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AMERICAN MORNING

White House Asked Wagoner to Resign; Obama Seeks Cooperation Fighting al Qaeda; China Cyber Spies; Obama's Tough Sell in Europe

Aired March 30, 2009 - 08:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. has no plans to shoot it down.

World markets taking a tumble this morning. We have Hong Kong's Hang Seng closing down nearly five percent. At the same time, Japan's Nikkei tumbled 4.5 percent, and right now, Europe following that lead and maybe in for a sell-off on Wall Street right now as well. We have Dow futures down 170 points.

Chinese government possibly spying on your computer. The Canadian group is accusing the Chinese of hacking into more than a thousand government and personal computers around the world. We're going to take you to Beijing for new developments on the threat.

We begin, though, with breaking news. And right now, Detroit is on the verge of coming to a grinding halt. This morning the CEO of General Motors Rick Wagoner is out. The White House pushing for his resignation and ordering GM and Chrysler back to the drawing board if they want any more taxpayer money saying right now, quote, "Neither company is viable."

It's all part of the administration's plan to restructure the auto industry. Yesterday's speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," President Obama acknowledged Detroit has made progress, but said there is still a lot of work to be done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we're trying to let them know is that we want to have a successful auto industry. U.S. auto industry. We think we can have a successful U.S. auto industry, but it's got to be one that's realistically designed to weather this storm and to emerge at the other end much more lean, mean, and competitive than it currently is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And on the broader economy to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama said that every decision counts when it comes to restoring the promise of the American dream.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: In some ways, I feel incredibly fortunate to be in this job at a time where the presidency really matters. You know? This is not a caretaker presidency right now. Every decision we're making counts, and my team understands that.

You know, if I had my preferences, would I love to deal with one of these at a time, deal with Afghanistan now and maybe put off banking till later or deal with health care three years from now? That would be great.

I don't have that luxury because the American people don't have that luxury. They need to be kept safe now. They need health care assistance now. They need this economy back on track now. They need to educate their kids now. And given that they are having to make a lot of difficult choices, it's important for us to work as hard as we can to help them live out their American dream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: All right. Christine Romans joins us now. She's "Minding Your Business," and has the latest for us.

So, first of all, with the situation with the auto industry, your take on that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right. Three quick points about this last chance for the U.S. automakers. GM's CEO forced out here. GM will get 60 days of operating funds, financing to continue in the very near term, while they try to figure out what to do. Chrysler to get 30 days of aid. But the government pretty clear that Chrysler is going to have to pair up with somebody else to survive, and that GM has got more work to be done.

Folks, you know, last fall -- late last year when we were talking about the path to viability to get $17.4 billion in taxpayer funding, they had to prove by March that they could do it. The president of the United States saying they didn't do it, and after six weeks of intense negotiations at the White House, deciding that, indeed, this is the last chance.

CHETRY: We saw Asian futures down, and things looking mixed in Europe. And now Dow futures down at 170.

ROMANS: Yes. It doesn't look good for the markets. And one of the reason is we've had a nice rally, and so they are very concerned this could be a setback to the U.S. economy. It's all about jobs, you guys.

I mean, we're talking about a lot of jobs that depend on the auto industry. And this shows that the auto industry is down the ropes today as much as it was late last year, even after all of the money that we've put into it. So concerns -- deep concerns about what this means for the recession and for the job situation in this country.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: What part do you think means more? The fact that they might let one of these industries fail or the fact that the White House got in there and said to the CEO of the company, out?

ROMANS: Both. Can you imagine? Here we are now. And it's not just GM that has had its CEO kicked out by the White House. Keep in mind Citigroup was told they had to replace almost all of its board. So you have had this administration with its hands right into these companies, because our money is in there, too.

ROBERTS: Christine, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Sure.

CHETRY: You can also see the president's plan to rescue Detroit. It's live at 11:00 this morning -- his comments. And you can watch it right here on CNN as well as cnn.com/live.

ROBERTS: The White House and the Pentagon getting ready to send another 21,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan. At the same time, President Obama is trying to get a new message to neighboring Pakistan. The war against al Qaeda is your war, too.

The president talked about Pakistan's role during his Sunday interview on CBS' "Face the Nation."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Now, one of the concerns that we've had building up over the last several years is a notion, I think, among the average Pakistani that this is somehow America's war, and that they are not invested. And that attitude, I think, has led to a steady creep of extremism in Pakistan that is the greatest threat to the stability of the Pakistani government and ultimately the greatest threat to the Pakistani people.

What we want to do is say to the Pakistani people you are our friends, you are our allies. We are going to give you the tools to defeat al Qaeda and to root out these save havens, but we also expect some accountability. And we expect that you understand the severity and the nature of the threat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And an intense day of violence in Lahore, Pakistan. Nearly a dozen officers killed after gunmen took over a police training center, launching hand grenades and heavy gun fire. The fight went on for eight hours. So will President Obama's plan really help quell the violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Our Barbara Starr is live for us at the Pentagon.

You know, there's a lot of this aid and this new plan is based on performance benchmarks. So he is trying to, you know, give them an incentive to come to the table here. Do folks at the Pentagon think that they will be able to rise to the challenge?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is a lot of doubt about it, John. Commanders will tell you getting rid of those safe havens in Pakistan is a top priority, but there are a lot of questions as you say about Pakistan's accountability for getting the job done.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): Another terrorist attack on a mosque in Pakistan's violent tribal region. Pakistan military operations continue in these mountains but success is questionable. President Obama warns it is here al Qaeda is planning new attacks against the U.S.

Mr. Obama sounds like he's tackling the crisis, telling Pakistani leaders if they won't go after al Qaeda and the Taliban, he will.

OBAMA: If we have a high value target within our sights after consulting with Pakistan, we're going after them.

STARR: And on CNN's state of the union, the top U.S. military commander also talked tough.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CENTCOM COMMANDER: If it ultimately comes to it that we will if necessary take action.

STARR: But a reality check quickly follows.

PETRAEUS: Let me caveat that very, very carefully though. And that is that there is no intention for us to be conducting operations in there certainly on the ground.

STARR: The reality, the U.S. is continuing ongoing military and CIA efforts. Limited reconnaissance and missile attacks from unmanned drones like these but no U.S. ground forces inside Pakistan.

A senior U.S. military official tells CNN there is now greater effort to share intelligence with the Pakistanis and hope they stop helping the Taliban by tipping them off.

There has been some success. Several attacks have killed top al Qaeda operatives. But skeptics point out it's difficult to get intelligence about where the bad guys are even across the border in Afghanistan, where Mr. Obama is adding another 21,000 U.S. Troops.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: How are you going to get the intelligence on where the terrorists are? From the locals. And they're not going to want to help if you don't make them feel secure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: So still a huge caveat for American military power. No boots on the ground inside Pakistan - John.

ROBERTS: Barbara Starr for us this morning with that. Barbara, thanks so much. It's 8 minutes now after the hour.

CHETRY: More games. The new evidence that Chinese spies could be watching you and your government. You're watching the Most News in the Morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Breaking this morning, the Chinese government could be spying on you. It's now under pressure to answer allegations it's been hacking into computers across the globe. CNN's John Vause is live in Beijing, China.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Kiran. Well, there is no evidence according to the investigators that any U.S. government computers were hacked, but in terms of the number of countries which are being affected by this, this operation may, in fact, be the largest computer spying network ever uncovered.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE (voice-over): What began as an investigation into possible hacking of computers at the office of the Dalai Lama may have uncovered a vast network of cyber espionage, possibly originating from China and infiltrating so-called high value targets, a computer at NATO, foreign industries and embassies in more than 100 countries.

His holiness says he doesn't know the Chinese government is responsible. When he called for an investigation, told CNN there's no need for anyone to spy on his office.

DALAI LAMA, EXILED TIBETAN LEADER: If you are open, transparent, then no need for the spying, these things. If you want to know, ask directly. That's much better.

VAUSE: Researches at two universities, Toronto and Cambridge discovered the global spying Web and called it Ghostnet. And say for almost two years, it's been devastatingly effective.

RONALD DEIBERT, AUTHOR, "TRACKING GHOSTNET": They can extract any document they wanted. They can turn on web cameras, turn on audio devices so that they can in effect use the computers as a listening device in the offices.

VAUSE: Ghostnet spread initially by e-mail and its control service were traced to three provinces in China -- Hainan Island, Guangdong and Sichuan. The fourth in Southern California. Researchers in Canada have stopped short of blaming the Chinese government of outright involvement. "It is not inconceivable that this network of infected computers could have been targeted by state other than China, but operated physically within China."

Another possibility they raise, Chinese hackers freelancing their skills. Recently, one of the country's most infamous alleged hackers known as Top Fox was arrested in Beijing. Police say his Trojan program was made freely available on the Internet, and at one point was used to hack more than 30,000 computers a day, emptying bank account, accessing stock details and e-mails.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: As for the Chinese government and Ghostnet, there has been no official comment coming from Beijing. A few diplomats in Chinese embassies in London and Washington have reportedly tried to play down the investigation. The foreign ministry here tells us that there will be a formal response, quote, "when the time comes." - John and Kiran.

ROBERTS: Of course, the outstanding question is when will that time be?

CHETRY: Yes. We don't know the answer to that one.

ROBERTS: General Motors and Chrysler employ about 140,000 workers here in the United States, so what will the White House's plan for the failing automakers mean for them?

We are talking this morning to the always opinionated mayor of Lansing, Michigan, Virg Bernero. He is coming up. 14 minutes now after the hour.

The global blame game. The world has changed since the president's last trip to Europe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the biggest celebrity in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: An economy in crisis and a planet in peril awaiting him at the G-20.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is more popular than his policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: You're watching the Most News in the Morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

It's day 70 of the Obama administration, and GM's CEO forced out by the White House while President Obama gets ready to take on the world, literally.

He's leaving for Europe tomorrow. He'll address the G-20 Economic Summit later this week. His plans won't please everyone, but that's something the president says he's come to accept.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I don't think I've lost any friends. But I'm sure I've strained some friendships. And, look, this is an invigorating job. In some ways, I feel incredibly fortunate to be in this job at a time where the presidency really matters. You know? This is not a caretaker presidency right now. Every decision we're making counts, and my team understands that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And John McCain says President Obama promised to be a bipartisan leader, but claimed that he hasn't lived up to his word. The Arizona senator telling reporters this weekend he believes the president has good intentions, but needs to spend more time listening to Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think he's trying. I want to give him credit for trying. I think this is early in his administration. I don't think we should make judgments. There's no doubt this president has as great a challenges as any president ever has in the history of this country, certainly amongst the top three or four. So let's continue to work to, to try to make him succeed.

I believe the role of loyal opposition is loyal to the country, yet opposition where we disagree on principles and philosophy. That makes for vigorous debate. Could that debate be more respectful? Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Despite his critics, President Obama remains wildly popular in Europe and should get a warm reception at the G-20 Summit. But when he stands before the G-20 leaders in London later on this week, he is likely to get the cold shoulder at least from some of them. And Jim Acosta now live from our Washington Bureau.

With a tough sell facing the president, a lot of anger out there around the world, Jim, on the economic situation, and there are some people who don't have a whole lot of faith in this president's plans to fix it.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. Let's remember that outrage at CEOs is not just contained to the United States. It's happening all over the world. And we remember, President Obama made a big splash on the world stage during the campaign.

Remember all that talk of him being a rock star? Well, not so much anymore. As the president is likely to find out this week in London, times have changed.

If the White House thought dealing with the Republicans and Washington was tough, try the French.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTORS: Revolution!

ACOSTA (voice-over): This is not the welcome President Obama is used to seeing on the road. But the president will find more than protests when he meets with leaders of the world's biggest economies at the G-20 Summit. The blame game over the financial crisis has gone global.

LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It was a crisis that was created and spread throughout the world due to the irresponsible behavior of white people, blue-eyed people.

ACOSTA: From a racially charged rant by Brazil's president to the outgoing Czech prime minister's fiery assessment of the Obama stimulus plan.

MIREK TOPOLANEK, CZECH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): All of these steps, that combination and the permanency is a way to hell.

ACOSTA: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is rejecting Mr. Obama's calls for a global stimulus plan, telling the "Financial Times" newspaper, "The economic crisis did not take place because we issued too little money."

OBAMA: And thank you to the people of Germany.

ACOSTA: The world has changed since Mr. Obama stood before 200,000 people in Berlin during the campaign, when he vowed to repair America's damaged image around the world.

OBAMA: I know that I don't look like the Americans who previously spoken in this great city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the biggest celebrity in the world.

ACOSTA: The outpouring of Euro love was mocked then by Republicans, now populist outrage has spread around the world.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Barack Obama is still very popular overseas. Public opinion poll show that. But he is more popular than his policies. It's kind of the same story back here. While Barack Obama is very popular, his policies like the stimulus, the bailout of Wall Street and the banks not nearly as popular.

ACOSTA: While the focus of the G-20 Summit will be to solve the crisis, now much of Europe and the world are skeptical of Mr. Obama's plans, which is why Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is making a global appeal that this is no time to pull back.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. SECRETARY OF TREASURY: You know, the big mistake governments make in recessions is they put the brakes on too early. They see that first glimmer of light and the impetus to policy fades, and people put on the brakes, we're not going to do that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: President Obama's trip overseas will be his longest journey outside the U.S. since he's been in the White House eight days. The White House says the president will not only lead, but listen. But the challenge in this crisis is that there is no shortage of voices, John. And one of those voices, the Czech prime minister, we should mention that he has clarified his statements about that highway to hell saying that AC/DC was in the Czech Republic. And so that is partly why he used that phrase. If only he had referred to the economy getting "back in black," that might have been a bit more useful at this time.

ROBERTS: There you go. You got your AC/DC metaphors going this morning.

Jim, thanks so much for that.

ACOSTA: All right, John. You bet.

ROBERTS: Good job this morning.

Well, not sure where the G-20 actually is? You'll be hearing a lot about it this week. So here's more for you in an "AM Extra".

The G-20 consists of finance ministers and central bank governors from the European Union in 19 countries. They represent 90 percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product.

Topping this week's G-20 agenda, coming up with a global stimulus package, preventing protectionism by individual countries, helping developing nations that had been hit hard by the recession, and toughening regulations on financial markets. And, of course, complete coverage of the G-20 coming up this week here on the Most News in the Morning - Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Still ahead, Afghanistan and the urgency of now. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will try to sell the president's plan to the rest of the world tomorrow. And our Christiane Amanpour just returned from the country. She is going to join us to talk about what she thinks about whether or not this new strategy will work.

Also, General Motors and Chrysler hanging on by a thread this morning. The White House forcing the GM boss out, and giving both companies weeks, not months, to restructure if it wants more bailout money? So what does it mean for future of Michigan and all of those jobs?

It's 23 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: And welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. We are tracking breaking news from Michigan and the White House.

The CEO of General Motors forced out by the Obama administration. It's part of a set of ultimatums coming from the president. President Obama will announce the full plan at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. But joining us now for more, the mayor of Lansing, Michigan, Virg Bernero.

Welcome, and thanks for being with us this morning. So when you heard the news that Rick Wagoner is out at the behest of the White House, what did you think?

MAYOR VIRG BERNERO, LANSING, MICHIGAN: Well, Rick is a good man, and I think he's really began the transformation of General Motors. This is not your father's automobile company as we've talk about before. They are making better cars than ever before, but I'm not going to second-guess the president.

The important thing is -- you know, I'm upbeat and optimistic today -- this morning. The president has made a clear statement. He believes in the auto industry. He believes the auto industry is crucial to the country's future. And now is the time to support the president and get behind this program.

So I'm actually hopeful that this is one bump in the road on the way to the cleaner, greener automobile company that will be making the exciting new cars of the future.

CHETRY: And you do say you're cautiously optimistic about this plan and about GM's ability to turn things around. Yet we've been seeing them struggle for years. They haven't been able to come up with a viability plan over the past several months. So what makes you think they can accomplish under this new ultimatum, which is 60 days to reach that goal if they still want to get taxpayer bailout money?

BERNERO: You know, the president and his automotive task force are absolutely focused on -- really on the worker and on the product, and that we will get there. You know, sometimes, either has to be a change just like with a sports team. You've to change the coach. It's not saying anything bad about that coach, but I think we will get there. We have the most productive workers in the world making better cars than ever before. We talked about the Cadillac CTS, motor trend car of the year. Last year made in Lansing, Michigan.

If you look at the cars, the Chevy Malibu, the Pontiac G6 -- I mean, they are making better cars than ever before. It's a tough economy. There's no question. Could they have made themselves more recession-proof? Perhaps. But I think you've got a president who is committed to the industry. You've got an industry that is vital to this nation's economic health and to our national security. I hope that Americans will begin to practice patriotic purchasing.

You know, if you haven't driven an American car in a while, if you've been driving Ford vehicles now is the time. Give the American cars a shot. I'll tell you, if you get behind the wheel of one of these great American cars and you're going to market for a car, you'll want to buy one of these American cars over the Ford competition. It's the right thing to do. It's the patriotic thing to do.

CHETRY: That's interesting. I have a Chrysler town and country, the minivan, it's great. But now I'm hearing, you know, that they want Chrysler to merge with Fiat or, you know -- or risk possibly going under. So what do you say to people that are saying maybe I would have bought a U.S. car, but if the prospect is that these companies may close up shop, should I take that risk?

BERNERO: Well, when I say that the president is behind the automobile industry, these aren't just words. You know, part of this plan is they're going to stand behind these warrants. So if you buy a car in this transition period, you're going to be covered by a special warranty. So now is the time. There couldn't be a better time. There are great deals out there to buy American. I say buy American and build American. Look for patriotic purchasing wherever and whenever you can. It's in these recessionary times.

You know, I think part of the reason that we got to this recession is because of a lot of the outsourcing of good jobs, and we can bring those jobs back to America just by buying American.

By the decisions we make, if we will just look for the flag and look to employ our fellow Americans, we can do that. And we can certainly do that in the auto industry.

Look, we used to say what's good for GM is good for America and vice versa. And that's still true today. When you buy American, you're helping to employ your neighbors. You're helping to employ people in your community. And so we need to get back to that across the board. Who knows? Maybe we'll bring back a furniture industry and a textile industry and electronics industry. Who knows what we can do if we really start to buy American process.

But the fact is the president is committed. I think we will get there. Look, they've got to be tough. These are taxpayer dollars. I can't argue with the president. Maybe they should be tougher on the AIGs of the world and Wall Street, too. But this is taxpayer money, and there ought to be a lot of accountability to it.

CHETRY: All right. Well, that's what they are trying to do. And, of course, we'll hear more about the plan coming up in just about 2-1/2 hours.

Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing. Always great to talk to you. Thanks for being with us this morning.

BERNERO: Thank you. Thanks so much.

ROBERTS: We are crossing the half hour now. And here's what's on our agenda this morning. Stories that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.

Developing right now, a bloody eight-hour standoff at a police training center in Pakistan is now over. Police say they killed four suspects and captured another after they stormed the center using heavy firepower. Local reports say as many as 25 people were killed during that standoff.

Brand new top secret pictures that you're seeing here. A suspected long-range missile on a North Korean launch pad, appears to be ready to go. The test could happen in days. North Korea says that the rocket is simply carrying a satellite but this morning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. may consider shooting it down if the missile appears headed toward the United States.

Madonna's adoption hearing has just been postponed until Friday. She was in court this morning in the African nation of Malawi, hoping to sign the papers and take home her new four-year-old daughter whose mother died shortly after giving birth.

The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in the Hague tomorrow trying to sell the President's plan for Afghanistan to the rest of the world. President Obama's new strategy involves Pakistan playing a greater role. Here is what the president said that about that on CBS' "Face the Nation" yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What we want to do is say to the Pakistani people you are our friends, you are our allies. We are going to give you the tools to defeat Al Qaeda and to root out these safe havens, but we also expect some accountability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And here now is CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. She just recently returned from Afghanistan. So we'll talk about Pakistan in just a second here. But how is the President's new plan for Afghanistan being taken there?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, interesting. I mean, he's talking about going after Taliban and Al Qaeda and of course, that has been going on for the last eight years. What they are doing is increasing troops for various different reasons, including standing up the Afghan security forces. But what is really important according to all the U.S. military commanders, Afghan officials, local people, multi-national commanders is to step up the civilian aspect of development there.

That means, quite simply, the roads, power plants, economic alternatives to people there who have nothing other than basically the ability to take $10.00 from the Taliban to lay an IED, an improvised explosive device. That's what's going on there. Promises to stand this country up developmentally have been broken.

And the very interesting thing is that most people support the United States. The multinational effort to give them a better life and to put Afghanistan on the road to a proper future, a non-violent, non-extremist future. Only 10 percent or less support any kind of Taliban activity. And so I think there's a real chance for the U.S. to win there if they see what is the war they are fighting.

ROBERTS: Right. What you say to the plan in the overall? Is there anything new here?

AMANPOUR: You know what, I don't see many details. I've talked to people on the ground there. Commanders are saying look, we've been told we're going to reach out to moderate Taliban. Who exactly are moderate Taliban? Commanders there say there's Taliban with a big T, which is Taliban and Al Qaeda and then Taliban with a little T which is those who take those tactics but only because they have no other economic incentive or because they're intimidated and forced in to do it. So that's going to be a very interesting strategy, how they separate those two.

ROBERTS: So what about the Pakistani piece of this? The President is offering to increase aid to Pakistan but he's saying it comes with strings attached. You have to hit these performance benchmarks. He also said over the weekend that the U.S. does reserve the right to go after targets in Pakistan after, "consulting with the Pakistani government." How will that go about?

AMANPOUR: Well, that has been going out throughout the Bush administration and in the early Obama administration. So that's been going on, and going after with the drones and the other remote missile launches. In terms, again, if you look at the polls, extremism is not spreading either in Pakistan or in Afghanistan. So the real issue is the competition for who is going to deliver to the people so as to wipe out any kind of opportunity for these militants to go at it. It's very tough. There are very strong focuses of militant activity but it's by no means nationwide in either country so they have to decide what is the war they're fighting.

What is the war they're fighting? Is it just the militant and just the military? Or officials say this is not just a military solution. From the Defense Secretary down toward the military commanders, the civilian component, the development component has to happen.

ROBERTS: Christiane Amanpour, it's great to see you. Glad you made it back safely and thanks.

We want to hear your questions, by the way, on the big stories. Call our hotline at 1-877-my-am-fix. You can also follow us on twitter. Just go to AMFIX, we will continue to get you answers to the pressing questions that you have.

CHETRY: All right. And still ahead right now, snow is threatening areas that were hit by bad flooding in North Dakota as well as Minnesota. We're live with the latest from the Extreme Weather Center.

And also ahead, Madonna waiting to find out whether or not she can adopt another child from Malawi. We're going to hear how she is answering her critics. We have the tape.

It's 35 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. We're 37 minutes past the hour. Fast forwarding to some of the stories that will be making headlines later today.

Jury selection begins today here in Manhattan in the trial against Anthony Marshall. He is the son of the late socialite Brook Aster and also his attorney. The two were accused of stealing from her $198 million dollar estate.

Well if you live in St. Louis, you might need to find a new way to work this morning. In the face of a soaring budget shortfall, the city and they county are now cutting 23 bus routes from the local service effective today. It affects more than 2,300 different bus stops.

In Fargo, North Dakota, officials are planning to attack the flooded Red River from the air. They will be dropping 11 one-ton sandbags from helicopters trying to divert the violent current.

And our Rob Marciano is keeping a watch on this area as well as the area right along that river in Minnesota as well.

(WEATHER REPORT)

ROBERTS: Well, the Final Four is set. The overall number one seed will not be making the trip to Detroit. Second seeded Michigan State stunned Louisville, 64-52 to win the Midwest region. North Carolina rounded out the Final Four with a win over Oklahoma.

So here is a look at the brackets. You're still alive here. UNC goes on to play Villanova next weekend. As for the Spartans, they get a home court edge against UConn on Friday.

Meet the new Tiger. Same as the old Tiger. Ah yes, that dramatic 15-foot 11-inch birdie on the final hole completed Tiger Woods five-stroke comeback in the Arnold Palmer Invitational yesterday. It was his first win since knee surgery nine months ago. Tiger will now focus on trying to win the masters for a fifth time and, of course, the masters in two weeks at Augusta, Georgia.

CHETRY: Are you still in? Is your final pick in there?

ROBERTS: No, I didn't do brackets this year. But I tell you, I watched Tiger win yesterday. I know how big a golf fan you are.

AMANPOUR: I like to watch it on TV.

ROBERTS: He got up there...

CHETRY: As opposed to doing it.

ROBERTS: He had done something similar there before as well. He's got out there and he rounded up about five times and from the second to left putter head, he knew it was in the hole.

CHETRY: There you go. Everyone was so worried about his hip and his knee and everything else.

ROBERTS: You can see Christiane's profile.

CHETRY: Are you playing any NCAA? I mean, are you...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: That is a foreign language to me! Bush kashi (ph) in Afghanistan.

CHETRY: That's better, right.

ROBERTS: Let's hope it does.

CHETRY: Keep your fingers crossed. I happen to make it all the way. All right. Christiane, thanks so much.

Well today, D.C. lawmakers are getting a firsthand look at the border war. So what needs to be stopping the violence from spreading north? We're going to talk to one senator who just toured the border and he is actually holding hearings right there at the border along with some of the other senators. We're going to see what they found out.

Forty-one minutes after the hour.

ROBERTS: A country divided over another Madonna adoption.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you understand people's reservations about this?

MADONNA, SINGER: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: We're live in Africa. Will she leave with a new daughter? You're watching the Most News in the Morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Forty-four and a half minutes now after the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Right now Madonna will have to wait until Friday to learn whether a court in Malawi's capital has approved her petition to adopt another child from that nation. This morning, we're taking you all the way to Nairobi, Kenya, where CNN's David McKenzie has been watching the story unfold all morning.

What's the reason for the delay here, David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we're not entirely sure. It might just be that these legal issues have delayed this a few days. It doesn't necessarily mean that there some issue with her case. In fact, my experience in Africa, the case can take months or even years. So it would be bit very speedy if it comes on Friday. But you know, she's been there since Madonna has been in Malawi since the weekend. She has been visiting some of the sites of her charities there. She has been looking at some of the progress of her work at schools. But what everyone wants to ask her about is about this adoption.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us why you're adopting again? MADONNA, SINGER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand people's reservation about it seriously?

MADONNA: No.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): People are making it their business. Some criticizing her move to adopt a 4-year-old girl, Mercy. A noted charity Save the Children is pleading with Madonna to think again, saying that orphans should stay with the extended families. Opinion in Malawi is divided. Some saying that it's a big break for the child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you project 20 years from now, where will the child be if the child is left in the orphanage where it is, or if it gets a chance to get an education with Madonna?

MCKENZIE: This isn't the first time. Madonna created a firestorm in 2006 for adopting 13-month-old David Banda in Malawi and taking him to the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did it go?

MCKENZIE: Charity group said that the star used her celebrity and money to ease the adoption laws. Those laws will be tested again with Madonna expected to make an appearance at a Malawian court.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE: Well, so, John, she made that appearance a few hours ago and will be back in court, we suspect, on Friday. The opinion is really split. It's quite interesting. People asking in Africa, just the average man on the street is positive saying well if this child has an opportunity for a future with Madonna, that they should take that opportunity. But many NGO groups and certainly international NGOs like Save the Children are saying, you can't make exceptions like this that children should be raised by the extended family wherever possible. John.

ROBERTS: You know, you could also take into consideration, too, David, that if a child remains close to her country, to her culture, as Madonna wants her to, that maybe when she is grown up she will return to Africa to try to give back to better the lives of other people. But what I'm wondering, the protestations by this aid group are they being taken into consideration by the courts at all?

MCKENZIE: Well, they will consider all aspects of this case like they would with any adoption case. We will hear Friday publicly what protests have come forward, that more likely, they'll come from local NGOs, aid agencies in Malawi if it comes at all. Certainly, she was successful in getting David Banda when he was just 13, 14-month-old to go. He has come back to Malawi but she is going back to America.

So it might not be realistic to believe that she would keep the child in Malawi. I'm sure she would want the girl with her in the States. So it is a tricky ethical mine field and certainly no one is necessarily pointing the finger at Madonna but Save the Children is saying they can't expect these cases that a child - in the U.S. it's not really realistic for every child. What really is needed from their point of view is long-term infrastructure development and help for children in Africa. So it's a tricky one.

ROBERTS: We will keep watching this case closely. David McKenzie for us in Nairobi this morning. David, thanks so much - Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Well, Senator John McCain asked if he would support his running mate Sarah Palin, Alaska governor, in 2012. What did he say? Find out coming up next.

Also, lawmakers getting an up close look at the mayhem in Mexico and its impact on America. Coming up, we're going to talk to a senator who just toured the border. Find out what he thinks needs to be done to stop the violence.

It's 49 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

CNN has been taking you inside the bloody battle raging to stop the drug lords from taking over Mexico. And of course as we've been talking about the violence spilling across the border as well. And the casualties in the drug war well over 6,000 people killed last year alone.

Yesterday, on CBS' "Face the Nation," President Obama talked about the strategy for stopping the violence that is now terrorizing our border towns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Obviously, there have been calls to increase National Guard troops on the borders. That's something that we are considering but we want to first see whether some of the steps that we've taken can help quell some of the violence and we want to make sure that we are consulting as effectively as we can with the Mexican government and moving the strategy forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: In just a few hours, a group of lawmakers will be holding a special meeting in El Paso, Texas, to address the violence and the drugs flowing from the North, in Mexico into the United States. And Senator John Barrasso will be at that meeting as a ranking member of the western hemisphere Peace Corps and the Narcotics Affair Subcommittee. Just last night, he actually toured the border with local law enforcement and he joins me from El Paso this morning.

Senator, thanks for being with us.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY), RANKING MEMBER, SUBCOMMITTEE ON WESTERN HEMISPHERE'S GLOBAL NARCOTICS: Good morning, Kiran.

CHETRY: You had a chance to meet with various law enforcement. You were telling me including the Texas National Guard, local sheriffs even Mexican lawmakers over the past several days. What do you see now that you've been down there and seen it first hand as the biggest challenge in combating the drug violence in Mexico and also preventing it from spilling over into our border?

BARRASSO: Well, a lot of it is the geography, Kiran. I flew with the Texas National Guard last night on drug surveillance. I toured with the sheriffs. There are places where there are gaps in the fence and there are places where crossing is very easy and if we don't have enough boots on the ground, personnel there to make sure that our border is protected.

I think it's pretty easy access to the country for those moving people as well as moving drugs coming into the United States and then there is the reverse of the moving of money and moving guns from the United States into Mexico.

CHETRY: Right. President Obama announced a ramped-up plan to try to at least help with some of that. He talked about doubling the number of the border security task force teams, also moving significant number of federal agents as well as equipment, resources, night vision goggles, black hawk helicopters and it also involved intelligence sharing which is another key as we've talked about before. Is that going to be enough to impact the violence?

BARRASSO: Well, Kiran, you're dealing with these really drug trafficking organizations, growing the drugs in South America, transporting through Mexico, across the border and then distributing the drugs in the United States. And you have to actually break up these networks. Break up these cartels. You have to actually win this battle and the battle is being waged militarily now in Mexico. But we need to do our job in making sure that the border is secure.

CHETRY: So you're talking about a two-prong situation. Number one is at least trying to tamp down on some of that border violence. It sounds like some of this is aimed at that. But then also getting to the larger problem of the cartels as well. What do you think is the solution there? I mean, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that, you know, we are complacent in that because of our demand, our insatiable demand for drugs.

BARRASSO: Well, I'm never one to want to blame America for you know blame America first approach. It is not one that I believe in. I will tell you though, we need immediate results and we need to be doing things intermediate and long term. and long term drug demand is clearly part of that.

Right now, in terms of the immediacy. That's why we are having these hearings here today in Texas right on the border across the border from Juarez which has been called the Baghdad of Mexico because of the death and destruction there. The concern is the violence spreading across the border and that is what we're going to hear about today. CHETRY: All right. Let us know how it goes. I know you're talking to be talking to a lot of people who lived this firsthand today when you hold those hearings. Senator John Barrasso, a republican from Wyoming, thank you so much.

BARRASSO: Thank you, Kiran.

ROBERTS: They were running mates in last year's presidential campaign but what does John McCain think about Sarah Palin for president in 2012? His answer is coming up next.

It's 55 1/2 minutes now after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Top videos right now on CNN.com. The most popular, Facebook helps solve a crime. Robbery victims write on the social networking site and hunted down the crook who robbed her husband's truck. She did it by checking out local residents profile pictures.

And call it the recession kimono. A tough economy is making some Japanese salesmen ditched high-end fabrics and craftsmanship in favor of cheaper options. A traditional made to order kimono goes for about $10,000 U.S. dollar a piece

And the Dalai Lama's computer may be among the 1,300 to get hacked by a massive cyber spy network out of China. According to reports, computers in more than 100 countries have been attacked by what is being called Ghostnet. The network has targeted people all over the world and foreign governments and even NATO.

CHETRY: All right. Well, John McCain making some political headlines this morning. The Arizona senator and two-time presidential contender sat down with NBC News on Sunday's "Meet the Press." McCain's 2008 campaign raised the profile, of course, of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

So will he pull for Palin if she decides to go for the White House herself in 2012? Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In terms of future leaders of the republican party, would you like to see Sarah Palin become president?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'd like to see her compete. I think we've got some very good candidates. John Huntsman and the problem when I run down these names, I always leave out a name. Bobby Jindal, Tim Pawlenty. There's so many. There's a lot of good fresh talent out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you support Palin?

MCCAIN: I'd have to see who the candidates are.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: How would you interpret that?

CHETRY: I don't know. I mean, he said he has great affection for Sarah Palin and her family as well, but, you know, maybe he feels 2012 will be a totally different time. When he was running he thought he was ready to be president and maybe in 2012 he has changed his mind.

ROBERTS: It is a pretty standard answer though when somebody asks you, would you support so and so. There's a whole great candidates out there and anyone could be a good candidate or a good president. So he is sticking to the script.

CHETRY: You know the drill.

ROBERTS: That's pretty much going to wrap it up for us. Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll see you back here bright and early tomorrow.

CHETRY: And right now, here's CNN NEWSROOM with Heidi Collins.