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AMERICAN MORNING

Did Iran Attack U.S.?; Debate Over Global Warming Prompting Clashes Between Science and Politics; Iceman Cometh: Florida's Melting Problem

Aired January 31, 2007 - 08:00   ET

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


(WEATHER REPORT)
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: A developing story. British police raid a neighborhood overnight. Suspects arrested. A chilling plot to behead a soldier unveiled as we speak.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: In the race. Democratic senator Joe Biden telling us he's going to run for president in 2008. Can he compete against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?

M. O'BRIEN: And turning up the heat. Scientists accusing the White House of gagging them as they try to release research on global warming.

That's ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. It's Wednesday, January 31st.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

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

We begin in Iraq. Here's what's new this morning.

Two U.S. soldiers and a Marine reported killed in attacks west of Baghdad.

Plus, that Iranian connection we've been telling you about. The U.S. military no longer selling fighter jet parts, F-14 parts, because they could wind up in the hands of the Iranian military, which flies F-14s.

And new reports suggest Iranian agents may be behind that brazen Trojan horse-style attack in Karbala on January 20th -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: CNN's Barbara Starr is working on that developing story for us from the Pentagon.

Barbara, good morning to you.

The list of alleged involvement seems like it's growing every moment. And now we hear about the Iranian weapons being found as well. How much of this is kind of a tough sell for the White House with people skeptical? Because, of course, they remember the case for weapons of mass destruction?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Soledad, around the Pentagon and the U.S. military, that is a definite concern that as they continue to make this case against Iran, people will remember WMD, the old phrase "slam-dunk." Military officials want to make sure this one isn't an air ball.

As for the Karbala attack, it is not a conclusion, but it is a theory they are working on. Investigators looking at the possibility Iranians or Iranian-trained agents were behind that attack.

They say the attack appears now to have been too sophisticated, too well-coordinated for either Shia militias or al Qaeda operatives in Iraq to have carried it off on their own. They had U.S.-style uniforms, U.S.-style military vehicles, and they were clearly targeting Americans. Again, it is a theory, they say, not a conclusion -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: OK. So then you have this list that kind of grows and grows and grows of alleged involvement. Nobody at this point at least is expecting that the military's going to go into Iran, I don't think. So what's the solution?

STARR: Admiral Fallon talked about this on the Hill yesterday at his confirmation hearing as CENTCOM commander. One of their goals right now, they say, is to try and cut off any operatives, any militia groups inside Iraq from that weapons flow from Iran. Control the borders, control the shipments in, try to control the people coming into the country, control the flow of money and training. The best they can hope for at this point, they say, is to try and cut off the links between Iraq and Iran -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: At least at this point.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us.

Thanks, Barbara, as always.

And you can add another name to the list of presidential candidates. Today Democratic senator Joe Biden is officially announcing that he's running for president. Earlier this morning I asked him about his bipartisan resolution for Iraq and about the president's plan to send in more troops.

Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: If anybody has undercut the troops, it's been this administration's policy. What I'm trying to do is stop an escalation of a war that everyone acknowledges can only be settled by a political settlement among the Iraqis. More American forces, more American forces will not be able to change the Iraqi mentality. They need to get together in a political solution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: Senator Biden is going to take his message on the road. He's planning a campaign trip to New Hampshire. That's going to happen early next week.

(NEWSBREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: The debate over global warming prompting a clash between science and politics on Capitol Hill. A House committee hearing from researchers who say the White House stopped them from making claims about global warming.

CNN's Andrea Koppel with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but truth?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One by one and under oath, each member of the panel told lawmakers how the Bush administration had deliberately distorted their research into global warming and injected politics into science.

Rick Piltz used to edit the work of 90 government scientists.

RICK PILTZ, WORKED ON CLIMATE CHANGE: During the 2001-2005 time frame, I came increasingly to the conclusion that the administration was acting to impede forthright communication of the state of climate science and its implications for society.

KOPPEL: Committee Chairman Henry Waxman released a memo claiming his staff reviewed documents showing how the White House and other agencies had pushed for more balance in a 2003 draft report on the environment, insisting that "Global climate change has beneficial effects as well as adverse impacts."

But Waxman says the Bush administration is refusing to turn over these documents.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: In this instance the committee isn't trying to obtain state secrets or documents that could affect our immediate national security. We are simply seeking answers to whether the White House's political staff is inappropriately censoring impartial government scientists.

KOPPEL: Waxman's memo also includes many examples of text he says the White House deleted. One set of edits include the original text, which said climate changes are "likely mostly the result of human activities." And the new government-approved text, which notes that "a causal link between the buildup of greenhouse gasses... and the observed climate changes... cannot be unequivocally established."

(on camera): But in an interview with CNN, the White House pointman on the environment disputes Waxman's claim, saying they've been working with the committee for the last six months, and that the only report that matters are the final published reports by these scientists, which have been peer reviewed and put in an academic journal.

Andrea Koppel, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: We're not done with this. We're going to continue our discussion about global warming and the hot political debate, coming up.

We're going to talk to a top senator who is a leading skeptic of global warming. There he is. Senator Jim Inhofe will be our guest very shortly. You don't want to miss that.

Plus, is Iran the biggest threat to stability in the Middle East? We'll talk to CNN's Aneesh Raman, who knows that country inside and out. No one has spent more time there among Western reporters.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: And now "Melting Point." We begin our special ongoing focus on global warming, and we begin with a shift in the political climate.

Just listen to the president in the State of the Union speech last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America's on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: That was a first. And now the White House is promising action on global warming. We wonder what one of the leading contrarians on the issue is thinking, and so we invited him on the program. He joins us now from Capitol Hill, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. He is the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Senator, good to have you back on the program.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: Hey, Miles. The last time I was on the program I was the chairman. Not anymore. M. O'BRIEN: I know. Things change. Things change in an instant.

INHOFE: Yes, but they change back, too. Remember that.

M. O'BRIEN: That is true, too. That is very true. And we're there to watch it every step of the way.

Let's talk about the science, first. We've got a big report coming out, this United Nations report, 2,500 of the world's leading scientists. It's being called a smoking gun report with a link between humans and global warming.

Let's listen to what one of the leading scientists has to say about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES HANSEN, DIR., GODDARD INST. FOR SPACE STUDIES: The human link is crystal clear. There is no question, the increase from 280 to 380 parts per million in CO2 is due to the burning of fossil fuels.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: That's James Hansen, one of the leading climate scientists. He says it's crystal clear.

What do you say?

INHOFE: I'd say that that's James Hansen, who is paid $250,000 by the Heinz Foundation. I think he'd say almost anything you ask him to say.

M. O'BRIEN: He's -- Senator, he's speaking for 2,500 of the world's leading scientists.

INHOFE: Oh. Then why is he the guy speaking? Let me tell you what you're going to get. You're wrong in this respect, Miles.

What you're going to get on Friday is not the fourth assessment of the IPCC. You're going to get the summary for policymakers.

Now, you won't get the report from scientists probably until May or June. But this summary is all you're going to look at. You're never going to talk about anything else.

And that's -- and let me just read to you to show you that I'm right on this thing. On page four, it says, "Changes in scientific work to ensure consistency with the summary for policymakers will ensure."

These are politicians, these aren't scientists.

M. O'BRIEN: No, no, no. They are scientists, sir. It's 2,500...

(CROSSTALK)

INHOFE: Thee policymakers? The policymakers -- that's a summary, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: But this report, this summary, which is for policymakers, is drafted by scientists. They're meeting in Paris right now, and these are leading scientists who make these claims and now say there is a certainty of this human connection.

Do you still reject that certainty?

INHOFE: Oh, definitely. I was on a program yesterday with Art Robinson. He was one of the scientists in the Oregon petition, 17,800 scientists, that said that, yes, we understand that we are going through a warming period, but it's not due to manmade gases. And this is 10 years after they came out with their report, and nobody ever talks about that.

The recent findings up in Canada, when 60 scientists told Prime Minister Harper, if we had known 10 years ago what we know today about science, we would never have asked you to sign on to the Kyoto. So...

(CROSSTALK)

M. O'BRIEN: Right. There were many scientists who unwittingly became a part of that.

Let's move on, though. Let's talk a little bit about...

INHOFE: Well, no. No, we can't move on, because if you're talking about the science, the science is not settled.

Let's move on.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Let's move on now. Let's talk about the debate a little bit.

It's interesting to see how corporations are acting right now. I know you saw this past week, right before the State of the Union Address, some real corporate heavyweights -- General Electric, Alcoa, British Petroleum, Duke Power, one of the -- I think it's the number three or four coal user in the country -- all signing on and publicly stating that they would like to accept, would prefer that there be caps on emissions of these climate-changing gases.

Let's listen to what the head of Duke Power had to say about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ROGERS, CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, DUKE ENERGY: Our businesses and the national economy can grow, prosper, and compete successfully in a greenhouse gas-constrained world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: It sounds like corporate America is ready to accept caps.

INHOFE: Hey, let me work into that -- it just takes me a second here -- my favorite quote of all the people who were on the side of saying manmade gas caused global warming was a socialist in France. He's a geophysicist named Claude Allegre (ph).

He's a member of both the French and American Academy of Sciences. He says, "The cause of global warming is unknown. The proponents of manmade catastrophic global warming are being motivated by" -- and listen to this, Miles -- "money."

Now, who do you think these guys are in corporate America? I would direct anyone who thinks that this is coming from their heart to read last Friday's "Wall Street Journal," where they take each of the corporations you just mentioned and talked about how they can make money if we have to do away with coal gasification.

Coal is responsible for over 50 percent of our energy in America. These companies have nuclear, they have hydroelectric, they have wind, they have -- and it's to their financial advantage to do away with it. Now who is paying for this?

M. O'BRIEN: Well, let's talk about that. That's an interesting point, because what you often hear -- and I've heard you say it, too -- that in putting these caps on, it would hurt the economy. What you're saying is, there's a good business here. These cooperation's can make some money by accepting these caps and developing new technologies.

Why not go that route?

INHOFE: Well, if you go that route -- if you do away with 50 percent of our electricity in America, then those individuals who are generating less electricity by using some other means are going to jump in there and try to do it. The cost to the American people, according to the Wharton School of Economics, the Wharton econometrics survey, would be astronomical. And these people all have money that they can make.

Sure, if I were on the board of directors of GE, that's making solar equipment and wind turbines, I'd probably say, let's jump on this bandwagon and do away with coal-generated electricity. We'll make a fortune.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Let's talk a little bit about what's going on in the halls of Congress right now.

Yesterday, the committee -- and now you're the ranking member of it -- sort of took, if you will, the temperature of the Senate, heard from some senators on this issue, and one of them you heard from was Senator John McCain. He spoke to me the day after the State of the Union.

Let's see what he's saying right now about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This is one of the serious issues of our -- of the history of humanity. We've got to start reducing these greenhouse gas emissions before our planet is inalterably heated. And the consequences of that are catastrophic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: All right. The senator is expressing some sentiment that is out there. You've got Democrats in control of both sides of Congress right now. It seems very likely there will be some legislation making its way, maybe by this summer.

The question to you, sir, is, if that happens, will you filibuster?

INHOFE: You know, I'm not sure about filibustering. I don't know what's going to happen with this. I would say this: The last time we had the McCain bill -- and I love John McCain, but Miles, you have to keep in mind, I've said before -- not on your program -- I belong to the most exclusive club in Washington. That is the United States senators who are not running for president. So I don't have any other agenda other than trying to get to the truth.

Now, the truth now is that we have changed the committee structure. It's not me, it's Barbara Boxer who is running the Environment of Public Works Committee. She had the hearing yesterday.

I don't know whether you got my part of the hearing or not. I had 12 minutes to speak, and I did. Several other members did also.

But, you know, let's look at it and see. The last time the McCain bill was up, we defeated it, 60-38. It wasn't close, 60-38.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

INHOFE: But because of what it would cost the people in America, the people that are watching this today...

M. O'BRIEN: You just got through saying there is money to be made in this, so there is an inconsistency there.

Finally, sir, you're a very religious man. I know that. And I...

INHOFE: A what? I'm sorry?

M. O'BRIEN: You're a religious man. And I have noted with great interest on that same week that corporate America was coming forward, evangelicals coming forward saying something has to be done.

INHOFE: Not at all. Not at all true.

M. O'BRIEN: Listen to a leading evangelical for just a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. RICHARD CIZIK, VP FOR GOVT. AFFAIRS, NATIONAL ASSOC. OF EVANGELICALS: I think it's a fundamental issue here, a defining public policy issue which says for scientists it's the Earth. For evangelicals, it's the creation. And we have a biblical duty as evangelical Christians. That comes straight from the bible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: What do you say to that, Senator?

INHOFE: One of the problems, there's one individual. His name is Richard Cizik...

M. O'BRIEN: That was him. That was him.

INHOFE: I know that. He's the guy that's out there -- and you talk about making money. There's a guy that's on the cutting edge, being sponsored by all these environmentalist groups to try to break into the National Association of Evangelicals.

They have rejected him and what he has said. He's speaking on his own, not for evangelicals.

M. O'BRIEN: Oklahoma senator Jim Inhofe.

Always a pleasure. Thanks for dropping by.

INHOFE: Thank you, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: It's 20 minutes past the hour. Time to check in with Chad and get a traveler's forecast for you.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, an advertising campaign that's getting up close and personal, actually knows you by name. Ali will explain as he minds your business, straight ahead.

Plus, one state's chilly dlema: more bags of ice than they know what to do with. We'll tell you what's behind the icy overload in Florida, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: In Florida, they've got the remnants of a hurricane season that never materialized. In preparation, Florida had tons of ice on hand. The good news, the Sunshine State was spared last year. The bad news, now they're in kind of a deep freeze.

CNN's John Zarrella has our report this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The folks in the town of Minneola, not far from Orlando, don't have to buy ice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to take anything excess that's going to go to waste. I just want to take what I can use, and I could use 10 bags in the freezer.

ZARRELLA: It's free. At least until it melts.

MAYOR DAVID YEAGER, MINNEOLA, FLORIDA: Hey, Ed, did you like playing with ice when you were a kid?

ZARRELLA: Minneola's mayor, David Yeager, is being charitable, while also helping out Florida taxpayers. That's because for the last year, they've been paying $90,000 a month to store ice.

(on camera): The state has some 200 truckloads of ice to get rid of. On each truck there are 22 pallets of ice, and on each pallet, some 360 bags.

(voice over): After two brutal hurricane seasons that saw even the president and his brother, then Florida's governor, handing out ice...

BUSH: Can I give you some ice?

ZARRELLA: ... this past hurricane season, state officials were determined to have plenty on hand. It sounded like a great idea. Only one problem -- no hurricanes hit.

So now, before the ice goes bad, the state is giving it away to any municipality or nonprofit that wants it.

CRAIG FUGATE, FLORIDA DIV. OF EMERG. MANAGEMENT: We're reaching the point where if we don't get people to take it -- and we've had a few, not a lot, but a few people that have had some use for that -- then what we'll do is let it go ahead and melt.

ZARRELLA: Which is exactly what's happening back in Minneola. The mayor ordered 15 truckloads. Some went to the residents, but most came here to a park.

(on camera): I was going to say, we could stand here and watch the ice melt, but that's going to take a while, isn't it?

YEAGER: How much time do you have?

ZARRELLA: Drought has left the area bone dry, the water table low. The mayor's idea wasn't based on any science, just the thought.

YEAGER: I thought it was a great opportunity to let it seep into the aquifer. And in the big scheme of things, will 70,000 gallons do anything? Not truly, but it's my little helping hand.

ZARRELLA: As for the state, it's out of the ice business. Bottled water will be stockpiled instead.

John Zarrella, CNN, Minneola, Florida. (END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: So how would you like it if you drove by a billboard and it said, "Hey you, I'm talking to you. Buy this." Or whatever.

Twenty-five minutes past the hour, Ali Velshi is actually equipped with the technology which could make this happen.

Aren't you, Ali?

S. O'BRIEN: In that accent?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a story about RFID, radio frequency ID chips. You know, they're used everywhere. It's toll booths, when you pay for your gas, those access cards. When you -- you know, you put a little chip into your dog to make sure it could be found if it gets lost.

Well, you may remember, Miles...

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

VELSHI: ... you know something about me and (INAUDIBLE) chips.

M. O'BRIEN: I do remember this.

VELSHI: I have one in my arm.

M. O'BRIEN: Just so we don't lose you.

VELSHI: I'm a human -- yes, you can find me wherever you are.

Well, now there's this new campaign -- advertising campaign that's been launched by Mini USA, the makers of the Mini Cooper. Now, you'll see this when you're driving in New York, Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago.

They are these billboards that change -- they change what's on them based on an RFID chip that's in the key fob of the owner's car. So here's how it works.

When you buy a Mini Cooper now, they'll send you a survey. You fill it out with things about you, your work, what you like, what you don't like. So we did one of those as if it were Miles. And this is what would happen when Miles drives by one of these billboards.

I don't know what that says, but it's apparently some message for you, Miles.

S. O'BRIEN: "Miles, you're outta this world!"

M. O'BRIEN: "Miles, you're outta this world!"

VELSHI: There we go. "Miles, you're outta this world!"

So, you see, that will show itself on the screen and it will rotate a couple of times. It will have a couple of messages that are specific to you. And then the next person drives along. Theoretically, that might be Soledad, and then we've got one for her.

It's working its way out right now. And "Soledad, how do you fit four kids in the back of a Mini Cooper?"

S. O'BRIEN: Leave them at home with the sitter. That's how.

VELSHI: Interesting use of a technology that is somewhat controversial, because it's -- you know, people wonder what they're going to use it for. There are all sorts of privacy concerns. And here, a marketing application.

Some people don't like. They think it will be distracting, and there are all sorts of questions about., what happens if Miles and Soledad arrive at the intersection at the same time? But interesting. Be something to look out for.

Who knows?

M. O'BRIEN: The first wreck that happens because...

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Meanwhile, I'm going to drive by them and see if it catches anything off of my little chip.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. It will tell you to get home.

Ali, get home, will you?

All right. See you.

VELSHI: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: That's just weird.

All right, Ali. Thanks.

Top stories of the morning are up next.

Also, the Iran effect. Is Iran the biggest threat in the Middle East right now? What can be done about it?

We'll take a look at that straight ahead.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: New details this morning from Great Britain of an alleged terror plot foiled by police. Eight people in custody right now after a series of raids in Birmingham, England. And that is where we find our CNN international security correspondent Paula Newton.

Hello, Paula.

Hello, Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Miles.

It certainly is a new take on terror, one we're not used to here in Britain. The plot, CNN sources tell us, involved snatching a Muslim British soldier who had served in Afghanistan off the streets and torturing him, beheading him, videotaping it all, and then putting it on the Internet.

What you're looking at now, Miles, are live aerial shots of some of the 12 scenes that they are raiding. They are searching those properties. They're a mix of residential areas and businesses. I'm in front of one of the residences that they're searching right now. The neighbors here, Miles, as you can imagine, shocked. They say it was a very quiet family. One of the other families here has known this other family for quite a long time, and certainly can't imagine that the father could be involved in any of this.

We do expect more from police in about an hour and a half, Miles, but given the legal proceedings here in Britain, we're not exactly sure what they can confirm to us -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: What do we know about how long this investigation was under way?

NEWTON: It was certainly, we believe, under way for several months. That's what our sources tell us. Exactly what led them to the raids this morning, we don't know. We've seen in several instances here that when British authorities have people under surveillance, two things happen. They think either that they're very close to carrying out their terror attack, or secondly, they believe they might lose one of the suspects, meaning one of them is trying to leave the country, and at that point in time, they decide that they're going to move in. We believe that's what happened in this case, in the sense that the preparations were in the latter stages and that they decided it was time to call a halt to this and bring people under arrest and start questioning them.

Again, though, Miles, this is a departure here. We are used to hearing of certainly plots to use explosives, of course on the transport system here. But to actually bring that terror to the streets here in Britain and to snatch people off the streets, what they really wanted it to look like -- allegedly, our sources tell us -- are some of the beheadings that we've seen from Iraq. And that is the kind of new terror tactic that they wanted to use, at least according to our sources -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Paula Newton in Birmingham -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: We've been talking this morning about Iran's possible influence In the fight for Iraq, that it could be behind the sneak attack on U.S. soldiers in Karbala.

CNN Middle East correspondent Aneesh Raman has been reporting from outside Iran several times in recent months. He's in Cairo this morning.

Aneesh, good morning to you.

You know, we keep hearing about Iran's alleged role, Aneesh, but inside Iran, do they actually believe that Iran firmly has a hand on what's happening in Iraq?

RAMAN: Well, when you talk, Soledad, to the Iranians, especially on the street, they believe, at least voiced support for their government's continued denials that they are arming, funding, or training any of the Shia militias in Iraq. This is why this investigation into what took place in Karbala could be powerfully significant.

For a long time now, we have heard the U.S. say that Iran is helping to destabilize the situation. We've heard denials consistently from the Islamic republic, but this incident in Karbala could prove the most direct link between Iran and attacks in Iraq. Of course, it will come down to what evidence is revealed by the U.S. military, both in terms of this investigation and from interviews with those Iranians that are currently being detained. If evidence is put forward that is concrete and directly links Iran to attacks in Iraq, it would be near impossible for the Islamic regime to continue its denial that it's doing anything to arm and fund these Shia militias, and it adds an entirely new dynamic to the situation there. Not just the Shia, Sunni strife internally in Iraq, but this U.S.-Iranian increased tension that we've seen on the nuclear front really now coming to the forefront in Iraq.

Among the Iranian people, they as well will find it harder to support their government's denials if evidence is put forward.

S. O'BRIEN: Maybe increasing the tension, Aneesh, is what the president said on NPR on Monday. He said, essentially, if there are military actions in Iraq by the Iranians, we will respond firmly. What's been the reaction among the Iranian people to threats like that?

RAMAN: Yes, the people are very concerned. I was there a number of times last year, and every time I went back, those fears had been heightened, that war clouds were looming. Iran has been facing pressure on multiple fronts. You've got the nuclear dispute, Iran continuing its nuclear program despite U.N. sanctions, despite U.N. deadlines. You have Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who's been increasingly controversial in statements over the past year, calling the Holocaust, or questioning the Holocaust, as a myth, traveling among other anti-American countries in Latin America, most recently really emerging as the voice against the United States in the broader Muslim world.

At the center of the Iranian people, who voted Ahmadinejad in really to fix the economy. Instead, they've seen him pursue this international foreign policy path that is antithetical to what he campaigned on. So they are very worried that there are a number of triggers out there that could force Iran into a military confrontation. This is a country that suffered brutally in an eight- year battle with Iraq. It is not a people eager to see war come into their country, and they are very, very concerned right now -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: But Ahmadinejad's in office until 2009, right? so is there any option or opportunity for people or likelihood that people would vote him out?

RAMAN: Well, it's important to note there are multiple power centers within Iran. It'S important, as you say, that Ahmadinejad is not up until re-election in 2009. He is a man really by all indications that is intent on pursuing this foreign policy of defiance, even if his people are suggesting something else. He has been weakened, though, quite significantly back home. We have seen a majority of Iran's parliament call on the president to focus on domestic issues. We have seen a paper that is owned by the country's supreme leader, really the top official in Iran, chastise the Iranian president for how he's handled the nuclear dispute. But he himself is really a wild card in all this. If he doesn't soften his rhetoric, which has fueled a great deal of the fear that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, despite Iran's denials and their contention they're pursuing peaceful civilian nuclear energy, the tensions will only go up further.

So the Iranian people at this point are caught in the middle. They are observers more than active participants. They went to the polls in December, they voted out a lot of the hardline supporters of Iran's president and now they just have to wait and see if he gets the message and if it changes the policy coming out of Tehran.

S. O'BRIEN: Aneesh Raman's in Cairo for us this morning. Thank you, Aneesh -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Parts of the South preparing for a dangerous winter storm. Severe weather expert Chad Myers stocking up on mile, and eggs and bread there in Atlanta, we'll check in with him.

Plus, are you ready for this? Roxanne!

I'm sorry. Did I wake you up?

S. O'BRIEN: Oh my gosh. You can so not sing.

M. O'BRIEN: A Police reunion after all these years. After all these years, is every little move they make magic? Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: Reporting on Iraq is a horribly dangerous endeavor. No news there for you. The stories of bombings, injuries and kidnappings all too familiar. A total of 93 journalists have died since the invasion of Iraq nearly four years. In some cases, it all happens without a lot of notice, for fear the attention might do more harm than good.

For the first time, CNN's Michael Ware is talking about his own near kidnapping at the hands of al Qaeda. at the time he was working for "Time" magazine. Before he headed back to Baghdad, he was on leave a little while ago, he shared his experience with Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL WARE, ALMOST EXECUTED IN IRAQ: These men intercepted my vehicle, and with grenades, with the pins pulled so that they were live, pulled me from the car and with my own video camera, now preparing to film my execution. So as far as we're aware, after that day on Haifa Street, I'm the only Westerner that we know of who's been in the control of Zarqawi's organization, al Qaeda, and to have lived to tell the tale.

COOPER: How did you get out of it?

WARE: I was in a vehicle with a mid-ranking Iraqi insurgent commander who'd told me of Zarqawi's takeover, essentially complained about it. And I said, well, I need to see this. So he took me in there to show me that these radicals, these foreign Islamists have taken our territory. When the foreign radical Islamists, essentially who became al Qaeda, dragged me from the car, this man was left to negotiate for my life, and this is where we see the difference come into play. The Zarqawi fighters wanted to execute the Westerner. As they said -- you bring a Westerner in here and you expect us to let him leave alive? Well no, it doesn't work like that.

So even though these Islamists at that time had the upper hand in Haifa Street, they couldn't discount the local fighters. And essentially, it came down to the local Iraqi insurgents saying, OK, you can kill this foreigner, but know that that means we go to war. Because he has come here at our invitation. And for you to kill him is essentially an insult to us. And as much as these foreign fighters wanted to kill me, at the end of the day, they knew that, practically, they couldn't, because they could not afford to have this local fight. And it was through gritted teeth that they essentially gave me back to the Iraqi insurgents, who then took me out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: Wow, what a story. "ANDERSON COOPER" airs Monday through Friday, 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow. He is so calm as he recounts his story, which is really coming within seconds or minutes of your life, being handed over to your executioners, and he just...

M. O'BRIEN: Well, nobody covers the story better. But it is a tremendous risk that you talk to those people.

S. O'BRIEN: The telling of it is very chilling.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins is just a few minutes away this morning, and Tony is at the CNN Center with a little preview for us.

Good morning, sir.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Man, that was chilling.

S. O'BRIEN: Wasn't it?

HARRIS: Good morning. Soledad, good morning to you.

We have got these stories on the "NEWSROOM" rundown -- British police capture eight suspects in a terror raid on this Birmingham neighborhood. The plot, according to Scotland Yard, kidnap, torture and execute a British soldier on videotape.

The U.S. military checking today for Iran's fingerprints on an ambush in Iraq. Five American soldiers died in the sneak attack. That was 11 days ago.

A young Florida woman telling police she was raped. Instead of a hospital, the officers arrest her and take her to jail. Huh? we'll explain. Heidi Collins joins me in the NEWSROOM at the top of the hour right here on CNN.

Soledad, back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, that's a huge head-scratcher, wasn't it? All right, Tony, we'll see you at the top of the hour. Thank you.

Coming up this morning -- a huge rock 'n' roll reunion. The Police are together. We'll tell you where it's happening, straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Call the Police. One of the greatest bands of the '80s. They're getting back together more than 20 years after breaking up at the peak of their success. Sting and the boys are going to perform live on music's biggest night.

Here's CNN's Sibila Vargas. Every single day

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Every Breath You Take," "Message in a Bottle," "King of Pain," music of the police, sacred to a generation that came of age in the 1980s. But for almost a generation fans have had precious few chances to see the band perform live -- until now.

NEIL PORTNOW, PRES., RECORDING ACADEMY: We're looking for something that would be really eye-opening and earth-shattering.

VARGAS: The Recording Academy has announced The Police will reunite on the Grammy telecast next month.

PORTNOW: People are thrilled that this band is back in business, and reuniting and going to be out there and playing the music that people love so dearly for so many years.

VARGAS: Word of the reunion comes 30 years after the band was formed in England. The police -- Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland, skyrocketed to fame in the late 1970s with songs like "Don't Stand So Close to Me," and their first hit "Roxanne."

But in 1984, at the height of their commercial success, and just six years after putting out their first album, the Police abruptly split amid reports of feuding between the bandmates. Since then, Sting has enjoyed a lucrative solo career, and Copeland has written numerous movie scores.

Copeland, who also directed a documentary about the group's early days, says rumors about the band's differences have been greatly exaggerated.

STEWART COPELAND, FORMER "POLICE" DRUMMER: There's this myth that we fought all the time, the police was always fighting. I sort of believed it myself, except when I look at this footage, I realize that we were actually very fond of each other.

VARGAS: Their last public performance came in 2003 to commemorate their induction into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame.

(on camera): For Police fans, the biggest question is whether the Grammy gig is a one-shot deal, or could a reunion tour be in the works?

(voice-over): For now, the band's label is keeping mum on the group's future plans.

Sibila Vargas, CNN, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: The Grammy Awards are a week from Sunday. It would be great if they went on tour. We're still awaiting word of whether and where The Police will be touring. I hope it's New York. It's got to be New York. It's got to be the Garden.

Anyway, moving on, here's a quick look at what "CNN NEWSROOM" is working on for the top of the hour.

HARRIS: See these stories in the "CNN NEWSROOM" -- eight arrests, British police called it a major counterterrorism operation. Their live briefing coming up this morning.

Gunmen target the home of a Florida sheriff. Four people are killed, including the sheriff's wife.

President Bush on Wall Street this morning. We cover his remarks on the economy.

And a baby white tiger abandoned by its mother, fostered by humans. You're in the NEWSROOM, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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