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Bush-Era Terror Trials Return; GM Axes 1,100 Dealerships; Latinos Pressure President Obama on Supreme Court Pick

Aired May 15, 2009 - 16:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Well, happening now, the CIA director jumps into the debate over whether the House speaker was misled by his agency. Is fellow Democrat Leon Panetta suggesting that Nancy Pelosi got it wrong?

Plus, exploding gun sales, why the National Rifle Association thinks it has a lot to celebrate, even with a Democrat in the White House.

And a life-and-death legal battle. Prosecutors want to force a 13-year-old cancer patient to get chemotherapy. They boys parents believe they have the right to say no.

Wolf Blitzer's off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux, in CNN's command center for breaking, news, politics and extraordinary reports from around the world.


President Obama now says that the best way to protect our country is to bring back a Bush administration policy that he once blasted. He's reviving military commissions to try a small number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, but he says he is changing the rules to give terror suspects new legal protection.

Let's bring in our Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry.

A lot of strong reaction to this decision. We saw really Gibbs under fire today over this very issue.

ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Suzanne. Some of the president's own supporters, especially on the left, are furious with this decision.

They saw the president shift on Wednesday in terms of now he wants to block release of these prison abuse photos. Now, today, as you note, he wants to revive this military commission system that as a candidate, then-Senator Obama said he wanted to reject this system outright.

Instead, today, he's sort of keeping this system alive with some important tweaks, as you pointed out. Some important changes.

Now, liberal groups like the ACLU are blasting this though today, saying basically the president is just building on a fatally flawed system that's unconstitutional. Robert Gibbs, as you noted, under fire a little bit, a lot of tough questions from reporters.

He rejected the criticism, saying, look, the president has some tough decisions to make as commander in chief, and he stressed there are some important changes to give detainees new rights.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Statements that have been obtained from detainees using cruel, inhumane and degrading interrogation methods will no longer be admitted as evidence at trial.

Second, the use of hearsay will be limited so that the burden will no longer be on the party who objects to hearsay to disprove its reliability.

Third, the accused will have greater latitude in selecting their counsel.

Fourth, basic protections will be provided for those who refuse to testify.

And fifth, military commission judges may establish the jurisdiction of their own courts.


HENRY: Now, interesting, despite all that criticism on the list, today the president's former Republican rival, John McCain, came out with a glowing statement, saying the president is basically finding the right balance between national security, but also protecting the rights of terror suspects. Positive comments like that from Republicans only make some Democrats more suspicious.

But when you talk to top White House aides, they say, look, what's really going on here is the president is trying to find some common ground on an issue where, frankly, there's no easy answer about what to do with these terror suspects. And while the president didn't face the cameras to fill in a lot of the details, next Thursday he will. He's going to give a major speech, talk about the details, but also try to explain the rationale for this decision -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And Ed, in covering Obama as a candidate, he really made a point about the military commission, saying that this was not something that he endorsed.

Was Robert Gibbs asked about that? How are they dealing with kind of this pushback from those who are on the left, really some of his fundamental supporters?

HENRY: He did get some tough questions, you're right, about some of the statements on the campaign. Specifically, the then-senator said at one point in 2007, a major speech on the war on terror, said, look, we've got to reject these commissions outright. They're trying to backpedal a little bit from that by saying that in the previous year, during a Senate debate in 2006, Mr. Obama was pointing out that he could support military commissions as long as there were more rights, that he didn't support it under the Bush framework, that he wanted some tweaks as we're seeing today.

But as you know, that's still not good enough for some of his supporters on the left. They're expecting a more pure position. But let's face it, I think this president is finding, as you know, as commander in chief, some of the rhetoric on the campaign is a lot more difficult to square when you're here trying to govern -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: A lot more difficult to govern.

Thank you so much, Ed.

This is proving to be one of the worst weeks ever for people who sell cars in this country. General Motors today told more than 1,000 dealers it is ending their contracts, putting many of them out of business. This, a day after Chrysler axed more than 700 dealerships.

Well, here's Poppy Harlow of


Well, as GM faces the very real possibility of bankruptcy, the company came out today and said it is cutting down its dealerships in a significant way. Right now, General Motors has about 6,000 dealerships across America. They are not going to renew their contracts with about 1,100 of those dealerships come October, 2010, when those contracts are up.

This is all part of General Motors' plan to cut its dealerships by 40 percent, its viability plan. It has told the Obama administration that it wants to cut down those 6,000 dealers to about 3,600.

That means there will have to be additional dealership closings on top of the ones that we heard about today. That's represented right there in yellow, between 900 and 1,300 more dealership closings ahead.

The CEO of General Motors, Fritz Henderson coming out and saying today, listen, GM's viability plan calls for fewer stronger brands and fewer stronger dealerships. There's the dealership portion.

Let's look at the brands, because General Motors has said it is either going to close down or try to sell these four brands, these very well-known brands: Hummer, Saturn, Saab and Pontiac.

And the big question that a lot of Americans have right now is, what about my job? What does this mean for the future jobs at the dealers, at the factors, at the suppliers?

All of that coming out today to sum this up from the National Automobile Dealers of America, saying that the cuts that we heard about from Chrysler on the dealership side on Thursday and from General Motors today could result in an impact on about 140,000 American jobs.

Full coverage of this story, of course, on Suzanne, back to you.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Poppy.

Time now for "The Cafferty File."

Jack Cafferty joins us.

Jack, good to see you. I guess I'm joining you here at THE SITUATION ROOM.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. What, are you being punished?


MALVEAUX: Who did I anger today?

CAFFERTY: Where's Wolf?

MALVEAUX: Wolf is at a wedding, I understand.

CAFFERTY: Not his, though?

MALVEAUX: No. No, he's happily married for quite some time.

CAFFERTY: All right.

Nancy Pelosi seems to have a new story every day when it comes to that ongoing debate over torture. In fact, more focus is now on Pelosi than on the Bush administration, which, of course, is just what the Republicans wanted. The Bush administration are the ones who authorized the use of waterboarding in the first place.

The speaker of the House now claims that the CIA misled her -- for want of a better word that I'll get to in a minute -- misled her during September 2002 briefing by telling her that waterboarding had not been used yet on detainees. She says the CIA briefers gave her inaccurate and incomplete information.

A reporter asked if they lied to her. Pelosi nodded her head yes. She's accusing the CIA of lying. That's pretty serious stuff.

The CIA says, "It's not the policy of this agency to mislead the United States Congress." And the director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, echoed something very similar to that today. A former senior intelligence official says it's inconceivable that the CIA would not have talked about interrogation methods already being used.

Republicans insist Pelosi and other Democrats knew waterboarding was being used all along, but they said nothing. House Minority Leader John Boehner says Pelosi's comments continue to raise more questions than provide answers. And Representative Peter Hoekstra calls Pelosi's account "Version 5.0 from Nancy" on what happened in that 2002 meeting.

Meanwhile, Pelosi finally admitted that she learned that waterboarding was being used in 2003, but says she wasn't personally briefed on it at the time. But she knew about it, apparently, in 2003, and for six years said nothing.

Here's the question: When it comes to waterboarding, whom do you believe, Nancy Pelosi or the CIA?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

Suzanne, it's good to have you with us. You're much easier on the eyes than Wolf is.

MALVEAUX: Oh. I'm going to tell Wolf that, too, actually, when I see him.

CAFFERTY: All right.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Jack.

Well, ,it is a heartbreak that no parent should have to bear, a 13-year-old boy stricken with cancer. His parents don't want him to get chemotherapy that could save his life. Ahead, their decision and why prosecutors are fighting it.

Plus will President Obama break another racial barrier when he makes his first Supreme Court nomination. New insight into Latinos who may be on his short list.

And later, Notre Dame students gear up to protest President Obama. We're gauging the anger on campus on the abortion issue.


MALVEAUX: Well, arguably, it is the biggest guessing game in Washington, perhaps even in the country. Who's going to get that lifetime appointment to the highest court in the United States?

President Obama is playing his list of potential Supreme Court nominees close to his chest, but one group that helped him win makes it clear what kind of judge it would like to see.

CNN's Kate Bolduan joining me live.

And Kate, you've got the inside scoop, I think.


MALVEAUX: You wish.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Right, Suzanne.

Well, we hear a lot about the desire for diversity on the high court. Well, the Hispanic community says it's long past time that diversity includes one of their own.



BOLDUAN (voice-over): The Hispanic vote played a key role in Barack Obama's presidential victory, and Hispanics are looking for recognition of that support. Seeing a golden opportunity in the Supreme Court vacancy, they're not holding back.

ESTUARDO RODRIGUEZ, HISPANICS FOR A FAIR JUDICIARY: It's beyond symbolism. For us, it's sitting on that bench and hearing a case that may deal with voting rights or employment, labor concerns.

BOLDUAN: Hispanics are the fastest growing minority group, nearly one in six U.S. residents. And advocacy groups are now pressuring President Obama to name the first Latino or Latina justice.

CNN contributor and syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette says their time is overdue.

RUBEN NAVARRETTE, CNN.COM CONTRIBUTOR: I've heard this debate for a long, long time on both sides, and Latinos are running out of patience.

BOLDUAN: Leading Hispanic candidates include Federal Appeals Court Judges Sonia Sotomayor and Kim Wardlaw; California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno; and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. All come with well respected judicial resumes, but not without controversy.

Sotomayor has faced stinging criticism from the left and right over perceived concerns about her temperament and intellect. She was even parodied on "The Late Show With David Letterman."



BOLDUAN: But fighting stereotypes isn't the only hurdle facing an Hispanic nominee. Political timing is another.

THOMAS GOLDSTEIN, SUPREME COURT LEGAL ANALYST: The only factor that's really essential for this nominee is that she be a woman. Beyond that, ethnic diversity, racial diversity, that the candidate would be Hispanic, is certainly a plus, but it's not going to be determinative.


BOLDUAN: Now, sources tell CNN the message during private meetings at the White House this week with little groups was a little bit of, chill out. The White House seems to be trying to calm the lobbying effort as the president nears his final decision.

MALVEAUX: And Kate, we are not calm, we're not chilling out. We want to know when this announcement is going to happen.

Do you have a sense of how soon we could get that news?

BOLDUAN: The latest guidance we have is by month's end. So that's what we're working with.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thanks, Kate. Appreciate it.

Well, now to another politically active group that staunchly campaigns for its causes. That is the National Rifle Association. Members are gathering in Phoenix to attend its convention, and many are taking aim at any attempt to curb gun rights.

CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider joining us live now.

Bill, what do you have?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Suzanne, 2008 was not a good election for the National Rifle Association. So why is their meeting this week in Phoenix being billed as a celebration?


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Now that Democrats control Washington, you would think gun control advocates would be celebrating. But they're not.

DENNIS HENIGAN, BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUNS: I guess the right term is we're frustrated.

SCHNEIDER: Just this week, the Senate voted 67-29 to allow visitors to national parks to carry concealed weapons. In February, the new attorney general said...

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There are just a few gun- related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons.

SCHNEIDER: The response?

WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE V.P., NRA: Well, I think it's great that 65 Democrats wrote Attorney General Holder after he said he wanted to send that phony assault weapons ban back up on Capitol Hill, and said don't send this phony stuff up here. You ought to be enforcing the laws you have.

SCHNEIDER: Mr. Holder this week...

HOLDER: We want to enforce the laws that we have on the books.

SCHNEIDER: Why isn't gun control advancing? The election rallied gun owners.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've seen an increase in gun sales, and actually people coming through the door, ticket sales at the gun shows since October, the beginning of October. I think people saw the writing on the wall.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats have been making gains in a lot of conservative areas where gun owners are a powerful force to defend the Second Amendment. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have proven over and over and over again, election time, they'll go to the polls and defend it against politicians that try to take it away from them.

SCHNEIDER: What do Democratic legislators have to fear? Fear itself.

HENIGAN: It's all about generating fear among gun owners that somehow President Obama and the federal government are coming after their guns.


SCHNEIDER: The Democratic Party has been growing, and when a party is growing, what does it need? A bigger tent -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Bill.

It is a troubling story that could have had deadly consequences. It involves a group of American contractors in Afghanistan. They allegedly shot and injured Afghan civilians. Now the U.S. military wants to know if those contractors were drinking just before.

And the blood of young Americans spilled in the streets of Mexico. They were beaten, strangled, then dumped in a van. Are they victims of the violent drug war?




Happening now, the police warnings aren't working. Protesters are so angry about President Obama's appearance, they're willing to be arrested. And the president's appearance, well, that is still days away.

Plus, a city with an intern scandal that's got a whole lot of attention. Why what the mayor said about his relationship could get him kicked out of office.

And listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan -- thousands of inmates freed, the famous San Quentin Prison sold. All to save some money?

Well, Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can't escape a barrage of questions and skepticism about her bombshell claim, that she was misled by the CIA back in 2002. Well, the debate over alleged torture in the Bush administration now turning into a firestorm over what Pelosi knew and when. Now the CIA director, Pelosi's former colleague in Congress, is now weighing in. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, s he has been digging into this story.

Tell us, Dana, what is Leon Panetta saying about all of this, as you know, you had pressed yesterday very strongly?


Well, what Leon Panetta has done he's written a memo for CIA employees, but in it he definitely had a message for Speaker Pelosi. And basically, he said that despite what she said yesterday, CIA officials did tell her the truth in her briefing.

And I'll read you some of what he said in this memo.

He said, "Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against your laws and our values." And he went on to say, "My advice, indeed my direction to you, is straightforward: ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission."

But Suzanne, the CIA director is trying to turn down the volume there over at the agency. The problem is that on Capitol Hill, the volume is still cranked.


BASH (voice-over): CNN has learned that in this secure Capitol location sit newly-delivered, highly-classified notes from Nancy Pelosi's September, 2002 CIA briefing. The speaker wants the notes declassified because she says they prove she was not told that harsh techniques like waterboarding were used.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: The only mention of waterboarding at that meeting was that it was not being employed.

BASH: But the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee has now read the classified notes from that briefing and insists to CNN she's wrong.

"The record shows Speaker Pelosi was briefed that the techniques were used on Abu Zubaydah," Senator Kit Bond said in a statement. That appears to back up CIA records declassified last week which say on September 4, 2002, Pelosi and Republican Porter Goss were briefed on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, or "... EITs, including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background authorities, and a description of the particular EITS that had been employed."

Zubaydah had been waterboarded 83 times a month earlier.

Amid the confusion and contradiction about what Congress was really told, what has emerged is a remarkably partisan divide among lawmakers who were briefed. In the Senate, Republican Richard Shelby and Democrat Bob Graham also attended a September, 2002 CIA briefing. They were together, but have very different accounts. Through a spokesman, Shelby says CIA officials gave them a full account of harsh techniques, and "... they also described the need for these techniques and the value of the information being obtained from terrorists during questioning."

But Graham insists they were told nothing about waterboarding or other harsh tactics.

BOB GRAHAM (D), FMR. SENATE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: The briefing was done at a relatively low level of classification and did not get into these more sensitive areas of torture, or the application of techniques to specific detainees.


BASH: Now, there are apparently no verbatim transcripts of these 2002 classified briefings, and some sources familiar with the notes taken say they are ambiguous. So even if they are declassified, it may not clear up the stark differences, Suzanne, between what the Democrats and Republicans who were briefed recall being told about the tactics like waterboarding.

MALVEAUX: And Dana, we know that Pelosi and Panetta, they used to be close allies at one point. Do we have any sense of whether Madame Speaker is going to have a reaction to what Panetta has said today?

BASH: We do, actually, expect that she will have some kind of statement coming out in the near future, at least this afternoon. That's what our Deirdre Walsh, our house producer, is being told. But it is sort of noteworthy that Leon Panetta is making this statement.

You're right, they did serve together, they were both members of Congress from California. But it was very clear from the minute the speaker said yesterday that the CIA lied to her that there was a lot of discord at the CIA. And clearly, Leon Panetta, the CIA director, felt the need to have a little morale boost, and that is what this memo that he sent to his employees over there today was intended to do. And it did have a little bit of a dig at the speaker, saying that, you know, as far as they're concerned, their records do show that she was told the truth.

MALVEAUX: Sure, a -- a significant development.

Thank you so much, Dana.

New questions about security in Afghanistan and the behavior of contractors hired by the U.S. military. An investigation into a shooting incident is under way right now.

Here's our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, a senior source in the contracting industry tells us these contractors involved were off-duty and drinking before this incident happened.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Moore troops are heading to Afghanistan, and more contractors, too. Now the U.S. military is investigating a group of contractor who shot and wounded two Afghan civilians.

The four security contractors got into an accident in Kabul. The military says, while they were stopped with their vehicle, another car drove up, and the contractors felt threatened. They opened fire and shot the Afghans.

CNN has learned the contractors worked for a company called Paravant, owned by the same man who founded Blackwater, a security company banned by the Iraqi government. So, even before this latest incident, contractors had been criticized.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: It's like the Wild, Wild West the way these contractors have been operating during our conflict in Iraq.

LAWRENCE: The Army recently contracted armed guards to protect some of its forward bases in southern Afghanistan. In December, Senator Carl Levin warned the Pentagon against it and asked Secretary Robert Gates to -- quote -- "direct the Army to suspend its efforts to enter the proposed contract until it could be reviewed."

Gates said no.

BROWNING ROCKWELL, PRESIDENT, HORIZON TRADEWINDS: There is a security program in Kabul, but I think we also -- sometimes, we overreact.

LAWRENCE: Browning Rockwell has been a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, and says, some other contractors aren't properly trained to interact with the Afghan people.

ROCKWELL: There are people working out there that probably shouldn't be working in that business.


LAWRENCE: Now, the company has said the four contractors failed to follow their own regulations. The company has terminated the contracts of those contractors and ordered them not to leave Afghanistan without the military's permission -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: So, Chris, what do we know about these guys, who these contractors were, what they were doing there?

LAWRENCE: Well, the company won't release identities while their own investigation is going on. But we are told all four are veterans of the U.S. military, that they had been in Afghanistan about six months, working to support a training mission.

And we're told by an industry source that all four were on their first deployment with the company.

MALVEAUX: OK, Chris, thank you.

Well, a 13-year-old boy could die. Who should have the right to decide his medical treatment? Well, right now, the parents' wishes are up against what the government thinks is best.

Well, we have heard it all -- a recording of a frantic 911 call, but could replaying those calls make crime victims reluctant to call 911?


MALVEAUX: Right now, a 13-year-old boy's life hangs in the balance. He's afflicted with a potentially deadly disease. His parents picked treatments hoping to save him, but the government says that could put him in even more danger. So, a court decides medical treatment for the boy. It is a matter of life and death that no parent ever wants to face.

Here's CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, this is a classic example of a dispute between the rights of parents and the obligations of the courts to protect children.

(voice-over): If it were up to Daniel Hauser's parents, the cancer spreading through his body would not be treated with chemotherapy or radiation.

Thirteen-year-old Daniel did get one round of chemo, which doctors was working well against his Hodgkin's lymphoma, but his parents said they wanted no more.

Colleen and Anthony Hauser want alternative treatments for their son, treatments recommended by this organization called the Nemenhah Band, a self-described Native American group advocating what they call natural healing.

COLLEEN HAUSER, MOTHER: We're a simple, honest family. We're not out to harm anybody. We never -- this is just our way of life. And why people want to infringe on it, I don't know.

COHEN: Friday, a Minnesota judge ordered Daniel Hauser to get care from an oncologist, saying that Daniel had been medically neglected. Oncologists typically have a 90 percent success race against Daniel's type of canner.

In a statement, an attorney for Daniel's parents said they disagreed with the ruling. "The Hausers believe that the injection of chemotherapy into Danny Hauser amounts to an assault upon his body and torture when it occurs over a long period of time."

The Hausers said they prefer to treat their son with a natural diet, sweat lodges, and other alternative remedies.

But prosecutors in Minnesota argue that, without chemo and radiation, Daniel would almost certainly die.

JAMES OLSON, ATTORNEY: The compelling interest here is the protection and welfare of children.

COHEN: Medical ethicists say parents generally do have a legal right to make decisions for their children, but there's a limit.

DR. ARTHUR CAPLAN, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA CENTER FOR BIOETHICS: Well, the presumption is that parents do have a right to control the medical care of their children, but they don't have that right, or it can be, if you will, curtailed, if they are doing that really puts the life of their child at risk.

COHEN: The family's attorney said Daniel Hauser is abiding by the court order.

(on camera): The Hausers have four days to select an oncologist for their son -- Suzanne.


MALVEAUX: Thank you.

Well, they were beaten, strangled and then dumped in a van, four young Americans, their blood spilled in the streets of Mexico. Now their discarded bodies is inflaming a huge mystery.

Let's go straight to our Brian Todd.

And, Brian, I know you have some details about this.


And you know, of course, millions of Americans go to Tijuana every year, the majority of them tourists. Now authorities there are trying to reassure potential visitors after the murders of four young Americans, two of them from nearby Chula Vista, California, murders that are now provoking many more questions than answers.


TODD (voice-over): An official with the attorney general's office in Tijuana tells CNN authorities there are investigating possible drug trafficking connection in the killings of four Americans.

Their bodies were found inside a van on this street in Tijuana last Saturday. The attorney general's office tells us, the four were beaten, strangled, with traces of tape on their wrists and ankles. A CNN affiliate reports a pool of blood spilled from the van, the victims identified as 19-year-old Brianna Hernandez and 20-year-old Carmen Ramos of Chula Vista, California, 23-year-old Oscar Garcia of Nestor, California, and 21-year-old Luis Games.

One reason authorities suspect a drug connection?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We arrived at the conclusion that one of the tests was positive in one of these murders.

TODD: An official in Tijuana tell us traces of cocaine were found in Brianna Hernandez's body.

But the official also says they're investigating whether the killings could be connected to the possible relationship of one of the victims with someone serving jail time in the U.S. on drug charges. That official did not say which victim that was. Asked about reports of a threatening note found with the bodies, a police official says that's also part of the investigation.

Tijuana is one of the most violent cities in this border region savaged by drug violence. But authorities say criminal activity has dropped in recent months, after a spike last year, and they are trying to reassure potential visitors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's safe. But, sometimes, it is difficult, because if you are related with drugs, it's unsafe.


TODD: Now, authorities tell us they are still actively pursuing this case, but nearly one week after the bodies were discovered, one official tells us they have no suspects -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Brian, I understand you have new details that you're learning from the police in California?

TODD: That's right. I just got off the phone with a police official in Chula Vista, California.

He says that the two young women, Brianna Hernandez, Carmen Ramos, were last seen leaving a house in Chula Vista on Thursday. He says the following evening, their families filed a missing-persons report, after either one or both of the women failed to answer their cell phones.

It's interesting in that it may put together a timeline. Now, the bodies were found Saturday afternoon in Tijuana. It looks like, maybe, based on the timeline of the cell phone calls and everything, these young people could have been killed on Friday.

MALVEAUX: OK. Brian, thank you so much.

Turning to another situation involving emergency 911 calls. Well, does replaying these desperate calls of crime victims, does it actually deter victims from calling in the future?

Our CNN's Carol Costello reports on this raging debate.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is no doubt

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were physically fighting with each other.


COSTELLO: ... that broadcasting 911 calls is quite effective in exposing operators who make mistakes while handling emergencies.

CNN aired this call from a frightened Texas parent in 2005.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they're 12 and almost 14. And the 12- year-old is completely out of control. And I -- I can't -- physically, she's as big as I am, I can't control her.

911 EMERGENCY OPERATOR: OK. Did you want us to come over and shoot her?


COSTELLO: The operator later apologized for what he called a joke, and was reprimanded.

But was it really necessary for the public to hear his faux pas on TV? Ohio State lawmaker Senator Thomas Patton says, no, it wasn't. He has now introduced a bill that prohibits radio, television and the Internet from playing a recording of 911 calls, but does allow broadcasters to read a transcript of the calls.

Violate the law, and get slapped with a 10,000 fine. Patton also believes airing audio of 911 calls makes people afraid to call 911 to report crime, because the bad guy might recognize their voice.

TOM PATTON, OHIO STATE SENATOR: We have to develop the mind-set where people can trust that they can contact their law enforcement and not run the risk of having themselves set upon in a revenge vote.

COSTELLO: According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, about two dozen states already restricts or ban public access to 911 tapes, among the most restrictive, Rhode Island, Wyoming, and Minnesota.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: There's a clear tradeoff here between the individual who calls' right to privacy and the public's right to know whether the 911 system is working properly.

COSTELLO: Others say, 911 recordings should be public. It's the only way reporters can investigate wrongdoing. And they say written transcripts often don't tell the whole story.

It's one thing for a reporter to read the words, "The bed is on fire"; it's another to hear a victim saying those words.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bed is on fire!


COSTELLO: That caller, a disabled woman, was put on hold by 911 operators. She later died in the fire.

(on camera): If someone wants to hear a 911 tape and broadcast it in states where it's not allowed, they have to take it to court, and they often win. But, as you know, that takes time.

Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.


MALVEAUX: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's attempt at damage control, well, it seems to be backfiring, big-time. In our "Strategy Session," the firestorm over her claim that she was misled by the CIA.

And Defense Secretary Robert Gates admits he doesn't like his job -- why his honesty may not have been the best policy.


MALVEAUX: Well, it was questions from our CNN senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, that have touched off a heated back-and-forth on who knew what and when about those CIA interrogation tactics.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she was misled by the CIA, and now the CIA and Republicans are firing back.

Well, joining us for today's "Strategy Session" are CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen and Republican strategist Frank Donatelli.

I want to start off first by showing you this extraordinary exchange that really seemed to move this story forward between Speaker Pelosi and our own Dana Bash.


BASH: In that press conference, we were all clearly trying to get at the broader question of whether -- whether you knew about water-boarding at all. And the -- the idea that we got from you was that you were never told that water-boarding was being used.

But now we know that, later, in February, you were told.


BASH: It wasn't in that briefing, but you were told. So...

PELOSI: No. By the time we were told, we are finding out that it's been used before. You know, in other words, that was beyond the point.


BASH: But why didn't you tell us at that original press conference...

PELOSI: But I told you what my briefing was. And our briefing was...


BASH: ... press conference, that you had been told, just not at that particular briefing.


BASH: You seemed very adamant that you didn't know that water- boarding was used.

PELOSI: No, that is right.



So, a lot of people, they look at that, and they say, this is somewhat confusing, at best? But does it matter, Hilary, that she knew, but she wasn't necessarily briefed specifically about it, but she knew through an aide that it was happening? Does this damage her credibility here?


First of all, she's the speaker of the House and extremely popular. Let's put this in context. A week ago, the vice president of the United States said on national TV that he and the president authorized torture, that they authorized water-boarding, they knew it was happening, and they -- and, yet, it was against international law, it was against U.S. statute.

And now we're talking about what the speaker might have known in 1990 -- whether she got briefed in 2003 or 2002? It's completely irrelevant. She wasn't in charge then.

And now what she says is: They told us they thought they had the authority to do it. When we found out they were doing it, Democratic intelligence, Congress folks, raised objections, and then -- but they weren't in power. The only they could do was take over the -- the Congress. And that's what we have done.

And now this has all come to light, because Democrats have taken over, and she's the speaker.

MALVEAUX: Does it matter?

FRANK DONATELLI, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Of course it matters. This segment is about Nancy Pelosi. It's not about Dick Cheney. There's two things that the speaker cannot deny. Number one, she knew about water-boarding. And kudos for Dana Bash for trying to drive her out on this.

Whether she knew about it in September of 2002 or February of 2003, when she now admits she knew about it, it's irrelevant. She knew about it.

Secondly, when she first knew about it...

ROSEN: Does she -- did she have the power to change it? Did she have the power to do anything about it?

DONATELLI: That's irrelevant. Why didn't she try?


ROSEN: No. Nancy Pelosi was the biggest advocate against the war of anybody.

DONATELLI: Why didn't she try?


DONATELLI: By her own admission, she did nothing, Hilary. She did nothing. She used it for political purposes.

ROSEN: By her own admission, she asked the Democratic leader of the House Intelligence Committee to register objections, which is what they did. And they have now said that is what they did.

DONATELLI: OK, well, let me pick up on what you said. There was nothing we could do. All we could do would be to use it as a political issue to change Congress.

Is that the way she views her role as a member of Congress? Aren't there some national security considerations here that override politics?

ROSEN: Speaker Pelosi right now is in this position essentially saying, let's not prosecute the Bush holdovers. Let's not -- and the Bush era folks. Let's find out what happened.

But she came out right after the Democrats took control of the Congress and took control of the White House and said, you know, let America move on. Let's move on. I don't want to go on this.

DONATELLI: Because of politics.


ROSEN: And now, if I were her, I would take every Republican involved, all of those lawyers at the Justice Department and the CIA, and haul their butts to Congress and prosecute.


ROSEN: ... guys are doing to her.

DONATELLI: She said, "I -- I used this for political purposes."

ROSEN: No, she did not say that.

DONATELLI: She used a national security statement to behave more like the chairman of the Democratic National Committee than the speaker of the House.

MALVEAUX: Political fallout here. Let's take a listen here. This is Newt Gingrich on ABC Radio.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: She is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowest of purposes. And she dishonors the Congress by her behavior.

And the fact is, she either she didn't do her job, or she did do her job, and she is now afraid to tell the truth. Speaker Pelosi is the big loser, because she either comes across as incompetent or dishonest. Those are the only two defenses she's got.


MALVEAUX: Tell us why she's...


ROSEN: ... must think the Congress has amnesia, that Newt Gingrich, who was run out of the House, and violated House ethics rules, and paid fines, and had the resign in disgrace, all of a sudden, is -- is opining on whether Nancy Pelosi a good speaker.

It -- what she has consistently said is, the -- the CIA and the Bush administration led us to war under false pretenses. Now we're going say that -- that, just because the Democrats were told at the time of what they said, that, all of a sudden, it's Nancy Pelosi that was responsible for the lies for the last eight years?

No, not going to happen. This thing is not going to work of you guys blaming the speaker for this.


DONATELLI: In 2002, when the country was worried about another terrorist attack, and there were all sorts of reports flying around, she kept quiet. She knew about this policy. She did absolutely nothing about it.


DONATELLI: Later on, when the country turned against the Bush administration, she saw fit to use this for political -- politics is the one constant in this as far as her behavior is concerned.

MALVEAUX: All right, let's move this forward here, because, obviously, the news is, the CIA director, Leon Panetta, who is an ally of Pelosi, comes out with this statement today. He says: "The political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress. Let me be clear. It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the agency indicated previously in response to congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that the CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing the enhanced techniques that had been employed."

Hilary, how much of this is a problem? I mean, you expect Gingrich, obviously, is going to be critical of Pelosi. But this is an ally. This is a Democratic ally, who is saying, essentially, that she's not telling the truth.

ROSEN: Well, he's not saying she is not telling the truth.

What he is saying is that the CIA briefed Congress truthfully. And what Nancy Pelosi has said is that -- that the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee were briefed. So, it's not a direct contradiction,.

What he's doing there is bucking up the troops, because now he's got to face a CIA that has been completely demoralized over the last eight years, that actually did get encouraged to mislead the American people and send us into war. And he's got to now resurrect that agency.

I didn't see anything in that statement that was a putdown to Nancy Pelosi.

MALVEAUX: Frank, last words?

DONATELLI: I -- whether she knew about it in September 2002 or February 2003, she knew about the techniques. She did nothing about it.

And, by her own statement, she said all she could do would be to take over the House of Representatives, and then do something about it. So, she used it purely for political purposes.

ROSEN: No, to stop the torture.

DONATELLI: She behaved like a chairman of the Democratic National Committee, not like the speaker of the House.

MALVEAUX: I have got to leave it there.

Frank Donatelli, Hilary Rosen, thank you so much for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM.

DONATELLI: All right. Thanks. MALVEAUX: Well, President Obama is just hours away from giving the graduation speech at Notre Dame. And while the -- will the campus be packed with anti-abortion protesters, or will the controversy ease up once the president arrives? Well, we will be talking to students.

Plus, sex, lies, and politics -- voters move to recall their mayor over his past affair with a male intern.

And with security on track, Iraqis are riding the rails and reconnecting with their old lives.


MALVEAUX: Jack joins us again with "The Cafferty File."

Jack, what are you watching?

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: When it comes to water- boarding, whom do you believe, Nancy Pelosi or the CIA?

John in Virginia says: "We see a stuttering, stammering speaker whose story keeps changing vs. an organization dedicated to pursuing terrorists and keeping our country safe that has been clear and consistent from the start in its story. The simplest explanation is, Speaker Pelosi failed to disclose that she had been briefed that these techniques were being used as early as 2002, and assumed no one would call her on it. To believe otherwise is to purport a massive conspiracy in the entire CIA."

Martha in Alabama: "I believe Pelosi. Let's look at the ramifications. Pelosi is from a liberal district, won't have any trouble getting reelected. Even if she knew about it, by law, she couldn't do anything about it, except to write a letter, which would have been ignored by the Bush administration. Those at the CIA, however, can and should be prosecuted for torture and war crimes."

Gordon in New Mexico: Quote: 'Meanwhile, Pelosi finally admitted she learned that water-boarding was being used in 2003' -- unquote. She knew about the water-boarding at the very beginning of the Iraq war. And, for six years, she kept silent."

Joe writes: "Jack, you have to look at both parties here and see which one changes their story. The CIA has not changed in the slightest, but Pelosi's story changes every time she goes in front a camera and more facts come out. So, my answer is, Pelosi is lying like a rug."

Star in Ohio writes: "What the hell? We are on a witch-hunt here, using Nancy Pelosi as the scapegoat for water-boarding, when the commander in chief was the one ordering it? Have we lost our minds? Why is she the criminal in this case, when it was Bush and Cheney who authorized the torture of these people?"

And, finally, Doreen says: "Ms. Pelosi is the Democrats' worst nightmare. They need to get her out of there before she brings down the whole Obama administration. I would not believe her if she told me the sky was blue."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at, and look for yours there, among hundreds of others -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Jack.


Happening now: The man behind some very contentious health policies is tapped to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Will controversy follow him from the old job to the new one?