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CNN Sunday Morning

Reid Apologizes for Remarks; Details About CIA Suicide Bomber

Aired January 10, 2010 - 08:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta Georgia, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. As I get myself together on this January 10th. It's 8:00 a.m. --


HOLMES: ... in Atlanta, Georgia, where we sit. It's 7:00 a.m. in the place called Gun Barrel City, Texas.

NGUYEN: It's a real city.

HOLMES: It's a real thing. And Bremerton, Washington, wherever you may be, glad you could be here. I'm T.J. Holmes.

NGUYEN: Yes, good morning, everybody. Thanks for joining us. I'm Betty Nguyen.

OK. We have a lot to get to this morning, including a very rare and very public apology.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized to the president after a new book released that revealed Reid's questionable comments about candidate Obama. Among the quotes, he lacked a Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.

Now, we want to know what you think about this. We have posted the story on our Facebook and Twitter sites. All you have to do is go to them, post your comments, what you think about all of it, and we will be reading those responses on the air. Again, you can go to our Facebook and Twitter sites. You can also reach out to us on our blog.

HOLMES: Also, this morning, airport security -- one of the president's top priorities. So, after that Christmas Day attempt to bring down an airliner, how will travelers be protected in the future? We will show you the next generation of screening devices and why some of them are upsetting some travelers.

We do want to get to some of our big stories overnight, some you may have missed, including a strong earthquake hitting northern California. This was around Eureka, California, which is some 270 miles north of San Francisco. This is a 6.5 magnitude quake. It had several aftershocks, some of them as strong as 4.5. So, a fairly significant stuff here.

Not a lot of serious injuries to report. Not a lot of serious damage, either. But power was knocked out to some 20,000 people. There were some isolated reports as well of water line breaks and some broken windows. But, again, the good word, no major injuries to report.

NGUYEN: Togo's national soccer team pulls out of a competition after a machine gun attack on their bus on Friday. It happened near the border of Angola and the Republic of Congo. As many as three people are dead, including an assistant coach. The team was on its way to the African Cup of Nation's tournament.

HOLMES: In suburban Atlanta, Georgia, two teens were dead after they fell through the ice on a semi-frozen pond. A third person was hospitalized. Rescuers say he was able to pull himself out of the water. His friends, however, got trapped under that ice.

NGUYEN: Well, the Senate's top Democrat is taking his foot out of his mouth. This weekend, Majority Leader Harry Reid is apologizing for racial remarks about President Obama during the campaign. A new book "Game Change" claims that Reid privately said candidate Obama had a good shot at getting elected, thanks to his light-skinned looks and lack of, quote, "Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one."

Reid gave this statement to CNN: "I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African-Americans for my improper comments."

Last night, our Randi Kaye asked CNN's senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, how this impacts Senator Reid.


DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): It looks like at least, for now, in terms of his position as the top Democrat in the Senate, it looks like he's OK. The biggest problem for Senator Reid, Randi, is his own viability just as a senator. He is already in a very, very, very tough battle, this election year, in 2010, to keep his seat.

And just today, a new poll in his home state in Nevada came out showing he is just pretty much not well-liked. His favorability ratings, meaning how much people like him, are very low. Unfavorability, 52 percent. That's the highest in about a year.

And the problem for him back home is that people know him very well. They know him and the majority don't like him. And he trails three potential Republican candidates.

So, the biggest problem for him is that he's already been fighting for his political life to win his seat, again, in the Senate. And this is just another, in the words of one of his supporters -- I just got an email of one of his supporters -- just another straw to break the camel's back.


NGUYEN: Well, President Obama has responded, issuing this statement, quote, "Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today. I accepted Harry's apology without question because I've known for years. I've seen the passionate leadership he's shown on issues of social justice and I know what's in his heart. As far as I'm concerned, the book is closed."

HOLMES: And we're learning more this morning about that suicide bomber who killed seven CIA workers in Afghanistan. That bomber, a Jordanian doctor, was supposed to be providing info about the whereabouts of al Qaeda leaders.

The CIA says Humam al-Balawi, the bomber, detonating a bomb just as he was about to be searched at a U.S. base in Afghanistan.

In a video we are just seeing this weekend, it was released by the Taliban in Pakistan, al-Balawi vows to exact revenge for the killing of a Taliban leader. Al-Balawi is on the right in this video. He is sitting next to the new head of the Taliban in Pakistan.

And al-Balawi also said in that video that his faith was not for sale. That statement is raising questions now about the CIA's ability to penetrate militant terrorists groups.

I wanted to bring in now a man who knows this stuff inside and out, Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst and also a friend of our show here on CNN SATURDAY and SUNDAY MORNING.

Peter, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

Tell us here how much success has the U.S. had in the past in trying to turn these al Qaeda guys, to try to get guys to serve as some kind of a double-agent? Was this just a major failure and somebody dropped the ball? You know, how do these things worked in the past?


You know, one of the most successful approaches in the past is not actually being turning double-agents, but is actually being -- doing plea bargains with al Qaeda insiders who then sing like canaries. I mean, the most recent example of this was a guy called Bryant Neal Vinas, a kid from Long Island who went to an al Qaeda training camp in 2008. And he is cooperating with the feds and he's giving a great deal of information.

I think the CIA recruiting double-agents is highly unusual. I don't -- I mean, it leads sometimes penetrating al Qaeda. And in this case, of course, he wasn't a double-agent. He was a tripled agent.

HOLMES: Well, highly unusual. Was this just case -- maybe this guy fell in their lap and tried to just use this method, or do you think the CIA, maybe U.S. intelligent officials are going to try a new approach to see if this kind of thing can work down the road?

BERGEN: Well, I think it's very hard to find people who are really privy to al Qaeda's inside information, who are willing to turn. These are not -- these are ideologically very highly motivated people inside al Qaeda. And the only way you that you generally get them to turn is if they are facing, you know, life in prison, in an American super max prison. Often, they get to turn that in that way, and say, well, you know, we'll do a plea bargain and we'll start talking.

But, I mean, failing that, it's hard to find volunteers to penetrate al Qaeda, who have the knowledge to really do that.

HOLMES: Now, in the video, let's turn now to al-Balawi and the video we are seeing this weekend. He is actually saying this attack was revenge for the killing of a former Pakistan leader, the former Taliban in Pakistan leader Mehsud. Now, he was killed apparently last summer in a drone attack.

And, again, people constantly refer to this now, these drone attacks as really the worse kept secret, really, when it comes to CIA intelligence and for U.S. attacks.

So, how effective have these drone attacks been over these past several years? And it seems that President Obama seemed to be more fond of them than President Bush?

BERGEN: Indeed, I mean -- since President Obama has been in office, there has been probably 53, 54, 55, depending on your count, of these drone attacks into Pakistan. That's more than the entire number of drone attacks under President Bush -- President Bush, sort of, amping up the program in the summer of 2008.

The program has been somewhat effective in terms of taking key leaders, like Baitullah Mehsud, the guy who's a the CIA triple agent says he's making revenge for, and, you know, quite a number of top leaders in the al Qaeda and the Taliban have been killed.

Conversely, Catherine Tiedemann, a colleague of mine at New America Foundation, and I calculated that about a quarter of the victims are civilians and we did a capital analysis of the publicly available information on these drone attacks.

HOLMES: So, is that the downside -- excuse me there for jumping in, but you mentioned that point about the civilians. There's some dispute about the numbers, of course, the U.S. disputes it and says it's probably not that high. It says it's pretty low.

But still, is that the downside there and n that you're going to have some of the collateral damage, if you will, with civilians? And also, some are saying they could be more effective if you go after a different area, this so-called region of Baluchistan there that hasn't been touched yet where so many of these militants are believed to be?

BERGEN: Well, I don't think -- I mean, drone strikes in Baluchistan may happen. But -- I mean, that's a pretty big bridge because the Pakistanis are going to push back very hard on that. And (INAUDIBLE) tribal areas on their border with Afghanistan, you know, they seem to be able to live with that, particularly because a number of these strikes are directed at the Pakistani Taliban who are in themselves attacking the Pakistani government. But, you know, our calculation of a quarter of the casualties of being civilians is probably the most rigorous out there. Other people have said 98 percent of the casualties are civilians. Other people said only 10 percent. We look at the best reporting on the issue and came with this number.

And, you know, we can have a debate, is a quarter too high? Is it -- you know, or is it worth it?

Certainly, somebody like Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban who was killed in American drone strike, he was killed with his second wife. He was killed with his father-in-law. These militants live amongst the population.

And, of course, Baitullah Mehsud himself, who we see here in this picture...


BERGEN: ... was responsible for the deaths of literally thousands of Pakistani civilians, which is a calculation that should also enter into this, T.J.

HOLMES: Well, you answered my last question there for me. And maybe there is no answer, but just a debate. What is an acceptable number of casualties? Some say none. But, again, you got a guy like that, maybe some loss some would say is worth it.

Peter Bergen, again, always good to have you on. You enjoy the rest of your Sunday, buddy.

BERGEN: Good morning, T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Betty?

NGUYEN: Well, adults aren't the only one sick of the cold in Nebraska.


UNIDENTIFIED BOY: When the second storm hit and the first storm, I felt torn out. I was like, stressing.


NGUYEN: Stressing, poor kid. You know, it's bad when the kids are stressing out over the weather.

Plus, which government agencies are working to keep us safe? Well, we hope all of them are, but we're going to sort through the bureaucratic red tape to show you how the Department of Homeland Security works.


NGUYEN: A whole lot of record cold temperatures across the nation to tell you about. I want you to take a look, though, at this snow in Nebraska. That video for you right there. Look at that. People there have a major cleanup job on their hands. Some cars can't even get out from under the snow.

HOLMES: They are having a problem or two in -- of all places -- Florida. It's freezing there. It might be getting worse, Bonnie?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we are looking at some record low temperatures anticipated for tonight. In fact, tonight, in Florida, it will dip down into the 20s for several hours. That's very bad news for the citrus crops down in Florida, because sustained temperatures, six hours or 28 degrees -- that will freeze the fruit out there, not what folks want to hear.

We have a live picture to show you what it looks like in Florida at this hour, in Daytona Beach. And it looks like a beautiful morning. But I'll tell you, this time yesterday, we were tracking sleet and snow in the beautiful beaches of Daytona, Florida.

The temperature now, about 34 degrees. So, it is a cold one. And not too far away, according to our friends on Twitter, we have this tweet pic of snow in Ocala, Florida. And this was actually taken by Green Eye Jean (ph) yesterday when the snow was falling early in the morning. It certainly has stopped snowing in Ocala and we are looking at some better conditions in the forecast for this region.

But, just to let you know what's ahead for tonight -- low temperatures across the southeast will likely be some of the coldest numbers we've seen all week. Down to 17 degrees in Atlanta. In Tampa, the temperature dips down to 29 degrees.

And here's what's really interesting. Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota, high temperatures yesterday, didn't top above 44 degrees. The normal high temperatures for these cities: between 70 and 72 degrees. So, yesterday, we had three cities in Florida reached the coldest high temperatures ever. So, we really saw incredible records due to this cold snap. That's not over yet.

We'll get worse tonight, but we are looking at some improvements in the forecast as we go through the next few days. In fact, I have some good news starting off with Chicago. Now, we are going to look for some improvements in the forecast. Temperatures will start warming up. We're definitely looking at some better conditions there.

And to let you know that we're not alone. The southeast isn't the only place that's feeling the cold air. This morning, it's particularly cold across New England. We have a current temperature in Boston at 12 degrees. The wind chill factor is negative one degree.

Football at Foxboro today at 1:00. We are looking at the temperature for the game between the Patriot and the Ravens, that will be about 22 degrees with the wind chill factor of 10.

So, the cold is in the northeast, it's in the Midwest, it's in the southeast. It's almost over. A couple of more days and we'll start getting back to normal.


HOLMES: President Obama vowing to do all it takes to make sure information is shared among the many agencies aimed to keeping the country safe.

NGUYEN: Yes. And part of that means, the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, is tackling a massive web of agencies with all kinds of different roles.

Our Josh Levs is here to show us just how this works.

And I'm seeing you got a large chart to show us the flow of information. We hope it's flowing because maybe that was a problem in the Christmas Day terrorist attempt.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what? Really well-put -- it's what's supposed to be the flow of information. In fact, let's just start off with it.

I mean, folks, do you want to see how complicated the DHS is? Take a look at this chart. We have it for you. It is -- forget about the words, all right?

The little big box at the top, the big one at the top is the secretary's office. Everything else there is a different agent, a unique agency that falls under DHS. In fact, I have it opened, behind me, I want to show you something here for a second, in terms of the way our homeland security system is working in America.

Zoom in way here. I want to show you something for a second.

See all these different agencies, right? These are not in layers. It's not that this reports to this, reports to this, reports to this, up to secretary. Instead, every single agency that you're seeing here reports independently, directly, all of them, directly to the Office of the Secretary of Homeland Security. That's how complex it is.

Now, let's go straight to some of these numbers. I want you to see how many different people and jurisdictions we're talking about.

First of all, more than 87,000 federal, state and local jurisdictions make up homeland security here in America. The number of employees here, 230,000 fall under DHS. And within that, you have more than two dozen officials that report directly to the secretary. So, that right there means all these different agencies -- more than two dozens -- that these officials represent.

Let's look at a handful of them. Among the agencies reporting to DHS -- you got the TSA, Customs and Border Protection, Citizen and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And three more: Secret Service, FEMA, and the Coast Guard. Just a handful that we pulled out to show what falls under DHS. So, all of that together is what we're talking about when we see this huge web of agencies. Not only is there have to be information- sharing among them, but they're all reporting right now to this department, to the secretary of homeland security. So, it's up to basically that executive, to that level to figure out how all these different agencies, guys, are going to share the information and do so in a way that gets everything very quickly where it needs to be.

That's just part of the challenge that we're talking about when we see President Obama and also homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, say they're going to tackle that web of agencies, guys.

NGUYEN: That's a big, old web to try to tackle, too. OK, thank you, Josh. We appreciate it.

LEVS: Thanks, guys. You got it.

HOLMES: We have been asking you this morning, a story about Harry Reid essentially having to apologize to the president of the United States for some comments he made about then-candidate Obama, saying that he had a better chance of winning because he was -- and I'm quoting here -- "light-skinned," also because he -- again quoting, "lacked a Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." And again, those are quotes there coming out in a new book, some comments that Harry Reid. And he apologized for them, not denying he said them. He's apologizing.

NGUYEN: Right. And we've been asking you this morning for your comments on that. So, definitely be sure to send them in to us.

HOLMES: And we've got several that have been coming in. I think we have a second here to share just a couple. I don't think you can see my screen up there on the side but I'll just read it right from here.

I'll read this from Norma Johnson. She says, "I am African- American and I think what Harry Reid said is absolutely correct." Here it is. Norma Johnson says "absolutely correct. We just don't want to discuss it in public. Another distraction," she believes, "by the media from the real issues facing the country, including lack of good health care, the president accepted his apology. So, let's move on."

We're getting a lot of that this morning -- that people actually agree with what Harry Reid said.


HOLMES: Just know, you know, that it's uncomfortable for people to hear that sometimes.

NGUYEN: Right. And I'm getting on my Twitter site from Linda. She says, "Harry Reid's remarks were honest. So what? They were certainly carelessly uttered, accomplished nothing good. Good is the benchmark." But a lot of people are saying, yes, while unfortunate, while -- a lot of people, you know, disagree with what was said, some are saying, "Look, these were honest comments. They were observations." So...

HOLMES: And, again, it's -- so, race is just such a hot button topic. You touch it and it will inflame people, no matter what and for good reason for a lot of people. But amazing just some of the comments we're reading and amazing that it's coming out in this new book.


HOLMES: I think the book is not even out yet.

NGUYEN: Not yet, not until Tuesday. And it's really interesting and fascinating to see the different opinions on this. So, keep them coming this morning. We want to read them on the air. We want to know what you think about Harry Reid's comments and your thoughts.

You can go to our Facebook site or Twitter site. We also have the full article posted on there and the response from President Obama as well. So, stay with us for that.

HOLMES: And we got some severe weather we've been talking about this morning, across the country. We'll look at what different parts of the country are dealing with it, including probably where you are right now as well.

NGUYEN: Plus, new details on the CIA bomber.


NGUYEN: Some of our top stories this morning.

Police in Vermont, they are warning people to stay off some frozen lakes after a deadly snowmobile accident. A man, his daughter and granddaughter all killed when the snowmobiles broke through a thin sheet of ice. They reportedly have been riding with three other people when the accident happened near Salisbury. Those three survived.

HOLMES: An isolated incident to tell you about in suburban Atlanta. Three teenagers fell through the ice, into a semi-frozen pond. Two of the teens killed; the third has been hospitalized. Rescuers say the survivor was able to pull himself out of the water. His friends, however, got trapped under the ice for nearly an hour.

NGUYEN: Well, the CIA is vowing not to let the killing of seven of its employees in Afghanistan derail their mission to stop al Qaeda's terrorist activities. A video released yesterday shows the double-agent believed to be behind the attack, vowing revenge for the killing of a Taliban leader. That's him on the right.

Now, in an editorial in "The Washington Post," CIA Director Leon Panetta said the attack is a reminder that we are at war. Let's talk about budget cuts now on a mass scale. They can get kind of us struck, but it's a different story when you start putting faces to those affected.

HOLMES: And that's where our Kate Bolduan is doing for us. She takes us to Frederick County, Maryland, where state budget cuts are hitting the most vulnerable.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four-year-old Carson Brewster has a rare chromosomal disorder. Her mother Michelle left a contracting job four years ago to care for Carson full time.

MICHELLE BREWSTER, MOTHER: She can't care for herself. You know, we got to change her clothes. She gets fed through a tube. She's got over 22 doctors.

BOLDUAN (on camera): Twenty-two doctors.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): With $13,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses last year alone, Brewster says supplemental funds from the state of Maryland have been essential to her family's financial survival for years. But the economy has struck even this vulnerable segment of the population.

Faced with a $700 million budget shortfall, Maryland cut nearly $30 million from the state's Developmental Disabilities Administration.

For the Brewsters, that means painful decisions. The extra help for things like diapers, medication and physical therapy dropped from $2,500 to just $300.

(on camera): What does that really mean for you, guys?

BREWSTER: A struggle -- a struggle to figure out how we're going to help her -- you know, how to help our daughter and make sure that we have the monies to make sure our other children get, too. Mom and dad, me and my husband, we can wait. Our kids can't. And that's what it's all about.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Outraged by the state's action, advocates for the developmentally disabled launched a statewide campaign, holding town halls to fight the budget cut.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think people realize how this can totally devastate your family.

BOLDUAN: State officials say they understand, especially in this sluggish economy, every cut hurts somebody, but they defend the governor's budget decision.

CATHERINE RAGGIO, SECRETARY, MARYLAND DEPT. OF DISABILITIES: He was able to protect services for people with disabilities throughout most of the budget-cutting rounds. But the choices are getting much more difficult to make. It's not easy anymore.

BOLDUAN: And not easy for states across the country. A recent report by the Pew Center suggests state budget troubles are having far-reaching impact on residents.

SUSAN URAHN, PEW CENTER ON THE STATES: As the states face increasingly severe budget troubles, the public is definitely going to feel it. They'll pay more taxes. They'll pay higher fees.

BOLDUAN: With a $2 billion budget shortfall projected in Maryland for 2011, Brewster says she has no idea what's in store for her family's financial future. She only hopes more cuts aren't on the horizon for her daughter and so many others.

BREWSTER: They didn't ask to be disabled. We're not asking for hands out. We're just asking for a little bit of help. That's it.

BOLDUAN: Kate Bolduan, CNN, Frederick County, Maryland.


NGUYEN: Well, high-tech body scanners, they may be coming to an airport near you.

HOLMES: Yes. Get ready to take off more than you already do at the airport. We'll take a closer look at the next generation of security screening being called for by the president.


HOLMES: And hello there and welcome back to the CNN SUNDAY MORNING everybody. I'm T.J. Holmes.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. Good morning everybody.

HOLMES: A first here have you heard yes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is apologizing to whom? The president of the United States after racial remarks that he said during the campaign have been revealed. There's a new book coming out and called "Game Change" and it claims that Reid privately said that candidate Obama had a good shot thanks to his, quote, "light skin look and also because of his lack of" -- and I'm quoting again -- "Negro dialect".

Reid gave this statement to apologize and says, "I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African-Americans for my improper comments." The president has come out and said he does accept Reid's apology.

NGUYEN: I want to tell you know about a strong earthquake that rattled Northern California, the epicenter was near Eureka. It was a 6.5 magnitude quake; it was followed by several aftershocks. And you see some of the damage right there. Luckily no injuries were reported. One of our iReporters in fact sent us these pictures. You can imagine all the things that fell out of the shelves and on the cabinets because of this earthquake. We understand that power has been knocked out to some 2,800 people and there are reports of an isolated water line brake in a few areas as well as some broken windows.

HOLMES: Well, he has pleaded guilty but he says he's innocent. We're talking about the father of the so-called balloon boy. He's defending himself against allegations that the drama was a publicity stunt.

In an interview with our Larry King, Richard Heene says, he believes his son had in fact taken off in that home-made balloon but pleaded guilty to a felony to prevent his wife from being deported to Japan.

Heene begins his 90-day jail sentence tomorrow.

NGUYEN: As we've talking about all morning long words are coming back to haunt Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

HOLMES: Yes, done a bit of damage control over some racial remarks he made privately about President Obama during the campaign.

John King has a whole lot more coming up...

NGUYEN: Oh yes.

HOLMES: ... on this, this morning on "State of the Union."

John, we've got terrorism, we've got health care, we've got all this other stuff to be worried about and this seems to have come out of nowhere. How big of a distraction are we talking this going to be?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Well, I think they will move on from this quickly. But it is an important point. On the one sense Senator Harry Reid is 70 years old; you would think why he would use this language? A non Negro dialect or he has a better chance because he's light skinned.

He's a national leader, yes, he's a senator from Nevada but he's a national leader of the Democratic Party whose base has a significant number of African-American voters. You would think that he would learn to communicate in a better, more coherent and shall we say, politically correct way.

He did call the president and apologized. He also made a host of other calls to African-Americans and civil right leaders around the country. Among them our analysts, Donna Brazile who is a long time power on the Democratic National Committee. She'll be here a little bit later on the "State of the Union" so, we're going to ask her what it was like to be on the other end of the phone when Harry Reid called up to say sorry.

Look, he has a lot of reservoir of goodwill, not only at the White House with the President of the United States but with African- Americans and civil rights leaders for all the work he has done in his career. So he has a lot of friends saying, bad language, bad move, let's move on.

The other -the interesting question though, is he is up for re- election this year. And he faces a tough race back home, is it a stumble back home? Does it hurt him back home?

In a very close race, he'll need very high African-American and Latino turn out to help him. If they are offended back home, that could be Harry Reid's biggest problem.

NGUYEN: No doubt and we're going to be watching that very closely.

Something else that we are watching today, you have been all throughout this country, in fact on a 50-state tour of the nation. You finally went to that final stop. Tell us about it.

KING: The 50th straight for us in our tour. And we didn't do them in any particular order -- we just did them as the story is presented themselves to us -- is Wyoming. And I cannot tell you how proud I am of everyone who works on this program and how much I have learned because of the goodwill and the good wishes and the ability and the willingness of the American people in every state to share their stories with us.

We have been out there watching people sadly deal with this recession and unemployment. We have watched people about to deploy or just back from Iraq and Afghanistan. We've seen homeless single mothers and homeless teenagers in places across the country.

And I am a better reporter for it and the better person for it and we really think it's helped the program. Yes, we talk to powerful people in Washington every week but we've made it our mission to connect the dots and go out to every state in the country. And we've touched them all now and say when they debate things here in Washington, how does it feel? Does it really have the impact on you that they say it does here?

And it's made us a better program and it's a -- you know, beat up my old body a little bit, but it has been a blessing and really a great privilege to do it.

NGUYEN: That's a lot of miles to be traveling, got some really great stories.

HOLMES: You look good still, though John. You look great.

KING: Believe it or not T.J., I lost a few pounds in the last year. I don't know quite how I did that going to all of those diners. I had a pretty good meal out there.


HOLMES: Well, you talk about connecting the dots, really and just traveling to all of the states. A lot of the connecting of the dots talk has been about terrorism and the failure to connect the dots when it came to that Christmas day attempted bombing.

I know you're going to be talking Homeland Security this morning, which direction are you going to take?

KING: We are very fortunate this morning. John McCain -- Senator John McCain and Senator Joe Lieberman have been on the road the whole Christmas break. And they've been going to the countries that are on the frontlines in the war on terror. They've been to Afghanistan, Pakistan; they've been in Iraq. They talked to the government in Lebanon. They are moving on to the Republic of Georgia which helps us in the war on terrorism.

They are in Israel as we speak. Senator McCain is the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Senator Lieberman is the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. So we're going to ask them, what are they hearing from the government of Pakistan and Afghanistan. What are they seeing on the ground as they travel through this most volatile area of the world?

And we're also get them to assess the president's response this week. The president ordered a number of improvements in the airport security, he ordered, at least nudged, the intelligence agencies to please can you guys finally start sharing information in a smarter, quicker way.

And of course, he's used different language. He has said, we are at war, remember many of his critics say the president doesn't view this as a war.

So we have two men, who have been sometimes critics of the president but most importantly they have spent the last ten days on the frontlines talking to the government officials and talking to our military and intelligence people who are overseas, so we'll get a great assessment from them this morning of where we are and just how big is the threat.

NGUYEN: All right, but we are looking forward to it. It's a jammed packed show with some great topics.

KING: Thank you.

NGUYEN: John King -- great guests as well and a great host, nonetheless. John King at the top of the hour with "STATE OF THE UNION". Don't miss it.

HOLMES: We had to throw it in there just for you, John.

Well, in our "Faces of Faith" segment this morning, the segment we do every Sunday here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING. We're talking about the Nigerian Muslim, the one you know, who attempted to blow up that plane in Detroit. Well after he tried to do so it didn't do much good for the public perception of Islam.

Our Mary Snow though, traveled to Detroit, the destination of that flight he allegedly tried to blow up and she found Muslims ready to defend both the U.S. and their religion and that is today's "Faces of Faith".


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside a tiny mosque in Detroit, Imam Kazeem Agboola leads fellow Nigerian Muslims in prayer. It's a break from what he describes as the shocking news that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian and Muslim, stands accused of plotting to blow up an airliner.

IMAM KAZEEM AGBOOLA, MUSLIM COMMUNITY CENTER OF DETROIT: This is a disgrace, embarrassment to us as Muslims and to us as Nigerians.

SNOW: The Imam says he has immediate concerns about the safety of his small community but there's also anger within the community. What makes you angry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, because this is not the Islam that I understand, this is not the Islam that I know of.

SNOW: Members of this mosque joined other Muslim groups Tuesday in condemning the attempted terror plot.

DAWUD WALID, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CAIR-MICHIGAN: No faith or if you don't have political ideology, could ever justify the injuring or murdering of innocent civilians.

SNOW: But Majed Moughni, a lawyer and activist hopes for more than words. He lives in Dearborn, home to one of the country's largest Muslim communities. He says, American-Muslims we're just recovering from negative perceptions.

MAJED MOUGHNI, MUSLIM ACTIVIST: And now we get this other terrorist that attempts to blow an airliner right over our heads, right over the heads largest Muslim population outside the Middle East, right over our heads. And we're going to sit and watch? We said, no.

SNOW: Moughni is taking his anger to the streets and organizing online.

MOUGHNI: Our goal between now and then is to literally spread the word out.

SNOW: The message...

MOUGHNI: If they got something with America, we're Americans. If they got something against America, we're Muslims and we're prepared to die for Islam just like you are. We are not afraid of death just like you're not. Look, we're standing on the white side, the side of peace and join us.

SNOW: Mary Snow, CNN, Detroit.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: Now, that activist that you saw Mary Snow interview in her piece there, she actually talked to him and he actually led a rally outside the court where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arraigned on Friday. The Detroit Free Press says about 150 people showed up, most of them Muslims.


NGUYEN: A lot of record cold temperatures across the nation to tell you about; but in Florida, the freeze getting worse.

HOLMES: Yes. Bonnie Schneider is in here for us and seems so strange all morning to be talking about Florida and how cold it is.

NGUYEN: Yes, freezing conditions.

And they had a marathon this morning. Imagine people in Florida not used to that kind of cold getting out there and running in it.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, especially when you plan it in advance, I'm going to run a marathon in Orlando, Florida where it's 72 degrees, but now, not today. It was so cold Betty and T.J. that we are definitely seeing some cold temperatures there.

Here is a look at the marathon. It actually started early this morning at 5:30. It starts at Epcot center. They run all the way to the magic kingdom. 24,000 runners registered for today's race.

Yesterday was a half marathon and while today was colder, yesterday we had snow and sleet across parts of Orlando and Daytona Beach as well further to the east. So unbelievable, unappeasable weather.

How cold was it? Well, check this out. Record cold high temperatures; these are the actual high temperatures in Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota. All in the 40s. This is type of weather you'd see maybe in New York, certainly not in Florida.

How much a difference? Well, the normal high temperature is 70 degrees to 72 degrees. These are the coldest highs ever on this date according to the National Weather Service. No surprise there when you look at numbers like that because it's certainly not supposed to be in the 40s for high temperatures in Florida.

Currently we have 29 degrees in Orlando; down in Miami Beach, just hovering below 50. And the important thing to note while we're focusing on Florida is that low temperatures tonight are going to be cold for a long period of time. We are looking at what is known as a hard freeze. That means that temperatures in the region, as you see down into the Orlando area specifically and into Tampa, they will be around 28, 29 degrees, and that means we have temperatures sustained that long period of time we are looking at damage to the citrus crops tonight.

Good news though, things are improving as we get into the next few days. We will have more on that coming up. Stay tuned. CNN SUNDAY MORNING will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: All right. Time for a little "Extra Credit" this morning; you know, students, a lot of people will tell you this is the best time of your life. But being young doesn't always mean being carefree.

HOLMES: Yes. There are a lot of issues pressing on the young minds out there this New Year. Carl Azuz joins us from CNN Student News. Now, is this your first -- this is your first one with us in the New Year as well. Is that right?

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: That's right. First time that I have "Extra Credit"...


AZUZ: We were on just this past week.

NGUYEN: Both of you were off last weekend.

HOLMES: Yes thanks you. It's ok to say Happy New Year.

AZUZ: Actually I had two and a half weeks off. Sorry guys, I am more rested.


HOLMES: Your schedule's with the students' schedule.

So what is on their minds coming up this year? A lot of bad stuff we're trying to put behind last year.

AZUZ: Yes, exactly right. A lot of things that we followed, you guys covered and we wanted to know from them what are your concerns going into 2010? I went downstairs with a camcorder, talked to a couple of students here at CNN Center. This is what they had to say.


MARIA ABARCA, COLLEGE STUDENT: Education, I think college should be made cheaper for students. Not everybody has loads of money in their pockets, and some people that love to study and are smart cannot AFFORD to go to school. I would hope that prices will get lower or more scholarships will be more typical.

ANSE RIGBY, COLLEGE STUDENT: Employment, people having jobs, the economy, making sure you are going to school for a purpose, not just to get out of school and then be faced with not having a job, or not being able to use your education.


AZUZ: So a couple college students speaking to us there. So it's no surprised they are concerned about their education. We didn't just leave it there. We tossed it back to the students at and said, "What are your top concerns?" We're looking forward to their comments coming in this week.

But that's not the only subject we have this morning on "Extra Credit".

NGUYEN: Yes, I also hear you had a bit of a moral dilemma that you want to discuss.

AZUZ: Absolutely. I do. CNN's Tony Harris recently went to Grady High School and talked to some students there. The question came up -- the subject came up -- would you report a crime or fight something you knew was wrong if doing so would put you at risk?

The comments we got from this very wide range. We have a couple for you today. One from Alison saying, "If it was something that could get me or anyone I love or care about hurt, I would not tell. If it was something where I would not be in danger of reporting, I would tell. For me it depends on what the situation is.

NGUYEN: That's an honest answer.

AZUZ: It was. There were also comments where people said justice. You have this one coming in saying, "If something terrible happened I would definitely report it even if I was at risk. If you know that something occurred, you should give it justice.

Most students said they would not want to get involved. They wouldn't want to be termed a snitch. They wouldn't want to put themselves or their friends at risk. But those who did stand up said, "No matter what it is that's wrong, I'm going to report it. I'm going to give what justice that I can.

HOLMES: And some students, it's not even a matter of being in danger. Some just have -- it's just a culture of you don't tattle tale.

AZUZ: You don't want to be a snitch.


All right. Good stuff.

NGUYEN: Very interesting. Yes.

HOLMES: Good start to the New Year. Interesting stuff as always; looking forward to this year with you.

AZUZ: Thanks for having me back.

NGUYEN: Yes, glad to have you both back for the New Year.

AZUZ: Like the triumvirate of cool.

NGUYEN: Thank you Carl. What was that all about?

HOLMES: You have been getting on to everybody because you happened to be here last weekend.

Well, most of the world has already been, what, ten days into the New Year; just because you are at work this weekend you are excited.

HOLMES: We had a rough start to the New Year, I say again. It's been a tough morning.

NGUYEN: I'm glad that you're back thought.

HOLMES: It sounds like it. Thank you.

NGUYEN: We have this relationship.

All right. So, high-tech body scanners, they are coming to an airport near you.

HOLMES: Yes, we're going to take a closer look at the next generation of security screening.


HOLMES: Full body scans, more bag checks and more passenger screenings; can't wait to travel, can you? They're going to be, in fact, a way of life after that failed attack on flight 253.

NGUYEN: But it's not going to stop just there, because as our Brian Todd tells us scientists are working on even more creative ways to catch airline threats.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When President Obama said this.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To develop and deploy the next generation of screening technologies.

TODD: This is what he meant. You are looking at what one homeland security official calls an electronic dog's nose. It's a trace sensor device, one of the technologies being developed by the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security to protect passengers from terrorists.

The trace sensor can sniff explosive traces on a person's hand, possible near a body cavity. It can smell minute odors even from sealed containers.

SUSAN HALLOWELL, TRANSPORATION SECURITY LABORATORY: There's enough vapor from around the steel (ph) bottle to use. It's actually a device to find.

TODD: Another device called a Mag Viz (ph) is just for luggage. It's a low strength MRI machine that can detect which liquids bite explosives. Harmless liquids get green dots. A potential liquid explosive gets a red one.

A homeland security official says they are also looking at thermal imaging technology that can distinguish between the temperatures of skin and foreign objects.

As we reported last spring, the Pentagon's developing this to interrogate prisoners for signs of stress, highlighted in the red areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Brian, tell me how you like working for your boss?

TODD: I love it. It's the most fulfilling professional experience I've ever had. Looks like I am spiking.

There is some skepticism. Homeland security expert Randy Larsen says he is all for research and development, but what are the big drawbacks to some of these things in development right now, some of these technologies?

RANDY LARSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY EXPERT: Well, Some things work really well in the laboratory in a very controlled environment when two or three people are going through a system in an hour. At an airport where we have a million people going through, we have 2,000 screening lanes just in U.S. airports -- about 2,200 screening lanes so we have to buy a lot of them. They are very expensive.

TODD: In response to that, one homeland security official says cost is a huge component they are factoring in. He says that Mag-Viz machine for instance is not too far away from being deployable. But he says MRI technology is expensive. You can't place that in every airport right now, and they are figuring out ways to do that.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


NGUYEN: Well, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized to the president after a new book revealed Reid's questionable comments about Candidate Obama.

HOLMES: And we're going to be reading some of your comments on this and you have sent in a lot. Some amazing good points; we'll be sharing them in just a few minutes. Stay with us.


HOLMES: All right. We want to share some of your comments. You sent a ton in to Betty and I on Twitter and Facebook about what Harry Reid said about Candidate Obama, saying he had a better chance of winning because -- and again I'm quoting, "Because he lacked a Negro dialect and because he was light-skinned."

And people have been chiming in on that this morning.

NGUYEN: Yes they have. Harry Reid has since apologized. President Obama has accepted that.

But here is what you are saying.

Let's go to my Twitter site, first up and CoalbyTrade (ph) says, "Reid can get away with those comments because he is on the same team as the president. A Republican would be hammered. FYI, I am independent.

Khalid1 says, "Well, that was a hell of a thing to say. He needed to apologize.

But spyderbite (ph) brings up a really interesting. He says, "In a corporate environment, Reid would have been fired for those remarks and possibly sued by the target.

Really appreciate your comments coming in today. In fact, you know, and some people have said on both of our sites, T.J., that even though people have really taken note of this and object to it, some people have said, "You know what? He was speaking the truth."

HOLMES: It's the truth. It's just a sensitive environment. That topic is the most sensitive probably we have in this country, and you just have to be politically correct.

People wish we could have an open conversation about that maybe. But really, during the campaign, behind the scenes, a lot of people, a lot of friends and a lot of us know folks who had these conversations, but to say it like that out in the open and to be a public leader in the country.

NGUYEN: And one facing an uphill battle for reelection, too. So we'll see how this weighs in on all of that.

Thank you for your comments this weekend. We always do appreciate them and have more questions for you in the coming weeks.

HOLMES: "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING" coming up in just a second, but first we do want to take a check of some of the morning's top headlines.

Again, on that story you'll be hearing plenty about -- if you haven't heard the details -- again, the Senator Majority Leader is apologizing to the President for those racially-charged remarks.

A new book is coming out. It's called "Game Change" and it claims that Reid privately said that candidate Obama had a good shot thanks to his, "light-skinned looks and lack of Negro dialect.

The president issued a statement saying, "I accepted Harry's apology without question because I've known him for years. I've seen the passionate leadership he's shown on issues of social justice and I know what's in his heart.

That topic certainly will come up this morning on "State of the union with John King. They're also going to be talking a lot about national security with a special guest; coming up right now, "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING".