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They Think They Got Him; How Schools Can Fight the Flu; Starting Over in Detroit; When Town Halls Turn Ugly

Aired August 7, 2009 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: They think they got him -- U.S. Officials are increasingly confident that a top Taliban chief was killed by a U.S. Missile strike in Pakistan. His terror rap sheet is a long one and the death of Baitullah Mahsud would have a significant impact for Pakistan and for the U.S. War in Afghanistan.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, has been looking into all of this and he's got some more -- Chris, what's the latest?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, for folks at home who have never heard of this name or wonder why it matters, U.S. Officials say although Mahsud was the head of the Taliban in Pakistan, he had a huge influence in coordinating attacks on American troops in Afghanistan.


LAWRENCE: (voice-over): A bomb ripped apart the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. Pakistan's former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, assassinated on the street. And some attacks on American soldiers in Afghanistan. A U.S. counterterrorism official blames Baitullah Mahsud for all of it: "There's no doubt he has American blood on his hands." ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is an individual whose -- whose title as a murderous thug was well-deserved.

LAWRENCE: In March, the U.S. put a $5 million bounty on his head. A senior Defense official says Mahsud was watched long enough to develop a pattern of his activity. And there is growing confidence Mahsud was killed in an airstrike within the region of South Waziristan.

President Obama has authorized nearly as many unmanned drone strikes in six months as President Bush did all last year.

I asked a Defense official, will this strike give the U.S. leeway to conduct more?

He told me: "It gives us room with the Pakistani government maybe and allows a bit more freedom, but not with a people."

MALOU INNOCENT, CATO INSTITUTE: Certain officials within the Pentagon will begin telling the Obama administration this may not a -- an excellent strategy considering that we must win the hearts and minds in this region.

LAWRENCE: Analyst Malou Innocent says Pakistan still sees the Taliban as two groups, good and bad.

INNOCENT: The good Taliban being the militants who pour over the border and attack U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and those that tie down Indian troops in Kashmir. The bad Taliban are those that attack the Pakistani government and the Pakistani military.


LAWRENCE: She says the U.S. needs to keep cooperating with Pakistan, but realize that this one strike on Mahsud does not mean that all of America's enemies are Pakistan's enemy, too -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon for us.

We'll have much more on the fight against the Taliban and what's going on in Afghanistan. I'll be speaking with retired U.S. Marines Corps General Anthony Zinni, the former commander of the U.S. military's Central Command. That's coming up this hour.

Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee report they were treated humanely in North Korea and they believe that their medical conditions may have kept them from being sent to hard labor camps. That comes from Ling's sister, who spoke to CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."


LISA LING, SISTER OF LAURA LING: We know for certain that Laura and Euna never intended to cross the border when they -- when they left U.S. soil and...


LING: And Laura is actually very eager to tell the story of what actually happened. And I want to let her to do so. But right now, she's -- she's really just getting re-acclimated. The process has been slow. And, you know, she's still very, very weak. But -- but she is very anxious to tell the story.


BLITZER: Ling -- Lisa Ling, that is, also tells CNN her sister was allowed to call the family four times during her months in captivity and on the last, call specifically requested that President Clinton intervene. And he did. And he brought those two women back to the United States.

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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Apparently, Bill Clinton was the only guy they would settle for, North Korea. They wanted him to show up over there, I guess for the publicity and the -- the street cred they get for it.

BLITZER: That's what it -- it took to get them out of there.


BLITZER: It was worth it.

CAFFERTY: Nice move.


CAFFERTY: All right.

Americans -- this is actually not that surprising -- Americans are not as open to immigration as they have been in recent years. A new Gallup poll says half of those surveyed say that immigration should be decreased. That's up from 39 percent who felt that way just a year ago. Thirty-two percent say levels ought to be kept the same. That's down from 39 percent. Fourteen percent say immigration should be increased, and that's down from 18 percent a year ago.

Today's attitudes are similar to how the public felt during the first few years following the 9/11 attacks -- beliefs that had softened some since 2006.

The poll also shows 58 percent of Americans say that immigration is a good thing for this country. And that's the lowest percentage who have felt that way since 2003. Americans in the South are more anti-immigration than in other areas, although all parts of the country are moving now in the same direction on this.

Meanwhile, a group of Illinois Congressmen recently wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to work on immigration reform this year.

Just what he needs, to undertake immigration reform. He doesn't have enough to do.

They want a law to help keep immigrant families together, protect workers and provide what they call safe migration opportunities. Considering the mood of the country right now and the fact that millions of Americans are out of work, it might be a tall order to gin up a lot of sympathy for the millions of illegal aliens in this country.

Here's the question: Why are Americans tougher on immigration now than they were just a year ago?

Go to and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.


CAFFERTY: I would guess that's got a lot to do with it.


CAFFERTY: And just the general competition for whatever services are available now.

BLITZER: Tough economic times and yes... CAFFERTY: Yes, sure.

BLITZER: OK. Jack, thank you.

CAFFERTY: So maybe we don't have to do the e-mails.



BLITZER: That's just me, you know, one -- one viewer.


BLITZER: All right, thanks.

As students start heading back to school, government disease fighters are issuing some new recommendations for dealing with the expected resurgence of swine flu.

Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, has the details -- Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as any parent or teacher knows, schools can be, well, germ pits. So today, the Centers for Disease Control offered guidelines on how to keep kids safe during swine flu season.


COHEN: (voice-over): It's the first week of classes at Freedom Middle School in Canton, Georgia and Principal Karen Hawley has the hand sanitizer ready.

KAREN HAWLEY, PRINCIPAL, FREEDOM MIDDLE SCHOOL: We really wanted to make sure that we were doing everything to protect our students and our employees.

COHEN: Schools around the country are preparing for swine flu. Some 700 schools closed down last spring because of H1N1 outbreaks. Friday, the Centers for Disease Control issued these guidelines for schools. Students who've had H1N1 should only return to school when they've been fever-free for 24 hours. Schools should encourage hand washing and respiratory etiquette, meaning coughing or sneezing into your sleeve.

Also, it will be up to schools to decide if they want to close down. At the CDC news conference, they made it clear schools should do what they can to stay open.

DR. THOMAS REPUBLICAN. FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION: And it is now clear that closure of schools is rarely indicated, even if H1N1 is in the school.

COHEN: At Freedom Middle School, they already know what to do if a child becomes sick at school. DANA ODEN, NURSE, FREEDOM MIDDLE SCHOOL: The first thing would be to ask (INAUDIBLE) and I would have them to come into my office. And I would shut them in my office. And then I would use the phone from the front desk. And they would lay here until their parent comes to pick them up.

COHEN: They hope isolation, diligent hand washing and scrupulous disinfection will keep the virus at bay.

HAWLEY: If we were thinking of closing the school, we would certainly look to see that at least 10 to 20 percent of our population was out.

COHEN: At this school, that would mean about 100 kids sick with H1N1. The federal government hopes the vaccine will be available by mid-October and schoolchildren are at the top of the list to get it.

ARNE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: We have to prepare for the worst because the honest answer is we don't know how bad this is going to be.


COHEN: Wolf, these are the groups that will be first in line to get the swine flu vaccine when it comes out in this fall. First of all, pregnant women, anyone ages six months to 24 years old, parents and caretakers of babies under the age of six months, emergency and health care workers and anyone between the age of 25 and 64 with underlying health problems. The reason for these groups, Wolf, is that these folks are especially at risk for having complications from H1N1 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Elizabeth, thanks for that report.

The U.S. has put a $5 million price tag on his head, but that's pocket change for this fugitive, the Mexican drug lord. One of the world's most wanted men, he's also one of the world's richest. We have an extraordinary report coming up from CNN's Michael Ware. He's in Mexico City.

Plus, a health care town hall turns ugly.


BLITZER: It's still not pretty, but the latest unemployment report is better than expected. Two hundred and forty-seven thousand Americans lost their jobs last month. And that's the smallest number of lay-offs in a year. The jobless rate actually fell a tenth of a point, to 9.4 percent.

President Obama was quick to hail the improvement.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we're pointed in the right direction. We're losing jobs at less than half the rate we were when I took office. We've pulled the financial system back from the brink and a rising market is restoring value to those 401(k)s that are the foundation of a secure retirement.


BLITZER: Michigan has the nation's highest unemployment rate, mainly due to the sagging auto industry. Now, many laid off workers are trying to get retrained for other jobs.

CNN's Sandra Endo takes us through that process from Detroit -- Sandra?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tens of thousands of autoworkers who are out of a job are assembling a different type of line -- one focused on changing their careers.

But will there be a paycheck at the end?


KEN STAHOVEC, FORMER AUTO WORKER: Now, this doesn't look like your conventional wind turbine.

ENDO: This is where Ken Stahovec sees his future -- in renewable energy. But walk with him to his driveway. That's where his real love is parked.

STAHOVEC: Yes. This is a very important part of my life.

ENDO: Cars. He's worked in the auto industry for eight years, for a long time with General Motors. But like tens of thousands of other autoworkers, Ken was laid off a year ago and his first worry was getting health care for his wife and two kids.

STAHOVEC: Because I had a feeling that this was going to be bad. And I was right. It's real bad.

ENDO: They get by on his unemployment and his wife's job working at a veterinarian hospital. But with few jobs available in the auto industry, Ken's being forced to switch gears.

STAHOVEC: I just figured it was time I've got to learn something else, because the whole industry is going to change and it's going to stay changed.

ENDO: Ken applied to Michigan's No Worker Left Behind program, which helps retrain the unemployed by sending them back to school. He's taking classes in renewable technology.

(on camera): Is the stuff you're learning now, though, something that interests you or are you just doing it just to try to get a paycheck down the road?

STAHOVEC: You know, at first it might have been just a, I think, a new career to earn a steady check. But when you learn more about it, especially with stuff that could relate to cars, it does interest me more.

ENDO (voice-over): Ken is one of more than 81,000 in the retraining program which started two years ago. It's in high demand in the state with the nation's highest unemployment rate. Now, there's at least a month waiting list to get in.

(on camera): This community college is where Ken got his first degree in metals 24 years ago. Now he's back studying a completely different field. Let's take you to where his retraining program first started.


How may I help you?

ENDO (voice-over): Linda McLatchee (ph) oversees this bustling job center. People are working on resumes and attending job training workshops.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are the five case managers that you're here to see.

ENDO: More than a million resumes are posted on the state's online talent bank, with only around 20,000 available jobs. The state's retraining program will pay up to two years or $10,000 for schooling in emerging fields. But there's no guaranteed job. The bottom line is there are no jobs -- not enough jobs for everyone who's looking for one.

LISA OLSEN, MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF LABOR: The economy will change. The economy will turn around. And there are jobs available. You just have to be willing to get retrained and look at yourself differently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, fire that one up.

ENDO: Competition for jobs will still be a reality for many people like Ken.

OLSEN: And he took it upon himself, knowing that he had to make a change. It was not going to be status quo.

ENDO (on camera): And is Ken's story so much like a lot of these people that are coming in day in and day out?

OLSEN: It's very, very typical.


ENDO: State officials say they're planning to keep the No Worker Left Behind program up and running indefinitely. And they're asking Congress for nearly $60 million in more funding to help combat their unemployment -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sandra. Sandra Endo reporting from Detroit.

Thank you.

He's at war with Mexican authorities and the U.S. has offered a huge reward for him. But the fugitive drug lord remains in business and business is booming. His personal net worth is over a billion dollars.

CNN's Michael Ware has this story from Mexico City.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): This man makes a living mockery of America's war on drugs. He is Joaquin el "Chapo" Guzman, one of the world's richest men and Mexico's most wanted, with a $5 million U.S. government bounty on his head.

RALPH REYES, DEA: Chapo is the face -- he is the guy who is currently at war against the government of Mexico, against law enforcement and military forces.

WARE: At war because "El Chapo" heads the ultra violent, ultra lucrative Sinaloa drug cartel -- his exploits legendary.

"El "Chapo" Guzman, he's like a God in Mexico," says Antonio Ortega. "Nobody sees him, but he's everywhere. He's a myth."

Criminal lawyer Antonio Ortega is one of the very few Mexicans daring enough to speak of "El Chapo" on camera, having met the man himself while "El Chapo" was here, in Puente Grande Prison, before "El Chapo" escaped in 2001.

"When you sit with him," says Ortega, "you see a human contradiction. "You see a strong man, intelligent and sensitive at the same time," Ortega told me in this Mexico City park. "You don't see a narcotrafficker. You don't see a killer or assassin. He doesn't have scars. He doesn't have that funny face. He doesn't have it. He looks at you deeply -- at the eyes, like an x-ray machine. He can look right inside." an "El Chapo's" prison life, says the lawyer, was the stuff of legend. Nineteen days before his escape, "El Chapo" hosted a New Year's Eve party with another cartel boss.

"There was a band playing. There were ladies. There was alcohol -- all the best brands," Ortega told me. "It was like a party in one of the best clubs in Manhattan."

REYES: He has that Robin Hood persona in that he's constantly attending to the poor -- the needs of the poor and the people that surround -- that surround him.

WARE: On the run, "El Chapo's" business has continued to flourish and, investigators say, his orders followed. Ten months ago, this mutilated body appeared outside a Mexican police station -- the message hanging over his corpse signed in "El Chapo's" name. Many Mexicans believe "El Chapo's" whereabouts are no mystery. In April, this Catholic archbishop, Hector Gonzalez Martinez, pronounced "everybody knows his whereabouts except the authorities," claiming "El Chapo" is in these mountains in the country's north, not far from the U.S. border.

"El Chapo's" exploits continue to undermine Mexican President Felipe Calderon, especially when "Forbes" magazine named "El Chapo" 701st on the world's rich list, with a net worth of nearly $1 billion.

"We deeply regret what seems like a campaign against Mexico which has escalated," said President Calderon. "First, from public opinion and now even magazines, which are not only attacking and lying about the situation, but are also praising criminals."

This from a president who upped the ante in the drug war, sending over 40,000 Mexican Army soldiers into the streets of his own cities in a bid to crush the cartels -- a bid back by U.S. President Barack Obama.

OBAMA: It's important that the United States steps up and cooperates effectively in battling the adverse effects of drug trafficking.

WARE: That was back in June. Since then, the slaughter in Mexico has continued and "El Chapo's" drugs have continued to pour into America -- all the while with "El Chapo" Guzman remaining the face of an apparently unwinnable drug war on America's border.

Michael Ware, CNN, Mexico City.


BLITZER: An eerie connection between the gunman who opened fire at a suburban Pittsburgh gym and the two -- and the men behind two other mass shootings. We're going to tell you what all three of these men had in common.

And who was behind the attack on Twitter that left millions of Internet users unable to access the site?

The mystery may be solved.


BLITZER: Don Lemon is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM -- Don, what's going on?

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we want to update our viewers on this story. Eunice Kennedy Shriver is in critical condition at a Massachusetts hospital. A statement released by the family says that the 88-year-old Shriver is surrounded by her husband, five children and grandchildren, as well as her son-in-law, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In addition to being the sister of President Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver is the founder and honorary chairman of the Special Olympics.

The gunman who killed three women at a suburban Pittsburgh gym earlier this week bought gun accessories from the same company that sold weapons to the men who went on a deadly shooting spree -- shooting sprees at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University. The president of TGSCOM, Incorporated says gym shooter George Sodini purchased a Glock magazine and magazine loader from one of the dozens of Web sites his company operates. The Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois gunmen also purchased weapons' merchandise through a -- or Web site.

The first family is making a trip out West next week. The White House says President Barack Obama, the first lady, Michelle Obama and daughter Malia and Sasha will visit Bozeman, Montana; Yellowstone National Park; Grand Junction, Colorado; the Grand Canyon; and Phoenix, Arizona. The first family's trip is meant to encourage visits to national parks. But the president is also expected to hold some town hall meetings during his travels, Wolf. That is called what I would say is a working vacation and we're all too familiar with those around here.

BLITZER: Yes, a little business with pleasure. That's very good.


BLITZER: They'll take a private vacation -- just a little vacation -- at the end of the month.


BLITZER: All right, Don.

Thank you.

A disturbing mystery in South Florida -- the brutal slaughter of horses. We're taking a closer look at what may be behind this alarming development.

From the release of the two American journalists from North Korea to a Supreme Court nominee's confirmation, it was a big week for President Obama.

We're going to get Democratic strategist, Paul Begala, and Republican strategist, Leslie Sanchez -- we'll get their take on how the president fared.

And Secretary of State Hilary Clinton shows off some dance steps during her visit to Kenya.

Is it a sign she's in a comfort zone as America's top diplomat?



Happening now, an equipment failure that may have played a deadly roll in the deadly Air France crash and has occurred recently on at least a dozen other Airbus A330 jets.

How widespread is the problem and are airline passengers in danger right now?

Alabama's largest county is in a deep financial hole, causing budget cuts that the local sheriff says could allow criminals to run free. We're taking a closer look at what's happening in a special Broken Government report.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Democratic lawmakers are being hounded by protesters when they try to hold their town hall health care meetings. But occasionally these events can go off without a hitch.

CNN's Mary Snow tracked down two of these meetings and she's here to tell us what she found.

What did you learn?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we took a look at one in Maryland, one in Florida. One was set apart because it didn't end in shouting matches; the other stands out because it was so raucous.


SNOW: (voice-over): In Tampa Thursday, Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor tried to talk health care reform over the shouting.

REP. KATHY CASTOR (D), FLORIDA: We're not going to stand for the status quo anymore.

SNOW: But things quickly turned ugly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody back up.

SNOW: Castor was eventually escorted out. An early ending left participants frustrated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They think they're exercising their right to free speech, but they're only exercising their right to disrupt civil discourse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somewhere in a lot of the screaming back and forth, no one got hurt.

SNOW: Meanwhile, in Oxen Hill, Maryland, another health care town hall meeting took on a different tone.

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: What I'm going to ask you to do, though, is that you have to be respectful.

SNOW: Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards fielded questions from a mostly Democratic crowd. But it was not without critics, including one man who argued the system isn't broken. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a difference between broken and tweaking it. There's a small number of people in this country that are uninsured.

EDWARDS: The fact of the matter is that while the system may not appear broken to you, at a suburban hospital, it is broken for millions of Americans.

SNOW: As these forums draw attention, participants are receiving detailed instructions of how to act at the town hall meetings. "Responding to right-wing attacks in the field," reads this e-mail from a group supportive of the president's health care reform plan.

"Bring more people than the other side has to drown them out," it says.


SNOW: On the right, "Rocking the Town Hall's Best Practices" is the title of this circulating memo from a conservative activist, informing people to watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the rep's statements early. It's enough for one Democratic Congressman to say he's going to hold his town hall meeting by telephone.

REP. BRIAN BAIRD (D), WASHINGTON: We did not want to see this kind of mob action that we've seen thus far on either side. And I think it's time for cooler heads to say let's settle down and have respectful differences of opinion.


SNOW: That's Congressman Baird from Washington State. He's no stranger to town hall meetings. He says he's held more than 300 of them many the past ten years. But now he says he's received some death threats. He thinks right now he can reach more people through telephone hall meetings.

BLITZER: Death threats, really?

SNOW: He says that he's received them and he thinks -- he said that other members of Congress have also received them.

BLITZER: Wow. That's getting way, way too far out. Thanks very much.

The health care debate is really just getting started. How bad can all this town hall situation really get?

Let's talk about with CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Paul Begala along with Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez. Guys thanks very much for coming in.

How worried are you about what's going to happen over the next few weeks at these town halls, Paul? PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, there is real opposition to the president's health care reform. It's the hardest domestic issue -- except for race -- the hardest domestic issue I think in the last 75 years.

I think the problem becomes, as you saw in Mary's piece, when people take dissent, which their right at citizens, dissent is always patriotic. But then they take it beyond the limit which is they use that to sensor people -- to shout down other people, or God forbid, to threaten people's lives, as Mary reported about Congressman Baird.

That's where it goes too far and I think it's sort of self- defeating, frankly. I think the Republican conservative strategists who are putting out these instructions to go and disrupt other people's right for free speech are really hurting their own cause, frankly.

BLITZER: Is there going to be a backlash against Republicans, Leslie?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No. I think that -- let's be very clear. Let's frame this accurately. There's mud on both sides. You definitely have ACORN, you have some of the unions organizing these efforts. The DNC has put out papers and talking points.

This is not just some right-wing conspiracy. These are Americans who are using social media to get access to information to understand, in some cases more than these legislators do, about the health care and the ramifications.

What's interesting is, you know, we have counseled -- Paul and I working with members of Congress, you go out in these recesses, you have town halls and it's usually a one-way dialogue. I'm telling you what's happening in Washington. What has changed now, especially if you talk to places like new media strategies, these social marketing PR firms is that you have constituents who want to be have engaged, who have an opinion. And in some cases it gets out of hand but they want to be heard.

BLITZER: As long as it doesn't get out of hand -- Paul, as long as it doesn't get out of handle, it's ok.

BEGALA: That's exactly right. But this is where -- I think Leslie is not being fair. The conservative strategists have put out these memos saying to disrupt, to interrupt. I advise one of those unions, at least the Service Employees Union, I can tell you I'm certain they are not telling people to interrupt or disrupt or shout down their member of Congress.

They want to show support for the president's plan, that's good. Opponents want to show opposition, that's great, that's good too. That's democracy. It's the old line that my freedom to swing my fist stops where your nose begins. My freedom to speak out is how I earn my living. I'm a first amendment absolutist. SANCHEZ: You know what -- wait -- with respect to the Service Employees Union, let's also look at the fact that these folks are stacking the rooms in some cases.

BEGALA: Of course they are.

SANCHEZ: Of only supportive of the president. This is all campaign tactics.

BEGALA: Right.

SANCHEZ: That we all learn, you know, cutting your teeth 101.

I do say that it is organic in the sense that you have people who are getting that information that normally wouldn't have it.

And you can light a match but there has to be gasoline, there has to be intensity there.

BLITZER: Let me make a sharp turn to Hillary Clinton because she's in Kenya. She was in Kenya, and we have a video of her doing something unusual. Watch this.

All right. So, we don't have any music, but we do have the pictures. She was doing a pretty good job there. She seems to be really coming out on her own as Secretary of State, the nation's top diplomat, Paul. What do you think?

BEGALA: I've got to say I love it. And that shows you my total bias toward Hillary, who I love. I have to say, when I saw George W. Bush dancing with folks from Africa, I was appalled. So I'm going to be a bit of a hypocrite. But that's my bias, ok.

I love her. She's not only strong and smart, she can get down and get funky, God bless her, but I'm having a double standard.

BLITZER: You know, Leslie, last night we did our national report card. And it was interesting, nobody really got great grades, but Hillary Clinton got the best of the grade. She did better than the president. She did better than the Republicans in Congress, the Democrats in Congress. She did better than the news media. She got a C-plus, which was pretty good, certainly if you're grading by a curve.

SANCHEZ: Grading by curve. I couldn't get by with a c-plus, but I'll take that. As someone who has been a strong critic long time of Hillary Clinton, I do want to say, what's remarkable about this is this is somebody who was almost to the point of being President of the United States.

I like that she has a personality. I like that she was on a campaign drinking beer with the reporters. But look at the distinction tings of the Secretary of State when you compare it to somebody like John Foster Dulles -- somebody who was a Secretary of State that had prowess, power, influence. You don't see that anymore.

You don't see the stature of a Henry Kissinger. You see dancing. That juxtaposition I think makes it difficult in the long run.

BLITZER: Give her some time. She's only been in office a few months. We'll see how she does as she compares with John Foster Dulles.

BEGALA: I've actually danced with Hillary. I never danced with John Foster Dulles.


BEGALA: Hillary's actually quite -- she's a great dancer. She can cut a rug.

BLITZER: When he went in that diplomatic ballroom at the state department, he wowed everyone.

SANCHEZ: There you go. There you go.

Where should Michael Jackson be buried? The "King of Pop's" brother Jermaine Jackson talks about his wishes and draws some comparisons to Elvis Presley.

And retired U.S. General Tony Zinni, the former commander of the U.S. Military Central Command -- he talks to me about fighting the Taliban, but he also was supposed to become the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. What happened?


GENERAL ANTHONY ZINNI, FORMER CMDR., U.S. MILITARY CENTRAL COMMAND: I kind of feel like Charlie Brown. I went to kick a football and Lucy pulled it away.


BLITZER: A U.S. missile strike is believed to have killed a top commander in Pakistan. Baitullah Mehsud is suspected of dozens of suicide bombings, as well as having a role in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. What would the Taliban chief's death mean for the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban?

And joining us now, General Anthony Zinni, former commander of the U.S. Military Central Command, retired U.S. Marine 4-star general. He' the author of a brand-new book entitled "Leading the Charge: Leadership lessons from the battlefield to the boardroom." We'll talk about those lessons in a few moments.

General thanks very much for coming in.

ZINNI: Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Is this apparent assassination, this targeted killing of the Taliban leader in Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, is that a big deal or a little deal?

ZINNI: That's a big deal. The operations that the Pakistani military conducted, there have been some comments about the leadership of the Taliban fading back in the mountains, and they're not really getting the key people. So, this is a major I think positive for their operations and for the effect on the Taliban and their ability conduct counter-operations on the Pakistani military.

BLITZER: Because obviously the Taliban will name someone else to be in charge. Could that new person step up?

ZINNI: Well, it's problematic as to whether they could fill the same shoes. Mehsud was well-known and regarded in the ranks of the Taliban as a key leader. So, I don't think you're going to see an immediate impact that effectively counters the operations. I think it's going to be negative on the Taliban.

BLITZER: Do you like what you're seeing in Pakistan right now? With the Pakistani military, apparently the intelligence services, taking the offensive and going directly at the Taliban?

ZINNI: I do. I think the Taliban overplayed their hand. The people of Pakistan were upset at the atrocities and what they were doing in the Swat Valley and Bunhir (ph). And now they support and are fully behind the Pakistani military as is the media. and the government has gotten a little determination there now, and it looks like they want to see it through.

I would caution one thing. If they're going to have to stay up in those areas which they will for a while and garrison the military, repair those villages, bring home those displaced persons, it's going to cost. And their economy is not in great shape so, I think it's incumbent upon the international community to help support the post operations become would more important in the end.

BLITZER: Good point.

What about in Afghanistan? Do you like what you're seeing there? Because there are reports that the military desperately wants some more troops beyond the 68,000 that the U.S. already is committed to. Would that be wise to send even more troops into Afghanistan right now?

ZINNI: Honestly, I think we're going to need more troops. But I really would like to see NATO step up more to this commitment. You know, there's just a few of the NATO countries that have really committed troops to the fight. We obviously have the Brits and the Canadians, the Dutch and now the French, but there are a lot more countries and I think more troops. But we also put pressure on making them just not U.S. troops.

BLITZER: And Hamid Karzai is up for re-election, he's got the election coming up in a few weeks. Is he moving in the right direction or the wrong direction?

ZINNI: Well, I think there's been some problems with his governance. There's been charges of corruption and cronyism and other things in there. I think it's important for him -- should he be re- elected and it looks that way -- that he cleans that up because it's important to build that kind of faith out in the country side in the government in Kabul.

And if we're going to buy time with the commitment of our troops -- the three or whatever years necessary to build security forces -- the confidence is not only going to have to be in their capability but in the ability of the government to deliver to the people what they expect.

BLITER: How confident are you, General, that there will eventually be a stable and Democratic Iraq following the withdrawal of all U.S. forces?

ZINNI: I'm more confident now than I've ever been. I still think there are still challenges out there, but Dave Petraeus, Ryan Crocker, Ray Odierno have done a magnificent job.

I was out there a few months ago and went around and talked to Iraqis in the streets and to the ministries and our own troops and I think we're leaving it in about as good a situation as it possibly could be. It's up to the Iraqi government right now.

What I heard from the street is they want their government to be able to deliver the essential services: the electricity, to pick up the garbage, make the sewage system run. "I want to be governed in the right way. I want to have a say in what goes on." And the first election this year went off very well.

There's two more. If we get the kind of turnout and the positive results and the government can deliver, then I think we're on the right track.

It's going to be I think a close thing over the next year. They are learning how to govern, how to administer, allocate resources, build programs. And I would like to see an addition to our security assistance some assistance in helping that government learn how to do these sort of administrative things necessary to really bring the people around.

BLITZER: Early on, when the Obama administration came into power, you were told you were going to be the United States ambassador to Iraq and then all of a sudden someone else was named ambassador to Iraq. Do you understand even now these many months later what happened?

ZINNI: No, I don't. I kind of feel like Charlie Brown and I went to kick the football and Lucy pulled it away. So, I don't know what happened to this day.

BLITZER: Give me a lesson from the battlefield to the boardroom that's really useful right now.

ZINNI: Well, I think critically right now is that the new leadership, regardless of what field of endeavor, has to understand this very changed and changing world. It moves a lot faster. We have technology improvements. We have crisis and rising powers, migrations of people, globalization. So many impacts on everything we do in life. And I think the critical point that I make in the book is you better understand the world and adapt to it, whether you're in business or whether you're on a battlefield somewhere.

BLITZER: You have a lot more good lessons in the new book, as well. It's entitled "Leading the Charge: Leadership lessons from the battlefield to the boardroom;" the author, General Anthony Zinni. General Zinni thanks very much for joining us.

ZINNI: Thank you Wolf. Good to be with you.

BLITZER: Were millions of Web users paralyzed because of a hacker attack targeting one person? According to Facebook, yesterday's attack on Twitter and Facebook was a politically-motivated attack on a blogger in the Republic of Georgia.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. Abbi, who is this guy?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, he's a 34-year-old that we know just as George and somebody really wanted to shut him up. According to Facebook, it was his account that was targeted yesterday. He's a pro Georgia blocker in Tbilisi who tells CNN it may be his recent blog posts on subjects like accusing Russians of military aggression against Georgia that might have irritated some.

The Georgian government said there are suspicions that the attack came from within Russia and it coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Georgia/Russian conflict.

BLITZER: If this one guy was the target, Abbi, how did the whole situation got so messed up?

TATTON: Because he had so many accounts. He had accounts on Facebook, on Twitter, on Live Journal, YouTube. And according to Facebook's chief security officer, the hackers in a massive coordinated attack went after all of them at once in attempt to silence him and they ended up temporarily silencing millions of people.

Twitter said today that this was a geopolitical attack, geopolitical in motivation, but they wouldn't speculate on any more than that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi, thanks very much. Back to business, though, today.

A shocking story from south Florida -- horses stolen and butchered alive; what police think is behind these blew brutal acts.

And a disturbing new report about U.S. airliners experiencing technical malfunction; why aviation authorities may soon issue an order and how it could affect you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Now to a chilling mystery in South Florida. Someone is slaughtering horses. The National Humane Society is offering a $5,000-reward for information leading to the person or persons responsible.

CNN's John Zarrella has details and we must warn you that some of these images in this report are disturbing.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The dirt road leads away from the ten-acre pasture where Yvonne Rodriguez last saw her horse alive.

(on camera): Back in here nobody would ever have seen him. At the end of the road next to a palm tree is where Geronimo was found, what was left of him. Rodriguez got the call from her dad.

YVONNE RODRIGUEZ, HORSE OWNER: And he said, don't come, because it's not very nice.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Geronimo had been slaughtered.

RODRIGUEZ: Not only was my horse stolen, he was butchered. Ok, he was tied up to a palm tree.

ZARRELLA (on camera): So all of these were blood stains here?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes and that from up here to down there, but Geronimo is the type of horse that my goodness, if he had an apple in your hand, he was your best friend.

ZARRELLA: The meat had been carved from his bones.

This is part of Geronimo's mane?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, it is.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Animal rights organizations say Geronimo's death is part of an alarming growing black market for horse meat in south Florida.

Richard Couto examines the remains of another slaughtered horse. He's an investigator with the SPCA.

RICHARD COUTO, SPCA INVESTIGATOR: I found a puncture wound under the chin. The horse bled out; probably it took a while for this horse to die. In more cases than not, the horses are actually butchered alive.

ZARRELLA: Since the first of the year, 17 horses have been found butchered in Miami-Dade County, two more in Broward County. Police say they have seen cases of horses slaughtered for the meat in the past but nothing to this level.

While police can't confirm a black market exists they are pretty sure these horse killings were motivated by profit.

CAPT. SCOTT ANDRESS, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY POLICE: It appears as though the offenders' main goal was not the killing of the animal but that their main goal was whatever activity they were engaged in postmortem.

ZARRELLA: It's illegal in the United States to buy or sell horse meat, a delicacy in some Caribbean and Latin-American nation. Couto says it brings up to $40 a pound. But he says the buyers are paying a lot for meat that can make them sick.

COUTO: These animals, these horses see veterinarians on a monthly basis. They are being pumped with all types of drugs, antibiotics, steroids, tranquilizers.

ZARRELLA: The horse Couto examined had been led from its stall and killed a few feet away. Its foal in the next stall was left unharmed.

They are professionals Couto says in the way the horses are butchered and their remains hidden.

Yvonne Rodriguez can attest to that. This is part of the tarp they cover him with?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. And God help them when they find them.

ZARRELLA: The illegal buying and selling of horse meat has apparently gone on for years in South Florida. But no one has figured out yet why the sudden up-tick. Couto calls it South Florida's dirty little secret.

It's a secret no more.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


BLITZER: What a story.

A new twist in the death of TV pitchman, Billy Mays: an autopsy report just released says an illegal drug played a role.

And the brother of Michael Jackson gives his first interview since his younger brother's memorial.


BLITZER: The brother of Michael Jackson is speaking out for the first time since his younger brother's memorial service. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Larry King, Jermaine Jackson, talked about where he wants the singer to be buried.


JERMAINE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S BROTHER: I want him at Neverland. And there is a question; there is a question but still...

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Katherine, she is your mother, so can't you say, hey, mom?

JACKSON: I'm not the only one Larry, there are like so many.

KING: What does your mother say? Does she give you any hint?

JACKSON: Well, she's thinking about the -- I am most concerned about security and him being secured in a peaceful setting.

KING: So if you had public place it would be like having a Presley initially. They had to move Presley's body to Graceland.

JACKSON: Yes, yes, I am most concerned about that. But at the end of the day, she will make the final decision.


BLITZER: You can see the entire exclusive interview with Jermaine Jackson later tonight on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE." That begins at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Let's bring in Jack Cafferty for the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: I wonder when they'll get around to burying him.

BLITZER: Yes, they've got to finish the autopsy and there's issues there.

CAFFERTY: Ok, the question this hour is: Why are Americans tougher on immigration now than they were a year ago?

Richard in Kansas: "We are having trouble enough taking care of our own citizens; we can no longer afford to take care of the world's huddled masses. Illegal immigrants are the main problem. They come here as cheap labor and now that many of those jobs are gone they have become a burden. Round them up and send them home."

Bill in Michigan: "It's pretty simple from a historical perspective; whenever times get tough and jobs get tight, shut the door behind you and then blame the newest guy trying to get in. It is best to generate fear as a 'nativist' and forget the fact that he is self-motivated, pays taxes and creates demand in a consumer driven economy. We don't want to admit any of that. Also mom's the word about grandpa sneaking in here from Ireland. If it weren't for him, we wouldn't be here either in the first place with our sense of entitlement. What a country."

Maria in California: "Americans are sick of paying out billions of dollars for services and benefits to people who aren't supposed to be here. When I needed services, I was actually told that I'd qualify for more help if I were here illegally and had kids. In California especially everything is being cut due to the budget but illegal alien services, including health care, housing, food stamps, education, et cetera, are sacrosanct." Bob writes: "I'm a bit confused. Why are we referring to immigration reform as though it is not a violation of our federal laws? These are illegal aliens who come into the U.S. illegally. The immigration reform should only apply to the system that affects those who come here legally. Perhaps we ought to ignore some other federal laws, like say paying taxes."

Then Michael in Florida says: "Try unemployment, my son got laid- off twice in the last year. We see illegal immigrants taking jobs from people like him. I believe in the American dream but it has to be done correctly."

If you didn't see your email here you can go to my blog and look for yours there among hundreds of others -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Will do Jack, thank you.

And happening now, it could give every plane passenger chills. An AP report says that on several recent plane trips, there were serious equipment failures. What reportedly happened that may have happened on a plane that recently crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Blood, sweat, and tears, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about surviving incoming fire in the war over health care reform and predicts how the current battle might end up. It's a CNN exclusive you will want to see.

And a shocking development involving the death of TV pitch man, Billy Mays: officials now revealing something contributing to his death -- cocaine.

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