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North Korea and New Threat; Capitol Hill Page Scandal; Drug Safety
Aired October 10, 2006 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with North Korea now and a new threat. The regime of Kim Jong-il saying it will fire a nuclear missile if the U.S. does not act to end the standoff. The threat comes two days after that literally earth-shaking explosion in North Korea that might very well have been a nuclear bomb test.
So how will the real world respond?
Sohn Jie-ae is in Seoul, South Korea, this morning for us. She's going to give us the latest from there. Aneesh Raman joining us from Tokyo, as well. Kathleen Koch is at the White House.
We begin with Sohn Jie-ae.
SOHN JIE-AE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is almost a cloud of trouble hanging over South Korea's capital, Seoul, today, a day after North Korea says it conducted nuclear tests. There's some tough words against North Korea coming not only from South Korean politicians, but from global leaders. And it doesn't help that -- that a Yonhap report quotes an unidentified Beijing official saying that North Korea could be prepared to launch a nuclear-tipped missile if Washington does not reciprocate.
Although they did not go into specifics, the understanding was that North Korea wanted Washington to come to the negotiating table and to ease financial sanctions on North Korea. If not, North Korea was prepared to up the ante.
Since Washington did not seem to show any signs of backing down on its stance that it would not negotiate directly with North Korea, the sense of uneasiness here in Seoul is great.
Sohn Jie-ae, CNN, Seoul.
M. O'BRIEN: North Korea's neighbors are weighing sanctions this morning, some tough talk from the Japanese in particular.
Let's go live now to Tokyo. CNN's Aneesh Raman is there with more on that -- Aneesh.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, good morning. Condemnation coming from around the world after North Korea's reported test. But the question for Japan is whether that condemnation can turn into concrete action, tough sanctions by the U.N. Security Council.
The U.S. is pushing for a proposal of sanctions, but Japan wants even more. Here's what the Japanese are asking be put into this proposed draft resolution: a ban on North Korean ships and planes from entering other territories; a ban on imports of any North Korean products; and a ban of travel by high level North Korean officials. This is in addition to what the U.S. is pushing for, financial restrictions on anything that would aid North Korea's nuclear weapons program, also an embargo on anything that would aid either of those programs.
Now, the Japanese prime minister returning to Tokyo late last night after a series of talks both in South Korea and China. The latter part of that trip was the most important.
In China, the Japanese prime minister mending fences, building a diplomatic relationship that hasn't existed for quite some time. It's the first visit in five years the Japanese prime minister has made to Beijing, and the hope is that the Japanese can use that leverage to get China on board with tough sanctions.
China, of course, can veto any measure at the U.N. Security Council. China is weary of sanctions that would be too harsh. In essence, destabilizing the regime in North Korea and forcing a humanitarian crisis of refugees into China. But this action by the North Koreans, a test of a nuclear bomb, is enough, the Japanese hope, to get everyone on board for harsh sanctions -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Aneesh, you have an interesting perspective on this, having spent so much time in Iran. What are your thoughts on what the Iranians are thinking as they watch this one unfold?
RAMAN: Well, it's interesting. The Iranians are bucking the trend. We've heard comments from government officials in Tehran condemning the North Korean nuclear tests, but also saying it is a result of U.S. policy worldwide.
The North Koreans have desperately wanted direct engagement by the Bush administration, they haven't gotten it. That must sound familiar, because the Iranians have wanted direct dialogue with the Bush administration as well. They, as well, have not gotten it.
So the Iranians are waiting to see right now, Miles, how quickly and how strongly the world reacts against North Korea, a country explicitly going after nuclear weapons, whereas Iran has said from the start it's pursuing a peaceful civilian nuclear program. So the longer it takes for the world to act against North Korea, the more emboldened Iran will be in standing defiant against a deadline that, remember, came at the end of August and nothing has happened so far -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Aneesh Raman in Tokyo. Thank you -- Soledad.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Bush administration is now doing what it can to move the Security Council closer to sanctions against North Korea.
CNN's Kathleen Koch has the story from the White House for us.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The White House believes it's time to send a strong message to North Korea that it's apparent weapons test was, as President Bush put it, "unacceptable" and a threat to international peace and security. The White House certainly pleased that the United Nations Security Council moved forward quickly and unanimously Monday roundly condemning the apparent test.
U.S. officials insisting that Pyongyang's move presents a significant threat to the world at large and thus deserve a unified response
CHRISTOPHER HILL, ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE: There have always been two main problems with North Korea doing this. First of all, destabilizing the region, encouraging proliferation in the region. Secondly, selling or transferring fissile material to non-state actors.
So we are concerned on both scores, and we really have to do something about this. But you know, we can't do it unilaterally. This is not a U.S. problem. We need to deal with our partners, allies, and that's what we're doing.
KOCH: As to the sanctions that the United States has proposed if North Korea does not return to the six-nation disarmament talks, they include first an international embargo on any goods or materials that could be used in North Korea's missile or nuclear programs; inspection of cargo going in and out of North Korea; prohibiting financial transactions that might be used to support missile activities; also a ban on luxury goods. Senior U.S. officials do say that there does appear to be substantial support for very strong sanctions, but they know it will not be easy to get them through because in the past, nations like China, Russia and South Korea have favored dialogue, though certainly the Sunday test will have changed that equation.
Kathleen Koch, CNN, the White House.
S. O'BRIEN: Saddam Hussein was kicked out of court today. The ejection followed a heated argument with the chief trial judge. Saddam and his six co-defendants have repeatedly clashed with the judge. Hussein is on trial for genocide against the Kurds back in the late 1980s and he faces execution if convicted.
An Iraqi doctor says it now appears that spoiled food, not poison, is to blame for making hundreds of Iraqi police officers sick during Sunday's evening meal. Seven officers died. The doctor says initial reports indicate that either the yogurt or the hamburger that was served to the officers was spoiled -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Now to the Capitol Hill page scandal. The big question now, how will it impact the midterm congressional elections four weeks away from today?
Senior Political analyst Bill Schneider joining us from West Palm Beach. He's been talking to voters, as well as candidates there.
Bill, good morning.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Miles.
Well, is the Mark Foley controversy having an impact on the voters? We have some evidence.
SCHNEIDER (voice over): President Bush's job approval is pretty bad, 39 percent. Congress's job approval is worse, 28 percent. More than 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.
The Mark Foley controversy has taken a toll.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: When you talk about the page issue and what's happened in the Congress, I'm deeply sorry that this has happened.
SCHNEIDER: Three quarters of the public feel Republican leaders in Congress handled the Foley matter inappropriately. Most Republicans feel that way, too.
Most people believe the failure of Republican leaders to investigate the matter was a deliberate cover-up, not because they were unaware of the serious and inappropriate nature of Foley's behavior. And most think Dennis Hastert should resign as speaker of the House. More than a third of Republicans think Hastert should resign.
Is the controversy likely to affect the midterm vote? Among all registered voters, the impact looks small. The Democrats' lead over the Republicans nationwide has gone from 13 to 16 points, a statistically insignificant change. But there's a gap in voter motivation.
Democrats are more enthusiastic than Republicans about voting this year. That could account for the shift among likely voters.
Among those likely to vote, Democrats have an 11-point lead in the vote for Congress last week. The Democrats' lead among likely voters has now nearly doubled to 21 percent.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER: The scandal seems to have hurt all members of Congress. The ethics ratings for both political parties in Congress have gone down since last year. But congressional Republicans are rated as less ethical than Democrats -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Bill Schneider in West Palm Beach.
For more on this or any other political story, log on to our Web site, CNN.com/ticker -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Coming up, North Korea claims it's tested a nuclear device. Is there any proof? We're going to check in with a former weapons inspector just ahead.
Then later, the FDA is coming under fire. Is it doing enough to make sure drugs are safe? We'll take a look just ahead.
Stay with us.
S. O'BRIEN: North Korea says it detonated a nuclear device, but we can't simply take their word for it. The question is, how can U.S. intelligence get to the bottom of Sunday's underground explosion in North Korea, and how much reliable information on North Korea do we really have?
Joining us now is David Kay. He's a former international weapons inspector.
It's nice to see you, David. Thanks for talking with us, as always.
DAVID KAY, FMR. INTERNATIONAL WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Happy to be with you, Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.
As much as many people have said, we will not tolerate a nuclear North Korea. That, in essence, is what we have right now.
Realistically, what do you think is the best way to be dealing with North Korea?
KAY: Well, realistically, I think the problem has changed from North Korea. I think there's very little we can do to change North Korea's behavior right now.
The real question is what the South Koreans and the Japanese, particularly, do. In Japan, you have a new, more hawkish government. In South Korea, you have a government -- they had a Sunshine Policy of engagement that has now failed.
We're on the real cusp of a possible arms race. The Japanese are sitting with 10 tons of separated plutonium. If they wanted to have nuclear weapons and reply for their own security, they could do it in a matter of months.
S. O'BRIEN: So, Japan's called on sanctions, and this is specifically what they want. They want to ban North Korean ships and planes from entering other territories; they want to ban the import of any North Korean products; they want to ban travel by high level North Korean officials. All of this would work to squeeze that economy even more than it's already being squeezed.
Could this push that society to collapsing? And if it did, what would happen to their nukes?
KAY: Well, this is, of course, the Chinese worry, is that you push it to the point of collapse and then you get both an influx of refugees into China and, actually, into South Korea, and in the spasm of collapse the great fear that the North Koreans might actually use their weapons. Not just nuclear, but they have a vast range of missiles armed with chemical weapons, probably biological weapons, and certainly high explosives. So it would be devastation, certainly in Korea, and probably considerable damage in Japan as well.
S. O'BRIEN: Is the greater fear that they're going to use the weapons, or is the greater fear that they're going to sell the weapons?
KAY: Well, I think the greater fear is that they will sell them. Look, for the Koreans, nuclear weapons are a political instrument. They're not a military instrument.
They're -- you know, they seem crazy but they're not really crazy. They use nuclear weapons as a bargaining tool to get attention, to get legitimacy, and ultimately to save their regime in what they view is a very hostile (ph) world.
On the other hand, they sell everything. They sell drugs. They're the largest producer of counterfeit $50 and $100 bills in the world. They sell missiles to Iran and have been for decades.
So it's -- there is a legitimate worry that they will sell either nuclear material or actually nuclear weapons.
S. O'BRIEN: Do we know if the North Koreans actually have a delivery system for that nuclear material as of right now?
KAY: Well, we know they have missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. What we do not know is whether they actually have a weapons design and a warhead capable of mating with those missiles and surviving the dynamics of flight and reentry. That is simply an area in which you -- you can make assumptions but you don't have knowledge.
S. O'BRIEN: No one has actually confirmed that there was a test. Will we be able to confirm that in fact a test took place and also be able to identify the exact size of what was exploded? KAY: I think we will be able to confirm that a test took place. Almost every underground test that has been conducted has vented radionuclides, both gases and particles that are collected that tell you quite a bit. And even the seismic data as it is analyzed -- it will take several days to do it -- well help us determine, A, that it was a nuclear test, and get a very good approximation as to its size.
S. O'BRIEN: You know, you almost can't overstate just how closed this society is. The pictures and the videotape that we have been showing has been, you know, smuggled out of the country. What really do we know? I mean, what's our intelligence like about the nuclear capabilities of North Korea?
KAY: Well, first of all, there have been no international inspectors in North Korea since 2003. If you take the Rob Silverman commission report on WMD, our intelligence in North Korea is considerably worse than it was for Iraq, and that was not very good.
I think if you ask what we know, we know that they withdrew from the treaty, that they had plutonium that was in fuel rods, that they're capable of separating it and have probably separated it. We know they got the weapons design from, of all people, A.Q. Khan of Pakistan yet again, so they have a working design.
What we really don't know is how much plutonium they have separated, how good the design as they have fabricated it has turned out to be. And there is increasing suspicion about that after yesterday's relatively small test.
S. O'BRIEN: It's a little scary that we know more about Iraq than -- years ago than we know right now about North Korea.
David Kay, we are out of time.
He's a former weapons inspector, of course, and he is now with the Potomac Institute.
Nice to see you, as always.
S. O'BRIEN: Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Let's get a check of the weather now. Chad Myers at the weather center with that.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Miles.
MYERS: Back to you.
M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Chad.
Coming up on the program, the government is being asked to make some sweeping changes in its drug approval process.
In the meantime, how safe is the medicine you might be taking this morning?
We'll take a look ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: In this morning's "House Call," is the federal government doing enough to make sure our drugs are safe?
Judy Fortin takes a look.
JUDY FORTIN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Three times a week, John Nahay comes to this dialysis center outside Philadelphia. Without dialysis, he would die. Nahay can't say for sure what caused his kidney failure five years ago, but he blames the cholesterol- lowering medicine Baycol
JOHN NAHAY, SUFFERS FROM KIDNEY FAILURE: It seemed up to me up until I started taking those pills I was still able to function pretty well.
FORTIN: The Food and Drug Administration approved Baycol in 1997, and a warning was added two years later about rabdomialysis (ph), a condition that can cause kidney failure like Nahay's.
Nahay began taking the drug in 2000 but says never heard about any potential risks. He switched to a stronger dose a year later as concerns mounted at the FDA about Baycol's sometimes fatal side- effects.
A month after meeting with the FDA about Baycol's safety, the drug's maker, Bayer, pulled the drug. The date, August 8, 2001, three days after Nahay's kidneys failed.
NAHAY: The last four or five years have been hell, and I -- a lot of times I cry. I do, because I know what I could do before.
FORTIN: The Institute of Medicine has issued a report sharply critical of how well the Food and Drug Administration monitors drug safety, saying the agency takes too long to react to safety concerns and suffers from a "dysfunctional organizational culture". The medical think tank recommended a large boost in funding and staffing at the FDA, an increased role for the agency's drug safety staff, and additional enforcement tools. It also suggests a "new drug" symbol on labels of newly approved prescription medicines.
Recent FDA reforms have improved safety oversight, but more can be done, concedes a top administrator at the agency.
DR. STEVEN GALSON, FDA CENTER FOR DRUG EVALUATION RESEARCH: We've made a lot of improvements over the last few years in how we monitor drugs after approval, how we communicate to the public about the changes that we make to labels. But we know we have a lot of work in front of us.
FORTIN: The Institute of Medicine report comes as an aging America relies more than ever on prescription drugs. And the FDA celebrating its centennial this year.
At the University of Pennsylvania, a leading teaching hospital, the chief of medicine says FDA approval is no guarantee of a drug's safety, so Penn's University Hospitals wait to see if side-effects emerge elsewhere
DR. PATRICK BRENNAN, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, UPSH: We have a responsibility to make -- make judgments. The people that are making the judgments for the FDA are human beings. We have -- we have human beings making the judgments here, too, and sometimes I think our judgments are better.
FORTIN: Nahay's message to the FDA?
NAHAY: I think you messed up. I wish you would have done better.
FORTIN: Nahay has kept his Baycol bottle as a bitter reminder as he lives his remaining years one treatment at a time.
Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.
M. O'BRIEN: In addition to more funding for FDA drug safety programs, medical experts suggest a conditional approval for some drugs that would require more testing -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Business news now. You want a PlayStation 3 this holiday season? You might want to preorder it.
Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business".
ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "FORTUNE": Good morning, Soledad.
I don't know about you, but I can feel the excitement building. November 17th is the...
S. O'BRIEN: Ooh.
SERWER: Ooh. November 17th is the day that Sony is going to roll out those long, long, long overdue and awaited PlayStation 3s, but as Soledad suggests, you can preorder one starting today at the GameStop or EB. They have -- EB game stores, that is.
And what you do here, this is -- this is unbelievable. You have to put down a $100 deposit. And there's still no guarantee you're going to get one. How about that?
There is no guarantee you're going to get one. Sony says they're going to put about two million of these babies out there before Christmas, and you go about $500 or $600 a pop, that's a billion dollars of revenue just like that for these guys.
So you can see that the demand is definitely there. But, you know, I think that's unbelievable, that you put the money down and you don't necessarily get it. I guess...
S. O'BRIEN: It's a little unfair.
SERWER: I guess some, you know...
S. O'BRIEN: You get the money back, right?
SERWER: You get the money back. But it's great for GameStop, because if people don't get the PlayStation 3, they're going to buy something else. So it's kind of a boom for them.
Another story I want to tell you about this morning, Soledad. You know, if you are tired of boring old stamps on the one hand, and you are tired of those silly fundraisers your kids put you through with candy bars and gift wrap, well, now these two things have come together. Problem solved.
Your kids are on stamps.
S. O'BRIEN: Ooh, I like that idea.
SERWER: It's kind of a cool idea. It's a company called ArtStamps.com. You can go there. And this is how it works.
They pick out your kid's art, and it's selected. Then it's put on the stamp. They will make a sheet of 20 stamps for you that you pay $20 for. Now, that's more than the $7.80 for an ordinary one.
S. O'BRIEN: Why a lot more?
SERWER: Why -- it would be a lot more.
S. O'BRIEN: It's an actual buyable stamp?
SERWER: Usable $39 (sic) stamp.
S. O'BRIEN: Thirty-nine cents -- $39 -- that's Freudian.
SERWER: Thirty-nine cents. Yes, that, too.
You can put that right on your first class letter. So, $7.80, that goes to the post office, $3 would go to your school, say, if this is going to be a fundraiser. And then $9.20 goes to this company, so they make a little money on it.
S. O'BRIEN: This is a brilliant idea. I'm going to talk to our school about that, because I just got a big old load of wrapping paper to sell for both kids.
SERWER: Yes. Right. And, you know, after awhile that gets a little tired and you've got a lot of...
S. O'BRIEN: No, I'm enjoying every moment of it, I mean.
SERWER: Yes, it's OK. We're sorry to put it that way. But this would be in addition to the gift wrap, right?
S. O'BRIEN: What else is ahead this morning?
SERWER: Well, we're going to be talking about the new Blackberry. And, you know, this is really intriguing stuff, because the Blackberry has pretty much been for business people up until now, very successful product, obviously. Now a research in motion. The company that makes them is coming out with a retail product that's called the Pearl.
S. O'BRIEN: Ooh.
SERWER: Pretty cool.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes.
S. O'BRIEN: I love my Blackberry.
SERWER: Yes, I know you do.
S. O'BRIEN: Andy, thank you very much.
SERWER: You're welcome.
S. O'BRIEN: A look at our top stories straight ahead this morning, including an ominous warning from North Korea one day after it claims to test a nuclear device.
Congress investigates the Mark Foley scandal. We'll take you live to Capitol Hill and tell you who lawmakers want to talk to now.
Stay with us. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.
S. O'BRIEN: North Korea is claiming to have detonated a nuclear device, but did it really? And just how powerful was the explosion? That's a question that the U.S. intelligence community is trying to answer today.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us live with more.
Hey, Barbara. BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.
Well, the world community still waiting for an answer. Analysts in Vienna, Austria, who work for the organization of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, say that they expect to have some analysis of radiological data, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, so we may know more. The seismic data simply is not giving anyone a clear reading about whether this was a nuclear test or not.
Officials and experts say it's shaping up as three options basically -- the North Koreans did it, they exploded, in fact, a nuclear device; they faked it; or it was some type of dud.
So, what can't U.S. intelligence really figure it out right now? Well, not just because of the seismic data, but U.S. satellites flying overhead struggled apparently to find out exactly which site the North Koreans were actually preparing. There were some indications on the surface of preparations at a number of sites, but these are all really detonations that were prepared to be underground. And that's the problem, the North Koreans, we are told by officials who have looked at this matter, apparently knew when U.S. satellites might be flying overhead. They let them, let the satellites see what they wanted them to see. Some surface preparations, but underground, there was no clue really about how far along the North Koreans might be with those underground preparations.
So this remains a very tough intelligence problem. And still, no real definitive answer about was it or wasn't it a fluke -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: So, then what are the folks at the Pentagon saying about any military options at this point?
STARR: You know, that's the problem that all of this underscores. The North Koreans are very savvy customers. The question would always be, does the U.S. really have a good sense of what targets it might hit. Do we know where those underground facilities are. And because they're underground, the North Koreans can dig deeper than conventional weapons can really hit.
We spoke to a top military official about, OK, you went to war in Iraq for a lot less than this. This now possibly a real nuke. Why not a military option? Why is it different than Iraq? And the answer the senior official gave us well, well, Iraq, that was then; this is now -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. Thank you, Barbara -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: More on the Mark Foley e-mail scandal and more questions about who knew what and when. Andrea Koppel joining us live from Capitol Hill with more -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, good morning.
Well, we're expecting a couple of things to happen today and this week on the investigation front, the first with the House Ethics Committee. We're expecting Foley's former chief of staff to be testifying under oath as soon as this week. And then the Oklahoma newspaper today is reporting that one of those former interns, one of those former pages who allegedly received some of those sexually explicit instant messages from Foley is going to be speaking, Miles, with the FBI today, but that's going to be in Oklahoma city -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. So let's get back to the scene of the midterm elections? We're now four weeks away to the day. What's the talk in the halls there on Capitol Hill?
KOPPEL: Well, actually the talk in the halls is about these polls that have just come out in the last day or so. One in particular from CNN shows -- the question was asked, how do you think that Republican leaders have handled this situation, the Foley matter? And 75 percent, or three out of four, said that it was inappropriately handled. Only 17 percent approved. Then when they were asked how Congress in general was handling its job, obviously looking across the aisles, Democrats and Republicans, 63 percent disapproved. This is in keeping with what we've seen in recent polls. Twenty-eight percent say they approved.
Now, the last question is one that Republicans and Democrats are going to find most interesting, and that has to do with voter turnout. They were asked, how many of you are more energized and feel more enthused about coming out to the polls this election versus previous elections? And what you had is 51 percent of Democrats saying they were more enthusiastic about it; 44 percent of Republicans, Miles, say they are enthusiastic. In other words, less than 50 percent.
M. O'BRIEN: Andrea Koppel on Capitol Hill, thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, here's a weight loss plan we would never recommend to you. Trim those unsightly bulges by enlisting in the military.
Alina Cho with more on that.
Good morning, Alina.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It seems stunning, doesn't it? But it's actually more common than you may think, Miles. We found one woman in Florida who years after she signed up is just now admitting that she joined the military to lose weight.
Looking back, she says it sounds ridiculous. But incredibly she's not alone.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING (voice over): Alisa Fliss is a 32-year-old mother of two, currently healthy and fit. But for most of her life, she battled eating disorders. At age 18 she surprised everyone. Instead of going to college, she joined the military, enlisted in the Air Force.
ALISA FLISS, JOINED MILITARY TO LOSE WEIGHT: It's going to help me lose weight. I'll be forced to lose weight. I'll be forced to get out there and run each day. What more motivation could you ask for?
CHO (on camera): It seems so extreme.
FLISS: It does, but I think I had tried everything else.
CHO (voice over): The rigorous exercise, the routine weigh-ins, she believes all of it would help her stay slim. It wasn't enough. So Alisa when a step further.
ALISA: Just a lot of over exercising, a lot of dieting, restricting what I ate and purging whatever I did eat.
CHO: Alisa is not alone. At least two government studies say women in the military are three times more likely to suffer eating disorders than female civilians.
DR. JILL HRANICKA, RENFEW CLINIC: Any time you have an environment that emphasizes that much focus on weight, appearance and physical fitness, just like elite athletes, you're going to see a higher incidence of eating disorders.
CHO: The military does not disclose how many women are affected. Major Stewart Upton, a U.S. military spokesman says he's aware that some join just to lose weight, and that eating disorders exist in the military. But, he says, the military offers counseling programming for these disorders in every division.
At first Alisa found success in the military. She excelled in the classroom, held leadership positions, and she lost so much weight she was kicked out.
FLISS: My job in the military was a police officer. I don't think that anybody in that frame of mind should be carrying a weapon or guarding nuclear missiles.
CHO: Alisa has recovered now but still thinks about her weight every day and still wonders whether she would have enlisted, had it not been for the lure of losing weight.
FLISS: I think the difference is that the eating disorder, it was a loud voice before. And I never talked back. And now I do every single day.
CHO: A battle she may be fighting for the rest of her life.
CHO: And I think it's clear from watching that piece that when Alisa joined the military she was already suffering from an eating disorder problem. But experts we spoke to tell us that there are many women and men who join and later develop these problems because there's such great pressure to stay within a certain weight range and to stay in shape.
Now, one important point, Miles, is this is not just a female problem, although that is the public perception. It is a problem among many men in the military
M. O'BRIEN: Right. But disproportionate numbers of women are affected by eating disorders.
CHO: That's right.
M. O'BRIEN: I suppose that is reflected in the military as well.
CHO: That's right. Well, overall, 85 to 90 percent of people who suffer from eating disorders are women. There's this public perception it's a female problem, but there are men who are suffering from eating disorders in the military. But there is such shame involved in terms of coming forward, because they think they are, as one expert said, less than a man if they come forward and talk about it. But they stay quiet about it.
M. O'BRIEN: Now, Alisa, to all appearances, looks healthy there. How is she doing?
CHO: She is doing well. You know, it took her eight years after she was discharged from the military to actually seek in-patient help. She relapsed, which is common among people who have eating disorder problems. But she's 45 pounds heavier now, she is eating healthier and she hasn't been on a scale in more than a year. So that is progress.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. We wish her well.
CHO: Yes, we certainly do.
M. O'BRIEN: Kids, don't try that one at home.
CHO: That's right.
M. O'BRIEN: Alina Cho, thank you very much.
Coming up, we're back in black. Comedian Lewis Black will join us live in the studio. The last time he was here, he had a little meltdown about our ticker. What's he going to say about our new set? Stay with us for more AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: Last time we had Lewis Back on the program was July. I can't remember what he was plugging at that time, but when he got on the program, it took him about 30 seconds to really get upset about our ticker. Watch this tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: Take the thing off the bottom of the page! You don't have a dump -- take the words off the bottom of the screen! There are people talking here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: And with that, we did. So, folks, remove the ticker. Is the ticker gone?
BLACK: It better be gone.
M. O'BRIEN: Ticker is gone. Lewis Black...
BLACK: Yes, now that you got this assortment of stuff back here...
M. O'BRIEN: Yes.
BLACK: ... for people to get dizzy watching.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Well...
BLACK: Here's people that can't give enough information away.
M. O'BRIEN: No, there's not enough information.
BLACK: Seriously, I was thinking about it this morning, you know, that you put all that stuff on the -- you know, eventually, why don't you guys just put -- fill the screen up and you'll be like on the radio again?
M. O'BRIEN: That's brilliant.
BLACK: It's unbelievable, isn't it?
M. O'BRIEN: It's brilliant, actually. I like that.
BLACK: You know, stack it up so high that you just have a couple hand puppets.
M. O'BRIEN: We'll be up here in a little corner.
BLACK: It's unbelievable!
M. O'BRIEN: Just a little teeny...
BLACK: It's extraordinary. And Tucker Carlson put that -- you know, he put that on his -- on his...
M. O'BRIEN: Tucker Carlson put it on his show?
BLACK: Yes, but saying, you know...
M. O'BRIEN: The dance show? When he was dancing?
BLACK: Oh, yes. And there was a step forward for humanity. M. O'BRIEN: All right. We probably should talk about your movie.
BLACK: Yes, we better or they'll yell at me.
M. O'BRIEN: You've become a movie star. The premise of this is basically Jon Stewart running for president, essentially.
BLACK: Well, yes, Jon Stewart or Bill Maher or maybe even me.
M. O'BRIEN: Or -- yes, in essence. Let's show a brief clip and then we'll explain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WALKEN, ACTOR: You want to talk about a serious issue, nowadays, people tune out.
BLACK: Wait a second. Do you think anybody remembers the issues? When there's a debate, do you think -- when was the last time any human being, any American, watched a debate and went, oh, God, did you hear what he said?
ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR: I believe he talked about fiscal politics!
BLACK: Oh, my God, my eyes are opened and I can hear again.
WILLIAMS: Yes, you're right. All they remember is Nixon sweating like Elizabeth Taylor after a Mexican meal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: Robin Williams is great in this. He plays the candidate. You saw Christopher Walken there as the manager. And you are the comedic -- the writer, the comedy guy.
BLACK: Yes, I'm the head writer.
M. O'BRIEN: It's a real stretch for you.
BLACK: It was tough.
M. O'BRIEN: I mean, how did you do it?
BLACK: I just -- you know, I basically -- everybody says, you know, what was it like? How tough is it to act when your job is to act with Christopher Walken and Robin Williams? You know, but what do you have to do? You have to listen to them. Boy, that's tough.
M. O'BRIEN: How much was Robin just doing his thing?
BLACK: We had a certain -- we actually had a certain amount of stuff that we improv'ed.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Because a lot of it sounded like you, something you'd say. It wasn't necessarily written for you, right?
BLACK: It was written -- Barry actually wrote it for me.
M. O'BRIEN: He did? So he got your voice.
BLACK: Yes, he did. But when he called me to tell me about the role, I asked him, have all the other actors died?
M. O'BRIEN: This is like, what, your fourth movie this year?
BLACK: This is my fourth movie.
M. O'BRIEN: What's the deal with that?
BLACK: I have a Christmas movie coming out.
M. O'BRIEN: A lot of actors dying or something.
BLACK: Probably. I don't really know. I'm serious. I guess they -- it's that whole thing, they finally figured out, oh, look, this guy does this thing. It's like when you had -- it's Lassie. You know, when they wanted a dog thing and they wanted a collie, they got Lassie. So they want a yelly, yelly, guy, guy, then they come to
M. O'BRIEN: Collies and yellies. All right, I got it.
BLACK: Well, you don't go to Rin Tin Tin if you want Lassie.
M. O'BRIEN: Of course, there were multiple collies.
M. O'BRIEN: There's not multiple Lewis Blacks.
BLACK: No, not yet.
M. O'BRIEN: Good for you.
Let's talk about world events now. Easy to do comedy on the Foley scandal, I bet. Is North Korea funny?
BLACK: North Korea -- well, the thing that I think they're missing is the fact that the -- you know, the North Korea's the place that -- the flying monkeys from "The Wizard of Oz" were created in North Korea. They have a whole stockpile of those monkeys. And you can worry about all the nuclear weapons you want, but if they unleash those monkeys, hell is going to be...
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, it's a bad regime. But, I mean, what else is on your mind these days?
BLACK: Well, I mean, I just watched recently, you know, the -- you watch that movie about the comic running to be -- running for president or Al Franken running for the Senate, which in part I kind of go -- or what's his name, Schwarzenegger. And you -- well, this is farfetched.
M. O'BRIEN: Jesse Ventura.
BLACK: Like Jesse Ventura, yes, you know, showing really that Minnesota doesn't have drink -- they're alcoholics.
M. O'BRIEN: It's the long winter.
BLACK: But the thing is you're watching -- I was watching these two senators, senator in the one running against -- in Missouri, and I'm sitting here going -- and after three minutes I'm going, you have to be -- this is it? These are the two people Missouri came up with? These two? And I'm sitting there going, I can run against them. If I can run against them, then we're in deep, deep trouble.
M. O'BRIEN: And, you know, tee shirts out for Jon Stewart now.
BLACK: No, he ain't going to run. He's too short to run. Once America sees how tall he is. And nobody -- Colbert?
M. O'BRIEN: We're going to write you in. All right, we can put the ticker back on.
BLACK: Go ahead. Get ready -- get ready to read.
M. O'BRIEN: "Man of the Year" opens Friday. Lewis Black is there among a star-studded cast. It's a great movie. Check it out -- Soledad.
BLACK: Thank you.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, thanks, guys.
"CNN NEWSROOM" is just a few minutes away. Heidi Collins is at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead this morning.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Soledad.
We are following funny stories in the "NEWSROOM." A plan to punish North Korea, U.N. diplomats back at the table today. We explore the sanctions under consideration after that reported nuclear test yesterday. And a military option, well, some strategists say it's actually off the table. Never an option. We will talk about why.
And school violence. After a series of shootings, the president looks for ways to stop the killing. We look at his strategy summit. Today, join Tony Harris and me in the "NEWSROOM." We're going to get started at the top of the hour in just a few more minutes -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Heidi. Thank you.
Ahead this morning, if you're already addicted to your BlackBerry, get your thumbs ready. There's a new BlackBerry out. Andy will take a look next, as he minds your business.
M. O'BRIEN: Coming up at the top of the hour, the Army beats its recruiting goal. How did they do it, even with the war grinding on in Iraq and Afghanistan? We'll tell you.
Plus, the weather outlook for winter. What winter? A mild forecast ahead. Stay with us.
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