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AMERICAN MORNING

Battle For Haifa Street; Surge Of Resistance; Failed Attack; V.P. Cheney One On One; A Rick On The Road; Minding Your Business

Aired January 25, 2007 - 06:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: War of words. The Senate committee rejects President Bush's plan to surge troops into Iraq. The vice president tells CNN, that won't stop the U.S.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Terror on tape. Panic and heroism caught on video as a would-be bomber tries to blow up a subway train.

S. O'BRIEN: Danger on the road. A startling new study is out today about just what kills teenagers behind the wheel.

M. O'BRIEN: And who wants to be a millionaire? You do, right? How about 254 times over? One winning Powerball ticket is out there worth a whole lot of scratch on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. It's Thursday, January 25th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. Thanks for being with us.

We begin in Iraq where the surge in violence raging on ahead of the surge in U.S. troops. Here's what's new this morning. At least four dead, more than a dozen hurt after a bomb rigged to a parked motorcycle blew up in a market in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad.

Another bomb in another market. This one a religiously mixed part of western Baghdad. At least one dead there.

And in yet another ferocious battle for Haifa Street, just north of the fortified greenzone, at least 30 insurgents are dead, 27 in custody. It's the third raid by U.S. and Iraqi troops there in just the last month. CNN's Arwa Damon is in Baghdad for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Haifa Street today relatively calm. This coming the day after fierce fighting that lasted for eight hours. Once again, pitting Sunni extremists against U.S. and Iraqi security forces. The second time in as many weeks.

The insurgents there using many of the same tactics we saw in the previous battle. In fact, using some of the same apartment complexes to fire on the troops on the ground below. At one point, U.S. forces calling in for a laser-guided missile to level a building that they were receiving heavy machine gun fire from, after Apache helicopters were unable to eliminate that threat. We also saw 21 individuals detained. Two of them coming in wounded, according to an Iraqi soldier. They were wounded while one of them was throwing a grenade off a roof top on Iraqi troops down below. The other using a machine gun to fire at them.

The soldiers describe it being street to street, alley to alley fighting. Six of the individuals detained were found inside a high school with a fair amount of roadside bomb-making material. Those deadly IEDs that have claimed so many lives.

The hope is that as U.S. and Iraqi security forces continue to operate there, they can focus less on fighting and more on helping out the civilian population.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: Here at home, a rare wartime rebuke of the commander in chief and a fierce defense offered by the vice president. We're going to hear Wolf Blitzer's interview with Vice President Dick Cheney in just a moment. First, though, here's CNN's Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president came to Congress and asked lawmakers to give his new plan in Iraq time to work. But by a vote of 12 to nine, a key Senate committee made clear their answer is no. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a non-binding resolution that says it "is not in the national interest of the United States" to send more troops to Iraq.

Now, only one Republican, frequent Bush critic Chuck Hagel, voted for that. But many of the other Republicans on that committee made clear that they were skeptical about the president's plan at best. But most of them did not vote for this particular resolution because they were worried it would be viewed as partisan and also because they were worried about the message it could send to U.S. troops in Iraq and also America's enemies.

But the real test will be next week with votes on the Senate floor because there several leading Republicans have cosponsored a resolution that they will put up for a vote. And that also opposes the president on sending more troops to Iraq, but it does so with less confrontational language. Therefore, it could pick up significant bipartisan support.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: There's new information this morning about al Qaeda hideouts. A senior U.S. intelligence official is telling CNN that top al Qaeda members are holed up in so-called safe havens along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. The Pakistan army unable or unwilling to arrest them because of recent tribal agreements. The official says it's become al Qaeda's central terror training camps and they are in full swing in that region.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer spoke exclusively with Vice President Dick Cheney about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": This is so frustrating to so many people more than five years after 9/11. Not only that bin Laden is out there, but that his deputy pops up every now and then on television and makes these threats.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, but look what we have done. We have not gotten Osama bin Laden, obviously, because he's very careful and they (ph) say he doesn't communicate. And he's not sort of in direct contact on a regular basis.

But we've taken out several times that whole layer of leadership underneath Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri. One of the most dangerous jobs in the world is to be number three in the al Qaeda organization because a lot of them are now dead or in custody. So we've done a lot of damage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: We're going to hear more from that exclusive interview and the vice president's take on the war in Iraq as well. That's coming up.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: The FBI is claiming a victory in the war on terror this morning. They say two terror leaders linked to the beheading and kidnapping of American are dead. Khadafi Janjalani and Jainal Antel Sali, also know as Abu Solaiman, are dead. The pair were on the most wanted list. Leaders of the al Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines. Janjalani was accused of masterminding the kidnapping of two American missionaries and a tourist in 2001. One of them beheaded during a military rescue attempt. He died in September. Solaiman, his successor, died in a raid earlier this week.

Londoners woke up today to new images of terror. A chilling look at the alleged plot for a second wave of attacks on the London underground. Images of an unexploded bomb revealed at the trial of six men accused in that plot of July of 2005. Paula Newton live from London with more.

Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.

I'm at Oval Station in south London, the scene of a dramatic terror attack on July 21, 2005. Six men are now on trial in connection with the incidents of that day. As you said, Miles, the jury has heard some gripping testimony and seen some chilling video. Have a look at this. This is security video from inside the subway car. It is silent, but the pictures are not to be believed. Prosecutors allege that would be suicide bomber Ramzi Mohammad, wearing a backpack, turns that backpack towards a mother and child and detonates his home-made bomb in his backpack.

At that point, there is smoke. There is confusion. People are running to try and get to the adjoining car. Keep in mind, the train, at this point, is still going at full speed.

At that point, the mother and child is trying to get help from a firefighter, Angus Campbell (ph), who Londoners here are now call a hero. He helps the mother and child get into the adjoining car, but then he stays in the car with the suspect, looked ht him, the bag still smoking, saying what have you done? That man that, that suspect, apparently turns to him and says, what, it's only bread. At this point, what you see on the floor really looks like an oozing omelet. He puts it down.

Angus Campbell tells the guy to hit the floor. He does not. At that point, the train pulls into the station and, unfortunately, the doors open. There is a high-speed chase through the station. He was not apprehended at that time. Prosecutors say just a few days later Ramzi Mohammad was arrested. They believe he is the person who is the suicide bomber.

The evidence, Miles, has been chilling. People told that this homemade bomb, if it had gone off, would have for sure have killed people, maimed people, loss of limbs, loss of life, would have been severe. And it was hydrogen peroxide mixed with flour made on a stove top. We will continue to hear more evidence in the coming weeks.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Paula Newton in London, thank you.

Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: No comments yet from either the U.S. or the Russians about a suspected uranium smuggler. The CIA helped carry out a sting that caught a Russian man who was trying to sell 100 grams, about four ounces, of uranium that he was carrying in a plastic bag in his jacket pocket. The U.N.'s going to report the arrest sometime this week we are told. It happened in the former Soviet state of Georgia. The man claimed he had more uranium stashed and he could make a small bomb.

More now on that hazardous mercury spill in a Los Angeles subway station. It's a story that first broke right here on CNN. Investigators are now asking why it took eight hours to take action after the first report of the spill, and why L.A. authorities were so quick so conclude that it wasn't an act of terrorism. CNN's Deborah Feyerick, she's the one who broke the story for us, has full details coming up live in the next half hour right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning. General David Petraeus expected to become coalition commander in Iraq. A full vote in the Senate today expected. The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved Petraeus for the post.

President Bush out to sell his new healthcare plan today. He'll visit Lee Summit (ph), Missouri, just outside Kansas City, touring a hospital and holding a private roundtable on cutting healthcare costs.

Another hat expected in the presidential race today. California Congressman Duncan Hunter to announce his intentions at a fund raiser in South Carolina. Hunter is a 14-term congressman from San Diego County.

In Mississippi, an arraign this morning in a 43-year-old murder case. Former Deputy Sheriff James Ford Seal (ph), now 71 years old, facing federal charges in the 1964 kidnapping and murder of two black teenagers. Seal's family had claimed for years that he had died. He was arrested Wednesday very near where the teens had been killed 43 years ago.

More ethics charges against the district attorney in the Duke lacrosse case. Mike Nifong, accused by the North Carolina State Bar, of withholding DNA evidence from the defense of three players accused of sexual assault. These charges on top of other ethics complaints against Nifong. If all the charges stick, he could lose his license to practice law.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, you better bundle up. A bitter cold snap could be coming your way. Severe weather expert Chad Myers has a look at the forecast and it's a cold one. That's straight ahead.

Plus, more of Wolf Blitzer's exclusive interview with Vice President Dick Cheney, including the vice president's kind of testy response when he was asked about his daughter's pregnancy.

Plus, a major milestone for NASA. (INAUDIBLE) Mars rover. We'll tell you why scientists are celebrating in a very big way straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

More now from that exclusive interview with Vice President Dick Cheney. He says the Bush administration is pushing forward with its plan to send thousands more troops to Iraq no matter who disagrees. CNN's Wolf Blitzer sat down with the vice president for an exclusive and sometimes contentious interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Vice President Dick Cheney, hard-pressed to admit any blunders in the war in Iraq, strikes a defiant tone. In an exclusive interview with CNN, the vice president says the White House will not budge from its plan to send in more troops, despite a resolution from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opposing the buildup.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It won't stop us and it would be, I think, detrimental from the standpoint of the troops.

BLITZER: So you're moving forward no matter what the Congress . . .

CHENEY: We are moving forward. We are moving forward.

BLITZER: The vice president strongly ruled out the nightmare scenario of a Shiite-led government in Iraq eventually turning against the United States.

CHENEY: Wolf, that's not going to happen.

BLITZER: And despite a recent election that shows a loss of confidence among the American people, Mr. Cheney insists the war in Iraq has gone well.

CHENEY: Well, Wolf, if the history books were written by people who have -- are so eager to write off this effort to declare it a failure, including many of our friends in the media, the situation, obviously, would have been over a long time ago. Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes and we'll continue to have enormous successes.

BLITZER: The vice president spared no words for his critics of the war, but he chose his words carefully when asked about a critic from his own party, John McCain.

CHENEY: John's a good man. He and I have known each other a long time and agree on many things and disagree on others.

BLITZER: He said the other day, he said "the president listened too much to the vice president. Of course the president bears the ultimately responsibility, but he was very badly served by both the vice president and, most of all, the secretary of defense." That was John McCain.

CHENEY: So.

BLITZER: Do you want to react?

CHENEY: Well, I just disagree with him.

BLITZER: No tough words for John McCain, but the vice president shot back when asked about his pregnant, openly gay daughter, Mary Cheney.

Some critics are suggesting, for example, a statement from someone representing Focus on the Family. "Mary Cheney's pregnancy raises the question of what's best for children. Just because it's possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father doesn't mean it's best for the child." Do you want to respond so that?

CHENEY: No, I don't.

BLITZER: She's, obviously, a good daughter. I've interviewed her . . .

CHENEY: I'm delighted I'm about to have a sixth grandchild, Wolf, and, obviously, I think the world of both of my daughters and all of my grandchildren. And I think, frankly, you're out of line with that question.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: Mary Cheney has served in her father's campaign, has written a book about her life and her family.

As a reminder, you can catch Wolf Blitzer and "The Situation Room" weekdays at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time right here on CNN.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: It's about quarter past the hour. Chad Myers should be up and running by now in the Weather Center.

Good morning, Chad.

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: Still going. Those plucky, itinerate (ph) robots on mars are still unlocking secrets of the red planet three years after this scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED And it has fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: That was the scene three years ago today, Pasadena, California, NASA's jet propulsion lab. Opportunity bouncing like a beach ball to a safe landing. Sister craft Spirit had already pulled off the same accomplishment a few weeks prior. Now the warranty on the rovers was three months. But unlike everything I ever buy, they didn't break down at the three month and one day mark. In fact, three years later, they're still hard at work. Look at these pictures. Spectacular. Not just beautiful, scientifically significant. Opportunity trying to find a safe way into a huge martian crater right now, while Spirit is looking for yet more signs Mars was warm and wet at one time and perhaps a cushy birth for life.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up, stocks go into record territory. What's behind that? We'll take a look as we "Minding Your Business" straight ahead.

Plus, a startling, new study just out today about what kills teenagers when they get behind the wheel of a car. Those stories and much more ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Top headlines this morning.

Senators saying no to more troops in Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney says that's not going to stop the administration's war plan.

And "Gray's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington is in rehab today. Who knew there was homophobia counseling? There are reports that ABC might fire him for using an anti-gay slur.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, no one's ever claimed that teenagers are the best drivers, but some new numbers out today show just how dangerous they can be. And the problem is, they may be learning some bad and dangerous habits from their parents. AMERICAN MORNING's Chris Lawrence with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, ABC CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): The class president and the prom king, packed into a car with four other kids, heading to the dance. Their 16-year-old friend driving is sober and isn't speeding, but she gets distracted.

DONNA SABET, GILLIAN'S MOTHER: Somebody asked for a pack of gum and there was a pack of gum in the driver's seat pocket and she reached for it and for an instant looked away from the road and lost control of the vehicle.

LAWRENCE: Donna Sabet lost her daughter. Gillian and her boyfriend, both passengers, died when the car flipped over.

D. SABET: I loved being her mom. From the moment she was born until the moment she left that night, I loved being her mom. And I miss her so much.

LAWRENCE: A new study of teenage drivers suggest that kind of accident was no accident. About 90 percent say they don't drink and drive, but nine out of 10 have seen passengers distract the driver, drivers using cell phones. More than a third don't wear seat belts consistently.

RAMON HERNANDEZ, FRIEND OF GILLIAN SABET: Most kids think that they're invulnerable.

LAWRENCE: Actually they're inexperienced and, according to Gill's (ph) brother, easily distracted.

JASON SABET, GILLIAN'S BROTHER: It could be music, it could be cell phones, it could be friends in the back even.

LAWRENCE: So teenage drivers should pay closer attention. Easy for adults to say. But when those drivers are out on the road, what do they see? Men making calls, women getting ready for work, everyone eating. And when you're 16, trying to stand up to your friends?

ANDRES VILLALOBOS, FRIEND OF GILLIAN SABET: You never want to be the uncool guy in the group, so you, obviously, you tell someone to buckle up, they're like, you're not my dad, you know, don't tell me what to do.

LAWRENCE: That's why Gill's family and friends have started a website called journeysafe.org, encouraging teenage drivers to buckle up, turn down the music and shut off their phones.

J. SABET: I don't care if it's not cool. I don't care if in my friends will bag on me for it. I want to keep people safe and I want to stay alive.

LAWRENCE: And parents, two-thirds of teens surveyed say, when it comes to driving, your opinion still matters.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, San Clementa, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: It's important the example. Not just your words, the example you set.

S. O'BRIEN: But, you mean, which every parent knows, you can't say one thing, do another thing and then expect the children not to get the mixed message.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, but we often do. We often do, don't we?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. No matter what you're talking about, driving or anything, you can't say one thing and do another thing and not expect them to see that difference.

M. O'BRIEN: They do pay attention.

S. O'BRIEN: They sure do.

Let's talk about what's happening in America this morning.

In California, Norovirus is striking again. This time it's on the Queen Elizabeth 2, which is now docked in San Francisco. The QE2 was on a global cruise when more than 300 of the 1,600 passengers on board and some members of the crew, too, came down with the stomach virus. That virus is highly contagious. Well, it spread right through all those passengers. Right now the Centers for Disease Control says only four passengers are still sick.

At the St. Louis Auto Show, a big rewards for that 15-year-old boy whose tip helped police find the two missing boys in Missouri. Mitchell Hults. Look at this. Here's why he has a big smile on his face today. He is the new owner of a new Dodge Ram pickup. That's courtesy of DaimlerChrysler. Hults, you'll remember, provided that crucial tip that he noticed the white pickup near the spot where Ben Ownby was last seen. And it was that tip that eventually helped find both Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck. Might be a new millionaire in Missouri. Somebody is holding a Powerball ticket worth $254 million. Only one ticket matched all six numbers. There has not been a top winner in the multi-state Powerball game since last November.

Tiger Woods, eat your heart out. Take a look at this. This is AJ the parakeet. Watch AJ playing golf. Yes, his owner spent months -- there you go. What a beautiful shot. Plays like Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: No, I would miss it.

S. O'BRIEN: Spent months training him on a miniature golf putting green.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, and he does basketball, too.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, he does. And gymnastics. And he can play dead apparently as well. That AJ. That's that a triple threat, quadruple threat?

M. O'BRIEN: I think he is. Oh, I like that move there, too. All right. Very talented (ph).

S. O'BRIEN: That's an owner with a lot of time on his hands.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I should say.

Not to sound like a broken record, but the Dow broke another record. Twenty-five minutes past the hour, Carrie Lee in for Ali Velshi.

Good morning, Carrie.

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Miles.

That's right, another record on the Dow, so good news here for the bulls closing at 12,621 points last night. And it's looking like a slightly bullish start for this morning's session as well with technology stocks leading the way thanks, in large part, to eBay. Last night the company blew past Wall Street estimates. Profits up 24 percent during the quarter. During the holiday season, over 81 million registered users exchanged over $14 billion worth of goods. So eBay shares gained 5 percent during the session yesterday ahead of the report and then added another 13 percent after hours. So that's going to be a hot stock to watch today.

Also, after 95 years, Crisco is going on a diet. The company's shortening products will now have zero grams of transfat per serving. That's well below the FDA guidelines. Of course, last month, New York City was the first city to ban transfats in its restaurants and fast food outlets. And, Miles, other cities are considering a similar measure.

That's the latest from here. Back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Makes me want a doughnut for some reason.

All right, thank you, Carrie. Appreciate it.

Top stories of the morning are coming up next.

There may be a huge break in a decades old murder case in Mississippi. We'll have the latest.

Plus, new developments this morning in that mercury spill at a Los Angeles subway station we told you about exclusively. An arrest is raising new questions about how fast or how not fast authorities responded. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: A CNN exclusive. Los Angeles authorities under investigation for the failed response to what could have been a terror attack.

S. O'BRIEN: Opportunity for al Qaeda. A power vacuum in Somalia. Could the terrorists take hold? The U.S. military is now taking action there.

M. O'BRIEN: A break in a 43-year-old case. A suspect in two murders in Mississippi finally in custody and will face justice on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody, Thursday, January 25th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. Thanks for being with us. Happening this morning, Vice President Dick Cheney giving no ground to lawmakers who voted for a resolution against President Bush's Iraq troop surge. Cheney telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer the president made his decision. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 12 to nine for the resolution saying the troop buildup is not in the national interest. The nonbinding measure expected before the full Senate next week.

General David Petraeus expected to become a coalition commander in Iraq. Full Senate vote there today on his nomination for that. The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved Petraeus for the post yesterday.

President Bush out to sell his new health care plan today. He'll visit Lee Summit, Missouri, just outside Kansas City. He'll tour a hospital and hold a private roundtable on cutting health care costs.

Another hat expected in the presidential ring today, getting kind of crowded there. California Congressman Duncan Hunter will announce his intentions today at a fund raiser in South Carolina. Hunter is a 14-term congressman from San Diego County.

In Mississippi an arraignment this morning in a 43-year-old murder case. Former Deputy Sheriff James Ford Seals now 71 years old facing Federal charges in the 1964 kidnapping and murder of two black teenagers. Seals family had claimed for years he had died. He was arrested Wednesday near where the teens had been killed 43 years ago.

More ethics charges against the district attorney in the Duke lacrosse case. Mike Nifong accused by the North Carolina state bar of withholding DNA evidence from the defense team for three players accused of sexual assault. These charges on top of other ethics complaints. If all of the charges stick, Nifong could lose his license to practice law. Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, he was wanted for almost a month, but it wasn't until CNN broke the story that LA police and Federal agents finally zeroed in on a potential terror suspect. Remember last week we showed you that weird videotape of a guy who was shown spilling mercury on a subway platform? Deb Feyerick broke the story for us and reports today that an arrest has some big questions surrounding it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man seen in a surveillance tape first obtained exclusively by CNN had been wanted for questioning for nearly a month. Five days after CNN's story which prompted authorities to go public, the man was taken into custody. A sheriff's department spokesman says an acquaintance recognized the photo and contacted authorities. Twenty seven-year-old Armando Bustamante Miranda was picked up in Hollywood, stops away from the Pershing Square station, where surveillance tapes show he opened a vial of liquid mercury spilling five fluid ounces.

The sheriff's spokesman says Miranda told detectives he had found the mercury in the dumpster and wanted to sell it to buy drugs. Mercury is a hazardous material that can be dangerous if touched or swallowed. The tape, recorded December 22nd, shows the man crouching in the middle of the platform. He appears to fiddle with the container before it spills. Authorities say Miranda told him he was fixated by the silvery liquid and that he used an emergency call box to notify a dispatcher after a passenger told him to report it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really has been a million-dollar lesson for free.

FEYERICK: The arrest comes amid growing criticism of how the sheriff's department, joint terrorism task force and metropolitan transportation authority handled the incident. Without knowing the man or his motives, Los Angeles authorities concluded the spill was not terror-related, a conclusion many terrorism experts told us was premature in a post 9/11 world where subways are obvious targets. Do you think, in your mind, that this is a dry run for a terror attack?

KEN ROBINSON, TERRORISM EXPERT: I for sure think that it should be treated as if it is.

FEYERICK: According to a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, officials at the agency did not learn of the spill through intelligence channels, but through a Los Angeles news website. The MTA admits there was a breakdown in communication, because although the spill was reported to an MTA dispatcher moments after it happened, according to the hazmat report, authorities weren't notified until eight hours later. The agency has launched an internal investigation and tells CNN it has changed its protocols and plans to re-train employees how to handle hazardous material spills. Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: Londoners woke up today to new images of terror. A chilling look at the alleged plot for a second wave of attacks on the London underground. CNN's Paula Newton live from London with more. Good morning, Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles. I'm at Oval Station in south London, the scene of those incidents you speak of, on July 21st, 2005. Six men are now on trial in connection with the incidents of that day. The jury in the trial has heard some startling testimony and now, there are some gripping images to go with it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON (voice-over): The unexploded bomb looks like an oozing omelet. Prosecutors allege it could have been very deadly. The jury heard chilling forensic testimony that the homemade cocktail of hydrogen peroxide and flour encased in a plastic jug and laced with bolts and screws, would have caused serious death, serious internal injuries and loss of limbs. The only reason it didn't work, a forensic expert testified, was that the peroxide wasn't strong enough. That followed more than two minutes of terrifying video played in court, silent footage from a security camera inside a London subway car at the exact moment when authorities allege Ramzi Mohammed (ph), wearing a New York shirt and a backpack turns his back towards a mother and child and detonates a homemade bomb.

Witnesses testified they heard a loud bang. Smoke started billowing from the suspect's backpack and then panic and confusion spread through the car. There is a scramble to get to an adjoining car. All the while, the train is still at full speed. Nadia Barrow was desperate to get her baby out of there, testifying, because of what happened on July 7th, I was panicking. I thought I was going to die.

Her savior was firefighter Angus Campbell. He testified he helped Barrow into the next car with her baby, pulled the alarm and told the driver, there's been an explosion. Stop the train, but don't open the doors. Alone in the car now with the suspect, Campbell says he started yelling at him, what have you done? He says the man answered this is wrong. This is wrong. Campbell says he asked about the backpack and the suspect responded it's bread. It's bread. Campbell says he then told the man to hit the floor, but the train pulled into the station and the doors opened. Prosecutors say security cameras picked up a high-speed chase through the station. Witnesses say a few tried to stop the suspect from escaping, but they failed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Ramzi Mohammed was arrested a few days later but he denies the conspiracy to murder charges, as do his five codefendants, but Miles, prosecutors in court whenever they get a chance try and underscore the fact to the jurors that look, as far as they're concerned, the three incidents on the subway cars and the one incident on the bus all homemade bombs, all wearing backpacks. He says and he insists the prosecutor these men knew or at least believed that these bombs would blow up and kill and maim dozens of people. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Hard to imagine how horrifying it would have been on that car particularly given what has happened in London.

NEWTON: It was certainly a very dramatic testimony. I mean, Miles in court right now the jurors, everyone in court is riveted. Can you imagine this video shows the exact moment and it shows what prosecutors allege is the suicide bomber in the act. For any of us here that ride the public transportation system in London, they are not images that we're going to forget too quickly. Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Paula Newton in London, thank you. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Al Qaeda is in east Africa. According to U.S. military officials, that is the reason behind a second air strike, U.S. air strike in southern Somalia this month. The question now is, is the U.S. launching a war against Osama bin Laden's terror network in Somalia? Here's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr's report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Ethiopian troops leave Somalia and African peacekeepers have yet to arrive, there is growing concern a power vacuum is again emerging in a country that hasn't had a functioning government in years and the worry is that al Qaeda could fill the void. To keep that from happening, the U.S. is continuing their strikes against al Qaeda strongholds in southern Somalia. On Monday a USAC 130 gunship flying from Ethiopia attacked suspected al Qaeda targets near the Kenyan border, the second U.S. air strike this month.

KEN GUDE, NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY ANALYST: These people who are responsible for the bombings of the east African embassies in 1998 and perhaps even the "USS Cole" in 2000. They should not be able to get away with that.

STARR: U.S. officials say the strike killed about half a dozen people. One mid level al Qaeda operative may have been taken into custody. So far, there is no indication that senior al Qaeda members were killed and like the strike earlier this month, a handful of U.S. personnel were on the ground afterwards collecting evidence according to military officials.

Although the Ethiopians drove out the Islamic militia running Somalia, east Africa remains in al Qaeda's gun sights. In his latest message, Ayman al Zawahiri warned that Somalia is a definite disaster, and threatened attacks. The U.S. military is keeping plenty of fire power in the region. Aircraft from five warships continue their patrols over Somalia, looking for al Qaeda.

(on-camera): The U.S. intelligence community now believes it's possible that some senior al Qaeda operatives have already escaped from Somalia and could be anywhere. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, a smuggler is nabbed trying to sell uranium used in nuclear bombs. It's a chilling close call in the war on terror. We'll tell you about it.

Plus Lebanon under siege and asking the world for money. What happened to the money that's already been donated? That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning, right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Here's a look now at stories that CNN correspondents around the world are covering today.

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ryan Chilcote in Moscow. A Russian man has been arrested for trying to sell weapons-grade uranium in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. That's coming from both U.S. and Georgian officials. Those officials say that this man was actually arrested last year, then tried and sentenced for that attempted sale in a sting operation in the republic of Georgia, that officials say both members of the FBI and CIA took part in. The officials say that this is a very worrisome development, but the man did not have enough uranium to make an atomic bomb.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Nic Robertson in Beirut. The war with Israel last summer cost this country $2 billion. Its leaders are in Paris right now at a donor's conference trying to get money to rebuild. The French have promised $500 billion, the European Union another half a billion, but the Hezbollah-led opposition here says the government isn't spending the money properly and there's concern that some donors will be put off because of the violence of the past few days.

S. O'BRIEN: For more on these or any of our top stories, logon to our website at cnn.com.

M. O'BRIEN: About quarter of the hour now. Chad Myers at the CNN weather center. He's got the traveler's forecast. We're bundling up here Chad, got the long Johns ready.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. If you're traveling on I-95 across Connecticut or even over toward White Plains, it is snowing this morning, part of a lake effect snow event. The moisture getting picked up by the cold air coming across the lakes and it kind of blow it is off toward the south and east because the winds are from the northeast. But if I zoom in here on Yonkers and White Plains and Stamford north, yes, that is snow outside. Open the curtains you might see it even on northern sections of Long Island seeing a little bit of snow as well. Do have lake effect snow warnings, wind chill effect warnings. It is going to be a cold couple of days, going to be cold. I mean it's not really going to affect you forever here, but there's going to be wave after wave of cold air as it comes in off the northern part of the Hudson Bay. This is way up north. This is cold, cold air.

Everywhere that you see purple here, this light purple, that's going to be a foot of snow or more, maybe eight inches or more and that right around, I call that the lake effect areas around Cleveland, Ashtabula and so on and even towns (ph) of Buffalo.

Rain across south Florida today. If you're flying anywhere into southern Georgia all the way to Florida, you may have airport delays for sure because of the low cloud cover and the heavy, heavy rainfall there right now. Twelve degrees the low in tonight in New York, but it's going to feel like 12 below with that wind chill factor because those are cold north winds rolling down through the plains. New York City your low tomorrow is 12 and it's going to go down from there for awhile, then back up and down and back up and down. This is going to be pneumonia weather and I'll show you how and why. Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Isn't that a myth, that hot/cold thing, pneumonia?

MYERS: It's probably pneumonia sure, but if you don't expect to be really hot and cold, you don't expect it to be really cold, you walk outside with a light jacket on, then you put yourself and expose yourself to that.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, thank you, doctor.

MYERS: I just play one on TV.

M. O'BRIEN: There you go.

Come out, we're going to check out the video grid, new video coming in to CNN all the time. That's just some of what we're watching all the time. Kids, if you like to watch TV, you should grow up and be a producer.

Plus a health emergency on the "QE2". The latest on the investigation is ahead as AMERICAN MORNING steams along.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at the feed, some of the things we're watching right now. The U.S. capitol and it's going to be a busy place today as we follow a couple of things. First of all there will be the full vote on General Petraeus. He's become the leader of U.S. forces in Iraq. The vote out of the committee was unanimous. Iraq reconstruction and political strategy at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold a hearing on Iraq reconstruction strategy. Senate Jim Webb is a member of the committee and he's been talking about whether money earmarked for Iraq should instead be headed toward Katrina victims and victims of the gulf of Rita (sic) as well.

That's incoming 16, that's NASA TV. They're doing a replay of a shuttle mission, but up here on 86, this is off the JPL website, jpl.nasa.gov. And the reason we bring it up, I don't know if you can do a full on that. Can we do a full on that? It's a great image -- there it is. That's one of the panoramas from the "Opportunity" rover, three years old today, three years since landing, which is well beyond its expected warranty. It's supposed to last only three months and among other things found telltale signs, smoking gun signs of ancient water beds or water pools on Mars, which may be, just maybe, we don't have proof yet, might have had some sort of microscopic life in them. So happy anniversary to "Opportunity." "Spirit" of course landed just a few weeks prior. This is the famous crater where a lot of those discoveries occurred. Back to you Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right Miles, thank you. The norovirus (ph) strikes again, this time on the "Queen Elizabeth II" which is now docked in San Francisco. The luxury liner was on a global cruise when more than 300 of the 1600 passengers and crew came down with norovirus, which is highly contagious. It's a stomach virus. The Centers for Disease Control says now though only four people are still ill. The ship's crew took emergency measures including disinfecting casino chips and stopping the ships self-service buffet in order to stop the spread of the virus.

Ahead this morning, winter is about to hit the northeast with some very dangerous wind chills. We're going to talk to Chad in just a moment, get your traveler's forecast, too.

Plus Home Depot now under fire for building a giant golden parachute for its outgoing CEO. We'll tell you about the blueprints for its new top economic executive. Your money and business straight ahead with that story.

And undercover with Chester cheetah. Have you ever seen this with your kids on the web? We'll talk about the hidden messages in ads. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody. Happening right now at Heathrow airport, British Airways is canceling dozens of flights over the next couple of days. They're preparing for a possible strike by the airlines cabin crews.

And "Gray's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington has checked himself into rehab, into therapy. He's seeking counseling (INAUDIBLE) to help him understand why he called a cast mate an anti-gay slur, especially when their show is number one. It seem so inexplicable, doesn't it?

M. O'BRIEN: Where do you go for that?

S. O'BRIEN: I didn't know there was a treatment center for homophobic remarks but apparently there is.

M. O'BRIEN: Burgeoning business maybe, who knows.

All right. Home Depot seems to have learned its lesson, but I guess that's kind of like bad news for the new CEO. Fifty six minutes past the hour. Carrie Lee, he's earning a fraction of his predecessor. Good morning Carrie.

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think most people are Miles. Bad news relatively speaking here for new Home Depot chief Frank Blake. He has come to the helm recently at the company, replacing Bob Nardelli. A lot of complaints about Nardelli's very large severance package. Blake's salary $975,000 a year base. However, he's not going to receive any severance money if he decides to leave the company. Now depending on how the company and the stock perform, he could earn up to $9 million a year, certainly no small chunk of change there, but compare that to Nardelli's near $26 million salary that, excludes stock options. Also when Nardelli left and he was at the helm for six years, he took a severance package worth $210 million. Some shareholders have tried to stop that payout over the past five years. Most of the time Nardelli chief, Home Depot shares meanwhile lost 20 percent. Is this a trend? Experts say the lower pay, that is, experts say probably not because the people who are capable of running a company are in such high demand that they can warrant these high salary levels. So Miles and Soledad, it must be nice at the top. Back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Carrie, do you microwave your sponges?

LEE: No, wouldn't they explode or something?

M. O'BRIEN: Brilliant, brilliant! Yes, that is the problem. That takes us right to some of the other headlines we're looking at. Full range of news stories for you folks always. CNN.com popular stories right now, exploding sponge alert, exploding sponge alert. There's a study that comes out. You heard about this.

S. O'BRIEN: I've done it. It works.

M. O'BRIEN: You've done it. It works. What did you do? The key thing you did?

S. O'BRIEN: I wet down the sponge.

M. O'BRIEN: You wet the sponge, yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and it kills al the germs, disinfects your sponge.

M. O'BRIEN: Ladies and gentlemen, wet the sponge. I'll say it one more time, wet the sponge, because if you don't, if you put a dry sponge in there and try to disinfect, what do you get?

S. O'BRIEN: You set your house on fire.

M. O'BRIEN: Small conflagration you might say. Problems with your microwave as one correspondent wrote to Reuters upset with their article which omitted this little detail apparently. It caught fire, smoked up the house, ruined my microwave and pissed me off. The sponge is worthless afterwards. You have throw it out and your entire house stinks like a burning tire for several hours. So by all means, wet the sponge. S. O'BRIEN: They probably should have mentioned that in the story. I thought it was obvious, but we should just tell everybody. But it works. Two minutes, no more, wet sponge.

A bit of a surprise coming from the "LA Times" this morning, Americans are driving less for the first time since 1980. Naturally, it's because of two years of record-high gas prices. Nationwide trips on public transportation jumped the most when the average cost of gas topped $3 a gallon, knew that was coming.

M. O'BRIEN: (INAUDIBLE) It seems like people are out there just as much, but whatever.

Let's get to weather now, Chad Myers, who has been walking to work because of high gas prices, right Chad?

MYERS: Nineteen miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Barefoot in the snow.

MYERS: I'm losing weight fast now. We are seeing snow now and we will expect to see more snow, Buffalo all the way to Cleveland, lake effect snow. This is the computer forecast everywhere that you see this pink color. That's eight inches of snow or more. It's going to start. Winter's on its way. It's just - I don't know - three months late. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

S. O'BRIEN: War of words, the Senate committee rejects President Bush's plan to surge troops into Iraq. The vice president tells CNN that won't stop us.

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