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AMERICAN MORNING

Obama Meets Gore; Detroit's Big Three Auto Bailout Loan Plan Possible; Fighter Jet Crash in San Diego Kills Three; Sony Slashes 8,000 Jobs; Some Companies Hiring in Tough Times; Five Former Blackwater Security Guards Planning an Aggressive Counter Attack; Obama Job Applicants Tell-All

Aired December 9, 2008 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Top gun tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw the guy get ejected out of the plane, and then we saw the huge explosion. Kind of reminded us of 9/11.

CHETRY: A fighter jet in flames crashing into the suburbs killing three people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really. Oh my God, that thing's going to crash on our campus.

CHETRY: The search for a fourth victim resuming right now.

And, breaking news. Barack Obama meets Al Gore today, talking clean, green jobs.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.

CHETRY: Is the former vice president ready to serve again?

GORE: No comment.

CHETRY: On the "Most News in the Morning."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Welcome. Glad you're with us on this Tuesday, December 9th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Can you imagine Al Gore back in the saddle again?

CHETRY: What do you think? A green czar. Perhaps an actual cabinet position. Who knows?

ROBERTS: There's so many different thing he could do. Well, we'll see. That's the big speculation in Washington today. What might the former vice president and presidential candidate be up for in this Obama administration.

We begin though this morning with a deadly military plane crash in San Diego. Investigators trying to determine what caused a fighter jet on a training mission to crash into a residential neighborhood. Three people were killed including an infant. One child is still missing.

It was an FA-18 Hornet that had been practicing carrier landings offshore and was returning to the Miramar Marine base just outside of San Diego when it appeared to have engine trouble. The pilot ejected safely before impact.

We're going to have a live report from the scene as investigators continue to comb the rubble. Coming up in just a couple of minutes here.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made her first trip to the State Department since being tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to be his secretary of state designee. While at foggy bottom yesterday, Clinton met with the Obama transition team which has been operating inside the State Department. She also had dinner with current secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.

And are you looking forward to the New Year? Well, you're going to have to wait a second, literally. On December 31st, the world's timekeepers will tack on an extra second making 2008 the longest year since 1992. The so-called leap second is added to our clocks every so often to keep them in sync with the planet's 24-hour rotation. So if there's something you've been putting off, you want to get it done, right there, and you got a whole second to do it.

CHETRY: How about that?

Well, the president-elect's transition team going forward right now in Chicago and this morning as Barack Obama juggles economic policy and cabinet nominations, a brand new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll just in to AMERICAN MORNING finds 79 percent approve of how Barack Obama is handling the transition. When compared to past presidential transitions, he ranks above President George W. Bush who had 65 percent back in 2001, and former President Bill Clinton who had 62 percent back in 1992.

Also this morning, Obama has a very high-profile meeting scheduled with former Vice President Al Gore. CNN's Elaine Quijano is live in Chicago.

A lot of buzz out there, Elaine, regarding this meeting today and what it could possibly lead to in the future.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly right, Kiran. A lot of buzz out there on this issue. But Democratic officials insist that President-elect Barack Obama is not looking to tap the former vice president, Al Gore, for a cabinet level post or any other post inside the administration. The Obama transition team insists this is a meeting that will focus on energy issues and climate change issues.

That, of course, is no surprise. Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his efforts to raise awareness on global warming. His documentary on the subject, "An Inconvenient Truth," won two Oscars. However, it is a fact that the president-elect still has to name his pick for energy secretary as well as EPA administrator.

And a close friend of Gore told our John King something interesting, Kiran. This person said, "The Gore trip is for more than just a chat. He wouldn't burn that much carbon flying to Chicago just to talk" -- Kiran.

CHETRY: You know, and all this comes on the heels, Elaine, of the president talking about using green jobs as one way to help fix the economy.

QUIJANO: That's right. As you know, the president-elect has promised to deliver some 2 1/2 million new jobs in order to boost the U.S. ailing economy. As part of that, we heard this over the weekend. The president-elect said he would like to look at adding some green jobs, doing things like modernizing schools, upgrading federal buildings to get rid of old heating systems and install some energy efficient technologies, like energy-efficient light bulbs. All with an eye towards not only saving taxpayer dollars, Kiran, but he really thinks that this is a way to boost the economy by putting people back to work -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Elaine Quijano for us in Chicago this morning. We'll wait and see if we find out any more details about that meeting. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Well, there is no deal yet but White House and congressional negotiators is said to be close to an agreement on the bailout plan for Detroit's big three automakers. Under the proposed deal, the companies could get $15 billion in bridge loans as soon as next week. the big three would have to develop long-term restructuring plans to be overseen by a government appointed car czar.

Lawmakers say it's essential that Detroit change the way it does business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: Any assistance from Congress would hold the auto industry accountable to central reforms from day one. And it would include enforcement capabilities including strict, immediate accountability and oversight.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: This is no blank check or blind hope that the companies fail to develop a plan that will lead to long term competitiveness and profitability. They fail to stick to that plan, the loan can be recalled.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, CNN's Gerri Willis is here "Minding Your Business." It seems to be a key here that if they don't do what they're supposed to do, they'll recall the loan. I mean, how long do you think it will take for that money to go -- when it gets in their hands?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Not long. When you consider that they asked for $34 billion, they're getting $15 billion and they're using it for operating capital. I think they'll go through it really quickly.

Let's drill down and look at what this plan actually is. First of all, as you said, the government will lend $15 billion and it will be overseen by a car czar. Now, those car czars are going to have some really interesting roles, and really interesting jobs here, including negotiating with union suppliers.

You have to understand that these companies are really giving away operating leadership to the federal government and that tells you just how and how bad a shape they really are in. And the money is coming from the energy act not the $700 billion bailout. That's significant as well.

The GAO will also have a role in overseeing it. And, John, here's a bright ray of sunshine. The government can get warrants. That's an ownership position in these car companies up to 20 percent of the value of the loans so the American public will actually hold a stake in these companies. It's an open question, you know, how well this is going to work, I think, and how long this money will last.

ROBERTS: It's kind of a one step away from nationalization, isn't it?

WILLIS: It's very much like nationalization, I think, specifically because of the role of this car czar. But you have to question, you know, what kind of stake does the car czar have because at the end of the day they say that the car czar can take back money if it's not used well, but is there going to be any money to take back?

CHETRY: Right.

ROBERTS: Right.

CHETRY: And this is a similar situation with what we saw with the banks, right, when we were giving those huge loans to the banks as well?

WILLIS: Right. And the banks, you know, kept doing business, merging, using some of that money to pay shareholders instead of making loans to the American public which, you know, angered a lot of people out there.

ROBERTS: Anybody talking about who this car czar might be? I mean, you know, could they choose because the Bush administration will do it (ph)? Could they choose somebody like Mitt Romney who's been very tough on the car industry?

WILLIS: Well, I think that's an open question, a really good one at that. There's been some names floating out there about who might take the new leadership role at GM which is also an open question. Very interesting too.

ROBERTS: Chris Dodd, at least, one person wants Rick Wagoner out of there.

WILLIS: That's right. ROBERTS: Gerri, thanks so much for that.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

CHETRY: Brand new this morning, in just a few hours we're told a resolution may be reached in a sit-in protest by laid off workers at a factory in Chicago. Well last night, union officials met with the people who own the factory and with Bank of America. Last week, Bank America which received billions in federal bailout money shut off credit to the factory forcing more than 200 people to lose their jobs. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich supports the sit-in ordering the state government to suspend doing business with Bank of America.

Merrill Lynch, meantime's chief executive, John Thain is rethinking his quest for a $10 million bonus payment. Thain telling the company's board Monday that he no longer wants a bonus for 2008. It appears the CEO had a change of heart after being blasted by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo who called Thain's request "nothing less than shocking." Under Thain's leadership, Merrill Lynch has lost some $12 billion this year.

And if you loved her as the nanny, can you picture her as your U.S. senator? Fran Drescher.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE NANNY")

FRAN DRESCHER, ACTRESS: You know me. Always a bridal consultant, never a bride. Right, Danny (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can I say?

DRESCHER: Well, how about, here's the ring. Pick a pattern (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The actress and comedienne wants to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. Drescher believes she's qualified. She's been working as a public diplomacy envoy for the State Department and says that she's an authentic and honest person, and Capitol Hill needs more of that.

By the way, Fran Drescher will be our guest on AMERICAN MORNING Thursday.

ROBERTS: Boy, if you ever wanted to ends a filibuster...

CHETRY: How about it?

ROBERTS: ... just roll her out and let her go -- hehehehe.

WILLIS: Exactly.

CHETRY: Well, perhaps she could beat the filibuster.

ROBERTS: Get your 60 votes like that, I'll tell you.

WILLIS: At least it would lighten the tone, right?

ROBERTS: Absolutely. Well, we'll be talking to her on Thursday about that. See what happens.

If you want to work for the White House, get ready to open up your e- mails and your Facebook page. But what happens to this information once the hiring is done? Could your personal stuff end up in the National Archives?

And a quiet San Diego neighborhood shattered by a deadly military fighter jet crash. What went wrong? We're live on the scene.

It's coming up now at nine minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Eleven and a half minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning" and time now to fast forward to some of the stories that you'll be hearing a lot about today.

This morning at 10:00 Eastern, President Bush will return to West Point. It's the place where he first outlined what has become known as the Bush Doctrine in the summer of 2002. Ten months after that speech, U.S. forces invaded Iraq. The president is expected to speak about the administration's foreign policy post-9/11.

An independent commission is urging President-elect Barack Obama to create a White House office to deal with cyber attacks. Experts say the nation's cyber space is vulnerable citing the recent hacking of the secretary of defense's e-mail and a massive loss of data from the State Department.

That horrific scene in San Diego, investigators from the military are trying to determine what caused a deadly crash of a fighter jet in a residential neighborhood. Three people on the ground were killed, including an infant and one child who is inside that home is still missing. The pilot of the FA-18 Hornet managed to eject safely before impact.

CNN's Chris Lawrence is following the story. He's live for us this morning in San Diego. And just what an awful thing to happen, Chris. Just unbelievable.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it's the strangest thing. I mean, it's hard to believe how normal everything looks around us, the homes, the neighborhood until you get right here. And it raises all kinds of questions. The two biggest thing (ph), how did this happen? And how do these neighbors know it won't happen again?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't breathe (INAUDIBLE). It's an FA-18 that will kill you.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): All this started with a young Marine on a routine training mission, practicing landings on an aircraft carrier. But as the pilot headed back to base, something went wrong with his plane. He radioed for help and officials ordered an emergency landing at Miramar Air Station.

As the pilot crossed over this neighborhood, the plane failed. And Marine officials say he tried to aim it at a deserted canyon.

CAPT. STEPHEN PAAP, U.S. MARINE CORPS: He did whatever he could to try to prevent the actual crash, but he had to eject. And then once the pilot ejects, the plane kind of just takes its course.

LAWRENCE: Neighbors heard the engine screeching and looked up.

JOHN JAMES, LIVES 3 DOORS FROM CRASH: I think I saw the pilot eject. I heard some funny noises and then I heard the jet (ph) and explode.

LAWRENCE: The massive impact ignited a fireball and destroyed two homes. One was empty. The other is where a grandmother, mother and two children lived. Three of them were found dead within hours of the crash. Some residents say an accident like this is just a matter of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They always have training missions and sooner or later the equipment is going to fail. You know, this isn't the first and it's not going to be the last.

LAWRENCE (on camera): In addition to the two homes that were leveled, pieces of the jet broke off and hit three others as well. Burning debris scorched the surface of two of those homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a third had a big metal piece of jet part fly into the garage and cause a big slice.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): But in those homes, no one was hurt. And with a high school nearby, investigators say this could have been much worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Theoretically, it's going to wipe out, you know, over half a dozen homes, depending on how it landed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: Now we know the FA-18 is designed to fly with just one of its engine but if it loses both, it can't just glide in and drops like a rock. Some of the questions the investigators will be trying to answer is exactly when the pilot started to experience trouble and what went in to the decision to bring him back over land, back to the base -- John.

ROBERTS: I mean, up until that point, he'd been out practicing carrier landings offshore and then he was coming back to Miramar at that point?

LAWRENCE: Right. And this is speculation but it's possible that the first sign of trouble when he radioed back could have been his first engine going. And as I said, the FA-18 is designed to fly with just one of its engines. ROBERTS: Right.

LAWRENCE: If at some point over this neighborhood he lost a second engine, that could have been the cause. That's speculation. But again, it does bring to mind exactly what went into the decision to try to get him back to base.

ROBERTS: Yes. Certainly once they lose all that power that keeps them moving forward, they tend to drop like a rock.

Chris Lawrence for us in San Diego this morning. Terrible tragedy. Chris, thanks so much for that.

CHETRY: Well, the White House job application leaves no stone unturned. That's for sure. But what happens to your personal information, including e-mails or maybe even pictures that you put on Facebook once the hiring is done? Could it become public record as well for all to see?

Plus, a big shakeup at NBC. Jay Leno will be on the move, but you may be surprised to hear where he's going.

Fifteen minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: The Supreme Court turning down an emergency appeal in a case challenging Barack Obama's election as president of the United States. A New Jersey man claimed that Obama could not be sworn in because his father was from Kenya, therefore, a British subject. He claimed that because of that Obama is not a natural born citizen. Obama's birth certificate shows he was born in Hawaii.

And right now, hundreds of thousands of Americans from across the country are trying to lock up jobs in Barack Obama's administration. The hiring process is demanding. It requires a lot of deeply personal information. That information including Facebook pages and credit reports could end up in the National Archives. Here's CNN's Jason Carroll.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, the Obama transition team has been flooded with applicants who want to work for the president-elect. But what will happen to all that information those applicants are so willing to hand over?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): He drew enormous crowds as a candidate, now as President-elect, Barack Obama is attracting thousands wanting to work for him. More than 300,000, according to a spokesman from his transition team.

JACKI CISNEROS, JOB APPLICANT: I would want to be a part of that. I would want to be a part of that history that he's making for our country. CARROLL: Hopeful applicants like Jacki Cisneros have to turn over a great deal of personal information. Facebook pages, credit reports, names of everyone they lived with for the past decade. And there's the disclosure questionnaire.

CISNEROS: It is pretty detailed. I mean, I was calling my dad and asking my husband questions.

CARROLL: There are 63 questions, such as have you ever sent an electronic communication that could be a possible source of embarrassment for you?

CISNEROS: Assuming that they're going to keep all of this information to themselves and, you know, not go putting it on some public Web site somewhere, I don't really mind it at all.

CARROLL: Those in the privacy business question what happens to all that data.

MARC ROTTENBERG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER: We will have access to it. How is it going to be used? Do they have a policy in place to destroy the records when they're done reviewing?

CARROLL: An Obama spokesman would not comment. But according to the National Archives, information collected during the transition becomes the personal property of the president-elect. He may do with it as he pleases.

LISA SOTTO, PARTNER, HUNTON & WILLIAMS: The idea is that you don't want to have data sitting around after you don't need it anymore because, of course, there's more risk.

CARROLL: What is likely to happen to the applicant's personal data? Could be turned over to the Obama White House and become part of the official presidential record, and as such it would then be turned over to the National Archives. Jacki Cisneros isn't worried about what the archives decide to do with the data from there.

CISNEROS: It could just be my enthusiasm for wanting a job within the administration and at the White House. Here it is. Do with it what you want. I have nothing to hide.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: Some privacy experts question if the archives could end up posting an applicant's Facebook page or other personal information in a public exhibit, possibly in a future Obama presidential library. A spokeswoman at the National Archives says that is not likely to happen. She says they have guidelines protecting people's privacy -- Kiran, John.

ROBERTS: Jason Carroll reporting this morning. Jason, thanks for that.

The White House and Congress putting the finishing touches on a deal to help Detroit automakers avoid a head-on collision with bankruptcy. We'll ask GM's vice chairman what his company plans to do with the money and who should be America's car czar, the person overlooking this bailout plan.

And this morning, five American security contractors have now been charged in a bloodbath that left dozens of Iraqis dead or injured. This morning, reaction from the ground in Baghdad. A lot coming up on the "Most News in the Morning."

It's 22 1/2 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: There's not going to be an endless flow of money to this industry to continue left to their own devices, the practices that had been engaged in. So while they reevaluate their relationship, we call this the barber shop. Everybody is getting a haircut.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking about the plan to rescue Detroit automakers who could get $15 billion in bridge loans as early as next week. It's less than half of what the big three were asking for, at least immediately. But lawmakers hope that it's enough to keep them afloat as they answer Washington's call to change the way that they do business.

Joining us now from Detroit is Bob Lutz. He is the General Motors vice chairman of Global Product Development.

Bob, it's good to see you this morning. I guess a lot of taxpayers are asking if you get this $15 billion collectively, what are you going to do to make sure that your company doesn't fail? What are you going to do to make sure that this money just isn't frittered away?

BOB LUTZ, GM VICE CHAIRMAN, GLOBAL PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT: Well, first of all, GM will only get a portion of that money and as was correctly stated a second ago, this is simply a bridge loan which will get us into the next administration where we would hope we could do something more fundamental, because the main problem is the lack of liquidity and the lack of revenue flowing in as we are facing absolutely the lowest, lowest car market in history. And it's not just the domestics, the Japanese are all down 30 and 40 percent. Their inventories are piling up.

You know, this isn't a question of Detroit is in trouble. The whole automobile industry is going to be in trouble at these levels.

ROBERTS: Right. So you don't see Toyota and Honda coming to the government for a handout at this point. But I take it just based on what you said there that this is just the beginning that you're going to need more money next year.

LUTZ: Well, I think that's a reasonable assumption because that's --

ROBERTS: How much more?

LUTZ: At this point, you know, that's going to have to be discussed with Congress. We'll have to see. But this is definitely a bridge loan that will solve the immediate liquidity problem.

ROBERTS: So when you come to Congress next year and say, OK, you gave us, you know, collectively $15 billion in December, now we need X amount of money, I mean, how difficult a sales job is that going to be?

LUTZ: Well, you know, I don't think anybody in Congress or the president-elect assumes that this is all the money that is going to be required to bridge this liquidity crisis that the American automobile industry is facing. And, again, it all depends how fast we have an economic recovery because again, let me restate this. At a 10.8 or 10.5 million total market, we do not have a viable automobile industry in this country for anybody.

ROBERTS: Yesterday, you took out a full page ad in the "Automotive News" journal, in which it was a big mea culpa, I guess on GM's part. You said in part, "We acknowledge that we have disappointed you," talking about the consumer. "At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster." You also laid out a GM commitment to the American people. And the first thing in your commitment to the American people it said, "Specifically, we are committed to producing automobiles you want to buy and are excited to own."

LUTZ: Right.

ROBERTS: There are many people who might think that that's just a fundamental tenet of free enterprise. And why should that be revolutionary?

LUTZ: Well, it isn't. But, you know, I think people were expecting this sort of message. I think what we're trying to do with an ad like that is live down this legacy of the '80s. Everybody agrees that American cars of the '80s were not very good and were not competitive with the Japanese. But that was a long time ago.

ROBERTS: Right. Right.

LUTZ: We've now -- we've now equaled the Japanese in productivity. We've equaled in quality. And speaking for General Motors, we got "Car of the Year" with the Saturn Aura, "Car of the Year" with the Chevy Malibu, "Truck of the Year with the Silverado, "Green Car of the Year" with the Silverado hybrid, and on and on and on. "Car of the Year" with the Cadillac CTS.

ROBERTS: I want to ask one question, if I could, Bob.

LUTZ: Sure.

ROBERTS: Certainly, as a condition of this bridge loan, the government is going to appoint a car czar to oversee what you do with it.

LUTZ: Right.

ROBERTS: They're going to be talking about things like what kind of models you should build. What kind of fuel efficiency you should get. There will be probably government approval of any major investments over $25 million that you make. Who would you like to see as the car czar?

LUTZ: Well, wait a minute. First of all, we don't know whether it's going to be a czar or some sort of oversight board with a head. And I frankly doubt whether this person would dictate the product policy because --

ROBERTS: Certainly an idea that they're talking about. I'm just wondering who would you be comfortable with as car czar? Who do you think can handle it?

LUTZ: I wouldn't even be -- you mean other than myself? Unfortunately, I'm not available because I'm still gainfully employed.

ROBERTS: But you don't have any -- I mean, some people floating the idea maybe Mitt Romney would be a good car czar. He's come down hard on you guys. He seems to know what to do in terms of restructuring. His father ran American Motors for a time.

LUTZ: Well, I hardly think that the automobile business as a genetic trait, but you know, he would probably be satisfactory as would many other people.

ROBERTS: All right. Bob Lutz from General Motors. Good to talk to you this morning. Thanks for being with us.

LUTZ: Good to talk to you. Thanks a lot.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up on the half-hour now. We're checking the top stories.

Sony taking steps to weather Japan's recession and the global economic slowdown there. The electronics maker announcing this morning it's trimmed 8,000 jobs worldwide, shuttering several plants by the end of March 2010. No word where those cuts will take place. Sony predicting the move will save the company more than $1 billion a year.

And this afternoon, former Vice President Al Gore will meet with President-elect Obama as well as Vice President-elect Joe Biden in Chicago. The men are expected to talk about climate change, energy, green jobs. Sources say Gore will not be taking a formal position in Obama's administration.

Also this morning, the trials for the self-described mastermind of 9/11 and four others held at Guantanamo Bay may be in jeopardy. Yesterday, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other detainees asked a military judge if they could confess and enter guilty pleas. The judge accepted the request of three of the detainees including Mohammed, but he ruled that competency hearings are first needed for the others. It's not clear if the men will face a potential death sentence.

And internal Pentagon investigation finds the Marine Corps left troops in harm's way in Iraq by failing to address an urgent request for blast-resistant vehicles. According to the Associated Press, Marine administrators shelved the request from battlefield commanders for MRAP in 2005, after deciding that armored Humvees offered the best protection for troops, but they proved incapable of withstanding powerful roadside bombs. The Pentagon's inspector general's report will be released today.

Also this morning, attorneys for five former Blackwater security guards charged with manslaughter are planning an aggressive counter attack. The men are accused of using machine guns and grenade launchers to kill 14 unarmed -- rather 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians. A sixth man who cut a deal will testify against them when they're tried in Washington. Defense lawyers say that the case is politically motivated to appease the Iraqi government.

CNN's Michael Ware is in Baghdad.

Is there anything to this argument that this case is an attempt to appease the Iraqis who were infuriated by this case?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, Kiran, something had to be done to assuage the Iraqi population, who were livid at this -- in other word, for an atrocity.

But let's bear this in mind first. There's been multiple investigations into this incident a year ago, where our numbers say at least 17 innocent Iraqi lives were ended as they were going about their morning business in the morning congestion of the traffic. Now, of these investigations, though, one by the Iraqi government, one by the U.S. military, and one by the FBI.

And as the assistant attorney general, who was announcing the indictments, said yesterday that in the course of all of this, there's been found that there was absolutely no provocation or justification for the death blossom or just the spewing of machine guns and grenades at the civilians that happened in their convoy.

Now, we can't speak about the guilt or innocence of any of the five defendants. However, what's clear is that a lot of people died. More than 20 were wounded. They were all innocent and no one was shooting at their convoy.

Now also, there is a message to be sent here to the other security firms still operating in Iraq and elsewhere that this won't be tolerated, and secondly, as the attorney for the District of Columbia said the message here is that no one even in war is above the law.

And that's what the Iraqis need to hear. They need to see this trial take place to help mend some of the fences on an already fragile relationship between the U.S. and the people who had been occupied here in Iraq.

Kiran? CHETRY: Right. And of course, as we said, their defense attorneys are maintaining their innocence and say that they are going to try to fight this.

Michael Ware for us in Baghdad. Thank you.

ROBERTS: This morning as the economy continues to recede, it's leaving massive job losses in its wake. But there are some industries that are actually hiring. Not only that, they're thriving. We'll tell you where the jobs are.

And is NBC in Jay Leno's future? We'll tell you what the network is doing to keep the late night rating's king in the NBC family. It's coming up now at 35 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Some hard-working folks this morning bringing you the "Most News in the Morning" as they do everyday. And it seems like everyday another major company announces a new round of job cuts. So, is there any chance of finding employment in these tough economic times? Well, our Allan Chernoff is here now to tell us that the future might be a little bit brighter than it appears to be.

Good morning, Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Can you believe this? There's actually some good news out there. The fact is in some fields there are plenty of jobs, and companies are actually increasing their hiring.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Maria Tessinari changed careers to become a nurse, knowing that in her new profession she'd be marketable no matter how bad the economy.

MARIA TESSINARI, NURSE: I knew that I would graduate and have a job, and all my friends who have graduated nursing schools will all have jobs.

CHERNOFF: Even during the worse recession in decades, health care professions added 34,000 positions last month, while the economy was losing more than half a million jobs. An important reason, more Americans are following Maria's example.

MARY MUNDINGER, DEAN, COLUMBIA UNIV. SCHOOL OF NURSING: Columbia has a program specifically designed for career changers. And we've seen that program become more competitive every year. This year it was a huge increase. In November, over November, applications, they were up 50 percent.

CHERNOFF: To meet demand for nursing education, Columbia is hiring instructors. Many other universities are hiring, in spite of the recession, because in tough economic times, many people go back to school to boost their skills. In fact, some for profit schools are thriving. The stock of education company Apollo Group has climbed 60 percent in the past six months, while the Dow industrial average was plummeting.

Beyond education, other fields are still seeing job growth -- computer systems design, management and technology consulting, oil and gas drilling, and logging. Accounting and financial analysis also remain in demand.

DAWN FAY, REGIONAL V.P., ROBERT HALF INTERNATIONAL: It will almost create more opportunity in the analysis, budgeting and forecasting area when times are tougher, because people are watching every dollar that much more closely. So there's certainly opportunity that does get created.

CHERNOFF: Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: Dawn Fay says don't be discouraged just because there is a recession out there. She says many companies are hiring. It just makes skill building and networking all the more important in this economy.

And also, because it's the holiday season, don't just assume that companies are not interviewing. She says, in fact, John, the fact is many companies do interviews during the holidays, even though a lot of people are not out there. So, it's a good time, when others are not job hunting, for you to be job hunting. Not you personally but people out there.

ROBERTS: You'll never know in this business, though, do you? But I do know that some companies seem to be preparing for the recovery already. And I don't know if they're ready to bring in new employees. But there are other areas of business where people are hiring. You were saying accounting is a growing field?

CHERNOFF: Accounting is something that's stable. I mean, the total numbers have been pretty stable, and in this economy that is very good. Companies need to be checking the numbers, need to be delivering their reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission, et cetera, no matter what the economy is doing. And as Dawn said in our piece, they are being extra careful about the bottom line right now, about those numbers, so...

ROBERTS: Nice to know there are some bright spots out there.

CHERNOFF: Financial people, the accountants, are still doing OK.

ROBERTS: Allan, thanks for bringing that to us.

Kiran?

CHETRY: All right. Well, Jay Leno is getting a new gig. The late night comic reportedly going prime time. Our Lola Ogunnaike is going to be along with the details. It's 41 minutes after the hour. CHETRY: Crackdown on cyber thieves. Can they be stopped?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The risk is that we will wake up three years from now or five years from now, and discover that we have lost the battle on cyberspace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The dangerous threat to the economy that's quietly spreading from computer to computer. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, after all these years, Jay Leno finally ready for prime time. "New York Times" reporting that NBC will be announcing today that they've signed Leno to a new contract for a 10:00 p.m. show Monday through Friday. So, what does the move mean for NBC and Jay Leno?

CNN's Lola Ogunnaike is here to talk more about it.

So, the reason this whole thing came about is that Conan O'Brien was promised, right, that he would be taking over this show from Jay Leno.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he was promised and Jay Leno -- it was thought that he may retire, but Jay Leno is like, I'm still pulling ratings, I'm still loving the game, I'm not getting out of it anytime soon. NBC obviously did not want him going to the competition because he's the reigning late night king. So, they decided to keep him and just push his show up an hour-and-a-half earlier.

CHETRY: So, it's going to be at 10:00, a time when usually what you're seeing is, what, cop dramas and medical shows, etcetera. How will his exact show play out to the 10:00 audience?

OGUNNAIKE: Well, I think it actually may fare well because there are a number of people who like Leno, but don't want to stay up until 11:30 to see him. So, they may actually tune in at 10:00. I also think it's interesting that NBC decided that this was a smart economic move.

Those cop shows, the dramas, cost anywhere from 3 million per episode to make. Jay Leno show only cost them about two million a week. And you factor in his yearly salary, which is about $33 million...

CHETRY: Oh, just that.

OGUNNAIKE: Just that. That's how much you and I make.

CHETRY: I wish.

OGUNNAIKE: It's still a better deal for them. So, I think they decided, look, we know that this is a ratings win, we know that he's a proven draw, why gamble on a new show that we don't know may succeed, why not just give Leno the 10:00 prime and keep him moving.

CHETRY: Very interesting how this all came about in the first place. Did Jay Leno -- I mean, why was Conan O'Brien promised the show at a time when perhaps it was still questionable whether Jay Leno would have retired.

OGUNNAIKE: Well, I think there was this fear that Conan would be scooped up by another network. So, as a preemptive move, they promised him Leno's spot. But again, Leno, he's still a ratings draw. People still enjoy watching him. And he wasn't ready to retire. And ABC and Fox were actively courting him. NBC decided we've got to keep this guy in the family.

CHETRY: NBC also needs a ratings win right now. Are they struggling a little bit?

OGUNNAIKE: Absolutely. Their prime time lineup hasn't been doing well for years. And so, rather than gamble again on a show that may not succeed, why not give money to a proven winner.

CHETRY: All right. Very interesting stuff. Lola, thank you.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

ROBERTS: The last days of a presidency and things are really getting loose.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's not even gone yet and I miss him already.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Jeanne Moos looks back at George W.'s silly side. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: 49 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." We are heading in to the final days of the Bush White House. And although the president isn't saying, it maybe he's thinking, you're going to miss me when I'm gone.

CNN's Jeanne Moos tells us with only weeks left in office, Mr. Bush hasn't missed a beat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOOS (voice-over): For a minute, it looked like we might be treated to another George W. Bush boogies' moment. But though he never quite broke into dance, this holiday reception for kids brought out the kid in the president. The mugging, the shrugging, the tapping and nodding, the waving, the shrugging and waving, the circular waving -- something they should consider amending the constitution to ban. When rhythmic clapping breaks out, the president should abstain.

Actually, President Bush is seemed relaxed and playful these final months. Fist bumping Santa, using gallows humor at the unveiling of his own portrait.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Welcome to my hanging.

MOOS: He's getting his kicks where he can -- for instance, when he spotted at a teed up football before the start of the Army-Navy game. After the coin toss, the president got to keep the coin. He even kissed his showbiz nemesis, Barbara Streisand, as she was being honored at the Kennedy Center Gala. The only time we've ever seen these two kiss was two years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GEORGE BUSH IMPERSONATOR AND BARBARA STREISAND SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: When Streisand teamed up with an impersonator.

BARBARA STREISAND, SINGER: Can you believe it for a second, we were in harmony.

MOOS: What fun is it having Mr. Cool for president. What are we going to do without "W"?

(on camera): He's not even gone yet, and I miss him already. Of course I said the same thing about Hillary Clinton when she lost to Obama and now she's back.

AMY POEHLER, HILLARY CLINTON IMPERSONATOR: You thought I was gone, didn't you? You may think we're down, but like the south, vampires and Britney Spears we will rise again.

MOOS (voice-over): But the Bush administration is setting. Soon all we'll have is what Beyonce honored Bobs (ph) by singing --

(BEYONCE KNOWLES SINGING)

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: New silent threat to the economy spreading from computer to computer to computer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The risk is that we will wake up three years from now or five years from now and discover that we have lost the battle on cyberspace.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: Can anyone stop the cyber thieves.

Plus, look at who is throwing her hat in the ring for Senator Hillary Clinton's seat. Fran Drescher, from the nanny to the Senate? Well, why not? You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Hillary Clinton made her first visit to the State Department, Monday, since becoming Barack Obama's pick to head the department. So what are the most pressing challenges facing Senator Clinton, and what is the transition like from one secretary of state to the next.

Well, I'm joined now by one person who certainly knows that firsthand, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

Great to see you this morning, Madam Secretary.

MADELINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Good morning.

CHETRY: Thank you. So what is that handoff process like as she's meeting with Condoleezza Rice, what kind of information is being exchange.

ALBRIGHT: Well, there's been a lot of information already being exchanged by the transition teams there. But basically, I'm sure they had a social part of it, but also that Secretary Rice told her about what the major challenges are, how the department works. We call it the building. And generally, I think they are very nice times. I did this with Secretary Powell. And it's just a matter of really turning over the most important job in the world on foreign policy.

CHETRY: You know, it's interesting, there was a lot made of whether or not Senator Hillary Clinton would be able to express disagreements that she may or may not have with the incoming President-elect Barack Obama. For example in the primaries, they differed on some foreign policy issues as it related perhaps to Iraq and Iran.

How do you express those to the president, as secretary of state, if you didn't agree necessarily with something that President Clinton was doing? How does that work?

ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think he's -- President-elect Obama has put together an amazing team. Very strong national security team, and I think he expects to have people present different views. I think that's what's so remarksable about President-elect Obama is that he has the confidence to have people express different views.

But ultimately, as he said, he makes the decisions and then that is the policy of the United States. But I expressed different views, and I think that's what you're actually paid for is to present the views as you see them.

CHETRY: Also, you once said in the "L.A. TIMES" -- you said yesterday, actually, advantages of being a woman secretary of secretary, "A lot of diplomacy is being able to put yourself in another person's shoes. Frankly, I think women are better than that." So you talk about, you know, some of the advantages. What are some of the challenges as female secretary of state that Senator Clinton is going to be looking forward?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think people expect that foreign leaders have a hard time dealing with women. That's not true. I think the challenges are often inside our own government more. But the challenges are now substantive challenges. Very, very hard agenda out there. And I think that you're going to see a team that actually understands what the national interest of the United States are, and that they are going to be working very hard together. But I do think, you know, there are a few problems like hair that most state --

CHETRY: Wardrobe that may be got a look at a little bit harsher with a female, right?

ALBRIGHT: A little bit more, you know, whether you're wearing boots or not. But I think that it's such a fabulous job, and I think Senator Clinton is going to make just a very, very great secretary of state.

CHETRY: She has a lot of challenges. One of them, you're part of this Genocide Prevention Taskforce, with whom I've spoken to you that before on the show. You released a report yesterday urging President- elect Obama to create what you would be calling a Genocide Alert System, as well as emphasizing diplomatic efforts in dealing with genocide. Tell us a little bit more about that.

ALBRIGHT: Yes. I have the report with me. And we worked very hard on it. Former secretary of defense Collin and I were co-chairs. I think the important part that we found was that there are certain patterns that have evolved over the years, and that if you have the government set up in a way that you have people whose responsibility is to look for intelligence on the issue, that there is early warning, then there's a trigger system, then also there's an interagency system. We call for an Atrocity Prevention Committee that would meet on a regular basis and then take action.

But what we thought was that -- usually, it's something that kind of hits people and you don't know -- you haven't thought enough about how the whole government should do something about it. And the bottom line that we call on is leadership and presidential leadership on this is important.

CHETRY: But for example, I mean, in the cause of Darfur, for example -- this has been something that has created an international uproar and we still haven't seen enough progress there. Why?

ALBRIGHT: Well, that's problem. First of all, we were too late in terms of really assessing it. And then there is the general problem about the cooperation of the international community. And then, there is a basic problem that is part of saying that we deal with this national sovereignty, which is that the president of Sudan has decided that he's not going to let certain kinds of troops come in there. But I do think that when the international community follows up together, that there is possible way of putting pressure on and we talk about that. The importance of creating partnerships and really pushing. Kiran, a lot of it has to do with knowing what the patterns are and trying to prevent genocide because once it starts it is very hard to stop.

CHETRY: Hopefully, the president-elect is listening to you guys and your blueprint for U.S. policymakers on that. Madeline Albright, former secretary of state. Always great to talk to you. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

ALBRIGHT: Wonderful to be with you. Thank you.

CHETRY: John?

ROBERTS: Just one minute out of the top of the hour. And here are this morning's top stories. Investigators in San Diego are trying to figure out what caused a deadly fighter jet crash. An FA-18 Hornet Jet slammed into a house with four people inside. A mother, one of her children and a grandmother were killed. Another child is still missing.

The pilot was able to safely eject from the aircraft. CNN's Chris Lawrence is going to have a live report for us coming up in just a moment here on the "Most News in the Morning."

With more and more consumers skipping big electronic purchases, Sony is cutting 8,000 jobs. That's about 5 percent of its workforce. Sony says the cuts will save $1 billion by March of 2010.

And hours from now, former vice president and Nobel laureate Al Gore will sit down with Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Chicago. Obama's transition office says the meeting will focus on energy-related issues and how environmental policies can spur job creation.

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