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Christmas Bomber to be Arraigned for Multiple Counts of Attempted Murder; President Calls for Stronger Security Measures; NBC Rumored to Move Jay Leno Back to Old Timeslot; Plot Thickens on AIG Controversy; Turning White Collars Blue

Aired January 8, 2010 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to "AMERICAN MORNING," 7:00 on the nose here in New York this morning on this Friday, January 8th. Glad you're with us, I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks for being with us today, and here are this morning's top stories.

In just a few hours Nigerian terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab makes his first court appearance in Michigan. He is facing six felony counts for allegedly trying to blow up a packed U.S. airliner on Christmas Day. We're got a live report just ahead.

CHETRY: Two-thirds of the country now in the grip of bone- chilling cold. In fact, the nation hasn't experienced a deep freeze like the one we're in now in 25 years, and in many places the weather is actually going to get worse before it gets better just in time for the weekend.

ROBERTS: And major change is coming to NBC's late night. It appears that Jay Leno may be heading back to the timeslot where he long reigned. See who's pushing the hardest to yank Leno and where this could leave the current "Tonight Show" host Conan O'Brien.

First, though, it is arraignment day for the accused Christmas Day plane bomber. Twenty-three-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab will appear in court this afternoon for the first time. He's facing six felony counts, including the attempted murder of nearly 300 people on that northwest airlines flight.

Our Deborah Feyerick is digging deeper into the terror plot live outside of the courthouse this morning in Detroit. Good morning, Deb.


Well, that 23-year-old graduate student is going to make his way here to the federal court in Detroit. He's going to be under heavy guard. He is scheduled to be arraigned. Also there will be a detention hearing. He's going to be remitted by one of Michigan's top lawyers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The smiling face of 23- year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is framed by the Islamist flag of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The group claims responsibility for the failed Christmas Day attack, which targeted a U.S. jetliner and which ultimately underscored serious flaws in U.S. airline security.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The system has failed in a potentially disastrous way.

FEYERICK: Authorities say the Nigerian graduate student smuggled the bomb on board the nine-hour flight from Amsterdam, hiding it in his underwear, attempting to detonate it on the plane's final approach to Detroit.

RICK NELSON, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: One thing Al Qaeda is very good at is recruiting and finding individuals that are susceptible to its radical ideology. They will be patient until they find the right individual that they feel has the access to be able to get on airliners to perpetrate an attack.

FEYERICK: Where and when Abdulmutallab became radicalized is still under investigation. But here is what authorities know so far -- Abdulmutallab applied for a multi-entry U.S. visa in London the summer of 2008 after graduating university there. Though he wanted to study in Cairo or Saudi Arabia, his parents sent him to Dubai.

In August, something changed. According to a family source, Abdulmutallab text messaged his parents to say he was leaving for Yemen to pursue the course of Islam. Two weeks before his flight from Amsterdam, Abdulmutallab was in Ghana where he allegedly paid $2,100 in cash for a round trip flight from Nigeria to Detroit.

He left Christmas Eve, transiting through Amsterdam, before flying to the U.S. with only a shoulder bag. When he was arrested, he allegedly told federal agents Yemen is where he got the device and instructions on how to use it.

Though his father did go to the U.S. embassy in Nigeria in November, fearing his son had come under radical influences, the information was not circulated among federal agencies, and Abdulmutallab was never put on a no-fly list.

MARK FALLON, SENIOR VP, THE SOUFAN GROUP: I think Al Qaeda has really done a phenomenal job at their psychological operations. I think that for their recruiting, they need to show some successes, and I think the fact that the disruption that they caused our system for them is a win, because it shows that the David can once again throw rocks at the Goliath here.


FEYERICK: Now, Abdulmutallab has been recovering from second and third-degree wounds that he received when tried to detonate that explosive device. He is facing some charges of attempted murder, trying to kill some 300 people on board that plane. What makes this so interesting is this is the first time that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has actually hit a U.S. interest outside its normal area of operations. All of that is going to be under investigation, and clearly all of that is going to impact the argument that prosecutors make as to why he should be detained. Kiran?

CHETRY: All right, so we'll be watching that for sure with you, Deb, throughout the day. Thanks so much.

Also coming up at 7:30 Eastern, we'll be talking with two men experienced in terror trials, retired Navy JAG Charles Swift, and also former U.S. attorney David Kelley.

ROBERTS: President Obama saying the buck stops with him. He is taking the blame for a system wide failure that allowed a man with a bomb to board that plane on Christmas day. A report he released yesterday said the government had all the information it needed to stop the plot, but never put it all together.


OBAMA: The U.S. government had the information scattered throughout the system to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had.


ROBERTS: Now he has ordered every agency to make changes and make them fast.

Our Ed Henry is on the security watch for us. He's live at the White House this morning. And you know it's echoes of the past. We've heard similar words before in the previous administration, and apparently what needed to get done didn't get done. Will it get done this time around?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Certainly a lot of pressure on this president to finally get it done, because you're right, some of that harkening back to the pre- 9/11 mentality about not connecting the dots even when you do have the intelligence.

Yesterday was really all about this president trying to take responsibility. He promised accountability at all levels of government last week. So far the lower and mid-levels have not really been held accountable. Nobody has stepped forward to resign, no one's taking it on their shoulders or been fired.

But at the top level of this government, this president did step forward and say it's on his shoulders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer, for ultimately, the buck stops with me.


HENRY: Now the president also laid out several steps that he says these agencies in the intelligence community have to improve, including identifying exactly which agency is going to be responsible for following up on these leads when they get intelligence they can act on.

Secondly, beef up the intelligence analysis. Also faster and wider dissemination of intelligence reports, the CIA for example saying when they get this kind of information they want to make sure they share it within 48 hours.

And finally strengthening these terror watch lists. That's one of the big lessons from this whole debacle, the fact that, while this eventual suspect was on a broad terror database, he was not on a more select no-fly list that could have prevented him from getting on that plane in the first place.

But as you noted, John, a lot of these changes were supposed to be made a long time ago.

ROBERTS: And we can only hope that this time around they do get made. Ed Henry for us at the White House this morning. Ed, thanks so much.

CHETRY: Also new this morning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is staying on the job for at least another year. The Pentagon says Gates met with President Obama just before Christmas and made that commitment. The president asked him to come over from the Bush administration to bring some stability to the new administration in a time of two wars.

ROBERTS: And two-thirds of the country now facing the worst deep freeze in 25 years. Take a look at this, a school bus in Elkhorn, Nebraska, encrusted in ice, immobilized by minus 27 degree wind chills.


CHETRY: And a shakeup in late night television, NBC deciding what to do about both Jay Leno's 10:00 show, which hasn't been as good as they had hoped in terms of ratings, and also Conan O'Brien's "Tonight Show," which hasn't either. So they have a plan.

It's 10 minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: This is a really interesting shot of Central Park this morning. There's a little bit of snow coming down covering the camera lens there. We are getting a little bit of snow, just pretty light right now. It's 29 degrees, not too bad in terms of the temperature. Later on today snow's going to pick up a bit, high of 33. So you get some that stick somewhere, but probably it will be more slushy than anything today in New York.

CHETRY: It looks like a Thomas Kincaid, doesn't it?

ROBERTS: Yes, pretty cool.

CHETRY: It's 13 minutes past the hour.

We have a developing story this morning. Jay Leno's attempt at the prime time circuit may reportedly be over.

ROBERTS: That's right. According to reports, bowing to pressure from local stations, NBC has a plan in the works to move Jay Leno back to the 11:35 p.m. slot, but for a half hour, though, instead of an hour. "The Tonight Show" with Conan O'Brien would then begin at 12:05, followed by "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" at 1:05.

Leno joked about the reports last night in his program.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE JAY LENO SHOW": I thought about wishing happy birthday to Katie Couric. It's her birthday today. She left NBC for another network. I've got to give her a call and see how that's working out.


As you may have heard there's a rumor floating around we were canceled. I heard it coming in this morning on the radio. So, fine, nobody said anything to me. But Kev, if we did get canceled, it would give us time to do some traveling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would be wonderful, man.

In fact, I understand FOX is beautiful this time of year. Beautiful, beautiful this time of year.



ROBERTS: Not so veiled threats.

CHETRY: There you go, right. If the reports are true, it does mark a stunning reversal for the peacock network. It was just last year that NBC said Jay Leno's show would actually save money and transform primetime.

ROBERTS: Fail. So how did we get to this point? Here's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leno's September move was nothing short of seismic for network TV. In an instant, he was moved from his proven base of power, 5 million viewers in late night, to turn NBC's final hour of primetime every evening to talk.

LENO: I am thrilled to have you as my very first guest.

JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: Well, thank you. Thank you very much.

FOREMAN: NBC thought it might reap a windfall. Talk shows are cheaper to produce than dramas. Leno could and did draw a steady stream of big names. And with a large audience at that hour, big profits could follow.

But "L.A. Times" TV critic Mary McNamara says after a huge debut, Leno nosedived to last place.

MARY MCNAMARA, TV CRITIC, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Yes, I mean, what did he fall from? It was 18 million tuned in for the first and then I think he dropped to, what, I don't know, seven or something within a couple of weeks. It was pretty staggering.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Other networks smelled blood as popular shows and new arrivals surpassed Leno's ratings. Soon local TV stations across the country were nervously suggesting Leno was not leading enough viewers into their late newscast, hurting their ratings and profits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every single network has had one or two, like really solid shows emerge, and there sits, you know, NBC with egg on its face.

FOREMAN: If that were not bad enough...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien."

FOREMAN: Leno's replacement, Conan O'Brien, was supposed to lead the legendary "Tonight Show" into a new decade of glory. But instead, he stumbled, losing half of Leno's former audience.

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN: I hit my head so hard that for five seconds I actually understood the plot of "Lost."

FOREMAN (on camera): And in an almost Shakespearian twist, the late-night entertainment winner has become a man who was passed over for "The Tonight Show" job years ago, David Letterman on CBS.

ANNOUNCER: It's the "Late Show with David Letterman."

FOREMAN (voice-over): Letterman used to chase Leno in the ratings, but now, despite even a sex scandal, he is pulling up to two million more viewers than Conan on any given night. DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Now, my response to that is, yes, I have.

FOREMAN: So for NBC, the expected win-win-win has become a lose- lose-lose. And in the high stakes world of television, that usually means call the moving vans.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


ROBERTS: I guess we'll be hearing more about that very soon.


ROBERTS: Can't keep that cat in the bag for too long.

CHETRY: No, you really can't.

ROBERTS: Coming up on 17 minutes after the hour. For the last couple of days, we've been bringing you Kyra Phillips' series on Dahn Yoga. Some people say that it's a cult, but the folks from Dahn Yoga say no, it's just a new sense of spirituality and mind and body wellness.

Well, we're going to show you what's at the core of their message this morning and it's pretty interesting stuff. So stay with us here on the Most News in the Morning.


CHETRY: They're playing this for you, Christine. She interviewed him (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTS: He's showing up in a lot of movies these days, isn't he?


ROBERTS: Recently in "The Blind Side," some other movies in the past.

CHETRY: That's right.

ROBERTS: Branching out.

CHETRY: Sure is, following in his wife's footsteps.

Well, it's 20 minutes past the hour and that means it's time for "Minding Your Business" with Christine Romans. We're not talking about Tim McGraw.


There you go. How's that for a segueway? ROBERTS: News about Tim this morning.

ROMANS: Yes. But look, the plot thickens on the AIG bailout. This horror movie script just does not end.

New e-mails reveal that the New York fed pushed AIG lawyers late last year to hold back information from the public. That information was what critics say was a back door bailout to big American and European banks with taxpayer money through the rescue of AIG, a rescue that, as you know, more than $180 billion now, companies like Goldman Sachs, France Societe Generale and many others.

It shows a terrified -- this e-mail show a terrified and chaotic time. The SEC and the New York fed sometimes giving conflicting advice to the lawyers over there at AIG, but bottom line the New York fed telling AIG not to make some of these disclosures in a regulatory filing that was going to be filed with the SEC.

A Republican on the House Oversight Reform Committee, Darrell Issa, obtained all these e-mails and has been fuming about the lack of transparency in what's been going on with the AIG bailout.


REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA (via telephone): Ultimately, this was money that didn't need to be spent and didn't go toward stabilizing the market. It went towards stabilizing the financial community's key executives in and around New York that were friends of the people making the decision to pay 100 cents on the dollar.


ROMANS: And that decision to pay 100 cents on the dollar, you've been hearing us talking about it for months. It's something the public is still furious about, that these investments with AIG were paid out with taxpayer money, with none of these big banks having to take what we call a hair cut.

Now the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says there was no wrongdoing. That all information was in fact disclosed, that was required to be disclosed by the company. There was no effort to mislead the public.

And the Treasury Department says -- remember, Timothy Geithner, today's treasury secretary was running as the president of the New York fed back then. The Treasury Department says that once he was nominated to become the treasury secretary he recused himself from individual company issues and that his fingerprints are not on this. He was not basically doing this day to day stuff with these companies at the time.

But it shows the New York Fed at the time the president was Timothy Geithner, these e-mails show there's a lot of pressure there to keep this stuff under wraps. And we found out months later, you know, what companies these were. But it does show a very chaotic, chaotic time there. A lot of different people trying to sort out this bailout.

ROBERTS: We'll hear a lot more about it though because there's going to be congressional hearings.

ROMANS: Oh, yes, I'm sure there will.

ROBERTS: Christine, thanks.

CHETRY: All right. Well, still ahead, there are jobs out there, even though we talk about it being such a tough market.


CHETRY: Blue collar jobs instead of white collar jobs. And Carol Costello is taking a look at why many of them are remaining vacant.

Twenty-three minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Twenty-five minutes past the hour. It means your top stories are only five minutes away. But first an "A.M. Original," something you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING.

This country has lost more than seven million jobs since the start of 2008, yet some employers say that they can't find the help they need. Take a look at this list of blue collar jobs. Skilled workers like elevator repair workers, they can earn nearly $70,000 a year. Electricians, around 60 grand and some of these jobs are vacant. Why?

Carol Costello is live in Washington this morning with a look.

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The economy is a complicated thing, isn't it, Kiran? I know what you're thinking, jobs available in manufacturing? Get real.

Well I'm not talking about making widgets. Those assembly line jobs have largely gone away but skilled labor like welding, engineering, electrical work or plumbing or something else. Right now, even in this terrible economy, employers are desperately seeking people who use their brains to make or fix something with their hands. The problem? America's just not into that anymore.


COSTELLO (voice-over): In the '80s movie "Flashdance," Alexandra Owens can't wait to leave blue collar work behind. It wasn't long before she said goodbye welding torch, hello, "Fame." Yes, it's old fiction but it neatly sums up where we are today.

Kim Barbano graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in public relations in 2008. She has yet to find a job. And even though she's struggling economically, the thought of taking this time to learn a trade is incomprehensible.

(on camera): Is there some kind of negative connotation to it?

KIM BARBANO, UNEMPLOYED COLLEGE GRAD: I think there is a lot of pressure to go to college and to get the typical day job and that isn't the working with your hands field.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Let's face it. There is little real passion for becoming electricians, manufacturing engineers, high-tech welders, plumbers or custom construction workers, even in this economy.

CHRIS KUEHLS, CHIEF ECONOMIST FABRICATORS AND MANUFACTURING ASSN.: There are still hundreds of thousands of jobs in manufacturing, but unfortunately, the people that are looking for jobs don't necessarily have the skills necessary to get into this field now.

COSTELLO: According to a 2009 study by Deloitte in the Manufacturing Institute, manufacturing topped a list of seven key industries as most important to the U.S. economy. Yet only 17 percent of young Americans desire a job in manufacturing and only 30 percent of parents said they'd encourage their kids to learn a trade.

MATTHEW CRAWFORD, AUTHOR MECHANIC: I had to fabricate some brackets here.

COSTELLO: Matthew Crawford who has a PhD in political philosophy proudly works with his hands. He's saddened by that attitude and has written a book about it, "Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work."

CRAWFORD: I think we've developed the kind of -- this idea that if the work is dirty it must be stupid.

COSTELLO: Crawford says working with your hands and using your brain to create something then seeing the finished product can be much more satisfying than a life behind a desk, and yes, it can pay more too.

CRAWFORD: I think we've developed a kind of -- a sort of one- track educational system, where just about every kid gets pressured to go to college. And I think the truth is that some people, including some who are plenty smart, would rather be learning to build things or fix things.

COSTELLO: The challenge for the skilled labor industry is to change that perception, and to get people to run to blue collar jobs instead of away from them.


COSTELLO: I love that movie, but, Kiran, I thought it was really cool she was a welder.

The manufacturing industry is working hard to convince young people to become skilled workers. They're recruiting kids in junior high school now, and they convince community college to offer courses in things like electrical engineering. And there's even a camp for kids who are interested in working with both their brains and their hands and this is all an attempt to get them excited about going into some sort of skilled trade -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Pretty cool. There you go. And if the jobs are out there, I mean, hey, that's news we need to hear, right?


CHETRY: Carol Costello for us this morning. Thanks so much.

We're coming up to the bottom of the hour right now. It means it's time for a look at the top stories.

We're talking about jobs. Well, the job report for December is coming out in just an hour. Some analysts are predicting an end to a 23-month streak of losing jobs in the country. Unemployment sitting at 10 percent right now. We'll break down the numbers and what they mean for you as soon as they're released at 8:30 Eastern.

Two-thirds of America now coping with the deep freeze that hasn't been matched in this country in 25 years. We're talking about brutally cold weather and it's now being blamed for 15 deaths since the beginning of the year. The Midwest hit especially hard. Wind chills below zero and it's expected to last for several more days.

Well, two more men in Queens, New York have been arrested now by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force as part of the ongoing investigation of Al Qaeda terror suspect Najibullah Zazi. One of the suspects was taken into custody after crashing his car near the Whitestone Bridge last night.

Zazi was arrested back in September, you may remember. The FBI saying that he plan to carry out terror attacks in the U.S. after training with Al Qaeda in Pakistan -- John.

ROBERTS: The so-called Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is making his first appearance in court today in Michigan. He is charged with the attempted murders of nearly 300 people on Northwest Airlines flight 253. And there is still a debate over whether he should get the rights granted to him in civilian court.

Joining us now, two men with experience in terror trials, retired Navy J.A.G. Charles Swift. He is in New Orleans this morning and former U.S attorney David Kelley, who helped prosecute Ramsey Youssef. He is in studio with us in New York.

Charles, let's start with you. As we said, you're a former Navy J.A.G. officer, do you believe Abdulmutallab belongs in civilian court or should he be in the military system at least in the interim?

CHARLES SWIFT, SPECIALIZES IN NATIONAL SECURITY LAW: I think he should be in the civilian court. It's been the most successful. Richard Reed, which - who committed almost an identical crime, that we have alleged here, was tried in the civilian courts, extraordinarily successfully. And the military commission system, which is the alternative, has yet to produce that kind of success.

ROBERTS: All right. David, there is a difference, though, between a successful prosecution of a criminal, making sure that that person goes behind bars, and what you could learn from an alleged terrorist. Michael Mukasey, the former attorney general, wrote in the "Wall Street Journal," "had Abdulmutallab been turned over immediately to interrogators intent on gathering valuable facts could have been gathered and perhaps acted upon."

"Indeed, a White House spokesman has confirmed that Abdulmutallab did disclose some actionable intelligence before he fell silent on advise of counsel."

If he had gone immediately, been declared an enemy combatant, gone into the military system subject to interrogation, there's the possibility that the U.S. would learn more than what was behind this plot than they will if he was in the civilian system.

DAVID KELLEY, PROSECUTOR: I think there's an argument there that Judge Mukasey has made but there's another side to it. I think that the federal government, the FBI has been extremely - has a great track record in terms of extracting information from terrorists. There's no sort of magic associated with the tribunal system or taken into military custody. And in fact the FBI agents who have worked other cases, Ramsey Youssef for one have extracted a tremendous amount of information from folks, including Youssef, within the criminal justice system.

So I don't think there's really any magic associated with it here, and frankly I think that if there was a real assessment here by the intelligence community that this person had an awful lot of information to offer that that may have been the course they took. But you know, you have to think, too, here's a person they put on the plane.

If there's brains behind the operations, how much real information are they going to permit this person to have in case he ends up just like the other person, Richard Reed, who was tried the same scheme back in 2002.

ROBERTS: Although he apparently told investigators that he was trained in Yemen, that there were other people just like him. You could surmise from that that he at least knows where the connections are there.

KELLEY: Fair enough. But the fact of the matter remains that again, there's no sort of magic associated with inquiries by the military and Gitmo. In fact the track record has been is that the FBI has been able to extract as much, if not more, information than they've been able to do in other cases.

ROBERTS: You mentioned, Charles, Richard Reed, the shoe bomber, December of 2001 a few moments ago, he's doing time at the super max prison. He went through the criminal system. What did we learn from him in the course of his prosecution? Was he interrogated to the degree that he could have been if he had gone through the military system? Did we know enough at that point to put him in the military system?

SWIFT: Well, the military system was up and running when he started. What we -- over the course of his trial, I think we learned a great deal just inside the interrogation process. And you get to speculation. I'm going to turn you to another suspect who went through the millennium bomber. He went through in Seattle. And over the course of his prosecution we learned a great deal because he decided to cooperate.

Facing life in prison, his decision was to cooperate because he believed that he was treated fairly. It's very hard to sit here and speculate, gee, one system will come out with a better result, as far as information goes. What we know is both systems have a potential to gain information, and I absolutely reject the idea that the civilian system and the FBI is incompetent is gaining information and that the military is going to do better. I agree that the military's track record is at best checkered, and then the prosecution itself is jeopardized and that doesn't make a lot of sense.

ROBERTS: Well, let me ask, David, this question, was enough consideration given? Because of the time of his arrest, his alleged ties to Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen wasn't as clear as it is now. Was enough consideration given, upon his arrest and his initial questioning, which as we said ended on Christmas evening when his attorney said, hey, shut up, to tie together his potential role in the overall war on terrorism?

We've had this problem with integrating intelligence. If he had gone into a different system instead of the civilian system, could the government have gleaned more information about integrating some of these to potentially uncover future plots or plots that are underway?

KELLEY: Look, my experience is that if someone wants to talk, they're going to talk, whether it's to the FBI when they get arrested or somewhere else where they're taken. If they're not going to talk, they're not going to talk, either here or there. I think he probably gave as much information as he's likely to give. The FBI and the CIA have likely made an assessment about his value, how much he's likely to have, how much that information is really going to move the ball, and they made a concerted, deliberate decision that this is the best course. And I don't think it's a bad -

ROBERTS: How would you predict the prosecution of this?

KELLEY: This looks like a pretty - the math here for a prosecutor is not tough. I think this is a pretty open and shut case.

ROBERTS: All right. David Kelley, Charles Swift, good to catch up with you this morning. Thanks so much for coming in. Much appreciated. Kiran.


CHETRY: We were just talking about the situation with the Christmas bomber, airport full body scans are now going to be more widely used because of it. But are they harmful with repeated use? In an "A.M." call, we're "Paging Dr. Gupta" in just 15 minutes.



CHETRY: Really sometimes called the headbangers ball here. 39 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the most news in the morning. You know, he's promised spiritual healing and true happiness for a price. A yoga instructor who's made millions with the philosophy that controlling your brain waves can cure what modern medicine cannot.

ROBERTS: But are his followers really being brainwashed? Kyra Phillips is here with part three of her special investigation into Dahn Yoga. Good morning.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. Good to see you. Well, since the first two parts of our investigative series was broadcast we've been flooded with comments, both pro and con. And now the final part of our investigation, the heart of Dahn Yoga's philosophy, brain education and brain wave vibration.

Shoddy science or respected medicine?


PHILLIPS (voice-over): His followers adore him. He says his writings are holy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brain wave vibration is a scripture. Holy Scripture. Do you all understand?

PHILLIPS: And this is the basis of his doctrine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Start by slowly and gently moving your head.

PHILLIPS: It's promoted as brain wave vibration, pouring energy into your brain with exercises like this. Its creator is a Korean businessman named Ilchi Lee. A savior to thousands of believers who have signed on to his franchise, Dahn Yoga.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When people desire vibrant health -

PHILLIPS: These exercises, Dahn Yoga says, can lead to improved health and even control disease.

GENIA SULLIVAN, DAHN YOGA INSTRUCTOR: The practices that we practice are very helpful, they empower people to really use everything they have to become the best person they can be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coming here for about three weeks -

PHILLIPS: Testimonials on the company web site are impressive. His members claim that brain wave vibration have lowered blood pressure, corrected lazy eyes, even reduced symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

(on camera): Have you ever heard of brain education or brain wave vibration?


PHILLIPS (voice-over): CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon who examined Dahn Yoga's claims.

GUPTA: This idea that somehow using parts of the body you can cause the brain to vibrate, turn on or off certain parts of the brain, it's just not rooted in science and there's pretty good science out there nowadays to really study the brain. This just isn't something that's out there.

PHILLIPS: However, Dahn Yoga claims its treatments are not, "hocus pocus" but based on what it calls ancient wisdom.

JOSEPH ALEXANDER, VP OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, DAHN YOGA: We do not have scientific evidence but we do have the anecdotal reports of our members that their pain has disappeared or diminished.

GUPTA: It's probably a bit dangerous because people may not get their actual treatment that could work and could be beneficial.

PHILLIPS (on camera): So bottom line, this is sort of a placebo effect.

GUPTA: It very well could be a placebo effect. You've got hundreds of people in a room all wanting to believe in something, all wanting to be cured of ailment that's they've otherwise been unable to be cured of. The problem is it's shoddy science.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): So if it's shoddy science, why do so many people believe in Ilchi Lee and his work? Ryan Kent is a California attorney who's filed a lawsuit against Dahn Yoga on behalf of 27 former members who claim the organization is a cult.

He says Lee has created such an image for himself that people will do and give anything to follow his path.

RYAN KENT, ATTORNEY: Basically they'll suck all of the money that the person has and can borrow, without fail. They did it to every single one of my claimants.

PHILLIPS: Lee's lawyer says the claim that Dahn Yoga is a cult is hogwash and they say officials say there's no pressure on its members to give money.

ALAN KAPLAN, ATTORNEY: Dahn Yoga is a business and Mr. Lee came up with the whole concept of Dahn Yoga 30 years ago. He is enjoying the fruits of his own labors, as any businessman is entitled to.

PHILLIPS: If you listen to Ilchi Lee speak.

ILCHI LEE, DAHN YOGA OWNER (through translator): The one movement we will witness the emergence of 100 million messengers of Mago.

PHILLIPS: It's pretty clear he is focused on dollars and cents. "Forbes" magazine estimates the organization made $34 million in 2009. Listen to this excerpt from an audio tape of a motivational session that he conducted in the spring of 2009.

LEE (through translator): And second, have you to be crazy about money. Only when you have that, are you a person who has the holy vision.

PHILLIPS: There's no question Ilchi Lee and Dahn Yoga have a devoted and loyal membership. And current members say it's not a cult. If you look at the Dahn Yoga web site, there are testimonials applauding Ilchi Lee, from the president of Costa Rica, to a prominent New York scientist.

Lee is also seen in photographs with Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden. Liza Miller says she was once a believer too.

LIZA MILLER, FMR. DAHN YOGA EMPLOYEE: When I found Dahn, I felt like this is it.

PHILLIPS: Now Liza is one of the 27 former employees filing a lawsuit claiming Dahn Yoga is a cult. The pressure to make money just one reason she abandoned the leader she once followed.

MILLER: I feel it's my duty to come forward and to share my story so that people are aware of the truth about the organization. They are being deceived.


PHILLIPS: The attorney for Mr. Lee says that the only deception involved is on the part of the former employees who have filed this lawsuit. He says they are all disgruntled and insist that all they want is money.

Incidentally, the next legal step in the case comes toward the end of the month when the attorney for those former employees has to file a response in federal court, opposing Dahn Yoga's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, and, of course, we'll keep you posted.

ROBERTS: So you - you obviously tried to get an interview with Ilchi Lee. What happened?

PHILLIPS: Well, we did. We called the company and we were turned down, so we went to Sedona, Arizona where there was an event, and you'll see here, by the video, it was the ceremony celebrating this new park, Mago Earth Park, and as soon as I started to ask him about the allegations of sexual assault, you could see there that the bodyguards pushed down our cameras. And he said to me, this is the first time hearing of such an allegation.

CHETRY: Wow! And has there been reaction from overseas, from Korea?

PHILLIPS: Yes, that's interesting because the photographer that worked with me, he's Korean and I asked him, you know, what's the response been? And apparently Shin Dong-A, this Korean magazine, did a 40-page expose on Ilchi Lee that's been creating a lot of talk on the internet and within Korea. And also, the blogs, the Korean blogs have been talking about our investigation.

ROBERTS: Interesting. Now, you said that Ilchi Lee said it's the first he'd heard of the allegations, but you did an interview with his attorney, Kaplan, who said we've - you know, we categorically deny these allegations and he'll be found innocent, so somebody knew about them.

PHILLIPS: Hence - probably why the bodyguards pushed down our cameras and told us to leave.

ROBERTS: Great series. Thanks for bringing it to us.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, you guys.

CHETRY: Thanks, Kyra.

Well, 46 minutes past the hour right now, and Jacqui Jeras is going to be along with the travel forecast right after the break.

ROBERTS: And at 10 minutes' time, it's time for an "AM House Call." We're "Paging Dr. Gupta" this morning. We are asking, are those full body scans appearing at airports across the country safe or could they be harmful to your health?

It's 47 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Good morning, Atlanta, where it's partly cloudy and cold, 21 degrees right now. Later on today it's going to be sunny, but will continue cold, a high of only 30. They had some snow in Atlanta yesterday. That's pretty rare.

CHETRY: Yes, it was interesting, some of our producers coming in captured it on their phones and said, look, this was were when coming into work this morning. You see snow falling in Atlanta.

Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning, and Atlanta's not alone, certainly. Much of the country right now shivering through one of the worst winters we've seen in decades, so far at least, and it's only January. Sub-zero wind chills, plenty of ice and snow in places that don't see this kind of thing too often, and that includes Atlanta, Georgia.

Our David Mattingly is live for us this morning. Good morning, David. DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. It's pretty cold out here, in the teens right now. Atlanta hopes to get through this winter storm event without any major incidents, but late this - or late last night, early this morning, there was a major pileup on a ramp on the I-85, twenty seven-car pileup. Fortunately, only three minor injuries reported from this. That was the big wreck to report in all of this mess.

Now, something to point out, when the snow fell here - look at this. We only got about a half an inch or so in the Atlanta metro area. But, with that snow came a layer of ice. Now, you can see behind me, the expressways are relatively open and clear. That's what the road crews - that's what their priority has been, to keep the expressways open. But all those ramps, all those overpasses, bridges, side streets have been very icy, treacherous for a lot of people.

The advice here in Atlanta for all motorists is to stay at home if you don't have to be out. A lot of people taking that warning. Behind me, you see the connector, the 75, 85 corridor through the city of Atlanta, this is normally one of the longest commutes in the country, and a lot of people staying home today. This might look busy, but normally this is a full river of cars going through here. Today, sort of a trickle, a lot of people staying home to stay away from that ice.

Now, one thing we have to look at here, the next couple of days we're not going to be getting much above the freezing mark. It's getting below freezing all day today, so this is something that's going to be sticking around through the weekend. These treacherous roads are going to be around for a little while.

CHETRY: All right. Good advice, if you don't have to be out on those roads, just try to stay home. Thanks, David.

ROBERTS: This morning's top stories just minutes away, including top of the hour President Obama's saying the buck stops with him for a system wide failure that allowed a man with a bomb on a plane on Christmas Day. We're live at the White House with the changes that he has ordered to fix the system.

CHETRY: At 8:25 Eastern, Alina Cho with an "AM Original", an Islamic group now questioning the full body search of a woman who was wearing a traditional Muslim head scarf. She says the embarrassing incident happened in front of her child and said that's religious profiling. We'll have more on that at the top of the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Five minutes to the top of the hour. That means it is time for your "AM House Call."

Three hundred full body scanners will soon be inside airports across the country, but should we be concerned about dangerous radiation exposure, particularly for people who fly very frequently?

We're paging our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, this morning. He's in Atlanta. Well, Doc, what's the verdict here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning. This is something I think about quite a bit as well, given - given how much, you know, we all travel. It's important to sort of look at what these devices do, specifically. But let me just cut to the chase and say there really doesn't appear to be much of a hazard in terms of radiation exposure.

There are going to be two types of machines, John, that people are really going to see, probably, in airports becoming more common. First of all, this is the millimeter wave imaging technology. Take a look at that. Look for that particular machine and keep this in mind, when you go into a machine like this, it's really using radio waves, John, to create an image. So think of this more like an ultrasound rather than an x-ray machine. So the amount of energy, really, given off by something like is about 10,000 times less than even a cell phone.

This is another type of machine that you might see. Take a look at that type of machine. This is using actually what's called a backscatter technology. These are types of images that are generated, as can you see. But, John, what happens here is that you get - you do get some radiation, but it's really designed to bounce off the skin and then create an image off to the side. That's how they generate those images. That's how they get these and - and, you know, can make - can look for things underneath the skin. That - that's specifically what they're trying to do here.

Both of these should be distinguished from what we're most familiar with, which is a regular x-ray. That's using ionizing radiation. That is penetrating the skin, but that is also very different.

With the backscatter, John, the one that's probably going to be the most common, the one that President Obama actually eluded to yesterday as well, it would take about 125,000 trips through a machine like that every year to get to the maximum dose of the safety level. So I - it seems like they're pretty safe, based on the conversations that we've had.

ROBERTS: All right, but, you know, these are machines. They need to be calibrated, and we all remember, several weeks ago, you did a story on CT scanners, which are a form of x-ray machine...

GUPTA: That's right.

ROBERTS: ... and some of those machines weren't calibrated properly and some were giving off multiples of the radiation doses that they should have been giving out. So can - can we be guaranteed - I mean, can we be quite confident that these machines will be calibrated in such a way that they will be giving off the minimum dose of radiation?

GUPTA: It's a great question. Now, one thing to keep in mind about that, that study particularly, the one that you're talking about, CT scanners can give up up to 13 times more radiation even within the same hospital. Technicians within the hospital are allowed to calibrate those machines to try and give better images.

These machines are all going to be calibrated - we're told by the TSA - at the same level, so you're not going to be allowed to individually calibrate them at the airport. So they should be consistent, at least that's what we're hearing now.

ROBERTS: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta for us this morning from Atlanta on the backscatter x-ray. Doc, thanks so much.

GUPTA: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: Don't forget - don't miss the premiere episode this weekend of "SANJAY GUPTA MD." It's his new program. That's Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 AM Eastern. First we had "Trapper John, MD" now we've got "SANJAY GUPTA MD".

CHETRY: Yes. Or it has to be now "GUPTA, SANJAY MD".

All right. Your top stories coming your way in just 90 seconds. We'll be right back.