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Iraq: 5th Year Begins; Desperate Search; Prosecutor Purge; Groom Killed; Small State's Big Sacrifice; Minding Your Business

Aired March 19, 2007 - 06:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. A suicide attack near a U.S. embassy convoy in Afghanistan overnight night.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: A frantic search in the woods. A Boy Scout is missing for the second bone-chilling night. Will this be the lucky day for him and for the searchers.

S. O'BRIEN: And spending your spring break at the airport. Will thousands of stranded air travelers finally get off the ground today?

M. O'BRIEN: And welcome to the fifth year of the Iraq War. Four years ago today, no one predict what we have all endured. What could possibly be next?

We're live from Baghdad, Tehran, North Carolina and New York City on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: And good morning. Welcome, everybody. It's Monday, March 19th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

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

S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin this morning with the war in Iraq entering a fifth year and the ongoing fight over just how to end it. The House is voting this week on a timeline that would bring the troops home. President Bush says he's going to veto it.

And the recent troop buildup is working. That's according Defense Secretary Gates, who says so far, so good. But attacks this weekend killed 11 more Iraqis and seven U.S. soldiers. There were four explosions in Baghdad on Sunday.

Here at home, war protesters are expected to rally again today after marches in Washington, in New York, in San Francisco and in Portland. That took place this weekend.

We've got full coverage this morning from Kyra Phillips, who's in Baghdad for us, Aneesh Raman's in Tehran and Jason Carroll's with us right here in New York.

Let's begin this morning with Kyra and a violent weekend to talk about in Baghdad.

Kyra, good morning.


You talked about what happened over the weekend, but look what has happened since this morning. This is just looking at the wires, talking to our sources just today. A mayor of a small Shiite village kidnapped and found murdered. Four Iraqis, including a mother and daughter, killed in random mortar attacks on the streets.

An Iraqi killed in a drive-by shooting, a common tactic here in Baghdad. Also, a Shiite mosque explosion. Now we're hearing four people are dead and two Iraqi soldiers killed in Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein. You can see that these streets are anything but safe, going in to that fifth year of this war.

S. O'BRIEN: Kyra, what's the situation or the sense on the streets from the people you've been talking to? Do they feel hopeless or do they feel that, in fact, things could get better?

PHILLIPS: You know, it's a combination. There's this new security plan that's in place, Soledad. And you see it as you go out to work a story. About every 600 yards you hit a checkpoint. But even when you roll up to that checkpoint, you don't know if they're going to be safe. Some are good checkpoints, some are bad checkpoints. You take a risk every time you come up to that point.

When I've had a chance to talk to Iraqis, all of them say, yes, Saddam Hussein had to go. He was an evil dictator. But my life is so hard right now. Whether you're rich or you're poor, you're still struggling.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. Four years ago, I remember when you were onboard the USS Lincoln as shock and awe got underway. What do you think, four years later? Did you ever think that four years after that the U.S. would still be involved in the conflict?


S. O'BRIEN: Really?

PHILLIPS: Not at all, Soledad. I remember four years ago this week. I mean this was shock and awe night. I remember the pilots gearing up. Everybody was talking about Saddam Hussein being overthrown. They were gearing up, launching off. We saw Baghdad illuminate once again. We saw the bombs drop.

Now, four years later, I'm here on the streets. I'm seeing where those bombs dropped. I'm seeing that a lot of the buildings, a lot of the life has not been rebuilt. I never expected it to be like this.

Even though there's this new security plan and thing are getting a little better, life here is anything but normal. You can't go to a cafe and have a coffee. You can't go to a movie. You can't live a normal life. It is really tough for Iraqis.

And I think final thought is, all of them, all of them say we just have faith. We're hoping that everything will get better. You hear that from every single Iraqi. They do not lose faith, even though every day you're seeing the violence and you're seeing people die.

S. O'BRIEN: Kyra Phillips for us this morning. She's in Baghdad.

Kyra, thanks.


M. O'BRIEN: Some new numbers out this morning about how Americans feel about the war. Two-thirds of you now oppose the war in Iraq. Only 32 percent favor it. When it all began four years ago today, more than 70 percent of Americans supported the invasion.

Coming up, the small state with a liberal bent that is paying a big burden in this war. It has lost the most soldiers per capita since the war began. We'll take you there.


S. O'BRIEN: Just in this morning, a deadly suicide bombing targeting the U.S. embassy convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan. It happened this morning on a highway leading to Bagram Air Base. According to an embassy spokesman, there are several injuries to report, including at least one American. Kabul police say at least three people died in that attack.


M. O'BRIEN: Now another developing story this morning. The search for a Boy Scout. Twelve-year-old Michael Auberry. He's been out in the cold since Saturday after he vanish on a camping trip in Doughton Park, North Carolina, near the Virginia state line. AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken is live in McGrady, North Carolina. He just returning from the search site.

Bob, what can you tell us about what's going on this morning?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's going on right now is it's sort of, they have a half effort going on right now. Because it is so dark, because there is no moon, they are not sending searchers anywhere but along the established trail. Don't want to take a chance on some injuries.

When daybreak come, they're going to increase the search again. The officials up there say that they're going to have 16 or 17 what they call missions involving about 130 people. That will include aircraft overhead with heat-seeking devices, that will including dogs, it will include people going through areas that are designed on a grid as they make a very methodical search and then search again looking for Michael Auberry.

He has been missing since Saturday, as you pointed out. He was a Boy Scout on a trip and he had stayed behind when the Scouts went out Saturday morning with the Scout leader. But they came back, they had lunch and then they discovered he was missing and that's when they called in the authorities.

Scout leaders say that he has had some training in how to handle himself in the woods. The temperature, you can see from the frost coming out of my mouth, is quite cold, but official are not giving up hope. They are saying, by the way, Miles, that there is no sign whatsoever of foul play, but they're conducting an investigation while they continue to conduct their search.


M. O'BRIEN: Bob Franken who's watching that search for us in North Carolina. Thank you.


S. O'BRIEN: The Justice Department is expected today to release documents request by Congress about the firings of those eight federal prosecutors. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is fighting for his job. Democrats claim the firings were politically motivated. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy says he wants testimony under oath from White House aides and could subpoena them this week.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I've reached the point where I'm not here to negotiate. I want the answers. They can either supply the answers voluntarily or we'll subpoena them. It's as simple as that.


S. O'BRIEN: CNN's Kathleen Koch now on the potential showdown that could happen this week.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A jam-packed week of developments ahead in the controversy over the firing of those eight U.S. attorneys. Today, the Justice Department is expected to turn over hundreds of pages of documents in the case to Congress. Also, lawmakers begin debating a measure in the Senate that would again require senators to confirm all new U.S. attorneys.

Tuesday, the White House is due to let lawmakers know whether or not it will allow top White House officials to testify publicly before Congress on the matter. White House and administration officials have told CNN that the administration is likely to fight that citing executive privilege.

Over the weekend, Democratic senators pointed out that the former chief of staff for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Kyle Sampson, has already agreed to testify. The senators say that if officials like political strategist Karl Rove and former White House council Harriet Miers refuse to testify, that come Thursday, senators will take a vote on issuing subpoenas to force them to appear.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, the White House.


M. O'BRIEN: In New York City today, the cops responsible for a deadly shooting that triggered a lot of outrage will learn what criminal charges they face. Groom-to-be Sean Bell was killed, his two friends wounded as they left a strip bar in Queens in November. Cops fired no less than 50 shots. The grand jury indictments will be unsealed in court later today. CNN's Jim Acosta is in New York with more.



Yes, later this morning the district attorney here in Queens will announce the charges against three New York City police detectives who shot and killed Sean Bell, the unarmed man who was out on his bachelor party just hours before he was supposed to get married. And lawyers for those detectives say they been instructed to have their clients surrender to authorities this morning.


ACOSTA, (voice over): The five undercover officers say as they tried to stop Sean Bell and his friends, Bell clipped one of the detectives with his car, triggering the gunfire. The barrage of 50 shots killed Bell and wounded his friends. The civil rights community said the police had once again lost its trust.

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: One day Nicole will have to tell this baby about her father, and have to tell Jada (ph) about her father.

ACOSTA: As for the officer, three of the accused, their lawyers say, were indict by a grand jury Friday. Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 times, pausing once to reload. Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper, who fired their weapons as well.

MICHAEL PALLADINO, DETECTIVES ENDOWMENT FUND: The message that's being sent by the indictments will have a chilling affect not only on New York City detectives and New York City police, but law enforcement throughout the country.

ACOSTA: The Queens district attorney won't announce exact charges until 11:00 Monday. Reverend Al Sharpton says the family will make its next move after the indictments come down.


ACOSTA: And two of the other officers involved in that confrontation with Sean Bell were not indicted.


M. O'BRIEN: Jim Acosta in New York City, thank you. Also happening this morning.

Jury selection today in the trial of music producer Phil Spector. He is accused in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson in his home four years ago now. Spector says he's not guilty. That it was an accidental suicide.

More apparent progress with the North Koreans as the U.S. works to steer the country away from nuclear weapons. The U.S. agreeing to release more than $25 million in North Korean funds that were frozen in a Macau bank. North Korea said it would now shut down its nuclear reactors until the money was released.

Dog and cat lovers, listen up. A major manufacturer is recalling 60 million containers of wet dog and cat food. No one's sure why, but the food is prompting kidney failure in several cats and dogs. At least 10 deaths reported. The food is sold under the store brands of Wal-Mart, Safeway and Kroger, as well as Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba. But the list is a lot longer than that. Go to to see if you have some tainted food before you feed your pet this morning.


S. O'BRIEN: U.S. Airlines is hoping to get back to near normal today after a weekend that was thrown out of wack by Friday's East Coast ice storms. Take a look at this live picture from Philadelphia International Airport. People are still trying to get on flights today. More than 3,600 flights were canceled nationwide from Friday to Saturday morning, stranded thousands of passengers. There were computer problems, airline staffing rules, of course, contributed to all the chaos. And then the passenger, forget about it, if you're trying to figure out where your luggage was.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe it's in Hartford. I don't know. It isn't here. So I think, I hope, it's gone on through there. But they've told me that I can't get a flight out until Tuesday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know where our luggage is. It could be -- it's either here in some cargo hold or it's in Hartford. They haven't even told us. Like they don't know. I don't think they know.


S. O'BRIEN: Yes, well here's where it could be -- Washington National Airport. Hundreds of bags just -- look at that.

M. O'BRIEN: Hey, that's my bag! Whoa! Hey, get that, will you?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it might be your bag. They're trying to figure out now how to reunite all these bags with the people who are sitting at some other airport looking for there lost luggage, which could be at Hartford or wherever. There's also similar piles like this in New York, in Philadelphia and other major cities. What a mess. M. O'BRIEN: Especially to be that guy in the white shirt. OK, let's start stacking them up. Very sorry. Good luck to you folks. A tough job.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, flying palace, a high altitude cattle car or white elephant? Whatever you call it, it's on its way for a visit. The AirBus A-380, largest airliner ever built, arriving in the U.S. today. A Lufthansa flight filled with passengers will land at New York's JFK Airport and a Qantas A-380 with just a flight crew, no passengers, will land at LAX. Lufthansa Flight 8940 has already left Frankfurt. The flight left at 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time. It is scheduled to land at JFK about 12:30 Eastern. The plane is carrying 519 passengers, mostly AirBus and Lufthansa employees, plus the media, plus 31 crew members. The maximum AirBus A-380 -- we did some math, Soledad, listen up. It burns 500 gallons of jet fuel every 80 miles. Now filled with passengers, that comes to about 85 miles per gallon per passenger. Eighty-five miles per gallon per passenger.

S. O'BRIEN: That's a lot of miles a lot of gallons.

M. O'BRIEN: Right. So 519 Prius' would do no better. And, plus, the wouldn't do so well in the Atlantic.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: There is that too.

S. O'BRIEN: That flying thing.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, a flying Prius.

S. O'BRIEN: Look at those Prius'.

M. O'BRIEN: The chitty, chitty bang, bang Prius is not out yet.

S. O'BRIEN: Don't work so well. Hmm.

Rain and snow in the Midwest to kick off your work week I'm sorry to tell you. Chad Myers, actually he's going to tell you. He's got the details coming up next.

And even one death can devastate and entire town. We're going to tell you the impact of war on our nation's rural communities. We'll take a closer look this morning.

Plus, did petty politics and greed get in the way of caring for the nation's wounded at Walter Reed? Some new documents might hold the answer to that question.

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


M. O'BRIEN: It's about quarter past the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center. He's watching spring again, take two for the Northeast. This time for keeps we want it, all right? Can we do that?


S. O'BRIEN: As the nation heads into its fifth year fighting the war in Iraq, we're learning that the nation's least populated states are paying the biggest price. Jason Carroll has a closer look for us this morning.

Good morning.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.

You know, you look at the list of U.S. war casualties and you see they come from just about every major city you can think of. But when you take a closer look, you see that rural communities are shouldering a heavier burden.


CARROLL, (voice over): Inside this rural Vermont home, Josh Johnson's boots are still where he left them more than year ago. His jeep still sits in the garage untouched.

CRYSTAL ROYEA, JOHNSON'S SISTER: Some days you think, wow, he's going to walk in, but in the back of your mind you know it's really not going to happen.

CARROLL: Johnson was killed by a rocket propelled grenade a year ago last January. He was 24.

LAURA ROYEA, JOHNSON'S MOTHER: If it wasn't for my other children, I couldn't -- I wouldn't have made it this far. I never would have -- I couldn't have handled it. I never would have -- I wouldn't be here. It's devastating.

CARROLL: The Johnsons' pain is felt by many other families in similar situations across rural communities in the United States. A recent study shows a disproportionate number of Iraq War casualties are from places like Johnson's hometown, Richford, Vermont. A farming community of roughly 2,200 people.

Bill O'Hare co-authored the study using statistics from the Department of Defense.

BILL O'HARE. CARSEY INSTITUTE: The death rate for rural soldiers is about 60 percent higher than the death rate for urban soldiers.

CARROLL: The study also shows of rural areas, the state of Vermont has the highest rate of casualties, followed by Delaware, South Dakota and Arizona.

The study found men and women from rural areas join the military looking for opportunities not found in their small communities. The same was true for Josh Johnson.

L. ROYEA: He wanted to make something with his life. And here in these little towns, there's nothing.

CARROLL: Vermont is a state known for its progressive stands on social issues. More than 30 small towns in this state passed resolutions calling on impeaching the president over the war.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: The war becomes very, very personal when in a small, rural state people start dying. Because you know what? Everybody, if you don't know the person, you know the family.

CARROLL: And the family's pain.

L. ROYEA: I miss just being with him here and his laugh. Seeing his smile.

CARROLL: So, for now, Josh Johnson's personal things remain where he left them.


CARROLL: The Johnsons told me Josh really liked to draw. They were thinking he might choose a profession that involved something like that. But again, they say that he saw the military as a better way out of Richford.

S. O'BRIEN: Did Josh's family support the war when he first joined? And he, obviously, hasn't been in for the whole four years, but has that changed since his death?

CARROLL: You know, that interesting. His mother supported Josh joining the military, supported the military effort in the beginning. Now she feels as though it's time for the soldiers to come home.

S. O'BRIEN: That's a tough, tough time for those families. All of those families. That is hard.

Jason, thank you.


M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Soledad.

America's mortgage meltdown. It's not just from real estate anymore. It doesn't stop just there. It's rippling all throughout the economy. Ali Velshi will bring you up-to-date on that, "Minding Your Business."

And a banner day at the (INAUDIBLE). When a high school kid unfurled this slogan, "bong hits for Jesus." He stirred up a first amendment holy war. We'll tell you how that's going to play out in a little bit. Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: Well, on the marquise, it was a basketball game, but it quickly started looking like hockey. You listening, Mike? And this morning, 21 teams are facing criminal charges after a melee at Madison Square Garden last night. It was a game between a couple of Brooklyn high schools. Apparently a little rivalry there. It spilled onto Eighth Avenue. The fist to cuffs continued all the way to Times Square. That's another eight blocks away at least. Police say at one point someone fired several gunshots into the air. No one seriously hurt, though.

S. O'BRIEN: That what quite a mess. I live right around there. A mess with the traffic.

M. O'BRIEN: Did you look out the window?

S. O'BRIEN: Well, not that close, thank goodness. What a mess, though, on the streets.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. But you're innocent? You had nothing to do with it, right? That's a good alibi, right?

S. O'BRIEN: (INAUDIBLE). Yes, what's it to you.

M. O'BRIEN: What's it to you.

S. O'BRIEN: And a little turmoil, too, in the mortgage industry. Hitting shoppers right in their credit cards. Twenty-five minutes past the hour. That means it's time for Ali Velshi who's "Minding Your Business."

Good morning.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, but nobody's shooting shots into the air on this one.

M. O'BRIEN: That's good.

VELSHI: The mortgage business. What's it going to do to people? A lot of people who are in the sub-prime market have already been hit. That means if you've got a low credit rating, low income, you may have felt some affect to your wait, and that means you're not spending.

But how far is this going to go? One analyst says it could start to move its way through some of the retailers. Wal-Mart and Target art typically the kinds of places that cater to a lot of the people who are in that sub-prime category, below 620 on the credit score.

Now Home Depot could also get hit, generally speaking, by mortgage and housing issues because, you know, it could go either way. People who don't have the money to buy a new house or don't want to sell their house might improve their house, or they might say, you know, things are getting tougher generally, so I'm not going to spend.

Now what we're going to be looking at this week when it comes to mortgage rates and housing is the Fed. We've got a few things going on in housing specifically. Today we're going to get the National Association of Home Builders Sentiment Index, we're going to get housing start reports tomorrow to tell us how many houses started to get built in February. And then later in the week, we're going to get existing home sales.

But the big thing that we're looking at this week is on Wednesday. It's the second day of a two-day Fed meeting. That's Ben Bernanke you're looking at. They're going to be meeting to talk about interest rates. For now, no one is thinking that's going to change.

We'll be having earnings from Oracle and Morgan Stanley. And right now we're looking at a stronger market opening. Asian markets have been strong overnight. And that's how we finished out the S&P last week, down about 1 percent but looking for an open that's going to be a little better than that this morning.


M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Ali. See you in a bit.

The top stories of the morning are coming up next.

The war in Iraq now in to year five as of today. With families divided, those who stayed in Iraq and those who fled. We'll take a closer look at this refugee crisis.

And a live report from the search for a missing Boy Scout in North Carolina.

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


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. It's Monday, March 19th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

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

S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin this morning with the search in the mountains of North Carolina.

Rescuers are out right now, looking for that little boy right there. He's 12 years old. He's a Boy Scout. And he has spent two freezing nights out in the elements.

M. O'BRIEN: Also ahead, a fight over free speech heads to the Supreme Court today, making for some strange bedfellows, religious conservatives lining up behind the boy who unfurled this banner.

"Bong hits for Jesus," it read.

And the controversy heats up in the case of those fired U.S. attorneys. More documents released today, and a big prediction that the attorney general could be out of a job this week.

S. O'BRIEN: The anniversary of the war in Iraq is today. The fifth year of fighting begins today. Polls out just this hour show that most Americans want the war to end. In Washington, D.C., the Bush administration says its new strategy is working in Iraq.

We've got two reports for you this morning. John King is embedded with U.S. forces in Iraq. Aneesh Raman is in Tehran for us this morning.

John, let's begin with you. John is with U.S. troops in Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad.

Four years and counting, what's the morale, John, of the troops that you've been talking to?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BALAD, IRAQ: Well, Soledad, it certainly depends on who you ask. There are some troops we've met over the past few days who are on their second, their third - there's even a rare fourth deployment of some troops.

Some of them aren't that happy about that. They wonder about will they have to do it again. They wonder why they have to be away from their families so long.

It's been interesting. Over the past few days, one of the things we've been seeing up closely is the urgent, intense effort to add armor to some of the humvees. That is a controversy that goes back, of course, to the beginning of the war, or the early days of the war and those soldiers.

You meet a military patrolman who is finally getting an uparmored humvee with the thick, ballistic glass and the armor all over that humvee, or a truck or a tanker truck.

We saw today this new technology they use to help the tanker trucks defend themselves against IED attacks. We talked to those soldiers and they're quite happy to be getting the latest upgraded equipment.

But there's no question about it. They're aware of the polls back home, Soledad.

Most of them say, though, they're here to do a mission. Some of them say they're beginning to see slow signs of progress, but it does depend on who you ask.

In private moments they certainly say, "this is deployment number three. I hope there's not a deployment number four." But most expect there will be.

S. O'BRIEN: I bet it'd be tough if you asked their families, as well. John King for us this morning. John, thanks - Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: More sectarian violence in Iraq already today. Six killed, another 32 hurt, after a bomb went off at a Shiite mosque. The civil war is driving many Iraqis to leave home, mainly to Syria or to Iran. What are the chances they'll be able to return home any time soon?

CNN's Aneesh Raman is in Tehran with more on that story - Aneesh.


That sectarian violence driving Iraqis out in droves. And among those in Iran, it's not the first time for some that they've fled Iraq.


RAMAN (voice-over): Four years ago, this not where Abu Ahmed (ph) wanted to be.

An Iraqi Shia by birth, a Persian by heritage, a mechanic by trade, he has his family were kicked out of Iraq by Saddam's regime in the early 1980s.

"Under Saddam," he tells me, "we had to suffer much oppression. He considered us Iranian, even though both my father and I were born in Iraq. And one day, we were told to leave."

And so, decades later, when the U.S.-led Iraq began and Saddam's regime fell soon after, Abu Ahmed (ph) saw a chance he never thought would come.

"I cried," he says, "and became very emotional - even numb - when I saw all the people celebrating. I left for Iraq the very next day."

But within a few months it was a war zone, not a home, that a Abu Ahmed (ph) had returned to. Iraqi Shia, including his relatives, were soon displaced or killed - a far cry from the Iraq he envisioned.

"There is more freedom for us now," he says, "than during Saddam. But soon there was no security. I couldn't stand it. People were being murdered. For daughter and wife's sake, I couldn't take it."

So, for a second time, he returned to Iran after a year in Iraq, joined by a growing number of Iraqi Shias, seeking short-term safety with, on average, two-month visas.

And still, they are afraid - most unwilling to talk on camera for fear, if they go back, they will be killed.


RAMAN (on camera): And Miles, among the refugees it's a problem emerging. Countries like Syria, like Egypt, are starting to toughen the laws allowing them in.

Iran lets them in, on average, with two-month visas. And among those I spoke to, the earliest, most optimistic prediction they have for when they could go back for good is a decade from now - Miles. M. O'BRIEN: So, are they setting up shop? I mean, do you get the sense that they're kind of hunkering down and accepting the fact that they're now going to be living there for quite some time? Or are they still hopeful they can return soon?

RAMAN: Hope is hard to find. As much as they can, they are hunkering down.

If they come in on two-month visas, if they stay beyond that, they risk not ever being let back.

I was in Cairo a few weeks ago. There I met a number of refugees who were simply letting the days go by, like those I met here in Iran.

They're not really getting jobs, because they're hopeful maybe they can go back. But they're just letting time pass, waiting for something to change.

But no one that I met said that they thought they could go back any time in the coming years. And they're just waiting it out as long as they have to, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: It's a terrible state of limbo.

Aneesh Raman in Tehran, thank you - Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: This morning a deadly suicide bombing targeting a U.S. embassy convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan. To tell you about it, it happened this morning on a highway leading to Bagram Air Base.

Now, according to a U.S. embassy spokesperson, several people have been hurt, including at least one American. Kabul police say at least three people have died in that attack.

M. O'BRIEN: The Justice Department expected to release more e- mail today, to shed some light on the firing of those U.S. attorneys. The documents requested by Congress looking into the role Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and White House aides had in the firings of eight federal prosecutors.

Democrats claim the firings were politically motivated. And Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Patrick Leahy, is pressing for testimony under oath from top aides to President Bush - including Karl Rove.

S. O'BRIEN: The case of the "Bong hits for Jesus" banner has landed in the Supreme Court this morning.

Joseph Frederick was suspended from high school in Juneau, Alaska, five years ago for displaying the banner at a school-sponsored event. He sued. He said it was a violation of his right to free speech.

Now, a lower court ruled against Frederick, but an appeals court, though, said, in fact, his rights had been violated. We're going to update you on this story straight ahead this morning. M. O'BRIEN: Developing story this morning. The search for a Boy Scout, 12-year-old Michael Auberry. He's been out in the cold since Saturday after vanishing on a camping trip.

It's all unfolding in Doughton Park, North Carolina. It's very near the Virginia state line.

AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken is live in McGrady, North Carolina, for us. He was just with some of the searchers.

Bob, are they relatively optimistic this morning?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, MCGRADY, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, they are just not going to be giving up at all.

We went up into the area, which is about seven miles from here. And Doughton State Park, by the way, as a point of reference, is not far from Stone Mountain.

In any case, we went up there, and they have a reduced force out in the dark. They're hampered by the fact that there is no moon, for instance.

So, all they're doing is staying to the established trails. When dawn comes, they're going to increase things and have about 130 people out there, and then airplanes with the heat-seeking devices, all of that.

As you can see, they clearly are not giving up hope.


DAVID WELDON, SEARCH COMMANDER: Any time you have cold temperatures, and you have somebody that's been out in the environment over this period of time, it definitely is a concern of ours.

FRANKEN (voice-over): Twelve-year-old Michael Auberry disappeared Saturday while on a camping trip with his Boy Scout troop in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Park rangers say the boy apparently wandered away from the group after lunch. Search crews have been combing rugged terrain.

WELDON: This is definitely wilderness. It makes it difficult to do searching, especially at night. We want to keep them on the main trails, because you've got drop-offs, and you've got laurel thickets that are hard to see at night.

FRANKEN: On Sunday, searchers found footprints that match the shoes that Michael was wearing. They also found his mess kit less than a mile away from the campsite.

With temperatures dropping into the 20s overnight, the search continued. Michael has been alone in the wilderness for more than 40 hours. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd be probably scared right now. I mean, being 12 years old in a woods that you don't know, and everything, and then getting dark. Yes, I'd probably be a little scared.


FRANKEN (on camera): One other matter. I talked to various police officials who say that they are conducting a thorough investigation, Miles. But so far they say they have found no signs of foul play.

M. O'BRIEN: Bob Franken in North Carolina, thank you - Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, a high school love triangle with a very tragic twist. A husband is now accused in the killing of his teacher-wife's teenaged lover.

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


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody, the most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

We've got breaking news out of Iraq this morning. At least six people are dead, 32 others injured, after a bombing that took place inside a Shiite mosque in Baghdad.

And US Airways is rolling out extra flights today. They're trying to get their service back on track after snowstorms stranded thousands of travelers over the weekend.

M. O'BRIEN: Politics now.

John McCain still on the straight-talk express, making no apologies for his unpopular stance on the Iraq war. McCain says he won't hide from the issue, and that he'll try to show Americans the war can be won.

McCain is supporting the president's troop increase in Iraq. He's in Philly tonight for fund-raiser.

MySpace is going political. The online social network is launching an all-politics site ahead of the 2008 elections. It'll feature links to profiles of 10 political candidates, Republicans and Democrats.

About 60 million people out there in MySpace land. A good place for a candidate to be, I guess. Good demos, too.


M. O'BRIEN: The most news in the morning is right here.

In Kabul this morning, at least one American hurt in a suicide bomb attacking the U.S. embassy, a convoy there. One of the SUVs burning there.

And more e-mails expected this morning from Justice Department officials over those fired U.S. attorneys. They could shed light on the role the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, and the White House chief staffers there - top staffers there - played in those dismissals - Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, of all the cases that we've heard about with female teachers having affairs with their male students, never has it taken this kind of tragic turn.

The husband is in jail this morning. He is charged with killing his wife's teenaged lover, who was also a student.

Here's CNN's Rick Sanchez.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was full of life. He loved writing poetry.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is yet another case of a female school teacher having a sexual affair with a male student. But unlike the Mary Kay Laturno (ph) case, or the Debra LaFave case, this one, police say, has ended in murder.

Eighteen-year-old Sean Powell was having an affair with his teacher, 30-year-old Erin McLean. That's according to Sean's mother.

DEBRA FLYNN, MOTHER OF SEAN POWELL: And he said, well, mom, it's my counselor at school, and I'm going out with her. And I said, Sean - he wouldn't talk about it.

SANCHEZ: Sean Powell was shot outside the couple's home just over a week ago.

According to police, the husband, Eric McLean, called them to report an intruder was at his home.

Minutes later, though, his wife also called police and told them that, in fact, he had shot her alleged teen lover, Sean Powell.

The husband, Jason Eric McLean, is charged with first degree murder. But his father says he's an excellent person, who was under a lot of pressure, because of his wife's affair.

NORMAN MCLEAN, FATHER OF JASON ERIC MCLEAN: And Eric loved his wife a lot. And he tried to stop it and save his marriage.

SANCHEZ: McLean is now awaiting a preliminary hearing on his case, scheduled for later this month.

Rick Sanchez, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEO) S. O'BRIEN: The boy's mother says that after her son was killed, she checked his cell phone. She says she found 13 text messages from the 30-year-old counselor saying things like, "Come home, baby," "I love you," "you're so beautiful."

A disturbing story there - Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: As the fifth year of the Iraq war begins, another casualty of the war - families torn apart because of the relentless violence. We'll tell you one family's sad tale on this, the fourth anniversary of the invasion.

And lost in the woods. An intense search is underway this morning for a missing Boy Scout in North Carolina.

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


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

The war in Iraq enters its fifth year today.

A new CNN opinion research poll shows that 32 percent of Americans support the mission. That's down 40 points since 2003.

And for the first time in 20 years, the Supreme Court is hearing a case on student free speech. And Alaska man says his right to free speech was violated when his principal suspended after he unfurled a banner that read "Bong hits for Jesus" at a school event.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Let's talk about US Airways.

US Airways kind of had a JetBlue moment over the weekend. And if you're watching at a terminal in Philly, we're sorry.

Ali Velshi is here "Minding Your Business" about five minutes before the top of the hour. How are they going to get themselves out of this one?

ALI VELSHI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're just trying to get a confirmation on how bad it was. As of last night, about 100,000 passengers were still stranded system-wide at US Airways.

A bunch of airlines, particularly those operating out of the northeast, had lots of problems, obviously, on Friday and Saturday. Those are weather-related problems.

JetBlue successfully canceled a lot of its flights, rather than have people waiting around. As you know, people were waiting around on other flights.

US Air seemed to get hit worse than others for a few reasons. One is, Philly was pretty busy, people thinking they could dodge other traffic in the middle east went to Philly.

That ice hit it, and they operate about 800 flights a day out of Philly. So, the system-wide problems at US Air started to become a problem.

And then you had full flights because of spring break, so they didn't have the capacity to move people around.

And then we've got isolated reports of continuing computer problems. You know, US Air - the old US Airways and America West computer systems were coming together a few weeks ago, and we know that caused problems.

We still had reports that people couldn't use the automated check-in systems or rebook their flights. So, we're trying to get a sense of how bad this is.

But we do know that, just because the weather cleared up on Saturday doesn't mean those airports were cleared up. And Philadelphia seems to be particularly badly hit.

M. O'BRIEN: And this is an old - it's been around for a few years. It took them a while to get the computers set.


M. O'BRIEN: You would think they would have figured out a good plan to make that ...

VELSHI: You would think so.

M. O'BRIEN: But that's not an easy thing to do, obviously.

VELSHI: Yes. And it's these two reservation systems. So, we're still trying to figure this out, because most people still check in automatically. And when those kiosks don't work, that's when you get major backlogs. You don't have the staff to handle it.

M. O'BRIEN: It's a bad thing. You get that blue screen that's out there. You don't want that.

VELSHI: Yes, that's right.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, Ali. See you in a bit.

Some of the other stories we're watching for you this morning,'s most popular stories right now? It's a car that looks like a fish. Can you see it there on the left part of your screen?

It's Mercedes-Benz' new concept car. It's so adorable, but so un-Mercedes-like, isn't it? It's called ...

S. O'BRIEN: It's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) attractive - I'm sorry.

M. O'BRIEN: What?

S. O'BRIEN: It's not attractive.

M. O'BRIEN: That would be another way of saying, it's just plain old ugly.

But anyway, the company based its design around the tropical box fish, which apparently is very slick. It has a good co-efficient of drag, as they say - C.D.

The idea was to do just that. The car gets 84 miles to the gallon, supposedly. Although it's likely because it's a concept car. You're never going to have an opportunity to buy this thing. We just wanted you to see it. So, go to, if you want to look at a car that probably will never get produced, but, you know, that's what they do with concept cars a lot.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, that's all right. It's just not attractive.

Sydney, Australia - take a look at this. Half a million people flooded into the city's harbor area this weekend, part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the landmark Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Let's see the bridge, shall we? Two hundred thousand people took part in a walk across the bridge. That's a celebration.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, there's a little bit of the bridge under the banner. There's the bridge.

S. O'BRIEN: Biplanes, helicopters - there's a beautiful shot of the bridge - all flew over the harbor. The Australia Forestry and Mining Union unveiled a memorial to some of the workers who were killed during the construction of the bridge.

Sixteen people died while they were making it. It took nine years to build and it opened in 1932.

If you want to see more of the stories and some of the videos that everybody is talking about on, just sign up for the daily Top 10 e-mail. Go to


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