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CIA Tapes Destroyed; Early Retirement for Marine Dog; Law for Trapped Travelers; Free Shipping to Iraq; Playing Santa at St. Jude

Aired December 21, 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 CORRESPONDENT: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Heidi Collins. Watch events come into the newsroom live on this Friday, December 21st. Here's what's on the run down now. Tapes destroyed. The CIA under investigation. Now White House lawyers head to court.

HARRIS: Fighting mad in New Orleans. Police pulling out tasers trying to stop residents angry over a new housing plan.

COLLINS: Plus, Kevin Everett back on his feet. Now ready to return to the scene of his devastating injury. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at his amazing recovery right here in the newsroom.

HARRIS: And at the top of this hour, the Bush administration in court and under oath. A federal judge wants to know more about the CIA's destruction of videotapes. On those tapes, terror suspects being interrogated. CNN Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena has more. Kelli, good morning.

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. The key question before the court this morning is whether the CIA violated a court order when it destroyed those videotapes. Now, the Justice Department as you know is conducting its own investigation and really didn't want this court proceeding to move forward, but the judge was not swayed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA: Judge Henry Kennedy did not elaborate. He simply ordered the government to appear before him this morning. Justice Department officials had warned that a court proceeding could complicate or even disrupt its ongoing investigation into the destruction of CIA tapes. Apparently, Judge Kennedy didn't buy it.

TIM HEAPHY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: If it goes the next step and Judge Kennedy allows the plaintiffs in this civil suit to subpoena, representatives of the CIA who have personal knowledge about this destruction, that is a very damaging fact for the department.

ARENA: Back in 2005, Kennedy ordered the government to safeguard all evidence of possible torture or mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Now with word the CIA destroyed interrogation tapes, some question whether the government violated that order. The Bush administration says it did not. That is because al Qaeda operatives who were taped were being held in secret locations in 2005, not at Guantanamo Bay. David Remes who represents several detainees at Gitmo, requested today's hearing.

DAVID REMES, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: As far as the government is concerned, it wants to keep the foxes in charge of the hen house. It only wants the Justice Department and the CIA to look into this question of document destruction.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA: Many legal experts expect today to be largely a fact- finding mission, Tony. So the judge can decide whether more hearings are necessary or not.

HARRIS: Kelli, the CIA is asking the Justice Department to investigate a John Kiriakou. Who he is, and how is he central to this case?

ARENA: Well, first of all, Justice is not commenting but official say the CIA has sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department asking it to investigate whether John Kiriakou, who is a former CIA official, disclosed classified information.

Now Kiriakou he appeared here on CNN and on other news outlets. He spoke about how al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida was captured and water-boarded. Some would say that is divulging classified information, so CIA asking DOJ to investigate.

HARRIS: Justice Correspondent, Kelli Arena for us this morning. Kelli, great to see you. Thanks.

ARENA: Good to see you.

COLLINS: Prayer time turns to tragedy. A bomb detonating inside a mosque in Pakistan. The explosive packed with ball bearings and nails for maximum casualties. At least 50 people are confirmed dead. Dozens more are wounded. Police tell CNN they are not sure if it was a suicide attack or a bomb planted inside the mosque.

They believe it targeted a former interior minister. He survived an assassination attempt eight months ago. He was inside the mosque today near his home but was not injured. The prime suspect Taliban or al Qaeda.

HARRIS: And, here at home, police pull out the tasers and pepper spray, angry protesters in New Orleans trying to fight their way into City Hall. CNN's Keith Oppenheim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Security. Enforce our rules.

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even for the volatile city politics of New Orleans, this was no regular city council meeting. It got wild on the inside, and wild on the outside. With as many as 200 protesters furious they couldn't get in. Police fired pepper spray and used stun guns. In all, 15 people were arrested, mostly for disturbing the peace.

SUPT. WARREN RILEY, NEW ORLEANS POLICE: It was clear that there were people there that had one goal in mind, and that was to be disruptive, to be disobedient, and in some cases, to actually start a physical confrontation.

OPPENHEIM: It was all an emotional buildup from a housing crisis created by Hurricane Katrina. The city council was deciding whether to demolish four public housing developments, more than 4,500 units, in their place, HUD, the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the city, will subsidize new mixed income housing.

Some residents and protesters argued the demolition will essentially kick out the poor and replace blacks with whites.

TRACIE WASHINGTON, ATTORNEY: It's a race issue because the public housing developments were 100 percent black, and these are the people who are not being allowed to return to the city.

OPPENHEIM: But supporters say the current projects are ridden with crime, that residents will get temporary housing. The council voted unanimously to tear down the buildings.

ARNIE FIELKOW, CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Not only are we going forward for the future, but we have safeguards in place in the interim that are going to allow us to make sure that HUD and HANO perform what they promised.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, (D) NEW ORLEANS: You heard lots of pain today, pain from Katrina that was voiced.

ARENA: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin tried to soothe his city. That may not be enough because protesters say they are not finished with this fight. Keith Oppenheim, CNN, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: College athletes, an attack and allegations of sexual assault. Police say the players were the actual victims here. Two women and a man are charged with attacking three University of North Carolina football players. It happened at an off-campus apartment.

Police say the players were tied up and attacked. At least two of the players were sexually assaulted. The three suspects appeared in court yesterday on multiple charges. Authorities think robbery was the motive.

HARRIS: Suspected, now confirmed. The National Weather Service says it was, in fact, a tornado that caused all that damage in Brookhaven, Mississippi. We were telling you about this story yesterday. It's breaking news as it was happening here.

The twister, part of a a powerful storm system that moved through the state. One man hurt when the tornado slammed into his home. At least three mobile homes destroyed, two others knocked off their foundation. That a mess.

COLLINS: Absolutely. Reynolds Wolf is standing by right now to give us a little more information not only about that, but also about -- what did I just see up on top there? Arctic Blast?

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: Updating you on that family of four rescued from the snowy California wilderness. 15-year-old Alexis Dominguez is still in the hospital. She is being treated for foot pain after suffering frostbite. Also we are getting a better understanding how she came to be lost with her father and two brothers. Here now is CNN's Dan Simon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three smiling children; the youngest, middle and oldest looking for a Christmas Tree, and spending some quality time with dad.

FREDERICK DOMINGUEZ, RESCUED FROM WILDERNESS: All in good spirits, still playing, joking like I was going to pick out this little tree.

SIMON: Not before long they settle on this tall spruce.

DOMINGUEZ: We found a tree we all agreed upon it.

SIMON: Each wants their picture with the prize. The time stamp on these photos shows it is just after 4:00 on Sunday afternoon. From here, they plan on hauling the tree back to their truck. But darkness approaches. The family gets lost. And the snowstorm moves in.

DOMINGUEZ: This is the first picture I took when it just started snowing and that was directly ahead of us, and you couldn't see your face in front -- your hand in front of your face.

SIMON: It's clear they're not going to make it out tonight so they find some shelter under a rock and some branches. The next morning they look surprisingly content. Perhaps because the fresh snowfall has made for breath-taking scenery but reality sets in.

DOMINGUEZ: If you look at that there, that is just what we were walking through forward.

SIMON: They're not going to make it out on their own so they look for some new shelter and find this tunnel underneath a bridge.

DOMINGUEZ: You know what? That tunnel saved our lives completely. That tunnel completely saved our lives, because it was the shelter from the storm.

SIMON: But the kids' feet are frozen. They would later say it was these make-shift socks cut from their father's T-shirt that made things a bit tolerable. JOSHUA DOMINGUEZ, RESCUED FROM WILDERNESS: We just all huddled up together and tried to stay as warm and out of the snow as we possibly could.

F. DOMINGUEZ: This is when my daughter had frost-bite and we noticed it. I told my son, rub her feet, rub her feet.

SIMON: From here there is a long gap in the photos until this. What they say is the greatest picture of all. The helicopter that brings them home.

J. DOMINGUEZ: We were all just happy, happy to be rescued.

SIMON: The family was found about two or three miles away from here. This gives you some idea in terms of the elements they were facing. Within a few hours, they were buried in several feet of snow and that is why they had to be rescued. Dan Simon, CNN, Inskip, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: What a story. Still to come, a hole in the kitchen floor linked to a cross-border tunnel used to smuggle pot.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Border tunnels keep turning up, the latest found in an Arizona home blocks away from customs. Tyler Wing of our affiliate KVOA has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TYLER WING, REPORTER, KVOA: 110 bundles of marijuana weighing more than 1,000 pounds seized from a drug tunnel inside of this Nogalis (ph) home. Border patrol agents alerted Santa Cruz county deputies to the find.

SHERIFF TONY ESTRADA, SANTA VRUZ, ARIZONA: They detected the odor of marijuana directly coming from this house.

WING: To gain entry agents had to bust through the front door. Burlap sacks found throughout the house show the magnitude of this drug smuggling operation. Once the warrant was served agents say it didn't take them long. They came back to the kitchen, pushed away the stove and that is when they found the tunnel.

ESTRADA: Probably about a 40 to 60 feet of tunnel from Mexico into the particular kitchen.

WING: The Santa Cruz county sheriff says the tunnel led from the kitchen under the road and connected with a drainage wash feeding into Mexico where more drugs were found.

ESTRADA: It's a little bigger than some of the other ones I think that have been discovered, and there appears to have a little storage area somewhere there so -- inside the tunnel. WING: Nobody was home at the time and authorities are investigating leads. Sheriffs say they will work closely with state and federal agents to figure out who is responsible.

ESTRADA: Obviously, it's got to be a big organization when you're talking about tunnels and you're talking about that much poundage of marijuana.

WING: Investigators estimate the street value of the drugs to be well over $500,000.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Well, it should be a very emotional Sunday in Buffalo. The Bills Kevin Everett, who suffered a devastating spinal cord injury earlier this season, may show up at his team's game against the New York Giants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK JAURON, BUFFALO BILLS HEAD COACH: To have him back and to see him -- and we've all seen the Sports illustrated pictures, but to have him back in the facility and to see him walk, and hopefully if he does come back and address his teammates, would be -- it would be a great -- it would be great. It would be just an unbelievable thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us now with details on Everett's remarkable comeback and some exclusive information on his treatment. All right. What is going on here? Because it seems like there are a lot of things being said and a lot of claims being thrown around.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Fist of all, it's going to be a great moment, there's no question about it. You saw those images like everyone else on September 9th when he crumbled to the ground after he got hit.

COLLINS: You kind of think, who cares as long as he is walking again.

GUPTA: Yes, and I think that's the real point. I think that is a good way to start this, Heidi. But, now the images which everyone are looking at and reveling in are these ones. Look at that, I mean he's walking with his girlfriend through the park. He's able to do exercises.

All the more dramatic, given that they thought that this man may never move again or walk again certainly. The question, really at the heart of this though is, why did he recover when so many others don't? I don't know that we will ever know the answer for sure to this, but a lot are pointing to this treatment known as hypothermia, which is cooling down the spinal cord and cooling down of the bloodstream.

What is so interesting is doctors think maybe that was the key to his recovery. But Doctor Gibbons, who is the neurosurgeon who actually help treat Mr. Everett as well had something very interesting to say that I think is very telling in all of this.

He said that Kevin's dramatic recovery of movement began before the placement of the catheter and before effective cooling ever even began. So important, Heidi, because you have so many people out there right now who are saying I should get the hypothermia or I should of gotten the hypothermia. This doesn't really prove at all the hypothermia worked. Kevin Everett was already improving. A very important -- a very key point.

COLLINS: And there are so many things to point out here. His injury was different than other people's injuries who are not walking right now. And also, I imagine that this hypothermia treatment is a bit controversial. What do other neurosurgeons think of it?

GUPTA: Well, it's interesting. In the world of medicine and the world of neurosurgery we want to have evidence-based medicine. We want to prove that something works before people are going to start using it. Hypothermia can potentially have some bad side effects so you certainly want to make sure this is the right thing to do.

You can't just use one case -- one antidote to try to change the practice of medicine. Again, everyone is delighted that Kevin Everett is going to walk again and is walking again, but whether or not this changes the field of neurosurgery and spinal cord injury, I doubt it. I don't think the evidence is there. And, Kevin Everett it may not have made a difference for him at all.

COLLINS: It's important to point out, because I do think when people see that they have loved ones who have this spinal cord injuries and they think if we had only done that, he too, or she, too, would be walking and that is the danger.

GUPTA: And, I think that's the wrong message here. That is not the message about hypothermia. A lot of more research still needs to be done with this.

COLLINS: Absolutely, okay. A completely separate note we know that you have another special coming up. This one is regarding a little Iraqi boy who was burned -- severely burned, and we have followed his story and you have a special coming up.

GUPTA: Yes. This is may be one of the best stories I think that I've ever had the honor of doing, and it's about Youssif, who he's 5- year-old. Heidi, they poured gasoline on his face and they set him on fire. It's just an unspeakable act of cruelty. I don't know if it's because I have children and you have children, I just can't get him out of my mind.

But, what you're going to see -- watch this special is his remarkable transformation from the life of bombs in Baghdad, to literally the beaches of L.A. And how he is able to recover not only physically, but also emotionally.

It was Arwa Damon's reporting, as you remember, Heidi, that really brought that story to so many people and people acted. They gave hundreds of thousands of dollars and paid for him to get here. It was like the best sort of story for a journalist, because they saw and they acted.

COLLINS: I know. It is a great story and sometimes hard to watch because you know the pain he has been through and how many more surgeries he is going to have to go through. You will update us in the special?

GUPTA: Yes.

COLLINS: When is it airing Christmas eve?

GUPTA: Christmas eve at 10:00 p.m., Christmas day at 4:00 p.m. It is goodness overcomes cruelty. That's the way I've been thinking about it.

COLLINS: I like it. I like it a lot -- exactly the way it should be. All right, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COLLINS: Happy holidays too.

GUPTA: And to you.

HARRIS: The race for the White House. Why women might hold the key. Republican candidates fighting to close that gender gap.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Gender gap among the Republicans. How presidential front-runners are voting, fighting that is, for women's votes. CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Republican race was born here in places like Martinsdale, Iowa because unhappy Christian conservatives people like Richard and Doris Nation finally found a home.

RICHARD NATION, IOWA REPUBLICAN: He comes from a biblical respective regarding marriage and abortion. The things that are important to us.

KING: He is Mike Huckabee and his growing support among conservatives is changing the race in Iowa and across the country.

BRENDA CARNAHAN, HUCKABEE SUPPORTER: He supports, I guess, with the home-schoolers being able to educate my own children and our values as Christians.

KING: Huckabee is an evangelical favorite.

CARNAHAN: The abortion issue. I think just as a whole, all of his issues put together.

KING: At the moment, the beneficiary of a giant gender gap favored by a two-to-one margin over Mitt Romney among Iowa women who intend to vote to the Republican caucuses.

ANITA NEEHOUSE, HUCKABEE SUPPORTER: It goes back to Christian values with us. We're a Christian family, we do (inaudible) our children and grandchildren.

KING: The question for Huckabee, is that enough? why? Abortion ranks not first but third when Iowa Republicans are asked to rank the issues.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any income on savings should be taxed at a new rate and the new rate should be zero.

KING: The economy ranks first, so more and more Governor Romney stresses his business record.

ROMNEY: I know how the economy works. I know why jobs come. I know why they go away.

KING: In New Hampshire, pocketbook issues are responsible for Romney's double-digit lead. There, Huckabee runs a distant fourth.

ANDREW SMITH, UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE: Trying to run as a social conservative in the state with very few social conservatives is a difficult thing to do. This is largely a pro-choice Republican state -- moderate to liberal Republican state.

KING: But, pollster Andrew Smith says a Romney loss in Iowa would cause a major ripple in New Hampshire.

SMITH: He'll probably lose 10 to 15 points in New Hampshire right away.

KING: That's why Romney is looking to close the gender gap, and narrow Huckabee's lead in Iowa by highlighting other issues (inaudible) among women. Education.

ROMNEY: Our states now ranked number one of all 50 states in education.

KING: And crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Huckabee he granted 1,033 pardons and commutations including 12 convicted murders.

KING: Romney denied all pardon applications, Huckabee calls that a play it safe political calculation.

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That could b be your kid. Could be you. Would you give him a second chance?

KING: His position was that you don't have a heart that, of course, some people must have deserved one. So he says it's a judgment issue.

ROMNEY: So, he thinks 1,033 pardons shows a heart? He thinks giving 12 murderers pardons shows a heart? He thinks giving a repeat drunk driver a pardon to get him out of jail shows heart? I think it shows a softness.

KING: On the surface, a dustup over crime and punishment but it has as much to do with the gender gap. John King, CNN Indianola, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: More than just a best friend for one family. A link to their lost son. Now this go devoted dog gets to leave Iraq early. Rusty Dornin reports next in the newsroom

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: What is wrong?

COLLINS: There was the opening bell.

HARRIS: Yes.

COLLINS: Just seconds ago on this Friday.

HARRIS: Yes.

COLLINS: Hopefully it will go well, however, there is a story out there today that might have a few people ticked off. In terms of this mortgage crisis and everything. Never mind that. Some of the bonuses for the Wall Street folks went way up, almost 15 percent. So, that will be interesting.

But, needless to say let's take a look at the numbers. Yesterday, Dow Jones industrial averages went up by about 38 points or so. So that's good news. Closed the day at 15,245, and today we will be checking out those numbers and see how they react. Let's see. Do we have Monday and Tuesday for sure? Nobody is going to be there. We'll watch them today.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

COLLINS: So, hopefully it will be a good day to close. Think positive. What do we have to close by, about 200?

HARRIS: To get to the magic number? Heidi's magic --?

COLLINS: More like 2,000.

HARRIS: Yes, okay.

COLLINS: So, there you have it. We'll watch those business stories for you all day long here.

Good morning once again, everybody. 9:30 eastern time this Friday morning. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: I'm Tony Harris. Among out top stories, the Bush administration in court this morning facing some tough questions. A federal judge wants to know why the CIA destroyed the taped interrogations of terror suspects and whether the administration gave the go ahead.

It is the first time White House lawyers will speak under oath about the tapes. Critics want to know whether the tapes show the torture of those suspects. President Bush says he won't comment for now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE BUSH, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I'm going to reserve judgment until I find out the full facts. I know I'm going to be asked about this question a lot as time goes on. I'm just going to prepare you. Until these inquiries are complete, until the oversights are finished and I will be rendering no opinion from the podium.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Okay. There are at least two investigations now underway. One by the administration and another by lawmakers, and today we've learned of a new investigation. It focuses on a former CIA officer who appeared on CNN last week, John Kiriakou described the capture and water-boarding of an al Qaeda terrorism suspect. According to the government and officials there the CIA wants to know if he illegally disclosed classified information.

COLLINS: Also this morning a devoted dog on the front lines in Iraq. Now one family fighting for his early retirement. CNN's Rusty Dornin has their story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An old pro going through his paces for the last time, at least for his military career. This 8- year-old German shepherd, Lex was the canine bomb sniffing companion of Marine Corporal Dustin Lee. Lex was at Lee's side when his handler was killed in an attack last March in Iraq that also wounded the dog.

2ND LT. CALEB EAMES, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Corporal Lee was found on the ground and Lex was right beside him. In fact, Lex had to be pulled away from Corporal Lee in order for the medical staff to attend to him.

DORNIN: When Lee's body came home to Quitman, Mississippi, it was a welcome worthy of a hero. Tearful towns people lined the streets for a young man known to be a patriot. When the Marines brought Lex to see the family, Lee's younger brother Cameron played for hours with the dog. It was then the family began its fight to get an honorable discharge for Corporal Lee's faithful companion.

JEROME LEE, FATHER OF MARINE KILLED IN IRAQ; Since Dustin's death, we've been trying to get his dog Lex from the Marine Corps. And needless to say, we've had difficulty there.

DORNIN: Lex still had two years of service left until his mandatory retirement at age 10. That was a problem for the Marines. Lex was an active duty dog. The request went from the base colonel to the commandant of the Marine Corps. It even had to go through the Air Force, which controls all military dogs. It took nine months. Finally, the Marines relented.

EAMES: This is the first time that the family of a handler has been allowed to adopt a working military dog prior to his retirement.

DORNIN: Marine Corps officials say it costs thousands of dollars and man hours to train dogs like Lex. To the Lee family, Lex is priceless.

LEE: Lex has had two tours in Iraq. He has been through a lot and we just want to get Lex home to our family. We want to take care of him and let him have a happy life. There is always going to be that missing link with Dustin gone, but part of Dusty is here with Lex.

DORNIN: A four-legged military hero, now ready for play time as a civilian.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Rusty Dornin is here now in Atlanta with us on the set today. It's a great, great story. I know that the family just got the dog.

DORNIN: Just about an hour ago.

COLLINS: Really?

DORNIN: Down at the logistics base in Albany, Georgia. They did receive the dog from the Marines. You talk about closure. This dog was at their son's side when he was killed. This is the closest thing they have to sharing something with him. Let's hear what his father told AMERICAN MORNING this morning about their special bond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: Lex was a big part of Dustin's life, his partner, his companion. They were inseparable over there. When the Marine Corps sends a team like that, that they have it to develop that close bond and have to be able to work together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DORNIN: We're are also seeing behind him the younger brother, younger sister who have really become quite close to the dog. Also his mother did train rescue dogs, so that is how Dustin became involved in it in the first place.

COLLINS: Yes. That part of it was fascinating. There are so many of these dogs. I don't think people realize how many of them are trained by the military and that they have, oftentimes, after their service with the military, somewhere else to go usually.

DORNIN: That's right. There is almost 2,000 of these dogs that are trained specifically for the military. Now, they work up until the time they are 10 or unless of course they become injured. People ask can civilians adopt them? Well, they can but usually the handler's family adopts them or they're given to the police departments to continue as a working dog.

Because, as you can see so much time and money has been spent on these dogs. This is what they love to do. This is what they love to continue to do as long as they are healthy.

COLLINS: I had an opportunity to be on a training course just like that after the Oklahoma City bombing in Oklahoma where they were training the dogs in the military. Talk about impressive. You're right. They love it, they love this type of work. I don't think it ever goes away. Rusty Dornin, thanks so much for a great story today. Appreciate it.

Special delivery. An act of generosity at the post office reaches all the way to U.S. troops overseas.

HARRIS: But, first, overseas now. Today is last day of the Hajj. Muslims brave danger to stone pillars called Jamaraat. CNN's Isha Sesay got up close look at this ritual.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISAH SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While the day on Arafat is a spiritual climax of the Hajj, the scenes that play out in the Jamaraat are considered to be potentially the most dangerous. So, we decided to take our camera right into the heart of the action, and bring you our experiences inside the Jamaraat.

Over the years many people lost their lives they've been trampled in stampedes as people rush to cast stones at the stone pillars. All around us people are gathering, waiting to be let in to carry out their ritual. On this the second day of stoning, the ritual is scheduled to begin after mid-day.

So, when we get to the Jamaraat a few minutes before noon, you can feel the excitement. This pilgrim from Sudan appears unfazed by the crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I'm not afraid. This year is very safe.

SESAY: Inside the complex, the scene that greet us stops us in our tracks. There are three levels of the Jamaraat, and the lower floor where we are already appears to be completely overrun by people. All of them are surging towards the stone pillars. We push through the crowd and head to a viewing tower just inside one of the stone pillars. From this position we are close enough to feel the pulsating masses.

You can see how hard the pilgrims are concentrating as they throw their pebbles in this symbolic act of resisting temptation. People are a great distance from the actual Jamaraat pillars, as you (ph) were, and they are still throwing their stones. So you can see how people that might be a little way in front of them could get hit by the pebbles.

As these scenes of coordinated chaos unfold in front of us the Saudi security forces calmly look on. There are thousands of troops on standby to step in, should something go wrong. Over 100 cameras monitor the pandemonium. From where we are we can hear the pebbles whizzing past our heads.

Their people stoning all around us. You feel a little bit like you're under siege. These are the size of the pebbles that they are using to throw -- the Jamaraat pillars. We have been struck by a couple. My camera man has been hit, I've been hit. Unbelievably a number of pilgrims bring their children to the Jamaraat. This little girl gets help from a security official. She joins in with the hundreds of thousands of other pilgrims and cast her stones, the crowds are chanting shouting loudly.

As people throw the pebbles, they're shouting Allah Al-Akbar, God is great. We're hearing a couple of F-words as well. Some people are throwing not just these pebbles they're also throwing bottles. For the crew, there is an overwhelming sense of relief when we finally make it out of the Jamaraat.

We ask other departing pilgrims about what it was like for them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: What is wrong? Opening bell.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: There was the opening bell.

HARRIS: Yes.

COLLINS: Just seconds ago on this Friday.

HARRIS: Yeah.

COLLINS: Hopefully it will go well. However, there is a story out there today that might have a few people ticked off. You know, we've had this mortgage crisis and everything. Never mind that. Some of the bonuses for the Wall Street folks went way up. Almost 15 percent.

HARRIS: Whoa.

COLLINS: That will be interesting. Let's take a look at the numbers. Yesterday, Dow Jones Industrials up by about 38 points or so. Today we will be checking out those numbers and see how they react. Let's see. Do we have Monday and Tuesday for sure? Nobody is going to be there.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

COLLINS: Hopefully it will be a good day to close. What do we have to close by? About 200?

HARRIS: To get to the magic number? Heidi's number?

COLLINS: More like 2,000. There you have it. We'll watch it for you all day long here.

ANNOUNCER: Live in the "CNN NEWSROOM," Heidi Collins and Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Good morning. 9:30 eastern time this Friday morning. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: I'm Tony Harris. The Bush administration in court this morning facing some tough questions. A federal judge wants to know why the CIA destroyed the taped interrogations of terror suspects and whether the administration gave the go ahead. It is the first time White House lawyers will speak under oath about the tapes. Critics want to know whether the tapes show the torture of those suspects. President Bush says he won't comment for now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: I'm going to reserve judgment until I find out the full facts. I know I will be asked about this question a lot as time goes on. I'm just going to prepare you. Until these inquiries are complete, till the oversight is finished and I will be rendering no opinion from the podium.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Okay. There are at least two investigations now under way. One by the administration and another by lawmakers and today we've learned of a new investigation. It focuses on a former CIA officer who appeared on CNN last week. John Kirkiakou described the capture at water-boarding of an al Qaeda terrorism suspect. According to the government and officials there the CIA wants to know if he illegally disclosed classified information.

COLLINS: This morning a devoted dog on the front lines in Iraq. Now one family fighting for his early retirement. CNN's Rusty Dornin has their story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An old pro going through his paces for the last time. At least for his military career. This 8- year-old German shepherd Lex was the canine bomb sniffing companion of Marine Corporal Dustin Lee. Lex was at Lee's side when his handler was killed last March in Iraq and also wounded the dog.

2ND LT. CALEB EAMES, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Corporal Lee was found on the ground and Lex was right beside him. In fact, Lex had to be pulled away from Corporal Lee in order for the medical staff to attend to him.

DORNIN: When Lee's body came home to Mississippi, it was a welcome worthy of a hero. Tearful townspeople lined the streets for a young man known to be a patriot. When the marines brought Lex to see the family, Lee's younger brother Cameron played for hours with the dog. It was then the family began its fight to get an honorable discharge for Corporal Lee's faithful companion.

JEROME LEE, FATHER OF MARINE KILLED IN IRAQ: Since his death, we've been trying to get his dog Lex from the Marine Corps. And needless to say, we've had difficulty there.

DORNIN: Lex still had two years of service left until his mandatory retirement until age 10. That was a problem for the marine marines. Lex was an active duty dog. The request went from the base colonel to the commandant of the Marine Corps. It took nine months. Finally, the marines relented.

EAMES: This is the first time that the family of a handler has been allowed to adopt a working military dog prior to his retirement.

DORNIN: Marine Corps officials say it costs thousands of dollars and man hours to train dogs like Lex. To the Lee family, Lex is priceless.

LEE: Lex has had two tours in Iraq. He has been through a lot and we just want to get Lex home to our family. We want to take care of him and let him have a happy life. There is always going to be that missing link with Dustin gone, but part of dusty is here with Lex.

DORNIN: A four-legged military hero, now ready for play time as a civilian.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Rusty Dornin is here now in Atlanta with us on the set today. It's a great, great story. I know that the family just got the dog.

DORNIN: Just about an hour ago.

COLLINS: Really?

Dornin: Down at the logistics base in Albany, Georgia. They did receive the dog from the marines. You talk about closure. This dog was their at their son's side when he was killed. This is the closest thing they have to sharing something with him. Let's hear what his father told "AMERICAN MORNING" this morning about their special bond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: Lex was a big part of Dustin's life, his partner, his companion. They were inseparable over there when the marine corps sends a team like that, that they have it to develop that close bond and have to be able to work together.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DORNIN: You are also seeing behind him the younger brother and younger sister who really had become quite close to the dog. Also, his mother did train rescue dogs so that is how Dustin became involved in it in the first place.

COLLINS: Yeah. That part of it was fascinating. There are so many of these dogs. I don't think people realize how many of them are trained by the military and that they have, oftentimes, after their service with the military, somewhere else to go usually.

DORNIN: That's right. There is almost 2,000 of these dogs that are trained specifically for the military. Now, they work up until the time they are 10 or unless they become injured. People ask can civilians adopt them? They but usually the handler's family adopts them or given to the police department to continue as a working dog. You see so much time and money has been spent on these dogs. This is what they love to continue to do as long as they are healthy.

COLLINS: I had an opportunity to be on a training course after the Oklahoma City bombing in Oklahoma where they were training the dogs in the military. Talk about impressive. You're right. They love it! They love this type of work. I don't think it ever goes away. Rusty, thanks so much for a great story today. Appreciate it.

Special delivery. An act of generosity at the post office reaches all the way to the troops overseas.

HARRIS: First, overseas now. Today is last day of the hajj. Muslims brave danger to stoning pillars. CNN's Isha Sesay got up close look at this ritual.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While the day on Arafat is a spiritual climax of the hajj, the scene is potentially the most dangerous. We decided to take our camera right into the heart of the action and bring you our experiences inside it.

Over the years many people lost their lives and been trampled in stampedes as people rush to cast stones at the pillars. All over people are waiting to carry out their ritual. On this the second day of stoning, the ritual is scheduled to begin after mid-day. Before noon, you can feel the excitement.

This pilgrim from Sudan appeared unfazed by the crowd. Inside the complex, the greeters and stop us in our tracks. There are three levels and the lower floor where we are already appears to be completely overrun by people. All of them are surging towards the stone pillars.

We push through the crowd and head to a viewing tower inside one of the stone pillars. From this position, we are close enough to feel the pulsating masses. You can see how hard they are concentrating as they throw their pebbles in this symbolic act of resisting temptation.

People are a great distance from the actual pillars and they are still throwing their stones so you can see how people that might be a little way in front of them could get hit by the pebbles. As these scenes of coordinated chaos unfold in front of us the security forces look on calmly.

There are thousands of troops on standby to step in, should something go wrong. Over a hundred cameras monitor the pandemonium. From where we are we can hear the pebbles whizzing past our heads.

We have people stoning all around us. You feel a little bit like you're under siege. These are the size of the pebbles that they are using to throw at the pillars. We have been struck by a couple. My camera man has been hit and I've been hit.

Unbelievably a number of pilgrims bring their children. This little girl gets a little help from a security official. She joins in with the hundreds of thousands other pilgrims and cast her stones. And shouting loudly.

We hear a couple of "f" words as well. They are also throwing bottles. To the crew there is an overwhelming a sense of relief when we finally make it out. We asked departing pilgrims about what it was like for them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No problem at all. Excellent arrangements.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A very nice feeling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like just people --

SESAY: The first day of stoning passed off without any reports of major incidents. One security official we spoke to seemed confident things will continue to run smoothly. But with more than 200,000 people an hour going through the facility, nothing is ever guaranteed. Isha Sesay, CNN, Saudi Arabia.

COLLINS: Planning on flying in 2008? A new law gives passengers more rights. What it means for your next flight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Airline passengers stuck on planes during long delays. Soon, getting more flights or maybe more rights. Yeah, yeah. What a new law says and who will be affected.

Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business" this morning. I got to tell you something. We were talking about, what, November of this year. Do you remember some Valentine's Day? All of the delays and people stuck on the tarmac and on the planes for hours! We all said there ought to be a law against this! Now maybe there is.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is going to be. Thanks to New York's attorney general Andrew Cuomo last night winning in federal court here in New York. There will be a law in New York. It will be the first in the nation, comes into place January 1st, 2008. The Air Traffic Association really fought this one. They said states shouldn't be governing what goes on in airports. This is federal stuff but the attorney general decided that is not the case. Let's see what this law allows. First of all, it's going to be the first in the nation. January 1st. And it will allow the attorney general to sue for up to $1,000 a passenger if it's not -- if the airlines don't comply. What the state can't get them to do is deplane passengers if they are stuck on the tarmac as they were on Valentine's Day for many hours. They can make sure they get adequate snacks and drinking water and other refreshments that there is electric generation on the plane to provide fresh air, circulation of air and lights and that there is waste removal of the restrooms and the holding tanks on board because we've known those have been issues when people have been stuck on a plane. That is going to go into effect on January 1st.

You can you imagine this is the thing you could watch -- would catch on across the country. In fact it's not the kind of thing that should have to be a law. It should be clear if you're keeping people on a plane for this kind of time, give them these basic things. I think it's good news generally.

HARRIS: OK. I think so, too. I'm way off topic here but quickly.

VELSHI: Sure.

HARRIS: There is an item about bonuses for the Wall Streeters going above 14 percent this year. Might there be a little rub there with investigators who particularly if they've been investing in the whole mortgage sector wonder what the heck is going on here when I'm losing my shirt here?

VELSHI: You're going to see the biggest bonuses with Goldman Sachs who didn't lose much on the mortgage thing with themselves and their investors. The other companies CEOs are not taking bonuses at some of those companies. We saw what happened when Stanley Neil left Merrill Lynch with $165 million pay package. There is frustration on the part of some people. On some levels Tony, these guys have made money and what they have done and on others when you get it that wrong, you'd think that someone should actually pay for that.

HARRIS: As you remind us often, good thing you do for context and perspective about this, the markets up about, what, 8 percent on the year?

VELSHI: The Dow is still up. S&P a little less than that. We talk about these 100 and 200 and 300-point jumps and drops and so many of them. We still have a pretty good market right now.

HARRIS: And the Dow up 141 points in the first few minutes of the trading day. Not bad. Have a good weekend, Ali.

VELSHI: You, too.

COLLINS: As you know it is the Friday before Christmas and for many that means blowing off work and flying out of town. Sounds like a good idea. Roads and the skies likely jammed this weekend.

Today is expected to be the busiest air travel day of the holiday season. Travel expert Pauline Frommer has these tips for you. Pack light enough to carry on. Check in online before you head to the airport. Look at the TSA website to see how long the security lines are. Do not try to carry on wrapped presents. You will have to unwrap them. Don't check items you can't do without like your prescription medicines. And don't get on the plane without some snacks! We were just talking about this with the new passenger rights. I'm not sure how much of that comes into play when the weather is to blame. Something to read, you're going to want that, anticipating the dreaded delays that have already started at some airports. Delay is a big point of frustration for passengers. But not the only one. Look at this. Travelers also fed up with airport security. A new Associated Press poll shows the TSA is just as unpopular with travelers as the IRS. The only federal agency ranks below the TSA in popularity is FEMA.

HARRIS: Putting their faith in an interstate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moving power, Jesus! Moving power, god!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Millions live up and down this highway, land of god!

HARRIS: Wow. What is this? Strip clubs aside. Religious groups pray along their highway to holiness.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: What is that? Beacon control there? There he is, the producer of our program right here. Smile, smile, chuckle, chuckle. America, are you listening? I feel like Bernie Mack all of a sudden. America look, Heidi Collins has offered to sing Christmas carols. It is the most popular podcast at CNN.com.

COLLINS: I'm singing Christmas carols on the podcast some.

HARRIS: Isn't that what you just offered America?

COLLINS: Sure.

HARRIS: You're going to sing through the podcast. We are just trying to get you to CNN.com and choose podcast once we do. You'll love the news there. Sarah, how are you? Wave to America. Sarah is watching. Don't just laugh, wave to America. 24/7 and go to CNN.com and listen to the podcast today and Heidi is singing.

COLLINS: We get free shipping offers this time of the year but to Iraq some U.S. families are getting that thanks to an anonymous person. Heather Graft of affiliate WLOS has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HEATHER GRAFT, WLOS REPORTER: It's four days before Christmas. You expect the post office parking lot to be full, the doors to be swinging. And the lines to be long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three to five days. GRAFT: But no one could have expected this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said it's free. We said free?

GRAFT: Free postage for every package being sent to American military serving overseas.

CHIP HENDRICKS, POST OFFICE CLERK: Some of them just have this look on their face like I just can't believe. Are you sure that I'm not going to have to pay for this today.

GRAFT: The postal workers say they are not the ones behind this random act of kindness. It's one of their customers.

KELLEY MITCHAM, POST OFFICE CLERK: Just came in with some money and said, here, I just want you to spread this out amongst the window clerks and pay for any package that comes in for any military family.

GRAFT: Families like the Curtins whose son is stationed in Iraq. Families who are now searching for a way to say thank you to a stranger they will never know.

TERRY CURTIN, SOLDIER'S FATHER: I almost had tears in my eyes because I just could not believe, I'm a disabled veteran myself, that anyone would be so kind, so generous, so caring, so loving to do this for our troops.

GRAFT: Postal workers are the only ones who know the stranger's true identity. And their lips are sealed.

HENDRICKS: Doesn't want anybody to know. He doesn't want any praise. He doesn't want any pats on the back.

MITCHAM: It's just unbelievable, the generosity that he showed to the families.

GRAFT: It's a generosity that hits home for Kelley Mitcham whose son is also serving in Iraq.

MITCHAM: It just means a lot that the people in the community care enough about the guys that are over there serving.

GRAFT: Heroes who can't be home for Christmas, but thanks to a stranger's generosity, have Christmas coming to them.

CURTIN: I wish that I had the opportunity to shake this guy's hand and say you're awesome!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: You can't put a price tag on kindness, that is for sure. Keep in mind it can cost as much as $20 to send a package from North Carolina to Iraq. That's not very much.

HARRIS: In courts, under oath, Bush administration faced tough questions about the CIA's destroyed videotapes and what is on them? What is at stake?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: From the work place to a more fulfilling place in this week's life after work series, a retired teacher helping sick children. More now from Ali Velshi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE FARRIS, RETIRED TEACHER: Every year that I come out here, everybody said is this going to be your last year? I said, heck, no, I'll be here till I drop dead in the classroom.

VELSHI: In 1992, after 31 years of teaching, Joe Farris was all ready to close his textbooks and retire for good. At least that's what he thought.

FARRIS: When I retired, I said at last I won't have to check papers and put grades. I said after three months, I like to went crazy. I couldn't stand it another day. That's the only thing I know to do is to be in the classroom again.

VELSHI: He is now a substitute teacher in Douglas, Georgia has not only dedicated his life to teaching but also to helping those in need.

FARRIS: I love helping people and when this came out about St. Jude Hospital, I just thought that was the way to reward my lord Jesus Christ for good health that he had given me and I thought I'd do it just for that one year.

VELSHI: That one year of collecting toys for St. Jude's Children Research Hospital turned into 46 years and 92 trips to Memphis, Tennessee. And when it's time to visit every July and December, he is ready to suit up as none other than Santa Claus. When it comes to his life's purpose, to Joe Farris there is no such thing as retirement. He believes he is a living vessel of true kindness and generosity.

FARRIS: Thank god, I know why I was born, to help you all and to help sick kids. Thank you and god bless you.

VELSHI: Ali Velshi, CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: I'm Heidi Collins.

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