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AMERICAN MORNING

L.A. Emergency Authorities Revamp Policies After Slow Response To Mercury Spill In Subway; Danger on the Roads

Aired January 25, 2007 - 07:00   ET

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


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Los Angeles authorities under investigation for that failed response to what could have been a terror attack.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Terror on tape, panic and heroism, too, caught on video, as a would-be bomber tries to blow up a subway train.

M. O'BRIEN: And danger on the roads. A startling new study out today about what kills teens behind the wheel. It's not what you think. Those stories ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

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

M. O'BRIEN: I'm Miles O'Brien.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin in Iraq this morning. Here's what's new. At least four people are dead more than a dozen others are hurt after a bomb that was rigged to a parked motorcycle blew up in a market Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad this morning. Another bomb, in another market, this one in a religiously mixed part of western Baghdad blew up. There are at least two people dead in that bombing.

Here at home, the war over the war. CNN's Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill this morning with congressional response to the president's plan to add troops. Ed Henry is at the White House for us this morning. Let's begin with Dana.

Good morning, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning.

And in the committee that you were just talking about, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the vote was 12 to 9. And every senator who opposed sending more troops to Iraq said the resolution they were voting for may be nonbinding, meaning it is symbolic, but they hope at least it will get the president's attention.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice over): And 12 hours after the president asked Congress to give his new Iraq plan time to work, he got his answer. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee began debate on a resolution opposing more troops in Iraq. SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D-DE): What it is, it's an attempt to save the president from making a significant mistake with regard to our policy in Iraq.

BASH: The nonbinding resolution says a troop increase is not in the national interest of the United States.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, (R-NB): We better be as sure as you can be. I want every one of you, every one of us, 100 senators to look in that camera you tell your people back home what you think.

BASH: The sole Republican who voted for the resolution challenged the entire Senate to engage in what he called an overdue debate about a mangled war.

HAGEL: Why are you elected? If you wanted a safe job, sell shoes.

BASH: Although nine out of 10 GOP senators voted against the measure, almost none said they support the president.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): I am not confident that President Bush's plan will succeed.

BASH: The committee's top Republican said he was voting against the resolution because it would send the wrong signal to U.S. troops and he said the White House wouldn't listen any way.

LUGAR: This vote will force nothing on the president. But it will confirm to our friends and allies that we are divided and in disarray.

BASH: Four Republicans on the committee said they agree with Democrats that sending more troops to Iraq is a mistake. But said they are looking for what they consider less controversial language to support.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (R-AK): I happen to disagree with the president on the surge. I don't believe that is the most effective way for us to move forward at this point in time. Do I feel disloyal in saying that? No.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: The real test will be next week with votes on the Senate floor. Several leading Republicans have cosponsored another resolution that also opposes the president on this plan in Iraq. But does so with less confrontational language, and therefore they think it could get significant bipartisan support -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Dana Bash for us this morning on Capitol Hill. Thank you, Dana.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Vice President Dick Cheney pulling no punches about Iraq telling CNN that Congress can do what it wants, but it won't stop the president's plan to get more troops on the battlefield. Ed Henry with more from the White House.

Good morning, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning, Miles. That's right.

Iraq overshadowing the effort to try and sell that State of the Union agenda. It's a scaled back sales effort, anyway. If you think back two years ago after that State of the Union address the president raced out on a two-day, five-state tour to sell his signature Social Security plan, that obviously fizzled out any way. And the president's political capital has been evaporating since.

Today it's a quick day trip to Missouri, the president visiting a hospital there to try to sell his health care plan. He wants to make health insurance and coverage a standard tax deduction, try to get more people -- encourage them to get insured.

Democrats already charging that that will be a tax increase for some. Yesterday was just a quick day trip to Delaware. The president trying to sell his energy initiative.

But again, all of the domestic agenda being overshadowed by Iraq. The Senate vote yesterday, really a blow to the president's policy of trying to send more troops to Iraq. But as you noted in that CNN exclusive interview, Vice President Cheney made it clear the Senate will not stop the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are moving forward. The Congress has control over the purse strings, they have the right, obviously, if they want to cut off funding. But in terms of this effort, the president has made his decision. We have consulted extensively with them, we will continue to consult with the Congress. But the fact of the matter is we need to get the job done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: And when pressed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer about the criticism that the White House has lost credibility because of mistakes made in Iraq, the vice president said, quote, "hogwash" -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Ed Henry at the White House, thank.

In Mississippi, an arraignment this morning in a 43-year-old murder case. Former Deputy Sheriff James Ford Seal, now 71, facing federal charges in the 1964 kidnapping and murder of two black teenagers. Seal's family had claimed for years that was dead. He was arrested Wednesday near where the teens had been killed 43 years ago. More on this case live from Mississippi later this hour -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: On to a CNN "Security Watch" this morning. Londoners are waking up to chilling new video of an alleged plot to bomb the city's Underground. Here in the states more on that mysterious mercury spill in the LA subway. Paula Newton is live for us in London, this morning. Debra Feyerick is with us in the studio. Let's begin with Paula, in London, and the terror trial that is going on right there.

Hey, Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Hello, Soledad. I'm at the tube stop where one of the incidents from July 21, 2005 took place. There is a trial ongoing. There are six defendants. They deny the charges. The jury so far has heard some gripping testimony and there is startling video.

Take a look at this. This is CCTV footage from inside the subway car, at the exact moment that prosecutors allege the would-be suicide bomber, having a homemade bomb on his back, turns his back to a mother and child, and detonates.

Prosecutors allege that the would-be suicide bomber thought that bomb would go off. It malfunctioned. It was smoking. There was panic, confusion. People tried to leave the car. They did. But in all of that, the suspect escaped.

Ramsey Mohammed, and five other defendants, were arrested later. This trial continues.

But I can tell you, Soledad, as some CCTV footage continues to come out, London commuters are really chilled by it. Because all of us who ride the public system here can certainly relate to being one of those people, in that car, at the moment that the bomb goes off. Many people going in with different bags, different backpacks, every day. And it really is getting people talking in this city. The trial continues for several more weeks -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Paula Newton in London for us. Thank you, Paula.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: On to another subway scare in Los Angeles this morning. Still a lot of unanswered questions about a shockingly slow response to what could have been a terror attack. The man caught on tape spilling mercury, that we first told you about exclusively, not a would-be terrorist. But what if he was? CNN Deborah Feyerick joining us now. She has been following up on her exclusive report.

Deb, good morning.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Well, Miles, we can tell you that the quote from the head of the transportation authority is, we messed up. The agency launched an internal investigation and is changing its protocols. And now authorities seem to know the man's motives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FEYERICK (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 said 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 up a vile of liquid mercury, spilling five fluid ounces.

The sheriff's spokesman said Miranda told detectives that he had found the mercury in a 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 22, shows the man crouching in the middle of the platform. He appears to fiddle with the container before it spills.

Authorities say Miranda told them 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.

STEVE WHITEMORE, LA COUNTY SHEFIFF'S DEPT.: 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.

(On camera): 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 admit there's was a breakdown in communication because though the spill was reported to an MTA dispatcher moments after it happened, according to the HAZMAT report, authorities were not notified until eight hours later.

The agency has launched an internal investigation and tells CNN it has changed its protocols and plans to retrain employees how to handle hazardous material spills.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: Now, Miranda is originally from Ohio. The sheriff's department describes him as a drug addict with no fixed address. He served time for drugs and is being held now for violating probation, but it is likely he will face charges for spilling the mercury. M. O'BRIEN: I have to say that I'm shocked at the complacency here. Before 9/11, some Saudis taking pilot lessons, were seen -- you know, most people dismissed that. It's these kinds of things that could lead to something. Why are people sitting on their hands, at this point?

FEYERICK: I think that's what the shock in the intel community was, is that you have somebody who spilled mercury, why wasn't the search much, much more aggressive. In terms of going public with the information, we understand that there was some debate within various agencies, but ultimately they didn't really do this manhunt until they went public. And they went public because they knew we were going to run a story.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Let's hope some lessons are learned. This is the way to learn them, I guess.

FEYERICK: Exactly.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Deb.

S. O'BRIEN: No comment yet, either, from 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, which is about four ounces, of uranium that he was carrying in a plastic bag in his jacket pocket.

The U.N. will report the arrest -- we're told -- sometime this week. It happened in the former Soviet state of Georgia. The man claimed that he had more uranium stashed, enough to make a small bomb.

You will want to bundle up. A bitter cold snap will be coming your way. Severe Weather Expert Chad Myers has the forecast straight ahead.

Plus, is the U.S. ramping up a new war on Al Qaeda? We'll take you live to the Pentagon with an update on that story.

And then more of Wolf Blitzer's exclusive interview with Vice President Dick Cheney. The vice president getting a bit testy when asked Iraq, and asked about his gay daughter's pregnancy. We'll have some of that interview.

The most news in the mourning is right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Most news in the morning right here -- maybe the most weather. Certainly the most accurate weather, 7:15 Eastern Time. Let's get the "Travelers' Forecast from Chad Myers.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: More of Vice President Dick Cheney and his somewhat combative interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Things got pretty testy, especially toward the end of exclusive interview, when Wolf was asking the vice president about critics of his daughter Mary Cheney. She's pregnant. Says she plans to raise her child with her lesbian partner. Here is his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: We are out of time. A couple issues I want to raise with you. Your daughter, Mary, she's pregnant. All of us are happy, she's going to have a baby. You're going to have a grandchild.

Some critics, though, are suggesting -- for example, a statement from someone representing the Focus on the Family, "Mary Cheney's pregnancy raises the question what's best for children. Just because it's possible to conceive a child out of the relationship with a married mother and father, doesn't mean it's best for the child."

Do you want to respond to that?

CHENEY: No, I don't.

BLITZER: She's obviously, a good daughter.

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

BLITZER: I think all of us appreciate you daughter.

CHENEY: I think you're out of line.

BLITZER: We like your daughters. Believe me, I'm very, very sympathetic to Liz and to Mary. I like them both. That was just a question that's come up, and it's a responsible fair question.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: Mary Cheney has served in her father's campaigns. Written an book about her life, and her family. A reminder, you can watch Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room" on weekdays, at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, a lot has changed since Henry Ford rolled out his first Model T, to say the least. Ford shareholders are now getting ready for a rocky road ahead. Grim picture there.

Plus, a startling new study just out today about what kills teens when they get behind the wheel. No, it's not that. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: In London this morning at Heathrow Airport, British Airways canceling hundreds of flights. The company will keep doing the same over the next couple of days. The airline is bracing for a strike by flight attendants. And who wants to be a millionaire 254 times over? One winning Powerball ticket is out there. It's worth $254 million. I hope what I just said does not send anybody into a dumpster diving session -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Nobody has ever claimed teens are the best drivers, but new numbers out today shows just how dangerous they can be. The problem is they may be learning some of their scary habits behind the wheel, from their parents. AMERICAN MORNING's Chris Lawrence has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING (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, there was a pack of gum in the driver's seat pocket. 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.

SABET: I loved being her mom, from the moment she was born to the moment she left. That night I lost being her mom. I miss her so much.

LAWRENCE: A new study of teenage drivers suggests 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. Driver's using cell phones. More than a third don't wear seat belts consistently.

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

LAWRENCE: Actually, they are inexperienced, and according to Jill's brother, easily distracted.

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

LAWRENCE (on camera): So teenage driver's should pay closer attention. Easy for adults to say, but when those drivers are out on the road, what do they see?

(Voice over): Men making calls, women getting ready for work, everyone eating. When you are 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. SABAT: I don't care if it's not cool. I don't care if my friends will bag on me for it. I want to keep people safe.

LAWRENCE: And parents, two thirds of teens surveyed say when it comes to driving, your opinion still matters. Chris Lawrence, CNN, CNN, San Clement, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: Gosh, that's such a sad story. You have to figure out how to get the kids to do what you want them to do, when you're not there to oversee it.

M. O'BRIEN: Well we focus so much about drinking and driving, tell them to slow down, all those things. And you forget, you know, you're doing that -- you are giving them that advice, and you're talking on the phone while you're driving. What's the message?

S. O'BRIEN: Right. And everybody is working on their Blackberry when they're not supposed to be. And everybody is eating and --

M. O'BRIEN: Blackberrying and driving -- don't do that.

S. O'BRIEN: They do. That's the message you send.

M. O'BRIEN: We knew 2006 was a bad year for Ford. But how bad was it? About 24 minutes past the hour, Carrie Lee, "Minding Your Business".

Historically bad, I guess you could say.

CARRIE LEE, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Historically bad, would be an understatement, Miles.

The numbers just in a few moments ago. Ford posting its worst annual loss in its 103-year history; $12.7 billion in losses in 2006. Nearly half of that, $5.8 billion, lost in the fourth quarter alone. Bottom line, we know this story, high gas prices have put a crimp in sales, there is less demands for Fords bread & butter trucks and SUVs. Japanese rivals continue to gain ground with their more fuel efficient cars.

Also, looking ahead, analysts say that 2007 is not going to be a great year for Detroit either. In the case of Ford they're not expecting a big rebound. General Motors will report on Tuesday. We will hear from Daimler-Chrysler mid-February.

One caveat, going forward, President Bush's plan to raise fuel economy standards, if that happens it could force Detroit to come up to speed, compared to other makers, like Toyota and Honda. But, of course, Miles and Soledad, Detroit would have to spend money to get there and raise their standards. But that is the latest from Ford.

We'll certainly be watching that stock today.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Carrie Lee, thank you very much.

Top stories of the morning are coming up next. The war in Iraq, and the war on Capitol Hill. A Senate push to stop the build up of troops. How far will it go?

And a break in a cold case, a cold-blooded murder. What could be justice at last for a determined family, 43 years after some murders in Mississippi? A live report is ahead.

You are watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in morning, right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: War of words: A Senate resolution says no to sending more troops to Iraq; the vice president firing back, only on CNN.

S. O'BRIEN: Lying, withholding evidence, new and more serious charges against the former prosecutor in that Duke lacrosse case. We'll tell you what they are saying now.

M. O'BRIEN: Selling the fat to your kids. A dangerous game found on the Internet that doubling as a junk food ad. Those stories, and much more, ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

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

M. O'BRIEN: I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you are with us.

Happening this morning: Details emerging of a foiled plot to smuggle refined uranium, the kind used in nuclear bombs. A Russian man caught trying to sell it, carrying it in a plastic bag in his pocket. He is in jail now in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. He claimed to have enough uranium to make a small bomb.

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

A lot of unhappy flyers in London this morning. British Airways announcing it is canceling all flights out of Heathrow and Gatwick, starting Tuesday of next week. Anticipating a strike by cabin crew members, British Airways says it hopes to settle with the union before the shutdown -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: The Senate has an answer to President Bush, no more troops to Iraq. A resolution that is going to the full Senate is the strongest rebuke to the president in nearly four years of war. Dana Bash is live for us on Capitol Hill. Good morning, Dana.

BASH: Good morning, Soledad.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed that resolution after some spirited debate. Really among the most spirited debate we have seen on Iraq in some time. And what was most striking about it is how different the dynamic has become. We're used to seeing Democrats lining up against the president, Republicans lining up for him, that did not happen. In fact, most Republicans on that committee were skeptical at best about sending more troops to Iraq. What the debate was about instead was whether or not passing a resolution would send the wrong message to America's enemies, and even Republicans said the president probably won't listen any way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR, (R) INDIANA: We are laying open our disunity without the prospect that the vehicle will achieve meaningful changes in our policy. This vote will force nothing on the president.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, (R) NEBRASKA: This is not a defeatist resolution. This is not a cut and run resolution. We are not talking about cutting off funds, not supporting the troops. This is a very real responsible addressing of the most divisive issue in this country since Vietnam. Sure it's tough, absolutely. And I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line on this.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now in the end that Republican senator we just heard from, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, was the only Republican to vote with the Democrats against the president on that particular resolution. But there are nine Republican senators by our count who oppose the idea of sending more troops to Iraq. That's why, Soledad, next week will be the real test on the Senate floor. We expect to see not just that resolution but another sponsored by leading Republicans with less confrontational language that might lure several Republicans into a vote against the president. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Ok, only a day and a half after the state of the union address when the president said give the plan time. It seems like nobody is really going to do that then.

BASH: It's pretty remarkable to talk to Republicans and ask that question. You know, the president came and pleaded, more time. Give this plan a chance to work. And basically everybody's mind is made up in terms of that particular issue. For example, Senator John Warner, I mentioned leading Republicans are going to push a resolution opposing the president's plan. I asked him whether or not the president had any sway over him. He said basically no, that he believes the best course for the United States Congress right now is to have a dialogue. He says that he wants the president to come here and say let's talk about this. Let's talk about a different way forward and not just say my plan or no plan at all. S. O'BRIEN: We certainly heard from the vice president that Congress has no sway over him. So I guess it's a back and forth on that one. Dana Bash for us this morning thanks Dana. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Another front on the war on terror prompting some big concern in Washington as well. The Pentagon ordering a second air strike in as many weeks aimed at suspected al Qaeda terrorists doing business in Somalia. Could there be an escalation on this front as well? Barbara Starr at the Pentagon with more. Good morning Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Miles. Well, consider this, five warships and dozens of U.S. fighter aircraft off the coast of Somalia. The target, al Qaeda in East Africa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (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 air strikes against al Qaeda strong holds in southern Somalia. On Monday, a U.S.A. C130 gun ship flying from Ethiopia attacks suspected al Qaeda targets near the Kenyan border. The second U.S. air strike this month.

KEN GUDE, NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY ANALYST: These are people who are responsible for the bombings of 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.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: But what may worry the U.S. intelligence community the most right now is officials say they believe it is possible some of those top al Qaeda operatives that had been hiding in Somalia for years may now have escaped and simply disappeared somewhere.

M. O'BRIEN: And they're apt to pop up somewhere eventually but it's difficult tracing them, isn't it?

STARR: Well it really is. There's about three people Miles that the U.S. really wants. People who the U.S. believes were involved in the embassy bombings in east Africa in 1998, possibly involved in the bombing of the Cole. These are senior al Qaeda operatives and that is really the goal of these air strikes. And sources tell us expect to see more of them in the weeks ahead, more military action.

M. O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Forty-three years after the crime, federal authorities are charging a former deputy sheriff in Mississippi who was also a reputed Klansman with murdering two black teenagers. His name is James Seal. He's going to be arraigned this morning in the civil rights era case. And it was a case that lay dormant literally for decades. CNN's Rusty Dornin live for us in Canton, Mississippi this morning. Good morning Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Soledad, as you pointed out, this case languished for 43 years. There is recognition of that in "The Jackson Clarion-Ledger," the forgotten killings. The picture of one of the victims, Charles Moore, whose brother is credited with helping to reopen this case. Seventy-one-year-old James Seal reputed to be a former Ku Klux Klansman was arrested on federal kidnapping charges. Now this is not the first time that Seal has been arrested in connection with this case. He and Charles Edwards were arrested in 1964 and charged with kidnapping and murder. Now according to FBI old documents, the FBI said to Seale at the time, we know you did it, you know you did it, the Lord knows you did it. Seale replied to them, "Yes but I won't admit it, you're going to have to prove it." Now it was turned over to local authorities at that time and just a few months later they released the pair saying that witnesses would not testify.

There had been intimidation and the case was pretty much dropped until 2000 when the FBI opened it again. But nothing happened until two years ago when Charles Moore's brother began a journey with a documentary filmmaker and a reporter from "The Jackson Free Press," a journey through Mississippi to plead with people to find out more about his brother. You could see a confrontation that Thomas Moore had with Charles Edwards, one of those suspects, in his pleas to try to find out what happened. Now apparently sources do say that Charles Edwards may have given information to the FBI which led to the arrest of James Seale. Ironically, James Seale will be arraigned in Jackson federal court today. Just about the same time that Thomas Moore will be at an FBI presser in Washington, lauding his arrest. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Wow, that's an incredible story. There were these rumors as you've said that Seale was dead. That the family was saying that and many people believed it. Did they believe it because it was sort of convenient to believe it? He wasn't so far from where it all happened.

DORNIN: It wasn't and that's what was so amazing that the family would tell reporters, well, he died. And no one was looking into it. I think primarily, too, because local authorities had never reopened the case to pursue whether indeed Seale was dead or not. A reporter from "The Clarion-Ledger" in Jackson apparently did talk to him in 2000. But Thomas Moore, the brother of the victim, was very surprised to find out that he was alive in 2005. And of course that's when the U.S. district attorney in Jackson said, look, we're going to reopen this case and take another look and this is what happened.

S. O'BRIEN: Gosh, it's amazing. Really forgotten on so many levels and then finally I guess brought back to the light. Rusty Dornin, great story, thanks for talking with us. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Well he pushed hard for a conviction in the Duke Lacrosse case, maybe too hard. Now the bar association is pushing back against District Attorney Mike NiFong. The details ahead.

And aiming junk food straight at your kids. Should food marketing bear some of the weight when it comes to child obesity? Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the house with that. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Most news in the morning right here. In Los Angeles, authorities probing that botched response to a suspicious spill in a subway station. What you saw here exclusively. What if it had been a terror attack?

Investigators on board the QE2, more than 300 passengers and crew sickened on the cruise liner. The Centers for Disease Control testing for the nor virus. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: There are two legal cases grabbing headlines this morning. New ethics charges in the Duke sexual assault case and Washington and the nation watching dramatic testimony in the Scooter Libby trial as well. Our senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin joins us to explain it all.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow, there's a lot to get to, so let's begin with the Duke case. You have Mike NiFong, the prosecutor who was taken off the case after the first round of ethics charges last month. Now there's a new round, what are the two added charges?

TOOBIN: The old charges involve his statements to the press. Did he prejudice the case by condemning the defendants too much before their trial? The new charges are actually much more serious. Frankly as a journalist I have a hard time getting too outraged about talking to the press. You know we beg people to talk to us and then I'm not going to sit around and condemn them. However, the new charges relate to the DNA evidence in the case and whether he withheld that evidence from the defense and made misleading statements in court. To me, and I think to most people, these are far more serious because these really relate to the fairness of the proceeding and the basic obligation of a prosecutor to disclose evidence to the defense if it's helpful to the defense.

S. O'BRIEN: Was there evidence withheld, does everybody agree with that point? And then I guess the question would be was it withheld intentionally?

TOOBIN: Well certainly the DNA expert, he's given interviews to "60 Minutes", he's testified in court, saying that he and NiFong agreed to withhold evidence that in the normal course of business certainly should have been turned over to the defense. You know, whether there was -- this was strictly within the letter of the law, that's probably going to be sorted out by the ethics committee. Boy, it certainly seems suspicious. And just as a former prosecutor, this is a bedrock obligation. This is not some technicality. If you have information that helps the defense, you are legally obligated to turn it over. And it's just shocking that he didn't.

S. O'BRIEN: When you think in a case that the nation was watching so closely, you would be careful not to make mistakes like that, that are alleged.

TOOBIN: What's so peculiar about Mike NiFong is that this guy did not have a history of doing this, did not have a history of being a politician. He seems to have acted completely out of character in the Duke case in the caldron of public attention which makes this really kind of baffling.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, let's talk about Scooter Libby. His attorney, we heard him say that essentially Karl Rove, trying to protect Karl Rove, he's being a scapegoat for Karl Rove, we heard him say that already. Then you had witnesses who told their side of the story on the stand. Did the witnesses help or hurt Libby?

TOOBIN: Well the witnesses certainly hurt Libby. I was in the courtroom during opening statements on Tuesday and I have to say I was a little baffled by the defense strategy, because the issue is really a narrow issue in the case. Which is did Scooter Libby lie to the grand jury and to the FBI? Whether there was some sort of attempt to protect Karl Rove in the White House was --

S. O'BRIEN: Political.

TOOBIN: It's hard to imagine why that's relevant one way or another. I think what Ted Wells, Libby's lawyer, who is an excellent lawyer is trying to do, is just create for the jury this sense that this was a confusing maelstrom of political and legal controversy and you can't just take these statements out of context.

S. O'BRIEN: Well isn't he trying to give context, when you hear the witnesses on the stand come up, you sort of say, well, in the context, maybe if this was all political well maybe these guys on the stand aren't telling the full truth.

TOOBIN: It is possible, but it's so interesting. You know who the key witness in that case is going to be, clearly is Tim Russert of NBC. Because what Libby told the FBI is Tim Russert told me about Valerie Plame, the CIA agent, that she worked for the CIA. All these other government officials are saying no, no, no, I told Libby. And so Russert is really the hinge on the whole case, which, frankly, as a journalist, is a position I would not want to be in.

S. O'BRIEN: It's weird. It's really weird.

TOOBIN: It is weird. S. O'BRIEN: All right, Jeff Toobin, thank you for clarifying all our major legal stories this morning. Appreciate it. Miles?

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, hackers who tapped into the computers at the retailer TJX --

S. O'BRIEN: T.J. Maxx.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, TJX is the corporate.

S. O'BRIEN: Well we all know it as TJ Maxx.

M. O'BRIEN: You ruined my punch line. They're taking those credit card numbers to the max. But Soledad just took the max from me. We'll tell you -- why don't you just finish this tease. Shall you, want to tease, go ahead.

S. O'BRIEN: We're going to tell you who should be done with checking there --

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: I'm a shopper there. I couldn't help but jump in. Go ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: Go ahead, no, you're doing this. I'm done, on strike.

S. O'BRIEN: Also, we're going to be -- this is an important issue for kids, how some websites could make your kids fatter because they're eating unhealthy foods. We'll talk about that. Sanjay Gupta joins us straight ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: He'll give you the skinny.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Most news in the morning is right here. Where do we get our news? Well, this is one of the places we go, the grid. Washington, we're going to be watching Washington a lot today. For one thing the Senate Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday unanimously to approve the new head of U.S. forces in Iraq, David Petraeus, full Senate vote on that today. That will be a shoo in of course. Incoming 20, yet another presidential contender. I think there are now 6,423 presidential contenders. I believe that's correct. Isn't that correct Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, very close.

M. O'BRIEN: In that neighborhood. That South Carolina, fundraiser where Duncan Hunter, 14-term congressman from San Diego will throw his hat into the ring. Can't tell the players without a program on that one. Let's move along here and show you what else do we have here? Over here on incoming 18, that's a piece I did the other night, watched the state of the union with some rabid Capitol Hill staffers there. They go to bars to watch speeches there instead of football games. That will be one of the topics we will discuss on Miles cam because you know what Thursday is, boys.

Miles cam!

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. There it is in all its full screen glory. Miles cam, send your questions right now, milescam@cnn.com. We read the answers to you or I come up with answers of some kind or I dodge and weave a little bit. Whatever, at cnn.com/pipeline, 10:00 a.m. eastern time. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: I want to ask a question about that how did you get the job of going to a bar and drinking as a story?

M. O'BRIEN: Well, wait until you see the special report with the margaritas on there. That's going to be the interesting one.

S. O'BRIEN: I'd like to see if that one gets approved. Let's talk about America's obesity epidemic. It's growing, 9 million children are affected according to the Centers for Disease Control. And now there's evidence of hidden messages that could be adding to America's weight problem. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more in this morning's fit nation report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Go under cover with Chester Cheetah. Sling syrup for points or take a ride on the pop tarts slalom. These are the newest Internet games young kids are playing, hours of free entertainment. But these are more than just games. The Kaiser Family Foundation calls them adver- games because of the ads and characters pushing food products as kids play.

VICKY RIDEOUT, KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION: As we look at the problem of childhood obesity and as we look at the possible role of food marketing and perhaps helping to address the problem of childhood obesity, we need to be sure we're looking at online food marketing to kids.

GUPTA: A report by the foundation says 8 out of the 10 brands that advertise to children on TV, some healthier than others, are now trying to reach kids on the Internet. It found 77 unique websites which received 12 million visits from children under the age of 12 in just three months. Three quarters of them featured adver-games. Some critics point to food marketing as one of several reasons American kids are becoming more overweight. The latest government figure shows the number of overweight and obese children has risen to 17 percent. That's a steady increase over the last 30 years.

RIDEOUT: The Internet is potentially way more powerful than television advertising ever dreamed of being. But it's also way more challenging in terms of any kind of oversight.

GUPTA: Where television ads are regulated in length, Internet ads for now are only regulated voluntarily. But advertisers point out that the Internet can be used to market healthy food as well as junk food.

DANIEL JAFFE, ASSN. OF NATIONAL ADVERTISERS: I believe that if you really did look at these sites you would find quite a number of foods that are healthy.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: The Federal Trade Commission is also studying junk food ads to see how manufacturers are marketing to children. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up in the program, President Bush becomes the salesman in chief. But are voters buying his state of the union offerings?

And a follow-up on that mercury spill in an L.A. subway and our exclusive there. An arrest made, a lesson learned but what if there's a next time? You are watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning. Right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Well if you shopped at TJ Maxx recently, you'd better double check your credit card statement because those hackers who hacked in and got some credit card numbers, well they're busy. It's a little before the top of the hour, Carrie Lee has that, minding your business. Good morning Carrie.

CARRIE LEE: Thanks Miles. Ching, ching, people are starting to rack up problems here for TJX. This is the first sign of fraudulent purchases that we have heard about involving TJX. We're seeing signs from several states as well as Hong Kong, even Sweden, that some of the credit card data that was taken from TJX's computer site has started to be used. Now TJX owns 2500 stores under the TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Bob's Stores, Home Goods and A.J. Wright stores, all of these locations. We're not sure how many accounts have been compromised, banking officials aren't disclosing that. But certainly the potential here with 2500 stores, even in the U.S. and outside of the U.S., well that is huge. So people need to be proactive. Check your bank statements. Also keep an active eye on your credit reports regularly if you think you might be a victim. Of course Miles and Soledad, not the first, probably not the last story we're going to hear about security breaches. Back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Carrie Lee, thank you.

(WEATHER REPORT)

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