Return to Transcripts main page

American Morning

Various Presidential Candidates Discussed; Google Tops 'Fortune' Magazine's Lists Of Best Places to Work

Aired January 22, 2007 - 07:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: a stunning attack. Gunmen apparently disguised as Americans get past checkpoints in one of the deadliest weekends in the war for U.S. troops.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Start the clock. New York Senator Hillary Clinton plunges into the growing pool of presidential hopefuls; all of them racing to that critical test just one year from today.

M. O'BRIEN: Watching the watchdog. "Consumer Reports" magazine taking a close look at itself after botching the study on car seat safety, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome back, everybody. Monday, January 22nd. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm Miles O'Brien. Thanks for being with us.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin with breaking news out of Iraq this morning; at least 75 people have been killed at least in a pair of bombings in central Baghdad this morning. Also, a new number to share with you; 27 Americans killed in Iraq this weekend, and 25 of them on Saturday alone.

A fresh U.S. brigade is arriving in Baghdad now. With 3,200 soldiers leading the buildup of forces ordered by President Bush. The military says it is conducting massive interrogations in Karbala, Iraq, this morning, investigating what was an incredibly bold and brazen attack. CNN's Michael Holmes, live in Baghdad for us this morning.

Michael, good morning.


This was a stunning incident. I can't remember anything like this in the past. There was a security meeting going on in what was meant to be a secure compound. U.S. and Iraqi officials discussing security arrangements for pilgrims arriving for a Ashura (ph), that's a major Shia religious event.

Now, seven to eight SUVs with tinted windows, looking very much like official convoys that tear around Iraq, drove up to the compound. About 30 gunmen inside those vehicles wearing military uniforms described to us as very similar to U.S. uniforms and flashing fake I.D.s; some of these gunmen spoke English. The guards, apparently, thought they were an American convoy.

They went through three checkpoints and got into the compound. In fact, they got into the building where this meeting was taking place. Opened fire, grenades, small-arms fire targeting specifically American troops. They killed five and wounded three before making their escape. An extraordinary breach of security there, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Michael, what happens in this investigation? What exactly are they examining?

HOLMES: Well, it's under lockdown, that entire compound. We spoke to somebody who works there, and he says he hasn't been able to go to work since this happened. The Americans have basically shut the whole place down.

From Iraqi sources we're told that the U.S. is giving few details. They're conducting a "fierce" investigation, was the word used by one source. He said that everyone from the police chief on down is being interrogated. Now, one source told us that several of these SUVs were later found in a neighboring province and had a couple of wounded insurgents inside.

One can imagine they're being asked a few questions as well, so the U.S. Military, obviously, taking this very seriously because, quite frankly, something like this shouldn't happen. And let's remember that these joint security stations are about to be setting up in suburbs around Baghdad. It will be a very similar scenario to what we saw in Karbala, in terms of how they're set up. So they're obviously very worried about this breach, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Clearly. Michael Holmes for us this morning in Baghdad. Thank you, Michael.


M. O'BRIEN: President Bush refining his State of the Union speech. It's set for tomorrow night, and telling this morning's "USA Today" that he cannot guarantee U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of his presidency. CNN's Elaine Quijano live from the White House with a preview.

Good morning, Elaine.


That's right. The dynamic President Bush will be facing this year will certainly be much different from what he has found in years past. Now President Bush is facing only a Democrat-led Congress, but also skepticism among his fellow Republicans -- and even some down right opposition by some to his Iraq plan.

Now, President Bush will continue trying to make the case in his State of the Union Address that his strategy for more troops in Iraq can be effective. Aides say his comments on the war will be within the context of the larger war on terror.

Now Iraq was very much on the agenda this weekend. The president sat down with his secretaries of State and Defense, the president, before leaving for Camp David, and listening to updates from them. They're both back from separate trips to the Middle East region where they continue to try to build support for the president's plan.

Now, Bush aides say in addition to the war on terror and Iraq, the president will focus on domestic issues. Areas where the White House feels they can come up with some common ground with Democrats. And on that front the president is said to unveil a standard health care tax deduction. $7,500 for individuals, $15,000 for families, whether they buy coverage on their own or get their insurance through their employer -- Miles.

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


S. O'BRIEN: More names and faces joining the race to succeed President Bush in 2008. New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton announcing on her web site that she's forming an exploratory committee. New Mexico Democratic Governor Bill Richardson made his own announcement on the web, and Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas announcing his intentions before supporters in Topeka on Saturday.

With this early start to the race comes a series of very big firsts. Here's CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.


GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, this is Governor Bill Richardson. Today I'm announcing the formation of --

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A presidential exploratory committee.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wanted to tell you first, and I'll be filing papers --

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING (voice over): Wow. It's getting crowded in the pool. Now, that was a week that was. Within six days two power players and one well credentialed lesser-known, joined the '08 presidential contest, infusing the race with panoply of potential firsts in the Oval Office, first Latino, first black, first woman.

CLINTON: It will be a great contest with a lot of talented people, and I am very confident. I'm in. I'm in to win, and that's what I intend to do.

CROWLEY: It is a testament to Hillary Clinton's star power that the press flocked to an otherwise routine health care event. That the logo on her presidential press releases says Hillary, like Cher. That she's the one rivals take shots at. She's still the one to beat, 100 percent name recognition, and unmatched fundraising machine, a nationwide political structure.

NEWT GINGRICH, (R-GA) FMR. CONGRESSMAN: Is there a ceiling where people just say no, and no matter how many ads you run, no matter what you do they end up saying no. And we don't know the answer. If there's not a ceiling, she's going to be the nominee. And then everybody else is running to be the vice presidential candidate.

CROWLEY: If the question is whether she has peaked, the other question is whether he is ready. In a country desperate for change, Barack Obama is the fresh face, an electric politician with sizzling passion. Will voters see this post-baby boomer as too inexperienced for the post-9/11 world?

As Obama and Clinton vied for headlines in the week that was, they look for all the world like a two-person race, but there are variables and unknowns in the equation. More people may jump in, and with a single misstep, a frontrunner can slip.

RICHARDSON: Before I became governor of New Mexico, I served as congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, and as secretary of Energy.

CROWLEY: Lesser-knowns can become known, 12 months until the first primary. Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


S. O'BRIEN: CNN equals politics and debate. We're teaming up with Manchester's WMUR TV and the "Union-Leader" newspaper to air a pair of debates Wednesday, April 4, Thursday, April 5, one for Republicans, one for Democrats. CNN's Wolf Blitzer will moderate -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning, federal agents joining the search for a mother and her four children in a Chicago area. Kimberly Walker and her children, age 16 months to nine years, allegedly kidnapped by Jerry White, the children's father. Police say White also shot walker's boyfriend. He is in serious condition.

The man accused of kidnapping two boys in Missouri is speaking out. Michael Devlin telling "The New York Post" he is too ashamed to face his parents, who haven't visited him since he was arrested. Devlin also says he was relatively happy during the four years he is alleged to have held Shawn Hornbeck. Jail authorities investigating how the "Post" reporter got that interview.

Colorado digging out from another snowstorm with drifts as high as three feet shutting down highways. At least 11 died in traffic accidents in Oklahoma and Missouri. Tens of thousands still without power after those ice storms last week. Your weather expert Chad Myers will have your forecast straight ahead.

Also, it's a silent killer waiting for you in your hotel room. We'll see what, if anything, is being done to protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Plus, watching the watchdog. "Consumer Reports" did something unusual in those car seat crash tests. We'll see how it is investigating itself. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning right here.


S. O'BRIEN: Most news in the morning is right here on CNN. Some of the stories we're watching for you this morning. The U.S. military holding a joint briefing with Iraqi commanders. Word this morning that one of the deadly attacks over the weekend, in Karbala, was carried out by gunmen wearing U.S. uniforms and driving American SUVs.

Plus, Iran's president is still refusing to end his country's nuclear program. Now flexing military muscle announcing new plans to test-fire missiles today. It's 12 minutes past the hour. Let's get a quick check of the "Traveler's Forecast" from Chad in the Weather Center.


M. O'BRIEN: Hillary Clinton is in. No surprise there. But what lies ahead now for a candidate who enters a crowded field with some formidable advantages as well as some big issues to overcome. Lisa Caputo is a former press secretary to Hillary Clinton and worked as Clinton White House aide and she joins us right now.

Lisa, good to have you with us.


M. O'BRIEN: First of all, you are working for her now?

CAPUTO: Well, in a volunteer capacity, but once you work for a Clinton, you always work for a Clinton.

M. O'BRIEN: You're always on the employment roll, huh?

CAPUTO: They've been so personally great to me. I wouldn't be where I am today certainly without either Clinton, so I owe them a real debt.

M. O'BRIEN: What is she like to work for?

CAPUTO: She's incredible to work for. You know, with her it's a two-way street, and loyalty goes both ways. She's demanding, she's smart. I used to kid around with her because as a press secretary, she's a press secretary's dream, because she speaks in organized paragraphs. And I used to joke around saying, Hillary, you have to learn to speak in a sound byte, but obviously, she's grown so much in the role of a senator, and into a politician, and she's -- really it's an extraordinary time for her. M. O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the war. This is a big issue for her. The remaining candidates in the Democratic field have either been against the war from the outset, or renounced their support for the war. Senator Clinton has not done that. And she's in a field where Democrats, perhaps as many as three-quarters of all Democrats, are adamantly opposed to the war right now. Is she making a mistake?

CAPUTO: I think, Miles, she's made her position very clear. She said she voted with the information she knew at the time.

M. O'BRIEN: But hasn't apologized for that vote.

CAPUTO: Well, but she said there are no re-dos in the Senate. And she has made it clear if they knew then what she knew today, she wouldn't have cast the vote she did. But what she's doing is taking, I think, a very logical and methodological approach to the troop situation in Iraq, and has called for a cap on troops.

But has also said if you are going to deploy for troops, go into Afghanistan because the Taliban is up in arms. Al Qaeda is reorganizing. And at the same time, she's putting conditions on the Iraqis, and asking that the Iraqis step up to the plate. And that's something that the Iraqi Study Group actually recommended.

M. O'BRIEN: It stands in stark contrast, though, to Barack Obama, who has made an awful lot of news, who is opposed to the war from the outset.

As the campaign unfolds and Democrats continue to voice their support against the war, it's going to bring a lot of pressure on her to change that stance, isn't there?

CAPUTO: Again, Miles, I think she's been very clear. And I don't think, you know, as she has said, there's no re-dos. And, you know, fortunately for Senator Obama, he wasn't in the Senate when that vote was cast. So I think she's been very clear. I think she's been the most outspoken critic of this White House on the war. She was the first to call for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation, so her position has been very clear.

M. O'BRIEN: What about the negatives? With 44 percent negative, in polling. Obama gets 29 percent, negative, just as an example. Why is she such a polarizing candidate, it seems?

CAPUTO: You know, honestly, Miles, I don't think we would be having this conversation if she weren't a woman. I mean, let's not forget, she won two elections to the Senate in landslides. She won her last victory carrying two -- every county Upstate, every county in the state except for two. She won with 67 percent of the vote.

Let's also not forget where she is in the polls today. ABC News- "Washington Post" poll came out that had her way, way, way ahead of the other contenders.

My point is polls go up and down, and I don't put a lot of stock in polls. Neither does she. She doesn't follow the polls. She will go out there, and she's going to go out there to win this. And I think negatives or positives, they'll go up and down for all the candidates.

M. O'BRIEN: Of course, you follow the polls. Come on, Lisa. Who are you fooling here?


Lisa Caputo, thanks for here. Appreciate it.

CAPUTO: Sure, nice to be with you.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, if I had a dollar for everybody who told me -- that everybody in politics who told me they didn't follow the polls, I could retire tomorrow.

Thanks, Miles.

Smoke detectors standard in hotels nationwide. Just seven states require rooms to have carbon monoxide detectors as well. We recently told you about what appeared to be a case of carbon monoxide poisoning at a hotel in Florida. CNN's Susan Candiotti, has more this morning on what some hotels are doing to protect their guests from this silent killer.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: (voice over): In the last seven months, at least four guests have died from carbon monoxide fumes, and several others have been sickened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a nice room -- there was -- we had no complaints about that it whatsoever.

CANDIOTTI: When Richard Ludders (ph) lost his son Thomas to an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in a 416 at the Double Tree hotel in Key West, he had no idea they were next to the boiler room. Investigators suspect a boiler spewing odorless, noxious fumes is what killed his Ludders (ph) son and left his father unconscious.

A week before Ludders (ph) died, guests who stayed in the same room were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. A lawsuit has been filed, and this week plaintiff's lawyers inspected the hotel, providing their video to CNN. They're calling for state and federal laws to make CO monitors mandatory in hotels.

IRA LEESFIELD, CIVIL LIABILITY LAWYER: It's like so many other things in life. It takes a tragedy to make a change.

CANDIOTTI: Two years ago Barbara Bertot lost her daughter to carbon monoxide poison, and got a law passed in Hialeah, Florida, requiring carbon monoxide detectors in homes and businesses.

BARBARA BERTOT, VICTIM'S MOTHER: Every business should have this monitor. This monitor, you know, costs pennies compared to losing a life.

CANDIOTTI: Only seven states mandate hotels to have carbon monoxide detectors. Florida is not one of them.

(On camera): What about the hotel industry policing itself? The American Hotel and Lodging Association offers no reasons why it does not set its own guidelines. Adding it's up to its members to comply with state and local building codes.

(Voice over): Marriott says it has CO detectors in all its properties. La Quinta and the Intercontinental Hotel Group, which includes Holiday Inn, say some locations have monitors.

ASST. CHIEF STEVE MCINERNY, FT. LAUDERDALE FIRE DEPT.: I think it's just a lack of education on the dangers of carbon monoxide.

CANDIOTTI: Hilton Hotels, including Double Tree, says it has no policy on CO detectors. The Double Tree in Key West, where Ludders (ph) died last month, says it plans to install CO detectors before it reopens.

Advice for consumers? If you are worried, ask for a hotel's policy ahead of time or bring your own monitor. Susan Candiotti, Key West, Florida.


S. O'BRIEN: Here's what the hotel and its management company said. They responded with this. "Heartland and hotel management staff want to be part of, and support any and all efforts, to raise code standards across the state so that Florida becomes a model for hotel boiler safety."

Still ahead this morning, a dramatic drop in gas prices; below $2 a gallon in some parts. How low can they go? We'll find out straight ahead.

And "Consumer Reports" take a closer look at its own reporting trying to figure out what went wrong with its botched child car seat crash test. Live report straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. We're back in a moment.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

Two developing stories we're watching for you: Iran refusing to end its nuclear program, now planning to test fire new missiles.

Snow and ice making a mess of the Plains states. Closing roads, also causing several deadly crashes.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, gas prices are falling. You better run out and buy an SUV right now, right? No, wait a minute, though. It's almost 24 minutes past the hour. Stephanie Elam, "Minding Your Business".


So we have good news, and we'll couch it at the end with not so happy news. Starting off, over the past few weeks taking a look at the national average for gas prices. It's down about 14 cents. That's the good news there.

Taking a look at some of the cities here. San Francisco, $2.62 a gallon. Chicago, I don't even think they're awake in Chicago. They're still celebrating out in the snow. But $2.25 a gallon. Honolulu with the highest at $2.81 a gallon. Overall, the national average $2.19 18 a gallon.

Part of the reason we're seeing this is because oil prices are down 15 percent, so far this year, and that's because we've had this warm winter weather. Things are changing. Things are cold. There was ice on the street when I came to work this morning. So it is actually finally cold here in the Northeast, and that is the reason why we may see even a turnaround. So while you're seeing this drop, don't expect the drop to continue too much longer. If not creeping back up just a little bit.

Now, here's one interesting little tidbit for you. The cost of crude oil accounts for about half of the retail price of gasoline, so if you see that drop of 15 percent in oil prices, then we should see an 8 percent drop in gas prices. But it takes time for that drop to occur, and that's why you may not be seeing it so much at the pump. You're noticing that probably as well.

Coming up, we're going to take a look at a story of one woman who kept a journal at work and then lost her job. We'll tell you all about that when I come back, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: ALL right, thank you, Stephanie.

Top stories of the morning are coming up next. Senator Hillary Clinton says she's in to win, but so is everyone else, of course, in the field, and it's a crowded field. How will the party choose? We'll talk about the life of the party, James Carville, about that.

Plus, why this place was named the best place in America to work. You're watching the American morning "newsplex", the most news in the morning right here.


S. O'BRIEN: The race heats up exactly one year to the New Hampshire people. Three new presidential candidates throw their hats into the ring.

M. O'BRIEN: Watching the watchdog, "Consumer Reports" has been a trusted name for years, but after a major mistake, can it investigate itself?

S. O'BRIEN: Raising shareholder value, and giving employees free massages at the same time. Yes, there is a company that is doing all of that. "Fortune" magazine tells us what's the best place to work in America.

Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Monday, January 22. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm Miles O'Brien.

Happening this morning. At least 75 people killed by a pair of simultaneous car bombs in Iraq. The bombs went off in a central Baghdad marketplace, at least 160 wounded.

Federal agents -- the man accused of kidnapping two boys in Missouri is speaking out. Michael Devlin tells "The New York Post" that he is too ashamed to face his parents who haven't visited him since he was arrested.

Devlin also says he was relatively happy during the four years he is alleged to have held Shawn Hornbeck. The jail authorities are investigating how "The New York Post" reporter got that interview -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: OK. Well, raise your hand if you not running for president. You and you and -- all right. You know what I'm saying. It's a crowded field as three new candidates jump into the 2008 race this weekend alone. Here's what they're saying.


CLINTON: It will be a great contest with a lot of talented people, and I am very confident. I'm in. I'm in to win, and that's what I intend to do.

BROWNBACK: I'm declaring today my candidacy for president of the United States.

RICHARDSON: Today I'm announcing the formation of a presidential campaign exploratory committee with a clear intention of declaring my candidacy for president in the very near future.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D) ILLINOIS: On February 10th at the end of these discussions in my home state of Illinois, I'll share my plans with my friends, neighbors and fellow Americans.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist James Carville is endorsing Senator Clinton. He joins us this morning from Chicago. Nice to see you, James. Good morning to you.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you very much. We got a lot of work out here for some young aspiring political consultants, don't we?

S. O'BRIEN: Let's not take our moment to try to get people to come and work for you. Let's get right into our interview shall we. I'll begin with the positives. Fundraising machine is what people say about Hillary Clinton, name recognition is virtually 100 percent, all big positives. So you tell me what you think the biggest negative is for her.

CARVILLE: Well, the biggest negative is it's an awesome field that she's up against. I mean this is the most talented field ever put together by any party in the history of the United States to run for president. Anybody that's in this race, Senator Clinton included, is going to have to run an almost flawless campaign to get the nomination.

S. O'BRIEN: When you look at the polls -- and don't tell me you don't look at the polls as every political advisor tells me --

CARVILLE: Of course I look at the polls (INAUDIBLE) tell you I don't look at the polls, and I look at everything.

S. O'BRIEN: People always tell me they don't look at the polls, but there's a poll out there.

CARVILLE: I never said that.

S. O'BRIEN: I know. I know. I'm just joking with you. And it says, it asks Democrats why, what reason, for what reasons they may not support Hillary Clinton and 29 percent said she can't win. How big of a problem is that going to be for you?

CARVILLE: Well, at the same time there's a poll because I look at the polls, says that she beats Senator McCain, so 29 percent of the people just need to look up and once this becomes aware, once everything unfolds, they're going to see, obviously, that she can win. I think whoever the Democrat is is going to win, but in one sense there's one poll says you can't win. There's another poll that says that she's a hit. So all of that will flush itself out during the course of the campaign.

S. O'BRIEN: Some people would say a woman can't win. Some people say that America is not ready for a female president yet.

CARVILLE: Some people would say that, but they would be wrong. I think clearly that's what the campaign is going to be about -- again, there are polls that show her ahead. There are polls that show her way ahead in the Democratic nominating process. There are polls that show her ahead in the general election, but the important thing here is that we got a whole campaign ahead of us, and she's going to run, and she's got a very, very talented group of people around her, and she's a very, very talented woman, but I caution that she's running against a very talented field also.

S. O'BRIEN: One of the talented people around her, of course, is former President Bill Clinton. Some people say, though, one of the upsides is you have Bill Clinton on your team. The downside is that sometimes you're compared unfavorably to your own husband.

CARVILLE: In some ways she might be compared unfavorably. In other ways, she might be compared favorably. I think that honestly, Senator Clinton is pretty much her own person. She conducts herself in a certain way. She's a very serious, thoughtful person. She's not frivolous at all. She's given to deep thought on these things and I think that's going to become apparent during the course of the campaign. And by the way, her husband is a pretty good surrogate if she can't make it to a fundraising event. He could be a pretty good fill-in for her.

S. O'BRIEN: Iraq, obviously is a big issue. The voters clearly are very focused on it. We've heard John Edwards say my vote for the war in Iraq was a mistake. We have not heard Senator Clinton say that. Should she?

CARVILLE: Well, I think she has said that. I think that she's also, you know, works tirelessly on the Armed Services Committee. She's trying to come up with different things. She was from the state that was attacked on 9/11. The administration told her there were ties between al Qaeda and Iraq. Of course, there weren't. It's easy to see the state of mind when she did that. Iraq is going to be a big issue in this campaign. She's obviously going to have to address that time and time again as will other candidates.

S. O'BRIEN: Do you think she should say specifically? You say she did say, but actually she hasn't. John Edwards said my vote was a mistake. We haven't heard Senator Clinton say that.

CARVILLE: I think she says if she had known what she know now she wouldn't have done it. I'm not going to get into the technicalities of what she's said. She's obviously frustrated at the way this war is going and she's obviously the most knowledgeable person on it, has put a lot of different ideas forth and I think during the course of the campaign, she'll be putting those ideas out and she'll obviously get asked about it a lot.

S. O'BRIEN: We're going to hear a lot more, James Carville, nice to see you, as always, Democratic strategist.

CARVILLE: Thank you. I'll keep reading those polls.

S. O'BRIEN: And I will too and I'll ask you about them as I always do.

CARVILLE: You bet, Soledad. Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you. A programming note this morning, CNN is teaming up with WMUR TV in Manchester and the "Union Leader" newspaper for a pair of debates in New Hampshire. It's going to be on Wednesday, April 4th, and on Thursday, April 5th, one for the Republican presidential hopefuls, one for the Democratic presidential hopefuls. CNN's Wolf Blitzer is going to moderate that debate.

We want to hear from you. We invite your questions for the candidates (INAUDIBLE) about our coverage too. Just send me an email at, click on that link. That's about halfway down the page and I'm going to answer some of your questions and give you a little glimpse of what we do right here at CNN. Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, a major mistake shaking "Consumer Report's" credibility. Who's watching the watchdog? We'll tell you.

And do you dread going to work? We'll take you to a place where people love their jobs. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning, right here.


M. O'BRIEN: The most news in the morning is right here. Two developing stories we're following. Iran is refusing to end its nuclear program, and now flexing its military muscle. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime planning to test fire several missiles, non-nuclear missiles, as the U.S. positions another warship off of the coast of Iran.

And snow and ice making a mess on the plain states, closing roads, causing several crashes. Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: It may not be the happiest place on earth, but it is pretty darn close. Google tops "Fortune" magazine's lists of the best places to work, and we sent AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho to the company headquarters in California to find out exactly why. Alina is back with us. Was it the massages that put them over the top?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Or the free meals. You name it. There's a lot to look forward to over there. If you are heading out the door for work this morning and you wish you were still in bed, take note. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who feels that way at Google. People there love their jobs. In fact, some of them barely leave and why would they? They have every perk right at their fingertips and all of it is free.


CHO (voice-over): Ever wonder what's behind this home page? It's the Google plex in Mountain View, California. The people who work here are called Googlers. Or if you are new, you are a Noogler and Google is hiring 100 a week.

THOMAS AREND, GOOGLER: You never need to go home because you can almost sleep here. You can do your laundry here. You can eat around the clock.

CHO: And all of it is free. Googlers and Nooglers can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner here at any of the company's 11 gourmet restaurants. If you gain what's called the Google 15, get the gym. Training is free. So are the massages. There's volleyball, swimming, rock climbing, game rooms and scooters, and how is this for a perk? Google will kick in $5,000 for the purchase of a hybrid car. All this and every day is take your dog to work day.

LASZLOW BOCK, VP, GOOGLE: For us it's less an expense item and more an investment because we truly believe that it generates value for us in the business.

CHO: By value Google means productivity. The ubiquitous Internet search engine is not just Google anymore. There's Froogle, Google Earth, blogger and g-mail and Google is available in 110 languages. Many of the ideas are hatched not in the cubicles but in the lunch room or over coffee. Twenty-seven-year-old engineer Niniane Wang is the quintessential Googler. She graduated from college at 18, was lured to Google from Microsoft and loves her job so much she immediately rejects all other offers.

NINIANE WANG, GOOGLER: What inspires them is not the ability to cash out and then relax and sail down the Nile. What inspires them is the ability to change the world.

CHO: Google gets one million applications a year, one every 25 seconds and this year hired just 5,000.

CHARLES HUDSON, GOOGLER: Google gets the best and brightest for whatever it is that we're trying to do. Whether it's our world class chefs or whether it's the people who are running our advertising sales. People are just really talented here.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHO: Yes, they are. Getting into Google is not easy. In fact, it's a lot like getting into college. There is a detailed questionnaire that they recently added to the application and some of the questions include is your work space messy or neat? Are you an extrovert or an introvert and what kind of pets do you have? Recruiters say they do this so they don't overlook people who are great but who are not so great on paper Soledad. So for instance, for you ivy league education, great, but it might not get you over the edge, might not get you hired, but mother of four, maybe that means you can multi-task.

S. O'BRIEN: Knowledge about technology. That's another problem.

CHO: Work space neat. That's good.

S. O'BRIEN: So we get free coffee, and that's about it free we get here. What else do they get because I know that's not all the perks.

CHO: No and we really just scratched the surface. Free meals, free massages, free car washes. And get this for a perk. If you've just had a baby - and this is for the mother or the father -- you get $500 in take-out food. You want to take another language? You can take Spanish or Portuguese and that's on the company's dime as well.

S. O'BRIEN: Of course, if you are giving people all these perks, I mean, the -- it's to keep them at work, right?

CHO: It is to keep them at work and it's to keep them from going elsewhere really. These are people who are highly motivated people, but a lot of the Googlers we spoke to said, you know, we love the environment so much the only thing that would really get us to leave is maybe to start our own company. You are talking about a bunch of overachievers.

S. O'BRIEN: Did they talk about what the numbers are for people who leave, what percentage leave? CHO: They didn't. We know that after the IPO, there were 900 millionaires formed and some of those people left but they don't talk about salary. There's a lot they don't talk about, but you can rest assured that most of the people there are pretty happy.

S. O'BRIEN: I would be happy there too, lots of people working in their New York office.

CHO: They are looking. They're always looking.

S. O'BRIEN: Neat desk, mother of four. I can do that. Alina, thanks. Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's head off to the Chad plex shall we? Chad Myers watching the weather for us at 43 minutes past the hour. Hello Chad.


M. O'BRIEN: You get free coffee there. You just don't want it.

MYERS: I get free parking, but I'm happy about that.

M. O'BRIEN: Enjoy that. That's a slam dunk for a New Yorker. Let's face it.

MYERS: No kidding. Good morning, New York. Good morning, Portland, up into Maine seeing a little bit of light snow this morning also across Massachusetts. Zoom in here. This is just one little shot of snow through Manchester, Albany, maybe make a slick spot on the roadway, but not going to really slow you down, certainly not canceling any school today, 16 in Albany, 29 New York City, 21 in Boston. It's cold enough that anything that may look like a water spot in New York City will certainly be an ice chunk, so be careful if you are out walking about today. Otherwise, the rain is heavy from Atlanta southward, Charlotte, southward too. We are seeing Philadelphia with 40 minute airport delays because of some low visibility and back out to the west, that is snow very close to El Paso this morning all the way up to Albuquerque, a little bit farther south than Santa Fe. Miles, pretty decent day for you today. It does get very cold in the northeast though. We're probably talking about the coldest morning low temperatures for the year so far Thursday, Friday, into Saturday. We'll get to that in exactly 29 minutes.

M. O'BRIEN: 29 minutes it is. We'll see you then. Won't tell you how much I pay for parking.

Coming up, who is watching the watchdog? "Consumer Reports" did something unusual in its test of child car seats and now they're investigating themselves. We will explain.

Plus, the man accused of kidnapping two Missouri boys speaks out. Why his lawyer is furious about that. Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) M. O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at some of the feeds we're watching right now (INAUDIBLE) news in the morning. This is where we get some of it. First of all, we'll go to incoming 17. We're constantly monitoring Iranian television, especially this morning, as the governor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowing to test short-range missiles, not nuclear missiles, just missiles as that country continues its efforts, he vows to continue efforts to make nuclear fuel, fuel which could be used in weapons. We'll be watching that one very closely for you. The U.S. moving warships off the coast of Iran, meanwhile, as tensions increase there. President, not sure if he'll address that in the state of the union address, but I would say there's a good chance he would.

Dotting the I's, crossing the T's on the speech today, the speech tomorrow night. He'll head back to the White House this morning, a little bit of snowfall there. He's at Camp David this morning. Right next door is our Baghdad bureau incoming feed, a wild attack in Baghdad -- south of Baghdad. We'll tell you about it in a little while. Gunmen dressing up appearing to be U.S. military in a convoy of SUVs getting past the perimeter of an Iraqi U.S. convoy -- compound and then unleashing fire, causing a lot of injury and death.

And then incoming 14. That is a briefing coming in from Baghdad right now talking about what was in addition to that single attack, an extremely bloody weekend all throughout Iraq and we'll keep you posted on that. Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles, thanks.

"Consumer Reports" of courses has long been a trusted authority on product safety, so when they were wrong about those car seat crashes, really wrong, makes big news. What went wrong? CNN consumer reporter Greg Hunter is live for us this morning in Secaucus, New Jersey. Greg, good morning.

GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well, Soledad, when people are flying down the highway like on the New Jersey turnpike, you definitely want to have you and your kids belted in safely. Now, to "Consumer Reports" credit, what they were trying to do, was make little kids in car seats safer. It didn't turn out that way.


HUNTER (voice-over): "Consumer Reports," the magazine known for its investigative work is now investigating itself, trying to figure out why it published a report saying 10 of 12 infant car seat models failed their side impact crash tests.

KEN WEINE, SPOKESMAN, "CONSUMER REPORTS": We decided that we were going to conduct new side impact tests, review all aspects of the article and conduct an internal review.

HUNTER: The magazine withdrew its findings after Federal officials refuted the results. In its more than 70-year history, "Consumer Reports" has made very few mistakes, so who watches the watchdog? Ironically, "Consumer Reports" is responsible for checking itself. But in this case it didn't work. Consumer advocate Joan Claybrook, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says she thinks she knows what went wrong.

JOAN CLAYBROOK, PUBLIC CITIZEN: They hired a company that they probably didn't check out enough as to its expertise with crash testing. It's a very technical area. They should have had some bell go off in their head and say, you know, this is unbelievable and maybe it's not correct.

HUNTER: Claybrook says they should have consulted other experts after seeing the results. Also, "Consumer Reports" doesn't typically include manufacturers' comments when their products test poorly. Claybrook says that's also a mistake.

CLAYBROOK: The public relations advantage they might have seen in putting out this incredible report has completely undercut the organization's credibility.

HUNTER: Consumers Union, which publishes "Consumer Reports" magazine, tests more than 3,100 products a year, most in its own labs and testing sites. This time it didn't.

WEINE: The most important thing is it's held to the same standards as everything else that's published in "Consumer Reports."

HUNTER: The magazine insists it serves only one master.

WEINE: "Consumer Reports" takes no ads. We are completely unbiased. We do not allow marketers to use our name in their own advertisements. We have one constituent and that is consumers.


HUNTER: Well, CNN had many questions for "Consumer Reports," such as did you have somebody at the test site supervising? Are you going to change the way you do your magazine and include comments from manufacturers, especially when they do poorly, and all the spokesman would say over and over again is they were doing an investigation and they don't have any more information at this time. Soledad, Miles, back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: When do they wrap up this investigation and to come out so strongly and then it turns out to have shunted it off to another group to actually do it, just seems a little surprising to me.

HUNTER: Well, what is surprising is that they let that issue get back and they retracted it, because they do have a sterling reputation. They've done a lot of good and I'm sure they're going to sort it out and they'll tell us when they're ready.

S. O'BRIEN: We'll be ready to hear them when they're ready. Greg Hunter for us this morning. Thank you, Greg. Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, dear diary, once again today I managed to do absolutely nothing at work and fool my bosses by typing these very words or so she thought. We'll tell you the tale of the gold bricker who wrote herself out the door. The most news in the morning right here.


M. O'BRIEN: If I've told you once, I've told you 1,000 times, be careful what you write on your work computer. It's 55 minutes past the hour (INAUDIBLE)

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. This is the story for everyone who is just saying nobody is paying attention. An Iowa woman who was basically fired for keeping a journal at work, but she -- the more important part of this is that she's been denied now by the government for unemployment benefits and the reason why because the 24-year-old worked as a sales coordinator at a Sheraton hotel in Des Moines. Well, she was keeping a journal during work hours. First she was keeping it on paper and they told her to stop that, so then she started keeping it on the work computer. 300 pages, single spaced, all at the work computer. She went on to say there -- she wrote, this typing thing seems to be doing the trick. It looks like I am hard at work on something very important.

S. O'BRIEN: Tell me...

ELAM: She's 25. She is 25.

S. O'BRIEN: She's too old for that.

ELAM: Too old for that.

M. O'BRIEN: I think there's a book or something going on here.


ELAM: In fact, let me read this other quote for you. You can actually read along with me. I am only here for the money. I haven't really accomplished anything in a long while and I'm still getting paid more than I ever have at a job before, with less to do than I have ever had before. It's actually quite nice when I think of it that way. I can shop online, play games and read message boards and still get paid for it. And in all of that, she did write in her journal that hopefully one day she would get published.

S. O'BRIEN: Here she is being published.

ELAM: And without money, without help. You think she's working toward the book. Miles, do you think this was all planned?

M. O'BRIEN: If so, she's doing a pretty good job of it.

ELAM: You probably should not write in your journal how you're trying to avoid working. That would probably be a good idea.

S. O'BRIEN: She sounds dumb as a stump to me. That's my personal opinion.

M. O'BRIEN: I was going to say we should try to book her. I guess not anymore.

ELAM: She needs a job, so she might come.

S. O'BRIEN: (INAUDIBLE) You interview her, not me.

Coming up at the top of the hour, Chad Myers at the CNN weather center. What's the big weather story you're watching, Chad?

MYERS: A little bit of natural snow at some of the ski resorts that have been so dry all week and all season long, finally getting a little bit. Not as much as they would like, but a big shot of cold air for the end of the week, the coldest air of the season so far. They'll be making snow even if it's not falling out of the sky. That snow, though, going through Albany, making a couple of slick spots on the thruway, not getting down to New York City but there is a chance that we could see a couple of snowflakes in the sky around New York in the next hour or two. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you Chad. Breaking news this morning, a pair of bombings in central Baghdad. The military is investigating a new insurgent tactic, gunmen disguised as American soldiers.

M. O'BRIEN: Into the mind of an alleged kidnapper. Michael Devlin breaks his silence during a jailhouse interview. His lawyers are furious.

S. O'BRIEN: Sold for a terrific cause. CNN's specialized Hummer hits the auction block and fetches a Hummer size bid. We're going to meet the man who drove it home.

M. O'BRIEN: And debuting at Sundance, the political, the personal, the messages found at America's most influential film festival on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody, Monday, January 22nd. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you're with us. We begin in Iraq and more bloodshed today after a very violent weekend. At least 75 killed in a pair of bombings in central Baghdad this morning. Also new this morning, a new number, 27, that's the number of Americans killed in Iraq just this weekend, 25 of them on Saturday. And a fresh U.S. brigade is arriving in Baghdad now, 3,200 soldiers leading the buildup of forces ordered by President Bush.

A massive investigation underway this morning in Iraq after a daring Trojan horse attack on a U.S. military outpost in Karbala, south of Baghdad. Thirty gunmen wearing U.S. military garb driving in a convoy of seven SUVs talked their way past three checkpoints at a U.S. Iraqi compound. Once inside, they started firing, targeting U.S. soldiers, killing at least five. CNN's Michael Holmes live from Baghdad with more. Michael.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, hard to believe, isn't it? Yeah, brazen attack, also unprecedented. We can't remember anything like this happening in the past. What was happening in Karbala was there was a security meeting going on in what was meant to be a secure compound. U.S. and Iraqi officials discussing security arrangements for pilgrims arriving for a shura (ph). That's major Shia religious event. You can see from the air this compound, a few buildings, a big parking area, and the roads around it had checkpoints on them.