tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN February 2, 2010 5:00pm-8:00pm EST
let me get this safe. they would dress up as a pitch and be willing to face federal criminal charges? journalists we've spoken to are roundly appalled by that suggestion, which, by the way, went principally unchallenged. new-age journalist james o'keefe topping "the list u don't want 2 be on." mr. blitzer comes now from new york in "the situation room." wolf, take it away. all right. rick, thanks very much. happening the beginning of the end of don't ask/don't tell. this hour, how the troops feel about fighting alongside openly gay service members. the obama administration takes some credit for pushing toyota to confront problems. stand by for a new claim that
toyota was a little deaf to the dang danger. and it's being called a game-changing study on delaying teens from having sex. now social conservatives who have been preaches abc nerns are saying we told you so. will the obama administration respond? i'll ask the second tear of education this hour. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." on it's long-standing policy of gays in the military. pentagon officials told congress today they're already laying the groundwork for the end of don't ask/don't tell, six days after the president called for the repeal. this year in a activity union address, the joint chiefs chairman admiral mike mullen delivered a powerful statement supporting the repeal. >> speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and
lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. no matter how i look at this issue, i cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. >> a strong voice against the repeal in today's hearing. the republican senator, john mccain. chris lawrence met with the troops on this issue. chris, what did you find out? >> reporter: the same kind of disagreement we saw with admiral mullen and john mccain. a lot of difference of opinion on this issue. we talked to not only members of the military, but also people who wanted to join the service, but were kept out by don't
ask/don't tell. coming out of columbia medical school, robert cavanaugh wanted to be an officer -- >> all right. unfortunately, chris, we have a little technical problem there. we're going to try to fix that package that you prepared, but let's talk a bit about what's going on. give us a sense of what the prospective troops were saying to you. >> wolf, we got a wide range of opinion. some people said they already know -- they've seen them on ships and the units. nobody asks, nobody tells, the policy seems to be working. on the other hand, we talked to people who said if they do their job which we see them doing every day, what does it have to do with anything?
so again, wolf new vision, new thinks, and new ways of using technology and media to push that discussion out there. >> all right. chris, stand by. we'll have a lot more, coming up two lawmakers square off, and whether the obama administration is making the right move. much more coming up. but let's turn to another duty-up for the obama administration. he's promoting his plan to recycle $230 million in bailout money to invest in community
banks and boost lending to small businesses. he made the pitch during a town hall in new hampshire, and senator judd gregg wasn't happy about it. he laid into peter orszag. you'll remember senator gregg almost became president obama's commerce secretary, though he withdrew his nomination at a relatively early point in that process. listen to this. >> the law is very clear. the monies recouped from the t.a.r.p. shall be paid into the general fun of the treasury for the readdition of the public debt. you said a political event when you make a speech in nashua, new hampshire. this is to reduce the debt of our children that we're passing
on to our children. you ought to at least have the integrity to be forthright about it, and say that's what you're doing, you're adding to the debt our kids will have to be back when you're claiming at the same time that you're being fiscally responsible. let me ask another question, because clearly we won't agree and you're not going to follow the law. >> excuse me, we will be following the law. >> then you won't be able to do it unless congress gives you the authority to do it. >> yes, exactly. >> that's how laws are made, usually, congress passes them. >> that's the senator from vermont, bernie sanders. orszag, by the way, stressed more than one that the administration is fully aware it needs congress to okay any way the t.a.r.p. money is used since senator judd gregg is right, but peter orszag and bernie sanders both insisted adamantly they want to amend the law. but it was a heated exchange, under scoring the passions on
this issue right know. toyota sales here in the united states dropped 16% last month from a year ago while gm and ford saul that i sales rise. the transportation secretary is revealing today that toyota needed convincing from federal safety officials that it was dealing with a very serious problem. let's bring in our own brian todd. he's looking into the story that has huge ramifications. brian? >> very extraordinary comments from the transportation secretary today. the fallout from the recall now at critical mass, some very pointed comments at the highest levels here in washington. today transportation secretary ray lahood vigorously defended his agency's handling of the situation, saying toyota was too slow in addressing the safety problems, and that it took pressure from the government to get the auto maker to take action. a statement from lahood reads, quote --
hi went even further in an interview with the associated press. he says official from his department went to japan to remined toy the outa of their testify obligations, and -- now in an interview with the a.p., lahood said, quote, officials in the north american safety office were, as he put it, safety deaf about the problems and if his department hadn't pushed the company, quote, i don't know that the recall would be taking place. we contacted the north american headquarters for a responsible, and they sent us a statement saying nothing is more important -- also this quote.
but clearly some heavy fallout, some extraordinary finger-pointing at levels we have not seen in a long, long time. >> brian, this isn't the end of this story, by any means, is it? >> absolutely not. as a matter of fact in his statement this afternoon, lahood said, quote, we're not finished with toyota. he says his department will continue to monitoring the recalls and review the safety defects in the situation. we also have information from another transportation department official who said that the national highway traffic safety administration, which is a division of the department of transportation, said that they are considering a civil penalty against toyota. they did not give any further details other than that. we just got an e-mail a couple minutes ago saying we have not
received an official communication, so we can't comment on that at this time, but clearly toyota and the u.s. government not done with each other right now. >> brian todd is working that story. steve wozniak, the apple cofounder has strong words to say. he owns four toyota priuss, and he says there's a serious problem he's had to endure. that's coming up later here in "the situation room." all right. this story just coming into the "the situation room," a new warning that terrorists are certain to try another attack on the united states in the coming months. the keyword -- certain. listen to the heads of the major u.s. intelligence agencies answer a question from the chairman of the senate intelligence committee, senator dianne feinstein. >> what is the likelihood of another terrorist-attempted attack on the u.s. homeland in the next three to six months --
high or low? director blair? >> i why would say an attempt is certainly. >> mr. minute in etta? >> i would agree with that. >> mr. mueller? >> agree. >> general. >> yes, ma'am, agree. >> yes. attempted attack, terrorist attack they all agree is certain. that's a very chilling warning. we'll speak about that and more. fran townsend will be joining us later as well. we heard the u.s. military is bracing for a big change. the repeal of don't ask/don't tell. we want to pull back the curtain a bit and how this policy came about in the first place. stand by. our senior political analyst david gergen. he was in the room in the white house when president clinton and other top officials made that decision two decades ago, back in 1993.
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since president truman. president obama calling for the repeal of don't ask/don't tell, the policy that bars gays from serving openly in the military and prevents the military from asking soldiers about their sexual orientation. congress will have to sign off on the president's request. a few hours ago, the military's top uniformed officer went before congress to support openly gay members serving. admiral mike mullen says it's a matter of integrity and that it's wrong to force people to, quote, lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens, unquote. the military is set to begin a year-long study into how it can be repealed without causing major problems. critics say it's a bad idea to change the policy now while the u.s. is involved in two wars and faces the ongoing threat of terrorism. senator john mccain says he's deeply disappointed and says while the policy has not been ideal, mccain says it's been effective. his word.
meanwhile, a poll from late 208 suggests more than 80% of americans believe that openly gay people ought to be allowed to serve. -- including, and this makes no sense, dozens of service members who speak arabic, a highly prized skill. our government at work. here's the question -- post a comment on my blog. now, since congress has to eventually sign off, i'm sure we can -- >> could take a bhil. >> yeah. yeah. >> jack, thanks very much. the pentagon's don't ask/don't tell policy dates back to 1993, when president clinton was struggling to find a compromise. david gergen is a former adviser to president clinton. he was on hand when the decision
on "don't ask, don't tell" was made. there is a younger david gergen. he's joining us with some insight. take us inside the room when president clinton made that decision to accept that compromise. >> it was an agonizing evening at the white house, wolf, very late as i recall. another late night with bill clinton, but he had campaigned -- it wasn't much of an issue in the '92 campaign, for lifting the prohibition, and then just after he was elected, in answer to a press conference, that he did intend as president to lift the ban, and all hell broke loose. so there was a period just after he was inaugurated the joint chiefs came to see him, and the white house said don't do this, mr. president. they unanimously against lifting the prohibition, and then leaders of the congress came and the president resolved that, he wanted to find a compromise
position. that's how "don't ask, don't tell" evolved. he sent george stobviously it w a compromise, and brought that. >> colin powell was the chairman of the joint chiefs. >> colin powell was chairman of the joint chiefs. i had just joined that white house team with bill clinton in june of that year. i remember very distinctly an evening this late night when he had to make this final call, was he going to do this or not. we were sitting upstairs in the residence at the white house, a grape of 12, 13 people, all top national security people, including colin powell, top white house aides.
and others. after a heated discussion, the president said, i want your advice. he went around, and i think there were about 12 of us, wolf, who all said, mr. president, this isn't perfect, but the military does not want you to live this ban, this is a compromise. we think you should accept it. there was one vote the other way. that was vice president al gore, who spoke last and said, mr. president, i disagree with this, i think we should lift the ban. i do not like this compromise. i don't like it, i think we should -- and so it was basically 12-1. the president decided to go with the compromise, and he announced it in the next couple days. so it was -- he was under -- he was almost under unanimous pressure, but it was interesting, al gore argued it with great eloquence and passion, and wolf, i have to say times are different today than they were then. a lot has changed since then.
>> al gore, as you say, he was the only one who said let's let gays serve openly back in 1993. that recommendation was rejected by the president? >> it was, and rejected in part because of the military and colin powell, one of the most respected people, it's like george marshall telling trouping -- but in this case -- i have to tell you at that time you had to also go through congress to get it done. there was strong opposition in congress. i don't think he could have gotten it passed. and very importantly the public was opposed to it. he a a poll 48-45 in the public against lifting the ban, very strong opposition from the religious right, and today you look at the polls, and they're very different. jack cafferty just mentioned the
poll, another gallup poll with 69%, a big generational difference. i think most of the people in that room, i think would tell president obama time to lift the ban. i think that would be led by general powell. >> 16 years later or so, things change. david, good historical review. we appreciate it very much. david gergen was in the room when that decision was made. coming up, he apparently made an off-color comment about opponents to the health care plan, now sarah palin is lashing out at the white house chief of staff rahm emanuel. why she's so mad. stay with us. we'll explain. from the same family... you know, son, you should take up something more strenuous. you have different needs and desires. - i'm reading a book. - what's a book? so we tailor plans for individuals, featuring a range of integrated solutions. you at your usual restaurant? son: maybe. see you tomorrow. stairs? elevator. to see how our multi-faceted approach... can benefit your multi-generational wealth,
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there's a major development, let's bring in jeanne meserve. we're learns that abdulmutallab has been providing what is called useful, kermit and actionable intelligence, leads being followed up. as you know there's been a firestorm of controversy about the decision to read him his miranda rights and try him in the federal courts. many said that cut off the possibility of getting additional information from this man from the beginning, justice
department officials and fbi officials have said there is a possibility when someone is facing prosecution that they will decide to cooperate. apparently that's what abdul mu talas is doing right now. >> he does have have a public defender, attorneys who presumably have approved his decision to cooperate and go forward. i assume this is because he thinks he can get a reduced sentence? is that the incentive? >> reporter: we don't know. i asked that question specifically. the official with whom i'm speaking declined to give me an answer. it is certainly possible when faced with the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison he decided to talk. it's also possible that some sort of relationship developed between him and the people who were questioning him. we just don't have the answers at this point in time. >> we'll get more certainly in the next few hours, major
development that jeanne meserve is reporting on. stand by, we'll get more information for you, our viewers. he's taken heat for saying hurricane katrina may have been the best thing to happen to the school system in new orleans. we're talking about the education secretary arne duncan. he's here in "the situation room" and will explain why he says that massive disaster was a powerful wake-up call. stand by.
has a bone to picks a serious one, with toyota. computers are his business and the apple cofounders says his problem may be in the prius software. stand by. sarah palin throws down the gauntlet to rahm emanuel for a salty remark, he calls a slur on all of god's children with disabilities. why education secretary arne duncan says hurricane katrina was the best thing to happen to the education system in new orleans. the secretary is here to explain. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the united states is in debt up to its eyeballs, more than $12 trillion in debt already congress poised to raise the ceiling by almost $2 trillion more. someone ran his or her household budget this way, he or she would be in bankruptcy court. here's what president obama had to say about that today.
>> these deficits won't just burden our kids and our grandkids decades from now. they could damage our markets now. they could drive up our interest rates now. they could jeopardizes our recovery right now. responsible families don't do their budgets the way the federal government does. all right? when times are tough, you tighten your belts, you don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. you don't blow a bunch of cash on vegas when you're trying to save for college. you prioritize, you make tough choices. it's time your government did the same. >> cnn's lisa sylvester and gloria borger. lisa, does the president have a point on how families manage their money, the reference he made? >> we want to show you the budget of an average american household and do a comparison.
according to the latest census figures available, median household income, the average household annual spending $49,638, including basics, food, gas, housing utilities. and at the end of the year there's a bit left over, a slight surplus, $595, but the average consumer also does have debt, $16,635 is the average amount. when you add things, for instance, like car loans, credit cards, plus mortgages. the mortgage will average out to about $100 to $120,000 that they pay off monthly. we want to then take a look at the perspective from the government. we've got figures from the office of manage and budget, projected for 2011, the government will take in -- this is in revenue -- $2.5 trillion, but it will spend $3.8 trillion. that's the federal budget deficit. for that one year alone, $1.3
trillion protected. then you have to add that deficit to the government's publicly held death which in 2011 will be $10.5 trillion. that doesn't even include what the federal government owes to itself in the form of trust funds and social security. without changes, that numb her will continue to grow and grow until we get to 2020 when the federal dead is projected to be $18.5 trillion, that's just for the budget part of it. the implications of all of this, of course is there will be some really tough choices to be made. you're going to have to either increase taxes or unfortunately cut spending. wolf? >> and cut spending in some sensitive areas like social security, medicare or the defense department will have to go somewhere. gloria, it's not just the debt that is being accumulated, the money the government is spending, but the interest the government is now forced to pay to all sorts of creditors out
there. >> it's kind of like a runaway credit card, as you saw with lisa's numbers before. we were looking into this. in ten years, the number lisa was talking about, we will spend almost as much money as the interest on our debt as we do on our entire national security budget, wolf. imagine that? as much on the interest as we spend on national security. so something has to give here. this is completely unsustainable. i think people are realizing this as they see the numbers that lisa was pointing out, but you have to have the political will, and that's a big thing, to get something done on those programs, those automatic spending programs like medicare, and social security. and that's where the tough votes are going to come. right now people just aren't women to do it. >> it doesn't look like they're ready for tough votes. thanks very much. we'll continue this discussion. a new announcement by president obama likely to tick
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the 5-year, 100,000 mile transferable powertrain warranty, from gmc. with roadside assistance and courtesy transportation, it's the best coverage in america. let's get back to lisa. she's monitoring some other top stories in "the situation room" right now. what else is going on? new figures released by the labor department show the number of u.s. metropolitan areas with a jobless rate above 15% increased in december. of the 372 areas surveyed, 19
posted unemployment rates of at least 15%. that number is up from 17 in november. the metro area with the highest unemployment rate in the country was el centro, california, fargo north dakota had the lowest. john murtha is in intentionive care this hour, following complications from gallbladder surgery, the 7-year-old chair underwent the scheduled procedure last week. despite a gallbladder issue back in december, he was able to help oversee the final passage of the defense appropriations bill. a california federal appeals corte said the sentence is not enough for the man planning to plot the airport. the three-judge panel threw out the sentence ahmed ressam.
he was arrested after entering the u.s. from canada with a car laden of explosives. pilot error they say is one of the main causes of the last winter's fatal crash. ntsb chairmanwoman detailed the findings at today's final meeting. she also criticized the fta for delay. the board is questioning whether regional airlines are held to the same level of safety as major airlines. the french court is trying to determine who is to blame for the deadly crash of an air france crash of a concorde. they went on trial today. three of the five on trial were responsible for the design, testing and certification of the concorde, a part that fell off a
continental jet was found to have played a key role in that crash. >> stand by, lisa. we'll get back to you. a new study suggests that teaches abstinence may cut down on teen sex. is it enough to want a wholesale shift of sex education in the public schools? i'll ask the education secretary arne duncan. he's standing by live in "the situation room." why does lubriderm work so well with skin? one reason? lubriderm® contains the same nutrients naturally found in healthy skin. skin absorbs it for a clinically shown 24 hours. for skin that looks and feels truly comfortable. lubriderm®. your moisture matched.
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mary matalin. rahm emanuel, the chief of staff, has caused a bit of a stir, ladies. sarah palin referring to an article that was in "wall street journal," in which he supposedly used the "f" word and spoke about some democrats liberals as being f-restarted. sarah palin wrote this on facebook. we're told by a white house official that he called to apologize and the apology yus accepted on to the special olympics. let me go to donna first. what do you think about sarah
palin's response and the white house's reaction? >> first of all, realm has apologized and, you know, i also believe that it was the wrong word to use, and i'm glad his apology has been accepted by so many people. i hope governor palin will accepted his apology in the spirit he has given it. i don't know about liberals and whether or not they will accept it, because it's clear to me based on the article that she read that realm was upset with some people in the liberal community that wanted to really go after centrist democrats, but not fully backing the president's agenda. that appears to be the reason why realm said that, but wolf, i've been in a lot of meetings with realm. he's tough, a tenacious fighter, but you know what? he's helping the president move the country forward. >> mary, you've known realm for many years as well. >> yeah, and that's the kind of language that would go in one ear and out the other.
that's his vernacular, but he did apologize. donna is exactly right, this is about the in essence the civil war, between the far left and centrist or center of left democrats. the irony of this is rahm emanuel almost single handedly recruited every one of those guys for whom -- to whom they owe their majority. in '06 and '08 he was recruiting congressional candidates. that's why they have the majority, not because of the cranky progressives. realm is the architect of that. if he didn't want the presidency to implode further, he needs to support the centrist. >> should he call up sarah palin and apologize? >> i'm sure mary has friends or relatives -- there are so many
people with -- that's why he apologize to tim and members of the special olympics. it was the wrong thing to say, but if you look at his voting record in the united states congress, look at his life and his life history. this is a man who has always devoted himself to helping children with special needs and helping others in this country. so i hope we don't get into who should go back and apologize. he's a good person. >> you agree, mary? >> i think there should be what donna just said is correct, that when people whose life is an exemplar of what's in their heart and they've walked the walk, then we should -- right and left -- everybody should have the same standard, judge somebody by their whole life. again, this is not -- this is super-secret, sworn to secrecy meeting and the progressive violated the trust that was bestowed upon them by ratting out realm, not about this issue, but because they don't like that he's supportive of politics that
isn't as fringy as theirs. >> let me switch gears to china and the president's upcoming meeting. the chinese government in beijing, they're very unhappy about this, and they have a lot of u.s. treasury bills at the same time. should the president go forward and have a meeting with the dahli llama, as president bush and other presidents have done? >> absolutely. you know, the day we kowtow or bow to any other foreign nation just because they own some of our debt would be a terrible statement that we could make as americans. i hope he meets with the dahli llama. the dalai lama is the leader of people, so i'm glad he plans to meet with him. let's hope he meets during the day so we can cover it live here on cnn. >> what do you think, mary? >> absolutely. the hesitancy with which he supported -- or seemed not to support the freedom fighters in iran, we still are the bastian
of human rights. we can't capitulate just because they have $800 billion worth of treasuries, but this is an interesting that people need to understand the intersection of our unsustainable structural debt and national security. this is where it comes into play. they own us, and they also are a key vote on iran and lots of other national security issues, so we can't forget to make people understand about this structural debt is not just accruing to our own detriment domestically, but it affects our foreign policy as well. >> but i want to also say, wolf, the united states has also agreed to sell arms and other products to taiwan. the chinese are not happy with that. so get over it. we're the united states of america, we're proud of it. >> they hate both of these policies. meetinging with the dalai lama and selling arms. thank you both very much. the secretary of education,
arne duncan is here. he's in "the situation room." he says he's sorry about something, but is the political damage in new orleans done? what's going on. i'll speak about that, and a lot more with the education secretary when we come back. [ male announcer ] where are people with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis going? they're discovering the first self-injectable ra medicine you take just once a month. it's simponi™, and taken with methotrexate, it helps relieve the pain, stiffness, and swelling of ra with one dose a month. visit 4simponi.com to see if you qualify for a full year of cost support. simponi™ can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious and sometimes fatal events can occur, such as infections, cancer in children and adults, heart failure, nervous system disorders, liver or blood problems, and allergic reactions. before starting simponi™, your doctor should test you for tb and assess your risk of infections, including fungal infections and hepatitis b. ask your doctor if you've been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. tell your doctor if you're prone to infections,
but ultimately, they'll understand that the flag is the same. bill in arizona writes -- george writes -- the stigma associated with being gay is not as big a problem with the men and women in uniform today as it was in the past. albert in los angeles -- ending "don't ask, don't tell" will have the same impact as every other growing pain our nation has survived, positive. at first only white land owning males could vote. and the road to today's integrated combat force has been an uphill battle all the way.
they become a stronger diplomatic symbol to the world of america's defending the rights of mankind. and bruce says -- as a decorated veteran of vietnam, i served with men i knew were gay and i trusted them with my life. if you want to read more on this, find lots more on my blog cnn.com/cafferty file. as toyota copes with a sweeping recall, the apple co-founder steve wozniak airs a complaint. the computer wizard thinks there's a software glitch in his car that causes prius to speed up. one car owner's gripe or a
apology today from the education secretary arne duncan. he says it was dumb for him to suggest that hurricane katrina was a good thing for the new orleans failing school system. the secretary is joining us now here in the situation room. mr. secretary, thanks very much for coming in. >> good afternoon. thanks for having me, wolf. >> i want to you explain your comments because it caused quite a little stir. you said, this is a stuff thing to say but let me be really honest. i think the best thing that happened to the education system in new orleans was hurricane katrina. that education system was a disaster and it took hurricane katrina to wake up the community to say that we have to do it better. all right. explain what you meant. >> very simple.
what i said was dumb and i didn't say it clearly and as well as i should have. i was simply trying to make the point that subsequent to that devastating tragedy, hurricane katrina, there's been remarkable, remarkable progress in new orleans. i wanted to thank the teachers, the principals for hard work and most importantly the students for perseverance. i think new orleans is like many places making great, great progre progress. what we want to continue to do at the federal level, support excellence, learn from that innovation. i think there's a real model there of extraordinary improvement given an unspeakably tough tragedy. i couldn't be more proud of the progress they're making. >> and you called the mayor ray nagin to apologize? >> i talked to the mayor and governor. people understand what i was trying to say. i said it poorly and that was my fault. >> let's talk a little about no child left behind. this is the program george w. bush as president and late senator ted kennedy as colleagues worked it out. you want to tweak it. >> more than tweak.
we want to fix no child left behind and really reward excellence. there are many, many ways to fail under no child left behind, very few ways to signal excellence. we want to evaluate growth, how much you're improving each year and make sure we have high standards. in many states it was dummied down due to political pressure. that's not good for children or the country. we want to raise the bar. college ready, career ready standards for every child. >> in the new budget the president has a lot more money for education. do you have any indication this, education is an area where you can work cooperatively with the republicans in the house and senate? >> absolutely, wolf. this is the issue around which the entire country can rally behind. doesn't matter politics or ideology. all of us understand the sense of urgency. we have to educate our way to a better economy. if we're serious about making sure folks have a chance to get a good job, we have to do a much better job of educating them. we all have to rally behind this and the president has increased
investment in education had demonstrates his extraordinary commitment. and we are absolutely committed to working in a bipartisan matter to fix no child left behind and take education at every level, early childhood, k-12, early education to a higher level. >> let's talk about sex education in the public school system. i assume you saw the new study that came out suggesting abstinence only programs do have an effect in reducing teen sex. i wonder if you want to react to that and if you think that there's now an opportunity to use some of this abstinence only policy in public schools. >> the funding for those programs comes not from the department of education but from health and human services, so secretary sebelius would be much better than i to articulate what's going on there. she's doing a phenomenal job. i would tell you we should go where the evidence leads us. the goal, which again we can all rally behind, is we want less teens become pregnant. whatever is working, whatever local communities can demonstrate as making a difference in reducing those
teenage pregnancy rates, keeping students in school, graduating, we need to support that work. >> are you ready to take on the teachers unions around the country so that the good teachers are rewarded and the bad teachers, even the awful teachers can get fired? >> well, i've said repeatedly that student achievement has to be part of teacher evaluation systems. teacher evaluation systems in this country are broken. they don't work for good teachers. they don't work for teachers improving or move out teachers who frankly need to find another profession. i have said repeatedly we have to recognize excellence, great teachers, great principals make a huge difference in students' lives. we need to spotlight and learn from them and reward them. and in the president's budget we have significant money to create incentives to reward great talent, those teachers and principals making a huge difference in students' lives and encourage them to work in historically underserved communities. if twaer serious about closing the achievement gap in this
country, which we have to do, we have to close what i call the opportunity gap and get great, great talent into communities that need that help and those students that need that support. very, very important for us to do. >> nothing is more important than educating the nation's young kids and not so young kids at the same time. mr. secretary, thanks very much for coming in. good luck. >> thanks so much for having me. take care now, wolf. to our viewers, you're in "the situation room." happening now, toyota says its sudden acceleration safety problem is not an electronics issue. the computer wiz, the apple co-founder and toyota fan steve wozniak is worried, very worried. he's here to tell us why. stand by. as the pentagon prepares to end its bay on gays openly serving in the military, we'll hear from some gay service members about life under "don't ask, don't tell." and a new twist in the case of americans accused of child trafficking in haiti. we'll hear from parents who tell us they willingly, willingly handed over their children and why. i'm wolf blitzer.
we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. you're in "the situation room." dramatic and stunning comments today from the transportation secretary ray lahood. he says toyota stalled in dealing with the sudden acceleration problems link stod gas pedals. he said it took government pressure including a trip to japan to get toyota to take action. toyota says it has a fix for the 2.3 million vehicles recalled in the united states because of a sticky gas pedal. there are millions more other vehicles around the world that have a similar problem apparently but critics suspect the problem is much more ominous. toyota's u.s. president jim lentz says the car's electronics are not the problem. talk about it more with computer wiz steve wozniak, the co-founder of apple and an owner
of multiple toyotas. he's worried. steve, thanks very much for coming in. you own four toyotas, is that right? >> currently, yes. one used by a son, one used by my staff, one used by my wife, one used by myself and i love them. >> are these all toyota priuses? >> yes, they are. the cars changed my life. i have a lot of expensive cars. i have a lot of big prestigious cars but i prefer since 2004 to drive my priuses. i mean, i love this car, the way it feels. it's so quiet, i'm rested. i drove to l.a. today. i'll drive had 12 hours to phoenix instead of fly. >> this is the most widely sold hybrid in the united states. all right. so what's the problem here that you've encountered in your prius, which i should point out is not one of those models that's been recalled by toyota. >> oh, well, it's a big hoax. i bet my friends i could get on your show and here i am. the hoax is really more in the
media. the media is portraying me as saying i'm worried about the problem, what they've been recalled for is a software problem. i haven't said those things. they put the words in my mouth. i said my prius has a totally different unrelated problem. it had it two, three months ago. i tried to report it. the reason that i'm on here today is because i was speaking the other day to a group of teachers for a discovery museum and talking about an issue of customer support, how hard it is sometimes to get to the people that can really deal with your problems and it's frustrating. and i sort of brought up this issue of how i had tried for a couple of months in different ways to get toyota to hear about my problem. but mine is mine o. it's more like a radio button that doesn't work all the time. the car will start to accelerator in cruise control. you can hit the brake to stop it. and maybe it's scary for the first time for a couple of seconds, but once you know about it, it's not like i think it's life threatening. i've been driving the car all these months. but it's a two-month-old story
when it comes to us. >> tell us the problem. you've tried to get in touch with toyota to complain about this but come up, what, guess a dead-end? >> well, the nhtsa has been a real problem for me to report things online or by phone. >> the national highway transportation safety administration. >> they just want to take data. they don't want to fix problems. they just want to hear about it for the database but they finally did get me a number of toyota and i got through. it was difficult because i have such a busy schedule. i haven't been able to do it all the time. i got through to toyota and they make a mark of it a few days ago. a couple of months ago, my wife took the car in for me while i was traveling and they didn't quite buy her that she had something, that there was something there, because there is a very explainable -- there's a different explanation that is more along the lines of user error in cruise control with the radar system.
and they are right and, also, i claim that i have a different story slightly. but regardless, it's not the one that threatens lives like cars that just suddenly start acceleratoring and you can't stop it. once i heard that story i memorized the technique to quickly shift my car into neutral. >> and turn 06 the engine and get to the side of the road as quickly as possible. we went through that whole explanation -- >> there's a way to do it. if you're panicked, if you're panicked and your car takes off, you don't think of these things. but if you plan in advance at least i'm a little bit safer. >> well, explain what you think the cause of this problem, you're driving along, you put your car let's say at 55 miles per hour in cruise control and all of a sudden the car accelerates and you didn't do anything. why does that happen? >> nope. that's not the issue. it's a little more of a procedure of upping the speed, upping the speed and suddenly it just sort of went like it
thought you told it to go to infinity. it accelerates smoothly and only happened on freeways using the cruise control. it's very difficult to explain. it's not expected so it's scary. i showed my wife how to do it and she caused it to happen and it was scary for her but only the first time. >> has toyota explained to you -- has toyota explained what the problem is? >> oh, that's the problem. well, i did report it to a local dealer but like i said, they didn't escalate it up to some high level safety guy at toyota. you would think with all these accelerator problems, whether mats or sticky accelerator pedal -- i believe they found the right solution. if toyota says it's not electrical, i believe it's right. i have a slightly different problem. like you could buy a bad cell phone. yours doesn't work for something and everyone else's does.
well, you just got a bad one. >> let me ask you an unrelated question before i let you go. your former partner steve jobs, they've now interdilutioned the ipad amid a lot of fanfare pip know you have nothing to do with apple anymore, but what do you think about this new gadget? >> i'm a high end techie gadgeteer. and it doesn't exactly fit my lifestyle of a quantity of the maximum usage. but then i thought about it. i have a lot of experience teaching in schools, being around educators. oh, my god, the education community. the number of times i was in schools that were looking for ways to buy thousands of computers for their students and they want macs so badly but sometimes the price puts them off. this is the ideal machine. it does what a student needs to operate in the school. and also students that go away and their parents say they can't afford the mac, it's more expensive than a pc. now they have an out and have the hottest, coolest gadget of the time. a lot of people that i'm around don't like that computer systems are so complicated and when
things go wrong, it's difficult to understand. here's a whole new platform based on a phone that's so simplified it isn't that complicated. it's like a fresh start for computers. i think it applies to them just as much. like my wife's father is a perfect subject for this new computer. >> and that's a good point. but let me get back to the electronics issue in toyota. we got -- we were interested obviously in what you had to say because of the original comments i'll read to you what you said. and i want you to just clarify once and for all so there is no confusion. there is a lot of confusion about where steve wozniak stands on toyota. you were quoted as saying the reason that my case is important and urgent is that it is electronic. i can cause it totally under cruise control without a foot touching the accelerator pedal. is my software bug also some code that is in the other priuses related to the deadly problem? that was the quote from you. i think you've explained what you meant to say. but do you want to elaborate,
anything else you want to say on that? >> yes. it's a quote, but it's referring to a point in time that was maybe one month ago, two months ago when it might have been related to the real problem of the recall. and now it probably isn't. unless somebody is telling horrible lies. but right then, you would think, oh, my gosh, anybody who has got an accelerator issue, if the top three people in toyota or their legal department heard about this, they'd say we want to go, oh, 3450i gosh, we have to look at your car right away, we might learn what the real cause is. because they were claiming that mats were sticking in the accelerator of priuses but some people were saying, no, no, no, their mat was not loose, they didn't even have a mat. there were questions about what the real problem was. it's like the bug in a computer. you don't get to the real true answer right away or even your first thing that you think is right sometimes isn't. >> and we did ask toyota for a statement regarding your earlier quoted comments. let me read to you what jim lentz, the president of toyota
motors usa, had to say, jim lentz president and coo of toyota. toyota reached out to mr. wozniak to discuss the situation. if we are eager to learn about what mr. wozniak experienced with his prius and share what we know about his systems in his vehicle to clarify the situation. is that true? have they reached out to you? >> well, i -- more than anything else in the world, i would like somebody high up in safety at toyota just to acknowledge, oh, we heard about your problem now. because i had so much lack of success two months ago. and i'm sure they're very nice people, but you know, wolf, i'm not an angry person. i haven't complained about this problem to a single friend. it's almost humorous to talk about. i have a neat story. and, you know, you guys -- you guys here on cnn, you guys aren't as friendly as on "dancing with the stars." >> steve wozniak, thanks very much for coming in. >> glad to be here.
they lead america's intelligence agencies and they all agree on one thing. there will be another attempted terror attack on the united states sooner, not later. details of the new sobering assessment. that's coming up. also, should terror suspects be read their rights? the defense secretary has an opinion. but why is he hesitant to give it? details of his vague answer to a blunt question. plus, new developments in the case of american missionaries accused of child trafficking in haiti. we're going there live. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." ( clicking ) ( laughs, click ) when you hear a click, ( clicking ) you know it's closed and secure. that's why hefty food bags click closed. hefty! hefty! hefty! so you know you've helped lock in freshness and lock out air... to help prevent freezer burn.
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bring in jack cafferty for "the cafferty file." >> this just in. abstinence only sex education might just work. a landmark federally funded study shows the first clear evidence that these programs can perfect stwad teenagers to put off having sex. this could have huge implications on the national debate over lowering teen pregnancy rates as well as sexually transmitted disease. it appears in the archives of pediatric and adolescent this medicine and shows 33% of sixth and seventh graders to took an abstinence only program began having sex within two years, but that's much better than the 52% who were taught only about safe sex and went on to have sex within two years. 42% who learned about both safe
sex and abstinence. the obama administration had had cut out more than $170 million in annual federal funding for the abstinence programs and instead put more than $100 million towards other times of sex ed programs. but based on the new findings officials now suggest similar abstinence programs could be eligible for federal dollars. some call the abstinence research game changing that, it comes after years of getting a bad rap. the critics say the curriculum and the study isn't a good sample. they said the class study didn't take a moral tone. it encouraged them to wait to have sex until ready, not until married and didn't disapprove of condom use. one researcher says the take-away is the best solution to fight the problem is to use a wide range of programs. the results of this study ironically come just a week after another report showing that after a decade of declining teen pregnancies, the rate is going up again among all racial
and all ethnic groups. here's the question. what role should abstinence-only sex education play in preventing teen pregnancy? go to cnn.com/cafferty file. post comment on my blog. wolf. >> good question, jack. thanks very much. terrorists will definitely try to attack the united states once again in the near future. that very grim assessment today from the heads of the major u.s. intelligence agencies. listen to this chilling roll call. >> what is the hikelihood of another terrorist-attempted attack on the u.s. homeland in the next three to six months? high or low? director blair? >> an attempted attack, the priority is certain, i would say. >> mr. panetta? >> i would agree with that. >> mr. muller? >> agree. >> general burgess? >> yes, ma'am, agree. >> mr. ding officer. >> yes. >> let's talk about this and more with our national security
contributor fran townsend. she was the homeland security adviser to president bush. the next three to six months certain they say an attempted terrorist attack against the united states. that's chilling. >> it's not only chilling, wolf. it's unprecedented. how many times can we recall since 9/11 seeing intelligence and law enforcement officials up there saying it's certain? that doesn't happen. although in some respects when you look at the attempted bombing on christmas day, you've seen john brennan come out, the president's homeland security advise he shall, and said al qaeda in the arabian peninsula is the closest affiliate to al qaeda core, we've seen an attempt on the chief with an underwear bomber in saudi arabia. we've seen the british come out and they've raised their terrorist alert system. they're loathe to do that, i can tell from you experience. when you see all of these things happening, i think americans understand that the threat is certainly up. but when you hear these people, these officials who are
cognizant of the intelligence that we're not aware of say it's certain, that is pretty chilling. >> in britain they've raised the terror threat level. should we do it here in the united states? >> it's interesting, secretary napolitano commissioned a task force to look at it. i co-chaired that. we made recommendations. this is months ago. and they didn't seem to do anything to it. i think it's a dilemma for them now. having not changed or altered the terror alert system and said that the likelihood of an attack is certain, i think they're in a very difficult decision and need to explain what is the utility if any at all to the continuing terror alert system. >> listen to this exchange. the defense secretary robert gates was up on capitol hill and asked about the miranda rights issue that were read to the christmas day attempted airplane bomber abdulmutallab. listen to this exchange that occurred. >> secretary gates, when we capture an enemy combatant in afghanistan or iraq, do we read them their miranda rights?
>> no. >> so why should we do so if we capture one in this country? >> that's a question better addressed to the attorney general, senator. >> you were the director of the central intelligence agency before you were the secretary of defense? >> yes, sir. >> so i assume you have an opinion on this. >> i have -- my view is that the issue of whether someone is put into the american judicial system or into the military commissions is a judgment best made by the chief law enforcement officer of the united states. >> very diplomatic response from the defense secretary, though he hesitated there for several seconds. you noticed that. how would you have answered that question? >> wolf, in fairness to bob gates, this is really not his job. and that's really what you saw him struggling with. he probably has a personal
opinion. but right now as the secretary of defense, he handles the military commission process. he's engaged in running two wars. really, it's not a fair question to him. when he says the chief law enforcement officer, even that's ambiguous when he says it's really up to them. is he referring to bob mueller, the head of the fbi or in fact the chief law enforcement officer in the person of the attorney general? >> eric holder. >> eric holder. even when he finally did answer it, it was anything but clear. >> did you see the breaking news from jeanne maine serve that abdulmutallab is now apparently cooperating with u.s. law enforcement forces. but providing what's good information, intelligence information about his old background and what happened in yemen and elsewhere. that's significant. >> it is significant, wolf. but i'll tell you i think you'll see the administration is going to spin that to mean something i don't think it does. that is the administration is going to tell us, look, it didn't matter that we read his miranda rights. he's cooperating anyway.
when in fact there's been this long break in his cooperation. jean story said he started speaking about a week ago. that means there was a period of weeks he had actionable intelligence he wasn't sharing with us after having been read his miranda rights after only 50 minutes of -- >> is there any compromise of intelligence, why the timing now? those are issues that jump to my mind. >> you're exactly right, wolf. as jeanne had heard from someone in senior law enforcement officials, so did i that this was actually now going on. i suspect the timing of us finding out about it publicly is interesting because as you know there's a push back and forth between who in the administration made that decision, who was aware, who was consulted. i think the bureau frankly was tired of being criticized and wanted it out there that he was now cooperating. >> thanks very much, fran townsend helping us. iran's president is considering making a deal for the release of those american hikers his country is holding.
details of what he wants to trade for their freedom. plus autism and a surprising turnaround. a new study that disturbed parents around the world. now being retracted. eggland's best eggs. the best in nutrition... just got better. now with even more of the vitamins your body needs. like vitamin d. plus omega 3's. there's one important ingredient that hasn't changed: better taste. [ female announcer ] eggland's best. better taste. better nutrition. the better egg.
for iranians imprisoned in the united states. ahmadinejad said in a television interview today that talks are under way for a possible exchange. the families of the three americans who could be facing espionage charges say they accidentally crossed the border during a hike back in july. hundreds of iraqis are mourning the loss of more than 50 people killed in yesterday's suicide bombing near baghdad. yesterday's blast came in the midst of a shiite pilgrimage this week toward the city of karbala to mark the death of a renowned shiite figure. despite promising heightened security for the pilgrims, iraqi security forces were unable to prevent yesterday's attack. and the medical journal the lancet is retracting a controversial 1998 study linking certain vaccines to autism. the lead author of the study was dead ceted by the it general council in britain calling it biased and his conduct
dishonest. wakefield in the statement called the allegations unfounded and unjust. and celebrities in hollywood are hoping to recapture the magic of the michael jackson/lionel richie original "we are the world." celine dion, tony bennett, jennifer hudson just a fuft names that gathered to recreate the international hit, this time to raise money for the earthquake relief effort in haiti. the new song will premiere during the olympics february 12. that should be wonderful to hear that new rendition of that song. >> a great song, a great cause. thanks for doing it. we'll get back to you, lisa. appreciate it. canada, britain, france, israel allow gays to serve openfully their military. what about the united states? congressman duncan hunter jr. says now is not the time. senator kirsten it gillibrand is pushing to make it happen. e they'll join us in a moment. it doesn't cover everything.
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how do you find people that don't want to be counted? details of efforts to coax hundreds of thousands of people out of the shadows. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the pentagon is now taking steps to prepare for lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the united states military. the defense secretary robert gates tells the senate armed services committee a year long study is now under way that will contain an implementation plan for win congress repeals the law. the joint chiefs chairman admiral mike mullen says lifting the ban is a matter of integrity and, quote, the right thing do. the number of service members discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" has generally declined over the last decade while the u.s. is at war in afghanistan and iraq. the peak in 2001 when more than 1200 were discharged. last year the number was 428. in total, more than 13,000 men
and women have been discharged under the policy since it was implemented back in 1993. critics note that the number includes 730 deemed mission critical, plus 65 arabic and farsi language linguists or experts. joining us to discuss the "don't ask, don't tell" poll circumstances two members of the congress, the republican representative, duncan hunter jr. he's a reserve marine, freshman congressman from california, holding the seat vacated by his father, the 14-term congressman duncan l. hunter. he opposes lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the military. also joining us, democratic senator cirsen gillibrand of new york states. she supports lifting the ban. thanks to both of you for coming in. congressman hunter, why is it okay for the militaries in canada, britain, france, most of the nato allies, israel, to allow gays to serve openly without any serious problems
there, but not okay to allow gays to serve openly in the u.s. military? >> the main reason is britain, france or canada, we're not them. their military is much smaller, much more specialized. we have a larger military. and i think that it would be detrimental to our entire force, our cohesiveness if we allowed homosexuals to serve openly. but the main answer is, they aren't us, we aren't them. we're the world's major military. its major police force doing things like haiti, iraq, afghanistan and carrying the majority of the burden for most wars where we're in the right and i think it's important that we maintain that status quo. >> i'll get to senator gillibrand in a moment. but you don't think, for example, the israelis have military issues similar to the issues the united states faces? >> but they have mandatory service. so you have to go into the military in israel. we have an all-volunteer force. it's been that way.
>> they have a problem as far as unit cohesion because they allow gays to serve openly? >> i don't know, but they don't have a choice because it's all volunteer. it isn't volunteer like ours is. they have mandatory service. in israel, it doesn't matter whether you like it or not whereas here the recruiters will say, hey, it's hurting the recruiting because we don't have as many kids to join because they have allowed homosexuals to serve openly. israel doesn't have that. you're forced to join the military in israel, two totally different situations. >> let's let senator gillibrand respond. >> in answer to your question, admiral mullen testified today that he's talked to the commanding officers of these other services for other countries and, in fact, they've said they experienced no undermining of morale or no less unit cohesion. and he brat out the point that i thought was very important, that we serve with these militaries, not only in iraq but afghanistan and our men and women serve with their men and women and there's no problem with our ability to
serve effectively. >> waunt to respond, congressman? >> to her last one i was in afghanistan serving with nato six, seven months. didn't run into any open homosexual men or women with the brits, canadians, germans, french, the other people i served with over there. so there's not like there's a bunch of open homosexuals serve shg with the americans. admiral mullen and secretary gates are both political appointees. they're going to be biased. they're going to say what administration wants them to say. what i want to talk to is the marine corps it commandant to general casey in the army. i want to see what the military leaders, the actual service leaders have to say on this, because i think they'll have a much different take than the political appointees. >> all right. let me just hesitate for a second, congressman hunter. secretary gates certainly a political appointee named by the president, confirmed by the senate. but admiral mullen, a four star
navy admiral, chairman of the joint chief of staff, a career military officer, you're saying he's a political appointee? >> i'm saying his point of view and he stressed his and his alone. it's not his actual joint chiefs point of view. i think there's something very different. >> wolf, may i address this question? >> hold on. i want to clarify. you're saying he's biased? >> he is biased to the administration, yeah. i believe so. i think we -- >> go ahead, senator. >> we saw what happened with general pace. i don't think he wants that to happen to him. >> go ahead. you're talking about peter pace, the former chairman of the joint chiefs. what happened to him, congressman? >> he was basically kicked out of the administration and reprimanded for talking about this -- true. it was during the bush administration. but, still, he was pretty much reprimanded and his career ended because of words on this particular subject. >> go ahead, senator.
>> i would like to address some of the men and women who are serving in the military right now. you know, i have a project on my website, dadtstoryproject. i have men and women who have served in the military who told their own personal stories about why this policy is so corrosive. it was amplified by admiral mullen today when he said this is about integrity. i have sergeants who are saying that it fundamentally undermines the integrity, not just their own where they're forced to lie about something so important, who they love, not be able to kiss loved ones good-bye when they're going off to serve, not being able to talk to their commanding officer or the men and women they serve with about the things that are most important to them, that it's not only living a lie, but it undermines the integrity of their own being but also the armed services. >> senator, let me just press you on one of the arguments senator john mccain made at the house republican leader john boehner made, that the united
states is in the middle of two wars, in iraq and afghanistan. this is not the time, they say, to raise this divisive issue. it's better left to the sidelines. the "don't ask, don't tell" policy they say is working out just fine, leave it alone. >> it's not working out just fine, wolf. we've lost 16,000 personnel because of this policy. more than 800 in mission-critical areas meaning we can't easily replace them. 10% of foreign language speakers particularly farsi and arabic. this has cost the military over $300 million in recruitment or replacement costs. we need all of our best and brightest serving now with all of these skills, with all of this training. so i would challenge you now when we have two wars, great recruitment needs, fighting terrorism, we need all of our best and brightest in place and should not lose another soldier, another airman, another marine, another naval officer. we cannot afford to lose some of these men and women. >> if i may, wolf, since 1999,
over 1.96 million people have been discharged. 0.5% of those have been discharged because of homosexual conduct. i was in the military. the marine corps for three tours. it's going to hurt unit cohesion if we take this issue and we press this as a social experiment on the military right now when we have two big wars going on. >> congressman duncan hunter -- unfortunately, we're out of time. i'd love to have both of you back to continue this debate because obviously it's not going away. if you have a ten-second comment, senator, go ahead. >> i just want to thank duncan for his service and his commitment and his sacrifices for our military. i served with your father on the armed services committee on the house side. i'm greatly appreciative of your service. >> we're going to have senator gillibrand back. you have a hot political race coming up this year. we'll talk politics the next time you're here. a good important discussion on a major issue facing the united states military right now. thanks to both of you for coming
let's check ba with lisa sylvester. she's monitoring some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right now. what else is going on? >> iranian president mahmoud ahmadinejad says that iran is now ready to send iranians abroad for further enrichment as requested by the united nations. he said in an interview today with state iranian television that iran will have no problem giving the west its low enriched uranium. it would be a major shift in iran's policy.
at least 29 people are dez after a suspected u.s. drone strike in northwestern pakistan. the missiles hit targets in villages in north waziristan. analysts say this is the highest death toll in a single day from a drone strike in pakistan this year. a suspected strike last month is believed to have injured the leader of the taliban in pack staj stand. and the box office mega hit aftera "star" and "the hurt locker" two of the early favorites for this year's academy awards. both films earned nine nominations including best picture and pitted respective directors and ex-spouses james cameron and katherine bigelow against each other. a total of ten were nominated. the oscars will air on march 7th. i have to say i have not seen either of those two movies. >> a lot of movies i have to catch up and see as well before the oscars. thanks very much. we have our home work for us. >> yes, we do. a new twist in the case of those americans accused of child trafficking in haiti.
stand by. we're going to be hearing from parents who tell us they willingly handed over their children and why. - kids: cup-cakes! cup-cakes! cup-cakes! cup-cakes! - come on. cup-cakes! cup-- re-do! re-do! ( stove dings ) cup-cakes! cup-cakes! cup-cakes! ( cheering ) announcer: relax. pam helps you pull it off.
new developments in the case of ten americans facing child trafficking charges in haiti. a judge was meeting with them today. we'll get an update in a moment. first, we hear from parents who say they willingly handed over their children in hopes of a better life for them. here's cnn's karl penhaul. >> reporter: family photos taken before a desperate father gave away his baby daughters. he says he handed over the 4-year-old and 5-year-old to a group of american baptists last
week. the americans are now in haitian jail, accused of trafficking 33 haitian babies and children. his story is echoed by other parents in this village and says he was too poor to care for his kids after the quake. he hoped the americans would offer his girls a brighter future. "i put them on the bus with the americans with my own hands. i played with them up until the last minute. then i kissed them both good-bye and told them, don't forget daddy," he said. he says he earns a dollar a day fixing computers and shows us around his quake-damaged home. he finds the grubby bear his little girl called tingeon. he packed nothing for his kids. he says the americans promised to give the children schooling, a safe home in the dominican republic, new clothes and soft toys.
"i was crying because i didn't know when i would see them again. it's okay if i suffer but at their age, they should not suffer. they can't go hungry," he said. in the grassy square, villagers say 21 of the 33 children taken by the americans were from here. they say at least 14 had one or both parents. in a weekend jail house interview, the americans told cnn they believed all the children they attempted to bus into the dominican republic were orphans or had been abandoned. >> we believe that we've been charged very falsely with trafficking, which of course that is the furthest possible extreme. >> reporter: in a temporary refuge for the children, this 10-year-old plays alone on a swing, hoping her mom will change her mind and come fetch her. we find her mother in the same mountain village as the other parents.
she misses her daughter and cradles her doll. she remembers how her daughter sobbed as she left last thursday. "i told her to call me once in a while just so i know how she's doing, so i would know if she was fine," she says. her parents scraped by farming vegetables and bananas. they're the poorest of the poor. she says the only thing she could give her daughter was her love, even if it meant sending her away. "i told her she should go and i promised one day i would go and see her. after she left, i was very sad," she says. the haitian government is now investigating what the americans planned to do with the children, who had no passports and no permission to leave and whether they knowingly committed a crime. >> karl penhaul joining us live from port-au-prince. you've been out working this story all day.
what else is going on? what about, first of all, these ten americans? i take it they're all still in prison. >> reporter: they are. they're all in jail down at the judicial police headquarters, which is down near the airport in port-au-prince. and today they had a meeting, another meeting with a judge. now, this is an investigative judge who carries out a preliminary investigation. and then once the judge has done his questioning and prepared a file, a dossier, then he will pass that along, we understand, to a tribunal what the haitians call a tribunal of more judges, who will then look over the evidence and investigate this further. so things certainly seem to be moving ahead, wolf. >> and what about the kids? what do we know about the 33 children? >> reporter: well, all 33 are now being cared for by an austrian run charity, sos children's villages. the haitian social services ministry has said that those children cannot be reunited with
their families for now because the parents and the guardians, the legal guardians of those children have also become targets of investigation as well. the haitian authorities want to find out why the parents gave their children to the americans and also because the prime minister himself says this is illegal. you can't just go around giving your kids away. yes, the parents say we couldn't look after them, one may sympathize with that, but it isn't legal, so the parents are now also becoming a target of investigation. but what we do know now is that at least 20 of the 33 children had one parent or other. they had a mother, a father or in some cases both, and the other remaining 13 children had a very close next of kin such as an elder brother or elder sister who had been looking after them, wolf. >> karl penhaul will stay on top
of this story. thank you, karl, very much. toyota's nightmare, now word from the top official that it took considerable pressure to get the company to issue its recall. you have multiple cars... and multiple toys... with multiple places to go. so be smart. simplify. combine and save. get all your insurance from one allstate agent, and you can get multiple discounts... on your multiple policies. simpler is smarter. that's allstate's stand. are you in good hands?
. all right, let's check in with jack for the cafferty file. jack? >> the question this hour is what role should abstinence only sex education play in preventing teen pregnancy, which for the first time in ten years has begun to rise again in this country. monica writes -- >> abstinence may be the only 100% effective way to prevent
pregnancy or disease, but teenagers are still going to have sex. shouldn't they have all the information available to them? ted writes -- the physical, emotional, financial and spiritual consequences of teenage sex must be discussed. abstinence educators have the courage to explore these avenues with the young people they encounter. meg writes -- it's not just teen pregnancy that's a concern, stds are as well. j.j. in washington writes --
teens need to be he had indicated -- educated on all their option, not just preached at to say no. bob says -- and e. in chicago writes -- >> if you want to read more on the subject, i got a lot of mail, go to my blog, cnn.com/caffertyfile. >> you know what, we'll do it again. >> in approximately an hour. actually, in about 15 minutes. >> in a few minutes. don't go far. >> i can't wait. a landmark study on autism now retracted, plus a banker caught on tape analyzing some unusual assets.
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here is some advice. be careful what you watch at work, you never know who might be watching you. cnn's jeanne moos takes a look. >> if you're going to watch something on tape, you better make sure you're not exposed. note the guy in the background bringing up racy photos on his computer. the mcquarry financial expert was talking about interest rates, but that's not what interested the guy in the background, even when a colleague walked over, he kept right on looking. folks quickly recognized miranda kerr, a famous victoria's secret model -- >> which is what i have on right now. >> actually, she had on less when cavorting on the beach or
in bathwater. fans like her as a supermodel. in the guy's defense, it wasn't really porn he was looking at, it was more like he was opening photos somebody had e-mailed him, photos from gq. it includes a three-photo spread. as he looked at that photo, he knew he was nabbed. poor so-and-so, busted at work for something most people do at work every day. a guy watching porn accidentally unplugs his headset. or the wife surprises hubby at home, and his computer freezes before he can hide the evidence. >> what are you doing? >> get a laptop or maybe a lap dance. on-line speculation about this guy's fate was rampant.
in the words of donald trump -- >> you're fired. >> but the mcquarry group would say only that it takes matters, such as the unacceptable use of technology extremely seriously and that the situation is being dealt with internally. this is what banker types are looking at? and we wonder why they didn't see the crash coming. jeanne moos, cnn -- >> before that you see that effect. >> new york. happening now, breaking news. the suspect in the failed christmas bomb attack starts talking again. is he pointing fingers and naming names? we're going to tell you what we're learning right now. stand by. the top u.s. military officer says it's time to do the right thing for gay troops. this hour service members open up about plans to repeal. don't ask, don't tell. and a new charge that toyota
was slow to recall millions of cars and a little deaf to the danger of drivers. a top obama administration official is now speaking out. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the situation room. up first this hour, breaking news. in the battle to protect americans from terror, we're learning that the failed christmas bombing suspect is cooperating now with investigators. this as top u.s. intelligence officials warned senators today another attempted attack on america in their words is, and i'm quoting now, certain in the near future. >> what is the likelihood of another terrorist-attempted attack on the u.s. homeland in the next three to six months? high or low? director blair? >> an attempted attack, the priority is certain, i would say.
>> mr. pinetta? >> i would agree with that. >> general burgess. >> i agree. >> first of all, gejean, what a you learning about the christmas bomber day's suspects right now? >> abdullah abdullah mutallab is talking to officials. he talked about his training overseas, people he met, people he worked with and others who were part of the plot. according to these sources, he started talking last thursday. he is still talking. all of this information is being passed along to intelligence agencies for follow-up. one source tells me it appears to be valuable information that he's providing, wolf. >> but this is a dramatic development because he was read his miranda rights. he has a public defender, an
attorney, and all of a sudden we're learning this. are they giving some background, some explanation why all of a sudden he's talking and cooperate sng. >> one official who i talked to said that the department of justice and the fbi used what they called the levers in the criminal justice system to persuade him to cooperate. as one person pointed out to me, there were several hundred people on board that aircraft who watched what was happening on christmas day. a conviction probably appeared like a sure bet and apparently investigators were quite persuasive in their conversations with him, wolf. obviously it has a political implication for the white house. just today administration officials, those same ones you showed talking about the terrorists, were getting hammered by some members of congress for this decision to read this man his miranda rights and try him in the criminal justice system. the feeling was an opportunity to get more information had been lost. now apparently he's cooperating and that would appear to help
the administration out of what was clearly a very sticky situation. wolf? >> the statement by the top intelligence officials unanimously that another attempted terrorist attack against the united states in their words now, certain over the next three to six months. that was the question that the chair of the senate intelligence committee, diane feinstein asked. is there any indication that the u.s. is about to elevate or raise the terror threat level? >> no, wolf, i've heard absolutely no indication that that has been the case. there has been a concern, of course, since christmas day that there might be follow-up attacks. they have ramped up security certainly in the aviation sector, but at this point in indication that the threat level is going to be raised. look at how many attacks or attempted attacks there have been within the past year, and logic goes to tell you that there would be more coming up in the months to come. wolf?
>> jean resesh working the story for us. now iran saying they might release three of the hikers being held for someone in the united states. he is also suggesting they might address a key demand on the nuclear program. let's bring in jill dougherty. jill, what is the state department saying? >> listening to the way you phrased that might possibly, et cetera, et cetera. there are a lot of questions about this. essentially, president ahmadinejad, in a tv interview in iran, said that there might be a deal, in fact, that they were talking about it. he didn't say with whom, about the possibility of swapping those three american hikers for some iranians who are held in the united states. now, we talked with the state department, and the spokesman,
dorman thurgood, said he had no knowledge of what he was talking about, but essentially the americans are saying, number one, we want access to those americans, and they haven't had access. they haven't had access for months. we want to see them and also they and other americans should be released. wolf? >> does the state department confirm, jill, that the united states is holding iranians in american jails? >> there are some. they will not say precisely how many. the iranians did release a list, or at least they said that there were 11 being held. and they claim that the u.s. has actually taken people off the streets. some iranians have actually disappeared, and the iranians claim that they are here in the united states. but you would have to say that any type of ideas about a prisoner swap would have to be very dubious, because the state department has made it clear
they don't believe that these americans, who they say are completely innocent, would be able to be in some type of prisoner swap. and then wolf, the other thing on that nuclear side, it sounds little more promising from president ahmadinejad about giving up some or most of their highly enriched uranium, but again, you have these statements in an interview. the details he's giving on this don't match the details the international community has. >> jill dougherty, thanks very much. in the midst of fighting two wars, the u.s. military starting a major retreat now on gaz serving openly in the united states military. pentagon officials say they're already laying groundwork for the end of don't ask, don't tell six days after the president called for the repeal in the state of the union address. mike mullen delivered a powerful statement to senators today supporting the repeal. >> speaking for myself and
myself only is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. no matter how i look at this issue, i can't escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. >> the front lines against a global terrorist enemy, serving and sacrificing on battlefields far from home, and working to rebuild and reform the stress after many years of conflict. at this moment, a mirdst hardshp for our armed service, we should not be seeking to overturn the don't ask, don't tell policy. >> chris, you recently spent some time with the troops in north virginia. what did you hear from them
about this? >> the same disagreement you saw between senator mccain and admiral mullen. we came at this two ways. of course, talking with members of the military, and also people who might have joined the military if not for don't ask, don't tell. >> coming out of columbia medical school, robert cavanaugh wanted to be an officer. his friends were an rotc, his grandfather was a u.s. marine. but the openly gay doctor didn't go through with it because he couldn't go back in the closet. >> serving in the military is something i thought of through high school and college. >> but you decided not to go the military route. what swayed your decision? >> hands down, don't ask, don't tell. to keep that part of yourself a secret, i think that you have to lie. >> but that's only half the story. we also wanted to hear what real service members think, so headed down to the naval base in
norfolk. >> there's nobody trying to hunt them down saying, oh, kick them out, they're gay, they're lesbian, nothing like that. >> in 2008, about seven times more people got kicked out of the military for being too fat than being openly gay. she says she already serves with gay colleagues and nobody asks, nobody tells. >> you see it every day, you just don't say anything. i definitely think you should keep it. if you get rid of it, it would just cause more problems. >> others disagree. >> just because you're gay or not gay, it doesn't affect from my viewpoint, it doesn't affect how someone does their job. >> for someone fighting two wars, now is not the time to overturn don't ask, don't tell. kevin disagrees. >> i hear about the violence on tv and the deaths and the bloodshed over there. i think, damn, i wish i was over there to help these people.
they could put me to use over there. it's frustrating. >> kevin told me if they would repeal don't ask, don't tell, he would give the military a second thought. meanwhile, the pentagon is pushing this social discussion on line. the media on facebook is asking people to weigh in on don't ask, don't tell. and on twitter, the joint chiefs of staff said allowing the military to serve openly is the right thing to do. wolf? >> we'll have more on this in the next weeks and months. appreciate it, chris lawrence. the obama administration making a stunning charge today against toyota saying the car maker dragged its heels in dealing with the gas pedal safety hazard and that u.s. officials had to put enormous pressure on toyota to do the right thing. president obama takes his jobs and messages on the road and saves his jobs for republicans. we'll take you to new hampshire coming up right here on the situation. goal was to take an a and make it happen.
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jack cafferty is here with the cafferty file. jack? >> the middle class in this country is not what it used to be, not by a long shot. since the end of world war ii, middle class america always meant a certain kind of security. if you got a good education and you worked hard, there was a promise of success, being able to provide for your family, buy a home, educate your children and enjoy a comfortable retirement. there was also the belief that each new generation of americans would have it a little better than their parents' generation
did. it's not the case anymore, and it might never be again. since the start of the economic downturn, it's estimated 70 million americans lost their jobs, and a lot of those jobs simply went overseas, never to return. the national unemployment rate is 10%. it jumps to 17% if you include those who are underemployed. the nation's jobless rate expected to remain much higher than normal for a very long time. as for the great american dream of owning a home in the wake of the housing crisis, more than 2 million families have lost their homes to foreclosure over the last few years. consumer spending is down. the new reality might be that it stays that way. americans are paying more and more just for the basics. food, health care, education. it's becoming increasingly difficult for many who used to consider themselves middle class just to make ends meet. so here's the question. how is the definition of middle class american changed? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog.
not a pretty picture. >> no. those jobs are never going to come back. >> no. they're gone. >> jack, thanks very much. president obama today accused republicans of trying to, quote, have their cake and vote against it, too. he's been turning up his criticism of gop lawmakers even as he urges them to work with him. it's a risky strategy because many voters are fed up with all the feuding going on in washington. our white house correspondent, dan lothian, takes us behind the scenes at the president's town hall meeting today in new hampshire. >> so we just landed here in manchester, new hampshire. of course, during the campaign here, the road from the white house leads right to the granite state. but president obama is not here to talk about votes, he's here to talk about job creation, promising billions of dollars for medium and community banks so they in turn can make loans to small businesses. >> this will help small banks do even more of what our economy needs, and that's ensure that small businesses are once again the engine of job growth in
america. >> the president's focus, of course, were about jobs and the economy, but there were questions about health care. >> due to the great health care in this country, i'm a three-time cancer survivor. >> we're proud of you. >> but like many cancer patients was pushed out of a job. i was lucky enough to be able to retire early, buy into the retiree's health plan and then start my own successful business. >> health care is not bipartisan. cancer survivors are left-winning liberals and right-winning conservative, democrats, republicans in every party. >> how does this make you feel, then? >> it feels terrible. when the election in massachusetts came in, i went, ah. i'm so worried that people who can't afford health care or people with preexisting conditions won't have the care they need. >> reporter: outside the high school gym, a small group of demonstrators greeted the president, some supportive of mr. obama's a general darks
others concerned that the administration's efforts to turn the economy around will only leave them taxes and the country deeper in debt. wolf? >> dan lothian in new hampshire for us. thanks, dan. up for grabs in illinois, the first primary in the mid-term election year is for president obama's old senate seat. is it now the republicans' seat to lose? what's going on? ten americans accused of illegally trying to take children out of haiti. they get a day in court.
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. lisa sylvester is monitoring other stories in the situation room. what's going on, lisa? >> it isn't sitting well with the state's republican senator, judd gregg, who almost became mr. obama's secretary. he laid into white house budget director, peter orszag. listen to this heated exchange during a budget hearing. >> the very clear the moneys recupr recouped from the t.a.r.p. shall be paid from the general fund of the treasury for the reduction of the public debt. it's not for a piggy bank because you're concerned about lending to small businesses and you wanted to get a political event when you go out and make a speech in nashua, new hampshire. that's not what this money is for. this money is to reduce the debt of our children that we're passing on to our children.
you ought to at least have the integrity to be forthright about it and say that's what you're doing. you're adding to the debt that our kids are going to have to pay back when you're claiming at the same time that you're being fiscally responsible. let me ask you another question, because clearly we're not going to agree on this and you're not going to follow the law. secondly -- >> i'm sorry -- excuse me. we will be following the law. we've involved legislature -- >> then you won't be able to do it unless congress gives you authority to do it. >> usually congress passes them. >> peter orszag stressed more than once that the administration is aware that it needs congress to okay any change in the way the t.a.r.p. money is used. president obama's plan to bring guantanamo detainees to the united states for trial is facing new opposition today. a bipartisan group of 18 senators has introduced a bill which would block the funding requested by the president to try these detainees in civilian courts. a similar senate measure was struck down in november, but some democrats who originally
voted against it are now supporting that effort. democratic congressman john mirth of pennsylvania is in intensive care this hour following complications from gallbladder surgery. the appropriations of defense spending director underwent surgery last week. he was able to oversee the final passage of the defense appropriations bill. and a preliminary hearing today for ten american missionaries accused of child trafficking in haiti. they were arrested trying to take 33 children across the border into the dominican republic. now, cnn has located many of the parents, and they say they gave their children to the missionaries in the hope of a better life for their kids. wolf, that is one fascinating story. >> yeah, an amazing story indeed, and we're going to stay on top of it throughout this week and see what happens. a lot of interest. thanks very much, lisa. stunning comments about toyota today from the obama administration. the japanese car maker accused
of being tone deaf on safety and resistant to a recall of its gas pedal problem. and now united states congressman is weighing in with new charges. plus, federal investigators reveal the safety faults that led to that terrible airline crash a year ago in buffalo. ys . how about some hamburger helper? cheeseburger mac... how 'bout some after the show? hamburger helper. one pound. one pan. one tasty meal. if toyota gets credit for being the most fuel efficient car company in america, well, then how do you explain all this? chevy malibu, cobalt, silverado, and the all-new equinox. compare them to anyone. may the best car win. rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr$
new evidence today of how toyota is realing even as it tries to fix its recall crisis. they didn't fix it while gm and ford saw their sales rise. toyota needed convincing from federal safety officials that it was dealing with a very serious problem. brian todd is working this story for us. brian, update our viewers. some dramatic development today. >> there is, wolf, some dramatic development, especially tonight. new information in a letter to toyota's president. two members said they gave conflicting information to congress about these recalls. t bart supak sent the letter to toyota's president. with their staff, they indicated that, quote, sticking accelerator pedals are unliking to be responsible for the
sensational stories of drivers losing control. but james said, the problem of uncontrollable acceleration did come down to two separate recalls, one for floormats and one for sticking gas pedals. they pointed out there were unpublished incidents where it was not caused by floormats. they want toyota to qualify the information. toyota just responded to our inquiry about the congressman's letter. it reads, quote, we received and are reviewing the letter. we will, of course, cooperate with the state's inquiry. we believe our statements have been consistent and we will work to demonstrate that to the committee. meanwhile, wolf, the automaker and several key players in this entire controversy are taking other steps to defend their reputations. >> reporter: as millions of drivers scramble to get their toyota gas pedals fixed, key players in this recall are protecting their flanks in a public relations nightmare. press secretary raymond hood
said it took pressure from the government to get the automaker to take action over their sticking gas pedals that caused unintended acceleration. in a statement, hood said while toyota is taking responsible action now, it unfortunately took enormous effort to get to this point. hood said meetings in washington over the past few months people in his department pressed toyota and reminded them of their legal obligations. he to do told the associated press that if he hadn't pushed, he doesn't know if the recall would be taking place. secretary hood said to us that the soonest possible action would be in the best interests of our customers, and we took his advice very seriously and instituted a recall. we are very grateful for his advice and feel that we have been given a chance to regain our customers' trust. but a key supplier of the gas pedals is also defending its reputation. the indiana-based cts
corporation said its product shouldn't be linked with unintended acceleration but does have a less serious flaw. >> the pedals that are the subject of the recall have to do with a slow return phenomenon which is a very rare condition which occurs only in certain environmental conditions such as high humidity, and cts is not aware and toyota has said this also that there's been any accidents or injuries from that condition of those pedals. >> reporter: a toyota official told us that's true, but said it's also true that some cts pedals didn't just have slow return but also got stuck. we couldn't reach cts officials for comment on that. but a toyota official was very adamant with us that toyota is not blaming the supplier. he said cts and other suppliers designed these parts to toyota's specifications. this is a toyota part, he says, and we take responsibility for it. wolf? >> brian, toyota is not out of
the woods with the federal government yet, is it? >> by no means. raymond hood said flat out, quote, we are not finished with toyota and another official in his department said the national highway safety transportation said they were considering a lawsuit against toyota. >> this story goes on and on. lots of people out there very, very disturbed. there are some very disturbing findings in the crash of a continental airlines connection flight that killed 50 people almost one year ago. cnn's senior correspondent alan chernoff reports. >> wolf, the safety board investigation points to pilot error as a cause of the tragic accident. but it also highlights a system that allowed a pilot who appears to have been poorly qualified and poorly trained to be in command of an aircraft with four dozen passengers dependent upon him. >> reporter: when continental
flight 4307 was about to stall, the pilot reacted with tragic mistakes, ignoring warngsz that the plane was slowing and then overriding an emergency system that tried to point the aircraft nose down to regain speed. >> the captain's improper flight control inputs were instead consistent with starttle and confusion. >> the operator of the flight had repeatedly failed test drives but with held some of the failures. they never trained the pilot to use a stick pusher that warned of an imminent stall. >> the captain would have been a candidate for remedial training, however cogen didn't have a training for pilots who demonstrated weakness. >> the ntsb chair said the aba system said they failed to hold
back a pilot that just didn't have the right stuff. >> i liken it to a student that keeps getting passed from grade to grade to grade and ultimately upon graduation hasn't mastered the material. >> co-pilot rebecca shaw and the pilot were not rested. they regailed during the flight for the rest of the evening. that's against pilot rules. >> the pilot was properly trained, but had the co-pilot been properly trained, my son would be alive today. they can't bring my son back. >> they plan proposals to address pilot fatigue later this year. but to the ntsb, the faa is doing too little too late. >> it's the same thing over and over again. we have made recommendations time after time after time. they have not been heeded by the
faa and they haven't pushed it across the finish line. >> in a statement, colgen air said we want to make clear again that our pilots are highly trained to handle all situations they may encounter. wolf? >> alan chernoff reporting for us. thank you. it was a study on autism that frightened an entire generation of parents. now that study is being retract retracted. stand by. americans are not necessarily drinking less but they are drinking differently. differences of the little known impact of the great recession. each year food executives come to grasse, france
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. lisa sylvester is monitoring some of the other stories in the situation room. >> hi, wolf. a journal is retracting a certain study linking vaccines to autism. dr. andrew wakefield's article was discredited, calling his selection of patients biassed and his conduct dishonest. wakefield calls the allegations unfounded skpun just. a new study finds that an abstinence education only is the most effective way to keep sixth and seventh graders from having sex. according to a study published, only a third of children who took an abstinence only class had sex within two years of taking the class, while more than half of the students in a safe sex program had sex within
the same period. 42 of the same students who took a combined course had sex. michael jackson's doctor is expected to turn himself in in the next day or two for supplying certain prescriptions to michael jackson before his death. jackson, you will recall, died in june after murray adminstered several sleep aids, including a powerful anesthetic. people are drinking more but they're spending less on what they drink. an industry group reports that people are buying less expensive liquor and drinking at home more rather than going to bars and restaurants. sales of lower-priced lickers shot up 5 to 10% last year. total revenue was flat. overall, americans' favorite liquor, i'm guessing you can guess this one, wolf.
t it is still vodka. >> a sign of the economic times. people are drinking more at home because they don't have much money. thank you very much, lisa, for that. illinois is about to close the polls on the first primary of this mid-term election season. we're going to chicago also. up for grabs in the contest tonight, the former senate seat held by president obama. why this one is the republican candidates' to lose right now. and later, democrats draft their answer to the supreme court ruling.
primary days almost over in illinois. it's the first primary in this year's mid-term elections. what's up, former senator obama's election seat. here's the end of round 1. >> it's a historical senate seat. remember, it wasn't just held by president obama, it was also allegedly put up for bid by then governor robert blagojevich. they're worried the republicans are poised to pick up that seat in the fall. in the race to fill the senate seat once held by president obama, corruption is a recurrent theme. >> tired of being embarrassed by elected officials? >> his family's bank gave $1 million to blagojevich crony and convicted felon. >> rob blagojevich goes on trial this summer. that's bad news for the democrats. but good news for this man, five-term republican house
member mark kirk, who is expected to win his primary. he is running against high taxes and washington spending, but especially against a democratic party that has majority control here in illinois as in washington. >> i think that no one political party is the source of all wisdom and no one republican party should have all the power. our government works best when there is a check in balance. >> and you think the democrats have too much power right now and it's out of balance? >> it is out of balance because we have a one-party state in chicago, in illinois and in washington. that's too much all on one side. >> on the other side, leading democrats aren't thrilled with the choices. state treasurer alexi julius, a young heir whose bank was cited by federal populous. and with late momentum, a squ k squeaky clean, anti-corruption
candidate, david hoffman, whose campaign may have surged too late. when it comes to the general election, many political watchers here believe it will be the republicans' seat to lose. >> the a bottbomination of pres obama are disillusioned right now, so a lot of people say i'm going to go republican just as a protest. >> in an interview with cnn, that leading republican, congressman mark kirk, five times referred to himself as independent. not republican, independent. so while not being a democrat might be helpful in illinois, it's clear neither party has a particularly winning brand right now. wolf? >> jessica yellin in chicago for us. thanks, jessica. remember, the polls close about 15 minutes or so, right at the top of the hour. cnn will follow the results throughout the night. the u.s. supreme court's
decision reducing limits of capital spending by corporations, big corporations, union, special interest groups did not sit well with a lot of congressional leaders. so they're taking action right now to try to reverse at least part of the ruling. let's bring in our senior legal analyst jeffrey tubor. he's with us in the situation room. can that happen, can they reverse? >> the democrats have been looking for some issue to get their mojo out. some democrats, the leader of the rules committee, thinks this is one opportunity. it's kind of populism first amendment style. basically what schumer is trying to do is push a law which says if corporations, which now have the right to participate in plig c -- political campaigns, they have to identify themselves. they can't use front groups. and he wants to bar foreign
companies from getting involved in congressional or political races at all. that's the claim, that's what they want to do. whether they can pass it and whether it's constitutional, that's another question. >> we're talking about u.s. subsidiaries of foreign corporations. is that the distinction that's being made? >> that's what the hearing was about today, how you would define a foreign company. a lot of companies have very mixed ownership. if it's only 5% foreign owned, is that enough? what about a company like budweiser which is very american in a subsidiary but actually is now owned by a belgian company. how you define a foreign company is actually a lot harder than it seems and that's what they were struggling with today. >> listening to floyd abrams, the well-known first amendment attorney, he said this the other day. lir listen to this. >> the reality is we got 25 states out there that already allow unlimited, absolutely unlimited, spending by
corporations and we have not seen examples that, as a matter of reality, indicates that anything bad has happened. all we've had is some more speech about politics, and for people who care about the first amendment, i would have thought they would say, hey, that's a good thing, that's what the first amendment is all about. >> what about that, the basic point being that the liberals, he suggests they should support this because this increases the first amendment free speech allowing people to spend their money as they wish to try to get candidates elected. is this just politics are republicans by and large supporting the supreme court decision, democrats by and large opposing it because they think all this money is going to hurt them? >> you know, bob bennett, who is the republican from utah, the ranking republican on the rules committee, he made an interesting version of that argument today. he's really sticking it to the democrats because he started talking about keith observermane
m msnbc host who is a big liberal. he said he was a racist, didn't care about women, and bennett said he could do that because they have first amendment rights, and that's a good thing, that people are free to express their opinions on corporate-owned media, and he was sort of making the same point, saying, look, let's not get carried away limiting the rights of first amendment of corporations. now, whether freedom of speech is the same thing as buying advertisements, that's an issue the courts are struggling with, butd that point about the first amendment and freedom of speech is a real one, too. >> let's see what happens on this legislative issue. jeff, thanks very much. >> okay, wolf. legalities t's go to our see
house correspondent, ed henry. he's getting breaking news information. >> it's really extraordinary because it was thrown together very quickly, and seen kbrnior officials are pushing back very hard on these charges. we heard in recent days maybe hearing those miranda rights of the christmas bomber maybe stopped his cooperation. let me run through it quickly, we go back and forth on it. first of all, a senior official saying tonight that since christmas day, the fbi has been working daily to get information from the suspect, abdulmutallab, but that more importantly, the fbi in recent weeks, secretly gained the cooperation of some of their family members. they flew all the way to nigeria on january 1st without this being revealed by the government and told tonight in order to reach out to various relatives. they worked on this in the state department, the cia, for a
couple weeks. the point is that on january 17th, we're learning now for the first time from the senior officials two relatives of abdulmutallab flew to the united states with state department fbi officials in order to then talk to the suspect and gain his trust and say basically, according to the senior officials, that you can trust the u.s. government, and that since then, he has been providing a lot of intelligence. you know that the observer was reporting earlier they were getting very good intelligence from abdulmutallab to try to reveal other attacks. the new information said that came because officials secretly flying to nigeria in january and working with his relatives to get his cooperation, wolf. >> do we know who the family members were? >> i asked specifically is one of the relatives the father of abdulmutallab that first raised these concerns about a potential for an attack.
that was unheeded, apparently. i was told they're not going to comment specifically on which relatives. they're not going to comment on whether these relatives are still in the united states. but what's very interesting is they're claiming they've gotten intelligence that could help disrupt future terror attacks from al-qaeda. this is all a back and forth, all these charges that maybe the white house didn't do a good job with these interrogations. they're insisting they're letting professionals at the fbi handle it and they're getting a lot of new information, wolf. >> very useful information, i assume. let's hope. thanks very much, ed henry, for that breaking news we're following. we'll take a quick break. much more coming up after this, including the cafferty file. i remember being at the hospital, thinking about my wife. i should have done more to take care of myself. now i'm exercising, watching my diet, and i trust my heart to lipitor. (announcer) unlike some other cholesterol lowering medications, lipitor is fda approved
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let's get to the cafferty file right now. jack? >> the question this hour, wolf, is how is the definition of middle class american changed? chad writes from california, middle class has become the peasant class. we have been taken over by a few wealthy people who control our politicians and government. we have become an -- ralph in chicago says -- how many members of congress are millionaires? a lot, but they feel our pain? right. bernie in massachusetts -- paul writes -- maria says -- matt in
massachusetts writes -- than in most other parts of the country which leads to much less discretionary income. $100,000 in new york city is not much. $100,000 in indianapolis is a lot. and john writes -- if you want to read more on this, you'll find it on my blog at cnn.com/caffertyfile. it's been a joy having you here in the big city for two days. >> i'll be back. >> when? >> i don't know. i promise. >> i want warning. >> thank you, jack. the census moves to the u.s. mexican border and one of the poorest communities in the country. the trouble is, many don't want
>> this is the area of most concern. there's a big hole in the ceiling and it's been leaking water since we've been here. follow me inside here, and you can see this is what passes as a bathroom in colonias, and the owners aren't even sure the septic tank works. >> the roads aren't paved, there is no air-conditioning or heat, and finding water is a big quest. >> this is life in colonias. we jumped into the back of this pickup truck and the man driving the truck is going to take us to where he's filling up this tank and then he's going to fill up barrels of water for people. >> most of the people living here make less than $10,000 a
year, looking for work whenever they can. so you would think it would be important to be involved in the 2010 census count. but it's the last thing they want. >> i think people are scared. >> why do you think they're scared? >> i don't know. >> they don't trust them? >> i don't think they do. >> what can we do to do a better job to make sure we count everybody? >> congressman henry quale and the census bureau are trying to build trust. they assure them it's not about finding immigrants. >> the negativity of the census is quite large. we return as a country $400 billion a year to local areas, neighborhoods like this, cities and states dependent on census counts. if you get counted, you get your fair share of that