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CNN NEWSROOM

Iraq Progress Report Due Today; Parents Suspected in Missing Girl Case Return to England; Explosions in Mexico

Aired September 10, 2007 - 08:59   ET

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


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Heidi Collins.

Tony Harris is off today.

Watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on Monday morning, September 10th.

Here's what's on the rundown.

The president's top military man in Iraq reporting for duty on Capitol Hill. The state of the so-called surge.

On second thought -- Senator Larry Craig trying to get out of a guilty plea today. It's related to a men's room sex sting.

And trapped in a wrecked car for a week. Incredible survival story, in the NEWSROOM.

The Iraq war at a crossroads on Capitol Hill. The war's top American commander delivering a long-awaited assessment and facing a lot of skepticism.

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr sets the stage for us this morning.

Barbara, what are we expecting to hear today from General Petraeus?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think everyone is going to watching for those key words, Heidi, what General Petraeus will recommend about when the first troops can come back home from Iraq.

There's about 160,000 U.S. troops there. Thirty thousand of them are the so-called surge forces, the extra forces that have been in Iraq since February. When can some of those 30,000 start coming home?

What everyone will be looking for is for General Petraeus' recommendations on when that first brigade, the first 4,000 or so forces, might be able to return to the United States. There's two schools of thought right now that he might recommend perhaps in the December-January time frame -- security is good enough right now that he can do without them, let them come home early, send that signal. The other school of thought is, no, he will wait and say they cannot come home until April.

April is a key month on the calendar, because no matter what, the surge begins to run out at that time. There aren't enough troops to keep it going past the spring of '08.

So everyone will be looking at the calendar when he starts to talk -- the December-January time frame, and then the April time frame. It's all about when those first fist troops will be able to come home -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, it sure is.

Meanwhile, Barbara, Iran obviously still a source of concern for military officials in Iraq. Tell us the latest on that.

STARR: Well, absolutely, because no matter how much progress has been made in the security picture on the ground in Iraq, what General Petraeus will also talk about, and he is talking about it a lot lately, is Iran's involvement there. The U.S. strongly believes that Iran is continuing to smuggle weapons and fighters into Iraq.

So what are they doing? The strategy that's now emerging is they're building -- the U.S. is building a number of checkpoints along the border crossings out to the east to check all vehicles and traffic coming into Iraq from Iran.

Those checkpoints will be monitored by both Iraqi and coalition forces. But once you put coalition forces out in that remote area, you have to have a base for them. And now the U.S. is going to start building a small base out in that region to house and maintain the U.S. forces that will be in that very troubled border area -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Wow. Interesting. All right.

CNN's Barbara Starr for us this morning from the Pentagon.

Barbara, thanks. I'm sure we'll check back later with you.

Meanwhile, some background for you this morning on General David Petraeus.

He took command of multinational forces in Iraq in February of this year. In June, 2004, the general was charged with training the new Iraqi army. He held that position for more than a year. And during the 2003 Iraq invasion, he led the 101st Airborne Division, his first combat assignment.

General Petraeus also viewed as a scholar-soldier. He's a 1974 graduate of West Point. He holds a doctorate in international relations form Princeton University.

Count on CNN throughout the day to bring you the best coverage and analysis of the Iraq war progress report. And even when you're not in front of the television, you can still watch the hearings live on your computer. You just go to CNN.com. You will find live coverage throughout the day. On the ground today in Iraq, indications of the dangers that remain. Word of seven U.S. troops killed in an apparent accident near Baghdad. U.S. officials tell CNN the service members were killed when their vehicle rolled over. And it does not appear any hostile fire was involved.

Also today, reports of another soldier's death. The military says a member of Task Force Lightning was hit by rocket fire during a patrol in northern Iraq.

A new legal bid this morning by Senator Larry Craig. He wants to try to undo his plea in a sex sting. The Idaho Republican pleaded guilty last month to disorderly conduct. He was accused of soliciting sex, arrested by an undercover police officer in a Minneapolis airport men's room. Craig's attorney, Billy Martin, filing documents today to try to reverse that plea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILLY MARTIN, LARRY CRAIG'S ATTORNEY: I think the senator had just gone under a tremendous interview with "The Idaho Statesman" where he was under investigation for being gay. They were walking around Washington and other cities with photographs in gay bars. They were embarrassing him.

He had just gone through an interview where he put to sleep, put to rest any argument that he was gay. And they were going to publish this article. So he stepped in this bathroom shortly after that interview. And I know the pressure and the stress, as well as the panic from what this could do, did not have him thinking clearly. And he waved his constitutional rights, and we're asking that that be reversed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Just over a week ago, Craig announced his intention to resign from the Senate at the end of this month. Days later he told Senate leaders he would remain in office if he could clear his name. Legal experts say it is a long shot.

Flags lowered to half staff in Provo, Utah, today in memory of a college student. The body of Camille Cleverley was found at the bottom of a 200-foot cliff yesterday. The site was near a popular canyon waterfall. That's where authorities had centered much of their 10-day search.

Cleverley had been scheduled to start her senior year at Brigham Young University last week. At a memorial last night, her parents thanked everyone involve in the search.

Investigators are trying to determine how Cleverley fell. They're not ruling out foul play.

Missing girl mystery update. Portuguese police hand over the Madeleine McCann case to prosecutors today. Her parents, still considered suspects but no longer in Portugal. CNN's Phil Black explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They left without saying a word. One hundred and twenty-nine days since their daughter disappeared, Kate and Gerry McCann drove out of the town from where they have directed the Find Madeleine campaign.

A spokesperson said they did so with the consent of Portuguese authorities. But even in their home country, Kate and Gerry will remain aguido, official suspects in the police investigation.

(on camera): Is it unusual for an aguido to be allowed to leave the country?

OLIVEIRA TRINADE, LAWYER: No, it's not unusual, and it happens a lot.

BLACK (voice over): Criminal lawyer Oliveira Trinade says the status of aguido applies for eight months. For that time, even in Britain, the McCanns must obey the Portuguese law of judicial secrecy. It is illegal for them to talk about the investigation.

TRINADE: Anywhere in this world they still and they must remain silent about the facts. They cannot give the facts to anyone else.

BLACK: Prosecutors did not seek a court order forcing Kate and Gerry to stay in Portugal. But, at any time, they could ask for one, insisting on their return.

TRINADE: If necessary, the prosecutor or the police will then call them to be questioned again, if necessary, in Portugal.

BLACK (on camera): Portuguese lawyers say it is possible the police will complete their investigation without the McCanns having to come back here. But if one or both is charged and ordered to stand trial, they will be required to attend.

(voice over): The McCanns' announcement that they were leaving came as a surprise after earlier insisting they would stay in Praia da Luz.

CARLA RODRIGUES, PORTUGUESE JOURNALIST: It's sudden (ph) and it's strange for maybe -- for the Portuguese community here in Praia da Luz. In less than 48 hours, the McCanns are considered suspects and they are leaving Portugal, they are going back to the U.K.

BLACK: The first official aguido to be named in this case, a British man, has yet to be either charged or cleared. The McCanns insist they had nothing to do with their daughter's disappearance, but clearing the suspicion that now hangs over them could take sometime yet.

Phil Black, CNN, Praia da Luz, Portugal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: No welcome mat in Pakistan for the country's former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. After seven years of exile, he returned home today. But after his plane arrived in Islamabad from London, he was put on another plane bound for Saudi Arabia.

Then violent clashes between Sharif's supporters and police. Sharif was convicted of tax evasion and treason after President Pervez Musharraf seized power eight years ago. Sharif agreed to 10 years in exile, but last month, Pakistan's supreme court lifted the exile order.

A symbol of hatred found hanging on a college campus. The investigation and the outrage.

Also, a missing teen's incredible survival story. Trapped for a week in an overturned car, finally able to crawl out to safety.

And a pain in the neck sends Laura Bush into surgery. Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen updates the first lady's condition ahead right here in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: The search for billionaire pilot Steve Fossett now in its second week. The focus, a 50-mile radius around the runway near Minden, Nevada. That's where Fossett took off in a single-engine plane last Monday. Rescue crews have seesawed between hope and disappointment. A citing of wreckage reported over the weekend turned out to be a false alarm. More than 200 rescuers and some two dozen aircraft have taken part in the air and ground search efforts.

An amazing story of survival. Did you hear about this? A missing teen finally found, injured, disoriented, but alive.

CNN's Kathleen Koch has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A deep ravine just a stone's throw from a major highway, that's where police found the overturned car where missing 18-year-old Bowie State University student Julian McCormick had been trapped for a week. He was last seen September 1st on his way to pick up his girlfriend. Finally, McCormick managed to free himself, telling family he crawled through a creek bed, under a bridge, and up an embankment to a road, where Saturday two women spotted him.

LEIGH ANN HESS, SPOTTED INJURED TEEN: I ran up to him and I said, "Are you OK? What happened?" And he said, "I got in a car accident."

I said, "Hold on. You're going to be OK. We're going to have an ambulance come." And I ran up and I flagged my mom, yes, get them to come, get them to come, get them to come.

KOCH: The disoriented teenager asked what day it was.

HESS: He did have a movie ticket in his pocket or something that he gave one of the observers and said this is the last thing he had remembered seeing.

KOCH: The date on the ticket, September 1st. Police responded immediately.

LT. ROXANNE BROWN-ANKNEY, UNITED STATES PARK POLICE: They found a young gentleman suffering from cuts, abrasions, some burns, dehydration.

KOCH: McCormick's aunt says he told his family he survived by dipping his shoe into the creek and eating what fish he could catch while he worked to tear the seatbelt. Police confirm it was evident from the crash scene McCormick had been trapped in the car for days. The teenager is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

PEGGY MCCORMICK, MOTHER: He said, "I love you, mom. I love you, mom." I was so scared.

KOCH: Worried friends had created a Facebook page and were headed to a Saturday night vigil for McCormick when they got the news.

EMILY SPRINGER, FRIEND: At first I kind of thought it was a joke. But then, you know, she said he was OK. So, I came over here as fast as I could.

MCCORMICK: Julian is well. He is still having medical treatment. We are just so happy.

KOCH: His family says McCormick should be released from the hospital in a few days,

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Unreal.

First lady Laura Bush is recovering this morning from neck surgery. Doctors operated Saturday to relieve pain caused by a pinched nerve.

Our medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is here now to talk a little bit more about this.

We've all heard of it, but probably not as familiar with what it really is.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A pinched nerve is what it sounds like. It's -- things are pinching on the nerve, and so there's pain, and people feel pins and needles. And the surgery that Mrs. Bush had, the White House says, was a success. It lasted two and a half hours at George Washington University Hospital. What doctors did is they enlarged the passageway where the nerve sits near the spinal column to remove pressure from the nerves.

Now, the first lady has no public events today. And her recuperation time is not clear because that varies from patient to patient. And it's not exactly clear how Mrs. Bush got the pinched nerve in the first place. But doctors did say that it was aggravated when she went hiking in Utah this past spring.

COLLINS: OK. Now, I have not heard of having surgery on a pinched nerve. I'm sure it's happened before, but this -- that's not the only option.

COHEN: Oh, no. It's not the only option at all. And, in fact, we're told that Mrs. Bush tried several other options before she decided to have surgery.

A lot of patients just get by with physical therapy, or physical therapy along with pain medication and rest. Sometimes it does come to this. Sometimes some people -- none of that works and they have to have surgery.

COLLINS: Yes.

Question two, are there risks though?

COHEN: There are risks. There are risks...

COLLINS: And I imagine in that area, there's a lot of stuff going on.

COHEN: Yes. Right, you have to be very careful. You have to be very careful.

One of the things that doctors are careful about is they want to make sure that they don't cause a leak of spinal fluid. That is a problem. And so that's one of the things doctors try to avoid.

And, of course, with any surgery, there is always a risk that something is going to go wrong with the anesthesia or that there might be an infection. And some people after they have this surgery have more pain, but most people do quite well after it.

COLLINS: It is so painful.

COHEN: Yes. I have heard that it's really terrible.

COLLINS: It is. Lots of massaging. It's kind of making me go like this right now.

COHEN: Yes.

COLLINS: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks for that. Appreciate it.

On patrol in Iraq, soldiers speaking out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are in a leadership position from senator to president, you should have to come over here and live with the soldiers on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: U.S. troops on the ground offering their own assessment of the mission in Iraq.

Rooftop landing -- a quick-thinking pilot keeps his troubled plane off of the ground.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Ali Velshi in New York, "Minding Your Business".

Being unfit, it could be unhealthy. It's not a whole lot of fun. But now it could start costing you money at work.

I'll tell you why when we come back in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: A pretty unusual landing in Columbia, South Carolina. Take a look at this.

A small Cessna coming to rest on a warehouse roof. Engine trouble shortly after takeoff forced the emergency landing. The plane clipped the power line. Thankfully, nobody was seriously injured.

Companies pushing their workers to improve their health through so-called corporate wellness programs, while penalizing those workers with high health risks.

Ali Velshi is here "Minding Your Business" for us this morning.

Good morning to you. Had your had your coffee yet this morning?

VELSHI: I have had my coffee. But -- and I've got to say, it probably wouldn't hurt for someone to sort of force me into a bit of a wellness program. We all know it's good for you. And it's pretty common that companies have, like, gyms or...

COLLINS: Right.

VELSHI: ... a subsidized program for gyms.

Now, Starbucks, which is actually well regarded for the way it treats its employee, even its part-timers in terms of its benefits, has had this program at its Seattle headquarters for associates, as they call them, where it's not just a gym or gym membership, it's actually a supervised training and nutrition program. It's eight weeks long, about half an hour a day. And recent participants have lost about six pounds over the eight-week period.

COLLINS: Wow.

VELSHI: You're welcome to -- yes, you're welcome to continue if you like. And it's generally worked. It teaches you how to eat better and work out, and the whole thing.

COLLINS: Do they tell you not o drink coffee?

VELSHI: No, they don't. Apparently, that stimulates your metabolism. It works for me.

COLLINS: It works well.

VELSHI: The issue here is that that's, you know, often a good trend, because these days, if you can keep an employee healthier, they miss less days of work. And as we are more productive on a daily basis, missing a day of work is more costly than it was 10 years ago.

The other thing, of course, is that, Heidi, it costs you less, costs the company less on their insurance premiums if their employees are generally healthier. And a fitter, healthier employee is likely to translate into one who uses less health care, right? It makes sense.

COLLINS: Yes.

VELSHI: So, the problem is that in some case, we've seen this trend go much further. First of all, not voluntary programs, but mandatory problems -- mandatory programs. Or the fact that some companies are actually penalizing employees who are unfit with higher premiums in their insurance coverage or they're giving deductions to those who are more fit.

COLLINS: Is that legal?

VELSHI: Well, as of July 1st, there's a new law that sort of clarifies what you can and can't do.

First of all, if somebody has a disability, that doesn't count. You can't -- you can't violate state and federal laws about disabilities. But, yes, you can actually have a 20 percent difference in insurance premium rates based on things like body mass index or other fitness measures.

We know, for instance, that smokers pay more. We've accepted that. But fundamentally, if I'm a little heavier or more fit, that's going to start to affect how companies charge you, how they pass on the care of health care and insurance to you, the worker.

So it's a very interesting trend. Not clear where this is going.

COLLINS: Yes.

VELSHI: I imagine there will be some challenges to some companies. Critics say companies are just gathering too much information about you and it's a way to weed out more expensive workers because you eventually pass on so much of that insurance cost to them that they say they're going to work somewhere else.

COLLINS: Yes. And anything about pre-existing conditions and that stuff...

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Right. It's a very complicated discussion.

I think the idea of wellness at work, great idea. We have to be a little cautious when we start to now penalize people for their health care. But companies are saying health care costs are so high, Heidi, that we have got to do something.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, that's a whole other discussion.

VELSHI: Yes.

COLLINS: Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Thanks so much, Ali. Nice to see you.

VELSHI: Yes.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: I'm Aneesh Raman in Baghdad, where the recent surge in U.S. troops is described as a military means to a political end. But is there a political end at all in sight?

That story coming up in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And a symbol of hatred found hanging on a U.S. college. The investigation and the outrage.

Neo-Nazis in the Jewish state of Israel? Police say they have broken up a ring of young people accused of anti-Semitic attacks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Good morning once again, everybody. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Heidi Collins. Tony Harris is off today.

I want to give you this information just in now to the CNN NEWSROOM, some video that we are showing you here, northern Mexico. Take a look at this.

Apparently, a truck carrying about 25 tons of dynamite exploded today. Twenty-three people were killed, about 140 other people wounded. This is all according to the governor of the area there. It happened at a factory site near Monclova. That's about 125 miles northwest of Monterrey, if you happen to know the area.

Also something interesting and sad here. Three Mexican reporters who are at the scene were among those killed in all of this. We're not sure of the cause of this blast, but obviously it is under investigation. Still, officials there on the ground are saying there really is no indication of foul play.

So, once again, this truck carrying a massive amount -- 25 tons of dynamite j just exploded in Northern Mexico. Twenty-three people dead, more than 140 injured.

We're going to continue to follow this and bring you any new information just as soon as we get it here.

Also, in the headlines this hour -- the case for war in Washington cause for concern in Baghdad. This week could shape the future of U.S. involvement in Iraq.

Aneesh Raman is live in Baghdad for us this morning -- hey there, Aneesh. General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker -- they have expressed disappointment in the Iraqi government.

What does it really mean, this hearing, for Iraq's leaders?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hey, Heidi

They are likely bracing right now for heavy criticism over their failure to find political compromise. There are a huge number of outstanding issues this the Iraqi government has yet to resolve -- de- Baathification, oil revenue sharing, provincial elections, just to name a few.

Leaders from the five main parties, at the end of August, said they had reached a new deal, a new compromise. But yet parliament has been in session now going into its second week and we have seen no action at all.

The other problem -- Iraq's prime minister, Nuri Al-Maliki. He addressed parliament today. He has seen his support, Heidi, vanish over the past few months. Nearly half of his cabinet has either resigned or it's boycotting. But the problem is, there's no credible alternative to him. His Shia Dawa Party is the only party acceptable to all in parliament. So the impasse right now is a situation where you have a prime minister with really very little support but with no alternative. And without calling for new parliamentary elections, the million dollar question is how will this government function?

And no one has the answer yet -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, so many questions, too, especially on this very day, when we're going to hear from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.

And Nuri Al-Maliki, though, had said that the surge is working.

Any talk of that strategy changing any?

RAMAN: Yes. He's talked about a decrease in violence. He put it at 70 percent since we've seen this surge. Of course, we've seen Iraq really segregate itself, especially in Baghdad, in the Sunni and Shia areas. So the Sunni-Shia violence has decreased accordingly.

But the Iraqi government does have some concerns over the U.S. military strategy, which has been dividing the Sunni tribes, in Al- Anbar Province, for example, against Al Qaeda.

The issue is that these new tribes haven't yet been brought into the Iraqi security force fold. One example, in Fallujah, a sheik who essentially controls that area, backed by the U.S., has 3,500 fighters. Only a fourth of them are part of Iraq's security forces.

So if the Iraqi government doesn't speed up the process to bring these fighters in, Iraq runs the risk of having a growing number of Sunni militias. And that's something the Shia government is very wary of -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, I imagine so.

Aneesh Raman for us live in Baghdad this morning.

Aneesh, thank you.

Now we want to get some background information on Ambassador Ryan Crocker. He became the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in March of this year. Before that, he served as U.S. ambassador to Pakistan. After Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003, Crocker helped to set up a group of local Iraqi leaders who assisted in running the country until the interim government was established.

He served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. That was from August 2001 to May of 2003. And he's been ambassador to Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon. Ambassador Crocker received his undergraduate degree in 1971 and an honorary law degree in 2001.

You can count on CNN throughout the day to bring you best coverage and analysis of the Iraq War progress report. And even when you're not in front of your television, you can still watch the hearings live on your computer. Just go to CNN.com. You will live coverage throughout the day.

Jacqui Jeras joining us now with an update on Tropical Depression Gabrielle. She's just about a memory.

JACQUI JERAS, ATS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, pretty much already.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: This morning, police are investigating a hate crime at the University of Maryland -- A noose found hanging in a tree.

We have the story from our affiliate, WJLA.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CONNIE ILOH, JUNIOR: It really is upsetting.

JACKIE CONGEDO, WJLA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): University of Maryland junior Connie Iloh is making sure everything is in place for Telac (ph) Terp weekend kickoff here at the Nymburu Cultural Center on campus, just feet away from where police say a noose was hanging days ago.

AMINA DANIELS, SOPHOMORE: Every time I walk past the Nymburu now, I feel kind of like a little scared because I look up and I'm kind of like more cautious.

CONGEDO: Students who saw it hanging from this tree say it was there for at least a week before it was taken down on Friday.

ANNE CARSWELL, NYMBURU ASSOC. DIRECTOR: A student informed me on Thursday evening around about 5: 30 p.m. That they had seen it down the stairwell.

CONGEDO: Nymburu Associate Director Anne Carswell is also the faculty adviser to "The Black Explosion," a student newspaper on campus. She told newspaper staff about it and they notified police, who then sent a crime report to the campus community.

MEGAN SENSENBAUGH, SOPHOMORE: I think it's disgusting that somebody would do that. This is Maryland. Like, if you can't deal with the diversity, don't come to this school, because it's full of diversity.

CONGEDO: Police received this photo of the noose and they believe it to be authentic. Many students we talk to think it's nothing to be concerned about, but Connie hopes everyone on campus takes it seriously.

ILOH: The campus community as a whole can rally behind this to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Let's go ahead and get a little bit more information on this now.

Paul Dillon is a spokesman for the University of Maryland police.

He is joining us by phone.

Thanks for being with us, Paul.

Tell us the latest in the investigation.

PAUL DILLON, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND POLITICS SPOKESPERSON: Sure.

We are busy interviewing witnesses and reviewing video, trying to develop a lead, to ascertain who -- what persons put this noose up on the tree between the student union and the cultural center.

COLLINS: Are you looking at cameras or -- this was outside of the Stamp Union?

Was that right? DILLON: Yes. It was actually closer to the Stamp Union, but the Stamp Union is right next door to the Nymburu Cultural Center. Yes, we have about 250 cameras that we monitor 24-7 on campus and we do have several cameras in that area that we'll be reviewing.

What we're trying to do right now is get a better grasp on the time line of when this noose was first put up. There are reports that it was -- we know it was at least up on Thursday and there are some reports that it might have been up for more than a week or so.

COLLINS: Yes. That was the story that we just ran here, that it possibly had been up for a week. It seems strange no one noticed it. And I know in the very beginning of all of this, there were some questions about whether or not it was a noose.

DILLON: Well, I mean that's -- if you've seen the photographs, it's a perception thing.

COLLINS: Yes.

DILLON: The noose was actually hanging 12 feet in the air. And it was very small, about three inches in diameter. So it might have gone unnoticed for several days by individuals.

But, you know, members of our community were offended by it. They perceived it as a hateful message. And that's what we go by here at the university. We must go by how it makes our community members feel and that's why we decided to classify it as a hate crime and begin an investigation and notification of our campus community immediately.

COLLINS: Yes. I should tell you, that's my alma mater. I went to journalism school there. I was a Terrapin myself. Talk a little bit, if you could, about race relations on the campus.

DILLON: Race relations -- I think the university has a strong history -- President Mote is a leader in that area across the country. The university school has several programs in place that deals with race relations. And incidents like this sort of test our system for us. And as the university evolves in the next few days, as we have meetings with student leaders and other groups within the campus, we'll try to get a handle on how this is making -- making people feel. And the healing process is going to be important. But it will really test the university's diversity and race relations. And I think the university has a very strong history and a strong reputation in that area.

COLLINS: And as I'm reading some of these other notes here, you guys are taking this really seriously. I mean you've got the civil rights unit from the FBI working on this.

DILLON: Yes, we've -- we reached out to them. Our chief of police contacted the special agent in charge and they've offered their assistance. And we -- we are the lead agency in this investigation. But the FBI, if we need their assistance -- whether it's processing evidence, helping with interviews, analyzing video -- there is a resource for us. And we're very appreciative of the FBI making that offer.

COLLINS: You know, we did show some of the comments from some kids on campus. I wonder if you can share a little bit more about what the reaction was, both from white kids and black?

DILLON: Yes, I mean I've received several e-mails and phone calls over the weekend. I was speaking with several students of both races that were expressing their outrage. They were happy that the university was taking it seriously and acted so quickly. And they were pushing us to investigate this fully and try to identify the perpetrators as quickly as we can.

COLLINS: OK. Paul Dillon of the University of Maryland Police Department.

We appreciate your time very much.

We'll follow this one and check back in with you.

Thank you.

A second barrier to keep terrorists out of cockpits -- does it make sense?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. BOB HESSELBEIN, AIRLINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION: This is an absolute no-brainer. Of all the things we could do, the most cost- effective thing we could do right now is to put this device in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Then why aren't the barriers required?

And a bumpy landing for dozens of Danish passengers. Boy, I guess so. Amazing pictures of a rough arrival.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: A scary ride for passengers aboard a Scandinavian Airlines plane. Watch this landing now in Denmark. Well, the belly landing, but boy, that was pretty rough. The plane's landing gear plain old collapses. A propeller broke off, flying into the passenger cabin. All 73 passengers and four crew members were able to get out quickly. Eleven people were taken to local hospitals, but no reports of serious injuries.

Supporters say it is a second line of defense against terrorists getting into the cockpit.

Then why aren't the barriers mandatory?

CNN's Jeanne Meserve reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The reinforced cockpit door -- an effective way to keep terrorists from taking over a flight -- unless the door is open.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: And now that plane, while the cabin door is open, is being defended by a beverage cart or by a flight attendant for the time it takes the crew to leave the cockpit to use the lavatory or to do a crew change. For the split second that that door is open, the entire cockpit is vulnerable to terrorists.

MESERVE: The hijacker of this Turkish Airlines flight last October exploited just such an opportunity -- rushing the cockpit when a stewardess opened the door to ask a question. A possible solution -- a second barrier at the front of the plane that can be closed when the cockpit door is open.

HESSELBEIN: Oh, this is an absolute no-brainer. Of all of the things we could do, the most cost-effective thing we could do right now is put this device in.

MESERVE: But the Transportation Security Administration has not made the barriers mandatory, even though it concluded in a 2005 report that they would offer greater security at a relatively low cost.

How much they cost is a question. Estimates range from $3,000 to $50,000 per plane. Some airlines have installed them voluntarily. But an industry group says they should not be required without a risk analysis to.

To pilots, the risks couldn't be more clear.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.

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COLLINS: Missing Maddie -- police in Portugal handing over their case to prosecutors today. Kate and Gerry McCann insisting they are innocent.

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Gerry MCCANN: We have played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter, Madeleine.

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COLLINS: What's next for the parents now that they are formal suspects in Madeleine's disappearance?

Neo-Nazis in the Jewish state of Israel. Police say they have broken up a ring of young people accused of anti-Semitic attacks. We'll tell you about it after a quick break.

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COLLINS: Israeli citizens accused of anti-Semitic attacks. Police say they've broke up a cell of neo-Nazis in Israel.

CNN's Atika Shubert reports.

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ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brutal attacks recorded on home video and set to music. Police say it is a bizarre case, the first of its kind -- a home grown neo-Nazi gang in the Jewish state of Israel. Police say they confiscated this video and other photos from suspects' homes, finding also explosives, weapons and Nazi propaganda material. Police say they have been investigating the group for more than a year.

MICKEY ROSENFELD, ISRAELI POLICE SPOKESPERSON: They planned and were involved in carrying out attacks against innocent people -- Jewish people wearing yarmulkes, Asians, foreigners. And they had strong ties with neo-Nazi cells overseas, as well.

SHUBERT: Police have arrested eight alleged members of the gang, bringing them to court on Sunday. They covered their faces, but at least one remained defiant. All are between the ages of 16 and 21, all Israelis -- immigrants from the former Soviet Union. They came to Israel by the Law of Return -- a policy that grants citizenship to any Jew that chooses to immigrate to Israel. That includes anyone who has Jewish parents or grandparents, even though they themselves may not necessarily be Jewish.

Now at least one Israeli lawmaker is demanding the suspects have their Israeli citizenship revoked. Another is threatening to change the Law of Return, allowing only Jews and not their non-Jewish kin to immigrate.

But some Israelis dismiss the group as nothing more than a violent, misguided group of teens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beating up homeless people -- they're thugs. You know, I don't -- I don't take it seriously.

SHUBERT: But as these pictures play across televisions nationwide, Israelis are left to wonder how it could happen here, of all places.

Akita Shubert, CNN, Jerusalem.

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COLLINS: The unthinkable -- a truck carrying dynamite blows up. Many people killed and injured in the thunderous explosion.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, where we are just a few hours away from highly anticipated testimony about the state of the war in Iraq.

But will it have the kind of impact politically that people thought?

I'll have more on that coming up in THE NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And on patrol in Iraq -- soldiers speaking out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

If you are in a leadership position, from Senator to president, you should have to come over here and live with the soldiers on the ground.

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COLLINS: U.S. troops on the ground offering their own assessment of the mission in Iraq.

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COLLINS: We want to let you know about a little pod cast that we do here. Every day after the show, we record a bunch of stories for you to be able to watch and download to your iPod. It's pretty fun. It's cool. And a lot of people are doing it. You should check it out.

The CNN pod cast. You can find it on CNN.com.

Meanwhile, the debate over Iraq heating up in Washington today.

What do the soldiers doing the heavy lifting think about all of it?

CNN's Arwa Damon talked with troops on the front line.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A vehicle stopped on the left side, single (INAUDIBLE). And (INAUDIBLE) on the right side (INAUDIBLE).

STAFF SGT. ANTONIO GONZALEZ, U.S. ARMY: And if you don't come out here, you know, then you really -- you have no clue. You know, they don't understand what it is to drive down the road and kind of wonder if you're going to get blown up.

STAFF SGT. DAVID JULIAN, U.S. ARMY: It's a miserable hell. I mean it's hot and dirty. As you can see, we don't have palaces as some of our national leadership likes to make it out that we have. We don't have them. You know, usually it's 15 guys in a room that shouldn't be sleeping five. Our A.C. Is pumped in through vents or windows. Boards on our windows. You know, it's ridiculous.

We tell (INAUDIBLE), you know it's not -- it's not all (INAUDIBLE) and glory. It's -- there's a lot of hard (INAUDIBLE).

I think so. I think it's just, you know, you go downtown and you've got 15 kids that are running up to your Humvee and telling you how much they like you and, you know, running right up to you like -- like you're a king. And it makes it worth it to know that you might provide a future for those kids.

GONZALEZ: I just think that they're on a -- they're on kind of a precipice and they can kind of go either way. And we're hoping that what we're doing out here is trying to keep them all on our side rather than have them go into (INAUDIBLE) and chaos.

(INAUDIBLE) to be patient and that we, you know, we all -- we want -- we definitely want a fast -- the situation -- a resolution here. But, you know, it's going to take a lot of time -- a lot more time than we thought and, you know, but it's -- and that's fine. (INAUDIBLE).

STAFF SGT. HARRY THOMAS MORGAN, U.S. ARMY: It's my personal belief that if you're in a leadership position -- from senator to president -- you should have to come over here and live in the facilities on the ground, not necessarily in the Green Zone, where, you know, we have the most luxury.

PFC TYLER NORTON, U.S. ARMY: I think it would be hard for anybody who hasn't done it to really understand it. My mother sent me an e- mail the other day asking me, you know, what is it like?

What's your job like, you know, day in and day out?

And just -- I didn't really -- I started writing back and I didn't really know what to say. And more than anything, there's almost like of daily sense of futility that, you know, no matter how many missions we run or how many people we capture or anything like that, nothing changes.

PFC MICHAEL OFFIDANI, U.S. ARMY: I just went home. I just got back off of leave. My wife gave birth to my little girl, so I was real happy about that. And now I come back here and it's just -- I have 11 more months to go, so it's just going to drag -- drag on.

NORTON: Too much American blood has been shed, I guess, as far as I'm concerned.

JULIAN: I think we came into a country and, you know, we've overthrown a government and we're trying to rebuild a government. And I'm afraid that, you know, enough of their own people are going to take power and they're going to -- they're going to pull us out and basically let the (OBSCENE WORD OMITTED) the world. You know, that's -- a lot -- millions of good people are just (INAUDIBLE) and it's kind of a shame.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

COLLINS: Right now, there are about 168,000 U.S. troops deployed to Iraq.

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