How do I cut out imported objects and make background transparent?

Illustrator CS3.
I have embedded a jpeg picture which I need to cut out and make the background transparent. How do I do this? An opacity mask? How do I create a mask the same shape as the object I need to cut out? The object needs central pieces cut out too. Please help!

Opacity mask of clipping path are the two ways to do this in Illustrator. Photoshop is the ideal program for this task.

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    Date: Sun, 27 Jun 2010 20:31:25 -0600
    From: [email protected]
    To: [email protected]
    Subject: How do you cut out exact figures?
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