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CNN NEWSROOM

Major Delays in the Skies and on the Roads This Holiday Season; An Iraqi Boy Protects His Neighborhood; Voters and Shoppers All Have Last- Minute Decisions to Make

Aired December 22, 2007 - 14:00   ET

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


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, take a look at this. I know you're saying, what is that map with all those little planes. Well it is our own flight tracker showing you all the planes flying this busy holiday season.
If you think flight delays are a headache, well, look at these live pictures of I-70. Yes, that's a highway in Topeka, Kansas. Bonnie Schneider is tracking the flights and the snow. It's a mess on both sides.

A young boy puts down his school books and picks up a gun, to keep his Iraqi neighborhood safe.

Plus, voters and shoppers. They all have some last-minute decisions to make. We're keeping them honest at looking at who takes part in the caucuses and the primaries anyway.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. This is where the news unfolds live on this Saturday, December 22nd.

Well, three days until Christmas, will you make it home on time? Millions of Americans are in the skies and on the roads that you know. Some of them are finding it very slow going. Dense fog is causing flight delays in Chicago. And a spokesman at Chicago's O'Hare airport says about 50 flights have been canceled.

So, there is trouble on the highways, as well. Whiteout conditions in parts of Kansas, right there where a winter storm is causing accidents and closing roads.

(WEATHER REPORT)

WHITFIELD: How about the people driving into the U.S. from Canada or Mexico or perhaps coming in by ship from the Caribbean. There's some pretty good news for you. They will not have to show their passports. Or if that's you, you won't have to show your passport. Congress has delayed that requirement. It won't take effect, rather, until at least 2009, if President Bush signs the bill. That's one year later than the Department of Homeland Security actually wanted. Passports are still required, however, for anyone flying into this country.

And we're following developments today concerning those destroyed CIA interrogation tapes. "The New York Times" reports that former members of the 9/11 commission made repeated and detailed requests to the CIA in 2003 and 2004. The commissioners were looking for documents concerning how Al Qaeda operatives were actually being interrogated. "The Times" says the panel was told they had been given everything they requested.

Earlier, I talked with our national security adviser and former CIA chief John McLaughlin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think it's ludicrous to suggest, in fact, that we withheld anything of consequence from the 9/11 commission. Our sole intent was to provide them everything they needed to complete their inquiry in the best way possible. If you look at their report, they stress the cooperation they got from the CIA and I think it would have been literally impossible for them to reconstruct the plot as successfully as they did without the information.

WHITFIELD: Why would a request for classified documents not include videotapes? Isn't that considered a classified document of sorts? It is documenting the interrogation of these alleged operatives.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let me explain. What we did in the case of the 9/11 commission is to give them on paper the results of all of the interrogations of all of these detainees. In fact, we went so far as to solicit questions from the 9/11 commission, specific questions they wanted to ask of the detainees and then put those questions to them and then transmitted the answers. So, the tapes, in a way, were irrelevant to their inquiry.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Meantime, in a statement earlier today, CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield suggests the 9/11 commission should have been more specific about actually wanting those videotapes.

The war in Afghanistan now. Front and center today for two international leaders. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and new Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Both officials pledging political and military support for the long hall. Sarkozy met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and spent time with some of France's more than 1,900 troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO force. And Rudd also held talks with Karzai and spent time with some of the more than 900 troops in that country.

In hiding until he can return home. A family spokeswoman reports that there are threats against American Eric Volz. He was released from custody in Nicaragua and quickly left the country four days after a court overturned his conviction and 30-year sentence in the death of his Nicaraguan girlfriend. Prosecutors are appealing Volz's release. His mother, meantime, is still trying to take it all in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAGGIE ANTHONY, MOTHER OF ERIC VOLZ: You know, it hasn't hit me yet. We have been living on the edge for over a year now and I just haven't had time to just digest. I'm sure the minute I go home and I fall into my husband's arms and I see my daughter it will hit me. It's just going to be incredible. We're so, so thankful for this gift.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Meantime, Volz's mother says she will worry about him until he is on U.S. soil.

A jury on Long Island, New York, is deliberating at this hour in the trial of a black father accused of killing a white teenager. The shooting happened during a racially charged confrontation that started with an entry on a Myspace web page. Jason Carroll has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It started with a sick joke. It came from Aaron White's MySpace account, a threat sent to a teenage girl at his high school. White testified he didn't write it. Another friend did, using his screen name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of those kids believed that this was real.

CARROLL: Even White's friend, Daniel Cicciaro believed it was real.

JOANNE CICCIARO, MOTHER: The thing is that night, Daniel believed that Aaron threatened to rape a girl who was like his little sister.

CARROLL: Cicciaro's parents say Daniel just wanted to protect the girl when she spotted Aaron at a party last year. The defense says racial slurs were used after white was kicked out. White testified a group of teenage boys called him on his cell saying get back to this party, you [ bleep ].

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had this group of young white men who felt that they were going to defend this young white woman from the black man who said these things about her and that they felt justified to do so because of his race.

CARROLL: Cicciaro rallied a group of his friends and headed to White's home in Long Island, New York. Aaron White said they called him again, saying they were coming to his house to kill him. That's when Aaron's father, John White, got involved, known as a quiet, dedicated man, he grabbed his handgun, a 32 caliber berretta, and waited for the teens.

DANIEL CICCIARO, SR., FATHER: He had 20 minutes to gather his thoughts, to call the police, to defuse the situation, to find out why they were coming over. And he didn't take any of those precautionary steps.

CARROLL: The defense says White was thinking of his family's past in the south where the Ku Klux Klan attacked them at home one night. Once Cicciaro and the teens arrived in his driveway, there was an argument. White says his gun accidentally went off and Cicciaro was shot in the face. "I didn't mean to shoot this young man," White told the court. This young man was another child of God. Cicciaro's parents don't believe him.

J. CICCIARO: They never called, the Whites, none of them, never called 911 even after they shot Daniel, but they did call their attorney.

CARROLL: White's attorney pointed to a 911 call Daniel's friend made moments after the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE) I'll get them for you Dano.

CARROLL: Daniel died that night.

J. CICCIARO: I saw the shot, the hole in his cheek. I got to tell him that I loved him. I saw his eyes blank, straight open, staring at the ceiling.

CARROLL (on camera): White is charged with manslaughter. A jury is deciding whether he will lose his freedom. The Cicciaro family says regardless of the verdict they have already lost what was most important to them.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Riverhead, New York.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Again, the jurors are deliberating in that case and if and when there is a verdict, we'll bring it to you as soon as possible.

Meantime, we want you to look at this next story closely. Take a look at this. You're looking at surveillance tape from the Los Angeles area. It shows a young man trying to abduct a 4-year-old girl. Look closely. You can see that he drops the girl when a small boy chases after him. Police want to catch the young man before he strikes again. There you get a chance to see the video.

Here's a police sketch of the suspect. Police believe that he is linked to at least four other attacks in the North Hills area of L.A. so of course, if you recognize perhaps that sketch of that suspect, call Los Angeles authorities.

Teenage fighters keeping the peace in Iraq. Their story straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: No surprise here, violence in Iraq is taking no holiday. One U.S. soldier was killed and 11 others wounded when two roadside bombs exploded near their vehicles. The U.S. military says the attack happened yesterday in northern Kirkuk province. So far 3,898 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq. 17 of them this month. In Baghdad today, a car bomb exploded killing four people and despite the attack, there has been less violence in the Iraqi capital in recent months. CNN's Harris Whitbeck reports that may be due to the work of some very young militia members.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A cold night at a civilian checkpoint in Baghdad. Saiff Sliman takes a minute to warm up by the fire. With his commander and fellow militia members. Just a short break during his shift providing security at the entrance to his neighborhood.

Day in and day out, Saiff slings his AK-47 assault rifle with ease as he makes sure nothing bad happens on his turf. When he's not on duty, he likes to work on his motorcycle at home. A devout Muslim, he performs the ritual washing before his daily prayers and as a matter of course, he does his school work every afternoon. This civilian fighter is, after all, only 16 years old.

(On camera): Warfare has become a way of life for the citizens of Baghdad. For many of its teenagers it's become a necessity. No child's play here.

(Voice-over): Saiff belongs to a local citizen's militia known as the awakening. Many of its members are just teenagers. All of them, they say, had relatives who were killed by insurgents. Saiff joined after four of his cousins were kidnapped and beheaded.

SAIFF SLIMAN, TEENAGE FIGHTER: The main reason was security and to drive out Al Qaeda because Al Qaeda harmed us and destroyed Iraqi society. They have no mercy so I joined the awakening in my area.

WHITBECK: He brushes off the dangers involved.

SLIMAN: I'm not afraid because my cause is just. Besides, I am here with my brothers and cousins. Together, none of us are afraid.

WHITBECK: The U.S. says the awakening counsels have been crucial in achieving a downturn in the levels of violence in the country. Even if many of their members are just children. Spending their after- school hours performing work once reserved for adults, safeguarding their homes, defending their families.

Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Baghdad.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Live pictures right now former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and now one of the leading republican presidential candidates talking there in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, one of the first or the first primary state. Let's listen in right now.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maybe they were against it, but they weren't unalterably opposed. He went to those districts, mostly of democrats, some republicans, and he made the case there, not necessarily him, but his people for tax reduction. What it could do. How many jobs. How it would increase investment. How it would increase the vitality of the community. How will it bring more industry to this community. Those people then convinced their members of congress that that was the right thing to do. And then he was able to get it done.

That's a very important part of legislative strategy. Ultimately, if you don't bring the people along, doesn't matter what the republicans and democrats agree on. A lot of this stuff just falls apart.

We'll take one last question and then we will go. Let's see. Take anybody back here. Anybody back here have one? OK, sir.

WHITFIELD: Well, looks like one more question taking place there after all. Rudy Giuliani taking one of his last questions there in that visit to Hopkinton, New Hampshire, looking pretty good and pretty rejuvenated. Following his hospital visit and quite the scare there in Missouri because of flu-like symptoms. Now back hot on the campaign trail there in New Hampshire. That primary just a couple weeks away there in that state.

Much more from the granite state when we are joined by Mary Snow who is following the presidential candidates, particularly Rudy Giuliani today.

You can't judge a video game by its box now, can you? Find out how to tell if the games you want to buy are actually appropriate for your kids or the entire family.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right last minute shoppers, listen up. No doubt someone on your list wants a video game and if you've put off buying because you're just not so sure which games are right for which ages, here are some suggestions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Have a lovely holiday.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): Flying off the shelves, PlayStation, Wii, and halo. When you buy any one of the hottest items on America's holiday wish list.

The orange box game.

Halo and the heavenly game.

It's the Mario.

I don't remember the names. I just know it's something, something rabbit.

Is it clear to you the images and the messages on these video games before the purchase?

It's pretty overwhelming, yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes. Especially for us.

WHITFIELD: Why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well we don't play video games.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why they have the ratings and stuff like that I guess so you know what to get.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I purchase a game, I'll either let my brother or their dad watch the game, actually, or they'll play the game first to make sure it's not x-rated or anything.

WHITFIELD: A national poll indicates 72 percent of parents don't know what's inside the packaging of these games. Fingers firmly on the controller, 12-year-old Reginald Miller along with his 9-year-old sister Diamond are hooked. The reason? Shockingly clear. Tell me about this game. Why do you like it?

REGINALD MILLER, 12-YEAR-OLD GAMER: Because you get to kill people.

WHITFIELD: Speaking of making a killing, this is an $8 billion a year industry, outpacing the movie business. Game editor for Paste Magazine, Jason Killingsworth, no kidding, Killingsworth, says this is hugely popular among all ages.

JASON KILLINGSWORTH, PASTE MAGAZINE: Entertainment software association did a demographic test a little while back and they found that the average gamer age is 33. The people who are making these games are, you know, older and they're -- you get the sense that they're making them for their peers, you know. That they're not necessarily making them for their younger nephew per se.

WHITFIELD: He showed me. All right, this is video gaming for the novice one that would be me. Why it's all so in demand.

KILLINGSWORTH: Some of these games are so realistic it's incredible.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my.

KILLINGSWORTH: Yeah.

WHITFIELD: That was rough.

KILLINGSWORTH: You can learn a lot just by looking at the rating on the game.

WHITFIELD: Oh, yeah? Labels mostly on front marked E for everybody, M for mature and T for teens, sounds simple enough.

KILLINGSWORTH: In some of the games you can actually turn the gore on and off. A lot of parents, you know, probably don't realize that. With assassins creed, you know this is probably the most popular game this holiday season, you can actually turn the blood off.

WHITFIELD: But you won't know that until you make the purchase and open the package.

KILLINGSWORTH: Right. I mean, it's true. It's not advertised.

WHITFIELD: Despite some of the fail safes, there are still a few kinks to work out. But for now, choosey consumers can still deliver this holiday without anyone calling them a video killjoy.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And one more warning for anyone shopping for games at the last minute. The hot sellers will be hard to find at this point. But we understand from a lot of economists that electronics, all things electronic will be on sale after the Christmas holiday, so you may want to wait on some of those gifts.

Meantime, just a moment ago, remember I told you about an attempted abduction and there was some surveillance tape that we showed you, that tape right there, of a young man who allegedly tried to abduct a 4-year-old. Kind of difficult to make out in the tape, but LAPD had been investigating this case and supplied this video.

Well now we understand from the Los Angeles Police Department that an arrest has actually been made. That perhaps that composite sketch that we showed you less than 30 minutes ago may have helped in the arrest of what we're being told is a 24-year-old young man who has been arrested in connection with four other alleged attempted abductions in addition to this.

Now you can see in the highlighted area this suspect allegedly tried to take away a 4-year-old child. We're not getting any more details about the suspect. Just that this person is 24 years old and, of course, when we get any more information about his arrest and where the investigation is going from here, we'll be able to bring that to you.

Meantime, something else we want to bring to you. A teen dies from leukemia, but her family says bureaucracy actually led to her death. Details straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Other stories happening right now. The CIA today rejected a report that it hid videotapes from the September 11th commission that showed its interrogation of two terror suspects. In response to a "New York Times" article an agency spokesman says the 911 panel did not specifically ask for interrogation tapes when it requested documents and other information. He says the CIA also waited until after the 9/11 panel went out of business before destroying the material. Destruction of the tapes has sparked a justice department investigation now and democrats in congress are promising their own probe. Well, millions of Americans are rushing to get home for Christmas. And wouldn't you know it, the weather is causing problems. Dense fog is blamed for flight delays and cancellations in Chicago, one of the nation's busiest airline hubs. And a winter storm is causing whiteout conditions and traffic accidents in many parts of Kansas. Some highways are actually closed in fact.

(WEATHER REPORT)

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: But believe it or not, even though we don't really have snow or rain throughout the northeast, we're getting travel delays because of this reason. See the low clouds coming over Philadelphia, New York and Boston? That's creating poor visibility and that does affect your travel.

Take a look at all the airport delays we have currently at this time and not really in the Midwest, but the low clouds that are causing them in and around New York City. Now, Chicago is reporting ground delays at this time. They've just gone up quite a bit and O'Hare two hours and ten minutes. We also have reports of one hour and ten minute delays in Midway and Dallas-Ft. Worth also reporting ground delays at this time, an hour and 25 minutes. New York City ground delays an hour and 15, and Newark, New Jersey, were reporting ground delays an hour and 15 minutes.

Plus you can see the five-day forecast on the bottom of your screen and more information on where we're getting some of the dangerous weather on the side of your screen, as well. We give this throughout much of the day today as this is one of the busiest travel days. We're also going to be very busy, certainly the day after Christmas, as well.

I want to show you also, a look at Flight Explorer and this is a look at all the planes that are in the air right now. We have, believe it or not across the U.S. and into Canada, over 6,000 planes currently flying across the country. You can see a big concentration. Everybody's trying to head south down to the southeast to Florida. But really, across the country, it is just jam-packed travelers trying to get to their destination.

And Fredricka, as you mentioned earlier, it may take a while with all the delays ...

WHITFIELD: Yes.

SCHNEIDER: ...but all these planes are scheduled to reach their destination at some point, it just may be an hour or two behind.

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh, it's a frightening view when you look at it like that.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, the aerial view, it is kind of intimidating.

WHITFIELD: Yes, thanks so much, Bonnie.

Well, remember Bonnie, just a moment ago at the top of your weather cast, you told us about an accident being reported there in Kansas and now we're learning from the Kansas Highway Patrol that a 25-car pileup is being reported on I-70. And, of course, it's been very snowy there. This taking place near Topeka and it happened, if you know the area, at mile post 385, just about three miles north of Alma, Kansas.

We're not getting any word of any kinds of injuries, as of yet. But 25-car pileup on that snowy highway. Certainly a mess. Of course, when we get any more information of what is taking place there out of Kansas, we'll bring it to you.

Meantime, it's snowy and cold also in Iowa and the caucuses there are just around the corner, followed quickly by test votes in New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida. The list goes on. These early contests will begin the process of separating the real viable candidates from the also ran (ph) -- you know, I kind of ran. Don't you remember my name? That kind of thing.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It happens, it can happen.

WHITFIELD: Josh Levs is here to keep them honest.

LEVS: Yes, yes.

WHITFIELD: I know, and we've had this huge field. Everyone is trying to remember and get to know all these candidates and remember, it's really going to boil down to just a handful in the end.

LEVS: Yes, and they -- that's what I say, it's going to start to windle down.

WHITFIELD: Eventually two, and then one.

LEVS: Yes, and what are we, about 12 days now from the cauc-eye (ph) in the Hawkeye?

WHITFIELD: Yes.

LEVS: We're almost there, right?

(CROSSTALK)

LEVS: You like that, the cauc-eye in the Hawkeye?

WHITFIELD: I do, that's cute.

LEVS: OK, what I want to show you today, this is wild. We crunched the numbers. I don't think anybody has done this. You're going to be amazed. OK, you know, there are really three states that the candidates are focusing on intently as potential make or break contest. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, that is where the major campaigning is going on, all that money, all that focus.

Well, it turns out, even when you put those states together, it's still a tiny group of Americans doing the deciding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to say thanks so much for coming. This is incredible.

LEVS (voice-over): We know why the candidates fight so hard in the early states. So many Americans follow their lead and early victory in these states can lead to the nomination. But you may not know how few voters actually determine who wins the early states. Keep in mind, we're a nation of 300 million people. Now, here are the numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

LEVS: In 2004, the Democratic caucuses in Iowa drew a whopping 124,000 people, a fraction of the state's voting age population and that was considered big.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FMR. DNC CHAIRMAN: We had a record turnout in Iowa, the biggest in the history of the state.

LEVS: The last big Republican contest was in 2000, when Bush won the Iowa caucuses. 87,000 people took part. No one knows how many will take part this time around with open races on both side, but a few hundred thousand will be huge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), thank you.

LEVS: New Hampshire, in 2004, when the big race was on the Democratic side, nearly 300,000 people total voted. Four years earlier when the bigger contest was among Republicans, nearly 400,000 and the third early state getting a lot of attention.

OPRAH WINFREY, CELEBRITY: South Carolina!

LEVS: Nearly 300,000 Democrats took part in the 2004 primary. Nearly twice that number took part in the Republican primary in 2000. So, when we put these three states together, how many people are the candidates clamoring for? The total number is sure to be less than one percent of the U.S. population.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEVS: But of course, that's a very powerful and influential fraction of a percent. Now, there have been debates over the idea of a National Primary date, when everyone would vote at once. But there's been no movement in that direction. So, Fred, for now, we can really expect this process to keep on going, every four years.

WHITFIELD: National Primary Day, pros and cons.

LEVS: Right, yes, pros and cons. Well, the pros are that it would help fix this situation. Everyone would get to take part of it, that it wouldn't just be three states and everybody else assumes ...

WHITFIELD: Influencing everyone else. LEVS: Right, so that everyone -- and then, everyone would be experiencing more time with the candidates, would be hearing more. I think we have an image of a Web site I can show you, nationalprimary.net. That's -- there you go. That is one place on the net where they're gathering partitions pushing for a National Primary Day.

But I also want to be fair here and I want to tell you the other side, which is some people like this. And here's the biggest argument you hear for the current system. Because of the current system, the candidates that are out there have to focus during this time microcosmically. They can't just run on the big issues. They have to care about the needs of individual farmers in Iowa, individual families in New Hampshire that this is the one time when you get someone ...

WHITFIELD: The concerns are different demographically.

LEVS: ...exactly. And they want to be -- you have to be personable because they are being tested by a tiny group, kind of tested one on one as opposed to by everyone at once.

WHITFIELD: Wow.

LEVS: So that's what people say is a good thing. But you know, the bad side is a lot of people feel disenfranchised by this system because they figure, what does my vote matter, it's decided by some estimate?

WHITFIELD: Right, well of course, if the candidates think they're exhausted now because of the, you know, the method of campaigning and the lineup of the caucuses and primaries, that would surely be exhausting.

LEVS: Oh, yes. I can't even imagine. And plus the money. I mean, campaigning in every state at the same time.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

LEVS: But it's conceivable, I mean our nation could handle it ...

WHITFIELD: Yes.

LEVS: ...it's just not something that we see coming in any point right now.

WHITFIELD: All right, Josh, keeping it real for us.

LEVS: You bet.

WHITFIELD: And keeping them honest. All right, thank you.

LEVS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, how about this. The CIA destroying interrogation tapes. We'll talk to our legal team about all that coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Government lawyers hauled into court Friday by a federal judge in Washington. The attorneys asked Judge Henry Kennedy to refrain from investigating the CIA for destroying tapes showing harsh interrogations of two terrorism suspects.

Kennedy wants to determine whether destroying the tapes violated his order in a civil action concerning detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The detainee's attorney said that the tape's destruction is a smoking gun. The destruction of the tapes is being probed by the Justice Department now and some Congressional committees, as well.

We brought in our legal guys to explain the wrangling over the tapes and to discuss what prosecutors in Aruba are also now saying about the Natalee Holloway case. We'll get to that case in a moment.

Avery Friedman is a civil rights attorney and law professor, good to see you.

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Hi, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: He joins us from Cleveland. And Richard Herman is a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor and he's in New York. Good to see you, as well.

RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hi, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, let's pick up from that last thought about you know, Judge Kennedy now saying, wait a minute. Let me look into whether there has been the destruction of tapes, which really could mean the destruction of evidence in any kind of pending trials involving a Gitmo detainee -- Richard?

HERMAN: Well Fred, I bet former president Richard Nixon thought -- he destroyed those tapes. I think he wished he would have done that. I mean, clearly, it looks just like a cover-up, I got to tell you. And you know, they're wrangling with words here. These tapes weren't made when the prisoners were at Guantanamo, they were made when they were outside the United States. You know, they're looking in to the definition of these terms.

You know, I don't know -- I think this judge has -- is going to stand back, let the Justice Department investigate. Judge Mukasey from New York here is a man of high integrity, he's going to do an incredible job here and I think we'll get to the bottom of this.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, both of you heard earlier, I spoke with former deputy director John McLaughlin with the CIA and he said, you know what, actually, Avery, these tapes were irrelevant to any kind of inquiry being made by the 9/11 Commission, so the destruction of these tapes shouldn't in any way put any cases in peril.

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, I have great respect for John and I was unfortunately horrified by his answer. The fact is those tapes have been around since 2002. But here's the key issue, Fredricka. No. 1, the order by Judge Kennedy was in the summer of 2005.

In November, three things happened. No. 1, the photos of Abu Ghraib surfaced. No. 2, the Supreme Court granted the review of the case concerning Geneva conventions, war crimes and the Hampton (ph) case, and then, the CIA destroyed the tapes. So, it warrants looking into.

WHITFIELD: All right, so, Richard, do you agree? I mean, if the 9/11 Commission says the CIA may have impeded its federal inquiry, then by what standard do you measure any kind of penalty or consequence?

HERMAN: That's a really good question, Fred. You know, this Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., he's supposedly the one who issued the order to destroy the tapes. He's going to be the fall guy, he's the one who's name's going to get slung around in mud and he's going to get terminated, et cetera.

But if you think he had the sole authority to destroy those tapes, I mean, please. He didn't, he was told to do it. And let's look back at when these tapes were made. This was on the heels of 9/11 and early '02. The United States was in an uproar. He didn't know what was going on here.

FRIEDMAN: That's the point, that's the point. The point is Judge Kennedy is not going to wait for Congress to move on it, both in the Senate ...

WHITFIELD: All right.

FRIEDMAN: ...and the House. The judge wants to find out what's going on. Smoking gun is the operative phrase. That's what Judge Kennedy has to look into.

WHITFIELD: All right, well really quickly before I let you guys go, let's talk about the Natalee Holloway case.

FRIEDMAN: Yes.

WHITFIELD: You know, the mysterious, I guess, still missing, we don't even know if it's really a murder situation with Natalee Holloway. Now, all of these suspects that were rearrested and then they were let go and now, find out (ph) Internet chat that investigators found that said these guys uttered the words that "she was murdered, she is dead." So, can they be rearrested for a third time or is this just evidence that is not evidence?

HERMAN: It's over, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Done?

HERMAN: Aruba is over. And you know, there are so many missing people in the United States alone, so, we have to wake up. Aruba is not the only case of a missing girl.

WHITFIELD: Right. HERMAN: It's a terrible, it's a tragedy. They are horrible, they're investigative techniques were horrible.

WHITFIELD: Well, to Avery, it's done?

FRIEDMAN: The other thing, it shouldn't be, you can't just end it. The fact is that the case, and I agree, is over, but you have to pursue. It's likely this young lady is dead. The family, other people that will be concerned about justice, Fredricka, cannot give up.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

FRIEDMAN: They have to keep the search alive.

WHITFIELD: All right, Avery, Richard, thanks so much. Happy holidays to you both.

FRIEDMAN: Hey, merry Christmas, take care.

HERMAN: Thanks, Fred, merry Christmas.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, take care.

FRIEDMAN: All right.

WHITFIELD: All right, while many of you have started your Christmas vacations, the presidential candidates are still hard at work trying to win your vote. Democrat Hillary Clinton is in New Hampshire in Manchester. She talked about child care, saying the government needs to do a better job of supporting families.

Republican Rudy Giuliani is back on the campaign trail after being hospitalized for flu-like symptoms. He is also in New Hampshire. Well, Giuliani's event is under way, taking his last question less than 30 minutes ago from the audience there.

Our Mary Snow is there in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. And so, how well was he received?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, one of the questions we just asked him about was his health. As you mentioned, he was hospitalized overnight on Wednesday. This is the first time he's been out on the campaign trail since he's become sick and the first time he's really given us details about what happened. You mentioned the campaign, it said that he had flu-like symptoms, but there were very little details after that.

Caught up with him just a few minutes ago. Here's what he said happened to him on Wednesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: What do you say to reassure them?

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I say to them is that I've had all these tests that were taken the other day, all came out 100 percent. I'm in very good health. I had a very bad headache, that's what precipitated it and they checked out everything. My doctor will do a report and also address the cancer part. I mean, might as well address that, as well. I'm a cancer survivor, I had cancer, I get tested for it all the time.

So, he'll put out those results, as well. So people can get a complete picture of the fact that I am in good health, this was something that came about because -- tired, not sleeping, who knows exactly why. But I had a very bad headache and they were concerned that it might be other things. They ruled out every other possibility, it was just a bad headache.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Rudy Giuliani saying that questions came up about his prostate cancer which he had seven years ago. He said that he is repeatedly screened. The last time he was screened was three weeks ago and his tests came back clear.

As for the tests that were taken over the past -- after he was hospitalized, he didn't really elaborate. As you noted, he said that his doctor is going to release a report, it's unclear when that report is going to come out. He was even asked at one point, did he think he was having a heart attack because that plane had turned around. And he said, no, but it was a very severe headache and he felt that it got worse with the pressure on the flight -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Yes, all right. Well, one has to wonder whether that unforgiving schedule of campaigning has anything to do with it. I mean, it's no wonder you know, more of the candidates don't become ill because it is pretty excruciating out there on the campaign trail.

Mary Snow ...

SNOW: Yes, it really is and ...

WHITFIELD: Yes -- you can underscore that, go ahead. You know better than me, you're on the campaign trail.

SNOW: It is an exhausting schedule. And it's just, in the past couple days, haven't been many details of what happened to him and we know that he went to his doctor yesterday.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

SNOW: So, he was kind of addressing those questions for the first time. But, you know, and also, in all these different climate changes, that is also not great for somebody's health.

WHITFIELD: All right, Mary Snow, thanks so much.

Well, also on the campaign trail, our CNN political correspondent, John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new look of 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 perspective regarding marriage and abortion. The things that are -- 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 and I think, just as a whole, all of his issues put together.

KING: And 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 in the Republican caucuses.

ANITA NEEHOUSE, HUCKABEE SUPPORTER: He goes back to Christian values with us. You know, we're a Christian family and 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 and 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: So, trying to run as a social conservative in a 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: And that's why Romney is looking to close the gender gap and narrow Huckabee's lead in Iowa by highlighting other issues with proven (ph) power among women: education.

ROMNEY: Our state's now ranked No. 1 of all 50 states in education.

KING: And crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Mike huckabee? He granted 1,033 pardons, and commutations, including 12 convicted murderers.

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

HUCKABEE: That could be your kid, could be you. Would you give him a second chance?

KING (on camera): 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 (voice-over): On the surface, a dust up over crime and punishment, but it has just as much to do with the gender gap.

John King, CNN, Indianola, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Well, we know you want the most up to the minute political news anywhere available, so we provide it for you. CNN.com/politics is your one-stop shop, it's the Internet's premier destination for political news, CNNpolitics.com.

"Don't tas me, bro." You remember that, right? By far one of the most memorable stories and phrases of the year. But where does it fall in the Top Ten Quotes of the Year?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: I'm CNN meteorologist Bonnie Schneider with a look at your Cold and Flu Report for Saturday.

We do have some activity reported, at least regional activity in parts of Texas. We also have local outbreaks of the flu reported in parts of the Southwest and all the way into Hawaii.

You'll find elsewhere across the country sporadic reports of the flu from Maine through the northern chair of the U.S. all the way to California and to Alaska.

That's a look at your Cold and Flu Report for Saturday. I'm meteorologist Bonnie Schneider.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, with just over a week left in 2007, this is the time of year when folks like to make up lists. The most noteworthy people, the best and worst movies, the most important events.

Well, our Jim Clancy has been making a list, as well, of the most memorable quotes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: No. 5, Alberto Gonzales, "I don't recall."

ALBERTO GONZALES, FMR. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator, I don't recall, Senator, I don't recall. I do not recall. I don't recall.

CLANCY: No. 4, Don Imus, "nappy headed what?

DON IMUS: There's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that now, man, that's some ...

CLANCY: No. 3, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "We don't have homosexuals."

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country.

CLANCY: No. 2, Miss Teen USA contestant, "don't have maps."

LAUREN UPTON, MISS SOUTH CAROLINA: I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps.

CLANCY: And coming in at No. 1, Andrew Mier, "don't tase me, bro."

ANDREW MEYER, COLLEGE STUDENT: Don't tase me, bro! Don't tase me. I didn't do anything! Ow, ow ...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: I think he must have known that Jim Clancy would be making a list.

All right, well, it happens every year around this time. Once the presents are bought and the snow is shovelled, a lot of people will take a step back and realize they're sad. Well, what can you do about seasonal affective disorder, SAD. Some solutions coming up in the next hour of the NEWSROOM.

And a check of the day's headlines is coming up next and then, CNN's "SPECIAL INVESTIGATION UNIT."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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