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Internet Political Stash; Fighting in Iraq; Grammy Preview

Aired February 11, 2007 - 19:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: This is the push to retake an Iraqi town. One of our crews documents U.S. forces on the move. It is a CNN exclusive next in the NEWSROOM.
Name calling on the campaign trail. Nothing new, unless, of course, it involves a world leader.




SANCHEZ: Yep, the scream heard round the world. You remember it, right? It became a key piece of viral video during the last presidential campaign. OK, what is a viral video? Stick around, you'll find out.

I'm Rick Sanchez in the CNN NEWSROOM and this week as the House debates the war in Iraq and the Senate continues bickering about the debate on the war in Iraq, American forces find themselves in the midst of almost constant battles like the one that we're about to show you.

In it you're going to see a group of soldiers trying to take back a town near Baquba and the fight played out today. CNN's Arwa Damon was witnessing it. And she's going to be joining us by phone in just a little bit to tell us what happened. As a matter of fact, I think we're able to talk to her now. Arwa, are you there?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on phone): Rick, yes, I am.

SANCHEZ: We were looking at some of this video. As a matter of fact, let's do this. Let's hold you where you are right now and let's let the viewers see the video that we're talking about. Let's play it, guys.

Looks like an awful lot of heavy artillery. What are we looking at here, Arwa?

DAMON: Well, Rick, basically the battle is really intense pretty much from the get-go. The U.S. and Iraqi forces immediately came under small arms fire, which basically sent everyone scrambling, trying to reorient themselves. What you're mainly looking at right there is a push that lasted eight hours and covered just about half a mile.

That road that you see in the video, so heavily laid with those deadly road-side bombs. Again they (ph) held up (ph) U.S. troops for eight hours, meanwhile coming under constant small arms fire. There were also very well-trained snipers out there and there were also insurgents firing rock rocket-propelled grenades and mortars at the same time.

You were also seeing Iraqi army soldiers firing a rocket-propelled grenade at one point towards a location where he believes the insurgents are firing from. You also see U.S. forces using pretty much all fire power at their disposal. They also had an Apache attack helicopter in the air at one point.

Again, this was a very intense battle from the very start. It's actually the second day that it's been ongoing in this town of Burritz just south of Baquba. Now Burritz for a long time was a thorn in the side of U.S. forces. There have been countless battles there where U.S. and Iraqi forces have tried to take the town back. They've managed to hold it for a certain amount of time and then eventually the insurgents have always taken it over.

In fact, as recently as December, al Qaeda in Iraq flew its flag from the massive Iraqi police station there and since that time in December, there has been very little U.S. and Iraqi presence in that town. Really al Qaeda and Iraq has managed to significantly increase the influence and the foothold that it has in that area, as is evident from the fighting that we saw today.

And today's operation's main aim is to try to take this town back once and for all so that they can eventually set up a permanent Iraqi police and Iraqi army force in that area that ideally will be able to hold that town so that it doesn't fall again to the insurgents. But what they're fighting out there today and what they were fighting there yesterday - in fact yesterday's battle saw one U.S. soldier killed by a sniper. Another wounded. An Iraqi army soldier killed in the fighting there as well and seven insurgents killed yesterday. They were actually dropping Hellfire missile missiles.

But again, what this battle really illustrates is what the U.S. and Iraqi troops are up against. This really underscores a number of issues that this country is facing, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Arwa, I think a lot of people watch this video and they think about you as a war correspondent out there. So I have to ask you the questions. How close were you to this gunfire? What was your position while all of this was going on and what were your personal impressions?

DAMON: Well, Rick, it really depends at which point in the battle how close we are. At times those shots do come uncomfortably close. You can actually hear the bullets whizzing past your ears. And at times the rocket-propelled grenades fall fairly close as well. In fact we had one fall fairly near us and luckily it was a dud so it didn't actually explode.

You can tell pretty much from the video what our proximity is. And if we're up close, you can see the shots up close. Sometimes the fighting is really face to face with where our position is. But again, this is what the U.S. troops are going through. And this is really what we're trying to illustrate as we move through this battle space. It's what the Americans and the Iraqis that are fighting alongside them are going through.

This was a fairly intense battle, especially in the very beginning when we first arrived on site at about 8:30 in the morning local time. It was fairly quiet and the first shots that came in really seemed at first to come out of nowhere, again, as I just mentioned, sending pretty much everyone scattering.

And it took a while for the U.S. and the Iraqi troops to get their bearings, to be able to creep their way forward. They were held up on a number of occasions. It really was an incredibly painstaking, long day. And as you know, the Americans like to describe battle, they say it is two percent pure adrenaline, 98 percent pure boredom. Rick?

SANCHEZ: Arwa Damon. You have illustrated it well. You're courageous to do so. And we appreciate you joining us and bringing us up to date on that. We'll be hopefully talking to you again.

Now, explosive charges leveled today against the government of Iran. The United States is alleging that American troops are dying from bombs made in Iran and then smuggled into Iraq on orders from officials in Tehran. CNN's Michael Ware is in Baghdad where U.S. experts outlined the case at a long-awaited briefing.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a war meant to confront al Qaeda, the American military says its troops are being killed by Iran.

In a background briefing in Baghdad that could not be taped, by three officials who cannot be named, the U.S. escalated its campaign of accusation against Tehran. The U.S. officials laid out what they call "a growing body of evidence" that a largely covert Iranian special forces unit arms, trains and advises Shia insurgents attacking coalition soldiers.

That unit is an element of the Iranian Revolution Guard corps. Its elite Quds force which the U.S. officials claim it takes orders directly from Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself.

Insisting the Quds force is funneling insurgents a range of arms from mortars to sniper rifles, grenades to machine guns. The American officials highlighted one weapon in particular they blame the Quds force for supplying. A roadside bomb, pioneered by Lebanese Hezbollah, so powerful it punches through the heaviest American armor with ease. Called an explosively formed penetrator or EFP.

The officials say the device has killed at least 170 American soldiers since it first emerged on the Iraqi battlefield in 2004.

But like much of the declassified information released during the briefing, it's a claim U.S. officials have made many times before. Insisting one of the bomb's key components needs fine machine tooling that can be traced back to Iran.

As can markings on mortars and explosives found inside Iraq, which show they were manufactured by Tehran. All part, the U.S. officials claim, of a wide-ranging Iranian program to target Americans, being carried out by Quds force officers of the kind American troops detained in Baghdad and the northern city of Irbil. Including one, a senior as the Quds force's operations chief.

While admitting there is no smoking gun of Iranian complicity, a Defense Department intelligence analyst says this is a sophisticated Iranian campaign being fought through a host of surrogate groups, maximizing Iran's deniability. If so, it's the same kind of proxy war techniques America's CIA used so successfully with Islamic allies against the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Though the much anticipated briefing was full of old allegations, there was a sprinkling of the new. Including this. According to the U.S. military, the Iraqi government has confirmed a political faction within its ranks has indeed received arms from Iran. But only for its own protection.

Something the military rejects, stating mortars and sniper rifles are weapons used for attack, not defense. Either way, outlining Iranian involvement is one thing. Stopping it is another. Michael Ware, CNN, Baghdad.


SANCHEZ: Meanwhile, some harsh words from a top ally in the war on terror against presidential hopeful, Barack Obama. Australia's prime minister says al Qaeda is praying that Obama wins. And the war of words does not end there. Our Ed Henry picks up the story from here.


ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just one day after Democrat Barack Obama launched his bid for president of the United States, a blast from down under.

JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: If I were running Al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March, 2008, and pray as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.

HENRY: A fierce ally of President Bush, conservative Australian prime minister John Howard was firing away at Obama's call for pulling all U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by the end of March, 2008.

The senator quickly fired back.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: If he's ginned up to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.

HENRY: A two-fer. A shot at the fact that about 1,000 Australian troops are in Iraq, and a poke at the plan to send more U.S. troops being pushed by the president, who is tight with Howard.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody said don't you -- "You and John Howard appear to be so close. Don't you have any differences?" And I said, "Yes, he doesn't have any hair."

HENRY: White House aides express surprise over Howard's criticism of Obama. But one official weighed in with support for the Australian, saying, "Prime Minister Howard knows that setting a timeline for a withdrawal sends the wrong signal to our enemies..."

Democrats, however, told the Aussie to butt out of the U.S. debate.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: The most charitable thing you can say about Mr. Howard's comment is it's bizarre. You know, we'll make our own judgments in this country with respect to elections.

HENRY: But a Republican presidential candidate declared that given their own sacrifice in Iraq, the Australians have a right to speak out.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that John Howard, while it wasn't a very complimentary statement, he is basically stating the truth, and that is that what we say on the Senate floor or on the House floor goes to a world audience, and it has an impact on not only allies, but also our adversaries.

HENRY: (on camera): The back story is that John Howard is facing a tough reelection because of his support for the war. Vice President Cheney is heading to Australia later this month to try and help. The White House can hardly afford to have another friend of the president go to way of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.


SANCHEZ: Let's talk a little weather now. One state is dealing with more than a few inches of snow. Other states are preparing for a snow-maker in the making.

Jacqui Jeras, as you see right there, is going to be tracking all of it for us right here at the weather center. And before we do that, let's go over to Reggie Aquito. Because he's in the thick of it, right, Reggie?

REGGIE AQUI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yeah. We're in Oswego, New York where up to 100 inches of snow brings out the party animal in some people. We'll have a live report from the snow bar coming up, Rick.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN CO-RRESPONDENT: And the snow storm in the making from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. Some heavy snow, freezing rain, and plain old rain. Who gets what? The details coming up in your forecast.

SANCHEZ: Jacqui Jeras, ladies and gentlemen. You'll be hearing from her. And possible new clues from Anna Nicole Smith's house. Also this.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: For 35 years, I don't think she even thought about running for office. She was trying to figure out how to solve problems.


SANCHEZ: That is former President Bill Clinton on his wife, the senator, and her run for the White House. You, by the way, are watching CNN, in case you didn't know. We are the most trusted name in news.


SANCHEZ: And as we welcome you back to the CNN NEWSROOM, we want to show you something that's called lake effect snow. And parts of Upstate New York have had just about enough of it. Up to 10 feet in some areas. It's snow that keeps falling and falling and falling. Look at Reggie Aqui. He's in Oswego, New York, right now. Where the folks -- I imagine, Reggie, you're starting to get cabin fever following this thing around so long.

AQUI: We are but I have to tell you, Rick, today was the reprieve. We didn't get any snow today. That's why folks had a chance to build something like this. This is the snow bar. A couple of neighbors and you're going to see them in a second, decide to build this because they got so sick and tired of all this snow and having to clean it up. So they wanted to have a party and a party is what they're having, aren't you guys tonight?

They're having a cook-out here. They're having a good old time. I'll tell you, though. When the snow is coming down -- and we traveled to a town that is just about a half hour from here. It is definitely no party. Check it out.


AQUI (voice-over): South of the border, the Canadian border, there's a Mexico that brags about its drinking water. A Mexico where bikinis are out and fur is in. Mexico, New York.

ED DAVIS, MEXICO, NEW YORK RESIDENT: Usually the winter don't -- it ain't this mean to us.

AQUI: After decades of snowy winters, Ed Davis is no stranger to a shovel. But even he can hardly believe where he has to go for the second time this week.

DAVIS: I've been shoveling my roof off all morning. I got half of it done, I want to get the other half done this afternoon, but ...

AQUI: Up to 100 inches of snow is hard work for everybody, everything. Even in a town with a long history of bad weather.

MAYOR TERRY GRIMSHAW, MEXICO, NEW YORK: We had a storm in '66, but that was a three-day storm. This has gone on for a week.

AQUI: Mexico's mayor says this time there's a new concern.

GRIMSHAW: What's scary now, if we've had a couple of buildings collapse. That always scares people.

AQUI: Generally, though, the people of Mexico aren't so much scared as they're amazed. Here, where weather is seen as no sweat, this storm has them huffing and puffing.


AQUI (on camera): Back in Oswego, tonight, as you can see, they've even got a dance floor set up at their little snow bar. Tomorrow, though, we're not exactly sure what's going to happen, Rick, because we could get more accumulation overnight. And it is starting to really drop, the temperature is. I'm going to be up tomorrow morning early on AMERICAN MORNING, and I have a feeling we're going to be quite cold then.

SANCHEZ: Don't stand to close to that disco ball.

By the way, tell your photographer I want to see a shot of that bar again. Who is Willbern because it says "Willbern's bar"? Who's Willbern?

AQUI: Willbern, I'll show you who Willbern is. See these two guys right here?


AQUI: It's their last names put together.

SANCHEZ: That's very creative. That works for me.

AQUI: They think they're starting a national trend here. So they're very excited about all of this.

SANCHEZ: We'll go with it. We'll go with it. Reggie, you're great. Thanks, man. We appreciate talking to you there in Oswego, New York. Not far from Mexico, New York. For more on that massive snowfall in New York now, let's go to the forecast. Let's go to meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. She has a disco ball over at her weather center I understand.

JERAS: Yeah.

SANCHEZ: We use it sometimes during commercials.

JERAS: Absolutely. Yeah. We break dance back here and all kinds of stuff. Whenever a new winter storm is coming, right?

SANCHEZ: Anything to stay warm.

JERAS: Exactly. Whatever you have to do.


SANCHEZ: Something is going to happen.

JERAS: Yeah. By the way, our I-Reporters, get ready for that, too. We want them to send the pictures as the storm develops tomorrow and throughout the week. Go to Click on I-Report and send us in those pictures and we'll put them on the air this week too.

SANCHEZ: We'll see that as it's happening. Thanks so much, Jacqui.

Business owners prerogative or an act of discrimination? Still ahead on the CNN NEWSROOM, the debate surrounding this sign.

Also, preventing another hanging chad disaster. How an old stand-by may actually save the day.

And then this. An uninvited backyard guest. What happened when the bear ventures too far from home?


SANCHEZ: I want to show you something now. This is the epicenter. This is where we get feeds and videos from all over the world and all over the country. Some of them we've already been showing you. In fact just a little bit. What we want to do is show you one of those as we start this segment. And here it is.

We're going to begin with a look at this photograph. This is acquired by the way, by The Web site says it's verified this as authentic. You see that right there? It's of Anna Nicole Smith's refrigerator in the Bahamas. You see the white-colored bottle? It's labeled methadone.

Alongside are vials of some sort of intravenous compound. And note the cans of slim fast. They're found there above the methadone. You see that? The late Anna Nicole Smith was a spokesperson for the rival diet product.

Also pictured on the refrigerator's door, yogurt, Worcestershire sauce. Some spray butter and a bottle of nutritional supplement, it's known as Miracle 2000 important because obviously the case has become important to so many Americans.

Now remember, methadone was noted in the autopsy of Daniel Smith, that's Anna Nicole's son, who died five months ago from a lethal combination of drugs. According to TMZ, that the Bahamian law enforcement is aware of the refrigerator contents at this point. That is what they're reporting.

And again we want to reiterate that these photographs are from Smith's home in the Bahamas, not the Florida hotel room where she was found. They're found in the Bahamas. The pictures, that's the information we've been getting those pictures today and we wanted to see if we could possibly share them with you.

Now, some other pictures that we want to show you that we've been getting in. These are pictures from across America. Take a look at this. This is a bear that you're about to see. It's in the burbs. Four-hundred-pound bear wanders into a backyard in a New Jersey, in Maplewood. Most of you around the New York and New Jersey area know Maplewood. He eluded authorities for hours in a tree. Eventually the animal was tranquilized and finally it was set loose in the woods.


JOEY VENTO, GENO'S OWNER: If you don't speak English, how can I make you feel bad? You don't know what the sign says.


SANCHEZ: That's the sign he's talking about right there. It says "This is America. When ordering, speak English." It's hanging at a Philadelphia restaurant City officials say there's probable cause that it's discriminatory. A hearing will be held to settle the dispute or the city could pursue charges against the owner. His name is Joey Vento. Vento says he's protected by the First Amendment.

A Florida restaurant is coming out in support of Lisa Nowak. That's the astronaut accused of trying to murder and kidnap a woman that she considered a rival in an alleged love triangle. The Cape Canaveral Restaurant is holding a benefit for her tonight. The owner calls Nowak an American hero and believes that she is innocent.

Here's another one. Voters, they want to -- something infallible, they say. A way to tabulate votes in the 2008 election that everyone can have confidence in. Even all the high-tech voting machines are not glitch-proof. So some lawmakers now are proposing changes that could rely on an old stand-by, paper.

Here's our Gary Nurenberg.


GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than six years after those notorious chads were hanging in Florida ...

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) NY: I really think the time has come for there to be some national election standards.

NURENBERG: Congress and the states are still struggling to find voting systems that infallible.

REP. RUSH HOLT, (D) NJ: The confidence in the mechanism of our government has been shaken badly.

NURENBERG: In 2002, Congress provided more than $3 billion to help states move away from punch card systems and toward electronic voting.

CONNIE MCCORMACK, LOS ANGELES COUNTY CLERK: No voting system is perfect, but looking at all the ones that are out there, the best track record are the electronic voting equipment.

NURENBERG: Not a universal sentiment. MICHAEL WALDMAN, NYU LAW SCHOOL: All of the electronic voting systems now used in the United States have tremendous security risks.

NURENBERG: Electronic voting problems plagued several states last year. Maryland had trouble in the primary. In Florida, it appears thousands of votes in one Sarasota congressional race went uncounted in the general election.

FEINSTEIN: Imagine what would happen if a similar undercount occurred in a swing state election in the presidential contest.

NURENBERG: Feinstein and Holt want federal legislation requiring all voting machines to produce a paper record a voter can see while in the voting booth. Several states are considering similar legislation.

MIKE MILLER, PRESIDENT, MARYLAND SENATE: Because people need to know that the results of their votes are sure.

NURENBERG: But a paper trail is going to cost Maryland money.

SHELLEY FUDGE, "SAVE OUR VOTES": Well, it does mean that we're going to have to get new machines.

NURENBERG (on camera): It is each state's secretary of state who is largely charged with carrying out election law. Meeting in Washington over the weekend, those secretaries of state had a clear message for Congress.

DEB MARKOWITZ, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SECRETARIES OF STATE: If you come out with more mandates, a one size fits all approach to elections, give us the money so we can make it work.

NURENBERG (voice-over): If Congress does mandate universal standards, there's no guarantee you'll see them at your polling place in 2008.

BRITAIN WILLIAMS, KENESAW STATE UNIVERSITY: If you don't have that thing already on order right now, you're probably not going to make it.

NURENBERG: Added pressure for Congress to act one way or the other, soon.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.


SANCHEZ: A story about technology. Technology hasn't only changed the way we vote. It's also changed the way the candidates are forced to campaign. Case in point, did video kill the political star? That's coming up in about eight minutes. And then some musical stars as well.


SANCHEZ: Every breath, every move, you know their music. You've heard their buzz. The Police are back. We're going to be live from the Grammies. We take you out. Want to get a shot? Can we get a shot of the epicenter? Here it is. We call it the epicenter. This is where we bring videos in throughout the day. And you're looking at it. And we'll be right back as we go out with the Police.


SANCHEZ: Here we go. Let's talk politics. It's what we do. We're in the control room now. This is where a bunch of people get together to bring you this newscast. People who know a whole lot more, usually, than I do.

And let's talk first about Senator Hillary Clinton. She's being dogged by questions about Iraq. And she's on the stump this weekend. She's in New Hampshire. Granite State voters want to know how she would possibly end the war and they've asked her directly. For more on her response, here's CNN's Mary Snow. She's in Keene, New Hampshire.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Senator Clinton wrapped up two days of events here in New Hampshire, taking her presidential campaign into the living rooms of New Hampshire residents, holding town hall meetings where she drew big crowds and lots of questions.

Along every step of the way, including here in Keene, she was asked about the war in Iraq. One woman in the audience asked Senator Clinton to take the lead in pledging to stop the war.

Senator Clinton listed a number of things she wants to do including threatening to cut off funding for Iraqi troops. And on redeployment of American troops, she said ...

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: We will not be there to baby sit this multi-pronged civil war. They have to decide they want to end the sectarian violence.

SNOW: As Senator Clinton wraps up her time in New Hampshire, the man seen as here main Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama is set to visit here on Monday. Like Senator Clinton, he'll hold a house party and a town hall meeting. Mary Snow, CNN, Keene, New Hampshire.


SANCHEZ: And, of course, we have to remind you, CNN is the place to see the very first presidential debates of the new campaign season. Mark your calendar for April 4th and April 5th. CNN will co-host the Republican and Democratic debates live from New Hampshire.

Bill Clinton is trying to help his wife's campaign, speaking today in New Rochelle, New York. The former president praised the senator's abilities to tackle the tough issues.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: America is a country with more than 200 year history. With all of our problems because we have been stumbling in the right direction for more than two centuries. Because we are in the solution business.

And, you know, that's why I was glad when Hillary decided to throw her hat in the ring. Because for 35 years, long before she ever even thought about running for office, she was trying to figure out how to solve problems.


SANCHEZ: This is interesting choice of words you might say. Mr. Clinton said politics is not exactly rocket science. And then he goes on to say, but it is noble work. Well, to those that aspire to the White House it's becoming abundantly clear that the Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away. The upcoming election is about to unfold under a whole new set of rules.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Providing instant access to millions of voters, the Internet has proven a vital tool as '08 presidential hopefuls launch their bids.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) IL: That's why I wanted to tell you first.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, (D) NM: Today I'm announcing the formation ...

H. CLINTON: Of a presidential exploratory committee. I'm not just starting a campaign, though. I'm beginning a conversation.

SANCHEZ: It will help raise millions for campaign coffers, but it can also derail a candidacy faster than you can say ...

DEAN: Yeaaarrrgghhh ...

SANCHEZ: Thanks to political bloggers and blog sites like JoeCameraphone and especially YouTube, the candidates' grooming candidates.

Moments they wish they could have back.

GEORGE ALLEN, FORMER SENATOR: This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is.

SANCHEZ: And frequent flip-floppery.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D) MA: I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.

SANCHEZ: Become just the latest viral videos making the rounds. Case in point, filmmaker Robert Greenwald's, "The Real McCain."

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Should guy marriage be allowed?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) AZ: I think that gay marriage should be allowed if there's a ceremony kind of thing if you want to call it that. I don't have a problem with that.

I believe it people want to have private ceremonies that's fine. I don't believe that gay marriage should be legal.

SANCHEZ: In two weeks it's been online, it's gotten 153,000 views and that's not counting the Web surfers who have watched it on Greenwald's own site. Senator McCain's campaign spokesperson avoided commenting directly on the clip, but they did provide this quote. "Our focus is on using video that communicates a positive message about our candidate."

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: Are you against civil unions for gay couples?

MCCAIN: I am not.

SANCHEZ: For candidates it's a tangled Web indeed.


SANCHEZ (on camera): Fun to watch some of those videos, huh?

Some you could just watch over and over again. For some insight now to the possible political impact of the Web sites, let's turn to Jeff Jarvis. He's a columnist and a blogger on the That's for those of you not paying attention. Jeff, thanks so much for being with us.


SANCHEZ: What do you make of this new phenomenon and what effect is it going to have in this coming election year?

JARVIS: I think it's a great thing for democracy for a whole bunch of reasons. One is that we can catch the politicians in their flip- flopping and namby-pambying and untruths. And show what they say next to each other and put it together on YouTube.

SANCHEZ: But it kind of has two sides, doesn't it? Because they can use it to their advantage, but it can also be used against them, right.

JARVIS: Right. And I think for the candidates it's a new way to really talk to the voters. It really struck me when I watched the candidates that this is an intimate medium. Not standing up on a big crowd and giving a big lecture. You have to click on that video and you're looking eye-to-eye with that candidate. So it's a really excellent way, I think, to speak to voters in a new and human way.

SANCHEZ: Well, you had Edwards this week try and key in on the Internet and try to key in on using some bloggers. And it kind of backfired on him, didn't it? I mean they said some things they probably shouldn't have said. He ended up having to apologize for it even though he didn't fire them. And some people are saying he should. JARVIS: Rick, I think we're at the point where every one of us on earth is going to have things we say in public that could embarrass or offend somebody. And we should get over it. It doesn't mean I am necessarily agreeing with or disagreeing with the bloggers hired by Edwards. But at some point every candidate we have in the future is going to have something they said on their myspace page or their Facebook page when they were 12 years old and we'll all have those there so we'll all be even. What matters is what we think going forward.

SANCHEZ: By the way, does anybody have an advantage in this game? Is it the Dems or is it the Republicans or is it even broken down that way?

JARVIS: That's a great question. I think so far we're seeing the Democrats really embracing YouTube. We saw Howard Dean as you saw earlier taking on the Internet four years ago with the chance to get people involved. Now with his video mechanism, all of the candidates are going on. Not just the Democrats. Sam Brownback, highly conservative, has also done a video online. It's really a chance, too, for all the candidates, frankly, to get around you and to avoid the questions that reporters are going to ask.

SANCHEZ: So you don't think that the candidates will want to come on -- sit around and talk with somebody like with Wolf Blitzer, or anybody on the other networks, that they'd prefer to somehow just sneak out material on one of these Web sites.

JARVIS: I think they'll still want to do that, because you still do have audience for a while yet, but it does give them the chance to set the tone and the agenda. They get to say what they think for two or three minutes, not for a 15 second soundbite.

SANCHEZ: Well, going back to what you just said, in the end, when you watch YouTube, you see a lot of interviews and you see a lot of stuff that's on the network. You see stuff there from -- as a matter of fact, this last week, I did an interview with Charlize Theron and she said something outrageous that I challenged her on and it ended up being all over the blogs, all over YouTube, all over every place.

It seemed to me that I kind of got a taste of exactly what you and I are talking about right now.

JARVIS: And that's great for CNN, I think. I think what you should be doing is putting all of your segments up. This segment should end up on YouTube in 10 minutes. It won't but at some point you're going to learn that's the way to have people recommend you and distribute you and be seen.

You don't just need to own the cable wire. Your audience will now distribute you. And that's going to be true of media and true of politics as well.

SANCHEZ: That's why we use as well. And I guess if it ends up on YouTube, it ends up on YouTube.

JARVIS: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: Jeff, interesting conversation. Really enjoyed talking to you, man.

JARVIS: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: All right. By the way, in case you missed it, some of the highlights from the Sunday morning talk show. Since we were just talking politics a little while ago. A lot of debate about the Pentagon report linking Iran to the Iraqi insurgency. The U.S. military says it has some evidence now that Iran is providing Iraqi Shiites with extremely deadly bombs, weapons believed responsible for killing at least 170 U.S. troops in Iraq.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TX: We've known for some time that these explosively formed projectiles can penetrate any kind of armor that we have to protect our troops with. And this is obviously extremely serious. And evidence that Iran has been involved in supplying these kinds of weapons to Shia militants is very disconcerting. And I will tell you that we have to do everything within our power to stop it. And I'm confident that we will.


SANCHEZ: So what exactly will the Bush administration do with this new information? Well, that question elicited some strong views from two senators on opposite sides of the isle.


SEN. CHRIS DODD, (D) CT: Some of us called this the year of Iran in a sense. I'm worried about that. That's how we got into this mess in Iraq. That's why some of supported those resolutions, because of doctored information.

So I'm very skeptical based on recent past history about this administration leading us in that direction. It worries me. That's not to say I'm not worried about Iran. I am worried about Iran. And there's steps that can be taken, I think, to try and change the direction they're heading in. I'm very nervous about what the groundwork being laid here as a premise for military action in Iran.

SEN. TRENT LOTT, (R) MS: I don't believe there's any basis for that. Obviously we're concerned about things that Iran has been doing and that their president has been saying and these devices are very dangerous. We have indications perhaps they're coming from Iran. I don't know all of the details. I haven't had an in-depth briefing, but we do know that they've become more deadly and there's reason to believe they're coming from Iran and we should take action to try to stop them.

You do that by interdiction, though. You don't do that by invasion.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: By the way, Republican Congressman John Boehner and Democratic Senator John Kerry had sharply different views on the question of when the United States should actually withdraw from Iraq.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OH: Who doesn't believe that if we withdraw and leave that chaos in the Middle East that the terrorists won't follow us here to the United States. Victory is the only option.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D) MA: Without the date, there's nothing to compel Iraqi politicians who today are using our presence as a cover for their own manipulation, for their own power struggle. There's nothing to compel them to say the order here is going to change and we have to respond.


SANCHEZ: By the way, here's another story we're focusing on throughout the day. A single mom -- that's tough to be under any circumstances. Now imagine being one in a war zone. We're going to have one Iraqi woman's story. We'll bring it to you.

Also Brooke Anderson. She is going to be joining us live. She's at the Grammies in Los Angeles. Talk about being at a big-deal event, Brooke.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Rick. You know, 49th annual Grammy awards. The telecast is beginning in just a few minutes. The red carpet is pretty crazy right now. Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, also John Legend. After the break, I'll have a surprise guest. Stay with us when CNN returns.


SANCHEZ: This is kind of cool. We're in the control room right now. Can you see me over here? There it is. Look at this, Mark. We're watching some of the people as they're walking in for the Grammies right now. Some of the videos coming in as we speak.

Over here on this monitor over there we've got -- who is that? Does anybody know who that is? You don't know who that is? You don't know who that is. She certainly looks good.

Over here on 75 we've got another crowd. Oh, that's Paula Abdul in the middle. See that right there? My gosh, my kids are going to be proud of me. And now let's go over there to number 74. Can you see that as I lean back? That's Brooke Anderson. Who have you got with you, Brooke?

ANDERSON: I have a very special guest tonight, Rick. This is John Legend. Already a winner tonight in the pre-telecast ceremony.

JOHN LEGEND, R&B SINGER: Yes, we won two awards for best R&B male vocal performance and best R&B group vocal performance.

ANDERSON: You know what, two out of three ain't bad.

LEGEND: Two out of three ain't bad.

ANDERSON: So he's relaxed now. You got the tie loosened up. You're just going to ...

LEGEND: Yeah, it's party time. Time to have a good time.

ANDERSON: And this is family affair, I see.


ANDERSON: Who do you have behind you?

LEGEND: I've got my mother and my father here?

ANDERSON: And your names?



ANDERSON: How proud are you of this guy right here?

R. STEPHENS: Very proud.

P. STEPHENS: I'm excited what God's doing.

ANDERSON: What God's doing. Tell me what God's been doing. You've been so successful.

LEGEND: We've had a great few years. Both albums have done very well. Once again my second album came out in October. It's not even eligible for the Grammies until next year, but the two singles got nominated and so we're doing very well and very pleased.

ANDERSON: You're off to a great start. And last year you were here.


ANDERSON: As best new artist and I spoke to you beforehand. You were a little bit nervous. Things have changed.

LEGEND: Things have changed. I've just learned to enjoy myself in the moment. And all of the success has made me just want to do more. And want to expand and really grow as an artist. And I'm just having fun now.

ANDERSON: A lot of people don't realize the Grammies have nothing to do with how much you sell. Doesn't matter. This is a peer award, voted on by members of the recording academy. Professionals, artists, producers, engineers. That must be really meaningful for someone.

LEGEND: It's people who care about music and know what it takes to make good music. So for them to vote for you, it's an honor. It's really an honor. ANDERSON: And you're performing tonight.

LEGEND: Yes, with John Mayer and Corinne Bailey Ray (ph).

ANDERSON: We'll look forward to that.

John Legend. Thank you so much.

LEGEND: My pleasure. Thank you.

ANDERSON: Mr. And Mrs. Stephens. Have a great time tonight. Thanks so much. Rick, 49th annual Grammy awards kicking off in just a few minutes.

SANCHEZ: Good job, Brooke. Good interview out there just on the fly like that.


SANCHEZ: By the way, we're going to let you know that we're going to be turning our focus back to Iraq in our next segment. You're going to meet an Iraqi mother who is struggle to try and somehow make ends meet.


DAMON: Welcome to the Hamza household with its cloth walls, make- shift kitchen and tiny room for Ikhlas and her two children.



SANCHEZ: Welcome back. This is control room B. We've not only gotten some of the pictures we showed you a little while ago, the national pictures coming in from L.A., but we've also got some international pictures coming in and some video from really all over the world. Let's start in Iraq. The security situation there really made daily life a struggle for a lot of families. And to that, no money, no home. No help raising your own children and you've got one single mom's plight. CNN's Arwa Damon with her story.


DAMON (voice-over): Being a poor single mother anywhere is tough, but with Iraq's relentless violence and lack of government institutions, it's much, much tougher. Welcome to the Hamza household, with its cloth walls, makeshift kitchen and tiny room for Ikhlas and her two children. Ikhlas used to live in Sadr City, a sprawling Shia slum. But she divorced her husband about a year ago.

IKHLAS HAMZA, IRAQI SINGLE MOTHER (through translator): When I got divorced, I should have gone back to live with my family, but they said the kids have to stay with their father and I wouldn't give my children to him. DAMON: And so rather than give up her kids, she came to live here. A warehouse turned squatter camp. No power, no gas, no water. The bathroom, filthy.

Government assistance non-existent, and Ikhlas earning just $100 a month cleaning houses. Whatever extra help the family receives coming from local militiamen. They Mehdi militia, loyal to radical Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr, blamed for much of the sectarian violence. But here, they provide Ikhlas and her family with something the government can't or won't.

HAMZA: We've only got God and the Mehdi Army. They come by once a week to check on us. They give us money and rations.

DAMON: It's something that militias do routinely, a winning of hearts and minds the government often fails to achieve because of the poor security situation. There's not much for children to do for fun here. Eight-year-old Aid (ph) doesn't go to school. Instead he helps at a mechanic's shop making about 30 cents a day and plays rough with his kid sister.

Just being seen talking to westerners can be a death sentence in Baghdad, but Ikhlas says it's worth the gamble. She wants her story told, she says. A desperate cry to help for anyone who will listen. Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.


SANCHEZ: Wow. You can only imagine, huh?

Well, much more here on CNN. "The Journalist and the Jihadi". Christiane Amanpour looks at the gripping story behind the murder of Daniel Pearl. Two hour special. It's next. And then tonight on -- at 10:00 Eastern ...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't believe all the people who knew this. They were the greatest people in history.


SANCHEZ: Knew what? What is she talking about? She's talking about something called "The Secret." It is the answer to fame, fortune, love, happiness, all of those things. Oprah has been all over it. It is a big trend. So tonight, we're going to delve into it and see what the chatter is about. Join us tonight right here at 10:00 Eastern. We're going to bring you all the information on "The Secret."

And then a look that day's top stories in three minutes and then "The Journalist," of course, "and the Jihadi." I'm Rick Sanchez.