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THE SITUATION ROOM
U.S. Journalists Return Home; A Killer's Confessions; Getting Over the Shock of Captivity; Shouting Mad About Health Care; Like Old Times for Bill Clinton
Aired August 5, 2009 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee got their happy ending. But we're just wondering how much work went into making this happen. Along with a lot of risks and a lot of heartache, the two American journalists lived in fear for over four months had they wind up doing hard time in one of North Korea's notorious labor camps.
Instead, they wound up face to face with former president, Bill Clinton, who brought them home. This hour we're piecing it all together including the secret backdoor diplomacy.
First up, CNN's Thelma Gutierrez takes us inside the emotional reunion.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, 140 days without seeing their loved once. Then, at the crack of dawn in a private hangar, in a very public setting, two families are reunited.
GUTIERREZ (voice-over): It began at the crack of dawn with the dramatic arrival of a private jet. On board, 36-year-old Euna Lee and 32-year-old Laura Ling, overjoyed to be back on U.S. Soil.
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to welcome Laura and Euna home. We want to thank President Bill Clinton for undertaking this mission.
GUTIERREZ: It's the day they have all been waiting for for five long months. Finally, they see them, Lee's husband of 12 years, Iain, her parents, Doug and Mary, and her sister, fellow journalist Lisa Ling.
Laura says hoping for this day is what kept her going through her darkest hours.
LAURA LING, JOURNALIST: It is what sustained our faith, that we would come home. The past 140 days have been the most difficult heart- wrenching time of our lives.
GUTIERREZ: It was this embrace between a mother and child that captured the moment. Euna Lee's husband, Michael Saldate, said, while his wife was detained in North Korea, 4-year-old Hanna had been told mommy was away at work.
He said the separation was so hard on their daughter, she had recently stopped asking. But now mom is home. After all the hugs and tears, the man credited for his role in bringing about the journalists' release.
LAURA LING: suddenly we were told that we were going to a meeting. We were taken to a location and when we walked through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton.
GUTIERREZ: Ling didn't go into any details of her captivity or what she experienced. But, after the public reunion had ended, her sister, Lisa, talked to reporters at home and gave us a hint.
LISA LING, SISTER OF LAURA LING: The little bit that she was able to recount about her experience of the last four-and-a-half months has been challenging for us to hear, and, through it all, she has really maintained a sense of strength.
GUTIERREZ (on camera): Euna Lee and Laura Ling are now spending private time with their families. They say they are taking time to get reacquainted -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you.
For Euna Lee, this has been a terrifying introduction to life as an international journalist. She was on her first overseas assignment when she was arrested in North Korea in March. She worked mostly behind the scenes as a video and film editor.
She was hired by Al Gore's media company, Current TV, in 2005, only about a decade after she moved to the United States from South Korea.
Laura Ling went into this ordeal with extensive experience working as a foreign correspondent. She has reported on Cuba, the Philippines, Turkey, the West Bank, Brazil, and China all for Current TV. Before that, she worked on a documentary series for MTV and as a producer for Channel One News. Ling was born in California. Her family is originally from Taiwan.
Well, check out the plane that brought Ling and Lee home. It is owned by the wealthy Hollywood producer and Democratic fund-raiser Steve Bing. He is friends with Bill Clinton. There are reports that Bing also covered expenses for the round-trip flight to North Korea.
The company that operates Bing's plane says the FAA cleared the flight plane at the highest levels, because U.S. aircraft aren't usually allowed to fly to North Korea.
Well, now to the back story for all of this -- what Bill Clinton did and what the Obama administration knew.
Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian. And this has been going on behind the scenes for months.
Dan, what have we learned today?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really has been going on for months. And in addition to what we saw from former President Clinton, also former Vice President Gore, who these two journalists were working for when they were arrested, was actively involved trying to gain their release. But the White House here was really not saying a whole lot of anything.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I am just not going to get into that right now. I don't have anything more to add on this at this time. This was a private mission.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): But, in fact, the government was deeply involved from the start.
JACK PRITCHARD, PRESIDENT, KOREA ECONOMIC INSTITUTE: It was an official visit. It was sanctioned by the U.S. government. It was brokered behind the scenes by the U.S. government. This is in name only a private visit by the president.
LOTHIAN: A senior administration official says planning had been under way for months, but that the game-changer came in mid-July, when Laura Ling and Euna Lee told their parents during phone conversations of an offer from the North Koreans: They would be granted amnesty if an envoy like President Clinton would travel to Pyongyang to secure their release.
IAIN CLAYTON, HUSBAND OF LAURA LING: Well, what we did is obviously informed Vice President Gore and obviously the State Department of the nature of that call.
LOTHIAN: On the weekend of July 24, an official says national Security Adviser General Jim Jones spoke with Clinton about his willingness to take on the mission. The former president pressed for two things, clear communication that the mission would be purely humanitarian and that due diligence by the national security team would guarantee success.
"We were convinced this would be the result," said a senior administration official, "and based on that, we could advise President Clinton that his trip was going to be successful."
On Monday, President Clinton flew to North Korea, met with President Kim Jong Il for more than an hour, followed by a two-hour dinner, then got what he came for. With the two journalists safely at home, President Obama finally spoke.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank President Bill Clinton -- I had a chance to talk to him -- for the extraordinary humanitarian effort that resulted in the release of the two journalists.
LOTHIAN: The state-run agency in Pyongyang claims that former President Clinton apologized for the -- quote -- "hostile acts" committed by the two journalists. But a senior administration -- here at the White House says that that's simply not true and Robert Gibbs' spokesman also said that did not happen -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: OK, thank you, Dan.
Jack Cafferty joining us at this hour with "The Cafferty File."
Jack, what are you following?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: This is a little scary.
The number of Americans taking antidepressants has doubled in the last 10 years. A new study of 50,000 adults and children shows that about 10 percent of Americans -- that's 27 million people -- are on antidepressants as of 2005. That's up from 13 million in 1996.
The report in "The Archives of General Psychiatry" shows most of the people taking these drugs were not being treated for depression. Rather, half of them were using the medication for back or nerve pain, fatigue, sleeping problems, and other issues.
The study says more people are being treated with antidepressants, and they are getting more prescriptions. But the percentage of antidepressant users actually seeing psychiatrists, that fell during the test period.
This might be because insurance companies don't generally cover visits to the shrink, and it is cheaper for people to just get a prescription. Some think the increase is due to the fact that it is more socially acceptable now to be diagnosed and treated for depression.
Also, there are new drugs that have safer and fewer serious side effects. And during the nine years of the study, spending on so- called direct-to-consumer antidepressant advertising increased from $32 million to $122 million. Try watching a program without seeing an ad for prescription drugs.
Some people are concerned about the results, saying antidepressants are only moderately effective and that getting therapy can be more effective than just taking drugs. Also, there have been several public health warnings on these medicines, including that they increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in children and teenagers.
So, here is the question. What does it mean when more than one in 10 Americans is on antidepressants? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, and you can post a comment on my blog.
CAFFERTY: Twenty-seven million, that's a lot.
MALVEAUX: A lot of people.
MALVEAUX: Thanks, Jack.
MALVEAUX: Well, reminders of the Cold War. Russian nuclear-powered attacks submarines are cruising near the East Coast of the United States. Wait until you hear why Russia may really be doing this.
And confessions of a killer regarding the bloody rampage at a Pennsylvania gym. We are going inside the mind of the gunman. You might not believe the gunman was playing games on the Internet to reveal what he was going to do.
MALVEAUX: He was lonely, frustrated and hated women because he felt rejected by them, so he decided to unleash hell. That is the picture that is being painted by police, even from the gunman's own admissions posted on the Internet.
Right now, CNN is going inside the mind of a gunman to see why he walked into a Pittsburgh area gym with four guns and opened fire. And there is a twist. CNN is learning the gunman was playing games to reveal what he was going to do. Wait until you hear that from our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.
But let's first begin with CNN's Jeanne Meserve. She's at the crime scene outside Pittsburgh.
Jeanne, what do we know so far?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, as you know, three dead, nine wounded. And after a tragic event like this, there is always the question why. Well, in this case, the gunman, George Sodini, provided some answers.
MESERVE (voice-over): George Sodini was 48 years old and appears to have been a troubled soul long before his shooting rampage. At the scene, in his gym bag, authorities found a note.
CHARLES MOFFATT, ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: He complains about how he has never spent a weekend with a girl. He has never vacationed with a girl. He never lived with a woman. He has maybe had sex a few times in his life. And he goes on like this.
MESERVE: The same rage and frustration runs throughout a blog Sodini kept cataloging his thoughts and actions. "Women just don't like me. There are 30 million desirable women in the U.S., my estimate, and I cannot find one. Not one of them finds me attractive." He calls himself "totally alone, isolated." And he writes, "Thanks for nada, bitches. Bye."
JAMES ALAN FOX, CRIMINOLOGIST, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: There is this myth that mass killers just snap and go berserk and suddenly, without warning, shoot indiscriminately. Well, he had been thinking about this for some time.
MESERVE: Given his anger at women, there is a certain horrible logic in his targeting an aerobics room at a health club, where women would be plentiful.
MOFFATT: He just had a lot of hatred in him and he was hell-bent on committing this act. And there was nobody going to stop him
MESERVE: In his blog, Sodini calls his mother domineering, says his brother was a bully, his father was never there. But most of his anger is directed at women. And women were his victims last night -- Suzanne, back to you.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Jeanne.
I'm going to take us to Abbi Tatton.
And, Abbi, I understand you have an incredible development. You have been following this online. What did he put online? What do we know?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Suzanne, it looks like Sodini was teasing us to find this information that he posted.
I want to show you his Web site. The front page of it looks innocuous enough. It's got holiday pictures here. There's a listing for a used car that he was trying to sell.
But I want to show you this part here, where it says life or death. If you click on that, it takes you to a whole 'nother page. It asks you to guess the date of Sodini's death. He knew that would be August 4. He knew that would be yesterday. If you input that date, it leads you to this page that Jeanne was telling us about, this rambling page of information about exactly what he was planning to do last night -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Abbi, how long was this up there?
TATTON: That's pretty hard to tell. But what we have been able to find out is that Sodini appeared to be working on this in the hour before that he went to the gym. There are time stamps on this document and other places in the Web site, 6:07 p.m., 6:10 p.m. Police say that in the 7:00 p.m. hour, that's when he went to the gym -- Suzanne.
Thank you, Abbi Tatton.
Right now, two Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines are cruising in waters not far from near the East Coast. It is igniting reminders of the Cold War. But CNN is learning what Russia is doing may not involve antagonizing the U.S., as some fear, but it may be trying to send a message to other nations.
Let's go straight to our CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence.
Chris, what do we know?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the U.S. Navy is tracking these two subs through international waters, but this show may be designed for the eyes of other countries.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): On the surface, it seems threatening, two Russian attack subs patrolling a couple hundred miles off America's Eastern Seaboard. But dig deeper. This may be an elaborate sales cruise, the Russians bringing nuclear-powered submarines halfway around the world to show them off for potential buyers.
ERIC WERTHEIM, U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE: This particular submarine, the Akulas, were the same type that India is looking to purchase.
LAWRENCE: And the same type that malfunctioned last year, killing 20 people on board. Eric Wertheim works for the U.S. Naval Institute and wrote a book on the world's combat ships. He says, by sending subs to the East Coast:
WERTHEIM: They are showing, our submarines are still viable. Our ships are still powerful and this is why you can still view Russian weapons as something that you can purchase.
LAWRENCE: Russian subs haven't been this close to the U.S. coast in over 10 years.
GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: There is an effort on their part to project force around the world.
LAWRENCE: But the Pentagon says they are no threat.
MORRELL: I tell you nobody is alarmed by it because nobody is.
LAWRENCE: So perhaps this move is about making money, not war. For example, India used to buy patrol planes from Russia, but just inked a $2 billion deal for a version of this aircraft. The seller, American company Boeing.
WERTHEIM: Russia I think is understandably concerned that foreign customers are not looking to them anymore as a leader in the export market for weapons.
LAWRENCE: Well, a Russian general says that these subs are sailing in international waters and just part of a regular patrol. The Pentagon says there is no need to look at these subs and automatically see them as a threat -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Chris. Well, months of captivity silenced them from speaking publicly, but now they are free to tell their stories. You will hear more from the two American journalists freed from North Korea in their own words.
And she idolized a famous madman and aimed a gun at a president. Now the convict known as Squeaky is getting a new lease on life.
MALVEAUX: An extraordinary kidney transplant involving seven donors and seven patients.
CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us with the story.
Very fascinating, Elizabeth. Tell us about it.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, it was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle putting together these 14 people. But doctors say they did it and that the results have been stunningly successful.
COHEN (voice-over): Seven people all in desperate need of a new kidney, they all had someone who was willing to donate, a living donor, but none of them were a match. Waiting for a kidney from a dead person would have taken five years, time none of them had.
So, doctors in Washington came up with a plan, a kidney exchange, the ultimate matching game.
DR. KEITH MELANCON, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: The sacrifices that these people made, I really believe will never be forgotten because this will forever change our field.
COHEN: Here is how it worked. Elizabeth Gardner (ph) needed a new kidney. Her husband, Larry McPhatter, wanted to give her his kidney, but he wasn't a match. But Jordan Breaux (ph) was a match. That freed up Larry's kidney to go to Dachia Pinkard.
DACHIA PINKARD, KIDNEY TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT: I don't know what to say to Larry, who is my angel on Earth.
LARRY MCPHATTER, KIDNEY TRANSPLANT DONOR: I just want to say, it was (INAUDIBLE) for me to do.
COHEN: Pinkard's brother, Brian (ph), then donated one of his kidneys to Jacqueline Vaughn (ph), and so on and so on.
Doctors hope this mega-transplant will encourage other African- Americans to donate kidneys. African-Americans are more in need of kidneys than whites, yet there are fewer donors who match them. Plus, African-Americans have highly active immune systems that make them more likely to reject kidneys.
DR. JIMMY LIGHT, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: The real heroes here, as you know, are the donors. Any given donor may enable or allow many other people to be transplanted.
COHEN: Now, there is some controversy around this, Suzanne. There is no question that more donors are needed. However, there is concern that perhaps donors will be coerced into giving a kidney and that all the screening systems that are set up to make sure that doesn't happen, well, there are worries that those screening systems are not perfect -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Elizabeth.
Democrats are getting an earful from angry constituents who fear that health care will be ruined, instead of reformed. What is all this shouting about? And is it real?
And their nightmare in North Korea is over. But a painful readjustment is just beginning -- the trauma Laura Ling and Euna Lee may face now.
And see it for yourself at length, the raw emotion when those two freed American journalists returned home and the shock that is still sinking in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA LING: We were taken to a location and when we walked through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: It's the moment that many people had been waiting for and the moment two women will never forget. If you missed it or simply were heartened by it, we want to show you again the reunion among Euna Lee, Laura Ling and their families after being freed from North Korea's grip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA LING: To our loved ones, friends, colleagues, and to the complete strangers with the kindness of hearts who showed us so much love and sent us so many positive thoughts and energy, we thank you.
We could feel your love all the way in North Korea. It is what kept us going in the darkest of hours. It is what sustained our faith that we would come home.
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To the thousands upon thousands of people who have held Laura and Euna in their prayers, who have written letters and called and sent e- mails, we're very, very grateful.
LAURA LING: The past 140 days have been the most difficult, heart- wrenching time of our lives. We are very grateful that we were granted amnesty by the government of North Korea, and we are so happy to be home.
Thirty hours ago, Euna Lee and I were prisoners in North Korea. We feared that at any moment we could be sent to a hard labor camp. And then suddenly we were told that we were going to a meeting. We were taken to a location and when we walked through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton.
GORE: ... really put their hearts into this. It speaks well of our country that when two American citizens are in harm's way, that so many people would just put things aside and just go to work to make sure that this has had a happy ending, and we are so grateful to all of them.
LAURA LING: But we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end.
And now we stand here home and free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Well, amid the tears and joy, getting over the shock of captivity will not be easy for the freed journalists. THE SITUATION ROOM is taking you in-depth on this story.
Our Brian Todd is joining me now -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, those scenes we just showed were clearly unforgettable. But experts say it's a very uneven emotional ride after the crowds dissipate and the excitement dies down.
TODD: (voice-over): This part is pretty basic -- an emotional embrace between Euna Lee and her 4-year-old daughter and a comment from Lee's colleague about what they want to do next.
LAURA LING: We are just so anxious right now to be able to spend some quiet, private time getting reacquainted with our families. Thank you so much.
TODD: And that, experts say, is when the difficult work begins. Lisa Van Susteren is a psychiatrist who has dealt with sensitive family reunions.
(on camera): Is there a point when it's most difficult, when all the attention ebbs, in the days or maybe a week after the reunion, when all the cameras are gone and all the people are gone, when you turn to your spouse or your child or both and there's kind of just what now? LISA VAN SUSTEREN, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, yes because the -- all of the attention when you come back is a big distraction. So once that is pulled out of the picture, you really are faced again -- you and the person you were married to or you have been with all these years and had children with. And now you've got to kind of face the reality of what -- what have we got going forward?
Who am I?
What is my career?
Am I going back to my old job or am I now a person on a mission?
Have I been transformed by this experience and my spouse hasn't been transformed?
TODD: (voice-over): Divorce, Van Susteren says, is common among couples in these situations. Mark Gonsalvez, Tom Howes and Keith Stansell were held captive for five-and-a-half years by rebels in the Columbian jungle. In the year since their release, Gonsalvez and Howes have gone through divorces. Gonsalvez says he also suffered an initial physical reaction. After his first family encounter -- a meeting with his father -- he had a migraine.
MARC GONSALVEZ, FORMER HOSTAGE IN COLUMBIA: It was just the emotion, the joy that I felt and the -- the rush that I felt to cover so much lost time in such a short amount of time now. It was -- it was something that was difficult to deal with.
TODD: There seems to be no set formula for readjustment. After being in prison for eight months in Iran, scholar Haleh Esfandiari arrived home on a Thursday, returned to work the following Monday.
HALEH ESFANDIARI, AUTHOR, "MY PRISON, MY HOME": I had to prove to myself that my jailers did not break my spirit nor my will. I had to prove to myself that it was the old me.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: Lisa Van Susteren says the families of those who are returning have to be flexible. Families who do well in this period, she says, are those who take their cues from that returning person and go at their pace -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: What about military families, Brian?
Is their situation a little bit different?
TODD: Yes. Van Susteren says that some of the readjustments for them are very obvious, like if the returning soldier has an injury to deal with or some PTSD, that there's also a more subtle emotional adjustment for those people. They're no longer that crucial member of a team dealing with life or death situations. Many of them struggle with that when they return, and their families do, too.
MALVEAUX: OK. Excellent work. Excellent reporting. Brian, thank you.
TODD: Thank you.
MALVEAUX: The health care reform battle moves from Congress to communities across the United States. And town hall meetings on the issue are growing angrier.
But is the outrage real or manufactured?
Plus, former President Bill Clinton is back in the spotlight.
Is his successful mission to North Korea the start of a higher profile in the Obama administration?
MALVEAUX: We have new evidence that President Obama isn't making much of any headway in selling health care reform to the American people. Our new poll shows that the public still is basically split, with 50 percent supporting the president's plan and 45 percent opposing it.
Those numbers are virtually unchanged since back in June. Well, this helps explain why. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that 83 percent of Americans are satisfied with the health care that they now have. And 74 percent say they're satisfied with the health insurance they have.
Opponents of health care reform are making their opinions heard loud and clear. And we've seen some town hall meetings turn into some shouting matches.
Well, let's bring in the best political team on television.
CNN's Jessica Yellin is going to kick things off for us -- Jessica?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Suzanne.
You know, usually, politicians have to beg to get the media at their local town hall meetings during the August recess, but not these days. We are all paying attention because those rabble-rousing critics of the Democrats' health care plan are disrupting the events. And now officials Washington is at war over just who those disruptive critics are.
On the other hand, the White House has said the protests are organized and manufactured, not organic. The DNC is calling them mobs and has even launched this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their goal -- destroy President Obama and stop the change Americans voted for overwhelmingly in November.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will break him.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE TALK SHOW HOST: I hope he fails.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This mob activity is straight from the playbook of high level Republican political operatives. They have no plan for moving our country forward, so they've called out the mob.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And on the White House blog, they're asking supporters to send in tips when they hear so-called fishy claims about the health care reform effort.
Well, no surprise the Republicans are taking offense. House Minority Leader John Boehner says the Democrats are in denial because the protests are actually real. The RNC chair, Michael Steele, sees a more sinister motive. And now Senator John Cornyn has even upped the ante, Suzanne. He is accusing the White House of monitoring citizens' speech and has sent this letter to President Obama, asking him to cease and desist.
So the question is, are these protests spontaneous or organized and does it really matter -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: All right. Well, let's kick it off.
Let's start with Gloria Borger.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The answer is yes, some of them are real and some of them are manufactured. Look, you have conservative groups out there, Suzanne, who are against health care reform. They've learned that it's very easy to organize groups via the Internet. And they've told people to go to places and to disrupt meetings.
However, you also have some folks who really want to have a serious discussion about health care reform because they're worried about it. They're afraid that they may lose their health insurance or whatever their concerns are.
But I think the ones we're paying attention to are the ones where you have the hecklers and the people who are disrupting any kind of real and productive conversation.
MALVEAUX: David Frum?
DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: I think it's a completely unreal distinction. Whenever you do anything in politics, leaders all the time invite people to come out to events. Sometimes they come, sometimes they don't. They come when you have something that is exciting and important to them.
That's real. I mean the fact that somebody sent an e-mail around doesn't make it less real.
You're kind of left to think, well, what would a -- what a -- how do you meet the White House criteria for a real event?
That -- that said, I think that that DNC ad is one of the worst things -- one of the most foolish things I've seen. You do not get very far in politics by insulting the customers. People who come out and disagree do not become a mob just by virtue of the fact that they disagree with you.
MALVEAUX: David Gergen?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, I would disagree slightly with that. I agree that people are invited to town halls. And if people show up who are against what you're doing, that's part of politics. That's a normal part of politics, if people feel strongly enough to drive there and come to a meeting. That's just -- that goes with the territory.
What does not normally go with the territory is to be disruptive, you know, to try to drown it out and create a media event, in effect, that will be covered so that suddenly we get stories about three or four or five of these Democratic events are being disrupted.
That, it seems to me, is likely to be -- have organizational roots. And that there probably are people who are trying to stir that up.
BORGER: And what the White House is sort of hoping for is a backlash...
BORGER: ...the kind of backlash you saw when those folks...
BORGER: ...appeared at the McCain/Palin rallies and called Obama all kinds of names and finally John McCain had to say, enough of this.
And, you know, their -- their sense is that if this turns into the -- the mob, as they're -- they're putting in their ads, then maybe people who want a real discussion are going to react against it.
MALVEAUX: Well, do you think they're concerned?
Do you think the DNC is concerned that they're calling this -- these protests angry mobs?
Do you think that indicates some level of fear or frustration that their message isn't getting out?
FRUM: Well, you don't -- you don't say something as unwise as that when you're using your best reason. And you don't use your best reason when you're feeling confident and sharp. So, yes, something must -- must be getting to them.
I mean the core problem they have -- there's one other number that I -- that, in that polling that would have been interesting to see. And this is maybe the most lethal Achilles' heel of the plan. About a month-and-a-half ago, there was a poll where Americans were asked, do you think this plan will mostly help you or mostly help other people?
And by two to one, Americans are saying they think it will mostly help other people. And Americans are pretty generous, but they're not generous enough to give away their health insurance.
MALVEAUX: All right, we're going to...
GERGEN: Let me just add to this...
MALVEAUX: ...do a little bit more on the other end of the break, real quick, David. We're going to do a little bit more afterwards.
MALVEAUX: Let's cue it up.
It was like old times for Bill Clinton. It was a cheering crowd, a diplomatic challenge and, of course, the glory that followed.
But what will the former president do for an encore?
And do you think too many Americans are taking antidepressants?
Jack Cafferty is standing by with your e-mail.
MALVEAUX: We're back with the best political team on television and our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin.
YELLIN: Suzanne, remember all that election season talk about whether former President Bill Clinton could ever reclaim his legacy after some ugly skirmishes with the Obama campaign?
Well, what a difference a year makes. Watching Clinton's return with the two Americans today, it is hard to remember the bitterness of the election season when, back then, reporters asked then candidate Obama if the former president was getting to him.
Today, President Obama gave Clinton props in an interview with NBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY NBC)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The main message I wanted to send him was thank you on behalf of, obviously, the families, but also the American people, for resolving what was a humanitarian ordeal. You know, I think President Clinton showed that, you know, his service to his country continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: And there's no surprise that there is now a ton of speculation, Suzanne, about whether the Clinton mission to North Korea could be just beginning.
Will we see more of Clinton, the goodwill diplomat? The State Department spokesman says oh, that's entering the world of speculation, which is a classic D.C. dodge.
The question is, does this trip put Clinton's election season headlines behind him and will he become the roving peacemaker of the Obama presidency?
MALVEAUX: A great question.
Let's start with David Frum.
FRUM: Well, I -- I think this is a true emergency. I don't think you build patterns on emergencies. The question I'd like to know is that at what point does Barack Obama sit down with Bill Clinton and say, tell me about that centrist pivot you took two years in?
How do one of those, because...
FRUM: ...because the first two years of the Obama administration -- or the first year -- is looking uncomfortably like that first Clinton year. And maybe that centrist pivot -- maybe it's time for that.
BORGER: You know, I want to know -- the real question I have is in Bill Clinton's three-and-a-half hours of meetings over there, they didn't just talk about these two journalists. They talked about a lot of other things.
And what I want to know is what is Bill Clinton is going to do in the debrief over at the National Security Agency?
GERGEN: Well, that's what the White House would like to know, too.
GERGEN: I talked to people over at the White House today. I must tell you, Suzanne, that they feel very differently than the way the Clinton White House felt when Jimmy Carter went to North Korea in the early Clinton presidency...
GERGEN: ...when people at the White House were very uneasy -- in fact, had a lot tensions with Carter. These folks in the White House, today in the Obama White House, are very grateful. They think he handled it just right. You know, this was closely coordinated with Tom Donlan (ph) and...
GERGEN: ...Jim Jones and the NSC, this thing. They didn't know until late last week that this -- that they had the opportunity to go. You know, they've been working on this for a long time, but only last -- late last week did they find out. And they're sort of -- and they're now waiting for the debrief. They've had a quick read out, but they haven't had the serious debrief yet.
BORGER: You know, and -- and the interesting thing here, also, is Hilary Clinton's role in all of this, because it was clear from my reporting that she was suggesting other people...
BORGER: ...to go, including Al Gore. But they didn't want...
BORGER: ...which was appropriate. They didn't want other people. And then it was...
FRUM: The North Koreans.
BORGER: And then it was Jones who -- who spoke directly with President Clinton.
FRUM: ...the Americans (INAUDIBLE).
MALVEAUX: Did you guys notice...
MALVEAUX: Did you notice the pictures of -- of Gore and Clinton together?
It was almost like a bear hug, the two of them. And they seemed really -- a genuine moment of closeness, these two, after some -- some hard times between them. President Clinton didn't deliver the election to Gore, but he delivered these -- these two journalists.
Are we seeing kind of a new relationship, do you think, between the two of them?
BORGER: It's hard to know.
GERGEN: I think it's too early to tell. But I think it's really important to understand that, you know, that these two journalists, obviously work for Al Gore. And he's been trying very hard to get this done. And now here -- now here Bill Clinton goes and spends a couple days going to get them back. And I think Al Gore was deeply grateful for that.
I -- I was once in a situation as editor of "U.S. News" when we had a journalist seized in Moscow. Gloria will remember this.
GERGEN: Nick Daniloff. BORGER: Right.
GERGEN: And I'm telling you, when you have one of your own seized, you do everything you can to get them back and you're grateful to everybody in government who -- everybody who's going to come to -- to the -- to the aid.
This was a -- so this was a big, big thing, personally, for Al Gore. And I -- I am not at all surprised he hugged Bill Clinton and thanked him for it.
BORGER: No. And I think it -- it's genuine.
Whether it's going to bring them back any closer in the long-term, who knows?
But I would -- I would presume they're a lot closer now than they were a year ago.
MALVEAUX: All right. We've got to...
MALVEAUX: We've got to leave it there.
Gloria Borger, David Frum, David Gergen and, of course, Jessica Yellin.
Thank you so much for being with us.
FRUM: Thank you.
MALVEAUX: Jack Cafferty joining us again -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: What does it mean, Suzanne, that the use of antidepressants in this country has doubled in the last 10 years?
One in 10 Americans on them now. That's 27 million people.
Sam says: "It means the drug companies' business models are working."
Theresa in Montana: "Considering what this country's been through in the last decade, I'm surprised that more of us aren't on the happy pills."
Lili-Marlene in Waipahu, Hawaii: "As a person who's been on antidepressants and in therapy for over 20 years, I can say the drugs have become more effective and have fewer side effects. Mixing them with therapy has proved to be a life-saving method for me. We're talking about someone who becomes suicidal if I'm off the medications for three weeks."
Ike in Atlanta says: "It goes to show the problem with health care in America.
Doctors have to prescribe these drugs because they don't want to be sued for not doing so, even if the patient doesn't need them. The companies are happy because they make money. The insurance covers it because they, too, make money. And the patient -- he doesn't know any better. Most people on antidepressants don't need them. It's all a scam."
H. writes: "I've taken antidepressants off and on for after 30 years after suffering postpartum depression. I talked about my feelings to psychiatrists until we were all blue in the face, but nothing has helped except medication. I've led a normal, productive life thanks to these meds. I know they're over prescribed, but for some of us, they are a lifesaver."
Matthew says: "It means we should not allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise. Let the doctors tell us what we need, not those who are just trying to make a profit."
And Thaddeus in Milwaukee says: "It means 10 percent of us are nuts. I thought the number would be much higher."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile and look for yours there.
It's been a pleasure working with you the last three days.
MALVEAUX: Absolutely a pleasure, Jack.
CAFFERTY: We'll see you again soon.
MALVEAUX: We'll do it again.
CAFFERTY: All right.
MALVEAUX: Wolf will take some more time off, we think.
CAFFERTY: All right. You've got it.
MALVEAUX: Thanks, Jack.
In a day full of emotion, it is the one part of the story almost guaranteed to tug at your heart -- a freed American journalist reunited with her 4-year-old daughter.
But first, we want to bring in Lou Dobbs for "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou, what are you working on?
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Suzanne, thank you very much.
Coming up at the top of the hour, we'll have complete coverage of the Obama administration's role in the release of those two American journalists from North Korea. Concerns tonight that their release may make North Korea even more defiant over its nuclear weapons program.
Also, the White House and Democratic Party lashing out at the rising number of Americans who are criticizing the president's health care proposals. That battle can turn into a summer of discontent. We'll examine that in our Face-Off debate tonight.
And members of Congress facing new charges of hypocrisy -- spending $200 million on brand new private airplanes for themselves, months after blasting those car company executives for using corporate jets.
We'll have that special report, all the day's news and much more at the top of the hour.
Please join us -- Suzanne, back to you.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Lou.
And plus, after the quick break, new swine flu fears just one of today's Hot Shots.
MALVEAUX: Here's a look at Hot Shots.
In India, a child wearing a mask is carried as she waits to be tested for swine flu.
In Cincinnati, police and fire crews work together to clean up a white substance flowing out of the sewers.
In Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev visits a bakery.
And in London, the director of a new show, "Walking with Dinosaurs," poses for a picture before opening night.
This hour's Hot Shots -- pictures worth a thousand words.
Well, the ordeal of two American journalists held for five months in North Korea was wrenching for their families and perhaps most difficult for the 4-year-old daughter of Euna Lee.
CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a Moost Unusual look.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Getting a ride from dad, who was himself was shaking with nervous energy, peering like a deer in the headlights at humongous hangar doors opening to reveal a glistening plane that you're told is carrying your mother.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What really strikes me is just watching that little girl.
MOOS: The women coming home were the news, but the kid meeting her mom was the star.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their adorable, 4-year-old daughter, Hannah.
MOOS: Adorable Hanna, swept up by her mom, smothered with hugs -- three-way hugs, four way hugs -- her hair caressed while she, in turn, played with her mother's ponytail.
Where did she think her mother was all these months?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JUNE 2, 2009)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You just told her, what, that her mom's at work?
MICHAEL SALDATE, EUNA LEE'S HUSBAND: Yes, she's still at work. And so she knows that she's in China or Korea. She just knows she's at work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: Instead of clinging to a purple unicorn in her mom's absence, suddenly mom was there to cling to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, wow! Hannah sort of says it all, doesn't she?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) just to see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE VIEW," COURTESY ABC)
SHERRI SHEPHERD, CO-HOST: I just wanted to cry watching Euna see her daughter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: They nuzzled, they rocked, they whispered.
Will she some day remember she was smiled upon by former President Clinton, oblivious to the hug from former Vice President Gore?
She used to draw pictures starring her mother. But while her mom was away, she drew this.
SALDATE: She drew a picture and I was the center. And it was just her and I. She didn't include her mother, which really made me sad.
MOOS (on camera): Looking at from a kid's eye view, what is going through the head of a 4-year-old whose mother has disappeared for more than four-and-a-half months?
(voice-over): We asked a child psychologist.
DR. BRADLEY PETERSON, M.D. DIRECTOR OF CHILD PSYCHIATRY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: You have a lot of ambivalence around the absence of that parent. I mean you've been terrified that they may not come back. You've been angry that they've been away.
MOOS: And even the excitement of homecoming can be a yawn.
LAURA LING, JOURNALIST: We could feel your love all the way.
MOOS: When Hannah's mom was away... SALDATE: She was just -- like we're at home -- well, mommy will be home in a couple days or mommy will be home soon or I'll do this when mommy gets here.
MOOS: Well, she's here, forehead to forehead, cheek to cheek.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
MALVEAUX: Well, tomorrow night, we take note of 200 days in office for the Obama White House. CNN analysts and many of you will grade the president on the economy, health care reform, foreign policy and other issues that you care about. Special coverage of this National Report Card tomorrow, right here on CNN.
In the meantime, we want you to check out our political podcast. To get the best political team to go, subscribe at CNN.com/situationroom.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT."