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American Morning

Deadly Bombings in Iraq; Saudi Threat; Bush Listening Tour

Aired December 13, 2006 - 08:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And we begin with a developing story. Saudi Arabia raising the stakes in the fight for Iraq, threatening to back the bloody insurgency if the U.S. pulls out.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: That prospect poses a new problem for President Bush as he heads to the Pentagon today to discuss America's future in Iraq.

M. O'BRIEN: And an urgent search. Will the weather and a cell phone battery cooperate as searchers try to save three climbers stranded in Oregon on this AMERICAN MORNING?

Good morning, Wednesday, December 13th.

I'm Miles O'Brien.

S. O'BRIEN: I'm Soledad O'Brien.

Thanks for being with us.

Here's what's new this morning in Iraq.

Five deadly car bombs overnight. And again, attacks in Baghdad as Shiite workers wait in line. At least 15 people killed there.

Iraq's prime minister has a plan to put Iraqi troops in charge of security in Baghdad. Major General William Caldwell addressed the issue this morning.

Saudi Arabia might back the insurgency if the U.S. pulls out of Iraq. That's according to a report in today's "New York Times."

And President Bush heads to the Pentagon this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. He's going to be meeting with senior defense officials there.

We've got reports this morning from Baghdad and Washington.

Cal Perry is in Iraq, Elaine Quijano is at the White House, Jamie McIntyre is at the Pentagon.

Let's begin this morning in Baghdad with Cal Perry.

Good morning, Cal.

CAL PERRY, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Well, good morning to you, Soledad. The unrelenting insurgent violence is continuing here across the country. Three significant attacks to tell you about on this day.

The first in eastern Baghdad. A car bomb at a marketplace has killed at least 10 people, some 26 others wounded in northern Iraq near oilfields. In fact, Iraqi army members who are protecting those oil resources itself, hit by two simultaneous truck bombs. Seven Iraqi army members killed there, another 10 wounded.

And then back to Baghdad, about two hours after that attack in Kirkuk, another car bombing has killed at least five people, wounding another 10.

All of this coming at a time when the prime minister is unveiling an offer to the U.S. military to hand over control of central Baghdad -- that is, the urban areas of Baghdad -- to Iraqi security forces, relieving the pressures from the U.S. military on a far greater timetable than we've ever heard before.

Now, Major General William Caldwell addressed the Baghdad press corps today. His main concern and the main concern of everyone here in Iraq, the ability of those Iraqi security forces.


MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, U.S. MILITARY SPOKESMAN: We've always said that as the Iraqi security forces become more capable and able to operate independently, without the assistance and support of coalition forces, then, in fact, that will allow us to reposition, go into an over-watch and eventually withdraw those forces. And so, what the national security adviser, Dr. Rubaie, was talking about, is a plan that they have come up with. Obviously, we all believe that defined solutions for Iraqi problems is going to take Iraqi solutions.


PERRY: Now, it may be considered an Iraqi problem but, of course, the reality of the situation on the ground here is that U.S. forces are out on the streets every day. And for Iraqi civilians, the concern among their population with the Iraqi security forces is, of course, one of trust.

Many people here, Iraqi civilians and even Iraqi politicians, believe that these security forces have been infiltrated by militias, have been infiltrated by insurgents. So, if you're an everyday Iraqi civilian and you come across an Iraqi army checkpoint, the question, of course, do I stop, are those uniforms legitimate? It's a huge concern here -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, because half the time they're not and half the time they are. And who knows?

Cal Perry is our Baghdad bureau chief.

Thank you, Cal. Let's turn now to that report that Saudi Arabia might be willing to provide financial backing to the Sunni insurgency if U.S. troops pull out.

Elaine Quijano is in Washington, D.C., for us this morning.

Good morning, Elaine.


And that report says the warning actually happened when Vice President Dick Cheney actually visited Saudi Arabia very briefly, meeting with King Abdullah back in November. Now, the vice president's office at the time didn't comment on the report of his visit over there. And they're not commenting on the report today.

But the idea that the Saudis might, in fact, back Iraq's Sunnis is not necessarily a new one. In fact, a senior administration official this morning pointing to an opinion piece written in "The Washington Post" about two weeks ago by a Saudi security consultant, essentially saying that if the United States were to pull out of Iraq precipitously, that it would -- that "... one of the first consequences will be massive Saudi intervention to stop Iranian-backed Shiite militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis."

Now, it should be noted that that adviser was actually let go shortly afterwards. But, of course, it's thought that he could not have written that piece without a nod from senior Saudi officials within the government.

Now, obviously, Soledad, this is just one other factor that President Bush is having to take into account as he deliberates over his Iraq policy. Today, of course, he'll be heading to the Pentagon for more consultations. But at a time when President Bush is under intense political pressure here at home to change course in Iraq, this report about the Saudi government illustrating just how complex the issues surrounding Iraq really are -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano at the White House for us.

Thanks, Elaine -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: The president still searching for a new strategy for the war in Iraq. Today he heads to the Pentagon to get some more advice from military brass and from the outgoing and incoming defense secretaries. But there are no easy solutions there either.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre live at the Pentagon with more.

Hello, Jamie.


Well, the big issue on the table here is, should President Bush override the advice of the Iraq Study Group, and even some of his own commanders, and send more troops to Iraq, more U.S. troops to try to secure a victory there? U.S. commanders have consistently said that if they needed more troops or they thought more troops were the answer, they would ask for them. In fact, that was repeated again this morning by Major General Bill Caldwell, saying that U.S. troops were winning ever battle but could not win the peace.

The Iraq Study Group recommended again sending more troops simply because it said the U.S. military isn't big enough to sustain it, and in the short term, it really wouldn't make much difference. That's also something that U.S. commanders say.

But the president is also hearing advice from some experts and retired military people saying the only way to secure a real victory is with a real commitment of a substantial number of troops for some time to stop the violence and try to get the political settlement on course. So that's really the big question.

He'll be getting advice today from General Peter Pace, who conducted his own review and polled his own commanders, advising the president about what options he has ahead of him. But one thing is certain, President Bush is getting a lot of conflicting advice, and he's going to have to sort it out. One reason that he's not making a decision until early next year -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: One of the options, of course, would be to send more troops there. The report out in "The Washington Post" this morning, which goes along with a lot of other things we've heard, that the military, stretched thin, is poised to ask for more troops, more Marines.

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, I sat down for breakfast with the new Marine Corps commandant a couple of weeks ago, and he basically said he was going to have to ask for an increase in the size of the Marine Corps unless there was a significant decrease in the demand on his Marines. We're seeing the same stress in the Army.

The Army is already bigger on a temporary basis. Part of the question here is, do you make that increase permanent?

The new defense secretary, Robert Gates, has said he's open to the idea of a bigger military. And a lot of people in Congress are talking about it, too. So that will also be on the table.

M. O'BRIEN: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

Thank you.

Happening this morning, 14 suspected cases of E. coli in Minnesota now, linked to two Taco John's fast-food restaurants. They happen to use the same produce supplier as another Taco John's restaurant suspected of making 40 people sick in Iowa.

Meanwhile, Taco Bell will reopen more restaurants in the Northeast today. The decision comes despite new tests showing green onions did not trigger E. coli infections in five states. Taco Bell originally claimed it was the green onions, but the source of the contamination remains a mystery.

The Food and Drug Administration holding an important meeting on antidepressants as we speak. Members expected to recommend adding warning labels to the drugs, saying they might increase suicidal behavior in young adults. The drugs already carry warning labels for elevated suicide risks in children and adolescents.

Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling expected to report to prison today for defrauding the company. His request to remain free on bail denied.

And in Australia, firefighters trying to douse brushfires burning in the southern part of the country. Some residents remain evacuated, 18 homes destroyed. The flames have already burned an area of land four times the size of New York City.

S. O'BRIEN: In Oregon this morning, rescue crews plan to map out a new search strategy for those three climbers whoa re missing on Mount Hood. Kelly James, Brian Hall and Jerry Cooke haven't been heard from since Sunday, and bad weather is making the search even more difficult.

Scott Burton of our affiliate KGW has more this morning.


SCOTT BURTON, REPORTER, KGW (voice over): Defeated and depleted, rescuers return to base Tuesday night clearly beaten by Mount Hood's power.

LINDSAY CLUNES, CORVALLIS MOUNTAIN RESCUE: At times if you picked your foot up, it would just blow it away. So if you put your foot down too soon and your foot was gone, you'd fall down.

BURTON: This was supposed to be their big break. Some of the area's best packed out on snow cat in the morning. An Oregon National Guard helicopter finally got airborne by afternoon. But by day's end, the chopper never crossed 7,000 feet, and blistering winds prevented rescuers from climbing much higher.

SHERIFF JOE WAMPLER, HOOD RIVER COUNTY: We had consistent 85- mile-an-hour winds above the 8,000 foot level.

BURTON: As a result, still missing are three veteran climbers: Jerry Cooke of New York, Brian Hall, and Kelly James of Dallas, Texas. Rescue crews believe James is bunkered in a snow cave near the mountain's 11,000-foot summit. He called his family Sunday from his cell phone.

FRANK JAMES, MISSING CLIMBER'S BROTHER: He expressed to them that he was in a snow cave, that -- he didn't say anything about injuries. He said the other two climbers had gone on ahead. We're sort of putting things together, assume that there was, perhaps, some injury and they'd gone to seek help.

BURTON: Rescuers are using James' cell phone as a homing beacon. They pinned his location down to a quarter mile, but they can't reach him. And they don't know where his climbing companions are now.

JAMES: These are three very experienced climbers. My brother has been climbing for 25 years, and so they would know what to do in a difficult situation.

BURTON: But the situation is growing worse by the minute. And reality is setting in. More snow is forecast. Reaching these climbers may be impossible by week's end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it would be very difficult to do. I'm sorry, but it would be very difficult to do.

BURTON: In Mount Hood, Oregon, I'm Scott Burton, for CNN.


M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, we'll talk to an early supporter of the Iraq war. What does he think should be done now?

Plus, some top Pentagon brass reportedly want more troops in Iraq, but can the military deliver while it's in the middle of two wars? "Fact Check" ahead.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Developing stories we're watching for you this morning.

President Bush heading to the Pentagon to discuss Iraq strategy with his military advisers.

And a new threat by Saudi Arabia will likely be a priority. "The New York Times" is reporting that Saudi Arabia might back Sunni insurgents in Iraq if U.S. troops leave.

At 14 minutes past the hour, let's get a quick check of the traveler's forecast for you.

Good morning, Chad.



M. O'BRIEN: Remember those predictions about the Iraq war being a cakewalk? Well, almost four years later, and with 25,000 U.S. troops wounded or killed, Washington is facing a much darker set of predictions.

So what are those people who made the initial predictions of easy success saying now?

Ken Adelman was a member of Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board, an early and vocal proponent of the war. He joins us from Aspen, Colorado, this morning.

Mr. Adelman, good to have you with us.


M. O'BRIEN: I want to share something that you recall, of course, April, 2002 on our "CROSSFIRE" program.

Let's listen.


ADELMAN: I think it will be easier than Afghanistan. It was a cakewalk the first time. I mean, the United States really mopped up Iraq in an amazing 100 hours. We didn't lose one tank during the entire, you know, activity during the Gulf War.


M. O'BRIEN: All right. A cakewalk. I assume you're eating those words now?

ADELMAN: No. The point was, Miles, that it was talking about the overthrow and the defeat of the Saddam Hussein government. And a lot of people said it would be very difficult. I was saying it wasn't. And it proved not to be.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, but how can you separate those two things? You were talking about regime change in Iraq to just, say, getting to Baghdad.

ADELMAN: Yes, that's because...

M. O'BRIEN: That's like making a prediction about the first quarter of a football game that's four quarters long.

ADELMAN: No. What we were asked and what everybody was discussing right then was the overthrow or the defeat of Saddam Hussein. That was the discussion.

People were writing op-eds about it. People were not looking beyond that because the discussion was on that.

So your analogy is just not right, Miles. It's like asking somebody what's going to happen in this game today, not the whole World Series. What's going to happen in this game today, and getting a prediction of what's going to happen in that game today. Now, there's lots of other things you can say.

M. O'BRIEN: But in putting the focus on that first chapter of the war to the exclusion of the chapters we've seen unfold since, didn't that put a varnish on the whole debate which tainted the debate in a way that has terrible consequences today?

ADELMAN: It was shortsighted, if you're asking that, Miles. But I bet you if you look at CNN's coverage of the debate at that time, it was always concentrating on what would happen when you defeated Saddam Hussein and how difficult it would be to defeat Saddam Hussein.

I'll bet you your coverage at the time, the run-up to the war up before March of '03, had virtually no coverage on what would happen after the defeat of Saddam Hussein. And if you did, congratulations to you, because I don't know of any other coverage, I don't know of any other people who were writing that kind of stuff.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, yes. We're talking about coverage, but we're also talking about, in your case, among the people who are pushing for the war. So there's a different level of accountability, isn't there?

ADELMAN: Well, there's an accountability there, and I accept that accountability. And I think that's absolutely right.

I believe, Miles -- and I know I'm in a big minority here -- but I believe that President Bush did the right thing going into Iraq. I believe that's why two-thirds of the House of Representatives and three-fourths of the United States Senate authorized to give him force.

A majority of Democratic senators authorized the president to give the president force. Why was this? Because it was after 9/11, because Saddam Hussein, we thought, clearly, by all accounts, had weapons of mass destruction. Because the president of the United States was not going to take a chance on another 9/11 happening because of, I don't know, just wanting things to be as they normally were.

M. O'BRIEN: When did you...

ADELMAN: After 9/11, people weren't going to take that.

M. O'BRIEN: When did things...

ADELMAN: And that's why it passed the Congress overwhelmingly. That's why the majority of people, 70 percent, said yes.

M. O'BRIEN: When did things...

ADELMAN: So I believe that, yes.

M. O'BRIEN: When did things go wrong in Iraq and what did you say about it then?

ADELMAN: When things went wrong in Iraq was -- the turning point came when we allowed the looting, when the president...

M. O'BRIEN: Did you say anything then?

ADELMAN: ... allowed the looting, the secretary...

M. O'BRIEN: Did you talk...


M. O'BRIEN: Because you were so vocal in advancing the war. What did you say publicly at that time?

ADELMAN: Yes. Publicly, I did not say anything at that time.

M. O'BRIEN: Why not?

ADELMAN: Privately, I was a member of the Defense -- because I was a member of the Defense Policy Board, and I thought that it would happen that if we made corrections in private that they would be taken more seriously, and that would be a more effective way to proceed, Miles.

Now, the fact is, when the secretary of defense said, "Stuff happens, that's what free people do," and allowed the looting, that's where it went wrong. It also went wrong when dismissing the army. It also went wrong dismissing the -- you know, the civil service.

And there was a series of mistakes that were just god awful from the administration. But that's not to say that the initial decision was wrong. And it's not to help us very much on what we do now, to tell you the truth.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, let's talk about what you want to do now.


M. O'BRIEN: You talked about the importance of Baghdad and securing Baghdad, but that's -- that's a big job. Do you suggest putting in significant numbers of troops right now, additional U.S. troops in order to do that? And if so, could that lead to just additional violence, as we've witnessed in Baghdad over recent months as additional troops have come in?

ADELMAN: Very few additional troops have come in there, Miles. The fact is that -- I think there was an addition of 6,000 or 7,000.

What I would do is double the American troops in Baghdad for the next six months, and I would change the commanders in Iraq. Generals Abizaid and Casey are patriotic and wonderful people, but they haven't gotten the job done.

We need a situation where within four months we get the feeling that the momentum in Baghdad is going the way of the coalition and the Iraqi government, and that within six months it's clear that anybody wondering who is going to win this battle, the sectarian groups or the insurgency or the Iraqi government, anybody who looks at it is going to have a feeling that the Iraqi government is going to win that. Now, in order to do that, you need to fundamentally change things. And I don't believe the president going to the Pentagon today is going to hear that kind of advice, because the generals in the Pentagon are going to say, you know, steady as she goes.

But that means, in essence, steady as she sinks, because as the Iraq report, Study Group shows -- the first sentence in the report is "The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating." I want a situation, a last chance, so that anybody looking at the situation six months from now says the situation in Iraq is grave but improving. And if we can't do that, we owe it to our troops, to these wonderful men and women who are out there serving us all, we owe it to our troops to just get out of there because we'll never win.

M. O'BRIEN: Ken Adelman, thanks for your time.

ADELMAN: You're welcome.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Here's a look at some of the stories we're following for you this morning.

Nine years in the making, and tomorrow an official report is expected on that crash that killed Princess Diana. Is it going to put an end to all those conspiracy theories? We'll take a look.

Plus, a showdown between a daredevil, Evel Knievel, and a rapper, Evil Kanyevel. Evel Knievel takes on Kanye West straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Happening this morning, Taco Bell reopening most of its restaurants in the Northeast, even though the source of the E. coli outbreak remains a mystery.

And "The Washington Post" is reporting that the Army and the Marines are looking to increase their ranks by several thousand troops. They're being stretched thin by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. Ah, but it could also get you slammed with a lawsuit, too.

Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business."

Good morning.

VELSHI: Good morning.

I don't know -- I loved Evel Knievel. I loved watching Evel Knievel in the '70s and '80s, but...

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, I did, too.

M. O'BRIEN: Great stuff.

VELSHI: It's kind of been out of the scene for a little while. I'm waiting for a comeback movie or something.

So you'd think he might like the fact that Kanye West, Grammy award-winning Kanye West, somebody who's been noted to be, you know, quite a remarkable artist, dresses up like Evel Knievel in a video that he's done. Take a listen to this.

"Touch the Sky" is the name of the video. He's wearing the red, white and blue that Evel Knievel is so well known for.

M. O'BRIEN: I'll never forget that canyon jump, by the way, that he did with the rocket thing. That was unbelievable.

VELSHI: Oh, totally.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Anyway...

VELSHI: So now you'd think if you're Evel Knievel, you're not -- you know, not a lot is going on with you these days. So Kanye West is sort of re-igniting things for you.

S. O'BRIEN: OK. Hype. The money, he would like to have a chunk of the money.

VELSHI: I think that may be what it is.

S. O'BRIEN: He's wearing the suit and pretending to be Evel Knievel.

VELSHI: That may be what it is. He's also...

S. O'BRIEN: I'm not the business guy?

M. O'BRIEN: Evel Kanyevel.

VELSHI: Evel Kanyevel, which is how, you know, Kanye has referred to himself.

Evel Knievel also says that some of the stuff, the language used in the video, is vulgar and could damage his reputation. So we'll see where that one goes.

M. O'BRIEN: Evel...

S. O'BRIEN: But money will make it all OK, I'm guessing.

VELSHI: It's all going to be fine.

Now, for those of you who don't remember Evel Knievel, you probably know what a Blackberry looks like. Blackberry, Research in Motion, the company that makes it, is suing Samsung because Samsung has come out with a little device that looks a whole lot like Blackberry's Pearl. I think we've got some pictures of it.

And -- OK, so the Pearl is on the right. The Samsung device is on the left.

What's more interesting about this is that the one on the left is called a BlackJack.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh. VELSHI: So Blackberry says, that's, you know, kind of interesting. Samsung sells this unit, a similar unit, one that looks very similar in Europe. They don't call it a BlackJack there because Blackberrys are not a big deal in Europe, or they're newer. They call it the I-600.

M. O'BRIEN: Case closed, counselor.

VELSHI: Curious as to why it's not called the I-600.

M. O'BRIEN: It's not going to last long.


S. O'BRIEN: Again, I'm thinking money's going to solve all the problems here.

VELSHI: We shall follow that one, too. But that's -- I think that's exactly what it is.

So Blackberry -- by the way, Cingular sells both of them. So if you want to see that up close, you can go and see it yourself.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

VELSHI: That's what I got.

M. O'BRIEN: Appreciate it.

VELSHI: Have a good one.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, the conspiracy theory surrounding the death of Princess Diana. We'll look at whether a new police report finally ends the debate.

And does more expensive mean better when it comes to wrinkle cream?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Really?


M. O'BRIEN: No. They don't do anything, do they?

S. O'BRIEN: No, but they cost a lot.

M. O'BRIEN: They do cost a lot. We do know that.

More on that ahead.


M. O'BRIEN: Strategy session -- President Bush heading to the Pentagon today to talk about America's future in Iraq. Could it lead to more U.S. troops on the front lines?

S. O'BRIEN: Tragedy revisited. A new report on the death of Princess Diana is coming out and it tackles the conspiracy theories, as well as the U.S. mission to eavesdrop on the princess.

M. O'BRIEN: Over the line, from Nicole Richie to Mel Gibson. A look at all the recent celebrity slip-ups and the ensuing public relations nightmares.

S. O'BRIEN: And only on CNN, Larry King asks the burning question, will it be wedding bells ringing for Angelina Jolie this holiday season. We'll tell you what she says.

Morning, welcome back everybody. It's Wednesday, December 13th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you're with us. Happening this morning, President Bush continues his listening tour on Iraq strategy today, meeting with military advisers at the Pentagon. The president is using the meetings to develop a new way forward in Iraq and he'll announce it sometime first part of the year.

At least 22 people killed across Iraq after five more car bombings, as you slept. These are the newest pictures from Baghdad where several of the explosions killed unemployed day laborers looking for work. Day laborers were also targeted yesterday in a separate suicide bombing that killed 71.

And the president facing yet another problem as he heads to the Pentagon to come up with a new war plan. Saudi Arabia threatening to support the Sunni insurgency if the U.S. pulls its troops out of Iraq. This from the "New York Times." The Saudis are Sunni mostly. They are concerned about a possible bloodbath if Iraq's majority Shiites are given free reign there.

And growing dissatisfaction with the Iraq war does not appear to be hurting military recruiting. The Navy and Air Force met their recruiting goals last month. While the Army and Marines exceeded theirs. The Army did the best making its goal by 105 percent last month.

So, with all these new recruits, is that still enough if the president decides to send more troops to Iraq? AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken in Washington. He's been crunching some numbers. Good morning Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you look very, very deeply into the budget documents, and Miles, I know you do, you see that the latest stories that the military is going to be asking for more forces, more members of the Armed Forces, nothing new.

There's always that request because of the growing needs. A lot of people talking about a concern that the United States military is now, quote, overextended. Just about everybody agrees in the military that it could meet any new demands. Nevertheless, it's interesting to look at the numbers. There's well over 2 million members of the Armed Forces that are both active and reserve. But the ones that are on the ground now in Iraq include 135,000. Add 22,000 more in Afghanistan. That combined total includes about 20,000, as you can see, reserve and National Guard.

Now, if more troops are needed and the new ones have not been recruited or added yet, where would they come from? Well, there are troops right now, active duty ground troops are the ones we're talking about -- Army and Marine -- around the world. As you can see, in Europe there are about 55,000 on the ground. In Asia -- 39,000. That would be largely in Korea. In the United States and U.S. territories as you can see -- 400,000.

But it is not just a matter of moving quickly troops around as they are needed. That is a very slow process. There are deployments, there are all kinds of concerns. There are some people who are suggesting that maybe they have to lengthen the tours of duty. But already they're having severe morale problems. So, there are an awful lot of very, very tough issues. Something very interesting to point out is when the Pentagon commission to study recently from a Washington think tank, one of the chapters about this was called the thin green line -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: The thin green line. And if there is some other skirmish or war to fight, what happens then?

FRANKEN: Well, first of all, the Pentagon insists that it has the manpower and womanpower right now to be able to handle that. But obviously, it would be a further strain, not only on human resources, but on the equipment that is already suffering a lot. And the one thing we should point out is that that unthinkable word is part of the political debate right now, and that is the word draft.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow, OK. Bob Franken in Washington -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: More than nine years after Princess Diana's death, British authorities are finally releasing their long-awaited official report on the 1997 Paris car crash that killed her.

Media reports in Britain say the U.S. government was spying on Diana in the last hours of her life. It's a claim that the National Security Agency denies.

Joining us this morning from London is journalist and royal watcher, Robert Jobson. Nice to see you Robert. Long time, no see. Let's talk more about this report. You mentioned a number of things that could potentially could come out of the report. What do you think is the biggest bombshell that we're going to hear from this report.

ROBERT JOBSON, JOURNALIST: I'm afraid I don't think there's going to be any bombshells. I think the main thing that will come out of this report is a repeat of what was said in the French inquiry -- that this is a car crash which is an accident caused by a drunk driver driving too fast. That may satisfy some people, but it won't satisfy all the people concerned. I think there will be advances in technology and forensic techniques that assisted this inquiry, the British inquiry, which weren't available to the French.

And I'm sure Lord Stevens, the former MET police chief in London will focus on those. I don't think we're going to have any bombshells. They're certainly not going to say this is a murder/conspiracy. I'm sure they'll say it's an accident.

S. O'BRIEN: And yet, there are so many questions that still remain even after so many years and so much of an investigation. For example, as you've reported, British officials didn't interview 18 witnesses who were interviewed by the French police. I mean that seems like an obvious oversight. Why not?

JOBSON: It's a good question, something I'm sure Lord Stevens will be asked tomorrow by journalists, myself included. But the fact is these people were interviewed by the French days after the inquiry conducted into the crash, and I understand from documents that I've seen that they haven't been re-interviewed and they've given signed witness statements to that effect.

Even though they were contacted by Scotland Yard detectives who said they may be contacted. Again, it may must be, and it's possible, that they're not reliable witnesses. It may just be that the police are happy to rely on those statements. However, after an 8 million pounds investigation that's been funded by the British taxpayer, I would have thought it was appropriate to start at the very beginnings, to interview eyewitnesses and to re-interview everybody that's been interviewed by the French inquiry to ensure nothing has been missed.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, you sort of would imagine that they'd sort of spend the money and the time -- and since they are doing it anyway -- to dot the I's and cross the T's for the final time.

Let me ask you about all the myths that have come out of this. For example, Henri Paul distracted by a blinding light and that's what caused the accident. The white Fiat -- we've heard about that a lot. Mohamed al Fayed asserted that the blood samples were switched in fact. Diana was pregnant at the time of the car crash, all these things. Will this report bring an end to any of these -- I guess you could classify them under conspiracy theories.

JOBSON: Well if they don't address those issues, if Lord Stevens ignores those issues -- the pregnancy, the blood switching, the Fiat (INAUDIBLE), the blinding flash of light, if he does ignore them, the conspiracy theorists will continue in this vein.

The fact is I believe, so I've been led to believe by sources that the blood samples will be looked at again by Lord Stevens and he will say that Mohamed al-Fayed has some justification to say that there has been a bungling -- that this has not been very well handled.

The white Fiat, I'm led to believe that will also be called into question because despite over 3 and a half thousand cars being traced, this white Fiat has never been traced. It may be that Lord Stevens has found it. We'll have to wait and see till Thursday.

But the truth is that Mohamed al-Fayed obviously lost his son in this terrible accident, his car crash and he wanted to get to the bottom of it. I don't think anybody in this world would not want their father to find out about that.

The truth is, over nine years later, there has been no inquest. If anybody else, a British citizen, or anybody else died abroad, I think it would take place straight away. So I think, the very fact that he was in the car with Diana, Princess of Wales, has made that difficult.

The bottom line is, I think that we do want to draw a line under this, but we want all the questions that you've raised addressed. I think the blinding flash of light, that's been dealt with. That actually seems to have been a bit of a fantastical story by (INAUDIBLE). But we'll have to wait and see. I think it's going to be an extensive report that's taken three years. And I'm sure a police officer of Lord Stevens' standing will have done an effective and a proper job on that.

S. O'BRIEN: Robert Jobson. Thanks for talking with us. We'll wait and see what that report has to say -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Space shuttle Discovery has another busy day today. They're sleeping right now -- they'll be up in about an hour in a half. Let me tell you what happened yesterday. They had a successful spacewalk. Take a look at some of the pictures that were fed down during that six and a half hour spacewalk. This is a $15,000 cordless drill right there, the PGT, they call it, pistol grip tool.

When they tell you you have to turn it 54 times, it has a little dial there, you just dial in 54 turns please. Obviously this is rocket science.

Next picture, the two spacewalkers, Robert Beamer Herbine (ph) and Christa Hugelson (ph), the first Swede to fly in space, spending a lot of time outside this truss structure on the International Space Station. There you see, it's kind of like a giant Erector set. Adding a two-ton piece to that truss is kind of the spine of the station. It will be a spacer between some of those big solar arrays. Today they'll going to unfurl one of those solar rays so they have some more clearance for work when they do some additional work later in the subsequent space walks, when they do a lot of rewiring.

Let's go the next one. Let me tell you about the hazards of working in space. Now this is Fugelsang (ph). That's his PGT, pistol grip tool, and he's trying to put an extension on there. OK, that's fairly straightforward. If you've ever worked on a car you've used extensions like that on your ratchet wrench set. So there he goes. He takes the tether off. Watch him take the tether off. Now he's getting ready to use the tool. And, boom! I don't know if you see it right there, it goes off into the void. Yet another small satellite creating by astronauts trying to keep track of those pieces of tools. It's difficult stuff when you're trying to do this kind of work in space. Take a look at this image. Maybe we can put it through the telestrator so I can help you out there. There it is. Right down here I want to show you. See that? It looks like orange, little orange pieces. That's pieces of cellophane that were trapped between a door and the bell of the Space Shuttle Discovery. NASA not worried about that. That's just going to be away. It's part of the prelaunch setup there. They use that to stop gases from purging where they don't want it. They're not worried about it. It's going to burn away just fine. And up here, you see those white dings? Those things were of some initial concern. Those are heat-resistant tiles, and those are chips in those tiles. NASA tells us they are superficial chips. They're not worried. Discovery is now cleared for landing -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Miles thanks. Ahead this morning, how much money should you pay for a wrinkle cream that really works? Believe it or not, expensive may not mean better.

And a how-to guide for Nicole Ritchie and other stars who are trying to rebound from PR nightmares. A Hollywood publicists has the keys to redemption, straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.




S. O'BRIEN: Miles, I have a question for you. How much money -- what is the most amount of money that you would spend on a jar of wrinkle cream?

M. O'BRIEN: Zero.

S. O'BRIEN: Really?

M. O'BRIEN: Zero.

S. O'BRIEN: You know, you could buy a jar this big for hundreds of dollars.

M. O'BRIEN: Wait a minute -- are you trying to tell me something?

S. O'BRIEN: We should talk after the show.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm just going straight to lipo.

S. O'BRIEN: I've got a guy for you. I can hook you up. "Consumer Reports" has found a big problem with anti-aging creams.

M. O'BRIEN: I bet.

S. O'BRIEN: That's their focus. The magazine tested several. And here's what they found out -- what you pay doesn't really matter. The top performer was drugstore brand Ola Regenerist, $57. But it's got three parts to it. M. O'BRIEN: That's Rula Lenska (ph), right, Rula Lenska, Oil of Olay?

S. O'BRIEN: I don't know, is it?

Oh, I don't know. That's a long time ago.

S. O'BRIEN: And then, of course, you have La Prairie Cellular. That's one of the most expensive ones. It costs $335 an ounce.

M. O'BRIEN: you must be kidding.

S. O'BRIEN: It was among the least expensive. I did buy once a jar of La Muire (ph), which is like $500, because I thought it was -- it didn't do anything.

Well, anyway, there was another big letdown, even the results of the top creams across the board, people couldn't tell.

M. O'BRIEN: But do they work at all?

S. O'BRIEN: Well, I mean, they're like face cream. Yes, they work fine for being a face cream, but do they, you know...

M. O'BRIEN: Do they take years off?

S. O'BRIEN: Apparently no, they do not. They just take money out of your wallet.

M. O'BRIEN: That was a big admission, 500 bucks.

S. O'BRIEN: I fell for the marketing, and it smelled so good and it and it feels so good.

M. O'BRIEN: It better. All right, CNN NEWSROOM is just minutes away.

Heidi Collins at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead.

Would you ever spend 500 bucks for a jar of cream?

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Never in a million years.

Actually I did a story on that, Miles, and they compared all of those drugstore products, and the very expensive ones, like Lemare (ph). I'm going for the Oil of Olay every time.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Rula Lenska, take it away.

COLLINS: That's right, Miles, we do have several stories we're working on this morning. In fact, a Saudi threat is something we'll be talking about. Reports that Vice President Dick Cheney got one on a recent trip there. The king threatening to back Iraq's Sunnis if U.S. troops pullout. We'll be talking about that with a former ambassador. And a serial killer stalking a small English town. Five women killed in the U.K. this month alone. And basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stops by this morning with an updated wardrobe. A serious subject on his agenda, though, prostate cancer. Join Tony Harris and me in the NEWSROOM top of the hour right here on CNN.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Heidi. You look young as ever.

COLLINS: Thank you very much.

M. O'BRIEN: Some of the stories we're following for you, Nicole Richie, Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, Lindsay Lohan. That's a police lineup. That's what that is. Coming up, a look at all the recent celebrity slipups and the public relations nightmares that follow.

And could this be a PR move to keep the press at bay? Angelina Jolie tells us if she's planning a winter wedding with Brad Pitt. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Well, talk about bad PR. Nicole Richie's arrest for driving the wrong way on the freeway, allegedly under the influence. Just the latest in a string of highly publicized messups by celebrities.

CNN's Brooke Anderson reports this morning that redemption and forgiveness may just be around the corner for Ms. Richie and others.


OPERATOR: 911 Emergency, what are you reporting?

CALLER: A car on the wrong side of the freeway.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Celebutante Nicole Richie's car allegedly heading in the wrong direction. According to some, the same could be said of her life.

HOWARD BRAGMAN, FOUNDER, FIFTEENMINUTES.COM: I mean, this girl's got problems, and it needs to end right now.

ANDERSON: "The Simple Life" star told authorities she took Vicodin and smoked pot. The result, a DUI charge and public embarrassment.

(on camera): How bad is it, Howard?

BRAGMAN: It's bad.

ANDERSON (voice over): Publicists like Howard Bragman help celebrities handle PR nightmares, the kind experienced in recent months by Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, Rip Torn, Lindsay Lohan and others.

Gibson followed his DUI arrest and anti-Semitic outburst with a round of apologies.

MICHAEL RICHARDS, ACTOR: Personal work. Deep personal work.

ANDERSON: Michael Richards is trying to rebound from a racist tirade by going on an apology tour of his own.

Danny DeVito followed his tipsy appearance on "The View" with an apology to Barbara Walters. And Lohan, who has been criticized for hard partying, just announced she's been sober for a week.

Bragman says before the 85-pound Richie can repair her public image, she needs to do some personal work.

BRAGMAN: Forget PR at this point. If you don't fix where she's at with her addictions and her physical issues, you're never going to change what the perception of her is.

ANDERSON: These days, celebrities who cross the line often find their behavior has been captured on tape.


ANDERSON: Richards rant was caught on a cell phone camera. Richie's arrest was recorded by surveillance cameras at a television station.

BRAGMAN: I always tell my clients that there's no line between public and private anymore.

ANDERSON: The good news for Richie and other celebs with a PR problem, there's hope for a new beginning.

Gibson's movie "Apocalypto" just opened on top of the box office. Lohan's getting raves for her work in the film "Bobby."

BRADLEY JACOBS, "US WEEKLY": The public will always -- no matter how sort of far you've fallen, the public will give you another chance.

ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.