Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Terror Report: Are We Less Safe?; TSA Relaxes Rules Covering Liquids, Gels in Carry-On Bags; Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?; U.S. Coast Guard Defends Air Above Washington; Every Year Dozens Of Potentially Deadly Food Items Are On Store Shelves

Aired September 25, 2006 - 13:59   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: War in Iraq and the war on terror -- President Bush calls the former the central front in the latter. But a sweeping new intelligence reports says the war in Iraq is fueling terror around the world, recruiting extremists, and heightening the threat to Americans.
CNN's Elaine Quijano has the story.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The stories appeared on the front pages of "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post," outlining conclusions selectively leaked from a classified National Intelligence Estimate dealing partly with Iraq.

The estimate, completed in April, cites the Iraq war and insurgents as the main recruiting vehicle for new Islamic extremists. Yet former deputy CIA director John McLaughlin, who has not seen the estimate, says the information is sobering but not surprising.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Frankly, I didn't find a lot new in this press article. We've known for months that the movement is decentralizing. It's clear that Iraq is a major problem, and that the only real question is what do you about Iraq at this point?

QUIJANO: Six weeks away from congressional midterm elections, Democrats are using the leaked report to argue that Republicans have mismanaged Iraq and the larger war on terror.

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Even capturing the remaining top al Qaeda leadership isn't going to prevent copycat cells and it isn't going to change a failed policy in Iraq.

QUIJANO: But Republican Senator John McCain, who just last week reached a compromise with the White House after a public rift over detainee legislation, says success in Iraq is still crucial.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), ARMED SVCS. CMTE.: They didn't need any encouragement to attack us on September 11. These people are after us anyway and we've got to win the war both psychologically, as well as militarily.

QUIJANO: And in a rare occurrence, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte weighted in to the political debate, saying, "The estimate highlights the importance of the outcome in Iraq on the future of global jihadism, judging that should the Iraqi people prevail in establishing a stable political and security environment, the jihadists will be perceived to have failed."

(on camera): In a statement, a White House official reiterated the administration's policy of not commenting on classified documents. But in a sign of the high political stakes this official did go on to comment, saying that "The New York Times" characterization of the intelligence estimate was not representative of the complete document.

Elaine Quijano, CNN, the White House.


LEMON: So what does all of this mean for you and me, and why should we care? Let's bring in our Justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, from Washington.

Kelli, why is this report important?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the most authoritative written report on the threat that's facing the United States. When you have 16 intelligence agencies that weigh in, this represents the best thinking on the terror front. It also is -- it's supposed to be providing policymakers at the highest level, including the president himself, with information in terms of what may be coming up in the future.

LEMON: So most comprehensive report?

ARENA: That's right.

LEMON: Was it mostly about Iraq, this report?

ARENA: No, it wasn't, but that is the part that was leaked obviously to the press. And a lot of people are saying, you know, so close to the midterm elections, it was obviously political.

This is a report that -- that really does span the globe. It discusses every single development all over the world as it relates to the war on terror. It talks about military moves and economic development and political development. I mean, this is very comprehensive.

LEMON: All right. Kelli Arena, live in Washington for us.

Thank you very much, Kelli.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: As you know, we've been talking about the war in Iraq and also this intelligence report that was leaked. Right now in front of the U.S. Senate a number of military bigwigs addressing this. General Batiste right now speaking.

Let's listen in for a moment.


MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): ... of America's national power. Unity of effort is fundamental, and we need one person in charge in Iraq who pulls the levers with all U.S. government agencies responding with 110 percent effort.

Finally, we need to get serious about mending our relationships with allies and getting closer to our friends and enemies. America cannot go this alone.

All of this is possible, but we need leadership and responsible congressional oversight to pull this off. I challenge the American people to get informed and speak out. Remember that Congress represents and works for the people.

Congressional oversight committees have been strangely silent for too long and our elected officials must step up to their responsibilities or be replaced. This is not about partisan politics but rather what is good for our country.

Our November elections are crucial. Every American needs to understand the issues and cast his or her vote. I believe that one needs to vote for the candidate who understands the issues and who has the moral courage to do the harder right rather than the easier wrong.

I, for one, will continue to speak out until there is accountability, until the American people establish momentum, and until our congressional oversight committees kick into action. Victory in Iraq is fundamental, and we cannot move forward until accountability is achieved.

Thank you, sir.

PHILLIPS: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

Jamie, it's a story we've been covering within the past year, a number of retired generals and admirals coming out calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, now testifying with regard to the politics of what's taken place, specifically in Iraq. Very rarely -- well, you never really see active military talking politics. It's interesting to listen to these generals now and taking sides.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, when they are in uniform they're really under -- you know, under the military rules prohibited from saying what their personal feelings are. It's one of the things you have to take into account when you hear these generals giving briefings or describing what's going on, that if they feel things aren't going well, they really cannot come out in public and sound defeatist.

They're always going to try to put the best face on everything. And in the end, because of the civilian control of the military, it's the military's job to salute smartly and carry out the policy to the best they can. But once they're out of uniform they are free to reveal their personal feelings and also their politics, if politics is part of it. But these critics of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and the policy in Iraq have been -- you know, these are generals who have been out there for more than a year now criticizing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld, by the way, was asked at his appearance with Afghan president Hamid Karzai today once more by a reporter whether he would consider resigning. He simply said no and went to the next question.

He says that he's heard this criticism before. He says that the retired generals have the -- have their -- a right to their opinions, but he has a different opinion -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So, Jamie, where could this go? Could this lead eventually to Donald Rumsfeld's job? Will this just influence upcoming elections, or could this make an impact on what's happening in Iraq right now?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, it's interesting. I mean, in the one sense, no, it's not going to result in Rumsfeld losing his job because Rumsfeld serves entirely at the pleasure of President Bush. But there is a political calculation that goes into all these cabinet posts.

If a member of the cabinet becomes a political liability, then usually someone comes and talks to them or they decide themselves to take themselves out of the picture. Rumsfeld does not believe he is a political liability. Bush -- President Bush apparently does not believe that either. He's given him a vote of confidence sort of every time the subject has come up. And Rumsfeld also believes that he's pursuing the right course of action and seems determined to stay on the job.

He's given no sign that he is going anywhere, and President Bush has given no sign that he plans to dump him. But could it happen in the future? Well, it all depends on how the political landscape shapes up.

PHILLIPS: Jamie McIntyre, thanks.

LEMON: Standing down on shampoo, letting up on lotion. Has the TSA really figured out the latest security threats, or is it glossing over problems to make life easier on travelers?

Our homeland security corespondent, Jeanne Meserve, breaks it all down.

Jeanne, it seems like the bottom line seems to be, it's great news if you own stock in Ziploc bags, maybe.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I think you're exactly right. The overall ban remains in effect, but there are some modifications.

Travelers will now be able to bring on their carry-on bags three ounces or less of liquids and gels. They will have to be placed, however, in a one-quart-sized plastic bag. TSA administration Kim Hawley says authorities believe these small quantities do not pose a threat.


KIP HAWLEY, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: Since the initial total ban, experts from around the government, including the FBI and our national labs, have analyzed the information. We now know and have conducted extensive explosives testing to get a better understanding of the threat. While this novel type of liquid explosives is now an ongoing part of the terrorists' playbook and must be dealt with, we now know enough to say that a total ban is no longer needed from a security point of view.


MESERVE: Another change, travelers will now be able to bring on board items purchased after the security checkpoint. Things like water, coffee, soft drinks, duty-free items.

Hawley says there will be additional screening of the things that are sold beyond the checkpoint to minimize the risk. But some security experts are alarmed at the modifications, saying they provide openings that terrorists could exploit. These experts feel that passenger convenience is being put ahead of security.

The TSA emphatically denies that, and because liquid explosives are still a threat, no further adjustments to the ban are expected in the near term. For now, the aviation sector will remain at threat level orange or high.

Don, back to you.

LEMON: All right, Jeanne. It should be booming business for those who own shops on the other side of the security checkpoint.

MESERVE: You're right.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: Well, the White House calls him the worst of the worst. Fourteen high-level terror suspects, including alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, they were locked up for months, or even years, in secret CIA prisons but now are being held at the U.S. camp at Guantanamo Bay. And there, for the first time, they're expected to see and be seen by the Red Cross. Red Cross representatives arrived at Gitmo today for visits due to start sometime next week.

Well, he wanted him dead, tried to kill him, regrets he didn't succeed. He is former president Clinton, defending his efforts to track down and take out Osama bin Laden. In a testy interview with FOX News, Clinton says that he took bin Laden more seriously than his critics did.


WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They've ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try.

I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.


PHILLIPS: Dick Clarke, better known as Richard Clarke, is the former White House anti-terrorism chief who says the Bush administration ignored bin Laden until September 11th.

If true, it's the scoop of the year, but two days later no credible source has yet confirmed that Osama bin Laden is dead. The weekend report in a French newspaper set off denials from world capitals, but the reporter is sticking to his guns.

Here's CNN's Jim Bittermann.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over): In a town square in rural France, the reporter who's article set off speculation about bin Laden's death is convinced the intelligence memorandum he published is accurate. Laid Sammari, a national reporter for the regional paper "East Republican," frequently writes about intelligence matters but rarely has he seen a leak of this sort involving classified information from France's foreign intelligence agency, a memo stating that a reliable source had given Saudi intelligence officials exact details of bin Laden's death.

LAID SAMMARI, "L'EST REPUBLICAN" (through translator): That is to say that on the 23rd of August in Pakistan, after coming down with typhoid, and the memorandum adds that he could not be treated because of the absence of medical assistance.

BITTERMANN: French and American intelligence services could not confirm the contents of the memo and said there was no new information on bin Laden's health. But there was tacit confirmation that the memo is authentic from French President Jacques Chirac, who said Saturday that he had ordered an investigation into how the memo found its way into print.

Samari says he could not reveal who gave him the memo, but that it circulated three days ago, through the president and the prime minister's officer, as well as the offices of the interior and defense ministers, passing through the hands of perhaps 50 people in addition to those in the foreign intelligence service. The reporter believes the memo will turn out to be true.

SAMMARI: The note ends with information, according to which the Saudis are waiting to localize the burial place of the body before making an official announcement of bin Laden's death.

BITTERMANN (on camera): Sammari says it's up to someone else to prove whether bin Laden is still alive. All he is sure of is that Saudi intelligence has a source that claims the leader of al Qaeda is dead.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Nancy, France.


LEMON: Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, he's now a man of leisure but he is still a legend. We'll talk with the newly retired Andre Agassi next.

PHILLIPS: Plus, the biggest re-roofing job in U.S. history. It's part of the Superdome restoration. A "Fact Check" straight ahead from the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Always inspired, now retired, and not too cool to cry.

LEMON: The U.S. Open was the final farewell for tennis great Andre Agassi.

PHILLIPS: Hard to believe, but the tennis world's eternal teen is four years shy of 40. Doesn't look it at all, though.

LEMON: Yes, he looks very young.

Now just three weeks -- just three weeks into retirement and Andre Agassi joins us live from New York.

It doesn't seem like retirement to me. It seems like you're, you know, just starting another career now.

ANDRE AGASSI, TENNIS PLAYER: That's for sure. I've been practicing for tomorrow. There's no question about it.

PHILLIPS: Tell us what's going on. Tell us what you're working on.

AGASSI: Well, I mean, for me it was always tennis -- the best I got from tennis is the fact that I could work hard, impact somebody for a few hours. You know, this is an opportunity teaming with Steve Case and Exclusive Resorts to impact people on a much deeper sort of level.

So it's a country club for vacations. You basically join a membership and you get to travel the world in your own private home without the headaches of owning a second home. And my hope is to come bring my experience of traveling with a family and learning the things I've learned, how to -- you know, what people want now when they travel with the family. They want to reconnect and discover each other and themselves, and that's what -- that's what this experience is going to be like.

LEMON: And we wish you well with this. But it's not just about luxury for you. You also have a huge philanthropic effort. You have your own organization that helps children especially.

AGASSI: I started my foundation about 13 years ago. We've raised probably close to $100 million in that time for at-risk children, kids with no hope. And we do that through education. And we've managed to be pretty effective at changing children's lives.

And my event is coming up on October 7th at the MGM Grand Gardens, where we hope to raise another $10 million like we did last year this evening for the children.

PHILLIPS: Now, I'm not surprised that you do so much to give back. You have a tremendous heart, and I know a lot of that comes from your dad, golden glover boxer, right? He actually boxed for Iran in the Olympics.

Tell us about dad. He's been an influence on your life since you were very, very young.

AGASSI: My father is very passionate about a lot of things, especially tennis. He was a boxer, a good athlete himself. But, you know, I look at my father now and I think, you know, I've watched him over all these years care about tennis so much. And then when I sort of see him on the tennis court at 76 years old dumping tennis balls in the ball machine, running to the other side, hitting balls for an hour, I think this man's passion burns more today than ever.

So it's inspirational.

LEMON: We just saw a picture of you hugging him after the Open there and we all remember that emotional, tearful speech. And it was very eloquent.

How did you manage to keep it together? And I'm sure it's a moment you will never forget.

AGASSI: Oh, yes, no question. I mean, I knew what I was heading in for when it comes to saying good-bye. I planned it to be in New York.

I had so many things I wanted to say, so many things. I mean, it's 21 years of meaningful moments and experiences. And I sort of tried to remember a lot of them, and only came out with a few, but, yes, I'm going to miss them.

PHILLIPS: Growing up as a kid, I'm trying to remember, didn't you play a lot with Jimmy Connors? Wasn't he one of your -- your mentors?

AGASSI: Well, that's probably overstating it slightly, but I was -- we had a tournament in Las Vegas, a professional tennis tournament had come to town, an Allen King Tennis Classic. And I was 4 years old and I was a ball boy, and I was out there hitting balls with my dad and, you know, I was -- the pros would take notice. I was hitting the balls at 4 years old, keeping it in play.

And so I did hit with Connors. I did hit with Borg. I have hit with Nastasia. I have -- you know, I was inspired at that age to do this.

LEMON: We can't let you go without talking about your wife, Steffi Graf. We all know you're married to her. And the kids, what are they doing? Are they playing tennis themselves?

AGASSI: They play tennis when we play tennis. We've played once since the Open, partly because I've been pretty busy and so has Stef. You know, we sort of -- you know, do a lot of things together now as far as business goes, but at home it's a beautiful thing. It's a discovery every day with the kids, and we're loving it.

PHILLIPS: I heard she whooped up on you on the court.

AGASSI: She always does. I don't watch the ball when we play each other. I'm always -- I'm still watching those legs.

PHILLIPS: Oh, see. You've got to start looking up and looking at the ball. Come on. You know better than that.

LEMON: You know what I've been reading?

AGASSI: You never stop learning.

LEMON: Looking at the research, a person who's in the market for a home, your house in San Francisco is on the market. Is that right?

AGASSI: My house where? Sorry.

LEMON: Your house in San Francisco is on the market?

AGASSI: Yes. That's right.

LEMON: Is the price reduced? Any takers so far?

AGASSI: Well, you're welcome to come have a look at it. No, you know, I was -- I was born and raised in Vegas. I never knew what was going to happen after I retired. This was for five years now.

We've sort of gotten a better feel for, you know, being around great friends and family. So we don't -- there's no need for it, especially now with Exclusive Resorts. Who needs a second home?


PHILLIPS: Andrea, I've got to ask this question, and it's sort of that -- sort of post-career question.

I was having kind of an off-the-record conversation with a couple of retired athletes. I know that you know them very well. And we were talking about life after sports. And one of them said to me, "One of my biggest concerns is becoming irrelevant."

You had such an amazing career and just an amazing life, period. Do you ever sit back now that you are officially retired and think, wow, I just hope that not everyone forgets me? I hope I hang in there and people just remember what I did for the sport? AGASSI: Well, to be honest, I don't really have a goal for people to remember me for tennis. I want all the memories of sharing those moments with people to be remembered, but I want -- I want my next 20 years to eclipse the last 20 years, is basically what I'm saying.

And for me it's not important to be relevant. It's important for me to impact people's lives, and I believe I have a bigger platform now to do that than I ever have. And, you know, I want to be -- that's what I want to bring. I want to bring real experiences and real change into people's lives on a much deeper, broader scale. This is -- you know, life is short and it should be enjoyed through a lot of different lenses.


LEMON: Absolutely. Yes.

PHILLIPS: You've got to live it like it's your last, that's for sure.

LEMON: Eight Grand Slam titles to his name.

Andre Agassi, thank you very much for joining us.

AGASSI: Oh, it's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

PHILLIPS: A true honor. Thanks, Andre.

AGASSI: Thanks.

PHILLIPS: Well, the Saints are coming and the rock stars are, too.


"THE EDGE," U2: There's a lot of people concentrating on rebuilding the bricks and mortar, but -- as it were, the body of the city. But we feel that music is the spirit and the heart and the soul of the city, so that's what we're trying to work on.


PHILLIPS: Celebrating the Superdome's return. We're going to take you live to New Orleans straight ahead.

LEMON: Plus, bagging some rules but keeping some others. Before you start carrying on, check in with the CNN NEWSROOM for the latest guidelines.


LEMON: There's hope for weary fire crews in southern California. Cooler weather and calmer winds should help douse a huge wildfire in Los Padres National Forest. For the past three weeks it's been an all-out battle. As a matter of fact, you're looking at live pictures now. That's from our affiliate, KABC. That's at Los Padres National Forest.

It's been an all-out battle with special aircraft attacking the flames with retardant. More than 134,000 acres have burned. California's governor has declared a state of emergency for Ventura County.

So we're hearing that the winds are lower and we're watching the situation in California. Let's go to our meteorologist, Jacqui Jeras, in the know, in the CNN weather center to talk about that and much, much more.

Hey, Jacqui.



PHILLIPS: Well, millions of older Americans are getting an unpleasant surprise this month -- much higher bills for their prescription drugs.

Cheryl Casone joins us live from the New York Stock Exchange to tell us why.



PHILLIPS: Defending the air above Washington. It's a big job now in the hands of the U.S. Coast Guard. Yes, I said Coast Guard. Until today, Customs and Border Protection had to respond when unauthorized planes or helicopters strayed into D.C. airspace. But that agency is all about law enforcement and doesn't have military authority, which the Coast Guard does have. Washington, as you might expect, has some of the stiffest airspace restrictions in the country.

Chapped lips -- farewell fuzzy teeth and flaky elbows. The Transportation Security Administration is relaxing strict rules about what you can and can't carry on. Good news for the makers of teeny toiletries and Ziploc bags. Personal grooming items can be go back into the carry-on bags if they're in containers that hold three ounces or less and if they're packed in one clear resealable bag that holds no more than a quart. You'll also be able to carry on liquids you buy after you clear security. The new rules take effect tomorrow.

Now you can check it all out online, And stay with us here in the NEWSROOM, Jeanne Meserve will look at whether easing rules means compromising safety.

LEMON: Well, it's a horrifying twist in a story that was horrifying enough to begin with. Illinois police had already dealt with the murder of a pregnant woman whose 7-month-old fetus had been ripped right from her womb. But even police were shaken by what happened. Here's CNN's Fredricka Whitfield.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): At this East St. Louis, Illinois, public housing unit, the gruesome discoveries were made.

CAPT. CRAIG KOEHLER, ILLINOIS STATE POLICE: I would also like to thank the public for all of their help in this, the volunteers who did searches, and individuals who called in and provided us leads and eventually led to the discovery of the children.

WHITFIELD: Inside apartment 28-J in the washer and dryer the lifeless bodies of 7-year-old DeMond, 2-year-old Ivan and 1-year-old Janela Tunstall.

KOEHLER: I would not say that it was searched before.

WHITFIELD: Overlooked when police first entered the Tunstall family's apartment look for photographs, a tip suggested they go back.

KOEHLER: I have children of my own. All of these investigators have children of our own. So it's a very emotional time for all of our departments and the families involved in this case.

WHITFIELD: The extensive neighborhood search began after their 23-year-old mother, Jamella Tunstall, seven months pregnant, was murdered, her fetus cut from her womb, her body found in a weedy lot. Hours after the arrest of a suspect, 24-year-old Tiffany Hall, described as family friend and sometimes babysitter, the search for the missing children ended horribly.

Fredricka Whitfield, CNN, Atlanta.


LEMON: And Tiffany Hall was arraigned today on charges of first degree murder and intentional homicide of an unborn child. She's being held on $5 million bond. The judge has ordered a psychological exam, but charges have not been filed yet in the death of three Tunstall children.

It was a fire before the storm. Explosions and flames engulfing a bus carrying nursing home residents to safety ahead of Hurricane Rita -- 23 seniors were killed just south of Dallas a year ago Saturday. Today the bus company owner is on trial accused of conspiring to falsifying driver records and failing to perform inspections.

Now you may recall, a tire burst into flames on the highway, probably causing the elderly passengers oxygen tanks to explode. The driver was an illegal immigrant from Mexico cleared of any charges in exchange for his cooperation.

PHILLIPS: New Orleans hasn't had a lot to cheer about since Hurricane Katrina. That's not the case today. The Superdome is hours away from welcoming back the city's beloved Saints and win or lose, it's a major victory that some thought they'd never live to see. CNN Gulf Coast correspondent Susan Roesgen takes us back to the desperate days during and after the storm.


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These were not football fans filing into the dome last August. These were people who were running from the hurricane with nowhere else to go.

VELENA COCO, KATRINA SURVIVOR: Jeffrey would sits in front of us sometimes. And it was Leccee and her duffel bag and my momma and her purse and me.

ROESGEN: Velena Coco and her daughter Leccee were rescued from the roof of a church and wound up with two other family members in the stadium stands. This is where they stayed and slept for four days.

BRIAN MILLER, KATRINA SURVIVOR: This is the -- what they call the warehouse.

ROESGEN: Brian Miller was also in the Superdome. As the relative of a Superdome employee, he had a little privacy and a couch to sleep on, but he was stuck here like everybody else.

MILLER: I called it the island of Katrina, because it was like we were on an island right here in the dome.

ROESGEN: The island was dark, hot and crowded. The city anticipated a few thousand people in the Superdome -- 30,000 came.

VELENA COCO: As you passed the bathrooms, it was like just . . .

LACY COCO, KATRINA SURVIVOR: And it was like one light might be working here, and then you go down to the next set of restrooms and that might be where the next light is.

MILLER: As hot as it was outside, you wanted to go outside because it was actually cooler. At least the air moved. There was some circulation. In the dome there was none.

ROESGEN: Finally, both Brian and the Coco family were evacuated to other cities. Today, they say they'll be glad to see the Saints come marching back in.

VELENA COCO: It's wonderful because life goes on, but, you know, we'll remember. We'll always remember. And we'll leave the next time something that big gets into the Gulf.

MILLER: You've got to accept the bad with the good. And we just put the bad behind us, as the Saints should do. If you got a losing game, you put it behind you and you move on. Well, we can just move on now.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PHILLIPS: Well, next hour we are going to visit with another survivor of those desperate days at the Superdome, a man who was there to keep the peace going back tonight to greet his Saints.

LEMON: And also ahead -- you've thrown out your fresh spinach, we hope. But are these other foods -- are there other foods you should be concerned about? We'll take a look next in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Seven more people are sick, two more companies issued recalls, and another bag of bad spinach turns up in Utah. At least 173 people in 25 states have now been sickened by fresh spinach tainted with E. coli bacteria, spinach that all seems to have come from California's Salinas Valley.

Two more companies that use Salinas spinach are recalling it: S.T. Produce of Seattle, Washington; and Pacific Coast Fruit Company of Portland, Oregon. Although the Food and Drug Administration says fresh spinach grown outside Salinas Valley is safe, it's hard for consumers to know where their spinach comes from and the Fed wants the produce industry to figure it all out.

PHILLIPS: Even going to a restaurant, the first thing twice over the past week. We just want to let you know there's no spinach on the menu. You know, they sort of set up the menu that way so you don't even think twice.

LEMON: And even eating a lot of greens, there were greens in the cafeteria today, and I was with the person in the newsroom and we're like, should we eat greens? You know, because you really don't now.

PHILLIPS: Right. Well, all we know right now is spinach, it's out. Broccoli, carrots, lettuce, mushrooms, they're still in so far.

LEMON: Well, yes and no. Spinach gets a rap for E. coli, but lots of other foods can even get contaminated too. Here's CNN's Ted Rowlands with the unappetizing details.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not just fresh spinach that could get you sick. Every year, dozens of food items that end up on store shelves are potentially deadly. In fact, the current list of recalled food over the last 60 days includes more than a dozen items. There's beef with E. coli, sprouts with salmonella, and botulism in carrot juice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon.

ROWLANDS: Food industry experts acknowledge there's a growing concern that more people will get sick before they can figure out what's going wrong.

BRYAN SILBERMANN, PRODUCE MARKETING SPOKESMAN: This is a moving target. And I think we have to recognize that.

ROWLANDS: In some cases, the cause is identified and the problem is corrected. But many times the cause isn't clear. While federal investigators search spinach fields for clues in the current E. coli case, the industry is hoping that there isn't another significant outbreak involving another food product.

JOE PEZZINI, OCEAN MIST FARMS: And no one in the industry wants someone to be ill from the products that we're producing.

ROWLANDS: Joe Pezzini helps oversee thousands of acres of crops in central California, including this 200-acre plot of spinach which, because of the E. coli scare, most likely will be destroyed. He says farmers have been aware of the problems for years. In fact, he and other producers received a letter late last year from the FDA that expressed, quote, "serious concern with the continuing outbreaks of foodborne illness."

(on camera): Many growers and health officials are hoping that the current investigation going on here in central California into the E. coli tainted spinach will not only yield answers in this case, but will serve as a wakeup call for the entire industry to reexamine their practices.

(voice-over): Growers and food producers are working with federal health officials on new safety precautions. The problem, they say, is that until someone figures out what's causing these outbreaks, it might not be possible to prevent more people from getting sick.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Salinas, California.


PHILLIPS: You can see more of Ted Rowland's reports on "PAULA ZAHN NOW," weeknights 8:00 Eastern only on CNN.

LEMON: Pretty serious stuff.

For four decades, it stood big and bright near Boston's Fenway Park. Now some want the landmark -- they want it to go. Others are not so sure about that. What's triggered the uproar ahead in the NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Citgo got to go.

It may be a landmark, but a giant sign advertising the Venezuelan-owned oil company may be banned in Boston after last week's tirade by Venezuela's president.

Here's CNN's Dan Lothian.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Citgo sign has been a Boston landmark since 1965, towering over the city and historic Fenway Park.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, that's how I know I'm home.

LOTHIAN: But Boston City Council Member Jerry McDermott wants the sign removed.

JERRY MCDERMOTT, BOSTON CITY COUNCIL: I'd like to see the biggest American flag that we could put there.

LOTHIAN: The sign is owned by Citgo, which is a subsidiary of Venezuela's oil company. McDermott, a Democrat, is still hot under the collar after that country's president, Hugo Chavez, blasted President Bush at the United Nations, calling him the devil.

MCDERMOTT: I thought it was disgusting to see a head of state come to our country, on our soil, and basically spit on America and insult our president.

LOTHIAN: The Chavez Citgo sign controversy heated up on talk radio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we change the Citgo sign?


LOTHIAN: Like Boston's WRKO.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the sign should stay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I say get rid of the sign. I just feel that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if we just put a -- draped a black cloth over it until there's a newly elected president of Venezuela?


LOTHIAN: Citgo tried to remove the sign more than 20 years ago, but the city fought to keep it. It has since undergone a $1 million facelift.

In a statement to CNN, a Citgo official said the company is proud of its American heritage, that goes back nearly a century. And he added that the Citgo sign is an important part of that heritage.

(on camera): Chances are the sign will stay put. But the Boston City Council will take up the matter at its next meeting on Wednesday. A public hearing could soon follow.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: All right. A super celebration in the Crescent City, and favorite target of the tabloids talks about all that unwanted attention. With more on all those juicy details, here's "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT"'s A.J. Hammer in New York.

That is pretty juice.

A.J. HAMMER, ENTERTAINMENT ANCHOR: I got the juice for you, Don, I got it right here.

LEMON: All right.

HAMMER: It has been more than a year, as we know, since the devastating waters flooded the iconic American city. But now, finally, a gleaming white symbol of hope has returned to the Big Easy. The Superdome is back. And in a big way. A packed house is going to fill the newly-updated structure tonight, as the city's beloved home team, the Saints, hope to continue their 2-0 winning streak against the Atlanta Falcons. They happen to also be 2-0.

Adding to the excitement, lots of great music, an all-star lineup tonight, including U2, Green Day and the Goo-Goo Dolls.


THE EDGE, U2: There's a lot of people concentrating on rebuilding the bricks and mortar, as it were, the body of the city, but we feel that music is the spirit and the heart and soul of the city. So that's what we're trying to work on.

BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG, GREEN DAY: How influential music has been for this area, you know, any kind of support that we can give them, just to sort of bring some celebration back to the city, you know, is really important.


HAMMER: As for the pregame coin toss, those honors are going to Former President George H.W. Bush. He is going to be flanked by 150 of Katrina's first responders.

Off the field now and onto the big screen. America's favorite prankster, Ashton Kutcher, is taking a turn for the serious side with his new role in "The Guardian".


ASHTON KUTCHER, ACTOR: I'm here to exceed your expectations, senior chief. I'm a rescue swimmer at heart, born, bred and water- fed. Ooh-rah!.

KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR: Wow, I bet you practiced that all morning.


HAMMER: He's playing alongside Academy Award winner Kevin Costner. Kutcher's playing a guy Jake Fisher (ph). He's a champion athlete turned Coast Guard recruit, and he's training to be one of the military's most elite rescue swimmers.

The film's hectic shooting schedule kept both stars busy, tired and very, very wet but it's not the demands in front of the camera that Kutcher says are the most exhausting. Kutcher says it's the media's attention to his personal life and marriage to actress Demi Moore that is the most daunting.


KUTCHER: I don't like paparazzi stealing photos of my family because it's not for sale. I made a piece of art that is for sale and I want to support that. I want to give all I have for that, but I'm not willing to give my family. I'm not willing to give my friends. I'm not willing to give my wife. I'm not willing to give any of that up for that.


HAMMER: You can understand where the guy is coming from. "The Guardian" is rated PG-13. It opens nationwide this Friday.

And Don, we've been hearing from celebs a lot lately about just how concerned they are over the constant scrutiny of the media. Even Lionel Richie telling me last week and telling "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" that he was concerned for his daughter Nicole Richie's safety. It's a terrible thing at times when the paparazzi's constantly swarming these guys.

LEMON: Yes, and you can't walk past a newsstand without seeing Nicole Richie's face on the cover of something. And Kyra and I were just talking about that. People say it comes with the territory, but, still, you have to want your privacy now matter what...

PHILLIPS: Don't you guys remember, though, in our law classes during journalism school, we learned about if you're a public figure, you're up against things that not just an average individual is. I mean, your rights in many ways are waived because of what you do.


HAMMER: No, there's no question about that. And that's something we talk a lot about on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT", particularly how the line does get crossed, or is there a line? In fact, I was talking to Russell Crowe about that this morning. We'll have more on that.

Also tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" we begin our weeklong series "Hollywood Weight Watch". Hollywood's biggest stars reveal their personal and sometimes grueling battles to lose their weight and to keep it off. We've got those revealing interviews tonight and all this week on T.V.'s most provocative entertainment news show, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN headline prime.

Guys, back to you.

LEMON: Very hot ticket of course. Tonight, New Orleans.

PHILLIPS: That's right. Wish we were all there.

All right, A.J., see you later.

HAMMER: Take care.

PHILLIPS: Well, coming up, one of the so-called driving forces in the 2004 elections: "Security Moms".


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reason I voted the way I did was for safety reasons and I do not, you know, feel that I have that safety.


PHILLIPS: Some folks say they powered Republicans to victory two years ago. Will that be the case this year? We're going to take a look.

LEMON: And this is the most talked about interview on television. Former President Bill Clinton fires back at his critics on his terror record, his views on the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Ahead, in the NEWSROOM.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, midterm elections are only a few weeks away. is launching the political ticker Web site, a news service giving you an unprecedented look into each day's political stories as they are happening.

CNN political ticker will track the latest political developments, stories and polls, a must read for any news junkie. From Washington to L.A., this sight is the destination for the most up-to-date political news at your fingertips, including the top stories from other major news sources across the country.

And you can also sign up for our political ticker "A.M. Edition" e-mail and receive the top news stories in your inbox every morning. So keep up with the very latest political news as we head into midterm elections. Point your browsers to

For the ".Com Desk" I'm Veronica de la Cruz.