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Iraq War Plan; National Hurricane Center Storm; Cameras Watch Streets; Plane Crashes in Sanford, Florida

Aired July 10, 2007 - 09:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Heidi Collins.

Good morning, everybody.

Watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on this Tuesday morning. It's July 10th.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Six months into the U.S. troop buildup, a report to Congress this week set to show little progress by Iraq.

HARRIS: Pakistani troops in a bold raid on a mosque, dozens of hard-line militants are killed.

COLLINS: A United States senator linked to the woman known as the "D.C. Madam". Serious sin, he says, in the NEWSROOM.

Unfolding this hour, Iraq at the crossroads. A critical status report now just days away. The question now, will it force swift changes to war plans?

CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry joining us now to explain more on this.

The president, Ed, is heading to Cleveland this hour. We know that.

What is he expected to say about Iraq specifically?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Heidi.

Pressure obviously mounting on the president because of all these Republican defections. And when you are facing a stampede, what you try to do is get ahead of it and call it a parade. So you're going to hear the president in Cleveland trying to say, look, I'm for that, too. I'm for what a lot of these Republican defectors are saying, which is the president trying to reassure Americans in general, these Republican senators in particular, that he, too, wants to get to a place where the security on the ground is stable enough in Iraq and that there is enough political reconciliation within the Iraqi government that he can start bringing home large numbers of U.S. troops.

Here's how White House spokesman Tony Snow put it a little earlier on "AMERICAN MORNING".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The whole purpose of the surge is to get us to that place. What we're saying to folks is, now that you got what you wanted, which was a new way forward, give it a little bit of a chance to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: The problem for the White House, the president, though, is that more and more Republicans are saying that the Iraqi government has not stepped up, and the White House's own report due to Congress by the end of the week about Iraqi government benchmarks is likely to confirm what Republicans on the Hill are saying, which is that most of these key benchmarks are not being met. So while the president today will again say that he wants everyone to keep their powder dry until the bigger progress report he is expecting in mid-September from his commander, General Petraeus, wait for that, a lot of key Republicans like Senator Richard Lugar saying, no, we can't wait, you have got to change the strategy now, not in the fall -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Well, what about the political situation then on the ground for Maliki? A no-confidence vote brewing. The White House cannot be happy about that.

HENRY: No. It obviously puts them further on the defensive, because the president has put so much support, so much stock in propping up Maliki. If his government were to fall, there's no clear plan B there -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Well, we will be following this one, of course.

Thanks so much.

Ed Henry live this morning from the White House.

HENRY: Thank you.

HARRIS: A Republican lawmaker now tangled up in the D.C. madam case. Louisiana senator David Vitter confirming his involvement with an alleged escort service.

In a recent statement Vitter called it a "serious sin". He apologized to anyone he may have disappointed.

His number appeared in the phone records of the alleged D.C. madam. Prosecutors accuse her of running a prostitution ring. Deborah Jeane Palfrey says she didn't even know Vitter was on the list. She spoke to CNN Radio. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DEBORAH JEANE PALFREY, ALLEGED D.C. MADAM: I was forewarned. I was not told who it was going to be, though. And I was just told to expect a phone call.

And I got it a few hours ago, and boy did I get it. I had no idea who this man was prior to a few hours ago, even though I'm sure he obviously was a client. And he apparently has stated accordingly, and stated so, but I Don't remember this man. I think he used the service in 2001.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HARRIS: Vitter's office says the contact came before the Republican ran for the Senate. Vitter was elected in 2004, after five years in the House.

COLLINS: Getting small breaks and hoping for big ones. The battle against wildfires ravaging parts of the West. Dozens of fires still burning from South Dakota to California.

The winds dying down a little around what is believed to be Utah's biggest wildfire in history. It is now 10 percent contained. The blaze has already scorched more than 300,000 acres.

A thunderstorm last night and cooler temperatures today helping firefighters in South Dakota. A lightning-sparked wildfire has left more than 30 families homeless.

And for many of us across the U.S. today, no break from that incessant heat.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: How about this? The director of the National Hurricane Center is out. A brief tenure not lasting a single hurricane season.

CNN's John Zarrella has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bill Proenza never sugarcoated the issues. He spoke his mind. That candor has, at least in part, cost him his job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted me to be quiet about it.

ZARRELLA: Muzzle you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Essentially.

ZARRELLA: The director of the National Hurricane Center, Proenza, was talking about a satellite he felt was critical to forecasting, but was on its last legs with no replacement in the works. Proenza went public with his concerns. But many of his own senior forecasters didn't share his opinion. Last week, half the center staff signed a petition asking for Proenza to be removed, saying he didn't listen to them, he didn't seek their opinions.

LIXION AVILA, SENIOR HURRICANE SPECIALIST: We are going to make a very good damn forecast this year, with Bill or without Bill. And I think that's -- I've been very emotional on this, because I was his strongest supporter and I feel betrayed.

ZARRELLA: Proenza also publicly criticized his bosses in Washington for spending money on 200th anniversary celebrations for NOAA, the parent agency, while taking money away from hurricane research. The director had lost support at NOAA and in his own building. In an interview last Friday, Proenza told me he wasn't resigning immediately but was leaving the door open, and he said, he did not regret the way he had handled things.

BILL PROENZA, FORMER DIR., NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: When I'm asked, I've got to answer honestly and sincerely, and I feel that it is part of my responsibilities, I work for the American people.

ZARRELLA: NOAA officials tell us Proenza remains on the payroll, but he no longer works for the American people as director of the hurricane center. Longtime deputy director Ed Rappaport has taken over as acting director.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Heidi, look, this next story gives new meaning to the term wrecking ball. You ready?

COLLINS: Yes, I do like this.

HARRIS: Yes. A 1,500-pound wrecking ball broke loose, rolling down -- can you imagine this -- a crowded street. It happened at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. The ball hit several parked cars, as you can see here.

And look at this. Look at this at the end here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OFC. BRIAN JOSEPH, MEADVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA, POLICE: Just heard a large crash that sounded kind of like an explosion. I got out of my cruiser and the guy behind me said he was hit by another vehicle. The guy behind him complained he was hit by another vehicle.

And then I could see pieces from some type of accident behind the third vehicle. And I couldn't -- didn't see another car that caused the collision. I walked back, and that's when I see a -- probably a 1,500-pound wrecking ball sitting in the back of a Ford Taurus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Can you believe this? The wrecking ball actually pushed that Ford Taurus 20 feet through an intersection and into other cars.

Needless to say, the driver of that car was more than a little startled. Hello?

COLLINS: Yes. I like the story not because of what happened to this poor guy's car, but it's amazing that nobody was hurt. I mean, truly.

HARRIS: Yes. Yes. Yes.

COLLINS: It's like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.

HARRIS: Right out of the cartoons.

COLLINS: Yes.

HARRIS: Yes.

COLLINS: Crazy. There it goes.

Meanwhile, someone is watching. The streets of American cities patrolled by remote now, but not everybody thinks these cameras are such a good idea.

HARRIS: An admission and an execution. China's government sends a clear signal, trying to fix deadly food and drug problems.

COLLINS: And love lost, money won. Jurors put a price tag on adultery.

You are on the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: An eye on crime now. American cities now taking a page out of London's anti-terrorism playbook, catching crime on camera.

CNN's Joe Johns takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If London hadn't blazed the trail on security cameras, they may never have come to Baltimore, and this terrifying scene may have had an even worse ending.

Let's back it up.

Here, caught on camera, you see a young man ambling in the shadows. Next, a young woman walks into camera range. She's smoking, talking on a cell phone. Suddenly, the man grabs her and drags her out of view.

In scarcely two minutes, with an apparent crime in progress, the cops arrive at the scene. LEONARD HAMM, BALTIMORE POLICE COMMISSIONER: We got there in seconds because we'd been watching this guy walking around in a suspicious manner.

JOHNS: Bad guys on candid camera. Baltimore now uses about 500 cameras. In Chicago, there are as many as 2,000 and now a plan to mount them in Manhattan.

These plans are inspired by London's so-called Ring of Steel, first created to combat terrorist acts by the Irish Republican Army. Now a weapon in the war against new terrorist threats like the bungled car bomb attacks in the U.K.

But in Britain, the number of surveillance cameras is huge, 200,000 or more, and far more advanced than in the United States. But Baltimore's police commissioner says it's almost inevitable that the U.S. will catch up.

HAMM: That's the way of the world, Joe. This is what we've come to. And the genie is out of the bottle. It's not going to go back. The threat of terrorism, the threat of gangs, the threat of violence on the street. It's not going to go back.

JOHNS: Baltimore claims a 17 percent reduction in violent crime in neighborhoods with the cameras. Though criminals are seldom caught in the act, evidence, witnesses, license plates, still help investigations.

MAJ. DAVE ENGEL, POLICE INTELLIGENCE COMMANDER: The feedback from the community has been fantastic, and, as a matter of fact, most people want cameras in their neighborhoods. JOHNS: But try to tell that to this woman, who has a beauty shop on a corner where the cameras have been up for more than a year. She asked us not to show her face on TV.

(on camera): Has the crime changed at all since the camera came?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not. No. I have been a victim of crime since I've been here several times.

JOHNS (voice-over): Some of the people we talked to on the street didn't even believe the cameras work at all.

(on camera): Do they do anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

JOHNS: Do you -- do people believe they work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people probably do. I don't.

JOHNS: He should. While we were shooting that interview, police surveillance cameras could see us with him. While we were taping the neighbors, the police were taping us taping the neighbors.

As for privacy issues, don't these people have a right not to be on camera? Not really, says the commish.

HAMM: There's no expectation of privacy when you have common areas, no.

JOHNS: The street, of course, qualifies as a common area.

ENGEL: The only thing these cameras monitor are things that an officer on the street could see with their eyes.

JOHNS: But there is this issue -- who gets to see the video and control how it's used? Local public defenders wonder whether police preserve so-called exculpatory videos, the kind of tapes that could get a client off the hook.

JOHN MARKUS, BALTIMORE PUBLIC DEFENDER: They get to pick when they want to save them. And then we may find out after the fact that there's something that we want to subpoena. It may or may not be available at that point.

JOHNS (on camera): Now, a defense lawyer, obviously, would ask you, are you as willing to give up exculpatory evidence that may be caught on...

HAMM: If the law says we have to do that, we'll do that.

JOHNS: But you don't freely give it up?

HAMM: If, in fact, we have to do that legally, we will give that up.

JOHNS (voice-over): So if they work, why aren't there more of these cameras? There are lots of small reasons, but some of the biggest impediments have been concerns about privacy and whether cameras will ever be a suitable replacement for cops on the beat.

Joe Johns, CNN, Baltimore.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: CNN "Security Watch" keeps you up to date on safety. Stay tuned day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

COLLINS: In New Hampshire, a bank robbery suspect disguised as a tree sheds his foliage and faces a judge. James Caldwell (ph) in court looking at robbery charges. Police say Caldwell (ph) really went out on a limb for his heist, duct-taping tree branches and leaves to his head and then robbing a Manchester bank. Someone looking at pictures from a security camera saw through the disguise, recognized Caldwell (ph) and called police.

HARRIS: Troop buildup in Iraq, but the U.S. Congress demanded to see political progress. An upcoming report may disappoint as Washington wrangles with the war.

COLLINS: Staffing problems at the Department of Homeland Security. What it means for your security coming right up in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Just a couple of moments ago, President Bush walking across the tarmac there at Andrews Air Force Base to board Air Force One for the trip to Cleveland, Ohio, today. And while we take a look at this, just a reminder for you the president is on the road, and we are told he will address the Iraq war just hours from now.

He is due, as I mentioned, to speak in Cleveland. That's happening this afternoon. And CNN, of course, will cover it live for you. That's now scheduled for 1:45 Eastern Time.

COLLINS: What to do with Manuel Noriega? He is set to get out of jail in September, but where can a former dictator settle down? .

CNN's Brian Todd has a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Manuel Noriega, described by a U.S. district judge as a prisoner of war, behind bars nearly 18 years in Miami for racketeering and drug smuggling. Now a born-again Christian, he wants to return quietly to Panama when he's released in September, but at least three governments are weighing in.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: That's something that we would take a look at. I know that there are other extradition requests for him that are pending.

TODD: France reportedly wants to extradite Noriega to jail him on money laundering charges. Noriega's attorney says he'll fight that. A Panamanian official tells CNN if he goes back to his homeland he'll be jailed for 20 years. Panamanian authorities convicted Noriega in absentia on murder charges, human rights violations and extortion.

A Justice Department official familiar with his case in the U.S. won't comment on what happens next saying it's too early. Noriega's attorney tells CNN the former general wants what he calls a real trial in Panama, believes he has the right to one and says the former dictator just wants to spend time with his grandchildren.

FRANK RUBINO, MANUEL NORIEGA'S ATTORNEY: He wants to return to Panama not -- and I overemphasize this -- not reengage in politics or any kind of a public life.

TODD: We asked a former State Department official could Noriega be a power to be reckoned with in Panama now.

PETER DESHAZO, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The economy is going well. The president is popular. And Noriega could only count on support of very minority groups within the -- his old party.

TODD (on camera): In fact, the one entity in Panama where Noriega could have won some support back has already been co-opted. The notorious Panamanian Defense Force which he once controlled has been dissolved and replaced with a civilian police agency.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Want to get some information out to you just as we're getting it in here at CNN.

Apparently, there has been a small plane crash in an area known as Sanford, Florida. It's a suburb of Orlando.

Apparently, it went into a home, started a fire. Several injuries are being reported. We don't know the extent of them.

The Sanford fire and police departments are not able to speak at this time, obviously. Very busy with the situation. But we are monitoring that for you.

Not aware of what type of plane, but when we say small plane crash, it's usually a civilian plane. So we will continue to monitor it.

Again, several injuries are reported in a plane crash where the plane apparently went into a home and started a fire. Sanford, Florida, a suburban Orlando community.

Thought we were going to get some pictures there. Not quite yet.

We'll get them for you just as soon as we can.

HARRIS: And here's a question for you. What's the price of love? Less than $5,000 for one spurned husband.

CNN's Kyung Lah reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK SINATRA, SINGER (SINGING): Every time it rains it rains pennies from heaven.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A dalliance with a married woman infamously landed budding crooner, Frank Sinatra, in police custody in 1938. Adultery was a crime back then in some parts of the country. In modern-day Chicago there is still a price to pay.

ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, PLAINTIFF: I blamed him. I thought he was the reason, you know, my family fell apart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Friedman.

LAH: Arthur Friedman and his wife, Natalie, had been together 10 years.

A. FRIEDMAN: I loved her and I still do. LAH: They raised two children in Chicago's north suburbs. And became friends with a nearby family, the Blinov's. But Natalie told him she was leaving him for his friend German Blinov.

A. FRIEDMAN: I got angry. I got angry because that was somebody that I considered my friend. It was somebody that I trusted.

LAH (on camera): So, what did you do at that point?

A. FRIEDMAN: At that point I stared looking for options.

LAH (voice-over): Friedman and his lawyers came across an Illinois law called the Alienation of Affections Act and sued German Blinov for stealing his wife's affections.

BLINOV: He, for one -- for, for the fact that he actually lost somebody else's feelings?

LAH: Blinov's attorney says the 60-year-old law, while brief...

ENRICO MIRABELLI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Five point four. There's only four sections.

LAH (on camera): Three pages.

(voice-over): Places a monetary value on a wife.

(on camera): So it's antiquated, in your opinion?

MIRABELLI: Most antiquated, and it should be liquidated.

LAH: But this case made it all the way to a Chicago courtroom, a jury found in favor of Arthur Friedman ordering his former friend to compensate for the loss of his wife. So, How much was that worth? Only $4,802.87.

BLINOV: My table is $5 and my, you know, bed is thousand dollars, you know and it sounds like my woman is $4,800. That's you know, -- I'm surprised, extremely surprised that in America, it still exists.

LAH (voice-over): How did they come up with this figure? Friedman wanted $48,000, money he says his wife would have made and contributed to the marriage. But jurors averaged what they thought he deserved for losing Natalie.

(on camera): What does this say to other women in our society, do you believe?

NATALIE FRIEDMAN, WIFE: That you're your husband's property. They can go to court and ask for money to be paid for you.

LAH: The wife feels, though, like she is property being bickered over.

A. FRIEDMAN: Well, I feel sorry for her, you know, for the way she feels and that certainly wasn't my intent.

LAH: So, this is a modern-day duel for you, in a way?

BLINOV: That's what it is. That's what it is.

LAH (voice-over): Blinov and his attorney say they're filing an appeal and intend to keep fighting. Friedman says even if the legal fight continues, he's now able to move on.

(on camera): Winning really made a difference?

A. FRIEDMAN: A whole lot. Yeah. A whole lot of difference, like a big stone was lifted off -- you know, off my chest.

LAH (voice-over): Natalie Friedman says she's moving forward with her divorce, humiliated by this civil suit between these two men.

N. FRIEDMAN: Who has the right to put a price tag on a person?

LAH: Feeling as if she's caught in the laws of a prior time.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And quickly, let's take you to Sanford, Florida. First pictures in to CNN now of this scene. Watching these pictures with you here of this small plane crash, as you can see.

As we take the pictures full here, we understand this small plane crashed into one, perhaps two homes. As you can see here, firefighters on the scene.

We are getting reports of injuries. Don't know how many at this point. But at least three injuries, according to wire reports at the time.

And as you can see, this has the potential to be really, really horrible. People on the ground, obviously, people at home perhaps. And certainly people on the plane. So the possibility here for several injuries.

This is a situation that we are going to continue to watch. We are working the phones right now to try to get some first-hand accounts of what actually happened here. But again, this is the scene of a small plane crash into one, quite possibly two homes right now. Several injuries have been reported.

Chad Myers is following this story as well.

Chad, what can you tell us perhaps about the plane, the route it was taking, and perhaps this community, a suburb of Orlando, I understand?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. What we are hearing from one of affiliates down there, this happened about -- oh, about 45 minutes ago or so.

This is the Preserves at Lake Monroe. The plane was a Cessna 310R, which means retractable, so that the plane did have landing wheels up into the belly.

Going from Daytona Beach to Lakeland, signaling trouble and trying to get to the Sanford airport there. And that's the Sanford Orlando airport. And coming up a few miles short, in fact, of that airport.

Other than that, Tony, that's all I have right now.

HARRIS: Well, that's plenty. And it gets us more information, additional information on the type of plane that was -- that experienced some kind of problems.

And as you can see, went down horribly in a residential neighborhood, crashing into it looks like a couple of homes there. And again, several wire reports indicating a number of injuries.

It is a situation we will continue to follow for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And meanwhile, bloodshed at the Red Mosque. When talks break off, commandos move in, storming a sacred site.

Plus, an admission and an execution. China's government sends a clear signal trying to fix deadly food and drug problems.

Over the dam and into danger. A couple of rafters get the ride of their lives.

We'll have the story when we are back here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

COLLINS: Good Tuesday morning to you.

I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris.

Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM.

Quickly now, let's get to T.J. Holmes in the CNN NEWSROOM.

T.J. Is following this small plane crash in a suburb of Orlando - Sanford, Florida -- T.J. What's the latest?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sanford, yes. A little outside of Orlando. A little north of Orlando there. But a lot of information we're getting -- we're just -- we're getting just from looking at this picture, Ton. It appears, at least, that two houses were hit and two houses have apparently sustained some pretty good damage and some fire damage after a small plane, a Cessna 310-R is what we're hearing, crashed into two homes there in this -- in this Sanford area.

This plane was apparently going from Daytona Beach to Lakeland when it radioed in that it was having some kind of issue. I'm not sure exactly what it was just yet, but trying to make an emergency landing there and did not make it.

According to our Chad Myers, it came up several miles short over the airport it was trying to get to and tried to make that landing at -- that emergency landing.

But it does appear there where it is that two had been hit. And it appears that maybe there are two structures there with smoke coming out of them. So -- and so it appears that it may, indeed, be the case.

We're getting word from our affiliate, also, that at least three people have been injured -- at least three patients -- and two of those had serious burns. And, also, a firefighter has been hurt as well, has been injured. We don't know text tent of his injuries.

We also don't know how many people might have been on board this Cessna plane. We don't know that either. And, again, we're not sure exactly what kind of issue, emergency issue the plane was having at the time when it tried to make this emergency landing.

But as our affiliate there zooms in a little closer on this picture, you can see what appears to be side by side structures. Two homes possibly have been hit. The top of that one that's dead center in the screen with most of the smoke coming out of it and, really, a huge, black gaping hole, it appears, at least, in the top of that home.

So we don't know how many people might have been home at the time. This happened, I guess, just under an hour ago. So at this time of day, this time of morning, don't know who might have been in those homes and what was going on at the time there on the ground. But, hopefully, not too many people were in those homes. It might have been earlier in the day.

But, again, Tony, we're just getting word in on a lot of this. A lot of this is brand new, fresh information. It keeps on trickling in to us. So as we continue to get those updates, we will continue to pass them along to you.

HARRIS: Yes. And everyone at home can certainly see the potential for a real tragedy here and people potentially in the home hurt; people on the plane; people on the ground -- just the real potential for a nightmare scenario here.

HOLMES: And, yes, looking at the picture there, Ton, as we get a -- the camera pulls out a little bit --

HARRIS: Sure. HOLMES: That plane was having problems. They didn't have many options right there.

HARRIS: Yes.

HOLMES: That looks like a pretty dense neighborhood, homes right next to each other.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

HOLMES: Not -- not a lot of to go in that particular development. So not a lot of options at all. But it does appear, at least it looks like two structures there side by side, homes possibly, have been hit. So we are -- we are trying to work those phones, like you said, and get as much information as we can.

COLLINS: Yes, T.J. In fact, we have a little bit more right now coming in to us from the Orlando/Sanford International Airport. Apparently they are telling us, the public information officer there, that a call came into their tower about 8:35 this morning with an alert one. That usually means that an airplane is in trouble, experience some sort of crisis.

Within a minute, it raised to an alert three. That means a crash is imminent or occurring at that time. As you said, the Cessna was a 310. There are many, many different models of the 310. It's been flying since the '50s. So, again, it's difficult to know how many people were actually inside. But small aircraft going into that house there.

We don't know, according to this same individual from the Orlando Sanford International Airport, where the plane came from or where it was going. But I believe we'll probably find out that information soon, being that they radioed the tower on this one. So we'll continue to watch it today.

Again, three injuries that we know of at this point.

Meanwhile, the war in Iraq, at a possible turning point in Washington. The White House is due to release a progress report on the war by Sunday. Senior administration officials tell CNN it will show Iraq's government has made little progress in reaching its benchmarks.

Some believe it could force a swift change in strategy. But senior administration officials tell us no major changes are planned.

Press Secretary Tony Snow spoke earlier on CNN's AMERICAN MORNING.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "AMERICAN MORNING")

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What's really interesting is that there's all this fevered speculation -- do we have -- have we reached a tipping point? Has everything changed?

I've got to remind you and everybody else, John, that -- that our forces for the surge, the last portions of those forces just got in place two weeks ago.

So what Congress is going to get this week is a snapshot at the beginning of a retooled mission in Iraq. Everybody says we want to do it a new way. We agree. It's now started.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Several senior administration officials tell CNN the White House still plans to wait for a more complete progress report. The U.S. commander in Iraq will present that, as you know, in September.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joining us now -- Barbara, good morning to you.

Barbara, what can we expect from this report?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Tony, I think you will see the administration, over the next couple of days, continue to downplay any expectations about progress in Iraq being really the headline in this report. If there was going to be progress, they would be shouting it from the rafters.

This report is going to say that there has been some bits of progress in some areas -- that, you know, certainly insurgents have been killed, weapons have been captured. There is now security in some towns in Iraq that there hadn't been security in before.

But, overall, Tony, those 18 benchmarks that they're going to look at -- fundamentally no enduring change in Iraq. The violence overall in the country, when you look at it, the overall violence not down across the country, not down in Baghdad, which is, of course, the center of what is going on in Iraq. Al Qaeda still operating in more areas, perhaps, than it had been since this security crackdown and that political reconciliation and economic progress -- that all important oil revenue sharing law -- that's not been passed.

So, still not the fundamental progress everyone is looking for.

And what about a change in strategy?

Well, you know, look, the administration has had the policy that it would like to start bringing the troops home, some of them, at least, after the first of the year in early 2008. But unless there is measurable progress, it's going to be tough for the military commanders to really recommend that.

We'll see how it all goes -- Tony.

HARRIS: And, Barbara, again, the idea was to go on with these increased troop levels into the 23 or so neighborhoods in and around Baghdad, up at the international airport, and to really aggressively go after al Qaeda and the other bad actors. And so do we have a sense -- I know you've the question why the results aren't more positive?

STARR: Well, I think the commanders and the administration will tell you it simply takes more time. You know, the really troop level -- the so-called surge -- that has only been on the ground a couple of weeks. But the problem that General Petraeus, the top commander, see is that Baghdad clock is ticking much different than the Washington clock.

In Washington, you know, the train left the station, to use the old cliche. The Congress is making it very clear, especially the Republicans who have defected from the president's strategy, they don't want to wait until September. They don't want to wait until January.

HARRIS: Yes.

STARR: They have to deliver some progress to the American people. And progress is measured in this country by the troops coming home.

Whether U.S. military commanders can really see their way clear to recommend that is still the big question -- Tony.

HARRIS: CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr for us.

Barbara, thank you.

STARR: Sure.

COLLINS: Want to take you a moment to get you back to the situation we've been telling you about near Orlando, Florida. Sanford is the name of the area. We have on the line Lieutenant Paula Richie with the Seminole County Fire Department to discuss more on this plane crash that we have now been made aware of. You see the video there.

Lieutenant Richie, if you can hear me, I'm just going to let you explain what you know may have happened here and now what the situation is on the ground.

LT. PAULA RICHIE, SEMINOLE COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Yes. It happened in the city of Sanford. Apparently, there was a small plane, possibly a Cessna, that crashed into one of the homes. It was attempting to make landing at a nearby airport. We had at least two homes involved. It appears at this time we have three patients and we also had a firefighter go down.

COLLINS: Do you know the nature of the injuries?

We are getting word that upon impact there was a fire that was sparked up.

Any idea if this is burn injuries or any information on that yet?

RICHIE: Yes. We have two that were -- it appears to be critical burn injuries. They were flown out to Orlando Regional Hospital. I'm not sure at this point on the third patient and -- or the injury for the firefighter.

COLLINS: As we look at these pictures and talk to you at the same time, we're getting a little bit closer in now. Boy, it looks like one of those structures, which we are sure is a home -- it looks to be a very residential area, is basically -- the top is just completely burned off. I'm seeing, you know, metal holding it up. Nothing left.

Can you --

RICHIE: Yes.

COLLINS: Have you been out there?

What are you hearing from the scene?

RICHIE: Yes. It is a pretty significant fire that they did have. It sounds like it was a two story structure and one home completely lost the second story.

COLLINS: Wow!

Any idea how far away the airport was that the plane was trying to land at from -- from this actual home that we're looking at?

RICHIE: The airport is probably, approximately five to six miles, I would guess. It's in the city of Sanford at Orlando Sanford International Airport.

COLLINS: And have you had an opportunity to speak with the control tower at all or any idea what may have happened?

Is there weather to talk about?

I mean it looks to be a very clear day. The smoke is billowing a little bit, but not too much.

RICHIE: You know, at this point we're -- yes. Not -- at this point, I have not talked to the control tower. It's actually in the city of Sanford. I'm just trying to assist them, because they're -- they're getting a little overwhelmed right now.

But -- and I'm actually out there -- on my way to the scene to talk to the city of Sanford. We'll be getting an update from them.

COLLINS: OK. Understood. All right.

So at this point, you are confirming for us that it looks to be two homes that were affected. A firefighter has been injured and two other people, at this point, two of them critical. And burns are what we're talking about here, from the fire that sparked up after impact into that two story home there.

Wow! We're going to continue to watch this and try to get more information for you as to what may have happened in the air before that plane went down.

Lieutenant Paula Richie from the Seminole County Fire Department, thank you very much.

HARRIS: And still to come in the CNN NEWSROOM this morning, staffing problems at the Department of Homeland Security -- what it means for your security.

Utah firefighters struggling to tame the biggest blaze in state history. A progress report straight ahead.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And cooling centers are open in New York City and Philadelphia.

Why?

Because it's already 83 in the city, 82 in Philly and 83 in Washington, D.C. We're headed to an afternoon high, when you add in the humidity, of right around 100 degrees.

The forecast is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM.

A story that is potentially horrible. We are following a situation in Sanford, Florida. A number of injuries connected to this small plane crash.

And T.J. Holmes is following developments for us here in THE NEWSROOM -- T.J. Just sort of, if you would, just bring folks up to speed on all the information that we have on this incident.

HOLMES: Yes, and precisely on what they're seeing.

HARRIS: Yes.

HOLMES: Folks, what you're looking at here is -- these are some of the -- they're one of the best angles, if you will, that we've seen of this. But a small plane has crashed into two homes in the Sanford, Florida area.

Look at those homes. They appear to be gutted. We can't really make out yet where the plane might have ended up or where it is in the midst of all this.

HARRIS: Yes.

HOLMES: But those two homes, for the most part, we've been looking at for the past several minutes. Smoke coming from them. Firefighters still working.

But as we see here, the fire appears to be out. Just a little smoke lingering. And it appears that there is nothing, if anything, left of those two homes. They appear to be gutted.

We do know there have been at least three injuries. Two of those appear to be pretty serious burn injuries. We're not sure if those injuries are people on that plane or if those are the people who were in those homes.

Also, we've gotten word from officials there in Florida that at least one firefighter has been injured, as well. We do not know the full extent of his injuries.

We do know a little more about this plane. Apparently, it's a Cessna 310 that was on its way from Daytona to Lakeland. It was registered to a company called Competitor Liaison Bureau of Daytona Beach.

And, also, word from the Orlando Sanford Airport, the public information folks there, is that they got an alert around 8:35, an alert one, initially, Ton, is what they called it. That meant there was some kind of trouble. And the information we have is that the emergency was declared because there was smoke in the cockpit.

Now, just a minute or so after that alert one, which means this plane was in trouble, it was raised to an alert three. An alert three is -- what we've been told, it means that a crash is imminent or a crash is taking place. And then this is the result, is what we're seeing on our picture, our picture here. And it went down not too far from where it was trying to get to, trying to make that emergency landing at Sanford International Airport but did not make it. We still do not know how many people might have been on board that plane and also don't know how many people might have been inside those two homes.

But wow! This picture we're seeing now --

HARRIS: That is a horrible scene.

HOLMES: It is. That those two -- those two homes just appear to be gone, destroyed. The entire -- no roofs, it appears, on them, left, Ton, as we are -- we're looking at it here.

So, information keeps coming in to us. We will keep working on --

HARRIS: Right.

HOLMES: -- the phones and we will certainly keep passing that information along to you.

HARRIS: All right.

HOLMES: But those pictures there certainly tell a lot more of the story. They really do.

HARRIS: T.J. Appreciate it.

Thank you.

HOLMES: All right.

COLLINS: Standoff leads to storming. Pakistani Army commandoes raided the Red Mosque in Islamabad early today. It's been held for a week by militants bent establishing a Taliban style government.

The raid was launched after negotiations broke down. Pakistani officials say 50 militants and eight commandos were killed in the initial assault. Hours later, the mission is still going on. Around two dozen militants are still believed to be holed up inside the compound, using women and children as human shields. Pakistani officials say more than 60 women and children have been rescued.

Troop buildup in Iraq, but the U.S. Congress demanded to see political progress. An upcoming report may disappoint, as Washington wrangles with the war.

HARRIS: And admission and an execution -- China's government sends a clear signal, trying to fix deadly food and drug problems.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: We want to get you straight back to the situation that we're following now.

We see some pretty incredible pictures coming in from Sanford, Florida. This is a suburb of Orlando, in case you don't know the area.

But we've got a -- a small plane crash, a Cessna 310. We are hearing it's a private aircraft and we are seeing now the aftermath of that. Several fire crews on the scene. Those two structures, two homes, that we can tell and we're told by the fire department there that the plane crashed into looked to be just completely demolished. They're still trying to put out some flames. You see the smoke going there.

We've been told at least three injuries. That number, of course, may change because of the breaking news situation. We know of one firefighter and two people. We're not sure of the extent of their injuries, but we are told at least two of those people are in critical condition. Burn injuries are what we are being told.

So we'll continue to monitor that.

And, meanwhile, we do have Miles O'Brien on the line with us now -- Miles, I know you are here in Atlanta and can maybe provide a little bit more information, as a private pilot yourself, as to what type of aircraft we're talking about. A Cessna 310.

MILES O'BRIEN, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: A Cessna 310, Heidi, is a light twin engine airplane which -- its original design goes back to the mid '50s. There are obviously many versions and iterations of it over the years.

It's a six seat airplane. The weight without fuel is about 3,300 pounds. This is not a high performance twin engine. It's the kind of twin engine airplane you might use for training, for example.

Now, one thing to -- a couple of things to note. First of all, it's quite evident from looking at this scene here, at this very dramatic scene, that this airplane had a lot of fuel on board. So we're unclear what they were doing. I don't know the nature of the mission. But it appears that they had a lot of fuel.

The second thing to think about is that report of smoke in the cockpit, which apparently came from the pilots as they declared this emergency. That's a very difficult emergency to contend with, as you can imagine.

Was there an electrical failure of one thing?

That's one thing that you would think about. But, secondly it obviously makes it very difficult for the pilot to see, perhaps breathe. You're choking. It may be very difficult to control an airplane.

Combine that with, perhaps, the loss of an engine, whatever the case may be, and you start looking at some of the things that the investigators will be looking at in this case.

COLLINS: Yes, no question about that. And usually we talk almost immediately about weather conditions when we see something like this.

But as you're looking at these pictures with me now live, it's a very -- it looks to be a very calm, still day, very sunny. Difficult to know, as you say, at least at this point, whether or not that plane was taking off or landing. But a full fuel tank might be because, as you said, of a training mission. Maybe doing some practice landings or who knows at this point.

But, boy, the damage is -- is pretty incredible, as you can see on the ground there.

O'BRIEN: Well, one of the most difficult and dangerous forms of training in aviation is multi-engine training, because what they do, what an instructor will do to a student is take an engine out of the picture -- in other words, kill an engine.

And an aircraft like this, which doesn't have the most powerful engines in the world, it takes a lot of pilot proficiency to properly handle those situations. You really have to be on your toes in that situation. We don't know that that's what was going on in this case, whether it was training. But, in any case, on these small, light twin engine aircraft, if you lose an engine, you really have to be on your toes.

Having said all of that, the first indication we got is that there was smoke in the cockpit, some sort of radio call from the pilot.

But, you know, in these cases, when it's very early on, you have to consider all the parameters.

But I certainly would say, in this case, you had beautiful weather there this morning.

COLLINS: Yes. No question about that. And just to give a tiny bit more information, you're hearing smoke in the cockpit. We heard that that call came into the tower about 8:35 this morning -- alert one, you know, telling us that, obviously, there is some sort of trouble with this aircraft. And then, very shortly after that, it jumped up to alert three, meaning that the crash is imminent. The plane is going down, basically -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Yes. And, you know, I think it's fairly fair clear to say here that this was probably an airplane that was going between two airports. It had a lot of fuel. As you say, I don't know what stage of the flight they were in when they declared this emergency, but smoke in the cockpit is something that has tremendous implications. It's a very dangerous situation for a flight crew.

COLLINS: And I think people -- sometimes when we're talking about these smaller aircraft and civilian aircraft -- they think, you know, because it's not a jet, these planes have great glide ability.

Not always the case, as you talk about possibly killing an engine and trying to learn a little bit about that glide.

But, again, way too early to tell any of this. I'm sure investigators will back on the scene very shortly, as we continue to follow it here.

We're going to take a quick break.

Miles, thanks so much for that.

If you'll stick around, we'd sure appreciate it.

Back in a moment right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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