Return to Transcripts main page

AMERICAN MORNING

Obama To Review Security Measures at International; New Security Guidelines Issued; U.S. Embassy Reopens in Yemen; Yemen a Global Security Threat; What Census 2010 Means For Your State; Inside the War Room of Lobbyists for Health Care

Aired January 5, 2010 - 07:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: A good Tuesday morning to you. Thanks for joining us on the Most News in the Morning on this 5th of January. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us. Here are the stories this morning we'll be telling you about coming up in the next 15 minutes.

First, the President as Homeland Security Team huddling this afternoon in White House situation room. The President is trying to find out how a suspected terrorist managed to board a plane bound for Detroit with explosives in his underwear. He's also hoping to learn how well our intelligence agencies are really dealing with the threat of terrorism.

ROBERTS: They are counting on you to be counted. We're taking a closer look this morning at the 2010 census. The $300 million effort to get you to fill out the form. The power and the money at stake is why minorities could lose their fair share if they don't get involved.

CHETRY: And a pipeline to power. Why the head of a major lobby is surrounded by senators at the podium and welcomed on Capitol Hill. A look at how a war room full of employees may be stirring the future of health care in this country. It's Carol Costello's "A.M." original series, "Lobbying for Your Health."

ROBERTS: A developing story now, intelligence officials adding dozens of new names to the list of suspected terrorists barred from flying to the United States. The move comes less than two weeks after a terrorist successfully boarded a Northwest Airlines jet bound for Detroit and tried to blow it up.

That near disaster triggering a summit this afternoon in the White House Situation Room with the president and his top security and intelligence advisers. Our Suzanne Malveaux is live at the White House for us this morning. What do we expect to come out of this meeting, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, one of the things we've been talking about is accountability. The president says he is holding all these people accountable, and one of the things he wants to do is meet with them face to face essentially to outline their initial reports. What have this agencies done already in terms of initial reforms to deal with potential terrorist attacks?

It is going to be a packed house. It's going to be the heaviest hitters, those he has already been on conference calls yet, but each one of them delivering their own report. We've got Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.

You've got the director of National Intelligence who will be there, Dennis Blair, as well as FBI head Leon Panetta, the Justice Department, FBI, everybody is going to be sitting around a table essentially sharing their own ideas.

And one of the things they'll be talking about is first and foremost these terrorist watch list, did they need to be more expansive? Did they need to include more names? How could they have avoided this in the first place and perhaps catch Abdulmutallab before he even boarded the plane?

Secondly, reviewing the intelligence gathering processes, why weren't these agencies talking to each other? Do they need to share more information? Was it intentional?

Third, they're going to discuss how they could potentially have thwarted this attack. And then finally, they are going to be taking a look at all aspects of airlines' passenger screening, the TSA's job, how they are actually going to improve some of those techniques they've already put into motion.

I should let you know, John, the president is going to come out and talk about initial reforms, things that they're actually starting to do already with the terror watch lists to make sure this doesn't happen again. John?

ROBERTS: What time do we expect to hear from the president?

MALVEAUX: I believe it's in the 4:00 hour. They're going to meet for 90 minutes in the Situation Room and then he's going to come up and make a statement, talking about some of the things he says are lessons learned from this potential terror attack.

ROBERTS: Suzanne Malveaux for us live at the White House this morning. Suzanne, thanks.

MALVEAUX: Sure.

CHETRY: Many countries have been told to step up airline security in the wake of that Christmas attempted bombing, but they're not following in line. They Obama administration ordered tighter security checks for passengers traveling into the U.S. from 14 countries.

These are rules that were supposed to take effect yesterday, but the Associated Press is reporting there are no visible changes at airports in Lebanon, Syria, and Libya, countries all on that list.

And even several European governments, including Germany, France and Spain say they're still studying the rules. Our Frederick Pleitgen has called into the German government. His live for us in Berlin this morning with our security watch. Good morning, Fred.

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran.

The German government says that so far it is not complying with these demands that the Obama administration has met, and they say they're not sure they'll ever comply with these demands. Certainly they say one of the major issue is the stepped-up security and screening of passengers from the 14 countries in question.

However, what the German government did tell us is that of course there is stepped-up security on flights bound to the U.S. at all German airports. They say some passengers on these flights are being singled out for additional screening. However, that's not in effect to those 14 countries that the Obama administration is demanding.

The Germans say that what's happening with these passengers is that they are additionally being patted down. Their luggage is being subject to additional searches. In some cases, even the check-in luggage will be searched by hand. However, they do say they're not sure whether that demand with the 14 countries will be followed through on. Kiran?

CHETRY: And the thing to consider here is that this happened on a flight coming from Europe, from Amsterdam. So when we talk about that, are Europeans looking for stepped-up security as well? Is there a fear among people who are flying there?

PLEITGEN: Exactly. That's a very good question. It really reflects the discussion that's going on here in Europe. Certainly right now, you can see it is the Dutch after that incident happened in a flight coming from Amsterdam, it is the Dutch that are really pushing forward on additional security measures. They are the ones advocating a wider use of these body scanners.

Of course, there are already body scanners being used at airports in Amsterdam, and it's really the Dutch that are pushing this. The Brits have a lot of concern about these body scanners because they say it may violate privacy laws and even child pornography laws because it could provide indecent use of children.

The Germans are in some way in the middle ground in all of this. They say they want to introduce these body scanners, but they say they want some other solutions and want privacy concerns to be taken into consideration, Kiran.

PLEITGEN: All right, Frederick Pleitgen for us in German this morning, thanks so much.

And so why aren't these countries cooperating? There are consequences, right, for not following in line? We're going to ask former TSA administrator Kip Hawley at 8:30 eastern.

It's five minutes after the hour now, and other stories also new this morning. New details today on what authorities believe led to the deadly shooting at a federal courthouse in Las Vegas. Police say 66-year-old Johnny Wicks was upset over losing a lawsuit over his Social Security benefits. He entered the lobby with a shotgun hidden underneath his jacket and opened fire, killing a guard and wounding a marshal.

A man who was reporting for jury duty captured the whole thing on his cell phone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A shooting outside of a Las Vegas courthouse. Holy --

Unbelievable.

Hell of a morning for jury duty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Wicks was eventually shot and killed by federal marshals.

CHETRY: When you hear how many shots, it's amazing more people weren't killed.

ROBERTS: It really is incredible. I would take it that most of those shot came from law enforcement because there's only a finite number of shells you put in a shotgun, unless he kept reloading. But, wow, what a shootout that was.

CHETRY: Well, still ahead, the Secret Service is now admitting a third uninvited guest crashed the President's first White House state dinner in November. His name is Carlos Allen, a D.C. party promoter. The unauthorized guest entered with the Indian prime minister's delegation.

The agency says he went through security screening and did not meet with the president or first lady.

ROBERTS: The IRS announcing new regulations for the tax preparation industry. Your taxman will soon have to pass a test and register with the government. Tax preparers will also be required to face annual training and face penalties for unethical conduct.

Eventually taxpayers will be able to check the credentials of preparers on a public IRS database.

(WEATHER BREAK)

CHETRY: It's nine minutes past the hour right now.

Stricter screening guidelines this morning at Newark airport. You remember it was shut down when a man walked the wrong way down a security hallway. Thousands of passengers stranded for hours because of that. This morning's new information on what's happening to the security agent that missed him.

ROBERTS: And why Yemen is so important to the United States fight against terrorist groups, a weak government backed by millions of dollars in U.S. aid. Our Jill Dougherty this morning, a situation, that Hillary Clinton is calling a "global security threat."

It's 10 minutes now after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's 12 minutes now after the hour. That means it's time for a quick check of what's new this morning.

A TSA officer has been reassigned to non-screening duties after a man was able to enter a secure area in Newark Liberty International Airport, Sunday night's security breach taking place just hours after before new measures aimed and making you safe in airports and on airplanes take effect.

The man in the Newark security breach by the way was later seen on a security tape leaving the terminal.

CHETRY: And intelligence officials say that the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA officials last week in Afghanistan was a Jordanian double agent who had been recruited to help hunt Al Qaeda. The bomber was granted access to a military base in the Pakistan border, claiming to have new information on Al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri. But officials failed to search him before driving him onto that CIA post.

ROBERTS: The American embassy in Yemen has reopened for the first time in three days. American officials say a successful counterterrorism operation by Yemeni forces has made the threat of a terror attack on the embassy less likely.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the growth of Al Qaeda in Yemen is a, quote, "global security threat." Our Jill Dougherty is on our security watch this morning live in Washington and joins us. Hi, Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John.

The embassy is reopened today, and on the Web site I checked out this morning, they said it was because of the successful counterterrorism operation conducted by the governor of Yemen security forces yesterday north of the capital of Sana'a.

But it also warns the threat of terrorist attacks against American interests there remains high, and the citizens in Yemen, U.S. citizens, should be vigilant and take prudent security measures.

But the threat from Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen goes far beyond that country's borders.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY: The American embassy in Yemen under terrorist threat --

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: That is in response to ongoing threats by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, so-called AQAP, that have been ongoing. They certainly predate this holiday season, and they are aimed at American interests in Yemen.

DOUGHERTY: That terror group, the same one President Barack Obama blames for orchestrating the Christmas Day failed bombing of a U.S. airliner.

U.S. officials tell CNN eight Al Qaeda suspects were planning to bomb the embassy. Yemeni forces killed three and captured one more wearing a suicide vest. But four other terrorists were still at large.

Yemen has been a hotbed of terrorism going back at least to October 2000 the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors. And the embassy has been the target of numerous attacks. Yemen's ability to combat the threat, Secretary Clinton says, is crucial.

CLINTON: We see global implications from the war in Yemen and the ongoing efforts by Al Qaeda in Yemen to use it as a base for terrorist attacks far beyond the region.

DOUGHERTY: Which is why the U.S. is more than doubling its aid to Yemen. $160 million in development and counterterrorism assistance over the last two years.

Barbara Bodine, former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, says it's a fragile state on the brink of becoming a failed state. But the U.S. should not turn it into a third front after Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight against Al Qaeda.

BARBARA BODINE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO YEMEN: Yemen would be a very difficult environment for U.S. forces to operate in. And so, I think the president's statement that we're going to be assisting and supporting the Yemenis to do this is really a much smarter way to go about it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY: And Secretary Clinton will be at the White House today. Part of that meeting that President Obama has called with his national security team and his cabinet to analyze and prevent another attempt like that failed Christmas Day bombing of the U.S. airliner. Part of that discussion would be on Yemen and the evolving threat from Al Qaeda -- John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: Expecting to hear from the president about 4:00 this afternoon too.

Jill Dougherty for us this morning. Jill, thanks.

CHETRY: Well, they want your name, they want your age, your race, your phone number. The government is getting ready for the new 2010 census and they call it ten little questions. They say to lay ten minutes of your time. But that it means big power and big cash for your state. Our Christine Romans breaks down why you should fill it out.

Sixteen minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. You know every ten years, the government sets out to count every man, woman and child in America. It's, of course, a big task but it's also big business.

ROBERTS: The head count determines how billions of dollars in federal funding gets divvied up. Our Christine Romans here to tell us how it all works.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And it tells us who we are as a nation, how we've changed, where we're moving, what we look like. This is going to be incredibly important for what the House of Representatives looks like. They're going to be some states who will probably gain seats. Texas, for example, many demographers say could gain up to four seats.

There will be states like New York expected to lose a seat. The whole demographic face of this country is changing and it's incredibly important for who we are and where we're going.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): In New York's Times Square, the launch of a road show. Not a Broadway show, but a national tour sponsored by the U.S. government to get America ready for the 2010 census.

GARY LOCKE, U.S. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: It will have enormous impact on communities and people all across America.

ROMANS: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke heads up the agency that's supposed to count every single person in the country.

LOCKE: It's the responsibility of every person living in America, whether they're a voter or not, whether they're registered as a voter or not, or even whether or not they're an actual U.S. citizen.

ROMANS: The government is spending more than $340 million, including a massive ad campaign in 28 languages to get people to fill out this census form. At stake, power and money. Congressional seats are doled out depending on a state's population, and so is $400 billion in federal funding.

LOCKE: If you want your fair share, be counted, because this is money for schools, human services, for medical services as well as for transportation.

ROMANS: Things got so contentious during the 2000 count that Utah sued the census bureau.

PAMELA PERLICH, SR. RESEARCH ECONOMIST, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH: In the end, we were 856 persons short of having that congressional seat.

ROMANS: The Supreme Court ruled Utah couldn't count missionaries serving overseas. Since congressional seats are limited to 435, the extra seat instead went to North Carolina.

PERLICH: Who knows exactly what that would have meant as far as dollars and cents and programs and policies, but at the margin to have one more person there in the Congress working on behalf of Utah does make a difference.

ROMANS: This time around, Utah is likely to get that House seat. According to one projection, eight states in the south and west are expected to gain at least one seat after the big 2010 census. Texas could gain as many as four. Ten states, most located in the northeast and the Midwest, may well lose at least one House seat. But those numbers could have been far worse.

LARRY SABATO, DIR., CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIV. OF VIRGINIA: The recession is actually frozen a lot of people in place, and so people who might have left the north and Midwest and gone south or west stayed. They stayed where they were and that saved some seats for the north and the Midwest.

ROMANS: All of this depends on how many people actually fill out the form. Historically, counting minorities has been an issue, and the census bureau is working hard to combat mistrust.

(on camera): There are some, a vocal minority, I would say, who've been cautioning against some people in the Latino community actually participating in the 2010 census. What do you say to that?

LOCKE: You don't obtain political empowerment unless you're counted so that we know exactly how strong and how large you are. So I think that boycotting the census is actually counterproductive to their goals of greater political participation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Immigration status, by the way, is not on this list here. Nowhere here does this census form ask for immigration status.

Now, the Latino demographic, of course, is the fastest growing in the United States over the past decade and an accurate census count will show just how fast growing.

Another challenge for the census bureau reaching millions of families newly homeless by the foreclosure crisis. Census workers will take special care to track those people down to really watch the forwarding addresses and making sure that they can find people who may have been displaced from their homes over the past two years because after all this is the first point of contact. This comes in the mailbox and you fill it out.

ROBERTS: When is it coming in the mailbox?

ROMANS: It will be coming later this spring. First, they're doing this big road show and they're going to start -- they still have a lot more people to hire, by the way, as well. They'll be hiring more than a million people in the end to actually go -- when you don't fill this out or you fill it out incorrectly, there will be all of these people out there going door to door. So they're getting everything ramped up. There'll be a big ad campaign beginning -- you're going to see a lot from the government, including NASCAR. They're hoping to sponsor NASCAR, so you're going to be hearing a lot about census 2010 over the next few months.

CHETRY: Can I ask you some question?

ROMANS: Yes.

CHETRY: Why can't they do this online of at least offer it online so that, you know, they can expedite and save some money?

ROMANS: They want to be as consistent as possible, but in some cases, they're not -- on line is so far away from it. They're literally on horseback and in boats in the bayou going out and finding houses where people may not have any access even to electricity.

CHETRY: They're seeing that in a lot of these places.

ROMANS: Well, yes. Yes. But you can go to census2010.gov and you can see all the information right there.

ROBERTS: Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning.

ROMANS: Sure.

ROBERTS: Thanks so much.

ROMANS: Thanks.

CHETRY: Coming up next, the second in our special series on "Lobbying for Health Care." An inside look at an organization's war room regarding health care. Our Carol Costello has got that story for us coming up.

Twenty-four and a half minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, it's 26 minutes past the hour. Our top stories just four minutes away. First, an "A.M. Original" and something you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING.

Lobbyists spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to influence the health care debate in this country. By some counts were six health care lobbyists for every member of Congress. Imagine that.

ROBERTS: The combination of money and power has threatened to drown out the general public. Today in her special series, "Lobbying for your Health." Our Carol Costello is taking a look at a war room built to steer the debate one way -- their way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDY STERN, SEIU PRESIDENT: What are you doing today here?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Andy Stern, president of the powerful Service Employees International Union. Powerful because it boasts two million members and it has clout. After all --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you so much, thank you.

COSTELLO: It helped Barack Obama become president.

STERN: So this is war room.

COSTELLO: Stern is in the union's war room filled with people who are lobbying for President Obama's dream, and their own.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Health care reform.

COSTELLO: Health care reform. Public option included.

STERN: Health care has been our (INAUDIBLE) and we've been trying to win the election and we're closer than ever before.

COSTELLO: The analogy of the good one, this union members are unofficially lobbying for their candidate outside Democrat Congressman Michael McMahon's Brooklyn office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a ways to walk.

COSTELLO: In Pittsburg, union member Georgeanne Koehler makes use of another campaign tactic.

GEORGEANNE KOEHLER, SEIU PENNSYLVANIA: We're going to door-to- door. Today, we're going to Kansas, the neighborhoods, knock on doors and ask the good people in this area if they would sign cards in support of health care reform.

COSTELLO: In all, the SEIU has 400 full-time people working to push through health care reform, a nationwide contingent that helps open doors to Washington's elite. That's Senator Harry Reid and his Senate colleagues last November celebrating the unveiling of the Senate health care bill. And who's that standing next to him? Why, it's Loretta Johnson, a registered lobbyist for the Service Employees International Union.

LORETTA JOHNSON, SEIU LOBBYIST: Thank you so much, Senator Reid.

COSTELLO: The only non-senator to speak that night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's great to see you.

JOHNSON: Good to see you again.

COSTELLO: Johnson is one of the few lobbyists warmly welcomed by lawmakers. The union says it's because she's not an insider but a health care worker turned lobbyist from rural Virginia. Still, she's a lobbyist backed by a powerful union, and that means something. Johnson says she's met with --

JOHNSON: At least half of the congressmen and about all of the senators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People who represent various interests in our society can have a lot of information to share. And we find useful the information that is provided.

COSTELLO: Critics aren't surprised by the union's access to lawmakers.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Local, the SEIU because --

COSTELLO: But they are surprised by the union's access to President Obama, a president who's made a big deal about not working with lobbyists. Yet the White House visitor logs through September show union boss Andrew Stern visited the White House 22 times. But here's the catch.

Although Stern's union is lobbying for health care reform, Stern technically isn't. Because unlike Loretta Johnson, he's not a registered lobbyist. He de-registered in 2007. The Americans for Tax Reform and the Alliance for Worker Freedom say that's a violation of the lobbying disclosure act.

(on camera): They've petitioned the U.S. attorney to investigate you for illegal lobbying activities. So how would you respond to them?

STERN: We're going to send them a letter and tell them the truth which is we've complied with the law and we assume whenever the investigation is done it will be fine.

COSTELLO: And they're going to come back at you and say, oh, my God, he's visited the White House 22 times. That's a lot of times.

STERN: I don't care if I went there once or I went there every single day, they would think it's too much because they have a different vision of America than the people who I work with every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please don't filibuster the health care reform.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Back in the union's war room, all systems are go until health care reform is signed, sealed and delivered by a man with the same dream, President Barack Obama.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Now there is a rule that mandates those who spend 20 percent of their time lobbying for an issue must register as a lobbyist. This is the rule union boss Andrew Stern is accused of violating, the D.C. U.S. Attorney's office told me they did receive a letter of complaint, but because the matter was pending, they couldn't offer me any more information.

We did ask the White House to comment on whether Mr. Stern's visit swayed them to act in its behalf in any way. It declined to comment on the matter. John, Kiran.

CHETRY: There you go. All right. Carol Costello for us this morning. Thank you.

We're crossing the bottom of the hour now and that means it's time for this morning's top stories. President Obama meeting this afternoon with the head of his national intelligence and security agencies. On the agenda, of course, discussing two reviews that he ordered in the wake of the attempted Christmas bombing. One deals with security and screening for passengers on-line, the other tracking terrorists, the Intel side. The president is looking for answers to improve Homeland Security and intelligence sharing.

ROBERTS: Apple will unveil its latest technological gadget later on this month. The Tablet is a hand-held P.C., rumored to feature a 10-inch touch display. Allowing consumers to read books, watch movies and television, play games and use the internet. The "Wall Street Journal" though reports that you won't see it on the shelves until March. The projected cost, about $500 to $1,000.

CHETRY: All right. Well, I guess what's new is what's old is new again because there are new mammogram recommendations out published in the "Journal of the American College of Radiology" saying that women who have an average risk of breast cancer should begin routine mammograms at age 40. If you're a high risk, meaning you have a family history of breast cancer, you should begin at 30. This advice, of course, contradicts the highly controversial advisory panel recommendations which recommended routine screenings should not begin until age 50 to spare women from false alarms and unnecessary biopsies.

ROBERTS: So the best thing to do, speak with your doctor about it.

President Obama ordering his top intelligence advisers to the White House situation room this afternoon. They will be discussing missed signals and security failures that led to the near bombing of the a Northwest Airlines jet over Detroit on Christmas day.

Joining me now from Washington with more from our security watch this morning, former secretary of defense, William Cohen and Steven Simon, a Middle East specialist with the council on foreign relations. Secretary Cohen, if you were in that meeting today, what would you tell the president needs to be done?

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, first I'd make a full assessment in terms of where were the points of breakage here, where did it really break down? We have a system whereby we're supposed to look at all of the individual dots and try to connect them. Well, why didn't we? Well, I would try and focus in on where the break took place and then see what we need to do to correct it.

Steve Simon, where does it look like the breaks took place here. Where were the dots not connected? Who dropped the ball?

STEVE SIMON, FMR. SR. DIR., NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, I think there are two issues, the one is what happened at the embassy in Nigeria when the terrorist's father came in to tell the embassy that he was worried about his son. You know, normally, if the guy had come in and said, listen, my son says he's going to attack a U.S. airplane and he wants there to be a Christmas present to the United States. The embassy's hair would have been on fire and that information would have sped to the top of the queue and then dealt with very quickly.

But if the father didn't say anything highly specific, then under current guidelines, under the rules of the game as they are now, that information would have moved slowly. The second thing, of course, is the watch list issue and the no-fly list issue. Those have been perennial problems going back years, and the Obama administration is now going to have to try to get that sorted, so that people who are troublesome lined up on that list.

ROBERTS: Yes, secretary, the president this afternoon, after this meeting, is going to announce some new steps to enhance security. How is it that eight years after 9/11 we're still talking about not connecting the dots when it comes to intelligence and to the issue of the no-fly list, what good is a no-fly list if someone who is about to attack an airplane, and there is information out there about this person, is not on that list?

COHEN: Well, there is a no-fly list in terms - the question is, why wasn't he put on that, and that's one of the serious issues that the president is going to address and, I hope, get some answers to. But in addition to all the things that we're doing, it's eight years later, yes, but we also have to remember that those who are engaged in terror and committing terrorism are looking for weakness in the system, and they will exploit any weakness they can find, and we're always going to have weak links in any system that we have.

We cannot devise a system that will give us perfect protection. So we have to do the best we can and try to balance the need for ease of travel with the need to protect the passengers, and there's always going to be a balancing act that we have to engage in, and we're going to find flaws in that and they'll be exploited.

ROBERTS: Steven, as the secretary was saying, that terrorists are looking for flaws in the system, places where they can expose weaknesses there. We've known for forever that there is a weakness in the system when it comes to detecting explosives that might be hidden on a person. Now we've got the security measures in 14 different countries to screen people coming into the country, yet they're not screening in Britain, which is where Richard Reid came from, where the liquid bomb plot was hatched. Do you have any confidence that these measures are making us safer?

SIMON: Well, they probably are making us safer to a degree. The problem with limiting, you know, the list to a number of countries is that the enemy is looking at this, too, and is saying, well, OK, we know what countries we're not going to travel to the United States from in order to carry out an attack. You know, and the question of screening for explosives, this, too, has been a problem for a long time because the technology is elusive, the technology that works is extremely expensive.

The parties that need to spend the money are unwilling to spend the money or have been unwilling to spend the money, and the full body screening has aroused the ire of privacy groups. You add all this up and you wind up with some serious obstacles, and the Obama administration will have to try to smash through those obstacles to get the right screening equipment in the right places.

ROBERTS: Yes. Mr. Secretary, after 9/11, we were told we're taking all these new measures to protect people in the air. Everybody has gone through enhanced screenings. They know about not bringing liquids on board. They got to take their shoes off. Do you have any confidence at all that even after this next meeting at the White House that we're going to be any safer than we were prior to this thing that happened on Christmas day?

COHEN: Well, we may be somewhat safer, but we're never going to be safe. We're living in an age of terror. What Steven called the age of holy terror, as such, in terms of the extremists who are driven by an ideology that is destructive and violent. So no matter what measures we take to protect us, and we will enhance them, but we're always going to remain vulnerable to these kinds of attacks because we're a democratic society that's not going to engage in a type of Stalinist (ph) extreme measures to protect ourselves so that we destroy the very essence of a democracy.

So we're going to have to live with some of that uncertainty. We're going to have to live with the fact that there are terrorists out there who will likely be out there for a long time. And the best we can do is try to marginalized them, detain them, track them down and kill or capture them, but understand that some are going to get through no matter how good we get at defensive measures.

ROBERTS: All right. William Cohen, Steve Simon, thanks for being with us this morning. Good to see you this morning, gentlemen.

SIMON: Thanks.

COHEN: Thank you.

CHETRY: All right. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, 38 minutes past the hour.

Renaming parts of Hawaii after President Obama. Of course, he's the native son, the favored son. You'd think many people or most people would be all for it. But as Ed Henry shows us that's not necessarily the case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING) CHETRY: Welcome back. You're excited about the song selection?

ROBERTS: I haven't heard that for a long time.

CHETRY: The Ventures, there you go.

Well, welcome back to most news in the morning. He's not just the president, he's, of course, Hawaii's favorite son.

ROBERTS: Fresh off the family's vacation, the first family's vacation. They're supposed to pay tribute to President Obama in the aloha state and it goes way beyond bobble heads. Our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry has got that story.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, some local politicians here in Honolulu already starting a bandwagon to name beaches and schools after the president, some even want his birthday a state holiday. But not everybody around here is hopping on that bandwagon just yet.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice-over): He hasn't even been commander in chief for a full year, but the rush is already on here in his home state to name slices of Hawaii after him, including Magic Island, a beach where the future president used to body surf.

MAYOR MUFI HANNEMANN, HONOLULU: Well, he went there as a youth with his family. Since he's returned, he likes to picnic there with his family. It's something that really speaks well of the fact that he's never really lost touch with his roots.

HENRY: Other politicians want to turn his August 4th birthday to a state holiday. Still others want his first school to be renamed President Barack Hussein Obama II Elementary.

SKIP DIAZ, HAWAII RESIDENT: I'm very proud of Barack being Punahou graduate and living here, born here and he's a multicultural guy. The United States is the same thing, a multi-cultural country. I think it's a great idea. He's my main man.

HENRY: But even in a state where Obama dashboard dolls are selling like hotcakes, there are dissenters.

SHEENA OSHIRO, HAWAII RESIDENT: I think he should do something like big as this, like to name a beach park after you, do something really big in order for that. They have to change the laws, too, right? So, that's a big thing.

HENRY (on camera): What sort of things do you think would you like him to do before you think you would get to name the beach after him?

OSHIRO: I think that (INAUDIBLE) and then maybe more, but this beach is special. HENRY (voice-over): Others out catching rays told us the hasty push to name places after the president is reminiscent of another recent honor.

JACK JOYNER, HAWAII RESIDENT: He's received a Nobel Peace Prize and he hasn't done anything for that. It's all word, I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that, and they acknowledged it but he has yet to do it.

HENRY: But Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann insists state pride will win out.

HANNEMANN: It's very historical. This is the first person from Hawaii, he's president of the United States, we're proud of that and we want to name something of significance after him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: The mayor added he spoke to the president's half-sister about renaming the beach. She ran it up the flagpole and got a positive response. Meaning the White House is not going to veto this idea, though it still has to go through the local bureaucracy. John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: We'll see if it does.

Rob Marciano is going to have this morning's travel forecast coming up right after the break.

CHETRY: Also coming up in 10 minutes, they're calling it a Christmas miracle, really. A mother and a baby declared dead in the hospital coming back from the brink. How was it possible? We're "Paging Dr. Gupta."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Good morning, Charlotte, where it looks like - if this was any other time of year, you'd say, wow, what a beautiful day. It's 18 degrees there this morning. Later on today it's going to be cloudy, with a high of just 36.

CHETRY: Wow! At least enjoy the sun for now because it does look nice, at least from inside.

ROBERTS: It sure does. Yes.

CHETRY: Our Rob Marciano is following all of it for us. As we know, it's been chilly. We were hoping for some reprieve. It doesn't look like that's going to happen.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No, no. This pattern's in here for the long haul, at least through the weekend if not through next week. And certainly the coldest start to a year that we've seen in probably over a decade, maybe more than that, and this could go down at least the eastern half of the country as one of the coldest winters we've seen in 10, maybe - maybe 20 years at this point.

Seventeen, 18 degrees right now in - in Atlanta, 30s (ph) across parts of Florida, so we're seeing that freeze extend and I think freeze watches and warnings will be extended through the weekend, maybe - maybe a break Thursday night into Friday, but that's about it for Florida.

Another shot of frigid air driving down across the south, and we are not the only ones experiencing this. Check out this video out of the UK. They have gotten hit one, two, three times with snow, and this will drive all the way down south, through Manchester, through London, and eventually get into France. Again, they could see four, five, six inches of snow in some parts of France. So we're not the only ones feeling this, and we've been talking about eastern parts of Asia also experiencing record-breaking cold.

Here are your wind chills, minus 22 in Minneapolis, feels like minus 13 in St. Louis, feels like 6 right now in Atlanta. You get barely get above the freezing mark later on today, 31 degrees expected in Memphis.

All right, here's a second shot of cold that will be driving south from Canada, temperatures anywhere from 20 to 30 degrees below average. So that's going to be about five, in some cases 10 degrees colder than the air we're experiencing right now, and it gets all the way down into Florida. So enjoy your orange juice now, it may cost you a few dollars more, at least a few pennies more by the time next week rolls around. (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTS: So - so Rob, you know what some people have got to be saying this morning is, OK, it's the coldest start to the winter we've had in more than a decade. It comes right after the Copenhagen Climate Conference, after the - the hacked e-mails. What's going on?

MARCIANO: It's the Al Gore effect. I mean that - that's - in the weather community, we kind of joke about it. It's just a bad timing. Every time there's some big weather climate conference, there seems to be a cold outbreak. But, globally, we are still warming. We'll see how it pans out for - for 2010. But globally, temperatures, believe it or not, are still above average.

ROBERTS: All right.

CHETRY: There you go. That's why it's climate change, not just global warming.

ROBERTS: Exactly.

Rob, thanks so much.

MARCIANO: All right, guys.

CHETRY: This morning's top stories just a few minutes away, including at 8:10 Eastern, a double agent, a spy among spies behind the suicide bombing that killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan. How did he fool the Jordanian government and gained the trust of our intelligence community?

Barbara Starr with what the Pentagon is saying this morning.

ROBERTS: And at 8:03 Eastern, the deadly shootout at a Las Vegas courthouse caught on camera phone. What sounded like a scene out of a war zone. Plus, the alleged gunman's name and motive.

Those stories and more coming your way at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Fifty-two minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

They're calling it a Christmas Eve miracle and also a medical mystery. A pregnant mom goes into labor and then her heart stops beating.

ROBERTS: Doctors removed her baby by emergency Caesarean section and the baby as well appeared to be dead, but, miraculously, they both seemed to come back to life.

Here's Tom Foreman with their remarkable story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five AM on a bitterly cold Christmas Eve, and Tracy Hermanstorfer is surprised to find herself going into labor. The baby is not due for two weeks. Her husband, Mike, rushes her to the hospital just a few miles from their home, and by mid morning they are settled into a room awaiting delivery.

Tracy is given a strong painkiller called an epidural around noon, then she falls asleep. But a half hour later, Mike notices a dramatic change.

MIKE HERMANSTORFER, HUSBAND: I sat there with my wife's hand in mine, ice cold. She was completely and totally blue.

FOREMAN: 12:35, her breathing and heartbeat have stopped. The medical team swarms, trying for a pulse, a reaction - anything.

DR. STEPHANIE MARTIN, MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: She was dead. She had no heartbeat, no breathing. She was as gray as her sweat suit. No signs of life.

FOREMAN: For five frantic minutes, they work on Tracy, then Mike hears a doctor call out, "We're taking the baby now."

Moments after that emergency C-section, Tracy is rushed into an operating room, but Mike is facing more horrible news. The baby, too, is limp and not breathing. No sign of life. Even as the medical team struggles to bring the baby around, Mike believes all is lost.

Then, at 12:46, Coltyn Hermanstorfer cries out. He's OK. M. HERMANSTORFER: That is an amazing feeling.

FOREMAN: Thirty minutes later, more unbelievable and great news - Tracy's heart had restarted right after the birth. Within the hour she is in intensive care but stable. The family calls it a miracle.

TRACY HERMANSTORFER, MIRACULOUSLY SURVIVED CHILDBIRTH: I got a second chance in life.

FOREMAN: By Monday, everyone was home. They celebrated Christmas late with their two other sons, and gave thanks early and often for the first surprise gift of the season.

Tom Foreman, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: As you could imagine this is a story that is stunning doctors. Our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. He is the author, by the way, of "Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that are Saving Lives Against All Odds."

Sanjay, does this count as a miracle? It certainly sounds like one.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I - I think in many ways it is, and it's a fascinating story with a happy ending.

But, you know, one of the things I think it illustrates, and - and it's an important point that - that we've talked about for some time is this idea that life and death is not a binary process. People tend to think of one moment you're here, the next moment you're not. It's much more of a process, you know, several things happening in the body as it was happening with Tracy in this particular situation as well, and even when the heart stops beating, that's another part of the process.

So, in her case, you know, all these various parts, you can intervene and perhaps reverse what was happening to her. I mean, she was dying, for sure, but she also had her heart being pumped on. That's important because oxygenated blood is moving through the body. She had a breathing tube in. That's important as well. So I think it's safe to say she wasn't really dead per se, the way we typically think about it, and the - and the whole process was able to be reversed. So it's fascinating, again.

CHETRY: Right. And that's the amazing part. So as we're talking about this timeline that we just heard from Tom Foreman, you hear 30 minutes had passed and all the stuff. But, meanwhile, they were still providing medical treatment, right? I mean, it wasn't just 30 minutes they're both laying there with nothing happening?

GUPTA: Correct. She is in a hospital. If she had been at home or somewhere where she couldn't get medical care and a team, a swarm of people, as Tom mentioned, descending upon her, it probably would have been a very different outcome. But simply pushing on the chest, simply moving oxygen, the blood through the body, makes a huge difference. I mean, essentially those - the doctors or the nurses who - who are in the room are acting as a - an external cardiac pump. And that really makes a difference. Then you got to get the heart restarted, which - which in her case was possible.

ROBERTS: So - so doctors, through all of this, Sanjay, had to make a judgment call, switch from trying to save both of them to focusing just on the baby, performing, as we said, an emergency Caesarean. How tight is the window to getting the baby out and I'm - and why?

GUPTA: It's a - it's an incredibly tight window and an incredibly difficult judgment call. Usually it's around five minutes, and - and the reason being, John, that if - if the mom's heart has stopped beating at that point, the baby is not getting blood flow as well, and there's monitors on the baby as well as the mom in the hospital, and you could see the heart rate start to slow down. You could see all sorts of changes happening in the baby usually within five minutes.

They usually got to make the decision earlier that - than that, because within five minutes you want the baby out of the uterus and - and, you know, being resuscitated as well.

CHETRY: Right. And the scary thing is they're still not able to answer what happened to her medically and how the baby also, you know, had no signs of life and then came back. So what - you know, what are they looking for in the future here?

GUPTA: Well, it's interesting. I talked to Dr. Stephanie Martin who - who took care of the - the mother here, and she said she has taken care of what are called nine perimortem pregnancies - nine perimortem deliveries, meaning the mom was actually dying around the time of the delivery. And usually they don't have a good reason. Sometimes it can be a embolism of amniotic fluid into the blood stream. It can be a pulmonary embolism. In Tracy's case they still don't know the answer.

ROBERTS: Wow! Fascinating stuff, Doc. Thanks for bringing it to us this morning.

Top stories...

GUPTA: (INAUDIBLE). Yes.

ROBERTS: Top stories coming your way in 90 seconds. We'll be right back.

It's now two minutes to the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)