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Here's to a Richer 2010; Off to the Army; Top Five Wingnuts of the Year; Can Terrorist be Rehabilitated?; Israel's Ben Gurion Airport Profiles Airline Passengers
Aired January 1, 2010 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Our Jeanne Meserve will break it all down for us.
JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, we're learning more about that deadly bombing in Afghanistan. Seven CIA officers were killed. Two were contractors from the private security firm once known as Blackwater. We'll get a live report from Atia Abawi in Afghanistan.
KAYE: And the crossroads of the world celebrates the New Year. Hundreds of thousands of revelers turned out in Times Square to ring in 2010, as we're calling it. Now that the party is over, here comes the hard part, the cleanup.
JOHNS: But first, the latest on a suspected plot to bomb a U.S. airplane on Christmas day. U.S. intelligence officials are looking at the role of radical Muslim cleric, Anwar al Awlaki. The same cleric also linked to suspected Ft. Hood shooter. Investigators say he had a direct communication with respected bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in the days leading up to the attempted terror attack.
Also, the State Department issuing new orders to U.S. embassies around the world under the new director. From now on special cables to Washington about suspicious people must also indicate whether that person has a U.S. Visa like the suspect in this case did.
And President Obama will meet next week with officials involved in the review of what went wrong. The president has ordered a review of intelligence and travel procedures, aiming to protect against future terror attacks.
KAYE: First, to the suspected links between the alleged bomber and a radical cleric in Yemen. Investigators are now digging into contacts they say Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had with that cleric, Anwar al Awlaki. He's the same man involved with the suspect in Ft. Hood.
Here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Randi and Joe, a U.S. counterterrorism official says there are indications there was direct contact between the alleged Detroit bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and the radical Yemen-based imam, Anwar al Awlaki, but officials are still evaluating if al Awlaki had a direct role in the Detroit plot. The official could not comment on the nature of the communications or contacts between the men, how frequent they were, or when they occurred. Al Awlaki exchanged e-mails with the accused Ft. Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan. Even before that, the imam was the focus of intelligence gathering, as his suspected role in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula evolved to operational.
A former counterterrorism official says the connection to al Awlaki makes it more surprising that the intelligence community didn't put the pieces of the Detroit plot together sooner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: It should have been done as part of the investigation into the Ft. Hood shootings to assure themselves that they understood exactly what communications al Awlaki had with Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter. In the course of that, I would have given increased scrutiny to al Awlaki's communications and any indication in his communications of a threat to the U.S. for terrorism given his background.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: Since the attempt to bomb Northwest flight 253, the intelligence community has learned that Abdulmutallab expressed an interest in joining al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula at least several months ago. The official says he doesn't know what role he wanted to play, but the events of Christmas day would appear to speak for themselves.
Randi and Joe, back to you.
KAYE: Coming up next hour, we'll talk live Sugarsan Raghavan, foreign correspondent for the "Washington Post." He's on the ground in Yemen, what could be the next front on the war on terror? We'll get the latest on conditions there from him at 7:12 eastern.
JOHNS: U.S. intelligence officials are vowing to retaliate after the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack in Afghanistan that left seven CIA officers dead. Wednesday's target was a crucial CIA post described as a hub of activity.
This morning, we're tapping into the global resources of CNN, our Atia Abawi is live in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Atia, what's the latest?
ATIA ABAWI, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, right now we do know it was seven people, seven Americans who were killed in that suicide attack, all working for the CIA. Six also injured. This happened Wednesday night when a suicide bomber entered FOB Chapman, that's Forward Operating Base Chapman, in Khost, Afghanistan, the eastern part of Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan. This man was able to enter the gymnasium on the base where he then detonated his vest.
The Taliban did claim responsibility on their web site, stating that it was actually an Afghan soldier who made his way on to the base. and they also stated that this will not be a one-time tactic, that they will try to use this tactic more and more, trying to get the soldiers, the Afghan soldiers, the Afghan security forces here, to switch allegiances.
A day before this attack in western Afghanistan, a completely different part of the country, another Afghan soldier shot and killed an American soldier -- Joe?
JOHNS: So, Atia, what we're talking about here is stealth. This person was able to gain entry to the base by claiming to be someone he was not. Is that right?
ABAWI: Well, right now we're still trying to figure that out. If he was actually an Afghan soldier or if he was part of a Taliban member who was wearing the uniform of the Afghan national Army. But what's interesting here is that the Taliban say that they will continue to infiltrate the Afghan security forces.
And I have to tell you, just two weeks ago, I went out with these ANA recruiters here in Kabul, and I'll tell you right now, it looked more to be about quantity rather than quality. So it will be quite easy, to say the least, for the insurgent groups and the Taliban to infiltrate such forces. Because right now the Afghans, they're just trying to build up their levels.
This is a push from President Barack Obama, this is a push from President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, and the NATO-led can' countries involved in the mission. The Taliban say they will take advantage of that -- Joe?
JOHNS: And we're also hearing about some type of a year-end message that was sent out by the Taliban for 2009. What do they have to say in that?
ABAWI: Well, right now we're seeing a very confident Taliban. The Taliban have been confident for the past eight years, but this past year, 2009, their confidence has grown a lot.
They had a year-end review in 2009 and a look-ahead for 2010. They're calling 2009 a very successful year, when it comes to their politics, when it comes to their military operations on the front line, as well as their public relations with the media. As for 2010, they're saying that they're going to launch major military operations come April. And that is the springtime, and obviously the beginning of what's known as the fighting season here in Afghanistan -- Joe?
JOHNS: Atia Abawi in Kabul, thanks for that reporting.
KAYE: And also new this morning, President Obama is wishing the nation a happy new year. The president posted a message to the country on the White House web site, and in it, he notes that 2009 was a difficult year for many Americans. But he also wrote that, quote, "Brighter days are ahead of us." JOHNS: On this, the first day of the New Year, gay marriage becomes the law of the state of New Hampshire and 15 couples braved the cold weather to exchange vows at midnight at the state house in Concord. New Hampshire is the fifth state to legalize same-sex marriages.
KAYE: At least half a million people braved the cold, the rain, the snow, all just to welcome in 2010 in New York's Times Square. With the party now over, New York's Department of Sanitation moving in to clean up all that confetti.
JOHNS: Yes, that.
KAYE: That's a large crowd.
JOHNS: Quite a challenge too. It was a question of whether it was a million people or half a million people. I figure with all that rain, probably closer to -- half a million.
KAYE: I think it was fewer people than last year for sure.
JOHNS: You bet.
It is now seven minutes after the hour. Let's get a quick check of the weather headlines.
Reynolds Wolf in the Extreme Weather Center.
JOHNS: So true about travel. I couldn't decide whether to take the train or the plane yesterday.
KAYE: What did you go with?
JOHNS: I went the train, because you absolutely, positively will get there. You can sit on the tarmac on the plane.
KAYE: All right.
We're continuing to follow the apparent missed signals in the Christmas day attempted bombing. Critical information apparently left out, viper cables, about Umar Farouk Abdultallab. Now the State Department making changes.
KAYE: Well, all is quiet maybe now on New Year's Day, but we're taking a look at New Year's celebrations from around the world. These are pictures from Hong Kong, a very spectacular fireworks display there.
JOHNS: It is pretty amazing.
It is 12 minutes after the hour. I'm Joe Johns, in for John Roberts. Welcome. KAYE: Is it OK?
JOHNS: Yes, you can go ahead.
KAYE: I'm Randi Kaye in for Kiran Chetry. Sorry.
JOHNS: That's OK. Welcome back to the most news in the morning, and here's a look at what's making news this morning.
KAYE: Millions of football fans will not be gameless today it turns out. FOX's parent company, News Corps, has decided not to pull the plug on its programming despite an ongoing fall out with Time Warner cable. Their contract expired at midnight last night. News Corps is demanding they pay more for the programming. Time Warner cable is not part of our parent company, having been spun off just last year.
JOHNS: Fire investigators are searching a burned out hotel in downtown Detroit this morning. Police investigators say the three- alarm fire killed three people at the Huntington Hotel last night. Several people were injured, including two firefighters. Conditions grew very dangerous when a ceiling collapsed.
KAYE: Iran's opposition leader showing defiance. Mir Hossein Mousavi calling for an end to the bloody government crackdown. Mousavi also saying he is willing to die for his cause. This comes amid the worst unrest the country has seen since the disputed presidential election in June.
JOHNS: The biggest question after last week's attempted airline bombing on Christmas day, why, after eight years, can terrorists still fly?
KAYE: Now the feds are closing another major gap in security that let the suspect slip by.
Jill Dougherty has details from Washington.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN NEWS FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Randi, Joe, it's been almost a week since the attempted bombing, and today we learned of the first major step the State Department is taking after analyzing how it handled its part in all of this, shutting down a major loophole that, if it had been closed before, might have grounded the suspect.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): One key fact about the Christmas day bombing suspect is that he had a U.S. visa, allowing him to board a plane to America at any time. But that crucial detail was never included in a cable about him sent to the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington.
Now CNN has learned the State department is ordering American embassies around the world to change their procedures. Any time embassies send so-called, Visas VIPER cables with information about suspicious individuals, they must answer the question, does that person have a U.S. visa. Starting now, that will be required.
Information that the bombing suspect did have a visa was available in government databases, but someone would have to be worried enough about him to search for it.
In another attempt to shut down loopholes, the State department is considering automatic notification of airlines when someone's U.S. visa has been revoked. Right now, department staff may or may not notify an airline of that fact.
Congress, too, is clamoring for quicker trigger to deny more visas and put more people on watch lists. Current standards require reasonable suspicion based on fact that someone is or is suspected to be engaged in terrorism-related conduct. Mere guesses or hunches are not enough.
Senator Dianne Feinstein says that is too restrictive and should be changed. She wants to include anyone who is reasonably believed to be affiliated with, part of, or acting on behalf of a terrorist organization.
DOUGHERTY: So, under rules proposed by Senator Feinstein, could the suspect have been put on a no-fly list? In theory, yes, because he was allegedly affiliated with extremist organizations. But that in itself raises issues of how to balance privacy with the need for security, and we'll be hearing a lot more about that when the Senate begins hearings on this attempted terror attack beginning January 21st - Randi, Joe.
JOHNS: Coming up, we're going to talk a little bit about your money. A lot of New Year's resolutions will be about money. Some tips on how to make them stick. Stephanie Elam is "Minding Your Business" next.
JOHNS: Chicago, Illinois. I've spent a couple New Year's days there, a couple New Year's Eves, too.
There's the fireworks. Beautiful city for this time of year. Also, all I can remember is that cold wind whipping up off of that lake. Welcome to winter.
KAYE: That (INAUDIBLE) you up real quick. Yes.
JOHNS: Welcome to a new decade. Yes, that's for sure.
KAYE: Taking a look at the time for you right now, it's about 6:19, and that means time for "Minding Your Business." But first, a look at some of today's business headlines. JOHNS: New fallout for Tiger Woods, AT&T is cutting ties with the golfer. No word on how much that's worth. AT&T is the second major sponsor to drop him. Accenture dropped Woods earlier this month.
KAYE: If you were toasting the New Year last night, you may want to double check if you locked your car last night - even if you remember where you left it, of course. It turns out most cars are stolen or broken into on New Year's Day, and that's according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
JOHNS: Many people say they're going to get in shape in the New Year.
KAYE: Yes, but this year the most popular resolution may have more to do with fiscal fitness. Stephanie Elam is "Minding Your Business" this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A happy New Year, everybody.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 2010 - a clean slate. That means it's time to start living up to those New Year's resolutions and for many, it's all about the money.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I plan to not spend so much money on all the shoes that I usually spend money on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would just continue just to make smart decisions financially.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Try to put a little more money away, absolutely.
ELAM: Making resolutions is nothing new, but the ones related to money seem to work out the best in this economy.
According to a TD Ameritrade survey, 75 percent of Americans will make at least one New Year's resolution focused on finances this year. That's up from 60 percent in 2009.
GREG MCBRIDE, SR. FINANCIAL ANALYST, BANKRATE.COM: Statistics do show that women tend to be better in terms of - specifically with investments.
ELAM: In fact, 66 percent of women and 59 percent of men plan to save more money this year.
Minorities also have finances in focus. Thirty-eight percent of Hispanics and 43 percent of blacks say they plan to improve their investment activity.
For many Americans, making financial resolutions may be more of a necessity than a desire, especially with unemployment at 10 percent.
MCBRIDE: That right there is motivation enough to get your financial house in order.
ELAM: But the trick is getting those resolutions to stick.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was trying to, like, save a certain amount of money for the year, and it didn't work out. I would just put the money in the bank and then sooner or later I'd just go back - back in and take it out.
ELAM (on camera): You've got your resolutions here - they start around here, and then by about here, I think people tended to have forgotten about them. So what is the - what are the qualities of - of resolution that actually sticks and last longer than just midway through January?
MCBRIDE: The best way to do it is put some of these resolutions on autopilot. Have money directly deposited from your paycheck or your checking account into a dedicated savings account. You can increase or even initiate 401(k) contributions or even set up automatic monthly contributions from your checking account into an IRA.
ELAM (voice-over): For some, the resolution is obvious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have any money at all, so get more money?
ELAM: Everybody's got to start somewhere.
Stephanie Elam, CNN, New York.
KAYE: And coming up, men and women putting their lives on the line in the military. We look at what life is like for them from the moment they leave home.
Jason Carroll has a series on "A Soldier's Story."
KAYE: Good morning again, and happy New Year.
Last-minute preparations under way for the Rose Parade today. This is the 121st parade and the theme is "A Cut Above the Rest." And this year's Grand Marshal, Captain Chesley Sullenberger. Sully, the man who pulled off the miracle in the Hudson, hard to believe, almost one year ago.
JOHNS: Yes. I'm looking forward to the game. First time Ohio State has been in the Rose Bowl since, like, the late 1990s.
KAYE: Is there a game?
JOHNS: Yes. I'm a big Ohio State - I'm from Ohio, right?
KAYE: I like the parade. JOHNS: It is 25 minutes after the hour, and that means it's time for an "AM Original."
KAYE: And all this year we'll be bringing you "A Soldier's Story." Our Jason Carroll is following army recruits from their final days as civilians to their first days on the frontlines.
JOHNS: It took a lot to make this happen. Families allowed him into their homes during a very emotional time, and the Pentagon even broke down a few walls. And Jason joins us now to reintroduce us to Will McLain.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good old Will. He's been a good sport about all of this.
You know, with so many men and women putting their lives on the line in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, we set out to chronicle what the military experience is like for them from the moment they leave home through deployment, and we begin with Will McLain.
WILL MCLAIN, US ARMY RECRUIT: (INAUDIBLE) the last party.
CARROLL (voice-over): This is Will McLain, 18 years old and a week away from taking the oath to enlist in the army.
W. MCLAIN: More people are here.
CARROLL: We gave him a video camera to show us how he was passing the time. There were lots of parties.
W. MCLAIN: It was always funny because even when I'm partying with my friends or something like that, they would kind of throw those army jokes in.
CARROLL (on camera): How have your friends taken the news so far? What have they been...?
W. MCLAIN: They think I'm doing a good thing. Like they figure it's better than just rotting away in Rosamond, you know?
CARROLL (voice-over): Rosamond, California - Will's his hometown. It's in the Western Mojave Desert, a large stretch of land with a small population, about 14,000. A place where dirt bike riding is surpassed only by motorcycle racing in popularity. A place Will McLain can't wait to leave.
W. MCLAIN: I'm kind of glad to be getting out of this little town, you know? Just because it gets old. But there's a lot of things you will miss, you know?
CARROLL: We met up with Will his last day at home before he left to join the army, a day his 12-year-old brother didn't want to leave his side. W. MCLAIN: I think it kind of hits him more, like, that I'm leaving, like this last week I think it's truly hit them (ph) and my family.
CARROLL: Like a lot of high school football players, McLain had dreams of pursuing a career in the pros.
W. MCLAIN: All I could think about, you know, I'm going to go - go pro, no matter what, you know? And then pretty much, I guess, junior year I realized there were a lot of bigger fishes in the sea.
CARROLL (on camera): Yes.
CARROLL (voice-over): McLain says early this year he began to really think about advice from his uncle.
W. MCLAIN: I know my uncle always (INAUDIBLE), you know, you need to have a backup plan, you need to have a backup plan. And that's why I figured the military would be the best bet.
CARROLL: Will had grown up with guns and always liked the idea of joining the military, so he tried to convince his parents to allow him to enlist before his 18th birthday in May.
W. MCLAIN: They didn't want to sign the papers and me to come back a year later, like, I hate you! You signed the papers! So this way they made me wait till I was 18 so that, you know, the blame is fully on me. So - because the way my mom worded it, she doesn't want to be responsible for sending me to Afghanistan.
CARROLL: And now, with time running out at home, reality is setting in.
W. MCLAIN: I'd say about a week ago it truly hit me. That's when I forgot how to sleep and stuff. So I've just pretty much laid there and think about, like oh, man, you know, I'm leaving in a week. I'm leaving in three days. I'm leaving in a day.
CARROLL: For Will's parents - Bill, a construction worker, and his wife Lori, Will's future now taking shape.
BILL MCLAIN, WILL'S FATHER: We'll worry (ph) that he'll come home in one piece. I mean, he might be 5,000 miles away but he knows there's people who care about him.
CARROLL: The next morning came the goodbyes...
B. MCLAIN: And there it went (ph).
CARROLL: ... and one last word of advice.
B. MCLAIN: Head down, brain on, OK?
W. MCLAIN: (INAUDIBLE).
B. MCLAIN: She wasn't looking forward to this moment. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CARROLL: Yes. That was an emotional moment for her.
Next, what we're going to so is we're going to show you what happens as Will the civilian becomes Private Will. He'll be heading to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. That's where he'll be completing his nine weeks of basic training. We're going to show you all of that coming up in our next hour.
He's got a lot of hurdles to overcome, as you will soon see.
KAYE: And you've been in touch with him. I mean, how's - how's he doing?
CARROLL: Absolutely. Actually, he's on a bit of a break right now - I'm going to jump ahead just a little bit. He's - he's on a bit of a break right now. And he's holding up. In fact, he's blogging about it. You can check that out on CNN AM Fix. He's holding - holding up pretty well.
What you'll see very soon, again, in the next hour, what he has to go through, through basic and some of the personal things he's got to overcome as well.
JOHNS: This is really up close and personal, isn't it? It looked like you're on the plane with him as they were taking off? Every step of the way?
CARROLL: And that's a very good point, Joe. Because what we're going to be doing is, we're going to be following these guys through every single step of the way. Three recruits in total. From the beginnings in their hometowns, through the training, through the deployment, to see how they develop.
KAYE: All right.
JOHNS: Thanks so much.
KAYE: Thanks, Jason.
CARROLL: You bet.
KAYE: It is 6:30, and that means time for this morning's top stories. Investigators are learning more about the suspect in the failed Christmas Day attack. A security official tells CNN Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab appears to have reached out to a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen. That's the same man the suspected Fort Hood shooter apparently reached out to.
JOHNS: In a last-minute move, federal authorities extended permission for hundreds of pilots to carry firearms on commercial airliners. At midnight last night, the pilots who had not undergone a required training program would have lost their certifications, but the transportation security administration says certifications were extended for six months in light of recent events.
KAYE: And U.S. intelligence officials are vowing revenge after one of the worst attacks in CIA history. The Taliban says it was behind a suicide bomber going off at a U.S. outpost in Afghanistan's Khost Province, Wednesday. Seven CIA officers were killed. It is still not known how the bomber got past security.
JOHNS: Every week independent analyst John Avlon joins us to name the Wingnuts of the Week. Wingnuts, according to John, are professional partisans and unhinged activists.
KAYE: John even has a book coming out called "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." And he's put together a list of last year's 2009 worst offenders. He joined Kiran Chetry to countdown the top five, including the biggest wingnut of the year.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Let's just get right to the list. We did this little countdown, and we're going to start with number five. So who made the cut for wingnut -- top five wingnut?
JOHN AVLON, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ANALYST: Top five wingnut, big threshold, we have Ed Schultz, sort of aiming to be the liberal Rush Limbaugh this year. And here's one comment he made this fall regarding health care that really stood out.
Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED SCHULTZ, HOST, THE ED SHOW: The Republicans lie. They want to see you dead. They'd rather make money off your dead corpse. They kind of like it when that woman has cancer, and they don't have anything for her. That's how the insurance companies make money -- by denying the coverage. My God, Democrats, what's wrong with you? You can't deal with these people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: Wow. That's wingnut stuff.
CHETRY: It sure is. And the health care debate seemed to really brought out the worst in people, I guess you could say. Your number four pick for wingnut was former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, when she posted on Facebook the whole talk about death panels that bureaucrats would then decide whether people were worthy of health care calling the system downright evil.
AVLON: Yes. Boy, that ended up hijacking the health care debate this summer. And for that she won PolitiFact's Lie of the Year Award as well. So Sarah Palin, death panel Facebook post coming in at number four for wingnut of the year.
CHETRY: All right. Let's get to number three right now. And this is another controversial talk show host at number three. Tell me more.
AVLON: OK. Well, this is sort of have been the year of Glenn Beck in many ways. The man has made a big splash. He's got a cottage industry going and a lot of devoted fans, but he caught a lot of heat this year for calling the president racist.
Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, HOST, GLENN BECK: I'm saying he has a problem. He has a -- this guy is -- I believe, a racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: And the "ist" were big for Glenn Beck this year. He also talked about we're heading towards fascism, communism, socialism and talk about that America might not survive Barack Obama. It's been a big year for Glenn Beck, numero three.
CHETRY: And number two, interestingly enough, is actually a sitting lawmaker.
AVLON: It is. And it's a symptoms of the ways, sometimes crazy ends up affecting both sides of the aisle. Florida Congressman Alan Grayson tried to make a name for himself as a liberal bomb thrower. Let's listen to one of his many comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this. Die quickly. That's right. The Republicans want you to die quickly, if you get sick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: And this was kind of mild. Grayson actually won a terror in one month, making around six wingnutty statements and end up of his -- one of the Florida residents tried to criticize him with a Web site called My Congressman is Nuts. He wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking that she be put in prison for five years. So sometimes people who throw bombs have kind of thick skin.
CHETRY: Wow. And you can't make this stuff up. How about that. All right, so who then your top number one? Your biggest wingnut of the year?
AVLON: For sheer tons of wingnuttery, we're going to give the award to Michelle Bachman. Here's just one of the many, many comments she's made this year.
"When freedom is tried, the people rejoice. But when tyranny is enforced upon the people as Barack Obama is doing, the people suffer and mourn."
There you have the whole thing tied up, one of many comments she's made, but it's been this drum beat of tyranny. Some Republicans this year on the wingnuts fear -- seem to be confusing, losing an election with living under tyranny. And it's ended up creating a whole serious of conspiracy theories. Michelle Bachman has had an unerring capacity to keep articulating.
Michelle Bachman, number one.
CHETRY: There you go. Wingnuts of the Year.
Now moving forward to 2010. I mean, we had very contentious issues. I mean, the bailout. You know, the stimulus plan. And, of course, the health care debate, which a lot of your wingnuts made comments about the health care debate, and we're shaping it in various ways.
As we look at 2010, do you think it's going to be -- you're going to see some of the partisan politics recede, or do you think it's going to get ratcheted up again?
AVLON: You know, it's going to get ratchet up. Here's the scary thing. The first year always of the new administration is usually the time where everybody comes together. Midterm election is where things get ugly. So if that's any indication, we haven't seen anything yet, folks.
CHETRY: All right. You got a lot of work ahead of you then for the next year. Happy New Year, John.
AVLON: Happy New Year.
CHETRY: Thanks so much.
JOHNS: No shortages of wingnuts in Washington.
KAYE: Well, I'm sure there won't be a shortage this year either.
JOHNS: All right. Coming up, we're going to take a look at that controversial terrorist rehabilitation program.
Does it really work?
JOHNS: New Year's Eve in Moscow. Look at those fireworks. That's a beautiful shot there, isn't it? The magic of television. And you know what? It's cold there, too. This morning, I'm just looking on whether on the ground it says it's 13 degrees right now.
KAYE: Certainly, a new year.
JOHNS: It's, you know -- New York City is a lot warmer right now, I'd say.
KAYE: I'm sure it is.
Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It is 6:39.
The attempted bombing of flight 253 is complicating President Obama's plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Lawmakers on both sides are calling on the administration to rethink its approach.
JOHNS: Nearly half the remaining detainees in Guantanamo are from Yemen. And there's evidence a Yemeni al Qaeda group planned last week's failed attack. Two of that group's self-proclaimed leaders reportedly were released from Guantanamo in 2007. Brian Todd has more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Randi and Joe.
U.S. officials say at least one man released from Guantanamo Bay is being investigated for possible links to the airline plot. It's not clear at the moment whether he was directly link to the incident. This draws attention not only to the release of prisoners from Guantanamo, but also to their treatment at another facility where many of them go afterward.
TODD (voice-over): Said Ali Shari, he did hard time at Guantanamo Bay. Released in 2007, he's now being looked at for possible links to the failed bombing attempt aboard Northwest Flight 253. That's according to U.S. officials who caution, Shari may not be linked directly to the Christmas Day incident. But he has touted himself as a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has claimed responsibility for the airline attempt.
He's also been through the Mohammed bin Nayef Center for counseling and care. Named after Saudi Arabia's interior minister, it's a rehab center near Riyadh for captured militants who the Saudi government tries to turn around.
KEN BALLEN, TERROR FREE TOMORROW: They give them a full presentation in Islam. They give them art therapy. They give them psychological counseling. They give them money afterwards. They help them find a wife. They help them find a job.
TODD: Ken Ballen of the research group Terror Free Tomorrow has spent weeks at the center and interviewed several inmates, including some who he says knew Said Ali Shari. To critics who say giving accused terrorists art therapy is a joke, Ballen and other experts respond...
FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: I would argue that on the whole, it has been relatively effective, relatively effective vis- a-vis the politically radicalized activist, if not vis-a-vis the hard- core former al Qaeda members.
TODD: It's those hard-core militants, experts say, who expose the weakness of this rehab program. It can't turn everyone, and apparently didn't turn Said Ali Shari.
(on camera): Did he con his way through the program?
BALLEN: He absolutely conned his way through the program. Here you see this is the religion class where people -- where the sheikh here is teaching them how to be better Muslims and what's a good understanding of Islam.
He sat through a classroom just like this and told them that he reformed himself. He told the American authorities that bin Laden was a traitor to Islam.
All the while, he was conning everybody. He told others he remained steadfast for al Qaeda, and as soon as he got out he would join the jihad again against the United States.
TODD (voice-over): Said Ali Shari, according to Ballen and other experts, represents about 10 percent of the more than 100 former Guantanamo detainees who have gone through this Saudi rehab program and are believed to have returned to the battlefield.
TODD: And that compares to overall recidivism figures for Guantanamo detainees released by the Pentagon several months ago. That report said about 14 percent of those released from Guantanamo are believed to have engaged in some kind of terrorism activity afterwards.
Randi and Joe, back to you.
JOHNS: Brian Todd in Washington.
And last week's attempted bombing has again cast a spotlight on America's airline security.
KAYE: Right now millions of travelers on the move must deal with the confusion of new and frustrating rules. As our Paula Hancock tells us, one of the world's safest airlines is relying on its people and profiling to keep the skies safe, and it's not worried about being PC.
PAULA HANCOCK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's considered one of the safest airports in the world -- Israel's Ben Gurion has much of the latest technology and sophisticated machinery. American security officials came to visit a few years ago to watch and learn.
But in Israel, there is also a human element. Almost every passenger is questioned, sometimes by more than one security officer. Some are strip searched. And no matter how distasteful it may be to civil liberties groups, Israel actively profiles passengers and makes no apology for it. NERI YARKONI, AVIATION EXPERT: Good profiling is distinction. It's not discrimination. And I think that you should profile. If you don't profile, you waste -- you waste time, you waste money and you might miss what you're looking for because you're certaining it on the wrong people.
HANCOCK: Yarkoni says profiling needs to be based not simply on ethnicity, but also on behavior, intelligence gathering and statistics.
YARKONI: The concept, as I see, is that you should impose 90 percent of the -- the efforts toward, let's say, 10 percent of the public.
HANCOCK: But what if you find yourself on the wrong side of profiling?
Palestinian human rights lawyer Muhammad Dalleh deals with many cases of what he calls discrimination of Arabs at the airport, saying he himself has been a victim.
MUHAMMAD DALLEH, PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: We are talking about 1.2 million Palestinians who are citizens of the State of Israel. They cannot be treated as a security threat. The whole community -- more than one million citizens up front to be treated as suspects.
HANCOCK: Israel knows it has many enemies that it has to protect itself from, so inconveniencing passengers comes with the territory. Up until today, no airplane that has left this airport has ever been hijacked. And Israel's national carrier, El Al, is probably one of the safest -- if not the safest -- in the world.
Paula Hancock, CNN, Ben Gurion Airport.
KAYE: It's 6:45. If you're thinking about heading out today, Reynolds Wolf will have this morning's travel forecast right after the break.
JOHNS: And in ten minutes, ever wonder what news anchors do during commercial breaks? Unthinkable. Jeanne moos has that story behind the scene.
KAYE: That's not us.
JOHNS: City of the lights, New Year's in Paris. Fireworks on the Eiffel tower. Now, that's a beautiful picture there. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's 48 minutes after the hour. Time for your AM House Call, stories about your health.
And the first one is fuel for your New Year's resolutions. Guess what? Smoking and drinking are bad for you. Researchers followed more than 120,000 Dutch adults for 16 years. They found that cigarettes and alcohol both increased the risk of getting gut cancer, that's actually a technical term, and includes your esophagus and your stomach.
And you'll see this if you're watching football today, a new ad for the H1N1 vaccine. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants to encourage all Americans, especially young people, to get vaccinated. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the swine flu has hit young Americans especially hard.
Only four states are now reporting widespread cases of swine flu, down from seven the week before. Delaware, Maine, New Jersey and Virginia still reporting high levels of infection. Health officials say that's evidence the fall of H1N1 is declining. They warn there could be another winter wave, so they're encouraging everybody to get vaccinated.
And it is right now about 49 minutes after the hour. Pretty good idea to get vaccinated, I would think, although, you know, so far I've been able to avoid getting the H1N1.
KAYE: Well, that's a good thing, right?
JOHNS: Yes, that's a -- I've been trying to use it as an excuse to stay off from work, but so far, hasn't happened.
KAYE: That's good. You know what's going on not too far from here where we are right now. There's a major cleanup, massive cleanup. You're looking right now at a live picture of New York City's Times Square where the big party was last night. At least a million people there probably, we think, gathered there, but today is the big cleanup. Party's over, everybody's gone home.
KAYE: Except for the cleanup crew.
JOHNS: No more fun until it all starts over again Thanksgiving, then we'll have a big parade. We'll have -- that will be 2010, but.
KAYE: Yes. We've got a while until then.
KAYE: But in the meantime, Reynolds, did you catch any of the New Year's revelry last night?
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST : It was some good stuff. You know, I kind of had the same idea you had. I was watching all these people out there, and I was thinking, how bad could that cleanup be? I mean, especially in comparison with the Wolf house. I mean, my house were in 4 o'clock in the afternoon with a 3-year-old and a 2- year-old, trust me, it's a nightmare. It's an absolute nightmare.
Right now, we're not seeing much of a nightmare in terms of the forecast. Actually, it's pretty good. We had some flurries out there last night. We're seeing a few of those precipitation, the tail end in -- way in parts of Florida. A lot of your bowl games in Florida today, the Capital One Bowl game. You got the outback ball. Look for scattered showers and stick around, so an 18 minutes of good running game should be a passing game might have a little bit of an issue.
They're going to be seen a few embedded thunderstorms in South Tampa, right on parts of the I-4 corridor, but into the afternoon, that should breakup a little bit, but then you have a second installment forming for back out to the West. Very quickly, one thing to share with you, you see this word appear frigid? Take a look at this. We're going to see temperatures this morning. That could be in the single digits, some places well below that. In fact, 24 degrees below to our neighbors there in Winnipeg, 11 below for Fargo, 8 below in Bismarck, pouring up to 60 degrees in Minneapolis on this first day of the year, 43 in D.C., 52 in Dallas, 70 in L.A., and New York finishing up with 41. That is a look at your forecast on this New Year's day, 2010. Let's send it back to you guys.
KAYE: Thank you, Reynolds. You better get home soon and start cleaning up.
WOLF: You bet. Always a nightmare.
JOHNS: All right. This morning's top stories just minutes away, including the latest on the investigation into the attempted bombing of Flight 253. New information about communications the suspected bomber had with a radical Muslim cleric.
KAYE: Plus, we're following a latest development in a deadly bombing in Afghanistan, one of the worst days for the CIA. Atino Bali (ph) on the ground live in Afghanistan. She'' fill this in.
JOHNS: Then at 7:54 Eastern, the New Year brings New Year's resolutions, vowing to get healthy, some want to lose weight. Our Elizabeth Cohen will be here to help you get motivated and stick to it. That's the key. More stories and that after the top of the hour.
JOHNS: There's a reason people on TV are sometimes called talking heads. Who writes this stuff?
KAYE: Oh, boy.
JOHNS: It's because when the rest of us moves, it's trouble.
KAYE: One anchor duo is breaking the mold and going off script in between breaks. Jeanne Moos has some must-see TV that never made air.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you think listening to the news is depressing, imagine delivering it.
UNKNOWN MALE: The burning building. UNKNOWN FEMALE: Three patrons were stabbed.
UNKNOWN MALE: An undercover drug operation.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: The toxic dirt ordinance.
MOOS: Give us a break. A commercial break. There's a name for this.
UNKNOWN MALE: What anchors do during commercial breaks?
MOOS: Well, maybe not all anchors.
At WGN in Chicago, the weekend anchors do this in the first commercial break of every show. Started a decade or so ago.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: We were so tickled to hear our names, we want, ah, ah.
UNKNOWN MALE: And we started pointing.
MOOS: This used to be something only the crew got to see, but then it landed on YouTube.
They have between 2 and 2 1/2 minutes until the commercial break ends.
Moves range from --
UNKNOWN MALE: Remember the John Travolta.
MOOS: To the Dick Cheney.
MOOS (on-camera): Hold it. That famous fly move, based on an actual incident when Robert got caught on camera when he thought he was off cam.
UNKNOWN MALE: I see the fly zooming around, and I started reaching for it.
MOOS (voice-over): Sure there have been dancing weathermen on YouTube, even dancing Iraqi anchormen, and one of WGN's own reporters couldn't keep still.
But this takes choreography.
UNKNOWN MALE: She would try to go with me and poke my eyes out.
MOOS: Borrowed from "The Three Stooges," but don't call these two stooges.
UNKNOWN MALE: I try to add moves, she won't let me add new moves.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Ask him what his move was. Please.
UNKNOWN MALE: I want to do the chest bump.
MOOS (on-camera): So next commercial when you take a bathroom break, remember these two breaking into their routine.
MOOS (voice-over): Working it right down to the last second.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Ten seconds, coming up to a voiceover.
UNKNOWN MALE: We made it.
MOOS: Back to the world of mayhem and destruction.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Three, two, one.
UNKNOWN MALE: Several hundred people have --
MOOS: Two anchors who aren't quite anchored to their desk.
UNKNOWN MALE: Shoo, shoo, shoo.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
KAYE: Can we just be clear we've never done this on the air, ever?
JOHNS: No, not -- at least not so far. There's always tomorrow. It's a new decade.
KAYE: I love the fly moves. It worked that in.
KAYE: If there's a fly in the studio, now that's a move.
JOHNS: Unbelievable. I'm told to not use my hands so much anyway. All right. Top stories coming your way in 90 seconds.