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Bush Unveils Flu Plan; Kentucky National Guard Members Return Home; Pentagon Briefing

Aired November 01, 2005 - 13:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, HOST: Preventing a deadly flu outbreak. The president's multi-billion dollar plan to protect Americans. Will it work?
Also this hour, we're minutes away from a live briefing: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Iraq. When it happens, you'll see it on CNN.

And heartland homecoming. They lost comrades. They survived fierce gun battles. And three of them received Silver Stars for bravery. We're talking about the men and women within Kentucky's National Guard. They're home, and two soldiers join us live.

From the CNN center in Atlanta, I'm Kyra Phillips. CNN's LIVE FROM starts right now.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Scientists and doctors cannot tell us where or when the next pandemic will strike or how severe it will be. But most agree, at some point we are likely to face another pandemic.


PHILLIPS: And based on that assumption, that a global outbreak is a matter of when and not if, the president lays out his prescription to deal with a potential pandemic.

A couple of key points involve fast-tracking vaccine development, including pushing the science of cell culture over the current antiquated process. And coordinating response at every conceivable level: global, federal, state, local and personal.

It's a tall order, and an expensive one. The president is asking Congress for $7.1 billion in emergency funding to put his pandemic plan in action. Put that amount into perspective. The city of Toronto's entire budget in 2005 was $7.1 billion. And in 2005, that was also the president's amount for border security funding.

Well, as we listened to that speech, some questions started buzzing around our LIVE FROM staff. We heard crash programs, emergency planning, making plans now. That's a reality check. How bad is the current system, though? And does the emphasis just make people feel more anxious than they already are? We heard about the need for global cooperation regarding current cases of bird flu in Asia. Right now, the World Health Organization is pressuring China for further tests on a death on -- on a death, rather, that officials say wasn't bird flu. It makes us wonder, can we trust other nations to detect the threat or to share the details?

And what is this national biosecurity initiative? That name alone sounds pretty chilling.

Well, the man in question -- or the main question, rather, that we're all asking is what do I do if a pandemic breaks out?

CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me now to talk about that. Your first thoughts?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What can you do? That's the question. That's what everyone wants to know.

Right now, the first thing you can do is not panic. You know, when the president makes a special speech like this, of course you immediately get nervous. But you have to remember, the pandemic is not here. There is no bird flu in the United States, either in birds or in people. So that's the first thing.

However, if a pandemic does get here, a pandemic, let's say, of avian flu, for which there is no vaccine, a couple of things you'd want to remember is wash your hands a lot. I know that sounds so simple. It's what your mom told you. But really that can go a long way to not spread the disease.

Also, stay at home if you're sick. Keep your kids home if you're sick. And be prepared for public health authorities to tell us to do things that might seem a little odd, in other words, things that Americans aren't usually told to do. Stay away from public gatherings. Don't travel unless you absolutely need to.

Now, during the SARS outbreak in Canada, for example, when they were telling people to do this, people didn't always listen, and that certainly sometimes made things worse. That is one the things that people are going to have to remember, that they may be told to do things that are a little out of the ordinary.

PHILLIPS: Second thing they want to know, if just a regular flu shot helps in any way?

COHEN: Probably not. That is probably not going to help you. Of course, it will help you not get the regular old flu this season, so it's very important. And the CDC is really pushing for people to get flu shots because just regular old garden variety seasonal flu is upon us. It's already shown up in several states. So you should get your flu shot, even if you are a young, healthy person. However, that is probably not going to do a whole lot for you if avian flu were to arrive. That's a completely different virus than the one that we're seeing now.

PHILLIPS: Common sense, of course, doing everything you can now to boost your immune system and stay healthy.

COHEN: Right. If you have a healthy immune system that can very well help you if a pandemic arrives. If your lungs are in good shape, if your body is in good shape. So you should do all the things you should do anyhow. You should eat well. You should exercise, of course. You shouldn't smoke.

PHILLIPS: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

And of course, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to look at what you need to know about bird flu and a possible pandemic this weekend on "HOUSE CALL." That's Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8:30 Eastern, only here on CNN.

And you can get the facts on the flu, other pandemics and the latest research anytime online at

CNN is committed to providing the most reliable coverage of news that affects your security, so stay tuned to CNN for the latest information day and night.


PHILLIPS (voice-over): Next on LIVE FROM: roadside bombs. A new military report calls them the Iraqi insurgents' deadliest weapon. A live briefing from the Pentagon moments away.

Later on LIVE FROM, dangerous duty and a happy homecoming. Kentucky National Guardsmen who fought an intense gun battle join me live to tell their stories.

Also ahead, judging the judge. How would the Supreme Court nominee rule on abortion, free speech and other tough issues? A man who knows him well shares insight into the mind of Samuel Alito.






RICHARD LUI, CNN.COM: President Bush wasted no time in nominating Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, following Harriet Miers' withdrawal last week. A closer look at

The New Jersey's native experience stands out, having been a circuit court judge for 15 years and a U.S. attorney before then. Check out his full bio on our special report.

Then, other responses to the nomination. Conservatives and liberals also sparring over Alito. Gary Bauer calls the choice "a grand slam," while Senator Patrick Leahy says it is a "needlessly provocative nomination." See what other lawmakers and activists are saying.

Plus, you don't have to pour through over 3,500 cases and 300 opinions Alito wrote. We've highlighted some of his key rulings, including decisions related to abortion and separation of church and state.

All you need to know on Judge Alito and the nomination process is at

I'm Richard Lui for the dot com desk.



PHILLIPS: It was exactly a week ago that we told you the U.S. military death toll in Iraq had reached 2,000. And now there's another grim milestone. A colonel has become the highest ranking U.S. officer to be killed in combat in this Iraq war.

William Wood died last week in an explosion just south of Baghdad. He was a lieutenant colonel at the time, but in a twist of fate, Wood didn't know that he'd been approved for promotion to colonel. The Army made the promotion posthumously.

Well, as we remember Colonel William Wood and what he died fighting for, we are extremely thankful for those soldiers who always come home alive -- not always come home alive, rather. But today, we do welcome home the Kentucky National Guard 617th Military Police Company.

These men and women are home after a year in the war zone and an infamous battle. Three in their ranks received Silver Stars. Three dozen were seriously wounded. Two didn't come home. But we're going to honor them all today.

Joining me now from Louisville is the 617th commander, Captain Todd Lindner, and Specialist Jason Mike, one of the Silver Star recipients.

Guys, great to see you.


PHILLIPS: Well, of course, we want to get into your stories and talk more about what happened in Iraq, but I want to let you both know we're waiting for this briefing at the Pentagon. And Donald Rumsfeld expected to come forward and talk about this report that the military is putting out on roadside bombs and IEDs. And I know both of you had to go up against this threat, constantly, while you were in Iraq.

Captain, why don't we start with you? And just tell me, as you had to maintain calm among these men and women, how did you prepare your fellow soldiers for that threat once you got to Iraq? You dealt with it for an entire year. CAPT. TODD LINDNER, KENTUCKY NATIONAL GUARD: Initially, the preparation started about a year prior to our mobilization, where we started just at the individual team level, particularly when you're talking about IEDs, we focused on identification and then reaction, anticipating that you would be attacked by IEDs what to do after the attack, or after the explosion.

PHILLIPS: And Mike, you're -- or Jason, you're a medic, and you had to respond as soon as one of your fellow men and women were devastated by one of these IEDs. I mean, how did you prep yourself for that? You knew this was going to be a threat. You knew you'd have to work on your fellow men and women in a certain way. How did you prepare for that?

SPC. JASON MIKE, KENTUCKY NATIONAL GUARD: For the most part, I just look at the lessons learned that were taught before I went over there. Pretty much looking at different film, looking at different pictures of what the IEDs can do, what kind of injuries they cause. Pretty much preparing myself for -- to pretty much give the best treatment I can, knowing which injury would be -- would be present at the time that I arrive on the scene.

PHILLIPS: And gentlemen, I'm being told that Donald Rumsfeld just walked out. He's getting ready to step up to the podium. Stay with us. We'll monitor this briefing. We'll come back and talk about your heroic stories. We'll be right back.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: ... opportunity to visit with U.S. troops serving in South Korea, to thank them for their service and their sacrifice.

I noted to them that within my lifetime the same now-free and prosperous South Korea that they're helping to defend was almost completely destroyed by a terrible conflict.

In the three years of the Korean War, nearly 40,000 Americans would fall in brutal combat and U.S. forces endured many setbacks along the way. President Harry Truman, now remembered as a fine president, would leave office in 1953 with an approval rating of about 25 percent: one of the lowest recorded ratings since folk started measuring those things.

Back then a great many people questioned whether young Americans should face death and injury in Korea, thousands of miles from home, for a result that seemed uncertain at best. And today the answer -- there's the Korean Peninsula. Satellite photo, Demilitarized Zone; this is Pyongyang, the capital.

And it gives you a little idea of the contrast between a free political system and a free economic system. Same people North and South, same resources North and South; the only difference is the North has a repressive political regime and a command economy and people are starving, and in the South, the free economic system and free political system have created an economic miracle. But the question was, Should young Americans be sent over there at the risk of their lives?

RUMSFELD: And, of course, the answer to that question is clear to anyone who visits the Korean Peninsula today or who had the privilege of meeting, as I have done, some of the 3,000 South Korean troops who are helping the people of Iraq rebuild and secure their new-found freedom.

This week in Iraq candidates and political parties representing all of the ethnic groups will begin campaigning in the parliamentary elections to be held on December 15th, something that's truly remarkable.

Consider that just under three years ago this same Iraq was home to one of the most vicious regimes of the 20th century, a regime that had invaded two of its neighbors, harbored and rewarded terrorists, filled mass graves with hundreds of thousand of its own people.

These parliamentary elections are taking place under a new constitution, a constitution approved in the October 15th referendum by nearly 80 percent of the Iraqi people.

During the last month's referendum, in comparison to the January 30th elections, four times as many Iraqis applied to be poll workers and approximately 1 million more Iraqis registered and over 1 million more voted, including a large number of Sunnis that had boycotted the last election and who are now forming slates of candidates to run for the new parliament.

Coalition commanders continue to closely monitor the Iraqi political environment and security situation on the ground. Based on those evaluations, they will shortly be making recommendations for future troop rotations.

RUMSFELD: In this complex and unconventional conflict, we are constantly looking for ways to strengthen our armed forces.

For a number of years, the chairman and I and others have been working on plans to further improve the special forces.

One of the results of those studies is that I've just approved the creation of a Marine Corps component in the U.S. Special Operations Command which will increase the number of special operations forces available for missions worldwide, while expanding their capabilities in some key areas.

The department will provide additional details as they're available.

I should point out that the Marine Corps was the one element of our four services that had not been previously involved with special operations.

It's important that we continue to assess and adapt because of the nature of the enemy that we face. It's an enemy that believes that we, the free and civilized world, don't have the stamina or the will to sustain a difficult effort over the necessary period of time.

That is what Osama bin Laden has said. That's what Zawahiri and Zarqawi have said.

They know that the center of gravity of this war is not in Baghdad, but in Washington and London, in the homes and the cities, and the hearing rooms and the newsrooms of coalition countries.

Their ultimate objective is a radical new caliphate that seeks to dominate the Middle East and to intimidate the free world, as totalitarians have tried over past decades.

I've watched the spread of communism and the fall of communism, the spread of fascism and the fall of fascism.

At times, each toxic ideology was considered the wave of the future and was predicted to triumph over our way of life by people who should have known better.

RUMSFELD: I'm confident that once again, when we do persevere, as we shall, what the American people will remember years from now will be our contribution to a new way of life for millions of people, who through struggle and loss and sacrifice became allies that made possible the victory for freedom in this global war on terror.

General Pace?


I think with all that's going on, we can all take great pride in the fact our nation has both the capacity and the compassion to assist the Pakistan government in their disaster relief efforts.

Right now we have over 800 U.S. armed forces on the ground, side by side with their Pakistani counterparts; over 24 medium- and heavy- lift helicopters, with nine more on the way; fixed wing airplanes are dropping relief supplies; almost 4,000 tons of relief supplies have been delivered; hospitals providing medical care; engineers and CVs who are helping to clear roads and make it possible for the government of Pakistan to provide the help that those citizens need. So we are proud to be part of that.

With that, we'll take your questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, why do you think Guantanamo detainees have engaged in a hunger strike since early August? And will the United States allow U.N. investigators who have been invited to visit Guantanamo to meet with detainees?

RUMSFELD: Well, I suppose that what they're trying to do is to capture press attention, obviously, and they've succeeded.

The negotiations and discussions that have taken place with the U.N. folks have been to offer them an opportunity to go to Guantanamo and see for themselves. We have, however, not indicated to them, as I understand it, that they would have exactly the same opportunities that the International Committee of the Red Cross has. There's got to be a limit to how one does that.

RUMSFELD: And the ICRC has been doing it for a great many years and has had complete and total access ever since Guantanamo was opened.

And so we're not inclined to add the number of people that would be given that extensive access.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, when you were in Beijing and South Korea, did you get any concrete indications that North Korea's now willing to back down on its tough position to continue building nuclear weapons?


QUESTION: General Pace, the military has now seen October being one of the most deadly months in the war in Iraq.

What's your overall assessment as to what's going on with the insurgency right now, with respect especially to IEDs? Why are IED attacks up? What are you seeing in the way of these new, more sophisticated IEDs that are now being spoken about, that include explosively formed projectiles?

Why are these new technologies now being seen in Iraq? What's your assessment, overall, of the IED situation?

PACE: Well, I think, first of all, it's understandable that the two months that have had the highest casualties were last January and this October. Both were election months in Iraq. Both saw coalition forces and U.S. forces at increased levels and individuals on the ground.

And, as we projected would happen, the insurgents were trying to divert the Iraqi people, prevent them from participating in a political process.

So it did not surprise us that we had more attacks.

With regard to the IEDs, I do not want to get into the specifics of that because it is very much a tactics, techniques and procedures process, wherein we learn, they learn.

PACE: It is fair to say, though, that the IEDs are a concern for us, and we are continuing to work through all of our technologies, tactics, techniques and procedures to provide to our soldiers and Marines on the ground the best possible personal protection, not only in the form of armor, but also in how we operate on the battlefield.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, along those lines, you would also expect that December would equally be a volatile month because of the election coming up.

Are you planning to either increase troop levels or extend any other troops to bolster the strength of the forces there for the election and also to combat this IED increased threat?

RUMSFELD: We have had a pattern of increasing the number of coalition forces during periods when there was an expectation that the insurgents and the terrorists would like to try to disrupt the political process. And we've made a conscious decision to try to prevent them from being successful in disrupting the political process. And we have been consistently successful in doing so.

Our folks have done a wonderful job. The Iraqi security forces have done a wonderful job. We've done the same thing in Afghanistan each time there was a major political event.

We'll decide what we're going to do about December as we go along, but it would not be a surprise to me that the commanders would want to have some sort of an overlap there.

QUESTION: General Pace, can you talk about the insurgency overall? Have you seen a change in the make-up in recent months, in recent weeks? What do you thing the foreign fighter, local insurgent and criminal element really is today?

PACE: I think what we have is an insurgency that is more and more aware of the fact that each time the Iraqi people go to vote, each time they state their own free will in the way they have at the ballot box, that the insurgency is more and more in trouble of doing what they want to do, which is dominate those people.

So from the standpoint of the insurgents, they are very concerned -- as they should be -- that the Iraqi people want to have a free lifestyle that they pick for themselves. And therefore, they are using attacks on civilians, primarily -- murder of civilians, as a way to try to get the Iraqi people to back down from their opportunity to live the way they want to live.

So I see the insurgents' acts as an indication that the Iraqi people are, in fact, making progress, moving forward, and their government is as well.

QUESTION: On the make-up of the insurgency, are there more foreign fighters today than there were last month?

PACE: I don't know that that's definable.

I think what is definable is the amount of territory that is being controlled, for example, by the Iraqi armed forces. Today we have one division headquarters, four brigade headquarters and 24 battalions of Iraqis who are, in fact, controlling areas of their own country, providing protection for their own citizens. And that will continue to grow, which will squeeze out the insurgents.

QUESTION: General Pace, back on the IED question a little bit, without getting into tactics and techniques, the Pentagon and the U.S. military has spent a lot of time, effort and money to find ways to detect and defeat the IED threat, yet it still remains the number one threat, if not killer, of American troops in Iraq.

QUESTION: How is it that the insurgency is able to continue to use the IEDs so effectively?

PACE: Well, first of all, there's an enormous amount of ordnance in Iraq still, as evidenced every week by the literally tons of ammunition that we find in locations that we did not know about before. So that resource is available to the insurgents.

Beyond that, I do not want to get into specifics of how they are employing the IEDs, nor how we are defending against them, because that really would put our troops at risk.

QUESTION: General, though, in the last year the U.S. has almost tripled the number of armored vehicles over there. It was like 16,000 last year before the hillbilly armor controversy; now it's nearly over 40,000. Yet they're attacking troops in armored vehicles that we spent, like, $4 billion on.

What do you tell the public -- you got two things going on: more IED deaths, yet the increase in the armor is exponential; doesn't seem to be working.

PACE: Between the increase in armor and the changes in tactics, techniques and procedures that we've employed, the numbers of IED attacks that have been effective has gone down and the numbers of casualties per effective attack has gone down.

That said, there are more overall IED attacks by the insurgents, and we are working on that problem.

QUESTION: Recently, Larry Wilkerson, a former State Department official, described what he said was a cabal between you and Vice President Cheney in forming public policy leading up to the war. And he described what he said was a seriously dysfunctional foreign policy.

I don't think we've heard you speak on that. Can you just respond to that?

RUMSFELD: I haven't read this. I've heard about it. And I don't know the man. I've never met the man. And I don't believe he's ever been in a meeting of the NSC, so it's hard for me to understand exactly what his insights might have been.

RUMSFELD: But, obviously, the president is the one who makes foreign policy, and the secretary of state is the one that implements foreign policy. And it's the country's policy.

I don't know what else one could say.

QUESTION: He seems to be complaining the State Department's role in that was minimized in the lead-up to the war.

RUMSFELD: My experience in those meetings is that the president is the principal person who decides these things. And if he -- what was his job, this fellow?

QUESTION: He was chief of staff to Powell. RUMSFELD: I don't know what his perspective was or what his expectations were.

QUESTION: Do you think he was speaking for Secretary Powell?

RUMSFELD: Oh, my goodness: Secretary Powell's perfectly capable of speaking for himself. I can't imagine.

QUESTION: You didn't interpret it that way?

RUMSFELD: I didn't.

QUESTION: So there was no cabal?

RUMSFELD: Of course not, my goodness gracious.

The president of the United States makes these decisions, and he did it in open meetings and discussions that went on at great length. And that kind of a perspective, obviously, is looking through the wrong end of a telescope, I think.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, back to Guantanamo, why not allow these U.N. human rights officials access to interviews with the detainees? Wouldn't that put this issue to rest?

RUMSFELD: No. It's very much in some people's interest to have it not be at rest.

And the International Committee of the Red Cross has total, complete, full access there and has since day one. Second, it's not that the Department of Defense's decision. This is a government decision, a matter of policy. As to what extent they want to open that aperture and allow any number of additional organizations that exist in the world to do that -- apparently the United States government's made a decision -- not the Pentagon, but the government's made a decision that they think that having the ICRC do that is the appropriate thing.

And so that's that.

QUESTION: Do you approve of the force-feeding of detainees who are on hunger strike?

RUMSFELD: I'm not a doctor and I'm not the kind of a person who would be in a position to approve or disapprove. It seems to me, looking at it from this distance, is that the responsible people are the combatant commanders.

And the Army is the executive agent for detainees. They have expert medical people who make decisions of that type. And they've made a decision that they think it's appropriate for them to provide nourishment to people who, for whatever reason, at various points in their detention, decide they want to not provide normal nourishment to themselves.

There are a number of things that one can glean from the way it's being done. I don't think there's a serious risk of people -- I shouldn't say that. I am not in a position to know that.

But there are a number of people who go on a diet where they don't eat for a period and then go off of it at some point.

RUMSFELD: And then they rotate and other people do that.

So it's clearly a technique to try to get the attention of you folks, and they're successful.

QUESTION: One difference between the ICRC and the rapporteurs is that the ICRC operates under a confidentiality arrangement, whereas the rapporteurs are going to make their findings public. Is that what the government or the department is concerned about? Is that the reason they're not taking any action...

RUMSFELD: Not at all. The ICRC does it for a very obvious reason. They do it because that's the only way they can be assured that they're going to have access to countries around the world. And there's a very good reason for the ICRC policy. Obviously, the other people seem not to find that reason valid. But I'm not involved in the decision. That is a decision that the government of the United States has got to address, because it's a precedent that applies across the government.

PHILLIPS: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, side by side with General Peter Pace There, talking about a military report on Iraqi roadside bombs. Insurgents continually searching for new and more effective ways to use IEDs, improvised explosive devices, going on to say, while U.S. forces look for new ways to counter that threat. Obviously still dealing with it on a daily basis.

Two soldiers that know about dealing with those on a daily basis, course, are these two men, members of the Kentucky National Guard, 617th Military Police Company. They are home. It is great to see them smiling. We're going to talk to them about their mission overseas, and their stories of survival and Silver Stars.

We'll be right back.


PHILLIPS: It was a pretty emotional day yesterday. These pictures coming to us from our affiliate out of Louisville. It was the homecoming for the Kentucky National Guard 617th Military Police Company. These men and women finally coming home after a year in the war zone. Also an infamous battle we're going to talk about. And you know, three of their ranks received Silver Stars. Two, unfortunately, did not come home, and that lead us into the discussion we were talking about. Donald Rumsfeld at the mic there at the Pentagon, about this new report about roadside bombs and the threat of IEDs.

Two members of the 617th Company with us. Commander Captain Todd Lindner and Specialist Jason Mike, one of the Silver Star recipients. Guys, thanks for staying with us through that briefing. Sure appreciate it.


PHILLIPS: And I want to talk more about what you did in Iraq. And of course I want to get to Jason's amazing story regarding the Silver Star. And, Todd, I'm going to let you brag about him in a minute.


PHILLIPS: But on the note of Iraqi roadside bombs and these IEDs, Todd, you've got to command these men and women and tell them how to look out for them. Jason, you've got -- you're the medic, you've got to respond to this. It was tough, wasn't it, Todd?

LINDNER: It was tough. It wasn't -- you talk about that I was responsible for training them. And, yes, we were responsible to get trained up prior to going out or even deploying over there. We did a really good job of that, training. Prior to, they provided us with a lot of supporting documentation on what to look for, what to expect, how to react and that type of stuff.

The biggest thing we wanted to focus on, though, was how to prevent casualties in the event of the IED strike, which we knew was inevitable anyway. And I think that's where we had the biggest payoff, was being prepared and actually preventing casualties after the IED struck.

PHILLIPS: And Jason, was that one your biggest fears as a medic -- oh boy, I don't have to deal with an IED hurting one of my men or women today.

SPC. JASON MIKE, SILVER STAR RECIPIENT: Right. That's always a fear. You don't anybody that you've gone over with and you've served with and you've fought with to get injured. So pretty much if something happened, you're just hoping and praying that I didn't have to work.

PHILLIPS: And just for -- for just a second, I'd like to honor two of your men that were killed in action while you guys were over there. William Allan Allars III (ph), you lost him to an IED. And also Michael Ray Hayes (ph), lost him to an RBG attack. It wasn't coming home without those two. Todd, you want to take a minute just to talk about these two men?

LINDNER: Oh, you know, it never fails;. And there is no rhyme or reason to it, but it always seems like you always lose the best ones. You never understand why it works out that way. But without a doubt, they were two top 10 percent of my soldiers in my company. And they were a terrible loss and it just -- it was a tragedy.

PHILLIPS: Jason, I didn't get a chance to ask you this, but did you by chance have an opportunity to work on either one of those fellow soldiers?

MIKE: No, I wasn't. They were from another platoon. I'm actually assigned to 4th platoon and they were in 3rd platoon, so I didn't get a chance to work on them at all. PHILLIPS: Well, I know you did work on a number of fellow soldiers, though. And Todd, this is where I want to get you just to brag about Jason, because I know how humble he is. And I'm probably not going to be able to get him to say the things that you're going to say. But Specialist Jason Mike did receive the Silver Star. Tell us why he received it.

LINDNER: He was part of the squad that was out on the eastern route, which was the route (INAUDIBLE) March 20th, that was shadowing a convoy that came under attack from an ambush from about 40 to 50 insurgents. And they were able to react the way they were supposed to and disciplined enough to flank the enemy, provide just an awesome amount of firepower.

Mike's vehicle was the last vehicle in that three-vehicle patrol, and when they made the turn, they stopped almost perpendicular to the front canal where the majority of the insurgents had set up and were firing on the convoy. His team leader and his driver dismounted the vehicle and got on the opposite side of the vehicle, which was Mike's side of the vehicle. Unfortunately, what they weren't aware of were that there were a few insurgents on their left side, or behind them now at this point. And they started taking fire from that side.

And the gunner -- I'm sorry, the driver and the team leader were wounded. Mike got out of the vehicle and immediately dragged those two soldiers underneath the vehicle so that they would not receive any additional wounds. He took the drivers -- or I'm sorry, the gunner's saw, which was a N249 machine gun, laid it across the back of the humvee, and then took the driver's M-4 rifle and -- in his left hand.

So he had the saw in his right hand with it laying across the humvee and he had the M-4 in his left hand like this, and he would shoot the saw as it laid across the back of the humvee into the field where the insurgents were. And then fire this M-4 from his left side back towards his rear, where the enemy had actually -- well, we didn't know -- had already set up a flanking position behind him, and provide that fire.

PHILLIPS: So let me get this right. So Jason, you were working on these injured comrades and you saw that the enemy was coming towards you. So you grab their gun, guns that I understand you weren't all too familiar with. You had just been trained on the AT-4, is that right, and you thought, I got to do something?

MIKE: Yes, ma'am. It was just instinct. You see some of the guys that you've trained with and you've been with, become friends with, are down, and your instinct is to do what you can to protect them. I mean, as a job as a medic, you have to protect wounded soldiers. I mean, that's the only way you can preserve and conserve the fighting strength.

PHILLIPS: Well, Jason, too, in addition to being a medic and dealing with the insurgency, as we see by this picture here, you caught one of the insurgents, you had to take on a policing role. You had to help with regard to the Iraqi highway patrol. Tell me about other parts of the mission that were so rewarding while you were there.

MIKE: For the most part, assisting with Iraqi civilians, that was so great, winning hearts and minds and actually it helped out. By helping them out -- you know, they told you if there were any signs of suspicion in the area, as far as insurgents. Even working with the children. The children see a lot of what's going on in the street. If you, you know, are nice to them and you talk to them, try to get the time to know them and know that they're real people, you know, they're everyday people, just as we are there, they'll do their best to help you out and let you know if there's danger in the area.

And it was real rewarding to make friends on route with Iraqis. So you know, you build a rapport with them, you talk to them, they know your name. And it became, you know, a good friendship, you know, that you've known these people and you talked to them.

PHILLIPS: And Todd, you also helped with the voting. You were for both elections. And I remember reporting the story about detainees voting.


PHILLIPS: You guys were the ones involved with that, right?

LINDNER: We were involved with transporting the ballots and the material so that they could vote. And I think that had a huge impact on the referendum itself, allowing those detainees to vote.

PHILLIPS: Well -- and now that you've come home and you're seeing the news and you're sort of seeing how things are portrayed, I want to get both of you to respond to this. Are we getting it right, Todd?

LINDNER: You know, honestly, I haven't watched the news since I've been home. I've only been home for about 12 hours.

PHILLIPS: I don't blame you. I'd rather hang out with the family, too.

LINDNER: But we did watch the news when were back in Baghdad and we had AFN and we were able to watch CNN. But I don't know they always had it right and I don't know that it's anybody's fault. But for us, we understood our purpose for being there. And we just wanted to make a difference and have an impact and we definitely did that.

But it is kind of disheartening sometimes to see everything focused on just the death and destruction and the IED strikes and not focused on the -- how well the U.S. and coalition forces are doing building up the Iraqi police services and the Iraqi army. It really is a tremendous effort being put into that infrastructure and building a self-sufficient government over there, and they're absolutely making progress.

PHILLIPS: Well, I know that both your families were so thrilled to see you come home. Jason, I know your fiance was so excited to see you. I know your mom was also there to greet you. We're actually looking at a picture of Todd and his wife. And, Todd, also, you had a brand-new baby girl that was born while you were gone, right?

LINDNER: Yes, ma'am. My daughter was born in April. I was actually home on leave during that period while she was born, but I hadn't seen her since the first week in May.

PHILLIPS: And then as we come up on this next picture, Jason, with you and your mom, what's the first thing your mom said to you as you ran across that lawn yesterday? I bet she couldn't wait to hug you.

MIKE: Oh, yes, she was just thanking God that I was home safely. All that our company had been through and how much media we had gotten because of our actions over there, she was just thanking God that I was finally home.

PHILLIPS: And then your fiance -- you're set to get married, is it next summer -- is that right?

MIKE: Yes, next June.

PHILLIPS: Well, congratulations.

MIKE: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Specialist Jason Mike and Captain Todd Lindner, we're so glad you guys are home. The Kentucky National Guard, 617th military police company. Boy, a lot of stories to tell. Hopefully you guys will get a good night's sleep and spend a lot of quality time with your families.

MIKE: Thank you.

LINDNER: Thank you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Appreciate the time so much.

LINDNER: Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: We're going to take a quick break. More LIVE FROM right after this.


PHILLIPS: Well, call them newlyweds in New York, but Britain's Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, are starting their U.S. tour on a bit of a somber note. First on the agenda today, a trip to ground zero to unveil a memorial to British victim of 9/11. The royal couple will dine at the White House, and then it's on to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans on Friday before leaving for San Francisco.

Well, coming up in the second hour of LIVE FROM, forget conservative or liberal, lots of people are casting a critical eye on the new Supreme Court nominee for reasons other than his view. We're going to examine if something is missing from the high court.

And taking an interest in interest rates -- the Fed's meeting and announcing its latest move. In just a few minutes, we're going to have that decision and its impact on your wallet.