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FDA: Dry Dog Food May be Contaminated with Toxin; U.K. Negotiates for Release of Captured Marines, Sailors; Bush Promises Better Care for Vets; Iraqi Singer Inspires Nation; French Nun Claims Her Prayers to John Paul II Cured Her Parkinson's Disease; Continued Violence in Iraq

Aired March 30, 2007 - 13:00   ET


DON LEMON, CO-HOST: What was in the tainted pet food? New questions about what killed dozens of pets and now questions about dry foods.
BETTY NGUYEN, CO-HOST: And the weather is in the news. Roads washed out, communities evacuated. Texas is in the eye of the storm today. We have tornado threats from there to Iowa, and that has millions on edge.

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

NGUYEN: Hi, there. I'm Betty Nguyen in for Kyra Phillips, who is on assignment in Iraq. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: We start this hour with a developing story happening now. You're looking at pictures from Auburn, Maine. This is police on the scene of a shooting.

They have shut down a portion of Minot Avenue following reports of a fatal shooting there, of a woman who has been killed. Apparently, the reports say that someone armed with an assault rifle, assault-style rifle, went on a shooting rampage there. Residents were urged to lock their doors, and this road that you're looking at now has been blocked to traffic, and it was detoured around this area.

But again, we're getting word that one person has been killed in all of this. You're looking at police officers on the scene there, shutting down that road and parts of the area.

As soon as we get more information on this, we'll bring it to you live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: We're also following new images of those British sailors and marines held in Iran. British Prime Minister Tony Blair takes a hard line, as he calls for the captives' safe return. And one soldier's brother has a message.


NICK SUMMERS, BROTHER OF CAPTURED SAILOR: Just hang in there, stay strong. You'll be home soon. You'll be with your friends. Everybody is wishing you a safe return. And everyone is worried about you, but obviously, we know you're OK. So just come on home.


NGUYEN: The British government calls today's developments out of Iran just outrageous. We're going to have more on this story, live from London, in just a moment.

LEMON: Let's talk now, Betty, about that pet food scare. You probably have it in your kitchen, but you wouldn't feed it to your dog. Melamine, a chemical used to make plastics, has turned up in FDA testing of recalled pet food.

Our senior correspondent, Allan Chernoff, joins us now live from New York with the latest information on that.

And Allan, the FDA offered more information, but did the agency ease public concerns about feeding their pets?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at all, Don. In fact, to the contrary. As you said, the FDA did identify that toxic chemical, melamine, in this pet food.

As you said, it's used for making plastic utensils, plates. It's a fertilizer that's commonly used in Asia but not approved for fertilization here in the United States.

Now, it has been trace back to some wheat gluten that was imported from China. And the FDA said this morning that that wheat gluten actually may have gotten into the food sources for some dry dog food that is still on the market.


DR. STEPHEN F. SUNDLOF, FDA CENTER FOR VETERINARY MEDICINE: We believe there is one company that we are aware of that may have gotten a shipment of that wheat gluten. This is a company that does produce dry food.

We are working with that company. We have notified them. We are trying to determine at this time whether or not they did use that particular product in the manufacture of a dry dog food.


CHERNOFF: The FDA has not identified which company exactly is manufacturing this food. They say that they do have investigators at the factory today. And once they made a determination, then they'll tell the public.

But for now, they are not revealing anything. And so obviously, that's not helping the situation with regard to pet owners, as to whether or not they have toxic dry dog food in their homes right now.

LEMON: Yes, yes. A lot of people confused by that. Allan, in the beginning, earlier on they were saying that they thought this toxin was a chemical used in rat poison? CHERNOFF: That's right. Laboratories here in New York state had identified that as the toxin. But the FDA and also scientists from Cornell University said that they could not confirm that.

So for now they're going with this other chemical, melamine. And they say that is the toxin that actually has killed some cats and dogs.

LEMON: All right. Allan Chernoff, thank you so much for that report.

And we're taking your questions on the pet food recall here in the CNN NEWSROOM. In the 3 p.m. Eastern hour, veterinarian Jeffrey Werber will join us with some answers. So send us your questions. The e-mail address is CNNNewsroom@CNN.COM.

NGUYEN: Want to turn to the standoff now between Britain and Iran over those 15 British sailors. The British government calls today's developments, quote, "outrageous."

Our European political editor, Robin Oakley, has been tracking the story all week long, and he's standing by live for us now in London.

Robin, what is next for the British government?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, Betty, that's a difficult one for them to sort out, really.

Both sides, the British and the Iranians, say they don't want this diplomatic spat to get any worse, but then everything that they do seems to be designed to make it worse. Both sides are spraying around the adjectives, and there's certainly a propaganda war being fought.

The release today by the Iranians of more video footage of another of the 15 British captives, Nathan Thomas Summers, appearing today to confess to being in Iranian waters, and apologizing to the Iranian people for that. That has infuriated Downing Street. It's infuriated the foreign office.

And Tony Blair said that this kind of parading of captives is disgusting and it's not really going to fool anybody, he said. And it's not helping the Iranian cause.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The sooner the Iranian regime realize they're not gaining anything from this, they can't gain anything from this.

It's certainly obvious that these people were in Iraqi waters under a United Nations mandate. There's absolutely no question about the unlawful nature of their capture, and therefore, they've got to be released. Now we have to manage this and measure it in a determined way but also a calm way. Because it's the lives of the personnel that come first.


OAKLEY: Firmness and patience were what were required now, said Tony Blair. But what the British government is trying to do is to line up international opinion to increase the pressure on the Iranians to release the captives.

They've had a bit of the score in the last couple of hours with the E.U. foreign ministers meeting in Germany, expressing unconditional support for Britain, deploring the action and demanding the release of the captives -- Betty.

NGUYEN: It's a very delicate situation, but I do want to ask you, what is the back-up plan if diplomacy does not work for the British?

OAKLEY: There simply is no back-up plan at the moment to diplomacy. The British government wanted to play it low key. They've been forced to come more out into the open and try and use that international pressure.

But if you're hinting at is there any possibility of military action, certainly all the guidance I'm getting from people who won't talk about this subject on the record is that military action is completely out of the question.

For a start, they don't know exactly where these captives are being held. Secondly, they believe that if they are being held, it will be somewhere very secure, where there would be a heavy loss of life among the captives themselves, possibly, as well as any forces who tried to intervene.

That is simply not being discussed as an option at the moment at all. They're sticking to the diplomatic route.

And the Iranians, although they're resenting the intervention of the United Nations and saying this is a matter between the two countries, the Iranians are also saying this can be sorted out. There are lots of technicalities, legal matters, security matters to be sorted out, but between the two countries, it can eventually be sorted out, Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. CNN's Robin Oakley in London for us today. Thank you, Robin.

LEMON: And the Iranian embassy in London has released a third letter, purportedly written by detained British sailor Faye Turney. Just like the first two letters, this one cannot be authenticated. And just like the others, it includes an apology for crossing into Iranian waters.

It reads in part, "I understand that this has caused even more distrust for the people of Iran, and the whole area in the British."

Another section of the letter reads, quote, "Whereas we hear and see on the news the way prisoners were treated in Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi jails by British and American personnel, I have received total respect and faced no harm."

British sailor Nathan Summers is from the village of Hayle. And CNN's Alphonso Van Marsh is there.

Alphonso, how are the people of Hayle reacting to all of this?

ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a bit of a restrained sort of reaction. Of course, people here are very, very upset to learn that one of their own is, indeed, being held against his will in Tehran. But we're not seeing, say, protests in the streets or that sort of a thing.

I'll give you an example. We did get a chance to stop by the home of Nathan Summers' -- his home here and speak with his older brother, Nick, who also serves in the royal navy.

He says that the family was shocked, slightly distressed to see that their brother and son is being held in Iran.

At the same time, they say that they know their brother. He's a very mature, laid back kind of guy. They said they were glad to see that he was apparently doing well and being well-fed, but of course, distressed that their brother and son is not back here where they say he belongs.

We also had a chance to stop by the local pub. On a slightly more upbeat note, this is where Nathan kind of hangs out when he's on leave. We spoke to a few people that have known him since he was a child, have even worked with him.

Let's hear a little bit more about what they had to say about their friend -- their friend being held against his will.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was really shocked. It blew my mind away, really. And seeing the film (ph) of him today, it's really like you're happy. Because he's sincere. But it really hits home what's happening to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's devastated everybody. It's like any small community: when it happens to your own, everybody pulls together.


VAN MARSH: Now of course, the older brother, Nick, said he had a gut feeling when the news came out that 15 British service members were being held in Iran that one of them could be his brother. Of course, we all know that his gut feeling was right -- Don. LEMON: Alphonso, you spoke to his brother and to people who knew him, friends. What about the parents? How are the parents dealing with this?

VAN MARSH: Well, CNN spoke with his stepfather a little bit earlier on today. He said he was very, very distressed. But the family is making a note to say that they are getting support from others in the royal navy, as well as the ministry of defense, that the government officials here are keeping the family briefed.

In terms of speaking with the parents, they don't feel comfortable talking to reporters, understandably, at this time. But older brother Nick, who again also serves in the armed forces, in the royal navy, says it's understandable how his brother appears on television. But more importantly they just want to see him come home soon -- Don.

LEMON: Alphonso Van Marsh, Hayle, England, thank you so much for your report.

NGUYEN: Well, back here in the U.S., President Bush is promising better medical treatment for veterans today in a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It is Mr. Bush's first trip there since shocking revelations came to light of poor conditions and neglect, red tape and deaf ears.

The controversy has given rise to a slew of investigations, at the heart of which are questions about support for Americans wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Bush arrived about noon, and he's spending time now with therapy unit patients and will make a statement a little bit later. We're going to bring that to you here in the NEWSROOM when it happens.

Well, in the months since it broke, the Walter Reed scandal has claimed the jobs of three top Pentagon officials. And to tell us whether anything has changed for the better, our CNN Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, joins us.

Jamie, how much of an earful is the president going to get about conditions at Walter Reed today?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, probably not very much. He's visiting the main hospital, which has an excellent reputation. He's going, as you said, to the occupational and physical therapy wards where he's going to see soldiers who are really getting some top-notch treatment.

In fact, many of the people who work at Walter Reed feel that they've been smeared by a rather broad brush because of the problems at some of these outpatient facilities, particularly the one, the notorious Building 18, that was outside the gates of Walter Reed.

But there has been a lot done in the short-term. For instance, that facility has been closed. And those soldiers have been moved to a much nicer facility on campus. And investigations are underway in -- to look at facilities all across the country, not just at Walter Reed.

But what the president is going to see today is what, you know, 90 percent of the experience has been for -- for members of the wounded military, which is they're really getting top notch care at Walter Reed, which of course, brings up another question, too.

Walter Reed is scheduled for closure, and -- because of the base realignment and closure committee recommendations. And the president is probably going to get an earful about whether or not that facility should really close when it's operating right now at full capacity, Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, let me ask you this. Meanwhile, amid of this, money for Walter Reed is included in this emergency war funding bill that is still in limbo. What's the latest on that? What can you tell us about that?

MCINTYRE: Well, the -- you know, the administration is making the case that it needs a bill that the president can sign to free up funds for Walter Reed, for the war effort, for supplies, for soldiers fighting the war.

And that's become a bit of a political football because, of course, Congress has passed a bill, but it includes that deadline for the withdrawal of troops, something the president and his commanders do not want. So that's part of it.

But, you know, the bottom line is for Walter Reed and other medical facilities, it hasn't been so much of a resource issue. Congress has been very generous in funding those programs. It's really been how the money is spent and the kind of oversight that's been in place.

And so, for the short-term, the money situation is much more critical for the war effort than it is for the facilities at Walter Reed.

NGUYEN: Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre. Jamie, we thank you.

LEMON: Even by Iraq standards, this has been a week of surprising violence. In the past few days, more than 400 people have died in bombings, suicide attacks and revenge shootings in virtually every region of the country. It's easily the deadliest week in Iraq since a U.S.-led security crackdown began last month.

And keep it on CNN. We're going live to northern Iraq to talk about the U.S. response to this horrific violence. An Army general joins us from Tal Afar in just a few minutes.

And we want to get you back to Maine to scene of some developing news happening there. A shooting on the streets in Maine. Police have closed down an area there, advising people to stay in their homes. It is believed one person is killed, and they're looking for the gunman in all of this.

We'll update you in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: We are also watching some severe weather outside, including this high water in Texas. We're trying to get you video of it. There it is. Look at that.

Rob Marciano is following the spring storms for us. He's going to join us shortly.

LEMON: And a prayer to the pope. A nun says it cured her. Ahead in the NEWSROOM, will her testimony bring Pope John Paul II halfway to sainthood?




NGUYEN: OK. In the U.S., it's -- how do you say his name?

LEMON: Sanjaya.

NGUYEN: Sanjaya mania. But in Beirut, it is Shada fans who...

LEMON: Don't ask me to say that one.

NGUYEN: Yes, I'm trying here. In a total lather. You see her there. Ahead in the NEWSROOM, she is so popular on the show. We're going to have more on why this Lebanon idol, not American but a Lebanon idol, although she's Iraqi -- we'll explain all that -- is a finalist getting so much attention.

LEMON: Whatever you say (ph).


NGUYEN: It is 1:19 Eastern. And here are our -- three of the stories that we're working on for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM this hour.

Iran has released a new video showing three of its British captives. Iran is holding a total of 15 British military personnel accused of sailing into Iranian waters.

A suspect in the attack on the USS Cole says he was tortured into a confession while being held at Guantanamo Bay.

And there is new information about a big pet food recall. Government test results are in. There's no indication of rat poison, but scientists did find a chemical used to make plastics.

LEMON: A young woman singing her heart out in Lebanon and, in the process, doing what troops and diplomats have been trying to do for four years now: bring Iraqis together.

Shada Hassoon -- remember that name -- she made it to the final four of the Lebanon's version of "American Idol".

Now our Beirut bureau chief, Brent Sadler, is about to go see her.

Why all the interest in this young lady?

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really a great deal of interest, Don, in this 25-year-old young woman. She has already proved herself to be both a talented and charismatic singing sensation.

Why? Well, because her father is Iraqi, her mother is Moroccan. She sung during this four months grueling "American Idol"-style format show, in not only in Arabic, when she really caught the imagination of many Iraqis with a heart-rendering song called "Iraq" -- called "Baghdad". She also sings in French and English. So multilingual, as well.

She has a striking performance, a style that's captured not only Iraqis' imagination but also many throughout the Middle East.

All of this hype has been building for the past several weeks now. Not only in her homeland, in Iraq, but also throughout the Middle East. And the show, we'll be there ourselves. Results will be in about...

LEMON: All right. And we lost Brent Sadler there. We'll try to get him back. But we understand in the Kurdish area of Iraq, they're showing this "Idol" on a huge screen there so that everyone can see it.

Brent, if you can hear me, is that so? Aren't they showing this on a huge screen tonight in one of the more peaceful areas of Iraq?

OK. We don't have him back. All right. Thanks to Brent Sadler. We'll get back to that in just a minute.

Betty, what do you have for us?

NGUYEN: Yes, that is a fascinating story. I'm looking forward to that. In the meantime, though, we do have some severe weather to tell you about. CNN's Rob Marciano is tracking this.

I understand, Rob, that there are multiple tornado warnings in Texas?


NGUYEN: All right. Thank you, Rob.

And speaking of that warning, we have another one to tell you about. Are you taking the drug Zelnorm? Well, we are just learning that a Swiss pharmaceutical company will stop selling this drug, which is used to relieve constipation, after it was linked to a higher chance of heart attack and worsening heart chest pain that can become a heart attack. This according to federal health officials. Novartis has agreed to withdraw Zelnorm at the FDA's request. And tell you a little bit more about Zelnorm, if you're familiar with it or you know someone who is taking it. It is a prescription medication approved for short-term treatment of women with irritable bowel syndrome and constipation.

Again, the company that owns Zelnorm is going to be taking it off store shelves, according to the FDA's request, because the FDA has linked it with a higher chance of heart attacks.

So we'll stay on top of this story and bring you more just as soon as we get it.

But in other news, want to tell about an attack and then a counterattack. Iraq locked in a deadly cycle of sectarian violence. You're looking at some of the video right now. Can the U.S. military do anything to stop it? We're going to talk with a brigadier general in Tal Afar. That's ahead here in the NEWSROOM.


NGUYEN: Well, four years ago Apple revolutionized the music business by opening its online store, iTunes. We've all heard of that. Well, since then millions of customers have clamored to the site to buy individual songs. And now the company is giving customers an incentive to go back to their old album buying ways. What?

Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with the details on this.

Hi, Susan.


That's right. The album is becoming an endangered species.

NGUYEN: That's true.


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

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen.

Manhunt in Auburn, Maine. One woman is killed, and the suspect still on the loose. Residents are warned to lock their doors. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

All right, we want to try to get you a little bit more information on that Maine shooting. Here are some live pictures right now of the officers and the SWAT teams on the ground. We have learned from the Associated Press, that, in fact, police have shutdown a portion of Mino (ph) Avenue, if you're familiar with Auburn, Maine, following a shooting there. Reports that a woman has been killed in that shooting. Folks on the scene, we're told, that someone is armed with an assault-style rifle. That's who they're looking for at this hour.

But again, one person has been killed so far. That being a female. Residents, though, in the area as they're searching for the suspect are being urged to lock their doors. You can see the police personnel there are working cautiously in this area. They've also blocked some roads and traffic to keep people out of the area. The person is believed to have an assault-style rifle, that is, on them following a shooting that has killed at least one person.

We'll stay on top of this and bring you the latest.

LEMON: Attack and counterattack. Iraq locked in a deadly cycle of sectarian violence. Can the U.S. military do anything to stop any of it?

We'll talk with a Brigadier General in Tal Afar next, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: After weeks of controversy, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales defended himself today. Yesterday his former chief of staff testified Gonzales was involved in the controversial decision to fire eight federal prosecutors.

Here is Gonzales' response.


ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTY. GEN.: At the end of the day, I know what I did, and I know the motivations for the decisions that I made were not based upon improper reasons. But I think it's important for the American people to be satisfied as well.


LEMON: CNN Justice correspondent Kelli Arena is standing by. Kelli, is the White House saying anything about Gonzales today?

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they did say that he does continue to have the support of the president, that he obviously has some work cut out for him. But there was some back and forth with the White House spokeswoman over, you know, whether they were pulling back support. She, of course, said, look, he's got the confidence of this president. Let's give him a chance to say what he has to say before Congress.

Don, as you know, the attorney general spent his day in Boston, trying to keep the focus on the Justice Department's efforts to go after child predators, but there are bets on when this man is going to resign.

Now much of that was sparked by what his former chief of staff had to say on Capitol Hill yesterday. Kyle Sampson basically said that the attorney general was involved in discussions throughout the entire U.S. attorney removal process.

Justice officials are saying, look, there's a distinction here between being involved in discussions and being involved in the selections. Here's what Gonzales had to say today on that front.


GONZALES: After I became attorney general, I had Kyle Sampson coordinate an effort within the department to evaluate the performance of United States attorneys, to see where changes may be appropriate. I think the way Mr. Sampson characterized it yesterday, he was in charge of organizing and managing this effort.

From time to time, Kyle would tell me things that would tell me that this effort was ongoing. I don't recall being involved in the deliberations involving the question of whether or not a U.S. attorney should or should not be asked to resign.


ARENA: Now when he was asked about retiring, he said he was focused on doing his job. But publicly, Republicans said they're going to reserve judgment until he does testify. Don, that's supposed to happen on April 17th. But one senior Justice official says there is discussion about whether or not to approach Congress to see if that appearance can be moved up. I mean, they understand this controversy is growing, they understand that there's some misunderstanding about what was said by the attorney general versus what was said by Kyle Sampson, so they'd like to clear that up sooner rather than later. No official letter has been sent yet, though, with that request. We'll see how that carries.

And you know, we spoke to a lot of Republicans today. They do admit very privately yesterday was not helpful. Some are suggesting this has gone on long, that it's distracting the White House from its priorities. You know, there seemed to be a lull there in a while, but now support again is dipping.

LEMON: All right, Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena, thank you so much.

ARENA: You're welcome.

NGUYEN: There's new video from Iran and new anger from Britain. The video features a second British sailor from the group of 15 held for a week now in Iran. Nicholas Sommers is seen offering an apology for crossing into Iranian waters during an operation in the Persian Gulf. Britain, of course, says its personnel were in Iraqi waters and calls televising the captives, quote, "outrageous." Iran also has released a third letter it claims was written by captured sailor Faye Turney. It includes yet another apology. British Prime Minister Tony Blair is simply appalled.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I really don't know why the Iranian regime keep doing this. I mean, all it does is enhance people's sense of disgust, that captured personnel are being paraded and manipulated this way. It doesn't fool anyone. And what the Iranians have to realize is that if they continue in this way, they will face increasing isolation.


NGUYEN: Now Blair also calls for patience saying his government is working with firmness and determination to get the sailors released.

LEMON: This week suicide bombers reduced a usually peaceful Iraqi city to another blood-soaked hub of insurgency.

The city is Tal Afar, far north of Baghdad near the Syrian border. Truck bombs went off Tuesday in two crowded neighborhoods killing more than 80 people. Something just as bad happened afterwards, a shooting rampage by Shias against Sunnis that left more than 70 people dead.

Well, not so long ago, Tal Afar was heralded as a model for the future of Iraq. Is it still?

Joining me now live from Tal Afar is Army Brigadier General Mick Bednarek. Now general, before we get to this violence, I want to ask you because there are reports that the Iraqi police force were involved in some of these attacks.

And just a short while ago, coming across a wiser scene (ph) it is confirmed 18 police officers were arrested in Iraq's Menuva (ph) province on Friday in connection with the reprisal killings of 70 people in Tal Afar. What can you tell us about these police officers being arrested?

BRIG. GEN. MICK BEDNAREK, U.S. ARMY: Yes, I can tell you the police officers that were arrested initially, they were questioned by Iraqi officials. The government of Iraq and the Iraqi Ministers of Justice have launched a full investigation into this to ensure that those that were responsible are brought to justice by Iraqi law.

LEMON: Are there Iraqi police officers involved in this? Or is this -- are you saying that?

BEDNAREK: Yes. The initial indicators were, that, yes, the Iraqi police were involved. And they will investigate that fully to ensure that the justice is done.

LEMON: Well part of the problem with getting the insurgency in control and getting the region in control was that you needed support of all the people and trust in those Iraqi forces who were taking control of the countries. How then, if you have police officers involved in this, how do you get that trust back? How do you move forward from here?

BEDNAREK: Here's the answer to that. And that's perhaps the part of the good news story of what has occurred in Tal Afar as a result of this horrific act. Absolutely no question that this was a cowardice act of extreme violence there in a restive, relatively peaceful city of Tal Afar.

But the good news is that the Iraqi officials have taken full lead and responsibility to bring those that were responsible to justice. Not only the follow-on killings as you highlighted, but also the humanitarian assistance and aid to the people there.

The government, the Menuva provincial director of police, governor Kash Mula (ph), the Iraqi army division commanders and the mayor, Mayor Najum of Tal Afar have all been very, very involved and engaged in bringing the people together against the insurgency that did this.

LEMON: General, they are promising a full investigation, that's what we hear. But let's talk about this region, especially Tal Afar has been said to be an example as a way to get the region under control. In fact the president talked about it just a year ago citing Tal Afar as an example. Let's take a listen and I want to talk to you about it.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The military success against the terrorists helped give the citizens of Tal Afar security and this allowed them to vote in the elections and begin to rebuild their city. And the economic rebuilding that is beginning to take place is giving Tal Afar residents a real stake in the success of a free Iraq.

And as all this happens, the terrorists, those who offer nothing but destruction and death are becoming marginalized.


LEMON: Do you believe that still? And do you think that maybe this surge is just driving the insurgency into other places outside of Baghdad like Tal Afar?

BEDNAREK: Well, focus on Tal Afar. No question that when this occurred, our assessment of why this happened, absolutely, is that the insurgency and al Qaeda is absolutely desperate. They know that Tal Afar has been a peaceful, in the aggregate working very hard. They have passed their own budget. They are looking towards reconstruction projects, as has been the case there in Tal Afar.

LEMON: All right, General, we thank you so much for joining us today. We understand that you are very busy and you need to run. So thank you for joining us in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: Coming up, more details on the widely used drug Zelnorm, that medication being pulled now. We'll have some details on that ahead here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And a reminder to all you pet owners watching, if you have questions about the food recall, just e-mail us. Veterinarian Dr. Jeffrey Werber will join us with answers in the 3:00 p.m. Eastern hour. Again, our address there on your screen,


LEMON: New pictures now into the CNN NEWSROOM. President Bush visiting Walter Reed Hospital there in Washington, D.C. today speaking to some of the service members who are injured there.

As you know, it's been a very touchy time for Walter Reed. It's been in the news lately for reported deplorable conditions and meager health care services for the service men and women who are coming back injured.

You see him shaking the hand there of someone wearing a prosthetic arm and hand. President Bush will make some comments. And you're going to hear from him in the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM. So, we'll continue to follow his visit there and bring it to you live right in the next hour.

Betty, back to you.

NGUYEN: All right, thank you Don.

Well, a mystery revealed in France. Sainthood, potentially a big step closer for Pope John Paul II until a nun named Marie Simon Pierre came forward this morning, her identity had been a top Vatican secret.

Well, Sister Marie or Mary says she prayed to the pope. And after he died, then was cured of Parkinson's Disease, the same disease that afflicted the pontiff for years.


SISTER MARIE SIMON-PIERRE, FRENCH NUN (through translator): I have to say that I've always admired John Paul. I was 17-years-old when he was elected pope in 1978. He's a bit my pope, the pope of our generation and he's helped me a lot to live with this disease. I admired him a lot. Even though I was ill, I could not watch him anymore on television because he was showing me what I would become a few years later, seeing the quick evolution of this illness. I was honestly imagining myself in a wheelchair.


NGUYEN: Well, Delia Gallagher is CNN's Faith and Values correspondent. Delia, could this nun Marie Simon-Pierre make Pope John Paul a saint?

DELIA GALLAGHER, FAITH & VALUES CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she probably will. She will be one of two. She is the miracle that they are putting forward for this first step, which would be the beatification, and then the sainthood step, the second one requires another miracle which there are also currently looking for.

But the way the whole thing works is she came forward with a letter written by her superior, the head of her convent in France that said, look, two months after he died, she woke up one day to the next, didn't have the symptoms of Parkinson's that she had been living with for the past four years. The doctors looked at the case, certified that it was a spontaneous healing as they call it without a medical explanation.

And all of this documentation was given to the Vatican. And then the Vatican sent their doctors over. And then the Vatican investigator goes over and meets with her. All of this is going to be presented on Monday at this ceremony which is also the second anniversary of John Paul II's death. And this will all be presented to the cardinals as the congregation for saints. They are at the Vatican, and they will then look at all that information and decide whether indeed this is the genuine miracle.

And if it is, they will have a ceremony for the beatification of John Paul II and then the process starts again with the second miracle for sainthood.

NGUYEN: Well, on the onset it does sound like a miracle. But if you've been in Rome and reported on the office that investigates sainthood candidates what is involved in these investigations?

GALLAGHER: Well, I tell you, a lot of people say to me, you know, how do you know? It's just not, a, she's not lying, or b it's not something that could be medically explainable. And you know, the Vatican in the first instance says we don't look for these. These have to come to us from other people. And their doctors have to certify them.

So, all these patients, when you have an illness such as Parkinson's, you have a doctor who has followed you throughout that. So in the first instance, there's a doctor quite unconnected to the Vatican that would give his testimony as to what happened before and after with this patient and there are the people around the patient because of course the thing about a miracle is you have to have prayed directly to John Paul II.

So you know, it's no good if it was just kind of a prayer to God, you know, it has to be very specific. Yes, she prayed and her convent prayed to him for this particular healing. So, there are lots of little details that the Vatican takes into account. And I can tell you that it is a massive undertaking. I mean the fact that this has been accomplished in two years time, because John Paul II was put on the fast track, and they put a lot of people on this project but there are plenty of others who kind of languish in obscurity.

And it takes a long time and a lot of documentation to get to this point.

NGUYEN: That is so fascinating. You have to pray to a specific person, regardless of the miracle it's got to be to the right person for that person to be a saint.

All right Delia, we thank you.

GALLAGHER: Your welcome. LEMON: A drug used to treat Parkinson's Disease is being pulled from the market. The FDA says Pergolide, sold under the name Permax may cause heart damage. The agency says at least 14 patients have died -- have had rather, heart valves replaced since taking the drug, have had heart valves replaced since taking that drug.

The FDA is warning people not to stop using it abruptly but to ask their doctors about switching to another drug. I want to repeat that. The agency says at least 14 patients have had to have heart valves replaced since taking the drug, and the FDA is warning people not to stop using it abruptly but ask their doctors about switching to another drug.

Coming up, more details on the widely used drug Zelnorm. That medication being pulled. Details ahead on that in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Plus, the latest on the severe weather situation. Rob Marciano is tracking tornado warnings in Texas. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


LEMON: Well if you live deep in the heart of Texas, you might want to take another route home. Look at that. Some roads south of Dallas are already under water. That's an understatement there. Seven inches of rain fell last night stranding more than a few motorists. No telling how much rain in the area we'll see today. Texas under the gun today with the threat of even more tornadoes and flooding.

Rob Marciano, what is on tap?


NGUYEN: Well this just in to CNN, Menu Foods, the makers of the pet food involved in that recall that we have been telling you about, well, they're going to hold a news conference in the next hour. We're going to give you more on that just as soon as it develops. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.