Return to Transcripts main page
TSA Rolls Out New X-Ray, That Is Not X-Rated, At Phoenix Airport; McCain Flip-Flops On What He Really Thinks of Rumsfeld Now
Aired February 23, 2007 - 07:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Senate Democrats with a new plan this morning to get troops out of Iraq and a new challenge on the home front. Too many broken tanks and trucks, and not enough people to fix them.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: X-rated X-ray? A revealing new airport scanner unveiled today. Some are calling it a virtual strip search.
S. O'BRIEN: And a teary-eyed surprise. The judge in the Anna Nicole Smith hearings weeps as a new legal fight takes shape today.
M. O'BRIEN: And we're not going to take it anymore. From JetBlue's high-profile meltdown to frustrating cell phones and car repair rip-offs, we have declared this "Fight-Back Friday".
Live from Texas, New York, Los Angeles, and else where on this AMERICAN MORNING.
S. O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. It's Friday February 23. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
M. O'BRIEN: I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you're with us.
Happening this morning, Vice President Dick Cheney offering a mixed message to China. In Sydney, Australia, this morning, the vice president is thanking China for helping get North Korea to end it's nuclear program. He also, though, called China's recent missile test a military build up not consistent with China's stated goal of a peaceful rise, his words.
Some new light shed on the Horn of Africa this morning. Today's "New York Times" reporting the U.S. quietly used an airstrip in Ethiopia to launch air strikes last month on terrorist in Somalia. And that there's deeper U.S. cooperation with Ethiopia in the ongoing hunt for Al Qaeda militants.
Pakistan overnight test-firing a new version of an existing long- range nuclear missile. Has a range of more than 1,200 miles. Capable of hitting major cities in neighboring India.
A tough sentence for an outrageous war crime. This morning an Army sergeant is facing 100-year prison term for raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and then killing her and her family last year. Sergeant Paul Cortez pleading guilty to avoid the death penalty. He will be eligible for parole in 10 years. Still no verdict in the Scooter Libby trial this morning. The jury will get back to deliberations in a few hours. The former chief of staff for Vice President Cheney accused of lying to investigators who are trying to find the person who leaked the name of a CIA agent. He faces 30 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
S. O'BRIEN: Update you now on the JetBlue meltdown and then the recovery. . Remember all those passengers who had to feel like they were being held hostage on JetBlue planes that were stuck for hours on the runway at New York's JFK Airport, and then the days of cancellations that followed? Well, JetBlue is now with full page ads in East Coast newspapers.
And they've been sending e-mails, too, to frequent flyers telling customers, we're committed to you, we're taking immediate corrective steps to regain your confidence in us.
Some of those steps include a passenger bill of rights and JetBlue's CEO David Neeleman was describing that for us earlier in the week right here on AMERICAN MORNING.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID NEELEMAN, CEO, JETBLUE AIRLINES: If you are on an airplane, and, you know, you arrive in a city, and you can't get off that airplane within 30 minutes, you get compensation starting at 30 minutes. And if you get to two hours, you get the full credit on your trip back.
If you are departing, there's obviously a little bit of a different situation. If we're in line with a bunch of airplanes, you start getting compensation at three hours, and then four hours you get a free ticket, full credit. We have to take you off that airplane within five hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: We did a checkup for you. Turns out the new passenger bill of rights is retroactive is February 15th. Ah, remember, that storm was on February 14th. Which means if you were on one of those planes, you're not covered by this passenger bill of rights. And you may not even be covered in the future, because one of the exclusions is a weather situation.
Still, JetBlue is claiming their business is better than ever and their bookings remain steady.
Throughout the morning we're going to have live reports for you to give you specific advice on how you can fight back against consumer outrages that get under everybody's skin. We're calling it "Fight Back Friday". Ali Velshi is tackling cell phones for us this morning. Gerri Willis is taking a look at home repairs and the rip offs that follow, plus insurance, too. And Greg Hunter, right there, tells us how to avoid car repair rip offs. We'll check in with all of them straight ahead this morning. M. O'BRIEN: The unrelenting violence in Iraq changing the lives of another American military family. Here's what's new this morning. The Pentagon confirming overnight a soldier was killed in a roadside bomb south of Baghdad. Also, new fears of a spike in sectarian violence this weekend. A Sunni leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq calling for revenge on Shiites after a woman was raped.
Senate Democrats planning a new resolution aimed at getting America out of Iraq. It would limit the U.S. mission to training Iraqi soldiers and fighting Al Qaeda, but otherwise, would reduce U.S. combat forces. The measure facing strong opposition.
Last weekend, as you know, Senate Republicans blocked a nonbinding measure opposing the president's troop buildup plan.
S. O'BRIEN: There are some more concerns about troops who are still on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, and just how prepared they are for an even longer fight. There is a huge backlog of damaged tanks and Humvees and trucks. They're all sent all the way from the war zones to a depot, believe it or not, in Texarkana, Texas. AMERICAN MORNING's Sean Callebs has been looking at the overwhelming workload there.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.
Indeed, every day trains arrive here in the northeastern section of Texas bringing vehicles like this Humvee. Right now there are enough Humvees on the ground to keep people working for three months. The service tries to reuse as many vehicles as possible to save money. To give you an idea, we have a watch. It's still dark out here, but another camera is set up to show you line after line of vehicles all over.
For example, this Humvee we're standing in front of here, this would cost about $110,000 new without armor, but to refit it, to get it back to the troops, it will cost about $50,000. There is enough scheduled work for the next three years.
CALLEBS (voice over): Work at the Red River Army Depot could mean the difference between life and death for America's fighting men and women. This northeastern Texas base is where a large percentage of Humvees, Bradley fighting machines, and tanks roll through for service and repairs.
LT. COL. DOUGLAS EVANS, CMDR., RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT: We got hit with an IED.
CALLEBS: Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Evans is the commanding officer.
EVANS: I spent a year in Iraq, and when you press the gas, you want that vehicle to go, and when you press the brake, you want that vehicle to stop, and when you need to shoot, you need to communicate that it works properly. We are absolutely putting soldiers in harm's way if we don't.
CALLEBS: With about 40 percent of U.S. military equipment deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 4,000 civilian employees at Red River are being asked to do a lot. For example, the number of Humvees:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, two years ago we were doing two to four vehicles a day, and currently we produce 32 vehicles a day.
CALLEBS: An exponential increase. And with attacks overseas coupled with President Bush's decision to send 21,000 more troops to Iraq, there are growing concerns that equipment is being spread too thinly. The Pentagon admits that if U.S. forces were deployed to yet another hotspot, there would be significant concerns about the number of available armored vehicles. They also say the wartime effort and training are not suffering.
EVANS: Backlog is kind of a misused terminal. The army is refurbishing equipment on a three-year plan. One year the soldiers are training on the equipment. The next year that equipment is in Iraq, and then the next year the equipment is coming back from Iraq and going through the depot.
CALLEBS: With so many vehicles damaged by insurgent attacks, the obvious goal, get the machinery out of Texas and back to troops as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We live by the slogan, built it as if our lives depend on it, because theirs do.
CALLEBS: Now, the vehicles here, on base, if they stop getting them today, they would have enough to work for three months. They have scheduled repairs for the next three years at this base. They say that is regularly scheduled work.
How they make sure that the troops are safe? Well, they only reuse the parts of a vehicle like this if they know they're going to be completely safe. For example, Soledad, they take the frame, and they do ultraviolet tests on it to make sure there are no cracks. They don't send trucks and vehicles back over there with busted hoses, things of that nature.
A lot of work goes on in a very short time. Once a vehicle like this reaches the assembly line, in 10 days it's fixed, and sent back to troops in Iraq.
S. O'BRIEN: Wow. That's quite a turnaround. Sean Callebs for us this morning. Thank you, Sean.
M. O'BRIEN: Anna Nicole Smith's body is headed for burial in the Bahamas. The contentious issue finally settled in a courtroom hearing gave new meaning to the term odd. For those of you who missed the Judge Larry Seidlin's tearful performance, here's all you need to see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY BIRKHEAD, SMITH'S FORMER BOYFRIEND: I missed the delivery of my child. I've had to pay $4.99 for magazines to see what my child looks like. I've had to call and send gifts -- FedEx Christmas gifts for my child, and I have missed everything that you can't get back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you, your honor, you not the three of us to hold hands? It ain't ever going to happen, your honor. That's naive. That's Camelot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is it then that you as an adult, as you just stated, took the chance on getting her pregnant and putting this baby in danger before it was even conceived?
BIRKHEAD: Well, the answer to the question is when she came back from South Carolina, she was not medicated as much.
JUDGE LARRY SEIDLIN, CIRCUIT COURT, FLORIDA: Just be straight here. You got to help me.
BIRKHEAD: At times I took her medicine, and I was told by Mr. Stern to give it become to her because she needed it to live. I just told her over and over -- I said don't. Something is going to happen to you. Something is going to happen, and I --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a breath. It's OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just stopped the conversation and looked at me and said, Troy, if anything should happen to me, I need to be with Danny.
SEIDLIN: Anna Nicole Smith was one complicated individual. Shakespeare, she could have filled maybe the character in Shakespeare, in "Hamlet", Ophelia.
(COURTROOM IN COMMOTION)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened? He fainted, he fainted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody step back, step back.
SEIDLIN: You didn't eat? You didn't eat?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm OK. I'm sorry.
SEIDLIN: You two are the primary potentials here, to submit to a DNA and find out who the father is. It's enough boloney here. The court orders and adjudges as follows: Richard Millstein, Esquire, as the guardian ad litem for Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern, is awarded custody of the remains of Anna Nicole Smith.
I want her buried with her son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes! SEIDLIN: I want her -- there's no -- this is not a happy moment. I want her buried with her son in the Bahamas. I want them to be together.
M. O'BRIEN: Later this morning CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin will join us. He says the judge's behavior was one of the most bizarre things he's ever seen. We agree.
S. O'BRIEN: That was the oddest highlight reel, wasn't it? That's just a small, smidge of how crazy that got.
M. O'BRIEN: Apparently he wants to be a television judge.
S. O'BRIEN: Like Judge Judy.
M. O'BRIEN: I think maybe that might have been his demo reel. I don't know. Maybe we'll see him.
S. O'BRIEN: Well, I don't know if that gets you the job, or loses you the job.
M. O'BRIEN: It sure got him attention.
S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning big part of the country will be hit by a major winter storm today. Rob Marciano is watching it for us. We'll have the latest on the path.
Plus, what could be a new strategy for Senator John McCain? He appears to be changing his tune a bit in his unofficial, as yet, race for the White House.
Plus, a CNN "Security Watch". The so-called X-rated X-ray machine gets a makeover. A little bit of a cover up, you might say. Those stories and much more straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.
S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Are you watching the most news in the morning. It's coming up at quarter past the hour, and Rob Marciano is watching the weather for us.
M. O'BRIEN: The Straight Talk Express seems to be taking a detour. Senator John McCain changing his tune trying to put some distance between him and the White House in his presumptive run for the White House, itself. Listen to what he said about former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld back in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): While, Secretary Rumsfeld and I have had our differences, he deserves America's respect and gratitude for his many years of public service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: But earlier this week he had some tougher language. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I think that Don Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of Defense in history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: So will the real John McCain please stand up? Republican strategist Ed Rollins joining us now.
Ed, good to see you back here on the program.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL STRATEGIST: My pleasure. Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: John McCain, more than anybody, is four square behind the troop buildup in Iraq.
ROLLINS: No question about that.
M. O'BRIEN: It's an unpopular thing in this country. Is he trying to put some distance between the administration and himself in order to kind of inoculate himself for that stance?
ROLLINS: I think what happened is this became McCain's war as opposed to Bush's war. Obviously, organization like MoveOn.org and others started running ads. I think John thought he was going to have this thing in a cake walk, and what he discovering is this is going to be very hard, contested battle with Giuliani and Romney and some others.
And I think to a certain extent, is he now out there trying to basically figure out what he needs to say. The great strength of McCain has always been that he has been independent. He said what he believes. I think to a certain extent, at this point in time, he looks like is he waffling all over the place, and that's going to hurt him.
M. O'BRIEN: It's interesting. Just this past week he was in Florida. He was meeting with conservatives, religious broadcasters. We're going to talk a little bit about that in a moment, but he said this, in that context.
He said, "Every time I have done something for political reasons, and not the right reasons, I have paid a very heavy price for it, a big price." Seems like he understands that lesson.
ROLLINS: Well, the critical thing about politics is you need to be thinking politically, and you need to sometimes act politically, but you can never look politically. And John is now starting to look like is he waffling and trying to look like he is doing what is politically astute.
Perfect example is the Schwarzenegger thing, where he is out condemning the president's positions on environment. Certainly, he talked -- you know, eight years ago he wasn't going to deal with the religious right -- Falwell, what have you -- he now seems to be catering to that group.
M. O'BRIEN: He called them agents of intolerance.
ROLLINS: Well, he did.
M. O'BRIEN: Now he is trying to court them.
ROLLINS: Now is he trying to court them. I think to a certain extent he had to be, there's a balance. There's still a very strong political base that supports this president, and the president gets 35 percent, 36 percent in the polls. Those are the die-hard Republicans. Those aren't Independents, those aren't Democrats. And at the end of the day whoever wins this nomination has to have a lot of --
M. O'BRIEN: So, there's nothing wrong with political calculations, so long as it doesn't look that way?
ROLLINS: So long as it doesn't look that way. And particularly for someone like McCain who has had this view of being an independent maverick. When you start looking like a politician -- and he is the politician. He has been in Congress for 25 years, and to a certain extent, this is a year about sort of an anti-Washington mode.
O'BRIEN: What would your advice be to him this morning?
ROLLINS: Find out -- figure out who he is. Sit down and get a yellow pad, here's who I am, this is how I'm going to run. And I'm going to stick with it all the way. And don't underestimate Giuliani, don't underestimate anybody else in this race.
M. O'BRIEN: And he still stands in pretty good position?
ROLLINS: He is. He has slid back. I think Giuliani has become a far more significant candidate than they anticipated. The Washingtonians, the establishment that is all behind him, didn't realize this mayor has great popularity across this country.
M. O'BRIEN: Ed Rollins, always a pleasure. Thanks for coming in.
ROLLINS: My pleasure. Thanks very much.
M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, a CNN "Security Watch". Critics call this -- take a look -- the X-rated X-ray machine, but now that it's less revealing, will those critics be satisfied?
And are you stuck in a lengthy contract for cell phone? We're going to tell you how you can dig yourself out. It's all part of our "Fight Back Friday", straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING
S. O'BRIEN: How much privacy are you willing to give up in order to fly safely? Are you willing to endure a virtual strip-search? Right now, in Phoenix, they're rolling out a new scanner that's great at spotting guns and bombs, and some people say, a lot more than that. CNN's Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve shows us.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The X-rated X-ray isn't what it used to be. The controversial backscatter technology, once called an electric strip-search because it produced explicit images of the human body, has been blurred up and toned down. But the Transportation Security Administration says backscatter can still detect plastic weapons and other threats that conventional magnetometers cannot.
ELLEN HOWE, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMIN.: We're comfortable that this machine will provide both privacy for the public and enhanced security at the check point.
MESERVE: Starting today passengers undergoing secondary screening at the Phoenix airport will have a choice. A pat down or a backscatter body scan.
HOWE: The whole process takes about 45 seconds. You have two scans. It's very low-dose radiation. That can see through the clothing, but not through the skin. And it's equivalent to the amount of radiation that you would get, say, in two minutes in an airplane flight at altitude.
MESERVE: To address privacy concerns the TSA employees who view the images will be in a different room from the people being scanned. Only men will view male images. Women will view women.
(On camera): But privacy advocates are concerned that those more detailed, embarrassing images are being stored inside the machine.
MARC ROTENBERG, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFO. CNTR.: It captures an image of a person as if they were wearing no clothes -- and in quite a bit of detail.
MESERVE (voice over): But the manufacturer says this machine has been modified and only generates an outline. Never an explicit image, and nothing is saved.
JOE REISS, AMERICAN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING: It's absolutely not like a digital camera. The machine is actually designed explicitly so that it can't store or save any images. MESERVE: Backscatter machines can be powered up at Los Angeles International Airport and New York's JFK before the end of the year, if this pilot program in Phoenix shows the public will accept backscatter, and that the $100,000 machine provides better security than an old-fashioned, cost-effective pat down. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Phoenix.
M. O'BRIEN: It is "Fight Back Friday" here at CNN. We're not just mad about airlines that treat us like hostages. We're also going after those cell phone companies that imprison us in long, restrictive contracts.
How can we get out of a bum deal? CNN's Ali Velshi dialed in on "Fight Back Friday" for us. Is he on the streets of New York. He is a tough guy, he's out there getting us the good deals.
What do we do if we're stuck in a contract and we want to get out?
ALI VELSHI, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, most folks are in a contract because it got them a cheap phone in the first place. Most people renew their contract because they get either a cheap or a free phone to renew it.
You don't usually have a lot of opportunities to get out of that contract without paying a hefty fee, unless a couple of things happen. One, is if you move it a place where your cell phone provider does not provide service, or is known to not have good service there. You have to prove to the company that you have moved, but you can often get out of a contract.
The other thing is that often these cell phone companies -- not often, but once in a while -- they'll send you something either in your bill or separately that indicates that they've changed a fee, or change aid service, or some little thing in your contract has changed and have you an opt out clause. Can you use that to get out of your contract. Now, there's a little time window there.
The other thing, can you transfer something. Miles, if I think I don't like my contract or I want something else, and you are prepared to take my contract because you just want a contract for a few months, I can transfer that contract to you. We both agree on it, and my cell phone company will charge me a little fee to transfer it.
If you want to transfer and you can't find somebody to transfer to, choose two web sites to look at. One of them is CellTradeUSA.com. The other one is, resellular.com. That's resellular with an S. For a fee they will match you up with someone who is prepared to take your contract. You'll also probably have to pay a fee to the cell phone company that someone else can take your contract if you need out of it -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: So they're assumable? That's pretty good. VELSHI: They are assumable, that's right. You will pay some fee for it, but it might be less than that fee you pay to cancel your contract.
M. O'BRIEN: You know, it's worth putting out, though, that those fees to back out, you are just paying for the phone you didn't pay for in the first place? So, keep that in mind.
VELSHI: That's exactly right. If you don't like contracts, buy a phone separately.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. One more tip you can do here is on home phone service? If you want to dump the phone company, you did it, I have done it.
S. O'BRIEN: Dump is such an ugly word.
M. O'BRIEN: Have you done it, Ali?
VELSHI: I have done -- I mean, I use my cell phone all the time.
M. O'BRIEN: Oh, you don't even have any sort of land line service?
VELSHI: I have one of those VOIP land lines that you were talking about.
M. O'BRIEN: Vonage, or the like.
VELSHI: Yeah, Internet.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Ali. Thank you.
VELSHI: All right.
S. O'BRIEN: More tips are online, as well, for folks who want more information, go right to our web page for all the day's advice. Go to cnn.com/am.
Top stories of the morning are coming up next.
This is war. Senate Democrats are ready for the next step, they say, to stop President Bush's plan in Iraq.
Also, some news to tell you about in the peanut butter salmonella scare that may have taken a serious turn. And now a family wants answers. We'll explain, straight ahead. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning is right here on CNN.
M. O'BRIEN: Gathering storm: A weekend of war debate as Democrats prepare a new plan that would take America out of Iraq.
S. O'BRIEN: Disorder in the court: A crying judge, competing boyfriends, and a new legal battle ahead today, over Anna Nicole Smith.
M. O'BRIEN: Is the lack of customer service getting you down these days? We're standing up for your consumer rights from sticky cell phone contracts to slick car repair men. It's fight back Friday on this AMERICAN MORNING. Good morning.
S. O'BRIEN: No, you. Good morning. It's Friday, February 23rd. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
M. O'BRIEN: Always ladies first. Good morning to you. I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you joined us.
S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin with Senate Democrats this morning who are preparing a new plan they say to get America out of Iraq. They could start as early as next week. The legislation would limit the U.S. mission to training Iraqi soldiers and fighting al Qaeda but otherwise reduce U.S. combat forces. And of course, it's sure to face strong opposition. Last weekend, you'll recall Senate Republicans were able to block a nonbinding measure opposing the president's troop build up plan.
Violence in Iraq claims the life of another U.S. soldier. Here's what's new this morning. The Pentagon is confirming that U.S. soldier died in a roadside bombing. It happened south of Baghdad. Also, there are some new fears that sectarian violence could spike over the weekend because a Sunni leader of al Qaeda in Iraq is calling for revenge. Now, that call comes after Shiite members of Iraq security forces allegedly raped a Sunni woman.
M. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning, a tough sentence for an outrageous war crime. This morning an army sergeant is facing 100- year prison term for raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family last year. Sergeant Paul Cortez pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty. He will be eligible for parole in 10 years.
Vice President Dick Cheney speaking out before China. It's a mixed message. In Sydney, Australia this morning, the vice president thanking China for helping get North Korea to end its nuclear program, but calling China's recent shoot down of a satellite and its military buildup inconsistent with China's promise for a peaceful rise.
Pakistan overnight test-firing a new version of an existing long- range nuclear missile. It has a range of about 1,200 miles. That means it's capable of hitting major cities in neighboring India.
S. O'BRIEN: America votes now taking a look at some of the candidates that are vying for the White House in 2008. There are more questions about Hillary Clinton's backers in South Carolina. Two more black lawmakers who supported Clinton have ties to a media consulting firm that she hired. Both supporters say their support has nothing to do with any business dealings.
For the Republican candidates, Mitt Romney is putting Iran front and center. He is urging several New York officials to divest state pension funds from Iran. Romney says that will help isolate Iran economically as that nation pursues its nuclear program. Republican Duncan Hunter of South Carolina is naming some of his advisors for that state's primary. Among them is Lois Ergle (ph). She's right there sitting next to Hunter. She's known for her hard line on illegal immigration. She boasts a story she once told about an illegal immigrant came to her office asking for free legal help for an abused child and she advised that illegal immigrant you should get back to Mexico. Hunter says if he were president, he would have a fence up on the border with Mexico within six months.
All the day's political news is available any time day or night right at cnn.com/ticker. Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: We now know where Anna Nicole Smith's body will be buried, but just who will get custody of her baby daughter remains an open question. CNN's Susan Candiotti was there for a courtroom drama that would put Perry Mason to shame.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To call this a courtroom drama is an understatement, and in the starring role Broward County District Judge Larry Seidlin crying at times as he issued his ruling a day early on who gets to bury Anna Nicole Smith.
JUDGE LARRY SEIDLIN, BROWARD COUNTY FAMILY COURT: Richard Milstein esquire, as a guardian-ad-litem for Danielle Lynn Hope Marshall Stern (ph) is awarded custody of the remains of Anna Nicole Smith.
CANDIOTTI: Seidlin passed over Smith's estranged mother Vergie Arthur and Smith's long time companion, Howard K. Stern, but in releasing the body, the judge made his wishes tearfully clear.
SEIDLIN: I want her buried with her son in the Bahamas. I want them to be together.
CANDIOTTI: That guardian says he'll abide by the judge's wishes.
RICHARD MILSTEIN, SMITH'S BABY'S GUARDIAN: We will be moving forward with making final arrangements, no matter what occurs. There will be a need to bury Miss Smith in an expedited matter.
HOWARD K. STERN, SMITH'S BOYFRIEND: I just want to say that I'm very grateful that Anna Nicole's wishes are going to be carried out.
LARRY BIRKHEAD, SMITH'S FORMER BOYFRIEND: We all loved Anna, and it's in her best interests to come together and get this thing worked out for her best interests and lay her to rest.
CANDIOTTI: But despite the seemingly united front, Anna Nicole's remains will stay put while her mother files an appeal arguing she is the legal next of kin because her granddaughter is too young, a baby whose biological father is still unknown. Is it Howard K. Stern or Larry Birkhead?
SEIDLIN: You two are the primary potentials here. Submit to a DNA and find out who the father is. It's enough bologna here.
CANDIOTTI: A Florida family court judge down the hall from Seidlin will re-enter that fray this morning. Susan Candiotti, CNN, Fort Lauderdale.
M. O'BRIEN: Later in our 8:00 a.m. Eastern hour, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin will join us. He says the judge's behavior in this case was one of the most bizarre things he has ever seen. That's his legal opinion, and we sort of --
S. O'BRIEN: We concur. Yes.
Coming up it's fight back Friday. We've got specific advice to help you with everything that drives you absolutely crazy, from the contractor who refuses to show up to the car repair guy that wants to fix absolutely everything that actually doesn't need fixing. We'll tell you how you can fight back straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.
M. O'BRIEN: Most news in the morning right here on CNN. Senate Democrats planning to unveil new legislation next week that could revoke authorization for the Iraq war. That could lead to a drawdown of American troops there. Expect a big fight in the Senate.
And overnight Iran's president repeating he will not pull the plug on his country's nuclear program despite the threat of new sanctions from the United Nations. Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Some health headlines for you this morning. Scientists say it is conclusive that circumcision can drastically lower a man's chances of getting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Experts say this news ranks up there in importance with identifying the virus and finding drugs that save lives for people with HIV. The studies show that circumcision can lower the risk of getting HIV by 60 percent. The study is done by the National Institutes of Health.
And no doubt about it this morning, the recalled peanut butter that sickened more than 300 people across 41 states contains salmonella. The tainted Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter was made at a Conagra plant in Georgia. There are no deaths confirmed linked to the outbreak, but a family in Pennsylvania is now suing. They claimed a loved one in the family died after eating tainted peanut butter.
The nation's biggest milk company says they're not going to use milk from cloned cows. (INAUDIBLE) farms says customers just don't want it. (INAUDIBLE) companies like Ben and Jerry's and Organic Valley have already said that they oppose milk from clones. Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: It used to be when you opened the hood of your car, you could figure out how things worked and how they might be fixed. Of course, that's no longer the case. The car is more complex and computerized and as a result the possibility of getting ripped off at the garage is greater than ever. This fight back Friday, AMERICAN MORNING's consumer reporter Greg Hunter looked into some of the most common service ripoffs. Good morning, Greg.
GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are three top car scams you should always say no to. Number one, engine oil flushing.
MIKE ALLEN, SR EDITOR, POPULAR MECHANICS: The mechanic comes out and says look at this dip stick. Look how filthy your oil is. Your engine is all full of sludge. Just changing your oil isn't going to do it. What you need to do is to let me hook your car up to this machine which will run the special solvent through and it will pull all the sludge out of your engine. Your engine will last forever.
HUNTER: Say no to an engine flush. "Popular Mechanics" Mike Allen says changing oil regularly is all you need to do. Two, fuel injector cleaning. When the mechanic asks you would you like to have your injectors cleaned as regular maintenance, do you need that?
ALLEN: Well, no, if your car is running fine, the check engine light is not on, it's not missing or getting poor fuel economy, you don't need to do that.
HUNTER: That fuel injector cleaning you probably don't need can cost around $150. Three, fuel-saving devices and additives. The Environmental Protection Agency and Mike Allen have tested these products for years and say they don't work. Say no to any device or additive that promises better gas mileage.
ALLEN: Like any business, there are unscrupulous people who will try to take money away from you that they really don't deserve.
HUNTER: So the term that you are talking about is called what?
ALLEN: Service merchandizing.
HUNTER: Well, we're here at Mooney's garage in Clifton, New Jersey and no matter what you call it, sometimes the best thing you need to do is just simply say no. So say no to engine oil flushing. Say no to fuel injector cleaning as maintenance and say no to those gadgets and additives that promise you better gas mileage.
Now here at Mooney's they don't do any unnecessary service, OK. These guys have been in business -- look at this -- for 50 years. It's very quaint. Looks like a Norman Rockwell postcard, right? So if you come inside here, you can see the family still runs this, the Mooney boys. Take a look over there. There's Jim. Hey, Jim. Over here is Andy. Andy is working away here. Let's interrupt him a little bit. Andy, last hour you told us the best thing that people can do is check their service manual. If you think you are getting ripped off, they're giving you unnecessary service, check your service manual. What about this time? What else can you tell people to do to make sure they don't get taken at a garage?
ANDY MOONEY: Well, if people have a big repair and they feel uncomfortable, don't tell them to hesitate to get a second opinion. It's very good. I think you should go out and get another opinion. If the opinion comes out the same, then great. If the opinion comes out different, then we've got to look around and see what's up.
HUNTER: Then we have a problem?
MOONEY: We got a problem.
HUNTER: OK, thank a lot Andy, really appreciate it.
MOONEY: Any time.
HUNTER: Back to you, Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Greg, would you ask Andy if the floor is always that clean in his garage. Looks good this morning. Did he clean up for us?
HUNTER: The floor is always that clean. When I first came out here, I thought with Mike Allen, Mike said, no I like this garage because, you know, if you look around here, he says it's neat, but it's not so neat that you know they're not doing any work in here. These guys, they don't do any unnecessary services. Hey, listen, we don't have time to do that kind of junk because we got legitimate work to do and they've been in business 50 years here, so they can't afford to do that kind of stuff.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. That's a good tip. Find somebody who has been in business for a while. Another thing that you can do and Greg touched on it briefly, but check your manual, and in your manual, it will have when all the routine maintenance is supposed to happen. If they tell you it's time for whatever, brakes, double-check it because it may not be time.
S. O'BRIEN: In fact, it probably is not time.
M. O'BRIEN: Good chance of that.
S. O'BRIEN: Yeah.
M. O'BRIEN: You can find more tips to help fight back on our AMERICAN MORNING web site. Go to cnn.com/am.
S. O'BRIEN: It's 45 minutes past the hour. Let's get right to Rob Marciano. He's at the CNN weather center. He's watching a big old winter storm take shape. Good morning Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning Soledad. This is a big one. It's headed to California. It brought a tremendous amount of rain and snow there and as it heads across the Rockies, it's really going to wind itself up. So some extreme weather expected later on today in the form of blizzard conditions across parts of western Kansas and Nebraska, and also, the potential for large hail and maybe some tornadoes northwestern parts of Texas, western parts of Oklahoma and Kansas and then this area of disturbed weather, to put it lightly, will head off towards the east and on your Saturday, it looks like it's going to head into parts of the southeast.
They're getting hit with some heavy snow in Salt Lake City. The rain extends all the way down towards San Diego. The Sierra Nevadas have already seen a foot plus from this system and yesterday winds were gusting close to 100 miles an hour. So far the forecast does bring a tremendous amount of snow into the Colorado Rockies, and as mentioned that thing heads to the east. By the way Soledad, you got a little storm just off of coast of New England bringing some snow outside of New York, but it shouldn't be that bad of a deal.
S. O'BRIEN: Really how many inches, do you think?
MARCIANO: Places upstate could see two or three. They've already seen in the Catskills four and five inches of snow, but New York maybe some wet flakes. That should be about it.
S. O'BRIEN: All right. I'll take that. Thank you, Rob.
Here's an unusual story to tell you about. A drug deal goes down on school property. An arrest is made. Here's a shocker. It is the principal of the middle school who is under arrest. A startling report from the middle school in Florida straight ahead this morning.
And it's fight back Friday here on AMERICAN MORNING. Take a look around your home. Have you had problems with a contractor? Have you had problems with your insurance company? Gerri Willis is on it. She's got specific advice for you to fight back straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: Most news in the morning right here on CNN. New government tests confirming Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter are behind that salmonella outbreak. Hundreds of people sick in 41 states.
And a new loophole in those recently change the passport rules. Kids 15 and younger will not need a passport to travel to and from Canada. A birth certificate will now suffice. The rule applies to young citizens of both countries. Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Happening in America this morning, a nationwide house cleaning of sorts for a contracting firm accused of hiring illegal immigrants. The sweep is now affecting 18 states across the country. The heads of Rosenbaum Cunningham International are also charged with fraud and tax crimes. Two hundred workers in 63 locations were also rounded up, and they could be deported.
In southern California lawmakers looking to make it illegal for hospitals to deliver and dump homeless people on the streets. Meantime, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center says a van driver didn't follow procedure when he dumped a homeless paraplegic man on skid row. It happened earlier in the month. In Tampa, Florida, so much for a drug-free school zone. A school principal was arrested accused of trying to buy $20 worth of crack cocaine from an undercover cop on the grounds of the middle school where he worked. Students were on campus at the time. His name is 41-year-old Anthony Giancola (ph) and he has now been placed on administrative leave.
Stop right there. New York, there is no dancing, not in bars, not in restaurants. Nowhere where it's not officially designated for dancing. It's a law apparently that's been around since prohibition, and now a state court has upheld that law.
Portland, Oregon, a man who desperately wanted to dance is now in big trouble. This is a guy who dialed 911 when he was having trouble getting into a nightclub. He told the dispatcher he couldn't get in. Well, now he is charged with improper use of 911, meaning you not allowed to call 911 when you just can't get into a club. It turned out, he had drugs on him. Cops say they found those drugs and they promptly arrested him. Stupid criminals.
M. O'BRIEN: Stupid criminal desk is very busy this morning.
More top stories are coming up, a Senate showdown. Democrats in the Senate laying the ground work to limit the president's war powers.
Plus, the Anna Nicole Smith hearing. We'll take a closer look at the judge who broke down while handing down his ruling. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning right here on CNN.
M. O'BRIEN: Microsoft is licking its wounds this morning after a big PR and financial ding. A Federal jury ordering the software behemoth to shell out $1.5 billion to telecom giant Alcatel Lucent. Apparently Microsoft used some MP3 technology to which Alcatel Lucent owns the patents. Microsoft planning an appeal. Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: It's fight back Friday and in light of the Jetblue service meltdown, we decided we would take look at ways you can protect yourself and your wallet and other kinds of consumer meltdowns. This morning, we take a look at advice for your home. CNN's Gerri Willis is in suburban Heartsdale (ph), New York, with a look at what you can do when your home insurance company is not saying yes to your claim. Hey Gerri, good morning.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Soledad. It's good to see you. You know, as a matter of fact, I'm in a kitchen here and you would think when you are at home, you are protected. The fact is this is where you can find some of the most frustrating consumer problems, one of them homeowners insurance. And I've got to tell you, if you've got a problem, you've got to go through the appropriate steps.
First of all, take it to the top. File with your claims adjustor, but if you are not getting the response you want, you definitely want to ask for their boss and file with them. A good idea, keep notes along the way. Make sure that you are talking to the people you need to talk to. Get the names of the people you are talking to and also their title so you know who they are.
Also, get a second opinion. With some homeowners insurance policy, there's something called an appraisal clause. That means if you are having a disagreement with your homeowners insurance, you may be able to get a second opinion, hire your own appraiser, go head-to- head with your homeowners insurance in front of a third party referee. You can get a decision that way. If it doesn't work, go to your state department of insurance to complain. They are the regulators for the insurance industry.
And finally, all along the way, it's important to document what you are doing. You want to have the best records possible if you are making a claim on your homeowners insurance. Take pictures. Get out the video camera. Take notes. You want to make sure that they have all the information they need to get your claim processed. Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Let's talk about this case that we heard. It was really shocking, Gerri, where that little old lady for 15 years -- was it 15 years, I think, had no power.
WILLIS: That's right.
S. O'BRIEN: Because her contractor was unscrupulous, basically ripped her off, took her money but never brought her up to code so she could get power. How do you avoid something like that?
WILLIS: Well, with a contractor there are steps you can take so that you don't get ripped off. Tip number one, you really want to think about putting just a little bit of money down at a time, and in most states it's 10 percent to 25 percent of the total amount that's due that you put down to begin with. Then as each major process, each major step of your reno gets done, you give them a little bit more money. But I got to tell you, Soledad, when the project gets done, that's not when you finish paying. You want to hold back something called retainage so that you have a little maneuverability in case the job isn't done to your specificity.
S. O'BRIEN: Everybody is so much more interested in wrapping up the job neatly when you are holding on to $10,000 of their money. Gerri Willis for us this morning.
WILLIS: That's right. It's all about the money. That's going to make the important decision.
S. O'BRIEN: Isn't that weird how that works. It all comes down to the cash. Thanks Gerri.
One more tip from cnnmoney.com. Demand discounts. Insurance apparently provides discounts for (INAUDIBLE) behavior that reduces risk. But believe it or not, $300 billion a year is wasted by consumers because they forget to ask for it. Find more tips on our web site, cnn.com/am. Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: I'm going to demand a discount on the weather forecast coming up. Rob Marciano at the CNN weather center with that. Discount it, please. MARCIANO: You can't discount a freebie. Come on. You don't charge. (INAUDIBLE) and make sure that bill's in on time. Hey, watching this extreme weather event take shape over the Colorado Rockies into the plains. The chance of tornadoes exists for the next couple of days. So be aware. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.
S. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Rob.
The Senate showdown. Senate Democrats have a new plan this morning to get the troops out of Iraq. We'll tell you what it is.
M. O'BRIEN: Water works. All kinds of talk this morning about the weepy judge in the Anna Nicole Smith trial. A new legal battle ahead today.
S. O'BRIEN: And keep more cash in your wallet. We're taking a stand against crummy customer service from cell phone companies to car repairmen on this fight back Friday. We're live from Texas, New York and Los Angeles on this AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: Good morning to you, Friday, February 23. I'm Miles O'Brien.
S. O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien. Thanks for being with us.
M. O'BRIEN: Senate Democrats are spoiling for a new fight to get U.S. troops out of Iraq and a heated debate could start as early as next week. The legislation would limit the U.S. mission to training Iraqi soldiers and fighting al Qaeda, but would otherwise reduce U.S. combat forces. The measure is headed for strong opposition of course. Last weekend, Senate Republicans blocked a nonbinding measure opposing the president's troop build up plan, you recall that.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com