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AMERICAN MORNING

Body Found in Iraq: Awaiting U.S. Military Briefing; Bin Laden Iraq Plans?

Aired May 23, 2007 - 06:58   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Breaking news. A body found in the Euphrates River. Is it one of the missing soldiers in Iraq?

Terror secrets. President Bush to unveil intelligence about Osama bin Laden's plans to attack America from Iraq.

Plus, why you're paying more for food. Problems on the farm hitting your breakfast table on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: And good morning to you. It's Wednesday, May the 23rd.

I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry.

Glad you're with us.

(NEWSBREAK)

ROBERTS: Let's get right to the breaking news from Iraq this morning. CNN's Baghdad bureau chief, Cal Perry, joins us now live.

Cal, what's the latest on this? And are we expecting to hear any more from the military in the next few minutes?

CAL PERRY, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Well, we are hoping to, John.

What we understand is, of course, there is a weekly briefing given by General Caldwell every week here in Baghdad. That should happen perhaps in a matter of minutes. What we know so far is a bit of information from the Iraqi sources, a bit of information from U.S. sources.

First, U.S. sources telling us they have found a body recovered from a canal near Yusufiya. Now, they're not saying what Iraqi sources are saying, which is that this body was wearing the pants that are consistent with U.S. military uniforms. There is somebody en route, we understand, from the U.S. military down to that site to get eyes on that corpse to try to identify that body. All of this, of course, relating to the search for those three missing U.S. soldiers who were part of that attack on May the 12th. We need to be, of course, very careful, John, before we confirm the identity of that body.

The U.S. military wants to be absolutely 100 percent sure on that identification regardless of whether or not this is one of the U.S. missing troops. The search they say will continue. Some 4,000 U.S. troops continuing the search down in that area -- John.

ROBERTS: In terms of being 100 percent clear and certain, Cal, as to the identity of that body, will they be able to make a visual identification, or will they have to rely on DNA testing for that?

PERRY: It's unclear at this point. We've heard from Iraqi sources -- in fact, the spokesman for the police in Hillah has told us that the body was found with two gunshot wounds, one to the head, one to the torso. It's unclear at this point the exact condition of the body, so we'll have to wait and see whether or not they can get eyes- on confirmation as to the identity of this soldier, or whether, as you said, they'll need to do forensic testing.

ROBERTS: And give us a bit of the lay of the land here, Cal. Where did the attack take place and where was the body actually found in relation to that initial attack?

PERRY: The attack took place in the town of Yusufiya, which is south of Baghdad. It's known as the Triangle of Death.

It's a very, very dangerous area. It's an al Qaeda stronghold. It's basically an area that is based on a series of canals, a Wadi (ph) system that funnels in to the Euphrates River.

The body itself was found about 18 miles from the actual spot of the attack. It has been an extensive search and a very difficult one. Again, with these canals in the thick brush, there are many places for insurgents to hide.

We've heard stories from Arwa Damon, who's embedded with the unit, about the difficulty they're having in searching this area. So it is an extensive search, it's an exhausting search. But again, when you speak to U.S. troops, they'll tell you, regardless of the conditions, no matter how tired they are, they will not stop until they've recovered the bodies of these troops.

ROBERTS: All right. Cal Perry, our Baghdad bureau chief with that.

Cal, I know that you want to go watch Major General Caldwell's briefing. So we'll let you get to that and we'll get back to you a little bit later on this hour.

Thanks.

CHETRY: CNN's Arwa Damon is with the troops that were searching in the so-called Triangle of Death, about 25 miles south of Baghdad. And Arwa, we understand, talking to Cal as well, that a representative from the unit you're with is now being sent to Baghdad to help with that I.D. process.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, actually, the representative from the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment is being sent to Iskandaria. That is some 18 miles south of here, very close to where the body was found.

In fact, just about everyone here now waiting to hear back from that individual, trying to confirm whether or not that body is, in fact, the body of their missing men. The mood here right now, Kiran, very glum. Everyone very depressed, waiting.

One soldier I spoke to saying that he was hoping for some sort of closure to this entire story, but that they had all really been clinging to a certain element of hope that they would be able to find all three of their kidnapped soldiers alive. The troops here have been conducting relentless missions, oftentimes double, if not triple, the missions that they normally run, that they would running under normal circumstances out here in the blazing sun, patrolling for hours, sweating, literally to find what they are calling their brothers, these individuals, these soldiers whom they view as family. But everyone here right now, Kiran, very much on edge, waiting for word from that representative.

CHETRY: Arwa Damon live for us in Yusufiya.

Thank you.

ROBERTS: Did Osama bin Laden personally order the creation of a terror cell in Iraq with the sole purpose of attacking the United States? President Bush will make that claim later on today in a speech. He's expected to present newly declassified intelligence linking bin Laden to the former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Suzanne Malveaux is live at the White House.

Suzanne, what's the reason that he's declassifying part of this and trotting it out in his speech? The information is two years old.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you're absolutely right here. I mean, this is all about the president using any kind of power that he has to make his case to justify the Iraq war.

It's under tremendous pressure and criticism to pull out U.S. troops. But the president has this unique power to declassify information, so yesterday he did just that.

What he's going to do is present this case at a commencement speech before the U.S. Coast Guard Academy later today. He's going to outline this plot, 2005, saying that Osama bin Laden and a top lieutenant, Abu Faraj al-Libbi (ph), planned to former a terror cell inside of Iraq in which to launch attacks against the United States and other countries.

We have heard this general story before, John, but the specifics we have not heard, and those details being released in the hopes, the administration thinks, to convince the American people that there will be a power vacuum if U.S. troops pull out of Iraq too quickly -- John.

ROBERTS: Now, Suzanne, we've seen this before. As you said, that the president selectively declassifies this information. People are rather skeptical about it because they remember one of the big declassifications was -- which was that national intelligence estimate back in 2002, which didn't turn out so well for the White House.

MALVEAUX: Well, you're absolutely right, because, I mean, it really is an act of faith here. We don't know, viewers don't know, really, the full body of intelligence here. Just a select group of people in the administration know, including the president here.

So, yes, critics have pointed out to the fact that, look, you know, the whole thing with weapons of mass destruction, selective declassification, all of it turned out to be wrong. So, you know, we'll have to wait and see on that.

The one thing that the Bush administration does say is they declassified this because they don't believe it's going to be detrimental to those troops, as well as to intelligence who are out there, because many of the players in this plot are dead -- John.

ROBERTS: Well, we'll be watching for the speech later on today at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Suzanne, thanks very much.

And there's a new tape said to be from bin Laden's right-hand man. In it, Ayman al-Zawahiri praises a Taliban leader killed in Afghanistan. It says hundreds of his followers are prepared and equipped to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan.

(NEWSBREAK_

CHETRY: We're going to go live to Baghdad here, because Major General William Caldwell, the spokesman of all multinational forces in Iraq, is giving his daily briefing. Let's see if he has something to say about this soldier that was found.

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: We will first notify the families of the results of that identification process. We are making every effort we can to ensure that the families of our soldiers are the first to receive accurate information. We all would expect, I believe, nothing less. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

When we have news that we can share, and after we have shared it with these families, then we will share it with your audiences.

To our broader mission here in Iraq, our commitment to help Iraq's government secure progress and provide hope for its people is strong and clear. But the future is in the hands of the Iraqi people. They are ultimately responsible for their own security, their own governance and their own prosperity.

ROBERTS: Whoa. We've lost the signal there, but you heard Major General William Caldwell talking briefly about the body that was found in the canal south of Yusufiya, near the town of Iskandaria, saying that the family of whoever that serviceman may be, if, in fact, is a U.S. soldier, will be notified first before any public identification is made.

We'll take a short break. Ten minutes after the hour. We'll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

ROBERTS: Seventeen minutes now after the hour.

Could the White House be bending a bit on Iraq? Nearly six months after the Iraq Study Group report got a tepid response, the administration may be giving some of its recommendations a second look. Among them, benchmarks for the Iraqi government and talks with Iran and Syria were both strongly urged in the report, both of which the U.S. is now engaging in.

Are we seeing a change?

Lee Hamilton, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group with James Baker, he joins me now from Washington.

Good morning to you, Congressman. Good to see you.

LEE HAMILTON, CO-CHAIR, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: Thank you. Good morning.

ROBERTS: I want to talk about the study group in just a second, but first of all, let me ask you about the war spending bill that's going through Congress right now, because you've negotiated so many bills in Congress. Did the Democrats, as some people have said, fold up like a cheap suitcase on this?

HAMILTON: Oh, I think it's pretty obvious from the beginning that the president was not going to accept rigid guidelines, timetables, possibly would accept a target date, but not rigid timetables. So the Democrats, I think, are just accepting the reality that's been quite obvious for some time.

ROBERTS: Some presidential candidates like John Edwards have suggested -- and Russ Feingold as well -- that -- a little bit different on Feingold's front -- that you just keep on giving the president the same bill again and again and again until he's finally forced to sign it.

Would that have been a good strategy?

HAMILTON: Well, I don't know what the end result of that would be. You cannot just cut the funds off, and that might be the result of such a strategy.

I think what you're seeing here is a very painful, kind of a messy process over a period of months, not just a supplemental, but other legislation as well, in which the president and the Congress are beginning -- beginning to draw together. Most obvious on the benchmark provision here which you referred to a moment ago.

The president, for example, is accepting a mild kind of conditionality to the aid to the Iraqi government. That was one of our recommendations in the Iraq Study Group. So, you're seeing some movement, not only on the congressional side, but the White House side, as well.

ROBERTS: Right.

HAMILTON: And I think it's important, because you're not going to really succeed here unless you have unity of effort in this government on this very, very tough problem of Iraq.

ROBERTS: Congressman Hamilton, this idea of the White House now accepting the idea of benchmarks, also talking with Syria, about to talk with Iran, as you mentioned, both of those were recommendations from the Iraq Study Group, which the White House had given a tepid, at best, response to.

Do you feel vindicated?

HAMILTON: Oh, I don't look at it as a win-lose situation. I think we have to struggle together to put together a policy.

The third major recommendation we made the president will eventually have to accept. And that recommendation is that the primary mission of U.S. forces be the training of Iraqis. The primary mission today, obviously, is the surge.

We're not going to get out of Iraq unless we turn this primary -- to the primary mission being training of Iraqi forces. So, that will happen. It's just a matter of time.

We have been at that function for several years. We haven't done all that good of job at it. We've improved recently. We're going to have to get better at it because it's going to be the means by which we eventually get out of Iraq.

ROBERTS: As time drags on, if there is not substantial progress in Iraq, particularly if General David Petraeus doesn't report substantial progress, do you think that the recommendations in your study group report are going to become the framework for new U.S. policy, that they will garner more support on a bipartisan basis?

HAMILTON: I think it's beginning to appear that they will. There's a very strong desire to have a bipartisan policy. We did put forward a bipartisan policy. And therefore, it has a lot of attraction.

Many, many things, of course, can still happen on the ground and otherwise that would deflect it, but as of today, things are clearly moving in the direction of our recommendations. And I look upon that as positive, of course, as would all members of the study group.

ROBERTS: Congressman Hamilton, you are the head of the Woodrow Wilson Center, and your scholar, the head of your Middle East program there, Haleh Esfandiari, has been held in Iran for the last four months.

She was put in jail a couple weeks ago. She has now been charged with trying to overthrow the government.

You are personally involved in trying to win her release. Where does her case stand? And do you think that you can get the Iranian government to let her go?

HAMILTON: We don't know. We're just trying ever lever we can possibly find.

Haleh Esfandiari is a scholar, she represents the very best of the dialogue of democracy. She wants all point of view discussed, defended, advocated. She has no connection of any kind with any effort to overthrow or to undermine the Iranian government.

The Iranian government is trying to make this very distinguished scholar into a spy. And it is quite an outrageous move on their part.

We're doing everything we know how to do, but, you don't know where the power setters are in that country. We don't know who to talk to. We don't know who makes the decisions.

We have had no discussions or dialogues with the Iranian government now for almost two generations. And so, we know very little about what's happening inside Iran. We speculate all over the place, but we don't really know.

So, what we're trying to do in the Wilson Center is to hit all the bases. We don't know what will work, but we're trying them all because we desperately want Haleh Esfandiari to come back home to her family, her husband, and her job.

ROBERTS: Well, we wish you luck in that pursuit.

Congressman Lee Hamilton, head of the Woodrow Wilson Center down there in Washington.

Thanks for talking with us.

HAMILTON: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Coming up, Google wants to know more about you. The company says it wants to organize your daily life. How are they planning to do it? We'll tell you. And help wanted. As the immigration debate plays out, farmers say they're in a pinch. How that could affect you at the grocery store.

Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Do you go to Google for just about everything? I know a lot of us do.

Well, now Google is planning to really take over our lives. They collect so much information on users that they think down the road you would be able to ask Google questions like, "What should I do tomorrow?" Or "What job should I take?" And they would be able to answer that.

Google's goal is to know so much about each of us that they can tailor advertising, of course, to our specific interests.

What company's goal is not that, Carrie Lee, correct?

CARRIE LEE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and they just seem to be seeping into every aspect, over the past couple of years. So, who knows, maybe they'll get away with this.

CHETRY: This one is on Google Earth constantly -- he's always looking at buildings in real-time.

LEE: It's true, though, when you have a conversation with somebody and you have a question, Oh, well, let's google it. And you can just do it right there. I do it all the time.

(BUSINESS REPORT)

CHETRY: Well, the top stories of the morning coming up next.

Breaking news out of Iraq. The news that a body found could be one of three missing soldiers. The U.S. military right now saying it is working to confirm the identification. And we will bring you an update on that.

Also, how could a crackdown on illegal immigrants end up costing you more at the supermarket?

We're going to talk about that.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning, welcome back. It is Wednesday, May 23rd. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: And I'm John Roberts. Thanks very much for joining us. We've got some breaking news that we're following this morning from Iraq. One of the missing American soldiers may have been found. A body was pulled from the Euphrates River this morning. Iraqis say it is a western man with a tattoo and wearing U.S. military pants. The military is currently working on identifying the body. Major General William Caldwell held a news briefing just a few moments ago and addressed the possibility it could be an American soldier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATL FORCE: We'll work diligently to determine if he is, in fact, one of our missing soldiers. We have not made any identification yet. If appropriate, we will first notify the families of the results of that identification process. We are making every effort we can to ensure that the families of our soldiers are the first to receive accurate information. We all would expect, I believe, nothing less.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Our Arwa Damon has been embedded with the unit that is frantically searching for the three missing soldiers. One of the commanders from her unit has been sent down to the town of Iskandaria to try to make a positive identification of the body. We'll check back in with Arwa a little bit later on this morning and see is she's found anything out.

Did Osama bin Laden personally order the creation of a terror cell in Iraq to launch attacks against the United States? That's the claim that President Bush will make later on today in a speech at the Coast Guard academy. The new information had been hidden away in a secret intelligence report for two years. It claims that bin Laden wanted to use Iraq as a launch pad for attacks in the United States and ordered a top lieutenant Abu Faraz al Libbi (ph) to set up a cell dedicated to that purpose. Libbi was captured in 2005.

Democrats in Congress are delivering on one promise and backing down from another. They will deliver a war funding bill to President Bush by this weekend and will not include timetables for troops to get out of Iraq. It outlines political and economic benchmarks that the Iraqi government must meet to keep U.S. aid flowing. President Bush would be required to make at least 18 different progress reports before August.

CHETRY: One of Karl Rove's closest aides may end up testifying against him. His former executive assistant is looking for immunity in return for testimony about Rove's relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Susan Ralston (ph) told the House oversight committee that she has information linking the disgraced lobbyist to White House officials. In an interesting twist, Ralston worked as Abramoff's assistant as well for three years before going to work for Rove.

We will finally hear from the power player behind the scenes in the Justice Department's scandal surrounding the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Her name, Monica Goodling. Alberto Gonzales' White House liaison, she will break her silence about the scandal that could bring down her former boss. She is expected to receive immunity for testifying before the House Judiciary Committee today. So exactly who is this 33-year-old former law student? Court TV's Savannah Guthrie joins us now from Washington with more and it's fascinating when you take a look. She was a 33-year-old aide to Gonzales, Savannah, relatively inexperienced who according to sources, was given broad power and autonomy in deciding the fate of seasoned Justice Department lawyers and it's being described as highly irregular, Savannah.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV: This is really interesting. We're going to get the first good look at Monica Goodling, one of the most intriguing figures in this whole U.S. attorney scandal and as you said Kiran, this is somebody who reportedly was given broad authority and latitude over hiring and firing decisions inside the Justice Department. What will that say about her boss, Alberto Gonzales? Of course it's one thing to delegate, but the important question is, who do you delegate such authority to? So we'll have to see if she comes off today as very confident or somebody who may have been in over her head.

CHETRY: And how effective does it make Gonzalez look when you're talking about her being able to make these decisions and people who that have been a career in the Justice Department having to go through her to get things done or to get approval to hire.

GUTHRIE: Well, exactly. I mean, as recently as today, there's a story in the "Washington Post" talking about how she really had authority to nix the dismissal of one prosecutor and block hirings of other prosecutors and this is pretty unusual for somebody who wasn't terribly experienced in terms of being a prosecutor. I think it will be really interesting to see her testimony today. She's got two issues before her, certainly what her role is in this U.S. attorney scandal, but, also, did she improperly use politics in making some of these important high-end decisions.

CHETRY: And that's what I want to ask you about. There are e- mails and other documents that are going to be showing Goodling who was as we said, the Justice liaison at the White House played an essential role in arranging for the appointment of one person, in particular, Tim Griffith, a former RNC official and an aide to presidential adviser Karl Rove as the U.S. attorney in Little Rock. So, how much will that testimony and some of this evidence bolster the case that these firings could have been politically motivated?

GUTHRIE: Obviously, the Democrats are hoping this will help them make their case. She is the one person who's remained silent this whole time. She absolutely was in the thick of it making some of these key decisions and you better believe she's going to be asked about a whole range of these things. It's not just what does she know about the firings. How did these eight or maybe nine U.S. attorneys end up on this list, but also talking about the hirings of career people where politics isn't supposed to enter into it at all. There's an internal investigation into her within the Justice Department and she may be asked about that today. If she's asked, she has to answer because she has court ordered immunity.

CHETRY: She does and that's interesting, because apparently she was sobbing in the office of somebody shortly before her resignation for 30 to 45 minutes. It'll be interesting to see what her demeanor is and what kind of witness she is. We'll check back in with you after you have a chance to check it out all well. Savannah Guthrie from Court TV, thanks.

GUTHRIE: You bet.

ROBERTS: The Senate will begin debate on the proposed immigration reform. A key component in the debate over the bill will center on employers who might be hurt if many of their workers have to leave the country or if they have to pay higher wages to replace them. As Congress debates the fate of the immigration reform bill, the California farming industry says it is already being affected by the crackdowns which have left employers and fruit hanging. AMERICAN MORNING's Chris Lawrence is in Santa Paula (ph), California. He's got more. How bad is the situation?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, John, you talk to the farmers, pretty bad. I talked to one farmer who told me he needed about 250 workers on a given day. He came up short by nearly 100 men. And some of these crops are perishable, which means farmers only get one crack at picking them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): California's cherries are blushing red.

BRUCE FRY, RANCHER: These are. That's ready.

LAWRENCE: But Bruce Fry worries whether enough workers will show up to pick them.

FRY: And you get half the crew, you get half the cherries.

LAWRENCE: California harvests about half the nation's fruits and vegetables. Every summer farmers need half a million workers to pick those crops, but the crackdown on illegal immigrants is keeping workers out of their fields leaving unpicked fruit left to rot.

HENRY VEGA, FARM LABOR CONTRACTOR: They're definitely worried about being raided and deported.

LAWRENCE: Henry Vega not only grows his own crops, he contracts out labor to other farmers, as well.

VEGA: We're really, really behind the eight ball right now because we're so short of workers.

LAWRENCE: Vega says a lot of illegal immigrants left agriculture during the real estate boom. Now they've moved on to better paying construction jobs in places like Nevada. Critics say farmers themselves are to blame because they become so dependent on cheap labor.

JACK MARTIN: It is like an addiction. LAWRENCE: Jack Martin's group is a leading opponent of an immigration bill that would let more than a million illegal farm workers stay in the country. The Senate's proposal addresses the worker shortage, but Martin says it's ripe for cheaters.

MARTIN: You have all sorts of people claiming to have been working in agriculture and they will have pieces of paper that will show that, but, in fact, it will simply be taking advantage of our gullibility.

LAWRENCE: Meantime, help wanted signs are going up for the summer harvest.

VEGA: We can grow good fruit. You can put plenty of water and fertilizer, but when you don't have the labor, it just breaks your heart.

LAWRENCE: When I asked one farmer, why can't you just pay these workers more money? He said, well, we'd have to pass the cost on to the consumer and he said, honestly, he doesn't think that people are going to pay more for a California strawberry as opposed to one that is just as good and coming from Argentina. He said countries like that in South America can already ship their products a lot cheaper than he can here in California. Critics say there shouldn't be jobs here in the United States that American workers aren't prepared to do. John.

ROBERTS: Criticisms from all sides over this immigration bill. Chris Lawrence for us in Santa Paula, California, Chris, thanks very much.

CHETRY: Some other stories we're following this morning. A new birth control pill approved by the Food and Drug Administration as we reported earlier this week, Lybrel is taken every day and it actually stops a woman from getting a monthly period.

There's also new concern about an extreme sport. It's catching on in these videos on youtube. It's called helmet boxing. The kids are doing this in their backyards, taping it and then uploading it on to the Internet and, apparently, its popularity is growing. We're going to talk more about it coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Forty two minutes after the hour, a new so-called sport popular among teenagers is definitely not child's play. It's called helmet boxing. Kids strap on hockey helmets or lacrosse helmets or what have you and then they try to beat each other to a pulp. The videos are turning up on youtube. But the participants risk serious injury. We're paging Dr. Gupta for more on that. Sanjay joins us now from Atlanta. Sanjay, you've done so many stories about traumatic brain injury that these soldiers are suffering in Iraq and they're wearing helmets that are far more protective than what these kids are doing. Are these kids risking the same thing?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The first thing, you look at this video here and you think these are just kids sort of goofing around. We looked at some of those video, this is pretty serious stuff John, just taking a look at that unsupervised kids oftentimes hitting each other, pounding on each other until one of them is actually knocked out, unsupervised, videotaping it, probably for bragging rights as you mentioned. putting it on youtube.

A couple of things here, when you get an injury like this, when you actually repeatedly hitting the head over and over again. I want to show you an animation of what's actually happening to the brain. This is important to take a look at. You think of the brain sort of as this fluid medium and it jostles back and forth in the head and this goes back and forth. Oftentimes part of the brain can become inflamed, can become swollen, can become angry and that is the biggest concern. That could lead to memory problems, headaches later on down the line. With kids, part of it, they have these very plastic brains. They adapt very easily, that could be good news. They can be more resilient but the bad news is they're learning during this time as well and you're having these repeated blows to the brain at a very critical time in brain development. So this is bad news. Again, look at that, John, this is no goofing around, this is pretty serious stuff.

ROBERTS: We should say, Sanjay, that you really know what you're talking about here because you are a neurosurgeon. Do these helmets offer any protection and if these kids really are fighting until they get knocked out, what is the process that actually makes them go unconscious? What is happening to the brain to do that?

GUPTA: It's interesting. We've learned about concussions and unconsciousness with regards to sports injuries over the years. Here's a couple of things to keep in mind. One is that a concussion is obviously a bad thing, but a second concussion after that, soon after that is exponentially worse. So getting two in a row is a very bad thing which is why we oftentimes keep players off the field after a first concussion. Also, while the helmet may offer some protection against the overall blow to the head, oftentimes it's that rotational injury, rotational injury of the head actually moving around that can actually both cause unconsciousness and be the most serious. So, you know, you got these gloves on so the kids aren't really feeling the head when they're pounding on it and they could really deliver a lot of force because of that. But those second concussions, that rotational force, those are the real big caveats and concerns here.

ROBERTS: Parent be aware of that. Keep an eye out for what your kids are doing. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks. Sanjay by the way is going to be back in our next hour to talk about this bubonic plague outbreak at the Denver zoo. We're also taking your questions, go to cnn.com/americanmorning. Sanjay will answer your e-mails tomorrow, as he does every Thursday on AMERICAN MORNING.

CHETRY: It's about 15 minutes now at the top of the hour and Chad Myers joins us right now. We're looking ahead to possibly some more severe weather today.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Six tornadoes yesterday, most of them in western Kansas. We'll have more than that today. We had tennis ball-sized hail and I know golf balls getting routine now, well, tennis ball size hail is falling out of some of these storms. Here are the storm chasers out there. I'll tell you what, I know storm chasing sounds fun and exciting and all that, but it is dangerous. If you're not hooked up to a TV station or directly to the National Weather Service, do not try to go out there with a NOAA weather radio and a car. That does not make you a storm chaser. That's going to make you a victim. So stay away from -- these guys are professionals. They know what they're doing and in fact they shouldn't even be this close to the hail core (ph). I lived in Oklahoma, worked in Oklahoma City a long time and you shouldn't be doing this.

Here's what we have going on for today. The threat of severe weather and it's a big area all the way from Omaha right on down to Amarillo, east coast good, west coast good. In the middle of the country, you're in the gun, you're there, you're right in the middle of where we call a moderate risk of severe weather. That is the second category. There are three categories: slight, moderate high. High means look out, it's all really going down hill from here. In that pink area, I know it's kind of a sparsely populated area, but Wichita, you fall in there, Gage (ph) even up to Osage County in Oklahoma, you have a 10 percent chance of seeing a tornado within 25 miles of your house. Now If I had a lottery ticket and I knew I would get a 10 percent chance of it, I would probably buy it. So you guys need to go out and buy one of those NOAA weather radios today if you don't have one already. It's severe weather season in full bloom for sure.

CHETRY: Good advice Chad, thanks so much.

Coming up, we ask the question, what can brown do for the environment? UPS making a special delivery to four major cities. It's so cool when they tell us how they got these trucks to run using hybrids and really, really creative ways to reduce greenhouse gases and save money on gas. We're going to talk more about it coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. You know, yesterday we told you about New York taxi cabs going hybrid, all 13,000 of them I think by the year 2012. Well, today we're talking about how brown is turning green, UPS adding 50 hybrid trucks to its fleet in four major cities. Robert Hall is the director of the ground fleet engineering for UPS and he joins us this morning from company headquarters, Sandy Springs, Georgia. Robert, good to have you with us.

ROBERT HALL, UPS: Good morning.

CHETRY: Well, 50 trucks, it may not sound like much right now but doing some of the reading it's astounding at how much you' guys are saving, 44,000 gallons of gasoline over the course of a year as well as reducing tons of CO2 gases. We were wondering, how do you get these trucks to work hybrid? They have so much wear and tear and you're doing so much stop and go, how does it work?

HALL: Actually what we've done here with this hybrid electric technology is we have a small, diesel engine that basically is supplemented by a battery pack, a motor generator and a power control system and what the last three components actually do is they supplement a small diesel engine and add power to the power train and that's where we get our fuel economy and we lower emissions in this heavy stop and go application where we use our delivery vans.

CHETRY: So, the technology actually has it regenerating the electricity while the driver is either stopped or driving.

HALL: That is correct. It is equipped with a regenerative braking system and every time we stop the vehicle, we actually add electric power back to the battery.

CHETRY: That's pretty cool. That's really neat when I read that. Now cost wise, is this working for you or at this point is it still pretty expensive?

HALL: Well, it's still very expensive at this point. This culminates nine years of development for us. We're very, very happy with the technology and the results that we get from it, but we do need to improve the cost of it and certainly make it more viable for other fleets.

CHETRY: You're talking about some of the performance you've gotten, a lot of them reporting back to you in the various cities saying that your fuel efficiency improved by 45 percent, so that's pretty incredible. You also want to try to get your competitors going hybrid, as well. Explain that.

HALL: Yes. We need certainly other commercial fleets to adopt the technology because as the volumes grow, certainly our suppliers will be able to produce the technology cheaper and it will make it more cost effective for all fleets.

CHETRY: Where do you see yourselves, what year or what are you looking toward in terms of going all hybrid with your fleet?

HALL: I'm not sure that we would say we would go all hybrid at any point in time, but certainly over the next five to seven years, we will be expanding our alternative fuels that we use and the different alternative fuel technologies that we adopt. Again, in essence, to lower fossil fuels and fossil fuel consumption.

CHETRY: Well, you guys are a success story so far, at least in terms of what you've been able to do with the 50 that you have on the road. Good luck in the future. Robert Hall, director of the ground fleet engineering for UPS.

HALL: Thank you for having me this morning.

ROBERTS: Fifty four minutes after the hour. Coming up, the long, hot, dry summer and it's not even summer yet, the forecast for a dangerously dry season.

Plus, the new director of the National Hurricane Service joins us and how many storms will we see this year, how intense will they be, why is he already sounding the alarm? You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Fifty seven minutes after the hour. Carrie Lee here "Minding Your Business" this morning and somebody going after yet another niche market.

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, niche markets for advertising, retailing. This is the way a lot of businesses are going and this is the idea behind a new deal, including Foot Locker and Nike. The two coming together to start in early next year with a group of specialty stores and they're going to be called House of Hoops by Foot Locker. Now, the first location is going to be uptown here in New York's Harlem and the idea is to sell only Nike products in Foot Locker stores. The concept a little bit higher end than the way Foot Locker sells right now, only Nike products, including Jordan and Converse.

And this is obviously a good deal for Nike because it cuts out the competition, also good for Foot Locker because this changes and expands its image a bit. Nike products represent more than half of Foot Locker sales. Now, Nike has said that it also plans to focus on six categories going forward, including basketball, running, soccer and others, so this could just be a prototype for maybe specializing and expanding into other sports, as well. Here's an interesting stat, John and Kiran, basketball shoe sales have dropped 10 percent this year. A young urban male, though, still buys new athletic shoes every six weeks so a lot of potential customers here. A lot of these shoes they're buying are maybe lower priced than they were in year's past but still, every six weeks is a lot of business.

CHETRY: It really is, a lot of running too or basketball playing Carrie.

LEE: One other shoe deal, quickly. Payless buying Stride Rite for $800 million. I'm telling you this because Stride Rite shares gained over 30 percent after this deal was announced so that could be a big winner today and when the market opens and also stocks looking set to open higher across the board. So we could see maybe new Dow and S&P records today because they're both very close to their all- time highs.

ROBERTS: Just not ready to stop.

LEE: Going strong.

CHETRY: Thanks, Carrie.

Coming up the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

ROBERTS: Breaking news, a body found in the Euphrates River. Is it one of the missing soldiers in Iraq?

Target America, new tapes, newly revealed secrets. President Bush said to unveil intelligence about Osama bin laden and his plans to launch attacks from Iraq. A nation of extremes, hail and funnel clouds in the heartland, wildfires and drought in the south, new predictions for a dire hurricane season on this AMERICAN MORNING.

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

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