Return to Transcripts main page


Investigation Launched Into CIA Interrogation Tactics; Did Overdose Kill Michael Jackson?

Aired August 24, 2009 - 18:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Did the chairman of Whole Foods bite the hand that feeds him by questioning health care reform? We are taking an in-depth look at the boycott of the upscale chain.

Wolf Blitzer's off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux in CNN's command center for breaking news, politics and extraordinary reports from around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, the Obama administration is launching a new investigation into the interrogation of terror suspects during the Bush era. The Justice Department has asked a veteran federal prosecutor to examine whether CIA tactics were illegal. Now, this report just released explains why.

It details dramatic examples of the way detainees were treated, including threats to kill the children of a 9/11 suspect. In the midst of all this, President Obama is creating a new elite unit to grill terrorists and guarantee that they are not tortured.

Our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, is with the president in Martha's vineyard.

But first I want to go to CNN's Elaine Quijano.

And, Elaine, what are we learning about this?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, as you noted, Attorney General Eric Holder has now asked a federal prosecutor to review whether interrogations under the Bush administration were illegal, and he says his decision was influenced by the newly released CIA inspector general report.


QUIJANO (voice-over): Interrogators threatened to kill the children of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The 2004 CIA inspector general's report, though still partially redacted, says -- quote -- "According to this interrogator, the 'blank' interrogator said to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that if anything else happens in the United States, we're going to kill your children."

The report also reveals a technique not previously disclosed, that an interrogator -- quote -- "reportedly used a pressure-point technique. With both his hands on the detainee's neck, 'blank' manipulated his fingers to restrict the detainee's carotid artery. 'Blank,' who was facing the shackled detainee, reportedly watched his eyes to the point that the detainee would nod and start to pass out. The 'blank' shook the detainee to wake him. This process was repeated for a total of three applications on the detainee."

And new information about a gun and a power drill used to scare Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, suspected of plotting the deadly bombing on the USS Cole -- quote -- "The debriefer entered the cell where al- Nashiri sat shackled and racked the handgun once or twice close to al- Nashiri's head. And later, the briefer entered the detainee's cell and revved the drill while the detainee stood naked and hooded. The debriefer did not touch al-Nashiri with the power drill."

The report's release comes after a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which called the details outrageous.

JAMEEL JAFFER, ACLU: If threatening a prisoner with an electric drill isn't torture, I'm not sure what is.

QUIJANO: In a letter to CIA employees obtained by CNN, CIA Director Leon Panetta noted the agency referred allegations of abuse to the Justice Department for potential prosecution.


QUIJANO: Now, also tonight, the Justice Department has just released these newly declassified documents requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney had requested them to illustrate successes during the Bush era interrogation program. We're still going through them, Suzanne, but I will just read a quick excerpt here.

It says: "Detainee reporting has helped thwart a number of al Qaeda plots to attack targets in the West and elsewhere. Not only have detainees reported on potential targets and techniques that al Qaeda operational planners have considered, but arrests also have disrupted attack plans in progress."

But, Suzanne, if you can see this here, most of this page is redacted. So, a critical question remains unanswered, at least from what we have been able to glean so far. And that is, was any of this information obtained through controversial techniques, such as water- boarding -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you very much, Elaine Quijano.

There is some background on the prosecutor asked to investigate CIA interrogation tactics. John Durham was an assistant U.S. attorney in Connecticut. He was appointed by the Bush administration in 2008 to investigate the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations.

Attorney General Eric Holder says that Durham's already familiar with many of the issues at hand. And, so, he is expanding his mandate to determine if a full-scale criminal probe is warranted.

MALVEAUX: We are seeing big changes in the president's national security policy, even as he vacations on Martha's Vineyard.

Our White House correspondent Dan Lothian is there. And, Dan, tell us about this new special unit that's being created to interrogate suspected terrorists. What do we know?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's being called the HIG unit, the high value detainee interrogation group. This is something President Obama decided to give the green light to after recommendation from a task force.

It will be made up of analysts and other experts in that field and will be housed at the FBI headquarters and led by an official at the FBI. Now, this is a departure from what we saw during the Bush years when it really was the CIA taking the lead in the interrogations of these terror suspects. But the White House making it very clear that the CIA is not being pushed to the sidelines, but that the CIA will still play an important, a vital role in interrogating suspects -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Dan, what do we make of the timing of all of this, this news that he's got this interrogation unit that's come out while the president is vacationing? This is a White House that doesn't do anything that's kind of haphazard or accidentally.

LOTHIAN: That's right.


LOTHIAN: That's right. But it really is unclear about the whole timing of all of this.

What it does do, though, is reinforce the notion that the White House has been really pushing, that it has taken a hands-off approach when it comes to anything with the attorney general, spokesman, Deputy Spokesman Bill Burton, today again pointing out that the president chose the attorney general to be independently minded and that any decisions on who should be investigated and who should be prosecuted are really up to the attorney general -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Dan. Enjoy your break.

Now to the other breaking news we are following in the death of Michael Jackson. A coroner has reached a preliminary conclusion that the singer died of an overdose of the powerful sedative propofol, that according to just released court documents and CNN's looking into an unconfirmed report that the L.A. County coroner has ruled that Jackson's death is a homicide.

The Associated Press is reporting that citing a single law enforcement official. Now, the coroner's office is refusing to comment on that report.

But I want to bring in CNN's Randi Kaye and our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

And, Randi, you're looking through these documents. What are you seeing? What are you following?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm slowly getting through these 32 pages. And I think, Suzanne, it's really important to point out that even though it's now being said according to the preliminary report by the coroner in this affidavit that propofol, lethal doses of propofol were found in his system, we should point out that we don't know if propofol is actually what killed him. We just know that there were lethal doses of it. There may have been some other drugs in his system.

But there is some really interesting information that we haven't heard about the timeline, what was going on in Michael Jackson's rented Beverly Hills mansion the day he died, June 25. Dr. Murray, his personal physician who we know was at the house and really has been the target of this investigation, it seems, he stated that he did leave Michael Jackson's room, went to the bathroom.

He was gone for approximately two minutes and that's when he came back and saw that Michael Jackson wasn't breathing. He started CPR right away. He also said this was not the first time Michael Jackson used propofol. Apparently he told authorities according to this document that as recently as March or April of this year, Michael Jackson called him and asked him to put him in touch with another doctor in Las Vegas, so he could get him to prescribe propofol to him and treat him with that.

Dr. Murray told police that he did exactly that. He went to this other doctor's office and was there while this doctor sedated Michael Jackson using the propofol.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Randi.

And real quickly, Jeff Toobin, former prosecutor, federal prosecutor, what's the case here? What's the potential charges against this doctor? Are we talking negligence, manslaughter, murder? What do you -- how do you see this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, certainly at a minimum, manslaughter. This looks like an investigation for unintentional killing.

They have searched Murray's house. They have searched his office. They have searched the pharmacies. There's no doubt they think Murray is the cause of this death, but can they prove it? This is likely to be a very complex investigation, because it will require examining all of the drugs Michael Jackson was taking, all of the doctors he had access to, and that is likely to be a list that's a lot longer than just Conrad Murray.

MALVEAUX: All right, Jeffrey Toobin, Randi Kaye, thank you so much.

Jack Cafferty is joining us this hour with "The Cafferty File."

Hey, Jack. JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Suzanne, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy should step down now because he can no longer do the job he was elected to do.

Jeff Jacob in a column in "The Boston Globe" points out this is no fault of Kennedy's. The 77-year-old senator is battling brain cancer. The details on his condition have been quiet, but he was too sick to attend the funeral of his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a couple of weeks ago.

Last week, Kennedy sent a letter requesting a change in Massachusetts law that would allow the Democratic governor of that state to name a successor to fill the senator's uncompleted term. This would lock in two Democratic votes in the Senate from Massachusetts, should Kennedy be unable to continue to participate.

The current state law calls for a special election to fill a vacated seat until the term is up, but that could leave the seat unfilled for a time, and that time would likely fall during a crucial vote on health care reform, which, of course, has been one of Kennedy's causes.

In this letter, Senator Kennedy said he wants the state leaders in Massachusetts to change the law and permit a temporary appointment in the interest of the citizens of the state.

Nice try, Senator.

In 2004, the law calling for a vacancy to be filled by someone appointed by the governor was changed at the urging of Kennedy and others. At the time, there was a Republican governor, and Democratic Senator John Kerry was running for president. The move was aimed at preventing a Republican governor from appointing a Republican senator to fill Kerry's seat if he had won the election.

Now the tables have turned. Kennedy wants the law changed back. So, obviously, the senator's not too sick to play some very raw politics.

Here's the question. Is it time for Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy to resign? Go to Post a comment on my blog -- U.S. . MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Jack.

Are ailing veterans being encouraged to plan for their future medical needs or encouraged to end their lives?


JAMES TOWEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE FAITH-BASED OFFICE: It guilt-trips veterans. It makes them feel their life is a burden, not a gift.


MALVEAUX: Details of a controversy unfolding right now over counseling.

Also, killer waves kicked up by Hurricane Bill. We have dramatic images coming in from our iReporters.

And the president's summer vacation challenge, OK, five books and more than 2,300 pages in eight days. New this hour, we will read between the lines of his choices and the titles he left off the list.


MALVEAUX: Military veterans are at the center of a new controversy in the debate over health care reform. Are they forced to face a variation of the so-called death panels as administration critics have called them?

Our Brian Todd is here with THE SITUATION ROOM investigation.

And, Brian, what have you learned?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, this particular controversy focuses on a guide that's posted on the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site. The VA says this manual simply encourages vets to go over every possible scenario with their families, including what to do if they get too sick to make decisions themselves.

Critics say it steers vets to question whether their lives are worth living.


TODD (voice-over): They make up one of the most valued and vulnerable segments of America's population, millions of military veterans, some with debilitating injuries from recent wars, others facing health challenges associated with aging. Now the agency charged with caring for them is accused of steering veterans toward ending their lives if they become too sick.

TOWEY: It guilt-trips veterans. It makes them feel their life is a burden, not a gift.

TODD: Jim Towey, former head of the Bush administration's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, is a harsh critic of a guide on the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site. It's called "Your Life, Your Choices," and counsels vets on how to plan their future medical decisions.

On one page, a fictitious character is quoted as saying, "I would never want to live like a vegetable."

Later, a questionnaire, "What makes your life worth living?" Its scenarios, being in a wheelchair, living in a nursing home, being a severe financial burden on my family. Vets filling it out are offered options to describe those situations from difficult but acceptable to not worth living.

TOWEY: Where is the column that says, yes, I have suffering in my life, but my life's beautiful, I find meaning and purpose, even though I have a disability? When government only asks it in a buildup to life isn't worth living, I think it's wrong.

TODD: Contacted by CNN, the VA couldn't provide someone to speak on camera, but a department official strongly denied that this guide suggests veterans end their lives when they're very sick.

The official points out the guide is being revised, but issued a statement saying, "It's simply an educational resource designed to help veterans deal with excruciating questions about what kind of health care they would like to receive if they're unable to make decisions for themselves."

And as one medical ethicist points out, the VA guide offers opposite scenarios as well.

PAUL WOLPE, EMORY UNIVERSITY CENTER OF ETHICS: It says, you might think you're being a burden when you're not a burden at all. Your family may want to reward your lifetime of love of them and relationship to them by taking care of you in your old age.

TODD: Paul Wolpe and the VA official we spoke with point out that the critic of the VA guide, Jim Towey, has his own manual on how to plan for future medical decisions if you're debilitated. And Towey charges for that.


TODD: Now, when we asked Towey about that, he said his guide is not for profit and he's not pushing his manual over anyone else's. He says the difference here is that the VA guide is a taxpayer-funded document whose principal author is an advocate of assisted suicide.

Now, we checked on that. The lead author of the VA guide, Dr. Robert Perlman, did sign a brief supporting assisted suicide in a Supreme Court case many years ago. When we contacted Perlman, he said the VA had to speak for him on this issue. The VA official said Perlman's part in that Supreme Court case was not necessarily his personal view and that he was simply presenting some clinical findings in that case -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: So, is there a political angle to this controversy?

TODD: Well, Towey claims that this document was kind of suspended during the Bush administration for some of the problems that he said it presented. The VA said, no, that's not the case; this was actually -- this existed during the later years of the Bush administration and it crossed over into the Obama administration. So, they're denying a political bent to this.

MALVEAUX: OK, thank you very much, Brian.

Well, California considers a controversial bill that could allow the early release of thousands of inmates from crowded prisons.

And supermarket boycott. Whole Foods' CEO is accused of betraying the ideals which helped build his chain.

And dramatic pictures off Maine's Acadia National Park, scene of a weekend tragedy blamed on Hurricane Bill.



MALVEAUX: Car dealers are getting a little bit of a reprieve, as the deadline looms for the cash for clunkers program.

Plus, is it fair for state workers to get two paychecks, a salary and a pension? We're following up on a broken government investigation.

And a healthy grocery store becomes a target in the health care reform debate. We will look at the outrage and the politics behind the boycott.


MALVEAUX: The remnants of Hurricane Bill are moving out in the Atlantic Ocean today, but, yesterday, a girl died when a large wave kicked up by the storm swept her and two other people into the Atlantic at Maine's Acadia National Park.

We have new dramatic iReport pictures that tell much of that story.

Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, is joining us to tell us about some of these pictures -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Suzanne, they were taken just in the moments before this huge wave hit at Acadia National Park yesterday, where crowds of thousands of people, including these people here, had been watching the huge waves from Hurricane Bill roll in.

Look at the conditions that they were looking at from the pictures here from Bob Myers, an iReporter who was out there yesterday. If we advance that picture, you can see just how huge these waves were. And it's very hard to make out, but above this swell here, above the spray was a line of hundreds more people along the cliff there.

Bob Myers was there himself. He said that his photos show people dotted along the cliff for about a mile, some of them, you can see here right to the edge of the cliffs watching these conditions. And he said they were just unaware of the danger. The crowd and especially the children, he said, cheered and screamed every time a big wave hit.

But then just after noon yesterday at the national park, a huge wave hit, swept three people out. A 7-year-old, Clio Axilrod, was killed, two other rescued, several others with injuries, broken bones, as they were thrown against the rocks there.

MALVEAUX: It was tragic they didn't realize the danger. Thank you, Abbi.

Here in the U.S., the popular cash for clunkers program ends less than two hours from now. Now, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says as many as 800,000 vehicles will have been sold by the time the reimbursement program ends tonight. And some dealers dropped out early, because they were concerned about getting their money from the federal government or because they ran out of fuel-efficient cars to sell.

Well, after weeks of being giddy over a surge in business, car dealers say they expect to suffer a hangover when sales slump again. There is some good news, however. They have been given extra time, until noon Eastern tomorrow, to file last-minute paperwork.

Here is a controversial way some government employees are improving their personal finances. We have been reporting on the practice of double dipping. That is when you draw a pension and you get a paycheck at the same time. It is apparently more common than you think.

CNN senior correspondent Allan Chernoff is following up on the broken government investigation.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, a joke among Delaware state employees led the state's auditor to check this issue out. People were talking about retiring on Friday and coming back to work on Monday with a pension and a salary. It turns out in many cases, it wasn't a joke.

Delaware's state auditor Tom Wagner investigated to find out just how much the state is paying to double dippers, employees who receive a state pension and a salary at the same time, or two state salaries. The amount is $19 million, all legal, and a chunk of change for the tiny state, more than 1 percent of its payroll at a time when Delaware is trimming jobs and has government employees taking a 2.5 percent pay cut.

TOM WAGNER, DELAWARE STATE AUDITOR: The dollar figures are extremely large. And, you know, times are very tight.

CHERNOFF: Delaware law permits only lawmakers and those appointed to state jobs to collect both a pension and a salary from the state. A dozen state lawmakers are enjoying that double dip. And another dozen lawmakers are pulling two state salaries at the same time. Together, the group accounts for more than a third of the legislature.

(on camera): Does this stuff smell fishy to you?

WAGNER: I -- I would prefer that -- that sometimes things stay too close in-house, you know, when you've been a legislator and then you take high-ranking positions. It -- for many people, it doesn't look good. CHERNOFF: (voice-over): State lawmakers typically have a second job. But working for the state, critics say, can raise conflict of interest questions. Among the state institutions that employ lawmakers is Delaware's well-financed community college.

(on camera): Two state lawmakers also pull full-time salaries from executive positions here, at Delaware Technical and Community College. They also happen to sit on the finance committee that determines the college's budget.

(voice-over): State senator and acting dean of student services, Margaret Rose Henry, earns a total of $149,000 for her two jobs. She had no comment. Representative Larry Mitchell, chief of security at the college, who earns a total of $100,000, told CNN in a statement: "A lot of my time is committed to public service and I have no qualms collecting two paychecks."

The de facto chief law enforcement official in Delaware is a double dipper. Richard Gebelein, a retired judge and former attorney general, is now running the office again, while Attorney General Bo Biden, the vice president's son, serves in Iraq. But Gebelein points out his situation is not typical for double dippers because he took a pay cut.

(on camera): It's a good system?

Is that efficient for the taxpayers?

RICHARD GEBELEIN, DELAWARE CHIEF DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think it's efficient, yes. When the attorney general asked me to do this job, I had to consider that it would cost me a lot of money to come do this job.


CHERNOFF: Gebelein is making about $40,000 less than he did as a judge in Delaware. In some cases, retirees coming back to work can actually save taxpayers money -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Allan.

Now to a food fight pitting liberals against a grocery store that they helped make a success. We are talking about Whole Foods. It is now the target of a boycott because its chief executive weighed in about health care reform.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick is looking into it -- Deb?


You know, it is such a sensitive topic, many health reform advocates really feel betrayed.


FEYERICK: (voice-over): Many who shop at Whole Foods say it's easy to justify spending a little extra money to feel you're staying healthy and maybe living longer.

So why are so many people so upset?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boycott Whole Foods.

FEYERICK: Price isn't the problem. At issue is an editorial appearing on "The Wall Street Journal's" conservative opinion page written by Whole Foods chief executive officer, John Mackey. He argues universal health care is no more a right than food or shelter.

MARK ROSENTHAL, ACTIVIST: This is about a CEO using one of the most progressive brands in this country to murder any discussion of health care reform and health insurance reform.

FEYERICK: Among Mackey's suggestions -- deregulation, Medicare reform and allowing higher deductibles -- positions similarly advocated by John McCain, Newt Gingrich and conservative groups.

Mark Rosenthal is a playwright, activist and former Whole Foods loyalist. Using Facebook, Twitter and other social media, he has recruited some 26,000 people to boycott Whole Foods, saying the CEO has betrayed the ideals which helped build the health food chain.

(on camera): There are a lot of Democrats who shop here, there are a lot of Republicans who shop there.

ROSENTHAL: It's not about Democrat or Republican. It's not about conservative or liberal. It's about a brand that has built up by progressive dollars being used as a Trojan horse for some of the most discredited lies that we have poisoning this debate on health care right now -- lies about deregulation, lies about people who are sick not taking personal responsibility.

FEYERICK: (voice-over): Whole Foods provided a statement saying the chain "has no official company wide position on the health care reform issue" and that the CEO was, "expressing his own viewpoints and providing constructive ideas to support reform, as President Obama invited America to do."

So how badly will the boycott hurt sales, if at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just not supporting him with my dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wouldn't stop me from -- from buying. You know, people are allowed their own opinions and the CEO or the little guy, you know, you're allowed your opinion.


FEYERICK: Now, Rosenthal is not organizing the protest, per se. He says people who want to make a difference really should hand out copies of John Mackey's editorial at Whole Foods stores, get the word out, let shoppers make up their minds and then vote with their wallets -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Deb.

Well, the Justice Department announces an investigation of CIA terror investigations, but will it help or hurt President Obama?

Plus, the five books President Obama took on vacation -- what are they and what they reveal. We're going to take a political timeout.


MALVEAUX: More on the breaking news we are following this hour. Attorney General Eric Holder appointing a prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogations of terror suspects.

Joining us to talk about that and much, much more, CNN's senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; former Bush speechwriter, David Frum of the American Enterprise Institute; and CNN senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

But first, let's go to CNN national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin to kick off all of this -- Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, Attorney General Eric Holder is part of the Obama inner circle. The president trusts him so much that, remember, as candidate, Obama put Holder on his vice presidential vetting team, which makes today's news all the more noteworthy.

The attorney general is going his own way on possible CIA prosecutions. He's requesting that one of his prosecutors examine techniques used during CIA interrogations to see if any laws were broken. Well, President Obama has repeatedly said he doesn't want that, he really just wants to move on.

Listen to him on ABC's "This Week" when President Obama was asked if a special prosecutor would be appointed.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.


YELLIN: Today, the White House made clear the president still feels the same way and Eric Holder made his own decision on this. In truth, Holder works for the people, not the president, as the attorney general. The question today is this -- is Holder breaking with the White House or, to quote the president, is the media just getting all wee-weed up over this -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: I'm going to let Gloria handle that.


MALVEAUX: The terminology -- wee-weed and everything.

BORGER: Thank you, Suzanne.

Thank you so much.

MALVEAUX: Why don't you start with this?

BORGER: Well, I think we get wee-weed up over a lot of things, but we would have to ask the president about that. I do think, however, that, you know, much more seriously, sometimes it's very convenient to have an attorney general whom you can say is independent from you, because this is a very, very difficult political decision that the president would have to make. And that is, the American public is very conflicted over what you do with people who may have broken laws in terms of potentially torturing people post 9/11.

So the president says, look, let's leave it up to the attorney general, he's independent, he's got to consider the rule of law -- not in my little brown bag. It's his.

MALVEAUX: How much of this is a joint decision between the two?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: I don't know, but it's a -- it's a terrible decision. It's just awful. It's just striking a match and throwing it into the powder magazine of American politics.

I mean, you want to have an internal investigation into exactly what happened and then make policy recommendations and make decisions about how you want to do this in future and take -- take the risk that maybe the Bush people went too far and we're prepared to take the risk of not going far enough, fine. You won the election. You get to do it what -- your way. You're in charge of national security.

But to sic a legal process on the people who spent the past half decade trying to keep the country safe is -- it's an outrage. It's just appalling. And, you know...

BORGER: Is that why he's distancing himself from it, though?

FRUM: know, Robert Baer wrote a fantastic memoir of his time in the CIA, which includes what it -- this was back in the Clinton years -- what happens when they sic the prosecutors on you. This is no way to run a national security system and it will start a conflagration (INAUDIBLE)...


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's why there was such a raging debate on Capitol Hill about this -- should they, shouldn't they -- even among Democrats, about whether this is the right thing to do, both in terms of the politics and the policy of this.

Already, of course, we've seen a slew of statements from leading Republicans saying that this would put, as you were, I think, trying to say, a chilling effect on the interrogations going forward and on, you know, this is the war against terror -- to use a former term -- in the future.

But on the other side, you have liberal Democrats who have been pushing for this for so long saying you've got to look back, you can't just, you know, move forward without taking some look at what happened and who was responsible.

So liberal groups are applauding this.

MALVEAUX: Well, Gloria, how much of this is a distraction for the Obama administration, when -- when this all comes out in the wash, whatever way it comes out?

BORGER: Well, you know, it -- it is a distraction. It's a very, very important issue, obviously. And I think what it does is there's -- you know, there's dissent within the administration that's very clear here. You know, you have the CIA director, who's trying to improve morale at the CIA, who was against the release of Justice Department memos, who clearly doesn't want prosecutions of CIA officers. And so now he's got to contend with this and he's got to run an agency.

So I think, you know, if there's something we ought to be looking at, we ought to be looking at how that works itself out in the administration, if it does.


MALVEAUX: And how does that work out, though?

I mean you've got CIA interrogators.

What do they do now?

They're all like using the Army Field Manual. But in speaking with a former homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, she said that they might be kind of reticent about doing much of anything.

FRUM: They're going to make sure that they all know lawyers. And they are going to -- they are going to be discouraged from entering it. I mean we can hope that there's still an off wrap from this decision. I mean it is possible for the -- the new appointee to look at this and say, I am not going to do this in a legalistic way, I'm not bringing charges. And maybe that should be the preliminary -- the first announcement.

MALVEAUX: All right. And -- OK. We've got to...


MALVEAUX: We've got to wrap it there.

BASH: Thanks.

MALVEAUX: And we'll take you, Dana, on the other end of the break.

The five books for President Obama -- the ones that he took on vacation -- it is an ambitious and possibly revealing reading list.


MALVEAUX: President Obama's vacation reading list.

We are back with Gloria Borger, David Frum and Dana Bash, and CNN national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin -- Jessica, take it away.

YELLIN: Suzanne, today we know President Obama played golf and tennis. He spent some time with his family -- all on vacation. Now, we're also told he'll pick up a book or two -- or five. That's according to the White House, who -- which also just released his reading list.

What's on it?

A thriller by George Pelecanos. You'll know he was a writer for "The Wire," very popular in Washington, D.C. And "The Wire" is one of the president's favorite TV shows.

Thomas Friedman's newest release, "Hot, Flat and Crowded," is also on there. It's about the world's energy needs.

Then the popular biography, "John Adams," which was recently an HBO mini-series.

Who didn't TiVo that?

And then two novels, "Plain Song," set in a small Colorado town, and "Lush Life," a novel set in a big city, to balance it out.

Now, according to our calculations, that's over 2,000 pages of reading, which means he'd have to read about 300 pages a day. That's heavy lifting for a guy who wants to relax on vacation.

Also, there's not a single female author on the list. But that's not our question.

Here's our question.

What should have made the list and why -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: OK. Dana, you start off.

That's a lot of reading.

BASH: That is a lot of reading. You know, I mean, and, look, I mean reading does relax a lot of people. It relaxes me.

I'm sure it relaxes most of you.

But I think maybe I'll answer both Jessica's question and that question at the same time, meaning what should he read and the issue of a female author not being on there.

I was just looking on and I noticed that the boxed set of "Between Daughters" -- excuse me, of "Between" (INAUDIBLE) sort of, you know, saga...


BASH: "Twilight."


BASH: that's what I'm trying to say.

MALVEAUX: Twilight.


BASH: He can talk to his daughters about "Twilight." It's on sale for $49.80 and guess what?

It's written by a woman, Stephanie Myer, so that's...

MALVEAUX: OK. There you go.

BASH: -- that's one potential for him.

MALVEAUX: All right.

FRUM: Well, releasing these kind of lists is the kind of thing that the old saying makes 10 malcontents and one ingrate for every person listed. I mean, there are a lot of other newspaper columnists who want to know why didn't the president -- what's Tom Freidman got that I got?

Why doesn't the president feel a need to flatter me?

The president should have -- should have taken and should read and it's not too late. He can read it back in Washington.

My AEI colleague, Larry Lindsey's book, "What Every President Should Know, But Two -- But Few Learn Until It Is Too Late," because he is making a lot of the mistakes that Larry Lindsey warns against, including, by the way, disregarding the advice of people like Larry Lindsey about how much things are going to cost, whether it's Iraq or health care.


BORGER: First of all, does this list look focus grouped?


BORGER: It's about the environment...


BORGER: It's about the environment, a popular thriller, a popular biography, a popular author on (INAUDIBLE)...


MALVEAUX: Urban America, rural America.

BORGER: We've got the whole red state/blue state thing covered and the only thing we're missing is young women, but they don't vote yet, so...

FRUM: And where are the Latinos?

BORGER: Right. Well, there you are.

But I think he should read Dale Carnegie, don't you think?


BORGER: "How To Win Friends and Influence People," because right now, when he comes back to Washington, obviously, he's going to have a huge health care problem on his hands. So he could do that.

But I must say, I doubt if he's having a good time and relaxing, I get -- he's going to get through the list.

MALVEAUX: And what do you make -- is it going to -- are we going to see those as top sellers, number one, like Oprah Winfrey gives the blessing and that's what everybody starts reading?

BASH: Yes. That's one thing, this does not look like Oprah's Book Club choices. No. For sure.


BASH: But maybe...


BASH: You know, maybe it would -- it could bump his sales -- the sales of these books.

But one thing I did notice that was interesting is that one of the books he is reading, "John Adams," which, in many ways, is kind of a -- a requisite for a president to read about his predecessors -- it was written by David McCollum, who is a resident of Martha's Vineyard. So, again, not an accident, I don't think.

BORGER: Right.

MALVEAUX: Any other recommendations for the president?

BORGER: I don't know. I'm -- I'm sticking to my Dale Carnegie.


FRUM: I don't think he -- I'm not sure if he'd like him.

BORGER: But all I can...

MALVEAUX: Well, I -- I don't think we're all placing bets here on how many books he's going to get through.

BORGER: All I can say is that if he were Ronald Reagan and spent 500 days on vacation, he might have had a lot more time to write them -- to read these books. But this is just one week for this man. He ought to just relax.

BASH: Rest and relax. I think it's...

FRUM: Second term. Second term.


MALVEAUX: All right, thanks, guys.


Did you just say Obama is going to have a second term?


MALVEAUX: OK. We've got to leave it there.

BASH: (INAUDIBLE) his second term.

MALVEAUX: Jack Cafferty joining us again -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Suzanne: Is it time for Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy to resign?

That's based on a column that was in "The Boston Globe" this morning, suggesting that, in fact, it is time.

Albert in Los Angeles writes: "It's -- is this some kind of double standard? George Bush and Sarah Palin were never truly able to do the jobs they were elected to do. Ted Kennedy could be brain dead and do a better job than either of those two."

Ben in Massachusetts says: "Sad to say, the senator should have stepped down several months ago, when it became clear his health would prevent his fulfilling his duties in the Senate. There could have been a special election this fall and a new senator by the time that the health care vote comes along."

Jason writes: "Can we say term limits? If they weren't so worried about getting reelected, they actually might vote with a clear head and make one or two intelligent choices on behalf of the rest of us. Anytime a legislator needs to purchase a home in or around D.C. because it's become their permanent home, it's time for them to leave."

Annie in Atlanta writes: "It sounds like he may be getting his ducks in a row to do just that. And why shouldn't he play raw politics for a lifelong cause? What's left of the Republican Party certainly has convened its army of mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers to scream against our butts in favor of corporate profit at any cost. Game on."

Jackie in Dallas says: "This is not our decision to make. Senator Kennedy's constituents have voted him into that office consistently for nine terms. He's noted for his ability to work with Republicans and to craft bills -- more than 300 that have passed and become law. If nothing else, his advice should be sought on a variety of issues."

And Jack writes from Nice, California: "I have all the respect in the world for Ted Kennedy. But the shape this country is in, I think it would be a good time for everybody in Congress and the Senate to resign."

I think you might be onto something.

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours there among hundreds of others -- Suzanne, this has been so much fun, I think, we should do it again tomorrow.

What do you think?

MALVEAUX: And we're going to do it again tomorrow, Jack.


MALVEAUX: And again and again and again.

CAFFERTY: Until we get it right.

MALVEAUX: OK. Right. Thanks.

There are hand-me-downs and then there are hand-me-downs. If the shoe or the suit fits, you can now raid your favorite TV anchor's closet. CNN's Jeanne Moos will be along to tell us about a "Moost Unusual" Web site.

And a blue suit among many monks -- just one of the images ahead in today's Hot Shots.


MALVEAUX: Here's a look at today's "Hot Shots."

In Ukraine, men dressed in traditional suits watch an independence parade.

In Brazil, a policeman kicks over a barricade during a protest.

In Siberia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev poses for a picture of a Buddhist monastery.

And in Mary Landrieu, two members of our SITUATION ROOM team team up and get married. Yes, that's the new Mr. and Mrs. Howard and Lydia Lutz. We wish them the very best.


"Hot Shots" -- pictures worth a thousand words.

Well, if you really like what I'm wearing or perhaps what Jack Cafferty is wearing, perhaps someday you could be wearing it, too.

CNN's Jeanne Moos has found a Moost Unusual hand-me-down Web site.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Want to wear what they're wearing?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Darlene.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey there, Mac (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Felicia Garozzo (ph) joins us live from Miami.

MOOS: You can dress like a TV anchor for peanuts at

JOLENE DEVITO, TALENT DYNAMICS: Send us your gently worn TV clothes and accessories.

MOOS: Most TV anchors, like CNN's Kiran Chetry, have them -- castaways in the closet.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Let me show you what's been rejected.

MOOS (on camera): Someone told you not to wear this?

CHETRY: Yes. So that's why it's up here.

MOOS: Your boss?

CHETRY: Yes. But I shall not reveal names.

DEVITO: Maybe you're out in a business here like me. And maybe it doesn't fit and you don't like it.

MOOS: TV people send in, say, this turquoise jacket and dress. The Web site sells it for $30 and splits the proceeds with the owner. The names of the owners aren't specified, though a certain morning anchor in the Southwest seems to be cleaning out her closet, selling several items.

(on camera): Anchors come in all sizes, right? DEVITO: Anchors do come in all sizes.

MOOS: But don't they come in mainly small?

DEVITO: Oh, we have an abundance of small sizes right now.

MOOS (voice-over): Jolene DeVito was on air for 15 years. Now she's running a Web site through a talent recruiting and coaching outfit called Talent Dynamics.

DEVITO: Definitely give this away. I can't wear shiny.

MOOS: The site also sells items for men and not Ron Burgundy (ph) stuff. Take this custom made suit from a primary anchor in a top five market. Most of the clothing isn't designer. Though Kiran hasn't yet sent anything, she's got plenty of rejects.

CHETRY: Here we go, the piece de resistance.

MOOS (on camera): This is maternity?

CHETRY: The last stick (ph) equals maternity.

MOOS: You do need maternity stuff?

DEVITO: Absolutely.

MOOS (voice-over): The idea is to sell the hand-me-downs to local TV people who can't afford expensive clothing. Of course, maybe you wouldn't want some of the TV clothing once you find out where it's been.


MOOS: Take the orange top that CNN's Deb Feyerick wore to help deliver a calf.

FEYERICK: Oh my gosh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's beautiful.


I wasted no time getting it dry cleaned.

DEVITO: Sent it our way.

MOOS: It's the first of a Web site.

Jeanne Moos, CNN...

(on camera): I'm just never in an anchor's closet.

(voice-over): ...New York.


We want you to check out our political podcast. To get the best political team to go, subscribe at

I'm Suzanne Malveaux in THE SITUATION ROOM.


Kitty Pilgrim is sitting in for Lou -- Kitty.