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Bush in Baghdad; New Jersey Ice Storm; Illinois Corruption Scandal; Remains Found; Unemployment Hits Home; Laura Bush Interview

Aired December 14, 2008 - 09:00   ET


TJ HOLMES, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Well, U.S. troops in Iraq getting a lot of surprise visitors these days, just had Defense Secretary Robert Gates there yesterday, and look, President Bush today, in Baghdad. A surprise visit. We will take you to Iraq, live.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Also, the first lady is making news of her own. Find out what is on her mind as I sat down to speak with her.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, bringing you news from all around the world. Good morning, everybody on this Sunday. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And Hello to you all, I'm T.J. Holms, so glad you could be with us today. We will start in Iraq. President Bush has made it to that country, he's there right now, expected to be his farewell visit. He has made four visits all together, now. CNN's Michael Ware joins us now from Baghdad.

Michael, hello to you, and do we know what is on his plate? We know a lot's on that plate, just speaking in general, but as far as this trip goes, what's on his agenda?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I suspect there's more on his plate than he wishes to be handing over to another administration, that's for sure. Well, what we know is that President Bush landed roughly about two hours ago, which is late in the afternoon, here in Baghdad.

Now, once he got off the tarmac, there was an arrival ceremony, and he was met by the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani. Now, from that arrival ceremony, it's believed he has a series of meetings with Iraq senior leadership, the (INAUDIBLE) the Shi'a vice president, the head of the Kurdistan regional government, a spate sort of mini state in the north, an important American ally, and of course he will be meeting with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

It's believed in the ceremony, to mark the signing between Washington and Baghdad of the status of forces agreement. So, this trip, really, is to celebrate, according to the White House officials, the signing of the agreement between Iraq and America, and to mark how this war is about to significantly change. Iraq's going into the driver's seat.

What they will not tell us, of course is what that is costing America. And there's a lot bubbling under the surface. So, I would not go popping the champagne corks, yet - T.J. HOLMES: Michael, you talk there about everything sounds celebratory, ceremonial, but is anything substantial going to come out of this, and are the Iraqis pretty much looking forward to the administration and really holding off and waiting they know they got somebody else they're about to have to deal with?

WARE: Yeah, I mean, in many senses, we now have a caretaker in the White House. And let's face reality here, President-elect Obama campaigned on ending the war in Iraq, well, in many ways, the documents that President Bush is here to celebrate have already ended large chunks of the war, so -- and it wasn't done on U.S. terms. Yes, they're going to dress it up and make it sound pretty, but the agreement wrap U.S. combat troops up in such knots, so America's surrendered its ability to wage war. Nonetheless, the champagne will be flying -- T.J.

HOLMES: The champagne flying, that sounds strange that champagne might be flying, but yes a farewell tour from the president. A last hurrah there. Michael Ware for us, certainly won't be your has hurrah in Iraq. We will see you again. Appreciate you.

NGUYEN: Well, back here in the state has been a long, hard cold night for crews trying to restore power in the northeast and you see exactly why -- trees, utility lines all over the region. And nearly 800,000 customers are without power, and the result of an ice storm that slammed into that region on Thursday and Friday. At least fourth deaths are blamed on the storm, three of them from carbon monoxide poisoning.

I want you to take a look at New Jersey, today. Well, it's kind of pretty to look at, you see people hard at work, but all that ice has weighed down trees, utility lines still in the roadways, it's really making life hard for some, and it could be days, not hours, but days before power is restored.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just really brought everything to a complete stand still. You know, no lights, no roads, nothing, just cold and cold and creaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been told by the state there may be people that are without electricity, and therefore heat for up to two weeks.


HOLMES: Dangerous, and not just uncomfortable, that's a dangerous situation for a lot of folks. Hundreds of utility crews have been busy throughout the night. Some areas more than half an inch of ice -- half an inch of ice covered just about everything. It takes that much ice a while to melt. And that stuff is heavy.

Covered -- Reynolds, I know you have, as well, these things just paralyze an area, more so than snow and rain and flooding, even sometimes, an ice storm can shut an area down. REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No question, I mean, an average tree, say, 30, 40 feet in height, can weigh up to four times with that coating of ice, additional weight on its normal weight. So I mean, yeah, when there's things snap and they break, they knock out the power lines.

You have to keep in mind that for much of New England, you've got trees everywhere, so just people just trying to drive, it's not like they can just get in their car and drive easily to go get a space heater or anything. For one, they don't have any power, No. 2, the roadways are clogged, so they're going to have some serious issues.

Things will get better in that part of the world, though today. They may say see some snow showers in parts of the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, too, but in terms of, for much New England, this situation should be getting a bit better.

This morning in Columbus and Cincinnati, people waking up to rain drops, back over to places like Chicago, things are dry for the time being.

Let's show you a live image we have out of Chicago, at this time. Here it is, CLTV, cloudy skies at this moment a bit of a breeze coming off the lake, but it should be interesting later on today, possibly some snowfall.

As we go back to the weather computer, you can see Minneapolis, you have some scattered showers, then just to the north on parts of 35 and over to St. Cloud, it is all snow. Back into the northern plains, looking at snow and intense cold. We're talking temperatures that are subzero in many locations. That doesn't factor in the wind- chill, when those winds really kick up into the afternoon, it's going to be the equivalent of 40, maybe even 50 below zero later on today.

Back into parts of Colorado, on 25 from Cheyenne southward to Denver even all the way down to say, Pueblo, you're going to be seeing the scattered snow showers, ski country, could definitely see some snow, there out of (INAUDIBLE), great news for you Aspen, same story.

Along the eastern seaboard, though, they will getting a welcomed break. One thing I want to mention very quickly, parts of say, I'd say into Missouri and back in Illinois, St. Louis, get ready for the possibility of an ice storm later today and into tomorrow. Certainly the last thing they want to deal with. Let's send it back to you guys.

NGUYEN: Yeah, welcome to the workweek.

WOLF: Oh, yeah.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Reynolds.

WOLF: Thank you guys.

NGUYEN: So, more problems ahead for Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, accused in the pay to play scandal. Tomorrow, the state's top congressional leaders, they are holding a special session to discuss motions to strip away his power and to impeach him.

Blagojevich, who faces federal corruption charges, spent four hours yesterday holed up with high-profile defense attorney, Ed Jenson. He's represented people like media tycoon Conrad Black, who actually went to prison for defrauding is company. He also represented R & B singer R. Kelly, who was acquitted of child pornography charges this summer.

As Blagojevich plans his next steps, we're also learning more about the type of contact the Obama administration has had with the governor. The "Chicago Tribune" reporting that President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff talked with Blagojevich about a possible Senate replacement. Now, the story does not suggest that Rahm Emanuel acted inappropriately, and sources tell CNN that he is not a target of the probe.

Well, Chicago mayor, Richard Daley is calling out Blagojevich to, "Do the right thing."


MAYOR RICHARD DALEY (D), CHICAGO: He should, first of all, look at his family, and, also, understanding what the people of Illinois want, and he should do the right thing on behalf of his family, on behalf of the people of Illinois. I really believe that. He has to really look deep in his heart and his soul and figure that out. What is good for his family and for the people of Illinois.


NGUYEN: And up until now, Daley has been quiet about the federal corruption case against Blagojevich.

HOLMES: Well, the guy's been busy. He's been on the campaign trail for two years practically, he was just elected president, he's getting a day off, now. His day off comes a day after he reveals his choice for housing secretary. Yes, the president-elect in Chicago, taking it easy. Don't know what he'll be up to, but the work really never stops. But since he has a day off, we don't expect him to make any public appearances, today.

NGUYEN: But, an aide told us yesterday that Mr. Obama will meet with his economic team next week, and they're going to be talking about that stimulus package that they are working on, and we'll have folks really watching that closely as we all know we are in this recession.

HOLMES: All right, we will turn now to Alaska. You might remember a church that was at the center of some controversy during the campaign, because Governor Sarah Palin, you know, the VP pick on the Republican side. She actually made a speech there that some people found a bit controversial and where she connected God and the mission in Iraq.

Well that's fire, you're looking at some video, there, of fire at that particular church. This is in Wasilla, her hometown. Investigators treating it as a potential arson case. Again, it's called Wasilla Bible Church. Nobody hurt here, but the damage is estimated at about $1 million. Now, Governor Palin actually stopped by the church yesterday, she offered an apology for any "undeserved negative attention" the church received during the campaign because of her.

Meanwhile, still speaking about Governor Palin, here, former secretary of state Colin Powell has some choice words for the governor of Alaska, suggesting the GOP should rethink its emphasis on small- town values. Powell gave a interview to CNN's Fareed Zakaria.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: What do you think will happen to the Republican Party? You sounded concerned, then, and you always have been concerned about certain as secretaries of your party. Do you think it's moving in the right direction?

COLIN POWELL, FMR SECY OF STATE: We don't know yet. I think that in the latter months of the campaign, the party moved further to the right. Governor Palin, to some extent, pushed the party more to the right and I think that she had somewhat of a polarizing affect when she talked about small-town volumes are good.

But, most of us were not raised in the small towns. I was raised in the south Bronx, and there is nothing wrong with my value system from the south Bronx. And I think the party has to take a hard look at itself. There's nothing wrong with being conservative, there's nothing wrong with having socially conservative views. I don't object to that. But if the party wants to have a future in the country, it has to face some realities. The Republican Party has to be appealing to Hispanics, to Blacks and Asians, because that's who we lost, to a large extent, in recent elections.


HOLMES: Now, Powell says that he is still a Republican, even though he endorsed President-elect Barack Obama. He says the GOP must stop shout at the world, his words.

Well, is Colin Powell seeking a role in the Obama administration? You can find out that and a whole lot more in that exclusive interview with Fareed Zakaria, that's on GPS, Sunday, that's 1:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

NGUYEN: Police in Woodburn, Oregon are beginning to identify possible suspects in a bomb blast that killed two officers. And that's according to the "Associated Press." But police captain Tom Tennant and state police bomb technician William Hakim, they both died Friday night. The two had been called to check on a suspicious device at a local bank, but when they took it inside that's when the device exploded. Woodburn's police chief was critically injured and so far there are no suspects that have been named. Meanwhile though, a vigil for the victims was held last night. A $35,000 reward is being offered for information leading to whoever left that bomb. In other news, the DNA results aren't back, but many people, including police, seem pretty confident that little Caylee Anthony's remains have been found.

In Orlando, Florida, investigators continue to search woods were a child's remains turned up on Thursday, the discovery was made a half mile from the Anthony's house. The measurements and hair match Caylee. That said, they are waiting on conclusive DNA results before confirming anything.

HOLMES: All right, what if it does turn out to be Caylee? We'll have that answered, but that will lead to a whole lot more questions. We've got some questions here, we're going to ask those of our security analyst, Mike Brooks, he's here, as always, to help us out on such matters.

Mike, glad to have you with us.


HOLMES: When we do have you, it means something bad is happening. But it's good to have you here with us. Help us here, we have, if it turns out to be in fact Caylee, how does -- what does a prosecutor do then? What is going to change-up their case?

BROOKS: Well the prosecutors had said, T.J., that they were not going to seek the death penalty against Casey, but now they could actually come back and put that back on the table again. If after all the conclusions come that there was an aggravated circumstance surrounding the death of Caylee Anthony, then they could put that back on the table. And they have got until they come to trial to decide, yes, we are going to do that.

HOLMES: How much does that, I guess, help a case in that just in the minds of jurors, if you are trying to prove a case with all of the circumstantial evidence, all of the stuff surrounding, but you still don't have a body, how does that change the case in the mind of jurors? How do you approach that?

BROOKS: Well, you know, having a body does help, but I've seen cases that were prosecuted without a body, it was all circumstantial and other forensics. There's a lot of evidence that we haven't heard about yet in this case, but now Thursday with the discovery of these remains that law enforcement believes it's Caylee, that could help push the death penalty back on the table again.

HOLMES: You see a lot of the evidence that we don't know about, if it is Caylee, again, if it is her, they're probably going to get a lot of evidence from that body, but also other evidence they are looking for at the grandparent's house. What are they looking for?

BROOKS: Well, you know, the sheriff said that some of the evidence they found at the scene led them back to the house, because Thursday night they put crime scene tape around the house, and they were back in there and they were there until about 2:00 a.m. on Friday morning doing a search. It was interesting what they took out. They took out four vacuum cleaners, and I'm saying to myself, why would they take out vacuum cleaners, one of them was a ShopVac. They're most likely looking for some trace evidence, some hairs, fibers that they found also on the scene.

And they also had said that there was a piece of duct tape over the mouth of the skull that they found in the remains. Now, you get a lot of evidence from duct tape. You know, a lot of people when they tear the duct tape they'll leave fingerprint evidence on the adhesive side of that. There's also duct tape, apparently, around the bag. Now, they'll take all of this evidence is at the FBI lab Quantico, they should be able to separate that, get some finger prints -- possibly get some fingerprint evidence and other trace evidence that could have been at the scene and also back at the Anthony house.

HOLMES: Yeah, it's but evidentiary stuff, that we're talking about. That was just a horrible detail to hear that there was a piece of tape over the mouth, and again, we don't know for sure. Mike Brooks, we appreciate you as always, helping us on such matters. But again, we want to emphasize, don't know for sure yet if it's her. Police are saying they think it is, but waiting on the results. Mike, appreciate you as always, thank you, buddy.

NGUYEN: Well, the U.S. seems to be bleeding jobs. Where are the things really bad and how does your city stack up when it comes to jobs?


HOLMES: The holidays are upon us, a lot of people will be on holiday, a lot of us wish we could have a longer holiday. Well, some employees at General Motors are going to be on extended holidays, and they do not want it. GM is suspending operations at three of its four plants in Mexico during the first three months of next year, part of a 30 percent production cut for North America early next year that will affect 14 plants, here in the U.S.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I suspect that there's going to be nearly 2,000 that will be impacted during this brief shutdown. It will be a tremendous hit to the state of Tennessee in unemployment, you'll see a tremendous spike in the unemployment.


HOLMES: In all the cuts mean about 250,000 fewer vehicles will be made.

NGUYEN: So, are you looking for a job? Well unemployment officers are hiring, that's because they are so busy with jobless claims reaching record highs. You know, we have been crunching the numbers here at CNN, and want to show you where the jobs are, and where they aren't, unfortunately. We've also asked Wachovia chief economists, John Silvia, to join us to explain those numbers. John, a lot of people looking to you this morning, especially when we set it up like that. All right, first up, tell us where the jobs are this morning.

JOHN SILVIA, WACHOVIA: Well, the interesting story, Betty, is that the job growth really is in the D.C., Virginia, and Maryland area, associated with the federal government, but also in a lot of state capitals. If you look at the data so far this year, a lot of those jobs are in state government, as well.

NGUYEN: Yeah, here we have a map, and that might help, as well, because, OK, so that's where they are, for those who have lost their jobs, here's that map. Where are we seeing the most job losses?

SILVIA: Well, the most job losses clearly are associated with the restructuring in the manufacturing sector, so that's the upper Midwest, as well as the correction going on in the housing market, which often times is all over the map, parts of Florida, Highway 15 for example, Highway 99 in California. So, construction-related jobs are very regional, the manufacturing jobs, the restructural change that's going on in that industry, upper Midwest.

NGUYEN: Are there any cities that are actually prospering, I mean, really doing well, not just having jobs available, but I mean, really prospering in this downed economic time?

SILVIA: Well, I think when you look at the mountain states, when you look at cities that are related to the energy sector, those cities really have prospered over the last year. And then of course there's those isolated technology-based centers of -- the Austins, the Boston areas, the San Francisco area, the research triangle in North Carolina, those continue to benefit because technology is continuing the signal to improve productivity and growth in the U.S. economy.

NGUYEN: So, if you're without a job today and you're listening to this, those are the fields that you really want to hone in on and maybe get some new skills if you can in those technology sectors?

SILVIA: Oh absolutely. I think the one thing that I've mentioned to a lot of students in high school and college is that look at the unemployment rate difference. Right now the bachelor's degree person, the unemployment rate is only three percent. But if you are a high school dropout, it's basically 10 percent. That's a huge disparity over time. It's education that makes the huge difference in terms of the unemployment experience.

NGUYEN: Yeah, I want to stay with this bit of graphic of information right here because it's talking about the large metro areas, where we see the highest unemployment rates. Riverside California, way up there with 9.5 percent. When we look at these numbers, and we hear all of this talk and this worry about the economy, is it also, and be honest with me, an excuse for some managers to say, you know what, let's get rid of not pulling their weight, it's just an excuse to get rid and trim some of the extra when it comes to their employees? SILVIA: Well, recessions are always the testing time. It's when you find out what operations, what plants, what kind of tasks, what kind of production facilities, what kind of services are really not that efficient when put to the test of a hard-core recession. And indeed, yes, you're right, the jobless claims, the layoffs really start to pick up in this recession period. Firms try to ration alize what they do, and those rationalizations lead to a lot of unemployment.

NGUYEN: Gotcha, John Silvia, chief Economist for Wachovia, breaking it down by the numbers, by the different states throughout the nation. Good information this morning, thank you.

SILVIA: Thank you, Betty.


HOLMES: All right, Betty, well, every kid wants a toy for the holiday season. Well, there's a program out there that usually helps out some kids that maybe don't toys. But that program needs help, itself.


HOLMES: There's trouble in toy land. Stay it ain't so. The economic downturn has het the annual Marine's Toys for Tots program. CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, with where they go from here.


EBONY, TOYS FOR TOTS RECIPIENT: Thank you. Merry Christmas to y'all, too.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ebony desperately needs Christmas toys for her children. She has come to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots center to get them.

EBONY: There is no money. I wrote my letter early, in October, and I was able to come pick up my toys today.

STAR: The toy program began 61 years ago. This year, with the economy in shambles, the Marines are anxious; there are not enough toys. Here in the nation's capital, these were the only toys the Marines collected the night before we arrived.

STARR (on camera): How far behind are you from where you want to be?

MSTR SGT TIMOTHY BUTLER, US MARINE CORPS: We are tens of thousands of toys behind, tens of thousands.

STARR (voice-over): Master Sergeant Timothy Butler says unless something changes and soon, all the toys in these crates, donated over the summer by companies, will be gone in a few days. Butler has to find enough toys for 82,000 children in the Washington, D.C. area. These bare containers, which should be full, are not.

BUTLER: Here we are in the nation's most powerful city, and we have those kinds of needs. We have folks that last year lived in a nice home, this year are homeless.

STARR: And over at Union Train Station, people getting off the trains are giving what money they can, but it's not enough.

STAFF SGT JOHNNY NOBLE, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Last year here, from just the morning time frame, we collected just over $13,000. This year, right now, we're lucky to get about half that.

STARR: Even as toys are packed up and shipped out every day, the worries grow.

(on camera): What's it gonna mean to the U.S. Marine Corps if they can't give every child who needs a toy a toy?

BUTLER: Well, to be honest, it's gonna break my heart.

STARR (voice-over): Marines are used to responding to crises all over the world, but what the Marines didn't expect was that their latest crisis in these tough economic times might be making sure every needy child has a toy this Christmas.

Barbara Starr, CNN, Washington.


NGUYEN: So, what's next for the first family? I set down with First Lady Laura Bush and she answers a number of questions. Very interesting insight, right here on CNN.


NGUYEN: President Bush makes a surprise stop in Iraq.

HOLMES: That's his final visit to a country that defined so much of his eight years in office. Well today, he's talking about that strategic agreement and the future of Iraq. CNN's Kathleen Koch in Washington for us.

Kathleen, good morning to you. And I'm sure for on the president's schedule for Sunday it didn't say going to Iraq?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It did not. This was quite a surprise for all of us. So, basically we expected the president would follow his usual Sunday morning routine -- go to church, go mountain biking, and then surprise, we learned right after 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time that the president had just landed in Baghdad, that he'd flown by helicopter to the green zone.

Now, there you see the president being met by the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani. Two men shaking hands while the Iraqi and U.S. national anthems played. There were Iraqi troops lined up as the two men surveyed. Now, both Mr. Bush and Talabani, then, as you see, they're walking into the meeting, the building, there. They're going to be meeting on the security agreement that was just signed between the two countries that lays out the framework for the presence of the U.S. troops in Iraq in the future.

Now, following the meeting, we're really not sure how long it's going to go since all of this is happening as we speak. They're going to come out, they're going to be having some kind of a ceremony, and we are expecting to carry that live.

But, so right now, I would also like to say that a Spokesman Gordon Johndroe tells me President Bush, the spokesman for the National Security Council, that he's there to thank the troops. Obviously the nearly 150,000 U.S. troops still in the region, something the president feels is important to do in the waning days of his presidency.

HOLMES: And only 30 plus days left, and this is his fourth trip now to Iraq, and yes, all of them, none of them have been on his schedule, if you will. Kathleen Koch for us in Washington. We'll talk to you again soon.

KOCH: You bet.

NGUYEN: Well, this week marked the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, something First Lady Laura Bush has fought for in places like Afghanistan and Myanmar. But why has she made these countries such a priority? I recently sat down with her to find out.


Mrs. Bush, there are several places around the world where people are denied basic human rights? What is it about Myanmar or Burma, as it's called, that has prompted you want to make it a priority as first lady?

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: I became interested, really in Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, the only Nobel Peace Prize winner who's jailed, she's under house arrest and she has been off and on for the last 20 years. Her party, the National League of Democracy won an election in 1990, overwhelmingly, but then was denied by the military Junta, there, the regime, there, to ever -- they were denied to ever take office. And so I became interested in her life story, really, and learned a lot about her, I've read her book "Freedom from Fear" and then just the more I learned about her, the more I learned about Burma and what the situation is there and how sad the situation is for the people of Burma.

NGUYEN: You also watched it play out during Cyclone Nargis, in fact, I was just in the country back in July, and what I wanted to do was really see if aid was getting to those still in need, some two months after the storm had hit. And what I witnessed were dead bodies, still rotting along the delta. Many villages still with little to no aid. Will the people of that country lose a powerful ally once you leave the White House?

BUSH: No, I really think that the next administration will also pay attention to Burma. It's a country that, the Lantos Act, for instance, the Stop Jade Now Act, that was just passed recently that the president signed into law, passed unanimously. So it's an issue that I think all -- every member, both parties are very interested in. So I expect that the next administration will also do what they can to try to have this peaceful transition to democracy for the people of Burma.

NGUYEN: There's a lot of outrage concerning the reaction to the cyclone on the part of the Junta government, there. You know, looking back, where do you draw the line when it comes to human rights? The U.S. sent ships full of aid that were denied by the Junta government. Should the U.S. have been more forceful in getting that aid to the people in need?

BUSH: Well, that was the real question at the time. We did have those Navy ships right off the coast of the delta, right by where the cyclone had hit. Those had desalinization (ph) machines on them, they could have gotten fresh water to the people right away, medical supplies, and the military Junta would never let them land.

We did at the same time, though, they did accept cargo planes, and the U.S. was able to fly in at least 100 cargo plane flights of supplies for the people of Burma. But that's the question. I mean, that's always the question when you talk about human rights. When we, the rest of the world, look at the countries, where tyranny rains, and people are denied any sort of human rights, then that's what we have to ask ourselves is what do we do.

And we did, in Afghanistan, we did go in Afghanistan and liberated the people, and we're still there, obviously, working hard to make sure the people of Afghanistan can rebuild their country, which was totally decimated after 30 years of war with nothing. I mean, they're building a country from nothing, now. And that still requires a big commitment on the part of the people of the U.S. and the government of the U.S.

NGUYEN: Let's talk about Afghanistan for just a moment, because you have said, "if women are educated everything across the board improves for their families." Does that hold true in Afghanistan, a place where just last month the Taliban sprayed acid on girls trying to get an education?

BUSH: That's right and that's the big challenge and that's what women and girls in Afghanistan face. And that's this sort of violent intimidation that's so horrible. In this case, girls were just walking to school with their teachers and people -- men, young men, drove by and through as it on them, and some of the girls are disfigured from it. But one girl, the one who was the most injured said I'm going to keep going to school. And I think it's really important for the international community to support the people of Afghanistan, so they can stand up for themselves.

They are having some success, and are building a national police force. When I was in Afghanistan, the last time I met women who are police officers, but on the other hand their society is so strict for women that some of these women police officers had not told their families that they were studying to be police.

NGUYEN: Let's talk about things that are happening here in the U.S. in fact, you're getting ready to move back to Dallas. Being from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, I can see why it's appealing. Talk to us about moving back to Dallas and what is going to be your new normal, something that you refer to as the "afterlife?"

BUSH: Well, we're going to have a normal life, a normal house and everything. But the president is going to build his presidential library and archives in Dallas at southern Methodist university, and with it he will build a Freedom Institute and that's -- with this Freedom Institute, I hope I will have a chance to work with women in Afghanistan and to work on all the issues that have to do with Burma, and the transition to the Democracy in Burma.

But it's been a wonderful privilege for me. I've been very, very honored to have the chance to represent the people of the United States as I've travelled around the world, and to get to live in the White House and represent the people of the U.S. And now President Bush and I are looking forward to moving on to the next part of our life, and that will a normal life back at our home in Dallas where we lived 14 years ago when we moved into the Texas governor's mansion.

NGUYEN: Which does not have a kabana, as it's been reported.

BUSH: Yeah, exactly. There's no kabana or service quarters or those other things that I read about.


NGUYEN: A normal life and a normal home, as she describes it. Well, coming up, find out if the first lady has any regrets from the past eight years in the White House.


NGUYEN: As the Bush legacy winds down, talk of legacy is far from over. So, how will this administration go down in history, and are there any regrets? Here's the rest of my conversation with the First Lady Laura Bush.


NGUYEN: Speaking of President Bush, in an interview last week, he said one of the biggest regrets ass the -- he called the intelligence failure that lead up to Iraq. As history judges this presidency, what do you say to the critics?

BUSH: Well, what I say is that what's happened in the last eight years or during the last eight years, is that 50 million people have been liberated. The people of Afghanistan have been liberated from the Taliban, the people of Iraq have been liberated from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. And it's important for the United States and the international community to stay involved in those countries as they rebuild, especially Afghanistan, which is a very poor nation, any way, and it's just been totally decimated.

For the last 30 years there has been war there. And most of the people of Afghanistan are younger than 30, so they've never lived in a peaceful country. They're not educated, the girls there were not allowed to go to school. It's going to be very difficult for them to do everything they need to do, to not only build the expensive infrastructure, like the roads, so they can have trade or get food to different parts of the country or the agriculture that's needed to be able to feed themselves, or the infrastructure of laws that we take so for granted in our country, in the United States that we are lucky to inherit from all the generations before us.

And so, it's going to require a large commitment on the part of the U.S. and the whole international community, to work with Afghanistan so they can get out of this spiral of devastation that they've been in for the last 30 years.

NGUYEN: Shortly, as this presidency began, we faced 9/11. Now it's ending with a financial crisis that's led us into a recession. How have you dealt with the adversity? And how do you want your legacy to be written?

BUSH: Well, it has been very difficult for everyone in the United States. I mean, we faced unbelievable challenges, including September 11, and then all the things that came along with the war in Afghanistan and Iraq and now the economy. I know, the one thing that I think kept me encouraged for eight years was being very aware of what our history is and what the American people are like, and I got to see it everywhere I went in our country.

And so, I am encouraged to do even in an economic downturn that better times will come, just like they have every other time we've had a downturn in our economy, and that the American people are so resilient and so strong and such great workers, I mean, that's one thing encouraging about the economy, is we know we have the best workforce in the world. And so that's what kept me encouraged when I lived there, and knowing what other presidents who lived there before us faced, the challenges our country faced and knowing how our country was able to overcome those challenges. And so, I see that now. We'll move on and things will be better.

NGUYEN: And as we move on, we look at the role of the first lady. It has evolved over the decades, and there is some talk, some debate rather, that that should be a paid post. What do you think about that?

BUSH: Well, I think the -- no, I don't think it should be a paid post, because the fact is, the first lady, or the first gentleman, when there is one, get there because they are married to someone who's the actual office holder. And I think that's important to recognize that the spouse of the president is not an office holder, we weren't elected, I was not elected, George was elected.

But, I also do think that we benefit every time from the expertise and from the special interests of our first ladies. The first lady comes to the job with expertise and interest that she's able to use to benefit the people of the United States and I think that happens every time, but it's not an elected job or, you know, an official job.

NGUYEN: Lastly, any egrets over these past eight years?

BUSH: Well, I guess I would say that just not doing enough, that I wish I'd done more on different issues. Of course, I'm sorry that I did not get to go to Burma and meet a freed Aung San Suu Kyi and that Burma was on the course to a democratic transition. But, that's something that' I'm sad about. But, I hope that one day I will be able to go to Burma and meet Aung San Suu Kyi.


NGUYEN: She's referring there to the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest and has been for many, many years, there. It's a place that she is very passionate about, and it is not over, because Mrs. Bush is going to continue her work in what's called the Freedom Institute which will be built at the Bush library at her alma motter, SMU.

HOLMES: She's SMU. You're a UT. All you Texas folks.

NGUYEN: I know, that's the Texas connection. They are looking forward to moving back to Dallas, speaking of Texas.

HOLMES: And a nice house. We've been talking about that for awhile, as well.

We're going to turn to Howard Kurtz. It's that time for us. Anytime we're getting close to the top of the hour, time to get rid of us and get him on in here. Tell us what's happening on RELIABLE SOURCES, this morning. Good morning to you, sir.

HOWARD KURTZ, RELIABLE SOURCES: Good morning, T.J. Coming up, the "Chicago Tribune" is subpoenaed in the Rod Blagojevich investigation. Did the company considered the governor's demand that critical journalists be fired in exchange for state aid in selling Wrigley Field. We've got the deputy editorial page Blagojevich targeted by name.

Jay Leno making the move from late night to primetime. Could this force other networks to look for cheaper evening programming? And a hot new movie starring Kate Beckinsale as a jailed journalists who bares more than a passing resemblance to Judith Miller. Director Rod Lurie joins us.

That and much more ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES.

HOLMES: I thought you were about to tell me you had Kate Beckinsale on today.

KURTZ: We're working on that. HOLMES: OK, keep working on it, Howie. Good to see you. We'll see you the e top of the hour.

NGUYEN: See what gets your attention. Well, this might get your attention, at well. The weather outside is kind of frightful. Reynolds Wolf is here with the latest on that.

Hey Reynolds.


WOLF: Always seems like Monday morning, things always get a little crazy, weather-wise. Let's send it back to you.

NGUYEN: Yeah I know, feel like (cough), kind of under the weather, then.

WOLF: I know, Sunday's not too bad, Monday's, different story.

NGUYEN: I think a lot people might be calling in sick, not because they're actually sick, but because they can't get out. The fact that they don't have electricity and the roads are all blocked because of those tree limbs and power lines.

HOLMES: You don't have that excuse tomorrow, Betty.

NGUYEN: Yeah, thanks, T.J., you just blowing my cover.

WOLF: See you guys.

HOLMES: All right, thank you, Reynolds.

Well coming up here, next, you know, people have a tough time getting a job. A lot of people are fighting for the same job, few positions. How do you get your resume out there? Well, sometimes you might just need to staple it to your chest.

NGUYEN: Really?

HOLMES: Whatever works.


HOLMES: You know, sometimes you do what you've gotta do. It's that bad out there, folks. This lady has pretty much put her resume on her shirt and she's walking around, she is handing them out, as well, but she is essentially got herself on display out in L.A. It's tough to find a job right now. She said it's never been this tough, so she decided to get creative. She said she's applying for about 40 jobs every single day in addition to wearing that shirt. So, like we say, people gotta do what you gotta do in these tough times.

Hearing from a lot of people out there. A lot of stories of people struggling to find jobs. Not all of them wearing shirts, but Josh, you know what, you gotta do what you gotta do. JOSH LEVS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know what, T.J., the a guy in New York who was wearing that sandwich board saying give me a job. He got a job. It worked out.

HOLMES: It worked out.

LEVS: Sometimes this stuff pays off.

Yeah, we are looking at the lighter side, let's do another one. I want to show you this. This is pretty cute. This is a snowman holding an unemployed sign, this is an iReport that came to us from Sean McNeal (ph) in Springhill, Tennessee. Now, obviously, there is the lighter side, as we're showing, but we also know there's a lot of serious stories out there.

I want to show you a video iReport we got from Peter Kieselbach, who is one of the many Americans, right now, struggling to find work.


PETER KIESELBACH, UNEMPLOYED IREPORTER: It's unfortunate. This is my first layoff in over 30 years in research and development engineering. I've worked for just two companies in my career, but I'm finding that there are not many jobs and there's lot of competition for the few there are.


LEVS: Yea, so he's still looking.

We also pulled up quotes from a couple of them. Let's go to this first one, here. We have it on graphic for you. This one comes to us from Maria Davis in Prescott Valley. She says, "The job scene where I live is a joke. Nobody's hiring. If a job does open up, it's for minimum wage at a fast food place." Then she says that she actually went and applied for one of those and she was told that she's overqualified.

We've got one more for you, here. Evelyn Guzman, check out this. "Do I go into foreclose now and use the savings for food and bills or do I continue to have hope that I will find employment soon?" She's in Orlando, Florida.

Before we go, I wanted to zoom back on the board behind me, it's one more, this comes to us from iReport. Let's check this out. Newborn twins, and now we're unemployed. This comes from Aaron Crilling (ph) in Brecksville (ph), Ohio. She says when she got home with her newborn twins, that's when she found out that she lost her job. Now she's concerned about health insurance. This is the kind of stuff people are dealing with. Send us your stories, Keep them coming. We obviously want to keep sharing them, here. Because in the end, T.J., these little bits, as you know, are, you know, describing what Americans are dealing with all over the country.

HOLMES: Yeah, this stuff is real. We sometimes just put numbers up, but these are real stories that people need to hear about their fellow Americans. Josh, we appreciate you.

LEVS: Thanks.

NGUYEN: Well, the financial world is somewhat shaken by the nation's recession, but one financial analyst is moving through it all without blinking. Meredith Whitney is our "To the Top" subject, this morning.


MEREDITH WHITNEY, OPPENHEIMER & CO: I've made some gutsy calls throughout my career. This one was a big one.

NGUYEN (voice-over): The big one for financial analyst, Meredith Whitney, happened a year ago. Against the tide, she predicted ContiGroup was treading financially troubled waters.

WHITNEY: I've never been afraid to make a controversial call. I put a tremendous amount of work into my office, so I wasn't worried. I was surprised I was the only one making it.

NGUYEN: But she was right and it made her a wall street superstar.

WHITNEY: The one thing that has propelled me, I would say, is being just an absolute devour of information and reading prolifically, listening, searching out ideas and so it's just a drive to achieve.

NGUYEN: A drive to achieve that came early for Whitney.

WHITNEY: My first job, I was nine and I was the youngest paper route delivery person for the "Washington Post."

NGUYEN: Ranked one of fortune 500's 50 most powerful women in business, Whitney credits her mother with great advice.

WHITNEY: Set realistic goals, achieve them and recalibrate your goals all the time. So, to set pie in the sky goals you're going to be somewhat self-defeated and to set realistic goals, it builds confidence. Confidence is the key to success.



NGUYEN: Coming up next no RELIABLE SOURCES, one of Chicago's top paper files for bankruptcy, then the scandal of the year lands in its own backyard. Can you imagine? How do you cover the story then? Well, the governor's troubles and the "Chicago Tribune," we'll tell you all about that.

HOLMES: Then on LATE EDITION at 11:00, Wolf Blitzer's adds up the cost of the economy in crisis, market woes and the "Big Three" bailout loan. All that coming up, don't miss a full morning, here on CNN. But first, got a check of the headlines. NGUYEN: "Now in the News," President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq ,today. He's meeting with Iraqi leaders addressing U.S. troops and celebrating the recent security pact between Iraq and the U.S.

Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich may hire well-known Chicago defense attorney Ed Jensen, or has hired him. The two met for several hours, yesterday. Jensen has represented newspaper baron Conrad Black and singer R&B singer R. Kelly. Blagojevich is charged with trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat.

A suspicious fire causes major damage to Alaska governor's Sarah Palin's hometown church. Several people were inside when that fire broke out yesterday, but everyone did get out safely. Officials say they are investigating the case as potential arson.

More top stories in 30 minutes. RELIABLE SOURCES begins right now.