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Senator Kennedy Leaves Hospital; Split Decision: Wins for Obama, Clinton; Rebuilding Basra, Iraq

Aired May 21, 2008 - 11:01   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning again, everyone. You're informed with CNN.
I'm Tony Harris.


HARRIS: Developments keep coming into the CNN NEWSROOM on May 21st.

Here's what's on the rundown for Wednesday morning.

WHITFIELD: Senator Edward Kennedy leaves a Boston hospital a short time ago. He and his doctors evaluate treatment options now for him for his brain tumor.

HARRIS: Florida flashback. The primary was months ago, but the Democrats are finally campaigning there. Today, it is all about the delegates.

WHITFIELD: And severe weather strikes hard in the South. More than 100 homes battered Wednesday.

Cleanup -- in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: A short time ago, Senator Ted Kennedy checked out of a Boston hospital knowing he faces a tough fight against brain cancer.

Our Dan Lothian on the story outside of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dan, if you would, show us the pictures and talk us through the fight ahead for Senator Kennedy.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, Tony. I will show you the pictures of Senator Ted Kennedy leaving in just a second, but I do want to go up high.

Our affiliate, WHGH, has some live pictures in a blue SUV, along with his wife Vicki and his two dogs being driven from the Boston area down to Cape Cod. Down to the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, where this entire ordeal started Saturday morning.

He checked out about 15 minutes or so after 10:00 this morning from the hospital here, ahead of schedule. Doctors have been saying that he would be in the hospital for at least the next couple of days. But in a statement, doctors saying that he had recovered well from procedures that they had performed on Monday, and so they were releasing him. Still, though, they are evaluating various tests to determine the future treatment options.

As he walked out of the hospital, he seemed upbeat. He pumped his hand in the air, put his thumb up. And he was smiling.

And also, there were a number of either hospital workers and also construction workers from right around the corner who had gathered outside. And when he walked out, he turned to them and smiled and they applauded. So it was quite an emotional moment as he walked out of the hospital this morning.

Spent some time -- didn't just rush into the vehicle. He walked over, shook some hands, then turned around, came back to the cameras, bent down and patted -- pet both of his dogs that were by his side. Stood around, hugged someone. And then got in the vehicle, waved again, and then drove off.

But indeed, he does have a difficult road ahead of him as doctors try to decide how to best treatment that malignant brain tumor. They have not talked about surgery at all, Tony. They have only talked again about chemotherapy and radiation.

But of course, we have heard from sources that the family does want to explore surgery. They want to look at the test results, these additional tests that have been conducted, and see if at all surgery can be a viable option -- Tony.

HARRIS: All right. CNN's Dan Lothian for us this morning.

Well, some encouraging pictures out of the hospital and on the road to recovery.

Dan, thank you.

Senator Ted Kennedy, one of the most influential members of Congress, now fighting the fight of his life. Let's take a look at all that he has accomplished. Do we have enough time?


HARRIS: At 76 years old, he has served more than 40 years in the Senate. Kennedy was first elected back in 1962 to fill the Senate seat once held by his brother, John F. Kennedy.

In 1964, he worked for passage of the Civil Rights Act. A year later, the Voting Rights Act. In the 1990s, he fought for Americans with disabilities and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Kennedy has an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a law degree from the University of Virginia.

Senator Kennedy, sick with brain cancer. How do you treat it? We ask a brain surgeon in minutes right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: All right. A rainy night and a busy morning. Now cleaning up in Georgia.


Tornado sirens are what you are hearing right there. In and around Atlanta last night, reports of twisters. One possible tornado touched down, but it has not been confirmed.

The storm toppled trees and damaged about 100 homes north of the city. Thousands lost electricity, and a local elementary school is closed today because now it's serving as a command center. And amazingly, no one was hurt in these storms, because they did come through in the evening...


WHITFIELD: ... when a lot of people were tucked away in their beds.


WHITFIELD: OK. On to presidential politics now.

The Democrats in Florida next hour. After splitting the latest primaries, Obama took Oregon and marked a milestone. Clinton won big in Kentucky.

Jim Acosta is live now from Lexington.

What's the buzz?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, the buzz is, is that, as you mentioned, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are heading to in Florida. And this is very much a telling picture of where things are heading in this campaign.

Barack Obama talking very much about the future and in his upcoming -- what is expected to be his upcoming general election fight with John McCain. Hillary Clinton is still trying to work on those disputed delegates down in Florida and Michigan. That is essentially her last, her remaining path to the nomination, and it is one that's closing with every day that moves forward here.

Hillary Clinton did win big here in Kentucky. She crushed Obama by 35 points. But Obama didn't do too badly up in Oregon. He won by a healthy margin up there. And last night, put a notch on his belt that is pretty significant.

He achieved essentially a majority in the pledge delegates. The Democratic Party has never given the nomination to a candidate who has reached that milestone. But Hillary Clinton, last night at her victory speech in Louisville, Kentucky, she continued to have Florida and Michigan on her mind, and claimed that she still sees a path to the nomination.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm going to keep standing up for the voters of Florida and Michigan.


I am going to keep making our case until we have a nominee, whoever she may be.


ACOSTA: And Barack Obama did learn a couple of big lessons last night in the results in Kentucky, that he still has work to do with those working class white voters. Again, Hillary Clinton trounced Obama in that demographic. He also praised Hillary Clinton with respect to her ability to break through barriers, a nod to the woman's vote, a vote he will need coming up in the general election.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No matter how this primary ends, Senator Clinton has shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America in which my daughters and your daughters will come of age. And for that we are grateful to her.


ACOSTA: And despite the fact that Barack Obama is roughly 70 delegates from clinching the nomination, Hillary Clinton and her husband are both still making the case that those disputed delegates from Florida and Michigan need to be seated, and as they would like to see it, very much squarely in her camp. The former president yesterday telling supporters here in Kentucky that the Democratic Party is acting like the Republican Party from the year 2000, Fredricka. He used the word "decapitating," saying that the Democratic Party is decapitating voters in Florida and Michigan, putting some heavy-duty pressure on the party to get that matter resolved -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jim Acosta from Lexington. The backdrop there very much what this presidential race is all about. It is a horse race these days.

Thanks so much, Jim.

All right. Well, 11 days until the next contest for the Democrats, and here's a look at what's still in play and what's at stake.

June 1st: the Puerto Rico primary. Obama and Clinton will be competing for 55 delegates. The final two contests for the Democrats take place on June 3rd, the Montana primary, with 16 delegates at stake. And the South Dakota with 15 delegates up for grabs.

HARRIS: Fredricka, just received word from the New York Mercantile Exchange -- you know what that means. Oil prices...

WHITFIELD: Back up again. Now, are we at 16 straight days...

HARRIS: And how.

WHITFIELD: ... now in terms of it affecting gas prices? And so now we're talking about maybe a 17th day?


WHITFIELD: Oh boy. That's depressing.

HARRIS: Oil trading at a record high of $132 and some change a barrel.

WHITFIELD: Two dollars now above what was a record.

HARRIS: Three dollars. Up three dollars from yesterday's record. Settling price at $129 and change a barrel.

WHITFIELD: Too much.

HARRIS: What you might want to know.

We'll continue to follow that and check in with Susan Lisovicz in about 30 minutes.

WHITFIELD: We're all officially depressed now. Thank you for that.

HARRIS: Sorry.


HARRIS: You know, we keep asking this question, how high can it go? Pretty high, it seems.

Concerns over the skyrocketing price of oil on the Senate Judiciary Committee's agenda right now. Five top oil company executives are testifying.


J. STEPHENS SIMON, SR. VICE PRESIDENT, EXXON MOBIL: When energy prices are high, the urge to point finger at oil companies is strong. But undercutting the ability of American companies likes Exxon Mobil to compete in a huge global marketplace only makes it harder for Americans to secure the energy they need at competitive prices.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: And listening to your testimony, we should almost be embarrassed to ask questions of you. In the way you put it, you speak of this current upcycle. What a nice term. And I suppose we can tell our constituents when they're finding that they can't afford to go to work because of the price of gas, don't worry, you are in a current upcycle.


HARRIS: The hearing comes as new records are set again today. Crude oil crossing the $132 a barrel mark. And closer to your tank, AAA says the national average price for a gallon of regular gas is almost $3.81.

And you've heard this before. This is the 14th straight record high.

WHITFIELD: Senator Ted Kennedy coping with the devastating diagnosis of brain cancer.

Dr. Daniel Barrow is a brain surgeon at Emory University Hospital here in atlanta.

Good to see you.

All right. First of all, Dr. Barrow, you know, for clarity, this is not a rare type of brain cancer or tumor. It's a glioma. And what is it, nearly half of all brain tumors are gliomas?

So can you explain, first of all, what is it?

DR. DANIEL BARROW, NEUROSURGEON: Well, a glioma is a tumor that arises from the brain tissue itself. They're tumors that can arise from the coverings of the brain or from the blood vessels of the brain. But gliomas are tumors that arise from the cells to make up the brain itself. Actually the supporting cells in the brain, not the neurons that do the thinking and acting, but the supporting cells.

WHITFIELD: So now, what are the types of treatments? Because there are a variation, I guess, of degrees of this glioma or brain tumor. What do you need to assess when trying to assess the best treatment?

BARROW: Well, there are a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration. The location of the tumor is very important, because in some areas of the brain, we can aggressively remove tumors to de-bulk them. Even though gliomas are generally not curable by surgery alone, we believe that by removing them aggressively we can then better treat them with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

But the ability to regress or remove a glioma depends on large part on its location within the brain, its size, the configuration, the patient's neurological condition. The patient's age and underlying health status all come into that decision-making.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. So right now publicly we don't know what level or stage this tumor is. Perhaps his doctors already know. But we do know that he had a biopsy. We saw the bandage on the back of his head as to where that biopsy had taken place.

What are they looking for in that biopsy in order to help determine how to best move forward?

BARROW: That biopsy will be studied by neuropathologists, individuals who specialize in being able to recognize different types of growths and tumors. And certainly at a hospital like Massachusetts General, by this point in time, I would strongly suspect that the neuropathologists have been able to identify the tumor and determine whether indeed it is a glioma, and if so, what grade of glioma it is.

Gliomas range from more benign, slow-growing tumors, to very aggressive tumors. The most aggressive called a glioblastoma, multiform, which is highly aggressive and carries a very poor prognosis.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. So they probably already know, which means the patient probably already knows. So maybe at this juncture they are all collectively just trying to decide, how do we want to move forward? Do we want to do surgery in addition to what you said? Usually it is coupled with at least chemo or radiology.

BARROW: Correct. The decision to make -- the decision of whether or not to proceed with surgery will depend very, very much on the location. And again, I know what I knew through the news reports, but my understanding is this is in a part of the brain that's eloquent, important, and perhaps the role of surgery would be limited in a case like this. But I'm sure his physicians will make good decisions, along with the senator.

WHITFIELD: So does it also mean a very difficult decision for a patient or family to make, is that it can be of a size or of a stage where it doesn't -- it would be fruitless to even treat it with surgery or to even treat it with chemo or radiation?

BARROW: We hope that it's not fruitless. We hope that any treatment that's provided will provide some benefit to the senator, or any patient that has a glioma.

In general, gliomas carry a very poor prognosis. And despite all of the treatments that we currently have, they generally are considered to be incurable.

My own sister died this past year of a glioma, and lived with it for really 13 years after very, very aggressive treatment, which is extremely unusual. But certainly there is always hope for patients, and we try to maintain that hope.

WHITFIELD: Oh. Well, so sorry to hear that about your sister as well.

Well, Dr. Daniel Barrow, thanks so much at Emory University Hospital. I appreciate your time and your expertise.

BARROW: Thank you.

HARRIS: Hamilton Jordan is being remembered today for his judgment, insight and wisdom. President Jimmy Carter's former chief of staff died last night after a long battle with cancer.

It was Jordan's political strategy that helped send Carter to the White House in 1976. In a statement, the former president described Jordan as his "closest political adviser, a trusted confidante, and my friend." Hamilton Jordan had said Carter was the right man for the times following Watergate and Vietnam. Hamilton Jordan was 63.

WHITFIELD: A routine call, but an accident investigation turns into more than paperwork for one officer. He's hailed a hero today.


HARRIS: You know, the British army left. Now it's back in Basra, Iraq. The goal? Help Iraqi troops reclaim the city from militias.

CNN's Arwa Damon now in Basra.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Until recently, this was known as "Murder Street." Where these men sit, there used to be piles of bodies, victims of the militia which controlled Basra.

Sheikh Maktouf al-Maraiyani shutters at the memory. "Every day we would find 10 or 15 of our men killed," he says, before adding, "One of them was my son."

Now Murder Street is part of an experiment to get Basra back on its feet. Sheikh Maktouf and others here are picking up trash, getting $20 a day and upwards in the process. The funds come from U.S. forces.

Besides removing rotting garbage, it's a quick fix for unemployment. And Iraqi commanders know time is precious.

MAJ. GEN. TARIQ AL-AZAWI, IRAQI ARMY: The important thing must -- our government focus about, they must find the jobs, different jobs to work these people.

DAMON: Decades of neglect and war going back to the long conflict with Iran have left Basra in ruins. It may sit on much of Iraq's oil, but it wallows in its own sewage and trash.

MAJ. TOM PERKINS, BRITISH ARMY: The black signifies where the water is just leaking from the pipes underneath the ground. Raw sewage is just coming straight through.

DAMON: After leaving the city last September, British troops are back and adopting the U.S. approach of working with the Iraqi military to help kick-start Basra's revival. But people here know that the militia are still in the shadows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know that there's still militia elements who are here. I think the Sunni -- the leadership, the militia leadership, quickly went, leaving behind (INAUDIBLE), and the civilians still felt intimidated by that.

DAMON: General Aziz Swady was brought in when the Iraqi government launched Charge of the Night and flooded the city with Iraqi troops in March.

BRIG. GEN. AZIZ SWADY, IRAQI ARMY (through translator): The situation was so bad because the security forces were controlled by the militias. But after the operation, the citizens started to trust the Iraqi security forces.

DAMON: And now he is using this window of opportunity to go after the militia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every day we search the area we find weapons.



DAMON: There is no doubt security has improved in the last month.

PERKINS: Up to three weeks ago, we might get a fairly large small arms contact in this area.

DAMON: The guns have fallen silent. But despite the current sense of optimism, everyone knows the battle for Basra is far from over.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Basra.


HARRIS: Coming up on the half hour. Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Tony Harris.

WHITFIELD: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Split decision. She takes Kentucky, and he wins Oregon and marks a milestone. Today, both Democratic presidential candidates campaign in Florida. Hillary Clinton won big over Barack Obama in the Kentucky primary. She continues her push to have disqualified delegates from Florida and Michigan seated at the national convention.


CLINTON: Democrats in those two states have 2.3 million votes, and they deserve to have those votes counted.


And that's why I'm going to keep making our case until we have a nominee, whoever she may be.


WHITFIELD: Obama won the Oregon primary. He celebrated in Iowa, the site of his first campaign victory. And he marked another significant step in his presidential bid.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight Iowa, in the fullness of spring, with the help of those who stood up from Portland to Louisville, we have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people. And you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for president of the United States of America.


WHITFIELD: And based on CNN calculations, Obama is within 73 delegates of the number needed to clinch the nomination.

HARRIS: So what about the women? Hillary Clinton supporters pushing on until the last primary. But then what?

CNN's Carol Costello takes a look.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sense that Hillary Clinton's candidacy is doomed because of sexism is growing among some of her supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think they're ready for a woman yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm honest going to vote for Ross Perot if she is not in the race.

COSTELLO: The math doesn't matter much to these supporters, her section does. Another example, WomenCount, a political action committee, says it raised $227,000 in two days to take out full-page ads in newspapers across the country.

This one in the "New York Times" reads, "not so fast. We want Hillary to stay in the race until every vote is cast and we know our voices are heard."

ALLIDA M. BLACK, WOMENCOUNT PAC: What we need to do is to see this election to the conclusion. And Senator Obama and the media and all of the other voters in the United States have to realize that the gender gap in this country is real.

COSTELLO: Hillary Clinton is aware of how some of her supporters feel. She's talking about it, talking in Kentucky of the sexist treatment she's endured. Use of the B word to describe her personality, references to her cackle and references to her cleavage.

Clinton told the "Washington Post," "It's been deeply offensive to millions of women."

Some say all of this will make it difficult for Barack Obama to woo certain women over to his camp if he wins the nomination. Organizations like NARAL, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, are trying to help but they're finding it difficult. NARAL has endorsed Obama and the backlash from some of NARAL's supporters has been fierce. Take a look at it's web site. "What a sell out," one woman writes. Another says, "Shame, shame, shame." And another writes, "I am appalled, disappointed, disgusted, frustrated, and outraged."

Senator Claire McCaskill is an Obama supporter.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I understand what NARAL did and why they did it. I think that there are many people in our party, and many women, who want us to unite and begin to turn our attention towards the possibility of four more years of George Bush.

COSTELLO: McCaskill says it's time to focus attention on one Democratic candidate so the party can win in November. And she says the math just doesn't add up for Hillary Clinton.


(on camera): Senator McCaskill says it will take a long time for Clinton supporters to decompress after this long, tough fight. But ultimately, it will be up to Senator Clinton to convince voters to vote for Barack Obama.

Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.

HARRIS: Saved by a fifth-grader.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt like I just couldn't breathe. It felt really tight right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just jumped up and did the Heimlich on him twice and it popped out -- the hamburger.


HARRIS: Wow. Classmate to the rescue, in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: OK, we've been pitched a real curve ball. That's how Ted Kennedy's wife, Vicki, described the news to friends. The 76- year-old senator has a cancerous brain tumor. The Kennedy clan all too familiar with adversity. Their many tragedies played out on the national stage.

Here now is CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From one of his closest Senate colleagues, a telling refrain on how Ted Kennedy and his family handled adversity through the decades.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: More times and more instances with more courage and more determination and more grace than most families ever have to face, such a situation once.

TODD: And it's Ted Kennedy whose led them through it. There every step of the way as his family's political dynasty absorbed one devastation after another. From this moment at his brother Bobby's funeral 40 years ago, he was thrust into the role of patriarch for so many grief stricken children.


SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us, what he wished for others, would some day come to pass for all the world.


TODD: Only his mid-30s then, Ted Kennedy had to be a mentor to his brother's families at a time when he seemed to need one himself.


KENNEDY: I regard as indefensible, the fact that I did not report the accident to the police immediately.


TODD: The Chappaquiddick accident, which killed a young female aid in 1969, one of so many Kennedy tragedies that have played out in the public glare. Historians say that familiarity we all seem to have with their setbacks has added to the mystique and made us feel it is one of our own going through this medical crisis.

STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: We have lived with the Kennedys. Our children lived with the Kennedys, our parents have lived with the Kennedys. There has always been a Kennedy active in public life.

TODD: The closest comparison historians make in terms of American political royalty, the Bushes and the Clintons. With two important caveats. They haven't been as powerful for as long as the Kennedys, and haven't had anywhere near the tragedy visited on them.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HARRIS: New York Governor, David Paterson, recuperating today after having emergency laser surgery to fix severe glaucoma in his left eye. Paterson, who is legally blind, was rushed to the hospital yesterday, complaining of migraine-like symptoms. Doctors discovered the glaucoma. Paterson is legally blind, meaning his eye sight is already severely limited.

WHITFIELD: Digging now for bodies at the edge of Death Valley. Searchers going out to a ranch Charles Manson his in 1969. They're looking for any more possible bodies, any victims of Manson and his followers. High-tech equipment and a cadaver-seeking recently dog turned up evidence the soil had been disturbed. Well the dig continues through tomorrow.

HARRIS: A police officer responds to a traffic accident and ends up saving lives. Take a close look at the patrol car's dash-cam video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa. Watch out, watch out, watch out!


HARRIS: Man. So the officers you can see in the video there, pushed two people out of the way before he was clipped actually, by the car. He was taken to the hospital for treatment. The officer's boss calling him a hero.

WHITFIELD: Gas at a new record high again. Ditto for crude. Oil execs called to Capitol Hill to explain.



WHITFIELD: All right. CNN's Security Watch. The nation's largest public-owned utility is vulnerable to attack by computer. That's from the new report obtained exclusively by CNN.

Our Jeanne Meserve has a look.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Tennessee Valley Authority provides electricity to almost nine million people in the southeast. But the lights could go out. In a new report obtained by CNN the government accountability office says the utility has failed to adequately secure the control system that has run the power plan from cyber attacks, leaving them vulnerable to disruption.

JOHN BUMGARNER, U.S. CYBER CONSEQUENCES UNIT: If a skilled attacker wanted to penetrate the network, it -- they could do it with these.

MESERVE: And that could cause a blackout could cascade beyond the TVA's region, knocking out power to a larger portion of the country. Last September, CNN first showed you dramatic video of what a cyber attack could do. The footage of a government experiment called "Aurora," shows a cyber attack on a control system actually destroying an electric generator. Generators can take months to replace.

In October, the non-governmental group that oversees the power system told Congress that 75 percent of utilities had closed the Aurora vulnerability, but Congress has now determined that statement was misleading.

REP. JIM LANGEVIN (D), RHODE ISLAND: It appears that they just made those numbers up.

MESERVE: Is that acceptable.

LANGEVIN: It's not acceptable. It's outrageous. It's unacceptable.

MESERVE: The group says it regrets the confusion, but as a result, Langevin says, there is no clear picture of just how vulnerable utilities are to cyber attack.

There is one piece of disturbing evidence, however. CNN contacted Cooper Industries, which experts say is the only manufacturer of hardware that can close the Aurora vulnerability. The company estimated it would need to sell about 10,000 devices to fix the problem nationwide. It has sold just over 100.


WHITFIELD: And a Capitol Hill hearing today is looking at cyber security for public and private utilities. Testimony is expected to touch on concerns privately held companies have even lower cyber standards.

HARRIS: A fish out of water. Have you seen the pictures yet? It's not a metaphor. This one taking off on an epic journey.


HARRIS: It is vast, mysterious and a dangerous front line in the war on terror. The tribal region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A rare glimpse now from CNN's Reza Sayah.

A caution here, some of the images may be disturbing.


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's only a child. But in this Taliban video, he points his handgun at a blindfolded man with remarkable cool. Moments later, he pulls the trigger, killing his target. They're barely teenagers. But in this Taliban video, confiscated by the Pakistani army, they sit in a classroom as their masked teacher drills them on how to kill.

These horrifying scenes are evidence, says the Pakistani army, that the Taliban ran terrorist camps in this village in Pakistan's lawless tribal region. But in a carefully orchestrated media tour, the Pakistani army choppered in 20 journalists to show the Taliban is gone.

GEN. ATHAR ABBAS, PAKISTANI ARMY'S TOP SPOKESMAN: We were able to completely choke the area.

SAYAH: General Athar Abbas, the army's top spokesman says, today it's Pakistani troops in control.

ABBAS: We have been able to successfully smashed all those training centers which were in this area.

SAYAH: The Pakistani army rarely takes reporters into Pakistan's tribal region. But army officials say that it is time to respond to accusations that troops are not doing enough, going soft on the militants, and even abandoning the region on their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would disagree with going soft on the militants. It is an intense battle which had lot of casualties.

SAYAH: Perhaps the toughest critics have been the U.S. Military and the CIA. High-ranking officials are convinced Al-Qaeda and the Taliban still use bases in the tribal region to attack U.S. led troops in Afghanistan.

(on camera): What do you say to that?

ABBAS: That's incorrect, I rule that out. It is not like that.

TODD (voice-over): The army clearly used this video tour to try and convince reporters the army is winning in the tribal region. Army officials say these were some of the buildings where the Taliban made suicide jackets and trained their young killers. Today those buildings are piles of rubble.

ABBAS: I think it is a good progress as far as the army operations are concerned.

TODD (on camera): It's important to remember the Pakistani army only showed us a small portion of the tribal region. So it's impossible to verify if they are in control in all parts. But one thing's for certain. By taking journalists out for the first time in these battlegrounds, the Pakistani army is getting to be more media savvy, responding to criticism that they're not doing enough here, by trying to show reporters they are.

Reza Sayah, CNN, in Pakistan's tribal region.



WHITFIELD: Are you smarter than a fifth grader? If not, being rescued by one can be a good thing.

Brian Johnson, of affiliate KOMO, reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was somewhere up in my mouth up here, right there. So I tried to swallow it. And it got farther stuck down here, in my throat.

RYAN TYLER, STUDENT: His face was all red. And my friends started pointing at him saying, Ms. Randolph, Ms. Randolph.

CAROL RANDOLPH, TEACHER: So I look up and I see Brandon. He is -- got his arm around his neck. Beat red, like this, cannot breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt like I just couldn't breathe. It felt really tight right there.

TYLER: So I just jumped up and I did the Heimlich on him twice and it popped out, the hamburger.

BRIAN JOHNSON, KOMO REPORTER: Ryan Tyler, says he used about half his strength. How did he learn the Heimlich? Seems his sister choked in a restaurant a few years ago, and was rescued by a stranger.

INGRID TYLER, RYAN TYLER'S MOTHER: My son, he adores my daughter. And I think he was real appreciative of it, and asked her what did he do. And she showed him.

JOHNSON: That lesson saved the life and made a hero.

R. TYLER: It just came up.

JOHNSON (on camera): What did? A piece of hamburger?

R. TYLER: Yes, the hamburger. It just came up on to the tray. It's kind of gross.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My throats hurt a little bit. I was really scared, and stuff.

JOHNSON: What do you think of Ryan right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a really good friend now.

JOHNSON: Do you feel like a hero?

R. TYLER: Sort of.


WHITFIELD: That's sweet because you are a hero. Well, no word on whether Ryan got any reward for his quick and heroic actions. I suggest, at least a free lunch.

HARRIS: At the very least.

Ready for a fish story for lunch? This one involves a flying fish in Japan. There, we've even highlighted it for you. You know it's -- no, not that one. It's not unusual to see a flying fish, I'm told. They are pretty common in some places. But this one was special, for flying a long distance, a record in fact. This fish I understand, I'm told anyway -- I had to believe it because here it is -- stayed airborne for a whole a full 45 seconds, breaking the 42 second record observed back in the 1920s.

I've got questions about that.

WHITFIELD: And we have one witness, flying around all the time, just having a person with a camera nearby. HARRIS: Yes, there you go. Just happened to be there.

WHITFIELD: Still fascinating, I'm not trying to down play it.