GPS. That way people can find you. What happens if the battery runs out? Or if for some reason you hit a dead spot -- we know that can certainly happen.

M. O'BRIEN: Certainly if you are hiking or sailing that's a possibility, too.

SCHECHNER: Of course.

M. O'BRIEN: So, you have another option.

SCHECHNER: So, some of the options are something called an EPIRB. I love that name. EPIRB, it's called the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, EPIRB.

M. O'BRIEN: You feel like you should say excuse me, every time you say that, right? EPIRB.


SCHECHNER: I love it. It's a small device. You have it on a boat. This is the marine tracking device. You have it on you boat, you can activate it two ways. Either you flip a switch and you activate it, or if it is submerged in water, it will self-activate.

This thing will send out a beacon, it sends it out to a satellite, they can pick it up. That satellite will go back to a tracking station, and they can find out where you are. This is a very quick way of finding you.

We know in the case of Ken Barnes, the sailor who was lost off the coast of Chile, they found him in about 30 minutes. That made it pretty easy to get to him quickly, or at least to try to find out where he was. We knew very early on, we had pictures of him out there. They could assess the damage and they could get to him.

M. O'BRIEN: And it transmits to a satellite and then goes to the Coast Guard and on up.

SCHECHNER: Right. The second side of it is if you are on land, if you're hiking, you can have something smaller called a personal locator beacon, a PLB. It is about the size of remote control. So, it's not heavy, it's not hard to carry. You can activate that yourself.

There are two types of these. There is one that will send the satellite beacon, like you can on the water. There is another one that has a GPS on it, and that can get you in even closer. It's something like two miles when you -- not you, Miles -- but two miles lengths. Two miles that can get you without the GPS, with the GPS they can get as close as 100 yards. So, within the course of a football field, this is as close as you can get with these things.

Now, one key. You got to register these devices with NOAA. You register them, you give them all your personal information, your personal contact information. That will help them get to you to find out, A, that it's not a false alarm, that are you actually out on the water, you are out hiking. And it will help them figure out where you might be. Maybe, you have given some sort of plan or some sort of a float plan. These are the kinds of things can you do, you track them.

And I love this quote. NOAA said to me, this really takes the search out of search and rescue. It really takes one step out of it, and they can get to you faster in case of emergencies.

M. O'BRIEN: And the problem with false alarms is big. So, this new technology, which is digital, and allows -- it sort of has caller I.D. on the transmission, it really helps, doesn't it?

SCHECHNER: Yes, it is really essentially caller I.D. You know exactly who is calling, where from, and they can get them to you much more quickly than before.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Jacki. Thank you very much.

SCHECHNER: Any time.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Always good to get the search out of the search and rescue, and go right to the rescue is what I say. I like that.


Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING Ali Velshi is in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. While Ford looks to the future, got an update on some of the workers the company is leaving behind.

And then, a look at the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Back where it all began in Montgomery, Alabama. Our special series begins this morning on AMERICAN MORNING. We're back in a moment.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody. Developing news this morning, new pictures from Iraq. At least four people dead after a gunmen ambush a bus in Baghdad. It happened overnight.

And President Bush is declaring a disaster area for 57 counties in Nebraska after recent ice and snowstorms.

Coming up on 25 minutes past the hour. Time for "Minding Your Business" and a quick check on Wall Street; the Dow opens the week at 12,398; down more than 82 points on Friday. The Nasdaq starts off at 2,434, off 19 points, and the S&P 500 down more than 8 points to open at 1,409.

M. O'BRIEN: Gear heads rejoice. It is auto show time in Detroit. Over the next two weeks carmakers will unveil more than 45 new models. It will be all those cool concept cars. If you are into cars, you'll be drooling a little bit.

Reporters are getting a sneak peek as we speak. Among them are intrepid business maven Ali Velshi. ALI VELSHI, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING (on camera): There is a lot of excitement at this year's auto show. And there is a lot of concern about the future of the auto industry.

This is the Ford Edge. It was introduced last year by Ford as part of its "Way Forward", the restructuring of the company. Cars like the Edge might be part of Ford's future, but it didn't come soon enough for a lot of Ford workers.

(Voice over): It was almost a year ago, to the day, that Ford announced its layoffs. Some 30,000 workers at nine plants across North America. After the early morning announcement at Ford headquarters, I drove to nearby Wixom, Michigan, site of one of the doomed factories. In the parking lot there, I met Darrell Hoffman, a 28-year Ford veteran.

DARRELL HOFFMAN, FMR. FORD WORKER: You got a lot of family here. You know, a lot of friends.

VELSHI: Because of his seniority Darrell was able to keep his job at Ford. Instead, like about 75,000 other Ford and General Motors employees, he took a buyout package, one that gave him health benefits and a pension for life. Ford offered him some money for job retraining. Darrell got his commercial truck driver's license.

(On camera): So this is your past, this is your history.


VELSHI: This could be your future?

HOFFMAN: Yeah, absolutely.

VELSHI (voice over): Over nearly three decades Darrell watched Ford, GM and Chrysler lose market share to Japanese carmakers, who could build cheaper cars than the Big Three could. He even did his part to save Ford money by cutting large rags into smaller pieces for his paint shop.

HOFFMAN: I would cut them into strips of five, and I would hand them out like that, and people look at me like, man, what are you doing, you're crazy.

VELSHI: But it wasn't enough, and even though his job was spared, for a while, he decided to leave while he still had a chance to start a new career. Still, a year later he chose to wear the Ford name on his chest over his wife's objections.

HOFFMAN: She told me not to wear it today, but I'm still a part of Ford Motor Company. They are going to pay for us, health benefits, retirement, as long as I live. I -- I -- I respect that.

VELSHI (on camera): So Ford goes into 2007 not just with fewer workers, but it also loses its title as the second biggest American auto seller. Toyota gets that. What Ford does have going for it is this amazing design. This legacy of design in things like the Mustang, but moms don't drive Mustangs. Somehow Ford has to take that and translate it into its other cars. If it can do that, it might win back a lot of its customers.


M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much. I think Soledad wants that Mustang,

S. O'BRIEN: Moms definitely could drive a Mustang. Those Mustangs are hot. I'm a mom. I want a Mustang.

M. O'BRIEN: Aha, a Mustang. That would be great to park, right in front of the apartment in Chelsea.

S. O'BRIEN: Can't fit the kids in it.

M. O'BRIEN: You come out, it will be on cinder blocks.

Later this hour, Ali will be back with more from Detroit. A look at the car and truck of the year.

S. O'BRIEN: A look at the top stories in the morning coming up next. News overnight about President Bush's new war strategy, including just how many more U.S. troops might be headed to Iraq, and a new idea to help Iraqis.

You are watching the most news in the morning right here on CNN.




M. O'BRIEN: With Congress and the nation awaiting the president's new plan for Iraq, Democratic opposition to a surge in U.S. troop strength is growing increasingly evident.

CNN's Elaine Quijano live at the White House with more.

Good morning, Elaine.


Well, democrats started pushing back forcefully on the idea of a U.S. troop surge for Iraq late last week, days before President Bush's expected unveiling of his new Iraq policy.


QUIJANO (voice-over): President Bush hasn't announced his retooled Iraq plan yet, but Democratic leaders are already warning they could use the power of the purse to hold the president accountable, if he decides to increase the number of U.S. forces in Baghdad. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: If the president wants to expand the mission, that's a conversation he has to have with the Congress of the United States, but there's not a carte blanche, blank check to him, to do whatever he wishes there.

QUIJANO: Democrats are seeking to cast a surge as an escalation of the unpopular Iraq war, but a senior Bush administration official says the White House views the potential surge as part of a broader political and economic strategy, a sentiment meant to answer concerns expressed by some skeptical fellow Republicans.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MINORITY WHIP: I want a plan. I want to know how the surge will occur, what will be the numbers, what will they do, what do they hope to achieve.

QUIJANO: Adding to the debate, President Bush's decision to change military leadership in Iraq. Some Democrats charge the president is replacing his generals there, John Abizaid and George Casey, because they disagree with him on a troop surge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Looking at it from my perspective, it looks like the president went shopping for a general who agreed with him.

QUIJANO: The White House calls that inaccurate. Some Republicans agree, saying Lieutenant General David Petraeus is the right man to lead in Iraq.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: General Petraeus represents the best hope in this country to start over. He believes that a surge in troops will be effective and necessary, when co-joined with political realignment and new efforts by the Iraqi government.


QUIJANO: Now sources familiar with President bush's deliberations tell CNN that White House speech writers worked around the clock this weekend on that address, and that over the next couple of days the president will be reworking that. The plan is expected to be unveiled midweek -- Miles.

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

More on the changes at the top and the likelihood there will be more U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq. Will that all turn the tide in Iraq?

Joining us from Washington, former NATO commander, retired Army General George Joulwan.

General Joulwan, good to have you back on the program.


M. O'BRIEN: I want to share with you an interview with Senator John McCain. He is a person who has come out very forcefully against this notion of a short-term surge. Let's listen to him for just a moment.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The worst of all worlds would be a small, short surge of U.S. forces.


M. O'BRIEN: That was quick, but there you have it. I think there was a little technical snafu. You got the gist, though. He is very much against this notion of a short-term surge. What do you think?

JOULWAN: Well, I think that's what we have to wait and see in the president's speech. We've heard all kinds of rumors here. Will the surge be incremental (ph)? In other words, will it be 20,000 infused immediately. Will it be done over a long period of time? Will it be for a short duration, as some are saying, for a few months? Or will it be for a longer period of time? Those need to be answered.

We need a long-term strategy, in my opinion, for Iraq. I talk in terms of five or 10 years. Not that you need 140,000 U.S. troops for that length of time, but you need to have a strategy that takes you out to that timeframe to give the Iraqis a chance to be able to govern themselves.

M. O'BRIEN: What could 20,000 troops on the ground, focused on Baghdad, a huge city -- I think six million-plus people -- what could they possibly do in the short-term?

JOULWAN: In the short-term I think you could have some shorted- term success. However, you have to take into account an enemy that is very adaptable, and our commanders have found that out.

And so I'm skeptical. That's why i've got to wait and see how the president articulates the mission. If it's going to be clear block by block by block, that's going to be high risk in terms of U.S. troops, and I'm not sure 20,000 troops will make a difference.

M. O'BRIEN: The outgoing commander, General John Abizaid, is among those who has gone on record as saying that more troops may not be the answer. Let's listen to what he had to say back in November of this past year.


GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: I do not believe that more American troops right now is the solution to the problem. I believe that the troop levels need to stay where they are. We need to put more American capacity into Iraqi units.


M. O'BRIEN: Abizaid is out now. George Casey is out. New leadership there. How will that potentially change the way the brass is thinking? JOULWAN: Well, first of all, Abizaid has been coming out for a year now, so just because there's a difference of views, Miles, we give our best military advice to our political leaders. They then make the political decision on which way to go. Abizaid is giving his best military advice. So are others. How the president dissects all of that and incorporates that into his thinking, that's why he is the commander in chief. He is accountable, as well as the military commanders are accountable.

M. O'BRIEN: These new commanders, General David Petraeus, Admiral William Fallon, are they perhaps better schooled, more attune to dealing with the counterinsurgency.

JOULWAN: First of all, it's much more of a sectarian fight than a counterinsurgency. But Petraeus is certainly well-schooled in that, has written the latest manual on it, but so is Abizaid, and, to a degree, Casey. Fallon comes from a combat and command in the Pacific command. He's very well schooled in the art of what has to happen in terms of strategy on the ground.

So I think you're going to see, hopefully, a comprehensive plan here that includes not just boots on the ground, but what happens in the wider region, what happens in reconstruction. Stuff we should have done three or four years ago, we're going to try to do it now under much more difficult circumstances.

But the wider view, the wider comprehensive view, not just pulling the military trigger all the time, but diplomacy, economic, diplomatic, and political factors need to be incorporated into this plan. If not, I'm concerned that 20,000 troops aren't going to make much of a difference.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, let's have you back after the speech and see what you think. Retired General George Joulwan, thanks as always for being with us -- Soledad.

JOULWAN: My pleasure.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, much more on that violent weather across the country from snowstorms to devastating tornadoes. Severe weather expert Chad Myers has your morning forecast for you.

And the going gets tough for Prince William's girlfriend. The royal family's battle with paparazzi. Straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning, right here on CNN.




M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, that American sailor rescued on the high seas is one step closer to a family reunion. We'll update you on his journey home. What a story, huh? And Ali Velshi in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show with this year's car and truck of the year. It's good news for the folks in the Motor City. We'll explain, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: He was lost at sea for three days while attempting a solo sail around the world. Now American Ken Barnes is back on terra firma, recovering from his ordeal at a hospital in Chile. We're getting some new details about the storm that nearly killed him.

AMERICAN MORNING's Chris Lawrence has our story.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An American sailor adrift at sea is now one step closer to home.

KEN BARNES, RESCUED SAILOR: Under the circumstances, things could have been worse.

LAWRENCE: Ken Barnes was rescued by a shipping vessel and then brought ashore by the Chilean navy. He survived a storm that destroyed his steering, engine, and mast, and left him stranded for three days.

BARNES: When the boat rolled 360 degrees, it happened really fast.

LAWRENCE: Barnes left California in late October, trying to fulfill his dream of sailing around the world. He hit the storm two months later, off the southern tip of South America.

BARNES: Gust of wind, the breaking waves, the size of the waves, the angles to the waves, everything came together to conspire against my plans all at one time.

LAWRENCE: Barnes used a satellite phone to call home to get help. And his emergency beacon helped other boats find him in the middle of the ocean.

BRITTNEY BARNES, DAUGHTER OF KEN BARNES: It's sad that he didn't make it all the way, but at least he tried his best, and he can't predict the weather. He was a good -- he is a good sailor, and he was well prepared. You just can't predict the weather, and it's bad down there past Cape Horn, so.

LAWRENCE: Doctors in Chile expect Barnes to fully recover from an infected gash to his leg. Tuesday morning he'll fly to California, where his girlfriend and family are ready to celebrate.

CATHY CHAMBERS, GIRLFRIEND OF KEN BARNES: But I won't feel that until he is in this house.

LAWRENCE: If everything goes as planned, that celebration won't have to wait much longer.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Los Angeles.


S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, the fight for Iraq. Are more U.S. troops the answer? We'll take you live to Washington for the battle over a new strategy.

Plus, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and how those words changed a nation. CNN was given rare access to Dr. King's private papers and writings.

AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning, right here on CNN.

We're back in just a moment.


M. O'BRIEN: The big auto show revving up today in Detroit. And for those of you keeping score at home, a couple of big wins for the hometown team.

Ali Velshi managed to get this junket -- I mean assignment.


ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Now you know, you have to go all the way back to 1998 to the last time a General Motors car won the North American car of the year. That was the Corvette back then. But this year's North American car of the year for 2007 is this. It's the Saturn Aura. This car's only been on the market for a few months, and it was up against some tough competition. The Toyota Camry was up for the same award, an award Its won before.

Now this year, General Motors gets the car of the year and the truck of the year. The Chevy Silverado won that award. So what's been a very, very tough year for General Motors in 2006 ends with some good news, that in 2007 they've got the car and truck of the year.

Now, that said, on the truck side, it's unclear what that's going to do for the company. But in terms of the Saturn Aura, this is not a name that has been as widely known as the Chevy Silverado. This could actually help the company a great deal. It could certainly help Saturn out a great deal in terms of sales.

Now, 2007 is going to be a tough year for the parent company. Most people believe that Toyota is going to take over as the No. 1 automaker in the entire world. Not here in the United States. General Motors and its group still has a commanding lead, but it is going to be a tough year. GM is going to will have to fight all the way through this year to at least keep most of its reputation intact. It needs to sell more cars.

So for General Motors, this year's North American International Auto Show started with some good news about this award. North American car of the year for 2007 is the Saturn Aura. North American truck of the year for 2007 is the Chevy Silver Silverado.


M. O'BRIEN: Ali Velshi in Detroit, thanks.



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