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Somali Pirates Continue to Hold American Captain; President Obama Optimistic on Economy

Aired April 10, 2009 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, surprise, they're on candid camera. Thieves break into a home, but the owner stopped them from her computer at work -- all of this, plus the best political team on television.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The situation is getting more dramatic and more worrisome off Somalia right now. The American captain being held hostage made a break for freedom. Richard Phillips got away from four pirates. He jumped out of the lifeboat where he's being held and apparently tried to swim to the U.S. Navy warship nearby, that according to a U.S. official.

But a pirate jumped in after the captain, taking him hostage once again. Officials believe he's unharmed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is sending in military reinforcement, but the pirates appear to be calling in backups as well.

Let's go straight to CNN's Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Navy is still negotiating with the pirates, trying to end this peacefully. But sources are telling us that new elements may be on the way that could complicate this entire crisis.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): More pirate ships are on the move, trying to find their comrades who are locked in a standoff with the U.S. Navy. A defense official says the military has heard communication between pirates that they are searching for the lifeboat. Who's out there? The official says larger mother ships that the pirates use to launch small skiffs out to sea and foreign ships that pirates already hijacked and now control.

The USS Halyburton has also arrived in the area, a guided-missile frigate equipped with two helicopters. The USS Boxer and its onboard hospital remains a day away. And the USS Bainbridge sits just a few hundred yards away from a lifeboat like this one, where four pirates and Captain Richard Phillips have been stranded for more than two days.

CAPT. JAMES STAPLES, FRIEND OF CAPT. PHILLIPS: It's a covered boat, so during the day, I'm sure it's getting very, very hot in there. There's not a lot of ventilation. There is no sanitation inside that boat.

LAWRENCE: Overnight, Phillips jumped into the water to escape and tried to swim towards the Bainbridge. A defense official says the pirates fired several shots, either up in the air or towards water. Then at least one pirate jumped in after Phillips and brought him back on board.


LAWRENCE: And we're told all of that happened within a matter of seconds, not enough time for the U.S. Navy to intervene in the dark from a few hundred yards away. The USS Bainbridge has incredible firepower, but how to use that when the armed pirates are just a few feet away from their hostage -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, good question.

Chris Lawrence, thank you.

How do you fight against rogue incidents like these?

We asked our Brian Todd to take a closer look.

What are you finding, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, some very strong ideas being circulated right now on the piracy problem, because we have now got a standoff between a gang of maritime thugs and the world's most powerful Navy, and it's not clear who's got the upper hand.


TODD (voice-over): Somali pirates know they can wreak havoc on the high seas, extort major shipping lines, then speed back to a safe haven in Somalia. There's no functioning government there to go after them.

How do you stop this?

MAJ. GEN. TOM WILKERSON, U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE: Deny sanctuary. You must find them and take the fight to where they live.

TODD: Major General Tom Wilkerson, head of the independent U.S. Naval Institute, says the American Navy and its allies have not been able to accomplish their mission of safeguarding the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Given that it's an area five times the size of Texas, he says, that's not the Navy's fault. Wilkerson says military raids on pirate hideouts inside Somalia where they plan and launch hijackings would be more effective.

WILKERSON: It's where they get to go where no one comes after them. And as long as that exists, they have plenty of incentive to stay in the game of being a pirate.

TODD: But that conjures up the specter of Black Hawk Down, October, 1993, a fateful raid in Mogadishu aimed at capturing militants. American helicopters blasted from the sky. A chaotic firefight. Eighteen U.S. Army Rangers and hundreds of Somalis dead.

General Wilkerson believes raids on pirates could be different.

WILKERSON: In Mogadishu and in Black Hawk Down, it was my understanding that we were confronting a force that was fairly cohesive, whereas the pirates might be in separate enclaves of different "warlords or tribal leaders," not necessarily in communication with one another.

TODD: What would the risks be now?

STEPHEN MORRISON, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: One is civilian casualties. A second is the image that will be created by the United States, the lone superpower, striking a Muslim country. And the third is detainees and the uncertainty about how they'll be handled.


TODD: And there's the psychological barrier. Stephen Morrison says that raid in Mogadishu still plays on the minds of American leaders. They all think about it when confronting any potential military action involving Somalia. Wolf, 15-and-a-half years later, that raid in Mogadishu still weighs very heavily here in Washington.

BLITZER: It was very bloody and very messy. And a lot of folks are worried that some sort of military operation this time could turn out bloody and messy.

TODD: That's right. Everyone we talked to believes these would not be surgical strikes by any means. There will be casualties. There will be likely civilian casualties.

But one thing going for the U.S. right now, since 9/11, since Mogadishu, there are now the presence of U.S. special forces in that region. There's at least a fingerprint to start with if they want to launch these raids.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much for that -- Brian Todd reporting.

There's another situation involving pirates. This one did not end all well. It involves the yacht that is seen here. Today, the French military freed four hostages on that yacht, including a child. Pirates had been holding them for almost a week near Somalia. But one hostage and two pirates died in the operation.

The office of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, says France's military acted against the pirates because they refused offers and increased their threats.

Let's go back to Jack Cafferty. He has "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: This is stunning to me. When it comes to their health, some American kids have already lost before they have even gotten in the game.

A new study shows almost one in five 4-year-olds -- 4-year-olds -- is obese. It's a startling number that suggests children are doomed before they're even faced with soda and candy and doughnuts and french fries. They don't have a chance.

Certain ethnics groups are at higher risk than others -- 13 percent of Asian preschoolers are obese. That compares to 16 percent of whites, almost 21 percent of blacks, 22 percent of Hispanics and a whopping 31 percent of American Indians.

It's a government study that focused on more than 8,500 preschoolers born in 2001. Researchers suggest some factors that can increase obesity risks are more common among minorities, things like poverty, less educated parents, less emphasis on exercise, and diets that are high in fat and calories.

The medical prognosis is awful. Obese children are more likely to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, all those things. In fact, diseases commonly seen in 40- or 50-year-olds are now showing up in kids as young as 6, things like type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, muscular, skeletal problems.

What can parents do? Doctors recommend kids eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, reduce TV time down to two hours or less, exercise at least one hour, and consume no soda or sugary drinks.

Now, that's fine, but with the number of obese adults in this country, it's not exactly like we're long on good role models, now, is it?

Here's the question: What does the future hold for this nation's children, if almost 20 percent of 4-year-olds are obese?

Go to Post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jack, stand by, because we're getting new information just coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM right now about Arizona State University and its decision to invite the president of the United States to deliver the commencement address, but not necessarily give him an honorary degree. That could be changing. We're getting new information right now, Jack.


BLITZER: It didn't take very long.

CAFFERTY: Fancy that.

BLITZER: Stand by. We will update our viewers on what's going on at Arizona State University.

Imagine turning on your computer and seeing this.


911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: Nine-one-one.


Hi. My name is Jeanne Thomas. I'm watching my home on live monitor. And there's a man in my house, and he is robbing it.


BLITZER: The police arrived. So, what happened next? And we have the tape and the details.

Also, President Obama offering his most optimistic assessment of the economy yet. What's behind the change in tone?

And a Republican group is seizing on this picture, which it says shows President Obama bowing to the Saudi king. Will it help the group raise money?


BLITZER: All right.

Arizona State University may -- repeat, may -- be reconsidering its decision not to give the president of the United States an honorary degree.

The Politico Web site, Mike Allen reporting now that the president of Arizona State University, Michael Crow, has told Politico that the school is reconsidering its plans even as we speak. "There was no intended slight," Crow said in a telephone interview with Mike Allen. "We had not yet talked about what honors we might give him as our commencement speaker, and we still have a month to work all that out. We don't want anyone to think we do not recognize what we -- what he," referring to the president, "has achieved and what he means in America."

All right, our Kate Bolduan is working this story. We're hoping to get a conversation ourselves going with the president of Arizona State University, Michael Crow. And we will see what happens on that front. Stand by. There's more information coming in on this story.

In the meantime, is the end near? That's what some people are asking about the recession, after what President Obama said today.

Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry.

A little bit of optimism from the president today.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, certainly more upbeat, the president suggesting maybe the bottom is coming sooner than expected.


HENRY (voice-over): After weeks of facing allegations he was talking the economy down, President Obama is now offering his most optimistic assessment yet.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What you're starting to see is glimmers of hope across the economy. Now, we have always been very cautious about prognosticating, and that's not going to change just because it's Easter.

The economy is still under severe stress. And obviously during these holidays, we have to keep in mind that whatever we do ultimately has to translate into economic growth and jobs and rising income for the American people.

HENRY: A striking change in tone from even just a week ago in London, at the G-20 summit, when the president was still emphasizing the negative.

OBAMA: The global economy is contracting, trade is shrinking, unemployment is rising. The international finance system is nearly frozen.

HENRY: Since then, the stock market has shown modest gains. And then Friday, The Wall Street Journal's latest forecasting survey came out, revealing economists now expect the recession to end in September.

OBAMA: We're starting to see progress. And if we stick with it, if we don't flinch in the face of some difficulties, then I feel absolutely convinced that we are going to get this economy back on track.

HENRY: The president cited a boost from infrastructure products in his stimulus plan and touted a 20 percent increase last month alone in the Small Business Administration's largest loan program.

OBAMA: What that means is that small businesses are starting to get money that allows them to keep their doors open, make payroll. And that is going to contribute to overall economic growth, as well as help make sure the people are able to keep their jobs.


HENRY: But on the -- on that issue of jobs, economists are cautioning that, even if the recession ends this fall, unemployment might not start coming down until late 2010, the timing of that, very interesting, of course, because that would be around the time of the midterm elections, Wolf, a lot of pressure on the president and his party at that time to show some economic progress.

BLITZER: Yes, right track, wrong track. They want to be able to show they're moving at least in the right track even though they have gone through a tough time.

HENRY: Absolutely. BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Ed Henry.

This important programming note to our viewers. Tomorrow, here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- that's Saturday -- you're going to see my exclusive interview with the vice president, Joe Biden, in its entirety. Gloria Borger and I interviewed the vice president of the United States.

We're also going to have for you reaction from former Vice President Dick Cheney's national security adviser at the time John Hannah, tomorrow, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, the Saturday SITUATION ROOM.

Republicans are slamming President Obama for what they say was a bow to the king of Saudi Arabia. Now a group charged with trying to elect GOP Senate candidates using the incident to try to raise some money.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is here. She's looking at this story.

They're trying to make a big deal of this video of what the president did when he met with the Saudi king.


But it's sort of a larger issue for Republicans. And, as you said, look, this is a -- this is a money-raiser. This is a way to get e-mail addresses, and so in that sense, at the surface, that's what this is about.

It's about tapping into a larger conservative concern, and we heard it with Nicolle earlier today...

BLITZER: Nicolle Wallace.

CROWLEY: Nicolle Wallace, a former White House communications person with Bush, who said, well, he was over there apologizing for America; there was too much of that. You know, this is about, you go over there, we have done a lot of good things.

So, the feeling that that is not what President Obama did is a very potent one right now in the Republican Party and among Republicans in general. And they think they can raise some money off it.

BLITZER: It's -- President Obama very, very popular right now across the country, but there is a conservative base out there within the Republican Party that is simply getting more and more irritated with this president.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. It's -- it's -- and we're seeing Republicans fall off in the popularity polls.

But, look, this is not -- I mean, is there the risk that Republicans will be looked at as too mean and attacking a popular president? In the end, this has a very specific audience. And that is conservative Republicans.

BLITZER: And Democrats keep reminding everyone that, even if the president may have bowed a bit to the Saudi king, the former president, George Bush, actually killed Crown Prince -- kissed -- excuse me -- kissed Crown Prince Abdullah.


CROWLEY: I missed something.


BLITZER: Yes. There they are. They are walking and they're holding hands. But there was a kiss when they first met as well. There it is. There's the kiss, both cheeks.

And, so, you know, that's what happens, the former president and the current president, encounters with the Saudi monarchy.

Thanks very much.

He's the leader of the free world, and apparently one school thinks President Obama isn't worthy of an honorary degree, at least not yet. But are they getting ready to change their minds? We're hearing about some new developments. We will share that with you.

And an Alabama congressman is keeping a list, but will he name names? He says he knows which U.S. lawmakers are socialists.

And the top U.S. commander in the -- in Iraq says the U.S. military may have to ignore a withdrawal timeline. Why? What's going on?

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: A huge controversy has erupted over a decision by Arizona State University not to award the president of the United States an honorary degree when he delivers the commencement address at that school next month. There are new developments coming in even as we speak.

CNN's Kate Bolduan is monitoring what we're learning. I know you have got your BlackBerry, your phone.


BLITZER: We're waiting to hear from Arizona State University.

BOLDUAN: We are waiting to hear from Arizona State.

I'm told they're on a conference call right now. I'm waiting for a call back to hear what the latest is, Wolf. But, right now, ASU describes an honorary degree as a way to acknowledge people who have made contributions to society. And, right now, it seems President Obama doesn't make that cut.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Sandra Day O'Connor received one after serving on the Supreme Court for just three years of her nearly quarter-century on the bench. So did Barry Goldwater in 1961, before running for president. And even a former owner of the Phoenix Suns and the Chinese vice minister of education received honorary degrees from Arizona State University, but not so for President Obama.

ASU has reportedly decided against awarding the degree to the president when he speaks to its graduating class of more than 8,000 next month -- a spokeswoman telling the Associated Press -- quote -- "It's our practice to recognize an individual for his body of work, somebody who's been in their position for a long time."

She goes on to say: "His body of work is yet to come. That's why we're not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency."


BOLDUAN: It's tradition for presidents to choose a select few graduation ceremonies to speak at. And, in turn, colleges and universities often honor them with honorary degrees, leaving many, including presidential historian Bob Dallek, scratching their heads.

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Does it add more to the stature of Arizona State University or to Barack Obama's stature? I would think it adds more to the stature of Arizona State University having given this African-American president, the first in our history, a -- an honorary degree.


BLITZER: And, Kate, I want you to turn around. And I want our viewers to take a look at some of those who have received honorary degrees from Arizona State University.

Kim Campbell -- Kim Campbell was the first woman to become the foreign minister of Canada. Lawrence Douglas Wilder, he was the first African-American to be elected governor, the former governor of Virginia.

Jane Dee Hull, the first woman to be elected governor of Arizona.

But you know what? I have looked through this entire list of all of their recent honorary degree recipients, and so many of them are simply very wealthy individuals who have given the university a lot of money.

BOLDUAN: I mean, and these very long list of accomplishments in their careers, and many of the people do, but many of them also are firsts.

And while the -- we have in the statement, you know, they look at the body of work that people have, these firsts are also noteworthy. And obviously a noteworthy first is being the first African-American president.

BLITZER: Yes, I misspoke about Kim Campbell. She was the prime minister...

BOLDUAN: Prime minister.

BLITZER: ... not the foreign minister of Canada. But she was worthy. So far, the president of the United States not yet worthy, but we will see if that changes.

BOLDUAN: Waiting for the call, Wolf.

BLITZER: Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University, telling the Politico Web site that, "We don't want anyone to think we don't recognize what he's achieved and what he means in America." And he also says they still have about a month to work all of this out.

BOLDUAN: And we will be watching.

BLITZER: I suspect they are going to be changing their mind pretty soon.

All right, thanks very much.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

BLITZER: She turned on her computer at work and saw her home being burglarized.



(voice-over): Republican Congressman Spencer Bachus says socialists are walking the halls of the Capitol.

"Some of these guys I work with, the men and women in Congress, are socialists," he told officials at an event in his home district. Bachus also told a "Birmingham News" reporter there are 17 openly socialist members of the House, though he did not name names or define socialism.

But Senator Bernie Sanders believes he is the only member of Congress openly embracing socialism. He points to democratic socialist countries in Scandinavia, where citizens don't pay for health care or higher education. Sanders spent several years in the House with Bachus, and says his comments are a form of red-baiting.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: What you want to do is not just frighten people. Let's debate the issues and not try to frighten people by pretending that socialism is communism and authoritarianism.


KEILAR: Nonpartisan political observer Stu Rothenberg thinks Bachus; characterization is just rhetoric.

STUART ROTHENBERG, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": I think he was tossing around this word as a way of kind of demonizing and defining some of his -- his colleagues. And this is the kind of thing that Republicans ought to avoid, because it becomes a big story, when they should be talking about health care and the war in Afghanistan and some specifics.

(on camera): We wanted clarification on Spencer Bachus' comments, so we called his offices here in Washington and also in Alabama, but, so far, Wolf, we have not heard back.


BLITZER: All right, Brianna Keilar reporting on that controversy. We will see what happens on that front.

Coming up, she turned on her computer at work and saw her home being burglarized.


THOMAS: My God. This is crazy. They have got things in their hands.


BLITZER: What she saw next is even more amazing. We have the 911 tape.

Also, Karl Rove with some very unflattering words about the vice president, Joe Biden -- what he said and what it says about the GOP right now.

And details of the escape attempt by the U.S. ship captain being held by pirates off Somalia, while the U.S. Navy works for his release.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: A fire destroys dozens of home in Oklahoma. And investigators say the blaze was intentionally set.

Some of that $787 billion in stimulus dollars will go to improve the monitoring of volcanoes.

Pope Benedict XVI presides over Good Friday mass, as Christians around the world prepare to celebrate their holiest day of the year -- all of this, plus the best political team on television. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

That American hostage captain who tried to escape the pirates, but was recaptured, let's get back to this story.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is monitoring developments right now. She's in Bahrain, the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which is in charge of this operation.

The Navy was unable to save him, even after he jumped off that lifeboat and tried to swim toward that warship -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. The USS Bainbridge was quite close -- unable to save him, however, because the pirates grabbed him back before he could swim any distance away from the lifeboat. The Bainbridge did not have a helicopter overhead. It was really all over before it even began -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Is there a military option -- Barbara?

STARR: Well, at this point, what the military is simply doing is putting more warships into the region, trying to make a show of force against the pirates. There are a number of other pirate mother ships said to be quite close by. Warships are now shadowing all of them, trying to make sure they do not get near this lifeboat hostage situation; trying to make the pirates understand their friends are not coming for them. Their friends are not going to be able to get them out of this fix and that their only solution is really to surrender to the U.S. Navy.

But right now, Wolf, it's pirates with some AK-47s against the U.S. Navy. The standoff continues -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And the goal is to get that American out alive and well.

All right. Barbara, thank you.

Barbara Starr is in Bahrain watching this story.

President Obama suddenly sounding a little bit more sunny as far as the economy is concerned.

Listen to the president today.


BLITZER: All right. He said there are glimmers -- glimmers of hope as far as the economy is concerned, although he quickly said that there was still a lot of work to do.

In fact, we have that clip right now.


OBAMA: What you're starting to see is glimmers of hope across the economy. Now, you know, we have always been very cautious about prognosticating. And that's not going to change just because it's Easter.


BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about what's going on with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our CNN contributor, Steve Hayes, of "The Weekly Standard;" and CNN political analyst, Roland Martin.

"Glimmers of hope" -- could that sort of, you know, muted optimism come back to haunt the president, Gloria, if, in fact the economy deteriorates?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Wolf, I think he was very, very careful, as you just saw in that clip, to caveat anything he was saying. He also said the economy is under severe stress. His economic adviser, Larry Summers, today came out and said while things are looking good, we're seeing more refinancing. Expect more substantial downdraft, as he called it.

And, you know, I remember when we were criticizing the president a couple months ago for being too gloomy all the time. So now he says well, there's some glimmer of hope. I think we should let it stand at that.

BLITZER: A balanced statement, Steve?

STEPHEN HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, no problem with that. I mean I think he's right. There are some glimmers of hope. He's right that the rest of the economy is still under severe stress. I think the risk is political. You know, this could be taken out of context and people could point back and say, well, he said there were glimmers of hope. But glimmers of hope is really not a strong comment.

BLITZER: It's -- he could have -- he could have said even something more optimistic -- Roland.

ROLAND S. MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. He could have said it's all wonderful and great. Look, (INAUDIBLE)...


BORGER: Mission accomplished.

MARTIN: Right. Yes. I mean, you can't sit here and say, on one hand, I wish the president could be more positive. I mean the bottom line is -- you know, the reporting that we've seen here on CNN, talking to Ali Velshi and others, in terms of how some -- that you are seeing certain numbers show progression in terms of retail numbers, consumer spending, different areas -- housing, housing buys. And so you're going to have the ebb and flow.

And so we're going to see this for several months. And so a glimmer is much better than doom and gloom. BORGER: And, you know, Wolf, the president was also careful to point out, as the vice president did to us this week, that it's not going to be felt on Main Street until people see their jobs come back.

MARTIN: Right.

BORGER: And as the vice president told us...

MARTIN: Right.

BORGER: ...that may not happen for a year or so.



BLITZER: He said specifically that it's going to be at least all of this year...

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: ...continued net job losses every single month. So that's a -- a lagging indicator, as they say.


BLITZER: Gloria, when we sat down with the vice president, he had some choice words responding to what the former vice president, Dick Cheney, said about the Obama administration.

And now, there's a lot of former aides to George Bush who are getting into this.

Karl Rove saying this. He says: "I hate to say this, but he" -- referring to Joe Biden: "He's a serial exaggerator.

If I was being unkind, I would say liar. But it is a habit he ought to drop."

All right. Tell our viewers, Gloria, what's going on here in this battle between Joe Biden and several former Bush administration officials.


BORGER: Well, Wolf, you know, we -- we asked about the vice president's comments about the Obama administration -- that we're less safe under the Obama administration. And this -- this sort of started a war of words, because he said no, no, no, we're more safe.

And in doing so, he told us a story about meeting with the president and the president saying to him -- the former president saying to him, I'm a leader. And Joe Biden saying back to George Bush, well, look behind you, nobody's following.

BLITZER: And he said that meeting was in the Oval Office. BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: And a lot of Bush officials, Steve, as you know, are saying they don't remember Joe Biden ever meeting with President Bush in the Oval Office.

HAYES: Well, I would think Biden's office could put this to rest by just talking -- giving examples or times of -- of Biden's meeting with Bush in the Oval Office.

But it's interesting for me to note -- and this is something that we've talked about before -- the difference in reaction between the Bush officials and Cheney officials.

I mean you saw repeated attacks or criticisms of Dick Cheney that went unresponded to by the Bush loyalists in the Bush White House. And now you have, you know, Joe Biden telling a story or maybe exaggerating a story and the Bush loyalists going crazy, you know, talking about exactly how much of a liar or exaggerator Joe Biden is.

It seems to me that the more appropriate time to respond would be when they're criticizing your policies and saying that you've made the world less safe.

MARTIN: Hey, Wolf...

BLITZER: Roland...

MARTIN: Wolf, I've got three words for Karl Rove when it comes to exager -- to exaggeration -- weapons, mass, destruction. You want to talk about Joe Biden, trust me. You've got the biggest exaggeration -- the biggest lie out there hanging around your neck. So this is small compared to exactly what he was doing in the White House when it came to the war in Iraq.

So deal with that, Karl.

BORGER: You know, it's also -- it's also easier to attack the vice president when the president is at 68 percent in the polls. So...

BLITZER: Here's another exchange...

BORGER: Joe Biden is an easy target.

BLITZER: Steve -- listen closely, Steve. Here's another exchange that Gloria and I had with Joe Biden.

Listen to this.


BLITZER: How worried are you that the time line that you've put forward for a withdrawal of U.S. combat forces is not going to be able to be materialized? JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not worried about that at all. We will drawdown along the timeline we suggested.


BLITZER: Now, in contrast to that, Steve, General Odierno, who's the overall U.S. military commander in Iraq, he's now saying, well, you know, given the recent up tick in violence, maybe that time line is not going to be able to be materialized.

HAYES: Yes. I actually don't see that there's -- that there's much of a split here when what Odierno said and what the White House is saying.

President Obama, in announcing his drawdown, said that it would be based on conditions on the ground. So if the general -- if General Odierno, as you say, the lead general in Iraq, is saying the conditions on the ground are such that we can't stick to this time line, I think the president's got to -- got to pay in attention to that.


BLITZER: All right...

BORGER: I think he's saying that just in a couple of cities, by June, we may not be able to withdraw all combat troops. But he did say that the overall time line by 2010, he thinks he's going to be able to meet.

BLITZER: That was General Odierno referring to Mosul up in the north, specifically...

BORGER: Right. And Baquba.

BLITZER: Roland is going to be back in a little bit more than an hour from now on "NO BIAS, NO BULL".

We'll see you then -- Roland.

MARTIN: Pirates -- we're talking about pirates, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Roland.

Stand by. We'll watch.

It's the ultimate pizza takeout order. The delivery address -- 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue right here in Washington.

So who's the first family calling for a pie?

Plus, the Federal Reserve goes Hollywood in an effort to warn about a growing scam.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Here's some information that could be very useful to you. The federal government taking an unusual approach to spreading the word about possible mortgage scams.

CNN's Kara Finnstrom is joining us now with important details -- Kara?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Federal Reserve is worried about a new wave of foreclosure scams targeting struggling homeowners and they're sending out a warning in an unlikely place.



FINNSTROM (voice-over): Eye-popping...


FINNSTROM: ...jaw-dropping.


FINNSTROM: ...trailers for this summer's blockbusters promise escape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did we go back in time and space?

FINNSTROM: But this weekend, some moviegoers will also get a shot of reality.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you facing foreclosure?


FINNSTROM: Ouch. For the first time ever, the Federal Reserve has created movie trailers warning Americans about mortgage scams.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shouldn't hurt to get help.


FINNSTROM: They're showing in seven states hit hard by foreclosures and now facing a new scam -- companies charging big bucks for false promises to help people keep their homes.


LISA ROBERT, FORECLOSURE SCAM VICTIM: I made one decision to spend this money to try and help us out. That turned out to be such a bad decision.


FINNSTROM: Lisa Roberts has been laid off. She and her husband have two kids and their mortgage payment is about to go up. They paid a company nearly $5,000 to get their loan modified. But four months later, she says she's gotten nothing for her money.

ROBERT: I'm so angry because I feel like I'm an educated person. I think, actually, the PSAs should be broadened in terms of not just being placed in movie theaters.

BILL MITCHELL, BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU: For the most part, the public is pretty ignorant of the way this stuff works.

FINNSTROM: Bill Mitchell with the Better Business Bureau says several hundred loan modification companies have popped up just in the Los Angeles area during the past eight months and many practice unethically.

(on camera): People who need a loan modification, should they be going to companies like this?

MITCHELL: Absolutely not.


FINNSTROM: So what should struggling homeowners do?

Well, the point of the Fed's ads is to inform the public they should work directly with their lender or a non-profit HUD approved counselor. And in most cases, that's going to be completely free -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's go right back to Don Lemon.

He's monitoring an important story that's just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM and it involves Chicago -- your old stomping ground out there -- and a potential of a really serious problem.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It is a really curious problem and it could affect hundreds of people if it turns out that this person was infectious at the time.

Here's what's coming out of Chicago. Public health officials there are investigating whether, Wolf, hundreds of infant newborns and children were potentially exposed to tuberculosis from a health care worker.

Now that worker, who was diagnosed with active tuberculosis, was discharged from Northwestern Memorial Hospital earlier this week. The hospital says it has determined that the situation affected a limited number of patients and staff and that the risk of their exposure to tuberculosis was extremely low.

But again, they want to know if it possibly infected hundreds of infants.

They just wrapped up a press conference there at Northwestern Memorial Hospital moments ago.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...have any outbreaks of tuberculosis in Chicago currently. But we always investigate sources and contacts and we always look for spread of disease. But we have not identified any here.

DR. TERRY MASON, CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Hospital officials and their infection control staffs are cooperating fully and are working to ensure that all those who had significant contact with the affected individual over the last five months -- family, friends, co-workers and patients -- are made aware of the situation and are advised to take the appropriate preventive action.


LEMON: And, Wolf, this story has the potential of escalating, because we are being told in published reports here that it was a resident at Northwestern's training program who rotated through three hospitals in the Chicago area. Possibly hundreds of infants and others who may be affected now infected with tuberculosis -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. What a nightmare.

All right. I hope they get -- everybody's fine.

Thanks very much, Don, for that.

A home burglary victim watches from work as the crime unfolds on her Web came.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't even know I'm sitting here watching him. OK. Hold on just a second. Oh, God. God. I can't believe this. This is unbelievable.


BLITZER: But the story keeps on going and going, as police arrive on the scene. We'll tell you what happened.

And it's not your typical takeout order for one pizza joint -- they're delivering to the White House tonight.


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up at 7:00 Eastern here on CNN, President Obama returning to the language of hope. The president acknowledging -- sort of -- what I've been saying here for weeks, that our economy is beginning to show signs of recovery.

Also, violent weather sweeping across the South and the Midwest, bringing with it deadly tornadoes, hailstorms, fires. At least eight people killed. More severe weather is on the way tonight. We'll have that report.

And pirates holding a U.S. ship's captain hostage off the coast of East Africa, threatening to kill him after he tried and failed to escape.

And former President Vicente Fox of Mexico is back -- this time sharply criticizing me and even the United States itself. This is the same Vicente Fox, by the way, who refused to honor his own challenge to debate me. We'll set the record straight for the good former president of Mexico.

Please join us for all of that and more, at the top of the hour.

THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer continues in one moment.


BLITZER: It could be seen as a sign of the times -- a Florida woman was able to watch by remote Web cam as burglars ransacked her home. We've just received access to the video and the 911 tape. Wait until you see how this one ends.



THOMAS: Yes, hi.

My name is Jeanne Thomas.

I'm watching my home on live monitor. And there's a man in my house and he's robbing it.

911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: Where are you calling from?

THOMAS: I'm calling from my office and I have a live video monitor. And he's in my home and he's in my bedroom and we've been robbed.

911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: How long has he been in there, ma'am?

THOMAS: I don't know. I just called -- I called 911 as soon as I saw it.

Oh, God, I can't believe this.

There goes my cat. She's running. I've got three dogs in there.


THOMAS: And the cat is, like, freaking out.

He's walking next to my stereo. He's looking at my son's video games. He's plummaging through the house. Are they there?

911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: They're on the way, ma'am. I just need as much information as possible.


He's still there...

911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: He's now where?

THOMAS: He's in my living room in the main part of the house. He's looking around. He has a white shirt. He's picked up something in his hand.

Oh, he's picked up a Wii video game.

Oh, God, please hurry. Please hurry.

I can't believe this. This is unbelievable.

He doesn't even know I'm sitting here watching him.

911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: OK. Hold on just a second.

THOMAS: Oh, God. God. I can't believe this. This is unbelievable.

OK. Oh, he's running out the back door.


911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: Ma'am, do you have any weapons...

THOMAS: He's going out the back door.


He's running out the back door.

THOMAS: He's going out -- two people in the house. Oh, here comes another one -- and a big one. Another one in a big jacket. He's in the back there in the back.

911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: She said another subject...


THOMAS: OK. Yes, now they're running into the back.


THOMAS: OK. They're looking out the back window. They're looking... (CROSSTALK)

911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: Two subjects now. THOMAS: OK. Here's this one. He's running to the front. The other one is trying to figure out which way to go.

The cat is freaked out. The dogs are hiding.

My God. This is crazy. They've got things in their hands.

911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: Ma'am, it's OK. Officers are surrounding your house. They're not going to get away with anything.

THOMAS: Oh, thank God they got there.


BLITZER: According to Boynton Beach police down in Florida, four men were actually involved in the burglary. This is what they say -- all four reportedly confessed. They were charged with burglary and attempted grand theft and taken to the Palm Beach County jail.

Those are the four suspects right there.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: What does the future hold for this nation's children if almost 20 percent of 4-year-olds are obese?

That's right, according to a government study.

Portia writes from L.A.: "It's not looking good. I work for a large non-profit organization dedicated to disease prevention. Let me tell you, with number of overweight children downright frightening. If parents, the government, the educational system and the health care system don't start working collaboratively to combat this, we as Americans will literally super size our way to extinction."

Cori writes: "It's no wonder kids are obese. The cost of healthy food is outrageous. I can barely afford to buy healthy food for myself. Kids today are lazy. Who wants to exercise if you have cool video games, movies and pizza to accompany your entertainment?"

Kevin in Tennessee says: "People have got to take care -- better care of their children. Take away the Pop-Tarts, Fruit Roll-Ups, Juice Boxes, candy, McDonald's Happy Meals, everything. Let them embarrass you when you go to the grocery store."

Linda writes: "I teach elementary school and soda, candy, donuts and French fries seem to be the part of most pre-schoolers' diets. Parents send children to school with a packed lunch that includes the four food groups -- processed meat sandwich on white bread, salty snack, dessert and soda. Children often have snacks for breakfast. They have a headache by 10:00 a.m. An ongoing massive public education effort is needed here -- the scarier the better.

And finally, Amanda says: "How can we expect children to grow up to live healthy lives on their own if we, as parents, don't lead by example and start them off on the right foot? Schools need to play a larger role in the introduction of healthy living to our children because it's obvious parents are not doing the job. Nutrition information, healthy school meals need to be put in place. Our society just can't say no to our kids and that's part of the problem."

If you didn't see the e-mail here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours there, among hundreds of others -- Wolf, I'll see you tomorrow.

BLITZER: Yes. I'll see you Monday.

Have a great weekend.

CAFFERTY: Oh, not tomorrow. Tomorrow's Saturday. That's right.


CAFFERTY: See you Monday.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: We want to go right back to Don Lemon.

He's getting some more information on the -- one of the other incidents involving some pirates off the Somali coast.

What's going on?

LEMON: Yes. We have been focused on the American pirates. But there is another situation going on. We have this just in on a story reported moments ago, Wolf. You reported it.

There are new pictures coming in involving another pirate situation. Check him out -- unbelievable pictures here. They show the operation involving the French military freeing four hostages on a yacht, including a child. Pirates had been holding them for almost a week right near Somalia.

But one hostage and two pirates did die in that operation. And the office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy says France's military acted against the pirates because they refused offers and increased their threats.

They were getting close to land, Wolf, and they didn't want that to happen.

BLITZER: Don, thanks very much.

We'll see you in THE NEWSROOM tomorrow and Sunday night.

Thanks very much.

LEMON: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Don Lemon reporting.

It's Friday at the White House, so what do you do?

You order pizza -- delivered, of course. Twenty pounds of dough, three gallons of sauce for an impromptu pizza party. And it didn't come from the corner pizza joint.


BLITZER: You never know what a president might want to do during his down time over at the White House. So it seems the first family ordered out for pizza.

The owner of Pi, a pizza joint in St. Louis, got a call from the White House -- from a White House aide. The next thing he knew, he was hopping on a plane with about 20 pounds of dough and three gallons of sauce to cook in the White House kitchen today.


CHRIS SOMMERS, OWNER, PI: In my mind, it's -- I think it's great pizza, but it is still pizza. But, apparently, the president continued to speak about this for four months, according to his assistant. And that was the word to the -- the White House chef as to why they needed to let us into the kitchen.


BLITZER: The tab for the special pizza run, by the way, was picked up by the aide, who is also a big fan, obviously, of Pi's pizza.

Be sure to join us tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM. That's Saturday. You'll see the entire exclusive interview with the vice president, Joe Biden; also, get reaction from former Vice President Dick Cheney's national security adviser.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.