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AMERICAN MORNING

Fight for Iraq: Maliki Issues 72-Hour Deadline; Democratic Divide; A Pregnant Man? Big Breakup: Massive Ice Shelf Hanging by a Thread

Aired March 26, 2008 - 06:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad saying that mortars have hit the heavily reinforced Green Zone. Three Americans said to be seriously injured. The embassy is telling CNN they're all U.S. government officials. There's also a demand this morning from Iraq's prime minister as his forces battle militants in Basra and Baghdad, and President Bush meets with his military men at the Pentagon.
Nouri al-Maliki is warning militants they have 72 hours to surrender, fighting between Iraqi forces and supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr raging now for a second day, and it's flaring in the southern city of Basra as well as six neighborhoods in Baghdad.

CNN's Kyra Phillips is in Baghdad this morning. She's working this story for us right now and will be joining us live just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the U.S. military is now admitting that a serious mix-up occurred that could spark tensions with China. The Pentagon says it accidentally sent ballistic missile parts to the island nation of Taiwan. It was supposed to send helicopter batteries instead. The screwup happened back in 2006, but the military says it just figured it all out last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN HENRY, DEP. UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE: When informed this past Friday morning, the secretary directed the immediate return of the equipment to U.S. custody and there was positive control. The president was subsequently notified that day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: An investigation is under way now to determine exactly how the mistake occurred. The United States also had to inform China, which objects to all arm sales to Taiwan.

Well, Ford is saying Tata to two of its luxury auto brands. Actually, saying Tata. Gerri Willis now here, with -- who it's selling to, what it means for Ford. This is really quite an incredible deal.

GERRI WILLIS, PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: It's amazing, and particularly if you're fans of this luxury brand. Listen to this. Is this a good fit for Tata? Ford Motor Company trying to shore its business which has been ailing. They've shed workers. They've had major losses, some 15 billion over about two years.

Now, they are selling their luxury brands Range Rover and Jaguar to Tata, an Indian carmaker. Now, Tata is best known for selling this very low price tag car, $2,500, the Nano. So it's an interesting match of products. It's like Wal-Mart and Sak's Fifth Avenue getting together.

ROBERTS: I like it this morning if Bergdorf was sold to Kmart. It's really wild.

WILLIS: It is wild. It is wild. But you know, Ford is struggling here, and they are trying to focus on their core brands. So they're selling these brands for about $2 billion to $3 billion depending on who you read this morning on what that price tag is. It's an interesting deal. The real moral of the story will be, will Ford be able to turn around what it's doing.

ROBERTS: Right. And, I mean, what does it mean for Tata? As you said, this is a brand that's got this tiny little car, and that's all they've got. Can they service a luxury brand like Jaguar and Range Rover?

WILLIS: Oh, that's a great question. You know, these two brands have been suffering a bit with Ford as you probably know. They had problems. Even Ford had problems with these two brands. It will interesting to see if this Indian carmaker can do better. But I have to tell you, it's going to be -- it's going to be a big job for them.

ROBERTS: Right. Gerri Willis, thanks very much.

WILLIS: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Ali Velshi, by the way, is off today, so Gerri is going to be filling in today.

WILLIS: Correct.

ROBERTS: And lots coming up on the economy today as well.

WILLIS: Absolutely. We've got -- we're going to have a lot of stuff for you later in the show. I'll be back in about half an hour.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to it. Thanks, Gerri -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, the presidential race returns to full strength this morning after a vacationing Barack Obama returns to the campaign trail. The three top candidates stumping in different states. There's Senator John McCain delivering a major foreign policy speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. It comes just a day after picking up the endorsement of former first lady Nancy Reagan. And it could help strengthen McCain's conservative support. The two met yesterday at Mrs. Reagan's home in southern California.

Hillary Clinton teams up with her daughter Chelsea this afternoon. They're at a campaign event in Washington. Chelsea getting a taste of the rough and tumble life of the campaign trail. Yesterday at Butler University in Indiana, she was asked a tough question about the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHELSEA CLINTON, FORMER FIRST DAUGHTER: Wow. You're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question. In the -- I don't know, maybe 70 college campuses that I have now been to, and I do not think that's any of your business.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: It was supposed to be the last question of the event, but Chelsea said she didn't want to end on that note so she took one more about global warming.

And Senator Clinton entered the controversy over Barack Obama's pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Clinton criticizing Obama for not disassociating himself from Wright.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor. We don't have a choice when it comes to our relatives. We have a choice when it comes to our pastors and the churches we attend.

Everyone will have to decide these matters for themselves. They are obviously very personal matters. But I was asked what I would do if he were my pastor, and I said I think the choice would be clear for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: A spokesman for Barack Obama responded, "After originally refusing to play politics with this issue, it's disappointing to see Hillary Clinton's campaign sink to this low in a transparent effort to distract attention away from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia." So another shot over the back of the Barack Obama campaign as well.

Meanwhile, as for the Reverend Wright, he's staying out of sight at least for now. He did not preach at a revival last night. The pastor of the Tampa Church hosting the revival hastily called off Wright's appearance citing security concerns.

ROBERTS: It's five minutes after the hour. Our Veronica De La Cruz here now with other stories new this morning. Good morning to you.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you. It's nice to see you. And good morning to you.

Well, Federal Appeals Court has struck down a New York law aimed at keeping you comfortable while stranded on a tarmac for more than three hours. Under the New York law, the only one of its kind in the country, airlines face fines if they fail to provide food, water, fresh air and rest rooms during lengthy delays. The ruling said the issue is one for federal regulators to decide.

So we are asking you the question this morning, we want to know what you think. Send us an e-mail about all of this. Just log on to CNN.com/am, follow the links.

And the pilot of a U.S. Airways plane may have been mishandling a firearm when it went off in flight. That's all according to a federal air marshal. The pilot, who's been removed from duty, says he accidentally fired the gun blasting a hole in the cockpit. There are no injuries, and the plane was able to land safely. The TSA says the pilot was authorized to carry a gun.

Well, the FBI may have a break in one of the most famous unsolved mysteries, the D.B. Cooper case. Some kids dug up a parachute in southwestern Washington State. Cooper hijacked a plane in 1971 and jumped out of it with $200,000 in ransom money. He was never found.

The kids found the chute right in the area where Cooper has thought to have landed, and it is the same type of chute he used. The FBI is trying to confirm if it is, in fact, the real thing.

And a new report details the troubles for Social Security and Medicare. Trustees for the government program said the reserves in Medicare will be depleted by 2019, Social Security by 2041. This year, Medicare will begin paying out more than it collects in taxes. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is one of the trustees responsible for the report. He said changes need to be made to avoid a major problem in the future.

Well, it's being called a statistical Katrina. The United States Census Bureau warns the 2010 count is in trouble because its new handheld computer system is not up to task. And nearly $300 million in the making, officials warn the device may not be reliable and is too complicated for some door to door head counters to use. The census bureau is now considering using paper and pencils to count. It's a change that would add an additional $2 billion to the $11 billion cost.

And a researcher at the New England Historic Genealogical Society looked deep into the roots of the family trees of the presidential candidates and found some pretty interesting relatives. Hillary Clinton, who is a French Canadian on her mother's side, may be related to other famous French Canadians, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Camilla Parker Bowles. The belief is that all French Canadians may be descended from the same group of 17th century immigrants.

And then on Barack Obama's side, there's Brad Pitt and six U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush, Vice president Dick Cheney. And the research found out because of his varied ancestry, take a listen to this, Obama could actually be related to millions of Americans.

CHETRY: That narrows it down. John, you're all related.

ROBERTS: That's sort of could we all be -- I mean, who knows. CHETRY: Are you French Canadian?

ROBERTS: No, not French Canadian. Scottish and English.

(CROSSTALK)

DE LA CRUZ: OK. So my father is French German Jewish.

CHETRY: He was related to Angelina Jolie.

DE LA CRUZ: Right. Well, you know, -- OK. So my dad is European and my mom is Asian. So I'm definitely related to you, and that means I could very well be related to you as well, John.

CHETRY: See that.

ROBERTS: You know, it's seven steps to Kevin Bacon, right?

DE LA CRUZ: All right.

ROBERTS: Somewhere along the line --

CHETRY: Six degrees of separation.

ROBERTS: Somewhere along the line we're all related.

DE LA CRUZ: Oh, we are. We're all one big AMERICAN MORNING family. So, there you go.

CHETRY: How about that? All right. Thanks, Veronica.

Still ahead, it's one of the wildest stories in pictures that you'll see. Is this real, a pregnant man? Well, he claims that he's pregnant, five months along. We'll tell you that story.

Also, with all the mud slinging between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama hurting the Democratic Party? We'll find out who may be working on a truce, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's 12 minutes after the hour now.

Barack Obama gets back on the campaign trail today after a brief holiday in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and he is likely to face questions about Hillary Clinton's latest attack on him and his former pastor. But perhaps the bigger question, can the candidates survive this vicious primary still intact, still weeks to go?

We turn now to CNN political analyst John Dickerson in Washington. John, John McCain is out there traveling the world, giving big speeches on the economy, national security today. Meanwhile, all we hear from the Democrats is about all this bickering back and forth. Is the Democratic Party at risk of imploding here in the next few weeks? JOHN DICKERSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there are two big threats to the Democratic Party. The first is that Hillary Clinton, in order to go forward, basically has to keep beating up on Barack Obama, and Obama is hitting back pretty hard. You know, a lot of people talk about how it's impossible for Hillary Clinton to beat his insurmountable lead among pledged delegates. But the Obama campaign is behaving like they're behind. They're taking some tough shots at Hillary Clinton, too, going right at the heart of her character.

And so, the system is built -- you've got this built intention. It's basically you got them beating each other up until they get to the convention or it looks that way, anyway.

ROBERTS: There are more and more calls for Hillary Clinton to give it up, to say, you know, OK, we ran a good race. Now, it's time to get out. David Brooks had a lengthy opinion piece in the "New York Times" about that yesterday. Other people are saying though, John, why should she drop out? She's up by double digits in Pennsylvania, and it's only four weeks away.

DICKERSON: That's right. I mean, the argument that she should drop out, lots of people making it, aren't exactly dispassionate observers. Many of them -- although David Brooks isn't in this camp -- are Obama supporters, of course, and they argue that the only way she can win is by so badly damaging Obama. That if she won it, the prize wouldn't be worth having and that she would alienate African- Americans, first time voters and liberals.

And so, she should just get out since there's no mathematical way she can get it as you point out. There are also others who say, wait a minute, why not let them go forward. The debate is good for both of them, and she can, in fact, pull it out.

ROBERTS: I mean, there are plenty of primary seasons that have gone well past this point, right? So why not this one? A lot of people are saying.

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton rang in in the Jeremiah Wright controversy. Let's listen to how she put it. She was asked a question, she responded to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor. We don't have a choice when it comes to our relatives. We have a choice when it comes to our pastors and the churches we attend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So again, John, she was asked the question, she responded to a question but some people are saying the way she responded to the question was an attempt to deflect attention away from the story that have been dogging her, and that was her misstatement about that trip to Bosnia in 1996. What do you think? Was she deflecting? DICKERSON: Well, she certainly hasn't addressed the issue in this fashion before. And even though she was asked a question, there are plenty of questions you can ask her where she'll demure. She didn't in this case.

And I think that's right. They've had a really bad couple of days of it as that footage has come out about her trip to Bosnia not being as she portrayed it. And so, this is an effort to get this a little back in the news, something that was dogging Obama.

Again, it's something that if you're an African-American democratic voter, this is probably not going to make you very happy. And if Hillary Clinton somehow pulls this off, you know, how are they going to feel about her bringing this up in this way? It's dangerous for her.

ROBERTS: Let me completely switch gears here and go from back and forth to an actual issue here, because a lot of people want to know about the issues. Yesterday, Henry Paulson, looking at status report from Medicare and Social Security had a pretty dire warning for what lies ahead with those two entitlement programs. Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECRETARY: If we do not take action soon to reform Social Security and Medicare, the coming demographic bulge will jeopardize ability of these programs to support people who depend on them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: He also suggested that if a situation is not addressed and it needs to be addressed by the next president, that it's going to have a serious affect on our prosperity going forward. John, why aren't we hearing the candidates talk about this?

I remember back to the 2000 campaign, Al Gore, all he talked about was this Social Security lockbox. It was a huge issue back then. Why is nobody talking about it now?

DICKERSON: Well, there are a couple of reasons people aren't talking about it now. The first is that it requires pain and sacrifice and difficult decisions. And right now, as people are hurting with the economy and bad news about the economy comes out day to day, the candidates are in a race to outpander each other, show people how they're going to fix the economy. Nobody wants -- no candidate wants to say, well, you know, while you're feeling pain you may feel more of it as we shrink the budget and deal with these long- term entitlement programs, or we change these long-term entitlement programs that many of you have dreamed about having at the end of your life when you retire.

So it's a kind -- it's a problematic issue to talk about. And to the extent they have talked about Social Security in the democratic race, Obama and Clinton have essentially stayed very much at the margins. The only candidate really to talk about entitlements at length has been Fred Thompson.

ROBERTS: That was a very worrisome statement that Paulson came out with yesterday and certainly this administration, the current administration, hasn't been able to do much on Social Security either. So, a lingering problem that probably will come up as this campaign goes on.

John Dickerson for us this morning from Washington. John, we'll check back with you next hour. See what else is on the plate. Thanks.

DICKERSON: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: Kiran?

CHETRY: Well, here's the story that has a lot of people talking this morning. Thomas Beatty says that he is five-months pregnant. In fact, he wrote an article for advocate.com. He used to be a woman, but several years ago he began taking hormones to become a man. He says he's legally a man, legally married to a woman, but he still kept his female reproductive organs. He says he stopped taking his hormones and was able to get pregnant through artificial insemination. One neighbor of his, though, is not exactly believing his story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON SCHLIEPER, NEIGHBOR: Quite frankly, I think it's a hoax. I saw him just a few days ago. He didn't look like that. He was walking down the street with his -- what I thought was his wife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, again, he says he is five months along, that a healthy baby girl is due in July of this year. And the reason that he decided to do this is because his wife, who, you know, is a female and lives with a female -- seriously --

ROBERTS: As far as we know.

CHETRY: Had severe endometriosis so couldn't carry their child. So he said, well, even though I'm transgender I kept my female reproductive organs. So, let's go for it.

ROBERTS: So, is he a man or is he a woman?

CHETRY: He's biologically a woman, except he was taking testosterone.

ROBERTS: Right. I guess -- how do you define gender these days?

CHETRY: I don't know, but let's look at the picture one more time. Do you buy it?

ROBERTS: Well, photo shop can do a lot. But I don't know. I mean, how can you really tell? We need to see the guy in person, and we need to see an ultrasound. CHETRY: We need to see an ultrasound. We see him few months down the road.

ROBERTS: Yes. Because I think there have been plenty of photo shop pictures out there that look similar to that. So I think we need a little more proof before we can actually say whether it is or not.

CHETRY: Well, here, this is real. It's one of the most popular stories on CNN.com right now.

A gargantuan chunk of ice hanging by an icicle in Antarctica. Check that out. Time to say that it could fall into the ocean at any moment and you won't believe how big it is. We'll show you more of those pictures coming up.

ROBERTS: Wow. Incredible.

CHETRY: Air marshal missing in action. We're not supposed to know when they're on board. But just how often are they there?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The numbers are classified because the numbers are embarrassing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Drew Griffin with some sobering statistics ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Coming up on 23 minutes after the hour. And a very literal sign of the times in your "Hot Shot" now. It used to be Georgee's restaurant in Lake Alford, Florida, as you can see now closed due to the economy. Because of high gasoline prices and inflation, people just aren't eating out as much. Probably we'll see a lot more of that in the months ahead as well.

If you've got a "Hot Shot," send it to us. Head to our Web site at CNN.com/am and follow the "Hot Shot" link. Please be sure to include your name, where you're from, a little bit about the picture and video, and make sure that the image is yours and not someone else's -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Hanging by a thread, that's how scientists are describing an Antarctic ice shelf that's getting ready to plunge into the ocean. In fact, take a look at yourself. It's one of the most popular stories right now on CNN.com.

There's a look at it. The massive shelf a shade bigger than the entire state of Connecticut. British scientists say that just a narrow strip of ice is keeping the 5,500 square mile block chunk from breaking away. And they're blaming it on global warming.

Extreme pictures from the bottom of the world. Rob Marciano is at the weather update desk in Atlanta this morning tracking extreme weather. They got to keep a camera on that thing because when it does finally breakaway, that's going to be an amazing sight as well.

ROB MARCIANO, AMERICAN MORNING METEOROLOGIST: Yes, those are dramatic pictures. It's tough to get a plane up and to get those aerial shots. Of course, it's summer down there and the end of summer now. Other shots of this, so we'll give you a little bit of perspective where this peninsula is. Let's go to the maps and show you a little bit of the map of Antarctica and what we're looking at here.

Here's that area. But it's -- you probably should also know that a good majority of Antarctica is actually cooling. So just remember that. But scientists think that as the ozone hole heals, that the entire continent will continue to warm regardless of a very complex system. This is the area that is breaking up and as you mentioned the size of Connecticut. There's a close-up shot of some of these chunks that continue to break apart.

They are in the ocean already, so sea level rise will not be affected by this. All right. Back to the northeast we go. And this is a little punch of moisture that's heading across, well, the highly populated I-95 corridor. Just a little bit of sprinkles and spritzes to get your day going in the tri-state area from Yonkers to Manhattan's Staten Island, to Detroit (ph), Westchester County up to Fairfield County getting a little bit of moisture into your morning commute.

Farther upstate you go up the through way and some moisture in the form of some rain and snow mixture getting into Hunter Mountain, some of the mountains in the Catskills and maybe southern Vermont also. Watching the flood threat we're still seeing severe flooding across parts of eastern Arkansas and through the Mississippi River.

And again this -- all this water has got to get down through the Mississippi in through the Baton Rouge area and that's not going to happen for well over a week. And as luck would have it later on this week, we have a threat for seeing some more rain in the areas that have already seen way too much. Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: All right, Rob, thanks a lot.

ROBERTS: A Federal Appeals Court has rejected a New York State law requiring airlines to provide food, water, working toilets and fresh air to passengers during tarmac delays of three hours or more. The law was the only one of its kind in the country. The federal court said, while the measure has good intentions, it was up to federal regulators and not individual states to decide on such rules. State of California still working on a similar law, though.

We want to know this morning, do you agree with the Federal Appeals Court's decision to reject the New York law aimed at protecting delayed passengers? Cast your vote at CNN.com/am. We'll have results coming up later on this hour.

CHETRY: And you're watching the "Most News in the Morning." Still ahead, air marshals, they're supposed to be on flights to protect us in the skies. But how many are really on the flights that we take every day?

This morning they're speaking out. It's a special CNN Special Investigation's Unit report, and we'll bring it to you in just a moment.

Also, a side of Chelsea Clinton that we don't usually see responding to a question about the Monica Lewinsky scandal. That story and today's headlines when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Beautiful shot this morning of New York City. Live picture there, 44 degrees right now. Partly cloudy, kind of feels like 38. Seemed chilly this morning. But anyway, going up to a high of 58 degrees.

So there's your spring, John. I know we've been talking about when we're actually feel like it. Nearly 60.

ROBERTS: It's getting closer, ever so closer. Might be a day to get out there and spend a little bit of time in the park today.

CHETRY: Get your flight helmet.

ROBERTS: Yes.

Now, a CNN Special Investigations Unit report to tell you about this morning. Federal air marshals. Their job is to keep you safe in the skies. Since the September 11th attacks, the government says that the number of air marshals hired and trained has been increased. But the exact number of armed plainclothes officers assigned to protect you is classified. And as you're about to hear from the Air Marshals themselves, there's simply are not enough of them and they need help.

Our Drew Griffin joins me now with more on this troubling development. He's down in Atlanta.

How could this possibly be? We've heard so much about the protection on the aircraft, doesn't seem to be there.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes in many cases, John, non- existent at all. Scary prospect to a lot of travelers to learn just one out of 100 flights in the U.S. That's one percent of the 28,000 U.S. domestic flights a day actually have Air Marshals on board. That's what numerous sources have been telling CNN over this four month investigation. We've heard it from armed pilots on board. And we have heard it quite frankly from many, many Air Marshals themselves. Some of whom did talk to us on camera, though fearing retribution, they didn't want their faces shown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN (on camera): If I would say one percent, less than one percent, would I be far from the mark? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so, you'd be far from the mark.

CAPT. DAVE MACKETT: AIRLINE PILOTS SECURITY ALLIANCE: We're near the coverage that they are asserting they have. I think they are whisking past the graveyard, hoping against hope that this house of cards that they call airline security doesn't come crashing down around them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: The pilots and these armed Air Marshals want people to know this, even though this is somewhat of a national security secret we're told by the TSA. The Air Marshals are telling us it's a national security embarrassment that needs to be improved. The department needs to be fixed. But here is what the TSA said, John, and I want to make clear that the TSA would not sit down and talk to us, would not answer any of our questions. We thought we had an interview set up with the Federal Air Marshals director. That was backed out at the last minute. But they have decided to respond on their own Web site and here is what they are saying.

While the exact number of flights that Air Marshals protect is classified because we don't want terrorists to play a mathematical guessing game based on percentages, the actual number of flights that Air Marshals cover is thousands per day. This represents exponentially more than the one percent and as well into double digits.

We also we're told that the Federal Air Marshals employs an intelligence driven and risk based approach to covering flights. We have the entire TSA response link to our Web site at cnn.com, along with the rest of this story. But we did run this story and our reporting by some critics of the TSA. One in particular former Indiana Congressman Democrat, Tim Roemer, who was on the 9/11 Commission.

John, as you know, he voted against the Department of Homeland Security being organized because he thought it would just be a bureaucratic waste. He hasn't changed his opinion. And he said this story and others that show screeners not detecting simulated bombs at airports and air cargo going undetected points to big, big problems at TSA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM ROEMER, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I think we've got a lot of work to go. I think complacency has set in to some degree. And I think we need to come up with some ideas to shake up this five-year-old department to make sure it works better from the TSA across the board.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: And absolutely Congressman Roemer says one out of 100 flights being covered doesn't appear to him to be of much safety in the skies when it comes to this Air Marshall program.

John?

ROBERTS: Drew, let me come back to this TSA statement where they said it's an intelligence and risk based assessment as to the deployment of these Air Marshals. There are plenty of flights that I fly, where I know that there are Air Marshals on board. Are they targeting certain routes that they think might be at higher risk and that there are other routes that they don't see a necessity for putting an Air Marshall on?

GRIFFIN: John, it's been very frustrating dealing with the TSA. Again, we're only getting these statements. No question-and-answer, no follow-ups. So we really don't know what they say when they mean this risk based approach.

I'll tell you this. We talked to pilots who fly in and out of New York, in and out of Reagan, in and out of Dallas. These are the airports you think would have a very high priority. One of them told us he hadn't seen an Air Marshall on board his flight in six months. So we are just not sure from the TSA what they are doing. We can only report what the Air Marshals are telling us, what the pilots are telling us, and they're telling us their concerns.

ROBERTS: Yes. I guess I could add anecdotally speaking I haven't seen as many lately as I did in months past either. Drew Griffin for us this morning. Startling investigation. A good one, too. Drew, thanks very much.

GRIFFIN: Sure.

ROBERTS: Kiran?

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Also new this morning, the Federal Aviation Administration rolling out new technology to improve runway safety. According to this morning's "New York Times," runway warning lights similar to traffic signals will be installed at the nations 20 busiest airports during the next three and a half years. That technology is being tested right now in Dallas and Los Angeles. The FAA says it's dramatically reduced any close calls.

We also are following breaking news this morning out of Iraq where fighting between Iraqi forces and supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr now entering a second day.

Just hours ago, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave militants a 72 hour deadline to give up their weapons. Iraq's Interior Ministry says at least 18 people died in clashes today in Baghdad. As many as 50 were killed yesterday when fighting broke out in the Southern City of Basra. Iraqi troops are trying to hold a civil disobedience movement by supporters of al-Sadr.

Also, an explosion at a fireworks warehouse in Dubai triggering a fire that could keep burning for hours. Here are some of the pictures of the smoke and flames. Firefighters battling still to bring it under control. It's already spread to 81 buildings. There are reports one person died in this. More than $200 million in damage. Well, Chelsea Clinton showing a tougher side on the campaign trail. Yesterday at Butler University in Indiana, she responded to a student's question about the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHELSEA CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE'S DAUGHTER: Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the, I don't know, maybe 70 college campuses that I have now been to. And I do not think that's any of your business.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, that was supposed to be the last question of the event but Chelsea didn't want to end on that note so she said she was going to take one more question and she did. It was about global warming.

Well, a Kansas man is being forced to post signs all over his house and on his car saying that he is a sex offender. Leroy Shad was ordered to post these signs as part of a five-year probation and house arrest sentence. This is after he pleaded guilty to aggravated indecent solicitation of a child. We bring in AMERICAN MORNING' legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

So just to take up a legalese, he molested some kids.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. I mean, he was charged with convicting two kids. One, a 9-year-old and one, 11-year-old. And so we're talking about a serious thing here. I think what's interesting, Kiran, is when I was researching the story, I struggled with it the same way that I struggle with these cases when I was a prosecutor. Judges struggle with this. Prosecutors really struggle with this.

And the question is does this punishment that he's been given make children safer? And I think the answer to that is probably. I don't know that this is any different than the sex registry. Sex registries require offenders to register where they live, what they are doing, where they work. Their pictures are listed. And any family that has small children should check the Internet and should check to see whether these offenders are living in their community.

In this case, we're talking about a small community, about 150 people. 72-year-old again charged with molesting two young children, convicted of molesting one. What do you do in this sort of situation? I think this was a difficult call for the judge to make.

You know, well, the prosecutors allowed him to plea to a lesser charge. He could have gone to jail and instead received five years probation. So in this instance, I mean, was the judge trying to, I guess, work within whatever parameters he could work within? Or if he pleaded to a lesser charge, you really can't go to jail but the judge is trying to make sure that people are inform that this guy is living here.

HOSTIN: Sure. And he could have gone to jail for three years even under these lesser charge. And the judge found that house arrest would be safer. But again, the dependent in this case...

CHETRY: Safer for whom?

HOSTIN: It's safer for him. Safer than prison because prison is not a nice place for child molesters, especially for a 72-year-old child molester. So the judge again weighing the balance. Is this safer for the community, safer for the defendant, in this case safer for the defendant to be in the community but not necessarily safe for children. And again, as you know, Kiran, we've talked about this all the time. You have to make your society safe for children. And that is what this judge is trying to do.

CHETRY: He's also appealing -- and there is a picture of him. Leroy Shad is appealing this saying that it's putting him at risk. That possibly he could be the victim of violence because of these signs.

HOSTIN: Well, there's no question that he could be the victim of violence. And that is what the judge was trying to avoid in prison. And so I think this challenge is going to be taken seriously, Kiran. But again, I don't know that this is any different than a sex registry. And there is now legislation that has been posed, not passed, that would require sex offenders to have different license plates.

As a mother, a person in society, I want that. And I've been a proponent of that for a long time. And I think that that will pass in certain jurisdictions.

CHETRY: It's a tough situation. I mean, the lives of the children are certainly changed forever.

HOSTIN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

CHETRY: Victims of sex abuse at a very difficult time. And in this instance, it really -- at least the judge is saying is about protecting others in the community from having to go through the same thing.

HOSTIN: And if you are a mom in that community or dad in that community, don't you want to know where he lives and you want to know where he is. You want to know whether or not he has access to your children and that is what the judge in this case is trying to do. Tough call.

CHETRY: All right. Well, the appeal is still happening, so we'll see how the ruling turns out. Sunny, great to see you, thanks.

HOSTIN: Thanks.

ROBERTS: 40 minutes after the hour now. The economy, issue number one on the campaign trail. We're hearing from the presidential candidates and breaking down the plan from Senator John McCain, coming up next.

And a car stolen in broad daylight. The crime caught on tape. And if you think this guy is dumb now, wait until you see where this caper happened ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

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ROBERTS: The police were already there, so was the camera crew. The only thing that was missing was a really stupid criminal. Then take a look at this.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't roll your window down all the way, request ID. For instance, if I were driving an unmarked car, I still had my badge, I still have my ID, I still have my police equipment with me. That's going to be every officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Police in Gilbert, Arizona say a suspect stole a car that was parked right in front of the police station, in full view of the police and that television camera that was there for an unrelated interview. Apparently, the suspect was thinking of buying the car from the owner but thought, well, I'll just save a little money if I steal it. Police did catch up with him after a short chase.

CHETRY: That has got to be staged. The guy stops speaking, pause, and said watch out.

ROBERTS: It almost sounded like it did. But apparently it was all true.

CHETRY: Well, we saw it with our own eyes. It has to be true.

Gerri Willis joins us now. You know the candidates for president all talked about issue number one as we've been talking about the economy.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Right.

CHETRY: And John McCain also talking yesterday a little bit about his plans and his ideas and also what he thinks of this ongoing mortgage crisis.

WILLIS: Right. He really focused in on the mortgage crisis for the first time really. And he said he wasn't going to play election politics with the issue. He blamed rampant speculation and complacent lenders for the problems that we're having. And his solutions are not about a bailout.

In fact, most of the solutions he suggested could be done without spending any money. More transparency in lending. Higher capital reserves. That means more money on hand for bankers to use in case they run into the kinds of problems we've seen. Here is how he described his philosophy about the mortgage crisis and dealing with it.

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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've always been committed to the principal that it's not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.

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WILLIS: All right. So McCain is staying true to form here. He is saying that there shouldn't be a government bailout. What's more, people need to take responsibilities for the mistakes they made. Couldn't be in sharper contrast to what Hillary Clinton said on Monday.

She had a wide ranging plan for solving the mortgage meltdown. She's talked extensively about a $30 billion bailout. On Monday, she also said there should be a working group of experts including people like Robert Reuben, the former Treasury secretary who helped bail out the Asian crisis in 1997. She's also calling for legal protections for Servicers who could be sued if they are making changes to mortgages on behalf of individuals.

A really interesting discussion. We thought it might open the door just a little bit for something different but not really.

CHETRY: Now, should we look as we head into the general election to hear John McCain's message be honed a little bit more. I mean, we call it issue number one for a reason. A lot of people are very concerned about the state of the economy right now and maybe more willing and hopeful that the government may step in a little more.

HOSTIN: Right. Exactly. I think that we're still waiting to see whether he's going to be more activist or not. That could be great pressures for that to happen. And certainly, you've got to think that he's going to come back to this issue over and over again.

We've seen the Federal Reserve which at one point said that we didn't need an activist response change their minds dramatically and come out with an extensive program to help individuals and the industry itself. But so far, McCain is not doing that. I think we'll have to wait and see. But we're going to hear from him again on this topic. It has to happen.

CHETRY: Thanks a lot, Gerri. You know, and actually, we're going to be hearing from one of John McCain's economic advisers coming up as well. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She joins us at 7:15 Eastern time.

ROBERTS: 47 minutes after the hour. New word this morning on the shipping mistake that sent parts for nuclear missiles to Taiwan. How did it happen? We'll talk with the former United Nation's weapon inspector, coming right up. And she's getting noticed for her appearance on "Dancing with the Stars." But it's not just for her dancing. What Priscilla Presley's rep is saying about botched plastic surgery ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

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ROBERTS: Breaking news this morning. China is strongly protesting the mistaken delivery of nuclear missile parts to Taiwan. Fuses for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles were delivered to the island-nation two years ago. The American military thought they were batteries for helicopters. And according to the Associated Press, the U.S. first asked Taiwan to get rid of the components on its own before deciding to ask for them back.

Tim Trevan is a former United Nations weapons inspector. He joins us this morning from Washington. Tim, a lot of people around the world, particularly in this country, shaking their heads over this whole episode. How could something like this happen?

TIM TREVAN, FORMER UNITED NATION WEAPONS INSPECTOR: It certainly seems to be a failure of procedures of accounting for equipment. And clearly this cannot be part of a U.S. policy to supply Taiwan with nuclear-capable missile systems. That would be such a huge strategic error. So, this is clearly a human error somewhere along the way.

ROBERTS: Right. And we had another human error last year when six nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles were loaded onto a B-52 and flown from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota down to Barksdale in Alabama. So, you've got to wonder, just how effective are the controls on the strategic weapons here in the United States?

TREVAN: Well, obviously, controls have been in place for a long time. Systems have been created. The trade in nuclear-capable technology, whether it's missile materials or the supporting technologies, which go to delivery systems and triggering nuclear weapons, have been controlled for decades.

So, I would suspect that this isn't so much a problem with the systems of control as much as it is a problem of implementing those systems. And that's a very difficult issue to solve because it goes to more the culture and the approach that people take to implementing the systems.

ROBERTS: Yes. Let me just correct myself with Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, not Alabama.

Undersecretary of Defense Ryan Henry responded to this -- responded to it quickly. Here's what he said yesterday.

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RYAN HENRY, DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE: In an organization as large as DOD, the largest and most complex in the world, there will be mistakes. But they cannot be tolerated in the arena of strategic systems.

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ROBERTS: He says, Tim, that mistakes will be made but they can't be tolerated in the area of in strategic systems talking about America's nuclear capabilities here. Yet, these mistakes continue to happen.

And we heard when these cruise missiles were transported last year that, well, something like this will never happen again. And then we hear about this. Though we should say that the delivery to Taiwan did happen actually before that incident with the nuclear Tomahawks.

TREVAN: Yes. It seems that delivery took place in 2006. But the worrying aspect of this is how many mistakes had to be made along the way for this not to be discovered until now. Obviously, there had to be an initial mistake in storing these items in a classified area. There had to be mistakes along the way in simple bookkeeping, but not realizing these things were not in the right place. And then there had to be further mistakes in sending the items to Taiwan and then not recognizing that they've been sent to Taiwan for two years.

So, as I say, I doubt very much whether this system of controls is at fault here. But seems to be the implementation of those systems which seems to be breaking down.

ROBERTS: You know, when I first heard about this yesterday, I thought, oh, my goodness, is the United States becoming Russia in terms of this, you know, idea of worrying about loose nukes. But if problems like this and mistakes like this are arising in the United States, what does that say about the controls on Russia's nuclear material?

TREVAN: Or think further like Pakistan or India.

ROBERTS: Right.

TREVAN: Yes. Certainly, the control of nuke technology has been a prime concern for the arms control committee for many, many years. And this is showing precisely why it is such a high concern internationally. Your points are absolutely correct. It has to raise concerns over the whole issue of control of these technologies.

ROBERTS: And what about the Chinese component here. The breaking news came just a couple of minutes ago that China is protesting strongly the delivery of these parts to Taiwan, even though they were not intended to go to Taiwan. Does the U.S. owe China an explanation? Should the Pentagon explain this to China or should we just keep this to ourselves?

TREVAN: No, I think so far the U.S. has handled this absolutely correctly. The only way you can deal with an error like this is to be transparent and face up to it as soon as you can, which seems to be the case.

And China will protest but I think that the actions of the U.S. in coming forward and being transparent about it and admitting to the mistake pretty much takes the sting out of any real protest or real complaint that the Chinese may have.

ROBERTS: Well, boy, I tell you, there's going to be a lot of people at the Pentagon who are going to be talking a lot about this for the next little while. Tim Trevan, former U.N. weapons inspector from Washington this morning. Thanks for being with us. Good to see you.

TREVAN: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: Kiran?

CHETRY: We have some breaking news out of Iraq this morning. Three Americans seriously injured after mortars fall into the Green Zone, the heavily fortified section of Baghdad. And it comes amid new fighting in the area that's been going on for the past few days now.

CNN's Kyra Phillips has a live report for us, coming up in just a few minutes.

Also, Hillary Clinton jumps into the controversy about Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We're going to get her first comments about Barack Obama and his former pastor, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

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ROBERTS: On the money.

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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time to help American families.

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ROBERTS: McCain bashes bailout and Clinton's plan for the mortgage mess. The "Most Politics in the Morning."

CNN exclusive, inside Saddam's cell, with the man who had his pick of palaces spent his final days.

And point break. The incredible pictures of cracks in an ice shelf at the end of the earth. Planet in peril on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Another gigantic piece of ice breaking off of that ice flow and just -- you know, it's going to be drifting somewhere. But it's huge. It's enormous.

CHETRY: What did they say? The size of Connecticut, I believe.

ROBERTS: Unbelievable. You know, is it a sign of global warming? Is it a natural process? A lot of people going to be arguing about that.

CHETRY: Absolutely. You know, we have some breaking news this morning coming out of Iraq. We want to update you on right now. U.S. Embassy in Baghdad saying that mortars have hit the heavily reinforced Green Zone. In fact, three Americans seriously injured. They're calling it a result of indirect fire attacks on the Green Zone.

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