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CNN NEWSROOM

Battle in Najaf; Killing of Two Young Black Men in 1964 Finally Brings Charges; Cabbies Refusing Fares Who Violate Religious Tenets; Hillary Campaigning

Aired January 28, 2007 - 16:00   ET

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


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news in Iraq, Fierce battle in Najaf. Hundreds of insurgents killed and a U.S. chopper brought down. Live coverage is straight ahead.
A cold case cracked. A brother's persistence leads to new charges in the 1964 killings of two young black men.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So by taking my alcohol into your cab, you are sinning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sinning to God, yes.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ROESGEN: Choosing faith over fares. Why some cabbies refuse to pick up passengers carrying certain baggage. Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Susan Roesgen today filling in for Fredricka Whitfield. We'll have those stories and more after a quick check of the headlines.

Now in the news, a pitched battle near Najaf, Iraq. The U.S. military says an American helicopter was shot down, killing two soldiers. This is cell phone video of this battle. Iraqi troops backed by U.S. forces facing off against a large group of gunmen. The Iraqi government says 250 to 300 insurgents have been killed.

Violence between rival Palestinian groups continued today with several kidnappings including this one, a brazen daylight attack. Fatah gunmen abducting a Hamas official in the West Bank. You're watching it here, it all happened in plain view of journalists who followed the gunmen.

Afghan President Ahmed Karzai met with Nancy Pelosi today telling her his country needs more U.S. help. Specifically, Karzai requested more training and equipment for his police and army. Pelosi is heading a congressional delegation that's visiting this region.

The Bush administration plans to tell Congress that Israel may have broken an agreement with the U.S. According to "The New York Times," the administration says the violations occurred last summer when Israel fired American supplied cluster bombs into Lebanon as it fought Hezbollah.

More on the breaking news in Iraq. A possible plot to kill that country's most senior Shiite cleric, has triggered a fierce battle going on right now. Hundreds of insurgents have apparently been killed in this fighting involving U.S. forces near the holy city of Najaf. And two American soldiers were killed in a helicopter shot down by the insurgents. With the latest, live from Baghdad is CNN's Arwa Damon. Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDETN: Hello, and you can see the intensity of the battle that you were just mentioning in that cell phone footage that was shot from the battle scene, hear the ringing of the gunfire, that plume of smoke that you see in those images, coming from the wreckage of the U.S. helicopter that did crash. The U.S. military confirming that the two Americans onboard were killed. They did say, however, that their remains were recovered. This is one of the more intense gun battles that we have seen throughout the country, especially this year and it all began a little before dawn. Iraqi police at about 5:30 local time in Najaf received a phone call that about 150 gunmen were amassing just north of the city, planning to carry out an attack against pilgrims, religious clerics, Shia clerics, against the Shia shrines there and also plotting to kill grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, the most revered Shia cleric here in Iraq. Now the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army responded immediately to this information. But they are telling us that when they arrived on scene what they found really surprised them.

They found 600 gunmen, a mix of both Sunni and Shia extremists, criminals, thugs that were well dug in, well armed and that were using sophisticated military tactics to target the Iraqis. Now, at one point after sustaining a number of casualties, the Iraqi security forces withdrew and called in for both American ground and air support. The Americans did respond, the Iraqis also calling in one of what they are calling their Scorpion force. This is one of their swat battalions that operate in a nearby province. Now the initial estimates that the Iraqis are basing simply on the amount of firepower that was used and the amount of resistance that they did encounter is that some 250 to 300 gunmen were killed in those clashes. They are as far as we understand, still ongoing. However, just recently the spokesman for the Iraqi security forces in Najaf appeared on al Iraqia state owned television here saying that he believed the operation was about 90 percent over. Susan?

ROESGEN: Arwa, you mentioned the grand ayatollah Ali Sistani, what might have happened if he had been killed?

DAMON: Truly, the impact on this nation would have been unimaginable, it would have been utterly devastating. If we think that the sectarian levels right now are high, should he have been killed, or should this plot really in any way, shape or form have succeeded, especially at such a religious time for Iraq Shia population, we would have seen the sectarian violence here really rise to levels that would be beyond the scope of imagination. Now the Iraqis and the Americans were expecting a major attack, especially around this time against Iraq's Shia community, against the pilgrims, and the clerics. But this has really shocked most because of its magnitude. And they are bracing themselves for other potential attacks that might be coming in the days ahead. Susan?

ROESGEN: All right, could get worse there. Thank you Arwa Damon joining us live in Baghdad.

Now in Chicago, retired brigadier David Grange, one of our CNN military analysts. General, if it is true that some 250 insurgents have been killed in this battle, that is not the limited street-to- street fighting we have seen before. Is this a new kind of battle? What does it mean for our strategy there?

DAVID GRANGE, U.S. ARMY (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I mean, actually, it is advantageous to the Iraqi army and to the U.S. forces to get this many insurgents in one place, actually plays into our hand. That's the way we like to fight insurgents instead of rooting them out one or two at a time in back alleys. So I think it's because they had a large offensive plan tied to Sistani, which as you just said a moment ago, if they would have taken -- killed him, it would have had unbelievable consequences and it was a reason mainly to make it more difficult for us to accomplish the mission we are trying do with the reinforcements heading that way.

ROESGEN: Well this may have been a good opportunity for the Iraqis to wipe out a large group of insurgents, but as we just mentioned also, two American servicemen killed in the downing of an American helicopter, that's the second military helicopter to be shot down in the past week. What kind of weapon could take one of those choppers down? If it was a shoulder fired missile, what does that say about the sophistication of the weapons that the insurgents have now?

GRANGE: It's not so much sophistication. I mean, if it's a surface-to-air missile like the old SA-7 type, Soviet surface-to-air shoulder fired weapon, it usually you could take a helicopter down with one shot. You know, anything can bring down a helicopter. An Ak-47 could bring down a helicopter. Helicopters can take hundreds of rounds and never come out -- pull out of the sky. They may just take one round and it could bring a helicopter down. So it just depends where its hit and any kind of weapon actually can take down a helicopter.

ROESGEN: Well general again, two of our military helicopters shot down in the last week. A contractor's helicopter shot down as well. We know that our troops depend on those choppers for cover. What are we doing to try to counter that and how might that change our strategy in the air?

GRANGE: Well first of all, you know helicopters give you the three-dimensional aspects of the battlefield with maneuverability and -- really it's advantageous to be able to fight on the ground and in the air in any kind of engagement, but they're vulnerable. And it's just the way it is. I remember from Vietnam, a lot of helicopters are lost but helicopters also save the fight many a time. And so it's -- when the three recent helicopters went down, actually it's not very unusual when you're talking about urban areas where people are heavily armed, where you're flying over streets between buildings, moving around, they're going to take a lot of fire. And so it's not actually unusual. The pilots are trained with tactics and techniques to avoid certain types of fire, they do that, but it's a dangerous job.

ROESGEN: Certainly we learned that today. Thank you, General Grange for joining us, one of our CNN military analysts.

Now in Davos, Switzerland is author Vali Nasr, he's an expert on Islam and he's the author of the book "The Shia Revival." Vali you had predicted a fight today. Is this what you expected? You had predicted that there was going to be violence at this religious festival. Is this really what you expected there?

VALI NASR, AUTHOR, "THE SHIA REVIVAL": Yes, in the sense that the insurgents has began to attack U.S. troops and Shia targets, beginning a week ago, and with their aim and the Shia involvement in civil war, the holy month would be the best time to target Shia shrines and Shia figures in order to pull the Shias into a major fight.

ROESGEN: Can you tell us more about this grand ayatollah Ali Sistani, why is he so powerful? Why does our CNN reporter Arwa Damon say that if he were killed, Iraq would be in a greater bloodbath than it is already?

NASR: Not only Iraq, actually the whole Middle East would be. Ayatollah Sistani is the most revered and the most followed Shia spiritual leader. He's like the Shia pope. The Shia follow him across the Middle East in religious affairs and his death at the hands of the insurgents would be of enormous symbolic value. It would be a repeat of the destruction of the shrine in Samara, Iraq in February 2000, which started the sectarian war. Sistani's death would really plunge Iraq and possibly the rest of the region into a bloodbath.

ROESGEN: You know Vali, it almost seems that American forces have become collateral damage in this sectarian violence. Are we focused on the right fight in Iraq?

NASR: No I don't believe so. The administration has been focused on the Shia militias on arresting Iranian agents for the past month. But in fact the fight in Iraq is the same fight that was there since 2003, it's the fight against the insurgents. They have gotten stronger. They are committed to making Iraq fail and to plant it into civil war and they're now showing with their audacity that they have great deal of military capability, whereas our policy has been focused on containing the sectarian conflict and fighting the Shia militia.

ROESGEN: Ok, thank you Vali Nasr, helping us out with your expertise there in Davos, Switzerland.

In other news out of Iraq, mortars fired at a girl's school killed five children today. The students ages 12 to 14, were taking their mid-term examines. Twenty-one people were wounded. And the military has announced the deaths of three more American servicemen. One died from wounds in fighting in Anbar Province and two were killed in separate bombings in the Baghdad area on Saturday.

Tonight we're going to have more on the fighting along Baghdad's bloody Haifa Street. Join Rick Sanchez for an up close look at the combat and hear more from the soldiers. It's "The Battle for Haifa Street" tonight at 7:30, only on CNN.

The Bush administration wants a bigger army and Marine Corps, but do enough Americans want to sign up for a hitch?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promised him in 2005 at his grave in Franklin County, Mount Olive Cemetery that I will fight until I die.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ROESGEN: A promise kept. Will it finally mean justice for his brother killed so many years ago? Ahead in the NEWSROOM a quest for resolution.

And why are these cabbies turning down customers at the Minneapolis Airport? Is it fair to pick and choose your fares? You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROESGEN: More on the headlines making news across America today. In California, a charity relief effort to help victims of the devastating freeze there. This weekend a convoy of trucks carrying more than 100 tons of food pulled into Orange Grove, California. That food will help 5,000 families who lost their livelihoods from the damaged citrus crop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were about a quarter of a mile from the parkway when it attacked me. And from then on, it was about a four- to-five-minute fight.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ROESGEN: He was attacked by a mountain lion and now living to talk about it. Jim Hamm speaking for the first time since he was mauled by a mountain lion in northern California. Hamm credits his wife with saving his life. She fought off the big cat with a tree limb. Game wardens in Redwood National Park believe they have killed the mountain lion that attacked him.

And a solemn anniversary for the nation's space program. Twenty one years ago today, this is what happened. The space shuttle "Challenger" exploded just seconds after liftoff. After a lengthy investigation the cause of the accident was blamed on a faulty design that could not hold up in the unusually cold weather that day at Cape Canaveral.

Turning to politics now and the ever-growing list of presidential hopefuls. The latest entry is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. The conservative Republican says he will file papers tomorrow to form a presidential exploratory committee. While he was governor of Arkansas, Huckabee gained national attention for losing more than 100 pounds and becoming a marathon runner. He's comparing his marathon training to the political race he's embarking on now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) FMR. ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: What I have to do is to do what I have always done when I have run marathons and that's run my race at my pace. And keep my focus on the finish line and not the start line.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ROESGEN: Well already at the starting line is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton who is drawing huge crowds in Iowa. Her first campaign trip since announcing her presidential bid. The Democrat spoke at a packed town hall meeting today in Davenport and yesterday she drew an enthusiastic overflow crowd in Des Moines. In about 20 minutes we will have a full report on Senator Clinton's give and take with the voters there. And we will tell you what she plans to do when she is attacked by a political opponent.

Just ahead, we'll talk to a Mississippi journalist who has devoted much of his career to tracking down cases of racial injustice and murder in the south.

And as the fight for Iraq continues, is the solution more American troops on the ground there? Later find out what Washington leaders say today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROESGEN: Under suspicion for years, under indictment today. James Ford Seale a 71-year-old former sheriff's deputy, remains in a Mississippi jail charged with kidnapping and conspiracy in the murder of two young black men 43 years ago. Seale has pleaded not guilty with the trial scheduled in April. And you know it can't come soon enough for the brother of one of the victims waiting 43 years for justice. CNN's Rusty Dornin has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 43 years, this was the only marker of the death of 19-year-old Charles Moore, a misspelled tombstone in the outer reaches of the local cemetery. Then two years ago his brother Thomas decided that was it.

THOMAS MOORE, BROTHER: I promised in 2005 at his grave in Franklin County, Mount Olive Cemetery, that I will fight until I die.

DORNIN: So Thomas Moore went home to Meadville, Mississippi, where the CBC documentary filmmaker and Donna Ladd a reporter from "The Jackson Free Press." She took us to where it all began on Main Street.

DONNA LADD, REPORTER, JACKSON FREE PRESS: This spot is where they were hitchhiking.

DORNIN: According to FBI informants in documents dating from 1964, the African-American teens were picked up by James Seale and Charles Edwards, reputed members of the Ku Klux Klan. The documents alleged Seale and Edwards took the young men here, to the Omachito National Forest.

LADD: They took them out of the car, they tied them to a tree and kind of around their waist and then they took these long skinny sticks that we call bean sticks and just started beating them.

DORNIN: When Thomas Moore went with CBC filmmaker David Riggen to this spot, the impassioned brother acted out the deed. The two young men are believed to have been alive when they were reportedly then tied to an engine block and thrown into the Old Mississippi River. Edwards and Seale were arrested in 1964, charged with kidnapping and murder. The FBI turned the case over to local authorities. But a justice of peace said witnesses refused to testify and the charges against Seale and Edwards were dropped. There just wasn't enough evidence, they said. When Thomas Moore vowed justice for his brother, James Seale was thought to have died years earlier. Then too his utter shock, Moore found out otherwise.

MOORE: They said no he haven't passed away. They directed us to where he lived. That changed our mission.

DORNIN: Seale lived here, in an RV on his brother's property.

MOORE: I'm calling for James Ford Seale!

DORNIN: Moore did everything but walk up to Seale's door. He even planted signs outside the property. In July 2005, the U.S. attorney's office agreed to take a fresh look at the case. Then 19 months later, James Seale was arrested. Seale has consistently denied involvement in the murders. Almost exactly 42 years after charges against him were dropped, James Seale was walked into federal court under heavy guard, arraigned on kidnapping and conspiracy charges in the deaths of Charles Moore and Henry Dee. Rusty Dornin, CNN, Meadville, Mississippi.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

ROESGEN: So a tireless pursuit of justice turns a cold case red hot. Joining us now in Jackson, Mississippi is investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell who has reported on civil rights era crimes for many years now. Jerry, what's been the reaction there to this arrest?

JERRY MITCHELL, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, there has been kind of a mix of response to that. I mean you have a number of people quite happy to see it come, people who maybe have known the people who are victims in this case, certainly the families who live here in Mississippi are happy to see this day come. And of course, there are some who feel like this is digging up the past and should be left alone.

ROESGEN: What do you make of the irony of this white suspect now facing a black female judge in court in Jackson, Mississippi?

MITCHELL: Well it is rather interesting and throughout the proceeding, he repeatedly used -- said yes ma'am, no ma'am, which was a courtesy title, of course, we know in the south was denied African- Americans back during the 1960s. ROESGEN: Can you tell us a little bit more about the victims? These two poor hitchhikers in the wrong place at the wrong time?

MITCHELL: Absolutely. They both were 19 years old. Henry Dee had been living in Chicago and had moved back down. Charles Eddie Moore had actually been attending Alcorn State University and had been involved in a student protest just weeks earlier. So he had actually been suspended from school for taking part in this student protest. And then, of course, was kidnapped and killed May 2nd of 1964.

ROESGEN: Jerry is a cold case, in your opinion is a cold case ever really cold? Or is there always some way to find a fresh lead?

MITCHELL: I think -- I think in a lot of these cases, there is such a thing as finding a fresh lead. But I think it needs enthusiasm and certainly hard work, a lot of hard work is involved. The FBI has worked very hard to put this case back together and certainly worked hard in '64 to put a case together. And as we have seen across the nation, this is possible. This is actually the 28th arrest that we've seen nationally in these cases since 1989.

ROESGEN: Jerry, have you ever worried about your own safety? You know, digging up these civil rights cases in the south.

MITCHELL: Well, at times. I know I had a Klansman one time call me and -- I was working then on the -- Vernon Damar was killed by the Klan here in Mississippi in 1966. And the guy who ordered it, Sam Bowers, who was the head of the Klan -- was reinvestigating that in '98 and this guy, Klansman called me and said, "Are you the one who put Byron D Lebeckwith away?" Byron D. Lebeckwith was the one responsible for killing Medgar Evers. And I kind of said, well, yeah. And he said did you think we were going to let you go unscathed? We know where you live. We have pictures of you and your family. So I was grateful to find out he lived in South Carolina so I figured out well at least he has a ways to drive.

ROESGEN: All right, well keep fighting the good fight Jerry Mitchell because we certainly need it.

MITCHELL: Thank you very much.

ROESGEN: You bet, thanks for being here.

The Bush administration wants the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to get bigger. How hard will it be to make that happen? We will take a look. And presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton says she wants to have a conversation with you, the voter. Find out how her campaign is going so far.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROESGEN: Half past the hour and here are the headlines. The U.S. military now confirms the crash of an American helicopter today near Najaf the chopper was brought down by enemy fire, possibly a missile killing two people onboard. It is described as an especially fierce battle. Hundreds of insurgents were killed in and around the Shiite holy city.

The political power struggle between Palestinian factions has intensified for a third straight day and this is a kidnapping caught on tape. Fatah gunmen abducting a Hamas official at gunpoint earlier today. According to Palestinian security forces, this is one of 50 kidnappings in recent days.

"The New York Times" is reporting that Israel may have broken its weapons agreement with the United States by using U.S. made cluster bombs in populated areas of Lebanon last summer. Hundreds of those bombs have been found in more than 200 locations across southern Lebanon.

It has been an especially bloody day in Iraq from Najaf to Kirkuk. At least 50 people killed, dozens more wounded in various attacks. As the battle rages on, so does the debate on Capitol Hill. What the next U.S. move in Iraq should be. CNN's Kathleen Koch is at the White House now with the very latest. Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Susan, President Bush certainly believes that the next move in Iraq should be to let his new strategy there work. So the White House is not too pleased about the fact that Congress is considering a smorgasbord of resolutions to express its disapproval of the troupe search.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH (voice over): The administration has made its views clear. Any congressional resolution opposing the president's troop increase.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It certainly emboldened the enemy and our adversaries.

KOCH: Top Democrats react angrily.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, (D) CONNECTICUT: It is irresponsible. You have to be very careful about statements like that. This is a Democratic process.

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) DELAWARE: The president went in without a plan and he went in prematurely and he went in without enough troops.

KOCH: Republican supporters echoed President Bush, challenging critics to come up with their own plan if they so dislike the new strategy.

SEN. DAVID VITTER, (R) LOUISIANA: I think they have a responsible debate. We need to compare plans side by side. Because there is no easy answer.

SEN. JOHN KYL, (R) ARIZONA: If they are really concerned about the lives of our soldiers and they believe this is a futile effort, then cut off the funds now so that no more lives are lost.

KOCH: So far none of the competing resolutions the Senate is considering would cut off funding. One promenate Democrat says that could come next.

ISEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: It is a difficult thing to do because you want to protect the troops that are there and not allow an escalation. But in the upcoming funding resolution in the next month will be our second step.

KOCH: Well test votes on the resolutions are due as soon as this week. The test votes also attest for the president of whether or not he's persuaded Congress to give his plan a chance to work or whether he has become more politically isolated.

Susan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROESGEN: OK. We will be watching to see what happens. Thank you, Kathleen.

Somewhat lost in the debate over whether to send additional troops to Iraq is a military surge of different sorts. CNN's Gary Nurenberg now looks into the president's plan to swell the ranks overall of the American military.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Bush thought it important enough to include in the State of the Union.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years.

NURENBERG: But some in Congress are skeptical that can be easily done as American casualty figures in Iraq continue to climb.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, (D) CONNECTICUT: How do you get people to do it when you are asking people to serve third ask a fourth tour in Iraq?

NURENBERG: One Senate colleague has an optimistic answer.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I'm sure there are enough patriotic Americans who will join the military.

NURENBERG: Take Roger O'Brien of Falls Church, Virginia.

ROGER O'BRIEN, MILITARY RECRUIT: I'm going to be an infantry soldier and I'm going to become an infantry officer after completion of college.

NURENBERG: The 18-year-old high school senior has enlisted in the marines. And he's far from alone.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: All active branches of the United States military exceeded their recruiting goals for the month of December with particularly strong showings by the army and marine corps.

NURENBERG: One military scholar worries the military to meet the new goals will have to rethink recruiting standards for education, health, and misdemeanor criminal records.

WINSLOW WHEELER, CTR. FOR DEFENSE INFORMATION: They are going to have to relax standards, hire more recruiters and so on. They are going to -- they have a very tough doing it.

GEN. DON SHEPHERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The pay has risen dramatically, the benefits are very good.

NURENBERG: Retired General Don Shepherd is CNN analyst who believes the administration can reach recruitment goals by emphasizing pay and benefits. Benefits O'Brien finds appealing.

O'BRIEN: It is the career I want to choose. You can always be promoted and it is it is job security, as an allowance.

NURENBERG: O'Brien's recruitment is a success story for the military one it has to repeat 92,000 times to meet the president's goal.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROESGEN: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is joining the race for the White House. The Arkansas Republican says he will file papers tomorrow to form a presidential exploratory committee. On the issues he's offering what he calls qualified support for president bush's Iraq policies. And he opposes the proposals to cut funding for the war. He supports President Bush's Iraq policy, and he apposes the proposals to cut funding for the war. He supports President Bush's immigration plan and he says some GOP proposals to deport illegal immigrants are unworkable. He's also a staunch opponent of abortion rights.

Ohio Congressman and presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich took the stage at yesterdays anti war rally in Washington. The Ohio Democrat has made opposition to President Bush's Iraq policies, the cornerstone of his presidential bid. He was the only presidential hopeful to attend this anti-war demonstration. And New York Senator Hillary Clinton is in the midst of her first trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate, she is trailing in the polls there but she would never know it by the size and enthusiasm by her crowds. More on that from CNN's senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Anybody looking for a different kind of campaign from a woman should have been a Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: When you are attacked, you have to deck your opponent. CROWLEY: She's woman. Hear them roar. Senator Hillary Clinton may be the last of the big named players to show up in Iowa but when she finally got here, it was at every level a tour de force. This was not your standard have a cup of coffee with a dozen people in the living room kind of campaigning one generally sees in Iowa. Rarely if ever have so many shown up so early with so much enthusiasm.

CLINTON: I stopped at the overflow room and another gymnasium and the principal told me there were a thousand people there. I was so sorry that they couldn't get in here but we would have had to layer people on top of you.

CROWLEY: She packed them into a high school gym to converse on subjects ranging from foster care. She favors nationalized regulations to health care. She wants universal coverage. She talked about being a woman in politics, a woman in anything.

CLINTON: I don't think I'm the only woman here who feels that sometimes you have to work even harder.

CROWLEY: She talked about a being a woman run for president.

CLINTON: I don't think we will know until we try. And I'm going to try. And with your help, I think we can do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was very impressed with her presentation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way that she's running this, let the conversation begins, and is just very good.

CROWLEY: Her celebrity status serves her well. Drawing in the crowds, pumping up the volume. She has work to do, just because they show up to see you, does not mean they will vote for you. State polls in recent months show Clinton running behind John Edwards. Clinton aides say that's because Edwards was in the state early and often and she has not been. But they promise she will and there is time yet. The Iowa caucuses are about a year from now.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Des Moines.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROESGEN: We will see much more of Candy Crowley's report in this political season. Coming up, faith over fares. Some Muslim cab drivers won't pick up passengers because of their packages. The story is still ahead IN THE NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROESGEN: Time to go global with headlines from around the world. British royal marines are seeing some tough battles in Southern Afghanistan. Operating deep inside the province, troops are trying to find suspected Taliban holdouts. But their forces had to pull back recently after a fierce gunfight with the militants.

Russia's national security adviser Igor Ivanof met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today. Iran wants Russia to help mediate the standoff with the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program. Ivanof says a political solution rather than a military one is what's needed to end the dispute.

The oldest woman ever to give birth now admits she lied to fertility doctors to get them to treat her. She's even older than she said she was. A 67-year-old woman gave birth to these twin boys in December, she told her clinic she was only 55. That was their cutoff age. No comment yet from the Los Angeles clinic.

A cultural clash in Minnesota. Most of the taxi driver whose serve the Minneapolis airport are Muslim and many of them refuse to pick up passengers who bring alcohol with them. CNN's Keith Oppenheim has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Do you see yourself as an American?

ABDULKADDIR ADAN, MUSLIM CAB DRIVER: I'm an American. I see myself as an American.

OPPENHEIM: ABDULHADDIR has been driving a cab in the twin cities for two years. ADAN says he would make me anywhere unless I was carrying alcohol.

ADAN: The one who drinks, the one who transports and the one who makes business outfit, they have a say in the category.

OPPENHEIM: So by taking my alcohol into your cab, you are sinning?

ADAN: Sinning to god, yes.

OPPENHEIM: Adan is not alone. Three-quarters of the 900 cabbies serving the airport are Muslims. Many who say they will not pick up any passenger who has beer, wine, or liquor.

ABDI AHMED, MUSLIM CAB DRIVER: This is America, we have freedom of religion.

OPPENHEIM: Bob Dildine is one of 5,400 passengers who has been refused service in the last five years.

BOB DILDINE, PASSENGER: We were standing right in this area. Right here.

OPPENHEIM: Last May, Dildine says he was traveling with wine he bought on vacation when five cab drivers refused to give him and his daughter a ride.

DILDINE: They are here to provide service to people. We were a lawful customer and we were denied service. That's not our way of doing things. OPPENHEIM: The Metropolitan Airport Commission or M.A.C. consulted the local Muslim American Society, which issued this religious opinion.

KHALID ELMASRY, MUSLIM AMERICAN SOCIETY: It is actually clear and expressly stated that transportation of alcohol for Muslims is against the Islamic faith and therefore forbidden.

OPPENHEIM: Airport officials say after thousands of complaints from passengers, they looked for a compromise. Last September, an idea was floated to put lights on the roof of cabs of observant Muslim drivers. The idea was that the taxi starter, the person that directs to you a cab, would be able to send people with packages like this to those cab drivers who have no objection to transporting alcohol.

PAT HOGAN, AIRPORT SPOKESMAN: The feedback we got not only locally but from around the country and around the world were almost entirely negative. People saw that as condoning the discrimination against people who had alcohol.

OPPENHEIM: Right now, any cabbie who refuses as passenger- carrying alcohol has to go to the back of the line. That could mean another three-hour wait for a fare. But now M.A.C. is considering stiffer penalties. A 30-day suspension for a first refusal, a two-year suspension for a second.

HOGAN: We are now at point where the taxi drivers may have to make a choice that either this is a good fit for them in terms of their career options or they may need to look for another place to earn a living.

OPPENHEIM: Like many cabbies here Adan feels the airport is unsympathetic and intolerant. .

ADAN: I would leave my job instead of doing something that's not allowed in my religion.

OPPENHEIM: If he does leave, Adan could be one of hundreds of Minnesota cabbies who will choose their faith over the next fare.

Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Minneapolis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROESGEN: Well, it was a wild adventure on a country star's stolen tour bus. Find out how it all turned out. Ahead in THE NEWSROOM.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Sibila Vargas on the red carpet where stars will be making their way. I will bring you some exciting details when THE NEWSROOM continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROESGEN: Hollywood honors its own. The Screen Actor's Guild Awards are tonight and it is a chance for some self-congratulations. The question is will the actors from the big hit "Dreamgirls" be big winners or will another movie score big in these last few weeks before the Acadamy Awards?

Our Sibila Vargas is on the red carpet. Sibila.

VARGAS: Hi Susan. It certainly is exciting to be out on the red carpet to think that in just moments the stars will be making their way down the red carpet. This is the Screen Actor's Guild Award. This is the S.A.G. Awards. What makes this so special like you were saying is that the actors are exclusively voting on fellow actors. In fact, in the -- there's no best picture category. It is an ensemble cast. This year is very exciting. We have "Babel" a star-studded cast in "Bobby." You have "The Departed" with Jack Nicholson. You have "Dreamgirls," the belle of the ball. Which a lot of people have been talking about, but interestingly enough "Dreamgirls" did not get the nomination when the Oscars were announced or the nominations were announced.

So it will be interesting to see what happens with Jennifer Hudson is in that category as supporting actress category as well as Eddie Murphy. So we don't know what's going to happen. We expect very good things there. "Little Miss Sunshine" is also a film that is being recognized in the cast ensemble. Wonderful cast with Greg Kinnear and Toni Colette. When it comes to the actress category, I have to tell you, everyone is talking about Helen Miran. Helen Miran has picked up numerous awards already. She had a stellar performance as Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen." Everybody has been talking about her.

When it comes to the male category, it is Forrest Whitaker. Everyone is saying that this is his year. He took home a Golden Globe as well as Helen Miran. Everybody is expecting him to possibly get it. He's up against Peter O'Toole, Leonardo Dicaprio as well. Very interesting also that Leo Dicaprio has gotten three nominations. He has the best cast ensemble for "The Departed." And also he has the best cast ensemble for "The Departed."

So it will be interesting to see what happens there. Susan.

ROESGEN: All right. The envelope please. Thank you, Sibila.

A wild ride worthy of a country and western song, a country star's tour bus and an unexpected guest. The story ahead in THE NEWSROOM.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi folks, I'm Reynolds Wolf with a look at your cold and flu report. We have widespread cases throughout parts of the southeast into the mid as well as upper Mississippi Valley. Into the Rockies, things are looking better. Sporadic reports also the Pacific northwest same story. For the Golden State of California, we do have local activity to report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROESGEN: It is the British invasion, day two. The Prince of Wales and his wife are touring Harlem today. The royal couple went to church in Philadelphia before taking a private train to the big apple. Tonight Prince Charles will be honored at New York City's Harvard Club for his devotion to environmental issues.

Now to Florida where the police have recaptured an escaped fugitive. He led them on a multi-state adventure allegedly stealing three vehicles along the way, including country singer Crystal Gayle's tour bus. Gayle Pasco Brown of affiliate WESH TV has more on this wild ride.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GAYLE PASCO BROWN, WESH TV (voice over): Inside this Daytona Beach police car is the man detectives say stole country music singer Crystal Gayle's tour bus.

CHRISTOPHER GAY, ESCAPED PRISONER: It is all a mistake.

BROWN: The suspect Christopher Gay says it is all a mistake. But investigators say it is quite a ride. Gay escaped from a prisoner transport van last Sunday during a restroom break in South Carolina. Surveillance videos show Gay and Crystal Gayle's 45-footlong tour bus Thursday evening at the USA International Speedway in Lakeland.

BARRY WILLIAMS, OPERATIONAL MANAGER: He wanted to know if we could help him get a generator. He told us that Tony Steward was going do be here in a couple of hours. Bring in a smaller truck and he was going to do a surprise race.

BROWN: Suspicious the track's manager checked Tony Steward's crew and said Gay who used a fake name and seen in this orange cap was too nervous. His story, too fishy.

WILLIAMS: He didn't act the part. The bus didn't look the part. Inside the bus was no well kept. Tony, you know, is a real neat person. And it just -- two and two didn't make four.

BROWN: The track manager took down the tag number; alerted FHP who ran the tag that came back as Gayle Enterprises Inc. The tour bus with the shiny bottom ended up in Daytona Beach where police were already alerted about the singer's stolen tour bus.

DEP. CHIEF STEVEN BERES, DAYTONA BEACH POLICE: We observed a prostitute get out of the bus and when the officer pulled up behind it the driver actually came out and wanted to know where the speedway was located. He didn't even know that we were looking for him.

BROWN: But when asked, Christopher Gay says it is all a misunderstanding.

GAY: I was paid to drive it up here for someone.

BROWN: Investigators believe Gay was trying to see his dying mother. They also say he stole the Wal -Mart freight truck in Tennessee the day after he escaped. I'm Gayle Pasco Brown for (INAUDIBLE) News.

ROESGEN: This is fierce fighting in Najaf, a U.S. helicopter down and hundreds of insurgents killed. We are following this breaking story in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were about a quarter of a mile from the parkway when it attacked me. And from then on it was about a four to five minute fight.

ROESGEN: For the first time we are hearing from a man attacked by a mountain lion. How he got out alive.

Take a look at this; it is a Super Bowl ad from promoting a Super Bowl ad. New tricks for the big game.

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