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Showdown Vote on Iraq; TB Patient Surgery; New al Qaeda Challenge

Aired July 18, 2007 - 11:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning again, everyone. You're with CNN. You're informed.
I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments keep coming into the CNN NEWSROOM on Wednesday, the 18th of July.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Two hundred people never had a chance. Flames engulf an airliner when it skids off the runway. Is the runway itself to blame?

HARRIS: Sleepy senators trying to advance an Iraq troop withdrawal measure. The vote this hour after an all-night talk-a- thon.

COLLINS: An alleged dog fighting ring, is it a career-ender for a star quarterback?

Michael Vick legal troubles in the NEWSROOM.

New details this hour about that deadly plane crash in Brazil. The initial investigation indicates the pilot was attempting to land when he apparently tried to take off again.

The plane slid on the rainy runway and crashed Tuesday night. At least 200 people died.

Rescue workers looking through the still-smoldering wreckage this morning. Questions now about the condition of the runway.

For those who lost loved ones, the pain is overwhelming. The head of a support group calls the tragedy an accident waiting to happen.

Local officials recently tried to ban big jets from landing at the airport because of the short landing strips. Brazil's president calling for three days of mourning to honor the victims.

HARRIS: And new this morning, the U.S. military announces the arrest of a senior leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. He is described as a key link between the terrorist group's Iraq network and senior al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. He was arrested earlier this month in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.


BRIG. GEN. KEVIN J. BERGNER, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: On the 4th of July, coalition forces captured a terrorist named Khalid Abdul Fatah Da'ud Mahmud Al Mashadani, also known as Abu Shahed (ph). Mashadani is believed to be the most senior Iraqi in the Al Qaeda in Iraq network. He is a close associate of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the Egyptian-born head of Al Qaeda in Iraq.


HARRIS: Officials say Al Mashadani has shed light on al Qaeda's operations in Iraq. He remains in coalition custody.

COLLINS: Bleary-eyed senators headed for a showdown vote on Iraq this hour. They'll decide whether to cut off debate and move forward on a troop withdrawal resolution. It's backed by Democrats. This follows an all-night debate on the Senate floor.


SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: It is difficult to see the wisdom of this current strategy without holding the Iraqis accountable. The time has come to stand up and to speak out on behalf of the American people, to say that the current strategy is unacceptable and the moment has arrived to change that direction.


COLLINS: Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash joining us now live after a very long night.

Dana, the vote is going on right now. What's going on on the floor?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, you are exactly right, after all night long debating and having really this theater about what Democrats want to do, which is legislation to withdraw droops, the deadline for that withdrawal by spring of next year, now we are about to see the vote. And just to kind of keep the theater, or the spectacle going, if you will, what the Senate majority leader just announced on the Senate floor, Heidi, is that he wants all senator to vote from their desks. This is unusual, but, again, a symbolic way for Democrats to try to show the importance they see in this particular vote.

Now, what's the reality check here as we watch senators get ready for this vote? That is, it's not expected to pass. Not even close, as a matter of fact.

We know that there are three Republicans who have already in the past couple of weeks said that they agree with Democrats and they are going to sign on with this particular legislation vote for it, but we don't expect it to get more than probably 52 or maybe 53 votes. Now, that it is a majority of the Senate, and that is what you're going to hear Democrats say loud and clear, that the majority of senators vote with them, but it is simply not going to pass.

Why? Because Republicans are making it clear that they -- that they are going to mandate a procedural measure which is 60 votes, and they are not going to come anywhere near that 60 votes. So this is going to fail -- Heidi.

COLLINS: OK. So, it fails. What happens next?

BASH: That is the big open question. Essentially, look, this is part of a much bigger political strategy, as you know, that Democrats have been trying to chip away. They've been having vote after vote after vote, and this is just kind of one in a series of them to try to get Republicans who have been increasingly opposed to the president's current strategy to not just voice it, but actually vote that way.

This is, as I said, going to fail. So basically, this is an attempt to get momentum for what we all are going to be bracing for and looking for, and that is September. Congress is going to go home in August for about a month. They are going to be home with their constituents. They will come back, and they will come back to a final report from the military commander on the ground, General David Petraeus.

That is what the White House has been saying hold off for. And many Republicans have said, OK, we are going to wait. But when everybody comes back in September, that is going to be really the key time to really look and see if Democrats, you know, attempt to keep taking these votes, it's going to pay off for them when it comes to changing the strategy in Iraq. Because after eight months -- eight months after being elected to the majority, as we're going to see in just a few moments, it still hasn't paid off for them in terms of getting the votes to change the strategy -- Heidi.


And I just want to remind everybody, those live pictures that we are looking at, that vote under way right now. And we'll continue to follow that one for you.

Dana, thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

HARRIS: A star football player facing federal charges and accusations of horrific brutality. NFL quarterback Michael Vick and three others accused of running a dog fighting operation out of his Virginia property.

A judge is expected to set a hearing date this afternoon. Among the gruesome accusations, Vick took part in killing dogs that weren't ferocious enough. Methods of execution: drowning, hanging, even electrocution. Vick could face prison and possibly an end to his record-shattering career.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy had this to say: "The activities alleged are cruel, degrading and illegal. Michael Vick's guilt has not yet been proven, and we believe that all concerned should allow the legal process to determine the facts."


COLLINS: Word from Japan today a radiation leak at the world's biggest nuclear plant worse than thought. Officials now saying 400 barrels of low-level radioactive waste were knocked over in Monday's quake. The company first said 100 barrels had overturned.

Also, more radioactive water leaked into the Sea of Japan than first reported. The company says the leaks are still well below danger levels. The facility has been ordered to shut down until safety issues are resolved. And the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency is calling for a thorough investigation.

HARRIS: Boy, a frightening sight of the Tour de France. An unsuspecting Lab saunters into the road.

Oh, as the cyclers were -- the newsroom -- nice reaction from the room. Well, we love our animals. We love our pets.

COLLINS: We love our Labs.

HARRIS: So, German rider Marcus Birghard (ph), well, he just -- he couldn't avoid the dog. And here we go again. And yikes, ouch.

Well, you see that he hits the brake here, so it could have been much worse. He and the Lab are OK. The bike, on the other hand, as my son would say, jacked up.

COLLINS: Drug test results are in for wrestler Chris Benoit. Did investigators find out what drove Benoit to kill his family and himself?

HARRIS: TB patient Andrew Speaker has lung surgery.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Why did you decide to have surgery?

ANDREW SPEAKER, TB PATIENT: With the amount of treatment I'm going to be on, the doctor said, "If you go ahead and have the surgery, you don't have to worry 10 years from now or 20 years from now or 30 years from now if it's ever going to come back." And that's worth the peace of mind to me.


HARRIS: Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta was there and takes us inside the operating room. A CNN exclusive.

COLLINS: Kids and junk food. Are SpongeBob Dora and Shrek encouraging youngsters to eat the wrong foods? Food and media giants promise to shape up.

HARRIS: First Iraq. Now Afghanistan. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FARRIS HASSAN, TEEN WHO TRAVELED TO AFGHANISTAN: I went to the Afghan consulate in New York and told them I wanted to visit Afghanistan for educational purposes, and they gave me a visa.


HARRIS: With that, Farris Hassan was headed back to a war zone. Details of his latest adventure straight ahead.


HARRIS: A man infected with tuberculosis is now back in isolation this morning. Emergency crews returned Franklin Greenwood to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Hospital.

Authorities say he escaped more than two weeks ago. Greenwood had been placed in isolation last month after he was seen coughing up blood.

Doctors say the 50-year-old is contagious, but they don't believe his form of TB is drug-resistant. They say they want to test him further to determine the safety risk to the public and offer him treatment.

COLLINS: Andrew Speaker recovering from surgery this morning. An operation he hopes will cure his multidrug-resistant TB.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in the operating room for a CNN exclusive.


GUPTA (voice over): Thirty-one-year-old Andrew Speaker spent the eve of his surgery with his new wife, Sarah, at National Jewish Medical Center in Colorado. It's one of the country's few facilities equipped to deal with drug- resistant tuberculosis.

His hope? Getting cured and going home, months after being ordered into isolation.

(on camera): Why did you decide to have surgery?

SPEAKER: With the amount of treatment I'm going to be on, the doctor said if you go ahead and have the surgery, you don't have to worry 10 years from now or 20 years from now or 30 years now if it's ever going to come back. And that's worth the peace of mind to me.

GUPTA (voice-over): Of course, future peace of mind made for more worries now. Just prepping for surgery required a special fitting for a mask. We even tested it with this big hood, making sure I was protected against the live Multi-Drug Resistant organisms living in Speaker's lungs.

(on camera): Andrew Speaker is in the operating room under general anesthesia. Surgery is already under way. The goal is to try and remove a tennis ball-sized infection from his right upper lobe.

(voice-over): Doctors are using a technique called Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery, or VATS. It requires only three small incisions through which doctors remove diseased tissue. It's a low, but not no risk procedure. There are cases where patients have died or suffered complications.

(on camera): There's a lot of things that sort of go into this. Right now they've got to take down all these blood vessels and all the airways that connect to the right upper lobe so they can remove that part of the lung. It's probably the trickiest part of the whole operation.

(voice-over): After two hours, finally, the moment they were waiting for. The diseased lobe is removed. TB, in a plastic bag. That bag keeps the infected lung from spreading in his chest.

There are no guarantees for Speaker that he will be cured, but Dr. Mitchell is optimistic about his recovery.

(on camera): If he wanted to run a marathon or something, could he do that again in his life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, hopefully he'll be able to.

GUPTA (voice-over): For now, Andrew Speaker may be rid of an infected piece of lung, but he's left to deal with the aftermath of his disease.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Aurora, Colorado.


COLLINS: For more on Dr. Gupta's exclusive look at Andrew Speaker's surgery, go to

HARRIS: Al Qaeda resurgence. U.S. intelligence and a new warning about the terror group.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In light of the new intelligence report that al Qaeda has gained strength, President Bush acknowledged the terrorist organization has rebuilt.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Al Qaeda is -- is strong today. But they're not nearly as they were prior to September the 11th, 2001. And the reason why is because we have been working with the world to keep the pressure on, to stay on the offense.

MALVEAUX: President Bush says the central front in the war on terror is Iraq. But when the U.S. first invaded the country almost five years ago, al Qaeda had very little presence. But the intelligence report says that has changed. Al Qaeda not only has become a dangerous threat, the intelligence community expects the terrorist group will use its contacts and capabilities there to mount an attack on U.S. soil.

Mr. Bush acknowledged this new challenge.

BUSH: And now we find them in Iraq. These killers in Iraq are people who will kill innocent life to stop the advent of democracy. These people have sworn allegiance to the very same man who ordered the attack on September the 11th, 2001, Osama bin Laden.

MALVEAUX: But the intelligence community predicted that invading Iraq could bring a resurgence of al Qaeda. The administration says there was lots of advice given before the war, but a lot has changed since.

FRAN TOWNSEND, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: The fact is, we were harassing them in Afghanistan. We're harassing them in Iraq. We're harassing them in other ways nonmilitarily around the world. And the answer is, every time you poke the hornet's nest, they are bound to come back and push back on you.

MALVEAUX (on camera): One of the places the Bush administration has not been harassing them is the remote area between Pakistan and Afghanistan. That is because of a deal made with Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf and tribal leaders. Homeland security adviser Fran Townsend says that deal has since resolved as the Bush administration works aggressively with Pakistan's government to go after Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.


COLLINS: He is facing serious criminal charges this morning. Will dog fighting allegations keep a star quarterback off the field this season?


COLLINS: One of the NFL's biggest stars facing felony charges. Michael Vick could go to prison if convicted in an alleged doing fighting ring.

Larry Smith of CNN Sports is here now to talk a little bit more about this.

One question. If they find out that Michael Vick is guilty throughout all the legal proceedings that everybody deserves in this country, will the NFL pledge to fire this man?

LARRY SMITH, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a good question and one that I can't answer. You can kind of begin to speculate in terms of, this is a very -- you know, this is a serious allegation they put down in this federal grand jury. And let's face it, you know, Scooter Libby can talk about the power of the federal government and a federal grand jury indictment and what we are talking about here.

You know, right now, we have seen some guys, Tank Johnson suspended for three games, the Chicago Bears. They ended up releasing him, for instance.

He -- Pacman Jones, the entire season. Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals for eight games.

Michael Vick, could he now face a suspension? That's a good question, too, because Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner who has taken a stance on bad behavior by players off the field, already talked to Vick about this and other incidents a couple of months ago before this indictment actually came down again on this yesterday.

So, will he now go back after having already talked to Vick about this? It depends on what was talked about in that conversation. If Vick went through and lied about all of this and said, I have no -- which he did to the media, and said, I wasn't a part of this, it's my family that did this, it could happen.

COLLINS: OK. Well, again, if he is found guilty, it seems they have no choice but to make these decisions. You think about PR, you think about ticket sales, you think about fans, you think about kids.

SMITH: Well, it's a PR nightmare right now for the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons, because you're talking about a guy that you really can't cut. And here's a reason why it breaks down.

Michael Vick signed a 10-year, $130 million contract in December of 2004. If the Falcons cut him, in paragraph 11 in a standard player contract says that they can't. If does conduct that is detrimental to the club or to the NFL, they can cut him. He would lose about $70 million in earnings.

However, under the salary cap, the way it works, you have a signing bonus that you sign at the beginning of at contract. That money, $30 million-plus in Vick's case, is prorated through the length of the contract. That's why it's a 10-year contract.

COLLINS: Good lord.

SMITH: Any -- but what you can do is, that $30 million, under the salary cap rules, is prorated. If you cut that person, it becomes due immediately. We are talking about a $15 million hit in 2008. That would cripple the team for many years, which is why you probably won't see him cut in 2007.

COLLINS: Unbelievable. So the contracts all need to be rewritten. Because pretty much right now you can do whatever you want and get away with it.

SMITH: Well, right now, Roger Goodell, the commissioner, again has kind of gone through and done a lot of things differently, really taken a crack -- a stance on this in terms of the image of the league. Will he be given leeway to do that now in light of this, which are very serious allegations? It sounds like right now from the NFL statement that they are going to wait and allow the court process to take its due process, take its course.

COLLINS: Right. And there are some reports out there this morning that there's going to be an initial hearing date for Vick that's going to be set this morning in federal district court.

SMITH: Yes. In the next couple of weeks, he will turn himself into the U.S. Marshals Office. He'll be -- you know, will go through -- in front of a U.S. magistrate judge at that point. He'll be processed at that point in Richmond, Virginia.

This is a court though that historically has been -- has been very -- not very lenient on people who run afoul of the law. Former NBA star Ralph Sampson, in the same court, went in there under some child support cases, wound up serving some jail time as a result of unpaid child support. Richmond, Virginia, this is one that's not a good court to be in if you are Michael Vick.

COLLINS: Yes. A lot of people really upset about this one.

All right, Larry. We know that you'll stay on top of it for us. Thank you.


HARRIS: You know these characters -- Shrek, Dora, SpongeBob. Well, they may be looking a little healthier soon, under pressure to help curb childhood obesity.

Several major food companies say they are changing the way they advertise to kids. Some say they won't use popular characters in ads unless they are for healthier products.

Some companies say they do not advertise at all to children under 12. The new rules are voluntary. They come ahead of an FTC hearing today about how food ads are directed at children.

COLLINS: Authorities say testosterone and other drugs were in Chris Benoit's system when the wrestler took his life after killing his wife and his son. That according to toxicology test results.

Earlier I talked with CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll never be able to say the drugs absolutely made this crime, this horrible event happen, it certainly gives one pause. Let's look first at testosterone.

Huge amounts found. Testosterone is expressed as a ratio -- testosterone, epitestosterone. The ratio that's normal is 6 to 1. In Benoit's body, what was found was 59 to 1. That is a huge, huge difference.

Also found in his body, evidence that he had taken Xanax and Hydrocodone, which a lot of people know better as Vicodin, with have effects on the mood all their own, as if all that testosterone was not enough.

COLLINS: Good lord. I didn't realize it was that much. Unbelievable.

What about his wife and son? What was found there?

COHEN: They also found drugs in their body. Not testosterone, but they found other drugs in their body.

In his wife Nancy's body, they found also evidence of Xanax and Hydrocodone. And in his son's body, this is perhaps the hardest to hear, they found that he had been given Xanax. And they believe that he was sedated shortly before he was killed.


COLLINS: Authorities say their investigation into this case is still ongoing.

HARRIS: A daylight view of disaster. Runway problems the focus this morning in Brazil. An airliner skidding into a building and bursting into flames.


HARRIS: Coming up on the half hour, just past the half hour, welcome back everyone to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi, everybody, I'm Heidi Collins. We are going to get straight to the Senate vote on this Iraq amendment that we have been telling you about all morning. The vote didn't take too long. We'll get to Dana Bash for more on this. Dana, not too many surprises here. Tell us exactly what happened.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Heidi. Just like we've been talking about all morning, there was a lot of theater all night long with this all-night Iraq debate, but not a lot of drama in what was going to happen with the vote that just concluded on the Democrat's deadline for a troop withdrawal. It failed. It was a vote of 52 to 47.

So it didn't reach that 60-vote mark that was necessary in order to keep going. Although it did get a majority of votes. Here is this sort of nugget of news in that particular vote. And that is, Democrats did pick up with this procedural vote one other Republican vote. That was the goal here to pick up Republicans. There you see her, Senator Susan Collins of Maine.

She up until this vote, had told us she was undecided. She did not know how she was going to go on this, because she has been very outspoken against the President's current strategy in Iraq. Well, she just now voted with the Democrats. So, that made four total Republicans voting with the Democrats. I don't want to get too much into the weeds here.

But, another thing Senator Collins spokesman just told us, is she agreed to vote with the Democrats essentially in order to keep this going to allow what would be if this procedural vote passed, a regular vote on the Democrat's measure. However, they're insisting that she is still sort of on the substance against the idea of troop withdrawal.

Now, let's cut through it here. Senator Collins is one of the many Republicans who are up for re-election and is under intense fire by Democrats and by anti-war activists. She was one of the targets of this particular vote. Another all-night session trying to pressure her to vote with Democrats.

So, she is saying that she voted one way, but would in a perfect world vote a different way. But the bottom line is, Democrats got at least one additional Republican to vote with them on this, but not enough in order to pass this. So the Democrats' plan for troop withdrawal essentially just failed on the Senate floor. Heidi?

COLLINS: So, we've seen that before. You vote for your constituents knowing full well that the vote will not pass. All right, Dana. Thanks so much.

BASH: You got it. Ok.

HARRIS: And, this morning in Brazil, anguish and anger. Rescue workers say at least 200 people, imagine that dead in a plane crash. Out of the country's busiest airport. This morning questions about the airport's location in the heart of crowded Sao Paulo, and about the condition of the runway. Let's turn to Miles O'brien, our Chief Technology and Environment Correspondent, a licensed pilot. Good to see you, my friend.


HARRIS: You were talking with Heidi about this a couple of hours ago. Let's start with the location of this airport in a highly, densely populated area.

O'BRIEN: Well, let's remember when this airport was built, 1919 just after World War I, a couple of biplanes in the field. No problem then. Things have changed, aviation needs more space. The city has encroached upon it. It's a double whammy. Take a look at the Google map, and we'll zoom in on it and give you a sense of what we are talking about.

Sao Paulo, huge city. 11 million people in Sao Paulo. Very New York-like. A lot of skyscrapers. Really not a lot of restraints on building, particularly around this airport. 17 million people go through this airport with its two small runways, 6300 feet. Stop there for a minute, if would you. There you go. 6300 feet from stem to stern. Now, that crew in the Airbus A320 on a rainy day would look at their tables and say, ok here is how much we weigh, here is how much water is on the ground, can we get in at this runway? If you looked at the end of that table, it came out to 6,000 feet. So, they really had very little margin on an normal good day.

Now, take a look at this approach through the courtesy of YouTube. We have a look inside the cockpit of a couple of airplanes. This is in an Airbus A320 coming in the opposite direction, same runway. Take a look at the skyscrapers that are there, the dense population that -- you're coming in over just a couple hundred feet above the tops of those skyscrapers.

It would be like having an airport right in Central Park in New York City that, kind of thing. Let's take a look at another one that is very similar, only it shows a little bit of what the weather would have been like yesterday. And, if you look in there, that's the instruments. That means nothing to you. But -- well unfortunately we don't have this cued up to the proper place.

But, basically what would you see if it was later -- maybe you can cut it in about 154, guys. That is TV talk there. And, we'll show you the shot in a second. But, here is the key. This runway had been recently repaved. The grooves that are in the runway which channel the excess water off had not been installed. They were waiting for it to cure.

And so, those tables that told him 6,000 feet were enough would account for having grooves in the runway. There were no grooves there yet.

HARRIS: So, whose responsibility, Miles, to inform the pilots that were not quite ready for you to land at this particular --

O'BRIEN: Every airport has a series of what are called NOTAMS, notices to airmen. And, things like there is an unlit tower nearby, this taxiway is closed, this is something that should have been in the NOTAM. This is what you see on -- look at that. Skyscrapers -- just no margin for error there.

No overrun area at all. The lights kind of go right through the city almost there as you get on your way to the runway. In any case, these pilots were probably very familiar with what was going on with this airport, it is kind of home base for them. But nevertheless, were they factoring in, that fact that it was a wet day, without those channels in the concrete? And that could have been the difference for them.

By the way, these are the two guys that invented the grooves in the concrete. Two guys in the early 60s at NASA Langley Field, said hey wait a minute maybe we can find a way for airplanes to brake better. They cut some groves in, sure enough it works. Now it's on most highways, as well.

HARRIS: So, no real surprise here. We pretty much understand what happened here. O'BRIEN: Well, you know, you never want to say the final thing. You don't put the blinders on in these situations. They have the black boxes. Tremendous amount of data on those Airbus A320s. Highly sophisticated aircraft, cockpit voice recorder. They will be able to come to some kind of conclusion here. And usually it comes out to a series of events that lead to --

HARRIS: Tragedy.

O'BRIEN: Unfortunately, yes.

HARRIS: Miles, appreciate it. Thank you.

COLLINS: A star football player facing federal charges. And accusations of horrific brutality. NFL quarterback Michael Vick and three others accused of running a dog fighting operation out of his Virginia property. A judge is expected to set a hearing date this afternoon. Among the gruesome accusations, Vick took part in killing dogs that weren't ferocious enough.

Methods of execution drowning, hanging and even electrocution. Vick could face prison and possibly an end to his record-shattering career. NFL spokesman Brian Mccarthy had this to say, the activities alleged are cruel, degrading and illegal. Michael Vick's guilt has not yet been proven, and bee believe all concerned should allow the legal process to determine the facts.

HARRIS: The seedy underworld of dog fighting. Big business and a growing problem. CNN Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin takes us inside.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): What you are watching is a family vacation like none you have ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was filmed approximately an hour or so prior to the fight, in a hotel room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stand up, Mark. Let me get you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The person filming it is the dog fighter's wife.

GRIFFIN: The so-called fighter this undercover investigator is talking about is actually a dog owner. He's getting himself and his family prepared for the big event that brought them from Richmond, Virginia, to Columbus, Ohio.

The big event is secret, a championship dog fight. The stakes high.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each fighter put up $5,000, winner take all.

GRIFFIN: They also know the loser may be left with a dog that may never recover. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very common for a championship fight to be videotaped. It's a marketing tool.

GRIFFIN: In all, 40 people have come to watch, which, in Ohio, is a felony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You really run the spectrum. There's actual business people who will frequent these, street people, and everyone in between. One of the fighters brought his grandkids.

GRIFFIN: All will be arrested when the raid begins, but right now, oblivious to the police gathering outside, the ring is the only attraction.

This undercover detective, who does not want his face shown, has been on 40 raids in the last five years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a largely underground, clandestine activity. People may hear about a dog fight, but, you know, they don't think well it happens in my community.

GRIFFIN: Commander Geoff Shank with the U.S. Marshals Service in Chicago says it's not uncommon to find fighting dogs in raids he conducts.

COMMANDER GEOFF SHANK, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: We encountered what we later found out was 13 caged pit bulls. And one of the interview -- people we were interviewing, claimed to be called trainer. We put two and two together and realized he was a, quote unquote, "dog trainer."

We called the local -- Chicago Police Department. They were fully aware of who this guy was, told us they'd been looking for him for a couple of years.

GRIFFIN: Felons, gangbangers, drug pushers -- all have been linked to dog fighting. And more and more linked to inner city neighborhoods, many fights happening in broad daylight.

In Chicago's public schools, the problem is so extensive, school programs are being developed to try to tell children dog fighting is not OK.

DR. GENE MUELLER, ANTI-CRUELTY SOCIETY: The earliest surveys that we did showed about one in five grammar school children in Chicago were actively participating in dog fighting.

GRIFFIN: Dr. Gene Mueller, the head of Chicago's Anti-Cruelty Society, says inner city dog fights have become entertainment, and the dog owners have become, in many cases, role models.

MUELLER: Kids are certainly involved. Felons, gang members. So we have these felons there who are fighting these dogs, for entertainment, or for gambling. Well, that means there's money there, which means somebody has to protect the money. So there's weapons there. And hey, it's an entertainment event, so we better have some drugs there.

GRIFFIN: Left out in all of this are the dogs themselves. This pit bull, dropped off for adoption, may have a chance. It has not been used for fighting.

But authorities have little choice when it comes to dogs trained and raised for sport. Usually vicious, they must be put to death. They are the final victims, whose owners have bred them to fight and sometimes die in a growing ring of violence.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Chicago.


COLLINS: Flood victims getting a place to say thanks to FEMA, happening today in northeastern Oklahoma. Those FEMA trailers just sitting there empty in Hope, Arkansas were originally meant to house Hurricane Katrina victims. Some of them, though, finally being put to good use. Flooding earlier this month forced hundreds of people out of their homes in Miami, Oklahoma. The city council suspended its restriction on mobile-home use, so now displaced residents have a place to stay while their homes are being fixed up.

Roadside bombs and mortars explode in the Iraqi capital. The casualties mount.


HARRIS: Roadside bombs explode and mortars rain down on Baghdad. At least four people were killed when back-to-back bombs exploded near a gas station. Officials say seven others were wounded. In another attack a pair of mortars landed in southwestern Baghdad. At least two people killed. A mortars round also hit a hospital in central Baghdad, wounding seven people there.

COLLINS: In just about 15 minutes from now "YOUR WORLD TODAY" will be broadcasting right here on CNN.

Rosemary Church has more on what they'll be covering this afternoon.

Hi, Rosemary.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to you both, Tony and Heidi.

We are going to have a live report for you on that tragic air disaster in Sao Paulo, and that's where of course friends and family are trying to search for loved ones as investigators search for answers. Now that could prove to be the worst air disaster in Brazil's history.

Also, enemies no more, at least for more. The United States gives its blessing to Iraq's Sunni militias to go after al Qaeda. But their brutal tactics come into question. We'll take a look at that.

And Billionaire Russian exile Boris Berezovsky accuses the Kremlin of trying to kill him. He's just spoken to the media, and we will tell you what he has to say. Those stories and more coming your way at the top of the hour on "YOUR WORLD TODAY."

Do stay with us. Back to you both.

HARRIS: All right, Rosemary. Thank you.


COLLINS: First Iraq now Afghanistan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to the Afghan consulate in New York and told them I wanted to visit Afghanistan for educational purposes, and they gave me a visa.


COLLINS: And Farris Hassan headed back to a war zone. Details of his latest adventure straight ahead.


HARRIS: Do you remember the Florida teen who snuck into Iraq? Well, he is at it again. This time, destination Afghanistan.

CNN's Mary Snow reports.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He caused a commotion when he snuck into Iraq at the age of 16. So imagine how Farris Hassan's mother felt when she found out her son, now 17, slipped out of the country yet again, destination: Afghanistan.

SHATHA ATIYA, FARRIS HASSAN'S MOTHER: I was very worried, extremely anxious and very surprised that he was somehow allowed to leave the country being a minor.

SNOW: Shatha Atiya says she took away her son's passport after his surprise 2005 Iraq trip, and only recently gave it back. But with passport in hand, the Florida teen says he secretly planned a crucial stop during a family visit to New York.

FARRIS HASSAN, TRAVELED TO AFGHANISTAN: I went to the Afghan consulate in New York, and told them I wanted to visit Afghanistan for educational purposes, and they gave me a visa. They didn't need a parent's signature or anything more than that.

SNOW: Hassan says he e-mailed his mother with updates and posted pictures on the Internet to calm her fears about his safety. He does admit that he travelled without security.

Veteran CNN international correspondent Nic Robertson stresses his mother's concerned were justified. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT If you look as though you're a little bit wealthy, then there is every possibility somebody might kidnap you, or worse than that, kidnap you not just for money, but perhaps pass you on to some radical group.

SNOW: Hassan says he chose Afghanistan for his follow-up trip in hopes of starting a school there.

HASSAN: Can I make a difference? Can I do something positive there? And if I can, then I'll go. Security warnings are secondary.

SNOW (on camera): We checked with the Afghan consulate about issuing visas. The representative told us that parental letters are required for anyone under 20. Hassan said that he obtained a letter from a group he was traveling for part of the time while in Afghanistan.

Mary Snow, CNN New York.


COLLINS: Word of a top dog al Qaeda leader captured in Iraq. Find out why he is and why the U.S. says he is linked to Osama bin Laden.


COLLINS: CNN NEWSROOM continues one hour from now.

HARRIS: Are we done already?

COLLINS: It was just three hours.

HARRIS: That's it? You want to stick around for another couple of hours?


HARRIS: OK, "YOUR WORLD TODAY" is next, news happening across the globe and here at home. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: And I'm Heidi Collins. Have a nice Wednesday, everybody.