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American Morning

President's War Plan; Rise in Murders in New Orleans

Aired January 10, 2007 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: More reports President Bush is addressing the nation on Iraq tonight. He is expected to deploy thousands of new U.S. troops and set a date for Iraqi soldiers to take charge.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Paradise lost: An emotional return to Malibu homes destroyed by a wildfire, with a new fire threat facing southern California today.

S. O'BRIEN: Hello, iPhone. It's an iPod, a phone, and it is the toy that everybody is talking about on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Welcome back, everybody. Wednesday, January 10th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you're with us.

Tonight marks another pivotal moment for President Bush and the four-year-old war in Iraq. He make his case from the White House tonight, at 9:00 Eastern. Securing Baghdad will be the centerpiece with an additional 20,000 troops. That will mean more Americans going back to the battlefield.

Live pictures now from fort Stewart, Georgia, where the 3rd Infantry Division is preparing for a record third deployment. We have those live pictures for you in a moment.

We have extensive coverage this morning. Elaine Quijano is at the White House, and Bob Franken at Fort Stewart, and Candy Crowley in Washington. Let's begin with Elaine.

Good morning, Elaine.


A U.S. official tells CNN while most of those additional U.S. forces will be sent to Baghdad, President Bush is ready to dispatch about 4,000 to the rest of Anbar Province. The administration's hope is this time the Iraqis will stand up and take over security responsibilities for their country by November.


QUIJANO (voice over): President Bush plans to send roughly 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq, according to sources familiar with his deliberations. Their role? To quell sectarian violence and give Iraq's fragile government, as well as Iraqi forces, a chance to assert control of Baghdad. The same sources say the U.S. troop increase would come in phases putting much of the responsibility on the shoulders of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to make political and security goals along the way.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Iraqis understand that they have -- that it is important for them to step up and succeed. What you are aiming at is an Iraqi government that's fully capable of handling all the responsibilities from the rule of law to security to economic rules, and so on.

QUIJANO: Those goals include national reconciliation and reversing the policy of isolating Saddam loyalists, and a formula to share oil revenue. Sources familiar with the president's plan tells CNN that Prime Minister Maliki gave Mr. Bush his personal assurance to send more Iraqi troops to Baghdad, pledging they will have new rules of engagement, allowing them to take on the powerful radical Shiite Cleric Muqtada Al Sadr. Sadr's support helped bring Maliki to office, but his militia is blamed for some of the worst sectarian violence.

The president's plan is also said to include an economic package, featuring a jobs program to tackle Iraq's unemployment, as well as sending more State Department officials to Iraq to coordinate reconstruction projects with Iraqi companies.


QUIJANO: And tomorrow one of the president's first moves will be to try to build public support for his new plan. He will travel to Fort Benning, Georgia, where he will make remarks. And, also, starting Friday Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit a number of capitals in the Middle East and in Europe to try to garner support for the plan among U.S. allies -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano at the White House.

For U.S. troops and their families the president's plan means more sacrifice ahead. AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken is live from Fort Stewart, Georgia, where the call to serve in has come again, and again -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NAT'L. CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: And now again, Miles. There's a record here that nobody would want to hold for the number of times the soldiers here at Fort Stewart have been sent to Iraq, and they're about to have thousands more holding that record.


FRANKEN (voice over): This marks the third time many of these soldiers have had to ready their gear for heavy combat. The 3rd Infantry has the distinction of being the only division so far to be deployed to Iraq three times.

LESLIE DALTON, FAMILY READINESS GROUP: They are great use for the kids. The kids can see where daddy is.

FRANKEN: The maps are courtesy of FRG, the Family Readiness Group, for those left behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our third time, so I'm very proud of my husband. Let me say that first and foremost, very proud of him. If he had to do anything in the world, it would be to protect us, and I love him for it. But it's very frustrating, after a while when you have to say good-bye every other year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really sad. We just got married, so it's going to be like a time apart.

FRANKEN: And now there are questions about whether the president's plan for sending more troops to Iraq will be even more time apart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I've got mixed emotions as far as I hope if that's what we do, then I hope that's the problem is solved then.

FRANKEN: In the next couple of weeks about 4,000 from this brigade will be headed to intensely dangerous Ramadi, about 50 miles west of Baghdad. Some of the advanced unit went out last week. Not everyone will return. That's also part of the plan.

CAPT. JACOB DALTON, TROOP COMMANDER: It's not something that we like to dwell on. It's not something we like to think about, but when it comes down to it, in the event it happens, you need to know that there is a process set so that people can be notified appropriately and correctly, so that people get taken care of the way they need to.

FRANKEN: A process their families can only hope will never include them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a new one, and I'm really scared about it.


FRANKEN: So as they embark on their third deployment, the troops and their families here, are joining the nation and hoping that what President Bush creates mean they won't have to have a fourth deployment -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Bob Franken at Fort Stewart.

In just a few moments we're going to take a closer look at the president's new plan for Iraq. Counselor to the President Dan Bartlett will join us live. Stay tuned.


S. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning, today in the House they're going to focus on minimum wage. The proposal is to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. It's been $5.15 for the past 10 years. The raise is one of the top priorities of that 100-Hour agenda that was set by the newly empowered Democrats.

Senator Tim Johnson is on the mend. The South Dakota Democrat is now in fair condition able to breathe without a ventilator; could begin rehab this week. Johnson, you'll remember, suffered a brain hemorrhage on December 13th. Democrats hold a one-vote majority in the Senate, so concern about Johnson's health has a political dimension to it, too.

Investigators in Malibu are now combing through the ashes of some very pricey real estate. They're trying to figure out the cause of that big wildfire. Five seaside mansions burned to the ground on Monday night; $60 million worth of property went up in smoke as Santa Ana winds fanned flames. Actress Suzanne Somers -- you can see her right there in the videotape, she's one of the victims. She says she's going to rebuild -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: And we have more on the story now from Thelma Gutierrez.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN NAT'L. CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING (voice over): As the sun rose over Malibu Beach, some of the priciest real estate in Southern California was still smoldering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this your first look at your home?

GUTIERREZ: A sad sight for homeowners like actress Susan Somers, and husband, producer Elliott Hammel (ph). They were out of town and watched their home burn on television. They came back today to see what was left.

SUSANNE SOMERS, ACTRESS: It was a beautiful house. It was a beautiful place to live.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long have you lived here?

SOMERS: Seven years.

GUTIERREZ: All that remained of their home, a magazine, a chair, and a charred Jaguar. But the actress kept the loss in perspective.

SOMERS: I don't have a son or a daughter in Iraq. There's not a death in the family, and, you know -- it's -- we'll rebuild.

GUTIERREZ: The fire that burned Susan Somers' home, and four others, began Monday evening. This area is home to countless celebrities -- Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and Jane Seymour, all live nearby. The fire burned with a vengeance, fast and furious. No one knows how it started.

Three hundred firefighters, a black hawk helicopter, and 40 engines deployed to Malibu, but they were helpless. Santa Ana winds more than 50 miles per hour pushed the flames toward the beach homes.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Firefighters say the flames created a tunnel over this road burning the palm trees on that side, and then jumping over to this side of the road igniting the pine tree right in front of the homes.

(Voice over): It took just 20 minutes for five homes to be reduced to ashes. The heat from the fire was so intense this Mercedes- Benz melted to the ground.

ASHLEY FARBENBLOOM, RESIDENT: I know that Suzanne and her husband, Allen are devastated. They have their memories in their home just like everybody does.

GUTIERREZ: Somers says Malibu is home and that she will rebuild. Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Malibu, California.


M. O'BRIEN: There's a chill moving into the Northeast, snow in the Rockies. Break out the parkas again. Chad has the forecast just ahead.

Also, apple unveils the much-vaunted, much-touted, much- anticipated iPhone. Yes, they're going to call it the iPhone. We'll tell you about that. You want to get your hand on it, though, you better be ready to shell out some serious cash. Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at live pictures of the White House this morning. The president, with his much-anticipated speech 9 p.m. tonight, as he unveils what is being called, at the White House, "a new way forward for Iraq". CNN of course will have live coverage of the address, a special edition of "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer and Paula Zahn beginning at 7:00 Eastern. And then stay after the speech for special editions of "Larry King Live" and "Anderson Cooper 360."

So, will the public buy into the president's newest plan for Iraq? Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley live from Washington with more.

Candy, good morning.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Miles, as you know, this is not the first or even the second step the president has taken to try to correct the course in Iraq. It has been a very rocky road.


CROWLEY (voice over): It was the spring of 2003, U.S. tanks barreled through the Iraqi desert headed north to Baghdad.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're slowly but surely achieving our objective.

CROWLEY: Less than four years ago 71 percent of Americans approved of the way the president was handling Iraq. Each spring thereafter shows a president in slow free fall. Americans come to believe the war was too slow, the objective far from sure; within 12 months the insurgency began to take hold.

BUSH: We will not waiver in the face of fear and intimidation.

CROWLEY: Every good thing -- elections, new governments, a constitution -- was followed by something horrendous -- roadside bombings, prison abuses.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: So each year the theory of victory, or the theory of ultimate success, that we had was either invalidated or displaced by something else.

CROWLEY: In the spring of '04 the president's approval rating on Iraq was down 20 points, 51 percent. His reservoir of political capital stayed steady for most of that election year, but then began to hemorrhage. He hit 43 percent in the spring of 2005.

BUSH: There are still some in Iraq who aren't happy with democracy.

CROWLEY: President Bush was openly challenged on Capitol Hill by former allies. He launch a series of speeches designed to buck up support, but Americans were not to be bucked up.

KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: I don't recall any time when a speech that President Bush has given changed a lot of the public's mind on Iraq.

CROWLEY: In spring of last year approval on Iraq was 35 percent, and the president talked new tactics.

BUSH: By the way, every war plan, or every plan, is fine until it meets the enemy, but you got to adjust.

CROWLEY: He is today a severely weakened commander in chief.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam.

CROWLEY: And now another speech, a new plan.

O'HANLON: He has one last shot, and that's the way to look at it, I think. It's Hail, Mary time.


CROWLEY: In effect, a commander in chief who was on top of his game just four years ago is now running out of cards -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Candy Crowley in Washington. Thank you very much.

Let's get right to the White House now. Dan Bartlett, counsel to the president, joining us now with a preview of the speech.

Dan, good to have you back on the program this morning.


M. O'BRIEN: I'm well. Thank you.

A lot of Republicans expressing criticism, reservations about the plan, as details have been leaked out. There's lots we can talk about, but this morning Senator John Warner, now ranking member of the Senate Armed Services says this:

"I'm particularly concerned about the greater injection of our troops into the middle of sectarian violence. Whom do you shoot at, the Sunni or the Shia? Our American GIs should not be subjected that kind of risk."

What do you say to that?

BARTLETT: I think Senator Warner raises a very important point. It's one that President Bush has talked to him directly about.

And President Bush will make very clear tonight that the sectarian violence we're seeing in Iraq can only be solved by Iraqis. And the plan put forward tonight is an Iraqi initiative. What it requires, though, is our support. What we've seen time and time again, Miles, in the security operations we've attempted in the past in Baghdad had two real fundamental flaws.

One, there were not enough Iraqi troops and U.S. troops to help hold the neighborhoods we had cleared throughout Baghdad. Secondly, just as importantly, the rules of engagement, where those troops can go, who they could go after were severely restricted by politics in Baghdad. That's going to change as well. Prime Minister Maliki has made that very clear.

M. O'BRIEN: So, to be clear, then, U.S. troops will be able to go after Sadr, and in Sadr City and take care of that militia there, that is linked so closely to the Shia government?

BARTLETT: Prime Minister Maliki made a very important speech this past Saturday, where he made it clear, regardless of sectarian affiliation, if you commit murder, if you operate outside the law of government, you will be held into account. That is a fundamental break from the past.

It's the only condition -- one of the preconditions for this president to decide to send any more troops to that country, because we can't just keep funding or sending troops to, you know, to try to execute a strategy that wasn't working.

The president will chart a new course in Iraq tonight; one that will expect very different results, particularly from the Iraqis. He will make very clear, Miles, that America's commitment is not open- ended. That they have to change the way they're doing business in Iraq. We are here to help because it is in our interest, the United States interests, for success in Iraq. One of the things that has been very -- M. O'BRIEN: Let me -- I want to get to something else here, if I could?


M. O'BRIEN: In addition to the political criticism here, there's a lot of generals, retired and otherwise, expressing reservations. I spoke to the former NATO commander just the other day, General George Joulwan, and here's what he had to say. Listen to this.



GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN, FMR. NATO COMMANDER: If it's going to be clear, block by block, by block, that's going to be high risk in terms of U.S. troops, and I'm not sure 20,000 troops will make a difference.


M. O'BRIEN: OK, 20,000 troops, even Senator John McCain, who is very hawkish on this, would like to see more troops there, and thinks maybe 20,000 may not be an adequate number. Is this, in some senses, a half measure?

BARTLETT: No, absolutely not. I think the concerns they're raising is because in the previous attempts the Iraqis hadn't stepped up with the number of troops they said they would commit. That is going to be a difference this time. They are going to have more boots on the ground. They're going to be the ones doing the knocking on the door.

We're going to be there in a key support role, embedded with certain Iraqi troops as trainers, making sure they have the backup combat power they're going to need to send a signal that we mean business this time. They're going to have the type of people there, other than the local police, who prove not to be competent, to hold the neighborhoods.

Because what has happened time and time again, Miles, as you have covered, is that after we go in and clear a neighborhood, the Iraqis there get more confidence. Then we leave. The insurgents come back. The militias come back. And the problems all over again. We have to break that cycle by having enough people on the ground to secure the population.

That is a fundamental break from the past. It will yield different results, and it gives us the best chance to give the Iraqi government the type of breathing space they're going to need to have the type of political and economic reconciliation, everybody recognizes as the most important aspect of solving the problems there on the ground.

M. O'BRIEN: Last summer Operation Together Forward, 10,000 troops focused in on Baghdad, by all accounts, including General William Caldwell, one of the senior leaders over there, was not a success. As a matter of fact, violence rose pretty steadily after that effort. How would this be different?

BARTLETT: Again, Miles, that's exactly the point, and President Bush is going to talk about those previous operations tonight in his address to the people. There will be two clear differences. We brought troops to Baghdad, but the Iraqis did not bring troops. Secondly, and just as importantly, the rules of engagement, where they could go, where they couldn't go, more importantly, was severely restricting the type of operations that make it effective.

Frankly, what you have happen was you had little safe havens and different enclaves in Baghdad where the troops couldn't go. That's going to change. Trust me, Miles. President Bush would not make this commitment today if he didn't think those preconditions, were set by the Iraqis, that would change the fundamental failures of the past. This is a new course. It's a new strategy. The increase troops is to support that strategy.

M. O'BRIEN: Dan Bartlett is the White House counsel. Thank you for your time.

BARTLETT: Thanks, Miles.


S. O'BRIEN: Still to come, nine murders since the beginning of the year. Not in Baghdad, but a major U.S. city. A fine line, to get it under control without bringing that city to its knees. We'll take a look straight ahead.

And Apple gets the new name and debuts a much-anticipated new product. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business" straight ahead right here on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: New this morning, a moratorium on rail maintenance, after a commuter train kills to men who are working on a track.

And, no, you weren't imaging it, 2006 was the warmest year on record in U.S history. That's according to a new government study -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, after years of talk and hype and anticipation, it is here! Toot-toot-too-doo!

Well, actually it isn't quite here yet. It will be here in a few months. Steve Jobs didn't phone it in yesterday. He wowed a crowd at Mac World as he unveiled the iPhone, and they'll call it the iPhone. CNN's Jacki Schechner is here to tell us about that.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we talked about that yesterday.

M. O'BRIEN: Yeah, they don't really have the name yet. They're working on it.

SCHECHNER: No officially, no. I think Ali is going to tell us a little bit more about that later, but I think CISCO took the announcement as an agreement to terms, so we'll see how that pans out.

M. O'BRIEN: Interesting.

SCHECHNER: This was a long-time coming. The rumors are true. People have finally got what they've asked for.


STEVE JOBS, CEO, APPLE: An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator.

SCHECHNER (voice over): Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiling his latest creation at the annual MAC World Expo, a gadget that he says will revolutionize the wireless world.

JOBS: These are not three separate devices. This is one device.


JOBS: And we are calling it -- iPhone.

SCHECHNER: The device is run entirely off a multi-touch screen. It plays music, surfs the web, has GPS and Google mapping capability.


JOBS: I have a phone call coming in.

SCHECHNER: And, of course, it's a mobile phone.

JOBS: iPhone is like having your life in your pocket. It's the ultimate digital device.

Now what I can do --

SCHECHNER: And Apple is betting that iPhone, like the iPod before it, becomes a must-have for consumers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's better than -- I have a Blackberry and an iPod. It's nice to have one that does both.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The iPhone is, I think, is the future, actually. It's incredible. I mean, just get on to Apple's web site and see what they can do. It blows away all the other phones. It really does.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't find it necessary. I have an iPod. I have a cell phone. I don't need to, like, put it together, so I don't think I would buy one, personally.

SCHECHNER: The iPhone goes on sale in the U.S. in June. It will retail for $500, $600 for the larger memory. Customers will have to sign a two-year contract with Cingular for service.


SCHECHNER: So, it goes on sale in June. The first full year that it will be on sale, Miles, will be 2008 and Steve Jobs is predicting they will sell 10 million units. See, I stumbled over it, it's just so many.

M. O'BRIEN: Hmm, times $600. Well, now, $600, that is a little bit on the high end of the price points for cell phones.

SCHECHNER: Well, of course. For a cell phone, and then but you've also got the iPod, and the prices on that have come down too, so if you mesh them together, you are upping the price point to have all of those things combined into one.

M. O'BRIEN: Your life in your pocket. You don't want to have a hole in your pocket if your life is there, right?

SCHECHNER: You know, it's a lot of stuff to combine together, but I think people are going to like it, because it's all convenient, it's all in one unit. It's not like my prototype yesterday --

M. O'BRIEN: The rubber band prototype!

SCHECHNER: Where I had to smush my phone and my iPod together.

M. O'BRIEN: You saw it here first! It was not quite so elegant, but it did the job, nonetheless.

SCHECHNER: It worked.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Jacki.


S. O'BRIEN: What kind of an impact will the iPhone have on Apple the company? It is 26 minutes past the hour. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business".

Good morning, Ali.


In Jacki's story, Steve Jobs was saying it's like having your life in your pocket. That means that you're replacing your Blackberry type of device, if you carry one of those, an e-mail device. You're replacing a phone, and you're replacing an iPod.

The other companies, the ones that make those Blackberry type of devices, like Palm, which makes the Trio, Research in Motion, which makes the Blackberry, they both had their stock drop yesterday on speculation that they're going to sell fewer units.

But think about this. If they're going to sell fewer units, that means Apple will sell fewer iPods, too. Because if you are replacing three devices with one, Apple sales of the iPods, the growth in those sales is slowing dramatically. It's a story that doesn't get told very much. They are selling a lot of songs, they're still selling a lot of units, but they need this new act. They've got the new act. What's it going to do to Apple sales? That's one of the concerns that people who are watching this have.

The other thing is, Miles and Jacki, were just talking about the price. At $500 for the 4 gig, now you're talking about a 4 gig player, if you buy an additional music player that's not an iPod or even an iPod, it's a lot less money for a 4 gig player, and phones are virtually free.

And that said, people don't necessarily like contracts on their phone. You'll have to sign a contract with Cingular. So there are a few issues this company faces, not the least of which is, are they going to get to call it the iPhone, if CISCSO doesn't let them use that name. Lots to come on this story.

S. O'BRIEN: Lots and lots. All right, Ali, thanks.

S. O'BRIEN: Top stories of the morning coming up next. President Bush is set to tell America his new plan for Iraq, more U.S. troops, new demand for Iraqi troops, as well. Part of the plan is part of that.

And enough is enough, a major U.S. city is taking steps to curb an alarming rise in the number of murders. Live report straight ahead. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. We've got the most news the morning right here on CNN.



M. O'BRIEN: The president doesn't speak to the nation until tonight, as you know, but we already know a lot about his new war plan.

White House Elaine Quijano joining us live with some details.

Elaine, good morning.


Well, as you know, just speaking to counselor to the president, Dan Bartlett, a short time ago, he is saying that President Bush's address to the nation tonight will stress that American's commitment in Iraq is not open-ended.

Now Bartlett acknowledged today that nearly four years into the Iraq war, there is a great deal of skepticism, but he promised that this time will be different, the White House believes, in large part, due to the commitment of the Iraqis themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAN BARTLETT, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I think the concerns they're raising is because in the previous attempts the Iraqis hadn't stepped up with the number of troops they said they would commit. That is going to be a difference this time. They are going to have more boots on the ground. They're going to be the ones doing the knocking on the door. We're going to be there in a key support role, embedded with certain Iraqi troops as trainers, making sure they have the backup combat power they're going to need to send a signal that we mean business this time.


QUIJANO: And Bartlett there talking about efforts to pacify Baghdad and past efforts that have failed.

We understand from Bartlett that the two primary differences now from the White House's view are that, No. 1, those increases in Iraqi troops will actually happen, they believe. That, in fact, the Iraqi government is committed to have that take place. Also, the rules of engagement, Bartlett said, have changed, and now they believe the commitment there on the part of the Maliki government to allow those troops to then go into areas that they previously had not been allowed to go into, particularly those Shiite militia under Muqtada al-Sadr. So Dan Bartlett saying that there will, in fact, be differences when the American public hears from President Bush in his address tonight -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano at the White House. Thank you.

QUIJANO: CNN will, of course, have live coverage of the president's primetime address before, during, and after. A special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer and Paula Zahn starts at 7:00 Eastern. And then after the speech, stay with us CNN for special editions of "LARRY KING LIVE" and "ANDERSON COOPER 360" -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: With the president's proposal of more troops expected tonight, Democrats in Congress are plotting their counter- strategy already.

CNN congressional correspondent Andrea Koppel on Capitol Hill for us this morning.

Good morning, Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. Well, Democratic leaders are expected to head over to the White House later today to meet with President Bush, along with their Republican counterparts, to get briefed by the president on his plan.

But already Democrats are gearing up for their first big showdown on Iraq with President Bush since their election in November. Yesterday we heard the Senate majority leader Harry Reid say that he intends to introduce mostly symbolic resolution as soon as next week, which would clearly express congressional opposition to such a troop buildup, that Senator Reid called it, quote, "the beginning of the end."

We expect this morning here in the House Democrats are going to work out details on a similar measure.

And then tomorrow, after the president's speech, Soledad, you're going to see a series of hearings begin both in the house and the Senate. Among those being called up, the new secretary of defense, Bob Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: While the 100 hours marches on, what exactly are they focused on at this point?

KOPPEL: That's right. When they get under way at about 10:00 a.m. this morning, it will be hour 93. Yesterday that 9/11, at least the remaining recommendations, anti-terror measures, sailed easily through the House on a vote of 199-128. Included in those measures, stepped-up screening for cargo coming into the U.S. on ships. That's expected to happen within the next three years. Republicans said it is way too expensive and nothing more than window dressing.

Today -- a lot of people would be happy to hear this -- the minimum wage for the first time in 10 years expected to be voted on rising from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. Again, that is expected to easily pass the House. Of course, both measures need to go over to the Senate -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Andrea Koppel is on Capitol Hill for us this morning. Thanks, Andrea -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: In New Orleans this morning, they're grappling with an alarming rise in murders, almost one a day since the start of the new year.

CNN's Sean Callebs live from the Crescent City with more.

Good morning, Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in this case the stats don't lie. Right now, it should be a great time for the city 00 they're coming off a successful sugar bowl, the Saints have a home playoff game this weekend, and Mardi Gras is just around the corner. The tourism industry really looking forward to all of this.

However, they cannot get away from the headlines of all the violence in this city. Well, city leaders gathered yesterday at the sight of the first murder of the year in the city, and they're promising stringent new crackdowns on crime. Beleaguered residents say it is about time.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A makeshift memorial to Helen Hill, a 36-year-old filmmaker shot dead by an intruder in her New Orleans home Thursday.

BRAD OTT, FRIEND OF VICTIM'S FAMILY: And Helen was sort of, you know, the lead of enthusiasm to come back and make it better. You know, New Orleans, we really needs the world to take care of us.

CALLEBS: Hill's husband, a doctor who dedicated himself to the city's poor, was wounded in the attack. Friends are packing up the couple's belongings, saying the doctor has no intention of returning.

Just how dangerous is New Orleans? Well, the first eight days of the year, nine people were killed. The same number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq in that same period. Police blame a lot of the violence on drugs and gangs.

Mayor Ray Nagin and city leaders have adopted a catch phrase from citizens sick of murder -- enough is enough.

MYR. RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: I don't think anybody has lost control of the city. We have gone through a spike in murders. We're being very honest about that. It's something that the city has seen before.

CALLEBS: Nagin says the city is attacking the spike in violent crime by aggressive prosecution of murder cases, cracking down on people out between the hours of 2:00 and 6:00 a.m., and adding sheriff's deputies to neighborhood polices patrols.

SUPT. WARREN RILEY, NEW ORLEANS POLICE: What took so long? The community finally woke up. We had a tragedy or two. The community should have, in fact, probably spoke up sooner.

CALLEBS: But some residents are dumbfounded by that sort of response, from the people who are being paid to protect them.

JEANNETTE KELLY, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: I would expect to see more of an outcry from the city leaders.

CALLEBS: Jeanette Kelly and her two daughters live two blocks from where Helen Hill was killed. Kelly only recently moved back, and is simply appalled.

KELLY: I'm tired of hearing about all this dismissal of violence AS thug-on-thug crime. I think that really downplays the fact that people are being murdered.

CALLEBS: Especially for those coping with the loss of a loved one.


CALLEBS: Now the city stopped short of calling for a curfew. The tourism industry does not like any talk of anything like that. They want people out. They want people celebrating in the city.

However, there will be police out between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., stopping traffic, and looking for alcohol or drugs or more insurance violations. City leaders say that about 1/3 of the violate crime is committed between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.

. O'BRIEN: Sean Callebs in New Orleans, thank you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Ooh, it's chilly here in the Northeast. Snow coming back to the Rockies, too. Chad's going to look at the wintry forecast coming up this morning.

And rescued at sea and now back in the arms of his family. Just ahead we're going to talk to sailor Ken Barnes live.

And Senator Barack Obama is making a splash. And we're not talking about his politics. We'll explain straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

Stay with us.



M. O'BRIEN: And now the happy conclusion to a harrowing tale of one man, one boat and a raging sea. Ken Barnes was hoping to sail around the world all by himself, but some epic storms left him demasted and dead in the water, fighting for his life. On Friday, the cavalry came, so to speak. Barnes rescued by a fishing troller with some help from the Chilean Navy, about 500 miles off of the coast of South America. Ken Barnes is with us now, along with his girlfriend Cathy Chambers, to tell us about this harrowing ordeal.

Good to have you with us. Good to see you, Ken.

First take me back to the storm and when the trouble came upon you. When did you realize you were in some really big trouble?

KEN BARNES, RESCUED SAILOR: Everything was okay until the boat flipped. It was stormy, obviously.

There's a point when challenging sail becomes possibly life- threatening, and that point was when the boat flipped. It was just another storm up until that point, but when certain things go wrong all at the same time, it becomes life-threatening, so that was a situation at that time.

M. O'BRIEN: You still had the ability to make some phone calls. Batteries were going out on you, and, Cathy, I know you got a phone call. This is a phone call I'm sure you completely dreaded. What was that like being on the other end of the phone as he was telling you what was going on?

CATHY CHAMBERS, KEN'S GIRLFRIEND: Well, it took three times for him to get through to me, and all I heard basically was, I have set off the EPIRB and called the Coast Guard, and it was very hard to -- I mean, I could make out what he was saying, but it was very hard to hear. You could hear the weather in the background.

M. O'BRIEN: And so you really didn't have much of a communication. What you were getting was just drips and drabs, enough to cause tremendous concern. CHAMBERS: Yes. And then within five minutes of him calling me, the Coast Guard had already called me.

M. O'BRIEN: How confident were you, Cathy, all along? Were you concerned that it would be impossible to get help to him?

CHAMBERS: Of course, I was concerned, but I also know that the EPIRB, you know, basically was...

M. O'BRIEN: This is a locater device for folks who don't know what an EPIRB is.

CHAMBERS: Yes, it's a 406 EPIRB. It's a marine rescue beacon, and basically it sets out signals to the satellites that goes then to the Coast Guard, and lets them know, you know, how strong the signal is, what his latitude and his longitude is, and basically it has probably about a 40- to 50-hour window where it will -- the battery will completely keep working.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I think they call it the golden day, and it was a little more than a day, Ken, so you had some time to think about your plight. Did you lose hope in the midst of all of that, or did you always think you were going to get saved? And what was it like when you finally saw that troller?

BARNES: I didn't lose hope. I always knew that I was going to get through this, didn't know exactly how at times, but I always knew that I was going to get through it. And seeing the troller was a relief, because what we were dealing with was a timeframe before the next storm rolled in, because the boat was pretty disabled at that point, and I would have had to done some -- I would have had to have done a few things to keep the boat from, you know, staying on the top, instead of going down if another storm rolled through like the one that hit. But seeing the troller on the horizon coming to me was a pretty great relief, pretty great relief.

M. O'BRIEN: Would you try again?

BARNES: yes, I would. But there's a lot of things that go into a try. It's not just get a boat and go, so it's a long process.

M. O'BRIEN: And one final thought, a lot of money and effort expended getting to you. By some accounts about a quarter-million dollars or so. Are you going to reimburse the troller captain, that kind of thing?

BARNES: If I'm asked to do so, I will. At this point I wouldn't know how to do that, but if that will be required, I would. That's not how things work in the ocean, and it's not what's expected of me. No more than it would be expected of somebody else in any part of the world, but, yes, if that's required from me, then I'll take care of it.

M. O'BRIEN: Ken Barnes, Cathy Chambers, congratulations, good luck.

BARNES: Thank you very much.

CHAMBERS: Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: U.S. senator, possible presidential candidate, target of the paparazzi? Barak at the beach.

And in the pages of "People" magazine, Jeanne Moos asks Americans what are there votes on the Obama body.

And whether it's a soft drink or a hard drink, there are chances that you'll soon be paying more for it. Ali Velshi is taking a look as he minds your business straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


S. O'BRIEN: Well, you know the presidential race does not include a swimsuit competition, but maybe it should. Senator Barack Obama is the very latest to make a big splash.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sorry, but we refuse to obey the headline, quote, "Stop looking at it."

It being Barack Obama in a swimsuit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little flabby, I'm sorry to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looks gorgeous.

MOOS: There he is in a two-page spread in "People" entitled "Beach Babes". The babes range from Jessica Alba in a bikini to actor Hugh Jackman with his six-pack abs.

The senator's inclusion led to this "Washington Post" headline: "The Honorable Beach Babe from Illinois.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would vote for her, to be honest with you.

MOOS: That would be Penelope Cruz.

How did a possible presidential candidate get mixed in with the beach babes? In the words of Senator Obama himself: "It's, uh, paparazzi... Stop looking at it!"

"It's embarrassing," he told the "Washington Post".

The pictures were taken while the senator was vacationing in Hawaii. Watery shots can come back to drown a politician.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry, which ever way the wind blows.

MOOS: The first President Bush wasn't afraid to take off his shirt and dive in.


MOOS: But George W. Bush was smart enough to know what not to wear at a summit in Cancun.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No Speedo suit here. Thankfully.

MOOS: This image of Arnold Schwarzenegger ricocheted around the web, temporarily terminating his pumping iron image.

Even the woman running president of France got nabbed in her bikini. Segolene Royal weathered the exposure well.

But when LBJ revealed his surgical scar, it left a mental scar on all of us.

As for Obama:



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looks pretty good to me.

MOOS: She left, then came back to add:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't look so good that he's spending all his time working out. He's probably paying more attention to policy matters.

MOOS: Obama is known for working out at a Chicago club. A columnist who happened to run into him in the locker room memorably said, "Obama doesn't have enough fat on his body to make a butter pat."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to see Ted Kennedy in the same pose.

MOOS: And then there's the shot of the Clintons dancing on the beach that ended up on the front page. Boy, did they look white as ghosts.

Funny how a guy who looks a little like he's swimming in his business suits looks not so skinny when he's actually swimming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Buy big, look small. Buy big, look small. That's what I say.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


S. O'BRIEN: Hugh Jackman, Senator Obama. Yes, the whole swimsuit thing has me a little -- he looks all right, huh?

M. O'BRIEN: I think you're a little taken aback.

S. O'BRIEN: He looks like that woman said -- for a guy who is spending his time doing policy, not working out at the gym, which is what you want from your elected officials.

M. O'BRIEN: He is pretty cut, yes.

S. O'BRIEN: They should make every Congress person show what they got.

M. O'BRIEN I think that is such a bad idea. Two words for you, Ted Kennedy. That's all I need to say, end of report.

Still ahead this morning, we're starting with our top story. The president's new plan for Iraq, a closer look at whether Mr. Bush is losing his credibility on the issue.

Plus, four of the most famous words that change the nation. They are, I have a dream. We'll tell you the inside story of Martin Luther King's speech that he was not supposed to give at the March on Washington.

Stay with us. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.



S. O'BRIEN: Just ahead, we're going to take a look at the details of the president's new plan for Iraq. Reports also of an al Qaeda leader killed in a U.S. raid. And an update on the $60 million worth of damage caused by that Malibu brush fire. Those stories are straight ahead. Stay with us.