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Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty for 9/11 Suspects; Student Shot in Memphis High School; Candidates Campaign Before Potomac Primaries
Aired February 11, 2008 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Sparked by the worst terrorist attack on American soil and years in the making, the government's 9/11 case moves forward.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We start with breaking news. More than six years after the attacks, the Pentagon is filing charges against six of the alleged plotters, including suspected mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
LEMON: But this is only the beginning, and the path ahead could be filled with political and legal landmines.
Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Kyra Phillips. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
LEMON: And of course, CNN brought you the Pentagon's announcement live just a couple of hours ago.
CNN's Barbara Starr was there, and she joins us now with more -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, what a compelling moment it was when a lone brigadier general stepped to the podium in this building, six-and-a-half years after this place was attacked on the morning of 9/11, to announce charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and five other men charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder.
The Pentagon now indeed saying that basically this is a war crime, the attack on that day. All of these men also by the military being recommended for the death penalty. This will be a lengthy and complex legal proceeding, not quite like any other at Guantanamo Bay. Not exactly like a military proceeding. Not exactly like a civilian court proceeding in the United States.
What will happen now is this package of material, the charges, the request for the death penalty, will be sent to a convening authority. That's a retired judge in charge of all of this. She will look at the material, decide if there is probable cause to move forward, and if so, which it is expected there will be, send it forward, essentially, to the trial process at Guantanamo Bay.
Likely to be lots of appeals. Likely all of this will take a very long time. And, of course, all of this, Don, comes as the controversy has only grown about how confessions were elicited from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others, whether waterboarding -- it now is acknowledged that was used. Will that evidence of any confession under waterboarding be admissible in all of this? Likely to be arguments for months to come -- Don.
LEMON: CNN's Barbara Starr. Barbara, thank you very much for that.
KEILAR: And a developing story in Tennessee. Let's go straight to the newsroom now and T.J. Holmes with details on a school shooting there.
T.J., what can you tell us?
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: We've got a student in critical condition from Mitchell High School there in Memphis, shot by a classmate. The shooter apparently a 17-year-old sophomore; the victim a 19-year-old senior who is now in critical condition.
This happened at the school, Mitchell High School, as I said, in Memphis, Tennessee. A strange situation here, where this dispute apparently happened over the weekend outside of school. And then it ended up coming to school, and it escalated, with the student being shot with other students around. We have some sound here from a couple of students describing the scene.
Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We was in the cafeteria, and then I think they saw Art (ph) and then the dude just upped the gun and shot him about three or four times. And then in the cafeteria, everybody ran out. He was just asking for help, for help. But I don't -- I don't know his name. But I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in the cafeteria with my friends. And that was -- I tried to run. They was just arguing. And all of a sudden the dude got up, walked, turned around and he started shooting.
And dude, he was on top of the table. So he was started laying down, bleeding everywhere. And then he got up and tried to walk, but he fell. He kept on falling, and blood everywhere. But then the coaches and stuff, they were like, calm down, lay down. And he just started shaking and stuff for no reason. And they were like, calm down. And just stopped bleeding and stuff like that, if you calm down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And again, there were about 75 students in that cafeteria when this all went down. Again, the shooter a 17-year-old or rather -- yes a 17-year-old sophomore at the school who is now in custody. And apparently, after he shot his fellow student, he actually walked over to a coach and handed the coach the gun and made no attempt to flee at all.
So again that student is in custody. The alleged shooter is in custody. No other students at the school hurt; no one else targeted, apparently, according to police.
But the victim, a 19-year-old senior, now in critical condition. This is the second shooting in a Memphis High School in the past week. There was another one just last week in -- at a different school, a different high school but still in Memphis, Hamilton High School, where a 16-year-old student was shot, suffered some non-life- threatening injuries.
But always scary when we see these scenes. But now we have a student in critical condition, apparently fighting for his life at a Memphis hospital, after another school shooting there in Memphis. This one in Mitchell High School, guys.
KEILAR: All right, T.J. We know you will keep an eye on that. Thanks for the details there.
Meanwhile, dozens of homes evacuated, tens of thousands without power, all due to wildfires blazing across the dry southeast. One fire near Conway, South Carolina, destroyed several homes and sheds and at least one business. And across the border in North Carolina, crews rushed to contain more than 100 fires that cropped up over the weekend. Some of them were sparked by power lines downed by high winds.
A state of emergency has also been declared in Virginia so National Guard troops can help battle blazes there.
And it was a weekend of cleanup and also remembrance in southern towns hit by a string of tornadoes last week. FEMA has set up a number of mobile offices to help process requests for aid. It says hundreds of victims have already applied for assistance and checks have started to go out already. Close to 60 people were killed as this storm swept across five states.
LEMON: We're talking about cold now, especially in the northeast, Chad Myers joining us now from the CNN weather center.
Chad, I was in New York, got delayed because of the weather. It was, yesterday, like a mini blizzard in New York for a while. And then when I woke up this morning, wind chills of, like, 10 below?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. And now, OK, those people up there may have power.
MYERS: Think about the -- there are still tens of thousands in the Carolinas and the Virginias here that don't have power because of the fires and the winds and all that yesterday. And now your temperature in your house is going to be down to like 15 degrees without any heat in there. So make sure you think about the shelter. First thing you want to do this morning or this afternoon is think about whether you want to just say, OK, I'm bagging it. We're going to the shelter tonight, because this house could get too cold. That's how you basically stay safe in this kind of weather.
Right now it's four -- four -- in Chicago. One below, Minneapolis. These are not wind chill factors. These are temperatures. Seventeen right now in Kansas City. It is 28 in Springfield, Missouri, and four hours of thunder and lightning and 28 degrees. That city is a mess. And it's going to be a mess out to St. Louis right through into Cincinnati, up into Dayton.
I mean, Cincinnati could pick up anywhere from about an inch of ice, depending on where you are in the city, to almost a foot of snow, depending on how much it is rain, sleet or snow. It's still not figured it out yet. The computers don't have a great handle on it yet. But this is a big-time rain event into air that is 28 degrees. And those things never go well.
You say, well, how can it rain and 28? Well, aloft, up in the atmosphere, it's warm enough to rain, a couple thousand feet up. Then it rains down into the cold air that's stuck on the surface, and then gets stuck on the roadways. And the ice storm is going to be all the way -- is already in progress here across Missouri. But it's going to be all the way through Paducah up into Cincinnati, Louisville and even into Columbus, Ohio.
A lot of kids are going to be home from school with an ice day tomorrow, Don. Usually we call them snow days. But well, you're going to get ice; we'll call it an ice day.
LEMON: Yes. And you have some good advice about the folks without power. Get shelter, right?
MYERS: Yes. Unfortunately, they can't even hear me.
MYERS: You know, because their power's out. But, you know, if you know somebody that is, give them a call if their phone still works. And tell them, hey, this is going to be a cold night.
LEMON: Yes. All right. Good advice. Thank you very much for that, Chad Myers.
An update now on the breaking news we had late last week. Remaining hot spots at a smoldering sugar plant thwart the search for two workers. Crews found a sixth body yesterday at the plant near Savannah, Georgia. So far none has been identified.
Today choppers dropped water on areas that are still burning. Several parts of the building are highly unstable. Also today, a burn unit spokesman said 16 of the 17 workers being treated are in critical condition. The fire started Thursday night with a massive explosion in a sugar storage silo. KEILAR: Just hours left for the candidates to get out there before the next round of important presidential contests. This is a live picture that you're looking at here of Senator Barack Obama. He's speaking in College Park, Maryland. That city is part of tomorrow's Potomac Primaries. That's Maryland, Virginia and also Washington, D.C.
For Democrats, Barack Obama's momentum is building after a weekend sweep. He went five for five, winning the Louisiana primary by double digits; also earning decisive caucus victories in Maine, Nebraska, Washington state and also the Virgin Islands.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We won by a sizable margin in Maine. And I want to thank the people of Maine. I want to thank the people of Maine. We have now won on the Atlantic coast. We've won in the Gulf Coast. We've won on the Pacific coast. And we won in between those coasts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Among Republicans Mike Huckabee has put the brakes on John McCain's momentum. Huckabee won in Louisiana and Kansas, and he's contesting McCain's micro slim win in the Washington state caucuses. He says the state party chairman's decision to call the race there early for McCain is reminiscent of elections in communist countries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You don't just throw people's votes out and say, "Well, we're not going to bother counting them, because we kind of think we know where this is going." I mean, I was just stunned. And it's the kind of thing that Republicans across America, not just in Washington state, ought to be outraged over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: On the campaign trail, the focus is on tomorrow's Potomac Primaries, as we said. And the Republican front-runner is spending the day in the region. At a stop this morning in Maryland, John McCain had this to say about his bid to shore up support from his party's conservative base.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've said that we have a lot of work to do to unite the party. Our party is dispirited because of spending and corruption, as we all know, and we've got to reenergize our base.
And also primaries are tough. Look, as I've said before, after the 2000 primary that I had with President Bush, it took some time for my supporters to come over and solidly support President Bush's candidacy, but they certainly did, and I urged them to do so. So these things take a little time. And I'm sure that we can continue the progress we've been making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And for McCain today, a nice little gift: an endorsement from conservative activist Gary Bauer. You may recall that eight years ago Bauer backed McCain after ending his own bid for the Republican nomination.
LEMON: Micro (ph) rivals. Hillary Clinton is focusing on tomorrow's Potomac Primaries, when voters in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., head to the polls. Earlier today, the senator from New York addressed a group of African-American women in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know this is a challenging campaign here. I recognize that. And it's a good problem to have. Isn't it? I mean, when you really stop and think about it, it is a good problem to have.
One of us will make history. We both already have. But one of us will go on to make history as a Democratic nominee. The real question is who will change the country and who will give us the leadership we so desperately need at this moment in our nation's history? I obviously believe the answer to that is me, or I would not be going through this campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, Clinton also has campaign stops today in Maryland and also Virginia.
Winning the Democratic or the Republican nomination for president, it's all about the delegate count. Here's where things stand right now on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton leads with 1,148 delegates. Barack Obama has 1,121. The count includes both pledged and super delegates. It takes 2,025 delegates to win a Democratic nomination.
On the Republican side, a huge advantage for John McCain. He leads with 723 delegates. Mitt Romney, who has suspended his campaign, has 286. Mike Huckabee has 217 and Ron Paul, 16. Those numbers include both pledged delegates and unpledged Republican National Committee delegates. The magic number for clinching the GOP nomination, 1,191.
We have this programming note for you. Michelle Obama on the possibility of being a history-making first lady, and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, both on "LARRY KING LIVE," CNN tonight, 9 p.m. Eastern.
KEILAR: The entertainment industry, crippled by the writers strike, isn't about to come to an end. We're going to tell you what's happening. LEMON: You're watching your weight. Well, who isn't? So you reach for a diet soda, right? Hold on a minute. Might not be such a good idea. We'll tell you about a new study on artificial sweeteners and weight loss.
LEMON: I've got some breaking news coming out of Iraq. And it does not involve the military. Sadly, it involves journalists.
Two CBS journalists are missing in Iraq. We're being told by CBS it is out of Basra in Iraq. They're saying, "All efforts are under way" -- this is a quote from CBS -- "to find them." And until we learn more details CBS News requests that others do not speculate on the identities of those involved. That issued in a statement from CBS just moments ago.
And just a little bit of background here. Basra is Iraq's second largest city in Southeastern Iraq. The missing journalists, their families have been notified.
Again, two CBS journalists missing in Basra, Iraq. And they're asking reporters and everyone not to speculate on their identities. As soon as we get more information on this developing news story involving those two journalists, we'll bring it to you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
In the meantime we're going to talk now about the economy. Economists have been debating if and when the economy will slip into a recession. But a majority of Americans say we're already in one. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange, and she gives us all the details on that.
So what is it, Susan? Are we slipping into one or are we already in one?
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, in some ways it's almost as if it doesn't matter. If enough people, Don, think that the U.S. economy is in a recession, it could very well fall into one if we just change our behavior, because what we do, how much we spend, is the engine of the U.S. economy.
But remember, you know, these -- these perceptions could be shaped by what we're seeing. I mean, Washington is sending a very strong sign that it's worried. This hour, President Bush is speaking about the economy. And later this week, he is expected to sign the $170 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress last week.
And in a period of less than two weeks, the Fed cut interest rates by 1.25 points. That is a big move. So no big surprise in a new AP/IPSES poll, showing 61 percent of Americans say the economy is in a recession.
Now, we may not get the official word on this till months from now, but the poll results could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. People think a recession is occurring, they may act accordingly. And we're seeing signs of that. Spending is indeed falling. That pulled economic growth last year down to the weakest pace in five years.
The housing recession, of course, remains the biggest culprit. Many are worried the labor market is also weakening. This as many of us also battle tight credit conditions, along with high energy and food prices -- Don.
LEMON: Hey, Susan, we want to get right back to you. Speaking of the economy, the president now talking about his 2008 economic plan here. Let's take a listen in.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for your good work. This report indicates that our economy is structurally sound for the long term. And that we're dealing with uncertainties in the short term. And therefore, what should we do about it?
Well, I am so pleased that the Congress and the administration worked closely together to pass a robust, pro-growth package to deal with the uncertainties. That package is about 160 billion plus dollars. What that means is, it means that money will be going directly to America, workers and families and individuals. It also means that there's incentives for American businesses. I'll be signing this bill soon.
But if you're a taxpayer or if you're -- got income up to -- earned income -- I mean, credited income up to $3,000, you can expect money back. And if you're a business owner, you're going to get some incentives to invest. And so you ought to be planning on investing now.
And so I really want to thank the Congress for getting this bill done. And I'm looking forward to signing it. It's going to help deal with the uncertainties in this economy. Thank you all very much.
LEMON: All right. The president talking about a $160-billion stimulus plan, also talking about the state of the economy. Here's specifically what he said, it will add $160 billion plan. This will add, he said -- help taxpayers, because people will directly get money back. So the president signing that now. And just spoke about it moments ago.
If we got more information on the specifics of this -- I know that it was working through Congress and the Senate, and they were trying to figure out exactly what they were going to include in it. But the president has now signed it. That was him speaking about it. Details to come here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
KEILAR: Hollywood writers look set to return to work, but can a TV season be salvaged? That's really the question we all want answered. We're going to have a live report for you from Los Angeles.
LEMON: Twenty-four past the hour. Three of the stories we're working on for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. One student is in critical condition and another is in custody offer a shooting at a Memphis, Tennessee, high school. It happened in the cafeteria as other students looked on. School officials say it might have started with a weekend argument that happened outside school.
McCartney versus Mills, round two. Former Beatle Paul McCartney and his estranged wife, Heather Mills, are back in a London court for more divorce proceedings. It's estimated the case could bring the biggest divorce payout in British legal history.
And add-on in space. A few more hours to go before the latest spacewalk ends at the International Space Station. Two astronauts are now working to help attach a new European lab.
KEILAR: Hollywood set to attempt to salvage a TV season. Striking writers could return to work as early as Wednesday, ending a crippling three-month strike. And with the latest from Los Angeles, let's go now to entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Brianna.
There's a tremendous sense of relief in the entertainment industry as a whole. After more than three months of turmoil, due to the increased economic pressure, because of the threat of possibly losing the fall television season and maybe the season after that, the council and the board of the Writers' Guild moved very quickly this weekend and voted unanimously to approve the deal they made with the Producers Alliance late last week.
Now the members of the Writers' Guild will vote to ratify that contract. That could take a week or longer. But in a separate vote tomorrow, the writers will vote on whether to end the strike.
Picketing has been suspended here and New York pending that vote. So technically, the writers could be back at work on Wednesday, which is great news for everybody involved.
Here's Patric Verrone, president of the Writers' Guild West, talking about the efforts of the writers and also describing this proposed agreement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRIC VERRONE, WGA WEST PRESIDENT: It was arguably the most successful strike of the American labor movement in a decade. Certainly, the most important of this young century. It is not all that we hoped for, and it is not all we deserve. But as I told our members, this strike was about the future, and this deal assures for us and for future generations of writers a share in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ANDERSON: And Brianna, Verrone also said that this is the best deal the guild has bargained for in 30 years and that this is the most successful strike in 35 years. So they're very pleased with the outcome.
KEILAR: And Brooke, I think all of these "Grey's Anatomy" and "Lost" fans out there, what they really want to know is what is this going to mean for TV and also film production?
ANDERSON: Well, it bodes well for production. Timing is critical, though. If the writers do, in fact, go back to work this week, that could possibly save this TV season and May sweeps and salvage the pilot season, which impacts fall -- the fall television season, as well.
Get the wheels turning in film production once again, salvage the Oscars on February 24th. Everybody is happy about that. It brings in millions for Southern California's economy each and every year.
So it's very promising for all of those who have been directly involved and for the countless people who have been indirectly impacted. Brianna, the estimated economic impact at this point in lost wages is more than $1 billion.
KEILAR: Yes. Just amazing numbers there. And all of those folks out there wondering about the Oscars. Well, it looks like maybe we have something to look forward to. So that's very good.
And will the writers have time to put together the Academy Awards show? Thanks, Brooke Anderson, for your report there.
We're going to be talking soon with writer and comedian Bruce Vilanch. He's going to join us live from Los Vegas in the 3 p.m. Eastern hour of NEWSROOM. He's written for the Academy Awards shows since the 1980s.
LEMON: But more importantly, you never know what Bruce Vilanch is going to say.
LEMON: So you want to stick -- make sure you stick -- stick with us for that.
LEMON: Because who knows? Or what he's going to wear.
KEILAR: Yes. That's really the...
LEMON: He could -- I mean, sometimes he wears dresses. One never knows. KEILAR: No. I'm looking forward to it. It will be a surprise.
LEMON: All right. A Beatle's divorce case goes on. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills are back in court today with really, really big bucks at stake.
LEMON: Sparked by the worst terrorist attack on American soil and years in the making, the government's 9/11 case moves forward.
KEILAR: We start with breaking news. More than six years after the attacks, the Pentagon is filing charges against six of the alleged plotters, that includes suspected mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
LEMON: But this is only the beginning, and the path ahead could be filled with political and legal landmines.
Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Kyra Phillips. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
LEMON: OK, so if and when these suspects go to trial, they'll be tried in a revamped military justice system that's barely up and running. That's because the Supreme Court struck down the use of military tribunals to try terror suspects back in 2006, saying it was unconstitutional.
Now that precedent-setting case was successfully represented by my guest here, Charles Swift, who defended Osama bin Laden's driver. He's an Emory University law professor and a former naval attorney. And he joins us now.
First of all, we were talking about the charges here. Even with the charges, even with the death penalty, you don't think the defense has enough resources to even try this case?
CHARLES SWIFT, FORMER NAVAL ATTORNEY: It's not even close.
LEMON: Why not?
SWIFT: Right now they have four active duty defense attorneys that I'm aware of, all of whom have other cases. It has long been a saying in the United States that death is different. None of the people assigned to the Office of the Chief Defense Counsel are qualified in either the military, federal or state system in the death penalty. The standard is two attorneys who are defended, not three or four defendants per attorney. And so they don't have the resources.
LEMON: So, OK, even -- then why go -- why go for this? Because if you're going to charge someone with the death penalty, isn't the bar even a bit higher?
SWIFT: It's -- much higher. LEMON: OK.
SWIFT: And the process -- and this has been evident in United States courts since the '70s. The largest flaw that remains in death penalty cases today is not the constitutionality of the death penalty, but the defense that takes place during it. The government seems to almost intentionally insure that there is not sufficient assets to put on a credible defense.
LEMON: OK. Well let's get back to what the government's saying. It is saying that the charges lay out a long-term, sophisticated plan by the al Qaeda organization to attack the U.S. If the government didn't have an idea, or didn't think that it could win this case, then why would it proceed with death penalty charges for these -- ?
SWIFT: I don't dispute that they think they can win.
SWIFT: What I dispute in the process is that they have failed to include an essential element, an essential element that was put forth in the Hamdan case.
SWIFT: Is that it has to comport with due process. That means the individuals have to have an adequate representation. They also seek to avoid (ph), and this is illustrated by the Hamdan case back in the commissions last week. In Hamdan, down in the commissions, we argued that we ought to be able to talk to many of these same defendants about Mr. Hamdan's role, which was -- he says was non- existent.
The government said we could not even talk to these individuals under any circumstances because they might talk about their interrogation roles. Now that raises a question; how will a defense attorney ever represent these people if they're not allowed to talk to them about the interrogations?
LEMON: That's my next question. Doesn't this open up a whole -- another can of worms about the interrogation process and certain things, waterboarding, that we've been talking about a lot here in the news, that the government may not want brought to light?
SWIFT: Absolutely. And if we use -- we move beyond the torture discussion to the question of using this in a trial where life and death is at stake. If we use waterboarded testimony in that trial, to my knowledge -- and I've studied it fairly extensively, maybe someone can find a different (INAUDIBLE), the last precedent for using that kind of testimony was the Spanish Inquisition. We would then put ourselves in an incredibly unenviable position which is further compromised by the fact that we destroyed the tapes of the interrogations themselves.
LEMON: OK. So -- we -- I said in the intro that tribunals were declared unconstitutional and they were ruled out back in 2006. So then does that leave the government in the position of not being set up to handle these types of cases?
SWIFT: Well Congress gave them a way to do it with the Military Commissions Act, but they continue not to follow the spirit or the letter of the commissions act. This process, to work, has to make sure that both sides, as Alberto Gonzales himself admitted at one point, are represented fully and fairly by competent attorneys who do the best -- who put forth the arguments here. Right now, the government has rigged it to where only one side will have those attorneys.
LEMON: OK, real quickly, then what would you have the government do? How would you have handled this cases? What would you have charged these men with?
SWIFT: There's two ways to handle it. They could have taken it back to a court-martial system, which had trust, or into federal court. At a minimum, they need to make sure the playing field is level by bringing in the federal public defenders at this point. The military does not have the assets to do these cases. And that's been shown again and again, that the most they can come up with, out of active duty attorneys, is four attorneys.
LEMON: But isn't -- and I want to let you go, but this is sort of damned if you do, damned if you don't in this case?
SWIFT: Well if you go into -- I have absolute faith in our system of justice that we can convict an admitted mastermind without using torture to do it. It's the fact that we keep trying to do it that's destroying us, not the fact that somebody like Larry Fitzgerald couldn't get into a courtroom in the United States and convict these people. I believe they could. But the administration won't allow that argument to take place.
LEMON: All right. Charles Swift, I could sit here all day and talk with you, because it's very interesting. You know so much about this. Thank you for joining us today here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
KEILAR: Defense Secretary Robert Gates departed Iraq today after a quick visit. And before departing, he expressed agreement with the U.S. commander on a pause in troop reductions in July. That is when the U.S. force will hit its pre-surge level. And the final decision is expected this spring.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have a process in place. As we've indicated before, General Petraeus will make his recommendations in March to the president and central command, joint chiefs, will make their recommendations and I'll make my recommendation. We'll have to wait until the evaluations are done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Four brigades are coming out by July. Gates said one could come home next month. LEMON: A Beatle's divorce case goes on. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills are back in court today with some really, really big dollars at stake.
LEMON: The answer to this next question is a lot. How much of Paul McCartney's fortune is his estranged wife is asking for? And how much will Heather Mills actually get? A judge is set to finally decide the big bucks battle. The couple arrived separately at a London court today to begin a week-long private hearing on a financial settlement.
The ex-Beatle is thought to be worth as much as $1.6 billion. And legal experts think Mills might be after about $100 million of that. By the way, she's representing herself in court after a fallout with her team of divorce lawyers.
KEILAR: And that news may pale in comparison to the falling out that she had with her husband, though. CNN's Owen Thomas looks back at the love match turned four-year flop.
OWEN THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not long after they met, Heather Mills and Paul McCartney seemed to have a happy future ahead of them. Just before their marriage in 2002 it was all smiles, romance, flowers, public declarations of love. Their wedding in Ireland was a grand affair. The couple appearing before hundreds of well-wishers sharing the moment.
PAUL MCCCARTNEY, FORMER BEATLE: Going to give a picture out tomorrow of the two of us after we got married.
THOMAS: Sir Paul described his wife as strong, beautiful and funny. Heather said he was the most romantic man she'd ever met. But their feelings changed. In 2006, the couple announced their marriage was over. The breakup was actively fought out in the British press.
Leaked court documents, unnamed sources all dishing the dirt on their life together. It was desperately bitter. Many articles suggested Mills was a golddigger. That led to a TV outburst last October where she called the accusations, lies and said she had received death threats.
HEATHER MILLS, EX-WIFE OF PAUL MCCARTNEY: I have been close to suicide, so upset about this. I'm trying to protect Paul and our daughter -- 18 months of abuse. Worse than (INAUDIBLE) people -- 4,400 abusive articles.
THOMAS: Earlier in the year, the couple had tried and failed to reach a settlement in court. Sir Paul seemed relaxed, it was meant to have been a private hearing. He gave a thumbs up, perhaps more in hope than expectation.
Friends have mused about how it had come to this. Friends like Geoff Baker, Paul's former publicist, who worked for him for 15 years but had known the happy marriage he had with Linda McCartney, who died of breast cancer.
GEOFF BAKER, MCCARTNEY'S FORMER PUBLICIST: My personal theory was that Paul was in such deep grief after Linda died that he really didn't know what he was doing. I really think that.
THOMAS: Reputations have been damaged, some wounds may never heal.
Owen Thomas, CNN, London.
KEILAR: All right, lets sweeten things up a little bit here, artificially. Artificial sweeteners, you know they're meant to keep your calorie count low, but are they keeping your weight high? Results of a new study in the CNN NEWSROOM.
KEILAR: Artificial sweeteners are found in tons of diet products, but a new study suggests they may actually be sabotaging your diet. The study focused specifically on saccharin, but researchers say they're now suspicious of other sweeteners as well. So should we dump out our diet sodas ASAP? Well, medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is here with the answer to that.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi. Brianna, this is one of these who'd have thunk it? That you take a replacement that's no calories and replace it with something -- for something that has calories and you actually might gain weight. It sounds so strange. But that's what these researchers found.
They took a group of rats, divided them into two different groups. One group got yogurt with saccharin, also known as Sweet 'N Low, another got yogurt made with real live sugar. And what they found is that the rats who ate the saccharin, they consumed more calories as the days went by, they gained more weight and they put on more body fat.
Now, the folks who make Sweet 'N Low, they don't think much of this study, as you might suspect. And they actually had some fun things to say. So lets take a look at what they had to say. They said, "Just because a rat eats something doesn't mean it is going to happen to people. It is complete nonsense. They should take that money used for this waste for this waste-of-time study and help the poor or find a cure for cancer."
Now, just to emphasize, this is just rats. But it is intriguing. And researchers think it might -- that all artificial sweeteners might have acted this way in the study.
KEILAR: But, OK -- so even if it is just rats, why would a rat who consumes fake sugar, which has no calories, be fatter than a rat that is consuming real sugar with calories?
COHEN: Right. It doesn't seem to make much sense. So we asked the American Dietetic Association how could this be? And the spokeswoman said, look, this is what happens, your body craves sugar. It's a very natural thing to crave sugar. And, when you think you're going to get it but you don't, you crave it more. And so you want to eat and eat and eat. Now that was her theory about why this happens. There's really no saying exactly why these rats seem to gain weight.
KEILAR: So should people stay away from sugar substitutes, ice cream or even the diet soda? It's all --
COHEN: Right, it's all those things. You can do what one doctor suggested is, look, this is a study on rats. You certainly wouldn't want to change your eating habits based on a rat study. But, if you're eating a lot of these artificial sweeteners, and you're finding that you're gaining weight or not losing weight, you can do an experiment. Go off of them for a while and eat the real stuff and see what happens. You can always switch back, it's not going to hurt you to go in either direction, so.
KEILAR: All right. So just use your common sense and see what works for you.
COHEN: See what works for you. Everybody's probably going to be different.
KEILAR: OK. All right, Elizabeth, thanks very much.
COHEN: Thank you.
LEMON: It's like those low carb diets. You know what I mean?
COHEN: They work for some people, they don't for others.
LEMON: But I don't really like carbs that much. But then when I'm on a low-carb diet, I'm like bread --
COHEN: That's true. That's true.
LEMON: All right. Making an impact this election season, well we'll look at how younger voters are turning out in record numbers.
LEMON: From terrorism to spying, the government's got a full legal plate this afternoon. We're expecting the Justice Department to announce espionage-related charges next hour against a civilian worker at the Defense Department. Sources familiar with the case tell CNN the charges involve efforts to give secret military technology to China.
They say some Chinese citizens are also facing charges in federal court in Los Angeles. Now we're expecting a news conference from the Justice Department in just a few minutes at the top of the hour, and we'll bring that to you live when it begins.
KEILAR: Flags are flying at half staff on Capitol Hill right now to remember 14-term Congress man Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress. The California Democrat died today just a month after revealing he had cancer of the esophagus, and just over a year of taking the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Lantos lost his mother and much of his family in the Holocaust, and he himself twice escaped from a concentration camp. He died surrouning by his wife of nearly 60 years, his two daughters. Many of his 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Lantos was 80- years-old.
LEMON: Topping our political ticker, a shake-up in Hillary Clinton's campaign. Longtime Clinton aide Maggie Williams is taking over as campaign manager. She replaces Patti Solis Doyle, who will continue to work in the campaign as a senior adviser. The move comes after Barack Obama's victories over the weekend in the Louisiana primaries and caucuses in Nebraska, Washington State, Virgin Islands and also in Maine.
Outrage from Mike Huckabee over Saturday's Republican caucuses in Washington State. He says the party chairman's decision to call the race early for John McCain is reminiscent of elections in communist countries. The campaign said the chairman called the race for McCain when Huckabee was only losing by 242 votes, and more than 1,500 votes remained to counted. Huckabee says he has sent lawyers to Washington to formally challenge the result.
Along with his weekend political sweep, Barack Obama racked up a big win on a different stage. The audio version of his book "The Audacity of Hope" won a Grammy for best spoken word album. Among those that he beat in the category, former President Bill Clinton. Both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, though, have won Grammys in that category in the past.
KEILAR: For decades, politicians have tried to get young people out to vote only to be ignored for the most part. But this year things are different. Energized by the Internet, young voters are making a difference.
CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're coming in waves, in oceans, a tsunami of young voters are flooding into this election. Energized by a trifecta, candidates who speak their language, new media technology that grabbed their attention, and issues that strike home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resolve this Iraq War.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The economy. FOREMAN: And no one is benefiting more than the youngest candidate of them all, Barack Obama, who has courted the kids from the start.
OBAMA: I'm only going to win if all of you caucus.
FOREMAN: It began in Iowa, where record numbers of young voters turned out, shocking political pros, and giving Obama 57 percent of their vote. Clinton took only 11 percent. And that trend has continued, state after state. But why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're very cynical. They've grown up being sold to.
FOREMAN: At the University of Maryland, Professor Sherry Parks studies American culture, and she says Obama is simply speaking the language of youth and speaking it very, very well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They can pick out someone who's giving them the same canned speech over and over again, because they can just go on YouTube and see. They do go on YouTube and see that you're giving them the same speech you gave someone else. And they don't like it very much.
FOREMAN: The second part of this equation -- technology. From viral videos to online headquarters and social networking sites like Facebook, to campaigning in online worlds like second life, the Internet and technology have allowed young people to create their own commercials, meet up with others, and even start their own campaigns. And it's working.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's working. My classmates are constantly showing me the latest YouTube advertisement coming out from the candidates. So, I mean, they're really stimulating people and motivating them. I think that A lot of people tend to be apathetic or at least very busy and have other commitments, but I think that people -- it might be under the surface, but people want to get involved but they need more encouragement.
FOREMAN: In every election, some candidates say the youth vote will come through, and it never does. Not like it has this time, at least. And it may come down to issues. And this time, just because it does not look like a riot, does not make it any less revolutionary.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
KEILAR: And primaries tomorrow in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. For more on tomorrow's so-called Potomac primaries, you go to cn CNNpolitics.com, where you'll also find the latest delegate count and information on all the candidates. All of that and more at CNNpolitics.com.
LEMON: All right, think you had a rough commute in this morning? Look at this. Wow, where's the road? Slippery winter weather is turning freeways into demolition derbys.
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