American Morning

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January 4th, 2010
10:29 AM ET

Security experts: People are key to preventing attacks

Editor’s Note: Stephen Flynn served on the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. He is president of the Center for National Policy and the author of “The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation.” Frances Townsend is a CNN national security contributor and former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush. She is a partner at the international law firm Baker Botts.

(CNN) – Tougher airport security checks are in place today. Travelers flying into the United States from 14 high-risk countries will now be subject to body scans and pat-downs. Passengers on other incoming international flights will also be subject to more frequent random searches. But what does all that mean and will it really make us safer in the air?

On Monday’s American Morning we dug deeper into the new security measures with homeland security expert Stephen Flynn and CNN National Security Contributor Frances Townsend. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.

Kiran Chetry: Anybody flying into the U.S. faces these random screenings. All passengers coming from those 14 ‘terror-prone’ nations will be patted down and have their carry-on bags searched. How much does that tighten the net? Does it go far enough?

Stephen Flynn: We have a real challenge here. Airline security was viewed as the crown jewel of our post-9/11 homeland security efforts and obviously this latest incident exposed some serious gaps. There are limits though to just what we can do to pat down and screen every bit of our way to security. One of the two key elements that were very essential for preventing this attack was first the report from the father about the terrorist. That's a very important tool that we need to be able to use.

The other piece was of course the actions of the passengers themselves on the plane to obstruct the attack. We need to remember that in the overall layers of security that we embrace that our greatest asset often is everyday people. And to the extent to which some of the prescriptions that are coming out are really centered around technology and just heavily around the inspection process here, we're losing sight of the bigger picture.

Tight security for those flying to U.S.


Filed under: Opinion • Terrorism
January 4th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

New year brings new threats in war on terror

As President Obama returns to Washington today after his Hawaiian vacation, terrorism is at the top of his agenda. The new year brings a new front in the fight against al Qaeda. Our Jim Acosta has the report.

Filed under: Terrorism
January 4th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Study finds autism 'clusters' in affluent areas

New research suggests there may be autism "clusters" around the country. But the story is more complicated than you might think. Our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has the report.

Filed under: Health
January 4th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Security breach delays passengers at Newark Intl. Airport

A security breach at Newark International Airport last night left flights grounded and thousands of passengers waiting late into the night to be re-screened. The scare happened after a man walked through a screening checkpoint exit into a secure area of the terminal.

On Monday's American Morning we spoke on the phone with Dove Ballon, who was stranded at the airport last night with her husband.

Filed under: Airline safety
January 4th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Lobbying for Your Health: Strange bedfellows

Editor's Note: Health care reform is big business in Washington and it's made for some strange bedfellows. Groups you'd never expect are teaming up both for and against the bill. In part one of this American Morning original series, Carol Costello keeps tabs on who is "Lobbying for Your Health."

By Bob Ruff and Carol Costello

Imagine that you are playing a word association game and someone says the word "lobbyist." What's the first word that might come to your mind?

The word "crook," as in convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff might be a bit too harsh, but for many people the word they'd choose wouldn't be very flattering. And that's one reason why Congress over the years has passed legislation seeking to shine light on how lobbyists influence congressmen and legislation.

The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 was followed by the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007." These laws attempted to throw light on the federal lobbying process, including the requirement that lobbyists register quarterly with the House and Senate.

All of which brings us to the current health care bills that have attracted Washington lobbyists like moths to a light bulb. How many lobbyists?

The Center for Responsive Politics says 951 firms and organizations registered to lobby just the House version of the bill. The group, which tracks campaign contributions and lobbying dollars, counted more than 3,000 individual lobbyists who have spent at least $400 million dollars lobbying Congress on health care reform.

We looked at the list of 951 and were not surprised by organizations that you would expect to lobby a health bill, such as United Health, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the American Hospital Association.

But, we were so curious about why some other very unlikely groups were so interested in health care legislation that we asked some of them.


Filed under: Lobbying for Your Health • Politics