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Accused Astronaut Returns Home; Helicopter Downed in Iraq; Families of Murdered Contractors Demand Answers from Congress; Tim Russert to Testify in Scooter Libby Trial; Consumer Group Raises Concerns about the Pill

Aired February 07, 2007 - 13:00   ET


DON LEMON, CO-HOST: Right. OK, Miles O'Brien in New York, thank you for joining us. You are our aviation expert, and you guided us through this, as you normally do with situations like this.
This is a small plane. I'm here with Fredricka Whitfield. This is Don Lemon in the CNN NEWSROOM. We broke into programming. But a small plane had some problems, right Fredricka, at an airport in Cobb County, McCollum Airfield, and you're looking at it. It was circling there. And according to Miles and other folks, it may be burning off some fuel, getting the hydraulics together.

And as I said, there goes the ambulance to take care of this. But it appears to all be safe. So we're going to start. The CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CO-HOST: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Kyra Phillips.

Lisa Marie Nowak, back home in Houston. Now what? CNN's Ed Lavandera is talking to the fallen astronaut's friends to learn what may have made her snap.

LEMON: And 100 percent heterosexual? Well, evangelist Ted Haggard is out of rehab and talking about it. Can three weeks of counseling completely change someone? That's the question.

WHITFIELD: Another deadly helicopter crash in Iraq, five now in the past weeks. Our military analyst, Don Shepperd, weighs in on the problem.

You're live in the NEWSROOM.

Well, she left Texas a respected astronaut. Today, she returned a multiple felony suspect. Lisa Nowak is back in Houston a day after being accused in an apparent love triangle.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live with that story for us -- Ed.


Well, Lisa Nowak arrived here in Houston this morning on a flight, a commercial flight, from Orlando to Houston. Remember, she drove to Orlando, according to authorities there.

When she arrived here in Houston, she did not come out through the terminal of the airport. She was whisked away, down the escalators, or down the stairs, onto a ramp, the tarmac where she was escorted by Houston police.

And we've been told by officials here in NASA, just south of Houston, that Lisa Nowak is here, now meeting and undergoing a physical and psychological evaluation. Officials won't say anything beyond that. But they will confirm she is here, undergoing those evaluations. They won't get into any more details, as to exactly what that entails.

And we haven't heard from her family or many people near here, other than what some people have been saying that they're completely shocked by all of this, at least at the very initial developments here. Many people unaware of exactly what was going on. That might change, of course, in the coming days.

But we do know that Lisa Nowak here in Houston, undergoing psychological and physical evaluations now -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Ed Lavandera in Houston for us. Thank you. We'll check back with you, thanks.

WHITFIELD: And just to recap the breaking story we were following moments ago. A sigh of relief and a safe landing, an emergency landing.

You're looking at the pictures right now, taken just moments ago when this private plane had to make an emergency landing at McCollum Field in Cobb County just outside of Georgia.

It's unclear what kind of problems this plane was experiencing, something possibly about its landing gear. It had to circle this airfield quite a few times to burn off some fuel before making this attempted emergency landing, which turned out to be a successful emergency landing. Emergency crews there on the ground to welcome it. It appears as though everyone on board just might be OK as a result of the landing.

When we get more of this story about exactly what this plane was experiencing in the air, we'll be able to bring that to you.

Meantime, another American helicopter down in Iraq. We're not sure yet what happened, but we do have word from the Pentagon about the troops who were on board. Straight to Baghdad now and CNN's Arwa Damon -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, the U.S. military here in Baghdad also just putting out a press release confirming that all seven personnel on board that CH-46 that crashed in the volatile al Anbar province were killed, saying the crash is under investigation.

Now this did happen some 20 miles northwest of Baghdad. We do know that quick reaction forces, QR (ph) forces, responded to the scene of the incident. The area where it took place, known to be a Sunni extremist insurgent stronghold. In fact, the Islamic State of Iraq, this umbrella insurgent group, has taken responsibility for it. It is very closely affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq.

This is the fifth helicopter to have crashed in Iraq since January 20. Something that is raising great concerns amongst the U.S. military, who has already confirmed that the first four helicopters were brought down by some sort of enemy ground fire, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And so what is this telling the U.S. military, Arwa, about the sophistication of those who have the ground to air missiles to bring down these helicopters?

DAMON: Well, Fredricka, really, there are a number of conclusions to be drawn here. And first and foremost, is that these five helicopters crashed in different parts of the country or were rather brought down by some sort of ground fire in different parts of the country.

Some of them occurring in predominantly Sunni areas. One of the incidents, crash in Najaf, taking place in a predominantly Shia area. So it is interesting to see what kind of conclusion the military is going to draw once it's done with its investigation, whether it was surface to air missiles that caused these crashes or some sort of small arms fire.

It could very well be that the insurgency is developing better techniques for bringing down U.S. aircrafts. We have seen the insurgency developing over the last four years, developing more sophisticated techniques, not just to target aircrafts but to target U.S. and Iraqi troops while they're moving around the country. And the U.S. troops have been forced to respond to this by adjusting their methods of operation here, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Arwa Damon there, from Baghdad. Of course, we'll talk more about those kinds of adjustments that are going to have to be made by the U.S. military in Iraq.

Our Major General Don Shepperd joins us to talk about the very role of military helicopters in that country and why so many have been lost in such a short amount of time.

LEMON: And they are supposed to protect others, but are they the ones who are in need of protecting? One of the recent chopper crashes in Iraq killed five U.S. security contractors, all working for Blackwater USA.

This isn't the first time Blackwater workers have come under attack, and their families are sick of it. They say the company that sent them to war also sent them to die.

CNN's Andrea Koppel heard some emotional testimony before a House panel today -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, that's right. This is the first attempt by Congress to investigate the shadowy world of private military contractors in Iraq. The estimates are that there are about 100,000 contractors in Iraq at a cost of billions of dollars to the U.S. taxpayer.

Congressman Henry Waxman, who's the chair of this committee, said that it is done without accountability and it is costing American lives.


REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT & GOVERNMENT REFORM: If taxpayers are paying for layers and layers and layers of private bureaucracy, and if somebody who's getting taxpayers' dollars tells even highly trained American veterans that they're going to have body armor, they're going to have armed vehicles or they're going to have special people with them to help them carry out their job, we ought to know whether they failed to do that because of indifference or negligence or incompetence.


KOPPEL: Now, at the center of today's hearing is one of the most famous incidents of the war involving four American contractors working for Blackwater USA. That was in March 2004.

The men were ambushed. They were burned. And they were strung up from a bridge. Their families allege that Blackwater sent the men into Fallujah without the protection they had been promised, and are suing Blackwater to find out what happened.

Now, some of these family members testified this morning. And under questioning by lawmakers, they were asked what they would want Blackwater to tell them if they had the opportunity to ask them.


DONNA ZOVKO, MOTHER OF JERRY ZOVKO: The truth, the simple plain truth: Mrs. Zovko, Donna (ph), this is what happened, this is how it happened. You couldn't see your son's body, but we're telling you that this is how it is.

It would be good, but do you know that the remains of my son were sent to me in 11 months, the first one in ten days? And then what was left of him, 11 months later?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They sent his charred arm to her.


KOPPEL: Obviously, some gruesome comments during today's hearing.

Now, this afternoon, during testimony that's going on right now, lawmakers are hearing from Blackwater USA. Right there, you're looking at the man who is the general counsel for Blackwater USA. They're hearing from the U.S. Department of the Army and from a number of subcontractors who work for Blackwater USA -- Don. LEMON: All right, Andrea Koppel on Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: A tale of the tapes. Will they support or contradict former White House aide "Scooter" Libby in the matter of Valerie Plame? We'll get the latest from a Washington courtroom straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And new concerns about a birth control pill used by millions of women. That's ahead right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Well, there's a stark turn in the "Scooter" Libby trial. After spending 2 1/2 days listening to tapes of Libby's grand jury testimony, the jury is about to hear in person from the prosecution star witness, NBC's Tim Russert.

I understand Brian Todd is there in Washington.

Brian, Tim Russert just arrived to court.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He did, Don. He is scheduled to testify, probably less than an hour from now, some time in the 2 p.m. hour here at U.S. district court, Tim Russert arriving just a short time ago.

As you mentioned, we just finished hearing more than eight hours of grand jury testimony on tape from Lewis "Scooter" Libby. That testimony taking the better part of two days to play in court here.

The highlights from that, essentially "Scooter" Libby telling the grand jury -- this was back in March of 2004 -- that he first heard the name of the wife of administration critic Joe Wilson. He first heard that that lady worked for the CIA from Vice President Cheney.

Then he told a grand jury that he forgot that he had heard that from Dick Cheney and then thought that he had heard it for the first time from Tim Russert of NBC News, the gentleman who is about to take the stand here.

Now Tim Russert is going to, very, very likely, contradict that testimony and say that when he spoke to "Scooter" Libby about a month after "Scooter" Libby said he heard it from Dick Cheney, that the name of that CIA operative, Valerie Plame Wilson, never came up. That is what we expect to hear from Tim Russert in the coming hour.

But a lot of dramatic grand jury testimony played over the past two days, Don. The news media is going to get a copy of that in a couple of hours, and we'll be able to dissect a lot more of that for you.

LEMON: It's going to be very interesting. Brian Todd, we'll check back as soon as that happens. Thank you so much for that report.

TODD: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And birth control pills have gone through two major changes since they first hit the market in the 1960s. But newer may not always be better. A consumer group warns the newest generation of the pill -- that it isn't safe. It's a story that affects millions of women.

For some perspective on this, we look to our CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, women will hear this and will immediately get scared because millions and millions of women are on birth control pills.

So we're going to put this in perspective, but we're going to tell you what Public Citizen wants. That's a consumer group. And they want this newest generation of birth control pills off the market.

They say, look, the risk of having a blood clot on this newest generation is twice as high as the risk of having a blood clot on one of the older versions of the pill. So they say, well, why not just take it off the market and let the women take the other types of pill?

Now these pills contain an ingredient called desogestrel, and they're sold under various brand names. We're going to show them to you here so you can take a look and see if perhaps you're taking them. Seven point five million prescriptions were written last year for pills sold under these names.

Now, it's important to keep this risk in perspective. Even though it's twice as high as the other types of pills, if you look at women in the first year that they take start taking these pills with the desogestrel, about one out of a thousand will have a blood clot. So the risk is there but it is not extremely, extremely high.

Let's take a look at what the companies who make these pills have to say. One company says, "The labeling that accompanies the company's oral contraceptive products provides all the necessary warnings and precautions for the appropriate use of these products."

Another company says, "When used as labeled, Ortho-Cept is a safe and effective birth control choice."

And in fact, the FDA has, since the mid-90s, been putting out warnings about the possible increased risk of blood clots on these types of meds.

WHITFIELD: So if there are these potential dangers, why would anybody even want to take the chance and opt for that type?

COHEN: Right, because there are so many other types out there. Well, we asked some gynecologists this question. We said, "Why don't you just prescribe the ones that appear to be much safer?"

And they said, look, some women go through birth control pill after birth control pill after birth control pill. One doesn't work. They don't like one for this reason. They don't like one for another reason. Perhaps one pill makes them feel nauseous. There are lots of different reasons. So this is another tool in the arsenal. So for some women who can't tolerate the other types, this may be all that they have left.

WHITFIELD: So how do you make the best choice for yourself?

COHEN: The way you make the best choice is you talk to your doctor. This type of birth control, the pill, has risks, and so do other types of birth control pills. There is no perfect form of birth control. So you have to talk to your doctor and you have to decide what you want to do.

Now if you do decide to go on the pill, here are the issues that you should be thinking about. Here are the things that you should be watching out for. Signing of blood clots such as pain, swelling and tenderness and redness. Those are things that you can look for so that you know if perhaps a blood clot is perhaps headed your way, unfortunately.

WHITFIELD: All right, all great advice. Thanks so much, Elizabeth.

LEMON: The emotional highs of spaceflight. The lows of life on earth.


JON CLARK, FORMER NASA FLIGHT SURGEON: They've been on this tremendous high, and then there's this tremendous low that follows, this vacuum that follows. And that's a period, I think, that they're very vulnerable.


LEMON: "AMERICAN MORNING's" Miles O'Brien reports on the stress astronauts face. That's straight ahead, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Wow. Look at that.


LEMON: If bigger is better this one certainly meets the qualifications. It doesn't get any bigger than this. The brand-new Airbus A-380 can hold more than 500 passengers, one of whom today was our very own Richard Quest. And we'll ask him about his flight just a little bit later on in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: And the man whose company has made billions from legal downloads is asking the music industry to abandon its primary weapon against online piracy. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with the details about the latest efforts, which I'm sure does really appeal to music lovers -- Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. We're going from that supersized airplane to something really tiny, like the Nano.

Steve Jobs' online letter to the music industry on Apple's web site is certainly creating a buzz. He's calling for the world's major record labels to remove anti-piracy technology from songs sold online. This obviously would mark a major change for the music industry.

Jobs claims the anti-piracy software isn't doing much to deter illegal downloads, but it is limiting the growth of legal downloading. That's because record companies still sell more than 90 percent of their music on CDs. CDs aren't protected. So songs can easily be copied to a computer and shared online -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And so if the change does go through, would I be able to buy a song on, say, iTunes and then play it on Microsoft's Zune Microsoft player if I had one?

LISOVICZ: Yes, and this is one of the major complaints, is that, you know, to get the music and share the music, it's really one of the major stumbling blocks with digital music.

Right now, songs bought on iTunes can only be played on an iPod. The same goes for other music players. Jobs says that if music could be bought online without restrictions, the marketplace would open, encouraging new investment and, of course, we, the consumer, would benefit.

But there's something in it for Apple, too. The company is under pressure from several European consumer agencies who want Apple to make its online music store iTunes compatible with other music players, not just the iPod. If Apple doesn't act it could face legal action.


LISOVICZ: And that's latest from Wall Street.

Coming up, the world's biggest retailer is hit with the biggest sexual discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history. I'll have details next hour.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

WHITFIELD: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in today for Kyra Phillips. From NASA astronaut to attempted murder suspect, what happened to Lisa Marie Nowak? A stunned friend speaks out about the stress of flying so high.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Well, she left Texas a respected astronaut. Today, she returned a multiple felony suspect.

Lisa Nowak is back in Houston a day after being accused in an apparent love triangle. She flew from Orlando on a commercial flight and sped away in a police car.

NASA says she was taken to Johnson Space Center for a medical and psychological evaluation. The space agency has grounded Nowak and placed her on 30-day paid leave.

WHITFIELD: Time was a trip to space was a ticket to immortality. Astronauts were national heroes and household names. They also were, and are, humans, living high pressure lives that somehow combine the ordinary with the out of this world.

CNN's Miles O'Brien takes a closer look.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Jon Clark is no longer with NASA but he's still part of the family, and that family is in shock.

CLARK: It was very apparent that she's under a huge amount of stress and, obviously, she was not thinking right.

O'BRIEN: Lisa Nowak was there for Clark and his son Ian on some very dark days. Clark's wife, Laurel, perished on the Space Shuttle Columbia four years ago. The two had much in common: both naval officers, astronaut classmates, working moms.

CLARK: She loved kids. They loved their family life. They loved gardening and flowers. And, you know, she was very close to Lisa, and that's the part of it. I sit there and I think, you know, if somebody's under enough emotional stress, who knows what could happen?

O'BRIEN: As a former NASA flight surgeon, Clark has seen the stress through a doctor's eyes, as well. He says many astronauts do not have happy landings after the emotional high of spaceflight.

CLARK: They've been on this tremendous high, and then there's this tremendous low that follows, this vacuum that follows. And that's a period, I think, that they're very vulnerable. And I think that might be the case, you know, here, too.

O'BRIEN: Lisa Nowak flew to space for the first time in July. If she needed psychological help post-mission, it would be no surprise that she did not seek it. MIKE MULLANE, FORMER ASTRONAUT: You gotta understand, for astronauts, it is a life quest. This isn't a job. This is a dream for us. And we have worked our entire lives to achieve this dream and we don't want to get anything -- have anything get in the way of having it realized on a mission into space.

O'BRIEN: Former astronaut Mike Mullane flew on the shuttle three times, start in the late '80s. He reluctantly sought out a NASA psychiatrist because of problems he had with a boss.

MULLANE: They don't just lock us in a tube and say "deal with it" like I'm getting the impression some people think.

O'BRIEN: But it is an elite club, a type-A-plus fraternity. The ranks always closed, allowing problems to fester. The divorce rate is high and astronauts say extramarital affairs are not uncommon. Seldom discussed outside the family.

HOMER HICKAM, FORMER NASA ENGINEER: For years, we've left it up to the astronauts to essentially pick their own membership. They're brought in, they're beholden to the people who brought them in, they have become part of this little fraternity. They become isolated down in Houston to a great extent.

O'BRIEN: Former NASA Engineer Homer Hickam is author of the book that inspired the movie "October Sky." He says there are too many astronauts facing too few seats to space; the competition almost inhumane.

HICKAM: The astronaut office (ph), in my opinion, really needs to be broken up. It needs to be spread around all of the NASA centers. It needs to get out -- the people in the astronaut office need to get out into the real world a little bit, breathe a little fresh air, and understand what's really going on in the world.

O'BRIEN: Miles O'Brien, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: So why would a mother, a brilliant scientist, her star seemingly on the rise at NASA, do what police said she did? At least in Nowak's case has baffled anyone. But talking with CNN's Paula Zahn, a renowned psychiatrist warned against jumping to any conclusions.


DR. KEITH ABLOW, PSYCHIATRIST: It's really a spectrum, Paula. You know, you have people who receive information in an even-handed way, say, affection from a friend, a male friend, that she may have received. Then there are other people who develop over-valued ideas.

They come to believe, wait, we have a special relationship. But it's a shakable feeling. Well, if I get other information, I'll believe maybe it's not so special. Then there are people who do become delusional, and they do have a kind of fixation and delusion that suggest, no, no, no, we have a loving relationship. We're meant for each other for all time. That can accompany depression. That can be a delusion in and of itself. So we need the facts to come in before we diagnose this woman.


WHITFIELD: Join Paula for more on this story tonight at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

LEMON: It is still a bit icy -- if you want to call that a bit -- a bit icy in parts of the country, especially so in the Great Lakes. Parts of Upstate New York have as much as -- get this -- 62 inches of snow on the ground. That is 5 feet, 2 inches.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness.

LEMON: Wind chill advisories remain in effect across the Midwest. The brutal cold blamed for at least 11 deaths. Any warmth in the sight for all those areas? I can't believe that, 5 feet of snow, Jacqui Jeras.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I'm 5'7", so like what up to my nose maybe, can you imagine? That doesn't mention, you know, the snow they've had prior to Saturday, which has been a bit.

Go ahead and add almost a whole 'nother person on top of me.

LEMON: Really?

WHITFIELD: That's incredible.

JERAS: It is. It's just amazing. Even for them this is a pretty big deal. But schools are still open. They're getting around. They're doing it.

LEMON: They're used to it. We're not down here.

JERAS: I know, when you get that much snow, you really do have to use a lot of caution. Visibility is very low. The other thing to think about, too, is you've got that five feet of snow on top of roofs. If it collects up, you need to start pulling the snow down. You are going to be worried about things like collapsed roofs, as well.


WHITFIELD: In the middle of winter, a heartwarming story from I-Reporter Jake Toering. Here's his neighbor, Bill, who came over to clear Jake's driveway in snow-bound St. Joseph, Michigan. Jake just had knee surgery and was wondering how in the world he'd be able to do all this, because of the physical therapy he needed to get as well.

LEMON: It is a beautiful picture though.

WHITFIELD: Yes, that was a nice neighbor.

LEMON: That's a tough job. I-Reporter Craig Boyko thinks this could be a Norman Rockwell painting. It actually could. Look at that. A cider mill in the foothills of the Adirondacks usually operational, unless the water wheel is frozen like it is now.

WHITFIELD: Oh, darn. Love that hot cider, when you can get it. If you see severe weather happening, sent us an I-Report. report. Or type into your cell phone and share some of your photos or video with us, and everyone else.

LEMON: Well, Ted Haggard, resurfaces. The disgraced former church leader has a message for his congregation. We'll tell you what it is, ahead in the NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: And another routine traffic stop you say? Well, only for about 2 1/2 seconds. It's the video of the day. And the NEWSROOM has it, coming up.


LEMON: Disgraced evangelist Ted Haggard says he's back on the straight and narrow -- or at least, straight. Three months after a gay fling and a drug buy prompted a spectacular fall from grace, Haggard says he's redeemed, restored, and completely heterosexual. CNN's Brian Todd has that story.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He at first denied knowing a male prostitute. But when recorded calls were made public, he admitted.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you call him about?

HAGGARD: I called him to buy some meth, but I threw it away.

TODD: Then he denied the man's allegations of a sexual affair but said --

HAGGARD: I went there for a massage.

TODD: And later he confessed to sexual immorality. Now Reverend Ted Haggard says Jesus is starting to put him back together. In an e- mail to his former congregation, obtained by CNN from the New Life Church, Haggard says, quote, "I've been paralyzed by shame." And says he's gotten through weeks of intensive psychological treatment in Arizona.

According to the "Denver Post" Haggard has told a church panel, responsible for his discipline that "He is convinced he is completely heterosexual." And that his sexual contact with men was limited to his accuser.

A psychologist who has treated clergy, but not Haggard, believes that reported communication is a kind of code to Haggard's followers. DR. JACK DRESCHER, AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOC.: By declaring one is no longer engaging in that behavior, to people of that faith, it's like saying they're not homosexual anymore because they believe homosexuality is just a behavior, not identity.

TODD: Last November Haggard was fired from the 14,000 member New Life Church and resigned as leader as the National Association of Evangelicals, after his dealings with the former prostitute were made public.

But that man's credibility was also questioned when he failed a lie detector test. No charges have been filed against either man.

(On camera): What becomes of Ted Haggard now? In his e-mail to the congregation, he says he and his wife plan to move away from Colorado Springs, possibly to Missouri or Iowa, and will pursue their masters degrees in psychology. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: And take a look at this. Hopefully this has never happened to you. This is what they call a routine traffic stop, but really for only about two and a half seconds. It is the video of the day and the NEWSROOM has it. Whoa, coming up.


LEMON: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. You want to know what's happening online right now at, the most popular? It is this story, prehistoric lovers found locked in eternal embrace. Look at this amazing find in Italy. Two skeletons locked in eternal embrace. The young couple has been this way for at least 5,000 years.

Even more remarkable this is the same town in Italy that played a role in Shakespeare's timeless classic "Romeo and Juliette." And this is new video, just in. This is sure to the most popular on the video list on our website Check it out.

We want to tell you this. This story is so amazing we sent a reporter there to check it out, Fredricka. Our Jennifer Eccleston on her way to check this out.

WHITFIELD: It is fascinating.

LEMON: Buried between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago. They're believed to have been a man and woman thought to have died young, and their teeth were found intact. That is all on our website today. That's CNN's most popular.

WHITFIELD: It is remarkable. We, of course, all look forward to hearing more about it as Jennifer gets on the ground there.

Well, it is a grim reality for the men and women who patrol the nation's highways. On any given day, any traffic stop can turn into a matter of life and death. For proof, check out a newly released police video from Utah. Reporter Marcus Ortiz of CNN affiliate KTVX spoke with a lawman who found himself in hot pursuit of an armed and dangerous driver.


DEPUTY JOHN CROWLEY, DUCHESNE COUNTY, UTAH: Plates came back to 2006 Ford truck, which obviously, this isn't a Ford truck. Initiated my lights and pulled him over.

Let's see you license and registration on that.


MARCUS ORTIZ, REPORTER, KTVX (voice over): But the suspect, Tony Francis, takes off. The Duchesne County Sheriff Deputy John Crowley jumps in his unit and goes after him.


ORTIZ: Crowley calls for backup as he hit speeds of 70 miles an hour on Highway 191, south of Duchesne.

CROWLEY: Just trying to keep him in sight, see if he's going to throw anything out of the vehicle, any drugs or anything like that.

ORTIZ: For nearly 20 minutes, he follows the suspect, talking with other deputies, setting a plan. A fellow deputy catches up as they approach snowy Indian Canyon.

CROWLEY: You can actually see inside the vehicle. He's reaching around, grabbing things. We found out later what he was doing was putting on extra clothes.

ORTIZ: As the chase continues, Crowley's instinct tells him Francis may have a gun. The suspect's vehicle starts spinning.


CROWLEY: He starts losing control. He comes out. I pull over to stop. He exits the vehicle. You see the two flashes. He comes straight at me. Saw the flashes and glass fly in front of my face like slow motion.

ORTIZ: Francis keeps shooting, Deputy Crowley gets out of his pickup, but Francis jumps into Crowley's truck. By this time, other deputies catch up and unload a barrage of shots towards Francis.


Francis, who is in Crowley's pickup truck, crashes into the mountain.

CROWLEY: He was dead before he even got that far. It was scary. I'll tell you that. It was -- it was intense, it was scary, it shook up the whole community here.


WHITFIELD: Almost a year after that chase and shootout, Deputy Crowley says it still gives him chills to look at that video.

LEMON: We bring the stories to you as they happen here. New developments on the political front. CNN has the best political team on television. We know that. We have some exciting news to share with us right now.

For that, we go to our very own Wolf Blitzer. He's joining us from "The Situation Room."

What's happening, Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Another presidential debate. We're going to be hosting another presidential debate, Don and Fred. And it is very exciting, Nevada. It's emerging as a key early state in this election cycle, especially for the Democrats.

Right now, we've always known that New Hampshire and Iowa are the early states. But the Democratic National Committee has decided Nevada will go second this time around, after the caucus in Iowa, there will be a caucus in Nevada, followed by the first primary in the nation in New Hampshire.

We'll be hosting a Nevada Democratic presidential debate on November 4th at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. This will follow the first two presidential debates we're going to be cosponsoring in New Hampshire, Republican presidential debate on April 4th of this year; a Democratic presidential debate on April 5th.

We're co-sponsoring those with WMUR TV in Manchester, New Hampshire, as well as with the New Hampshire "Union Leader". What we're announcing today is that together with the Democratic Party, in Nevada, we're going to be hosting the first Democratic presidential debate, in that state. It will be November 4th of this year.

That is exactly, -- exactly, Don -- one year to the day before the election in November of 2008. So it's going to be an exciting time for all of us. The political process is speeding up. It's getting accelerated every single day. And we're going to be right in the thick of things from day one.

LEMON: It's a long way off, really, before the election. We have a number of candidates on the Democratic side, as well as on the Republican side. On the Democratic side you will need a much bigger wall, Wolf, just to put them in there.

Also during the debate, that will be a lot of folks. I want to ask you, though, I'm not as big a political junkie as you are, you cover it every day. Nevada seems a bit odd or unusual. Is this a first?

BLITZER: Yes, it's going to be a different democratic than exists in Iowa. Different demographic in New Hampshire. It's out West. There are a lot of union workers in Nevada, certainly a lot of Hispanics, and others.

As a result, the Democrats decided, you know what, it's good in those early contests to test the waters out West as well, which could be crucial in this presidential election cycle. So, you know, we'll go to Las Vegas. We'll go to Iowa. We'll go to New Hampshire. We'll go to South Carolina.

All of those early states to make sure we bring the political news, which has direct ramifications on all of our lives, whether war or peace, or taxes or health care. These are political decisions that will affect our lives. We want to make sure we get the best coverage available to all of our CNN viewers.

LEMON: Absolutely. The Democrats -- I think you mentioned -- holding their convention in Denver. So the West is really important this time.

BLITZER: It certainly is. And the reason that we're not going to doing a Republican debate, at least not that early in Nevada, the Republicans, unlike the Democrats, have not decided to have a caucus in between Iowa and New Hampshire. Only the Democrats have decided to do it on that early, accelerated calendar.

We'll do the Republican debate in New Hampshire April 4th. A Democratic presidential debate April 5th in New Hampshire. And now we'll do another Democratic presidential debate, a year before the election, November 4th, will be at UNLV, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for that debate.

LEMON: Wolf, help me out here. Who do we have? We have Senator Clinton running. We have Barack Obama running, we've got --

BLITZER: John Edwards.

LEMON: John Edwards running.

BLITZER: We've got Chris Dodd. You have got a lot of Democratic candidates, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson. If you go through all the list, there are eight or 10 and there may be more by the time the debates take place. On the Republican side, it's wide open as well. The first time on all of the sides, both the Democratic and Republican side, there's no heir apparent, no incumbent, or former president or vice president.

As a result, it's going to be a wide-open contest, which makes it all the more exciting, not only for us, but for people who are interested in presidential politics. I think all of us should be, given the impact that these decisions -- we will make as voters, the decisions we make will have an enormous impact on our lives on a day- to-day basis.

LEMON: Hey, Wolf, we've got to pay some bills. Real quickly, got a nugget for what's happening in "The Situation Room" today?

BLITZER: We're going to talk about this and a lot more. Joe Lieberman will join us. He's an independent, but he caucuses with the Democrats. He supports the president on the war. The Hammer will be joining us as well, the former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. We have a great strategy session, Paul Begala, Bill Bennett. All that starts at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

LEMON: We will be watching. Thank you, Wolf Blitzer.

WHITFIELD: And that's all out of Washington. Also out of Washington, we're waiting for a press conference out of the Justice Department to give us more details about several members of the U.S. military who served in Iraq and military contractors as well serving there who will be charged with conspiracy, money laundering, and bribery, all in connection with fraudulent use of funds in Iraq.

When that press conference takes place, we'll be able to bring that to you. More of the NEWSROOM when we come right back.


WHITFIELD: It was just announced here on CNN, that our best political team on television will be hosting a presidential debate on November 4th in Nevada. But first the debates heat up in New Hampshire April 4th and 5th.

We have new poll numbers from there. The Granite State is looking like a rocky road for some presidential hopefuls. More from CNN's Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice over): It's neck in neck in New Hampshire. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are nearly tied.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for having me here at this New Hampshire First in the Nation Rally. I appreciate that very much.

SCHNEIDER: The poll is not good news for McCain. McCain won the New Hampshire primary in 2000. And he's been leading polls of New Hampshire Republicans for the past two years -- until now. Giuliani seems to have gotten a boost from his visit to New Hampshire last month. Not from moderate Republicans, where McCain leads Giuliani nearly two to one, Giuliani seems to be rallying conservatives in New Hampshire, despite his views on social issues.

RUDY GIULIANI (R) FMR. NEW YORK MAYOR: We have to reassert our -- the basic core principles of the Republican Party. We've got to be -- you know, we've got to be about being Republican strong, not Democrat light.

SCHNEIDER: In 2000, McCain was helped by independents who voted in the Republican primary. But Granite State independents are strongly anti-Bush and anti-war. This year, two-thirds of them say they plan to vote in the Democratic primary.

Hillary Clinton is still in first place among New Hampshire Democratic primary voters. But Barack Obama has vaulted into the number two spot. Clinton commands the loyalty of registered Democrats.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've been fighting for more than 35 years on behalf of poor people and children and women and families.

SCHNEIDER: But her lead is considerably smaller among independents who intend to vote in the Democratic primary. They like Obama's stand on the war.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was opposed to this invasion, publicly, frequently, before it began.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): For voters the toughest choice is often between candidates with similar views. McCain and Giuliani, Clinton and Obama. That's why the New Hampshire primary could get close in both parties, and very exciting. Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.