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American Morning

Report on CIA Interrogation Tactics to be Released; Tide Turning against Public Option; Cash for Clunkers Program Ends Today; New Orleans After the Storm; Health Care Fact Check; Immigration Enforcement Targets Employers; Walking Tall Despite Paralysis; Fires Close in on Athens

Aired August 24, 2009 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks for being with us on the Most News in the Morning. It's Monday, it's the 24th of August. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We have a lot happening, a lot going on over the weekend. And we have some big stories we're going to be breaking down in the next 15 few minutes.

First, there's a new report. It's set to be released detailing tactics used by the CIA to interrogate suspected terrorists. It was written five years ago and was kept under wraps until now. Elaine Quijano on how agents allegedly used guns and a power drill to scare prisoners into talking.

ROBERTS: This morning the first family is on Martha's Vineyard for some R&R but there is no break in the debate over health care reform. You can add another name to the list of lawmakers against a government-run option. We're live in Washington where the president's goal of universal health care is as elusive as ever.

CHETRY: And the nation's top military commander says the situation on the ground in Afghanistan is serious and deteriorating. Admiral Mike Mullen made the news on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION." Plus, find out what Admiral Mullen has to say about whether or not more troops will go to the region.

ROBERTS: But first, new developments on the interrogation tactics used by the CIA on suspected terrorists. An investigation by the CIA's own inspector general will be released later on today. It's a report that's been concealed for five years but a federal court just ordered it released as part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.

Our Elaine Quijano is live in Washington this morning. And, Elaine, what do we know about the findings of this report?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, as you noted, the CIA report is expected to be released today but new details are already emerging.


QUIJANO (voice-over): In separate incidents, CIA interrogators threatened Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (ph). He's the man suspected of plotting the deadly bombing of the USS Cole, according to knowledgeable sources familiar with the 2004 CIA report. Sources confirm one interrogation session involved a gun, another an electric drill. Both meant to scare the Al Qaeda prisoner into giving up information.

And "Newsweek" reports mock executions were staged, including one where a gun was fired in a room next to a detainee to make him believe another prisoner had been killed. The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued to get the CIA report released, called the tactics under the Bush administration "not only reprehensible but illegal" and said the American public has a right to know the full truth about the torture that was committed in its name.

Although the government had authorized such controversial techniques as waterboarding, the use of a gun and drill fell outside approved tactics. A CIA spokesman said, "The CIA in no way endorsed behavior no matter how infrequent that went beyond formal guidance" and added that Justice Department officials reviewed any cases of alleged misconduct. But the report could renew questions about whether the Bush administration went too far in the name of national security.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has maintained the interrogation program as a whole was needed to keep the country safe.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work, proud of the results because they prevented the violent death of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people.

QUIJANO: For the Obama administration, the reports released means a delicate balance.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We will not be doing anything that would endanger the American people or in some ways lessen our national security.

QUIJANO: But some fear the release will have a chilling affect on intelligence officers trying to do their job.

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: We will teach timidity to a workforce that we need to be vigorous and active.


QUIJANO: And Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce soon whether he'll appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation policies -- John.

ROBERTS: Any idea what the timing on that might be, Elaine?

QUIJANO: No word yet. Soon, though. We expect soon.

ROBERTS: Elaine Quijano for us from Washington this morning. Elaine, thanks so much. CHETRY: Well, this morning, President Obama and the first family are on Martha's Vineyard. They're on a week-long vacation but there's no rest on the debate over health care reform back in Washington. Right now, a growing list of lawmakers breaking with the White House over a so-called public option. That's a government-run health plan that would compete with private plans and supposedly drive down cost.

CNN's Jim Acosta is live in Washington. Jim, no letup in the debate for the White House. We've heard over the course of the Sunday talk shows a lot of differing opinions on whether or not even coming from Democrats that we need to let go of that option in order to get anything done.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kiran, it's hard to imagine how the president gets to 60 votes in the Senate. The first family may be taking a vacation on Martha's Vineyard, but with the health care debate raging, the president may not get much of a holiday from Washington. Some Democrats don't want the president to get rest as much as they want him to get tough.


ACOSTA (voice-over): With the president hitting the beach on Martha's Vineyard, the tide may be turning against the idea of a government-run insurance program or public option in health care reform.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I'm afraid we've got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy is out of recession. There is no reason we have to do it all now.

ACOSTA: Add Connecticut's Independent Joe Lieberman to the list of Republicans who doubt the president will get everything he wants.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I believe that one of the fundamentals for any agreement would be that the president abandon the government option.

ACOSTA: The president is also feeling the heat from liberals in the House threatening to vote no on the reform unless it has the option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he relying on the sand, say I will know.


ACOSTA: At her own boisterous town hall, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters urged the president to start twisting arms in the Senate.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: We're going to do everything that we can to organize and put pressure on those senators, some of whom are Neanderthals. I just want to say it took the president, we want you to use every weapon in your...

ACOSTA: In his weekly address, the president was more interested in what he sees as twists of the truth.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we've all heard the charge that reform will somehow bring about a government takeover of health care. I know that sounds scary to many folks. It sounds scary to me, too. But here's the thing. It's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The beach is nice this time of year.

ACOSTA: But before the president could say cowabunga (ph), an ad from one reform opponent accused the White House of a government takeover.


NARRATOR: Because his public option health plan could leave the government-run health care.


DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We need message discipline on the Democratic side. I can't speak for Republicans, but I can tell you, without message discipline this has been a very difficult uphill battle for the president.


ACOSTA: This week the president's grassroots volunteer network known as Organizing for America is urging its members to show up at town halls and rally near congressional offices. The move is right out of the playbook of reform opponents who have raised their voices at town hall meetings, as we all know, Kiran, for weeks.

CHETRY: They certainly do. All right. Well, we're going to talk much more about that throughout the morning. Jim, thank you.

And for more on the health care debate and how reforms could affect you and your family, check out the special health care and America Web site on You go to care.

ROBERTS: It's coming up now on seven minutes after the hour. Sobering assessment now on the war in Afghanistan. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, says the situation on the ground has becoming increasingly dangerous now eight years after the war started. He made the news right here on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING."


ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I think it is serious and it is deteriorating. And I've said that over the last couple of years that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated. Their tactics just in my recent business out there and talking with our troops certainly indicate that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Admiral Mullen said that in a couple of weeks he'll evaluate whether more troops are needed after he reviews a report by General Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander in the country.

CHETRY: Cuba TV airing what it called recent footage of former President Fidel Castro and in it he looks well-rested and fit. The video shows him talking to some students from Venezuela. Castro has not been seen much since turning over power to his brother, Raul, a year and a half ago.

ROBERTS: He was the subject of an international manhunt, wanted for the brutal killing of his swimsuit model ex-wife. Now, police in British Columbia say it appears Ryan Jenkins hanged himself while hiding out in a hotel room.

Jenkins, a reality television star, was on the run since last weekend after police say Jasmine Fiore's body was found stuffed inside a suitcase in a dumpster behind an apartment complex just outside of Anaheim, California. Her fingers were chopped off and her teeth were pulled out apparently to conceal her identity. Fiore was eventually identified by the serial numbers on her breast implants.

CHETRY: Well, you know Cash for Clunkers" tonight, 8:00 p.m. And so far about half a million people have tried to cash in on the program. So while the time is running out and the deals are running out, apparently the paperwork is just beginning. We're going to be talking more about that.

Eight and a half minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to Most News in the Morning. It's coming up at 11 minutes after the hour.

Hurricane Bill being blamed for the death of a seven-year-old girl who was swept away by a giant wave yesterday in Maine's Acadia National Park. Rough waves also killed a 54-year-old man who was swimming in New Smyrna, Florida. Bill has now been downgraded to a tropical storm off of the coast of Newfoundland.

CHETRY: There's been a slight let up in the gale force winds driven in Greece, the wildfires there. Unfortunately, though, it's not the break that firefighters need. The winds are expected to pick back up again later today. The fires broke out Friday just north of Athens, and so far they've turned more than 37,000 acres and hundreds of homes into ashes. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate.

ROBERTS: And a Malaysian model and mother of two spared six lashes of the cane at least for now. Her crime, drinking beer in public -- a violation of law in that Muslim country. The government says the woman will be facing the punishment and a week in prison after the month of Ramadan ends.

CHETRY: Well, so far nearly half a million people have traded in their gas guzzlers for more energy efficient cars taking advantage of the "cash for clunkers" program that the government put into place. If you're thinking about upgrading your ride, though, you have to move fast because that program ends today, actually 8:00 p.m. tonight. And as Kate Bolduan tells us, the deals may be gone but it's the paperwork that's just beginning.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, Cash for Clunkers is quickly coming to an end but there's still a long way to go for dealers waiting for million of dollars in payback from the government and deals continue to drive off the lot.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): With a fast approaching deadline, customers flock to car dealerships over the weekend, looking, hoping to be one of the last to drive home a deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came here and there was so many people here.

BOLDUAN: David Barroso is trading in his van with more than 150,000 miles on it for a new Toyota.


BOLDUAN: Thanks to a $3,500 Cash for Clunkers rebate.

BARROSO: For me, basically, more motivation. You know? And, of course, a new car is always good.

BOLDUAN: As of Thursday, the Transportation Department reported more than 450,000 clunker deals nationwide worth nearly two-thirds of the $3 billion set aside for the program. But dealers say the paperwork and the payback is a major concern.

(on camera): So, 15 to 20 documents like this for every deal.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Tammy Darvish is the vice president of Darcars auto chain in Greater Washington. She has people working around the clock to meet the deadline. They've made 1,400 clunker deals so far fronting as much as $4,500 for each rebate. To date, they've only been reimbursed for nine.

TAMMY DARVISH, VICE PRESIDENT OF DARCARS IN GREATER WASHINGTON: I mean, you know, especially coming out of the times that we've just come out of, and then to have this kind of cash flow hanging out there, it's very unnerving. And it's hard to sleep at night knowing that you have, you know, $6 million outstanding.

BOLDUAN: The National Automobile Dealers Association is urging the government to give them an additional week to process all the deals they expect in these twilight hours. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood assures the money is on the way.

RAY LAHOOD, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: They're going to get their money. We have the money to provide to them.

BOLDUAN: As for customers like Sarah Nesbitt, she's rushing to cash in on a deal she just couldn't pass up.

SARAH NESBITT, CUSTOMER: From this, with all its dings and dents and scratches and dog hair and all that, into one of those.


BOLDUAN: So what are people buying? Well, this dealer says nearly 80 percent of all their clunker customers are buying foreign brands and about 80 percent of what people are turning in are domestic vehicles -- John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: Kate Bolduan this morning -- Kate, thanks so much.

Well, a lot being said about the health care reform debate. Some of it fact, some of it fiction. And what about that new birth certificate said to be from the Republic of Kenya that shows that President Obama was born there and not in the United States. We'll run all of that truth. The truth-o-meter coming up.

It's 15 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Eighteen minutes now after the hour. Christine Romans here "Minding Your Business."

You know, retiring is hard enough but Social Security checks may start to actually get smaller?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, think of this. OK. So you get a cost of living adjustment for your Social Security check every year. And this year, folks, if you rely on that Social Security check, it's likely not to have a cost of living increase because actually inflation falling here.

Inflation as measured by the CPI year over year declining at the biggest rate since the 1950s. So there will not be an inflation adjustment because inflation simply, as measured by the CPI, is not a problem. So don't expect a cost of living adjustment for your Social Security check next year.

We won't know for sure for the next couple of months when the Social Security Administration releases its numbers, but they make these judgments based on these numbers that we're seeing now so it's pretty easy to tell.

At the same time, there are rising premiums for the drug programs under Medicare. So look at this, Medicare costs are going up. The average premiums are going to rise from $30 to $30 from $28. The average check for retirees, there's about 52 million of you who get a check, the average check is $1,158 a month. It's a check or it's a debit card for many people. The money just goes on a debit card. And for a lot of you, for about six million of you, the premiums for your drug premiums are taken right out of that check. So people could actually see their check, what they get in that check shrink next year. Something very important if people are planning for next year. Their housing prices have gone down, housing prices have gone down. And also many of their pensions, their IRAs, their 401(k)s have been hurt. So a lot of folks are watching this math for seniors right now and trying to figure out how troublesome next year might be.

CHETRY: Do you have a numeral for us this morning?

ROMANS: I do. The number is three. Romans numeral three. And this is --

CHETRY: $3. I was going to say the percent of like three percent or 30 percent is how much goes out toward medical expenses.

ROMANS: That's very -- yes, that's very close. Three out of 10 every $10 of the average Social Security check goes right to pay out- of-pocket health care expense expenses.

CHETRY: That's a third of your income right there.

ROMANS: That's right. And that number is going up. It underscores both the issue here that we're seeing with inflation not being a problem.

A year ago, the Social Security cost of living adjustment was almost six percent because we had all these high energy prices. A big bump last year. You won't see that this year.

We've gone from worrying about inflation to now talking about falling inflation. How quickly this has changed over the past year at the same time that drug prices are not falling. Health care prices are not falling. So it underscores some of the anxiety underneath the health care reform debate as well.

ROBERTS: All right. Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning.


ROBERTS: Christine, good to see you.

In a season worth forgetting, the New York Mets will be remembered for the history-making way that they lost yesterday to the Philadelphia Phillies. Take a look at this.

The Mets were mounting a comeback, trailing 9-7 with two runners on base. Nobody out on the ninth inning. That's when Jeff Francoeur hit a line drive to second base when Eric Bruntlett, looked like a single on a hit and run play but Bruntlett caught the liner, stepped on second and tagged Daniel Murphy for the third out.

An unassisted triple play to end the game. That's happened only once before in Major League history, and that was 82 years ago. CHETRY: What's the third?

ROBERTS: The third what?

CHETRY: Of the triple play.

ROBERTS: What are you talking about? He catches the ball, that's one.

CHETRY: Oh, yes. I got you.

ROBERTS: He steps on the base, then he tags the runner.

CHETRY: All right. Rock on. He redeemed himself.

ROBERTS: The crew is giving baseball lessons after the show this morning.

CHETRY: I had to laugh because I had to watch that game blow by blow at the house. Obviously, a Phillies fan.

ROBERTS: Obviously you weren't paying attention.

CHETRY: No, he said that that guy messed up. He had a lot of unforced errors. Is that correct? And then -- and then at the end he comes through with a triple play. It wasn't as exciting is if he would have stepped on something, caught it and then you had to, you know, toss it...

ROBERTS: But then it wouldn't have been an unassisted triple play. Would it?

Oh, my God. First rule of holes. When you get in, stop digging.

CHETRY: Oh, man. You want to sit -- he get you every time.

ROMANS: Oh, God. Your husband is e-mailing right now.

ROBERTS: Oh, boy.

ROMANS: I'm sure giving you...

CHETRY: Great game.

All right. Well, in other news, we are going to be checking in on New Orleans. It's been four years, imagine that after the devastating Hurricane Katrina. How are they rebuilding? It's the years after the storm.

Twenty-two minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Twenty-four minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. A live look right now at New Orleans. Thanks to our friends at WDSU. You know, it was four years ago this week. Hard to imagine, it was four years ago that New Orleans was nearly wiped off the face of the map. Eighty percent of the city underwater after Hurricane Katrina came roaring through. According to the government, more than 1,800 lives were lost to Katrina and caused an estimated $100 billion in damages.

Well, we're in New Orleans all week. Sean Callebs is live with us this morning. You're focusing on the city's economy four years after the storm. And we all remember there were questions about whether or not we'd every see New Orleans as it was before and whether or not people were going to come back and rebuild businesses. What have you seen four years later?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is perhaps an amazing story the way the city has begun its turnaround. It's taken a long time. But if you ask folks here, they say the recession really hit New Orleans in 2005 when Katrina caused so much damage to this area. And its stimulus came over the last four years with tens of billions of dollars of federal money pouring into this area.


CALLEBS (voice-over): New Orleans has been shielded in the aftermath of Katrina, not by levees. It has been an economic bubble. Federal and private money as the city rebuilds.

Jazz great Irvin Mayfield recently opened a club in the French quarter, but he wants to talk about his job as commissioner of New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.

IRVIN MAYFIELD, NEW ORLEANS REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: Redevelopment is just another word of self-investment for citizens. And I think that passion has always been important to New Orleans. We're now trying to figure out how to transform that passion for music and food into different areas of redevelopment in our neighborhoods.

CALLEBS: After Katrina, close to 80,000 homes had to be rebuilt, attracting legions of construction workers. It's helped keep New Orleans unemployment rate at about 7.2 percent while the national average is closer to nine percent.

(on camera): With its hotels and night life, New Orleans has its share of service jobs for entrepreneurs who are also investing here finding there are benefits to being in this city.

(voice-over): Nic Perkins is CEO of The Receivables Exchange. He could have started his business anywhere.

NIC PERKINS, CEO, THE RECEIVABLES EXCHANGE: Donnie (ph) from Pennsylvania, Daryl (ph) from England, John (ph) from Boston.

CALLEBS: New residents know about the problems, crime, a poor education system, the slow pace of rebuilding. But they are convinced the positive outweighs lingering deep-rooted problems. PERKINS: To have an operation like this would be literally five, six, seven times more for us in New York or San Francisco. The quality of life that we have here, you can live in New Orleans exceptionally well under a start-up (ph) salary.

CALLEBS: Home prices are up about 1.1 percent from 2008 to 2009. Nationally they plunged about 10 percent over that same period. New Orleans is a long way from being whole. Entire neighborhoods remain in ruin and thousands are still displaced.

MAYFIELD: I think a lot of people who see this may say, look, you guys have been at this for four years, why isn't this done already? And I think people would need to really understand the volume of things that we have done and we're doing.

CALLEBS: And in many ways, the city has something it couldn't claim four years ago, optimism.


CALLEBS: And there's a certain amount of optimism in the city right now. And that is good news, a good story. However, Kiran, this still remains a tale of two cities.

While the central business district, the French quarter and other tourist areas are showing real signs of a health turnaround, if you go to New Orleans East, St. Bernard Parish and other areas, it looks like the storm could have hit just a matter of weeks ago.

Back to you, guys.

CHETRY: That is exactly as you put it, a tale of two cities. And very sad for those outlying areas.

Sean Callebs for us. Thanks so much.

And we're going to continue to talk about this tomorrow. Our chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, is going to be reporting on a tiny clinic in New Orlean's Ninth Ward. You know the Ninth Ward hit so hard from Katrina. It's operated by two nurses offering free care and it used to be actually the home of one of the nurses who now runs it. That's tomorrow.

ROBERTS: Coming up now on 29 minutes after the hour and checking our top stories.

Good news for you at the pump to report. For the first time in three days, gasoline prices are down. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular, $2.63 now.

CHETRY: Also in Afghanistan, charges of widespread fraud and voter-rigging. Ballots still being counted from Thursday's presidential election. And it could take days even weeks before they're all tallied.

Most observers expect President Hamid Karzai to win over more than 30 candidates, but he'll have to face another election if he doesn't get 50 percent of the votes.

ROBERTS: Later, North and South Korea could soon be talking face-to-face. Two newspapers in the region report that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il would like a summit. And South Korea's president is open to the idea if the North's nuclear program is on the agenda.

It's make or break month for health care reform in America. Right now, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there. And this morning, we are putting them to the truth-o-meter test.

Joining us now is Bill Adair. He is the founder and editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning

Bill, good to see you. You look bright and awake here on a Monday morning.


ROBERTS: I got to say. Good to have with us today.

ADAIR: Thanks for having me.

ROBERTS: Hey, listen, talking about health care today, Utah's Senator Orrin Hatch was talking about how many people will be covered and how many people won't be covered by the various health care reform proposals. Here's what he said.

He said, "If you don't count illegal aliens, people who qualify for other insurance and people who make more than $75,000 a year, it leaves about 15 million people who are uninsured." What did the truth-o-meter have to say about that?

ADAIR: We gave that one a half true on the truth-o-meter. And the reason is that he's using some questionable methodology to come up with that. Individually the numbers he uses in subtracting the people who are illegible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, people who refuse to get health insurance, are individually those numbers are right. But there are some really methodological problems with putting them all together because in some cases people could be triple- or double-counted.

An immigrant, for example, who doesn't get health insurance but works in a high-paying, high-tech job, might be counted two or three times the way we looked at it.

So, he gets a "Half True" on the Truth-O-Meter.

ROBERTS: But we should point out, Bill, that the plans currently before Congress do not cover everybody who's uninsured, right?

ADAIR: Correct. I mean, the president's goal is to have universal coverage. But I think really achieving that complete number is going to be very difficult. And I think, yes, it's universal in concept at least, but probably not ultimately.

ROBERTS: All right. Cost containment, another big aspect of health care reform. Vermont's independent senator, Bernie Sanders, said this about that, quote, "We spend twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation on Earth."

No question the United States spends a lot comparatively to other countries, but do we really spend twice as much, Bill?

ADAIR: No, we don't. He gets a "False" on the Truth-O-Meter.

There are several other countries that are in the upper half, including a couple that are close to the United States -- Luxembourg, Monaco and other countries that are in the upper half -- Canada, the Netherlands, some other industrial countries.

So he gets a "False" on our Truth-O-Meter.

ROBERTS: So there's one more -- access to health care. Critics like to point out -- point to countries who socialize medicine and say that's what could happen in the U.S. under public option.

Congressman Roy Blunt told the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" editorial board, quote, "I'm 59. In either Canada or Great Britain, if I broke my hip, I couldn't get it replaced."

What did the Truth-O-Meter say about that?

ADAIR: Truth-O-Meter gives this one our lowest rating, "Pants on Fire." And the reason is that, for one, he's just wrong. In both Canada and Britain, people his age and older are eligible for hip replacements.

And we decided to give this one a "Pants on Fire" just as we did one for Joe Biden, where the effect of this could be to scare a lot of people, particularly senior citizens who might be scared about the proposal for health care reform and think that they wouldn't be able to get a hip replacement.

So, "Pants on Fire" for this one.

ROBERTS: All right. And unrelated to health care reform, the Birthers out there, who claim that President Obama is not an American citizen, therefore he's not eligible to be president, came out with some more, quote, "evidence" the other day. An attorney for the Birthers posted a birth certificate online supposedly from the Republic of Kenya.

What did the Truth-O-Meter find out about that?

ADAIR: The Truth-O-Meter gave this one a "Pants on Fire." But we did have a little fun looking into it. And this is one where a lot of Birthers fell for the hoax.

This was a -- the original birth certificate was for man in South Australia that someone apparently took off the Internet and then made to look like a Kenyan birth certificate, put Obama's name on and some of the known things about his birth. And the Birthers fell for this one and it wasn't until an enterprising young man discovered exactly what had happened using a Google image search.

So this one gets a "Pants on Fire."

ROBERTS: All right. Bill Adair, it's always great to see you. Thanks so much for joining us this morning. Really appreciate it.

ADAIR: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: And to check out more of Bill Adair's Truth-O-Meter, head to our blog at

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're going to -- coming right back, we're going to have more on whether or not there's a change in strategy in trying to fight illegal immigration, whether or not it would work.

It's 35 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Thirty-eight minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

You know, for many they came here to work to try to provide for their families. But because they came illegally, there was a fear that they could be caught in a raid on illegal workers.

But now the Obama administration is trying to change its strategy when it comes to dealing with the illegals, punishing the place of business, the employer, rather than the person.

Here's CNN's Jason Carroll.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New Bedford, Massachusetts. Suspected undocumented workers at a leather factory in tears after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the workplace in March 2007. Illegal immigrants, like Maria, who works at another New Bedford factory and conceals her identity, constantly worry.

MARIA (through translator): It's very frustrating to me. I came here to work, to help out my family, just to struggle to get ahead.

CARROLL: Under the Bush administration's immigration policy, high-profile raids focused on deporting people like Maria. Now under President Obama's watch, a push to punish those who hire people like Maria.

JOHN MORTON, ASST. SEC. OF HOMELAND SECURITY FOR I.C.E.: We are focusing first and foremost on the employer.

CARROLL: John Morton is the new chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE for short. MORTON: If we're doing to make a sustained headway, a real change, not an incremental change, but a real change in the way we address the question of illegal immigration in this country, we have to focus on the employer community.

CARROLL: Morton says they've increased audits of companies' employment records, issuing 655 notices to companies such as American Apparel.

(on camera): They're cheering for you.

(voice over): On a tour of the Los Angeles factory a few months ago, it was evident CEO Dov Charney is popular with his employees. He's outspoken on immigration reform, highly critical of those raids under the Bush administration. T-shirts he sells read, "Legalize LA."

DOV CHARNEY, AMERICAN APPAREL CEO: There's a special connection that I have with the employees and there's a special connection they have with me.

CARROLL: When asked for comment regarding company's audit notice, Charney declined.

Conservative critics of the policy say it may not be enough.

JAMES CARAFANO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The notion that we're just going to focus on employers and we're going to ignore the unlawful employees, well, to me that doesn't make any sense.

CARROLL: To which John Morton says ICE has not stopped going after illegal employees and the policy is affecting workers like Maria.

MARIA (through translator): There might not be the raids. The immigration agency is attacking employers now, and so it's really affecting us.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN.


ROBERTS: Jason Carroll this morning. Jason, thanks so much.

Forty and a half minutes after the hour.

What's left of Hurricane Bill, now Tropical Storm Bill? The impact that Bill left behind turned deadly over the weekend. We've got the latest forecast coming up for you. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Forty-three and a half minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. A live look at New York City, where it's 72, going up to 88, expected to be mostly sunny today.

Time now to fast forward through the stories that you'll be hearing about on CNN today. The final beam removed from the World Trade Center will return to Ground Zero this morning. The beam that once held up the south tower has been preserved in a hangar at Kennedy Airport since 2002. It will eventually become part of the planned September 11th memorial and museum.

The future of the late Michael Jackson estate still uncertain. Another hearing scheduled for this morning at 11:30 in Los Angeles. Last week, the court approved the traveling exhibition featuring the late pop star's memorabilia.

And the space shuttle "Discovery," set to launch from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday. NASA officials will hold a briefing later on today. So far the weather forecast looks promising. If you want to see the launch, you'll have to stay up late. It's scheduled for just after 1:30 a.m. Eastern.

So the shuttle going up just a little while.

CHETRY: Yes. And, meanwhile, we got to check of the weather right now from Rob Marciano. He's keeping track of things for us in Atlanta.

And so, Rob, bill no longer a hurricane. But, boy, you could feel Bill this entire weekend if you lived up and down the East Coast.



This weekend, it was just -- you literally got wet when you walked outside. It was so humid, the air.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That tropical soup. Bill is going bye-bye.

CHETRY: Yes. All right.

MARCIANO: Good to see you, guys.

CHETRY: Thanks, Rob.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Rob.

Forty-six minutes now after the hour.

He was a drag racing champion paralyzed in a terrible accident. But now he's come back and he's giving back. We'll tell you how right after this. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

For former drag racing champion Darrel Gwynn, it's not about speed anymore. Slow and steady wins the race these days. A terrifying accident two decades ago took his career and left him paralyzed. But as John Zarrella reports, Gwynn is proving every day that walking tall doesn't always require a healthy pair of legs.


DARRELL GWYNN, FORMER DRAG RACING CHAMP: Before I gotten to race car...

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The walls are covered in a montage of racing memories.

GWYNN: This is the race that everybody dreams of winning.

ZARRELLA: Twenty years ago Darrell Gwynn was a rock star in the world of drag racing. If you knew anything about the sport, you knew Darrell Gwynn.

GWYNN: This is probably one of my most memorable wins. It was my last win, 1998 internationals.

ZARRELLA: His last because that same month, Gwynn's dragster came apart in a ball of flames during an exhibition in England. He lost his left arm and was paralyzed.

GWYNN: The worst thing that kind of haunts me today is just the fact that, you know, I can relive every single second, moment.

ZARRELLA: But Gwynn won't allow those memories to consume his life. Today, wheels do.

GWYNN: That's a natural. You know, my whole career has been about wheels.

ZARRELLA: Wheels that he gives to others.

GWYNN: Do you like your chair?

ZARRELLA: Chad Russell is severely handicapped. His old wheelchair constantly broke and didn't fit him right. Insurance wouldn't cover an upgrade.

ZARRELLA: Insurance wouldn't cover an upgrade.

At the Daytona Speedway, Chad received his new custom-powered chair, courtesy of the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.

RUSSELL: This feels like we won the race today.

TINA RUSSELL, CHAD RUSSELL'S MOTHER: It's going to make a huge, huge difference in his life. It will make him a lot more independent.

ZARRELLA: Over the past seven years since it began, Gwynn's foundation has donated to children and young adults in need more than 60 custom wheelchairs.

GWYNN: We felt with our niche in the sport and the people that we knew, we could start helping those people. ZARRELLA: Many of auto racers' top drivers help raise money for Gwynn's foundation, which has brought in more than $3.5 million. For Gwynn, the victories don't come anymore in four-and-a-half seconds at 290 miles an hour.

Today, victories are reported in smiles.

John Zarrella, CNN, Daybee, Florida.


CHETRY: All right. And still ahead, we're going to be talking more about what Admiral Mullen said about Afghanistan that the Taliban actually getting stronger and getting better and the situation on the ground deteriorating.

Eight years into that war, what are the options for the U.S.?

We're going to talk more about that.

It's 52 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

We're following developing news overseas. Firefighters in Greece racing to contain the huge wildfires that are threatening Athens. Tens of thousands of people have already been evacuated from the suburbs north of the city. At first light this morning 17 water- dropping planes and helicopters went back to work.

You can see the pictures there of the flames just spread out over such a huge area there.

Phil Black in Penteli, Greece.

Phil, what's the latest on the ground this morning? How much progress have they made?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This morning, it's been good, Kiran. A lot of progress today. The conditions have been finally favorable for fighting these fires. The winds in particular have not been gusting to the sort of strengths that we've seen over the last two days that caused those unpredictable wildfires. Those winds brought those wildfires into Athens themselves.

That's where I'm standing now. This is in the northern suburbs of the city, not that far from the center of town. And here around me I want to show you there are homes that have been gutted and destroyed. A large number of them.

The fires came right through here, right up to some other homes. Some others were lucky and were not destroyed in their entirety.

But there's a large number of destroyed, gutted homes in this area. And that's why firefighters are so desperate to get rid of -- it's to hit these fires hard, what remains of them, from the air and on the ground while the conditions are more favorable.


CHETRY: Phil Black for us.

So, you've been talking to residents on the ground. What are they saying about the firefighting effort? Are they concerned? And are they willing to leave and for how long?

BLACK: Well, there is a lot of anger about the operation from the very beginning in terms of how fire crews came to terms with what has been going on here over the last few days. These sorts of wildfires are not uncommon in summer. They're very -- they are a regular part of the season here.

Two years ago, there was a savage fire that killed around 70 people. There's a real feeling among these communities that people have not learned a lesson from those experiences. They talk about a lot of additional disorganization on the ground, a lot of panic, a lot of chaos. They do not believe the response was adequate.

Many of them have left their homes. Many of them reluctantly because they simply believe that the firefighters are not doing a good enough job of getting here and dealing with it before they had any other choice.

The government, on the other hand, saying that the firefighters are doing a superhuman job in extraordinary circumstances - Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes. And, you know, even the hardest work and the most valiant effort really need the help of the weather. I mean, you know, that makes a huge difference as we've seen with firefighters here.

What do they expect conditions to be like today?

BLACK: Well, today, they started off mild. They cooled over night. They stayed cool through the morning. This was good. This is giving them the opportunity to get on top of those fires. And so, they deal with the ones that have penetrated into these suburban areas of Athens itself.

So, there are still fires burning in the sort of deep forest areas, scrub lands, the mountains behind Athens. They know that they have to deal with this because there is the chance that the weather conditions could deteriorate again. The winds are picking up. But crucially they are not as strong as they have been -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Well, that's at least a bit of good news in that firefight. Phil Black for us in Greece today. Thanks so much.