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Politics Complicating the Next Step in Afghan War Strategy; Taliban Attacks on U.S. Post Kill Eight American Soldiers; Kids Caught in Crossfire in Chicago's Surging Violence; Another Stimulus?; Ignoring Calorie Counts; New U.S. Plan for Low-Risk Illegal Immigrants; To Catch a Predator; Swine Flu Myths; Top 10 Dangerous Foods

Aired October 7, 2009 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And a good Wednesday morning to you. It's October 7th. Thanks for joining us on the Most News in the Morning. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry. We've got a lot going on today. The top stories we're going to be talking about in the next 15 minutes, eight years in Afghanistan for U.S. troops, and the president making it clear that withdrawing troops is not an option right now. But after a rare bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders, something else is clear. The president is not ready to commit to a war strategy yet.

ROBERTS: At the same time, we're learning new information about the attack on the remote outpost in Afghanistan where eight U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush over the weekend. In a moment, we'll take you live to the Pentagon.

CHETRY: Also, you're already paying more for peanuts, blankets, legroom. Now the airlines are finding another way to make money, and it's going to cost you this holiday season.

ROBERTS: Our top story this morning, though, deciding the next move in Afghanistan. Exactly eight years ago today, former President Bush told the nation that U.S. troops were at war there. Their mission, take out al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Today, the Taliban is alive and well and thriving. And U.S. military leaders are concerned our mission will fail in Afghanistan without more troops.

President Obama calling a rare meeting at the White House yesterday with congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle, and he made one commitment that he will not withdraw troops right now.

Our Dan Lothian is live in Washington at the White House this morning. Dan, the president not ready to commit yet, though, on a strategy moving forward.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. He is not yet ready to commit. But with mounting pressure to make a decision on Afghanistan, President Obama will again be sitting down with his national security team today. It is the third of five planned meetings. Some see the next move as a major test of Mr. Obama as commander in chief, and congressional leaders seem divided on what they are willing to support.


GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. We will not waver. We will not tire. We will not falter. And we will not fail.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): October 7th, 2001. America goes to war in Afghanistan. Eight years later with his own party and the American people wavering and the potential for failure, it is President Obama's conflict to win or lose. And he's taking his time deciding the next step, meeting Tuesday at the White House with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. Liberal Democrats clearly hesitant to ramp up the war effort.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Let me just say there was agreement, that it's a difficult decision for the president to make.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you imagine supporting thousands, tens of thousands more troops, speaker?

LOTHIAN: No such hesitation from Republicans. They emerged with two themes. The need to listen to military leaders who want more boots on the ground in Afghanistan and the urgency of making a decision.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's pretty clear that time is not on our side. As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said, we need to act with deliberate haste.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: We need to get this right, and I'm hopeful that the president will make a strong decision that will allow us to win this effort that was started many years ago.

LOTHIAN: Whatever decision the president makes, it will have strategic implications on the front lines and political ones here at home.

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER BUSH PRESS SECRETARY: I'm very curious to see which way he's going to go and decide on that. Major turning point for a Democrat president who might have to split from the liberal base who frankly would like to pull out of Afghanistan. We'll see.


LOTHIAN: And again, lawmakers who attended the White House meeting say that the president made it very clear that pulling out of Afghanistan is not an option that's on the table. It's a message that's likely to anger fellow Democrats, John. ROBERTS: You know, we talk about the varying opinions in Congress, but also public opinion as well, Dan. In a new "Associated Press"/GFK poll that's out this morning shows 40 percent of people, only 40 percent of people now, support the war. That's down four points from July. And 50 percent of people oppose sending in more troops. How much is that public opinion weighing on the White House when it comes to making a decision about Afghanistan?

LOTHIAN: Well, John, you know, the White House line is that the president's decision will not be based on politics. Having said that, they're also pointing out that the president is clearly aware of the public sentiment out there, that he's watching the polling. And so when he does make that decision, clearly this will be something that will be in his mind.

ROBERTS: All right. Dan Lothian for us from Washington this morning. Dan, thanks so much.

CHETRY: Also this morning for the first time, we're learning just how vulnerable that remote U.S. outpost in Afghanistan was where eight U.S. soldiers were ambushed this weekend. The remains of those soldiers arrived at Dover Air Force Base yesterday. Their families who are now planning funerals have given us permission to show these personal pictures.

Those men were stationed at a base surrounded by rugged mountains controlled by the Taliban. And we're now having extraordinary new details about that attack which was the deadliest for U.S. forces in more than a year.

Our Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon. And, Barbara, what have you learned?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, what we have learned is that this group of soldiers, outmanned and outgunned by the Taliban, fought and died to save each other.


STARR (voice-over): CNN has learned new details of the fierce battle that happened here at forward operating Base Keating. Eighty U.S. troops and Afghan forces were surrounded on all sides by high mountains shown in these 2007 photos obtained by CNN. Insurgents were hiding in the ridgelines.

A U.S. military official with access to the latest intelligence tells CNN it was about 5:00 a.m. when the attack began at the outpost near the village of Kamdesh. The U.S. believes about 200 local insurgents planned the assault for days hiding mortars, rockets and heavy machine guns in the mountains. The U.S. troops were extraordinarily vulnerable.

JOHN NAGL, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: Successful counterinsurgency strategy, you don't put small groups of soldiers watching overwatching infiltration routes from Pakistan. STARR: During the seven-hour firefight, attackers got inside the compound. Several sources describe intense, close combat as the U.S. troops fought to defend the base. Within 30 minutes of calling for air support, Apache helicopters were overhead, moving into the valley in waves, firing against enemy positions. But the narrow valley, cloud cover and billowing smoke from a fire that erupted at the base made it tough to launch an effective counterattack.

Medevac helicopters also had trouble getting in because the landing zone was under attack. It would take hours to evacuate the dead and the wounded. Even then some of the wounded troops didn't want to leave their buddies behind.


STARR: Now, this remote base had been scheduled to shut down in the next few days. And what U.S. commanders believe is the Taliban, the insurgents, were watching the troops getting ready to depart and decided to strike when the base was at its most vulnerable -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Such a tragedy. Barbara Starr for us this morning, thank you.

ROBERTS: It's six and a half minutes after the hour. And also new this morning, get ready to add another pesky airline charge to the list. Several carriers are now hitting you with a $10 peak travel surcharge. The added fee goes into effect between Thanksgiving and New Year's. You'll also have to pay more if you're traveling around the typical spring break season and Memorial Day.

CHETRY: Well, now might be a good time to change your e-mail password. Tens of thousands of stolen user names and passwords from major services like Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail have been posted online for everyone to see. The web mail companies say the information was most likely stolen through so-called phishing schemes. These are where users are most likely duped into giving their personal information like bank account details or login names to fake Web sites.

ROBERTS: And in the end, it wasn't two left feet that ended Tom DeLay's stint on "Dancing with the Stars." It was two stress fractures. The former House majority leader dropping out of the competition because of the injury to both feet. Next week, DeLay would have been performing the Texas two-step. The show's producers invited DeLay if he is healthy to do it on the season finale.

CHETRY: See? And that's the one he was performing all the time in Congress, you know?

ROBERTS: The Texas two-step.


ROBERTS: Yes. Exactly.

CHETRY: It would have been easy for him. ROBERTS: Yes. But, you know, the stress fractures in the feet. I haven't had one myself, but I understand they're pretty -- pretty painful.

CHETRY: He had two ice packs on. A lot of these, you know, celebrities that jump into the dance world for these competitions end up hurt. I mean, it's no joke. You know, nine hours, ten hours a day they're dancing and they're running around. So...

ROBERTS: You know, that's why I stick to the bump.

CHETRY: That's a good way to go.

Well, still ahead, we have been following the growing violence in Chicago. We have one family's story of a child caught in the crossfire. His family, though, not giving up hope.

It's eight minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Ten minutes past the hour right now.

That's a live look of Chicago this morning where beyond the splendor of Michigan Avenue lies a city in crisis. And one number will tell you why 40 kids killed in violent incidents since the beginning of this year.

ROBERTS: Forty children. It has prompted President Obama to dispatch Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Chicago today to address the situation. They'll meet with city officials, community leaders, and families devastated by the violence.

Our Gary Tuchman spoke with a young mother and her son who are living that reality.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This 6- year-old was shot and almost killed.



TUCHMAN: Martrell Stevens is partially paralyzed. His mother learned the hard way there is no minimum age for being a gunshot victim in this neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.

LAKEESHA RUCKER, MARTRELL STEVENS'S MOTHER: He was hit in the side and it exited out his back. Missed his heart by one inch and missed his spine by one inch, and punctured a hole through his lungs.

TUCHMAN: Martrell was shot in May 2008 while sleeping in the back seat of his mother's car. The gunman's target was someone near the car. He is still on the loose.

(on camera): Do you think people know who it was?


TUCHMAN: Are you sure about that?

RUCKER: Positive.

TUCHMAN: No one's talking?

RUCKER: No one.

TUCHMAN: No one wants to snitch?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Even more stunning, Martrell's mother says she regularly sees the man and is scared of him.

TUCHMAN (on camera): You ride past the man who you believe shot your little baby.

RUCKER: Every day.

TUCHMAN: That's incredible.

RUCKER: It hurts.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But what has kept this mom happy is her son's progress. Martrell describes himself as a fast wheelchair rider, and he can get around himself with his walker. He's now in first grade at a public school that specializes in special needs children.

Tell me what happened.

STEVENS: It's a secret.

TUCHMAN: Oh, it's a secret. OK. How come it's a secret?

STEVENS: Because.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Can you whisper to me what happened?

STEVENS: I got shot.

TUCHMAN: You got shot? Did you go to the hospital? OK. But how do you feel today?



(voice-over): A highlight for Martrell and his family, when he graduated from kindergarten and got what his mom hopes is the first of many diplomas. Tekita Gordan is Martrell's first-grade teacher.

TEKITA GORDAN, MARTRELL STEVENS'S TEACHER: Everybody has their different niche, but he is definitely one that I don't want your help, I've got it. That's his favorite line. I've got it. I've got it.

TUCHMAN: Martrell's mom dreams he will have a bright future.

RUCKER: I know my son is going to be able to walk again. The doctors are -- they're not telling me anything. They're unable to tell what's going to happen in the long run.

TUCHMAN (on camera): But you're pretty confident about that.

RUCKER: Very confident.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But she worries every day about the safety of all three of her children. She's a janitor and has another dream, about the day she can afford to move her family into a safer neighborhood.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Chicago.



CHETRY: Heartbreaking to see.

ROBERTS: Yes. The kid, he's so strong, and he's got such a great attitude. But, you know, he's going to have such a long recovery ahead of him. And what's his life going to be like? It's just, you know, another example of tragedy of crime in that city.

CHETRY: Yes. And the thing I just think stands out the most is that she knows who shot her son. She says she sees him every day.

ROBERTS: Can you imagine how difficult that is but be so afraid to say anything? My goodness. Interesting piece there from Gary.

Stay with CNN. Anderson Cooper, by the way, is live in Chicago tonight digging deeper on the surging violence that has claimed the lives of more than 40 teenagers. That's "AC 360" 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

CHETRY: Well, as we know, we've been talking about unemployment hovering at almost 10 percent right now. And still a lot of pain being felt out there in the economy. Now the administration is considering a series of measures that could help put Americans back to work. They don't want to call it another stimulus.

Christine Romans is here with details on exactly what it is.

Fourteen minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. We're 17 minutes past the hour right now. A stunning space discovery revealing that Saturn has an even bigger, newer halo. Scientists spotted an enormous ring around the planet, by far the largest of Saturn's rings.

How big is it? Well, the diameter is equal to 300 Saturns lined up side by side - not the cars, the planet. It would take about a billion Earths stacked together to fill that ring.

ROBERTS: A little Tilex will get rid of that.

CHETRY: How did they miss it before?

ROBERTS: We're (ph) semi-invisible. Protests in Turkey turning violent. Have a look at this video, rioters throwing firebombs at ATM after ATM, smashing windows at banks and shops. Police fired back with warning shots, water cannons and tear gas. So what's the target of all this rage? About a half mile away, officials from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are holding their annual meetings.

CHETRY: Well, David Letterman's sex scandal has been a late- night ratings grabber. Nearly 6 million viewers tuned in to Monday night's show - Letterman's first since revealing that he had sex with female staffers and was being blackmailed because of it. Letterman apologized to his wife and his staff for his behavior. His audience that night was more than double the number of people watching Conan O'Brien's "Tonight Show" on NBC.

ROBERTS: He's got something there, but I don't know if it's something you want to continue. Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning. We're talking about the potential - this had been kicked around for a couple of months now - of a second stimulus to try to create jobs?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And don't call it stimulus because stimulus has so many negative connotations with all the bailout fatigue we have, and it wouldn't be the second, it'll actually be the third because in 2008 we passed a $168 billion stimulus, and then a $787 billion stimulus in February.

Now they're talking about new ways to ease the pain, to broaden the safety net for people because 10 percent unemployment, folks, is just not tenable. You have too many people out there who can't pay their bills, and it really is a problem for the fabric of society when you have that many people out of work. So thinking about new ways to try to ease the pain and maybe spur some job creation.

Among the things the administration is talking about is a tax credit flexibility for small businesses. This would be something that could bring on the Republicans, who might be interested - anything that involves tax breaks for small businesses might be helpful for bringing on more people, extending unemployment and health care benefits. It's already been done a couple of times now. It's in - it's in the Senate, actually, right now. We're talking about extending jobless benefits again for up to 92 weeks now. Temporary loans for states. This would be voluntary, so you wouldn't have that problem with some states standing up and their governor saying we don't want borrowed money, we - we don't want to - to borrow money on the backs of taxpayers. It would be temporary loans that states could volunteer for. They wouldn't have to do it. And extending that $8,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit. There are even some people on that tax - I get a lot of e-mail from you about this - there are even some proposals to expand that to $15,000. I don't know if that's actually going to happen, but there's a lot of momentum to extend that Home - Home Buyer Tax Credit.

So has the stimulus so far - the second stimulus - has it worked? Well, when you look at how job losses have tapered off over the past year, when you look at the stock market, the DOW is up 27 - 29 percent since the stimulus passed on February 17. People who are supporters of spending this money say, look, you can see that the - that the economy, the job market, the stock market bottomed out, at least, after all that money was spent. So much money still to be spent in the economy. It has done something to cushion the blow.

Do we need more? Many people are saying even with unemployment rates still rising, you do need to do more.

ROBERTS: So anyone have a dollar figure on how much this might be worth?

ROMANS: That's the question, how much it will be worth and how do we pay for it? How are we going to come up with the money? We would likely have to borrow the money. Maybe there's some money left over in TARP. There's some places where we have money that's already been appropriated and - and set aside. The question is how much would it cost and where - it - it would cost a lot of money, how to pay for it (ph).

CHETRY: Just extending those unemployment benefits alone is a huge chunk of change. Ninety-two weeks - that's a lot.

ROMANS: It is. And employers bear some of the burden for that because there are - there are taxes (INAUDIBLE) employers for this, and so that's how they - they are going to fund some of this.

CHETRY: All right. Well, meantime, every day Christine brings us a number that's driving a story about your money, your "Romans Numeral." What is it this hour?

ROMANS: It's 2,563, and this is giving a nod to those people who are tired of spending borrowed money.

ROBERTS: Oh, that's the amount that we each owe in the stimulus package?

ROMANS: Yes, that's the stimulus cost for every man, woman and child in America when you take out $787 billion, you divide it by $307 million, that's what you get. You know, we have to borrow that money. We don't - we don't have that money. We're running big deficits. But people will tell you that you can't have 9.8 percent of your - of your labor market out of work and not suffer some really big economic consequences. So they're trying to blunt that pain and fix things and get - get moving from here.

ROBERTS: And based on what happened with the dollar yesterday, maybe some people not so interested in taking on debt (ph) anymore. Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning. Thanks so much.

So calorie counts at fast food restaurants - you see them around New York City. I remember waiting to catch a flight at La Guardia and took a look at the calorie count on a Whopper and said "Pass." But are - are people actually passing or do they care about it? We'll find out, coming up next.

Twenty-two and a half minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. If you live in New York City and have been through a drive-through in the past year, now you know why they call it a Whopper.

CHETRY: Right, because you get to see the calorie counts, right? How about those drinks that you order, those iced coffees that have all the flavorings in them, the whipped cream? Wow! They add up.

Well, first to start making chain restaurants post these calorie counts on their menus has been New York and others have followed, and it's forced some people to do a double take, but - but has it really stopped them from super-sizing?

Jason Carroll is taking a look at what impact seeing those numbers next to all the things you loved to eat has really had.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it hasn't had impact on you, because Kiran is always eating an Egg McMuffin, isn't she? Or something like that. So it hasn't...

ROBERTS: She doesn't see the calorie count because somebody else goes to get it.

CARROLL: That's - that's true. That's true. But it hasn't stopped people like Kiran, it hasn't stopped a lot of other folks either. You know, there are many cities out there now considering calorie-counting proposals as a way to fight obesity, but one study shows labels and laws alone may not be strong enough to break old eating habits.



CARROLL (voice-over): Some in the Big Apple aren't cutting down on fries and shakes. Their desire to eat fast food is stronger than their will to cut calories. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have high cholesterol and I've got to watch my health. I ordered, like, two four-piece nuggets and a cheeseburger.

CARROLL: New York City tried to cinch expanding waistlines, enacting a law last year forcing restaurant chains to publicly post calories on their menus. Researchers like Brian Elbel at New York University's School of Medicine say the law may not be enough.

BRIAN ELBEL, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: It's not going to be a slam dunk here.

CARROLL: A recent NYU/Yale University study found 54 percent of those questioned noticed the posted calorie count, 25 percent said as a result, they made healthier choices. But when researchers check receipts, most of the customers were ordering foods with more calories than the typical customer before the labeling law. In other words, what people read...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does make a difference when I'm looking at the calorie count.

CARROLL: ... and what they do, or in this case, eat...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But once in a blue moon, I have to have a Big Mac, and so the calorie count makes no difference to me whatsoever.

CARROLL: ... can be much different.

CARROLL (on camera): They say, yes, this label matters to me, but I'm still going to eat those French fries.

ELBEL: Yes, yes. Yes. So there's a very interesting disconnect there.

CARROLL (voice-over): What's causing the dietary disconnect? Researchers suspect it's a combination of taste, cost - fast foods can be less expensive than healthier options - and convenience. But the city's Health Department says because researchers were limited to some 1,000 customers in poorer neighborhoods, the results may not be accurate.

CATHY NONAS, DIRECTOR, NYC NUTRITION PROGRAM: So I think there's still a lot of information to be gleaned. This is a small, you know, study, and there are many more to come as the regulation proposals go through in other cities and other states.

CARROLL: Cities such as Seattle and Portland have also enacted calorie-posting laws. Philadelphia And Nashville are among more to follow. For some, it has made a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually compare the - the calorie count that they list and make my decision based on the calorie count. So it actually has changed my behavior dramatically.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CARROLL (on camera): OK. Well, the researcher we spoke to says label laws can be a good thing, but in order to get better results, he says cities may need to - may need to do a better job at educating people about making healthier choices and provide more healthy alternatives in urban areas.

You know, that's been an ongoing debate about providing healthier food choices in a lot of these urban environments, and, obviously, that's what the researchers are saying that, you know, maybe if there were healthier food choices and people were more educated about them, they'd switch and have a healthy sandwich as opposed to a Big Mac - not to pick on the folks at McDonald's, but, yes.

ROBERTS: You know, they - they say it's not just the fast-food outlets. You know, the typical restaurants, you know, the bodegas and everything like that, just a lot of junk food in there that's very easily accessible.

CARROLL: Right. And then, also about making more healthy food choices, you know, cost affordable, so that way when you go in there, you can buy a healthy meal and not have it run you up, you know, $20, $30.

ROBERTS: Yes. Bag of chips, $1.50 and turkey sandwich, $6. Which one are you going to pick?

CARROLL: Right. Exactly.

CHETRY: All right, Jason.

CARROLL: All right.

CHETRY: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Crossing the half hour now, checking our top stories this morning. For the first time since he took the oath of office, President Obama's poll numbers have gone up in a new Associated Press/GFK poll. Fifty-six percent now approve of the president's job performance compared to just 50 percent last month.

CHETRY: Well, they sidestepped the confirmation process, but now the senate wants to know more about President Obama's czars. By some counts there are more than 30 from a pay czar to a Great Lakes czar. Lawmakers from both parties question the appointments at a hearing yesterday. A panel of constitutional experts testified that they are legal as long as they don't overstep.

ROBERTS: Good news, you won't have to dig as deep into your pocket this winter to stay warm. The Department of Energy predicts that the average family will pay about 8 percent or $84 less in heating fuel costs. That's because there's been less demand for natural gas, propane, electricity and heating oil during the economic crisis.

Well, the war in Afghanistan was launched eight years ago today. At least 865 American troops have died in "Operation Enduring Freedom." And Washington is still looking for a way to win the war. So what is the best way forward?

Joining me now is author and consultant to the Pentagon, Linda Robinson. And Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. He was part of the group that advised General Stanley McChrystal to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Linda, let's start with you because both you and Fred were part of these 10 suggestions for Afghanistan op-ed project in "The New York Times" the other day. In your op-ed you wrote, quote, "Within a year, we must persuade large numbers of insurgents to lay down their arms or switch to the government's side."

You're suggesting that the key to success in Afghanistan is to try to turn the enemy to the allied side. And the question I have is, how do you do that?

LINDA ROBINSON, AUTHOR AND CONSULTANT, PENTAGON: Yes. Well, John, I really appreciate this. I think that we need to focus on the political aspects of counterinsurgency. You know, the adage is, a coin is 80 percent politics.

And this strategy of flipping the insurgency has worked in other places, most notably and recently in Iraq. You need to do that through a variety of mechanisms. And there will need to be targeted combat against the leadership of these primary factions. But what you really need is an outreach to the midlevel and the local level, bring them in, turn them into local self-defense forces that are tied into the local government. And these local government legitimate leaders need to be identified. They may be tribal leaders in some cases. So we need to work from the bottom up.

ROBERTS: You know, Fred, yesterday we had Andrew Exum on who was also part of the assessment team that helped write General McChrystal's report. He suggested that over the past eight years, there have been several attempts to try to turn the Taliban to the U.S. side or to the NATO side, or even the Afghan side, and they had failed.

What's your sense of that strategy?

FRED KAGAN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, I think Andrew is right. And I think that the essential precondition for bringing fighters in is to persuade them that their cause is lost. And until you have convinced the enemy that they have been defeated, your prospects for reconciling them are going to be low. But I think we need to understand, as we talk about reconciliation versus counterinsurgency, that these are not separate things. As general Petraeus always said during the surge -- and he was absolutely right -- the goal of counterinsurgency is to separate the reconcilable from the irreconcilables. That's a fundamental objective of any military operation and any political operation which go hand-in-hand in counterinsurgency.

So I think if you do this right, if you do the kind of insurgency right and make it clear that the enemy is going to be defeated, then your ability to reconcile with those people who are not strong supporters of the enemy goes up dramatically.

ROBERTS: Right. And, you know, just reflecting back on what you said at the beginning there, we had the secretary of Defense saying that the Taliban has got the momentum now. So it might increase this idea that Taliban fighters would be reluctant to lay down their arms if they think that they're winning.

Fred, you in your op-ed really promoted the idea of increasing troop levels, which is what Stanley McChrystal is doing. You said, quote, "America cannot achieve even the minimal objective of preventing al Qaeda from re-establishing safe havens in Afghanistan without a substantial increase in forces over the coming year."

Linda, what do you think of the idea of increasing troop levels?

ROBINSON: Well, I think you certainly need to use the troops in a different way, which is a key part of McChrystal's strategy. We've been very focused on the numbers. And as I say, I think the political strategies are what is really going to turn the tide here. That is not to say you don't need some plus-up in resources. But you need to -- most of these fighters are not hardcore Taliban. You need to get a message through to them that they are welcome to come in from the cold. And while they're good Muslims, they're not hardcore Taliban. So such measures like fatwa issue by moderate clerics.

They did an international conference in Jordan in '05. For example, that was very helpful in the Iraq war. And put out the message. There's no jihad in Afghanistan. And get these people to come in and tie them into local leaders. That's really how you're going to turn the tide. I think we do need some U.S. troops, but this is a very foreign culture, and we need to look at what we've been doing that's not been productive, where we've turned the people against us, and start using the locals. That's really the key here.

ROBERTS: All right.

Fred, let me pull another quote from your op-ed. Talking about this idea of troop increases. And you say, quote, "rejecting General McChrystal's request for more forces leaves two options. The United States withdraws and lets Afghanistan again collapse into chaos, or it keeps its military forces and civilians in harm's way while denying them the resources that they need to succeed. Neither is acceptable."

So Linda suggested that, you know, there may be a middle ground here, and there are some members of Congress that are thinking about this idea of 10,000 troops instead of 40,000 troops. You are committed to this idea of the full complement of forces that General McChrystal wants. There's no middle ground here?

KAGAN: There isn't a middle ground here because what General McChrystal and his staff have done is to take a hard look at what the requirements are for forces to accomplish the objectives, minimal objectives in theater, and they've come up with a number. I and Kim Kagan of the Institute for Study of War recently released a report coming up with a similar number using different measures. And the problem is, as the president and the leadership of the Democratic Party has said for so long, this effort has been badly underresourced.

One of the ways in which it's been most badly underresourced has been in our failure to provide adequate forces to do anything like a counterinsurgency strategy. If you don't readdress that failure, if you don't send the forces that are necessary, then success is extremely unlikely.

Secretary Gates said only yesterday that the enemy has the momentum here. And that's true. That's a problem. And it is a problem for reconciliation. But it's also a problem for General McChrystal and our forces. And in order to turn that around, we have to give them the resources that they need. The worst thing that we can do here is to repeat the errors of the Vietnam period, where we try to send incremental forces. We send a little bit at a time. And then we'll see. That's a very bad way to try to fight a war like this.

I think we need to commit the forces that are necessary up front. If it becomes possible to draw them down sooner, that will be wonderful.

The consultations continue at the White House today talking about what to do about Pakistan.

Fred Kagan, thanks so much. Also Linda Robinson who, by the way, is the author of "Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way out of Iraq" - Kiran.

CHETRY: All right.

Well, still ahead, we're going to be talking about whether people are here illegally and they are detained, and they're in these detention centers. It's a tough situation for some women and children. It's almost like being in jail. Yes, they are here illegally, but a federal plan to show a little bit more compassion is also now at the center of controversy. We'll explain.

Thirty-seven minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Thirty-nine minutes past the hour.

Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

It's a new plan that's likely to fire up the immigration debate. The Department of Homeland Security is now changing how illegal immigrants are housed. And the plan to show a little compassion is generating a lot of controversy.

Our Brian Todd has the story.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Don Hutto Detention Center in central Texas, it resembles a prison with cells, open toilets. But until recently, the people staying in it were women and children, illegal immigrants waiting to be deported. Two years ago, a mother talked about the effect it had on her children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They had many changes, psychological, I don't know. They would always say I don't want to be in jail. Why are we in jail? What did we do?

TODD: Last month, illegal immigrant families were cleared out of Hutto. It now houses only women detainees awaiting deportation. It's part of a sweeping reform of immigration detention being undertaken by the Department of Homeland Security. DHS is moving to house what it calls low-risk illegal immigrants, people without criminal records, people unlikely to flee in converted houses, nursing homes, hotels.

The idea is to not mix them with criminals, save money and get them better access to lawyers and medical care. How bad were the conditions of low-risk illegals?

VANITA GUPTA, ACLU: We've had over 90 detainee deaths since 2003. There's been a real crisis in the provision of medical care at these facilities.

TODD: I asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano a key question about flight risk.

(on camera): Will there be security at those places, armed guards, fences to keep them from leaving or to keep others from getting to them?

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: There will undoubtedly be security. The kind of security there will be will vary. But, again, the kinds of detainees that would go into that sort of a setting are going to be your lowest risk of fleeing. Why? Because they are here to adjudicate their ability to stay here.

TODD (voice-over): Another DHS official told me there will be security perimeters and personnel at these facilities. That doesn't satisfy one advocate for tougher immigration standards.

MICHAEL CUTLER, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: They didn't discuss whether or not the people that would be doing it would be federal law enforcement officials or private guards and so forth. Within that vagueness comes much too much wiggle room.

TODD: Michael Cutler says in the past when some of these operations have been contracted out to private companies, they have been vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement.

(on camera): Secretary Napolitano told me they will have to hire some private contractors, but they will also make sure that those contractors meet some very rigorous standards, and they will also double the personnel assigned to oversee these facilities.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHETRY: Brian Todd, thanks.

ROBERTS: So Rob Marciano is out on the road again for us today. And remember the great white sharks spotted off of Cape Cod, a shark attack off the coast of North Carolina as well.

What's going on? Why all the sharks so close to the East Coast?

Rob is checking in in a new shark-monitoring program, trying to answer those questions. And he's going to join us live from Virginia Beach in just a minute.

Forty-three minutes now after the hour.


CHETRY: Forty-six minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Our Rob Marciano likes to go on road trips. He likes to report live for us here on AMERICAN MORNING from various spots all around the country.

ROBERTS: Yes, everything from tractor pulls to shark research. If you went to the Eastern shore this summer, you might have noticed a few more things in the water than normal. How about a couple of huge, great white sharks off of Cape Cod. And there was what's believe to be a fatal shark attack off of the outer banks of North Carolina recently. This morning Rob's in Virginia Beach where researchers are trying to answer the question why so many sharks this year? Rob, what do they think is going on?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a number of reasons why. And they all boil down to be pretty simple. You know, those great whites showing up on Cape Cod certainly was an eyebrow- raising event. So we decided to link up with a research team. This one, they've been doing the longest, continuous shark-monitoring program in the country. They don't usually come across great whites, but yesterday, we certainly had an interesting trip.


MARCIANO (voice-over): Sunrise in October along the mid-Atlantic coast. It's the last trip to find sharks before the winter storms set in. The ocean's most feared predators are migrating to deeper waters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's our depth here, Duren (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are at about 58 feet.

MARCIANO: Virginia Institute of Marine scientists are fishing for answers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we're trying to do is understand changes in abundance of sharks and also try to understand if there's any differences in their behavior. MARCIANO: And recently the harks seem to be acting differently. Five great white sharks spotted off the coast of Cape Cod. Tracy Sutton thinks he knows why.

TRACY SUTTON (ph): It might be a reflection of changes in their prey. So if seal abundance increases, then the white sharks will generally follow their prey.

MARCIANO: Unequally aggressive bull shark apparently killed a man while he was swimming off the North Carolina coast less than a month ago. But Sutton's job is to find out where the sharks go, how many, and why. So his team goes fishing. Bait and hooks.


MARCIANO: And long lining. The baited hooks hang for four hours. Then they reel them in. Not all sharks are big. Some aren't even sharks. Check out this huge stingray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab that tail.

MARCIANO: The sharks get measured, tagged and immediately released so they can be tracked in the future.

(on camera): This is the seventh animal they've pulled out of the water. Out of seven animals, that's only the second repeat species, a huge variety. They are even impressed by that. I guess they're saying because it's fall, this is seemingly the highway for migrating fish.

Now, they think they got a shark at the end of this line. Let's check it out.

(voice-over): This one is the largest catch of the day. Sutton wrestles the dusky to the deck, eventually subduing the animal so it can be recorded and released. Soon after, another shark is caught, pinned on the deck. Its razor-like teeth reminding us these predators are dangerous, near the top of the ocean's food chain. But Sutton puts things in perspective.

(on camera): And people shouldn't be scared of the sharks?

SUTTON: No, no, no. We tend to encroach on their environment. So we're a much bigger threat to sharks than they are to us.


MARCIANO (on camera): In the end, it's really about following their prey. And they think that there was more seals along the Cape Cod coastline. You know, you increase the number of people, you increase the number of people that live near the water, increase the number of people that go into the water, you increase the chance encounters of people coming in contact with sharks.

And every once in a while, you are going to get an attack, but there are usually mistakes. Here in the U.S. because of the increased population near the shoreline, last year we led the world again with 41 unprovoked attacks. I should mention we were going to go out into deeper waters but the winds kicked up.

The seas kicked up. It's a pretty breezy day. There's a storm coming into the Northeast, 50-mile-an-hour-plus winds are possible and there will be delays at the airports. These sharks, John and Kiran, either way you slice it, are certainly remarkable animals.

CHETRY: It is. And what do we hoping to learn from tagging all of them?

MARCIANO: They're monitoring the number of fish. And then they report back to the fisheries. And then the fisheries will determine, okay, we'll open fishing again for a certain species of shark because they're starting to see increasing numbers.

If they see decreasing numbers, they shut down that fishery. So they play a vital role into what kind of fish are fished out there in the oceans. And they were encouraged by at least the duskies that they found yesterday, that that is a diminishing population of shark. And they saw a little bit more than they usually do out there yesterday. So that was the reason for optimism.

ROBERTS: All right. Rob, fascinating story you got this one up. I'd love to trade spots with you. Rob Marciano this morning in Virginia Beach. Rob, thanks so much.

So they started vaccines against H1N1 swine flu, earlier this week. A lot of people have questions and there's a lot of missing information out there as well. We're calling on our Dr. Sanjay Gupta who has personally experienced with the swine flu. He caught it in Afghanistan to clear up some H1N1 myths that are out there. So stay tuned for that. Nine minutes now to the top of the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's flu season and there are a lot of myths circulating out there about both the H1N1 virus and the H1N1 vaccine.

CHETRY: Yeah. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is here to help answer some questions and you also know first handy because you got H1N1 swine flu when you were in Afghanistan. Good Morning, Sanjay. Good to see you.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Yes. Good to see you, too.

CHETRY: Let's get to some of the questions the people have. Our first one comes from twitter. I've realized it's entirely possible that I have swine flu or H1N1, but I don't feel like bothering to make an appointment and get tested. Now, if people have the flu or they're feeling bad and they think it's the flu, do they need to go to their doctors and get it confirmed that it's swine flu?

GUPTA: So a couple of questions, first of all, should they go to their doctors? Keep in mind, for the vast majority of people who are watching right now, if they get this H1N1 virus, they're going to have a few miserable days and really not need any medical attention whatsoever. There are some high-risk groups which we've talked about in the past.

Now, you know, a good rule of thumb is that if you think you would have gone to the doctor a few years ago for your flu-like symptoms, they were that bad, then you can go this year as well. But don't treat this differently simply because it has this different name of H1N1. That's one thing.

As far as getting tested, this is really interesting. You know, when this first started happening back in the spring, they were trying to figure out where is H1N1? Where is it starting to spread? Where is the numbers the highest? They were doing a lot of testing. Now we know this virus is pretty much everywhere. So most hospitals and most doctors aren't going to test it because they don't need that information anymore.

And they're probably not going to do anything differently. And final rule of thumb, for this particular tweeter, if they believe that they have the H1N1, if you are without a fever for 24 hours, without the assistance of any medications, you're likely not that contagious anymore and CDC says you can go back to work or go back to school if you're a child.

ROBERTS: Sanjay, we got another question here comes from the "a.m. fix mail bag." Jean asks, I am 70 years old. Should I get a seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 shot? Would Jean need both?

GUPTA: She would likely need both, but here's the interesting thing, and this is one of the most common questions we get. We've always talked about the elderly people being more at risk for seasonal flu. The flu that we talk about in years past. So she can get that flu shot as soon as it becomes available.

But with regard to H1N1, there is sort of this process of who's going to get it first. And she is actually going to be sort of at the end of the line. For a couple of reasons, she's not going to be considered high risk. Young children and pregnant women are considered the most high risk. After that, it's going to be people between the ages of 25 and 64.

And then finally, Jean, and here's why. It is believed that elderly people probably have a little bit of immunity to the H1N1 because they've lived longer. This virus was probably around decades ago and their bodies may have seen it before. So they're a little bit more protected against H1N1 and less so against the seasonal flu. Seasonal flu vaccine first, now H1N1, you're probably sort of at the end of the line, so several weeks from now.

ROBERTS: Now there you go. Even the immune system has the wisdom of years. Dr. Sanjay Gupta for us this morning. Doc, thanks so much for clearing that up.

CHETRY: We are going to be checking back in with Sanjay in a little while. We are going to be also talking with Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. Sanjay is going to join in to ask some questions as well because there are still a lot of people on the fence about whether or not they're going to get vaccinated, whether they're going to get their children vaccinated.

And also it's interesting on the racial breakdown are some population groups more likely to get it but less likely to get vaccinated against it? A lot of questions that we're going to be talking with the Secretary Of Health and Human Services in just a moment. Fifty-six minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. As Congress remains tied up in the health care debate, there's a food safety bill on the shelf that could keep a lot of people from getting sick in the first place. And now there are new worries about potentially dangerous foods that you may bring to lunch or put on the table every night. Our Kitty Pilgrim runs down the top ten for us this morning.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These foods can be dangerous to your health. The consumer group claims, leafy greens, tomatoes, tunas, sprouts, berries, eggs, potatoes, they're all on the list to top 10 foods that have caused the most illness according to an analysis of reports for the Centers for Disease Control over 16 years.

Also included on the list, ice cream, oysters and cheese. The list was compiled by the Center for Science and the Public Interest. A self-described watchdog group that says the food and drug administration is absolutely handicapped when it comes to food safety.

SARAH KLEIN, CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: They have to ask a food producer to recall that product from the market. They don't have the authority to go in and take that product off shelves or go in and shut that factory down.

PILGRIM: Food Safety Legislation has been passed in the house with bipartisan support but is awaiting action in the senate. Some FDA inspections of food producers now take place only once a decade. Consumer groups want it up it to once a year. They want growers of leafy greens, the highest risk product to regularly test irrigation water.

But it is not a requirement now. And they want food companies required to alert the public to a contamination problem immediately. It's not just these ten products. The FDA also oversees processed foods.

JEAN HALLORAN, CONSUMERS UNION: We had a problem last year with peanut butter where they performed tests, found salmonella in the peanut butter, and they shipped it anyway. They should have to at least tell FDA if they find something dangerous in their product.

PILGRIM: The FDA recently opened a self-reporting Web site for companies to notify them of dangerous products. Kitty pilgrim, CNN.