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AMERICAN MORNING

Senator Chris Dodd to Announce Retirement; President Obama Says Intel Failure Potentially Dangerous; New Disturbing Details of Newark Airport Security Breach Reveal Cameras Not Recording; Cold Streak Could Set Record in South Florida; Jobs Rated: Math-Science on Top; Who is John Brennan?

Aired January 6, 2010 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, and thanks very much for being with us on this Wednesday, the 6th of January. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us. Here are the big stories we'll be talking about in the next 15 minutes.

First, we have breaking news out of Washington. Some big changes in the Democratic Party. Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd just hours from announcing that he will not be seeking re-election in November. His decision coming just a day after another prominent Senate Democrat announced he's stepping down this fall. We're going to get the late breaking developments ahead.

ROBERTS: Never again. President Obama puts his national security team on notice saying the system failed in a potentially disastrous way on Christmas Day and it will not be tolerated. So how does the president plan to fix it and will anyone take the bullet after the White House dodged one? A live report from the White House just ahead.

CHETRY: And another embarrassment for the TSA. Disturbing details revealed about Sunday's security breach at Newark Liberty International Airport. Security cameras were on, however, they weren't recording. Investigators still have no idea who the identified man who bypassed security and walked in through an exit door is. So how could that happen? We're digging deeper for answers.

ROBERTS: We begin this morning with breaking news, Democrats reeling from a sudden one-two punch. CNN confirming this morning that Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd will not seek re-election in the fall.

Word of the five-term senator's retirement coming just hours after Democrats took another hit. North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan saying he won't run in the fall either. Our Dana Bash joins us now on the line from Washington.

Dana, what led to Senator Dodd's decision not to seek re- election? DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): A very, very tough re-election battle ahead, that's really the bottom line on this, John.

Look, as you know, Senator Chris Dodd has made the United States Senate his life. As he said, he's been in the Senate for three decades, but he has had a series of very, very tough political battles.

In Connecticut, starting with the fact that he moved to Iowa to run for president with his wife and his two small children, that's when Connecticut voters started to turn on him. Then the fact that he is the Senate banking chairman and obviously Wall Street went south. There's been a lot of attention paid to the fact that he has close ties with the banking community. And so all of those things, combined with the fact that it is just not a good potential year for Democrats made Senator Dodd decide finally to retire and not run again.

ROBERTS: So what does this mean for Democrats in terms of their chances in the 2010 election? Do they have a good solid candidate who could replace Dodd? And what does it also mean, Dana, for the president's agenda?

BASH: Yes, I mean, that's a good question. When it comes to Connecticut, you would think that this would be a bad sign for Democrats. But actually, because Senator Dodd was in such bad shape and so endangered, they're actually pretty happy, I think it's fair to say, in the Democratic Party because they do have a good potential candidate. The attorney general of Connecticut is somebody that they think can help keep the seat in Connecticut in Democratic hands.

You mentioned earlier another retirement yesterday, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. That's more of a red state. That is more of a danger zone for Democrats in terms of keeping that seat. And what it means for Democrats broadly and President Obama is that it is potentially more clear that Democrats' 60-seat majority, which is very important to them in terms of passing the president's agenda is in serious danger because there are several other seats including the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who are in trouble this coming year, this coming November, John.

ROBERTS: And so the midterm election year begins. Dana Bash in the line with us this morning from Washington. Dana, thanks.

BASH: Thank you.

CHETRY: President Obama promising tougher airline security after Nigerian terrorist nearly blew up a commercial airliner over Detroit Christmas Day putting hundreds of Americans in danger. The president blasted its national security team during a meeting yesterday saying the attempted attack was, quote, "a screw-up" and the problem isn't collecting intelligence but a failure to communicate.

Suzanne Malveaux is live in Washington on our security watch this morning.

Good morning, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Kiran. You know, the president, he's under a lot of pressure to show that he's addressing the security failures seriously.

A senior administration official who I spoke with said that when the president met with the security team in the situation room, he said that the terror attack was averted by brave people, not because the system worked. And he said it's not acceptable. He says there's also going to be a tendency for people to fingerpoint. He says he's not tolerating that, that there is plenty of blame to go around.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): The president left no doubt the government knew everything it needed to stop the attempted terror attack, but did not do its job.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots. That's not acceptable and I will not tolerate it.

MALVEAUX: The president, even more direct behind closed doors, calling it a screw-up and telling top security officials that they barely dodged a bullet.

OBAMA: When a suspected terrorist is able to board a plane with explosives on Christmas Day, the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way.

MALVEAUX: The president also revealing new lapses, saying for the first time that the government knew extremists in Yemen were targeting America at home.

OBAMA: It now turns out that our intelligence community knew of other red flags, that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula sought to strike not only American targets in Yemen but the United States itself.

MALVEAUX: Facing criticism, the president promised to do better and do it quickly, ordering his security team to complete detailed reviews this week, and saying new security measures would be announced within days. And for now, that security team is intact. No one fired, and no one offering to resign. But some key players are feeling the pressure.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael Leiter, and CIA Director Leon Panetta. For now, the president is not answering questions about their future and the White House only saying that he remains confident in his team.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX: And, Kiran, I asked the president after a statement whether he thought anyone should lose their job over these gross failures that he's been talking about. He did not respond, but his aides are telling me that he's going to hold the cabinet accountable to making these kinds of changes and reforms that they discussed regarding security. But, Kiran, as you know, there's a lot more that we have to learn about what kind of measures they're actually talking about.

CHETRY: Suzanne for us this morning at the White House. Thanks. -- our D.C. bureau. Thanks so much.

A little bit later in the hour, by the way, 6:30 Eastern, we're going to bespeaking with terror expert Paul Cruickshank. He's going to be joining us to talk about how terror groups like Al Qaeda are using the Internet to help radicalize and recruit new members.

ROBERTS: Stunning new developments in the security breach at Newark Liberty International Airport to tell you about. It turns out when the identified man entered a secure area without being screened, the security cameras weren't recording. The failure in the front line of defense leading to hours of delays and chaos on Sunday night.

Our Susan Candiotti is live at Newark International Airport this morning. And, Susan, that might seem like an obvious question but I'm something of a master of the obvious, so how in the heck did this happen?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what we all want to know, right? The cameras were rolling but not recording, so you have to wonder how could did this happen and why is it that we're only finding out about this two days after that incident.

The TSA and the Port Authority admit that when a man breached security at Newark International Airport on Sunday night they had no way of immediately reviewing the tapes. And, of course, TSA failed to mention that when they were talking to reporters about that on Sunday night.

It turns out, in fact, that they had to scramble to Continental Airlines to ask for their camera video of what happened. The situation, of course, shutting down all the flights and they eventually had to re-screen all the passengers, and that took hours and hours. The TSA says, yes, well, we fund those cameras, but it's up to the TSA --it is up to rather the Port Authority to review those cams, to install them and maintain them. That's their job.

Well, the TSA also added this in the form of a statement. It said, quote, "After reviewing the circumstances and meeting with the Port Authority surrounding the breach, the TSA has volunteered to check the surveillance cameras on a daily basis to ensure consistent operations."

Well, we in turn turn to our CNN national security consultant, Fran Townsend, who weighed in with a lot of questions of her own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCFES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: This is another one of those security failures where what we need to know are the facts and the chronology of when did they stop working, when were people notified, and who failed to take responsibility for correcting what is a very serious problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Now, the Port Authority we have heard nothing from them about what they have to say about this, whether in fact they acknowledge that it was their job to review those tapes. We can tell you that it is up to generally all the authorities there to find out exactly what happened, and they have made some changes at the airport already as a result of this. They moved the personnel closer to that -- farther away from the security checkpoint to get a better view of it, and the officer who was assigned to that particular spot has been reassigned to desk duties -- John.

ROBERTS: I guess only one word really to describe what happened there, stunning. Susan Candiotti for us this morning at Liberty airport. Susan, thanks so much. Wow.

CHETRY: I know. They had to get Continental Airlines to get those cameras.

ROBERTS: And explain it.

CHETRY: It's a mess. It certainly is.

Well, it's nine minutes past the hour right now. We're looking at a second push of bitter cold air coming our way. We get a check of this morning's weather headlines with Rob Marciano in the extreme weather center.

So we're talking snow in some places that probably don't see it this time of year, or ever.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. We're going to bring in some snow into the mix. Here it is on the radar, so we'll get right to it.

Across the upper Midwest, this is the leading edge of the next batch of cold air which is forecast to be colder than the last batch and that doesn't bode well for folks across the southeast who have already been suffering with a multi-day cold snap.

This morning, temperatures below freezing again in Atlanta, and the teens Savannah. Near freezing again in Florida and Tampa, and the wind chill certainly in the single numbers. And this is going to be the warmer day of the next three. We'll talk about how cold and how much snow is expected in about 30 minutes.

John, Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: All right, Rob. Thanks so much. You know, one group of people that are really suffering because of this are Florida citrus growers. They're dealing with a lot of trouble. Their crops hanging in the balance. We're going to have much more on what's going on with them as they deal with ways to try to protect their crops and what could be the longest cold streak in years.

Ten minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's 12-and-a-half minutes after the hour, and a quick check of other stories this morning.

The double agent who killed seven CIA employees in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan reportedly gave the agency information that led to a number of missile strikes on Al Qaeda leaders. And a former U.S. intelligence official says that actually helped establish the Jordanian doctor's credibility. But last week he got on the compound in Afghanistan without being checked by security and blew himself up. He claimed to have had new information on Osama bin Laden's top deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

CHETRY: And a third party crasher at November's White House state dinner is a Washington, D.C. event planner who got into the party by tagging along with members of India's delegation. The attorney for Carlos Allen confirmed that his client is being investigated by the Secret Service. Several networks have been reporting that the man in this still picture is Allen. CNN has not been able to independently confirm that.

ROBERTS: Well, parts of the country are dealing with a record- breaking cold snap. And while you may sigh for a high of 85 that has folks in Florida shivering and citrus farmers at death con one (ph). The governor signed an emergency order to help protect the crop during what could be the longest cold streak in years.

Our John Zarrella is braving the cold for us this morning live from Vero Beach. John, just how cold is it this morning?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, when you talk to the citrus growers and farmers here in the state of Florida, they'll tell you they have not seen cold weather this cold for this prolonged period of time in at least 20 years. You've got to go back to the mid, the late 1980s to see these kinds of temperatures.

We're here in a family-owned grove in Vero Beach where they've been watching the temperature all night. In fact, we've got a thermometer here and I'll put it out for you. And you can probably see it reads 30 degrees. Actually, that's pretty good news for the farmers and growers. But all over the state, people are suffering with these temperatures.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA (voice-over): There is plenty of sunshine in Florida. The problem is right now it's not throwing much heat. For folks here not used to the sub 60s, it's downright miserable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got layers, layers. I'm freezing.

ZARRELLA: The brisk air has a tendency to get people moving at a brisker pace. For the most part the beaches were empty, although there's always someone who wants you to believe it's really true, the water is warmer than the air.

Of course, everything is relative. If you're in town from Iowa for the College Bowl game, this is like summer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You Florida people don't know cold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, don't know cold. It's minus 3 in our hometown of Sheridan, so it's still 40 - 60 degrees warmer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's 60 degrees warmer here. We love it.

ZARRELLA: Yes. And when you leave, take the cold with you. State farmers and growers would like that more than just about anyone.

ZARRELLA (on camera): Still have a heck of a lot of fruit that could be damaged.

LOUIS SCHACHT, SCHACHT GROVES: Definitely. I mean, the honeybells, this is the prime time year for them. People love to ship them north.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Louis Schacht's family has been growing citrus in Vero Beach for 60 years. It's a small family operation. They've done what they can to protect the crop. Flooding the ground between each row of trees will keep the temperature up a couple of degrees. That's all it might take to save the fruit.

SCHACHT: If it stays, you know, just above freezing, it - it can really help sweeten the fruit and be fine and really tie the season a little bit farther for us. But, you know, it's a fine line to walk. If it gets too cold, then you could definitely have some damage.

ZARRELLA: The feared number is 28 degrees. Below that for more than four hours would freeze the fruit right on the trees and could wreck Florida's $9 billion a year citrus industry.

Strawberry growers are not in a good place either. The fields have been watered to allow an insulating coat of ice to form over the tender berries.

VICKIE BECK, ANDREW'S SOD AND STRAWBERRY FARM: Nothing you do but try to do your best and protect them and make the best out of it and say a few prayers to watch over them and keep going.

ZARRELLA: Perhaps a lot of prayers. Even colder temperatures are expected by the weekend.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: John, I've got one of these honeybells. I just picked it off the tree. I'm going to slice it open real quick here. You can probably see all that juice coming out of it. That's good news, too, because that means the fruit has not frozen. You can see, a lot of good Florida orange juice. And that's the hope, that they could get through today.

But, again, the weekend may be even worse and closer to some real, real difficult temperatures they're going to have to deal with - John.

ROBERTS: A lot of people probably saying a lot of prayers this morning. John Zarrella for us in Vero Beach. John, thanks.

CHETRY: Yes. Well, still ahead, Stephanie Elam is going to be "Minding Your Business." She has a look at the best and worst jobs of 2010.

Seventeen minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Twenty minutes after the hour now. That means it's time to "Mind Your Business" this morning.

Get out your 3-D glasses, because ESPN says it will begin showing live sports in 3-D beginning in June, and Discovery teaming up with Sony and IMAX and will broadcast in 3-D in 2011. The cost will be similar to high-def cable packages. What an experience (ph).

CHETRY: What, you'll just sit on your couch with your 3-D glasses on and watch football?

ROBERTS: Or you're watching baseball, put glove on because you might pitch (ph).

CHETRY: Exactly.

Well, if you hate your job, apparently you're not alone. Despite high unemployment rates, there's a new survey out finding that only 45 percent of Americans say they're satisfied at work. It is the lowest level recorded in more than 22 years. Researchers say the drop can be partly blamed on low wages and the high cost of health insurance.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Elam is here, "Minding Your Business" this morning, and you're telling us about some of the best jobs and the worst in 2010.

STEPHANIE ELAM: Yes, that's right. We're going to take a look at both sides here. None of our jobs are on the list, just so you know, in case you were wondering. But...

ROBERTS: They never are.

ELAM: Yes, they never are, right? But if you're taking a look at the best jobs, you might want to brush up on your Math, Science and computer skills, because those really are ruling the roost here for the top jobs.

We're thinking about the majority of the people in the category, and we're looking for things that show good health, low stress, a pleasant work environment and also, obviously, solid income and good growth potential. So let's take a look at them. They're not necessarily the sexiest jobs out there. They're not necessarily the highest paying, but they're solid jobs, so let's go ahead and show you.

Actuary is number one. That's a - a person who evaluates financial risk, the impact of that on companies. Number one job. Low stress, low physical demand, making $85,000 a year.

Then software engineer, same place as well. It was really boosted by its hiring outlook. It's the best hiring outlook for all of the jobs, all of the 200 jobs that CareerCast looked at for this category.

Then you got the computer system analyst, and a biologist and also historian, which is - actually has really good ratings for work environment, and, on top of it, there's some demands in the government for that position, so that also helps it out.

There, now, if we're going to move from there, we got to also take a look at the worst list, and on the worst list, you can see roustabout is number one, which I am - I'm going to tell you the truth, I had to look that up.

ROBERTS: Do not join the circus.

ELAM: It is not the circus. That's not the one. It's not circus one.

ROBERTS: Oh, it's not? (INAUDIBLE)?

ELAM: It's the person who has to go out and deal with all the oil rigs and take care of that and making sure the pipes are working. Out, like, offshore. Yes.

CHETRY: Dangerous and...

ELAM: Very dangerous. So if you look at a lot of the worst jobs, you're talking about high risk of injury, you're talking about low salary, you're looking at long hours, isolation on top of it, and lack of advancement opportunities.

So you've got roustabout's number one. Lumber jack, obviously dangerous. Ironworker, same thing. Dairy farmer and welder. So a lot of these positions are showing that there's a lot of stress.

CHETRY: Jennifer Beals made it look so...

ELAM: She did. She made it look kind of hot.

CHETRY: ... attractive and (INAUDIBLE).

ELAM: Maybe it was the legwarmers. But the stress, the working environment, physical demands, income and hiring outlook, that's how the decided which 200 jobs were ranking (ph).

ROBERTS: But don't join the circus anyways, right?

ELAM: Yes, the circus I think can still be pretty dangerous. I mean, getting one of those animals going, it could be...

ROBERTS: Stephanie Elam this morning, "Minding Your Business." Thanks.

ELAM: Sure.

CHETRY: Many reasons not to join the circus.

ELAM: The clowns are still scary.

ROBERTS: You're a little weird (ph).

ELAM: Yes.

ROBERTS: You've seen him on television a lot lately. You've heard about him a lot. He's a holdover from the Bush administration. Just who is President Bush - President Obama's counterterrorism tsar, John Brennan? We'll tell you, coming up next.

It's 24 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Twenty- six minutes past the hour. That means it's time for an "AM Original."

ROBERTS: Do you know this man? His name is John Brennan. He's a former top-ranking CIA official who suddenly finds himself front and center in the fight against al Qaeda.

Our Jim Acosta is live in Washington this morning with a closer look at John Brennan. He - he certainly does seem, Jim, to have the unwavering trust of the president. He's put a lot of faith in him.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He really does, John. You mentioned that he's been in front of the cameras a lot lately. He's been in Washington way before that, John and Kiran, and understanding the president's approach to combating al Qaeda means getting to know the man who is described as Mr. Obama's general on counterterrorism, John Brennan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE SR. COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: How you define a problem shapes how you address it.

ACOSTA (voice-over): For John Brennan, President Obama's top adviser on counterterrorism, words matter.

BRENNAN: We are at war with al Qaeda, which attacked us on 9/11 and killed 3,000 people.

ACOSTA: In a speech last summer, Brennan drew rhetorical lines in the sand, defining what the Obama administration calls its war against al Qaeda and explaining why this new White House no longer uses the Bush-era term, "War on Terror."

BRENNAN: The president does not describe this as a war on terrorism. That is because terrorism is but a tactic, a means to an end.

ACOSTA: It's an approach that counterterrorism experts say is more realistic and perhaps more effective.

RICK NELSON, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: There will always be terrorism, and if we're going to fight this, there's no end and - and we don't want that. What we want to do is defeat al Qaeda and reduce the threat of terrorism.

ACOSTA: During the Bush administration, Brennan lead the nation's counterterrorism center after a 25-year career at the CIA that ended with a stint as chief of staff to former director George Tenet.

Brennan remembers reading that infamous presidential daily briefing in August 2001 entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US" one month before 9/11. He knows the intelligence community's failures because he lived through them.

BRENNAN: Organizational and informational sharing status quo that existed on September 11th, 2001 was inadequate to safeguard America.

ACOSTA: When US officials learned of a potential threat against President Obama's inauguration, Brennan was central in determined whether it was safe for the ceremony to go on.

OBAMA: John has the experience, vision and integrity to advance America's security.

ACOSTA: Brennan was tapped to come to the White House only after being mentioned as a possible director of the CIA, a move that had Bush administration critics cringing.

PROF. JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: John Brennan was the first indication that Obama was not going to change the most controversial policies of the Bush administration.

ACOSTA: John Brennan now has the task of fixing a counterterrorism system he helped create, a system the president said failed on Christmas Day.

NELSON: Almost all of the failures, I would state, on the Christmas Day attack are - have nothing to do with necessarily the political leaders in place. We have a lot more work to do at the bureaucratic level to get where - where we need to be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: As one White House official puts it, Brennan is a "just the facts" guy who President Obama trusts after that failed al Qaeda plot to blow up Flight 253. Brennan was on the phone with the president multiple times a day. Brennan, that spokesman said, did not have much of a Christmas - John and Kiran.

ROBERTS: I'm sure he didn't. Neither did a lot of people, I guess, in the intelligence agencies. Jim Acosta this morning. Jim, thanks.

Coming up in the half hour, that means it's time for this morning's top stories. Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd says he will not seek a sixth term in November. CNN has learned that he'll be retiring instead. An official announcement is expected later on today.

Yesterday, Democrats suffered another blow when North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan said he wouldn't be seeking re-election either.

CHETRY: Well, there are new details of yet another security breakdown, this one again at Newark Airport outside of New York, one of the airports that the 9/11 hijackers slipped through. It turns out that the man who went around the checkpoint over the weekend brought an entire terminal to a standstill was never caught or questioned because security cameras weren't recording.

The TSA in fact only learned of the incident thanks to a bystander who was waiting in the passenger pick up area and noticed the man walking the wrong way into a secure area. Well now there's finger pointing going on between the TSA which paid for the cameras and the Port Authority which installed them.

ROBERTS: States already dealing with a dangerous and deadly cold snap are facing more frigid weather today. The deep freeze is already responsible for five deaths. Our Rob Marciano says it's not going to warm up any time soon either he's tracking the extreme cold for us and he will be joining us in about 20 minutes time.

CHETRY: Islamic extremists turning to the web, terror briefs now using the internet to radicalize and recruit around the world. In fact the suspect in the attempted Christmas bombing as well as the accused Ft. Hood shooter and the Virginia teens arrested in Pakistan all with apparent ties to extremist clerics online. In this morning's "Security Watch" we get a closer look at how technology is changing the way terrorists operate. Terror expert Paul Cruickshank, an alumni fellow at the NYU Center on law and security, joins us this morning from Brussels, Belgium. Paul great to have you with us.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, TERRORISM EXPERT: Good morning, Kiran.

CHETRY: Let's talk about this common thread in these recent cases, the communications between the alleged suspects and this radical Islamic clerics online. Explain how these tactics are changing when it comes to both recruitment and also radicalization.

CRUICKSHANK: Well, there is this common thread, which is sort of the internet radicalization. In the old days al Qaeda used to use audio cassettes to get their message out. There's been a whole leap in technology and now there's been a social media revolution and al Qaeda is taking full advantage, they are using sites like youtube, myspace to get their message out.

But they are also using these sites to interact with potential recruits, identify them and then lure them into this violent path. That does seem to be the trajectory with Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, and Abdulmutallab the Detroit bomber. Both had contact with Anwar al Awlaki, the cleric now based in Yemen, who has championed this online messaging.

CHETRY: Let's talk about him for a minute, Anwar Awlaki. As you said he's an American Muslim with Yemeni ties, his family is from Yemen but he grew up in New Mexico. Investigators have linked as you said to Nidal Hasan charged with killing his fellow soldiers at the Ft. Hood rampage and also al Awlaki operates now out of Yemen and has global reach. So he's an example of just how tough it is to fight this. What can military or law enforcement do in the case of Awlaki who are is operating out of Yemen?

CRUICKSHANK: It's difficult to shut down these sites they post their messages on. There's a first amendment right of freedom of expression, so it's very difficult to shut the sites down. The United States is now working together with Yemeni authorities to go after Mr. Al Awlaki and other people in Yemen who have links to al Qaeda and seem to be linked to some recent plots against the United States.

CHETRY: The other question is, if al Qaeda can reach these areas, never reached before and they can, as you said, also sort of identify people that would potentially be willing to carry out attacks, how does our intelligence community adapt to that?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, they have to adapt to it. One of the reasons you have growing radicalization in the United States is because of the internet. These radical preachers in the Middle East and Europe are able to reach out to radical-leaning young Muslims in the United States and radicalize them on the internet, recruit them on the internet.

Law enforcement is having to get very wise to this, having to monitor these sites much more, trying to shut down some of the worst sites. But it's a challenge they face every day, Kiran. Unfortunately, the terrorists are also one step ahead of the law enforcement here.

CHETRY: In this case, one American counterterrorism official described Awlaki as basically a talent spotter, among other things, being able to help not only radicalize but then to pass these people who have contacted him along to trainers and operational planners. When you take a look at how this is changing, do laws need to change in a way? You talked about first amendment rights and other things, yet when you look at the way, let's take for instance child pornography is sort of policed, you can get in trouble for just accessing sites. Can you do the same with terror sites?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, it's very, very difficult, because the first amendment is a very strong protection, a freedom of speech. It's right that that should be there. But there is a problem, we saw recently a Pakistani recruiter reaching out to five Americans in Virginia and actually identifying them on YouTube and bringing them over to Pakistan, and they've recently been charged in Pakistan with plotting to launch terrorist attacks. So there's a real, real problem of internet radicalization. The authorities don't really have many good options in terms of combating it, Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, and that's something that, you know, I understand that they've really been trying to take a look at. In the case of the CIA double agent situation, the seven CIA operatives that were killed in Afghanistan. Also the person that they trusted that was brought to them by the Jordanian intelligence service apparently also was one of, what some say, the top five inspiration Jihadis online. You can see just how big of an impact at least in these terrorist instances that we have been talking about over the past few months has had when it comes to the internet and the ability of those on the internet to connect with others.

CRUICKSHANK: That's absolutely right. Bin laden told the head of the Taliban in the '90s that 90 percent of this battle was propaganda, it was in the media. This Jordanian does seem to have taken his own battle online, trying to persuade radical-leaning, young Muslims around the world to join al Qaeda's cause. Al Qaeda is only as powerful as the number of recruits it can bring into its ranks for attacks. Online is very important now to those efforts, Kiran.

CHETRY: Paul Cruickshank, for us terror expert and fellow at NYU Center on law security from Brussels this morning, thanks.

CRUICKSHANK: Thank you.

ROBERTS: The government of Yemen is cracking down on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Three al Qaeda leaders have been arrested. We are going to go live using the global resources of CNN, Paula Newton is there and we'll get the very latest on the ground from her. It is 37 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": President Obama spent the day talking to officials about airline security. One of the things they're doing is adding dozens of names to the no-fly list. Hello, have you tried flying out of Newark? We're all on the no-fly list.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Forty minutes after the hour. We're learning more about Abdulmutallab's plot to bomb a Northwest Airlines flight this morning, investigators say the suspect in the attempted Christmas bombing was already carrying explosives when he flew from Nigeria into Amsterdam and he raised no red flags after an interview with airport security and there was no evidence found that he met with any accomplices at the Amsterdam Airport.

CHETRY: Experts say full-body scanners may have been able to stop the suspect in the failed Christmas bombing tempt from ever getting on that plane in Amsterdam. Now Canada says it will begin using the machines by the end of the month. Officials also say there will be a new airport watch system for flagging suspicious passengers for enhanced screening. Britain, Nigeria and the Netherlands also already announcing plans for body scanners as well.

ROBERTS: Well breaking news out of Yemen to tell you about this morning. Three suspected al Qaeda militants are in custody in Yemen linked to a plot against attacks on western embassies in Yemen.

CHETRY: Yes, it is the latest move in the new offensive against al Qaeda in that nation. Paula Newton is live in Sanaa, Yemen with the latest details for us this morning. Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, you know, the city is on a hair trigger, and they are aware that there may still be more threats coming from outside the capital. But right now they're doing the best they can to try and secure Sanaa, especially for those foreign targets, still incredibly vulnerable within this capital. What is going on now is with the help of U.S. intelligence, they're trying to go after the al Qaeda leaders. They are not clear, the government right now, and cannot confirm to us as to whether the three in custody does include a top leader.

The government says they confided to me that, look, we are struggling to cope. They are happy that the United States and other allies are paying attention, but they are very specific. They say, we need to take this on ourselves, with the help of the Americans and their allies, but they want to be able to do it themselves. What they're trying to do now is prove that they can single out those threats and neutralize them before they are a threat to the foreigners and anyone here in the capital or elsewhere. Kiran.

CHETRY: Talk about a delicate balance, correct with trying to make sure that they're using the United States as an ally but not appearing to side with the United States too much, because of popular opinion there.

NEWTON: Absolutely. It is deeply anti-American. I was just out for a little while and spoke with just a few people and I saw the deep anti-Americanism here a year and a half ago, it does not seem to have changed. In fact these air strikes that have been conducted by the Yemeni government have exacerbated the anti-Americanism. This must be a very subtle, sensitive approach in terms of what the United States and its allies do in this country.

Yet everyone is convinced now something must be done. We were talking about the explosives that Abdulmutallab had to get on the plane. What we're trying to track now is where did that come from; the authorities here believe it's most likely it did come from here. CHETRY: Paula Newton for us in Sanaa, Yemen, this morning, thank you.

ROBERTS: Forty three minutes after the hour. Our Rob Marciano is going to head this morning travel forecast right after the break.

CHETRY: Also coming up in just ten minutes, a lot of people may have let themselves go during the holidays. There's this one website for beautiful people, that's their description. They've dumped hundreds of members because of letting themselves go over the holidays. Jeanne Moos has the story.

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ROBERTS: Good morning, Chicago. It's actually coming up on 6:00 a.m. It's 14 degrees right now. It feels like it's 2. Later on today, it's going to be 22 degrees and partly cloudy. Windy City is a cold city today. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

It's now 46 minutes after the hour. That means it's time for your AM House Call, stories about your health. Researchers say a DNA test can identify newborns with T-cell lymphopenia; that's a blood disorder affects the immune system. Infants with T-cell lymphopenia often appear normal and are not diagnosed until life-threatening infections occur.

Disturbing information out today about the physical impact of emotional trauma for children. Researchers say kids who endure abuse or witness violence suffer damage to a part of the brain that stores and retrieves memories, and this can explain why extremely stressed kids can isolate themselves from others and perform poorly in school as well.

And soy appears to be safe and potentially even beneficial for women who beat breast cancer. A Chinese study found former cancer patients who ate soy daily had a lower risk of dying. Soy contains the hormone estrogen, and there has been concern that it might increase a woman's risk of developing another tumor, so again, we talk about phytoestrogens in the environment and the soy that come from other sources as well, but it would seem, at least, according to this study that it's safe to eat soy if you have breast cancer or have a risk of breast cancer in the family.

CHETRY: Some doctors say that even though they appear to be the same components, they don't necessarily do the same things in the body, phytoestrogens versus --

ROBERTS: The pesticides and phytoestrogens are really the ones you have to watch.

CHETRY: Yes. Meanwhile, it is 47 minutes past the hour. We are going to check the weather headlines this morning. Our Rob Marciano in the Extreme Weather Center. You know, poor John Zarrella, he is out there, the citrus growers have their fingers crossed that things are going to be okay for them. He cut that orange in half as you saw, still juicy. ROBERTS: Yes.

CHETRY: But they have their fingers crossed.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it looked good. Those oranges looked real nice and ripe and, well, orange, so they definitely want to save that crop as it gets closer to harvest. It will be dicey, especially if we get towards the weekend. This is the leading edge of the next batch of cold air. Obviously, some snow West of Minneapolis in through South Dakota and Nebraska, not a ton of snow with this, but in some cases, we could see two just -- in the most extreme cases, six inches of snow, so that's not really the big story.

The bigger story is the cold air where again it is sub freezing in Atlanta, into the Teens (ph) this morning, 18 degrees, 26 degrees in Savannah, and look at Tampa, down to 31 now, so you go inland areas and even further down to the South, and then we got temperatures that are at or slightly below freezing, and this next air mass that's coming through will probably be another two to five degrees colder this weekend in Florida, so that's where they're really going to have their hands full.

It might be this thing where just the duration of that length of cold just kind of wearing these farmers out as they battle the overnight temperatures. Look at the wind chills, 6 degrees right now as what it feels like in Atlanta, feels like 17 in Mobile, feels like 26 in New Orleans, feels like 17 in Tampa, and Miami. South Beach feels like 35 degrees right now is the wind chill there and so those tourist spending off (ph). Today's days on highs will be in the Teens (ph) across the upper Midwest, but again, the leading edge of the cold there back around Billings will be 9.

The real core of the cold air not really getting to the New York area. You guys are right around the freezing mark, not terribly cold. This is where it is, and this is pretty much where it will stay across the Tennessee Valley and then down across the mid-South, driving south towards New Orleans, so how much colder will it be compared to the this last system?

Down Florida, 2 to 5 degrees colder, but in some case, five to 10 degrees colder in this last batch; 20 to 30 degrees below average is what we expect across parts of Iowa, in through Missouri and then south towards the mid-South as well. Places like Memphis could see a couple of inches of snow. We've had fatalities across parts of Tennessee because of this cold. Today, actually, will be the warmest day of the next several.

A quick shot of what -- scenes across the south, Atlanta, Georgia, a fountain frozen in time, and there has been number of reports of water main breaks in many cities and with some freezing temperatures that obviously creates a bit of an issue there, so an ongoing battle in --.

You know, we're not breaking a lot of low temperature records, John and Kiran, but again, just the number of days that we're seeing the successive cold snap is what's alarming, and certainly, if you work outside or in some cases have to sleep outside, it's a dangerous option.

ROBERTS: Okay.

MARCIANO: Back to you guys.

ROBERTS: Even getting out to the subway is a little chilly.

MARCIANO: Yes, exactly.

ROBERTS: So, I mean, the fountain was beautiful, Rob, but I guess it did cause problems in terms of bursting water pipes, but the cold, you said, is going to stay in the midsection of the country for now. Will it eventually move east or might just dip down and recede back up?

MARCIANO: The next batch actually coming down will be a little bit farther to the East Coast, so we're in this pattern where we get successive reinforcing shots of cold air. The last two have been more Midwest; the next one will come this weekend into the beginning of next week; that will be more northeast, so you guys aren't going to get out of it totally. Keep the winter coat handy.

ROBERTS: Rob, thanks so much.

This morning's top stories just minutes away now, including breaking news from Capitol Hill. Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd to announce that he will not run for re-election in November. He's the second Democrat to say as much shame (ph) as many days. What does this mean for the Democrats' reign in the senate? We will have a full announcement just ahead.

CHETRY: At 07:02 eastern, big changes in how the U.S. tracks terrorists. The U.S. making it easier to put a suspect on the no-fly list, the change that maybe would have caught Abdul Mutallab before he boarded on Christmas day flight.

ROBERTS: And then at 07:25 eastern, helping seniors or helping themselves, a closer look at AARP's full court press for health reform. Those stories and more coming your way beginning at the top of the hour.

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CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Fifty- four minutes after the hour right now, so if you put on a few pounds over the holidays, you're not alone, but come on, who didn't? If you did though there's one place where you may no longer be welcome.

ROBERTS: A dating Web site devoted to beautiful people are showing thousands of so-called festive fatties the virtual door. Our Jeanne Moos sizes up the story this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine you're a beautiful person on the dating Web site called BeautifulPeople, and all that holiday food was just too beautiful to resist and you gained a few pounds.

UNKNOWN MALE: We've had over 5,000 of our newly-chubby members who have been removed from the site.

MOOS: 5,000 members dumped like a second helping. In the words of the founder of BeautifulPeople, letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: It's a very ugly thing that they're doing. It's hideous.

MOOS: You can only become a member of BeautifulPeople if existing members of the opposite sex vote you on.

You probably think this website is about you.

Maybe both eyes, that's how we began a piece we did five years ago about the site.

MOOS (on-camera): What we need is a guinea pig, not him, me.

MOOS (voice-over): But despite our best efforts --

UNKNOWN MALE: Excellent.

MOOS: The photo I submitted was rejected. I didn't stack up.

MOOS (on-camera): At least I'm not alone. Four out of five applicants are rejected By BeautifulPeople.

MOOS (voice-over): Let them eat cake. Wait, better not eat any cake now that they say they're shedding beautiful people who packed on a few pounds. Members supposedly complained when they'd meet the actual person.

UNKNOWN MALE: And they hadn't looked as they'd represented themselves in their initial pictures.

MOOS: That's a shocker, huh?

UNKNOWN MALE: Yes.

UNKNOWN MALE: It is at least as yes to this because our members want it to be.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: This is insulting.

MOOS: Mia Amber Davis (ph) is a plus-size model who sees no pluses in this.

MOOS (on-camera): As you look at the BeautifulPeople, is there anything you would like to say to the BeautifulPeople?

MIA AMBER DAVIS (ph): They all deserve each other. Get a life.

MOOS (voice-over): She and we wonder if it could all be just a publicity stunt. Co-Founder Greg Hodge says no. When he looks in the mirror, he sees this, a 7.84.

MOOS (on-camera): How do you look at yourself in the mirror every morning when this is the kind of superficial thing you do?

UNKNOWN MALE: Look, is it politically correct? No, it's not. It's certainly very honest. People want to be with people they're attracted to.

MOOS (voice-over): Those kicked off the site can re-apply to be voted back on. But you'd think even a guinea pig wouldn't be a glutton for punishment.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: No, that guinea pig was a 9.

CHETRY: There you go. It's definitely 0.85 when we get rating result, but apparently, it's the other members and have to be opposite sex members who vote on whether you stay or go.

ROBERTS: You know what? It's shallow, it's vapid, who cares?

(LAUGHTER)

CHETRY: All right. Your top stories are coming up just 90 seconds away. Fifty-seven minutes past the hour.

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