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Attorney General Gonzales Facing Potential No-Confidence Vote in Senate; Autism and Vaccines; What Causes Autism; Risky Strategy in Iraq?; Teen Sex Case

Aired June 11, 2007 - 15:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm T.J. Holmes, sitting in today for Don Lemon.

The joy was overwhelming, intoxicating. It was also brief. A state appeal means no quick release for the young Georgia sex offender who a judge ruled does not belong in prison.

PHILLIPS: We're also watching the comings and goings on space shuttle Atlantis. Space walkers are set to add on to International Space Station. Miles O'Brien joins us live.

And you're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: An incredible day of highs and lows in a case that's drawn national attention -- a superior court judge here in Georgia threw out Genarlow Wilson's sentence this morning, calling the 10-year prison term for consensual teenage sex a grave miscarriage of justice. He resentenced Wilson to 12 months in prison, which he's already served twice over.





SANCHEZ: Read -- read us -- read us what it says. Can you read it to us?


BERNSTEIN: ... habeas corpus is granted. (INAUDIBLE) sentence is void.

SANCHEZ: The sentence is void.

BERNSTEIN: The sentence is void. SANCHEZ: That means he's cleared. That means he's cleared.


BERNSTEIN: And an order of release!


BERNSTEIN: And an order of release!

SANCHEZ: B.J., B.J., explain to us what this means, if you could.

BERNSTEIN: The order -- the order -- he's released. He's released.

SANCHEZ: So, the judge is saying that he agrees, on habeas corpus grounds, that he should be released?

BERNSTEIN: He's released. He's released.


HOLMES: However, moments later came word the state attorney general plans to appeal. So, that means that Genarlow Wilson will stay in prison for the time being.


BERNSTEIN: We are filing with the Douglas County Superior court this afternoon a request for bond. We spoke to the attorney general's office. They indicate they have nothing to do with the bond.

So, we have called David McDade's office. They told to us go ahead and file a motion, which is, in fact, happening. We are trying to get a court date immediately. Mr. McDade did not agree to a bond, which is always possible. But, again, here, the district -- so, we're back dealing with square one.

Now I'm fighting District Attorney Dave McDade and the attorney general of Georgia. So, that's being filed this afternoon.


HOLMES: In a statement, written, the state attorney general argues, the judge who issued today's order had the authority to void Wilson's sentence, but not the authority to resentence him.

Wilson's attorney is filing a motion to have him released on bond during his appeal.

PHILLIPS: Well, he's fielded questions. He's fought criticism. Now Alberto Gonzales faces a test of whether the Senate has confidence in him.

Democrats are pushing a no-confidence resolution against the embattled attorney general. The White House says, it's a waste of time. But the Democrats say, it's time to put themselves and Republicans on record. We're waiting on a vote in just a matter of hours.

And our Brianna Keilar is in Washington following it all -- Brianna.


And this vote we're waiting on is not the actual no-confidence vote. It's the motion to proceed with the motion to vote, basically, a test vote to see how senators are lining up on this issue, some parliamentary procedure there to confuse you.

But the Senate would have to get 60 votes today before they have the no-confidence vote sponsored by New York Democrat Chuck Schumer. Now, debate on this motion to success -- or to proceed, rather, doesn't get under way until 3:30 Eastern time. That's the formal debate.

But discussion is already under way on the Senate floor. This is Orrin Hatch, Republican from Utah. He's been calling this political theater. And, a short while ago, we saw a preview of the verbal lashing that Gonzales will no doubt get from Democrats.


SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Mr. President, we have seen enough. This attorney general needs to leave his office. He has tainted his office. He does not deserve the high responsibility and enormous honor as serving as attorney general of the United States.


KEILAR: Some Republicans do want to see Gonzales go, but that doesn't mean they will be lining up with Democrats on this preliminary vote. This is expected to be a partisan vote.

Several Republican senators and aides tell CNN they feel this resolution by Schumer is politically motivated, and they aren't going to go along with it. But, if this does get to the actual no- confidence vote, the Associated Press is reporting that Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he will vote for that no-confidence resolution.

Specter has said there is bad morale and a lack of leadership at the Justice Department -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Now, Brianna, Gonzales was in Miami at a public appearance today. Did he address that -- the drama going on in Washington?

KEILAR: That's right. He did. He was in Miami at a law enforcement conference. And here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I remain focused on 18 months left in this administration. And, speaking out to people in the department, I have emphasized that I am focused on sprinting to the finish line. The department's not going to stumble. We're not going to crawl to the finish line.

The issues that we work on are, quite frankly, just too darn important. We have to worry about things like nuclear terrorism, protecting our country from another terrorist attack. I'm focused on that. And that's why I'm here today.


KEILAR: So, focusing on the remainder of his term, which is very similar to what we have heard from him for months now -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Brianna Keilar, we will follow the vote. Thanks.

HOLMES: A new court ruling deals a new blow to the Bush administration's plan for enemy combatants. An appeals court says the U.S. cannot hold this Arab immigrant indefinitely without charging him.

Ali al-Marri, who is not a U.S. citizen -- but he is a legal resident -- was labeled an enemy combatant and has been held at the U.S. Navy brig in South Carolina for four years. The Bush administration says he is an al Qaeda operative, still has the option of charging him in civilian court.

PHILLIPS: President Bush shaking hands on the last leg of a European tour marked by protesters, as well as adoring fans.

The president wrapped up his eight-day trip in Bulgaria today -- next stop, the daily grind in Washington, where an immigration reform bill that he supports has come to a grinding halt. That issue followed him on the trip.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The political process sometimes isn't pretty to look at it. There's two steps forward, one step back.

We made two steps forward on immigration. We took a step back. And now I'm going to work with those who are focused on getting an immigration bill done, and start taking some steps forward again. I believe we can get it done.

I will see you at the bill signing.


PHILLIPS: The president plans to meet with Republican senators tomorrow. He will try to convince them the immigration compromise is better than the status quo. HOLMES: And who is that in that video? Mick Jagger? Bono? I hear he's pretty big.

It's actually President Bush in that crowd. He has got a pretty high approval rating, apparently, in Albania.


HOLMES: Albanians cannot get enough of the U.S. president or the USA.

Also can't get enough of our Ed Henry.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The kind of welcome President Bush doesn't get these days at home or anywhere in the world, like Italy and Germany, where he was greeted by thousands of angry protesters -- for a limping president wondering, "Where's the love?" the answer is Albania, which issued three postage stamps in Mr. Bush's honor, named a street after him, and welcomed him with a massive 21-gun salute.

SALI BERISHA, ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER: The greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times, the president of the United States of America, the leading country of the free world, George W. Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm proud to be the first American sitting president to visit Albania.

HENRY: A carefully choreographed White House attempt to close the president's European tour on a high note, with a quick stop in a country that's adored America for 85 years, thanks to Woodrow Wilson's refusal to partition Albania and the first President Bush's help in ending communism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One George Bush, one America. Albania -- George Bush, American, OK?

HENRY: Mr. Bush was here to give thanks of his own for Albania contributing small numbers of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

BUSH: Albanians know the horror of tyranny, and, so, they're working to bring the hope of freedom to people who haven't known it. And that's a noble effort and a sacrifice.

HENRY: He also pushed independence for Kosovo, a province of Serbia dominated by Albanians.

BUSH: Two things -- one that -- we need to get moving, and, two, that the end result is independence.

HENRY: That's why people here don't understand why Mr. Bush is heckled elsewhere. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they are crazy people, because the democracy begin in America. And America wants to be democracy in all around the world.

HENRY (on camera): The love for America is nonpartisan. After then-President Clinton rescued ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo war, a lot of babies here were named Bill and Hillary. Locals now expect a baby boom of Georges and Lauras.

Ed Henry, CNN, with the president in Tirana, Albania.


PHILLIPS: Out-of-whack gyroscopes caused a slight delay to the start of an out-of-this-world construction project today. Gyros keep the International Space Station in the right position.

You're looking at live pictures right now. The space shuttle astronauts there on the Atlantis are -- well, they are trying to keep up with -- the orbiter oriented until the glitch is fixed. During the planned space walk, astronauts Jim Reilly and Danny Olivas will add a huge new piece to the International Space Station. It includes solar powers that will hopefully generate more power.

Our Miles O'Brien is following it all.

HOLMES: Meanwhile, some folks are getting their day in court -- families of autistic children trying to make the case that routine vaccines caused their children's disorder -- up next in the NEWSROOM, more on their hearing and the controversy.

PHILLIPS: He's America's mayor, and he's running as the candidate who is tough on terrorism. But what does Rudy Giuliani's record on terror show?

That's straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: It's 12 after 3:00. Here are three of the stories we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM this hour.

Genarlow Wilson still in prison, for now -- a Georgia judge threw out Wilson's 10-year prison sentence for a consensual sex encounter he had as a teen, but the state's attorney general now appealing. Wilson was sentenced under a now changed Georgia law.

They are glad to be off that plane. People on a British Airways flight that landed in Miami have been allowed to leave, after they were kept on board because of a sick passenger who was throwing up blood. Federal health officials checked the woman, who is now in isolation. They say she had a gastrointestinal problem.

They are suited up and ready to go -- almost. A technical glitch is prompting a slight delay in the first space walk of the latest space shuttle mission. Astronauts are planning to put a new addition on the International Space Station.

PHILLIPS: Every Monday, we will tell you about a defining moment for one of the presidential candidates, something that tells you who that person is and why he or she wants to be president.

For Rudy Giuliani, that moment was 9/11.

CNN's John Roberts has more.


JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But what this global war on terror bumper sticker, political slogan, that's all it is. That's all it's ever been.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These are real problems. This war is not a bumper sticker. This war is a real war.

JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING" (voice over): And, in the GOP presidential race, Rudy Giuliani is the tough-talking candidate who says he would be the best to lead that war. Why? Because he's been through it twice, during the 1993 and 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

DOMINIC CARTER, NY1 SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: He is Mr. 9/11, but his entire record is now going to be scrutinized.

ROBERTS: Dominic Carter, NY1's political reporter, covered Mayor Rudy Giuliani's eight years in office.

CARTER: And, from the first day he became mayor of New York City and his entire tenure, terrorism was not so much on his radar screen. He was more of a law-and-order mayor.

ROBERTS: After 9/11, Carter says, Giuliani was an extraordinary leader, though he and others questioned Giuliani's judgment before the attack.

CARTER: There's the issue of the building placement for the emergency command center.

ROBERTS: The Office of Emergency Management headquarters was located one block away from the World Trade Center, too close to a previous terrorist target without any backup site, according to the 9/11 Commission report. During the 9/11 attack, the command center was destroyed.

CARTER: There's the issue of the radios between the police and fire department. There are firefighters and retired police officers that are -- that are vowing to follow him around the country and raise the issues.

ROBERTS: The 9/11 Commission report also found that the mayor's directive for incident command was followed on 9/11.

But it is also clear, however, that the response operations lacked the kind of integrated communications and unified command contemplated in the directive.

And, while these actions may cause some to question his past judgment in the war on terror, there are others who say he will do fine if there are any future attacks.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who helped fight the war on terror during the Clinton administration, feels Giuliani's 9/11 background will trump all.

LOUIS FREEH, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Given his experience and his leadership and the challenges that we face, that he's the best and the brightest, and I'm very, very pleased to support him.

ROBERTS: John Roberts, CNN, New York.


PHILLIPS: Now, Giuliani defends his decision to place the emergency command headquarters at number seven World Trade Center. Giuliani said that the site made the most sense during an attack because of its proximity to many federal agencies also housed in that building.

Now, next Monday, "AMERICAN MORNING" will hear from former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, as part of their "Defining Moments" series.

HOLMES: Well, do you love movies, but maybe not the movie theaters? I was at one not long ago.

Kyra, not always fun to be at a movie theater.

Also, maybe you hate waiting for movies to hit the video store -- iTunes working on a plan to make you very happy.

That's ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: All right. You know you can already download songs, TV shows, podcasts, maybe throw a little CNN in there. You can do all that on the iTunes Web site, but Apple certainly not stopping there. And we didn't expect them to.

Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange with the down-low on the download.




The D.L. on the D.L. here -- the key, though, is that new movies will be available for downloading -- iTunes already, of course, as many of us know, offer lots of older movies for sale from some studios. But, right now, only Disney allows its new movies to be sold on iTunes. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is a big Disney shareholder and sits on the company's board, so he has got an in.

But "The Wall Street Journal" says Apple is in talks with point studios about offering rentals. Apple hopes to charge $2.99 and make the movies available for a set number of days before expiring -- T.J.

HOLMES: Why, Susan? Why? Is there is money shortage over there at Apple or something?


HOLMES: They need -- need to expand, need to make a little more cash? What's going on?

LISOVICZ: Especially with the iPhone coming out...


LISOVICZ: ... later this month.

You know, it's a something we see in a lot of industries, especially, like, telephone companies. All these extra services are a huge source of revenue.

Earlier this year, the company dropped computer from its name. It's just Apple now -- of course, a big reason, the success of the iPod. Later this month, the company will move further away from computers with the launch of the iPhone.

But Apple is far from abandoning its computing roots. In a speech just this afternoon at a developers conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs talked about the release of the new Mac operating system, known as Leopard, which replaces Tiger.

One of the things that it does, it has 300 new features, including a new way to organize information, a product that allows Mac users to run Microsoft programs, and an application that automatically backs up a company's hard drive. That certainly will appeal to a lot of Apple folks.

But, here on Wall Street, well, the appeal isn't so great today. Apple share are down 2.5 percent. The overall market is doing better, after one of the worst weeks of the last three months. Investors don't have too much to go on today -- no major economic reports, not much in the way of corporate news.

That will change later this week, when we get two major reports on inflation, at the wholesale level and at the retail level.

Checking the numbers, the Dow industrials still on the plus side, despite the fact that crude oil is up more than a buck right now -- the Dow hanging in there, up 37 points. The Nasdaq is up six points, each up about a quarter-of-a-percent. The bulls are trying to put together back-to-back wins. We will see if they can pull it -- pull it off. I will be back for the closing bell in 30 minutes -- T.J., Kyra, back to you.

HOLMES: We -- we will see you then, Susan. Thank you so much.

LISOVICZ: You're welcome.

PHILLIPS: Well, the tragedies that can and do strike young people, who have their whole lives ahead of them, you would ever think of sports cream? Nobody. Yet, that is apparently what killed a star high school athlete, whose parents are still in shock.

CNN's Allan Chernoff has the story.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How could their daughter have died?

Richard and Alice Lynn Newman keep wondering, as any parent would, after learning 17-year-old Arielle died from having too much of the active ingredient of Bengay in her body.

ALICE LYNN NEWMAN, MOTHER OF ARIELLE: We just miss her so much. She was doing all the right things. She wasn't doing anything that she shouldn't be doing.

CHERNOFF: Seventeen-year-old Arielle, her parents say, used Bengay only occasionally, before track meets. She was the star captain of her team -- a clean kid, her parents say, who didn't drink or do drugs, on her way to college, and, ironically, thinking of pursuing a career as a pharmacist.

NEWMAN: She got the track scholarship for college. And now she will never get to experience these things. And we just miss her so much. All my other three children -- it's horrible -- we're going through such an ordeal.

CHERNOFF: Arielle died in her sleep April 3. A two-month investigation by the New York's medical examiner concluded, Arielle died after her body absorbed too much methyl salicylate, the key ingredient in Bengay and other muscle creams.

(on camera): There are only a few warnings on both the Bengay box and tube: Don't use with a heating pad or on wounded skin. Don't ingest. And use only three to four times a day.

(voice-over): Doctors say only in very large quantities can the drug impact a user's lungs and kidneys.

DR. MARC SIEGEL, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: This is very rare. This is not the first case, but it is very unusual to see this. we have only seen a few cases of this.

CHERNOFF: Johnson & Johnson, which recently bought Bengay from Pfizer, told CNN, "Bengay has been on the market since 1898, and is safe and effective when used as directed."

After speaking with the medical examiner, Arielle's parents believe, for some reason, their daughter was not able to excrete the product as well as other people, which may have caused her tragic death.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, Staten Island, New York.


HOLMES: A looming global epidemic, that's how one researcher described Alzheimer's, after leading a study on how many people now have the disease and will have it in the future. He says at least 26 million people worldwide currently live with the brain-wasting illness.

That number is expected to quadruple by 2050. Alzheimer's is very difficult to diagnose, but another study holds some promising news on that front. Researchers say a simple test of tests can accurately predict a person's rink for developing dementia within six years. It combines medical history, cognitive testing, and a physical exam.

PHILLIPS: Getting their day in court -- families of autistic children try to make the case that routine vaccines caused their children's disorder. Up next in the NEWSROOM: more on the hearing and the controversy.


PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

HOLMES: And I'm T.J. Holmes.

Putting a disputed theory to the test -- thousands of families are riveted to a court hearing in Washington.

At issue, did routine vaccinations cause their children's autism?

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Doctors, parents, educators have debated it for years, whether routine vaccinations cause autism. It's a heartbreaking disorder that damages a child's ability to socialize and communicate.

Now the U.S. Court of Federal Claims is being asked to decide. And it's hearing the first test case today involving a 12-year-old girl.

Her mother spoke about her deteriorating condition.


THERESA CEDILLO, MOTHER OF AUTISTIC CHILD: She was a normal and healthy developing child. And, seven days following her MMR vaccination, she came down with a very high fever. Following the fever, she changed. Her behaviors changed. She began to become ill, with vomiting and other problems, that, at the beginning, we thought were going to pass, but, subsequently, led to her developing more and more medical problems, until, you know, what she has today.

I became involved in the process through -- through the program that the government has established, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which we filed with, which was about eight-and-a-half years ago. So, that's how I became involved in this.


HOLMES: Large studies have found no evidence of a vaccine-autism link. So, what does cause autism?

Here now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a true medical mystery, the secrets of an autistic brain.

WENDY STONE, VANDERBILT KENNEDY CENTER: There is no identified single cause of autism that is universal for all children. Well -- and there may never be.

GUPTA: As with many mysteries of the mind, doctors point to genetics and environment as culprits. But as the mystery starts to unfold, we learned that it could be more complicated than that.

The newest research shows that there is something that a child is born with that allows outside factors to wreak havoc on their little brains. More simply, these children are not necessarily born with autism, but they are born with the potential to develop it.

And what exactly are those outside factors? Not sure.

STONE: Before we're born, it's the mother's womb and placenta. After we're born, it's what we eat, it's what we breathe, it's what we drink. And there are so many different things out there. And that it's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is.

GUPTA: Still, any parents of an autistic child will have theories. When Zack's Couch's parents learned he had autism, his mother began to change his diet, worried he was eating something that was causing him to get worse.

Some families believe that a preservative in some childhood vaccines called Thimerasol is causing autism in their children. The CDC says no scientific link.

DR. ROBERT DAVIS, CDC: Now that we have the data coming in, there is no data to suggest that the Thimerasol or the mercury in vaccines is linked to autism.

GUPTA: And what about the genetic link? Well, doctors at Vanderbilt are studying siblings of autistic children.

STONE: They are at elevated risk for developing autism. Even from birth, we can start following these children. And we can identify the very earliest signs.

GUPTA: Catching those early signs may help doctors get one step closer to solving the mystery.

So what exactly is happening in an autistic brain? At the University of Pittsburgh, doctors are seeing what's happening inside the autistic brain. The picture here shows a normal brain on the left, an autistic brain on the right with dramatically fewer connections lighting up.

No, we still don't know what exactly causes it or even how to explain the rising rates across the United States. But every day, we're getting closer to solving the mystery of autism.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


PHILLIPS: Three U.S. soldiers buried under tons of debris. You're seeing the aftermath now of a suicide bombing yesterday on a highway overpass just south of Baghdad. It caused part of the bridge to crash down on U.S. troops manning a checkpoint, killing three and wounding six others.

Today, a suicide truck bomb went off of a main bridge in Iraq's Diyala province just north of Baghdad. No word yet on casualties in that attack. Bridges are an increasingly popular target for Iraqi insurgents.

HOLMES: The next leader of Britain getting a crash course on Iraq. Gordon Brown paid a visit to Baghdad today, where he sat down with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. As diplomatically as possible, Brown indicated he wants to handle Britain's role in the war better than the man he's replacing.


GORDON BROWN, INCOMING BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think it's important to learn all the lessons. And just as Tony Blair has said, that he acted in good faith but mistakes were made, I think it's important to learn the lessons and to look forward knowing that proper procedures are going to be in place for the future that will command the confidence not just of parliament, but the confidence of the public. And I'm prepared at every stage to learn lessons.


HOLMES: Brown is currently the British finance minister. He'll take over as prime minister on June 27th, when Tony Blair steps down. PHILLIPS: You've heard the saying the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Well, U.S. commanders are putting it into action in Iraq.

They're encouraging, even arming Sunni insurgents who have decided to take on al Qaeda. Now, even though some of those groups have fought American troops in the past, they're still doing it. So, how do you tell the good guys from the bad?

Earlier, I asked our military analyst, retired Brigadier General David Grange.


PHILLIPS: How do you trust tribal sheiks who are killing U.S. troops too all of a sudden take this about-face and start killing off al Qaeda? How do you trust them? What clicks?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's not 100 percent trust. You trust them to a certain degree.

You -- if you -- if you arm them, you arm them with only certain weaponry. You have the serial numbers that you can trace these particular weapons. You don't give them weapons that -- like, for instance, surface-to-air missiles like we experienced in -- if you recall, in Afghanistan, which later on caused us some problems.

I'm sure in this case they're very careful of what they -- what they provide. They're going to get weapons from somewhere, whether we give it to them or not. And us giving them those weapons kind of makes the seal. It may be the deal-maker.


GRANGE: But anyway, you don't -- you don't trust them 100 percent.

PHILLIPS: ... does it contribute to an even bigger civil war if the U.S. starts arming Sunnis, in addition to what they already have?

GRANGE: Well, it may. But again, it's a weapon-rich environment. Not only in Iraq, but you can get weapons around the world today so easy, that that probably doesn't matter. If they're going to fight, they're going to get the weapons from somewhere.

PHILLIPS: Does it concern you at all that the same men that were killing U.S. troops will be armed by U.S. troops to start killing al Qaeda?

GRANGE: Well, it does to some degree. But, you know, we can't kill everybody. We can't kill everybody and every insurgent group in Iraq.

So we're going to have to make some deals for convenience for our benefit. And they may be short-lived. We may have to go back after some of those same groups later. But for right now, I think that it's a window of opportunity that we ought to take advantage of, exploit it for our benefit, or this will never end for the United States of America.


PHILLIPS: Well, the U.S. has added thousands more troops to Iraq over the past few months, but so far they've failed to quell the violence.

HOLMES: A judge says Genarlow Wilson doesn't belong in prison. Not anymore, anyway. But the state attorney general fights to keep him there.

Next in the NEWSROOM, the latest on a case of teen sex and a tough law that no longer exists.


HOLMES: Elation, then exasperation. A judge here in Georgia throws out the sentence Genarlow Wilson was given for consensual teen sex and orders him released. But the state attorney general plans to appeal, which means Wilson stays in prison for the time being.

CNN's Rick Sanchez takes a look at how this case all evolved.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Genarlow Wilson is a convicted felon, a prisoner, despite being a good son, a good athlete, a high school student with a 3.2 GPA with no criminal past.

He was a track and football star, being recruited by several universities. He was his school's homecoming king. He was the boy who seemed to have it all.

GENARLOW WILSON, CONVICTED FOR SEXUAL CHARGES: I was somewhat popular, you know, maybe too much in the spotlight, you know, for my own good.

SANCHEZ: Imagine now going from that to this: living behind bars for a minimum of ten years for something he did that some may consider immoral, maybe stupid, maybe even criminal, but ten years in prison?

"The New York Times", in an editorial, is calling for his release. Web sites are dedicated to freeing him. Even conservative talk show host Neal Boortz has taken on Genarlow's cause.

NEAL BOORTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The kid broke a ridiculous law passed by the General Assembly that did not -- can we use the phrase -- grade on a curve.

SANCHEZ (on camera): You lost your freedom. What's that like, to lose your freedom?

WILSON: It's real hard, because I started off -- it was like I had everything one day, and the next day, I didn't have nothing. SANCHEZ: Where and when did this all begin? Right here, at this Days Inn in suburban Atlanta. December 31, 2003, Genarlow and some of his friends decided they would come here, rent a room and ring in the new year. It was a decision that has forever changed his life.

(voice-over): Here's why. During the night, several girls showed up. One of the boys whips out a video camera to record what's about to happen. CNN obtained the tape, but we've blurred it out to protect the other teen's identity.

In that video, the teens are seen having sex right out in the open. In one scene, Genarlow receives oral sex from one of the girls. He's 17. She's 15. It appears to be a consensual act between two teens.

(on camera): At no time did you tell that young lady that she had to give you oral sex?

WILSON: No, sir.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Eddie Barker, who prosecuted Genarlow, shows us the tape that he used to prove his case.

(on camera): He says he never used any force, that he didn't force the girl at all. Is he telling the truth?

EDDIE BARKER, DOUGLAS COUNTY PROSECUTOR: From what we've seen on the videotape and heard from the victim herself, we do not believe there was any physical force used.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): So if there was no force, why then is Genarlow in prison for ten years, surrounded by real, hard-core criminals, even murderers and rapists?

The answer to that question is found here in this now outdated Georgia criminal statute which comes down hard on any act of sodomy and includes oral sex. It states if a person giving oral sex is under the age of 16, then the person receiving it is guilty of aggravated child molestation, even if he's a teenager himself. Ten years, mandatory, no way around it.

(on camera): Do you see this as a travesty of justice in Genarlow's case?

B.J. BERNSTEIN, GENARLOW WILSON'S ATTORNEY: A hundred percent, because we have consensual teen sex, criminalized to the extent that this kid has got ten years in prison, and everyone is just saying, "Well, we can't help that. That's the law."

SANCHEZ: That law that ensnared Genarlow does seem illogical. For example, if he'd intercourse with a 15-year-old instead of oral sex, he would only have been charged with a misdemeanor.

(on camera): If you had known that it was illegal for a 17-year- old to have sex with a 15-year-old, would you have done it?


SANCHEZ (voice-over): So draconian is the law, that since Genarlow's case, the governor has signed a new law doing away with it. Now consensual teen sex is regarded as a misdemeanor.

The change in the law, though, comes too late for Genarlow, and too late for the juries who say they felt horrible about having to find him guilty.

(on camera): So you weren't allowed to look at the spirit of the law...


SANCHEZ: ... any other meaning? You had to look at it concretely?

MANIGAULT: Absolutely. And that was our biggest argument in the deliberating room. With the spirit of the law, he was not guilty. You know, with the letter of the law, based on what we were told, he was guilty.

WILSON: Even when someone says a sex offender is someone who has a history of continually committing the same crimes with kids, someone who's weak. They prey on the weak. I wasn't preying on the weak when that happened.


HOLMES: Wilson's attorney is filing a motion to have him released on bond during the appeal.

PHILLIPS: Atlantis astronauts get ready to pop the hatch and go for a spacewalk. Our Miles O'Brien has the latest on that and NASA's focus on the shuttle's thermal blanket. Will that need a repair job, too?

We'll tell you.


HOLMES: Spinning gyros hit a glitch, causing a delay to the start of an out-of-this-world construction project today. The gyros keep the International Space Station in the right position. The shuttle Atlantis was used to keep the orbiting observatory in the right place until the glitch was fixed.

During today's planned spacewalk, Atlantis astronauts Jim Reilly and Danny Olivas will add a huge new piece to the International Space Station weighing some 35,000 pounds. It includes solar panels that will generate more power.

PHILLIPS: Spinning gyros not be mistaken with Greek gyros.

CNN Space Corespondent Miles O'Brien keeping track of all the astronauts. Busy, busy minutes.

Hi, Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kyra, there's nothing worse than having a bad attitude, right?

PHILLIPS: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: Especially if you're the space station. So, that spinning gyro, which normally keeps it facing the sun, relatively, as it goes around 17,500 miles an hour, when that big piece weighing all that extra -- that extra mass was kind of attached on, the gyros couldn't compensate. And so they sent off an alarm and they had to fire shuttle thrusters to get things back in sync. And that's what delayed things.

Let's take a look outside now. Not much of a picture, but just to prove that they're still up there.

There you go. It's kind of dark. And as we are told, the spacewalkers are going through their checklists. No problems, no leaks. They're depressurizing the airlock. Soon they'll be on battery power, which is -- signifies the beginning of the spacewalk.

There's Danny Olivas -- doing the "Macarena"?

PHILLIPS: I thought that was a spinning gyro.

O'BRIEN: Oh, was that -- that was a spinning gyro.

PHILLIPS: Or was that a shuttle thruster?

O'BRIEN: Yes. There's Steve Swanson helping him out. Jim Reilly, spacewalking veteran doing -- he's doing the "Macarena". He really is. He was.

These guys, we've got to get them a new dance. That's so 1992, isn't it?

PHILLIPS: Yes. It's so cruise down the Caribbean.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Exactly. It's kind of Club Med at a higher altitude.

And here -- OK, here's that the big piece. That's $366 million of your taxpaying money right there to provide additional solar power for the space station.

There are solar blankets kind of furled up in there. They'll extend 200 feet-plus, wing tip to wing tip, if everything goes well. But first -- but first they must get another solar array out of the way.

Do you remember this one from last year, Kyra?

PHILLIPS: I do. And it got all disheveled and smooshed, right?

O'BRIEN: Yes. I think the technical term is kaddywamper (ph).

PHILLIPS: Kaddywamper (ph)?

O'BRIEN: It was kaddywamper (ph), yes.


O'BRIEN: They came down and the guy wires got messed up with the grommets. The guy wires and the grommets were not getting along. Things just didn't fold well.

So they tried, they jiggled, they did all this stuff. They finally got spacewalkers out there with some jerry-rigged tools wrapped in some tape, because it is after all an electrical device. And piece by piece, they kind of made sure that the map folded.

Now, this is the glove, several thousand dollars, custom made of Bob Curbeam. Take a look at what happened, Kyra, in the midst of this spacewalk.

Not good. You don't want to have a tear like that in your -- anything to do with your spacewalking suit.

PHILLIPS: So what does he do after that happened?

O'BRIEN: He said he was real sorry and he'll be much more careful...

PHILLIPS: And he said, take it out of my next paycheck.

O'BRIEN: ... next time.


O'BRIEN: And the rest of the crew of course will be watching it, too.

Now, let me tell you about -- speaking of tears, tears in the thermal blanket up here on the -- as a matter of fact, when it's in space, it has these doors open. But up here in this little hump which houses a rocket, there's a tear in the thermal blanket. Let's take a look at it.

It's kind of dramatic when you look at it, but it's not in a particularly sensitive place on the shuttle. Of course, the shuttle is a sensitive craft. But basically, we're talking about something -- excuse me, wrong thing -- about six inches there, four inches there.

There you go. Six inches across there. And that's the graphite skin of that pod which houses that rocket.

The question is, what kind of damage could that do? Well, the heat there is between 700 and 1,000 degrees on reentry. Much less than the 3,000 degrees-plus you would get on the other side in the leading edge of the wing, which we saw with the loss of Columbia.

And look at this tape we dug up from our library. Twenty-six years ago, space shuttle mission numero uno. They go to space, they look at. They didn't have thermal blankets back then, but they had tiles in that same location.

Lost 16 of them. And they came back just fine.

So, having said all of that, I think the smart money, Kyra, is on the spacewalkers going in to tuck in that blanky.

PHILLIPS: You know, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't argue that at all. I miss talking...

O'BRIEN: Always tucking.

PHILLIPS: Yes, we like to be tucked in. That's true.

Sleep well. They'd sleep a lot well (ph) there.

Great talking space with you again, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. See you, Kyra.

HOLMES: We've got the closing bell and a wrap of the action on Wall Street. That is right ahead.


HOLMES: Well, could it be the redemption of Paris Hilton? It's been three days since a judge ordered the hotel heiress back behind bars after her brief release on home detention. She's serving time on a reckless driving case.

Over the weekend, Hilton talked by phone with Barbara Walters, who shared some quotes on "The View".


BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": "I used to act dumb. It was an act, and that act is no longer cute. It is not who I am, nor do I want to be that person for the young girls who looked up to me."

She said, "I'm 26 years old now, and it is a different time." She said, "I have become much more spiritual. God has given me this new chance."


HOLMES: Don't roll your eyes, Kyra.

Maybe you wouldn't put Barbara Walters and Paris Hilton together. But let's throw in some Al Sharpton.

PHILLIPS: And some Lee Baca.

HOLMES: Let's do that.

He still wants to know, Al Sharpton does, wants to know why the L.A. County sheriff you're seeing there, Lee Baca, released Hilton to home confinement after just a few days in jail. The two are scheduled to meet today.

Well, time for us now to throw in some Wolf Blitzer.

PHILLIPS: Oh, I'm sure he will love to talk about Paris Hilton. He's standing by in "THE SITUATION ROOM" to tell us what's coming up at the top of the hour.

Hi, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm going to talk about Kyra Phillips and T.J.

Guys, thanks very much.

White House traction. Is the president essentially a lame duck, or will he be able to push through some of his domestic agenda before leaving office?

Also, the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, facing a no- confidence vote. Will the symbolic measure push him to resign?

We're watching the vote live in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

Also, murder and religion over -- and love. A father kills his daughter for dating a young man from a different faith.

And Cuba travel ban. We're going to find out why one American war veteran came back from Iraq and is now fighting the U.S. government to ease restrictions on Cuba.

All that, guys, coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Wolf.

Well, the closing bell is about to ring on Wall Street.

HOLMES: And so that means Lusan (sic) -- Lusan Silovicz (sic)...

PHILLIPS: She's not no losing woman.

HOLMES: Susan Lisovicsz, forgive me. She's here.


HOLMES: Time for us to go to Wolf Blitzer and "THE SITUATION ROOM".