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CIA Tapes Destroyed; Barry Bonds Hearing Held in San Francisco; Iowa Caucus Countdown; Iran's Drug Abuse Problem

Aired December 07, 2007 - 14:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Some calls were panicky and confused, others downright calm under the circumstances, 911 tapes from inside the Nebraska mall where a gunman killed eight people. One thing comes through the confusion loud and clear, and that's the sound of the gunshots.

DISPATCHER: 911, what's your emergency?

Hello, 911.


DISPATCHER: 911, what's your emergency?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is someone with a gun shooting people in Von Maur at Westroads.

DISPATCHER: OK. We are on our way out there. Have you seen anybody that was shot?


DISPATCHER: OK. They're on their way out there. Did anybody see the person shooting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a bunch of people shot.


PHILLIPS: Six employees of the Von Maur department store were killed, along with two customers. Two others are still in the hospital. Police still don't know why the teenage gunman picked that store as his target

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And that sound of the 911 tapes very disturbing, but the pictures of the gunman actually going inside of the mall might be even more disturbing. Take a look at these.

This is 19-year-old Robert Hawkins when he first entered the mall the first time without that AK-47. These pictures just obtained just a short time ago from CNN. This is a second picture of him. It is believed the gun is there in his right hand. And then one more, probably the most disturbing of them all, is him pointing that gun.

Not exactly sure if this was during the shooting, but very sad pictures there, and very disturbing, I might add. And for those of you who might find this disturbing, a lot of us do, too, but this is real life here. This is exactly what happened.

Our Dan Simon is on the ground in Nebraska. He is from that area. He's checking on this gunman's past, as well as working some other sources. He's going to join us a little bit later on in the CNN NEWSROOM.

But again, surveillance photos of that young gunman just into CNN. And these are sadly, sadly the victims in all of this, what happened after those surveillance photos.

Check out to read more about those victims on Wednesday's shooting. It's on, and you can click on the logo to log on and look at that.

PHILLIPS: Well, we're going to move on and talk about the CIA making videotapes of terror suspects and how they are being interrogated in 2002. They destroyed them three years ago, we're told. It's not as simple as that, though. What was the nature of the questioning and what were the tactics, and why were the tapes destroyed? That's unclear.

Well, the CIA says that everything was legal.

Here's CNN's justice correspondent, Kelli Arena.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This is turning into a classic Washington he said-she said. The CIA director says that Congress knew the agency was going to destroy the tapes. Leaders of Congress say not true.

The 9/11 Commission was also left out of the loop. Officials were never told that tapes even existed, even though they asked for evidence relating to 9/11 and al Qaeda.

So here's the bottom line. Those tapes were made after the president approved harsher interrogation techniques for terror detainees. Those tapes were destroyed when the CIA knew that there was a debate over those practices. So if what the CIA director is true and the interrogations were conducted lawfully, the tapes could have proved it.

For its part, the CIA says, look, we destroyed the tapes to protect the identities of our interrogators. Now, they say they could have been targeted by al Qaeda, as well as their families.

At this point, critics from all corners are looking into whether the CIA obstructed justice in any way, whether officials interfered with any investigations. Obviously all of that depends on getting all the facts, which at this point are not publicly available.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington


PHILLIPS: And reaction from senators today, mainly Democrats, angry at being kept out of the loop.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), MAJORITY WHIP: It is a startling disclosure. The United States of America, a nation where the rule of law is venerated, has now been in the business of destroying evidence, evidence of a very sensitive nature, evidence which clearly should have been protected for legal and historic purposes.



SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I believe that when you're dealing with people you have to have some knowledge of psychology. You have to have some knowledge of other tactics. And I think to resort to torture is the wrong thing. It is alien to the principles of the United States, and I don't want to be a country that says don't do as I do, do as I say.


PHILLIPS: And according to a CIA memo, the tapes were made in 2002 and destroyed three years later with the full knowledge of the Justice Department.

LEMON: We want to update our breaking news coming from the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. It is a shooting at a mall. Now, here's what we're being told happened.

Shots were fired in the park lot of a shopping mall this afternoon. It actually was this morning in an apparent holdup here. This is the South Mall. It's in the Lehigh Valley in Allentown, Pennsylvania, an apparent holdup of an armored car.

People ran into the mall for safety after the gunman began. And Bank of America, a spokesman there, is saying that the shooting was apparently related to an attempted holdup of the armored car.

None of the associates, he says, or the customers was injured in any of this. One customer said she was in the Steinmart when a mall employee came up and ushered her into the back of the store because something was happening outside. None of the customers could leave here.

But again, WPVI, our affiliate here, we appreciate these pictures coming in from our affiliate, WPVI. Again, a mall shooting in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which is in the Lehigh Valley there in Pennsylvania.

But again, no one who worked for the armored car service, Bank of America, or the employees or customers in the bank at the time, none believed to be hurt.

We'll continue to update you on this.

We're going to move on now and talk about Barry Bonds. It's probably the first time that he would love to have had an intentional walk. Baseball's homerun king was in court two hours ago to plea on perjury and obstruction charges stemming from a government investigation into steroids.

And CNN's Thelma Gutierrez, she is live in San Francisco as she has the very latest on this for us -- Thelma.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, I can tell you that a trial date has not yet been set, but as expected, Barry Bonds pleaded not guilty to four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice leading back to allegations that he had lied to a grand jury back in 2003.

Now, Bonds left the courthouse about an hour ago. When he did so he was mobbed by photographers and a few fans. He did not say anything, however.

Now, the arraignment went very quickly. He had been processed yesterday. He was fingerprinted and his mug shot was taken. So today they just had to get down to the business of setting bail, and an unsecured bail in the amount of $500,000 was set. That means Bonds doesn't have to put up the money right away, just has to come up with it if he does not return to court.

Now, Bonds entered his plea, of course, of not guilty. No cameras were allowed inside the courthouse at the time, but my colleague Ted Rowlands was there. He said that Bonds stood up very calmly, entered his plea, and turned to some of the fans who were wearing baseball attire. He waved at them and he smiled, but other than that he showed no emotion.


ALLEN RUBY, BARRY BONDS' ATTORNEY: For today, Barry Bonds is innocent. He has trust and faith in the justice system. He will defend these charges, and we're confident of a good outcome.


GUTIERREZ: Now, a status hearing has been set for February 7th. We understand that Barry Bonds will not have to appear. He will also be allowed to travel freely during this time. And his agent says that he is in training right now and he hopes to play ball in '08.

Don, back to you

LEMON: All right, Thelma. Thank you. PHILLIPS: And here's a lesson for anybody running for public office. If you want to draw a crowd, invite Oprah.

Barack Obama has moved a planned rally Sunday to the University of South Carolina's football stadium. It was originally scheduled for the 18,000-seat indoor coliseum. Apparently, Oprah's scheduled appearance caused a huge demand for tickets, so the rally would be held outdoors in the 80,000-seat stadium.

The Iowa caucuses are less than a month away. Twenty-seven days, to be exact. Polls are showing a lot of movement among Republicans and a tight race amongst Democrats as well.

So what are Iowa voters thinking as the big day approaches?

Suzanne Malveaux is standing by in Des Moines.

Hey, Suzanne.


It's really interesting what is happening here, because as the casualties go down in Iraq and as U.S. troops come home, there is a dynamic shift that is taking place in this campaign. And that is what people are thinking about, the issues here, what really impacts how they are going to select the next president.

Well, voters I've talked to here in Iowa are saying it is not the Iraq war, but rather, for the last couple of weeks, it has really been the economy that has surged forward as the number one issue on voters' minds. I talked to a lot of people this morning at the Drake Diner, and they talked about, how are we going to get our kids through college? How are we going to support our elderly parents?

These are the types of things that they want to hear from these candidates. Kyra, just take a listen


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember when Clinton was in and stuff that I felt like I had more money. I had more money to spend. I felt like, you know, more secure. And now I feel like I'm just holding on to every dollar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a single dad. Gas, I drive an hour to work every day, I have been for quite a while. And with the gas prices jumping up like they have, it's basically doubled the amount of money I have to spend to go to work.


MALVEAUX: And Kyra, of course we take their word for it, but also, there are opinion polls, CNN polls that back this up with research, essentially saying that now it is the economy. About 29 percent saying that is the top issue. The Iraq war is right behind, then it's healthcare.

They talk about education. Terrorism really quite low on the list.

Now, I talked to one of the political analysts at "The Des Moines Register" to say essentially, what is happening here? What is going on in this state? They are paying very close attention to the candidates and what they are talking about.

Here's how he assesses the situation.


DAVID YEPSEN, "DES MOINES REGISTER": I think Iowa is the same as the rest of the country when it comes to the economy. People are nervous. You know, high gas prices, the stock market is jittery, the mortgage crisis. People are scared.


MALVEAUX: And I think you can really get that sense of fear from people when you talk to them. There are concerns about this.

Another thing that I asked them about as well, you know, President Bush, whether or not they feel that he's still relevant. We know that he's gotten into quite a bit of trouble, criticism over the threat from Iran, the intelligence that's come out just the last 24, 48 hours.

A lot of people say, look, they still believe he is relevant, but they are not paying that much attention to him. They have already moved on. They say they are looking to these candidates to figure out those types of solutions, the things they are talking about, the economy, healthcare, those types of things -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Suzanne. We hear that Oprah is coming to Iowa this week with Barack Obama. Are you hearing any buzz about that among Iowans?

MALVEAUX: Everybody is so excited. I mean, everybody is just waiting.

I talked to one guy who's like, you know, "I've got to get a ticket. I've got to get a ticket."

You know it's going to be held in South Carolina, a huge stadium, and they are not even having tickets anymore. There's just been so much of an outpour of people who want to come that they are just saying, look, you know, we'll see how many people can fill that stadium.

They don't believe they're going to fill the stadium, but they believe that they're going to get a crowd that we have not seen before. So a lot of excitement over the weekend about that event

PHILLIPS: Well, Suzanne, here's what I want to know. Did Barack Obama's book make the Oprah Book Club?

MALVEAUX: What's that?

PHILLIPS: Did Barack Obama's book make Oprah's Book Club? That's what I want to know.

MALVEAUX: I don't -- I don't know. That's a very good question.

PHILLIPS: We need to find that out.

MALVEAUX: We'll have to see. We know she's endorsing him, that's for sure

LEMON: We know he's one of her favorite things, but not exactly sure...

PHILLIPS: Exactly. We want to see if the book made the book club. That's what we want to know

All right. Suzanne...

MALVEAUX: Oh, OK. Well, I'll get back to you on that one.

PHILLIPS: OK. Perfect.

Thanks, Suzanne.


PHILLIPS: Well, on a more serious note, the aftermath of that holiday shopping mall tragedy. This afternoon, more on the victims and the troubled shooter. We're going to go live to Omaha

LEMON: It has never been done before. These twins both got kidneys from the same donor. We'll hear from the doctor and their mother.

PHILLIPS: And you can never have too many heroes. That's what we have today, including a 12-year-old leukemia patient who went out to find help for others.

Boy will he inspire you.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



PHILLIPS: Here's something I bet you didn't know about Iran. The country has almost two million drug addicts, most of whom are men. Many have left their families, leaving their wives to feed themselves.

CNN's Aneesh Raman, who's the only American journalist in Tehran, reports.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Each stitch for 33-year-old Hadije (ph) is about survival. Every carpet means she's that much closer to paying the rent. It's a spot Hadije (ph) never thought she'd be in. And she is not alone.

Untrained, often lower income, these Iranian women have been forced to find work overnight, becoming sole breadwinners as unemployment among their husbands rise and drug abuse follows.

FATEMAH EBTEKAR, DIRECTOR, ZENAB COBRA FOUNDATION: The number of narcotics in people is rising, and mostly in the men and (INAUDIBLE).

RAMAN (on camera): And so the wives are left to find the job?

EBTEKAR: Yes, find the job and take care of themselves and their children. And sometimes they cannot do that and they leave the children, and they live alone.

RAMAN (voice over): Trying to help is Fatemah Ebtekar, who runs a center an hour outside of Tehran, part of the privately-funded Zenab Cobra Foundation. It provides work training at any time for 200 suddenly single moms, along with daycare for kids like Hadije's (ph) 3-year-old son Ali.

We walk home with Hadije (ph) on her break, heading to her two- room apartment where she cares for four children. This time we're along to help. Every other day she's on her own.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Six years ago my husband married another woman, lost his money and started doing drugs. He sold everything I had, even the pots and pans, and disappeared into addiction.

RAMAN: Fifteen years ago Hadije (ph) was a hopeful bride. Today she bears the weight of a husband's affair with crack cocaine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's very difficult. Right now I have to pay for the gas bill. That's on my mind. I'm also thinking how to feed my children tonight and tomorrow.

RAMAN: Back at the center it's a big day. Once a year, potential donors come by, and Ebtekar needs their help. It costs $5,000 a month to keep the center running, but from amid these sad circumstances comes strength -- Iranian women helping other women help themselves.

EBTEKAR: Women are working, and everywhere they are working. And -- but they still have to try more and to get some more rights for women.

RAMAN: Not by choice, Hadije (ph) is now part of that movement for equality, but she knows it's going to be a difficult journey.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Bumahen (ph), Iran.


LEMON: AWOL senators on the campaign trail, spending more time running for the White House than running the country. We'll tell you the worst offenders.


LEMON: Well, 12-year-old Patrick Pedraja said it best -- "You're never too young to change the word." He sure did, and that's why he's a CNN Hero.

Patrick is a leukemia patient who traveled the country encouraging minorities to sign up for a bone marrow registry. He got more than 5,000 names in just three months.



And, well, first of all, I would I like to thank all the other heroes that were featured online with me. They are all such amazing people doing such amazing things, and it was really an honor to be among them.

I would also like to thank my parents, my mom and my family, because I couldn't have done it without their support, and help from my friends. And there are so many people in organizations from around the world voting for me. It really shows how cancer has touched so many of our lives.

And I told everybody I wanted to win so I could come up here and tell everybody about the critical need for bone marrow donors. By just a cheek swab, you can be on the National Marrow Donor program's registry in over 50 countries, and just doing something so simple you can be the one to save the life of a kid like me.

And all of us have a power to make a difference. You just have to never give up and always believe. And I just want everybody to remember that you're never too young to change the world.

Thank you.


LEMON: Goodness.

PHILLIPS: I want to adopt him. I want to take that one home.

LEMON: Oh, my gosh, what a cute, sweet kid.

And you know, if you missed any of last night's show, just even a second it, no big deal. The heroes music, all that stuff, no sweat. There will be an encore presentation tonight at 8:00 Eastern, right here on CNN. And learn more about the heroes at

Amazing, amazing kids.


LEMON: All right. Two sisters, identical twins who now share a spot in the medical history books. And we've got one of the doctors who helped make it possible.


PHILLIPS: Some calls were panicky and confused and others seemed downright calm under the circumstances. The 911 tapes from Omaha take you inside the mall where a gunman killed eight people. One thing comes through the confusion loud and clear though, and that's the sound of the gunshots.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 911, what's your emergency?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 911, what's your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is someone with a gun shooting people in the Von Maur at Westwoods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we're on our way out there. Have you seen anybody that was shot?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, they're on their way out there. Did anybody see the person shooting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a bunch of people shot.


PHILLIPS: Six employees of the Von Maur Department Store were killed along with two customers. Two others are still in the hospital. And police still don't know why the teenage gunman picked that store as his target.

LEMON: Surveillance video from Omaha shows the shooter Robert Hawkins as he enters the mall just before the deadly rampage begins. You can also see him with his gun raised. Let's go straight to CNN's Dan Simon who is in Omaha and he joins us now with the very latest.

Those photos, Dan, just very frightening and disturbing.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very disturbing to look at, Don. And I can tell you we're getting a fuller picture today in terms of the personality of the shooter, Robert Hawkins. I spoke to three young women who were part of the same group home program for troubled teenagers. And what they are telling us is that the Robert Hawkins they knew is not the guy who is capable of going into this mall behind me and starting to shoot at people.

They described him as somebody who had a good personality, somebody who had a good sense of humor, someone who had a lot of friends. Not a loner type, the type of person you normally associate with these kinds of shootings. Take a look at some of what they had to say.


SYDNEY GOODMAN, FRIEND OF HAWKINS: Unbelievable. It still hasn't fully set in that that was Robbie.

SARAH RAMMAHA, FRIEND OF HAWKINS: Yeah, every time I think about it. It just kind of gives me the shock again, get the shock factor. And see it on the news and I still can't believe it.

JANAE JONES, FRIEND OF HAWKINS: I can't wonder if like if any of us were there that day, if he would have shot us, too, or not.


RAMMAHA: I don't know. Because at that point, I mean, you have to be pretty just out of your mind to do that.

GOODMAN: It was like beyond logic. He wasn't thinking about what he was doing.

JONES: In Robbie's eyes it was because the people at Von Maur, he probably thought they were better off than him because it's kind of like, you know, a lot of stuff is expensive and people who make more money than him would be shopping there. And I think that he, you know, just thought they were better off than he was, and didn't want it to be that way.


SIMON: And that young woman, Janae Jones, was responding specifically to my question about why Robert Hawkins may have targeted the Von Maur mall here at the Westroads shopping mall.

You know, Don, oftentimes when you have these kinds of shootings, you talk to friends and they talk about warning signs, but when you listen to the three young women who knew Robert Hawkins quite well, they say there were no warning signs. So we really don't have much of an understanding in terms of what may have set this young man off, Don.

LEMON: Dan, I've got to ask you, I know you're from the area and going back and speaking to the folks you grew up, what's the reaction to this? How is the community doing?

SIMON: Well, this is tough for the Omaha community. And I thought about how I would answer this. This may come off sounding corny, Don, but Omaha to a lot of people sort of represents the best of America. You know, they have great public schools here, affordable housing, not much crime. And to have this splashed across the front pages of every newspaper in the country, you know, is very difficult for this community to handle, but I can tell you that they are starting to bounce back.

The Westroads shopping mall behind me will be open tomorrow. As you can imagine, on a Friday afternoon this place would be packed right now. It would be tough to find a parking spot. It is going to be open tomorrow. And, of course, there are going to be some memorial services beginning this weekend. And we know that in some cases thousands of people are expected to attend, Don.

LEMON: Again, your family and friends, everyone OK there?

SIMON: Yeah. Everyone is doing OK. You know, everyone is just, you know, obviously sympathetic for those who lost their lives, and at least for the families who lost their lives in this awful tragedy. And, you know, everyone is just hoping that this community is going to rally back.

LEMON: All right, Dan, thank you very much for that report. The victims are described as innocent people just going about their business, husbands, wives, parents and grandparents.


LEMON (voice over): Beverly Flynn was a gift wrapper at Von Maur, but the 47-year-old was also a real estate agent. Every time she closed a deal she planted a rosebush in the yard as a move-in present to the new homeowners.

Customers loved Janet Jorgensen, and while she loved her work her family was her life. She leaves behind three children, eight grandchildren and a husband she wed some 50 years ago.

Gary Joy often ate with his 91-year-old mother. She says he always came when I need help, but when they sat down to dinner over the Thanksgiving holiday Inez Joy had no idea it would be the last time she saw her son.

John McDonald loved music and played the guitar. He and his wife Kathy (ph) were together for 40 years of marriage, two kids and seven grandchildren, all girls. They were also together as she watched him die on the third floor of the Von Maur store.

A story best describes 48-year-old Gary Scharf who recently stopped to help a single mother whose car was stalled. Scharf started her car, but that wasn't the end of it. He got her address and later delivered a package of groceries and blankets to her doorstep.

Angie Shuster's sister says she was in a very happy place in her life. They last saw each other on Sunday and Angie was excited about her fiance's plan to give her a ring for Christmas.

Diane Trent loved her animals, her flowers and her large extended family. One of six children, she never missed an opportunity to dote on a niece or nephew. One of those nephews says of her, she was at every birthday we had, every family event. She was there.

Maggie Webb was on her way up in the world, born in the small town of Moline, Illinois, she graduated from Illinois State University in 2005. Then at just 24 years old she had moved to Omaha to manage the sprawling Von Maur store. Just a few months later she became this American tragedy's youngest victim.


LEMON: The story behind all of those faces. Check out to read more about the victims of Wednesday's shooting. They are all described as innocent people going about their daily lives. The story has been the most popular on the site today, and you can also share your memories of the victims by sending us an I-Report.

PHILLIPS: Twin blessings, two sisters get a new lease on life on the same day with kidneys from the same cadaver donor. They are 10 years old, identical twins, born with a rare and life-threatening disease. Doctor Riccardo Superina is one of two transplant surgeons who operate on the girls in Chicago.

Doctor, great to have you with us.


PHILLIPS: I want you to start out, if you don't mind, talking about these girls and their personalities. I was reading about them and it was so cute what they were talking about before they went into surgery. Angie saying she was upset about her hair because she said it was too short and it made it look like Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka character. And then they were talking about how excited they were to get through this because for Christmas they wanted a Boxer puppy, because they are cute and sporty. And I understand they were having fun with you and the other doctors. Tell me about their personality and how you identified with them?

SUPERINA: The very first time I met them was in the outpatient clinic and you can tell right away that they both had gleams in their eyes, and they enjoy having you try and guess who was who, because they -- obviously they are identical. And even their names are almost identical. Their nicknames are different, but their real names are Anjenelli (ph) and Gianelli (ph). So, it's easy to get them confused. And I think they kind of enjoyed the fact that you couldn't keep them straight.

So they had that kind of wicked gleam in their eye half the time. When they came in for the surgery they obviously a little nervous and I think they each took turns kind of supporting each other. And then we tried to kind of make them feel good about what was happening, but kids are often kind of nervous. Their mom was with them, so they were all right.

PHILLIPS: Did they ask you any questions, doctor?

SUPERINA: They just asked me how long it's going to take and, you know, kids like to ask you things about yourself. They don't necessarily want to focus on the surgery. They kind of ask you about things and in their surroundings, and we try to distract them with things that don't have to do immediately with the surgery.

PHILLIPS: Were there any moments, any warm moments, or funny moments that sort of stick out to you?

SUPERINA: Well, after the surgery when I went to see Anji, it was the first day after her surgery and often kids are a little sleepy from the medications that they get, and the painkillers that they are on. But she was very bright and alert. And so I kind of stopped by and I just asked her, do you know where your kidney is and she kind of pointed it out. And then I said, well, you know, are you happy that you got a kidney and she said, yeah. What makes it -- why are you happy? And she said it's because I'm going to get a puppy now.

I said, oh.

PHILLIPS: See, they want that Boxer.

SUPERINA: They want the puppy, yeah.

PHILLIPS: Doctor, tell me about this surgery and what made it so unique?

SUPERINA: Well, that's a great question because in a way transplants are what we do for -- that's our profession, myself and my colleague, who transplanted the other twin, and all the people who were involved. We do this sort of on a daily basis so all of the parts that went into making this operation a success are things that we have well worked out and we do on a daily basis. What made this so different was that there were twice as many things to consider, and twice as many details. And I think it's a credit to everybody who works at Children's that everything went so smoothly.

You know. We had twice the amount of worry and rather than just worrying about the patient that you're operating on, you're worried about the patient your colleague is operating on, because the operations went on practically simultaneously.

PHILLIPS: Gosh, that must have been really scary for the mom.

SUPERINA: Well, yeah, and she was -- you know, she was great. And obviously you have -- you have to talk to her about both twins, and you try to keep, you know, the details straight in your mind, because as I said, they are so similar that sometimes you have to think twice about, well, did this one have that happen to her, or did that one have that happen to her?

PHILLIPS: It's such a unique situation. But it's great to hear that they are doing well. We want to follow up with you and the girls, Anji and Nelly, to see how they are doing. Does that sound all right?

SUPERINA: They are doing fabulous. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Wonderful. Doctor Riccardo Superina , congratulations. Thanks for sharing the story with us.

SUPERINA: Thank you.

LEMON: AWOL senators on the campaign trail, spending more time running for the White House than running the country. We'll tell you the worst offenders.


PHILLIPS: All right. We kick off our Friday political ticker with a woman who first made headlines in a previous Clinton campaign for president. Remember Gennifer Flowers? She may have been Bill Clinton's mistress but she told the Associated Press she just might vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

Flowers says she's still undecided, but she would really like to see a woman elected to the White House.

Barack Obama already has his hands full taking on Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Democratic hopefuls. Now he's up against Bill Clinton as well. Obama and Clinton have both been nominated for Grammy awards in the spoken word album category for the audio versions of their books.

LEMON: The Mike Huckabee juggernaut -- well, it just continues. A nationwide Associated Press I-P-S-O-S, or IPSOS poll, finds the former Arkansas governor now in second place behind Rudy Giuliani among the GOP candidates for president. Giuliani claims 26 percent of Republican voters and Huckabee 18 percent, an 8-point jump for Huckabee in a month. McCain got 13 percent and Mitt Romney 12 percent and Fred Thompson 11.

Virtually no change on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton leads Obama 45 to 23 percent.

Running for president is a time intensive proposition and so is being senator. So when senators run for president something has to give and sometimes -- often -- it's the candidate's day job. CNN's Chris Lawrence reports.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Senator Barack Obama missed a key vote on Iran.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And it was a mistake. This is one of the hazards of running for president.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, nice to see you. LAWRENCE: Hillary Clinton has missed 19 percent of the votes this year. Barack Obama has Chris Dodd nearly double that. Joe Biden even more, and John McCain 54 percent. He missed more than he's voted, including the confirmation for Attorney General Mike Mukasey, the most important law enforcement official in the country. Clinton, Obama and Biden missed that vote, too.

NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: This has made doing business in the Senate much tougher.

LAWRENCE: Congressional watchdog Norm Ornstein says senators have committee assignments, too. Several presidential appointments have been waiting on Banking Chairman Chris Dodd.

(On camera): Director of the Federal Housing Finance Board, president of the government National Mortgage Association. I don't know what all these people do, but it sounds important to me.

ORNSTEIN: We've got a lot of nominations that have been sitting there because the committee hasn't been together to do hearings.

LAWRENCE (voice over): Which means your government is not operating at full strength. In his defense Dodd's staff says there are 12 other nominations he's helped push through. The big difference during this presidential race, instead of a few months, candidates hit the road an entire year before the first primary.

(On camera): Is this about shake hands and kissing babies, or is this about raising cash?

ORNSTEIN: This has been far more about raising money than anything else.

LAWRENCE (voice over): Ornstein says candidates had to show their financial strength early to keep donors from defecting to other campaigns, but while they are out fundraising taxpayers pay a price.

(On camera): Now, no one is suggesting that you can run for president from an office here in Washington. And we spoke with Senator McCain's staff and they said experienced lawmakers like him often know ahead of time if the vote is even going to be close. And they make every effort to get back here to Washington when they are need.

Another thing to keep in mind, when it comes to raising cash, all these senators are competing with other candidates like Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards, who don't have the same kind of obligations. Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.


LEMON: And if you want the most up-to-the-minute political news available anywhere is your one-stop shop,, the Internet's premiere destination for political news.

PHILLIPS: "Golden Compass" and controversy, we are going to tell you why the Catholic Church doesn't want your child to see this movie.


PHILLIPS: Big budget Hollywood fantasy or anti-Catholic propaganda? That's the debate rage willing over "The Golden Compass." CNN's Brooke Anderson reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard them goblins take you down to hell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course they don't.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): "The Golden Compass" presents an alternate universe of armored bears and airborne witches, a fantasy film rated PG-13, aimed at kids and their families this holiday season. But inside this shiny package lies a sinister gift, according to some Christian critics.

WILLIAM DONOHUE, PRES., THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE: I think that it's really slipping in atheism in kind of a back-door fashion.

ANDERSON: The film is based on the first volume of British writer and self-described agnostic Philip Pullman's best-selling trilogy his dark materials, which ends with the death of God. "The Golden Compass" was first published in 1995.

Though there's no direct mention of Jesus, God or the Catholic Church in the film children are menaced by a shadowy religious organization known as Magesterium (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Magesterium is what people need to keep things working, by telling people what to do.

ANDERSON: Catholic League President Bill Donahue says that's a veiled attack on the Catholic Church.

DONOHUE: The term "magesterium" (ph) is the actual term that is used in the Catholic Church to describe the pope, in communion with the bishops, as the teaching authority.

ANDERSON: The Christian-oriented Web site,, has issued a warning against the film. Focus on the Family calls the source material viciously anti-God. And the Catholic League is calling for an outright boycott of the movie, fearing it will push the kids to read the books.

DONOHUE: The movie is fairly innocuous, but parents may decide to bring their kids into this a little further by buying them the trilogy for Christmas. At that point they will introduce their children to the virtues of atheism and the horrors of Catholicism.

ANDERSON: A spokesperson for New Line Cinema, the studio behind "The Golden Compass" tells CNN the film is neither anti-Christian, nor anti-religion. And that the novel has been praised for its, quote, "deep spiritually and exploration of important theological issues." CHRIS WEITZ, DIRECTOR, "THE GOLDEN COMPASS": I don't think the books are a threat to organized religion. First of all, I think organized religion is strong enough to stand on its own. And, secondly, I don't think that Pullman is aggressively anti-Catholic or anti-religious.

ANDERSON: Not all religious groups are unhappy with the film. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls it intelligent and well- crafted entertainment.

Brooke Anderson, CNN, New York.


LEMON: They made the tapes, so why not show them. The CIA recorded interrogations of two top terror suspects. We'll tell you why you'll never see those tapes.