American Morning

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May 14th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We Listen!

Thursday’s American Morning viewers continued the controversial torture debate, adding more comment about the Obama administration’s change in policy regarding release of torture pictures.

  • Ginger: Did Cheney's interview change President Obama's mind about releasing photos. It was a compelling interview. But either way I applaud the President for deciding not to release the photos. There would be no positive outcome if they were release. The majority of Americans do not care if the terrorists were tortured or not. It is really hard to have sympathy for a terrorist. Downright impossible. If anyone should be persecuted or charged with a crime it should be the people responsible for releasing terrorists from Gitmo so they can just go commit more murders and more destruction. That should be a crime.
  • Tvpad: Thank you Dick Cheney for getting out and demanding information revealed that led to America's safety over 7 years along with pics!
  • Bill: The "truth-o-meter" on Newt GIngrich saying that congress didn't pass a law making water boarding illegal: It is already illegal. Torture is illegal under civil law, criminal law, and international law. CNN gets a "FALSE" for not mentioning that fact.
  • Ed: Mr. Zelicow gave a more easily accepted version than Cheney of Bush Admin. stance on Harsh Interrogation but still gets only half of the root point. Most Americans will agree we need to "do that which is right". At least I think so. We do not torture BECAUSE by taking moral high ground we still have the high ground to take action when another country tortures one of ours. (Hearts & Minds) That is consistent with the experience and stance of Senator John McCain.
  • Kirk: This morning I was troubled by the way that you presented Nancy Pelosi's statements about when she was briefed on Bush's Torture Techniques. It seems very odd to me that the CIA's release of a "timeline" somehow in your description shows Ms. Pelosi to be lying. The CIA, being the main culprit in the commission of these crimes, should have a higher bar to prove the truth. The CIA has already obstructed justice in this matter and destroyed videotape evidence of their crimes. They are in the business of lying. Why would you hold their words up as a measure of what is true? Also by their own timeline, Abu Zubaydah had already been water boarded before Ms. Pelosi was briefed, which seems the larger story to me.

How do you feel about the Obama Administration’s change in policy regarding the release of torture pictures?


Filed under: We Listen
May 14th, 2009
12:23 PM ET

How can we avoid salt in our diet?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers your questions."]
From Arthur
Birmingham, Alabama

I saw your report earlier in the week the about high salt content in restaurant foods. I end up consuming salty foods at home too! My wife adds it to everything – even to the water she boils our pasta in. What are some alternatives I can suggest?


Arthur, thanks for writing in! Sodium content is often not something people look for on labels, or consciously think about when preparing their meals. Even many low-fat, low-calorie items have very high levels of sodium. Then, of course, the salt shaker sitting on most kitchen tables doesn’t help the matter. You see we’re all creatures of habit. If a person grows up always adding salt and pepper to each meal, it becomes second nature. Before even tasting a meal, many people add salt to without thinking twice.

Our bodies do need some sodium. It helps regulate your body’s fluid, aids in muscle function. But too much sodium can cause a siren to go off internally. When excess salt flows through your bloodstream, your kidneys get defensive. They release a hormone that triggers blood vessels to contract, which causes your blood pressure to rise. From there it’s a ripple effect on your health. High blood pressure can cause a heart attack or stroke among other conditions. Something as seemingly small as reducing sodium levels in your diet could save your life. In fact, the American Medical Association estimates that 150,000 lives could be saved in the United States annually if people cut their salt intake in half.

There are ways to cut back when cooking at home without losing flavor. Start by getting the salt shaker off the dinner table. As I mentioned earlier, people often add it to meals just because it’s there, not because the food needs it. Keep the shaker in the cabinet, and odds are your whole family will inadvertently use it less.

Keep reading this story

Filed under: Dr. Gupta's Mailbag • Health
May 14th, 2009
11:51 AM ET

Dershowitz: Court shouldn't be gender-balanced

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz tells CNN's Kiran Chetry the Supreme Court should not be gender-balanced."]

Senate leaders who met with President Obama Wednesday said the president told them he’ll name his Supreme Court nominee soon. CNN is learning that the field has now been narrowed to about a half dozen names. Most of the people on the list are women.

Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz says it would be a mistake for President Obama to say the seat on the court belongs only to a woman. He spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.

Alan Dershowitz: It's a superb list. Elena Kagan is my former dean and a friend. I’ve argued cases in front of Judge Sotomayor and I know the others on the list. It's a very, very good list. My concern is this – the impression is being created, perhaps it's a false impression, that what President Obama has done is said bring me a list of women, Latinos and I'll pick from that the most qualified people. That can create a very bad starting point for any justice. They're not on the court as representatives of a particular gender or ethnicity. They are there because they are supposed to be the greatest legal minds in the country capable of dealing with some of the most complex issues. So I hope he picks the most qualified people. Among the most qualified people, obviously, are very distinguished women and Latinos and Asians and others of diverse backgrounds.

Kiran Chetry: If you look at the court it is dominated by white men. Is the court supposed to represent the country's population? And maybe it is or maybe it isn't, but half of the country is made up of females. Don't you think it's in the interest or responsibility of the president to try to bring some gender balance to the court?

Dershowitz: No. I don't think balance is the appropriate function of the Supreme Court. If you were looking at who should be represented on the court, there is only one white Protestant on the entire court and this is a country primarily of white Protestants. We don't want to see the court divided into kind of representative justices the way we have representative congress people and senators. I think that's the wrong approach to the court. You have a president like Obama who is, clearly, color blind and gender blind. We trust him, I think, to pick the best people. He is not going to be accused of in any way engaging in prejudice. Let him pick the best person. It’s very likely that best person might very well be a woman or a person of Latino background but I think it's a mistake for him to set out in advance to say I want only a woman, this is a woman's seat on the court.


Filed under: Supreme Court
May 14th, 2009
10:35 AM ET

Craigslist to replace 'erotic services' listings

(CNN) In an interview with CNN's John Roberts, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster confirmed Wednesday that the Web site will replace its controversial online "erotic services" listings with a section where ads are individually checked by Craigslist employees before they are posted.

The popular national classified-ad Web site has been accused by law enforcement officials across the United States of promoting prostitution through its erotic ads.

In a statement released Wednesday, Craigslist executives said the change will take place after current ads expire in seven days.

"Each posting to this new category will be manually reviewed before appearing on the site, to ensure compliance with Craigslist posting guidelines and terms of use," the statement said. Advertisers will pay a $10 fee for each new ad.

Craigslist made headlines recently after a 23-year-old medical student was charged in the death of a masseuse in a Boston hotel room and in a non-fatal hotel assault in Rhode Island. Police have said it appeared that the attacker in both cases had responded to the victims' Craigslist ads.

Filed under: Technology
May 14th, 2009
10:35 AM ET

A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars

Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent, nonpartisan think-tank that serves as an educational resource on foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Richard Haass calls the second Iraq war a war of choice."]
By Richard N. Haass
Special to CNN

I have been contemplating writing a book about the United States, Iraq, and the broader Middle East for some three decades. Over this time I have served in a number of government posts dealing with these issues. Two are particularly relevant.

First, from 1989-1993, I was the principal Middle East advisor on the staff of the National Security Council for President George H.W. Bush. In this post I was heavily involved in the making of U.S. policy toward Iraq before and after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

Then, from 2001-2003, I was director of the Policy Planning Staff in the State Department in the first administration of President George W. Bush. This experience was much different. I was on the periphery rather than at the center of policy making and I was uncomfortable with the policy, not one of its principal champions.

Still, I am one of only a handful of individuals to be involved at relatively senior levels of government in both the Gulf War of 1990-91 and the ongoing Iraq War launched in 2003. My experiences with the policymaking behind both conflicts form the heart of the book I published last week, entitled War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars. Unlike my previous books, which contained mostly foreign policy analysis, this one is a hybrid—analysis and history to be sure, but also personal reflections and recollections. In writing it I wanted to give a sense of why things happened and their consequences.

The book’s central argument is that the first Iraq war was a war of necessity while the second was a war of choice— and a bad choice at that. What characterizes each type of war? Wars of necessity involve the most important national interests, the absence of promising alternatives to the use of force, and the certain and considerable price to be paid if the status quo is allowed to stand. Wars of choice tend to involve stakes or interests that are less clearly “vital,” along with the existence of viable alternative policies, be they diplomacy, inaction, or something else but still other than the use of military force. One result is that wars of choice generally increase the pressure on the government to demonstrate that the benefits will outweigh the costs. If this test cannot be met, the choice will appear to be ill-advised and in fact most likely is.

The two Iraq wars also constitute two fundamentally different approaches to American foreign policy. The first represents a more traditional school, often described as “realist,” that sees the principal purpose of U.S. action in the world as influencing the external behavior of states and relations among them. What goes on inside states is not irrelevant, but it is secondary. The second Iraq war reflects an approach to foreign policy that is at once more ambitious and more difficult. It believes the principal purpose of U.S. policy is to influence the nature of states and conditions within them.

The difference between these approaches constitutes the principal fault line in the contemporary foreign policy debate. The two Iraq wars are important, both in themselves and for what they represent: the two dominant and competing schools of American foreign policy. They thus constitute a classic case study of America’s purpose in the world and how it should go about it.

Filed under: Iraq
May 14th, 2009
10:09 AM ET

Ex-insider: Harsh interrogation tactics were a mistake

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Philip Zelikow summed up enhanced interrogation methods as a mistake during the first congressional hearings on alleged torture yesterday."]

A former State Department official and Bush White House insider summed up enhanced interrogation methods as a “mistake” during the first congressional hearings on alleged torture yesterday. He called the program a “collective failure” and said both parties share some of the blame.

Philip Zelikow is the man who made those claims. He was executive director of the 9/11 Commission and went on to become counselor to Condoleezza Rice at the State Department. He joined Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.

Kiran Chetry: You testified yesterday at that congressional hearing that, “The U.S. government adopted an unprecedented program of coolly calculated dehumanizing abuse and physical torment to extract information. This was a mistake, perhaps a disastrous one. It was a collective failure.” When you talk about this as a collective failure, who do you think that much of the blame lies with?

Phillip Zelikow: I think this is one of the things we need to understand better. What happened is the country… a lot of the leaders of the country in both parties believed for a while that they needed to use these methods to protect the nation. They believed that because they thought there were no good alternatives and because they thought this was legal. I think both of those judgments were wrong. We know a lot about alternatives and, in fact, we've now proven that the alternatives work in our own record in Iraq and against al Qaeda worldwide. And I think we've also learned that the legal judgments were flawed too. So we need to understand how our – how our leaders, including the congressional leaders of both parties who were briefed, came to these conclusions that there was no alternative and that this was legal. This was a collective mistake.


Filed under: Terrorism
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