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U.S. Troops in Iraq Shot By Fellow Soldier; Prescription For Health Care Reform

Aired May 11, 2009 - 15:00   ET



RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You saw this one. Now there's another public transportation texting accident. What are these drivers thinking?

And there's a development in the officer vs. reporter saga.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick, I'm not doing anything.

SANCHEZ: I hear you. I got it in the show.

Your national conversation begins right now.


SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez with the next generation of news. It's a conversation, not a speech, and it is your turn to get involved.

Before we do anything else, I want to get your attention on this ambulance that has pulled up on this house. This is the home of John Demjanjuk, as you can see there in Cleveland, Ohio. It's a story that we have followed in the past. We are trying to get a handle on why the ambulance has shown up there.

As you may know from our reporting in the past, he has been ordered to leave the country, where he will go to Germany, where he will once again be tried as a Nazi collaborator who was part of a death camp where people were killed and murdered.

Wait. We have got some movement now. There you see -- there you see John Demjanjuk now being taken out in what appears to be a stretcher. Once again, this is breaking news coming in to us now, John Demjanjuk at his home being taken out in a stretcher, not long, in fact, less than a week -- I'm hearing something now.

Let's see if we can -- is there anything we can dip into, Chris? I'm hearing voices. I don't know if that's the affiliate coverage. All right. Let's stay. Let's see if we can pick up the affiliate's description of this.

All right. This is happening as we speak in Cleveland, Ohio. It's John Demjanjuk. As you know, he was tried in the past as a Nazi who was part of a concentration camp. He had been charged in the killing of thousands of people. He beat that rap, but has now been accused again, this time by the Germans. He is to be deported. And the case went all the way through the courts. And now the Supreme Court was his last stop, and they have ruled that he must, in fact, be deported to Germany.

And just as that was supposed to happen, we understand some time around 7:00 tonight, he was scheduled to be extradited, leaving the United States, at least according to some of the sources there who we have spoken with.

And now it is 3:00 on the East Coast. That would be 2:00 in Cleveland, Ohio. An ambulance pulls up in front of his house. And it appears that he's going to be taken to the hospital, but it does appear as well as we look at those gentlemen there, that they may be with the Marshals' office, which means they either showed up after seeing the ambulance, or have been called or have been monitoring the situation.

One doesn't know at this point if this means that his deportation would be delayed as a result of him being hospitalized. We also don't know, obviously, if this is something that the family has wanted.

Let's stay with this picture. But, throughout the newscast, I am going to want to show you some other pictures that we have gotten ahold of today that show John Demjanjuk -- I will tell you what. If you can, Dan, if you can, leave this shot in a box, but then let's see if we can show in another box these other pictures we have, because every time we see John Demjanjuk being deported, he looks gravely ill.

But we have got video of him just recently where he doesn't look quite as ill. All right. Stay with that. Let's see if they got -- yes, they do have a helicopter shot that's going to probably follow that.

And if you have got those other pictures, just go ahead and put them up. All right, there he is. And this is some of the video we have seen of him where he's smiling and laughing. This may be one of the shots after he was deported, and just strikingly different from the shots that we have seen of him when he's on that stretcher with his head thrown back.

I have talked to his son, who has told me that he would fight the deportation to the very end. It does appear, though, that the end has come, because the Supreme Court has, in fact, decided that he should be taken out of the country and sent to Germany.

John Demjanjuk, I imagine, heading over to a hospital. We're going to be -- what we're going to do is, we're going to try -- we're going to try and see exactly from some of the affiliates there what is happening as far as the decision is concerned, whether it is going to be affected by this sudden arrival of this ambulance outside the home of John Demjanjuk.

One of the lawyers who knows perhaps as much about any other about this case who has followed it for years is joining us by phone.

It's Avery Friedman.

Avery, you there?


SANCHEZ: I will tell you, this thing just came out of the blue, but one wonders what's going on here. What's your take?

FRIEDMAN: Well, actually, it didn't.

When I was actually preparing for my weekend show with you guys, I had predicted that something would happen today. And, indeed, that's exactly it. There's -- there's really no -- nothing stopping this transition and so it really shouldn't be a surprise.

The bottom line, though, is his lawyers, and John Broadley and Michael Tigar, were probably making arrangements with the Department of Justice to make the transition as -- well, as easy as possible under the circumstances.

SANCHEZ: Are you saying -- pardon my voice, by the way. I kind of lost it yesterday out there -- went to my daughter's softball game.



FRIEDMAN: ... fine.

SANCHEZ: Hey, are you saying that the family is doing something here to create a distraction, to keep him from being deported?


FRIEDMAN: Well, it certainly would be consistent with what we have seen over the years. But I think the bottom line here is there's recognition that it is time to go.

And, so, whether the family is initiating it or whether there's a coordinated effort with the family and the Department of Justice, we don't know right now.

SANCHEZ: Well, if he's -- if he's gravely ill, as seems to be at least part of the implication, if nothing else by the fact that we're looking at this ambulance, can he be deported?


That was the argument that they made, that because he is purportedly gravely ill -- and, by the way, the Justice Department filed briefs showing -- showing him to be independent and ambulatory during the time that he was claiming he was sick, so there -- this was a serious area of contention, Rick.

But the bottom line is, the family knew and Ivan knew that it was just literally a matter of a day or two. And, as I say, even Saturday, we were talking that the likely -- likely date of pickup was -- was today. So, I don't know the answer to that.

SANCHEZ: How many people -- I mean, he was first alleged to have killed something like 28,000 people. Is that right?

FRIEDMAN: Well, the assertion by the German government is, he was complicit in the murder and deaths of almost 29,000 people at Sobibor and some of the other death camps.

And before the fall of the Soviet Union, Rick, some of the evidence was released, but not enough to convince the Israeli Supreme Court that he was guilty of crimes against humanity. Well, of course, since that time, with the fall of the Soviet Union, much more evidence has been released.

The problem is, like in America, Rick, the Israeli courts are bound by the double jeopardy rule. They very much have a system similar to American and Western law.

SANCHEZ: Well, that's what his son told me. How's it not double jeopardy, then, if he's going to be tried for the same thing, but in a different country?

FRIEDMAN: Well, that's not true at all. Under international law, the standards used by Germany are not the same as the standards used by Israel. That would be a good argument if it were the United States or if it were the state of Israel, but Germany is a sovereign state, and it certainly has the right to try him.

SANCHEZ: I mean, he's being tried essentially, though, for the very same acts under a different pretense, or is it -- or are there different charges? Kind of hard to understand what the charges actually are.

FRIEDMAN: Let me -- let me make it simple.

When he was being tried in Israel, he was tried for his conduct as a guard at a death camp at Tranicki (ph). Now, since the fall of the Soviet Union, much more evidence has come out about his role at a death camp at Sobibor and so many other places.

So, he is being charged, actually, with more crimes against humanity than those which were known about when he was tried in Israel.

SANCHEZ: Do you believe, Avery, that this guy was a Nazi and was complicit in the killing of thousands, tens of thousands of people?

FRIEDMAN: I served the chief of the United States district court who tried the case in a number of civil rights matters in federal district court.

The chief judge characterized him as having engaged in treason. This is a former World War II hero. I have no reason to doubt that that -- what -- that which the federal judge said is anything other than it -- it is correct. So, I have no personal knowledge, but I certainly, based on the findings of the federal district judge, believe that there's clearly evidence of these kind of crimes.

SANCHEZ: Wow. What a story.

FRIEDMAN: Amazing.

SANCHEZ: It is. It is.

Avery, thanks so much for...

FRIEDMAN: All the best.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

FRIEDMAN: Take care.

All right. We're going to stay with this story. And when we come back, we're also going to bring you the very latest on what's going on today with five U.S. soldiers killed by one of their own. We're all over it. We will bring you the details as they're still coming in.


SANCHEZ: By the way, we're going to stay on top of that story about John Demjanjuk, as you know, once referred to as Ivan the Terrible.

And there's not a lot of compassion for him, at least not amongst most of the people who are watching this newscast and are joining us.

Let's go to our Twitter board, if we possibly can. See if you can get a shot over there, guys. Here's just some of the comments. Let me just give you a taste.

"With a police escort, why is Demjanjuk's ambulance stopping at red lights? It's a ploy to stay in the United States."

"Regarding Nazi, put his old butt behind the life support and stuff him into a cargo bay on a plane headed to Germany."

Boy, I will tell you, it's just one after another, the reaction that we're getting from many of you. Keep it coming. And we will keep sharing.

Meanwhile, five American soldiers are dead in Iraq for the most meaningless of reasons, it seems. You know, usually, soldiers in situations like this are attacked by the enemy, but not in this case. This is a soldier who was actually attacked by one of his own.

Let me bring you up to date because it happened today. It is considered one of the worst single incidents in U.S. military history, a member of the military killing his fellow troops in Iraq, ever. By the way, it's not the first time that something like this happens. Here's a couple others. Let me take you through them.

September last year, an Army sergeant, he is accused of killing two members of his unit, including his squad leader. His court- martial is going on now. A staff sergeant is charged with fragging two commissioned officers with a land mine in 2005. He was eventually acquitted.

And Sergeant Hasan Akbar was convicted of killing two officers in Kuwait in 2003. He got the death penalty. We have got a couple reporters following this now. But I will tell you, it's important enough that both the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense both addressed this story today with reporters in Washington.

Here is some sound I want to share with you. Here's the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Here's Admiral Mullen. Here's what he had to say.


ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINTS CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: It does speak to me, though, about the need for us to redouble our efforts, the concern in terms of dealing with the stress, dealing with the whole issue of those kinds of things. And it also speaks to the issue of multiple deployments, you know, increasing dwell time, all those things that were focused on to try to improve to relieve that stress.


SANCHEZ: Cal Perry is joining us now from Baghdad.

Cal, what do we know? What's going on here?

CAL PERRY, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Well, what we know so far is that five U.S. soldiers are dead at the hands of another U.S. soldier and it happened at a stress facility at Camp Liberty, which is a big, sprawling camp out by the airport. I could not have put it better myself than what the admiral just said.

This is an issue and a conversation that I think the nation, America, is going to be having not just this year, not just next year, but for years to come. We're talking about guys on their second, third, fourth deployments, deployments that range between 12 and 15 months.

Some of these guys go to Afghanistan. Then they go to Iraq. Then they go back to Afghanistan. And some of this stress, this post- traumatic stress disorder, is not necessarily the stuff that you see here on the streets of Iraq or while on patrol in Afghanistan, but let's talk about the stress that this puts on families.

When you're away from home for 15 months, what does that do to a family atmosphere? What does that do to a marriage, for example? And that's a big concern that the U.S. military has.

And it's a huge concern because they're losing their officer corps. Officer retention is down because guys are simply not re- upping because they know, if they do, they are going to get redeployed -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Five soldiers dead, all killed by one of their own. What a story. Thanks so much. Listen, if you get anything else, let us know. Cal Perry reporting to us from Baghdad.


WANDA SYKES, COMEDIAN: Rush Limbaugh, "I hope the country fails."

I hope his kidneys fail. How about that?



SANCHEZ: When does a joke go too far all in the name of, what, political satire? And, by the way, how did the president react when he heard that?

And the news is in about Miss California, more racy pics after she said that there would be no more. Is that reason enough to take away her title? Is a decision being made? We have been following that story.

And, also, American health executives backing President Obama's health care plans? Where were they when President Clinton tried the same thing? What's the difference? We're asking.

Stay with us. We will be right back.


SANCHEZ: Where would I as a broadcaster be if not for people who can't shut up, people who can't resist sticking both feet in their collective mouths? And, today, there are two.


SYKES: I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was just so strung out on OxyContin, he missed his flight.


SYKES: Rush Limbaugh, "I hope the country fails." I hope his kidneys fail. How about that?


SYKES: He needs a little water-boarding. That's what he needs.



SANCHEZ: Funny? Definitely. Mean-spirited, crude, offensive to talk about somebody dying? Yes.

And she's not the only one. Listen to what golf analyst David "Fairway" Feherty wrote about U.S. troops. "Osama bin Laden and the two top Democrats in Congress" -- this is from "Dallas" magazine, by the way. And he actually wrote this. It's not something where he can say, well, it just slipped out; I wasn't thinking.

Quote: "From my own experience visiting troops in the Middle East, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice. And Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death."

So, which of these is worse?

Joining me from Washington, Republican strategist Rich Galen and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona.

Thanks, guys, for being with us.



SANCHEZ: Hey, Rich, let me start with you.

Where do these fall on the Galen tastelessness scale?

GALEN: Off the scale. It doesn't even exist anymore. And I haven't -- you haven't shown yet the president's reaction to that, which I wish you would, because I thought that was at least as inappropriate to...


SANCHEZ: Well, you know, it's funny. We went through it. And Gary (ph), the producer who was working on this segment with me, I said, let's go through that segment. And, you know, it's funny? I don't know if you have seen it. Maybe you have got something I don't have. The camera goes to him. She's in the middle of a joke and just before she gets to the part about Rush Limbaugh's kidneys failing, the camera goes away.

Let's see if we can use that. All right, there she is talking. And there you see his reaction. He's smiling and smiling. Now, she hasn't gotten to the punch line yet. So, we don't know exactly when she says it. And I don't know, Rich. what's your take of this?

GALEN: Well, we don't know what he's saying there. But there was still footage that purported to be reaction to that joke. But that's -- that's neither here nor there.

The fact is that -- that there is plenty to joke about in terms of the institutions of Washington, D.C., which, by the way, include the press corps, include strategists, include -- include members of the House and Senate, without engaging in really ugly ad hominem attacks.

It wasn't funny, and I don't think anybody should have laughed. I think they should have booed her off the stage.

SANCHEZ: Do you think her comment worse than Feherty's comment? Or they're equals?

GALEN: Are you asking me?


GALEN: Oh, let me tell you something. I spent six months in Iraq. And I will tell you that -- that the first time I met Hillary Clinton was in the dining facility in Baghdad in late 2003. And nobody, nobody wasn't thrilled to have her there.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Yes.


SANCHEZ: Whatever he was talking about, he was full of crap. He is wrong.

SANCHEZ: Full of crap is probably a good choice of words.


SANCHEZ: Yours, not mine.


SANCHEZ: Maria, what do you make of this?

CARDONA: Look, were Wanda Sykes' comments were distasteful. Were they humorless? To a lot of people.

But I will say you have to take it in context. She is an entertainer. She's a comedian, and, frankly, a lot of people I think are fed up with the likes of Rush Limbaugh making tasteless, divisive, offensive comments and getting away with it every single day by calling himself an entertainer.


SANCHEZ: Maria, that's not fair to say that he gets away with it. There's a network -- not our network -- but there's another network on TV that calls Rush out every single night for just about everything that he says. And I'm sure you're not...


CARDONA: And he continues. And he continues with what he's doing because he thinks he's an entertainer.

SANCHEZ: Yes, but what the guy says from time to time has been over the line, but to say that the guy's kidneys should fail is way beyond the pale. I have been with this guy. If you meet Rush Limbaugh in person...

CARDONA: I am agreeing with you, yes.

SANCHEZ: ... he's a good guy. He's a regular guy. But he's got...


CARDONA: Rick, I'm agreeing with you.

But let's go to -- to David Feherty's comments, or, as I should say, a column. This is somebody who -- my understanding is, he fancies himself a journalist or at least somebody whose thoughts on politics should be taken serious enough or are profound enough or are enlightened enough for him to be published in "W." magazine.


CARDONA: Fairly or unfairly, he is held to a higher standard, and he should know better.

SANCHEZ: Take us out on this one, Rich.

GALEN: No, I absolutely agree.

We are -- there's no disagreement with any of this stuff.


SANCHEZ: All right.


GALEN: But I -- but Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. And the fact is that he loves -- every time something like this happens, his ratings go up again.


CARDONA: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: And he's the victim in this case, so, actually, you could argue that she's doing him a favor.


SANCHEZ: I want to switch the subject a little bit here.

Speaking of somebody who can't stop talking, in fact, says he won't stop talking, and is frankly boastful about it, Dick Cheney this weekend assailed Colin Powell as a liberal Democrat.

I don't know how that becomes assailing, but, anyway, and when asked to choose between his former Desert Storm colleague and Rush Limbaugh, guess who he chooses? Here it is. I want you guys to watch this report. Our own Jim Acosta filed it for us. And then I want to get your reaction on the other side.


RICHARD B. CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I don't speak out, then where do we find ourselves, Bob? Then -- then the critics have free run and there isn't anybody there on the other side to tell the truth.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Far from a secure, undisclosed location, Vice President Dick Cheney is out in the open and sounding off. Whether it's on Rush Limbaugh's recent broadside that Colin Powell no longer belongs in the Republican Party...

CHENEY: If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I would go with Rush Limbaugh, I think. I think my take on it was Colin had already left the party.

ACOSTA: Or on the Bush administration's use of questionable interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists.

CHENEY: No regrets. I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. I'm convinced, absolutely convinced that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives.

ACOSTA: Even as the Justice Department is weighing whether to prosecute Bush administration officials for authorizing harsh interrogation methods, Cheney stated the orders came straight from the top.

CHENEY: He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential level decision and the decision went to the president. He signed off on it.

ACOSTA: Last week, the former vice president told a North Dakota radio program it would be a mistake for the GOP to moderate, even as "Time" magazine declared the Republican an endangered species, other party leaders are echoing Cheney's message.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't want to moderate either. I think our policies, the principles of our party are as viable today as they have in the past.

ACOSTA: Democrats like the sound of that.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You poll Rush Limbaugh, Colin Powell, my money is on Colin Powell.

ACOSTA: Cheney is not the first vice president to take on his successors. Al Gore accused the Bush White House of using torture three years ago.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They violate the Geneva Conventions, the international convention against torture, and our own laws against torture. ACOSTA: Now, it's Cheney's turn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you surprised, sir, you're the one who has to defend the administration that much?

CHENEY: That's what vice presidents do.

ACOSTA (on camera): There is one question Cheney will not answer at this point. And that's whether he would be willing to testify under oath about the Bush administration's interrogation policies.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.


SANCHEZ: Hey, Maria, let me begin with you.

This sounds like this is a guy who's saying, I'm sick and tired of being -- of hearing people talk about me, and they're all wrong about what they're saying, and I don't care if people are going to criticize me. I'm going to go out there and I'm going to defend my record and I'm going to defend the Bush administration's record.

What's wrong with that?

CARDONA: Well, there's nothing wrong with it. In fact, what I would say as a Democrat is they should have him out talking every day, every minute of the day for as long as they want.


SANCHEZ: You're being wicked. You're being bad.

CARDONA: I know, but here's -- but let me be serious for a minute.

This underscores, I think, the real problems that the Republican Party faces. As long as he continues to talk about this and to try to defend the Bush legacy, the more does it remind people just why and how much they wanted the change that they voted in, in November.


SANCHEZ: What do you make of that, Rich? But, again, go back to my question. If a man believes in something enough to stand up for it, look, I guarantee you he's got a lot of money. He doesn't have to be doing this. He's probably doing this for reasons beyond ego and cash or money or anything else. He believes it, doesn't he?

GALEN: Oh, I -- there's no question that Dick Cheney's a true believer. I don't think anybody doubts that.

But I think the question, not your question, but the threshold question is larger than either/or, either Colin Powell or Rush Limbaugh. It should be -- Republicans should be saying, where do we agree, so that we can have a Colin Powell and a Rush Limbaugh inside the same party?


CARDONA: That's right.


GALEN: We can't have a party in which we want more and more votes out of fewer and fewer voters.

So, I think what we need to do is construct a set of principles that everybody can agree on, and then we agree that, if you're on one edge or the other, you are not going to agree on those.

SANCHEZ: It sounds like you're talking about organization, something which is sorely lacking right now in the party?

CARDONA: But that's why -- that's why Dick Cheney is such a detriment to the Republican Party.


CARDONA: Because he is exactly leaving out the people that the Republican Party needs to be talking to, Latinos, African-Americans, independents, women, young people.


CARDONA: They are all turned off by the things that Dick Cheney says.

SANCHEZ: Well, it sounds like -- it sounds like you're singing Meghan McCain's tune there.

We will pick that conversation up. Guys, you're great. What a wonderful and smart conversation. My thanks to you both.

GALEN: Thanks, Rick. Be safe.

CARDONA: Thank you, Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Simply incredible!


SANCHEZ: Historically, May is a very busy month for tornadoes. We have put together some powerful storms from recent years. You are going to be amazed when you watch this video that we have put together for you.

And then we're looking at the law that says that a man should be able to slap their wife for spending too much money. No, you don't need to look at your calendar right about now. Yes, it is 2009.


SANCHEZ: Oh, to be young, beautiful and controversial. Miss California USA has been all of those and then some. But has her 15 minutes of fame finally run out? I wonder if you're as breathless as I have been to learn whether or not Carrie Prejean will lose her title. Let me remove my tongue from my cheek now. The so-called suits representing the Miss California USA organization talked to reporters just a couple of minutes ago. We were wondering whether they were going to kick her out or leave her in. Here's what they said.


KEITH LEWIS, CO-EXEC. DIRECTOR, MISS CALIF. USA: As long as she bears the name of California in her title, she has an obligation to everyone who lives here. We do not leak personal medical information. We instead did not lie when we were asked a direct question and accepted our role, even if it caused some people to criticize. We saw the photo in question and follow-up photo that Carrie has claimed to not authentic at the very same time as the public. As a matter of fact, up until now, we have just been riding along pretty much a passenger on this runaway train. But as of today, that ends.


SANCHEZ: Ok. To be honest, we're not exactly sure what Keith Lewis was definitely saying there. Carrie Prejean, as you know, made a splash the night she came in runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, saying she favored what she called opposite marriage. Since then, some questionable photos have surfaced that seem to go against pageant rules. It seems at this point like she is going to be able to keep her crown and tiara. We wait. We'll see. Hang in there, Californians. Your ambassador, as they called her today, is still in office.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands off the truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not doing anything.


SANCHEZ: He keeps talking to me. Rick, I'm not doing anything. The latest on the officer who was caught on camera arresting this reporter. Did he go too far? The decision on his fate is in. You may be surprised when you hear this one.

Also, how can a judge say it's ok for a man to slap his wife as long as he did it because she spent lavishly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SANCHEZ: There is a lot of reaction that's been coming in regarding the segment we did moments ago on the comedians. Rush Limbaugh's comment, Dick Cheney's comments. Let's start right there with Rush Limbaugh. Let's go to the twitter board, if we can. You really, it says Rick, you really defending Rush Limbaugh? Sykes, true entertainer and comedian. We got another one. Johnnie move back just a little bit. I want to see if we can scroll down. How about Limbaugh's attack on young Chelsea Clinton, comparing her to a dog and laughing at her? So there you go. Plenty of criticism about Rush Limbaugh. Flip it around. Johnnie, let's get the very first one. Jeff Miller up there, this is Facebook. First rule of comedy if people laugh, it's funny. Wanda did a hilarious job.

So that's what people think who are watching our newscast right now. Thank you for coming back. I'm Rick Sanchez here in the world headquarters of CNN. Let me take you back 15 years. You ready? Remember how the medical industry howled in protest when Bill Clinton tried to reform America's health care system? My, how things have changed. I want you to take a look at this picture now. This is industry leaders standing behind President Barack Obama after pledging to cut health care costs by $2 trillion over a decade. Bigger yet, the move signals the industry won't try to shoot down health reform two. They are willing to work on the inside. This is coming as a shocker to a lot of people. Here's the president today backed by some of his best buddies in the health care business.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a historic day. A watershed event in the long, elusive quest for health care reform. As these groups take the steps they are outlining, and as we work with Congress on health care reform legislation, my administration will continue working to reduce health care costs to achieve similar savings.


SANCHEZ: It wasn't a lot of news in the speech but I think it's the coming together of Barack Obama, a Democrat, talking about reforming health care, with these CEOs and these executives. Patricia Murphy is joining us now from Washington. She's a columnist at Most Americans have in their heads the pictures of Hillary being pilloried -- I just rhymed. This president gets support. These are the same companies, the same group of people. What's changed? What's going on here?

PATRICIA MURPHY, COLUMNIST, POLITICSDAILY.COM: Well, a lot of things have changed. First, the politics have changed. There is no Hillary Clinton. There is no Newt Gingrich leading the charge against Hillary Clinton, that's off the table. But most of all the reality has changed. Six million more Americans are without health care insurance right now and even if you do have health care insurance, those costs are amazing. When you get a bill from a hospital or your doctor, those numbers are eye-popping. Medicare is going broke. Medicaid is going broke. There's an imperative right now in Congress. People understand that health care needs to happen. These companies want to be on the train. They don't want the train to leave the station without them.

SANCHEZ: Yes, but let's not kid ourselves here, right? I mean these guys are not going to be for universal health care reform, are they?

MURPHY: Oh no, no, no. Really that's why they're in the room. They don't want universal health care. That's not really on the table. Something that is being discussed is a government sponsored insurance program. Something that the government would offer to people instead of private insurance. There would still be private insurance. These companies do not want that. They said it would be very unfair competitive advantage against them. That's why they're in that room. They want to be there to negotiate for themselves and compete against that program that's coming out on the table and being discussed quite a bit right now.

SANCHEZ: Patricia Murphy, we're out of time. Thanks for being with us.

MURPHY: Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands off the truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick, I'm not doing anything.


SANCHEZ: He keeps talking to me. We told you about the Texas officer who arrested the reporter and we asked whether that officer went too far. We have an update on his fate.

Also this. Remember the bus driver caught on camera texting before this crash? A Boston trolley conductor is also now under review. Guess what he was doing? He was texting. What's going on here?

And the debate on a woman being slapped by her husband for lavish spending and a judge says that's perfectly fine. That's what a husband should do to his wife. In 2009?


SANCHEZ: I want you to look at what happened. This is Friday night in a dark tunnel under downtown Boston. A two-car trolley ran past a red light, then plowed into a trolley stopped on the tracks, sending 50 --50 people to the hospital. The trolley operator didn't show for a meeting with investigators yesterday where he would have been asked if he was texting on the phone rather than paying attention to the road. By the way, the answer to that question, according to authorities, is yes. He was texting. How common is this? Common enough to have been featured before on this show. Remember this? The commuter train that crashed and killed 25 people in Chatsworth, California last year. That accident was linked to a train operator texting.

Then there's this accident that we showed you just a couple weeks ago, the bus driver driving disabled passengers. He is actually seen pulling out his phone there and then texting. Watch it for yourself what happens next. Bang. That's the camera that was tied on front of it. All of these are under review now. All departments say texting while driving is a direct violation of the rules. The question is, should more be done to make sure employees don't violate the rule, like maybe what we do with our teenagers. Take away their phones.

We have an update now on a story we brought you a few weeks back which, by the week, got tons of reaction from you. This is a Texas reporter getting kicked out of a traffic scene by a very nervous cop. I will let you watch it for yourself for awhile. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me talk to this guy real quick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will get in your truck and move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're doing our job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands off the truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands off the truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick, I'm not doing anything. I'm not doing anything.


SANCHEZ: He must have been doing enough on that day, according to the cop, because he was arrested. As for the officer who cuffed both of them, he is now suspended and demoted. El Paso's Police Department says the action taken against the former Sergeant Raul Ramirez is for a separate incident of excessive force that was quote, back in November. Ramirez is now a glorified desk jockey handling administrative duties. Both newsmen were immediately released by the city's police chief.

This story is a story that's gotten our attention. It's a new law in Saudi Arabia allowing husbands to slap their wives for spending too much money. Slap their wives for spending too much money and get this, the judge said this during a seminar on domestic violence. We'll have a segment on it.


SANCHEZ: We welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez. A judge in Saudi Arabia spoke out on domestic violence the other day. As it turns out, he's in favor of it. In favor of domestic violence. The judge says if a wife spends too much money, she deserves to be slapped by her husband. Even by the standards of a country where women are not even allowed to drive, it seems shocking, especially when you consider that Saudi Arabia's a U.S. ally. Dr. Qanta Ahmed is a physician and the author of "The Land of Invisible Women a Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom." She's in New York. Doctor, thanks so much for being with us.

DR. QANTA AHMED, AUTHOR, "IN THE LAND OF THE INVISIBLE WOMEN": Thank you so much, Mr. Sanchez, for inviting me.

SANCHEZ: Are you surprised by this judge's decision and is it a sign that things are not getting better for women in Saudi Arabia, but perhaps are getting worse?

AHMED: I wouldn't say that I'm surprised. I'm disappointed. I think both the judge and the husband very much fail the ideals of the kingdom. Number one, there is no basis at all for physical abuse of wives for overspending that I know of in any of our scriptures. Number two, the judge and the husband both are not really meeting the king's very public and open stance on fighting this kind of behavior. You are probably well aware that the king of Saudi Arabia, his majesty King Abdullah, gave a speech on the national day, September 23rd, 2008, exactly denouncing this kind of mockery that these clergy make of Islam by exercising these foolish decisions.

SANCHEZ: Does it really matter what the king says where we're talking about a country like many other countries, the religious powers are the ones who truly have a power over the culture of how the people behave?

AHMED: As a matter of fact, it does matter. In fact, the king as a result has replaced a lot of the clergy because of their extreme views. So he is moving to eliminate this kind of sanction. Additionally, the master of physical abuse is one that King Abdullah has very much championed himself by opening the first international meeting March this year to expose and cite physical abuse.

SANCHEZ: If you're a woman, though I'm going to switch the subject away and just try and -- you're a woman, what would it be like to live in Saudi Arabia and be a woman knowing that you can't drive, that you're punished in any way, that you don't have the same rights as men and that a man now, according to a judge can actually slap you for spending too much money?

AHMED: Well I think, I mean I have less part of that seen being a woman in Saudi Arabia 10 years ago when the culture was rather more restrictive than it is now. What it means is that women in Saudi Arabia need to become aware of their own rights and their are many progressive Saudi male leaders, whether it is the monarch, whether it is the minister of health, whether it is Dr. Mohar Al Mani(ph), who are there to support women when they protested. Not only will you see U.S. outrage at this as you're rightly expressing, but also Saudi domestic outrage at these things which will bring the change that we desire to see.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you this political question now. We invaded Iraq at the behest of the Saudis and now are told it's because Saddam Hussein savaged his people in many ways. Should Americans after hearing a story like this question the Saudi's right to point fingers at people like Saddam Hussein?

AHMED: I really don't have credentials to speak about politics, but I would encourage curious Americans to engage more when they see things that seem unjust, this is when their pressures through diplomatic intellectual scientific forums can help facilitate change which many progressive Saudi Arabians are working hard to accomplish.

SANCHEZ: Dr. Ahmed, you're a great guest, thanks so much for sharing your perspective on this. Something that many of us as Americans need to probably learn more about. We thank you.

AHMED: My pleasure.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut your door, shut your door.


SANCHEZ: This is the most amazing video of the day, no question. Hands down, ever wonder what it's like to be up close to a tornado? Storm chasers do and they're going to show you what they got. This is a bevy of them that you'll see up close. I want you to watch their video when we come back. Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: It's time to let Wolf Blitzer do a little talking because my voice is going out. When I started the show I was a little pony, but now I'm a little hoarse.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I can hear it a little bit. Let me make a recommendation, hot tea with honey. What do you think about that?

SANCHEZ: I like that. Some people say add a little salt too.

BLITZER: No, no salt. Too much sodium, not good. Honey, think about it.

SANCHEZ: Dr. Blitzer, thank you Sir.

BLITZER: A little chicken soup won't hurt. Might not help, but can't hurt.

SANCHEZ: Matza balls, no matza balls?

BLITZER: A little matza balls, a little chicken soup, you'll feel a lot better. All right let's talk a little bit about what's coming up right at the top of the hour. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, she's here to explain the president's goals as far as health care reform is concerned. Big day over at the White House on that.

We're also speaking to the British foreign secretary, David Milliband, lots going on, including what's going on in Pakistan as well as with Iran. So we got a big show coming up right at the top of the hour.

SANCHEZ: Thank you, Wolf. Thanks for the advice on that too.

This is the height of the tornado season and dozens of scientists and storm chasers are going to spend the next month traveling across the plains looking for trouble. That's what they do. The project is called the vortex2. You heard of it? This is one of the largest and most ambitious efforts ever made to really understand tornadoes. To get you in the mood I want you to look at what storm chasers have confronted in the past. This is -- I guess we could call this nature's greatest hits.


UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Simply incredible!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could hear the wind blowing, it was terrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot of communities that have been literally obliterated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's become bigger, Travis the tornado is becoming bigger. We got a large funnel into the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our (INAUDIBLE) went out for a good 20 minutes. We were in the basement under the pool table. It sounds just like they tell you it sounds like, loud, like a train coming, it's every bit as scary as you think it's going to be.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut your door. Shut your door. Ok, go, back up. We're ok. We're ok. Hear that?


SANCHEZ: I love telling stories in the raw like that. Just let them show themselves. It's amazing. And we have got your feedback in the raw as well, when we come back. We're going to lose our crowns.


SANCHEZ: We're trying to see if we can work something out on the internet where we can give you more time in response to this question on twitter. Adrian says. Adrian, Rick, we need another hour to cover all the interesting things that go on in our world. Thanks for including us, you rock. We thank you for watching Adrian and for including yourself and we are trying to come up with a way where maybe after the show or before we can talk to you on the internet. Direct communicado. And as we work on that, we'll bring it to you. In the meantime, my voice needs a break, Wolf Blitzer is ready to go, here we go, to Washington, "THE SITUATION ROOM," and Dr. Wolf Blitzer.