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American Morning

Deadly Day: 9 Soldiers From Fort Bragg Killed in Iraq; War Funding Bill; Wildfire Roaring Through Southeast Georgia

Aired April 24, 2007 - 08:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. It is Tuesday, April 24th.
I'm Kiran Chetry, here in New York.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good morning to you, Kiran.

I'm John Roberts, here in Washington, where we've got a full slate of business today. In fact, all week really busy in the Capitol this week.

CHETRY: Yes, it sure has been.

And we have some stories on our radar this morning as we talk about the nine paratroopers killed. All of them are from Ft. Bragg.

Our Rusty Dornin is there right now, and in a little while we're going to hear from her about what the community is doing and saying this morning in light of the terrible news that they received.

And we're also going to be talking with Congressman John Murtha this morning. Well, we heard from him. We're also going to be talking with Senator Jon Kyl, as well. Two very different opinions on the Iraq war funding -- John.

ROBERTS: All right.

So, you got the crackberry? All right. Has it totally invaded your life, taken over everything? You text while you're at the restaurant, you text while you're on the toilet?

Do you text while you are driving? Bad idea.

You know, there are some reports that the fellow who was driving the vehicle that Jon Corzine was in may have been receiving a text message at 91 miles an hour when that crash occurred.

Alina Cho is taking a look at all of this. Apparently, there are some states that are thinking of making it a crime to text, which, of course, is going to affect me, because I do it all the time.

CHETRY: While you're driving?

ROBERTS: While I'm driving.

CHETRY: Bad, bad, bad. ROBERTS: Bad, bad, bad.

CHETRY: All right. And Alina Cho is going to tell us a little bit more about why. I think she might be giving us a demonstration on that.

Also, you know him as the overnight celebrity, of course, John, because we talked to him yesterday, in fact, the YouTube guy, the cell phone guy, as he is being known as right now. Ryan Fitzgerald, he's going to be joining us live. We heard from him first here yesterday, and he's going to tell us about some of these thousands of phone calls he's received after putting his number on YouTube. Some of them cool, he says, some of them a little bit crazy.

ROBERTS: It's an amazing story. That kid has been getting thousands and thousands of phone calls.

CHETRY: He sure has.

ROBERTS: It will be good to check back in with him and see where he is today.

We're going to begin in Iraq. The single deadliest attack on American ground forces in Iraq since August of '05. Nine Americans killed.

They were killed at a patrol base northeast of Baghdad in Diyala Province. Twenty others were wounded. All of them from the Army's 82nd Airborne based at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

That's where CNN's Rusty Dornin is this morning. She joins us now live.

Rusty, just a terrible day down there at Ft. Bragg.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, as you said, it's the worst single incident, loss of life, for the 82nd Airborne, as well, for their operations in Iraq and in Afghanistan in the last five years. Now, all of the troops were from Ft. Bragg, but not all the families live here.

Only three of the families live here, and the family notification teams went out about 4:30 yesterday afternoon to tell the families about what happened in Iraq. And the unit leaders here say this is devastating news.


MAJ. TOM EARNHARDT, U.S. ARMY: This is the worst incident we've had in the whole global war on terrorism. We're coping, paratroopers have an indominable spirit. Our families tend to adopt that same spirit, and, you know, it's time to band together. And we'll hug and we'll cry and we'll get through it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DORNIN: And the way they do that is they send out these notification teams. They're followed up by what they call family assistance teams. They have help with the funeral, counselors, that sort of thing, to help these families cope with their loss.

Now, we don't know as yet if all of the families have been notified. We're supposed to find out within the hour whether that has happened or not, but Ft. Bragg officials are saying they are not going to be having any kind of press conference from the base here about what happened. So, anything that would come out would come from the Pentagon -- John.

ROBERTS: You know, when we talked to Major Earnhardt this morning, Rusty, he said that despite what happened in Diyala yesterday, they still believe in the mission. And that really sort of does reflect the philosophy of the 82nd Airborne. They didn't cut their teeth, they didn't make their reputation on taking easy assignments, did they?

DORNIN: No. And I think when you talk about what these men were doing, they were Calvary scouts. And as they put it, they go in, they grab the enemy by the nose, and they turn around and they run back hoping the enemy will chase them back into the other troops.

So, what they are doing is very dangerous. They're out with the Iraqi police, they're in those police stations. There is not a lot of protection around them.

They're not in the Green Zone. They're not behind, you know, any kind of embattlement. So, they're really taking a lot of risks out there doing their job. And a very horrible incident here that's devastating to the troops.

ROBERTS: Certainly our hearts go out to all the families of the soldiers who were killed. Just a -- as we said, a terrible day there in Ft. Bragg.

Rusty, thanks very much for that.

It's getting tense here in Washington as Congress as President Bush prepare for a head-on collision over funding for the Iraq war. The president promising yesterday that he's going to veto the bill that Congress will likely be sending his way in the next few days. One requiring a phased pullout of U.S. troops. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck back at the president.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: In describing his escalation of American troops, what he calls a surge, he further said, "So far, the operation is meeting expectations." The White House transcript says the president made those remarks in the state of Michigan. I believe he made them in the state of denial.


ROBERTS: Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash is up on Capitol Hill. She joins us now live with the latest on this fight.

Dana, what is it that the Democrats agreed yesterday to send the president later this week?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a $124 billion emergency spending bill, John. And it has a requirement in it that troops start coming home in October.

Now, this is going to be largely a symbolic move, because as you said, the president has already said he is going to veto this. But Democrats say the symbolism is necessary in this case, because they want to show that Congress is going to stand up to the president, and they also believe, as Congressman John Murtha said to you this morning on AMERICAN MORNING, that the bottom line is the military strategy going on in Iraq now is not working.


REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I think the surge has failed. I think there was no possibility that it was going to work. I think the British had 130,000 people there 50 years ago, and -- well, it was 80 years ago, and they only 2.5 million people in Iraq.


BASH: Now, Murtha also called this policy a failed policy wrapped in an illusion that can't be won militarily.

Now, the man in charge of that military mission, General David Petraeus, is going to be here on Capitol Hill this week, pleading for patience from members of Congress, but Democrats are already saying no -- John.

ROBERTS: Well, what about that, Dana, that he's going to be up there making his case, and as Congressman Murtha seemed to indicate this morning, the Democrats have already written him off after they unanimously confirmed him for the position?

BASH: It's kind of remarkable, John. John Murtha, as you said, mentioned that. I talked to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, yesterday, asked him, "When David Petraeus comes to you and says that he believe, at least in some parts of Iraq, the surge is working, will you believe him?" He said absolutely not.

You know, in some cases they simply say -- for example, in the case of David Petraeus, that perhaps in this particular instance he is telling -- this is what the Senate majority leader said. He is telling the president, members of Congress, what they want to hear, perhaps, instead of what they really should hear.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, I know that you're going to keep watching very closely all of those meetings between the Democrats and the general.

Dana Bash, thanks very much.

BASH: Thank you.

ROBERTS: We've got an update for you this morning. Remember when our Sean Callebs was standing on that huge pile of peanuts yesterday, part of the original war spending bill, some of the pork that was laden in that bill? Well, House and Senate negotiators on Monday pulled the pork.

They cut the bacon, they stripped out the fat, they took out that additional $74 million for peanut storage. They also took out funding for spinach, Christmas tree farms, and some other non-war-related issues. All tossed out.

Kiran, they're really trying to answer their critics there by saying, who, pork, us? No, forget about it.

CHETRY: Right. And Sean Callebs talked about, though, the need is great for these farmers who have come to depend on that for decades now. So...

ROBERTS: Yes. But I think what they're saying is it's not necessarily in a war bill.

CHETRY: That's right. That got a little bit of attention, and perhaps some people were a little bit embarrassed by where it was thrown in.

Meantime, a toxic cloud of ammonia has people out of their homes in northern Illinois this morning. It began leaking last night in the town of Seward, Illinois, near Rockford. Ten people had to go to the hospital. They complained of having trouble breathing.

Residents in Seward are still evacuated from town this morning. People in two other towns near Rockford are clear to come home.

And it's a stubborn wildfire that is still roaring through southeast Georgia right now. It's only 50 percent contained. It's been burning for the last week, sparked by a fallen power line.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Sean Callebs is in Waycross, Georgia, right now, with more on why it's been so difficult for the firefighters to get this one under control.

Hi, Sean.


Exactly, this has been a very, very difficult fire for individuals to deal with. Let me just show you the ground.

It is bone dry. You can just see some of the ash here. It is a crystal clear day, but you couldn't tell because of all the smoke in this area. It has eaten through some 56,000 acres.

Want to get back in here and show you what really is a huge problem. This is a very large stump. Down there you can see it is burning intensely and has been throughout the evening. Sparks are kicking up, and they are igniting wildfires throughout the evening. And that has been a very, very ongoing problem for the 500 firefighters on this line.


CALLEBS (voice over): Bone dry, south Georgia is burning.

NICKIE JORDAN, CHIEF RANGER, GEORGIA FOREST COMMISSION: If you can keep it inside the control line and the fuel is burned out, we're ahead of the game.

CALLEBS: After more than a week, some 56,000 acres of mostly pine forest has been consumed by flames. At a time (ph), this is what the fire looked like in space, smoke enveloping a wide swathe.

CHRISTY FULLARD, LOST HOME IN FIRE: I still thought something would be here, something.

CALLEBS: This is the harsh reality on the ground for the Fullard family.

FULLARD: You can see the frame and everything. I mean, we knew, you know, there was nothing left. And that's when it was the hardest.

CALLEBS: Their home of 10 years simply gone. Forced to evacuate twice as flames threatened, Christy, her husband, Robin, have three children and one on the way. They escaped with only the clothes on their back. A lifetime of photos and heirlooms passed down through the generations all in ashes.

Eighteen homes, some vacant, destroyed by this, the largest forest fire in the state in more than half a century. This inaccessibility has also worked against crews who have been fighting the fire from above and on the ground with bulldozers carving fire breaks.

JORDAN: We go four steps forward and come back two. It's been slow progress, but we're making good progress now.


CALLEBS: It's interesting, because the firefighters talk about the four steps forward, two steps back. Well, here's part of the problem.

As these flames kick in to dry areas and start other fires, we've had a report in, say, the last 15 or so minutes, there is a significant fire about a mile from where we are now. You can see right now some of the heavy equipment is moving to that area. They're going to try to get that under control. But look how smoky this road is. I mean, this is one of the well-traveled roads in this rural area, and things they thought were getting a lot better, but it looks like it's going to be another long day here -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, it certainly does. And you can see the smoke and everything behind you. Thanks a lot, Sean.

Well, the town is called Protection, Kansas, but was there any protection from this massive tornado? We're going to show you coming up.

Also, Chad Myers has a look at your extreme weather outlook.

And the mayor of San Francisco rolling out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants. We're going to talk with CNN's Lou Dobbs about it, the man who gave us the phrase "broken borders".

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.


ROBERTS: Got a really great story coming up for you in just a few minutes here.

Ryan Fitzgerald, Kiran, who is this kid? Why is he so important?

CHETRY: The YouTube cell phone guy. That's what he's known as right now, right?

He put a little thing out on YouTube saying, hey, if you need to talk, call me. Since then, 5,000 people have called.

You had a chance to talk to him yesterday.

ROBERTS: We did. And the little interview that Jacki Schechner and I did with him yesterday has been the most popular video on CNN for the last 24 hours.

He's going to be there in the studio with you. It will be great to see him. You can ask him all these questions about why he did what he did.

CHETRY: He's spawning copycats, and now people are actually videotaping their calls to him and putting that on YouTube. It's a crazy world.

ROBERTS: Well, he's the original, though.

CHETRY: He is.

ROBERTS: So we're glad to have him.

Hey, the most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

And take a look at this. Spectacular video just in this morning of a twister touching down near the town of Protection, Kansas. Not a whole lot of protection for that town yesterday, though.

Near the Oklahoma border, the funnel is so perfectly formed, take a look at that. It's almost elegant.

Awesome as it is, though, luckily this twister caused no damage. But there's a possibility of more damage today.

Sixteen minutes after the hour, Chad Myers in the severe weather center.


CHETRY: Well, it's not the first time that the mayor of San Francisco has taken a stand against the federal government. First he was allowing gay marriages, before that was stopped. And now Mayor Gavin Newsom says that city employers will no longer help the agents enforce the nation's immigration laws.

Let's listen.


MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM, SAN FRANCISCO: We don't cooperate. We're a sanctuary city. We don't cooperate with the federal government as it relates to these raids, and we work to raise awareness that we are a sanctuary city, one of a number in the United States.


CHETRY: Well, as you can imagine, that has gotten under the skin of CNN's Lou Dobbs, host of "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" and author of the "War on the Middle Class".

He joins me this morning.

It's great to see you this morning.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Good to be with you, Kiran.

CHETRY: He almost said that we want to advertise that we're a sanctuary city.

DOBBS: Well, Mayor Newsom is -- you know, he thinks he's running the republic of San Francisco, apparently. He doesn't so much get under my skin as I find the little fellow amusing.

CHETRY: You find him amusing?

DOBBS: Absolutely.

CHETRY: But here's what he said, though. I mean, San Francisco has been an illegal alien sanctuary city since the late '80s, right?

DOBBS: Right.

CHETRY: But it seems that it's more of an escalation of the open defiance to the federal law. Why now? Why is he coming out with this now?

DOBBS: I have no idea. My guess is it has something to do with local politics, because the fact is, the 1996 immigration law absolutely prohibits sanctuary for illegal aliens. And the fact that he's doing this is some -- is an absurdity.

There are about 50 communities in the United States that do this, Kiran. Each of them is violating the law. And the fact that the federal government isn't stopping them or in some way responding suggests to you clearly as it can be, as if we needed more evidence, that this government, this administration is absolutely committed to open borders, amnesty for illegal aliens, and they don't give a hoot about the law.

CHETRY: One of the things that Gavin Newsom was saying in why he's doing it now was because there were many legal immigrants who happened to be Hispanic who are feeling fear, they say.


DOBBS: He's full of it. He's absolutely -- he's BS'ing through his nose.

The fact is, he's trying to confuse the distinction between lawful immigrants. We bring in over two million lawful immigrants into this country a year. We're the most socially, ethnically diverse, racially diverse nation on the face of the earth. We bring in more immigrants than the rest of the world combined, legally.

This is about illegal immigration. This is about pandering. And it is about refusing to enforce law, just as George Bush and this administration and, frankly, this Congress, are intent upon.

CHETRY: You know, it's interesting. I was wondering whether or not Newsom's words could actually backfire against him. He's bringing increased attention on illegal immigrants. And it could actually draw more attention to the federal government.

DOBBS: Well, he doesn't have to worry too much about that, I think. I mean, your point is exact, but the truth is, ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, doesn't have enough agents to enforce immigration law.

We are letting a million illegal aliens across the border, still, despite the president's P.R. stunt of putting 6,000 National Guardsmen on the border, despite talking about raising border patrol. The fact is, we're watching wages decline in every industry where everybody's trying -- the open borders advocates are saying that there is a shortage, there's actually a decline in wages.

The impact is serious, and the American people are too smart. They've seen this game played now for years, and they've had a belly full.

CHETRY: Yes. According to the polling, they do want something done, and they're hoping that this Congress will take action.

DOBBS: And they want border security first. I mean, after all, there are a lot of reasons.

Most marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine all originating in Mexico, the majority of it. We're not stopping that. Potential terrorists crossing a porous border. This administration talks about homeland security, the politics of fear, yet won't even secure the borders or the ports.

CHETRY: Lou Dobbs, thank you.

DOBBS: Great to be with you, Kiran.

CHETRY: Glad you could join us this morning.

DOBBS: Thank you.

CHETRY: And as a reminder, we want to let people know, be sure to catch "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT". It's every night here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time right here on CNN.

Lou, thank you.

DOBBS: Good to be with you.

CHETRY: Well, he's the guy who put his phone number up on YouTube. He said, hey, call me if you feel you need to talk about anything. Well, he is here with us and he still wants to hear from you.

Ryan, you have your phone? Hold it up for us.

Ryan Fitzgerald, he's live. Call him. It's a call-in show next on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Well, if you had the time and the right cell phone plan, would you consider posting your phone number on YouTube? You know, just to talk to people. Maybe hear what they have to say.

Well, we introduced you to Ryan Fitzgerald on Monday, the 20- year-old from the Boston area who is asking people to give him a ring. Well, thousands and thousands of rings later he is here with us now. And we first introduced you yesterday to our audience.

Thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: A lot of fascination with this. And we're letting his phone ring, actually, so that we can see just how many times you're getting calls.

You said the second you hit...

FITZGERALD: The second I hit end it goes right to voice mail. So...

CHETRY: And then somebody calls you again. FITZGERALD: And somebody calls me again.

CHETRY: That's another phone call.

FITZGERALD: That's another phone call.

CHETRY: So we've just had three in the couple seconds we've been talking.


CHETRY: All right. So, at this point, it's up to 9,000. Who are the people that are calling you?

FITZGERALD: I've had -- actually, before I just walked in here I had a woman who was talking to me about trying to get custody of her kids, what she could do to -- how to get custody of her 15-year-old and 17-year-old kid, and that she had been abused and all this stuff, and asking me what she could do better to try to get custody of her kids. And I tried to give her...

CHETRY: So what did you tell her?

FITZGERALD: I just told her -- I said -- she's not familiar with the law, so she didn't know that her 17-year-old does have the choice to go with mom or dad. She didn't know that. But the 15 and the 13- year-old actually don't.

CHETRY: How did you know that?

FITZGERALD: I just -- that's what a lot of people ask me. Half the calls I get, people say, how do you know this stuff?

It's just I self-teach myself. Everything I have ever learned, it's just based on experience, life experience. I check it out online. I'm just one of those people who likes to teach myself my own stuff.

CHETRY: Well, have you met anyone that wants to date you?

FITZGERALD: I've met a lot of people on here that would consider hanging out and stuff, but based on some of the calls I've gotten, I'm kind of hesitant about hanging out with people, just because I have gotten some pretty nasty phone calls.

CHETRY: And we're going to check in with you a little bit later, but quickly, you regretting this decision?

FITZGERALD: Not at all, never.

CHETRY: You're not regretting this decision.

FITZGERALD: Not at all.

CHETRY: OK. Well, you've actually spawned some copycats as well, Ryan. FITZGERALD: Oh, really?

CHETRY: There are people that are now saying, if Ryan's phone is busy, call me. So we're going to check in with you in a couple more minutes.

FITZGERALD: All right.

CHETRY: Thanks, Ryan.

FITZGERALD: No problem.

CHETRY: Meantime, 26 minutes past the hour. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business".

Now, he's a perfect example. You cannot text while driving...


CHETRY: ... and he can't answer the phone.

VELSHI: Yes. I'm not posting my number on there, but I have got a question for Ryan. And that' is, what's up with the "Spider-Man 3" thing?

I don't know, Kiran. Do you ever buy tickets in advance for a movie? Maybe I'll do it the day of.

"Spider-Man 3" comes out on May 4th. All right? At this point it is now outpacing -- the sales of the online tickets -- the ahead of time tickets for "Spider-Man 3" are now outpacing "Spider-Man 2" 3-1 at the same time ahead of the opening of this movie.

"Spider-Man 2," if you'll recall in 2004, was the third highest grossing film of the year, bringing in about $784 million at the box office. Some folks are thinking that this might be the last installment, this Spidey 3, although I can't imagine if they're making this kind of money why it would be the last installment. But it could kick off a big summer of movies.

We've got "Shrek 3," "Pirates 3," and a whole bunch of movies. So, if you need your tickets to "Spider-Man 3," particularly if you want it for the opening, get them now. About a dozen theaters for the midnight opening are already sold out.

John, if you need them, knock yourself out.

ROBERTS: You know, I want to go to see that. I don't necessarily know that I want to go in the first few days, though, considering all of the people that have been buying tickets. But definitely a movie I want to check out.

VELSHI: Very few movies I would need to -- I would need to struggle to see, but it will be a good movie in the end.

ROBERTS: Yes, it should be good. It looks interesting with that dark-light side of Peter Parker.


ROBERTS: Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI: All right.

ROBERTS: Do you have a question about the news, the stories we cover, or how we cover them? We're launching a new segment that we call "Ask AM" -- "Ask AMERICAN MORNING.

E-mail us, send us your questions or suggestions,

First question this morning from Lyzz.

She's asking, "What ever happened to that guy jailed to contain his tuberculosis?"

We brought you that story a few weeks ago, you might remember. His name is Robert Daniels, being quarantined in a jail in Arizona because he's sick with a highly contagious form of tuberculosis.

Some questioned whether he deserved to be treated like a prisoner instead of a patient. Well, Lyzz, after we got your e-mail, we called the jail and confirmed that he is still there receiving treatment in the hospital ward, still in isolation. But he does have a television and access to a telephone.

Any time that you've got a question about the stories that we cover, or any general question about anything going on in the world, you'd like a little more information, e-mail us at "Ask AM".

Coming up, you got the crackberry, right? Should you use it while you're driving? It might be hard to resist, checking your phone or BlackBerry while you're on the road. But some states want to make it a law to keep your eyes off the crackberry on the road. We'll show you how they're sending a message of their own.

And cleaning up rap lyrics. Hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons has got a plan. He joins us live coming up to talk about it.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.



ROBERTS: Congress could begin voting tomorrow on the $124 billion war-spending bill, which orders a phased pullout of U.S. troops. All of it sets up a showdown with President Bush. Joining us now to talk about it is Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Senator Kyl, thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate it. First of all, what's your impression of the bill that the Democrats have crafted and will be handing to the president later on this week?

SEN. JON KYL, (R), ARIZONA: Well, in some respects it's worse than the original bill because it still has deadlines and times for pullouts. In fact, it doesn't matter whether the Iraqis meet the benchmarks that are set forth in the bill or not, we still have to begin pulling out our troops in October, and the goal is to have them out by next year.

So it's the first time I know of in the middle of a war that a country just announces that on a specific date it's walking off the battlefield.

ROBERTS: Congressman John Murtha joined us a little earlier this morning, senator. I asked him if he thought that the surge had failed or if there were some signs of progress. Here's what he said in response to that. Take a listen.


REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I think the surge has failed. I think there was no possibility that it was going to work. I think the British had 130,000 people there 20 -- 50 years ago -- well, it was 80 years ago, and they only had 2.5 million people in Iraq.


ROBERTS: Senator Kyl, do you agree? Has the surge failed?

KYL: Well, he's looking back 50 or 80 years ago. I'm not sure which.

General Petraeus is going to be here tomorrow. I suggest that my colleagues, this time, come to the meeting where General Petraeus will be there to brief us and tell us what he thinks is happening on the ground. After all, he's the one we sent over there, confirmed unanimously, to carry out the mission.

Also, bear in mind that only about half of the additional troops that we are going to be sending to Baghdad and Anbar province have actually arrived. So I think it's a little premature to say that it's failed. I mean, it's almost as if Americans want to say that we're failing before our troops have a chance to get the job done.

ROBERTS: General Petraeus has said that he won't know if it's working or not until the middle part of August. Do you think that's a fair timetable for him to ask for?

KYL: Yes, I do. I was there about six weeks ago, and there were already some early signs of success. But, as he said, you're going to have bad days and you're going to have good days.

And I would mention, by the way, your report about a bad day yesterday with nine Americans being killed. And by whom? By a group affiliated with al Qaeda. Much of this is still al Qaeda-inspired violence.

Senator Kyl, Congressman Murtha also said that he thought that if American troops pulled out, that the Iraqis will begin to work things out, that Iraq will actually begin to stabilize itself. Do you agree with that?

KYL: I don't know of anybody that agrees with that. I think almost everybody who knows the situation predicts a massacre, a civil war on a very large scale with perhaps millions, certainly hundreds of thousands, of innocent people being killed. That blood will be on our hands, to some extent, if we don't try to set up the Iraqi government in the best possible way to have security and stability before we leave.

ROBERTS: We had your colleague Senator Collins of Maine on yesterday. I asked her this question -- I said, if General Petraeus can't fix the problems in Iraq, is there any reason to keep trying? Here's what she told me.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: If General Petraeus concludes that this does not work, then I think all options are on the table, including a significant, but gradual withdrawal next year.


ROBERTS: So, Senator Kyl, if Petraeus can't get the job done by the middle of August, do you give up, or do you try plan b, plan c?

KYL: John, you know, with all due respect, I'll ask a different question. What if it does work? You've had the Majority Leader Harry Reid say the war is already lost. What if it does work? I suggest that my Democratic colleagues just think about the possibility that it might work.

Now, they may be disappointed politically, but they ought be to very happy for our troops and for our cause, and the American people will be safer as a result. Who knows what will happen after August and September of this year. But let's that it works and let's give it a chance.

ROBERTS: Was that a Freudian slip, Senator Kyl? You called him "Senator Rude?"

KYL: Senator Reid. It was certainly a Freudian slip if I said anything other than Senator Reid.

ROBERTS: All right, Senator Jon Kyl, chairman of the Republican Conference, thanks. Appreciate it.

KYL: You bet.

ROBERTS: Kiran? CHETRY: Yes, it's early. You know, those type of things happen. You need two or three cups of coffee.

Well, coming up, both hands on the wheel, put down the BlackBerry or the cell phone if you're texting. Some states want to make it a law to keep your eyes on the road. They're going to show you how they're sending a message of their own.

Also, hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons has a plan for you, and for rap music as a whole. He's joining us live in the studio, next on AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning, here on CNN.



CHETRY: And joining us here in the studio right now is hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons, the author of "Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success."

You are very excited about your new book this morning. What is it, top 10 on Amazon.

RUSSELL SIMMONS, HIP-HOP PIONEER: Top 10. It's number, I think, six, and it came out today. So I'm very excited about the response to the book.

CHETRY: What did you -- you say it's a culmination of everything you learned in your life. Tell us some of the highlights.

SIMMONS: Well, the books is about accessing the power in you through connecting to your core. The unity inside all of us that allows us to -- we talk about these laws of attraction, all these secrets, but the secrets are only good when you know the highest self. And the book is about using that to attract whatever it is you want in the universe. And so I'm very excited about it. It's got tremendous insight. It's not my own insight only. I mean, whatever's in the Bible, and the Koran, the Torah and Yoga Sutras is truthful. You know, it's not something that is -- lots of time people forget. And to remember these truths, you know, the fact that you have the power to get whatever it is that you imagine, and that's what the book's about.

CHETRY: How did you get what you wanted out of life? Because You really are a success story with not only your background in hip- hop, but also moving on into clothing and yoga even.

SIMMONS: Well, the film, and television, and financial service and jewelry companies, and all these companies, the imagination is God itself, and the fact is hard work, dedication, focus and faith allow you access to everything. And so I believe even when you don't know the laws of attraction, you're operating under them. So that truth is something that's discussed quite a bit in the book, and it's tremendous success so far.

CHETRY: Absolutely, top 10 on Amazon, it is, "Do You!," by Russell Simmons.

Let me ask you about this, because you also in charge of the Hip- Hop Action Network. You talked about coming up with a standardized way to clean up some of the lyrics in rap music. You want words like the 'b' word, the 'n' word and hos to be out of songs that young kids are listening to.

SIMMONS: No, I think that the artists deserve to write and paint a picture of society, whatever that picture is. Sometimes it's offensive, but they deserve to write to express themselves. The suggestion is that on the airwaves, we clean these words up. In other words, Snoop even said he doesn't want his mother and children to hear those words. He's an adult artist. And the pictures that we paint of our society, just like your news shows, are not always pretty. The fact is we live in a misogynistic, sexist, racist and violent society. The rappers are certainly not as sexist as their parents. They're not as violent as the choices that we make with government. They're not as homophobic certainly as the previous generation. And they would never talk about racist subjects, because they're not as racist as their parents.

But the records that are truthful are reflections of our sad truth. And that truth, it needs to be looked at and we need to change it. We need to change -- in other words, the reflections of the dirt are good, but breaking the mirrors will not help us and, so it's very important that we recognize. When Camron said the code of the street -- the other day he was on "60 Minutes." And it was a horrible story. Whoever skewed it so poorly. He said it was the code of the streets not to talk to the police. The disconnect between police and community is something we have to work on. He didn't say it was a code of rap.

CHETRY: Getting back to lyrics and getting back the images that young kids are seeing, these guys are their role models. Nelly is their role model. When they see the images of women in bikinis and the guys with diamonds, is the focus on the materialistic and the sexual when maybe it should be on something else for the kids?

SIMMONS: What hypocrites we are. The idea that that a bikini is new or that the sexism that we exude -- do you watch "Cops" and every time you turn it on somebody is beating their wife? Do we ever discuss the misogyny in our society in a meaningful way. My last chapter in "Do You!" we did discuss to tell the truth to power. Lots of times the sophisticates are so good to rationalize their existence when they bomb the innocent people or when they enslave...


CHETRY: We're getting away from the topic right now, because -- the Hip-Hop Action network brought it up, right? You guys are saying you want to clean up these songs on the radio.

SIMMONS: Well, I think that the public airwaves and people who are listening to mainstream radio and television deserve to hear language that they expect; they don't need to hear these words.

CHETRY: Right.

SIMMONS: I don't believe that because we don't want children to hear bad words or because we're afraid of children watching the news, that the news shouldn't come out. So I respect and protect the artist and the First Amendment rights, but at the same time I'm always concerned about what children, my children, hear.

CHETRY: Right. So do you feel like you're straddling a tough line right now, in terms of the hip-hop community?

SIMMONS: No. I don't think the artists care one bit. It's not about the artists; it's about corporate responsibility.

CHETRY: So you're saying it's on the shoulders of the corporations and the radio stations to edit those out, but there's no onus on the artist to maybe think twice about what they're saying.

SIMMONS: They all should take personal responsibility, but throughout society every -- always the poets have been under fire for telling the truth. And just because we're all a sheep. Poets look inside in our conscious of the hypocrite critical behavior of the adults, and especially the young ones here, or the powers that go to work that are rigid and don't listen to themselves or their own hearts. Poets listen to their own hearts, and they tell you the truth when you have dirt. And the dirt offends you, but it's your dirt.

CHETRY: So do you think of things like the 'n' word, the 'b' word and 'hos' as poetry?

SIMMONS: Oh, I think that they're the reflections of our reality. And the 'n' word is in so many great American classics and the poetry. These are a description; these are paintings. They have a right to use -- they have poetic license. They're supposed to use whatever words inspire them or tell the story they're telling, and we're supposed to protect those rights.

But at the same time, we should protect the ears of the young ones and the people who don't -- are not interested in that language or anything. In fact, if you don't like a rap record, you don't have to buy it. But if you turn on the mainstream airwaves and you don't like some of the words. There are seven words that we can't use. I'm suggest that the hip-hop community go ahead of your mainstream shows, where you use the 'b' word and the 'h' word, on every other mainstream channel. We'll take the lead. We'll take those words out of our lyrics for radio and television, and then maybe you can clean up the "Ellen Degeneres," all the mainstream shows. I didn't mean her only , but everybody says "bitch" on television. But we want to take it out of our words because we know the pain of the African-American community.

CHETRY: All right, well, that's the first time we used it today on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: That's right. SIMMONS: But you used "ho" earlier. You did. I heard you.

CHETRY: As a quote.

SIMMONS: All right. Well, we want to get those words out of mainstream radio and mainstream television.

CHETRY: And it's because someone is in trouble today for calling a group of women and minority police officers the 'h' word.

SIMMONS: Yes, but the thing is, the rappers never exude -- in fact, they're the best thing we have for race relations. When you turn on MTV you see this great immigration. When Run got on MTV there were no blacks at all, except Michael Jackson, so...

CHETRY: Yes. And we do watch his show, "Run's House." I know it well.

Russell Simmons, we are out of time.

SIMMONS: Thank you so much.

CHETRY: You got more time than you thought you were going to get, though, today.

SIMMONS: "Do You!."

CHETRY: Author of "Do You!." Yes, it's the 10 right now on Amazon.

And, Russell, thanks for stopping by. You're always fascinating to talk to, for sure.

SIMMONS: Thank you. Thank you so much.

CHETRY: Coming up, we're going to check in with Ryan Fitzgerald. He's the guy who put his phone number up on YouTube. He's been taking your calls. He's been getting a lot of them actually. So stay with us.

Ryan, smile. You're on set, right? You only got two hours of sleep. You've still got to smile.


ROBERTS: "CNN NEWSROOM" just minutes away. Betty Nguyen at CNN Center with a look at what's ahead.

Hey, Betty.


We have got these stories coming up on the "CNN NEWSROOM" rundown. They were members of the 82nd Airborne, nine soldiers based at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina killed by suicide bombers in Iraq. Also the rescue of Private Jessica lynch at the star of the Iraq War, a mission that didn't go down as the military initially described it. Congress hears from Lynch this morning. You can see it live.

And a wildfire shutting down schools in one south Georgia community for a whole week now. We have a live update for you.

Tony Harris joins me in the NEWSROOM. That is at the top of the hour right here on CNN -- John.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to it. Thanks very much, Betty.

We want to go back to Kiran now and check in on Ryan Fitzgerald.

And, Kiran, yesterday you gave me that phone number to call, 867- 5309. I'm not keep getting Ryan; I keep getting this woman named Jenny.

CHETRY: And does she ask you who do you turn to.

Hold on, I'm going to answer one of his calls.


Oh, you're calling for Ryan. Ryan's on live TV right now, actually on CNN's AMERICAN MORNING. Let me get him for you. Hold on.


CHETRY: This has been happening to Ryan every second of the day, he says, John, 24 hours a day since he put his phone call on YouTube.

FITZGERALD: Jane Hicks, and she's just telling me that she's a big supporter, and she wants me to give me her call and talk to her because she appreciates what I'm doing.

CHETRY: This is the type of thing he's been getting. I mean, people that were strangers before are now calling Ryan, in fact, to the point where he's actually spawned some copycats, John. There's another guy saying if Ryan's phone's busy, call me, call Sean.

ROBERTS: Has he gotten any proposals of marriage yet, because that usually happens?

CHETRY: Have you gotten any marriage proposals.

FITZGERALD: No, I haven't yet.

I'll talk to you later, all right? I will, I'll remember. All right. Bye.

ROBERTS: Get off the phone.

CHETRY: This is what's happening to him. Ryan, how come you're not sleeping? You told me a little bit earlier that you feel said you feel a responsibility to the callers? FITZGERALD: Yes, I mean, there's been times at 4:00 in the morning, some of the best calls I've gotten, the most important calls -- I shouldn't say the best -- but have been calls that have been at about 4:00, 5:00 in the morning, because where it's 5:00 a.m. here it's 4:00 p.m. somewhere else in the world, and there's people just waking up.

CHETRY: Are you going to have to get a different cell phone maybe for your parents?

FITZGERALD: Yes, I live with my dad only, so I keep the ringer on silent at night, or I keep on vibrate so he doesn't wake up, but like I said before, I'm not -- my plans as far as discontinuing this are not anywhere near in the future.

CHETRY: Well, this is way more than 15 minutes of fame. You're going to have keep us posted on what happens for you in the future.

FITZGERALD: Oh, yes, I will.

CHETRY: And let us know if anything comes of this, because it's pretty interesting. I'm just curious how long you think you can keep it up.

FITZGERALD: Yes, I can keep it up as long as people keep calling.

CHETRY: OK, that could be forever. Ryan, thanks so much. And good luck to you, because you're going to need it. Get some sleep.


CHETRY: All right, we're going to take a quick break, and we're going to be right back here on AMERICAN MORNING.