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CNN NEWSROOM

The Battle for Iraq; Ghosts From the Past

Aired January 25, 2007 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TONY HARRIS, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield in today for Heidi Collins.

For the next three hours watch events as they come into the NEWSROOM, live on this Thursday, the 25th of January. Here's what's on the rundown.

The battle for Iraq on the streets of Baghdad and on Capitol Hill today. Live to Baghdad and Washington.

HARRIS: Ghosts from the past. A Mississippi man in court this morning faces charges in a civil rights era murder case.

WHITFIELD: A daring grab-and-go, a quarter-million-dollar diamond necklace stolen. Hot bling from, of all places, a Sam's Club. That straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: At the top this morning, a crackdown on insurgents, an impassioned plea by Iraq's embattled prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, issuing an urgent request today to Iraq's parliament. He is asking lawmakers to shelve their politics and support the new security plan. The future of Iraq may well depend on it.

CNN's Michael Holmes is in Baghdad with new developments. And Michael, we understand new violence in the capital within the last few minutes.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BAGHDAD: Just minutes ago. That's right, Tony. You could see it from our location here. It was a car bomb, a suicide car bomber striking at a police patrol just outside the Green Zone, an area called Karrada.

Two killed and six wounded at this stage. And this follows on from reports we're still confirming that two mortars landed inside the Green Zone, not altogether an uncommon occurrence, but these things happening in pretty quick succession.

This also followed, Tony, another bombing planted - a bomb planted on a motorcycle, which exploded right in the heart of the capital this morning, killed at least four, wounded 20. And that was in nearly exactly the same place where 88 people were killed and 160 wounded on Monday in those dual suicide bombings we reported on.

There was also a dual roadside bombing this day, two killed, 10 wounded. Baghdad, as always, Tony, just a list of things that happen here on a daily basis.

What was unusual was hearing the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al- Maliki, in parliament, vowing on Thursday that his crackdown here in Baghdad would leave militants with nowhere to hide.

Speaking to parliamentarians, he urged politicians on all sides to support his Baghdad security plan, which, of course, is going to be backed by thousands of U.S. reinforcements. He said there would be no safe haven. And he also said that many of the bad guys have already left town.

But then again, Tony, we've been told that a lot of the insurgents are really laying low at the moment to see how this pans out and biding their time.

HARRIS: Well, Michael, as you know, the interview yesterday between Wolf Blitzer - our very own Wolf Blitzer - and the vice president, Dick Cheney, making a lot of headlines here in the U.S.

One of the things that Wolf brought up yesterday I want you to address in just a moment. But first, let's listen to Wolf asking a question of the vice president about a possible nightmare scenario in Baghdad that is different than the one that the administration has laid out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN'S THE SITUATION ROOM: How worried are you of this nightmare scenario, that the U.S. is building up this Shiite-dominated Iraqi government with an enormous amount of military equipment, sophisticated training, and then in the end they're going to turn against the United States?

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wolf, that's not going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Michael, you have been in country, what, six, seven times now. You have watched this fight for Iraq unfold over the years.

Is the scenario that Wolf laid out to the vice president a possibility, from what you have witnessed on the ground in these close to four years now?

HOLMES: Yes, eight times now, Tony. And I think that the vice president may think that. But I think a lot of other people think that's entirely possible, one of the reasons being that this Shiite- dominated government is also influenced by elements linked to Iran.

And so, there is great fear that what the U.S. is going to end up here with at the end of the day is going to be an Iranian-backed, Iranian-influenced government that really forms part of what a lot of people in the Sunni world fear, and that is that Shia crescent stretching down through the south of Iraq - which is almost Iranian now - into Kuwait, across to Jordan, influencing Saudi Arabia.

And so, yes, a lot of analysts and a lot of people here on the ground - certainly Sunnis - fear that very thing, that they're going to be left with a Shiite-dominated government that, in fact, is dominated itself by Iran - Tony.

HARRIS: CNN's Michael Holmes for us in Baghdad. Michael, as always, great to see you. Thanks.

WHITFIELD: And more now on the vice president's interview with our Wolf Blitzer, an exclusive interview.

He tells CNN that Congress "won't stop us." He says lawmakers can do what they want, but they won't prevent the president from sending more troops to Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: We are moving forward.

The Congress has control of the purse strings. They have the right, obviously, if they want, to cut off funding. But in terms of this effort, the president's made his decision.

We've consulted extensively with them. We'll continue to consult with the Congress. But the fact of the matter is, we need to get the job done.

(END VIDEO)

WHITFIELD: The battle over the war intensifying in Washington, lawmakers fighting President Bush's plan to add more troops.

CNN Congressional correspondent Dana Bash reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON: Twelve hours after the president asked Congress to give his new Iraq plan time to work, he got his answer. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee began debate on a resolution opposing more troops in Iraq.

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) DELAWARE, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: And what it is, is an attempt to save the president from making a significantly - a significant mistake with regard to our policy in Iraq.

BASH: The nonbinding resolution says a troop increase is "not in the national interest of the United States."

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, (R) NEBRASKA: We'd better be as sure as you can be. And I want every one of you - every one of us 100 senators - to look in that camera, and you tell your people back home what you think.

BASH: The sole Republican who voted for the resolution challenged the entire Senate to engage in what he called an overdue debate about a mangled war.

HAGEL: Why were you elected? If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes.

BASH: Although nine out of 10 GOP senators voted against the measure, almost none said they support the president.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR, (R) INDIANA: I am not confident that President Bush's plan will succeed.

BASH: The committee's top Republican said he was voting against the resolution, because it would send the wrong signal to U.S. troops and, he said, the White House wouldn't listen anyway.

LUGAR: This vote will force nothing on the president. But it will confirm to our friends and allies that we are divided and in disarray.

BASH: Four Republicans on the committee said they agree with Democrats that sending more troops to Iraq is a mistake, but said they are looking for what they consider less controversial language to support.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (R) ALASKA: I happen to disagree with the president on the surge. I don't believe that that is the most effective way for us to move forward at this point in time.

Do I feel disloyal in saying that? No.

(END VIDEO)

WHITFIELD: Dana Bash joining us now live on the Hill.

So, here's the split that we're seeing among a lot of senators who are saying they don't necessarily want to see more troops being sent, but at the same time, they don't want to see that the troops that are already there won't be receiving the kind of equipment they need or the money that's needed to help them do their job.

BASH: Right. And the big question after the vote yesterday in that committee is, what next. And the answer to that is that it goes to the Senate floor. There will be votes there next week.

And after the committee had its vote yesterday, something else happened that was very important and telling in terms of what's going to happen going forward. A leading Republican senator, John Warner, who is a very influential voice on the Iraq war, formally introduced a resolution, also opposing the president. He has 10 co-sponsors, including four Republicans.

So, the question is, how many Republicans are going to end up voting for that or anything like that when it comes to a head on the Senate floor? What they're hoping, the folks who are backing Senator John Warner, is that their language is a little bit less confrontational and it could get some bipartisan support. So, what Republican leaders, along with the White House, are trying to do is work very hard behind the scenes to try to come up with an alternative, Fredricka, to try to at least keep those vote numbers down, because if it is a bipartisan vote, it will be very much a repudiation of the president's war policy.

But it is telling that the Republican leader has threatened to filibuster any resolution opposing sending more troops to Iraq. He's no longer doing that, because he understands that even in his own party there is great opposition to that idea.

WHITFIELD: All right. And a lot at stake overall.

Dana Bash, thanks so much, from Capitol Hill.

HARRIS: A minimum wage bill that zipped through the House hits a snag in the Senate. Democrats couldn't get enough votes to cut off debate and move the bill forward.

The federal minimum wage has been unchanged for 10 years now.

During the mid-term election campaign, Democrats promised a more then $2 increase in hourly wages. The minimum wage legislation is still alive, but it appears Democratic leaders will likely have to include tax breaks for small businesses to draw enough Republican support to pass the measure.

We will keep watching developments, and we will keep you posted.

WHITFIELD: Two black teens murdered in Mississippi. Today, 43 years later, a suspect in the case goes to court.

Former sheriff's deputy James Ford Seale expected to be arraigned in about two hours from now. Seale is charged in connection with the disappearance and deaths of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Dee.

Authorities say the teens were kidnapped while hitchhiking near an ice cream stand in Meadville, Mississippi, back in 1964. Their bodies were found in the Mississippi River. We do expect the Justice Department to release new details on this investigation later on this morning in a live news conference.

HARRIS: This just in to CNN. We have been following the situation in Beirut over the last few days in Lebanon, because Hezbollah has called for protests, as you know, over the last few days, aimed at toppling the Siniora government there.

We're getting wire reports that at least one opposition student was shot dead today during a clash between rival groups of students loyal to the government and to the opposition at a Beirut university. Not immediately clear who shot the student. At least 25 people were hurt, some by gunfire and others in the clashes that followed.

We will continue to follow developments. As you can see, this video just in to CNN, billowing smoke there. We will follow developments and bring you the very latest as we get them. WHITFIELD: In time a rugged border region? Could it be a safe haven for al Qaeda? Concern about a reemerging threat, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Caring for the dogs, and they say being treated like one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I was forced to sleep on a dog bed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: When the dream of coming to America turns into a nightmare. That story ahead in the NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: A shiny new truck for he who helped police find those two missing boys in Missouri. Details up next, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And how about this? A smash-and-grab heist at a Florida Sam's Club? These aren't discount diamonds. Robbery in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: New video we're just now getting in. This is a scene at the Beirut University in Lebanon.

Well, in the midst of it all, we understand that one student has been shot dead in a clash between rival groups - some students who are in support of the government, others who are in opposition of. We also understand that about 25 other people have been hurt, some by gunfire, in these clashes.

We continue to watch the developments there at Beirut University.

HARRIS: Another candidate is getting into the 2008 presidential race, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter. Hunter is a 14-term conservative from California.

He made his presidential intentions known back in October. His formal announcement came this morning in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R) CALIFORNIA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My fellow Americans, with the support of our families, with faith in God and with confidence in the goodness of the American people, let's begin this race for the American presidency, and let's win.

Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Some quick facts about Hunter now. He is a decorated veteran and has served on the House Armed Services Committee. Hunter is a strong supporter of the military.

On immigration, the congressman supports a fence along the Mexican border and supports the prosecution of smugglers bringing illegal immigrants across the border.

WHITFIELD: Count Senator John Kerry out. The Massachusetts Democrat said he's skipping a second run for the White House. Instead, he says he plans to spend his time trying to end the Iraq war.

In 2004, Kerry lost the popular vote by a 51 to 48 margin. He fell short of the presidency by just 18 electoral votes.

HARRIS: President Bush pushing a new energy plan, and our Tom Foreman is reading the fine print.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON: The cornerstone of the White House initiative is called "20 in 10," reducing U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil.

TOM FOREMAN: But the president doesn't mean 20 percent less gas than we use today. He's talking about 20 percent less than we are predicted to be using in 10 years.

That would do little to reduce the current release of gases that cause global warming, so the Union of Concerned Scientists is concerned.

DAVID FOREMAN, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS: At the end of the day, if we're going to get serious about tackling global warming and pollution, we need to cut today's emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

TOM FOREMAN: The White House says global warming is an issue, so the president also wants more fuel efficiency from cars sold in America and the development of more fuels like ethanol made from corn, which emit fewer greenhouse gases.

He has ordered federal agencies to buy more hybrid vehicles and reduce government gas consumption by two percent a year.

BUSH: It's one thing to say, this is the goal. It's another thing to actually participate in achieving that goal.

TOM FOREMAN: Democrats seem unimpressed. At the Washington, D.C., auto show, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.

SEN. EVAN BAYH, (D) INDIANA: We think we can do somewhat better over the next 10 years, and substantially better over the next 20.

TOM FOREMAN: The dirty secret, of course, is that the White House and Congress will need each other if they're going to make any real progress toward changing America's energy policies.

Still, the president said, "I'm going to push for it. It's vital."

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our nation.

TOM FOREMAN: That president, however, was Jimmy Carter. And that was 30 years ago.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO)

WHITFIELD: You might call this a smashing day for a pair of jewelry thieves' expensive taste a big box discounter. Hot diamonds in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And we are "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Carrie Lee is in for Ali Velshi. Carrie, good morning.

CARRIE LEE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Tony.

Ford Motor Company reporting its worst annual loss in its 103- year history. We'll have that story coming up in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And once again, let's take you back to Beirut, Lebanon, and look at some of these pictures, more and more dramatic by the moment. Clashes that have been going on all week - live pictures now.

As you know, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has called for open protests against the Fouad Siniora government there in Beirut in Lebanon. And this is the result throughout the week.

The escalation of events on the ground leading to what you're looking at right now. This scene in Beirut at a Beirut university. At least one opposition student was shot dead during a clash between rival groups of students loyal to the government and to the opposition at Beirut University. At least 25 other people hurt in the skirmishes.

We had some pictures just a moment ago, and Michael, maybe we can pull those up, as well, of some of the activity on the ground as police forces are trying to calm the situation.

Members of the Lebanese army, as you can see, on the ground. And some of the back-and-forth that is going on right now between students at this university.

We will keep an eye on this story, bring you the latest pictures into the NEWSROOM, but first a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS: And we continue to watch the situation as it unfolds in Beirut, Lebanon. At least one opposition student was shot dead - and maybe we need to clarify that term, this idea of an opposition student - was shot dead during a clash between rival groups of students.

This (UNINTELLIGIBLE) - rival groups of students facing off against one another, one group loyal to the government of Fouad Siniora, and then the opposition group following the calls from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to stage protests throughout this week to destabilize that government. At least one person shot dead, at least 25 others hurt.

Take a look at these pictures, the most dramatic so far of the clashes going on in the streets. The army doing the best it can to intervene here and try to keep the sides apart.

You can hear the gunfire. Let's listen in for just a moment.

Again, this clash going on, playing out right now. A new video in to CNN in the last couple of minutes of this demonstration. Rock- throwing. You'll see a car being attacked here in a moment, and obviously the person inside that car, as well.

But we will keep an eye on this situation and bring you the latest developments and try to put these pictures in a bit better context with our correspondents on the ground a little later in the hour, here in the NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: And now to some business news here on the domestic front. We knew that 2006 was a tough year for Ford. Now we find out just how tough.

Carrie Lee is "Minding Your Business."

So, huge losses for Ford. Why?

CARRIE LEE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. 2006 the worst for Ford Motor Company in terms of annual losses. The Detroit giant lost $12.7 billion during the year, a lot of it in the fourth quarter, $5.8 billion in Q4 alone.

Now, this is pretty much what Wall Street had been expecting, and we know the underlying story here - less demand for big trucks and SUVs, Fred, because of high gas prices and fierce competition from Japanese rivals.

So, more of the same and what we've seen in recent years. A lot of these losses also due to all those buyouts that they're offering workers for early retirement.

And experts say 2007 probably isn't going to be a turnaround year. They are revamping some models, but not enough to really turn things around. So, that is the latest on Ford, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Well, hearing all of this, talking about their pickup trucks doing so poorly. At the same time, the F Series pickup trucks are their biggest seller, and they've been applauding that.

LEE: Sales have come down, though, lately for the F Series. Now, they are revamping that model, as well as some SUVs, so probably will help things a little bit. But with losses like this, they're really going to have to do a lot to revamp.

Now, one caveat going forward, President Bush's State of the Union and talking about raising those fuel efficiency standards. Well, that could force Detroit to sort of step up the competition compared to Japanese rivals like Honda and Nissan. Of course though, Fred, they will have to spend some money to do that, if those standards are mandated.

WHITFIELD: So, Carrie, I wonder how much Wall Street expected this, or anybody else. Was the indicator perhaps the plant closings that, you know ...

LEE: Right.

WHITFIELD: ... Ford is in deep trouble, and something else, the other shoe is going to drop.

LEE: Exactly. You know, I don't think these numbers were a big surprise, pretty much in line with what Wall Street has been expecting.

What some people are now thinking is, OK, we know how bad it was. The worst over. Hopefully things will, if not turn around this year, then at least start to improve going forward.

And you know, those buyouts, Wall Street typically likes when companies save money. So that is actually a positive on the Street.

WHITFIELD: All right. Carrie Lee, thanks so much.

LEE: Sure.

HARRIS: A surprise and contradictory update on the health of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, says the ailing leader is not only recovering and walking, he is almost jogging?

Jogging?

WHITFIELD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hear that.

HARRIS: Well, Mr. Castro - yes, Mr. Castro is recovering from intestinal surgery and hasn't been seen in public for the past six months. Less than a week ago, the Venezuelan president described him as battling for his life.

A Russian man arrested for trying to sell weapons grade uranium. Details emerging today of the sting operation last summer. The National Nuclear Security Administration says the amount of uranium was small, not large enough to be used for a bomb. Authorities do not believe the incident was related to terrorism. A U.S. official says the man was tried, convicted and is in prison in the Republic of Georgia. The CIA and the FBI assisted in the case.

WHITFIELD: And we're starting the bottom of the hour with the opening bell right there.

HARRIS: All right. Ethan Allen.

WHITFIELD: Representatives of Ethan Allen Interiors, yes, there they are at the helm. Well, let's hope that today gets to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of carrying the momentum from, say, yesterday. The Dow yesterday recording its first-ever close over 12,600, being up 87 points. Let's hope that the momentum keeps going. This might be a good day on Wall Street.

HARRIS: Battle over Iraq being fought in Washington. A non- binding resolution opposing President Bush's troop build-up heads to the full Senate, approved yesterday by the Foreign Relations Committee. Only one Republican, Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, joined the Democrats in backing the resolution. But even Republicans opposed to it are expressing doubts about sending more troops. Senate Democrats say they're willing to negotiate the language to win more Republican support for the measure.

Two other Senate hearings on Iraq getting underway this morning: The Foreign Relations Committee focusing on Iraq reconstruction, the Armed Services Committee taking up the planned troop increase and aid to the Iraqi government.

Also today, the full Senate is expected to confirm Lieutenant General David Petraeus to be the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. He will be awarded a fourth star upon confirmation.

WHITFIELD: U.S. and Iraqi troops launch a security crackdown in Baghdad. And insurgents strike back with deadly vengeance. In one attack a bomb planted on a motorbike exploded in a market in central Baghdad, the toll, four dead, 20 wounded. The site is not far from where attacks Monday killed 88 people. Also today, dual roadside bombs exploded in western Baghdad, two people killed, 10 wounded. The target, a busy commercial area.

HARRIS: Let's get the latest now on the live pictures that we've been bringing you throughout the morning of clashes, ongoing, right now, in Beirut, Lebanon. Our Chief International Correspondent Nic Robertson is on the line with us from Beirut.

Nic, what can you tell us about what we're watching now? It appears to be a series of clashes between two groups of students?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CHIEF INT'L. CORRESPONDENT, CNN NEWSROOM, VIA PHONE: Two political factions have been clashing around the university. The local press have been reporting that up to 10, or more, people have been injured, possibly one person killed.

What I am seeing out on the streets now, in the center of Beirut -- I'm driving towards the university -- street fires are burning, young men are gathering on the streets. The neighborhood I'm in is a Hezbollah dominated neighborhood, young Hezbollah men now manning checkpoints in the city here. They're holding, in some places, wooden clubs.

The situation is very, very tense on the streets of Beirut right now. Both governments and opposition leaders have told their people to stay off the streets and stay at home because of sectarian tension -- driving past young men here, holding four-foot wooden clubs, at checkpoints on the roads.

The situation around the university erupted about an hour ago. It is not clear exactly what sparked it -- driving past burning barricades now -- it is not clear what sparked that demonstration. But if I drive through the streets, here, it is a very, very tense time.

HARRIS: Nic, if we could, let's provide a little bit of the backdrop for what we're watching right now. It has been clear for a while, Hezbollah, and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has openly called for protests in what appears to be an attempt to destabilize the Siniora government.

ROBERTSON: What Hezbollah-led opposition has been trying to do is undermine the Western-backed governments of Fouad Siniora here. They called for a 24-hour strike two days ago. That strike brought the country to a stand still. Burning barricades were put in the streets. It took the Lebanese Army a whole night to clear those barricades during those demonstrations, about -- more than 100 people were injured, more than three people killed.

As I head towards the university now, I see the smoke, rocketing. I'm on a major highway, that is normally very busy with traffic. Right now, there's an army -- armored personnel carrier blocking the road here. What we have heard is the army, the Lebanese Army is trying to do is to secure the area around the university, to stop rival factions getting close to each other.

We're being told by the army that the road here is closed at the moment. We'll try and get through to get closer to the university.

These rival factions that have been fighting around the university, today, are symptomatic of the sectarian tensions that were sparked during those national strikes two days ago. What happened, that in the violence that ensued during those demonstrations, it wasn't just pro-and anti-government factions that were facing off, but it was some of the old sectarian rivals from Lebanon's 1970s, 1980s, 15-year long civil war. Some of those tensions were sparked and that appears to be, perhaps, what has triggered the violence around the university, the scene -- but right now the soldiers here are telling us, at least, this checkpoint at the main highway, normally a bustling highway, now completely deserted, is closed, Tony.

HARRIS: All right. We are going to let you go, Nic, so that you can get to your location, and bring us the very latest on what is happening on the ground, right now, in Beirut, Lebanon. Our Chief International Correspondent Nic Robertson on the phone with us.

WHITFIELD: Still overseas, straight ahead, a rugged border region, a safe haven for Al Qaeda, concerned about a reemerging threat straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

And caring for -- the dog, and they say, being treated like one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I was forced to sleep on the dog bed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: When the dream of coming to America turns into a nightmare. You are in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: An extended tour of duty for some U.S. troops in Afghanistan and warning today about a renewed threat along the Afghan border with Pakistan. Fueling these developments, concern about Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr joins us live with details on all of this.

Barbara, let's begin with the troop deployment, which may be extended by about how much?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, CN NEWSROOM: Well, Fredricka, just a few minutes ago, the Pentagon actually made it official.

A unit of about 3,200 soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division, headquartered in Upstate New York, will have their tour of duty, in Afghanistan, extended by up to 120 days, up to four months. They were scheduled to come home next month. They, now, are likely to be in Afghanistan at least through June.

Why 3200 extra troops on the ground? It's the Taliban and Al Qaeda; the Taliban simply, for months now, have not let up in their attacks in Afghanistan. Attacks continue on the rise. A couple weeks ago, U.S. commanders on the ground took a look at the situation and decided they thought they would need the higher troop levels. They went to Secretary Gates; he has now approved that. It's official. U.S. troops will have their tour in Afghanistan extended.

WHITFIELD: So, Barbara, alongside the Pakistan/Afghan border, it's always been made clear, publicly, that the Taliban is fairly strong -- strongly entrenched there. Why is this a new development that perhaps Al Qaeda may be as strongly entrenched?

STARR: Well, what has happened over the last several months, U.S. intelligence officials say, is core Al Qaeda operatives, you know, senior Al Qaeda have really found a very strong safe haven in Pakistan. It had always been believed that they were hiding out there.

But, you know, last year, President Musharraf, of Pakistan, basically cut a deal with the tribal elements along the border, and it all resulted into it turning into a safe haven. One senior intelligence official told us -- just yesterday -- he said, look, the training camps are full now, meaning the training camps inside Pakistan.

What he talked about is he said, it's not Taliban we're talking about, it's core central Al Qaeda. So there is serious growing concerns that basically the Pakistan government has written off that region. That they've let Al Qaeda take hold there again. The training camps are full, Al Qaeda is basically able to reorganize, engage in coordination activities, and communication. That is becoming the staging ground now for many of the attacks the U.S. has seen across the border in Afghanistan. The reason that U.S. troops are being extended now.

WHITFIELD: And so, let's not forget, the long-held belief that Al Qaeda top man Osama bin Laden, would be in that very region as well. What is the U.S. doing besides extending the tour of duty to try to get to the bottom of this area along the Pakistani border?

STARR: You know, Fred, that, for the last five years, has been the central problem for U.S. military and U.S. intelligence. This is Pakistani territory. The U.S. just doesn't go in there. Pervez Musharraf, the president, is a close ally to the United States, he has continued to assure the United States, for the last five years, that his military is doing everything they can.

But what has emerged is the situation on the ground has fundamentally changed in the last year. Because of that agreement, he has with his tribes, in that region, that his military won't really go in there. It's kind of all very vague. If they promise not to shelter Al Qaeda and there's no penalties if they do shelter Al Qaeda. That basically, this safe haven has emerged.

So for the U.S. military, for the U.S. intelligence community, there doesn't seem to be much progress in this area. They say they're trying to collect intelligence. But they don't go in on the ground and unless you have troops on the ground in Pakistan, it's hard to see how they will make any progress in catching those top fish, if you will.

WHITFIELD: ALL right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Thanks so much -- Tony.

HARRIS: Once again, let's take you back to Beirut, Lebanon and show you these amazing pictures in to CNN. Once again, new violence in Beirut, the latest challenge to the Western-backed government of Fouad Siniora. These pictures of clashes between students --

(GUNFIRE)

I just want to hear that -- that burst of gunfire, there. These pictures of clashes between students at a Beirut university. Reports of one dead, anywhere from 10 to 25 injured. New pictures now, the latest pictures of this clash in to CNN; as you can see, the army out in force, trying to bring some sense of calm to the situation. A situation that, you saw, from the pictures moments ago, that seem to be quickly getting out of hand.

The Lebanese army doing everything it can to control the situation. This has been a week, Fred, of rising tension as Hezbollah has called not only for a national strike, or earlier in the week that shut down Beirut, but clearly, Hezbollah has called for continued protests of the Siniora government. And it has led to some of the activity you see today.

The army there, in Lebanon, moving out now to try to restore order to that section of the city, where violence has broken out today. We will continue to follow these pictures, and the developing information on the ground in Beirut, Lebanon, and bring you the very latest here in the NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: I know we're reporting at Beirut university, but it does seem hard to believe, does it not, the majority of these --

HARRIS: It does.

WHITFIELD: ... young people involved in the clashes are, indeed, students from Beirut university?

HARRIS: It does. And perhaps we'll get some clarification on that, as well. Perhaps some troublemakers, certainly outsiders, in the mix here.

WHITFIELD: Good save.

Also, straight ahead. Smash and grab. Is a heist taking place in Florida. Where? In a Sam's Club. These are not -- people -- discount diamonds. Not for everybody. Maybe for them it seemed discount, right? Robbery in the NEWSROOM -- well, not really, but sort of.

HARRIS: Not really, right, right.

A shiny new truck for a teen who helped police find those two missing boys in Missouri. Details straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And quickly, want to keep this on your radar, just the latest video coming into CNN, of the clashes going on in Beirut, Lebanon, today. The latest challenge, as we have been mentioning to you, to the Western-backed Fouad Siniora.

These actually, Fred, look like new pictures.

WHITFIELD: They do.

HARRIS: The first set of pictures, at least from this camera position, of the violence and the back and forth that is going on at a Beirut university. You can see here, clearly, a staging area for the Lebanese army, right now, as it tries to get some kind of control over the situation.

A fire, as you can see, burning in the background, there. We have no idea what the cause of that is. We're getting reports that one person has been shot dead in the clashes. There is some new reporting on that, coming over the wires, as well. We're going to independently confirm that information.

WHITFIELD: It might be stoking the fires, that you've got the government-backed army, now getting involved, to try to police the situation, when this clash is all about support, or opposition, to the government.

HARRIS: These two groups, it started out -- the initial reporting is that this was a clash between two groups of students, one in opposition of the government, and one in support of the government, facing off against one another, on the grounds of the university.

As you can see, in the streets, as well, throwing rocks and whatever else. The army trying to do whatever it can to keep control of the situation. But this has been a week of rising tensions in the area. We will continue to follow this. And weave in all the pictures that come into the CNN NEWSROOM, as soon as we get them. And we -- in addition to that -- will bring you the proper context, as to what you are watching.

WHITFIELD: Understandably, this involves more than just the university, given that the Beirut University is right downtown. We will continue to watch it.

Also, straight ahead, something we're watching. And we want you to look at this, too. Look at this. A smashing day for a pair of jewelry thieves. Expensive tastes, you'd say, at a big box discounter. We're calling it hot diamonds, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Here in the NEWSROOM we continue to watch what's going on in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. Beirut University, now the center piece of new violence. This time, the violence is being stoked by feuding students, or at least young people there, in the university proximity.

Some in support of Fouad Siniora's government, others in opposition, being urged on by Hezbollah's leader. An urging that took place a couple days ago, urging those students who are against the government, to form some sort of organized protest.

Now, we're seeing this is the result, clashes that have resulted in the injury of about 24 to 25 people. We're hearing of one student, who has died in this conflict.

We continue to watch it. The government's backed army there, trying to quell the violence. Will it further stoke the violence? We'll be watching the developments and bringing them to you.

HARRIS: It is a common misconception that cancer strikes older people. In reality, young adults are often victims. CNN's Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen looks at early detection in today's "30- 40-50".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN NEWSROOM (voice over): John Laudier does all the right things. He exercises and eats right, but a routine physical, when he was 31, didn't lead to a clean bill of health.

JOHN LAUDIER, 31-YEAR-OLD CANCER SURVIVOR: You know you're in trouble when the doctor grabs the chair by the bottom, and scoots up, and puts his arm between his legs and gives you that look. You know, like, nah, not good. Not good, in that soft voice, he goes, John, you have cancer.

COHEN: Laudier was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was at a very early stage and after surgery and radiation, doctors have told him he is going to be fine.

LAUDIER: Catching it that early makes a huge difference. That's what I try to tell my buddies -- I told all my good friends, go. Go see a doctor.

COHEN: Many young men think cancer is something only older people get. They don't realize testicular cancer is the most common cancer for men ages 20 to 34. It is also one of the most curable forms of cancer, but only if caught early. Too many times cancer prevention campaigns are aimed at women.

DR. CARLYN, RUNOWICZ, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: Screening for cancer in the 30s is really aimed at women, in particular, preventing cervical cancer.

COHEN: Women need to have regular pelvic exams and pap smears starting in their 20s. And do their own monthly breast exams, and go to a doctor for breast exams. Starting at age 40, the American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms. Dr. Carolyn Runowicz knows all too well how important regular screening is.

RUNOWICZ: I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 41. And, interesting, as an oncologist, I thought I walked between the raindrops. I thought I'll never get cancer, because this is what I do for a living. I am very careful about my diet and exercise. It can't possibly happen to me. Of course, I was incredibly naive.

COHEN: Now in her 50s, this cancer survivor says everyone her age needs to have screenings for several types of cancer.

At age 50, men need to be screened for prostate cancer. And men, and women, need to have regular cancer screenings for colorectal cancer. The second leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women.

RUNOWICZ: It's actually not so bad. People dread colonoscopy, because they've heard all these horror stories. In fact, you're basically under sedation, you don't even really remember having it done. COHEN (on camera): And of course, people with a family history of cancer should talk to their doctor about getting these screening tests earlier. And for everyone, finding a tumor at its earliest stage will give you the best chance of survival. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

The war in Washington over the war in Iraq. Congress tries to flex its muscle, live to Capitol Hill, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Murders in Mississippi: Has a cold case been cracked? A suspect arrested in connection with two civil rights era killings. And update, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Good morning, again, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in for Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: I'm Tony Harris. Spend a second hour with us in the NEWSROOM this morning and stay informed.

Here's what's on the rundown. Violence erupting in a fury this morning on the streets of Beirut. Student protesters squaring off over the future of Lebanon's government. We follow this developing story.

WHITFIELD: Baby faced soldiers, from high school to war zone, American teenagers growing up fast in Iraq.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com.

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