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CNN NEWSROOM

Insurgent Hotspot Under Attack in Baghdad; U.S. Air Strikes Aimed at al Qaeda in Somalia; Malibu Fire; Apple Unveils iPhone; Cindy Morgan Discusses Her Experiences in Iraq

Aired January 9, 2007 - 14:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Don Lemon.

A front-row seat at a firefight. Explosive and exclusive video. Plus, a live report from Baghdad.

PHILLIPS: They were a stone's throw from the ocean, but the water couldn't stop a firestorm in Malibu. An update from the destruction zone.

LEMON: Plus, one trip to Iraq as a civilian wasn't enough. So this mom enlists to go back as a soldier. Cindy Morgan joins us to explain.

All of that live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

PHILLIPS: An insurgent hotspot under attack today in Baghdad. U.S. and Iraqi forces went on the offensive in some of the fiercest fighting the city has seen in months. CNN has exclusive video of that battle.

Joining me by phone from Baghdad, our Arwa Damon. She's the one bringing us these exclusive photos. She's embedded with troops there.

Arwa, bring us up to date on what you are observing, what the troops are telling you.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, this was, by far, the most intense firefight that these troops have gone through. In fact, it was one of the most intense firefights that we had seen in the capital in quite some time now, happening right in the heart of Baghdad. Essentially pitting U.S. and Iraqi forces against who the Americans have identified as being Sunni extremists.

They've identified them as being individuals. And from what we saw today, a 10-hour firefight.

These individuals who would quite literally fight to the death, using sophisticated military tactics. They were observed moving around in pairs, moving around in formation, attacking the U.S. and Iraqi forces, pulling back, regrouping, and then launching another counterattack. At some point, it seemed that the gunfire was just coming from everywhere. And U.S. forces struggling at times to make positive identification to be able to fire back.

They were pinned down on rooftops at times for hours by sniper fire. The insurgents also came at them with rocket-propelled grenades, with mortar rounds that shook the foundations of the very buildings that U.S. forces were taking position in with machine gunfire, with small arms fire, while U.S. forces were trying to secure parts of that area.

Haifa Street, Iraqi army forces were moving through clearing house to house. The aim of this mission was to clear a two-mile stretch, approximately two miles of Haifa Street, from weapons once and for all.

Now, just to give you a little bit of history, back in 2004, Haifa Street was incredibly volatile, the scene of many fierce battles. It came under a certain amount of control.

It was handed over in to the Iraqi security forces. And in the last few months, security has deteriorated.

Now, it is under Iraqi control; however, for this operation, Iraqis specifically asked for U.S. backups. This operation involves some 1,000 troops, both American and Iraqis. And this gun battle, again, lasting for 10 hours.

Now, we left about 10 hours afterwards, just as the firefighting was beginning to decrease slightly. It was very intense earlier on in the day, very intense in the first seven hours, and then decreasing in the last three hours. At that point in time, the streets were fairly quiet. But again, no one knows what tomorrow will bring -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Arwa, stay with me, because I want to be able to listen to some of this video that you fed in just to get a sense for what kind of pressure these guys are under.

Let's listen.

And as we watch this video, Arwa, we've also seen pictures of the Apache attack helicopters that were firing Hellfire missiles, in addition to those strike fighters flying over the region. Have both of those -- actually, you can kind of see some of the helicopters there in the distance. Have the strike fighters been able to provide close air support for the troops, and are those jets dropping bombs as well to try and protect those soldiers that you are with?

DAMON: They were, Kyra. At one point in time the U.S. forces did call in for air support.

Remember, this is one of the advantages that the American forces bring to the battlefield for the Iraqis. The Iraqis do not have their own air power. We saw them flying fighter jets, we saw them flying -- bringing in Apache helicopters, gunships that fired Hellfire missiles. Just to point out, too, though, those exclusive CNN pictures that you are watching right there, the intensity of the firefight were brought to you by the cameraman Dominique Swan (ph), who was with us at that point in time. And you just mentioned, it really does illustrate the intensity of the battle that is going on out there.

At one point, the U.S. unit that we were with was pinned, along with some Iraqi soldiers, on top of a rooftop, and they spent about two hours up there receiving gunfire. At times, the bullets were ricocheting within a few feet of the soldiers huddled up against the walls, trying to make a positive I.D.

Remember, in this case, especially on Haifa street, the enemy has the advantage of knowing the terrain. And that is also where the American air support, the American firepower, what the Americans could provide to the battlefield, is crucial. They can come in and shoot at specific targets, bring down specific buildings that then allow Iraqi and American forces to continue moving throughout this very challenging battlefield -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: And Arwa, are these Saddam loyalists? Are these al Qaeda fighters in Iraq?

DAMON: They've been identified as being Sunni extremists, according to the U.S. military. They are actually a very volatile mix of both Al Qaeda in Iraq and former Ba'athists.

What the U.S. military intelligence has indicated is that former Ba'athists that actually live on that street, used to live there during Saddam Hussein's time, are providing safe haven and facilitating the movement of Al Qaeda in Iraq's operations from that specific area. So they've established, if you will, an alliance of convenience against a common enemy. That being the United States, that being the Iraqi security forces, that being an effort to bring down the Iraqi government.

Now, just to point out something else, when we usually see U.S. forces under attack in the United States -- I'm sorry, when we usually see U.S. forces coming under attack here in Iraq, it's usually what they call a shoot and scoot technique. They'll only have a couple of potshots fired at them, and then the enemy runs into the background, or a roadside bomb will explode.

In this case, with these fighters, what we saw were fires that were standing up, standing up and fighting quite literally to the death. Again, this gun battle lasting for 10 hours -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. We want to take another listen to some ground-level video that you were able to get to us just a little while ago. Let's take a listen to that with sound full.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't be on my (EXPLETIVE DELETED). UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go back. Go back. Go back. Go back. Go back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are we ready?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cover me. Cover me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: I want to apologize, of course, for some of the language in that video, but we're just getting this in. You can understand these men not concerned about their language in a situation when they are trying to take on a pretty fierce enemy.

Arwa Damon, at any time did you feel at odds about being where you were? I mean, obviously you do your job and you do it diligently. But this is definitely, as you said, the most intense fighting these guys have been up against. And you were right there.

DAMON: Kyra, it's always intense when you're out there. And, of course, being in a situation like the one we were in today, it's incredibly intense, it's incredibly challenging.

And I think both for us and for the U.S. troops who are out there, it is all about really being able to mentally control whatever sort of fear you might have and do the job at hand. In our case, that is to bring to all of our viewers, to the entire world, the story. In the case of the military, it is to complete the mission that is at hand.

But it is quite stressful out there, especially at times when you hear the gunfire intensifying. You can actually hear the zinging of the bullets coming right past your ears. At times, you see them landing right in front of you, and you do realize the number of close calls not only that we go through, but that the troops really go through every day that they are out there, because they are the ones that are pounding the pavement in Iraq, day in, day out.

All of this, of course, is in an effort to eventually secure especially the capital, Baghdad, to set up the Iraqi security forces who they had with them today. They are also going through, while fighting the enemy efforts, to train up the Iraqi security forces, have them take the initiative. So they are really playing a dual role when they're out there.

On one hand, they're trying to fight the fight. On the other hand, it is also quite literally training by fire for the Iraqi forces that are with them -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: You know, there was a time, Arwa, when we were thinking that the Al Anbar province was the most dangerous area in Iraq with regard to the insurgency and the fighting. Now we're talking about Haifa Street, right there in central Baghdad, a stronghold of Sunni insurgency, according to what they are seeing here, and some of the fiercest fighting in the capital in months.

DAMON: That's right, Kyra. And, you know, the insurgency that does exist out here with all of its various complexities and different entities that do make it up, it is an insurgency that moves around. It is an insurgency that is broken up.

Al Anbar province still remains incredibly dangerous, very volatile. It has pockets that can be considered strongholds for the insurgency, as does the capital, Baghdad.

There is, in fact, thinking that perhaps the fighting there was so fierce because it is one of the last and mainly Sunni insurgent strongholds that exists along this very street. You know, there are a number of different explanations as to how the insurgency does exist and is still able to operate. But the one thing that we do see consensus on is that everyone pretty much agrees that this is an insurgency that is able to morph itself, re-create itself, if you will. And we have seen the insurgents do that time and time again as the battlefields here in Iraq continue to change all the time -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Our Arwa Damon.

Incredible job, Arwa. Stay safe. Keep bringing us the inside story there.

She's embedded with the U.S. Army's 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Some of the fiercest fighting in the Iraqi capital in months.

Once again, our Arwa Damon with that exclusive look and exclusive pictures.

LEMON: And Kyra, we go from one battlefield to another, but not where you might expect.

First Afghanistan, then Iraq, now the U.S. might be opening a third front in the war on terror, southern Somalia, attacked by U.S. air strikes aimed at al Qaeda.

Let's get the latest now from CNN's Kathleen Koch at the Pentagon for us -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, the dramatic nighttime attack took place Sunday in southern Somalia. Pentagon spokesperson Brian Whitman says that the air strike was "based on credible intelligence" and targeted "principal al Qaeda leadership in the area." Now, that's near the border with Kenya.

Now, military sources say that the operatives have been on the run for several days from the capital of Mogadishu. That, after Ethiopian forces moved in and drove the Islamic militia there from power. The attack was carried out by a very powerful AC-130 gunship, Special Operations gunship capable of delivering a devastating barrage of cannon fire while flying low circling its target. Now, in this case, it is still unclear, though, whether or not the exact targets were hit, whether or not these al Qaeda suspects were killed, though the U.S. military does say that bodies were spotted on the ground.

Now, the interim president of Somalia spoke to the media, saying that his country did support the air strikes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. ABDULLAH YUSUF AHMED, SOMALIA (through translator): I think they are right to strike, because some of those who fled are the ones who bombed the embassy in Nairobi, and also in Tanzania and a hotel in Mombassa. They are wanted and they are known as terrorists. They destroyed embassies and killed people.

If we forgive them, we have to issue a government order. But to the Islamic courts leaders, no one offers forgiveness because they are criminals. You know what they did, and as for dialogue, there are no Islamic courts or institutions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: Now, U.S. officials have long believed that those responsible for the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania were hiding out in Somalia. And certainly killing them or capturing them and bringing them to justice are very high priorities for the United States -- Don.

LEMON: And Kathleen, as you said, today the U.S. military attacks against al Qaeda leaders in Somalia were based on credible intelligence. Anyone there at the Pentagon saying that there -- if there's going to be any further military action with this?

KOCH: Don, they are not saying much about any -- any further steps, but certainly, the U.S. does have assets in place to take action, if necessary. There have been some reports of some -- some fire from helicopters in the region, but we're being waved off any U.S. involvement in that.

The U.S. Has brought the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier, to the region. It's now in the waters off Somalia, as well as four other U.S. vessels. There just to make sure that no al Qaeda operatives are able to escape by ship. But certainly the U.S. military has had less than stellar history in Somalia.

You'll remember it was back in 1994 when President Bill Clinton had to pull the U.S. military out of Somalia after the failed operation in Mogadishu claimed the lives of some 18 soldiers. This is the first acknowledged U.S. military operation in Somalia since that mission -- Don.

LEMON: All right. We'll see what happens next. Kathleen Koch, thank you very much. KOCH: You bet.

PHILLIPS: Your mother wears army boots. Yeah, you got a problem with that? A Tennessee mom follows her son's example and signs up for active duty. We're going to talk to the new recruit next in the NEWSROOM.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Thelma Gutierrez in Malibu, California. Coming up, I'll have the latest on a devastating fire that destroyed four beachfront homes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Out-of-control fires in California, specifically in Malibu. We've been following the story here on CNN. Celebrity homes have been damaged -- million-dollar mansions.

Let's go now -- Suzanne Somers one of those celebrities who owns a home there. She just toured her home moments ago in Malibu, California. This is from KCAL. Let's listen in here to see what she's saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUZANNE SOMERS, ACTRESS: And there's not a death in the family. And, you know, we'll rebuild, and I really think that we'll learn something great from this.

What else can you do with a tragedy but look for the opportunity to grow spiritually and emotionally? And I know that we'll learn something great. It was a beautiful house. It was a beautiful place to live.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long had you lived here?

SOMERS: Seven years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes, seven years she lived there. For those of you who may not remember Suzanne Somers, Chrissy Snow on "Three's Company" a 1970s and '80s sitcom, and also a diet and exercise guru. People may know ThighMaster. She was the spokesperson for that.

But she is touring her home. She is one of a number of people there on the coast of California who lost their home because of these wildfires.

Let's get more on that, on the smoldering ruins on the Malibu coastline.

At least four oceanfront mansions are lost causes today after a wildfire. It's still a mystery as to the cause there.

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez joins us live from the scene.

Thelma, what's going on?

GUTIERREZ: Well, Don, I can tell you that there are still dozens of exhausted firefighters who worked all through the night out here trying to put out this fire who are still here as we speak right now trying to put out the hotspots up on the hill above us and in the rubble down below that is still smoldering. In fact, you can take a look at the charred remains of the two multi-story, multimillion- dollar homes that were right next to each other.

Now, the four homes that were destroyed were just steps away from the beach. We're talking about a very desirable, a very prime piece of real estate here in Malibu.

This is a fire that began yesterday behind a baseball diamond just up the hill. The winds were gusting at 55 miles an hour. The dry brush on the hillside went up in flames. And within just 20 minutes, four homes were burned to the ground. Four others seriously damaged.

Now, one of those homes belonged to actress Suzanne Somers -- we heard from her earlier -- and her husband, producer Alan Hamel. The couple was not home at the time, but she did talk to reporters earlier, and she did say that she looks at life as being a glass half full, that she doesn't have a son or daughter in Iraq, that she hasn't lost a loved one. And she said that she will rebuild out here after living here for seven years.

Now, 300 firefighters were deployed to the area, and they could not save these homes. You can see now back here on the property where the two homes once stood.

This is all that is left of a home, a bathroom, a shower that you can see off in the distance. Also, a few flower pots and a burned out file cabinet.

The heat was so intense as we walk around here to the Mercedes that was right out in front of the home -- the tree that ignited. You can see what happened to the engine. Heat was so intense, the engine was just reduced to ashes.

And Don, as you had mentioned, this fire is still under investigation. And arson investigators were back up at the baseball diamond trying to determine exactly what caused it.

Back to you.

LEMON: It's very sad watching that. Thank you very much, Thelma Gutierrez. And still, as you said, no cause yet for that.

But let's take another look. This is actress Suzanne Somers. And this is what folks are going to be going through in California today, at least in Malibu, as they return home to what's left of their homes.

It's Pretty sad. Let's check in with Jacque Jeras, our meteorologist, to tell us about the winds there, what folks can expect, and why all of this happened.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: Let's get straight to the newsroom. Betty Nguyen working details on a developing story -- Betty.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. A commuter train has derailed apparently in Massachusetts. In fact, Woburn, Massachusetts, to be exact. This is in Middlesex County.

Here are some pictures of authorities on the scene there. You see the yellow tape. Well, it was at the top of your screen.

I believe that's a commuter train right there to the right. We're just seeing the top of it. Don't know exactly what happened, except we are hearing reports that somehow this commuter train may have hit some kind of a construction site. And, Kyra, there were early reports that a construction worker was trapped.

Again, no specific details on that. Still trying to get some confirmation on that.

But what I can tell you is, we've been watching this for a few minutes now, and a man was taken -- I say a man. I don't know if it's a male or female. A person was taken away on a stretcher to an ambulance that was standing by.

There you see some pictures of that. Don't know if this is perhaps the construction worker who may have been trapped or if this was somebody injured in this derailment. But the news right now is that in Woburn, Massachusetts, which is in Middlesex County, a commuter train has derailed and at least one person apparently injured, as we saw that person being taken away on a stretcher.

We'll stay on top of it and bring you more just as soon as we get it -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Betty.

Coming up, we're going to take you live to the Macworld Conference. Forget the iPod. How about the iPhone? Dan Simon already working it for us.

Have you scored one, Dan?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Kyra. I'll tell you what, though, it's coming to a store near you in June.

This is one nifty device. Apple says it has reinvented the cell phone. We'll tell you about it coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Hello once again. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon.

She's back. Talking about Rosie. She's back at work and back to her furious feud with Donald Trump. By the way, she's reportedly also bashing her boss, Babs. Hell hath no fury, kids. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

But first it's an iPod, it's a cell phone, it's both. It's a new thing. Developing news out of the tech world today. Apple with a juicy announcement at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

And our Dan Simon is there. I said it's an Apple, it's a cell phone, it's both. It's a bird. It's a plane. I guess you can call Steve Jobs Superman now, huh?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think you could. You could really go on and on and on about this thing. This is one pretty cool piece of hardware. When you do a story like this, there say danger of sounding like you are doing an advertisement for Apple.

But I've got to tell you, Steve Jobs said that he reinvented the cell phone. Based upon what we saw, that's really not an exaggeration.

Let me give you the highlights, first of all, everything that's on your iPod is now on the iPhone. Your TV shows, your videos, your movies. They can all be transferred to the iPhone.

Of course, it's got every imaginable bell and whistle when it comes to a cell phone. Bluetooth, speaker, all that stuff. And then it's got every web function imaginable. You can have your e-mail, you can have full web browsing. It's got a very user friendly interface. Let's listen now to what Steve Jobs said just a little while ago. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE JOBS, CEO, APPLE, INC.: An iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. An iPod, a phone. Are you getting it?

(APPLAUSE)

These are not three separate devices. This is one device.

(APPLAUSE)

JOBS: And we are calling it iPhone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Yes, they went crazy. Cingular is going to be providing the exclusive service for the iPhone. It's a little pricey. $499 -- the 4 gigabyte model. $599 for the 8 gigabyte model. It goes on sale in June. Now let's talk about the other thing that Steve Jobs introduced today. This is called Apple TV formally known as iTV, when he introduced it last fall.

This is a little device that allows you to take all the content you have on iTunes -- videos, movies, television shows -- and allows you to wirelessly transfer that content to a wide screen television. That goes on sale next month. Let's listen now to how Steve Jobs talked about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOBS: You can buy great content on the iTunes music store. Movies, TV shows, and music, of course. And you can download it to your computer via a PC or a Mac. I'm going to use a Mac here.

You can put other content on your computer from other places too of course. And you can put that content on your iPod, right? Now you can go out and buy a wide screen TV, hook up an Apple TV to it and wirelessly transmit that content from your PC to your Apple TV and watch it on your big screen TV. It's that simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: And that will cost you $299. Again, that will be available next month. Don, pretty cool being here. Obviously, Steve Jobs did not disappoint his legions of fans. This place was filled to the max, and I suspect you'll be hearing a lot more about these two gadgets in the days and weeks to come. Back to you.

LEMON: Yes, and you know what? You touched on this but it is hard to deny the appeal and popularity of the iPod and of Apple as of recently.

Dan Simon, thank you so much.

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

PHILLIPS: Well, your mama wears Army boots. Yes, you got a problem with that? A Tennessee mom follows her son's example and signs up for active duty. We're going to talk with the new recruit next in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Working the details of a developing story for us, Betty Nguyen in the NEWSROOM -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Yes, we do have some more details clarifying just what happened in this accident. It's a derailment of a commuter train in Woburn, Massachusetts, which is in Middlesex County.

Take a look at the pictures there. There is the commuter train. And we saw a little bit earlier a man being taken by stretcher to an ambulance that was waiting nearby. Now, earlier we -- there's the man there. We don't know exactly if he was the man in the truck. And this is the new information that we're trying to give you. See that truck right there? Apparently this commuter train did not hit a construction site but instead a truck that was on the tracks. And as we know, one person -- at least one person, has been injured in this. We haven't heard of any other injuries.

But, Don, just look at that. That truck is just all mangled there in pieces on the track. It's amazing that anyone survived that. But one man was taken to an ambulance nearby. And, again, this is happening in Woburn, Massachusetts, where a commuter train struck a truck on the tracks.

And we're looking at some live pictures now. You can still see the workers on the scene and another ambulance standing by. Don't know if anyone inside that commuter train was injured. Don't even know exactly where that train was coming from at this point, but just an unfortunate incident. Don't know why the guy was on the tracks, but hopefully there will be no serious injuries out of this.

But, Don, we're going to stay on top of it and bring you more information just as soon as we get it in to CNN. As you can see, investigators there talking about what has happened there in Woburn, Massachusetts.

LEMON: Yes, Betty, you said unfortunate. Unfortunate to say the least. Thank you very much for that.

NGUYEN: Sure.

PHILLIPS: Congressional Democrats in a sticky situation -- to fund or not to fund a possible troop build-up in Iraq. That story ahead from the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And how about this? Your mama wears Army -- shouldn't it be your mama wears combat boots? That's what it was. Yes, you got a problem with that? A Tennessee mom follows her son's example and signs up for active duty. It's a great story. We'll talk with the new recruit straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A battle in the heart of Baghdad today, some of the fiercest fighting in months. U.S. strike fighters, Apache helicopters and Hellfire missiles backed up roughly 1,000 U.S. and Iraqi ground troops as they took on Sunni insurgents on Haifa Street.

At least 50 insurgents are dead. The trouble started Saturday when Iraqi police were attacked while trying to recover bodies dumped near a cemetery. Iraqi troops asked for U.S. backup.

LEMON: She's driven a big rig on some of the most dangerous roads on the planet. For years, Cindy Morgan was a civilian truck driver in Iraq and thus a moving target for insurgents. In her book, "Cindy in Iraq" -- appropriately named -- Cindy Morgan says she took the job for the money and to make changes in her life.

But now, the 41-year-old mother of three is making an even bigger change. Last week, she enlisted in the U.S. Army, knowing full well that she may be sent back to Iraq, this time as a soldier. Cindy Morgan joins me from Pensacola, Florida.

Cindy, people are going to go, what in the world? Why would you ever want to do this with the possibility of going back to Iraq?

CINDY MORGAN, ENLISTED IN THE U.S. ARMY: Well, my family and I have been great military supporters and on both sides of my family, I've got people who served all the way back to World War I. Even my grandfather on my dad's side, he was too small to join the Army, so he went and joined up with the Red Cross and went to France during World War I.

So, you know, we are great supporters. We love our country and I have served two years as a civilian contractor and this is another way I get to serve my country.

LEMON: Yes, and we're going to talk about that contractor part of it and the dangers of that. But you've got three sons. You've got Ian and Stephan. How old are they?

MORGAN: Ian is 21, and Stephan (ph) just turned 19 at the end of December.

LEMON: Just turned 19, and then Kenny, who is in the Army, how old is Kenny?

MORGAN: Kenny turned 22 in November.

LEMON: OK. So there's a picture of you and Kenny.

MORGAN: Right.

LEMON: When you were working as a contract worker in Iraq, you two actually saw each other. And there you are there. You ran into him there. What was that like? Surreal?

MORGAN: It was fantastic, and it was weird and it was a little scary. You know, as a parent of a soldier, you know that your son or your daughter is going to be out on very dangerous patrols and stuff.

When you are sitting in the same camp and you walk into his headquarters and you ask where your son is and they say, well, he just rolled out the gates, so you know for the next couple of hours that your son is in immediate danger, it's a real weird feeling.

LEMON: Yes, is it better or worse, do you think, to be closer or farther away from him in that situation?

MORGAN: It depends. In some situations, it was really great to see each other and it helped both of our morale. But in some ways, you know, because I've been there, I was able to throw aside some fears that most parents would have and develop other ones because I have an intimate knowledge of what goes on.

LEMON: Yes, I understand that he jokes about outranking you as well.

MORGAN: Yes, all the time. Every time I talk to him, I outrank you, mom.

LEMON: Yes, you know what? Let's talk about the dangers of being a contract worker or truck driver. You know that and we, you know -- sadly, we get reports all the time of contract workers being kidnapped and sadly, some of them being killed.

MORGAN: Right.

LEMON: Again, people would say you signed up for this, you know, you said to make a change in your life but what in the world would make you want to go back to Iraq after seeing the dangers there? Do you want to make a difference?

MORGAN: Well, actually, I'm joining the army, which I'm very proud of. And if I get sent back to Iraq, I get sent back to Iraq. I'm not afraid of it. I've seen a lot of good work go on, and I've heard a lot of stories from our troops over there which are very inspiring, which we don't get to hear every day.

And I actually chronicled a couple of them in my book and I am hoping that with my approval of my audition tape, that I'll be able to go to broadcast journalists and be able to get some of those stories out.

LEMON: Well, we wish you luck. We may be seeing you again in another capacity. That book is called "Cindy in Iraq." You know what I want to talk to you about? You are 40 years old -- you know -- which for me, I think 40 years old is young.

But when you tried to enlist after 9/11, at 40 years old, they said, you know what? You're too -- you were under 40 then, but they said you were too old. And, now, after a couple of years you're not too old. You can enlist. Had you given up?

MORGAN: Well, actually, back in 2005, the Army raised the age limit up to 40. Two weeks after I turned 40. Because I actually went down to the recruiter and tried to enlist then and they said, well, you are two weeks too late. So I took another job and went back to Iraq as a contractor.

So this is great for me because I get to fulfill something I've wanted to do for several years. And I know lots of guys and gals that said I would if I could but I'm too old. And so hopefully my story being out there will let them know they have a chance to serve their country.

LEMON: Hey, we have only moments left and I just wonder. You've been there several times. So you've seen some of the -- has it changed? Have you seen it change in any way since you've been back? MORGAN: Since I've been back -- I hear stories. I've got friends over there and I hear stories all the time about the improvements and stuff. And as with anything, something's better, something's worse. But, you know, it's all in how you want to look at it. If you're a positive person, then you're going to try and find the positive in everything. And that's what I try and do.

LEMON: OK. What are you, a private now? Private Cindy Morgan?

MORGAN: At the moment, yes, I'm a private.

LEMON: Private Cindy Morgan reporting for duty.

Thanks for joining us.

MORGAN: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Let's go straight over to the NEWSROOM. Betty Nguyen working details on a derailment.

Where is it, Betty?

NGUYEN: It is in Woburn, Massachusetts. We've been showing you pictures of this, Kyra. Just moments ago you saw this truck -- if we can get those pictures back up. We're working on that for you. But when we do, you can see that this truck right next to this commuter train is just mangled.

And we have learned -- there's the truck right there. We have learned this is a work truck and this inbound commuter rail train crashed into that truck that you see there, at least what's left of it. And, unfortunately, it has killed two members of a work crew and seriously injured at least one other person.

I'll tell you a little bit about this commuter train. It was headed from Lowell to Boston with just minimal passengers on it, which is the good news because I imagine others could have been injured had it been seriously packed with passengers.

But because of this, obviously, the line has been shut down as officials continue to work there. Emergency crews trying to see if anyone else was injured.

But what we understand is the two people in that work truck, the work crew there, were killed in this accident. Now there is probably the third person that we spoke of who was seriously injured being taken to an ambulance nearby.

So we're going to stay on top of it and see. Hopefully no other injuries come out of this, but we'll continue to watch it for you.

PHILLIPS: All right. Appreciate it, Betty.

Stay with us. We've got more from the CNN NEWSROOM, including entertainment headlines with A.J. Hammer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: I guess you can say things are heating up on "The View." And if you think it's all about Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump, well, you're two-thirds correct.

"SHOWBIZ TONIGHT'S" A.J. Hammer has the rest of the equation.

And it just seems to get more and more juicy, A.J.

A.J. HAMMER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Kyra, you know I was one of those people who said I didn't need math in school. And I'm proven wrong by this equation I'm going to tell you about in a second as the brawl between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump rolls on.

Now first, let's flash back and find out what happened when Rosie returned from her vacation and was back on "The View" yesterday, where she talked about the Donald.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O'DONNELL, "THE VIEW": Here's my official comment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here we go again.

O'DONNELL: And this is going to be good for my stand-up act. That's all I have to say.

But, boy, did I hit a nerve with that guy. Holy-moly. It was like Mount Vesuvius, you know, erupting. He's like the Ever-Ready comb-over Bunny. OK. And she's done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: All right. That was yesterday. But the headlines today are about what reportedly happened backstage at "The View's" studios. Several sources are saying that Rosie angrily confronted Barbara Walters for not defending her more aggressively.

Trump has repeatedly said that Walters, "The View's" executive producer, told him she doesn't like Rosie one bit and wants her gone from "The View".

Well, Walters and O'Donnell share the same spokesperson.

Kyra, that spokesperson called the encounter just a squabble, said that everything is business as usual and everyone has moved on.

I kind of doubt it.

PHILLIPS: I don't think everybody's moved on. My guess is we'll keep talking about this.

All right. So since we've been talking about how Donald Trump has really been generating a lot of headlines recently. His reality show "The Apprentice" debuted over the weekend. Did the publicity pay off? HAMMER: Well, a lot of people were wondering. We were talking about that last week. And the show did get about 9.1 million viewers. You can't laugh at that.

It might sound pretty good, but it's actually kind of disappointing if you look at it in contrast to previous seasons. It is the lowest debut ever for this series. It's down around 600,000 viewers from last year's premiere.

The show had made some changes in an effort to grab more viewers. It moved from New York to L.A. Ivanka Trump joined the show as an adviser to her dad. And they spiced up the competition quite a bit. As the contestants battle each other in each episode this season, the winners get to live in a big mansion. The losers are forced to live outside in a tent.

But all that doesn't appear to have done the trick. Of course, it is facing some tough competition on Sunday nights. The show did change its time slot. It's up against ABC's all-powerful "Desperate Housewives", still doing very well, drew more than 18 million viewers this past weekend.

So, Kyra, all this free publicity didn't pay off for the Donald in the ratings yet. We're going to have to see how the season goes. And I'm sure he'll have an explanation for it.

PHILLIPS: All right.

What's coming up tonight?

HAMMER: Well, coming up tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" we'll have much more on the Rosie/Donald feud. Wait until you hear what the Donald is saying now about Rosie O'Donnell and his relationship with Barbara Walters. The story just keeps on going. We'll get into it on TV's most provocative entertainment show, which is "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT". We'll see you at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. A.J. Hammer, thanks.

HAMMER: You got it.

LEMON: Lots of the stars live there and sadly, it is up in smoke. One of California's swankiest zip codes hit hard when the Santa Ana winds meet up with a spark. Suzanne Somers is one of those victims. We'll hear from her next, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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