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U.S. Responds to New Insurgent Tactics; Pelosi, Cheney in War of Words; Community Activists Fight Obesity Among Blacks; College Football Player Credits Adopted Family

Aired February 22, 2007 - 07:00:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Welcome back, everybody. February 22. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you're with us.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin in Iraq this morning. And talk about that new plan of an attack using chemical bombs. The truck carrying tanks of chlorine gas exploded on Wednesday, released a toxic cloud. You could see it, right there. This is the second time that a chlorine bomb has been released in the last two days. It's the third time in the last month. Let's get right to CNN's Arwa Damon; she's in Baghdad for us this morning.

Big concern about this trend, Arwa.


Both U.S. and Iraqi officials here are incredibly concerned about this potential new tactic that the insurgency might be using, though, no one here is entirely surprised. Remember, this insurgency is infamous for constantly adapting tactics and coming up with new methods to utterly petrify the Iraqi people.

But three chlorine gas attacks since January 28th, the first of those taking place in Ramadi where a chlorine tanker exploded outside of a hospital. That attack killed at least 16 Iraqis and no one was hospitalized in that case due to the poisonous after-effects of the gas. But in the two attacks that we saw happening just one day after the other, in this last week, at least a dozen Iraqis were killed and more than 200 were hospitalized because of the poisonous aftereffects.

Now, this is concerning, also because chlorine gas is easily available throughout Iraq, just in the capital of Baghdad there are two warehouses that contain industrial chemicals, including chlorine. And that's used for a number of purposes here, to purify water and sewage, for example, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Arwa Damon in Baghdad, updating us on what is truly a disturbing trend. Thank you, Arwa.

We are going to talk about all of this with the U.S. spokesman in Iraq, Major General William Caldwell will join us in just a couple of minutes -- Miles. M. O'BRIEN: A ferocious war of words raging this morning between the speaker of the house and the vice president. The spat, spanning the globe. Vice President Dick Cheney blasting the plan pushed by House Democrats to restrict funding for the Iraq war, trying to make it harder to send more troops.

Cheney said the plan would validate the Al Qaeda strategy to prompt the U.S. to give up in Iraq. Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly fired back saying the vice president was out of line for questioning her patriotism.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to call the president and tell him I disapprove of what the vice president said. The vice president's statements are beneath the dignity of the debate we are engaged in. They're a disservice to our men and women in uniform, who we all support.


M. O'BRIEN: Pelosi did not reach the president, but spoke White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton, who denied the vice president was questioning her patriotism -- Soledad.

Top two Democrats in the race for '08 in separate corners this morning. To your separate corners, folks. They are speaking out about their brewing feud that overshadowed the Democrats first mass gathering in Nevada. CNN's Dana Bash is live for us in Carson City, Nevada.

Hey, Dana, good morning.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

The event here in Nevada was supposed to be one of those polite get-to-know-you moments but when Hillary Clinton's campaign woke up to read that at Barack Obama's Hollywood fund-raiser David Geffen said things like, the Clintons lie with such ease it's troubling. The day certainly changed and the bubbling tensions between the two campaigns spilled into the open.


BASH (voice over): It may have been all smiles at the Democrats first 2008 cattle call in Nevada but it was the sharp exchange between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the one candidate not here, that caught everyone's attention.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to run a positive campaign. I sure don't want Democrats or the supporters of Democrats to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction.

BASH: Clinton's campaign lashed out at Obama for comments made by his Hollywood fund-raiser David Geffen. Geffen called polarizing. Saying she can't bring the country together and slammed President Clinton as a reckless guy.

CLINTON: I believe Bill Clinton was a good president. I'm very proud of the record of his two terms.

BASH: While refusing to say it herself, Clinton's campaign is demanding that Obama denounce the Geffen's remarks, and give back his $2,300 campaign contribution. Campaigning in Iowa, Obama said, no.

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My sense is that Mr. Geffen may have differences with the Clinton's. That doesn't really have anything to do with our campaign. I have said repeatedly I have the utmost respect for Senator Clinton.

BASH: The Obama campaign wasn't the only one taking shots at Hillary Clinton. John Edwards took thinly veiled jabs at her, too, for refusing to call her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq war a mistake.

JOHN EDWARDS (D-TN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whether it's good enough I think is between her and her conscious. It's not for me to judge.

BASH: All of this led New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to renew his call for Democrats to pledge not to attack each other.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Democratic Party too often has been negative. Let's be positive. These little name callings, these little -- they don't help. Let's get over that.


BASH: The Clinton campaign, they say this is simple. They say that Barack Obama has centered his entire campaign around a new kind of politics, the politics of civility. If that's the case he should denounce these nasty comments by his Hollywood fund-raiser.

But there's another dynamic here, Soledad, that is also simple, that is the Clinton campaign is frustrated with this do-no-wrong image that they think Barack Obama has; they want to crack his Teflon and crack it early.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, they're trying. That's for sure. Dana Bash, watching it all for us. Thanks, Dana.


M. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning, could be more sanctions on the way for Iran this morning. A United Nations nuclear watchdog report due out with an assessment of the Iranian nuclear program. Iran still not budging on Security Council demands it scrap its nuclear program.

In Indonesia this morning, more than 40 still missing in a ferry boat fire just north of Jakarta. At least 13 were killed but more than 300 others, including the 15-member crew of that boat, saved by rescuers. Back to work for the jury deciding whether Scooter Libby is guilty or innocent. The jury, eight women and four men, deliberated about four hours yesterday before going home for the night. Libby is charged with lying to investigators trying to find out who leaked the name of a CIA agent.

Well, was Texas Governor Rick Perry's decision to mandate that cervical cancer vaccine tied to donations from the maker of the vaccine, Merck? Ali Velshi joining us with more.

Good morning, Ali.


The headline here is that on the very day that Texas Governor Rick Perry's chief of staff met with some other senior staff to discuss vaccination in schools, Merck had made a donation to Governor Perry's political campaign -- and to those of eight other state legislators.

Now, according to records obtained by the AP, the meetings were just to discuss vaccinations in schools. But on February the 2nd, Texas Governor Rick Perry mandated that schools preteen girls in Texas will be given Gardasil, which is the vaccine said to prevent two strains of HPV. One of the most commonly sexually transmitted diseases and these two strains are said to lead to cervical cancer in many cases.

So, Merck, earlier this week, said it was pulling out of this lobbying effort to get states to vaccinate young girls. There's been a lot of pressure about the implications of vaccinating young girls against sexually transmitted diseases. Some people thinking that encourages promiscuity at that age.

But really this thing is coming undone by word, rumor, and report of connection between Rick Perry's office and Merck.

I should tell you that the prior chief of staff to Rick Perry is now a lobbyist for Merck, and was lobbying for this.

M. O'BRIEN: A lot of intersecting relationships here.


M. O'BRIEN: The question is, what is the governor's office saying? It was a coincidence?

VELSHI: Governor's office saying, they were having meetings for months. They had been having meetings for months. That's what they do. They have meetings, they discuss these things and that this was a progressive move to mandate that young girls get this vaccination. But, you know -- all this --

S. O'BRIEN: The fact there was a check that came out at the end of the meeting, well that's --

VELSHI: They say it was a coincidence. There will be more of this to come and we'll find out.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, I bet there will.

M. O'BRIEN: I think so. All right, Ali. Thank you. Keep us posted, please.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, we'll take a look ahead to the weekend. A big storm could make it both messy and dangerous, too. Chad will tell us where, and when straight ahead this morning.

And also, now that Britain plans on starting to pull out of Iraq -- the troops -- are the Iraqi troops ready to fight and fill the void?

What about Prince Harry? He's on his way to Iraq. As third in line to the throne, that news makes security for the prince a little complicated. We'll take you live to London for more. Straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the mourning is right here on CNN.


S. O'BRIEN: Most news in the morning is here on CNN.

Just in, a landmark decision from the world's most prestigious tennis tournament. Wimbledon is deciding, overnight, it is going to pay women, female winners as much as the men. It will be for the first time ever.

And a massive tropical cyclone is roaring toward Africa. Mozambique is in the crosshairs; 140 mile an hour winds and flooding rains are expected.

Plus, it's now official, just within the last half hour, we learned that Prince Harry, who is third in line for the British throne, will be shipping out to Iraq. Alphonso Van Marsh is standing by for us in London this morning.

Of course, this brings huge questions about how do you protect the prince when he's there? Alphonso, good morning.

ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. That's exactly right.

Those are some of the questions that do need to be answered. What we do know at this point, as you mentioned, confirmation from the ministry of defense, here, that Prince Harry, the 22-year-old who is third in line to the British throne will indeed be heading to Iraq, possibly as soon as May or June. And will most likely do six months outside the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

Now, British military officials are keen to point out this is part of a long-planned rotation of British forces. There are about 7,100 British servicemen and servicewomen serving in Iraq at this point. But does come one day after Prime Minister Tony Blair, here, announced that there will be a phased reduction of British forces in the country.

So, with more than 100 British forces killed in the line of duty in Iraq since 2003, just how the military will allow Prince Harry to fulfill his wishes to serve his country, and keep the third in line to the throne safe in a war zone has yet to be seen, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Van Marsh for us this morning, right in front of Buckingham Palace. Thanks, Alphonso.

It's coming up at quarter past the hour. Chad is at the Weather Center watching a big old storm brewing in the Midwest.


Coming up this morning, remember the name fight over Apple's new iPod cell phone combination thingy? Well, it turns out CISCO and Apple have decided to make a deal. Ali Velshi will give you some of the details as he "Minding Your Business" straight ahead.

And then more twists and turns to tell about, at the Anna Nicole Smith hearing to try to determine where she will be buried. One of the four men who are claiming to be the father of her daughter is on the stand, and his testimony was pretty remarkable, too. Stay with us, you are watching AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: Most news in the morning, right here on CNN.

The blues and the royals: Prince Harry's regimen getting its marching orders just moments ago. The prince is headed to Iraq.

And a huge ferry boat fire in Indonesia this morning. A massive rescue effort right now under way. At least a dozen killed, hundreds already have been saved -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: The United Nations report on Iran's uranium enrichment program is due today. It could bring more sanctions. Iran is refusing to budge on Security Council demands that it scrap its nuclear program. At the same time, though, Iran is calling for talks with the U.S. to settle the dispute. Plus, we're hearing about a new offer for Iran, about those talks, from the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Zain Verjee.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Softening on another member of the so-called axis of evil, Iran. Condoleezza Rice offered Iran an olive branch: Take us up on talks, any time, any place, but stop enriching uranium first.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We can talk about anything. That is an offer that I would renew today. We have, in fact, even under these circumstances, we cooperated some in Afghanistan, and I think that was useful. So there is a different path. VERJEE: Rice was referring Iranian support of the U.S. during the war in Afghanistan. Since then, relations have gone sour. U.S. warships nearby, in the Gulf, the U.S. is going after Iranian agents in Iraq, and is now beefing up missile defense shields in Europe in case of Iranian attacks.

(On camera): Is there a danger that in this kind of atmosphere that -- and lack of direct communication -- that there could be missteps on either side, that could trigger an accidental war?

RICE: Let me just say here, publicly, the United States has no desire for confrontation with Iran. None.

VERJEE (voice over): This week's U.N. deadline for Iran to quit enriching uranium could ratchet up the war of words and lead to more sanctions. But Iran's president defiantly insists Iran's nuclear program is going ahead full steam.

Rice appeared to be signaling to Iran's leaders, impatient with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that she hears them.

RICE: The option we have is to continue to try to convince those who are reasonable, in Iran, that the course that they're on is destructive.

VERJEE (On camera): But if Iran proceeds with its nuclear program Secretary Rice says the international community will continue to play hardball. Zain Verjee, CNN, Berlin.


M. O'BRIEN: The iPhone -- it's my phone? No, it's your phone. Well, maybe it should be the We phone? Well, it turns out -- we'll sort this out for you. Ali Velshi will tell us how Apple and Cisco Systems have finally sorted out this copyright trademark issue.


S. O'BRIEN: There is still no final resting place yet for the body of Anna Nicole Smith. Wow, the testimony yesterday was riveting. Smith's mother took the stand before a south Florida judge. She said Anna Nicole is a Texas girl, would want to be buried in her home state of Texas.

There she is, right there.

Then you had Smith's companion, Howard K. Stern. He said Anna Nicole should be buried in the Bahamas in a plot that she had purchased, next to her son, who died last year. Then you had a final witness, Larry Birkhead. Everybody -- I mean, not a pin drop could be heard when he was talking about -- he the guy who claims he's the father of little Dannielynn, anyway. He's trying to get custody. Unbelievable testimony. Listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LARRY BIRKHEAD, CLAIMS TO BE FATHER OF SMITH'S CHILD: I live in California and if and when I get the daughter that I know and believe is mine, she won't live in the Bahamas. So is that a place she'll have to travel to go see her brother and her mother's grave?


S. O'BRIEN: Then you had -- they went to visit the bodies at one point, which was just bizarre. There are questions about the condition of the body. They say they have to bury it, it's deteriorating.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, jeeze.

S. O'BRIEN: I mean, really, awful stuff. You know, it's just very, very gruesome and bizarre.

The question the had about -- you know, I keep asking who is making money off selling your story. Then they did the whole trip where they went to see the body and there were helicopters from the news organizations watching. The thing is -- the judge will apparently make his decision and wrap the whole thing up, or part of the thing up, today or tomorrow.

M. O'BRIEN: I don't think it could be more muddy than it is. It would be difficult.

S. O'BRIEN: You forget about the -- all the twists and turns, you have a little baby who could potentially, some people say be drug addicted, depending on the timing of Anna Nicole. It's kind of a mess.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Apple and Cisco, they will not call it the we phone, but they're going to share the iPhone. So, 25 minutes past the hour, Ali Velshi with that.

Hello, Ali.

VELSHI: We have a deal. That doesn't come as too much of a surprise to everybody. You'll recall when Apple announced, earlier this year, that it's coming out with its iPhone. CISCO said we own the name iPhone. Apple and CISCO had been talking, the talks broke down. CISCO sued Apple. Everybody walked away and talked tough. Apple came back to the table and now we have a deal.

Here's the deal. Both companies will be able to use the iPhone trademark, which is kind of what we thought would likely happen, because CISCO has a device called iPhone through its Linksys Internet products. Not a whole lot of people know what that is.

The best part of the deal is that they will work on inter- operability between the two systems. Which is always good news for the consumer because, you know, these companies have proprietary systems, and it's something that can make them all talk to each other. That is probably the best news that comes out of this.

Now, one assumes that this name, iPhone is more valuable to Apple than it was to Cisco, since some of us know Cisco had an iPhone, most people really didn't. So Apple needed to win this. Most people think this is a bigger win for Apple than Cisco, accept what do you think Apple had to do to get this deal?

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, big Benjamins.

VELSHI: Right. We've all been speculating. The companies won't tell us what it cost, or whether it cost anything. One would assume it cost something. Probably a good deal for Cisco to be associated with Apple. But these are both massive companies. So you're going to have all sorts of iPhones out there. If you don't want to buy the expensive one from Apple, you can buy the other one from Cisco.

M. O'BRIEN: I wonder if the two devices really will merge into the same area?

VELSHI: Yeah, they're different.

M. O'BRIEN: They're way --

VELSHI: They are completely different phones. I should -- that's a good point. Cisco's iPhone and Apple's iPhone don't do the same thing.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

VELSHI: So, we'll keep on this one.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Ali.


M. O'BRIEN: A warning going out this morning about a new energy drink. Some Colorado schools concerned about Spike Shooter after it made a lot of kids sick. McKenzie Martin with our affiliate, KKTV in Colorado Springs reports.


MCKENZIE MARTIN, REPORTER, KKTV NEWS (voice over): It's called Spike Shooter. And this 8.4 ounce can packs a punch. So much so it comes with a warning. Now Doherty Principal Jill Martin has a warning of her own.

JILL MARTIN, PRINCIPAL, DOHERTY HIGH SCHOOL: We are banning this substance, this drink at Doherty High School, for the health and safety of students.

M. MARTIN: That's after two students were rushed to the emergency room after just one can. Martin said at least five others complained of heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue after drinking Spike Shooter.

J. MARTIN: They, of course, had this burst of energy. Then when they came down, they were just almost unable to function. One girl that had to be brought down in a wheelchair from a classroom, because she really couldn't walk steadily.

M. MARTIN: The manufacturer says the drink is not for those under 18 or the elderly and says everyone else should be fine if they follow the directions including drinking a half can at first to test tolerance.

TIM PATTERSON, CEO, SPIKE LLC (via telephone): Like any dietary supplement you need to follow the guidelines on the label. We've done everything we can, as far as I know we're the only company to ever put a warning on the front to read the label before drinking this product.

M. MARTIN: But Martin says after what happened to her students, she believes a warning on a can may not mean much to them.

J. MARTIN: Most kids are not going to read that.


M. O'BRIEN: AMERICAN MORNING's Consumer Reporter Greg Hunter has been doing some digging on this story, as well. And he'll join us next hour with more on this.

Top stories of the morning coming up next. Disturbing new trends to tell about in Iraq. Chemical bombs, the British pulling out, another helicopter down. We will talk with Major General William Caldwell live from Iraq; ask him what's going on?

And former Surgeon General David Satcher is teaming up with others to help one at-risk group fight obesity, and he's getting some big results. We'll tell you how.

Plus, a big man on campus fights the odds to realize some big dreams with the help of a family on the other side of the tracks. We'll tell you they're amazing story ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: Fight for Iraq: A new insurgent tactic, British troops pulling out. We'll talk live to one of America's top generals in Iraq.

S. O'BRIEN: Getting personal: The race for president is taking an early and ugly turn between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

M. O'BRIEN: And men in motion teaming up to tackle the obesity epidemic in one at-risk group. How they're shedding the pounds on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning to you, Thursday February 22. I'm Miles O'Brien.

S. O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien. Thank you for being with us. Here's what's happening this morning.

In Iraq, it is what could be a very disturbing new tactic by insurgents, chemical bombs. Two tanker trucks hauling chlorine gas exploded in the last two days. At least 12 people are dead; 200 people are hospitalized for burns and breathing problems.

Second day of deliberations for jurors deciding the fate of Lewis Scooter Libby. The jury, eight women, four men, deliberated for about four hours on Wednesday. Libby is charged with lying to investigators who are trying to figure out who leaked the name of a CIA operative.

A United Nations report on Iran's uranium enrichment program is due out today; could bring more sanctions for that nation. Iran's refusing to budge on Security Council demands that it scrap it's nuclear program.

At the same time, though, Iran is calling for talks with the U.S. to settle the dispute -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: The Iraqi insurgency stepping up the sophistication of its attacks against U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. Chemical bombs now in the volatile mix. More targeting of U.S. helicopters, as well.

What's happening? And what can the U.S. do about it? Joining us from Baghdad is the chief spokesman for the multinational forces in Iraq, Major General William Caldwell.

General Caldwell, good to have you with us. These chlorine bombs that we've seen, a troubling change in tactics, I trust. What does this say about the ability of U.S. and Iraqi troops to properly police the insurgency and keep them from getting a hold of things like chlorine tanks?

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCES IN IRAQ: Well, Miles, let me say, thanks for having us here today. You know, what we are seeing is a change in tactics but their strategy has not changed. And that's to create high-profile attacks to instill fear and division among the Iraqi people.

And what we saw is about the third time we've seen it in the last couple of moments. It's a real crude attempt to raise the terror level by taking and mixing ordinary chemicals with explosive devices, trying to instill that fear within the Iraqi people.

M. O'BRIEN: It seems as if a chlorine tank would be a -- would be a fairly easy thing to police and to restrict the flow to the insurgency. What can be done about that? It seems as if the insurgents are well-supplied on several fronts.

CALDWELL: Well, I tell you, what we continue to do, Miles, conduct very deliberate operations. We had a significant one in the last 24 hours that's just unfolding now. Five complete buildings full of these various types of things to include DBID (ph) car bombs, that were being assembled and put together with propane tanks, other chemical munitions that they're taking ordinary chemicals and trying to fix it with explosives. So we're just staying pinpointed, accurate, deliberate raids with the Iraqi people helping us.

When you look at the number of tips, doubled in the last six months, the Iraqi people stepping up, providing information to us, telling us where they're seeing these kind of things, because they don't want this terror in their country.

M. O'BRIEN: In the climate of fear it must be tough for many Iraqis who'd like to do that to come forward. Tell us a little bit more about what's going on right now. You say there are five separate raids right now on weapons caches in and around Baghdad?

CALDWELL: And just to the west here of Baghdad, near Fallujah, a third of the 509th is conducting -- has just finished conducting a major raid on a site that consists of five separate buildings.

And inside of there is where we have found what looks like, now, to be three car bombs, three vehicle IEDs that obviously were being assembled, put together, a truck IED, about 65 propane tanks, all kinds of ordinary chemicals that were there, too. They were obviously trying to mix and do the same type of thing. And this was all based on actual intelligence that we got from an Iraqi citizen.

And so, as long as they continue to decide that they're going to determine their future, not these terrorist elements, these AQI elements in this case, we have the opportunity to make a difference here.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about the helicopters down. We count eight helicopters down now. Not all of them are U.S. military. One of them, I think, was a private contractor's chopper. But nonetheless, small arms fire in some cases, perhaps heat-seeking missiles in other cases.

What's going on there? What have the insurgents done differently, perhaps, in targeting helicopters?

CALDWELL: Well, first of, you know, I mean, helicopter operations are just inherently dangerous to start with. And we've doubled the amount of helicopters we're using, the number of flight hours, just in the last two years.

And so we continue to watch and assess what they're doing. But clearly the insurgents, what they would like to is take down a helicopter. It's a high profile event, gains a lot of attention.

This was the fifth U.S. military helicopter shot down in the last two months. All nine people were fine. They had a real hard landing, but the helicopter is pretty much destroyed, as the outcome of that, but all the people survived.

And they are, they're watching what we do. They're paying attention to it. They're very patient. And we, in turn, are modifying our flight routes, our tactics, our formations, our altitudes, our time of flight and a lot of other things in order to offset what they're intending to do against us. M. O'BRIEN: All right. We have word now, 1,600 British troops will soon be heading home, perhaps as many as another 500 by the fall. I know Basra is different. And I know Basra is predominantly Shiite. It's a different context entirely. The lay of the land is differently.

But are there any lessons that the U.S. can draw from the British experience there? Clearly, they've had a little more success than the U.S.

CALDWELL: Well, and they have. And they've been very fortunate to -- to move the pace along down there. They're dealing with one element of the Iraqi population, the Shia, predominantly, and they've been able to help the Iraqis stand up and take greater control.

So as those conditions have changed, they won't need -- you know, they've got about 7,100 troops here right now in the country, and they'll be able to reduce it by about 1,500 through normal rotation as soldiers were scheduled to go home this year.

M. O'BRIEN: But General, are there any lessons learned? Have you gone to...

CALDWELL: They'll leave what should be more than sufficient to continue providing the security and the stability down in that part of the land.

M. O'BRIEN: General, the question was are there any lessons learned? Has the U.S. military learned anything from the British occupation of Basra?

CALDWELL: Well, yes. Of course we do. We learn lessons from each other. We continually share insights.

The British have been associated with this area of the world for a long time. They've worked very hard at staying very close to the population, being associated with them, being aware of their customs and courtesies. But it's the same tactics you'll see that our troops are using, too. It's just they're faced with an entirely different situation than down in the Basra area.

M. O'BRIEN: Major General William Caldwell, thank you for your time, sir -- Soledad.

CALDWELL: Thank you very much.

S. O'BRIEN: A ferocious war of words here at home as the vice president, Dick Cheney, criticized Congress and the new House speaker fired right back. CNN's Ed Henry is at the White House this morning for us.

Ed, good morning to you.


S. O'BRIEN: Let me set it up for you. Speaker Pelosi was sort of accusing the vice president of questioning her patriotism and the patriotism of others, right?

HENRY: That's right. Clearly on a collision course here, the vice president and the speaker of the House. But what's really going on when you peel back the rhetoric, the president and vice president continuing to deploy this good cop/bad cop strategy in dealing with Democrats.

You have the president saying over and over he wants to work with the new Democratic majority on the Hill. Meanwhile, you have the vice president firing away at them, talking tough.

Yesterday it was in Japan, the vice president, as you noted, charging that this Democratic plan to restrict funding for the war would, quote, "validate the al Qaeda strategy to try to break the will of the American people."

Speaker Pelosi quickly fired back.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to call the president and tell him I disapprove of what the vice president said.

The vice president's statements are beneath the dignity of the debate that we are engaged in. They're a disservice for men and women in uniform who we all support.


HENRY: Now the White House is insisting that nobody was trying to question the patriotism of Speaker Pelosi. But this is clearly not the last we've heard of this controversy.

The vice president eventually will be landing in Australia. As you remember just a couple of weeks ago their prime minister, John Howard, also essentially questioned the patriotism of Senator Barack Obama, saying that al Qaeda was praying for Obama to win the presidency because of his plan to pull troops from Iraq. John Howard a close ally of Vice President Cheney and President Bush.

You can bet that's going to be a topic that the vice president will be asked about on this trip -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. You think so? Ed Henry for us this morning. Thank you, Ed -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: The Hillary Clinton campaign in a real row with their primary rival, Barack Obama. The harsh words triggered by some comments from Hollywood power broker, David Geffen.

Geffen, once a friend and supporter of the Clintons, told Maureen Dowd of the "New York times" Hillary Clinton is polarizing and Bill Clinton is a reckless guy. The Clinton camp wants Obama to renounce Geffen's comments, but Obama is having none of it.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My sense is that Mr. Geffen may have differences with the Clintons. That doesn't really have anything to do with our campaign. I've said repeatedly I have the utmost respect for Senator Clinton.


M. O'BRIEN: Clinton's campaign also wants Obama to return a donation from Geffen. Obama's campaign refusing that request, as well.

And of course all the day's political news available any time day or night. Whenever you need a fix go to -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: And when you want to win a war you send in a general, of course. Well, a former surgeon general is trying to win the war on obesity, especially in one high-risk group. We're going to tell you how, straight ahead.

Plus, if your child is taking medication for ADHD, there is some concerns you need to hear about for his or her long-term health. A couple of important medical stories are straight ahead. The most news in the morning right here on CNN.


S. O'BRIEN: Some health news for you this morning. If you have a child who's taking Ritalin or another drug that's meant to control ADHD, the government wants you to better understand some of the risks.

Regulators are proposing that the drugs come with a guide that clearly states that these drugs can cause psychiatric problems, heart trouble or even, in some cases, sudden death. Now, those drugs already carry a special warning label.

Now to some high-powered help for our country's growing obesity problem. A former surgeon general is joining the fight to save lives in one especially high risk group.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is live at the CNN center with details for us this morning.

Hey, Sanjay. Good morning.


You know, there's a lot of discussion about responsibility when it comes to the obesity epidemic. A lot of people pointing fingers at one another.

But there are organizations trying to do something about it. One organization called the 100 Black Men said it's a personal responsibility, and they're trying to take charge of their own health for their community.


JOHN GRANT, 100 BLACK MEN OF ATLANTA: To really sell in end market.

GUPTA: John Grant is a man in motion.

GRANT: I walk at a very fast pace. Often have people telling me, who are with me, "Will you slow down?"

GUPTA: As CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Grant teamed up with former surgeon general David Satcher and the Morehouse School of Medicine to create a health program.

GRANT: I'm much more conscious of the fact that, if one can walk 10,000 steps a day, how much you can lower your incidence of diabetes.

GUPTA: Sixty percent of African-American men are overweight. Forty-one percent have cardiovascular disease. In addition black men are twice as likely as white men to have diabetes or die of cancer.

DR. DAVID SATCHER, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We felt if we started with these men it would be an investment in their health and in the health of their community.

GUPTA: Initial health screenings found many undiagnosed problems, such as prostate cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. Each participant was encouraged to increase their physical activity to 10,000 steps a day and eat at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

Those simple changes lowered their cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels over the first two years of the program. And now the group is reaching out to young people in its scholarship program.

DR. WILLIAM ALEXANDER, MOREHOUSE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: We believe very strongly that if we can help our students improve their health, then they'll improve their academic performance.

GUPTA: Walter Burson is a sophomore at Tuskegee University who is overweight and at risk. He's lost 15 pounds since starting the health challenge.

WALTER BURSON, STUDENT: I want to be healthy. So -- and I want to live a long life. And now is the time to start.

SATCHER: This is the black men playing their role, taking their responsibility in the home and ultimately in the community. That's what this is about.


GUPTA: This is taking a civic organization, 100 Black Men, that used to be primarily a scholarship organization and saying as part of their mandate they're going to be good role models when it comes to health. African-American children now twice as likely as white children to be obese, as well.

Next step, take this nationwide. This is an Atlanta chapter. They want to make this a nationwide project, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. And you really -- you could take it across every racial group. Right? I mean, it doesn't have to be 100 Black Men. It could be every group sort of looking after their own and being role models. It's really a good idea.


S. O'BRIEN: Go ahead.

GUPTA: I was going to say, in Atlanta alone, there's 51,000 students. And that's one of the things they said, which was they want to target every student here when it comes to public screenings within the schools, trying to get rid of vending machines. Blood pressure screenings, all sorts of things for all students within the schools. So you're absolutely right about that, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, I like that idea. All right. Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: About 15 minutes until the top of the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN weather center. He's watching a mega storm that is brewing in the Midwest, and I think it's going to have far-reaching implications. Oh, he's got the weather radio.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know what that is, Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: He's got the weather radio. Never miss an opportunity to get that message across.

MYERS: This is it. This could save your life. This may be the best 35, 40, 50 bucks you ever spent. A bunch of different models. You don't have to go out and buy anything specific. But I'll tell you what, I've got my mom on one. You know she was three miles from a tornado and didn't even have one.

S-A-M-E, SAME technology. It's not the old radio that went off a million times. You program your county. And I'll tell you, it's not always easy to program your county on some of these but you do program only your -- or maybe the county to the west of you, as well. Then it doesn't go off all night long. It only goes off when it's supposed to and when it matters to you.


M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Chad.

We're watching news coming in all morning, all along, all around the world, including this just within the past hour. Prince Harry getting his marching orders. He's off to Iraq. And now the questions, how do you keep the prince and his regiment safe?

Plus meet an all-American family, a couple with everything and a young man with nothing make an incredible team up for life. Stay with us for more on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: "Uncovering America" now. A look at the faces of our changing nation.

This morning the amazing tale of a football superstar in the making who just a few years ago had nothing: no family, no home, no hope. But then he got a big break, and he hasn't looked back ever since.



M. O'BRIEN: He is the big man on campus at the University of Mississippi. Big size, big dreams, big odds he would never walk this path.

(on camera) So what's your goal right now?

OHER: My goal is get a college degree and probably play in the NFL one day.

M. O'BRIEN: A few years back do you think you could have even thought about that goal?

OHER: I'd probably have thought about it every now and then. But, you know, it was basically thinking about surviving probably.

M. O'BRIEN (voice-over): Michael Oher is a football phenom, a 6'5", 325-pound lightning fast force of nature. But chances are slim he would be here, had he not crossed paths with another force of nature: the Touhy family of Memphis.

LEIGH ANNE TOUHY, MOTHER: It was just so natural.

SEAN TOUHY, FATHER: That's how easy he became part of our lives.

M. O'BRIEN: That's Sean and Leigh Anne Touhy, or to Michael Oher, Mom and Dad.

OHER: I've grown another inch and a half.

L. TOUHY: You have.

OHER: Brings back a lot of good memories.

M. O'BRIEN: They met here at the Breyer Crest School in prosperous, mostly white East Memphis. Oher arrived here from the other side of the tracks, penniless, parentless and homeless.

OHER: Probably would be in the hood doing nothing, selling drugs or something, trying to eat.

M. O'BRIEN: An adult friend helped him get into Breyer Crest. Once in, the Touhys quickly noticed their daughter Collin's classmate was in serious need.

(on camera) What was the goal, though? Was the goal to do what you did?

S. TOUHY: No, the goal was to feed him.

L. TOUHY: Get him a pair of jean.

M. O'BRIEN (voice-over): Before too long Michael Oher was living in their fancy, beautiful home. The Touhys provided tutoring and correspondence courses to get him up to speed academically and graduated.

S. TOUHY: He learned algebraic formulas before he probably learned how to add three plus three.

L. TOUHY: Add, that's right.

M. O'BRIEN: The Touhys also gave Michael something even more precious.

(on camera) Is it the first time in your life you felt loved?

OHER: Was the first time that -- the first time I ever told somebody I love them when I told Leigh Anne that I loved her one day.

M. O'BRIEN: What was that like?

OHER: I was kind of scared that she'd tell me she loved me all the time. So I mean, one day I thought I'd try it, and it felt good.

M. O'BRIEN (voice-over): Michael Oher now carries a 3.75 average with some help from tutors and sister Collin, also at Ole Miss.

(on camera) You've got a bright future, don't you?

OHER: That's what they tell me. I mean, when I get there I'll believe it.

M. O'BRIEN: I think you're there. You're pretty -- you've got a bright present. Don't you? Right?

OHER: I think the present is inside.


M. O'BRIEN: And the Touhy family is very wealthy. Sean owns more than 60 fast food franchises. He was a standout basketball player at Ole Miss in his day, and he's now a TV commentator for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.

Michael Oher is now a one-third heir to their estate. So he doesn't have to play a day of football in his life.

S. O'BRIEN: But probably (ph) he will.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. He's on his way to the pros. He wants to do it badly. The question that remains, though, is how many kids are out there who are in similar dire straits, maybe don't have that God- given talent and are forgotten?

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, I know. You think of all the people who slip through the cracks, just because there's not enough people grabbing them. What a great story.

M. O'BRIEN: Thanks.

S. O'BRIEN: What a great guy.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Great family. Really enjoyed meeting them all. They're great people.

S. O'BRIEN: That's nice.

M. O'BRIEN: Tomorrow Will Smith gets the Oscar nod, but Chris Gardner is the star in the real life "Pursuit of Happyness". From homeless single dad to self-made millionaire, what he learned chasing his dreams. It's a great movie. I hope you all have seen it. That's tomorrow in our special series. Soledad with that, "Uncovering America".

Coming up, fighting words between the campaigns for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. We'll tell you what the dust-up is all about. Isn't it early for this? Maybe not.

S. O'BRIEN: It's going to be a long year.

M. O'BRIEN: A long year. Also a disturbing new kind of attack by insurgents in Iraq hurting far more people than it kills, but fearful just the same. We'll explain.

And it is Thursday, and we know what that means, right, crew?




M. O'BRIEN: Not bad. Not bad. Thank you.

Send us your e-mails to and I'll answer them live on the CNN Pipeline product, which you can find, of course, at Ten a.m. Eastern is when we take care of the answer portion of that. But send us your questions right now.

The most news in the morning right here on CNN. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Whole Foods sowing its wild oats so to speak. Just what are the stakes in the natural food markets? It is 57 minutes past the house, and Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business".

Good morning. Big business.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Steaks, Whole Food, wild oats.

S. O'BRIEN: I know. Did you like that? I got them all in.

VELSHI: I'm going to run with this story for a long time. Excellent headline.

All right. So here it is Whole Foods is buying its smaller rival, Wild Oats. Now Whole Foods is the country's largest natural and organic food seller. And some of you might think that natural and organic food is kind of like country and western music. They're very distinct things, I should tell you. And I don't know how you make them distinct.

But organic -- the last year for which we have numbers for this is 2005. The organic foods market was $13.8 billion. The natural foods market over $51 billion.

What's the headline here? The headline is people are paying up for this organic or natural foods. Stuff that's said to be better for you and better for the environment.

And everybody is getting into the game. So Whole Foods has to acquire to get bigger, to be competitive. It's had 18 previous acquisitions before this, has 191 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. With Wild Oats it adds another 110 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Who are they watching out for? The 800-pound gorilla in this game is Wal-mart, which has been getting into the organic and natural foods business. I will go out and research -- you know, do a little quiz as to which is organic and which is natural and get back to you with that.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you. We'll be waiting for that.

M. O'BRIEN: We can hardly wait. Thank you.

VELSHI: Me neither.

S. O'BRIEN: Ali, thank you.

Some of the top stories of the morning, most popular at right now, Prince Harry gets the call to go to Iraq. Harry -- we'll show you some pictures of him in training right there -- getting his marching orders, announced this morning, heading for Basra in southern Iraq. He's 22 years old. He's third in line for the British throne. He's a troop commander in the Britain Blues Royal regiment, trained to command 11 men, four tanks. He said he wants to fight for his country and wants to be treated as an ordinary soldier, he has said.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. Like he'll get the ordinary soldier's routine. Maybe so. Maybe so.

"L.A. Times" has this one. Yet another wrinkle you might not expect on global warming. Here's the headline: "Warming Expected to Intensify Basin Droughts". You know, if you ever saw "Chinatown", you know that water is a big deal in Southern California.

What they're saying is the Colorado River is drying up, and of course, the Colorado River is a big source of water for the southland, as they say. And the rest you can figure out.

Next hour of AMERICAN MORNING begins right now.


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